Winding Paths HTML version
seminary to fear the worst. Miss Emily Walton would never have
admitted it; but even she, fondly clinging to the old tradition that
the terms "girls" or "women" are less impressive than "young ladies",
felt somehow that the orthodox nomenclature did not successfully fit
her two most remarkable pupils. Of course they were ladies by birth and
education, else they would certainly not have been admitted to so
select a seminary; but whereas the rest of the pupils might be said
more or less to study, and improve, and have their being in a milk and
biscuit atmosphere, Hal and Lorraine were quite uncomfortably more like
champagne and good, honest, frothing beer.
No amount of prunes and prism advice and surroundings seemed to dull
the sparkle in Lorraine, nor daunt nor suppress fearless, outspoken,
unmanageable Hal. In separate camps, with a nice little following
each, to keep an even balance, they might merely have livened the free
hours; but as a combination it soon became apparent they would waken up
the embryo young ladies quite alarmingly, and initiate a new atmosphere
of gaiety that might become beyond the restraining, select influence
even of the Misses Walton.
The first scare came with the new French mistress, who had a perfect
Parisian accent, but knew very little English. Of course Lorraine
easily divined this, and, being something of a French scholar already,
she soon won Mademoiselle's confidence by one or two charmingly
expressed, lucid French explanations.
Then came the translation lesson, and choosing a fable that would
specially lend itself, she started the class off translating it into an
English fabrication that convulsed both pupils and mistress. Hal, of
course, followed suit, and the merriment grew fast and furious after a
few positively rowdy lessons.
Mademoiselle herself gave the fun away at the governesses' dinner, a
very precise and formal meal, which took place at seven o'clock, to be
followed at eight by the pupils' supper of bread-and-butter with
occasional sardines. She related in broken English what an amusing
book they had to read, repeating a few slang terms, that would
certainly not, under anu circumstances, have been allowed to pass the
lips of the young ladies.
After that it was deemed advisable Lorraine should translate French
alone, and Hal be severely admonished.
Then there was the dreadful affair of the Boys' College. It was not
unusual for them to walk past the school on Sunday afternoons; but it
was only after Lorraine came that a system was instituted by which, if
the four front boys all blew their noses as they passed, it was a
signal that a note, or possibly several, had been slipped under the
loose brick at the school entrance.
Further, it was only Lorraine who could have sent the answers, because
none of the other girls had an uncle often running down for a breath of
sea air, when, of course, he needed his dear niece's company. He was
certainly a very attentive uncle, and a very generous one too, judging
by the Buszard's cakes and De Brei's chocolates, and Miss Walton could
not help eyeing him a little askance.
But then, as Miss Emily said, he was such a very striking,
distinguished-looking gentleman, people had already been interested to