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´╗┐Title: Betty Lee, Sophomore
Author: Grove, Harriet Pyne
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 "Betty Lee, Sophomore" ***

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



Team (http://www.fadedpage.net)



BETTY LEE, SOPHOMORE

by

HARRIET PYNE GROVE



The World Syndicate Publishing Co.
Cleveland, Ohio ---- New York City

Copyright, 1931
by
The World Syndicate Publishing Co.

Printed in the United States of America



Table of Contents


  - CHAPTER I: "GYPSY"
  - CHAPTER II: CAROLYN ARRIVES
  - CHAPTER III: THE GREAT SURPRISE
  - CHAPTER IV: BETTY MEETS THE COUNTESS
  - CHAPTER V: A REAL SOPHOMORE AT LAST
  - CHAPTER VI: DOING HER BEST FOR LUCIA
  - CHAPTER VII: LITTLE ADJUSTMENTS
  - CHAPTER VIII: THE G. A. A. BREAKFAST HIKE
  - CHAPTER IX: WITH LUCIA AND MATHILDE
  - CHAPTER X: A STARTLING SITUATION
  - CHAPTER XI: HALLOWE'EN SURPRISES
  - CHAPTER XII: BEATING THE JUNIORS WITH LUCIA
  - CHAPTER XIII: LIGHT ON THE SORORITY QUESTION
  - CHAPTER XIV: THE DECISION
  - CHAPTER XV: CLASS CHAMPIONSHIP GAMES
  - CHAPTER XVI: A PARTY AND A REAL "DATE"
  - CHAPTER XVII: "JUST LIKE A FISH"
  - CHAPTER XVIII: THE COUNTESS ENTERTAINS



CHAPTER I: "GYPSY"


"Why, Kathryn, I think you're _awfully_ pretty!" Betty Lee exclaimed in
some surprise. "And I'm not saying that just to console you, either.
Why, the _idea_!"

"Well, Betty, you needn't go that far. I don't have to be pretty to be
happy, you know; but it did hurt to have her tell me that Peggy said
it."

"In the first place, Kathryn, I don't believe Peggy ever said it. You
know what people say goes with their _characters_. And Peggy isn't like
that."

"N-no," replied Kathryn, doubtfully. "Peggy has always seemed to like
me."

"I think that it was just a hateful twisting of something Peggy did say,
or maybe it was just made up. What sort of a girl is this Mathilde Finn
anyway? And how is it that I haven't met her if she goes to Lyon High?"

"Oh, she was out last year, at a private school, but she is coming back.
They have plenty of money and Mathilde thinks that she is everybody, you
know. She was abroad this summer and was somewhere with Peggy last week.
They came back earlier than they intended. Somebody was sick. The girls
used to call her 'Finny' and I imagine that she will hear the same
nickname this year, though she hates it."

Betty laughed. "If she only knew it, she's given you a pretty nice
nickname at that. Why shouldn't you _like_ to be called Gypsy? Why,
Kathryn, I know a perfectly _darling_ girl, only a grown-up one, that
everybody calls Gypsy; and she likes it and signs her letters Gypsy!"

Kathryn shook her head. "To be told that I looked like a horrid old
gypsy!"

"You couldn't look horrid if you tried, Kitten. I've seen you this
summer in your worst old clothes, haven't I now?"

"You certainly have," laughed Kathryn, her black eyes sparkling and her
vivid face all alive amusement at the thought of some of the
performances in which she and Betty had taken part.

"And do you remember that week when Cousin Lil was here and you did
dress up as a gypsy in your attic?"

Kathryn nodded.

"I always meant to tell you that you made the prettiest gypsy in the
world, the nice, romantic _Romany_ kind, you know, with a handsome lover
and everything as spuzzy as gypsies could have."

"You're the kind of a friend to have, Betty Lee," laughingly Kathryn
remarked; "but I always wanted to have golden hair, like yours, and be a
goddess-like creature, all pink and white."

"Isn't it funny--and ever since I read a story about a beautiful
creature with black, black hair and flashy dark eyes--I longed to look
like that, so entrancingly fascinating!"

"Probably that is the way girls are, want to look like something else.
Well, I don't know that I'd mind being called Gypsy. It _is_ a cute
nickname. Oh, did you know that Carolyn is coming back today or
tomorrow?"

"Gypsy"--and Betty looked wickedly at Kathryn as she used the term.
"Gypsy," Betty repeated, "I have had just one letter from Carolyn all
this summer. I answered it and wrote _pages_; but not one word more have
I had. If you have had a late letter I'm terribly jealous."

"Good!" returned Kathryn. Then her face grew a little sober. "No, Betty,
I've not heard from Carolyn either, except a card at the first of the
summer. But I may as well confess one more secret. I've been telling you
everything I know all summer, you know."

At this point a slender brown hand and slim brown arm reached over after
Betty's almost equally tanned head. "It's this and I'm ashamed of it,
too. I've been worrying for fear when Carolyn comes we can't be such
friends as we have been this summer."

"Why not, Kathryn Allen!" Betty squeezed the hand which had slipped
inside of her grasp and sat a little closer on the step of the porch.
"Is that why you said 'good,' when I said I'd be jealous?"

"Yes. Because I'm jealous myself."

"Jealousy is a very bad--um--quality."

"Yes; I know it. But I do hate to have you like Carolyn best!"

As Betty looked now seriously into Kathryn's face so near her, she saw
that Kathryn was in earnest and that tears were springing into her eyes.
"Why, Kitty!" she exclaimed softly. "I didn't know you liked me as much
as that. I'm rather glad to know it, though it's very silly, 'cause I'm
not worth it."

"Yes you are, Betty Lee. I'm not an old silly softy, Betty. You know
that. I don't go around having crushes and all that. But I like to be
with you. And when Carolyn comes--" Kathryn could not finish her
sentence.

Betty's arm was around Kathryn now. "Listen, Kathryn--I'm glad you told
me this, because if you hadn't and had gone on and felt bad, when there
wasn't any need of it, it would have been horrid. But you know I do like
Carolyn a lot, and will you feel bad if I show it? That would make it
pretty hard for me, too. There isn't any 'best' about it. I never
thought about it at all. You know how wonderful Carolyn and Peggy have
been to me, ever since I came to the high school as a scared little
freshman, almost a year ago."

"Yes; they're my friends, too."

"I'm not sure but I know you a little better than either of them now,
after this queer summer and all our being together and having so much
fun. Why, I shall look at you even in class when I think of something
funny. And if you cast those gypsy eyes in my direction with that look
of yours, when I'm reciting Latin or Math or something----"

Betty stopped to laugh, and Kathryn gave an answering chuckle. Tension
was lessening. The idea of Kathryn's feeling that way! Well, surprises
were always happening.

"I like to have friends, Kathryn; and you have ever so many."

"Yes, Betty, and I have sense enough to know that a girl like you will
always have a great many, just like Carolyn."

"I can't see that either of us have more than you have. But that isn't
important, after all. Let me tell you what Mother said one time when the
twins were fussing and Dick said that Mother liked Doris best. Mother
pretty nearly said that there wasn't any best about it. She said that
she loved all her children to pieces, whatever they did; that each child
had his own place in her heart, and that she didn't even love them all
together in a lump, just separately and a great deal. No child could
take the place of another and she couldn't even be happy in heaven
unless we all were along!"

"Your mother must be a dear. Well, I know she is, from what I saw of her
last year. Mother says that she wants to know her better, judging from
what she has seen of you this summer."

"Why, how nice! Gypsy, you'll spoil me."

"No I won't. You're unspoilable! But I'd like to be friends with you
forever. Honestly, Betty, I'm not going to be crabby about your being
with Carolyn, or Peggy, or anybody."

"It wouldn't be like you, Kathryn; and let's make a sure-bond of
friendship, to tell each other things the way we have this summer. And
you can count on me, Kathryn, not to say mean things about you; so if
Mathilde or anybody says things, please come straight to me about it,
will you?"

"Yes, I will, but I couldn't believe that you could say mean things; you
don't say them about anybody."

"Oh, dear, I'm afraid I do criticize sometimes!"

"I never heard you say a mean thing--so live up to what I think of you,
Betty Lee!" Kathryn was grinning at Betty now.

"I'll try to," laughed Betty. "It's good of you to think I'm nice. Wait
till I bring you another piece of fudge." Betty dashed into the house,
to return with the fudge pan, which they placed between them. That fudge
_was_ good. It was in just the right stage, a little soft, but firm
enough to hold in pieces. It certainly did melt in one's mouth.

"Is the back door locked?" asked Kathryn.

"Yes, indeedy. We must go in pretty soon, for Father will be driving out
early. He said he was going to take us to a chicken dinner at Rockmont,
a real country dinner. I hope they'll have corn on the cob!"

"Yum-yum!"

"Oh, I'm _so_ happy over your spending this week with me, Kathryn, and I
think it so wonderful of your mother to let you do it!"

                                --------

This was toward the close of Betty Lee's odd, but interesting summer,
after her freshman year in Lyon High. The summer months had been very
hot at times, but the city was still new to Betty, with much left to be
seen and all its summer forms of entertainment to be investigated. As
she had written more than once to her mother, "I'd rather be here than
_anywhere_, Mother. You needn't feel sorry for me. It's absolutely
nothing to look after the house, and Father takes me out to dinner so
often that he will be bankrupt, I'm afraid."

It had been the Lee custom since "time immemorial," as Betty had told
Kathryn Allen, for Mrs. Lee to take the children to her mother's for
most of the summer. There, at "Grandma's," in the country, they had
become acquainted with all the pleasure and some of the lighter work,
indeed, that the big farm afforded.

But this year Grandma was not so well. The first plan had been for Dick
to accompany his mother and small Amy Lou, for Dick was to "work," at
least to have certain duties, in looking after the stock, particularly
the horses, of which he was especially fond, and the chickens, for this
branch of farm life had been developed into quite a plant.

Betty was to "keep house for Papa," and Doris was to be with her part of
the time, at least. But this arrangement did not work well. Doris was
disappointed and not very sweet about it. She resented Betty's
authority, yet was too young to have as much judgment as Betty.
Accordingly, Doris was bundled off to the farm by her father and Mrs.
Lee's worries over Betty's being alone through so much of the day
commenced. This was when Kathryn began to come over so often, spending
whole days with Betty. To be sure, there were other people in the house,
the two who lived in the upper part of the house. But sometimes Mr. Lee
was delayed, or there would be some evening conference, which made the
safe disposition of Betty necessary to be considered; and Betty began to
have visitors.

She always declared that her real knowledge of the art of cooking began
the summer she "kept house for Father," and had, "one after another,"
her "sisters and her cousins and her aunts" come to visit her. "I
couldn't let them do all the cooking, could I? And we had three meals a
day. My, it was good when Father took us out for dinner!"

But the "sisters and cousins and aunts" amounted to only one young
cousin, Lilian Lee, bright girl of about seventeen years, and an older
one, related to her mother. She enjoyed being escorted around the city
by Betty, who added to her own knowledge at the same time. The only
drawback during the three weeks of this visit was that Cousin Eunice was
so afraid of burglars. Betty privately informed her father that she
"most smothered" every night, because her cousin was afraid to have the
windows up enough.

Then there was one unexpected guest whom Betty enjoyed, a former school
chum of her mother's with her daughter, a girl about Betty's age. They
were motoring through and expected to find Mrs. Lee at home. But they
were persuaded to stay a few days when it was found that Mr. Lee was
obliged to make a trip away. Their coming was "providential," Betty
declared.

So the summer had flown by on wings, with a little practicing on the
precious violin, much less than anticipated, but with much coming and
going, rides about the city, visits to the little resorts near by and
several excursions on the river boats. It was characteristic of Betty,
who usually forgot the unpleasant features, that she should write to her
mother of "one continuous picnic," which she declared the summer to have
furnished. "Of course," she added, "there have been some funny times,
and I burnt up toast and scorched some soup, and things like that, but
it's all been very exciting!"

Mrs. Lee thought that very likely some of it had been too exciting to be
safe; but she did not spoil Betty's morale by too many cautions, other
than the general rules she had established before she left.

And now, while the girls talked of intimate matters in the late
afternoon on the Lee porch, here came a big car that stopped before the
house and someone leaned out, waving excitedly.



CHAPTER II: CAROLYN ARRIVES


"Carolyn!" exclaimed Betty and Kathryn in one breath. Both girls jumped
up and ran toward the pavement where Carolyn, trim and pretty, and still
in her traveling suit, was lightly and quickly leaving the car, looking
back for a word or two with its occupants and then, smilingly, coming to
meet her two friends.

"Am I still on your list of friends?" she asked, holding Betty off after
an embrace. "Kathryn, I don't deserve to have such a nice welcome and I
know it! Will you girls ever _forgive_ me for not writing?"

It was the old Carolyn. My, but she was sweet. Betty knew why, "all over
again," as she said to herself--why she loved Carolyn Gwynne.

"Do you have to do anything for ten minutes or so?" continued Carolyn,
walking between the girls to the porch and being escorted, not to the
steps, but to a hanging swing in which they all could sit.

"Not a thing," Betty assured her, "and for more than ten minutes, I
hope, if you are mentioning how long you can stay."

"They'll be back for me," said Carolyn. "We came most of the way by
train, but were met, and I asked to drive around this way in case I
should see anything of Betty, to make my peace with her--and here are
both of you. I'm positively afraid to meet Peggy Pollard. I owe her two
letters, and I don't owe you girls but one! And oh, I've the grandest
plan for next summer. Positively, you've both got to begin planning now
to come to our camp with me. Even if I didn't write, I thought of
you--every time I went in swimming, Betty--or almost, to be real
truthful--I could see you in your bathing suit, cutting the 'dashing
waves' or rolling in the sand with me."

"I'd love 'rolling in the sand' with you, Carolyn," laughed Betty, "but
I've had a perfectly delicious summer at home. I am, of course, _very
much offended_ at you for not having answered my letter; but I'm afraid
I can't keep it up because there's so much to talk about. Kathryn, can
you stay mad at Carolyn?"

"Never could," smiled Kathryn. "Carolyn gets away with a lot of things
she forgets because she is so nice about remembering some more important
things."

"There!" exclaimed Carolyn. "You're a friend worth having, Kathryn!" And
Carolyn wondered at the affectionate glance, full of meaning, that Betty
gave Kathryn. It was generous of Kathryn to praise Carolyn, in view of
her acknowledged bit of jealousy.

"Betty, I laughed and laughed over that letter. It was too clever for
words. And the funny things that happened to you! How do people ever
keep house and remember all the things that they have to be careful
about? I suppose it's nothing unusual to have somebody at the back door,
a ring at the front door, the ice man coming and all while a body is
talking at the telephone and trying to get an important message, but you
certainly made it funny. 'Hello, hello--yes, Father--I don't quite get
that--where did you say to meet you?--mercy, there is the ice man and
somebody else is knocking, too and the door-bell is ringing--what'll I
do?--you can't hold the 'phone?'--something like that, Kathryn. And you
_must_ have been scared the time you forgot to keep the screen door
fastened and that agent walked right in."

"Yes," laughed Betty. "I thought he was taking a gun from his pocket and
I backed toward the front room door, ready to run, while he fixed me
with his awful eye, and then asked me if I wanted to buy whatever he
had. I didn't even look at it. I gasped out, 'No, sir,' and then I heard
what I had on the gas stove boiling over and knew it would put out the
gas; so I turned and fled, and when I came back the man was gone and
nothing was missing!"

"How soon can you girls come out? I'll be unpacking tomorrow and the
house will be upset while things are getting back into shape again, but
the day after that--oh, have you heard about Louise Madison, and Ted
Dorrance?"

Carolyn's manner was so impressive as she asked this question that
Betty's heart gave a little leap. What could be the matter! An accident?

"What about them?" asked Kathryn, "married?"

"Not a bit of it. Just the other way. My sister heard all about it.
Somebody wrote to her from the same summer resort where the Dorrances
and the Madisons _happened_ to be together. Somebody that goes to the
University was there, too, and paid a lot of attention to Louise; and
she liked it--and him, of course--and you may imagine what Ted thought
about it. So all at once Ted left and went somewhere else, with some
boys from here, and the girl that wrote to sister claims that Louise is
engaged to the other man, though we don't believe it. Louise is only a
freshman in college!"

"You never can tell, Carolyn," wisely returned Kathryn. "Louise is sort
of flirty anyhow. And, for that matter, Ted is pretty nice to all the
girls, only since he has been taking Louise around there's been nobody
else."

"It seems too bad," remarked Betty, pondering. "They are both so nice. I
thought it so romantic last year."

"I never thought it could last," said Carolyn, "from what my sister said
then. You see, Louise is older than Ted and a year ahead of him in
school; and it doesn't stand to reason that when she is with all these
University people next year, in the same classes, and the boys liking
Louise the way they always do--that Ted would have much of a chance."

"But Ted is a very unusual boy," Betty insisted.

"Ted _is_ one of those boys that everybody likes," Carolyn assented.
"Well, we'll let him look after himself. Kathryn, did you hear that
Finny is coming back to join her more democratic sisters in the
sophomore class?"

"Yes. I was just telling Betty about her. Do you know why she decided to
come back to high school?"

"I wouldn't say anything about it except to you two and Peggy, because
it wouldn't be fair to Mathilde not to let her have a chance to make her
own reputation in high school; but I'm pretty sure, from all the really
mean things I heard said about her, that even 'discounting' the truth of
some of them, as the person that repeated the most said to me, the
school where she was didn't exactly appreciate her. Besides, she failed
in several branches and had to make up what she could this summer. But
she'll be a sophomore all right. Now, please don't tell a word of this.
I wouldn't want it to come from me, or be mean to Mathilde, though I'm
going _very slowly_ in that direction!"

This from kind Carolyn was a good deal, as Betty knew. Still, in the
excitement of the return and news telling, girls were likely to say too
much.

"We'll say nothing," replied Kathryn. "At least I can promise for
myself, and you know Betty."

"Oh, how did violin practice go, Betty? You didn't say a word about it
in your letter. It didn't 'harmonize,' to be very musical in my
speech--with washing dishes and cooking and having company did it?"

"Not so very well, Carolyn, but I really did a little bit every day and
I played for Father and he liked it. He would, you know, because I was
doing it, though I will say that Father couldn't stand a discord or a
rasping bow. Jazz makes him nearly crazy when the discord lasts too
long, you know. He took Cousin Lil and me to a movie and got up and
left, asking me if I'd mind first. I whispered that he could stop his
ears while the jazz lasted, but he shook his head; and when we got
outside there was Father waiting to take us into where we could get a
sundae. He said he had accomplished several errands."

"Think you will get into the orchestra?"

"That is another thing. I did want to, you know. But I found out that I
couldn't be a real member until I was a junior, unless I was a genius or
something so wonderful that they had to have me. I was told that this
summer, so my energy lagged in the hot weather. Father said he was sorry
because I 'lacked an incentive,' but I don't know. I like violin anyhow,
and maybe it's just as well not to feel hurried and lose all your
dreams."

"Now isn't that like you, Betty! That's one reason I like you," Carolyn
declared, "because you do have 'dreams.'"

Carolyn looked at Kathryn as if for confirmation of her speech and
Kathryn nodded with a wide smile.

"I'm very practical, though, girls. I'm not sure that having dreams is
altogether good, either."

"First you say one thing and then you say another," Kathryn accused her.
"It's as bad as saying it the way Mr. Simcox answers our questions:
'Well, _yes_; and _no!_'"

Kathryn had so nearly presented their teacher's voice and intonation
that Carolyn and Betty answered with giggles. But Kathryn went on to
say, with real seriousness underlying her fun, "What we should say about
Betty is that she is hitching her wagon to a star and it makes everybody
else want to hitch up, too."

"'Inspiration,' then," said Carolyn. "What'll I hitch up with? I
couldn't play a violin."

"_As_piration," chuckled Betty. "Pick out your brightest dream, 'Caro,'
and put on the harness!"

"She calls me 'Caro.' What kind of syrup do you like best, Betty?"

"'Scuse me, Carolyn. I felt affectionate and had to make up a nickname."

"You are excused. Really, we might have made some little names of our
own to call each other by. Wouldn't it be fun?"

Betty looked mischievously at Kathryn. "We were talking of nicknames
this afternoon, Kathryn and I."

"Betty!"

Carolyn looked from one to another. "You have some secret. That is mean,
to leave out your old and tried friend Carolyn."

"Oh, it wasn't anything, Carolyn, only I'm joking Kathryn about a
nickname she doesn't like."

"I'm not so sure now but I _do_ like it," Kathryn replied, taking up
Betty's half explanation. "Tell Carolyn if you want to."

"Not all of it?"

"Yes, what Peggy is supposed to have said."

Upon this permission from Kathryn, Betty explained that a speech of
Peggy's had been repeated by Mathilde to Kathryn and how the gypsy
reference had been interpreted. "Do you think that Peggy Pollard would
be likely to say anything unkind about Kathryn?" Betty asked in
concluding.

"I can't imagine it. Kathryn, notice how Peggy acts when you see her and
if I were you I'd feel around with some reference to something of the
sort. I'll wager you'll find Peggy as ignorant as can be of even what
you mean. You'll find out that Peggy Pollard is all right. And by the
way, I hear that they are having little sororities in spite of the
rules. If it is all right, and the authorities allow it, why not?
There's one in our class started! The question is who started it, and
why, and how, and if so, can we make it, and do we want to make it----"

Carolyn was obliged to stop for breath.

"Hum," said Kathryn. "Yes, I've heard about it, but I didn't tell Betty.
I heard Betty's father say that he was glad there weren't any sororities
in high school!"

"Poor Mr. Lee!" exclaimed Carolyn. "Betty, do you know what you're going
in for this year--swimming, I suppose?"

"Oh, yes. But no, I haven't thought about it. I took everything with
such seriousness last year; but if I want to, I'll sign up for a number
of things this year. They don't meet often, and you can always stop if
you can't keep on, and I'd love to be on some team, if there'd be no
trouble about it."

"There's always trouble about making a team. There are too many that
want to be on it."

"But you can try out, and if you stand better than somebody else, you
get it and she doesn't. That _oughtn't_ to make trouble."

"Why don't you try out for the hockey team in the fall and the
basketball in the winter?"

"Perhaps I will. Wait till the time comes. Oh, there's your car,
Carolyn. What a shame!"

"Yes, and I haven't made a date with you at all."

"There's always the telephone," Betty reminded her. "It was lovely of
you to stop, Carolyn. See you soon. Come back as soon as you can. 'Bye!"



CHAPTER III: THE GREAT SURPRISE


Betty Lee had not forgotten that, in the nature of a reward, she was to
have a surprise at the end of the summer; but nothing had been said
about it by her father and Betty felt a delicacy about reminding him of
it. Now only two weeks remained before the opening of school. Betty was
eager to begin, strange as it may seem; but boys and girls, even those
not particularly keen about their studies, do look forward to the
companionship, the gay plans, the activities that school brings them.

One week more would bring the twins, Dick and Doris, little Amy Lou and,
best of all, Mother! Perhaps the surprise would not occur until the
family was together again. Poor Daddy! How hard he had been working--not
even a chance to drive up to the farm over a week-end; for it was a long
drive, and it was not thought best to try it while Grandmother was so
miserable and nervous. Accordingly, everybody tried to make the best of
the separation, Dick had written, "we can hoop (whoop) and holler
outdoors, but believe me we're quiet in the house. Even Amy Lou has
stopped whining."

Then, on Sunday morning, when Betty and her father were driving home
from church, he asked her, "Are your clothes in proper shape for a trip
to New York with me tomorrow?"

Mr. Lee looked a little guilty, for it had been a letter from his wife
that had reminded him of the comparative importance of clothes, and he
had not thought about it.

"Why--Father! Do you mean it?" cried Betty, who sat beside her father
and looked at his smiling face, turned straight ahead to watch traffic,
for many machines were whirling along at the close of the various church
services.

"Oh, I know! Is that the surprise?"

Mr. Lee nodded assent. "I meant to tell you before, but we had so much
doing yesterday that I forgot it--well, to tell the truth, I was not
sure that I could get away at all. There was some talk of sending
another man. But Murchison thought that I'd had more experience with
this sort of a job; and moreover, he wants me to meet his sister and a
niece who has been at school in Switzerland."

"Oh!" softly cried Betty again. "Murchison" was the big man in the
business, the man who had offered her father the opportunity in the
company. Although Betty had visited the office occasionally, she had
never seen the "big bug," as Dick called him.

There was silence for a little. Cars passed and Mr. Lee stopped once to
pick up a man he knew and take him on to his residence. "Missed you
coming out," said Mr. Lee, and the two men talked while Betty tried to
digest the great news. Betty had never been to New York. She had never
spent a night on the train. It would be _glorious_! Of _course_ she had
clothes ready. Oh, that was what Mother meant when she told Betty always
to have her suit and accompanying garments ready. At the time, Betty had
thought that her mother feared a call of everybody to the farm, if
Grandma continued to "go down." Dear me, she had had such a good time,
as things had turned out, with the girls staying with her, or other
company, that she didn't need any other reward. Still, Betty knew that
she had worked hard at times. Even with the woman who came occasionally
to clean, things would get "so messy," though Betty was learning now not
to make work for herself by carelessness. She was glad that she had
planned a nice Sunday dinner for the two of them at home today. And
Father had said, "Do not invite anybody for this week, Betty." This was
what he had in mind, and would not tell her for fear of some
disappointment. That was it, she knew, more than his "forgetting."

"Oh, Father, I'm so excited," she exclaimed, as they left the car in
front of the house, ready for a drive, if they should feel like it. "I'm
all mixed up and you'll have to watch me or I'll burn up the dinner or
something!"

"I thought that you'd like the plan, Betty; but I was a little afraid
that something would happen to upset it. It was understood long ago that
I was to go to New York in the fall. This meeting the countess is a new
proposition, however. Do you think we are equal to it?"

