Home
  By Author [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Title [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Language
all Classics books content using ISYS

Download this book: [ ASCII | HTML | PDF ]

Look for this book on Amazon


We have new books nearly every day.
If you would like a news letter once a week or once a month
fill out this form and we will give you a summary of the books for that week or month by email.

´╗┐Title: Grace Harlowe's Third Year at Overton College
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 Third Year at Overton College" ***

This book is indexed by ISYS Web Indexing system to allow the reader find any word or number within the document.



              Grace Harlowe's Third Year at Overton College

                     By JESSIE GRAHAM FLOWER, A. M.

Author of The Grace Harlowe High School Girls Series, Grace Harlowe's
First Year at Overton College, Grace Harlowe's Second Year at Overton
College, Grace Harlowe's Fourth Year at Overton College.



PHILADELPHIA
HENRY ALTEMUS COMPANY
Copyright, 1914



[Illustration: The Eight Originals Were Spending a Last Evening
Together.]



CONTENTS


       I. The Last Evening at Home

      II. The Arrival of Kathleen

     III. First Impressions

      IV. Getting Acquainted with the Newspaper Girl

       V. Two Is a Company

      VI. An Unsuspected Listener

     VII. An Unpleasant Summons

    VIII. Elfreda Prophecies Trouble

      IX. Opening the Bazaar

       X. The Alice in Wonderland Circus

      XI. Grace Meets With a Rebuff

     XII. Thanksgiving at Overton

    XIII. Arline Makes the Best of a Bad Matter

     XIV. Planning the Christmas Dinner

      XV. A Tissue Paper Tea

     XVI. A Doubtful Victory

    XVII. Hippy Looks Mysterious

   XVIII. Old Jean's Story

     XIX. Telling Ruth the News

      XX. Elfreda Realizes Her Ambition

     XXI. Alberta Keeps Her Promise

    XXII. Grace's Plan

   XXIII. What Emma Dean Forgot

    XXIV. Conclusion



LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS


The Eight Originals Were Spending a Last Evening Together.

The Emerson Twins Looked Realistically Japanese.

"Here is the Letter You Wrote the Dean."

"She was Standing Close to the Door."



Grace Harlowe's Third Year at Overton College



CHAPTER I

THE LAST EVENING AT HOME


"Now, then, everyone join in the chorus," commanded Hippy Wingate. There
was an answering tinkle from Reddy's mandolin, the deeper notes of a
guitar sounded, then eight care-free young voices were raised in the
plaintive chorus of "My Old Kentucky Home."

It was a warm night in September. Miriam Nesbit and seven of the Eight
Originals were spending a last evening together on the Harlowes'
hospitable veranda. They were on the eve of separation. The following
day would witness Nora's and Jessica's departure for the conservatory.
Grace and Miriam would return to Overton at the beginning of the next
week, and the latter part of the same week would find the four young men
entered upon their senior year in college.

"Very fine, indeed," commented Hippy, "but in order to sing properly one
ought to drink a great deal of lemonade. It is very conducive to a grand
opera voice," he added, confiscating several cakes from the plate Grace
passed to him and holding out his empty lemonade glass.

"But you haven't a grand opera voice," protested David. "That is only a
flimsy excuse."

"We won't discuss the matter in detail," returned Hippy with dignity. "I
am prepared to prove the truth of what I say. I will now render a
selection from 'Il Trovatore.' I will sing the imprisoned lover's
song--"

"Not if I have anything to say about it," growled Reddy.

"Suit yourself, suit yourself," declared Hippy, shrugging his shoulders.
"You boys will be sorry if you don't let me sing, though."

"Is that a threat?" inquired Tom Gray with pretended belligerence.

"A threat?" repeated Hippy. "No, it is a fact. I am contemplating a
terrible revenge. That is, I haven't really begun to contemplate it yet.
I am just getting ready. But when I do start--well, you'll see."

"I think it would be delightful to hear you sing, 'Ah, I Have Sighed to
Rest Me,' Hippy," broke in Nora sweetly, a mischievous twinkle in her
eyes.

"Can I believe my ears? The stony, unsympathetic Nora O'Malley agrees
with me at last. She likes my voice; she wishes to hear me sing, 'Ah, I
Have Sighed to Rest Me.' 'Tis true, I _have_ sighed to rest me a great
many times, particularly in the morning when the alarm clock put an end
to my dreams. It is a beautiful selection."

"Then, why not sing it?" asked Nora demurely.

"Because I don't know it," replied Hippy promptly.

"Just as I suspected," commented Nora in disgust. "That is precisely why
I asked you to sing."

"What made you suspect me?" inquired Hippy, apparently impressed.

"I suspected you on general principles," was the retort.

"If you had had any general principles you wouldn't have suspected me,"
parried Hippy.

"I won't even think about you the next time," was the withering reply.
Nora rose and made her way to the other end of the veranda, perching on
the porch railing beside Tom Gray.

"Come back, Nora," wailed Hippy. "You may suspect me."

"Isn't he too ridiculous for anything?" whispered Nora, smothering a
giggle and trying to look severe. Her attempt failed ignominiously when
Hippy, with an exaggeratedly contrite expression on his fat face, sidled
up to her, salaamed profoundly, lost his balance and sprawled on all
fours at her feet. A shout of merriment arose from his friends. Hippy,
unabashed, scrambled to his feet and began bowing again before Nora,
this time taking care not to bend too far forward.

"You are forgiven, Hippy," declared Miriam. "Nora, don't allow your old
friend and playmate to dislocate his spine in his efforts to show his
sorrow."

"You may stop bowing," said Nora grudgingly. "I suppose I'll have to
forgive you."

Hippy promptly straightened up and perched himself on the railing beside
Nora.

"I didn't say you might sit here," teased Nora.

"I know it," replied Hippy coolly. "Still, you would be deeply, bitterly
disappointed if I didn't."

"Perhaps I should," admitted Nora. "I suppose you might as well stay,"
she added with affected carelessness.

"Thank you," retorted Hippy. "But I had made up my mind not to move."

"Had you?" said Nora indifferently, turning her back on Hippy and
addressing Tom Gray. Whereupon Hippy raised his voice in a loud
monologue that entirely drowned Tom's and Nora's voices.

"For goodness' sake, say something that will please him, Nora," begged
Tom. "This is awful."

Hippy babbled on, apparently oblivious of everyone.

"I have something very important to tell you, Hippy," interposed Nora
slyly.

Hippy stopped talking. "What is it?" he asked suspiciously.

"Come over to the other end of the veranda and find out," said Nora
enigmatically.

Hippy accepted the invitation promptly, and followed Nora to the end of
the veranda, unmindful of Tom Gray's jeers about idle curiosity.

Those who read "Grace Harlowe's Plebe Year at High School,"
"Grace Harlowe's Sophomore Year at High School," "Grace
Harlowe's Junior Year at High School" and "Grace Harlowe's
Senior Year at High School" will have no trouble in recognizing
every member of the merry party of young folks who had taken possession
of the Harlowes' veranda. The doings of Tom, Hippy, David, Reddy, Nora,
Jessica, Anne and Grace have been fully narrated in the "High School
Girls Series." There, too, appeared Miriam Nesbit, Eva Allen,
Eleanor Savelli and Marian Barber, together with the four chums, as
members of the famous sorority, the Phi Sigma Tau.

With the close of their high school days the little clan had been
separated, although David, Reddy and Hippy were on the eve of beginning
their senior year in the same college. Nora and Jessica were attending
the same conservatory, while Grace, Anne and Miriam Nesbit were students
at Overton College.

During their freshman year at Overton, set forth in "Grace Harlowe's
First Year at Overton College," the three girls had not met with
altogether plain sailing. There had been numerous hitches, the most
serious one having been caused by their championship of J. Elfreda
Briggs, a freshman, who had unfortunately incurred the dislike of
several mischievous sophomores. Through the prompt, sensible action of
Grace, assisted by her friends, Elfreda was restored to favor by her
class and became one of Grace's staunchest friends.

"Grace Harlowe's Second Year at Overton College" found the
three friends sophomores, and wholly devoted to Overton and its
traditions. Their sophomore days brought them a variety of experiences,
pleasant and unpleasant, and, as in their freshman year, Grace and
Miriam distinguished themselves on the basketball field. It was during
this year that the Semper Fidelis Club was organized for the purpose of
helping needy students through college, and that Eleanor Savelli, the
daughter of a world-renowned virtuoso, and one of the Phi Sigma Tau,
visited Grace and helped to plan a concert which netted the club two
hundred dollars and a substantial yearly subscription from an interested
outsider. The difficulties that arose over a lost theme and the final
outcome of the affair proved Grace Harlowe to be the same honorable,
straightforward young woman who had endeared herself to the reader
during her high school days.

"Why doesn't some one sing?" asked Grace plaintively. A brief silence
had fallen upon the little group at one end of the veranda, broken only
by Nora's and Hippy's argumentative voices.

"Because both the someones are too busy to sing," laughed Jessica,
casting a significant glance toward the end of the veranda.

"Hippy, Nora," called David, "come over here and sing."

"'Sing, sing, what shall I sing?'" chanted Hippy. "Shall it be a sweetly
sentimental ditty, or shall I sing of brooks and meadows, fields and
flowers?"

"Sing that funny one you sang for the fellows the night of the Pi
Ipsilon dinner," urged David.

"Very well," beamed Hippy. "Remember, to the singer belongs the food. I
always negotiate for refreshments before lifting up my voice in song."

"I will see that you are taken care of, Hippy," smiled Mrs. Harlowe, who
had come out on the veranda in time to hear Hippy's declaration.

"Hello, Mother dear," called Grace, "I didn't know you were there."

The young people were on their feet in an instant. Grace led her mother
to a chair. "Stay with us awhile, Mother," she said. "Hippy is going to
sing, and Nora, too."

"Then I shall surely stay," replied Mrs. Harlowe. "And after the songs
you must come into the house and be my guests. The table is set for
seven."

"How nice in you, Mother!" exclaimed Grace, kissing her mother's cheek.
"You are always doing the things that make people happy. Nora and Hippy,
please sing your very best for Mother. You first, Hippy, because I want
Nora to sing Tosti's 'Serenata,' and a comic song afterward will
completely spoil the effect."

Hippy sang two songs in his own inimitable fashion. Then Nora's sweet,
high soprano voice began the "Serenata" to the subdued tinkling
accompaniment of Reddy's mandolin. Two years in the conservatory had
done much for Nora's voice, though its plaintive sweetness had been her
natural heritage. As they listened to the clear, rounded tones, with
just a suspicion of sadness in them, the little company realized to a
person that Nora's hopes of becoming known in the concert or grand opera
world were quite likely to be fulfilled.

"How I wish Anne were here to-night," lamented Grace, after having
vigorously applauded Nora's song. "She loves to hear you sing, Nora."

"I know it," sighed Nora. "Dear little Anne! I'm so sorry we can't see
her before we go back to the conservatory. While we have been sitting
here singing and enjoying ourselves, Anne has been appearing in her
farewell performance. I am glad we had a chance to visit her this
summer, even though we had to cross the state to do it."

"She will be here to-morrow night, but we shall be at the end of our
journey by that time," lamented Jessica. "I wish we might stay and see
her, but we can't."

"Never mind, you will meet her at Christmas time, when the Eight
Originals gather home," comforted Miriam.

"But we'd like to see her now," interposed David mournfully. "What is
Oakdale without Anne?"

At that moment Mrs. Harlowe, who, after Nora's song, had excused herself
and gone into the house, appeared in the door.

"Come, children," she smiled, "the feast is spread."

"May I escort you to the table?" asked David gravely, offering her his
arm. Heading the little procession, they led the way to the dining room,
followed by Reddy and Jessica, Hippy and Nora, Grace, Tom and Miriam.

There for the next hour goodfellowship reigned supreme, and when at last
the various members of the little clan departed for home, each one
carried in his or her heart the conviction that Life could never offer
anything more desirable than these happy evenings which they had spent
together.

"I can't tell you how much I missed Anne to-night," said Grace to her
mother as, arm in arm, they stood on the veranda watching their guests
until they had turned the corner of the next street.

"We all missed her," replied her mother, "but I believe David felt her
absence even more keenly than we did. He is very fond of Anne. I wonder
if she realizes that he really loves her, and that he will some day tell
her so? She is such a quiet, self-contained little girl. Her emotions
are all kept for her work."

"I believe she does," said Grace. "She has never spoken of it to me.
David has been her faithful knight ever since her freshman year at high
school, so she ought to have a faint inkling of what the rest of us
know. I am sorry for David. Anne's art is a powerful rival, and she is
growing fonder of it with every season. If, after she finishes college,
she were to marry David, she would be obliged to give it up. Since the
Southards came into her life she has grown to love her profession so
dearly that I don't imagine she would sacrifice it even for David's
sake."

"It sounds rather strange to hear my little girl talking so wisely of
other people's love affairs," smiled Mrs. Harlowe almost wistfully.

"I know what you are thinking, Motherkin," responded Grace, slipping
both arms about her mother and drawing her gently into the big porch
swing. "You needn't be afraid, though. I don't feel in the least
sentimental over any one, not even Tom Gray, and I like him better than
any other young man I know. I am far more concerned over what to do once
I have finished college. I simply must work, but I haven't yet found my
vocation. Neither has Miriam. Jessica thinks she has found hers, but she
found Reddy first, and he does not intend that she shall lose sight of
him. Hippy and Nora are a great deal fonder of each other than appears
on the surface, too. Their disagreements are never private. Nora said
the other day that she and Hippy had had only one quarrel, and--this is
the funniest bit of news you ever heard, Mother--it was because Hippy
became jealous of a violinist Nora knows at the conservatory. Imagine
Hippy as being jealous!"

Grace talked on to her mother of her friends and of herself while Mrs.
Harlowe listened, thinking happily that she was doubly blessed in not
only her daughter, but in having that daughter's confidence as well.



CHAPTER II

THE ARRIVAL OF KATHLEEN


"There is a whole lot in getting accustomed to things," remarked J.
Elfreda Briggs sagely, as she stood with a hammer and nail in one hand,
a Japanese print in the other, her round eyes scanning the wall for an
appropriate place to hang her treasure.

"It's a beauty, isn't it?" declared Miriam, passing over her roommate's
remark and looking admiringly at the print, which her roommate had just
taken from her trunk.

"What, this?" asked Elfreda. "You'd better believe it is. Goodness knows
I paid enough for it. But I wasn't talking about this print. I was
talking about our present junior estate. What I wonder is, whether being
a junior will go to my head and make me vainglorious or whether I shall
wear the honor as a graceful crown," ended the stout girl with an
affected smile, which changed immediately to a derisive grin.

"I should say, neither," responded Miriam slyly. "I don't believe
anything would ever go to your head. You're too matter-of-fact, and as
for your graceful crown, it would be over one ear within half an hour."

Both girls laughed, then Elfreda, having found a spot on the wall that
met with her approval, set the nail and began hammering. "There!" she
exclaimed with satisfaction. "That is exactly where I want it. Now I can
begin to think about something else."

"I wonder why Grace and Anne haven't paid us a call this morning?" mused
Miriam, who sat listlessly before her trunk, apparently undecided
whether to begin the tedious labor of unpacking or to put it off until
some more convenient day.

"I'll go and find them," volunteered Elfreda, dropping her hammer and
turning toward the door. "They must be at home." Five minutes later she
raced back with the news that their door was locked and the "out
indefinitely" sign was displayed.

"That is very strange," pondered Miriam, aloud. "I wonder where they
have gone?"

"Why on earth didn't they tell us they were going? That's what I'd like
to know," declared Elfreda.

"Perhaps Mrs. Elwood knows something about it," suggested Miriam.

The mere mention of Mrs. Elwood's name caused Elfreda to dart through
the hall and downstairs to the living-room in search of the good-natured
matron. Failing to find her, she walked through the kitchen to the shady
back porch, where Mrs. Elwood sat rocking and reading the newspaper
which the newsboy had just brought.

"Oh, Mrs. Elwood," she cried, "have you seen Grace and Anne? We can't
find them."

"Didn't Miss Dean tell you?" asked Mrs. Elwood in a surprised tone.

"Miss Dean," repeated Elfreda disgustedly. "No wonder we didn't know
what had become of them. With all Emma's estimable qualities, she is the
one person I know whom I would not trust to deliver a message. I beg
your pardon, Mrs. Elwood, I didn't mean that you were in any sense to
blame. We ought to have warned you, only Emma is such a splendid girl
that one hates to mention a silly little thing like that. Just forget
that I said it, will you?"

Mrs. Elwood smiled. "I quite understand, Miss Briggs," she said gravely.
"The message Miss Harlowe left with me was this: 'If the girls ask where
we have gone, tell them that we received a telegram and had to go to the
station. All explanations when we come back.'"

"That settles it," groaned Elfreda. "We know only enough to whet our
curiosity. And we can't find out more unless we follow them to the
station. We can't do that, either. It would not look well. Besides, we
are not invited." Elfreda had been rapidly reflecting aloud, much to
Mrs. Elwood's amusement. "I'll have to go back and tell Miriam," she
finished.

"But why did they lock their door?" asked Miriam, when Elfreda had
repeated her information.

"I don't know," returned Elfreda thoughtfully. "Yes, I do know!" she
exclaimed with sudden inspiration. "I think Grace was afraid she might
have a repetition of last year's performance."

"'Last year's performance,'" repeated Miriam in a puzzled tone.

"Yes, don't you remember the Anarchist?" retorted Elfreda, with a
reminiscent grin.

"Of course!" exclaimed Miriam, laughing a little at the recollection.
"Wasn't she formidable, though, when she slammed the door in our faces?"

Elfreda nodded. "She is all right now. At least she was when she visited
me. I never saw a girl blossom and expand as she did. Pa liked her. He
thought she was smart. She is, too. She has lived so entirely with that
scientific father of hers that she has absorbed all sorts of odds and
ends of knowledge from him. That is why college and girls and the whole
thing terrified her."

"Terrified her," said Miriam incredulously. "I thought matters quite the
reverse."

"That was precisely what I thought until she told me that, no matter how
vengeful she looked, she was always afraid of the girls. She never
seemed to be able to say the right thing at the right moment. That was
why she used to scowl so fiercely when any one spoke or looked at her."

"I don't think it was altogether fear of the girls that caused her to
lock us out that day," observed Miriam, a gleam of laughter appearing in
her black eyes.

"I don't suppose it was," retorted Elfreda good-humoredly. "She says she
knows her disposition to be anything but angelic. But she is trying,
Miriam. You wait and see for yourself how the new Laura Atkins behaves."

"But to go back to the subject of the door, what makes you think Grace
locked it on account of last year?" persisted Miriam.

"Oh, I don't know," answered Elfreda vaguely. "I just thought so, that's
all."

"We'll ask her when she comes, just for fun," declared Miriam. "Why not
go downstairs and sit on the back veranda with Mrs. Elwood? We can hear
the girls as soon as they come into the yard."

"All right," agreed Elfreda. "Do you care if I take my magazine along? I
am not quite through with an article I began this morning."

"I object seriously," smiled Miriam. "I shall expect you to entertain
me. You can finish reading your article later."

Elfreda glanced up quickly from the magazine she held in her hand. Then,
catching sight of her friend's smiling face, she tucked her magazine
under one arm, linked her free arm through Miriam's and marched her
toward the stairs. They had reached the foot of the stairs and were half
way down the hall when the sound of voices caused both girls to stand
still, listening intently.

"That sounds like Grace's voice!" exclaimed Elfreda. With one accord
they turned about, hurrying to the veranda at the front of the house in
time to see Grace and Anne approaching. Both girls were laden with
luggage, while between them walked an alert little figure, tugging a bag
of golf sticks, a fat, black leather hand bag and a camera.

"What manner of woman have we here?" muttered Elfreda, regarding the
newcomer with quizzical eyes.

But before Miriam found time to reply the newcomer set her luggage in
the middle of the walk, and running up to Miriam and Elfreda, said with
a frank laugh: "This is Miriam and this is Elfreda. You see I know both
of you from Mabel's description."

"Who--what--" began Elfreda.

"Girls," said Grace, who had by this time come up with the animated
stranger, "this is Miss West, a friend of Mabel Ashe's. My telegram was
from Mabel asking me to meet Miss West, and as Anne and I were on the
porch when it came, and the train we were to meet was due, we didn't
stop for explanations or hats, but raced down the street as fast as we
could go."

While Grace was talking, Kathleen West was shaking hands vigorously with
Miriam and Elfreda. "I'm so glad to know you," she said, "and I think
I'm going to like you. I'm not so sure about liking college, even though
I've worked so hard to get here. I hope to goodness I don't flunk in the
exams."

"I am sure that any friend of Mabel's is bound to be ours also," said
Miriam courteously. She had not made up her mind regarding the newcomer.

"Thank you. From what she said I should imagine that you and she were on
very good terms," returned the stranger lightly. "Of course you know who
I am and all about me."

Grace smiled. "Not yet, but we are willing to hear anything you wish to
tell us."

"Oh, that's so!" exclaimed the stranger. "Mabel wrote about me, but her
letter hasn't reached you yet, and, of course, telegrams can't be very
lengthy unless you wish to spend a fortune or the office has a
franchise. There I go again about the office. I might as well tell the
truth and have done with it: I'm a newspaper woman."



CHAPTER III

FIRST IMPRESSIONS


Miriam smiled involuntarily, Grace looked surprised, Elfreda
indifferent, and Anne amused. The word "woman" seemed absurdly out of
place from the lips of this girl who looked as though she had just been
promoted to long dresses.

"Oh, yes, I know I look not more than eighteen," quickly remarked
Kathleen West, noticing Miriam's smile. "But I'm not. I'm twenty-two
years old, and I've been on a newspaper for four years. Why, that's the
way I earned my money to come here. I'll tell you about it some other
time. It's too long a story for now. Besides, I'm hungry. At what time
are we to be fed and are the meals good? I have no illusions regarding
boarding houses."

"The meals are excellent," replied Anne. "You must have dinner with us.
Then we will see about securing a room for you. I think you will be able
to get in here. This used to be considered a freshman house, but all
those who were freshmen with us have stayed on, and if last year's
freshmen stay, too, then Wayne Hall will be full and--"

"I won't get in," finished the young woman calmly.

"Come into the house now and meet Mrs. Elwood," invited Grace. "Then you
can learn your fate."

"Yes, I can just make room for you," Mrs. Elwood was saying a few
minutes later. "Miss Evans is not coming back, and Miss Acker is going
to Livingstone Hall. Her two particular friends are there. Miss Dean
wishes to room alone this year, so that disposes of the vacancy left by
Miss Acker. But the half of the room Miss Evans had is not occupied. It
is on the second floor at the east end of the hall."

"Then I'll take it," returned Kathleen promptly, "and move in at once. I
may not stay here long, but at least I'll be happy while I stay. But if
I should survive all these exams, there will be cause for rejoicing and
I'll give a frolic that you will all remember, or my name's not Kathleen
West. Is there any one who would love to help me upstairs with my
things?"

"Well, what do you think of her?" asked Elfreda abruptly. Having helped
Kathleen to her room with her luggage they had left her to herself and
were now in their own room. Miriam stood looking out the window, her
hands behind her back. At Elfreda's question she turned, looked
thoughtfully at her roommate, then said slowly: "I don't know. I haven't
decided. She's friendly and enthusiastic and hard and indifferent all in
the same moment. I think her work has made her so. I believe she has
hidden her inner self away so deep that she has forgotten what the real
Kathleen is like."

"I believe so, too, Miriam," agreed Elfreda. "I could see that you
weren't favorably impressed with her. I could see--"

"You see entirely too much," laughed Miriam. "I haven't even formed an
opinion of Miss West yet. I wonder how long she has known Mabel Ashe?
Not very long, I'll wager."

An hour later Grace appeared in the door, waving a letter. "Here's
Mabel's letter!" she cried. "Come into my room, and we will read it."

"The letter was not far behind the telegram," remarked Anne, as she
closed the door of their room and seated herself on the couch beside
Miriam.

"Do hurry, Grace, and read us what Mabel has to offer on the subject of
Kathleen Mavourneen--West, I mean," corrected Elfreda with a giggle.

Grace unfolded the letter and began to read:

     "MY DEAR GRACE:--

     "Please forgive me for neglecting you so shamefully, but I am now
     wrestling with a real job on a real newspaper and am so occupied
     with trying to keep it that I haven't had time to think of anything
     else. Father is deeply disgusted with my journalistic efforts. He
     wished me to go to Europe this summer, but the light of ambition
     burns too vividly to be quenched even by my beloved Europe. When
     next I go abroad it will be with my own hard-earned wages.

     "I haven't done anything startling yet; I have been chronicling
     faithfully the doings of society. As most of the elect are out of
     town, my news gathering has not been in the nature of a harvest.
     However, I am still striving, still hoping for the day when I shall
     leave society far behind and sally forth on the trail of a big
     story.

     "But, I am diverging from one of the chief purposes of this letter.
     It is to introduce to you Kathleen West, an ambitious and
     particularly clever young woman, who is a 'star' reporter on this
     paper. It seems that she and I have changed ambitions. I sigh for
     journalistic fame, and she sighs for college. She has done more
     than sigh. She has been saving her money for ever so long,
     determined to take unto herself a college education. I admire her
     spirit and have praised Overton so warmly--how could I help
     it?--that she has decided to cast her lot there. Hence my telegram,
     also this letter. Please be as nice with her as you know how to be,
     for I am sure she will prove herself a credit to Overton.

     "I shall hope to see you some time during the fall. I am going to
     try to get a day or two off and run down to see you. Tell Anne the
     Press is greater than the Stage, and tell Elfreda and Miriam that I
     am collecting the autographs of famous people and that theirs would
     be greatly appreciated, particularly if attached to letters. I must
     bring this epistle to an abrupt close, and go out on the trail of
     an engagement, the rumor of which was whispered to me last night.
     With love to you and the girls.

     "MABEL.

     "P. S. Frances sails for home next week."

"What a nice letter," commented Elfreda. "It is just like her, isn't
it!"

"Yes," replied Grace slowly. "Girls, do you suppose Mabel and Miss West
are really friends?"

"Not as we are," replied Miriam, with a positive shake of her head.
"Elfreda and I were talking of that very thing while you were in your
room. Elfreda said she didn't believe that Mabel had known Miss West
long."

"What is the matter with us?" asked Grace, a trifle impatiently. "Here
we are prowling about the bush, trying to conceal under polite inquiry
the fact that we don't quite approve of Miss West. We would actually
like to dig up something to criticize."

"There is nothing like absolute freedom of speech, is there?" said
Elfreda, with a short laugh.

"It is true, though," said Grace stoutly. "It isn't fair, either. She
has done nothing to deserve it. Besides, Mabel likes her."

"Mabel doesn't say in her letter that she likes her," reminded Anne.
"She says Miss West is clever and that she admires her spirit."

"You, too, Anne?" said Grace reproachfully.

"I don't like her," declared Elfreda belligerently. "If it weren't for
Mabel's letter I'd leave her strictly to her own devices."

"We ought to be ashamed of ourselves!" exclaimed Grace. "We have met
Miss West with smiles, and here we are discussing her behind her back."

"I didn't meet her with smiles," contradicted Elfreda. "I was as sober
as a judge all the time we stood talking to her. She is too flippant to
suit me. She doesn't take college very seriously. I could see that."

"There goes the dinner bell!" exclaimed Grace, with sudden irrelevance
to the subject of the newspaper girl. "Let us stop gossiping and go to
dinner."

At dinner Grace was not sorry to note that Kathleen West had been placed
at the end of the table farthest from her. Through the meal she found
her eyes straying often toward the erect little figure of the newcomer,
who, exhibiting not a particle of reserve, chatted with the girls
nearest to her with the utmost unconcern. "I suppose her newspaper
training has made her self-possessed and not afraid of strangers,"
reflected Grace. But she could not refrain from secretly wondering a
little just how strong a friendship existed between Kathleen West and
Mabel.



CHAPTER IV

GETTING ACQUAINTED WITH THE NEWSPAPER GIRL


"It was just this way," began Kathleen West, setting down her tea cup
and looking impressively from one girl to the other, "Long before I
graduated from high school I had made up my mind to go to college. Now
that I have passed my exams and have become a really truly freshman,
I'll tell you all about it."

Elfreda and Miriam were giving a tea party with Grace, Anne and Kathleen
West as their guests. It was a strictly informal tea and both hostesses
and guests sat on the floor in true Chinese fashion, kimono-clad and
comfortable. A week had passed since Kathleen's advent among them. She
had spent the greater part of that time either in study or in valiant
wrestling with the dreaded entrance examinations, but she had managed,
nevertheless, to drop into the girls' rooms at least once a day. In
spite of the almost unfavorable impression she had at first created, it
was impossible not to acknowledge that the newspaper girl possessed a
vividly interesting personality. As she sat wrapped in the folds of her
gray kimono, arms folded over her chest, she looked not unlike a
feminine Napoleon. Elfreda's quick eyes traced the resemblance.

"You look for all the world like Napoleon," she observed bluntly.

"Thank you," returned Kathleen with mock gratitude. "I can't imagine
Napoleon in a gray kimono at a tea party, but I feel imbued with a
certain amount of his ambition. By the way, would any of you like to
hear the rest of my story?" she asked impudently. "I'm rather fond of
telling it."

"Excuse me for interrupting," apologized Elfreda. "Go on, please."

"Where was I?" asked Kathleen. "Oh, yes, I remember. Well, as soon as I
had fully determined to go to college, I began to save every penny on
which I could honestly lay hands. I went without most of the school-girl
luxuries that count for so much just at that time. You girls know what I
mean. Mother and Father didn't wish me to go to college. They planned a
course in stenography and typewriting for me after I should finish high
school, and when I pleaded for college they were angry and disappointed.
They argued, too, that they couldn't possibly afford to send me there.
As soon as I saw that I was going to have trouble with them, I kept my
own counsel, but I was more determined than ever to do as I pleased. At
the beginning of the vacation before my senior year in high school I
went to the only daily paper in our town and asked for work. The editor,
who had known me since I was a baby, gave me a chance. Father and Mother
made no objection to that. They thought it was merely a whim on my part.
But it wasn't a whim, as they found out later, for I wrote stuff for the
paper during my senior year, too, and when I did graduate I turned the
house upside down by getting a position on a newspaper in a big city.
Father and Mother forgave me after awhile, but not until I had been at
work on the other paper for a year.

"At first I did society, then clubs, went back to society again, and at
last my opportunity came to do general reporting. I was the only woman
on the staff who had a chance to go after the big stories. I have been
doing that only the last two years, though.

"Naturally, I made more money on the paper than I would as a
stenographer. I saved it, too. It was ever so much harder to hang on to
it in the city. There were so many more ways to spend it. But I kept on
putting it away, and, now, by going back on the paper every summer, I
will have enough to see me through college."

