A Fourth Form Friendship

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Authors: Angela Brazil
bursting into the sitting-room, oblivious of the fact that a model hostess ought not to air such domestic catastrophes in public. The visitors did not stand on ceremony, however, but seized the opportunity to make a dash for the kitchen, into which they had been longing to peep.
    "I never dreamt of Raggles coming in! I thought he was tied up!" wailed Dora.
    "We oughtn't to have left the back door open," said Aldred.
    "It was so hot; one can't have the place all stuffy! Oh, the wretch! I wish they'd choked him!"
    "Has he taken every one?" asked the disconsolate guests.
    "All except three, and as he seemed to be licking the whole plateful, I don't suppose anybody would care to try what he's left!" replied Mabel.
    "My lovely scones! And I had split them and buttered them!" moaned Dora, almost in tears.
    "Well, we have the potato cakes, at any rate. Luckily, I put them on the top of the stove, to keep hot, and Raggles didn't find them out."
    "We'd better eat them quick, before any more accidents happen," advised Aldred, hastily pouring the water on the tea, and heading the procession back into the sitting-room.
    The potato cakes were a huge success. That was the universal verdict. They were light, and hot, and buttery, and the only fault to be found was that there were not nearly sufficient of them. Mabel handed the plate round with impartial justice, and there were only two apiece.
    "Just enough to make one want more!" sighed Ursula, consuming the last delicious crumb.
    "There's plenty of bread and butter, if you're hungry."
    "But I'm not bread-and-butter hungry!"
    "I'm sorry we've no jam!" apologized Dora.
    "Oh, don't!" begged Aldred, who still felt humiliated at the fate of the blackberries.
    "She didn't mean it!" interposed Mabel the peacemaker. "I vote we have some buttered toast, and anybody can hold it who likes to volunteer."
    When Miss Drummond arrived at six o'clock she found the visitors gone, the tea-things washed, and the whole of the wee establishment in apple-pie order; while three flushed, rather tired little maids-of-all-work stood at attention, ready for her tour of inspection.
    "Housekeeping isn't quite so easy and simple as it appears on the surface, is it?" she remarked. "In its own way, it has as many difficulties as Latin or mathematics, and needs as much learning. It's a very useful art, however, and worthy of cultivation. You'll have gained a little experience even in this one brief experiment, and your mistakes will teach you what to avoid next time. You have done very nicely, though, and I shall give you each a good report. Have you enjoyed your day at the cottage?"
    And all three girls answered: "Immensely!"
CHAPTER V
    Out of Bounds
    Aldred had never been to school before, but she was so happy at the Grange that she was sure no other place in the United Kingdom could be half so nice. Miss Drummond was certainly a delightful head mistress, and the model cottage was only one of her many original ideas. Following her theory of training her pupils in useful home arts, she allowed them to do many little things in the house that do not always come within the province of schoolgirls. Each classroom was provided with vases, and it was the monitresses' duty to keep these replenished, using leaves and berries when the garden supply failed. The prefects always arranged the flowers for the dinner-table, and the top girl in each Form had the privilege of attending to those in the drawing-room and in Miss Drummond's study. Those girls who gained ninety per cent in the monthly examinations were invited to the Principal's Wednesday afternoon "At Home", and helped to pass cups and entertain visitors, the one with the highest score being asked to pour out tea.
    Miss Drummond encouraged the girls to talk to her, and tried to make the whole atmosphere as homelike as possible, allowing a tolerable amount of liberty, so long as it did not degenerate into licence. She would discuss topics of the day, books, music, art, or any

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