XXXI. Carl Does Penance
"I don't see why we should be punished at all," said Faith, rather sulkily. "We
didn't do anything wrong. We couldn't help being frightened. And it won't do
father any harm. It was just an accident."
"You were cowards," said Jerry with judicial scorn, "and you gave way to your
cowardice. That is why you should be punished. Everybody will laugh at you
about this, and that is a disgrace to the family."
"If you knew how awful the whole thing was," said Faith with a shiver, "you would
think we had been punished enough already. I wouldn't go through it again for
anything in the whole world."
"I believe you'd have run yourself if you'd been there," muttered Carl.
"From an old woman in a cotton sheet," mocked Jerry. "Ho, ho, ho!"
"It didn't look a bit like an old woman," cried Faith. "It was just a great, big, white
thing crawling about in the grass just as Mary Vance said Henry Warren did. It's
all very fine for you to laugh, Jerry Meredith, but you'd have laughed on the other
side of your mouth if you'd been there. And how are we to be punished? _I_ don't
think it's fair, but let's know what we have to do, Judge Meredith!"
"The way I look at it," said Jerry, frowning, "is that Carl was the most to blame.
He bolted first, as I understand it. Besides, he was a boy, so he should have
stood his ground to protect you girls, whatever the danger was. You know that,
Carl, don't you?"
"I s'pose so," growled Carl shamefacedly.
"Very well. This is to be your punishment. To-night you'll sit on Mr. Hezekiah
Pollock's tombstone in the graveyard alone, until twelve o'clock."
Carl gave a little shudder. The graveyard was not so very far from the old Bailey
garden. It would be a trying ordeal, but Carl was anxious to wipe out his disgrace
and prove that he was not a coward after all.
"All right," he said sturdily. "But how'll I know when it is twelve?"
"The study windows are open and you'll hear the clock striking. And mind you
that you are not to budge out of that graveyard until the last stroke. As for you
girls, you've got to go without jam at supper for a week."
Faith and Una looked rather blank. They were inclined to think that even Carl's
comparatively short though sharp agony was lighter punishment than this long
drawn-out ordeal. A whole week of soggy bread without the saving grace of jam!
But no shirking was permitted in the club. The girls accepted their lot with such
philosophy as they could summon up.
That night they all went to bed at nine, except Carl, who was already keeping
vigil on the tombstone. Una slipped in to bid him good night. Her tender heart
was wrung with sympathy.
"Oh, Carl, are you much scared?" she whispered.
"Not a bit," said Carl airily.
"I won't sleep a wink till after twelve," said Una. "If you get lonesome just look up
at our window and remember that I'm inside, awake, and thinking about you. That
will be a little company, won't it?"