I stole out into the playground, wondering, wretched, and yet smitten through with faint delicious thrillings of a new-found happiness such, as I had often dreamed of, but had scarcely dared hope ever to realize. I, Janet Holme, going home! It was almost too incredible for belief. I wandered about like one mazed--like one who stepping suddenly out of darkness into sunshine is dazzled by an intolerable brightness whichever way he turns his eyes. And yet I was wretched: for was not Miss Chinfeather dead? And that, too, was a fact almost too incredible for belief. As I wandered, this autumn morning, up and down the solitary playground, I went back in memory as far as memory would carry me, but only to find that Miss Chinfeather and Park Hill Seminary blocked up the way. Beyond them lay darkness and mystery. Any events in my child's life that might have happened before my arrival at Park Hill had for me no authentic existence. I had been part and parcel of Miss Chinfeather and the Seminary for so long a time that I could not dissociate myself from them even in thought. Other pupils had had holidays, and letters, and presents, and dear ones at home of whom they often talked; but for me there had been none of these things. I knew that I had been placed at Park Hill when a very little girl by some, to me, mysterious and unknown person, but further than that I knew nothing. The mistress of Park Hill had not treated me in any way differently from her other pupils; but had not the bills contracted on my account been punctually paid by somebody, I am afraid that the even-handed justice on which she prided herself--which, in conjunction with her aquiline nose and a certain antique severity of deportment, caused her to be known among us girls as _The Roman Matron_--would have been somewhat ruffled, and that sentence of expulsion from those classic walls would have been promptly pronounced and as promptly carried into effect. Happily no such necessity had ever arisen; and now the Roman Matron lay dead in the little corner room on the second floor, and had done with pupils, and half-yearly accounts, and antique deportment, for ever. In losing Miss Chinfeather I felt as though the corner-stone of my life had been rent away. She was too cold, she was altogether too far removed for me to regard her with love, or even with that modified feeling which we call affection. But then no such demonstration was looked for by Miss Chinfeather. It was a weakness above which she rose superior. But if my child's love was a gift which she would have despised, she looked for and claimed my obedience--the resignation of my will to hers, the absorption of my individuality in her own, the gradual elimination from my life of all its colour and freshness. She strove earnestly, and with infinite patience, to change me from a dreamy, passionate child--a child full of strange wild moods, capricious, and yet easily touched either to laughter or tears--into a prim and elegant young lady, colourless and formal, and of the most orthodox boarding-school pattern; and if she did not quite succeed in the attempt; the fault, such as it was, must be set down to my obstinate disposition and not to any lack of effort on the part of Miss Chinfeather.