"'The Countess!'"

"Yes; at least I think it is a countess. I will have her name in full,
however, before we go to the ship after her."

Mr. Lee's eyes were twinkling, and Betty, after one look at him began to
laugh. "You're breaking it to me by degrees, aren't you? Well, I guess I
can stand it. I'm awfully hungry right now, aren't you? Seems to me the
sermon was longer than usual. Wait till I put on the potatoes and then
please tell me everything!"

"I will, child, and I'll not tease you a bit. I'll help you with the
dinner. Didn't you say you had a 'T-bone' steak for the two of us? Just
watch me broil that steak!"

"Oh, goody! We'll have a lot of fun. I'm going to heat some canned
asparagus tips for our other veg'table, and throw together a fruit
salad, on head lettuce, and I bought a grand pie at the exchange
yesterday. Will that be enough?"

"Indeed it will, and I have the dearest little cook in three counties. I
presume you'll have bread and butter, however; and suppose we have an
iced drink instead of coffee."

"Oh, yes, by all means. You fix the ice, Daddy, and I'll squeeze about
two oranges and two lemons, I think--right away, so it'll be cold!"

A happy girl worked with a capable father, who took off his coat, tied
an apron around his waist and had as much fun as Betty, especially when
the time came to cook the steak. Appetite did not lack when dinner was
ready and before there was any thought of dish washing, Mr. Lee sent
Betty to hunt up her over-night bag and looked up his own grip. "Put in
a dress that you can wear to dinner in a hotel, Betty," said he, "and
don't forget the fixings."

"Oh, Daddy, my chiffon dress won't muss a bit and I mustn't forget my
shoes that go with it!"

Betty forgot all of her duties as a housekeeper, as she laid out on the
bed the array of what she wanted to take with her to New York--_New
York!_ "How long are we going to stay, Father?" she called from her
bedroom.

"Just two or three days--have to be back to meet Mother and the
children, you know."

"How long does it take to get there?"

"About a night and half a day," replied Mr. Lee, who was preparing
another small surprise for Betty. She was so absorbed that she did not
realize how time flew until she ran back into the dining room and found
that her father had cleared the table and was washing the last dish.

"How awful! Father, I'm just as sorry as I can be! I never saw you
washing dishes before!"

"I have, daughter, in dire emergencies, but this time it was for fun.
Are all the gew-gaws, or doo-dads, ready?"

"I've got everything I ought to have, I think, 'cept washing out some
silk stockings. Do you think it would be wicked if I'd do it tonight?"

"That is, indeed, a serious matter," grinned Mr. Lee, looking like Dick.
"But since it is my fault and not yours, and they will have to get dry
to be packed, we might consider it. And matters of necessity are
different, though we'd not make a point of saving our stockings to be
washed on the Sabbath, would we?"

"Oh, Father, you are just killing! What time tomorrow do we start?"

"Not until night. We get right on the sleeper and go to bed."

"Hurrah. Then I've plenty of time."

"And the muted question can be put off for decision until some other
time?"

"Yes. Mother says if we begin to do weekday things on Sunday, we're
likely to keep on."

"Your mother is always right, and the oldest daughter has to be an
example."

"I never can tell when you are joking and when you aren't! I'm no
example, Father! Oh, I'm just almost crazy with delight. Wait till I
call up Kathryn and Carolyn and Peggy to tell them what the surprise
was! And, oh, I have to leave the house in order!"

In such a fashion the great surprise was inaugurated. A very demure and
well-mannered young girl of nearly sixteen years accompanied a dignified
but wide-awake business man to the train Monday night. Betty was
concerned with the mysteries of a berth in a sleeping car and was glad
of her father's clear directions. She would not for "worlds" appear
ignorant of what to do, though she might well be excused for not
knowing. But Betty was sensitive, quick to learn what was proper and
polite, and a little too proud not to be unduly mortified at any
mistake.

At the station Mr. Murchison met them, talking for a little with Mr. Lee
about business which Betty did not understand, and in which she was only
slightly interested. He had met Betty courteously but was preoccupied
with plans with her father. As the train was called, however, he turned
to Betty. "You are just about the age of my niece, I judge. Her mother
is to make the experiment of placing my niece in the public schools. It
may be that you will be in the same school. If so, I shall be glad to
have her know you, for you can be of great help to her, doubtless. It is
unfortunate that she does not want to come to America."

"I shall be very glad if I can be of any service to your niece,"
returned Betty, a bit stiffly, for Mr. Murchison's keen eyes rather
disconcerted her. Betty was not sure that she liked him "a bit." But of
course she had to, for her father's sake. Who was that foolish girl that
didn't want to come to America? Of course Mr. Murchison's sister was one
of those American girls who had married a titled foreigner. So her
father had said. But Betty smiled at Mr. Murchison and prettily said her
farewell.

How funny the Pullman looked, all green curtains already down, berths
all made up. As it had suddenly turned cold, Betty's father asked the
porter for extra blankets, showed Betty where to put her things and
advised her to know which berth was hers when she came back from the
dressing room. But Betty decided to mark hers in some way and finally
tucked up the curtain in a certain fashion before she explored the
dressing room. It was more private, she decided, to undress in her
berth. Also, she would wear her silk kimona all night! It was cold
enough.

For a long time Betty could not sleep, but finally Nature overcame
unaccustomed nerves and she fell into a sound sleep, not to waken till
her father called her. She decided that she liked traveling and would
like to go into a "diner" often, to eat the sort of pancakes that were
brought on in covered silver dishes, and to help her father decide what
would make a good breakfast.

The scenery was interesting. It was new to pass through the different
states. She would never forget it. And New York! Was this really Betty
Lee, riding in a taxi up Broadway and along Fifth Avenue?

Owing to her father's different errands, which he accomplished by taxi
for the most part, to expedite matters, Betty was taken to various parts
of the city, even to the docks.

They crossed the Hudson on a ferry boat without getting out of their
taxi. Birds flew about. Different kinds of crafts floated upon the
river. A great liner was just entering a space between piers. "Will Mr.
Murchison's sister come in on a boat like that?" asked Betty.

"Something like that," answered Mr. Lee. "How do you like this
incidental sight-seeing?"

"Ever so much, especially since you bought me the map. I look it all up,
and I'm glad to go over the same streets more than once, especially
Fifth Avenue and Broadway. I know Madison Square Park and the City Hall
Square already."

Betty had one rather lonesome day at the hotel when her father could not
let her accompany him, but after that he took her on regular
sight-seeing trips, during which she saw more than most strangers
because of her father's familiarity with the city. She decided that she
could find her way by herself, but her father preferred not to have her
attempt any "solo flights," he said.

Business was completed in comparatively short order. Mr. Lee sent
telegrams to his firm; but then they were held, as Betty, at least,
could not regret, by the non-arrival of the expected countess. Day by
day the reports of the incoming ships were changed somewhat. There had
been storms and fog. Sea traffic was held up, said Betty, and her father
said that if the ships all came in safely they would do well. At the
same time, he was rather restless. It did not look as if they would be
able to carry out their plans. "Oh, what if we can't get there before
Mother?" Betty asked.

"In that case, I shall merely telegraph her. The key is with the people
upstairs, you know. Your mother will understand. But I'd rather meet my
own wife than any countess!"

"And I'll be a day late at school, if the ship puts off coming in much
longer! But Father, I can't be sorry to have these great days in New
York. What shall we do today?"

"We shall see. Wait till I telephone the steamship company at the pier
again."

Then came a telegram from home. A cablegram had been received stating
that the countess and her daughter had sailed on a different ship from
the one she had written her brother to meet. It was the _Statendam_,
Holland-American line, due Saturday.

That settled it. Mother could not be met. Mr. Lee telegraphed to Mr.
Murchison that he would meet the _Statendam_. To the farm and to the
home, in case there was some delay in the country, word went that Mr.
Lee and Betty were unavoidably detained in New York. Betty was rather
worried about missing school Monday, as was most likely, but she enjoyed
the excitement and the extra expeditions due to the delay. It was an ill
wind that didn't blow _anybody_ any good, she remarked. "Can we leave as
soon as the ship comes?"

"That, Betty, is in the hands of a very uncertain woman, I judge,"
smiled Mr. Lee. "It will be necessary to do whatever Mr. Murchison
himself would be obliged to do. I shall handle the matter as well as I
can."

"Are you scared because she is a countess?"

"Scarcely. But be as polite and helpful as you can, Betty. Having you
will make it all easier, I think. Privately, Betty, I gathered that Miss
Murchison was very badly spoiled as a girl. People exist to do her
pleasure. See?"

"And we pretend that we like it?"

"No--it is not necessary to pretend anything. We really want to help
them, do we not?"

"Oh, yes; but I _dee-spise_ being patronized."

"Of course. A true lady, however, does not show it--indeed, it is almost
impossible to patronize a true lady."

"Hum. That is all very well in theory, my precious father, but--well, I
suppose I'm not a true lady inside!"

The _Statendam_, due on Saturday, arrived on Sunday, and Betty with her
father, was somewhat annoyed as they crossed on the ferry, to see the
tall smoke stacks and funnels of the liner already at the pier. "Stars!"
cried Betty. "Now we're late, and no knowing what has happened to the
countess!"



CHAPTER IV: BETTY MEETS THE COUNTESS


"We shall not worry about being late, Betty. They have to get through
customs first and it is doubtful if all the baggage is off the vessel as
yet. It can not have been in long."

Nevertheless Betty could see that her father was uneasy. The taxi lost
no time in speeding from the ferry to the pier where the great ship
stood. Such a coming and going of cars and buses, in and out of a great
entrance! Other cars and taxies waited their turn outside. Their taxi
found a place to stop and deliver its passengers, but Mr. Lee had to
steer Betty carefully through the throng of people and cars.

Next came the art of finding their friends. Mr. Lee had cards which
entitled them to enter customs. "My, I hope we find them!" said Betty
for the third or fourth time. "And oh, how do you speak to a countess?
Shall we call her 'La Countessa'? or just Countess Coletti? And what is
the daughter of a countess called--anything at all? Or could I call her
'Signorina?'?" Betty had been reading an Italian story.

"I'm sure I don't know, Betty, but it would be sensible, I think, to
keep to English, especially as the countess is an American. I shall not
get away from 'Countess Coletti' and perhaps we shall not have to
address the daughter particularly. 'Miss Coletti' does sound like a
funny combination, doesn't it! Try out 'la signorina' if you like. I
don't know that we are of any special importance anyway." They were
climbing the stairs now and Betty's father gave her arm a little squeeze
as he spoke, looking laughingly down into her face.

"Yes, we _are_," said Betty, "and we can _learn_ how to do it
_properly_!"

Fortunately the countess and her daughter had not yet finished with
customs. When Mr. Lee and Betty found the proper place and stood looking
about, they had little difficulty in selecting the two whom they thought
were the countess and her daughter. "We ought to have arranged to wear a
red rose or a white gardenia or something," said Betty. "But that is the
countess, I'm sure. Look, she has a maid with a lot of little baggage,
and everybody is doing things for her. Wait a minute, Daddy. She's
having an argument with the customs officer, I guess--isn't she?"

Mr. Lee did wait. Though anxious to serve the lady, he did not care to
sponsor her declaration in regard to duty payable to Uncle Sam, and it
must be said that the countess looked perfectly able to take care of her
own interests. But the affair seemed to be adjusted amicably. A great
quantity of baggage, it seemed, was hastily examined, and as Mr. Lee saw
that they would soon be ready for departure, he approached, with Betty.

"Is this the Countess Coletti?" he inquired politely, though by this
time he had noted the name upon one of the trunks. "Your brother, Mr.
Murchison----"

"Oh, did Lem send you to meet me?" vivaciously the countess interrupted,
"That is good. I was just wondering if any one was here. Where's Lem?"

Mr. Lee had had no opportunity to mention who he was, but he explained
that her brother was not able to leave affairs and that he would make
any arrangements for her and her daughter. "My name is Lee, Countess
Coletti, and this is my daughter, Betty."

"Oh, yes," brightly answered the countess, "I am very happy to met
you--and Miss Betty. This is my daughter Lucia, Mr. Lee--and Miss Lee.
Now if we can arrange to have all this baggage sent to whatever station
my brother said, and get us to a hotel for the night, I shall be very
much obliged. I want to go right on through tomorrow; but Lucia is very
much upset and so am I, for that matter. It was a horribly rough
passage. This customs business is always so trying!"

"I am sorry to have been late," said Mr. Lee, "but the hour told me over
the telephone was much later."

"Oh, yes. You never can tell. It wouldn't have made any difference. They
were very good about getting all my baggage off early, as I made quite a
point of it. There were mobs on this boat, from first class down.
Suppose we get out of here."

"I have a taxi waiting, Madam," said Mr. Lee, starting to escort the
countess down to where his taxi driver had said he would be waiting
inside. By this time it was very likely that he had been able to enter.
Betty and a very unresponsive girl of about her own height and age
followed. My, but the countess was pretty! And if she had any foreign
airs they were laid aside for the present. But the daughter was cool,
and though polite, most uninterested in the two people whom she had just
met. "Poor thing," thought Betty, "she is worn out and half sick; but I
wish I'd had her chance of crossing the ocean, even if it was so rough."

Both the countess and her daughter were quietly and suitably dressed for
the occasion of leaving the ship. But oh, how evidently expensive
everything they wore must have been. The maids were carrying two
beautiful warm coats, which had obviously just been laid aside when the
cold sea breezes were past and they were no longer necessary. "Send the
maids and the personal baggage in a separate taxi, please," directed the
countess. "We want to be alone."

Whether that was a hint for Mr. Lee and Betty not to accompany them or
not, Mr. Lee did not know, but as he had had no least intention to
accompany them, it did not matter. He had expected, however, that the
maids might be wanted.

Pleasantly he assisted the two ladies into the taxi, one chosen for its
superior appearance, and directed the driver to the hotel, the hotel
selected by Mr. Murchison, who requested that Mr. Lee and Betty stay at
the same one. It was not hard to find a second taxi for the maids, from
the numbers of empty taxis whose drivers were anxious for remunerative
passengers.

"Now, Betty," said Mr. Lee, "for the baggage. You stay in one spot,
right here, where I can find you, while I see about having that lot sent
to the station. Let us hope that nothing is missed! But the countess
told me the number of pieces, all marked with her name, she said."

"Oh, please let me come with you, Father! It's scary here, and it's such
fun to go around. I see where Lu-_chee_-a and I become intimate friends,
don't you?"

Mr. Lee laughed. "The poor child has been seasick," he replied. "But I
fancy that she has been a very unwilling migrant this time. She looked
not only sick but cross."

"Did you notice it, too? But she was real polite to you, Father, and
decent to me. She isn't as good-looking as her mother. I don't blame
Count Coletti for falling in love with her. Probably Lucia looks like
her father."

"He is a very handsome man, I understand," returned Mr. Lee. "I thought
Lucia Coletti rather attractive."

"Yes, but not as much so as her mother. Still, it may be just her
disposition that was sticking out tonight!"

"Why, Betty! That isn't like you."

"I guess I'm tired and cross, too. I will wait for you, right here by
the stairs."

Betty had quite a wait of it, but at last her father appeared and they
took a taxi back to the hotel. There her father inquired if the
countess, daughter and maids had arrived and were occupying the suite
reserved for them. They had arrived, found everything to their
satisfaction, and dinner had been sent up to them.

Betty thought that a little more respect for her father was in the voice
of the man at the desk since the arrival of the countess, for whose
comfort Mr. Lee appeared to be responsible. Glad that everything had
gone successfully for her father, Betty took the elevator to her room to
dress for dinner at the hotel. They did not always dine there, but would
tonight, her father said. It seemed a pity to "waste" their last night
in New York by staying in the hotel, but Mr. Lee had to arrange for
Pullman reservations as well as he could at the last minute, for he had
not had the slightest notion whether the countess would want to stay
several days in New York--or a month--so far as he knew, or whether she
would want to go on home, to her people. He thought, however, that very
likely the decision would be for home. Mr. Murchison had not intimated
any trouble, but Mr. Lee very strongly suspected that there was some
likelihood of a disagreement between the countess and her husband and a
possible separation. This he did not express to Betty.

Fortunately Mr. Lee had no trouble in obtaining reservations on the
train whose time of leaving and of arrival seemed most suitable. A
drawing room for the countess and her daughter, berths for the maids,
and berths for himself and Betty were soon engaged by telephone, and on
Monday morning Mr. Lee went to the station to see that everything was
straight.

This was all very interesting to Betty, whose ideas of how to manage
these matters had been very hazy. The reservation for Mr. Lee and Betty
were in another car, which was just as well, Betty thought, though if
the younger countess--that is, if she is one, thought Betty--had been
friendly, it would have been fun to talk with her about her school in
Switzerland and what she studied and all.

The trip home, however, proved more interesting than Betty anticipated.
Perhaps Countess Coletti had suggested to her daughter that she ought to
pay a little attention to Betty, who did not see either of them on
Monday until the uniformed and meticulous "door-keeper" of the hotel, as
Betty called him, put them all into their separate taxis for the
station. Lucia favored Betty with a smile, which Betty returned; and
when they waited for the train to be called, Lucia asked Betty to be
sure to come for a visit with her on the way. "It will be so stupid this
afternoon," said Lucia. "I'm too tired to read."

Betty promised, but she waited until she thought Lucia might have
reached the state of being bored. So far as Betty was concerned, there
was nothing to tire her, and the scenery was too interesting; guessing
what the rivers were, asking her father, noting the stops and admiring
the suburbs of Philadelphia in particular, furnished her with
considerable entertainment. "I think Pennsylvania is the loveliest yet,"
she confided to her father. "Let's move to Philadelphia some time!"

"Haven't you had enough of a move already?" asked Mr. Lee.

"I think I like adventure, Father," brightly answered Betty.

"I suppose so," rather wearily her father remarked. "But remember, my
lass, that there is a certain safety in being located. Did you say that
the 'younger countess' asked you to call? I think I should do it,
Betty."

"All right, I will. How do I get there?"

"Their car is only one or two in front of ours. Shall I take you?"

"Mercy, no! I can get there after skipping through so many to get to the
dining car on the way to New York. Your daughter considers herself quite
a traveler by this time."

So Betty, rather dreading the coming interview, departed to be
pleasantly surprised. She had no trouble in finding her new
acquaintances and discovered that they were really quite interested in
finding out all Betty could tell them about school.

"I am going to hate it," said Lucia, who spoke with a decided Italian
accent, but used many Americanisms, probably caught from her mother.
"But just the same, if I have to, I have to; and will you help me when I
come out to the school the first time?"

"Certainly I will. But are you sure that you will come to Lyon High?"

"Oh, that can be arranged," carelessly returned Lucia, who was used to
having things "arranged" for her. "I've heard so much about that high
school and if I have to go, I want to go there. There were some American
girls in my school in Lausanne, so I know a little bit about how they
do. Do you like it?"

"Very much. I'd love to hear you tell about the school in Switzerland,
though."

Lucia was in a favorable mood. For the next hour she and Betty talked,
while Betty heard about life in foreign countries and what Lucia had
studied in her different schools there. She was advanced in some lines,
Betty found, behind in others, but Betty told her that it all sounded as
if she would be a sophomore. "Will you use any title?" Betty rather
timidly asked, for she thought that if Lucia was a "countess or
something" herself, it would not go so well in school.

Countess Coletti heard the question and replied herself. "Lucia is going
to try democracy, Betty Lee. She will be called Lucia Coletti or Miss
Coletti everywhere. I want her to have a little American training. To be
sure, I was taught in private schools myself, and Lucia may in time
return to them. But not until she has done some _good work_ in high
school."

What was back of Countess Coletti's determined tones Betty did not know.
But there was some strong feeling there; that was certain.

Lucia did not speak of her father, but when Betty said that it was all
fascinating to hear about and asked her where her real home had been,
Lucia after a slight hesitation, waxed almost enthusiastic over an
Italian villa where she "loved to live" best. Every now and then Lucia
would use an Italian expression, which Betty thought very impressive,
though she could not help thinking of some less fortunate Italian girls
in school and she wondered how Lucia would treat them, in case she were
thrown into classes with them.

But here came Father with the suggestion that it was an appropriate time
to go for dinner. Accordingly, he escorted the countess through the
cars, while Betty and Lucia followed. Betty, who always declared that
she thought of too many funny things, wondered about the maids. But when
they were all established at a table, with an obsequious waiter taking
the order from the countess first, Betty saw the two maids at an
inconspicuous table some distance from them. Probably her father had
arranged it.

Then they had a most "scrumptious" meal, by Betty's report at home. She
gave her father an inquiring glance before she decided upon her own
order and he smiled upon her; suggesting that she order a good meal, for
the dining car would be taken off and their breakfast would be delayed.
"We shall probably, all of us, breakfast at home. Mr. Murchison will
meet the countess, Betty, and we shall take a taxi straight home."

So Betty grasped the fact that her father wasn't "caring for expenses,"
as the girls were accustomed to express such recklessness, and modeled
her own order after Lucia's. Comfortably filled, she watched her father
pay the bill and leave what seemed to her an enormous tip for the
waiter. But sakes alive, weren't they dining with a countess?



CHAPTER V: A REAL SOPHOMORE AT LAST


"Hello, Betty Lee! Where in the world have you been?"

Betty was just coming from the office where she had been "signing up"
for her sophomore year's work and obtaining her schedule of studies, her
home room assignment and various points of information. She was very
much interested in seeing to what teachers she would recite, but looked
up smiling at the boy who addressed her. Classes were passing for the
fifth period, the one before lunch, she supposed.

It was Tuesday, but Betty had not been able to get to school till after
the taxi ride home with her father, the exciting reunion of the family,
the good breakfast and many little delays. Dick and Doris had gone to
school on time; but Betty tarried with her mother and could scarcely
stop talking long enough to scrub up and dress suitably for school.

"Why, Chauncey Allen, howdy! I haven't seen you all summer! Where's
Kathryn?"

"Wondering why you didn't show up at school yesterday, I imagine. We
heard nothing else last night at dinner."

"Mother could have told if she'd telephoned. We were just detained at
New York because the _Statendam_ didn't get in on time--just got home
this morning about breakfast time."

"Have a good time?"

"Grand!"

"How was the countess?" Chauncey was grinning widely now.

"All right," smiled Betty. But Chauncey, seeing several girls headed in
Betty's direction, threw up his hands as if to say, "Help, see who's
coming," and with a comical glance at Betty, hurried off to join another
boy.

"Oh, _here_ you are!" exclaimed Peggy Pollard, kissing Betty warmly,
while Betty held out her hands to Selma Rardon and Dotty Bradshaw.

"I didn't think I'd be missed," said Betty, "for you all would be so
busy on opening day; but we can't talk now, can we?"

"No; come on. Are you signed up for Miss Heath's class?"

"Yes. I was so scared for fear I'd get put in another section."

"Good; we'll all be together, then."

Scampering down the halls in order to be on time to class in the limited
time between classes, the girls arrived breathless, Betty to exchange
nods and smiles with girls and boys who were slipping into class room
seats, and to catch a pleasant, welcoming smile from Miss Heath, who
presently, in attending to the roll, gave Betty a chance to present her
card.

How different it was from the year before! Now she knew what to do and
she began the year with a group of dear friends among the girls, to say
nothing of the jolly boys.

There was no lunch in the lunch room on these first days, but the usual
early dismissal occurred. However, a group of Betty's friends sat for a
little while in a grassy spot on the grounds, to discuss important
affairs, as well as to see Betty and each other.

"I hated to leave camp," said Selma, "but isn't it good to be back? Say,
Betty, try out for the hockey team. We need a lot of good material
besides just the regular team."

"Maybe," said Betty.

"Tell us what you saw in New York, Betty," suggested Dotty Bradshaw,
cute little Dotty, as "big as a minute" and so serious about some
things.

"It would take too long," replied Betty.

"Oh, just mention a few things."

"Like Fifth Avenue and Broadway, for instance? Well, the parks and the
Tombs with the 'Bridge of Sighs' across from the Criminal Court----"

Betty adopted a hollow tone here, but went on more cheerfully--"and
Tammany Hall, another wicked place, I suppose, and the skyscrapers and
the Hudson River and of course the statue of 'Liberty Enlightening the
World.' We took a little trip up the Hudson and crossed on the ferries,
and rode out Riverside Drive, and went into the big stores, and I spent
all my money, of course; and we had delicious things to eat at different
places, and museums and art galleries and the Battery. Father gave me a
good time. It was said to be a reward of virtue for keeping house for
him. But I've had a fine time all summer."

"How many art museums did you eat, Betty?" asked Peggy.

Betty looked blank for a moment, then laughed. "I did mention the
museums and art galleries along with things to eat, didn't I? But don't
begin on English now, Peggy. I'll get enough of that pretty soon."

"So will we all," returned Peggy Pollard, pretending to groan.

"_Shall_, Peggy," corrected Carolyn, and Peggy reached over to tweak the
curve on an ear that showed among curling locks. Carolyn had acquired a
new style of hair dressing during the summer, and Betty privately
determined to copy it. It was becoming to Carolyn and she _thought_ it
would be to her. She would try it anyway, and see.

"Did your father meet the countess, Betty?" Carolyn inquired; but just
then two girls sauntered up. They were Mathilde Finn and Kathryn Allen.
Kathryn was making funny signs to Betty behind Mathilde's back, but
Peggy welcomed them both. "'Lo, Finny," said she, "have a seat on the
'over-stuffed' furniture. It's been so dry that we're perfectly safe on
the grass now. How's everything signing up and starting in?"

"Perfectly terrible," returned Mathilde cheerfully, as she plumped down
beside Betty. Kathryn managed to squeeze in beside Betty and whispered,
"You see how friendly Peggy and Mathilde are?"

