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Title: Marjorie Dean High School Senior
Author: Chase, Josephine, -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.

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[Illustration: “WHY, MIGNON, I DIDN’T KNOW YOU WERE HOME FROM SEVERN
BEACH! HOW DO YOU DO?”]



                             MARJORIE DEAN
                           High School Senior

                                   By

                             PAULINE LESTER

                               AUTHOR OF

                 “Marjorie Dean, High School Freshman”
                 “Marjorie Dean, High School Sophomore”
                  “Marjorie Dean, High School Junior”

                           A. L. BURT COMPANY
                          Publishers—New York



                            Copyright, 1917
                         By A. L. BURT COMPANY

                   MARJORIE DEAN, HIGH SCHOOL SENIOR



                                CONTENTS

   CHAPTER                                                          PAGE
        I. A Pretense of Friendship                                    3
       II. A Humble Senior                                            13
      III. Missing: a Letter                                          25
       IV. Laying a Cornerstone                                       36
        V. The Hard Road of Duty                                      50
       VI. Strictly Local Politics                                    63
      VII. A Step Toward Popularity                                   69
     VIII. The Rule of Rules                                          77
       IX. A Real Lookout                                             86
        X. Hallowe’en Mysteries                                       99
       XI. An Unwilling Cavalier                                     112
      XII. A Discouraged Reformer                                    128
     XIII. Jerry Declares Herself                                    141
      XIV. An Unrepentant Sinner                                     154
       XV. The Fulfillment of the Plan                               165
      XVI. A Puzzling Young Person                                   176
     XVII. Choosing a Victim                                         186
    XVIII. Not at Home?                                              199
      XIX. The Sign                                                  212
       XX. When Friends Fall Out                                     223
      XXI. A Message from Jerry                                      236
     XXII. Marjorie Decides                                          244
    XXIII. A Stormy Session                                          254
     XXIV. A Treasureless Treasurer                                  262
      XXV. The Treacherous Treasurer and the Slippery Sleuth         272
     XXVI. Her Better Self                                           282
    XXVII. Commencement                                              299



MARJORIE DEAN, HIGH SCHOOL SENIOR



CHAPTER I—A PRETENSE OF FRIENDSHIP


“Marjorie! Marjorie Dean!” The black-eyed girl in the runabout
accompanied her high-pitched call by a gradual slowing down of the smart
little car she was driving.

The dainty, white-gowned figure on the sidewalk tilted a white parasol
over one shoulder and turned a pair of startled brown eyes in the
direction of the voice. “Why, Mignon, I didn’t know you were home from
Severn Beach! How do you do?” Advancing to the runabout, Marjorie Dean
stretched forth a white-gloved hand.

“I’ve been in Sanford since Wednesday,” returned Mignon. Leaning out of
the runabout, she lightly clasped the proffered fingers. “Get into my
car and I’ll take you wherever you want to go. I’m glad I saw you. It’s
been deadly dull in Sanford with most of the girls still away.” Her
elfish eyes noting that Marjorie’s smart attire betokened a possible
luncheon or tea, Mignon was consumed with a lively curiosity to learn
the pretty senior’s destination. “You look as though you were going to
an afternoon tea,” she continued artfully. “Say where and I’ll ride you
there.”

“Thank you, but I don’t believe I’ll ride. I was out in the car all
morning with General. It’s so lovely this afternoon I’d rather walk. I’m
not bound for a tea, though. I am going to make a call.”

Mignon’s dark brows drew together in a faint frown. “Oh, pshaw!” she
exclaimed. “Why not ride? Unless you don’t wish me to know where you are
going?” she added suspiciously.

“I never thought of that,” was Marjorie’s honest protest. Yet now that
Mignon had mentioned it, it struck Marjorie rather forcibly that she was
not specially anxious to reveal her destination. “I am going to call on
Miss Archer,” she informed her, making an effort to be casual.

“Then I’ll take you there. I should like to see her, too,” announced
Mignon calmly. She had decided that to call on the principal in
Marjorie’s company would be of great advantage to her. “Come on,” she
urged.

Too well-bred to exhibit pointed reluctance, Marjorie resigned herself
to the inevitable and stepped into the runabout. Her visit to Miss
Archer was of a somewhat personal nature. Still, she reflected, it was
nothing very secret, after all. Should her mission prove successful,
Mignon would, under any circumstances, soon learn the result.

“How do you know Miss Archer will be at home?” inquired Mignon as she
drove slowly down the shady avenue. “I thought she was still in the
West.”

“She came home only yesterday. I telephoned her,” returned Marjorie.
“This call of mine is really more like a business appointment. I would
rather have waited until she had her house fairly opened again, but I
couldn’t very well. It might be too late.”

“Oh!” Mignon was burning to demand further information, but the finality
in Marjorie’s tones warned her to go slowly. Between herself and the
latter there remained always a curious wall of reserve created by their
mental attitude toward each other. Mignon did not believe that
Marjorie’s friendliness toward herself was sincere. On the other hand,
Marjorie sensed the note of unbelief. She felt that Mignon did not trust
her and it made her uncomfortable when in the French girl’s presence.

It was a comparatively short ride to the spacious, old-fashioned house,
set in the midst of giant elms, which the last three generations of
Archers had called home. Of them all Miss Archer and an elder sister
alone remained. The two women had arrived in Sanford from a visit to
Western relatives on the previous day. Even in that short time the big
house had taken on an air of new life. The shuttered windows and
boarded-up doors were now open and a hospitable array of comfortable
wicker and willow chairs on the wide veranda proclaimed that someone was
at home.

“We’ll leave the runabout here,” decreed Mignon, as they brought up
outside the tall iron gate. She alighted from it in her lithe, cat-like
manner, her restless eyes fixed on the house. Quite forgetting that she
was merely a second party to the call, Mignon motioned impatiently for
Marjorie to follow and set off up the walk in her most imposing manner.
Divided between amusement and vexation, Marjorie gave a little sigh and
stepped quickly after the French girl.

By the time she had reached the veranda, Mignon had rung the door bell.
A moment and it was answered by a young woman whose blue bungalow apron
and dust cap marked her as maid of all work. “Good afternoon,” she said
politely. To Marjorie she appeared a trifle embarrassed. “She must be a
new maid,” was her first thought. “I wonder if Hulda has left the
Archers.” As a frequent guest at Miss Archer’s, Marjorie had always
delighted in Hulda, the good-natured Swedish maid. Impulsively she asked
with a winning smile, “Isn’t Hulda here any more?”

“Hulda!” The young woman stared curiously at Marjorie, then replied
quickly. “She will be here next week. I am trying to take her place
until she comes.” A faint flickering smile touched the corners of her
red lips as she said this.

“Kindly tell Miss Archer that Miss La Salle and Miss Dean are here”
broke in Mignon haughtily. She had already decided that, for a servant,
this girl appeared to feel herself above her position. It was partially
Marjorie’s fault. It was always a mistake to treat a servant as an
equal.

The maid favored Mignon with another strange, inscrutable glance. “Miss
La Salle and Miss Dean,” she repeated. “Please come into the drawing
room. I will tell Miss Archer that you are here.” Politely ushering them
into the long, cool drawing room, the maid obsequiously bowed them to
seats and vanished.

“What a pretty girl,” was Marjorie’s first remark when they were left to
themselves. “She had such lovely golden brown hair and big gray eyes.”

“I didn’t notice. All maids look alike to me,” shrugged Mignon. “I
thought she was altogether too presuming for a servant.”

“I thought she was sweet,” came Marjorie’s earnest reply. She had taken
an instantaneous liking to the new maid. “After all, we’re just human
beings, you know, and free and equal. Why, Delia is as much a part of
our home as I am.”

“It’s very unwise to give servants too much liberty,” disagreed Mignon
loftily. “Every one of ours has to keep his or her place. I see to that.
My father is quite apt to let them do as they please. It takes _me_ to
manage them.”

Marjorie felt a strong return of her ancient dislike for Mignon sweep
over her. Quickly she conquered it, adroitly turning the conversation
into a more pleasant channel. It was at least ten minutes before the
maid reappeared in the wide curtained doorway. Announcing that Miss
Archer would be with them directly, she nodded almost curtly and
disappeared.

“Good afternoon, Marjorie. I am very glad to see you again,” was the
principal’s cordial salutation as she entered the room. “How do you do,
Mignon?” Although she gave the French girl her hand, there was an almost
imperceptible reserve in her greeting. To her, Mignon’s call was as
unexpected as her sudden decision to pay it had been to Marjorie. “You
must excuse the unsettled appearance of things. We have not yet found
time to take the covers off most of the furniture. When we left for the
West, I sent Hulda off on a visit to her father and mother. She will not
return until next week. Fortunately, my sister and I have Veronica to
help us.”

“Veronica,” repeated Mignon. “That is a queer name for a maid, isn’t
it?”

“‘What’s in a name?’” quoted Miss Archer lightly. There was a faint
touch of amusement in her quiet tones that nettled Mignon. She concluded
that, as she never had liked Miss Archer, she now merely liked her a
trifle less.

“As you are so busy, Miss Archer, we must not detain you long. I really
ought to apologize for breaking in upon you before you are rested from
your long journey, but I had something quite important to ask you. So I
thought I had better not wait. This may seem like a very personal
question, but——Have you engaged a secretary for this year?” Marjorie
colored faintly at her own temerity.

“No.” An expression of annoyance leaped into Miss Archer’s fine eyes.
“Miss Lansing, as you know, was graduated last June. That leaves her
place vacant. I cannot tell you how much I have missed Marcia Arnold.
She made an ideal secretary. As I have always selected my secretary from
among those of the Sanford High School girls who are anxious to do extra
work, I suppose I shall have to attend to it as soon as possible. Were
you thinking of applying for the position, Marjorie?” she questioned
humorously.

Marjorie laughed. “Oh, no; I am not clever enough. But I know a girl who
is. She would like the position, too. I am speaking of Lucy Warner. She
really needs the work, Miss Archer, and I am sure she could do it and
keep up in her classes. She is _so_ bright.”

“Lucy Warner. Ah, yes, I had not thought of her. She is a remarkably
bright girl. I imagine she would suit me admirably. She seems extremely
capable.” Miss Archer appeared signally pleased with the prospect of
Lucy as her secretary. “What do you wish me to do, Marjorie? Shall I
write her?”

“I shall be ever so glad if you will, Miss Archer.” Marjorie spoke as
gratefully as though it were she who was the most interested party to
the affair. “I am sure she will accept. Thank you for listening to my
suggestion.”

After a little further exchange of conversation, Marjorie rose to make
graceful farewell. Mignon followed suit, a trace of contempt lurking in
her black eyes. She had confidently expected that their call would take
on a purely social tone. As it was, Marjorie had held the floor, giving
her no opportunity to make a favorable impression on Miss Archer. And
all for that frumpy, green-eyed Lucy Warner! It was just like Marjorie
Dean to interest herself in such dowdy persons.

“And is that what your wonderful business appointment was about?” she
asked pettishly as the two girls strolled down the pebbled walk bordered
on each side with clumps of sweet alyssum. “I can’t see why you should
trouble yourself about a girl like Lucy Warner. She used to hate you.
She told me so. I suppose the reason she turned around all of a sudden
and began to be nice to you was because she thought you would use your
influence with Miss Archer to get her that position. She knows you are
Miss Archer’s pet.”

“I am not Miss Archer’s pet.” Marjorie’s voice quivered with vexation.
“She likes ever so many other girls in Sanford High as well as she likes
me.” Striving hard to regain her composure, she added, “Lucy hasn’t the
least idea that I tried to get her the secretaryship. I know that at one
time she didn’t like me. It was a misunderstanding. But it was cleared
up long ago.”

“What was it about?” queried Mignon, always eager for a bit of gossip to
retail at her pleasure. “You must tell me.”

“It lies between Lucy and me. I have never told anyone about it. I
intend never to tell anyone.”

“Oh, I don’t care to know.” Mignon tossed her head. “I’m sorry now that
I bothered myself to call on Miss Archer. I really shouldn’t have taken
the time. I’ll have to drive fast to make up for it.”

“Don’t let me trouble you,” assured Marjorie evenly. “I won’t be going
back the way we came. I intend to walk on to Gray Gables.” By this time
they had passed through the gateway to the runabout.

“As you please,” returned Mignon indifferently. “Come over and see me
before school opens, if you have time. Better telephone beforehand,
though, else I may not be at home when you call.”

“Thank you.” Not forgetting courtesy, Marjorie added, “The same applies
to you in regard to me.”

“Thank you. Good-bye,” returned Mignon coolly.

“Good-bye.” Marjorie turned from the French girl to begin her walk to
Gray Gables. “It’s no use,” she told herself soberly. “We are both
pretending to be friendly when really we can never be friends. I ought
to feel awfully cross with Mignon. Somehow I feel sorry for her, just as
I’ve always felt toward her. But for her father’s sake, he’s such a
splendid man, I’m going to keep on trying. Poor Mignon. It seems as
though she must have started wrong when she was a baby and can never get
set right. She may, perhaps, some day, but I’m afraid that some day is a
long way off.”



CHAPTER II—A HUMBLE SENIOR


“Did you see that latest addition to the senior class?” Mignon La
Salle’s voice rose in profound disgust as she hurled the question at
Jerry Macy, who had entered the senior locker room directly behind her.

“Of course I saw her. I have eyes,” reminded Jerry gruffly. “Pretty
girl, isn’t she?” This last comment was a naughty inspiration on Jerry’s
part. The French girl’s contemptuous tone informed her that the newest
senior had already become a mark for ridicule in Mignon’s eyes. She,
therefore, took a contrary stand.

“_Pretty!_” Mignon’s tones rose still higher. “That staring-eyed,
white-faced creature! _Your_ eyes can’t be very keen. She’s a servant,
too; a _servant_.”

“You can’t expect me to see that,” retorted Jerry. “All the more credit
to her if she is. A girl who has to work for her living, but is smart
enough to walk into a strange school and into the senior class is good
enough for anybody to know. You’re a snob, Mignon, and you ought to be
ashamed to say such things.” Coolly turning her back on the scowling
girl, Jerry busied herself with her locker. Privately she wondered how
Mignon happened to know so much about the newcomer.

Mignon watched her resentfully, longing to say something particularly
cutting, but not daring to do so. When it came to an argument, Jerry
Macy was capable of more than holding her own. As the seniors were now
beginning to arrive in numbers, she had no wish to be publicly worsted.
She could not resist saying satirically, however, as Marjorie Dean
passed her: “Did you see that servant girl of Miss Archer’s in our
section this morning?”

“Servant girl?” chorused two or three bystanders, crowding closer to
their informant. “What do you mean? Whom do you mean?”

Marjorie’s sweet face clouded at the intentional cruelty of Mignon’s
speech. How could she exhibit such heartlessness toward one whom she
hardly knew? “Are you referring to Veronica Browning?” she asked in a
clear, decided voice. “I am ever so glad she is going to be in our
class. I think she’s a dear.”

“Veronica Browning,” repeated Mignon, laughing. “I wonder how she came
by such a high-sounding name. Most servants are satisfied with a common,
ordinary one, like Jane or Maggie. It seems to me——”

A little flutter of dismay, which suddenly swept the group of seniors,
checked Mignon’s caustic remarks. A gray-eyed girl had walked into the
locker room just in time to get the full effect of them. Under heavy
masses of golden brown hair her pale face looked out with a sweetly
appealing air which made her extremely attractive. In her serviceable
gown of plain brown linen, made in simple fashion, she was in wren-like
contrast to the more gaily-dressed girls who stood about the locker
room.

“How are you, Miss Browning?” greeted Marjorie genially. “I am glad you
are going to be a senior. You gave me quite a surprise. Girls, this is
Veronica Browning.” Marjorie named in turn those of her schoolmates who
stood nearest to herself and Veronica. Among them were Jerry, Constance
Stevens and Harriet Delaney. The trio greeted her in a far more friendly
fashion than was shown by the others.

The newcomer bowed to them pleasantly, her calm face betraying no sign
of the unkind speeches she must undoubtedly have overheard. Not
troubling herself to greet Veronica, Mignon seized her hat, slammed the
door of her locker shut and switched out, followed by several girls who
were impatient to learn more of the stranger’s history.

“Won’t you walk down the street with us, Miss Browning?” asked Jerry.
“The rest of our crowd will be here in a minute. Here they come now,”
she added as Muriel Harding, Irma Linton and Susan Atwell appeared to
the accompaniment of the latter’s jolly giggle.

“Thank you. I should like to walk with you,” smiled the girl in gentle,
well-bred fashion. “I hardly expected to meet any of my classmates so
soon. I am lucky, I think.”

“It’s our duty as good seniors to make you feel at home,” asserted
Marjorie, proceeding to present the last three arrivals. “Now that you
know a few of us, suppose we move on. If Miss Merton happens to come
this way she will hear us talking and feel it her duty to scatter us.”

Those who have read “Marjorie Dean, High School Freshman,” “Marjorie
Dean, High School Sophomore,” and “Marjorie Dean, High School Junior,”
need no special introduction to her and her friends. They already know
the many events, happy and unhappy, that transpired during Marjorie’s
three years at Sanford High School. Transplanted from her home in B—— at
the very beginning of her freshman year, to the thriving little city of
Sanford, Marjorie took up her school life there with a determination to
find and hold fast to all that was finest and highest in it. Despite
many trials and misunderstandings which fell to her lot, her resolve to
be true to herself never faltered, and each year at high school brought
fresh pledges of loyalty from those who had learned to know and love
her.

Now, in the first week of her senior year, she was again exerting her
kindly influence in behalf of the stranger within her gates.

As the bevy of girls moved through the corridor to the main entrance of
the school, she slipped her arm through that of the new girl and said
cheerily, “I am sure you will like Sanford High, Miss Browning. I felt
quite lost when first I came here. Now I’d be more lost if I had to
leave it. Where did you live before you came here?”

“In California,” answered Veronica. “I was born there. You know, I
suppose, that I came East with—with—Miss—Archer.” She hesitated slightly
on the last words. “I should like to tell you something,” she continued
frankly. “I heard what that black-eyed girl was saying about me as I
came into the locker room. Of course I wish to be friends with you and
these nice girls you go with—but—well, perhaps you ought not to pay too
much attention to—one—in my position.”

Marjorie gave Veronica’s arm a gentle little squeeze. “Now I am sure you
don’t know us very well. We choose our friends for what they are, not
because of social position or any such foolishness. You really mustn’t
mind Mignon. She has been—well—brought up rather differently from the
rest of us. We——” Marjorie stopped in confusion. “There are some things
I can’t explain,” she went on slowly. “It seems rather queer in me to
ask you to like Mignon, but if you will try to think of her as kindly as
you can, it will help her a great deal. I’m afraid that’s not very
clear,” she concluded in embarrassment.

“I think I understand,” nodded Veronica. A shade of the peculiar smile
that Marjorie had noted on first sight of her at Miss Archer’s flickered
briefly about her mobile lips. “After all, I am here for study. Under
the circumstances I can’t really expect to take much part in the social
side of high school. I have had so many——” She suddenly ceased speaking,
with a little catch of breath.

“Oh, you must come to my home to see me and come to my parties, too,”
put in Marjorie quickly. “I wish you to meet my mother and father. I
call them General and Captain. I am a Lieutenant. So is Connie Stevens.
We all belong to a little army of our own. It’s a game a friend of mine
and I used to play when we were little girls and we’ve never outgrown
it.”

“How pretty!” The fair, sensitive face of the other girl broke into
radiant, smiling beauty.

Marjorie thought her more fascinating than ever when she smiled. “I must
tell you a secret,” she confided impulsively. “I liked you the minute I
saw you at Miss Archer’s. I am sure we shall be good friends.”

“Here is my hand to seal the bargain,” laughed Veronica. “You have come
to mean a great deal to me already. I never thought that——”

“It’s not fair in you, Marjorie Dean, to monopolize our brand-new
senior,” called Jerry Macy. They had now left the school building and
were swinging down the street in pairs, Marjorie and Veronica bringing
up the rear.

“Come on.” Seizing her companion by the arm, Marjorie propelled her
forward until they bumped gently into Jerry and Irma, who were just
ahead of them. “Here we are,” she announced mischievously.

“Such boisterous conduct.” Jerry drew down her plump face in imitation
of Miss Merton. “I’m not complaining on my own account, but I have to
protect Irma from your onslaughts.”

“That’s the same as saying I need a guardian, Jeremiah,” teased Irma.
“You know it’s really the other way around.”

“They are such jolly girls,” commented Veronica. “When I was——” She
stopped. Abruptly changing the subject she began to remark on the beauty
of the huge maples that stood sentinel-like on both sides of the street.

Marjorie agreed rather absently that they were indeed magnificent trees.
Inwardly she wondered if Veronica had the habit of so abruptly chopping
off her speeches. For all her apparent frankness there was a curious
baffling side to her that Marjorie was at a loss to understand. It
reminded her of the puzzling way in which Constance Stevens had behaved
when first they met. She reflected that perhaps this girl felt the
weight of poverty even as Constance had once felt its pressure. On the
other hand, Veronica appeared outwardly to accept it with the utmost
serenity.

Perhaps the other girl may have glimpsed something of what was going on
behind Marjorie’s tranquil face. Casting a sidelong glance at her pretty
companion, her strange smile lived again, to die in a fleeting instant.
“I must leave you here,” she said, as they reached a cross street that
led to the avenue on which the Archer homestead was situated. “Better
think over what I told you. Remember I am Miss Archer’s ‘servant girl.’”
She laughed musically as though she rather enjoyed thus reminding
Marjorie of her humble status.

“You are my friend,” responded Marjorie gravely. “Please remember that.
Good-bye. We’ll see each other again this afternoon.”

Nodding a smiling farewell to Marjorie and the others, Veronica Browning
left them and hurried on toward home.

“Do you suppose she has to help with the luncheon?” asked Jerry, her
round eyes fastened on Veronica’s rapidly retreating back.

“She’d hardly have time to do much work at noon,” declared Irma. “I
don’t imagine she would be asked to do that. It’s splendid in Miss
Archer to take a young girl like that to work for her and allow her to
go to school.”

“Just who is she, Marjorie?” quizzed Jerry. “How did you and Mignon
happen to get acquainted with her before school opened? Where did Mignon
get all her information? She ought to be ashamed of herself for saying
what she said before the girls. It’s lucky that we were there to help
out.”

Quite willing to satisfy Jerry’s curiosity regarding the whys and
wherefores of the new senior, Marjorie related the incidents pertaining
to her call on the principal, ending with “The very first moment I saw
her, I liked her. Of course I feel very kindly toward the different
maids in you girls’ homes. But I feel differently toward Veronica. I
suppose it is because she’s so sweet and pretty and about the same age
as the rest of us. I’m glad she’s going to be a pupil at Sanford High. I
know I needn’t ask you girls to be nice to her. I can see that all of
you like her already.”

A chorus of hearty affirmatives went up from the six girls who had
halted in the middle of the sidewalk to gather about Marjorie.

“She’s a _nice_ girl.” Jerry placed the stamp of her emphatic approval
upon the senior who had just left them. “But she is going to have
troubles of her own with Mignon. You mustn’t forget that a number of
girls besides ourselves were in the locker room and heard Mignon
sneering about Veronica. I’m going to begin calling her Veronica. You
know what that means. If I come to like her a good deal, I’ve already
thought of a nice little pet name for her.”

Jerry’s cheerful grin went the rounds of her friends’ faces. It was a
well-known fact among them that the stout girl never addressed a
schoolmate as “Miss” unless she entertained a lively dislike for her.

“Everyone of us will stand by Veronica. That means she will have seven
staunch supporters at least,” broke in Constance Stevens, her blue eyes
purposeful. “That is really all we need care about. Besides, I don’t
believe many of the seniors will snub her. If they do, they’ll be very
sly about it. The fact that she lives at Miss Archer’s will make a good
impression on most of the girls. If a few girls in Sanford High are
hateful to her because she is working her way through school, I don’t
imagine she will care very much.”

“I think you are right, Connie,” nodded Marjorie. “Veronica told me that
she didn’t expect to see much of the social side of high school life. I
suppose she feels that she ought to make the most of the chance to study
and go to school.”

“How did she happen to come here, I wonder?” mused Jerry. “You said,
Marjorie, that she said she’d lived in the state of California. I
suppose she must have stayed with Miss Archer’s relatives and worked her
way through the first three years of high school while she lived with
them.”

“I suppose so,” agreed Marjorie. As she answered Jerry it suddenly
flashed across her that during their talk Veronica had, after all,
revealed very little about herself. Her attitude had been toward
concealment rather than revelation.

“She’ll probably tell us more about herself when we get better
acquainted with her,” suggested gentle Irma.

“If she doesn’t, then Jerry will have to take the trail and find out,”
teased Muriel Harding.

“I can——” Jerry stopped speaking as her glance met Marjorie’s. In the
latter’s brown eyes lurked a mute protest against Muriel’s proposal. No
one read it there except shrewd Jerry. The abrupt halt in her speech
signified her respect for it.

“You can do what?” asked Harriet Delaney, laughing.

“I can mind my own business,” evaded Jerry with a broad smile at Muriel
which robbed her brusque comment of any implied rebuke. “Let Veronica
Browning give out her own information. If I’m going to trail anyone, I
choose to shadow Mignon and see that she doesn’t make things hard for
this new girl.”

“Let us all solemnly agree to stand by her,” proposed Marjorie
impulsively. “By that I don’t mean that we are to forget our promise to
Mignon’s father. We must try somehow to help them both.”

After her chums had left her at her own gate, she wondered rather
soberly as she went slowly up the walk to the house, how the difficult
measure she had so strongly advocated could be carried out.



CHAPTER III—MISSING: A LETTER


When Marjorie returned to school that afternoon, her eyes widened in
startled surprise as they became riveted on a square white envelope on
her desk addressed to herself. For an instant her heart sank. Then she
laughed softly, under her breath, as she recalled that although the
script was unmistakably that of the Observer, she now had no need to
dread it. The Observer had been laid to rest on a certain snowy
afternoon of last winter. This note was from Lucy Warner, her friend.

Opening it, a quick light of pleasure dawned in her face as she read:

  “Dear Marjorie:

  “How can I ever thank you enough for what you have done for me? Miss
  Archer sent for me to come to her office this morning and, of course,
  you know why. I was so surprised and delighted. To be her secretary is
  a great honor, I think. Then, too, the salary, which is ten dollars a
  week, will help mother and me so much. I have almost enough credits
  now to graduate, for I have always carried six studies and taken the
  special reading courses, too. Now I am going to take only two studies
  each term. That will give me almost all my time free for secretarial
  work. I am going to rent a typewriting machine and study stenography
  by myself, so I shall soon be ready to do Miss Archer’s work in
  creditable fashion.

  “Although I’ve never said a word to anyone about it, I have always
  wished for the position I now have. One reason, of course, is the
  salary; the other the experience. When school closes I can take an
  office position in Sanford, and by working hard save a little money
  toward some day going to college. It will take a long time, but I am
  determined to do it. If I can earn enough money to pay my tuition
  fees, then perhaps I can obtain secretarial work in whatever college I
  decide to go to. I only wish I had a chance to try for a scholarship.
  Doesn’t it seem strange that Sanford High School doesn’t offer at
  least one? Perhaps if it did, I could not win it, so there is no use
  in sighing over it.

  “I hope you won’t be bored over this long letter. I know it has
  nothing in it but my own affairs, but, somehow, since that winter day
  when you forgave me for having been the hateful Observer I feel very
  near to you, and I wish you to know my ambitions for the future. You
  are so splendid and honorable that I know I can freely trust you with
  my confidence. Mother and I would be very pleased to have you come
  home from school with me some evening soon and take supper with us.

                                             “Gratefully, your friend,
                                                        “Lucy Warner.”

Marjorie experienced a delightful glow of satisfaction as she finished
the letter. How glad she was that Lucy and she now understood each other
so fully, and what a clever girl Lucy was. Marjorie was lost in
admiration of the quiet little senior’s brilliancy as a student. She
wished she could help make Lucy’s dream of going to college come true as
soon as her high school days were over. She knew that Lucy was too proud
and sensitive to accept from anyone the money to continue her education.
Yet Marjorie determined then that if ever she could become the means of
helping to realize the other girl’s ambition, she would be happy.

A tender little smile lingered on her lips as she returned the letter to
its envelope and tucked it inside her blouse. Very reluctantly she
reached for her Cicero and was soon lost in preparing for her next
hour’s recitation. Marjorie had not been able to arrange her senior
program so as to have the coveted last hour in the afternoon for study.
In the morning Advanced English and French Prose and Poetry took up the
first two periods, leaving her the last one free. After luncheon the
first afternoon period was now devoted to study. During the next she
recited in Cicero and the third and last period was given over to a
recitation in Greek and Roman History. As she had already gained the
required amount of credits in mathematics, she was satisfied to forego
trigonometry. She was not fond of mathematics and had decided not to
burden her senior year with the further study of them. Once in college
she knew she would have her fill of trigonometry.

“I’ve something to report, Captain,” was her gay sally as, school over
for the day, she tripped into the living room. “I’ve the dearest letter
from Lucy Warner. I’m going to sit right down and read it to you. I
found it waiting for me on my desk when I went back to school this
afternoon. For just a minute it made me feel queerly. You can understand
why. But it was very different from—well, you know.” Marjorie unpinned
her pretty white hemp hat and hastily depositing it on the library
table, plumped down on the floor at her mother’s knee. Dignified senior
though she had now become, she had not outgrown her love for that lowly
but most confidential resting place.

“That is pleasant news.” Mrs. Dean glanced affectionately down at her
daughter, who was busily engaged in exploring the folds of her silk
blouse for the letter.

“Why!” A frightened look overspread Marjorie’s lately radiant face.
“Why, it’s _gone_! Oh, Captain, I’ve lost it!”

“Perhaps it has slipped to the back of your blouse, dear.” Mrs. Dean
became the acme of maternal solicitude. “Unfasten your blouse and look
carefully.”

Ready to cry, Marjorie sprang to her feet and obeyed the instruction,
but the missing letter was not forthcoming. “How could I have lost it,”
she mourned despairingly. “I always tuck my letters inside my blouse.
But I’ve never lost one before to-day.”

“I don’t like to pile up misery, Lieutenant, but that seems to me a
rather careless practice,” commented her mother. “I am truly sorry for
you. Perhaps you left it in school instead of putting it inside your
blouse.”

Marjorie shook a dejected head. “No; I didn’t. I wish now that I had. I
know I put it inside my blouse. I was anxious to bring it home and show
it to you. I would feel worried about losing any letter that had been
written me, but this is a great deal worse. It was a very confidential
letter. In it Lucy spoke of—of—last winter and of her plans for the
future. Suppose someone were to find it who didn’t like her very well?
The person who found it might gossip about it. That would be dreadful.
Of course, anyone who finds it can see by the address that it is my
letter. I think most of the girls would be honorable enough to give it
back. A few of them perhaps wouldn’t. None of the four juniors who were
on the sophomore basket-ball team last year like me very well. And
there’s Mignon, too. I wouldn’t say so to anyone but you, Captain, but
I’m not quite sure what she might do.”

“No, my dear, I am afraid you can never trust Mignon La Salle very far.”
Mrs. Dean grew grave. “I made up my mind to that the day your girl
friends were here at that little party you gave while you were sick. If
ever a girl’s eyes spelled treachery, Mignon’s showed it that afternoon.
Several times I have intended mentioning it to you. You know, however,
that I do not like to interfere in your school affairs. Then, too, since
her father so depends on your help and that of your girl chums, it seems
hardly right in me to wish that you might be entirely free from her
companionship. Yet, at heart, I am not particularly in favor of your
association with her. Sooner or later you will find yourself in the
thick of some disagreeable affair for which she is responsible.”

“I am always a little bit afraid of that, too,” was Marjorie’s
dispirited answer. “I try not to think so, though. But it’s like trying
to walk across a slippery log without falling off. Mignon is
so—so—different from the rest of us. You know I told you of the things
she said about that nice girl who works for Miss Archer and her sister.
Well, the girl came to school to-day. Her name is Veronica Browning and
she’s a senior.”

Marjorie went on to tell her captain of the locker-room incident, and
the walk home from luncheon, ending with: “She is awfully dear and
sweet. We are friends already. I may invite her to come and see us,
mayn’t I, Captain?”

“By all means,” came the prompt response. “I am very glad, Lieutenant,
that you have no false pride. It is contemptible. You may invite your
new friend here as soon as you like. No doubt when I see Miss Archer she
will tell me more of her protégé of her own accord. Judging from what
you say of her, she seems to be a rather mysterious young person.”

“She acts a little as Connie used to act before I knew her well,”
declared Marjorie. “She has the same fashion of starting to say
something and then stopping short. I think it is only because she is
quite poor. But she doesn’t seem to mind it as Connie did. She just
smiles about it.”

“A young philosopher,” commented Mrs. Dean, her eyes twinkling. “I shall
look forward to knowing her.”

“Oh, you will surely like Veronica,” Marjorie confidently predicted. The
next instant her face fell. “Oh, dear,” she sighed, as fresh
recollection of her loss smote her, “what shall I do about that letter?
I’ll simply have to tell Lucy that I lost it. She’s so peculiar, too. I
am afraid she won’t like it.”

“Don’t put off telling her,” counseled Mrs. Dean. “It is right that you
should. Perhaps when you go to school to-morrow morning, you may find
that some one of your friends has picked it up. I sincerely hope so, for
your sake, Lieutenant.”

“Thank you, Captain.” Marjorie brightened a trifle. “I am going to hope
as hard as ever I can that I’ll have it back by to-morrow.”

Marjorie’s earnest wish that the lost letter might be returned to her
the next morning met with unfulfillment. Anxious inquiry among her close
friends revealed no clue to the whereabouts of the missing letter. Nor,
during the long day which anxiety made longer, did any of her
schoolmates seek her with the joyful news, “Here is a letter I found,
Marjorie, which is addressed to you.”

At the close of the afternoon session, which had lagged interminably,
Marjorie turned slow steps toward Miss Archer’s big living-room office
where Lucy Warner now claimed the secretary’s desk.

“Why, Marjorie, I was just thinking of you!” Lucy’s bluish-green eyes
lighted with pleasure as Marjorie approached her desk. “I was hoping
you’d run up soon to see me. I am so glad my hope came true.” Her hand
went out to Marjorie in cordial greeting.

“I am ever so glad to have a chance to talk to you,” returned Marjorie
earnestly as she took Lucy’s hand. “I received your letter. It was
splendid. I loved every line of it. I—but I am afraid you won’t feel so
glad that I came when I tell you what I’ve done.” A quick flush dyed
Marjorie’s cheeks.

“I guess it is nothing very dreadful.” Lucy smiled her utmost faith in
her pretty visitor.

“Lucy, I—well—I hate to tell you, but I’ve _lost_ that letter you wrote
me.” Marjorie looked the picture of anxiety as she made the disagreeable
confession.

“You’ve _lost_ it!” gasped Lucy, her heavy dark brows meeting in the old
ominous frown.

“Yes. I tucked it inside my blouse,” went on Marjorie bravely, “and when
I reached home it was gone.”

Lucy’s green eyes fastened themselves on Marjorie in an angry stare. For
a moment her great liking for the gentle girl was swallowed up in wrath
at her carelessness. Intensely methodical, Lucy found such carelessness
hard to excuse. Remembering tardily how much she owed Marjorie, she made
a valiant effort to suppress her anger. “It’s too bad,” she muttered.
“I—you see—I gave you my confidence. I wouldn’t care to have anyone else
know all that I wrote you.”

“Don’t I know that?” Marjorie asked almost piteously. “I can’t begin to
tell you how dreadfully I feel about it. I know you think it careless in
me to have tucked it inside my blouse. It _was_ careless. I’ve waited
all day, thinking someone who might have found it would return it. My
name on the envelope ought to insure a prompt return if I dropped it in
or near the school building. But if I lost it in the street and a
stranger found it, then I’m afraid I wouldn’t stand much chance of
getting it again.” Marjorie made a little gesture of hopelessness. “You
must know how humiliated I feel over it. But that won’t bring the letter
back,” she concluded with deep dejection.

During this long apology Lucy’s probing eyes had been riveted
unblinkingly on Marjorie, as though in an effort to plumb the precise
degree of the latter’s regret for the accident. “Don’t worry about it
any more,” she said rather brusquely. “It may not amount to anything
after all. If you dropped it in the street, the wind may have blown it
away; then no one would ever see it. If you dropped it in the school
building, it may be returned to you, or perhaps to me. My full name was
signed at the end of it. It has taught me a lesson, though.”

Within herself Lucy knew that this last speech bordered on the unkind.
Yet she could not resist making it. Although she was earnestly
endeavoring to live up to the new line of conduct which she had laid
down for herself on the day when she had confessed her fault to
Marjorie, much of her former antagonistic attitude toward life still
remained. Having, for years, cultivated a spirit of envy and bitterness,
she was still more ready to blame than condone. A kind of fierce,
new-born gratitude and loyalty toward Marjorie transcended momentarily
her personal displeasure. It was not quite powerful enough, however, to
check that one caustic remark. She had not yet learned the true secret
of gratitude.

“I can’t blame you for feeling that I am not a safe confidant,” Marjorie
made honest reply. “Still it hurts me to hear it. I must go now, Lucy.
The girls are waiting for me outside. We are all going down to Sargent’s
for ice cream. I’d love to have you come, too, if you are through with
your work and would care to join us.”

“Thank you, but I shall be busy here for the next half hour,” Lucy
returned, a tinge of stiffness in the reply. She wondered how Marjorie
could thus so easily dismiss the annoying matter of the lost letter.
Perhaps, after all, she was not half so sorry as she pretended to be.

“Please don’t think that I am trying to make light of my misdeed,”
Marjorie said eagerly. Lucy’s curt refusal of the invitation bore a hint
of offended pride. “I shall have that letter on my mind all the time
until we learn what has become of it, or are sure that it hasn’t fallen
into unfriendly hands.”

At the words “unfriendly hands” Lucy’s heavy brows again met. She
mentally saw herself held up as an object for ridicule by some unknown
person whom the letter might apprise of her secret ambitions. “That’s
just the trouble,” she flashed forth sharply. “Hardly any of the girls
at Sanford High understand me in the least. I am sure some of them would
be only too glad for an opportunity to make fun of me. It wouldn’t be
very pleasant for me if some morning I should walk into school and find
that about half the girls here knew all about my personal business. You
know, as well as I, how fast news travels among a lot of girls.”

“I understand—all—that—perfectly.” There was a faint catch in Marjorie’s
clear utterance. “I can only say again that I am very, very sorry for my
carelessness.”

“That won’t bring back my letter,” was the testy retort. “But never
mind. Let’s not say anything more about it.” With a little shrug her
green eyes sought the pile of papers on her desk.

Marjorie immediately took it as a sign that Lucy did not wish to talk
further to her. Not angry, but distinctly hurt, she did not try to
prolong the conversation but merely said: “Good-bye, Lucy. If I hear
anything about the letter I will let you know at once.” Then she quietly
left the office, trying not to blame Lucy for being so austere regarding
the lost letter. Yet Marjorie was too human not to feel that having once
freely forgiven Lucy of a far greater fault, she had expected to receive
a certain amount of clemency in return, which the peculiar,
self-contained senior had not offered.



CHAPTER IV—LAYING A CORNERSTONE


“Well, how about it?” challenged the irrepressible Jerry Macy. Marjorie
joined the stout girl and Constance, who stood waiting for her across
the street from the high school. Both friends knew why Marjorie had
lingered in the school building when the afternoon session was over.
They were among the first to whom she confided the news of yesterday’s
loss. She had announced to them her intention of apprising Lucy Warner
of the unpleasant fact, and Jerry in particular was curious to know what
effect the disclosure would have upon Lucy.

“I’m glad _that’s_ over.” Marjorie gave a little sigh. “It was pretty
hard for me to tell Lucy. It served me right for being so careless,
though.”

“What did she say? Was she mad?” Curiosity looked forth from Jerry’s
round face.

“No; that is, not exactly. Still, she wasn’t very well pleased,”
admitted Marjorie. “I hope someone finds the letter yet and brings it to
me. But where are the rest of the girls?” She decided that a change of
subject was in order. Lucy’s too-evident umbrage had hurt her
considerably. She therefore preferred to try to forget it for a time at
least.

“They’ve gone on ahead,” informed Constance. “Muriel had an errand to do
in town and so had Susan. Irma and Harriet went with them. They are to
meet us at Sargent’s at four-thirty.”

“Then we had better be starting for there.” Marjorie consulted her wrist
watch. “It’s ten after four now. Let’s hurry along. Did either of you
have a chance to talk with Veronica after school?” she continued as they
set off for Sargent’s three abreast.

“I saw her for a moment in the locker room,” replied Constance. “She
seemed to be in quite a hurry. She smiled at me but didn’t say anything.
Then she put on her hat and left the locker room without stopping to
talk to any of us.”

“I suppose she has to go straight home from school and help Miss
Archer’s sister,” surmised Jerry. “I’d hate to have to study all day and
then go home and shell peas or scrub floors or answer the doorbell or do
whatever had to be done. I guess we ought to be thankful that we don’t
have to earn our board and keep.”

“I ought to be doubly thankful,” agreed Constance seriously. “Not so
very far back in my life I had no time to play, either. Every once in a
while when I feel specially self-satisfied, I take a walk past the
little gray house where I used to live before my aunt played fairy
god-mother to all of us. It makes me remember that my good fortune was
just a lucky accident and takes all the conceit out of me.”

“Now that we are seniors I believe we ought to make it our business to
do all we can for the girls in school who aren’t able to have the good
times we do,” stated Marjorie soberly. “It seems to me that we might
band ourselves together into some sort of welfare club. If we do well
with it we can pass it on to the next senior class when we have been
graduated from Sanford High.”

“Hurrah!” Jerry waved a plump hand on high. “That’s the talk. Every
since last year I’ve had that club idea on my mind. Let’s hurry up and
organize it at once. For that matter we can do it this afternoon; the
minute we meet the girls at Sargent’s. There will be seven of us to
start with. Then we can decide on how many more girls we’d like to have
in it.”

“Oh, splendid!” exclaimed Marjorie, the sober expression vanishing from
her pretty face. “Once we organize a club and get it well started, who
knows what distinguished members we may become.”

As the three girls swung blithely along toward Sargent’s the incessant
flow of conversation that went on among them betokened their signal
interest and enthusiasm in the new project.

“Here we are,” proclaimed Jerry noisily to the quartette of girls seated
at a rear table in the smart little shop. “Strictly on time, too, or
rather five minutes ahead of it. How long have you been here?”

“Oh, we just came.” It was Muriel Harding who answered. “Maybe we didn’t
hustle our errands through, though. Sit down and we’ll order our ice
cream. Then we can talk.”

  “The time has come, the walrus said,
  To talk of many things,”

quoted Jerry mysteriously as she seated herself.

“Well, Walrus, what’s on your mind?” giggled Susan Atwell, promptly
applying Jerry’s quotation to the stout girl herself.

“I’m no walrus. I don’t consider that I resemble one in the least,”
retorted Jerry good-humoredly. “I’m sorry you don’t recognize a
quotation when you hear one. But I forgive you, giggling Susan.”

The approach of a white-clad youth to take their order interrupted
Jerry’s discourse. The instant the order had been given she continued:
“Girls, as I just said, the time has come.”

“For what?” demanded Harriet, smiling.

“Marjorie will answer that. She’s the real promoter of the enterprise. I
am merely the press agent. Go ahead, little Faithful.”

Marjorie’s cheeks grew rosy at the broadly-implied compliment. “You’re a
goose, Jerry,” she affectionately chided. “You tell the girls about it.”

“I’d rather be a goose than a walrus,” grinned Jerry. “As for telling;
let Marjorie do it. No; I mean, I’d rather you’d spring it on them. Oh,
what’s the use? Slang and I are one.” Jerry sighed an exaggerated sorrow
over her vain effort at eliminating inelegant English from her
vocabulary.

“It must be something very important,” put in Susan, with a derisive
chuckle, “or Jeremiah would _never_ resort to slang.”

Jerry’s grin merely widened. “Go ahead and tell them, Marjorie. Hurry
up.”

“It’s just this way, children.” Marjorie leaned forward a trifle, her
brown eyes roving over the little group of eager-faced listeners. “For a
long time Jerry and I have had the idea of forming a club. We talked of
it last year, after Christmas, and again after we gave the operetta. But
you know what a hard year we had over basketball, and then so many of us
became sick that somehow the club idea was put away and forgotten. But
now, as Jerry says, ‘the time has come.’ What we’d like to do is to form
a club from a certain number of girls in the senior class. It mustn’t be
just a social affair but one devoted to the purpose of looking out for
anyone that needs our help. Of course when first we start we won’t be
able to do much. Later we may find it in our power to do a good deal.”

“And if the club’s a success,” interposed Jerry, “Marjorie thinks it
would be nice to pass it along, name and all, to the next senior class.
Then they could will it to the next and so on. It would be a sorority,
only I hope you won’t go and burden it with a Greek letter name. We
ought to give it a name that would mean a lot to anyone who happens to
hear of it.” Despite her insistence that Marjorie should put forward the
project, Jerry could not resist having her say, too.

“That’s a fine idea,” glowed Harriet Delaney. “How many girls ought we
to have in it?”

“I should think ten or twelve would be enough to start with,” returned
Marjorie meditatively. “If we decide later that we need more we can have
the pleasure of initiating them. Has anyone of you a pencil and paper?”

Muriel immediately brought forth a notebook from her leather school bag.
Susan Atwell promptly produced the required pencil.

“Write on the back page of it, Marjorie,” directed Muriel. “If you put
down our illustrious names anywhere else in the book, I am likely to mix
them with my zoology notes.”