"But why do you wish so much for a college education when you are
already successful as a newspaper woman?" asked Elfreda.

"Because I want to be an author, or an editor, or somebody of importance
in the literary world, and I need these four years at college. Besides,
it's a good thing to bear the college stamp if one expects always to be
before the public," was the prompt retort.

"Suppose you were to find afterward that you weren't going to be before
the public," said Elfreda almost mischievously.

"But I shall be," persisted Kathleen, setting her jaws with a little
snap. "I always accomplish whatever I set out to do. On the paper they
used to say, 'Kathleen would sacrifice her best friend if by doing it
she could scoop the other papers.'"

"What do you mean by 'scoop the other papers'?" queried Elfreda
interestedly.

"Why, to get ahead of them with a story," explained Kathleen. "Suppose I
found out an important piece of news that no one else knew. If I gave it
to my paper and it appeared in it before any other newspaper got hold of
it then that would be a scoop."

"Oh, yes, I see," returned Elfreda. "Then a scoop might be news about
anything."

"Exactly," nodded Kathleen. "The harder the news is to get, the better
story it makes. People won't tell one anything, and when one does find
out something startling, then there are always a few persons who make a
fuss and try to keep the story out of the paper. They generally have
such splendid excuses for not wanting a story published. I never paid
any attention to them, though. I turned in every story I ever ran down,"
she concluded, her small face setting in harsh lines.

"But didn't that make some of the people about whom the stories were
written very unhappy?" asked Miriam pointedly.

"I suppose so," answered Kathleen. "But I never stopped to bother about
them. I had to think of myself and of my paper."

"How long have you known Mabel Ashe?" asked Grace, abruptly changing the
subject. Something in the cold indifference of Kathleen's voice jarred
on her.

"Just since she appeared on the paper," returned Kathleen unconcernedly.
"She is very pretty, isn't she? But prettiness alone doesn't count for
much on a newspaper. Can she make good? That is the question. She
imagines that journalism is her vocation, but I am afraid she is going
to be sadly disillusioned. She seems to be a clever girl, though."

"Clever," repeated Grace with peculiar emphasis. "She is the cleverest
girl we know. While she was at Overton, she was the life of the college.
Everyone loved her. I can't begin to tell you how much we miss her."

"It's very nice to be missed, I am sure," said Kathleen hastily,
retreating from what appeared to be dangerous ground. "I hope I shall be
eulogized when I have graduated from Overton."

"That will depend largely on your behavior as a freshman," drawled
Elfreda.

"What do you mean?" asked Kathleen sharply. "I thought freshmen were of
the least importance in college."

"So they are to the other classes," returned Elfreda. "They are of the
greatest importance to themselves, however, and if they make false
starts during their freshman year it is likely to handicap them through
the other three."

"Much obliged for the information," declared Kathleen flippantly. "I'll
try not to make any false starts. Good gracious! It is half-past ten. I
had no idea it was so late. I've had a lovely time at your tea party.
I'm going to send out invitations for a social gathering before long."
She rose lazily to her feet, and carefully set her cup on the table. "I
suppose Miss Ainslee will be sound asleep," she remarked, yawning.
"Lighting the gas will awaken her and she will be cross. She goes to bed
with the chickens."

"Don't light it, then," suggested Grace. "You can see to undress with
the blind up. There is full moon to-night."

"Why shouldn't I light it?" asked Kathleen. "Half of the room is mine. I
wouldn't grumble if the case were reversed. She will soon grow used to
the light. I intend occasionally to read or study after hours. Don't
tell me it is against the rules. I know it. But circumstances, etc. I'll
see you to-morrow. I wish I were a junior. The freshmen I have met so
far are regular babies. I'm going to study hard next summer and see if I
can't pass up the sophomore year. There is nothing like having a modest
ambition, you know."

With this satirical comment the newspaper girl nodded a pert good night
and left the room.

No one spoke after she had gone.

"I must go to bed," said Grace, breaking the significant silence that
had fallen on the quartette. "Come, Anne, it's twenty minutes to eleven.
Good night, girls."

"What do you think of Miss West, Anne?" asked Grace a little later as
they were preparing to retire.

"I don't like to say," returned Anne slowly. "She's remarkably
bright--" Anne paused. Her eyes met Grace's.

"I know," nodded Grace understandingly. "We will try to keep a starboard
eye on her. She is going to find college very different from being a
newspaper woman." Grace smiled faintly. The word "woman," as applied to
Kathleen West, seemed wholly amusing.

"I don't think she showed particularly good taste in speaking as she did
of Mabel Ashe," criticized Anne, a moment later. "I didn't intend to say
that, but I might as well be perfectly frank with you, Grace."

"I was sorry she spoke as she did, too," agreed Grace. She did not add
that the newspaper girl's half slighting remarks about Mabel Ashe still
rankled in her loyal soul. It was chiefly to please Mabel that she and
her friends had hospitably received this stranger into their midst,
prepared to do whatever lay within their power to make her feel at home
with them. And she had dared to speak almost disparagingly of the girl
who was beloved by every student in Overton who knew her. In spite of
her resolution to keep a "starboard eye" on the freshman, Grace felt
infinitely more like leaving the ungrateful freshman to shift for
herself.

"Well, what about her?" Elfreda asked bluntly of Miriam, as she piled
the tea cups one inside the other.

"What about who?" returned Miriam tantalizingly.

"You know very well" declared Elfreda; "but, if I must be explicit, what
do you think of Miss West now?"

"What do you think?" counter-questioned Miriam.

"I think she has more to learn than I had when I came here," said
Elfreda speculatively, "and unless I am very much mistaken it will take
her longer to learn it."



CHAPTER V

TWO IS A COMPANY


"Grace! Grace Harlowe!" called a clear, high voice. On hearing her name,
Grace, who was on the point of entering the library, turned to greet
Arline Thayer, who came running up the walk, flushed and laughing.

"Did you say you had won prizes as a champion fast walker?" she inquired
laughingly. "I saw you clear across the campus, and I've been running at
top speed ever since. I had just breath enough left to call to you.
Where have you been hiding? I haven't seen you for ages. Ruth thinks you
have deserted her. Don't bother going to the library now. Suppose we go
down to Vinton's and have luncheon. Have you eaten yours? I never eat
luncheon at Morton Hall on Saturday afternoon."

"I'll answer your questions in the order they were asked," laughed
Grace. "No, I am not a champion fast walker. I haven't been hiding, and
I still live at Wayne Hall, though a certain young person I know has
evidently forgotten it. Ruth owes me a visit, and I haven't had my
luncheon. You mustn't tempt me from my duty, for I am on the trail of
knowledge. I must spend at least two hours this afternoon looking up a
multitude of references."

"Come and have luncheon first and look up your references afterward,"
coaxed Arline. "Then, perhaps, I can help you," she added artfully.

"Perhaps you can," returned Grace dubiously. Their eyes meeting, both
girls laughed.

"Come with me, at any rate, then," declared Arline.

"All right. Remember, I must not stay away from work over an hour. I
really have a great deal to do. Isn't it a glorious day, though? Elfreda
and Miriam went for a five-mile tramp. Elfreda is determined to play
basketball in spite of her junior responsibilities, therefore she is
obliged to train religiously."

"Who is going to play on the junior team this year?" asked Arline.

"Elizabeth Wade, and that little Tenbrook girl, Marian Cummings, Elfreda
and Violet Darby make the team. Neither Miriam nor I intend to play.
Elfreda begged hard, but we thought it better to stay out of the team
this year. We have played basketball so long, and having been in two big
games, it is time we resigned gracefully; besides, I want to see Elfreda
reap the benefit of her faithful practice and distinguish herself. She
has tried so hard to make the team."

"I am glad Elfreda is to have her chance," smiled Arline. "We are sure
to see her make the most of it. I'm sorry now that I never went in for
basketball."

"It is a wonderful old game!" exclaimed Grace with enthusiasm. "Last
year was my sixth year on a team. I was captain of our freshman
basketball team at home. That reminds me, Arline, aren't you and Ruth
coming home with me for the Easter vacation? I am asking you early so no
one else will have a chance. I know it is useless to ask you to come for
Christmas."

"I think I can come for Easter," replied Arline, "and I don't know of
any reason why Ruth can't. I shall write to Father at once and ask him
if we can go. I want to tell you something, Grace--confidentially, of
course. Father is very fond of Ruth. He and I had a talk this summer,
and he wishes to adopt her. Just think of having Ruth for my very own
sister!" Arline paused, her eyes shining.

Grace nodded understandingly. "What does Ruth say?" she asked.

Arline's face clouded. "She doesn't say anything except that she thinks
it better for her to go on in her own way. She is the queerest girl. She
seems to think that it wouldn't be right to allow Father to adopt her
and take care of her. She says she has everything she needs now, and
that I have been far too good to her. Father and I simply made her spend
the summer with us."

"Wouldn't it be wonderful if Ruth should find her father?" said Grace
musingly.

"I don't believe she ever will," returned Arline. "It's too bad." Her
flower-like face looked very solemn for a moment, then brightened as she
exclaimed: "Oh, I almost forgot my principal reason for wishing to see
you. The Semper Fidelis Club hasn't held a meeting this year, and we
must begin to busy ourselves. I have heard of five different girls who
need help, but are too proud to ask for it. I am sure there are dozens
of others, too. We must find some way to reach and help them. We have
plenty of money in our treasury now, and we can afford to be generous.
Here we are at Vinton's. Shall we sit in the mission alcove for
luncheon? I love it. It is so convenient when one wishes to indulge in
strictly confidential conversation."

Once seated opposite each other in the cunning little alcove furnished
in mission oak, Arline continued animatedly:

"Last spring, when we talked about giving an entertainment, you proposed
giving a carnival in the fall. Well, it is fall now, so why not begin
making plans for our carnival! What shall we have, and what do we do to
draw a crowd?"

"We held a bazaar in Oakdale that was very successful," commented Grace.
"We held it on Thanksgiving night and half the town attended it. We made
over five hundred dollars. I think a bazaar would be better than a
carnival." Grace did not add that the money had been stolen while the
bazaar was at its height and not recovered until the following spring,
by no other person than herself.

Those who have read "Grace Harlowe's Senior Year at High
School" will remember the mysterious disappearance of the bazaar
money and the untiring zeal with which Grace worked until she found a
clew to the robbery, which led to the astonishing discovery that she
made in an isolated house on the outskirts of Oakdale.

During the progress of the luncheon Grace gave Arline a detailed account
of the various attractions of which their bazaar had boasted.

"We can ask some girl who sings to preside at the Shamrock booth and
sing Irish songs as Nora O'Malley did," planned Grace. "We can't have
the Mystery Auction, because we don't care to ask the girls for
packages, and we can't have the Italian booth, either, it would be too
hard to arrange, but we can have a gypsy camp and a Japanese booth and
an English tea shop and two or three funny little shows. The best thing
to do is to call a meeting of the club and put the matter before them.
Almost every girl will know of some feature we can have."

"I suppose the dean will allow us to use the gymnasium," mused Arline.
"We had better get permission first of all. Then we can call our
meeting."

Grace looked at her watch. "I've stayed ten minutes over my hour,
Arline," she reminded the little curly-haired girl.

"Never mind," was the calm reply, "you can stay ten minutes longer in
the library. Oh, Grace, don't look at her now, but who is that girl just
sitting down at that end table? I am sure she lives at Wayne Hall. Some
one told me she was a freshman."

"If you had been calling faithfully on the Wayne Hall girls, you
wouldn't need to be told the names of the new ones," flung back Grace.
Then, allowing her gaze to slowly travel about the room, her eyes rested
as though by chance on the girl designated by Arline. An instant later
she had bowed to the newcomer in friendly fashion.

"Who is she?" murmured Arline, her eyes fixed upon Grace.

"Her name is Kathleen West," returned Grace in a low tone. "Don't say
anything more. Here she comes."

Kathleen was approaching their table, a bored look on her small, sharp
face. "How are you?" she said nonchalantly. "I thought I'd come over
here. Having tea alone is dull. Don't you think so?"

Arline's blue eyes rested on the intruder for the fraction of a second.
She resented the intrusion.

"Miss West, this is Miss Thayer, of the junior class," introduced Grace
good-naturedly. Both girls bowed. There was an awkward silence, broken
by Kathleen's abrupt, "I knew I had seen you before, Miss Thayer," to
Arline.

"That is quite possible," said Arline, rather stiffly. "I believe I
remember passing you on the campus."

"Oh, I don't mean here at Overton," drawled Kathleen. "I saw you in New
York with your father last summer."

"With my father?" was Arline's surprised interrogation.

"Yes. Isn't Leonard B. Thayer your father?"

"Why, how did you know? Have you met my father?" Arline's blue eyes
opened wider.

"I've seen him," said Kathleen laconically. "I tried to interview him
once, but couldn't get past his secretary."

"Miss West is a newspaper woman, Arline," explained Grace. "That is, she
was one. She has deserted her paper for Overton, however."

"How interesting," responded Arline courteously. "Do you like college,
Miss West?"

"Fairly well," answered Kathleen. "It doesn't really matter whether I
like it or not. I am here for business, not pleasure. Perhaps Miss
Harlowe has told you how I happened to be here."

"Miss Thayer and I had some weighty class matters to discuss," said
Grace, smiling a little. "We weren't talking of any one in particular.
Miss Thayer did inquire your name when she saw me bow to you. I answered
just as you came toward us," added Grace honestly.

"I knew you were talking about me," declared Kathleen flippantly. "One
can always feel when one is being discussed."

A quick flush rose to Grace's cheeks. Usually tolerant toward everyone,
she felt a decided resentment stir within her at this cold-blooded
assertion that she and Arline had been gossiping.

Arline's blue eyes sent forth a distinctly hostile glance. "You were
mistaken, Miss West," she said coldly. "What was said of you was
entirely impersonal."

"Oh, I don't doubt that in the least," Kathleen hastened to say. She had
decided that the daughter of Leonard B. Thayer was worth cultivating. "I
am sorry you misunderstood me; but do you know, when you made that last
remark you looked as your father did the day he wouldn't tell me a thing
I wanted to know." Kathleen's sharp features were alive with the
interest of discovery.

Despite their brief annoyance Grace and Arline both laughed. Kathleen
took instant advantage of the situation. "Suppose we order another pot
of tea," she said hospitably.

It was fully half an hour later when the three girls left Vinton's.

"Oh, my neglected references," sighed Grace. "I must not lose another
minute of the afternoon. Which way are you girls going?"

"I think I'll go as far as the library with you, Grace," decided Arline.
The interruption by Kathleen had greatly interfered with her plans.

"I might as well go with you," remarked Kathleen innocently. "I have
nothing to do this afternoon."

A little frown wrinkled Arline's smooth forehead. Grace, equally
disappointed, managed to conceal her annoyance. Then, accepting the
situation in the best possible spirit, she slipped her hand through
Arline's arm, at the same time giving it a warning pressure. During the
walk to the library Kathleen endeavored to make herself particularly
agreeable to Arline, a method of procedure that was not lost upon Grace.
Later as she delved industriously among half a dozen dignified volumes
for the material of which she stood in need, Kathleen's pale, sharp
face, with its thin lips and alert eyes, rose before her, and, for the
first time, she admitted reluctantly to herself that her dislike for the
ambitious little newspaper girl was very real indeed.



CHAPTER VI

AN UNSUSPECTED LISTENER


"Those in favor of giving a bazaar on the Saturday afternoon and evening
of November fifteenth say 'aye,'" directed Arline Thayer.

A chorus of ayes immediately resounded.

"Contrary, 'no,'" continued Arline.

There was a dead silence.

"Carried," declared the energetic little president. "Please, everyone
think hard and try to advance an idea for a feature inside of the next
ten minutes."

The twelve young women known as the Semper Fidelis Club were holding a
business meeting in Grace Harlowe's and Anne Pierson's, room. The two
couch beds had been placed in a kind of semicircle and eight members of
the club were seated on them. The other three young women sat on
cushions on the floor, while Arline presided at the center table, which
had been placed several feet in front of the members.

"The meeting is open for suggestions," repeated Arline after two minutes
had elapsed and not a word had been said. "If any one has a suggestion,
she may tell us without addressing the chair. We will dispense with
formality," she added encouragingly. "Of course, we know we are going to
have the gypsy encampment and the Irish booth and the Japanese tea room,
but we want some really startling features."

"We might have an 'Alice in Wonderland' booth," suggested Elfreda.
"'Alice' stunts always go in colleges. The girls are never tired of
them."

"What on earth is an 'Alice in Wonderland booth'?" asked Gertrude Wells
curiously.

"I don't know what it is yet," grinned Elfreda. "The idea just came to
me. I suppose," she continued reflectively, "we could have all the
animals, like the March Hare, for instance, and the Dormouse. Then
there's the Mock Turtle and the Jabberwock. No, that's been done to
death. Besides, it's in 'Through the Looking Glass.' We could have the
Griffon, though, and then, there's the Duchess, the King, the Queen, and
the Mad Hatter. I'd love to do the Mad Hatter." Elfreda paused, eyeing
the little group quizzically.

"I think that's a brilliant idea, Elfreda!" exclaimed Grace warmly.

"Great!" exulted three or four girls, in lively chorus.

"I'll tell you what we could have," cried one of the Emerson twins. "Why
not make it an 'Alice in Wonderland Circus,' and have all the animals
perform?"

"We are growing more brilliant with every minute," laughed Arline. "That
is a positive inspiration, Sara."

"A circus will exactly fill the bill. It is sure to be the biggest
feature the Overton girls have ever spent their money to see," predicted
Elfreda gleefully. "Ruth Denton, you will have to be the Dormouse."

"Oh, I can't," blushed Ruth.

"Oh, you can," mimicked Elfreda. "I'll help you plan your costume."

"Will the club please come to order," called Arline, for a general buzz
of conversation had begun. "We shall have to choose part of our animals
from outside the club. We can't all be in the circus. Grace and Miriam
are going to dress as gypsies. Julia and Sara," smiling at the
black-eyed twins, who looked precisely alike and were continually being
mistaken for each other, "are going to be Japanese ladies, aren't you,
girls?"

The twins nodded emphatically.

"Those in favor of an Alice in Wonderland Circus please say 'aye,'"
dutifully stated Arline. The motion was quickly carried. "That is only
one feature," she reminded. "This meeting is open for further
suggestions. Let us have the suggestions first, then we can discuss them
in detail afterward."

After considerable hard thinking, a "bauble shop," a postcard booth, and
a doll shop were added. The latter idea was Ruth Denton's. "Now that it
is fall, Christmas isn't so very far off. Almost every girl has a little
sister or a niece or a friend to whom she intends to give a doll," she
said almost wistfully. "We could pledge ourselves to contribute one doll
at least, and as many more as we please. Then we could draw on the
treasury for a certain sum and invest it in dolls. We could dress a few
of them as college girls, too. I'm willing to use part of my spare time
to help the good work along. Perhaps it wouldn't be a success," she
faltered.

"Success!" exclaimed Arline, stumbling over Gertrude Wells's feet and
treating Ruth to an affectionate hug. "I think it's perfectly lovely. We
can have a live doll, too. Do any of you know that exquisite little
freshman with the big blue eyes who rooms at Mortimer Hall?"

"I do. Her name is Myra Stone," responded Julia Emerson. "She looks like
a big doll, doesn't she!"

"She does," commented Arline. "That is precisely what I was thinking.
Dressed as a live doll and placed on exhibition in the middle of the
booth, she would prove a drawing card. Will you ask her to meet us at
the gymnasium on Monday at five o'clock? We will try to see the others
we want for the bazaar before Monday. We had better decide now just who
is going to be left over for the circus."

"There is only one objection to little Miss Stone," said Gertrude Wells
thoughtfully. "She is a freshman. I am afraid this mark of upper class
favor may cause jealousy."

"The freshmen ought to be glad one of their class is to have the honor
of being chosen," retorted Grace, opening her gray eyes in surprise.

"They ought to, but they won't be," predicted Gertrude dryly. "There are
a number of revolutionary spirits among the freshmen this year. That
queer little West girl, who styles herself a 'newspaper woman' and looks
like a wicked little elf, is the ringleader."

"She is very bright, Gertrude, and she deserves a great deal of credit
for the way she has worked and studied to fit herself for college,"
defended Grace, her old love of fair play coming to the surface.

"That may all be so. I believe it is, if you say so, Grace, but why
doesn't she display common sense enough to settle down and obey the
rules of the college? She doesn't transgress the study rules, but she is
lawless when it comes to the others. Besides, she runs roughshod over
traditions, and all that they imply. She--well--" Gertrude hesitated,
then, flushing slightly, stopped.

"You mean she is tricky, don't you?" asked Elfreda promptly. "I could
see that before I talked with her five minutes."

Grace shook her head disapprovingly at Elfreda. Something in her glance
caused Elfreda to subside suddenly.

"If there is no further business of which to dispose, will some one make
a motion that we adjourn!" asked Arline quietly.

The motion was made and seconded, but before any one had time to step
into the hall, a slight figure flitted from her position before the
almost closed door, and disappeared into the room at the end of the
hall.

"We must be sure and see the dean as soon as we can, Arline," called
Grace after Arline, who was hurrying down the hall to overtake Ruth.

"I'll see her to-morrow afternoon," assured Arline, with a parting wave
of her hand as she disappeared down the stairs.

"And I'll make it my business to see her to-morrow morning," muttered
Kathleen West vindictively, who, standing well within the shadow of her
own door at the end of the hall, had heard the remark and the reply.
"Who knows but that the Semper Fidelis Club may not be able to give
their great bazaar after all. They certainly won't if I can prevent
them. I'll never forgive them for discussing me as they have this
afternoon." There was an unpleasant light in the newspaper girl's eyes,
as, closing the door of her room, she went to her desk and opening it,
sat down before it, picking up her pen. After a little thought she began
to write, and when she had finished what seemed to be an extremely short
letter, she slipped it into the envelope with a smile of malicious
satisfaction. She had found a way to retaliate.



CHAPTER VII

AN UNPLEASANT SUMMONS


"Here's a letter for you, Grace," called Elfreda, who had run downstairs
ahead of Grace to survey the contents of the house bulletin board before
going in to breakfast.

Grace surveyed the envelope critically, tore it open and unfolded the
sheet of paper inside. In another moment a little cry of consternation
escaped her.

"What's the matter?" asked Elfreda curiously, trying to peer over her
shoulder.

"It--it's a summons from the dean," said Grace a trifle unsteadily.
"What do you suppose it means?"

"Nothing very serious," declared Elfreda confidently. "How can it? Think
over your past misdeeds and see if you can discover any reason for a
summons."

Grace shook her head. "No," she said slowly. "I can't think of a single,
solitary thing."

"Then don't worry about it," was Elfreda's comforting advice. "Whatever
it is, you are ready for it."

As Grace entered the dean's office that morning a vague feeling of
apprehension rose within her. The dean, a stately, dark-haired woman
with a rather forbidding expression, which disappeared the moment she
smiled, glanced up with a flash of approval at the fine, resolute face
of the gray-eyed girl who walked straight to her and said firmly, "Good
morning, Miss Wilder."

"Good morning, Miss Harlowe," returned the dean quietly. Then picking up
a letter that lay on the middle of her desk, she said gravely: "I
received a very peculiar letter this morning, Miss Harlowe, and as it
concerns not only you, but a number of your friends as well, I thought
it better to send for you. You may throw light upon what at present
seems obscure."

Grace mechanically stretched forth her hand for the open letter and
read:--

     "When giving an entertainment in any of the halls or in the
     gymnasium, is it not usually customary, not to say courteous, to
     ask permission of the president of the college or the dean
     beforehand? The young women whose names appear on the enclosed
     list evidently do not consider any such permission necessary.
     For the past week preparations for a bazaar have been going
     briskly forward, to be held in the gymnasium on the evening of
     November ----. For inside information inquire of Miss Harlowe.

     "A WELL WISHER."

Grace read the note through twice, then, looking squarely at the dean,
she said: "May I see the enclosed list?" The dean handed her a smaller
slip of paper on which appeared the names of the girls who had been
present at the meeting in her room. Grace scanned the slip earnestly.
Her color rose slightly as she returned it to Miss Wilder.

"The names on this list are the names of the young women who belong to
the Semper Fidelis Club. After the concert last spring it was partly
decided to give a bazaar the following autumn. The other day the club
met in my room to talk over the matter. As we were all in favor of
giving one, the meeting was open for the discussion of ideas for
attractive features. Finally something was proposed that was so very
clever we couldn't help adopting it. I assure you, Miss Wilder, we had
no thought of doing anything definite about the bazaar without first
obtaining proper permission to give it and to use the gymnasium as our
field of operation. In fact, Miss Thayer promised me on the afternoon of
the meeting that she would see you the following afternoon. She is the
president of the club. I haven't seen her since then." Grace paused,
looking worried.

"Miss Thayer has not been here," returned Miss Wilder kindly. "However,
your explanation is sufficient, Miss Harlowe. I am reasonably sure that
the writer of this letter has either misunderstood the situation, or has
been misinformed. To be candid, very little credence can be placed on
the information contained in an anonymous letter. In fact, my reason for
sending for you had to do with that, rather than the implied charge the
letter makes. I wish you to examine this handwriting," she touched the
letter which Grace still held in hand. "Do you recognize it?"

There was a slight interval of silence. Grace devoted herself to the
examination of the letter and the slip of paper. Then, handing it to the
dean, she said frankly: "I have no recollection of having seen this
handwriting before to-day."

The dean folded the letter, placed the list of names inside its folds
and returned it to the envelope. "This is the first anonymous letter
that has ever been brought to my notice," she said gravely. "I trust it
will be the last. It is hard to believe that a student of Overton would
resort to such petty spite, for that seems to be its keynote. It is
practically impossible, however, to find the writer among so many
girls."

Grace would have liked to say that this was not the first anonymous
letter that had been brought to her notice. The ghost of a disturbing,
unsigned note that had almost wrecked Elfreda's freshman happiness rose
and walked before her. Could it be possible that the same hand had
written the second note? Grace was startled at her own thought.

"May I see the note again, Miss Wilder?" she asked soberly. This time
she scrutinized the writing even more closely. There was something
familiar, yet unfamiliar, about the formation of the letters. Finally
she handed it back. "It is a mystery to me," she said, with a little
sigh. "I am so glad you understood about the bazaar."

Before the dean could reply the click of approaching heels was heard. A
moment later a light knock sounded on the door. At a nod from the dean,
Grace opened it, and stood face to face with Arline Thayer.

"Why, Grace Harlowe!" she exclaimed in her sweet, high voice. "I didn't
know you were here. Did you get my message? Good afternoon, Miss
Wilder," she added, following Grace inside the office.

"Good afternoon, Miss Thayer," smiled Miss Wilder, indicating a chair,
which Arline accepted.

"I owe you and the Semper Fidelis Club an apology for not having
delivered their message. I spent yesterday nursing a headache and was
not able to attend any of my classes. Miss Harlowe has already asked
your permission to hold a bazaar in the gymnasium, I believe."

"Yes," returned Miss Wilder pleasantly. "I am willing to allow the
Semper Fidelis Club carte blanche for one night. I approve warmly of
both the club and its object. I shall, of course, ask formal permission
of the president, but that need not necessarily delay your plans. The
concert given by your club last year was a most enjoyable affair and
proved very profitable to the club, did it not?"

Grace answered in the affirmative. "We were fortunate in being able to
secure Savelli, the virtuoso," she replied. "It was by the merest chance
that he happened to have that one evening free. His daughter, Eleanor,
who is one of my dear friends, and I telephoned to New York City to ask
him to play for us. We saved him until last as a surprise number."

"The audience fully appreciated his playing," returned Miss Wilder. "To
hear the great Savelli was an unexpected privilege. I shall look forward
to your bazaar with pleasurable anticipation and I wish you success."

Grace looked searchingly into the smiling, dark eyes of the dean.

"Thank you so much, Miss Wilder," she said earnestly. "I felt sure you
would understand."

"We should like Professor Morton to open the bazaar, and would
appreciate a speech from you also," added Arline.

"I shall be pleased to help the club in any way I can," assured Miss
Wilder graciously as the two girls were about to leave the office. "I am
certain that Professor Morton will echo my sentiments." Something in the
older woman's quiet tones made Grace feel that the anonymous letter had
entirely failed in its object.



CHAPTER VIII

ELFREDA PROPHESIES TROUBLE


Not until the two girls were well outside did either venture to speak.
Then their eyes met. "Did you receive my message?" asked Arline
abruptly.

"Your message," repeated Grace. "No, I didn't receive any message. By
whom did you send it?"

"Emma Dean," declared Arline. "She was at Morton House yesterday for
luncheon, and I ran across her in the hall. I asked her to ask you if
you would see Miss Wilder after classes yesterday afternoon."

"Emma Dean again," laughed Grace. "Didn't you know, Arline, that the
Dean messenger service is absolutely unreliable? Emma is always
perfectly willing to deliver a message, but never remembers to deliver
it. Only last week Elfreda made an engagement with a dressmaker who sews
for Emma. In the meantime Emma went to the dressmaker's house for a
fitting, and the woman asked her to tell Elfreda to come for her fitting
on Thursday instead of Friday night. Emma forgot it before she was a
block from the dressmaker's, and poor Elfreda dutifully trudged off to
her fitting instead of accepting an invitation to a theatre party that
the girls got up on Friday afternoon. The dressmaker wasn't in and
Elfreda went home angry. Emma delivered the message the next day."

"No wonder you didn't receive mine then," laughed Arline.

"How did you happen to find me?" asked Grace.

"Oh, I wasn't looking for you," replied Arline. "I thought as long as I
felt better, I had better call on Miss Wilder, too. But," said Arline, a
puzzled look creeping into her eyes, "if you didn't receive my message,
how did you happen to be in the dean's office?"

"I received a summons," answered Grace quietly. "The dean wished to see
me about--well--" Grace hesitated. "I should like to tell you about it,"
she went on. "Miss Wilder did not ask me to keep the matter a secret.
That was understood, I suppose. But, Arline, I think it would be better
to ask her permission before telling even you."

"Is it anything about me or about the club?" asked Arline curiously.

"It is something about the club," replied Grace enigmatically.

"Then suppose we go back and ask her now," proposed Arline.

"No," negatived Grace wisely, "it wouldn't do. Wait a little. I shall
see her again in a day or two. Then I may have a chance to ask her."

"All right," sighed Arline disappointedly. "Now that we have permission
we must go to work with a will. The 'Circus' must meet and plan the
costumes. Each girl will have to furnish her own. Ruth said she thought
she could design them all, and cut them out if the girls could do their
own sewing."

