Mechanically Tony Bevan made the required introductions. Whereupon the stranger added:
"I'm Paddy Clonmell's twin sister, you know; he was here last term, but he's gone to Sandhurst now. You'll remember him quite well, don't you?"
"Rather!" came in vigorous chorus from the three, and for the moment Tony Bevan's anxious expression changed to one of amusement.
The clock on the mantelpiece struck half-past eight.
"I think you fellows will need to go," said Tony; "Miss Clonmell will excuse you; it's more than time you were doing your prep."
"Ah, well, we'll meet again to-morrow," Miss Clonmell announced cheerfully. "There's ever so many of you I want to see. I know lots of you by name as well as can be."
As the door was shut behind the last of the prefects the girl drew her chair nearer to Tony's and laid a small deprecating hand upon his arm.
"I'm afraid I'm fearfully in the way, Tony," she said, in a voice that subtly combined excuse, apology, and reproach. "You don't seem a bit glad to see me; and if you won't let me stay here, Dad says I'd better go to the big girls' school in this town as a by-something or other, and I'll hate it!"
"My dear," and as he spoke Tony patted the pleading little hand that lay so lightly on his arm, "I am entirely delighted to see you, but as I said before, it is unfortunate that Miss Foster should happen to be away."
"Bother Miss Foster! I'm certain from all I've heard that she's the very worst sort of Aunt Emileen. I'm glad she's away; I'd far rather be here with you. Paddy says she's a regular catamaran. Honestly, Tony, now, isn't she?"
Tony pursed up his lips, and tried hard to look severe as he shook his head.
"I wish she were here just at present, anyhow. When irresponsible children turn up unexpectedly, it needs some one strict to look after them."
"Please, Tony, do you mind if I take off my hat? I didn't like to do it before those boys, for I haven't a notion what state my hair is in, but you've seen me at all times ever since I was a baby, haven't you? And you'll excuse it."
She drew the big jade pins out of her hat and laid it on the senior prefect's chair. Without it, she looked absurdly young: her face was the face of a child, full of soft curves and sweet, blurred outlines. There was something timid and beseeching in the dark eyes she raised to Tony Bevan so confidingly: eyes black-lashed, with faint blue shadows underneath--the "mark of the dirty finger" that every pretty Irishwoman is proud to possess.