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The circumstances of the little kingdom had greatly changed,
however, during the short period of her absence. In place of Miss
Knag being stationed in her accustomed seat, preserving all the
dignity and greatness of Madame Mantalini’s representative, that
worthy soul was reposing on a large box, bathed in tears, while
three or four of the young ladies in close attendance upon her,
together with the presence of hartshorn, vinegar, and other
restoratives, would have borne ample testimony, even without the
derangement of the head-dress and front row of curls, to her
having fainted desperately.

‘Bless me!’ said Kate, stepping hastily forward, ‘what is the

This inquiry produced in Miss Knag violent symptoms of a
relapse; and several young ladies, darting angry looks at Kate,
applied more vinegar and hartshorn, and said it was ‘a shame.’

‘What is a shame?’ demanded Kate. ‘What is the matter? What
has happened? tell me.’

‘Matter!’ cried Miss Knag, coming, all at once, bolt upright, to
the great consternation of the assembled maidens; ‘matter! Fie
upon you, you nasty creature!’

‘Gracious!’ cried Kate, almost paralysed by the violence with
which the adjective had been jerked out from between Miss
Knag’s closed teeth; ‘have I offended you?’

You offended me!’ retorted Miss Knag, ‘You! a chit, a child, an
upstart nobody! Oh, indeed! Ha, ha!’

Now, it was evident, as Miss Knag laughed, that something
struck her as being exceedingly funny; and as the young ladies
took their tone from Miss Knag--she being the chief--they all got
up a laugh without a moment’s delay, and nodded their heads a

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