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Jane was in sharp contrast to Miss Royle--taller and stocky, with broad
shoulders and big arms. As she halted against the open school-room door,
her hair was as ruddy as the panel that made a background for it. And
she had reddish eyes, and a full round face. In the midst of her face,
and all out of proportion to it, was her short turned-up nose, which was
plentifully sprinkled with freckles.
"So you're goin' out?" she began angrily, addressing the governess.
Miss Royle retreated a step. "Just for a--a couple of hours," she
Jane's face grew almost as red as her hair. Slamming the school-room
door behind her, she advanced. "I suppose it's the neuralgia again," she
suggested with quiet heat.
The color stole into Miss Royle's pale cheeks. She coughed. "It _is_ a
little worse than usual this afternoon," she admitted.
"I thought so," said Jane. "It's always worse--_on bargain-days_."
"How _dare_ you!"
"You ask me that, do you?--you old snake-in-the-grass!" Now Jane grew
pallid with anger.
Gwendolyn, listening, contemplated her governess thoughtfully. She had
often heard her pronounced a snake-in-the-grass.
Miss Royle was also pale. "That will do!" she declared. "I shall report
you to Madam."
"Report!" echoed Jane, giving a loud, harsh laugh, and shaking her
hair--the huge pompadour in front, the pug behind. "Well, go ahead. And
I'll report _you_--and your handy neuralgia."
"It's your duty to look after Gwendolyn when there are no lessons,"
reminded Miss Royle, but weakening noticeably.
"On _week_-days?" shrilled Jane. "Oh, don't try to fool me with any of
your schemin'! _I_ see. And I just laugh in my sleeve!"
Gwendolyn fixed inquiring gray eyes upon that sleeve of Jane's dress
which was the nearer. It was of black sateen. It fitted the stout arm
"This is the dear child's birthday, and I wish her to have the afternoon
"A-a-ah! Then why don't you take her out with you? You like the
auto_mo_bile nice enough,"--this sneeringly.
Miss Royle tossed her head. "I thought perhaps _you'd_ be using the
car," she answered, with fine sarcasm.
Jane began to argue, throwing out both hands: "How was _I_ to know
to-day was her birthday? You might've told me about it; instead, just
all of a sudden, you shove her off on my hands."
Gwendolyn's eyes narrowed resentfully.
Miss Royle gave a quick look toward the window-seat. "You mean you've
made plans?" she asked, concern supplanting anger in her voice.
To all appearances Jane was near to tears. She did not answer. She
"Well, Jane, you shall have to-morrow afternoon," declared Miss Royle,
soothingly. "Is _that_ fair? I didn't know you'd counted on to-day.
So--" Here another glance shot window-ward. Then she beckoned Jane. They
went into the hall. And Gwendolyn heard them whispering together.
When Jane came back into the nursery she looked almost cheerful. "Now
off with that habit," she called to Gwendolyn briskly. "And into
something for your dinner."
"I want to wear a plaid dress," announced Gwendolyn, getting down from
her seat slowly.
Jane was selecting a white muslin from a tall wardrobe. "Little girls
ain't wearin' plaids this year," she declared shortly. "Come."
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