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   Chapter 16 A SPIN IN THE PARK

Nan Sherwood's Winter Holidays; Or, Rescuing the Runaways By Annie Roe Carr Characters: 7066

Updated: 2017-12-01 00:02


Grace's home was a beautiful, great house, bigger than the Harley's at Tillbury, and Nan Sherwood was impressed by its magnificence and by the spacious rooms. Her term at Lakeview Hall had made Nan much more conversant with luxury than she had been before. At home in the little cottage on the by-street, although love dwelt there, the Sherwoods had never lived extravagantly in any particular. Mrs. Sherwood's long invalidism had eaten up the greater part of Mr. Sherwood's salary when he worked in the Atwater Mills; and now that Mrs. Sherwood's legacy from her great uncle, Hugh Blake of Emberon, was partly tied up in the Scotch courts, the Sherwoods would continue to limit their expenditures.

At Mrs. Sherwood's urgent request, her husband was going into the automobile business. A part of the money they had brought back from Scotland had already been used in fitting up a handsome showroom and garage on the main street of Tillbury; and some other heavy expenses had fallen upon Mr. Sherwood, for which he would, however, be recompensed by the sale of the first few cars.

If Ravell Bulson injured Mr. Sherwood's business reputation by his wild charges, or if the company Mr. Sherwood expected to represent, heard of the trouble, much harm might be done. The automobile manufacturing company might even refuse to allow their cars to be handled by Mr. Sherwood-which was quite within their rights, according to the contract which had been signed between them.

Enough of this, however. Nan and Bess Harley were established with Grace Mason, in Chicago, expecting to have a fine time. Nan tried to put all home troubles off her mind.

The girls occupied a beautiful large suite together on the third floor, with a bath all their own, and a maid to wait upon them. Grace was used to this; but she was a very simple-minded girl, and the presence of a tidy, be-aproned and be-capped maid not much older than herself, did not particularly impress Grace one way or another.

"I feel like a queen," Bess confessed, luxuriously. "I can say: 'Do thus and so,' and 'tis done. I might say: 'Off with his head!' if one of my subjects displeased me, and he would be guillotined before you could wink an eye."

"How horrid!" said Grace, the shy. "I never could feel that way."

"It would never do for Elizabeth to be a grand vizer, or sultan, or satrap," Nan remarked laughingly.

"Who wants to be a 'shawl-strap'? Not I!" cried Bess, gaily. "I am Queen Bess, monarch of all I survey. Katie!"-the neat little maid had just entered the room-"will you hand me the book I was reading in the other room? I'm too weak to rise. Oh, thanks!"

Grace laughed; but Nan looked a little grave as Katie disappeared again.

"Don't, honey," Nan said to her thoughtless chum. "It isn't nice. The poor girl has necessary work enough without your making up thing's for her to do. She is on her feet from morning till night. She tells me that her ankles swell dreadfully sometimes, and that is awful for a young girl like her."

"Why, Nan!" Grace cried, "how did you know?"

"Katie told me," repeated Nan.

"But-but she never told me," expostulated their hostess.

"I don't suppose you ever saw her crying, as I did, while she was setting the dinner table. It was last evening. She had been on her feet more than usual yesterday. The doctor tells her that her arches are breaking down; but she cannot afford to have arch supports made at present, because her mother needs all the money Katie can earn."

"Mercy!" gasped Bess. "D

id you ever see such a girl as Nan? She already knows all the private history of that girl."

"No, I do not," said Nan, with some indignation. "I never asked her a thing. She just told me. Lots of girls who have to go out to service are troubled with their arches breaking down. Especially when the floors are polished wood with nothing but rugs laid down. Bare floors may be very sanitary; but they are hard on the feet."

"There you go!" sighed Bess, "with a lot of erudite stuff that we don't understand. I wish you wouldn't."

"I know why Katie, and other people as well, love to tell Nan all their troubles," said Grace, softly. "Because she is sympathetic. I am afraid I ought to have known about poor Katie's feet."

The very next day the little serving maid was sent by Mrs. Mason to the orthopedic shoe shop to be measured for her arch supports and shoes. But it was Nan whom poor Katie caught alone in a dark corner of the hall when she came back, and humbly kissed.

"An' bless yer swate heart, Miss, for 'twas yer kind thought stirred up

Miss Grace to tell the mistress. Bless yer swate heart again, I say!"

Nan kept this to herself, of course; but it pleased her very much that the word she had dropped had had such a splendid result. Grace, she knew, was a lovable girl and never exacting with the servants; and Mrs. Mason was good to her people, too. But it was a rather perfunctory sort of goodness, spurred by little real knowledge of their individual needs.

After this, it was quite noticeable that Grace was even more considerate of Katie and the other maids. Nan Sherwood had had little experience with domestic servants; but the appreciation of noblesse oblige was strong within her soul.

The girls' time, both day and evening, was fully occupied. The Masons' was a large household, and there seemed to be always company. It was almost like living in a hotel, only above and over all the freedom and gaiety of the life there, was the impression that it was a real home, and that the Mason family lived a very intimate existence, after all.

Walter and his father were close chums. Grace and her mother were like two very loving sisters. The smaller children were still with their governess and nurse most of the time. But there were times in every day when the whole family was together in private, with the rest of the household shut out.

There was always something going on for the young folk. The day's activities were usually planned at the general breakfast table. One day Nan had two hours of the forenoon on her hands, while her chum and Grace went shopping with Mrs. Mason. Nan did not like shopping-much.

"Not unless I can have lots of money in my pocket-book, and be extravagant," she said, laughing.

"You never were extravagant in your life!" declared Bess, in refutation of this.

However, Nan was left alone and Walter found it out. He had brought his black horse down from Freeling with him. He sent for this and the cutter, and insisted that Nan go with him through the park.

Nan went, and would have had a delightful time had it not been for a single incident. As they turned back, suddenly there met them a very handsome, heavy, family sleigh, the pair of horses jingling their harness-bells proudly, and with tossing plumes and uniformed coachman and footman.

"Goodness!" gasped Nan, as she saw a girl in furs lean far out of the great sleigh and wave her muff to Walter.

It was Linda Riggs. Linda quite ignored Nan's presence behind the black horse.

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