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

Download this book: [ ASCII | HTML | PDF ]

Look for this book on Amazon

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

Title: Marjorie Dean - High School Sophomore
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.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Marjorie Dean - High School Sophomore" ***

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

ARMS. _Marjorie Dean High School Sophomore._]

    High School Sophomore



    "Marjorie Dean, High School Freshman"
    "Marjorie Dean, High School Junior"
    "Marjorie Dean, High School Senior"


    Publishers      New York

    Copyright, 1917




"Come on in, Connie. The water's fine!" invited Marjorie Dean, beckoning
with one round, dripping arm to the girl on the sands, while with the
other she kept herself lazily afloat.

The sun of a perfect August morning poured down upon the white beach,
dotted here and there with ambitious bathers, who had grasped Time
firmly by his venerated forelock, and fared forth with the proverbial
early bird for a morning dip in a deceitfully dimpled and smiling sea.

It was not yet nine o'clock, but, fearful of losing a minute of her
precious seaside vacation, Marjorie Dean had come down to her favorite
playground for her usual early morning swim.

"I know it's fine," laughed Constance Stevens, "but this nice white sand
is even finer."

"You'll never learn to swim if you just sit on the beach and dream,"
reminded Marjorie. "I feel that it's my stern duty to see that your
education as a water paddler is not neglected. So here goes!"

With a few skilful strokes she brought up in shallow water. There was a
quick rush of lithe feet, the sound of sweet, high laughter, then a
little, good-natured gurgle of protest from the golden-haired, blue-eyed
girl curled up on the sand as she found herself being dragged into the
water by a pair of sturdy young arms.

"Now--sink or swim, survive or perish!" panted Marjorie, as the lapping
shallows broke over the yielding figure of her friend. "You'll simply
have to be a water baby, Connie, dear. It's as important as being a
sophomore in Sanford High, and you know just how important that is! Now,
watch me and do likewise."

Her day dream thus rudely interrupted, Constance Stevens laughingly
resigned herself to Marjorie's energetic commands, and, now thoroughly
awake to the important business at hand, tried her best to follow her
friend's instructions. A fifteen minutes' lesson in the art of learning
to float followed, and at the end of that time, by common consent, the
two girls waded ashore and flung themselves on the warm sand.

"I'll never learn to swim. I feel it in my bones," asserted Constance,
as she lazily rose, wrung the water from her bathing suit and seated
herself on the white beach beside Marjorie, who lay stretched at full
length, her head propped upon her elbows, her alert gaze upon the few
bathers who were disporting themselves in the water.

"Then your bones are false prophets," declared Marjorie calmly. "You
know how to float already, and that's half the battle. We'll rest a
little and talk some more, and then we'll try it again. Next time I'll
teach you an easy stroke. Isn't it funny, Connie, we never seem to get
'talked out.' We've been here together five whole weeks and yet there
always seems to be something new to say. You are really a most
entertaining person."

"That's precisely my opinion of you." Constance's blue eyes twinkled.

The two girls laughed joyously. Two wet hands stretched forth and met in
a loving little squeeze.

"It's been wonderful to be here with you, Marjorie. Last year at this
time I never dreamed that anything so wonderful could possibly happen to
me." The golden-haired girl's voice was not quite steady.

"And I've loved being here with you. What a lot of things can happen in
a year," mused Marjorie. "Why, at this time last year I never even knew
that there was a town called Sanford on the map, and when I found out
there was really such a place, and that I was going to live there
instead of staying in B---- and going to Franklin High, I felt perfectly
_awful_ about it."

It had, indeed, been a most unhappy period for sunny, lovable Marjorie
Dean when the call of her father's business had made it necessary for
him to remove his family from the beautiful city of B----, where
Marjorie had been born and lived sixteen untroubled years of life, to
the smaller northern city of Sanford, where she didn't know a soul.

All that happened to Marjorie Dean from the first day in her new home
has been faithfully recorded in "MARJORIE DEAN, HIGH SCHOOL FRESHMAN."
In that narrative was set forth her trials, which had been many, and her
triumphs, which had been proportionately greater, as a freshman in
Sanford High School. How she had become acquainted with Constance
Stevens and how, after never-to-be-forgotten days of storm and sunshine,
the friendship between the two young girls had flowered into perfect
understanding, formed a story of more than ordinary interest.

Now, after several happy weeks at the seashore, where the Deans had
rented a cottage and were spending their usual summer outing with
Constance as their guest, the two friends were enjoying the last perfect
days of mid-summer before returning to Sanford, where, in September,
Constance and Marjorie were to enter the delightful realm of the
sophomore, to which they had won admission the previous June.

There had been only one shadow to mar Marjorie's bliss. She had hoped
that her childhood friend and companion, Mary Raymond, might be with
them at the seashore, but, owing to the ill-health of Mary's mother, the
Raymonds had been obliged to summer in the mountains, where Mary was
needed at her mother's side. That Constance and Mary should meet and
become friends had ever been Marjorie's most ardent desire. It was
Constance's remarkable resemblance to Mary that had drawn her toward the
girl in the very beginning.

"It's all been so perfectly beautiful, Connie." Marjorie gave a little
sigh of sheer happiness. "I've only one regret."

"I know--you mean your chum, Mary," supplemented Constance, with quick

Marjorie nodded.

"It seems strange I haven't heard from her. She hasn't written me for
over two weeks. I hope her mother isn't worse."

"No news is good news," comforted Constance.

"Perhaps there will be a letter for me from her when we get back to the
cottage. Suppose there should be! Wouldn't that be glorious?"

"Perhaps we'd better go up now and see," suggested Constance. "It must
be time for the postman."

"We're not going until after you've had fifteen more minutes'
instruction in the noble art of swimming, you rascal," laughed
Marjorie. "See how self-sacrificing I am! You don't appreciate
my noble efforts in your direction."

"Of course I appreciate them, Marjorie Dean." Constance's habitually
wistful expression broke up in a radiant smile that set her blue eyes
dancing. "But I must confess, this minute, that I can live and be happy
if I never learn to swim."

"That settles it. In you go again."

Marjorie sprang energetically to her feet, and began dragging her
protesting friend down the beach to the water. Another fifteen
minutes' instruction followed, punctuated by much laughter on the
part of the two girls.

"There! I'll let you off for to-day," conceded Marjorie, at last. "Now,
come on. I have a hunch that there _is_ a letter for me. I haven't had
any letters for two whole days."

It was only a few rods from the bathing beach to the "Sea Gull," the
cottage in which the Deans were living. As they neared it, a
gray-uniformed figure was seen hurrying down the walk.

"It's the postman! What did I tell you?" Marjorie broke into a run,
Constance following close at her heels.

The two girls brought up flushed and laughing at the pretty,
vine-covered veranda, where Mrs. Dean sat, in the act of opening a
letter. Half a dozen other postmarked envelopes lay in her lap.

"Oh, Captain," Marjorie touched a hand to her bathing cap, "how many of
them are for me?"

"All of them except this, Lieutenant," smiled her mother, holding up the
letter she had been reading. "But why all this haste? I hardly expected
you back so soon. Five minutes before luncheon is your usual time for
reappearing," she slyly reminded.

"Oh, I had an unmistakable hunch that there was a letter here for me
from Mary, so I let Connie off easy on her lesson. I'll make up for it

By this time Marjorie held in her hand the half-dozen envelopes, each
bearing its own special message from the various friends who held more
or less important places in her regard, and was rapidly going over them.

"Here's one from Jerry and one from Hal." The pink in her cheeks
deepened at sight of the familiar boyish hand. "One from Marcia Arnold,
another from Muriel Harding. Here's a tiresome advertisement." She threw
the fifth envelope disdainfully on the wicker table at her side.
"And--yes, here it is, in Mary's very own handwriting!"

Laying the other letters on the table with a carefulness that bespoke
their value, Marjorie hastily tore open the envelope that contained news
of her friend and drawing out a single closely written sheet of paper
said apologetically, "You won't mind if I read this now, will you,
Connie and Mother?"

"Go ahead," urged Constance. "We couldn't be so hard-hearted as to

Mrs. Dean smiled her assent. Marjorie's thoughtfulness of others was
always a secret source of joy to her.

Marjorie read down the page, then uttered a little squeal of delight.
"Mother!" she exclaimed joyously, "just listen to this:


    "You will wonder, perhaps, what has happened to me. I know I
    have owed you a letter for over two weeks, but I have been so
    busy taking care of mother that I haven't had very much time to
    write. Of course, we have a nurse, but, still, there are so many
    little things to be done for her, which she likes to have me do.
    She is much better, but our doctor says she must go to a famous
    health resort in the West for the winter. She will start for
    Colorado in about two weeks, and now comes the part of my
    letter which I hope you will like to read. I am going to make
    you a visit. Father and I are coming to see you on a very
    mysterious mission. I won't tell you anything more about it
    until I see you. Part of it is sad and part of it glad, and it
    all depends upon three persons whether it will ever happen.
    There! That ought to keep you guessing.

    "You wrote me that you would be at home in Sanford by the last
    of next week. Please writs me at once and let me know just
    exactly when you expect to reach there. We shall not try to come
    to the seashore, as father prefers to wait until you are back in
    Sanford again. With much love to you and your mother,

        "Yours Mysteriously,

Marjorie finished the last word with a jubilant wave of the letter.

"What do you think of that, Captain? What do you suppose this mysterious
mission can be?" Marjorie's face was alight with affectionate curiosity.

"I am not good at guessing," Mrs. Dean smiled tolerantly. The ways of
schoolgirls were usually shrouded with a profound mystery, which
disappeared into nothingness when confronted with reality.

"It must be something extraordinary. She says it's part sad and part
glad. I hope it's mostly glad. I know _I'm_ glad that I'm going to see
her. Why, it's almost a year since we said good-bye to each other! Oh,
Connie," she turned rapturously to Constance, "you two girls, my dearest
friends, who look alike, will actually meet at last! You'll love Mary.
You can't help yourself, and she'll love you. She can't do anything

"I hope she will like me," said Constance a trifle soberly. "I know I
shall like her, because she is your friend, Marjorie."

"You'll like her for yourself, Connie," predicted Marjorie loyally, and
secure in the belief that neither of these two girls, whose friendship
she held above rubies, could fail her, Marjorie Dean dreamed of a
kingdom of fellowship into which the three were fated to enter only
after scaling the steep and difficult walls of misunderstanding.



"Listen, Connie! Do you hear that train whistling? I'm sure it's Mary's

Marjorie Dean peered anxiously up the track in the direction of the
sound. In the distance her alert eyes spied the smoke of the approaching
train before it rounded the bend and appeared in full view, and her
heart beat high with the thought that the longer-for moment had come at

Since her return to Sanford, five days before, Marjorie had been in a
quiver of affectionate impatience. How slowly the days dragged! She
read and re-read Mary's latest letter, stating that she and her father
would arrive at Sanford on Wednesday on the 4.30 train and her
impatience grew. It was not alone that she desired to see Mary. There
was the "mysterious mission" to be considered. What girl does not love a
mystery? And Marjorie was no exception. At that moment, however, as she
waited for her childhood's friend, all thought of the mystery was swept
aside in the longing to see Mary again.

As the train rumbled into the station and after many groans and shudders
stopped with a last protesting creak of wheels, Marjorie's anxious gaze
traveled up and down its length. Suddenly, at the far end, she spied a
tall, familiar figure descending the car steps. Close behind him
followed a slender girl in blue. With a cluck of joy and a "There she
is!" Marjorie fairly raced up the station platform. Constance followed,
but proceeded more slowly. To Marjorie belonged the right to the first
rapturous moments with her chum. In her girlish soul lurked no trace of
jealousy. She understood that with Marjorie, Mary must always be first,
and she was filled with an unselfish happiness for the pleasure of the
girl who had braved all things for her and would forever mean all that
was best and highest to her.

"Mary!" Marjorie exclaimed, her clear voice trembling with emotion.

"Oh, Marjorie, it's been ages," quavered Mary Raymond. Then the two
became locked in a tempestuous embrace.

"Here, here, where do I come in?" asked an injured voice, as the two
young women continued to croon over each other, all else forgotten.

Marjorie gently disengaged herself from Mary's detaining arms and turned
to give her hand to Mr. Raymond.

"I'm so glad to see you," she said fervently. "Mother is waiting in our
car, just the other side of the station. But first, let me introduce my
friend, Constance Stevens. Why, where is she? I thought she was right
behind me. Oh, here she comes. Hurry up, Connie!"

Constance approached rather shyly. In spite of the fact that the old
days of poverty and heartache lay behind her like a bad dream, she was
still curiously reserved and diffident in the presence of strangers. The
decision of her aunt, Miss Susan Allison, to take up her abode in
Sanford in order that Constance might finish her high school course with
Marjorie had brought many changes into the life of the once friendless
girl. Miss Allison had purchased a handsome property on the outskirts of
Sanford, and, after much persuasion, had, with one exception, induced
the occupants of the little gray house to share it with her. Soon
afterward Mr. Stevens, Constance's foster-father, whose name she still
bore and refused to change, had accepted a position as first violin in a
symphony orchestra and had gone to fulfill his destiny in the world of
music which he loved. Uncle John Roland and little Charlie, once puny
and crippled, but now strong and rosy, had, with Constance, come into
the lonely old woman's household at a time when she most needed them,
and, in her contrition for the lost years of happiness which she had so
stubbornly thrust aside, she was in a fair way to spoil her little flock
by too much petting.

The fact that from a mere nobody Constance Stevens had become the social
equal of Sanford's most exclusive contingent did not impress the girl in
the least. Naturally humble and self-effacing, she had no ambition to
shine socially. Her one aim was to become a great singer, and it was
understood between herself and her aunt that when she was graduated from
high school she was to enter a conservatory of music and study voice
culture under the best masters.

It seemed to Constance that she now had everything in the world that she
could possibly hope for or desire, but of the great good which had come
to her in one short year she felt that above all she prized the
friendship of Marjorie Dean and in whatever lay Marjorie's happiness,
there must hers lie also.

This was her thought as she now stepped forward to meet Mary Raymond.
She was prepared to give this girl who was Marjorie's dearest friend a
loyalty and devotion, second only to that which she accorded Marjorie

"At last my dearest wish has come true!" exclaimed Marjorie when
Constance had been presented to Mr. Raymond and she and Mary had clasped
hands. "I've been so anxious for you two to know each other. Now that
you're here together I can see that resemblance I've told you of.
Connie, you look like Mary and Mary looks like you. You might easily
pass for sisters."

Constance smiled with shy sweetness at Mary and Mary returned the smile,
but in her blue eyes there flashed a sudden, half-startled expression,
which neither Constance nor Marjorie noted. Then she said in a tone
intended to be cordial, but which somehow lacked heart, "I'm awfully
glad to know you, Miss Stevens. Marjorie has written me often of you."

"And she has talked to me over and over again of you," returned
Constance warmly.

"Now that you know each other, you can postpone getting chummy until
later," laughed Marjorie. "Mother will wonder what has happened to us.
She'll think you didn't come on that train if we don't put in an

Possessing herself of Mary's traveling bag she led the way with Mary
through the station and out to the opposite side where Mrs. Dean awaited
them. Constance followed with Mr. Raymond. In her heart she experienced
an odd disappointment. Was it her imagination, or did Mary's cordiality
seem a trifle forced? Perhaps it would have been better if she had not
accompanied Marjorie to the station to meet Mary. Perhaps Mary was a
trifle hurt that her chum had not come alone. She decided that she would
not ride to Marjorie's home with the party, although she had been
invited to dine with them that night. She could not bear to think of
intruding. She managed to answer Mr. Raymond's courteous remarks, but
her thoughts were not centered upon what he was saying. Without warning,
her old-time diffidence settled down upon her like an enveloping cloak,
and her one object was to slip away as quickly and as unobtrusively as

"I think I had better not go home with you, Marjorie," she said in a low
voice. They had reached the waiting automobile and Mary and Mrs. Dean
were exchanging affectionate greetings.

"Oh, why not, Connie?" Marjorie's happy face clouded. "You know we'd
love to have you, wouldn't we, Mary?"

"Of course." Mary again smiled at Constance, but again her smile lacked

Constance shook her head almost obstinately.

"I think I had better not come," she repeated, and in her speech there
was a shadowy return of the old baffling reserve that had so greatly
disturbed Marjorie in the early stages of their friendship.

"But you promised to take dinner with us to-night," remarked Marjorie.

"I--I have changed my mind. It will be best for me to go home, I think.
I'll come over to-morrow."

Mrs. Dean added her persuasions, but Constance was firm, and, after
bidding a courteous farewell to the Deans' guests, she hurried away,
more agitated than she cared to admit.

"Why, what ails Constance, Marjorie?" asked Mrs. Dean in surprise.

"Nothing--that is, I don't know." Marjorie looked after her friend's
rapidly disappearing figure, a puzzled expression in her brown eyes.

Mary Raymond viewed Marjorie with a faint frown. It was rather provoking
in Marjorie to express so much concern over this Constance Stevens.
After their long separation she felt that her chum's every thought ought
to be for her alone. And in that instant a certain fabled green-eyed
monster, that Mary had never believed could exist for her, suddenly
sprang into life and whispered to her that, perhaps, after all, she was
not first in Marjorie Dean's heart.



"Before you talk of another single thing, Mary Raymond, please tell me
what you mean by a 'mysterious mission' that is 'part sad and part
glad,'" exclaimed Marjorie.

Mr. Raymond was occupying the front seat of the automobile, beside Mrs.
Dean, who drove the car, a birthday present from her husband, and the
two girls had the tonneau of the automobile to themselves. They had
scarcely deposited Mary's luggage on the floor of the car and settled
themselves for the short ride to the Deans' home when Marjorie had made
her eager inquiry into the nature of the "mysterious mission" that had
so aroused her curiosity.

"Well," began Mary, brightening, "father and I _have_ come to see you on
a mission, but the only mystery about it is that you don't as yet know
why we've come. I thought 'mysterious mission' looked rather well on
paper so I set it down."

"But you're going to tell me about it this instant, you wicked,
tantalizing girl," insisted Marjorie with pretended sternness.

"I thought perhaps you might be able to guess certain things from my
letter," continued Mary. "You see, I wrote you that mother would have to
go to Colorado for the winter and----"

"You are going with her," supplemented Marjorie.

"No, that's a wild guess. I'm not going west with her. Father says I
must stay in the East and go through my sophomore year in high school."

"But you can't stay at home by yourself, Mary. Just think how dreadful
that would be for you, with your father away most of the time," reminded

Mary's father was a traveling salesman for a large furniture
manufactory, and spent the greater part of his time on the road.

"That's just the point," responded Mary. "I know I can't stay at home
alone. Mother's illness and what is to become of me when father goes on
the road again is the sad part of it, but the glad part is--oh,
Marjorie, can't you guess now?" Mary caught Marjorie's hand in hers.
"We've come all the way to Sanford to see if," her voice rose high with
excitement, "there isn't a little corner in the Dean barracks that a
certain lieutenant can call her own for this year and----"

"Mary!" It was Marjorie's turn to become excited. "Do you really mean
that you wish to come to live with me and enter Sanford High? That we'll
be sophomores together?"

Mary clung to Marjorie's hand and nodded. For a moment she was too near
to tears for speech. But they were tears of happiness. Marjorie really
desired her for a best friend after all. Her sudden jealousy of
Constance Stevens vanished.

"I should say that was a _glad_ part of your mission," laughed Marjorie
happily. "I don't know what I've ever done to deserve such good fortune.
Mother will be glad, too. She loves you almost as much as she loves me."

"Oh, Mother," Marjorie leaned impulsively forward, "Mary's coming to
live with me this year while her mother is in Colorado. You'll have two
lieutenants instead of one to look after. We are going to win sophomore
honors together and be promoted to be captains next June!"

"There," declared Mr. Raymond with comical resignment, "now you have let
the cat out of the bag with a vengeance, Mary Raymond. All this time I
had been planning to ask Mrs. Dean, in my most ingratiating manner, if
she thought she might possibly make room for a certain very frisky
member of my family for a while. I had intended to proceed carefully and
diplomatically so that she wouldn't be too much shocked at such a
prospect, but now----"

"It's all settled, isn't it, Mother?" interrupted Marjorie. "You are
just as anxious as I for Mary to come and live with us, aren't you?"

"Shall I stop the car in the middle of the street and assure you of my
willingness to increase my regiment?" laughed Mrs. Dean.

"No, no," protested Marjorie. "Let's hurry home as fast as we can and
talk it over. We're only two squares from our house now. Besides, I've
planned everything already. Mary can have the spare bedroom next to my
house." Marjorie always referred to her room as her "house." "There's
only the bath between and we'll use that together, and have a regular
house of our own. Oh, Mary, won't it be perfectly splendid?"

Regardless of what passersby might think, Mary and Marjorie embraced
with an enthusiasm that threatened to land them both in the tonneau of
the rapidly moving car, while their elders smiled at this reckless
display of affection.

The automobile had hardly come to a full stop on the broad driveway,
that wound through the wide stretch of lawn that was one of the chief
beauties of the Deans' pretty home, when Marjorie swung open the door
and skipped nimbly out of the car with, "Welcome home, Mary!"

Mary was only an instant behind Marjorie in leaving the car, and the two
hugged each other afresh out of pure joy of living.

"Take Mary up to her room at once, dear," directed Mrs. Dean. "I'm sure
she must be tired and hungry after her long ride in the train. We will
have an early dinner to-night. I expect Mr. Dean home at almost any
moment," she continued, turning to Mr. Raymond.

"Come on, Mary." Marjorie had lifted Mary's bag from the automobile. Now
she stretched forth an inviting hand to Mary, and piloted her across the
lawn and up the short stretch of stone walk to the front door. The door
opened and a trim, rosy-cheeked maid appeared as by magic. She reached
for Mary's bag, but Marjorie waved her gently aside.

"I'll do the honors, Delia. You can look after mother and Mr. Raymond.
We are very self-sufficient persons who don't need anything except a
chance to go upstairs and talk ourselves hoarse."

A wide smile irradiated the maid's goodnatured face, as she stepped
aside to allow Marjorie and Mary to enter the hall.

"What a darling house!" Mary's glance traveled about the pretty Dutch
hall to the large, comfortable living room beyond. "You have oceans of
room here, haven't you?"

Marjorie nodded. "Yes; when first we came here I felt lost. It was
actually lonesome. It took me a whole week to grow accustomed to looking
out without seeing rows of brick houses across the street and on each
side of me. Don't you remember, I wrote you all about it? You see, I
didn't enter high school until we'd been here almost two weeks, and in
all that time I never met a single girl. I felt like a shipwrecked
sailor on a great, big, lonely, old island. Shall we go upstairs now?
I'm so anxious to have you see my 'house.' It's a house within a house,
you know. Mother had it all done up in pink and white for me, and I
spent hours in it. Your house is blue. I made general and captain let
me have one of the spare bedrooms done in blue, so that when you came to
visit me you'd feel at home. And now it's going to be your very own for
a whole year! It's too good to be true."

Releasing Mary's hand, Marjorie led the way up the stairs to the second
floor and down the short hall to her "house." Mary cried out in
admiration at her friend's dainty room. She walked about, exclaiming
over its perfect details after the manner of girls, then three minutes
later the two somehow found themselves seated side by side on Marjorie's
pretty white bed, their arms about each other's waists, and fairly
launched into one of the good, old-time confabs they were wont to
indulge in when the top step of the Deans' veranda in B---- had been
their favorite trysting place.

Half an hour later Mrs. Dean entered the room to find them still talking
at an alarming rate, the rest of their world apparently forgotten.

"I might have known it," she smiled. "Why, you haven't even taken off
your hats, and dinner will be ready in ten minutes. Marjorie, you are a
most neglectful hostess."

"Oh, we don't mind having dinner with our hats on," returned Marjorie
cheerfully. Then, rising, she took off her broad-brimmed Panama, and
began gently pulling the pins from Mary's hat. "Make it fifteen minutes,
instead of ten, Captain, and we'll be as spick and span as you please."

"Discipline seems to be very lax in these barracks," commented Mrs.
Dean. "I am afraid I ought to call upon General to help me enforce my
orders. Under the circumstances I'll be lenient, though, and stretch the
time to fifteen minutes. There, I hear General downstairs now!"

She disappeared from the doorway and immediately a great scurrying about
began, punctuated with much talk and laughter. To Marjorie it seemed as
though she had not been so happy for ages. It was wonderful to know that
her beloved Mary was actually with her once more, and still more
wonderful that she would continue to be with her indefinitely.

At dinner she beamed joyously across the table at the little blue-eyed
girl, while their elders discussed and settled her destiny for the
coming year. Mr. and Mrs. Dean met Mr. Raymond's request in behalf of
his daughter with the whole-heartedness that so characterized them. In
fact, they were highly in favor of receiving Mary as a member of their
little household.

"Two soldiers are better than one," asserted Mr. Dean humorously. "I
believe in preparedness. 'In times of peace prepare for war,' you know.
With such a valiant army under my command I could do wonders if attacked
by the enemy."

After dinner they all repaired to the living room, where the discussion
of the all-important subject was continued, and when at eleven o'clock
two sleepy, but blissfully happy, lieutenants climbed the stairs to bed,
Mary Raymond lacked nothing except actual adoption papers, signed and
sealed, to admit her into the Deans' hospitable fold.

Yet there was one tiny drawback to Mary's joy. Try as she might she
could not forget Constance Stevens and Marjorie's too evident fondness
for her. From Marjorie's early letters she had formed the conclusion
that Constance was merely a poor nobody, whom her chum, with her usual
spirit of generosity had tried to befriend. Marjorie's later letters had
contained little pertaining to Constance. Mary had not known of the long
period of estrangement between Constance and Marjorie that had so nearly
wrecked their budding friendship, and of the many changes that time had
wrought in the life of the girl who looked like her. She had, therefore,
been quite unprepared to meet the dainty, well-dressed young woman whom
Marjorie appeared to hold in such strong affection. She reflected that
night, a trifle resentfully, after Marjorie had kissed her good-night
and left her, that it was very strange in Marjorie not to have put her
in possession of the real facts of the case. Still, it was really not
her affair. If Marjorie chose to become chummy with Constance without
even writing a word of it to her, there was nothing to do except to be
silent over the whole affair. Perhaps Marjorie would tell her all about
it later. Certainly she would ask no questions. And then and there,
little, blue-eyed Mary Raymond made her first mistake, and sowed a tiny
seed of discord in her jealous heart that was fated later to bear bitter



"We've come for a last inspection, Captain. How do we look?"

Marjorie Dean danced into her mother's room, her brown eyes sparkling
with anticipation, her charming face all smiles. Mary Raymond followed
her excited chum.

"Halt! Company, attention!" commanded Mrs. Dean, as she turned from her
dressing table to pass an opinion upon the waiting brigade of two. Her
brown eyes rested approvingly upon the trim figures drawn up in their
most soldierly attitude before her. Marjorie's frock of pink linen, with
its wide lace collar and cuffs, exactly suited her dark eyes and hair,
while Mary's gown of pale blue of the same material served to accentuate
the fairness of her skin and the gold of her curls.

"Shall we do, Captain? Are we absolutely spick and span?" Marjorie
turned slowly about, then made a laughing dive at her mother and
enveloped her in a devastating embrace.

"Now see the havoc you've wrought," complained Mrs. Dean. "I shall have
to do my hair over again. Never mind. I'll forgive you, and, being
magnanimous, will state that I am very proud of the appearance of my

"You're a gallant officer and a dear, all in one." Marjorie caught her
mother's hand in hers. "Now, we must be on our way. We are going to
school early because Mary will have to see Miss Archer. Besides, I'm
anxious for her to meet Jerry Macy and some of the other girls. If only
she had come to Sanford sooner, I'd have loved to give a party for her.
Then she'd know every one of my friends. Oh, well, there is plenty of
time for that. Good-bye, Captain. We'll be back before long. There is
never very much to do in school on the first day."

Dropping a gay little kiss on her mother's smooth cheek, Marjorie left
the room, followed by Mary, who stopped just long enough to kiss Mrs.
Dean good-bye.

Three weeks had slipped by since Mr. Raymond and Mary had come to
Sanford upon the so-called mysterious mission that had made Mary Raymond
a member of the Dean household. They had returned to the city of
B---- the following day. From there Mr. Raymond had gone directly to the
mountains, for his wife, who, in spite of her ill-health, had insisted
on returning to her home to oversee the making of Mary's gowns and the
choosing of her wardrobe in general. Two days before coming to Sanford,
Mary had seen her mother off on her journey to Colorado in quest of
health. She had put on a brave face and smiled when she wished to cry,
and it was alone the thought that she was going to live with Marjorie
during her mother's absence that kept her from breaking down at the last
sad moment of farewell.

It was a sober-faced, sad-eyed Mary that Marjorie had met at the train,
but, under the irresistible sunniness of Marjorie's nature, Mary had
soon emerged from her cloud, and now the prospect of entering Sanford
High School filled her with lively anticipation.

As Marjorie and Mary emerged from the house and swung down the stone
walk in perfect step, they beheld a stout, and to Marjorie, a decidedly
familiar figure turning in at the gate. In the same instant a joyous
"Hello" rent the air, and the stout girl cantered up the walk at a
surprising rate of speed. There was a delighted gurgle from Marjorie,
that ended in a fervent embrace of the two young women.

"Oh, Jerry, I'm so glad to see you! I was afraid you wouldn't be back in
Sanford before school opened. I saw Irma day before yesterday and she
said she hadn't heard a word from you for over a week."

"We didn't get here until last night at ten o'clock Maybe I'm not glad
to see _you_." Jerry beamed affectionately upon Marjorie.

"This is my friend, Mary Raymond, Jerry," introduced Marjorie. "She is
going to live with us this winter and be a sophomore at dear old Sanford
High. There will be six of us instead of five now."

"I'm glad to know you." Jerry smiled and stretched forth a plump hand in
greeting. "I've heard a lot about you."

"I've heard Marjorie speak of you, too. I'm ever so pleased to meet
you." Mary exhibited a friendliness toward Jerry Macy that had been
quite lacking in her greeting of Constance Stevens.

As the three stood for a moment at the gate Jerry's eyes suddenly grew
very round.

"Why, Marjorie, your friend looks like Connie, doesn't she?"

"Of course she does," replied Marjorie happily. "Don't you remember I
told you long ago that that was why I felt so drawn toward Connie in the
first place?"

"Yes, I remember it now. Isn't it funny that your two dearest friends
should look alike? Have you met Constance, Mary? I'm going to call you
Mary. I never call a girl 'Miss' unless I can't bear her. I'm sure I'm
going to like you. Not only because you're Marjorie's chum, but for
yourself, you know. If you turn out to be even one half as nice as
Constance Stevens, I'll adore you. Connie is a dear and no mistake
about it."

The shadow of a frown touched Mary's forehead. Why must she be compelled
to hear continually of Constance Stevens? And why should this Jerry Macy
place her and Constance on the same plane in Marjorie's affection? She
did not propose to share her place in her chum's heart with anyone. Of
course, this girl could not possibly know just how much she and Marjorie
had always been to each other. Later on they would understand. They
would soon see that Marjorie preferred her above all others.

Comforted by this reflection the shadow passed from Mary's face and the
trio started down the street for school, chatting and laughing as only
carefree schoolgirls can.

Once inside the school building, Jerry said good-bye to them and turned
down the corridor toward the study hall. Marjorie smiled with tender
reminiscence as she and Mary climbed the familiar broad stairway to the
second floor. She was thinking of another Monday morning that belonged
to the past, when a timid stranger had climbed those same stairs and
diffidently inquired the way to the principal's office. How far away
that day seemed, and how much had happened within those same walls since
that fateful morning.

"I'll never forget my first morning here," she said to Mary, as they
walked down the corridor toward their destination--the last room on the
east side. "Captain had a headache and couldn't come with me. I had to
march into Miss Archer's office all by myself. I felt like a forlorn
stranger in a strange, unfriendly land. Then I met such a nice girl,
Ellen Seymour, a friend of mine now, and she took me to the office and
introduced me to Miss Archer."

Before Mary had time to reply they had entered the cheerful living-room
office that had so greatly impressed Marjorie on her first introduction
to Sanford High. A tall, dark girl, seated at a desk at one end of the
room, glanced up at the sound of the opening door. She hurried forward
with a little exclamation of delighted surprise. "Why, Marjorie!" she
exclaimed. "I was just thinking of you. I was wondering if you'd be in
for the first day. I had made up my mind to run down to the study hall a
little later and see." She now had Marjorie's hands in an affectionate

"I've been wondering about you, too," nodded Marjorie. "You are another
stray who didn't come back until the last minute."

"I'm a working girl, you know," reminded Marcia. "Doctor Bernard was
dreadfully disappointed because I wouldn't give up high school and keep
on being his secretary. But I couldn't do that."

"Of course you couldn't," agreed Marjorie, "especially now that you are
a senior."

Mary Raymond had drawn back a little while Marjorie and Marcia Arnold,
Miss Archer's once disagreeable secretary, but now a changed girl
through the influence of Marjorie, exchanged greetings. Marjorie turned
and drew her chum forward, introducing her to Marcia, who bowed and
extended her hand in friendly fashion.

"Is Miss Archer busy, Marcia?" asked Marjorie, after she had explained
that Mary was to become a pupil of Sanford High School.

"Wait a moment, I'll see." Marcia went into the inner office, returning
almost instantly with, "Go right in. She is anxious to see you,

Miss Archer's affectionate welcome of Marjorie Dean brought a blush of
sheer pleasure to the girl's cheeks. Her heart thrilled with joy at the
thought that there was now no veil of misunderstanding between her and
her beloved principal.

"And so this is Mary Raymond." Miss Archer took the newcomer's hand in
both her own. "We are glad to welcome you into our school, my dear. Your
principal at Franklin High School has already written me of you. How
long have you been in Sanford?"

Mary answered rather shyly, explaining her situation, while Marjorie
looked on with affectionate eyes. She was anxious that Miss Archer
should learn to know and love Mary.

"I will put you in Marjorie's hands," declared Miss Archer, after a few
moments' pleasant conversation. "She will take you to the study hall and
see that you are made to feel at home. We wish our girls to look upon
their school as their second home, considering they spend so much of
their time here. Please tell your mother, Marjorie," she added, as the
two girls turned to leave the room, "that I shall try to call on her
this week."

"How do you like Miss Archer? Isn't she splendid?" were the quick
questions Marjorie put, as they retraced their steps down the long

"I know I'm going to love her," returned Mary fervently. "I hope I'll be
happy here, Marjorie." There was a wistful note in her voice that caused
Marjorie to glance sharply at her friend. Mary's charming face was set
in unusually sober lines.

"Poor Mary," was her reflection. "She's thinking of her mother." But
Mary Raymond's thoughts were far from the subject of her mother.
Instead, they were fixed upon what Jerry Macy had said that morning
about Constance Stevens. Miss Archer had asked about Constance, too. She
had spoken of her as though she and Marjorie were best friends. What had
she meant when she said, "Well, Marjorie, you and Constance deserve fair
sophomore weather after last year's storms." The flame of jealousy,
which Mary had sought to stifle after her first meeting with Constance,
was kindled afresh.

"What did Miss Archer mean when she spoke of you and Miss Stevens--and
last year's storms?" she asked abruptly.

"Oh, I can't explain now. It's too long a story. Here we are at the
study hall." Her mind occupied with school, Marjorie had not caught the
strained note in Mary's voice.

"She doesn't wish me to know," was Mary's jealous thought. "She is
keeping secrets from me. All right. Let her keep them. Only I know one
thing, and that is--I'll _never_, _never_, _never_ be friends with
Constance Stevens, not even to please Marjorie!"



The great study hall which Marjorie and Mary entered had little of the
atmosphere supposed to pervade a hall of learning. A loud buzz of
conversation greeted their ears. It came from the groups of girls
collected in various parts of the hall, who were making the most of
their opportunities to talk until called to order. Marjorie gave one
swift glance toward the lonely desk on the platform. It had always
reminded her of an island in the midst of a great sea. She breathed a
little sigh of relief. Her pet aversion, Miss Merton, was not occupying
the chair behind it. This, no doubt, accounted for the general air of
relaxation that pervaded the room. Her alert eyes searched the room for
Constance Stevens. She was not present. She gave another sigh, this time
it was one of disappointment. She had seen Constance only twice since
Mary's arrival. On one occasion she had taken dinner at the Deans' home.
The three girls had spent, what seemed to Marjorie, an unusually
pleasant evening. Constance, feeling dimly that Mary did not quite
approve of her, had dropped her usually reticent manner and exerted
herself to please. So well had she succeeded that Mary had rather
unwillingly succumbed to her charm and grown fairly cordial.

Totally unconscious of the shadow which had darkened the pleasure of
Constance's first meeting with Mary, and equally ignorant of Mary's
secret resentment of her new friend, Marjorie had retired that night
inwardly rejoicing in both girls and planning all sorts of good times
that they three might have together.

Several days later Constance had entertained them at luncheon at "Gray
Gables," the beautiful, old-fashioned house Miss Allison had purchased,
on the outskirts of Sanford. Mary had been secretly impressed with its
luxury and had instantly made friends with little Charlie. The quaint
child had gravely informed her that she looked like Connie and
immediately taken her into his confidence regarding his aspirations
toward some day playing in "a big band." He had also obligingly favored
her with a solo of marvelous shrieks and squawks on his much tortured
"fiddle." Mary loved children, and this, perhaps, went far toward
stilling the jealousy, which, so far, only faintly stirring, bade fair
to one day burst forth into bitter words.

"I'll see you in school on Monday," Marjorie had called over her
shoulder, as she and Mary had taken their departure from Constance's
home that afternoon. But now Monday had come and there was no sign of
the girl Marjorie held so dear in the study hall.

"Connie had better hurry. It's five minutes to nine. She'll be late."
Marjorie's gaze traveled anxiously toward the door. An unmistakable
frown puckered Mary's brows, but Marjorie did not see it.

"Oh, Marjorie Dean, here you are at last. We've been waiting for you."
Susan Atwell left a group of girls with which she had been hob-nobbing
and hurried down the aisle. "Come over here, you dear thing. We've been
looking our eyes out for you." She stopped short and stared hard at
Mary. "Why, I thought----" she began.

"You thought it was Connie, didn't you?" laughed Marjorie. She
introduced Mary to Susan.

"The girls over there thought you were Constance Stevens, too," smiled
Susan, showing her dimples. "You see, Marjorie and Connie are
inseparable, so, of course, we naturally mistook you for her. I never
saw two girls look so much alike. If we have a fancy dress party this
year you two can surely go as the Siamese Twins. Wouldn't that be

Mary smiled perfunctorily. She had her own views in the matter, and
they did not in the least coincide with Susan's.