"Ruth is doing too much," demurred Grace. "Remember she is going to help
dress dolls for the doll shop."

"I know it," responded Arline, "but, thanks to the Semper Fidelis Club,
she doesn't have to burden herself with mending. Besides, I keep her so
busy with my clothes she doesn't have time to do anything for outsiders.
Some of the girls were so provoking. They used to give her their work at
the eleventh hour, and then send for it before she had half a chance to
finish it. They didn't exert themselves to pay her, however. It was
weeks, sometimes, before they gave her the money. They usually forgot
about it and spent their allowance money for something else. I think I
have already told you that Father would adopt Ruth if she would consent
to it. But she is a most stiff-necked young person. She says she must
work out her own salvation, and that too much comfort might spoil her
for doing good work in the world."

"Do you suppose her father is really dead?" asked Grace thoughtfully.

"Oh, I think he must be," returned Arline quickly. "Even if he isn't
dead, there is only one chance in a thousand of her finding him. When I
went home last June I had one of my famous talks with Father. We decided
that I needed a competent person to look after me in college, and Father
asked Ruth to accept the position of companion. Then she could room with
me and be free from this hateful sewing. But she wouldn't do it, the
proud little thing! I like her all the better for her pride, though,"
concluded Arline in a burst of confidence.

"I think she is right about making her own way," declared Grace. "If I
were placed in her circumstances I imagine I should look at the matter
in the same light. Really, Arline, I often think that girls as happily
situated as you and I do not half appreciate our benefits."

"I know it," agreed Arline. "Still, I am wide awake to the fact that a
single room, pretty clothes and a generous allowance are not to be
despised. I have grown so used to my way of living that to adopt Ruth's
wouldn't be easy. I'd be worse off than she, for I don't know how to
mend or sew or do anything else that is useful. I wonder if the girls
would like me as well poor as rich," she said almost wistfully.

"Goose!" scoffed Grace. "Of course they would. How could any one help
liking you? To change the subject, when shall we call a meeting of the
bazaar specialists? We might as well post a notice on the big bulletin
board. It will do more to advertise the bazaar than anything else."

"Grace, you are a born advertiser," cried Arline. "There will be a crowd
around that bulletin board all day. Will you write the notice to-night?
Oh, did I tell you? I'm going to have my horse here this year. Father
wants me to ride."

"How lovely!" exclaimed Grace with a little sigh. "How I wish I had a
horse. I'd willingly use all my allowance to feed one, if Father could
afford to buy him for me."

"Mabel Ashe has the handsomest horse I ever saw," said Arline. "He is
black as jet. You know I often see her in New York during vacations. We
have ridden together several times."

"You mean Elixir," returned Grace. "I have never seen him, but I have
heard of him. That reminds me, Mabel is coming down here for
Thanksgiving. I received a letter from her yesterday."

"I wish she could come down for the bazaar," sighed Arline regretfully.

"So do I," responded Grace heartily.

At the corner above Wayne Hall Arline left Grace with a warning, "Don't
forget to post that notice." As Grace reached the steps of the Hall the
front door opened and two girls stepped out on the porch, followed by an
alert little figure whose small face wore an expression of malicious
amusement. "Do come again," she was saying in clear, high tones. "I've
heard some very interesting things this afternoon." Looking down,
simultaneously, three pairs of eyes were leveled on Grace and
conversation instantly ceased. Grace walked quietly up the steps and,
with a courteous "good afternoon," passed into the house and up the
stairs to her room. Her face was unusually sober as she slowly pulled
the hatpins from her hat. "How did Miss West happen to meet them?" she
said half aloud.

"Meet whom?" asked Elfreda, who had come into the room in time to hear
Grace's half musing question.

"Oh, Elfreda. How you startled me!" exclaimed Grace.

"How did Miss West meet whom? That's what I am curious to know,"
returned Elfreda, regarding Grace with lively interest.

"Alberta Wicks and Mary Hampton, Inquisitive," answered Grace.

"Where did you see them?" asked Elfreda, exhibiting considerable
excitement.

"On the front porch. They had evidently been making a call on Kathleen."

"Then look out," predicted Elfreda. "They began back in the freshman
year with me. Last year it was Laura Atkins and Mildred Taylor. This
year it will be Kathleen West, and you mark my word, she won't reform at
the end of the year as the rest of us did."

"'Quoth the raven, "nevermore",'" laughed Grace.

"Well, you'll see," declared Elfreda gloomily. "I'm sorry Kathleen West
lives here. I thought we were going to have a peaceful year. But every
fall apparently brings its problem. Really, Grace, I can't help feeling
terribly remorseful to think that it is I who have caused all this
trouble. If I hadn't been such an idiot when I first came here, you and
Alberta Wicks and Mary Hampton might at least be on speaking terms."

"You mustn't think about such ancient history, Elfreda," admonished
Grace. "We all do things for which we are afterward sorry. I daresay I
should have offended those two girls in some other way before my
freshman year was over. Both sides were to blame. I suppose we were
naturally antagonistic."

"That is one way of putting it," muttered Elfreda, scowling over her
past misdeeds.

"Come, come, Elfreda, don't glower over what has been forgotten," smiled
Grace, patting Elfreda's plump shoulder.

"You may forget," declared the stout girl solemnly, "but I never shall."



CHAPTER IX

OPENING THE BAZAAR


It was Saturday afternoon, and the Semper Fidelis bazaar had just been
opened. Grace Harlowe, attired in her gypsy costume, for which she had
sent home, stood watching the gay scene, her eyes glowing with interest
and pleasure. Professor Morton, the president of the college, had set
his seal of approval on the bazaar by making a short speech. Then the
dean had added a word or two, and the applause had died away in a
pleasant hum of conversation that arose from the throng of students and
visitors that more than comfortably filled the gymnasium.

"I don't see how those girls managed to accomplish so much in so short a
time," remarked the dean to Miss Duncan. "I understand Miss Harlowe was
a prime mover in the work."

"Yes," replied Miss Duncan. "Miss Harlowe seems to have plenty of
initiative. She is one of the most active members of this new club, who
have taken upon themselves the responsibility of helping needy students
through college. I understand their treasury is already in a flourishing
condition, thanks to their own efforts and a timely contribution they
received after their concert last spring. I consider Miss Harlowe the
finest type of young woman I have encountered during all my years of
teaching," replied Miss Duncan warmly, which was a remarkable statement
from this rather austere teacher.

"The junior class is particularly rich in good material," replied the
dean. "I could name at least a dozen young women whom I consider
splendid types of the ideal Overton girl."

Utterly unaware of the approval of the faculty, Grace had paused for a
moment outside the gypsy encampment to cast a speculative eye over the
crowd, which seemed to be steadily increasing.

"It is a brilliant success," she said to Arline gleefully, who had come
up and now stood beside her. "I am so glad, but so tired. I do hope
everyone will like the bazaar, and have a good time this afternoon and
to-night. Everything has gone so beautifully. There hasn't been a sign
of a hitch. Oh, yes, there was one." Her face clouded for a second. Then
she looked at Arline brightly. "I'm not going to think of it. There are
so many nice things to remember that one little unpleasantness doesn't
count, does it?"

"I think it counts," declared Arline stubbornly. "I shall never forget
it as long as I live. Why, it nearly spoiled our bazaar. It was dreadful
to have some one spread the story of our circus, and just what we
intended to have, when we wanted the whole thing to be a surprise."

"Really, I think the person who told the tales did us a good turn after
all," laughed Grace. "The girls were ever so much more anxious to attend
the bazaar after they heard of the circus. Every girl loves 'Alice in
Wonderland,' I think. And then the Sphinx is a first-class surprise."

"Isn't it funny?" chuckled Arline, who, in her short, white, embroidered
dress, pale blue sash, blue silk stockings and heelless blue kid
slippers, her golden hair hanging in curls, tied up on one side with a
blue ribbon, looked exactly as Lewis Carroll's immortal Alice might have
looked if she had been inspired with life.

"Alice" was allowed to show herself to the public before the
performance, and on catching sight of Grace had run across the gymnasium
to her in true little girl fashion.

Never before had Overton's big gymnasium been so peculiarly and gayly
arrayed. At one end a numerous band of gypsies had pitched their tents
and here Grace and Miriam, garbed in the many-colored raiment of the
Zingari, jingled their tambourines in their familiar but ever-popular
Spanish dance, and read curious pink palms itching to know the future.

Adjoining the gypsy encampment was a doll shop, over which the cunning
freshman, Myra Stone, dressed as a sailor doll, presided. Then came the
Japanese tea shop, with the Emerson twins as proprietors, looking so
realistically Japanese that Arline declared she didn't believe they were
the Emerson twins, but two geisha girls straight from Japan. At
intervals, when their patrons had all been served, they sidled up to the
center of the shop and performed a quaint Oriental dance for the
entertainment of their guests.

[Illustration: The Emerson Twins Looked Realistically Japanese.]

Violet Darby had been asked to preside at the Shamrock booth instead of
Arline, as had first been suggested, Arline having been elected to
portray the world-renowned Alice. As an Irish colleen, Violet, however,
proved a distinct success, and thrilled her hearers with "Kathleen
Mavourneen" and "The Harp that Once Through Tara's Halls." Her voice
held that peculiarly sweet, plaintive quality so necessary to bring out
the beauty of the old Irish melodies, and Grace and Anne both agreed
that there was only one who could surpass her. There was only one Nora
O'Malley.

Farther on four pretty sophomores, dressed as Norman peasant girls, were
dispensing cakes and ices to a steadily increasing patronage. There was
a postcard and souvenir booth, around which a crowd seemed perpetually
stationed. The souvenirs consisted mainly of small black and white or
water color sketches contributed by the artistic element of Overton.

Occupying one entire end of the room was the circus ring, and on this
public attention was centered. A gayly decorated poster at the door bore
the pleasing information that there would be four performances, at
two-thirty, four-thirty, eight-thirty, and nine-thirty, respectively, in
which would appear the "Celebrated Alice in Wonderland Animals."

The club had originally planned to keep the matter of the circus as a
surprise until the patrons of the bazaar should enter the gymnasium, but
in some mysterious manner the secret had leaked out. Even the identity
of certain animals was known, and when this unpleasant news had reached
the ears of the "animals" themselves a meeting was called, which almost
put an end to the circus then and there. After due consideration the
performers agreed to go on with the spectacle, but many and indignant
were the theories advanced as to the manner in which the news had
traveled abroad. That the information had gone forth through a member of
the club or any one taking part in the circus no one of them believed.
Complete ostracism threatened the offender or offenders provided she or
they, as the case might be, were discovered. Later the members of the
club were forced to admit that, although the principle of the act was
reprehensible, the act itself had served only as a means of advertising,
and had aroused the curiosity and interest of the public.

After several earnest discussions on the part of the club, the admission
fee had been fixed at twenty-five cents, and the public had been
invited. As a college town Overton's "public" was largely made up of the
classes rather than the masses, and many of the visitors claimed Overton
as their Alma Mater. The students, however, were the hope on which the
club based its dreams of profit. "No girl could walk around the
gymnasium without spending money. She couldn't resist those darling
shops. They are all too fascinating for words," Arline had declared
rapturously as she and Grace were taking a last walk around the great,
gayly decorated room before going to luncheon that day.

Now, as they stood side by side anxiously watching the steadily
increasing tide of visitors, they agreed that their efforts were about
to be rewarded.

"Isn't it splendid!" exulted Arline. "And, oh, have you seen the Sphinx,
and isn't she great! How did Emma happen to think of her, let alone
getting her up?"

"S-h-h!" cautioned Grace in a warning tone. "Some one might hear you."

"Oh, I forgot. Sphinxes are supposed to be shrouded in mystery, aren't
they?"

"This one is," smiled Grace. Then her face sobered instantly. "I hope no
one else besides ourselves finds out. We ought to keep her identity a
secret. I think the idea is simply great, don't you?"

Arline nodded. "Come on over and see her," she coaxed.

A moment later they stood before the entrance to a small tent, hung with
a heavy curtain. Pushing the curtain aside, Arline stepped into the
tent. A burnoosed, turbaned Arab standing inside salaamed profoundly.
The two girls giggled, and there was a stifled, most un-Arab-like echo
from the bronzed son of the desert. Then they paused before a platform
about four feet in height on which reposed what appeared to be a
gigantic Sphinx, her paws stiffly folded in front of her.

"Ask me a question." This sudden, mysterious croak that issued from
inside the great head caused Arline to start and step back. "Ask me a
question. I am as old as the world. I am the world's great riddle, the
one which has never been solved. Ask me a question, only one, one only."
The eerie voice died away into yards of drapery that extended in huge
folds from the back of the head and far out on the platform.

"How on earth did you ever get into that affair, and who made it?" asked
Arline curiously.

"Mystery, all is mystery," croaked the Sphinx.

"But you said you would answer my question!" persisted Arline.

"Which one?" plaintively inquired the voice.

"Both," declared Arline boldly.

"Only one, only one," was the provoking reply.

"Then, who made it?" asked Arline.

"It was made ages ago." Emma Dean's familiar drawl startled both Grace
and Arline. "My brother had it made for a college play called 'Sphinx.'
When we began to plan for the bazaar I sent home for it. I was so afraid
it wouldn't arrive on time. My brother hired an old man who does this
wonderful papier mache work to make it. I made the paws. Rather
realistic, aren't they? All this drapery came with the head. I am inside
the head, sitting on a stool. It's rather dark and stuffy, but it's lots
of fun, too. I can appear before the audience at any moment. The head is
built over a light frame. There is an arrangement inside the head that
makes promenading possible. In fact, I had practiced an attractive
little dance--"

"Hurrah!" cried Arline. "Another feature. When shall we have it! Won't
that be splendid?"

"Not this afternoon. Late in the evening," counseled Emma. "I don't wish
to dance more than once, and you know what a college girl audience
means. Now, is there anything else you want to know?"

There was a sudden murmur of voices outside which silenced Emma
immediately. Then Alberta Wicks, Mary Hampton and Kathleen West were
ushered into the tent.

"I am the Sphinx," began the far-away voice again in the mammoth head.
"Ask me a question."

Bowing to the newcomers rather coldly, Grace and Arline turned to leave
the tent. But Grace reflected grimly as she lifted the tent flap that if
any one of the trio had been the all-wise Sphinx, instead of her friend
Emma Dean, there were several questions she might have asked that would
have been disconcerting to say the least.

A little later she strolled back to the Sphinx's tent, only to find that
amiable riddle besieged by an impatient throng of girls who were eager
to spend their money for the mere sake of hearing the Sphinx's
ridiculous answers to their questions, and incidentally to try if
possible to discover her identity. Emma had succeeded in changing her
voice so completely that the far-away, almost wailing tones of the
Egyptian wonder had little in common with her usual drawl. She and her
faithful Arab had thoroughly enjoyed the attempts of the various girls
to discover who was inside the great head and voluminous drapery.

"I would never have known who was in there if Emma herself had not told
me. I don't believe any one outside the club knows either," was Grace's
conclusion as she returned to her own booth. But in this she was
mistaken.



CHAPTER X

THE ALICE IN WONDERLAND CIRCUS


The Alice in Wonderland Circus went down in the annals of Overton as the
most original "stunt" ever attempted by any particular class. 19-- bore
its honors modestly, but was inordinately proud of the achievement of
the Semper Fidelis Club.

The animals' costumes had been designed by Ruth and Elfreda. After much
poring over half a dozen editions of "Alice," the original illustrations
by "John Tenniel" had appealed most strongly to them, and these had been
copied as faithfully as possible in style and color. The only important
dry goods store in Overton had been ransacked for colored cambrics,
denim and khaki, and under the clever fingers of Ruth, who seemed to
know the exact shape and proportion of every one of the Wonderland
"animals," the Dormouse, the Griffon and the Rabbit had been fitted with
"skins." Elfreda had skilfully designed and made the Mock Turtle's huge
shell and flappers, the Griffon's wings, not to mention ears for at
least half the circus, and Gertrude Wells, whose clever posters were
always in demand, obligingly painted bars, dots, stripes or whatever
touch was needed to make the particular animal a triumph of realism. The
King and Queen looked as though they might have stepped from the pages
of the book, and the Duchess, as played by Anne, was a masterpiece of
acting.

The circus opened with a grand march of the animals. Then followed the
"Mad Hatter Quadrille," called by the Mad Hatter and danced by the March
Hare, the Dormouse, the Rabbit, the Griffon, the Mock Turtle, the Dodo,
the Duchess and Alice. Then the Mad Hatter stepped to the center of the
ring, flourished his high hat, bowed profoundly, and made a funny little
speech about the accomplishments of the animals, each one walking
solemnly into the middle of the ring as his name was called and clumsily
saluting the audience.

Then the real circus began. The Dormouse skipped the rope, the Rabbit
balanced a plate on his nose, the Griffon, with a great flapping of
wings, laboriously climbed a ladder and jumped from the top rung to the
ground, a matter of about six feet, where he bowed pompously and waved
his long claws to the audience. Then the Mock Turtle sang "Beautiful
Soup," and wept so profusely he toppled over at the end of the song and
lay flopping on his back. The Mad Hatter and the Griffon hastily raised
him only to find he had made a dreadful dent in his shell. This did not
hinder him from joining his friend, the Griffon, in "Won't You Join the
Dance?" which stately caper they performed around Alice, while the other
animals stood in a circle and marked time with their feet, solemnly
waving their paws and wagging their heads in unison.

The Cheshire Cat, who had a real Chessy Cat head which Gertrude Wells
had manufactured and painted, and who wore Arline's long squirrel coat
with a squirrel scarf trailing behind for a tail, executed a dance of
quaint steps and low bows. The Dodo jumped or rather walked through
three paper hoops, which had to be lowered to admit his chubby person.
The King and Queen gave a dialogue, every other line of which was "Off
with her head," and the Mad Hatter performed an eccentric dance
consisting of marvelous leaps and bounds that took him from one side of
the ring to the other with amazing rapidity. When he made his bow the
audience shouted with laughter and encored wildly, but with a last
nimble skip the panting Hatter made for the Griffon's ladder and,
seating himself upon it, refused to respond beyond a nod and a careless
wave of his hand. Later he left his perch and proceeded to convulse his
audience by sitting on his tall hat and taking a bite from his teacup,
the three-cornered bite having been carefully removed beforehand and
held temporarily in place with library paste until the proper moment.

As the Mad Hatter, Elfreda was entirely in her element. Her unusually
keen sense of humor prompted her to make her impersonation of the
immortal Hatter one long to be remembered by those who witnessed the
performance given by the famous animals. She was without doubt the
feature of the circus and the spectators were quick to note and applaud
her slightest movement.

The circus ended with an all-around acrobatic exhibition. The Dodo
performed on the trapeze. The Mock Turtle and the Cheshire Cat took
turns on a diminutive springboard. The March Hare and the Dormouse
energetically jumped over a small barrel. The Queen and the Duchess had
a fencing match, the Queen using her sceptre, the Duchess the rag baby
she carried, and to which she had sung the "Pepper Song" at intervals
during the performance. The King tossed four colored balls into the air,
keeping them in motion at once. The Rabbit went on balancing his plate
until it slid off his nose, but being tin it struck the ring without
breaking. The Griffon lumbered up and down his ladder, while the King
and Alice, stepping down to the front of the ring, sang their great
duet, "Come, Learn the Way to Wonderland," while, one by one, the
animals left off performing their stunts and, surrounding Alice and the
King, came out strongly on the chorus:

    "Come, learn the way to Wonderland.
    None of the grown folks understand
    Just where it lies,
    Hid from their eyes.
    'Tis an enchanted strand
    Where the Hare and the Hatter dance in glee,
    Where curious beasts sit down to tea,
    Where the Mock Turtle sings
    And the Griffon has wings,
    In curious Wonderland."

After the animals had romped out of the ring, and romped in again to
take an encore, the audience, who had occupied every reserved seat in
the gallery opposite the ring, and packed every available inch of
standing room there, came downstairs, while those who had stayed
downstairs and peered over one another's shoulders, made a rush for the
reserved seat ticket window. Mr. Redfield, the old gentleman who had
contributed so liberally to the Semper Fidelis Club, chuckled gleefully
over the circus and put in a request that it be given again at the next
public entertainment under the auspices of the club.

The second performance was given toward the close of the afternoon, and
was even more enthusiastically received. None of the performers left the
gymnasium for dinner that night. They preferred to satisfy their hunger
at the various booths.

"Oh, there goes Emma," laughed Grace, as late that evening she caught a
glimpse of the Egyptian mystery parading majestically down the room
ahead of her, then stopping at the Japanese booth to exchange a word
with the giggling Emerson twins, who thought the Sphinx the greatest
joke imaginable.

A little later as Grace was about to return to the gypsy camp she heard
a sudden swish of draperies behind her. Glancing hastily about, she
laughed as she saw the Sphinx's unwieldy head towering above her.

"Oh, Great and Wonderful Mystery--" began Grace.

But Emma answered almost crossly: "Don't 'Great and Wonderful Mystery'
me. This head is becoming a dead weight, and I'm thirsty and tired, and,
besides, something disagreeable just happened."

"What was it?" asked Grace unthinkingly. Then, "I beg your pardon, Emma,
I didn't realize the rudeness of my question. Pretend you didn't hear
what I said."

"Oh, that is all right," responded Emma laconically. "I don't mind
telling you if you will promise on your honor as a junior not to tell a
soul."

"I promise," agreed Grace.

"It's about that West person," began Emma disgustedly. "I overheard a
conversation between her and her two friends to-night. How did she
become so friendly with Alberta Wicks and Mary Hampton? They addressed
one another by their first names as though on terms of greatest
familiarity."

"I don't know, I am sure," answered Grace slowly. "I seldom see either
Miss Wicks or Miss Hampton. When they lived at Stuart Hall I used
frequently to pass them on the campus, but since they have been living
at Wellington House I rarely, if ever, see either of them. It is just as
well, I suppose."

"Thank goodness, this is their last year here," muttered Emma. "We shall
have peace during our senior year at least, unless some other disturber
appears on the scene."

"Why, Emma Dean!" exclaimed Grace, "what is the matter with you
to-night? You aren't a bit like your usual self."

"Then, I'm a successful Sphinx," retorted Emma satirically.

"Of course you are," smiled Grace. "But you can be a successful Sphinx
and be yourself, too. But you haven't yet told me anything."

"I'm coming to the information part now," went on Emma. "About an hour
ago, while the circus was in full swing, I slipped out of my Sphinx rig
and, asking Helen to watch it,--she is made up as the Arab, you know,--I
went for a walk around the bazaar. I was sure no one knew that I was the
Sphinx, and the Sphinx was I, for I hadn't told a soul except the club
girls and Helen. You know I've been purposely taking occasional walks
about the gymnasium as Emma Dean. I went over to the Japanese booth for
some tea, and while I was drinking it the circus ended and the girls
began to pile into the garden for tea. All of a sudden I heard some one
say, 'Why didn't you bring your Sphinx costume along, Miss Dean?' It was
that horrid little West girl who spoke. Her voice carried, too, for
every one in the garden heard her, and they all pounced upon me at once.
It made me so angry I rushed out without waiting for my tea, and inside
of five minutes the news had circled the gym, and the Sphinx had ceased
to be the world's great mystery. I got into the costume again, but the
fun was gone. I didn't answer any more questions and I didn't do my
dance. I was looking for you to tell you that the Sphinx was about to
give up the ghost."

"How could Miss West be so spiteful?" asked Grace vexedly. "Where do you
suppose she heard the news, and who told her? You don't suppose--" Grace
stopped abruptly. A sudden suspicion had seized her.

"Don't suppose what?" interrogated Emma sharply.

"Nothing," finished Grace shortly.

"Yes, you do suppose something," declared Emma. "I know just what you
are thinking. You believe as I do, that Miss West listened--"

"Don't say it, Emma!" exclaimed Grace. "We may both be wrong."

"Then you do believe----"

"I don't know," said Grace bravely. "I admit that suspicion points
toward Miss West, but until we know definitely, we must try to be
fair-minded. I have seen too much unhappiness result from misplaced
suspicion. I know of an instance where a girl was sent to Coventry by
her class for almost a year on the merest suspicion."

"Not here?" questioned Emma, her eyes expressing the surprise she felt
at this announcement.

"No," returned Grace soberly. There was finality in her "no."

"And the moral is, don't jump at conclusions," smiled Emma. "Come on
down to my lair while I remove my Sphinx-like garments and step forth as
plain Emma Dean. Don't look so sober, Grace. I've put my suspicions to
sleep. I'll give even Miss West the benefit of my doubt. I will even go
so far as to forgive her for spoiling my fun to-night. Now smile and
say, 'Emma, I always knew you to be the soul of magnanimity.'"

Grace laughed outright at this modest assertion, and obligingly repeated
the required words.

"Now that my reputation has been once more established, and because I
don't feel half so wrathful as I did ten minutes ago," declared Emma,
"let us lay the Sphinx peacefully to rest and do the bazaar arm in arm."



CHAPTER XI

GRACE MEETS WITH A REBUFF


It was several days before the pleasant buzz of excitement created by
the bazaar had subsided. With a few exceptions the Overton girls who had
turned out, almost in a body, to patronize it, were loud in their
praises of the booths, and spent their money with commendable
recklessness. Outside the circus it was difficult to say which booth had
proved the greatest attraction. But late that evening, after the crowd
had gone home and the proceeds of the entertainment were counted, the
club discovered to their joy that they were nearly six hundred dollars
richer. Arline had laughingly proclaimed the Semper Fidelis Club as a
regular get-rich-quick organization with honest motives.

By the time the last bit of frivolous decoration had been removed from
the gymnasium, and the big room had recovered its usual business-like
air, the bazaar had become a bit of 19--'s history, and Thanksgiving
plans were in full swing. There had been two meetings of the club, but
to Grace's surprise no mention had been made of Kathleen West's
intentional betrayal of Emma Dean's identity. Grace felt certain that
the majority of the club had heard the story, and with a thrill of pride
she paid tribute to her friends, who, in ignoring the thrust evidently
intended for the club itself, had shown themselves as possessors of the
true Overton spirit. After Emma's one outburst to Grace against Kathleen
she said no more on the subject. Even Elfreda, who usually had something
to say about everything when alone with her three friends, was
discreetly silent on the subject of the newspaper girl. Long ago she had
delivered her ultimatum. To be sure, she went about looking owlishly
wise, but she offered no comment concerning Kathleen's unpleasant
attitude.

For the time being Grace had put aside all disturbing thoughts and
suspicions, and was preparing to make the most of the four days'
vacation. Mabel Ashe was to be her guest on Thanksgiving Day, and this
in itself was sufficient to banish everything save pleasurable
anticipations from her mind. Then, too, there was so much to be done.
The Monday evening preceding Thanksgiving Grace hurried through her
lessons and, closing her books before she was at all sure that she could
make a creditable recitation in any of her subjects, settled herself to
the important task of letter-writing.

"There," she announced with satisfaction, after half an hour's steady
work, "Father and Mother can't say I forgot them. Let me see, there are
Nora and Jessica, Mrs. Gray and Mabel Allison. Eleanor owes me a letter,
and, oh, I nearly forgot the Southards, and there is Mrs. Gibson. I
shall have to devote two nights to letter-writing," she added ruefully.
"I do love to receive letters, but it is so hard to answer them."

"Isn't it, though?" sighed Anne, who was seated at the table opposite
Grace, engaged in a similar task. "Now I wish we were going home, don't
you, Grace?"

"Yes," returned Grace simply. "But we can't, so there is no use in
wishing. However," she continued, her face brightening, "we are going to
have Mabel with us, and that means a whole lot. All Overton will be glad
to see her--that is, all the juniors and seniors and the faculty and a
few others."

"There is only one Mabel Ashe," said Anne softly. "Won't it be splendid
to have her with us?"

Grace nodded. Then, after writing busily for a moment, she looked up and
said abruptly: "There is just one thing that bothers me, Anne, and that
is the way Miss West is behaving. What shall I tell Mabel when she asks
me about her? In my letters I haven't made the slightest allusion to
anything."

"Tell Mabel the truth," advised Anne calmly. "By that I don't mean that
you need mention the Sphinx affair, but if you say to her frankly that
we have tried to be friendly with Miss West and that she appears
especially to dislike us, she will understand, and nine chances to one
she will be able to point out the reason, which so far no one seems to
know."

"I suppose I had better tell her," sighed Grace. "I hate to begin a
holiday by gossiping, but something will have to be done, or Mabel will
find herself in an embarrassing position, for I have a curious
presentiment that Miss Kathleen West will pounce upon her the moment she
sees her, just to annoy us."

Since the evening of the bazaar, when Kathleen had nodded curtly to
Grace at the entrance to the Sphinx's tent, she had neither spoken to
nor noticed the four girls who had in the beginning received her so
hospitably. No one of them quite understood the newspaper girl's
attitude, but as she was often seen in company with Alberta Wicks and
Mary Hampton, they were forced to draw their own conclusions. Grace
fought against harboring the slightest resemblance to suspicion against
the two seniors and their new friend.

"Does Miss West know that Mabel is coming to Overton for Thanksgiving?"
asked Anne.

"No," returned Grace, looking rather worried. "I suppose some one ought
to tell her."

"I'll tell her, if you like," proposed Anne quietly. "I think she is in
her room this evening. I heard her say to one of the girls at dinner
that she intended to study hard until late to-night."

"No," decided Grace, "it wouldn't be fair for me to shirk my
responsibility. Mabel wrote me about Kathleen West in the first place,
and I promised to look out for her. If she doesn't yearn for my society,
it isn't my fault. I'm not going to be a coward, at any rate. I'll go at
once, while my resolution is at its height. She can't do more than order
me from her room, and having been through a similar experience several
times in my life I shan't mind it so very much," concluded Grace grimly,
closing her fountain pen and laying it beside her half-finished letter.
"I'm going now, Anne. I hope she won't be too difficult."

Grace walked resolutely down the hall to the door at the end. It was
slightly ajar. Rapping gently, she stood waiting, bravely stifling the
strong inclination to turn and walk away without delivering her message.
She heard a quick step; then she and Kathleen West confronted each
other. Without hesitating, Grace said frankly: "Miss West, Miss Ashe is
to be my guest on Thanksgiving Day. Of late you have avoided me, and my
friends as well. But Mabel is our mutual friend. So I think, at least
while she is here, we ought to put all personal differences aside and
unite in making the day pleasant for her."

"Nothing like being disinterested, is there?" broke in the other girl
sneeringly, her sharp face looking sharper than ever. "I can quite
understand your anxiety regarding not letting Miss Ashe know how
shabbily you have treated me. Your promises to her didn't hold water,
did they? And now you are afraid she will find you out, aren't you?
Don't worry, I shan't tell her. She'll learn the truth about you and
your three friends soon enough."