"M-hm," replied Betty, linking arms with Kathryn. "You'll slide down
this slope the first thing you know."

"Who said something about a countess?" asked Selma.

"I did," answered Carolyn. "I asked Betty if her father met the
countess."

Mathilde gave Betty a glance full of interest. "Introduce me, Peggy,"
she whispered.

"Oh, yes. Betty, I want you to meet a new sophomore, Mathilde Finn.
Mathilde, this is Betty Lee."

Betty smiled and acknowledged the introduction with a little nod, as
Mathilde and Peggy were some little distance away. "I hope you will
enjoy being a sophomore," she said.

"I have been one at another school," Mathilde remarked rather airily.
"But there is such a difference in courses, you know."

Kathryn nudged Betty, who kept countenance and acknowledged that there
was, a great difference. Betty recalled Carolyn's question, but thought
that she would not answer it unless some one insisted.

Curiosity, however, had been aroused. "Well," said Selma, "how about the
'countess,' Betty?"

"Oh," said Betty. "Mr. Murchison asked Father to meet his sister,
Countess Coletti, and her daughter. They came over on the _Statendam_.
That was why I couldn't get home till today. First the ship was to
arrive on--Thursday, I think. Then the New York _Times_ said Friday and
the next day it was Saturday. It really came in on Sunday; so, of
course, we had to wait till we could meet them."

"Did you meet them, too?" asked Selma, a little impressed with Betty's
opportunity.

"Yes, I went with Father to the boat. He thought it would be better,
since Miss Coletti was coming, too."

"What is the girl called, Betty?" asked Peggy.

"Lucia."

"I didn't mean that. Hasn't she any title, too?"

"I don't know what they call her over in Italy, or at the school in
Switzerland that she has been attending. But her mother say that she is
to be Lucia Coletti, or Miss Coletti at school. She wants to come to
Lyon High; but I don't suppose they will hurry about it."

"Are they really going to send her to a _public_ school?" asked Mathilde
in a shocked tone.

"That shows what you really think of the public school, Mathilde Finn,"
said Dotty, not unpleasantly, but with firmness.

"Suppose I _do_," returned Mathilde, a question in her tone, as well as
a bit of resentment.

"Well," said Dotty, "all I have to say is that there are _some_ who
would call that _snobbish_!"

"All right, if you think that, Dotty Bradshaw, think away!"

This was getting a little too warm for comfort and Betty spoke again. "I
think we must all be nice to Lucia, for she will not know what to do,
she says, and besides, she will be terribly homesick. When I first saw
her she was both seasick, or just getting over it, and homesick, too.
But her mother says that Lucia is going to have a taste of American
democracy."

"She will probably get all she wants of it here," sarcastically said
Mathilde. "But Betty Lee is right--we must all be friendly."

Kathryn nudged Betty again. "_She_ will, all right," Kathryn whispered,
"the little snob!"

Betty gave a sideway smile at Kathryn and whispered, "Tut-tut!" But
Kathryn's eyes were twinkling and her expression not as unpleasant as
her words.

"My mother was at school with Miss Murchison, I think," Mathilde
continued. "She will probably call upon the countess."

"And you ought to go with her, Mathilde," wickedly added Kathryn.

At this Betty jumped up. It would be better not to say anything more
about her trip with the countess and her daughter and maids. Betty had
learned since coming to the city that telling all you know, with perfect
frankness, was not always wise. There were some understanding people,
but also many others who were critical, or at least not at all
appreciative. It was sometimes best not to satisfy curiosity or place
yourself open to misunderstanding or criticism. It was a courteous Betty
who said to Mathilde that she hoped she would enjoy being a sophomore
"with the rest of us," and to the rest she said she had too much to do
at home to stay any longer.

"I'm suffering from an aching void, girls," declared Dotty. "It's past
lunch time for me!"

"Come on home with me, Betty," begged Kathryn.

"No, both you come with me," said Carolyn. "I have an arrangement with
Cook for a special lunch of something I adore."

"Thank you, girls; I must get back to Mother, besides having a lot of
things to see to. Just think, I haven't seen my mother all summer,
except just a little while this morning. I have to hear all about how my
grandmother is, and Dick and Doris have actually _grown_ this summer. I
can _see_ it, to say nothing of Amy Lou, who is peachier than ever."

"You do love your family, don't you, Betty Lee?" said Carolyn.

"I should think so!"

"Well, come along, Kathryn. Take pity on me and let's have a good old
visit together. Peggy, can't you come, too?"

Peggy accepted, and Kathryn gave Betty a meaning look as they separated,
taking different cars. "Maybe I'll call you up tonight, Betty," she
said.

"Do it, Gypsy," replied Betty.



CHAPTER VI: DOING HER BEST FOR LUCIA


No message came from Kathryn, and Betty had scarcely time to think of
whether "Gypsy" had had an opportunity to find out anything further
about Peggy's reported speech. How wonderful it was to have Mother at
home again! Betty had missed her presence and advice and help so many
times, fun though it was to take the helm herself. Still, it hadn't
always been so _much_ fun.

Now clothes for school, countless little errands, decisions, and the
work of settling into the routine again engaged Mrs. Lee and the rest of
them. Jelly and fruit canned at the farm was a great asset for the
coming season. Grandma was ever so much better; but a good stout woman
was now installed in the old home. Dick had really been of great help
and Doris had learned to do many things. Amy Lou had been a "lamb" and
had learned to read with Grandma. She was "five years old and reading in
a primer!"

To tell the truth, Betty thought Doris was very cross at present, but
then she might still be resentful about her little flare-up at the last
of her stay with Betty. Betty had apologized for her own share in it,
but the fact was that Doris had been most to blame. They had parted
friends, but Betty felt that her sister had certain reserves with her
and was not warmly affectionate, though she had seemed glad enough to
see her on first arrival.

However, Doris would probably get over it. Betty thought that she'd
better not pay any attention to any grumblings or cross speeches. Dear
me--it was hard enough to keep patience over things at times. How did
Mother ever do it? She must put most of her time and thought on having
the family machinery run smoothly. And Betty was quite right, though a
great purpose for one's children helps any father and mother through.

A telephone message from Countess Coletti to Betty that evening was one
feature of affairs. "Hello--oh--yes'm, this is Betty." Betty was wishing
that she had not said "hello" _quite_ as if she were answering a call
from Kathryn. Betty flushed with embarrassment as she listened to the
first few words from Countess Coletti.

"I am wondering, Miss Betty, if we stop for you with the car tomorrow
morning, you will be willing to go with Lucia and me to interview the
principal of Lyon High a little before school begins. I should like to
have you go around with Lucia and I think I could get you excused from
your classes."

Betty had her doubts about that, but she did not express them. Perhaps
Mr. Murchison's sister could manage it, but the public schools were not
like that. They went on regardless of countesses and influential people
in general, so far as the daily schedule was concerned; and Betty had
had reason to know how particular her principal was about the regular
program of every student. Still, as it was a little unusual--it would be
fun to take Lucia in charge. Betty could imagine how eyebrows would lift
at her and demure glances of her friends in classes of her own would
meet her.

All these thoughts rapidly ran through her mind as she listened to what
further Countess Coletti had to say. Oh, then Lucia's credits were
already in the hands of the principal.

"I see, Countess Coletti," Betty's clear voice made reply. "I shall be
very glad to do anything--oh, yes, I shall be ready to go with you
early. Certainly. I'll find out everything as soon as I see Lucia's
schedule, and meet her at lunch and--oh, well, that is as the principal
says, I suppose. Yes, Countess Coletti. Good-bye."

"My me!" Betty turned from the telephone to see Dick's grin.

"What do you have to do now, Betty, act as nursemaid to the countess'
daughter?"

"Just about, Dick! No, I needn't say that, either. I imagine that Lucia
has a lot of grit herself; though that wasn't my first impression. But
anybody would feel lost in such a big school. I did, and I hadn't been
to private school all my life, either."

Betty went on into the living room and dining room from the hall where
she had been using the telephone. Doris was busy with her lessons there
at the big table, which was usually cleared of anything else for school
books and papers. Any one who wanted real privacy could go to bedroom or
den, as the case might be. Dick had a small set of shelves in his den,
and the girls had a similar set in their bedroom.

Doris did not look up as Betty sat down by her and took up her geometry,
though Betty knew that she must have heard the conversation, or Betty's
part of it, since the wide doors between dining room and the front room
were open, as well as the hall entrance, never closed, for the good
reason that it could not be.

Dick was calling up one of the boys now, to make sure of an assignment.
Presently he, too, was back at the table. "We're in high society now,
Dorry," said he. "Didja hear Betty talking to the countess?"

"Ye-ah," drawled Doris. "I think my mother is better than any countess,
so we needn't get worked up about it."

Betty drew a figure on her sheet of paper. Little Dory was jealous! It
_was_ a shame. Here she had been to New York and had had all the fun!

But Betty need not have felt self-reproachful. She had earned her trip
to New York by her own pleasant spirit, much real effort that to some
girls would have been very trying, and by overcoming some loneliness in
times when company was lacking. Doris would have her turn, in a family
where fairness was characteristic of its parents. But it was just as
well for Betty to be thinking about her sister now, instead of herself.

Morning came, and with it the new excitement. Dick, frankly interested,
kept an eye out for the Murchison car, a beautiful thing in dark
wine-color. "Gee!" cried Dick in a tone discreetly low, "that's a
beauty! I'm going to have one just like it some day. There's your
colored chauffeur, Sis, in uniform. Say, I didn't know that Dad was
hobnobbing with the aristocrats!"

"Hush, Dick," said Mrs. Lee, annoyed. "Mr. Murchison is a very wealthy
gentleman and lives in accordance with his means. Are you ready, Betty?
Please answer the bell, Dick. It is the chauffeur."

"Give me an apron and cap, Mom," remarked the irrepressible Dick, "for
the maid must answer the door."

"You're wrong. Dick," said Doris, who was gathering up her books. "The
butler should be at the door. See how elegant you can be, though I'm
afraid they will think you rather young."

But the bell had rung, and Dick ran, rather too hurriedly for dignity in
his role of butler, if that suggestion by Doris was to be taken
seriously. She was listening as Dick threw open the front door.

"Is you-all ready foh goin' to school with Miss Lucy an' Loosha?"

"I'll call Betty," said Dick. "Yes, she is ready." So the girl Betty
called "Lu-_chee_-a," the chauffeur called _"Loosha_."

"Miss Lucy said that she wanted to take _all_ the children to school,
foh she thought there was some o' them that went to the Junior High
School."

"Please thank the countess," said Dick, as properly as if it had been
his father. "We shall be very glad to come and we can be out as soon as
we can gather up our books."

The chauffeur went back to the car, while Dick hastily called Betty and
Doris, though Doris had been curious enough to stay within hearing, and
if the truth were told, Doris had taken extra care with her toilet that
morning, in case she should happen within sight of Countess Coletti and
Lucia, her daughter.

"She wants us all to come, Mother," excitedly she reported. "Shall we?"

"Certainly. It would be impolite to refuse. Yes, better wear your coat,
though it is so warm this morning."

"Shall you go out to the car and meet them, Mother?" asked Betty,
doubtfully, though that is what would have happened in their old home,
if any friend had driven up, or strangers, indeed, with such an
invitation to the children.

"No," replied Mrs. Lee. "Had the countess appeared, or asked to see me,
I might; but they are all in a hurry. Don't waste a moment. It is very
thoughtful for the countess to include you and Doris, Dick. Just be
appreciative, polite and quiet. I can trust all of you to be that, I'm
sure."

But Countess Coletti might be trusted also, to make the children feel
comfortable. She was smiling at the three with their books, a necessary
accompaniment, alas, as Doris thought. "Good morning, Betty," she said,
while Lucia smiled and nodded, leaving conversation to her mother. "You
are good not to keep us waiting. These are your brother and sister, I'm
sure. This is my daughter, Lucia Coletti. Now you may sit here, Betty,
your sister there and the brother, too. Ready, Horace."

Horace did not look around, but started the car and off they went in the
fresh September morning, bright and clear. "It is Dick and Doris,
Countess Coletti," said Betty, thinking that the names of the twins
should be mentioned. The term "discretion" did not do justice to the
attitude of the twins, almost too sober, Betty thought, but they _were_
dear children!

Yet the experienced countess led the conversation, telling them of
Lucia's troubles in arranging her schedule, some of them to be discussed
with the principal that morning, and chatting of how pleasantly Lucia
was impressed with her mother's old home and how good "the old town"
looked to one who had been away as many years as she herself had passed
abroad. "We never could seem to find a time," said she, "when it was
convenient to come, though my brother and his family were over often."

Betty wondered what family Mr. Murchison had. Her father probably did
not know or he would have mentioned it.

The handsome car and its occupants caused some notice among the early
arrivals at the school. The chauffeur drove in and parked the car behind
the building on one of the drives there. Betty showed the party how to
reach the nearest entrance and led them up the stairs and through the
halls to the office of the principal. He was affable but business-like.
He hesitated when Countess Coletti asked that Betty be permitted to show
Lucia about, though she asked most prettily and with no assumption that
it must be done for her. "It would be such a favor," said she, "if Betty
will not miss anything important."

"Everything is important, Countess Coletti," smiled the principal, "but
I think we shall arrange it for your daughter not to be lost. Here,
Betty, is the schedule we have made out for Miss Coletti. See if you
have any classes together?"

With the principal, Betty, feeling rather important for a modest body
like herself, worked out a program for the day. She would take Lucia to
her first class, introduce her to the teacher and leave her there,
stopping for her at the close of the period without losing much time,
since the recitation rooms happened to be near. They had the same home
room, which made it easy to begin the day together. Betty herself had
not been there on the opening morning and had been forced to see her
home room teacher later in the day, to find out many things. There were
practically no recitations of any length, and periods were shortened for
an assembly. Lunch, fortunately, would be prepared in the lunch rooms
and the full day's schedule carried out, an unusual proceeding even for
the third day, why, Betty did not know.

"Your daughter, Madam, need not worry at all. In case she becomes
confused, there is always the office. We are ready to rescue any pupil,
and without reproof in these opening days. I hope that Miss Lucia will
enjoy the new experience."

With this the interview closed. Betty showed the countess how to reach
her car, but with the ringing of the gongs, she and Lucia went to find
their home room and report.

It was a home room of girls, to be sure, but Betty felt a little
self-conscious as she accompanied Lucia to the desk and introduced her
to their home room teacher, not the dear Miss Heath, but a teacher to
whom Betty had not happened to recite in her freshman year. Keen eyes
appraised her and Lucia, who was not at all embarrassed. Lucia was
accustomed to being stared at and to traveling around. As long as Betty
kept her from being lost about places and duties, it was all right. What
difference did it make to her what impression she was making?

"Lucia Coletti," the teacher repeated, taking the card from Lucia and
pronouncing the name correctly, as Betty had given it. She made a few
notes on a paper at hand. "Is she a friend of yours, Betty Lee?"

"Yes'm. That is, I'm showing her around because she is new to
everything. She just came to New York on the _Statendam_ and has been to
school in Switzerland."

Miss Orme, who was accustomed to meet many Italian children in the city
schools, revised her first impression made by the name, and looked again
at this easily poised girl who had been to school in Switzerland. Lucia
met her gaze without interest, politely waiting directions. "Lucia is
the daughter of----"

"Count Coletti, of Milan," suddenly said Lucia, to Betty's surprise.
Betty had not intended to tell the teacher who Lucia was, then thought
perhaps she'd better, for Lucia's sake, for her relatives, the
Murchisons, were well-known in the city and it would be better, too, for
Miss Orme to place the girl at once in her mind. But why did Lucia
forestall the introduction as her mother's daughter? Perhaps that was
it. Was there some idea of loyalty to her father, or was she just proud
of it?

"Oh, yes," laconically replied Miss Orme, who had, unfortunately, a
rooted distaste for American women that married foreigners. "I think I
have heard of your mother. Betty, there is a vacant seat across from you
on the back row. Too bad you are both so late, but you can get from the
other girls what has already been said about many of the details. Show
Lucia to her seat, Betty."

As Betty went down the aisle ahead of Lucia, Peggy Pollard caught her
eye and coughed discreetly. Selma grinned up at her and Kathryn widened
her big eyes purposely. This home room of sophomore girls was the limit!



CHAPTER VII: LITTLE ADJUSTMENTS


The next morning Selma joined Betty on the walk from the street-car to
the school building. "Betty," said she, "I'm really in earnest about
your being on the hockey team. I'm afraid not enough of the girls are
going to take an interest. I mean the kind of girls that count. You are
so quick and graceful about your swimming and good at everything you do,
and I saw you play hockey once last year."

"I haven't a quarter about me, I'm afraid," said Betty, very soberly,
looking in her small purse.

"A quarter--what for?" asked Selma before she sensed what Betty meant.
"Oh, that's all right. You needn't pay me for the compliments, and I'm
not saying it just to get you to be on the team. Miss Fox has charge of
the hockey this year and she asked me to keep an eye out for good
material. The team is pretty well made up, I guess, and she says that I
should be captain, but that is as it may be, Betty. Please don't mention
my speaking of it to you."

"But I want a second team to play against, and a good one at that. I'd
give a lot for the sophomores to beat the other classes at hockey."

"Hurrah for the sophomores," remarked Betty. "I can't get used to our
being sophomores, Selma, but isn't it nice not to be freshmen any
longer?"

"Yes, though we _were_ such unusually fine ones!" Selma chuckled. "We're
a good deal of a mob yet, but not like the freshman bunch. Were we
really like that last year?"

"I suppose so. Well, Selma, I don't know what to say about the hockey
proposition. I'm pretty sure that Mother thinks hockey too rough.
Perhaps not exactly that, either; and I did like to play last year
occasionally, just on the side. Possibly, if it is just as a sort of
substitute, I might do it. I'm a full-fledged G. A. A. and ought to help
out where I can, oughtn't I?"

"It's your duty to be a good sophomore, too."

"I remember how seriously I took everything last year," said Betty, "and
it was sensible. But I'm going to join anything I like this year; and if
it doesn't work, all you have to do is to stop."

"Not to break up a team, though, Betty."

"Oh, no. I didn't mean that, and I like to do anything pretty
thoroughly, too. All right, I'll see about it."

"'Lo, Betty," said some one else.

Selma and Betty were mounting the steps of the school now, near the
entrance, where pupils were going in and groups of others stood about.
This was Mathilde Finn, who detached herself from one of the groups and
came toward the two girls. "Bye," immediately said Selma, whisking into
the building as some one pushed open the heavy doors before her.

"Going to wait for Lucia Coletti?" asked Mathilde.

"No; she knows how to get to the home room now," answered Betty.
"Anything I can do for you?" Betty smiled pleasantly, though she
intended to be a little reserved with Mathilde. From all she had heard,
she did not have the greatest confidence in Mathilde's sincerity. But
Betty was always glad to be on a friendly footing with other girls. She
did "hate" disagreeable undercurrents, though one could not always avoid
them.

"You are a bit new yourself, aren't you?" Betty continued.

"Oh, yes, but not like Lucia, and my work was all fixed up in plenty of
time. I do feel strange in a public school and I can't say that I like
it now; but if Lucia can stand it, I think I can. You don't have to know
everybody, of course. Some of the boys and girls are too common--for
words!"

That speech grated on Betty. "Perhaps so," she answered, "but a lot of
them are as fine as can be. Besides, we have to live in the world with
everybody, don't we? And I haven't seen anybody here that wasn't
nice--well, hardly. But the boys and girls that won't work or keep the
rules get sent out."

"Oh, I suppose they all behave well enough," carelessly replied
Mathilde. "They have to. But look at their clothes, and the way they
talk!"

"I never dress up much for school myself," said Betty, who had a sound
suspicion that the reason Mathilde was attaching herself to her this
morning was her relation to Lucia Coletti. "And when it comes to
language, do you know, some of the worst I've heard came from girls out
of wealthy homes. So far as I'm concerned, give me the good old public
schools, though I'd love to go to boarding school some time, just for
the fun of it. Why, there's Lucia now!"

Betty and Mathilde stopped in the middle of the big hall as Lucia
Coletti came out of the principal's office. Her face lit up as she saw
Betty and she hurried toward the girls.

"This is--what you call luck--Betty. Good morning--and I think I met
you, yesterday, Miss ----?"

"It is Mathilde Finn, Lucia," said Betty, as Lucia looked doubtfully at
Mathilde. "She has been at a private school, too, and is coming back to
us now--a sophomore like the rest of us."

Betty spoke cordially, as Betty would, and together the three made their
way to their home room. But Mathilde's manner to Lucia amused her and
when lunch time came and Dotty Bradshaw fell in with her, just behind
Lucia, whom Mathilde had in tow, she could not help smiling at Dotty's
comments.

"Ha!" said Dotty in a dramatic whisper. "Finny is rushing the countess,
I see. Look out, Betty. She'll cut you out with royalty."

"Why should I mind, Dotty?" laughed Betty. "I like Lucia and I think
that she's going to take hold of things as you'd scarcely expect a girl
that's been used to everything to do. She's got a lot of those old
Romans in her, I imagine, to say nothing of what she gets of good
American pep, if not so old! Oh, Dotty, I've got such _loads_ to do I
haven't time to think about whether I get cut out with _anybody_!"

"Lessons getting on your nerves?"

"Somewhatly!"

"That's always the way at first. Cheer up. You're not interested, then,
in hearing about the new sorority?"

"Well, I might have a little _natural curiosity_."

"I'll say! I'll tell you everything I know at the first chance."

This was while the crowd was mounting the stairs to the lunch room. At
the top of the stairs Betty saw Mathilde usher Lucia inside of the lunch
room, though Lucia turned and looked inquiringly at Betty.

Betty smiled and waved her hand, nodding approvingly as if to say "It's
all right with me," and just then Kathryn appeared in the line behind
Betty, having hurried to catch up. Dotty was by several girls beyond her
in the line that was forming for the cafeteria procession; and Kathryn,
having Betty's ear in spite of the rattle of dishes and the buzz, or
more appropriately "roar" of conversation, pitched above other sounds,
informed her that she had "a lot to tell her."

"Tell it now," urged Betty.

"Fat chance, as Chauncey says. I'll see you somewhere. Skip along,
honey. I hope they've got plenty of good things left. I always prefer
being called to first lunch."

"How strange!" laughed Betty. "I certainly hate it when we are last to
be called and all the best desserts and salads are gone. But can't you
give me an _idea_?"

Kathryn shook her head in the negative, concerned now with looking ahead
to choose what she would have for lunch.

Betty with a full tray looked around for Lucia and saw that she and
Mathilde were together at a table which was rapidly filling up. Carolyn
at another table waved at Betty and Kathryn, who hurried there to join
her. But the hungry girls were most interested in the business at hand
and Carolyn, after the first pangs of hunger was relieved, was started
on athletics, lamenting the loss of the senior football men and relating
what material she had heard was available for the year's team.

Betty saw for the first time Ted Dorrance, who was not acting at all as
a senior whose heart was broken should act. With a group of senior boys
he was laughing and talking at a table not far away. Betty wondered how
it happened that they had had lunch at the same time, and while her eyes
were turned in that direction, Ted saw her and gave her a gay salute.
Poor boy, perhaps he was just putting on all that fun and was really
feeling terrible about Louise. No--perhaps they had made up!

Lessons, lessons, lessons! How hard these first assignments seemed! Some
of their teachers "had a heart," as Dotty said, and others hadn't the
sign of one. Again they had to carry all their books around until
lockers were assigned. Mathilde complained constantly, Betty thought;
but Lucia, with a neat brief-case of leather, kept all her paraphernalia
together and carried them around without a word. "Lucia Coletti is a
good sport," said Dotty Bradshaw.

Finally, toward the end of the week, Kathryn had a good opportunity to
talk to Betty. It was on the street-car, but they had a back seat
together and could talk in ordinary tones without being overheard. Both
had errands down town, as it happened, and were to go down right after
school to meet their mothers.

"Here you've kept me in suspense all week, Kathryn," Betty accused her
friend.

"I suppose you've laid awake nights over it, Betty."

"Oh, yes, of course. My dear, I _have_ laid awake a while over a lesson
or two!"

"I've had reason enough to, but not I. When my head strikes the pillow
not even anything Mathilde or anybody could say, to say nothing of mere
lessons, could keep me awake!"

"By the way, is it clothes you're going to see about this afternoon,
Kathryn?"

"Yes. I'm going to get a hat and a dress, and _look_ at coats."

"Here, too, Kathryn, but I'll wait to buy a coat till I see what you
get, I think."

Upon this there followed a discussion of styles and materials quite
interesting to Betty, who did want to look like the rest but had had
little experience so far in city shopping. Kathryn advised her a little
about the best places to shop, where "things were expensive" and where
one could get good values for a reasonable sum. They concluded to get
the mothers together at some store and arranged the meeting place before
any school matter was touched upon again.

Then Kathryn began. "I could have told you that everything is all right
about Peggy, but some way I wanted to have a good chance all by
ourselves before I did. You know how we went out to Carolyn's that time.
We had a good deal of fun over that lunch, and Peggy was just as much
fun as she always is and I never acted any different from the way I
always do. I just thought, if Peggy didn't like me and talked about me,
I couldn't help it anyhow and there was no use in acting 'sore' about
it. That is what my brother always says, Betty."

"You needn't apologize, Gypsy. I have a brother, too."

Kathryn laughed. "It's very convenient when you want to use slang to
quote from your brother, isn't it?"

"Very."

"Well, it seems that Peggy had overheard you call me Gypsy, though how I
don't know."

"Oh, I'm sorry, Kathryn. I meant that for our little secret!"

"I know it, but really I don't care. I rather like it now. You remember
that we told Carolyn about it, at your house."

"Yes."

