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Judy of York Hill
by Ethel Hume Patterson Bennett
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There was Rosamond, for instance, whom Judith had at first regarded with mild contempt because she was greedy, but Rosamond, she found out, was aware of her besetting sin and this Lenten season was disciplining herself strictly, and no one could be more sympathetic if one were in trouble than the same Rosamond; and there was Joyce Hewson whom Judith had thought proud, but who seemed unapproachable because she was really shy and very conscious of her unusual height; and then there was Florence Newman who had seemed at the beginning of the term so unresponsive and dull. Florence and Josephine had become friends, drawn together by love for their far-away Western homes, and dropping into Florence's room one day with Josephine, Judith had been entranced by the tales of mountain climbing and hunting which Florence had to tell. Florence had scarcely seen a girl of her own age until she dropped suddenly into the hurly-burly of York Hill, and it was no wonder that a painful shyness had made her seem ungracious and almost rude. She simply hadn't known how to meet the advances of these kind, jolly girls.

And then there was Miss Ashwell. Miss Ashwell had slipped on the ice a couple of months before and had sprained her ankle so badly that, although she was able now to get up and down to the studio, she walked slowly and with a cane. Judith got into the way of knocking at Miss Ashwell's door after lunch to see if she could do any errand for her. Sometimes she carried her books up to the studio, or ran downstairs to see if there were any word of the model who was to come for the two-thirty class, and sometimes she went in and sat in Miss Ashwell's comfortable chair and felt rested and happy, for Miss Ashwell seemed to possess some curious secret of healing.

Judith was a beauty-lover, and if any one had asked her why she liked Miss Ashwell, she would probably have replied promptly, "Because she is so pretty." Miss Ashwell was pretty, with her clear blue eyes, gold-brown hair, and a skin so fair and soft, that it made one think of apple-blossoms; and she had charm, that indefinable something, which like a magnet drew others to her.

The week after the miserable dinner-party was rainy and cold, and something of the grey dulness out-of-doors seemed to have penetrated within. For Judith, at least, the mornings dragged heavily; everything seemed to have lost its flavour. At recess she would look over at Nancy, who seemed to be having a jolly time with Sally May and Joyce, and want to join them and laugh, too. There wasn't any reason in the world why she shouldn't do so except the nasty little spirit which had taken possession of her. But she hardened her heart—and was quite miserable in consequence.

Towards the end of the week, one day after lunch she stood hesitating for a moment at the head of the stairs. Should she go down to the "Jolly Susan," or visit with Florence or Miss Ashwell. The thought of Miss Ashwell was comforting, her room was the "homiest" place Judith knew, so she tapped at the door of the pleasant little brown room at the end of the corridor.

Miss Ashwell was knitting to-day. She was nearly always knitting for some one else, thought Judith, as she idly watched the needles flashing. Knitting made her think of Red Cross work, and that led straight to the awful thought of a Current Events test shortly coming off. While they were to be examined on the whole term's work, part of the test was the writing of an essay on a subject chosen from a list of three. Judith had decided to write on "Red Cross Work in Italy." Her father's brother, Brian, was a brilliant engineer who had been loaned to Italy by the British Government, and Judith naturally knew more about the war in Italy than anywhere else. She would have to get Uncle Brian's letters out and piece together the bits of information he had given her. She and her father had read several magazine articles last summer, but she couldn't even remember what magazines they were. Oh, dear, what a lot of work it would be! How tired she was! If she could just stay here and sleep all afternoon! She heaved a big gusty sigh. Miss Ashwell looked up quickly.

"What's wrong, Judy, dear?" Miss Ashwell never seemed to be in a hurry herself, a miraculous achievement at York Hill. Judith told her tale of woe, sure of sympathy.

Miss Ashwell seemed even more interested than usual.

"I believe I can help you, Judy," she said, her cheeks flushing; "just hand me my despatch-case from the table." She opened it and took out snapshots, pictures cut from magazines, and several descriptive articles dealing with the subject in hand.

Judith looked her amazement. It seemed almost too good to be true. Miss Ashwell smiled and her cheeks grew pinker than ever.

"I'm especially interested in Italian work, Judy—because I had a friend out there during the war. He sent me these snapshots. I'll show them to you now and you may take the magazine articles with you. The Red Cross did such magnificent work there that I don't wonder Miss Kingston chose that as one of your subjects."

"Oh, Miss Ashwell, it's just like the manna in the wilderness," gasped Judith,—"I mean I'm so grateful," she explained incoherently, "although the Jews were not always properly grateful, were they? But I am. I didn't see how I could hunt up all those references with all I have to do."

Miss Ashwell showed her the pictures, but Judith's mind was divided between interest at the skilful ways in which difficulties of transit in the mountains had been overcome and interest in Miss Ashwell. Was it possible that Miss Ashwell was interested in a soldier-man the way girls were? Of course, she wasn't so very old, perhaps twenty-two, and as Judith ran off with her treasure she kept saying to herself, "Wouldn't it be funny—he looks awfully nice in the snaps—she's a perfect dear, anyway, and I'll get at that Current Events prep. right away."

Next day Miss Marlowe handed back the "Jessica" essays to her Five A class in English composition. Five A looked glum as they read their marks and the somewhat caustic comments written in their exercise books. Judith flushed as she read: "Neatly and carefully written, Judith, but hardly interesting. You were not asked to give a resume of the play, but a character sketch of Jessica. What do you know about Jessica now that you didn't know before you wrote your essay? How have you enlarged your knowledge of human nature?"

How, indeed? Judith felt distinctly aggrieved. What impossibly hard things Miss Marlowe expected them to do! She had worked hard over that essay and had looked for a little praise, but instead here was Miss Marlowe thumping the desk and telling them they never used their brains. Five A sat at attention. Miss Marlowe, indignant, was apt to be interesting, but no one desired to be the luckless offender against whom her Irish wit might be directed.

She gave them a lively two minutes on the foolishness of not using the brains they had, and then came down to the subject in hand.

"You didn't try to understand Jessica; you knew that her conduct was unfilial, to say the least, and don't imagine that I am forgetting the wrong things she did, or that I want you to approve of her. I don't, but I do want you to try to understand. That's just the reason why you were assigned this lesson. Only one of you made the effort to re-create Shylock's home. Read your essay, Florence, please."

The class looked surprised as Florence, white with shyness, began to read, falteringly at first and then more convincingly. Every one, with the exception perhaps of Judith, was surprised at the excellence of the essay. Florence Newman, that quiet, shy, stiff, little thing! They had expected that Joyce or Phyllis or Judith, or even Frances, would be held up to them as models, but not Florence.

"Run down to the common room, Nancy. You're nearest the door; and bring me Lamb's 'Life and Letters,' a big red book lying on my table." And then, turning to the class, "Now, never mind about Jessica, though I hope you see the difference between your way of approach and Florence's, but remember this, it's far, far easier to criticize, to judge, and to condemn, than it is to sympathize and to understand; it's the little people of the world who do the judging; it's the big people who do the understanding.

"Thank you, Nancy. Now listen to the words of a wise woman, Mary Lamb. What do you know about Mary Lamb, Frances? Yes, she wrote many of the 'Tales from Shakespeare,' and she lived with her brother Charles and was his greatest friend, and the friend of his friends. She is writing to a friend of hers who has been confessing to actions which Mary might just as easily have condemned as you condemned Jessica's. But this is what she writes:

You will smile when I tell you I think myself the only woman in the world who could live with a brother's wife and make a real friend of her—partly from a knack I know I have of looking into people's real characters and never expecting them to act out of it. Never expecting another to do as I would in the same case. I do not expect you or want you to be otherwise than you are. I love you for the good that is in you.

"There's wisdom," concluded Miss Marlowe, "and next time you find yourselves saying, 'I wouldn't have been so mean or horrid or selfish,' just ask yourself, how do you know you wouldn't, and what has that got to do with it, and what do you know about it, anyway? Are you showing sympathetic insight or merely conceit? You'll meet plenty of Jessicas who are easier to condemn than to understand. Don't lose your friends by a lack of loving understanding. Be grateful for them; they are your most precious possessions. Love them for the best that is in them.

"There, that's a longer sermon than usual. Take your pens now and write that sentence from Mary Lamb's letter at the bottom of your essay, and after I have dictated it make your corrections and jot down the new things about Jessica that you haven't noted before."

Five A heaved a sigh of relief. Miss Marlowe was through with them once more. There was the usual clattering of inkwells and requests for new pens, and then Miss Marlowe went to her desk, and according to custom one by one the class brought up their books to receive her suggestions and criticisms.

Judith wrote her corrections mechanically and slowly, but her mind was working swiftly. That's what she had been doing, judging Nancy, saying, 'I wouldn't have done it'; criticizing, not trying to understand, and she had judged herself, condemned herself to do without Nancy and the precious possession of Nancy's friendship. Darling Nancy! She might have been loving her all this time for the good in her, her sweetness, her unfailing kindness, her absolute squareness, her dearness.

Judith's eyes were shining as she carried up her book to Miss Marlowe, and the fervency with which she said, "Thank you," when Miss Marlowe had finished her criticism, brought a happy smile to Miss Marlowe's own eyes.

"That child's got the idea," she said to herself; "Well, if one seed falls into good ground it's worth while—splendidly worth while."

The recess bell rang and Five A lost no time filing out to the corridor and thence to tuck shop and gymnasium, but Judith was delayed by her duties as monitress and Nancy was not to be seen when she reached the corridor. Down to the tuck shop sped Judith.

"Seen Nancy?" she asked Jane who was rapidly consuming two large buns and an ice-cream cone.

"Gone up to her room, I think," said Jane.

Upstairs fled Judith without waiting for permission and found Nancy just leaving the "Jolly Susan."

"Oh, Nancy, I have been hunting for you everywhere."

"Oh, Judy, I was just looking for you. After what Miss Marlowe said—about our friends—I didn't want to wait another minute feeling that you were still angry with me. Do tell me what I did and let me tell you how sorry I am."

