A Fortunate Mistake (1904)

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"Oh, dear! oh, dear!" fretted Nan Wallace, twisting herself about uneasily on the sofa in her pretty room. "I never thought before that the days could be so long as they are now."

"Poor you!" said her sister Maude sympathetically. Maude was moving briskly about the room, putting it into the beautiful order that Mother insisted on. It was Nan's week to care for their room, but Nan had sprained her ankle three days ago and could do nothing but lie on the sofa ever since. And very tired of it, too, was wide-awake, active Nan.

"And the picnic this afternoon, too!" she sighed. "I've looked forward to it all summer. And it's a perfect day—and I've got to stay here and nurse this foot."

Nan looked vindictively at the bandaged member, while Maude leaned out of the window to pull a pink climbing rose. As she did so she nodded to someone in the village street below.

"Who is passing?" asked Nan.

"Florrie Hamilton."

"Is she going to the picnic?" asked Nan indifferently.

"No. She wasn't asked. Of course, I don't suppose she expected to be. She knows she isn't in our set. She must feel horribly out of place at school. A lot of the girls say it is ridiculous of her father to send her to Miss Braxton's private school—a factory overseer's daughter."

"She ought to have been asked to the picnic all the same," said Nan shortly. "She is in our class if she isn't in our set. Of course I don't suppose she would have enjoyed herself—or even gone at all, for that matter. She certainly doesn't push herself in among us. One would think she hadn't a tongue in her head."

"She is the best student in the class," admitted Maude, arranging her roses in a vase and putting them on the table at Nan's elbow. "But Patty Morrison and Wilhelmina Patterson had the most to say about the invitations, and they wouldn't have her. There, Nannie dear, aren't those lovely? I'll leave them here to be company for you."

"I'm going to have more company than that," said Nan, thumping her pillow energetically. "I'm not going to mope here alone all the afternoon, with you off having a jolly time at the picnic. Write a little note for me to Florrie Hastings, will you? I'll do as much for you when you sprain your foot."

"What shall I put in it?" said Maude, rummaging out her portfolio obligingly.

"Oh, just ask her if she will come down and cheer a poor invalid up this afternoon. She'll come, I know. And she is such good company. Get Dickie to run right out and mail it."

"I do wonder if Florrie Hamilton will feel hurt over not being asked to the picnic," speculated Maude absently as she slipped her note into an envelope and addressed it.

Florrie Hamilton herself could best have answered that question as she walked along the street in the fresh morning sunshine. She did feel hurt—much more keenly than she would acknowledge even to herself. It was not that she cared about the picnic itself: as Nan Wallace had said, she would not have been likely to enjoy herself if she had gone among a crowd of girls many of whom looked down on her and ignored her. But to be left out when every other girl in the school was invited! Florrie's lip quivered as she thought of it.

"I'll get Father to let me to go to the public school after vacation," she murmured. "I hate going to Miss Braxton's."

Florrie was a newcomer in Winboro. Her father had recently come to take a position in the largest factory of the small town. For this reason Florrie was slighted at school by some of the ruder girls and severely left alone by most of the others. Some, it is true, tried at the start to be friends, but Florrie, too keenly sensitive to the atmosphere around her to respond, was believed to be decidedly dull and mopy. She retreated further and further into herself and was almost as solitary at Miss Braxton's as if she had been on a desert island.

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