“Imagine Muriel standing up in class and innocently reading: ‘To the
Crustacean family belong Jerry Macy, Marjorie Dean, Harriet Delaney,
etc.,’” giggled Susan Atwell. Whereupon a ripple of giggles swept the
zealous organizers.

“Let me see.” Turning obediently to the last leaf of the notebook
Marjorie glanced about the circle and began to write. “We are seven,”
she commented after a moment. “Now for the others. Esther Lind, Rita
Talbot and Daisy Griggs, of course. That makes ten. I’d like to ask Lucy
Warner. Have you any objections?” Marjorie had resolved to overlook
Lucy’s recent cavalier treatment of herself.

No one objected and Lucy’s name went down on the list.

“We ought to ask Veronica,” reminded thoughtful Constance.

“Of course.” Marjorie jotted down their new friend’s name. Suddenly she
raised her eyes, a faint frown touching her smooth forehead. “Girls,”
she said slowly, “it’s our duty to ask Mignon La Salle to join the
club.”

“I knew it!” exclaimed Jerry disgustedly. “I’ve been expecting to hear
you say that. Must we always have _her_ tied to our apron strings?”

“Oh, I wouldn’t ask her, Marjorie.” Muriel’s face registered plain
disapproval. “If you do, we won’t have a peaceful minute. Besides, she
would be the thirteenth member.”

“I’d hate to belong to a thirteen-member club,” declared Harriet
superstitiously. “We’d never have a minute’s luck.”

“We’ll never have even that much luck if we drag Mignon into our club,”
was Jerry’s gruff prediction.

Marjorie’s troubled gaze strayed from one to another of her schoolmates.
Constance and Irma alone looked tranquil. She read strong opposition in
the faces of the others.

“I am perfectly willing that Mignon shall become a member of the club.”
Constance ranged herself boldly on Marjorie’s side.

“So am I,” reinforced Irma. “We all gave Marjorie our promise to help
Mignon in any way that we could. I won’t go back on my part of it.”

“If you put it that way, neither ought the rest of us,” grumbled Muriel.
“Still, we have the welfare of the club to consider. Mignon is, and
always has been, a disturber. Just at present she is pretending to
behave herself because her father has taken her in hand. The hateful way
she has acted about Veronica shows very plainly that she hasn’t really
reformed. If Rowena Farnham hadn’t left Sanford High, she and Mignon
would be as chummy as ever by this time.”

“I said that same thing to Marjorie last year,” confessed Constance. “I
am perfectly willing to admit it. Even so, that has nothing to do with
our agreement to try to help Mignon. If Rowena were here, and she and
Mignon began to go around together again, it would be our duty to look
out for Mignon just the same, or else go frankly to Mr. La Salle and ask
him to release us from our promise.”

“I’d rather do that than have Mignon in our club,” asserted Jerry
stubbornly. “As long as you’ve mentioned Rowena I’ll tell you something
that I’ve been keeping to myself. You know that the La Salles always go
to Severn Beach for the summer, and so does our family. Last year the
Farnhams were there, too. But this year they were at Tanglewood. It’s
not more than ten miles from Severn Beach.

“Twice, while Hal and I were motoring through Tanglewood in his
roadster, we saw Mignon and Rowena together. Once, in their bathing
suits on the beach, and another time we saw them walking together in a
little grove about a mile above Tanglewood. They didn’t see us either
time. I know perfectly well that Mignon slipped away to visit Rowena
without permission. It proves that they can’t be kept apart. I
understand that Rowena went away to boarding school last week. That
means the two will correspond. Rowena will do her best to bother
Marjorie through Mignon. She will never forgive her for last year. All I
have to say is that in order to protect Marjorie from her spite we ought
to keep Mignon out of the club. We can try to help her in other ways.”

“That settles it!” exclaimed Muriel Harding. “I mean that I think
Jerry’s reason for not asking Mignon to join the club is a good one.
Every year of high school, so far, she has managed to make things hard
for Marjorie. Now it’s time to put a stop to her mischief-making.”

“I agree with Muriel,” announced Harriet.

“So do I,” chimed in Susan.

Marjorie smiled a trifle wistfully. “The majority rules,” she said
slowly. “It’s a case of four against three. I hardly know what to do. If
I say that I won’t join the club, after being the one to propose it, it
will appear that I am backing out just because I can’t have my own way.
If I say, ‘very well, let us organize the club and leave Mignon out,’
then I shall be breaking my word to Mr. La Salle.

“I have never yet broken a promise I made. I should hate now to feel
that I had failed to be true to myself. Please don’t think that I am
asking you girls to accept my views. You must do whatever you feel to be
best. For me it means one of two evils: refuse to join the club or break
my promise. To do either would make me feel dreadfully.”

As Marjorie finished blank silence reigned. It was Jerry Macy who broke
it. “You’ve set us a pretty stiff example to live up to, Marjorie,” she
said bluntly. “You haven’t left us a foot to stand on. We all gave you
our word to help Mignon. As long as you think that this is one of the
ways we can help her then it must be so. We want you in the club and we
want you to keep your promise to Mr. La Salle. But I’ve just one thing
to say. I’ve said it before and I say it again. If after she joins the
club she starts to make mischief for you or any of us, I’ll resign. If I
do, you needn’t try to coax me back for I shan’t come. Remember that.”

“Thank you, Jerry, for being so splendid.” Marjorie’s slender hand
reached out to Jerry in token of her gratitude. “I know that all of you
would like me to be in the club. That is why it was so hard for me to
say what I just said.”

“Here’s my hand, too.” Muriel flushed as she proffered it. “Susan and
Harriet, you are beaten. Salute the victor. I agree with Jerry, though,
about resigning from the club.”

“I’ll risk both of you,” declared Marjorie happily, as she shook hands
with the three girls. “Thank you ever so much. I didn’t say so before,
because I was afraid you might think that I was trying to influence you,
but don’t you see that Mignon needs us now more than ever? We must try
to win her away from Rowena’s hurtful influence over her. For her to
join the club may be the very best way to do it. If we can interest her
in whatever we may decide to do for others, she will, perhaps, care more
for us and less for Rowena.”

“I guess there’s something in that,” nodded Jerry. “But what are we
going to do about Mignon being the thirteenth member?”

“We had better add one more name to the list,” suggested Irma. “Why not
ask Florence Johnston? She is such a nice girl.”

Concerted assent greeted Irma’s suggestion, and Marjorie duly inscribed
Florence’s name below Mignon’s.

“We might as well make it fifteen,” asserted Jerry. “Gertrude Aldine is
a worthy senior. How about her?”

Jerry’s choice approved, Marjorie read down the list as she had compiled
it. “That much is settled,” she declared. “The next thing is to choose a
name. Suppose we think hard about it while we eat our ice cream. When
we’ve finished, then each one must tell the name she has thought of. Out
of seven names we ought to find one that will suit our club.”

In the interest of deciding upon the club members, for once Sargent’s
toothsome concoctions had stood neglected on the table. The girls now
proceeded to make up for lost time and an unusual stillness settled down
upon them as they ate their ice cream.

Quick-witted Jerry was the first to make the announcement, “I’ve thought
of one.”

Inspiration did not come so easily to the others, however.

“I can never think of anything like that on the spur of the moment,”
lamented Harriet. “The only thing that sticks in my brain is ‘The
Serious Sanford Seniors,’ which is awful.”

“Mine is even worse,” snickered Susan Atwell. “All I can think of is
‘The Happy Hustlers.’”

“Mine’s ‘The Ever Ready Club,’” smiled Irma. “But that’s not an
interesting name.”

“It wouldn’t be a bad name for us,” praised Marjorie. “I thought of
‘_Bon Aventure_’ but it really ought to be a good plain English name,
instead of a French one.”

“‘_Bon Aventure_’ sounds very pretty,” asserted Constance. “Mine is ‘The
Searchlight Club.’”

“That’s good!” came from two or three of the circle.

“My naming faculty isn’t working,” was Muriel’s rueful cry. “I can’t
think of a single thing. Go ahead and tell us yours, Jerry. I know you
are anxious to.”

“When first it came to me, it seemed pretty good, but I like the other
names just as well. What I thought of was the ‘Lookout Club.’ You see
that is what we are going to pledge ourselves to do. We must look out
for others who need our help.”

“I like that name,” was Marjorie’s opinion. “It’s short and plain, yet
it means so much. Every time we heard it or said it or even thought
about it, it would make us remember our object. Those in favor of the
‘Lookout Club’ raise your right hand.”

Seven right hands promptly went up. And although they could not then
know it, they laid the cornerstone that afternoon for a famous high
school sorority that was destined to flourish and endure long after
their Sanford High School days had become but a dear memory.



CHAPTER V—THE HARD ROAD OF DUTY


“But why won’t you join our club, Veronica?” Marjorie’s voice held a
pleading note. “We have been counting on you from the first. Of course I
know you haven’t as much time to yourself as the rest of us have. Still,
I am sure Miss Archer would let you come to some of our meetings, if not
all of them. We are going to meet once a week at the homes of the
different girls and in the evening after dinner.”

“I am sorry, Marjorie, but really I can’t. For your sake I’d love to,
but I am sure it would be best for me not to join your club.” Veronica’s
pretty, pale features took on a faint tinge of pink as she delivered her
quiet ultimatum.

“Is it because of Mignon La Salle?” It was Marjorie’s turn to color as
she asked this pertinent question. Since the first day of school when
Veronica had chanced to overhear Mignon’s unkind criticism of herself,
and Marjorie had rather lamely asked the former not to judge the French
girl too harshly, Mignon’s name had never again been mentioned between
them. From Jerry Macy, however, and various others, Marjorie had learned
that Mignon never lost an opportunity to pass sneering remarks about
“that servant girl.” Marjorie wondered now if at least a part of these
remarks had come to Veronica’s ears. If such were the case she could
hardly blame her new friend for refusing to belong to a club of which
Mignon was to be a member.

For a moment Veronica did not answer. Her brief, mysterious smile
flickered into evidence, then faded as she said frankly: “Yes, it is
because of Miss La Salle. Understand, I am not afraid of her sneers. She
is a very vain, foolish young person. It is because——” She broke off
abruptly to launch forth unexpectedly with: “You remember my first day
at school, when you and I walked home together?”

“Yes,” came Marjorie’s ready answer. Her eyes sought the other girl’s
face in mute question.

“You spoke to me then of Miss La Salle, and I said I understood. Since
then I’ve wondered a good deal whether or not I did understand you. When
you and she came to call on Miss Archer that afternoon, I may say
frankly that I liked you on sight and disliked her intensely. I
supposed, however, that there must be some good in her or you wouldn’t
be her friend. Then, too, when she sneered about me in the locker room
and afterward, you asked me to think as kindly of her as I could, I
still supposed that you must like her very much. Now comes the curious
part. I’ve been at Sanford High only a week, but in that time I’ve
managed to see and hear a great deal; enough, at any rate, to convince
me that Miss La Salle is not nor never has been your friend. What I
can’t understand is why a delightful girl like you should trouble your
head over the welfare of such an ingrate.”

Marjorie’s face registered patent surprise at gentle Veronica’s
energetic denunciation of Mignon. She realized that the flash in the
former’s gray eyes betokened an anger that had been wakened in
Veronica’s heart solely on her account.

“Why do you and your friends pay any attention to her?” continued
Veronica warmly. “My—Miss Archer has told me a number of things that
make me wonder at it. Of course, this is in strict confidence, but she
was very much surprised to see Miss La Salle with you on the day you
called at our—her house.”

“I knew she would be,” was Marjorie’s rueful reply, “but on that day it
was merely that she happened along in her runabout and—well—and just
came with me. Miss Archer doesn’t know——” Marjorie stopped. She had been
on the verge of mentioning to Veronica her promise to Mr. La Salle. More
than once, since that day in her general’s office when Mignon’s father
had pleaded with her for his daughter’s sake, Marjorie had wished that
she had never been asked to make that fateful promise.

“Doesn’t know what?” interrogated Veronica with the same energetic
impatience that had characterized her blunt arraignment of the French
girl.

“Veronica,” Marjorie began solemnly, “I think, as long as we are already
such good friends, that I ought to tell you about Mignon. It’s not fair
to you or myself or my friends to allow you to think that we approve of
some of the things she does and says.” Briefly, Marjorie explained the
position that she and her chums had been forced into on the French
girl’s account. “You may tell Miss Archer, too, if you will. I’d like
her to understand the situation.”

“You girls have a hard task on your hands,” was Veronica’s grim comment.
“I’ve seen that sort of reform tried so many times in—— Well, I’ve seen
it tried. It always fails. Perhaps I’m speaking too harshly for one in
my humble position.” She flashed Marjorie one of her strange smiles.

“It is right for you to say whatever you think,” Marjorie made honest
response. Inwardly, she decided that Veronica grew daily more baffling.
For a girl who had been brought up in such humble circumstances she was
astonishingly authoritative in her manner of speaking. Yet Marjorie
could not help but admire her dauntless spirit of independence.

“You think me a queer girl, don’t you?” challenged Veronica. “Never
mind. Some day you’ll learn to know and understand me better. About your
club,” she went on hastily as though anxious to lead Marjorie’s
attention away from herself, “I must refuse positively to belong to it.
It would create trouble from the start. You have enough complications to
manage as it is. I may have seemed unfeeling to you about Miss La Salle,
but since I know more of the circumstances, I must say that I sincerely
hope you may help her to find her better self. Look out, though, that
she doesn’t spread a web for your feet.”

With this warning ringing in her ears, Marjorie left her new friend to
continue on her way home to luncheon and entered at her own gate. Over a
week had elapsed since the seven girls had congregated at Sargent’s and
made their first attempt toward forming the Lookout Club. During that
time all the other prospective members had been interviewed and with the
exception of Veronica had heartily fallen in with the plan. This was the
second time that Marjorie had invited the former to join the club. She
was distinctly disappointed at Veronica’s firm refusal, yet she knew
that the girl had spoken wisely when she had remarked that her advent
into the club would be sure to create a disturbance on Mignon’s part.

Privately, Marjorie would not have been specially grieved if Mignon,
instead of Veronica, had been the one to refuse to join. On the
contrary, the French girl readily accepted the invitation.

Although Marjorie could not know it, Mr. La Salle had recently stumbled
upon a letter from Rowena to Mignon among those in his morning mail.
Unluckily for Mignon, it had drifted there quite by mistake. The
postmark plainly revealing its source, he had sent for Mignon, forced
her to identify the writing on the envelope and destroyed it unopened
before her very eyes. Then he had taken her severely to task for it.
Mignon had craftily pretended innocence, boldly assuring her father that
she was astonished to think that Rowena Farnham would dare write to her.
Partially convinced by her eager protestations, Mr. La Salle had made
Mignon sit down and write Rowena a curt note, which he dictated,
informing her that she, Mignon, refused absolutely to hold any further
communication whatever with her. It may be stated that although he also
attended to the mailing of that particular letter, he had nothing
whatever to do with a second much longer epistle written by Mignon to
Rowena in school the next day and surreptitiously mailed to her by
special delivery.

Following on the heels of this dire calamity to Mignon’s peace of mind
had come Marjorie’s invitation to join the Lookout Club. Mignon had
hailed it as a timely aid toward restoring her father’s doubtful
confidence in herself, and accepted the invitation with alacrity. That
she had done wisely was soon made manifest. Mr. La Salle was delighted
when she casually informed him of the fact, and immediately promised to
buy her an expensive gold vanity case, for which she had previously
teased him without avail. Secretly, Mignon was highly pleased with
herself. Rowena had always impressed it upon her that she must not
scruple to use others to gain her own ends. She felt that in thus using
Marjorie’s invitation to appease her father’s wrath, she had indeed
managed very diplomatically. As for the letter, her father had forced
her to write Rowena, Mignon knew it would be of no more consequence to
her friend than so much blank paper. Rowena was too shrewd not to guess
that Mr. La Salle was the motive power behind it.

Marjorie’s views on the subject of Mignon, however, were not optimistic.
At luncheon that day she was very quiet. Veronica’s warning still lurked
in her brain. It was a queer situation she reflected. She had fought
valiantly to make Mignon a member of the club, while all the time she
was dreading the thought of it. On the contrary, she wished earnestly
for Veronica to become a member, yet she had hardly protested against
her refusal to join. Why was it, she pondered, that one’s duty was
hardly ever pleasant? Why did it so often require one to put aside the
nice things and keep the disagreeable ones?

“What makes you so quiet, Lieutenant?” was her mother’s solicitous
question as Marjorie began a listless eating of a favorite dessert which
she usually hailed with acclamation.

“Oh, I was thinking about the club. Veronica won’t join it on account of
Mignon. She thinks if she did that Mignon would make it disagreeable for
all of us. Of course, she is right, yet it seems dreadfully unfair to
her for me to accept that view of it. Just because I made that promise
to Mr. La Salle, I am obliged to consider Mignon’s welfare above
Veronica’s. It’s too provoking!”

“If I felt that way about it, I would go to Mr. La Salle and ask him to
release me from that promise,” was her mother’s tranquil advice. “If you
lack the spirit of helpfulness, then you can hardly expect to be truly
helpful. I don’t mean that as censure, Lieutenant. You know my personal
views on the subject of Mignon. I am merely suggesting it as an open
road out of your difficulty.”

“That is almost what Connie said to Jerry when we first talked of having
the club, and Jerry objected to my asking Mignon to become a member. I
stood up for Mignon then. Now I almost wish I hadn’t. Still I know it
was right to do it, so I must stand by my colors. Veronica and I
understand each other. She knows that she is welcome to join the club,
no matter what Mignon may think. Still, I know that if I coaxed her
every day for a week she wouldn’t change her mind about it. It’s just
another of those miserable vicissitudes, and I shall have to accept it
as such and try to meet it like a good soldier. I couldn’t go to Mr. La
Salle and ask him to release me from my promise. I’d be a deserter from
the army. That reminds me, Captain, may the club hold its first meeting
here to-morrow evening after dinner? I’d like it ever so much if you
have no objections. You know that means eats. Such a worthy organization
can’t conduct a business session without a reward afterward.” Marjorie’s
brown eyes danced mischievously.

“I shall feel highly honored,” laughed her mother, “and will take it
upon myself to see that the worthy organization is lavishly rewarded.
How many girls will be here?”

“Fourteen, counting your grateful lieutenant,” informed Marjorie.
Finishing her dessert in a hurry, she sprang from her chair and
fervently embraced her mother. “You are positively splendiferous,
Captain,” she cried. “If I came and told you that I wanted to invite the
whole four classes of Sanford High to this house to a party, you’d say
‘yes.’”

“I doubt it,” returned her mother with twinkling eyes. “Deliver me from
any such invasion!”

“Oh, I am not going to try it,” Marjorie laughingly assured. “That was
merely an extravagance of speech. Miss Flint continually warns us
against using extravagant language. But there are times when it’s
extravagantly necessary. Are you sure you won’t mind letting us have the
living room for our meeting? I’d have it upstairs in my house, only we’d
be rather crowded.”

“No; Lieutenant, I am willing to resign all claim to it for the evening.
Mrs. Macy and I have a call to make on that poor man who was hurt so
badly in that boiler explosion last week. I understand that he and his
family are greatly in need of help. You will have to play hostess alone,
as I am going to motor over for Mrs. Macy directly after dinner. I’ll
arrange with Delia this afternoon for refreshments for the club.”

“Thank you a million times, Captain.” With a final vigorous hug and a
resounding kiss, Marjorie made a hop, skip and jump exit from the dining
room. A twinkle of amusement lurked in her mother’s eyes as through the
wide doorway she watched her active daughter cross the hall and enter
the living room to put in the fifteen minutes’ piano practice after
luncheon, which formed a part of the busy lieutenant’s daily program.
The last mail of the morning had been productive of a letter for
Marjorie from Mary Raymond. Mrs. Dean had placed it on the rack above
the keyboard directly in front of Marjorie’s open exercise book, with a
view toward giving her a pleasant surprise.

That she had succeeded was immediately evidenced by the jubilant little
cry which proceeded from the living room. As she had confidently
expected, no sounds of practice arose from the neglected piano during
the next fifteen minutes. Duty had succumbed to the fascinating wiles of
Mary Raymond. As usual, Mary’s letter covered many closely-written pages
of note paper. She had much to tell of the glories of her far western
home. She hoped that next summer Marjorie could surely make her the long
visit which she had been unable to pay her that year. She was trying her
best to be a good soldier. The Magic Shield of Valor had protected her
more than once during her school life of the previous year. There were a
number of very snobbish girls in the senior class at school, of which
she was now a member. One of them reminded her a little of Mignon La
Salle. She was a new girl in school whose father owned one of the
largest ranches in the state. So far this new girl had been very nice to
her, but she had made up her mind to be very cautious about rushing into
too-ready friendship with her.

“You see,” Mary wrote, “I’ve had one severe lesson of that sort. I don’t
need another. By the way, how is Mignon behaving toward you since school
began? I can’t make myself believe that she has really changed. If I
were you, Lieutenant, I would keep a safe distance from her. She is
likely to turn and snap at you when you least expect it. It must be a
relief to you girls to know that Rowena Farnham won’t be a pupil of
Sanford High this year. It wouldn’t surprise me, though, if she and
Mignon were friends still on the sly. They are a well-matched pair, and,
therefore, hard to separate.”

Marjorie smiled ruefully as she read Mary’s uncomplimentary opinion of
the French girl and her wise conclusion regarding Mignon and Rowena.
Mary Raymond had never forgiven Mignon her transgressions; moreover, she
never would forgive her. She wondered what Mary would think when she
wrote her chum the information that Mignon had been invited to join the
Lookout Club. Mary’s forceful warning against the latter did not tend to
lighten the perplexed lieutenant’s own lively apprehension. Suppose her
own insistence that they keep their promise to Mr. La Salle were to
later enmesh both herself and her friends in some difficult web of
Mignon’s spinning? Given that this could easily happen, it might take
the greater part of their senior year to extricate themselves from it.
On the other hand, membership in the club might have a highly beneficial
effect on Mignon. Marjorie fervently hoped that it would. At any rate
she had pleaded that Mignon should be asked to become a member of the
club, and come what might, she must abide by the consequence of her own
act.



CHAPTER VI—STRICTLY LOCAL POLITICS


Marjorie was just putting on her hat preparatory to setting out for
school, when Jerry Macy walked in at the open front door. “Thought I’d
stroll over for you,” she announced. “I might better say fly than
stroll. I ran nearly all the way here so as to be sure to catch you at
home.” Jerry’s very manner betokened the fact that she had something on
her mind.

“I’m glad you came, Jerry. Captain says we can have the meeting here
to-morrow evening. I wish you’d help me invite the girls. I’ll tell
Lucy, Rita, Florence, Gertrude and—Mignon. I think I’d better invite
them myself as long as the meeting is to be at my house. You can tell
the others. But we mustn’t stand here to talk. It’s after one o’clock
now.” Seizing her hat, Marjorie hastily slipped it over her curls and
the two left the house.

“I’ll cheerfully invite anyone except Mignon,” stipulated the stout
girl. “Is Veronica coming?” They had now started down the street toward
the high school.

“No.” Marjorie’s face clouded. “She refuses to join our club.”

“Isn’t that too bad?” deplored Jerry in deep disgust. “I suppose it’s on
account of Mignon that she won’t belong to the club. I can’t say I blame
her much. Daisy Griggs told me this morning that Mignon said she
wouldn’t be seen associating with a menial like that Browning girl.
Isn’t that the limit? No apology for using slang, either. I mean what I
say. There’s just one thing about it, Marjorie, we’ll have to do
something to stop Mignon from making such malicious remarks about
Veronica. All morning I kept thinking about what Daisy had said. While I
was eating luncheon an idea popped into my head. We might as well make a
special rule along with the regular club rules that the members must
pledge themselves not to gossip or say hateful things about anyone. All
the girls except Mignon will live up to it, I know. I’ve thought of
another way, too, to keep her from gossiping. You’ll think I’ve surely
gone crazy when I tell you. Yet there’s some method in my madness.”

“What is it?” asked Marjorie curiously. She could think of no effectual
method of sealing Mignon’s wayward lips.

“Well, the best thing to do with Mignon is to elect her to an office in
the club. Then she won’t dare to do anything but behave herself. The
eyes of the club will be on her all the time. She’ll just have to walk a
chalk line. She’ll do it, too. You know how well she behaved when Laurie
gave her back her part in the operetta last Spring. She loves power and
position. Make her an officer in the club and she’ll walk softly for
fear of putting out her own bright light. What do you think about it,
anyway?”

“It’s a good plan,” was Marjorie’s unhesitating answer. “I don’t believe
it would be wise to have her for president, though, or even
vice-president.”

“No, she’ll have to be secretary or treasurer,” declared Jerry quickly.
“In a club of fourteen, four officers will be about as many as we shall
need.”

“But suppose the girls don’t care to vote for her?” Tardy remembrance of
this obstacle now confronted Marjorie.

“Oh, it will have to be a cut-and-dried election as far as Mignon is
concerned.” Jerry grinned cheerfully as she made this bald statement.
“You and I will have to do some electioneering. I’ll interview one half
of the girls and leave the other half to you. We’d better decide now on
the office she’s to have,” she added with the judicial air of a seasoned
politician.

“We might propose her for treasurer,” said Marjorie after a moment’s
reflection. “Very likely we won’t have much money at first, but it would
make her feel more important to take care of it than to be secretary and
just set down the minutes of the different meetings.”

“All right, we’ll see to it that she is elected treasurer. I expect it
will be _some_ surprise to her. I hope to goodness she appreciates it
enough to behave like a Christian. If she doesn’t, you can blame me for
the whole thing.”

“It will be just as much my fault as yours if the plan doesn’t work out
well. It’s rather queer, Jerry, but just before you came I was wondering
whether I had done right after all in proposing Mignon as a member of
the Lookouts. I had just decided that I had, when you came and proved it
to me by proposing that we elect her to an office in the club. It looks
as though there were some hidden influence at work, far greater than we
are, which is urging us on to help her find herself. Who knows how
wonderfully our little plot may turn out after all?”

“You might better say, ‘Who knows _how_ our little plot may turn out?’”
grumbled Jerry. “It reminds me of a problem in algebra. Let X equal the
unknown quantity, or rather let Mignon equal the unknown quantity. But
let us once more be reformers or die in the attempt. We’ve started the
ball rolling, so we’ll have to run along behind it and see that it keeps
on rolling in the right direction.”

Their entrance into the school building cut the earnest conversation
short. Marjorie left Jerry in the corridor and went on alone to Miss
Archer’s office to apprise Lucy Warner of the new project and that the
first meeting of the club was to take place at her home on the following
evening. There was a distinct tinge of reserve in the green-eyed girl’s
greeting, which informed Marjorie that Lucy was still slightly peeved
over the incident of the lost letter. Diligent inquiry had failed to
bring forth any news of it. It was now over a week since Marjorie had
lost it, and there seemed small chance that it would materialize at this
late date.

“I have an invitation to deliver to you, Lucy,” was Marjorie’s frank
address. “Can you come to my house to-morrow evening after dinner? A
number of other girls will be there, too. We are going to organize a
club, and we should like to have you belong to it.”

For a moment Lucy regarded the winsome face before her with scowling
indecision. She was very fond of Marjorie, yet she still cherished a
slight resentment toward her. The friendly light in the other girl’s
brown eyes, however, filled her with an overwhelming sense of shame for
her own stubbornness. Her wrinkled forehead suddenly cleared and she
said contritely: “I hope you’ll forgive me, Marjorie, for being so
hateful to you about that old letter. I am sorry. Please forget that it
ever happened. It is sweet of you to ask me to belong to your club. I’d
love to come to your house to-morrow night, and I surely will. Thank you
for asking me.”

Marjorie’s lovely face broke into smiles. “Thank you for saying you’ll
come,” she nodded brightly. “The meeting is to begin at eight o’clock.
Come over earlier if you can. I must hurry along now. It’s almost
half-past one.”

“I’ll be there before eight,” assured Lucy. Her uncompromising manner
had vanished, and her stolid features shone with renewed good will.

As Marjorie hurried toward the senior locker room to dispose of her hat
before entering the study hall, she felt as though a sudden weight had
been lifted from her shoulders. It was not only her own remorse at
losing the letter which had troubled her. Lucy’s frosty attitude had
belonged strictly to the embittered Observer. Having successfully
dragged her out of that rut, Marjorie had deplored that she should be
the one to shove poor Lucy back into it again. It was vastly comforting
to her to find that the Observer had not risen again to dominate Lucy
Warner.



CHAPTER VII—A STEP TOWARD POPULARITY


The next evening found the Deans’ living room in the possession of an
ardent band of organizers, all bent on organization. A double row of
chairs had been placed at one end of the pretty room, giving it a most
business-like appearance. The long library table had been moved to the
extreme opposite end, thus allowing sufficient free standing space
before the rows of chairs for whomever should be chosen to conduct the
meeting.

“It’s eight o’clock, girls,” announced Jerry Macy from the midst of a
group comprising Muriel, Harriet, Susan and Esther Lind. As though in
direct corroboration of her speech, the tall clock in the hall began a
majestic intoning of the hour. “Much obliged for agreeing with me,”
commented Jerry with a waggish nod toward the kindly-disposed timepiece.
“It’s evident that I’m some little important person. Even the furniture
in this house likes me.”

“Of course it does,” smiled Constance Stevens, who had approached the
group just in time to hear Jerry’s droll remark. “How could it help
itself?”

“Them’s my sentiments, too,” retorted Jerry modestly, “only I hated to
praise myself too much. But forget it. I mean, give Jeremiah’s manifold
virtues a rest. Let’s get busy. Ladies and no gentlemen, take your seats
and the show will begin.” Jerry raised her voice in a stentorian call:
“Our esteemed hostess, Marjorie Dean, will address this noisy throng as
soon as she can make herself heard.”

“I wish you would do the talking, Jerry,” pleaded Marjorie. Her glance
suddenly straying to the rows of chairs on which the girls were
disposing themselves, she exclaimed: “We can’t begin the meeting yet.
Mignon isn’t here. I knew someone was missing, but I couldn’t say who.”

“Oh, bother!” the ejaculation slipped out before Jerry could check it.
“Well, sit down, all of you, just the same. Mignon will be here. She
told Marjorie that she would.” Under her breath she muttered: “I hope it
doesn’t take her all evening to get here.”

Hardly had Marjorie recognized the fact of Mignon La Salle’s absence,
when the loud whir of the electric doorbell proclaimed her arrival.

“Good evening,” she greeted, as Marjorie ushered her into the hall. “I
am sorry to be so late. An unexpected circumstance arose to delay me.”
Mignon did not add, however, that the true cause of her delay was a
letter from Rowena Farnham, in which the writer of it rated her
scathingly for allowing the letter she had written to fall into Mr. La
Salle’s hands. It had quite upset Mignon and put her distinctly out of
humor with the idea of the meeting at Marjorie’s home. In consequence
she had sulked in her room in solitary grandeur, and finally decided to
go to the meeting merely for the sake of tantalizing Rowena by writing
her a defiant account of it afterward.

“Oh, you aren’t really late,” excused Marjorie courteously. “We knew
you’d soon be with us, so we waited for you. I see by your hatless
condition that you drove here in your runabout. Come into the living
room, Mignon, and take your place in joiner’s row.”

With a patronizing smile, which she blindly believed to be the acme of
graciousness, Mignon followed Marjorie into the living room and seated
herself on one of the two vacant chairs in the front row. As she greeted
her companions her elfish black eyes kept up the usual incessant roving
from face to face.

“Go ahead, Marjorie,” Jerry ordered as she slipped into the remaining
vacant chair. “It’s up to you. I’m no orator.”

“Girls,” rang out Marjorie’s clear tones, “some of you know quite a
little bit more about this club idea than others. So I’d better tell you
everything from the very beginning.” Briefly, she related what had
transpired among the seven seniors on the afternoon they had visited
Sargent’s. This accomplished she continued: “So you see we haven’t done
much as yet except choose a name and decide what our object is to be.
First let me ask you: Have any of you another name that you think would
be better than the ‘Lookout Club?’”

Emphatic approval forthcoming for the name already selected, she went
on: “You must understand that the object of this club is purely to help
anyone or any good cause we can. We must always be on the lookout with
that purpose in view. At first we can’t do much. Later we may do a good
deal. But whatever our hands find to do, we must do it with our might.
If the club proves a success, then we can pass it on to the next senior
class of Sanford High. I believe it would make us all very glad some day
to be able to say that we founded the first sorority in our high school.
It seems strange to me that there has never been one in Sanford High. At
Franklin High, the school I had just entered before I came to Sanford to
live, there were several sororities. It would be splendid if we could
call ourselves the founders of one at Sanford High.

“That is about all I can say regarding the object of our club. What we
ought to do first this evening is to elect our officers. As there are
only fourteen of us in the club, we don’t need many officers. A
president, vice-president, secretary and treasurer will be enough. For
president, I wish to nominate Jerry Macy. Are there any other
nominations for that office? As there are so few of us we might as well
make the election a strictly informal affair. Afterward we can conform
to the usual method of club procedure.”

“I nominate Marjorie Dean for president,” put in Jerry quickly.

“I refuse the nomination.” Marjorie smilingly shook her head. “I shall
not accept an office. I prefer to be just a member.”

“I think Jerry would make a fine president,” said Harriet Delaney with
emphasis.

“But I——” began Jerry.

“Are there any further nominations?” interrupted Marjorie mischievously.

“I don’t want to be president.” Jerry’s protesting voice alone broke the
silence.

“I second the nomination,” declared Rita Talbot.

Paying no attention to the protest, Marjorie continued: “It has been
regularly moved and seconded that Jerry Macy become president of the
Lookout Club. Those in favor of the motion please respond by rising.”

Twelve girls immediately stood up. Jerry alone remained seated, scowling
ferociously.

“I declare Jerry Macy to be president of the Lookout Club,” stated
Marjorie. “Don’t look so cross about it, Jerry. You can’t help yourself.
Come up here now and show us how nicely you can conduct the rest of the
election.”

“Not for mine. I mean not to-night,” amended Jerry hastily. “I won’t
decline to be president, because I am no quitter. If you girls are
determined to have me for that high and mighty office, I’ll do my best
to fill it. Still, I must say I don’t admire your taste.”

A general laugh went up at this naïve speech of acceptance. Only one
girl did not smile. In her secret heart Mignon was not in favor of the
stout girl for president. She had voted for her merely because she did
not wish to be the only one on the contrary side.

“Since Jerry refuses to begin her duties to-night, I’ll let her off for
just once,” asserted Marjorie playfully. “We will now consider the
office of vice-president. Nominations are in order.”

“I move that we nominate Muriel Harding for vice-president,” volunteered
Daisy Griggs.

Susan Atwell instantly seconded the nomination. The matter was then put
to vote and Muriel was unanimously elected to the honor of the
vice-presidency.

“Nominations for treasurer are now in order,” announced Marjorie. Her
color deepened a trifle as she spoke. This particular part of the
election did not appeal to her. Both she and Jerry had encountered
sturdy opposition when they had privately interviewed their friends
regarding their proposal to make Mignon treasurer of the club. In the
end they had won a concerted though reluctant consent to the project.
Marjorie now felt a trifle anxious for fear ample time for reflection
might have caused one or more of them to alter their decision.

“I nominate Mignon La Salle for the office of treasurer.” Constance
Stevens’ low, sweet voice cut the silence.

“I second the motion,” came reassuringly from Irma Linton.

Marjorie flashed her a quick, grateful glance. Irma Linton, too, could
always be depended on to do the right thing at the right moment. Her
gaze resting next on Mignon, she was inwardly amused at the expression
of blank amazement that overspread the French girl’s sharp features.
Mignon had, indeed, been treated to a pleasant surprise. A gleam of
intense triumph shone in her large, black eyes when a moment later
twelve girls loyally rose to their feet in response to Marjorie’s
mechanically-stated request.

Was it really true that she, Mignon La Salle, had actually been
nominated by Constance Stevens and chosen by the girls whom she
privately scorned to fill an important office in the club? It looked as
though at last they were beginning to come to their senses. Possessed of
an overweening vanity, Mignon smilingly accepted her election to the
post of treasurer as a distinct compliment to herself. Far from being
grateful for it, she regarded it purely as a step toward the popularity
which she had ever craved. It also gave her a thrill of malicious joy to
discover in her hands an efficient means of arousing Rowena’s jealousy.
How greatly she would enjoy writing Rowena the news, and how furious
Rowena would be! A mocking smile touched her red lips as she gleefully
anticipated Rowena’s rage.

Engaged in rapt meditation of this desirable consummation, Mignon did
not realize that a pair of shrewd eyes had marked that smile and
translated it with surprising accuracy. “I’ll bet you my hat she’s
wondering how Rowena will take it,” was Jerry Macy’s astute conclusion.
A surmise which seemed indeed to point to the truth of Jerry’s frequent
assertion that she “knew everything about everybody.”



CHAPTER VIII—THE RULE OF RULES


The fourth and last officer to be elected was the secretary, and this
honor fell to gentle Irma Linton. Ever modest and self-effacing, Irma
was even more greatly surprised at her own election than Mignon had been
when Constance Stevens had suddenly declared herself.

“Will the four distinguished officers please come forward and stand in a
row and receive the congratulations of the humble members?” requested
Marjorie gaily. “After that I will conduct them to their official
stations and let them run the meeting.”

Several minutes of merry talk and handshaking went on before Jerry
assumed the scepter of office and called the meeting to order again.
Mignon and Irma had now been given seats at the big library table at one
end of the room. Muriel had moved her chair to the front, placing it a
little to one side of where Jerry stood.

“Ahem!” ejaculated Jerry, then giggled. “As president of this club, it
now becomes my duty to discuss with you a number of rules and
regulations to which this distinguished organization must pledge
themselves to live up. In the first place, you will all be taxed with
dues. You are lucky to be charter members and thus avoid the payment of
initiation fees. Now the question is how much are you willing to pay per
week or per year or any other old per for your glorious privilege of
membership. Now don’t all speak at once, and don’t be stingy. Remember,
we are as yet a very poor and struggling concern. We have only one
consolation. We needn’t hire a hall. We can meet at one another’s houses
and thus practice thrift. Now let’s have a little informal discussion
about it.”

“I think the per week idea would be nice.” Harriet Delaney rose promptly
to the financial situation. “We could give so much each week when we
came to the meeting. Mignon could have our names on a book just as the
grammar school teachers keep a register. Then when we first came into
the room where the meeting is held we could give her our money and she
could credit us with it on her book. It’s easier to give a little each
week than to have to save it up and pay it all at one time. We wouldn’t
even miss it, for we are always spending small sums for candy and ice
cream and moving pictures and such things. We ought to look at our club
as an amusement and be willing to pay for it accordingly. Then, too, the
money will be used to do good with.”

“That is a very sensible plan,” agreed Muriel Harding. “How much do you
suppose we ought to give? I am willing to spend at least a quarter a
week on the club.”

“I’d never miss a quarter, either,” affirmed Jerry Macy. “That’s letting
us off easy. Don’t you think so, Marjorie?”

Marjorie was about to answer in the affirmative. Sudden remembrance of
Lucy Warner checked her reply. Among the fourteen girls present that
evening, Lucy Warner alone would be unable to spare that weekly sum.
Hastily dividing 52 by 4 she realized that thirteen dollars would be a
rather large slice out of Lucy’s savings toward a college education. She
wondered now whether she had been wholly wise in even asking Lucy to
make one of an organization of girls who squandered weekly perhaps more
than poor Lucy could save in a month.

“I think it would be better to set the dues at ten cents per week,” she
said slowly. “We will always be sure to pay that much. At that rate we’d
be paying $5.20 a year apiece, and in many clubs the yearly dues are not
more than that. Of course, we are anxious to put some money in our
treasury as soon as we can. If any of you feel like paying a year’s dues
in advance, so much the better for the club treasury. What we ought to
do is to give an entertainment of some kind and earn quite a lot of
money all at once. Almost any one in Sanford would be willing to
contribute to a good cause. The Rebellious Princess netted us over five
hundred dollars for the library. We could give a fair or a play or
something and have a splendid time doing it, not to mention the money
we’d earn.”

“But suppose we do something like that and make a lot of money, what are
we going to do with the money?” asked Florence Johnston.

“Give it to anyone who needs it,” responded Marjorie. “As Lookouts we
must poke around and find some good use for our money. There are always
plenty of very poor people in Sanford who need help. Captain and Mrs.
Macy went this evening to see a man who was hurt in an explosion. Now
that he is so sick, he can’t work and he and his family have nothing to
live on. There are lots of such cases right here in this city. For two
years at Christmas time a number of we girls have tried to give the very
poor folks a Merry Christmas. The club can do things like that. There
might be some girl in our own school who would some day need our help.
We’ll just have to keep our eyes open and find out where our help is
needed.”

After a little further discussion, the girls agreed that the weekly sum
of ten cents each would be satisfactory, at least for a beginning.
Secretly two or three of them wondered at Marjorie’s unwillingness to
give more than that. They had always supposed her to be very generous.
Mignon, in particular, was delighted at discovering, at last, what she
regarded as a great flaw in Marjorie Dean’s character. She mentally
stored it away as a delectable bit of gossip to be circulated at her
pleasure.

Having been provided with notebook and fountain pen, Irma busied herself
with setting down the results of the various discussions regarding rules
and regulations, which followed rapidly upon that of the dues. Once
these points had been finally settled they were to be incorporated in a
typed list and each girl was to receive a copy of the list.

Thus far during the meeting, nothing save the actual business of the
club had been talked over. The object of the Lookouts, their dues, the
time and place of meeting, these and other similarly important details
had been gone over, each assuming the form of a set rule. The ethical
side of the club had not yet been touched upon. As president it now
became Jerry’s duty to introduce the delicate subject which she and
Marjorie had confidentially gone over together on the previous day. This
was a contingency on which blunt, good-humored Jerry had not reckoned.
She had had a fixed idea that Marjorie would be elected president of the
club, and had depended on her to lay down that one special rule of
conduct that was intended to quiet Mignon’s too-garrulous tongue. Now it
appeared that the task devolved upon herself. Yet she did not feel equal
to it. She knew that her brusque fashion of speaking was likely to
arouse instant aggression on Mignon’s part.

Her round, blue eyes significantly fixed on Marjorie, she now addressed
the gathering with: “Is there anything else you can think of that ought
to be added to the rules of our club? If there is——” She paused,
continuing to stare at Marjorie with an expression of positive pleading
on her plump face.

Marjorie read the glance aright and rose to Jerry’s aid. Drawing a long
breath she said with a gravity that brought all eyes to bear upon her:
“Girls, there is one rule that we ought to make and live up to if we
hope to become useful to others. It is the good old Golden Rule. ‘Do
unto others as you would that they should do unto you.’ It means to be
absolutely loyal in thought, word and deed, to everyone with whom we
come in contact. Then we may hope for an equal amount of loyalty in
return. Of course we expect to be loyal to one another. Otherwise there
would be no use in forming this club. But we must be specially careful
to give outsiders a perfectly square deal. If ever we expect to hand
down our sorority to those who come after us, we must offer them an
unblurred escutcheon. After all, it is the little things we say and do
that often amount to the most for or against us.

“As our club becomes better known, the eyes of the other girls at
Sanford High School will be turned upon us. We can’t afford to do or say
anything that will cause them to criticize us. We must carry ourselves
so honorably that we shall be beyond criticism. That’s why I think the
Lookouts should adopt the Golden Rule for their very own and try always
to keep it.”

A vigorous clapping of hands followed Marjorie’s earnest little speech,
accompanied by, “Good for you, Marjorie,” “The Golden Rule for the
Lookouts,” “You couldn’t have chosen a better one,” and various other
bursts of girlish enthusiasm. Marjorie’s sweet face grew rosy at the
tributes that were hurled at her from all sides. She had guessed that,
with the exception of Mignon, the girls would heartily echo her
sentiments. A swift, uncontrollable flash of curiosity to see in what
spirit the French girl had received her little talk, impelled her
reluctant gaze to center itself upon Mignon.

The latter’s face was a study. True her lips were curved in a smile
intended to convey an amiable acceptance of the measures which Marjorie
had so conscientiously advocated, but her black eyes glowed with a
threatening light that belied her smiling lips. Within the guileful
French girl’s breast seethed a turmoil of conflicting emotions. Had she
joined this silly club and accepted an office in it only to find that
she had been trapped into pledging herself to become a goody-goody like
Marjorie Dean? It looked very much as though she had done precisely that
very thing. She reflected angrily that she might have known better.
Personally, she was not in the least interested in putting herself out
to help others. If certain persons in Sanford were so poor they hadn’t
enough to eat and wear it was none of her concern. The club no doubt
would turn out to be as prosy an affair as all the other regulation
charitable organizations in Sanford. She had a wild desire to spring
from her chair, tell these stupid girls that they were all babies and
rush from the house.

Yet there was her office of treasurer to be considered. At last she was
in a fair way toward becoming popular. Then, too, these same babyish
girls were vastly important pupils of Sanford High. Third, there was the
question of her stern father to be considered. As a member of the
Lookout Club, she would be in high favor with him. Perhaps, after all,
it would pay her to pretend to a loyalty which formed no part of her
tricky, faithless composition. Later on, if she found the club
unendurable, she could easily drop out of it. As for the much-vaunted
Golden Rule, let the others live up to it as much as they chose. It
should not trouble her in the least. She had ever been a law unto
herself and she would always remain one.



CHAPTER IX—A REAL LOOKOUT


The news that fourteen seniors of Sanford High School had formed
themselves into an organization called the Lookout Club soon spread
itself like wildfire throughout the big school. But even that
information paled into insignificance beside the fact that Mignon La
Salle was not only a member of it but an officer as well. The pupils who
as sophomores, juniors and seniors had come to know the tricky French
girl during her freshman year for precisely what she was, had been
graduated and gone on to other fields. Many of the later lower class
girls had, however, seen enough of her methods in the past two years to
cherish no illusions concerning her. From her own lips they had heard
the most scathing criticism of Marjorie Dean and her friends. Now it
became a nine days’ wonder that they should have been so foolish as to
admit faithless Mignon into their club.