"And I was looking for you, Nancy, dear—to tell you how horrid I'd been. It was just a little thing not worth mentioning now, but I didn't wait to try to understand. Oh, Nancy, I've missed you so!"

And they kissed and were friends.

"I wouldn't teach English composition for all the world," said Miss Hilton, eyeing the big pile of sixth-form books which Miss Marlowe was attacking late that evening.

"And I wouldn't take all the world not to teach English composition," retorted Miss Marlowe proudly. "Besides," she added with true Irish lucidity, "it isn't English composition I'm teaching. It's Life, and it's the biggest job in the world."



CHAPTER XII

EASTER HOLIDAYS

THE last two weeks of the Easter term were a long and a hard pull. Some of the girls were spurred to study by a remembrance of the reception of the Christmas report at home; father's sarcastic remarks, and mother's distress. In Five A, which was considered a good working form, competition was very keen, and most of the form were putting forth their best efforts to stand high in the term's examination lists. Judith coveted a first place in English literature, partly because of the joy of triumphing, partly because of the pleasure her success would give her parents, and partly because she wanted to show Miss Marlowe how much she had appreciated her classes.

This term-end there was no distracting play to interfere with studying, and Judith had a chance to do her best. She tried to look unconcerned when on breaking-up day Form Five A stood up in Big Hall while Miss Meredith read their general proficiency list. "First, Joyce Hewson; Second, Judith Benson." There was such a buzzing in Judith's ears that she didn't hear the next few names. Second! Wouldn't Daddy be pleased! Nancy squeezed her hand. Dear Nancy! and she wasn't even listening to hear where Nancy was placed. "Tenth, Nancy Nairn," read Miss Meredith.

"Bully for you and pretty good for me," said Nancy when they had led out of Hall.

"Congrats., Judy," said Phyllis heartily. "Joyce had better watch out next term."

Judith glowed—fancy being ahead of Phyllis. There was a crowd around the bulletin board: "The subject lists," said Phyllis excitedly, and she and Judith fairly ran down the corridor and eagerly scanned the board. "Five A, English Literature, 1. Judith Benson, Phyllis Lovell, equal. 2. Joyce Hewson." No need to congratulate each other, but you may be sure they did.

"It is nice to get what one wants," philosophized a very happy Judith as she finished packing her suitcase. "I wonder if anything is nicer."

Aunt Nell had sent her a little note the day before telling her to ask several of the girls to tea who were staying in school for the holidays. "The first afternoon is a horrid time for the girls who are left in," she wrote; "perhaps we can save a few of them from homesickness. I'll come for you in the car at two-thirty."

Judith had a delightful time choosing her guests; Josephine and Sally May, of course—Nancy had gone home—and Florence and Joyce; but what about Genevieve Singleton? Judith knew that Genevieve was disappointed about an expected invitation for Easter week, for she had been loud in her lamentations. "I'd better ask her," thought Judith; "she doesn't know that I played detective, and she's sure to feel badly when she sees the others going; her pride'll be hurt."

So Genevieve was invited, and it was a merry little party that gathered in the front hall. They weren't going very far, to be sure, but they were going away anyhow, if it was only for the afternoon. Aunt Nell took them for a run through the park and out into the country before they went home for tea.

They had a jolly tea-party; Aunt Nell poured tea for them, supplied them with plenty of toast and muffins, sandwiches and cake, and then very soon vanished.

"I knew they would talk more freely if I were not there," she said afterwards to Judith, "and unless things have changed very much since I was at York, I can give a pretty good guess as to what you talked about. Confess now," as Judith blushed a little under Aunt Nell's laughing quizzical eyes, "didn't you discuss every teacher on the staff from the cut of her Sunday coat to the cut of her Monday temper? Of course you did."

And of course they had. Genevieve convulsed them by a dramatic representation of a stormy scene between herself and Madame Philippe; then Miss Evans's new evening frock, Miss Marlowe's incomprehensible taste in preferring Jane Austen to Dickens, Miss Langton's terrifying sarcasm, Miss Ashwell's sweet new sweater coat, all were discussed with an enormous amount of interest and delight.

Next day life was "flat, stale, and unprofitable." Judith didn't realize how tired she was; mentally and emotionally she had been keyed up to a very high pitch during the last two or three months and now had come the inevitable reaction. No wonder she was dull and miserable. But next morning the sun was shining brightly, there was a fresh, clean-washed feeling in the air, and as Judith stood at the open casement window in the dining-room waiting for the others to come down to breakfast, she saw to her joy that the maple trees in the garden were beginning to put out their tiny red flowers. Was spring really coming after all this dismal weather? Judith's spirits went up with a bound. Oh, if summer were only here and one could stay out-of-doors!

The others came in to breakfast; Uncle Tom buried himself in his newspaper and ate at intervals; Doris, as pretty as a picture in her pink gingham frock, began a long monologue about a dolls' tea-party she had had in a dream last night; Bobby busied himself with his porridge; Aunt Nell cooked the eggs in a little electric grill; and Judith found she had plenty to do attending to the electric toaster and her porridge at the same time. Usually Lizzie brought in a plate of hot toast and then some one at the table made additional pieces on the toaster, but this morning there was no supply to begin with.

Judith chatted happily about the plans for the week: Aunt Nell mustn't forget that she had promised to take her to do her spring shopping; Daddy had sent a cheque; she did hope there would be a letter from Nancy this morning saying that she could come for the last week-end; and did Aunt Nell remember, too, that she had invited Miss Ashwell for dinner on Thursday? Judith noticed that Aunt Nell's smile was somewhat forced. Was anything wrong? Didn't Aunt Nell want Nancy, after all? How dreadful! She would have to ask her after breakfast.

Uncle Tom finished his breakfast with a rush and then, gathering up letters and papers, made for the hall. Aunt Nell, Bobby, and Doris were kissed good-bye, and he was gone with a great banging of doors.

Aunt Nell came back rather slowly into the dining-room, folded up Uncle Tom's table napkin, pushed back Bobby's chair and then said tersely, "Lizzie has gone."

"Gone!" said Judith stupidly; "gone where?"

"I don't know that I care very much where," said Aunt Nell; "the point is that she has gone. She gave me notice a week ago, and I've been trying desperately hard ever since to get some one else, but I've had no answers to advertisements. Lizzie just sent a note saying that she had decided to get married at once and that she and 'her friend' had gone to Buffalo for the holiday and she wouldn't be coming back here. I did think she'd stay her month, at least, after all the time she's been here—but I suppose he had a holiday and overpersuaded her. I don't feel that virtue has been rewarded either," she added ruefully, "for if I hadn't given her all of Easter Monday for herself she might be here to wash the breakfast dishes, instead of which you and I must do them."

"Instead of which I'll do them Aunt Nell," Judith said laughingly. "Dishes aren't anything. Come on, Doris, let's see how quickly we can do them. Don't worry, Aunt Nell. I'm not Lizzie, of course, but I'm just spoiling for something to do." And she gave Aunt Nell a reassuring hug and kiss.

"You're a little brick, Judy—of course we'll manage. I'll 'phone for Mrs. Webster to come this morning instead of this afternoon to look after Hugh, and then you and I can do the rest."

But alack! Mrs. Webster's sister answered the 'phone—she was very sorry, her sister was in bed with tonsillitis and she had just sent for the doctor—it would be a week or two, anyway, before she could come back to look after the baby.

Here was news, indeed—Bobby and Hugh were work enough for one person at any time. Baby Hugh had a cold, and was cross and fretful because a certain tooth was reluctant about making its first appearance.

They had a busy day. Aunt Nell went out in the afternoon to try her luck at various employment agencies and Judith took the children for a walk. She rather enjoyed it at first, but after three-year-old Bobby had demanded the repetition of the story of "The Three Bears" for the sixth time, and had fiercely resented the changing of a phrase with "Dat's not in the tory," Judith began to feel tired and cross.

Doris was very little trouble, for she was, as usual, entirely engrossed in an endless game of her own invention. She furnished each house they passed with a large family and gave every member a name and occupation: thus the big white house at the corner where Judge Wilton lived was peopled in Doris's imagination with Mr. and Mrs. Black and their eight children, Mary and Martha, Robert and Thomas, Geoffrey and Susan, Billy and Minnie. Judith could hear her describing them. "Mary is a cook, she writes nice letters and makes lemon pies; Martha is a nice girl, she has yellow hair and blue eyes; Robert is tall and strong, he is a coachman and squints with his left eye"; and so on and so on. A few families of this size absorbed Doris's attention for hours at a time.

Judith took most comfort out of Baby Hugh; he was so sweet and so kissable, his eyes so blue and his cheeks so like wild roses that sometimes Judith felt that she would just have to take a little bite out of the adorable crease at the back of his neck.

The first of the precious two holiday weeks was gone before either Aunt Nell or Judith had accomplished any of the things they had meant to do, and the good times, especially Nancy's visit, which Judith had looked forward to with such pleasure, seemed to have vanished into thin air.

There was no doubt that Aunt Nell needed her, for there was endless dusting and dishwashing to do, and some one always had to be with the children.

Judith was making gravy one evening—a task she detested—when Uncle Tom came into the kitchen looking particularly pleased with himself.

"You're late, dear," was Aunt Nell's greeting; "please hurry; I haven't had time to give Bobby his supper, he'll have to have it with us, and I'm afraid Baby isn't asleep yet."

"Hurrah, hurrah!" said Uncle Tom—very irrelevantly, Judith thought indignantly; gravy-making time was no occasion for being funny, but Uncle Tom was like that, you never knew.

"It takes a man to tackle a job," said Uncle Tom complacently as he carved the roast—"you wouldn't let me wait to tell you some good news I had brought home. Perhaps we'd better wait now until dinner is over," he continued. But of course he couldn't wait—modesty was not Uncle Tom's strong point. "Well, if you must know, as I said it takes a man to tackle a job. I just mentioned to Stewart that we were in a fix, couldn't get a cook for love or money. 'This time for love and money you can,' said Stewart. 'My wife and I are going down to Bermuda to-morrow and we didn't quite know what to do with our Chinese boy—Mrs. S. had promised to lend him to her sister, and quite suddenly her sister decided to go with us.' So there you are," finished Uncle Tom superbly—"he arrives to-morrow, tip-top cook, takes complete charge of kitchen arrangements. Not bad, eh?"

