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Title: Grace Harlowe's Junior Year at High School - Or, Fast Friends in the Sororities
Author: Flower, Jessie Graham [pseud.], -1931
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Grace Harlowe's Junior Year at High School - Or, Fast Friends in the Sororities" ***

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Grace Harlowe's Junior Year
at High School

OR

Fast Friends in the Sororities

By
JESSIE GRAHAM FLOWER, A.M.

  Author of Grace Harlowe's Plebe Year at High School, Grace Harlowe's
       Sophomore Year at High School, Grace Harlowe's Senior
                     Year at High School, etc.

  Illustrated

  PHILADELPHIA
  HENRY ALTEMUS COMPANY

  COPYRIGHT, 1911, BY HOWARD E. ALTEMUS

[Illustration: Grace Snatched Off the White Mask.
   _Frontispiece--High School Girls No. 3._]



CONTENTS

CHAPTER                                           PAGE

    I. A NEW ARRIVAL                                 7

   II. CONFIDENCES                                  20

  III. AN AUTUMN WALKING EXPEDITION                 30

   IV. GRACE MAKES A DISCOVERY                      42

    V. THE PHI SIGMA TAU                            53

   VI. A VISIT TO ELEANOR                           68

  VII. THE CLAIM OF THE "ARTISTIC TEMPERAMENT"      78

 VIII. ELEANOR THROWS DOWN THE GAUNTLET             85

   IX. THE RESCUE PARTY                             96

    X. JULIA PERFORMS A SACRED DUTY                106

   XI. WORRIES AND PLANS                           121

  XII. A RECKLESS CHAUFFEUR                        129

 XIII. A THANKSGIVING FROLIC                       137

  XIV. ELEANOR FINDS A WAY                         145

   XV. A WOULD-BE "LARK"                           150

  XVI. THE JUNIORS FOREVER                         163

 XVII. THE LAST STRAW                              173

XVIII. THE PLAY'S THE THING                        182

  XIX. THE TRY OUT                                 191

   XX. THE ANONYMOUS LETTER                        199

  XXI. BREAKERS AHEAD                              208

 XXII. AS YOU LIKE IT                              215

XXIII. THE JUNIOR PICNIC                           235

 XXIV. CONCLUSION                                  252



Grace Harlowe's Junior Year at High School



CHAPTER I

A NEW ARRIVAL


"Next to home, there is really nothing quite so satisfying as our
dear old High School!" exclaimed Grace Harlowe, as she entered the
locker-room and beamed on her three friends who stood near by.

"It does seem good to be back, even though we have had such a perfectly
glorious summer," said Jessica Bright. "We are a notch higher, too.
We're actually juniors. This locker-room is now our property, although
I don't like it as well as the one we had last year."

"We'll get accustomed to it, and it will seem like home inside of two
weeks," said Anne Pierson philosophically. "Everything is bound to
change in this world, you know. 'We must put ourselves in harmony with
the things among which our lot is cast.'"

"Well, Marcus Aurelius, we'll try to accept your teaching," laughed
Grace, who immediately recognized the quotation as coming from a tiny
"Marcus Aurelius Year Book" that Anne kept in her desk and frequently
perused.

"I wonder what school will bring us this year?" mused Nora O'Malley, as
she retied her bow for the fifth time before the mirror and critically
surveyed the final effect. "We had a stormy enough time last year,
goodness knows. Really, girls, it is hard to believe that Miriam Nesbit
and Julia Crosby were at one time the banes of our existence. They come
next to you three girls with me, now."

"I think that we all feel the same about them," replied Grace. "Miriam
is a perfect dear now, and is just as enthusiastic over class matters as
we are."

"It looks as though everything were going to be plain sailing this
year," said Jessica. "There isn't a disturbing element in the class that
I know of. Still, one can never tell."

"Oh, here come Eva Allen and Marian Barber," called Grace delightedly,
and rushed over to the newcomers with outstretched hands.

By this time girls began to arrive rapidly, and soon the locker-room
hummed with the sound of fresh, young voices. Coats of tan were compared
and newly acquired freckles deplored, as the girls stood about in
groups, talking of the delights of the summer vacation just ended.

To the readers of "GRACE HARLOWE'S PLEBE YEAR AT HIGH SCHOOL," and
"GRACE HARLOWE'S SOPHOMORE YEAR AT HIGH SCHOOL," the girl chums have
become familiar figures. It will be remembered how Grace Harlowe and her
friends, Nora O'Malley and Jessica Bright, during their freshman year,
became the firm friends of Anne Pierson, the brilliant young girl who won
the freshman prize offered each year to the freshmen by Mrs. Gray. The
reader will recall the repeated efforts of Miriam Nesbit, aided by Miss
Leece, the algebra teacher, to disgrace Anne in the eyes of the faculty,
and the way each attempt was frustrated by Grace Harlowe and her
friends. Mrs. Gray's house party, the winter picnic in Upton Wood, and
Anne Pierson's struggles to escape her unworthy father all contributed
toward making the story stand out in the reader's mind.

In "GRACE HARLOWE'S SOPHOMORE YEAR," the girl chums were found leading
their class in athletics. Here, Miriam Nesbit, still unsubdued, endeavored
once more to humiliate Anne Pierson, and to oust Grace from her position
as captain of the basketball team, being aided in her plan by Julia
Crosby, captain of the junior team, against whom the sophomores had
engaged to play a series of three games. Grace's brave rescue of Julia
Crosby during a skating party and the latter's subsequent repentance
restored good feeling between the two classes, and the book ended with
the final conversion of Miriam after her long and stubbornly nursed
enmity.

David Nesbit's trial flight in his aëroplane, Grace's encounter with the
escaped lunatic, who imagined himself to be Napoleon Bonaparte, were
among the features which made the book absorbing from start to finish.

The clang of the first bell broke in upon the chattering groups, and
obedient to its summons, the girls moved slowly out of the locker-room
and down the corridor, talking in subdued tones as they strolled toward
the study hall.

Miss Thompson stood at her desk, serene and smiling, as the girls filed
in.

"How well Miss Thompson looks," whispered Grace to Anne as they neared
their seats. "Let's go up and see her when this session is over. It's
sure to be short this morning."

It was customary on the opening of school for the members of the various
classes to take their seats of the previous year. Then the sections were
rearranged, the seniors taking the seats left by the graduates, and the
other classes moving up accordingly. The first day of school amounted to
really nothing further than being assigned to one's seat and getting
used to the idea of school again. Miss Thompson usually addressed the
girls on the duty of High School students, and the girls went forth full
of new resolutions that last for at least a week.

Grace looked curiously about her. She wondered if there were to be many
new girls that year. The present freshmen, direct from the Grammar
Schools, sat on the front seats looking a trifle awed at the idea of
being academic pupils, and feeling very strange and uncomfortable under
the scrutiny of so many pairs of eyes.

Her glance wandered toward the new sophomore class, as though in search
of some one, her eyes brightening as she caught sight of the brown-eyed
girl who had won the freshman prize the previous June. The latter looked
as helpless and friendless as when Grace first saw her step up on the
platform to receive her money. "I shall certainly find out more about
that child," she decided. "What is her name? I heard it at commencement,
but I have forgotten it."

Taking a leaf from a little note-book that she always carried, Grace
wrote: "Do you see the freshman-prize girl over among the sophomores?
What is her name? I can't remember." Then, folding the paper, she tossed
it to Anne, who nodded; then wrote, "Mabel Allison," and handed it to
the girl sitting opposite her, who obligingly passed it over to Grace.

With a nod of thanks to Anne, Grace glanced at the paper and then at the
owner of the name, who sat with her hands meekly folded on her desk,
listening to Miss Thompson as though her life depended upon hearing
every word that the principal uttered.

"I want all my girls to try particularly this year to reach a higher
standard than ever before," Miss Thompson concluded, "not only in your
studies, but in your attitude toward one another. Be straightforward
and honorable in all your dealings, girls; so that when the day comes
for you to receive your diplomas and bid Oakdale High School farewell,
you can do so with the proud consciousness that you have been to your
schoolmates just what you would have wished them to be to you. I know of
no better preparation for a happy life than constant observation of the
golden rule.

"And now I hope I shall have no occasion to deliver another lecture
during the school year," said the principal, smiling. "There can be no
formation of classes to-day, as the bulletins of the various subjects
have just been posted, and will undoubtedly undergo some changes. It
would be advisable, however, to arrange as speedily as possible about
the subjects you intend to take, as we wish to begin recitations by
Friday at the latest, and I dare say the changes made in the schedule
will be slight."

Then the work of assigning each class to its particular section of the
study hall began. The seniors moved with evident pride into the places
reserved for the first class, while the freshmen looked visibly relieved
at having any place at all to call their own. Immediately after this the
classes were dismissed, and a general rush was made to the end of the
great room, where the bulletins were posted.

Grace, Nora, Anne and Jessica wished to recite in the same classes as
far as could be arranged, and a lively confab ensued as to what would
be best to take. They all decided on solid geometry and English reading,
as they could be together for these classes, but the rest was not so
easy, for Nora, who loathed history, was obliged to take ancient history
to complete her history group, the other girls having wisely completed
theirs the previous year. Jessica wanted to take physical geography,
Anne rhetoric, and Grace boldly announced a hankering for zoölogy.

"How horrible," shuddered Jessica. "How can you bear to think of cutting
up live cats and dogs and angleworms and things."

"Oh, you silly," laughed Grace. "You're thinking of vivisection. I wouldn't
cut up anything alive for all the world. The girls did dissect crabs and
lobsters, and even rabbits, last year, but they were dead long before
they ever reached the zoölogy class."

"Oh," said Jessica, somewhat reassured, "I'm glad to hear that, at any
rate."

"That makes three subjects," said Nora. "Now we want one more. Are any
of you going to be over ambitious and take five?"

"Not I," responded Grace and Jessica in chorus.

"I shall," said Anne quietly. "I'm going to learn just as much as I can
while I have the chance."

"Well," said Jessica, "you're different. Five studies aren't any harder
for you than four for us."

"Thank the lady prettily for her high opinion of your ability, Anne,"
said Grace, laughing. "She really seems to be sincere."

"She's too sincere for comfort," murmured Anne, who hated compliments.

"We haven't settled on that fourth subject yet," interposed Nora.

"Why don't you all take French, it is such a beautiful language," said
a soft voice behind them. "I'm sure you'd like it."

The four girls turned simultaneously at the sound of the strange, soft
voice, to face a girl whose beauty was almost startling. She was a
trifle taller than Grace and beautifully straight and slender. Her hair
was jet black and lay on her forehead in little silky rings, while she
had the bluest eyes the girls had ever seen. Her features were small and
regular, and her skin as creamy as the petal of a magnolia. She stood
regarding the astonished girls with a fascinating little smile that was
irresistible.

"Please excuse me for breaking in upon you, but I saw you from afar, and
you looked awfully good to me." Her clear enunciation made the slang
phrase sound like the purest English. "I have just been with your
principal in her office. She told me to come here and look over the list
of subjects. Do you think me unpardonably rude?" She looked appealingly
at the four chums.

"Why, of course not," said Grace promptly, recovering in a measure from
her first surprise. "I suppose you are going to enter our school, are
you not? Let me introduce you to my friends." She named her three chums
in turn, who bowed cordially to the attractive stranger.

"My name is Grace Harlowe. Will you tell me yours?"

"My name is Eleanor Savell," replied the new-comer, "and I have just
come to Oakdale with my aunt. We have leased a quaint old house in the
suburbs called 'Heartsease.' My aunt fell quite in love with it, so
perhaps we shall stay awhile. We travel most of the time, and I get very
tired of it," she concluded with a little pout.

"'Heartsease'?" cried the girls in chorus. "Do you live at 'Heartsease'?"

"Yes," said the stranger curiously. "Is there anything peculiar about
it?"

"Oh, no," Grace hastened to reply. "The reason we are interested is
because we know the owner of the property, Mrs. Gray, very well."

"Oh, do you know her?" replied Eleanor lightly. "Isn't she a dainty,
little, old creature? She looks like a Dresden shepherdess grown old.
For an elderly woman, she really is interesting."

"We call her our fairy godmother," said Anne, "and love her so dearly
that we never think of her as being old." There had been something about
the careless words that jarred upon Anne.

"Oh, I am sure she is all that is delightful," responded Miss Savell,
quickly divining that Anne was not pleased at her remark. "I hope to
know her better."

"You are lucky to get 'Heartsease,'" said Grace. "Mrs. Gray has refused
over and over again to rent it. It belonged to her favorite brother, who
willed it to her when he died. She has always kept it in repair. Even
the furniture has not been changed. I have been there with her, and
I love every bit of it. I am glad to know that it has a tenant at last."

"Mrs. Gray knew my aunt years ago. They have kept up a correspondence
for ever so long. It was due to her that we came here," said Eleanor.

"Is your aunt Miss Margaret Nevin?" asked Anne quietly.

"Why, how did you know her name?" cried Eleanor, apparently mystified.
"'This is getting curiouser and curiouser.'"

The four girls laughed merrily.

"Anne is Mrs. Gray's private secretary," explained Jessica. "She tends
to all her correspondence. I suppose you have written more than one
letter to Miss Savell's aunt, haven't you, Anne!"

"Yes, indeed," replied Anne. "Her name is very familiar to me."

"What class are you girls in?" said Eleanor, abruptly changing the
subject. "Or aren't you all in the same class?"

"We are all juniors," laughed Nora, "and proud of it. Our green and
callow days are over, and we have entered into the realm of the upper
classes."

"Then I shall enter the junior class, too, for I choose to hob-nob with
you girls. Don't say you don't want me, for I have made up my mind; and
it is like the laws of the Medes and Persians, unchangeable."

"We shall be glad to welcome a new classmate, of course," responded
Grace. "I hope you will soon be one of us. Did Miss Thompson say that
you would have to take examinations?"

"She did, she did," answered Eleanor ruefully. "Still I'm not much
afraid. I've studied with a tutor, so I'm pretty well up in mathematics
and English. I can speak French, German, Italian and Spanish almost as
well as English. You know I've lived most of my life abroad. I'll manage
to pass somehow."

"I should think you would," exclaimed Anne admiringly. "I hope you pass,
I'm sure. Perhaps you'll be too far advanced for our class."

"Never fear, my dear," said Eleanor. "My heart is with the juniors, and
leave it to me not to land in any other class. But, really, I've bothered
you long enough. I must go back to your principal and announce myself
ready to meet my fate. I hope to know you better when examinations have
ceased to be a burden and the weary are at rest. That is, if I survive."

With a gay little nod, and a dazzling smile that revealed almost perfect
teeth, she walked quickly down the long room and out the door, leaving
the girl chums staring after her.

"What an extraordinary girl!" said Jessica. "She acts as though she'd
known us all her life, and we never set eyes on her until she marched in
and calmly interrupted us ten minutes ago."

"It doesn't seem to make much difference whether or not we like her. She
has decided she likes us, and that settles it," said Grace, smiling.
"What do you think of her, Anne? You are a pretty good judge of
character."

"I don't know yet," replied Anne slowly. "She seems charming. She must
be awfully clever, too, to know so many languages, but----"

"But what?" queried Nora.

"Oh, I don't know just what I want to say, only let's proceed slowly
with her, then we'll never have anything to regret."

"Come on, girls," said Jessica impatiently. "Let's hurry. You know we
promised to meet the boys as soon as school was over."

The girl chums walked out of the study hall, each with her mind so full
of the new girl, who had so suddenly appeared in their midst, that the
proposed call upon Miss Thompson was entirely forgotten.



CHAPTER II

CONFIDENCES


"I am the bearer of an invitation," announced Anne Pierson as the four
girls collected in one corner of the locker-room during the brief recess
allowed each morning.

"Mrs. Gray wishes to see us all at four o'clock this afternoon. We are
to dine with her and spend the evening, and the boys are invited for the
evening, too. So we will have just time enough after school to go home
and dress."

"You had better meet at my house, then," said Grace, "for it's on the
way to Mrs. Gray's. Good-bye. Be sure and be there at a quarter of four
at the latest."

Promptly at the appointed time the girls hurried up the Harlowe walk.
They were met at the door by Grace, who had been standing at the window
for the last ten minutes with hat and gloves on, impatiently waiting
their arrival.

As they neared Mrs. Gray's beautiful home, Anne said in a low tone to
Grace, who was walking with her, "I suppose Mrs. Gray has a double
motive in asking us up here to-day. I believe she wants to talk to us
about Eleanor Savell. Miss Nevin called on Mrs. Gray yesterday and they
were in the parlor together for a long time. After Miss Nevin had gone,
Mrs. Gray told me that Miss Nevin was anxious that Eleanor should
associate with girls of her own age. That is the reason she brought her
to Oakdale."

"Hurry up, you two," called Nora, who had reached the steps. "How you do
lag to-day."

"You will hear more of this later," whispered Anne.

Mrs. Gray stood in the wide hall with hands outstretched in welcome. She
kissed each girl affectionately, but her eyes lingered upon Anne, who
was plainly her favorite. The old lady had become so accustomed to the
sympathetic presence of the quiet, young girl that it seemed, at times,
as though her own daughter had come back to her once more.

"Come right into the library and make yourself comfy," cried Mrs. Gray
cheerily. "I spend most of my time there. The view from the windows is
so beautiful, and as one grows old, one resorts more and more to book
friendships."

"What shall we do with you, Mrs. Gray, if you keep on insisting that you
are old?" said Grace. "You're not a day older at heart than any of the
rest of us. Here, sit down in this nice, easy chair, while we take turns
telling you just how young you are."

"It is due to my adopted children that I am not a cross, crotchety,
complaining old woman," said Mrs. Gray, allowing Grace to seat her in
the big leather-covered arm chair.

"Now, what does your Majesty crave of her loyal subjects?" inquired
Grace, bowing low before the little, old lady.

"Very well, if I am queen, then I must be obeyed. Draw up your chairs
and sit in a circle. I want to tell you a little story. That is partly
my reason for inviting you here this afternoon, although you know you
are welcome whenever you choose to come."

"Is it a fairy story, dear Mrs. Gray, and does it begin with 'Once upon
a time'?" queried Jessica.

"It is a story of real life, my child, but I'll begin it like a fairy
tale if you wish it."

"Oh, please begin at once," said Grace, who, at eighteen, was as fond of
a story as she had been at six.

"Well, 'once upon a time,' there were two sisters. They were really only
half sisters, and the one was almost twenty years older than the other.
The mother of the elder sister had died when she was about fifteen years
of age, and two years later the father had married a beautiful young
Irish girl of very good family, who loved him dearly in spite of the
difference in their ages.

"After they had been married a little over two years, a little girl came
to them, and the older sister loved the tiny baby as dearly as she loved
her beautiful, young step-mother."

"Why, that sounds very much like Grimm's fairy tales!" exclaimed Nora.
"Only the book people are all kings and queens, but this is even better
because the heroine is actually Irish."

There was a general laugh over Nora's remark in which Mrs. Gray joined.

"It's a case of Ireland forever, isn't it Nora?" said Grace teasingly.

"'Fine and dandy are the Irish,'" said Nora with a grin, quoting from a
popular song she had heard in a recent musical comedy. "But stop teasing
me, and let Mrs. Gray go on with her story."

"When the baby sister, whose name was Edith, was about three years old,
the beautiful young mother died and left the husband inconsolable. A
year later he was killed in a railroad accident, and the elder sister,
named Margaret, was left with only little Edith to comfort her. The
father had been a rich man, so they had no anxiety about money, and
lived on year after year in their beautiful old home, with everything
heart could wish.

"As Edith grew older, she developed a decided talent for music, and
when she was fifteen Margaret decided to take her abroad and allow her
to enter one of the great conservatories of Europe. They went to
Leipsic, and Edith, who had high hopes of one day becoming a concert
pianiste, continued her studies under the best instructors that money
could procure. Things ran along smoothly until Edith met a young Italian
named Guido Savelli, who was studying the violin at the same
conservatory. His brilliant playing had already created a sensation
wherever he appeared, and he gave promise of being a virtuoso.

"He fell violently in love with Edith, who had her mother's beautiful blue
eyes and the combination of white skin and black hair that go to make an
Irish beauty. She returned his love, and after a brief engagement they
were married, much against the wishes of Margaret, who thought them both
too young and impressionable to know their own minds."

"And did they live happy ever after?" asked Grace eagerly.

"That is the sad part of my story," said Mrs. Gray, sighing. "They were
anything but happy. They both had too much of the artistic temperament
to live peaceably. Besides, Guido Savelli was thoroughly selfish at
heart. Next to himself, his music was the only thing in the world that
he really cared for. When they had been married for about a year and a
half he played before the king, and soon became the man of the hour. He
neglected his beautiful young wife, who, in spite of their frequent
quarrels, loved him with a pure and disinterested affection.

"Finally he went on a concert tour through the principal European
cities, and she never saw him again. She wrote him repeatedly, but he
never answered her letters, and she was too proud to follow him. She had
one child, a baby girl, named Eleanor, who was the sole comfort of the
heartbroken mother."

At this juncture Anne and Grace exchanged significant glances.

"When Eleanor was about a year old, the mother wrote Guido Savelli once
more, begging him to come to her, if only for the sake of his child, but
either he never received the letter or else paid no attention to it, for
she received no reply. She relapsed into a dull, apathetic state, from
which the repeated efforts of her sister failed to arouse her. The
following winter she contracted pneumonia and died, leaving her sister
the sole guardian of Eleanor."

"How long ago did all this happen, dear Mrs. Gray?" queried Nora
eagerly, "and is little Eleanor living?"

"It was sixteen years ago, my dear," replied Mrs. Gray, "and the reason
that I have told you this long tale is because the baby girl is almost a
woman now, and----"

"The girl is Eleanor Savell and we met her the other day," broke in
Grace excitedly, forgetting for an instant that she had interrupted Mrs.
Gray. "She is going to live at 'Heartsease' and---- oh, Mrs. Gray,
please pardon me for interrupting you, I was so excited that I didn't
realize my own rudeness."

"Granted, my dear," smiled the old lady. "But how did you happen to meet
Eleanor? They arrived only a few days ago."

Grace rapidly narrated their meeting and conversation with Eleanor,
while Mrs. Gray listened without comment. When Grace repeated Eleanor's
remark about having made up her mind, the old lady looked a little
troubled. Then her face cleared and she said softly:

"My dear Christmas children, I am very anxious that for her own sake you
should become well acquainted with Eleanor. Her aunt was here yesterday,
and we had a long talk regarding her. Eleanor is an uncommon girl in
many respects. She has remarkable beauty and talent, but she is
frightfully self-willed. Her aunt has spoiled her, and realizes too
late the damage she has done by having allowed her to grow up on the
continent. They have lived in France, Germany, Italy and Spain, with an
occasional visit to America, and Eleanor has always done just as she
pleased. For years her aunt has obeyed her slightest whim, but as she
grows older she grows more like her father, and her aunt wants her to
have some steadying influence that will put a curb on her unconventional
tendencies.

"When she wrote me of Eleanor, I wrote her about my girls, and offered
her 'Heartsease.' She was delighted with the whole thing and lost no
time in getting here. So now you understand why I have told you all
this. I want you to promise me that you will do what you can for this
motherless girl."

"But we felt sure we should like her when we saw her the other day,"
said Nora. "She seemed so sweet and winning."

"So she is. She has her father's winning personality, and a good deal of
his selfishness, too," replied Mrs. Gray. "You won't find her at all
disagreeable. But she is reckless, self-willed, defiant of public
opinion and exceedingly impulsive. I look to you girls to keep her out
of mischief."

"Well, we'll try, but I never did pride myself on being a first-class
reformer," said Grace, laughing.

"Where is her father now?" asked Anne. "Is it possible that he is the
great Savelli who toured America two years ago?"

"He is the man," said Mrs. Gray. "He is a wonderful musician. I heard
him in New York City. I shall never forget the way he played one of
Liszt's 'Hungarian Rhapsodies.' I must caution you, girls, never to
mention Eleanor's father to her. She has been kept in absolute ignorance
of him. When she is twenty-one her aunt will tell her about him. If she
knew he was the great Savelli, she would rush off and join him
to-morrow, she is so impulsive. She has the music madness of both father
and mother. Her aunt tells me she is a remarkable performer on both
violin and piano."

"But why shouldn't she go to her father if he is a great musician?" said
Jessica. "And why is she called Savell, if her name is Savelli?"

"Because, my dear, her father has never evinced the slightest desire to
look up his own child. Even if he had, he is too irresponsible and too
temperamental to assume the care of a girl like Eleanor," Mrs. Gray
answered. "No, Eleanor is better off with her aunt. As to her name, her
aunt hates everything Italian, so she dropped the 'I' and made the name
Savell."

"My," said Nora with a sigh. "She is almost as remarkable as a fairy
princess, after all."

"Oh, I don't know," replied Grace quickly. "Her life, of course, has
been eventful, but I believe if we are to do her any good we shall just
have to act as though she were an everyday girl like the rest of us. If
we begin to bow down to her, we shall be obliged to keep it up. Besides,
I have an idea that I am as fond of having my own way as she is."

"Dinner is served," announced John, the butler.

The four girls arose and followed Mrs. Gray to the dining room. During
the dinner Eleanor was not again mentioned, although she occupied more
or less of the four girls' thoughts.

Later on, David, Hippy and Reddy appeared and a merry frolic ensued. It
was after ten o'clock before the little party of young folks prepared to
take their departure.

"Remember, I rely upon you," whispered Mrs. Gray to Grace as she kissed
her good night. Grace nodded sympathetically, but went home with an
uneasy feeling that playing the guardian angel to Eleanor would be
anything but a light task.



CHAPTER III

AN AUTUMN WALKING EXPEDITION


"It is simply too lovely to go home to-day," exclaimed Grace Harlowe to
her three chums as they strolled down High School Street one sunny
afternoon in early October. "I move that we drop our books at my house
and go for a walk."

"I'm willing to drop my books anywhere and never see them again,"
grumbled Nora O'Malley, who was not fond of study.

"I ought to go straight home," demurred Anne Pierson, "but I'll put
pleasure before duty and stay with the crowd."

"What about you, Jessica?" asked Grace.

"You couldn't drive me home," replied Jessica promptly.

"Very well," laughed Grace, "as we are all of the same mind, let's shed
these books and be off."

After a brief stop at Grace's home, the four girls started out, keenly
alive to the beauty of the day. The leaves on the trees were beginning
to lose their green and put on their dresses of red and gold. Though the
sun shone brightly, the air was cool and bracing, and filled one with
that vigor and joy of living which makes autumn the most delightful
season of the year.

Once outside the gate, the chums unconsciously headed in the same
direction.

"I believe we all have the same place in mind," laughed Grace. "I was
thinking about a walk to the old Omnibus House."

"'Great minds run in the same channel,'" quoted Jessica.

"I haven't been out there since the spread last year," said Anne.

"I have," said Grace, with a slight shudder. "I am not likely to forget
it, either."

"Well we are not apt to meet any more Napoleon Bonapartes out there,"
said Nora, referring to Grace's encounter with an escaped lunatic, fully
narrated in "GRACE HARLOWE'S SOPHOMORE YEAR AT HIGH SCHOOL."

They were nearing their destination when Anne suddenly exclaimed: "Look,
girls. Some one is over at the old house. I just saw a man go around the
corner!"

The girls looked quickly in the direction of the house. Just then a
figure appeared, stared at the approaching girls and began waving his
hat wildly, at the same time doing a sort of war dance.

"It's another lunatic," screamed Jessica. "Run, girls, run!"

"Run nothing," exclaimed Nora. "Don't you know Reddy Brooks when you see
him? Just wait until I get near enough to tell him that you mistook him
for a lunatic. Hurrah! David and Hippy are with him."

"Well, well, well!" exclaimed Hippy as the girls approached. "Here is
Mrs. Harlowe's little girl and some of her juvenile friends. I'm very
glad to see so many Oakdale children out to-day."

"How dare you take possession of the very spot we had our eye on?" asked
Grace, as she shook hands with David.

"I came over to try my bird before I have it sent home for the winter,"
replied David. "I was just locking up."

"And the exhibition is all over," cried Grace in a disappointed tone.
"I'm so sorry. You see, I still have a hankering for aëroplanes."

"There wasn't any exhibition, after all," said David. "It wouldn't fly
worth a cent to-day. I shall have to give it a complete overhauling when
I get it back to my workshop. What are you girls doing out this way?"

"Oh, we just came out to walk, because it was too nice to stay indoors,"
said Anne. "And now we are particularly glad we came."

"Not half as glad as I am," replied David, looking at her with a smile.

"Speaking of walking," remarked Hippy, "I have decided to go in for a
little on my own account. Object, to become a light weight. Is there any
one who will encourage me in this laudable resolution, and beguile me
while I go 'galumphing' over the ground?"

"Oh, I know something that would be perfectly fine!" exclaimed Nora,
hopping about in excitement.

"Watch her," cried Hippy. "She is about to have a conniption. She always
has them when an idea hits her. I've known her for years and----"

"Make him stop," appealed Nora to David and Reddy, "or I won't tell any
of you a single thing."

"I'll desist, merely to please the Irish lady, not because I'm afraid of
you two long, slim persons," said Hippy, cleverly dodging both David and
Reddy.

"Suppose we go on a walking expedition," said Nora. "We can start early
some Saturday morning, with enough lunch to last us all day, and walk to
the other side of Upton Wood and back. My sister would be glad to go
with us, so that will settle the matter of having an older person along.
We can have the whole day in the woods, and the walk will do us all
good. We won't have many more chances, either, for winter will be upon
us before we know it. It's a shame to waste such perfect days as these."

"What a perfectly lovely stunt!" exclaimed Grace. "We'll write to Tom
Gray, and see if he can't come, too. The walking expedition wouldn't be
complete without him."

"I'll write to him to-night," said David. "I certainly should like to
see the good old chap."

"Will there be plenty to eat?" asked Hippy. "I always feel hungry after
such strenuous exercise as walking. I am not very strong, you know."

"Hear him," jeered Reddy. "One minute he vows to walk until he reaches
the skeleton stage, and the next he threatens to kick over all his vows
by overeating."

"I didn't say anything about overeating," retorted Hippy. "I merely
stated that there are times when I feel the pangs of hunger."

"Stop squabbling," said Jessica, "and let's lay some plans."

"Where shall we lay them?" innocently asked Hippy.

"Nowhere, if you're not good," said Nora eyeing him severely.

Then an animated discussion began, and the following Saturday was agreed
upon, the weather permitting, as the best time to go.

Saturday turned out fair, and by nine o'clock the entire party were
monopolizing the Harlowe's veranda.

"Well, are we all ready?" said Tom Gray, as he glanced at his watch.
"Everybody scramble. One, two, three, walk."

Eight highly excited boys and girls accompanied by Miss Edith O'Malley,
hustled down the steps, waving good-bye to Mrs. Harlowe as she stood on
the veranda and watched them out of sight.

