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Nan Sherwood's Winter Holidays; Or, Rescuing the Runaways By Annie Roe Carr Characters: 5303

Updated: 2017-12-01 00:02

There were lights and music and flowers all about the big reception rooms, and a number of ladies and gentlemen were present besides the committee that had brought the medal for Nan. This was no time to retail such gossip as Linda Riggs had brought to her ears, and Miss Hagford, the governess, did not take her employer into her confidence at that time.

Besides, Nan was suddenly made the heroine of the hour.

If she had felt like running away as the party of young people returned to the Mason house from the moving picture show, Nan was more than desirous of escape now. The situation was doubly embarrassing after Linda Riggs' cruel accusation; for Nan had the feeling that some, at least, of these strange girls and boys must believe Linda's words true.

Nan knew that, all the way from the picture show, Linda had been eagerly giving her version of the difficulties that had risen between them since she and Nan had first met on the train going to Lakeview Hall. These incidents are fully detailed in the previous volume of this series, "Nan Sherwood at Lakeview Hall," as likewise is the incident which resulted in the presentation to Nan of the medal for bravery.

The ladies and gentlemen who had made it their business to obtain this recognition of a very courageous act, had traced the modest schoolgirl by the aid of Mr. Carter, the conductor of the train on which Nan and Bess had been so recently snow-bound.

The committee were very thoughtful. They saw that the girl was greatly embarrassed, and the presentation speech was made very brief. But Mrs. Mason, with overflowing kindness, had arranged for a gala occasion. A long table was set in the big dining room, and the grown folk as well as the young people gathered around the board.

The ill-breeding of Linda Riggs, and her attempt to hurt Nan's reputation in the eyes of the Masons' friends, were both smothered under the general jollity and good feeling. Afterward Bess Harley declared that Linda must have fairly "stewed in her own venom." Nobody paid any attention to Linda, her own cousin scarcely speaking to her. Only once did the railroad magnate's daughter have an opportunity of showing her ill-nature verbally.

This was when the beautiful gold medal was being passed around the table for the inspection of the company individually. It came in the course of events, to Linda. She took the medal carelessly and turned it over on her palm.

"Oh, indeed-very pretty, I am sure. And, of course, useful," she murmured. "I have been told that most of these medals finally find their way to the pawnshops."

This speech made Mrs. Mason, who heard it, look c

uriously at Linda; the

girls about her were silent-indeed, nobody made any rejoinder. It caused

Mrs. Mason, however, to make some inquiries of Miss Hagford, and later of

Grace and Bess.

The young folk danced for an hour to the music of a big disc machine. The committee of presentation had bidden Nan good-bye, and thanked Mrs. Mason for her hospitality. The party was breaking up.

Mrs. Mason called the young people together when the wraps of those who were leaving were already on.

"One last word, boys and girls, before we separate," the lady said softly, her arm around Nan, by whom she seemed to stand quite by chance. "I hope you have all had a pleasant time. If we cultivate a happy spirit we will always find pleasure wherever we go. Remember that.

"Criticism and back-biting in any social gathering breed unhappiness and discontent. And we should all be particularly careful how we speak of or to one another. I understand that there was one incident to mar this otherwise perfect evening. One girl was unkind enough to try to hurt the feelings of another by a statement of unmistakable falsehood."

Mrs. Mason's voice suddenly became stern. She was careful to avert her gaze from Linda Riggs' direction; but they all knew to whom she referred.

"I speak of this, boys and girls, for a single reason," the lady pursued. "For fear some of you may go home with any idea in your minds that the accusation against the girl vilified or against her father is in any particular true, I want you to tell your parents that I stand sponsor for both our dear Nan and her father. Neither could be guilty of taking that which was not his.

"Now, good-night all! I hope you have had a lovely time. I am sure this night will long be remembered by our Nan!"

The boys, led by Walter, broke into a hearty cheer for Nan Sherwood. Every girl save Linda came to kiss her good-night. Her triumph seemed unalloyed.

Yet the first mail in the morning brought a letter which dealt a staggering blow to Nan's Castle of Delight. Her mother wrote in haste to say that Mr. Ravell Bulson had been to the automobile manufacturers with whom Mr. Sherwood had a tentative contract, and had threatened to sue Mr. Sherwood if he did not return to him, Bulson, his lost watch and chain and roll of bankbills, amounting to several hundred dollars.

The automobile manufacturers had served notice on Mr. Sherwood that they would delay the signing of any final contract until Bulson's accusation was refuted. Almost all of Mrs. Sherwood's ready money, received through the Scotch courts, had been invested in the new automobile showroom and garage.

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