Not bad! Aunt Nell almost wept for joy. If it hadn't been that she had had to spend so much time hunting for help, the housekeeping would have been nothing, she declared stoutly to Uncle Tom later, with her head tucked under his chin. She did weep a tear or two into his favorite tie. "Judith has been splendid, and of course we could have managed perfectly; it was the time I spent going from one bureau to another and following up this trail and the other that has tired us both."

"Strikes me," said Uncle Tom, "that Judy couldn't have tackled the pots and pans last year the way she does now."

"Of course she couldn't," said Aunt Nell, trying vainly to repair the damages Uncle Tom had done to her hair in his desire to show his sympathy—he inevitably wound the loose strands of her hair tightly around her ears. "Judy has had to tackle all sorts of things this year, more things than she ever dreamed of, and she's caught the York Hill spirit of putting through any sort of job that her hands find to do."

"Look here," said Uncle Tom, "wait until I get settled on the Chesterfield before we begin on York Hill. I often wonder how I manage to get on at the office without having had the inestimable privilege of being trained at York Hill Ladies' Academy!"

Yip arrived next morning at the promised time—it seemed too good to be true—bland, smiling, competent, and one of the first things Aunt Nell did was to send a telegram to Nancy inviting her to come just as soon as her mother would spare her. The answer came almost before Aunt Nell and Judith had finished planning their shopping expedition for the next day—Mrs. Nairn and Nancy were coming up to Toronto for a week's visit with some relatives from Boston who were passing through on their way to Vancouver, and Nancy "accepted with pleasure" for the last few days of the holidays.

Judith had a happy day buying her spring "trousseau"—Nancy had cautioned her to lay in a goodly supply of white skirts and middies for the "sports" term—and then came the looked-for morning when she waited for the Montreal express that was to bring her this best friend—whom she hadn't met a short seven months before and whom now she was sure she couldn't live without!

Seven months ago! Was it really less than a year ago that she herself had come into this very station feeling a little bit frightened of the new life at York Hill? Judith smiled happily. How different things were now—but that must be the train. Her heart beat quickly as she scanned the faces of the incoming travellers. Yes, there was Mrs. Nairn and there was Nancy's adorable little self. Oh, how good it was to see her again!

Breakfast over and Mrs. Nairn escorted to her cousins' hotel, the two chums settled down to a long morning's gossip. So many things can take place in two weeks! Judith had to hear every single thing that had happened to Nancy since they parted, and Nancy, every single thing that had happened to Judith.

"Jack thinks that is one of the funniest things about girls' friendships," observed Nancy after she had received a very full account of the two weeks' doings, "our wanting to know everything about our friends; he thinks it's awfully queer, but I think it's queer not to. Why, when he and Tom meet on Monday he'll say, 'Hello, Tom;' and Tom will say, 'Hello, Jack,' and then they'll begin talking about the state of the cricket crease very likely."



Nancy was very full of all the delightful events of next term; there would be the Cup Matches first of all, and the teams of the various houses were discussed "up and down and round and about"; then would come Field Day. "I'm not sure," said Nancy, "just which is the nicest day of all at school; sometimes I think it's the day of the Reunion suppers when the Old Girls come back, or Prize-giving Day, or the day of the final Cup Match, and then when Field Day comes I'm perfectly certain it's the best of all."

Then there was the Reunion play to discuss; it was to be "Pride and Prejudice" this year and Judith had been reading the story during the holidays. Would Catherine be the heroine or would Eleanor be chosen, and what about Genevieve for one of the other parts? She would make a good Mrs. Bennet. Of course she could act splendidly, but still—Judith expressed her astonishment at Genevieve's returning popularity. "After what she did I don't see how some of the girls can admire her so much," she said to Nancy.

"But popularity's queer, anyhow," said Nancy; "look at Rosamond Fraser. I suppose some people would say that Rosamond was one of the most popular girls in the house, and we know it's because she always has such good 'eats' to give away. And then there's Eleanor, we know she's popular because she is such a brick. There ought to be another word for her kind of popularity. Genevieve is clever, you know, and she's awfully funny," she continued, smiling as she remembered Genevieve mimicking Miss Langton in a temper; "anybody who is amusing can be popular," she concluded sagely.

Judith was impressed with Nancy's wisdom. "Well, but—Miss Ashwell and Miss Marlowe are popular, too, aren't they?"

"Yes," said Nancy; "but it's not the same kind of popularity as Miss Morton's. Miss Morton is like Rosamond; the West House girls say you can always get a special permission from her if you're sweet enough to her. She positively likes 'slush.'"

"And Miss Marlowe is like Eleanor," assented Judith thoughtfully. "Nancy, which do you like the best, Miss Ashwell or Miss Marlowe?"

But this was a question not to be easily settled; they spent a most enjoyable though perhaps not highly profitable morning discussing this and various other items of burning interest; they loved to gossip, as all schoolgirls—and most of the rest of us—do, but it was harmless enough and never unkind.

* * * * *

Aunt Nell, apparently, was determined that Judith should have a gay week-end, for after luncheon she warned them that this was to be their last quiet morning. Yip, it seemed, was so proud of his skill in concocting wonderful salads and ices, that he had no objection to company—and Judith was to invite any one she liked for dinner to-morrow, and they were to lunch with Mrs. Nairn downtown and go to a matinee, and Aunt Nell would be delighted to give them a tea-party the day before school opened.

They had the jolliest time possible; Judith loved playing hostess, and carte-blanche for a dinner and a tea-party was a great treat; and to have Nancy to discuss everything with—"just bliss" Judith confided to Aunt Nell.

And if holidays will end, it wasn't hard to go back to the "Jolly Susan" and look forward to the good times which were promised in "the best term of all."



CHAPTER XIII

THE MESSENGER

"COME on, do, Nancy," urged Judith; "it's on Friday, there is nothing else doing and it's sure to be interesting, for there are to be pictures of the work in Italy and in Russia. Miss Ashwell's going to take us. I'm going to be her partner," she added importantly.

"Well, that settles it," said Nancy; "you and your Miss Ashwell! I won't go if I can't go with you. It's a long walk from the University to the cars and I'm tired of Red Cross, anyway."

Judith and Jane were curled up on Nancy's couch eating chocolates; Nancy had just had a birthday and Jack had sent her a gratifyingly large box of candy with the injunction to go "fifty-fifty" with Judith and thus save herself from a bilious attack.

"I can't see why you are so keen on another Red Cross meeting, Judy. I should think you'd be tired of the subject after writing that long essay for Miss Kingston—but I forgot about your Uncle Brian.—Get off my foot, Jane, do."

Jane selected another chocolate, and said with a chuckle:

"You should have been in our French division this morning! Dear Miss Watson, how she hates me."

"I don't wonder," said Catherine, who was on the window-seat mending a lace ruffle. "Don't tell me that you've been tormenting her again."

"Certainly; we always do at the beginning of term, though we get tired of it after a while. We had verbs this morning with lots of r's in them—accourir and servir and reconnaitre—so I winked to Althea and Maggie and we had a dandy time. It saves lots of work," she added reflectively. "Every time Miss Watson rolled an r, one of us put up a hand and asked to have the word repeated. We just couldn't understand her. We made it last for most of the period, and the poor dear didn't get to the exercise at all."

"I'd have sent you packing, the whole lot of you, to Miss Meredith. You deserve it, and then I guess you'd be sorry, you little worms!"

"Oh, would you?" retorted Jane shrewdly; "not if you had reported us all two days ago for setting a metronome going in class. That was fun! Miss Meredith is getting tired of Miss Watson's returned lessons and bad marks, though she gave us a jolly good scolding, I must say. No, I think we are pretty safe for this week." And she chuckled reminiscently.

"Choose some one your own size, Jane," suggested Catherine, hunting for a piece of chocolate ginger; "'t isn't sporting to pick on Miss Watson like that."

"Well, why not?" demanded Jane. "She isn't on her job—she's just plain stupid—I don't believe she ever thinks about anything."

"Well, you're wrong there—she's just crazy about reading—she reads everything—her room is full of books, and Miss Ashwell says she knows more about Russian literature than most people in this country. None of you children been bothering Miss Ashwell, have you?"

There was an indignant denial, and Judith, remembering that she had seen her friend and comforter looking very much as if she herself stood in need of comforting, asked quickly:

"Why do you ask, Cathy?"

"Oh, well, she seems bothered," was the rather vague answer.

Judith ran down to Miss Ashwell's room at visiting time that night, and tapping at the door put in her head and enquired, "May I come in?"

"Not just now, Judith," said Miss Ashwell, "I'm busy."

Judith with a mumbled apology disappeared at once, but not before she had seen that Miss Ashwell's busy-ness had to do apparently with the snapshot of a handsome soldier propped against the reading-lamp—a despatch case lay open on the floor beside her and there were letters strewn over the table and in Miss Ashwell's lap.

"Now, wasn't that too bad of me to rush in like that," thought Judith, as she hurried away. "I wonder if that's the picture she showed me the other day—she was probably going to write to him—wouldn't it be exciting?"

Miss Ashwell looked complacently next day at her line of forty girls as they were ushered into reserved seats near the front of Convocation Hall. They might some of them look like young hoydens in middy blouses and gymnasium bloomers—which costume most of them affected during school hours—but now, in their trim serge suits and chic little hats, they were a credit to their chaperon, and as it was considered bad form to misbehave "in line" at church or concert or lecture, Miss Ashwell settled down and gave herself up to the luxury of her own thoughts.