"You know very well I had no such motive," cried Grace, surprised to
indignation. "Besides, I know of no instance in which either my friends
or I have failed in courtesy to you."

"How innocent you are!" mimicked Kathleen insolently. "You must think me
very blind. Remember, I haven't worked for four years on a newspaper
without having learned a few things."

Grace felt her color rising. The retort that rose to her lips found its
way into speech. "No doubt your newspaper work has taught you a great
deal, Miss West," she said evenly, "but I have not been in college for
over two years without having learned a few things, also, of which, if I
am not mistaken, you have never acquired even the first rudiments. I am
sorry to have troubled you. Good night."

With a proud little inclination of the head, Grace turned and walked
down the hall to her own room, leaving the self-centered Kathleen with
an angry color in her thin face and the unpleasant knowledge that though
she might be in college, she was not of it.



CHAPTER XII

THANKSGIVING AT OVERTON


In spite of the awkwardness of the situation precipitated by the
belligerent newspaper girl, Thanksgiving Day passed off with remarkable
smoothness. Greatly to Grace's surprise, in the morning after Mabel's
arrival at Wayne Hall Kathleen West had appeared in the living-room
where Mabel was holding triumphant court, greeted her with apparent
cordiality, and after remaining in the room for a short time had pleaded
an engagement for the day, and said good-bye.

"Too bad she couldn't stay with us and go to the game, isn't it?" Mabel
had declared regretfully. "I suppose she is obliged to divide her time.
Miss West is so clever. She must be very popular?" she added
inquiringly.

At that moment Elfreda purposely began an account of the latest practice
game in which her team had played, and Mabel, who was an ardent
basketball fan, failed to notice that her questioning comment had been
neither answered nor echoed. To the relief of the four friends the
subject of Kathleen West was not renewed during Mabel's stay, and when,
that night, she went to the station surrounded by a large and faithful
bodyguard, all adverse criticism against the girl for whom she had
spoken was locked within the breasts of the four who knew.

On the Friday after Thanksgiving the first real game between the
freshmen and the sophomore teams took place in the gymnasium. The
freshmen won the game, much to Elfreda's disgust, as she had pinned her
faith on the sophomores. The triumphant team marched around the
gymnasium, lustily singing a ridiculously funny basketball song which it
afterward developed had been composed by none other than Kathleen West.

"Too bad she isn't up to her song," had been Elfreda's dry comment, with
which the other three girls privately agreed.

The Morton House girls issued tickets for a play, which had to be
postponed because the leading man (Gertrude Wells) spent Thanksgiving in
the country and missed the afternoon train to Overton. Nothing daunted,
Arline descended upon Grace, Miriam and Anne, pressed them into service
and sent them scurrying about to the houses and boarding places of the
girls they knew to be at home, with eleventh-hour invitations to a fancy
dress party to be held at Morton Hall in lieu of the play, which had to
be postponed until the following week. Arline had stipulated that the
costumes must be strictly original. Wonderland costumes were to be
tabooed. "If we present the circus again later on we don't want to run
the risk of giving any one the slightest chance to grow tired of seeing
the animals," had been her wise edict.

That night a mixed company of gay and gallant folks danced to the music
of the living-room piano at Morton House. Those receiving invitations
had immediately planned their costumes and by eight o'clock that
evening, resplendent in their own and borrowed finery, were on their way
to the ball. At ten o'clock there had been a brief intermission, when
cakes and ices were served. This had been an unlooked-for courtesy on
the part of Arline, who had plunged recklessly into her month's
allowance for the purchase of the little spread. The ball had lasted
until half-past eleven o'clock, and the participants, after singing to
Arline and rendering her a noisy vote of thanks, had gone home tired and
happy.

Saturday had been devoted to the "odds and ends" of vacation. The
majority of the girls, having stayed in Overton, paid long-deferred
calls, gave luncheons or dinners at Vinton's or Martell's, or, the day
being unusually clear, went for long walks. Guest House was the
destination of a party of girls of whom Grace made one, and which also
included Miriam, Elfreda, Laura Atkins, Violet Darby and half a dozen
other young women who had elected the five-mile walk, supper, and a
return by moonlight. Arline, Anne and Ruth had at the last moment
decided to attend an illustrated lecture on Paris, to be held in the
Overton Theatre that afternoon, with the gleeful prospect of cooking
their supper at Ruth's that evening, an occasion invariably attended
with at least one laughable mishap, as neither Arline's nor Anne's
knowledge of cooking extended beyond the art of boiling water.

On the way back from Guest House the pedestrians had stopped at Vinton's
for a rest and ices. As they trooped in the door, they passed Kathleen
West, accompanied by Alberta Wicks, Mary Hampton, and a freshman whom
Grace had frequently noticed in company with the newspaper girl. Several
of the girls with her bowed to the passing trio, but Grace fancied there
was a lack of cordiality in their salutations. She also imagined she
noticed a fleeting gleam of malice in Alberta Wicks's face as the senior
passed their table. Inwardly censuring herself for allowing any such
impression to creep into her mind, Grace dismissed it with an impatient
little shake of the head.

The walking party indulged in a second round of ices before leaving
Vinton's. Everyone seemed to be in a particularly happy mood, and long
afterward Grace looked back on this night as one of the particular
occasions of her junior year, when everyone and everything seemed to be
in absolute harmony.

All the way home this exalted, elated mood remained with her. She smiled
to herself as she leisurely prepared for bed at the recollection of her
happy evening. Elfreda's sharp, familiar knock on the door caused her to
start slightly, then she called, "Come in!"

"Hasn't Anne come home yet?" asked Elfreda, glancing about her, then,
shuffling across the room in her satin mules, she curled herself
comfortably on the end of Grace's couch, and, surveying Grace with
friendly, half-quizzical eyes, said shrewdly, "Well, what's the latest
on the bulletin board?"

"I don't know," smiled Grace. "I didn't look at the one in the hall and
as for the one over at the college, I haven't paid any attention to it
for the last two days. My letters usually come to Wayne Hall."

Elfreda sniffed disdainfully. "I don't mean either of those bulletin
boards, and you know it, too, Grace Harlowe. I could see danger signals
flying to-night, even if you couldn't. I don't see how you could have
missed them." She eyed Grace searchingly, then said, with conviction, "I
don't believe you did miss them. They were too plain to be missed."

Grace hesitated, then said frankly: "To tell you the truth, Elfreda, I
did fancy for a moment that Miss Wicks favored me with a very peculiar
look. Then I decided it to be a case of imagination on my part. Those
girls haven't troubled us this year. I don't know----" she began slowly.

Elfreda interrupted her with an emphatic: "That is just what I've been
telling you. That's what I mean by danger signals. Those two girls will
never forgive you for making them ridiculous the night they locked me in
the haunted house. Last year they had to content themselves with simply
being disagreeable, because they could find no particularly weak spot in
our sophomore armor. They accomplished very little with Laura Atkins and
Mildred Taylor. This year it's different." Elfreda paused to give full
effect to her words. Then she ended slowly and impressively: "Don't
think I'm trying to court calamity, but I am certain that perky little
newspaper woman, as she styles herself, is going to prove a thorn in
your side. You had better write to Mabel and explain matters, then leave
Miss Kathleen West alone. She hasn't spoken to you since the day of the
bazaar, so I can't see that your junior counsel is of any particular use
to her."

"Still, it seems a shame to give up; besides, it is the first thing
Mabel ever asked me to do," demurred Grace.

"I know, I've thought of that," continued Elfreda a little impatiently.
"But I don't think you are justified in wasting your whole year's fun
worrying about some one who isn't worth it. If Mabel knew, she would be
the first one to indorse what I have just said."

"I'm not wasting my year, Elfreda mine," contradicted Grace
good-naturedly. "Just think what a nice time we had to-night! And I'm
getting along splendidly with all my subjects. I belong to the Semper
Fidelis Club, and am having the jolliest kind of times with you girls.
That doesn't sound much like wasting my year, does it?"

"I didn't say you had wasted it," retorted Elfreda gruffly. "I said, or
rather intended to say, that you would be likely to waste it. You are
the sort of girl who ought to have the best Overton can offer,
because--well--because you deserve it. You think too much about other
people, and not enough about yourself," she concluded shortly.

"What a selfish Elfreda," laughed Grace, walking across the room and
sitting down beside the stout girl, whose round face looked unusually
severe. "One might think Elfreda Briggs never did an unselfish act in
all her twenty-two years. Now I am going to give you a piece of your own
advice. Stop worrying--about me. Whatever my just desserts are, they'll
overtake me fast enough. Hurrah! Here is our little Anne. Did you have a
nice time, dear, and what did you cook for supper?"

"I always have a nice time at Ruth's," smiled Anne, "but, if you had
seen the three cooks all trying to spoil the broth and succeeding beyond
their wildest expectations, you would have been greatly edified."

"I can imagine Arline Thayer gravely bending over that little gas stove
of Ruth's," said Grace.

"She had all sorts of splendid ideas about what we might make, but no
one had the slightest idea as to how to make anything she proposed."

"I am afraid none of us would ever set the world on fire as cooks,"
observed Elfreda with sarcasm.

"Where's Miriam?" asked Anne, slipping out of her coat and unpinning her
hat.

"Writing to her mother," returned Elfreda. "Now tell us what you
cooked."

Frequent bursts of laughter arose as Anne described Arline's valiant
attempt at making a Spanish omelet from a recipe in a cook-book she had
purchased that very day for twenty-five cents at the little book store
just below the campus. "It was called the 'Model Housewife,' but the
omelet was really a dreadful affair," continued Anne. "Then I let the
potatoes boil dry and they scorched on the bottom, and no one knew how
to make a cream dressing for the peas.

"Ruth made a Waldorf salad. We had a bottle of dressing, thank goodness.
And Arline made coffee, which she really does know how to make. We had
olives and pickles and cakes, and two dozen of those cunning little
rolls from that German bakery down the street. So we really managed to
get enough to eat after all. There wasn't much left except the omelet,
and no one wanted that."

"I don't suppose it would be of the least use to propose tea," said
Grace innocently.

"Well, of course, if you insist," declared Elfreda politely.

At this juncture Miriam appeared in the door. "I thought I'd drop in for
a minute. You were making so much noise I suspected that a tea party was
in progress," she said significantly.

"We were just talking about making tea," declared Anne. "In fact, I was
on the point of remarking that tea was really the one thing needed to
complete our happiness."

A little gust of laughter greeted this pointed remark. It echoed down
the hall, and was carried through the half-opened door of the room at
the end, where a girl sat busily engaged in writing a theme. She lay
down her pen, listened for a moment, then went on writing, a sarcastic
little smile playing about her lips. But in her eyes flashed two danger
signals.



CHAPTER XIII

ARLINE MAKES THE BEST OF A BAD MATTER


"What shall we do for our eight girls this year?" asked Grace
reflectively of Arline Thayer. It was barely two weeks until Christmas
and the two girls had decided to spend their half holiday in doing the
Overton stores.

"I know the stock better than the saleswomen themselves do," chuckled
Arline, "but it is great fun to go on exploring expeditions and watch
other people buy the things. Of course, I always buy something, too,
unless I am deep in that state of temporary poverty that lies in wait
for me at the end of every month."

"Of course you do," agreed Grace, with an answering chuckle. "Even
though it is a hat and you feel obliged to dispose of it before going
home, so that the Morton House girls won't laugh at you."

"Who told you about it?" asked Arline in a half-vexed tone.

"You told me, don't you remember?" asked Grace.

"Oh, yes, of course. Wasn't I a goose?"

"Thank you," bowed Grace mockingly.

"Oh, I don't mean because I told you," apologized Arline hastily. "I
mean, wasn't I a goose to buy it? It was in this very store. It looked
so pretty. I was determined to have it. Outside the store it looked
quite different. It was a perfectly honest dollar-and-a-half hat. But in
the store under the electric lights it was really a pretentious affair.
Ruth was with me at the time, and, wise little pilot that she is, tried
to steer me past it. But I was determined to have it. After I left Ruth,
I opened the box and looked at it in broad daylight, and then I happened
to meet my washerwoman's daughter, and I gave it to her. It was so
fortunate I met her, wasn't it?" finished Arline plaintively.

"For the washerwoman's daughter, yes," returned Grace.

"It served me right for buying it. I spend too much money foolishly,"
said Arline self-accusingly. "I'm going to stop being so reckless.
Suppose my father were to lose all his money and I couldn't even come
back to college next year? I would, though. I'd go and live with Ruth
and borrow enough money of the Semper Fidelis Club to see me through my
senior year. Then, I suppose, I'd have to teach or something afterward.
I think it would be 'or something.' I don't believe teaching is my
vocation."

Grace listened in smiling silence to Arline's remarks. A vision of the
little blue-eyed golden-haired girl who always did exactly as she
pleased in the prim guise of a teacher was infinitely diverting.

"You haven't answered my question about our girls yet," reminded Grace,
as they walked down the center aisle of the larger of the two Overton
stores, stopping frequently at the various counters to examine the
display of holiday wares.

"Haven't you any suggestions?" counter-questioned Arline. "I have been
depending on you for inspiration."

"Nothing new or original," answered Grace doubtfully. "Last year's stunt
was beautifully carried out, but we can't repeat it this year without
running the risk of some one finding out just who our eight girls are
and all about them. Then, too, what we did last year was on the spur of
the moment. If we tried to do the same thing this year it might fall
flat, on account of being too carefully planned. Besides, these girls
have the privilege of borrowing from the Semper Fidelis fund now, and I
imagine most of them have done so. Of course, only the treasurer knows
that."

"It looks to me as though there were more real need of a little
Christmas cheer," declared Arline thoughtfully. "Couldn't we arrange
some kind of entertainment to take place before we all go?"

"But that wouldn't seem much like Christmas unless it happened on
Christmas Day," objected Grace. "We'll all be at home then."

"Why not have a talk with Miss Barlow?" proposed Arline eagerly. "You
are the one to do it. You know her better than I do. Suppose we call
upon her within the next few days. Then you can find out what she and
her friends intend to do. If she says they are all going to stay here,
then ask her if she wouldn't like to--" Arline paused and looked rather
helplessly at Grace. "That's as far as I can go," she confessed. "I
haven't the least idea of what I should ask her."

"I am equally destitute of ideas," agreed Grace. "Perhaps the
inspiration is yet to come."

"It will have to come soon then, or we won't have the time to carry it
out," commented Arline dryly. "Keep it in mind, and if you think of
anything let me know instantly, won't you?"

Grace gave the desired promise and thought no more of it until she and
Arline almost came into violent collision just outside the library the
following Monday evening.

"Grace Harlowe!" exclaimed the little girl. "I was coming to Wayne Hall
to see you the instant I finished here. It has come, Grace! The great
inspiration! But it is a dreadful disappointment to me." Several big
tears chased each other down Arline's rosy cheeks. Her lip quivered, and
with a little, choking sob she sat down on the lowest step of the
library and began to cry softly.

"Arline, dear child, whatever is the matter?" cried Grace in quick
alarm. A moment later she had slipped to the step beside Arline, passing
one arm about her friend's shoulder. She could scarcely believe this
weeping, disconsolate little creature to be the smiling, self-assured
Arline Thayer, who was forever receiving flowers from admiring freshmen
crushes.

"Father's going to--Europe--on--important business," quavered Arline
brokenly. "He--he sails to-morrow morning and he can't possibly return
before the middle of January." She raised her sad little face to Grace's
sympathetic one, then, straightening up, she went on bravely, "We had so
many lovely Christmas plans."

"Come home with me, Arline," begged Grace. "I'd love to have you."

Arline shook her blonde head, at the same time slipping her hand into
Grace's. "I thought of that, too," she returned softly. "I was going to
ask you if I might go home with you for Christmas. Then Ruth and I had a
talk. I had asked her to go home with me, and she had refused because
she is so afraid of outwearing her welcome. Then came Father's letter.
Ruth was a dear about that. She said at once that if I wished to go home
and felt that I needed her she would go, but I couldn't bear to think of
spending Christmas in that big, lonely house. It is Father that makes it
seem so wonderful to go home." Arline's lip quivered piteously. "He and
I could be happy if we were the poorest of the poor. You must visit me
some time, Grace. Perhaps we could have an Easter house party. Wouldn't
that be splendid?" Arline's woe-be-gone face brightened. Grace patted
her hand.

"Get up, Arline, before some one sees you," she advised. "Whoever heard
of proud little Daffydowndilly Thayer crying like an ordinary mortal?"
Grace went on soothing Arline in this half-serious fashion, which
presently had its effect.

"You are so comforting, Grace," sighed Arline, as she rose from the
steps, an expression of gratitude in her pretty blue eyes. "Can't you
walk over to the house with me? I want you to hear my plan and tell me
what you think of it."

"I could put off my library business until to-morrow," reflected Grace,
smiling a little. "It will be a case of doing as I please instead of
doing as I ought. Still, as a loyal member of Semper Fidelis it is my
duty to comfort my sorrowing comrades. Don't you think so?"

Arline laughed an almost happy response to Grace's question.

"But I mustn't stay long," warned Grace a little later, as, seated
opposite Arline in the latter's room, she awaited the unfolding of
Arline's "inspiration."

"I'm going to stay here for Christmas," announced Arline with the
finality of one who knows her own mind. "Ruth is coming up to live with
me for the whole vacation, too. That isn't the inspiration, though. That
is only the first part of it. The second part is that Ruth and I are
going to see to the eight girls, and all the others who aren't going
away from Overton. What do you think of that?"

"I think it is dear in you, Arline," responded Grace very earnestly. "I
only wish I might stay to help you. However, Father and Mother have
first claim on my vacation. But let me help you plan and get things
ready before I go. I'll be here until a week from next Thursday, you
know."

"Oh, I shall need you," Arline assured Grace. "I thought we might have
Christmas dinner at Vinton's and Martell's, too. I've thought it all
out. Both restaurants depend largely on the Overton girls' patronage.
Naturally, they are very dull at Christmas time. My idea was to
interview both proprietors and see if for once they wouldn't combine and
furnish the same menu at the same price per plate, the price to be not
more than fifty cents. It must be just an old-fashioned turkey dinner
with plenty of dressing and vegetables. We must have plum pudding, too,
and all the things that go with a real Christmas dinner."

"But neither Vinton's nor Martell's would serve that sort of Christmas
dinner for fifty cents," said Grace slowly. "I don't wish to discourage
you, but--"

"I know that, too," broke in Arline eagerly, "but no one else need know.
I'm going to take my check that Father always gives me for theatres and
things when I'm at home, and spend it to make up the difference. It will
more than cover the extra expense of the dinner. I'd like to give the
dinner to the girls, but of course that is out of the question. They
wouldn't like it. However, if they are allowed to pay fifty cents for it
they will feel independent, and, nine chances out of ten, won't trouble
themselves about the actual cost of the dinner, as have some persons I
might mention," ended Arline meaningly.

Both girls laughed. Then Grace said admiringly: "It is a splendidly
unselfish idea, and you and Ruth are the very ones to carry it out.
Shall you have a play or anything afterward?"

"Yes, if we can find a good one. I thought we might have a New Year's
masquerade party here. It will be an innovation for these girls. I am
not very sure of anything yet, except that I am not going to New York
and that I must do something to amuse myself while the rest of my
friends are reposing in the bosoms of their families. After all, mine is
really a selfish motive," said the little girl whimsically.

"Hush!" exclaimed Grace, laying her hand lightly against Arline's lips.
"I shall not allow you to say slighting things of yourself. I have just
one remark to make. Be very diplomatic, Arline. If any of these girls
who can't afford to go home for the holidays were even to imagine
themselves objects of charity, your dinner plan would be a failure.
Don't tell a soul about it except Ruth."

"I know," nodded Arline wisely. "I had thought of that, too. Never fear,
I won't breathe it to another soul."

"My half hour is more than up," exclaimed Grace ruefully, glancing
toward the little French clock on Arline's chiffonier. "I must hurry
away this instant. I'll see you again in a day or two. I am so sorry for
your disappointment. You're the bravest little Daffydowndilly. If my
prospects of going home were suddenly swept away, I'm afraid I'd be too
busy with my own woes to think about making other people happy."

"You would do just what I am planning to do, Grace Harlowe," declared
Arline emphatically. "After all, perhaps it is just as well I can't
always have my own way. I might become a monument of selfishness."

"There doesn't seem to be much danger of it," laughed Grace, as she put
on her hat and slipped into her long coat. "There is a strong
possibility, however, that 'not prepared' will be my watchword
to-morrow. I think I shall write a theme on the decline of the art of
study and use personal illustrations. It seems such a shame that
mid-years had to come skulking along on the very heels of Christmas,
doesn't it?"

Arline nodded. "I haven't looked at my French for to-morrow, either,"
she confessed, "and I've been saying 'not prepared' for the last two
recitations. Ruth and I have planned a systematic study campaign during
vacation, so you see the ill wind will blow some little good," she
concluded wistfully.

Grace smiled very tenderly at the little, golden-haired girl who was
bearing her cross bravely, almost gayly. "Good-night, little
Daffydowndilly," she said impulsively, bending to kiss Arline's rosy
cheek. "I think you can teach all of us a lesson in real unselfishness."



CHAPTER XIV

PLANNING THE CHRISTMAS DINNER


The ensuing days before Christmas were filled to the brim with business
for Grace and Arline, who had been making secret tours of investigation
about Overton with regard to the girls who were not going to their homes
or to friends for the vacation. The managers at Martell's and Vinton's
had been interviewed, and both proprietors had agreed to furnish
practically the same dinner at the same price, which was considerably
more than fifty cents, and was to be paid privately from Arline's own
pocket money.

"I feel like a conspirator," confided Arline to Grace as the two girls
sat at the library table in the living room at Wayne Hall late one
afternoon going over a long list of names and addresses which they had
obtained by dint of much walking and inquiring.

"But it is such a delightful conspiracy," reminded Grace. "One doesn't
often conspire to make other people happy. I hope the girls will fall in
readily with your plan."

"I shall have to be as wise as a serpent," smiled Arline, "and as
diplomatic as--as--Miriam Nesbit. She is the most diplomatic person I
ever knew."

"Isn't she, though?" agreed Grace smilingly. "Yes, my dear
Daffydowndilly, you have a delicate task before you. Playing Lady
Bountiful to the girls who are left behind without them suspecting you
won't be easy. There are certain girls who would languish in their rooms
all day, rather than accept a mouthful of food that savored of charity.
I don't believe our eight girls ever suspected us of playing Santa Claus
to them last year."

"Oh, I am certain they never knew," returned Arline quickly. "Of course,
there was a remote chance that they and the various girls, who
contributed might compare notes. But those who gave presents and money
were in honor bound not to ask questions or even discuss the matter
among themselves. I know the Morton House girls never said a word, too."

"Neither did the Wayne Hallites," rejoined Grace. "Even Miriam, Anne and
Elfreda asked no questions."

"Doesn't it seem wonderful to think that girls can be so splendidly
impersonal and honorable?" commented Arline admiringly. "College is the
very place to cultivate that attitude. Living up to college traditions
means being honorable in the highest sense of the word. There are plenty
of girls who come here without realizing what being an Overton girl
means, until they find themselves face to face with the fact that their
standards are not high enough. That is why one hears so much about
finding one's self. College is like a great mirror. When one first
enters it, one takes a quick glance at one's self and is pleased with
the effect. Later, when one stops for a more comprehensive survey, one
discovers all sorts of imperfections, and it takes four years of
constant striving with one's self as well as one's studies to make a
satisfactory reflection."

"What a quaint idea!" exclaimed Grace. "We might evolve a play from that
and call it 'The Magic Mirror.' That would be a stunt for a show. Miriam
Nesbit could do a college girl. She looks the part. But here, I am miles
off my subject. Suppose we go back to our girls. How are you going to
propose the dinner plan, Arline?"

"I'm going to wait until every last girl that is going home has
departed, bag and baggage; then I shall post a bulletin on the big
board, asking all the stay-heres to meet me in the gymnasium," planned
Arline. "I shall say that as I am going to stay over and didn't fancy
eating my Christmas dinner alone I thought perhaps the girls who had no
particular plans for the day would like to join me at either Martell's
or Vinton's. Then I'll explain about the price of the dinner, etc., all
in a perfectly offhand manner, and let them do the rest. There are
anywhere from one to two hundred girls who live at the various rooming
and boarding houses who will be glad to come. Many of them have never
been inside either Vinton's or Martell's. You would hardly believe it,
but it's true."

"I do believe it," said Grace soberly. "It seems a shame, too, when I
think of the amount of time and money we spend there."

"Well, I haven't grown philanthropic enough to give up going to either
one," declared Arline. "They are my havens of refuge when Morton House
cooking deteriorates, as it frequently does. Ask me for my cloak or even
my best new pumps, but don't tear me away from my favorite haunts."

"I won't," promised Grace. "I am afraid I feel the same. No chance for
reformation along that line. Shall we send the eight girls gifts or a
present of money this year, or both?"

"I suspect they have all borrowed from the Semper Fidelis fund this
year," was Arline's quick answer. "Suppose we send presents, and ask our
club girls alone to contribute toward them. If every one we asked gave
two dollars apiece, that would mean twenty-four dollars. We could invest
it in gloves, neckwear and pretty things that most poor girls are
obliged to do without. We gave money last year because those girls had
no one to help them. This year Semper Fidelis stands behind them.
Besides, some one might find it out this time. I said I was certain they
never knew, but I always had a curious idea that Miss Barlow suspected
you, Grace. Whenever I meet her she always speaks of you with positive
reverence."

A flush rose to Grace's face. "How ridiculous," she murmured. "You are
the real heroine of that adventure. Have you decided on your programme
for the week yet?"

"Only the costume party and a basketball game, if we can scare up two
teams, and a winter picnic at Hunter's Rock, if it isn't too cold. A
play, if we can gather up enough actors, and a dance in the gymnasium.
I'm going to give an afternoon tea, and that's all, I think. They will
have to amuse themselves the rest of the time," finished Arline with a
sigh. "There are so many ifs attached to my plans."

"I predict a busy two weeks for you," said Grace, "but then--"

From the room adjoining, which opened into the living room and was used
as a parlor, came the sound of a slight cough. Grace was on her feet in
an instant. With a bound she sprang toward the curtained archway and,
pushing it aside, peered sharply into the room. It was empty.

"Did you hear some one cough, Arline?" she asked anxiously.

"Yes," replied Arline, who had joined her. "The sound came from in here,
didn't it?"

"So I imagined," declared Grace in a puzzled tone. "Perhaps it came from
the hall. No one could have escaped from here before I reached the door
without my hearing them. It startled me, because we had been talking so
confidentially. I glanced in as we passed the door when we went into the
living room and there wasn't a soul in sight. Whoever coughed a few
moments ago must have slipped into the room and slipped out again."

"Then, whoever it is has heard the very things we didn't wish known!"
exclaimed Arline in consternation. "Now I can't carry out any of my
plans. How perfectly dreadful!"

"Perhaps it was Mrs. Elwood," said Grace hopefully.

"Mrs. Elwood is far too stout to walk so lightly and vanish so rapidly,"
discouraged Arline. "I--it--must have been some one who was trying to
hear."

"If that is the case, the person is in this house and must be found and
sworn to secrecy," said Grace sternly. "I am afraid we were talking too
loudly. However, the person may have only come as far as the door, then
passed on upstairs. Suppose we go up and ask all the girls. We shall
feel better satisfied, and they won't object to being interviewed."

But all efforts to locate the accidental or intentional listener failed.
Many of the girls had not yet come in from their classes, and those whom
Grace found in their rooms had evidently been there for some time.
Kathleen West was among those still out. Miss Ainslee informed her
visitors of this fact with an unmistakable sigh of relief that Grace
interpreted with a slight smile. As she went slowly down the stairs to
the living room, followed by Arline, whose baby face wore an expression
of deepest gloom, the door bell rang and the maid admitted the newspaper
girl. She swept past the two juniors who stood at the foot of the stairs
without the slightest sign of recognition, and neither girl saw the look
of triumph that animated her face the instant she had turned her back
upon them and hurried up the stairs.

"What shall we do?" asked Arline as once more they seated themselves at
the library table opposite each other.

"We can't do anything until we find the girl who listened, and the
question is how are we to find her?" Grace made a little gesture of
despair.

Arline shrugged her dainty shoulders. "I don't know. Perhaps she will
never repeat what she has heard. Curiosity alone may have prompted her
to listen. We may be agreeably disappointed."

Grace shook her head. "I wish I could believe that," she said. "I don't
wish to croak, but I have a curious conviction that the person who
listened had a motive deeper than mere curiosity."



CHAPTER XV

A TISSUE PAPER TEA


"What in the name of all mysterious is going on between you and
Alice-In-Wonderland Daffydowndilly Thayer?" demanded Elfreda Briggs as
she lovingly wrapped a large pasteboard box in white tissue paper and
tied it with a huge bow of scarlet satin ribbon. "This is Miriam's
present," she drawled calmly. "You will observe that she has obligingly
turned her back while I am engaged in wrestling with wrapping it. I
never could tie a bow. I have had this box in the closet for a week, and
it has fallen out every time we opened the door, but Miriam, beloved
angel, hasn't shown the slightest curiosity. You may look, my dear, the
big box is all put away," she declared, as though addressing a very
small child.

"What a ridiculous person you are, J. Elfreda Briggs," laughed Miriam.
"One might think me at the kindergarten age, instead of your guardian
and keeper."

"Tell me what it is, Elfreda," teased Grace.

"On one condition," answered Elfreda, reaching for a small square box
and beginning to wrap it in holly paper. "Tell me what you and Arline
are planning!"

"It's a secret," returned Grace. "I'd love to tell you, but I am pledged
until the day we go home. When we are all in the train and it has
started on the home stretch then you shall know."

"There is no time like the present," invited Elfreda.

"No," laughed Grace, shaking her head. "Not now. I have given my promise
to Arline."

"She won't tell even me," smiled Anne Pierson, who, with Grace, had
carried her Christmas gifts to Miriam's and Elfreda's room, in answer to
Elfreda's invitation to a tissue paper tea. "Bring all your stuff,"
Elfreda directed. "There will be plenty of paper and ribbon and twine
and tea and cakes if I have time to go for them." Cheered with the
prospect of tea and cakes, which were a certainty in spite of Elfreda's
provisional promise, the two guests had come, their arms full of
bundles.

"Well, if she won't tell _you_, the rest of us might as well save our
breath," declared Elfreda. "Never mind, we have only two more days to
wait. Oh, aren't you glad you're going home? I have been homesick for
the last three days. I'm glad we are going to stay in Fairview and have
an old-fashioned Christmas. I am going to drive to the woods and cut
down my own Christmas tree, too."