“I’m positively sick and tired of being quizzed about how we happened to
ask Mignon to join the Lookouts,” declared Muriel Harding to Jerry one
afternoon as the two girls were leaving the study hall for the day. Two
weeks had passed since the meeting at Marjorie Dean’s home and during
that time Mignon had lost no opportunity to expatiate at length upon the
importance of her position in the club.

“I’ve been asked that a few dozen times, too,” was Jerry’s disgruntled
response. “Of course, it’s nobody’s business, but then you can’t blame
the girls much. Ever since she joined the Lookouts, Mignon’s been
strutting around like a peacock. I suppose she has told everybody in
Sanford about it that would listen to her. There’s at least one thing to
be thankful for. It’s better for her to talk about herself than about
somebody else.”

“Wait until the newness of being treasurer wears off, or until something
happens in the club that doesn’t suit her. Then, look out,” predicted
Muriel. “I am really sorry her father insisted on sending the Lookouts
that check for one hundred dollars,” she added confidentially. “It puts
us under obligations to her. Everyone in school knows about that, too.
Connie’s aunt gave the same amount, but Mignon has never said a word
concerning it.”

“I know it. Yet we couldn’t very well accept the money that others have
sent us, and refuse Mr. La Salle’s check,” was Jerry’s gloomy reminder.
“None of us had any idea when we started the club that our parents and
friends would insist on helping us in that way. Why, we’ve nearly five
hundred dollars in our treasury already.”

That their elders should have shown such immediate and generous interest
in the Lookout Club had, indeed, been a matter of unparalleled surprise
to its members. Jerry Macy’s father and mother had been the first to
come forward with a check for fifty dollars. Mr. and Mrs. Dean had
contributed twenty-five. Constance Stevens’ aunt had presented them with
one hundred dollars in gold, while the parents of the other girls had
contributed sums of from five to fifteen dollars. Even Lucy Warner had
come to Marjorie, amazement mirrored in her green eyes, as she handed
the latter an envelope containing a crisp ten-dollar note. It had been
mailed to her, she explained, together with a sheet of paper on which
was typed: “Please ask your mother to offer this little contribution to
the Lookout Club in her name. A friend.”

This anonymous communication, folded about the ten-dollar note, was as
much of a mystery to Lucy as the Observer letters had once been to
Marjorie. At first she had rather resentfully suspected that it might
have come from Marjorie, Jerry or Constance Stevens, out of pity for her
poverty. She said as much to Marjorie, who denied all knowledge of it.
After making tactful inquiry of Jerry and Constance, she had assured
sensitive Lucy that neither girl was responsible for the gift. She
advised Lucy to follow the giver’s direction implicitly. “You can’t
return it, because you don’t know who sent it,” she had argued, “and, of
course, you don’t wish to keep it. So you can only do as the giver
requests.”

It had been a matter of private satisfaction to Lucy when the money had
duly been mailed to Mignon with an accompanying line from her mother
which merely repeated the giver’s direction. “To the Lookout Club in the
name of Mrs. Margaret E. Warner.”

Marjorie had also experienced a degree of quiet happiness in the thought
that someone had been so supremely thoughtful of Lucy Warner. Privately
she suspected that someone might be Miss Archer. The latter was already
very fond of Lucy and also deeply interested in the progress of the
club. She had given ample proof of this by sending for Marjorie one
afternoon shortly after it had been organized to question her in kindly
fashion concerning it. During this heart-to-heart talk with her
principal, Marjorie had felt constrained to explain to her concerning
why Veronica Browning had refused to become a member of the Lookouts.
Miss Archer had merely smiled and said: “Veronica has already explained
matters to me. I think her decision a wise one. I fully understand your
peculiar position in regard to Mignon, Marjorie. I can only commend you
and your friends for your earnest endeavor to help her.” The next day
she had mailed a check for ten dollars to Mignon as her good will
offering to the young enthusiasts.

Miss Archer’s encouraging words had gone far toward imbuing Marjorie
with renewed will to tackle the problem of reforming Mignon. For several
days previous to it she had been daily annoyed, not only by the
question, “Why have you girls taken Mignon La Salle into your club?” but
by the vainglorious boasts of Mignon herself. Miss Archer’s approval had
given her fresh energy to live down these annoyances. She had resolutely
dismissed them as mere exhibitions of foolish vanity on the part of the
French girl. She believed that, later, Mignon would weary of her
bragging and subside. But the end of the second week after the club
election of officers marked no change in the French girl’s tactics. On
the very afternoon that Jerry and Muriel halted in the locker room to
continue the exchange of confidences they had begun in the corridor,
Marjorie entered it not long afterward, her thoughts on the precise
subject they were freely discussing.

“Oh, here’s Marjorie at last,” called Muriel, as the former entered the
nearly-empty coat-room. “What kept you and where’s Connie? The rest of
the girls couldn’t wait. They all have dates or errands that sent them
hustling along.”

“Connie had to see Professor Fontaine,” returned Marjorie. “She will be
along soon. Lucy Warner asked me to stop at the office.” The answer
contained a trace of annoyance that her hearers instantly caught.

“What did she want with you?” demanded Jerry sharply. “Oh, I beg your
pardon, Marjorie. I didn’t mean to ask you that.”

“Granted.” Marjorie smiled faintly. “I intended to tell you, anyway.
Lucy is very much hurt over something Mignon said to her. Yesterday
morning Mignon walked part of the way to school with her. Lucy said that
she was surprised, as Mignon had never even spoken to her until she
joined the Lookouts. Almost the first thing she said to Lucy was that
she was so glad she had helped her to get the position of secretary to
Miss Archer. She went on to say that without it she guessed Lucy
wouldn’t have been able to pay her dues in the club, nor could her
mother have given the ten dollars to it. You can imagine how Lucy felt.
She didn’t say much, only that she was surprised to know that Mignon had
helped her to get the secretaryship. Then Mignon said she was surprised
to think I had taken all the credit for it, especially as she had gone
with me to Miss Archer to see about the position.”

“Well, of all things!” exploded Jerry Macy. “That’s what I call pure,
unadulterated nerve! I hope you stood up for yourself, Marjorie Dean. It
would be just like you to let Mignon take the credit for something she
had nothing to do with. This how to be helpful stunt has gone to her
brain, I guess. Next thing we know, she’ll be marching around Sanford
High saying that she put the u in universe.” Jerry sniffed her contempt
of the too-efficient Mignon.

“I think that’s simply ridiculous!” exclaimed Muriel hotly. “What did
you say to Lucy, Marjorie?”

“I had to tell her the truth.” Marjorie’s lips tightened. “Even then
Lucy didn’t quite like it because Mignon happened to be with me that day
I called on Miss Archer. She’s such a queer girl, and so easily—— I
won’t say offended. I’ll just say hurt. I managed to straighten things
with her, though, but she’s terribly peeved with Mignon. She said she
wouldn’t say anything to her about it, unless Mignon starts the subject
again. If she does—— Well, they will surely quarrel.”

“It’s easy enough to see through Mignon,” was Muriel’s displeased
comment. “She has picked Lucy as the only one in the club she can
patronize. If I were you, Marjorie, I’d tell Lucy to pay no attention to
her whatever beyond being merely civil.”

“I told her that,” nodded Marjorie. “Perhaps I shouldn’t have done so,
but I knew she would have to be warned. It came to me in a flash that if
Mignon tried to start trouble in the club she’d start it through Lucy.”

“I guess we’ll have to put a label on Mignon,” decided Jerry.
“‘Dynamite, handle gently,’ or something like that.”

The three girls giggled in unison at the mental vision Jerry’s proposal
conjured. The bare idea of haughty Mignon parading about with such an
ominous legend attached to her person was a joy to contemplate.

“We’ll all have to pretend it’s there and treat her accordingly,”
chuckled Muriel. “Really and truly, girls, about all we’ve done since
the club started is to worry about Mignon’s failings. It’s time we let
her take care of herself and turn our minds to something important. So
far the Lookouts haven’t looked out for a single chance to spend their
money.”

“We’ve all been looking-out, but we haven’t located anyone or anything
yet that seems to need it,” stated Jerry with some energy. “That man who
was hurt is in a hospital now, and my mother and Mrs. Dean and some
others are taking care of his family.”

“I saw something the other day that made me wonder—— Oh, here’s Connie!”
The arrival of Constance Stevens cut Marjorie’s sentence short. “Now we
had better vacate this sacred spot. We aren’t supposed to linger in the
locker room after dismissal.”

“There’s a new confectioner’s shop just opened down on Bellevedere
Street,” suggested Jerry hopefully. “‘Dexter’s,’ I think the sign says.”

“Let’s try it for variety’s sake,” laughed Marjorie. “When we get there,
I’ll tell you about my new idea for the Lookouts.”

“I’ve thought of one, too,” remarked Constance, “but I’ll save it until
later.”

“Come on, then.” Jerry took Muriel by the arm and headed the procession
of four down the street. It was only a short walk to Jerry’s find, and
four voices lifted themselves in approval of the pretty little shop,
done in pale blue and white, with its long marble soda fountain at one
side of the spacious room, and its dainty white tables and chairs.
Having gleefully ordered several delectable new concoctions of which
Sargent’s could not boast, the quartette settled themselves to talk.

“You first, Connie,” decreed Marjorie. “We know you’ve something nice to
tell us.”

“I don’t know what you may think of my idea, but here it is. You
remember the little gray house that I used to live in. Well, it’s not
gray any more. It’s been newly painted a pretty dark green with lighter
green trimmings. It has never been rented since we lived there. I
suppose the owner thought it never would be unless he had it repainted.
You know it is quite near to that large silk mill where so many women
work. The majority of them are married women and have to help support
their families. They live mostly in tumbledown shacks not far from the
mill.

“They have to go to work very early in the morning and don’t get home
until after six o’clock in the evening. That means that their poor
little children who are too young to go to school have to take care of
themselves the best way they can. I’ve often walked through that
district and seen those poor tiny tots trying to play by themselves and
looking utterly neglected. When I think of how much Charlie now has it
makes me feel dreadfully for them. I’ve taken them fruit and toys
sometimes, but that doesn’t help much. What they need is good care. For
the sake of my own little brother, I wish every child might be happy.” A
wealth of pity shone in Constance’s blue eyes as she said this.

“Go on, Connie,” urged Jerry. “I begin to see now what you’re driving
at.”

Constance smiled, then continued: “What I thought we might do would be
to rent the little gray house and make a day nursery of it. Then these
poor women could leave their children at it when they go to work in the
morning and come after them at night. You remember how large the sitting
room is, Marjorie. It takes up almost all of the downstairs part, and
there’s a small kitchen in the rear. We could rent the house for ten
dollars a month, and pay some good woman and a young girl to come and
look after these children until evening.

“From four until six o’clock each day we could take turns, two of us at
a time, going there to play with the children and tell them stories. I
have talked it over with my aunt and she agrees to pay for the hired
help if the Lookouts would like to do the rest. It wouldn’t cost much to
give the children a nice luncheon every day. Of course they would have
their breakfasts and suppers at home. We couldn’t afford to serve them
with the three meals. But the nursery itself and the luncheon would be
free. We wouldn’t care to charge them a cent. As for the furniture, we
ought to buy two long tables and some kindergarten chairs. Then we ought
to furnish one upstairs room with about four little beds and the rest of
the things that go in a bed room. Then we would have a place for any of
the children that weren’t feeling very well. There is a nice large yard
behind the house where they could play in summer or even in winter when
the weather wasn’t too cold. I don’t know how many children would come;
about twenty or perhaps twenty-five.” Constance paused and eyed her
friends wistfully. Their silence made her wonder if they disapproved of
her plan.

“Connie Stevens, you are a perfect dear!” exclaimed Muriel. “That’s the
nicest plan I ever heard. I love children, and I’ve often noticed those
poor little things that live near the silk mill. I’d be only too glad to
give one afternoon a week to them.”

“So would I.” Marjorie’s face shone radiant good will. “You are a real
Lookout, Connie. It would make us very happy just to know that we were
making those poor children happy. At Christmas we could give them a
tree, too. I know Captain will want to help with them, too.”

“You are O. K., Connie, and so is your aunt!” exclaimed Jerry. “Tell her
for me that she is a peach; I mean a glittering angel. It’s a good thing
the club meets to-morrow night. I’d hate to have to go around all week
keeping this glorious stunt to myself.”

Brimming with enthusiasm of this worthy project, the quartette fell into
an eager discussion of what they would need to put the house in
readiness for its juvenile guests, and the probable cost of their little
investment in human happiness. It was a protracted session which they
held at the round table and when it broke up shortly before six o’clock
they had finished a third supply of sundaes and were of the firm opinion
that dinner that evening was quite unnecessary to their welfare.

It was not until she had reached her own gate that Marjorie remembered
that she, too, had conceived of an idea which the club might see fit to
incorporate into their campaign of usefulness. It seemed rather
unimportant beside the greater project for the day nursery, yet she
believed it was not valueless. However, it would keep, she reflected.
She would reserve it until the other scheme was well on the way toward
fulfillment.

How wonderful it would be to bring sunshine into the lives of those poor
neglected children! She was sure that the other members of the club
would hail the plan with acclamation. What a dear, unselfish girl Connie
was! How unutterably sweet she had looked when she had said that she
wished every child might be happy for the sake of little Charlie.
Marjorie’s rapt reflections ended in a sharp gasp of dismay.
Recollection of Charlie Stevens brought to her the vision of a
black-haired, elfish-eyed girl who had once cravenly left a small
runaway to shift for himself on a dark night. There was one member of
the club on whom the woes of these children would make no impression,
and that member was Mignon La Salle.



CHAPTER X—HALLOWE’EN MYSTERIES


At the meeting of the Lookouts on the following evening, Constance
Stevens’ thoughtful suggestion that the club rent the little house where
she had once lived and transform it into a day nursery, met the instant
approbation of every member except Mignon La Salle. She was far too
clever, however, to pit herself openly against the volume of approval
that rose to high tide. Only by the eloquent shrugging of her shoulders
and the ominous glitter of her black eyes did she betray her contempt
for the project. She resolved within herself that no amount of
persuasion should induce her to contaminate her precious person for one
moment by an association with those “horrible slum children.” These
idiotic girls might do as they chose, so would she. On whatever
afternoon she should be detailed for duty in this detestable day
nursery, she would find some good excuse for evading it.

It would take at least a month, she reasoned, to prepare the house for
its small guests. By that time she might have become tired of the club.
Still she rather liked her office of treasurer. It made her feel very
important to know that the financial affairs of the club were in her
hands. The Lookout Club had deposited its funds in the First National
Bank of Sanford. She had been officially introduced to its president and
duly authorized to deposit or draw out money from it in their name. If
she resigned from the club now she would forfeit the privilege to use
the check-book which had been given her. The club would soon begin to
make frequent demands upon her for money with which to meet the various
financial obligations which the furnishing of the day nursery would
incur. Mignon decided that she would adroitly shirk the unpleasant
duties of the club, but still retain her office. So long as she proved
herself to be an efficient treasurer the girls might grumble as much as
they pleased about her other shortcomings. At best they were too
stupidly set on fair play to demand her resignation.

Intimate association with Rowena Farnham had developed Mignon’s fund of
trickery to the nth power. Rowena had taught her how to play a subtle
game as long as mere subtlety would answer the purpose. If there came a
time when it proved unavailing, she would leave these babies in the
lurch as boldly and defiantly, as Rowena had once performed the same
unscrupulous office for herself. Contrary to all expectation, Rowena had
taken the news of Mignon’s advent into the club with admirable
tranquility. For reasons best known to herself, she had adopted this
plan of action. Mignon’s letter informing her of the French girl’s
sudden rise in popularity had merely caused her to throw back her head
and laugh; a sure sign that she meant mischief.

Meanwhile, unconscious of the treacherous thoughts that settled in the
brain of their graceless treasurer, thirteen girls were working heart
and hand after school hours toward perfecting their cherished plan. The
last of October found it nearing completion. The little house in which
Constance had once dwelt had taken on a new lease of life. From cellar
to roof it was a vision of shining cleanliness and order. The large room
where the children were to play looked like a veritable kindergarten.
Rows of sturdy plants decked the spotless windows, uncurtained in order
to permit the greatest possible amount of light. The two long tables
flanked by rows of cunning little chairs, stood ready to receive the
coming residents. All sorts of toys had been unearthed from countless
trunks in which reposed the treasures of the members’ own early days,
now offered at the shrine of childhood. The kitchen had been fitted out
completely, and its ample cupboard boasted of a new set of pretty
dishes. Upstairs the rest room, with its four tiny white beds and
spotless appointments, was a joy to behold.

Marjorie, Jerry, Constance and Irma had diligently gone the rounds of
the squalid mill neighborhood, announcing the creation of the nursery to
the stolid, wondering inhabitants, and graciously inviting them to bring
their children to partake of its benefits. Youngsters from two years of
age to six were placed on the eligible list and to the care-worn toilers
this enticing offer seemed too good to be true. The nursery was
scheduled to open on Saturday afternoon, the first of November. A
competent elderly woman and a strong, willing maid had been secured and
so far as they knew the Lookouts had left nothing undone that might add
to the welfare of their tiny charges.

“Really, children, I think we’ve earned our Hallowe’en party to-night!”
exclaimed Marjorie Dean, as in company with Jerry, Irma, Muriel, Susan
Atwell and Constance they left the nursery, to which they had repaired
after school for a last fond survey of their pet.

“Please hurry over to our house early,” requested Jerry. “This is to be
a weird and awesome night when spirits walk abroad and witches ride the
air on broomsticks. Don’t one of you dare to forget to bring a broom
with you.”

“Very mysterious,” giggled Susan. “I suppose you’ve fixed up some
awesome sights for our timid eyes. You’re awfully stingy not to tell us
a thing about it beforehand. All we know is that we’re to wear black
masks and black dominos, and each bring a broom.”

“All shall be revealed to you in due season.” Jerry raised a dramatic
arm, then dropped it and grinned tantalizingly.

“Never mind,” consoled Marjorie. “We haven’t long to wait. It’s five
o’clock now. Three hours more and we’ll be in the thick of weird,
mysterious happenings.”

“Three hours is as long as three days when one’s curiosity is whetted to
a sharp point,” laughed Irma. “Those queer, phosphorescent invitations
of yours, Jerry, were enough to keep us guessing what the rest of the
party would be like.”

“Some invitations,” chuckled Jerry. “The Crane put me on; I mean gave me
the idea for them.”

“When mine came, I opened it and thought somebody had sent me a
queer-looking bit of paper for a joke,” confessed Susan, “so I threw it
in the waste basket. I had the pleasure of hunting through the basket
for it the next day, after Marjorie had explained it to me.” This
sheepish admission was followed by Susan’s inevitable giggle, and five
voices immediately echoed it.

With the happy prospect of the grand opening of the nursery on the
morrow and Jerry’s delightful Hallowe’en frolic that evening, the
sextette of girls was in high spirits as they sauntered along in the
sharp, October air. Marjorie could hardly remember a time when she had
felt more utterly at peace with the world. A quiet happiness permeated
her whole being, and she was filled with the sense of satisfaction which
the performance of a good deed always brings.

Seven o’clock saw her slipping into the exquisite peachblow evening
frock of shimmering silk which she was to wear to the party under her
domino, nor could she be other than pleasantly elated at the story her
mirror told her. Her curls arranged in a low, graceful knot at the back
of her shapely head, her cheeks glowing with excitement and her brown
eyes two pools of radiant light, Marjorie could not be blamed for taking
a pardonable pride in her appearance. She heaved a soft little sigh of
regret as she covered the glory of her new frock with a somber domino,
and hid her witching face behind a black mask. Then she ran lightly
downstairs, stopping in the hall to annex the new broom Delia had left
there for her.

“I’m ready, Captain,” she called in deep, sepulchral tones, as she
paused in the doorway of the living room where her mother sat reading.

Sight of the sinister figure and sound of the hollow voice startled Mrs.
Dean briefly, as she glanced up from her book.

Marjorie’s merry laugh rang out as she hastily stripped off the
concealing domino and mask. “I thought I could scare you,” she teased.
“Now tell me that I look very gorgeous and kiss me good-bye, for I must
hurry along to the land of spooks and witches.”

“Remember, fine feathers don’t make fine birds,” retaliated her mother,
fond admiration of her pretty daughter in her sweeping survey of the
dainty vision before her.

“That means I look specially nice,” translated Marjorie. “Thank you,
Captain.” Holding the broom rifle fashion, she brought one hand to her
forehead in brisk salute. “Now the gallant army is off duty for a
pleasant evening. I hope I haven’t kept General waiting.” Marjorie
hastily resumed her cloak and mask.

“Ask him,” smiled her mother as she accompanied her to the door. Lifting
the flap of the mask she kissed Marjorie tenderly. “Have a good time,
dear, and come home in good season.”

“What have we here!” exclaimed Mr. Dean in mock horror as a weird,
black-robed figure, bearing the proverbial witch’s broom, advanced down
the walk toward the automobile in which he was seated. “Must I show the
white feather and flee from this ghastly apparition?”

“You must _not_,” emphasized a very human young voice. “Stand your
ground or be court-martialed.”

“I won’t budge an inch. I prefer the company of shades, rather than lose
my prestige as an invincible general,” flung back Mr. Dean valiantly.

Helping Marjorie to a seat beside him in the limousine, and carefully
disposing the broom in the tonneau, they were soon speeding down the
road to cover the short distance that lay between the homes of the two
families. A continual ripple of most unspectre-like laughter proceeded
from behind the black mask as they scudded along. Between Marjorie and
her father the serious side of life seldom rose. Whenever they were
together, they invariably behaved like two gleeful children out for a
holiday.

“Now go and keep company with the other horrors of Hallowe’en,” was Mr.
Dean’s parting comment as he set Marjorie down at the gate, kissed her
and handed her the broom.

“Just watch me go,” she called back merrily, turning to flaunt the broom
in fantastic salute as she flitted up the long walk to the dimly lighted
house. “Things certainly have a ghostly look,” she decided as she rang
the bell.

The next instant she uttered a sharp little cry as the door opened and a
frisky imp in a tight-fitting suit of black seized her by the hand and
hauled her inside. From the shadowy hall a tall sheeted form loomed up
before her, giving vent to a deep groan. Before she could do more than
gasp, her lively conductor had possessed himself of her broom, decorated
it with a piece of wide blue ribbon, pinned a rosette of similar ribbon
to her domino, both of which he snapped up from a tray held by the
sheeted spectre. Then he whisked her into what had formerly been the
Macys’ living room. It was now transformed into a huge cavern, dimly
lighted by grinning Jack-o’-lanterns. Masked and black-garbed figures
flitted about its spacious confines at will. In one corner of the room
stood a tripod, from which hung a large kettle. Around the kettle danced
three terrifying figures who might easily have been identified as the
weird sisters who appeared to the ill-starred Macbeth.

Straight to the fatal witch rendezvous Marjorie was towed by her
insistent guide. Pausing in her grotesque dance, one of the weird
sisters seized a cup from a number of others which stood on a small
table near the tripod. Flourishing it, she pounced upon a small ladle
that stood upright within the utensil. Dipping it into the steaming
contents of the kettle, she filled the cup and offered it to Marjorie.
“Drink ye the witches’ deadly brew,” she croaked.

The “witches’ deadly brew” proved to be very excellent chicken bouillon,
which did not come amiss after Marjorie’s ride in the cool autumn air.
By the time she had finished it, her goblin conductor had scurried away
to answer the ring of the door bell, leaving her to mingle with the
other sinister shapes that wandered singly or in twos and threes about
the room. As everyone was firmly bent on keeping his or her identity a
secret, conversation languished among that mysterious company. It was
comparatively easy to distinguish the masculine portion of the
assemblage from the feminine, however, by reason of height and the
mannish shoes that were worn by at least half of the dominoed guests.

For at least fifteen minutes after Marjorie’s arrival, the helpful imp
was compelled to do constant duty at the front door, and the impromptu
cavern soon overran with its strange, uncanny occupants. In the midst of
their perambulations a reverberating peal of manufactured thunder rent
the air and the zealous imp skipped into the room.

“Friends and fellow spooks,” he declaimed in a high, piping voice, “I am
the humble servitor of the Spirit of Hallowe’en. Come with me and I will
show you the Cavern of Illusion where she awaits you!”

The humble servitor pranced down the long hall to the Cavern of
Illusion, once the back parlor, an eager crowd of somber-looking
followers at his heels. It was an orderly rush, however, although the
fell silence that had pervaded the company at first was now broken by
murmurs of subdued speech and frequent giggles. The Cavern of Illusion
was in absolute darkness except at one end, where a square of white,
presumably a sheet, stretched itself in the form of a screen. A faint
light from behind it caused it to stand out clearly against the
surrounding blackness.

“The Spirit of Hallowe’en,” shrilled the imp, who had stationed himself
close to the screen. Hardly had he spoken the words when a long roll of
thunder sounded and a fantastic shape in the high-peaked hat and
circular cloak that betokens the legendary witch of All Hallow’s night,
leaped upon the screen. On one shoulder perched a black cat and in one
hand she bore a broom stick. Making a sweeping curtsey, she disappeared
from the screen, to reappear instantly minus cat and broomstick.
Curtseying again, she began a dance, fantastic in the extreme, but
singularly graceful. She dipped, whirled and swayed, using her cloak
with pleasing effect, and ended the performance by apparently flying
straight upward to disappear at the top of the screen.

The wild burst of ardent applause that followed her clever terpsichorean
effort pointed to the fact that the masked audience was at least
possessed of very human young throats. The Spirit of Hallowe’en
declined, however, to respond to the frantic demonstration, and a moment
later the imp’s falsetto tones made themselves heard above the din.

“Follow me to the Hall of Fate,” he ordered. “There the Three Weird
Sisters tarry to wail the Chant of Destiny.”

This invitation conveyed the information that where the fateful kettle
simmered under the guardianship of the weird three must undoubtedly be
the Hall of Fate. The guests did not wait to follow, but made a bee-line
for it, at least half of them reaching it ahead of their obliging master
of ceremonies. Once they had gathered there the Weird Sisters
entertained them with a spirited dance about the kettle, to the
accompaniment of an unearthly chant, pitched in a minor key.

At the conclusion of it a terrific burst of thunder broke and the Hall
of Fate became suddenly flooded with light.

“All aboard for the ball room!” shrieked the imp in a voice that
strongly resembled that of Danny Seabrooke. “The Test of True Love will
presently be held there.”

This astonishing statement raised a shout of laughter. The young folks
needed no second urging, however, as they willingly mounted the two
flights of stairs after the imp, who skipped nimbly ahead of them, while
the Three Weird Sisters brought up the rear. The apartment used by Hal
and Jerry for a ball room, when entertaining their friends, was situated
on the third floor of the east wing of the house. It was especially
large and airy, with a beautifully polished floor, and, therefore, well
suited to the purpose. Jerry always referred to it as the “town hall”
and took considerable pleasure in the possession of it.

Arriving in the ball room, the maskers found that the four musicians
hired to play for the dancing were already at their post. Despite their
curiosity as to what particular ordeal awaited them in the cause of true
love, the enticing measures of a waltz sent the masculine portion of the
company scurrying for partners. It was not until the fifth dance was
over that the imp staggered into their midst, heavily laden with a
freight of beribboned brooms. Depositing them in a corner he promptly
disappeared, to return presently with a second load. By that time the
sixth dance had ended, and the dancers were beginning to murmur
concerning their masks, which were becoming rather too concealing for
comfort. Then, too, nearly everyone had come into a fair knowledge
regarding the identities of at least part of his or her companions.

It was, therefore, wholly to their liking when the ubiquitous imp
marched to the center of the floor and declaimed in true Danny Seabrooke
fashion: “Damsels of the Domino, please line up across the floor. The
Test of True Love is about to begin.” His next order, “Knights of the
Domino, your fiery steeds await you! Kindly march in line to the corner
and select your steed, then find your partner for the evening!” evoked a
tumult of laughter. The Test of True Love promised to be decidedly
amusing.



CHAPTER XI—AN UNWILLING CAVALIER


The laughter grew louder when, according to the energetic imp’s
direction, four solemn, black-robed figures obediently bestrode their
broomstick steeds. They next pranced confidently up and down the line of
girls in hopeful search of the fair one, the ribbon rosette on whose
sleeve corresponded respectively with the bow on the broom each rode.
When the first four had triumphantly ended their quest and marched their
newly-acquired partners out of line, four more gallants fared forth to
seek their own, and so on until seventeen broomstick knights had
appropriated their seventeen respective partners.

“Unmask!” sang out the master of ceremonies, thoughtfully setting the
example. Minus the false face he had worn, Danny Seabrooke’s grinning,
freckled features looked out from his close-fitted, pointed cap.

“Why, how funny!” exclaimed Marjorie Dean, as she discovered her partner
to be none other than Hal Macy. “You are the last person I expected
would be my partner.”

“You’re not sorry, are you?” Hal smiled rather tenderly at the lovely
girl beside him.

“Of course not,” was Marjorie’s frank reply. “I am awfully glad. I’d
rather have you for a partner than any other boy in school.”

“Would you, Marjorie?” Hal’s voice contained a hint of eagerness. Lately
he had begun to realize that his boyish affection for Marjorie Dean was
verging on a far deeper emotion. Yet the very candidness of Marjorie’s
heartily expressed preference for him, showed him quite plainly that she
meant it merely in a sense of frank friendliness.

“You know I would,” she nodded seriously. “Aren’t we sworn comrades?”
The real meaning of his question had passed entirely over her head.

“We are, indeed,” was the hearty response. Inwardly Hal vowed that for
the present he would try to regard Marjorie wholly in that light. Yet
within himself he cherished a fond hope that some day he might come to
mean more to this sweet, unselfish girl than a mere comrade. Although
Marjorie did not realize it, that evening marked the beginning of
Romance for her.

“I’ll have to confess that I found you out before you unmasked,
Marjorie,” he laughed. “Naturally I picked the broom that wore the blue
ribbon.”

“You are a most designing knight,” she answered heartily. “I wonder if
Laurie discovered Connie beforehand and did likewise.” Her glance
travelling the long room a soft “Oh!” escaped her. Laurie had indeed
acquired a partner, but that partner was Mignon La Salle. A quick survey
of the room discovered Constance standing beside Miles Burton, a senior
at Weston High School. Marjorie could not help noting how delighted
Mignon looked. Laurie, however, did not appear specially elated. He was
making a desperate attempt to hide his disappointment under a show of
chivalry which Marjorie knew to be forced.

Before she had time to make further observations, the announcing strains
of another dance rang out and she floated away on Hal’s arm. When that
dance was over Sherman Norwood claimed her for the next and the
succeeding one she danced with Hal.

“Now I must find Connie and have a talk with her,” she declared
brightly, when that dance was finished.

“And I must do my duty by Jerry’s guests,” commented Hal somewhat
ruefully. “Be a good comrade and save as many dances for me as you can,
Marjorie.”

“I will.” Marjorie left him with a smiling little nod and set off to
find Constance. Half way across the floor she encountered Jerry who was
hurrying to meet her.

“I was looking for you, Marjorie. Come downstairs with me and see if you
can’t persuade Veronica, I mean Ronny, I’ve decided to call her that, to
stay for the evening.”

“Veronica!” Marjorie’s brown eyes widened. “Is she really here? I
thought you said she wouldn’t come. I haven’t seen her.”

“Oh, yes, you have, only you didn’t know it,” chuckled Jerry. “You saw
her do that shadow dance. She did say she wouldn’t come. Then when I
told her about the stunts I was going to have she offered to come of her
own accord and do that dance. But she doesn’t want anyone else to know
that she’s here. I can’t understand that girl. She’s certainly the
world’s great mystery.”

Marjorie’s face registered her surprise. “She does act queerly
sometimes. I don’t know why, unless it’s because she feels that her
position at Miss Archer’s might make a difference with us. As though it
could. I’d love to see her to-night, if only for a few minutes. Your
party is lovely, Jerry. It is so original. I hadn’t the least idea until
they unmasked that Harriet, Rita and Daisy were the three witches. I
suspected that tall, white figure to be the Crane, and, of course, I
knew Danny Seabrooke the minute I first set eyes on him. You and Hal
must have worked awfully hard to decorate everything so beautifully.
It’s the nicest Hallowe’en party I’ve ever attended.”

“I’m glad you like it.” Jerry beamed her gratification. “It did keep Hal
and me hustling. I’m sorry for poor Laurie, though. It’s too bad that he
had to go and draw Mignon for a partner. She’ll stick to him all evening
like grim death. Trust her to do that.”

“Oh, well, Connie won’t care. It will only amuse her. Laurie isn’t very
happy over it though,” was Marjorie’s regretful comment.

As they talked the two girls had been making their way downstairs. In
the back parlor they found Veronica, a demure little figure in her plain
blue suit and close-fitting blue hat. “I’m glad you came down,
Marjorie,” she greeted. “You look so sweet in that peachblow frock. It’s
a joy to see you.”

“Thank you, Veronica. Your shadow dance was also a joy to see. You are a
very clever young person. I wish I could dance like that.”

“Why can’t you stay, Veronica?” lamented Jerry. “I’d love to have you
meet the Weston High boys. They are nice fellows and good dancers.”

“Don’t tempt me.” Veronica made a smiling gesture of protest. “I love to
dance. When I was——” she stopped with her usual strange abruptness. “I
must go,” she asserted decisively. “My—Miss Archer will wonder what has
kept me so long.”

“But we came down here as a special committee of two to persuade you to
stay,” pleaded Marjorie.

“Thank you ever so much. It is dear in you to take so much trouble for a
poor servant girl.” Veronica’s gray eyes twinkled as she referred to her
lowly estate.

“I wish you wouldn’t say that, Ronny,” protested Marjorie, unconsciously
using Jerry’s new name for the pretty girl.

“Where did you hear that name? I mean the name ‘Ronny?’” Veronica’s
startled question held a note of sharpness. “I never mentioned it to
you. I am sure of that.” A decided pucker of displeasure showed itself
between her dark brows.

“Why—that—why—Jerry mentioned it,” stammered Marjorie, somewhat taken
aback by Veronica’s brusque manner of speaking. “She thought of it
herself, I suppose.” Flushing, she turned to Jerry for corroboration.
The stout girl’s round eyes were fixed shrewdly on Veronica.

“I take all the blame and the credit for it,” was Jerry’s prompt
assertion. “It’s a cunning nickname and easier said than Veronica. If
you’d rather we’d not call you Ronny, then we won’t. Of course, you
never mentioned it to me. I just made it up. It suits you, though. I’ll
bet we’re not the first persons to call you by it, either,” she added,
hazarding a shrewd guess.

A tide of pink flooded Veronica’s white skin. Her forehead smoothed
itself magically. With a short, embarrassed laugh, she said briefly: “I
don’t mind if you girls call me Ronny.” She made no attempt, however, to
affirm or deny Jerry’s guess. “Now I mustn’t stay another moment, or
some of your guests may wander downstairs and find me here.” So saying,
she began to move determinedly toward the doorway that opened into the
hall, Jerry and Marjorie following. Pausing at the front door only long
enough to offer them her hand in parting, Veronica made a quick exit
from the house and sped down the drive. Accompanying her as far as the
veranda, Marjorie and Jerry watched her in silence until she had been
swallowed up in the black shadows of the night.

“Some little puzzle.” It was Jerry who spoke first. “I’ve always said
that I knew everything about everybody, but I’ll have to make one
exception. I don’t know a single thing about Veronica except what she
has chosen to tell me. There’s no way of finding out anything, either.
I’d as soon think of asking the Shah of Persia how much gold he had in
his royal treasury as to ask Miss Archer about her.”

“No; we couldn’t question Miss Archer,” Marjorie agreed soberly. “We
must accept Ronny at her own face value, and not trouble ourselves about
her peculiarities. Some day she may explain to us of her own accord the
very things that puzzle us now. The best way to do will be to pretend
not to notice anything mysterious about whatever she may say or do. We
know that she is generous and high-principled and truthful. That ought
to be enough for us to know.”

“Yes, that’s so,” admitted Jerry. Tearing her thoughts from the strange
girl, who had just left them, she linked an arm in one of Marjorie’s,
saying: “We’d better go back to the town hall. We’ve already missed two
or three dances.”

Deeply absorbed in conversation, they entered the house and climbed the
stairs to the ball room, quite unaware that a black-eyed girl in an
elaborate old gold satin evening frock had slipped cautiously from the
living room and sheltered herself for a moment in the alcove formed by
the stairs.

Mignon La Salle had left the ball room almost immediately after Marjorie
and Jerry had exited from it. She had not seen them leave it, however.
She had come downstairs on an errand of her own, which had nothing
whatever to do with them. Overjoyed at having Laurie Armitage for her
partner for the evening, she had resolved to make hay while the sun
shone. Mignon had arrived at the Macys’ in her runabout, driven by the
long-suffering William. But she did not purpose to return home in it.
She intended to return in Laurie’s roadster. On arriving, her lynx eyes
had spied it parked before the gate. As Laurie had drawn her for a
partner for the evening, she was positive that courtesy would prompt him
to see her home, if the occasion demanded it. To make sure of this, she
planned secretly to telephone her residence and leave word that William
need not come for her. As her father was out of the city on business,
she ran no special risk of having her plan fail. When the party was
over, she would loudly bewail the non-appearance of her runabout and lay
it at the door of poor William’s stupidity. Then Laurie would be obliged
to take her home in his roadster, or appear in a most ungentlemanly
light. It would also be a great triumph over that hateful Constance
Stevens.

Filled with this laudable intention, Mignon had sped cat-footed down the
stairs. The sound of girlish voices suddenly emanating from the back
parlor brought her to a halt. She heard Veronica’s warm greeting of
Marjorie and recognized her unmistakable tones. Breathlessly she took in
the conversation that ensued. The moment she heard Veronica announce her
departure, Mignon made a swift, noiseless dash for the living room,
gaining it just in time to avoid being seen by the trio as they passed
from the back parlor into the hall. Hardly had the front door closed
upon them when she darted across the room and took refuge behind a
Japanese screen.

Determined not to be balked in her resolve to telephone her home, she
crouched there and waited until the sound of the reopening and closing
front door followed by footsteps on the stairs and the hum of receding
voices, informed her that Marjorie and Jerry had returned to the ball
room. Fearing further interruption to her project, she lost no time in
calling up her home and impressively delivering her command to the maid
who answered the telephone. Well pleased with what she had heard and
done, Mignon returned to the dancers inwardly congratulating herself on
her own cleverness.

As the evening progressed she found Lawrence Armitage a far from devoted
knight. True he danced with her several times and was uniformly
courteous in his behavior toward her, but whenever he could seize an
opportunity to spend a moment or two with Constance Stevens he made good
use of it. At supper, which was served at small tables in the dining
room, she was secretly furious to find herself and Laurie at the same
table with Constance Stevens and Miles Burton, the senior from Weston
High School. Her instant suspicion was that the situation had been
arranged by Jerry at Laurie’s request. Although she had only surmised
this, at least part of her conjecture was quite true. Out of sympathy
for Laurie, good-natured Jerry had favored him to this extent. Hal also
had privately rallied his boy friends to the cause by saying to them sub
rosa: “You fellows had better keep Mignon busy dancing. Are you on?”
Mignon’s swift rise in popularity as a dancer proved that they were.
This, however, she did not at first suspect. Her insatiable vanity
prevented her from seeing through that ruse.

It was not until supper had ended and the dancing had been resumed that
light began to dawn upon her. It came with the dismaying knowledge that
Laurie had not been near her for six dances. Three of them he had danced
with Constance Stevens. Following on that discovery came the
disagreeable suspicion that perhaps he had persuaded his friends to help
him out. She was by no means anxious to believe this. Nevertheless, the
bare idea of it plunged her into a most unpleasant mood. Too wise even
to intimate to the young man that she disapproved of his tactics, she
began to look about for someone on whom she might vent her spite.

It may be said to Laurie’s credit that he was entirely innocent of the
crimes she attributed to him. He knew nothing whatever of Jerry’s and
Hal’s private campaign for his benefit. Noting that Mignon was receiving
plenty of attention from his friends, he very naturally gravitated
toward Constance. In reality none of the young folks except Mignon
looked upon the broom episode as being other than a huge joke. Her
sentimental preference for Laurie, which she knew was not reciprocated,
caused her to clutch at any straw that would win her his attentions.

Gradually becoming convinced of her cavalier’s perfidy, Mignon crossly
snubbed two Weston High boys who asked her to dance and switched
haughtily toward a corner of the room where a big punch bowl of fruit
lemonade awaited the thirsty. As she neared it her elfish eyes began to
sparkle with malicious purpose. Standing beside it was Lucy Warner, her
small face aglow with half envious delight as she watched the dancers.
Unfortunately for Lucy, she did not know how to dance.

“Having a good time?” inquired Mignon patronizingly, as she toyed with
the handle of the silver ladle preparatory to filling a cup with
lemonade.

“Oh, yes.” Forgetting the disapproval of Mignon which Marjorie Dean’s
recent explanation concerning the secretaryship had caused her to feel,
Lucy answered almost eagerly. The next instant she stiffened
perceptibly, and started to move away from Mignon.

“Wait a minute,” ordered Mignon, quick to note the change. “What’s the
matter? Are you angry with me? I’m sure you have no reason to be.”

Remembering Marjorie’s injunction not to allow herself to be drawn into
a quarrel with the French girl, Lucy hesitated. “You will have to excuse
me,” she said quietly. “I am going home now.”

“Oh, are you? That’s too bad. I was just about to tell you something.
Never mind. Perhaps it wouldn’t be wise to tell you.”

“What do you mean?” Lucy’s green eyes gleamed surprised displeasure. The
suspicious side of her nature, however, clamored for information. She
knew that she ought to go on about her business, but curiosity stayed
her feet.

“Oh, nothing much.” Mignon shrugged her shoulders. “It was merely about
something that happened last year. I’ve changed my mind. I am not going
to tell you. You know it’s forbidden among the Lookouts to gossip. I’ll
just give you a piece of advice. As a Lookout, it would pay you to keep
your eyes open. There are some very deceitful girls in Sanford High
School. One of them in particular pretends to be your friend. I should
advise you to be careful what you tell her. She is not to be trusted.”

“What do you mean?” Lucy again demanded, with a deep scowl. She wondered
if Mignon’s last insinuation meant Marjorie Dean.

“Use your eyes and ears and you’ll find out for yourself.” With an
amused laugh, Mignon set the cup she held on the table and walked away,
her spite for the moment satisfied. She had managed to plant a seed of
discord in Lucy’s inflammable brain. She hoped with all her heart that
it had sprouted and would grow rapidly.

That it had not died became evident in the rather reserved farewells
which Lucy made to Jerry, her hostess, and several of the girls. Among
them was Marjorie who wondered a little at the other girl’s chilly
demeanor. Earlier in the evening Lucy had been radiant. Always
charitable in thought, Marjorie laid it to the fact that Lucy was
perhaps a trifle tired. Yet the almost hostile stare of her
peculiarly-colored eyes haunted Marjorie for the remainder of the
evening.

Twelve o’clock marked the wind-up of the Hallowe’en party. By a quarter
after that hour the young revelers had begun to troop down the front
steps of the house, their gay good nights echoing on the still air.
Greatly to her joy, Lawrence Armitage dutifully inquired of Mignon if
her runabout were parked outside, or if she expected the La Salle’s
chauffeur to come for her. On replying that her chauffeur would be
waiting at the gate with the runabout, she was even better pleased to
hear him politely announce his wish to see her safely to it.

Mignon was doubly elated by the fact that Constance and Marjorie were
directly behind her. Mr. Dean had come to take both girls home, as
Constance was following her usual after-party custom of spending the
night with Marjorie. The French girl was quite ready to set up an
out-cry over the non-appearance of her runabout. She was anxious that
Constance in particular should see her calmly appropriate both Laurie
and his roadster.

Her black eyes blazed with triumph as she surveyed the little row of
automobiles which stretched itself along a portion of the street in
front of the Macys’ residence. Her runabout was not among them.

“Why, where is my car?” she cried out in well-simulated dismay. “Isn’t
that provoking? That stupid William has misunderstood that he was to
come for me. It’s just like him to make such a mistake! What am I to
do?” Mignon rolled appealing eyes at Laurie.

Sheer vexation sealed Laurie’s lips for an instant. He knew only too
well what courtesy demanded him to do, and he rebelled at the thought.
Mignon’s loud outcry had already attracted the attention of a group of
guests who stood surrounding Hal and Jerry Macy. The young host and
hostess had strolled to the gate with their friends to wish them a last
good night. Every pair of eyes was now centered on Mignon.

Drawing a long breath, Laurie reluctantly came to the French girl’s
rescue. “I will take you home——” he began with polite aloofness.

“There comes your runabout, Mignon,” called Muriel Harding sweetly. Her
alert eyes had spied it as, with William at the wheel, it passed under
the arc light and made rapid approach.

Muriel’s announcement elicited no response from Mignon. She stood
motionless on the walk, her gaze fixed fiercely upon the undependable
William as he turned the runabout and halted it just ahead of the other
cars. Under the glare of the gate lights the varying expressions of her
stormy face told their own story. With the realization of defeat came
the need for instant action. William was already moving toward the group
of young folks. He was looking for her. She must intercept him before he
came too close to them.

Electrified by the fear of exposure, she darted toward the chauffeur,
who, glimpsing his charge, strode forward. She was just a second too
late. “I got your ’phone message not to come for you, Miss Mignon,” he
boomed mercilessly, “but your father just got home and he says that I
was to drive over after you just the same.”