Judith, sitting beside her and looking eagerly at the portraits of founders and benefactors, decided that they could not be very happy thoughts, for she heard one soft little sigh and then another. Miss Ashwell was unhappy again! Something pathetic about the droop of her lips made Judith feel sudden anger against the unknown cause of Miss Ashwell's melancholy. It might, of course, have been a large millinery bill, or indigestion, or a blouse that wouldn't fit, but Judith's romantic soul would have none of these. It must be that man in the Italian snapshots. How pretty Miss Ashwell had looked that day when she had showed Judith the Italian pictures! How her eyes had deepened until they were almost violet, and how her cheeks had glowed! Perhaps he was an unfaithful lover, perhaps he had married an Italian girl, or even a German in a sudden impulse of pity, and now could not come home to Canada to face his old love. No, not married, just betrothed, because of course he must come home, and Judith was already staging Miss Ashwell's wedding when the President and faculty members, together with distinguished guests and officials of the Red Cross Society, took their places on the dais.

Judith leaned forward eagerly. How delightfully the red and blue splashes of colour of the professors' academic hoods showed up against the old-oak panelling. That must be an Oxford hood, and there was an Edinburgh one. Daddy had showed her one like that—but the President was speaking. He regretted that Dr. Johnson, who was to have lectured this afternoon, was unavoidably absent through illness, but a distinguished graduate of their own, who had been with the Intelligence Staff in Italy and had won the Military Cross because of a particularly brilliant piece of work there, who had been a prisoner in Russia for nearly a year, and who had recently been engaged in relief work in Serbia, had been prevailed upon to take Dr. Johnson's place. He had much pleasure in introducing Major David Phillips.

The York Hill line bent forward eagerly—an M.C.—a Russian prisoner—name David—David was a favourite name just then—one of their own University boys, wounded, tall, thin, dark hair turning grey at the temples in the most approved fashion! How satisfactorily romantic!

But just how romantic, not one of the forty guessed but Judith. She alone heard the quick intake of Miss Ashwell's breath, she alone saw the flood of colour sweep over Miss Ashwell's face, she could almost hear the thumpings of Miss Ashwell's heart, and Judith guessed at once that the here who was being enthusiastically applauded was the hero of the Italian snapshots, and Miss Ashwell's face was sufficient confirmation. How thrilling, how wonderful! He was home again, Miss Ashwell would be happy, everybody would be happy! Probably they would be married right away—she had forgotten the imaginary German bride—and maybe Miss Ashwell would let her help her in her shopping. She could go down on Saturday mornings. Aunt Nell knew an awfully good shop for linens, an Irish shop.

"Say, Judy," whispered Frances, "isn't that your Uncle Tom in the back row on the platform?"

Yes, it was. Judith blushed with vexation. Why couldn't Uncle Tom be more careful? His tie had slipped its moorings and was gradually working its way to the top of his collar. Really, relations ought to be less conspicuous unless they could be more presentable; she hoped Catherine wouldn't see him. He did look ridiculous. Whatever had he done to his hair? It looked as if he had gone to sleep in it, thought Judy indignantly.

Judith stole another glance at Miss Ashwell; the colour had faded and her face was white; it looked almost stern. Whatever was the matter? The lights went off for the lantern slides and Judith, greatly daring, whispered:

"Isn't that the Major Phillips you used to know, Miss Ashwell? The one who was with Uncle Brian in Italy?"

"Yes, I used to know him, Judith, a long time ago," in stiff, cold, dignified tones.

Judith felt dazed for a moment; then a happy inspiration came to her; a lovers' quarrel—that's what's the matter. Now, if they could just meet again without either of them having to give in, they would be sure to make it up.

It was very trying having no one to talk to. She wished fervently that Nancy or Sally May or Josephine or Joyce or some one other than Frances were beside her; she must think hard. Miss Ashwell was in love with Major Phillips, that was clear. Major Phillips must be in love with Miss Ashwell, that went without saying. Miss Ashwell was unhappy. Of course it wasn't her business at all, at all, but Judith didn't think of that. There was something appealing about Miss Ashwell at all times, and Miss Ashwell in trouble made Judith certain that something must be done. She hardly heard a word the lecturer said, but sat frowning, thinking hard; then her face cleared; she had a plan. She would make a dash for the platform and Uncle Tom the minute the last picture was put on the screen, and beg him to introduce her to Major Phillips, and she would ask him if he would speak at the Arts and Letters Club, for she knew they wanted some one for next week. Probably Miss Ashwell would be very much annoyed and would come after her, and then—further than that Judith didn't go, for she was immediately involved in the difficulties of how to get away from Miss Ashwell in order to make her dash for the platform. The York Hill girls would wait, of course, a few minutes until some of the people had gone before they tried to leave the building; perhaps by that time Major Phillips would have disappeared. Judith was still struggling to think of something plausible to say to Miss Ashwell when the lights came on again; and when the organist began "God Save the King" and the audience rose, Judith knew that she must act quickly if she were to to save the situation. Her heart thumped so loudly that there was a buzzing in her ears and her hands were icy cold. Miss Ashwell would be angry; she might even report Judith to Miss Meredith; Judith quailed at the thought; the last note sounded.

"Excuse me, Miss Ashwell, but there's Uncle Tom. I simply must speak to him." And before an astonished and, it must be confessed, a dreaming Miss Ashwell could say yea or nay, Judith had slipped past her down the aisle and was making her way to the platform. The line was transfixed with horror.

"Judith Benson! Who does she think she is, anyway, going right up there amongst all those 'brass hats?' Is she crazy?"

Judith was lost to York Hill eyes as she disappeared into the group of people at the back of the platform, who were apparently waiting to have a word with the speaker. She clutched Uncle Tom's arm with both hands, and if the warmth of her greeting astonished him he made no sign.

"Why, yes, I know him," he replied in answer to her eager questioning. "What you doin' here by yourself? Oh, are they?"—and he turned to get a view of the line. "Arts and Letters Club, eh? Sounds frightening. I don't know whether he'd dare." This in Uncle Tom's facetious manner. "Hey, Phillips"—to the hero who was making a determined effort to escape his questioners—"Here's a young lady who is a hero-worshipper." And as he made the necessary introduction, he added, to Judith's huge disgust, "She wants your autograph or something."

Judith made her request politely and, as with sinking heart she saw that he was going to refuse, she added clearly, "Miss Elizabeth Ashwell is waiting down there for us with the others—the line I mean." Judith was thrilled at the change in Major Phillips's face.

"Oh, then, you are Miss Ashwell's messenger," he said eagerly.

"Not exactly," stammered Judith; "but she's waiting for us," she repeated firmly.

Major Phillips lost no time.

"In that case we had better go, not keep a lady waiting, eh, Mr. Hilton? Perhaps I ought to say forty ladies," he continued as they made their way down the aisle.

Judith's knees were trembling. She didn't dare lift her eyes, as Uncle Tom greeted Miss Ashwell and she heard him say,

"Major Phillips I believe you know already."

Major Phillips had Miss Ashwell's hand in his and was clearly paying no attention to Uncle Tom. The line was divided afterwards as to whether he shook her hand eagerly or just held it. The majority favoured the latter opinion, but all agreed that he looked right into her eyes and that his voice was "as different as anything from what it was before."

Somehow or other they started on their homeward way with Miss Ashwell and Major Phillips bringing up the rear, for Williams the janitor had magically appeared with the latter's stick, and Uncle Tom thoughtfully made his adieus and departed.

If Major David Phillips hadn't been too ecstatically happy to notice anything except the curve of Miss Ashwell's pink cheek and the length of her eyelashes and a soft little curl which hung in front of her ear, he might have been surprised at the extreme quiet of the forty girls in front of him; they might have been walking to a funeral. What he wouldn't have guessed was that every ear in the line was stretched backwards to catch his slightest word or he might have lowered his voice. As it was at least half the line could hear him:

Yes, he was glad to be back in Canada.

Yes, two months ago.

He'd been delayed in England over the Serbian work.

No, he wasn't in town. He had a cottage, really a little old farmhouse, about ten miles out of the city. His Aunt Joan had died while he was away and had left him "White Cottage." He was living there with his batman, who was awfully handy and did the cooking and everything, and between them they had turned the parlour and the spare bedroom into a studio. They had made a great northern window and Jennings was now building a piazza. Elizabeth must come and see it. However, she would have to come soon, as he was going to France in June.

"Elizabeth," said the line to itself, "and she didn't call him David?" They felt they wouldn't have been so behind-hand.

Judith meanwhile, being partnerless, had wormed her way down to the prefects who were leading the line.

"Cathy," she whispered urgently, "do go slow, please; he's limping, you know, and don't stop when we get to the cars. Please, please, just walk on slowly, and perhaps Miss Ashwell won't notice. I'll tell you why later. It's awfully important."

"Right you are, Mr. First Mate," answered Catherine, and Judith, not without some whispered chaffing, got back within earshot.

Major Phillips was talking about his experiences in the Russian prison and Judy needn't have worried lest Miss Ashwell should notice when they reached the cars; Miss Ashwell was in another world entirely; the line did not exist for her. They walked on and on and Major Phillips's voice became lower. The line began to feel rebellious.

"Fourteen blocks," said Frances Purdy to her neighbour. "I'm nearly dead. I shouldn't wonder if we had to walk all the way."

And they did. Miss Ashwell didn't "notice" till they began the ascent of the hill and Major Phillips was obliged to go very slowly, indeed. Miss Ashwell was full of remorse. His leg must be hurting, but the school was in sight. He must come in and rest. He had walked too far, and lines of pain and fatigue were plain to be seen. Miss Ashwell decided that she must take him to the common room, and then get Mrs. Bronson to make him some hot tea. But probably he couldn't walk so far! Perhaps he would faint. Whatever should she do? Suddenly to her great relief she saw Miss Meredith in her car evidently returning from town. Miss Ashwell moved over to the side of the road, Major Phillips limping after her, and the line stood still awaiting developments. Miss Ashwell explained her predicament to an amazed Head Mistress. Miss Meredith thought and acted quickly. Major Phillips was welcomed with both hands and tucked into the car. Catherine was summoned.

"My compliments to Mrs. Bronson, Catherine, and please ask her if she can provide you all with hot cocoa and cake after your walk. Miss Ashwell is coming home with me for tea."

The car drove off, and though the line moved on decorously towards the much-desired rest and cocoa, Major Phillips would have been considerably surprised if he could have heard its sudden galvanization into speech.