A moment later they were hemmed in by an enthusiastic bevy of girls,
each one trying to make herself heard above the others. Marjorie was
besieged on all sides with eager inquiries. The girls had discovered, as
she neared them, that her companion was not Constance Stevens. Marjorie,
at once, did the honors and Mary found herself nodding in quick
succession to half a dozen girls.

"You fooled us all for a minute, Miss Raymond," cried Muriel Harding.

"She didn't fool me," announced Jerry Macy, who had joined them just in
time to hear Muriel's remark. "I knew she was coming, but I kept still
because I wanted to see you girls stare."

"Look around the room, Marjorie," observed Irma Linton in a guarded
tone. "Do you miss anyone? Not Constance. I wonder where she is?"

"I don't know." Marjorie's eyes took in the big room, then again sought
the door. "She said she would meet me here this morning. Let me see. Do
I miss anyone? Do you mean a girl in our class, Irma?"

Irma nodded.

Marjorie cast another quick look about her. "Why, no. Oh, now I know.
You mean Mignon."

Again Irma nodded. Under cover of a burst of laughter from the others
she murmured, "Mignon won't be with us this year. You will observe, if
you look hard, that I'm not weeping over our loss."

Marjorie was silent for a moment. The past rode before her like a
panorama, as the thought of the elfish-faced French girl and of how
deeply she had caused both herself and Constance Stevens to suffer. Her
pretty face hardened a trifle as she said, in a low voice, "I'm not
sorry, either, Irma. But why won't she be in high school this year? Has
she moved away from Sanford? I haven't seen her since we came home from
the beach."

"She has gone away to boarding school," answered Irma. "Between you and
me, I think she was ashamed to come back here this year. Susan told me
that her father wanted her to stay in high school and go to college, but
she teased and teased to go away to school, so finally he said she
might. She left here over two weeks ago. One of the girls received a
letter from her last week. In it she said she was so glad she didn't
have to go to a common high school and that the girls in her school were
not milk-and-water babies, but had a great deal of spirit and daring."

Marjorie's lip curled unconsciously. "I'd rather be a 'milk-and-water
baby' than as cruel and heartless as she. I'll never forgive her for the
way she treated Connie. Let's not talk of her, Irma. It makes me feel
cross and horrid, and, of all days, I'd like to be happy to-day. There's
so much to be happy over, and I'm so glad to see all of you. Life would
be a desert waste without high school, wouldn't it?"

Marjorie's soft hand found Irma's. She was very fond of this quiet,
fair-haired girl, who, with Jerry Macy, had stood by her so resolutely
through dark days.

"Here she comes--our dear teacher. Look out, girls, or you'll be ushered
out of Sanford High before you've had a chance to look at the bulletin
board," warned Muriel Harding's high-pitched voice. Her sarcastic
remarks carried farther than she had intended they should, as a sudden
hush had fallen upon the study hall. Miss Merton, Marjorie's pet
aversion, had stalked into the great room. She cast a malignant glance,
not at Muriel, but straight at Marjorie Dean.

"Oh," gasped Muriel and Marjorie in united consternation.

"That's the time you did it, Muriel," muttered Jerry Macy. "I always
told you that you ought to be an orator or an oratress or something.
Your voice carries a good deal farther than it ought to. Only Miss
Merton didn't think it was you who made those smart remarks. She thought
it was Marjorie. Now she'll have a new grievance to nurse this year."

"I'm awfully sorry." Muriel was the picture of contrition. "I didn't
intend she should hear me--but to blame you for it! That's dreadful.
I'll go straight and tell her that I said it."

Muriel made a quick movement as though to carry out her intention.
Marjorie caught her by the arm. "You'll do nothing of the sort, Muriel
Harding. My sophomore shoulders are broad enough to beat it. Perhaps she
didn't really hear what you said. She can't dislike me any more for that
than she did before she thought I said it."

"Young ladies, I am waiting for you to come to order. Will you kindly
cease talking and take seats?" Miss Merton's raucous voice broke
harshly upon the abashed group of girls. They scuttled into the
nearest seats at hand like a bevy of startled partridges.

"What a horrid woman," was Mary Raymond's thought, as she slipped into a
seat in front of Marjorie, and stared resentfully at the rigid figure,
so devoid of womanly beauty, in its severe brown linen dress, unrelieved
by even a touch of white at the neck.

With a final glare at Marjorie, the teacher proceeded at once to the
business at hand. Within the next few minutes she had arranged the girls
of the freshman class in the section of the study hall they were to
occupy during the coming year. Marjorie awaited the turn of the
sophomores to be assigned to a seat with inward trepidation. She had had
no opportunity to introduce Mary to Miss Merton. What should she do? She
half rose from the seat, then sat down undecidedly.

Miss Merton had arranged the freshmen to her satisfaction. Now she was
calling for the sophomores to rise. Perhaps she would not notice Mary.
If she did not, then Mary could pass with the sophomores to their
section. As soon as the session was dismissed, she would introduce her
to Miss Merton.

But Miss Merton was lynx-eyed. "That girl there in the blue dress," she
blared forth. "You were not in the freshman class last year."

Mary turned in her seat and shot a glance of appeal to Marjorie. The
girl rose bravely in friend's behalf.

"Miss Merton," she said in her clear, young voice, "I brought Miss
Raymond here with me. She----"

"You are not supposed to bring visitors to school, Miss Dean," was the
teacher's sarcastic reminder.

Marjorie's eyes kindled with wrath. Then, mastering her anger, she made
courteous reply. "She is not a visitor. She expects to enter the
sophomore class."

"Come down to this front seat, young woman," ordered Miss Merton,
ignoring Marjorie's explanation. "I'll attend to you later."

Mary sat still, surveying Miss Merton out of two belligerent blue eyes.

"Do as she says, Mary," whispered Marjorie.

Mary obeyed. Walking down the aisle with maddening deliberation, she
seated herself on the bench indicated.

"No talking," rasped Miss Merton, as a faint murmur went up from the
girls in the sophomore section.

Once the classes had been assigned to their places for the year there
was little more to be done. Nettled by her recent resentment against
Marjorie, Miss Merton took occasion to deliver a sharp lecture on good
conduct in general, making several pointed remarks, which caused
Marjorie to color hotly. More than one pair of young eyes glared their
resentment of this harsh teacher who had never lost an opportunity in
the past school year of censuring their favorite.

The moment the short session was over the girls of her particular set
gravitated toward Marjorie.

"Well, of all the old cranks!" scolded Geraldine Macy.

"She's the most hateful teacher in the world," was Muriel Harding's

"I wouldn't pay any attention to her, Marjorie. I'd go straight to Miss
Archer," advised Susan Atwell. "Just see her now! She looks as though
she'd actually snap at your friend."

Miss Merton was engaged in interviewing the still belligerent Mary, who
stood listening to her, a sulky droop to her pretty mouth.

"Oh, I must go and help Mary out. Wait for me outside, girls."

"Do you need any help?" inquired Jerry. "I never was afraid of Miss
Merton, if you'll remember."

"Oh, no." Marjorie hurried toward her friend, and stood quietly at
Mary's side.

"Well, Miss Dean, what is it?" Miss Merton eyed Marjorie with her most
disagreeable expression.

"I came to tell you, Miss Merton," began Marjorie in her direct fashion,
"that Miss Raymond saw Miss Archer this morning before we came to the
study hall. She sent us----"

"That will do, Miss Dean," interrupted Miss Merton. "I hope Miss Raymond
is capable of attending to her affairs without your assistance. I should
greatly prefer that you go on about your own business and leave this
matter to me. I believe I have been a teacher in Sanford High School
long enough to be trusted to manage my own work."

A bitter retort rose to Marjorie's lips. She forced it back and with a
dignified bow to Miss Merton and, "I will wait for you in the corridor,
Mary," walked from the room, her head held high, her eyes burning with
resentful tears.



Once outside the study hall Marjorie Dean's proud manner left her. Her
recent joy in returning to high school gave place to a feeling of deep
dejection. Everything had certainly gone wrong. She had had so many
pleasant little thrills of anticipation that she had quite forgotten
Miss Merton and the teacher's unreasoning dislike for her, which she had
never taken pains to conceal. Muriel's injudicious remarks had made a
bad matter worse. Marjorie knew that from now on she would have to be
doubly on her guard. It was evident that Miss Merton intended to take
her to task whenever the slightest opportunity presented itself.
Marjorie even had her suspicions that Miss Merton had known that it was
Muriel instead of herself who had uttered those distinctly unflattering

"I'll have to be very careful not to offend Miss Merton," she ruminated
gloomily, as she stood waiting for Mary, her eyes fastened on the big
study-hall door. Then her thoughts switched from Miss Merton to
Constance Stevens. Why hadn't Connie come to school? Surely she could
not be ill. Perhaps Charlie was sick.

The opening of the study-hall door interrupted her worried reflections.
Mary emerged from the hall, looking like a young thundercloud. She
closed the door after her with a resounding bang, which conveyed more
than words.

"Of all the hateful old tyrants!" she exclaimed, as she hurried toward
Marjorie. "I despise her. How dared she treat you so?"

"Oh, never mind," soothed Marjorie. "Let us forget her. Tell me, are you
or are you not a sophomore? Or must we go to Miss Archer to straighten

"I'm a sophomore all right enough," said Mary grimly. "I told her what
Miss Archer said, and after that she treated me more civilly. Such a
teacher is a disgrace to a school. Why is she so bitter against you,

Marjorie shrugged her shoulders. "I don't know. She has always acted
like that toward me. It's just a natural dislike, I suppose. Sometimes,
after a teacher has taught school a great many years, she takes sudden
likes and dislikes. I've been in her black books since my very first day
in Sanford High."

"Poor old Lieutenant." Mary patted Marjorie's hand with sympathetic

"Oh, it doesn't matter. I don't really care much. There are so many nice
teachers here who _do_ like me that I'm not going to worry over Miss
Merton. Come along." She linked her arm in Mary's. "The girls will be
waiting for us outside. We are all going down to Sargent's for ice
cream. Then we'll go home and report to Captain. After luncheon, I think
we had better walk over to Gray Gables. I am afraid Connie or, perhaps,
little Charlie is sick. You know Connie promised us, when we were there
on Friday, that she'd see us at school."

Mary's face clouded. "I--I think I won't go to Gray Gables with you. I
must write to mother. Besides, you and Constance may wish to be by

Marjorie's brown eyes opened wide. "Why should we?" she asked. "You know
you are always first with me. I haven't any secrets from you."

Mary's face brightened. Perhaps she had been too hasty in her
conclusions. "I wish you would tell me all about yourself and
Constance," she said slowly. "You promised you would."

"Well, I will," began Marjorie. Then she paused and flushed slightly. It
had suddenly come to her that perhaps Constance would not care to have
Mary know of the clouds of suspicion that had hung so heavily over her
freshman year. "I'd love to tell you about it now, Mary, but I think I
had better ask Constance first if she is willing for me to do so. You
see, it concerns her more than me. I am almost sure she wouldn't mind,
but I'd rather be perfectly fair and ask her first. You know Captain and
General have always said to us, 'Never break a confidence.'"

A hurt look crept into Mary's face. "Oh, never mind," she managed to
say with a brave assumption of indifference. "I don't wish to know about
it if you don't care to tell me."

"But I _do_ care to tell you, and I will if Connie says I may," assured
Marjorie earnestly.

Mary had no time for further remark. They had reached the double
entrance doors to the building and were hailed by a crowd of girls at
the foot of the steps.

"Oh, Connie," Marjorie Dean cried out delightedly. She had spied her
friend among them.

Constance ran forward to meet Marjorie and Mary. "I couldn't come
before. I've been to the train. Father is here. He's going to be at home
for two days. And what do you think he wishes me to do?"

"You are not going away with him?" asked Marjorie in sudden alarm.

"No, indeed. I couldn't give up my sophomore year here, even for him. It
isn't anything so serious. He proposed that as long as he was here to
play for us, it would be a good idea to----"

"Give a dance," ended Jerry Macy. "Hurrah for Mr. Stevens! Long may he

"Yes, you have guessed it, Jerry," laughed Constance. "I'm going to give
a party in honor of Mary. I was so excited over it that I left him to go
on to Gray Gables by himself, while I rushed over here as fast as I
could come. I wanted to catch you girls together so I could invite you
in a body. Jerry, do you suppose Hal would be willing to see Lawrie and
the Crane and some of our boys? It will have to be a strictly informal
hop, for I haven't time to send out invitations."

"Of course he'll round up the crowd," assured Jerry slangily. "If he
doesn't, I will. I guess I won't go to Sargent's with you. What is mere
ice cream when compared to a dance? Besides, it's fattening--the ice
cream, I mean. I've lost five pounds this summer and I'm not going to
find them again at Sargent's if I can help it. So long, I'll see you all

Jerry bustled off on her errand, leaving her friends engaged in an eager
discussion of the coming festivity. A little later they trooped down the
street to their favorite rendezvous, where most of their pocket money
found a resting place.

"We won't have a single bit of appetite for luncheon," commented
Marjorie to Mary, when, an hour later, they set out for home.

"I suppose not," assented Mary indifferently. Her thoughts were far from
the subject of luncheon. Her jealousy of Constance Stevens was
thoroughly aroused and flaming. She wished Marjorie had never seen nor
heard of this hateful girl. And to think that Constance had announced
that she was going to give a party in honor of _her_, the very person
she had robbed of her best friend! It was insufferable. What could she
do? If she refused to go, Marjorie and all those girls would wonder. She
could give no reasonable excuse for declining to go at this late day.
She told herself she would rather die than have Marjorie know how deeply
she had hurt her. Oh, well, she was not the first martyr to the cause
of friendship. She would try to bear it. Perhaps, some day, Marjorie,
too, would know the bitterness of being supplanted.

It was an unusually quiet Mary who slipped into her place at luncheon
that day.

"What is the matter, dear?" asked Mrs. Dean, noting the girl's silence.
"Don't you feel well?"

"Oh, I am all right," she made reply, torturing her sober little face
into a smile.

"Mary had troubles of her own this morning, Captain," explained
Marjorie. Then she launched forth into an account of the morning's

Mrs. Dean looked her indignation as her daughter's recital progressed.
She had met Miss Merton and disliked her on sight.

"I have no wish to interfere in your school life, Marjorie," she said
with a touch of sternness, when Marjorie had finished, "but I will not
hear of either of you being imposed upon. If Miss Merton continues her
unjust treatment I shall insist that you tell me of it. I shall take
measures to have it stopped."

"Captain won't stand having her army abused," laughed Marjorie.

"At least you must admit that I'm a conscientious officer," was her
mother's reply. "To change the subject, would you like to go shopping
with me this afternoon?"

"Oh, yes," chorused the two. Even Mary forgot her grievances for the
moment. As little girls they had always hailed the idea of shopping with
their beloved captain.

The shopping tour took up the greater part of the afternoon, and it was
after five o'clock when the two started for home.

"No lingering at the dinner table to-night for this army," declared
Marjorie, finishing her dessert in a hurry. "It's almost seven, Mary.
We'll have to hurry upstairs to dress for the dance."

"You didn't apply to me for a leave of absence," reminded Mr. Dean. "You
know the penalty for deserting."

"We've forgotten it, General. You can tell us what it is to-morrow,"
retorted Marjorie. "Come on, Mary. Salute your officers and away we go."

In the excitement of dressing for the dance Mary almost forgot that she
was about to enter the house of the girl she now believed she disliked.
Marjorie's praise of her pretty white chiffon evening frock almost
restored her to good humor. Marjorie herself was radiant in a gown of
apricot Georgette crepe and filmy lace.

Mrs. Dean had elected to drive them to their destination in the
automobile, and when they alighted from the machine at the gate
to Gray Gables, waving her a gay good night, Mary felt almost glad
that she had come and that the dance was to be given in her honor.

"I've been watching for you." A slender figure in pale blue ran down the
steps to meet them. Out of pure sentiment Constance Stevens had chosen
to wear the blue chiffon dress--Marjorie's gracious gift to her. She had
taken the utmost care of it, and it looked almost as fresh as on the
night she had first worn it.

Mary Raymond stared at her in amazement Could it be--yes, it was the
very gown that Marjorie's aunt had given her a year ago as a
commencement present. Had not Marjorie declared over and over again that
she would never part with it? And now she had deliberately given it to
Constance. This proved beyond a doubt where Marjorie's true affection
lay. Mary was obsessed with a wild desire to turn and run down the drive
and away from this hateful girl. This was, indeed, the last straw.



Mary Raymond wondered, as she walked up the steps of Gray Gables,
between Constance and Marjorie, and into the brightly lighted reception
hall, how she could manage to endure the long evening ahead of her. She
was seized with an insane desire to break from Marjorie's light hold on
her arm and rush out of the house of this girl who had stolen her
dearest possession, Marjorie's friendship. How well she remembered the
day on which Marjorie had received the blue dress which Constance was
wearing so unconcernedly. It had come by express in a huge white
pasteboard box, while she and Marjorie were seated on the Deans' step
engaged in one of their long confabs. How excited they had been over it!
How they had exclaimed as Marjorie drew the blue wonder from its
pasteboard nest. Then a great trying-on had followed. She recalled with
jealous clearness how great Marjorie's disappointment had been when she
found it too small for her. Then Marjorie had said as she lovingly
patted its soft folds, "Never mind, I'll keep it always, just to look
at. It was awfully dear in Aunt Louise to send it to me and I wouldn't
let her know for worlds that it doesn't fit me." And now, after all she
had said, she had lightly given it away--and to Constance Stevens.

Mary forced herself to smile and reply to the friendly greeting of Miss
Allison, who stood in the big, old-fashioned hall helping to receive her
niece's guests. A moment more and she was surrounded by Geraldine Macy,
Irma Linton and Susan Atwell, who had come forth in a body from the
long, palm-decorated parlor off the hall to welcome her, accompanied by
a singularly handsome youth, a very tall, merry-faced young man and a
black-haired, blue-eyed lad, with clean cut, sensitive features.

She was presented in turn to Harold Macy, Sherman Norwood, known as the
Crane to his intimate associates, and Lawrence Armitage.

"So, _you_ are Marjorie's friend, Mary Raymond, of whom she has spoken
to me so often," smiled Hal Macy. "We are very glad to welcome you to
Sanford, Miss Raymond."

"Thank you," Mary returned, almost forgetting her first bitter moment.
Hal Macy's direct hand-clasp and frank, bright smile of welcome stamped
him with sincerity and truth. She liked equally well Lawrence
Armitage's deferential greeting and she found the Crane's wide, boyish
grin irresistible as he bowed low over her small hand. Yes, the Sanford
boys were certainly nice. She was not so sure that she liked the girls.
They made too much of Marjorie, and Marjorie had proved herself disloyal
to her sworn comrade and playmate of years.

Once inside the drawing-room, which had been transformed into an
impromptu ball-room by taking up the rugs and moving the piano to one
end of it, introductions followed in rapid succession.

"Mary, you must meet my foster father." Constance slipped her arm
through Mary's and conducted her to the piano where stood a man with an
immense shock of snow-white hair, sorting high piles of music arranged
on top. "Father."

The man at the piano wheeled at the sound of the soft voice. His stern,
almost sad face broke into a radiant smile that completely transformed

"This is Mary Raymond. Mary, my father, Mr. Stevens," introduced
Constance. "And this is my uncle, Mr. Roland."

Both men bowed and took Mary's hand in turn, expressing their pleasure
at meeting her. Old John Roland's faded blue eyes contained a puzzled
look. "You are very familiar," he said. "Where have I seen you before?"

"Look sharply, Uncle John," laughed Marjorie, who had joined them. "You
have never seen Mary before. She is like someone you know."

"'Someone you know,'" repeated the old man faithfully. He would never
outgrow his quaint habit of repetition, although he had improved
immensely in other ways since the change in Constance's fortune had
released him from the clutch of poverty.

Mary eyed him curiously. Then her gaze rested on Mr. Stevens. What
peculiar persons they were. And Marjorie had never written her of them.
They must have a strange history. She made up her mind that she would
never ask her fickle chum about them. She would find out whatever she
wished to know from others. Now that she was a pupil of Sanford High she
would soon become acquainted with girls of her class other than those
she had already met. Perhaps she might learn to like some one better
than---- Her sober reflections stopped there. She could not bring
herself to the point of breaking her long comradeship with the girl who
had failed her.

Uncle John Roland was still staring at her and smilingly shaking his
gray head. "I don't know. I can't think, and yet----"

Suddenly a jubilant little shout rent the air, causing the group about
the piano to smile. In the same instant Mary felt a small hand slip into
hers. "I knew you comed to see Charlie again. Charlie wouldn't go to bed
because Connie said you'd surely come. Charlie loves you a whole lot.
You look like Connie."

"Look like Connie," muttered Uncle John. Then his faded eyes flashed
sudden intelligence. "I know. Of course she's like Connie. I guessed it,
didn't I?" He glanced triumphantly at Marjorie.

"So you did, Uncle John," nodded Marjorie brightly.

Mr. Stevens gazed searchingly at the young girl so like his foster
daughter. Mary felt her color rising under that penetrating gaze. It was
as though this dreamy-eyed man with the dark, sad face had read her very
soul. For a brief instant she sensed dimly the ignobleness of her
jealousy of his daughter. She felt that she would rather die than have
him know it. Perhaps, after all, she was in the wrong. She would try to
dismiss it and do her best to enter into the spirit of the merry-making.
An impatient tug at her hand caused her to remember Charlie's presence.

"Talk to me," demanded the child. "Connie says I have to go to bed in a
minute, so hurry up."

Mary stooped and wound her arms about the tiny, insistent youngster. She
clasped Charlie tightly to her and kissed his eager face. And that
embrace sealed the beginning of an affection between them, the very
purity of which was one day to lead her from the terrible Valley of
Doubt into the sunlight of belief.

"Now you've done it," was Marjorie's merry accusation. "You've stolen my
cavalier. Oh, Charlie, I thought I was your very best girl." She made
reproachful eyes at Charlie, who, delighted at receiving so much
attention, sidled over to her with a ridiculous air of importance and
took her hand.

"Everybody likes Charlie," he observed complacently. "Now he can stay up
all night and listen to the band."

"You'd go to sleep and never hear the band at all," laughed Constance.
"No, Charlie must go to bed and sleep and sleep, or he will never grow
big enough and strong enough to play in the band."

The half pout on Charlie's babyish mouth, born of Constance's dread
edict, died suddenly. Even the joys of staying up all night were not to
be compared with the glories of that far-off future.

"All right, I'll go," he sighed. "But you and Marjorie must come again
soon in the daytime when I don't have to go to bed. I'll play a new
piece for you on my fiddle. Uncle John says it's a marv'lus

A burst of laughter rose from the group around him at this calm
statement. After kissing everyone in his immediate vicinity, Charlie
made a quaint little bow and marched off beside Constance, well pleased
with himself.

"Isn't he a perfect darling?" was Mary's involuntary tribute.

"Yes, I adore Charlie," returned Marjorie. "I used to feel so dreadfully
for him when he was crippled. Isn't it splendid, Mr. Stevens, to see him
so well and lively?" She turned radiantly to the white-haired musician.
His face lighted again in that wonderful smile. He was about to answer
Marjorie, when Constance, who had seen Charlie to the door where he had
been taken in charge by a white-capped nurse, returned to them, saying:

"What shall we have first, girls, a one step?"

"Oh, yes, do!" exclaimed Jerry Macy, who had come up in time to hear
Constance's question, in company with a mischievous-eyed,
freckled-faced youth who rejoiced in the dignified cognomen of Daniel
Webster Seabrooke, but who was most appropriately nicknamed the Gadfly.

"Mr. Seabrooke, Miss Raymond," introduced Jerry.

The freckled-faced boy put on a preternaturally solemn expression and
begged the pleasure of the first dance with Mary. Mr. Stevens had
already handed the old violinist the music for the dance and placed his
own score in position upon the piano. The slow, fascinating strains of
the one step rang out and a great scurrying for partners began.

Marjorie found herself dancing off with Hal Macy, while Lawrence
Armitage swung Constance into the rapidly growing circle of dancers.
Irma Linton and the Crane danced together, while Jerry Macy, who danced
extremely well for a stout girl, was claimed by Arthur Standish, one of
her brother's classmates.

Once the hop had fairly begun, dance followed dance in rapid succession.
Much to Mary's secret satisfaction there were no gaps in her programme.
As it was, there were no wall flowers. An even number of boys and girls
had been invited and every one had put in an appearance. At eleven
o'clock a dainty repast, best calculated to suit the appetites of hungry
school girls and boys, was served at small tables on the side veranda,
which extended almost the length of the house.

It was not until after supper, when the dancing was again at its
height, that Marjorie and Constance found time for a few words together.

The two girls had slipped away to Constance's pretty blue and white
bedroom to repair a torn frill of Marjorie's gown.

"Isn't it splendid that we can have a minute to ourselves?" laughed
Constance. "I'm glad you happened to need repairing. I hope Mary is
having a good time. As long as it's her party I'm anxious that she
should enjoy herself."

"Of course she's having a good time. How could she help it?" returned
Marjorie staunchly. "All the boys have been perfectly lovely to her and
so have the girls. I knew everyone would like her. You and Mary and I
will have lots of fun going about together this winter."

Constance smiled an answer to Marjorie's joyous prediction. Then her
pretty face sobered. "Marjorie," she said, then paused.

Marjorie glanced up from the flounce she was setting to rights.
Something in Constance's tone commanded her attention. "What is it,

"Have you ever said anything to Mary about you--and me--and things last

"Why, no. I wouldn't think of doing so unless I asked you if I might.

"Please don't, then," interrupted Constance. "I had rather she didn't
know. It is all past, and, as long as so few persons know about it,
don't you think it would be better to let it rest?"

Marjorie bent her head over her work to conceal the sudden disturbing
flush that rose to her face. She had intended telling Constance that
very night of the remark that Miss Archer had made in Mary's presence
about their freshman year. She had felt dimly that, perhaps, Mary ought
to be put in possession of the story, although she had not the remotest
suspicion of the jealousy that was already warping her chum's thoughts.
Her one idea had been to answer all her questions as freely as she had
done in the past. She intended to put the matter to Constance in this
light. But now Constance had forestalled her and was asking her to be
silent on the very matters she wished to impart to Mary.

"It isn't as though it is something which Mary ought to know," continued
Constance, quite unaware of Marjorie's inward agitation. "It wouldn't
make her happier to learn it and--and--she might not think so well of
me. I wish her to like me, Marjorie, just because she is your dearest
friend. Don't you think I am right about it? You wouldn't care to have
even the friend of your best friend know all the little intimate details
of your life. Now, would you?" Constance slipped to her knees beside
Marjorie, one arm across her shoulder, and regarded her with pleading

Marjorie stared thoughtfully into the earnest face of the girl at her
side. What should she say? If she told Constance that Mary had twice
asked questions regarding her affairs, Constance might think Mary unduly
curious. Perhaps, after all, silence was wisest. Mary might forget all
about it, and, in any case, she was far too sensible to feel hurt or
indignant because she, Marjorie, was not free to tell her of the
private affairs of another.

"Promise me, Marjorie, that you won't say anything," urged Constance.
Her natural reticence made her dread taking even Mary into confidence
regarding herself.

"I promise, Connie," said Marjorie with a half sigh. "There, I guess
that flounce will stay in place. I've sewed it over and over."

The two girls returned to the dance floor arm in arm. Mary Raymond's
blue eyes were turned on them resentfully as they entered the room. They
had been having a talk together, and hadn't asked her to join them. Then
her face cleared. She thought she knew what that talk was about.
Marjorie had been asking Constance's permission to tell her everything.
She would hear the great secret on the way home, no doubt. Her spirits
rose at the prospect of the comfy chat they would have in the automobile
and for the rest of the evening she put aside all doubts and fears, and
danced as only sweet and seventeen can.



Though the evening of the dance had been deceitfully clear and balmy,
dark clouds banked the autumn sky before morning and the day broke in a
downpour of rain. It was a doubly dreary morning to poor little Mary
Raymond and over and over again Longfellow's plaintive lines,

    "Into each life some rain must fall,
     Some days must be dark and dreary,"

repeated themselves in her brain. Yes, rain had indeed fallen into her
life. The bitter rain of false friendship. All the days must from now on
be dark and dreary. Last night she had danced the hours away, secure in
the thought that Marjorie would not fail her. And Marjorie had spoken no
word of explanation. During the drive home she had talked gaily of the
dance and of the boys and girls who had attended it. She had related
bright bits of freshman history concerning them, but on the subject of
Constance Stevens and her affairs she had been mute. Mary fancied she
had purposely avoided the subject. In this respect she was quite
correct. Marjorie, still a little disturbed over her promise to
Constance, had tried to direct Mary's mind to other matters. Deeply
hurt, rather than jealous, Mary had listened to Marjorie in silence. She
managed to make a few comments on the dance, and pleading that she was
too sleepy for a night-owl talk, had kissed Marjorie good night rather
coldly and hurried to her room. Stopping only to lock the door, she had
thrown herself on her bed in her pretty evening frock and given vent to
long, tearless sobs that left her wide awake and mourning, far into the
night. It was, therefore, not strange that lack of sleep, coupled with
her supposed dire wrongs, had caused her to awaken that morning in a
mood quite suited to the gloom of the day.

A vigorous rattling of the door knob caused her to spring from her bed
with a half petulant exclamation.

"Let me in, Mary," called Marjorie's fresh young voice from the hall.
"Whatever made you lock your door? I guess you were so sleepy you didn't
know what you were about."

Mary turned the key and opened the door with a jerk. Marjorie pounced
upon her like a frolicsome puppy. Wrapping her arms around her chum, she
whirled her about and half the length of the room in a wild dance.

"Let me alone, please." Mary pulled herself pettishly from Marjorie's
clinging arms.

"Why, Lieutenant, what's the matter? You aren't sick, are you? If you
are, I'm sorry I was so rough. If you're just sleepy, then I'm not. You
needed waking up. It's a quarter to eight now and we'll have to hustle.
Captain let us sleep until the last minute. Now, which are you, sick or

"Both," returned Mary laconically. "I--that is--my head aches."

"Poor darling. Was Marjorie a naughty girl to tease her when her was so
sick?" Marjorie sought to comfort her chum, but Mary eluded her
sympathetic caress and said almost crossly, "Don't baby me. I--I hate
being babied and you know it."

Marjorie's arms dropped to her sides. "I didn't mean to tease you. I'm
sorry. I'll go down and ask Captain to give you something to cure your
headache." She turned abruptly and left the room, deeply puzzled and
slightly hurt. What on earth ailed Mary?

The moment the door closed Mary pattered into the bathroom and banged
the door. She hurried through her bath and was partly dressed when
Marjorie returned with a little bottle of aspirin tablets. "One of
these will fix up your head," she declared cheerily.

"I don't want it," muttered Mary. "My head is all right now."

"That is what I would call a marvelous recovery," laughed Marjorie. "I
wish Captain's headaches would take wing so easily. You know what
dreadful sick headaches she sometimes has. She had one on the first day
I went to Sanford High, and I had to go alone."

"I remember," nodded Mary carelessly. "That was one of the things you
_did_ write me."

"I wrote you lots of things," retorted Marjorie lightly, failing to
catch the significance of Mary's words. "But now you are here, I don't
have to write them. I can _say_ them."

"Then, why don't you?" was on Mary's tongue, but she did not say it.
Instead, she maintained a half sulky silence, as she walked to the
wardrobe and began fingering the gowns hung there. Selecting a blue
serge dress, made sailor fashion, she slipped into it and began
fastening it as she walked to the mirror. Marjorie stood watching her,
with a half frown. She did not understand this new mood of Mary's. The
Mary she had formerly known had been sunny and light-hearted. The girl
who stood before the mirror, grave and unsmiling, was a stranger.

"I'm ready to go downstairs." Mary turned slowly from the mirror and
walked toward the door. Beneath her quiet exterior, a silent struggle
was going on. Should she speak her mind once and for all to Marjorie, or
should she go on enduring in silence? Perhaps it would be best to speak
and have things out. Then, at least, they would understand each other.
Then her pride whispered to her that it was Marjorie's and not her place
to speak. Marjorie must know something of her state of mind. At heart
she must be just the least bit ashamed of herself for shutting her out
of her personal affairs. Had they not sworn long ago to tell each other
their secrets. _She_ had always kept her word. It was Marjorie who had
failed to do so. No, she would not humble herself. Marjorie might keep
her secrets, for all _she_ cared. She was sorry that she had ever come
to Sanford. Now that she was here she would have to stay. If she wrote
her father to take her away, her mother would have to be told. Mary was
resolved that no matter what happened to her, her mother must be spared
all anxiety. She would try to bear it. Marjorie should never know how
deeply she was wounded. She would pretend that all was as it had been

Mrs. Dean looked up from her letters, as the two girls entered the
dining room.

"Hurry, children," she admonished. "You haven't much time to spare.
These social affairs completely break up army discipline. Look out you
don't go to sleep at your post this morning."

"Who's sleepy? Not I," boasted Marjorie. "I feel as though I'd slept for
hours and hours. Your army is ready for duty, Captain. Lieutenant Mary's
headache has been put to rout and everything is lovely."

"Are you sure you feel quite well, dear?" questioned Mrs. Dean
anxiously. She noted that Mary was very pale and that her eyes looked
strained and tired.

"I'm quite well now, thank you." The ghost of a smile flickered on her
pale face.

"Did you enjoy the dance? It was nice in Connie to give it in your
honor. We are all very fond of her and of little Charlie."

Mary's wan face brightened at the mention of the child's name. "Isn't he
dear?" she asked impulsively.

"Mary has stolen Charlie from me," put in Marjorie. "He adores her
already. I don't blame him. So do I, and so does Connie, too. We three
are going to have splendid times together this winter."

During the rest of the breakfast Marjorie regaled her mother with an
account of the dance. Mary said little or nothing, but amid her friend's
merry chatter her silence passed unnoticed.

"Wear your raincoats," called Mrs. Dean after them, as, their breakfast
finished, they ran upstairs for their wraps.

Fifteen minutes later they had joined the bobbing umbrella procession
that wended its way into the high school building.

"You'll have to go to Miss Merton, Mary, and be assigned to a seat. She
didn't give you one yesterday, did she?" asked Marjorie. "You can put
your wraps in our locker. We are to have the same lockers we had last
year. Connie and I have a locker together. There is lots of room in it
for your things, too. I'll task Marcia Arnold to let you in with us. She
has charge of the lockers."

Mary's first impulse was to decline this friendly offer. On second
thought she closed her lips tightly, resolved to make no protest.
Later--well, there was no telling what might happen.

"Don't be afraid of Miss Merton," was Marjorie's whispered counsel, as
they crossed the threshold of the study hall. "She can't eat you."

"I'm not afraid." Mary's lip curled a trifle scornfully. Marjorie
treated her as though she were a baby.

"I have come to you for my seat," was her terse statement, as she paused
squarely before Miss Merton's desk.

Miss Merton glanced up to meet the unflinching gaze of two purposely
cold blue eyes. Something in their direct gaze made her answer with
undue civility, "Very well. I will assign you to one. Come with me."

She stalked down the aisle, Mary following, to the last seat in one of
the two sophomore rows, and paused before it. "This will be your seat
for the year," she said.

"Thank you." Mary sat down and took account of her surroundings. Across
the aisle on one side, Susan Atwell's dimpled face flashed her a
welcome. On the other side sat a tall, severe junior who wore
eye-glasses. The seat in front of her was vacant. Marjorie sat far down
the same row. Mary could just see the top of her curly head. It still
lacked five minutes of opening time and the students were, for the most
part, conversing in low tones. Now and then an accidentally loud note
caused Miss Merton to raise her head from her writing and glare severely
at the offender.

Susan Atwell leaned across the aisle and patted Mary's hand in friendly
fashion. "I'm so glad you are going to sit here," she said in an
undertone. "I was afraid Miss Merton would put some old slow-poke there
who wouldn't say 'boo' or pass notes or do anything to help the
sophomore cause along."

"I'm glad she put me near you," returned Mary affably. She had made up
her mind to win friends. They would be indispensable to her now that all
was over between her and Marjorie. "I don't imagine that tall girl is
very sociable."

"She's a dig and a prig," giggled Susan. "You'd get no recreation from
labor from that quarter."

Mary echoed Susan's infectious giggle. "Who sits in front of me?" she

"No one, yet. Who knows what manner of girl is in store for us? That's
the only vacant seat in the section. The first late arrival into our
midst will get it. I don't believe we'll have any more girls, though,
unless someone comes into school late as Marjorie came last year. It's
too bad. It makes an awkward stretch if one wants to pass a note. I
always am caught if I throw one. Last year I threw one and hit Miss
Merton in the back. She was standing quite a little way down the aisle.
I thought it was a splendid opportunity. I'd been waiting to send one to
Irma Linton, who sat two seats in front of me. The girl between us
wouldn't pass it. So I threw it, and it went further than I thought."
Susan's fascinating giggle burst forth anew. She rocked to and fro in
merriment at the recollection.

Mary found herself laughing in concert. Just then the opening bell
clanged forth its harsh note of warning. The low buzz of voices in the
great study hall died into silence. Every pair of eyes faced front. Miss
Merton rose from her chair to conduct the opening exercises. A sudden
murmur that swept the hall caused her to say sternly, "Silence." Then,
noting that the eyes of her pupils were fixed in concerted gaze on the
study-hall door, she turned sharply.

A black-haired, black-eyed girl, whose elfish face wore an expression of
mingled contempt and amusement, advanced into the room with a decided
air of one who wishes to create an impression.

"Mignon!" gasped Susan. "Well, _what_ do you think of that?"



At sight of the newcomer Miss Merton's severe face underwent a lightning
change. She stepped from the platform and hurried toward the dark-eyed
girl with outstretched hand. Her harsh voice sounded almost pleasant, as
she said, "Why, Mignon, I am delighted to see you!"

Mignon La Salle tossed her head with an air of triumph as she took Miss
Merton's hand. In her, at least, she had a powerful ally. Lowering her
voice, the teacher asked her several questions. Mignon answered them in
equally guarded tones, accompanied by the frequent significant gestures
which are involuntary in those of foreign birth.

A subdued buzzing arose from different parts of the study hall.
Apparently engrossed in her conversation with the girl who had been her
favorite pupil during her freshman year, Miss Merton paid no attention
to the sounds provoked by Mignon La Salle's unexpected arrival. As a
matter of fact, she was quite aware of them, but chose to ignore them
solely on Mignon's account. To rebuke the whisperers would tend toward
embarrassing the French girl.

"There is just one vacant place in the sophomore section," she informed
Mignon. "I think I must have reserved it specially for you." She
contorted her face into what she believed to be an affable smile.

Mignon answered it in kind, with an inimitable lifting of the eyebrows
and a significant shrug.

