IT was the last week of the Christmas term, and all the girls at Gaylands School were looking forward to the Christmas holidays. Anne sat down at the breakfast-table and picked up a letter addressed to her.
 'Hallo, look at this!' she said to her cousin Georgina, who was sitting beside her. 'A letter from Daddy - and I only had one from him and Mummy yesterday.'
 'I hope it's not bad news,' said George, She would not allow anyone to call her Georgina, and now even the mistresses called her George. She really was very like a boy with her short curly hair, and her boyish ways. She looked anxiously at Anne as her cousin read the letter.
'Oh, George - we can't go home for the holidays!' said Anne, with tears in her eyes. 'Mummy's got scarlet fever - and Daddy is in quarantine for it - so they can't have us back. Isn't it just too bad?'
 'Oh, I am sorry,' said George. She was just as disappointed for herself as for Anne, because Anne's mother had invited George, and her dog Timothy, to stay for the Christmas holidays with them. She had been promised many things she had never seen before - the pantomime, and the circus - and a big party with a fine Christmas tree! Now it wouldn't happen.
 'Whatever will the two boys say?' said Anne, thinking of Julian and Dick, her two brothers. 'They won't be able to go home either.'
 'Well - what are you going to do for the holidays then?' asked George. 'Won't you come and stay at Kirrin Cottage with me? I'm sure my mother would love to have you again. We had such fun when you came to stay for the summer holls,'
 'Wait a minute - let me finish the letter and see what Daddy says, said Anne, picking up the note again. 'Poor Mummy - I do hope she isn't feeling very ill.'
 She read a few more lines and then gave such a delighted exclamation that George and the other girls waited impatiently for her to explain.
 'George! We are to come to you again - but oh blow, blow, blow! - we've got to have a tutor for the holls, partly to look after us so that your mother doesn't have too much bother with us, and partly because both Julian and Dick have been ill with 'flu twice this term, and have got behind in their work.'
 'A tutor! How sickening! That means I'll have to do lessons too, I'll bet!' said George, in dismay. 'When my mother and father see my report I guess they'll find out how little I know. After all, this is the first time I've ever been to a proper school, and there are heaps of things I don't know.'
 'What horrid holls they'll be, if we have a tutor running after us all the time,' said Anne, gloomily. 'I expect I'll have quite a good report, because I've done well in the exams - but it won't be any fun for me not doing lessons with you three in the holls. Though, of course,
I could go off with Timothy, I suppose. He won't be doing lessons!'
 'Yes, he will,' said George, at once. She could not bear the idea of her beloved dog Timothy going off each morning with Anne, whilst she, George, sat and worked hard with Julian and Dick.
 'Timothy can't do lessons, don't be silly, George,' said Anne.
 'He can sit under my feet whilst I'm doing them,' said George. 'It will be a great help to feel him there. For goodness' sake eat up your sausages, Anne. We've all nearly finished. The bell will go in a minute and you won't have had any breakfast.'
 'I am glad Mummy isn't very bad,' said Anne, hurriedly finishing her letter. 'Daddy says he's written to Dick and Julian - and to your father to ask him to engage a tutor for us. Oh dash - this is an awful disappointment, isn't it? I don't mean I shan't enjoy going to Kirrin Cottage again - and seeing Kirrin Island - but after all there are no pantomimes or circuses or parties to look forward to at Kirrin.'
 The end of the term came quickly. Anne and George packed up their trunks, and put on the labels, enjoying the noise and excitement of the last two days. The big school coaches rolled up to the door, and the girls clambered in.
 'Off to Kirrin again!' said Anne. 'Come on, Timothy darling, you can sit between me and George.'
 Gaylands School allowed the children to keep their own pets, and Timothy, George's big mongrel dog, had been a great success. Except for the time when he had run after the dustman, and dragged the dustbin away from him, all the way up the school grounds and into George's classroom, he had really behaved extremely well.
 'I'm sure you'll have a good report, Tim,' said George, giving the dog a hug. 'We're going home again. Will you like that?'
 'Woof,' said Tim, in his deep voice. He stood up, wagging his tail, and there was a squeal from the seat behind.
 'George! Make Tim sit down. He's wagging my hat off!'
 It was not very long before the two girls and Timothy were in London, being put into the train for Kirrin.
 'I do wish the boys broke up today too,' sighed Anne. 'Then we could all have gone down to Kirrin together. That would have been fun.'
 Julian and Dick broke up the next day and were to join the girls then at Kirrin Cottage. Anne was very much looking forward to seeing them again. A term was a long time to be away from one another. She had been glad to have her cousin George with her. The three of them had stayed with George in the summer, and had had some exciting adventures together on the little island off the coast. An old castle stood on the island and in the dungeons the children had made all kinds of wonderful discoveries.
 'It will be lovely to go across to Kirrin Island again, George,' said Anne, as the train sped off towards the west.
 'We shan't be able to,' said George. 'The sea is terribly rough round the island in the winter. It would be too dangerous to try and row there.'
 'Oh, what a pity,' said Anne disappointed. 'I was looking forward to some more adventures there.'
 'There won't be any adventures at Kirrin in the winter,' said George. 'It's cold down there - and when it snows we sometimes get frozen up completely - can't even walk to the village because the sea-wind blows the snow-drifts so high.'
 'Oooh - that sounds rather exciting!' said Anne.
 'Well, it isn't really,' said George. 'It's awfully boring -nothing to do but sit at home all day, or turn out with a spade and dig the snow away.'
 It was a long time before the train reached the little station that served Kirrin. But at last it was there steaming in slowly and stopping at the tiny platform. The two girls jumped out eagerly, and looked to see if anyone had met them. Yes - there was George's mother!