The lunch had been divided into four packages and each boy strapped a
package to his shoulder. Grace wore a little knapsack fitted to her back
with two cross straps. "There's nothing in it but some walnut fudge that
I made last night, but I couldn't resist wearing it. It belonged to my
grandfather," she confided to the girls when they had exclaimed over it.

"My, but it's great to be here," said Tom Gray to Grace as they entered
Upton Wood. "I'm so glad I could come."

"So are we," she replied. "A lark in the woods wouldn't be half the fun
with our forester missing."

"Back to nature for me, every time," he exclaimed, taking a deep breath
and looking about him, his face aglow with forest worship.

"I love the woods, too," said Grace, "almost enough to wish I were a
gypsy."

On down the shady wood road they traveled, sometimes stopping to watch a
squirrel or a chipmunk or to knock down a few burrs from the chestnut
trees they occasionally found along the way. Once they stopped and
played hide and seek for half an hour. By one o'clock they were
ravenously hungry. Hippy clamored incessantly for food.

"Let us feed him at once, and have peace," exclaimed Nora. "I'm hungry,
too. It seems an age since breakfast."

A halt was made and the contents of two of the lunch packages were
arranged on a little tablecloth at the foot of a great oak. The hungry
young folks gathered around it and in a short time nothing remained of
the lunch excepting the packages reserved for supper.

"I move we all take a half hour's rest and then go on," said David. "We
still have a mile to go before we are through the wood. We'll feel more
like walking after we've rested a little."

"Let us all sit in a row with our backs against this fallen tree and
tell a story," said Grace. "Hippy, you are on the end, so you can begin
it, then after you have gone a little way, Nora must take up the
narrative, and so on down the line until the story is finished."

"Fine," said Hippy. "Here goes:"

"Once upon a time, in the heart of a deep forest, there lived a most
beautiful prince. He had all that heart could wish; still he was not
happy, for, alas, he was too fat."

At this statement there was a shout of laughter from his listeners, at
which Hippy, pretending anger, glared ferociously and vowed that he
would not continue. Nora thereupon took up the narrative and convulsed
her hearers with the remedies tried by the fat prince to reduce his
weight. Then the story was passed on to Anne. With each narrator it grew
funnier, until the party screamed with laughter over the misfortunes of
the ill-starred prince.

Hippy ended the tale by marrying the hero to a princess who was a golf
fiend and who forced the poor prince to be her caddy.

"From the day of his marriage he chased golf balls," concluded Hippy,
"and the habit became so firmly fixed with him that he even rose and
chased them in his sleep. He lost flesh at an alarming rate, and three
months after his wedding day they laid him to rest in the quiet
churchyard, with the touching epitaph over him, 'Things are not what
they seem.'"

Hippy buried his face in his handkerchief and sobbed audibly until David
and Reddy pounced upon him and he was obliged to forego his lamentations
and defend himself.

"It's time to move," said Tom Gray, consulting his watch. "I don't
believe we'd better go on through the wood. We'll have to about face if
we expect to get home before dark."

So the start back was made, but their progress was slow. A dozen things
beguiled them from the path. Tom's trained eye spied a wasp's nest
hanging from a limb. It was as large as a Japanese lantern and a
beautiful silver-gray color. Anne stopped to pick some ground berries
she found nestling under the leaves. Then they all started in wild
pursuit of a rabbit, and in consequence had difficulty in finding the
road again. Finally they all grew so hungry they sat down and disposed
of the remaining food.

"How dark it is growing," exclaimed Jessica, as they again took the
road. "It must be very late."

"It's after four o'clock," replied David, "and there's a storm coming,
too. I think we had better hurry. I don't fancy being caught in the
woods in bad weather. Hustle, everybody."

As they hurried along the path a blast of wind blew full in their faces.
The whole forest seemed suddenly astir. There were strange sounds from
every direction. The branches creaked and the dry leaves fell rattling
to the ground by hundreds. Another gust of wind filled their eyes and
nostrils with fine dust.

"Don't be frightened," called Tom. "Follow me."

He led the way with Reddy, but the storm was upon them before they had
gone ten steps. The wind almost blew them off their feet and black
darkness settled down over the woods. They could just see the outlines
of the trees as they staggered on, a blinding rain drenching them to the
skin.

Tom divided the party into two sections, four in one and five in the
other. They were to hold each other's hands tightly and keep together.
Frequent flashes of lightning revealed the woods in a tremendous state
of agitation and it seemed better to be moving than to stand still and
watch the terrifying spectacle.

On they stumbled, but suddenly came to grief, for the four in front fell
headlong over a tree that had been blown across the path, and the other
five hearing their cries of warning too late, followed after.

By the time they had picked themselves up the storm had grown so furious
that they could only press miserably together and wait for it to pass.

Suddenly Tom amazed them all by putting his hands to his mouth and
blowing a strange kind of hollow whistle that sounded like the note of a
trumpet.

He repeated the whistle again and again. "You may not believe it," he
said between calls, "but the hunter who taught me this, told me never to
use it unless I was in dire need. Then help of some sort would surely
come. It is called the Elf's Horn."

"Did you ever try it before," asked Reddy curiously.

"No," he answered, "I never did. I suppose it's only superstition, but
I love hunter's lore. Perhaps it may work. Who knows?"

"Hello-o-o!" cried a voice seemingly close by. "Hello-o-o!"

"Where are you?" called Tom.

"This way," answered the voice, and a light flashed a little distance
off, revealing to them a man waving a lantern with one hand and
beckoning with the other. One and all dashed toward the light, feeling
that shelter was at hand.

"It must be a hunter," panted Tom, "and he has heard the Elf's Horn."

It was a hunter, and none other than old Jean. Their blind wandering had
taken them straight to the hunter's cabin.

"It is Mademoiselle Grace and her friends," cried the old man with
delight. "When the sky grow so dark, I take my lantern and go out to my
trap I have set this morning. Then I hear a strange whistle, many
times, and I think some one get lost and I cry 'hello,' and you answer
and I find mademoiselle and her friends."

"That was the Elf's Horn, Jean," replied Tom, "and you heard because you
are a hunter."

"I know not what monsieur mean by Elf Horn, but I hear whistle, anyhow,
and come," remarked the old man, smiling.

The others laughed.

"It's a shame to spoil it," replied David, "but I am afraid your Elf's
Horn and Jean's helloing were just a coincidence."

"Coincidence or not," replied Tom good-naturedly, "my faith in the fairy
horn is now unshakable. I shall use it again if I ever need to."

Before a blazing fire kindled by Jean in the big fireplace, the whole
party dried themselves. The old hunter listened to the story of their
mad scramble through the woods with many expressions of sympathy.

It was eight o'clock when the storm had abated sufficiently to allow
them to sally forth, and in a short time they were in Oakdale.

Fifteen minutes later they were telling Mr. and Mrs. Harlowe just how it
all happened.



CHAPTER IV

GRACE MAKES A DISCOVERY


The Monday after the walking expedition, Grace Harlowe set out for
school full of an idea that had been revolving in her busy brain for
weeks. The time had come for herself and for her three chums to bind
themselves together as a sorority. As charter members, they would
initiate four other girls, as soon as proper rites could be thought of.
It should be a Greek letter society. Grace thought "Phi Sigma Tau" would
sound well. Aside from the social part, their chief object would be to
keep a watchful eye open for girls in school who needed assistance of
any sort.

Mrs. Gray's anxiety over Eleanor Savell had set the bee in Grace's
bonnet buzzing, and now her plans were practically perfected. All that
remained to be done was to tell her three friends, and consult them as
to what other four girls would be eligible to membership.

Her proposition was hailed with acclamation by Anne, Nora and Jessica.
Miriam Nesbit, Marian Barber, Eva Allen and Eleanor Savell were chosen
as candidates and promptly notified to report at Jessica's home the next
Thursday evening for initiation. They at once accepted the invitation
and solemnly promised to be there.

"'Where are you going, my pretty maid?'" said David Nesbit, stopping
directly in front of Grace Harlowe as she hurried toward the Bright home
the following Thursday evening.

Grace laughed merrily, dropped a little curtsy and recited, "I'm going
to an initiation, sir, she said."

"'And may I go with you, my pretty maid?'" replied David, bowing low.

"No boys allowed there, sir, she said."

"That settles it," sighed David. "I suppose a sorority is about to come
to the surface. Am I right, and will you take me along?"

"Yes, we are going to initiate members into our new sorority, but you
can't come, so you might as well be resigned to fate," retorted Grace.
"We didn't receive invitations to your fraternity initiations."

"Be kind to Anne, won't you. Tell her she has my sympathy," said David
solemnly.

"Anne is a charter member, if you please," laughed Grace. "She is spared
the ordeals of initiation. But Miriam will not escape so easily. She is
one of the candidates."

"Ah, ha!" exclaimed David. "That's what she was so mysterious over.
I tried to find out where she was going, but she wouldn't tell me. By
the way, where does the affair take place?" he added, trying to look
innocent.

"Don't you wish you knew?" teased Grace. "However, you shan't find out
from me. I know too well what would happen if you boys traced us to our
lair. But I must go or I shall be late. Good night, David. Please be
good and don't follow me. Promise me you won't."

"I never make rash promises," answered David, smiling. "Be merciful to
the candidates." Lifting his cap, the young man hurried off and turned
the corner without looking back.

"I wonder what I had better do," Grace mused. "I know perfectly well
that David Nesbit won't go away. He will wait until he thinks I am far
enough up the street and then he'll follow me. As soon as he finds out
where I am going he'll rush back and hunt up Hippy Wingate and Reddy
Brooks. Goodness knows what the three of them will plan."

She decided to turn down a side street, go back one block and into the
public library. She could easily leave the library by the side entrance
and cut across Putnam Square. That would mislead David, although no
doubt he would find them before the evening was over.

Grace lost no time in putting her plan into action. As she hurried into
the library she looked back, but saw no sign of David. When she reached
Putnam Square she almost ran along the broad asphalt walk. It was
fifteen minutes past seven by the city hall clock, and she did not wish
to be late. The girls had agreed to be there by half past seven. She was
almost across the square when her ear caught the sound of a low sob.
Grace glanced quickly about. The square was practically deserted, but
under one of the great trees, curled up on a bench, was a girl. Without
an instant's hesitation Grace made for the bench. She touched the girl
on the shoulder and said, "You seem to be in distress. Can I do anything
to help you?"

Then Grace gave a little surprised exclamation. The face turned toward
her was that of Mabel Allison, the freshman prize girl. The glare from
the neighboring light revealed her tear-swollen eyes and quivering lips.
She gave Grace one long, agonized look, then dropped her head on her arm
and sobbed harder than ever.

"Why, Miss Allison, don't cry so," soothed Grace. "Tell me what your
trouble is. Perhaps I can be of some service to you. I've wanted to know
you ever since you won the freshman prize last June, and so has Anne
Pierson. She won the prize the year before, you know."

The girl nodded, but she could not sufficiently control herself to
speak.

Grace stood silently waiting until the other should find her voice. A
moment more and Mabel Allison began to speak in a plaintive little voice
that went straight to Grace's heart:

"You are Grace Harlowe. I believe every girl in Oakdale High School
knows you. I have heard so much about you, but I never dreamed that
you'd ever speak to me."

"Nonsense," replied Grace, laughing. "I'm just a girl like yourself.
There isn't anything remarkable about me. I'm very glad to know you,
Miss Allison, but I am sorry to find you so unhappy. Can't you tell me
about it?" she coaxed, sitting down on the bench and slipping one arm
around the shabby little figure.

Mabel's lip quivered again. Then she turned impulsively toward Grace and
said: "Yes; I will tell you, although no one can help me. I suppose you
don't know where I live or anything about me, do you?"

"No," replied Grace, shaking her head, "but I'd be glad to have you tell
me."

"Well," continued Mabel, "I'm an orphan, and I live with Miss Brant.
She----"

"Not that horrible, miserly Miss Brant who lives in that ugly yellow
house on Elm Street?" interrupted Grace in a horrified tone.

"Yes, she is the one I mean," continued Mabel. "She took me from an
orphan asylum two years ago. I hated her the first time I ever saw her,
but the matron said I was old enough to work, that I'd have a good home
with her and that I should be paid for my work. She promised to send me
to school, and I was wild to get a good education, so I went with her.
But she is perfectly awful, and I wish I were dead."

Her voice ended almost in a wail.

"I don't blame you," said Grace sympathetically. "She has the reputation
of being one of the most hateful women in Oakdale. I am surprised that
she even allows you to go to school."

"That's just the trouble," the girl replied, her voice husky. "She's
going to take me out of school. I shall be sixteen next month, and
exempt from the school law. So she is going to make me stop school and
go to work in the silk mill. I worked there all through vacation last
summer, and she took every cent of my wages. She took my freshman prize
money, too."

"What a burning shame!" exclaimed Grace indignantly. "Haven't you any
relatives at all, Miss Allison, or any one else with whom you could
stay?"

Mabel shook her head.

"I don't know anything about myself," she said. "I was picked up on the
street in New York City when I was three years old, and as no one
claimed me, I was put in an orphanage. There was one woman at the
orphanage who was always good to me. She remembered the day they brought
me, and she said that I was beautifully dressed. She always believed
that I had been stolen. She said that I could tell my name, 'Mabel
Isabel Allison,' and that I would be three years old in November, but
that I couldn't tell where I lived. Whenever they asked me I cried and
said I didn't know. She wanted to save my clothes for me, thinking that
by them I might some day find my parents, but the matron took them away
from her, all but three little gold baby pins marked 'M.I.A.' She hid
them away from the matron. When she heard I was to go with Miss Brant,
she kissed me, and gave them to me. She was the only person that ever
cared for me."

The tears stood in Grace's eyes.

"You poor, little thing!" she cried. "I care for you, and I'm going to
see if I can do something for you. You shan't stop school if I can help
it. I can't stay with you any longer, just now, because I am going to
Miss Bright's and I am late. It is eight o'clock, you see."

The girl gave a little cry of fright.

"Oh, I didn't think it was so late. I know Miss Brant will be very
angry. She will probably beat me. I am still carrying the marks from the
last whipping she gave me. She sent me out on an errand, but I felt as
though I must be alone, if only for a few minutes. That's why I stopped
in the square."

"Beat you!" exclaimed Grace. "How dare she touch you? Why, I never had a
whipping in my life! I won't keep you another minute, but wait for me
outside the campus when school is out to-morrow. I wish to talk further
with you."

"I'll come," promised Mabel, her face lighting up. Then she suddenly
threw both arms around Grace's neck and said, "I do love you, and I feel
that some one cares about me at last." Then, like a flash, she darted
across the square and was soon lost to Grace's view.

"Well, of all things!" Grace remarked softly to herself. "I think it's
high time we organized a sorority for the purpose of aiding girls in
distress."

"You're a prompt person. Did you really decide to come?" were the cries
that greeted her from the porch as she opened the Bright's gate.

"Save your caustic comments," said Grace as she handed Jessica her hat.
"I have a tale to tell."

"Out with it!" was the cry, and the girls surrounded Grace, who began
with her meeting with David, and ended with the story of Mabel Allison.

"You haven't heard anything of those boys yet, have you?" she asked when
she had finished.

"Not yet," said Nora, "but never fear, the night is yet young."

"Where is Eleanor Savell?" asked Grace, noticing for the first time that
Eleanor was not present. "You promised to go for her, didn't you, Anne?"

"I did go," replied Anne, "but she wouldn't come. She said she'd come
sometime when she felt like it. She was playing on the violin when the
maid let me in, and how she can play! She wanted me to stay there with
her and didn't seem to understand why I couldn't break my engagement
with you girls. She said that she always kept her engagements unless the
spirit moved her to do something else."

"Is Eleanor Savell the girl who comes into the study hall every morning
after opening exercises have begun?" asked Marian Barber.

"Yes," Grace answered. "I forgot for a moment that you and Eva and
Miriam hadn't met her. She is really very charming, although her ideas
about punctuality and school rules are somewhat hazy as yet. She lives
at 'Heartsease,' Mrs. Gray's property. I am disappointed because she
will not be here to-night. She seemed delighted when I asked her to join
our society."

"As long as we know she isn't coming, don't you think we should begin
the initiation?" asked Nora. "It is after eight o'clock and we can't
stay out too late, you know."

"Very well," said Grace. "Blindfold the candidates."

The three girls meekly submitted to the blindfolding, and the chums were
about to lead them to the initiation chamber, when the ringing of the
door bell caused them to start.

"It's David and the boys," said Jessica. "Shall I tell them that they
can't come in?"

"Of course," responded Nora. "You and Grace go to the door, while Anne
and I stay here with our victims. Be careful they don't play you a
trick."

The two girls cautiously approached the door, opening it very slowly,
and saw--not the three boys--but Eleanor. She smiled serenely and said:
"Good evening. I decided, after all, that I would come."

"Come right in," said Jessica cordially. "I am so glad you changed your
mind and came. The initiation is about to begin. Have you ever belonged
to a secret society?"

"Never," replied Eleanor. "But now that I'm here, I am willing to try
it."

"Come this way."

"Girls," said Grace, addressing the three blindfolded girls, "this is
Eleanor Savell. You can't see her yet, but you may all shake hands with
her. She is to be your companion in misery."

Eleanor laughed, shook hands with the others and graciously allowed Nora
to tie a handkerchief over her eyes.

"All ready! March!" called Grace, and the eight girls solemnly proceeded
to the initiation chamber.



CHAPTER V

THE PHI SIGMA TAU


At the door a halt was called.

"Prepare to jump," commanded Grace in a deep voice. "One, two, three!
Jump down! Be careful!"

The four candidates gave four uncertain jumps and experienced the
disagreeable sensation usually felt in attempting to jump downward when
on level ground. This was one of the oldest and mildest forms of
initiation, but Nora had insisted upon it, and giggled violently as the
four girls prepared for a long leap. Even Grace, who was conducting the
ceremony with the utmost seriousness, laughed a little at the picture
they made.

"They'll do anything you tell them," whispered Nora. Which was perfectly
true. To show fear or reluctance in obeying the demands made upon one,
was to prove one's self unworthy of membership in the Phi Sigma Tau.

"Let the music begin," said Grace.

There was a faint snicker as Anne, Nora and Jessica raised three combs,
wrapped in tissue paper, to their lips and began the "Merry Widow"
waltz, with weird effect.

"You must waltz around the room fifteen times without stopping,"
continued Grace, "and then sit down in the four opposite corners of the
room, on the cushions provided for you."

The girl chums retreated to the doorway of the room, that had previously
been cleared of almost all the furniture, to watch the movements of
their victims as they endeavored to circle the room the required number
of times. They lost their count, bumped each other at every turn, and
at last staggered dizzily toward what they thought were the corners of
the room. Miriam Nesbit made straight for the door in which the chums
stood, and Grace was obliged to take her by the shoulders and gently
steer her in the opposite direction. Eleanor, after groping along one
side of the room for a corner, was the first to find one, and sank with
a sigh of relief upon the pile of cushions. The other girls had not been
so successful. They all endeavored to sit in the same corner at once, and
Grace was obliged to go to the rescue, and lead two of them to opposite
sides of the initiation chamber.

"In order to become successful members of this society, it is necessary
for you to sing. You may all sing the first verse and the chorus of any
song you know, only be sure that you don't choose the same song, and don't
stop until you have finished," directed Grace. "Begin after I have counted
three. I will wait for a minute while you choose your song. The orchestra
will accompany you."

There was considerable subdued laughter from the orchestra, who had been
instructed to play "The Star Spangled Banner," oblivious of whatever the
candidates might sing.

"One, two, three!" counted Grace, and the concert began.

Eva Allen chose "John Brown's Body." Miriam Nesbit, "Old Kentucky Home."
Marian Barber, "Schooldays," while Eleanor contributed "The Marseillaise"
in French. The orchestra dutifully burst forth with "The Star Spangled
Banner," and the effect was indescribable.

The orchestra broke down before they reached their chorus, and the
accompaniment ended in a shriek of suppressed mirth, but the candidates
went stolidly on without a smile and finished almost together.

"Very well done," commended Grace. "I see you will be valuable additions
to the society."

The girls were then put through a series of ridiculous tests that the
four chums had devised. They were made to dip their hands in water
charged with electricity, caress a mechanical rubber snake that wriggled
realistically, drink a cup of boneset tea apiece, and were directed
finally to bare their arms for the branding of the letters of the
society.

The branding was done with a piece of ice, pressed hard against their
bare arms, and the shock made the victims gasp for a second and wonder
if they really were being burned.

"You will now hold up your right hands and repeat after me," said Grace,
"I do solemnly swear that I will faithfully execute my duties as a
member of the Phi Sigma Tau, and will, to the best of my ability,
preserve, protect and defend its laws."

This done, the girls received the grip of the society, the handkerchiefs
were removed from their eyes and they were pronounced full-fledged
members.

"That oath has a rather familiar sound," remarked Miriam Nesbit, trying
to recollect where she had heard it before.

"I know," she said at last. "It's the oath of office taken by the
President of the United States at inauguration, only you changed it to
suit this sorority."

"You've guessed it exactly," replied Grace. "I chose it because it
sounded so much more expressive than to say, 'May my bones be crushed
and my heart cut out if ever I am unfaithful to my vows.'"

There was a general laugh at this, the girls agreeing that Grace's
choice was infinitely less blood-thirsty.

"Now that you have so bravely endured the trials of initiation, you
shall receive your reward," declared Jessica. "Follow me."

She led the way to the dining room, where a bountiful lunch awaited
them, to which, after the manner of hungry school girls, they did full
justice.

"By the way," said Grace, after they had returned to the sitting room
and were comfortably settled, "you never said one word about my freshman
prize girl. I thought you would be awfully interested in her. For the
benefit of the new members, I will say that this society was organized
with a definite object, that of helping others. We are to look after
girls who have no one to make things pleasant or happy for them. Why, do
you know that there are quite a number of girls attending High School
who come from other places, and who have to spend the holidays at their
boarding houses without any fun at all? Look at this poor, little
Allison girl. She works for her board in the winter, and in the mill in
the summer, and now that miserable Miss Brant is going to take her out
of school, and she is getting along so well, too."

"Isn't it a pity," said Anne, "that people like her can't understand
that if a girl were allowed to finish her education, she could earn so
much more in the long run than she could by working year after year in a
mill?"

"We might go to Miss Brant and explain that to her," said Nora. "Perhaps
she would listen to us."

"I don't believe so," replied Grace. "Besides, she might be very angry
and take her spite out on poor Mabel. If we could only get Mabel away
from her. But if she has legally adopted her we couldn't do anything.
Besides, where would she go if we did get her away?"

"I'll tell you what I'll do," said Jessica thoughtfully. "I'll ask papa
about it. Lawyers always know everything about such things. Maybe he
could find out if Miss Brant has any real claim upon her."

"That's a good idea," said Miriam Nesbit. "If we can get her away from
that hateful old wretch, the sorority could adopt her. She could stay
with each one of us for a month. That would be eight months, and at the
end of that time she would have finished her sophomore year. Then she
could get something pleasant to do through the summer vacation. That
would give her some money for clothes for next year. Perhaps by that
time we could find some nice people for her to stay with, or if we
liked her well enough, we could go on having her with us. I'll ask my
mother to-morrow, and you girls might do the same."

"Miriam Nesbit, what a perfectly lovely plan!" exclaimed Grace Harlowe
with rapture. "I feel sure mother would let me have her."

"She can come here any time," said Jessica. "Papa allows me to do as
I like."

"'First catch your bird,'" said Nora wisely. "Don't plan too much, until
you find out whether you can snatch her from the dragon's claws."

"I feel sure we shall win," replied Grace confidently. "What do you
girls think of it?" she asked, turning to Eva, Marian and Eleanor, who
had so far expressed no opinion.

"Count us in," said Eva and Marian in a breath.

"And you, Eleanor?" asked Grace.

"She can live at our house forever, if she doesn't disturb me," replied
Eleanor lazily. "My aunt won't care, either. When we lived in Spain she
used to help every beggar we came across, and Spain is a land of
beggars. She never can resist an appeal for charity."

There was a sudden silence. Then Grace said gently, although she felt
irritated at Eleanor's careless speech: "I don't think Mabel Allison
could really be called a beggar; and if we adopt her, we ought never to
let her think that we consider her a dependent. Of course we know very
little about her yet, but I think she will prove worthy. I am to see her
to-morrow, and perhaps it would be better to talk a little more with her
before we tell Jessica's father about it."

Eleanor looked at Grace with an amused smile.

"How serious you girls are," she said. "Is it school that makes you so?
If it is, I don't think I shall stay long. I like to drift along and do
only what my inclination prompts me to do. I hate responsibility of any
sort."

"Perhaps you will feel differently about school after a while," said
Anne quietly. "This is my third year in Oakdale High School, and I never
had any good times until I came here. As for responsibility, it is a
good thing to learn to be responsible for one's self, if for no one
else."

"Well, perhaps you are right, but I am sure that if you had never lived
long enough in one country to become acclimated, you wouldn't feel very
responsible, either," said Eleanor in such rueful tones that the girls
laughed, although they secretly disapproved of Eleanor's inconsequential
attitude.

"Did you think the examinations hard?" asked Jessica of Eleanor.

"Oh, no," replied Eleanor lightly. "I had an English governess who was
with us for five years. She drilled me thoroughly in English and
mathematics. I loathed them both, but studied them merely to show her
that I could master them. Miss Thompson said my work was good, and that
if I were ambitious she would put me in the senior class, but I held out
for the juniors and finally got my own way. If you are going to take
such a serious view of this gay world, however, perhaps I'll wish
I had joined the seniors, after all. No, I don't mean that. I'm awfully
glad to know you, and feel honored at being a member of your sorority.
Only I don't expect to ever be a very useful one. My aunt has spoiled
me, and I frankly admit it. So, you see, there is no hope for me." She
spread out both hands in a deprecating manner and shrugged her shoulders
exactly as a French woman might have done.

"I am sure we like you, just as you are," said Eva Allen warmly. She had
been rather impressed with Eleanor.

"Do you see the time?" said Nora, suddenly pointing to the old-fashioned
clock in the corner. "Half past ten! I must go this minute. Sister will
be worried."

She immediately made for her hat and coat, the others following suit,
with the exception of Eleanor, who was to wait until the coachman came
for her.

Once the girls were outside the gate, Marian Barber broke out with:
"What a queer girl that Eleanor Savell is. She is beautiful and
fascinating, but I don't know whether I like her or not."

"You must like her," said Grace. "You know the members of this society
must stand by each other."

"But why did you ask her to join, Grace?" persisted Marian. "She is
different from the rest of us. I don't believe we shall get along with
her very well."

"I'll tell you girls a secret," replied Grace. "Anne and Nora already
know it. Mrs. Gray wants us to be nice to Eleanor for a number of
reasons, and, of course, we wish to please her. Anne, Jessica, Nora and
I were talking about it the other day, and while we were laying plans
for this sorority, we decided to ask Eleanor to join. We thought we
could learn to know her better, and she would eventually become a good
comrade."

"It sounds ridiculous to talk about helping a clever girl like Eleanor,
but from her conversation to-night you can see that she needs some
wholesome advice occasionally," said Nora bluntly. "Mrs. Gray seems to
think we can be of some use in that direction, so we are trying to carry
out her theory."

"I think I understand the situation," said Miriam Nesbit, "and will do
all I can to be nice to her, if she doesn't attempt to patronize me.
I couldn't stand that. I know I used to do it. I suppose that's why it
seems so unendurable to me now."

"David Nesbit didn't disturb us, after all," remarked Eva Allen. "It's a
wonder those boys didn't put tick-tacks on the windows or do something
like that."

The girls had come to the turn of the street, and were about to pass the
only really lonely spot during their walk. It was an old colonial
residence, the surrounding grounds extending for a block. It had been
untenanted for some time, as the owners were in Europe, although both
house and grounds were looked after by a care-taker. On the other side
of the street was a field where the small fry of Oakdale usually held
their ball games.

"I always hate passing this old house," said Marian Barber. "It is so
terribly still back there among those pines. I don't----"

She stopped short, an expression of terror overspreading her
good-natured face, as she mutely pointed toward the old house. Three
ghostly figures swathed in white stole out from the shadow of the pines
and glided down the wide, graveled drive toward the gate. Their
appearance was terrifying. Their faces were white as their robes, and
blue flames played about their eyes. They carried out in every
particular the description of the regulation churchyard ghost.

For an instant the six girls stood still, regarding those strange
apparitions with fascinated terror. Then Eva Allen and Marian Barber
shrieked in unison and fled down the street as fast as their legs would
carry them. Grace, Nora, Anne and Miriam stood their ground and awaited
the oncoming spectres, who halted when they saw that the girls did not
intend to run.

"High School boys, on a lark," whispered Grace to her friends. "Let's
charge them in a body."

With a bound she reached the drive, closely followed by the other girls.
The ghostly three evidently considering discretion the better part of
valor, left the drive and took to their heels across the lawn. But
Grace, who was well in the lead, caught the last fleeing ghost by its
robe and held on for dear life. There was a sound of rending cloth as
the apparition bounded forward, then it caught its spectre toe on a
tuft of long grass and fell forward with a decidedly human thud.

The girls surrounded it in an instant. Before it had time to rise, Grace
snatched off a white mask smeared around the eye-holes with phosphorus,
which explained the flamelike effect, and disclosed the sheepish face of
James Gardiner, one of the sophomore class.

"Oh, let a fellow up, will you?" he said, with a sickly grin.

"You bad boy!" exclaimed Grace. "What do you mean by dressing up like
this? Don't you know you might frighten some timid person terribly?"

"Initiation," said the youth, with a grin, rising on his elbow and
looking as though he would like to make a sudden break for liberty.
"Part of the sacred obligations of the 'Knights and Squires' frat. Three
fellows of us were initiated to-night. This was the last stunt."

"Well, I suppose under those circumstances we shall have to forgive you.
Did you appear to any one else?" asked Grace.

"Only to that old crank Miss Brant. She was scared out of her wits,"
replied James, laughing. "Two of your crowd got out in a hurry, too,
didn't they?"

"I suppose I shall have to confess that they did," replied Grace. "If
I were you, James, I'd take off that costume and hurry away. Miss Brant
is liable to inform the police, and they might not look at initiation
stunts as we do."

"That's right," said James, looking a trifle alarmed. "Wonder where the
fellows went. I'd better put them on. We never thought of that. If you
girls will excuse me, I'll hunt them up."

"Certainly," said the girls. "Good night, James."

"Good night," replied the youth. "You girls are all right. Can't scare
you." With a nod to them he started across the grass on the run, his
ghostly garments trailing behind him.

"I'm glad that wasn't David," said Anne as James disappeared. "I was
afraid when first I saw them that they might be our boys. I didn't feel
frightened at all, after what Grace had said about meeting David."