"Look at her," muttered Jerry Macy in Marjorie's ear. "Miss
Merton is taffying her up in great style. She always puts on
her cat-that-ate-the-canary expression when she's pleased.
And to think that we've got to stand for _her_ again this
year!" Jerry gave a positive snort of disgust.

"Shh! They'll hear you, Jerry," warned Marjorie.

"Don't care if they do. Wish they would," grumbled the disgruntled
Jerry. "I'll bet you ten to one she was sent home from boarding school."

There was a general turning of heads and craning of necks as Miss Merton
conducted Mignon down the aisle to the vacant seat in front of Mary
Raymond. There was a brief exchange of low-toned words between the two,
then Mignon seated herself, while Miss Merton marched stolidly back to
her desk and without further delay began the interrupted morning

Mary Raymond viewed the black, curly head and silken-clad shoulders of
the newcomer with some curiosity. The subdued ripple of astonishment
that had passed over the roomful of girls told her that here was no
ordinary pupil. Mignon's expensive frock of dark green Georgette crepe,
elaborately trimmed, also pointed to affluence. Mary reasoned that she
must be known to the others. A stranger would not have created such a
buzz of comment. Then, she remembered Susan's amazed exclamation. She
turned to the latter and made a gesture of inquiry, Susan shook her
head. Her lips formed a silent, "After school," and Mary nodded

"Young ladies, you will arrange your programme of recitations this
morning as speedily as possible," was Miss Merton's command the moment
opening exercises were over. "You will be given until ten o'clock to do
so. Then there will be twenty-minute classes for the rest of the
morning. Classes will occupy the usual period of time during the
afternoon. Try to arrange your studies so that you will not have to
waste valuable time in making changes. Please avoid asking unnecessary
questions. The bulletin board will tell you everything, if you take
pains to examine it carefully. Let there be no loud talking or personal

Miss Merton sat down with the air of one who has done her duty, and
glared severely at the rows of attentive young faces. She was not in
sympathy with these girls. Their youth was a distinct affront to her
narrow soul.

The business of arranging the term's studies began in quiet, orderly
fashion. The majority of the pupils had long since decided upon their
courses of study. Their main duty now lay in making satisfactory
arrangements of their classes and the hours on which their various
recitations fell.

Marjorie Dean studied the bulletin board with a serious face. She had
successfully carried five studies during her freshman year. She decided
that she would do so again, provided the fifth subject held interest
enough to warrant the extra effort it meant. Plane geometry, of course,
she would have to take. Then there was second year French. She and
Constance intended to go on with the language of which they were so
fond. Her General had insisted that she must begin Latin. She should
have begun it in her freshman year. That made three. Then there was
chemistry. Should she choose a fifth subject? Yes, there was English
Literature. It would not be hard work. She was sure she would love it.
Besides, she wished to be in Miss Flint's class.

Once she had decided upon her subjects, she studied the board anew for a
proper arrangement of her recitation hours. For a wonder they fitted
into one another beautifully, leaving her that last coveted period in
the afternoon, free for study. She sat back at last with a faint breath
of satisfaction. She wondered how Mary was getting on and what she
intended to study. They had agreed beforehand on Chemistry. Only the day
before Mr. Dean had half-promised to fit out a tiny laboratory for them
in a small room at the rear of the house.

Mary, however, was frowning darkly at the board. She wondered in which
section Marjorie intended to recite geometry. She had been so busy with
her own woes that gloomy morning that she had quite forgotten to plan
with Marjorie. Oh, well, she reflected, what difference did it make?
Marjorie wouldn't care whether they recited together or not. Very likely
she had already made plans with that odious Constance Stevens that would
leave her out. Marjorie had already said that she and Constance
intended to go on with French together. Then there were Cæsar's
Commentaries. She had finished first-year Latin. She would have to take
them next. Suddenly a naughty idea came into her perverse little brain.
Why not purposely leave Marjorie out of her calculations? Marjorie had
wished her to take chemistry. Very well. She would disappoint her by
choosing something else. Then if Mr. Dean fitted out a laboratory, his
daughter would have the pleasure of working in it all by herself. She
would show a certain person what it meant to cast aside a lifelong
friendship. Oh, yes, Marjorie was anxious for her to take English
literature. She would take rhetoric instead. She would go still further.
If when classes assembled she found herself in the same geometry section
with her chum she would make an excuse and change to another period of
recitation. The frown deepened on her smooth forehead as she jotted down
her subjects on the sheet of paper before her.

Suddenly conscious of the intent regard of someone, she raised her head.
A pair of elfish black eyes were fixed upon her in curious intent.

"Who are you?" asked Mignon La Salle with cool impudence. "You look like
that priggish Miss Stevens. I hope for your sake you are not a relative
of hers."

"Most certainly I am not," retorted Mary, flushing angrily. It was too
provoking. Why must she be constantly reminded of her resemblance to one
she disliked so intensely? In her annoyance at the nature of the French
girl's remarks, she quite overlooked the impertinence of her address.

A gleam of satisfaction flashed across Mignon's face. "Then there is
hope," she returned, holding up her forefinger in an impish imitation of
a world-wide advertisement. "Say it again. I can't believe the evidence
of my own ears."

"I am not a relative of Miss Stevens," repeated Mary a trifle stiffly.
The French girl's mocking tones were distinctly unpleasant. "Why do you

"Because I wish to know," shrugged Mignon Then she added tactfully,
"Please don't think me rude. I am always too frank in expressing my
opinions. If I dislike anyone I can't smile deceitfully and pretend them
to be my dearest friend."

Mary's sullen face cleared. Here at last was a girl who seemed to be
sincere. She unbent slightly and smiled. Mignon returned the smile in
her most amiable fashion.

"Pardon me for a moment." Mignon turned in her seat and began fumbling
in a little leather bag that lay on her desk.

Mary felt a quick, light touch on her arm. Susan Atwell began making
violent signs at her behind Mignon's back. She desisted as suddenly as
she began. The French girl had turned again toward Mary with the quick,
cat-like manner that so characterized all her movements.

"Here is my card," she offered, placing a bit of engraved pasteboard on
Mary's desk.

The latter picked it up and read, "Mignon Adrienne La Salle."

"What a pretty name!" was her soft exclamation.

"I'm glad you like it," beamed Mignon. "But you haven't told me yours."

"I haven't any cards with me," apologized Mary. "My name is Mary

"Have you lived long in Sanford?" inquired Mignon suavely. She had
already decided that a girl who was in sympathy with her on one point
might prove to be worth cultivating.

"Only a short time. My mother is in Colorado for her health and I am
living in Marjorie Dean's home until Mother returns next summer."

Mary's innocent words had an electrical effect on the French girl. Her
heavy brows drew together in a scowl and her dark face set in hard

"Then that settles it," she said coldly. "You and I can _never_ be
friends." She switched about in her seat with an angry jerk.

Mary leaned forward and touched her on the shoulder. "I don't
understand," she murmured. "Please tell me what you mean."

The French girl swung halfway about. She regarded Mary with narrowed
eyes. Was it possible that Marjorie Dean had never mentioned her to her

"Hasn't Miss Dean ever spoken to you of me?" she asked abruptly.

Mary shook her head. "No, I am sure I never before heard of you. I don't
know many Sanford girls yet. I have met Miss Atwell and Miss Macy and a
few others who were at Miss Stevens' dance last night."

"So, Miss Stevens is doing social stunts," sneered Mignon. "Quite a
change from last year, I should say. I used to be friends with Susan
Atwell and Jerry Macy, but this Stevens girl made mischief between us
and broke up our old crowd entirely. Your friend, Miss Dean, took sides
with them, too, and helped the thing along. She made a perfect idiot of
herself over Constance Stevens. Oh, well, never mind. I'm not going to
say another word about it. I'm sorry we can't be friends. I'm sure we'd
get along famously together. It is impossible, though. Miss Dean
wouldn't let you."

Mary suddenly sat very erect. She had listened in amazement to Mignon's
recital. Could she believe her ears? Had her hitherto-beloved Marjorie
been guilty of trouble-making? And all for the sake of Constance
Stevens. Marjorie must indeed care a great deal for her. She had not
been mistaken, then, in her belief that she had been supplanted in her
chum's heart. And now Mignon was suggesting that Marjorie would not
allow her to be friends with the girl whom she had wronged. Mary did not
stop to consider that there are always two sides to a story. Swayed by
her resentment against Constance, she preferred to believe anything
which she might hear against her.

"Please understand, once and for all, that Marjorie has nothing to say
about whoever I choose to have for a friend," she said with decision. "I
hope I am free to do as I please. I shall be very glad to know you
better, Miss La Salle, and I am sorry that you have been so badly

The ringing of the first recitation-bell broke in upon the conversation.

"Oh, gracious, I haven't looked at the bulletin board. Excuse me, Miss
Raymond. I'll see you later and we'll have a nice long talk. I'm sure I
shall be pleased to have _you_ for a friend."

"Are you going to recite geometry in this first section?" asked Mary
eagerly. The students were already filing out of the great room.

"Let me see." Mignon consulted the bulletin board. "Why, yes, I might as

"Oh, splendid!" glowed Mary. "Then you can show me the way to the
geometry classroom."

"Delighted, I'm sure," returned Mignon. Her black eyes sparkled with
triumph. At last she had found a way to even her score with Marjorie
Dean. With almost uncanny shrewdness she had divined what Marjorie
herself had not discovered. This blue-eyed baby of a girl, for Mignon
mentally characterized her as such, was jealous of Marjorie's friendship
with the Stevens girl. Very well. She would take a hand and help matters
along. Of course there was a strong chance that it might all come to
nothing. Marjorie might take Mary in charge the moment school was over
and tell her a few things. Yet that was hardly possible. Much as she
hated the brown-eyed girl who had worsted her at every point, in her own
cowardly heart lurked a respect for Marjorie's high standard of honor.
So far Mary knew nothing against her. Perhaps she would never know.
Perhaps if Marjorie and Jerry and Irma tried to prejudice Mary against
her, the girl would rebel and send them about their business. She had
looked stupidly obstinate when she said, "I hope I am free to do as I
please." Mignon smiled maliciously as she walked down the long aisle
ahead of Mary.

Marjorie had risen from her seat at the sound of the first bell. Now she
gazed anxiously up the aisle toward Mary's seat. She looked relieved as
she saw her chum approaching. She bowed coldly to Mignon as she passed.
"Oh, Mary," she said, "I was looking for you. If you are going to recite
geometry now, then please don't go. Wait and recite in my section. You
know, we said we'd recite it together."

Mary's blue eyes glowed resentfully. "I've made up my programme," she
answered with cool defiance. "I can't change it now. Miss La Salle is
going to show me the way to the geometry classroom. I'll see you later."

Without waiting for a reply she marched on, leaving Marjorie to stare
after her with troubled eyes.



For a brief instant Marjorie continued to stare after the retreating
form of her chum, oblivious to the steady stream of girls passing by
her. Then, seized with a sudden idea, she slipped into her seat and
hastily consulted the bulletin board. The ringing of the third bell
found her hurrying from the aisle toward the door. That brief survey of
the schedule had resulted in an entire change of her programme. She had
decided to recite geometry in the morning section. It meant giving up
the cherished last hour in the afternoon which she had reserved for
study. She would have to recite Latin at that time. Well, that did not
matter so much. Reciting geometry in the same section with Mary was what
counted. She had experienced a curious feeling of alarm as she had
watched Mary and Mignon La Salle disappear through the big doorway side
by side. Mignon was the last person she had supposed Mary would meet. To
be sure, there was nothing particularly alarming in their meeting. As
yet they were comparative strangers to each other. She had noted that
Miss Merton had assigned the French girl to the seat in front of Mary.
It was, therefore, quite probable that Mary had inquired the way to the
geometry classroom and Mignon had volunteered to conduct her to it.

Marjorie's sober face lightened a little as she hastened down the
corridor to the geometry room. Miss Nelson, the instructor in
mathematics, was on the point of closing the door as she hurriedly
approached. She smiled as she saw the pretty sophomore, and continued to
hold the door open until Marjorie had crossed the threshold. The latter
gave an eager glance about the room. The classrooms were provided with
rows of single desks similar to those in the study hall. Mary was
occupying one of them well toward the front of the room. Directly ahead
of her sat the French girl. On one of the back seats was Jerry Macy,
glaring in her most savage manner, her angry eyes fixed on the black,
curly head of the girl she despised.

There was no vacant seat near Mary. Marjorie noted all these facts in
that one comprehensive glance. It also seemed to her that the French
girl's face wore an expression of mocking triumph. And was it her
imagination, or had Mary glanced up as she entered and then turned away
her eyes? What did it all mean? Marjorie took the nearest vacant seat at
hand, the prey of many emotions. Then, as Miss Nelson stepped forward to
address the class, she resolutely put away all personal matters and,
with the fine attention to the business of study which had endeared her
to her various teachers during her freshman year, she strove to center
her troubled mind on what Miss Nelson was saying.

After a short preliminary talk on the importance of the study the class
was about to begin, Miss Nelson proceeded to the business of registering
her pupils and giving out the text books. Miss Nelson laid particular
stress on the thorough learning of all definitions pertaining to the
study in hand. "You must know these definitions so well that you could
say them backward if I requested it," she emphasized. "They will be of
greatest importance in your work to come." Then she heartlessly gave out
several pages of them for the advance lesson. The rest of the period she
spent in going over and explaining these same definitions in her usual
thorough manner, ending with the stern injunction that she expected a
letter-perfect recitation on the following morning.

"Miss Nelson doesn't want much," grumbled Jerry Macy in Irma Linton's
ear, as they filed out of class at the ringing of the bell which ended
the period. Then, before Irma had time to reply, she continued: "_What_
do you think of Mignon? Isn't it a shame she's back again? And did you
see her march in here with Mary Raymond? It's a pretty sure thing that
neither of them knows who is who in Sanford. I suppose Mary, poor
innocent, asked her the way to the classroom. Where was Marjorie all
that time, I wonder? I'll bet you a box of Huyler's that they won't walk
into geometry again to-morrow morning. Hurry up, there's Marjorie just
ahead of us with Mary now. The fair Mignon has vanished. I can see her
away ahead of them. I guess Marjorie didn't know who piloted Mary into
class. She came in last, you know."

Irma laid a detaining hand on Jerry's arm.

"Oh, wait until after school, Jerry," she counseled. This quiet,
unobtrusive girl was a keen observer. She had noted Marjorie's
half-troubled expression as she entered the room. The suspicion that
Marjorie knew and was not pleased had already come to her.

"All right, I will. Wish school was out now. Those geometry definitions
make me tired. I'm worn out already and school hasn't fairly begun yet.
I hate mathematics. Wouldn't look at a geometry if I could graduate
without it."

But while Jerry was anathematizing mathematics, Marjorie was saying
earnestly to Mary, whom she had joined at the door, "I am so sorry I
didn't come back to your seat in the study hall before the first bell
rang. I really ought to have asked permission to do so, but I was afraid
Miss Merton would say 'no.' She never loses a chance to be horrid to me.
When you said you were going to recite in this section I hurried and
changed my programme to make things come right for us."

Marjorie's earnest little speech, so full of apparent good will, brought
a quick flush of contrition to Mary's cheeks. She experienced a swift
spasm of regret for her bitter suspicion of Marjorie. Her tense face
softened. Why not unburden herself to her chum now and find relief from
her torture of doubt?

"Marjorie," she began, laying her hand lightly on her friend's arm, "I
wish you would tell me something. Miss La Salle said that Constance

"Mary!" Marjorie's sunny face had suddenly grown very stern. "I am sorry
to have to speak harshly of any girl in Sanford High, but as your chum
I feel it my duty to ask you to have nothing to do with Mignon La Salle,
or pay the slightest attention to her. She made us all very unhappy last
year, particularly Constance and myself. I can't help saying it, but I
am sorry that she has come back to Sanford. I understood that she was at
boarding school. I am sure I wish she had stayed there." Marjorie spoke
with a bitterness quite foreign to her generous nature.

Mary's lips tightened obstinately as she listened. Her brief impulse
toward a frank understanding died with Marjorie's emphatic utterance.
She was inwardly furious at her chum's sharp interruption.

"I am very well aware that you would stand up for Miss Stevens, whether
she were in the right or in the wrong," she said with cold sarcasm.
"I've been seeing that ever since I came to Sanford. But just because
she is perfect in _your_ eyes is not reason why _I_ should think so. For
my part, I like Miss La Salle. She was awfully sweet to me this morning,
and I don't think it is nice in you to talk about her behind her back."

In the intensity of the moment both girls had stopped short in the
corridor, oblivious of the passing students. Mary's flashing blue eyes
fixed Marjorie's amazed brown ones in an angry gaze.

"Why, Ma-a-ry!" stammered Marjorie. "What _is_ the matter? I don't
understand you." Her bewilderment served only to increase the rancor
that had been smouldering in Mary's heart. Now it burst forth in a fury
of words.

"Don't pretend, Marjorie Dean. You know perfectly well what I mean. It
isn't necessary for me to tell you, either. When I came to Sanford to
live with you I thought I'd be the happiest girl in the world because I
was going to live at your house and go to school with you. If I had
known as much when Father and I came to see you as I know now--well, I
wouldn't--ever--have come back again!" Her anger-choked tones faltered.
She turned away her head. Then pulling herself sharply together, she
turned and hurried down the corridor.

For a second Marjorie stood rooted to the spot. Could she believe her
ears? Was it really Mary, her soldier chum, with whom she had stood
shoulder to shoulder for so many years, who had thus arraigned her? Her
instant of inaction past, she darted down the corridor after Mary. But
the latter passed into the study hall before she could overtake her. She
could do nothing now to straighten the tangle in which they had so
suddenly become involved until the morning session of school was over.
She glanced anxiously toward Mary's seat the moment she stepped across
the threshold of the study hall, only to see her friend in earnest
conversation with Mignon La Salle. An angry little furrow settled on her
usually placid brow. Mignon had lost no time in living up to her
reputation. Mary must be rescued from her baleful influence at once.
When they reached home that day she would tell her chum the whole story
of last year. Once Mary learned Mignon's true character she would see
matters in a different light. But what had the French girl said about
Constance? If only she had held her peace and not interrupted Mary. Even
as a little girl Marjorie remembered how hard it had been, once Mary was
angry, to discover the cause. In spite of her usual good-nature she was
unyieldingly stubborn. When, at rare intervals, she became displeased or
hurt over a fancied grievance, she would nurse her anger for days in
sulky silence.

"I'll tell her all about last year the minute we get into the house this
noon," resolved Marjorie. "When she knows how badly Mignon behaved
toward Connie----" The little girl drew a sharp breath of dismay. Into
her mind flashed her recent promise to Constance Stevens. She could tell
Mary nothing until she had permission to do so. That meant that for the
day, at least, she must remain mute, for Constance was not in school
that morning, nor would she be in during the day. She had received
special permission from Miss Archer to be excused from lessons while her
foster father was at Gray Gables.

It was a very sober little girl who wended her way to the French class,
her next recitation. Out of an apparently clear sky the miserable set of
circumstances frowned upon her dawning sophomore year. But it must come
right. She would go to Gray Gables that very afternoon and ask Constance
to release her from her promise. Connie would surely be willing to do
so, when she knew all. Comforted by this thought, Marjorie brightened

"_Bon jour_, Mademoiselle Dean," greeted the cheerful voice of Professor
Fontaine as she entered his classroom. "It is with a great plaisure
that I see you again. Let us 'ope that you haf not forgottaine your
French, I trost you haf sometimes remembered _la belle langue_ during
your vacation." The little man beamed delightedly upon Marjorie.

"I am afraid I have forgotten a great deal of it, Professor Fontaine."
Marjorie spoke with the pretty deference that she always accorded this
long-suffering professor, whose strongly accented English and foreign
eccentricities made him the subject of many ill-timed jests on the part
of his thoughtless pupils. "I'm going to study hard, though, and it will
soon come back to me."

"Ah! These are the words it makes happiness to hear," he returned
amiably. "Some day, when you haf learned to spik the French as the
English, you will be glad that you haf persevered."

"I'm sure I shall," smiled Marjorie. Then, as several entering pupils
claimed the little man's attention, she passed on and took a vacant seat
at the back of the room.

Professor Fontaine had begun to address the class when the door opened
and Mignon La Salle sauntered in. She threw a quick, derisive glance at
his back, which caused several girls to giggle, then strolled calmly to
a seat. A shade of annoyance clouded the instructor's genial face. He
eyed his countrywoman severely for an instant, then went on with his

Marjorie received little benefit that morning from the professor's
gallant efforts to impress the importance of the study of his language
on the minds of his class. Her thoughts were with Mary and what she had
best say to conciliate her. She had as yet no inkling of the truth. She
did not dream that jealousy of Constance had prompted Mary's outburst.
She believed that the whole trouble lay in whatever Mignon had told

She was more hurt than surprised when at the last period in the morning
she failed to find Mary in the chemistry room. Of course she might have
expected it. Nothing would be right until she had chased away the black
clouds of misunderstanding that hung over them. Still, it grieved her to
think that Mary had not trusted her enough to weigh her loyalty against
the gossip of a stranger.

The hands of the study hall clock, pointing the hour of twelve, brought
relief to the worried sophomore. The instant the closing bell rang she
made for the locker room. It would be better to wait for Mary there,
rather than in the corridor. If Mary's mood had not changed, she
preferred not to run the risk of a possible rebuff in so prominent a
place. There were too many curious eyes ready to note their slightest
act. It would be dreadful if some lynx-eyed girl were to mark them and
circulate a report that they were quarreling.

Arrived at the locker-room, she opened her locker and took out her
wraps. A faint gasp of astonishment broke from her. Only one rain-coat,
one hat and one pair of rubbers were there, where at the beginning of
the morning there had been two. Mary Raymond's belongings were gone.



Marjorie stood staring at her locker as one in a dream.

"Hurry up, Marjorie!" Jerry Macy's loud, matter-of-fact tones broke the
spell. Behind her were Irma Linton and Susan Atwell. The faces of the
three were alive with suppressed excitement. Jerry caught sight of the
tell-tale locker and emitted an indignant snort.

"Mary took her advice, Susie! If I were the President of the United
States I'd have that Mignon La Salle deported to the South Sea Islands,
or Kamchatka, or some place where she couldn't get back in a hurry. It
would be a good deal farther than boarding school, I can just tell you,"
she ended with an angry sputter.

Marjorie faced the battery of indignant young faces. "What is the
trouble, girls?" She tried to keep her voice steady, though she was at
the point of tears.

"What's the matter with your friend, Mary Raymond, Marjorie?" continued
Jerry in a slightly lower key. "Has she gone suddenly crazy or--or----"
Jerry hesitated. She could not voice the other question which rose to
her lips.

"Girls," Marjorie viewed her friends with brave, direct eyes, "you know
something that I don't about Mary. What is it?"

"It's about Mignon," blurted Jerry. "Susie says that the minute she
landed in her seat she began talking to Mary."

"I made signs to Mary to pay no attention to her," broke in Susan
Atwell, "but she didn't understand what I meant and I couldn't explain,
with Mignon sitting right there. The next thing I saw, they were walking
down the aisle together as though they'd known each other all their

"Yes, and they came into geometry together, too," supplemented Jerry.
"But that's not the worst. Tell Marjorie what you overheard, Susie."

"Well," began Susan, looking important, "when I came back to the study
hall just before the last class was called, they were both there ahead
of me. Just as I was going to sit down at my desk I heard Mignon tell
Mary she'd love to have her share her locker. Mary was looking awfully
sober and pretty cross, too, as though she were mad about something. I
heard her say, 'How can I get my wraps?' and Mignon said, 'Go to Marcia
Arnold and see if you can borrow Miss Stevens' key for a minute. If she
hasn't come back to school yet, very likely Marcia has it. Tell her you
want to take something from it and don't care to bother Miss Dean. You
can easily do it, because you haven't a recitation at this hour. I'd get
it for you, but I haven't any good reason for asking her for it.' I
couldn't hear what Mary said, but she left her seat and I saw her stop
at Miss Merton's desk. Miss Merton nodded her head and Mary went on out
of the study hall. Mignon saw me looking after her and smiled that
hateful smile of hers. I was so cross I made a face at her. Then the
third bell rang and I had to go to class. I wasn't sure whether Mary did
as Mignon told her to do until we saw you staring into your locker and
Jerry called my attention to it."

Marjorie listened gravely to Susan's recital. She stood surveying the
three girls in silence.

"What has happened, Marjorie?" questioned Jerry impatiently. "Or isn't
it any of our business? If it isn't, then forget that I asked you."

"Girls," Marjorie's clear voice trembled a little, "I think I'd better
tell you about it. At first I thought I couldn't bear to tell anyone,
but as long as you all know something of what happened to Connie and I
last year, you might as well know this, too. Miss Archer made a remark
to me about our misunderstanding yesterday when Mary was with me. Mary
asked me afterward what she meant. I wanted to tell her, but I didn't
feel as though I had the right to, until I asked Connie if I could. I
was going to ask her last night, but before I had a chance she asked me
not to tell Mary about it. She was afraid Mary might not understand
and--and blame her. Of course, I knew that Mary wouldn't mind in the
least, but Connie seemed so worried that I promised I wouldn't."

Jerry Macy's frown deepened. Susan Atwell made a faint gesture of
consternation, while Irma Linton looked distressed and sympathetic.

"I thought perhaps Mary would forget about Constance," went on Marjorie.
"I never dreamed that Mignon was coming back, let alone she and Mary
becoming friendly. I saw them go down the aisle to geometry class
together and followed them. You see, Mary and I had planned to recite in
the same section. I asked her to wait and recite later, but she
wouldn't. Then I changed my hour so as to be in her class. After class I
caught up with her. She began to tell me something about what Mignon had
said of Connie. It made me so cross that I interrupted her, almost
before she had started. I told her she must have nothing to say to
Mignon and--she--I guess I hurt her feelings, for she walked off
and--left--me." Marjorie ended with a half sob. She turned her face to
the locker and leaned against it. The tears that she had bravely forced
back now came thick and fast.

"What a shame!" burst forth Jerry. "Don't cry, dear. We'll straighten
things out for you. I'll go to Mary my own self and give her Mignon's
history in a few well chosen words." She patted the shoulder of the
weeping girl.

"You might know that Mignon would bring trouble, hateful girl," was
Susan's indignant cry. "Never mind, we'll fix her."

"I'll do all I can to help you, Marjorie," soothed Irma, who was known
throughout the school as a peace-maker.

With a long, quivering sigh Marjorie turned slowly and faced her

"You are very sweet to me, every one of you," she said gratefully, "but,
girls, you mustn't say a word. I promised Connie, and I'll keep my word
until she releases me from that promise. I'm going over to see her
to-night to ask her to do that very thing. She'll say 'yes,' I know.
Then I can tell Mary and it will be all right. I'm sorry I made such a
baby of myself, but Mary and I have been chums for years--and----" Her
voice broke again.

Jerry wound her plump arms about the girl she adored. "You poor kid,"
she comforted slangily. "If you must cry, cry on my shoulder. It's nice
and fat and not half so hard as that old locker."

"You are a ridiculous Jerry," Marjorie laughed through her tears.
"There, I feel better now. I'm not going to cry another tear. Are my
eyes very red? I don't care to have the public gape at my grief. Come
on, children. It must be long after twelve. I suppose Mary is home by
this time. Naturally she wouldn't wait for me," she added wistfully.

As a matter of fact, Mary had waited. Once she had removed her wraps to
Mignon's locker she had been seized with a sharp attack of conscience.
She felt a trifle ashamed of herself and decided that she would ask her
chum to forgive her and allow her to put her wraps in Marjorie's locker
again. At the close of the session she made a hasty excuse to Mignon,
seized her belongings and hurrying out of the building, took up her
stand across the street. When at twenty minutes past twelve Marjorie did
not appear, her good resolutions took wing, and sulkily setting her face
toward home, Mary left the school and the chance for reconciliation
behind, and angrily went her way alone, thus widening the gap that
already yawned between herself and Marjorie.

It was twenty minutes to one when the latter ran up the steps of her
home in an almost cheerful frame of mind. The hall door yielded to her
touch and she rushed into the hall, her clear call of "Mary!" re-echoing
through the quiet house.

"I'll be down in a minute," answered a cold voice from the head of the

"I'll be up in a second," laughed Marjorie, making a dive for the
stairs. The next instant she had caught the immovable little figure at
the landing in an impulsive embrace. "Poor old Lieutenant, I'm so
sorry," was her contrite cry. "I didn't mean to hurt your feelings.
Listen, dear. I'm going over to see Connie this afternoon after school
and ask her to let me tell you everything you wished to know about last
year. Then you will understand why----"

Mary freed herself from the clinging arms with a jerk. "If you say a
word to Constance Stevens, I'll never forgive you!" she cried
passionately. "I won't be made ridiculous. Do you understand me? You
could tell me without asking her, if you cared to. I'd never say a word
and she'd never know the difference."

"But, Mary, I promised her----" Marjorie stopped in confusion. She had
not meant to mention her promise to Constance. She had spoken before she

"So _that's_ the reason, is it?" choked Mary, her cheeks flaming with
the humiliating knowledge. "Thank you, I don't care to hear your old
secrets. You may keep them, for all I care!" She whirled and started
toward her room.

Marjorie caught her arm. "I haven't any secrets that I wish to keep from
you, Mary," she said with quiet dignity. "Last night at the dance
Constance asked me to promise I wouldn't say anything to you about the
trouble she had with Mignon La Salle during our freshman year. We were
upstairs in her room. I was mending my flounce. It got torn when we were
dancing. I had intended asking her permission then to tell you, and when
she spoke of it first I hardly knew what to do. I didn't like to let her
think that you were curious and----"

"How dare you call me curious!" Mary stamped her foot in a sudden fury
of temper. "I'm not. I wouldn't listen to your miserable secret if you
begged me to. Now I truly believe what Miss La Salle told me. You and
your friend Constance ought to be ashamed of the way you treated that
poor girl last year. I'm sorry I ever came to your house to live. I'd
write to Father to come and take me away, but Mother would have to know.
She sha'n't be worried, no matter what I have to stand. You needn't be
afraid, I'll not make a fuss, either, so that General and Captain will
know. I'll try to pretend before them that we're just the same chums as
ever, and you'd better pretend it, too. But we won't be. From to-day on
I'll go _my_ way and choose _my_ friends and you can do the same."

"Mary Raymond, listen to me." Marjorie's hands found the shoulders of
her angry chum. The brown eyes held the blue ones in a long, steadfast
gaze. "Mignon La Salle is only trying to make trouble. If you knew her
as well as I know her, you wouldn't pay any attention to her. We've
been best friends and comrades since we were little tots, Mary, and I
think you ought to trust me. No one can ever be so dear to me as you

"Except Constance Stevens," put in Mary sarcastically, twisting from
Marjorie's hold. "Why, that very first day when you came to the train to
meet me I could see you liked her best. You can imagine how I felt when
even your friends spoke of it. If you really cared about me, you would
have written to me of every single thing that happened last year. You
promised you would. You are very anxious to keep a promise to Constance,
but you didn't care whether you kept one to me. As for what you say of
Miss La Salle, I don't believe you. I'd far rather trust her than your
dear Miss Stevens!"

"What has happened to my brigade?" called Mrs. Dean from the foot of the
stairs. "It is five minutes to one, girls. Come to luncheon at once."

"We are coming, Captain," answered Marjorie in as steady a tone as she
could command. Then she said sorrowfully to her companion, "Mary, I feel
just the same toward you as always, only I am terribly hurt. I wish your
way to be my way and your friends mine. If you are sure that you would
like Mignon for a friend, then I am going to try to like her for your
sake. But we mustn't quarrel or--not--not speak--or--let General and
Captain know--that----" Marjorie's words died in a half-sob.

"It doesn't make any difference to me whether you like Miss La Salle or
not," retorted Mary, ignoring Marjorie's distress, "but if you say a
single word to either General or Captain about us, I'll never speak to
you again." With this threat the incensed lieutenant ran heartlessly
down the stairs, leaving her sadly wounded comrade to follow when she

Luncheon was a dismal failure as far as Marjorie was concerned. She
tried to talk and laugh in her usual cheery manner, but she was unused
to dissembling, and it hurt her to play a part before her Captain, of
all persons. Mary, however, found a certain wicked satisfaction in the
situation she had brought about. Now that she had spoken her mind she
would go on in the way she had chosen. Marjorie would be very sorry.
There would come a time when she would be only too glad to plead for the
friendship she had cast aside. But it would be too late.

The moment the two girls left the house for the afternoon session of
school, a blank silence fell upon them. It was broken only by a cool
"Good-bye" from Mary as they separated in the locker room. But during
that silent walk Marjorie had been thinking busily. Hers was a nature
that no amount of disagreeable shocks could dismay for long. No sooner
did a pet ideal totter than she steadied it with patient, tender hands.
True always to the highest, she was laying a foundation that would
weather the stress of years. Now she dwelt not so much upon her own
hurts, but rather on how she should bind up the wounds of her comrades.
What had been obscure was now plain. Mary was jealous of her friendship
with Constance. She had completely misunderstood. If only she, Marjorie,
had known in the beginning! And then there was Mignon. If she had stayed
away from Sanford, all might have been well in time. Mary was determined
to be friends with her. Marjorie knew her friend too well not to believe
that Mary would now cultivate the French girl from sheer obstinacy.
There was just one thing to do. She had said to Mary that she would try
to like Mignon for her sake. She stood ready to keep her promise.
Perhaps, far under her mischief-making exterior, Mignon's better self
lay dormant, waiting for some chance, kindly word or act to awaken it
into life. What was it her General had said about the worst person
having some good in his nature that sooner or later was sure to manifest
itself? How glorious it would be to help Mignon find that better self!
But she could not accomplish much alone. She needed the support of the
girls of her own particular little circle. She was fairly sure they
would help her. But how had they better begin? Suddenly Marjorie's sober
face broke into a radiant smile. She gave a chuckle born of sheer
good-will. "I know the very way," she murmured, half aloud. "If only the
girls will see it, too. But they _must_! It's a splendid plan, and if it
doesn't work it won't be from lack of trying on my part."



    "DEAR IRMA," wrote Marjorie, the moment she reached her desk,
    "will you meet me across the street from school this afternoon?
    I have something very important to say to you.


She wrote similar notes to Muriel Harding, Susan Atwell and Jerry Macy,
managing in spite of the watchful eyes of Miss Merton to convey them,
through the medium of willing hands, to her schoolmates. This done, she
made a valiant effort to dismiss her personal affairs from her thoughts
and settled down to her lessons. The first period in the afternoon was
now her study hour, due to the change she had made in her geometry

Marjorie managed to study diligently for at least twenty minutes, on the
definitions in geometry given out by Miss Nelson as an advance lesson.
Then her attention flagged. She found herself wondering what she had
better do in regard to asking Constance to release her from her promise.
She was sure Connie would do it. Then, if Mary could be coaxed to listen
to her, she would---- Marjorie took a deep breath of sheer dismay. Of
what use would it be to plan to help Mignon find her better self, then
deliberately turn the one girl who liked her against her by relating
her past misdeeds? Here indeed was a problem. She knitted her brows in
troubled thought over this new knot in the tangle. One thing she was
resolved upon, however. She would open her heart to Connie. Perhaps she
might be able to suggest a satisfactory adjustment.

The afternoon dragged interminably to the perplexed sophomore and she
hailed the ringing of the closing bell with thankfulness. She had caught
distant glimpses of Mary during the session and in each instance had
seen her in conversation with the French girl. Mignon was losing no
time. That was certain.

As Marjorie rose from her seat to leave the study hall she had half a
mind to wait just outside the door for Mary. Then a flash of wounded
pride held her back. Mary would undoubtedly pass out with Mignon. If she
spoke to her chum, she was almost sure to be rebuffed. She could imagine
just how delighted Mignon would look at her discomfiture. Unconsciously
lifting her head, Marjorie left the study hall without so much as a
backward glance.

Outside the door she encountered Jerry Macy.

"Your note said, 'Wait across the street,' but this is a lot better,"
greeted Jerry. "Let's hurry and get our wraps. Irma and Susie will
probably steer straight for your locker. I haven't seen Muriel to speak
to this afternoon, but she'll be on the scene, I guess. The sooner we
collect the sooner we'll hear what's on your mind. I can just about tell
you what you're going to say, though."

"Then you're a mind-reader," laughed Marjorie. Nevertheless, a quick
flash rose to her face at Jerry's significant speech.

"I can add two and two, anyhow," asserted Jerry.

True to Jerry's prediction, three curious young women stood grouped in
front of Marjorie's locker, impatiently awaiting her arrival.

"Wait until we are outside, girls. I'll be ready in a jiffy." Marjorie
slipped into her raincoat and pulled her blue velour hat over her curls.
"We can't talk here. Miss Merton is likely to wander down, and then you
know what will happen."

"Oh, bother Miss Merton!" grumbled Jerry. "I can stand anything she says
and live. Still, I don't blame you, Marjorie. It tickles her to pieces
to get a chance to snap at you. Now if Mignon La Salle wanted to sing a
solo in front of her locker at the top of her voice, Miss Merton would
encore it."

Susan Atwell giggled. "I can just hear Mignon lifting up her voice in
song with Miss Merton as an appreciative audience."

The quartette thoughtlessly echoed her merriment. So intent were they
upon their own affairs that they did not notice the two girls who were
almost hidden behind an open locker at the end of the room. The black
eyes of one of them gleamed with rage. She turned to the fair-haired
girl at her side with a gesture which said more plainly than words, "You
see for yourself." The other nodded. Mignon laid a finger on her lips.
Then noiselessly as two shadows they flitted through the open door
without having been observed by the group at the other end.

For the moment Marjorie's back had been turned toward that end of the
room. She whirled about just too late to see Mignon and Mary as they
hurried away. Unusually sensitive to impressions, she had perhaps felt
their presence, for she asked abruptly, "Girls, have you seen Mary? She
can't have gone, for I'm sure I left the study hall before she did. I
ought to wait for her, but I don't know what to do." She glanced
irresolutely about her. Then, her pride again coming to her rescue, she
said, "Never mind. Suppose we go on. Perhaps I'd better not try to see
her now, because I must tell you my plan and I--well--I can't--if she is
with us."

Muriel Harding elevated her eyebrows in surprise. Of the four girls who
had received Marjorie's notes, she alone had no suspicion of the purpose
which had brought them together.

Five pairs of bright eyes scanned the street across from the school
building as the little party came down the wide stone steps.

"The coast is clear," commented Jerry. "Now do tell us what's the
matter, Marjorie. No, wait a minute." Jerry fumbled energetically in a
small leather bag. "Hooray! Here's a real life fifty-cent piece! I can
see it vanishing in the shape of five sundaes, at ten cents per eat. We
can't go to Sargent's. They cost fifteen----"

"I've a quarter," insinuated Irma.

