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A harum-scarum schoolgirl by Angela Brazil

Who expected to meet them in Glenbury


Geraldine's

suggestions were generally received with favour at head-quarters. Miss Todd felt that the school was fizzing over, and must find some outlet for its excitement. An expedition to Glenbury to buy flags seemed feasible. They could have an early lunch, and start immediately afterwards. Those who possessed bicycles could ride, and the rest could walk a mile to Athelton village and catch the motor-omnibus which passed there. Everybody was satisfied with the arrangement, and the cyclists dispersed to oil their machines and pump tyres. Miss Todd and Miss Chadwick were going in the trap; even Spot, with a bow of red, white, and blue ribbon tied to his collar, was to accompany the party.

Diana did not possess a bicycle, so Wendy, out of sheer good-fellowship, decided to lend hers to Sadie and to take the omnibus, so that she herself might go in company with her chum. Nine girls and a mistress started off in good time for Athelton, slightly in advance of the cyclists, who expected to meet them in Glenbury. Even in the village of Pendlemere and the little hamlet of Athelton people were making peace rejoicings: flags hung from windows, and children ran about blowing tin trumpets, whistles, and mouth-organs. A string of small urchins had improvised a band, and paraded proudly along, banging on tin trays and old kettles, and yelling the National Anthem. Men talked eagerly together outside the post office; women stood at their doors and watched, some radiant

and excited, and some quieter, with a heartache behind the smile, as they thought of those lads who would not come marching home with the others.

The wild weather of the last few days seemed to have rolled away with the war clouds. The sky was flecked with blue, and the trees by the roadside were hung all over with drops that sparkled in the sun like jewels. The brook that ran down from the fells was tumbling along in a great brown stream, thundering under the bridge; robins, hopping in the wet hedgerows, twittered their plaintive little autumn song. A woman picked a marigold from her battered, rain-sodden garden, and handed it over the wall to Wendy. Everybody seemed to want to speak, even to strangers, and to tell how many of their relations had served in the war.

At last the omnibus, ten minutes late, came rumbling along, and stopped to pick up passengers. The school scrambled in, and with difficulty found places. It was a jolting journey, much crammed up among country people with baskets, but it was fun, even though the rattling almost shook them off their seats, for all the passengers seemed so good-tempered and jolly. On their arrival at Glenbury they found the town _en fete_, with bunting hanging across the streets, and large banners decorating the public buildings. The pavements were so full that the crowd overflowed into the road. The cyclist members of the Pendlemere party had arrived first, and had already bought flags, which they pinned in their hats. The motor-omnibus contingent rushed off immediately to secure any that were left, and to try to get some sweets. Miss Todd, who had put up the cart at the Queen's Hotel, met them as they were emerging from the confectioner's, sucking pear-drops and toffee.

"You're lucky, for sweets are scarce," she commented. "Thanks very much--I won't have one just now. Where are the others? Can you find them? I'm going to take you all up the church tower to get a bird's-eye view of the town. It will look nice to-day, with the flags out, and we ought to be able to see for miles round."

Glenbury Church was almost as large as a cathedral, and possessed a steeple which was a landmark for the neighbourhood. It was possible to ascend as far as the flying buttresses, and to walk round a stone causeway that encircled the tower just where the spire tapered up. The entrance was in the nave, through a small oak door studded with nails. The verger, aged, wheezy, and inclined to conversation, admitted them.


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