"Eva and Marian didn't show any great amount of courage," said Nora,
laughing. "I wonder if they ran all the way home."

"There they are ahead of us," said Anne.

True enough, the two girls stood on the corner waiting for the others to
come up.

"Why don't you hurry on home?" called Nora. "'The goblins will git you,
ef you don't watch out.'"

"Don't tease," said Marian Barber, looking rather foolish. "We are
awfully sorry we ran away, but when I saw those awful white figures
coming toward us, I just had to run and so did Eva. Who on earth were
they, and where did they go?"

In a few words Grace told her what had happened.

"That horrid James Gardiner. I'll never speak to him again," cried Eva
Allen. "I hope he didn't recognize us. He'll tell every one in school
about it."

"I don't think he did," replied Grace. "Oh, look, girls! Here comes
Officer Donavan! I was right when I said that Miss Brant would notify
the police."

"I hope she got a good scare," remarked Nora wickedly. "As for the
ghosts, they are very likely at home by this time."



CHAPTER VI

A VISIT TO ELEANOR


The next day, when Grace, in company with her chums, left the school
building, they beheld the shabby little figure of Mabel Allison waiting
for them just outside the campus. She looked shy and embarrassed when
she saw the four girls bearing down upon her, and seemed half inclined
to run away. Grace greeted her cordially and introduced her to her
chums, whose simple and unaffected manners soon put her at her ease.

"I am so glad you waited," said Grace cordially. "I have told my three
friends about you, as I knew they would be as much interested in you as
I am. We have made a plan and if we can carry it out, you will be able
to go to school until you graduate."

"You are very good to take so much trouble for me," said Mabel, the
tears springing to her eyes; "but I'm afraid it won't do any good."

"Don't be down-hearted," said Nora sympathetically. "You don't know
Grace Harlowe. She always does whatever she sets out to do."

"She's a regular fairy godmother," said Anne softly. "I know from
experience."

"Such flattery is overwhelming," murmured Grace. "I regret that I'm too
busy to bow my thanks. But to get down to the business of the hour--tell
me, Mabel, dear--did this Miss Brant legally adopt you when she took you
from the orphanage, or are you bound to her in any way?"

"I don't know," said the girl, her eyes growing big with wonder. "I never
thought about it. I don't believe, however, that she has any legal claim
upon me."

"Is there any way in which you can find out?" asked Anne.

"Why, yes," replied Mabel. "I could write the woman at the orphanage who
was good to me. She is still there, and several times she has written to
me, but Miss Brant read her letters first and then tore them up. Her
name is Mary Stevens, and she would surely know!"

"Then write to her at once," said Grace, "and tell her to send her
letter in an outside envelope addressed to me. Your whole future depends
upon her answer."

Grace thereupon related to her their conversation of the previous night.

"As soon as you find out about Miss Brant's claim, we shall take the
matter to Jessica's father, who is a lawyer. He will help us," Grace
concluded. "Then when you are free, we shall have something else to
tell you. Just be patient for a few days, and don't be afraid.
Everything will come right."

"How can I ever thank you all?" said Mabel, taking one of Grace's hands
between hers and looking at her with a world of gratitude in her eyes.
"I will write to-night. I must go now or I shall be home late. Forgive
me for hurrying away, but I daren't stay," she added piteously. "You
know that I should like to. Good-bye, and thank you again."

"Good-bye," called Grace. "I'll let you know as soon as I hear from Mary
Stevens."

"What a sweet little girl she is," said Jessica. "I should like to keep
her with me all the time."

"She is a nice child," said Grace, "and she deserves something better
than her present fate."

"To change the subject," said Nora, "has any one seen Eleanor to-day?
She was not in English or geometry, although she may have come in late."

"I don't believe she was in school at all," said Anne. "Maybe the
initiation was too much for her."

"Oh, I don't know. She didn't seem to mind it," remarked Jessica. "She
will hear from Miss Thompson if she makes a practice of staying out of
school. Attendance is one of the chief requisites in Miss Thompson's
eyes."

"I suppose we ought to call on Eleanor before long," mused Grace. "She
has invited us, and it's our duty to call on her first. Anne has already
been there. Suppose we go over now; that is, unless you girls have
something else to do."

It was decided at once that they could go, and soon the four chums were
walking briskly down the street in the direction of "Heartsease." It was
an Indian summer day and the girls congratulated themselves on having
taken advantage of it. As school had closed at half past two, it was not
yet four o'clock. They would have plenty of time for their call without
hurrying themselves. So they strolled along, laughing and chatting in
the care-free manner that belongs alone to the school girl.

As they neared the house one and all exclaimed at the beauty of the
grounds. The lawn looked like a great stretch of green velvet, while the
trees were gorgeous in their autumn glory of crimson and gold, with here
and there a patch of russet by way of contrast. Over at one side were
clumps of pink and white anemones; while all around the house and in the
garden beds that dotted the lawn many-colored chrysanthemums stood up in
brave array.

"What a delightful place 'Heartsease' is," cried Grace as she paused
just inside the gate to feast her eyes upon its beauty. "Sometimes
I think that autumn is the finest season of the year, and then again
I like spring better."

"What difference does the season make, so long as we have a good time?"
said Nora blithely. "I haven't any preference. They're all good."

"Eleanor will be surprised to see us," remarked Grace, as she rang the
bell.

"Let's hope she will appreciate the honor of having four such
distinguished persons descend upon her at one time," said Anne.

"Is Miss Savell in?" asked Grace to the trim maid who answered her ring.

"Yes, miss," replied the maid. "Come in. Who shall I say is here?"

"Say to Miss Savell that Grace Harlowe and her friends would like to see
her."

The maid soon reappeared and led the girls down the wide, old-fashioned
hall, and, somewhat to their surprise, ushered them into the dining
room, where they beheld Eleanor, arrayed in a dainty white house gown,
dining alone.

She arose as they entered and came forward with both hands outstretched.
"How are the Phi Sigma Taus to-day?" she asked. "It was awfully nice of
you to come and see me."

"We thought you might be ill," said Nora. "We missed you at school
to-day."

"Oh, no," replied Eleanor serenely. "I am perfectly well. I really
didn't feel like going to school to-day, so I stayed in bed until eleven
o'clock. I am just having lunch now. Won't you join me? I am keeping
house by myself this afternoon. My aunt is dining with Mrs. Gray."

"Thank you," said Grace, speaking for the girls. "We all have supper at
half past six and must save our appetites for that."

"We usually dine about eight o'clock," said Eleanor. "We acquired the
habit of dining late from living on the continent. But, come, now.
I have finished my lunch. I want you to see where I live, almost entirely,
when in the house."

The girls followed her up the broad staircase and down the hall. Every
inch of the ground was familiar to Grace. She had been there so often
with Mrs. Gray. "Oh, you have the suite at the back," she exclaimed.
"I love those two rooms."

"You will find them somewhat changed," remarked Eleanor as she opened
the door and ushered the girls into the most quietly luxurious apartment
they had ever seen. Even Miriam Nesbit's room could not compare with
it.

"What a beautiful room!" exclaimed Grace, looking about her with
delight. "I don't wonder you like to spend your time in it. I see you
have your own piano."

"Yes," replied Eleanor. "My aunt sent to New York for it. The one
downstairs in the drawing room is all right, but I like to have this one
handy, so that I can play whenever the spirit moves me. This is my
bedroom," she continued, pushing aside the silken curtains that
separated the two rooms. The girls exclaimed over the Circassian walnut
furniture and could not decide as to which room was the prettier.

"Eleanor," said Grace solemnly, "you ought to be a very happy girl. You
have everything a heart can wish. Think of poor little Mabel Allison."

"Oh, don't let's think about disagreeable things," said Eleanor lightly.
"Sit down and be comfy and I'll play for you. What shall I play?"

"Do you know the 'Peer Gynt' suite?" asked Grace. "I love 'Anitra's
Dance.'"

Without answering, Eleanor immediately began the "Peer Gynt" music and
played the entire suite with remarkable expression.

"How well you play!" exclaimed Jessica with eager admiration in her
voice, as Eleanor turned around on the stool after she had finished.
"I should love to hear you play on the violin. Anne heard you the
other night, and told us about it."

"I love the violin better than the piano, but it sounds better with a
piano accompaniment. Don't you girls play?"

"Jessica does," chorused her friends.

"Oh, I never could play, after hearing Eleanor," said Jessica blushing.

"Come on," said Eleanor, taking her by the arm and dragging her over to
the piano. "You can accompany me. What do you play?"

"Do you know Raff's 'Cavatina'?" asked Jessica a trifle shyly.

"By heart," answered Eleanor. "I love it. Wait and I'll get the music
for you."

After a moment's search she produced the music, picked up her violin,
and, after tightening a string, announced herself ready.

The girls listened, spellbound. It seemed as though Eleanor's very soul
had entered into the violin. They could not believe that this was the
capricious Eleanor of half an hour before.

"Whatever she may do in future," thought Grace, as she listened to the
last plaintive notes of the "Cavatina," "I'll forgive her for her
music's sake. One has to make allowances for people like her. It is the
claim of the artistic temperament."

"Please play once more," begged Nora. "Then we must go. It's almost six
o'clock."

Eleanor chose Nevin's "Venetian Love Song," and Jessica again
accompanied her.

"You play with considerable expression," said Eleanor, as Jessica rose
from the piano stool.

"How could I help it?" replied Jessica, smiling. "You inspired me."

Eleanor accompanied the four girls down the walk to the gate and
repeatedly invited them to come again.

"It's your turn to come and see us now," said Grace. "Do you think you
will go to school to-morrow, Eleanor? Miss Thompson dislikes having the
girls stay out."

"I can't help what Miss Thompson dislikes," returned Eleanor, laughing.
"What I dislike is of more importance to me. I dare say I shall go
to-morrow, providing I get up in time."

"What an irresponsible girl Eleanor is," remarked Anne, as they walked
along. "I am afraid we can't do much for her. She doesn't seem much
interested in school and I don't think she is particularly impressed
with our sorority."

"Anne," said Jessica, "you have seen Miss Nevin, her aunt. Tell us how
she looks."

"She is tall," replied Anne, "and has beautiful dark eyes. Her hair is
very white, but her face looks young, only she has the saddest
expression I ever saw on any one's face."

"I should think she would look sad after seventeen years of Eleanor's
whims," remarked Nora bluntly. "It would wear me out to be with her
continually, she is so changeable."

"Mrs. Gray told me," remarked Anne, "that Miss Nevin's life had been one
long sacrifice to the pleasure of others. First her father, then her
step-sister and now Eleanor. She was engaged to be married to a young
English officer, and he died of fever while stationed in India. So,
there is reason for her sad expression."

"I once read, somewhere," said Jessica sentimentally, "that ''Tis better
to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all.'"

"Humph!" said Nora. "If I am ever foolish enough to fall in love,
I certainly don't want to lose the object of my devotion."

"You can't very well," said Grace slyly, "for from all present
indications I should say that he is too fat to get lost."

And Nora was obliged to explain elaborately to the laughing girls, all
the way home, that the object of her future devotion would not be a fat
man.



CHAPTER VII

THE CLAIM OF THE "ARTISTIC TEMPERAMENT"


When Eleanor returned to school the following morning, she found that
what Miss Thompson "disliked" was, after all, of considerable
importance. Directly after opening exercises the principal sent for her
and asked the reason for her absence of the day before. On finding that
Eleanor had no plausible excuse, but had absented herself merely because
she felt like it, Miss Thompson thereupon delivered a sharp little
lecture on unnecessary absence, informing Eleanor that it was the rule
of the school to present a written excuse for absence, and that a verbal
excuse would not be accepted.

"I will overlook it this time, Miss Savell," Miss Thompson said,
"because you are not as yet thoroughly acquainted with the rules of this
school, but do not let it occur again. And I must also insist upon
punctuality in future. You have been late a number of times."

With these words the principal turned to her desk and resumed the
writing she had been engaged in when Eleanor entered.

For a second, Eleanor stood regarding Miss Thompson with angry eyes. No
one had ever before dared to speak sharply to her. She was about to tell
the principal that she was not used to being addressed in that tone, but
the words would not come. Something in the elder woman's quiet, resolute
face as she sat writing checked the wilful girl, and though she felt
deeply incensed at the reprimand, she managed to control herself and
walked out of the office with her head held high, vowing to herself that
Miss Thompson should pay for what Eleanor termed "her insolence."

All morning she sulked through her classes, and before closing time had
managed to incur the displeasure of every teacher to whom she recited.

"What ails her to-day?" whispered Nora to Jessica.

It was geometry hour, and Miss Ames, the geometry teacher, had just
reproved Eleanor for inattention.

Nora shook her head. She dared not answer, as Miss Ames was very strict,
and she knew that to be caught whispering meant two originals to work
out, and Nora hated originals.

When the bell rang at the close of the hour, Eleanor walked haughtily by
Miss Ames, giving her a contemptuous look as she passed that made the
teacher tighten her lips and look severe. Grace, who was directly
behind her, saw both the look and the expression on the teacher's face.
She felt worried for Eleanor's sake, because she saw trouble ahead for
her unless she changed her tactics. If Eleanor could only understand
that she must respect the authority of her various teachers during
recitation hours and cheerfully comply with their requests, then all
might be well. Since Miss Leece had left the High School at the close of
Grace's freshman year, she could not conscientiously say that she
disliked any of her teachers. They had been both kind and just, and if
Eleanor defied them openly, then she would have to take the
consequences. To be sure, Eleanor might refuse to go to school, but
Grace had an idea that, lenient as Miss Nevin was with her niece, she
would not allow Eleanor to go that far. Grace decided that she would
have a talk with Eleanor after school. It would do no harm and it might
possibly do some good.

She hurried down to the locker-room that afternoon in order to catch
Eleanor as she left school. She had just reached there when Eleanor
walked in, looking extremely sulky. She jerked her hat and coat from her
locker, hastily donned them, and, without looking at Grace, left the
room.

"She looks awfully cross," thought Grace. "Well, here goes," and she
hurried after Eleanor, overtaking her at the entrance to the school
grounds.

"What's the matter, Eleanor?" she asked. "Didn't you care to wait for
me?"

Eleanor looked at her with lowering brows. "I hate school," she said
vehemently. "I hate the teachers, and I hate Miss Thompson most of all.
Every one of those teachers are common, low-bred and impertinent. As for
your Miss Thompson, she is a self-satisfied prig."

"You must not say such things of Miss Thompson, Eleanor," said Grace
firmly. "She doesn't deserve them. She is one of the finest women I have
ever known, and she takes a warm interest in every girl in school. What
has she done that you should speak of her as you do?"

"She called me into her office this morning and made a whole lot of
fuss because I didn't have a written excuse for yesterday's absence,"
said Eleanor angrily. "When I told her that I stayed at home because
I felt inclined to do so, she almost had a spasm, and gave me another
lecture then and there, ending up by saying that it must not occur
again. I should like to know how she knew I was absent yesterday."

"Miss Thompson always knows when a girl is absent," replied Grace.
"The special teachers report to her every day. It is the rule of this
school for a girl to present her excuse at the office as soon as she
returns; then her name is taken off the absent list. If she is absent
the second day, then a messenger is sent to her home to find out the
cause. I suppose that when Miss Thompson looked over the list, she
remembered seeing you at opening exercises, so of course sent for
you."

"She is a crabbed old maid," said Eleanor contemptuously, "and I despise
her. I'll find some way to get even with her, and all the rest of those
teachers, too."

"You will never get along in school, Eleanor," answered Grace gently,
"if you take that stand. The only way to be happy is to----"

"Please don't preach to me," said Eleanor haughtily. "It is of no use.
I am not a child and I understand my own business thoroughly. When I saw
you girls the first day of school, I thought that you were full of life
and spirit, but really you are all goody-goodies, who allow those
teachers to lead you around by the nose. I had intended to ask Aunt
Margaret to take me out of this ridiculous school, for some of the
people in it make me tired, but I have changed my mind. I shall stay for
pure spite and show that stiff-necked principal of yours that I am a law
unto myself, and won't stand her interference."

"Stop a moment, Eleanor. I am going no farther with you," said Grace,
flushing, "but I should just like to say before I leave you that you are
taking the wrong view of things, and you'll find it out sooner or later.
I am sorry that you have such a poor opinion of myself and my friends,
for we cherish nothing but the friendliest feelings toward you."

With this, Grace walked away, feeling more hurt over Eleanor's rudeness
than she cared to show.

As she turned out of High School Street she heard a familiar call, and,
glancing up the street, saw her three chums waiting for her on the
corner.

"We saw you just as you tackled Eleanor," said Nora, "so we kept away,
for we thought after to-day's performances she wouldn't be in a very
good humor."

"What was the matter with her to-day?" asked Jessica curiously. "She
behaved like a bad child in English this morning, followed it up in
geometry; and Anne says that in rhetoric class Miss Chester lost all
patience with her and gave her a severe lecturing."

"I might as well tell you at once that Eleanor's opinion of us is far
from flattering," said Grace, half laughing, although there was a hurt
look on her face. "She says we are all goody-goodies and that we make
her tired. She also requested me to mind my own business."

"She said that to you? Just wait until the next time I see her,"
blustered Nora, "I'll tell her what I think of her."

"On the contrary, we must treat her better, if anything, than before,"
said Anne quietly. "Don't you remember we promised Mrs. Gray that we
would try to help her?"

"Yes, I remember all that; but I can't bear to have any one say horrid
things to Grace," grumbled Nora.

"What a queer girl she is," said Jessica. "Yesterday she treated us as
though we were her dearest friends, while to-day she scorns us utterly.
It's a case of 'blow hot, blow cold.'"

"That is because she has the artistic temperament," replied Anne,
smiling.

"You may say what you like about the artistic temperament," said Nora,
"but in my opinion it's nothing more nor less than just plain temper."



CHAPTER VIII

ELEANOR THROWS DOWN THE GAUNTLET


"The Phi Sigma Tau is to have a special meeting to-night at Jessica's,"
called Grace Harlowe to Nora O'Malley as the latter entered the
locker-room at the close of school one day about two weeks after the
initiation at Jessica's.

"Does Jessica know it?" inquired Nora.

"Not yet," replied Grace, "but she will as soon as she comes in.
I rushed down here the minute the last bell rang, because I wanted
to be here when the girls come in. You are the first, however."

"Why are we to hold a meeting?" asked Nora, her curiosity aroused.

"Wait and see," replied Grace, smiling. "Of what use is it to hold a
meeting, if I tell you all the business beforehand?"

"All right," said Nora, "you keep your secrets and I'll keep mine."

"What have you heard that's new?" asked Grace.

"Wait and see," replied Nora, with a grin of delight. "I am saving my
news for the meeting."

By this time the remaining members of the Phi Sigma Tau, with the
exception of Eleanor Savell, had come into the locker-room, and had been
promptly hailed by Grace. Marian Barber, Miriam Nesbit and Eva Allen
after agreeing to be at Jessica's, at eight o'clock, had gone their
separate ways.

"Every one excepting Eleanor has been told," said Grace. "I really don't
know how to approach her. She has been so distant of late."

"Don't wait to ask her," said Nora decidedly. "She won't attend the
meeting."

"How do you know?" asked Jessica.

"I'll tell you to-night," answered Nora mysteriously, "but I know
positively that she won't come, because she is going to have company at
'Heartsease.' Now I've told you more than I intended to, and I shall not
say another word until to-night."

"Come on then," said Grace, "we won't wait any longer. Jessica, will you
ask your father if he will be at liberty for a few minutes this
evening?"

"Certainly," replied Jessica.

"Oh, I know now whom it's all about," cried Nora gleefully. "Mary
Stevens."

"You have guessed it," said Grace, "but, like yourself, I decline to
talk until to-night."

Before eight o'clock the seven girls had taken possession of the
Bright's big, comfortable sitting room and were impatiently waiting for
Grace to tell her news.

"Before I tell you what is on my mind," said Grace, "we ought to have
a president, vice president and secretary for this worthy organization.
I move therefore that we choose Miriam Nesbit for president of this
sorority. Those in favor say 'aye.' We'll dispense with seconding the
motion."

There was an instant's pause, then a chorus of "ayes" burst forth.

"Contrary, 'no.'"

The only "no" was from Miriam.

"We appreciate the fact that you are too polite to vote for yourself,
Miriam," said Grace, "but your 'no' doesn't amount to a row of pins.
You're elected, so come over here and occupy the chair of state. Long
live the president of the Phi Sigma Tau."

Miriam, flushed with pleasure, then took the seat that Grace had
vacated. She had not expected this honor and was deeply touched by it.
Her summer with her girl chums at Lake George had made her an entirely
different girl from the Miriam of old. Admiration for Grace and her
friends had taken the place of the old animosity. Although the chums had
not taken her into their inner circle, still they made much of her, and
she came nearer to being one of them than any other girl in the junior
class.

"I am sure I thank you all," began Miriam, "and now we must have a vice
president and a secretary."

Grace and Anne were elected with enthusiasm to the respective offices,
then Miriam requested Grace to tell the other members what was on her
mind.

After addressing the chair, Grace began: "I know you will all be glad to
hear that Mabel has received a letter from Mary Stevens. It was
addressed to me on the outside envelope and Mabel has given me
permission to open and read it to you. She is willing for us to do
whatever we think best. I won't attempt to read all the letter, only
that part that interests us.

"Here it is: 'I am so sorry about the way in which you are treated, but
glad to know that you have found friends at last. Miss Brant has no
claim on you whatever. She took you from the orphanage with the
understanding that if you did not suit her she was to be allowed to send
you back. The matron asked her why she did not adopt you, or at least
appoint herself your guardian, and she said that under no circumstances
would she do so; that she wanted a good maid of all work, not a
daughter. I enclose a statement from the matron to this effect. I would
have advised you before this to leave her, but you are too young to
drift about the world alone. I hope that when I next hear from you, you
will be in happier surroundings. I have always believed that your
parents were people of means and that you were lost or stolen when a
baby. Perhaps if they are still living you will find them some day.'"

"That is about all we need," said Grace, as she folded the letter and
put it back in the envelope. "The next thing to do is to see Mr.
Bright."

"I'll go for him at once," said Jessica, and darted off to the library,
where her father sat reading. He rose, and, tucking his daughter's arm
in his, walked out to the sitting room, where the Phi Sigma Tau eagerly
awaited him.

"Well, well!" he exclaimed, smiling at the circle of girls. "What's all
this? Am I invited to be present at a suffragette's meeting or is
Jessica simply anxious to show me what nice friends she has?"

"No compliments allowed," laughed Grace. "We wish to ask your advice
about something."

"I am at your service," said Jessica's father, making her an elaborate
bow. "Command me as you will."

"'Tis well, most reverend sir. I thank you," said Grace, with a curtsy.
"Now sit you down, I pray, for presently I have a tale to tell."

Having conducted Mr. Bright with great ceremony to the arm chair in the
corner, Grace established him with many low bows, much to the amusement
of the girls, with whom Jessica's father was a great favorite. Then
Grace began with her meeting with Mabel Allison and ended with the
letter from Mary Stevens, enclosing the matron's statement.

"Now, those are all the facts of the case, Mr. Bright," she concluded.
"Will it be possible for us to get Mabel away from Miss Brant, or can
Miss Brant hold her against her will?"

"Miss Stevens' letter and the matron's statement are sufficient,"
answered Mr. Bright. "This woman cannot hold your little friend. Miss
Brant will in all probability be very angry, and attempt to brave the
matter out. Suppose you and Jessica and I go down there together, Grace,
and see what we can do?"

"O Mr. Bright!" cried Grace, clasping her hands delightedly, "will you,
truly? Then let's go to-morrow and bring Mabel back with us."

"Very well; you and Jessica meet me at my office at four o'clock
to-morrow afternoon," said Mr. Bright. "But what do you girls intend to
do with her, once you get her? You can't adopt her, you know."

"She is to take turns living with us, papa," said Jessica, slipping her
hand into her father's. "May she come here first? I'd love to have her."

Mr. Bright drew Jessica to his side. "My dear child, you know that you
may do as you please about it. I feel sure that she must be the right
sort of girl, or you and your friends wouldn't have become interested in
her. Try her, and if you like her, then she is welcome to stay as long
as she chooses. I think it would do you good to have a girl of your own
age in the house."

"Three cheers for Mr. Bright," cried Nora.

The cheers were given with a will, then the girls joined hands and
danced around Jessica's father, sounding their class yell until he broke
through the circle and made a rush for the library, his fingers to his
ears.

"Now that we have that question settled," said Miriam Nesbit, after the
girls were once more seated, "I think we ought to have a sorority pin."

"I think," began Eva Allen, "that my brother would design a pin for us.
He is very clever at that sort of thing."

"Let's have a monogram," exclaimed Grace. "Old English letters of gold
on a dull-green enamel background. We can get them up for about two
dollars and a half apiece. Is that too expensive?"

The girls, who, with the exception of Anne, had small allowances of
their own, expressed themselves satisfied; while Anne determined that
for once she was justified in yielding to wild extravagance.

"That's settled," said Miriam. "The next thing to do is----"

But a loud ring of the door bell interrupted her speech and caused the
whole party to start.

"Some one to see papa," said Jessica. "Go on with what you were saying,
Miriam."

But before Miriam had a chance to continue, the maid entered the room, a
letter in her hand.

"Here's a letter, Miss Jessica," she said. "But it's such a quare name
on the outside, I be wondering if it's fur yerself and no other?"

Jessica looked at the envelope. It was addressed to the "Phi Sigma Tau,
care of Miss Jessica Bright."

"Why, who in the world can this be from? I thought no one outside knew
the name of our society as yet," said Jessica as she opened the end of
the envelope. Then she turned the page, glanced at the signature, and
gave a little cry of surprise.

"Just listen to this, girls!" she exclaimed, and read:

          "'TO THE PHI SIGMA TAU:

          "'After initiating me into your ridiculous society,
          you have seen fit to call a meeting of the members
          without directly notifying me, therefore I wish to
          withdraw from your sorority, as I feel that I have
          been deeply insulted. I have this satisfaction,
          however, that I would not have met with you to-night,
          at any rate. I am entertaining some girls in your
          class this evening, whom I find far more congenial
          than any previous acquaintances I have made in
          Oakdale. We are about to organize a sorority of our
          own. Our object will be to enjoy ourselves, not to
          continually preach to other people. I am deeply
          disappointed in all of you, and assure you that
          I am not in the least desirous of continuing your
          acquaintance.

                         "'Yours sincerely,
                                   "'ELEANOR SAVELL.'"

"Well, of all things!" exclaimed Nora O'Malley. "She says she is deeply
insulted because we didn't invite her, but that she didn't intend to
come, at any rate. There's a shining example of consistency for you!"

"Who on earth told her about the meeting?" said Jessica. "We didn't wait
to ask her to-day."

"I shall have to confess that I am the guilty one," said Eva Allen. "You
didn't say anything to Miriam, Marian and me about Eleanor, and when
I left the locker-room I went back upstairs after a book I had forgotten.
I met Eleanor on the stairs and told her about the meeting, and that you
were waiting in the locker-room for her. You must have left before she
got there, and, of course, she thought you did it purposely."

"Oh, dear, what a mess," sighed Grace. "I didn't mean to slight her. But
Nora said she knew, positively, that Eleanor was entertaining some
guests to-night, so I didn't wait. By the way, Nora, what was that news
of yours that you were so mysterious about this afternoon?"

"Just this," replied Nora. "That Edna Wright told me, that I needn't
think we were the only people that could have a sorority. I asked her
what she meant, and she said that she and Rose Lynton and Daisy Culver
had been invited out to Eleanor's to-night for the purpose of forming a
very select club of their own. I am sorry I didn't tell you while in the
locker-room, but you would insist on having secrets, so I thought I'd
have one, too."

"Well, it can't be helped now," said Grace. "It is a pity that Eleanor
has taken up with Edna Wright. She is the only girl in the class that
I really dislike. She is frivolous and empty-headed, and Eleanor is
self-willed and lawless. Put them together, and they will make a bad
combination. As to the other two girls, they are sworn friends of
Edna's."

"I think," said Nora, "that our reform movement is about to end in a
glaring fizzle."

"How can we reform a person who won't have anything to do with us?"
asked Jessica scornfully.

"Let us hold her place in this sorority open for her, and let us make it
our business to be ready to help her if she needs us," said Anne
thoughtfully. "Like all spoiled children, she is sure to get into
mischief, and just as sure to come to grief. Mark my words, some day
she'll be glad to come back to the Phi Sigma Tau."



CHAPTER IX

THE RESCUE PARTY


It was with mingled feelings of excitement and trepidation that Grace
Harlowe and Jessica Bright hurried toward the office of the latter's
father the following afternoon. Now that they were fairly started on
their mission of rescue, they were not quite so confident as to the
result. To be sure they had unlimited faith in Jessica's father, but it
was so much easier to talk about taking Mabel away from Miss Brant than
to do it.

"I'm terribly afraid of facing her," confided Jessica to Grace. "She is
the terror of Oakdale, you know."

"She can't hurt us," said Grace. "Your father will do all the talking.
All we need to do is to take charge of Mabel, after Miss Brant gives her
up."

"Well, young ladies," said Mr. Bright, as the two girls entered his
office, "I see you are prompt in keeping your appointment. Let us go at
once, for I must be back here at five o'clock."

"What are you going to say to that terrible woman, papa?" shuddered
Jessica as they neared the Brant home. "I'm afraid she'll scratch your
eyes out."

"Am I really in such serious danger?" asked Mr. Bright in mock alarm.
"I am glad I brought you girls along to protect me."

"You haven't any idea what a crank she is, Mr. Bright," laughed Grace.
"She fairly snarled at us the other day, when we were coming from
school, because she said we were taking up the whole sidewalk. Poor
little Mabel, no wonder she has a scared look in her eyes all the time."

"Well, here we are," responded Mr. Bright, as he rang the bell. "Now for
the tug of war."

As he spoke the door was opened by Mabel, who positively shook in her
shoes when she saw her visitors. "Don't be frightened," whispered Grace,
taking her hand. "We have come for you."

"May I speak with Miss Brant?" asked Mr. Bright courteously, as they
stepped into the narrow hall.

Before Mabel had time to answer, a tall, raw-boned woman, with a hard,
forbidding face, shoved her aside and confronted them. It was Miss Brant
herself.

"Well, what do you want?" she said rudely.

"Good afternoon," said Mr. Bright courteously. "Am I speaking to Miss
Brant?"

"I guess likely you are," responded the woman, "and you better state
your business now, for I've no time to fool away on strangers."

"You have a young girl with you by the name of Mabel Allison, have you
not?" asked Mr. Bright.

"Yes, I have. What's the matter with her? Has she been gettin' into
mischief? If she has, I'll tan her hide," said Miss Brant, with a
threatening gesture.

"On the contrary," replied Mr. Bright, "I hear very good reports of her.
Has she lived with you long?"