"All contributions thankfully received," beamed Jerry. "On to Sargent's!
We'll talk about the weather until we get there. It's been such a
lovely day," she grimaced. "If it rains much more we'll have to do as
they do in Spain."

"What do they do in Spain?" Susan Atwell rose to the bait, despite a
warning poke from Irma.

"They let it rain," grinned Jerry. "Aren't you an innocent child?"

Well pleased with her success in putting over this time-worn joke on one
more victim, Jerry continued with a lively stream of nonsense that
lasted during the brief walk to Sargent's.

Once seated about a small round table at the back of the room, which
from long patronage they had come to look upon almost as their own, an
expectant murmur went the round of the little circle as Marjorie leaned
forward a trifle and began in a low, earnest tone. "Girls, I am going to
ask you to do something for me that perhaps you won't wish to do. All of
you know what happened last year to Connie and me. You know, too, that
if anyone has good reason to cut Mignon La Salle's acquaintance, we
would be justified in doing it. I was awfully surprised to see her come
into the study hall this morning, and I said to myself that aside from
bowing to her if I met her on the street, I would steer clear of her.
But since then something has happened to make me change my mind. Mary
wishes Mignon for a friend, and so----"

"What a little goose!" interrupted Jerry disgustedly. "I beg your
pardon, Marjorie, but I can't help saying it."

"This _is_ news!" exclaimed Muriel Harding. "Come to think of it, I
_did_ see your friend Mary walking into geometry with Mignon, Marjorie.
Why don't you enlighten her on the subject of Mignon and her doings?"

"That's just it." Marjorie repeated briefly what she had said to the
others at noon. "I'm going to Gray Gables to see Constance before I go
home," she continued, addressing the group. "You see, it's like this.
Even if Connie says I may tell Mary everything, will it be quite fair to
Mignon? And now I'm coming to the reason I asked you to come here with
me. Sometimes when a girl has done wrong and been hateful and no one
likes her, another girl comes along and begins to be friendly with her.
That makes the girl who has done wrong feel ashamed of herself and then
perhaps she resolves to be more agreeable because of it."

"Not Mignon, if you mean her," muttered Jerry.

"I do mean Mignon," was Marjorie's grave response. "Every girl has a
better self, I'm sure, but if she doesn't know it she will never find it
unless someone helps her. We've never even stopped to consider whether
Mignon had any good qualities. We've judged her for the dishonorable
things she has done. I can't help saying that I don't like her very
well. You can't blame me, either. Still, if we are going to be sophomore
sisters we must all stand together." She glanced appealingly about her
circle, but on each young face she read plain disapproval.

"You might as well try to carry water in a sieve as to reform Mignon,"
shrugged Muriel Harding.

"You can't tame a wildcat," commented Susan Atwell.

"Look here, Marjorie," burst forth Jerry Macy. "We know that you are the
dearest, nicest girl ever, but you are going to waste your time if you
try to go exploring for Mignon's better self. She never had one. If you
try to be nice to her she'll just take advantage of your goodness and
make fun of you behind your back. Let me tell you something. You know
Miss Elkins, who sews for people. Well, she's at our house to-day. She
is making some silk blouses for me, and when I went upstairs to the
sewing-room for a fitting to-day she asked me if Mignon was in school.
Her sister is the housekeeper at the La Salle's and she told Miss Elkins
that Mignon was expelled from boarding school because she wouldn't pay
attention to the rules. She was threatened with dismissal twice, and the
other night she coaxed a lot of the girls to slip out of the dormitory
and go to the city to the theatre without a sign of a chaperon. One of
the girls had a key to the front door and she lost it. They didn't get
home until after one o'clock, and then they couldn't get into the
dormitory. The night watchman finally had to let them in and he reported
them. She and two others were expelled because they planned the affair.
I don't know what happened to the rest of them. Anyway, that's why our
dear Mignon is with us once more. I only wish that girl hadn't lost the
key." Jerry's face registered her disgust.

"I don't believe Mother would like to have me associate with Mignon."
This from gentle Irma Linton, who was usually the soul of toleration.

"And you, too, Irma!" was Marjorie's reproachful cry. "Then there isn't
much use is asking you girls to help me."

This was too much for the impulsive Jerry.

"Don't look at us like that. As though you had lost your last friend.
Just let me tell you, you haven't. I take it all back. I'll promise to
go on a hunting expedition for Mignon's better self any old time you

"Sieves _have_ been known to hold water," acknowledged Muriel, not to be
outdone by Jerry's burst of loyalty.

"And wildcats have sometimes become household pets," added Susan with
her infectious giggle.

"So have mothers been known to change their minds," put in Irma. "I'm
ashamed of myself for being a quitter before I've even heard your plan."

Marjorie's dark eyes shone with affection. "You are splendid," she
praised with a little catch in her voice. "I can't help telling you now.
After all, it isn't a very great plan, but it's the best I could think
of just now, and this is it. Mother said I might give a party for Mary
when she first came to live with us, but I wished to wait until she got
acquainted with the girls in school. Then Connie gave her dance. So I
thought it would be nice to have mine in about two weeks, after we were
settled in our classes and didn't have so much to worry us. But now I've
changed my mind. I'm going to give my party next week and I shall invite
Mignon to it You girls can help me by being nice to her and making her
have a pleasant evening. If we are really determined to carry out our
plan we will have to invite her to our parties and luncheons, too, and
ask her to share our good times. The only way we can help her is to make
her one of us. If we draw away from her she will never be different. She
will just become more disagreeable and some day we might be very sorry
we didn't do our best for her."

The eloquence of Marjorie's plea had its effect on her listeners.

"I guess you are on the right track," conceded Jerry Macy warmly. "I am
willing to try to be a busy little helper. We might call ourselves the
S. F. R. M.--Society For Reforming Mignon, you know."

This proposal evoked a ripple of laughter.

"Irma, do you suppose your mother wouldn't like you to--to--be friendly
with Mignon?" asked Marjorie anxiously. "We mustn't pledge ourselves to
anything to which our mothers might say 'no.'"

"I think I can fix that part of it," said Irma slowly. "If I explain
things to Mother, she'll understand."

"Perhaps we all ought to talk it over with our mothers," suggested

"I guess we'd better," nodded Jerry. "But what about Connie? Suppose she
shouldn't be in favor of the S. F. R. M.? You couldn't blame her much if
she wasn't."

"I'm going to see her to-night, after dinner. I intended to go to Gray
Gables after school, but you see me here instead," returned Marjorie.
"I am almost sure she'll say 'yes.'"

"How are we going to begin our reform movement?" asked Muriel Harding.

"That's what I'd like to know. Who is willing to be the first martyr to
the cause? Let me tell you right now, I'd just as soon make friends with
a snapping turtle. Only the snapper would probably be more polite."

"You are a wicked Jerry," reproved Marjorie smilingly, "and you know you
don't mean half you say."

"Maybe I do, and maybe I don't. Anyhow, on in the cause of Mignon! I
feel like one of the knights of old who buckled on his armor and went
forth to the fray with his lady's colors tied to his sleeve, or his
lance, or some of his belongings. I've forgotten just what the style
was. We are gallant knights, going forth to battle, wearing Marjorie's
colors, and Mignon will have to look out or she'll be reformed before
she has time to turn up her nose and shrug her shoulders."

"Suppose we start by being as nice to her as we can in school
to-morrow," proposed Irma Linton thoughtfully. "If she meets us in the
same spirit, maybe something will happen that will show us what to do

"That wouldn't be a bad idea," declared Susan Atwell. "I sit near her,
so I'll be the first one to hold out the olive branch. But if you hear
something drop on the floor with a dull, sickening thud, you'll know
that my particular variety of olive branch was rejected."

"Somehow, I have an idea she won't be so very scornful," said Marjorie

"Being expelled from boarding school may have a soothing effect on her,"
agreed Jerry grimly. "I suppose it really isn't very knightly to say
snippy things about a person one intends to reform."

"I think you are right, Jerry," broke in Marjorie with sweet
earnestness. "We must try to think and say only kind things of Mignon if
we are to succeed." Taking in the circle of girls with a quick, bright
glance, she asked: "Then you are agreed to my plan? It is really a

Four emphatic nods answered her questions.

"Hurrah for the S. F. R. M.!" exclaimed Jerry. "Long may it wave! Only
there's one glorious truth that I feel it my duty to impress on your
minds. The way of the reformer is hard."



"Here are two letters for you, Lieutenant," called her mother, as
Marjorie burst into the living-room, her cheeks pink from a brisk run up
the drive. After leaving her schoolmates Marjorie had set off for home
as fast as her light feet would carry her. She managed to keep to a
decorous walk until she had swung the gate behind her, then she had
sped up the drive like a fawn.

"Oh, lovely!" cried Marjorie. "Your permission, Captain." She touched
her hand to her hat brim in a gay little salute. Her spirits had been
rising from the moment she had left the girls, carrying with her the
precious security that they were now banded together in a worthy cause.
Surely the snarl would straighten itself in a short time. Mary would
soon see that she intended to keep her word about being friends with
Mignon. Then she would understand that she, Marjorie, was loyal in spite
of her unjust accusations. Then all would be as it had been before.
Perhaps Mary wouldn't be quite her old, sunny self for a few days, but
the shadow would pass--it must.

"Why, it's from Connie!" she cried out in surprise, as her eyes sought
the writing on the upper-most envelope. It was in Constance's irregular,
girlish hand. She hastily tore it open and read.


    "Last night at my dance I didn't know that father was to be
    concertmeister in the symphony orchestra. It is a great honor
    and we are all very happy over it. He kept it to himself until
    the last minute, because he knew that if he told me, I would
    insist on going back to New York with him for his opening
    concert. But I'm going with him just the same. I shall be away
    from Sanford for a week or so, for I want to be with him until
    he goes to Boston. I'll study hard and catch up in school when
    I come back. I wish you were going, too, but later in the season
    he will be in New York City again. Then Auntie says she will
    take you and Mary and me there to hear him play. Won't that be
    glorious? I'll write you again as soon as I reach New York and
    you must answer with a long letter, telling me about school and
    everything. I am so sorry I can't see you to say good-bye, but I
    won't have time. Don't forget to answer as soon as I write you.


Marjorie's cheerful face grew blank. Certainly she was glad that Connie
would experience the happiness of hearing her father play before a vast
assemblage who would gather to do him honor. Nevertheless she was just a
trifle cast down over the unexpected flight of her friend to New York.
With a start of dismay she remembered that she had intended going to see
Constance with the object of clearing away the clouds of
misunderstanding. Now she would have to wait until Connie returned. And
then, there was Mignon. She felt that it would be hardly fair to begin
her crusade without consulting the girl whom Mignon had wronged most
deeply. She had perfect faith in the quality of her friend's charity.
Constance was too generous of spirit to hold a grudge. Through suffering
she had grown great of soul. Still, it was right that she should be
asked to decide the question. If she refused outright to sanction the
proposed campaign for reform, or even demurred at the proposal, Marjorie
was resolved not to carry it forward, even for Mary's or Mignon's sake.

Suddenly she recollected her adjuration to the girls to gain their
mothers' consent before going on with their plan. Her brows drew
together in a perplexed frown. Had not Mary threatened, in the heat of
her anger, that if Marjorie told her mother of their disagreement she
would never speak to her again? How could she inform Captain of the
compact she and her friends had made without involving Mary in it? Her
mother would naturally inquire the reason for this rather remarkable
movement. She might be displeased, as well as surprised, over Mary's
strange predilection for the French girl. Her Captain knew all that had
happened during her freshman year. On that memorable day when she had
leaped into the river to rescue Marcia Arnold, and afterward come home,
a curious little figure clad in Jerry Macy's ample garments, the recital
of those stormy days when she had doubted, yet clung to Constance, had
taken place. She recalled that long, confidential talk at her mother's
knee, and the peace it had brought her.

All at once her face cleared. She would tell her mother about the
compact, but she would leave out the disagreeable scenes that had
occurred between herself and Mary. "I'll tell her now and have it over
with," she decided.

"What makes you look so solemn, dear?" Her mother had glanced up from
her embroidery, and was affectionately scanning her daughter's grave
face. "Does your letter from Connie contain bad news? I hope nothing
unpleasant has happened to the child."

"Oh, no, Captain. Quite the contrary. It's something nice," returned
Marjorie quickly. "Let me read you her letter." She turned to the first
page and read aloud rapidly Constance's little note. "I'm so glad for
her sake," she sighed, as she finished, "but I shall miss her

"I suppose you will. Good fortune seems to have followed the Stevens
family since the day when my lieutenant went out of her way to help a
little girl in distress."

"Perhaps I'm a mascot, Captain. If I am, then you ought to take good
care of me, feed me on a special diet of plum pudding and chocolate
cake, keep me on your best embroidered cushion and cherish me
generally," laughed Marjorie, with a view toward turning the subject
from her own generous acts, the mention of which invariably embarrassed

"And give you indigestion and see you ossify for want of exercise under
my indulgent eye," retorted her mother.

"I guess you had better go on cherishing me in the good old way,"
decided Marjorie. "But you won't mind my sitting on one of your everyday
cushions, just as close to you as I can get, will you?" Reaching for one
of the fat green velvet cushions which stood up sturdily at each end of
the davenport, Marjorie dropped it beside her mother's chair and curled
up on it.

"I've something to report, Captain," she said, her bantering tone
changing to seriousness. "You remember last year--and Mignon La Salle?"

Mrs. Dean frowned slightly at the mention of the French girl's name.
Mother-like, she had never quite forgiven Mignon for the needless sorrow
she had wrought in the lives of those she held so dear.

Marjorie caught the significance of that frown. "I know how you feel
about things, dearest," she nodded. "Perhaps you won't give your consent
to the plan I--that is, we--have made. But I have to tell you, anyway,
so here goes. Mignon La Salle went away to boarding school, but
she--well she was sent home, and now she's back in Sanford High again.
This afternoon Jerry, Irma, Susan, Muriel Harding and I went together to
Sargent's for ice cream. While we were there we decided that we ought to
forgive the past and try to help Mignon find her better self. The only
way we can help her is to treat her well and invite her to our parties
and luncheons. If she finds we are ready to begin all over again with
her, perhaps she'll be different. We made a solemn compact to do it,
provided our mothers were willing we should. So to be very slangy, 'It's
up to you, Captain!'"

"But suppose this girl merely takes advantage of your kindness and
involves you all in another tangle?" remarked Mrs. Dean quietly. "It
seems to me that she proved herself wholly untrustworthy last year."

"I know it." Marjorie sighed. She would have liked to say that Mignon
had already tied an ugly snarl in her affairs. But loyalty to Mary
forbade the utterance. Then, brightening, she went on hopefully: "If we
never try to help her, we'll never know whether she really has a better
self. Sometimes it takes just a little thing to change a person's

"You are a dear child," Mrs. Dean bent to press a kiss on Marjorie's
curly head, "and your argument is too generous to be downed. I give my
official consent to the proposed reform, and I hope, for all concerned,
that it will turn out beautifully."

"Oh, Captain," Marjorie nestled closer, "you're too dear for words.
There's another reason for my wishing to be friendly with Mignon. Mary
has met her and likes her."

"Mary!" Mrs. Dean looked her astonishment. "By the way, Marjorie, where
is Mary? I had quite forgotten her for the time being. You didn't
mention her as being with you at Sargent's."

"She wasn't there," explained Marjorie. "She didn't wait for me after
school. She must have gone on with--with someone and stopped to talk.
I--I think she'll be here soon." A hurt look, of which she was entirely
unconscious, had driven the brightness from the face Marjorie turned to
her mother.

Mrs. Dean was a wise woman. She discerned that there had been a hitch in
the programme of her daughter's daily affairs, but she asked no
questions. She never intruded upon Marjorie's little reserves. She knew
now that whatever her daughter had kept back had been done in accordance
with a code of living, the uprightness of which was seldom equalled in
a girl of her years. She, therefore, respected the reservation and made
no attempt to discover its nature.

"What are you going to do first in the way of reform, Lieutenant?" she
inquired brightly.

"Well, I thought I would invite Mignon to my party, the one you said I
could give for Mary. I'd like to have it next Friday night. Friday's the
best time. We can all sleep a little later the next morning, you know."

"Very well, you may," assented Mrs. Dean. "Does Mary know of the
contemplated reform?"

"No. You see I hated to say much to her about Mignon, because it
wouldn't be very nice to discredit someone you were trying to help.
Don't you agree with me?"

"I suppose I must. But what of Constance?"

"That's the part that bothers me," was Marjorie's troubled reply. "I'm
going to write her all about it. I know she'll be with us. She's too
splendid to hold spite. I think it would be all right to invite Mignon
to my party, at any rate. But there's just one thing about it, Captain,
if Connie objects, then the reform will have to go on without me. You
understand the way I feel, don't you?"

"Yes. I believe you owe it to Constance to respect her wishes. She was
the chief sufferer at Mignon's hands."

The confidential talk came to a sudden end with the ringing of the

"It's Mary." Marjorie sprang to her feet. "I'll let her in."

Hurrying to the door, Marjorie opened it to admit Mary Raymond. She
entered with an air of sulkiness that brought dread to Marjorie's heart.

"Oh, Mary, where were you?" she asked, trying to appear ignorant of her
chum's forbidding aspect.

"I was with Mignon La Salle," returned Mary briefly. "Will you come
upstairs with me, please?"

"I'd love to, Lieutenant Raymond. Thank you for your kind invitation."
Marjorie assumed a gaiety she did not feel.

Without further remark Mary stolidly mounted the stairs. Marjorie
followed her in a distinctly worried state of mind. The quarrel was
going to begin over again. She was sure of that.

Mary stalked past the half-open door of Marjorie's room and paused
before her own. "I'd rather talk to you in _my_ room, if you please,"
she said distantly.

"All right," agreed Marjorie, with ready cheerfulness. She intended to
go on ignoring her chum's hostile attitude until she was forced to do

Mary closed the door behind them and faced Marjorie with compressed
lips. The latter met her offended gaze with steady eyes.

"I heard you and your friends making fun of Miss La Salle this
afternoon, and I am going to say right here that I think you were all
extremely unkind. She heard you, too. You ought to be ashamed of
yourself, Marjorie Dean!"

"Why, I don't remember making fun of Mignon!" exclaimed Marjorie. "What
do you mean?"

"Then your memory is very short," sneered Mary. "But I might have
expected you to deny it."

It was Marjorie's turn to grow indignant. "How can you accuse me of not
telling the truth?" she flashed. "I did not----" She stopped, flushing
deeply. She recalled Jerry Macy's humorous remark about Mignon as they
stood talking in front of her locker. "I beg your pardon, Mary," she
apologized. "I _do_ remember now that Mignon's name was mentioned while
we were standing there. But it was nothing very dreadful. We were saying
that if Miss Merton heard us talking she would scold us, and Jerry only
said that if Mignon chose to sing a solo at the top of her voice, in
front of _her_ locker, Miss Merton wouldn't mind in the least. Everyone
knows that Mignon has always been a favorite of Miss Merton. I am sorry
if she overheard it, for truly we hadn't the least idea of making fun of
her. It was Jerry's funny way of saying it that made us laugh. I'll
explain that to her the first time I see her."

Mary's tense features relaxed a trifle. She was not yet so firmly in the
toils of the French girl as to be entirely blind to Marjorie's
sincerity. Her good sense told her that she was making a mountain of a
mole hill. There was a ring of truth in Marjorie's voice that brought a
flush of shame to her cheeks. Still she would not allow it to sway her.

"It wasn't nice in you to laugh," she muttered. "She was dreadfully
hurt. She feels very sensitive about being sent home from school. Of
course, she knows she deserved it. She said so. But----"

"Did she really say that?" interrupted Marjorie eagerly.

"I am not in the habit of saying what isn't true," retorted Mary coldly.

"Listen, Mary." Marjorie's face was aglow with honest purpose. "I said
to you, you know, that if you wished Mignon for a friend I would be nice
to her, too. Captain has promised to let me give my party for you on
next Friday night. I am going to invite Mignon to it, and we are all
going to try to make her feel friendly toward us."

"She won't come," predicted Mary contemptuously. "I wouldn't, either, if
I were in her place. I shall tell her not to come, too."

"Then you will be proving yourself anything but a friend to her," flung
back Marjorie hotly, "because you will be advising her against doing
something that is for her good." With this clinching argument Marjorie
walked to the door and opened it.

"Whether I say a word or not, she won't come," called Mary after her.
But Marjorie was halfway down the stairs, too greatly exasperated to
trust herself to further speech.



Nevertheless the session behind closed doors had one beneficial effect.
It broke the ice that had lately formed over the long comradeship of the
two girls, and, although nothing was as of old, they were both secretly
relieved to still be on terms of conversation. Out of pure regard for
Mary, Marjorie treated her exactly as she had always done, and Mary
pretended to respond, simply because she had determined that Mr. and
Mrs. Dean should not become aware of any difference in their relations.
She affected an interest in planning for the party and kept up a pretty
show of concern which Marjorie alone knew to be false. Privately Mary's
deceitful attitude was a sore trial to her. Honest to the core, she felt
that she would rather her chum had maintained open hostility than a
farce of good will which was dropped the moment they chanced to be
alone. Still she resolved to bear it and look forward to a happier day
when Mary would relent.

The invitations to the party had been mailed and duly accepted. Much to
Mary's secret surprise and chagrin, Mignon had not declined to shed the
light of her countenance upon the proposed festivity, but had written a
formal note of acceptance which amused Marjorie considerably, inasmuch
as the acceptances of the others had been verbal. Despite her hatred
for Marjorie Dean and her friends, Mignon had resolved to profit by the
sudden show of friendliness which, true to their compact, the five girls
had lost no time in carrying out. Ignoble of soul, she did not value the
favor of these girls as a concession which she had been fortunate enough
to receive. She decided to use it only as a wedge to reinstate herself
in a certain leadership which her bad behavior of last year had lost
her. She had no idea of the real reason for their interest in her. She
preferred to think that they had come to a realization of her vast
importance in the social life of Sanford. Was not her father the richest
man in the town? She had an idea that perhaps Mary Raymond might be
responsible for her sudden accession to favor. She had taken care to
impress her own importance upon Mary's mind, together with certain vague
insinuations as to her wrongs. After her first brief outburst against
Marjorie and Constance Stevens, she had decided that she would gain
infinitely more by playing the part of wronged innocence. When she
received her invitation she had already heard that Constance was in New
York and likely to remain there for a time. This influenced her to
accept Marjorie's hospitality. Her own consciousness of guilt would not
permit her to go to any place where she would meet the accusing scorn of
Constance's blue eyes. Then, too, she had still another motive in
attending the party. She had always looked upon Lawrence Armitage with
eyes of favor. He had never paid her a great deal of attention, but he
had shown her less since the advent of Constance Stevens in Sanford.
She resolved to show him that she was far more clever and likable than
the quiet girl who had taken such a strong hold on his boyish interest,
and with that end in view Mignon planned to make her reinstatement a
sweeping success.

Friday afternoon was a lost session, so far as study went, to the
Sanford girls who were to make up the feminine portion of Marjorie's

"Good gracious, I thought half-past three would never come!" grumbled
Jerry Macy in Marjorie's ear as they filed decorously through the
corridor. "Let's make a quick dash for the locker-room. I've a pressing
engagement with the hair-dresser and I'm dying to get through with it
and sweep down to dinner in my new silver net party dress. It's a dream
and makes me look positively thin. You won't know me when you see me."

"You're not the only one," put in Muriel Harding. "You won't be one,
two, three when I appear to-night in all my glory."

"Listen to the conceited things," laughed Irma Linton. "'I won't speak
of myself,' as H. C. Anderson beautifully puts it."

"Who's he?" demanded Jerry. "I know every boy in Sanford High, but I
never heard of him."

A shout of laughter greeted her earnest assertion.

"Wake up, Jerry," dimpled Susan Atwell. "H. C. stands for Hans
Christian. Now does the light begin to break?"

"Oh, you make me tired," retorted Jerry. "Irma did that on purpose.
That's worse than my favorite trap about letting it rain in Spain. How
was I to know what she meant?"

"That's all because you don't cultivate literary tastes," teased Muriel.

"I do cultivate them," grinned Jerry. "I've read the dictionary through
twice, without skipping a page!"

"It must have been a pocket edition," murmured Marjorie.

"Stop teasing me or I'll get cross and not come to your party,"
threatened Jerry.

"You mean nothing could keep you away," laughed Irma.

"You're right. Nothing could. I'll be there, clad in costly raiment, to
spur the reform party on to deeds of might."

"Do come early, all of you," urged Marjorie as she paused at her corner
to say good-bye.

"We'll be there," chorused the quartette after her.

"I hope everyone will have a nice time," was Marjorie's fervent
reflection as she hurried on her way. "I do wish Mary would walk home
with me once in a while, instead of always waiting for Mignon. I
wouldn't ask her to for worlds, though."

To see Mary walk away with Mignon at the end of every session of school
had been a heavy cross for Marjorie to bear. Surrounded as she always
was with the four faithful members of her own little set, she was often
lonely. If only Constance had been in school she could have better borne
Mary's disloyalty, although the latter could never quite fill the niche
which years of companionship had carved in her heart for Mary. But
Connie was far away, so she must go on enduring this bitter sorrow and
make no outward sign.

Usually ready to bubble over with exhilaration when on the eve of
participating in so delightful an occasion as a party, it was a very
quiet Marjorie who tripped into the living-room that afternoon. The big,
cosy apartment had undergone a marked change. It was practically bare,
save for the piano in one corner, which had been moved from the
drawing-room, and a phonograph which was to do occasional duty, so that
the patient musicians might now and then rest from their labor.

Mrs. Dean was giving a last direction to the men who had been hired to
move the furniture about as Marjorie entered.

"Everything is ready, Lieutenant," smiled her mother. "We have all done
a strenuous day's work in a good cause."

"Thank you over and over again, Captain. It's dear in you to take so
much trouble for me. I'm afraid you've worked too hard." Her lately
pensive mood vanishing as she viewed the newly waxed floor, Marjorie
executed a gay little _pas-seul_ on its smooth surface and made a
running slide toward her mother, striking against her with considerable

"Steady, Lieutenant." Her mother passed an arm about her and gave her a
loving little squeeze. "Please have proper respect for the aged."

"There are no such persons here," retorted Marjorie, "I see a young and
beautiful lady, who----"

"Must go straight to the kitchen and see what Delia is doing in the way
of dinner," finished Mrs. Dean. "Remember, we are to have it at
half-past five to-night, so don't wander away and be late. Your frock is
laid out on your bed, dear. You had better run along and dress before
dinner. Then you will be ready. The time will fairly fly afterward.
Where is Mary? Why doesn't she come home with you in the afternoon? For
the past week she has come in long after school is out."

"Oh, she stops to talk and walk with Mignon," replied Marjorie, with an
air of elaborate carelessness. "They are very good friends."

Mrs. Dean seemed about to comment further on the subject when Delia
appeared in the doorway and distracted her attention to other matters.

Marjorie breathed a sigh of relief as she went upstairs. She was glad to
escape the further questions concerning Mary which her mother seemed
disposed to ask. Her gaiety had been evanescent and she now experienced
a feeling of positive gloom as she entered her pretty room and prepared
to bathe and dress for the evening. She could not resist a thrill of
pleasure at the sheer beauty of the white chiffon frock spread out on
her bed. She wondered if Mary would wear her pale blue silk evening
frock, or the white one with the lace over-frock. They were both
beautiful. But she had always loved Mary in white. She wondered if she
dared ask her to wear the white lace gown.

While she was dressing, through her half-opened door she heard Mary's
voice in the hall in conversation with her mother. Hastily slipping
into her pretty frock, she went to the door hooking it as she walked.
Mary was just appearing on the landing.

"Oh, Mary," she called genially, "do wear your white. You will look so
lovely in it."

"I'm going to wear my blue gown," returned Mary stolidly, and marched on
down the hall to her room, closing the door with a bang. "Just as though
I'd let her dictate to me what to wear," she muttered.

The two young girls made a pretty picture as they took their places at
the dinner table.

"I wish General were here to see you," sighed Mrs. Dean. Mr. Dean had
been called away on a business trip east.

"So do I," echoed Marjorie. "Things won't be quite perfect without him."

Neither girl ate much dinner. They were far too highly excited to do
justice to the meal. In spite of their estrangement they were both
looking forward to the dance.

At half-past seven o'clock Jerry and the rest of the reform party
arrived, buzzing like a hive of bees.

"Is she here yet?" whispered Jerry Macy in Marjorie's ear, after paying
her respects to Mrs. Dean and Mary, who, with Marjorie, received their
guests in the palm-decorated hall.

"No, she hasn't come. I suppose she will arrive late. You know she loves
to make a sensation." Marjorie could not resist this one little fling,
despite her good resolutions.

The guests continued to arrive in twos and threes and Marjorie was kept
busy greeting them. True to her prediction, it was after eight o'clock
when Mignon appeared. She wore an imported gown of peachblow satin that
must have been a considerable item of expense to her doting father. Her
elfish face glowed with suppressed excitement and her black eyes roved
about, with lightning glances, born of a curiosity to inspect every
detail of her unfamiliar surroundings.

"I am glad you came," greeted Marjorie graciously, and presented Mignon
to her mother.

The French girl acknowledged the introduction, then turning to Mary
began an eager, low-toned conversation, apparently forgetting her

Mrs. Dean betrayed no sign of what went on in her mind, but her thoughts
on the subject of Mignon were not flattering. Ill-bred, she mentally
styled her, and decided that she would look into the matter of her
growing friendship with Mary.

The dancing had already begun when, piloted by Mary, who had apparently
forgotten that she was of the receiving party, the two girls strolled
into the impromptu ballroom. Mary was immediately claimed as a partner
by Lawrence Armitage, who tried to console himself with the thought
that, at least, she looked like Constance. Mignon's face darkened as
they danced off. Lawrie had merely bowed to her. But he had asked Mary
to dance. That was because she resembled that odious Stevens girl. Her
resentment against Constance blazed forth afresh. She hoped Constance
would never return to Sanford.

Thanks to a long lecture which Jerry had read to her brother Hal, Mignon
was not neglected. Although none of the Weston High boys really liked
her, she was asked to dance almost every number. Later in the evening
Lawrence Armitage asked her for a one-step, and she vainly imagined
that, after all, she had made an impression on him. Radiant with triumph
over her social success, Mignon saw herself firmly entrenched in the
leadership she dreamed would be hers. But her triumph was to be

After supper, which was served at two long tables in the dining-room,
the guests returned to their dancing with the tireless ardor of first
youth. Chancing to be without a partner, Mignon slipped into a
palm-screened nook under the stairs for a chat with Mary, who had
followed her about all evening, more with a view of hurting Marjorie
than from an excess of devotion. From their position they could see all
that went on about them, yet be quite hidden from the unobservant. The
unobservant happened to be Marjorie and Jerry Macy, who had come from
the ballroom for a confidential talk and taken up their station directly
in front of the alcove. Save for the two girls behind the palms, the
hall was deserted.

"Well, I guess Mignon's having a good time," declared Jerry Macy in her
brisk, loud tones. "She ought to. I nearly talked myself hoarse to Hal
before he'd promise to see that the boys asked her to dance. This reform
business is no joke."

"Lower your voice, Jerry," warned Marjorie. "Someone might hear you."

Mary Raymond made a sudden movement to rise. Stubborn she might be, but
she was not so dishonorable as to listen to a conversation not intended
for her ears. Mignon pulled her back with sudden savage strength. She
laid her finger to her lips, her black eyes gleaming with anger.

"Oh, there's no one around. Say, Marjorie, do you think it's really
worth while to go out of our way to reform Mignon? Look at her to-night.
You'd think she had conquered the universe. She was all smiles when
Laurie Armitage asked her to dance. He can't bear her, he told me so
last Hallowe'en, after she made all that fuss about her old bracelet. If
we hadn't banded ourselves together to find that better self which you
are so sure she's carrying around with her, I'd say call it off and
forget it. None of us really likes her. You know that, even if you won't
say so. She is----"

The waltz time ended in a soft chord and the dancers began trooping
through the doorway to the big punch-bowl of lemonade in one corner of
the hall. They were just in time to see a lithe figure in pink spring
out, catlike, from behind the palm-screened alcove and hear a furious
voice cry out, "How dare you insult a guest by talking about her, the
moment her back is turned?"



Jerry Macy and Marjorie Dean whirled about at the sound of that wrathful
voice. Mignon La Salle confronted them, her eyes flashing, her fingers
closing and unclosing in nervous rage, looking for all the world like a
young tigress.

"Oh, for goodness' sake, some one lead her away!" muttered the Crane to
Irma Linton. "I told Hal to-day that, with Mignon aboard the good old
party ship, we'd be sure to have fireworks. Real dynamite, too, and no
mistake. I wonder what's upset her sweet, retiring disposition?" His
boyish face indicated his deep disgust.

"I heard every word you said!" screamed Mignon. Rage had stripped her of
the thin veneer of civilization. She was the same young savage who had
kicked and screamed her way to whatever she desired when years before
she had been the terror of the neighborhood. "So, that's the reason you
invited me to your old party! You got together and picked me to pieces
and decided to reform me! Just let me tell you that you had better look
to yourselves. I don't need your kind offices. You are a crowd of
hateful, deceitful, mean, horrible girls! I despise you all! Everyone of
you! Do you hear me? I despise you! And _you_, Jerry Macy, had better be
a little careful as to what you gossip about me. I can tell you----"

There came a sudden interruption to the tirade. Through the amazed
groups of young people who could not resist lingering to find out what
it was all about, Mrs. Dean resolutely made her way.

"That will do, Miss La Salle," she commanded sternly. "I cannot allow
you to make such a disgraceful scene in my home, or insult my daughter
and her guests. If you will come quietly upstairs with me and state your
grievance, I shall do all in my power to rectify it. Marjorie," she
turned to her daughter, who stood looking on in wide-eyed distress, "ask
the musicians to start the music for the next dance."

Marjorie obeyed and, somewhat ashamed of their curiosity, the dancers
forgot their thirst for lemonade and flocked into the ballroom. Only
Jerry Macy and Mary Raymond remained.

"It's all my fault, Mrs. Dean," began Jerry contritely. "I didn't know
Mignon was in the alcove. I can't help saying she had no business to
listen, but----"

"It _is_ my business," began Mignon furiously. "I have a right----"

"Don't begin this quarrel all over again." Mrs. Dean held up her hand
for silence. "I repeat," she continued, regarding Mignon with marked
displeasure, "if you will come upstairs with me----"

"Mrs. Dean, it's a shame the way Mignon has been treated to-night,"
burst forth Mary Raymond, "and I for one don't intend to stand by and
see her insulted. Miss Macy said perfectly hateful things about her. I
heard them. Marjorie is just as much to blame. She listened to them and
never said a word to stop them."

"Mary Raymond!" Mrs. Dean's voice held an ominous note that should have
warned Mary to hold her peace. Instead it angered her to open rebellion.

"Don't 'Mary Raymond' me," she mocked in angry sarcasm. "I meant what I
said, every word of it. Mignon is my dear friend and I shall stand up
for her."

"Oh, let me alone, all of you!" With an agile spring, Mignon gained the
stairway and sped up the stairs on winged feet. Two minutes later,
wrapped in her evening coat and scarf, she reappeared at the head and
ran down the steps two at a time. "Thank you so much for a delightful
evening," she bowed ironically. "I'm so sorry I haven't time to stay and
be lectured. It's too bad, isn't it, Miss Mary, that the reform couldn't
go on?" To Mary she held out her hand. "Come and spend the day with me
to-morrow, Mary. You may like it so well, you'll decide to stay. If you
do, why just come along whenever you feel disposed. I can assure you
that our house is a pleasanter place to live in than the one you are in
now." With this pointed fling she bowed again in mock courtesy to the
silent woman who had offended her and flounced out the door and into the
starlit night to where her own electric runabout was standing.

"Can you beat that?" was the tribute that fell from Jerry Macy's lips.

Mrs. Dean looked from one to the other of the three girls. "Now, girls,
I demand an explanation of all this. Who of you is at fault in the

"I told you it was I," answered Jerry. "Marjorie and I were talking
about Mignon and saying that she was having a good time. Then I had to
go on and say some more things that I don't take back, but that weren't
intended for listeners. I didn't know Mignon and Mary were hidden in
that alcove. Do you suppose I'd have spoiled our reform, after all the
trouble we've had making it go, if I'd known they were there?"

Mrs. Dean could not repress a faint smile at Jerry's rueful admissions.
She liked this stout, matter-of-fact girl in spite of her rough, brusque

"No, I don't suppose you would, but you were in the wrong, I am afraid.
You must learn to curb that sharp tongue, Jerry. It is likely, some day,
to involve you in serious trouble."

"I know it." Jerry hung her head. "But, you see, Marjorie understands
me. That's why I say to her whatever I think."

"Mary," Mrs. Dean gravely studied Mary's sulky face, "I am deeply hurt
and surprised. Later I shall have something to say to you and Marjorie.
Now go back to your friends, all of you, and try to make up to them for
this unpleasantness."

Marjorie, who all this time had said nothing, now began timidly. She had
seldom seen her beloved Captain so stern. "Captain, we are----"

"Not another word. I said, 'later.'"

Jerry and Marjorie turned to the ballroom. Mary however, with a scornful
glance at Mrs. Dean, faced about and went upstairs. She had been imbued
with a naughty resolve and she determined to proceed at once to carry it

The dancing went on for a little, but the disagreeable happening had
dampened the ardor of the guests and they began leaving for home soon

It was midnight when the last sound of the footsteps of the departing
youngsters echoed down the walk. Side by side, Marjorie and her mother
watched them go, then the latter slipped her arm through that of her
daughter and said, "Now, Marjorie, we will get to the bottom of this
affair. Come with me to Mary's room."

They reached it to find the door closed. Mrs. Dean knocked upon one of
the panels.

"What do you want?" inquired an angry voice.

"We wish to come in, Mary," was Mrs. Dean's even response.

There was a muttered exclamation, a hurry of light feet, then the door
was flung open.

"You can come in for all I care," was Mary's rude greeting. "You might
as well know now that I'm not going to live here after to-night. I'm
going to Mignon's house to live." Piles of clothing scattered about and
a significantly yawning trunk bore out the assertion.

Mrs. Dean knew that the time for action had come. Walking over to the
girl, she placed deliberate hands on her shoulders. "Listen to me, Mary
Raymond," she said decisively. "You are _not_ going one step out of this
house without my consent. Your father intrusted you to my care, and I
shall endeavor to carry out his wishes. You know as well as I that he
would be displeased and sorry over your behavior. I had intended to talk
matters over with you and Marjorie now, but you are in no mood for
reason. Therefore we will allow this affair to rest until to-morrow.
But, once and for all, unless your father sanctions your removal in a
letter to me, you will stay here, under my roof. Come, Marjorie."