Catherine, who took Miss Ashwell's place at the end of the line, was obliged to send a runner ahead with the request,

"Less noise till we reach bounds, please."

But the instant they reached the school gates the line dissolved and Judith was surrounded by an excited mob.

"Oh, go on, tell us, Judy."

"Whatever were you doing on the platform?"

"Who is he, anyway?"

"Don't be a piker! Tell us, Judy."

"Fancy Miss Meredith whisking him off like that."

"Is he really Miss Ashwell's?"

But Judith, though triumphant, was loyally discreet. He was an old friend of her Uncle Brian's. She had to speak to Uncle Tom, and then Uncle Tom and Major Phillips came down to speak to Miss Ashwell.

There were some who felt that this was not all, but Catherine supported Judith and adjured them not to go into their own houses and spread romantic tales.

But there are some things which even a popular prefect cannot achieve. The affair was discussed in all its details by the tired forty as they consumed much cocoa and cake in the sitting-room, and even later, when the running of many bath-taps proclaimed loudly the fact that forty tired bodies were being refreshed, scraps of conversation floated over the bath partitions.

"Good thing it's his left arm that's hurt."

"Isn't his hair lovely? I adore hair that is slightly greying!"

"Is it a V.C. he's got?"

"When do you suppose they'll be married?"

"Did you say he was an artist or an engineer?"

"Won't she look lovely in a wedding gown?"

"I wouldn't be married in anything but white."

"Judith Benson thinks she's it. What is she doing in it anyhow?"

Judith smiled happily in her bath. She had decided on her bridesmaid's frock.



CHAPTER XIV

JUDITH WINS THE TENNIS CUP

SPRING came early this year and the school spent much time out of doors during the last term. Many classes were held in the big sun porches and in the sheltered spots in the grounds, and the various teams were hard at basket-ball and cricket and tennis, even before breakfast.

It was not so hard now to get up at a quarter to seven, and Judith and Florence even joined the B.B.B.'s—"Before Breakfast Brigade"—who pledged themselves to get up in time for a dip in the swimming-pool or a game before the breakfast-bell rang.

Judith was especially keen about tennis, and she improved her game so much that, to her surprise and delight, even high and mighty prefects like Patricia and Catherine were asking her for practice games in preparation for the House and School Tournaments later on. Catherine was a very busy person, indeed, just now; she had an important part in the play given during prize-giving week and she was a member of the Senior basket-ball team. Judith would never be a basket-ball enthusiast, but she filled a very respectable position on the Junior team and she could share in the excitement about the Senior match which was to be played against Queen's School. Patricia was working her team hard; every spare hour was devoted to goal practice, and team practice came every day as a matter of course.

Nancy had much to tell Judith of last year's triumph when Eleanor's brilliant play had won the coveted trophy for York Hill. This year Queen's were reported to have a marvellous centre and school gossip held that the York Hill team would have a hard battle to keep the shield. Unfortunately, the very day before the match, Helen Burton, a prefect of West House, slipped and wrenched her knee, so that her playing was out of the question. She was not their most brilliant player by any means, but she was steady and used her brains in the game better than most. Althea Somerset was put in as a substitute, but it was disconcerting to lose a tried warrior before the fight began.

Nancy was a timekeeper, and on the day of the match Judith took her stand beside her with the lemons for the refreshment of the teams. The whole School had lined the campus to watch the game; at one end were a group of Old Girls and the staff; near by was a splash of scarlet marking the visitors from Queen's School. Judith, watching the trim figures of the players line up, Queen's with scarlet ties and bands, York Hill with gold ties, felt a sudden rush of loyalty at the sight of her own well-loved prefects.

"They must win—they must—there can't be a doubt of it," said Judith to herself.

The much-talked-of Queen's centre was as wonderful as gossip had reported. She seemed like a veritable spider, all arms and legs; try as she would Althea could not prevent her getting the ball. And there was a fair-haired girl—Pamela by name—who was the best shot Judith had ever seen.

The score mounted rapidly for Queen's and at half-time, when Judith distributed her slices of lemon, things looked rather dark for York Hill.

But Patricia had been using her brains while she played, and Judith and Nancy ministering to the team heard her final injunctions.

"We'll beat 'em yet. Watch that right centre and Pamela Price on the left guard; they're both dandy shots, and they both want a chance to show off. Mark my words, we'll get some fine shots the last half. Their weak point is team-work, and I'm glad to say we're playing together—watch your passing—we're bound to win!"

Judith and Nancy went back to their posts in a state of great excitement. There was an infectious courage and cheeriness about Patricia's words. Certainly Queen's had five points to their favour, but just as certainly York Hill would win!

Up went the ball again and up went the spider-like centre's long arms, and away went the coveted ball in the wrong direction. Judith's heart sank—this half was going to be just like the other—how terrible!

Thirteen-eight—Fourteen-eight.

The whistle blew. Judith couldn't see what had happened, but evidently there had been a foul, for Catherine had a free throw.

York Hill let themselves go for a minute. Good for Cathy! Seconds were precious now and the play was swift.

Again the whistle.

This time Patricia took the ball.

York Hill held its breath.

Fourteen-ten.

Nothing succeeds like success!

The York Hill team quickened and became tense during those last few seconds like a great orchestra for the finale of a symphony, in answer to the conductor's baton. Patricia felt a thrill of pride. How magnificently the team was responding—they were playing like one person—and that person meant to win—there could be no doubt of it.

"Fifteen-fifteen," said the umpire calmly.

Judith standing quietly beside Nancy wanted to shriek and shout like a young savage—"We're going to beat you! We're going to beat you—yah!"

Fifteen-seventeen! Good for Althea!

Ah, Pamela Price has scored!

"Good play," said York, generously applauding a neat shot.

Seventeen-all—and a minute more to play!

Althea has the ball—no, there it is—Patricia's got it—

That must be Pamela again—no, Catherine has it!

Catherine poised herself and threw.

A soft sighing sound from hundreds of lips marked the safe arrival of the ball in the basket, and then spontaneous cheering drowned the umpire's voice.

York Hill had the cup for another year!

* * * * *

The cheering over, the teams departed for afternoon tea, and the audience, breaking up into little groups, settled down to a discussion of the points of the game.

"They've certainly a dandy centre, and that fair girl was a great shot—but wasn't Cathy gorgeous! If we'd only had another two minutes—one minute—we'd have beaten 'em all hollow."

"Wasn't our team-work simply splendid?" gloated Judith. "I should think Patricia would be awfully proud. By the way, that reminds me—Patricia said I must play off in the House Tournament to-morrow afternoon. Come on over to the tennis court. I'll play you two—I've got a new serve I want to try. Oh, dear! I wish there weren't any exams this term; I'd like to play the whole time."

Next day when Judith looked at the tournament lists she was astonished to find that she was to play against Catherine. Catherine for the last two years had been South's choice to play in the School Tournament, and although she had been beaten by Nelly Smith of West last year, it was pretty generally conceded that she would win in the preliminary House Tournament and play again in the finals.

"Rather rough on me to have to play against a champion," laughed Judith as they tossed for counts a little later, "but I'm going to give you a hard fight, Cathy, see if I don't."

Perhaps it was the spirit of the blue and golden May day, cool enough to be pleasant, warm enough to be a joy, or the little breeze which came floating across the campus carrying an intoxicating scent of lilacs, but whatever the reason, some sprite seemed to have taken possession of Judith, and she threw herself into the game with such enthusiasm, such abandon, such elfin-like nimbleness that Catherine couldn't touch her balls.

There was not a large audience, for cricket and swimming claimed many, but the crew of the "Jolly Susan" were there, you may be sure, and most of South House, for it had been whispered about that Judith's game was worth watching.

"Well played," said Eleanor heartily, as Florence called out the score. "Game and set in Judith's favour! You've improved your game tremendously, Judy."

"Thanks, Judy," said Catherine; "hardly a good fight, I'm afraid, rather a good beating." Try as she did to keep it out there was a little coldness in Catherine's voice. She was tired after yesterday's match, and it wasn't particularly pleasant to be beaten by a youngster after she had been champion for South for two years.

Judith's quick ears had caught the note of coldness, and her gay spirits deserted her instantly. What did winning a game matter if Catherine were displeased with her! She was almost angry with Nancy, who remarked gleefully after Catherine had gone, "You're almost sure to be chosen to play for the House now, Judy, dear. What tremendous luck!"

Judith wouldn't hear of it, and when a little later Eleanor told her that she was the choice of the Committee she begged to be let off.

"It really wasn't fair," she protested. "Cathy was awfully tired and not in good form, and I was feeling tip-top. I'd hate to take her place."

But Eleanor was firm. "Catherine," she said, "is not playing so well—she's had too many irons in the fire, so we'll look to you to win for South. Patricia says she'll take you for fifteen minutes every morning before breakfast. Your net play needs a little steadying—get in as much practice as you can before the tournament."

Eleanor's word was final, and of course it was gratifying to be chosen, but Judith's pleasure was spoilt by her fear that Catherine was hurt and would never be friends with her again. That night at visiting hour she knocked at Catherine's door with the resolve to tell her in some way or other that she was sorry. She didn't know quite how it was to be done, because she might only make matters worse. But instead of Catherine's usual cheerful "Come in," a preoccupied voice said, "Who's there?" and to Judith's answer, replied, "Will another time do, Judy? I'm awfully busy."

Judith went off disconsolately, and when she did try to express her regret at being chosen in place of Catherine, her endeavours, as she feared, were not a success. Catherine merely said that of course she was glad Judith was to play, but again her voice was cold.

"Cathy doesn't really mean it," protested Nancy, in whom Judith confided. "She's just busy with the play—you know she's to be the heroine—and she's writing on her diploma examination too. Cheer up, Judy, don't look so like an owl."

Judith refused to be comforted; the honour of the House meant less to her than the friendship of Catherine whom she had adored from the first day she entered York Hill. However, she practiced hard—Patricia saw to that—and when Tournament Day came she had profited not a little by the week's coaching.

But Patricia was worried. True, Judith's serve had improved, but she lacked the nerve and spirit which had made her playing so irresistible in the House match, and Nelly Smith was an old hand at the game.