 'Hallo, George darling - hallo, Anne!' said George's mother, and gave both children a hug. 'Anne, I'm so sorry about your mother, but she's getting on all right, you'll be glad to know.'
 'Oh, good!' said Anne. 'It's nice of you to have us, Aunt Fanny. We'll try and be good! What about Uncle Quentin? Will he mind having four children in the house in the winter-time? We won't be able to go out and leave him in peace as often as we did in the summer!'
 George's father was a scientist, a very clever man, but rather frightening. He had little patience with children, and the four of them had felt very much afraid of him at times in the summer.
 'Oh, your uncle is still working very hard at his book,' said Aunt Fanny. 'You know, he has been working out a secret theory - a secret idea - and putting it all into his book. He says that once it is all explained and finished, he is to take it to some high authority, and then his idea will be used for the good of the country.'
 'Oh, Aunt Fanny - it does sound exciting,' said Anne. 'What's the secret?'
 'I can't tell you that, silly child,' said her aunt, laughing. 'Why, even I myself don't know it. Come along, now - it's cold standing here. Timothy looks very fat and well, George dear.'
 'Oh Mother, he's had a marvellous time at school,' said George. 'He really has. He chewed up the cook's old slippers ...'
 'And he chased the cat that lives in the stables every time he saw her,' said Anne.
 'And he once got into the larder and ate a whole steak pie,' said George; 'and once...'
 'Good gracious, George, I should think the school will refuse to have Timothy next term,' said her mother, in horror. 'Wasn't he well punished? I hope he was.'
 'No - he wasn't,' said George, going rather red. 'You see, Mother, we are responsible for our pets and their behaviour ourselves - so if ever Timothy does anything bad I'm punished for it, because I haven't shut him up properly, or something like that.'
 'Well, you must have had quite a lot of punishments then,' said her mother, as she drove the little pony-trap along the frosty roads. 'I really think that's rather a good idea!' There was a twinkle in her eyes, as she spoke.
Christmas holidays think I'll keep on with the same idea - punish you every time Timothy misbehaves himself!'
 The girls laughed. They felt happy and excited. Holidays were fun. Going back to Kirrin was lovely. Tomorrow the boys would come - and then Christmas would be there!
 'Good old Kirrin Cottage!' said Anne, as they came in sight of the pretty old house. 'Oh - look, there's Kirrin Island!' The two looked out to sea, where the old ruined castle stood on the little island of Kirrin - what adventures they had had there in the summer!
 The girls went into the house. 'Quentin!' called George's mother. 'Quentin! The girls are here.'
 Uncle Quentin came out of his study at the other side of the house. Anne thought he looked taller and darker than ever. 'And frownier!' she said to herself. Uncle Quentin might be very clever, but Anne preferred someone jolly and smiling like her own father. She shook hands with her uncle politely, and watched George kiss him.
 'Well!' said Uncle Quentin to Anne. 'I hear I've got to get a tutor for you! At least, for the two boys. My word, you will have to behave yourself with a tutor I can tell you!'
 This was meant to be a joke, but it didn't sound very nice to Anne and George. People you had to behave well with were usually very strict and tiresome. Both girls were glad when George's father had gone back into his study.
 'Your father has been working far too hard lately,' said George's mother to her. 'He is tired out. Thank goodness his book is nearly finished. He had hoped to finish it by Christmas so that he could join in the fun and games - but now he says he can't.'
 'What a pity,' said Anne, politely, though secretly she thought it was a good thing. It wouldn't be much fun having Uncle Quentin to play charades and things like that! 'Oh, Aunt Fanny, I'm so looking forward to seeing Julian and Dick - and won't they be pleased to see Tim and George? Aunt Fanny, nobody calls George Georgina at school, not even our Form mistress. I was rather hoping they would, because I wanted to see what would happen when she refused to answer to Georgina! George, you liked school, didn't you."
 'Yes,' said George, -I did. I thought I'd hate being with a lot of others, but it's fun, after all. But Mother, you won't find my report very good, I'm afraid. There were such a lot of things I was bad at because I'd never done them before.'
 'Well, you'd never been to school before!' said her mother. I'll explain it to your father if he gets upset. Now go along and get ready for a late tea. You must be very hungry.'
 The girls went upstairs to their little room. 'I'm glad I'm not spending my holls by myself,' said George. 'I've had much more fun since I've known you and the boys. Hi, Timothy, where have you gone?'
 'He's gone to smell all round the house to make sure it's his proper home!' said Anne, with a giggle. 'He wants to know if the kitchen smells the same - and the bathroom - and his basket. It must be just as exciting for him to come home for the holls as it is for us!'
 Anne was right. Timothy was thrilled to be back again.
He ran round George's mother, sniffing at her legs in friendliness, pleased to see her again. He ran into the kitchen but soon came out again because someone new was there - Joanna the cook - a fat, panting person who eyed him with suspicion.
 'You can come into this kitchen once a day for your dinner,' said Joanna. 'And that's all. I'm not having meat and sausages and chicken disappearing under my nose if I can help it. I know what dogs are, I do!'
 Timothy ran into the scullery and sniffed round there. He ran into the dining-room and the sitting-room, and was pleased to find they had the same old smell. He put his nose to the door of the study where George's father worked, and sniffed very cautiously. He didn't mean to go in. Timothy was just as wary of George's father as the others were!
 He ran upstairs to the girls' bedroom again. Where was his basket? Ah, there it was by the window-seat. Good! That meant he was to sleep in the girls' bedroom once more. He curled himself up in his basket, and thumped loudly with his tail.
 'Glad to be back,' said his tail, 'glad - to - be - back!'