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- The Spanish Chest - 6/39 -
more American books," he replied, "but they are so extremely dear as compared with those published on this side of the Atlantic that we have not afforded them. How did I know your nationality? By the way you speak."
Frances looked disgusted. She said little more, but soon persuaded the reluctant Win to postpone his investigations and come down again into the Royal Square.
"Now, Sis, what's the matter with you?" Win inquired on seeing her flushed face.
"Oh, you didn't hear that man say he knew I was an American by the way I talked," sniffed Frances indignantly.
"Anybody would think you didn't want to be one," commented Roger bluntly.
"I wouldn't be anything else," retorted Frances, "only I don't care to have fun poked at the way I talk."
Win's glance traveled from his sister's annoyed face to Edith's, which wore a look of perplexity.
"We're polite," he remarked. "Here's Edith, who wouldn't be anything but English."
"No," said Edith gravely. "One always feels that way about one's country. But I understand what Frances means. And I see why people know you are not English. It isn't so much your pronunciation, but you put words in odd places in the sentence and some of your expressions are most unusual," she ended apologetically. "I like them. It is interesting to hear things called by new names. Just now Fran said 'poke fun' when she meant 'criticise,' and Roger says a thing is 'fine and dandy' when I should call it 'top-hole.' That is the difference, is it not?"
The others laughed and Edith's attempt to bridge a dangerous situation ended successfully. Presently their whereabouts absorbed their attention for Win had left the map behind him on the library table.
For a time they wandered at random, following one narrow street after another, seeing interesting shop windows, but presently discovered that they did not know where they were.
"The esplanade must lie at our left," said Win. "If we keep turning in that direction we shall surely strike it."
"Look at that candy," exclaimed Roger, attaching himself to a confectioner's window. "Here's a chance to acquire some choice English. What is black-jack, Edith? Looks like liquorice. Bismarck marble, Gladstone rock, toffy,--what's toffy?"
"It is sweets made of treacle instead of sugar," explained Edith, turning surprised eyes upon him.
"Sweets! treacle!" exclaimed Roger after a petrified instant. "Bring me a fan! Give me air!"
"Why," said Frances, a sudden light dawning on her. "Treacle! I never knew before what Alice in Wonderland meant by her treacle well. It's molasses, Edith. There are some chocolate peppermints!"
Without stopping for further speech Frances dashed into the shop. Presently she emerged, carrying a white paper bag, or "sack" as Edith designated it, and with an odd expression of face.
"Joke?" inquired Win. "What did you ask for?" he demanded, accepting a piece of candy.
"I got what I wanted," said Fran evasively. "It's always possible to walk behind a counter and help yourself if you don't know the names of things."
Later she drew Edith aside. "What do you call these?" she asked confidentially.
"Peppermint chocolate drops," replied Edith. "What else could they be?"
Turning constantly to the left did not bring them to the sea. Instead they walked a long distance only to find themselves in a poorer part of the town, with increasing crowds of children inclined to follow. Their appearance seemed a source of interest to older people as well and presently Win was induced to inquire his way to the boulevard.
To his surprise the reply came in French, but between his own knowledge and that of Edith, they made out that they were traveling inland instead of toward the shore. This sounded impossible unless they had completely lost all sense of direction.
But a second inquiry brought the same answer, so they followed the offered advice, coming at last to the bay of St. Aubin's more than a mile below St. Helier's, fortunately near one of the tram stopping-places. Edith was good for a walk home and Roger would have gone also if challenged, but both Win and Frances were tired so Edith did not propose to return by the beach. Indeed, the tide was now so high that they would have been forced to go part of the way by the road.
"School for us to-morrow," said Frances dismally. "But I think we should plan to do something very interesting every holiday all winter."
"We will take a tea-basket and lunch out of doors," replied Edith happily. "There are beautiful spots to visit in Jersey."
Win looked up suddenly. "Fran," he asked, "did you notice those gentlemen who rode out of the square while we were looking at the statue? Had you ever seen the younger one before?"
Fran shook her head. "I noticed only the one who spoke to you," she replied. "I was looking at their horses."
"All the same," mused Win thoughtfully, "I've seen that young fellow before and it must have been in the United States, for I know I should remember encountering him over here."
THE BEACH DOG
"You would certainly smile if you could see the school I am going to," Frances wrote to her chum, Marjorie Benton, "but when I think of you and the other girls back at the dear old Boston Latin, I feel more like crying.
"First I must tell you about Edith Pearce, the girl in the house where we are staying. She has long flaxen hair which hangs over her shoulders in the most childish way, though she's our age. Her eyes are gray with dark lashes and when she looks at you they are like surprised stars. And she has the most beautiful complexion in the world, just pink and white. She is lovely to look at and I feel like a tanned, homely gipsy beside her. She's sweet too, but very easily shocked and I'm afraid she's not only good but pious. She can never take your place so don't worry, only, as I have to be here, I might as well have some fun with her.
"I go to school with Edith and it is as unlike the Latin School as the North Pole and Boston Common. There are about thirty boarders, some of them little bits of things--Edith calls them 'tinies'--who have been sent home from India where their parents couldn't keep them any longer. About fifty day-scholars attend, from kindergarten age up.
"I'm the only American and I can tell you I was well stared at. At first the girls couldn't believe it, insisted that I must be Scotch or at least Canadian, so now I wear a little United States flag pin all the time. Gracious, but things are different, especially clothes! Mine are the prettiest in school, if I do say it, and Edith thinks so too. She says my 'frocks' are 'chic.'
"Most of the girls, even the big ones almost eighteen, wear their hair hanging and have _such_ dresses,--frocks, I mean. They fit like meal bags, and being combinations of many colors, look perfectly dreadful. And yet the girls are very nice, some of them from really important families.
"To cap the climax, most of them sport ugly black mohair aprons which they call 'alpaca pinnies.' Marjorie, can you imagine what they look like? I told Mother if she wanted me to be English to the extent of wearing a pinafore, I should lie down and die and I'm thankful to say that she simply grinned. But many of the girls have wonderful yellow or red-gold hair and stunning peachy complexions, so they aren't such frights as you'd think.
"Instead of going around from one class to another as in any sensible school, the girls stay in one room and teacher after teacher,--I mean mistress, comes to them. I get so everlastingly tired sitting still. Never before did I realize what a rest it was to walk from class to class and get a chat on the way. The only exceptions to this rule are preparation, when we sit at desks under the eye of a monitress, and gymnasium work.
"Marjorie, when I first beheld that gymnasium teacher, I nearly fainted. Her molasses-colored hair was frizzed hard in front and pinned in a round bun at the back of her head. She had on tight- fitting knee trousers, not bloomers, believe me. Over these she wore a white sweater of a very fancy weave. Over this was a weird tunic of alpaca with two box-plaits in front and three in back. This fell an inch or so below her knees, and every time she bent over or stretched up, those queer tight trousers showed. Her shoes were ordinary ones with heels. The girls wear either their usual frocks or an arrangement like this. I can tell you my pretty brown gym suit was the event of the day when I appeared in it.
"Everybody wears slippers at school, puts them on when she first comes and no wonder, because the English shoes are the worst- looking and clumsiest things ever invented by man. Edith's feet look twice as big in her boots as in slippers. You'd think by their appearance that English feet were a different shape from ours, but they are not; it is only the shoes. They make them so thick and stout that they last for years. Edith was plainly shocked when I told her I had a new pair every few months. She
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