They came in sight of the tree to which Marjorie always kept the canoe tied, and she looked anxiously, as usual, for the first sight of it. Suddenly, her heart stopped beating: she could not see it! "Alice!" she shrieked, in terror. "It's gone!" Alice followed Marjorie's gaze, but she, too, saw no canoe. However, she attributed no particular significance to that fact.
Perceiving that the girl was bowing to her, the globular lady hurriedly made shift to alter her injurious expression. "Good morning, Mrs. Dowling," Alice said, gravely. Mrs. Dowling returned the salutation with a smile as convincingly benevolent as the ghastly smile upon a Santa Claus face; and then, while Alice passed on, exploded toward her a single compacted breath through tightened lips.
When all were gathered at tea, Sylvia was quite calm again; rather paler than usual, and very attentive and subduced in her behaviour to Alice; she would evidently fain have been silent, but as Molly was her own especial guest, that could not be, so all her endeavours went towards steering the conversation away from any awkward points.
I'm sure they're getting up some affair." "I shouldn't wonder. If they'd only ask us " "We have a right to be asked!" and Alice flared up. The warning bell interrupted further conversation, and the girls and boys filed into their classrooms. As Alice had remarked, there was a good deal of talk going on among the four members of the newly-formed Camping and Tramping Club.
The next Sunday, needless to say, Society was not present; and within half a year the church was stranded, and had to be dismantled and sold! They had elaborate music at St. Cecilia's, so beautiful that Alice felt uncomfortable, and thought that it was perilously "high." At this Mrs.
Lady Alice rose and went, with a slight gesture of impatience. In a few minutes she returned, looking angry and determined, and resumed her seat. But whatever it was that had passed between them, it had destroyed that quiet flow of the feelings which was necessary to the working of her thoughts. In vain she tried: she could do nothing correctly. At last she burst into tears and left the room.
She slipped out into the hall, and closed the door after her. There was a low murmur of voices, gradually growing louder on the part of the unseen caller. Ruth seemed pleading. Then Mr. DeVere and Alice heard: "It's no use. The boss says he won't send around any more meat until the bill is paid. He told me to tell you he couldn't wait any longer that's all there is to it!" "Oh!"
"Miss Neilson, you will think me rude, of course, especially after your great kindness to me the other day; but I can't help it. It seems to me best to speak now before it goes any further." "Alice, dear," remonstrated Mrs. Greggory, extending a frightened hand.
As she stood there with him in the doorway, chattering, Rowcliffe was struck again with the excitement of her voice and manner, imperfectly restrained, and with the quivering glitter of her eyes. By these signs he gathered that if Alice was happy her happiness was not complete. It was not happiness in his sense of the word. But Alice's face was unmistakably the face of hope.
The same evening he took Alice with him for a ramble round the castle wall, while they talked of grave matters, and he as usual allowed her a dim and doubtful view of some of those cloud-built castles in which he habitually dwelt, and among which his jaded hopes revived.