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A harum-scarum schoolgirl by Angela Brazil

Say I've been over at Pendlemere Abbey


he said. 'We go to bed early in this part of the world, don't we? Or are we only getting up?'

"I walked to the fire and warmed my hands, and looked at him calmly. I was a funny child in those days.

"'It's neither,' I answered. 'I've got measles.'

"'Then please don't give them to me,' he laughed. 'I assure you I don't want them. Look here! I called to see your father, or, failing your father, your mother. They're both out, and I've been waiting half an hour for either of them to come in. I can't stay any longer. Will you give them a message from me? Say I've been over at Pendlemere Abbey, and that I've made a most interesting discovery there. If they care to communicate with me, I'll tell them about it. Here's my card with my address. Now I must bolt to keep an appointment. You'll remember the message?'


"He flung his card on the table, went out of the room, and I heard the hall door bang after him. I stood for a moment thinking. If I gave this message, Mother would know that I had been out of bed and downstairs, and I should be sure to get a tremendous scolding. I was a naughty little girl in those days; I took the card, flung it on the fire, seized _At the Back of the North Wind_ from the bookcase,

and tore upstairs again. Of course I caught cold, and had rather a serious relapse which puzzled everybody. No one except myself knew the reason, and I took good care not to tell. Only six months afterwards I lost both my father and mother, and went to live with my aunt at Liverpool. What became of the stranger I don't know. I didn't even remember his name."

"You weren't living at the Abbey then?"

"No, no! We never lived at the Abbey. It was sold before I was born. I believe at that time it was empty, and a caretaker used to allow tourists to look through it. I suppose that gentleman was a tourist."

"What had he found?"

"That's a question I've asked myself a hundred times. Was it a sliding panel or a secret door? Or was he simply some antiquarian crank who wanted to prove that the Abbey was of Norman origin, or built on a Roman foundation? How I wish I hadn't forgotten his name! When I heard that Pendlemere had been turned into a school I begged my aunt to send me here. For a long time she wouldn't, and I went to a day-school. Then two years ago she and uncle decided to send me to a boarding-school, so again I asked to come here, and after a great deal of urging they let me. I hoped I might find out something. I'm always hunting about, but I've never yet made the 'interesting discovery'."

"Where have you looked?" asked Diana, immensely thrilled.

"Oh, everywhere! I've tapped panels, and pushed bits of carving to see if they'd move, but they're all absolutely firm and solid. I've had no luck."

"I'll go exploring on my own."

"Well, if you do, don't tell the other girls. I hate to pose as a sort of turned-out heiress, and have them pitying me. If they knew I was hunting for hiding-places, I believe some of them would rag me dreadfully. I should never hear the last of it. They'd always be pretending they'd found something, just to tease me."

"And yet you ought to have been the heiress," mused Diana.

"It's no use talking about being an heiress when the place was sold before I was born," returned Loveday rather bitterly. "I've told you this, but I trust you not to go blabbing it all over the school. If you're ready, I'll blow out the candle. Miss Hampson will be round in a minute."

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