"Carolyn told me afterwards that she had it in mind when she asked us
for lunch; and didn't Peggy call me 'Gypsy' as she passed me the
sandwiches?"

"No! Why, what did you think when she did that?"

"I was startled, of course. She said, 'Gypsy, _have_ another sandwich!'
and I looked up at her in amazement, though not a bit offended, you
know, and she laughed. 'Who started that name for you?' she asked.
'You're looking so surprised that maybe you don't like it,' she went on.
'I just heard Betty Lee call you that one time and I thought it cute. I
told Mathilde Finn just the other day that you looked like a gypsy queen
or something awfully romantic.'

"There it was, Betty, just the sweet way you thought about it and not
the way Mathilde told me. You were right. I don't believe Peggy Pollard
_would_ say mean things about a girl she knows as well as she does me,
and maybe not about anybody, though you are _too_ trustful of your
friends, Betty!"

"Am I?"

"Yes, I'm afraid so; but I think it's a good fault and I'm going to
cultivate it."

Kathryn slipped her hand through Betty's arm as she spoke. "Well, just
then Carolyn spoke up. 'Mathilde Finn didn't say it that way when she
repeated it to Kathryn,' she said."

"'What do you mean, Carolyn?' Peggy asked. She looked just as surprised
as could be. Then she whirled around to me. 'Kathryn, _what_ did
Mathilde tell you?'

"I sort of hesitated, you know. A body would. And Peggy asked me again.
'From what Carolyn says, I imagine that Mathilde has said something
horrid,' she said.

"Well, I just got the impression, Peggy, that you were criticising my
looks and while I'm not posing as a beauty, it wasn't awfully pleasant
to think that you would say what Mathilde said you did."

"'Kathryn!' Peggy said. She looked sort of helpless, you know, as if she
didn't know what to say and probably thought I wouldn't believe her.
Then, I don't remember how it all came around, but Carolyn helped out
and quoted what Peggy had just said and asked me to believe Peggy and I
said I would and Peggy said a lot of things and I hated to have them
think I wanted to be thought pretty and so I said so and I told just
exactly what Mathilde had said and Peggy told as nearly as she could
remember just exactly what she had said, and the girls all said that
they didn't think me sensitive about my looks and knew that I just cared
about having Peggy like me. So it turned out all right and it was
Carolyn that did it after all. You can like Carolyn better than me any
time, Betty!"

Betty laughed and squeezed the arm in hers. "How we do change," said
she. "But I told you all about how I feel about my dear friends. And you
said '_all_ the girls.' Was any one there beside you and Peggy and
Carolyn?"

"Sure enough--I didn't tell you. I think from what Carolyn said she did
mean to have just Peggy and me--and you, of course, if you could have
come. But then, not being sure about Peggy after all, she thought
perhaps she'd ask somebody else in your place. So on the car there were
Dotty Bradshaw and Mary Emma Rowland and she asked them to come. They
accepted after a little hesitation on account of being expected at home.
But Carolyn said that they could telephone home from her house and that
she would herself to let them know that it was all right, if they wanted
her to. You know how hospitable Carolyn is, and her mother lets her do
these things. I imagine that they knew it was the first of school and
she would be wanting to see some of us. Anyhow, there was a special
lunch for us, outdoors on the big porch. I'm sorry you missed it."

"So am I. But under the circumstances I couldn't. And now that is all
over and you haven't a worry have you?"

"No. I'd a little rather Dotty hadn't heard what Mathilde said to me,
for she almost despises Mathilde anyhow. But it can't be helped and
everybody said they wouldn't say a word and would treat Mathilde 'the
same as ever.' And you would have laughed to hear Dotty, when Carolyn
used that expression."

"'The same as ever?' she asked. 'Then that doesn't bind me except about
this little trick of hers. _Sure_ I'll treat Mathilde the same as
ever!'" Kathryn was laughing now.

Betty looked thoughtfully at Kathryn. "Dotty speaks too quickly and
sharply, I'm afraid. I felt real uncomfortable when she had that passage
at arms with Mathilde that day. But Dotty is a sincere person and she
may have some reason of her own about Mathilde."

"I haven't a doubt. But I thought about you, Betty, when I said to the
girls I'd rather not have it make any difference with the way they
treated Mathilde. You're always so fair to everybody, and this wasn't so
much after all."

"It was the spirit it showed or you _thought_ it showed on Peggy's part
that worried you, and that is important when it comes to a nice friend
like Peggy; but I think you were wonderfully nice about it, and--thank
you for your opinion of me. That's another thing for me to live up to!"

"I don't think you need worry about that, Betty Lee. But to change the
subject, you're going to go on the G. A. A. hike a week from Saturday,
aren't you?"

"Why, I don't know, Kathryn. I hadn't thought about it much. There's so
much to do at home, and Saturday is the only day there, that I'm not
sure I can. I ought to help Mother, for with three of us to get ready
for fall and winter in school, to say nothing of Amy Louise, and meals
now for everybody, Mother is just as rushed with work as _we_ imagine
_we_ are in school."

"We really are," insisted Kathryn. "I think your mother will want you to
have some outdoors on Saturdays, and I know that you help some every
day. So do you mind if I ask her about it, if we manage to have the
mothers see each other down town?"

"I don't mind a bit, and I think the G. A. A. hike will be great fun.
Suppose Lucia Coletti will want to go?" Betty looked roguishly at
Kathryn as she spoke.

"And if Lucia, then our friend Mathilde, to be sure. Well, anyhow we
must be sure to ask Lucia. She'll probably want to be a G. A. A. If she
lives in Italy, she probably will know how to swim, and don't they walk
and hike a lot in Switzerland?"

Betty asked Kathryn why she was sure Lucia could swim if she lived in
Italy and Kathryn replied that she might live on a hill-top for all she
knew, but that rich foreigners always took trips to the water, "and
isn't the Mediterranean right there?"

Betty could not answer that it was not and so they dropped this subject,
not forgetting the G. A. A. hike in prospect.



CHAPTER VIII: THE G. A. A. BREAKFAST HIKE


Dear me--the hosts of things to be decided during these first weeks of
school! But wasn't it interesting?

There was talk of a new sorority. There was the revelation of some that
had existed before, _sub rosa_. Indeed everything was secret and the way
the rules were substantially avoided without breaking the letter of the
law was another astonishing feature. Betty Lee did not quite understand
that yet. The sorority fever had not struck the little group of her
especial friends in their freshman year. There had been some of the
girls who were what the rest called "snooty" or "high hat," the terms in
common parlance for a species of snobbery. But as "little freshmen"
their assumptions made small impression on their associates of the
freshman class.

Prominent juniors had been paying some attention to Lucia Coletti and
incidentally to Betty and Mathilde and Carolyn. Peggy and Kathryn seemed
to be left out. Nothing had been said so far, but notice had been taken,
no doubt. Betty was thoughtful. She had been thrown with Lucia first
because she could be of service to her. Now no delicate withdrawal was
possible because Lucia, naturally depending upon Betty for much
information and liking Betty very much, a fact that Betty did not
realize, turned to her for companionship whenever their work made it
possible.

Betty saw that her first impression of Lucia had not been entirely
correct. To be sure, Lucia had been spoiled, as an independent American
girl would view her upon first acquaintance, adding the feeling of rank
to that of the superiority of wealth and opportunity. But in some
respects Lucia was timid, and Betty had some idea now of how she had
dreaded the new environment. Any timidity was hidden, however, behind a
reserve which had a little dignity and which Betty told herself was a
bit of the Count Coletti.

Then again Lucia would be impulsive and in high spirits with Betty's
friends and tell them little things about her old schools abroad, for
she had been in several, owing to the travel of her parents. This was
all very interesting and Betty was becoming fond of Lucia, though she
was sure that Carolyn, Kathryn, and Peggy would always stand first. But
Betty liked "lots of friends."

How high school affairs were impressing themselves upon Lucia Coletti
she did not say and the girls did not ask, though they could see that
she was interested. She spoke English very well indeed and made
excellent recitations in her different studies. To every one she was
uniformly polite, but not even Betty was invited to her confidence,
though it must be said that Betty, absorbed in putting through her own
work, did not notice it.

Among other things difficult to get started early, the G. A. A. hike was
numbered. The heavy work of the opening weeks hindered the teachers who
were in charge of athletics. Then _Jupiter Pluvius_ took a hand and
there was a week of almost steady rain. But warm days in October with
bright sunshine came along and at nearly the end of the month the day
was "actually appointed," said Peggy.

"It's a shame that we couldn't have had it when it was so nice and
warm," said Mathilde, who was privately intending to offer Lucia a ride
to the spot chosen for the breakfast.

"But it would have been too warm for the hike," answered Lucia herself,
who was a member of the Girls' Athletic Association by this time and on
one of the committees. "I think that I shall enjoy that."

"Won't it be too far for you?" asked Mathilde, who was lazy, and only
"going in" for the easiest form of athletics she could find, though she
was fond of games, which saved the day for her, and she liked the
interpretive dancing, in which she was quite graceful.

"Only five miles?" asked Lucia. "Why, we think nothing of that in----"

Lucia broke off, for her mother had warned her not to compare anything
to her life abroad. She made an excuse of speaking to Miss Fox, who had
this expedition in charge, and moved away from Mathilde quite naturally.
Lucia, however, was quite friendly with Mathilde. What girl would not
like another who was flatteringly attentive and evidently impressed with
her? Moreover, Mathilde was a fair, prettily-dressed girl, attractive
enough when she chose to be.

"Listen, Finny," said Dotty Bradshaw, coming up to Mathilde. "You can be
on the soup committee if you like and ride out with us."

"'Soup Committee!' I hope you are not going to have soup for breakfast!"

"Don't be so literal, Finny. Of course we are not going to have soup or
anything like it. Can you cook wieners?"

"I should _say not_!" Mathilde started away in disgust. "Besides, I want
to take the hike and get credit for it."

"Haw, haw, haw," said Dotty in low tones to her friend Selma, who knew
Mathilde almost as well as Dotty did. "When I get outdoors I shall
indulge in 'laffcher,' I think. But wouldn't I have been sold if she had
taken me up? It would just about have spoiled the fun the committee is
going to have!"

"Dotty, Dotty, Dotty!" reproved Selma; but a smile and dancing eyes
showed that she did not blame the irrepressible Dotty too severely.

This took place at a meeting of various committees on the Friday before
the breakfast hike. Betty had been persuaded to be on the committee for
refreshments, though she, too, would have liked to take the entire hike
and earn the points for it. But it would be fun. Kathryn said that any
girl who had really done any cooking was capable of bossing the entire
affair and if Betty would be chairman of the committee, she would impart
all her own valuable knowledge of what to cook and how on picnics.

"Kathryn Allen, I've never been to a camp and all you other girls have.
I simply can't be chairman!" This was Betty, in the corner of the big
room where the refreshment committee was getting together to discuss
arrangements.

"Listen, Betty. The chairman _bosses_ the rest. _They_ do the work!"

Betty laughed. "On that basis, then, Gypsy, I don't care, but I think
one of you ought to be chairman just the same. Will Miss Fox know how
much of everything we ought to have?"

"Of course she will. She's got the names of everybody that signed up to
go. I don't know whether we ought to allow for girls coming at the last
minute, or bringing company, or allow the other way for those that think
they'll go and won't."

"Always better to have too much, than not enough," said Betty, thinking
of one or two tight squeezes when her mother had had the missionary
society and more came than usual.

"Yet that is very wasteful, Betty."

"Yes, Dotty, it is. I think _you_ ought to be chairman."

"No, thanks. Some time I'll tell you how narrowly we escaped having
another member on this committee."

"You are a case, Dotty Bradshaw. What have you been doing now?"

"Nothing much, Kathryn. Somebody call this meeting to order."

"All right. Betty, you're chairman."

"Honestly, I wasn't named chairman, girl. Ask Miss Fox whom she intended
for chairman--_please_, Gypsy."

"All right--to settle it."

Kathryn dashed across the room, stopping behind Miss Fox and waiting for
an opportunity to speak to her. There was a brief conference and Kathryn
returned to tell Betty triumphantly that she was chairman.

"Yes, of course," returned Betty. "I saw you fix it up with her. Did you
tell her that I would be deeply disappointed if I didn't have the
honor?"

"Something like that," laughed Kathryn. "Now let's get down to
business."

                                --------

The morning of the hike was clear and sunny, when the sun finally
decided to get up. Fifty girls were up first, getting ready. The "bunch"
who hiked were to meet at the school, but the committee on refreshments
was to drive with their supplies. Miss Fox had accepted the offer of
Kathryn's brother to drive the Allen car out for them and to help
arrange their temporary camp. Lucia Coletti, interested and anxious to
help, had begged her uncle for the use of his car. "It will be ready for
you to go to business," she said, "for it is only to take out boxes of
food and perhaps a few rugs."

"Why turn my car into a grocery delivery wagon?" teasingly Mr. Murchison
asked Lucia.

"Because the groceries will not deliver the things for us."

"Very well, then, Lucia, if you can make your peace with the chauffeur."

"Oh, Horace! He will do anything! But I will tell him to come back
immediately."

"Will there be no one to come back, nothing to bring?"

"Oh, no--no--no, we all hike back, even those who ride out to do the
breakfast."

"I see; and the food will have been disposed of. See, Lucy, sister, how
American your daughter is becoming? She talks of hikes and things."

"I am only part American, Uncle," said Lucia, soberly and with emphasis.
"I am also the daughter of Count Coletti!"

Chauncey Allen, understanding that only Kathryn and Betty would be in
their car, asked two of his friends to accompany him. When they appeared
at the Allen house Kathryn wanted to know "how come," as Chauncey
reported to Chet Dorrance later on.

"I have to have somebody, don't I, to keep me in countenance before all
those girls. Moreover, I want help in making the fires."

"We girls are perfectly capable of making the fires."

"Honestly, Kit, don't you like it?"

"Yes, I really do, but I don't know whether it's proper or not, or
whether Miss Fox will like it or not."

"She knows I'm going to drive, don't she?"

"Doesn't she, you mean. Yes. Oh, I suppose it's all right, if we can get
all the things in."

"Wait till you see us fix 'em!"

Thus Kathryn and Betty had three escorts and a goodly amount of
supplies. It was cold riding in the early morning, but the girls wore
warm knickers and sweaters and drew over the blankets which the car was
furnished. It was a jolly ride. Betty had scarcely seen all summer these
boys with whom she had become acquainted at the freshman parties and
other meetings of her first year at Lyon High. Kathryn's brother had
been at a boys' camp. Chet had been away with his mother and brother,
Ted, of the romantic disaster. The other boy was "Mickey" Carlin, whom
Betty did not know so well; but Mickey was full of fun and contributed
his share of life to the occasion.

The five miles were quickly covered by machine and as the spot chosen
was a picnic resort on the river, it was not difficult to dispose of the
supplies which they had brought. They arrived at about the same time as
Miss Fox and more of the committee in two other cars, and while they
were unloading, here came the Murchison car and its colored chauffeur in
uniform.

Miss Fox was not only not annoyed at the presence of the boys but was
glad to accept their services. "We need some camp-boys," said she
laughingly. "It isn't going to take our hikers so long to cover five
miles, though I told them to take their time and see whatever there was
to see on the way."

"Don't worry, Miss Fox," said Chauncey with a chuckle. "They'll wait
till they hike back to see things, and believe me they'll have an
appetite for breakfast!"

"All right, Chauncey. I shouldn't be surprised but you're right. By the
way, you are invited for breakfast with the other boys, and you might
just consider yourselves added to the refreshment committee. Yes, girls,
all the milk and stuff can be carried to those picnic tables under the
shelter house. We'll mix the cocoa there and open up the buns. Careful
to wipe off the tables and put papers under everything, girls. If we eat
our peck o' dirt we'll do it without germs, I hope."

Pans, stacks of buns, paper plates, pickles (so appropriate for a
breakfast, Dotty said), eggs to be scrambled, bacon to be cooked, and
great sacks of apples and bananas were sorted and arranged under the
direction of Betty, who sprang to the fore when she saw that Miss Fox
was going to leave it to her. Betty had learned that summer that orderly
arrangement was half the battle in getting a meal. Quickly, from her
little note-book, in which she had carefully written the names of the
committee assigned to the various tasks, she told each one her duty and
divided the supplies accordingly. Fun was held in abeyance for a little,
till things were fairly started. Oh, it would work out all right, Betty
told herself. The girls would select each a plate and visit "each pot
and pan," in due order.

The sun was up and it grew hot near the fires, but sweaters could be
thrown aside. The cooks were adorned with a pointed head-dress of white
with G. A. A. in blue letters printed upon it. Dotty called it the G. A.
A. crown and fastened one around Betty's locks, saying that she was
chief cook and bottle-washer and must have one whether she really cooked
or not.

"I'm floor-walker, Dotty, but I'm going to oversee the scrambled egg
business, because if we have 'em at all they want to be good. I've
practiced at home several days under Mother, so I'm going to do the
mixing up. Gracious, did we bring the salt!"

For a minute Betty looked blank, while Dotty consolingly remarked that
the bacon would be salty enough anyhow. But the salt was discovered in
one of the cars, a whole container of it, and Betty's moment of panic
was over. This was to be a real breakfast, Dotty declared, and several
little squirrels dashing up and down the trees nearby were doubtless
hoping that they would be invited.



CHAPTER IX: WITH LUCIA AND MATHILDE


Meanwhile the hikers were having a good time of it. Scattered in little
groups of two or three or more, they were steadily advancing over hill
and dale in the beautiful country surrounding the city, striking through
in a direction not so closely built up in suburbs, for the high school
was one in an outlying suburb, where beautiful homes and large estates
were the rule as soon as one passed beyond its center.

The country was in its handsomest fall attire. Leaves of all colors
attracted the girls who were interested in trees and learning to know
them by their leaves, as well as those who, with no knowledge of this
sort at all, could still appreciate the beauty of color with which the
woods were alive.

This hike, naturally, was not confined to sophomores, though that class
had been charged with the duty of serving the breakfast this time; and a
good breakfast it should be, thought the sophomores.

Lucia Coletti had fallen into conversation with Carolyn Gwynn before the
start and asked if she might walk along with her and Peggy Pollard, who
was with Carolyn. "Indeed you may," said cordial Carolyn, looking
admiringly at Lucia, for she was a slender, pretty figure in a costume
that had seen use in Switzerland, it was evident, and was different from
what the other girls wore in the style of its short coat, the knickers,
stockings and strong shoes. She carried, moreover, an alpenstock, for
which she apologized when she saw that the other girls did not carry
them.

"I should not have brought this, I think," she said, her dark eyes very
serious.

"Why not?" asked Carolyn. "I think that's great."

"But you girls do not carry them. I suppose the hills are not very
steep, but it seemed hilly when we were driving with my uncle."

"It is. Sometimes we girls cut sticks to use on hikes or when we are
camping in the mountains. Mother uses one all the time in the summer at
our camp. We go to the mountains, you know."

"So do we," said Lucia, apparently relieved over the idea of being
different. She was beginning to care now. These were fine girls and this
was a good school.

Mathilde, late, came hurrying up from a car which had deposited her at
the school. "Oh, here you are, Lucia. How charming you look! Do you do
any mountain climbing in the Alps?"

"Some," answered Lucia, more annoyed than pleased with the compliment.
Already she sensed that these girls were not warmly attached to
Mathilde. What was the trouble? It must be that Mathilde was too proud
with them. She herself must not be so.

Other girls noticed Lucia, though she was not known to them. She swung
along gracefully and easily, accustomed to such trips, that is, to
walking and climbing. Her alpenstock was brought into play in more than
one little leap over the hilly way with its ravines, now more or less
slippery with its damp leaves. The other girls who had thought to take
Lucia more or less under their wing, were put to it to keep up with her,
and Carolyn frankly laughed over that fact, when Lucia waited for them
at the top of one high hill.

"We thought that we'd be so good to you, Lucia, and show the stranger
the way and help her over the worst places. Now here you are the
champion hiker of us all!"

"Oh, I ought not to do it, I think! Do you care? I forget, and I like to
see how quickly I can reach a certain place."

"Of course we do not care!"

But there was one who did. Poor Mathilde had been quite forgotten by
Lucia in her quick advance. Now, as the girls sat down to rest for five
minutes or more, Mathilde came toiling up the hill, almost exhausted.
Within she was cross at the girls, Lucia included. It certainly wasn't
nice of them to leave her behind! And the girls were unconscious of
offense, for they had started in a large group, many of whom had fallen
behind or gone in a different direction to reach a given point.

"I'm all out of practice walking," gasped Mathilde as she threw herself
on the ground, "and I'm a little lost right here. I'm so used to the
car, you know. I suppose we must be nearly there now."

"No, indeed," said Peggy, who had her opinion of Mathilde but was sorry
for her at this juncture. "We have come about half way, Mathilde; but
there is an easier way, without so much climbing, if you'd rather take
it. See that little dirt road down there? Well, if you'll follow that,
it skirts the hills and you can't miss the way. Besides, there were
several girls that wanted to come that haven't been well and can't climb
the hills or aren't supposed to. You'll have company, I'm sure, for it
is a bit longer, and I think they would walk more slowly."

Mathilde, who had groaned aloud at the statement that they were only
half way there, now glanced where Peggy pointed and felt that it was
probably the only possible thing to do. Perhaps some car would come
along, dirt road though it was. Somebody with a Ford would live on it.
Her feet were nearly killing her and she knew they were blistered! She
looked at Lucia, to find her looking off at the pretty view,
uninterested in Mathilde's decision.

But now she turned her head and looked at Mathilde kindly. "I would, if
I were you, Mathilde. There's no use suffering when you haven't been
walking much. You ought to take it more gradually. You might injure
yourself if you overdo."

Mathilde felt better at that speech. "You ought to know, Lucia, with all
your experience in mountain climbing. I will take your advice, I think,
and see you at the breakfast."

With this Mathilde stiffly rose and looked at the thickets between her
and the little road which wound below. "Can you make it, do you think?"
asked Peggy. "Take it on the bias, Mathilde. Don't try to go straight
down."

"There isn't any good trail, Peggy, but it's no worse than some we've
been through already. Going on yourself now?" Mathilde was thinking that
she would not start first. They'd watch her go down, of course.

"Yes. We might as well." Carolyn answered Mathilde, rising as she spoke,
though without the effort which had characterized Mathilde's movement.
Carolyn had been in many trails that summer, though that was because of
opportunity as well as because of her own volition. "Come on, Mathilde.
I'll go down half way with you. I know how hard it is to start after a
body hasn't been hiking. After I was sick a while last summer--a year
ago, I mean, I thought I'd never get limbered up."

"Thanks, Carolyn," airily replied Mathilde. "I think I can go _down_
hill, at least!" And off she started, to be tripped by a treacherous
root and fall ignominiously, rolling into some bushes which checked
further descent.

"Mercy, how she'll hate that!" exclaimed Peggy, starting toward Mathilde
with both Carolyn and Lucia.

Lucia reached Mathilde first and reached a hand to her as Mathilde,
flushed and annoyed, sat up and brushed away leaves and dirt from hands
and face. "No, I didn't bruise my face at all," she said in answer to
Lucia's question. "My foot caught in a trailing vine, I think. That's
what it felt like."

"I'll just go down with you," said Lucia. "You need my old stock,
Mathilde. It will swing us over bad places. Go ahead, girls, I'll join
you around the next hill. You said over there, didn't you?" Lucia was
pointing as she spoke.

"Yes, Lucia," answered Carolyn, noting how Mathilde's face brightened.
"All right, you go down with Mathilde and see if some of the other girls
are coming along. Don't get lost yourself, though. We'll saunter along
and you won't have much woods to get through over there."

The girls watched Lucia and Mathilde as the light-footed Italian girl
took Mathilde's arm and with a laugh started down hill, instinctively
choosing the easiest descent.

"This was a mean hill, Carolyn," said Peggy, "but how Mathilde hates it
not to appear 'it' in any way. Have you noticed how she's really
studying some and getting her lessons now?"

"Yes," thoughtfully replied Carolyn. "Maybe she really does like Lucia
and it isn't just wanting to stand in with a title. That was good of
Lucia, wasn't it? She seemed so indifferent at first, but now she's
interested in things."

"Mathilde doesn't 'really like' Lucia much, Carolyn; but she ought to
now. Isn't this the prettiest part of the trail--don't you think, so
wild and lovely? You can't even see a house from here. Look at those
girls across there. This was the best way to come. They're having a
great time getting across that little branch of the run. Maybe the rain
carried away that big log we used to cross on."

Lucia appeared at the appointed place without her alpenstock. She had a
few blossoms to show the girls and asked them what they were. "We have
ever so many of the same trees and flowers that you do," she said, "but
there are some of these fall wild flowers that I never heard of."

The girls discussed the flowers and then asked for Mathilde. "Oh,
Mathilde's in a good humor now," smiled Lucia. "A truck came along with
two girls sitting behind and dangling over the rear. I left Mathilde
sitting beside them, but as she seemed to like my cane, I let her take
it. It will help her when she walks again. The truck was going only a
little way. The girls were laughing and having a great time of it."

The rest of the trip was made in good time by the three girls, joined by
others at different points; and when they came into the temporary camp,
with its fires and moving figures of the committee and boys, to say
nothing of the fresh arrivals--though Carolyn, Peggy and Lucia were
among the first, oh, what enticing odors of cocoa and of bacon frying
met them.

Betty, wearing her cotton crown with its "G. A. A." came running up for
a moment or two with the girls, answering their questions with, "Oh,
everything is going off wonderfully. As soon as the girls all get here
we'll scramble the eggs and be ready. No, there isn't a thing for
anybody to do, only to see that no girl is too timid to get all she
ought to have to eat. Carolyn, you're great on looking up the girls with
a timidity complex, so do your stuff, as Dick would say."

"Note how Betty keeps on quoting from her brother," laughed Peggy.