With a sorrowful glance toward the tense, angry little figure, Marjorie
followed her mother from the room.



Marjorie awoke the next morning with a dull ache in her heart. It was as
though she had been the victim of a bad dream. She stared gloomily about
her, struggling to recollect the cause of her depression. Then
remembrance rushed over her like a wave. No, she had not dreamed. Last
night had been only too real. If anyone had even intimated to her
beforehand that the party which had promised so much was fated to end so
disagreeably, she would have laughed the prediction to scorn. If only
Jerry had kept her unpleasantly candid remarks to herself! Yet, after
all, she could hardly blame her very much. What Jerry had said had been
intended for her ears alone. As hostess, however, she should not have
permitted Jerry to continue. Marjorie blamed herself heavily for this.
To be sure, it had been hardly fair in Mary and Mignon to listen. They
should have made known their presence. She wondered what she would have
done under the same circumstances. Her sense of honor answered her. She
knew she would have immediately come forward. She could not understand
why Mary had not done so. Loyal to the core, Marjorie's faith in her
chum refused to die. The Mary she had known for so many years had not
been lacking in honor. What she had feared from the first had come to
pass. Mary had been swayed by Mignon's baleful personality. The
much-talked-of reform had ended in a glaring fizzle.

For some time Marjorie lay still, her thoughts busy with the disquieting
events of the previous night. She had longed to turn and comfort the
tense little figure standing immovable in the middle of her room, but
her Captain's word was law, and Marjorie could but sadly acknowledge to
herself that her mother had acted for the best. So she could do nothing
but follow her from the room with a heavy heart.

What was to be the outcome of the affair she dared not even imagine. A
reconciliation with Mary was her earnest desire. This, however, could
hardly be brought about. Perhaps they would never again be friends. A
rush of tears blinded her brown eyes. Burying her face in the pillow,
Marjorie gave vent to the sorrow which overflowed her soul.

The sound of light, tapping fingers on the door caused her to sit up
hastily. "Come in," she called, trying to steady her voice.

The door opened to admit Mary Raymond. Her babyish face looked white and
wan in the clear morning light. For hours after her door had closed upon
Marjorie and her mother she had sat on the edge of her bed in her pretty
blue party frock, brooding on her wrongs. When she had finally prepared
for sleep, it was only to toss and turn in her bed, wide-awake and
resentful. At daylight she had risen listlessly, then fixing upon a
certain plan of action, had bathed, put on a simple house gown and
knocked at Marjorie's door.

A single glance at Marjorie's face was sufficient for her to determine
that her chum had been crying. She decided that she was glad of it.
Marjorie had made _her_ unhappy, now she deserved a similar fate.

"Why, Mary!" Marjorie sprang from the bed and advanced to meet her.
Involuntarily both arms were outstretched in tender appeal.

Mary took no notice of the mutely pleading arms, save to step back with
a cold gesture of avoidance.

"I haven't come here to be friends," she said with deliberate cruelty.
"I've come to ask you what you intend to say to your mother."

"What _can_ I say to her?" Marjorie's voice had a despairing note.

"You can say nothing," retorted Mary. "That is what _I_ intend to do.
Your friend, Jerry Macy, said too much last night. I cannot see why our
school affairs should be discussed in this house. I am sorry that
Mignon made a--a--disturbance last night. I didn't intend to listen,
but----" Her old-time frankness had almost overcome her newly hostile
bearing. She was on the point of saying that she had been ready to step
forth from behind the palms at Jerry's first speech. Then loyalty to
Mignon prevailed and she paused.

Marjorie caught at a straw. "I _knew_ you didn't intend to listen,
Mary." The assurance rang out earnestly. "I couldn't make myself believe
that you would. I wanted to stay last night and tell you how sorry I was
for--for everything, but I owed it to Captain to obey orders. Mary,
dear, can't we start over again? I'm sure it's all been a stupid
mistake. Let's be good soldiers and resolve to face that dreadful enemy,
Misunderstanding, together. Let's go to Captain and tell her every
single thing! Think how much better we'll both feel. It almost broke my
heart, last night, when you said you were going to Mignon's to live. If
Captain thinks it best, I'll break my promise to Connie and tell

At the mention of Constance Stevens' name Mary's face darkened. Touched
by Marjorie's impassioned appeal she had been tempted to break down the
barrier that rose between them and take the girl she still adored into
her stubborn heart again. But the mere name of Constance had acted as a
spur to her rancor.

"Don't trouble yourself about begging permission of Miss Stevens on _my_
account," she sneered. "I know a great deal too much of her already.
What do you suppose the girls and boys of Franklin High, who gave you
your butterfly pin, would say if they knew that you let the girl who
stole it from you wear it for months? If you had been honorable you
would have made her give it back and then dropped her forever."

Marjorie's sorrow disappeared in wrath. "Mary Raymond, you don't know
what you are talking about," she flamed. "I can guess who told you that
untruth. It was Mignon La Salle. It was _not_ Constance who took my
butterfly pin. It was----"

Again she remembered her promise.

"Well," jeered Mary, "who was it, then?"

"I shall not say another word until I see Captain." Marjorie's tones
were freighted with decision.

"You mean that you can't deny that your friend Constance was guilty,"
cut in Mary scornfully. "Never mind. I don't care to hear anything more.
You needn't consult your mother, either. I'm never going to be friends
with you again, so it doesn't matter. But if you ever cared the least
bit for me you'll do as I ask and not tell tales to Captain--I mean Mrs.
Dean," she corrected haughtily. "If you do, then I repeat what I said
the other day. I'll never speak to you again--no, not if I live here
forever. But I won't have to do that, for I shall write to Father and
ask him to let me go to Mignon's to live. So there!"

With this dire threat Mary flounced angrily from the room, well pleased
with the stand she had taken.

It was a most unsociable trio that gathered at the breakfast table that
Saturday morning. Mary carried herself with open belligerence. Marjorie
looked as though she was on the point of bursting into tears, while Mrs.
Dean was unusually grave. A delicate task lay before her and she was
wondering as she poured the coffee how she had best begin. Still she had
determined to thresh the matter out speedily, and as soon as Delia had
served the breakfast and retired to the kitchen, she glanced from one to
the other of the two principals and said, "Now, girls, I am waiting to
hear about last night."

A blank silence fell. Marjorie fixed her eyes on Mary. To her belonged
the first word.

The silence continued.

"Well, Mary," Mrs. Dean spoke at last, "what have you to say for

"Nothing," came the mutinous reply.

"I am sorry that you won't meet me frankly," commented Mrs. Dean. "I had
hoped to find you on duty." Her searching gaze rested on Marjorie
"Lieutenant, it is your turn, I think."

Marjorie flushed with distress. She was between two fires. Obedience
won. She related what had transpired in the hall in a few brief words,
shielding Mary as far as was possible.

"But I know all this," said Mrs. Dean, a trifle impatiently. "Jerry told
me last night. There is more to this affair than appears on the surface.
What has happened to estrange you two, who have been chums for so many
years? I have seen for some time that matters were not progressing
smoothly between you. Things cannot go on in this way. You must take me
into your confidence. It is evident that a reform is needed here at

Mary stared fixedly at her plate. She was resolved not to be a party to
that reform. If Marjorie failed her, well--she knew the consequences.

Marjorie saw the sullen, mutinous face through a mist of tears. She
tried to speak, but speech refused to come.

"I am ashamed of my soldiers." Mrs. Dean spoke sadly. "What would
General say, if he were here?"

The grave question rang like a clarion call in Marjorie's soul. A vision
of her father's merry, quizzical eyes grown suddenly sober and hurt over
the stubborn resistance of his little army was too much for her. One
mournfully appealing glance at the unyielding Mary and she burst forth
with, "I can't stand it any longer. I must speak. Last year,
when--when--Connie and I had so many unhappy days over my lost butterfly
pin I didn't write Mary about what was happening, because I felt
terribly and wished her to know only the pleasant side of my school
life. So she hadn't the least idea that Connie and I had become such
friends. She thought Connie was just a poor girl whom I tried to help
because I was sorry for her. When I asked Connie to come with us to the
station to meet Mary I was so happy to think they were going to meet
that I am afraid I made Mary believe that Connie had taken her place
with me. You know, Captain, that it couldn't be so. Mary has been and
always will be my dearest friend. I never dreamed she would become----"
Marjorie hesitated. She could not bring herself to say "jealous."

A smile of contempt curved Mary's lips. "Why don't you say 'jealous'?
That's what you mean," she supplemented.

"Very well, I will say it," rejoined Marjorie quietly. "I never dreamed
Mary would become jealous of my friendship with Connie. Before long I
noticed she was not quite her own dear self. Then she said something
that made me see that I ought to tell her all about last year, but I
didn't feel that it would be right until I had asked Connie's
permission. I told Mary I would do that very thing, but at Connie's
dance before I ever had a chance _she_ asked me not to say anything. She
was still so hurt over that affair of my pin that she was afraid Mary
might not like her so much if she knew. I didn't know what to do, then.
If I were to say that Mary had asked me to tell her, well--I thought
Connie might think her curious."

Mary made a half-stifled exclamation of anger. Then she shrugged her
shoulders with inimitable contempt and fixed her gaze on the opposite
wall, assuming an air of boredom she was far from feeling.

"Go on," commanded Mrs. Dean. Marjorie had hesitated at the

"There isn't much more to tell," continued Marjorie bravely, "only that
Mignon came back to school and met Mary and made mischief. You know the
rest, Captain. You remember what I said to you the other day----"

"Then you _had_ told your mother things about me, already!" burst forth
Mary furiously. "Very well. You know what I said this morning. Just
remember it."

Marjorie gazed piteously at the angry girl. She could not believe that
Mary intended to carry out her threat of the morning.

"What did you say to Marjorie this morning?" inquired Mrs. Dean in cold
displeasure. She was endeavoring to be impartial, but her clear mental
vision pointed that it was not her daughter who was at fault.

Mary's reply was flung defiantly forth. "I said I'd never speak to her
again, and I won't! I won't!"

If Mary had expected Mrs. Dean either to order her to reconsider her
rash words or plead with her for reconciliation, she was doomed to
disappointment. "We will take you at your word, Mary," came the calm
answer. "Hereafter Marjorie must not speak to you unless you address her
first. Of course, it will be unpleasant for all of us, but I can see
nothing else to be done. You may write to your father if you choose. He
will undoubtedly write me in return, and naturally I shall tell him the
plain, unvarnished truth, together with several items of interest
concerning Mignon La Salle which cannot be withheld from him. I shall
not forbid you to continue your friendship with her. You are old enough
now to know right from wrong. So long as she does nothing to break the
conventions of society, I can condemn her only as a trouble-maker. My
advice to you would be to drop her acquaintance. When Constance returns
it would be well for you and Marjorie to invite her here and clear up
this difficulty. However, that rests with you. So far as General and I
are concerned, nothing is changed. We shall continue to the utmost to
fulfill your father's trust in us. Now, once and for all, we will drop
the subject. I must insist on no more bickering and quarreling in my
house. That applies to both of you."

"Please let me say just one thing more, Captain." Marjorie turned
imploring eyes upon her mother. "If Mary will let me bring Connie here,
when she comes back, I'm sure every cloud can be cleared away. Mary,"
her vibrant tones throbbed with tender sympathy, "won't you take back
what you've said and believe in me?"

For answer Mary Raymond rose from the table and left the room,
obstinately trampling friendship and good will under her wayward feet.
She had begun to keep her vow.



The days following the final break in the friendship between the two
sophomores were dark indeed for Marjorie. The tale of Mignon's stormy
outbreak at her party had been retailed far and wide. It furnished
material for much speculative gossip among the students of Sanford High
School, and, as is always the case, grew out of proportion to truth with
each subsequent recital. Although the five girls who had banded
themselves together in the reform that met with such signal failure
refused to commit themselves, nevertheless the purpose of their compact,
revealed by Mignon's sarcastic tirade at the party, was no longer a
secret. Regarding the conscientiousness of their motives, opinions were
divided. Certain girls who had a wholesome respect for wealth,
personified in Mignon, murmured among themselves that it was a shame she
had been so badly treated, while under the Deans' roof. A few still
bolder spirits went so far as to criticize Mrs. Dean for interfering in
a school-girl's quarrel. They asserted that Mary Raymond had behaved
wisely in openly defending her. Marjorie Dean was a great baby to allow
her mother to run her affairs. There was no one quite so tiresome as a

On the other hand, Marjorie possessed many firm friends who defended
her, to the last word. For the time being discussion ran rife, for youth
loves to take up arms in any cause that promises excitement, without
stopping to consider dispassionately both sides of a story.

After the party Mignon had lost no time in imparting to those who would
listen to her that the Deans had treated their guest with the utmost
cruelty and it was for her invalid mother's sake alone that Mary had
resigned herself to remain under their roof and go on with her school.
Her distortion of the truth grew with each recital and, as the autumn
days came and went, she found she had succeeded in dividing the
sophomore class far more effectually than she had divided it the
preceding year, when in its freshman infancy.

At the Hallowe'en dance which the Weston boys always gave to their fair
Sanford schoolmates, dissension had reigned and broken forth in so many
petty jealousies that the boyish hosts had been filled with gloomy
disgust "at the way some of those girls acted," and vowed among
themselves never to give another party. There were exceptions, of
course, they had moodily agreed. Marjorie Dean and _her_ crowd were "all
right" girls and "nothing was too good for them." As for some others,
well--"they'd wait a long time before the fellows broke their necks to
show 'em another good time."

After a three weeks' absence Constance Stevens had returned to Sanford
and school. To her Marjorie confided her sorrows. So distressed was the
latter at the part she had unwittingly played in the jangle that she
wrote Mary Raymond an earnest little note, which was read and
contemptuously consigned to the waste-basket as unworthy of answer. Long
were the talks Constance and Marjorie had on the sore subject of Mary's
unreasonable stand, and many were the plans proposed by which they might
soften her stony little heart, but none of them were carried out. They
were voiced, only to be laid aside as futile.

To Marjorie it was all a dreadful dream from which she forlornly hoped
she might at any moment awaken. Three times a day she endured the
torture of sitting opposite Mary at meals, of hearing her talk with her
mother and father exactly as though she were not present. Mr. Dean had
returned from his Western trip. His wife had immediately advised him of
the painful situation, and, after due deliberation, he had decided that
the only one who could alter it was Mary herself. "Let her alone," he
counseled. "She has her father's disposition. You cannot drive her. You
were right in leaving her to work out her own salvation. It is hard on
Marjorie, poor child, but sooner or later Mary will wake up. When she
does she will be a very humble young woman. I wouldn't have her father
and mother know this for a good deal, and neither would she. You can
rest assured of that. Still you had better keep an eye on her. I don't
like her friendship with this La Salle girl. Mark me, some day she will
turn on Mary, and then see what happens! I'll have a talk with my
sore-hearted little Lieutenant and cheer her up, if I can."

Mr. Dean kept his word, privately inviting his sober-eyed daughter to
meet him at his office after school and go for a long ride with him in
the crisp autumn air. Once they had left Sanford behind them, Marjorie,
who understood the purpose of the little expedition, opened her
sorrowing heart to her General. Sure of his sympathy, she spoke her
inmost thoughts, while he listened, commented, asked questions and
comforted, then repeated his prediction of a happy ending with a
positiveness that aroused in her new hope of better days yet to come.

Marjorie never forgot that ride. They tarried for dinner at a wayside
inn, justly famous for its cheer, and drove home happily under the
November stars. As she studied her lessons that night she experienced a
rush of buoyant good fellowship toward the world in general which for
many days had not been hers. Yes, she was certain now that the shadow
would be lifted. Sooner or later she and Mary would step, hand-in-hand,
into the clear sunlight of perfect understanding. She prayed that it
might dawn for her soon. As is usually the case with persons innocent of
blame, she took herself sharply to task for whatever part of the snarl
she had helped to make. She did not know that the stubborn soul of her
friend could be lifted to nobler things only by suffering; that Mary's
moment of awakening was still far distant.

But while Marjorie prayed wistfully for reconciliation, Mary Raymond sat
in the next room, her straight brows puckered in a frown over a sheet of
paper she held in her hand. On it was written:


    "Be sure to come to the practice game to-morrow. I think you
    will find it interesting. If it is anything like the last one,
    several persons are going to be surprised when it is over. I
    won't see you after school to-day, as I am not coming back to
    the afternoon session.


Mary stared at the paper with slightly troubled eyes. Estranged from
Marjorie, she and Mignon had become boon companions. Since that eventful
morning when she had chosen her own course, she had discovered a number
of things about the French girl not wholly to her liking. First of all
she had expected that her latest sturdy defiance of the Deans would
elicit the highest approbation on the part of Mignon. Greatly to her
disappointment, her new friend, in whose behalf she had renounced so
much, had received her bold announcement, "I'm done with Marjorie Dean
forever," quite as a matter of course. She had merely shrugged her
expressive shoulders and remarked, "I am glad you've come to your
senses," without even inquiring into the details. Ignoring Mary's
wrongs, which had now become an old story to her and therefore devoid of
interest, she had launched forth into a lengthy discussion of her own
plans, a subject of which she was never tired of talking. After that it
did not take long for the foolish little lieutenant, who had so
unfeelingly deserted her regiment, to see that Mignon was entirely
self-centered. Other revelations soon followed. Mignon was agreeable as
long as she could have her own way. She would not brook contradiction,
and she snapped her fingers at advice. She was a law unto herself, and
to be her chum meant to follow blindly and unquestioningly wherever she
chose to lead. Mary tried to bring herself to believe that she had made
a wise choice. It was an honor to be best friends with the richest girl
in Sanford High School. She owned an electric runabout and wore
expensive clothes. At home she was the moving power about which the
houseful of servants meekly revolved. All this was very gratifying, to
be sure, but deep in her heart Mary knew that she would rather spend one
blessed hour of the old, carefree companionship with Marjorie than a
year with this strange, elfish girl with whom she had cast her lot. But
it was too late to retreat. She had burned her bridges behind her. She
must abide by that which she had chosen.

To give her due credit, she still believed that Mignon had been
misjudged. She invested the French girl with a sense of honor which she
had never possessed, and to this Mary pinned her faith. Perhaps if she
had not been still sullenly incensed against Constance Stevens, the
scales might have fallen from her eyes. But her resentment against the
latter was exceeded only by Mignon's dislike for the gentle girl. Thus
the common bond of hatred held them together. She had only to mention
Constance's name and Mignon would rise to the bait with torrential
anger. This in itself was an unfailing solace to Mary.

To-night, however, her conscience troubled her. For the past three weeks
basket ball had been the all-important topic of the hour with the
students of Sanford High School. It was the usual custom for the
instructor in gymnastics to hold basket ball try-outs among the aspiring
players of the various classes. Assisted by several seniors, she culled
the most skilful players to make the respective teams. But this year a
new departure had been declared. Miss Randall was no longer instructor.
She had resigned her position the previous June and passed on to other
fields. Her successor, Miss Davis, had ideas of her own on the subject
of basket ball and no sooner had she set foot in the gymnasium than she
proceeded to put them into effect. Instead of picking one team from the
freshman and sophomore classes, she selected two from each class. Then
she organized a series of practice games to determine which of the two
teams should represent their respective classes in the field of glory.

Marjorie, Susan Atwell, Muriel Harding, a tall girl named Esther Lind,
and Harriet Delaney made one of the two teams. Mignon La Salle,
Elizabeth Meredith, Daisy Griggs, Louise Selden and Anne Easton, the
latter four devoted supporters of Mignon La Salle, composed the other.
There had been some little murmuring on the part of Marjorie's coterie
of followers over the choice. Miss Davis was a close friend of Miss
Merton and it was whispered that she had been posted beforehand in
choosing the second team. Otherwise, how had it happened to be made up
of Mignon's admiring satellites?

Miss Davis had decreed that three practice games between the two
sophomore teams should be played to decide their prowess. The winners
should then be allowed to challenge the freshmen, who were being put
through a similar contest, to play a great deciding game for athletic
honors on the Saturday afternoon following Thanksgiving. She also
undertook to make basket ball plans for the juniors and seniors, but
these august persons declined to become enthusiastic over the movement
and balked so vigorously at the first intimation of interference with
their affairs that Miss Davis retired gracefully from their horizon and
devoted her energy to the younger and more pliable pupils of the school.

Not yet arrived at the dignity of the two upper classes, the sophomores
and freshmen were still too devoted to the game itself to resent being
managed. To find in Miss Davis an ardent devotee of basket ball was a
distinct gain. Miss Archer, although she attended the games played
between the various teams, was not, and had not been, wholly in favor of
the sport since that memorable afternoon of the year before when Mignon
had accused Ellen Seymour, now a junior, of purposely tripping her
during a wild rush for the ball. Privately, Miss Archer considered
basket ball rather a rough sport for girls and they knew that a
repetition of last year's disturbance meant death to basket ball in
Sanford High School.

Two of the three practice games had been played by the sophomore teams.
The squad of which Marjorie was captain had easily won the first. This
had greatly incensed Captain Mignon and her players. A series of locker
and corner confabs had followed. Mary, who did not aspire to basket ball
honors, had been present at these talks. In the beginning the
discussions had merely been devoted to the devising of signals and the
various methods of scoring against their opponents. But gradually a new
and sinister note had crept in. Mignon did not actually counsel her team
to take unfair advantages, but she made many artful suggestions, backed
up by a play of her speaking shoulders that conveyed volumes to her
followers. It began to dawn upon Mary that these "clever tricks," as
Mignon was wont to designate them, were not only flagrant dishonesties
but dangerous means to the end, quite likely to result in physical harm.
Her sense of honor was by no means dead, although companionship with
Mignon had served to blunt it. She had remonstrated rather weakly with
the latter on one occasion, as they walked toward home together after
leaving the other girls, and had been ridiculed for her pains.

She now stared at Mignon's irregular, disjointed writing, which in some
curious way suggested the girl's elfish personality, with unhappy eyes.
Just what did Mignon mean by intimating that several persons were "going
to be surprised" when to-morrow's practice game was over? It sounded
like a threat. No doubt it was. Suppose--some one were to be hurt
through this tricky playing of Mignon's team! Suppose that some one were
to be Marjorie! Mary shuddered. She remembered once reading in a
newspaper an account of a basket-ball game in which a girl had been
tripped by an opponent and had fallen. That girl had hurt her spine and
the physicians had decreed that she would never walk again. Mary put her
hands before her eyes as though to shut out the mental vision of
Marjorie, lying white and moaning on the gymnasium floor, the victim of
an unscrupulous adversary. What could she do? She could not warn
Marjorie to be on her guard. She had now passed out of her former
chum's friendship of her own free will. She could not go privately to
Muriel or Susan or the other members of the team. No, indeed! Yet,
somehow, she must convey a message of warning.

Seized with a sudden impulse to carry out her resolve, she picked up a
pencil and began to scrawl on a bit of paper in a curious, back-handed
fashion, quite different from her neat Spencerian hand. Over and over
she practiced this hand on a loosened sheet from her note-book. At
length she rose and, going to her chiffonier, took from the top drawer a
leather writing case. Tumbling its contents hastily over, she selected a
sheet of pale gray paper. There was a single envelope to match. Long it
had lain among her stationery, the last of a kind she had formerly used.
She was sure Marjorie had never seen it, so if it fell into her hands
she could not trace it to her. Once more she practiced the back-handed
scrawl. Then, with an energy born of the remorse which was to serve as a
continual penance for her folly, she wrote:


    "Be on your guard when you play to-morrow. If you are not very
    careful you may be sorry. Beware of 'tricks.'

        "ONE WHO KNOWS."

Folding the warning, Mary slipped it into its envelope. But now the
question again confronted her, "To whom shall I send it?" After a
moment's frowning thought she decided upon Harriet Delaney as the
recipient. But dared she trust it to the mail service? Suppose it were
not delivered until afternoon? Then it would be too late. The Delaneys
lived only two blocks further up the street. It was not yet ten o'clock.
Mrs. Dean had gone to a lecture. Marjorie was in her room. If she met
General she would merely state that she was going to post a letter. That
would be entirely true. She would run all the way there and back. Once
she had reached Harriet's house she must take her chance of being

Drawing on her long blue coat, Mary crept noiselessly down the stairs.
General was not in sight. The living room was in darkness. Only the hall
lights burned. It took but an instant to softly open the door. Mary sped
down the walk and on her errand of honor like a frightened fawn. Fortune
favored her. No eye marked her cautious ascent of the Delaney's steps.
She breathed a faint sigh of relief as she slipped the envelope into the
letter slot in the middle of the front door. Then she turned and dashed
for home like a pursued criminal.

She had hardly gained the shelter of her room when she heard the front
door open to the accompaniment of cheerful voices. Mr. Dean had
evidently gone forth to bring his wife home from the lecture. Mary threw
herself on the bed, her heart pounding with excitement and the energy of
her brisk run. And though she was conscious only of having done a good
deed for honor's sake, nevertheless she had faced about and taken a long
step in the right direction.



"Good-morning, Mrs. Dean. Is Marjorie here?" There was a hint of
suppressed excitement in the clear voice that asked the question.

"Good morning, Harriet. Come in." Mrs. Dean smiled pleasantly upon her
caller, as she ushered her into the hall. "You are out early this
morning. Yes, Marjorie is here. She hasn't come downstairs yet. She is a
little inclined to linger in bed on Saturday morning."

"I can't blame her," laughed Harriet. "I am fond of doing the same. But
I've a special reason for being out early this morning. It's about
basket ball. You may be sure of that."

"Basket-ball is enjoying its usual popularity. I hear a great deal about
it of late," returned Mrs. Dean. "Pardon me." Raising her voice, she
called up the stairway, "Mar-jorie!"

"Coming down on the jump, Captain!" answered Marjorie's voice. Verifying
her words, she bounded lightly down the stairs, still in her dressing
gown, her hair falling in long loose curls about her lovely face. "I
knew who was here. I heard Harriet's voice."

"Oh, Marjorie," burst forth Harriet, taking a quick step forward.
"I--something awfully queer has happened!" She glanced nervously about
her, but Mrs. Dean had already vanished through the doorway, leading
into the dining room. She rarely intruded upon Marjorie's callers longer
than to welcome them.

"What is it, Harriet?" fell wonderingly from Marjorie's lips. Her
friend's early call, coupled with her agitated manner, betokened
something unusual.

"Read this!" Harriet thrust a sheet of pale gray note paper into
Marjorie's hand. "It's the strangest thing I ever heard of!"

Marjorie swept the few scrawling lines of which the paper boasted with a
keen, comprehensive glance. As its import dawned upon her, her brown
eyes grew round with amazement. She re-read it twice. "Where did you
receive it?" came her sharp question, as she continued to hold it in her

"I don't know when it came. Mother found it on the floor in the
vestibule this morning. I was still in bed. She sent Nora, our maid,
upstairs with it. You can imagine I didn't stop to finish my nap. I
hurried and dressed, ate about three bites of breakfast and started for
your house as fast as I could travel. I thought you ought to see it
first. What do you make of it?"

"I hardly know what to think." Marjorie's glance strayed from Harriet's
perturbed face to the mysterious letter of warning. "Somehow, I don't
believe it was written for a joke. Do you?"

"No, I don't." Harriet shook her head positively. "I think it was
intended for just what it is, a warning to be on our guard to-day. I'll
tell you something, Marjorie. I never mentioned it before
because--well--you know I've never liked Mignon La Salle since she
nearly broke up basket ball at Sanford High last year, and I was afraid
it might sound hateful on my part, but the girls of Mignon's squad are
as tricky as can be. Twice, in the first practice game we played, I had
my own troubles with them. Once Daisy Griggs nearly knocked me over. She
pretended it was an accident, but it wasn't. Then, in the second half,
Mignon poked me in the side with her elbow. We were bunched so close
that not even the referee saw her. I almost had the ball, but my side
hurt me so that I missed it entirely. Susan Atwell was awfully cross
about something that day, too. I asked her what had happened, but she
only muttered that she hoped she'd get through the game without being
murdered. She wouldn't say another word, but you can guess from what
I've told you that she must have had good reason for getting mad. Did
she say anything to you?"

"No; I wish she had." A flash of anger darkened Marjorie's delicate
features. "The girls of Mignon's team have played fairly enough with me.
They are rough, I'll say that, but, so far they've not overstepped the

"They know better than to try their tricks on _you_!" exclaimed Harriet
hotly, "or on Muriel, either. Mignon's afraid of you because you are
everything that's good and noble!"

"Nonsense," Marjorie grew red at this flattering assertion.

"It's true, just the same. She's afraid of Muriel, too, because she
knows that Muriel would report her to Miss Archer in a minute. She
thinks she can harass Esther and Susan and me and that we won't dare say
anything for fear Miss Archer will make a fuss. She knows how crazy we
are to play and that we'd stand a good deal of knocking about rather
than spoil everything. It's different with Muriel. If _she_ got mad, she
would walk off the floor and straight to Miss Archer's office, and those
girls know it."

Marjorie was silent. What Harriet said in regard to Muriel was
undoubtedly true. Since the latter had turned from Mignon La Salle to
her, she had been the soul of devotion. She had never forgiven Mignon
for her cowardly conduct on the day of the class picnic. Muriel
reverenced the heroic, and Mignon had disgraced herself forever in the
eyes of this impulsive, hero-worshipping girl.

"We had better show this letter to the other girls," Marjorie said with
sudden decision. "Come upstairs to my house. I'll hurry and dress.
Suppose you have a few more bites of breakfast with me. Your early
morning rush must have made you hungry, and you ought to be well fed, if
you expect to do valiant work on the field of battle this afternoon."

"I _am_ hungry," conceded Harriet, "and I won't wait to be urged. I'd
love to take breakfast with you." Then, lowering her voice, she asked:
"Is Mary going to the game?"

A faint wistfulness tinged Marjorie's voice as she said slowly. "I don't
know. I haven't asked her. I suppose she is, though."

Although it was whispered among Marjorie's close friends that the
unpleasant scene at her party had left a yawning gap between the two
friends, never, by so much as a word, had Marjorie intimated the true
state of affairs to any one except Constance and Jerry Macy. Not even
Susan Atwell and Muriel Harding knew just how matters stood. Harriet
remembered this in the same moment of her question, and, flushing at her
own inquisitiveness, remarked hurriedly, "Everyone in school is coming
to see us play."

"I'm glad of that." Marjorie had recovered again her usual cheerfulness,
and answered heartily. She kept up a lively stream of talk as she
completed her dressing. Tucking the letter inside her white silk blouse
she led the way downstairs to the dining room. She was slightly relieved
to see Mary's place at the table vacant. She guessed that the latter had
heard Harriet's voice and had purposely remained in her room. She had
not gone astray in this supposition. Mary _had_ heard Harriet speak and
knew only too well what had brought her to the Deans' house so early
that morning.

It was nine o'clock when Marjorie and Harriet left the house to call on
Susan Atwell, who lived nearest. Susan read the mysterious warning and
was duly impressed with its significance. She was equally at sea as to
the writer. It soon developed, however, that Harriet had been correct in
assuming that Susan's wrath at the first game played against Mignon's
team had been occasioned by their unfair tactics. She had been slyly
tripped by Louise Selden, she asserted, and had fallen heavily.

"All this is news to me," declared Marjorie, frowning her disapproval.
"It must be stopped."

"How?" inquired Susan almost sulkily.

"If necessary, we must have an understanding with our opponents," was
the quiet response.

"That is easy enough to say," retorted Susan, "but if we were to accuse
those girls of playing unfairly, they would simply laugh at us and call
us babies."

"I'd rather be laughed at and called a baby than allow such unfairness
to go on." There was a ring of determination in Marjorie's reply.

"Let us hurry on to Muriel and hear her views," suggested Harriet. "She
lives next door to Esther Lind, so we can call them together and show
them the letter."

Once the team were together they spent an anxious session over the
letter left by an unseen hand. Discussion ran rife. With her usual
impetuosity Muriel announced her intention of taking Mignon to task
before the game. "I'm not afraid of her," she boasted. "I'd rather not
play than to feel that at any minute I might be laid up for repairs. I'm
much obliged to the one who wrote this. He or she must have had a
troubled conscience."

Marjorie cast a startled glance at Muriel. Could it be possible that
Mary had written the note? And yet something about the gray stationery
had seemed familiar. She was not sure, but she thought she had at some
time or other received a letter from her chum written on gray note
paper. She resolved to look through Mary's letters to her as soon as she
reached home. If Mary had, indeed, sent the warning, it was because she
felt constrained to do the only honorable thing in her power.
Association with Mignon had not entirely deadened her sense of right and
wrong. A wave of love and longing brought the tears to Marjorie's eyes.
She winked them back. She must not betray herself to her schoolmates.

"Listen to me, girls," she began earnestly. "We mustn't say a word to
our opponents before the game. I know I just said that we ought to have
an understanding, and I meant it. But we had better wait until the end
of the first half. If everything is all right, then so much the better.
If it isn't--well--we shall at least have given them their chance."

The players lingered in the Hardings' living room to discuss the coming
contest, go over their signals and prepare themselves as effectually as
possible for the fray. It was almost noon when Marjorie sped up the
stairs to her room, there to put into execution the search she had
decided to make. Mary's letters to her, tied with a bit of blue ribbon,
reposed in a pretty lacquered box designed especially to hold them.
Marjorie untied the ribbon and fingered them with a sigh of regret for
the happy past. Most of them were written on white paper, a few were on
pale blue, Mary's color. Almost at the bottom of the box was one gray
envelope. The searcher drew a quick breath as she separated it from its
fellows. Drawing the envelope from her blouse, she compared the two.
They were identical. The mysterious warning was no longer a mystery
to her.



Thrilled with the discovery she had just made, Marjorie's first impulse
was to seek admittance to the room so long denied her and confront Mary
with the knowledge of her good deed. Remembering her General's
injunction, "Let her alone," she refrained from yielding to that
impulse. Her pride, too, asserted itself. It was not her place to make
advances, all too likely to be rebuffed. No, she must keep her secret
until time had done its perfect work. Reconciliation lay in Mary's
hands, not hers. She decided, however, that the girls must never know
who had been the author of the warning. So far as she was concerned, it
must remain a mystery to them.

"Where is Mary?" she inquired of her mother, as they sat down to
luncheon a little later. Mary's place at the table was vacant.

"Oh, she was invited to luncheon at her friend Mignon's home," returned
Mrs. Dean, frowning slightly. "I suppose she is hoping that Mignon's
team will win the game this afternoon."

"I suppose so," returned Marjorie absently. Her mind was still on her
discovery. Should she tell Captain about it? Perhaps it would be best.
Briefly she acquainted her mother with what she had so recently found

"I am not greatly surprised," was her mother's quiet comment. "Mary is
too good a girl at heart to persist for long in this ridiculous stand
she has taken. I am glad you said nothing of it to her. She must clear
her own path of the briars she has sown. When she does, she will have
learned a much-needed lesson."

"But, Captain, it's dreadful to think of Christmas coming and Mary
and--I--not--friends," faltered Marjorie. "I can't give her a present,
and I'd love to. I suppose she doesn't care to give me one. We've always
exchanged gifts ever since we were little tots."

"Perhaps everything will be all right by that time. If it isn't--well, I
have a plan--but I'm not going to say a word about it yet. Wait until
nearer Christmas. Then we shall see."

"Oh, Mother, if only you could think of something that would make us
friends again, just for a day, I'd be so happy!" Marjorie clasped her
hands in fervent appeal.

"Wait and see," smiled Mrs. Dean enigmatically.

As Marjorie set out for the high school that afternoon she hummed a
jubilant snatch of song, due to the bright ray of sunlight that had
pierced the gloom. She could afford to wait, if waiting would bring
about the miracle that her mother had hinted might be wrought. She quite
forgot basket ball until she reached the steps of the high school.
There her mind reverted to the coming contest and she set her lips in
silent determination. Her team must win to-day. She could not endure the
thought that Mignon's team should be the one to play against the
freshmen for sophomore honors.

It was half past one o'clock when she entered the building and hurried
to the dressing room at one side of the gymnasium, which was reserved
for her squad. The first to arrive, she hastily prepared for the game.
Meanwhile, she kept up an earnest thinking as to the course she had best
pursue if Mignon and her supporters overstepped the bounds of fair play.
But she could make up her mind to nothing. Mere contemplation of the
subject was so disagreeable she hated to face it.

While she pondered, Susan Atwell bustled in with Muriel Harding. The two
remaining members of the team appeared soon after and a lively dressing
and talking bee ensued. The sophomore team, which Marjorie captained,
had chosen to wear their black basket ball regalia of the year before,
but instead of the violet "F" that had ornamented their blouses, a
scarlet "S" now replaced it. Black and scarlet were the sophomore
colors. Should their team win, they could wear the same suits in the
more important game to come. It was reported, however, that Mignon's
team would shine resplendently in new suits of gray, ornamented with a
rose-colored "S," which Mignon had provided at her own expense. If they
won, she had promised her adherents the prettiest black and scarlet
suits that could be obtained for the Thanksgiving Day contest. It is
needless to say that they had also set their minds on carrying off the
victor's palm.

The game had been set for half past two o'clock, but long before that
hour the gallery audience of Sanford School girls, with a fair
sprinkling of boys from Weston High, had begun to arrive. Opinion was
divided as to the prospective winners. Marjorie's team boasted of
seasoned players, whose work on the field was well known. Mignon had not
been so fortunate. Neither Daisy Griggs nor Anne Easton had played
basket ball, previous to the opening of the season. But Mignon herself
was counted a powerful adversary. The sympathy of the boys lay for the
most part with Marjorie's squad. The Weston High lads were decidedly
partial to the pretty, brown-eyed girl, whose modest, gracious ways had
soon won their boyish approbation. Among the girls, however, Mignon
could count on fairly strong support.

As it was a practice game no special preparations in the way of songs or
the wearing of contestants' colors had been observed. That would come
later, on Thanksgiving Day. But excitement ran higher than usual in the
audience, for it had been whispered about that it was to be "some game."

"It's twenty-five after, children," informed Jerry Macy, who, with Irma
Linton and Constance Stevens, had been accorded the privilege of
invading the dressing room of Marjorie's team. Jerry had elected to
become a safety deposit vault for a miscellaneous collection of pins,
rings, neck chains and other simple jewelry dear to the heart of the
school girl. Marjorie's bracelet watch adorned one plump wrist, while
her own ornamented the other.

"Look out, Jerry, or you'll make yourself cross-eyed trying to tell time
by both those watches at once," giggled Susan Atwell.

"Don't you believe it," was Jerry's good-humored retort. "They're both
right to the minute."

