MoboReader > Literature > Billie Bradley on Lighthouse Island; Or, The Mystery of the Wreck

   Chapter 5 MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING

Billie Bradley on Lighthouse Island; Or, The Mystery of the Wreck By Janet D. Wheeler Characters: 9020

Updated: 2017-12-01 00:02


It was the spring of the year, a time when every normal boy and girl becomes restless for new scenes, new adventures. The girls at Three Towers Hall heard the mysterious call and longed through hot days of study to respond to it.

The teachers felt the restlessness in the air and strove to keep the girls to their lessons by making them more interesting. But it was of no use. The girls studied because they had to, not, except in a few scattered cases, because they wanted to.

One of the exceptions to the rule was Caroline Brant, a natural student and a serious girl, who had set herself the rather hopeless task of watching over Billie Bradley and keeping her out of scrapes. For Billie, with her love of adventure and excitement, was forever getting into some sort of scrape.

But these days it would have taken half a dozen Caroline Brants to have kept Billie in the traces. Billie was as wild as an unbroken colt, and just as impatient of control. And Laura and Vi were almost as bad.

There was some excuse for the girls. In the first place, the spring term at Three Towers Hall was drawing to a close, and at the end of the spring term came-freedom.

But the thing that set their blood racing was the thought of what was in store for them after they had gained their freedom. Connie Danvers had given the girls an invitation to visit during their vacation her father's bungalow on Lighthouse Island, a romantic spot off the Maine coast.

The prospect had appealed to the girls even in the dead of winter; but now, with the sweet scent of damp earth and flowering shrubs in the air, they had all they could do to wait at all.

The chums had written to their parents about spending their vacation on the island, and the latter had consented on one condition. And that condition was that the girls should make a good record for themselves at Three Towers Hall. And it is greatly to be feared that it was only this unreasonable-to the girls-condition that kept them at their studies at all.

It was Saturday morning, and Billie, all alone in one of the study halls, was finishing her preparation for Monday's classes. She always got rid of this task on Saturday morning, so as to have her Saturday afternoon and Sunday free. She had never succeeded in winning Laura and Vi over to her method, so that on their part there was usually a wild scramble to prepare Monday's lessons on Sunday afternoon.

As Billie, books in hand and a satisfied feeling in her heart, came out of the study room, she very nearly ran into Miss Arbuckle. Miss Arbuckle seemed in a great hurry about something, and the tip of her nose and her eyes were red as though she had been crying.

"Why, what's the matter?" asked Billie, for Billie was not at all tactful when any one was in trouble. Her impulse was to jump in and help, whether one really wanted her help or not. But everybody that knew Billie forgave her her lack of tact and loved her for the desire to help.

So now Miss Arbuckle, after a moment of hesitation, motioned Billie into the study room, and, crossing over to one of the windows, stood looking out, tapping with her fingers on the sill.

"I've lost something, Billie," she said, without looking around. "It may not seem much to you or to anybody else. But for me-well, I'd rather have lost my right hand."

She looked around then, and Billie saw fresh moisture in her eyes.

"What is it?" she asked gently. "Perhaps I-we can help you find it."

"I wish you could," said Miss Arbuckle, with a little sigh. "But that would be too good to be true. It was only an old family album, Billie. But there were pictures in it that I prize above everything I own. Oh, well," she gave a little shrug of her shoulders as if to end the matter. "I'll get over it. I've had to get over worse things. But," she smiled and patted Billie's shoulder fondly, "I didn't mean to burden your young shoulders with my troubles. Just run along and forget all about it."

Billie did run along, but she most certainly did not "forget all about it."

"Funny thing to get so upset about," she said to herself, as she slowly climbed the steps to her dormitory. "A picture album! I don't believe I'd ever get my nose and eyes all red over one. Just the same, I'd like to find it and give it back to her. Good Miss Arbuckle! After the Dill Pickles, she seems like an angel."

She was still smiling over the thought of what had happened to the Dill Pickles when she opened the door of the dormitory and came

upon her chums.