Taken at a complete disadvantage, Mignon could only mutter an
embarrassed good night to the outwardly grave, but inwardly gleeful
Laurie. Ignoring the amused group of boys and girls, she flounced into
the runabout without a word to the innocent betrayer of her
carefully-concocted scheme. During the drive home, however, she shed
tears of heart-felt rage against her father’s untimely interference. She
vowed vengefully that he should pay for it, thereby proving conclusively
that, when it came to a matter of a grudge, she was no respecter of
personages.



CHAPTER XII—A DISCOURAGED REFORMER


Despite the late hour at which members of the Lookout Club had retired
on the previous night, nine o’clock Saturday morning saw them gathered
at the day nursery, for a final survey of it before the house warming
began, which was scheduled to commence at two o’clock that afternoon. As
Saturday was a half-holiday for the mill folks, the girls had chosen the
time of the opening with a view to giving the mothers of the children,
who would partake of its hospitality, an opportunity to inspect the
nursery and offer the names of their little ones for registration. A
buffet luncheon, contributed by the mothers of the Lookouts was to be
one of the features of the occasion, and Mrs. Macy, Mrs. Dean, Mrs.
Harding and Miss Susan Allison were to act as patronesses. Mignon La
Salle was the only member of the club who did not put in an appearance.
Why she had chosen to absent herself no one of the Lookouts knew nor did
they greatly care.

“I guess Mignon feels rather queer about facing us to-day after what
happened last night,” Jerry Macy confided to Marjorie, when the close of
the morning brought no sign of the French girl.

“I was truly sorry for her,” Marjorie answered with evident sincerity.
“She must have been terribly embarrassed.”

“Not she,” sniffed Jerry. “She was probably mad as hops, though, to
think her scheme fell flat. She must have telephoned her house while we
were all upstairs dancing. It was silly in her to do a thing like that.
It’s funny, though, what a crush she’s always had on Laurie. She’s cared
about him ever since her grammar school days, but he has never liked
her. He’s awfully fond of Connie, though.”

“I know it.” Marjorie smiled. “Somehow one never thinks of either Connie
or Laurie as being foolish or sentimental.”

“That’s because Connie is so sensible and nice about Laurie,” explained
Jerry. “She just treats him as a boy friend and makes him understand it.
Laurie is different from Hal and the Crane. He’s a musician and has
associated a good deal with older men. That makes him seem ever so much
older than he really is. Naturally he is more serious and grown-up. He
and Hal are almost the same age, but Hal seems younger than Laurie.
Danny Seabrooke and the Crane are more Hal’s speed, but Hal thinks
there’s no one quite like Laurie.”

“Nearly all the Weston High boys are splendid,” praised Marjorie. Her
glance happening to stray to Lucy Warner who stood across the room,
talking to Muriel Harding, she said anxiously: “Jerry, do you think
anyone said anything last night to Lucy to hurt her feelings? Just
before she went home I tried to talk to her and she hardly answered me.
She hasn’t more than spoken to me this morning, either.”

“She was pretty icy to me when she said good night,” returned Jerry
unconcernedly. “That’s just her way. She’s like February weather, always
thawing and freezing. I wouldn’t worry about her moods. You certainly
have been nice to her. Very likely she felt a little out of things last
night because she didn’t know how to dance. We ought to teach her. Go
and propose it to her, Marjorie. Muriel has just left her. Now is your
chance. I’ll stay here. You can talk to her better alone.”

Suiting the action to the word, Marjorie crossed the room to Lucy. “I’ve
something very special to ask you, Lucy,” she said, adopting a casual
tone.

Lucy frowned portentously. “What is it?” she questioned in cool, terse
fashion. Mignon’s treacherous counsel still rang in her ears. Her moody
frown changed to a flash of interest, however, as Marjorie stated that
she and Jerry were anxious to teach her to dance. Something in
Marjorie’s gay, gracious manner sent a swift rush of shamed color to
Lucy’s white cheeks. Marjorie had befriended her and she had repaid her
kindness by allowing suspicion to warp her belief in this delightful
girl.

“I’d love to learn to dance,” she heard herself saying heartily. Then on
sudden impulse she continued almost pleadingly, “You are really my
friend, aren’t you, Marjorie?”

“Why, of course!” The answer conveyed absolute truth. “What makes you
ask me that, Lucy?” Marjorie eyed her steadily.

Lucy’s color rose higher. “I’m glad you asked me that. I wanted to tell
you something, but I didn’t know whether I’d better. It sounds gossipy.”
In a few words she related what Mignon had said to her. “I shouldn’t
have listened to Mignon,” she apologized. “I tried to leave her, but she
kept on talking.”

Patent vexation held Marjorie speechless for an instant. When she spoke
it was in a firm, almost stern manner. “I have only one thing to say,
Lucy. You must not allow Mignon to make you feel that I am not your
friend. Please remember that I am and hope always to be. I haven’t the
least idea what she meant by saying that she knew me to be deceitful.
She evidently meant me though she didn’t mention my name. I despise
deceit, and I have always been straightforward with you.”

“I believe you,” Lucy earnestly assured her. “Hereafter I shall have
nothing whatever to say to Mignon.”

“You must do as you think best about that. I am glad you came to me
frankly. If you are in doubt at any time about me, please come to me and
say so. Misunderstandings are dreadful.” Marjorie’s mind had harked back
to the memory of the cloud that had once shadowed hers and Mary
Raymond’s friendship.

On the way home to luncheon that day, in company with Jerry, Irma and
Constance, she was unusually quiet. Her thoughts reverted gloomily to
the conversation between herself and Lucy Warner. It had shown her
plainly that no amount of club ethics could stop Mignon’s spiteful
tongue. Her crafty attack on Lucy was merely a beginning. Into what sort
of tangle her mischief-making proclivities might yet involve the
Lookouts was a question which time alone would answer.

The pleasant excitement of the afternoon went far toward banishing
Marjorie’s dark forebodings. The house warming was a signal success,
thanks to the grateful eagerness with which the residents of the mill
district received the kindly effort made in their behalf. Altogether
thirty youngsters were enrolled as members of the day nursery, and their
mothers showed a shy, pathetic pride and pleasure in the new movement
which greatly touched their young hostesses. They did hungry justice to
the dainty luncheon prepared for them, and, their diffidence gradually
vanishing under the hospitable treatment they were receiving, they
talked and laughed in friendly fashion with the patronesses and the
Lookouts.

Greatly to the surprise of her fellow members, Mignon deigned to lend
her elaborately-dressed self to the house warming. It was well into the
afternoon when she appeared, haughty and supercilious. As the majority
of the humble guests knew her by sight, her arrival had a somewhat
dampening effect upon them. The knowledge that she was the daughter of
one of Sanford’s wealthiest residents rather over-awed them, and her
grandiose manner served to deepen the effect. Although she was fairly
affable to her schoolmates, a hint of scorn lurked in her roving black
eyes, which told its own story to those who best understood her ways. No
one of the band of earnest workers honestly regretted her departure
which occurred not more than half an hour after her arrival.

Before five o’clock the humble guests had departed with much handshaking
and friendly bobbing of heads, leaving the house to the Lookouts. The
patronesses left shortly afterward and the bevy of girls turned to with
commendable energy to spend a merry hour setting the nursery to rights.

“Let’s sit down at the table in these cunning little chairs and have a
consultation,” proposed Muriel. “I am really tired out. This has been a
strenuous afternoon, not to mention last night.”

“Not for me,” was Jerry’s discouraged comment. “One of those playhouse
affairs would last about ten seconds if I attempted to sit in it.”

“We’d better be moving toward home,” suggested Daisy Griggs. “It’s
almost six o’clock. I am going to a musicale this evening and I mustn’t
be late for it.” Daisy made a determined march for the stairs, and
disappeared in search of hat and coat.

“Daisy is a very energetic person,” laughed Irma. “I am going home, eat
my dinner and go straight to bed. I’ve been sleepy all day.”

“So have I,” complained Rita Talbot. “I am glad I don’t have to be a
spook the year round. Spooks must lose a lot of sleep.”

“I suppose they must. I never interviewed a real one, so I can’t say
positively,” giggled Susan.

Following Daisy’s example the Lookouts trooped upstairs in search of
their various belongings, exchanging light nonsense as they went. Soon
afterward they descended ready for the street. Marjorie, Jerry and
Constance lingered while Jerry locked the door, depositing the key in a
secret refuge of its own, the location of which was known to the woman
who had been engaged to come early Monday morning in order to receive
her small charges.

“I wish you and Connie would come over to our house to-night,” invited
Jerry. “Hal, Laurie and Dan will be on the job, I mean on the scene. Hal
has a brilliant idea that he thinks might interest the Lookouts. He
won’t tell me what it is, either. Unless you two are kindly disposed
enough to come over, I’ll have to take my curiosity out in guessing.”

“I’ll have to ask my superior officer,” demurred Marjorie. “Captain may
think that I ought to stay at home this evening. I’ll do some expert
coaxing just to please you, Jerry.”

“My aunt may also be of the same mind about me,” said Constance. “Still,
I think I can come.”

“Saved!” Jerry clasped her fat hands in exaggerated thankfulness. “I see
I stand some chance of having my curiosity satisfied.”

“Can’t you telephone your aunt and stay to dinner with me, Connie?”
begged Marjorie.

“Of course she can. That’s a good idea. If your aunt says ‘yes’ then so
will Mrs. Dean,” calculated crafty Jerry. “As Professor Fontaine
beautifully puts it, ‘We weel conseedaire the mattaire as settled.’”

Mention of the little professor reminded Constance and Marjorie of an
unusually long translation for Monday recitation, at which neither of
them had looked. The talk immediately drifted into school channels to
continue in that strain until Jerry left them.

After saying good-bye to her, Marjorie and Constance strolled silently
along for a little.

“Marjorie,” Constance’s clear enunciation startled her chum from brief
reverie. “I am afraid we can never be of much help to Mignon.”

Marjorie flashed a half-startled glance toward Constance. She wondered
what new quirk in Mignon’s behavior had occasioned this observation.
“Why?” was all she said.

“I’ve been waiting for a chance to tell you something I heard this
afternoon. It was Gertrude Aldine who mentioned it. She said that Mignon
told her last night that Jerry had hired Veronica to come to the party
and do that shadow dance.”

“_Hired_ Veronica?” Marjorie cried out in nettled amazement. “That is
perfectly ridiculous and not true. But how did Mignon happen to know
that it was Veronica who danced? Only Jerry, Hal, Laurie, you and I knew
it. Even I didn’t recognize her on the screen. I don’t see how Mignon
could have.”

“She must have, or else——” Constance paused significantly.

“Or else what?”

“I hate to say it, but Mignon must somehow have overheard you and Jerry
when you were talking to Veronica in the back parlor. I saw her leave
the ball room soon after you girls did. I saw her come back again after
you had returned. I didn’t pay any particular heed to it then. You see I
didn’t know about Veronica until you told me last night after the dance.
Even then I didn’t connect her with you girls, although I guessed from
what the La Salles’ chauffeur said to Mignon that she must have gone
downstairs and telephoned her home.” A tiny smile played about
Constance’s lips as she recalled Mignon’s defeat. “When Gertrude
mentioned what Mignon had said about Veronica, the whole thing flashed
across me in a twinkling. Gertrude promised not to tell anyone else. I
know _she_ won’t. But Mignon will circulate it throughout the school. Of
course she won’t mention, though, how she came by the information.”

“It was contemptible in her if she really did spy upon us,” was
Marjorie’s indignant outburst. “I don’t see how she could have managed
to, though. I didn’t see a soul downstairs while we were there. If she
does gossip it in school, Veronica won’t care. She will only laugh.”

“But Jerry will care,” reminded Constance gravely. “As soon as she hears
it she will go to Mignon and make a fuss about it. You know what she
said that day at Sargent’s. She meant it, too. We can’t allow our
president to resign from the club.”

“We will tell Jerry about it tonight,” decreed Marjorie. “It is better
for her to hear it from us than from someone else. She will be cross, of
course, but she won’t resign. Something will have to be done about
Mignon, though. She’s not keeping her word of honor to the club. This is
not the first offense. I can’t explain what I mean by that because I
promised a certain person I wouldn’t tell what she told me. Someone will
have to go to her and remind her of her duty to the club. If she keeps
on saying such hateful things about others, outsiders will form a bad
opinion of us all.”

“As president, it’s Jerry’s duty to tell her,” asserted Constance. “No
doubt she will wish to do it. That’s just where the trouble lies. She
will be apt to tell Mignon very bluntly that she must either stop
gossiping or resign from the club. Mignon will simply snap her fingers
at Jerry and Jerry herself will resign rather than be in the same club
with Mignon.”

“Very likely,” nodded Marjorie. Constance’s theory entirely coincided
with her own. “If we talk things over with Jerry beforehand it may make
a good deal of difference. Although I wouldn’t say it to anyone but you
or Captain, I’ve lately come to the conclusion that trying to help
Mignon is a waste of time, energy and peace of mind. It’s like building
a sand castle on the beach. Before one has time to finish it the sea
washes over it and sweeps it away. If it hadn’t been for that affair at
Riverview last year, I would never have troubled myself about her again.
Do you realize, Connie, that this is the fourth year that we have had to
contend with that girl’s mischief-making?” Marjorie’s question quivered
with righteous resentment.

“Yes, but she has never been really successful in a single piece of
mischief she has planned,” reminded Constance. “She’s caused us a good
deal of unhappiness, but in the end she has been the one to suffer
defeat. It generally happens that way with persons like her. They may
seem to succeed for a while, but always there comes a day when they have
to pay for the trouble they make others. As I have said to you before, I
am sorry for Mignon. Honestly, I don’t think we can ever help her much,
but she might better be in the club than out of it.”

“Then you think that no matter what she may do we ought still to be
patient with her and make allowances?” Marjorie’s query indicated
profound respect for Constance’s broad-minded opinion. It made her feel
as though her brief flash of resentment of Mignon had been unworthy of
herself.

“Yes;” came the unhesitating reply. “What else is there to do? You and
I, in particular, made ourselves responsible when we insisted that
Mignon should be asked to join the Lookouts. As good soldiers we have no
right to shirk that responsibility.”

“I am not going to shirk it.” Marjorie squared her shoulders with an
energy that bespoke fresh purpose. “After all I said to the girls about
Mignon joining the club, it was cowardly in me to complain so bitterly
about her. You’ve made me realize all over again that we ought to look
out for Mignon, because it’s the right thing to do, not because of our
promise to her father.”

“I’ll stand by you.” Stopping in the middle of the walk, Constance
offered her hand to Marjorie in pledge of her offer to stand by.

Both girls laughed as they went through with the little ceremony of
shaking hands, little realizing that their compact would, later, turn
out to be no laughing matter.



CHAPTER XIII—JERRY DECLARES HERSELF


“Well, here we are again!” jubilantly announced Danny Seabrooke,
executing a few fantastic steps about the Macys’ living room by way of
expressing his approval of the sextette of young people gathered there.

“Yes, here we are,” echoed Laurie Armitage with a fervor that indicated
his deep satisfaction. Seated on the davenport beside Constance Stevens,
his blue eyes rested on her with infinite content. This second gathering
at the Macys’ was quite to his liking.

“This amiable crowd reminds me of a verse in the third reader that I
used to admire,” remarked Jerry humorously. “It went something like
this:

  “‘Let joy be ours, we’re all at home,
  To-night let no cold stranger come.
  May gentle peace assert her power
  And kind affection rule the hour.’”

Jerry recited this gem in a high, affected voice, ending with a giggle.

“Very touching,” commented Danny, “and very true. We are, indeed, a
happy, hilarious, harmonious, harmless, hopeful, hospitable band.”

“After all,” declared Marjorie, “there’s nothing quite like the
Invincible Six, is there? I had a gorgeous time at the Hallowe’en party
last night, but these little sessions of ours are so jolly.”

“Hurrah! Marjorie’s given us a name!” cheered Hal Macy. “Hereafter we’ll
call ourselves the Invincible Six. It’s a good name, and has a lot of
snap to it. It means we are a combination that can’t be downed.”

“Of course we can’t,” agreed Danny Seabrooke glibly. “No combination of
which I am a part can be downed. Hence the term ‘invincible.’ It’s lucky
for all of you that you have me to lean on. Understand, I speak merely
in figurative language. I have no intention of becoming an actual prop
for two big fellows like Hal Macy and Laurie Armitage.”

“Don’t worry,” jeered Hal, “we wouldn’t take a chance on you. An
unstable prop—you know the rest.”

“I know nothing whatever about it,” returned Danny with dignity.
“Furthermore, I don’t wish to know.”

“‘Where ignorance is bliss——’” quoted Hal tantalizingly.

“’Tis folly to waste time spouting proverbs,” finished Danny, his wide
grin in evidence.

“Stop squabbling, both of you,” commanded Jerry. “One would think to
hear you that the March Hare and the Mad Hatter had both come to life.
What about that wonderful idea of yours, Hal? It’s time you quit being
so stingy.”

“Keep Dan quiet and I promise to be generous,” was the teasing
stipulation.

“Come and sit beside me, Danny,” invited Marjorie with a roguish glance
toward the talkative Daniel.

The latter immediately moved his chair with a wild flourish. Planting it
beside Marjorie’s he settled himself in it with a triumphant flop.
“There’s nothing like proper appreciation,” he declared, beaming
owlishly at Hal, who merely smiled tolerantly at this fling.

“Go ahead, Hal,” directed Laurie. “Marjorie’s beneficent influence on
Dan will keep him quiet for at least five minutes.”

“All right.” Hitching his chair about until he faced the interested
group, Hal began. “You know, of course, that most of the Weston High
fellows belong to the Sanford Guards. You know, too, that it is just a
high school company and has always furnished its own equipment. Just now
the company needs a lot of stuff that it can’t afford to buy. A few of
us could club together and buy it, but that wouldn’t suit some of the
boys. We ought to try and raise the money in some more democratic way.
Now you girls have a club and would like to do something to raise money
for it. So I thought between the Guards and the club we could get up
some sort of entertainment together that the Sanfordites would turn out
to and spend their money. That’s the first half of the idea. The second
half is the show itself. Why couldn’t we give a big Campfire in the
Armory, and make a lot of money?”

“A Campfire? I never heard of one. What sort of show is it, Hal?”
Marjorie leaned forward in her chair, her changeful features alive with
curious interest.

“It’s a new one on me!” exclaimed Jerry. “I mean, I never heard of a
Campfire, either,” was her hasty amendment.

“A Campfire is a kind of big military show,” explained Hal. “I went to
one once in Buffalo. It’s like a bazaar, only instead of booths, there
are tents all the way around the Armory except at one end where there’s
a little stage. The center of the floor is left free for dancing.
Different things are sold in the tents. Confectionery and ices and
postcards or anything one cares to have. That would be the part you
girls would have to see to. We could have a show and a dance afterward.
If we gave it for three nights running we’d make quite a lot of money.
Half of it would go to the Lookouts and the other half to the Guards.”

“You’ve certainly got a head on your shoulders, Harold. I forgive you
for those disrespectful proverbs.” Danny regarded Hal with grinning
magnanimity. “I promise faithfully to be one of the special features at
the Woodfire, Coalfire, Nofire—pardon me; Campfire.”

“I’m not sure whether you’ll be there,” retorted Hal. “It will depend
entirely upon your behavior.”

“Oh, I’ll be there; never fear” was the airy assurance.

“It’s the very nicest kind of idea,” approved Marjorie warmly. “I am
sure that we could work together and carry it out successfully. It means
a lot of work, though. When could we have it?” This as an afterthought.

“Thanksgiving would be a pretty good time for us,” proposed Jerry. “We
have no school after Wednesday of Thanksgiving week. But there’s
football. You boys will be busy with that.”

“Not this year.” Hal shook his head. “Laurie and I are out of it. We’ve
had three years of football and so we thought we’d give some of the
other fellows our chance. Having to drill so much lately at the Armory
has kept us both busy. Then, too, Laurie wanted all the extra time he
could get to work on his new opera.”

This last information brought a chorus of surprised exclamations from
four young throats. Even Constance was not in possession of this news.

“Now who is stingy?” cried Jerry, looking playful accusation at Laurie.

“Oh, I intended to tell you folks about it tonight,” defended the young
composer, flushing. “Hal merely got the start of me. There isn’t much to
tell so far. I have a vague inspiration which I’m trying to translate
into music. I don’t know yet whether or not it will be worth while.”

“What are you going to name your opera?” inquired practical Jerry. “What
is it about?”

“I—that is——” Laurie showed further signs of embarrassment. “I haven’t
exactly decided on a name for it. I’d rather not say anything about it
for a while. Later on, I’ll be pleased to answer both your questions,
Jerry.”

“More mystery!” Jerry threw up her hands in comical disapproval. “Our
senior year seems to be full of it. There’s the mystery of Veronica, for
instance, and——”

“She is a rather mysterious person,” broke in Laurie. “Last night while
she was waiting to do that shadow dance, I stood beside her so as to be
ready to take her broom and that stuffed cat she carried on her shoulder
after she made her bow on the screen. When she had finished the dance
she slipped away from me before I had a chance to congratulate her on
her dancing. I thought of course she’d stay for the party. I was
surprised when you told me, Jerry, that she wouldn’t hear to it. She
seems like a mighty nice girl. Strange, but I could almost swear that
I’d met her before last night.”

“You’ve probably seen her going to or coming from school,” remarked
Constance. “She is often with us.”

“Oh, I’ve noticed her with you girls, and I’ve always had that same
peculiar impression about her. The moment she first spoke to me last
night it deepened.” Laurie knit his brows in a puzzled effort to bring
back the circumstances of some possibly former meeting with Veronica.

A gleam of sudden inspiration shot into Jerry’s round eyes. “Perhaps you
may have met Veronica before last night, Laurie,” she said eagerly.
“Think hard and see if you can’t recall the meeting. It might throw a
little light on some of the things that puzzle us.”

“Sorry I can’t oblige you,” he declared ruefully after due reflection,
“but I can’t remember ever having met her previous to last night. It
must be a case of her resembling somebody else I’ve met.”

“Jerry will never be satisfied until she knows all the whys and
wherefores of Veronica,” laughed Marjorie. “Never mind, Jerry. Some day
we may find out that our great mystery amounts to very little after all.
By that I don’t mean that we are likely to be disappointed in Ronny.
It’s quite probable that we don’t understand her now as we may later on.
To go back to the Campfire, we had better decide to-night when we are to
have it. I think Thanksgiving would be the best time. I imagine the
other Lookouts beside ourselves will think so, too.”

The subject of the Campfire again taken up, the six friends entered into
an avid planning for it. The three boys were reasonably sure that the
project would find favor with the Sanford Guards, to which military
organization they all belonged. The three girls were equally certain
that it would meet the approval of their club associates. Their interest
centered on the delightful scheme, both Marjorie and Constance entirely
forgot the disagreeable news which they had previously agreed must be
broken to Jerry.

It was well toward eleven o’clock when tardy recollection of it swept
over Marjorie. The sextette were in the midst of a delectable collation
of hot chocolate, sandwiches and French cakes, of which they had
despoiled the indefatigable tea wagon, when the remembrance of Mignon’s
latest iniquity popped into her mind. Luckily for her, Jerry was seated
in the chair nearest to her. Under cover of one of Danny Seabrooke’s
lively sallies, Marjorie leaned toward Jerry and said softly: “I have
something to tell you, Jeremiah. I thought I might have a chance to say
it to-night, but perhaps I’d better wait until to-morrow.”

“‘Never put off until to-morrow what you can do to-day,’” was the
cheerful reminder. “Wait until we have finished the spread. You can help
me trundle the tea wagon out of here and into the kitchen. Then we can
talk. I’ll make a loud and special clamor for the pleasure of your
assistance. Does Connie know what’s on your mind? I don’t want to seem
rude to her.”

“Yes, she will understand,” nodded Marjorie. “She’d rather I’d tell you.
She can entertain the boys until we come back.”

Not long after this guarded conversation took place Jerry made good her
promise. “Lend me a hand with this tea wagon, Marjorie,” she innocently
requested. “You boys needn’t trouble yourselves. Sit still and look
pleasant and Connie will do the honors while Marjorie and I do the work.
Besides, two’s company,” she added, with good-humored significance.

“Don’t mention it,” affably retorted Danny Seabrooke. “You have my
permission to take charge of the tea wagon. Once it looked good to me.
Now that it holds nothing but empty dishes, take it away quickly.”

Hal and Laurie obediently kept their seats. They were accustomed to
Jerry’s blunt orders and knew that their services were not desired.
Constance flashed Marjorie a quick, inquiring glance, which the latter
answered with an almost imperceptible nod.

“See how they mind me,” observed Jerry, chuckling, as the two girls left
the room, trundling the tea wagon between them. Entering the kitchen she
gave it a final impatient shove away from her. “You’re out of it,” she
commented as it rumbled along the smooth floor with a protesting jingle
of dishes. “You have the floor, Marjorie. What’s the latest? As you
don’t look very joyful, I wonder if our dear Mignon has been busy again.
Something seems to tell me that I am not a thousand miles off in my
guess. After last night, nothing she has said or done can surprise me
much. She certainly got nicely fooled, didn’t she? What I’d like to know
is, When did she telephone her house?”

“That is precisely what I am going to tell you,” stated Marjorie in
deliberate tones; “But, first, I want you to promise me, Jerry, that you
will try not to be too much upset by what I’m going to say.”

“That’s a pretty hard promise to make.” Jerry eyed her friend
speculatively. “I’ll be as calm as I can, but no calmer.”

Not greatly assured by Jerry’s half promise, Marjorie plunged bravely
into the task that confronted her. Before she had ended, Jerry’s
good-natured countenance showed signs of storm.

“Of all the mischief-makers,” she sputtered, “Mignon leads the van!
She’s gone just a little too far this time; The idea of her slipping
around behind our backs to listen to what didn’t concern her. I won’t
have her in the club. As president I have some say about it. I shall
call a special meeting of the Lookouts, tell them what she’s done, and
recommend that she be dropped from the club. We can’t trust her. She’s
broken the Golden Rule a dozen times at least since she became a member
of the Lookouts. Either she must leave the club or else I shall leave
it,” she threatened.

“I was afraid you’d say that. Understand, I agree with you that she
deserves to be asked to resign. But we mustn’t ask her to, and you must
not resign, either, Jerry. If you did, it might break up the club. We’ve
too much at stake now to begin quarreling. We wouldn’t be helping Mignon
by asking her to resign. We’d only be responsible for making her more
dishonorable than ever. Veronica won’t mind her gossip.”

“Maybe she won’t,” snapped Jerry, “but it’s not fair to the Lookouts to
allow Mignon to do and say things that will cause them to be criticized.
We’ve got to take some pretty severe action about it or be set down as
in her class.”

“That’s what I am coming to,” continued Marjorie. “The time has come
when Mignon must be made to understand that she will have to live up to
the Golden Rule. As president of the club, you ought to be the one to
tell her, but I am afraid——”

“I’ll tell her,” emphasized Jerry grimly, “and in a way that she won’t
relish. Maybe then she’ll be glad to resign of her own accord. If she
won’t, then I shall.”

“That’s just the point,” broke in Marjorie mournfully. “She won’t resign
of her own accord. If you undertake to tell her she will be horrid to
you. Then you’ll lose your temper and—we won’t have any president.”

“I guess that’s so.” Jerry frowned fiercely. Marjorie’s wistful ending
had its effect on her, however. “Still, who’s going to tell her if I
don’t? You can imagine what will happen if Muriel undertakes it. It will
be like touching a match to gun powder. Susan has no time for her.
Irma’s altogether too gentle. Harriet’s no match for Mignon.
Connie—well, Connie might be able to put it over. I doubt it, though.
Mignon is so jealous of her on account of her singing and Laurie. She
wouldn’t listen to Connie. Afterward she’d be sure to start a story that
Connie tried to put her out of the club because of Laurie’s attention to
her at the Hallowe’en party. There’s only——”

“Marjorie Dean left to tell her,” supplemented Marjorie quietly.

“You’ve said it,” nodded Jerry. “You are the only one of us who is
likely to make an impression upon her. She doesn’t like you, but she’s
afraid of you. She knows, even though she won’t admit it, that you are
miles her superior. I’d rather be the one to go to her, but you seem to
think it wouldn’t be wise. I guess you know what you’re talking about.
One of us is it. If you feel you’d like to do the censuring act, then go
ahead and do it.”

“I don’t feel that I’d _like_ to do any such thing.” Marjorie’s answer
conveyed strong disinclination. “It’s this way, though. You and Connie
and I know more about Mignon than the others know. That’s why it would
be best for one of us to have a talk with her. If all three of us went
to her together, it would be more humiliating for her than if only one
of us went. I’d rather it wouldn’t be Connie. Mignon would gossip about
her afterward.” Marjorie paused. She disliked to remind Jerry of her
short temper.

“I’ll tell you what we’ll do.” Jerry rose gallantly to the distasteful
interview in prospect. “You and I will form a committee of two and face
Mignon together. You can do the talking and I’ll simply go along to see
that she doesn’t gobble you up. I promise faithfully to be as dumb as a
clam. But only for this one time. Just to please you, Marjorie, I’ll
agree to let her escape what she deserves with a warning. But never
again. If, after you’ve laid down the law to her, she starts any more
gossip, then there will be one face missing among the Lookouts. If it
isn’t hers, it will certainly be mine.”



CHAPTER XIV—AN UNREPENTANT SINNER


Having committed themselves to the unenviable duty of censorship,
neither Marjorie nor Jerry had any intention of wavering in the
performance of it. The following Monday they met and agreed to pay
Mignon a call that evening. They also agreed not to announce to her
beforehand their purposed visit to her. It would be wisest to hazard the
chance of finding her at home.

Their hearts beat a trifle faster, however, when at eight o’clock that
evening they proceeded up the wide stone walk leading to the La Salles’
veranda. In just what fashion Mignon, were she at home, would receive
the counsel they had decided must be imparted to her, was something
which they could not foretell.

“Br-rr!” shivered Jerry as Marjorie pressed the electric bell. “I hope
she isn’t at home.”

“I don’t.” Marjorie spoke firmly. “I’d rather see her to-night and have
it over with.”

The opening of the door by a maid cut short further conversation between
them. She ushered them into the drawing room with the information that
“Miss Mignon” was at home. Inviting them to be seated, she disappeared
to acquaint the French girl with their arrival.

Hardly had they seated themselves when the sound of Mignon’s voice
raised in sharp question floated down to them from the head of the wide
hall staircase. Followed the patter of light descending feet, announcing
to them that the dread moment was approaching.

“Good evening.” Mignon’s black brows lifted themselves ironically as she
beheld her unexpected callers. “This is really a surprise!” Her elfish
eyes roved challengingly from one girl to the other.

“Good evening, Mignon.” Marjorie’s calm salutation betrayed nothing of
her inner trepidation.

“How are you, Mignon?” was all Jerry said. She, too, had sensed
hostility in her hostess’ satirical exclamation.

“I was taking a look at my French lesson for to-morrow when I heard the
door-bell. French, of course, is very easy for me. I need hardly to
glance at a lesson before I know it.” Mignon’s sharp chin raised itself
a trifle as she made this boast.

“Yes; you have the advantage of the rest of us,” conceded Marjorie
honestly. “French is quite hard for me. The poetry is so difficult to
translate.”

“Were you girls at the nursery this afternoon?” inquired Mignon suavely.
She was wondering mightily what had occasioned their call.

“No. It was Muriel’s and Irma’s turn to go this afternoon. Jerry and I
are to take ours on Friday. What afternoon are you to have, and which
one of the girls is to go with you? Irma has the list of names. I
haven’t seen it,” Marjorie added.

Mignon shrugged her shoulders. “Oh, I was asked to be on duty Thursday
afternoon. I didn’t inquire who was to help me amuse those tiresome slum
youngsters.” She tossed her head with elaborate unconcern. A scornful
smile played about her lips. “It really doesn’t matter, though. I shall
not be there. I am going out of town on Wednesday evening and shall not
return until late Thursday night. I must tell Irma not to count on me
this week.”

An awkward silence followed this announcement. Jerry frowned but held
her peace. Marjorie’s brown eyes showed a faint sparkle of indignation.
Mignon’s slighting reference to the nursery children angered her. No
trace of her displeasure lurked in her voice, however, as she said
evenly: “I am willing to take your place on Thursday, Mignon.”

“Suit yourself.” Mignon’s shoulders again went into ready play. “I
imagine you girls will find that day nursery a white elephant. It will
cost the club more time and money than it is worth. It will keep the
Lookouts hustling to supply funds for it. The sum of money we now have
in the treasury won’t last long at the rate it is being spent.”

“We have thought of a way to put more money in our treasury,” was
Marjorie’s quiet assurance.

Jerry’s round blue eyes focussed themselves upon her friend, amazement
in their depths. Surely Marjorie did not intend to put Mignon in
possession of the Campfire project before the rest of the Lookouts knew
it? Marjorie, however, had been visited by a swift flash of inspiration.
In view of the prospective Campfire, Mignon might receive the rebuke
about to be delivered in a more chastened spirit than she would
otherwise exhibit. She was not likely to cut off her nose to spite her
face.

“What do you mean?” Alert interest leaped into Mignon’s face. “What is
your new plan?”

Marjorie outlined briefly the money-making scheme which Hal Macy had
conceived.

“And will there be a show every night?”

“Yes; Laurie Armitage is going to arrange a little revue.”

“Is he really!” Mignon leaned forward, an eager figure of anticipation.
“Do you know who is to take part in it?”

“Nothing definite has been decided yet.” Marjorie could scarcely repress
a smile. Mignon’s question patently indicated what was in her mind.

“I wonder if he will ask——” Tardily realizing that she was betraying
undue eagerness, Mignon checked herself.

She had said enough, however, to give Marjorie the desired opportunity.
“I think Laurie ought to ask you to take part in his revue, Mignon. You
sang beautifully in the Rebellious Princess. I suppose he would rather
choose the girls for it from among the Lookouts. But he said last night
that he was going to be very sure that those he asked to help him would
work together without friction.”

“Are you accusing me of being a trouble-maker?” Mignon sprang to her
feet, her black eyes snapping with anger. “I want you to understand——”

“Please allow me to go on with what I was about to say,” came the
dignified interruption.

“I will not——” began Mignon. Her furious tone changing to one of
sullenness, she muttered, “Well, say it.”

“I know you won’t like to hear this, but it must be said. Laurie intends
to ask Veronica Browning to take part in the revue. She dances very
cleverly and is sure to please the audience. I know that you don’t like
Veronica, simply because she is poor,” Marjorie went on bravely. “I
know, too, that you have said unkind things about her to others. I have
learned that you circulated the report that she was paid to come to
Jerry’s Hallowe’en party and dance. This was not the case. She offered
to dance at Jerry’s of her own free will. She did not remain for the
party, simply because she did not wish to do so. If you take part in the
revue and Veronica agrees to be in it, too, then you will have to treat
her with courtesy and make no slighting remarks about her behind her
back. Should you do so, and were Laurie to hear of it, he would be very
angry.”

“That for your servant girl!” Mignon snapped derisive fingers. “I shall
say whatever I please to her or about her.”

“Then you are not a true Lookout,” condemned Marjorie sternly. “Every
time you make an unkind remark about Veronica or in fact anyone else,
you are breaking the Golden Rule. We all promised to live up to it. As
an officer of the club, you are especially bound to do so. I came here
to-night on purpose to remind you of that promise. It is not fair in you
to lay the Lookouts open to censure. You are not playing fairly with
yourself, either.”

“Thank you for your kind consideration of me,” retorted Mignon in
shrill, furious tones. “I know just how sincere it is.”

“It is sincere.” Marjorie’s low, harmonious accents contrasted sharply
with Mignon’s high-pitched tones. “It has been hard for me to tell you
these things. I have done so because I am trying to warn you before it
is too late. Aside from Jerry and me there are only two other girls in
the club who would stand by you if you got into trouble through your own
mischief-making. The others would simply demand your resignation.”

“You needn’t count on me to stand by you, Mignon, if you keep up your
back-biting about Veronica,” flashed Jerry. She had reached the limit of
silence. “I’d have asked you to resign before this if it hadn’t been for
Marjorie. You make me tired. Why can’t you let well enough alone? You’re
an officer in the Lookouts. If you behave yourself you can shine in the
revue. You’ll gain more by keeping your opinions of Veronica to
yourself.”

Astonishment at this blunt advice tied Mignon’s tongue for an instant.
Secretly she had always been afraid of plain-spoken Jerry Macy. The
stout girl had the disconcerting faculty of coming to the point with a
vengeance. Her arguments were too clinching to be easily refuted.
Marjorie’s earnest speech had had small effect upon Mignon. Jerry had
outlined her shaky position in a few brusque words, the truth of which
struck home.

Having met her match, Mignon resorted to the world-old feminine
artifice. Flinging herself down on a brocade settee she burst into
tears. They were not tears of remorse; merely an outward expression of
baffled rage. Justly accused, she was overcome by the knowledge of her
own inability to clear herself.

Jerry eyed her with patent disgust. “Crocodile tears,” was her
uncharitable thought. Marjorie, on the contrary, was moved to pity.
Rising, she crossed the room to where Mignon sat huddled on the settee,
her face hidden in her hands. Laying a gentle hand on the bowed
shoulders, Marjorie said soothingly: “Don’t cry, Mignon. Please try to
think of Jerry and me as your friends. We have your interests at heart
as well as Veronica’s. I am sure that if you will try to know her, you
will find her a delightful girl. No one knows that Jerry and I intended
to speak to you about her. No one will ever know. All I am asking you to
do is to give both yourself and Veronica a fair chance.”

Mignon answered only with a fresh burst of sobs. This time they were not
genuine. Under pretence of weeping, her active mind was already at work,
endeavoring to decide what she had best do. To resign from the club
would profit her nothing. Once out of it, she would not only miss all
the good times in prospect, but also find herself completely out of
touch with the members. Far from accepting Marjorie’s rebuke in the
spirit in which it had been offered, she now yearned for revenge upon
this priggish, goody-goody who had dared to remind her of her
shortcomings. Yet how could she retaliate if she deliberately cut
herself off from her intended victim? Taking a leaf from Rowena’s book
she resolved to bring craft to her aid. She would pretend to fall in
with Marjorie’s scheme of conduct. Afterward——

Raising her head with a jerk she said with well-simulated meekness: “I
believe you are right, Marjorie. Please give me another chance to show
you that I can be a true Lookout.” With an air of deep penitence she
held out her hand to Marjorie.

“I am glad you can say that, Mignon.” Marjorie’s hand went out
instantly. “Now let us forget all about the disagreeable part. It has
been hard for all of us. There is just one thing more I’d like to say.
If after you have tried to like Veronica you find that you can’t, then
no one will be to blame. We cannot expect others always to see our
friends as we see them. You have a perfect right to like or dislike
anyone you please. All I ask is——”

“I _will_ try to like her for your sake, Marjorie,” Mignon interrupted
with deceitful sweetness. Immediately changing the subject, she began to
regale Marjorie with an account of a near accident she had had that day
while driving her runabout.

“I think we’d better go,” Jerry announced sharply. She had had quite
enough of Mignon and was not impressed by the erring one’s miraculous
repentance. She doubted its sincerity, and she could hardly refrain from
saying so. She had sat silent and uncompromising during the scene,
making no move toward offering a rehabilitating hand. Mignon’s swift
change of the subject disgusted her even more. She understood the reason
for it if Marjorie did not.

Mignon sent a covert glance toward this stony-faced third party whom she
feared. She knew that Jerry was quite out of sympathy with her. She
longed to say something particularly cutting to the stout girl but
caution warned her to silence.

“Yes, we must go.” Marjorie still stood beside the settee that held
Mignon. Now she turned to the latter who had made no move to rise and
again held out her hand. “Good night, Mignon,” she said. “Don’t forget
the club meeting to-morrow evening.”

Reluctantly Mignon rose to perform the parting civilities which courtesy
demanded.

“Good night, Mignon.” Jerry was already half way to the door when she
spoke.

“Good night.” Mignon cast a spiteful look toward the stout girl.
Following her callers into the hall, she saw them to the door with
little enthusiasm. She was longing for them to go and could scarcely
forbear slamming the unoffending portal in their faces. Closing it
behind them with spiteful force, she clenched her hands in an excess of
passionate fury. “Idiots!” she raged. “How dared they come here and
humiliate me? They’ll be sorry! Just wait!”

Half way down the walk the reform committee heard the slam of the door.

“Hear that?” asked Jerry savagely. “That’s the real Mignon. Look out for
her. You made a mistake when you said what you did about her being free
to like or dislike Ronny. You gave her a chance to hit back.”

“But I said afterward that all I asked of her was——” Marjorie stopped.
“Why, Jerry, I _didn’t_ say the most important part of my sentence.
Mignon interrupted me. Then she began talking about her runabout and I
didn’t finish it. I thought she changed the subject because she was
dreadfully embarrassed.”

“Of course, she interrupted you.” Jerry grew increasingly scornful. “She
knew you’d said just enough to be useful to her. She hasn’t any
intention of trying to like Ronny. She’ll treat her just the same as
ever. If you say anything about it to her again, she will laugh and
quote your own words to you. We might better have stayed at home for all
the good we’ve done.”

“Don’t borrow trouble, Jeremiah.” Marjorie linked an affectionate arm in
Jerry’s. “I think we’ve done a little good to-night. Mignon will be
careful what she says or does for a while. She doesn’t care to resign
from the club, else she would have said so to-night. She wants to be in
the revue, too. Telling her what Laurie said sounded rather like
threatening her, but I had to do it.”

“There is no cure for Mignon,” stated Jerry shortly, “and this is the
last time I’ll help play doctor. There’s just one consolation, though.
Give her enough rope and she’ll hang herself.”



CHAPTER XV—THE FULFILLMENT OF THE PLAN


The Lookouts met the next evening at Muriel Harding’s home, and the
Campfire project was received with acclamation. Nearly everyone present
had a suggestion to tender that would go toward making the affair a
success. The decision regarding the number of booths and what each
should offer for sale had been left to the Lookouts. After much
discussion they agreed upon a number of attractions which were
calculated to meet the approval of the residents of Sanford. Not wishing
to solicit donations from those on whose attendance they counted, it was
difficult to plan features that would yield the largest profit for the
smallest outlay of money. Unsolicited donations would be thankfully
received. As a matter of fact the mothers and fathers of the members had
already offered their help.

One booth would be devoted to the sale of homemade candy, which the
mothers of the Lookouts had agreed to contribute. Another would offer
hand-painted postcards, pledged by the artistic element of the club.
There was also to be a gypsy fortune-teller, a fish pond, a lemonade
stand, an ice cream and cake booth, fruit and flower booth, a huge
pumpkin on which guesses were to be sold regarding the exact number of
seeds it contained, and various other artful attractions which would
cost little and yield much profit. It was also deemed advisable to ask
the members of the senior class to help at the various booths.

The Sanford Guards had held a meeting on the preceding evening and Hal
had informed Jerry of their willingness to take half of the work of
preparation on their shoulders. Besides Laurie’s revue, they would offer
a funny side show, a shooting gallery, a patriotic booth, as well as
furnishing nightly an exhibition of military maneuvers. Jerry duly
reported this to the Lookouts, who were well-satisfied. Thanksgiving
fell on the twenty-seventh of November. As it was the evening of the
fourth on which the meeting was held, the need for swift action became
imminent.

“We’ll have to hustle if we are going to do all we’ve planned to do in
the next three weeks,” was Jerry’s unofficial reminder. “We have to go
to school, you know, and we can’t neglect the day nursery. We’ll have to
buy some of the postcards. You girls can never turn out enough in three
weeks to supply the demand. The candy and cakes our mothers will take
care of, thank goodness. Still, we ought to buy a certain amount of
boxed candy. The boys will see to the tents and the counters and such
things. Hal says that the military tents the Guards use aren’t large
enough. Most of the boys have larger ones of their own that they use to
go camping. They will be best for booths. It’s a good thing the Armory
is such a whale—I mean, such a large place.”

“We can’t afford to waste a minute,” nodded Muriel Harding. “It’s a good
thing, too, that we are out of basket ball this year. I am glad of it.
Last year killed my ambition to play.”

“Miss Davis is having her own troubles in making up the teams,” informed
Daisy Griggs. “The sophs who played on Rowena Farnham’s team last year
all refused to try for the junior team. Nellie Simmons told a girl that
she wouldn’t play basket ball again for a hundred dollars. I guess the
scolding Miss Archer gave them last year was a little too much for
them.”

“I am very sorry there is no senior team,” declared Mignon with a
defiant toss of her head. “Basket ball is about the only thing worth
while in Sanford High. I think it is very sweet in Miss Davis to try so
hard to keep it alive after what she had to endure last year.”

“Whatever she had to stand from the players was her own fault,” flashed
Susan Atwell heatedly. “If she hadn’t—— Oh, I forgot—— I’m a Lookout.”
Susan subsided with a blush and a giggle.

Mignon’s black eyes gleamed. Others beside herself, it seemed, could
gossip. Daisy Griggs and Susan Atwell were both guilty of back-biting.
Realizing her advantage she promptly seized it. “It is because I _am_ a
Lookout that I am defending Miss Davis. It is hardly fair, I think, to
gossip about her behind her back.”

“I’d just as soon say it to her face,” sputtered Susan.

“Suppose we drop the subject of basket ball,” suggested Jerry
significantly. “We have other things more important to discuss.”

Mignon opened her lips as though about to make hot reply. Reconsidering,
she contented herself with an inimitable shrug that spoke volumes. For
once she had scored. She would treasure the knowledge against a time of
need. Supremely satisfied with herself, she entered into the further
discussion of the Campfire with deceitful amiability. Only one person
utterly refuted it. Jerry Macy was not to be deceived for a moment.
Unknown to Marjorie, she had determined to constitute herself a
vigilance committee of one to keep tab on Mignon. She was entirely
through with Mignon and she vengefully hoped that the figurative hanging
she had prophesied would soon take place.