"That's none of your business," snapped Miss Brant. "If you've come here
to quiz me and pry around about her, you can get right out, for I'm not
answering any fool questions."

"I will not trouble you with further questions," replied Mr. Bright,
"but will proceed at once to business. I have come to take Miss Mabel
away with me. She has found friends who are willing to help her until
she finishes her education, and she wishes to go to them."

"Oh, she does, does she?" sneered the woman mockingly. "Well, you just
take her, if you dare."

"Have you legally adopted her?" asked Mr. Bright quietly.

"That's none of your business, either. You get out of my house or I'll
throw you out and these two snips of girls with you," almost screamed
Miss Brant.

"That will do," said Mr. Bright sternly. "We will go, but we shall take
Miss Mabel with us. I am a lawyer, Miss Brant, and I have positive proof
that this child is not bound to you in any way. You took her from the
orphanage on trial, exactly as you might hire a servant. You did not
even take the trouble to have yourself appointed her guardian. You
agreed to pay her for her work, but blows and harsh words are the only
payment she has ever received at your hands. She wishes to leave you
because she can no longer endure life with you. You haven't the
slightest claim upon her, and she is perfectly free to do as she
chooses. She is not of age yet, but as you are not her guardian, you had
no right to take money that she has earned from her, and she can call
you to account for it if she chooses. However, you have imposed upon her
for the last time, for she shall not spend another hour under your
roof."

"You touch her if you dare. She shan't leave this house," said the woman
in a furious tone.

"Mabel," said Mr. Bright to the young girl, who was cowering at one end
of the hall, "get your things and come at once. We will wait for you.
As for you," turning to Miss Brant, "if you try to stop her, you will
soon find yourself in a most unpleasant position. I am certain that if
you think back for an instant you will realize that you have forfeited
all right to object."

For a moment Miss Brant stood speechless with anger, then in her wrath
she poured forth such a flood of abuse that the rescue party stared in
amazement. Never had they seen such an exhibition of temper. When Mabel
appeared, her shabby hat in her hand, Miss Brant reached forward and
tore the hat from her.

"Don't you dare leave my house with any of my property, you baggage,"
she hissed. "I paid for that hat and for the clothes you're wearing, and
you'll send every stitch you've on back to me, or I'll have you arrested
for stealing."

[Illustration: "Don't You Dare Leave This House With My Property."]

"Come on, Mabel," said Grace, putting her arm around the shrinking
little figure. "Don't pay any attention to her. She isn't worth
bothering over. You can send her back her ridiculous things. You are
going to be happy now, and forget all about this cruel, terrible woman."

"You brazen imp, you," screamed the woman, and rushed at Grace, who
stood perfectly still, looking the angry woman in the face with such
open scorn in her gray eyes that Miss Brant drew back and stood scowling
at her, her hands working convulsively.

"Come, girls," said Mr. Bright. "We have no more time to waste. If you
have anything to say to me, Miss Brant, you can always find me at my
office on East Main Street. The clothing now worn by Miss Mabel will be
returned to you in due season. Good afternoon."

Mr. Bright, bowing politely, motioned to the three young girls to
precede him, and the party went quietly down the walk, leaving Miss
Brant in the open door, shaking her fist and uttering dire threats.

As for Mabel, she collapsed utterly, crying as though her heart would
break. Grace and Jessica exerted every effort to quiet her sobs, and
after a little she looked up, and, smiling through her tears, said
brokenly: "I can't believe that it's all true--that I shall never have
to go back there again. I'm afraid that it's all a dream and that I'll
wake up and find her standing over me. Can she get me again?" she said,
turning piteously to Mr. Bright.

"My dear little girl," he said, taking her hand, "she can't touch you.
I'll adopt you myself before I'll let you go back to her. Now run along
with Jessica and forget all about what has passed. Good-bye, Grace. You
see, your rescue party proved a success. Good-bye, daughter. Take good
care of Mabel. I'll have to hurry now, or miss my appointment."

Mr. Bright beamed on the three girls, raised his hat and hurried down
the street, leaving them to proceed slowly toward Jessica's home.
Passersby glanced curiously at the hatless, shabby young girl, as she
walked between Grace and Jessica, clinging to their hands as though
expecting every minute to be snatched from them.

"Well, girls," said Grace, "here is my street. I must leave you now. Be
good children, and----"

She was interrupted by an exultant shriek, and a second later five girls
appeared as by magic and gleefully surrounded the rescue party. The Phi
Sigma Tau was out in full force.

"Hurrah!" shrieked Nora, waving her school bag. "'We have met the enemy
and they are ours.' Tell us about it quickly. Why didn't you let me go
along? I was dying to cross swords with that old stone face."

Then everyone talked at once, surrounding Mabel and asking her questions
until Grace said, laughing: "Stop it, girls; let her get used to you
gradually. Don't come down on her like an avalanche."

Mabel, however, was equal to the occasion. She answered their questions
without embarrassment, and seemed quietly pleased at their
demonstrations.

"You are the child of the sorority now, Mabel," said Miriam Nesbit, "and
we are your adopted mothers. You will have your hands full trying to
please all of us."

"Stop teasing her," said Anne, "or she'll run away before she is fairly
adopted."

"It is very uncertain as to whether she will ever go further than my
house," said Jessica calmly. "I need Mabel more than do the rest of you,
but perhaps if you're good I'll loan her to you occasionally. Come on,
Mabel, let's go home before they spoil you completely."

"Considering the fact that the Bright family did two thirds of the
rescuing, I suppose we shall have to respect your claim," said Nora,
"but remember, Jessica, that generosity is a beautiful virtue to
cultivate."



CHAPTER X

JULIA PERFORMS A SACRED DUTY


"What have we ever done that we should be so neglected?" said David
Nesbit, swinging himself from his motorcycle and landing squarely in
front of Grace Harlowe and Anne Pierson while they were out walking one
afternoon.

"Why, David Nesbit, how can you make such statements?" replied Grace,
looking at the young man in mock disapproval. "You know perfectly well
that you've been shut up in your old laboratory all fall. We have
scarcely seen you since the walking party. You have even given football
the go by, and I'm so sorry, for you were a star player last year."

"I see you have discovered the secrets of my past life," replied David,
laughing. "That's what comes of having a sister who belongs to a
sorority. However, you folks are equally guilty, you've all gone mad
over your sorority, and left Hippy and Reddy and me to wander about
Oakdale like lost souls. I hear you've adopted a girl, too. Reddy is
horribly jealous of her. He says Jessica won't look at him any more."

"Reddy is laboring under a false impression," said Anne. "He is head
over heels in football practice and has forgotten he ever knew Jessica.
As for Hippy, Nora says that he is studying night and day, and that he
is actually wearing himself away by burning midnight oil."

"Yes, Hippy is studying some this year," replied David. "You see this is
our senior year, and we are going to enter the same college next year,
if all goes well. You know Hippy never bothered himself much about
study, just managed to scrape through. But now he'll have to hustle if
he gets through with High School this year, and he's wide awake to that
fact."

"Under those circumstances, Hippy is forgiven, but not you and Reddy!"
said Grace severely. "You'll have to have better excuses than football
and experiments."

"I'll tell you what we'll do to square ourselves," said David, smiling.
"We'll take you girls to the football game next Thursday. It's
Thanksgiving Day, you know, and Oakdale is going to play Georgetown
College. Reddy's on the team, but Hippy and I will do the honors."

"Fine," replied Grace. "But are you willing to burden yourselves with
some extra girls? You see it's this way. One of the things that our
sorority has pledged itself to do this year is to look up the stray
girls in High School, and see that they are not lonely and homesick
during holiday seasons. I used to know nearly all the girls in school,
but ever so many new ones have crept in, and some of them have come here
from quite a distance, on account of the excellence of our High School.
After we adopted Mabel Allison, we began looking about us for other fish
to fry, and found out about these girls. So every girl in the sorority
has invited one or more of these lonely ones for Thanksgiving Day. They
are to come in the morning and stay until the lights go out, which will
be late, for mother has consented to let me have a party and all those
new girls are to be the guests of honor.

"Mrs. Gray is in it, too. She insists on having Anne with her on
Thanksgiving, although Anne had invited two girls to her house,"
continued Grace. "Mrs. Gray had planned a party for us, but when we told
her what we were about to do, she gave up her party and agreed to go to
mine instead, on condition that Anne's family, plus Anne's two guests,
should have dinner with her."

"Bless her dear heart," said David, "she is always thinking of the
pleasure of others. Now about the football game. Bring your girls along
and I'll do my best to give them a good time, although I'm generally
anything but a success with new girls. However, Hippy makes up for what
I lack. He can entertain a regiment of them, and not even exert himself.
Now I must leave you, for I have a very important engagement at home."

"In the laboratory, I suppose," said Anne teasingly.

"Just so," replied David. "Good-bye, girls. Let me know how many tickets
you want for the game." He raised his cap, mounted his machine and was
off down the street.

"It will seem good to have a frolic with the boys again, won't it?" said
Grace to Anne as they strolled along.

"We do seem to be getting awfully serious and settled of late," replied
Anne. "Why, this sorority business has taken up all our spare time
lately. We've had so many special meetings."

"I know it," replied Grace, "but after Thanksgiving we'll only meet once
in two weeks, for I must get my basketball team in shape, and you see
all the members belong to the society."

"You ought to do extra good work this year," observed Anne, "for the
team is absolutely harmonious. Last season seems like a dream to me
now."

"It was real enough then," replied Grace grimly. "I have forgiven, long
ago, but I have not forgotten the way some of those girls performed last
year. It was remarkable that things ever straightened themselves. The
clouds looked black for a while, didn't they?"

Anne pressed Grace's hand by way of answer. The sophomore year had been
crowded with many trials, some of them positive school tragedies, in
which Anne and Grace had been the principal actors.

"What are you two mooning over?" asked a gay voice, and the two girls
turned with a start to find Julia Crosby grinning cheerfully at them.

"O Julia, how glad I am to see you at close range!" exclaimed Grace.
"Admiring you from a distance isn't a bit satisfactory."

"Business, children, business," said Julia briskly. "That's the only
thing that keeps me from your side. The duties of the class president
are many and irksome. At the present moment I've a duty on hand that
I don't in the least relish, and I want your august assistance. Will you
promise to help before I tell you?"

"Why, of course," answered Grace and Anne in the same breath. "What is
it you want us to do?"

"Well, it seems that some of your juniors are still in need of
discipline. You remember the hatchet that we buried last year with such
pomp and ceremony?"

"Yes, yes," was the answer.

"This morning I overheard certain girls planning to go out to the
Omnibus House after school to-morrow and dig up the poor hatchet and
flaunt it in the seniors' faces the day of the opening basketball game,
simply to rattle us. Just as though it wouldn't upset your team as much
as ours. It's an idiotic trick, at any rate, and anything but funny. Now
I propose to take four of our class, and you must select four of yours.
We'll hustle out there the minute school is over to-morrow, and be ready
to receive the marauders when they arrive. Select your girls, but don't
tell them what you want or they may tell some one about it beforehand."

"Well, of all impudence!" exclaimed Anne. "Who are the girls, Julia? Are
you sure they're juniors?"

"The two I heard talking are juniors. I don't know who else is in it.
They'll be very much astonished to find us 'waiting at the
church'--Omnibus House, I mean," said Julia, "and I imagine they'll feel
rather silly, too."

"Tell us who they are, Julia," said Grace. "We don't want to go into
this blindfolded."

"Wait and see," replied Julia tantalizingly. "Then you'll feel more
indignant and can help my cause along all the better. I give you my word
that the girls I overheard talking are not particular friends of yours.
You aren't going to back out, are you, and leave me without proper
support?"

"Of course not," laughed Grace. "Don't worry. We'll support you, only
you must agree to do all the talking."

"I shall endeavor to overcome their insane freshness with a few
well-chosen words," Julia promised. "Be sure and be on hand early."

Grace chose Anne, Nora, Jessica and Marian Barber, the latter three
being considerably mystified at her request, but nevertheless agreeing
to be on hand when school closed. They were met at the gate by Julia and
four other seniors, and the whole party set out for the Omnibus House
without delay.

Grace walked with Julia, and the two girls found plenty to say to each
other during the walk. Julia was studying hard, she told Grace. She
wanted to enter Smith next year.

"I don't know where I shall go after I finish High School," said Grace.
"Ethel Post wants me to go to Wellesley. She'll be a junior when I'm a
freshman. You know, she was graduated from High School last June and she
could help me a lot in getting used to college. But I don't know
whether I should like Wellesley. I shall not try to decide where I want
to go for a while yet."

"Wherever we are we'll write and always be friends," said Julia, and
Grace warmly acquiesced.

As they neared the old Omnibus House they could see no one about.

"We're early!" exclaimed Julia. "The enemy has not arrived. Thank
goodness, it's not cold to-day or we might have a chilly vigil. Now
listen, all ye faithful, while I set forth the object of this walk." She
thereupon related what Grace and Anne already knew.

"What a shame!" cried Marian Barber. "It isn't the hatchet we care for,
it's the principle of the thing. Give them what they deserve, Julia."

"Never fear," replied Julia. "I'll effectually attend to their case. Now
we'd better dodge around the corner and keep out of sight until they get
here. Then we'll swoop down upon them unawares."

The avengers hurriedly concealed themselves at the side of the old house
where they could not be seen by an approaching party.

They had not waited long before they heard voices.

"They're coming," whispered Julia. "There are eight of them. Form in
line and when they get nicely started, we'll circle about them and hem
them in. I'll give you the signal."

The girls waited in silence. "They have trowels," Julia informed them
from time to time. "They have a spade. They've begun to dig, and they
are having their own troubles, for the ground is hard. All ready!
March!"

Softly the procession approached the spot where the marauders were
energetically digging. Grace gave a little gasp, and reaching back
caught Anne's hand.

The girl using the spade was Eleanor.

"Now I'm in for it," groaned Grace. "She's down on me now, and she'll be
sure to think I organized the whole thing." For an instant Grace
regretted making the promise to Julia, before learning the situation;
then, holding her head a trifle more erect, she decided to make the best
of her unfortunate predicament.

"It isn't Julia's fault," she thought. "She probably knows nothing about
our acquaintance with Eleanor; besides, Eleanor has no business to play
such tricks. Edna Wright must have told her all about last year."

Her reflections were cut short, for one of the girls glanced up from her
digging with a sudden exclamation which drew all eyes toward Julia and
her party.

"Well, little folks," said Julia in mock surprise, "what sort of a party
is this? Are you making mud pies or are you pretending you are at the
seashore?"

At Julia's first words Eleanor dropped the small spade she held and
straightened up, the picture of defiance. Her glance traveled from girl
to girl, and she curled her lip contemptuously as her eye rested on
Grace and Anne. The other diggers looked sheepishly at Julia, who stood
eyeing them in a way that made them feel "too foolish for anything," as
one of them afterwards expressed it.

"Why don't you answer me, little girls?" asked Julia. "Has the kitty
stolen your tongue?"

This was too much for Eleanor.

"How dare you speak to us in that manner and treat us as though we were
children?" she burst forth. "What business is it of yours why we are
here? Do you own this property?"

"Mercy, no," replied Julia composedly. "Do you?"

"No," replied Eleanor a trifle less rudely, "but we have as much right
here as you have."

"Granted," replied Julia calmly. "However, there is this difference.
You are here to make mischief and we are here to prevent it, and,
furthermore, are going to do so."

"What do you mean?" retorted Eleanor, her eyes flashing.

"Just this," replied Julia. "Last year the girls belonging to the
present senior and junior classes met on this very spot and amicably
disposed of a two-year-old class grudge. Emblematic of this they buried
a hatchet, once occupying a humble though honorable position in the
Crosby family, but cheerfully sacrificed for the good of the cause.

"Yesterday," continued Julia, "I overheard two juniors plotting to get
possession of this same hatchet for the purpose of flaunting it in the
faces of the seniors at the opening basketball game. Therefore I decided
to take a hand in things, and here I am, backed by girls from both
classes, who are of the self-same mind."

"Really, Miss Crosby," said Edna Wright, "you are very amusing."

"My friends all think so," returned Julia sweetly, "but never mind now
about my amusing qualities, Edna. Let's talk about the present
situation."

She looked at Edna with the old-time aggravating smile that was always
warranted to further incense her opponent. It had its desired effect,
for Edna fairly bristled with indignation and was about to make a
furious reply when she was pushed aside by Eleanor, who said loftily,
"Allow me to talk to this person, Edna."

"No," said Julia resolutely, every vestige of a smile leaving her face
at Eleanor's words. "It would be useless for you to attempt to be
spokesman in this matter, because you are a new girl in High School and
know nothing of past class matters except from hearsay. But you have
with you seven girls who do know all about the enmity that was buried
here last spring, and who ought to have enough good sense to know that
this afternoon's performance is liable to bring it to life again.

"If you girls carry this hatchet to school and exhibit it to the seniors
on the day of the game you are apt to start bad feeling all over again,"
she said, turning to the others. "There are sure to be some girls in the
senior class who would resent it. Neither class has played tricks on the
other since peace was declared, and we don't want to begin now.

"That's the reason I asked Grace to appoint a committee of juniors and
come out here with me. I feel sure that under the circumstances the
absent members of both classes would agree with us if they were present.
Digging up a rusty old hatchet is nothing, but digging up a rusty old
grudge is quite another matter. We didn't come here to quarrel, but I
appeal to you, as members of the junior class, to think before you do
something that is bound to cause us all annoyance and perhaps
unhappiness."

There was complete silence after Julia finished speaking. What she had
said evidently impressed them. Eleanor alone looked belligerent.

"Perhaps we'd better let the old hatchet alone," Daisy Culver said
sullenly. "The fun is all spoiled now, and everyone will know about it
before school begins to-morrow."

"Daisy, how can you say so?" exclaimed Grace, who, fearing a scene with
Eleanor, had hitherto remained silent. "You know perfectly well that
none of us will say anything about it. Why, we came out here simply to
try to prevent your doing something that might stir up trouble again
between the senior and junior classes. There isn't a girl here who would
be so contemptible as to tell any one outside about what has happened
to-day."

This was Eleanor's opportunity. Turning furiously on Grace, her eyes
flashing, she exclaimed: "Yes, there is one girl who would tell
anything, and that girl is you! You pretend to be honorable and
high-principled, but you are nothing but a hypocrite and a sneak.
I would not trust you as far as I could see you. I have no doubt Miss
Crosby obtained her information about this affair to-day from you, and
that everyone in school will hear it from the same source. You seem
determined to meddle with matters that do not concern you, and I warn
you that if you do not change your tactics you may regret it.

"You seem to think yourself the idol of your class, but there are some
of the girls who are too clever to be deceived. They do not belong among
the number who trail tamely after you, either. And now I wish to say
that I despise you and all your friends, and wish never to speak to any
of you again. Come on, girls," she said, turning to the members of her
party, who had listened in silent amazement to her attack upon Grace.
"Let us go. Let them keep their trumpery hatchet."

With these words she turned and stalked across the field to the road,
where her runabout stood. After an instant's hesitation, she was
followed by Edna, Daisy Culver and those who had come with her.
Henceforth there would again be two distinct factions in the junior
class.

"Good gracious," exclaimed Julia Crosby. "Talk about your human
whirlwinds! What on earth did you ever do to her, Grace?"

But Grace could not answer. She was winking hard to keep back the tears.
Twice she attempted to speak and failed. "Never mind her, dear," said
Julia, slipping her arm about Grace, while the other girls gathered
round with many expressions of displeasure at Eleanor's cruel speech.

"I can't help feeling badly," said Grace, with a sob. "She said such
dreadful things."

"No one who knows you would believe them," replied Julia. "By the way,
who is she? I know her name is Savell and that she's a recent arrival in
Oakdale, but considering the plain and uncomplimentary manner in which
she addressed you, you must have seriously offended her ladyship."

"I'll tell you about her as we walk along," replied Grace, wiping her
eyes and smiling a little.

"Yes, we had better be moving," said Julia. "The battle is over. No one
has been killed and only one wounded. Nevertheless, the enemy has
retired in confusion."



CHAPTER XI

WORRIES AND PLANS


Although the girls belonging to Julia's party were silent concerning
what happened at the Omnibus House, the story leaked out, creating
considerable discussion among the members of the two upper classes.
Julia Crosby had a shrewd suspicion that Edna Wright had been the
original purveyor of the news, and in this she was right. Edna had,
under pledge of secrecy, told it to a sophomore, who immediately told it
to her dearest friend, and so the tale traveled until it reached
Eleanor, with numerous additions, far from pleasing to her. She was
thoroughly angry, and at once laid the matter at Grace's door, while her
animosity toward Grace grew daily.

But Grace was not the only person that Eleanor disliked. From the day
that Miss Thompson had taken her to task for absence, she had
entertained a supreme contempt for the principal of which Miss Thompson
was wholly unaware until, encountering Eleanor one morning in the
corridor, the latter had stared at her with an expression of such open
scorn and dislike that Miss Thompson felt her color rise. A direct slap
in the face could scarcely have conveyed greater insult than did that
one insolent glance. The principal was at a loss as to its import. She
wisely decided to ignore it, but stored it up in her memory for future
reference.

The sorority that Eleanor had mentioned in her letter to the Phi Sigma
Tau, was now in full flower. The seven girls who had accompanied her to
the Omnibus House were the chosen members. They wore pins in the shape
of skulls and cross bones, and went about making mysterious signs to
each other whenever they met. The very name of the society was shrouded
in mystery, though Nora O'Malley was heard to declare that she had no
doubt it was a branch of the "Black Hand."

Eleanor was the acknowledged leader, but Edna Wright became a close
second, and between them they managed to disseminate a spirit of
mischief throughout the school that the teachers found hard to combat.

Grace Harlowe watched the trend that affairs were taking with
considerable anxiety. Like herself, there were plenty of girls in school
to whom mischief did not appeal, but Eleanor's beauty, wealth and
fascinating personality were found to dazzle some of the girls, who
would follow her about like sheep, and it was over these girls that
Grace felt worried. If Eleanor were to organize and carry out any
malicious piece of mischief and they were implicated, they would all
have to suffer for what she would be directly responsible. Grace's heart
was with her class. She wished it to be a class among classes, and felt
an almost motherly anxiety for its success.

"What does ail some of our class?" she exclaimed to Anne and Nora one
day as they left the school building. "They seem possessed with imps.
The Phi Sigma Tau girls and a few of the grinds are really the only ones
who behave lately."

"It's largely due to Eleanor, I think," replied Anne. "She seems to have
become quite a power among some of the girls in the class. She is
helping to destroy that spirit of earnestness that you have tried so
hard to cultivate. I think it's a shame, too. The upper class girls
ought to set the example for the two lower classes."

"That's just what worries me," said Grace earnestly. "Hardly a
recitation passes in my class without some kind of disturbance, and it
is always traced to one of the girls in that crowd. The juniors will get
the reputation among the teachers this year that the junior class had
last, and it seems such a pity. I overheard Miss Chester tell Miss Kane
the other day that her junior classes were the most trying of the day,
because she had to work harder to maintain discipline than to teach her
subject."

"That's a nice reputation to carry around, isn't it!" remarked Nora
indignantly. "But all we can do is to try harder than ever to make
things go smoothly. I don't believe their society will last long, at any
rate. Those girls are sure to quarrel among themselves, and that will
end the whole thing. Or they may go too far and have Miss Thompson to
reckon with, and that would probably cool their ardor."

"O girls!" exclaimed Grace. "Speaking of Miss Thompson, reminds me that
I have something to tell you. What do you suppose the latest is?"

"If you know anything new, it is your duty to tell us at once, without
making us beg for it," said Nora reprovingly.

"All right; I accept the reproof," said Grace. "Now for my news. There
is talk of giving a Shakespearian play, with Miss Tebbs to engineer it,
and the cast to be chosen from the three lower classes. The seniors, of
course, will give their own play later."

"How did you find out?" asked Anne.

"Miss Thompson herself told me about it," replied Grace. "She called on
mother yesterday afternoon, and, for a wonder, I was at home. She said
that it was not positively decided yet, but if the girls did well with
the mid-year tests, then directly after there would be a try out for
parts, and rehearsals would begin without delay."

"How splendid!" exclaimed Anne, clasping her hands. "How I would love to
take part in it!"

"You will, without doubt, if there is a try out," replied Grace. "There
is no one in school who can recite as you do; besides, you have been on
the stage."

"I shall try awfully hard for a part, even if it is only two lines,"
said Anne earnestly. "I wonder what play is to be chosen, and if it is
to be given for the school only?"

"The play hasn't been decided upon yet," replied Grace, "but the object
of it is to get some money for new books for the school library. The
plan is to charge fifty cents a piece for the tickets and to give each
girl a certain number of them to sell. However, I'm not going to bother
much about the play now, for the senior team has just sent me a
challenge to play them Saturday, December 12th. So I'll have to get the
team together and go to work."

"We're awfully late this year about starting. Don't you think so?" asked
Nora.

"Yes," admitted Grace. "I am just as enthusiastic over basketball as
ever, only I haven't had the time to devote to it that I did last year."

"Never mind, you'll make up for lost time after Thanksgiving," said Anne
soothingly. "As for me, I'm going to dream about the play."

"Anne, I believe you have more love for the stage than you will admit,"
said Grace, laughing. "You are all taken up with the idea of this play."

"If one could live in the same atmosphere as that of home, then there
could be no profession more delightful than that of the actor," replied
Anne thoughtfully. "It is wonderful to feel that one is able to forget
one's self and become some one else. But it is more wonderful to make
one's audience feel it, too. To have them forget that one is anything
except the living, breathing person whose character one is trying to
portray. I suppose it's the sense of power that one has over people's
emotions that makes acting so fascinating. It is the other side that
I hate," she added, with a slight shudder.

"I suppose theatrical people do undergo many hardships," said Grace,
who, now that the subject had been opened, wanted to hear more of Anne's
views of the stage.

"Unless any girl has remarkable talent, I should advise her to keep off
the stage," said Anne decidedly. "Of course when a girl comes of a
theatrical family for generations, like Maud Adams or Ethel Barrymore,
then that is different. She is practically born, bred and brought up in
the theatre. She is as carefully guarded as though she lived in a little
village, simply because she knows from babyhood all the unpleasant
features of the profession and how to avoid them. There is some chance
of her becoming great, too. Of course real stars do appear once in a
while, who are too talented to be kept down. However, the really great
ones are few and far between. When I compare my life before I came here
with the good times I have had since I met you girls, I hate the very
idea of the stage.

"Only," she concluded with a shame-faced air, "there are times when the
desire to act is irresistible, and it did make my heart beat a little
bit faster when I heard about the play."

"You dear little mouse," said Grace, putting her arm around Anne. "I
was only jesting when I spoke about your love for the stage. I think
I understand how you feel, and I hope you get the best part in the play.
I know you'll make good."

"She certainly will," said Nora. "But, to give the play a rest and come
down to everyday affairs, where shall we meet to go to the football
game?"

"Let me see," said Grace. "The game is to be called at three o'clock.
I suppose we shall all be through dinner by half past two. You had better
bring your girls to my house. Each of you is to have two and Jessica has
one besides Mabel. I am to have three; I found another yesterday. David
promised to get me the tickets. I wonder how he and Hippy will enjoy
chaperoning thirteen girls?"

"I won't have the slightest chance to talk to Hippy," grumbled Nora,
"and he has neglected us shamefully of late, too."

"Never mind, you can have him all to yourself at my party," consoled
Grace. "By the way, girls, do you think it would be of any use to invite
Eleanor?"

"Eleanor?" exclaimed Nora. "After what she has said to you! You might as
well throw your invitation into the fire, for it's safe to say that she
will do so when she receives it."

Nevertheless, Grace wrote a cordial little note to Eleanor that evening,
and two days later she received Eleanor's reply through the mail. On
opening the envelope the pieces of her own note fell out, with a half
sheet of paper containing the words, "Declined with thanks."



CHAPTER XII

A RECKLESS CHAUFFEUR


Thanksgiving Day dawned bright and clear, with just enough frost in the
air to make one's blood tingle. It had been a mild fall, with a late
Indian summer, and only one or two snow flurries that had lasted but a
few hours. This was unusual for Oakdale, as winter generally came with a
rush before the middle of November, and treated the inhabitants of that
northern city to a taste of zero weather long before the Christmas
holidays.

It was with a light heart that Grace Harlowe ate her breakfast and
flitted about the house, putting a final touch here and there before
receiving her guests. Before eleven o'clock everything was finished, and
as she arranged the last flower in its vase she felt a little thrill of
pride as she looked about the pretty drawing room. Before going upstairs
to dress, she ran into the reception hall for the fourth time to feast
her eyes upon a huge bunch of tall chrysanthemums in the beautiful
Japanese vase that stood in the alcove under the stairs. They had come
about an hour before with a note from Tom Gray saying that he had
arrived in Oakdale that morning, had seen the boys and would be around
to help David and Reddy at the "girl convention," as he termed it.

Grace was overjoyed at the idea of seeing Tom Gray again. They had been
firm friends since her freshman year, and had entertained a wholesome,
boy-and-girl preference for each other untinged by any trace of foolish
sentimentality.

As she dressed for dinner, Grace felt perfectly happy except for one
thing. She still smarted a little at Eleanor's rude reply to her
invitation. She was one of those tender-hearted girls who disliked being
on bad terms with any one, and she really liked Eleanor still, in spite
of the fact that Eleanor did not in the least return the sentiment.

Grace sighed a little over the rebuff, and then completely forgot her
trouble as she donned the new gown that had just come from the
dressmaker. It was of Italian cloth in a beautiful shade of dark red,
made in one piece, with a yoke of red and gold net, and trimmed with
tiny enameled buttons. It fitted her straight, slender figure perfectly
and she decided that for once she had been wise in foregoing her
favorite blue and choosing red.

The party that evening was to be a strictly informal affair. Grace had
suspected that the girls whom the members of the Phi Sigma Tau were to
entertain were not likely to possess evening gowns. In order to avoid
any possibility of hurt feelings, she had quietly requested those
invited to wear the afternoon gowns in which they would appear at the
game.

Before one o'clock her guests had arrived. They were three shy, quiet
girls who had worshiped Grace from a distance, and who had been
surprised almost to tears by her invitation. Two of them were from
Portville, a small town about seventy miles from Oakdale, and had begun
High School with Grace, who had been too busy with her own affairs up to
the present to find out much about them.

The other girl, Marie Bateman, had entered the class that year. She had
come from a little village forty miles south of Oakdale, was the oldest
of a large family, her mother being a widow of very small means. As her
mother was unable to send her away to school, she had done clerical work
for the only lawyer in the home town for the previous two years,
studying between whiles. She had entered the High School in the junior
class, determining to graduate and then to work her way through Normal
School. By dint of questioning, Grace had discovered that she lived in a
shabby little room in the suburbs, never went anywhere and did anything
honest in the way of earning money that she could find to do.