"That reminds me, Miriam, we must make up a party and go to Upton Wood
to see old Jean. We didn't see him last summer on account of his being
away up in northwestern Canada. He went as a guide. Don't you remember?
In Mother's last letter she wrote that he had been seen in Oakdale. That
means that he has come back to his cabin in Upton Wood."

"Hurrah!" exclaimed Miriam, waving a long, narrow package over her head.
"That means a winter picnic, and supper at old Jean's cabin."

"Who is old Jean?" asked Elfreda curiously.

"Come down to Oakdale between Christmas and New Year and go with us on
the picnic," teased Miriam. "You can see old Jean for yourself."

"Can't do it," responded Elfreda. "I am strictly Pa's and Ma's girl this
time. I've promised."

"Then I suppose I shall have to enlighten you," smiled Grace. "Jean is
an old Frenchman, a hunter who drifted down to Oakdale from somewhere in
Canada. He has a log cabin in Upton Wood, a forest just east of Oakdale.
To him I owe the beautiful set of fox furs, you have so often admired.
He had the skins dressed for me, and Mother sent them to a furrier's in
New York and had them made into a muff and scarf for me. I have known
him since I was a little girl."

"Lucky you," commented Elfreda. "There, I've finished my packages. I'm
going out to buy cakes. You have worked nobly. This Saturday afternoon,
at least, has been well spent, thanks to my tissue paper tea. Now we'll
have real tea." Piling her smaller packages into a neat heap, she made a
dive for her long brown coat and fur cap. "Don't dare to touch one of
those packages. You might guess what is in them. Good-bye. I'll be back
before you know it."

As the door closed after her with a resounding bang, Miriam remarked
affectionately: "Elfreda is in her element. She loves to play hostess
and give tea parties."

"She is becoming one of the important girls in college, isn't she?"
observed Anne. "I was so glad to see her rushed by the Phi Beta Gammas."

"She was more moved than she would admit over being asked to join them,"
returned Miriam. "She used to make ridiculous remarks about them and
call them the P. B. Gammas, but in her heart she looked upon them with
positive awe. Wasn't it nice to think we were all asked?"

"I should say so," agreed Grace. "It would have been dreadful if one of
us had been left out." She patted her sorority pin with intense
satisfaction. "In spite of belonging to the most important sorority in
college, there never will be another sorority like the Phi Sigma Tau,
will there, girls?"

"No," said Miriam, smiling with a reminiscent tenderness at sound of the
familiar name.

"Dear old P. S. T.," murmured Anne. "How I wish we might call a meeting
now and have every member present."

"There is bound to be one vacant place when we gather home next week,"
said Grace a trifle sadly.

"The Lady Eleanor," sighed Miriam. "I hope we'll see her some time next
year."

The arrival of Elfreda, her arms filled with bundles, cut short Miriam's
reflections. One by one Elfreda calmly laid down her packages and began
preparations for her tissue paper tea. The stout girl's mood seemed to
have changed, however. She answered her companions' gay sallies rather
abstractedly, with the air of one whose thoughts were anywhere but on
her guests. Several times Grace glanced up to find Elfreda's eyes fixed
reflectively upon her.

When, at five o'clock, she announced her intention of going for a walk
before dinner, Elfreda gave her another peculiar look and announced her
intention of accompanying her. Anne and Miriam, who had elected to
occupy the time before dinner in writing to the Southards, declined
Grace's invitation, and as the two girls walked briskly down the street,
Elfreda breathed a deep sigh of relief. "With all due respect to Miriam
and Anne, I am glad they didn't join us," she said coolly.

"What is on your mind now?" asked Grace shrewdly.

"So you realize at last that there is something on my mind, do you!"
retorted Elfreda grimly. "I began to think you never could. I made all
kinds of signals to you with my eyes."

"I thought they were signals, but wasn't sure," said Grace quickly.

"Well, you can be sure now. I don't want you to think me a Paul Pry, but
I know all about that Christmas business last year."

"What 'Christmas business'?" asked Grace sharply.

"You know very well what I mean, the eight girls and all that."

"Why--who----" began Grace in displeased astonishment.

"No, I didn't try to find out," interrupted Elfreda. "You know me better
than that. No one told me, either. I just put two and two together. I
could see last year that----"

"Is there anything you can't see?" exclaimed Grace.

"Not much," responded Elfreda modestly. "I knew, of course, you would do
something for those girls this year."

"You could see that, I suppose," said Grace satirically.

"Exactly," nodded Elfreda with an irresistible grin. Their eyes meeting,
both girls laughed. Elfreda's face sobered first. "My news isn't
pleasant, Grace. Read this." Slipping her hand into her coat pocket she
drew forth a half sheet of paper partly covered with writing. Grace
received it wonderingly:

"Two Overton College Girls Play Lady Bountiful to Their Needy
Classmates," she read. The words were arranged to form headlines, and
below was written: "The latest whim of two wealthy students of Overton
College has taken the form of Sweet Charity, and impecunious students of
Overton whose finances will not permit of their making long railway
journeys home for Christmas are to be the object of these young women's
solicitude. Their less fortunate classmates will be their guests at a
dinner on Christmas which by special arrangement will be served
at----" The writing ended with the bottom of the sheet.

"What do you think of that?" demanded Elfreda laconically.

A tide of crimson rose to Grace's face. "I think it is contemptible,"
she cried. "When and where did you find it, Elfreda?"

"Just outside the door of the room at the end of the hall," replied
Elfreda. "I picked it up as I was coming back from the delicatessen
shop."

Grace's eyes flashed. "I suspected as much," she said shortly. "What
does this look like to you, Elfreda?"

"Newspaper copy," replied Elfreda promptly. "It isn't the first, either.
I happen to know she writes college stuff and sends it to her paper
every week. I knew that long ago. I subscribed to the Sunday edition of
her paper on purpose. I know her articles, too. She signs them
'Elizabeth Vassar.' I have been quietly censoring them all along, ready
to object if she once overstepped the line. So far she hasn't. I didn't
know this was her copy until I had read it. Then it dawned upon me what
the whole thing meant. This is the beginning of an article designed
purely for spite. It is a direct stab at you and Arline. I suppose
certain other people have influenced her against you, Grace. These very
people will see to the circulation of the paper here at Overton, too,
when the article appears, or I'm no prophet."

"I suppose so," assented Grace almost wearily. "I am sure I can't think
of any reason other than spite for this." She took a few steps in
silence, her eyes bent on the sheet of paper.

"You had better hurry and do something about this," advised Elfreda,
lightly touching the paper with her forefinger, "or it will be too
late."

Grace glanced up with a slight start.

"Once she finds the first of her copy missing it won't take her long to
rewrite it," reminded Elfreda. "She may have mailed it by this time,
although I hardly think so. I am afraid you will have trouble with her.
She looks like one of the do-as-I-please-in-spite-of-you kind. What's
the matter, Grace? What makes you look so funny?"

"I know where I saw it!" exclaimed Grace enigmatically, apparently deaf
to Elfreda's questions. "It was in the note. She wrote it. Strange I
never thought of that."

"Grace Harlowe," demanded Elfreda with asperity, "have you suddenly
taken leave of your senses?"

"No," returned Grace, her gray eyes gleaming wrathfully, her lips set in
a determined line as she faced about. "I've just found them. Yes,
Elfreda, I shall certainly call on Miss West, and at once."



CHAPTER XVI

A DOUBTFUL VICTORY


During the walk to Wayne Hall, Elfreda could scarcely keep pace with
Grace's flying feet. She made no complaint, however, but kept sturdily
at her companion's side, holding her breath and closing her lips tightly
to keep from panting. Grace ran into her own room for a moment, then
back to Elfreda, who stood waiting in the upstairs hall.

"Shall I leave you here?" she asked in a low tone as Grace returned, a
second folded paper in her hand.

"No," replied Grace. "I think it would be well for you to go with me. I
don't know any one else I'd rather have," she added honestly.

"Thank you," bowed Elfreda, flushing and looking embarrassed at the
compliment. "I'll never desert Micawber--Harlowe, I mean."

"Look serious. I am ready," said Grace softly. Then she knocked
imperatively upon the door. There was a tense moment of waiting, then
the door was opened by Kathleen West herself. Her sharp face looked
still sharper as she eyed her visitors with ill-concealed disapproval.

"Good evening, Miss West," said Grace with distant politeness. "If you
are not too busy, can you spare Miss Briggs and me a few moments? We
have something of grave importance to say to you."

"Please make your business as brief as possible," snapped Kathleen,
holding the door as though ready to close it in their faces the instant
they stated their errand.

"Thank you," said Grace with unruffled calm. "We had better step inside
your room, for a moment, at least. The hall is hardly the place for what
I have to say."

The newspaper girl darted a swift, appraising glance at Grace. Her
shrewd eyes fell before the steady light of Grace's gray ones. "Come
in," she said shortly, then in a sarcastic tone, "Shall I close the
door?"

"It would be better, I think," returned Grace in quietly significant
tones.

The color flooded Kathleen West's sallow face. Her eyes began to flash
ominously. "Your tone is insulting, Miss Harlowe!" she exclaimed.

"I answered your question, Miss West," returned Grace evenly. "However,
I did not come here to quarrel with you. My errand has to do with the
articles you write for the Sunday edition of your paper which you sign
'Elizabeth Vassar.' Miss Briggs has been following them for some time
with a great deal of interest. This afternoon she found a part of what
is evidently copy for an article."

Before Grace could go on Kathleen West had turned imperatively toward
Elfreda. "Give it to me at once," she commanded. "I have hunted high and
low for it. Your finding it is very strange, I must say. I am sure it
was never off my desk."

Elfreda half closed her eyes and regarded the newspaper girl with the
air of one viewing a rare curiosity for the first time. "Then your desk
must be on the hall floor just outside the door," was her dry retort.
"At least that is where I found this paper." A certain significant ring
in the girl's voice admitted of no contradiction. For a brief interval
no one spoke. Then Elfreda said smoothly, "As we appear to understand
that point, go on, Grace."

"Give me my copy," reiterated Kathleen sullenly, before Grace had a
chance to continue.

"Miss West," returned Grace very quietly, "Miss Briggs and I have read
the copy which Miss Briggs found, and I have come here to say that you
will be doing not only yourself but a great many other girls an
injustice if you make public Miss Thayer's plans for the girls who
remain at Overton for the holidays. Miss Thayer wishes the girls to feel
perfectly independent in this matter, and whatever she contributes
privately toward it is strictly her own affair. If this article appears
on the school and college page, some of these girls are sure to hear of
it and feel humiliated and resentful, particularly if the rest of the
article is as callously cruel as its beginning."

Kathleen West laughed disagreeably. "That is not my affair. I have
agreed to furnish my paper with snappy college news. This makes a good
story. To supply my paper with good stories is my first business."

"Pardon me," retorted Grace scornfully, "I should imagine that loyalty
to one's self and one's college constituted an Overton girl's first
business."

"I can't see that this particular story has anything to do with being
loyal to Overton," sneered Kathleen. "As for being loyal to myself, that
is for me to judge. Who dares say I am disloyal?"

"Nothing very daring about that," drawled Elfreda. "I say so."

"You," stormed Kathleen. "Who are you?"

"J. Elfreda Briggs," murmured the stout girl sweetly.

"Yes," continued Kathleen sneeringly, "I have heard of the jumble you
made of your freshman year. It took a number of influential friends to
pull you into favor again, I believe."

"Not half such a jumble as you are making of yours," smiled Elfreda.
Then she went on gravely: "I am glad you mentioned that freshman year. I
did behave like an imbecile. Thanks to a number of girls who believed I
was worth bothering with, I have learned to know what Overton requires
of me. If you are wise, you'll face about, too. You will find it pays,
and there are all sorts of pleasant compensations for what one expends
in effort. That's all. I've said my say."

A curious, half-admiring expression flitted across Kathleen's thin
little face. Then, turning to Grace, she said defiantly: "Give me my
copy. I don't wish to rewrite it and I am going to send it to-night."

"I'm sorry you won't be fair about this, Miss West," said Grace
regretfully, "but perhaps I can induce you to change your mind."

"I don't understand you," said Kathleen West stiffly.

Grace held a folded paper before the newspaper girl's eyes.

"Here is the letter you wrote the dean regarding our bazaar. The dean
gave it to me. She does not nor never will know who wrote it, unless
you, yourself, tell her. That is something, however, that you and your
conscience must decide. Here also is your page of copy. Under the
circumstances, don't you think you might destroy this page and the
others?"

[Illustration: "Here is the Letter You Wrote the Dean."]

Kathleen took the proffered papers with a set, enigmatic expression on
her pointed features. Slowly she walked to her desk, picked up several
sheets of copy and placing them with the sheet in her hand offered them
to Grace.

Grace shook her head. "I will take your word," she said.

With a shrug of her shoulders the newspaper girl tore the papers across,
then into bits, tossing them into her waste basket. "You win," she said
with slangy effectiveness, then she added--"this time."

"Thank you," responded Grace gravely. "Good night, Miss West."

Kathleen did not respond.

Grace's hand was on the doorknob when the newspaper girl said harshly:
"Wait. Don't think your lofty sentiments about college honor and all
that nonsense impressed me to the point of destroying that copy. Once
and for all I want you to understand that college ideals and traditions
are not worrying me. I did not come to Overton to moon. I am only using
college as a means to the end. What you offered me was a fair exchange.
As you know a great deal too much about certain things, it is just as
well to be on the safe side. I dare say I shall stumble on something
else in the news line just as good as the charity dinner stunt." With a
shrug of her shoulders that conveyed far more than words, she walked
over to the window, turning her back directly upon her callers, nor did
she change her position until an instant later the sound of the closing
door announced to her that her unwelcome visitors had departed.



CHAPTER XVII

HIPPY LOOKS MYSTERIOUS


"Merry, Merry Christmas everywhere, Cheerily it ringeth through the
air," sang Grace Harlowe joyously as she twined a long spray of ground
pine about the chandelier in the hall, then stepping down from the stool
on which she had been standing, backed off, viewing it critically.

"Oh, but it's good to be home!" she trilled, making a rush for her
mother, who had just appeared in the door, and winding both arms tightly
about her.

"My own little girl," returned her mother fondly. "How Father and I have
missed you!"

"That's my greatest drawback to perfect happiness," sighed Grace,
rubbing her soft cheek against her mother's: "Not to be able to be in
two places at once. Now, if you were with me at Overton I wouldn't have
a thing left to sigh for. You don't know how much I miss you, Mother,
and Father, too. Sometimes I grow so homesick that I can't read or study
or do anything but just think of you. Anne says she can always tell when
I am extra blue."

"Your college life is only the beginning of our parting of ways, dear
child. Mother would like to keep you safe and sheltered at home, but you
are too active, too progressive, to be content as a home girl," said
Mrs. Harlowe rather sadly. "You are likely to discover that your work
lies far from Oakdale, but you know that whatever or wherever it may be
your father and I will wish you Godspeed. You are to be perfectly free
in the matter of choosing your future business of life."

"Don't I know that, you dearest, best mother a girl ever had!" exclaimed
Grace, a quick mist clouding her gray eyes. "But never fear, I shan't
ever stay away from you long at a time. I couldn't." Unwinding her arms
from about her mother's neck, Grace linked one arm through Mrs.
Harlowe's and marched her into the adjoining living room.

"Doesn't it look exactly like Christmas?" she asked proudly. "See the
tree. Isn't it a beauty? We have loads of presents, too. Isn't Miriam a
goose and a dear all rolled into one? She won't come to my Christmas
tree because she isn't one of the Eight Originals. I asked her to be a
Ninth Original, but she said 'No.' She is coming, though, only she
doesn't know it. David received a telegram from Arnold Evans yesterday.
He is expected to-night on the six o'clock train. Miriam doesn't know
that, either. She thinks he was unable to come, and won't she be
surprised when he appears to escort her to our house?" Grace laughed
gleefully in anticipation of Miriam's astonishment at sight of Arnold
Evans, who was always a welcome addition to their little company.

Two immeasurably happy days had passed since the train from the east had
steamed away from Oakdale, leaving three eager girls on the platform of
the station. The evening train had brought Eva Allen, Marian Barber,
Jessica Bright and Nora O'Malley. Grace, Miriam and Anne, accompanied by
a slender, brown-eyed young woman, whom they addressed as Mabel, had met
the train. Jessica Bright's radiant delight at beholding the face of her
foster sister, Mabel Allison, can be better imagined than described.
Mabel and her mother had arrived three days before, and were to divide
their month's stay in Oakdale between the Gibsons of Hawk's Nest, an
estate several miles from Oakdale, and the Brights. Jessica's aunt, Mr.
Bright's only sister, who had never married, now presided over the
Bright household, with a grace and hospitality that gained for her not
only the reputation of a delightful hostess, but the adoration of
Jessica's friends as well.

It was now the day before Christmas, and that evening Grace had invited
her dearest friends to help her keep Christmas Eve.

"Just as though we could get along without Miriam!" she exclaimed
enthusiastically. "You haven't any idea, Mother, what a power for good
she is at Overton. It isn't half so much what she says as the way she
says it. She has so much tact. Elfreda worships her."

"I am sorry Elfreda could not come home with you," commented Mrs.
Harlowe.

"We were all sorry," returned Grace regretfully. "She may run down for a
day before we go back to college. We have promised her a winter picnic
in Upton Wood and a supper at old Jean's if she comes. That ought to
tempt her. Oh, there's the bell. I know that is Anne! She promised to be
here early. The Eight Originals are going to trim the tree, you know."

Grace rushed to the front door to open it for Anne, who staggered into
the hall, her arms full of packages. "Oh, catch them," she gasped. "I'm
going to drop them all and two of them are breakable."

Grace sprang forward to relieve Anne of her load. One fat package fell
to the floor and rolled under the living-room sofa. Grace made a
laughing dive after it. Then, dropping to her knees, peered under the
sofa, dragged it forth in triumph and presented it to Anne.

Anne thanked her. "It is for Hippy," she smiled. "You might know that it
would behave in an extraordinary manner. I've been so busy this morning.
I was up before seven, helped Mother with the breakfast, went on a
shopping expedition, and now I'm here. It isn't eleven o'clock yet,
either."

"Imagine Everett Southard's leading woman washing dishes," smiled Grace.

"She did, though," rejoined Anne cheerfully, "and swept the dining room
and kitchen, too. I have an invitation to deliver. I am going to
entertain the Eight Originals and Mrs. Gray at my house next Tuesday
evening. You'll receive a real summons to my party by mail."

"How formal," said Grace gayly. "However, Miss Harlowe accepts with
pleasure Miss Pierson's kind invitation, etc."

"Miss Pierson is duly honored by Miss Harlowe's prompt acceptance,"
laughed Anne. "Do the boys know about bringing their presents here?"

"Oh, yes," returned Grace. "There goes the door bell!" She hurried to
the door, flinging it wide open to admit three stalwart young men whose
clean-cut, boyish faces shone with good humor.

"Hurrah for old Kris Kringle!" cried Hippy, who was in the lead, as he
skipped nimbly into the living-room, and set down the heavy suit case he
carried with a flourish. Then backing into David Nesbit, who stood
directly behind him, he said apologetically: "I beg your pardon, David,
but if you will insist in taking up so much space you must expect to
have your toes trampled upon."

"I don't take up one half as much space as you do," flung back David.

"True; I hadn't looked at the matter in that light," Hippy agreed
hastily. "Let us change the subject. I am so pleased, Grace, to know
that you are giving this little affair in my honor. I really didn't
expect to----"

"Be put out of the house," finished Reddy with a menacing step toward
Hippy.

"Exactly," agreed Hippy. "No, I don't mean that at all. I was about to
say that I really didn't expect to be obliged to put Reddy Brooks out of
the house for threatened assault. It seems too bad to mar the gentle
peace of Christmas by such deeds of violence." Hippy sighed loudly, then
with a gesture of finality warily sidled toward Reddy, an expression of
deadly determination on his round face. The sound of a ringing laugh
from the doorway caused him to forget his grievance and make for the
door as fast as his legs would carry him. "Reddy, you are saved," he
announced, leading Nora O'Malley into the room. "Thank your gentle
preserver, Miss O'Malley."

"You mean you are saved," corrected Reddy with a derisive grin.

"All the same, all the same," retorted Hippy airily. "I am saved because
you are saved, and you are saved because I am saved. We are both saved
this time, aren't we, Grace?"

"Yes, I forbid either one of you to usher the other out," laughed Grace.

"There, Reddy, you heard!" exclaimed Hippy. "Now heed."

"Have you seen Jessica this morning, Nora?" asked Reddy, answering
Hippy's admonition with a withering look.

"She will be here later," replied Nora. "She has gone shopping with
Mabel, who is going to Hawk's Nest for Christmas Eve."

"We are all booked for Christmas Day with our families," smiled David.

"Thank goodness we have them," said Hippy with a seriousness that
surprised even himself.

"Same here, Hippy," agreed David gravely.

"And here," was the united response from the others.

Jessica, who had seen Mabel Allison into the car Mrs. Gibson had sent to
convey her to Hawk's Nest, was the next arrival. Later Tom Gray appeared
with a grip and a suit case. When the real work of trimming the tree
began, Hippy retired to the library table with the plea that he had not
yet tagged his gifts. To that end he wrote what seemed to Nora O'Malley,
who eyed him suspiciously, a surprising amount of cards, chuckling
softly to himself as he wrote. Happening to catch her eye he looked
rather guilty, then, cocking his head to one side, simpered
languishingly, "What shall I say to thee, heart of my heart?" Nora's
tip-tilted little nose was promptly elevated still higher, and she
walked away without observing the triumphant gleam in Hippy's blue eyes.

At one o'clock the Eight Originals halted for luncheon, which proved to
be a merry meal. By half-past two o'clock the tall balsam tree, heavy
with its weight of decorations and strange Christmas fruit, was
pronounced finished, and the party of jubilant young people reluctantly
separated to assemble after dinner for one of their old-time frolics.

The evening train brought Arnold Evans, and Miriam found herself whisked
down Chapel Hill toward Grace's home by David and Arnold despite her
protests that neither she nor Arnold really belonged. "You and Arnold
are the honorary members," David reminded her, "and are, therefore,
eligible to all our revels."

When, at eight o'clock, the little group of guests, which included Mrs.
Gray, had gathered in the Harlowe's cozy living room and to Mr. Harlowe
had fallen the honor of playing Santa Claus, something peculiar
happened. Nearly all the gifts fell to Hippy, who rose with every
repetition of his name, bowed profoundly, grinned significantly in his
best Chessy-cat manner and, swooping down upon the gifts, gathered them
unto himself. As he was about to take smiling possession of a large,
flat package an indignant, "Let me see that package, Mr. Harlowe," from
Nora O'Malley caused all eyes to be focused upon it.

"Just as I suspected," sputtered Nora, glaring at the offending Hippy,
whose grin appeared to grow wider with every second. Taking the package
from Mr. Harlowe, she triumphantly held up a holly-wreathed card that
had been deftly concealed beneath a fold of tissue paper, and read, "To
Grace, with love from Nora."

"Discovered!" exclaimed Hippy in hollow tones, making a dive for the
package and failing to secure it.

Nora held it above her head. "Here, Grace, it's yours," she explained.
"Don't pay any attention to that other card."

Grace had turned her attention to a large tag that was fastened to the
holly ribbon with which the package was tied. She read aloud, "To my
esteemed friend, Hippy, from his humble little admirer, Nora O'Malley."

The instant of silence was followed by a shout of laughter, in which
Nora joined. "You rascal!" she exclaimed, shaking her finger at Hippy.
"I knew you were planning mischief when you sat over there writing those
cards. Take all those presents, girls. I am sure they don't belong to
this deceitful reprobate."

Hippy at once set up a dismal wail, and clutched his packages to his
breast, dropping all but two in the process. These were snapped up by
Reddy and Nora almost before they touched the floor.

"Here's the umbrella I thought I bought for Tom," growled Reddy, as he
ripped off the simple inscription, "To Hippy, with love, Reddy."

"Yes, and here is the monogrammed stationery I ordered made for
Jessica," added Nora, glaring at the stout young man, who smiled
blithely in return as one who had received an especial favor.

"You are holding on to two of my presents, though," he reminded.

Nora made a hasty inspection of the packages, then shoved the two
presents toward him. "There they are," she said severely. "If I had
known how badly you were going to behave, I wouldn't have given you a
thing."

"Take your scarf pin, Indian giver," jeered Hippy, holding out a small
package, then jerking it back again.

"How do you know it's a scarf pin?" inquired Nora.

"My intuition tells me, my child," returned Hippy gently.

"Then your intuition is all wrong," declared Nora O'Malley disdainfully.

"Always ready to argue," sighed Hippy.

"Mrs. Gray, I appeal to you, don't allow Hippy and Nora to start an
argument. There won't be either time or chance for anything else."

"Hippy and Nora, be good children," laughingly admonished the sprightly
old lady.

"Look out for Hippy's cards," David cautioned Mr. Harlowe.

The rest of the gifts were distributed without accident, and then by
common consent a great unwrapping began, accompanied by rapturous "ohs,"
and plenty of "thank yous."

It was almost one o'clock on Christmas morning before any of the guests
even thought of home. After the tree had been despoiled of its bloom, an
impromptu show followed in which the young folks performed the stunts
for which they were famous. Then came supper, dancing, and the usual
Virginia Reel, led by Mr. Harlowe and Mrs. Gray, in which Hippy
distinguished himself by a series of quaint and marvelous steps.

"One more good time to add to our dozens of others," said Miriam Nesbit
softly as she kissed Grace good night. "I feel to-night as though I
could say with particular emphasis: 'Peace on Earth, Good Will Toward
Men.'"

"And I feel," said Hippy, who had overheard Miriam's low-toned remark,
"as though I had been unjustly and unkindly treated. I was cheated of
over half my Christmas gifts by those unblushing miscreants known as
David Nesbit, Reddy Brooks and Tom Gray. Nora O'Malley helped them,
too."

"Jessica and Reddy, will you take me home to-night?" asked Nora sweetly,
edging away from the complaining Hippy.

"We shall be only too pleased to be your escort," Reddy answered with
alacrity, casting a sidelong glance of triumph at Hippy.

"And I shall be only too pleased to annihilate Reddy Brooks for daring
to suggest any such thing," retorted Hippy, striding toward the
offending Reddy.

"Come, come, Hippy," laughed Mrs. Harlowe, who enjoyed Hippy's pranks as
much as did his companions, "this is Christmas, you know. Why not let
Reddy live?"

"Very well, I will," agreed Hippy, "but only to please you, Mrs.
Harlowe. Once we leave here, the annihilation process is likely to begin
at the first disrespectful word on the part of a certain crimson-haired
individual whose name I won't mention. It will be a painful process."

"There isn't the slightest doubt about it being painful to you," was
Reddy's grim retort.

"I wonder if I had better wait until after Christmas to do the deed,"
mused Hippy. "There's Reddy's family to consider. Perhaps I had
better--"

"--behave yourself in future and not refer to your friends as
'miscreants' after appropriating their Christmas presents," lectured
David Nesbit.

"All right, I agree to your proposition on one condition," stipulated
Hippy.

"Something to eat, I suppose," said David wearily.

"No; you are a wild guesser as well as a slanderer. If Nora O'Malley
will withdraw the cruel request she just made I will forgive even
Reddy."

And when the little party of young folks started on their homeward way
the forgiving Hippy with Nora O'Malley on his arm marched gayly along
behind the forgiven, but wholly unappreciative Reddy.



CHAPTER XVIII

OLD JEAN'S STORY


"It's 'Ho for the forest!'" sang Tom Gray jubilantly, as he waved his
stout walking stick over the low stone wall that separated the party of
picnickers from Upton Wood.

"Isn't it magnificent?" asked Grace of Anne, her gray eyes glowing as
she looked ahead at the snowy road that stretched like a great white
ribbon between the deep green rows of pine and fir trees.

"Perfect," agreed Anne dreamily, who was drinking in the solemn beauty
of the snow-wrapped forest, an expression of reverence on her small
face.

"I wonder if the snow in the road is very deep?" soliloquized Jessica
unsentimentally.

"How can you break in upon our rapt musings with such commonplaces?"
laughed Grace. "To return to earth; I don't imagine the snow is deep.
This road is much traveled, and the snow looks fairly well packed. What
do you say, Huntsman Gray?" She turned to Tom with a smile.

"It isn't deep. All aboard for Upton Wood!" called Tom cheerily. "Come
on, Grace." He extended a helping hand to her.

But Grace needed no assistance. With a laughing shake of her head she
vaulted the low wall as easily as Tom himself could have cleared it.
Nora followed her, then Miriam, while Anne and Jessica were content to
allow themselves to be assisted by David and Reddy. Then the picnickers
swung into the wide snow-packed road that wound its way to the other end
of Upton Wood, a matter of perhaps ten miles. Being a part of the road
to the state capital and a famous automobile route it was sedulously
looked after and kept in good condition, and was therefore not difficult
to travel.

The cabin of old Jean, the hunter, was situated some distance from the
main road in the thickest part of the forest. The day before, the five
young men, with a bobsled filled with grocers' supplies, had driven to
the point of the road nearest the cabin and a brisk unloading had
followed. After their first trip to the cottage old Jean had returned to
the sleigh with them, his fur cap awry, gesticulating delightedly and
chattering volubly as he walked. Of a surety Mamselle Grace and her
friends were welcome. He deplored the fact that they had insisted upon
bringing their own provisions, but David, who suspected the old hunter's
larder to be none too well stocked with eatables, had quieted Jean's
remonstrances with the diplomatic assertion that the affair having been
planned by the "Eight Originals Plus Two," as they had now agreed to
call themselves, and given in honor of the old hunter himself, it was
their privilege to pay the piper. Jean had shaken his head rather
dubiously over the miscellaneous heap of groceries that spread over at
least a quarter of his floor, but his first protest had been laughingly
silenced by the five sturdy foresters, who threatened to turn him out of
house and home if he did not allow his friends to celebrate in peace.

On this particular morning Jean had been up and doing since five
o'clock. He had decorated his cabin walls with ground pine and
evergreen, and as a last touch had, with many chuckles, suspended from
the ceiling an unusually perfect piece of mistletoe, which he had
tramped into Oakdale early that morning to secure. He had cleaned his
rifle first, then swept and scrubbed his cabin floor, and the pine table
off which he ate, until the most critical housekeeper could have found
no fault with the shining cleanliness of the place. The rousing fire
that he built in the big fireplace soon dried the floor, and after
arranging his few household effects to the best advantage, Jean busied
himself with getting in a good supply of wood before his young guests,
who had set the hour of three o'clock for their arrival, should appear
upon the scene.

It was precisely ten minutes to three when the little company reached
the top of the hill at the foot of which nestled old Jean's cottage, and
halted for a moment before descending.