The next three weeks found the Lookouts engaged in a whirl of day
nursery, Campfire and school. Naturally the Campfire movement
predominated their interest. Had they undertaken it alone, they could
never have carried it to completion in so short a period of time. The
Guards, headed by Laurie, Hal and Danny Seabrooke, proved able
coadjutors, and the project took definite shape with a rush.

The Campfire was scheduled to open on Thanksgiving evening, and the
excited promoters of it hurried through with their Thanksgiving dinners
in order to spend the afternoon in putting the final touches to its
various attractions. In a small city like Sanford, advertising the
affair had been a simple matter. For two weeks beforehand it had been
the main topic of conversation in the two high schools. Gay posters
announcing it were prominently placed in several of the largest stores.
Typed notices ornamented the locker rooms in both high schools, the
pupils of which straightway constituted themselves as ardent
news-carriers. This in itself was an infallible method of advertising.

As for the big Armory, it hardly knew itself. A festive collection of
tents opened in front to their widest extent, lined three sides of it.
At the upper end, at the right of the platform, a palm-screened
enclosure had been arranged to hold the Sanford orchestra. Despite the
amount of room the booths took up, the space enclosed by them was large.
During the early part of the evening it would be used for the military
maneuvers. These over it would be turned into a dancing floor. An
admission fee of thirty-five cents would be levied at the door, and the
spectators would view the entertainment provided from the gallery which
extended around three sides of the drill floor.

The Lookouts, in their prettiest evening frocks, assisted by their
senior sisters, were to preside over the booths the club had fitted out
as their part of the undertaking. The Guards were to look after their
own special contributions and act as ushers and program distributors.
Colonel Dearborn, a United States Army veteran, the only Sanford
survivor of the Civil War, would open the Campfire with a speech of
welcome. Captain Baynes, the drill master of the Sanford Guards, was
also down for a speech. The latter had received injuries in the
Spanish-American war which incapacitated him for further active service
in the army. His enthusiasm unquenched, he had organized the Sanford
Guards and devoted himself assiduously to their training. He was greatly
liked and respected by the Weston High School lads, who had vigorously
pleaded for a few words from him to complete the opening ceremonies.
Miss Archer had been unanimously chosen by the Lookouts as their
representative speaker.

Owing to lack of time, Laurie’s revue would begin at eight o’clock, and
last an hour. Constance and Mignon were down on the program for songs.
Veronica was to dance, Danny Seabrooke was to demonstrate his agility in
a comic juggling act. Laurie and Hal were to display themselves as
scientific handlers of fencing foils, while the Crane was to do a funny
eccentric dance which he could perform to perfection. Muriel, Susan,
Rita Talbot and three Weston High School boys were to contribute a
pretty singing and dancing number. Greatly to his discomfiture, Laurie
had received numerous requests to play on his violin, and had
reluctantly consented to render a solo as the concluding number of the
revue. The Weston High Glee Club were to open the performance. The revue
was to be followed by ten minutes of military maneuvers, a different
drill to be given each night. Then the spectators were to be cordially
invited to descend and spend their money.

“I can almost believe I’m a real soldier,” Marjorie confided to
Constance, when at half past seven o’clock Thanksgiving evening the two
girls stepped into the patriotically decorated Armory which presented a
gay and busy aspect. Wherever her eyes chanced to rest she saw the
khaki-clad figures of the Guards, their uniforms patterned after those
of the regular United States Army.

“It’s inspiring, isn’t it?” Constance, looking very lovely in her pale
blue and silver frock, gazed eagerly about her. Standing beside
Marjorie, who was wearing her peachblow gown, the two young girls made a
pretty picture, as more than one gallant guardsman was ready to testify.

“I do hope everything will go beautifully.” Marjorie clasped her hands
fervently. “I have made up my mind that our booth must sell every single
box of candy. Irma is sweet among the flowers, isn’t she? The flower
booth just suits her. All the girls look lovely. Lucy Warner is a dear
in that soft, white gown. She’s a good person to have in the postcards.”

“Now what are you two talking about?” Unobserved, Jerry Macy had stolen
up behind them.

“Oh, hello, Jeremiah! How nice you look!” Marjorie reached out to pat
Jerry’s plump shoulder. “That white net gown is so becoming.”

“It’ll do,” conceded Jerry gruffly. According to her own statement,
praise always made her “feel foolish.” “You and Connie are pretty likely
to drag down a few bouquets,” she generously added.

“We’ll do.” Constance mischievously mimicked Jerry.

“Now that we’ve changed compliments, I’ll throw a few bouquets at the
shrine of the Lookouts,” grinned Jerry. “We certainly deserve a lot of
credit, and we owe a loud vote of thanks to our fathers and mothers. If
it hadn’t been for them we wouldn’t have half the stuff for the booths
that’s in them now. When this thing is over, the Lookouts must send
personal letters of thanks to all who’ve helped us.”

“We surely must,” chorused Marjorie and Constance.

The Lookouts were indeed indebted to their elders. Mr. Macy, Mr. La
Salle and Miss Allison had been especially liberal with monetary gifts,
while the fathers of the members in less affluent circumstances had each
“done their bit.” The mothers, too, had become loyal candy and cake
makers, not to mention the many other services they had rendered
ungrudgingly. Anxious to encourage their children to the performance of
worthy work, these broad-minded men and women believed it to be their
duty to assist the young enthusiasts in every possible way.

“I’m glad we gave Mignon that lemonade job,” commented Jerry, her round
eyes wandering to where the big punch bowl stood, thus far minus the
French girl’s presence. “She’ll be off by herself where she can’t stir
up trouble. She’ll have to stay there, too, when the revue’s over. I
calculated on that when I asked her to take charge of the lemonade bowl.
She doesn’t know that she’s going to be off in a corner away from the
rest of the girls. I didn’t tell her. Maybe she’ll be mad when she finds
out. I can’t help it. I hope she will get here on time. It’s just like
her to come straggling in late so everyone will see her.”

“Jerry, you are breaking the Golden Rule,” reminded Marjorie.

“Oh, I’m only bending it,” retorted Jerry good-humoredly. “Besides, you
two girls don’t count. I must say whatever I think to you. To others I
am a clammy clam. Hello! There she comes now. I must say she looks like
a lemon in that yellow frock. It’s the exact color of one.”

“She is really stunning!” Marjorie exclaimed generously. “That pale
yellow chiffon frock is quite suited to her. It brings out her black
eyes and hair.”

“Handsome is as handsome does,” Jerry made skeptical response. “I must
leave you now to break the sad news to her. If, in about three minutes,
you see her looking like a thundercloud you’ll know the reason.”

Jerry sauntered away to deliver the fateful information to Mignon. The
eyes of the two friends meeting, Marjorie made a gesture of dissent.
“I’d rather not watch to see how she takes it. It doesn’t seem quite
fair. Jerry didn’t stop to think or she wouldn’t have said that. As I’m
not in the revue I had better go to my booth.”

“I must hurry behind the scenes,” said Constance. “It’s ten minutes to
eight now and my song comes third on the program.”

With this the two girls separated, Constance heading in the direction of
a room at the left of the Armory, nearest to the platform. From it the
girl performers made their entrance to the improvised stage. The room on
the right had been given over to the boys, Marjorie walked slowly toward
the candy booth. When half way to it she heard someone call her name.
Glancing in the direction of the post card booth, she saw Lucy Warner
beckoning eagerly to her. A happy light radiated from the girl’s usually
austere features. Her bluish-green eyes sparkled with pleasure. Lucy was
childishly delighted to have the opportunity to assist in so important
an affair as the Campfire. She felt that she owed this happiness
directly to Marjorie.

“Oh, Marjorie!” she exclaimed, as her friend reached the booth. “It’s
wonderful! I can’t really believe that this good time has come to me!
And I have you to thank for it all! I hope some day to be able to show
you how much I appreciate your friendship.”

“I’m ever so glad to see you so bright and happy, Lucy,” Marjorie made
earnest response. “You must thank yourself for your good time, though.
You are a faithful Lookout. This is only the beginning. There are lots
of good times ahead of you.”

Before Lucy could reply, Hal Macy appeared at Marjorie’s elbow with,
“Veronica’s here. She’s in the girls’ dressing room. She wants to see
you.”

“I’ll come back later, Lucy.” With a friendly nod, Marjorie turned to
accompany Hal across the polished floor. A happy smile played about her
lips. Whatever the Lookouts might eventually set down to their further
credit, they had certainly succeeded in bringing happiness to Lucy
Warner.



CHAPTER XVI—A PUZZLING YOUNG PERSON


“Veronica Browning!” Marjorie cried out admiringly. “You magnificent
person. Where, oh where, did you get that wonderful, I won’t say gown,
I’ll say robe? Certainly you never walked through the streets of Sanford
in _that_.”

“Oh, no, I ordered a——” Veronica checked herself, looking vexed. “Miss
Archer insisted that I should come in a taxicab,” she explained shortly.

“It’s a marvelous robe.” Noting Veronica’s abrupt chopping off of her
first sentence, and the frown that accompanied it, Marjorie hastily
returned to the exquisite garment Veronica was wearing. It was of soft,
dead black crêpe de chine, and fell away from her dazzlingly white
throat and shoulders in long, graceful lines. Very full, it swept the
floor ending in a border of stars and crescent moons, outlined in dull
silver. The ample sleeves, edged in the same silver design, dropped away
from her round white arms, giving a wing-like effect. Over her golden
brown hair was banded a fillet of silver. A quaintly-wrought pendant in
the form of a crescent depended from it and lay directly on the center
of her forehead.

“You look like—let me see—a painting of ‘Night’ that I once saw!” cried
Marjorie, triumphantly recalling it in time to make the comparison. “But
what are you going to do with those black and orange wings?” Marjorie
was intently eyeing a small pair of black and orange wings that dangled
from Veronica’s arm.

“I am the Night, the silvery, shadowy Night,” declaimed Veronica gaily,
one white arm raised aloft. “I am going to give you a dance called
‘Night.’ Hence this somber robe. No, the wings don’t belong to Night.
Underneath this black pall, I am a glorious black and orange butterfly.
I am to do two dances; ‘Butterfly’ will follow ‘Night.’ I can rid myself
of this black thing in about one minute or even less. As I come next to
you on the program, Connie, I will ask you to wait after your song and
fasten on my wings. Here they are.”

“Where did you learn to dance, Veronica?” queried Marjorie
thoughtlessly. Instantly she regretted having asked the question.
Hastily she added: “That was rather a personal question. Perhaps I
shouldn’t——”

“Oh, I don’t object to telling _you_, Marjorie.” A faintly amused smile
dawned upon Veronica’s lips. “I have known how to dance ever since I was
a child. Most of my dances like ‘Night’ and ‘Butterfly’ I made up. The
Shadow dance I learned from seeing it done by another person. I used
to——” Again the provoking break in her speech occurred.

Marjorie’s face fell. Why did Veronica always pause in the middle of
what promised to be an interesting revelation? What an extremely
peculiar girl she was. She could not refrain from wondering, too, at the
beautiful robe that this charming but tantalizing young person wore. It
must have cost a considerable sum of money. Yet Veronica appeared to
regard it with the carelessness of one who was accustomed to the best of
everything. Perhaps she had at one time been possessed of wealth and had
met with sudden reverses. Still, it was hardly likely that, given such a
contingency, she would now be so humbly earning her living and
education. Marjorie’s swift cogitations ended in a sigh of defeat at her
inability to reconcile lowly Veronica with her handsome dancing dress.

Veronica’s voice, quivering with suppressed laughter, broke in upon her
perplexed meditations. “Now you are wondering all sorts of things about
me,” she guessed, flashing a tender glance at Marjorie. “Never mind.
Some day I may be able to set all your doubts at rest.”

“It isn’t a question of doubts, Ronny.” Marjorie returned the other
girl’s glance with one of equal affection. “I haven’t a single doubt
about you. It’s only that sometimes you puzzle me.”

“I know I do. There are certain things——”

The arrival of Constance cut short what bade fair to have been a
confidence on Veronica’s part. Directly behind Constance came Mignon La
Salle. Her black eyes widened as she caught sight of Veronica. As
Constance warmly greeted the latter the French girl continued to stare
at the black-garbed figure as though unable to believe her own eyesight.

“Good evening,” she said stiffly, inclining her haughty head very
formally to Veronica. “Sorry to intrude. I thought I might find
Geraldine here.”

“Didn’t you see her when you came in?” asked Marjorie in surprise.

“Oh, yes. I saw her then, but I wish to tell her something.” Mignon
tossed her head. Unable to keep her grievance to herself she continued
angrily: “I must have the lemonade bowl moved to one of the booths. I
don’t like the present location of it. When Geraldine,” she loftily
refused to shorten it to Jerry, “mentioned it to me, I didn’t pay any
particular attention to what she was saving. I wish I had. At any rate,
it will have to be moved.”

Blank silence succeeded this declaration. Veronica was not in touch with
the situation and therefore had nothing to say. Constance and Marjorie
knew only too well that stolid Jerry would not yield to Mignon’s whim.
This knowledge robbed them both of ready speech.

The sonorous voice of Colonel Dearborn raised in an address of welcome
was borne to their ears as a timely bridge over the embarrassing
situation.

“The Campfire has begun,” snapped Mignon. “I must find Geraldine.” She
flaunted from the room, a disgruntled flash of yellow.

“I must go, too.” Marjorie walked to the open door. “I’ll see you both
later. Are you going to stay for the dance, Ronny?”

“No.” Veronica shook her head. “Like Cinderella, I must flit away from
the ball as soon as I have danced.” She breathed a faint sigh of regret,
then smiled mockingly. “Such social pleasures are not for a poor servant
girl.”

Marjorie left the dressing room with these words still in her ears.
Taking up her position in the booth she forced herself to forget
puzzling Veronica for the moment and gave herself over to listening to
the speeches. She had missed the most of the old Colonel’s brief,
soldier-like address, so she paid strict heed to those of Captain Baynes
and Miss Archer.

When they had retired, to the sound of hearty applause from the
overflowing gallery, the Weston High Glee Club lifted up their tuneful
voices in the first number of the revue. Danny Seabrooke followed them
with a clever juggling act. Marjorie’s heart beat high with love and
pride as Connie stepped serenely onto the stage, with the quiet
composure that so individualized her, and awaited the prelude to her
song played by Professor Harmon. To Marjorie it seemed as though she had
never heard Connie sing more sweetly. The song she had chosen was
particularly beautiful and her clear, pure notes held a world of pathos
that went straight to the heart. Abiding by Laurie’s mandate she refused
to respond to an encore, though the audience clamored persistently for
it.

Unknown to Marjorie, a curious bit of drama had preceded the dance by
Veronica, to which she was impatiently looking forward. Lawrence
Armitage had met Veronica when she entered the Armory, enveloped in a
long black cloak, and courteously conducted her to the girls’ dressing
room. It being his duty to call each act, he was kept busy between the
two dressing rooms. As Constance was finishing her song, he hurried to
the left-hand dressing room and rapped on the half-open door. From
within he heard the sound of cheerful voices and light laughter. Muriel,
Susan and Rita, the feminine half of the sextette which was to follow
Veronica’s dance, had gathered there and were chatting gaily with the
pretty dancer.

“Come,” called Muriel Harding.

Entering, Laurie’s eyes became suddenly riveted on Veronica. A perplexed
frown sprang to his brow. He was again obsessed with the conviction that
he had previously seen her in this very costume. His puzzlement deepened
as he stepped to the door and held it open for her. Catching up a fold
of her voluminous robe, she smiled and made him a saucy little curtsey
of thanks. Only a few feet intervened between the door and the three
steps leading up to the platform. A row of tall potted palms had been
set on each side of it, so as to partially conceal the entrance and exit
of each performer. The quaint curtsey of the black-garbed girl caused
truant recollection to sweep over Laurie in a flood. “Now I know where I
first saw you!” he exclaimed in a low, triumphant tone. Like a flash
Veronica laid a warning finger to her lips. “Keep it a secret,” she
breathed as she flitted by him. The next instant she had scurried up the
three steps and onto the platform, leaving behind her a most amazed
young man.

A subdued breath of wondering admiration stirred the audience upstairs
and down as this lovely apparition of Night glided to the center of the
stage. For a brief instant she tarried there, raising her white arms and
lowering them with a slow, sweeping gesture that gave the effect of
darkness suddenly dropping down upon the earth. Then the orchestra
sounded a soft sighing prelude and the black and silver figure circled
the stage like a floating, elusive shadow. Few persons in that
assemblage had ever before witnessed an interpretative dance such as
Veronica performed. It was as though she had become embued with the very
spirit of Night and sought to impress it upon her audience. Every
movement and gesture was replete with meaning. She brought to the
imagination that stir of supreme mystery with which one often watches
the darkness gather and the first stars of the evening begin to twinkle
in the firmament. At the end of it she exited with a quick, gliding run,
arms horizontally outstretched, hands holding up the loose folds of her
robe, a veritable winged Night itself rushing swiftly on toward dawn.

Before the first wild echo of applause had spent itself, she was back on
the stage, miraculously metamorphosed into a gorgeous black and orange
butterfly. She proceeded to give the Sanfordites a spectacle in toe
dancing worthy a premiere. Even as she had put the soul of the Night
itself into her previous dance, now she truly resembled a huge
butterfly, sailing joyously about in the sunshine. The perfection of her
interpretation took the audience by storm. When she disappeared, or
rather fluttered from the stage, a tumult of approbation set in. Laurie
was obliged to mount the platform and explain that Miss Browning would
not respond to an encore, before quiet was again restored and the
sextette made its appearance.

Although the remaining numbers of the revue each received a generous
mead of approval, the honors of the performance were decidedly
Veronica’s. Even Constance, for once, held second place. The grace and
originality of the former’s interpretations had aroused enthusiasm on
all sides.

There was one person, however, who had not been pleasantly impressed by
Veronica’s dancing. Mignon La Salle was enraged beyond measure at the
triumph of “that servant girl.” Her own solo, as usual a difficult
French song which few present had understood and could therefore only
mildly appreciate, had been received with a far lesser degree of
enthusiasm than she had confidently expected. She blamed Marjorie Dean,
who had helped Laurie arrange the program, for placing her song so near
to the end of the revue. She was also furious with Jerry Macy. The stout
girl had calmly refused to place the lemonade bowl in one of the booths,
explaining that, as it in itself was a feature, its present position
would not be bettered by moving it to a booth.

Completely out of sorts with the world in general, Mignon cherished a
lawless desire to swoop down upon the big cut glass lemonade bowl,
overturn it, send it crashing to the floor and fling the cups that
surrounded it, after it. Her second thought was to go to Jerry, refuse
to become a purveyor of lemonade and shake the dust of the Armory from
her disdainful feet. Crafty reflection whispered to her that this course
would be folly. Jerry would take her at her word and show little sorrow
at being thus deprived of her services. It behooved her to hit upon some
new method of retaliation which would doubly repay these hateful girls
for the fancied wrongs she had suffered at their hands. She vowed that
before the third and last evening of the bazaar had ended she would find
a way to do it.



CHAPTER XVII—CHOOSING A VICTIM


The military maneuvers by the Sanford Guards over, the well-pleased
spectators made an orderly rush for the big drill floor, there to take
more active part in the Campfire. Opening as it did on a national
holiday, everyone was in high good humor and willing to spend money. The
space reserved for the dancing had been roped in, leaving a good-sized
aisle all the way around the Armory between the ropes and the booths.
There was no room on the lower floor for chairs, but the gallery offered
a vantage point to those who preferred to become onlookers of the
dancing rather than take part in it.

That it had been a highly profitable evening became evident to the
Lookouts, when just before midnight they happily viewed their depleted
booths and fell to counting their gains. Everything had progressed with
unrivaled smoothness. Even Mignon’s black eyes glistened as she counted
the wealth of nickels and small silver which had accrued from the
despised lemonade bowl. She had taken in almost thirty dollars and
plumed herself accordingly. Jerry had been right in her calculation as
to the best place for the lemonade. Far from admitting it, Mignon merely
felt increasing bitterness toward Jerry.

Busy Jerry was quite unaware of Mignon’s dark sentiments toward herself.
Had she known of them, they would have caused her small anxiety. She was
too blissfully elated over the success of the Campfire to do anything
but rejoice loudly as she moved from booth to booth, a good-sized cash
box in hand, to collect the evening’s profits.

“It’s a howling success,” she caroled joyously, as she entered the candy
booth. Seated on a high stool Marjorie was too much absorbed in the
counting of little piles of money, from notes to pennies, to do more
than nod emphatically to this triumphant salutation.

“I believe almost everyone who was here to-night bought a box of candy,”
she said solemnly as she finished with a heap of nickels and marked down
the amount they made on a slip of paper. “We’ve taken in——” She
hurriedly calculated the joint receipts. “Would you believe it? I have
one hundred and two dollars here. If we keep on like this we won’t have
enough candy to last us over to-morrow night.”

“It’s pretty much the same in all the booths. You folks are quite a
little ahead of the others, though. You’re the original candy kid,
Marjorie. That’s not slang. It’s a compliment.”

“It sounds like both,” laughed Marjorie. “Wasn’t the revue fine, Jerry?
Did you ever before see anyone dance like Ronny. She’s a marvel. Not
that I liked her dancing a bit better than Connie’s singing,” she added
loyally, “but it was so entirely different from anything we’ve ever had
at a show. She told me to-night that she made up both those dances
herself.”

“She gets curiouser and curiouser,” commented Jerry. “One who didn’t
know could never be made to believe that such a gorgeous person was
working her way through high school. What puzzles me most is where—— I
guess I won’t say it. I’m a Lookout.”

“I know what you mean. I thought of it, too. It’s her own affair. We
mustn’t discuss it, or her, either.” Marjorie was equally bent on
loyalty.

“There’s something I’ve just got to say, though,” declared Jerry.
“Mignon behaved a lot better about the lemonade bowl than I thought. She
asked me to change the location of it. Of course I said ‘no.’ She looked
pretty stormy for a minute, then she said, ‘Have it your own way,’ and
walked off, shrugging her shoulders. I expected she’d make a fuss, and
for once she gave me a pleasant surprise. I hope she behaves like a
reasonable human being during the other two nights of the Campfire.”

It was on Marjorie’s tongue to relate to Jerry what Mignon had said in
the dressing room. Considering it in the light of gossip she refrained
from repeating it. She hastened to agree with Jerry that she also hoped
for the best regarding Mignon and let the subject drop.

Friday saw the Lookouts and the Guards early at the Armory, hard at work
preparing for the rush they trusted that evening would bring. There was
much to be done and they spent the day in indefatigable toil, going home
only long enough to snatch a hasty luncheon before returning to their
tasks. The program of the revue was to remain the same save for a change
of songs on the part of the vocalists. There were to be no addresses,
however, as on the opening night.

Their painstaking preparations were again rewarded by a crowd of
pleasure seekers almost as large as that of the previous evening. Again
everything slid gaily along as though on invisible wheels. Midnight
again ushered in the counting of large gains. Saturday proved an equally
busy day. The youthful promoters of the Campfire were troubled only by
the alarming possibility that their wares were sure to give out long
before the evening was over. They decided wisely to sell out every last
article of which the merchant booths boasted and let the dancing and
amusement booths do the rest.

Despite the work of the Campfire, the day nursery received its afternoon
quota of two Lookouts. It was an obligation which had to be met,
Campfire or no Campfire. Even Mignon La Salle, when asked if she would
do duty Saturday afternoon, acquiesced without a murmur, taking care to
inquire of Irma Linton, however, before committing herself, as to who
would be her partner in the enterprise. Her thoughts centered on the
Campfire, Irma had consulted her book and replied absently, “Lucy
Warner.” Nor did she note the peculiar gleam in the French girl’s eyes
as she answered suavely, “Very well, you may count on me to go with
her.”

The opportunity to hold a heart-to-heart talk with Lucy was something
for which Mignon had been vainly watching ever since the Hallowe’en
party. Due to Marjorie Dean’s discreet counsel, Lucy had not given the
French girl the slightest conversational opening. She had surrounded
herself with a wall of icy reserve which Mignon had found impregnable.
She was, therefore, secretly jubilant over the unexpected manner in
which Fortune had favored her. It was late Friday evening when Irma had
informed her of it and Lucy had already gone home. Irma had explained to
Mignon that it was really Jerry’s turn to go to the nursery, but owing
to her many duties at the Campfire she had asked for a substitute.

This accorded even better with Mignon’s plans. There was every
possibility that Lucy would know nothing of the substitution until it
would be too late to protest against it. Jerry, herself, was yet to be
reckoned with, however. Irma would undoubtedly inform Jerry that she,
Mignon, was to take her place. If Jerry took the trouble to inquire who
was to accompany Mignon she would promptly veto Lucy’s going. Yet there
was a fighting chance that busy Jerry might forget to ask this question.
Mignon hoped that she would. She also decided, that she would not put in
an appearance at the Armory on Saturday before going to the nursery. She
would telephone Irma in the morning that she could not go there before
night, but would be on hand at the nursery for her detail.

There are times when Fortune apparently leans kindly toward the
unworthy. In the long run, however, she generally deserts these
wrong-doers, leaving them to flounder miserably in the meshes of the
nets they have heartlessly set for others. For the time being, at least,
she had chosen to favor Mignon. Owing to a number of important letters
Lucy Warner had promised to write for Miss Archer, she had also arranged
to be away from the Armory until Saturday evening. She had planned to go
directly from the office to the day nursery, where she confidently
expected Jerry to meet her.

As for Jerry, she had thankfully received Irma’s promise to supply a
substitute and inquired no further into the matter. Had Marjorie or
Constance known of the arrangement Irma had innocently made, it would
have been changed. Caught up in the whirl of the Campfire, neither of
them remembered to question Irma regarding who was to do duty at the
nursery on Saturday. Thus for Mignon the field was miraculously cleared
of impediments.

When, at four o’clock, Lucy entered the playroom of the nursery, her
amazement can be better imagined than described. Instead of seeing
good-natured Jerry Macy, her displeased eyes rested on Mignon La Salle.
Bored indifference written on her sharp features, the French girl
lounged in a chair in a corner of the playroom, apparently with no
intent toward making herself useful. Strangely enough she was now the
only person in the room.

“Hello, Lucy,” she drawled. “You don’t seem pleased to see me.”

“I’m not,” snapped Lucy. “Where is Jerry Macy? _She_ is to be on duty
with me this afternoon.”

Mignon merely shrugged her shoulders by way of an answer.

“Where is she?” repeated Lucy, her brows knitting in their ready scowl.

“She won’t be here. Irma asked me to take her place. Any objections?”

“I am willing to abide by Irma’s decision.” It cost Lucy severe effort
to make this reply. “As you are to take Jerry’s place, suppose we start
at once to amuse the children. By the way, where _are_ they?”

“Out in the back yard. I sent them there and told that stupid maid to
look after them. They made too much noise. I couldn’t stand it.”

“It’s too cold for them to be out.” With a swift, reproachful glance
toward indolent Mignon, Lucy hurried to the back yard to attend to her
charges. Five minutes later she had hustled them into the playroom, a
shivering little band, and started a romping, childish game, calculated
to undo any bad effects which might otherwise result from Mignon’s
neglect.

Realizing that she could expect no help from the French girl, Lucy
ignored her and entered energetically into her work. A lover of
children, it was a pleasure to make them happy. One baby game followed
another until the twilight shadows began to thicken. Finally marshaling
them to their chairs at the table, she took her place among them and
told them fairy tales in a simple, lively fashion that quite enthralled
them.

Through it all, Mignon made no move to assist her. She simply sat still,
a smile of mocking amusement on her thin lips. Lucy Warner had found her
own level, was her uncharitable thought. As a mere nobody, she was quite
at home with these grubby, slum waifs. Undoubtedly Lucy was furious with
her for not helping entertain these beggars. Nevertheless, she was quite
sure that angry or not Lucy would listen to what she intended,
presently, to say. Six o’clock would mark the end of the detestable
session. Then—Mignon’s smile grew more malevolent as she noted that the
wall clock pointed to five minutes before six.

As it rang out the hour, the matron entered the kitchen. “You’d better
go now, Miss Lucy,” she said kindly. “I know you have to be at the
Armory by half past seven. The mothers of these babies will soon be
coming for them. I’ll look after them till then.”

“Thank you, Mrs. Taggart.” Lucy rose amid a chorus of hearty protest
from her charges. “Dood-bye,” and “Tum aden soon, nice lady,” greeted
her from all sides.

“I will,” she promised, nodding gaily toward her small worshippers.
Without glancing at Mignon she turned to the oak settle on which she had
laid her wraps and began to put them on. She was, indeed, deeply
incensed against Mignon. Should she or should she not inform Jerry Macy
of Mignon’s lack of co-operation? She hardly knew what to do about it.
On one point she was quite determined. She would not walk home with the
French girl. She would bid her a cool “good night” and hurry from the
house.

Mignon was of a different opinion. Seeing Lucy engaged in donning her
wraps, she lazily rose. Pettishly brushing aside a youngster who had
toddled up to her and clutched a fold of her gown, she hastily slipped
on her fur coat—she had not removed her hat—and hurried after Lucy. The
latter had already delivered her curt farewell and was out on the
veranda before Mignon overtook her.

“Wait a minute,” commanded Mignon. “I have something to tell you that
you _must_ listen to. You’ll understand that I mean well, the moment you
hear it. It’s a shame for you to be so deceived by Marjorie Dean. She——”

“I won’t listen to you.” Lucy’s smoldering anger flashed into instant
flame. “You can’t make me believe anything hateful of Marjorie. You are
only trying to make trouble.” Discretion overcome by wrath she continued
heatedly, “Marjorie herself warned me not to take your gossip seriously.
She knew that——”

“I’d tell you certain things she has said about you to me,” sneered
Mignon.

“Certain things? What do you mean?” Lucy’s too-suspicious nature now
sprang to the fore. This was the second time that Mignon had insinuated
that Marjorie had gossiped about her.

“After all, what’s the use of telling you?” Mignon craftily changed her
tactics with a view toward whetting Lucy’s morbid curiosity. “You’ll go
straight to Marjorie Dean with them. She will deny them, of course. Then
you will be down on me more than ever.”

“If you can tell me anything that will actually prove to me that
Marjorie Dean is not my friend, I promise you faithfully never to go to
her with it.” Lucy spoke with hurt intensity. “If she has been deceitful
with me, as you insist that she has, I will never willingly speak to her
again. But I am sure she is honorable and loyal. I can’t believe
otherwise,” she ended with a quick, sobbing breath.

“_That_ for her loyalty!” Mignon snapped her fingers. “What about the
Observer?”

Lucy shrank from Mignon as though the latter had dealt her a physical
blow. In the November twilight the paleness of her set face stood out
sharply. “Stop!” she gasped. Catching Mignon’s arm in a tense hold, she
planted herself squarely before her tormentor. “What—do—you—know—about
the Observer?” she stammered, her green eyes gleaming like those of a
cat.

Mignon laughed unpleasantly. “Not as much, perhaps, as _you_ know, but
enough. You were an idiot to ask Marjorie Dean’s forgiveness. She loves
to make persons believe they are in the wrong, so that she can have the
pleasure of forgiving them. She is really clever at that sort of thing.
She made poor Mary Raymond’s life miserable during that winter Mary
lived at the Deans. Mary was a silly to make up with her. Why, the very
day that Marjorie and I went to Miss Archer’s to see about getting you
the secretaryship, she mentioned the trouble you and she had last year.
She was quite cautious about it then and didn’t tell me much. Later I
found out about the Observer, though.”

Stunned by Mignon’s revelations, Lucy silently fought back the burning
tears that threatened to overflow her eyes. But one thought obscured her
sorely troubled mind. Marjorie Dean had cruelly betrayed her to Mignon.
She had pledged her word of honor never to reveal Lucy’s misdeed to
anyone, and she had broken her word. Utterly crushed, poor Lucy did not
stop to consider that Mignon was the least likely of all persons to whom
Marjorie would confide such a secret. She knew only that the mere
mention of the word “Observer” was clear proof of her false friend’s
perfidy. Over-suspicious by nature, she was prone to believe all persons
villains until they had given signal manifestation of their honesty. Nor
had she been long enough associated with Marjorie and her friends to
easily retreat from that unjust viewpoint.

“Don’t feel downhearted about it,” was Mignon’s sneering consolation.
“Now that your eyes have been opened to a few things, you can show
Marjorie Dean that you aren’t as dense as she seems to think you. I
don’t mind in the least about that Observer business. I dare say if you
told me your side of it I should find that it wasn’t anything very
dreadful. As for Marjorie Dean’s version, well——” Mignon made a
significant pause.

“I have nothing whatever to say on that subject,” was Lucy’s stiff
answer. She was vowing within herself that “Once bitten twice shy”
should hereafter be her motto. “I will say this much, though. You have
given me unmistakable proof that Marjorie Dean is not nor never was my
friend. I will keep my promise to you.”

Before Mignon had time to make reply, a rush of light feet on the
pavement informed her that Lucy had left her. Through the dusk she could
just distinguish a little figure fleeing madly up the quiet street. She
laughed softly as it turned a corner and disappeared. She had already
done much toward avenging the wrongs she had received at the hands of
Marjorie Dean.



CHAPTER XVIII—NOT AT HOME?


“Marjorie, have you seen Lucy Warner?” Jerry Macy stepped inside the
candy booth, her plump face alive with concern. “It’s half past eight
and she’s not here. The girls in her booth are wondering what has
happened to her.”

“Why, no, I haven’t.” Marjorie’s features mirrored Jerry’s anxious look.
“I know she had some work to do for Miss Archer this afternoon. She told
me so. She said, too, it was her turn at the nursery.”

“That’s so.” Jerry looked thoughtful. “I was to go there, too, but I was
so busy I asked Irma to appoint a substitute. I don’t know who went in
my place. I’d better see Irma and find out. Whichever Lookout took my
turn may know what’s keeping Lucy away.” Bustling off in search of Irma,
Jerry accosted her with: “Who subbed for me to-day at the nursery?”

“Mignon La Salle,” returned Irma placidly.

“What!” ejaculated Jerry. As the revue was in progress she cautiously
lowered her tone as she continued: “For goodness sake, Irma, why in the
world did you send Mignon? No wonder Lucy hasn’t put in an appearance!”

“What are you talking about, Jeremiah, and why should I not have sent
Mignon? Lucy is too sensible a girl to allow Mignon’s airs to annoy her,
if that’s what you are thinking of. Besides, Mignon was really nice
about saying she’d go,” defended Irma in a mildly injured tone.

“I don’t doubt it,” was Jerry’s satirical retort. “Don’t mind me, Irma.
I’m not blaming you for it. It’s just one of those beautiful
‘vicissitudes’ that are always bound to jump up and hit a person in the
face. Just like that!” Jerry made a comic gesture of despair and beat a
hasty course toward the candy booth.

“Well, I found out,” she groaned. “It was our dear Mignon. You can guess
the rest. Irma certainly did things up properly, that time. She didn’t
know what you and I know, or she wouldn’t have done it.”

“Mignon!” Marjorie’s brown eyes held a startled light. “Jerry, do you
suppose after all the warnings I’ve given Lucy that——”

“It looks suspicious,” interrupted Jerry. “I should think, though, that
a bright girl like Lucy Warner could easily see through Mignon. I guess
I’ll wait until the revue is over and then interview her ladyship. I may
find out a few things.”

“I wish you would,” A worried note had crept into Marjorie’s voice. “I
hope Mignon hasn’t hurt Lucy’s feelings again. Poor Lucy! She has been
so happy these last three days. Perhaps nothing like that has happened.
Maybe she was too tired to come here to-night. She has had a busy day.”

“Let’s hope that’s the reason.” Jerry’s reply did not convey a marked
degree of hopefulness. She was more than half convinced that Mignon was
responsible for Lucy’s non-appearance at the Campfire.

The military maneuvers at last concluded, Jerry kept a lynx eye on the
lemonade stand until she saw Mignon take up her position there. Marching
boldly over to it, the stout girl addressed her with an abrupt: “Thank
you for substituting for me at the nursery this afternoon. I understand
Lucy Warner was with you. Did she say anything to you about not being
able to come here to-night?” She stared hard at Mignon as she made this
inquiry.

“Not a word.” Mignon shook her head, the picture of wide-eyed innocence.
She was well aware of Lucy’s absence. In fact she had confidently
expected it. True, Lucy had not _said_ that she would remain away from
the Campfire. Still, Mignon had every reason to believe that she would.
She also realized the necessity for concealing that which she knew. Lucy
would never betray her. She had no inclination to betray herself.

“That’s queer.” Jerry stared harder than ever at Mignon. “What time did
she leave the nursery?”

“Six o’clock,” came the ready information, “We left the nursery
together. She walked part way home with me. I can’t recall that she even
mentioned the Campfire. She is such a peculiar girl. She does more
scowling than talking. I find it very hard to talk to her. We have so
little in common.” Mignon looked politely regretful as she delivered
these glib remarks.

“I guess that’s so.” Jerry’s dry agreement brought an ominous flash to
Mignon’s black eyes. She wondered what was going on behind her
inquisitor’s stolid features.

“Then you don’t know why Lucy isn’t here tonight?” Jerry drove home her
pertinent question with an energy that caused the angry red to mount to
Mignon’s cheeks.

“Why do you persist in asking me again what I have already answered?”
she evaded pettishly. “I am not Lucy Warner’s keeper. I have enough to
do to attend strictly to my own affairs without bothering myself about
her.”

“I am glad to hear you say so. I quite agree with you.” Turning on her
heel Jerry set off toward the candy booth, her heavy brows drawn
together in a ferocious scowl.

Before she reached it, Hal intercepted her with: “Miss Browning’s going
to stay for the dance. Last night Dan and Laurie and I made her promise
that she would stay this evening. She’s still in the girls’ dressing
room. Go and get her, Jerry. I’ll see that she has plenty of partners.
All the high school fellows will feel honored to dance with her. She’s
the biggest feature of the Campfire.”

Obediently betaking herself to the dressing room, Jerry discovered
Veronica in the act of changing her butterfly costume for a demure but
very smart pleated frock of dark blue Georgette crêpe.

“Are you surprised to know that Cinderella is going to stay for the
ball?” saluted Veronica merrily. “Sorry I haven’t an evening gown on
hand. This will have to do.” She fingered a fold of her blue gown.
“Really, I ought to go home, but I couldn’t resist accepting the
invitation to stay for a few dances.”

“I’m awfully glad you are going to stay.” Jerry reached out and caught
Veronica’s hand. “I came after you to conduct you to the ball. Your gown
is a perfect dear. It’s very smart. It reminds me of a French gown I saw
at the beach last summer.”

“Poor servant girls can’t afford such luxuries as imported gowns,”
laughed Veronica. Out of the corners of her gray eyes she cast a
peculiar glance at Jerry.

Covert though it was, Jerry had not missed it. It was on her tongue to
say boldly, “But are _you_ really a poor servant girl?” However, she
held her peace. She and Marjorie had agreed never to ask Veronica any
personal questions. She decided that the gown had perhaps been given
Veronica by Miss Archer. The latter seemed very fond of her protégé.
More than once Jerry had seen the two together, apparently on the most
intimate terms.

“I’m almost ready,” announced Veronica. “Wait just a minute until I
bundle my dancing regalia into this suitcase. I’ll have to carry my
wings home. They won’t go into the suitcase.”

Jerry watched her fixedly as she deftly disposed of her dancing effects
and triumphantly snapped the suitcase shut. The cloak of mystery which
enveloped this charming girl piqued Jerry. She longed to be the one to
tear it away and glimpse what it so effectually covered. There seemed
little chance that she would ever do so. She did not agree with Marjorie
that there was probably nothing behind it. She believed that for some
personal reason Veronica was merely playing a part.

“Let’s go and visit Marjorie first,” she proposed as they left the
dressing room. “She will be anxious to see you. By ten o’clock the last
of the stuff in the booths will be gone. The Lookouts won’t be sorry. It
will give us all a chance to dance. We’ve been casting wistful glances
at that nice smooth floor for three nights. Now and then we managed to
steal away from the booths for a single dance.”

“This _is_ joyful news,” beamed Marjorie, when five minutes later the
two girls presented themselves in her booth. “We’ll see that you have a
good time, Ronny. The candy is all gone except a few boxes. The
hard-working slaves of the Campfire will soon have a chance to enjoy
themselves on the dancing floor for an hour or so.”

Marjorie’s merry prediction was fulfilled within the next hour. One by
one the girls’ booths were dismantled of their few remaining wares. The
proceeds counted and safely disposed, the Lookouts and their senior
classmates who had served with them were indeed free to visit the
amusement booths, dance or enjoy themselves as fancy dictated.

Far from being neglected, Veronica Browning’s popularity grew apace. The
boys of Weston High School flocked eagerly to her standard. Strangely
enough she seemed familiar with the various dances of the day, and many
admiring eyes followed her graceful figure as she glided over the
polished floor with one or another of her willing partners. Her radiant
face gave signal proof that she was enjoying herself immensely, a fact
that made the sextette of girls who were closest to her, infinitely
happy, too.

Mignon La Salle, however, was furiously jealous of her. Veronica’s
popularity was as a thorn to her flesh. Despite the knowledge that the
elaborate white and gold evening frock she wore was the most expensive
gown she had ever owned, Mignon was obliged to sit out several dances.
Hal, Laurie and Danny Seabrooke, on strict orders from Marjorie, had
dutifully asked the French girl to dance. The majority of the Weston
High boys were not so chivalrous. They did not like Mignon and steered
prudently clear of her. Utterly disgruntled she left the Armory at
eleven o’clock in a most unamiable frame of mind that spelled trouble
for someone.

Just before midnight the Campfire ended with an old-fashioned Home Sweet
Home waltz, followed by a bedlam of high school yells. The edge of youth
is not easily dulled by work, particularly if that work be of a pleasant
nature. The little frolic with which the Campfire ended was a most
enthusiastic affair. The consensus of opinion was, that the Campfire
ought to be a yearly event, and eager plans cropped up wholesale
regarding what should be done at the next one. Roughly estimated, it was
believed that the profits would exceed one thousand dollars. Divided
equally between the Guards and the Lookouts it would go far toward
solving their financial problems.

Following the excitement of the past three days, the peace of Sunday
descended like a welcome mantle on the tireless promoters, who were
forced to the conclusion that they were a trifle tired after all. It may
be said to their credit that they did not fail to attend Sunday morning
services in their respective churches, and more than one silent prayer
of thankfulness ascended to the God they devoutly worshipped. Marjorie
in particular was moved to offer up reverent thanks, adding a humble
little petition that she might be guided always to seek the right and
cling to it.

On Sunday afternoon Jerry Macy appeared at the Deans shortly after
dinner, proposing that she and Marjorie pay Lucy Warner a call.

“We’d better go and see Lucy ourselves,” she counseled, “and not waste
any more time wondering why she was among the missing last night.”

“All right. I am willing. Captain won’t care. She and General have gone
for a ride. I’ll leave word on the official bulletin board to let them
know where I am bound for and when to expect me home.”

Writing a hasty note, Marjorie tucked it into a small bulletin board,
hung in the hall.

It was a rather long walk to the Warrens’ unpretentious little home. As
they traversed the stretch of field leading directly up to it, Marjorie
was forcibly reminded of a winter day when she had floundered across
that very field through the snow on the errand of mercy which had ended
in Lucy Warner’s unexpected revelation. To-day the open space of ground
lay brown and frozen. It looked even more desolate than when covered
with snow.

“I’m thankful I don’t have to live in that house!” Jerry’s exclamation
broke up her reverie. “It’s a cheerless-looking place, isn’t it?”

“That is what I thought the first time I came here,” nodded Marjorie. “I
was just thinking of that day last winter when I waded through the snow
to get to it. That was the day I came down with tonsillitis.”

“I remember. You were all in when you left us to come here. You never
told me anything about that call.”

Marjorie smiled whimsically. She had never given anyone the details
relating to that particular call. She now replied to Jerry’s remark
merely with: “Oh, I took Lucy a basket of fruit, went upstairs to her
room and talked with her quite a while. When I went to her house I felt
rather ill. My feet were wet from plowing through the snow. While I was
there I forgot about it. When I started away from her house I had to
wade through the snow again and then I went home and had tonsillitis.”

“Humph!” ejaculated Jerry. “You certainly took a lot of trouble for her.
She must have realized it, too, for she’s been your fervent worshipper
ever since. I hope Mignon hasn’t told her a lot of things that will undo
all the good you’ve done. Lucy has been a changed girl since you and she
became friends.”

“I am very fond of her. She is the brightest girl I have ever known.”
Marjorie spoke with admiring sincerity. The two friends had left the
field behind them and were now proceeding up the straggling path that
led up to the house. “I do hope she is at home.”

“Umm!” was Jerry’s sole comment. Her sharp eyes were intently scanning
the front windows of the house as though seeking to discover whether its
tenants were within. Arrived at the door, she peered about in search of
a bell. Finding none she doubled a plump fist and rapped energetically
on a weather-stained panel of the door. An instant’s silence ensued.
Listening acutely neither girl heard the sound of approaching footsteps
from within. Failing to elicit a response, Jerry beat a loud tattoo upon
the panel.

“There’s no one at home,” sighed Marjorie disappointedly.

“Come on. We might as well go.” The command held a touch of
aggressiveness. “I could wear my hand out thumping it on the door for
all the good it would do.”

Sensing the aggressive note in Jerry’s voice, Marjorie attributed it to
the stout girl’s natural impatience of delay.

“It’s a shame; a burning shame!” They were half way down the walk when
Jerry thus delivered herself.

“Why, Jeremiah, what is it?” It had dawned upon Marjorie that something
stronger than impatience had seized upon her friend.

“Marjorie, Lucy Warner _is_ at home,” stated Jerry deliberately. “As we
went up the path I saw her through a window. She flashed across the end
of the room farthest away from the window and disappeared.”