The realization of what some of these girls were willing to endure for
the sake of getting an education made Grace feel guilty at being so
comfortably situated. She determined that the holidays that year should
not find them without friends and cheer.

After a rousing Thanksgiving dinner, in which the inevitable turkey,
with all its toothsome accompaniments, played a prominent part, the
girls retired to Grace's room for a final adjustment of hair and a last
survey in the mirror before going to the game. High School matters
formed the principal theme of conversation, and Grace was not surprised
to learn that Eleanor had been carrying things with a high hand in
third-year French class, in which Ellen Holt, one of the Portville
girls, recited.

"She speaks French as well as Professor La Roche," said Miss Holt, "but
she nearly drives him crazy sometimes. She will pretend she doesn't
understand him and will make him explain the construction of a sentence
over and over again, or she will argue with him about a point until he
loses his temper completely. She makes perfectly ridiculous caricatures
of him, and leaves them on his desk when class is over, and she asks him
to translate impertinent slang phrases, which he does, sometimes,
before he realizes how they are going to sound. Then the whole class
laughs at him. She certainly makes things lively in that class."

The sound of the bell cut short the chat and the four girls hurried
downstairs to greet Jessica, Mabel and the girls who were the Bright's
guests. Nora and Anne, with their charges, came next, and last of all
David, Tom and Hippy paraded up the walk, in single file, blowing
lustily on tin horns and waving blue and white banners. A brief season
of introduction followed, then Grace distributed blue and white rosettes
with long streamers that she had made for the occasion, to each member
of the party. Well supplied with Oakdale colors, they set out for the
football grounds, where an immense crowd of people had gathered to see
the big game of the season.

"I shall never forget the first football game I saw in Oakdale," said
Anne to David as they made their way to the grandstand. "It ended very
sensationally for me."

"I should say it did," replied David, smiling. "Confidentially, Anne, do
you ever hear from your father?"

"Not very often," replied Anne. "He is not liable to trouble me again,
however, because he knows that I will not go back to the stage, no
matter what he says. He was with the western company of 'True Hearts'
last year, but I don't know where he is now, and I don't care. Don't
think I'm unfeeling; but it is impossible for me to care for him, even
though he is my father."

"I understand," said David sympathetically. "Now let's forget him and
have a good time."

"Hurrah! Here comes the band!" shouted Hippy.

The "Oakdale Military Band" took their places in the improvised
bandstand and began a short concert before the game with the "Stars and
Stripes," while the spectators unconsciously kept time with their feet
to the inspiring strains.

When the two teams appeared on the field there were shouts of enthusiasm
from the friends of the players, and the band burst forth with the High
School song, in which the students joined.

After the usual preliminaries, the game began, and for the next hour
everything else was forgotten save the battle that waged between the two
teams.

Miriam Nesbit, Eva Allen and Marian Barber, with their guests, joined
Grace's party, and soon the place they occupied became the very center
of enthusiasm. Reddy, who was playing left end on the home team,
received an ovation every time he made a move, and when towards the end
of the game he made a touchdown, his friends nearly split their loyal
throats in expressing their approval.

It was over at last, and Oakdale had won a complete victory over the
Georgetown foe, who took their defeat with becoming grace. As soon as
Reddy could free himself from the grasp of his school fellows, who would
have borne him from the field in triumph if he had not stoutly resisted,
he hurried to his friends, who showered him with congratulations.

"O you Titian-haired star!" cried Hippy, clasping his hands in mock
admiration. "You are the rarest jewel in the casket. Words fail to
express my feelings.

          "'O joy, O bliss, O rapture! Let happiness now hap!
            I am a sea of gurgling glee, with ecstacy on tap.'"

Hippy recited this effusion in a killing falsetto voice, and endeavored
to embrace Reddy fervently, but was dragged back by Tom and David, to
Reddy's visible relief.

"He's the idol of the hour. Don't put your irreverent hands on him," was
David's injunction.

"But I adore idols," persisted Hippy. "Let me at him."

"Quit it, fat one!" growled Reddy, with a grin. "I'll settle with you
later."

With gay laughter and jest, the young folks made their way from the
grounds and started down the road toward home.

The whole party, walking four abreast, had just turned the curve where
the road ended and Main Street began, when there was a hoarse honk!
honk! and a runabout decorated in blue and white, containing Eleanor and
Edna Wright, bore down upon them at lightning speed. The girls, uttering
little cries of alarm, scattered to both sides of the road, with the
exception of Mabel Allison, who, in her hurry to get out of the way,
stumbled and fell directly in the path of the oncoming machine.



CHAPTER XIII

A THANKSGIVING FROLIC


But sudden as had been Mabel's fall, Grace Harlowe was equal to the
emergency. With a bound she reached the middle of the road, seized Mabel
and dragged her back just as the runabout passed over the place where
she had fallen. It almost grazed her outstretched hand, then shot on
down the road without slackening its speed for an instant.

There was a cry of horror from the young folks that ended in a sigh of
relief. David and Tom Gray quickly raised Mabel to her feet and turned
to Grace, whose face was ghastly, while she trembled like a leaf. The
reaction had set in the moment she realized that Mabel was safe. Jessica
and Nora had both begun to cry, while the faces of the others fully
expressed their feelings.

"Grace," said Tom in a husky voice, "that was the quickest move I ever
saw any one make."

Grace drew a long breath, the color returned to her pale face and in a
measure she recovered herself.

"Some one had to do something," she said weakly. "I was the nearest to
her, that's all. Are you hurt, Mabel, dear?" she asked, turning to the
young girl, who stood by Jessica, looking white and dazed.

"It came so suddenly," she faltered, "I couldn't get up. It was awful!"
She shuddered, then burst into tears, burying her face in Jessica's
shoulder.

"There, there," soothed Jessica, wiping her own eyes. "It's all right
now. Stand up straight and let me brush your coat. You are all mud."

"Here come the would-be murderesses now," cried Hippy. "They actually
managed to stop and turn around, and now they are coming this way. One
of them is my pet abomination--Miss Wright. She used to call me 'fatty'
when I was little, and I've never forgiven her. But who is the reckless
young person playing chauffeur? She ought to be put in jail for
exceeding the speed limit."

"Hush!" said Grace. "Here she is."

The runabout had stopped and Eleanor alighted. Ignoring the four chums,
she walked up to Miriam Nesbit.

"Will you please tell me if any one is hurt?" she asked pettishly.
"I saw some one fall, but couldn't stop the machine. I supposed the
highway was for vehicles, not pedestrians four abreast."

"Miss Savell, you have just missed running over Miss Allison," said
Miriam coldly. "Had it not been for Miss Harlowe, there would have been
a serious accident. I should advise you to drive more carefully in
future, or you may not escape so easily another time."

Eleanor flushed at these words and said haughtily, "I did not ask for
advice, I asked for information."

"Very true," replied Miriam calmly, "but you see I have given you both."

"You are the most ill-bred lot of girls I have ever seen," returned
Eleanor crossly, "and I think you are making a great deal of unnecessary
fuss over a small matter. Why didn't your prize orphan get out of the
way with the rest of you? Besides, you have no right to block a public
highway, as you did. I am very sorry I came back at all."

Turning on her heel, she walked back to the runabout, climbed in and
drove down the road like the wind, apparently indifferent as to what
comment her heartless behavior might create.

"Who on earth is that girl?" inquired Reddy Brooks. "She has about as
much sympathy as a stone."

"That is Eleanor Savell," replied Anne Pierson, "and she can be nice if
she wishes, but she doesn't like us very well. That's why she was so
hateful."

"So that's the famous Eleanor?" said Tom Gray in a low tone to
Grace. "Aunt Rose was telling me about her this morning at breakfast.
I supposed she was a great friend of yours."

"She was, but she isn't," returned Grace. "That's rather indefinite.
However, I'll tell you about it as we go back."

"She certainly can't complain as far as looks are concerned," said
Hippy. "She must have yards of blue ribbon that she won at baby shows
when but a mere infant."

"Attention, boys and girls," cried Grace. "Let us forget what has
happened and have just as good a time to-night as we can. We mustn't
spoil the party."

"I move that we give Grace Harlowe a special round of applause for being
a heroine," cried Hippy. "Hurrah!"

His example was quickly followed and the noise of the cheering brought
people to their doors to see what the excitement was about.

"Do stop," protested Grace. "People will begin asking all sorts of
questions."

"Don't interfere with our simple pleasures," expostulated Hippy. "Let us
howl in peace. High School yell next, please."

By the time the party had reached the center of the town where their
ways parted, the shadow cast by the near accident had almost
disappeared.

By eight o'clock that evening the last guest had arrived, and the
Harlowe's hospitable home was the scene of radiant good cheer. Mrs.
Gray, enthroned in a big chair in one corner of the drawing room, was in
her element, and the young folks vied with each other in doing her
homage. The sprightly old lady was never so happy as when surrounded by
young folks. She had a word or smile for each one, and the new girls who
had at first felt rather timid about meeting her, were soon entirely at
ease in her presence.

The greater part of the furniture had been removed from the big living
room and the floor had been crashed; while a string orchestra that made
a specialty of playing for parties had been hired for the pleasure of
those who cared to dance.

As dancing was the chief amusement at nearly all of the young people's
parties in Oakdale, the floor was filled from the beginning of the first
waltz until supper was announced. This was served at two long tables in
the dining room, Mrs. Gray occupying the seat of honor at the head of
one, and Miss Thompson, who was a favorite at High School parties, the
other. There were miniature ears of corn, turkeys, pumpkins and various
other favors appropriate to Thanksgiving at each one's place. In the
center of one table stood two dolls dressed in the style of costume worn
by the Pilgrim fathers and mothers. They held a scroll between them on
which was printed the Thanksgiving Proclamation. In the center of the
other table were two dolls, one dressed in football uniform, a miniature
football under its arm, while the other, dressed as a High School girl,
held up a blue banner with O. H. S. on it in big, white letters.

This had been Grace's idea. She had dressed the dolls with the idea of
contrasting the first Thanksgiving with that of to-day. There was a
great craning of necks from those at the one table to see the central
figures on the other, but soon every one settled down to the discussion
of the dainties provided for them.

The supper ended with a toast to their young hostess, which was drunk
standing, and then the guests repaired to the drawing room, where
impromptu stunts were in order. Every one was obliged to do something,
if only to make a remark appropriate to the occasion. Nora sang, Anne
recited, Grace and Miriam did a Spanish dance that they had practised
during vacation with remarkable spirit and effect. Jessica was then
detailed to play, and under cover of her music, Tom, Reddy, David and
Hippy left the room, Tom returning presently to announce solemnly that
an original one-act drama, entitled "The Suffragette," written by Mr.
Wingate and presented by a notable cast, would be the next offering.

After a moment's wait, Hippy, Reddy and David appeared, and were greeted
with shouts of laughter. Reddy minced along in a bonnet and skirt
belonging to Mrs. Harlowe, while Hippy wore a long-sleeved gingham
pinafore of Grace's, which lacked considerable of meeting in the back,
and was kept on by means of a sash. After deliberately setting their
stage in full view of the audience at one end of the room, the play
began, with David as the meek, hen-pecked husband, Hippy as the
neglected child, who wept and howled continuously, while Reddy played
the unnatural wife and mother, who neglected her family and held woman's
suffrage meetings in the street.

The dialogue was clever, and the action of the sketch so ridiculous that
the audience laughed from the first line until the climax, especially
when the suffragette was hustled off to jail by Tom Gray, in the rôle of
a policeman, for disturbing the peace, while her husband and child
executed a wild dance of joy as she was hauled off the scene, protesting
vigorously.

The applause was tremendous and the cast were obliged to bow their
thanks several times before it subsided. Songs, speeches and recitations
followed rapidly until everyone had contributed something in the way of
a stunt. Then the guests formed two long lines from the living room
straight through the big archway into the drawing room, and soon a
Virginia reel was in full swing, led off by Mr. Harlowe and Mrs. Gray,
who took her steps as daintily as when she had danced at her first party
so many years before.

After the reel, the young folks romped through "Paul Jones," and then
the party broke up, all declaring that never before had they had quite
such a good time.

As Grace sleepily prepared for bed, she felt a little thrill of pride at
the success of her party, and her only regret was the fact that of all
those invited, Eleanor was the only one who had refused to be present.



CHAPTER XIV

ELEANOR FINDS A WAY


Now that Thanksgiving was past, basketball became the topic of the hour.
The juniors had accepted the challenge of the senior class, and had
agreed to play them on Saturday, December 12, at two o'clock, in the
gymnasium. Only two weeks remained in which to practise. Their sorority
enthusiasm had so completely run away with them that they had even
neglected basketball until now. Therefore Grace Harlowe lost no time
in getting Miss Thompson's permission to use the gymnasium, and promptly
notified her team and the subs. to meet there, in gymnasium suits,
prepared to play, that afternoon.

The instant the last bell sounded on lessons, ten girls made for their
lockers, and fifteen minutes later the first team and the subs. were
moving toward the gymnasium deep in the discussion of the coming game
and their chances for success over their opponents.

A brief meeting was held, and the girls were assigned to their
positions. Grace had fully intended that Miriam should play center, but
when she proposed it, Miriam flatly refused to do so, and asked for her
old position of right forward.

"You are our captain," she declared to Grace, "and the best center
I ever saw on a girls' team. It would be folly to change now. Don't
you agree with me, girls?"

Nora was detailed as left forward, while Marian Barber and Eva Allen
played right and left guards. The substitutes were also assigned their
positions and practice began.

Before they had been on the floor twenty minutes the girls were
thoroughly alive to the joy of the game and worked with the old-time
dash and spirit that had won them the championship the previous year.
Now that they were in harmony with each other, they played with
remarkable unity, and after an hour's practice Grace decided that they
were in a fair way to "whip the seniors off the face of the earth."

"I never saw you girls work better!" she exclaimed. "It will be a sorry
day for the seniors when we line up on the twelfth."

"There'll be a great gnashing of senior teeth after the game," remarked
Nora confidently.

"Do you know, girls," said Grace, as they left the gymnasium that
afternoon, "I am sorry that Eleanor won't be peaceable. I wanted her to
like every bit of our school life and thought she'd surely be interested
in basketball. I suppose she will stay away from the game merely
because we are on the team. It is really a shame for her to be so
unreasonable."

"Grace Harlowe, are you ever going to stop mourning over Eleanor?" cried
Miriam impatiently. "She doesn't deserve your regret and is too selfish
to appreciate it. I know what I am talking about because I used to be
just as ridiculous as she is, and knowing what you suffered through me,
I can't bear to see you unhappy again over some one who is too trivial
to be taken seriously."

"You're a dear, Miriam!" exclaimed Nora impulsively.

It was the first time that the once haughty Miriam had ever referred
publicly to past shortcomings, although from the time she and Grace had
settled their difficulties at the close of the sophomore year, she had
been a changed girl.

"Where are Anne and Jessica to-day?" asked Eva Allen.

"Anne and Jessica have refused point blank to honor us with their
presence during practice," announced Nora. "I asked Jessica to-day, and
she said that they didn't want to know how we intended to play, for then
they could wax enthusiastic and make a great deal more noise. It is
their ambition to become loud and loyal fans."

"What a worthy ambition," said Marian Barber, with a giggle. "They are
such noisy creatures already."

There was more laughing at this, as Anne and Jessica were by far the
quietest members of the sorority.

"Remember, we practise to-morrow after school," called Grace as she
separated from her team at her street.

As she walked slowly down the quiet street, deep in thought, her ear
caught the sound of an approaching automobile, and she looked up just in
time to see Eleanor drive by in her machine. Grace nodded to her, but
her salutation met with a chilly stare.

"How childish she is," thought Grace. "I suppose she thinks that hurts
me. Of course it isn't exactly pleasant, but I'm going to keep on
speaking to her, just the same. I am not angry, even if she is; although
I have far greater cause to be."

But before the close of the week Grace was destined to cross swords with
Eleanor in earnest, and the toleration she had felt was swallowed up in
righteous indignation.

During the winter, theatrical companies sometimes visited Oakdale for a
week at a time, presenting, at popular prices, old worn-out plays and
cheap melodramas. These companies gave daily matinées as well as
evening performances, and the more frivolous element of High School
girls had in time past occasionally "skipped school" to spend the
afternoon in the theatre. By the girls, this form of truancy was
considered a "lark," but Miss Thompson did not look at the matter in the
same light, and disciplined the culprit so severely whenever she found
this to be the cause of an afternoon's absence that the girls were slow
to offend in this respect.

All this Eleanor had heard, among other things, from Edna Wright, but
had paid little attention to it when Edna had told her. Directly after
cutting Grace Harlowe, she had turned her runabout into Main Street,
where a billboard had caught her eye, displaying in glaring red and blue
lettering the fact that the "Peerless Dramatic Company" would open a
week's engagement in Oakdale with daily matinées.

Eleanor's eyes sparkled. She halted her machine, scanning curiously the
list of plays on the billboard. "The Nihilist's Daughter" was scheduled
for Thursday afternoon, and Eleanor decided to go. She wasn't afraid of
Miss Thompson. Then, possessed with a sudden idea, she laughed
gleefully. At last she had found a way to effectually annoy the
principal.



CHAPTER XV

A WOULD-BE "LARK"


Eleanor Savell and the seven girls who formed their sorority were the
first to enter the study hall on Tuesday morning. As soon as a girl from
any of the three lower classes appeared she was approached by some of
the former and a great deal of whispering and subdued laughter went on.
A few girls were seen to shake their heads dubiously, and a number of
those termed "grinds" were not interviewed. The majority, however,
appeared to be highly delighted over what they heard, one group standing
near one of the windows, of which Eleanor was the center, laughed so
loudly that they were sent to their seats.

Among the number to whom nothing was said were the members of the Phi
Sigma Tau, and as the morning advanced they became fully aware that
something unusual was in the wind. Several times they caught sight of a
folded paper being stealthily passed from one desk to another, but as to
its contents they had no idea, as it was not handed to any one of them.

At recess there was more grouping and whispering, and Grace was puzzled
and not a little hurt over the way in which she and her friends were
ignored. Such a thing had not happened since the basketball trouble the
previous year.

"Eleanor started that paper, whatever it is," said Nora O'Malley to the
Phi Sigma Tau, who stood in a group around her desk. "She was here when
I came in this morning, and I was early, too. It is some masterpiece of
mischief on her part, or she wouldn't take the trouble to get here on
time."

"Here comes Mabel," said Jessica. "Maybe she has seen the paper. Mabel,
dear, did you see that paper that has been going the rounds this
morning?"

Mabel nodded.

"What was written on it, Mabel?" asked Grace curiously.

Mabel looked distressed for a moment then she said, "I wish I might
tell you all about it, but I gave my word of honor before I read it
that I wouldn't mention the contents to any one."

"Then, of course, we won't ask you," said Anne Pierson quickly. "But
tell us this much--is it about any of us?"

"No," replied Mabel. "It isn't. It is something I was asked to sign."

"And did you sign it?" asked Jessica.

"I certainly did not," responded Mabel. "It was----" she stopped, then
flushed. She had been on the point of telling. "I am sorry I ever saw
it," she continued. "I can't bear to have secrets and not tell you."

"That's all right, Mabel," said Marian Barber, patting her on the
shoulder. "We don't want you to tell. If it doesn't concern us we don't
care, do we, girls?"

"No, indeed," was the reply.

Just then the bell sounded and the girls returned to their seats with
the riddle still unsolved. Nothing more was seen of the mysterious
paper, and Grace came to the conclusion that it had been nothing
important, after all.

On Wednesday, aside from a little more whispering and significant
glances exchanged among the pupils, not a ripple disturbed the calm of
the study hall. It was therefore a distinct and not altogether pleasant
surprise when Miss Thompson walked into the room, dismissed the senior
class and requested the three lower classes to remain in their seats.

After the seniors had quietly left the study hall, Miss Thompson stood
gravely regarding the rows of girls before her. Her eyes wandered toward
where Eleanor sat, looking bored and indifferent, and then she looked
toward Grace, whose steady gray eyes were fixed on the principal's face
with respectful attention.

"I don't believe Grace is guilty, at any rate," thought Miss Thompson;
then she addressed the assembled girls.

"Something has come to my ears, girls," said the principal, "that I find
hard to credit, but before you leave here this afternoon I must know who
is innocent and who is guilty."

Miss Thompson paused and a number of girls stirred uneasily in their
seats, while a few glanced quickly toward Eleanor, who was looking
straight ahead, the picture of innocence.

"You all know," continued the principal, "that it is strictly forbidden
for any pupil to absent herself from school for the purpose of attending
a circus, matinée or any public performance of this nature. I have so
severely disciplined pupils for this offence that for a long time no one
has disobeyed me. I was, therefore, astonished to learn that a number of
girls, regardless of rules, have taken matters into their own hands and
have decided to absent themselves from school to-morrow in order to
attend the matinée to be given in the theatre. Such a decision is worse
than disobedience--it is lawlessness. Unless a severe example is made of
the offenders, the standard of the school will be lowered. Therefore,
I intend to sift this matter to the bottom and find out what mischievous
influence prompted this act of insubordination.

"Report says that this movement originated in the junior class, and that
a paper has been circulated and signed by certain pupils, who pledged
themselves to play truant and attend the matinée to-morrow."

The eyes of Grace and her chums turned questioningly toward Mabel
Allison, who nodded slightly in the affirmative.

So that was what all the whispering and mystery had meant. Grace
inwardly congratulated herself on having kept clear of the whole thing.
None of her friends were implicated, either. Even Mabel had refused to
sign.

"I have dismissed the senior class, because I have been assured of their
entire ignorance of the plot. What I insist upon knowing now, is who are
the real culprits, beginning with the girl who originated the paper to
the last one who signed it. I am going to put every girl on her honor,
and I expect absolutely truthful answers. The girls who signed the paper
I have mentioned will rise."

There was a moment of suspense, then Eleanor Savell proudly rose from
her seat. Her example was followed, until two thirds of the girls
present were standing. The principal stood silently regarding them with
an expression of severity that was decidedly discomfitting.

"That will do," she said curtly, after they had stood for what seemed
to them an age, but was really only a couple of minutes.

"You may be seated. The girl who composed and wrote that agreement will
now rise and explain herself."

Without hesitating, Eleanor rose and regarded the principal with an
insolent smile. "I wrote it, Miss Thompson," she said clearly. "I wrote
it because I wished to. I am sorry you found out about it, because it
has spoiled all our fun."

There was a gasp of horror at Eleanor's assertion. No one had ever
before spoken so disrespectfully to their revered principal.

"Miss Savell," said the principal quietly, although her flashing eyes
and set lips showed that she was very angry, "if you have that paper in
your possession, bring it to me at once, and never answer me again as
you did just now. You are both disrespectful and impertinent."

But Miss Thompson's anger toward Eleanor was nothing compared with the
tempest that the principal had aroused in Eleanor. The latter flushed,
then turned perfectly white with rage. Still standing, she reached down,
picked up a book from her desk and took from it a paper. "This," she
said, in a low tense voice, "is the paper you wish to see. I do not
choose to let you see it, therefore I shall destroy it."

[Illustration: "I Do Not Choose to Let You See This Paper."]

Then she deliberately tore the offending paper into shreds and scattered
them broadcast.

"I hope you understand that I am not afraid of you or any other teacher
in this school," she continued. "I have never been punished in my life,
therefore I am not liable to give you the first opportunity. I despise
you, because you are a ridiculous prig, and I am glad of an opportunity
to tell you so. As for the persons who told you about our plan, words
cannot express my contempt for them, and right here I accuse Grace
Harlowe and her sorority of getting the information from Mabel Allison
yesterday and carrying it to you. They are all tale-bearers and sneaks."

With these words, Eleanor angrily flung the book she held on the desk
and walked down the aisle toward the door, but Miss Thompson barred her
way.

"Stop, Miss Savell," she commanded. "You shall not leave this room until
you have apologized to the girls whom you have unjustly accused and to
me. I will not tolerate such behavior."

Eleanor glared at the principal, whose face was rigid in its purpose,
then sank into the nearest vacant seat, saying defiantly: "You may keep
me here all night if you like, but, I meant what I said, and I shall
retract nothing."

Nevertheless she did not again attempt to leave the room. She had met
with a will stronger than her own and she realized it.

Ignoring Eleanor's final remark, Miss Thompson once more turned her
attention to the matter in hand.

"Those girls who are not in any way implicated in this matter are
dismissed," she said.

About one third of the girls arose and prepared to leave the study hall,
the Phi Sigma Tau being among the number. Grace motioned the girls to
hurry. She wished to leave the room with her friends before Miss
Thompson noticed them. She knew the principal would insist on an apology
from Eleanor, and neither she nor her friends wished it. For the first
time since Eleanor had chosen to cut their acquaintance Grace was
thoroughly angry with her. She could not forgive Eleanor for having
accused her and her friends of carrying tales before almost the entire
school; therefore a forced apology would not appease her wounded pride.
She drew a breath of relief when the eight girls were safely outside the
study hall door.

"Hurry up," she said. "We'll talk when we get outside school. Don't stop
for a minute. If Miss Thompson notices that we are gone, she'll send
after us."

The girls silently donned their wraps and fled from the building like
fugitives from justice. Once on the street a lively confab ensued, all
talking at once.

"Let's take turns talking," cried Grace, laughing. "We shall understand
each other a little better."

"Now, what do you think of Miss Eleanor?" cried Nora. "She has certainly
shown her true colors this time."

"I never heard of anything more unjust than the way she accused us, when
we knew nothing about her old plan," said Marian Barber.

"It was abominable," said Eva Allen.

The other girls expressed their disapproval in equally frank terms.

"I suppose it did look as though I told you girls," said Mabel Allison,
who had joined them at the gate. "You know I was with you at recess,
right after the paper had been passed to me. I don't think Miss Savell
intended me to see it. It was passed to me by mistake."

"Very likely," agreed Grace. "I wonder who did tell Miss Thompson. I saw
several girls with the paper, but hadn't the remotest idea what it was
all about. You know Miss Thompson is awfully down on 'skipping school.'
She threatened last year to suspend Edna Wright for it."

"There will be weeping and wailing in the 'Skull and Crossbones'
crowd,'" exclaimed Nora. "They are all in this mix-up, and if they
aren't suspended, they'll be lucky."

"Are you going to stand up for Eleanor now, in the face of what she said
about all of us before those girls, Grace?" asked Marian Barber hotly.

"No," said Grace shortly. "She deserves to be punished. The things she
said to Miss Thompson were disgraceful, and I shall never forgive her
for the way she spoke of us."

"I wouldn't say that, Grace," remarked Anne. "You can never tell what
may happen to change your views."

"It will have to be something remarkable in this instance," replied
Grace grimly, as she bade the girls good-bye. "Remember, girls,
basketball practice again to-morrow, and the rest of the week. Miss
Thompson has promised me the gymnasium. Please make it a point to be on
hand."

"Good-bye, Grace," chorused her friends, and went on down the street
discussing the probable fate of the would-be truants.

       *       *       *       *       *

To return to those youthful transgressors. They were spending a most
uncomfortable half hour with Miss Thompson. She was merciless in her
denunciation of their conduct, and the terror of suspension arose in
more than one mind, as they listened to her scathing remarks. It had all
seemed a huge joke when they planned it, but there was nothing funny
about it now. When, with the exception of Eleanor, the principal
dismissed them, they filed decorously out, very uneasy in mind. Miss
Thompson had taken their names, but had not stated their punishment and
it was certain that they would be made to feel the full weight of her
displeasure.

When the last girl had disappeared the principal turned to Eleanor.
"I will listen to your apology, Miss Savell," she said coldly.

Eleanor looked scornfully at the principal, and was silent.

"Do you intend to obey me, Miss Savell?" asked Miss Thompson.

Still there was no answer.

"Very well," continued Miss Thompson. "Your silence indicates that you
are still insubordinate. You may, therefore, choose between two things.
You may apologize to me now, and to-morrow to the girls you have accused
of treachery, or you may leave this school, not to return to it unless
permitted to do so by the Board of Education."

Without a word Eleanor rose and walked haughtily out of the room.



CHAPTER XVI

THE JUNIORS FOREVER


When the four classes assembled Thursday morning, every girl, with the
exception of Eleanor, was in her seat. Her absence created considerable
comment, and it was a matter of speculation as to whether she had
purposely absented herself or really had been suspended.

After conducting opening exercises, Miss Thompson pronounced sentence on
the culprits. They were to forfeit their recess, library and all other
privileges until the end of the term. They must turn in two themes every
week of not less than six hundred words on certain subjects to be
assigned to them. If, during this time, any one of them should be
reported for a misdemeanor, they were to be suspended without delay.

Their penalty was far from light, but they had not been suspended, and
so they resolved to endure it as best they might.

Grace Harlowe felt a load lifted from her mind when Miss Thompson
publicly announced that she had not received any information from either
Mabel Allison or the Phi Sigma Tau.

"Thank goodness, none of us were concerned in that affair," she told the
members of her basketball team at recess. "There are two girls on the
sophomore and three on the freshman team whose basketball ardor will
have to cool until after the mid-year exams."

"You might know that some of those silly freshmen would get into
trouble," said Nora scornfully.

          "'Twas many and many a year ago,
              In an age beyond recall,
            That Nora, the freshman, lowly sat
              At one end of the study hall."

recited Anne Pierson in dramatic tones.

There was a burst of laughter from the girls at this effusion, in which
Nora herself joined.

"What a delicate way of reminding me that I once was a freshman!" she
exclaimed.

"Anne has a new accomplishment," said Grace. "She can spout poetry
without trying."

"Small credit is due me," said Anne, smiling. "Anyone can twist 'Annabel
Lee' to suit the occasion."

"By the way, Anne," said Grace, "as you are a poet, you must compose a
basketball song to-day, and I'll see that the juniors all have copies.
It's time we had one. Let me see what would be a good tune?"

"'Rally Round the Flag,'" suggested Miriam Nesbit. "That has a dandy
swing to it."

Grace hummed a few bars.

"The very thing," she exclaimed. "Now, Anne, get busy at once. You'd
better sing the tune to yourself all the time you're writing it, then
you'll be sure to put more dash and spirit into it."

"I wish the day of the game were here," said Jessica plaintively.
"I have been practising a most encouraging howl. Hippy, David and
Reddy have a new one, too. Reddy says it's 'marvelously extraordinary
and appallingly great.'"

"I can imagine it to be all that and more if Hippy had anything to do
with its origin," said Nora.

"Wasn't it nice of Miss Thompson to exonerate us publicly?" asked Anne.

"She is always just," replied Grace. "I can't understand how Eleanor
could be so rude and disagreeable to her. She has disliked Miss Thompson
from the first."

"I wonder whether she apologized to Miss Thompson last night," mused
Grace.

"I feel sure that she didn't, and I am just as sure that she won't get
back until she does."