"Remember, girls, that we've just _got_ to win," counseled Marjorie
fervently. "Keep your heads, and don't let a single thing get by you.
We've practiced our signals until I'm sure you all know them perfectly."

"We'll win fast enough, if certain persons play fairly," nodded Muriel
Harding, "but look out for Mignon."

A shrill blast from the referee's whistle followed Muriel's warning. It
called them to action.

The next instant five black and scarlet figures flashed forth onto the
gymnasium floor to meet the gray-clad quintette that advanced from the
opposite side of the room.

United cheering from the gallery constituents of both teams rent the
air. The contestants acknowledged the applause and ran to their
stations. A significant silence fell as the referee poised the ball for
the opening toss. Mignon La Salle's black eyes were fastened upon it
with almost savage intensity. She leaped like a cat for it as it left
the referee's hands. Again the screech of the whistle sounded. The game
had begun.

It was Marjorie who won the toss-up, however. She had been just a shade
quicker than Mignon. Now she sent the ball flying toward Susan Atwell
with a sure aim that made the onlookers gasp with admiration. Before the
gray-clad girls could comprehend just how it had all happened, their
opponents had scored. But this was only the beginning of things. Buoyant
over their initial gain, the black and scarlet girls played as though
inspired and soon the score stood 8 to 0 in their favor.

Mignon La Salle was furious at the unexpected turn matters had taken.
Her players, of whom she had expected wonders, were behaving like
dummies. They had evidently forgotten her fierce exhortations to fight
their way to victory regardless of expense. Well, she would soon show
them their work. It did not take her long to put her resolve into
execution. Joining a wild rush for the ball, which Harriet Delaney was
valiantly trying to throw to basket, Mignon made good her word. Just
what happened to her Harriet could not say. She knew only that a sly,
tripping foot, unseen in the turmoil, sent her crashing to the floor,
while the ball passed into the enemy's keeping, and they scored.

Inspired by the sweetness of success, Mignon's "dummies" awoke and
carried out the instructions, so often impressed upon them in secret by
their unscrupulous leader, in a series of plays that for sly roughness
had never been equalled by any other team that had elected to take the
floor in that gymnasium. Yet so cleverly did they execute them that
beyond an occasional foul they managed to elude the supposedly-watchful
eyes of the referee, an upper class friend of the French girl's, and
rapidly piled up their score.

When the whistle called the end of the first half it found the score
10-8 in favor of the grays. It also found a quintet of enraged
black-clad girls, nursing sundry bruises and vows of vengeance.

"It's a burning shame!" cried Susan Atwell, the moment the teams had
reached the safety of their dressing room. "I won't stand it. My ankle
hurts so where some one kicked it that I thought I couldn't finish the
first half. And poor Harriet! You must have taken an awful fall."

"I did." Harriet Delaney was half crying.

Muriel Harding's dark eyes were snapping with rage and injury. She was
nursing a scraped elbow, which she had received in the melee. "I'm going
straight to Miss Archer," she threatened. "I won't play the second half
with such dishonorable girls. That Miss Dutton, the referee, must know
something of the rough way they are playing. But _she_ is a friend of
Mignon's. I don't care much if Miss Archer forbids basket ball for the
rest of the season. I'd rather have it that way than be carried off the
floor, a wreck. I'm going now to find her. She's up in her office. Jerry
saw her just before she came to the gym. Didn't you, Jerry?" She turned
to the stout girl, who had just entered. At the beginning of the game,
Jerry, Constance and Irma had hurried to the gallery to watch it.
Seasoned fans, they had observed the playing with critical eyes that saw
much. The instant the first half was over, they had descended to their
friends with precipitate haste.

"Yes, she's in her office." Jerry had appeared in time to hear Muriel's
tirade. "I think I _would_ go to her, if I were you, Muriel. Those girls
are a disgrace to Sanford."

"Let's all go," proposed Harriet Delaney, wrathfully. "I'd rather do
that than stay and be murdered."

Marjorie stood regarding her players with brooding eyes. She smiled
faintly at Harriet's vehement utterance. "Girls," she said in a clear,
resolute voice, "I told you this morning that if anything like this
happened I'd go straight to Mignon and have an understanding. I'm going.
I wish you to go with me, though. I have a reason for it." She walked
determinedly to the door.

"What are you going to say to them, Marjorie?" demanded Muriel. "You
might as well save your breath. They'll only laugh at you. Miss Archer
is the person to go to."

"Not yet." Marjorie shook her head in gentle contradiction. "Please let
me try my way, Muriel. If it doesn't work, then I promise you that I'll
go with you to Miss Archer. Oh, yes. I wish you all to stand by me, but
don't say a word unless I ask you to. Will you trust me?" She glanced
wistfully at her little flock.

"Go ahead," ordered Muriel shortly. "We'll stand by you. Won't we,

Three heads nodded on emphatic assent.

"All right. Come on. We haven't much time left. How many minutes,

"Eight," replied the stout girl. "Can Irma and Connie and I come, too?"

"No. I'd rather you wouldn't."

"We'll forgive you. Now beat it." Although Jerry was earnestly
endeavoring to eliminate slang from her vocabulary, she could not resist
this forceful advice.

"Suppose we go around through the corridor and use that side door
nearest Mignon's dressing room," suggested Marjorie. "Then we won't be
noticed. I'd rather we weren't. This is really private, you know."

Four black and scarlet figures gloomily followed their leader. There
were two doors to each dressing room. One led into the gymnasium, which
was situated in a wing of the school, the other led into the corridor.
Through the half-open door of Mignon's dressing room the sound of
exultant voices reached the advancing squad. She stood with her back
toward them.

"We were a little too much for them." Mignon's boasting tones brought
fresh resentment to her injured opponents. "I told you that----"

"Miss La Salle!" Marjorie's stern voice caused the French girl to whirl
about. "We heard what you were saying. We came over here to notify you
that we do not intend to play the second half of the game with you
unless you give us your promise to play fairly and without unnecessary

Mignon's black eyes blazed. "What do you mean by stealing into our room
and listening to our private conversation?" she demanded passionately.

Marjorie faced the furious girl with calm, contemptuous eyes. Before
their steady gaze, Mignon quailed a trifle.

"We did not _steal_ into your room. If you had not been so busy boasting
over your own unfairness you could have heard our approach. However,
that doesn't matter. What _does_ matter is this. Come here, Muriel." She
beckoned Muriel to her side. "Show Miss La Salle your elbow," she

Muriel rolled back her loose sleeve and showed the raw, red spot on her
soft, white arm.

Mignon laughed sarcastically and shrugged her scorn of the injury. "You
can't be a baby and play basket ball," she jeered.

"Neither can you behave like a savage and expect it to pass
unnoticed--by at least a few persons," retorted Marjorie. She was
fighting hard to control the rush of temper which this heartless girl
always brought to the surface. "Harriet was badly shaken up, because
someone purposely tripped her. Some one else kicked Susan on the ankle.
It is too much. We won't endure it. Now I give you fair warning, if any
girl of my squad is handled roughly during the next half she intends to
call a halt in the game. The rest of us will then leave the floor and go
to Miss Archer's office. Think it over. That's all."

Marjorie turned on her heel. Without so much as a glance toward the
discomfited girls of Mignon's team, she walked from the room, followed
by her silently obedient train.

"Well, _what_ do you think of that?" gasped Louise Selden. Nevertheless,
she had had the grace to turn very red during Marjorie's stern

Mignon turned savagely upon the abashed members of her squad. "If you
pay any attention to _her_, you are all _babies_," she hissed. "You are
to play the second half just as I told you. Don't let that priggish Dean
girl scare you. _She_ wouldn't go to Miss Archer. She knows better than

"You're wrong, Mignon. She meant every word she said." Daisy Griggs'
ruddy face had grown suddenly pale. "_I'm_ going to be pretty careful
how I play the rest of this game."

"So am I," echoed Elizabeth Meredith. "If Miss Dean went to Miss Archer
it would raise a regular riot."

Anne Easton and Louise Selden nodded in solemn agreement with Daisy's
bold stand. In her heart each of them stood convicted of unworthiness.
The righteous gleam of Marjorie's clear eyes had made them feel most

"You're cowards, every one of you," burst forth Mignon, her dark face
distorted with rage, "and if----"

"T-r-r-ill!" The referee's whistle was summoning them to the game.

Mignon ran to her station resolved on vengeance. Four girls followed her
to their places divided between two fears. Awe of Miss Archer and the
disaster that would surely overtake them if they persisted in their
former tactics acted as a spur to their sleeping consciences. Fear of
Mignon became a secondary emotion. They vowed within themselves to play
fairly and they kept their vow.

The second half of the game opened very well for Marjorie's team. She
passed the ball to Susan Atwell, who scored, thereby winning a salvo of
hearty applause from the gallery. The watchful spectators had not been
blind to the unfair methods of the grays. Two goals followed in their
favor. So far the grays had done nothing. Unnerved by Marjorie's just
censure and the fear of exposure, they paid little heed to Mignon's
glowering glances and frantic signals. They played in a half-hearted,
diffident fashion, quite the opposite of their whirlwind sweep during
the first half. The black and scarlet girls soon brought the score up to
14 to 10 in their favor, and from that moment on had things decidedly
their own way. Time after time Mignon cut in desperately for the basket
to receive a pass, but on each occasion her team-mates made a wild
throw. Marjorie's team, however, played with perfect unity, working in
several successful signal plays. Try as she might, the French girl could
do nothing to arouse her players. Their passing became so delinquent
that once or twice it brought derisive groans from the male spectators
in the gallery. As the second half neared its end, Muriel Harding made a
sensational throw to basket that aroused the gallery to wild enthusiasm.
It also served to take the faint remaining spirit from the disheartened
grays, and the game wound up with a score of 30 to 12 in favor of the
black and scarlet girls. They had won a complete and sweeping victory
over their unworthy opponents.

It was a proud moment for Marjorie Dean, as she stood surrounded by a
flock of jubilant boys and girls, who had rent the gallery air with
appreciative howls, then hustled from their places aloft to offer their
congratulations to the victors.

"I'm so glad you won, Marjorie," cried Ellen Seymour. Lowering her
voice, she added: "I could see a few things. I'm not the only one. But
what happened to them? They actually played fairly in the second
half--all except Mignon. But she couldn't do much by herself."

Marjorie smiled faintly. "We must have discouraged them, I suppose. We
never before worked together so well as we played in that second half.
Wasn't that a wonderful throw to basket that Muriel made?"

"Splendid," agreed Ellen warmly. "I predict an easy victory for the
sophomores on Thanksgiving Day."

Marjorie breathed relief. "Are you coming to see us play, or are you
going away for Thanksgiving?" was her tactful question.

Ellen plunged into a voluble recital of her Thanksgiving plans, quite
forgetting her curiosity over the sudden change of tactics of the
defeated grays. Several girls joined in the conversation, and thus the
talk drifted away from the subject Marjorie wished most to avoid.

In Mignon's dressing room, however, a veritable tornado had burst. Four
sullen, gray-clad girls bowed their heads before the storm of
passionate reproaches hurled upon them by their irate leader. They were
seeing and hearing Mignon at her worst, and they did not relish it. It
may be set down to their credit that not one of them took the trouble to
answer her. Beyond a mute exchange of meaning glances, they ignored her
scorn, slipping away like shadows when they had changed their basket
ball suits for street apparel. Outside the high school they congregated
and made solemn agreement that now and forever they were "through" with

Several friends of the latter, including Miss Dutton, the referee,
dropped into the dressing room, and to them Mignon continued her tirade.
But the face of one hitherto ardent supporter was missing. Mary Raymond
had fled from the school the moment the game was ended. For once she had
seen too much of Mignon. She had tried to force herself to believe that
she was sorry for the latter's deserved defeat, but, in reality, she was
glad that Marjorie's team had won. She determined to go home and wait
for her chum. She would confess that she was sorry for the past and ask
Marjorie to forgive her.

Putting her determination into swift action, she left the high school
behind her almost at a run. Once she had reached home she paused only to
hang her wraps on the hall rack, then posted herself in the living-room
window, an anxious little figure. When Marjorie came she would open the
hall door for her. She would say, "I surrender, Lieutenant. Please
forgive me." She smiled a trifle sadly to herself in anticipation of
the forgiving arms that Marjorie would extend to her. She was not sure
she merited forgiveness.

But when at last Marjorie came in sight of the gate, Mary vented an
exclamation of pain and anger. Marjorie was not alone. Up the walk she
loitered, arm-in-arm with Constance Stevens. The old jealousy, forgotten
in Marjorie's hour of triumph, swept Mary like a blighting wind. She
turned and fled from the hated sight that met her eyes, a deserter to
her good intentions.



Thanksgiving Day walked in amid a flurry of snow, accompanied by a
boisterous wind, which roared a bleak reminiscence of that first
Thanksgiving Day on a storm rock-bound coast, when a few faithful souls
had braved his fury and gone forth to give thanks for life and liberty.
Despite his challenging roar, the boys of Weston High School played
their usual game of football against a neighboring eleven and emerged
from the field of conquest, battered and victorious, to rest in the
proud bosoms of their families and devour much turkey. In the afternoon,
the long-talked-of game of basket ball came off between the sophomores
and the freshmen. It was an occasion of energetic color-flaunting, in
which black and scarlet banners predominated. It seemed as though almost
every one in Sanford High School, with the exception of the freshmen
themselves, was devoted heart and soul to the sophomores. The rumor of
the unfair treatment they had received in the deciding practice game had
been noised abroad, and Marjorie and her team mates were in a fair way
to be lionized. A packed gallery, much jubilant singing and frantic
applause of every move they made, spurred the black and scarlet girls to
doughty deeds, and, although it was a hard-fought battle, in which the
freshmen played for dear life, the sophomores won.

Altogether, it was a day long to be remembered, and Marjorie lived it
for all that lay within her energetic young body and mind. Only the one
flaw that marred its perfection and left her sober-eyed and
retrospective when the eventful holiday was ended. She felt that one
word of commendation from Mary would have been worth more than all the
praise she had received from admiring friends. But Mary was as stony and
implacable as ever, giving no sign of the surrender which Constance
Stevens had unconsciously nipped in the bud.

Just how Mary spent that particular Thanksgiving Day Marjorie did not
learn until long afterward. She knew only that Mary had left the house
directly after dinner, merely stating that she intended making several
calls, and was seen no more until ten o'clock that night, when she
flitted into the house like a ghost and vanished up the stairs to her
own room.

After Thanksgiving, basket ball echoes died out in the growing murmur of
coming Christmas joys, and like every young girl, Marjorie grew
impatient and enthusiastic over her holiday plans. She did not chatter
them as freely to General and Captain when at table as had been her
custom each year in the happy days when only they three had been
together. As her formerly lovable self, Marjorie would have felt no
reserve in Mary's presence, but this strange, new Mary with her white,
immobile face and indifferent eyes, chilled her and killed her desire to
exchange the usual gay badinage with her General, which had always made
meal-time a merry occasion.

"I don't like Mary's effect on our little girl, Margaret. Of late,
Marjorie is as solemn as a judge," remarked Mr. Dean one evening as he
lingered at the dinner table after Mary and Marjorie had excused
themselves and gone upstairs on the plea of studying to-morrow's
lessons. "I counseled Marjorie, the night I took her to Devon Inn to
dinner, to let matters work out in their own way. That was some time
ago. Perhaps I'd better take a hand and see what I can do toward ending
this internal war. Christmas will soon be here. We can't have our Day of
Days spoiled by one youngster's perversity."

"I have thought of that, too," returned Mrs. Dean, smiling, "and I have
a plan. I shall need your help to carry it out, though."

When she had finished the laying out of her clever scheme for a
congenial Christmas all around, Mr. Dean threw back his head in a hearty
laugh. "It's decidedly ingenious, and in keeping," was his tribute.
"I'll help you put it through, with pleasure. But after Christmas----"
He paused, his laughing eyes growing grave.

"After Christmas our services as peace advocates may not be needed,"
supplemented Mrs. Dean. "At least, I hope they may not. I am still of
the opinion, however, that Mary must be left to repent of her own folly.
If she is coaxed and wheedled into good humor she will never realize how
badly she has behaved."

"I suppose that is so. But, naturally, I am more interested in healing
our poor little soldier's hurts than in trying to bring a certain
stubborn young person to her senses. We will try out our idea. It will
insure one satisfactory day, I hope. Unless I prove a poor diplomat."

Although Marjorie's blithe voice was too frequently stilled in Mary's
presence, she was uniformly sunny when she and her Captain were alone
together. Now fairly familiar with Sanford, Mrs. Dean had made it a part
of her daily life to seek and assist certain families among the poor of
the little northern city. Now that Christmas was so near she was making
a special effort to gladden the hearts of those to whom life had seemed
to grudge even daily bread. She had contrived wisely to interest
Marjorie in this charitable work, with the idea of taking her mind from
the bitter disappointment Mary's change of heart had brought her, and
had been touched and gratified at the unselfish eagerness with which
Marjorie had taken up the work. The latter had aroused Jerry Macy's, as
well as Constance Stevens', interest in planning a merry Christmas for
the poor of Sanford. Constance was particularly desirous of helping. She
would never forget the previous Christmas Eve, when, laden with good
will and be-ribboned offerings, Marjorie had smilingly appeared at the
little gray house where Poverty reigned supreme and helped her transform
Charlie's rickety express wagon into a veritable fairy couch, piled high
with the precious tokens of unselfish love. She felt that the only way
in which she might show her lasting gratitude for the gifts of that
snowy Christmas Eve was to share her blessings with others who were in
need, and she quickly became Marjorie's most faithful servitor.

Good-natured Jerry was also keen to bestow her time and world goods in
the Christmas cause, and almost every afternoon when school was over the
three girls conspired together in the cause of happiness. Marjorie
unearthed a trunk of her childish toys from an obscure corner of the
garret, and a great mending and refurbishing movement ensued. Jerry, not
to be outdone, canvassed among her friends for suitable gifts to lay at
the shrine of Christmas, which rose to life eternal when three wise men
placed their reverent offerings at the feet of a Holy Child long
centuries before. While Constance Stevens drew largely on a sum of
money, which her indulgent aunt had placed in the bank to her credit and
enjoyed to the full the blessedness of giving.

"Maybe we haven't been busy little helpers, though," declared Jerry
Macy one blustering afternoon, as the three girls sat in the Deans'
living room, surrounded by ribbon-bound packages of all shapes and
sizes. "Truly, I never had such a good time before in all my life."

"That's just the way I feel," nodded Constance, as she tied an
astounding bow of red ribazine about an oblong package that
suggested a doll, and consulted a fat note book, lying wide
spread on the library table, for the address of the prospective
possessor. "Marjorie, will you ever forget how happy Charlie was
last year?"

"Dear little Charlie!" Marjorie's lips smiled tender reminiscence of the
tiny boy's jubilation over his wonderful discovery that Santa Claus had
not forgotten him. "His Christmas will be a merry one this year, even to
the good, strong leg that he hoped Santa would bring him."

"He can't possibly be any happier than he was _last_ Christmas morning,"
was Constance's soft reply. "And it was all through you, Marjorie."

"Oh, I wasn't the only one. Your father and you and Uncle John gave him
things, and Delia popped the corn for his tree, and, don't you remember,
Laurie Armitage brought you the tree and the holly and ground pine?"

Constance flushed slightly at the mention of Lawrence Armitage. A
sincere boy and girl friendship had sprung up between them that promised
later to ripen into perfect love.

"That reminds me," broke in Jerry bluntly. "I've something to tell you,
girls. Hal told me. He's my most reliable source of information when it
comes to news of Weston High. Laurie is writing an operetta. He's going
to call it 'The Rebellious Princess,' and he would like to give a
performance of it in the spring. There's to be a big chorus and
Professor Harmon is going to pick a cast from the boys and girls of
Weston and Sanford High Schools."

"Who is Professor Harmon?" asked Constance curiously.

"Oh, he's the musical director at Weston High," answered Jerry
offhandedly. "He looks after the singing and glee clubs there, just as
Miss Walters does at Sanford High. You can sing, Connie, and Laurie
knows it. I wouldn't be surprised if you'd get the leading part."

"I'd be more surprised if I did," laughed Constance, "considering that I
don't even know Professor Harmon when I see him."

"Laurie will introduce you to him, I guess," predicted Jerry
confidently. "Hal said something about a try-out of voices. I can't
remember what it was. I'll ask him when I go home."

"I don't believe I could even sing in a chorus," laughed Marjorie. "I
haven't a strong voice."

"You can look pretty, though, and _that_ counts," was Jerry's emphatic
consolation. "That's more than I can do. I can't see myself shine, even
in a chorus. I don't sing. I shout, and then I'm always getting off the
key," she ended gloomily.

Constance and Marjorie giggled at Jerry's funny description of her vocal
powers. The stout girl's brief gloom vanished in a broad grin.

"Two more days and Christmas will be here!" exclaimed Marjorie with a
joyous little skip, which caused a pile of packages on the floor near
her to tumble in all directions.

"Easy there!" warned Jerry. Secretly she was delighted at her friend's
lightsome mood. Marjorie had been altogether too serious of late.
Privately, she had frequently wished that Mary Raymond had never set
foot in Sanford.

The early December dusk had fallen when, the last package wrapped,
Constance and Jerry said good-bye to Marjorie. "I'll be over bright and
early Christmas morning," reminded Constance. "Remember, you are coming
to Gray Gables on Christmas night, Marjorie. Charlie made me promise for
you ahead of time. I'd love to have you come, too, Jerry."

"Can't do it. Thank you just the same, but the Macys far and near are
going to hold forth at our house and poor little Jerry will have to stay
at home and do the agreeable hostess act," declared Jerry, looking
comically rueful.

"I'll surely be there, Connie. I'll bring my offerings with me. Don't
you forget that you are due at the Deans' residence on Christmas
morning. Bring Charlie with you."

After her friends had gone, Marjorie went into the living room to
speculate for the hundredth time on the subject of Mary's present. It
was a beautiful little neckchain of tiny, square, gold links, similar to
one her Captain had given her on her last birthday. Mary had frequently
admired it in times past and for months Marjorie had saved a portion
from her allowance with which to buy it. She had a theory that a gift to
one's dearest friends should entail self-sacrifice on the part of the
giver. Mary's changed attitude toward her had not counted. She was still
resolved upon giving her the chain. But how was she to do it? And
suppose when she offered it Mary were to refuse it?

The entrance of her mother broke in upon her unhappy speculations. "I'm
glad you came, Captain," she said. "I've been trying to think how I had
best give Mary her present."

"Then don't worry about it any longer," comforted Mrs. Dean. Stepping
over to the low chair in which Marjorie sat she passed her arm about her
troubled daughter and drew her close. "That is a part of my plan. Wait
until Christmas morning and you will know."

"Tell me now," coaxed Marjorie, snuggling comfortably into the hollow of
the protecting arm.

"That would be strictly against orders," came the laughing response.
"Have patience, Lieutenant."

"All right, I will." Sturdily dismissing her curiosity, Marjorie began a
detailed account of the afternoon's labor, which lasted until Mr. Dean
came rollicking in and engaged Marjorie in a rough-and-tumble romp that
left her flushed and laughing.

Despite her many errands of good will and charity, the next two days
dragged interminably. On Christmas Eve Mr. Dean took his family and Mary
to the theatre to see a play that had had a long, successful run in New
York City the previous season and was now doomed to the road. After the
play they stopped at Sargent's for a late supper. Under Mr. Dean's
genial influence Mary thawed a trifle and even went so far as to address
Marjorie several times, to the latter's utter amazement. This was in
reality the beginning of Mrs. Dean's carefully laid plan. Marjorie
guessed as much and wondered hopefully as to what might happen next.

Nothing special occurred that evening, however, except that Mary bade
her a curt "good night." But Marjorie hugged even that short utterance
to her heart and went to sleep in a buoyantly hopeful state of mind.

She was awakened the next morning by a military tattoo, rapped on her
door by energetic fingers. "Report to the living room for duty,"
commanded a purposely gruff voice, which she was not slow to recognize.

"Merry Christmas, General," she called. "Lieutenant Dean will report in
the living room in about three minutes." Hopping out of bed she reached
for her bath robe. Then the sound of tapping fingers again came to her
ears. This time they were on Mary's door. Hastily drawing on stockings
and bed-room slippers, she sped from her room and down the stairs. Her
father stood stiffly at the foot of the stairway in his most
general-like manner. She saluted and came to attention. A moment or two
of waiting followed, then Mary appeared at the head of the stairs. She
began to descend slowly, but Mr. Dean called out, "No lagging in the
line," and long obedience to orders served to make her quicken her pace.

"Twos right, march," ordered Mr. Dean, motioning toward the living room.

Wonderingly the company of two obeyed. Then two pairs of eyes were
fastened upon a curious object that stood upright in the middle of the
living-room table. It was a good-sized flag of pure white.

"Form ranks!" came the order.

Two girlish figures lined up, side by side.

"Salute the Flag of Truce," commanded the wily General.

Mary gave an audible gasp of sheer amazement. Marjorie laughed outright.

"Silence in the ranks," bellowed the stern commandant. "Pay strict
attention to what I am about to say. In time of war it sometimes becomes
necessary to hoist a flag of truce. This means a suspense of
hostilities. The flag of truce is hoisted in this house for all day. It
will remain so until twelve o'clock to-night. Respect it. Now break
ranks and we'll enjoy our Christmas presents. I hope my army hasn't
forgotten its worthy General!"

"Mary," Marjorie's voice trembled. Tears blurred her brown eyes. "It's
Christmas morning. Will you kiss me?"

Mary was possessed with a contrary desire to turn and rush upstairs. She
felt dimly that to kiss Marjorie was to declare peace against her will.
But her better nature whispered to her not to ruin the peace of
Yuletide. She would respect the flag of truce for one day. Then she
could give Marjorie the ring she had bought for her before coming to
Sanford and laid away for Christmas. Afterward she would show her that
she had softened merely for the time being. She returned Marjorie's
affectionate kiss rather coolly. Nevertheless, the ice was broken.

Five minutes later she found herself running upstairs for her presents
for the Deans in an almost happy mood, and she joined in the present
giving with a heartiness that was far from forced. Once she had ceased
to resist Marjorie's winning advances she was completely drawn into the
divine spirit of the occasion, and she allowed herself to drift once
more into the dear channel of bygone friendship.

Marjorie fairly bubbled over with exuberant happiness. The unbelievable
had come to pass. She and Mary were once more chums. She longed to tell
Mary all that was in her heart, but refrained. For to-day it was better
to live on the surface of things. Later there would be plenty of time
for confidences. After breakfast she mentioned rather timidly that she
expected a call from Constance and little Charlie.

Mary received the statement with an apparent docility that brought
welcome relief to Marjorie. She was not sure of her chum on this one
point. When Constance and Charlie arrived at a little after ten o'clock,
burdened with gaily decked bundles, Marjorie's fears were set at rest.
To be sure, Mary showed no enthusiasm over Constance, but Charlie was a
different matter. She had conceived a strange, deep love for the quaint
little boy and spared no pains to entertain him. While she was putting
Marjorie's beautiful angora cat, Ruffle, through a series of cunning
little tricks, which he performed with sleepy indolence, Marjorie
managed to say to Constance, "I can't come to see you to-night, Connie.
I'll explain some day soon. You understand."

Constance nodded wisely. Nothing could have induced her to mar the
reconciliation which had evidently taken place. "Come when you can," she
murmured. Generously leaving herself out of the question, she purposely
shortened her stay, although Charlie pleaded to remain.

"I'll come again soon," he assured Mary, as he was being towed off by
his sister's determined hand. "I like you almost as well as Connie."

Marjorie's glorious day was over all too soon. She hovered about Mary
with a friendly solicitude that could not be denied. The latter
graciously allowed her the privilege, but behind her pleasant manner
there was a hint of reserve, which did not dawn upon Marjorie until late
that evening. At first she reproached herself for even imagining it, but
as bedtime approached the conviction grew that when twelve o'clock came
Mary would again resume her hostile attitude.

"It is time taps was sounded," reminded Mr. Dean, looking up from his
book, as the grandfather's clock in the living room pointed half past
eleven. Mrs. Dean sat placidly reading a periodical.

"We'll obey you, General, as soon as we've finished our game." Marjorie
looked up from the backgammon board at which she and Mary were seated.
It had always been a favorite game with them and Marjorie had proposed
playing to relieve the curious sensation of apprehension that was
gradually settling down upon her.

It was five minutes to twelve when she put the board away. Mary had
strolled to the living-room door. Pausing for an instant she said, as
though reciting a lesson, "I've had a lovely day. Thank you all for my
presents." Without waiting for replies, she turned and mounted the
stairs. The sound of a door, closed with certain decision, floated down
to the three in the living room.

Marjorie walked slowly to the table, and drawing the flag of truce from
its improvised standard, handed it to her father. "I knew it would end
like that, General," she commented sadly. "I felt it coming all evening.
Just the same it was a splendid plan, and I thank you for it." She
lingered lovingly to kiss her father and mother good night, then marched
to her room with a brave face. But as she passed the door that had once
more been closed against her she vowed within herself that from this
moment forth she would cease to mourn for the "friendship" of a girl who
was so heartless as Mary Raymond.



It had been Mary Raymond's firm intention when she closed her door that
Christmas night to resume hostilities the next day. But when she met
Marjorie at breakfast the following morning, her desire for continued
warfare had vanished. Some tense chord within her stubborn soul had
snapped. Looking back on yesterday she realized that it had not been
worth while. Now her proud spirit cried for peace. She wished she had
not been so ready to doubt her chum's loyalty and with a curious
revulsion of feeling she began to long for a reinstatement into her

But her perfunctory "good night" had cost her more than she dreamed. It
had awakened a tardy resentment in Marjorie's hitherto forgiving heart
that she could not readily efface. Outwardly Marjorie seemed the same.
She returned Mary's greeting pleasantly enough, showing nothing of the
surprise it had given her. Mary was not destined to learn for some time
to come that a reaction had taken place.

Mr. and Mrs. Dean were relieved to find that Marjorie's prediction was
not verified. To all appearances the two girls had definitely resumed
their old, friendly footing. Only Marjorie knew differently, but she did
not intend then or on any future occasion to betray herself, even to her

As the winter days glided swiftly along the road to Spring, it was
circulated about among Marjorie's intimate friends that she and Mary had
settled their differences. Keen-eyed Jerry Macy, however, had seen
deeper than her classmates. Although Mary now occasionally walked home
with them or accompanied them to Sargent's, spending considerably less
time with Mignon, Jerry was quick to feel rather than note the slight
reserve Marjorie exhibited toward Mary. "Don't you believe they've made
up," she declared to Irma Linton. "Mary may think they have, but they
haven't. I guess Marjorie's grown tired of Mary's nonsense. I'm glad of
it. She's a silly little goose, I mean Mary, and she's lost more than
she thinks."

It was on a sunny afternoon in late March, however, before Mary was
rudely jolted into the same conclusion. Mignon La Salle was also
possessed of "the seeing eye." Mary was no longer her devoted satellite,
although she still kept up an indifferent kind of friendship with the
French girl. Mignon soon divined the cause of her lagging allegiance.
"You are a little idiot, Mary Raymond, to follow Marjorie Dean about as
you do. She doesn't care a snap for you. She may treat you nicely, but
that's as far as it goes. She cares more for that miserable Stevens girl
in a minute than she cares for _you_ in a whole year. Why can't you let
her alone and chum with some one who appreciates you."

"I don't follow Marjorie about," contested Mary hotly. "I never go
anywhere with her unless she asks me."

"She merely does that through courtesy," shrugged Mignon. "I suppose she
thinks it her duty. She's a prig and I despise her."

Mary's face flamed at the obnoxious word "duty." In a flash her mind
reviewed all that had passed since that memorable Christmas day. Her
cheeks grew hotter at the brutal truth of Mignon's words.

"If you think I care anything about her, you have made a mistake," she
retorted, stung to untruthfulness by the taunt. "I'll soon prove to you
that I don't."

"Stop running around with her and her wonderful friends and I'll believe
you," sneered Mignon.

"I will, if only to show you that I don't care," flung back the angry

"That's the way to talk," approved Mignon. She had kept but few friends
among the sophomores since that fatal practice game and she did not
intend to lose Mary from her diminished circle. Besides, she was certain
that the Deans, one and all, did not approve of Mary's friendship with
her and it accorded her supreme pleasure to annoy them.

"I'm going to give a fancy dress party two weeks from Friday night," she
went on, with an abrupt change of subject. "Nearly all the girls I'm
intending to invite are juniors and seniors. We'll have a glorious time.
I don't have to strip our living room of furniture for a place to dance.
I have a _real_ ballroom in my home. I'll send you an invitation in a
day or two."

Surely enough, three days after Mignon's announcement the invitation was
duly delivered to Mary through the mail. She read it listlessly. She was
not keen about attending the party. Marjorie merely smiled when Mary
showed her the invitation and briefly announced her intention of going.
She graciously offered the Snow White costume she had worn at the
masquerade of the previous Spring. Mary declined it coldly. She had not
forgotten Mignon's taunts. Since then she had kept strictly to herself,
steadily refusing Marjorie's polite invitations to accompany her here
and there. Earlier in the year Marjorie would have grieved in secret
over this frostiness, but Marjorie had hardened her gentle heart and now
fancied that Mary's movements were of small concern to her. And so the
wall of misunderstanding towered higher and higher.

Mrs. Dean willingly helped Mary plan a cunning little girl costume, and
when on the night of the party she entered the living room in obedience
to her Captain's call, "Come here and let us see how you look, Mary," a
lump rose in Marjorie's throat. In her short, white, embroidered frock,
with its Dutch neck and wide, blue ribbon sash, she looked precisely
like the pretty child that she had been when she and Marjorie played
"house" together in the Raymonds' backyard. The blue silk stockings and
heelless, blue kid slippers emphasized the babyish effect of her
costume, and Marjorie had hard work to keep back her tears. But Mary
could not read that sudden rush of emotion in the calm, uncritical face
which Marjorie turned to her.

Mignon had sent her runabout for Mary and it was a trifle after eight
o'clock when the La Salle's chauffeur drove up the wide, handsome
driveway to Mignon's home. It was an unusually mild evening in April and
as they neared the port-cochere, a slim figure in gypsy dress ran down
the steps. "I've been watching for you," called Mignon, as Mary stepped
from the runabout. "The musicians are here and so are most of the girls.
I can't imagine why the boys don't come. Only six have appeared, so far.
We've had one dance," she went on crossly. "Some of the girls had to
dance together. Wasn't that horrid? Take off your cloak and let me see
your costume. It's sweet."

The chauffeur had disappeared and the two girls stood for an instant at
the foot of the steps.

Advancing suddenly out of the darkness marched a sturdy little figure.
Under its arm was thrust a diminutive violin case. "How do you do?" it
greeted with a quaint, bobbing bow. "I comed to play in the band."

With a quick exclamation of surprise, Mary Raymond darted toward the
tiny youngster. "Charlie Stevens!" she gasped. "What are you doing away
over here after dark?"

"I comed to play in the band," repeated Charlie with a jubilant wave of
his violin case that almost sent it hurtling from his baby fingers.
"Uncle John comed and so I comed, too."

Mary knelt on the driveway and gathered him into her round, young arms.
"Listen to Mary, dear little boy. Did Charlie run away?" She had heard
from Marjorie of Charlie's frequent attempts to sally forth to conquer
the world with his violin.

The child's sensitive face clouded. His lip quivered. "Connie says I
have to always tell the truth," he wailed. "I runned away because I have
to play in the big band. A man comed to see Uncle John this afternoon. I
heard him talk about the band. Uncle John comed to play in it, so I
comed, too. Only he didn't see me. I kept behind him till he got to the
gate. Then after a while I comed, too!"

Mignon La Salle stood watching the wailing aspirant for the "big band"
with frowning eyes. "I suppose this ridiculous child belongs to those
Stevens," she sneered.

"Ain't a 'diclus child," contradicted Charlie with dignity. "I'm a
mesishun. I can play the fiddle. I like Mary. I don't like you."

"I have heard that this Stevens boy was an idiot. Now I believe it,"
snapped Mignon. "I suppose I'll have to take him in until some one comes
after him. I didn't know his uncle was to be one of the musicians. If I
had, I would have made the leader hire some other man. I sha'n't tell
his uncle that he's here. He's hired to play for my dance, not to waste
his time taking a simpleton home. It's a perfect nuisance."

Her long hoop ear-rings swung and shook with the vehemence of her

Mary Raymond's face changed from red to white as she listened to the
French girl's callous speech. A lover of all children, she could not
endure the slight put upon this tiny boy. She straightened up with an
alacrity that nearly threw Charlie off his balance. Her blue eyes
flashed with righteous wrath. "How can you be so harsh with this cunning
boy?" she cried. "He isn't an idiot or a simpleton! He's as bright
as--as----" (courtesy conquered) "as any child of his age. Why, he's
only a baby. He's not going into your house, either, to wait for his
family to find him. He's going home now, and I'm going to take him."

"You can't go very far in that short dress and those thin slippers,"
mocked Mignon. "Don't be a silly. Bring him in, I say, and hurry. I must
go back to my guests."

"Please go to them," Mary spoke in icily dignified tones. "As for me, I
have my cloak." She held forth one bare arm on which swung her long,
gray evening cape. "I should never forgive myself if I neglected this
little tot. I'm sorry to be so rude, but I can't help it. I'm going now.
Good night. Come, Charlie." Wrapping her cloak about her, Mary gently
disengaged the violin case from Charlie's clutch, tucked it under one
arm and took firm hold of the youngster's hand. Charlie was still
regarding Mignon's swaying ear-rings with childish fascination.

"You are a orful naughty girl," he pouted reproachfully.

"If you leave me now to take that impudent child home, I'll never speak
to you again," threatened Mignon, her black eyes snapping.

"Very well. You may do as you please," was Mary's laconic response over
her shoulder. She had already started down the driveway with her
venturesome charge. The little boy had been momentarily awed into
silence at Mignon's menacing features.

"She's a cross girl," he observed calmly, as he marched along beside
Mary, "but we don't care, do we?"

"_No_, we _don't_," came emphatically from Mary's lips. And she meant



Although Mary Raymond had deliberately snapped the chain that bound her
to Mignon La Salle, she now found herself confronted by a far more
difficult task. How was she to return little Charlie to Gray Gables
without meeting Constance Stevens or another member of her family? It
was not yet nine o'clock. It was, therefore, barely possible that
Charlie had not been missed. Perhaps Constance and her aunt were not at
home. It stood to reason that if they had been, Charlie would never have
succeeded in slipping away and following John Roland to his evening's

Once outside the La Salle's gate, Mary paused uncertainly. Charlie
tugged impatiently at her hand. "Come on, Mary. Take Charlie home," he

Apparently unmindful of the child's presence, Mary stood still, staring
thoughtfully up and down the moonlit street. It was an unusually mild
night for that time of year, and the ground was bare of snow. March was
in a deceptive, springlike mood, smiling and sunny by day, with the
merest touch of snappiness by night. Nevertheless, it was scarcely an
occasion for a walk in thin kid slippers and silk stockings, and Mary
shivered slightly as she stood there trying to decide what was to be

"Listen to Mary, Charlie boy," she began suddenly, bending down and
looking seriously into the child's bright, black eyes. "Where were
Connie and Auntie when you ran away?"