“At home!” gasped Marjorie. “Then she must have seen us coming and——”

“Beat it,” supplemented Jerry with inelegant force. “What’s the answer?
Mignon, of course. We don’t need to ask Lucy about it. We know now that
what we suspect is a fact. If it weren’t, Lucy would have answered my
knock. What are you going to do about it?”

“I intend to see Lucy to-morrow morning and find out what the trouble
is,” came Marjorie’s steady answer. “If she is angry with us, I shall
know it the instant she speaks. We have no right simply to take it for
granted that she is angry. We mustn’t even blame Mignon until we know
positively that she actually made mischief.”

“Mignon is at the bottom of Lucy’s grouch. Take my word for it,”
sputtered Jerry. “She has been trying to set Lucy against you ever since
school began. It looks as though she’d succeeded at last. There’s just
this much about it, you have stood too much from that girl. I’m going to
take a hand in this affair and put Mignon where she belongs. Do you know
where that is? I do. It’s outside the club.”



CHAPTER XIX—THE SIGN


It still lacked half an hour until school opened on Monday morning when
an anxious-eyed little girl ran up the long stone steps to the building
and steered a straight course for Miss Archer’s office. Marjorie felt
that she could not settle her mind on her studies until she had held an
interview with Lucy Warner and ascertained the cause of her strange
behavior. She, too, had a disheartening conviction that Mignon was
responsible for it. She believed, however, that she could soon disabuse
Lucy of whatever false impressions she now held.

“Good morning, Lucy,” she called out cheerily as she entered the
pleasant living room office. She had spied the secretary at the
typewriter desk, her head bent low over her work.

Lucy made no response to the salutation, neither did she raise her head.
A slow color stole into her pale cheeks, but she stubbornly riveted her
eyes on the letter she was typing.

Her own color rising, Marjorie boldly approached the belligerent
secretary, halting a little to one side of her. With quiet directness
she said: “Lucy, what has happened? Why are you angry with me?”

Slowly raising her head, Lucy eyed Marjorie with patent scorn. “Will you
kindly go away and leave me alone?” she requested icily.

“No, I will not.” Marjorie stood her ground. “I asked you a fair
question; I deserve a fair answer.”

“I have nothing to say.” Lucy presented the uncommunicative appearance
of a blank wall. Marjorie could not possibly know how much effort it
cost Lucy to maintain this attitude. Secretly she was longing to pour
forth all that Mignon had told her. Too late, she bitterly regretted her
rash promise. Marjorie’s grieved look seemed too real to doubt. Away
from her, Lucy could believe her guilty of treachery. Face to face, it
was another matter.

Yet Mignon had given her undeniable proof of Marjorie’s duplicity. She
could not overlook that. This dark recollection put her brief impulse
toward softening to flight. Her own wrongs looming large before her, the
many benefits she had received at Marjorie’s hands were forgotten.
Overridden by blind suspicion she allowed the ignoble side of her nature
to spring into play. With deliberate cruelty she now said: “Miss Dean,
you are seriously interfering with my work. I have no more time to spend
in useless argument.” Gathering up a sheaf of papers from her desk, she
rose and stalked toward the inner office, a stiff little figure of
hostility.

With a sigh, Marjorie turned and walked dejectedly off in an opposite
direction. Strangely enough she felt more sorry for Lucy than for
herself. Her conscience entirely clear of wrong doing, she knew that
poor Lucy was in the clutch of some dire misapprehension regarding
herself which Mignon La Salle had instilled into her suspicious mind.
What to do next the perplexed lieutenant did not know. It was useless to
go to Mignon. She would undoubtedly profess absolute ignorance of the
cause of Lucy’s grievance. Jerry was still to be reckoned with. It now
looked as though her captain’s prophecy regarding Mignon was about to be
fulfilled. Perhaps, after all, it would be best to allow Jerry to carry
out her threat of holding a special meeting of the Lookouts to decide
Mignon’s fitness for further membership.

Marjorie intensely disliked the thought. Despite Mignon’s love of
intrigue, she made a good treasurer. The club accounts were perfectly
kept by her. She had served faithfully at the Campfire. Her father had
contributed generously to the club and to the Campfire. Mignon’s forced
resignation from the Lookouts would hurt him. Then, too, Lucy Warner had
been warned against Mignon. Marjorie felt that Lucy herself was
partially at fault. She had shown herself over-credulous and ungrateful.
Mentally weighing the pros and cons of the affair, the baffled
peace-seeker grew momentarily more perplexed. She had prayed earnestly
on the day before to be shown the right. Now she yearned for a sign that
would plainly point out to her her duty.

“Did you see her?” was Jerry’s first low-voiced question when at noon
the two girls met in the senior locker room.

“Yes; but I can’t tell you about it now,” returned Marjorie soberly.
“After school is over to-day I wish you and Connie to come to my house.
We will talk it over then. I don’t care to have anyone else know about
it besides Connie.”

“All right. That will suit me.” Jerry appeared satisfied with Marjorie’s
decision. On the way home she steered prudently clear of all mention of
either Mignon or Lucy, although Muriel Harding brought up the subject of
the latter’s absence from the Campfire on Saturday evening. As neither
she, Irma, Susan or Harriet were able to offer any information, while
Marjorie and Jerry refused to commit themselves, the topic soon died a
natural death.

“Take a little run up to your house, Lieutenant,” greeted Mrs. Dean, as
Marjorie entered the living room. “It will pay you to do so.”

“‘To obey is a soldier’s first duty,’” quoted Marjorie merrily, coming
to attention and saluting. She was off like a flash, her swift feet
making short work of the ascent to her house. “Oh!” she breathed as she
caught sight of a long florist’s box on her center table. Three times
she repeated the exclamation as she glimpsed its contents. Lifting a
sheaf of long-stemmed, half-opened American Beauty roses from the box,
she buried her face in their spicy fragrance. As she raised them a
square white envelope dropped to the floor bearing the words: “To Miss
Marjorie Dean.”

Not recognizing the heavy, masculine script, she eagerly explored the
envelope to ascertain who the giver might be. A faint cry of
consternation escaped her as she hastily glanced at the signature before
reading the note. Bundling the roses on the table, she sought the window
seat and read:

  “Dear Miss Marjorie:

  “Will you allow me to try in some measure to express my appreciation
  for your kindness to my daughter, Mignon? You have more than fulfilled
  the request I made of you on a certain afternoon of last Spring. It is
  of a truth a great gratification to me to see my Mignon thus
  surrounded by such estimable young women as yourself and your friends.
  It is most pleasurable to me that you have honored her with an office
  in your club. I rejoice also to observe the important part she took in
  the Campfire. I feel that you will never regret the consideration you
  have so graciously shown her. If at any time you desire my services,
  you have but to command me. With extreme gratitude and the good wishes
  for your constant success,

                                                “Most sincerely yours,
                                                    “Victor La Salle.”


Marjorie stared at the note, divided between appreciation and dismay. It
was a delightful note, but it was also most inopportune. In the face of
it, she could not now advocate Jerry’s plan. Sudden remembrance of her
petition for a sign rushed over her. It had been granted. This, then,
was the sign. It had served to remind her where her duty lay. All she
could do was to accept it. It would not be easy. Jerry was up in arms.
It would be difficult to win her over, especially after she had been
informed of Lucy’s unreasonable stand. Now it remained to Marjorie to do
one of two things. She could go to Mr. La Salle and shatter his faith in
her, or she could insist that Mignon must be allowed to escape
punishment for her offenses against the Golden Rule. She painfully
decided that for her father’s sake, Mignon should be allowed to remain
in the club. Having come to this decision she soberly gathered up her
roses and carried them and the letter downstairs to show both to her
captain. To the latter she confided nothing of her latest problem. She
had reserved the story to tell at some more fitting moment.

School over for the afternoon, the three Lookouts, who were presently to
hold a private session at the Deans, strolled down the street with their
chums, keeping a discreet silence regarding their intention. Muriel and
Irma soon left them to take their turn at the nursery. Susan, Harriet
and Veronica Browning eventually reached their parting of the ways,
leaving the trio together.

“Now, Marjorie, tell us everything,” was Jerry’s instant command as they
swung three abreast down the street.

Obediently Marjorie gave a faithful account of her interview with Lucy
Warner. “I haven’t the least idea why Lucy is angry,” she confessed. “I
don’t know whether she is cross with me, or with the Lookouts.”

“I can set you right about that,” declared Jerry grimly. “Mignon told
Esther Lind this morning that Lucy told her that she intended to have
nothing more to do with you. That eliminates the rest of us. You’re it,
Marjorie. Now you see what sort of girl Mignon is. When I asked her why
Lucy wasn’t at the Campfire on Saturday night she pretended to be very
innocent. It seems that she can’t keep her troubles to herself. She has
to tell someone. After she told she asked Esther to promise that she
wouldn’t mention it to anyone. Esther wouldn’t promise. She came
straight to me with it. She thinks, as I do, that we ought to ask Mignon
to resign from the club.”

“Haven’t you the least idea why Lucy is down on you, Marjorie?” was
Constance’s thoughtful question.

“No.” Marjorie shook a despondent head. “I’ve never said or done
anything to hurt her feelings.”

“The club meets on Thursday night at my house,” announced Jerry briskly.
“What I propose to do is to call an informal meeting there to-morrow
night, minus Mignon. We can state our grievances and have Irma set them
down on paper. Then she can read them out. If everyone approves of them,
we’ll have Irma copy them and write a letter to Mignon asking for her
resignation. We’ll sign the letter, enclose the list of grievances and
mail it to her. That’s really the best way to do. It will save a lot of
fuss.”

“I think that would be most cruel and unkind, Jerry,” Marjorie burst
forth in shocked criticism.

“I fail to see it in that light.” For the first time since the beginning
of their friendship Jerry was distinctly out of sorts with her beloved
friend. “Don’t be so babyish, Marjorie. There’s a limit to all things.”

“I think what you just proposed would certainly be the limit.”
Unconsciously Marjorie answered in Jerry’s own slangy vernacular. “Let
me tell you something.” Rapidly she recounted the incident of the
receipt of the roses and note from Mr. La Salle. “I must admit,” she
continued, “that I had intended to say to you to-night that you had
better call a special meeting. I didn’t realize then how humiliating it
would be for Mignon. I saw those beautiful flowers and read that nice
note and I felt dreadfully ashamed. It was just as though I had already
failed to keep faith with Mr. La Salle. It is terrible to fail someone
who believes in one. I’ve often said that to you.”

“Of course it is. That’s why I am so disgusted with Mignon. She has
failed all of us,” Jerry flashed back. “We can’t have our club spoiled
just to please Mignon’s father. He makes me weary. It would be a good
thing if he’d take a hand at reforming his daughter, instead of leaving
the job to us.” Jerry was growing momentarily angrier with Marjorie.
“You ought to stand up for yourself, instead of being so foolish as to
allow Mignon to make a goose of you,” she finished rudely.

“Why, Jerry Macy!” Marjorie’s brown eyes registered sorrowful amazement.

“Don’t Jerry Macy me.” The stout girl jerked her hand roughly from
Marjorie’s arm. “You make me tired, Marjorie Dean. If you can’t fight
for yourself then someone else will.”

“I can fight my own battles, thank you.” Marjorie’s clear retort was
freighted with injured dignity. Slow to anger, she was now thoroughly
nettled.

“Girls, girls, don’t quarrel,” intervened Constance, who had thus far
taken no part in the altercation. The trio had now passed inside the
Deans’ gate and halted on the stone walk.

“I don’t wish to quarrel with Jerry,” asserted Marjorie coldly, “but I
cannot allow her to accuse me of being cowardly. You have said, Jerry,”
she eyed her explosive friend unflinchingly, “that Lucy Warner is angry
with me, and not with the other girls. Very well. It is therefore Lucy’s
and my affair. We should be the ones to decide what shall be done with
Mignon. Personally, I prefer to drop the matter. You may go to Lucy, if
you choose, and ask her her views. I doubt, though, if she will give
them. As it now stands I think it would be better to bear with Mignon
for her father’s sake. This is our last year in high school. Let us not
darken it by trying to retaliate against Mignon.”

“I think Marjorie is right, Jerry,” declared Constance.

“Very good. Have it your own way. There will be no special meeting.
Good-bye.” Jerry whirled and darted through the half open gate, slamming
it behind her.

Her lips quivering ominously, Marjorie watched Jerry’s plump figure down
the street. Slow tears began to roll down her rosy cheeks. Groping
blindly for her handkerchief, she buried her face in it with a grieved
little sob.

“Don’t cry, dear,” soothed Constance, slipping a gentle arm about the
sorrowful lieutenant. “By to-morrow Jerry will be all over being mad.
She is too fond of you to stay cross. Inside of half an hour she will
probably be telephoning you to say she is sorry. Let’s go into the house
and wait for her message. She’ll be ready to make up by the time she
reaches home.”

“It’s—as—much—my—fault as hers,” quavered Marjorie. “I was cross, too.
If she doesn’t ’phone me by six o’clock, I’ll call her up. It is babyish
in me to cry, but I couldn’t help it. Jerry and I have always been such
dear friends. I’m not going to cry any more, though. Captain will wonder
what the trouble is. I’m going to tell her everything, but not until
to-night after dinner. You’d better stay and help me, Connie. Perhaps
Jerry _will_ telephone before then.”

“All right, I will, thank you. I’ll telephone Aunt Susan and let her
know where I am.”

On entering the house Delia met them with the information that Mrs. Dean
had gone shopping but would be home by half-past six o’clock. When
Constance had telephoned, they established themselves in the living
room, keeping up a soft murmur of conversation. Two pairs of ears were
sharply trained on the hall, however, to catch the jingling ring of the
telephone.

When six o’clock rolled around without the longed-for message from
Jerry, Marjorie could no longer endure the suspense. Springing from her
chair, she sought the ‘phone and gave the operator the Macys’ number.
“Hello,” she called in the transmitter.

“Hello,” sounded a familiar voice. It was Jerry herself who answered.

“Is that you, Jerry? This is Mar——”

The forbidding click of the receiver cut the last word in two. Constance
had not proved a successful prophet. Jerry Macy was still “cross.”



CHAPTER XX—WHEN FRIENDS FALL OUT


“For goodness sake, Marjorie, will you kindly tell me what has
happened?” Muriel Harding overtook Marjorie in the corridor on the way
to her second morning recitation, fairly hissing her question into her
friend’s ear.

Marjorie turned a concerned face to her. She wondered what new
difficulty was about to besiege her. “What do you mean, Muriel?”

“I haven’t time to explain now. Here. Take these and read them. They
were on my desk this morning. You’ll understand later what I mean. I’ll
run over to your house on the way back to school this noon. Then we can
talk. I’m so surprised I can’t see straight.” Thrusting two envelopes
into Marjorie’s hand, Muriel left her and hurried on.

Placing the envelopes in the back of her text book, Marjorie proceeded
slowly down the corridor to her own recitation in French. Resisting the
temptation to examine their contents, she devoted herself strictly to
the lesson. The next hour, which would be spent in the study hall, would
give her ample time to look at them.

Returned to the study hall and free at last to learn the cause of
Muriel’s agitation, she forced back the sharp exclamation of dismay that
rose to her lips. Both envelopes were addressed; one to Muriel Harding,
the other to Jerry Macy. Through the address on the latter a pencil had
been drawn. Below the cancelled line it had been readdressed to Muriel.
The writing on the one was Jerry’s. The cancelled script on the other
was Lucy Warner’s. The re-addressing had been done by Jerry.

Marjorie’s heart sank. She was almost sure of the nature of the notes
within. Bracing herself in the seat, she drew Jerry’s note from its
envelope. It turned out to be exactly what she feared. Jerry had
tendered her formal resignation to the club. Lucy Warner’s note
contained the same information. It differed little from Jerry’s, save
for one sentence in the latter’s note: “Kindly arrange to hold the club
meeting at some place other than my home.”

An intensity of bitterness toward Mignon filled Marjorie’s heart as she
fingered Jerry’s note. She resentfully laid the blame for the whole
affair at the French girl’s door. Jerry, Lucy and herself had all been
caught in the meshes of the net which Mignon had set for their unwary
feet. Marjorie wrathfully vowed that she would expose Mignon’s malicious
mischief-making at the meeting of the club on Thursday evening. She
hoped the members _would_ demand Mignon’s resignation. She deserved to
be thus publicly humiliated. Yet the more she considered this revenge,
the less it appealed to her. It savored too greatly of Mignon’s own
tactics. She finally decided to ask Connie to go home to luncheon with
her. They could then talk matters over and agree on some plan of action
by the time Muriel appeared.

Although Marjorie had prudently eschewed note-writing since that fateful
afternoon during her junior year when she and Muriel had come to grief
over the latter’s note, she resolved for once to yield to temptation.
Scribbling a few hasty lines to Constance, whose desk was not far from
her own, she managed successfully to send the missive. Glancing over it,
Constance’s eyes quickly sought Marjorie’s. A smiling nod of her golden
head informed the writer of the note that Connie would not fail her.

That point definitely settled, Marjorie speculated gloomily regarding
whether Jerry’s spleen would remain directed only against herself or
whether she intended to desert from the sextette of girls to which she
belonged. Would Muriel at once apprise Susan, Irma and Constance of
Jerry’s resignation from the club, or would she not? Hardly knowing what
to expect, it was a relief to Marjorie when, on entering the locker room
at noon, she saw no sign of either the stout girl or the other members
of the sextette. The latter she guessed were waiting outside school. One
look at four solemn-faced girls collected together on the opposite side
of the street revealed to her that Muriel had put her three friends in
possession of the news.

“Oh, Marjorie,” she hailed. “Come here. After I spoke to you I decided
to tell the girls about Jerry. It’s a good thing I did. She hardly spoke
to Susan and Irma this morning. They didn’t understand, of course, and
were dreadfully hurt.”

A tiny pucker of vexation wrinkled Marjorie’s forehead. Muriel’s
unexpected act had quite upset her plan of asking Connie’s advice
beforehand regarding Mignon. She would have to choose her own course of
action at once. Should she arouse her friends’ anger against Mignon and
thus set in motion the wheel of vengeance, or should she offer an
explanation of Jerry’s wrath? She knew the latter well enough to believe
that no one would hear any complaint against herself from the stout
girl’s lips. When especially roiled, Jerry was always uncommunicative.
Slight irritations alone were productive of voluble protest on her part.

“What ails Jerry, Marjorie?” asked Irma anxiously. “None of us know. I
hope you do.”

“I know,” cut in Constance quickly. “I only waited until Marjorie came
before saying so. I’d rather she would tell you.” Constance had hitherto
prudently volunteered no information.

“There isn’t much to tell.” Marjorie’s moment of doubt was past. Even as
Irma spoke it was borne upon her that she had accepted Mr. La Salle’s
note as a sign. It but remained to her to do her duty. “Yesterday
afternoon Jerry and I had a disagreement about Mignon. Connie was with
us when it happened. The disagreement arose over something which Mignon
had done that is personal to me. Yesterday noon I received a note of
thanks and a box of American Beauty roses from Mr. La Salle. You can
understand why he sent them. Jerry was very angry at Mignon and proposed
that we should expel her from the club. As our disagreement related to
my affairs, I objected. Jerry said, ‘All right. Have it your own way,’
and left us. Later I called her on the telephone and she wouldn’t talk
to me. You already know of her resignation.”

“You might know that Mignon was mixed in it in some way,” cried Muriel.
“I suppose this must have been the last straw or Jerry wouldn’t have
resigned. What are we to do without her? And Lucy Warner, too.”

“She is angry with me, too.” Marjorie’s voice sounded rather weary. “I
don’t know why. I might as well tell you a little more. Jerry believes
that Mignon made mischief between us. That’s the reason she is down on
Mignon. Though I may suspect Mignon of it, I can’t prove it because Lucy
will tell me nothing. It wouldn’t be fair to ask Mignon to resign simply
because she is suspected of turning Lucy against me. I told Jerry so,
but she wouldn’t see it in that light.”

“We’d better all go to Mignon and make her own up to it,” suggested
Susan. “If she does, we’ll ask her to resign from the Lookouts.”

“I don’t think it would be wise.” It was peace-loving Irma Linton who
spoke. “I don’t believe Mignon could be made to own up to any wrong
thing she has done. Besides, it would be a blot on the club escutcheon
to ask her to resign. Almost every girl in school has a pretty fair idea
of why we asked Mignon to join the Lookouts. It is generally known that
Marjorie took her home from Riverview in the Deans’ automobile that
night that Rowena ran away from her. It is also known that Marjorie has
tried hard to help her in spite of all the mean things Mignon has done
to her and said of her. Everyone respects Marjorie for it. Miss Archer
has been heard to say that Marjorie is the highest-principled girl she
has ever had in Sanford High. She and Jerry were the founders of the
club. They asked Mignon to join it. Do you think it would reflect to
Marjorie’s credit, or Jerry’s either, to force Mignon out of the club
now? I don’t. Jerry is in the wrong. Some day she’ll see it. What we
ought to do is not accept either hers or Lucy’s resignation. Let them
stay away until they choose to come back. They will both come back. I
feel sure of it.”

This long, forceful speech from gentle Irma had a potent effect upon her
listeners. Susan, Muriel and Constance were deeply impressed. Marjorie,
however, was red with embarrassment. Miss Archer’s opinion of her, as
quoted by Irma, amazed the blushing lieutenant. As for Irma’s views on
Mignon, they coincided with her own.

“Just see Marjorie blush,” teased Muriel. “She wasn’t expecting to hear
Irma say so many nice things about her.”

“I—you—it makes me feel foolish,” Marjorie stammered. “Please don’t ever
do it again, Irma. I agree with you about Mignon, though, and about not
accepting the two resignations. Will you three girls stand by Irma and
me in this at the meeting?” She was sure of Constance, but not so sure
of Susan and Muriel.

“We will,” came simultaneously from the two.

“Thank you,” smiled Marjorie. “There’s just one thing more and then we
must hurry along. We’ve been standing here for almost half an hour.
Mignon will probably be at the meeting. We five have agreed that she is
to stay in the club. Between now and Thursday night we must see all the
other members except Mignon and explain things. If they are agreeable to
our plan, then at the meeting Muriel will act as president and read the
resignations. I will move that they be not accepted and one of you must
second the motion. Then we’ll put it to a standing vote. Everyone must
vote not to accept them and that will close the matter.”

This plan was also approved and agreed upon. After deciding upon
Muriel’s home as a place of meeting on Thursday, the participants in the
sidewalk conference set off briskly toward their homes to partake of
sadly-neglected luncheons.

At the Thursday evening meeting of the Lookouts, eleven kindly
conspirators followed to the letter the program laid out for them by
Marjorie and Irma. There was only one rebel, and she dared not assert
herself openly. As the news of the two resignations had been carefully
kept from her, Mignon La Salle was thunderstruck to learn that Jerry had
left the club. Lucy’s resignation she had confidently expected. She had
also feared that she might be taken to task for it, and had come to the
Hardings’ home prepared to give battle royal.

Greatly against her will she rose with the others when the standing vote
was taken regarding the non-acceptance of the two resignations. At heart
a coward, she invariably evaded making a bold stand against opposition.
She preferred underhanded warfare and would not show real fight unless
cornered. When the fateful motion made by Marjorie and seconded by Irma
had been passed, and Muriel had directed Irma to write Jerry and Lucy to
that effect, Mignon longed to make strenuous objection. Craft conquering
the impulse she made an inward vow that she would see to it that Jerry
Macy, at least, never returned to the club. With Jerry gone from the
Lookouts she would have greater leeway to do as she pleased.

“There’s something else I wish to mention.” Muriel’s clear voice broke
in on Mignon’s dark meditations. “We wish no outsider to know that
either Lucy or Jerry has tendered a resignation. I don’t need to ask you
to promise to keep it quiet. As Lookouts you know your duty in the
matter. I think it would be wise, Irma,” she turned to the secretary,
“to mention this in your letters to Lucy and Jerry. They will understand
then, perhaps, just how kindly we feel toward them. I know that neither
of them will give out the least information to anyone.”

A decided scowl darkened Mignon’s brow as she heard this plea for
secrecy. She had already contemplated the enticing prospect for gossip
which the resignations promised. She made mental reservation that she,
at least, would not bind herself to silence. She would whisper it about,
if she chose, at her own discretion. If it finally leaked out and she
should be accused of spreading it, she could easily shift the blame upon
either Lucy or Jerry; Lucy preferably. She would be a more satisfactory
scapegoat.

Thus while eleven girls consulted earnestly together in an endeavor
toward fair play toward all, the twelfth member of the club smiled
ironically and busied her brain with endless treacherous schemes for
holding her own position in the club without living up to its irksome
obligations. Could the innocent, whole-hearted eleven, who had
overlooked in her so much that was detestable, have read Mignon’s mind,
her connection with the Lookouts would have been summarily cut short. As
it was, though they did not trust her, they patiently endured her and
hoped for the best.

Highly elated over having thus escaped even a word of reproach, Mignon
drove home from the meeting in her runabout, amused rather than
displeased at the somewhat restrained manner which her companions had
exhibited toward her. The very next morning, under promise of secrecy,
she retailed the forbidden story of the resignations to three different
girls. They received it with ohs and ahs, and in due season imparted it
to their most intimate friends. Within three days it had traveled far,
and presently someone referred it to Jerry for confirmation.

Having received but sulkily refused to answer Irma’s note, at heart
Jerry fully appreciated the delicacy and good will of her friends. Her
wrath now rose to a high pitch over being thus approached on the tabooed
subject. Nor did she fail to attribute it to its true source. Her first
move was to seek Lucy Warner.

Marching resolutely into Miss Archer’s outer office on the morning of
the fourth day after the receipt of Irma’s note, she accosted
stony-faced Lucy with, “See here, Lucy, I’ve a word to say to you. Did
you get Irma Linton’s note?”

“Yes.” Lucy had the grace to blush. She was already feeling ashamed of
her cruel treatment of Marjorie. The latter’s sorrowful brown eyes
haunted her and she was frequently tortured with the fear that she had
been too hasty.

“Now listen to me.” Jerry’s voice was very gruff. She blamed Lucy
considerably for what had happened. “If any girl asks you if you’ve
resigned from the club, just tell her to mind her own affairs. Don’t
give her a word of information. Do you understand?”

“Yes,” repeated Lucy, almost humbly. She keenly sensed Jerry’s
disapproval of herself. “I will not give anyone an answer to that
question. I had not intended to.”

Jerry’s tense features softened a trifle. “You’ve made a mistake, Lucy.
No finer girl ever lived than Marjorie Dean. I don’t know what Mignon La
Salle has told you, but take my word for it, it’s not true. I resigned
from the club because I can’t stand Mignon. That’s why Marjorie and I
fell out. Just the same, I like her better than any other girl I ever
knew. But until she and the girls give up bothering with that deceitful,
untruthful gossip, I shall have nothing more to do with her or them. I
hope Mignon will overreach herself and get put out of the club. When
that comes off, then back to the Lookouts for Jerry.”

“I wish I could agree with you,” stated Lucy primly, “but it is
impossible. My reason for turning against Marjorie Dean is sound. I wish
it were not.”

“Answer me just one question. Was it Mignon who told you something
against Marjorie?” Jerry fixed unblinking eyes on the other girl.

For a moment Lucy did not reply. She appeared to be turning something
over in her mind. “I will answer you,” she said finally. “I made a
promise not to go to Marjorie with what was told me. I made no promise
regarding anyone else. Yes, it was Mignon.”

“And you believed Mignon?” Jerry’s question came almost explosively.

“Yes. What she told me no one besides Marjorie and myself knew. No one
except Marjorie could have possibly told her. I shall never speak to
Marjorie again.”

“I give it up. You certainly seem to know something that I don’t.” Jerry
turned on her heel and walked to the door. Once outside she muttered:
“Whatever you know that I don’t, I’ll make it my business to find out or
my name’s not Jerry Geraldine Jeremiah Macy.”



CHAPTER XXI—A MESSAGE FROM JERRY


Jerry had a second mission to perform, however, which she hailed with
anticipation. Cut off by her own obstinacy from former intimacy with her
chums and from the work of the day nursery, she was an extremely lonely
young person with a great deal of idle time on her hands. Energetic
Jerry loathed inaction. She therefore chose Mignon La Salle as her
second subject for activity and lay in wait for her.

Two days passed, following her interview with Lucy Warner, before she
found the desired opportunity to waylay the French girl. Setting off
after school for a lonely session at Sargent’s, at the curbstone before
the shop she spied Mignon’s runabout. Forging gleefully into her
favorite haunt, she steered straight for Mignon, who sat in solitary
grandeur at a rear table. Catching sight of Jerry, the arch plotter half
rose from her chair as though about to make a prudent exit from the
place.

“Sit down.” Before her quarry could leave the table, Jerry had reached
it. “Don’t try to dodge _me_. I’ve been on the watch for you ever since
you made trouble for Marjorie Dean. I’m not a Lookout now so I can tell
you a few things.”

“I won’t listen to you.” Mignon was now on her feet.

“Oh, yes, you will. If you don’t, I’ll go to your house and say my say
to your father.” Jerry looked grimly capable of executing the threat.

Fearful of such a calamity, Mignon reluctantly resumed her seat. “I’m
not afraid of _you_,” she sneered. “Say quickly what you have to say. I
am in a hurry to go home.”

“I’m not. Still I don’t care to be seen talking with you any longer than
I can help.” Jerry was brutally rude and she knew it. The time for
keeping up appearances was past. “Now this is what I have to say. You
are the most disloyal, mischief-making person I’ve ever known. You have
no more right to be a Lookout than that soda-fountain has; my apologies
to the soda-fountain. You can’t fool me. You never have. I know you like
a book. It was on account of you that I left the club. I’ll never go
back to it until you’re out of it.”

“You’ll wait a long time then.” Mignon gave a sarcastic laugh. “I shall
stay in the club as long as I please and you can’t prevent me.”

“I’ll do my best,” challenged Jerry. “Remember that’s a warning. I’m
going to make it my business to find out what you told Lucy Warner about
Marjorie. When I do you’ll hear of it in a way you won’t like.”

“You’ll never find out,” taunted Mignon scornfully. “Lucy won’t tell you
and I certainly shan’t. No one else knows.” Taken off her guard she had
rashly admitted the very thing Jerry was endeavoring to make her say.

“I’m going to know,” assured Jerry tersely. “I’ve already made you say
that you did tell Lucy something hateful about Marjorie. Now you can
beat it. I’ve warned you! Oh, yes. If you circulate any more reports in
school about Lucy’s and my resignations, I’ll put a notice on the
bulletin board warning the girls to pay no attention to your tales. I’ll
see that it stays there, too, long enough to do some good.” With this
parting shot Jerry turned abruptly away and walked out of the shop, her
primary desire for ice cream quite forgotten.

As she plodded slowly down the street toward home, Jerry solemnly
considered the stubborn stand she had taken against the Lookouts. She
was not in the least pleased with herself. To continue to hold herself
aloof from Marjorie, in particular, whom she adored, promised to be a
dispiriting task. Still she was determined to do it. She argued that to
go back to the club and admit that she had been in the wrong would
merely make her appear ridiculous. She contemplated her self-exile from
her friends with small joy. Over-weening pride, however, caused her to
gloomily accept it. Her sole consolation lay in the thought that
unbeknown to her chums she would further their mutual interests in every
possible way. The idea of thus becoming an unsuspected source of good to
them, held for her a morbid fascination. While they believed her to be
antagonistic, she would secretly be just the opposite. This beneficent
but somewhat absurd resolution was exactly what one might expect from
Jerry.

Though she could not know it, it was the precise conclusion at which her
chums had already arrived. They knew her better than she knew herself.
When she had deliberately ignored Irma’s friendly note, her five chums
had consulted earnestly together regarding what they had best do. Irma
and Constance proposed that the five should visit her in a body, in an
endeavor to win her back. Muriel, Susan and Marjorie opposed such a
measure. “It wouldn’t do the least bit of good,” Muriel had emphatically
declared.

Marjorie had quietly echoed Muriel’s opinion, adding: “Let dear old
Jerry alone, girls. She must work out her own salvation. When she comes
back to us it must be of her own free will. She hasn’t really left us,
you know. She’ll always be a Lookout, heart and hand.”

As December rushed on its snowy way toward the holiday season, it became
somewhat difficult for Marjorie to practice what she had preached.
Jerry’s desertion left a huge blank in her life that could not be
filled. The brusque, good-humored stout girl had formerly been her most
ardent supporter in making Christmas merry for the poor of Sanford. The
little folks at the day nursery loudly bewailed her absence from their
midst.

Mrs. Macy and Hal, who had learned the deplorable circumstances from
Jerry’s own lips, held more than one energetic but futile argument with
her in an effort to reduce her to reason. She met these earnest
admonitors with an unyielding stolidity that caused them both to retire
from the field in disgust. Whenever she chanced to meet her chums she
greeted them with a cool civility that was infinitely more annoying than
no greeting would have been. She marched defiantly to and from school by
herself, preferring her own company to that of the Sanford High students
outside the intimate circle of girls in which she had once moved.

She made but one exception to them. She was occasionally seen in company
with Veronica Browning. The mystery surrounding the latter fascinated
her. Then, too, she greatly admired this delightful girl. Although
Veronica had learned of Jerry’s self-made Coventry, she never referred
to it when with the latter. From Marjorie, who had been quick to note
Jerry’s predilection for Veronica, she had received instructions to do
all she could to lighten the young rebel’s self-imposed burden. Of her
own free will she had offered her services in Jerry’s place at the day
nursery. She had calmly informed the belligerent of her intention before
doing so. Jerry had stared hard at her and merely said: “Go ahead and do
it. You won’t hurt my feelings. Are you sure you can spare the time?”
Veronica had answered in the affirmative and the subject had been
immediately dropped.

The week preceding Christmas saw the Lookouts deep in preparations for
the day of days. There was to be a wonderful gift-laden tree at the
nursery for the children, and the usual yearly task of supplying the
Sanford poor folks with holiday cheer was also carried on with a will.
Marjorie’s home became a headquarters for the tireless workers and the
Lookouts spent many fruitful and pleasant hours there. Even Mignon
condescended to lend her presence on one or two occasions and surprised
her companions by actually doing a little work. Since her encounter with
Jerry she had been extremely ill at ease. She had a coward’s respect for
the plain-spoken stout girl, and she now stood more in fear of her than
ever. The very day after Jerry had accosted her in Sargent’s her father
had promised her an expensive electric limousine as a commencement
present, provided she conducted herself in exemplary fashion until then.
Mignon had therefore decided to walk softly until this prize was safely
in her possession.

Christmas came and went, leaving behind for Marjorie the usual liberal
amount of remembrances from her friends. It was a less happy Christmas,
however, than that of the previous year. Jerry’s desertion weighed
heavily upon her. The two girls had always exchanged holiday gifts and
calls. This year, determined to make no exception, Marjorie had selected
and sent her usual good-will present to Jerry. Irma, Constance, Susan,
Muriel, Harriet and Esther Lind had done likewise. From Jerry they had
received nothing in return except their own gifts. Each package
contained a card, on each of which had appeared the same Jerry-like
message: “Keep this and send it to me later. Mignon may not always be a
Lookout.”

This pertinent message provoked a certain amount of merriment on the
part of the recipients. Nevertheless, an undertone of sadness lurked in
the laughter. Jerry was Jerry and could not be imitated, duplicated nor
replaced. They had missed her sorely at the gay round of parties that
filled their holidays. Her unexpected state of rebellion had also
completely upset her brother Hal’s plans for the Macys’ usual Christmas
dance. He and Jerry exchanged sharp words over what he termed her
“bull-headedness” and for two weeks afterward they were not on speaking
terms. All in all Jerry passed a most doleful Yuletide season for which
she had only herself to blame.



CHAPTER XXII—MARJORIE DECIDES


The end of January brought with it mid-year examinations. It saw no
change in the strained situation which Jerry had created. To all outward
appearances she was as implacable as ever. Only Jerry herself knew the
difficulty of remaining adamant in the face of longing for the
comradeship which she had repudiated. Long ago, when Mary Raymond had
done precisely what she was now doing, Jerry had pointed out to Mary the
folly of such a course. More than once, since her self-exile from her
companions, Jerry had thought of this. Vengefully remembering that
Mignon had also been at the root of Mary’s difficulties, her bitterness
against the French girl increased two-fold. She grew more determined
than ever in her thus far fruitless effort to discover what Mignon had
told Lucy Warner that had set the latter so strongly against Marjorie
Dean. This learned, she was not quite decided upon what she would do
next. That would depend entirely on the nature of Mignon’s gossip.

While recalcitrant Jerry pursued her will-o-the-wisp quest for useful
information, the Lookout Club were adhering steadily to their resolve to
make their little organization a success. Despite the jolt they had
suffered by reason of the withdrawal of their president, they continued
to hope that she would eventually return to the fold. Regarding Lucy
Warner’s return they had little to say. Irma, Susan, Muriel and
Constance, who were better posted than their fellow members on the
inside details of Lucy’s cavalier treatment of Marjorie, secretly
disapproved of the close-mouthed secretary’s refusal to meet Marjorie
frankly. As for the other Lookouts, Lucy’s antagonistic behavior seemed
to them quite in keeping with her past performances.

Thus matters dragged along through changeable, short-lived February and
early March. During that period of time, however, the Lookouts put into
effect the plan that had come to Marjorie at the time of the
organization of the club. The project of the day nursery as the center
of achievement she had reserved, broaching the subject of her plan until
the more important enterprise should be firmly on its feet. Due to the
excellent management of the Lookouts and the gratifying monetary returns
from the Campfire, it was now in a flourishing condition. Their treasury
boasted over eight hundred dollars, sufficient capital to defray the
nursery’s expenses until well into the next winter.

Their hopes were now set on making the Lookout Club a high school
sorority, and the names of several juniors seemingly suitable to assume
the responsibilities their senior sisters would relinquish with
graduation, were already under discussion. The considerable amount of
internal discord with which they had been forced to contend had not been
such as to create adverse criticism on the part of outsiders. The club
ranked high in public estimation. Knowing this, its members, with one
exception, were earnestly desirous of maintaining that high standard. On
their integrity depended its establishment as a sorority.

The one exception was, of course, Mignon La Salle. She had no lofty
ambitions and only one definite aim; the will to stir up mischief and
thus keep her fellow members in hot water. Following her arraignment by
Jerry, she had proceeded with caution. As the winter days glided by
without bringing her the exposure which Jerry had threatened, she began
to treat the matter lightly. So long as Jerry remained unsuccessful in
ferreting out the reason for Lucy Warner’s grudge against Marjorie, she
felt herself secure. Thanks to Lucy’s unassailable secrecy, she believed
Jerry had small chance of learning what she did not wish known. Bent on
making assurance doubly sure she had sought Lucy to remind her of her
promise. The latter had received her with the utmost frigidity. She
stated shortly that she had told Marjorie Dean nothing. Further, she had
no intention of giving her any information. Regarding what she had said
to Jerry, she was silent. That had nothing to do with her promise to
Mignon. What Jerry had said to her, however, unconsciously influenced
Lucy to treat the French girl with dignified disdain.

Mignon did not relish the snubbing. She accepted it because she dared
not resent it. Having gained her point she could afford to dismiss it
with a shrug. If she could continue to ward off possible disaster until
her graduation from high school in June, the danger point would then be
passed. A new set of Lookouts would replace the old, the limousine her
father had promised her would be won, and her triumph over these stupid
girls be complete. Another year would see her in some far-off college,
well beyond their reach.

It was early in February when Marjorie made known her plan to the club.
At one of their regular meetings she had risen to speak earnestly on the
subject of high school fellowship. She had expressed her belief that as
Lookouts it was the business of the club to do something toward creating
a spirit of comradeship among the four classes of Sanford High School.
She had then proposed that once in two weeks on Friday evening the
Lookouts should hold a reception in the gymnasium to which the pupils of
the Sanford High School should be invited. It would be a strictly
informal affair, instituted with the purpose of amalgamating the four
classes into one big high school family. There might be a short program
composed of volunteer stunts. There were sure to be present enough girls
who would gladly take turns at the piano for dancing. The club could
serve light refreshments at its own expense and the reception as a whole
could not fail to promote better acquaintance and understanding. She had
already spoken of it to Miss Archer, who had gladly granted her
permission to use the gymnasium.

Such was the project which Marjorie had outlined. It had met the instant
approval of her hearers and before the meeting ended the details of the
plan had been settled and the date for the first reception set for the
second Friday evening in February. On the eventful night the four
classes attended the reception almost to a member, enjoyed themselves
hugely after the fashion of carefree youth, and departed at eleven
o’clock, the consciousness of a well-spent evening pervading their
cordial good-nights to their schoolmate hostesses. Marjorie’s
thoughtfulness for others had been the means of bringing happiness to
more than one girl in Sanford High School to whom the social side of
school had formerly meant little. Among such a large body of students
there were many whose opportunities for social pleasures were few and
far between. To these wistful lookers-on, the chance to become
participants in this new and diverting phase of school life was a boon
indeed.

Greatly to her surprise, Marjorie discovered in Veronica Browning a
devoted advocate of the club’s new movement. Of her own free will she
assured Marjorie of her willingness to take part in the program, should
her services be desired. Her offer was joyfully accepted, for her fame
as a dancer had traveled the rounds of Sanford. At the second reception
she became the feature of the evening. Lost in wonder of her art, beside
it her lowly position in life paled into insignificance. She came in for
an avalanche of girlish admiration which she accepted with the modesty
of one who attached little importance to her accomplishment.

It was perhaps a week after Veronica’s terpsichorean triumph that it
suddenly occurred to Marjorie to ask her to reconsider her earlier
refusal to join the Lookout Club. Since the latter’s decided negative to
the proposal, made at the time of the organization of the Lookouts,
Marjorie had not repeated her request. Veronica had then refused it with
finality. Afterward the subject had never been reopened between them. In
lieu of the fact that Veronica had done much toward making the Campfire
a success, and continued to help the Lookouts in their various
enterprises, Marjorie cherished the conviction that Mignon La Salle’s
certain opposition to Veronica as a member could no longer be respected.
Privately she announced her views to her chums, who were of the same
mind. She, therefore, resolved again to lay the subject before her
friend and plead with her to reconsider her refusal.

Chancing to meet Veronica in the street one March morning on the way to
school she greeted her with: “I’ve a special favor to ask of you, Ronny,
and don’t you dare refuse.”

“It is granted,” smiled Veronica.

“Now I’ve caught you!” Marjorie laughed mischievously. “You can’t back
out. The Lookouts wish you to join the club, Ronny. I wish it most of
all.”

“I guessed that to be the special favor,” remarked Veronica quietly.

“You did?” Marjorie’s brown eyes widened in surprise. “Then you must
really wish to join us after all!”

“Yes! I am quite ready to become a Lookout,” was the amazing
announcement. “I know you are wondering why I have changed my mind about
it. Before I explain, I’ll say that I am glad you asked me again to join
your club. It is another proof of your fair-mindedness.”

“I don’t quite understand.” Marjorie regarded Veronica in bewilderment.
It was almost as though this astonishing girl had, in some mystifying
fashion, divined the thought-process by which she had arrived at her
decision.

Veronica laughed. “You mean you can’t imagine how I came to understand
why you asked me again to become a Lookout.”

“Yes; that is true. But how could you possibly guess it? You amaze me,
Ronny.”

“You don’t realize, Marjorie, that I have come to know you very well,”
returned Veronica with sudden intensity. “You are the sort of girl that
must play fairly, or not at all. You were not entirely satisfied with
our agreement of last fall. I knew it then. I knew, too, that it was
wisest for me to stay out of the club. Now the situation has changed.
Our delicate consideration for a certain person has been wasted. You
feel that my interest in the progress of the Lookouts has been, and is,
greater than hers. Frankly, I know it to be so. I wish to join your club
for two reasons. First, because this lawless, headstrong girl should be
shown that the good of the Lookouts must be regarded above her personal
prejudices; second, because of my own pleasure in the association.”

“You’ve said the very things I have thought, Ronny.” Marjorie spoke as
one who has been miraculously relieved from a cumbersome burden. “I am
glad you see things as I do. I shall propose you for membership on
Thursday evening at the club meeting. If—a certain person——” She paused.
“Why shouldn’t we say her name? If Mignon doesn’t approve, then she’ll
have to disapprove. It will be a case of eleven against one. The
majority rules, you know. The eleven will surely be delighted to welcome
you as a Lookout. Do you mind if I tell them the good news beforehand?”

“As you please.” Veronica slipped an affectionate arm into one of
Marjorie’s. “You are true blue, Lieutenant,” she said a trifle
unsteadily. “All my life I shall be glad that I have known a girl like
you. Some day I shall try to prove to you how much I appreciate your
friendship.”

“It’s just the other way round, Ronny.” Marjorie’s earnest assurance
rang with affection.

Arrived at the school building their confidential talk ended. Marjorie
took her seat in the study hall feeling singularly inspirited.
Veronica’s decision to join the Lookouts embued her with fresh courage
to face the storm of protest which Mignon would undoubtedly raise when
Veronica’s name was proposed for membership. Thinking it over she
reconsidered her idea of telling the Lookouts beforehand. It would be
hardly fair to leave Mignon out of the knowledge, yet she did not wish
her to know it until she herself proposed Veronica’s name at the
meeting. This course of action seemed infinitely more discreet. She was
positive that no one save Mignon would raise an objection. Very
charitably she hoped that the latter would not create a scene and thus
lay herself open to the certain displeasure of the other girls. Her
indignation aroused, hot-headed Muriel Harding was quite capable of
demanding Mignon’s resignation then and there. Marjorie was definitely
settled on one point. If, in the heat of anger, Mignon should tender her
resignation, it should also mark the end of her personal interest in the
French girl’s behalf. She would go to Mr. La Salle and ask release from
her promise.