"We shall manage to exist if she doesn't," said Jessica dryly. She felt
a personal grudge against Eleanor for her accusation against Mabel, who
had grown very dear to her and whom she mothered like a hen with one
chicken.

"She'll probably appear at the game in all her glory," said Miriam
Nesbit. "She can go to that, even though she is on bad terms with the
school."

The recess bell cut short the conversation and the girls returned to
their desks with far better ideas of the coming game than of the
afternoon's lessons.

Saturday, December 12, dawned cold and clear, and the girls on both
teams were in high spirits as they hustled into their respective
locker-rooms and rapidly donned their gymnasium suits. The spectators
had not yet begun to arrive, as it was still early, so the girls
indulged in a little warming-up practice, did a few stunts and skipped
about, overflowing with animal spirits.

Julia Crosby and Grace took turns sprinting around the gymnasium three
times in succession, while Miriam Nesbit timed them, Grace finishing
just two seconds ahead of Julia.

By a quarter of two the gallery was fairly well filled and by five
minutes of two it was crowded. The juniors, with the exception of
Eleanor Savell's faction, arrived in a body, gave the High School yell
the moment they spied their team, and then burst forth with the
basketball song, led by Ruth Deane, a tall junior, who stood up and beat
time with both hands. Anne had composed the song the week before. The
juniors had all received copies of the words and had learned them by
heart. They now sang with the utmost glee, and came out particularly
strong on the chorus, which ran:

          "The juniors forever, hurrah, fans, hurrah!
           Our team is a winner, our captain's a star.
           And we'll drive the senior foe, from the basket every time.
           Shouting the war cry of the juniors."

There was a great clapping of hands from the admirers of the juniors at
this effort, but the seniors promptly responded from the other end of
the gallery to the tune of Dixie, with:

          "The seniors are the real thing.
           Hurrah! Hurrah!
           Our gallant team now takes its stand,
           And all the baskets soon will land.
           We shout, we sing, the praises of the seniors."

Hardly had the last notes died away, when the referee blew the whistle
and the teams hustled to their positions. Grace and Julia Crosby faced
each other, beamed amiably and shook hands, then stood vigilant, eyes on
the ball that the referee balanced in her hands. Up it went, the whistle
sounded and the two captains sprang straight for it. Grace captured it,
however, and sent it flying toward Miriam, who was so carefully guarded
that she dared not attempt to make the basket, and after a feint managed
to throw it to Nora, who tried for the basket at long range and missed.

There was a general scramble for the ball, and for five minutes neither
team scored; then Marian Barber dropped a neat field goal, and soon
after Grace scored on a foul. The junior fans howled joyfully at the
good work of their team. The seniors did not intend to allow them to
score again in a hurry. They played such a close guarding game that, try
as they might, the juniors made no headway. Then Julia Crosby scored on
a field goal, making the score 3 to 2. This spurred the junior team on
to greater effort, and Miriam made a brilliant throw to basket that
brought forth an ovation from the gallery. This ended the first half,
with the score 5 to 2 in favor of the juniors.

"They'll have to work to catch up with us now," said Nora O'Malley
triumphantly to the members of the team, who sat resting in the little
side room off the gymnasium.

"We have the lead, but we can't afford to boast yet," replied Grace.
"The seniors played a fine game last half, and they'll strain every
nerve to pile up their score next half."

"We shall win," said Miriam Nesbit confidently. "I feel it in my bones."

"Let's hope that your bones are true prophets," laughed Marian Barber.

"O girls!" exclaimed Eva Allen from the open door, in which she had been
standing looking up at the gallery. "Eleanor is here. She and her
satellites are sitting away up on the back seat of the gallery."

"Where?" asked Nora, going to the door. "Oh, yes, I see her. She looks
as haughty as ever. It's a wonder she'd condescend to come and watch her
mortal enemies play."

"I suppose she hopes we'll lose," said Marian Barber. "That would fill
her with joy."

"Then we'll see that she goes away in a gloomy frame of mind," said
Nora, "for we're going to win, and don't you forget to remember it."

Just then the whistle blew, and there was a scramble for places. This
time Julia Crosby won the toss-up, and followed it up with a field goal.
Then the seniors scored twice on fouls, tying the score. The juniors
set their teeth and waded in with all their might and main, setting a
whirlwind pace that caused their fans to shout with wild enthusiasm and
fairly dazed their opponents. Grace alone netted four foul goals, and
the sensational playing of Nora and Miriam was a matter of wonder to the
spectators, who conceded it to be the fastest, most brilliant half ever
played by an Oakdale team. The game ended with the score 15 to 6 in
favor of the juniors, whose loyal supporters swooped down upon them the
moment the whistle blew and pranced about, whooping like savages.

"That was the greatest game I ever saw played under this roof," cried
David, wringing Grace's hand, while Hippy hopped about, uttering little
yelps of joy. Reddy circled about the victors almost too delighted for
words. He was filled with profound admiration for them.

"The boys' crack team couldn't have played a better game," he said
solemnly, and the girls knew that he could pay them no higher
compliment, for this team was considered invincible by the High School
boys.

"Perhaps we'll challenge you some day, Reddy," said Grace mischievously.

"I believe you'd win at that," he said so earnestly that every one
laughed.

"It was a great triumph," said Jessica proudly, as she stood with Mabel
and Anne in the locker-room while the girls resumed street clothing.
"And my new howl was a success, too."

"Glad to know that," said Grace. "There were so many different kinds of
noises I couldn't distinguish it."

"There was one noise that started that was promptly hushed," said Anne.
"You heard it, too, didn't you Jessica?"

"Oh, yes, girls, I intended telling you before this," replied Jessica.
"Just before the last half started, Miss Thompson and Miss Kane came in
and walked to the other end of the gallery. Well, Eleanor and her crowd
saw them, and what do you suppose they did?"

"Hard to tell," said Nora.

"They hissed Miss Thompson. Very softly, you may be sure," continued
Jessica, "but it was hissing, just the same. For a wonder, she didn't
hear it, but every girl in the junior class did. They were sitting down
front on the same side as Eleanor's crowd. You know what a temper Ruth
Deane has and how ferocious she can look? Well, the minute she heard it
she went back there like a flash, looking for all the world like a
thunder cloud. She talked for a moment to Edna and Eleanor. They tossed
their heads, but they didn't hiss any more."

"What did Ruth say to them?" asked Grace curiously. "It must have been
something remarkable, or they wouldn't have subsided so suddenly."

"It was," giggled Jessica. "She told them that if they didn't stop it
instantly, the juniors would pick them up bodily, carry them downstairs
to the classroom and lock them in until the game was over."

"How absurd!" exclaimed Grace. "They would never have dared to go that
far."

"I don't know about that," said Nora O'Malley. "Ruth Deane is a terror
when she gets fairly started. Besides, she would have had both High
Schools on her side. Even the boys like Miss Thompson."

"It was an effectual threat at any rate," said Jessica. "They left
before the game was over. Perhaps they were afraid of being waylaid."

"I suppose they couldn't bear to see us win," said Grace. "But,
O girls, I am so proud of our invincible team. It was a great game
and a well-earned victory."

"We ought to celebrate," said Miriam. "Come on. Here we are at
Stillman's."

Without waiting for a second invitation, the Phi Sigma Tau trooped
joyfully into the drug store.



CHAPTER XVII

THE LAST STRAW


The days glided by rapidly. The Christmas holidays came, bringing with
them the usual round of gayeties. Thanks to the Phi Sigma Tau, the
lonely element of High School girls did not lack for good cheer. As at
Thanksgiving, each member of the sorority entertained two or more girls
on Christmas and New Year's, and were amply repaid for their good deed
by the warm appreciation of their guests.

Tom Gray came down for the holidays, bringing with him his roommate,
Arnold Evans, a fair-haired, blue-eyed young man of twenty, who proved
himself thoroughly likable in every respect. He lost no time in
cultivating Miriam's acquaintance, and the two soon became firm friends.

Tom gave a dinner to his roommate, inviting "the seven originals," as he
expressed it, and Miriam, who felt that at last she really belonged in
the charmed circle. David was even more pleased than his sister over the
turn affairs had taken. To have Miriam a member of his own particular
"crowd" had always been David's dearest wish, and the advent of Arnold
Evans had done away with Miriam being the odd one. So the circle was
enlarged to ten young people, who managed to crowd the two weeks'
vacation with all sorts of healthful pleasures.

There were coasting and sleighing parties, and on one occasion a walk to
old Jean's hut in Upton Wood, where they were hospitably entertained by
the old hunter, who had smilingly pointed to the wolf skins on the wall,
asking them if they remembered the winter day two years before when
those same skins held wolves who were far too lively for comfort. Then
the story of their escape had to be gone over again for Arnold's
benefit.

They had stayed until the moon came up, and, accompanied by the old
hunter, had walked back to Oakdale in the moonlight.

After the holidays came the brief period of hard study before the
dreaded mid-year examinations. Basketball enthusiasm declined rapidly
and a remarkable devotion to study ensued that lasted until examinations
began. By the last week in January, the ordeal was past.

Eleanor Savell had not yet returned to school. Whether or not she would
be allowed to return was a question that occasioned a great deal of
discussion among three lower classes of girls. Edna Wright and the other
members of the sorority organized by Eleanor were loud in their
expressions of disapproval as to Miss Thompson's "severity" toward
Eleanor. They talked so freely about it, that it reached the principal's
ears. She lost no time in sending for them, and after a session in the
office, they emerged looking subdued and crestfallen; and after that it
was noted that when in conversation with their schoolmates, they made no
further allusion to Miss Thompson's methods of discipline.

There was a faint murmur of surprise around the study hall one
morning, however, when Miss Thompson walked in to conduct the opening
exercises, accompanied by Eleanor, who, without looking at the school,
seated herself at the desk nearest to where the principal stood.

When the morning exercises were concluded, Miss Thompson nodded slightly
to Eleanor, who turned rather pale, then rose, and, facing the school,
said in a clear voice:

"I wish to apologize to Miss Thompson for impertinence and
insubordination. I also wish to publicly apologize to the members of the
Phi Sigma Tau for having accused them of treachery concerning a certain
matter that recently came up in this school."

"Your apology is accepted, Miss Savell. You may take your own seat,"
said the principal.

Without looking to the right or left, Eleanor walked proudly up the
aisle to her seat, followed by the gaze of those girls who could not
refrain from watching her. The Phi Sigma Tau, to a member, sat with eyes
straight to the front. They had no desire to increase Eleanor's
discomfiture, for they realized what this public apology must have cost
her, although they were all equally puzzled as to what had prompted her
to humble herself.

Eleanor's apology was not due, however, to a change of heart. She still
despised Miss Thompson as thoroughly as on the day that she had
manifested her open scorn and dislike for the principal.

As for Grace and her friends, Eleanor was particularly bitter against
them, and laid at their door a charge of which they were entirely
innocent.

Eleanor had told her aunt nothing of her recent trouble in school, but
had feigned illness as an excuse for remaining at home. After attending
the basketball game her aunt had told her rather sharply that if she
were able to attend basketball games, she was certainly able to continue
her studies. Eleanor had agreed to return to school the following
Monday, and had started from home at the usual time with no intention
whatever of honoring the High School with her presence. She passed the
morning in the various stores, lunched in town and went to a matinée in
the afternoon. In this manner she idled the days away until the holiday
vacation came, congratulating herself upon her success in pulling wool
over the eyes of her long-suffering aunt.

But a day of reckoning was at hand, for just before the close of
vacation Miss Thompson chanced to call at Mrs. Gray's home while Mrs.
Gray was entertaining Miss Nevin, and the truth came out.

When Miss Nevin confronted her niece with the deception Eleanor had
practised upon her, a stormy scene had followed, and Eleanor had accused
Grace Harlowe of telling tales to Mrs. Gray, and Mrs. Gray of carrying
them to her aunt. This had angered Miss Nevin to the extent that she had
immediately ordered Eleanor to her room without telling her from whom
she had received her information.

For three days Eleanor had remained in her room, refusing to speak to
her aunt, who, at the end of that time, decreed that if she did not at
once apologize roundly and return to school her violin and piano would
both be taken from her until she should again become reasonable.

In the face of this new punishment, which was the severest penalty that
could be imposed upon her, Eleanor remained obdurate. Her violin and
piano were removed from her room and the piano in the drawing room was
closed. Still she stubbornly held out, and it was not until the day
before the beginning of the new term that she went to her aunt and
coldly agreed to comply with her wishes, providing she might have her
violin and piano once more.

Aside from this conversation they had exchanged no words, and Eleanor
therefore entered school that morning still believing the Phi Sigma Tau
to be at the bottom of her misfortune.

In spite of her recent assertion that she could not forgive Eleanor,
Grace's resentment vanished at sight of her enemy's humiliation. A
public apology was the last thing that either she or her friends
desired. Her promise to Mrs. Gray loomed up before her. If Eleanor
really did believe the Phi Sigma Tau innocent, then perhaps this would
be the opportunity for reconciliation. After a little thought, she tore
a sheet of paper from her notebook and wrote:

          "DEAR ELEANOR:

          "The members of the Phi Sigma Tau are very sorry
          about your having to make an apology. We did not
          wish it. We think you showed a great deal of the
          right kind of courage in making the public apology
          you did both to Miss Thompson and to us. Won't
          you come back to the Phi Sigma Tau?

                                    "YOUR SINCERE FRIENDS."

At recess Grace showed the note to her friends. She had signed her name
to the note and requested the others to do the same. Here she met with
some opposition. Nora, Marian Barber and Eva Allen were strongly opposed
to sending it. But Jessica, Anne and Miriam agreed with Grace that it
would be in fulfillment of the original promise to Mrs. Gray to help
Eleanor whenever they could do so. So the Phi Sigma Tau signed their
names and the note was passed to Eleanor directly after recess.

She opened it, read it through, and an expression of such intense scorn
passed over her face that Nora, who sat near her and who was covertly
watching her, knew at once that Grace's flag of truce had been trampled
in the dust.

Picking up her pen, Eleanor wrote rapidly for a brief space, underlined
what she had written, signed her name with a flourish, and, folding and
addressing her note, sent it to Grace.

Rather surprised at receiving an answer so quickly, Grace unfolded the
note. Then she colored, looked grave and, putting the note in the back
of the text-book she was holding, went on studying.

By the time school was over for the day, the girls of the Phi Sigma Tau
knew that Eleanor had once more repudiated their overtures of friendship
and were curious to see what she had written.

"Don't keep us in suspense. Let us see what she wrote," exclaimed Nora
O'Malley as the seven girls crossed the campus together.

"Here it is," said Grace, handing Nora the note.

Nora eagerly unfolded the paper and the girls crowded around, reading
over her shoulder, Grace walking a little apart from them. Then Nora
read aloud:

          "TO THE PHI SIGMA TAU:

          "Your kind appreciation of my conduct in the
          matter of apology is really remarkable, coupled
          with the fact that your inability to refrain from
          discussing my personal affairs with Mrs. Gray
          forced this recent humiliation upon me. To ask me
          to return to your society is only adding insult to
          injury. I am not particularly surprised at this,
          however. It merely proves you to be greater
          hypocrites than you at first seemed.

                                           "ELEANOR SAVELL."

"Well, of all things!" exclaimed Marian Barber. "Grace Harlowe, if you
ever attempt to conciliate her again, I'll disown you."

"What does she mean by saying that we discussed her affairs with Mrs.
Gray?" cried Jessica impatiently. "We have always tried to put her best
side out to dear Mrs. Gray, and you all know it."

"The best thing to do," said Anne, smiling a little, "is to tell Mrs.
Gray all about it. We might as well live up to the reputation Eleanor
has thrust upon us. It isn't pleasant to admit that we have failed with
Eleanor, but it isn't our fault, at any rate. I am going there this
afternoon. I'll tell her."

"May I go with you, Anne?" asked Grace.

"You know I'd love to have you," Anne replied.

"As long as I was the first to agree to look out for Eleanor, I have
decided I had better be with you at the finish," said Grace, as the two
girls walked slowly up the drive.

"The finish?" asked Anne. "Why do you say that, Grace?"

"You've heard about the last straw that broke the camel's back, haven't
you?" asked Grace. "Well, Eleanor's note is the last straw. I know I
said that once before, and I broke my word. I don't intend to break it
again, however. I am going to ask Mrs. Gray to release me from my
promise."



CHAPTER XVIII

THE PLAY'S THE THING


Excitement ran high in the three lower classes one morning in early
February when Miss Thompson requested that those interested in the
production of a Shakespearian play go to the library directly after
school, there to discuss the situation.

When the gong sounded dismissal, about sixty girls with dramatic
aspirations made for the library. The Phi Sigma Tau entered in a body.
They had decided at recess to carry away as many laurels as possible,
providing they could get into the cast.

Miss Tebbs, teacher of elocution; Miss Kane, teacher of gymnastics, and
Miss Thompson stood at one side of the library talking earnestly as they
noted each newcomer.

"Oh, look!" whispered Jessica, clutching Nora's arm. "There's Eleanor
and her crowd."

"Then look out for squalls," replied Nora. "She'll try to be the whole
cast, and will get a magnificent case of sulks if she can't have her own
way."

"Sh-h-h," warned Eva Allen. "She'll hear you. Besides, Miss Thompson is
going to speak."

The principal held up her hand for silence and the groups of girls
engaged in subdued conversation ceased talking and turned their
attention toward her.

"You are all aware that each year the senior class gives a play, which
they choose, manage and produce with no assistance save that given by
Miss Tebbs," said the principal. "So far the three lower classes have
never given a play. Some time ago Miss Tebbs suggested that as we need
money for special books in the library which our yearly appropriation
does not cover, we might present a Shakespearian play with good effect,
choosing the cast from the freshman, sophomore and junior classes.

"The first thing to be thought of is the play itself. After due
consideration, we decided that 'As You Like It' is better suited to our
needs than any of the other Shakespearian dramas. In it are twenty-one
speaking characters, besides numerous lords, pages and attendants. We
shall probably use about fifty girls, thus making it an elaborate
production. By the attendance this afternoon I should imagine that you
are heartily in favor of our project and that we shall have no trouble
in making up the cast. As Miss Tebbs has charge of the situation, I
yield the floor to her. She will explain to you about the giving out of
the parts."

There was an enthusiastic clapping of hands as Miss Thompson smiled and
nodded to the girls, then left the room. Miss Tebbs then stated that on
Friday afternoon after school there would be a "try out" for parts in
the gymnasium, in order to find out what girls were most capable of
doing good work in the cast. Just what the test would be had not been
decided. It would be well, however, to study the chosen play and become
familiar with it; also each girl must bring a copy of the play with her.
If the girls wished to ask any questions, she would answer them as far
as possible. Miss Kane would help with the posing and coaching when the
thing was fairly started.

The girls crowded around Miss Tebbs and Miss Kane, asking all sorts of
questions.

"One at a time, girls," laughed Miss Tebbs. "I have not asked you to
enact a mob scene."

Under cover of the confusion, Grace and her three friends slipped out of
the library.

"'The play's the thing,'" quoted Nora, "and me for it."

"That is for the judges to decide," said Jessica sagely. "Perhaps they
won't even look at you."

"Do you think any one could see my Irish countenance and fail to be
impressed?" demanded Nora.

"Really and truly, Nora, the more you travel with Hippy, the more you
talk like him," remarked Grace.

"I consider that a compliment," replied Nora, laughing. "Hippy says
awfully funny things."

"Look at our little Anne," said Jessica. "She is actually dreaming. Tell
us about it, dear."

"I was thinking of the play," said Anne dreamily. "I do so want a part,
if only a little one."

"You'll be chosen for Rosalind, see if you aren't," predicted Grace.

"Oh, no," said Anne. "Some one else will be sure to get that. Besides,
I'm too short."

"But, Anne, you've had stage experience," said Jessica. "You ought to
get it."

"Not in a Shakespearian play," replied Anne, shaking her head. "I might
not do well at all with that kind of part."

"Never fear, you'll be the star before you know it," said Nora.

By Friday, there was nothing on the school horizon save the cherished
play. Before school, at recess, and even in classes it was the topic of
the hour. To the eager girls the day seemed particularly long, and a
heartfelt sigh went up when the dismissal gong rang.

As the four chums hurried toward the gymnasium, Anne suddenly caught
Grace by the arm with a faint gasp of surprise. Glancing quickly down at
her friend to ascertain the cause of Anne's sudden agitation, Grace saw
her friend's eyes following the figure of a tall, distinguished-looking
man who was just disappearing down the corridor leading to the
gymnasium.

"What's the matter, Anne?" asked Grace. "Do you know that man?"

"No," replied Anne, "but I know who he is."

"He must be a remarkable person, considering the way you gasped and
clutched me," laughed Grace.

"That man is Everett Southard, the great Shakespearian actor," said Anne
almost reverently. "I saw him in 'Hamlet' and his acting is wonderful."

"No wonder you were surprised," said Grace.

"It fairly takes my breath. I've seen ever so many pictures of him and
read magazine articles about him. What do you suppose he is doing in
Oakdale, and at the High School--of all places?"

"Time will tell," said Nora. Then she suddenly clasped her hands. "O
girls, I know! He's here for the try-out!"

"Why of course he is," exclaimed Grace. "Now I remember Miss Tebbs
showed me a magazine picture of him one day last year, and told me that
she had known him since childhood. Besides, he is playing a three-night
engagement in Albany. I read it in the paper last night. It's as plain
as can be. Miss Tebbs has asked him to run up here and pick out the
cast."

"Good gracious," said Jessica. "I shall retire in confusion if he looks
at me. I won't dare aspire to a part now, and I had designs on the part
of Phebe."

"Don't be a goose," said Nora. "He's only a man. He can't hurt you.
I think having him here will be a lark. Won't some of those girls put
on airs, though. There he is talking with Miss Tebbs now."

The girls entered the gymnasium to find there nearly all of those who
had attended the first meeting in the library increased by about a score
of girls who had decided at the last minute to try for parts. Eleanor
stood at one end of the great room, with Edna Wright and Daisy Culver.
Grace thought she had never seen Eleanor looking more beautiful. She was
wearing a fur coat and hat far too costly for a school girl, and carried
a huge muff. Her coat was thrown open, disclosing a perfectly tailored
gown of brown, with trimmings of dull gold braid. She was talking
animatedly and her two friends were apparently hanging on every word she
uttered.

"No wonder Eleanor has an opinion of herself," said Nora. "Look at Daisy
and Edna. They act as though Eleanor were the Sultan of Turkey or the
Shah of Persia, or some other high and mighty dignitary. They almost
grovel before her."

"Never mind, Nora," said Grace. "As long as you retain your Irish
independence what do you care about what other girls do?"

"I don't care. Only they do act so silly," said Nora, with a sniff of
contempt.

"Sh-h-h!" said Jessica softly. "Miss Tebbs is going to call the meeting
to order."

A hush fell over the assembled girls as Miss Tebbs stepped forward to
address them.

"I am very glad to see so many girls here," she said. "It shows that you
are all interested in the coming play. Although you cannot all have
parts, I hope that you will feel satisfied with the selection made this
afternoon. In order that each member of the cast may be chosen on her
merit alone, my old friend, Mr. Southard, kindly consented to come from
Albany for the sole purpose of giving us the benefit of his great
Shakespearian experience. Allow me to introduce Mr. Everett Southard."

He was greeted with a round of applause, and after bowing his thanks,
the eminent actor plunged at once into the business at hand.

He spoke favorably of the idea of an all-girl cast, saying that each
year many girls' colleges presented Shakespearian plays with marked
success. The main thing to be considered was the intelligent delivery of
the great dramatist's lines. The thing to do would be to find out what
girls could most ably portray the various characters, it would be
necessary to try each girl separately with a few lines from the play. In
order to facilitate matters, he suggested that those girls who really
desired speaking parts step to one side of the room, while those who
wished merely to make the stage pictures, step to the other.

Out of the eighty girls, about thirty-five only stepped over to the side
from which the principal characters were to be chosen. Many of the girls
had no serious intentions whatever regarding the play, and the awe
inspired by Mr. Southard's presence made them too timid to venture to
open their mouths before him. Jessica, whose courage had fled, would
have been among the latter if Nora had not seized her firmly by the arm
as she prepared to flee and marched her over with the rest of the Phi
Sigma Tau. Eleanor and Edna Wright were among the junior contestants,
while there was a good showing of sophomores and freshmen.

Mr. Southard took in the aspirants with keen, comprehensive glance. His
eyes rested a shade longer on Eleanor. She made a striking picture as
she stood looking with apparent indifference at the girls about her.
Then his quick eye traveled to Grace's fine face and graceful figure,
and then on to Anne, whose small face was alive with the excitement of
the moment.

A breathless silence had fallen over the room. Every eye was fixed on
the actor, who stood with a small leather-covered edition of "As You
Like It" in his hand. Miss Tebbs stood by with a pencil and pad. The
great try-out was about to begin.



CHAPTER XIX

THE TRY OUT


"Will the young lady on the extreme right please come forward?" said Mr.
Southard pleasantly, indicating Marian Barber, who rather timidly
obeyed, taking the book he held out to her. At his request, she began to
read from Orlando's entrance, in the first scene of the fourth act. She
faltered a little on the first two lines, but shortly regained her
courage and read on in her best manner. When she had read about a dozen
lines he motioned for her to cease reading, said something to Miss
Tebbs, who made an entry on her pad, and beckoned to the girl next to
Marian to come forward.

Straight down the line he went, sometimes stopping a girl at her third
or fourth line, rarely allowing them to read farther than the eleventh
or twelfth.

Nora was the second Phi Sigma Tau to undergo the ordeal. As she briskly
delivered the opening lines, the actor stopped her. Taking the book from
her, he turned to the part where Touchstone, quaintly humorous, holds
forth upon "the lie seven times removed."

"Read this," he said briefly, holding out the book to Nora.

Nora began and read glibly on, unconsciously emphasizing as she did so.
Down one page she read and half way through the next before Mr. Southard
seemed satisfied.

Then he again held conversation with Miss Tebbs, who nodded and looked
smilingly toward Nora, who stood scowling faintly, rather ill-pleased at
attracting so much attention.

"It looks as though Nora had made an impression, doesn't it!" whispered
Jessica to Grace, who was about to reply when Mr. Southard motioned to
her. Grace, who knew the scene by heart, went fearlessly forward, and
read the lines with splendid emphasis. Marian and Eva Allen followed
her, and acquitted themselves with credit. Then Eleanor's turn came.
Handing her coat, which she had taken off and carried upon her arm, to
Edna Wright, she walked proudly over, then, without a trace of
self-consciousness, began the reading of the designated lines. Her voice
sounded unusually clear and sweet, yet lacked something of the power of
expression displayed by Grace in her rendering of the same scene. When
she had finished she handed the book back with an air of studied
indifference she was far from feeling. She had decided in her own mind
that Rosalind was the part best suited to her, and felt that the honor
now lay between herself and Grace. No other girls, with the exception of
Nora, had been allowed to read as much of any scene as they two had been
requested to read.

But Eleanor had reckoned without her host, for there was one girl who
had not as yet come to the front. The girl was Anne Pierson, who in some
mysterious manner had been all but overlooked, until Miss Tebbs spied
her standing between Grace and Nora.

"Can you spare us a moment more, Mr. Southard?" said Miss Tebbs to the
actor, who was preparing to leave. "You have almost missed hearing one
of my best girls. Come here, Anne, and prove the truth of my words."

Grace drew a long breath of relief. She had eagerly awaited Anne's turn
and was about to call Miss Tebbs's attention to Anne, just as that
teacher had observed her.

As most of the girls present had heard Anne recite, there was a great
craning of necks and a faint murmur of expectancy as she took her place.
They expected her to live up to her reputation and she had scarcely
delivered the opening line before they realized that she would not
disappoint them.

Her musical voice vibrated with expression and the mock-serious
bantering tones in which she delivered Rosalind's witty speeches caused
Mr. Southard to smile and nod approvingly as she gave full value to the
immortal lines. Her change of voice from Rosalind to Orlando was wholly
delightful, and so charmingly did she depict both characters that when
she ended with Orlando's exit she received a little ovation from the
listening girls, in which Mr. Southard and Miss Tebbs joined.

"She's won! She's won! I'm so glad," Grace said softly to Nora and
Jessica. "I wanted her to play Rosalind, and I knew she could do it.
Look, girls! Mr. Southard is shaking hands with her."

True enough, Anne was shyly shaking hands with the great actor, who was
congratulating her warmly upon her recent effort.

"I have never before heard an amateur read those lines as well as you
have to-day, Miss Pierson," he said. "I am sure Rosalind will be safe
with you, for few professional women could have done better. If I am
anywhere near here when your play is enacted, I shall make it a point to
come and see it."

Shaking hands warmly with Miss Tebbs and bowing to the admiring girls,
Mr. Southard hurriedly departed, leaving his audience devoured with
curiosity as to the chosen ones.

Anne stood perfectly still, looking rather dazed. The unexpected had
happened. She was to have not only a part, but the best part, at that.
The girls gathered eagerly about her, congratulating her on her success,
but she was too overcome to thank them, and smiled at them through a
mist of tears.

"Look at Eleanor," whispered Nora to Grace. "She's so angry she can't
see straight. She must have wanted to play Rosalind herself. I told you
she'd sulk if she couldn't be the leading lady."

Grace glanced over toward Eleanor, who stood biting her lip, her hands
clenched and her face set in angry lines.

"She looks like the 'Vendetta' or the 'Camorra' or some other Italian
vengeance agency, doesn't she?" said Nora with a giggle.

Grace laughed in spite of herself at Nora's remark, but regretted it the
next moment, for Eleanor saw the glances directed toward her and heard
Nora's giggle. She turned white and half started toward Grace, then
stopped, and, turning her back upon the Phi Sigma Tau, began talking to
Edna Wright.

Just then Miss Tebbs, who had been busy with her list, announced that
she would now name the cast, and all conversation ceased as by magic.

Miriam Nesbit was intrusted with the "Duke," while Marian Barber was to
play "Frederick," his brother. Jessica was in raptures over "Phebe,"
while Nora had captured "Touchstone," Eva Allen, "Audrey," and, to her
great delight, Grace was told that she was to play "Orlando," with
Eleanor as "Celia." The other parts were assigned among the sophomores
and freshmen who had made the best showing, Mabel Allison getting the
part of Jaques.

"You will report for rehearsal next Tuesday afternoon after school, when
typewritten copies of your parts will be handed you," said Miss Tebbs,
as she was about to leave the room.

The moment Miss Tebbs ceased talking the girls began, as they gathered
in little groups around the lucky ones and gave vent to their feelings
with many exclamations of approval and congratulation. Several girls
approached Eleanor, but she fairly ran from them and hurried out of the
gymnasium after Miss Tebbs with Edna Wright and Daisy Culver at her
heels.

"There goes Eleanor after Miss Tebbs," observed Marian Barber. "What do
you suppose she's up to now?"