"_They_ runned away from Charlie," was the prompt reply, given with an
aggrieved pout. "Charlie wanted to go, too, and Connie said 'no.' They
wented to the the'ter where the band plays all the time."

"And where was nurse?"

"She wented away, too, but Connie didn't know it. She thought Charlie
didn't know, either. But she told Bessie, and Charlie heard."

"So, that is the reason," murmured Mary. Then she said to Charlie, "If
Mary takes you home will you promise her something?"

"Yes," nodded Charlie.

"Then promise Mary that you won't tell anyone you ran away, or that Mary
brought you home."

"Aren't you going to tell Connie that Charlie was a naughty boy?" came
the anxious question.

"No, not unless someone sees Charlie when he goes home and asks about

"Then Charlie won't tell, either," was the calm response. The boy was
proving himself anything but a simpleton.

"All right. Now we must hurry." Mary took firm hold of the tiny hand and
the two started for Gray Gables as fast as the boy's small feet would
permit of walking. It was not far from the La Salle's home to Gray
Gables. Mary was thankful for that. Not in the least oppressed with a
sense of his own shortcomings, Charlie kept up an animated conversation
during the short walk. He even proposed stopping in the middle of the
street to demonstrate for her special edification his prowess as a
fiddler. Mary vetoed this proposal, however. She was bent on reaching
Gray Gables as soon as possible.

Just inside the grounds she halted and viewed the house with speculative
eyes. Lights gleamed from the hall, the living room, and from one
upstairs window. Then, with Charlie's hand still in hers, she walked
boldly up the driveway and mounted the steps. Within the shielding
shadow of the veranda she paused for a long moment and listened. Turning
to the child she laid her finger on her lips with a gesture of silence.
Charlie beamed understandingly. Mary's strange behavior was as
interesting to him as though it were a new game invented for his
pleasure. He entered completely into the spirit of it.

"Now," whispered the girl, "Mary is going to ring the bell and run away.
Charlie must stand still and wait until someone opens the door. If no
one comes, Charlie must ring the bell again. And remember, he mustn't
tell who brought him home!"

"Charlie won't tell," gravely assured the youngster.

Mary pressed a firm finger on the bell and held it there for a second.
Then she darted down the steps, around a corner of the house and across
a wide stretch of frozen lawn. She remembered that she could climb the
low fence at the back of the grounds, cut across a field which lay below
them and emerge on a small street not far from the Deans' home. She did
not pause for breath until she reached the street she had in mind.
Flushed and panting from her wild flight it was several minutes before
she could compose herself sufficiently to go on toward home. Luckily for
her she met but two persons, a boy of perhaps fifteen and a laboring
man. Neither gave her more than the merest glance.

But her last ordeal was yet to come. What would Marjorie and her mother
think when they saw her? They would immediately guess that something
unusual must have happened to bring her home from the party before it
had hardly more than begun. Her recent experience had left her in no
mood for explanations. She decided to try slipping quietly in at the
rear door of the house. There was, of course, a possibility that it
might be locked, but if it were not--so much the better for her.

There was an instant of breathless suspense as she noiselessly turned
the knob. It yielded to her touch, and she stole into the kitchen and up
the back stairs like an unsubstantial shadow of the night, rather than a
very tired and sore-hearted girl. Once in her room she sat down on her
bed to think things over. She dared not move about for fear of being
heard by Marjorie or her mother. Long she sat, moodily reviewing the
year that had promised so much, yet had yielded her nothing but
dissension and sorrow. One bare, ugly fact confronted her, looming up
like a hideous monster whose dreadful claws had shredded her peace of
mind and now waved at her the tattered fragments. It had all been her
fault. For the first time she saw herself as she really was. A jealous,
suspicious, hateful girl. It was she, not Marjorie, who had been
unfaithful to friendship. But she had gone on blindly, unreasoningly,
preferring to think the worst, until now it was too late to bridge the
gap that she had daily widened between herself and her chum by her
absurd jealousy. She could never regain her lost ground. She felt that
Marjorie's patience with her had long since been exhausted. She dared
not, could not, plead for reinstatement. All that remained to be done
was to go through the rest of that dreadful year alone. When she and
Marjorie had finished their sophomore course she would go quietly away,
and they would, perhaps, never meet again.

Alone with her bitter remorse, Mary wept until she could cry no more.
As is usually the case with youth, she was sweeping in her
self-condemnation. But that bitter hour of self-revelation did more to
arouse within her the determination to conquer herself and establish the
foundation for a noble womanhood than she could possibly believe.

At last she pulled herself together to play the final scene in her
evening's drama. Mrs. Dean had given her a latchkey, in order that she
might let herself into the house, should she return from the party after
the Deans had retired. At half-past ten o'clock she heard Marjorie and
her mother come up the stairs to their rooms. Mr. Dean was away from
home on a business trip. When all sounds of conversation between the two
women had ceased and the house had apparently settled down for the
night, Mary crept softly out of her room and down the stairs. Opening
the hall door with stealthy fingers, she stepped into the vestibule. She
listened intently for a sign from above that her soft-footed journey
down the stairs had been discovered. But none came. Turning deliberately
about, she retraced her steps, closing the hall door with sufficient
force to announce her arrival. Without attempt at stealth she walked
across the hall, up the stairs and into the pretty blue room that she
had lately left. The closing of her own door purposely sounded her home

"Is that you, Mary?" called Marjorie's voice from the next room.

Mary trembled with positive relief at the signal success of her
manoeuver. Steadying her voice, she replied, "Yes, it is I."

"Did you have a nice time?"

Mary read merely polite inquiry in the tone. It lacked Marjorie's former
warmth and affection.

"Not particularly." Impulsively she added, "I missed you, Marjorie. I'm
sorry you weren't there." Breathlessly she waited for a response.

But Marjorie was only human. Resentment against Mignon, rather than
Mary, permeated her reply. "It's nice in you to say so, but I am very
glad I wasn't there. I should consider an invitation to Mignon La
Salle's party as anything but an honor." It was the first deliberately
cutting speech that Marjorie Dean had ever uttered. Realizing its
cruelty she called out contritely, "That was hateful in me, Mary. Please
forget what I said."

"Oh, it doesn't matter. Good night." Mary managed to force the
indifferent answer. She felt that she deserved even this and more. She
was rapidly learning to her sorrow that, when one plants nettles, in
time they are sure to grow up and sting.



When Marjorie Dean went down to breakfast the following morning it was
with the feeling that her sharp answer to Mary's unexpected comments of
the night before had been unworthy of her better self. Mary's reply,
"Oh, it doesn't matter," had somehow sounded wistful rather than
indifferent. To be sure, Mary had literally forced upon her the reserved
stand which she had at last taken. Yet underneath her proud attitude of
distant courtesy toward the girl who had once taken first place in her
friendship still lurked the faint hope of reconciliation. But she had
made her last advance on that memorable Christmas day when Mary had
shown her so plainly that she respected the flag of truce for the day
only and had returned to her former state of antagonism at the first
opportunity. In the beginning it had been hard to stifle her impulsive
nature, and appear courteous yet wholly unconcerned regarding her chum's
welfare, but in time she found it comparatively easy. Friendship was
dying hard, yet it _was_ dying, nevertheless. This thought had startled
Marjorie a little as she recalled how easy it had been to be
disagreeable, where once it would have seemed absolutely impossible to
allow those cutting words to pass her lips. It came soberly to her that
morning as she walked into the dining room that, after all, she did not
wish that friendship to die. Something must be done to keep it alive
until Mary was quite herself again.

The faint line of concern which appeared between her dark brows deepened
as this latest conviction took hold of her. As she pondered, the object
of her thoughts appeared in the doorway. Mary's face wore an air of
listlessness that quite corresponded with her subdued, "Good morning,
Marjorie. Good morning, Captain."

"You look all tired out, my dear," remarked Mrs. Dean solicitously.
There was a curiously pathetic droop to Mary's mouth which gave her the
appearance of a very tired child who had played too hard and was ready
to be put to bed, rather than to begin the day's round of events. "Did
you dance too much?"

"No." A peculiar little smile flickered across the girl's pale features.
She wondered what Mrs. Dean would say if she told her just how she had
spent her evening.

Marjorie regarded Mary almost curiously. In some indefinable way she had
changed. Then it flashed across her that Mary's usual stubborn
expression had given place to one of distinct sadness. With a kindly
endeavor toward lightening her chum's heavy mood, she tried to draw her
out to talk of the party. She met with little success. As Mary, in
reality, knew nothing further of it than the fact that Mignon had worn a
gypsy costume and that the majority of the boys invited had not put in
an appearance, she was hardly prepared to describe the affair. She,
therefore, answered Marjorie's questions in brief monosyllables and
volunteered no information whatever.

"I am going over to see Jerry Macy this morning. Would you like to go
with me?" asked Marjorie, after her attempt to discuss the party had
proved futile.

"No; I thank you just the same. I have several things to buy at the
stores, and then I am going for a walk. I would ask you to go with me,
only you are going to Jerry's."

"I'd love to," a touch of Marjorie's old heartiness came to the surface,
"but I promised Jerry I'd surely go to see her to-day."

"Perhaps we can take a walk some other day," remarked Mary vaguely as
they rose from the table.

"I will take you both for a ride this afternoon, if you are good,"
volunteered Mrs. Dean. She had been observing the signs. She decided,
within herself, that matters were assuming a more hopeful turn. Yet she
had long since left the two girls to work out their problem in their own

"That will be splendid!" cried Marjorie.

"I should like to go," acceded Mary almost shyly.

Mrs. Dean smiled to herself and saw light ahead. The barrier seemed
about to crumble.

But as the days went by, both she and Marjorie grew puzzled over the
change in blue-eyed Mary. She had, indeed, lost her belligerent spirit
of animosity, but a profound melancholy had settled down upon her like a
pall. Gradually it became noised about in school that Mary Raymond and
Mignon La Salle were no longer on speaking terms. Why this was so, no
one knew. Mary was mute on the subject. For once, also, the French girl
had nothing to say. As it happened, she believed that no one of the
guests had witnessed the scene between herself and Mary, and to try to
relate it, even with emendations of her own, would hardly redound to her
credit. She was too shrewd not to know that the average person resents
an affront against childhood. Then, too, Constance Stevens was making
rapid strides toward popularity among the girls of Sanford High School
and her cowardly nature warned her to be silent. But her chief reason
for silence lay in the fact that Mary had curtly informed her on the
Monday morning following the party that she had seen Charlie safely
home, that so far as she could learn his family did not know who had
escorted him home, and that if she, Mignon, were wise she would say
nothing whatever of the occurrence. Without further words, Mary had
walked away, but that same afternoon she had removed her wraps to
another locker, a significant sign that she was done with the French
girl forever.

When it came to Marjorie's ears that Mary and Mignon had quarreled, she
decided a trifle sadly that Mary's melancholy was due to the French
girl's defection. She was sure that, whatever the quarrel had been
about, Mignon was to blame. Until then she had never quite believed in
the sincerity of Mary's affection for this unscrupulous, headstrong
girl, and it hurt her to see Mary take the estrangement so to heart.

She said as much to Constance Stevens as they walked home from school
together on the Monday following the Easter vacation. To Marjorie the
Easter holidays had been a continuous succession of good times. She had
attended half a dozen parties given by her various schoolmates, and
numerous luncheons and teas. To all these Mary had received invitations
also. She had politely declined them, however, going on long, lonely
walks by day and moping in the living room or her own room by night.

"Somehow," Marjorie confided to Constance, "I never believed Mary could
be so deceived in a person. But she must think a lot of Mignon, or she
wouldn't be so dreadfully sad all the time."

"It's queer," mused Constance. "I don't think she knows to this day the
truth about last year."

"I am sure she doesn't. Mary is really too honorable to stand by
a--a--person that you and I know isn't worthy of loyalty. That sounds
rather hard, especially from one of the reform party. But I can't help
it. I am quite ready to say and mean it, Mignon La Salle hasn't a better
self. She never had one!"

"It hasn't been very pleasant for you this year, has it?" was
Constance's sympathizing question. "It's too bad. After all the nice
things we had planned. Sometimes I think it is better not to make plans.
They never turn out as one hopes they will."

"I know it," rejoined Marjorie with a sigh. "Jerry Macy says that Mary
has something on her mind besides Mignon."

"Perhaps she is sorry that she----" Constance hesitated.

"That we aren't chums any more?" finished Marjorie. "I don't think so.
If she had been truly sorry she would have come to me and said so. I
thought so the day after Mignon's party. Then I heard that they had
quarreled, and I changed my opinion." There was a faint touch of
bitterness in Marjorie's speech. "Suppose we don't talk of it any more.
I wish to forget it, if I can. It doesn't do much good to mourn over
what can't and won't be changed. Did Jerry tell you that Laurie Armitage
has finished his operetta? Professor Harmon is going to have a try-out
of voices in the gymnasium next Saturday morning."

"Laurie told me himself. He brought the score of the operetta to Gray
Gables last night and we tried it over on the piano. The music is
beautiful. It is so tuneful it lingers. I've been humming snatches of it
ever since he played it for me. The 'Rebellious Princess' has some
wonderful songs. That clever young man, Eric Darrow, composed the
libretto and thought out the plot. It's about a princess who grew tired
of staying at home in her father's castle and going to state dinners and
receptions, so she put on the dress of a peasant girl and ran away from
the castle to see the world. She took some gold with her, but it was
stolen from her the very first thing. No one paid any attention to her
because she was poor, and she had a dreadfully hard time. But she was so
stubborn she wouldn't go back to her father and say she was sorry, so
she wandered on until her clothes were ragged and her shoes were worn
out. Then an old woman took the poor princess to live with her and she
had to work terribly hard and wait on the woman's daughter, who loved
nothing but pretty clothes and to have a good time. No one was good to
her except the woman's adopted son, who was left on her doorstep when he
was a baby. At last the princess grew so tired of it all she went back
to her father, but to punish her he pretended he didn't know her. So
she had to go away again, but the woman's son had followed her and when
he saw her leave the castle, crying, he told her he loved her and asked
her to marry him. She said 'yes,' because he was the only person in the
world who cared for her. But her father hadn't really intended that she
should go away. He sent his courtiers after her to bring her back to the
castle. She wanted to go back, but she wouldn't go unless the young man
went with her. When he found out that she was really a great princess he
said he would never dare to ask her to marry him. But she said that true
love was better than all the wealth in the world, and she would not go
back unless he went with her, and so he said he would go. That is where
the operetta ends. They sing a duet, 'True Love Is Best,' and you have
to imagine what the king said. There isn't so much in the plot, but it
is very sweet, and the music is delightful," finished Constance.

"I know I shall love to hear it!" exclaimed Marjorie. "I do hope you
will be chosen to sing the part of the princess."

Constance flushed. "Laurie wishes me to have it," she said almost
humbly. "But there are sure to be others who can sing it better than I.
However, the try-out will settle that. At any rate, I may be chosen for
a court lady in the chorus. I hope you'll be in it, too."

"I can't sing well enough," laughed Marjorie. "But I'll be there on
Saturday, and perhaps I'll be lucky enough to get into it somehow. Won't
it be fun to rehearse? Hal Macy ought to have a part. He has a splendid
tenor voice, and the Crane can sing bass. I can hardly wait until
Saturday comes. I am so anxious to see who will be chosen."

Marjorie's pleasant anxiety was shared by the majority of the girls of
Sanford High School. The proposed operetta became the chief topic for
discussion as the unusually long week dragged interminably along toward
that fateful Saturday. Even the high and mighty seniors condescended to
become interested. Among their number, more than one ambitious seeker
after fame secretly imagined herself as carrying off the rôle of the
Rebellious Princess, and conducted assiduous practice of much neglected
scales in the hope of glory to come.

As the star singer of her class, Constance Stevens' name was often
brought up for discussion among her classmates as the possibly
successful contestant in the try-out. Besides, was it not Lawrence
Armitage's opera? It was generally known that the dark-haired,
dreamy-eyed lad had a decided predeliction for Constance's society.
Rumor, therefore, decreed that if Laurie Armitage had the say, Constance
would have no trouble in carrying off the leading rôle.

But the most determined aspirant for fame was none other than Mignon La
Salle. With her usual slyness, she kept her own counsel. Nevertheless,
she believed she stood a fair chance of winning the prize of which she
dreamed. For Mignon could sing. From childhood her father had spared no
expense in the matter of her musical education. An ardent lover of
music he had decreed that Mignon should be initiated into the mysteries
of the piano when a tiny girl, and, although Mr. La Salle had allowed
her undisputed liberty to grow up as she pleased, on one point he was
firm. Mignon must not merely study music; she must each day practice the
required number of hours. In the beginning she had rebelled, but finding
her too indulgent parent adamant in this one particular, she had been
forced to bow her obstinate head to his decree. In consequence she
profited by the enforced practice hours to the extent of becoming a
really creditable performer on the piano for a girl of her years. At
fourteen she had begun vocal training. Possessed of a strong, clear,
soprano voice, three years under the direction of competent instructors
had done much for her, and, although she was far too selfish to use her
fine voice merely to give pleasure to others, she never allowed an
opportunity to pass wherein she might win public approval by her

The mere fact that "The Rebellious Princess" was Lawrence Armitage's own
composition served to spur her on to conquest. Given the leading rôle,
she believed that she might awaken in the young man a distinct
appreciation of herself which hitherto he had never demonstrated toward
her. Once she had brought him to a tardy realization of her superiority
over Constance Stevens, by outsinging the latter, along with all the
other contestants, she was certain that admiration for herself as a
singer would blot out any unpleasant impression he might earlier have
conceived of her. She had heard that "the Stevens girl" could sing. It
was to be doubted, however, if her voice amounted to much. Another point
in her favor lay in the fact that Professor Harmon was a close friend of
her father. He would surely give her the preference.

But while she dreamed of triumphantly holding the center of the stage
before a spellbound audience, her rival to be, Constance Stevens, was
seriously debating within herself regarding the wisdom of even entering
the contest. Of a distinctly retiring nature, Constance was not eager to
enter the lists. On the Friday afternoon before the try-out she was
still undecided, and when the afternoon session of school was over, and
she and the five girls with whom she spent most of her leisure hours
were walking down the street, headed for Sargent's and its never-failing
supply of sweets, she was curiously silent amid the gay chatter of her

"I suppose you girls know that our dear Mignon has designs on the
Princess," announced Jerry Macy, with the elaborate carelessness of one
who gives forth important news as the commonest every-day matter.

"Mignon!" exclaimed Marjorie Dean in amazement. "I never even knew she
could sing."

"She thinks she can," shrugged Muriel Harding. "Goodness knows she ought
to. She has studied for ages. I'm surprised to hear that she is going to
enter the try-out, considering it's Laurie's operetta. You know just how
much he likes her. She knows, too."

"Who told you, Jerry?" quizzed Susan Atwell. "The way you gather news
is positively marvelous. Was it big brother Hal?"

"No, he doesn't know it. If I told him, he'd tell Laurie and Laurie
would promptly have a spasm. One of the girls in the senior class
mentioned it to me."

"Mignon really sings well," put in Irma. "Don't you remember the time
she sang at Muriel's party, two years ago? She has been studying ever
since. She must have improved a good deal since then."

"Oh, I've heard her sing more than once," said Jerry Macy, "but I don't
like her voice. It's--well, it isn't sweet and sympathetic."

"Neither is she," put in Susan with her customary giggle.

"Wait until Connie sings at the try-out. Then someone can gently lead
Mignon to a back seat," predicted Jerry. "It would give me a good deal
of pleasure to be that 'someone.'"

"I don't think I shall enter the try-out," remarked Constance, flushing.

"Why not?" was the questioning chorus.

"Oh, I don't know, only I just don't care to. If I do, someone might say
that I went into it because----" She hesitated, and the flush on her
cheeks deepened.

"Because you expected Laurie to choose you, you mean," finished Jerry.

"Yes; that is what I meant," admitted Constance. "Of course, I know
there are other girls who are better singers than I, and that I couldn't
possibly be chosen. Still, I'd rather not go into it at all, unless I
could just be in the chorus."

"You are a goose; a nice, dear goose, but a goose, just the same," was
Jerry's plain sentiment.

"Connie Stevens, if you don't try for that part, I'll never speak to you
again," threatened Muriel.

"I'll disown you," added Susan in mock menace.

"Connie," Marjorie's voice vibrated with sudden energy, "I think you
_ought_ to try for the Princess. I am almost sure no other girl in
Sanford High can sing so beautifully. Then there is Laurie. He has
always been nice to you. It would hurt his feelings dreadfully if you
didn't try for a part in his operetta. Besides, I know it sounds
hateful, but I can't help saying that I'd be glad to see you take the
Princess away from Mignon. That is, if she really stands a good chance
of winning it. I suppose that is what Miss Archer would call 'an ignoble
sentiment,' but I mean it, just the same." Marjorie glanced half
defiantly around the bright-eyed circle. They were now in Sargent's,
seated about their favorite table.

"Hurrah for you, Marjorie!" cried Jerry, flourishing her hand as though
it were a pennant of triumph. "That's what I say, too. You are really a
human, everyday person, after all. I used to think you were almost too
forgiving toward certain persons, but now I can see that you aren't such
a model forgiver, after all."

"That is rather a doubtful compliment, isn't it?" laughed Marjorie.

"Frankness is the soul of virtue," jeered Muriel.

"Oh, now, you know what I mean," protested Jerry, looking somewhat
sheepish. "You girls do like to tease me. All right, I'll do the
forgiving act and order the refreshments. I'll pay for them, too. I've a
whole dollar. I am supposed to buy some stationery with it, but I'll
just let my correspondence languish and treat instead. Name your eat and
you can have it. Fifteen cents apiece is your limit. I need the other
ten to buy stamps."

"What is the use in buying stamps if you don't intend to correspond?"
put in Irma mischievously.

"I might need them some day," was Jerry's calm retort. "Besides, if I
don't spend the ten cents I may lose it. Now the bureau of information
is closed. Order your fifteen cents' worth!"

After changing their minds several times in rapid succession to the
infinite disgust of the waitress, the sextette finally made unanimous
decision for a new concoction in the way of a fruit lemonade, known as
Sargent Nectar.

"Now," announced Jerry, as the long-suffering waitress deposited the
tall glasses on the table and retired to the back of the room to grumble
uncomplimentary comments to a fellow-worker on the ways of high school
girls who didn't know their own minds, "let us all drink a toast to Miss
Connie Stevens, the celebrated star of 'The Rebellious Princess.' But
remember, we can't drink it until the star says she will shine.

    "'Twinkle, twinkle, little star,
      Shall we see you from afar?
      On the Sanford stage so shy,
      For the fame of Sanford High.'

"Who says I'm not a poet?"

"Connie, you can't resist that poetic appeal," giggled Susan.

Constance's blue eyes shone misty affection upon the circle of fresh,
young faces, alight with the honest desire for her success. Her voice
trembled a little as she said: "I'll take it all back, girls. Now that I
know just how you feel about the try-out, _I'd_ be an ungrateful girl to
say I wouldn't do my best. I'll sing to-morrow, but if I'm not chosen,
please don't be disappointed."

"To Connie, our Princess! Long may she warble!" Jerry raised her glass
of lemonade. "Drink her down!"



It was a buzzing and excited assemblage of young men and women that
gathered in the gymnasium of Weston High School on Saturday morning for
the much-discussed try-out. As it had been strictly enjoined upon the
students of both high schools that unless they desired to take part in
the coming operetta their presence was not requested, nor would it be
permitted, on the momentous occasion, the great room was only
comfortably filled. Weston High School was represented by not more than
twenty-five or thirty ambitious aspirants for fame, but at least a
hundred girls from Sanford High cherished hopes of gaining admission to
the magic cast. After much discussion, Marjorie and her four friends had
decided to make a bold attempt at chorus celebrity, purely for the sake
of seeing what happened. Constance had earnestly urged them to do so,
declaring that she could not sing unless they were present to encourage

"I wonder if all this crowd expects to be chosen," was Jerry Macy's
blunt comment, as the sextette of girls stood grouped at one side of the
room, waiting for the affair to begin. "I hope I'm not asked to sing
alone. Not so much for my own sake. I hate to make other people feel
sad. I practised 'America' and 'Marching through Georgia' last night,
just to see what I could do. One of our maids came rushing into the
living room because she said she wondered who was making all that noise.
Then Hal poked his head in the door and asked if I was hurt. So I quit.
It was time."

Jerry's painful experience as a soloist provoked a burst of laughter
from her friends. It had hardly died away when Professor Harmon, a
stout, little man, with a shock of bushy hair and an expression of being
always on the alert, bustled in. With him came Lawrence Armitage and a
tall, dark-haired young man, a stranger to those present. The professor
trotted to the piano, opened it, held a hurried conference with his
companions, then, stepping forward, ran a searching eye over the
assembled boys and girls. The more ambitious contestants of both sexes
carried music rolls containing the selections they intended to offer,
but the majority of that carefree congregation aspired to nothing higher
than the chorus, looking upon the whole affair as a grand lark.

Professor Harmon proceeded to make a short speech, briefly outlining the
plot of the opera and stating the nature of the try-out. "We shall ask
those who wish to try for principals to step to that side of the room,"
he said, indicating the left. "I wish to hear them sing, first.
Afterward, I shall select the chorus, and hear them sing together."

"That lets me out," was Jerry's relieved, inelegant comment to
Susan Atwell, as she moved to the right. Susan stifled an irrepressible
chuckle and sobered her face for what was to come.

Over among the groups of possible principals Constance became obsessed
with sudden shyness. The majority of the girls were of the upper
classes, and she felt lonely and ill at ease. She noted that she and
Mignon La Salle were the only representatives of the sophomore class.
Mignon, looking radiant self-possession in a smart old-rose suit and hat
to match, carried herself with the air of one whose success was already
assured. Her black eyes were snapping with excitement as they darted
from the professor to the two young men standing beside the piano. She
fingered her gray morocco music roll nervously, her thin fingers never

Stepping over to the piano the professor seated himself. "That young
lady on the right, please come to the piano." The girl indicated, a
dignified senior, obeyed the summons, coolly handed the professor her
music, stationed herself at his side and awaited trial with the air of a
Spartan. After a short prelude she began to sing a popular air that was
at that time going the round of Sanford. She sang one verse, then the
professor dropped his hands from the keys, inquired her name, made a
memorandum on a pad, and, dismissing her, signaled another girl to take
her place.

The try-out proceeded with a business-like snap that bade fair to end it
with speedy commission. So far nothing startling in the way of voices
had been discovered. Constance listened to the various girl soloists and
wondered if she could do as well as they. Mignon leaned far forward with
breathless interest. She was firmly convinced that her singing would
create a sensation. When at last her turn came, she walked boldly
forward. Professor Harmon smiled approval and encouragement. He desired
particularly to see her carry off the honor of the leading rôle. She
darted a lightning glance at Lawrence Armitage as she approached the
piano, but in his impassive features she could read neither approval nor

She had chosen a French song, full of difficult runs and trills, and it
may be set down here to her credit that she sang it well. As her clear,
but somewhat unsympathetic voice rang out, a faint murmur of
approbation swept the listeners. Her long training now stood her in good
stead. Professor Harmon allowed her to go on with her song, instead of
halting her in the middle of it, as he had in the case of the previous
aspirants. When she had finished singing, she was greeted with a round
of genuine applause, the first accorded to a singer since the beginning
of the try-out. The brilliancy of her performance could not be denied,
even by those who had reason to dislike her.

"Excellent, Miss La Salle," was Professor Harmon's tribute, as he handed
her her music. Flushing with pride of achievement, the French girl
returned to her place among the others, tingling with the sweetness of
her success.

There now remained not more than half a dozen untried soloists.
Constance Stevens was among that number. By this time Marjorie was
becoming a trifle anxious. There was just a chance that Connie might be
overlooked. Naturally retiring, she would be quite likely to make no
sign, were Professor Harmon to pass her by, under the impression that
she had already sung. But Marjorie's fears were needless. Constance had
a staunch friend at court. During the try-out Lawrence Armitage's blue
eyes had been frequently directed toward the quiet, fair-haired girl of
his choice. Locked in his boyish heart was a secret knowledge that he
had composed the operetta chiefly because he had wished Constance to
have the opportunity of singing the part of the Princess. He had
consented to the try-out merely to please Professor Harmon. He was
convinced that no other girl could compare with Constance in the matter
of voice. He was glad that she was to sing last, and a smile of proud
expectation played about his mouth as Professor Harmon abruptly cut off
an enterprising senior, the last contestant before Constance, in the
midst of a high note.

The smile quickly faded to an expression of dismay as he saw the
professor rise from the piano, his eyes on his memorandum pad. At the
same instant a faint ripple of consternation was heard from a group of
girls of which Marjorie formed the center. The latter took a hurried
step forward. Marjorie was determined that Connie must not be cheated of
her chance. She had caught a glimpse of Mignon, her black eyes blazing
with insolent triumph and positive joy at the possibility of this
unexpected elimination of the girl she hated.

But Marjorie's intended protest in behalf of her friend was never
uttered. Laurie Armitage had come to the rescue. She saw him halt
Professor Harmon, as he was about to address the company. She saw the
little man's eyebrows elevate themselves in a glance toward Constance,
following Laurie's low, energetic communication. Then she felt herself
trembling with relief as Professor Harmon announced apologetically, "I
understand that I almost made the mistake of overlooking one of
Sanford's promising young singers. Will Miss Stevens please come

Pink with the embarrassment of the professor's words, Constance made no
move to comply with the request. Good-natured Ellen Seymour, who was one
of the contestants, pushed her gently forward. Ellen's light touch awoke
Constance to motion. She walked mechanically toward the piano, as though
propelled against her will by an unseen force. The humiliation of being
even accidentally passed by looked forth from her sensitive features.
Quick to note it, Lawrence Armitage advanced toward her, took her
tightly rolled music from her hand, and, conducting her to the piano,
introduced her to Professor Harmon, apparently unmindful of the many
pairs of eyes intently watching the little scene.

"Now we are ready." The professor nodded to Constance, who stood with
her small hands loosely clasped, her grave eyes fastened upon him. He
half smiled, as his experienced fingers began the first soft notes of
Mendelssohn's Spring Song. Long ago her foster father had written a set
of exquisitely tender words that had exactly seemed to fit those
unforgettable strains, so familiar to every true lover of music.
Constance had sung them so many times that she knew them by heart. Now
she fixed her eyes on the east wall of the gymnasium, and, leaving the
world behind her, rendered the beautiful selection as though she were in
her own home, with only her dear ones to listen to the flood of
ravishing melody that issued from her white throat.

Marjorie Dean felt a swift rush of tears flood her brown eyes as she
listened to her friend. She recalled the time when she had halted at the
door of the little gray house, in wonder at that glorious voice.
Conquering her emotion, she began to take stock of the effect of the
song upon those assembled. She saw the proud flash of gladness that
leaped to Laurie's fine face. His faith in Connie's powers was being
amply fulfilled. She read the profound surprise and admiration of
Professor Harmon, as he accompanied the singing girl. She glimpsed
enthusiastic admiration in the countenances of the spell-bound students,
many of whom had never before heard Constance sing. Then her gaze
centered upon Mignon. Anger, surprise and chagrin swept the elfish face
of the French girl. She read vocalization more flawless than her own, as
well as greater sweetness and an intense sympathy, which she lacked, in
the full, sweet, rounded tones that issued from her rival's lips. This
was the voice of a great artist.

Professor Harmon turned from the piano as the last golden note died away
and held out his hand. "Allow me to congratulate you, Miss Stevens.
You----" His voice was drowned in tumult of noisy and fervent
approbation on the part of the delighted audience. Boys and girls forgot
the dignity of the occasion, and the next instant the surprised
Constance found herself surrounded by as admiring a throng as ever did
honor to a triumphant basket-ball or football star. If signs were true
presagers of victory, if the united acclamation of the majority counted,
then Constance Stevens had, indeed, come into her own.



It took Professor Harmon several minutes to reduce the noisy enthusiasts
to the decorous state of order in which they had entered the gymnasium.
Far from being elated over her triumph, Constance Stevens received the
ovation with the shyness of a child brought before an audience against
its will to speak its first piece. She heaved an audible sigh of relief
when at last she was left to herself and retired behind Marjorie and her
friends with a flushed, embarrassed face.

The boys' try-out was shortened considerably by the fact that there were
fewer singers to be heard. When it was over it was announced that Hal
Macy had carried off the rôle of the poor, neglected son, which was in
reality the male lead. The Crane was selected for the king, while
freckle-faced Daniel Seabrooke was chosen for the jester, greatly to his
delight and surprise. There was an emphatic round of applause when
Professor Harmon announced that Constance Stevens had been selected to
sing the Princess. Ellen Seymour captured the rôle of the queen, and to
Mignon La Salle was allotted the part of the disagreeable step-sister.
It was second in importance to that of the Princess, but the French
girl's face was a study as she received the announcement. She tried to
smile, but the baffled anger and keen disappointment which was hers
blazed forth from her elfish eyes. The minor parts were soon given out,
and then came the trial of the chorus.

The hope of Marjorie and her four friends that they might be chosen was
fulfilled. A number of the girls who had sung solos were also selected,
and, with one or two disgruntled exceptions, resigned themselves to the
lesser glory, gratefully accepting what was offered them. It was
evident, however, that pretty faces had much to do with the Professor's
choice of the chorus, and when he had gathered the elect together and
heard them sing "The Star Spangled Banner" as a test, he expressed
himself as satisfied, and appointed a rehearsal for the following
Tuesday afternoon at four o'clock.

With the exception of Constance, it was a most jubilant sextette that
set out for Sargent's, at Marjorie's invitation, after the try-out was
over. She was still somewhat dazed over her success. Although she smiled
as the five girls paid her affectionate tribute, she had little to say.

"Girls, did you see Mignon's face when Connie was singing?" began Muriel
Harding, as soon as they were out of earshot of any possible
participants in the try-out.

"Did we see it? Well, I guess so." Jerry made prompt answer. "At least,
I did. While Connie was singing I was dividing my seeing power between
her and the fair but frowning Mignon. Maybe she wasn't mad! She tried to
pretend she wasn't listening, but she never missed a note. She had sense
enough to know good singing when she heard it."

"I was watching her, too," nodded Muriel Harding. "Her eyes positively
glittered when Professor Harmon almost missed hearing Connie sing. I
knew she was hoping he would. Then Laurie Armitage came to the rescue."

"I was going to say something," was Marjorie's quiet comment. "I had
made up my mind that Connie shouldn't be overlooked. I was so glad when
Laurie spoke to the professor."

"I thought you were," declared Jerry. "I was going to say something, if
no one else did."

"I don't believe any one of us could have stood there and seen Connie
miss her turn without making a fuss," said gentle Irma Linton. "I am so
glad it all came out nicely. Laurie Armitage is a splendid boy."

"So is the Crane," put in Jerry slyly.

"Of course he is," agreed Irma, placidly ignoring Jerry's attempt to
tease. "So is your brother Hal. There are lots of nice boys in Weston

Jerry merely grinned cheerfully at this retort and returned to the
subject of the coming opera. "Is Laurie going to help you with your
songs?" she asked, addressing Constance.

"Yes," replied Constance simply. "He said he would. I can't quite
believe yet that I am to sing the Princess. I may be able to manage the
songs, but I can't act. I imagine Mignon would make a better actress
than I."

"She ought to," jeered Muriel Harding, who could never resist a thrust
at the French girl. "She never does anything else. I don't believe she'd
know her real self if she came face to face with it in broad daylight."

"Oh, forget Mignon. Who was that tall, dark man with Laurie and
Professor Harmon?" interposed Susan Atwell. "You ought to know, Connie.
I saw Laurie introduce you to him."

"His name is Atwell," answered Constance. "He is an actor, I believe. I
don't know why he happened to be at the try-out to-day. Perhaps
Professor Harmon invited him."

"I'll find out all about him and tell you," volunteered Jerry. "Hal may
know. If he doesn't, some one else will."

"For further information, ask brother Hal," giggled Susan.

It was not until Marjorie and Constance had said good-bye to the others
and were strolling home in the spring sunshine that the latter asked,
"Where was Mary to-day?"

"I don't know." Marjorie spoke soberly. "She left the house before I did
this morning. She said last night that she wasn't interested in the
try-out. I thought perhaps she might like to be in the chorus, but she
doesn't appear to care about it. She has a sweet, soprano voice and can
sing well."

"I am sorry," was Constance's brief answer.

"So am I." Marjorie did not continue the painful subject. They had
talked it over so many times, there was nothing left to be said. "I am
glad you were chosen for the Princess," she said after a little silence,
during which the two girls were busy with their own thoughts.

"I am going to try to sing well, if only to please you and Laurie," was
Constance's earnest avowal.

"I'm glad Mignon didn't get the part. It won't be very pleasant for you
to have to sing with her. I wouldn't say this to anyone else, but if I
were you I would keep a watchful eye on her, Connie."

"If she tries to be disagreeable, I shall simply pay no attention to

"That will be best," nodded Marjorie. Nevertheless, she reflected that
as a member of the chorus she would have opportunity to observe the
French girl and mentally decided to keep an eye on her.

"Has Mary come in, Delia?" was Marjorie's quick question, as the maid
answered her ring.

"Here I am," called Mary from the living room. She had heard Marjorie's
question. Now she appeared in the doorway of the living room, viewing
her former chum with sombre gravity. "Who is going to sing the
Princess?" she asked abruptly.

"Connie was chosen. She sang beautifully."

"I'm glad Mignon didn't get the part," muttered Mary. Wheeling about,
she walked into the living room, and, taking up a book she had turned
face downward on the table, became, to all appearances, absorbed in its

For a moment Marjorie stood watching her through the half-drawn
portieres. She would have liked to continue the conversation, but pride
forbade her to do so. Mary's mood presaged rebuff. Later, at luncheon,
she unbent sufficiently to question Marjorie further regarding the
try-out. Although she did not say so, she was sorry that Mignon had
been given a principal's part in the operetta. Privately, she wished
she had made an attempt to get into the chorus. She, too, was of the
opinion that the French girl would bear watching. Failure to carry off
the highest honors would act as a spur to Mignon's unscrupulous nature,
and sooner or later some one would pay for her defeat.