Laura and Vi and a dark-haired, pink-cheeked girl were sitting on one of the beds in one corner of the dormitory, alternately talking and gazing dreamily out of the window to Lake Molata, where it gleamed and shimmered in the morning sunlight at the end of a sloping lawn.

The dark-haired, pink-cheeked girl was Rose Belser. Rose Belser, being jealous of Billie's immense popularity at Three Towers Hall the term before, had done her best to get the new girl into trouble, only to be won over to Billie's side in the end. Now she was as firm a friend of Billie's as any girl in Three Towers Hall.

"Well!" was Laura's greeting as Billie sauntered toward them. "Methinks 'tis time you arrived, sweet damsel. Goodness!" she added, dropping her lazy tone and sitting up with a bounce, "I don't see why you have to go and spoil the whole morning with your beastly old studying. Think of the fun we could have had."

"Well, but think of the fun we're going to have this afternoon," Billie flung back airily, stopping before the mirror to tuck some wisps of hair into place, while the girls, even Rose, who was as pretty as a picture herself, watched her admiringly. "It's almost lunch time."

"You don't have to tell us that," said Vi in an aggrieved tone. "Haven't we been waiting for you all morning?"

"Oh, come on," said Billie, as the lunch gong sounded invitingly through the hall. "Maybe when you've had something to eat you'll feel better. Feed the beast--"

"Say, she's calling us names again," cried Laura, making a dive for Billie. But Billie was already flying down the steps two at a time, and when Billie once got a head start, no one, at least no one in Three Towers Hall, had a chance of catching up with her.

It seemed to be Billie's day for bumping into people-for at the foot of the stairs she had to clutch the banister to keep from colliding with Miss Walters, the beautiful and much loved head of the school.

At Billie's sudden appearance the latter seemed inclined to be alarmed, then her eyes twinkled, and as she looked at Billie she chuckled, yes, actually chuckled.

"Beatrice Bradley," she said, with a shake of her head as she passed on, "I've done my best with you, but it's of no use. You're utterly incorrigible."

Billie looked thoughtful as she seated herself at the table, and a moment later, under cover of the general conversation, she leaned over and whispered to Laura.

"Miss Walters said something funny to me," she confided. "I'm not quite sure yet whether she was calling me names or not."

"What did she say?" asked Laura, looking interested.

"She said I was incorrigible," Billie whispered back.

"Incorrigible," there was a frown on Laura's forehead, then it suddenly cleared and she smiled beamingly.

"Why yes, don't you remember?" she said. "We had it in English class the other day. Incorrigible means wicked, you know-bad. You can't reform 'em, you know-incorrigibles." The last word was mumbled through a mouthful of soup.

"Can't reform 'em!" Billie repeated in dismay. "Goodness, do you suppose that's what she really thinks of me?"

"I don't see why she shouldn't," Laura said wickedly, and Billie would surely have thrown something at her if Miss Arbuckle's eye had not happened at that moment to turn in her direction.

Miss Arbuckle's eye brought to Billie's mind the teacher's trouble, and she confided it in a low tone to Laura.

"Humph," commented Laura, her mind only on the fun they were going to have that afternoon, "I'm sorry, of course, but I don't believe any old album would make me shed tears."

"Don't be so sure of that, Laura."

"What? Cry over an old album?" and Laura looked her astonishment.

"But suppose the album had in it the pictures of those you loved very dearly-pictures perhaps of those that were dead and gone and pictures that you couldn't replace?"

"Oh, well-I suppose that would be different. Did she say anything about the people?"

"She didn't go into details, but she said they were pictures she prized above anything."

"Oh, perhaps then that would make a difference."

"I hope she gets the album back," said Billie seriously.

Then Laura promptly forgot all about both Miss Arbuckle and the album.

A little while later the girls swung joyfully out upon the road, bound for town and shopping and perhaps some ice cream and-oh, just a jolly good time of the kind girls know so well how to have, especially in the spring of the year.

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