The great day came. Surely Catherine would wish her luck, and while Judith put on a fresh white skirt and blouse and made her hair as trim as possible, she listened for the sound of Catherine's footsteps—but no Catherine came, and Judith went off to the match with a heavy heart.

The central courts were lined with spectators, and as they tossed for courts Judith realized that this was an occasion. The cup was to go for a year to the winner of this one match, for Nelly Smith had already beaten Althea Somerset of North, and East, being largely a Junior House, had no representative.

Over by the umpire's stand Judith could see the crew of the "Jolly Susan"—Nancy's pretty golden head and Josephine's untidy red one. Jane seemed to be holding a flag—yes, it must be the "Susan's" flag. If only Catherine—!

Nelly had the first serve, and the white balls began to fly back and forth. Nelly won her serve and then Judith hers. It was steady, interesting playing. They were well matched. But Judith's mind was only half on her game, for while with one half of her brain she countered Nelly's tactics, the other half was still occupied with Catherine and the possibility of losing Catherine's friendship if she won the game.

Suddenly in a flash Judith saw a solution. Supposing she didn't win—and of course she mightn't—Nelly was no mean rival—would Catherine restore her to friendship? Supposing she didn't try her very hardest?

Judith's thoughts were centred on Catherine and the full dishonour of what she was contemplating did not occur to her. She only knew that nothing seemed to matter if she lost Catherine. Nancy, meanwhile, who surmised what was troubling Judith, was watching her anxiously, and because she knew her so well she saw that Judith was not putting her whole self into the game, although she had won the first set by a very narrow margin. Nelly's score was climbing steadily now—five-three, five-four.

"Game and set to Nelly Smith," called the umpire as the players changed courts, and when Nelly stooped to tighten a shoelace, Nancy made a quick decision and whispered in Catherine's ear:

"Judy's nervous, Cathy; please say something to cheer her up the way you did at the play."

The colour deepened ever so slightly in Catherine's cheeks, for she had been mentally shaking herself that she had not been more generous to Judy, so she was quick to seize her opportunity as Judith passed.

"Good for you, Judibus—you're certain to win—you're doing splendidly. Remember we're trusting ourselves to you—but we're sure of the cup—you can play!"

Catherine's old self, all the coldness gone, spoke in the words.

They seemed to be magic words, for a miracle happened then and there. Nelly fought hard and it was a battle worth watching, but Judith was quite certain now that she would win. Nelly really hadn't a chance against some one who suddenly realized that she had not been answering up to the trust her friends had given her; some one who saw herself restored to the favour she coveted; some one who knew now that it didn't matter a bit whether she lost or won as long as she did her very best; some one who was suddenly walking on air, whose eyes and cheeks were glowing with joy, and whose feet and wits seemed so nimble that strategy and tactics were blown to the winds.

The last set went rapidly, and it seemed afterwards to Judith only a few exhilarating moments until the umpire was announcing, "Game and set in favour of Judith Benson," and three cheers were being given for her and three cheers for South. South House had the cup back again!

Judith had just sufficient presence of mind left to shake hands with Nelly and thank her for the game, and then she was in the midst of a happy throng of Southerners who shouted congratulations and told her she was a brick, and a wonder, and a credit to the House.

Invitations for tea at the tuck shop poured in thick and fast, but Catherine answered for her:

"Not a bit of it; she belongs to the 'Jolly Susan' first of all, and we've a spread of ship's rations in my room all ready for the occasion."

Judith looked so radiant at the party that Sally May, who always knew the latest bit of gossip, said disappointedly,

"I suppose you know about Miss Ashwell, Judy?"

"What about her?" said Judith eagerly. "Is she—?"

"Yes, she—is—engaged! It's frightfully exciting—some of the girls saw her ring this afternoon, and she said yes she was, and what do you think?" Sally May paused dramatically.

"Well—?"

"She's going to be married in prize-giving week because the Major is going back to France—and Miss Meredith is giving her a school wedding—only all the Old Girls are going to be there—so they're not sure whether we'll be invited."

Sally May paused for breath.

Here was room for discussion, indeed. A wedding! A York Hill wedding! And their own Miss Ashwell! Surely they would be invited!

Field Day proved another exciting topic—they all decided to enter the suitcase race and provide some merriment for the School by the costumes they would produce. The party broke up reluctantly to dress for dinner. But Catherine managed to detain Judith for a moment and say in an undertone:

"I've been horrid lately, Judy—too busy with the play to be decent. I suppose you're getting busy, too, on the Properties Committee; but I wonder if you could spare time to hear me my part to-night?"

Could she?



CHAPTER XV

JUNE SHOWERS

THE next two weeks were the busiest and the happiest that Judith had ever known. It would have been a joy merely to be alive on such blue, unclouded days of golden sunshine. Even examination tests, which she still dreaded, were bringing with them a curious happiness.

"I don't know how it is," Judith confided to the crew of the "Jolly Susan" one morning as bed-making was in progress, "but there is something nice about exams after all."

"Nice!" came from Josephine and Jane,—"Nice!"

"Well, it may be all very well for you if you want to show off how much ancient history you've crammed up," said Sally May rather crossly; "I don't see anything nice about them. I hate this ancient history, silly old names! I don't know who won one of these battles"—and she continued to mutter to herself a list of battles of the Peloponnesian War, which she was memorizing in preparation for the history test.

"But," Judith persisted, "there is something nice about them; it must be measuring ourselves against others and doing our very best, just like the high jumping on Field Day. Now you know very well you enjoyed that," she continued, going to Josephine's door and noting with surprise that Josephine was actually cleaning her white shoes.

"'Course," said Josephine; "ca va sans dire. Ha! Thought I'd make you open your eyes quoting French as to the manner born, and cleaning shoes into the bargain! Mademoiselle made me learn five phrases—had to write them out a hundred times. What I say is, lessons are lessons, and jumping is jumping; one's nasty and t'other's nice if you like."

Judith was interested in Josephine's French.

"Let's have the other phrases, Josephine."

"Not me," answered Josephine elegantly. "Moi, I shall scatter them about gracefully. Dad will probably think I'm well-educated when I go home, and if I'm tidy, too, my mother will be perfectly satisfied."

"Well, you'd better begin on your room," said Jane who had joined them. "I notice, Miss Burley, that you received 'C' and a disorderly mark last week, and friend Genevieve says that Miss Watson is on the war-path this week."

"Miss Marlowe says I'm incorrigible," said Josephine, sadly shaking her head. "Heigho! It's hard luck being born so careless; I get blamed for everything. 'Eh bien! mademoiselle,' I shall say gently the next time I'm reproved, 'Je ferai mon possible!' and by means of these choice little French phrases and a perfectly clean pair of shoes, my reputation will improve. Voyez!"

Every spare moment was being spent out-of-doors these days, so Sally May and Judith took their history books out under Judith's favorite acacia trees, and Judith good-naturedly, for every moment was precious, gave Sally May a half-hour's grind on her ancient history before morning school. When the ten-minute bell rang, their books were closed with a bang almost before the bell had ceased, and they were dancing and leaping and running across the lawn and round the tennis courts, where they ran into Nancy.

"Just think!" she cried, "Margaret Leslie is going to be house mother for the Old Girls this year, and she says that there are about a hundred out-of-town girls coming to the Reunion, and of course there'll be heaps of town girls. Won't it be heavenly?"—and she hopped on one foot for joy. Then the three had a race to the schoolroom door. Middies and bloomers simply compel one to run and scamper.

Judith thought about the Reunion as the form filed in silently to prayers. Nancy had talked about it all year; she thought it the happiest time of the year, and as she had been at York Hill all her school days she would know a number of the girls who were coming back.

"They are here for four days," Nancy had told her, "so we just pack those days full. There's the Reunion tea, and the grandchildren's party, and the suppers and the plays, and then Sunday and prize-giving. I get so happy I feel that I'll burst if I'm not careful."

Form Five were already hard at work on their songs for the supper party; Judith was to respond to a toast. The play was well under way by Easter-time, as Judith knew, for she was a hard-working member of the Properties Committee. What she did not know was that her name had been seriously considered for one of the parts and Catherine and Eleanor had strongly urged her fitness. But Miss Marlowe had cautioned them: "Judith has had a good first year, but I'm not sure that a prominent part in another play wouldn't spoil it for her. Remember she had an important part at Christmas-time. Don't turn her head." Eleanor saw the point and Judith was instead put on the committee where she was doing good work.

This year there was the added delight of the wedding. Last night Miss Meredith had given the invitations, and the School, you may be sure, would "accept with pleasure."

Form Five A held a meeting at recess time. They must get Miss Ashwell a wedding present.

"Form Two and Form Four are going to give her a hankie shower," said Joyce Hewson, "and Patricia told me that the Sixth Form is going to give her a linen shower."

"And Domestic Science are having a kitchen shower," joined in Frances. "I don't see what there's left for us."

Books were suggested, but voted down. "Besides, we haven't enough money," said Nancy, "Miss Meredith said we mustn't spend much."

Nancy wanted to put the money into a lump sum and buy one nice thing, a picture or a piece of silver or something like that. But the majority of the girls favoured the shower idea. A tea-cup shower was discussed, and seemed to be the most popular of all the plans yet made, when Peggy said she believed the Staff were buying china. She and her mother had met three of the Staff in Smith's on Saturday morning, and she guessed from what they said that that was what they doing.

Judith had been thinking—what would Miss Ashwell like? What does she like to do? And a picture flashed into her mind of Miss Ashwell in garden hat and gloves snipping Miss Meredith's rosebushes and talking to Judith about Gloire de Dijons, and Frau Druschkis and Prince Ruperts and Lady Ursulas, as if they were intimate friends. Judith jumped up excitedly.

"Madam President," she said eagerly, "why shouldn't we have a flower shower? I mean plants, rosebushes and Canterbury bells and lilacs if they haven't got 'em, and maybe a cherry tree," she added as the plan grew before her eyes.