Mary was quite correct in her conjecture that Mignon would not allow
matters to rest as they were. From the moment that Constance had been
announced as the Princess she had made a vow that by either fair or
unfair means she would supplant "that white-faced cat of a Stevens
girl," who had been awarded the honor that should have been hers. The
first step consisted in holding a private session with Professor Harmon
after the others had gone, to ascertain if by any chance he might be
relied upon to help her. She found him engaged in conversation with the
dark young man. He eyed her with interest, bowed affably when presented
to her by the professor, and expressed somewhat profuse pleasure at
meeting her. In the presence of a stranger, Mignon dared not ask
Professor Harmon openly to reconsider his recent decision in her favor.
Three minutes' conversation with him showed her that, had she made the
request, it would have availed her nothing. The brisk little man's mind
was made up. He congratulated her on capturing second honors with a
finality that could not be assailed. Then a brilliant idea entered her
wily brain.

"Professor Harmon," she began, with a pretty show of girlish confusion,
quite foreign to her usual bold method of reaching out for whatever she
coveted, "I would like to ask you if I might understudy the Princess. Of
course, I know that I can't sing as Miss Stevens sings, and I wouldn't
for the world wish anything to happen to prevent her from singing on the
great night, but I am so fond of music that it would be a pleasure to
understudy the rôle. I shouldn't like anyone to know that I was doing
so, though. It is just a fancy on my part."

"Certainly you may, Miss La Salle," was the professor's hearty response.
"Your idea is excellent. It is a mistake, even in an amateur production,
not to provide an understudy for an important rôle, such as Miss Stevens
will sing. I must provide an understudy for Mr. Macy, and others of the
cast, also. But you are too modest in your request that no one else must
know. I am sure Mr. Armitage will be pleased with your suggestion."

"Oh, please don't tell him!" exclaimed Mignon. A shade of alarm crossed
her dark face, which was not lost on the professor's companion, Ronald
Atwell. A mere acquaintance of Professor Harmon's, he had lately arrived
in Sanford, at the close of a season as leading man in a popular musical
comedy, to visit a cousin. Brought up in that hard school of experience,
the stage, he was an adept at reading signs, and he was by no means
deceived as to the true character of the girl who stood before him. Far
from being displeased with his deductions, he became mildly interested
in her and mentally characterized her as being worth cultivating. He had
watched her during the try-out, and he had glimpsed her true self in
the varying expressions that animated her dark face. He had attended the
try-out on the polite invitation of Professor Harmon, and at the
latter's earnest solicitation had agreed to take charge of the stage
direction of the operetta. The professor had congratulated himself on
obtaining such valuable assistance, while the actor looked upon the
affair as a pastime which would serve to lighten his stay with his
rather dull cousin. He had come to Sanford for a period of relaxation
before going to New York to begin rehearsals with a summer show, and the
prospect of directing the operetta promised to be amusing.

"Very well, I will say nothing," promised the professor amiably. He had
come to the try-out, hoping to see the daughter of his friend capture
the rôle of the Princess, but the enthusiasm of the artist had driven
that hope from his mind when he had heard Constance sing. Now he dwelt
only on the success of the operetta, and was distinctly relieved to find
that Mignon was in an amiable frame of mind over the unexpected change
in his plans. Knowing her tempestuous disposition, he decided that it
would be policy to humor her whim.

"Thank you so much," beamed Mignon. "I must go now. Good-bye."

"I find I must leave you, also," said Ronald Atwell, glancing at his
watch, "or I shall be late for luncheon."

Mignon had already walked toward the east door of the gymnasium. With a
hurried "Good-bye, Professor. I will be here for rehearsal on Tuesday,"
the dark, young man strode after Mignon and overtook her in the

"I wonder if our ways lie in the same direction," he said pleasantly. "I
am the guest of Mr. and Mrs. Horton. Mr. Horton is a cousin of mine."

"I pass their house on my way home," was the prompt reply.

Elated at receiving the marked attention of this distinguished stranger,
Mignon exerted herself to the utmost to be agreeable during their walk.
From the few words she had heard pass between the professor and Mr.
Atwell as she approached them, she had gathered the information that the
latter was to manage the stage and coach the actors in the operetta. She
determined that, if it were possible, she would enlist his services in
her behalf. She had counted on Professor Harmon, and he had failed her.
In this good-looking, affable young man she foresaw a valuable ally. The
presentation of "The Rebellious Princess" was still four weeks distant.
A great many things might happen in that time.

Her companion's suave comment, "I think Professor Harmon made a mistake
in assigning the Princess to the young woman who sang last," uttered
with just the exact shade of regret, caused Mignon to thrill with new
hope. Mr. Atwell, at least, was of the same mind as herself. She
brightened visibly when he went on to say that as stage manager he would
try to give her every advantage that lay in his power. "I am certain
that you have within you the possibilities which go to make a great
actress, Miss La Salle," was his parting remark to her, and these
flattering words, which were, in reality, merely idle on the part of the
actor, she accepted as gospel truth. It was always very easy for her to
accept that which she wished to believe, for self-analysis was not one
of her strong points.

When the cast and chorus for the operetta met in the gymnasium the
following Tuesday afternoon, it did not take the lynx-eyed feminine
contingent long to discover that Mignon La Salle had a friend at court.
Laurie Armitage, also, soon became aware of the fact. He was secretly
displeased that Mignon had been chosen to sing in his operetta, and
almost on first acquaintance he had formed a dislike for Ronald Atwell.
Behind his polished manners he read insincerity, and he was sorry that
Professor Harmon had asked this newcomer to assist in managing the
production. But, manlike, he kept his prejudice to himself, admitting
reluctantly that Atwell seemed to know what he was about.

In the frequent rehearsals that followed, however, many irritating
incidents occurred to try his boyish soul. Most of all he disapproved of
the actor manager's brusque manner toward Constance Stevens. He found
fault continually with her in the matter of the speaking of her lines,
and developed a habit of rehearsing her over and over again in a single
scene until she was ready to cry of sheer humiliation at her own failure
to please him. More than once Laurie made private protest to Professor
Harmon, but the latter invariably reminded him that despite Miss
Stevens' beautiful voice, she was far from grasping the principles of
acting, and that Mr. Atwell was a striking example of a conscientious

Lawrence Armitage was not the only one whose resentment against the too
conscientious stage manager had been aroused. His unfair attitude toward
Constance was the subject of many indignant discussions on the part of
the girls who comprised her coterie of intimate friends.

"It's a shame," burst forth Jerry Macy in an undertone to Marjorie, as
they stood together at one side of the gymnasium and watched the
impatient manner in which the actor ordered their idol about. "I
wouldn't stand it, if I were Connie. I guess you know who is to blame
for it, don't you?"

Marjorie nodded. A faint touch of scorn curved her red lips. Mignon's
growing friendship with Ronald Atwell was the talk of the cast. He
frequently accompanied her home from school, invited her to Sargent's,
and it was rumored that he was often a guest at dinner or luncheon at
her home. Proud of the fact that his daughter was to sing an important
rôle in "young Armitage's opera," Mr. La Salle had treated his
daughter's new acquaintance with considerable deference and allowed
Mignon to do as she pleased in the matter of entertaining him.

"Laurie told Hal that he was sorry Professor Harmon had asked that old
crank to help. Laurie didn't say 'old crank,' but I say it, and I mean
it," continued Jerry vindictively. "Don't breathe it to anyone, though.
It was a brotherly confidence and Hal would rave if he knew I repeated

"Jerry," whispered Marjorie. Her brief scorn had faded into a faint
frown of anxiety. "I don't think Mr. Atwell is really the best sort of
person for Mignon to go around with. He is ever so much older than she
and, somehow, he doesn't seem sincere. Someone told Muriel that he told
Mignon she would make a wonderful actress. Mignon was boasting of it.
Suppose she were to get an idea of going on the stage. She is so
headstrong she might run away from home and do that very thing if she
happened to feel like it. I don't like her, but I can't help being just
a little bit sorry for her. You know, she hasn't any mother to help her
and love her and advise her. Her father is so busy making money, he
doesn't pay much attention to her. Fathers are splendid, but mothers are
simply splendiferous. I don't know what I'd do without my Captain."
Marjorie sighed in sweet sympathy for all the motherless girls in the

"Mothers are a grand institution," agreed Jerry, looking a trifle
solemn. "I think mine is just about right. I never thought of Mignon in
that way before. Now, I suppose I'll have to be sorry for her, too. She
doesn't look as though she needed much sympathy just now. She's so
pleased with the way Connie is being ordered about that she can't see
straight. There, he's through with the poor child at last. Come on. It's
time for the chorus to perform. Try to imagine that this good old gym is
the king's palace and that our mutual friend the Crane is a kingly king.
He looks more like a clothes-pole!"

Marjorie was forced to laugh at Jerry's uncomplimentary comparison.
They had no further opportunity for conversation in the busy hour that
followed. Professor Harmon drilled them rigidly, his short hair
positively standing erect with energy, and they were quite ready to
gather their little band together and hurry off to Sargent's for rest
and ice cream when the rehearsal was at last over.

"See here, Connie, why don't you tell that Atwell man to mind his own
business," sputtered Jerry as the six girls walked down the street in
the direction of their favorite haunt.

"He _is_ minding his business," returned Constance ruefully. Her small
face was very pale and her blue eyes were strained and unhappy. "It is
my fault. But he makes me nervous, and then I can't act. When I am at
home I can say my lines just as I ought, but the minute he begins to
tell me what to do, everything goes wrong. Then he finds fault and
almost makes me cry. I wish I hadn't tried for a part. If it weren't so
late I'd resign from the cast."

"And let Mignon sing the Princess!" came from Muriel in deep disgust.

"Don't you do it," advised Susan. "That's precisely what she'd like you
to do."

"It's a plot between Mignon and Mr. Snapwell--I mean Atwell," declared
Jerry. "She's crazy to be the Princess and he is trying to help her
along. A blind man could see that."

"I think so, too," said Irma Linton slowly. "You must try not to mind
him, Connie, then you won't be nervous."

"Why don't you ask Laurie to interfere?" proposed Jerry. "He looked
crosser than I look when I'm mad when that Atwell man was worrying you
about your lines this afternoon. I'll ask him myself, if you say so."

"No." Constance shook her head. "I wouldn't for the world complain to
Laurie. He has enough to think of now, without bothering his head over
my troubles. I suppose I am too easily hurt. I must learn not to mind
such things, if ever I expect to become a real artist."

"That's the way you ought to feel, Connie," put in Marjorie's soft
voice. She had been thinking seriously, while the others talked, as to
what she might say to cheer up her disconsolate schoolmate. "You were
chosen to sing the part of the Princess, and I am sure no one else can
sing it half so well. Try to think that, all the time you are
rehearsing. Remember, Laurie believes in you, and so do we. When the
great night comes you won't have to listen to that horrid Mr. Atwell's
nagging, or say your lines over and over again. You will truly be the
Princess, and that will make you forget everything else. If you believe
in yourself, nothing can make you fail. For your own sake, don't think
for a minute of giving up the part."



Greatly to Mr. Ronald Atwell's chagrin, Constance Stevens began suddenly
to show a marked improvement in her work that did not in the least
coincide with his plans. Influenced by Mignon's tale of her wrongs, laid
principally at Constance's door, albeit Marjorie, too, came in for her
share of blame, he had taken a dislike to the gentle girl and lost no
opportunity to humiliate her. Privately, he regarded the entire cast,
Mignon included, as a set of silly children, and his only regard for
Mignon lay in a wholesome respect for her father's money. At heart he
was not a scoundrel, he was merely vain and selfish, and imbued with a
profound sense of his own importance. It had pleased his fancy to assume
the charge of the staging of the operetta, but now he was growing rather
tired of it and wished that it were over.

Long before this he and Mignon had come to a definite understanding
regarding the operetta. Mignon had informed him boldly that she wished
to sing the part of the Princess, and he had assured her that he would
arrange matters to her satisfaction. It, therefore, became incumbent
upon him to keep his word. He had begun his persistent annoying of
Constance, convinced that, unable to endure it, she would resign and
leave the field of honor free to the French girl. But Constance did
nothing of the sort. She stood her ground, half-heartedly at first, but
afterward, with Marjorie's words ringing in her ears, she exhibited a
steadiness of purpose that he could not shake.

At the dress rehearsal, the last before the public performance, she was
a brilliant success, compelling even his reluctant admiration. It was
now too late even to consider the possibility of Mignon replacing her,
and he informed the latter rather sheepishly of this, as he rode home
with her in her electric runabout.

For the first and last time he had the pleasure of seeing Mignon in a
royal rage, and when they reached her home, he declined her sullen offer
to send him home in her automobile, and made his escape with due speed.
Deciding he had had enough of amateurs and amateur operettas, he mailed
a note to Professor Harmon excusing himself from further service on the
plea of a telegram summoning him to New York. Whether the telegram were
a myth, history does not record. Sufficient to say that he actually went
to New York the following afternoon. And thus "The Rebellious Princess"
lost a stage manager and Mignon the hitherto chief factor in her plans.
She was also the recipient of an apologetic note from the actor, which
caused her to clench her hands in rage, then shrug her thin shoulders
with a gesture that did not spell defeat. Somehow, in some way, she
would accomplish her purpose. Even at the eleventh hour she would not
acknowledge herself beaten. Yet as the day wore on toward evening she
could think of nothing to do that would bring her her unreasonable

The operetta was to be sung in the Sanford Theatre, where the dress
rehearsal had been held. Furious almost to tears at her inability to
bring about the impossible, Mignon at last ordered her runabout and made
sulky preparations to start for the theatre. The possession of an
automobile gave her the advantage of being able to don her first act
costume at home, but her really attractive appearance in the fanciful
gown of the heartless step-sister afforded her no pleasure. She hooked
it up pettishly, made a face at herself in the mirror of her dressing
table, and, drawing her evening cloak about her, flounced downstairs to
her runabout, completely out of humor with the world in general.

She drove along recklessly, as was her custom, and when half way to the
theatre narrowly missed running down a small, sturdy figure that was
marching across the street.

"Naughty old wagon," screamed a familiar voice after her.

At sound of that piping voice, Mignon stopped her car and peered out.
Trotting along the sidewalk a little to her rear was a small boy with a
diminutive violin case tucked under his arm. Little Charlie Stevens had
come forth once more to see the world. In a flash wicked inspiration
came to Mignon. The Stevens child was running away again, but this time
he had chosen an evening exactly to her liking. Slipping out of her car
she ran toward the boy. "Why, good evening, little boy," she called
pleasantly. "Where are _you_ going?"

"I know you. You're a naughty girl!" observed Charlie with more truth
than courtesy. He braced himself defiantly and regarded Mignon with
patent disapproval.

"I am so sorry you think so." Mignon affected a sadness which she was
far from feeling at this unvarnished statement. "I was going to take you
for a ride and buy you some ice cream."

Charlie considered this astonishing offer in silence. He stared
frowningly at Mignon. "Is it chok'lit ice cream?" he asked, eyeing her
in open disbelief.

"Of course it is. As much as you can eat."

"All right. I want some. But you're a naughty girl, just the same. Mary
said so."

Mignon shrugged indifferently. She was not greatly concerned at either
his or Mary's opinion of her. "Come on, if you want a ride," she urged.

Charlie obeyed with some show of reluctance. He was not sure that even
the prospect of ice cream warranted his surrender. Mignon caught him up
and swung him into the runabout. Her wrist watch pointed to fifteen
minutes past seven. She had no time to lose. She drove rapidly through
the town to a small confectioner's store at the other end. Charlie kept
up a lively chatter as they rolled along. Stopping before it she lifted
the boy from the automobile, and, taking his hand, hurried him into the
brightly lighted store. Seating him at a table, she ordered two plates
of chocolate ice cream and sat down opposite the boy, her black eyes
glittering as she watched him eat. From time to time she glanced at her
watch. When the child had finished his plate of cream, she pushed her
own toward him. "Eat it," she commanded.

Charlie responded nobly to the command. When she saw the last spoonful
vanish, she smiled elfishly. It was eight o'clock. The operetta began at
half past eight. Allowing herself fifteen minutes to reach the theatre
and carry out the last step in her plan, she would arrive there at
fifteen minutes past eight.

The wandering musician made strenuous objection, however, to leaving the
ice cream parlor. "I could eat more chok'lit cream," he informed her.

"You are a greedy boy," she said, her former friendliness vanishing into
angry impatience. "Come with me this minute."

"You're a cross old elefunt," was Charlie's crushing but inappropriate

Mignon was in no mood for an exchange of pleasantries. Seizing Charlie
by the arm she hustled him out of the shop into her runabout, and was
off like the wind. When half way between the shop and the theatre, she
halted her car. Lifting the boy out she set him on the sidewalk before
he had time to protest. "Now go where you please. I'll tell Connie to
come and find you," was her malicious farewell. Stepping into the
runabout she drove away, leaving Charlie Stevens to take care of himself
as best he might.

Although Mignon was unaware of the fact, there had been an amazed
witness to the final scene in her little drama. A fair-haired girl had
come up just in time to hear her heartless speech and see her drive
away, leaving a small, perplexed youngster on the sidewalk. That girl
was Mary Raymond. She had steadily refused Marjorie's earnest plea that
she attend the much-talked-of performance of "The Rebellious Princess,"
and directly after dinner that evening, on the plea of mailing a letter,
had slipped from the house on one of her melancholy, soul-searching
walks which she had become so fond of taking. Convinced that she was an
utter failure, imbued with a daily growing sense of her own unfitness to
be the friend of a girl like Marjorie Dean, Mary was plunged into the
depths of humiliation and unhappiness. This alone had been the cause of
the marked change in her that Marjorie had innocently attributed to
Mignon's defection. In her sad little soul there was now no bitterness
against Constance Stevens. Quite by chance she had one day not long past
encountered Jerry Macy in Sargent's, alone. Touched by her woe-begone
air, Jerry had taken pains to draw her out. With her usual shrewdness
the stout girl had discovered the real cause of Mary's depression, and
kindly advised her to have a heart-to-heart talk with Marjorie. Jerry
had also made it a point to inform Mary, so far as she knew the details,
of the trouble over the butterfly pins during Marjorie's freshman year,
and of Mignon's cruel treatment of Constance. Distinctly to Jerry's
credit, she told no one afterward of that chance meeting, yet she
secretly hoped that what she had said would have its effect upon Mary.

Overwhelmed with shame, Mary had left the talkative, stout girl and
dragged herself home, in an agony of humiliation that can be better
imagined than described. She felt that she could never forgive herself
for the ignoble thoughts she had harbored against innocent Constance
Stevens, and she was still more certain that she could never ask either
Marjorie or Constance to forgive _her_. Again and again she had tried to
bring herself to approach Marjorie and humbly sue for pardon. The weight
of her own troubled conscience prevented her from yielding, and thus she
kept her sorrow locked in her aching heart and waited dejectedly for the
day when she must leave the Deans' pleasant home, taking with her
nothing but bitter self-reproach for her own folly.

It was in this black mood that Mary had wandered forth that evening and
straight into the path of the very thing that was destined to bring her
peace. Mignon had hardly driven away when Mary caught the venturesome
youngster in her arms. The boy gave a jubilant little shout as he saw
who held him. Mary, however, was still at a loss regarding the meaning
of what she had seen.

"Every time the cross girl scolds Charlie, you come and get him," was
the joyful exclamation. "She wasn't cross all the time. She gave Charlie
a ride and lots of ice cream. Then she wented away. She said she'd tell
Connie to come and find me. Connie's gone to the the'tre. I wented, too,
but the naughty girl got Charlie."

"Charlie boy, try to tell Mary, where was he when the cross girl got

"Way over there." Charlie waved an indefinite hand in the wrong

Mary stood still, in a perplexed endeavor to read meaning in the nature
of Mignon's strange action. Suddenly the light burst upon her. "Oh!" she
cried, dismay written on every feature. "Now I begin to understand!" She
glanced wildly about her. Far up the street shone the light of an
oncoming street-car. Seizing Charlie by the hand she hurried him to the
corner. It was not more than two minutes until the car came to a
creaking stop before them. Mary helped Charlie into it and fumbled in
her purse. She had just two nickels. Breathing her relief, she paid the
fares, deposited Charlie on a seat beside her, then stared out the
window in an anxious watch of the streets.

But while Mary Raymond was making a desperate attempt to redeem herself
by at least one kind act, Mignon La Salle had reached the theatre.
Dropping all appearance of haste, she strolled past the groups of gaily
attired boys and girls, nodding condescendingly to this one and that,
and switched downstairs to the dressing room which she occupied with
several other girls. Leisurely removing her cloak, she plumed herself
before the mirror. Her black eyes constantly sought her watch, however.
At last she turned from the mirror with a peculiar smile and abruptly
left the room. Straight to the star's dressing room she walked. Her thin
fingers beat a sharp tattoo on the door. It opened, and she stood face
to face with Constance Stevens, who was just about to take her place in
the wings, preparatory to the beginning of the opera. She was to make
her first entrance directly after the opening chorus.

"I came to tell you, Miss Stevens," said Mignon with an indescribable
smile of pure malice, "that I saw your brother, Charlie, wandering along
the street as I drove to the theatre. I suppose he has run away."

With a frightened cry, Constance dashed past her and up the stairs.
Mignon laughed aloud as she watched the vanishing figure. "That settles
her," she muttered. "Harriet Delaney can sing my part. She has
understudied it." Springing into sudden action she ran to her dressing
room, eluding a collision with the feminine portion of the chorus who
were scurrying for the stage in obedience to a gong that summoned them
to the wings. Reaching to a hook in the wall, from which depended her
several costumes, hung over one another, she took from under them an
almost exact copy of the gown Constance Stevens was wearing in the first
act and held it up with a murmur of satisfaction. Stripping off the gown
she wore she hastily donned this other costume. Then she sat down to
await what she believed would happen.

But while Mignon busied herself with her own affairs, Constance was
making a hurried search for Laurie Armitage. Unluckily, he had gone, for
the moment, to the front of the house. Professor Harmon, too, was not in
sight. He also had gone to the front to take his place in the orchestra
pit. What could she do? The performance was about to begin. To leave
the theatre on a search for Charlie meant disaster to Laurie's operetta.
To leave Charlie to wander about the streets alone was even more
terrifying. She flitted past the waiting choristers, drawn up for
action, without a word of explanation. Marjorie Dean caught one look at
her friend's terrified face. It was enough to convince her that
something unusual had happened. Slipping out of her place in the line
she followed Constance, who was making directly for the stage door.
Marjorie saw her fling it open and glance wildly into the night. She ran
toward Connie, calling out, "What is the matter?"

As the question crossed her lips both girls saw a familiar girlish
figure, strangely burdened, running toward them as fast as the weight
she carried would permit her to run. With a cry which rang in Marjorie's
ears for days afterwards Constance darted forward. She wrapped the girl
and her burden in a tumultuous embrace, laughing and crying in the same

"The cross girl got Charlie, then she runned away and Mary comed and
found him. Charlie's goin' to the the'tre to play in the band. Mary said
so." He wriggled from the tangle of encircling arms to the stone walk.
"Hello, Marj'ry," he greeted genially.

Marjorie turned from the marvelous sight of the two she loved best in
each other's arms. It was too wonderful for belief. Tardy remembrance
caused her to utter a dismayed, "You'll be late, Connie! Hurry in. Mary
and I will take care of Charlie. It doesn't matter if I do miss the
opening number."

With a swift glance at Mary that contained untold gratitude, Constance
faltered, "I--love--you--Mary, for taking care of Charlie! I'll see you
again as soon as I can. Good-bye!"

She was gone in a flash, leaving Mary and Marjorie to face each other
with full hearts.

"You are my own, dear Mary again." Marjorie's clear voice was husky with
emotion, "and my very first and best chum, forever!"

Mary nodded dumbly, her blue eyes overflowing.
"I've--come--back--to--you--to stay," she whispered. And on the stone
steps, worn by the passing of the feet of those who had entered the
theatre to play many parts, these two young players in Life's varied
drama enacted a little scene of love and forgiveness that was entirely
their own.



The chorus were tunefully lifting up their voices in their initial
number, their watchful eyes on Professor Harmon's baton, when the
belated Princess hurried to her position in the wings. Laurie Armitage
had returned to the stage and was instituting a wild search for
Constance. Failing to find her upstairs, he had hastened below, and was
rushing desperately up and down the corridors, peering into the open
doorways of the deserted dressing rooms. Only one door was closed.
Behind it a black-haired girl awaited a call to fame. He called
Constance by name, again and again, then, receiving no answer, he dashed
up the stairs, encountering the object of his search at the very height
of his alarm. Marjorie Dean stood on guard beside her. She advanced
toward the excited composer, saying briefly, "Let her alone, Laurie.
She's awfully nervous and upset. She has just had a dreadful fright.
I'll tell you about it later."

Constance cast a reassuring glance at Laurie. She had heard Marjorie's
protecting words. "I'm all right now," she nodded. "I won't fail you."

The dulcet notes of her opening song, "I'm tired of being a Princess,"
brought immeasurable relief to Lawrence and Marjorie, as they stood in
the wings, their anxious gaze fixed upon Constance. In one of the
dressing rooms below, the silver strains came faintly to the ears of
Mignon La Salle. During her interval of waiting she had been softly
humming that very song, confident of the summons she believed she would
receive. She had no doubt that her cowardly plan had worked only too
well. Knowing Constance Stevens' deep affection for her tiny foster
brother, she could readily see a vision of the terrified girl rushing
out into the night in search of him, her duty to the operetta completely
forgotten. As the sound of that hated voice reached her, she sprang to
the door of her dressing room and half opening it, halted to listen. A
wave of black rage swept over her. Forgetting her recent change of
costume, she took the stairs, two at a time, and ran squarely against
Lawrence Armitage and Marjorie Dean.

Marjorie could not resist a low laugh of contemptuous scorn as she
viewed the stormy-eyed girl whose unscrupulous plan had failed. The
contempt in her pretty face deepened as her quick eyes took in the
details of Mignon's costume. The French girl's indiscreet haste to make
ready had convicted her. Marjorie had already learned from Mary all that
had occurred. It needed this one proof to complete the evidence.
Lawrence Armitage was regarding Mignon with perplexed brow. "That is not
the costume you wore last night, Miss La Salle," he said with cold
abruptness. Scrutinizing her closely, amazement began to dawn on his
clear-cut features. "When did you----"

With a low cry of mingled humiliation and fury, Mignon turned and ran
down the stairs, her slender body trembling with the anger of a defeat
born of the failure of her plan and her own betraying haste. Gaining the
shelter of her dressing room, she gave herself up to a paroxysm of rage
that ended in a burst of hysterical sobs.

The end of the first act brought a troop of hurrying, laughing girls
downstairs. Instead of the alert, self-possessed Mignon who had swept
proudly into the dressing room that night, those who shared the room
with her found a convulsive weeper lying face downward on the floor.

"What's the matter?" was the concerted cry.

A good-natured senior took Mignon gently by the shoulders. "Get up,
Mignon," she commanded. "If you don't stop crying, you won't be able to
go on when your cue comes, let alone trying to sing." Mignon's first
entrance took place in the second act and occurred directly after the
rise of the curtain.

The French girl half raised herself at this reminder, then sank back to
her original position with a fresh burst of racking sobs. Finding her
good-natured ministrations ineffectual, the senior left Mignon to
herself and began to change methodically to her peasant costume of the
second act, the scene of which was laid in a village and in front of the
cottage where she supposedly dwelt.

"Ten minutes," called the warning tones of the freshman who was serving
as call boy. Still Mignon refused to heed the admonitions of her

"Better call Laurie Armitage," suggested one girl. "She can't possibly
go on. Harriet Delaney will have to take her place. Mignon isn't even
dressed for her part. Where do you suppose----" The senior did not
finish her sentence. Something in the familiar details of the gown
Mignon wore aroused an unpleasant suspicion in her active brain. A
swift-footed messenger had already sped away to find the young composer,
who, with the departure of Ronald Atwell had taken the arduous duties of
stage manager upon his capable shoulders.

When the information of Mignon's collapse reached him, he made no move
to go to her. Instead, he beckoned to Harriet Delaney, who had just come
upstairs, and whispered a few words to her which caused her colorful
face to pale, then turn pinker than usual.

"But I haven't a suitable costume," several girls heard her protest.

"Go on as you are. Your costume is suitable," reassured Laurie.

But down in the dressing room Mignon had struggled to her feet. The
knowledge that her unfairness was to cost her her own part in the
operetta aroused her to action. In feverish haste she began to tear off
the gown she wore.

"Second act," rang out through the corridor. With a low wail of genuine
grief, Mignon dropped into a chair. She heard Harriet Delaney begin her
first song. Unable to bear the chagrin that was hers, she sprang up.
Readjusting the gown she had partly thrown off, she seized her cloak and
wrapped it about her. Then she fled up the stairway, and into the calm,
starlit night to where her runabout awaited her, the victim of her own

       *       *       *       *       *

It was a happy trio of girls that, shortly before midnight, climbed into
the Deans' automobile, in which Mr. and Mrs. Dean sat patiently awaiting
their exit from the stage door. Lawrence Armitage's operetta had been an
artistic as well as a financial success. It had been a "Standing Room
Only" audience, and the proceeds were to be given to the Sanford
Hospital for Children. Laurie had decreed this as a quiet memento to
Constance's devotion to little Charlie during his days of infirmity. The
audience had not been chary of their applause. The principals had
received numerous curtain calls, Constance had received an enthusiastic
ovation, and many beautiful floral tokens from her admiring friends.
Laurie had been assailed with cries of "Composer! Speech! Speech!" and
had been obliged to respond. Even the chorus came in for its share of
approbation, and to her intense amazement Marjorie Dean received two
immense bouquets of roses, a fitting tribute to her fresh, young beauty.
One of them bore Hal Macy's card, the other she afterward learned was
the joint contribution of a number of her school friends.

Only one person left the theatre that night who did not share in the
enthusiasm of the Sanford folks over the creditable work of their town
boys and girls. Mignon La Salle's father had, for once, put business
aside and come out to hear his daughter sing. Why she had not appeared
on the stage, he could not guess. His first thought was that she had
told him an untruth, but the printed programme carried her name as a
principal. He arrived home to be greeted with the servant's assertions
that Miss La Salle was ill and had retired. Going to her room to inquire
into the nature of her sudden illness, he was refused admittance, and
shrewdly deciding that his daughter had been worsted in a schoolgirl's
dispute in which she appeared always to be engaged, he left her to
herself. It was not until long afterward, when came the inevitable day
of reckoning, which was to make Mignon over, that he learned the true
story of that particular night.

It had been arranged beforehand that Constance was to spend the night
with Marjorie. Shortly after Charlie had been comfortably established in
Constance's dressing room, Uncle John Roland had appeared at the stage
door of the theatre, his placid face filled with genuine alarm. He had
been left in charge of Charlie, and the child had eluded his somewhat
lax guardianship and run away. Finding the little violin missing, he
guessed that the boy had made his usual attempt to find the theatre, and
the old man had hastened directly there. Charlie was sent home with him,
despite his wailing plea to remain, thus leaving Constance free to carry
out her original plan.

The Deans exchanged significant smiles at sight of Marjorie, Mary and
Constance approaching the automobile, three abreast, arms firmly linked.

"Attention!" called Mr. Dean. "Salute your officers!" Two hands went up
in instant obedience of the order. Constance hesitated, then followed

"I see my regiment has increased," remarked Mr. Dean, as he sprang out
to assist the three into the car.

"Yes, Connie has joined the company," rejoiced Marjorie. "I am answering
for her. She needs military discipline."

"Three soldiers are ever so much more interesting than two," put in Mary
shyly. Her earnest eyes sought the face of her Captain, as though to ask
mute pardon for her errors. Mrs. Dean's affectionate smile carried with
it the absolution Mary craved, and Mr. Dean's firm clasp of her hand,
as he helped her into the car, was equally reassuring.

Mrs. Dean had ordered a light repast especially on account of Constance
and Marjorie. She had not counted on Mary, but she was a most welcome
addition. Their faithful maid, Delia, had insisted on staying up to make
cocoa and serve the supper party.

"Captain," begged Marjorie, as the three girls appeared in her room,
after going upstairs, "please let us stay up as late as we wish
to-night? We simply must talk things out. To-morrow is Saturday, you

"For once I will withdraw all objections. You may stay up as late as you
please." The three girls kissed her in turn. Mary was last. Mrs. Dean
drew her close and kissed her twice. "Have you won the fight,
Lieutenant?" she whispered.

Mary simply nodded, her blue eyes misty. She could not trust herself to
speak. "To-morrow--I'll--tell you," she faltered, then hurried to
overtake Constance and Marjorie, who were half-way upstairs.

The "talk" lasted until two o'clock that morning. It was interspersed
with laughter, fond embracing and a few tears. When it ended, Marjorie's
dream of friendship had come true.

Mary had more to say than the others. She confessed to writing the
letter of warning that had so mystified the basket-ball team.

"I knew you wrote it," Marjorie said quietly. "I found it out by
comparing the paper it was written on with a letter I had received from
you. I was so glad. I knew you couldn't be like Mignon, even if you were
her friend."

"I was never her friend, nor she mine," asserted Mary with a positive
shake of her head. "I was jealous of Constance and was glad to find
someone besides myself who didn't like her. I never knew the true story
of the pin until Jerry----" She paused, coloring deeply.

"So Jerry told you. That is just like her. She is the kindest-hearted
girl in the world. Next to you two, I like her best of all my
schoolmates." Marjorie's affectionate tones bespoke her deep regard for
the stout girl whose matter-of-fact ways and funny sayings were a
perpetual joy.

"If only I had listened to you and Connie in the first place." Mary
sighed. "I've spoiled my sophomore year and tried hard enough to spoil
yours. And there's so little of it left! I won't have time to show you
how sorry I am and how much I care."

"We will begin now and make the most of what is left of it," proposed
Marjorie gently. Then she added, "Jerry didn't know all that happened
last year. I would like to tell you about it."

"Please do," urged Mary humbly.

Marjorie told the story of her first year in Sanford, frequently turning
to Constance for confirmation. When she had finished Mary was silent.
She had no words with which to express her utter contrition.

"Now you know our sad history," smiled Marjorie, with a kindly attempt
at lightening the burden of self-reproach Mary bore.

"But neither of you has told _me_ how Mary happened to find Charlie
to-night," reminded Constance. "I am anxious to know. This is the first
time he ever ran so far away."

"Oh, no, you forget the night he went to Mignon's----" Mary broke off
shortly, red with embarrassment. She had not intended to speak of this.
Constance's positive assertion had caught her off her guard.

"Went to Mignon's?" was the questioning chorus of her two listeners.

Mary was obliged to enlighten them. "I wondered if he ever told you,
Connie. He promised he wouldn't," she ended.

"And he never told, the little rascal," was Constance's quick reply. "No
one except the maid knew it, and you may be sure she never said a word."

"It was that night I came to my senses." Mary smiled a trifle wistfully.
"I saw myself as others saw me. You thought I was grieving over Mignon,
Marjorie. But I wasn't. It was my own shortcomings that bothered me. Now
I must tell you about to-night, and then you will know everything about

Constance received the account of Mignon's attempt to supplant her in
the operetta with no trace of resentment. "I ought to be angry with her,
but I can't. She has suffered more to-night than I would have if her
plan had succeeded. Poor Mignon, I wonder if she will ever wake up?"

"That's hard to say. At any rate, she did some good, even if she didn't
intend to," reminded Marjorie. "I'm going to try to keep my junior year
in high school free of snarls. There is no use in mourning for the past.
Let us set our faces to the future and be glad that we three are done
with misunderstandings. Marjorie Dean, High School Junior, is going to
be a better soldier than Marjorie Dean, High School Sophomore has ever

Both Constance Stevens and Mary Raymond smiled at this earnest resolve.
In their hearts they felt that Marjorie Dean need make no vows. She
stood already on the heights of loyalty and truth, steadfast and

How fully Marjorie Dean carried out her resolve and what happened to her
as a junior in Sanford High School will be told in "Marjorie Dean, High
School Junior," a story which every friend of this delightful girl will
surely welcome.


    Transcriber's Note:

    Alternative spelling and variations in hyphenated words
    have been retained as in the original publication.

    The following changes have been made:

    who were maknig _changed to_
    who were making

    Do you miss anyone? _changed to_
    "Do you miss anyone?

    racuous voice _changed to_
    raucous voice

    atuomobile, and when _changed to_
    automobile, and when

    asperin tablets _changed to_
    aspirin tablets

    strange predeliction _changed to_
    strange predilection

    sinmply because she _changed to_
    simply because she

    atlhough the latter _changed to_
    although the latter

    stayled her, and _changed to_
    styled her, and

    continual penace for _changed to_
    continual penance for

    the previous Christmas eve _changed to_
    the previous Christmas Eve

    please don't be disapponted _changed to_
    please don't be disappointed

    Who says I'm not a poet _changed to_
    "Who says I'm not a poet

    That let's me out _changed to_
    That lets me out

    was alloted the part _changed to_
    was allotted the part

    red with embarassment _changed to_
    red with embarrassment

    soldier than Marjorie, Dean _changed to_
    soldier than Marjorie Dean

*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Marjorie Dean - High School Sophomore" ***

Doctrine Publishing Corporation provides digitized public domain materials.
Public domain books belong to the public and we are merely their custodians.
This effort is time consuming and expensive, so in order to keep providing
this resource, we have taken steps to prevent abuse by commercial parties,
including placing technical restrictions on automated querying.

We also ask that you:

+ Make non-commercial use of the files We designed Doctrine Publishing
Corporation's ISYS search for use by individuals, and we request that you
use these files for personal, non-commercial purposes.

+ Refrain from automated querying Do not send automated queries of any sort
to Doctrine Publishing's system: If you are conducting research on machine
translation, optical character recognition or other areas where access to a
large amount of text is helpful, please contact us. We encourage the use of
public domain materials for these purposes and may be able to help.

+ Keep it legal -  Whatever your use, remember that you are responsible for
ensuring that what you are doing is legal. Do not assume that just because
we believe a book is in the public domain for users in the United States,
that the work is also in the public domain for users in other countries.
Whether a book is still in copyright varies from country to country, and we
can't offer guidance on whether any specific use of any specific book is
allowed. Please do not assume that a book's appearance in Doctrine Publishing
ISYS search  means it can be used in any manner anywhere in the world.
Copyright infringement liability can be quite severe.

About ISYS® Search Software
Established in 1988, ISYS Search Software is a global supplier of enterprise
search solutions for business and government.  The company's award-winning
software suite offers a broad range of search, navigation and discovery
solutions for desktop search, intranet search, SharePoint search and embedded
search applications.  ISYS has been deployed by thousands of organizations
operating in a variety of industries, including government, legal, law
enforcement, financial services, healthcare and recruitment.