"It's very convenient," laughed Betty. "By the way, have you seen our
boys? Do take Lucia over to where they are sometime when it seems
appropriate, or drag them over to her, to meet her."

"So your boys have to be dragged to meet me?" queried Lucia, but with a
smile and a comical lifting of her brows.

"I'm not so sure," said Betty, "but they are keeping in the background
at present, for fear that Miss Fox's cordiality will wax cool."

"I see. Well, don't let us keep you, Betty, but do come and sit by me
when you eat your breakfast," said Lucia.

"If any," added Betty. "I'm going to see that the great Sophomore Class
of Lyon High serves enough to make this hike something to be
remembered!"

"Hear, hear!" cried Peggy. "It smells like a million dollars, Betty!"

But it was not long before the fifty and a few more of the guest hikers
were seated here and there and everywhere it was convenient or
attractive. Mathilde was in good humor as she sat with a full plate
right next to Lucia, contemplating with satisfaction her own new
elk-skin shoes, laced high, in contrast with Lucia's similar footgear,
much the worse for wear. Lucia did look pretty and romantic, she
thought; but her own outfit was much more in the latest style, which for
Mathilde was the criterion of worth, along with the impression of
expense.

"Oh, it wasn't any trouble to finish the hike," said she. "My fall only
jolted me and the rest on that funny truck fixed me all right. And your
alpenstock was a great help, Lucia. I shall have one myself if we go
abroad next summer."

"You could probably get the same thing in this country," said Lucia.

Had Peggy been there she would have rolled her eyes at Carolyn, perhaps,
at Mathilde's mention of going abroad, but Peggy was at some distance
with another group and this was one of older girls for the most part,
girls who had their eye on Lucia for their sorority. When Carolyn and
Peggy saw the move on the part of the older girls, they withdrew, though
it might not have been necessary, and were sitting on an uneven log with
Dotty Bradshaw, Mary Emma Howland and Selma Rardon. They, too, noted the
junior girls with Mathilde and Lucia, but made no comment.

"Say, Carolyn," said Dotty in a low tone, "did you notice Louise Madison
and a lot of the University girls at the little skit and pep meeting of
the Dramatic Club the other night? I heard Louise say they came over to
help root for old Lyon High. And there was Ted Dorrance, big as life,
joking with them in the hall before it began. Have he and Louise made
up, do you think? I heard that they had a terrible break-up this
summer."

"Oh, a body can hear 'most anything, Dotty. I'm glad Louise and the
other girls haven't forgotten high school days. She's only a freshman at
the University, of course; and that isn't as thrilling, I imagine, as
being a senior at Lyon High."

"It wouldn't be, would it?" thoughtfully returned Dotty, while Peggy,
who was more interested than she would admit in Ted and Louise,
considered Dotty's bit of news. But here came Betty with her plate piled
full.

"Is the last egg scrambled, Betty?" asked Dotty. "Come on, we've saved
room enough for you on this log. We spread out, kind of, to keep it. It
isn't as soft as the ground, but easier to sit on with a plate. I
considered getting down with my plate and a cup full of chocolate and
gave it up."

"I will, too," assented Betty, carefully balancing her plate as she
cautiously sat down on the big log and the others adjusted themselves
after their move. "I'm lucky to have such a good place. You must have
reserved your seat early."

"We did. Look at Lucia with the juniors, Kiddie."

"I noticed. I looked for her because she spoke of wanting to be with
us." Betty said "us" instead of "me." "It is good for Lucia to get
acquainted," she added, but Betty pursed up her lips as she made that
remark.

"Q. E. D. sororities," said Peggy apropos of the geometry which the
sophomores were just beginning.

"Yes," said Carolyn, "but the less said about them right now the better.
By the way, Louise Madison is being rushed by the Kappa--oh, now I've
forgotten the rest of it, but it's one of the best in the University."

"Well, ask what Louise thinks of sororities," said Betty, "if you ever
see her. Doesn't she come to see your sister, Carolyn?"

"Yes."

"Did Louise belong to a high school sorority, Carolyn?" asked Dotty.

"No, she didn't but I never dared ask her why."

"She _must_ have been asked," said Betty, "because she was so prominent
in everything."

"That isn't a sign. Look at that silly Rose--I can't think of her name
right now. She wasn't in anything, but she was the High Mogul in her
sorority."

"Social stuff," said Peggy Pollard. "That is a good line, Betty. Don't
think that scholarship is the only thing."

Betty looked at Peggy to see if she were serious or joking, but saw that
Peggy was serious.

"Maybe you're right, Peggy. Perhaps doing the things you are expected to
do in school isn't all there is. Still, I have a prejudice in favor of
getting your lessons, or rather for girls that do it or do something
else at any rate."

"Social stuff keeps them very busy, Betty," said Peggy, laughing now.
"And if you want to get married--well, just watch that kind of a girl."

"Peggy's getting too sophisticated," said Carolyn. "That is what my
sister would call it. But I'd like to combine the 'social line' with
good sense and 'doing something' as Betty means it. About Louise,
remember that with possibly one or two exceptions, sororities are new in
Lyon High. Of course, I don't really know how many may have flourished
without anybody's knowing a thing about it. There always are little
cliques, I guess. But let's talk about Hallowe'en. How about a sophomore
party that night, or a smaller one anyway?"

"That would be great, Carolyn," said Dotty, "though I'm afraid we
haven't time to get up a class party. Betty, can I get you another bun?"

"No thanks. I've eaten two."

"That is nothing. The rest of us had three. I insist. Hand me your
plate, please. No one shall say that the chairman of the sophomore
refreshment committee didn't have enough to eat. There are loads left
and I see that Chet Dorrance is cooking some more bacon, just in time
for Betty's last sandwich!"

Without protest Betty handed her plate to Dotty. She was tired and
"ought to have strength for the hike back," as Peggy suggested. And when
Dotty came back, didn't the three boys come with her, to stand in front
of the five upon the log and suggest a sophomore class yell.

"It's too much mixed up, Chet," said Carolyn, "and we'll let the others
tell how good the sophomore committee was. Aren't you a reporter for the
Lyon paper, Chet? Write up Betty as chairman."

"I will. Betty, may I hike home with the chairman and her friends?"

"Of course, unless Chauncey wants you in the car."

"What Chauncey wants is not the question, ladies, and there are almost
no supplies to go back. I speak for a hot dog to eat on the way."

"Make as many 'hot dogs' as you want, Chet," laughed Betty, taking a
good bite from her own sandwich just brought. "You boys ought to have
all you want for helping us out. Please see that Miss Fox is looked
after."

"Miss Fox has had every attention, and we hope that this is not the last
time we go on a oust--I mean a picnic--with the G. A. A. girls."

"Hear, hear," said Dotty, widely grinning.



CHAPTER X: A STARTLING SITUATION


In a number of G. A. A. girls as large as this it was natural that Betty
Lee should have contact with a good many outside of her own class. Lucia
looked her up and her new satellite, Mathilde, was not far from Lucia;
but one junior and one senior girl remained in Lucia's neighborhood at
the start of the hike home. Mathilde's fall and incidents of the hike
out had been related to Betty while she ate her luncheon and were
enlivened by Dotty's comments. Betty, however, was not disturbed by any
of the little undercurrents. She wasn't jealous of anybody, didn't hate
anybody, the sophomore part of the hike had been a success and the whole
thing was great fun.

Mathilde still carried Lucia's alpenstock on the way back and used it
with great effect. She seemed in a happy mood and the only remark which
might have been considered to carry a sting was one made when Betty
waxed enthusiastic over hearing a meadow lark. "Oh, listen!" cried
Betty. "The birds aren't all gone yet by any means, and if there isn't a
dear old meadow lark singing in the sunshine!"

Lucia looked interested and followed Betty's glance, trying to find the
bird. But Mathilde laughed. "Oh, yes. Betty Lee's from the country and
knows the birds!"

Betty said nothing, but a junior girl remarked, "Well, then, let me
stick to Betty on this hike. We study those things in the Girl Reserve
camp. Are you a 'Girl Reserve,' Betty?"

"Oh, yes. I joined last year, but I don't belong to the same group in
high school that you do, of course."

"No. We've been watching the fall migration and gathering some of the
fall wild flowers for botany class, too."

"I'd like to do that," said Lucia. Mathilde tossed her head and looked
disgusted, saying something about there being such a "fad for nature
study."

"It's more than a fad," said Lucia. "It's good for you to get outdoors
more, and then it helps your country to look after the birds and wild
flowers. I don't know much about your American birds and flowers and
trees, but I could learn, perhaps."

"Oh, that would be lovely, Lucia!" cried Betty. "I don't know much, but
I can tell you a little when we take the hikes. You'd soon get ahead of
my small knowledge, though."

"Girls," said the junior, "I'm going to have a party Hallowe'en night
and I'd love to have you come. I'm getting it up rather suddenly, but
there are a few sophomore girls that I want. Will you be one of them?"

"Thank you," said Lucia. "I will ask Mother."

"I'd be delighted," said Mathilde.

"It's so good of you," smiled Betty. "I think I can come. Some of the
girls were talking about a sophomore party, but I don't see how we could
get up such a big affair on short notice."

"I wouldn't try a class affair," pleasantly advised the junior. "I'll
call you up, perhaps; but if I don't you will understand, I hope. I'm
sending out some funny invitations and suppose you just give me your
addresses now, though I _could_ look it up in the directory, of course."

Addresses were scribbled on scraps of paper, which was all any of them
could muster, it seemed. The invited guests were naturally wondering
what they would be expected to wear, though Hallowe'en customs gave them
a pretty good idea. "What sort of a party is it?" asked Mathilde, "a
costume party?"

"Yes. Wear anything you happen to have, and a mask, of course. We'll do
the usual things, indoors and out if it isn't too freezing cold by that
time. We've an attic and a basement and I'm going to use both for
stunts."

"How jolly!" Betty's face brightened with her happiest enthusiasm, and
the junior, Marcella Waite, was glad that she had invited her, privately
thinking Betty a "dear."

Betty was wondering if Marcella was one of those who wanted Lucia in a
sorority, according to the ideas of Dotty and the rest. Oh, wasn't life
nice with so many mysteries and good friends and everything and plenty
of things to do! She would probably meet a number of the older girls at
this party. It would have been more than human not to be pleased at
notice from the juniors. But of course it was probably on account of
Lucia. She needn't plume _herself_ upon it.

They had played a few games before starting back, but to walk back five
miles and arrive in time for lunch, even a late one, precluded a long
stay at the picnic grounds. Besides this was a _hike_. It was about
ten-thirty when Betty received her invitation. The girls strolled along,
not caring much whether they made any "record time" or not. This would
be their last hike, they supposed, while the country was still so
pretty.

Chet, who had asked the privilege of "seeing Betty home" with much fun
and nonsense, had gotten separated from her group and was seen in the
distance with Carolyn and Peggy. Kathryn was nowhere in sight.

And now they had reached that wild stretch through which the early
hikers had come and where Carolyn, Peggy, Lucia and Mathilde had rested,
on one of the hills. That one they avoided but crossed the little stream
on stones recently provided by the hikers. Lightly they jumped from one
to the other, balancing uncertainly on the log which was left by former
waters, turned from its proper position, as Marcella said. "There must
have been a big current here," said Marcella, "to move that old thing
that's been here for years!"

"There ought to be some flowers along the little stream, ought there
not?" asked Lucia, whose English was often a bit formal.

"I think those frosts were pretty bad on the wild flowers, Lucia,"
replied Marcella. But Lucia was strolling up stream along a low bank
lined with bushes, and the other girls followed her. Betty heard another
meadow lark and turned to follow with her eyes the course of a hawk that
flew from a dead tree back from the stream. "That's a marsh hawk," she
said, turning to Lucia, only to find Lucia rising with an exclamation
from where she had been stooping close to Betty. She held up her hand,
looking at it. "I've been bitten!" she exclaimed. "What sort of snakes
do you have here, Betty?"

"Oh--a lot of them, most of them harmless!" said Betty, startled, but
not wanting to frighten Lucia, who was white, yet with her lips pressed
together in perfect self-control. She whipped out her handkerchief
hastily. "We must make a tourniquet at once. Let me wipe this off--and
I'll suck out the poison, Lucia. I did once when Doris was bitten."
Betty's memory went back to one awful experience alone in the woods with
Doris.

"You will not," firmly replied Lucia. "It is dangerous for you might
have some broken spot in your mouth. Reach in my pocket, Betty. I carry
stuff for this sort of thing. Mother told me to bring it."

As she talked, Lucia, though white and trembling, was squeezing the
wound, now bleeding a little, while Betty shakily was tying the
handkerchief about Lucia's wrist, just above the scars and stooped for a
stick to draw it tightly. Marcella, meantime, was at hand without a word
and reached in Lucia's pocket instead of Betty.

"Look out!" cried Lucia as when Betty stooped there was a rustle in the
grass and something long and slim darted across the little path between
the thickly lined stream and other bushes at this point. It all happened
almost too quickly to describe. Betty recoiled, Marcella snatching the
little stick from her hand and not losing a minute in tightening the
bandage or tourniquet.

"Lucia--I saw it! I think it's only a garter snake!"

Betty gave one quick glance at Lucia, seeing that Lucia herself was
pouring something from a tiny vial into the wound. The snake was lying
under the fallen leaves, Betty thought, where a maple tree had been
shedding its brown and golden foliage. There was a stone of good size at
the very foot of the tree and this Betty seized, standing a moment to
locate the snake if she could. She thought that she detected a slight
movement under a pile of leaves and launched the stone, stepping back
immediately after to pick up a branch, thick and broken, that also lay
fairly near.

But the stick was not needed then. The stone, to Betty's own surprise,
had hit the mark. There was a great whipping of leaves for a few
moments. In spite of weeds and other growth Betty could see the pattern
on the little snake, not so long after all--oh, thanks be--it was a
garter snake! Betty had dreaded its being either a rattler or a
copperhead. There were what the boys called vipers, too, she had heard.
How sensible of Lucia to have come prepared!

"You've got it, Betty," said Marcella with excitement. "It's only a
garter snake, Lucia--I'm sure. How do you feel?"

"All right," said Lucia, though her pale face did not bear testimony to
her words. "I ought to have used my knife to open up the place a little.
You do it, Marcella! No, you'd hate to hurt me, wouldn't you?"

Bracing up with her words, Lucia drew a little pearl-handled knife from
her other pocket and carefully enlarged the punctures made by the snake.
She paid not a bit of attention to Betty or the struggles of the snake
caught by the stone.

Betty, who had seen Dick kill snakes but had always felt rather sorry
for the snake and had never killed one herself, was bracing herself to
finish what she had begun. But when she cleared away the leaves with her
stick and could see the results of her throw, she saw that the stone had
crushed the snake's head and that the demise would not take long.
Nothing more was necessary and she turned from the painful sight to
Lucia, who had succeeded in what she had attempted. My, but Lucia was
brave!

"I can't be sure, girls, that that was the snake that bit me," said
Lucia, "so I'll just do everything, just as if it were something very
poisonous. There isn't any of the venom that's very good to get into
your system, I imagine. Can we sit down somewhere?"

The girls helped Lucia to a spot safe and clear where the hill began to
rise. None of the others were in sight, though it had been only a few
minutes since they had separated from several of them. Mathilde, to be
sure, was there, but useless.

"You feel all wobbly, I know, Lucia," said Betty, her arm around Lucia,
who sat without a word, though her brows were drawn together in a frown.

"Yes, yes. It is painful. Betty, you could loosen the tourniquet now,
I'm sure, and suppose you tie it again a little higher up."

"Oh, I wish we had some way of getting you home," said Marcella. "I'll
watch and hail somebody. Lean over on Betty, Lucia."

Marcella was afraid that Lucia was going to faint. But that did not
happen. "I do feel a bit sick, Marcella, but I never fainted in my life
and I'll not begin now. I can walk home. It isn't so much, but not being
sure what sort of a bite it is, I've had to hurt myself more, you see.
I'd rather look for flowers and birds, Betty, than for snakes. I thought
I saw a flower under the leaves and stooped for it--and found a snake
instead!"

"Oh, it's just too bad--your first hike and everything!" Betty was
loosening the tourniquet and making ready to put it on again. Marcella
had run around the hill.

Presently two girls made their appearance and Marcella came back. "We'll
make our way over to the road, Lucia. I've got a guard stationed to stop
any automobile that looks as if it were being driven by anybody
safe--nobody that would kidnap us for ransom, I mean. Come on, if you
think you can walk as far as the road."

"I could walk all the way home, Marcella," said Lucia, smiling for the
first time. "There is nothing the matter with me but a scare. Wait till
I take a look at that snake!"

By this time Betty dared push the stone off the snake's head, and they
all regarded it. They all agreed that it was a "big garter snake,"
though Lucia remarked that she could tell better about its belonging to
the dangerous group if she could have seen the shape of the head. "But
it's shapeless now, poor thing," said Betty. "You did a bad thing for
yourself, snakey, when you bit Lucia!"

"It was only protecting itself," said Lucia.

"What was that medicine, Lucia?"

"I don't know how Mother fixed it, but I heard her ask Uncle if he kept
any permanganate of potash crystals, and when he said no, she sent to
the drug store. She wrapped this bottle in cotton and told me not to
lose it. I had full instructions what to do if I got bitten by
a--rattler, I believe. Mother makes a lot of fuss over me!" Lucia closed
her remark rather apologetically, but the other girls were far from any
critical thought. The Countess Coletti had "fussed" to some purpose this
time. If it had been a diamond-backed rattlesnake! And perhaps it wasn't
the garter snake that had bitten Lucia. Mathilde now kept bringing that
up with little sympathetic remarks like, "It is such a shame, Lucia! I
do hope that it will prove to be nothing serious. I don't think that it
_could_ have been a rattlesnake, do you, Betty?"

Mathilde had screamed and run to a safe distance before she knew what it
was all about. Cautiously she had approached to see what had happened
and ran again as Betty started after the snake. Again she had tried to
come up and be sympathetic, but could not stand it to see the wound. "I
faint so easily, girls," she had said, weakly, when the knife came out.
"I'll have to go away."

"Well if there's any fainting to be done," Marcella had said, "don't do
it here!"

But the girls scarcely thought of Mathilde at all until it was all over
and she sat down by Lucia on the hillside. Alas for Mathilde, and she
had wanted to join the sorority to which Marcella belonged! Yet Mathilde
had not been trained to courage or helpfulness and was not altogether to
blame for her inefficiency on this occasion. It had been a difficult
situation, when speed was a necessary element and knowing what to do
another.

"I looked out for the stick," said Mathilde, handing the alpenstock to
Lucia, who took it with a smile.

"I'm glad you did," she replied courteously. "No, Betty, with this I'll
need no help. I'm getting along famously now and don't feel sick any
more. Come on."

They made their way to the little dirt road and walked slowly toward the
city, relieving the guard, as Marcella put it. The other girls hurried
on, promising to send back any conveyance that they might come across,
provided it were possible to engage it. "Don't take the trouble," urged
Lucia.

But when they had walked about a mile further, Lucia was not sorry when
the Allen car with Chauncey and Kathryn came speeding toward them.
Without a word Lucia climbed in, smiling her welcome. Marcella, Mathilde
and Betty followed, Betty asking Kathryn how it happened.

"One of the girls went to a house and telephoned," replied Kathryn.
"Chauncey had just gotten home after taking the things Miss Fox wanted
brought back to wherever she wanted 'em. He picked me up on the
way--some of us were just getting into town, and so we're here. Now tell
me, are you all right, Lucia?"

"Yes; just tired from being scared. I wonder why the girl didn't
telephone for our car."

"Afraid of scaring your mother, she said," Kathryn replied. "We'll take
you right up home."

"I want Betty, too, please," said Lucia. "Will you come?"

"Of course I'll come," said Betty, though wondering how she would get a
chance to telephone her mother.

It was Betty's first near look at the beautiful Murchison place when
Chauncey drove in and stopped at its impressive front, but Betty had
other thoughts and dreaded the coming interview with the countess.
Perhaps she would not be at home, however, and that would be worse.

A butler admitted the two girls, though Lucia did not ring and hurried
through the hall and up the stairs. "I need you as a shock absorber,"
said Lucia in a low tone, a half smile twisting her lips, and Betty made
a low response. But Betty thought that she would not enjoy being a shock
absorber and felt none too comfortable. Still, she thought to herself,
the important thing was to make sure that Lucia was "all right."

It was an uncomfortable few minutes for sober Betty when Lucia entered a
large and beautifully furnished sitting-room upstairs and found the
countess there. Briefly Lucia told Countess Coletti what had happened
and said that she had followed directions. "The girls were lovely,
Mother, and I brought Betty along to tell you better how the snake
looked."

The countess rose in some excitement and went directly to a low table on
which the telephone apparatus stood. She tapped her foot impatiently
while she waited for the operator to put her in touch with a doctor,
whose presence was requested and the reason told him. Then there
followed a busy few minutes of directions to Lucia and maids or persons
of some sort, and when Lucia was ordered to her room, Betty rose from
her chair to go.

"Mother, can't Betty stay to lunch with me?" asked Lucia, protesting. "I
asked her to."

"Oh, but," began Betty, but the countess turned to Betty, whom she had
scarcely noticed, with a charming smile. "Another time, Lucia. Thank
you, Betty Lee, for everything. Now I must see to Lucia," And Betty
understood that she was dismissed. That smile would make everything seem
all right, thought Betty, as she was courteously bowed out by a solemn
butler. "I imagine that Countess Coletti tries that on the count times
when she is having her own way! But she can certainly do things!"

So ran Betty's thoughts, for Betty was learning to be an observing
little person, though ashamed of herself when her observations were the
least unfriendly. No car but the street-car waited for Betty, but she
took one after quite a walk and went home to tell her mother and the
rest all about the "latest excitement" and to enjoy a delayed lunch.



CHAPTER XI: HALLOWE'EN SURPRISES


It was Hallowe'en, so much more thrilling in the city than in the small
place which Betty Lee formerly called home. In the different suburbs,
like villages themselves, children were already appearing on the street
in costumes and masks, although it was scarcely dark. Many of them
carried baskets, for in gypsy fashion, perhaps, they were accustomed to
receive contributions from the persons whose bells they rang.

Mrs. Lee did not like the custom and would not allow Dick or Doris to
"beg," as she called it. "Have all the fun you want in costume," she
said, "but don't ask for charity!" Mr. Lee made no mention of the fact
that he intended to trail the children a little to see that they were
not carried away by the freedom of the night, but he told his wife that
Policeman Leary would be "on the job" and that he was an easy-going soul
when children were concerned. Mrs. Lee was not so sure that easy-going
would do on Hallowe'en, but her husband explained. "He will not stand
for any destruction of property, particularly in this neighborhood, but
he's not likely to arrest children or be hard on them."

From the standpoint of Dick, Doris and Betty, everything was lovely.
Even little Amy Lou was permitted to dress up and as she made an
adorable little gypsy, with a fetching mask balanced on her small nose,
Doris was rather proud to lead her forth. "We'll bring you right back if
you get fussy, though," warned Dick, "and I have to go with the boys
pretty soon."

"Oh, Dickie, I won't fuss, honest! And Dorry will take care of me, won't
you Dorry?"

"Yes, for a while, anyhow, as long as you ought to stay out. I wish you
were going to be at home, Betty!"

"I don't," frankly replied Betty, who was in front of the mirror seeing
how she looked in the small black mask, from whose openings her eyes
twinkled. "But you will have lots of fun, and if you give Amy Lou a
grand little outing, she'll be angelic when she comes in; for Mother's
going to have a little Hallowe'en party for her, all by herself, with a
great surprise!"

As Betty spoke, she looked down at the tiny gypsy, very solemn and
important now. Amy Lou smiled up, however, with a smile much like that
with which her older sister was regarding her. "Give me a name, Betty!
Give me a name!" she demanded, "a gypsy name!"

"Oh, you're the Queen of the gypsies, the Princess Maria Sophia
Cleopatra Amy Lou."

"All right," shouted Amy Lou, running out of the bedroom to follow
Doris, who was ready to start.

Betty's costume was not one as hastily fabricated as those of the other
children for her mother, realizing that she was to mingle with other
boys and girls who would be well costumed, had gone to considerable
trouble to make her "little girl" pretty. Betty was Titania of the
fairies and was airily dressed in white with "spangles" appropriately
attached, Roman pearls around her young neck, several tinkling bracelets
on her arms and a few tiny silver bells so disposed that they sounded a
little as she walked. And now her mother brought a warm wrap for her
shoulders and the long, shrouding domino that she was to wear over all.
What fun!

There followed the ride to the party in Mr. Lee's car and a merry
good-bye to him as she joined the company of shrouded figures or funnily
costumed ones that were descending from automobiles, or entering the
gates, or being ushered in at the door of the house. My, it was going to
be a large party, but Marcella had told her at school that she had
decided not to have it confined to juniors at all. "I owe such a lot of
the girls, and so I'm going to have--everybody!"

It was not quite that, to be sure, but the upstairs rooms were full
where wraps were being laid aside. How funny not to know a soul to speak
to! But Carolyn had told her what her costume would be and she had
confided what hers would be. Perhaps Carolyn knew about some of the
others.

"Oh, aren't you sweet!" squealed somebody in a high, assumed voice.
"Look, girls, here's the queen of the fairies. Now, who is she? Gilt
hair, cute chin and a dimple or two!"

Betty laughed at the description. So she had gilt hair, had she? That
hair had been arranged as she never wore it before. She did hope that
she wouldn't be found out right away; yet this girl was a tall one and
nobody she knew, she imagined. But she picked up her fairy wand, laid
aside while she removed her wraps, and waved it regally toward the
speaker. She, too, tried to disguise her voice as she said, "The fairy
queen bestows honors and gifts for tonight!"