Pros and cons were discussed. Perhaps "White Cottage" already had a good garden. No, she had heard the Major say—here Judith blushed and stammered as she heard Jane observe, "Great friend of the Major's is Judy"—that the garden was no good; anyway, they could find out. Perhaps Miss Meredith would find out for them.

"But it'll be too late to plant cherry trees and lilac bushes," objected Alicia Harris, who was a practical gardener and had been a steady worker in the War Garden Committee. That was so!

Besides, the bride and groom were going to France and what would the garden do in the meantime? Judith looked quite blank. Just when it had seemed such a lovely plan! She could see the climbing rose she meant to give and had already congratulated herself on asking for some extra pocket money for the last term. But Nancy came to the rescue.

"I know; let's give the money and the order for the flowers or bushes to a florist and ask him to set them out in the proper time in the fall, and we'll give Miss Ashwell a card with the name of the flowers we have chosen, and, oh, then we could have rhymes. We'd put 'Violets' on the card and then—

"'The rose is red, the violet's blue, Honey is sweet and so are you'—

and then our own name so she'd know who gave her the violets. I'd like to give her violets myself," she added.

But Rosamond had a more practical suggestion still.

"Let's get the little wooden tags that the florists use and put on them the name of the flower, and the giver's name, and then we could tie another little paper tag to them with the rhyme on it."

This was received with applause and the resolution was put to the vote and carried enthusiastically. Judith looked admiringly at Nancy and Rosamond as the meeting broke up and wondered how they could think of such clever things, and was surprised and delighted after the meeting when Nancy slipped her arm through hers and whispered:

"Bully for you, Judy; I don't know how you think of such clever things."

Next day there was another Form meeting and a committee was appointed—Judy was glad that she was chosen—to get permission to go downtown and enquire prices at the florists. Five B and Five C, whose Presidents applied to Nancy for ideas, decided to further the scheme by buying fruit bushes, raspberries, strawberries, currants, gooseberries, and young fruit trees, and Miss Watson, who was Five C's Form Mistress, proved a very useful ally, for a distant relative was a partner in one of the biggest wholesale florist establishments and she offered to take the committee there and get the plants at the lowest possible rates. Her sudden popularity and the feeling of importance which pervaded her at each of the many consultations during the next few days (for it turned out that Miss Watson had been brought up in a beautiful old garden at home in Scotland) were to remain delectable memories for many a long day.

A 'phone message brought wonderful catalogues from MacIver & Watson, and for a day or two the Fifth Form presented a very studious appearance. Groups of two or three might be seen in sitting-room or playroom and out-of-doors on the quadrangle poring over books, but the interested teachers who observed this phenomenon also noticed that the books they earnestly perused were richly and gaudily illustrated.

Judith had to give up her cherished notion of a climbing rose, because the rest of the "Jolly Susan" were determined to give Canterbury bells. The proposal had come from Jane. "They're blue and that's the sailor's colour and bells are nautical too." So Judith gave in gracefully and the five of them pooled their contributions and stipulated what they wanted, a row of Canterbury bells in the perennial border. Nancy was strong on perennials. "We don't want flowers that will die off," she said emphatically, "but something that will come up every year."

"Won't it be nice!" said Judith. "One spring morning the Major will come in to breakfast with the cheerful news, 'Spring has come, my dear, the Peggy Forrest (her violets, you know) are coming up under the birch tree. Come and see them.'"

"And Mrs. Major," finished Nancy, laughing, "will say, 'Please sit down, the coffee will be cold in another minute.'"

Saturday morning saw the delegation packed into the school motor off to town under the chaperonage of Miss Watson. No one noticed now, you may be sure, how many r's the good lady rolled and her reminiscences of "Roses I have known" were received with the greatest respect. It took them a long time to decide, even with their lists culled from the catalogues and suggestions obtained from Jennings, but finally every one was satisfied, and they carried off a box full of the little wooden tags which Rosamond had wisely suggested.

The business in hand being disposed of, their thoughts turned with amazing promptness to ice-cream. Now according to custom permission might be desired (probably) and received (possibly) for ice-cream after a special visit into town during the week, but on Saturday mornings the shopping party were under instructions to return home promptly when the necessary "shopping" was completed. This expedition seemed to come under neither heading; true, it was Saturday morning, but then it was not the regular shopping party. After some whispered coaxing, Nancy was prevailed upon to put the delicate question to Miss Watson. She summoned her sweetest and most guileless smile as she broached the subject, but Miss Watson was ready for her. "I was sure you'd ask, so I got permission from Miss Marlowe for you to have one dish at Huyler's or Page & Shaw's. We'll have to hurry." Miss Watson's popularity was complete!

The committee worked hard for an hour after lunch, but finally the last of the tags was allotted and distributed, and those who were going out were exhorted not to come back without their rhymes, as they must be ready for Monday. Miss Meredith had issued orders that Miss Ashwell, who was relieved of all school duties for this last week, must be quite free after Tuesday, so the showers were to be held on Monday and Tuesday. The staff were having a supper-party on Saturday night when the china was to be presented, and altogether Miss Ashwell was to be a much-feted person.

"Of course the Old Girls will do something nice," said Nancy—"trust them. I guess Susanne is waiting until the out-of-town girls come. Miss Ashwell has been secretary of the Old Girls for two years, so she specially belongs to them. I wonder what they will do."

The next week was packed full to overflowing with good times. First came the kitchen shower which the Domestic Science Form had planned as their share in the festivities.

Judith and Nancy were not invited to the party, but they coaxed Helen to let them see the big clothes-basket full of mysterious little parcels looking very bride-like in their white tissue and satin ribbons.

"Miss Ashwell has got to guess what's in each one," explained Helen importantly as she cut cake, "and if she doesn't guess right, the parcel belongs to Major Phillips. Well, just a small piece, Nancy; here, Judy, you can have the plate to scrape."

The two were still busily scraping chocolate icing out of a bowl when the strains of the wedding march were heard in the next room, and, peeping through the crack of the kitchen door, they beheld a rather flustered-looking Miss Ashwell trying to guess the first parcel.

Helen shooed them off, declaring they had no manners at all, and that they had better see that they were ready for their own party.

Judith and Nancy were indignant at the implication that they were not well prepared for the morrow, but just before "Lights out" bell sounded, Judith asked Sally May to let her see the rhyme for the Canterbury bells tag.

"Why—I thought you and Nancy were doing it. I heard you trying to get a rhyme for 'Susan.'"

"Well, we couldn't," said Judith weakly; "I thought you had one written already."

"We'll have to get up at six o'clock, every one of us," declared Nancy; "put a pencil and paper beside your bed; each of us has got to have a rhyme and then we'll choose the best."

There was much yawning and stifled groaning next morning, but Nancy was firm and refused to retire to her own cubicle until she had seen each member of the crew provided with pencil and paper.

The fires of poetic genius burned low at such an early morning hour, but they knew, as well as Nancy did, that there would be no time after breakfast. So after much frowning and biting of pencils, five verses were written, and handed to Catherine to choose the best.

It was an exciting afternoon. There was a Senior cricket match being played and the Fifth-Formers were loath to lose one minute of that. Judith and Nancy were especially keen to watch Catherine's play. They would dash over to the match for ten minutes, and then race off to squeeze lemons, or see if the cakes had come, and then back again to the match.

Josephine and Joyce had made a huge bouquet of tea-roses interspersed with samples of the trees and shrubs and flowers which were to be planted in the "White Cottage" garden. Day girls had been requested to bring samples of cherry trees and gooseberry bushes and such things as were not to be found at York Hill. It was a somewhat curious-looking bouquet, however, for to each spray was attached a little wooden tag bearing the donor's name, and a bit of paper with the accompanying rhyme.

Miss Ashwell looked adorably pretty, they all agreed, when she and Miss Meredith joined them in the latter's garden after the cricket match. The guests were escorted to the wicker chairs under the trees and the girls seated themselves on rugs.

There was a moment's pause. Miss Ashwell confessed afterwards to a feeling of nervousness as to what was going to happen to her, for the day before, without a moment's notice, she had been literally showered with hankies by the little First-Formers. However, Sally May was discovered on her feet about to make a speech. Sally May, usually so glib of tongue, moistened her lips several times, and then, holding out the bouquet, she delivered at breakneck speed the little speech which she had composed—and fortunately memorized—for the occasion.

"Had the fright of my life, my dear," she whispered to Judith afterwards. "I felt like Alice in Wonderland growing taller and taller every moment—expected to be lost in the tree-tops. I'll never, never, never try to make a speech again."

Miss Meredith, who had also been presented with a bunch of lovely roses, leaned forward to examine Miss Ashwell's.

"Yours seems to be an unusually interesting bouquet, my dear," she observed. "May I see one of those butterflies? He seems to be on an apple-tree bough." And unfolding the wings of the butterfly—the butterflies were Five B's idea—she read:

"Drifting from the apple boughs, foam of pink and white Rippling through the branches in the green spring light; All the elfin breezes in the world, you see, Have come to play at snowflakes in your apple tree."

"Your apple tree! how charming!" said Miss Meredith; "who is the fairy godmother who is going to give you such a fascinating tree?" And taking up the little wooden tag she read, "St. Lawrence Apple, Frances Purdy."

"Miss Ashwell must read the next one," said Joyce after Frances's rhyme had been applauded, and she grinned rather wickedly as Miss Ashwell took the green branch held out to her and read the tag:

"Black currants, you know, In your garden which grow, Have more uses than perhaps you would think; When hubby's in bed, with a cold in his head, You may give him a black-currant drink."

Miss Ashwell's cheeks were as pink as the lovely rose from whose stalk she hurriedly took the next verse:

"Roses pink and white and nodding, Roses drenched with dew; What would you have but roses By a cottage built for two?"

Rosamond's effort was the signal for a burst of merriment:

"This bush will bring you wit and mirth, You'll happy be and merry, For in your house you'll never have A goose, but nice goose-berry."

"I wanted to say gooseberry pies," said Rosamond, "but it wouldn't rhyme." And she couldn't understand why their laughter was redoubled.

