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A harum-scarum schoolgirl by Angela Brazil

She switched off the light and lay down again


bang, and the ladies of the

party had to sit for an hour by the roadside, while the men-folk fixed on the Stepney wheel. Giles's love for by-roads landed him sometimes in difficulties. He whisked them once down a charming primrose-starred lane, only to find that it ended in a ford. As you cannot run a car through even the shallowest river without stopping the engine, it was evidently a case of "thus far and no farther", and there was nothing for it but a return to the highway. There was no room to turn in the narrow lane, so the car had to back the whole distance to the road--a most difficult performance between high banks and round sharp corners, and one which required all Giles's skill as a chauffeur. Another time, trying a short cut across some fields, the car ran into soft earth and refused to stir. Her occupants got down and tried with their united efforts to push her out of her "slough of despond", but with no effect. Giles kept starting the engine, but the wheels, instead of gripping, simply turned round and round, and sank deeper into the soil. They were obliged to go to a farm for help, and have planks fixed under the wheels before the heavy car could move on to terra firma and proceed with its journey. These little accidents, however, all added a spice of adventure and fun to the tour; the young folks, at any rate, did not wish everything to be too plain sailing; they thoroughly enjoyed the romantic side of the trip, and liked to get off the beaten track into the wilds of the country. They had
brought all sorts of wonderful contrivances for cooking the mid-day lunch, which they always ate out-of-doors. There was an apparatus with a spirit-lamp for making coffee, which whistled like a canary when the beverage was brewed; there was a marvellous double frying-pan, heated merely by strips of newspaper being lighted underneath it, which cooked eggs and sausages with surprising speed; and there was a neat canteen-basket with cups, plates, spoons, forks, and knives all ready to hand. In their enthusiasm the boys would have liked to sleep in the car had that been possible, and Lenox often regretted wistfully that they had not brought tents with them to pitch for the night.

"No, thanks," said Mr. Hewlitt. "You youngsters may enjoy that sort of thing; but I consider this British climate is too damp for camping out, and I much prefer a comfortable bed at a decent hotel."

"Besides which, the hotels are so delightfully old-world and quaint, I shouldn't like to miss them," added Mrs. Hewlitt.

"Rather _too_ old-world sometimes," shivered her daughter.

Diana had had an unpleasant experience the night before. Generally she and Loveday slept together, but on this occasion they had been given separate rooms. Diana, who had a tiresome trick of waking, furiously hungry, in the small hours of the morning, put a couple of biscuits under her pillow before she got into bed, so as to be prepared for any emergencies of appetite. She woke suddenly in the night, with the horrible sensation that a hand was groping under her pillow. She switched on the electric light by her bedside, but nothing was to be seen. Thinking she must have been dreaming, she switched off the light and lay down again. Hardly was she settled, and sinking off to sleep, when once more came a most unmistakable movement under her pillow. Thoroughly scared, she switched on the light, only to find nothing. When this happened a third time she no longer dared remain in the dark, so lighted a candle which fortunately stood on the mantelpiece, and placed it on a table not far from her bed. She could not see everything in the room, and lay watching with wide-open eyes. For a few minutes all was absolutely still; then came a slight noise, and along the rail at the foot of the bed ran something with whiskers, either a young rat or the very biggest mouse she had ever seen.


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