As he stood wondering whether he should go to the fence and look over, or simply accept the phenomenon as one of those things which no fellow can understand, there popped up before him the head and shoulders of a girl. Poised in her right hand was a third clod, which, seeing that there was now no need for its services, she allowed to fall to the ground.

“Halloa!” she said. “Good morning.”

She was a pretty girl, small and trim. Tom was by way of being the strong, silent man with a career to think of and no time for bothering about girls, but he saw that. There was, moreover, a certain alertness in her expression rarely found in the feminine population of Millbourne, who were apt to be slightly bovine.

“What do you think you’re messing about at?” she said, affably.

Tom was a slow-minded young man, who liked to have his thoughts well under control before he spoke. He was not one of your gay rattlers. Besides, there was something about this girl which confused him to an extraordinary extent. He was conscious of new and strange emotions. He stood staring silently.

“What’s your name, anyway?”

He could answer that. He did so.

“Oh! Mine’s Sally Preston. Mrs. Williams is my aunt. I’ve come from London.”

Tom had no remarks to make about London.

“Have you lived here all your life?”

“Yes,” said Tom.

“My goodness! Don’t you ever feel fed up? Don’t you want a change?”

Tom considered the point.

“No,” he said.

“Well, I do. I want one now.”

“It’s a nice place,” hazarded Tom.

“It’s nothing of the sort. It’s the beastliest hole in existence. It’s absolutely chronic. Perhaps you wonder why I’m here. Don’t think I wanted to come here. Not me! I was sent. It was like this.” She gave him a rapid summary of her troubles. “There! Don’t you call it a bit thick?” she concluded.

Tom considered this point, too.

“You make must the best of it,” he said, at length.

“I won’t! I’ll make father take me back.”

Tom considered this point also. Rarely, if ever, had he been given so many things to think about in one morning.

“How?” he inquired, at length.

“I don’t know. I’ll find some way. You see if I don’t. I’ll get away from here jolly quick, I give you my word.”

  By PanEris using Melati.

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