CHAPTER XXIII—A STORMY SESSION


“Is there any new business to be brought before the club?” inquired
Muriel Harding in her most presidential manner.

The Lookouts were in august session in the Atwells’ cozy living room,
which the mere members of the family, aside from Susan, had obligingly
vacated while the club held sway. Seated in a semi-circle that curved
the lower end of the large room, nine girls fixed attentive eyes on
Muriel, who occupied a wide-armed chair a few feet in front of them. At
a table on the right, Irma and Mignon were seated side by side. Her
interest centered on her account book, the latter did not trouble to
raise her eyes as Muriel spoke.

From the last right-hand chair in the circular row, Marjorie Dean rose.
“I wish to propose the name of Veronica Browning for membership into the
Lookout Club,” she announced in low, clear tones.

A wavering sigh swept the semi-circle as Marjorie reseated herself. This
was, indeed, new business. Muriel Harding stared at Marjorie in mild
astonishment. All interest in her accounts vanished, Mignon La Salle
leaned forward over the table, her black eyes snapping. For a long
moment no one spoke.

“I second the motion.” Harriet Delaney’s firm accents shattered the
silence.

“It has been regularly moved and seconded,” stated Muriel, “that
Veronica——”

“I rise to object.” Mignon La Salle leaped rather than rose from her
chair, her face dark with protest. “I object seriously to admitting a
servant into membership of the Lookout Club.”

“And _I_ rise to object against the word ‘servant’ as applied to my
friend Veronica Browning.” Marjorie was again on her feet, her lovely
face set in stern lines. “There is no disgrace in being a servant,” she
gravely rebuked. “It is the way in which the word has been spoken that
makes it objectionable. The club owes a great deal to Veronica. All of
you know how willingly she has offered us her services. We have gladly
accepted them. It now becomes us to ask her to honor us by joining our
club.”

“Honor!” sneered Mignon, tossing her black head in disdain. “A very
queer sort of _honor_. I should term it disgrace. I will not have this
presuming kitchen maid in the club. Who knows what sort of parents she
has, or where she came from. She is sharp enough to make Miss Archer and
a few other persons believe that she is something wonderful, but she
can’t fool me. No doubt she came from some third-rate, stranded
theatrical company. She has been very careful not to say a word about
herself to anyone. Marjorie Dean ought to be ashamed to propose that we
turn our club into a servants’ hall.”

With every word, Mignon’s voice had risen. Caution thrown to the winds
she remembered nothing save her hatred against Veronica. Before she
could continue a babble of angry voices assailed her from all sides. The
dignified session of the Lookouts bade fair to end in an uproar of
rebuke hurled in noisy entirety at Mignon.

“Order!” shrieked Muriel, wildly waving her arms. “Stop it, girls. The
Atwells will think we’ve gone crazy.”

Her energetic counsel brought the outraged belligerents into a knowledge
of where they were. Gradually they subsided into threatening murmurs
that ended in a much-needed but ominous quiet.

“Mignon, you are the one to be ashamed.” Muriel bent severe eyes on the
storm-swept girl, who now sat with elbows propped upon the table,
glaring sullenly at her equally sulky opponents. “Veronica Browning is a
sweet, delightful, well-bred girl. I’m sorry I can’t say the same of
you. If you don’t care to be in the same club with her, you know what
you can do. You’ve caused us all to disgrace ourselves for the moment by
quarreling with you. I’m going to say what I started to say when you
began this fuss. You will please not interrupt me again.”

“I will if I choose,” flung back Mignon. “You’d be only too glad to have
me resign from the club. Well, I don’t intend to do it until I get
ready. I’ve been a good treasurer and you can’t complain of me. If
you——”

Muriel turned a deliberate back on the irate speaker. With dignified
composure she again stated: “It has been regularly moved and seconded
that Veronica Browning be admitted into membership of the Lookout Club.
Those in favor, please rise; contrary remain seated.”

Ten determined girls were on their feet before Muriel had finished.

“No, no, no!” objected Mignon at the top of her voice.

“Carried.” Muriel still kept an uncompromising back toward Mignon.

“I won’t stand it!” Rising, Mignon seized her book and took a step or
two toward the door. Of a sudden she paused, as though clutched by an
invisible hand. Backing toward her chair she sat down, a curious
expression of malevolent resolve in her elfish eyes. Somewhat ashamed
of their own untimely outburst, her fellow members found themselves more
inclined toward pity than resentment. Though they cherished no liking
for their lawless companion, they were disposed to regard her display of
temper as that of an obstreperous child, allowed too long to have its
own way.

With the admission of Veronica to the club the business part of the
meeting closed, greatly to the relief of all concerned. Immediately
afterward, Mignon stalked haughtily from the living room, without a word
to anyone. Darting up the stairs to the room which Muriel had reserved
for her guests’ use, she fairly flung herself into her coat and jammed
her fur cap down upon her black curls. Down the stairs she sped and out
of the house, announcing her departure by a reverberating slam of the
front door.

Divining her intention, Susan Atwell had followed her to the stairs,
determined to do her duty as hostess. When halfway up the flight, Mignon
had reappeared at the head of the staircase, descending with a hurricane
rush that precluded remark on Susan’s part. Returning to the living room
she asked Muriel crossly: “What are we to do with her?”

“We’d better hold a second meeting and see,” replied Muriel. “Girls,”
she raised her voice, “please come to order again. I’ve something to say
to you.”

Gathered together at one end of the room, the group of girls promptly
obeyed. Resuming her position of authority, Muriel burst forth with,
“Something must be done about Mignon. I think she has forfeited her
right to membership. After what’s happened to-night we can’t allow her
to keep on being in the club. We must ask her to resign.”

Seven voices at once rose in hearty agreement. Only Marjorie, Irma, and
Constance remained silent.

“With Mignon out of the club, Jerry will come back,” reminded Harriet
Delaney eagerly. “Irma ought to write Mignon to-night and mail the
letter on the way home.”

“That’s my opinion,” nodded Rita Talbot.

“Mine, too,” sounded a faithful chorus.

“Perhaps we’d better wait until after the next meeting before taking
such action,” argued Marjorie soberly. “Just now I feel sure that we
ought to ask for Mignon’s resignation. Later I may not see it in that
light. My decision will depend largely on the way Mignon treats Veronica
at our next meeting. Her temper got the better of her to-night. Perhaps
we had better give her another chance.”

“That would be a good test. We mustn’t be too hasty,” cautioned generous
Irma. “I believe with Marjorie that we should postpone our decision
until after next Thursday night’s meeting. Then if we are still of the
same mind we shall feel that we have acted fairly.”

“We’ve already been altogether too fair,” sputtered Gertrude Aldine. “I
don’t see why we should feel any hesitation about sending Mignon that
letter to-night. The sooner it’s sent, the sooner we’ll have Jerry with
us again.”

“Jerry could be with us now, if she chose.” Very quietly Constance
answered Gertrude’s impetuous reminder. “We should not use Jerry as an
excuse for expelling Mignon from the club. We should consider only
whether Mignon has failed so utterly as a member that we must expel her
in self-defense. If we drive her out of the Lookouts, she will take it
as a direct admission that we are afraid of her; that eleven members
cannot stand together against one. If we prove loyal to our obligations,
what chance will she have against us? Once she realizes this, either she
will submit to what she can’t change, or else she will resign from the
club of her own accord. Only a little more than three months is left us
of our senior year. Ought we to pass the name ‘Lookouts’ along to our
successors with the stain of an expelled member on it? That is also a
point to be considered.”

“You and Marjorie and Irma are right, as usual,” conceded Muriel Harding
vexedly. “I suppose we ought to follow your advice. Perhaps Mignon will
kindly take the matter out of our hands before then. Girls, are you
satisfied to abide by the counsel of the Three Wise Women of Sanford?”
she questioned humorously. “Has anyone any further serious objections?
If so, please rise.”

Pure loyalty to Marjorie Dean alone kept every girl in her seat.
Although each respected the counsel of Constance and Irma, Marjorie’s
wish now became her law. Her magnanimity of spirit was too great to be
overlooked. Yet in her heart each hoped that pride would force Mignon
into resigning from the Lookouts of her own free will before the week
ended.

Could the Lookouts have looked into Mignon La Salle’s own room, at the
very moment in which they agreed upon a week’s clemency, their fond hope
would have died a sudden death. Her door carefully locked against
parental intrusion, Mignon was rapidly penning a lengthy letter to
Rowena Farnham. Her thin lips curved themselves into a malicious smile
as her pen sped over the paper. It was late when she finished the
writing of it, and stole cat-footed down the front stairs and out of the
house to mail it. Having come to a standstill in her own capacity for
trouble-making, she had appealed for advice to one who could be depended
upon to give her fresh impetus.



CHAPTER XXIV—A TREASURELESS TREASURER


During the week that followed Mignon’s fiery outburst against Veronica
at the club meeting Muriel Harding received no welcome letter from the
former announcing her resignation from the Lookouts. To all appearances
such was not her intention. When the next Thursday evening rolled round,
the Lookouts, including their latest addition, Veronica Browning, met at
Gray Gables. To the secret disappointment of the majority Mignon was not
among those present. With the exception of Irma, Marjorie and Constance,
the others were impatient to see how the French girl would behave toward
Veronica. The latter had been privately warned by Marjorie as to what
might possibly occur and had agreed to meet Mignon’s probable
discourtesy with silence.

It was not until the meeting had reached the point of “unfinished
business” that the question relating to the absent rebel came up for
discussion.

“Girls,” began Muriel, “you all know what comes under this head. Let me
hear from you informally.”

“It looks as though we’d have to wait another week and see what
happens,” observed Susan Atwell. With a faint giggle she added: “When is
a test not a test?”

A ripple of ready laughter followed this suggestive question.

“Perhaps it is all for the best,” remarked Irma philosophically. “We may
find after all that——”

A reverberating peal of the door bell cut short her discourse. Every
pair of bright eyes became questioningly directed toward the sound. Was
it their graceless treasurer who now demanded admittance? Followed a
moment of expectant waiting, then a maid appeared in the curtained
doorway of the library in which the Lookouts were gathered.

“Here’s a note for you, Miss Muriel,” she announced as she stepped into
the room. Delivering it into Muriel’s hand she promptly disappeared.

“Humph!” ejaculated Muriel as she stared at the tiny, pale gray
envelope. “By your leave, Lookouts,” she added with a nod to her
friends. Tearing open an end of the envelope she drew forth its
contents. A frown of displeasure knitted her brows as she scanned the
unexpected message. Raising her eyes from it she said: “This note is
from Mignon La Salle. I will read it to you. She writes:

  “‘Miss Harding:

  “‘I have decided not to attend the further meetings of the club. I
  shall still hold my office as treasurer. If you wish to consult me on
  business matters or desire to draw upon the treasury for checks with
  which to meet the various current expenses, kindly write me at my
  home. From time to time, I shall send you my official report.

                                                        “‘Yours truly,
                                                  “‘Mignon La Salle.’”

“This is the last straw,” declared Muriel grimly. “It seems to me that
our duty is plain.”

“I am of the same mind.” Marjorie Dean’s decided tones sent a little
thrill over her listeners. It was evident to all that her limit of
endurance had been reached. “I move,” she continued with calm finality,
“that Irma write Mignon La Salle stating that we accept her note as a
resignation from the Lookouts and request her to turn over the club’s
books, now in her possession, to our president Muriel Harding.”

Constance Stevens instantly seconded the motion. It was voted upon and
carried with an alacrity that bespoke the intense approval of those
assembled.

Again Marjorie was heard. “I nominate Susan Atwell to fill the now
vacant office of treasurer.”

It is needless to say that this motion was also promptly seconded, voted
upon and carried. The unbelievable had come to pass. Marjorie Dean had
at last renounced the difficult responsibility she had shouldered so
long. As a result of this revelation the dignity of the meeting
collapsed into a babble of excited opinions. Muriel made no effort to
restore order but drew her chair into the circle and entered willingly
into the spirited discussion that centered around Mignon La Salle.

“I’m glad you’ve come to your senses, Marjorie Dean,” stoutly asserted
Daisy Griggs. “I must say I was surprised when you made that first
motion.”

“I have just one thing to say.” Marjorie’s brown eyes were filled with
purposeful light. “Then I wish to drop the subject of Mignon. She has
defied the club and so forfeited her right to membership. When the books
of the club have been placed in Muriel’s hands, I shall go to Mr. La
Salle and insist on being released from my promise. That’s all.”

Rising, she walked to a window, half ready to cry. It had been very hard
for her to contemplate the idea of seeking kindly Mr. La Salle with such
unpleasant information. She felt keenly the humiliation of being obliged
to admit to him her failure. Yet as Muriel had said it was, indeed, “the
last straw.” As she stood looking out at the white, moonlit night she
was driven to believe that Mignon La Salle’s better self would ever
remain a minus quantity.

Mignon’s astounding stand having been sufficiently discussed, the
Lookouts devoted the rest of the evening strictly to enjoyment.
Constance sang, Veronica danced, the others also contributing various
entertaining stunts. A most delectable little supper was disposed of to
the accompaniment of sprightly conversation and merry laughter, thereby
proving that the loss of a faithless treasurer was small loss indeed.

It had been a simple matter to accept Mignon’s note as a resignation and
elect a new treasurer. It had been equally easy to inform Mignon to that
effect by letter. When, at the end of the week, however, Muriel received
neither the books of the club, nor any response whatever from Mignon, it
was decided that Muriel and Irma should introduce Susan to the
Vice-President of the First National Bank of Sanford and request that
the Lookouts’ account be transferred to her guardianship. She would then
receive a check and bankbook and thus be fitly equipped to perform her
new duties.

Irma Linton had made a habit of incorporating into the minutes of the
meetings the treasury reports which Mignon had read out to the club from
time to time. This data would now prove invaluable to Susan in opening a
new book, should Mignon obstinately delay the return of the one in her
possession. Believing that she might do this, Muriel and Susan quietly
agreed to take steps to attain complete independence of her.

Not desiring to act too hastily, they waited with commendable patience
until it lacked but a day until the next meeting of the Lookouts.
Although they daily saw Mignon at school, it was as though they had
never known her. She haughtily ignored the Lookouts and they made no
effort to change the state of marked hostility she had willed. Having
notified her of their wishes through the proper channels of the club,
they now maintained a dignified silence, refusing to act other than
impersonally.

At the close of the Wednesday morning session, Susan and Irma set out
for the First National Bank to put their mutual agreement into effect.
Ushered into the vice-president’s office, they were coldly received by
that august person. His very manner was such as to indicate personal
injury to him on their part. Rather timidly Muriel introduced Susan and
stated her request.

His air of distant courtesy relaxing he said in a mollified tone: “Ah,
yes, I understand. It is your intention to re-deposit the funds of your
club in this bank. We supposed them to have been permanently removed. It
was unnecessary in your retiring treasurer, Miss La Salle, to draw them
out. I shall be pleased to adjust matters.” Privately he was thinking
the whole affair quite characteristic of a bevy of heedless school
girls.

A united gasp of astonishment welled up from two throats.

“Draw them _out_?” Muriel’s voice rose on the last word. “But we
didn’t——!”

“Why—what——” stammered Susan.

Muriel drew a long breath. “When did Miss La Salle draw out this money,
Mr. Wendell?” she asked, striving to speak casually.

“On Tuesday, I believe. Just a moment. I will ascertain positively if I
am correct in my statement.” Rising, he bowed courteously to his young
visitors and left the office.

“Mignon has _taken_ the Lookouts’ money,” burst forth Susan, the instant
the two were left to themselves. “What are we to do about it? We’d
better explain everything to Mr. Wendell and ask his advice.”

Muriel stared at Susan, but made no reply. The enormity of Mignon’s
latest misdeed fairly stunned her. Despite the shock, there now rose
within her a curious impulse to protect rather than expose this lawless
girl.

“I think we had better not explain things to him now,” she said slowly.
“It’s like this. Mignon has drawn our money from the bank on purpose to
spite us. She doesn’t want it for herself. What she intends to do is to
hold it until her term is up as treasurer. She knows that we shall need
a part of it to meet the monthly expenses of the day nursery, but she
wants to make us send to her for it. She intended to do this money stunt
when she wrote that letter. We can’t decide what we ought to do about
her until we talk to the others.”

Mr. Wendell’s entrance into the office prevented further confidential
talk between the two.

“I find my statement correct,” he announced. “The entire account,
amounting to seven hundred and forty-six dollars, sixty-seven cents, was
turned over to Miss La Salle on Monday. Since you wish to redeposit this
sum of money in Miss Atwell’s name, I would advise that she and Miss La
Salle come here together with it at their convenience. Then we can
handle the matter satisfactorily, I assure you.”

“Thank you, Mr. Wendell.” Muriel rose, with as much dignity as she could
master. “As there has evidently been a mistake made about our account we
will be obliged first to take it up with the club before redepositing
the money. You will hear from me in regard to it within two or three
days. We have no wish to place our funds in another bank.”

With a brief farewell to the nonplussed bank official, Muriel and Susan
made their escape into the street, where they could unburden themselves
undisturbed. Before school closed that afternoon Marjorie, Constance and
Irma had been put in possession of the full news. That evening at the
Deans’, five girls met in solemn conclave. Long and earnestly they
discussed the unpleasant situation. The fruit of that discussion took
shape in a letter to Mignon requesting the immediate turning over of the
Lookouts’ bank account to Susan Atwell. Under the circumstances it was
an exceedingly mild letter. It was mailed special delivery in the hope
that the wrongdoer would receive it in time to repair her error before
the club met on the following evening.

Mignon, however, had no intention of thus yielding so easily. Her letter
to Rowena Farnham had brought her an immediate reply from the latter
which pleased her immensely. Acting upon Rowena’s unscrupulous advice
she had boldly marched to the bank, and withdrawn in actual cash the
club’s entire capital. Furthermore, she had locked it away in a secret
drawer of her writing desk and vowed to leave it there until the
expiration of her term as treasurer.



CHAPTER XXV—THE TREACHEROUS TREASURER AND THE SLIPPERY SLEUTH


Indignation ran rife among the Lookouts when on Thursday evening they
came into the dismaying knowledge that thanks to Mignon, Susan Atwell
had become a treasureless treasurer. Irma was instructed to write the
culprit a letter, considerably sharper than had been the one of the
previous day. As a last touch every member of the club affixed her name
to it. It failed completely in its purpose. Neither by word nor sign did
Mignon show any indication that she had received it.

Next a committee, composed of Muriel, Susan, Irma and Marjorie, waylaid
her on the road home from school. She met their reproaches with scorn,
expressed uncomplimentary opinion of them and snapped derisive fingers
in their faces. Frequent mischievous letters from Rowena Farnham had
greatly influenced her to continue in her bold stand. The fact that her
father had left Sanford on a protracted business trip had also much to
do with it. Though far from the scene of action, Rowena was enjoying
hugely the triumphant progress of the affair as reported faithfully to
her by Mignon.

The one way open to the Lookouts, they magnanimously refused to take.
Though they were in sore need of money to meet their expenses it had
been agreed after much rueful discussion that they would not call upon
outsiders to adjust their difficulties. Though she did not deserve
consideration, nevertheless Mignon received it at their hands. Very
loyally they guarded their secret cross lest the misdeed of their
faithless schoolmate should become known and she herself branded as a
thief. As Marjorie had argued, Mignon was after all just a schoolgirl
and her reputation for honesty must be protected. Even Marjorie’s
beloved Captain and General did not share the secret. She had long since
vowed within herself, however, some day to tell them everything.

March roared and blustered out the remainder of his days. April smiled
and wept her changeable course toward May, yet the secret drawer in
Mignon’s writing desk still hoarded its unlawful contents. By dint of
great personal sacrifice on the part of the Lookouts, the expenses of
the day nursery had been thus far met. They were greatly troubled,
however, regarding how they might continue to meet them until such time
as Mignon should see fit to deliver unto the club its own.

Meanwhile Jerry Macy still pursued her lonely way. Immediately after
Mignon’s note to the club had been accepted as a resignation, Muriel
Harding boldly accosted Jerry to inform her of it. “Now stop being a
goose, Jerry, and come back to the club,” had been her somewhat tactless
invitation.

Although long since convinced of her goose-like qualities, Jerry was not
ready to hear of them from others. She gruffly declined Muriel’s
invitation with, “I’ll wait until I’m good and ready before I come back,
if ever I do.” A note from Marjorie would undoubtedly have met with a
more amiable response. Marjorie longed to write it, yet a certain
stubborn pride of her own stayed her hand. She wished Jerry to return to
the Lookouts of her own volition. Due also to the fact that Mr. La Salle
was still out of town, Marjorie had had no opportunity to seek release
from her promise.

On seeking Jerry, Muriel had briefly acquainted her with the details of
the occurrence that had led to an acceptance of Mignon’s note as a
resignation by the Lookouts. Jerry knew nothing, however, of what had
transpired later until, by a curious freak of chance, she came into
possession of the news. It came about through Muriel Harding’s rash
promise to Mr. Wendell that the funds of the Lookouts would be
redeposited in his bank within two or three days. Unable to keep her
word, she had gained the united consent of the club to offer him a full
explanation of the matter. Privately disapproving of Mignon’s part in
the affair he had unburdened himself of his views to Mr. Macy, an
important stockholder in the bank. Knowing the latter’s daughter to be
president of the club he had briefly suggested to her father a course of
action that might prove efficacious. Ignorant of the fact that Jerry had
quarreled with the Lookouts, Mr. Macy mentioned to her Mr. Wendell’s
practical suggestion.

Betraying no outward sign of the astonishment which her father’s
revelation afforded her, Jerry accepted the advice with the solemnity of
an owl, asked a few astute questions and calmly betook herself one fine
afternoon in early May to the office of a rising Sanford lawyer, who
happened to be a first cousin of hers. When, after an earnest
consultation with the young man, she took her leave, her broadly-smiling
features registered the signal success of her call.

On the evening of the same day, an alert, self-possessed young man rang
the La Salles’ doorbell and politely inquired for Mr. La Salle. Informed
of his absence he expressed a further wish to see “Miss La Salle,”
presented a calling card and was ushered into the drawing room. A single
glance at the sinister bit of pasteboard and Mignon began to quake
inwardly. Knowing the professional reputation of her caller she could
draw but one ominous conclusion. To defy the Lookouts was one thing; to
defy the Law another. Undoubtedly he had been engaged by the club to
force her to deliver up the cachéd money. Perhaps she would be arrested
and tried in court for her crime!

Her sharp face very pale, knees trembling, she entered the drawing room,
feeling like a criminal on the way to punishment. Greatly to her
surprise her caller greeted her with courteous impersonality. She did
not share, however, his suave expression of regret at her father’s
absence. To her it was an undisguised blessing.

Her fears diminished a trifle as he proceeded to engage her in pleasant
conversation which had no bearing on the, to her, dangerous subject.
Deciding that he had merely dropped in to pay her father a social call,
Mignon recovered her courage and promptly set out to make herself
agreeable. Very tactfully he directed the discourse toward himself and
his profession. He related several incidents of peculiar cases,
carefully avoiding all mention of names, that had come under his
jurisdiction. He ended his law reminiscences with the tale of a young
man who, having quarreled with his mother, rifled a safe in his mother’s
room and hid the contents out of pure spite, thus hoping to bring her to
his own terms. Contrary to all expectations his mother promptly had him
arrested for burglary, despite his frantic assurances that he had
cherished no thought of not returning the money, but had hidden it
merely for revenge.

“And—was—he—sent to prison?” Mignon’s tones were decidedly shaky.

“No. His mother did not carry it further. She decided that he had
learned a lesson and withdrew the charge. It was a very severe lesson,
however. He did not relish the idea of being regarded by the public as a
thief. His mother felt the publicity to be necessary, I suppose. He had
been a sore trial to her. It must have hurt her pride. Still, you know,
desperate diseases require desperate remedies.”

Shortly after delivering this Parthian shot, the disturbing advocate of
the law smilingly took his departure, leaving a thoroughly miserable and
frightened girl to digest his remarks at her leisure. It may be said
that the tragic tale of the too-vengeful young man was absolutely true.
It had been carefully culled from among records in the young lawyer’s
possession as bearing directly upon Mignon’s case.

At the next regular meeting of the Lookouts, held at Harriet’s home, the
members of that worthy organization received the surprise of their young
lives. Deep in anxious conference regarding the ways and means of
raising money to meet their steadily-mounting expenses, they were
startled by a loud ringing of the doorbell that caused each mind to
revert to another occasion when precisely the same thing had happened.

It was Muriel herself who answered the door. When she reappeared among
her companions her pretty face wore a somewhat dazed expression. In one
hand she bore an oblong package, the outlines of which suggested a book.

“Girls,” she said in an awed voice, “the unbelievable has come to pass.
Someone please take this package and open it. I’m simply flabbergasted.”
Marjorie, springing from her chair to relieve Muriel of it, the latter
dropped down on the davenport with a half-hysterical chuckle.

“Oh!” Marjorie uttered a faint cry, as the concealing wrapping torn
away, the contents of the package burst upon her amazed eyes. Her
exclamation was echoed in concert by the eager on-lookers. Clutched
firmly in Marjorie’s hands, they beheld a familiar black-covered book
that had long been missing. On top of it was a neat pile of bank notes
held together by an elastic band. Crowning the notes was a small, gray
envelope.

“What—why—it’s our money!” almost shouted Daisy Griggs.

A confused outcry followed her loud exclamation as each girl attempted
an individual remark.

“Open the envelope! Hurry, Marjorie! I wonder what made her send it
back! It’s a miracle!”

All this was directed to Marjorie, as she obediently ripped open the
envelope. Exploring it for a note, a shower of small change fell from it
to the floor. Stooping, she hastily gathered it together. “There is
nothing else in the envelope,” she said, her lips curving in a whimsical
smile. “Susan, you are no longer a treasureless treasurer. Please assume
the duties of your office and count this money. As for me, I can’t
really make it seem true.” Turning the money over to Susan, Marjorie
dropped into a nearby chair, a prey to mingled emotions.

“What do you suppose happened to Mignon to make her send——” began Muriel
wonderingly. A second peal of the doorbell sent her speeding again to
the door, her question half-asked. A moment and the alert listeners
heard her voice raised in a little ecstatic cry of “Jerry!”

Hearing it, the Lookouts made for the wide doorway of the living room in
a body. On the threshold their rush was checked. Her arm about Muriel’s
waist, Jerry Macy stood surveying them, her round face wreathed in
smiles.

“Well, Lookouts, I’ve come back,” she announced sheepishly. “I’ve been
hanging around outside the house for the last hour waiting to see if
anything would happen. Of course I wasn’t sure, but I had an idea Mignon
would send that money here to-night. I thoughtfully sent her an unsigned
typewritten notice stating where the meeting was to be. I see the
money’s here, all right enough.” Her shrewd gaze had singled out the
bundle of banknotes on the library table. “I saw the La Salles’
chauffeur stop his car at the gate, so I guessed things were O. K.”

These remarkable statements were received by a volley of curious,
exclamatory questions, all hurled at Jerry in the same moment.

“Jerry,” entreated Marjorie, when she could make herself heard, “won’t
you please take your old place and explain a few things? We can never
get to the bottom of this miracle unless you tell us.” Stepping forward,
she stretched forth two impulsive hands. Jerry’s own hands shot out and
caught them in a tight clasp. All the pain of separation and joy of
reconciliation went into that meeting of hands.

Affectionately escorted by Marjorie to the president’s chair, Jerry
dropped into it with a sigh. “Maybe it isn’t good to be back,” she said,
a suspicious quaver in her usually matter-of-fact tones. “Now draw up
your chairs, children, and I’ll tell you the whole terrible tale of the
treacherous treasurer and the slippery sleuth. But before I begin it, I
want to say right here that I’ve been every variety of goose that ever
happened. I’m only going to hold down the presidential chair until I
tell my story: Then Muriel is going to take it again and I’m going to be
just a member of the club.”

So saying, Jerry launched forth with an account of her exploits as a
sleuth which held her hearers’ divided between laughter at her artful
methods and pity for the girl who had never learned to rule her own
spirit. “That’s all,” she ended. “Now I’m going to beat it—I mean vacate
this chair.”

“You mean you’re going to sit right where you are,” asserted Muriel with
decision. “Lookouts,” she turned to the little company who were now on
their feet to protest against Jerry’s avowed intention, “there can never
be but one president for us; Jerry, Geraldine Jeremiah Macy!”

And thus in her moment of penitent renunciation, too-hasty but
valiant-hearted Jerry received a never-to-be-forgotten lesson in
loyalty.



CHAPTER XXVI—HER BETTER SELF


The week following Jerry’s return to the Lookouts, together with the
restoration of their cachéd money, took on a distinctly festival tone. A
round of jolly little merry-makings went on at the various members’
homes, on each occasion of which Jerry was the guest of honor. Her
aggravating behavior of the past was completely obliterated by the
Lookouts’ joy at her return to them.

Quite the contrary, Mignon La Salle was speedily beginning to realize
that “the way of the transgressor is hard.” It was not remorse for her
despicable conduct that had forced this knowledge upon her. The moment
that the money, which she had tantalizingly withheld from the club out
of spite, was out of her hands, her courage came back with a rush. She
had already reached the stage of upbraiding herself for having thus been
so easily frightened, when a dire calamity befell her.

Three days after she had dispatched William to Harriet’s home with the
fateful package, her father returned. Having occasion to enter the First
National Bank of Sanford on business, he heard there a tale from its
vice-president that sent him hurrying from the bank in wrathful quest of
his unmanageable daughter. In taking this step, Mr. Wendell had been
actuated by what he believed to be the best of motives. As a close
friend of Mr. La Salle, the vice-president had deemed it his duty to
inform the Frenchman of the affair. A rigid advocate of the belief that
the younger generation was allowed entirely too much liberty, he had not
been in sympathy with the delicate consideration the Lookouts had
exhibited toward Mignon. He was of the opinion that she should be
severely punished, and accordingly constituted himself as a committee of
one to act in the matter.

Completely out of patience with his lawless daughter, Mr. La Salle had
left the bank, enraged determination in his eye. He had proceeded
directly to Sanford High School, insisting there that Mignon be released
from study for the day. With no word of greeting other than a stern,
“Wicked, ungrateful girl, I have found you out,” he marched her home
with him. Once safely in the confines of his own residence, he let loose
on her a torrent of recrimination, half English, half French, that
reduced her to the lowest depths of terrified humility. At the end of
it, he pronounced doom. “You shall go to a convent school at once. You
shall not have the honor to graduate in the same class with the
excellent young women you have so shamefully treated. In a convent
school, all the time you will be watched. Then, perhaps, you will learn
that it pays not to do wrong.”

In vain Mignon wept, pleaded, promised. This time her father was
adamant. He sternly forbade her return to Sanford High School and would
hardly allow her to leave the house. He visited Miss Archer, stating
gloomily to the surprised principal that due to Mignon’s own failings he
had decided to remove her from high school and place her in the more
strict environment of a convent school. To her kindly proposal that he
give his erring daughter another chance, he made emphatic refusal. “She
has defied me one time too often,” he declared. “Now she must of a truth
be severely punished.”

He wrote a note to the Lookout Club, apologizing for his daughter’s
shortcomings, and he also wrote another, much in the same strain, to
Marjorie Dean, thanking her for past kindnesses and releasing her from
her promise. In the note to Marjorie he stated his unrelenting resolve
regarding Mignon. Though she had small reason to feel sympathy for
Mignon, nevertheless Marjorie pitied her whole-heartedly. As she
solemnly remarked to her captain, it was very hard on Mignon to be
snatched from school almost on the very eve of her graduation.

Meanwhile, Mignon was racking her troubled brain for some means of
evading the fate her father had thrust upon her. Thus far she had not
dared write Rowena and confess that she had been frightened into
returning the Lookouts’ money. She had known only too well the weight of
her friend’s displeasure even in small matters. Rowena would never
forgive her for thus having so easily given in. Urged on by the
conviction that no one save Rowena could suggest a way out of her
present difficulty, Mignon finally sat down and wrote her a most garbled
account of her defeat. She represented herself to be the victim of a
deep-laid plot and a much-abused person all around. She ended with a
vigorous tirade against her father and appealed desperately to Rowena
for help out of her difficulties. Her father was already in
communication with the head of the school to which he had decreed she
should go, she informed Rowena. “If you are truly my friend,” she wrote,
“try to think of some way to help me out of this trouble.”

By keeping an alert watch on the mail, Mignon managed to lay hands on
Rowena’s answer to her plea, which arrived three days after the sending
of her letter to her boon companion. It arrived at her home during her
father’s absence and she lost no time in locking herself in her room,
there to read it undisturbed. The first two pages consisted entirely of
Rowena’s brutally frank opinion of her for being so cowardly. The third
and fourth, however, held a suggestion that fairly took Mignon’s breath.
At first she mentally flung it aside as impossible. Considering it
further, she became better pleased with it. After a half hour of somber
reflection, she decided to adopt it.

Mignon was not the only one, however, who had a problem to consider.
Marjorie Dean was also wrestling with a difficulty of her own. Since the
receipt of Mr. La Salle’s note, she had thought frequently and
sorrowfully of wayward Mignon. Several times she had attempted to answer
the Frenchman’s note, but could think of nothing to say. She did not
approve of his plan to cut his daughter off from the graduation she had
so nearly won. Still, she could hardly set down her opinion in a letter
to him. After several days of troubled reflection, she decided to go to
him and ask him to reconsider his determination.

To her friends she said nothing of this; to her captain she said a great
deal. Mrs. Dean made no attempt to dissuade her. “You must fight it out
by yourself, Lieutenant,” she counseled. “If you feel that Mignon is
really worth your good offices, then by all means go to her father.
Remember, she has never played fairly with you. You are still in the
dark as to what means she employed to estrange poor little Lucy Warner
from you.”

“I know it,” sighed Marjorie. “Still, I feel so sorry for her that I
can’t bear to stand by and not try to help her. I think I’ll go to Mr.
La Salle’s office after school is over for the day.”

In order not to arouse her friends’ curiosity, she strolled home from
school with them as usual. Stopping merely to salute her captain, she
faced about and hurried toward the main street of the little city on
which his office was situated. To her deep disappointment she found his
office locked. It meant a trip to his residence after dinner that
evening. She must lose no further time in obtaining an interview with
him, else it might be too late. He had written that Mignon was to be
sent away immediately.

When she started out for the office the sky had looked threatening.
Before she reached home it had begun to rain, and by dinner time a heavy
downpour had set in that bade fair to keep up steadily all evening. Not
to be thus easily disheartened, Marjorie waited until almost eight
o’clock, then announced her determination to go at any rate.

“Then I shall go with you,” decided her mother. “You shall not go alone
to Mignon’s house. We will drive in the automobile. There is a poor
woman who lives near the La Salles on whom I ought to call. I will stop
at her home and wait for you there while you make your plea to Mr. La
Salle.”

This was highly satisfactory to Marjorie. A few minutes later, prepared
to face the storm, Marjorie and her captain had repaired to the Deans’
small garage at the back of the house for the automobile, and were soon
driving through the rain on their double errand of mercy.

“You needn’t bother to take me the rest of the way, Captain,” assured
Marjorie, as they neared the shabby little house where Mrs. Dean was to
make her call. “It’s only a block. I’ll run fast and hardly get wet. My
hat and raincoat will stand the bad weather.”

“Suit yourself,” smiled her mother as Marjorie skipped lightly out of
the car. “Don’t be too long, dear. I will wait for you, but try to come
back within the half hour.”

“Always obey your superior officer.” Her hand to her soft felt hat,
Marjorie made jaunty salute. Then she flitted on up the street and was
soon lost in the blackness of the night.

Her mind on her errand, she hurried along, paying small attention to the
discomfort of the falling rain. The La Salle estate, which occupied half
a block, lay just around a corner from the place where she had alighted.
Her head bent, she made the turn just in time to collide sharply with a
pedestrian who was approaching on a run from the opposite direction. The
force of the collision sent a suitcase that the latter was carrying to
the sidewalk.

“I beg your pardon,” began Marjorie. “Did I——”

“Why don’t you look where you’re going?” demanded an angry voice, as the
owner of the suitcase stooped to recover it.

At sound of the familiar tones, Marjorie cried out: “Mignon La Salle!
Why, Mignon, you are the last person I expected to see on such a night.”
Pausing, she regarded the still stooping girl in pure astonishment. To
meet Mignon hurrying along on foot through the rain, minus an umbrella
and burdened with a suitcase struck her as being decidedly peculiar.

Mignon straightened up with an angry jerk. “You’ve made me lose my
handbag,” she accused furiously. “I let go of it with my suitcase when
_you_ came blundering along and crashed against me. You’ve always
brought me bad luck, Marjorie Dean. I wish you’d never came to Sanford
to live. I’ll miss my train and it will be _your_ fault. Don’t stand
there like a dummy. Help me hunt for my bag. I’ve got to make my train.
Do you hear me?”

Already Marjorie was bending low, her anxious hands groping about on the
sidewalk in search of the lost bag. Mignon, too, was hunting frantically
for it, keeping up a continuous fire of half-sarcastic, half-lamenting
remark.

“Here it is,” cried Marjorie, as her searching fingers came in contact
with the leather of the bag. “I’m glad I found it and I’m sorry I made
you drop it.” Privately she was wondering at Mignon’s apparent
agitation. It was far more intense than her anger.

Both girls straightening up simultaneously, Marjorie caught full sight
of Mignon’s face under the flickering gleam of a neighboring arc light.
It was white and set and her black eyes held a hunted, desperate look.
Without a word of thanks she snatched the bag from Marjorie’s hand,
picked up her suitcase and started on.

Yet in that revealing instant under the arc light a sudden, terrifying
apprehension laid hold on Marjorie. Mignon’s pale, tense features, her
evident haste, the suitcase, her frenzied determination to make the
train, the fact that she was rushing through the rain on foot to the
station—all seemed to tally with the dreadful suspicion that gripped
Marjorie. Could it be that Mignon was running away from home?

To think was to act with Marjorie. In a flash she was speeding to
overtake the fleeing girl, now a few yards ahead of her. Catching up
with Mignon, she cried out on impulse, “You mustn’t run away from home,
Mignon! Please, _please_ go back with me! When I met you I was on my way
to your house to ask your father if you couldn’t stay in Sanford High
and graduate with our class.”

“Who told _you_ I was going to run away from home?” flashed Mignon,
whirling fiercely upon Marjorie.

“No one told me,” was the steady admission. “It just came to me all of a
sudden. If I’m wrong, forgive me. If I’m right, then please don’t do
it.” Marjorie’s voice rose beseechingly. “You have everything in the
world to make you happy. Your father loves you, even if he _is_ angry
with you now. No one else will ever take care of you as he has.”

“My father _hates_ me,” contradicted Mignon savagely. “If he really
cared for me he could never send me away to be a prisoner in a convent
school. Yes, I am going to leave home, and you nor anyone else shall
stop me. Everybody hates me and I hate everybody!” The last word ended
in a passionate sob of mingled rage and humiliation. Mignon was now
tasting the bitterness of one against whom the world has turned.

“Poor Mignon.” Moved by sincere pity, Marjorie laid a comforting hand on
the would-be refugee’s arm.

That gentle expression of sympathy, accompanied by the tender little
caress, stirred into life an emotion hitherto unknown to Mignon’s
rebellious soul. Assailing her as a climax to the strain of the past few
days, it completely unnerved her. Her self-control vanishing she dropped
her suitcase and burst into wild weeping. Winding her arms about the
sobbing girl, Marjorie tried to soothe her as best she might.
Fortunately for them, no passer-by intruded upon the little scene. Only
the complaining rain lent its monotonous accompaniment to Mignon’s sobs.

“Let us go back to your house, Mignon,” proposed Marjorie practically
with a view toward bracing up the weeper. “Someone is likely to come
along and see us. You will go, won’t you?”

“Yes,” came the husky reply.

“All right.” Making an effort to speak with the utmost cheerfulness,
Marjorie loosed her hold on Mignon and picked up the suitcase. “I’ll
carry it,” she said. “It’s only a little way to your home. But first, I
must stop at that little house over there and tell Captain to wait for
me longer. I’d like to have a talk with you and you know I am to see
your father. Is he at home?”

“Yes. In the library. I left the house by the back entrance so that he
wouldn’t see me. I hid my suitcase outside,” confessed Mignon in a low,
shamed voice. “I was going to New York to see Rowena. She promised to
help me get on the stage. Her uncle is a theatrical manager.”

“I’m glad you have changed your mind,” was the hearty assertion.
Marjorie was thinking that she was not in the least surprised to learn
that Rowena Farnham was at the root of Mignon’s flight.

“I would never have hidden the money if it hadn’t been for her,” Mignon
continued bitterly. “Still, it’s my fault, after all. I shouldn’t have
listened to her. But this is the end. I’m going to be different, even if
my father sends me away to school. I guess I started wrong and somehow
could never do right. I deserve to be punished, though. It just breaks
my heart when I think of not graduating from Sanford High.”

Marjorie listened in wonder. Was it really lawless Mignon who had just
spoken so penitently? Could it be that her better self had at last found
the light? “You _are_ going to graduate from Sanford High,” she declared
staunchly. “We must go to your father and tell him everything. I’m sure
he’ll understand.”

Mignon sighed at the prospect ahead of her, yet she made no dissent to
Marjorie’s plan. She had small faith in her father’s clemency, but she
had at last taken a step in the right direction and she was resolved to
go on. “We might as well go to the front door and ring the bell,” she
said dejectedly. “I know he’ll be terribly angry, but I’ll have to stand
it.”

Mignon’s prediction of her father’s anger was not an idle one. Of the
excitable Latin temperament, his indignation flamed high when the two
girls entered the library where he sat quietly reading and Mignon
haltingly confessed to him the details of her interrupted flight. His
scathing words of rebuke brought on a second flood of tears. Mignon
crumpled up in a big chair, a figure of abject misery. It was then that
Marjorie took the floor and in her sweet, gracious fashion earnestly
pleaded clemency for the weeper.

It was the most difficult task she had ever undertaken to perform.
Exasperated beyond measure, Mr. La Salle at first utterly refused to
consider her plea. He could not find it within his heart to forgive his
daughter. He was bent on punishing her with the utmost severity and her
latest defiance of him served to strengthen his determination.
Marjorie’s repeated assertion that by her confession Mignon had already
proved her sincerity of purpose appeared to carry small weight.

“You do not know this ungrateful one as I, her father, know her,” was
his incensed retort. “Often she has promised the good behavior, but only
promised. Never has she fulfilled the word. How then can she expect that
I shall forgive and believe her?”

“But this time Mignon _will_ keep her word,” returned Marjorie with
gentle insistence. “I am sure that if her mother were living she would
forgive and believe. No matter what I had done, _my_ mother would
forgive me. If I were truly sorry she would believe in me, too. You are
nearest of all in the world to Mignon. Won’t you try to overlook the
past and let her come back to the senior class? Whatever else displeases
you in her, she has at least been successful in her studies. She stands
high in all her classes. She is Professor Fontaine’s most brilliant
pupil in French. It does seem hard that she should have to give up now
what she has so nearly won.”

Without realizing it, Marjorie had advanced a particularly effective
argument. Mignon’s high standing in her various classes during her high
school career had always afforded her father signal pleasure. Thus
reminded, paternal pride awoke and struggled against anger. Marjorie’s
reference to Mignon’s mother had also touched him deeply.

Following her earnest little speech, a brief interval of silence ensued,
during which Mr. La Salle stared gloomily at his weeping daughter. Moved
by a sudden rush of pity for his motherless girl, he walked over to her
and rested a forgiving hand on her diminished head. Very gently he
addressed her in his native tongue. Marjorie felt a rush of unbidden
tears rise to her own eyes, when the next instant she became witness to
a tender reconciliation which she never forgot.

It was nearer two hours than one before she prepared to say good night
to the two for whom she had done so much. Brought at last to a state of
sympathetic understanding such as they had never before known, father
and daughter were loath to part from this sincere, lovely young girl. To
Mr. La Salle’s proposal to see her safely to the house where her mother
awaited her, Marjorie made gracious refusal. She was anxious to get away
by herself. The whole affair had been extremely nerve-racking and she
longed for the bracing atmosphere of the outdoors as an antidote to the
strain she had undergone.

She was visited by a feeling of intense impatience when, stepping into
the hall, accompanied by Mignon and her father, the former humbly asked
her to delay her departure for a moment. Leaving her, Mignon sped up the
front stairs, returning almost instantly. Announcing to her father her
wish to go with Marjorie as far as the gate, the now smiling man saw his
guest as far as the veranda and retired into the house.

“I have something to give you,” began Mignon, as they started down the
walk. “It’s—that——” she faltered briefly “——that letter Lucy Warner
wrote you. I found it in the locker room. I saw it fall out of your
blouse—and—I—took it—and—read it. I know it was wrong. Then I kept it. I
was angry—because you wouldn’t tell me about you and Lucy that day at
Miss Archer’s. I—made—Lucy think you _had_ told me about it. She
wouldn’t believe it, so I said, ‘What about the Observer?’ She thought I
knew something I didn’t know at all. I had no idea what ‘the Observer’
meant. To-morrow I shall go to her and tell her so,” she continued
bravely. “I’m sorry for all the hateful things I’ve done to you and said
about you. You are the finest, truest girl in the whole world, Marjorie
Dean. You’ve done something for me to-night that I’ll remember and be
grateful to you for as long as I live. There’s not much left of my
senior year but I am going to try to make my last days in Sanford High
count. Some day I hope I can prove to you that I am worthy of your
friendship. But not yet.” With this she shoved the troublesome letter
into Marjorie’s limp hand.