At that a slim little person in a gay gypsy costume ran up, holding out
her palm. "Cross my palm with a nickel, Titania, and I'll tell you a
fortune, for even the fairies don't know everything!"

The gypsy's voice was pitched low and rang a little hollow; but surely
Betty knew that hand and arm, all covered with rings, beads and
glittering gold or brass! "Oh, it's you, Gypsy, isn't it?" she whispered
in the gypsy's ear. "I might know that you would be a real gypsy
tonight! You look darling!"

"Then I didn't fool you a little bit! I hope I have better luck with
other people. Was it my voice?"

"No, your hand, Gypsy. And did you know me right off?"

"No, honey, not till you said 'Gypsy' just now. Nobody else calls me
that much--yet."

"Yet is a good word, Kathryn. After tonight you may be called that more.
Let's go around together, then, the Gypsy Queen and the Fairy Queen,
that is, I'm _supposed_ to be it."

Together Kathryn Allen and Betty Lee descended the stairs where their
feet sank into a soft carpet. Below, on either side of the hall, large
rooms stretched out, opening in to the hall with its pillars and
draperies. "What a lovely home," said Betty.

"Yes, isn't it. I've never been here before. And aren't the Hallowe'en
decorations cute?"

Arm in arm the girls entered at the right, where a sort of receiving
line seemed to be. And there was Marcella, without her mask, yet covered
with a domino which concealed her costume. "Hello, girls," she greeted
them. "I'm sorry not to be able to speak your names, but I think you
need no introduction for I can guess what you are without any trouble.
Titania, greetings. By what name shall I call your friend?"

"Allow me to present the Gypsy Queen, Miss Waite," said Betty with mock
formality.

"Happy to meet you. Titania, let me introduce the Sultan of Turkey and
the Pirate of Penzance."

Two tall lads stood just beyond Marcella. Betty shook hands with a
richly dressed "Sultan" and a wildly equipped pirate, who looked very
handsome and bent over Betty's hand like some cavalier of old. Betty
wondered if these boys were guests or just on a sort of receiving
committee. If the pirate were one of the boys in school, he must be a
senior or one of the older junior boys she was sure.

Two boys, who had been chatting with some others, turned back to be
introduced to Betty and Kathryn by the pirate and Betty understood that
they, too, properly belonged in the receiving line. All were masked
except Marcella, who wanted to meet her guests in her proper person.

"The thing to do next," said one of the girls, "is to go through the
main rooms, see the decorations, visit the tent and have your fortune
told, go and bob for apples or do some of the other stunts, whatever you
can get in before the masked dancing begins. We're going to have the
old-fashioned square dances just as soon as everybody is here. But of
course, you're to talk to the other girls and boys and try to find out
who they are--oh, you'll see what to do. Marcella has somebody to tell
you."

Kathryn and Betty, however, did not feel like fortunes yet. They looked
all around for Carolyn, who evidently had not arrived, and had an
amusing conversation with a rollicking clown, who turned out to be, so
they thought, Chet Dorrance; but he would not acknowledge it when
Kathryn said that she "guessed it was Chet." Betty hoped that Ted was
there among some of the tall figures. He probably knew Marcella.

"It's a good thing we've been having the funny old dances in 'gym,'
isn't it?" asked Kathryn. "Do you suppose the boys know 'em?"

"They can learn. I imagine we'll all be told what to do. Besides, nobody
has to dance that doesn't want to."

Carolyn came and found the girls, though she was claimed almost
immediately by another clown, very spotty as to his ruffled and bulging
suit and wearing at first a mask which covered his entire face, but that
proved too hot. He had an ordinary mask in his pocket, he told Carolyn,
who encouraged him to put it on. "Get into a corner and whisk off that
hot mask," she advised. "I'll turn my back to you and hand you the
little one."

"You won't give me away if you happen to see?"

"Of course not. I will _keep your secret_ till we unmask!" she added, in
lofty tones, then giggled.

Meantime, Betty decided that she would have her fortune told. Kathryn
said that she would do it, too, and see what the other gypsy looked
like.

The tent was a flimsy affair, as one put up in a drawing room would
necessarily be. The fortune-teller was one of the older girls, who did
it very cleverly. Her costume was not like Kathryn's, but very gay with
sashes and ribbons, beads and jewelry of all sorts. Her long earrings
glittered and the wide gold bracelets that she wore jingled as they were
struck by other loose narrow ones.

"I see that you will have to make a great choice," she said to Betty, as
Betty stretched forth her capable little hand and the gypsy pored over
it, or looked at as much of Betty's face as she could see.

"You have gifts. You might have a career. You are musical and there are
some practical lines in your hand, too. Your life line is good--yes, I
see a long life for you. You are rather creative."

"What is the great choice?" asked Betty.

"Oh, yes. It's the usual choice between marriage and a career."

"Couldn't I have both?"

"It doesn't work," laughed the gypsy, forgetting her pose. "I mean to
say that you may have several serious love affairs and you may choose to
marry. When you take your mirror tonight and your candle and look in the
mirror, repeat this charm; for it will drive away the goblins and
witches and other evil spirits and you may really see the one you are to
love best!"

The gypsy handed Betty a piece of paper, cut from a gay Hallowe'en strip
of some sort. It was folded and the gypsy warned her not to open it
until just before she "performed the fatal rite."

"It will lose its power if you do," said she. "No, friend gypsy, let me
see what the fates have for you. Oh, yes. That's a nice hand, good
lines, some mentality, not too much, some gifts; you will marry and
there will be several, one, two, three children, a long life--but beware
a dark woman who will try to come between you and the man you love!"

"She isn't so good," laughed Kathryn after she and Betty left the tent,
"but she was jolly all right. If it is a dark woman, it can't be you,
Betty, so we'll remain friends, I see."

"I suppose there's some arrangements for the mirror stunt," said Betty.
"Oh, there's the music--let's see where it is. Why, Gypsy, Marcella has
a real orchestra--or a number of the pieces anyhow. Listen! They're
tuning up!"

The fun of the old-fashioned dances began. The Pirate of Penzance made
straight for Betty, who wondered more than ever who he could be. He was
evidently speaking in his natural voice, but she had never heard it
before, at least it was not at all familiar. Marcella must know him very
well, Betty thought, for she noticed a private confab between the two.

Her pirate was very graceful, she thought, and his costume, with its
dark red and dark blue, and gay sash with its array of knives, was a
good one. The knives he laid aside for the dances, but assumed them
again when it was announced that the company would now proceed to the
basement where witches and goblins were holding their annual frolic. "Be
very careful," announced the Pirate of Penzance, "and the witches will
be friendly."

Down the stairs to the large basement with its concrete floor, tripped
the company. Except for the part devoted to the furnaces, the place was
decorated and the only light came from large pumpkins, amusingly cut and
containing the customary candles. A hollow-voiced witch in a long black
robe stood at the door and odd little goblins and black cats and other
appropriate Hallowe'en figures hung from the low ceiling of the cellars.

Betty had not seen the place to bob for apples, mentioned by the girl of
the receiving line, but here she found it, and groups of boys and girls
separated to perform the various Hallowe'en stunts provided. The Pirate
of Penzance had held Betty's arm coming down stairs, but now, with the
girl she thought was Marcella--indeed it _must_ be--he was guiding this
one or that one and helping to start the fun. _Could_ it be Ted
Dorrance? He was tall enough, but no; he was good-looking but his chin
was different and his mouth firmer some way; and if it were Ted, he had
stained his skin darker, that was all.

But Betty had little time to think. She was doing things with the rest,
with boys and girls whose identity she did not know. Neither Kathryn nor
Carolyn were in sight, though the light was dim enough in this spooky
place, and they might be around.

And now her turn came to go into the "hole in the wall," a jog of some
sort in the solid masonry, before which a black curtain fell. By the
light from a widely grinning pumpkin Betty read the charm which was
supposed to keep her from baleful influences:

    "O Witches and Goblins, by this little light,
    Please send me the face of my true love tonight!"

"Say it out loud," prompted a voice behind Betty. The black witch stood
there.

"All right. Do I light my candle first?"

"Yes." The witch, who wanted to laugh herself and chuckled a little now
over something Betty wondered about, held out a match.

Betty scratched the match on the rough stone of the basement's big
partition. It went out and so did a second one. There was a little
draught somewhere, that made the curtain shake a little.

"Don't let the third one go out," warned the witch, now solemn and
speaking with a deep voice. "When the third one fails, the bad luck
hails!"

"How awful!" cried Betty, giggling as she struck the third match. But
she held her hand so that the little flame was sheltered from the
draught and the candle was lit successfully.

"Better watch the flame while you go behind the curtain," suggested the
witch in almost human tones, "and don't set anything on fire. Here's the
mirror."

Darkness met Betty as she passed beyond the curtain. She felt like
examining the place, especially when she heard a door softly close. It
seemed right by her--oh, her candle went out! Oh, but it was spooky.
Well, she'd brace up, say her little charm and pretend when she went out
that it had been all right.

    "O Witches and Goblins, by this little light,
    Please send me the face of my true love tonight!"

Betty's voice was a little unsteady. It wasn't any fun to be in this
unknown spot all in the dark. That thick curtain behind her didn't let
in a bit of light. She'd wait just the appropriate moment when she would
be supposed to look in the mirror and then _wouldn't_ she skip out!

But in that little moment a match struck close by her and while she
could not help a low exclamation, her candle was lit for her and a voice
whispered, "Good work. You didn't squeal or anything. I was here just
for fun, but I didn't blow your candle out. I shut the door that had
sprung open. See?"

"Oh!" gasped Betty, looking at the brown hands that lit the candle.

"Now you shall see somebody, if it isn't your own true love," whispered
the voice. "Look in your mirror, Titania!"

Betty looked. She saw the dark costume of the Pirate of Penzance, whose
amused face, _without the mask_, smiled at her from the mirror. "Oh!"
she gasped again.

"Now let me see _you_ without the mask," whispered the lips in the
mirror.

Betty handed her candle to the pirate and obediently took off her mask,
smiling up with confidence into the "nice face" that the supposed pirate
carried.

"Thanks," said he, "Good-bye."

The pirate blew out the candle this time and Betty heard the door near
at hand softly close. He had gone, and Betty lost no time in appearing
beyond the curtain. The witch looked suspiciously at her and Betty was
glad that the light was dim in the basement. She kept away from the rays
of the pumpkin.

"Didn't your light go out?" asked the witch. "I was talking to the next
masker but I saw no light for a moment through the crack by the
curtain."

"Yes, but--there was a match there--so I--well, I looked in the mirror
all right and, of course, I saw my true love!"

"Fine," said the girl to test her luck next. "Hurry up and give me a
match, please. That whole bunch that's bobbing for apples is coming here
next."

Betty was glad that there was opportunity for no more questioning, such
as "where did the match come from?" Why, what a funny time! The Pirate
of Penzance was nobody she had ever seen before. He must be some friend
of Marcella's who knew all about the place, basement and all. And wasn't
it nice of him to do that? He was quite clear that he wasn't her "true
love," though he looked older, older than Ted even, and perhaps he was
engaged to somebody. Of course! He was some University student, engaged
to some senior who was here. No, if she had been here, he wouldn't have
paid so much attention to Betty and danced with her so much. Well, then,
he was just helping Marcella with her party and having a lot of fun on
the side.

By this time Betty was used to mingling with the unknown, guessing at
who they were and joking with any one at all as it happened. She thought
she knew a few of the juniors, whom she had known as sophomores last
year. Then there was some of her own class she was pretty sure, boys
that would be invited to equalize the numbers of boys and girls, and she
knew what girls of her class had been invited. Size, however, was no
help, for even if juniors were supposed to be older and to be still
"growing," some of the juniors were shorter than some of the sophomores.

Carolyn Gwynne was going up from the basement as Betty reached the
stairs. "Oh, Betty, I mean Titania," she cried, lowering her voice. "I
guess nobody heard that. Excuse me. Did you go in to look in the mirror
and did they have the big mirror up then?"

"No. I mean I went in to see my true love in a glass, but I was given a
little hand mirror."

"Well, when I went in they had a square mirror propped on a sort of
ledge in front of me. But the next girl had just gotten inside when she
dropped her candle and squealed terribly and I suppose she reached out
to grab something and down came the mirror and smashed like everything!

"She came out all scared to pieces and the witch started to tell her it
was bad luck all in fun, but the girl cried and Marcella came running to
tell her that the mirror didn't matter and there wasn't any such thing
as good and bad luck really."

"Which girl was it?"

"She took off her mask, but I didn't know her. It was some junior girl,
I think. Marcella took her upstairs. Why, she is in a colonial costume,
Martha Washington or Dolly Madison or something like that."

"I don't believe Martha and Dolly would dress alike, Carolyn," laughed
Betty. "Let's go and sit down somewhere. I think the orchestra's going
to play again. So many of the crowd have come up from 'witchdom' now. It
was sort of spooky downstairs, but such fun."

"Wasn't it. Did you see anything in your mirror, Betty?"

"Oh, of course," laughed Betty, who wasn't going to tell. Not even
Carolyn, or Kathryn were to know about that little interchange between
Titania, queen of the fairies, and a Pirate of Penzance!

Betty was conscious of some inward excitement later, when the little
orchestra played familiar and lively tunes and the invitation to supper
was given. What exclamations and little squeals and giggles and happy
laughter there were when the unmasking took place at the tables.

"I knew all the time it was you!"

"Oh, you fooled me perfectly! I hadn't an idea!"

"I thought it was you, and then you had changed your voice so that I was
not sure."

"You gave yourself away when you used that funny expression about Jean.
I'd heard you say that before."

"Yes, and when you wrinkled up your forehead I knew _you_!"

Such were some of the merry expressions.

Betty was quite impressed; but she looked all around, as best she could
without seeming to look, to see if she could see the Pirate of Penzance.
But he was nowhere to be seen and much else engrossed her attention, her
pretty place card, the little Hallowe'en souvenir at each plate, the
good supper, light but savory, and the general jollity. Betty had
scarcely given a thought to Lucia, except to wonder if a pretty Italian
peasant could be Lucia. But she found herself at the same table with
Lucia, who was in a beautiful costume as the Queen of Sheba. Real jewels
flashed on her neck and arms and Betty wondered how she dared wear them.

"Are you all over your being bitten by the snake, Lucia?" someone asked.

"Oh, yes. I want to forget it. It didn't make me sick at all, though
Mother kept me at home from school for several days. She wasn't sure
what sort of a snake it was, you see, so she had everything attended to.
I'm going on hikes and everything just the same, though I'll not try to
pick a flower without looking. That serpent ought to have been in winter
quarters and wasn't."

"Are you going in for athletics?"

"Some of it. I'm going to swim, like Betty Lee, and then I ride, though
I may not enter their course here. I play hockey on the ice, but I don't
know about it here. You have regular class teams, don't you, and have to
be elected in some way before you can be on one?"

"Yes, in a way you're chosen."

"Well, I'm not an applicant for anything." Lucia smiled but tossed her
head up a little proudly, and a look was exchanged between two of the
sophomores. If Lucia played hockey in Switzerland, she might not be a
bad person to have on the team. Perhaps she could be persuaded to "try
out" for it. They would get her to play on a "scrub team" some time for
fun.

But what was that junior saying?

"What is a mere hockey team to the Queen of Sheba?"



CHAPTER XII: BEATING THE JUNIORS WITH LUCIA


Life went on in such a rush! It always did, but that was half the fun
now, Betty thought. At home little was demanded of her except the
regular little duties, given to each of the children and expected more
by their father than their mother, though for her benefit.

Athletics started off with a boom, pep meetings, the new football team
on the platform, the organization of the girls' teams, all sorts of
try-outs and some scheming. Alas, the seniors who had been on last
year's champion football team left such a hole that it was hard to fill
with material good enough to make a winning team. And oh, how sad it was
when a series of defeats made the championship out of the question for
Lyon High. At least they must beat the Eagles, and the coach tried to
prepare them for that almost final game. But no! Betty, who sat beside
Louise Madison, loyal enough to see the great game of the year by her
beloved high school, and they shook their heads sadly at each other as
the time passed first with no score at all on either side for the first
half, then with the Lions unable to "hold them" and the Eagles scoring
both by forward passes and "straight football." It was awful, Louise
said, but "Maybe the Lions have it coming to them," said Louise. "And it
isn't good for a high school to get too cocky. We've got about all the
cups there are--so let the Eagle scream this time!"

It was so romantic! Here was Ted again, coming around to talk to Louise,
and Louise, more flirtatious and self-conscious than she had been before
University days, being just as charming as she could. But Ted paid just
as much attention to Betty and was as gallant as ever to both of the
girls. Lucia, also, came in for her share of attention, as she sat next
to Betty in the big stadium and heard all the comments with the greatest
interest or amusement as the case may be.

"Oh, your football is so exciting," she said. "It makes me think of the
bull fights in Spain!"

"Yes, and you used to have thumbs down in your Roman theatres, too,"
mischievously added Ted.

"We have a big picture of the Coliseum at home," said Peggy, behind
Lucia, and Lucia turned to give Peggy a glance of amusement.

"We had lions, then," she added.

"Lions, rah!" said Ted Dorrance, but the tiresome last plays were on
now. Time was nearly up and there was no hope for the Lions, even if
they should score. Lyon High rooters began to rise, wearily, and gather
up rugs, cushions or newspapers to take their departure.

This game took place just a week before the final hockey matches between
the classes. Lucia and Mathilde had "made" the hockey team. Betty had
been hurt a little in the try-out, and Peggy insisted that Mathilde did
it on purpose, but Betty refused to believe it and played happily on
what they themselves called the "scrub team," the team which played with
its own team to prepare them for the contest, also to have able material
on hand in case it was necessary or best to put in substitutes. Betty
was always keen about whatever game she played, but she really cared for
excellence in its proper sense only in swimming.

"Don't worry, Kathryn," she said to Gypsy. "Whether Mathilde intended
that or not doesn't matter, I'll watch after this and somebody has to be
on the second team, so why shouldn't it be I? Moreover, I had everything
to learn about hockey, after all, and I think Mathilde has played."

"She said she has, but I don't believe it. There's favoritism. Mathilde
for some reason stands in with one of the athletic teachers and I saw
her talking with the others that day. I'm not going to tell you who she
is, though. Do you mind?"

"I'd rather not know, though of course I'm curious. Tell me after the
match!"

But all things considered, Betty began to want to do well. "Let's beat
the first team, girls," she said to her girls just before the last
practice game, and beat the first team they did, though scolded for it.

"Now don't let the fact that the second team beat you discourage you at
all, girls," said the athletic teacher who had watched the game. "It was
a close game and let it make you all the more careful against the other
teams in your class contest. I'm not favoring one team more than
another; but I want to encourage every one to do its very best."

"The freshman team hasn't had enough practice," said Carolyn in the gym
before the games. The girls were putting on their customary equipment
and donning sweaters, for it was cold though clear outside, with the
ground hard, yet free from snow. Unless it rained, the climate in which
Lyon High rejoiced was good for outdoor sports almost until Christmas.
"So I think that the freshmen will be out of it and the juniors and
sophomores play against each other at the last. The seniors are too sure
and they have some weak material. I've been watching their practice
games."

Carolyn was not playing, but "terribly interested," she said. Many
sophomore rooters were on hand when the games were played, and sure
enough, it was the juniors against the sophomores at the last. Mathilde
was hit by one of the hockey sticks early in the games and Betty took
her place, much to Mathilde's discomfiture. Her "hated rival" played
along with the daughter of a countess, whose friendship Mathilde so much
wanted to have for herself, and only for herself.

"Good, Betty," said Lucia, when Betty was put in. "I'm sorry for
Mathilde, but she makes so many wild plays and isn't quick enough. Now
let's beat the juniors all to pieces, as you girls say!"

Fast and furiously went the game. The juniors expected to win, yet they
were never taken unaware. It was a fair and excellent game, the athletic
directors said, yet the sophomores did win and Lucia threw her arms
around Betty after it was over. "I'm going to tell my uncle how you
played, Betty!" she exclaimed. "I wanted Mother to come and see me do
something, but she wouldn't. She only hoped I wouldn't get hurt and it
wouldn't turn out like the hike! How's that for a mother that came over
here on purpose to make an American out of me?"

"Did she, honestly, Lucia," asked Betty, hugging Lucia in return.

"Of course she did and I like it now, only I shall always want my
father, too."

"Well, you write him that you were 'the noblest Roman of them all,'
according to me, and I _know_!"

"I will, Betty," and Lucia's smile was a happy one. "Come on," said she,
"let's go and comfort poor Mathilde."

"That is dear of you, Lucia, and I would, only it would look too much
like crowing over her because I was put in in her place. Besides, she'd
be happier anyway for you to think of her--by yourself."

Lucia's dark eyes surveyed Betty thoughtfully. "You always think of
everything, Betty. How do you do it? I like you, Betty Lee!" and Lucia
turned to find Mathilde, who was limping away with a small group of
sophomores.

"You're pretty nice, yourself, Lucia," Betty sent after her, and Lucia
waved a deprecatory hand.



CHAPTER XIII: LIGHT ON THE SORORITY QUESTION


Betty had to decide what she would do about "sororities." She had
discussed them frankly with a few of the girls, those she knew well,
perfectly sincere girls and her good friends. Outside of that little
circle she had been careful what she said. She had been included with
Lucia, Mathilde, Carolyn and Peggy in attentions from the juniors of the
Kappa Upsilons. That there was a small addition to that "chapter" in
process of being made among the sophomores she knew. If the other girls
joined, especially Carolyn, would it make a difference in their
friendship? Yet Kathryn, while she had been invited to Marcella's party,
that glorious Hallowe'en party, had received no further attention.
Perhaps it was a matter of numbers.

Now Marcella had come right out and asked her what she thought of Kappa
Upsilon and whether she had any objection to a high school sorority that
"really complied with the rules you know."

Fortunately the question came at the close of school when Betty was
rushing home to let her mother go somewhere without Amy Louise. Betty
was going to get the dinner that night. "Why, Marcella, I think anything
that you belong to would have to be all right," she answered. "I've got
to _rush_, Marcella, to catch that car!" and Betty scampered as fast as
she could, noting from Marcella's smile and nod that she understood.
More than one important conversation was sometimes interrupted because
one of the participants had to hurry to orchestra practice or a Dramatic
Club meeting or a meeting of the _Lions' Roar_ reporters or editors, or
merely to catch a car home, as in the present instance.

All the way home, the people in the car were as shadows to Betty as she
sat squeezed in between a fat lady and one of the senior girls until the
car reached her stop. She vaguely recalled answering a few remarks from
the senior girl, whom she did not know, but her mind was chiefly
concerned about what she should do.

She nearly put sugar instead of salt into the potatoes when she mashed
them, and when she finally took up the supper and was sitting in her
mother's place, fixing Amy Lou's milk, she answered a question from her
father, with such a blank, "What, sir?" that Dick looked up from his
plate to say rudely, "What's eating you Betty?" and Doris said "Are you
mad at anybody?"

Betty waked up immediately and came back to the present scene. "Oh, no,
Doris! I've just been thinking about something."

"Betty has great powers of concentration," said Mr. Lee, with a twinkle
in his eyes, "but look out; it's dangerously near absent-mindedness."

"So it is, Daddy. I've got a funny little problem to solve, that's all.
I'm sorry I was so absorbed. But the twins were telling you all about
their affairs anyhow----"

"When last you heard anything," laughed Dick. "We hadn't said a word for
at least a full minute and a half!"

"It was Amy Lou, then," suggested Betty.

"I didn't do anything," said Amy Lou, getting ready to put up an injured
lip.

"Mercy no, darling. You're all right. It's old Betty that isn't much
good as a mother substitute. Isn't that so?"

But Amy Lou was drinking her milk now and when she put down her tumbler
she said, rather gaspingly, "I love Mother and I love Betty, too. She
made the dessert just like Grandma."

After dinner Doris and Dick did the dishes, by previous arrangement, and
Betty went to her lessons, while Mr. Lee had his customary little visit
with his youngest daughter before her bedtime. That was to be a little
later than usual this time. But Betty could not study very well. It was
hard to settle to anything someway and when Amy Lou's father was putting
her to bed, the telephone rang. Dick answered it and called Betty, who
had been alone back in her bedroom.

It was Carolyn Gwynne. "'Lo, Betty. Betty I've got a problem I can't
answer."

"Have you, what is it?"

"I had an invitation this afternoon and I sort of suspect you had, too.
Did you?"

"Why--I don't know. I'm not sure just what you mean. Perhaps I would
have had one if I hadn't had to rush for a car and get home. Mother was
invited out for dinner and I cooked ours."

"Oh, did you? I wish I knew how! Well, I just have to see you some way.
Could you leave for just a little while if I drove over for you!"

"I'll ask. I've lessons well enough up, I suppose. I got most of them at
school, and if you're thinking of the same thing I am, I'd surely like
to talk it over with you. Hold the wire a moment."

Betty tiptoed back, hoping that Amy Lou hadn't gotten to the stage when
it was best not to rouse her from her sleepiness. But she heard her
childish conversation with her father and went near the door. "Father,
excuse me, but Carolyn wants to know if I can drive over with her if she
comes for me. We have--something to decide and it's--important."

"Is she driving, this late?"

"Oh, no. She wouldn't be allowed. She will be driven."

"Very well, then, but do not stay late."

"No. I have my lessons pretty well, Father."

Betty reported the favorable answer and it was not long before she and
Carolyn were in secret conference in Carolyn's pretty room. Carolyn put
Betty in the gay _chaise lounge_ that was her own, drew up a big chair
for herself and established a little "end table" between them. On this
reposed a box of taffies and a plate of apples.

"My, such preparations!" laughed Betty.

"Don't you like 'em?" twinkled Carolyn.