"Sound the call of the Elf's Horn, Tom," demanded Grace. "I only wish I
could sound it. I've tried over and over again, but I can't do it."

"It is a gift which the fairies reserve for only a few favored mortals,"
teased Tom.

"Then I am not one of them," declared Grace. "I have watched for fairies
since I was a little girl and never met with one yet. I know every
individual fairy in Grimms', Andersen's and Lang's by reputation, too."

"What about your fairy prince?" was Tom's quick question. The two pairs
of gray eyes met. Grace smiled with frank amusement.

"I have never looked for a fairy prince," she said lightly. "I never
cared half so much about the fairy princes and the clothes and weddings
as I did about giants, witches and spells, mysterious happenings and
magic mirrors. I loved 'The Brave Little Tailor' and 'The Youth Who
Could Not Shiver and Shake.'"

"I always liked the 'False Bride' and 'Rapunzel,'" remarked Jessica
sentimentally, who had come up beside Grace and Tom.

"Of what are you talking?" asked Nora, who had caught Jessica's last
word.

"We were naming the fairy tales we always liked best."

"I always liked the 'Magic Fiddle,'" said Nora, with a reminiscent
chuckle. "I used to keep a copy of Grimms' Fairy Tales in my desk at
school, just for that story. It always made me giggle. I could fairly
see all those poor people dancing whether they wished to dance or not.
Ask Hippy what his favorite fairy tale is," she dimpled, lowering her
voice.

"Say, Hippopotamus," called Tom, "what's your favorite fairy tale?"
Hippy, who stood a little to one side, appeared to think deeply, then
said with a sentimental smile: "The 'Table Prepare Thyself' story. Oh,
if I might have had such a table!" Hippy sighed dolefully. "Then I would
never have been obliged when out on these excursions to humbly beg for
crumbs to sustain my failing strength till such time as you slow-pokes
saw fit to eat."

"Don't I always give you things to eat when everyone else laughs at
you?" demanded Nora belligerently.

"Yes, my noble benefactor," whined Hippy, "but you didn't to-day."

"I don't intend to, either," was Nora's unfeeling response. "I purposely
told Tom to ask you that. I knew you'd name one that had a good deal
about eating in it."

"Stop squabbling," commanded Reddy, his fingers fastened in the back of
Hippy's collar, "or down the hill you go. Keep quiet, now, Tom is going
to perform."

Tom placed his hands to his mouth. His friends listened intently. Then
came the peculiar whistle that sounded like the note of a trumpet. Tom
whistled repeatedly, and two minutes later they saw old Jean come racing
up the steep path toward them. He had heard the mysterious Elf's Horn.

"Never forgot it, did you, Jean?" laughed Tom, seizing the old man's
hand and shaking it warmly.

"No, Monsieur Tom; once I hear, it is impossible that I should forget,"
replied Jean in his quaint English. "An' now that you have honor me this
afternoon, it is well that you come to my cabin where the fire burn for
you an' the coffee wait, an' all is ready for my frien's who mak' so
long walk for the sake of ol' Jean."

"Of course we did, Jean," smiled Grace as they started for the cabin.
"Don't we always come to see you when we are home from college?"

"It is true, Mamselle Grace," returned Jean solemnly. "I am lucky man to
have such fren's."

"Don't look so sad over it, Jean!" exclaimed Hippy. "Be merry, and gayly
dance as I do." He essayed several fantastic steps over the frozen
ground, stubbed his toe on a projecting root and lunged forward, falling
heavily into a huge snowdrift, his hands and face plowing into the snow.

"Ha, ha!" jeered Reddy. "'Be merry, and gayly dance as I do.' No, thank
you. I prefer to walk along like an ordinary human being."

"That is exactly what you are," was Hippy's calm retort from the
snowdrift, "'an ordinary human being.'" Floundering out of the drift he
shook himself free of snow and, undaunted by his fall, went on skipping
and pirouetting toward the cabin, while his companions shrieked mirthful
comments into his apparently unhearing ears.

How fast the afternoon and evening slipped away! The girls insisted on
helping Jean with the dinner, and at half-past five the whole party sat
down at the rude table that had been improvised by the boys the day
before. Eating in the heart of the forest made things taste infinitely
better than at home. Never before had there been such coffee, or steak,
or baked potatoes! There was dessert, too--Mrs. Nesbit's famous fruit
cake and Mrs. Harlowe's equally prized mince pie, besides fruit and
nuts, Jean adding the latter to the feast. Then everyone's health was
drunk in grape juice, and it was almost seven o'clock before Jean and
his guests rose from the table.

"Ten minutes to seven," declared David, consulting his watch. "We must
leave here at eight o'clock. We ought to be home by nine. I feel very
responsible for these youngsters, Jean. It was I who agreed to play
chaperon."

"Youngsters, indeed," growled Reddy scornfully. "Listen to Methuselah."

"Tell us a story before we go, Jean," begged Grace. She loved to hear
the old hunter tell in his quaint way of his many perilous adventures in
the great northwestern woods of Canada, where he had spent so many years
of his life.

"If Mamselle Grace like I will tell of w'en I track the fierce panther
who have kill my lambs, an' what happen to me."

"Oh, splendid!" cried Grace. "We should love to hear it."

The glow from the big back log reflected the interested faces of the
others. Jean's stories were always well received. Settling himself
cross-legged on the floor, his back against the wall, he related how,
after tracking a panther all day, he had slipped while going down a
steep bank and losing his footing had plunged to the bottom. How he had
lain there bruised and helpless with a broken leg, expecting at any time
to see the beast he had been tracking bear down upon him. How at last,
after hours of unspeakable agony, help had come in the shape of a tall,
strongly built young man, whose cabin was not far off and who had
carried Jean to it, then, after roughly setting the injured leg, and
making his patient as comfortable as might be expected under the
circumstances, he had ridden thirty miles for a doctor, then tended the
old hunter until his leg healed.

"Ten week I stay in bed an' this good frien' take care of me. He inten'
to go to Alaska for gold. He say he have wife once an' baby but they die
in railroad wreck. He never see their bodies. He very sad. The fire in
the train burn everybody, all t'ings." Jean waved his arms
comprehensively. "He stay by me until I am well. Then he say, 'Jean,
come along to Alaska.' But I say, 'No. I am too ol'. I wish live all my
days in Canada woods.' So he go on. After many years he write. Only last
summer I have receive his letter. He have found plenty gold, an' is
rich. He say when he come back, then he will buy for me a new rifle an'
give me much money. But what does Jean care for money? Rather I would
see my frien' whose letter I have always keep."

The old man ceased speaking and looked retrospectively into the fire.
Then, without speaking, he rose, shuffled to a small table in one corner
of the room, and opening the drawer took from it a well-thumbed
envelope. Returning to the group he handed it to Grace, saying proudly:
"This is the letter my frien' write. Will Mamselle Grace read?"

Grace obediently took the letter from the envelope.

"My dear Jean:" she read. "How can I ever forgive myself for neglecting
you so long? I can only say that though I have failed to make good my
promise to write, you have never been forgotten by me. Jean, I am sorry
you didn't come here with me. I found gold, more than I can spend in a
lifetime, and I have made you a stockholder in my mine. I am coming back
to the States next spring and will look you up first of all. I am
sending this to the old address, trusting that if you are not there it
will be forwarded to you. I used to think it would be glorious to be
rich, but now that I am alone in the world, money seems a poor
substitute for my lost happiness.

"Let me hear from you soon, Jean, and address your letter, Post Office
Box 462, Nome, Alaska. I hope you are well and happy. You always were a
sunshiny old chap. Here's hoping.

    "Your old friend,
    "DENTON."

"Is it not a very gran' letter?" asked old Jean with anxious pride. "My
frien' Denton have study in college, too."

"Indeed it is, Jean," agreed Anne warmly.

"Your friend seems to be the right sort of comrade, even if he is a bad
correspondent," remarked David Nesbit.

"Something like me," murmured Hippy gently.

No one appeared to notice this modest assertion.

"Sounds like a page from a best seller, doesn't it, Grace?" asked Tom
laughingly.

Grace did not answer. She was gazing at the signature of the letter with
perplexed eyes. She was wondering why the name Denton seemed so
familiar. Remembrance came suddenly--Ruth, of course. With that
recollection came a sudden startling train of thought. Ruth's father had
gone west, had been heard from in Nevada, then disappeared. Jean's
friend had lost his wife and child on a westbound train. Here, however,
Grace's supposition proved weak. Both wife and child had been burned to
death in the railroad wreck. Still, mistakes in identification were
frequently made on such painful occasions. Grace went back to her first
supposition. "It is the only shred of a clew that I have run across
yet," she reflected. "I am going to hang to it and see where it leads.
And to think that perhaps old Jean once knew Ruth's father. It's
unbelievable."

"We must start in ten minutes." David's crisp, business-like tones
brought her to a realization of her immediate surroundings.

"Ten minutes is long enough for me to say what is on my mind," Grace
said eagerly. Then she began to tell of Ruth, her poverty, and her great
wish to know whether her father were dead or alive. Knowing Grace as
they did, her friends guessed that she had something of real importance
to impart. When she came to the part about Ruth's father going west
after promising to send for his little family, a light began to dawn
upon them, and Jessica exclaimed: "Why, they must have been killed while
on their way to join him!"

"It is so. Mamselle speak the truth!" almost shouted Jean. "It was then
they die. He have tol' me so many times."

"Then the man who saved Jean must have been Ruth's father!" exclaimed
Miriam, "and a dreadful mistake was made in telling him his child was
dead, too. The packet fastened by a cord about Ruth's neck ought easily
to have proved her identity. Perhaps the packet was stolen."

"Then how did Ruth come by the watch and letter?" asked Grace.

"I give it up," replied Miriam. "It certainly is a tangled web."

"But we shall straighten it," said Grace resolutely. "The next thing to
do is to find Mr. Denton. Tell me, Jean, how many years since you first
met Mr. Denton?"

Jean counted laboriously on his fingers. "Twelve years," he finally
announced, "an' say his family have died six years then."

"Eighteen years," mused Grace, "and Ruth is twenty-two. The years seem
to tally with the rest of the story, too. Will you give me Mr. Denton's
address and allow me to write to him, Jean?"

"Whatever Mamselle Grace wishes shall be hers," averred Jean.

"Then I'll write the letter to-morrow. The sooner it is written and
sent, the sooner we shall receive an answer to it," declared Grace.
"That is unless he is dead. But I have a strange presentiment that he is
alive. What do you think, Jean?" she turned to the old hunter, who
nodded sagely.

"I think my frien', he alive, too," agreed Jean, "an' I hope, mebbe I
shall see again."

"You shall see him and so shall Ruth, if letters can accomplish your
wish, Jean," promised Grace.

"Eight o'clock," announced David judicially.

No one paid the slightest attention to him, however, Ruth Denton's
affairs being altogether too engrossing a matter for discussion. It was
half-past eight when, after a hearty vote of thanks and three cheers for
old Jean, the picnickers climbed the little hill and took the moonlit
homeward trail.



CHAPTER XIX

TELLING RUTH THE NEWS


"Yes, it was a busy two weeks," declared Arline Thayer, "and yet, oh,
Grace, you can't possibly know how slowly the time has gone. I am sure I
could live all the rest of my life on a desert island if I had the
Semper Fidelis crowd with me. Of course, Ruth helped a whole lot, but
you know Ruth isn't a butterfly like I am. She has had so many cares and
disappointments that she isn't as gay in her wildest moments as I am in
my ordinary ones. Besides, it was so hard to be sure that I was doing
and saying the right thing. I was so afraid of hurting some one's
feelings, or of being accused of trying to patronize those girls.

"The dinner passed off beautifully. Every girl who stayed over was
there. It cost me most of my check." Here Arline smiled rather ruefully.
"But you never saw so many happy girls. Many of them had never been to
either Martell's or Vinton's for dinner. I was at Vinton's and Ruth was
at Martell's. No one had the slightest idea that there was anything cut
and dried. We did all the other stunts; the play and the masquerade, and
I am so tired." Arline curled herself up on Grace's couch, looking like
an exhausted kitten. "I wonder if Elfreda has any tea," she said
plaintively.

"Of course she has," smiled Grace. "So have I. I'll make you some at
once. Then I have something perfectly amazing to tell you. You won't
remember whether you are tired or not after you hear my news."

Taking the little copper tea-kettle, Grace went for water, leaving
Arline considerably mystified and mildly excited. When at last the tea
was ready, and Grace had placed crackers, nabisco wafers and a plate of
home-made nut cookies on the table between them, Arline said
impatiently, "Do begin."

"Daffydowndilly, this is the strangest news you ever heard. Ready?"

"Ready," echoed Arline.

"We believe Ruth's father is still living and in Alaska."

There was a little cry of rapture from Arline as she hastily set down
her cup and caught Grace's hand in hers. "Congratulations," she trilled.
"I knew you'd find him. I've seen it in your eye for months."

"Nonsense," laughed Grace, "I don't deserve a particle of credit. It was
quite by accident that I learned what I know of him." There-upon an
account of their visit to old Jean followed, and Arline was soon in full
possession of the details.

"Shall you tell Ruth?" was her first question after Grace had finished.

"What would you do?" Grace asked.

"I don't think it would be best to tell her yet," returned Arline
slowly. "Suppose we were to find that he had died or disappeared again
since your old hunter received his letter. Think how dreadful that would
be after telling her that he was alive and well. We must not arouse her
hopes until we know."

Grace nodded gravely. "That is what I thought. I am glad you are of the
same mind. No one here except yourself and Elfreda have been told. Of
course, Anne and Miriam heard it at the same time I did. I wrote to Mr.
Denton at once, but I suppose my letter isn't more than half way to Nome
yet."

"Oh, it is the greatest thing that ever happened," exulted Arline.
"Ruth's father found at last, away up in old, cold Alaska. Hurrah!"

"Stop making so much noise," cautioned Grace, "while I tell you what I
propose doing. It is two weeks since I wrote to Mr. Denton. I am going
to write another letter to him before long. If he doesn't answer that, I
shall stop for a while, then write again. If he is not in Nome I shall
request the post-master to forward the letters, if possible."

At this juncture a knock sounded on the almost closed door, then Elfreda
came hurrying in, her cheeks glowing from her walk in the January wind.
"Were you talking secrets?" she demanded, without stopping to greet
Arline.

"No,--that is--yes," replied Arline. "Grace was telling me about Ruth's
father and--"

Elfreda dropped on the couch beside Arline with a groan of dismay. "Why
didn't you close the door?" she asked gloomily.

"Why? What has happened?" questioned Grace anxiously.

"Nothing much," retorted Elfreda, "only that West person was standing as
close to your door as she could possibly stand without attracting marked
attention. She was listening, too. I saw her when I reached the first
landing. At first I thought I would walk up to her and call her to
account for eavesdropping. But before I could make up my mind just what
to do she went on down the hall to her room. I suppose you will hear
about this affair of Ruth finding her father from a dozen different
sources to-morrow. She will go directly to the Wicks-Hampton faction
with the news. She may have gone already."

[Illustration: "She was Standing Close to the Door."]

"This is dreadful," gasped Grace in consternation, "but our own fault.
Will I ever learn to keep my door closed and either whisper my secrets
or else lock them behind my lips?"

"It was my fault," declared Arline contritely. "I was shouting, 'Ruth's
father found at last!' at the top of my voice. Grace told me to
subside."

"Perhaps she only heard that much," comforted Elfreda, trying to be a
little more hopeful.

"Suppose she tells Ruth," suggested Arline nervously.

Grace's eyes met those of her friend's in genuine alarm. Without a word
she went to the closet and reaching for her coat and furs slipped them
on. Jamming her fur cap down on her head, she pinned it securely, thrust
her hands into her muff and walked to the door. "Elfreda, you will take
care of Arline, won't you? She is going to stay with me for dinner. I am
going to Ruth's and I think perhaps I had better go alone. I'll be back
as soon as possible, and bring Ruth with me, if I can. Tell Mrs. Elwood
that Ruth will be here. I must be off. I will see you at dinner."

Grace was out of the room and down the stairs in a twinkling. As she set
off toward Ruth's at a rapid pace she wondered if there was not some way
in which she might capitulate with this strange girl who seemed so
determined to blot the pages of her freshman year with unworthy deeds.
"I am so disappointed," Grace reflected. "I did wish to like her because
she was Mabel's friend, but she is so--so--different." It cost Grace an
effort to end her sentence mildly. "But I'm not going to gossip about
her, even to myself."

After ringing three times Ruth's tired-eyed landlady opened the door to
Grace with a mumbled apology about being in the attic when the bell
rang. Grace hurried up the two flights of stairs and down the long, bare
hall to Ruth's room. She paused an instant before knocking, half
expecting to hear the sound of voices inside. All was still. Grace
knocked twice, pausing between knocks. It was a signal Ruth and her
intimate friends had adopted.

Ruth answered the signal, a book in her hand. She gave a little cry of
delight at seeing Grace. "How funny! I was just thinking of you. Come in
and take off your wraps. Did you come to help me cook supper? You
promised me you would some day."

"No; I came to take you back to Wayne Hall with me. But, first of all,
has Kathleen West been here to see you within the past half hour?" said
Grace, stepping into the room and closing the door after her.

"No," replied Ruth wonderingly. "Why do you ask? But do sit down,
Grace."

"I'm so glad," sighed Grace, sitting on the edge of the chair, "because
she overheard something that I wish to tell you first."

"I don't understand," was Ruth's perplexed answer.

"I don't blame you for not understanding," smiled Grace. Then she rose,
and, crossing the room, put her hands on her friend's shoulder. "Ruth,"
she said gently, "if you might have one wish granted to you, what would
you wish?"

"To find my father," was the instant reply.

"That is what I thought you would say," returned Grace quietly. "Can you
bear good news?"

"Yes." Ruth's face had turned very white. She pulled one of Grace's
hands from her shoulder, holding it in hers. "Tell me," she whispered
tensely.

Grace's gray eyes filled with tears. The hungry look in Ruth's eyes told
its own story. "He is alive, Ruth," she said, steadying her voice. "At
least he was alive less than six months ago. I'll begin at the very
first and tell you everything."

It was half an hour later when the two friends set out for Wayne Hall.

"I am so happy; it seems as though I must be with you girls to-night,"
declared Ruth. "I am so anxious to see Arline. My Daffydowndilly will be
happy, too, for my sake. And Grace, I have a strange presentiment that I
shall see him before long. I can't think of him as anything but alive.
I'm so glad that you told me. It would have been a dreadful shock to
have had the news come through Miss West or her friends."

"She hasn't the slightest idea that we know she was in the hall," said
Grace. "I imagine you will hear of your father through half a dozen
different sources in the morning. I don't believe she intended to tell
you to-day. I think it was part of her plan to take you by surprise and
completely unnerve you. Alberta Wicks and Mary Hampton are efficient
town criers," Grace added bitterly. "She depended on them to spread the
news in the cruelest way."

"Why, Grace, I never heard you speak so bitterly of any one before!"
exclaimed Ruth.

"Ruth, to tell the honest truth, I am thoroughly disgusted with those
two girls," confessed Grace wearily. "They have been at the bottom of
every annoyance I have had since I came to Overton. It may not be
charitable to say so, but I shall certainly not regret seeing them
graduated and gone from Overton. I know it sounds selfish, but I can't
help it. I mean it. And now we are going to talk only of delightful
things. I think we ought to give a spread to-night in honor of you. It
isn't every day one finds a long-lost father. Arline is going to stay to
dinner, and, of course, she'll stay afterward."

Grace's proposal of a spread met with gleeful approval, and in spite of
a hearty six-o'clock dinner, there was no lack of appetite when at ten
o'clock Elfreda, who insisted on taking the labor of the spread upon her
own shoulders, appeared in the door announcing that it was ready. By
borrowing Grace's table and using it in conjunction with her own,
employing the bureau scarf for a centerpiece, and filling up the bare
spaces with paper napkins, the table assumed the dignity of a banqueting
board. There were even glasses and plates and spoons enough to go round
and one could have either grape juice or tea, Elfreda informed them.
"You'd better take tea first, though, because there are only two bottles
of grape juice, and we need that for the toast to Ruth's father. Of
course if you insist upon having grape juice----"

"Tea," was the judiciously lowered chorus from the obliging guests.

"Thank you," bowed Elfreda. "I wouldn't have given you the grape juice,
at any rate."

By half-past ten nothing remained of the feast but the grape juice, and
the guests began clamoring insistently for that.

"We are breaking the ten-thirty rule into microscopic pieces," declared
Elfreda as she dropped slices of orange and pineapple on the ice in the
bottom of the glasses, added orange juice, sugar and grape juice. "If it
isn't sweet enough, help yourself to sugar. The bowl is on the table.
And you can only have one straw apiece. The commissary department is
short on straws. A word of warning, don't drink the toast to Ruth's
father through a straw," she ended with a giggle.

The giggle proved infectious and went the round of the table. Grace was
the first to remember the toast to be drunk. Elfreda had just poured the
sixth, her own glass of grape juice, and slipped into her place at the
table. Rising to her feet Grace said simply, "To Ruth's father. May she
see him soon." The toast was drunk standing. Ruth still looked rather
dazed. She could not yet think of her father as a reality.

"I thank you all," she said tremulously, her eyes misty. "Of course you
know I am not quite certain of my great happiness, but I am going to
write to Father to-morrow, and perhaps before long I'll have a letter to
show you."

"If Ruth is to be surprised now, some one will have to get up early in
the morning," declared Elfreda with satisfaction, as she collected the
dishes for washing after the guests had departed.

"And that some one will be doomed to feel foolish," added Miriam.



CHAPTER XX

ELFREDA REALIZES HER AMBITION


Midyears, a season of terror to freshmen, a still alarming period to
sophomores, but no very great bugbear to the two upper classes, came and
went. During that strenuous week the usual amount of midnight oil was
burnt, the usual amount of feverish reviewing done, and the usual amount
of celebrating indulged in when the ordeal was passed.

"Don't forget the game to-morrow," said J. Elfreda Briggs to the girls
at her end of the breakfast table one morning in early March. "The only
one this year in which the celebrated center, Miss Josephine Elfreda
Briggs, will take part. Sounds like a grand opera announcement, doesn't
it? Maybe it hasn't taken endless energy to keep that team together and
up to the mark. But our captain is a hustler and we are marvels," she
added modestly.

"I need no bard to sing my praises," began Miriam mischievously.

"I didn't say 'I,'" retorted Elfreda. "I said 'we.'"

"Meaning 'I'," interposed Emma Dean wickedly.

"As you like," flung back Elfreda sweetly. "You needn't come to the
game, you know, if you think it is to be a one-player affair."

"Oh, I'll be there, never fear," Emma assured her. "I have a special
banner of junior blue to wear."

Only one color had been chosen by 19-- for their junior year, one of the
new shades of blue which Gertrude Wells had at once renamed "junior"
blue. It was greatly affected by the juniors for ties, belts, hat
trimmings and girdles.

"Doesn't it seem strange not to be on the team this year, Miriam?" asked
Grace. "That is, when one stops to think about it. It never occurred to
me until this moment how much I have missed basketball. Mabel Ashe said
that we'd just simply drift away from it this year, and so we have. Now
we are going to cheer Elfreda on to victory."

"Elfreda is an artist in making baskets," commended Miriam.

"Much obliged," rejoined Elfreda, "but your praise doesn't turn my head
in the least. You can judge better of my artistic qualities after the
game."

"We hope to secure seats in the gallery," said Anne. "The front ones, of
course, are reserved for the faculty, but if we go to the gym very early
we may get good seats."

"I am not going to wait for you, if you don't mind, Miriam," remarked
Elfreda, rising. "I must see our captain before going to chapel this
morning."

"Run along," said Miriam. "I am not going to chapel this morning. I must
have that extra time for my biology. I can use it to good advantage,
too. There won't be any noise or disturbance in the room," she added
slyly.

Elfreda gave Miriam a reproachful glance over her shoulder as she left
the dining room. "You'll be sorry for 'them cruel words' some day," she
declared. "For instance, the next time my services as a chef are
desired," and was gone.

Miriam left the dining room a little later, going directly upstairs.
Grace and Anne lingered to talk with the girls still at breakfast, half
expecting to hear the news of Ruth's father brought up. Nothing was said
on the subject, however, and Grace wondered if Alberta Wicks and Mary
Hampton could possibly have come to their senses and refused to take
part in whatever mischief Kathleen had planned. How glad she would be,
she reflected, if the two seniors, who had caused her so many unpleasant
thoughts and moments turned out well after all.

After the service that morning she waited for Ruth, who was one of the
last of the long procession of girls who filed out of the chapel. Arline
was with her and made a rush for Grace the moment she caught sight of
her. "I have been watching for you," she said eagerly. "I haven't heard
a word, and neither has Ruth. Perhaps they were more honorable than we
believed them to be."

"I thought that, too," rejoined Grace. "It has been almost a week since
I told Ruth. We may never hear a word concerning it."

"It wouldn't make much difference now," said Arline. "Ruth knows, and
there isn't really anything to be said except that after many years'
separation she may find her father. She need not care who knows that."

"It was the cruel shock to her that I thought of, and so did Kathleen
West," explained Grace. "She seems determined to hurt some one's
feelings by 'notoriety' methods. Her newspaper work has made her hard
and unfeeling. She is always trying to dig up some one's private affairs
and make them public property. I imagine our two seniors have placed a
restraining hand on this last affair. I hope Mabel Ashe will never grow
cruel and unfeeling--and dishonorable."

"She won't," predicted Arline. "Father knows many delightful newspaper
women who are above reproach. Besides, Mabel will never remain on a
newspaper long enough to change. There is a certain young lawyer in New
York City who adores her, and I think she cares for him. There is no
engagement yet, but there will be inside of a year or my name is not
Arline Thayer."

"Really?" asked Grace, her eyes widening with interest. "She has never
so much as intimated it to me."

"I know a little about it, for we have mutual friends in New York.
Besides, Father knows the man. I've met him. He's a dear, and awfully
handsome."

Having lingered to talk until the last moment the two girls were obliged
to part abruptly and scurry off to their recitation rooms, which lay in
different directions. They met late in the afternoon in the gymnasium to
watch Elfreda's last practice playing before the game, but in their
momentary basketball enthusiasm the topic of the morning's conversation
was not touched upon.

The game between the sophomore and junior teams was looked upon as an
event of extreme importance. Elfreda's love for the game and the story
of her persistent effort to reduce her weight in order to glitter as a
prominent basketball star had become familiar to not only her upper
class friends, but throughout the college as well. She had several
freshmen adorers, who sent her violets and vied with one another in
entertaining her whenever she had an hour or two to spare them. In fact,
J. Elfreda Briggs was becoming an important factor in the social life of
Overton, with the satisfaction of knowing that she had won a place in
the hearts of her admirers through her own merit.

Considerable preparation in the way of decorations had been made. About
the balcony railing green and yellow bunting mingled with that of junior
blue. The two front rows were well filled with members of the faculty,
who wore ribbon rosettes with long ends and carried banners of blue, or
green and yellow, as the case might be. The Semper Fidelis Club,
resplendent in cocked hats of junior blue and wide blue crepe paper
sashes fastened in the back with immense butterfly bows, occupied places
directly behind the faculty. They had gone to the gymnasium an hour and
a half before the game in order to secure these seats, and were now
ranged in an eager, exultant row, impatiently awaiting the entrance of
the two teams.

With the shrill notes of the whistle began one of the most stubborn
conflicts ever waged between two Overton teams. From the instant the
ball was put in play and the players leaped into action the interest of
the spectators never wavered. During the first half of the game the
sophomores valiantly contested every foot of the ground, and it was only
at the very end of the half that the juniors succeeded in making the
score six to four in their favor.

In the last half the doughty sophomores rose to the occasion and tied
the score with their first play. Then Elfreda, with unerring aim, made a
long overhand throw to basket that brought forth deafening applause from
the spectators. The sophomores managed to gain two more points, but the
juniors again managed not only to gain two points, but to pile up their
score until a particularly brilliant play to basket on the part of
Elfreda closed the last half with the glorious reckoning of seventeen to
twelve in favor of the juniors.

Immediately a hubbub arose from the gallery. The Semper Fidelis Club
burst forth into a victorious song they had been practising for the
occasion, while another delegation of juniors also rent the air with
their chant of triumph over their sophomore sisters.

After Elfreda had experienced the satisfaction of being escorted round
the room by her classmates, who continued to sing spiritedly at least
three different songs at the top of their lungs, she was hurried into
the dressing room by the Semper Fidelis Club. The moment she was dressed
she was seized by friendly hands and marched off to Vinton's to a dinner
given by the club in honor of her. For the present, at least, she was
the most important girl in college, and feeling the weight of her
new-born fame, she was unusually silent, almost shy.

"Elfreda can't accustom herself to being a celebrity," laughed Miriam.
"She is terribly embarrassed."

"That is really the truth," confessed Elfreda. "I've always wanted to be
a basketball star, but it seems funny to have the girls make such a fuss
over me."

"You deserve it!" exclaimed Gertrude Wells. "You were the pride of the
team. I never want to see a better game. That last play of yours was a
record breaker."

The other members of the club joined in Gertrude's praise of Elfreda's
playing. The stout girl's face shone with happiness. To her it was one
of the great moments of her college life.

It was after seven o'clock when the diners left Vinton's. The club
gallantly escorted Elfreda to the very door of Wayne Hall and left her
after singing to her and giving three cheers. Grace, Anne, Miriam,
Arline, Ruth, Mildred Taylor and Laura Atkins were her body guard up the
stairs. At the landing Laura Atkins called a halt and invited every one
present to a jollification in her room that night in honor of Elfreda.

While Elfreda was explaining that she didn't wish the girls to go to any
trouble for her, although her eyes shone with delight at being thus
honored, the door bell rang repeatedly, and the maid, grumbling under
her breath, admitted Emma Dean, who skipped up the stairs two at a time.

"I'm always late," she announced cheerfully, "but hardly ever too late.
I stopped at the big bulletin board. I noticed a letter there addressed
to you, Grace. It was marked 'Important' in one corner. I had half a
mind to bring it with me, then--well--you know how one feels about
meddling with some one else's mail."

"I'm sorry you didn't bring it with you. Don't hesitate to do so next
time," returned Grace regretfully. "However, it won't take long to run
across the campus for it. I'll go now before I take off my hat and coat.
Thank you for telling me about it, Emma."

"You are welcome," called Emma after her as Grace ran to her room for
her wraps. Always on the alert for home letters, under no circumstances
could she have been content to wait quietly until the next day for the
coveted mail. If it were from her mother or father she could read it
over and over before bedtime and go to sleep happy in the possession of
it, and if it were from one of her numerous friends it would be joyfully
received.

