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A harum-scarum schoolgirl by Angela Brazil

Diana and Wendy sat on the bank lazily enjoying themselves


Then

began a series of perfectly delightful rides. Miss Carr and Diana would start out after tea, and explore all the bridle-roads in the neighbourhood. Sometimes they would go up on the moors, and enjoy a canter over the soft grass, or ride alongside the beautiful little lakes that lay like gems among the hills. Diana did not much mind where they went, so long as she could be upon Lady's back. Her new possession naturally aroused wild longing in the breasts of a considerable number of her schoolfellows. If it had been possible Miss Todd would have arranged for a riding-master to bring horses to Pendlemere and give lessons to some of the girls, but matters had not yet adjusted themselves sufficiently after the war for such an ambitious scheme as that, so she did the next best thing, hired a second pony, and sent certain girls, whose parents wished them to learn riding, out in relays. These elect few were regarded as favourites of fortune, but they were obliged to take their luck in turns. They could only have one ride a week each, and that was not nearly enough to content them. They wanted at least two.

"If Miss Todd could hire another pony," sighed Wendy, "that would mean we each got in a second lesson a week."

"Mr. Greenhalgh has tried, and says he can't hear of one anywhere," lamented Tattie. "Horses are scarce since the war, and ponies seem particularly wanted in the summer. It's very difficult to get riding-ponies."

style="text-align: justify;">"Glad I secured Lady," chuckled Diana.

"I think it's very mean of you to keep Lady all to yourself," retorted Sadie, airing a grievance. "Why can't you let her be the second school pony, and take your turn with the rest of us? It would be far fairer."

"Give up Lady? Well, I like that! Coolest idea I've ever heard! Why, I thought of the whole thing, and wrote to Dad, and she was hired specially for me. _Your_ riding lessons were only a copy of my idea. Get a third pony if you can, but I guess I'm not going to give up Lady to anybody. Why should I? Dad said she was to be mine."

"It's not sporty of you, though," grumbled Sadie. "You know perfectly well we _can't_ get a third pony, and everybody in the school is saying how hard it is for you to monopolize one entirely to yourself. There are six other girls who'd be glad to learn riding if they could get a mount."

"Then let them write home to their fathers to send them ponies."

"As if they could! But their fathers would let them take lessons if there were a school pony for them. I know that for a fact."

"Well, they shan't have mine, at any rate," rapped out Diana defiantly. "You just needn't think it, so there!"

One afternoon it was Wendy's turn for the school pony. She and Diana and Miss Carr rode away together down the road to Chapelrigg. It was a gloriously fine day. Wild roses starred the hedgerows, and the beautiful blue speedwell bordered the lanes. Larks were singing, and, though the cuckoo had changed his tune, blackbirds still fluted in the coppices.

They had come out on an errand--not a particularly romantic one, as it happened, only to pay a bill for Miss Todd at a farm-house a few miles away. If the errand was prosaic the farm and its surroundings looked attractive; it stood on a hill with a beautiful group of birch-trees behind it, and a small stream came rippling down at the bottom of the garden. The path from the high road was blocked by a cart left standing with a load of straw, so it would be impossible to ride the horses up to the door. The three riders dismounted, and Miss Carr, tying Baron to the fence, said she would walk up the lane and pay the bill while the girls waited for her in the road. Allowing Lady and Topsy to crop the grass in the hedge bottom, Diana and Wendy sat on the bank lazily enjoying themselves. It was very pleasant that afternoon to be alive. In that northern district although summer came late she made up for it by the extreme beauty with which she clothed the landscape; the view from the hill-side was like one of Turner's pictures.


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