The crew of the "Jolly Susan" were becoming uneasy. Would Miss Ashwell overlook the bluebells in Five A's bouquet? Nancy held up the flowers for Miss Ashwell to choose, and rather ostentatiously turned the bluebells towards her, but she perversely chose Olivia's pansies. Five o'clock had rung and the maids were crossing the lawn with trays of the inevitable cake and lemonade. The crew felt desperate. Perhaps it was a case of telepathy, for, with her hand hovering over Marjorie's hollyhocks, Miss Ashwell seemed to change her mind and took up instead the bluebells:

"Bells from a crew of pirates bold That sail the 'Jolly Susan,' With bells the time is always told When our good ship's a-cruisin,' Heave-aho, my laddies, oh, All the bells are swinging, Flower-bells and ship bells, for your wedding ringing."

"They are to be Canterbury bells really," explained Josephine to Miss Ashwell as the lemonade was being served and the rest of the tags were being passed about so that they might all be read. "We hope you'll plant them in a long row: Canterbury was an awfully hard word to put into a poem, you know."

"It's the nicest verse of all," declared Miss Ashwell. "They'll be lovely in a row. What a garden I'm going to have!"

Nancy and Judith lingered after the party broke up. They made themselves very busy clearing away lemonade glasses and stray chairs just out of earshot of Miss Ashwell and Miss Meredith, who were talking busily. They hoped within themselves that Miss Meredith would depart, and Judith hoped that Nancy would go, and Nancy hoped that Judith would go.

But the five-thirty bell sounded and Nancy reluctantly went off to a music-lesson. Judith gathered up some bits of paper under a peony bush and with a sigh of relief saw Miss Meredith hurry away. Now was her chance. She waylaid Miss Ashwell at the door.

"Oh, Judy, it's been the loveliest party ever," said Miss Ashwell, putting her arm round Judith and giving her a happy little hug; "the nicest party I ever was at. However did you think of it all?"

And be it recorded in Judith's favour that she did not claim credit for the idea.

"We're awfully glad you liked it, for we wanted to give you something that wouldn't let you forget us." How ever was she to tell Miss Ashwell how she was going to miss her next year. "I'm glad to be one of the Canterbury bells, but I wanted a special flower of my own for you, something that would be sweet and rosy and—and—dear, so please don't let any one else give you a climbing rose because I want to give you one that will climb up and knock at your window in the early morning and say—" But she couldn't get any further. She had suddenly realized that in two weeks' time Miss Ashwell would be gone, that she loved her, and hated to think that next year some one else would be in the dear little room at the end of the corridor where she had so often found rest and comfort. A miserable lump swelled in her throat—she couldn't say another word.

"I know," said Miss Ashwell; "the roses will tap at the window and say, 'Get up, lazy person, and come out and weed the garden and clip the roses before breakfast,' or, 'Hurry, hurry, Judith and Nancy and all the rest of them are coming down to-day for lunch, this is a gala day,' or perhaps they'll just be fragrant and lovely and bring sweet remembrances of York Hill and Judith."

"Thank you," said Judith rather hoarsely, but she went away brimful of happiness because she knew that once more Miss Ashwell had understood.



CHAPTER XVI

A TOAST TO THE SCHOOL

JUDITH woke early Friday morning with a feeling that something was going to happen. "What is it?" she asked herself sleepily. "An examination? No! Thank goodness, they are all over for this year." Now she remembered, this was the day of the Reunion—and the Wedding! No wonder that she felt that something was going to happen. What a day it was going to be!

She stretched lazily, and instantly Nancy, who heard her moving, whispered:

"You awake, Judy? I can't sleep. The Old Girls are coming to-day. Oh, Goody! Goody! If the bell doesn't ring soon I'll burst. I simply must shout a little bit."

Nancy's smiling face appeared over the wall of the cubicle.

"Let's get up and be all dressed when the bell does ring, and then we can slip out into the garden."

"We'll have to be awfully quiet going for our baths," objected Judith, who didn't feel as energetic as Nancy appeared to be; "you go first."

Nancy agreed, but when she came back all rosy from her bath Judith was sound asleep. Nancy tiptoed over to the bed determined to wash the sleeper's face with a bath-sponge, when something in the utter relaxation of Judith's attitude struck her. Judith was tired, very tired. "And no wonder," thought Nancy, as she stole quietly and with infinite precautions back to her own room, "it makes me tired even to think of all we've done this week, and all there is to do yet, but it's awfully jolly. Poor Judy! What a good thing she's got her speech all ready for to-night. I am glad she isn't on the refreshment committee."

There was an air of excitement in the dining-room even at breakfast-time. Reminiscences of Old Girls were the order of the day, and Judith learned the names of some of the more famous graduates. She must look out for Kathryn Fleming, who had been singing in New York all season, but she couldn't miss her, she wasn't the sort who was easily overlooked; and Julia Weston, a judge of the Juvenile Court out West; and Penelope Adams, who had married a millionaire and was a great belle; and Martha Penrose, who was just "the sweetest little Virginian you ever saw"; and her chum, Winifred Freeman, who was matron of a big hospital; and Kitty Fisken, the artist; and Isobel Grier, who married Professor Mitchell. Judith finally put her fingers in her ears.

"Don't tell me about any more of them," she begged. "I'm beginning to get the same dazed feeling I had the first night I was here—I felt smothered in people."

Breakfast was usually a rather quiet time, but to-day there was such a clattering and chattering that Miss Langton rang the bell and asked for "Lower voices, please." Judith's neighbour, Marjory, grinned.

"This isn't anything to what it will be by to-morrow," she said.

Even the maids seemed infected by the spirit of gaiety, but if they moved more briskly than usual perhaps it was because they knew that there would be many extra tables for them to serve at luncheon-time.

By nine o'clock the noise in the corridor was deafening. Old Girls could evidently make a row when they chose. Such cries of joy on meeting their special pals! Such questionings and laughings! Such greetings with the Staff who forgot all about their waiting forms in their desire to welcome So-and-So and to hear the latest news of some one else! Miss Martin gave them ten minutes' grace before the bell rang for prayers, and then the Old Girls joined the Sixth and took their places in Big Hall once more. How happy Miss Meredith looked as the hymn was sung.

Judith found it difficult to listen to the reading of the lesson; she wished she had eyes in the back of her head to see the Old Girls with the Sixth. Nancy had told her before prayers that Evelyn Coulson, last year's Captain, had arrived, and Penelope Adams, looking perfectly stunning, and Dr. Mary Burgess, who had been in command of a Woman's Hospital Unit in Serbia. Judith wanted to see her most of all, and she wondered if Aunt Nell were with the others.

Prayers over, they went back to their form rooms, the Old Girls crowding into the Sixth-Form room for a talk from Miss Meredith; but Miss Meredith was detained for a few moments and they had a chance for reminiscences.

"Do you remember Miss Watson's plaid skirt? My dear, she has on the identical skirt now and her hair is just the same, only more so."

"Do you remember the time, Kathryn, you had to learn the 116th Psalm for Miss Meredith, and thought she said the 119th?" said a plump young matron with the contented look which belongs to mothers of happy little families. "I remember if you don't for you made our nights and days miserable hearing you, and then it was all a mistake."

"Do you remember the first debate we had on woman's rights? Gracious me, we thought we were advanced thinkers and no mistake."

"Do you remember the time Grace Wilton tried to trick the Infirmary nurse by pouring her dose of castor oil down a rubber tube attached to a bottle hid in her blouse, and how she poured it down the tube all right, but not into the bottle? She was in a mess."

"And do you remember Alice Roberts, when we had the measles epidemic, rubbing her chest with a stiff hairbrush and complaining of headache so that when nurse looked at her she sent her off to the Isolation House—to join her special pal?"

The Sixth hung on the outskirts of the crowd drinking in stories of the good old days, and then there was a sudden quiet in the room; Miss Meredith had returned and was standing by the desk looking at them so tenderly, so understandingly, that every girl knew that the Head Mistress had come in to them with the prayer in her heart that she might be able to give a message of strength and inspiration.

Such prayers are answered.

After the lesson the Old Girls moved away in little groups down to the Big Hall where they were to have their annual business meeting. A great deal of business was despatched during the next hour; notices of motion were given for the next meeting, the reports of various committees were read and approved, the question of this year's administration of the scholarship fund discussed with much interest, and suggestions made as to the form which this year's gift to the School should take. The President got through the business on hand as quickly as possible, for, as she pointed out, they had a real York Hill wedding on their hands, and the meeting adjourned to decorate Big Hall for the ceremony. They left it a bower of beauty. Some of the Old Girls had motored out to the country and brought great masses of white and purple lilac, and sweet-scented syringa, and big jars held the roses that the bride loved.

Judith and the rest of the "Jolly Susan" crew had begged to be allowed to help since they were Miss Ashwell's own cubicle girls, and they had a joyous time unpacking flowers which kept arriving, speculating as to the bride's gown, and wondering what they would feel like if they were going to be married that very afternoon.

"Next year won't be a bit the same," mourned Judith as she handed festoons of green to Nancy who was decorating the front of the platform. "Miss Ashwell will be gone and Catherine and Eleanor. I don't see whatever we'll do."

"Oh, it'll be up to us," laughed Nancy, stepping back to admire the handiwork.

"Us?" said Judith, aghast. "Why, I never thought of that before. I suppose we will be in the Sixth Form."

"Well, you're going to be," said Nancy with conviction. "I don't know whether I'll manage it or not. Oh, we'll have heaps to do next year, never fear. Let's go and dress now so we'll have plenty of time to arrange the last things for the supper."

Jane and Josephine were discussing the possibility of the bride appearing in a real wedding gown. To Judith's disappointment the popular vote seemed against it, since the wedding had been so hurriedly arranged. But when a little later Miss Ashwell looking her loveliest came down the aisle on Miss Meredith's arm, the most romantic of her romantic audience was satisfied with her truly bride-like appearance. Some of the girls afterwards could tell any number of details about the way the orange blossoms fastened her veil, and how the long train was lined, and whether her shoe buckles were of silver or of brilliants, but Judith had eyes only for the lovely face with its expression of serene and radiant happiness.

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