The handwriting on the envelope Grace took from the bulletin board
looked strangely familiar. Tearing it open, she glanced hastily over the
few lines of the letter, an expression of incredulity in her eyes, for
the note said:--

     "MY DEAR MISS HARLOWE:--

     "May I come to Wayne Hall to see you to-morrow evening at half-past
     seven o'clock? Please leave note in the bulletin board stating
     whether this will be convenient for you.

     "Yours sincerely,
     "ALBERTA WICKS."


Grace read the note again, then mechanically folding it, returned it to
its envelope, and walked slowly back to Wayne Hall divided between her
disappointment in the letter, and speculation as to the purport of
Alberta Wicks's proposed call.



CHAPTER XXI

ALBERTA KEEPS HER PROMISE


During the following day Grace pondered not a little over the possible
meaning of Alberta Wicks's note. She wrote an equally brief reply,
stating that she would be at Wayne Hall the following night at the
appointed time, and tried, unsuccessfully, to dismiss the matter from
her mind. It persisted in recurring to her at intervals, and when, at
exactly half-past seven o'clock, Alberta Wicks was ushered into the
living room, Grace's heart beat a trifle faster as she went forward to
greet her guest, who looked less haughty than usual, and who actually
smiled faintly as she returned Grace's greeting.

"I know I am the last person you ever expected to see," began Alberta,
looking embarrassed, "but I simply felt as though I must come here
to-night. Are we likely to be interrupted?" she asked suddenly.

"Perhaps we had better go upstairs to my room," suggested Grace. "My
roommate is away this evening."

"Thank you," replied the other girl. She followed Grace upstairs with an
unaccustomed meekness that made Grace marvel as to what had suddenly
wrought so marked a change in this hitherto disagreeable senior.

Once the two girls were seated opposite each other, Alberta leaned
forward and said earnestly: "I know that you must dislike me very, very
much, Miss Harlowe, and I always supposed that I disliked you even more,
but I have lately come to the conclusion that I admire you more than any
girl I know."

Grace looked at her guest in uncomprehending wonder. Could this be the
sneering, insolent Miss Wicks who was speaking? There was no sign of a
sneer on her face now. She spoke with a simple directness that could not
fail to impress the most sceptical. "I have been hearing about you from
a source entirely outside Overton," she continued, "from a Smith College
senior who lives in Oakdale. She visited a friend of mine during the
holidays. I live in Boston, you know."

"I didn't know," began Grace, then with a little exclamation: "It can't
be possible! You don't mean Julia Crosby?"

"Yes," nodded Alberta. "I do mean Julia Crosby. Thanks to her, I have
had my eyes opened to a good many things. I--am--sorry--for everything,
Miss Harlowe." Her voice faltered. "I--never--saw--myself as I
was--until Miss Crosby made me see. Directly after meeting her she asked
me if I knew you, and I spoke slightingly of you. She said very
decidedly that you were one of her dearest friends, and defended you to
the skies. She told me about your saving her from drowning, and of how
badly she had once behaved toward you, and how brave and loyal you were.
Then we had a long talk and she made me promise to square things with
you the minute I came back, but I haven't had the courage until to-day."
She paused and looked appealingly at Grace.

Without hesitation Grace held out her hand. "I am not a very formidable
person," she smiled. "I am so glad you know Julia Crosby, too. She must
have told you of the good times we used to have together in Oakdale."

Alberta nodded. She could not yet trust her voice.

"Julia wanted me to go to Smith with her," Grace went on rapidly in
order to give her guest a chance to recover herself. "At first I thought
seriously of it, but later Anne and Miriam and I decided on Overton. And
we haven't been disappointed, not for an hour! I wouldn't exchange
Overton for any other college in the United States," she ended with
loyal pride. "Don't you love Overton, Miss Wicks?"

"No," returned the other girl shortly. "It is too late for that sort of
thing for me. I forfeited my right long ago. No one will miss me when I
leave. Other than Mary, I have no real friends, even in my own class,
and you know what most of the juniors think of us." Alberta's tone was
very bitter. "Of course, we have no one but ourselves to blame, but just
lately I've begun to wish that I had been different."

There was an awkward silence. Grace made a vain effort to think of
something to say to this hitherto unapproachable senior who had suddenly
become so humble. Before she could frame a reply Alberta continued
almost sullenly:

"I don't know why I should care so much. But after Julia Crosby told me
how you saved her life when she broke through the ice into the river and
what a splendid girl you were, I felt awfully ashamed of myself. She
talked to me and made me promise I would come to see you as soon as I
returned to Overton. I am afraid I would have stayed away, though, if it
hadn't been for something else."

Grace's eyes were frankly questioning, but she still said nothing.

"It is about that Miss West," said the senior, as though in answer to
Grace's mute inquiry. "I am sorry to say that I encouraged her to do all
sorts of revolutionary things when she first came here. I discovered she
disliked you and your friends, and I was glad of it. I never lost an
opportunity to fan the flame."

"But why did she dislike us?" asked Grace. "That is the thing none of us
understand. We were prepared to like her because Mabel Ashe had written
me, asking me to look out for her. You know they worked on the same
newspaper. We did everything we could to make her feel at home, until
suddenly she began to cut our acquaintance. Later on something happened
that made her angry with me, but to this day none of us knows why she
cut us in the first place."

"She never said a word to Mary or me about Mabel Ashe," declared Alberta
in frowning surprise. "We supposed she had come to Wayne Hall as a
stranger and had been snubbed by your crowd of girls. She was furiously
angry with you because she wasn't asked to help with the bazaar. She
wanted to be in the circus, and said you asked other freshmen and
slighted her."

"And I never dreamed she would care," returned Grace wonderingly. "If we
had only asked her to take part, all these unpleasantnesses might have
been avoided. You see, we didn't intend to ask any freshmen, but we
finally asked Myra Stone because she made such a darling doll. Oh, I'm
so sorry."

"I wouldn't be if I were you," declared Alberta dryly. "Judging from
what I know of her, I don't think she deserves much sympathy. I just
prevented her from publishing Miss Denton's private affairs broadcast
through the medium of her paper."

"You don't mean she--" began Grace.

Alberta nodded. "Yes, she wrote a story in a highly sensational style
and brought it to me to read. She was going to send it to her paper,
then mail copies of the edition in which the story appeared to a number
of girls here. She had a long list, which she showed me, and wanted me
to promise to help her address the papers and send them to the various
girls. But after I had that talk with Julia Crosby I vowed within myself
that the little time I had left at Overton should be devoted to some
better cause than planning petty, silly ways of 'getting even.' I can't
tell you how thankful I am that I have had this chance to live up to a
little of what I promised myself I would do. There is just one thing I'd
like to know, and that is the truth of the story concerning Miss
Denton's father."

"I shall be glad to tell you all I know, which is really very little,"
answered Grace, and once more repeated the story of what their holiday
visit to the old hunter had brought forth. "I wrote to Mr. Denton to the
address in Nome the very next day after we were out at Jean's and have
written once since then, and so has Ruth, but we have never received an
answer. Still, I believe that we shall yet hear from him. I feel certain
that he is still living. I really hated to tell Ruth, and raise her
hopes only to destroy them again by having to say that he had never
answered our letters, but we decided that it was best for her to know.
She has been so brave and dear. We told Miss Thayer, and my three
friends know it, too, but we don't want any one else to know unless Ruth
really finds her father. It is her own personal affair, you see."

"But how did Miss West find it out?" was Alberta's question.

Grace shook her head. "Don't ask me," she said, a hint of scorn in her
eyes. "I am so glad you prevailed upon her to give up the plan, for
Ruth's sake and for her own as well."

"She was very determined at first, but she finally weakened and promised
to drop the whole idea after she found that we were opposed to her
plan," rejoined Alberta.

"You did a good day's work for Ruth," smiled Grace, holding out her hand
to the other girl.

Alberta leaned forward in her chair and took Grace's hand in both of
hers. "I wish I hadn't been so blind, Miss Harlowe. If I had only tried
to know you long ago. There is so little of my college life left I can't
hope to win your respect and liking."

"Don't try," laughed Grace. "You have my respect already, as for my
liking, I'd be very glad to say 'Alberta Wicks is my friend.'"

"Can you say that and really mean it?" asked Alberta almost
incredulously.

"I would not say it unless I were quite certain that I meant it," Grace
assured her. "Your coming here to-night proved clearly that you were
ready to forget all past differences. Then, why should I hold spite or
nurse a grievance? Now, we are not going to say another word about it. I
should like to have you spend the evening with me. I am going to invite
Miriam and Elfreda to a conversation and tea party in honor of you."

"Oh, no!" protested Alberta, half rising. "They wouldn't come. Elfreda
will never forgive me for causing her so much trouble."

"Elfreda has forgotten all about what happened to her as a freshman. At
least she has forgiven you," added Grace. "She and Miriam will be glad
to know that we are friends." Grace spoke confidently, though she did
have a brief instant of doubt as to just how Elfreda would regard
Alberta's belated repentance. To her intense relief, however, when
leaving Alberta for a moment she ran down the hall to invite Miriam and
Elfreda, the one-time stout girl offered no other comment than a
grumbled, "Just like you, Grace Harlowe."

"But will you come to my tea party?" persisted Grace.

"Of course we will," accepted Miriam.

"She knows about it all, she knows, she knows," droned Elfreda. "What's
the use in asking me anything when Miriam is here?"

"All right." Grace turned to go. "I'll expect to see both of you within
the next ten minutes. Don't change your mind after I have gone."

"See here, Grace Harlowe!" Elfreda rose from her chair and walked toward
Grace. "I should like to know--"

"Don't say it, Elfreda," interrupted Grace. "Just say you'll come. If
you don't come Alberta will go back to Stuart Hall, disappointed and
resentful at having her friendly overtures rejected. She is at the
critical stage now, Elfreda, dear, and needs encouragement and cheering
up. She is a trifle bitter, and has the blues, too, although she is too
stiff-necked to admit it."

"You needn't be afraid. I wasn't going to throw cold water on the tea
party. Of course we'll attend, and bring the whole two pounds of fruit
cake we bought to-day with us. You can take our new cups and saucers,
too, can't she, Miriam? What I should like to know is how it all
happened."

"I can't stop to tell you now. Wait until Anne comes home to-night and
we'll congregate. I want to see Arline, too. I have a plan that just
came to me a little while ago, and I should like to hear what you think
of it. I must hurry back to my guest. Come to my room as soon as you
can."

"Now I wonder what she has on her mind?" smiled Miriam. "I imagine it
has something to do with Alberta Wicks."

"Do you know," remarked Elfreda, looking up with a sudden tender light
in her usually matter-of-fact face, "there's a line in 'Hamlet' that
always makes me think of Grace. It's the one in which Hamlet speaks of
his father. He says, 'I shall never look upon his like again.'
Substituting 'her' for 'his,' that is exactly what I think about Grace."

       *       *       *       *       *

The next morning Grace awoke with the feeling of one who has had
something disagreeable suddenly disappear from her life. "What happened
last night?" she asked herself, then smiled as the memory of what had
passed the evening before returned. "I'm so glad," she said half under
her breath.

"Glad of what?" asked Anne, who, wrapped in her kimono, sat sleepily on
the edge of her bed, trying to make up her mind to stay awake.

"That Alberta Wicks came to see me," replied Grace. "I hate quarrels and
misunderstandings, Anne, yet I seem destined to become involved in them.
Do you suppose it is because I have a quarrelsome disposition?" Grace
had slipped out of bed, and, wrapping herself in her bath robe, trotted
across the room and seated herself beside Anne, one arm thrown across
her friend's shoulder.

"Quarrelsome? You are a positive snapping turtle," Anne assured her
gravely. "I am so glad I have only one more year of your detestable
society before me. Now you know the truth. Kill me if you must," she
added in melodramatic tones.

"I'll be merciful and let you live until after Easter," laughed Grace.
"That reminds me, Anne. I am going to ask Ruth to go home with us. I
know she is anxious to talk with Jean, although she wouldn't say so for
the world. She is always in mortal fear of intruding. Arline knows that
I am going to invite Ruth. I'm going there this very morning if I can
manage to hustle down to her room before my biology hour," concluded
Grace, rising from the couch with an energy that nearly precipitated
Anne to the floor. "We forgot to congregate last night after Alberta
went home, it was so late. I'll tell you my plan to-night. But we won't
try to carry it out until after Easter."

Ruth cried a little on Grace's comforting shoulder when, an hour later,
she delivered her Easter invitation. To Grace's satisfaction, she
accepted without a protesting word. She remembered only that Jean, the
hunter, had known her father and she had a wistful desire to take old
Jean by the hand for her father's sake. Arline had promised to spend
Easter with Grace, but her father had planned a trip to the Bermudas for
her and Ruth. Realizing that it would be best for Ruth to go to Oakdale,
she cheerfully put aside her own personal desire for Ruth's
companionship and urged Ruth to go home with Grace.

Elfreda had accepted Laura Atkins's invitation to spend Easter with her,
and was already convulsing the three Oakdale girls with excerpts from
conversations to take place, supposedly, between herself and Laura's
learned father. "I have been reading up a lot on the pterodactyl and
ichthyosaurus and other small, playful animals of the beginning of the
world variety," she confided to Miriam. "I expect to astonish him."

"I am reasonably sure that you will," was Miriam's mirthful reply. "I
wish you were coming home with me, instead."

"So do I." Elfreda's shrewd eyes grew wistful. "I know I'd have the best
time ever if I went home with you, but I feel as though I ought to go
with Laura. She would have been so disappointed if I had refused her
invitation. That sounds conceited, doesn't it? But you can see how
things are, can't you?"

"I can, indeed," returned Miriam, and the significance of her tone left
no doubt in Elfreda's mind regarding her roommate's understanding of
things.



CHAPTER XXII

GRACE'S PLAN


The Easter vacation slipped away at the same appalling rate of speed
that had marked the passing of all Grace's holidays at home. There were
so many pleasant things to do and so many old friends to welcome her
return to Oakdale that she sighed regretfully to think she could not
possibly accept one half of the invitations that poured in upon her from
all sides.

Nora and Jessica had come from the conservatory to spend Easter at home,
so had the masculine half of the "Eight Originals Plus Two." Then, too,
the Phi Sigma Tau, with the exception of Eleanor Savelli, had renewed
their vows of unswerving loyalty, and their numerous sessions ate up the
time. There was one day set aside, however, on which the little clan had
paid a visit to Jean, the old hunter, and Ruth had experienced the
satisfaction of seeing and talking with a man who had been her father's
friend. The old woodsman had been equally delighted to take Arthur
Denton's child by the hand, and the tears had run down his brown,
weather-beaten cheeks as he looked into Ruth's face and exclaimed at the
resemblance to her father that he saw there. "You shall yet hear. You
shall yet see, Mamselle," he had prophesied with a fullness of belief
that made Grace resolve to keep on writing to the address Jean had given
her for a year at least, whether or not she received a line in return.
She, too, felt confident that Arthur Denton still lived.

She was, therefore, more disappointed than she cared to admit when, on
returning to Overton, she failed to find an answer to the letters which
she had sent to Nome at stated intervals. Ruth, apprehensive and sick at
heart, by reason of hope deferred, was striving to be brave in spite of
the bitterness of her disappointment. From the beginning she had sternly
determined not to be buoyed by false hopes, then if she never heard from
the letters that she and Grace had sent speeding northward, she would
have nothing to disturb her peace of mind other than the regret that her
dream had never come true. Yet it was hard not to think of her father
and not to hope.

A late Easter made a short April, and May was well upon them before the
students of Overton College awoke to the realization that it was only a
matter of days until the senior class would be graduated and gone; that
the juniors would be seniors, the sophomores juniors, and even the
humblest freshman would taste the sweetness of sophomoreship.

To Grace the rapid passing of the last days of her junior year brought a
certain indefinable sadness. There were times when she wished herself a
freshman, that she were ending her first year of college life rather
than the third. Only one more year and it would all be over. Then what
lay beyond? Grace never went further than that. She had no idea as to
what life would mean to her when her college days were past. She had not
yet found her work. Anne would, no doubt, return to her profession.
Miriam intended to study music in Leipsig at the same conservatory where
Eleanor Savelli's father and mother had met. Elfreda had long since
announced her intention of becoming a lawyer. Ruth fully expected to
teach, and even dainty Arline had hinted that she might take up
settlement work.

Grace was thinking rather soberly of all this, late on Saturday
afternoon as she walked slowly across the campus toward Wayne Hall. "I
really ought to begin to think seriously of my future work," she
thought. "Father and Mother would only be too glad to have me stay at
home with them, but I feel as though I ought to 'be up and doing with a
heart for any fate' instead of just being a home girl. Miss Duncan said
the last time I talked with her that I would some day hit upon my work
when I least expected it. I hope it will happen soon. Oh, there goes
Alberta Wicks!" she cried aloud. "I must see her at once. Alberta!"

Alberta Wicks, who was within hailing distance, turned abruptly and
walked toward Grace.

"Where have you been of late? I haven't seen you. Did you receive my
note?" asked Grace, holding out her hand to the other girl.

"Yes," returned Alberta, a slow red creeping into her cheeks. "I meant
to come to Wayne Hall, but----" She paused, then said with a touch of
her old defiance, "I might as well tell you the truth, I am rather
afraid of the girls there."

"'Afraid of the girls!'" repeated Grace. "Why are you afraid of them,
Alberta?"

"Because I've been so disagreeable," was the low reply. "They were very
sweet with me the night of your tea party, but I felt as though they
bore with me for your sake."

"On the contrary, they were pleased to entertain you," replied Grace
with a sincerity that even Alberta could not doubt. "I hope you will
come again soon, and I wish you would bring Miss Hampton with you."

"Thank you," returned Alberta, but her hesitating reply was equivalent
to refusal.

"She wants to come, but she still believes we don't like her," reflected
Grace, as Alberta said good-bye and walked away with an almost dejected
expression on her face. "Now is the time to put my plan into execution.
I had forgotten it until seeing Alberta brought it back to me. I must
propose it to the girls to-night."

From the evening on which Alberta had kept her promise to Julia Crosby
and come to Wayne Hall to make peace, Grace had experienced a strong
desire to help her sweeten and brighten the last days of her college
life. With this thought in mind she had evolved the idea of giving
Alberta and Mary a surprise party at Wellington House and inviting the
Semper Fidelis girls as well as certain popular seniors and juniors who
would be sure to add to the gayety of the affair. But when after dinner
she broached the subject to her three friends, who had seated themselves
in an expectant row on her couch to hear her plan, she was wholly
unprepared for the amount of opposition with which it was received.

"I can't see why we should exert ourselves to make things pleasant for
those two girls," grumbled Elfreda. "For almost three years they have
taken particular pains to make matters unpleasant for us. The other
night I treated Miss Wicks civilly for your sake, Grace, not because I
am fond of her."

"I am afraid you will have considerable trouble in making the other
girls promise to help you," demurred Miriam. "Neither Miss Wicks nor
Miss Hampton have ever done anything to endear themselves to the girls
here at Overton. Personally, I believe in letting well-enough alone in
this case. If you wish to entertain them at Wayne Hall, of course we
will stand by you. But I don't believe it would be wise to attempt to
give a semi-public demonstration. It would be very humiliating for you
if the girls refused to help you."

"But if they promise to help they are not likely to break their word,"
argued Grace, "and I shall make a personal call upon every girl on my
list."

"Aren't you afraid that a 'list' may cause jealousy and ill-feeling on
the part of certain girls who are not included in it?" was Anne's
apprehensive question.

"And you, too, Anne!" exclaimed Grace in a hurt voice, looking her
reproach. "No, I don't see why it should cause any ill-feeling whatever.
We are not making it a class affair. There will be perhaps thirty girls
invited. Aside from the surety that we'll have a good time, I believe we
will be going far toward displaying the true Overton spirit. Of course,
if you girls feel that you don't wish to enter into this with me, then I
shall have to go on alone, for I am determined to do it. At least you
can't gracefully refuse to come to the surprise party," she ended, with
a little catch in her voice.

"Grace Harlowe, you big goose!" exclaimed Elfreda, springing to Grace's
side and winding both arms about her. "Did you believe for one instant
that we wouldn't stand by you no matter what you planned to do? I am
ashamed of myself. If it hadn't been for me, you would never have had
any trouble with either Alberta Wicks or Mary Hampton. Plan whatever you
like, and I set my hand and seal upon it that I'll aid you and abet you
to the fullest extent of my powers."

"And so will I," cried Miriam. "I am sorry I croaked."

"And to think I was a wet blanket, too," murmured Anne, patting one of
Grace's hands.

"You are perfect angels, all of you," declared Grace, her gray eyes
shining. "I know I am always dragging you into things, and making you
help me for friendship's sake."

"But they are always the right sort of things," retorted Elfreda, with
an affectionate loyalty.

"Let us atone for our defection by making ourselves useful," proposed
Anne, picking up paper and pencil from the writing table. "I'll write
the names of those eligible to the surprise party if you'll supply
them."

After considerable discussion, erasing, crossing out and re-establishing
the list of names was finally declared to be satisfactory.

"Is there any particular friend of either of these girls that we have
forgotten to include?" asked Anne, as she carefully scanned the list.

"What of Kathleen West?" asked Elfreda.

Grace shook her head. "I believe it would be better not to ask her," she
said. "She wouldn't come; besides, she might--" Grace stopped. She had
been tempted to say that Kathleen would be likely to tell tales and
spoil the surprise.

"I know what you were going to say. You believe she would tell Alberta
our plans and spoil the party," was Elfreda's blunt comment. "Well, so
do I believe it. Any one can see that."

Grace smiled at Elfreda's emphatic statement.

"It is wiser not to ask her," she said again. "There are four of us, and
we can count on Arline and Ruth; that leaves twenty-four girls to be
invited. Divided, that is six girls to each one of us. You must each
choose the six girls you will agree to see and make it your business to
invite them to the party. Try to make them promise to come, for we don't
want to change the list."

"What are we going to have to eat?" asked Elfreda. "That is an extremely
important feature of any jollification. I always think of things to eat,
even though I don't eat them. Just thinking of them can't make one
stout, and it is a world of satisfaction."

"We had better have different kinds of sandwiches, olives and pickles,
and what else?" asked Grace.

"Ice cream and cake. We might have salted nuts and lemonade, too," added
Miriam.

"It sounds good to me," averred Elfreda, relapsing into slang. "But
don't rely on the girls to bring this stuff. Assess them fifty cents
apiece with the understanding that another tax will be levied if
necessary."

"That is sound advice," laughed Miriam, "but it means that the duty of
making of the sandwiches must fall upon us."

"I guess I can stand it," nodded Elfreda with a sudden generosity. "I'll
take the sandwich making upon myself, if you say so. You all know
perfectly well that I can neither be equalled nor surpassed when it
comes to the 'eats' problem. Candidly, I'm ashamed of myself because I
didn't respond when Grace first asked me to help, and this sandwich task
is going to be my act of atonement. So, Anne, you and Miriam had better
get busy, too, and decide what yours will be, for we've all been found
guilty of lacking college spirit, and we've got to make good."

"I will pledge myself to collect the money for the refreshments as a
further act of atonement," volunteered Anne.

"And I will do the shopping for you when the money is collected,"
promised Miriam. "Thanks to the careful training of J. Elfreda Briggs, I
know what to buy and where to buy it."

"But you are leaving nothing for me to do," protested Grace.

"There will be plenty of things for you to do," declared Elfreda. "You
will have to keep an eye on us and see that we perform our tasks with
diplomacy and skill."

"It requires a great deal of diplomacy to make sandwiches, doesn't it,
Elfreda?" was Anne's innocent observation.

"You know very well I wasn't referring to the making of the sandwiches,"
retorted Elfreda, with a good-natured grin. "It is the delivering of the
invitations that is going to require a wily, sugar-coated tongue. The
majority of the girls are not fond of either Alberta Wicks or Mary
Hampton. The very ones you believe will help you may prove to be the
most prejudiced."

"I am well aware of that fact," flung back Grace laughingly. "I received
an unexpected demonstration of it a few moments ago."

"So you did," responded Elfreda unabashed. "I hadn't forgotten it,
either. Therefore I repeat that you will have your hands full managing
the ethical side of this surprise party. You will have to interview the
girls we can't persuade to come, for there are sure to be some of them
who will raise the same objections that we did, and if they do accept,
it will be only to please Grace Harlowe."



CHAPTER XXIII

WHAT EMMA DEAN FORGOT


The surprise party did much toward placing Alberta Wicks and Mary
Hampton on a friendly footing with the members of their own class and
the juniors. Strange to relate, there had been little or no reluctance
exhibited by those invited in accepting their invitations, and as a
final satisfaction to Grace the night of the party was warm and moonlit.

The astonishment of the two seniors can be better imagined than
described. Grace had purposely made an engagement to spend the evening
with them, and under pretense of having Alberta Wicks try over a new
song, had inveigled them to the living room, where the company of girls
had trooped in upon them, and a merry evening had ensued.

Wholly unused to friendly attentions from their classmates, Alberta and
Mary, formerly self-assured even to arrogance, did the honors of the
occasion with a touch of diffidence that went far toward establishing
them on an entirely new basis at Overton, and they said good-night to
their guests with a delightful feeling of comradeship that had never
before been theirs.

It had been agreed upon by the Semper Fidelis girls that they should
extend the right hand of fellowship as often as possible to the two
seniors during the short time left them at Overton. It was Grace who had
proposed this. "We must do all we can to help them fill the last of
their college days with good times. Then they can never forget what a
great honor it is to call Overton 'Alma Mater,'" she had argued with an
earnestness that could not be gainsaid.

Now that this particular shadow had lifted, Grace was still concerned
over her utter failure to keep her word to Mabel Ashe regarding the
newspaper girl. When Kathleen had discovered that Alberta Wicks and Mary
Hampton now numbered themselves among Grace's friends, she religiously
avoided the two seniors as well as the Semper Fidelis girls. She became
sullen and moody, apparently lost all interest in breaking rules and
studied with an earnestness that evoked the commendation of the faculty,
and caused her to be classed with the "digs" by the more
frivolous-minded freshmen. Her reputation for dashing off clever bits of
verse also became established, and her themes were frequently read in
the freshman English classes and occasionally in sophomore English, too.
In spite of her literary achievements, however, she remained as
unpopular as ever. To the girls who knew her she was too changeable to
be relied upon, and her sarcastic manner discouraged those who ventured
to be friendly.

"If I haven't been able to keep my word to Mabel it isn't because I have
not tried," Grace Harlowe murmured half aloud, as she walked toward her
favorite seat under a giant elm at the lower end of the campus, an
unopened letter in her hand. Grace tore open the envelope and
immediately became absorbed in the contents of the letter. "I wish she
could come up here for commencement," she sighed, "and I wish she knew
the truth about Kathleen West. I can't write it. It would seem so unfair
and contemptible to present my side of the story to Mabel without giving
Kathleen a chance to present hers. That is, if she really considers that
she has one."

"I knew I'd find you here," called a disconsolate voice, and Emma Dean
appeared from behind a huge flowering bush. "I've a terrible confession
to make, and there's no time like the present for admitting my sins of
omission and commission. Please put a decided accent on omission."

"Now what have you forgotten to do?" laughed Grace. "It can't be
anything very serious."

"You won't laugh when I tell you," returned Emma, looking sober. "I
shall never be agreeable and promise to deliver a message or anything
else for any one again. I am not to be trusted. Here is the cause of all
my sorrow." She handed Grace a large, square envelope with the contrite
explanation: "Words can't tell you how sorry I am. It has been in the
pocket of my heavy coat since the week before I went home for the Easter
holidays. I went over to the big bulletin board the day before you went
home and saw this letter addressed to you. I wish I had left it there,
as I did last time. There was one for me, too, so I put them both in my
coat pocket, intending to give you yours the moment I reached Wayne
Hall. But before I was half way across the campus I met the Emerson
twins, and they literally dragged me into Vinton's for a sundae. By the
time I reached the hall, all remembrance of the letters had passed from
my mind.

"I didn't take my heavy coat home with me, and when I came back to
Overton the weather had grown warm, so I did not wear it again. This
afternoon it fell on the floor of my closet, and when I picked it up I
noticed something white at the top of one of the pockets. There! Now
I've confessed and I shall not blame you if you are cross with me. My
letter didn't amount to much. It was from a cousin of mine, whose
letters always bore me to desperation. Now, say all the mean things to
me that you like. I'm resigned," invited Emma, closing her eyes and
folding her hands across her breast.

"I'm not going to scold you, Emma," declared Grace, laughing a little.
"I wonder who this can be from? The postmark is almost obliterated.
However, I'll soon see."

"Do you want me to go on about my business?" was Emma's pointed
question.

"Certainly not. Pardon me while I read this. Then I'll walk to the Hall
with you. It is almost dinner time." As Grace unfolded the letter the
inside sheet fell from it to the ground. As she bent to pick it up her
eyes lingered upon the signature with an expression of unbelieving
amazement stamped upon her face. Then she glanced down the first page of
the letter.

"Oh, it can't be true! It's too wonderful!" she gasped. "Oh, Emma, Emma,
if I had only received this the day it came!"

"I knew it was something important," groaned Emma. "And I was trying to
be so helpful."

Unmindful of Emma's remorseful utterance, Grace went on excitedly: "Only
think, Emma, it is from Ruth's father. He is alive and well and frantic
with joy over the news that Ruth did not die in that terrible wreck."
Grace sprang from her seat and seized Emma by the arm. "Come on," she
urged, "I must tell the girls at once."

Grace ran all the way to Wayne Hall, and bursting into her room pounced
upon Anne and hustled her unceremoniously into Miriam's room, where
Elfreda and Miriam viewed their noisy entrance with tolerant eyes. A
moment afterward Emma Dean appeared, out of breath. In a series of
excited sentences, Grace told the glorious news. "But I must read you
what he says," she said, her eyes very bright.

     "MY DEAR MISS HARLOWE:--

     "What can I say to you who have sent me the most welcome message I
     ever received? It is as though the dead had come to life. To think
     that my baby daughter, my little Ruth, still lives, and has fought
     her way to friends and education. It is almost beyond belief. I
     cannot fittingly express by letter the feeling of gratitude which
     overwhelms me when I think of your generous and whole-souled
     interest in me and my child. I have certain matters here in Nome to
     which I must attend, then I shall start for the States, and once
     there proceed east with all speed. It will not be advisable for you
     to answer this letter, as I shall have started on my journey before
     your answer could possibly reach me. I shall telegraph Ruth as soon
     as I arrive in San Francisco. I have not written her as yet,
     because you said in your letter to me that you did not wish her to
     know until you had heard from me. I thank you for trying to shield
     her from needless pain, and I am longing for the day when I can
     look into Ruth's eyes and call her daughter. Believe me, my
     appreciation of your kindness to me and to Ruth lies too deep for
     words. With the hope that I shall be in Overton before many weeks
     to claim my own, and thank you and your friends personally,

     "Yours in deep sincerity,
     "ARTHUR NORTHRUP DENTON."