"Indeed I do! I'm so thankful to be invited over, for I couldn't study
or do anything else," and Betty gave Carolyn a history of her
preoccupation while she tried to cook dinner and serve it.

"Tell me why you were preoccupied, Betty," urged Carolyn.

"Oh, _you_ tell what your problem is."

"_Please_," said Carolyn, and Betty "weakly yielded," as she announced
before she told.

"It's just because you're nicer than I am," said Carolyn, "but I have a
reason."

"You may not think what I have to tell you is much, but it was
Marcella's manner and I saw that she wanted to talk to me," said Betty,
who went on to give an account of what Marcella had said.

Carolyn listened with interest. "Yes, that was it. It was one of the
other girls that talked to me, though. But she told me that some of my
special friends were being asked, or would be asked to join the Kappa
Upsilons. It _would_ be fun, Betty!"

"Yes, it would; but there's a lot of things to be considered. In the
first place it _is_, really, a high school sorority. The girls don't
even pretend that it isn't, or practically the same thing. How do they
get around it, Carolyn?"

"By having people outside of high school belong to it and claiming that
it is just a society and not a high school affair."

"I see. I've been trying out Mother and Father on high school sororities
and all I can get out of them is surprise that I should mention it at
all. 'How can they have sororities if they are forbidden?' asks my dear
mother!"

"Yes--my father the same--but Mother knows. She just laughs. I didn't
tell her I'd been bid today. Well, now, listen, Betty. We agree that it
would be fun. So it would. That's that. It sounds well to be a Kappa
Upsilon and we can go around if we like and be as snooty as any of them.
But they've dropped Kathryn since the party, for one thing. She did not
mention it, though of course she has noticed it, but when I asked her
about something that I was in on she didn't know a thing about it and
looked at me as _funny_--I don't think it was nice of them, to pay
attention and then drop a person like a hot cake."

"No. That isn't like Marcella Waite, though."

"Marcella is a fine girl, but there are two or three that are different.
Oh, they're nice enough. A body could have them for friends, but they
take up little things. Kathryn may have said something that wasn't
according to their notion. Kathryn is pretty independent, you know."

"So am I," said Betty.

"Yes, but with a little difference, and then you are prominent now in
athletics. They all expect you to win something in the girls' swimming
meet and you are going to make the basketball team."

"Am I?" laughed Betty, "how nice!"

Carolyn laughed too, but went on. "So you are as good as asked, Betty.
Now the question is, what are we going to do about it? I want to and I
don't want to--and oh, I must tell you what Louise Madison says. She is
over here once in a while, you know, and I was talking to her about
sororities.

"She said, 'Why don't you wait till you go to the University and join
some sororities that amount to something and are real sororities,
national and all that?'

"Then my sister said that the girls were afraid that they might not get
bid to one in the University, that a bird in the hand was worth two in
the bush and that some of them thought a girl was more likely to be
asked into a sonority in the University if she had belonged to a high
school sorority."

"Does Louise belong to a sorority over there?"

"Yes, and my sister, too, but they were talking about some of their
friends that didn't get in and how unhappy they were. That's the worst
of it. Louise was asked by my sister's sorority."

"Was Louise in a high school sorority?"

"No--she said that she wouldn't be. There wasn't any one started that
she wanted to join when she was a freshman or sophomore and then she got
into so much responsibility in the G. A. A. and cared for athletics so
much more, I guess. But Louise didn't say a word about herself. I got
all about her through Letty. Letitia didn't go to high school much. She
was sick some and it was better for her to go to private school. My
Dad's the one that insisted on _my_ going to Lyon High."

"I'm certainly glad that you did," said Betty, with emphasis. "I'm glad
to hear all this, Carolyn, and Louise's idea. There's another thing. I
can't see that it makes much difference on our 'social position,'
outside of just a few girls that we like, like Marcella, because there's
such a _mob_ of folks in this big high school. The sororities _can't_
have so much influence, outside of their own little group, and we could
just as easily have our own friends. There are such _loads_ of nice
girls in the Girl Reserves, for instance, and in the swimming and games
who cares what sorority a girl belongs to, or knows, for that matter!"

"Oh, they work for their own, Betty. You'd be surprised at the things
_some_ of the girls will do to be represented in prominent affairs."

"Does it get them anywhere?"

"Sometimes."

Betty thoughtfully tapped her fingers on the arms of the _chaise lounge_
and Carolyn offered the box of taffies.

"Do you know who are going in with the Kappa Upsilons?" asked Betty,
talking off the oiled paper from her candy. "Carolyn," she said, by way
of parenthesis, "if I eat this, I'll not be able to talk!"

"That's all right," said Carolyn, removing the paper from her piece.
"Perhaps we need to do some _thinking_!"

"Yes--but I've thought and thought. What I need to do is deciding."

"Help me decide, too."

"I wouldn't dare take the responsibility."

"It makes a lot of difference what _you_ do, Betty. I'll not care so
much to be in it unless you are."

"Oh, Carolyn!"

"It's so, Betty Lee! But you asked me who were being asked or who were
going in, which isn't quite the same thing. I think Peggy Pollard will,
and Lucia has said she would. They are crazy to get her into it--the
daughter of a count and countess!"

"Yes, but Lucia is good enough to be asked on her own account, and she
can be pardoned, perhaps, for being 'snooty' in social matters."

"I don't see why!"

"I mean because of the way she has been brought up. Don't you suppose if
you'd had family and wealth drilled into you and all that way of living
it would make you different?"

"Yes--I imagine it would. Lucia's been everywhere."

It was, indeed, difficult to talk now, since the taffies were being more
than sampled. But by degrees a few more thoughts on sororities were
exchanged.

"Suppose we sleep over it," suggested Betty. "I've got to make a list, I
think, of arguments for and against. The biggest argument _for_ is
Marcella and how good it is of them to want us. A person hates to refuse
and seem not to appreciate being asked. And then you run the chance of
their unfriendliness, too."

"Yes," said Carolyn, with a frown; "but I don't believe Marcella Waite
would be that way. Do you think so?"

"I hope not. I had the best time at her party!"

"So did I. Oh, by the way, Mathilde is invited and there isn't any
chance of her not accepting. Julia--I may as well tell you who asked
me--Julia Hickok said that Mathilde is so fond of Lucia Coletti and that
they think she, Mathilde, will make a very loyal sorority sister."

Betty gave Carolyn a sober glance. "Lucia could handle Mathilde, if
necessary," she replied. "Lucia is a girl of some force, Father says.
But on which side of the arguments for and against shall we put
Mathilde's being in the sorority?"

Carolyn smiled. "It wouldn't make so much difference to me. I could get
along with 'Finney'--I'm not like Dotty."

"I think you could get along with anybody, Carolyn, you are such a dear.
But there it is. I think 'getting along' with sorority sisters that one
did not choose for intimate friends would hinder me in my 'great
ambitions' in other lines. But I've simply got to sleep on it, Carolyn."

"Probably I'd better, too, but we haven't much time, Betty. I told Julia
I'd tell her in the morning. I had to ask what Mother and Father
thought. She laughed at me for a goose, then told me that I mustn't make
that an excuse. I told her that I thought they would let me do what I
wanted to do, but that I ought to tell them at least. I hope that she
didn't take that as a promise. Away from Julia and talking it over with
you makes me not so enthusiastic. Call me up in the morning, Betty, if
you've decided before you go to school."

"I will have decided all right," said Betty. "It's a thing you can't put
off. I'll decide, if I have to draw cuts!"



CHAPTER XIV: THE DECISION


Carolyn rode home in the Gwynne car with Betty, but they talked of other
things, especially the coming season of basketball. Betty declared that
she did not play a good game and Carolyn said that she played as well as
the other sophomores and that moreover she was swift and graceful about
everything just as she was in swimming. "Go in for it, Betty; please
do."

"I'll think about it," promised Betty. "It's so that most of our hockey
team want to play basketball, too."

Taffies, no matter how toothsome, are not the best preparation for a
sound night's sleep; but Betty was too sleepy to give sororities any
further thought that night and the only effect of the taffy was in
giving her a dream in which she and Carolyn were being initiated into
Kappa Upsilon, while Kathryn stood by watching them.

In the morning she woke with a pretty good idea of what she was going to
do. It was not necessary to marshal the arguments for and against. "I'm
not going into a thing that leaves out a lot of my special friends," she
said to herself as she dressed. "Lyon High is too big for it to make any
difference to me. The question of sororities in college can wait. I may
go away to school or be in the University here. Carolyn's so sweet it
won't make any difference if she does go into it; and I like Kathryn so
much; and if Peggy changes, I can't help it."

Peggy, however, was a big pull toward the sorority for Carolyn, she
knew. She almost wished she did not have to call up Carolyn. She didn't
want to use any influence with her. It wouldn't be fair. Perhaps by this
time Carolyn wanted awfully to do it and her decision would be a sort of
wet blanket. Still, she had promised to tell her before they went to
school.

Betty hurried with her dressing and breakfast, helping a little as usual
and to her relief, while she was still at the table, the telephone rang.
Carolyn was calling her, she thought.

Doris answered it this time, but she called Betty. "It's Carolyn," she
said. "It must be something important for her to call you at breakfast
time."

Betty only smiled as she hopped up and ran to the front hall. "Yes,
Carolyn?"

"Betty, Peggy called up last night and she is going to join and is crazy
to have me do it!"

"Well, Carolyn, why not, if you want to?"

"I told old Peggy that I was trying to make up my mind but I didn't
mention you at all. I thought you'd rather not. She did, though, and
said they wanted to have you. Lucia, too, had asked them if they had
asked you, with the idea that it would be a lot more attractive to her
if they did!"

"That was very nice of Lucia."

"Well, Betty--have you decided?"

"Yes, Carolyn."

"That doesn't sound as if you were going to do it. If I know you, you
would have said something enthusiastic about Peggy and Lucia. Dare I ask
you _what_ you have decided?"

Betty's little chuckle went over the wires to Carolyn.

"I am putting off telling you till the last minute, you see, _because_
of what you are saying about Peggy and Lucia and how you may feel
yourself about it. Please don't be influenced by what I do or don't do.
That sounds conceited, doesn't it? But really I'm not a bit about it.
You just consulted me and seemed to care what I thought about it, you
know!"

"For pity's sake, Betty, don't apologize! And I can't wait a minute
longer to know!"

"All right, then," said Betty, with no chuckle this time. "I knew when I
woke up that I wasn't going to join. All the reasons against it win,
Carolyn."

"Well, I just about knew how you would decide. I've got to think it over
between now and the time I get to school. I didn't know at all when I
woke up what I was going to do. Peggy's enthusiasm last night shook me."

"Why shouldn't it? You've known Peggy for a long time. And don't think
that your belonging to any sorority will make me think any less of you.
That will be just _one little organization_ that we aren't in together.
There are plenty of societies in Lyon High, Carolyn."

"Yes. All right, Betty. I've got to think it out myself, just like you.
See you at lunch."

Receivers were hung up. The discussion was over. Now Betty was to think
of her own relation to these girls, particularly of what she should say
to Marcella. It was not likely that Carolyn would mention her knowledge
of Betty's decision.

But Betty was glad to put off the evil hour and when she met Kathryn as
she descended from the street car and walked up to the school entrance
with her, she knew that she was safe, though she saw Marcella in the
hall, gave her a smiling bow and saw Marcella thoughtfully regard her
and Kathryn. But the Kappa Upsilons were having quite a time with their
"pledges." It wasn't possible to invite all of any little group of
friends.

It must be said that Betty's thoughts outside of lessons that day were
more concerned with basketball than with sorority. Carolyn's ideas
started that line of thought. But Mathilde would work against her--oh
well, things would turn out as they would.

It was after school when Marcella Waite spoke again to Betty. "Just a
minute, Betty Lee. Are you rushing off to catch a car this time?"

"No, indeed. I've all the time in the world--not even anything of the G.
A. A. this afternoon."

"Then perhaps you can come along with me and some of the other girls and
have dinner down town. Lucia is going, and perhaps we can get Carolyn
and Peggy."

"I couldn't do that, Marcella, but thank you so much for asking me. I
have to go home."

"Oh, I could take you home to dress. The car is out here this time. But
I'll not urge you if you have other things on hand for tonight. I think
you know what I want to see you about. You said something sweet about
Kappa Upsilon yesterday, so I've been hoping that you would be quite
ready to say yes about joining us. What do you think?"

"Do you mean that you are asking me to join?"

"Just that."

"It is so good of you, Marcella. I did think about it for I thought that
you would scarcely have said that to me if you hadn't meant something of
the kind. And it would look so good to be in anything that you are in.
I've enjoyed knowing you so much!" Betty was sober and earnest, with her
eyes somewhat troubled as she looked straight at Marcella, standing
aside from the walk a little, away from the hurrying pupils.

"But when it comes to joining any high school sorority you know that
there are a lot of things to think about."

"Not so important as you think. It is just a lot of fun for the most
part."

"I know, and that part of it is lovely. But I decided this morning that
it wasn't best and if I _should_ be asked by any of them not to do it."

"That is final, then?" asked Marcella, more business-like than offended.

"Yes. It has to be, though I can't tell you how I appreciate it to be
chosen by the Kappa Upsilons."

"That is all right, Betty Lee. I'm sorry, though, and I think you'll
regret it--not that we'll do anything to make you regret it, you
understand."

"My, no! I can't imagine _your_ doing anything mean, Marcella."

"Thanks for your good opinion. By the way, my brother was home the other
day and asked what had become of the little girl that was Titania at my
Hallowe'en party."

"Did I meet him? Your brother?"

"Why, of course, but--that's so--perhaps you didn't know who he was. He
had to make a train and could not stay for the unmasking or the
refreshments, except to eat something back in the kitchen! He was the
'Pirate of Penzance.'"

"Oh!" exclaimed Betty, rather overwhelmed. She certainly did remember
the "Pirate of Penzance!" What a pity that she had not known before! No,
her decision would have been the same!

"Doesn't your brother live at home?" she asked.

"Oh yes; but he is at college in the East. He just happened to be at
home, unexpectedly, so I worked him in to help out and I thought he
looked splendid in that costume I got up for him."

"He surely did."

"It was a pity you shouldn't have seen him unmasked, though. He's quite
handsome at times, though I'm probably prejudiced."

"I don't think you should say that. Besides, it's a good thing to be
proud of your brothers and sisters."

"I have two brothers," said Marcella, "and this one is the younger one.
He's a sophomore this year. Well, Betty, I'm sorry. But don't feel
uncomfortable about it. I see that you do, and sororities don't like to
be turned down, either. But it isn't so bad if you have just decided
against high school sororities. I suppose your parents have had some
influence against them most likely--I must run!"

Marcella hurried away, to Betty's relief this time. She had meant to
make it easy for Betty, though, and Betty was grateful. Marcella was a
fine girl. And oh, the Pirate of Penzance, whose memories had some
glamour of romance, was her brother! How silly it had been of her not to
find that out before.

But Betty Lee, while not lacking in initiative, was timid about some
things. She had not wanted to seem curious or too much interested in any
boy. She had asked, indeed, if Carolyn knew who the Pirate of Penzance
could have been, but Carolyn had not known. Kathryn had joked her about
his choosing her for a partner, but Kathryn had wondered who he was, and
to ask Marcella was a thing Betty would not do.

So it happened that until this moment Betty had no least idea of whom
she had met in that dark "hole in the wall." So it was a pity that she
had not seen him unmasked? Very vividly that smiling face in the mirror,
lit only by the dim candle-light, kept Betty company in her thoughts on
the way home.

Evening was not quite so good a time for courage as morning. Betty
suffered the natural reaction from a decision which definitely cut off
any prospect of being in tempting sorority atmosphere, so heralded by
girls of some schools; and any secret society has fascinations of its
own.

She knew that she had been sensible, but she had no word from Carolyn
and felt a sinking at her heart when she thought that Carolyn,
influenced by Peggy's joining and the sweet urging of Marcella, had
probably gone into the Kappa Upsilon sorority. When she thought of
Mathilde, however, she had a different feeling. Imagine being intimate
with a girl like that! Mathilde was not only spoiled but rough at times,
physically, if not in language, in spite of all her airs and superior
assumptions. But Kappa Upsilons might not find that out.

It did make more of a difference than she thought it would about
Carolyn, but--oh well--it was done. She would probably do the same thing
if she still had to decide.

Her father asked her to play with Doris a simple melody arranged for the
violin, whose piano accompaniment Doris managed very nicely, Betty
thought; and with the violin tucked under her chin she felt comforted.
There were "lots of happy times" that had nothing to do with school or
sororities or being on teams or keeping on the honor roll--even!

But Doris, who, like the rest of the junior high girls, was interested
in Lyon High doings and heard plenty of gossip about sorority affairs
and the rushing recently done, asked Betty outright if she had been
asked to join any of the sororities.

Betty hesitated, as she looked through some sheet music and put
something new before Doris to try. "We don't talk about those things,
Doris," she said.

"Why not?"

"Just--because."

"You could tell at home, if you'd been asked and were going to join."

"If I were going to join," repeated Betty, soberly.

"What is this?" asked their father. "The high school students are not
allowed to have sororities, Doris."

"They have 'em just the same, Papa. I'm going to join one, that is if I
get asked."

"Indeed?" and Mr. Lee lifted his brows.

"You're not likely to be asked," said Betty, "if you're that frank about
wanting to get in."

Doris paid no attention to Betty's remark, but addressed her father.
"Oh, now, Papa, they get around it all right! I've heard all about it."

"How you know more than I did is a wonder, Doris," said Betty. "There
must be some one of your friends that knows the ins and outs."

"There is. She has a sister who is a senior."

"How about it, Betty?" asked Mr. Lee, interested. "Have you been
approached on the subject?"

"Yes, sir. I was asked to join a good one, nice girls anyhow, but I
decided not to go into any. I'll wait till I get into college, if I go,
and if anybody wants me."

Mr. Lee gave a nod of satisfaction and turned back to his book. "There
is a reason for there being no sororities in high schools," said he. "In
the smaller schools particularly it makes trouble."

But Doris was at once alive with interest. "_Tell_ me, Betty! Which
one?"

"Really, Dorry, I'd like to tell you; but it wouldn't be nice to do it
now. You might forget and say something about it. Will you be satisfied
if I say that I will tell you some time?"

"I suppose I'll have to be."

"Aw, she'd be saying, 'My sister was asked to join one of the
sororities!'" Dick's tone was as much like a girl's as a boy whose voice
was beginning to change could manage.

"I _will not_!" vehemently Doris asserted.

"That will do, children," said Mrs. Lee. "This is Betty's affair. She
probably feels uncomfortable enough to refuse an attractive invitation."

Mother knew, bless her! Perhaps she had been through the same thing.

Then there came a ring at the telephone and Betty flew. "Somebody's
calling up Betty!" said Doris, rather pettishly, though she did not
close her ears to Betty's side of the conversation.

"Oh, Carolyn!" said Betty, and then there was a silence on her part for
a little.

"You 'almost did?' Maybe you should have done it, Carolyn. Sure you'll
be happy over it?"

Another long silence on Betty's part.

"It is good of you to tell me all about it. Yes, Marcella is the
greatest attraction. I hope--what is that? Yes."

"Marcella Waite, Dick," said Doris in a low tone. "It's the Kappa
Upsilons! I knew it!"

"Doris," said Mrs. Lee, pleasantly but firmly, "whatever you may know or
guess, I trust your sense of what is fitting to keep your ideas to
yourself."

"All right, Mamma--but I can't help hearing what the other kids talk
about."

"The other children, you mean."

"Yes'm."

Mrs. Lee sighed, laying aside some mending for a magazine. This
school-grounds language! But perhaps, if they heard correct and cultured
speech at home it would do some good.



CHAPTER XV: CLASS CHAMPIONSHIP GAMES


School went on the next day much as usual. Betty met Marcella in the
hall and received a friendly smile, though Marcella was preoccupied. As
the next few weeks went by, Betty almost forgot how important the
sorority matter had seemed. They did not see as much of Peggy, that was
all. And it was probable that Carolyn and Betty did not confide such
intimate affairs to Peggy as before. It made a difference to feel things
might be passed on to others with whom Peggy was now intimate. The girls
wondered how she "stood" Mathilde, but Peggy never mentioned Mathilde.

The weeks sped on with the customary tests and the welcome Holiday
season. Betty did not see anything of her old friends, Janet and Sue,
who could not visit her at any time suggested. But they all went to the
farm on Christmas, for Grandma was well and longing for them to come
once more. There was plenty of snow there and hills for sledding. Dick
tried to make some skis, without remarkable success, but Doris and Betty
enjoyed trying them.

The spread of white, snow-covered fields, the freedom from the city's
noise and traffic and the great open fires of the old farmhouse were a
joy to everybody. But Mr. Lee made plans about how a furnace could be
put in for Grandmother, since she refused to leave the home place. That
should be done before another winter. The children had brought their
various reports to show Grandmother, who asked Betty, "Still on the
honor roll in spite of athletics?"

"Yes'm," said Betty, with an engaging smile. "You see, hikes and
swimming and practice games are in the nature of recreation. I go home
and rest and eat good meals and then I can get my lessons all right."

"Aw, Betty is just smart, Grandma," said Dick. "Couldn't all of them do
it." And Betty, surprised at this brotherly tribute, made Dick a
sweeping bow.

Betty was on the regular class basketball team now. There were about two
hundred girls who had "gone out" for basketball on the call for the
inter-class contest teams, though the contest would not start until
February. But the teams were organized before Christmas and Betty was
chosen captain. How that had happened she claimed not to know and was
really surprised, for she thought that one of the athletic teachers had
been influenced by Mathilde and did not like her.

But Betty had played good hockey and in basketball practice games she
was light, active, showed powers of leadership, and best of all, could
make baskets, an important ability in basketball, it would seem! In
consequence she found herself in command of the Sophomore Jumping-Jacks,
a name for which Betty was not responsible. But some one had watched
them and declared that several of the girls were "regular jumping-jacks"
when it came to lifting the ball to and through a basket. Some one who
overheard called them the Jumping-Jacks and the name stuck till the
girls considered it "cute" enough to be adopted. The "squad" was a large
one, with a number of girls who played nearly as well as those on what
was considered the "team." There were a few jealousies to be handled, as
Betty well knew. How she had made the position of captain she scarcely
knew yet. Carolyn told her that she was the "dark horse," as she said
her father called it in politics. "Sort of a compromise?" queried Betty,
who had not even sought to be captain and dreaded it.

"Yes. Everybody knew you weren't after it, and there was such a mess
this time, sorting out for the first and second team. So you're it. Now
see that we beat everybody. I'm only playing basketball on your account,
Betty."

"Don't you really like it?"

"Yes, but I don't enjoy a big contest. I'll do my best, though, to make
my part of the second team so good that I'll get called in to help out
the first squad."

"Good for you. If I have anything to say, you'll get a chance to play
with me!"

Kathryn was on the first team and a good player. She was as quick as
Betty and with her practiced on the floor to make long shots from
different angles. "It sometimes saves the day Betty," said Kathryn. "Do
you remember last year how Freddy Fisher had a chance to put the ball
through that basket from 'way across the floor! We certainly have missed
Freddy this year, haven't we? But Ted Dorrance is playing basketball and
he's good."

"Is that so? He wasn't on the football squad."

"No. His mother draws a line on football and said she'd take him out of
school, or send him away somewhere to school if he played. But he's
grand in basketball. Didn't you see that write-up of him in the _Roar_
last week?"

"I missed getting that number, Kathryn. Have you a copy?"

"Yes. I'll show it to you."

"What is his speciality?" asked Betty, thinking of the tall boy she
admired so much.

"Well, in the first game he made some under the basket shots that were
just in time to make the score. It beat the other team. It's a shame you
didn't see the account of the game. It's all in the paper."

"All I knew was that we beat," said Betty. "I didn't even see the
evening paper at home. That was the night I was studying for a test and
forgot everything else. It was my only chance, for we were doing things
all day Saturday."

"Ted has a new girl, Betty, they say."

"Really--who?"

"Oh, one of the junior girls that he is taking all around to the parties
and everything. He had her out here at the school for the minstrel show
the other night. That was real funny. Did you go?"

"No. I can't go to everything and I just _have_ to go to the musical
things. Mother and I went to the Symphony Concert the last time."

"It's funny Chet didn't ask you. He's been hanging around so much of
late, Betty." Kathryn gave Betty a roguish glance as she decided that
they had practiced enough and sat down to change her shoes, donning the
ones fit for the street. Betty, too, took off her gym shoes for the same
purpose. The gym was almost empty now, for it was after school hours.

"Oh, Mother wouldn't let me go out at night with the boys yet," answered
Betty. "It's all right for parties and picnics and things like that, it
seems, but not for shows and things. Mothers are funny; but I have a
very nice one and I suppose she knows why she lets me do some things and
says no about others."

"My mother says that she hasn't the least idea what to do with me about
anything in 'these days,' but she hopes to take care of me, if she has
my 'co-operation.'"

Betty laughed at this. "Our poor mothers! Well, I rather guess it's up
to us to co-operate then. Why, if you won't tell, Chet did ask me and I
couldn't go with him, but he wasn't mad at all. Mother just told me to
put the blame on her, so I did, explaining, you know. Then I felt as I
told you about choosing the things I can go to myself."

"Chet is a pretty good sort of a boy, of course. Chauncey said the other
day he thought he'd cut him out with you, Betty, and I told him to go
and do it." Kathryn slipped a foot into a shoe and stood up laughing.
"I'd like you real well as a sister, though I didn't go so far as to say
that to Chauncey."

"I should _hope not_!" said Betty, with emphasis. "It's none of it as
serious as all that, Kathryn, but I don't mind being liked and being
invited, do you?"

"What girl does? But I don't want a real 'case' yet."

"Mercy, no! And Mother says I mustn't accept invitations from boys that
I don't know anything about, no matter how nice they seem here. There
are some drawbacks to numbers after all."

