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- Nan Sherwood at Rose Ranch - 3/37 -
Sherwoods in the face.
Then the unexpected happened. A distant relative of Mrs. Sherwood's died, leaving her some property in Scotland. But it was necessary for her to appear personally before the Scotch courts to obtain Hughie Blake's fortune.
Circumstances were such, however, that her parents could not take Nan with them. It was a hard blow to the girl; but she was plucky and ready to accept the determination of Momsey and Papa Sherwood. When they started for Scotland, Nan started for Pine Camp with her Uncle Henry, and the first book of this series relates for the most part Nan's exciting adventures in the lumber region of the Michigan Peninsula, under the title of: "Nan Sherwood at Pine Camp; Or, the Old Lumberman's Secret."
As has been mentioned, Nan and her chum, Bess Harley, had come to Lakeview Hall the previous September. The matter of Momsey's fortune had not then been settled in the Scotch courts; but enough money had been advanced to make it possible for Nan to accompany her chum to the very good boarding school on the shore of Lake Huron.
In "Nan Sherwood at Lakeview Hall; Or, the Mystery of the Haunted Boathouse," the two friends are first introduced to boarding-school life, and to this very merry, if somewhat thoughtless, company of girls that have already been brought to the attention of the reader in our present volume.
They were for the most part nice girls and, at heart, kindly intentioned; but Nan had gone through some harsh experiences, as well as exciting times, during the fall and winter semester at Lakeview Hall. She had made friends, as she always did; and the Masons, Grace and Walter, determined to have her with them in Chicago over the holidays. Therefore, in the third volume of the series, "Nan Sherwood's Winter Holidays; Or, Rescuing the Runaways," we find Nan and her chum with their friends in the great city of the Lakes.
During those two weeks of absence from school Nan certainly had experienced some exciting times. Included in her adventures were her experiences in rescuing two foolish country girls who had run away to be motion picture actresses. In addition Nan Sherwood had saved little Inez, a street child, and had taken her back to "the little dwelling in amity," as Papa Sherwood called their Tillbury home. For Nan's parents had returned from across the seas, and she was beginning this second semester at Lakeview Hall in a much happier state of mind in every way than she had begun the first one.
It was only to be expected that Nan would try to make the coming of the girl in brown, Rhoda Hammond, more pleasant than her own first appearance at school had been.
But the girls who had remained at the Hall over the holidays were fairly wild. At least, Mrs. Cupp said so, and Mrs. Cupp, Doctor Beulah Prescott's housekeeper, ought to know for she had had complete charge of the crowd during the intermission of studies.
"And, believe me," sighed Laura Polk, "we've led the dear some dance."
Mrs. Cupp looked very stern now as she suddenly appeared from her office at the end of the big hall. She scarcely responded to the greetings of the girls who had returned--not even to Nan's--but asked in a most forbidding tone:
"Who is there new? Girls who have for the first time arrived, come into my office at once. There is time for the usual formalities before supper."
"Oh, my dear," murmured Bess Harley wickedly, and loud enough for the girl in brown to hear her, "she is in a dreadful temper. She certainly will put these poor sawneys through the wringer tonight."
Rhoda Hammond evidently took this "with a grain of salt." She asked, before going to the office:
"What sort of instrument of torture is the 'wringer,' please?"
"I am speaking in metaphor," explained Bess. "But you wait! She will wring tears from your eyes before she gets through with you. As the little girls say, you can see her 'mad is up.'"
"Oh, now, Elizabeth," warned Nan, "don't scare her."
Rhoda walked away without another word. Bess looked after her with an admiring light in her eyes.
"Oh, Nan! isn't she beautifully dressed?"
"Richly dressed, I agree," said Nan. "But Mrs. Cupp will have something to say about that."
"I know," giggled the wicked and slangy Bess. "She'll give her an earful about dressing 'out of order.' She is worse than Linda."
"No. Better," said Nan confidently. "Whoever chose that girl's outfit showed beautiful taste, even if she is dressed much too richly for the standard of Lakeview Hall."
Linking arms a little later, when the supper gong sounded, the two friends from Tillbury sought the pleasant dining-room where the whole school--"primes" as well as the four upper divisions--ate at long tables, with an instructor in charge of each division.
But discipline was relaxed to-night, as it was always at such times. Even Mrs. Cupp, who, all through the meal, marched up and down the room with a hawk eye on everything and everybody, was less strict than ordinarily.
The moment Nan Sherwood appeared the little girls hailed her as their chum and "Big Sister." Nothing would do but she must sit at their table and share their food for this one meal.
"Oh, dear, Nan!" cried one little miss, "did you bring back Beautiful Beulah all safe and sound with you? Shall we have her to play with again this term?"
"Why, bless you, honey!" returned the bigger girl, "I did not even take the doll away. Mrs. Cupp has charge of it, and if she lets me, we will take it up into Room Seven, Corridor Four, to-morrow."
"Oh, won't that be nice?" acclaimed the little girls, for Nan's big doll was an institution at Lakeview Hall among more than the children in the primary department.
But at the end of the meal Nan was dragged away by the older girls. They were an excited and hilarious crowd.
"There's something doing!" whispered Bess in Nan's ear. "That new girl is on our corridor. You know the room that was shut up all last term?"
"That is the one. Rhoda has got it. And what do you think?"
"Almost any mischief," replied Nan, with dancing eyes.
"Oh, now, Nan! Well, Laura has told her that the room is haunted. Says a girl died there two years ago and it's never been used since. And so now her ghost will be sure to haunt it--"
"I think that is both mean and silly of Laura," interrupted Nan, with vigor. "She will have some of these little girls, who will be bound to hear the tale, scared half to death. Is that poor girl going to live in Number Eight alone?"
"She is until somebody else comes to mate with her," said Bess carelessly. "Come on, old Poky. We're going to have some fun with that wild Westerner."
"I'll go along," agreed Nan, smiling again, "if only to make sure that you crazy ones do not go too far in your hazing."
"CURFEW SHALL NOT RING TONIGHT"
In Corridor Four had always been centered most of Lakeview Hall's "high jinks," to quote Laura Polk. Although Procrastination Boggs, Nan Sherwood, Bess Harley, and several other dwellers on this corridor stood well up in their classes, Mrs. Cupp was inclined to locate most infractions of the school rules in the confines of Corridor Four.
"Our overflowing an-i-mile spirits, young ladies, are our bane," quoted Laura, talking through her nose. "Dr. Beulah has been away--has not arrived home yet--and we unfortunate orphans have been driven to bed with the chickens. I, for one, have revolted."
"You don't look very revolting, Laura," drawled Amelia Boggs, "even with that red necktie on crooked."
"Just the same, I have anarchistic tendencies. I feel 'em," declared the red-haired girl.
"That is not anarchism you feel," scoffed Bess. "If I had eaten what you did for supper--"
"Oh, say not so!" begged Laura. "Don't tell me that all this disturbance within me is from merely what I ate. Why, I feel that I might lead an assault on Cupp's office, take her by force, and immure her in--"
"The old secret passage to the boathouse," put in Nan.
"Oh, goodness--gracious--Agnes!" said Amelia, looking at one of her watches, "if we are going to do anything to that wild Western mustang to-night--"
"Hush! Have no fear," interrupted Laura. "There is time enough."
"Procrastination should know that," giggled Bess, "with all the watches and clocks she owns."
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