"Oh, never mind her," said Nora impatiently. "You'll see enough of her
during rehearsal. It will be so pleasant to rehearse with her,
considering that she isn't on speaking terms with any of us."

Had the girl chums known then what Eleanor "was up to," it would have
been a matter of surprise and indignation to all of them. After
imperiously commanding her satellites to wait for her in the corridor,
Eleanor overtook Miss Tebbs just outside Miss Thompson's office.

"I want to speak to you, Miss Tebbs," said Eleanor as the teacher
paused, her hand on the doorknob.

"Well, what can I do for you, Miss Savell?"

"I want to speak to you about the play. I wish to play Rosalind," said
Eleanor with calm assurance.

"But, my dear child, Anne Pierson is to play Rosalind," replied Miss
Tebbs. "Mr. Southard particularly commended her work. Did you not hear
what he said?"

"Oh, yes; I heard him complimenting her," replied Eleanor complacently,
"but I feel sure that I can do more with it than she can. I did not do
my best work to-day. Besides, Miss Pierson is too short. I am certain of
making a better appearance."

"What you say about appearance is quite true, Miss Savell," replied Miss
Tebbs frankly. "Beyond a doubt you would make a beautiful Rosalind; but
I am convinced that no other girl can enact the part with the spirit and
dash that Miss Pierson can. Your part of Celia is very well suited to
you, and you can win plenty of applause playing it. You must understand,
however, that once having given out a part, I should not attempt to take
it from the girl I had given it to simply because some other girl
desired it. That would be both unfair and unjust. The only thing I could
promise you would be to allow you to understudy Rosalind in case
anything happened to Miss Pierson. Would you care to understudy the
part?"

Eleanor was silent for a moment. Miss Tebbs, looking a trifle impatient,
stood awaiting her reply.

"I should like to do that," Eleanor said slowly, a curious light in her
eyes. "Thank you very much, Miss Tebbs."

"You are welcome," replied the teacher. "Be sure and be prompt at
rehearsal next Tuesday."

As Miss Tebbs entered the office, Eleanor turned and walked slowly down
the corridor.

"So Miss Tebbs thinks I ought to be satisfied with 'Celia,'" she
muttered. "Very well, I'll rehearse Celia, but I'll understudy Rosalind,
and it will be very strange if something doesn't happen to Miss
Pierson."



CHAPTER XX

THE ANONYMOUS LETTER


After the parts had been given out, rehearsals for the play went merrily
on. There were many hitches at first, but finally things settled down to
smooth running order, and as the time for its presentation approached
Miss Tebbs had good reason to feel jubilant. Each girl seemed bent on
distinguishing herself, and that teacher was heard laughingly to declare
that she had an "all star cast."

In spite of rehearsals, Grace Harlowe's team found time for a few
basketball games, and whipped the senior team twice in succession, much
to the disgust of Captain Julia Crosby, who threatened to go into deep
mourning over what she called "her dead and gone team." She even
composed a mournful ditty, which she sang in their ears in a wailing
minor key whenever she passed any of them, and practically tormented
them, until they actually did win one hard-fought victory over the
juniors, "just to keep Julia from perpetrating her eternal chant," as
one of them remarked.

Eleanor had outwardly settled down to the routine of school work in a
way that surprised even her aunt. But inwardly she was seething with
rebellion toward Miss Thompson and hatred of the Phi Sigma Tau. She had
fully determined that Anne Pierson should never play Rosalind, and had
hit upon a plan by which she hoped to accomplish her ends. The Phi Sigma
Tau were completely carried away with Anne's impersonation of
Shakespeare's heroine, and any blow struck at Anne would be equally felt
by the others. Anne had been absent from one rehearsal and thus Eleanor
had had an opportunity to show her ability. She had done very well and
Miss Tebbs had praised her work, though in her secret heart Eleanor knew
that Anne's work was finer than her own. But the means of gratifying her
own personal vanity blinded her to everything except the fact that she
wanted to play Rosalind regardless of Anne's superior ability.

To settle Miss Thompson was not so easy a matter, and though Eleanor
racked her brain for some telling method of vengeance, no inspiration
came until one afternoon in early March. Professor La Roche, irritated
to the point of frenzy, ordered her from his class, with instructions to
report herself to Miss Thompson. As she entered the open door of the
principal's office she noticed that the room was empty of occupants. She
stopped, hesitated, then went softly in, a half-formed idea in her mind
that did not at first assume definite shape.

"If Miss Thompson comes in, I suppose I shall have to report myself,"
thought Eleanor. "While I'm here, I'll just look about and see if
I can't find some way to even up that public apology she made me make."

Gliding over to the open desk, she ran her eye hastily over the various
papers spread out upon it. At first she found nothing of importance, but
suddenly she began to laugh softly, her face lighted with malicious
glee.

"Here's the wonderful paper that Miss Tabby Cat Thompson is going to read
before the 'Arts and Crafts Club' to-morrow," she murmured. "I heard her
telling Miss Chester about it yesterday. She said it took her six weeks
to prepare it on account of the time she spent in looking up her facts.
It will take me less than six minutes to dispose of it."

Seizing the essay with both hands, she tore it across, and then tore it
again and again, until it was literally reduced to shreds. These she
gathered into a heap and left in the middle of the desk. Glancing about
to see that no one was near, she was about to step into the corridor
when she heard the sound of approaching footsteps. Quick as a flash she
flung open the door of the little lavatory just outside the office and
concealed herself just as a girl turned from the main corridor into the
short passage leading to the principal's office. Eleanor, holding the
door slightly ajar, peered stealthily out at the new-comer, who was none
other than Grace Harlowe.

Having no recitation that hour, Grace had run up to the office to obtain
Miss Thompson's permission to use the gymnasium that afternoon for
basketball practice. A hasty glance inside the office revealed to Grace
that the principal was not there. She hesitated a moment, walked toward
the desk, then turned and went out again.

The moment she turned the corner, Eleanor darted out of the lavatory and
fled down the corridor, just as the bell rang for the end of the period.
In a moment the main corridor was filled with girls from the various
classrooms, and, joining them, Eleanor entered the study hall without
reporting her dismissal from French class.

She was somewhat nervous and trembled a little at the thought of her
near discovery, but felt not the slightest qualm of conscience at her
ruthless destruction of another's property. On the contrary, she
experienced a wicked satisfaction, and smiled to herself as she pictured
Miss Thompson's consternation when the latter should discover her loss.
Best of all, the principal would never find out who did it, for Eleanor
vowed never to admit her guilt.

She decided to go at once to Professor La Roche and apologize, so that
he would not report her to Miss Thompson. Without a doubt an effort
would be made to find the culprit, and if it were proven that she did
not return to the study hall as soon as dismissed from French, she might
be asked to account for it, and thus call down suspicion upon herself.

On her way to rhetoric recitation, she stopped at Professor La Roche's
door, greatly astonishing him by a prettily worded apology, which he
readily accepted and beamed upon her with forgiving good-nature. Feeling
that she had bridged that difficulty, Eleanor entered the classroom to
find Miss Thompson talking in low, guarded tones to Miss Chester, who
looked both, shocked and surprised. She caught the words "entirely
destroyed," "serious offence" and "investigate at once," Then the
principal left the room and Miss Chester turned to the class and began
the recitation.

To Eleanor's surprise, nothing was said of the matter that day. School
was dismissed as usual, and the girls went out without dreaming that on
the morrow they would all be placed under suspicion until the person
guilty of the outrage was found.

The following morning, after opening exercises, Miss Thompson stated
briefly the destruction of her paper.

"I was out of my office barely ten minutes," she said, "yet when I
returned some one had ruthlessly torn the essay to bits and left the
pieces piled in the middle of my desk. As I had spent considerable time
and research in getting the subject matter together, the destruction of
the paper is particularly annoying. Whoever was contemptible enough to
engage in such mischief must have known this. It looks like a deliberate
attempt to insult me. It is hard to believe one of my girls guilty, yet
it is not probable that any one outside could be responsible. A girl who
would wilfully do such a thing is a menace to the school and should be
removed from it. I am not going to any extreme measures to find the
miscreant. Were I to question each girl in turn I fear the offender
might perjure herself rather than admit her guilt. But I am confident
that sooner or later I shall know the truth of the matter."

As Miss Thompson concluded, she looked over the roomful of girls who sat
watching her with serious faces. Which one of them was guilty? Time
alone would tell.

At recess that morning the subject of the play was for once forgotten in
the excitement occasioned by the principal's recent disclosure. Groups
of girls indignantly denied even the thought of such mischief.

"I don't believe Miss Thompson would ever suspect us of any such thing,"
remarked Jessica to her friends.

"Of course not, goose," replied Grace. "She knows us too well for that."

But it was with a peculiar apprehension of something unpleasant that
Grace answered a summons to the principal's office just before school
closed for the day.

"Grace," she said, as the young girl entered the office, "were you in my
office yesterday afternoon between half past one and a quarter of two?"

"Why, yes, Miss Thompson. I came to ask permission to use the gymnasium,
but you were out, so I came back and asked you just before school
closed."

"Yes, I remember that you did," replied the principal. "However, I want
you to read this."

Grace took the paper, looking rather perplexed, and read:

          "Ask Miss Harlowe what she was doing in your
          office between half past one and a quarter of two
          yesterday."

                                              "A PASSERBY."

"Why--why----" stammered Grace, her eyes growing large with wonder.
"I don't understand. I came here at that time, for I looked at the
clock as I came in, but I was only here for a second."

Then the truth dawned upon her. "Why, Miss Thompson," she cried, "you
surely don't think I tore up your essay?"

"No, Grace, I don't," replied the principal. "But I believe that the one
who wrote this note is the one who did do it, and evidently wishes to
fasten the guilt upon you. It looks to me as though we had a common
enemy. Do you recognize either the paper or the writing?"

"No," replied Grace slowly, shaking her head. "Vertical writing all
looks alike. The paper is peculiar. It is note paper, but different from
any I ever saw before. It looks like----"

She stopped suddenly, a shocked look creeping into her eyes.

"What is it, Grace?" said Miss Thompson, who had been closely watching
her.

"I--just--had a queer idea," faltered Grace.

"If you suspect any one, Grace, it is your duty to tell me," said the
principal. "I cannot pass lightly over such a piece of wanton
destruction. To clear up this mystery, should be a matter of vital
interest to you, too, as this letter is really an insinuation against
you."

Grace was silent.

"I am waiting for you, Grace," said the principal. "Will you do as
I wish?"

The tears rushed to Grace's eyes. "Forgive me, Miss Thompson," she said
tremulously, "but I can tell you nothing."

"You are doing wrong, Grace, in withholding your knowledge," said the
older woman rather sternly, "and I am greatly displeased at your
stubbornness. Ordinarily I would not ask you to betray any of your
schoolmates, but in this instance I am justified, and you are making a
serious mistake in sacrificing your duty upon the altar of school-girl
honor."

"I am sorry, Miss Thompson," said Grace, striving to steady her voice.
"I value your good opinion above everything, but I can tell you nothing
you wish to know. Please, please don't ask me."

"Very well," responded the principal in a tone of cold dismissal,
turning to her desk.

With a half-stifled sob, Grace hurried from the room. For the first
time, since entering High School, she had incurred the displeasure of
her beloved principal, and all for the sake of a girl who was unworthy
of the sacrifice. For Grace had recognized the paper. It was precisely
the same style of paper on which Eleanor Savell had declined her
Thanksgiving invitation.



CHAPTER XXI

BREAKERS AHEAD


The dress rehearsal for "As You Like It" was over. It had been well nigh
perfect. The costumes had for the most part been on hand, as the senior
class of five years previous had given the same play and bequeathed
their paraphernalia to those who should come after. Rosalind's costumes
had to be altered to fit Anne, however, on account of her lack of
stature. Also the lines in the text where Rosalind refers to her height
underwent some changes. The final details having been attended to, Miss
Tebbs and Miss Kane found time to congratulate each other on the
smoothness of the production, which bade fair to surpass anything of the
kind ever before given. There was not a weak spot in the cast. Anne's
work had seemed to grow finer with every rehearsal.

She had won the repeated applause of the group of teachers who had been
invited to witness this trial performance. Grace, Nora, Eleanor and
Miriam had ably supported her and there had been tears of proud joy in
Miss Tebbs's eyes as she had watched the clever and spirited acting of
these girls.

"Be sure and put your costumes exactly where they belong," called Miss
Tebbs as the girls filed off the stage into the dressing room after the
final curtain. "Then you will have no trouble to-morrow night. We want
to avoid all eleventh-hour scrambling and exciting costume hunts."

Laughing merrily, the girls began choosing places to hang their costumes
in the big room off the stage where they were to dress. Anne, careful
little soul that she was, piled her paraphernalia neatly in one corner,
and taking a slip of paper from her bag wrote "Rosalind" upon it,
pinning it to her first-act costume.

"The eternal labeler," said Nora, with her ever-ready giggle, as she
watched Anne. "Are you afraid it will run away, little Miss Fussbudget!"

"No; of course not," said Anne, smiling. "I just marked it because----"

"You have the marking habit," finished Jessica. "Come on, girls. Don't
tease Anne. Let her put tags on herself if she wants to. Then a certain
young man who is waiting outside for her will be sure to recognize her.
Has anyone seen that Allison child? It's time she put in an appearance."

"Just listen to Grandmother Bright," teased Anne. "She is hunting her
lost chick, as usual."

With merry laugh and jest the girls prepared for the street. Grace and
her friends were among the first to leave, and hurried to the street,
where the boys awaited them.

"Hurrah for the only original ranters and barnstormers on exhibition in
this country," cried Hippy, waving his hat in the air.

"Cease, Hippopotamus," said Nora. "You are mistaken. We are stars, but
we shall refuse to twinkle in your sky unless you suddenly become more
respectful."

"He doesn't know the definition of the word," said David.

"How cruelly you misjudge me," said Hippy. "I meant no disrespect. It
was a sudden attack of enthusiasm. I get them spasmodically."

"So we have observed," said Nora dryly. "Let's not stand here discussing
you all night. Come on up to my house, and we'll make fudge and have
things to eat."

"I have my car here," said David. "Pile into it and we'll be up there in
a jiffy."

"It's awfully late," demurred Grace. "After ten o'clock."

"Never mind that," said Nora. "Your mother knows you can take care of
yourself. You can 'phone to her from my house."

In another minute the young people had seated themselves in the big car
and were off.

"Did you see Eleanor's runabout standing there?" Nora asked Grace.

"Yes," replied Grace. "I was rather surprised, too. She hasn't used it
much of late."

"How beautiful she looked to-night, didn't she?" interposed Jessica.

"Are you talking of the would-be murderess, who froze us all out
Thanksgiving Day?" asked Hippy. "What is her latest crime?"

Grace felt like saying "Destroying other people's property and getting
innocent folks disliked," but refrained. She had told no one of her
interview with Miss Thompson. Grace knew that the principal was still
displeased with her. She was no longer on the old terms of intimacy with
Miss Thompson. A barrier seemed to have sprung up between them, that
only one thing could remove, but Grace was resolved not to expose
Eleanor--not that she felt that Eleanor did not richly deserve it, but
she knew that it would mean instant expulsion from school. She believed
that Eleanor had acted on the impulse of the moment, and was without
doubt bitterly sorry for it, and she felt that as long as Eleanor had at
last begun to be interested in school, the thing to do was to keep her
there, particularly as Mrs. Gray had recently told her of Miss Nevin's
pleasure at the change that the school had apparently wrought in
Eleanor.

Could Grace have known what Eleanor was engaged in at the moment she
would have felt like exposing her without mercy.

During the first rehearsals Grace, secretly fearing an outbreak on
Eleanor's part, had been on the alert, but as rehearsals progressed and
Eleanor kept strictly to herself, Grace relaxed her vigilance.

Directly after the chums had hurried out of the hall to meet the boys,
Miss Tebbs had decided that opening the dressing room on the other side
of the stage would relieve the congestion and insure a better chance for
all to dress. Calling to the girls who still remained to move their
belongings to that side, Miss Tebbs hurried across the stage to find the
janitor and see that the door was at once unlocked. By the time the door
was opened and the lights turned on the remaining girls flocked in,
their arms piled high with costumes.

Foremost among them was Eleanor. Hastily depositing her own costumes in
one corner of the dressing room, she darted across the stage and into
the room from which she had just moved her effects.

It was empty. She glanced quickly about. Like a flash she gathered up a
pile of costumes marked "Rosalind," covered them with her long fur coat
and ran through the hall and down the steps to where her runabout was
stationed. Crowding them hastily into the bottom of the machine, she
slipped on her coat, made ready her runabout and drove down the street
like the wind, not lessening her speed until she reached the drive at
"Heartsease."

       *       *       *       *       *

The young people passed a merry hour at Nora's, indulging in one of
their old-time frolics, that only lacked Tom Gray's presence to make the
original octette complete.

"We'll be in the front row to-morrow night," said Hippy, as the young
folks trooped out to the car. "I have engaged a beautiful bunch of green
onions from the truck florist, Reddy has put all his money into carrots
of a nice lively color, the exact shade of his hair, while I have
advised Davy here to invest in turnips. They are nice and round and
hard, and will hit the stage with a resounding whack, providing he can
throw straight enough to hit anything. He can carry them in a paper bag
and----"

But before he could say more he was seized by David and Reddy and rushed
unceremoniously into the street, while the girls signified their
approbation by cries of "good enough for him" and "make him promise to
behave to-morrow night."

"I will. I swear it," panted Hippy. "Only don't rush me over the ground
so fast. I might lose my breath and never, never catch it again."

"Oh, let him go," said Nora, who had accompanied them down the walk.
"I'll have a private interview with him to-morrow and that will insure
his good behavior."

"Thank you, angel Nora," replied Hippy gratefully. "You will be spared
any obnoxious vegetables, even though the others may suffer."

"For that you walk," said David, who had dropped Hippy and was engaged
in helping the girls into the machine.

"Never," replied Hippy, making a dive for the automobile. "I shall sit
at the feet of the fair Jessica. Reddy will be so pleased."

"Every one ready?" sang out David, as he took his place at the wheel
after cranking up the machine.

"All ready, let her go," was the chorus, and the machine whizzed down
the street.



CHAPTER XXII

AS YOU LIKE IT


The big dressing rooms on each side of the stage at Assembly Hall were
ablaze with light. There was a hum of girlish voices and gay laughter,
and all the pleasant excitement attending an amateur production
prevailed. The dressing had been going on for the last hour, and now a
goodly company of courtiers and dames stood about waiting while Miss
Tebbs and Miss Kane rapidly "made up their faces" with rouge and powder.
This being done to prevent them from looking too pale when in the white
glare of the footlights.

Miriam Nesbit as the "Duke" looked particularly fine, and the girls
gathered around her with many exclamations of admiration. Nora's roguish
face looked out from her fool's cap in saucy fashion as she flitted
about jingling her bells. Grace made a handsome Orlando, while Jessica
looked an ideal shepherdess.

"Where's Anne?" said Grace as Nora paused in front of her. "I haven't
see her to-night. I suppose she's over in the other dressing room.
Miss Tebbs said that some of the costumes were moved over there after
we left last night. What time is it? I didn't wear my watch to-night
because I didn't want to risk losing it."

"It's almost half past seven," said Jessica. "I asked Miss Tebbs for the
time just a few minutes ago."

"Let's go and find Anne at once, then," said Nora. "It's getting late,
and she surely is dressed by this time. Then we'll look through the hole
in the curtain at the house. People are beginning to arrive."

"Wait a minute," said Jessica. "There's Mabel. Doesn't she look great as
Jaques? Come here, dear," called Jessica.

Mabel Allison joined the three girls, who hurried across the stage to
the other dressing room in search of Anne Pierson.

"Why, I don't see her here," cried Grace, making a quick survey of the
room. "She must be somewhere about, for----"

"There she goes now," exclaimed Nora, who stood in the door, looking out
on the stage, "and she has her hat and coat on. How strange. I wonder if
she knows how late it is?"

Sure enough, Anne was hurrying toward the opposite dressing room.

The three girls made a rush for her.

"Why, Anne," said Grace. "What is the matter? We thought you had dressed
over here and were looking for you."

"Girls," replied Anne, "I've been on a wild-goose chase. I can't stop to
tell you about it now, but you shall hear as soon as I have a chance.
Will you help me with my costume and make-up? I'm awfully late, and
haven't a minute to spare."

"Why of course we will," said Grace. "Give me your hat and coat, dear.
Where did you put your costumes? It won't take you long to dress, for
most of the girls are dressed and over on the other side, so you have
the place to yourself."

"Over in that corner," replied Anne, taking off her collar and
unfastening her white shirt waist. "Don't you remember, I labeled them
and you laughed at me for doing so?"

"Of course we do," said Nora, making a dive for the corner where Anne
had piled her costumes the previous night. "They're not here," she
announced after a brief but thorough search. "Miss Tebbs must have had
them moved to the other room. She opened it last night after we left.
Grace, you help Anne, and Jessica and Mabel and I will run across and
look for them." With these words, Nora was off, the other two girls at
her heels.

"Tell me what kept you, Anne," said Grace, as the latter began arranging
her hair for the first act.

"Grace," said Anne rather tremulously, "I won't wait until the others
come back to tell you why I came so late. Just after I had finished my
supper and was putting on my wraps a boy came to the door with this
note." Anne went over to where her coat hung and took out an envelope.
Drawing a note from it, she silently handed it to Grace, who read:

          "MY DEAR ANNE:

          "Will you come up to my house before going to the
          hall? I wish to give you something to wear in the
          play.

                             "Yours affectionately,
                                          "ROSE R. GRAY."

"Why, how unlike Mrs. Gray to send for you at the eleventh hour," said
Grace in a puzzled tone. "No wonder you were late. What did she give
you?"

"Nothing," replied Anne. "It was a trick. She never wrote the note,
although the writing looks like hers, and so does the paper. She was
very indignant over it and sent me back in the carriage, telling the
coachman to return for her, for of course she will be here to-night.
I would have arrived much later if I had been obliged to walk. I ran
almost all the way up there. You know Chapel Hill is quite a distance
from my house."

"I should say so," replied Grace. "Who could have been so mean? Anne,
why do you suppose----" Grace stopped suddenly and stared at Anne. "Anne
do you think that Eleanor could have written it?" she said slowly, as
though reluctant to give voice to her suspicion.

"I am afraid so," replied Anne. "She is the only one who could profit by
my being late. Yet if she did write the note, she should have realized
that going to Mrs. Gray's would scarcely keep me away long enough to
miss my first entrance. You know I don't come on until the second
scene."

"There is something more behind this," said Grace, "and I'm going to
find out, too." She darted to the door and opened it upon Nora and
Jessica, who were on the threshold.

"We can't find them," they cried in alarm, "but we told Miss Tebbs and
she'll be here in a minute."

"We didn't say a word to any one else," said Nora, "because they must be
somewhere about, and there is no use in stirring up a lot of unnecessary
excitement."

"Wise little Nora," said Grace, patting her on the shoulder. "Here comes
Miss Tebbs now." She stepped courteously aside to allow the teacher to
enter the dressing room, then, following her, closed the door.

"What is this I hear about losing your costumes, Anne?" asked Miss Tebbs
rather impatiently. "I cautioned the girls last night about taking care
of their things."

Anne flushed at the teacher's curt tones.

"I put them all in that corner, plainly marked, before I left here last
night," she answered. "When I came here to-night they were gone."

"That is strange," said the elder woman. "Have you made a thorough
search for them in the other room?"

"We've gone over every inch of the ground," exclaimed Jessica, "and we
can't find a trace of them. We didn't ask any of the girls about them,
because if we couldn't find them we feel sure the others couldn't. So we
just kept quiet."

"I don't know what is to be done, I'm sure," said Miss Tebbs in an
anxious tone. "It is eight o'clock now and the curtain is supposed to
run up at 8.15. I can hold it until 8.30, but no longer. The house is
already well filled. You might get through the first act in a borrowed
gown, Anne, but what can you do in the second? You know how that costume
had to be altered to fit you. If it can be found before the second act,
all will be well, but suppose you go on in the first act, and it can't
be found, what then? You will spoil the whole production by appearing
in an incorrect or misfit costume, besides bitterly disappointing the
two girls who will have to give up their costumes to you. It is doubly
provoking, because Mr. Southard is here to-night, and is particularly
anxious to see your work."

"Miss Tebbs," exclaimed Grace, "Eleanor Savell has a complete 'Rosalind'
outfit. She had it made purposely. One of the girls told me so. You know
she understudies Anne. Couldn't Anne use that?"

"Impossible, Grace," said Miss Tebbs. "Eleanor is taller than Anne.
Anne's lack of height is her one drawback. If she had not shown such
exceptional talent, 'Rosalind' would have certainly fallen to Miss
Savell or yourself. I am very sorry, but it looks as though Miss Savell
will have to play Rosalind after all, and she must be notified at once."

The three chums turned to Anne, who was biting her lip and trying hard
to keep back her tears. Nora and Jessica looked their silent sympathy,
but Grace stood apparently wrapped in thought.

Miss Tebbs moved toward the door, but as she placed her hand on the knob
Grace sprang eagerly forward.

"Miss Tebbs," she cried, "don't ask Miss Savell. I believe I can find
those costumes yet. Wait here and in five minutes I'll tell you whether
I have succeeded. Please don't ask me what I am going to do. Just trust
me and wait. You will let me try, won't you?" she pleaded.

"Certainly, my child," said Miss Tebbs, "but remember time is precious.
I'll give you five minutes, but if----"

"I'll be back in that time," cried Grace, and was gone, leaving Miss
Tebbs and the three chums mystified but faintly hopeful.

Across the stage she flew and into the other dressing room. The object
of her search was not there. Out she rushed and collided with a girl who
was about to enter.

"Pardon me," said Grace, glancing up, then seized the girl by the arm.
"Eleanor Savell," she exclaimed sternly. "You know where Anne's costumes
are. Don't attempt to deny it."

Eleanor looked contemptuously at Grace and tried to shake herself free,
but Grace's grasp tightened.

"Answer me," she said. "Where are they?"

[Illustration: "Where Are Anne's Costumes?" Cried Grace.]

"Let me go," said Eleanor angrily. "You are hurting my arm. What do
I care about Miss Pierson's costumes?"

"You will care," replied Grace. "For if you don't instantly tell me
where they are, I shall call the whole cast and expose you."

"If you do, you will merely make yourself ridiculous," hissed
Eleanor, her eyes blazing. "What grounds have you for such an
accusation?"

"I can't prove that you are responsible for their disappearance, but
I do know that you shall not play 'Rosalind,' if the costumes are never
found."

"How can you prevent me!" asked Eleanor in insolent tones. "You are not
running this production."

"I have no time to waste in arguing the matter," returned Grace with
admirable self-control. "What I want is the truth about the costumes and
you must answer me."

"'Must,'" repeated Eleanor, raising her eyebrows. "That is putting it
rather strongly. No one ever says 'must' to me."

"I say it to you now, Eleanor, and I mean it," said Grace. "I am fully
convinced that you have hidden Anne's costumes and I am equally certain
that you are going to produce them at once."

"Then you are laboring under a delusion," replied Eleanor, with a
disagreeable laugh, "and I should advise you to devote that tireless
energy of yours, to minding your own business."

"This is my business," replied Grace evenly, "and if you wish to avoid
any unpleasantness you will make it yours."

"Your threats do not alarm me," sneered Eleanor. "I am not easily
frightened."

"Very well," replied Grace, looking steadily at her enemy. "I see that
I shall be obliged to call Miss Thompson back here and tell her who
destroyed her essay. Knowing that, do you suppose you can make her
believe that you did not hide Anne's costumes?"

Eleanor's insolent expression turned to one of fear. "No," she gasped,
"don't call Miss Thompson. You know she hates me, and will disgrace me
in the eyes of the girls."

"And you richly deserve it, Eleanor," replied Grace, "but if you produce
Anne's costumes at once, I'll agree to say nothing. Hurry, for every
second is precious."

"I can't get them," wailed Eleanor. "What shall I do?"

"Where are they?" asked Grace, with compressed lips.

"At--'Heartsease,'" said Eleanor, and burst into tears.

"Oh, what a mess," groaned Grace. "It will take an hour to go there and
back. Oh, I must act quickly. Let me think. Mrs. Gray's coachman would
drive me out, but those horses are so slow. Eleanor," she exclaimed,
turning to the weeping girl, "is your runabout outside?"

"Yes," sobbed Eleanor.

"Then that settles it," cried Grace. "I will go after the things. Tell
me where to find them. Have you a latch key? I can't bother to ring
after I get there."

"I'll go and get my key," said Eleanor, wiping her eyes. "They're in the
wardrobe in my bedroom."

"All right, wait for me at the door and don't say a word. Here come some
of the girls."

Though the time had seemed hours to Grace, her interview with Eleanor
had lasted barely five minutes. She hurried back to where Miss Tebbs and
the three chums awaited her, followed by the curious eyes of a number of
the cast, who wondered vaguely why Grace Harlowe was rushing around at
such a rate.

"Borrow a gown for Anne, Miss Tebbs, for the first act," she cried.
"I'll have the missing costumes here in time for the second. Only
I can't play Orlando. Miriam will have to play it; she's my understudy,
you know. Ethel Dumont can play Miriam's part. They've rehearsed both
parts, and will be all right. Please don't refuse me, Miss Tebbs, but
let me go. It's for Anne's sake. Nora, please bring me my street
clothes."

As she spoke, Grace began rapidly divesting herself of her costume.

"Very well, Grace, have your own way," replied the teacher reluctantly.
"I'll go at once and get a gown for Anne. But don't dare to fail me."

"Thank you, Miss Tebbs. I'll not fail." Slipping into her long coat and
seizing her fur hat, Grace made for the street, stopping for an instant
to take the key from Eleanor, who stood waiting at the door.

"Can you manage the machine?" faltered Eleanor.

"Yes," said Grace curtly. "Go in at once. If you are seen, the girls are
apt to ask questions that you may find hard to answer truthfully."

"Thank goodness, David and Tom taught me something about automobiles
last summer," thought Grace as she prepared to start, "or I should have
been powerless to help Anne to-night. I am going to exceed the speed
limit, that's certain." A moment later she was well into the street and
on her way to "Heartsease." It was a memorable ride to Grace. It seemed
as though the runabout fairly flew over the ground.

"I've only been ten minutes on the way," she breathed as she neared her
destination. Leaving the runabout outside the grounds, she ran up the
drive, and, inserting her key in the door, opened it softly and entered
the wide, old-fashioned hall. Up the steps she hurried, meeting no one,
for Miss Nevin was at Assembly Hall and the servants' quarters were at
the back of the house. Knowing the house as she did, Grace went straight
to Eleanor's room and to the wardrobe. Sure enough, Anne's missing
costumes were lying in a neat heap on the floor. Assuring herself that
everything was there, Grace piled them up in her arms and sped softly
down the stairs, opened the door, and in a twinkling was down the drive
and into the runabout.