Bereft for the moment of speech, Marjorie clutched the letter, wondering
again whether she were actually awake, or living in a queer dream.
Mignon’s revelation had laid the last ghost. She had untied the final
knot in the tangle of her own making. More, she had given the best
possible proof of sincere repentance. “Mignon,” it was now Marjorie’s
voice that trembled, “you’ve already proved yourself my friend. I’m glad
for your sake and Lucy’s and mine that you were so brave as to tell me
about the letter and return it to me. All I can say is: Let us forget
and be friends.”



CHAPTER XXVII—COMMENCEMENT


The next morning Miss Archer held a memorable interview in her private
office with Mignon La Salle. It was evidently a satisfactory talk. When
it terminated, the hands of teacher and pupil met in an understanding
clasp. On leaving the inner office, Mignon halted at Lucy Warner’s desk,
there to perform a difficult act of restitution.

Not gifted with Marjorie Dean’s divine power of forgiveness, Lucy was
filled with righteous wrath against Mignon. Added to the anger Mignon’s
confession aroused was remorse for her unbelief in Marjorie. She vowed
bitterly that she would never forgive Mignon and she meant it. It was
not until she had made humble amend to Marjorie for her own sins and
received gracious pardon, that her better nature began to stir.
Conscience whispering to her that as she had freely received so should
she freely give, she went to Mignon and retracted her harsh vow. Thus
Marjorie Dean’s beneficent influence again made itself felt.

Mignon’s return to school occasioned much speculation on the part of her
class mates. As only the Lookouts knew the true reason of her brief
withdrawal from Sanford High, it had been a subject for fruitful
cogitation among the other seniors. Not even the Lookouts knew, with one
exception, the reason for Mignon’s return. Among themselves they laid it
to her ability to manage her father. Marjorie, the one exception, kept
her own secret. What took place on a certain rainy evening remained
locked forever within her heart. Besides the three intimately interested
parties to the little drama, only one other shared the secret. From her
captain she kept back nothing.

To Marjorie the remaining days of May passed with a pleasant
uneventfulness, which she mentally likened to the welcome calm that
inevitably succeeds a storm. She was filled with a quiet sense of
exultation. With the ending of her senior year had come peace. Mignon’s
miraculous change of heart had resulted in removing from the senior
class the last element of discord. The seniors were now indeed one
heart, one soul, marching on, shoulder to shoulder, toward the end of
their high school course.

She had but one regret. She earnestly wished that the new Mignon might
again take her place among the Lookouts. The fulfilling of this desire,
however, would entail an amount of explanation which she did not feel
privileged to make. She and Mignon discussed the painful subject at
length, both agreeing sadly that matters must remain as they were.
Having sown chaff with a liberal hand, this unhappy reminder of her
treacherous conduct was in itself a part of the bitter harvest Mignon
was obliged to reap. As she had meted it out to others, so it had been
measured back to her. With the belated realization, however, had come
resigned acceptance. Mignon’s feet were at last planted firmly in the
straight path.

The arrival of rose-decked June marked the beginning of the pleasant
flurry which always attends the sweet girl graduate’s preparations for
Commencement. Strolling home from school each afternoon in the warm
sunshine of early summer, Marjorie and her devoted companions brimmed
with eager conversation relating to the momentous occasion. With
Commencement exercises set for the morning of June twenty-second, they
were divided between anticipation of the event and regret at saying
good-bye to Sanford High.

The day nursery was also an important topic of discussion. Although
their successors had been already chosen, they were not expected to take
up their new responsibilities until school re-opened in the fall. The
original Lookouts had decided to carry on the work as best they could
through the summer. Vacation time would see a part of their number
absent from Sanford during one or more of the summer months. In
consequence the daily pilgrimages to the nursery at which they had taken
turns could not continue. Each girl had agreed, however, to go there as
often as possible to assist the two women in charge, who were
permanently attached to the place.

Their chief anxiety for the welfare of the little home they had founded
related to money matters. The present prosperous state of the Lookouts’
treasury would keep the enterprise in a flourishing condition until well
into the next year. After that they could only hope that their
successors would find ways and means to continue the good work. They had
solemnly pledged themselves to pay a year’s dues in advance into the
treasury before leaving home in the autumn to continue their education
in the various colleges of their choice. They were also resolved to get
together during the next Christmas vacation and devise some sort of
entertainment which their town folks would patronize. This much at least
they could offer to the cause they had so generously espoused.

Lingering at the Macys’ gate on the way from school one afternoon to
discuss this very important subject, Jerry remarked confidentially: “I
almost forgot to tell you a real piece of news. My father told me about
it this noon. Someone, he wouldn’t say who, has offered Sanford High a
scholarship to Hamilton College. The name of the giver is to be
announced on Commencement morning with the winner’s name. We’ll probably
hear about it at chapel to-morrow morning. I thought you’d like to know
beforehand. It’s a splendid chance for Lucy Warner or Veronica, for that
matter. They’re both brilliant students. Either is likely to win it.”

“Isn’t that wonderful?” glowed Marjorie. “I don’t know which of the two
I’d rather see win it. Lucy’s heart is set on going to college. I’ve
never heard Ronny say anything about it. I suppose she would like to go
on with her education, though.”

“Of course you’ve never heard her say a word about it,” retorted Jerry,
“or about anything else. She’s beyond me. I said when I first met her
that I was going to find out the whys and wherefores of her. I’ve never
found out a thing. Where she learned to dance so beautifully, where
those two expensive dancing dresses came from, why she works for her
board and looks like a princess, are mysteries I can’t ferret out. She’s
a perfect dear and has helped the Lookouts a lot, but she’s the great
enigma, just the same.”

“It’s rather queer about her,” mused Marjorie. “I used to think that
she’d some day explain a few things. Perhaps there’s really nothing
mysterious to explain. She is probably a natural dancer. Miss Archer
must have given her those two beautiful dresses and she was born with
the air of a princess.”

“That’s not the answer,” disagreed Jerry with a shake of her head. “I
guess it’s the only one we’ll ever get, though, so why worry about it?
I’m a baffled sleuth and I might as well own up to it. I can’t
truthfully say now that I know everything about everybody.”

Jerry’s admitted mystification regarding Veronica Browning deepened
considerably. When the club met at Marjorie’s home the next evening, the
latter quietly assured her that she had no intention to try for the
scholarship. The announcement of it and the details of the test
examinations to be held to determine the winner, having been publicly
made that very morning, it was freely discussed at the meeting. Of the
Lookouts, it appeared that Lucy Warner was the only one to try for it.
Several members of the senior class, outside the club, had also entered
the lists.

The parting of the ways so near, the sextette of girls who had emerged
from their freshman year, a devoted band, clung fondly to one another.
Not even the glories of approaching Commencement and the consciousness
of work well done could drive away the thought that their school days
together would soon be a thing of the past. Commencement would witness a
break in the fond little circle. The next fall Marjorie, Jerry and
Muriel were to take up their new life at Hamilton College. Susan and
Irma expected to enter Wellesley College, while Constance Stevens would
begin her training for grand opera in New York City. It would indeed be
a parting of the ways.

Although Harriet Delaney had not been of their original number, she was
equally dear. It was a source of consolation to Marjorie that Harriet
was also bound for the same conservatory as Constance. She reflected
that, with Hamilton College not very far from New York, she would be
always in direct touch with both girls. It was conceded by all that they
would miss Veronica sorely. Several times Marjorie had questioned her
regarding her future plans, only to receive evasive replies that
discouraged further inquiry.

So while June laughed its fragrant, blossoming way toward the
twenty-second of the month, the sextette of sworn friends became doubly
endeared to one another as they took their last walks together to and
from school. As Lookouts they would continue to meet regularly until
their vacation flittings began, but as schoolmates their days were
numbered. Having disposed of their final tests in January, they were
free of the bugbear of examinations. The week preceding Commencement Day
took on a singularly social tone. Jerry and Hal gave their long
postponed dance. Constance gave an informal hop at Gray Gables. Muriel
sent out invitations for a lawn party, and Marjorie entertained the
Lookouts at a Saturday luncheon.

Commencement Day dawned with a cloudless blue sky and a lavish display
of sunshine. More than one pair of anxious feet pattered to the window
before seven o’clock that morning to view the weather prospects. To the
members of the senior class it was thus far the most eventful day in
their short lives. They considered it quite their due that Nature should
put on her most radiantly smiling face in their honor.

Awake with dawn, Marjorie had slipped on a soft, pink negligee and
curled herself up on her window seat for a quiet little session with
herself. A pensive wistfulness lay in her brown eyes as she gazed
dreamily out at the beauty of the sunlit morning. Her mind harked back
to her first days at Sanford High School. Again she saw herself a timid
outlander, entering the great study hall for the first time. It seemed
ages ago. How quickly her four years at high school had sped! There had
certainly been plenty of vicissitudes. Compared to the joys that had
been hers, they paled to insignificance. She marveled that she should
have been so abundantly blessed. Face to face with the end of her
course, she could only regret that she had not done more to deserve
these benefits. Untouched by false pride or vanity, she could not know
how great a power for good she had been. Very humbly she bowed her head
in a silent prayer of thankfulness to the Divine Source from whence all
blessings flowed.

At breakfast, however, this retrospective mood was temporarily banished
by her General’s teasing sallies. Later, as she donned her exquisite
graduation gown of white chiffon, reverence again flowed over her like a
mantle. When at ten o’clock her father assisted her into the waiting
limousine with much ridiculous ceremony, she presented an unusually
lovely vision of radiant girlhood. Only the faint brooding light in her
eyes gave sign of the deeper emotion that lay behind them.

The Commencement exercises were to be held in Sanford Hall, a good-sized
auditorium on an upper floor of the high school building. The anteroom
was to be used as a meeting place for the graduates. From there they
were to march, two by two, into the main auditorium. The first three
rows of seats at the left of the large room, roped in by broad white
ribbon, had been reserved for them. In contradistinction to the custom
of many high schools, none of the graduates were to read essays. As
valedictorian, Lucy Warner was the only one of them to be publicly
heard. The pastor of the First Episcopal Church of Sanford was to
address the graduates. The President of the Board of Education and Miss
Archer were also to make short addresses. To the former belonged the
privilege of announcing the winner of the scholarship.

Marjorie’s entrance into the anteroom was the signal for a soft murmur
of admiration on the part of a group of white-gowned, flower-laden girls
gathered in a corner of the rendezvous. To her adoring friends she had
never before looked quite so utterly lovely. The purity of her dainty
gown served to enhance the beauty of her sparkling brown eyes and
sweetly serious features. A sheaf of long-stemmed white roses, which she
carried, was the last touch needed to complete the picture.

“You’re the ideal girl graduate, Marjorie,” greeted Jerry, who had come
forward to meet her. “I look nice, the girls there look nicer, but you
look nicest. Hal will be all puffed up with pride when he sees you with
his roses. Connie is carrying the ones Laurie sent her.”

“It was thoughtful in Hal to send them.” Marjorie’s color heightened.
“They are exquisite. I wanted him to know how much I appreciated them.
Someone was nice to you, too, Jerry,” she added slyly, noting the huge
bouquet of pink roses on Jerry’s plump arm.

It was Jerry who now flushed. “I have Danny Seabrooke to thank for
them,” she confided. “Don’t you dare tell the girls, though.”

Before she could make laughing promise of secrecy, they had reached the
others. For the next five minutes a lively exchange of conversation went
on among the bevy of graduates, now clustered around Marjorie. She then
left them to pay her admiring respects to Mignon La Salle, who had just
arrived. Her sharp features animated by a smile of genuine friendliness,
Mignon had never appeared to better advantage. Her white lingerie gown,
a marvel of expensive simplicity, Marjorie thought the most becoming
frock she had ever seen Mignon wear.

Pausing to clasp hands and chat with her for a moment, Marjorie passed
on to speak to Lucy Warner, a dignified little figure in a simple white
organdie frock. As valedictorian, Lucy was living in a maze of proud
happiness. From one to another of her classmates, Marjorie wandered,
leaving behind her an atmosphere of good will, created by her lovable
personality. In all her class there was not one who did not wish her
well.

Seated at last in Sanford Hall between Jerry and Constance, she made an
alarming discovery. Glancing up and down the rows of white-clad girls,
she noted that Veronica Browning was absent. What had happened to keep
Ronny away, she wondered in perplexity. The question repeated itself in
her brain as she tried to fix her mind on the clergyman’s address.

Her eyes constantly sought the door nearest the graduates’ section in
the hope of seeing the missing girl appear. She wondered if her friends
had also made the same belated discovery. Of a sudden she drew a sharp
breath. A slender, graceful girl had entered the hall and was
noiselessly making her way to the ribboned enclosure. Was this beautiful
newcomer, in the ravishing white lace frock, humble Veronica Browning? A
gasping sigh from Jerry announced the stout girl’s patent amazement at
the metamorphosis. The sigh was followed by an emphatic jab from Jerry’s
elbow which spoke volumes. Marjorie had but to glance about her to note
equal signs of mental perturbation on the part of her classmates as
Veronica slipped into a vacant seat in the third row.

The end of the exercises, however, was destined to furnish them with an
even greater surprise. Eagerly alert to hear the name of the winner of
the scholarship, the announcement that Lucy Warner had gained it was not
in itself a matter of astonishment. It was the speaker’s next remark
that furnished the surprise.

“I take great pleasure in announcing that this scholarship, the first to
be presented to Sanford High School, is the gift of Miss Veronica
Browning Lynne. Miss Lynne wishes it to be known hereafter as the
‘Marjorie Dean Scholarship,’ a tribute of her esteem for Miss Marjorie
Dean,” was the bombshell that burst on the senior class.

The thunder of applause that swept the auditorium drowned his further
speech. Down among the graduates Marjorie Dean presented a petrified
figure of amazement. Her brown eyes blinded by tears, she heard dimly
the vigorous acclamation of her schoolmates and townspeople. Dimly she
was aware that Jerry was holding one of her hands; Constance the other.
With a little sob, she freed them, hiding her burning cheeks behind
them. Nor did she have the courage to remove them until the clamor died
away. Again she heard the speaker’s voice.

“I have also another announcement to make which, while not strictly
related to high school matters, pertains to a number of the graduates
who are members of the senior class sorority, ‘The Lookout Club.’ During
the short period in which this sorority has been in existence it has
accomplished much good. Mr. Victor La Salle, one of our most prominent
Sanford citizens, wishes me to state that in token of his kindly regard
for Miss Marjorie Dean, a member of the club, he wishes to make an
endowment of one thousand dollars a year to be used by the Lookout Club
as a help in carrying on their work.

“I may also add that Miss Dean is to be congratulated on having attained
to so high a position of regard in the estimation of the donors.”

Marjorie could never quite remember the ending of the Commencement
exercises. As in a dream she walked up on the stage with her class to
receive her diploma to the tune of fresh and infinitely embarrassing
applause. The unexpected had robbed her of coherent thought. Three words
alone sang in her bewildered brain, “Veronica Browning Lynne.”

The exercises ended, she moved mechanically off the stage in the line of
graduates, headed toward the anteroom. Exiting from stage into the side
room, she became immediately the center of a buzzing throng of highly
excited girls.

“Here she is, Marjorie,” shrieked Jerry, as she laid gentle hold on
Veronica and shoved her into Marjorie’s outstretched arms.

“Ronny, who are you?” was all Marjorie could say as she folded Miss
Archer’s “servant girl” in her arms.

For answer Veronica merely laughed. Raising her clear voice she said,
“Girls, I have something to say to you. I am a wicked impostor. I hope
you’ll all forgive me for deceiving you so long. I did so for purely
personal reasons. I am really not so very poverty-stricken and I was
never a servant of Miss Archer’s. She is my god-mother. I came to visit
her, but decided to stay in Sanford and go to high school. I played at
being a servant just for fun. That’s all.”

It was indeed “all” so far as Veronica wished the majority of her
classmates to know. That afternoon, however, Marjorie, Jerry and
Constance gathered in Miss Archer’s living room to hear the more
intimate details of the affair from Veronica’s lips.

“I couldn’t explain things to the others,” she began. “I wish only you
three to know the rest. It was Mignon who put the servant idea in my
head. When you and she called on my god-mother that day, Marjorie, I was
amused to find that she thought me a maid. I was merely helping
God-mother straighten the house while Hulda was away. It came to me in a
flash that it would be fun to pretend poverty and see what happened. So
I made God-mother promise to keep quiet about the real me. I’m glad now
that I did. It has shown me how splendid girls can be. I love the
Lookouts, every one, but I know Jerry and Connie won’t feel hurt if I
say I love Marjorie best of all.

“Before I came here, I went to a select boarding school near New York
City. I didn’t care much for it and when God-mother visited us last
summer she urged me to try a year of high school for a change. That’s
how I happened to come here. Only one person in Sanford found me out,
your friend Laurie Armitage. It happened that he had seen me do that
Dance of the Night at an open air performance which we gave for charity
at the boarding school. The moment he saw me in that black robe he
recognized me. I made him promise to keep my secret. As for my dancing,
I’ve always loved to dance. My mother, who died years ago, was a
professional dancer. My father is Alfred Lynne, who owns so many fruit
ranches in California. Now have I explained myself satisfactorily?”

“You have.” Jerry drew a long breath. “I must say you kept your secret
well. I’ll tell you frankly, I tried my hardest to find out who you
really were. I never believed you were what you pretended to be. I can’t
get over it.”

“Nor I,” echoed Marjorie. To herself she was thinking that she now knew
who had sent Lucy Warner the ten dollars. Irrelevantly she added:
“You’ve done a great deal for Lucy Warner, Ronny, and for Sanford High
School. I didn’t deserve the honor of having the scholarship named for
me. I hardly know how to thank you for such a wonderful thing.”

“I offered the scholarship especially for Lucy,” admitted Veronica. “I
have always felt sorry for her. I knew she wanted to go to college, and
I thought she would win it. She is a very stubborn but very brilliant
girl. As for you, Marjorie, you deserve the best that life can give you.
It’s eminently fitting that your name should be perpetuated in Sanford
High School. Isn’t it, girls?”

Veronica’s question elicited an affectionate response from Jerry and
Constance that caused Marjorie’s hand to cover her ears in playful
protest against such lavish appreciation of herself.

“You are hopeless, all of you,” she declared, a slight tremble in her
clear tones. “You forget that I’m just plain Lieutenant Dean with a long
hike ahead of me through the Country of College. As a freshman at
Hamilton I’ll be a very insignificant person. Whatever I’ve been or
tried to be in Sanford won’t count there. But your faith in me will
count for a great deal. Trying to live up to it will keep me out of
mischief. Then I can’t help but be a good soldier.”


                                THE END



The Girl Chum’s Series

ALL AMERICAN AUTHORS. ALL COPYRIGHT STORIES.

A carefully selected series of books for girls, written by popular
authors. These are charming stories for young girls, well told and full
of interest. Their simplicity, tenderness, healthy, interesting motives,
vigorous action, and character painting will please all girl readers.

HANDSOME CLOTH BINDING.

PRICE, 75 CENTS

  BENHURST, CLUB, THE. By Howe Benning.

  BERTHA’S SUMMER BOARDERS. By Linnie S. Harris.

  BILLOW PRAIRIE. A Story of Life in the Great West. By Joy Allison.

  DUXBERRY DOINGS. A New England Story. By Caroline B. Le Row.

  FUSSBUDGET’S FOLKS. A Story For Young Girls. By Anna F. Burnham.

  HAPPY DISCIPLINE, A. By Elizabeth Cummings.

  JOLLY TEN, THE; and Their Year of Stories. By Agnes Carr Sage.

  KATIE ROBERTSON. A Girl’s Story of Factory Life. By M. E. Winslow.

  LONELY HILL. A Story For Girls. By M. L. Thornton-Wilder.

  MAJORIBANKS. A Girl’s Story. By Elvirton Wright.

  MISS CHARITY’S HOUSE. By Howe Benning.

  MISS ELLIOT’S GIRLS. A Story For Young Girls. By Mary Spring Corning.

  MISS MALCOLM’S TEN. A Story For Girls. By Margaret E. Winslow.

  ONE GIRL’S WAY OUT. By Howe Benning.

  PEN’S VENTURE. By Elvirton Wright.

  RUTH PRENTICE. A Story For Girls. By Marion Thorne.

  THREE YEARS AT GLENWOOD. A Story of School Life. By M. E. Winslow.


For sale by all booksellers, or sent postpaid on receipt of price by the
publishers

A. L. BURT COMPANY, 114-120 East 23d Street. New York



The Girl Comrade’s Series

ALL AMERICAN AUTHORS. ALL COPYRIGHT STORIES.

A carefully selected series of books for girls, written by popular
authors. These are charming stories for young girls, well told and full
of interest. Their simplicity tenderness, healthy, interesting motives
vigorous action, and character painting will please all girl readers.

HANDSOME CLOTH BINDING.

PRICE, 75 CENTS.


  A BACHELOR MAID AND HER BROTHER. By I. T. Thurston.

  ALL ABOARD. A Story For Girls. By Fanny E. Newberry.

  ALMOST A GENIUS. A Story For Girls. By Adelaide L. Rouse.

  ANNICE WYNKOOP, Artist. Story of a Country Girl. By Adelaide L. Rouse.

  BUBBLES. A Girl’s Story. By Fannie E. Newberry.

  COMRADES. By Fannie E. Newberry.

  DEANE GIRLS, THE. A Home Story. By Adelaide L. Rouse.

  HELEN BEATON, COLLEGE WOMAN. By Adelaide L. Rouse.

  JOYCE’S INVESTMENTS. A Story For Girls. By Fannie E. Newberry.

  MELLICENT RAYMOND. A Story For Girls. By Fannie E. Newberry.

  MISS ASHTON’S NEW PUPIL. A School Girl’s Story. By Mrs. S. S. Robbins.

  NOT FOR PROFIT. A Story For Girls. By Fannie E. Newberry.

  ODD ONE, THE. A Story For Girls. By Fannie E. Newberry.

  SARA, A PRINCESS. A Story For Girls. By Fannie E. Newberry.

For sale by all booksellers, or sent postpaid on receipt of price by the
publishers

A. L. BURT COMPANY, 114-120 East 23d Street. New York



The AMY E. BLANCHARD Series

Miss Blanchard has won an enviable reputation as a writer of short
stories for girls. Her books are thoroughly wholesome in every way and
her style is full of charm. The titles described below will be splendid
additions to every girl’s library.

Handsomely bound in cloth, full library size.

Illustrated by L. J. Bridgman. Price, 75 cents per volume, postpaid.

The Glad Lady. A spirited account of a remarkably pleasant vacation
spent in an unfrequented part of northern Spain. This summer, which
promised at the outset to be very quiet, proved to be exactly the
opposite. Event follows event in rapid succession and the story ends
with the culmination of at least two happy romances. The story
throughout is interwoven with vivid descriptions of real places and
people of which the general public knows very little. These add greatly
to the reader’s interest.

Wit’s End. Instilled with life, color and individuality, this story of
true love cannot fail to attract and hold to its happy end the reader’s
eager attention. The word pictures are masterly; while the poise of
narrative and description is marvellously preserved.

A Journey of Joy. A charming story of the travels and adventures of two
young American girls, and an elderly companion in Europe. It is not only
well told, but the amount of information contained will make it a very
valuable addition to the library of any girl who anticipates making a
similar trip. Their many pleasant experiences end in the culmination of
two happy romances, all told in the happiest vein.

Talbot’s Angles. A charming romance of Southern life. Talbot’s Angles is
a beautiful old estate located on the Eastern Shore of Maryland. The
death of the owner and the ensuing legal troubles render it necessary
for our heroine, the present owner, to leave the place which has been in
her family for hundreds of years and endeavor to earn her own living.
Another claimant for the property appearing on the scene complicates
matters still more. The untangling of this mixed-up condition of affairs
makes an extremely interesting story.


For sale by all booksellers, or sent postpaid on receipt of price by the
publishers

A. L. BURT COMPANY, 114-120 East 23d Street. New York



The Blue Grass Seminary Girls Series

By CAROLYN JUDSON BURNETT

Handsome Cloth Binding

Splendid Stories of the Adventures of a Group of Charming Girls

  THE BLUE GRASS SEMINARY GIRLS’ VACATION ADVENTURES; or, Shirley
  Willing to the Rescue.

  THE BLUE GRASS SEMINARY GIRLS’ CHRISTMAS HOLIDAYS; or, A Four Weeks’
  Tour with the Glee Club.

  THE BLUE GRASS SEMINARY GIRLS IN THE MOUNTAINS; or, Shirley Willing on
  a Mission of Peace.

  THE BLUE GRASS SEMINARY GIRLS ON THE WATER; or, Exciting Adventures on
  a Summer’s Cruise Through the Panama Canal.


The Mildred Series

By MARTHA FINLEY

Handsome Cloth Binding

A Companion Series to the Famous “Elsie” Books by the Same Author

  MILDRED KEITH

  MILDRED AT ROSELANDS

  MILDRED AND ELSIE

  MILDRED’S MARRIED LIFE

  MILDRED AT HOME

  MILDRED’S BOYS AND GIRLS

  MILDRED’S NEW DAUGHTER

For sale by all booksellers, or sent postpaid on receipt of price by the
publishers

A. L. BURT COMPANY, 114-120 East 23d Street, New York.



The Camp Fire Girls Series

By HILDEGARD G. FREY.

The only series of stories for Camp Fire Girls endorsed by the officials
of the Camp Fire Girls’ Organization.

Handsome Cloth Binding.

PRICE, 75 per Volume.

  THE CAMP FIRE GIRLS IN THE MAINE WOODS; or, The Winnebagos go Camping.

    This lively Camp Fire group and their Guardian go back to Nature in a
    camp in the wilds of Maine and pile up more adventures in one summer
    than they have had in all their previous vacations put together.

  THE CAMP FIRE GIRLS AT SCHOOL; or, The Wohelo Weavers.

    How these seven live wire girls strive to infuse into their school
    life the spirit of Work, Health and Love and yet manage to get into
    more than their share of mischief, is told in this story.

  THE CAMP FIRE GIRLS AT ONOWAY HOUSE; or, The Magic Garden.

    Migwan is determined to go to college, and not being strong enough to
    work indoors earns the money by raising fruits and vegetables. The
    Winnebagos all turn a hand to help the cause along and the “goings-on”
    at Onoway House that summer make the foundation shake with laughter.

  THE CAMP FIRE GIRLS GO MOTORING; or, Along the Road That Leads the
  Way.

    In which the Winnebagos take a thousand mile auto trip.

  THE CAMP FIRE GIRLS’ LARKS AND PRANKS; or, The House of the Open Door.

  THE CAMP FIRE GIRLS ON ELLEN’S ISLE; or, The Trail of the Seven
  Cedars.

  THE CAMP FIRE GIRLS ON THE OPEN ROAD; or, Glorify Work.

  THE CAMP FIRE GIRLS DO THEIR BIT; or, Over the Top with the
  Winnebagos.

  THE CAMP FIRE GIRLS SOLVE A MYSTERY; or, The Christmas Adventure at
  Carver House.

  THE CAMP FIRE GIRLS AT CAMP KEEWAYDIN; or, Down Paddles.

For sale by all booksellers, or sent postpaid on receipt of price by the
publishers

A. L. BURT COMPANY, 114-120 East 23rd St., New York



The Boy Allies
(Registered in the United States Patent Office)
With the Navy

By ENSIGN ROBERT L. DRAKE

Handsome Cloth Binding, Price 75 Cents per Volume

Frank Chadwick and Jack Templeton, young American lads, meet each other
in an unusual way soon after the declaration of war. Circumstances place
them on board the British cruiser “The Sylph” and from there on, they
share adventures with the sailors of the Allies. Ensign Robert L. Drake,
the author, is an experienced naval officer, and he describes admirably
the many exciting adventures of the two boys.

  THE BOY ALLIES ON THE NORTH SEA PATROL; or, Striking the First Blow at
  the German Fleet.

  THE BOY ALLIES UNDER TWO FLAGS; or, Sweeping the Enemy from the Seas.

  THE BOY ALLIES WITH THE FLYING SQUADON; or, The Naval Raiders of the
  Great War.

  THE BOY ALLIES WITH THE TERROR OF THE SEA; or, The Last Shot of
  Submarine D-16.

  THE BOY ALLIES UNDER THE SEA; or, The Vanishing Submarine.

  THE BOY ALLIES IN THE BALTIC; or, Through Fields of Ice to Aid the
  Czar.

  THE BOY ALLIES AT JUTLAND; or, The Greatest Naval Battle of History.

  THE BOY ALLIES WITH UNCLE SAM’S CRUISERS; or, Convoying the American
  Army Across the Atlantic.

  THE BOY ALLIES WITH THE SUBMARINE D-32; or, The Fall of the Russian
  Empire.

  THE BOY ALLIES WITH THE VICTORIOUS FLEETS; or, The Fall of the German
  Navy.


For sale by all booksellers, or sent postpaid on receipt of price by the
publishers

A. L. BURT COMPANY, 114-120 East 23rd St., New York



The Boy Allies
(Registered in the United States Patent Office)
With the Army

By CLAIR W. HAYES

Handsome Cloth Binding, Price 75 Cents per Volume

In this series we follow the fortunes of two American lads unable to
leave Europe after war is declared. They meet the soldiers of the
Allies, and decide to cast their lot with them. Their experiences and
escapes are many, and furnish plenty of the good, healthy action that
every boy loves.


  THE BOY ALLIES AT LIEGE; or, Through Lines of Steel.

  THE BOY ALLIES ON THE FIRING LINE; or, Twelve Days Battle Along the
  Marne.

  THE BOY ALLIES WITH THE COSSACKS; or, A Wild Dash Over the
  Carpathians.

  THE BOY ALLIES IN THE TRENCHES; or, Midst Shot and Shell Along the
  Aisne.

  THE BOY ALLIES IN GREAT PERIL; or, With the Italian Army in the Alps.

  THE BOY ALLIES IN THE BALKAN CAMPAIGN; or, The Struggle to Save a
  Nation.

  THE BOY ALLIES ON THE SOMME; or, Courage and Bravery Rewarded.

  THE BOY ALLIES AT VERDUN; or, Saving France from the Enemy.

  THE BOY ALLIES UNDER THE STARS AND STRIPES; or, Leading the American
  Troops to the Firing Line.

  THE BOY ALLIES WITH HAIG IN FLANDERS; or, The Fighting Canadians of
  Vimy Ridge.

  THE BOY ALLIES WITH PERSHING IN FRANCE; or, Over the Top at Chateau
  Thierry.

  THE BOY ALLIES WITH THE GREAT ADVANCE; or, Driving the Enemy Through
  France and Belgium.

  THE BOY ALLIES WITH MARSHAL FOCH; or, The Closing Days of the Great
  World War.

For sale by all booksellers, or sent postpaid on receipt of price by the
publishers

A. L. BURT COMPANY, 114-120 East 23rd St., New York



The Boy Scouts Series

By HERBERT CARTER

Handsome Cloth Binding, PRICE, 75 per Volume

  THE BOY SCOUTS’ FIRST CAMP FIRE; or, Scouting with the Silver Fox
  Patrol.

  THE BOY SCOUTS IN THE BLUE RIDGE; or, Marooned Among the Moonshiners.

  THE BOY SCOUTS ON THE TRAIL; or, Scouting through the Big Game
  Country.

  THE BOY SCOUTS IN THE MAIN WOODS; or, The New Test for the Silver Fox
  Patrol.

  THE BOY SCOUTS THROUGH THE BIG TIMBER; or, The Search for the Lost
  Tenderfoot.

  THE BOY SCOUTS IN THE ROCKIES; or, The Secret of the Hidden Silver
  Mine.

  THE BOY SCOUTS ON STURGEON ISLAND; or, Marooned Among the Game Fish
  Poachers.

  THE BOY SCOUTS DOWN IN DIXIE; or, The Strange Secret of Alligator
  Swamp.

  THE BOY SCOUTS AT THE BATTLE OF SARATOGA.

    A story of Burgoyne’s defeat in 1777.

  THE BOY SCOUTS ALONG THE SUSQUEHANNA; or, The Silver Fox Patrol Caught
  in a Flood.

  THE BOY SCOUTS ON WAR TRAILS IN BELGIUM; or, Caught Between the
  Hostile Armies.

  THE BOY SCOUTS AFOOT IN FRANCE; or, With the Red Cross Corps at the
  Marne.

For sale by all booksellers, or sent postpaid on receipt of price by the
publishers

A. L. BURT COMPANY, 114-120 East 23rd St., New York



Our Young Aeroplane Scout Series

(Registered in the United States Patent Office)

By HORACE PORTER

Handsome Cloth Binding, Price 75 Cents per Volume

A series of stories of two American boy aviators in the great European
war zone. The fascinating life in mid-air is thrillingly described. The
boys have many exciting adventures, and the narratives of their numerous
escapes make up a series of wonderfully interesting stories.

  OUR YOUNG AEROPLANE SCOUTS IN FRANCE AND BELGIUM; or, Saving the
  Fortunes of the Trouvilles.

  OUR YOUNG AEROPLANE SCOUTS IN GERMANY.

  OUR YOUNG AEROPLANE SCOUTS IN RUSSIA; or, Lost on the Frozen Steppes.

  OUR YOUNG AEROPLANE SCOUTS IN TURKEY; or, Bringing the Light to Yusef.

  OUR YOUNG AEROPLANE SCOUTS IN ENGLAND; or, Twin Stars in the London
  Sky Patrol.

  OUR YOUNG AEROPLANE SCOUTS IN ITALY; or, Flying with the War Eagles of
  the Alps.

  OUR YOUNG AEROPLANE SCOUTS AT VERDUN; or, Driving Armored Meteors Over
  Flaming Battle Fronts.

  OUR YOUNG AEROPLANE SCOUTS IN THE BALKANS; or, Wearing the Red Badge
  of Courage.

  OUR YOUNG AEROPLANE SCOUTS IN THE WAR ZONE; or, Serving Uncle Sam In
  the Cause of the Allies.

  OUR YOUNG AEROPLANE SCOUTS FIGHTING TO THE FINISH; or, Striking Hard
  Over the Sea for the Stars and Stripes.

  OUR YOUNG AEROPLANE SCOUTS AT THE MARNE; or, Harrying the Huns From
  Allied Battleplanes.

  OUR YOUNG AEROPLANE SCOUTS IN AT THE VICTORY; or, Speedy High Flyers
  Smashing the Hindenburg Line.

For sale by all booksellers, or sent postpaid on receipt of price by the
publishers

A. L. BURT COMPANY, 114-120 East 23rd St., New York



The Navy Boys Series

A series of excellent stories of adventure on sea and land, selected
from the works of popular writers; each volume designed for boys’
reading.

Handsome Cloth Bindings

PRICE, 75 CENTS PER VOLUME

  THE NAVY BOYS IN DEFENCE OF LIBERTY, by William P. Chipman.

    A story of the burning of the British schooner Gaspee in 1772.

  THE NAVY BOYS ON LONG ISLAND SOUND, by James Otis.

    A story of the Whale Boat Navy of 1776.

  THE NAVY BOYS AT THE SIEGE OF HAVANA, by James Otis.

    Being the experience of three boys serving under Israel Putnam in
    1772.

  THE NAVY BOYS WITH GRANT AT VICKSBURG, by James Otis.

    A boy’s story of the siege of Vicksburg.

  THE NAVY BOYS’ CRUISE WITH PAUL JONES, by James Otis.

    A boy’s story of a cruise with the Great Commodore in 1776.

  THE NAVY BOYS ON LAKE ONTARIO, by James Otis.

    The story of two boys and their adventures in the War of 1812.

  THE NAVY BOYS’ CRUISE ON THE PICKERING, by James Otis.

    A boy’s story of privateering in 1780.

  THE NAVY BOYS IN NEW YORK BAY, by James Otis.

    A story of three boys who took command of the schooner “The Laughing
    Mary,” the first vessel of the American Navy.

  THE NAVY BOYS IN THE TRACK OF THE ENEMY, by William P. Chipman.

    The story of a remarkable cruise with the Sloop of War “Providence”
    and the Frigate “Alfred.”

  THE NAVY BOYS’ DARING CAPTURE, by William P. Chipman.

    The story of how the navy boys helped to capture the British Cutter
    “Margaretta,” in 1775.

  THE NAVY BOYS’ CRUISE TO THE BAHAMAS, by William P. Chipman.

    The adventures of two Yankee Middies with the first cruise of an
    American Squadron in 1775.

  THE NAVY BOYS’ CRUISE WITH COLUMBUS, by Frederick A. Ober.

    The adventures of two boys who sailed with the great Admiral in his
    discovery of America.



The Boys Spies Series

These stories are based on important historical events, scenes wherein
boys are prominent characters being selected. They are the romance of
history, vigorously told, with careful fidelity to picturing the home
life, and accurate in every particular.

Handsome Cloth Bindings

PRICE, 75 PER VOLUME

  THE BOY SPIES AT THE BATTLE OF NEW ORLEANS, by William P. Chipman.

    A story of the part they took in its defence.



  THE BOY SPIES AT THE DEFENCE OF FORT HENRY, by James Otis.

    A boy’s story of Wheeling Creek in 1777.



  THE BOY SPIES AT THE BATTLE OF BUNKER HILL, by James Otis.

    A story of two boys at the siege of Boston.



  THE BOY SPIES AT THE SIEGE OF DETROIT, by James Otis.

    A story of two Ohio boys in the War of 1812.



  THE BOY SPIES WITH LAFAYETTE, by James Otis.

    The story of how two boys joined the Continental Army.



  THE BOY SPIES ON CHESAPEAKE BAY, by James Otis.

    The story of two young spies under Commodore Barney.



  THE BOY SPIES WITH THE REGULATORS, by James Otis.

    The story of how the boys assisted the Carolina Patriots to drive the
    British from that State.



  THE BOY SPIES WITH THE SWAMP FOX, by James Otis.

    The story of General Marion and his young spies.



  THE BOY SPIES AT YORKTOWN, by James Otis.

    The story of how the spies helped General Lafayette in the Siege on
    Yorktown.



  THE BOY SPIES OF PHILADELPHIA, by James Otis.

    The story of how the young spies helped the Continental Army at Valley
    Forge.



  THE BOY SPIES OF FORT GRISWOLD, by William P. Chipman.

    The story of the part they took in its brave defence.

  THE BOY SPIES OF OLD NEW YORK, by James Otis.

    The story of how the young spies prevented the capture of General
    Washington.


For sale by all booksellers, or sent postpaid on receipt of price by the
publishers. A. L. BURT COMPANY, 114-120 East 23d Street, New York



The Jack Lorimer Series

5 Volumes By WINN STANDISH

Handsomely Bound in Cloth

Full Library Size

  CAPTAIN JACK LORIMER; or, The Young Athlete of Millvale High.

    Jack Lorimer is a fine example of the all-around American high-school
    boy. His fondness for clean, honest sport of all kinds will strike a
    chord of sympathy among athletic youths.

  JACK LORIMER’S CHAMPIONS; or, Sports on Land and Lake.

    There is a lively story woven in with the athletic achievements, which
    are all right, since the book has been O.K’d by Chadwick, the Nestor
    of American sporting journalism.

  JACK LORIMER’S HOLIDAYS; or, Millvale High in Camp.

    It would be well not to put this book into a boy’s hands until the
    chores are finished, otherwise they might be neglected.

  JACK LORIMER’S SUBSTITUTE; or, The Acting Captain of the Team.

    On the sporting side, the book takes up football, wrestling,
    tobogganing. There is a good deal of fun to this book and plenty of
    action.

  JACK LORIMER, FRESHMAN; or, From Millvale High to Exmouth.

    Jack and some friends he makes crowd innumerable happenings into an
    exciting freshman year at one of the leading Eastern colleges. The
    book is typical of the American college boy’s life, and there is a
    lively story, interwoven with feats on the gridiron, hockey,
    basketball and other clean, honest sports for which Jack Lorimer
    stands.

For sale by all booksellers, or sent postpaid on receipt of price by the
publishers

A. L. BURT COMPANY, 114-120 East 23d Street, New York.



The Broncho Rider Boys Series

By FRANK FOWLER

A series of stirring stories for boys, breathing the adventurous spirit
that lives in the wide plains and lofty mountain ranges of the great
West. These tales will delight every lad who loves to read of pleasing
adventure in the open; yet at the same time the most careful parent need
not hesitate to place them in the hands of the boy.

  THE BRONCHO RIDER BOYS WITH FUNSTON AT VERA CRUZ; or, Upholding the
  Honor of the Stars and Stripes.

    When trouble breaks out between this country and Mexico, the boys are
    eager to join the American troops under General Funston. Their
    attempts to reach Vera Cruz are fraught with danger, but after many
    difficulties, they manage to reach the trouble zone, where their real
    adventures begin.

  THE BRONCHO RIDER BOYS AT KEYSTONE RANCH; or, Three Chums of the
  Saddle and Lariat.

    In this story the reader makes the acquaintance of three devoted
    chums. The book begins in rapid action, and there is “something doing”
    up to the very time you lay it down.

  THE BRONCHO RIDER BOYS DOWN IN ARIZONA; or, A Struggle for the Great
  Copper Lode.

    The Broncho Rider Boys find themselves impelled to make a brave fight
    against heavy odds, in order to retain possession of a valuable mine
    that is claimed by some of their relatives. They meet with numerous
    strange and thrilling perils and every wide-awake boy will be pleased
    to learn how the boys finally managed to outwit their enemies.

  THE BRONCHO RIDER BOYS ALONG THE BORDER; or, The Hidden Treasure of
  the Zuni Medicine Man.

    Once more the tried and true comrades of camp and trail are in the
    saddle. In the strangest possible way they are drawn into a series of
    exciting happenings among the Zuni Indians. Certainly no lad will lay
    this book down, save with regret.

  THE BRONCHO RIDER BOYS ON THE WYOMING TRAIL; or, A Mystery of the
  Prairie Stampede.

    The three prairie pards finally find a chance to visit the Wyoming
    ranch belonging to Adrian, but managed for him by an unscrupulous
    relative. Of course, they become entangled in a maze of adventurous
    doings while in the Northern cattle country. How the Broncho Rider
    Boys carried themselves through this nerve-testing period makes
    intensely interesting reading.

  THE BRONCHO RIDER BOYS WITH THE TEXAS RANGERS; or, The Smugglers of
  the Rio Grande.

    In this volume, the Broncho Rider Boys get mixed up in the Mexican
    troubles, and become acquainted with General Villa. In their efforts
    to prevent smuggling across the border, they naturally make many
    enemies, but finally succeed in their mission.



The Boy Chums Series

By WILMER M. ELY

In this series of remarkable stories are described the adventures of two
boys in the great swamps of interior Florida, among the cays off the
Florida coast, and through the Bahama Islands. These are real, live
boys, and their experiences are worth following.

  THE BOY CHUMS IN MYSTERY LAND; or, Charlie West and Walter Hazard
  among the Mexicans.

  THE BOY CHUMS ON INDIAN RIVER; or, The Boy Partners of the Schooner
  “Orphan.”

  THE BOY CHUMS ON HAUNTED ISLAND; or, Hunting for Pearls in the Bahama
  Islands.

  THE BOY CHUMS IN THE FOREST; or, Hunting for Plume Birds in the
  Florida Everglades.

  THE BOY CHUMS’ PERILOUS CRUISE; or, Searching for Wreckage on the
  Florida Coast.

  THE BOY CHUMS IN THE GULF OF MEXICO; or, A Dangerous Cruise with the
  Greek Spongers.

  THE BOY CHUMS CRUISING IN FLORIDA WATERS; or, The Perils and Dangers
  of the Fishing Fleet.

  THE BOY CHUMS IN THE FLORIDA JUNGLE; or, Charlie West and Walter
  Hazard with the Seminole Indians.



The Big Five Motorcycle Boys Series

By RALPH MARLOW

It is doubtful whether a more entertaining lot of boys ever before
appeared in a story than the “Big Five,” who figure in the pages of
these volumes. From cover to cover the reader will be thrilled and
delighted with the accounts of their many adventures.

  THE BIG FIVE MOTORCYCLE BOYS ON THE BATTLE LINE; or, With the Allies
  in France.

  THE BIG FIVE MOTORCYCLE BOYS AT THE FRONT; or, Carrying Dispatches
  Through Belgium.

  THE BIG FIVE MOTORCYCLE BOYS UNDER FIRE; or, With the Allies in the
  War Zone.

  THE BIG FIVE MOTORCYCLE BOYS’ SWIFT ROAD CHASE; or, Surprising the
  Bank Robbers.

  THE BIG FIVE MOTORCYCLE BOYS ON FLORIDA TRAILS; or, Adventures Among
  the Saw Palmetto Crackers.

  THE BIG FIVE MOTORCYCLE BOYS IN TENNESSEE WILDS; or, The Secret of
  Walnut Ridge.

  THE BIG FIVE MOTORCYCLE BOYS THROUGH BY WIRELESS; or, A Strange
  Message from the Air.





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to Doctrine Publishing's system: If you are conducting research on machine
translation, optical character recognition or other areas where access to a
large amount of text is helpful, please contact us. We encourage the use of
public domain materials for these purposes and may be able to help.

+ Keep it legal -  Whatever your use, remember that you are responsible for
ensuring that what you are doing is legal. Do not assume that just because
we believe a book is in the public domain for users in the United States,
that the work is also in the public domain for users in other countries.
Whether a book is still in copyright varies from country to country, and we
can't offer guidance on whether any specific use of any specific book is
allowed. Please do not assume that a book's appearance in Doctrine Publishing
ISYS search  means it can be used in any manner anywhere in the world.
Copyright infringement liability can be quite severe.

About ISYS® Search Software
Established in 1988, ISYS Search Software is a global supplier of enterprise
search solutions for business and government.  The company's award-winning
software suite offers a broad range of search, navigation and discovery
solutions for desktop search, intranet search, SharePoint search and embedded
search applications.  ISYS has been deployed by thousands of organizations
operating in a variety of industries, including government, legal, law
enforcement, financial services, healthcare and recruitment.



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