"Well, if that isn't in the line of a sensation, then my name isn't
Josephine Elfreda Briggs! And to think Ruth's father has actually
materialized and is coming to Overton? When did you receive the letter,
Grace?"

"It came just before the Easter vacation," interposed Emma Dean bravely,
without giving Grace a chance to answer. "I might as well tell you. I
took it from the big bulletin board, put it in my coat pocket to bring
to Grace and forgot it. Don't all speak at once." Emma bowed her head,
her hands over her ears.

Then an immediate buzz of conversation arose, and Emma came in for a
deserved amount of good-natured teasing.

"What is the date of the letter!" asked Elfreda.

"The twenty-sixth of February," replied Grace. "It must have been on the
way for weeks."

"And in Emma's pocket longer," was Miriam's sly comment.

"But he should have arrived long before this," persisted Elfreda. "I
wonder if he received Ruth's letter."

"Perhaps he didn't start as soon as he intended," said Anne.

"That may be so. Nevertheless, he has had plenty of time to attend to
his affairs and come here, too," declared Elfreda. "I wouldn't be
surprised to see him almost any day."

"Wouldn't it be splendid if he were to come here in time to see Ruth
usher at commencement?" smiled Grace.

"He'd better hurry, then," broke in Emma Dean, "for commencement is only
two weeks off. Shall you tell Ruth? Who is going with you to tell her,
and when are you going?"

"After dinner, all of us," announced Elfreda. "Aren't we, Grace?"

Grace nodded.

"Then I shall join the band," announced Emma. "Although I proved a
delinquent and untrustworthy messenger, still you must admit that at
last I delivered my message."



CHAPTER XXIV

CONCLUSION


The last of June, in addition to its reputed wealth of roses, brought
with it exceedingly hot weather, but to the members of the senior and
junior classes, whose eyes were fixed upon commencement, the warm
weather was a matter of minor importance. It was the first Overton
commencement in which the three Oakdale girls had taken part, and
greatly to their satisfaction they had been detailed to usher at the
commencement exercises. Arline, Ruth, Gertrude Wells, the Emersons and
Emma Dean had also acted as ushers, and on the evening of commencement
day the Emerson twins had given a porch party to the other "slaves of
the realm," as they had laughingly styled themselves.

It had been a momentous week, and the morning after commencement day
Grace awoke with the disturbing thought that her trunk remained still
unpacked, that she had two errands to do, and that she had promised to
meet Arline Thayer at Vinton's at half-past nine o'clock that morning.

"I am glad it isn't eight o'clock yet," she commented to Anne, as she
stood before the mirror looking very trim and dainty in her tailored
suit of dark blue. "I'm going to put on my hat now, then I won't have to
come upstairs again. I'll do my errands first, then it will be time to
meet Arline, and I'll be here in time for luncheon. After that I must
pack my trunk, and if I hurry I shall still have some time to spare. Our
train doesn't leave until four o'clock. Will you telephone for the
expressman, Anne?"

Anne, who was busily engaged in trying to make room in the tray of her
trunk for a burned wood handkerchief box which she had overlooked,
looked up long enough to acquiesce. "There!" she exclaimed as the box
finally slipped into place, "that is something accomplished. Hereafter,
I shall leave this box at home. Every time I pack my trunk I am sure to
find it staring me in the face from some corner of the room when I
haven't a square inch of space left. I'll keep my handkerchiefs in the
top drawer of the chiffonier next year."

"I wish I had no packing to do," sighed Grace. "You never seem to mind
it."

"That is because I am a trouper, and troupers live in their trunks,"
smiled Anne. "Packing and unpacking never dismay me."

"Isn't it fortunate, Anne, that our commencement happened a week before
that of the boys? We can be at home for a day or two before we go to
M---- to attend their commencement."

"I can't realize that our boys are men, and about to go out into the
world, each one to his own work," said Anne. "They will always seem just
boys to us, won't they?"

"Yes, the spirit of youth will remain with them as long as they live,"
prophesied Grace wisely, "because they will always be interested in
things. And if one lives every day for all it is worth and goes on to
the next day prepared to make the best of whatever it may bring forth,
one can never grow old in spirit. Look at Mrs. Gray. She never will be
'years old,' she will always be 'years young.' I am so anxious to see
Father and Mother and Mrs. Gray and the girls, but I hate saying
good-bye to Overton. Every year it seems to grow dearer."

"That is because it has been our second home," was Anne's soft
rejoinder.

A knock at the door, followed by a peremptory summons in Elfreda's
voice, "Come on down to breakfast," ended the little talk.

By half-past eight o'clock Grace was on her way toward Main Street, bent
on disposing of her errands with all possible speed. The vision of her
yawning trunk, flanked by piles of clothing waiting patiently to be put
in it, loomed large before her. Later on, keeping her appointment with
Arline, she heroically tore herself from that fascinating young woman's
society and hurried toward Wayne Hall, filled with laudable intentions.
Anne had finished her packing and departed to pay a farewell visit to
Ruth Denton.

"Oh, dear," sighed Grace, "I hate to begin. I suppose I had better put
these heavy things in first." She reached for her heavy blue coat and
sweater, slowly depositing them in the bottom of the trunk. Her raincoat
followed the sweater, and she was in the act of folding her blue serge
dress, when a knock sounded on the door, and the maid proclaimed in a
monotonous voice, "Telegram, Miss Harlowe."

The blue serge dress was thrown into the trunk, and Grace dashed from
the room and down the stairs at the maid's heels. Her father and mother
were Grace's first thought. What if something dreadful had happened to
either of them! The bare idea of a telegram thrilled Grace with
apprehension. Her fingers trembled as she signed the messenger's book
and tore open the envelope. One glance at the telegram and with an
inarticulate cry Grace darted up the stairs and down the hall to her
room. Stopping only long enough to seize her hat, she made for the
stairs, the telegram clutched tightly in her hand. "Oh, if Anne or
Miriam were only here," she breathed, as she paused for an instant at
Mrs. Elwood's gate to look up and down the street, then set off in the
direction of the campus. At the edge of the campus she paused again,
glancing anxiously about her in the vain hope of spying Ruth or Miriam,
then she started across the campus toward Morton House. As she neared
her destination, the front door of the hall opened and a familiar figure
appeared. It was followed by another figure, and with a little
exclamation of satisfaction Grace redoubled her pace. "Ruth! Arline!"
she cried, her face alight: "Can't you guess? It has come at last. Here
it is. Read it, Ruth."

Ruth had turned very pale, and was staring at Grace in mute, questioning
fashion. "You don't mean----" her voice died away in a startled gasp.

"I do, I do," caroled Grace, tears of sheer happiness rising in her gray
eyes. "Read it, Ruth. Oh, I am so glad for your sake. Three more hours
and you will see him. It seems like a fairytale."

Ruth stood still, reading the telegram over and over: "Arrive Overton
2:40. Will you and Ruth meet me? Arthur N. Denton."

"And to think," said Arline, in awe-stricken tones, "that Ruth is
actually going to see her father!"

"My very own father." The tenderness in Ruth's voice brought the tears
to Arline's blue eyes. Grace was making no effort to conceal the fact
that her own were running over.

"You mustn't cry, girls," faltered Ruth. "It's the happiest day
of--my--life." Then she buried her face in her hands and ran into the
house. Grace and Arline followed, to find her huddled on the lowest step
of the stairs, her slender shoulders shaking.

"I--I can't help it," she sobbed. "You would cry, too, if after being
driven from pillar to post ever since you were little, you'd suddenly
find that there was some one in the world who loved you and wanted to
take care of you."

"Of course you can't help crying," soothed Grace, stroking the bowed
head. "Arline and I cried, too. This is one of the great moments of your
life."

"Dear little chum," said Arline softly, sitting down beside Ruth and
putting her arms around the weeping girl, "your wish has been granted."

An eloquent silence fell upon the trio for a moment, which was broken by
the sound of voices in the upstairs hall. Ruth and Arline rose
simultaneously from the stairs. "Come up to my room," urged Arline, "and
we will finish our cry in private."

"I have no more tears to shed," smiled Grace, "and I dare not go to your
room."

"Dare not?" inquired Arline.

"I haven't finished my packing, and our train leaves at four-thirty.
Oh!" Grace sprang to her feet in sudden alarm. "I asked Anne to
telephone for the expressman. Perhaps he has called for my trunk, and
gone by this time. If he has, I shall have to reopen negotiations with
the express company at once in order that it shall reach the station in
time. Will you meet me at the station at a quarter-past two o'clock, or
can you stop for me at the Hall?"

"I'll be at the Hall at two o'clock," promised Ruth.

Filled with commendable determination to finish her packing as speedily
as possible, Grace hurried home and up the stairs, unpinning her hat as
she ran. Dashing into her room, she dropped her hat on her couch, then
stared about her in amazement. The piles of clothing she had left had
disappeared, and, yes, her trunk had also vanished. "Where--" she began,
when the door opened and three figures precipitated themselves upon her.

"Don't say we never did anything for you," cried Elfreda.

"We didn't overlook a single thing," assured Anne.

"It isn't every one who can secure the services of professional trunk
packers."

    "'Will you, won't you, will you, won't you,
    Come and join the dance?'"

caroled Elfreda off the key, as she did a true mock turtle shuffle
around Grace. Joining hands, the three girls hemmed Grace in and pranced
about her.

"What is going on in here?" demanded Emma Dean, appearing in the
doorway. "Is the mere idea of being seniors going to your heads?"

"I ought to be the one to dance, Emma," laughed Grace. "I went out of
here with my room in chaos and my trunk unpacked, and came back to find
it not only packed but gone. Thank you, girls," she nodded
affectionately to her chums.

"No one exhibited any such tender thoughtfulness for me," commented
Emma. "I had to wrestle with my packing unaided and alone. And how
things do pile up! I could hardly find a place for all my stuff."

"Oh, I almost forgot my great news," cried Grace. Then she produced the
telegram, and a buzz of excited conversation began which lasted until
the luncheon bell rang.

Ruth was punctual to the moment, and after receiving the affectionate
congratulations of the girls, she and Grace started for the station on
the, to Ruth, most eventful errand of her young life.

"How shall I know him, Grace, and how will he know me?" she said
tremulously.

"I don't know," returned Grace rather blankly. "That part of it hadn't
occurred to me. Still, Overton is only a small city, and there won't be
many incoming passengers. It's a case of outgoing passengers this week.
I have an idea that we shall know him," she concluded.

When, at exactly 2:40, the train pulled into the station, two pairs of
eyes were fixed anxiously on the few travelers that left the train.
Suddenly Grace's hand caught Ruth's arm, "There he is! Oh, Ruth, isn't
he splendid? Come on. Don't be afraid. I feel certain he is Arthur
Northrup Denton."

Seizing Ruth's hand, she led her, unresisting, to meet a tail,
broad-shouldered, smooth-faced man, whose piercing gray eyes constantly
scanned the various persons scattered along the platform. His brown hair
was touched with gray at the temples, and his keen, resolute face
bespoke unfaltering purpose and power.

With Grace to think was to act. She took an impulsive step toward the
tall stranger, confronting him with, "I am Grace Harlowe. I am sure you
are Mr. Denton."

"Yes, I am Arthur Denton, and----"

"This is your daughter, Ruth," declared Grace hurriedly, pushing Ruth
gently forward. An instant later the few persons lingering on the
station platform saw the tall stranger fold the slender figure of Ruth
in a long embrace.

"I was sure you were Ruth's father," declared Grace as, a little later,
they were speeding through the streets of Overton in the taxicab Mr.
Denton had engaged at the station. "The moment I saw you I felt that you
could be no one else."

Ruth sat with her hand in her father's, an expression of ineffable
tenderness on her small face. She was content to listen to him and Grace
without joining in the conversation. Her greatest wish had been
fulfilled and she was experiencing a joy too deep for words. Mr. Denton
explained to them that his long silence had been due to a series of
misadventures that had befallen him on his way from Alaska to San
Francisco. He had received only one letter from Grace and none from
Ruth, as he had left Nome directly after receiving Grace's letter. The
others had evidently reached Nome after his departure and had not been
forwarded to him. The boat on which he had taken passage had been
wrecked and he had barely escaped drowning. He had been rescued by an
Indian fisherman from the icy waters of Bering Sea, and taken to his
hut, where for days he had lain ill from exposure to the elements.

At the earliest possible moment he had embarked for San Francisco, then
journeyed east. He had purposely refrained from telegraphing until
within a day's journey from Overton, fearing that something might occur
to delay his meeting with his daughter.

Ruth, who had already planned to remain in Overton during the summer and
work at dressmaking, smiled in rapture as she heard her father plan a
long sight-seeing trip through the west which would last until time for
her return to college in the fall. They drove with Grace to Wayne Hall,
promising to return to the station in time to meet her friends and say
good-bye to her, Mr. Denton assuring her that he hoped some day to repay
the debt of gratitude which he owed her.

Three familiar figures ran downstairs to meet Grace as she stepped into
the hall.

"We've been waiting patiently for you," announced Elfreda.

"Did he materialize?" from Anne.

"What do you think of him?" was Miriam's quick question.

"Come into the living-room and I'll tell you," said Grace. "We won't
have much time to talk, though. It is after three o'clock now."

"No; come upstairs to our room," invited Elfreda. "We have a special
reason for asking you."

Grace obediently accompanied the three girls upstairs. The first thing
that attracted her eye was a tray containing a tall pitcher of fruit
lemonade and four glasses. Elfreda stepped to the table and began
pouring the lemonade. When she had filled the glasses she handed them,
in turn, to each girl. "To our senior year," she said solemnly, raising
her glass. "May it be the best of all. Drink her down."

"What a nice idea," smiled Grace as she set down her glass.

"It was Elfreda's proposal," said Miriam. "She made the lemonade, too."

"Then let us drink to her." Grace reached for her glass and Miriam for
the pitcher.

"I'll do the honors this time," declared Miriam. "Here's to the
Honorable Josephine Elfreda Briggs, expert brewer of lemonade, model
roommate and loyal friend."

"Oh, now," protested Elfreda, "what made you spoil everything? I was
just beginning to enjoy myself."

"The pleasure is all ours," retorted Anne.

"Besides, you are getting nothing but your just deserts. We are only
glad to have a chance to demonstrate our deep appreciation of your many
lovely qualities, Miss Briggs," she ended mischievously.

"Yes, Miss Briggs," laughed Grace, "you are indispensable to this happy
band, Miss Briggs. You must be blind if you can't see that."

"Very blind indeed, Miss Briggs," agreed Miriam Nesbit. "But because you
are so blind, Miss Briggs, I shall endeavor, in a few well chosen words,
Miss Briggs, to make you see what is so plain to the rest of us."
Whereupon Miriam launched forth into a funny little eulogy of Elfreda
and her good works which caused the stout girl to exclaim in
embarrassment, "Oh, see here, Miriam, I'm not half so wonderful as I
might be. If you said all those nice things about yourself or Grace or
Anne it would be more to the point."

"But it might not be true," interposed Grace.

"And we quite agree with Miriam," added Anne.

Elfreda surveyed them in silence, an unusually tender expression in her
shrewd blue eyes. "I can see that I have a whole lot to be thankful
for," she said after a moment. "Next year I am going to try harder than
ever to live up to your flattering opinion of me. Then I know that I
can't fail to be a good senior."

Just how completely Elfreda carried out her resolution and what happened
to Grace Harlowe and her friends during their senior year in college
will be found in "Grace Harlowe's Fourth Year at Overton
College."


THE END.



       *       *       *       *       *



    HENRY ALTEMUS COMPANY'S

    Best and Least Expensive Books for Boys and Girls



    The Motor Boat Club Series

    By H. IRVING HANCOCK


    The keynote of these books is manliness. The stories are
    wonderfully entertaining, and they are at the same time sound
    and wholesome. No boy will willingly lay down an unfinished
    book in this series.

    THE MOTOR BOAT CLUB OF THE KENNEBEC;
      Or, The Secret of Smugglers' Island.

    THE MOTOR BOAT CLUB AT NANTUCKET;
      Or, The Mystery of the Dunstan Heir.

    THE MOTOR BOAT CLUB OFF LONG ISLAND;
      Or, A Daring Marine Game at Racing Speed.

    THE MOTOR BOAT CLUB AND THE WIRELESS;
      Or, The Dot, Dash and Dare Cruise.

    THE MOTOR BOAT CLUB IN FLORIDA;
      Or, Laying the Ghost of Alligator Swamp.

    THE MOTOR BOAT CLUB AT THE GOLDEN GATE;
      Or, A Thrilling Capture in the Great Fog.

    THE MOTOR BOAT CLUB ON THE GREAT LAKES;
      Or, The Flying Dutchman of the Big Fresh Water.



    Battleship Boys Series

    By FRANK GEE PATCHIN


    These stories throb with the life of young Americans on today's
    huge drab Dreadnaughts.

    THE BATTLESHIP BOYS AT SEA;
      Or, Two Apprentices in Uncle Sam's Navy.

    THE BATTLESHIP BOYS' FIRST STEP UPWARD;
      Or, Winning Their Grades as Petty Officers.

    THE BATTLESHIP BOYS IN FOREIGN SERVICE;
      Or, Earning New Ratings in European Seas.

    THE BATTLESHIP BOYS IN THE TROPICS;
      Or, Upholding the American Flag in a Honduras Revolution.

    THE BATTLESHIP BOYS IN THE WARDROOM;
      Or, Winning their Commissions as Line Officers.

    THE BATTLESHIP BOYS WITH THE ADRIATIC CHASERS;
      Or, Blocking the Path of the Undersea Raiders.

    THE BATTLESHIP BOYS' SKY PATROL;
      Or, Fighting the Hun from above the Clouds.



    The Range and Grange Hustlers

    By FRANK GEE PATCHIN


    Have you any idea of the excitements, the glories of life on
    great ranches in the West? Any bright boy will "devour" the
    books of this series, once he has made a start with the first
    volume.

    THE RANGE AND GRANGE HUSTLERS ON THE RANCH;
      Or, The Boy Shepherds of the Great Divide.

    THE RANGE AND GRANGE HUSTLERS' GREATEST ROUND-UP;
      Or, Pitting Their Wits Against a Packers' Combine.

    THE RANGE AND GRANGE HUSTLERS ON THE PLAINS;
      Or, Following the Steam Plows Across the Prairie.

    THE RANGE AND GRANGE HUSTLERS AT CHICAGO;
      Or, The Conspiracy of the Wheat Pit.



    Submarine Boys Series

    By VICTOR G. DURHAM


    THE SUBMARINE BOYS ON DUTY;
      Or, Life on a Diving Torpedo Boat.

    THE SUBMARINE BOYS' TRIAL TRIP;
      Or, "Making Good" as Young Experts.

    THE SUBMARINE BOYS AND THE MIDDIES;
      Or, The Prize Detail at Annapolis.

    THE SUBMARINE BOYS AND THE SPIES;
      Or, Dodging the Sharks of the Deep.

    THE SUBMARINE BOYS' LIGHTNING CRUISE;
      Or, The Young Kings of the Deep.

    THE SUBMARINE BOYS FOR THE FLAG;
      Or, Deeding Their Lives to Uncle Sam.

    THE SUBMARINE BOYS AND THE SMUGGLERS;
      Or, Breaking Up the New Jersey Customs Frauds.



    Grace Harlowe Overseas Series


    GRACE HARLOWE OVERSEAS.

    GRACE HARLOWE WITH THE RED CROSS IN FRANCE.

    GRACE HARLOWE WITH THE MARINES AT CHATEAU THIERRY.

    GRACE HARLOWE WITH THE AMERICAN ARMY IN THE ARGONNE.



    The College Girls Series

    By JESSIE GRAHAM FLOWER, A.M.


    GRACE HARLOWE'S FIRST YEAR AT OVERTON COLLEGE.

    GRACE HARLOWE'S SECOND YEAR AT OVERTON COLLEGE.

    GRACE HARLOWE'S THIRD YEAR AT OVERTON
      COLLEGE.

    GRACE HARLOWE'S FOURTH YEAR AT OVERTON COLLEGE.

    GRACE HARLOWE'S RETURN TO OVERTON CAMPUS.

    GRACE HARLOWE'S PROBLEM.

    GRACE HARLOWE'S GOLDEN SUMMER.



    Pony Rider Boys Series

    By FRANK GEE PATCHIN


    These tales may be aptly described the best books for boys and girls.

    THE PONY RIDER BOYS IN THE ROCKIES;
      Or, The Secret of the Lost Claim.

    THE PONY RIDER BOYS IN TEXAS;
      Or, The Veiled Riddle of the Plains.

    THE PONY RIDER BOYS IN MONTANA;
      Or, The Mystery of the Old Custer Trail.

    THE PONY RIDER BOYS IN THE OZARKS;
      Or, The Secret of Ruby Mountain.

    THE PONY RIDER BOYS IN THE ALKALI;
      Or, Finding a Key to the Desert Maze.

    THE PONY RIDER BOYS IN NEW MEXICO;
      Or, The End of the Silver Trail.

    THE PONY RIDER BOYS IN THE GRAND CANYON;
      Or, The Mystery of Bright Angel Gulch.



    The Boys of Steel Series

    By JAMES R. MEARS


    Each book presents vivid picture of this great industry. Each story
    is full of adventure and fascination.

    THE IRON BOYS IN THE MINES;
      Or, Starting at the Bottom of the Shaft.

    THE IRON BOYS AS FOREMEN;
      Or, Heading the Diamond Drill Shift.

    THE IRON BOYS ON THE ORE BOATS;
      Or, Roughing It on the Great Lakes.

    THE IRON BOYS IN THE STEEL MILLS;
      Or, Beginning Anew in the Cinder Pits.



    The Madge Morton Books

    By AMY D. V. CHALMERS


    MADGE MORTON--CAPTAIN OF THE MERRY MAID.

    MADGE MORTON'S SECRET.

    MADGE MORTON'S TRUST.

    MADGE MORTON'S VICTORY.



    West Point Series

    By H. IRVING HANCOCK


    The principal characters in these narratives are manly, young
    Americans whose doings will inspire all boy readers.

    DICK PRESCOTT'S FIRST YEAR AT WEST POINT;
      Or, Two Chums in the Cadet Gray.

    DICK PRESCOTT'S SECOND YEAR AT WEST POINT;
      Or, Finding the Glory of the Soldier's Life.

    DICK PRESCOTT'S THIRD YEAR AT WEST POINT;
      Or, Standing Firm for Flag and Honor.

    DICK PRESCOTT'S FOURTH YEAR AT WEST POINT;
      Or, Ready to Drop the Gray for Shoulder Straps.



    Annapolis Series

    By H. IRVING HANCOCK


    The Spirit of the new Navy is delightfully and truthfully depicted
    in these volumes.

    DAVE DARRIN'S FIRST YEAR AT ANNAPOLIS;
      Or, Two Plebe Midshipmen at the U.S. Naval Academy.

    DAVE DARRIN'S SECOND YEAR AT ANNAPOLIS;
      Or, Two Midshipmen as Naval Academy "Youngsters."

    DAVE DARRIN'S THIRD YEAR AT ANNAPOLIS;
      Or, Leaders of the Second Class Midshipmen.

    DAVE DARRIN'S FOURTH YEAR AT ANNAPOLIS;
      Or, Headed for Graduation and the Big Cruise.



    The Young Engineers Series

    By H. IRVING HANCOCK


    The heroes of these stories are known to readers of the High
    School Boys Series. In this new series Tom Reade and Harry
    Hazelton prove worthy of all the traditions of Dick & Co.

    THE YOUNG ENGINEERS IN COLORADO;
      Or, At Railroad Building in Earnest.

    THE YOUNG ENGINEERS IN ARIZONA;
      Or, Laying Tracks on the "Man-Killer" Quicksand.

    THE YOUNG ENGINEERS IN NEVADA;
      Or, Seeking Fortune on the Turn of a Pick.

    THE YOUNG ENGINEERS IN MEXICO;
      Or, Fighting the Mine Swindlers.



    Boys of the Army Series

    By H. IRVING HANCOCK


    These books breathe the life and spirit of the United States
    Army of to-day, and the life, just as it is, is described by a master
    pen.

    UNCLE SAM'S BOYS IN THE RANKS;
      Or, Two Recruits in the United States Army.

    UNCLE SAM'S BOYS ON FIELD DUTY;
      Or, Winning Corporal's Chevrons.

    UNCLE SAM'S BOYS AS SERGEANTS;
      Or, Handling Their First Real Commands.

    UNCLE SAM'S BOYS IN THE PHILIPPINES;
      Or, Following the Flag Against the Moros.

    UNCLE SAM'S BOYS AS LIEUTENANTS;
      Or, Serving Old Glory as Line Officers.

    UNCLE SAM'S BOYS WITH PERSHING;
      Or, Dick Prescott at Grips with the Boche.

    UNCLE SAM'S BOYS SMASH THE GERMANS;
      Or, Winding Up the Great War.



    Dave Darrin Series

    By H. IRVING HANCOCK


    DAVE DARRIN AT VERA CRUZ;
      Or, Fighting With the U. S. Navy in Mexico.

    DAVE DARRIN ON MEDITERRANEAN SERVICE.

    DAVE DARRIN'S SOUTH AMERICAN CRUISE.

    DAVE DARRIN ON THE ASIATIC STATION.

    DAVE DARRIN AND THE GERMAN SUBMARINES.

    DAVE DARRIN AFTER THE MINE LAYERS;
      Or, Hitting the Enemy a Hard Naval Blow.



    The Meadow-Brook Girls Series

    By JANET ALDRIDGE


    THE MEADOW-BROOK GIRLS UNDER CANVAS.

    THE MEADOW-BROOK GIRLS ACROSS COUNTRY.

    THE MEADOW-BROOK GIRLS AFLOAT.

    THE MEADOW-BROOK GIRLS IN THE HILLS.

    THE MEADOW-BROOK GIRLS BY THE SEA.

    THE MEADOW-BROOK GIRLS ON THE TENNIS
      COURTS.



    High School Boys Series

    By H. IRVING HANCOCK


    In this series of bright, crisp books a new note has been struck.
    Boys of every age under sixty will be interested in these fascinating
    volumes.

    THE HIGH SCHOOL FRESHMEN;
      Or, Dick & Co.'s First Year Pranks and Sports.

    THE HIGH SCHOOL PITCHER;
      Or, Dick & Co. on the Gridley Diamond.

    THE HIGH SCHOOL LEFT END;
      Or, Dick & Co. Grilling on the Football Gridiron.

    THE HIGH SCHOOL CAPTAIN OF THE TEAM;
      Or, Dick & Co. Leading the Athletic Vanguard.



    Grammar School Boys Series

    By H. IRVING HANCOCK


    This series of stories, based on the actual doings of grammar
    School boys, comes near to the heart of the average American boy.

    THE GRAMMAR SCHOOL BOYS OF GRIDLEY;
      Or, Dick & Co. Start Things Moving.

    THE GRAMMAR SCHOOL BOYS SNOWBOUND;
      Or, Dick & Co. at Winter Sports.

    THE GRAMMAR SCHOOL BOYS IN THE WOODS;
      Or, Dick & Co. Trail Fun and Knowledge.

    THE GRAMMAR SCHOOL BOYS IN SUMMER ATHLETICS;
      Or, Dick & Co. Make Their Fame Secure.



    High School Boys' Vacation Series

    By H. IRVING HANCOCK


    "Give us more Dick Prescott books!"

    This has been the burden of the cry from young readers of the
    country over. Almost numberless letters have been received by the
    publishers, making this eager demand; for Dick Prescott, Dave Darrin,
    Tom Reade, and the other members of Dick & Co. are the most
    popular high school boys in the land. Boys will alternately thrill
    and chuckle when reading these splendid narratives.

    THE HIGH SCHOOL BOYS' CANOE CLUB;
      Or, Dick & Co.'s Rivals on Lake Pleasant.

    THE HIGH SCHOOL BOYS IN SUMMER CAMP;
      Or, The Dick Prescott Six Training for the Gridley Eleven.

    THE HIGH SCHOOL BOYS' FISHING TRIP;
      Or, Dick & Co. in the Wilderness.

    THE HIGH SCHOOL BOYS' TRAINING HIKE;
      Or, Dick & Co. Making Themselves "Hard as Nails."



    The Circus Boys Series

    By EDGAR B. P. DARLINGTON


    Mr. Darlington's books breathe forth every phase of an intensely
    interesting and exciting life

    THE CIRCUS BOYS ON THE FLYING RINGS;
      Or, Making the Start in the Sawdust Life.

    THE CIRCUS BOYS ACROSS THE CONTINENT;
      Or, Winning New Laurels on the Tanbark.

    THE CIRCUS BOYS IN DIXIE LAND;
      Or, Winning the Plaudits of the Sunny South.

    THE CIRCUS BOYS ON THE MISSISSIPPI;
      Or, Afloat with the Big Show on the Big River.



    The High School Girls Series

    By JESSIE GRAHAM FLOWER, A.M.


    These breezy stories of the American High School Girl take the
    reader fairly by storm.

    GRACE HARLOWE'S PLEBE YEAR AT HIGH SCHOOL;
      Or, The Merry Doings of the Oakdale Freshman Girls.

    GRACE HARLOWE'S SOPHOMORE YEAR AT HIGH SCHOOL;
      Or, The Record of the Girl Chums in Work and Athletics.

    GRACE HARLOWE'S JUNIOR YEAR AT HIGH SCHOOL;
      Or, Fast Friends In the Sororities.

    GRACE HARLOWE'S SENIOR YEAR AT HIGH SCHOOL;
      Or, The Parting of the Ways.



    The Automobile Girls Series

    By LAURA DENT CRANE


    No girl's library--no family book-case can be considered at all
    complete unless it contains these sparkling twentieth-century books.

    THE AUTOMOBILE GIRLS AT NEWPORT;
      Or, Watching the Summer Parade.

    THE AUTOMOBILE GIRLS IN THE BERKSHIRES;
      Or, The Ghost of Lost Man's Trail.

    THE AUTOMOBILE GIRLS ALONG THE HUDSON;
      Or, Fighting Fire in Sleepy Hollow.

    THE AUTOMOBILE GIRLS AT CHICAGO;
      Or, Winning Out Against Heavy Odds.

    THE AUTOMOBILE GIRLS AT PALM BEACH;
      Or, Proving Their Mettle Under Southern Skies.

    THE AUTOMOBILE GIRLS AT WASHINGTON;
      Or, Checkmating the Plots of Foreign Spies.





*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Grace Harlowe's Third Year at Overton College" ***

Doctrine Publishing Corporation provides digitized public domain materials.
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.



Home