She drove back even faster than she had come. As she passed the city
hall clock she drew a breath of relief. It was ten minutes of nine. The
first act was hardly half over. Leaping from the machine with the lost
costumes she ran triumphantly into the dressing room.

"Here she is," shrieked Nora in delight. "I knew she'd make good."

"Are they all there, Grace," anxiously inquired Miss Tebbs. "You dear,
good child. Where did you find them?"

"That is a mystery which even Sherlock Holmes can never solve," replied
Grace, laughing. "Where's Anne?"

"She's on just now with Celia," replied Miss Tebbs, "and is playing up
to her usual form, but she is very nervous and almost broke down after
you left. She feels that you made too great a sacrifice for her in
giving up your part."

"Nonsense," said Grace. "Why should I have sacrificed the star to my own
personal vanity? Miriam Nesbit can play Orlando as well as I, and makes
a more striking appearance at that."

"I don't agree with you, Grace, for you were an ideal 'Orlando,'"
replied Miss Tebbs. "However it's too late for regret, and the best
I can do now is to make you assistant stage manager. Some of those girls
need looking after. Miss Savell had a bad case of stage fright and
almost had to be dragged on. She forgot her lines and had to be
prompted. She's all right now, but I am devoutly thankful she didn't
play 'Rosalind,' for she certainly would not have done justice to it."

Grace smiled grimly as she listened to Miss Tebbs. She could not feel
sorry at Eleanor's recent agitation. Now that the excitement was over,
Grace felt her anger rising. Eleanor's thirst for glory and revenge had
been the means of losing Grace the part that she had so eagerly looked
forward to playing, not to mention the narrow escape Anne had run.
Still, on the whole, Grace felt glad that so far no one knew the truth.

"I think I'll go into the wings. It's almost time for the curtain," she
said to Miss Tebbs. But before she could reach there, the curtain had
rung down and the audience were calling for Celia and Rosalind, who
took the call hand in hand. Then Rosalind took two calls and bowed
herself into the wings and straight into Grace's arms.

"O Grace, how could you do it?" said Anne, with a half sob. "You gave
up your part for me. It's too much. I shan't----"

"You shall," replied Grace, hugging her. "Run along and put on male
attire. I found your stuff and some time I'll tell you where, but not
now."

The play progressed with remarkable smoothness, and the various actors
received unstinted applause from the audience, but from first to last
Anne was the star. Her portrayal of Rosalind left little to be desired.
Time after time Mr. Southard led the applause, and was ably seconded by
Hippy, Reddy, David and Tom, who fairly wriggled with enthusiasm.

Next to Anne, Nora, perhaps, came second. Her delivery of Touchstone's
lines was delightful and she kept the audience in a gale of mirth
whenever she appeared.

It was over at last. The closing line of the Epilogue had been spoken by
Rosalind, and she had taken five curtain calls and retired with her arms
full of flowers. The principal actors in the play had been well
remembered by friends, and the dressing rooms looked like a florist's
shop.

"I'm so sorry. I'd like to begin all over again," said Nora, as she
rubbed her face with cold cream to take off her make-up.

"There's an end to all things," said Jessica practically, "and really
I'm glad to get back into everyday clothes."

"Hurry up, slowpokes," said Grace Harlowe, popping her head in the door.
"Tom Gray is here. He and David are waiting outside with their cars. We
are all going up to Nesbit's for a jollification given in honor of
Rosalind, who is at present dressed in everyday clothes and shaking
hands with the great Southard. He and Miss Tebbs are going, too, and so
is Mrs. Gray."

"Come in, Grace, and tell us where you found Anne's costumes," said
Nora, giving her cheeks a final rub. "We're devoured with curiosity."

"'Thereby hangs a tale,'" replied Grace, "but I refuse to be interviewed
to-night. I'll see you outside. If you're not there in three minutes,
I'll put Hippy on your trail."

Closing the door, Grace walked slowly toward the entrance. The majority
of the girls had gone. Anne still stood talking with Mr. Southard and
Miss Tebbs.

"Grace, come here and speak to Mr. Southard," called Miss Tebbs. "Has
Nora gone? Mr. Southard wishes to congratulate her and you, too."

"She'll be out in a couple of minutes," said Grace, as she advanced to
greet the great actor. "But I am not in line for congratulations, as
I was not in the play."

"I am very sorry that you could not play Orlando to-night. I remember
your work at the try-out," said Mr. Southard in his deep, musical voice.
"Miss Tebbs has told me of the sacrifice you made. You deserve double
congratulations for the part you played behind the scenes."

"It was nothing," murmured Grace, her color rising. "If you are ready,
suppose we go. Mrs. Gray wishes you and Mr. Southard to go in her
carriage, Miss Tebbs. The rest of us will go in the two automobiles."

As they moved toward the door, Grace left them. Going back to the
dressing room, she rapped sharply on the door. "Last call! Look out for
Hippy!" she cried, then hurried to catch up with the others. But before
she reached them she was confronted by Eleanor.

"I've been waiting to see you ever since the play was over," said
Eleanor sullenly.

Grace looked at her in silence. "Well?" she said coldly.

"What are you going to do about to-night--and everything?" asked
Eleanor. "Are you going to tell Miss Thompson?"

"So far I have told nothing, Eleanor," said Grace sternly. "You deserve
no clemency at my hands, however, for you have repeatedly accused myself
and my friends of carrying tales. Something we are above doing. You have
refused our friendship and have been the means of estranging Miss
Thompson and myself.

"When first you came to High School, I promised Mrs. Gray that I would
help you to like High School life. For that reason I have overlooked
lots of things, but to-night caps the climax, and I tell you frankly
that I thoroughly despise your conduct, and if ever again you do
anything to injure myself or my friends, I shall not hesitate to bring
you to book for it."

Eleanor stood clenching her hands in impotent rage. Grace's plain
speaking had roused a tempest in her.

"I hate you, Grace Harlowe, fifty times more than ever before," she
said, her voice shaking with anger. "I intended to leave this miserable
school at the end of the year, but now I shall stay and show you that
you cannot trample upon me with impunity."

Without answering, Grace walked away, leaving Eleanor to stare moodily
after her.



CHAPTER XXIII

THE JUNIOR PICNIC


With the first days of spring, the longing to throw down her books and
fairly live in the open returned to Grace Harlowe with renewed force.

"I do wish school were over," she said with a sigh to her three chums,
as they strolled home one afternoon in May. "I don't mind studying in
the winter, but when the spring comes, then it's another matter. I long
to golf and play tennis, and picnic in the woods and----"

"That reminds me," said Nora, interrupting her, "that last fall the
juniors talked about giving a picnic instead of a ball. We didn't give
the ball, so it's up to us to go picnicking."

"That's a fine suggestion, Nora," said Jessica. "I move we post a notice
in the locker-room and have a meeting to-morrow after school.

"I can't be there," said Anne regretfully. "To-morrow is one of my days
at Mrs. Gray's, but whatever you do will suit me."

"Awfully sorry, Anne," said Grace. "We might call it for the day after
to-morrow."

"No, no," protested Anne. "Please don't postpone it on my account."

The notice was duly posted in a conspicuous place in the locker-room the
next day, and the entire class, with the exception of Anne, met in one
of the smaller rooms off the gymnasium at the close of the afternoon
session.

"Esteemed juniors and fellow-citizens," said Grace, after calling the
meeting to order. "It is true that no one has particularly requested me
to take charge of this meeting, but as I posted the notice, I feel that
I am responsible for your presence here to-day. We have before us two
matters that need attention. One is the annual entertainment that the
junior class always gives, the other the election of class officers.
Last year we gave a ball, but this year so far we have done nothing.
I move that we proceed at once to elect our president, vice president,
secretary and treasurer, and then decide what form of entertainment
would be advisable."

"Second the motion," said Nora.

"All those in favor say 'aye,' contrary, 'no.'"

"Carried," said Grace, as no dissenting voices arose. "Nominations for
president are now in order."

"I nominate Grace Harlowe for president," exclaimed Miriam Nesbit,
springing from her seat.

"Second the motion," said Eva Allen.

It was carried with enthusiasm before Grace had time to protest.

"I nominate Miriam Nesbit for president," said Grace.

This was also seconded and carried. Then Edna Wright rose and nominated
Eleanor Savell. This closed the nominations for president, and the
matter when put to vote resulted in Grace's election by a majority of
ten votes over Miriam, Eleanor having received only five. It was plain
to be seen that in spite of the rival faction, Grace held first place in
the hearts of most of her class. Miriam Nesbit was elected vice
president, Marian Barber treasurer, and, rather to Grace's surprise,
Eleanor was chosen as secretary, Edna Wright again nominating her after
doing some vigorous whispering among the two back rows of girls. The
only other girl proposed being one who was not particularly popular in
the class.

"I always suspected Edna Wright's lack of sense," whispered Nora to
Jessica. "The idea of nominating Eleanor for secretary when she knows
how Eleanor hates the Phi Sigma Tau, and doesn't speak to any of us.
I certainly didn't vote for her."

"Nor I," responded Jessica. "Funny Grace would never tell us about that
costume business. I know Eleanor was mixed up in it."

"Of course," nodded Nora, and turned her attention to the meeting just
in time to hear Grace put the motion for the picnic and say "aye" with
the others.

The date for the affair was set for the following Saturday, the weather
permitting, and it was generally agreed that Forest Park, a natural park
about twelve miles from Oakdale, would be an ideal place to picnic. A
refreshment committee was appointed, also a transportation committee.
The girls were requested to pay fifty cents apiece to the treasurer.

"If we find that this is not enough, we will levy another tax," Grace
announced.

"I'm not positive about the first collection," muttered Nora. "I'm
perpetually broke."

"So am I," said Jessica. "My allowance lasts about two days, and then
I am penniless for the rest of the month."

The details having been disposed of, the members decided to meet in
front of the High School the following Saturday morning at nine o'clock.
The transportation committee was to have two big picnic wagons in
readiness and the juniors went home with pleasant anticipations of a day
in the woods.

"Won't it be fun?" exclaimed Grace joyously, as she walked down the
street, the center of the Phi Sigma Tau.

"Great," said Miriam Nesbit. "I suppose we could all squeeze into
David's automobile."

"I believe we'd better not," replied Grace. "It might create bad feeling
among the girls. We don't want them to feel that we think ourselves too
exclusive to ride with them."

"I'll wager anything Eleanor and Edna won't go with the crowd," said Eva
Allen.

"I don't know about that," remarked Nora O'Malley. "Eleanor has just
been elected secretary, therefore it behooves her to keep on the right
side of those who elected her."

"She owes her office to Edna Wright," said Marian Barber, "and also to
the fact that her opponent, Miss Wells, is not popular. For my part,
I think Miss Wells would have been a better secretary. We could at least
have gotten along peaceably with her. I can't see why Eleanor accepted,
knowing she would have to act with us in class matters."

"I have noticed that ever since the play she has been trying to gain a
footing in the class," said Miriam Nesbit thoughtfully. "She has gone
out of her way to be nice to girls that she used to snub unmercifully.
We are the only ones she keeps away from. I believe she will try to
influence the rest of the class against us."

"She'll have to hurry up if she does it this term," said Nora.

"Perhaps she won't come back to school next year, she is so changeable,"
said Jessica hopefully.

"Yes, she will," said Grace, taking part in the discussion for the first
time since it had touched on Eleanor.

"How do you know?" was the question.

"She told me so the night of the play," was Grace's answer. "Girls,
I have never told you about what happened that night. Anne knows, but,
you see, it particularly concerned her. I was too angry at the time to
trust myself to tell any one else. As members of the same sorority, I
know that you can be trusted not to repeat what I shall tell you."

In a few words Grace told the story of Eleanor's treachery, omitting,
however, the part concerning Miss Thompson. She had decided to reveal
that to no one.

"Well, of all things," said Nora O'Malley. "I knew she was to blame. So
she threatened revenge, did she?"

"Yes," replied Grace. "That is why I have told you this. Be careful what
you do. Never give her a chance to take advantage of you in any way, for
she is determined to make mischief. Now let us forget her, and talk
about the picnic."

With the talk of the picnic, Grace's warning soon passed from the girls'
minds. They had no knowledge of the trials that their senior year was
to bring them or how fully the truth of Grace's words was to be proved.

       *       *       *       *       *

The day of the picnic dawned fair and cloudless. By nine o'clock a merry
party of laughing, chattering girls had gathered in front of the High
School, where the two immense wagons generally used by Oakdale
picnickers, each drawn by four horses, awaited them. For a wonder every
one was on time, and the start was made with a great fluttering of
handkerchiefs, accompanied by enthusiastic cheers and High School yells.
As they rattled down the street people paused and looked smilingly after
them. Oakdale was very proud of her High School boys and girls, and
enjoyed seeing them happy.

The Phi Sigma Tau were seated in one end of the second wagon, with the
exception of Grace, who had perched herself on the driver's seat, and
was holding an animated conversation with the driver, old Jerry Flynn,
whom every one knew and liked. Grace always cultivated old Jerry's
acquaintance whenever she had the chance. To-day he was allowing her to
drive, while, with folded hands, he directed her management of the
lines. Grace was in her element and gave a sigh of regret as they
sighted the park. "I could go on driving four horses forever, Mr.
Flynn," she exclaimed. "Do let me drive going back?"

"Sure yez can, miss," said the good-natured Irishman, "and it's
meself'll hellup yez, and show yez how to do it."

The committee on entertainment had provided a series of races and
contests for the morning. After lunch there would be a tennis match, and
then the girls could amuse themselves as they chose; the start home to
be made about six o'clock.

Grace and Nora decided to enter the hundred-yard dash. "The prize is a
box of stationery bought at the ten-cent store, so I am anxious to win
it," Nora informed them. "In fact, all the prizes came from that useful
and overworked place. I was on the purchasing committee."

"I shall enter the one-legged race. I always could stand on one foot
like a crane," announced Jessica, "and hopping is my specialty."

There was an egg and spoon race, a walking match, an apple-eating
contest, with the apples suspended by strings from the low branch of a
tree, to be eaten without aid from the hands, and various other stunts
of a similar nature.

The morning passed like magic. Each new set of contestants seemed
funnier than the preceding one. Nora won the coveted box of stationery.
Jessica ably demonstrated her ability to outhop her competitors, while
Eva Allen covered herself with glory in the apple contest.

Grace, after losing the hundred-yard dash, laughingly refused to enter
the other contests. "I mean to win at tennis this afternoon," she said,
"so I'm not going to waste my precious energy on such little stunts."

After the midday luncheon had been disposed of, the entire class
repaired to the tennis court at the east end of the park. A match had
been arranged in which Grace and Miriam Nesbit were to play against Ruth
Deane and Edna Wright, who was an indefatigable tennis player, and
therefore figured frequently in tennis matches held in Oakdale. At the
last minute, however, Edna pleaded a severe headache and recommended
Eleanor in her place.

"But I never have played with her," protested Ruth Deane, "and how do
I know whether she can play?"

"Try her," begged Edna. "I have played with her and she is a wonder."

It was with considerable surprise and some misgiving that Grace
discovered that Eleanor was to play. "I seem fated to oppose her," Grace
thought. "I wonder at her consenting to play against us. I'll keep my
eye on her, at any rate, for I don't trust her."

Grace's fears were, in this instance, groundless, for Eleanor played a
perfectly fair game from start to finish, and proved herself a powerful
antagonist. Her serves were as straight and accurate as a boy's, and she
played with great spirit and agility. Indeed, the sides were so evenly
matched that junior excitement rose high and numerous boxes of Huyler's
were wagered against the result. The game stood forty-all. Two vantages
scored in succession were needed by one side to win. Grace forgot
everything but the fact that she desired the victory. With her, going
into a game meant winning it. Five minutes later the match was over. She
and Miriam had won against worthy opponents.

"That was an evenly matched game," exclaimed Nora, as Grace and Miriam
strolled to where their friends were seated upon the grass. "You played
like professionals."

"Eleanor is a better player than Edna Wright," said Grace. "Her serves
are wonderful. We had all we could do to hold our own."

"There's a trout brook over there," said Nora, "and I had forethought
enough to borrow a fishing rod and line from Hippy. It is jointed, so it
didn't get in any one's way. I left it with the lunch baskets.
Therefore, as I'm not afraid of angle worms, I'm going to dig some bait
and fish. Want to come?"

"Not I," laughed Anne. "Miriam and I are going up under the trees and
read Browning."

"The idea of going to a picnic and reading!" exclaimed Jessica. "Come
on, girls, let's go with Nora." She hastily rose, brushed off her gown
and followed in Nora's wake, accompanied by Eva and Marian.

"Come with us, dear," said Anne to Grace, who stood looking dreamily
toward a patch of woods to the left.

"No indeed," replied Grace. "I'm going to explore a little in those
woods yonder."

"Don't go far," called Anne anxiously, as Grace turned to go.

"I won't," she answered. "See you later."

As she reached the cool shadows of the little strip of woods she drew a
long breath. How delightful it was to hear the rustle of the leaves over
her head, and tread upon Nature's green carpet of soft, thick moss.
Forgetful of her promise, Grace wandered farther and farther on,
gathering the wild flowers as she went. She found plenty of trilliums
and violets, and pounced with a cry of delight upon some wild pink
honeysuckle just opening. After stripping the bush, she turned into a
bypath that led straight up a little hill which rose before her.
Scrambling up the hill, Grace reached the top and looked about her.
Nestling at the foot of the elevation on the side opposite to the one
she had climbed stood a small one-story cottage.

"How funny," thought Grace. "I didn't know there was a house anywhere
near here. I'm going down there for a drink of water. I'm awfully
thirsty."

Suiting the action to the words, Grace hurried toward the cottage. As
she neared it she noticed that the door was wide open. "Some one is at
home, that's certain," she said to herself. "I hope they won't be cross
at my asking for a drink. Why," she exclaimed, "there's no one living
here at all. I think I'll venture in, perhaps there's a well at the back
of the house."

Entering, she found that the cottage consisted of but two rooms. The
front one was absolutely bare, but the back one contained an old stove,
a broken-down sink and a rickety chair. At one side was a good-sized
closet. Opening it, Grace found nothing save a dilapidated old coat.
Just then she caught the sound of rough voices just outside the cottage.

"I tell ye, Bill, we've got to do the job to-night and hike for the West
on that train that goes through Oakdale at 3.15 in the morning," said a
voice that was almost a growl.

"I'm wid yer, Jim," answered another voice in correspondingly savage
tones. "Even to layin' a few out stiff if dey gets in de way."

Grace listened. She heard heavy footsteps, and, peeping into the room,
she saw a burly figure outlined in the front door in the act of
entering. She glanced toward the back door. It was closed and fastened
with a bolt. If she could slip out that way, she could make a run for
the picnic grounds, but she dared not try to pass the two men who had
just appeared. The few words of their conversation proved them to be
lawless. Noiselessly she slipped into the closet and drew the door
almost shut. She would hide until they had gone. They were not likely to
linger long in the cottage.

Minute after minute went by, but the intruders showed no signs of
leaving.

"What shall I do?" Grace breathed, wringing her hands. "They're real,
downright burglars of the worst sort, and they're planning a robbery.
It's getting late, too, and the girls will soon be going back. Oh,
I must get out of here, but I won't try to go until I find out whose
house they're going to rob."

The men talked on, but, listen as she might, Grace could get no clue.

"There ain't a soul on the joint except the judge and one old servant,"
growled Bill. "The rest o' the bunch'll be at the weddin' of one o' the
girls. I laid low and heard 'em talkin' about it to-day. The judge's got
money in the house, too. He always keeps it around, and that old Putnam
place is pretty well back from the road."

Grace waited to hear no more. She had obtained the information she
sought. They were going to rob and perhaps murder good old Judge Putnam.

Slipping quietly out of the closet, she approached the back door and
cautiously took hold of the bolt. To her joy it moved easily. Exercising
the greatest care in sliding it back, she lifted the latch. It made no
sound, and, holding her breath, she softly swung open the door and ran
on tiptoe around the corner of the house. Throwing away her bouquet as
she ran, she made for a clump of underbrush at one side of the cottage.
Here she paused, and hearing no disturbance from inside, she continued
her flight. But she had lost her sense of direction, and after fifteen
minutes' wandering was about to despair of finding her way, when she
espied the honeysuckle bush that she had stripped earlier in the
afternoon. This put her on the right track, but she was farther away
from the picnic grounds than she had supposed, and when tired and
breathless she at last reached them, it was only to find them deserted.
The party had gone back to town without her.

Grace stood staring about her in blank dismay. It was nearing seven
o'clock, and she was twelve miles from Oakdale. Why hadn't the girls
waited? Grace felt ready to cry, then the vision of the poor old judge,
alone and at the mercy of the two ruffians, flashed before her.

"I'll walk to Oakdale," she said, with a determined nod of her head.
"And I'll not stop for an instant until I notify the police."

Grace never forgot that lonely walk. The darkness of a moonless night
settled down upon her before she had gone three miles, but she would not
allow herself to think of fear. She stumbled frequently as she neared
her journey's end, and her tired body cried out for rest, but she pushed
resolutely on, almost sobbing with relief as she entered the suburbs of
the town. It was nearly eleven by the city hall clock when she hurried
up the steps of the police station.

"Well, well!" said Chief Burroughs, as Grace rushed unceremoniously into
his office. "Here's the lost girl now. I just received word that you
were missing. Your father and one of my men left here not five minutes
ago. They went to the livery to hire a rig."

"Oh, try and stop them, Mr. Burroughs," cried Grace excitedly. "'Phone
the livery and tell them that I'm here. Then listen to me, for I've
walked all the way from Forest Park and there's no time to lose."

"Walked from Forest Park?" exclaimed the chief, as he turned to the
'phone. "Why that's a good twelve miles and----"

"I know," interrupted Grace, then was silent, for the chief had begun
talking to the livery.

"It's all right," he said, hanging up. "They'll be here directly. Caught
them just in the nick of time, however. Now what's on your mind, Grace?"

"They're going to rob old Judge Putnam," Grace burst forth incoherently.
"He's all alone. Oh, do send some one out there quickly, or it may be
too late. Isn't there a telephone in the judge's house? He ought to be
warned."

"Who's going to rob the judge? What are you talking about, my child?"
asked the chief. "No, the judge has no 'phone. He thinks them a
nuisance."

Grace rapidly told of her adventure in the woods, and her escape from
the cottage. Before she had finished Chief Burroughs had begun to act.
Summoning three special policemen, he narrated briefly what he had just
heard, and five minutes later Grace had the satisfaction of knowing
that, fully armed, they were well on their way to the Putnam estate.

"I can't understand why the girls didn't miss me," she said to the
chief, as she sat awaiting her father's appearance.

"Miss Bright and Miss O'Malley, who were in the second wagon, thought
you were in the first with Miss Pierson and Miss Nesbit, and vice
versa," replied the chief. "The second wagon broke down when about half
way home. It took over half an hour to get it fixed, so when it did
arrive the girls in the head wagon had all gone home. Your mother grew
uneasy when ten o'clock came, so she telephoned your friends, and on
comparing notes you were found to be among the missing."

"What a mix-up," laughed Grace. "No wonder I wasn't missed. I'm sorry
mother was uneasy, but she'll forgive me when she hears my tale. Oh,
I hope nothing has happened to the poor old judge."

"Well, we'll soon know," replied the chief. "Now, you just take it easy
and rest until your father comes. You need it after a twelve-mile walk.
Of all the brave little girls----"

The ringing of the telephone cut the chief short.

Grace gave a long sigh and leaned back in the big chair. She was so
tired. Her eyelids drooped----

"Well, I declare!" said the chief, as he turned from the telephone, for
Grace was fast asleep.



CHAPTER XXIV

CONCLUSION


The special policemen sent out to the Putnam estate were not doomed to
disappointment. After an hour's waiting, their patience was rewarded,
and the two housebreakers appeared upon the scene. Before they could do
any damage they were apprehended and a bag containing a complete outfit
of burglar's tools was taken away from them. They fought desperately,
but without avail, and were marched to jail to await their hearing.

Judge Putnam was greatly agitated over the affair. He had a large sum of
money in the house, not to mention old family silver and other
valuables.

"I realize I've had a narrow escape," he exclaimed to the chief the next
day. "I might have been murdered in cold blood. I'll have a burglar
alarm put in at once and a telephone, too. I had no business to let all
the servants except old James go for the night. Who did you say brought
the news? Tom Harlowe's little girl? She always was a wide awake
youngster. I wonder what I can do for her to show her that I appreciate
her bravery?"

"I don't believe she'd accept anything, Judge," replied the chief.
"She's not that sort."

"We shall see. We shall see," said the judge, rubbing his hands. "I have
a plan I think she'll listen to."

In the meantime, on reaching home Grace had been cried over by her
mother and put to bed as though she were a baby. The story had been told
by her chums throughout the school the next day, and Grace found herself
the "observed of all observers."

"Any of you would have done the same," she said when surrounded by a
bevy of admiring schoolmates.

"That's what you always say," exclaimed Nora. "But let me tell you
I should have been in hysterics if I had been left alone in the dark
twelve miles from nowhere."

Judge Putnam did not at once make his plan known to Grace. He called,
thanking her and complimenting her on her bravery and presence of mind.

"I shall have something to ask you when school closes, my dear child,"
he said as he rose to go. "Something that concerns you and your friends,
and you mustn't say 'no' to an old man."

"What on earth does he mean?" said Grace to her chums, as she repeated
the judge's words. "I shall be eaten up with curiosity until school
closes."

"Wish to goodness it was over now," growled Nora O'Malley. "I don't
believe the last of June will ever come."

The morning after commencement, eight highly excited girls gathered on
the Harlowe's veranda. Grace had received a note from Judge Putnam
requesting that the Phi Sigma Tau call upon him at ten o'clock that
morning.

"Do hurry," said Jessica, as they neared the judge's beautiful home.
"The sooner we get there the sooner we'll know."

"Good morning, young ladies," said the judge, bowing with old-time
gallantry as James ushered the eight girls into the library. "You look
like a garden of roses. There's nothing like youth; nothing like it. Sit
down and make yourselves comfortable while I tell you why I asked you to
come and see an old man."

"You are just like Mrs. Gray, Judge," said Grace, "always imagining
yourself old, when you know you're just a great big boy."

"Very pretty, my dear," chuckled the judge. "But if I am as young as you
say, then I must do something to keep young. Now, the way I propose
doing it is this: I have a camp up in the Adirondacks that needs
attention, so I wrote my youngest sister about it and she agrees with
me. She is going up there this week with a couple of servants to open
the bungalow and put it in readiness for eight girls who call themselves
the Phi Sigma Tau, providing their fathers and mothers can spare them
for a few weeks. Do you think they will care to go?"

"Oh-h-h-h! How lovely!" breathed the eight girls in concert.

"Care to go? Well I should say so. It will be the greatest lark ever,"
cried Grace.

"If you know any young men who can make themselves useful, we might
invite them. I don't like the idea of being the only boy, you know."

"David and Tom," said Grace and Anne.

"Hippy can go, I'm sure," said Nora.

"Not to mention Reddy and Arnold Evans," murmured Jessica, with a glance
at Miriam.

"It looks as though I shall not lack masculine company," remarked the
judge, with twinkling eyes. "Tell your parents that my sister will write
them."

"I move that we give three cheers and the High School yell for Judge
Putnam, and then go straight home and get proper permission," cried
Grace.

The cheers were given with a will, and after shaking hands with the
judge, the girls said good-bye.

"How did Judge Putnam know about the Phi Sigma Tau; even to its name?"
asked Marian Barber curiously.

"Lots of people know of it," remarked Eva Allen.

"Girls," said Grace earnestly, "don't you think our society has been a
success so far?"

"Yes, indeed," was the united answer.

"Our sorority has made us fast friends, loyal to each other, through
good and evil report," she continued. "Let us resolve now, that during
our senior year we will stand firmly together, and make the Phi Sigma
Tau represent all that is best and most worthy in High School life."

When next we meet Grace Harlowe and her girl chums, they will have
entered upon their senior year at High School. In "GRACE HARLOWE'S
SENIOR YEAR AT HIGH SCHOOL; Or, The Parting of the Ways," we shall learn
how the Phi Sigma Tau kept their sorority pledge. Eleanor Savell will
again seek revenge, and Grace Harlowe will once more prove herself equal
to the occasion. Those who have followed the "High School Girls" through
three years of school life cannot fail to be interested in what befell
these lovable everyday girls during their senior year.


THE END



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       *       *       *       *       *

Transcriber's Notes:

Obvious printer's punctuation errors corrected. Varied hyphenation where
a consensus could not be ascertained, retained.

Page 9, "friend" changed to "friends" (became the firm friends)

Page 49, "its" changed to "it's" (I think it's high)

Page 54, word "were" inserted into text (thought were the)

Page 74, word "a" inserted into the text (You have everything a)

Page 111, removed double word "to to" (want to go)

Page 143, "entiled" changed to "entitled".

Page 145, "Harlowe's" changed to "Harlowe" (Harlowe lost no)

Page 175, word "ran" removed from text. Original read "surprise ran
around" (surprise around)

Page 254, "your" changed to "you're" (you know you're)

The Boys of Steel Series: Book list was missing the numerals 3 and 4.





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Public domain books belong to the public and we are merely their custodians.
This effort is time consuming and expensive, so in order to keep providing
this resource, we have taken steps to prevent abuse by commercial parties,
including placing technical restrictions on automated querying.

We also ask that you:

+ Make non-commercial use of the files We designed Doctrine Publishing
Corporation's ISYS search for use by individuals, and we request that you
use these files for personal, non-commercial purposes.

+ Refrain from automated querying Do not send automated queries of any sort
to Doctrine Publishing's system: If you are conducting research on machine
translation, optical character recognition or other areas where access to a
large amount of text is helpful, please contact us. We encourage the use of
public domain materials for these purposes and may be able to help.

+ Keep it legal -  Whatever your use, remember that you are responsible for
ensuring that what you are doing is legal. Do not assume that just because
we believe a book is in the public domain for users in the United States,
that the work is also in the public domain for users in other countries.
Whether a book is still in copyright varies from country to country, and we
can't offer guidance on whether any specific use of any specific book is
allowed. Please do not assume that a book's appearance in Doctrine Publishing
ISYS search  means it can be used in any manner anywhere in the world.
Copyright infringement liability can be quite severe.

About ISYS® Search Software
Established in 1988, ISYS Search Software is a global supplier of enterprise
search solutions for business and government.  The company's award-winning
software suite offers a broad range of search, navigation and discovery
solutions for desktop search, intranet search, SharePoint search and embedded
search applications.  ISYS has been deployed by thousands of organizations
operating in a variety of industries, including government, legal, law
enforcement, financial services, healthcare and recruitment.



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