"Yes, but you can usually tell about boys and girls, too, and it's easy
enough to find out about them. Dad says that he is a 'social democrat,'
but I notice that he is terribly particular about my company."

"We have such a lot of things going on at school that it is easy enough
to make friends and be with boys and girls you like without bothering
about dates any more important than meeting your 'boy friend,' as Dick
calls it, at the picnic or at the ball game. Carolyn's parties are
always such fun. I want to have one the spring vacation, though that
seems a long way off, doesn't it!"

"I'm having one in two weeks, on Friday night, Betty, so save that date,
please. I'll have a time getting ready for it during school, so please
come early and help me, will you?"

"Of course I will. It will be fun. What do you want me to do?"

"I'll tell you in plenty of time. I want it a _real_ party and I'm going
to invite Lucia, of course, so it must make a good impression on our
lady from the Italian nobility."

"Lucia won't be critical, Kathryn. She said that she liked you. You were
'so sincere.'"

"Did she? I like Lucia, too, though some things made me a little tired
at first."

"Just think of the handicap, Kathryn, of not being born an American!"
Betty was grinning, but she really felt that Lucia had not had a fair
chance to be like a girl who was born in the "land of the free." This
was a phase that had crept out with Lucia a time or two in her contact
with other girls and had amused that daughter of the Caesars as much as
a few of her ways amused the American girls. But they were meeting on
common ground in the school room and in the case of the few girls of
whom Lucia was becoming fond, friendly adjustments were easy to make.

The matter of being acquainted with boys was natural enough in a large
high school, and a large residence district as good as that from which
Lyon High drew most of its attendance supplied children of some of the
city's best citizens. It was not very likely that boys attracted to
Betty and Kathryn would not have a good background, to say the least.
Many of them they had known all through their freshman year. What Betty
did not know was that Chet Dorrance was at present going out of his way
just to pass Betty in the hall, whether he had an opportunity to speak
to her or not. In a class or two in which both recited, he never stared
directly at her, but one corner of his eye knew where Betty was and what
she was doing. It was his first attack and very acute, Ted would have
said. Chet, however, was good at concealing his feelings and would not
have had the boys guess how much he liked Betty. Of course, they teased
him a little for "hanging around," but Chet, with apparent candor, said
that he liked "that bunch of girls" and didn't care who knew it. "You
have to have a little social life," said he. "It's a poor sophomore that
can't take a girl out once in a while."

If it had been Ted, Chet's brother, now, Betty might have been thrilled
a little at the frequent meetings and all the excuses that Chet made to
speak to her about this or that. But Betty was demurely responsive, or
pleasant, interested in what Chet had to say, but not including him in
any of her dreams. Chet wasn't the Prince Charming by any means. Yet
Chet would be that to some one, doubtless, one of these days.

The names of the basketball squads were posted, that of the freshmen
having more extras than those of the other classes. The sophomores now
had only a few more than the two "teams." Betty found that she was a
good deal more excited over the coming contests than she had expected to
be, since so much responsibility for whipping the sophomore team into
shape rested upon her.

Dates of games to be played in the girls' gym were also posted, another
spur to excellence. Kathryn postponed her party because of the necessity
for strenuous practice, but said that she would have one to celebrate,
when the sophomores "beat the championship game." Betty told her that
too much confidence was a "hoo-doo," but Kathryn told her that
determination to beat was "one of the greatest assets" a team could
have.

Betty, Kathryn and Carolyn had a front seat at the first game of the
contest, played between the seniors and freshmen. It would have been
hard to say which were the more excited, the busy players or the rooters
who were girls expecting to meet the two classes they were watching, in
a future game.

"Watch that freshman guarding, Betty. She's rough. We'll look out for
her and see that nothing is done that isn't seen! Say--that was a good
play! Did you _see that_?"

Betty was watching too closely to say a word. If she could get the
tactics, provided there were any special ones, or the important
characteristics of the senior girls, it would help, she thought. She
early dismissed the freshmen as opponents. They were playing a good game
in the main, but not a winning game. They needed practice and more
"team-work."

This game was on a Tuesday afternoon, after school. The next day the
seniors were to play against the juniors, and the girls of all the
teams, as far as possible, were urged by their captains to be present.
The score of seniors versus freshmen was only eleven to six and the
freshmen were jubilant over having kept the seniors from scoring as
heavily as they had expected. But Betty saw that senior mistakes would
be corrected. She still thought that her greatest effort would be in the
game against the seniors. Still, some had said that the juniors were
playing excellent games.

On Wednesday the gym was again full of interested girls who gave their
class cheers and cheered for the enemy. The sophomores rooted chiefly
for the seniors, but to their great surprise, the juniors won! "Well!"
cried Betty. "I'm not a prophet, and that is that!"

"I'm glad we don't meet the juniors or seniors first," said Lucia
Coletti, who sat next to Betty this time. Lucia was not playing
basketball, but she was interested sufficiently to identify herself with
her class and attend the games.

"Tomorrow we play against the freshmen, don't we?" she asked.

"Yes, and what did Miss Orme do but give us a test, a last hour test,
mind you, just before the game. I told her, but she looked at me in
perfect disgust. 'Do you think we should dismiss school on account of
the games?' she asked." Betty sighed.

"Oh, well, you'll be less excited for something else to think about.
Perhaps it will not be hard."

"And perhaps it will, Lucia. Be glad you aren't in her class. But that
is a good idea about thinking of something else. I'm gone if I worry.
And I've been getting that work so far. I'll just take it all as sport.
But I do want my team to play well."

"They'll beat the freshmen, I think, though those freshmen aren't to be
despised."

"Indeed they aren't."

Betty was pretty well keyed up before her first game of the class
competition, but Betty never lost her self-control. She set her lips and
went through the rather difficult written test as well as she could. The
air grew close, and it was with a thrill of actually joyous expectation
that Betty hurried to the gym as the time approached, and joked with the
freshman captain whom she met on the way. She could breathe in the gym!

"We're going to 'lick' the sophomores," jovially the freshman captain
informed her.

"Don't be too sure. We're out to win," cheerily answered Betty. She
gathered her girls together and told them of some points she had noted
about the freshman playing and they entered the game with confidence,
though warned not to be too sure. The "rough" freshman was taken out
after some too apparent fouls due to her performances, and the final
score was eighteen to three in favor of the sophomores. They had won
their first game at least, Betty said. "Now send up the score, girls, as
high as you can with every game. No telling what we can do if we try!"

The inter-class games continued, with some intervals due to other
important school events, for three weeks. Classes were given more than
one opportunity to better their score against other classes. But finally
it narrowed down to a contest between the juniors and sophomores, Betty
finding the sophomore record making her "famous," as Kathryn said.
Senior luck held part of the time only, but that class never had done as
well in basketball as in other things, Carolyn told Betty.

The championship game was to be played in the boys' gym, which was
larger, and the boys were allowed to attend. Betty, her cheeks pink from
excitement, saw that her mother with Amy Lou had a good seat. "Look out,
Amy Lou, and don't get hit with the ball!" and Betty left them to
disappear into the regions of the girls' gym, where the teams were
getting ready.

Dick and Doris were there and all the girls of the G. A. A. who could
come, to say nothing of various boys, particularly those of the
sophomore and junior classes. "Forget the crowd, girls, and whether your
nose gets shiny or not," advised Betty. "You're a graceful lot anyhow
and usually succeed in avoiding a terrible scramble. But remember that
we _have to beat_ those juniors!"

Betty was distrustful of Mathilde, who had gotten on the first team by
no wish of hers. She would be playing against Marcella and the other
juniors of Kappa Upsilon and Betty thought, though she could not be
sure, that she surprised a message between Mathilde and one of the
junior players at the other game they played with that class. Mathilde's
play had been a failure. Could it have been that she _wanted_ to give
the game to the junior captain, her sorority sister?

Betty told her worries to no one but Kathryn. She did not want to worry
Carolyn, who could not imagine that any one would be as mean as that and
was too unsuspicious to see anything but the most flagrant acts. "I'll
keep an eye out, Betty," said Kathryn. "Mathilde doesn't care for the
sophomores or anything but that old sorority, and she doesn't like your
being captain, though I hate to tell you that."

"Don't worry. I know it. We'll just keep awake and I'm glad to say that
it's Miss Fox who's keeping an eye out this time, besides the referee.
But it's going to be a fast game and no telling what may happen."

First with applause, then with silence, the little audience in the gym
greeted the two teams as they came out, without the preliminary stunts
that sometimes marked school affairs, and started right in. Amy Louise
stood straight up when she saw for the first time the big ball, tossed
from one to another, going across the floor, in the hands of Betty's
girls, to be popped into the proper basket. That was after the
"tip-off," as a freshman girl told Mrs. Lee. She knew few of the correct
expressions, but enough to indicate results. "The point is to put the
ball through their own basket, Mrs. Lee and they 'make the goal' and
'score.'"

But there was little opportunity to explain. As had been predicted, the
game was a fast one. The sophomores had the advantage at the first and
scored several times. Then the juniors succeeded in keeping the
sophomores from scoring, put up a clever defense of their own, carried
the ball with bewildering speed from one to another and passed the score
of the sophomores with their own. The sophomores came back with a series
of successful plays after disaster temporarily visited the juniors; and
Kathryn covered herself with glory by making the long shot, for which
she had been practicing, and saved the day in a bad situation which had
occurred. Advantage now on this side and now on that, the first two
quarters ended with an equal score.

"If we can do that, Betty," whispered Kathryn, "we stand a good chance
to beat."

But Betty was too engrossed to heed. Miss Fox was talking to Mathilde,
who was answering loudly. The referee was called to the conference. Then
Miss Fox came to Betty, who was watching. "I--we--are taking Mathilde
out, Betty. She is not guilty of any foul, but we think that she
purposely lost an advantage. I'm not going to risk it. Put in Mary Emma
Howland for the rest of the game. If the juniors beat us they want to do
it fairly."

Mary Emma was only too glad to play. The other girls wondered a little,
but the game was too engrossing, when again they were in the midst of
it, to care who was playing. Betty gave Mary Emma a few instructions,
but Mary Emma was one of the best on the second team and had been hoping
for a chance to play the Championship game. Mathilde was very angry, as
Betty could see. She came up to Betty and said, "You put Foxy up to
that, I know!"

"I didn't even see what you did, or didn't do, Mathilde," replied Betty,
but she turned away. It would not do to get into a discussion now.

Again the contest waxed hard and fast, each side to put the ball through
their own basket, each side to keep the other from doing the like. It
took quick thinking and quick action and keeping the rules. Betty had an
opportunity at showing what she could do in scoring, getting away from
her guard and making two beautiful "shots" from unfavorable angles. The
juniors felt that it would be a disgrace to let the sophomores beat the
contest and began to grow excited. Betty never was more cool within,
though physically she was warm from the action. It wouldn't be so
terrible to be beaten by juniors--but oh, how good to beat them--even
Marcella, who was playing a good game.

But personal relations were forgotten on the floor. Marcella was kept
from sending the ball through the junior basket and Mary Emma starred as
guard in that occasion. The quarters,--the halves--passed, and the
pistol shot rang out for the close of the game with the score even.

No one was satisfied, of course, but many were the compliments for the
playing of both teams. Few fouls, clean playing, fast playing, enough
baskets, the comments declared. "It's so stupid when nobody can score,"
said one. "These girls managed to do it some way in spite of good
interference."

Twenty-five to twenty-five the score stood, said Marcella caught up with
Betty as they went back to the girls' gym to change costumes again. "The
_idea_ that you beat us, Betty," said Marcella with a smile. "I just
declared that you never would!"

"Why, we didn't beat you!" cried Betty.

"You might as well. We couldn't beat _you_, anyhow, which was terrible!
I think we were a little better in our guarding, but you overcame that
disadvantage by those long shots that we did not dream you could make.
You and Kathryn are stars, Betty. I'm sorry we did not get you in Kappa
Upsilon. What was the trouble with Mathilde, Betty?"

"I don't know, Marcella. You'll have to ask Miss Fox or the referee. I
didn't see anything."

"I imagine you have an idea, though," said Marcella. "Well all hail to
the Jingery Jumping Jacks! The Lucky Leapers are forced to give them
credit, though we don't want to do it."

"Aren't you a great jollier, Marcella Waite! I'm glad it's over, but I'd
rather somebody would beat. Still, there are things to be said in favor
of a tie, provided a body couldn't win the championship outright. Oh, do
you suppose they'll make us play another game?"

"Let _us_ have another chance, you mean," winked Marcella. "No, the big
excitement is over and they'll not do it, though I'd love to."

"The sophomore team will be ready," said Betty, "though just now I'm for
a good dip in the pool and a square meal at home!"

"Sensible idea. You make me hungry at the thought. Oh, Mathilde! Wait!"

Betty watched Marcella follow Mathilde, who neither turned around nor
waited, but hurried into the other gym.



CHAPTER XVI: A PARTY AND A REAL "DATE"


It was early in March when the inter-class basketball contests ended
with the championship game that resulted in a tie. Kathryn's party was
given on a Friday night, when a western blizzard had occurred and the
rest of the country was surprised by a heavy snow. Memories of the
bob-sleds at the Dorrance home during their freshman year came back to
more than Betty Lee of the "old crowd." Chet Dorrance had the best of
excuses to make arrangements with Betty for a snow date, as he called
it, and she promised to go with him and the rest on the next day after
school. "Make it a regular date, Betty," said he, "for we'll have
something doing whenever we have enough snow."

Betty was delighted with the snow, but made no "long distance"
engagements. There had not been "a decent snow all winter," everybody
claimed, and great was the enthusiasm. Great drifts edged the walks at
Kathryn's and Betty came early to help, as she had promised. She,
Chauncey and Kathryn had a brilliant idea and made a big snow man on the
front porch, where he would be well lit up by the porch light at the
arrival of the company. "We'll have to have something or other
outdoors," declared Chauncey, who went around behind the house to
reconnoiter. Kathryn and Betty, who were flying around inside, tried to
think as they filled pretty little dishes with bonbons and finished the
decorations.

"It's Chauncey's birthday," said Kathryn, "but he wouldn't let me tell a
soul. I don't think the other boys know. They surely would wash his face
for him in the snow if they did!"

"I'll not betray him," laughed Betty. "But why not have a snow fight?
Listen, Gypsy. Those high piles of snow along the walk you know, why not
use them and make a fort or two?"

Chauncey came in with the same idea, except that he thought the best
place was in the back where snow had drifted in certain hollows. "It'll
spoil everybody's good clothes, though," said he. "Do you suppose the
girls will come in those thin things they wear?"

"Not tonight, Chauncey, because I told some of them that we'd probably
do something outdoors, and the rest will have a pretty good suspicion
that we will."

Kathryn's party included some of the older boys and girls to whom she
was indebted. Lucia, as the stranger in their midst and a good friend,
was invited. Marcella and Peggy were the only other representatives of
the Kappa Upsilons. Ted Dorrance was there and the junior girl to whom
he was supposed to have transferred his affections since Louise Madison
began to have social relations with the University men.

"Hello, Betty Lee," said he. "I haven't seen you except at a distance
for some time. Congratulations for not letting the junior team beat you
in basketball. Those girls ought to feel crushed."

"But don't," added Betty. "Congratulations yourself on your own
basketball record. I was so surprised when I heard you were on the team.
I haven't missed a game that was played here if I could help it. You've
become a star."

"According to the _Lyon's Roar_," answered Ted, in derision. "They're
hard up for somebody to write up as a star if they have to take me!"

"Your modesty is very becoming," demurely remarked Betty, as an older
girl might have done, and Ted looked again. This was a cute girl, this
little sophomore. He remembered her coming to Lyon High for the first
last year. Chet had her in his crowd. How would it do to take her
somewhere some time?

In consequence of these impulsive thoughts, in the course of the
evening's fun Betty found Ted Dorrance beside her several times and once
he asked her if she "had a date" for the next Symphony Concert.

"Why, no, though Mother and I go to some of them," said Betty, not
dreaming that Ted meant to ask her. But she was mortified at the thought
of what she considered her "dumbness," when he asked her to go with him
on that coming Saturday night.

"Oh!" she said. "Why--Mother never lets me go to anything down in the
city with anybody; but I think she would let me go with you."

"I hope she will," smiled Ted. "Let me know, Betty."

"I will tomorrow," said Betty, feeling uncomfortable, as girls do, for
fear the boys will think them too childish. But Betty had confidence in
her mother and she knew well that the ban would be off when she grew
older. Oh, how _wonderful_ to be going somewhere with Ted Dorrance! She
looked so happy, though full of fun, as she helped Kathryn serve, that
more than one boy looked her way and thought that Betty Lee was a
"pretty girl." Then they all put on wraps and as a final spurt of fun
went out for a battle of _soft_ snowballs, by the girls' direction. No
fort was made, for it was too late when the indoor fun was finished, but
great plans were made for the following afternoon and evening, to take
advantage of the winter's one great opportunity.

And the snow man remained, to melt in a day or two into a messy heap on
the porch; and an early robin cocked his head at the sight, as he
stopped for the crumbs from the cake Kathryn had stuffed in the gaping
mouth of the snow man. "Let's give him a cooky," Kathryn had said, as
she and Betty laughed at Chauncey's last artistic efforts.

Indeed, the birds were arriving all through March and April. It was
baseball now, not basketball, though Betty did not play. She was devoted
to the swimming in particular and was getting ready to take part in the
events of a girls' high school swimming meet, in which the swimmers from
the different high schools would compete for excellence and points.

"No," she said to Miss Fox. "Hockey and basketball were enough. I'm out
for swimming, and that is all I can do, Miss Fox, if I get my lessons.
Oh, of course hikes and all the points I can make when I'm not needed at
home."

"I like to hear you say that, Betty. Too many girls don't want to help
at all at home."

"I don't do enough," Betty replied--"but I have a dear family and we go
out together in the machine a lot."

Going out with Ted was a great event, for Mrs. Lee said that she might,
"though this is not to be taken as a regular break in our ideas,"
Betty's mother was careful to add.

"I don't care, Mother," said Betty, "only I wish I didn't have to say
that my mother doesn't like to have me do it."

"You can make your own excuses, Betty."

"Of course. But if the boys think you don't want to go with them it
makes them mad and you won't get asked again."

"And that would be terrible," laughed her mother, who had little fear
but that Betty would have enough "dates" to keep her happy.

"Yes, it would," Betty answered, but a little smile crept about her
lips.

"How would it do just to say that you are allowed very few engagements,
especially at night?"

"I might work out something else. You should have seen--or heard--how
_dumb_ it sounded, what I said to Ted!"

"There he is, my daughter," said Mrs. Lee as the bell rang. Betty looked
in the glass, patted a refractory lock, and walked sedately through the
hall and into the front room, where Ted, all correct, in a new top-coat,
and carrying hat and gloves, waited, having been admitted by Dick.

Ted rose and shook hands, as Betty entered, but said that he was late
and that if she would put on her wraps he "thought they'd better start."
Mrs. Lee came in then and Betty ran back for her wraps, thankful that
they were new, this year, and that her gloves were everything that could
be desired. She had worn her prettiest dress and hoped that Ted, who was
accustomed to taking out girls, would find nothing lacking in her
_ensemble_.

"Betty's beginning rather young," said Mr. Lee thoughtfully, coming in
from the garage where he had been putting in his car. "That is a good
car young Dorrance is driving. Do you suppose it is his own?"

"Very likely, though I do not know, either."

"There were some others, so I imagine it is a 'theatre party.'"

"All the better--but I'd like to keep Betty from all that till she is
older. I shall, too. She is obedient and sensible. We shall have this
the exception rather than the rule."

"I'm glad to leave it to you, Mother," replied Mr. Lee.

"I'll warrant," laughed his wife.

Betty need not have worried about Ted's superior knowledge of the ways
of society. He was only a high school boy after all, and though Mrs.
Dorrance had been left a widow with plenty of means, she was a woman of
culture and of a certain both practical and realistic sense when it came
to social affairs. Real things that mattered and not foolish forms of
convention governed her and provided for her boys a certain freedom,
while asking of them the ordinary courtesies and consideration of
gentlemen.

Another senior boy and a senior girl were in the car, Betty found, and
she was glad to settle beside the senior girl in the back seat while Ted
and his old friend Harry sat in front.

The "theatre party" was a very modest one, for Betty was not led to a
box. But they had good seats, well in front in the balcony, and Betty
enjoyed all the little attentions that Ted knew so well how to give,
though as a matter of course.

The playing of the orchestra happened to be just what Betty liked best,
not so much of the musical fireworks, but the lovelier selections from
the classics. Even Ted was forgotten during one number till as she
leaned back with a little sigh after it was over he said, "You liked
that as much as I did, didn't you? Do you do much with your violin now?"

"Scarcely a bit," she whispered, "but I love to hear it. How did you
know I played?"

"A little bird told me," said Ted.



CHAPTER XVII: "JUST LIKE A FISH"


"Look at Betty!" cried Kathryn, who was not taking part in the swimming
meet, but was a part of the audience. "Isn't she graceful? What a dive!
Betty's a regular fish for the water!"

"She went into the water like a bird _catching_ a fish," replied
Carolyn, who had memories of a northern lake in summer.

"Yes; but she says she likes the water and feels at home in it. She is a
natural swimmer, I suppose, if there is such a thing."

The seats around the pool were full of spectators, some mothers as well
as girls from the different high schools concerned in the meet. Others
leaned forward, all interest, from the balcony above, among them Mrs.
Lee and Amy Lou. Betty had located her mother before the meet proper
began and welcomed her with a smiling salute from a distance. To Amy
Lou, who waved wildly at her older sister, she gave a separate salute,
and blew her a kiss. Betty looked happy and unworried, a trim little
figure in her tight, dark blue bathing suit.

A group of sophomore girls were equipped with Lyon High banners and sat
together on one side of the pool, ready to root for their own school and
their own class swimmers as well. When Betty came out for the diving
events, they cheered for her. Amy Lou was frightened and squealed out a
little when Betty made a "back" dive that was greeted with general
applause. Mrs. Lee held her breath for a minute, afraid that Betty would
hit the diving board and gave a sigh of relief when that did not happen.

Carolyn, who sat beside Mrs. Lee, turned to her enthusiastically to say,
"Wasn't that _splendid_? Betty is getting better and better!"

"I hope she won't do that again, though," said Betty's mother.

"Oh, that's perfectly safe for Betty, Mrs. Lee. They wouldn't let her
try it if she weren't used to it and Betty can just do almost anything.
Besides, it isn't as close to the board when she does it as it looks. If
you were right up at that end you'd see."

"I see. I have heard Betty talk about all this so much, but I must say
that all the remarks about this and that sort of a stroke and the
different kinds of diving have rather gone over my head. I've not been
able to get to the little meets the girls have had. This is delightful,
the big pool and all the excitement. No wonder the girls like it, but
Betty did not seem to be excited over it or care about taking first
place. I wonder why?"

"Betty's pretty level-headed," laughed Carolyn. "She's getting ready to
do big things in her next two years, you see, big things for the G. A.
A. So she isn't going to get all worked up now. I shouldn't wonder if
she did get the best record for the diving, though. Those other girls
weren't half so good on that event, though that senior girl from North
High is a wonder in swimming. Wait till those speed tests--or
events--come off and watch her. Without her cap Betty'd be a goldfish,
Kathryn!"

Mrs. Lee consulted her program. It was a help to see everything down, in
black and white. Here was a certain sort of a stroke, and she could see
it being done. "Amy Lou," said she, "watch how they do it. Some day you
will be doing that perhaps."

"Oh, yes," soberly said Amy Lou, watching the next group of contestants
come in from out behind the curtains and stand in readiness. "I'm going
to be a G. A. A."

"The whole association, Amy Lou?" asked Kathryn, who liked to tease a
little.

Amy Lou smiled a little. She didn't mind Kathryn, who was always
remembering her in some little way. "Yes," said she. "I can swim now a
little, up at Grandma's, can't I Mamma?"

"Yes, dear--but watch and keep still. The girls are going to start."

Amy Lou had stopped jumping at the pistol shot and now leaned over with
the rest, though she had to stand up to do it, to see the slim young
bodies cleave the clear water of the pool, swim the length of it, turn,
pushing their toes against the concrete wall of the pool and start for
the other end.

The diving included "front, back and running," the program said. Then
there were a "twenty-yard back stroke for speed, a twenty-yard side
stroke for speed and a twenty-yard free style for speed," and Carolyn
explained that "free style" meant "do it any way you want to--just get
there!"

"Will Betty try to win on speed?" asked Mrs. Lee.

"I doubt it. Betty's working on trying to do everything just right, and
grace and ease in the water, and keeping your head, I guess, from what I
hear her say. You see, you have to do your breathing a certain way,
though that doesn't seem to be any trouble to Betty."

"It looks painful to me," said Mrs. Lee.

"Watch Betty and you won't think so."

"They turn sideways and swallow the air, don't they?" said Amy Lou.

"Just about," laughed Carolyn. "Here comes Betty again, Amy Lou."

Amy Lou joined in the Lyon High yell this time, to the great amusement
of Carolyn and Betty, but they did not let the child see their smiles
and Mrs. Lee did not make any objection. What was Amy Lou's small voice
in the general uproar?

No one girl was permitted to take part in any large number of events,
thought there had not been this time too great a number of contestants
who wanted to enter for the meet.

Betty was not tired and after the first diving event did not feel
excited. There were only a few more people looking on, and the cheers
were a part of it all. This was noted as "Push off and coast across pool
for speed" and to Betty's surprise she was first across the pool. Later
there was a "relay" event, in which Betty did well, her best, but was
not first. That ended her part in the meet and she was satisfied. She
took her shower and dressed without watching the rest, though Carolyn
exclaimed afterward when she found that Betty had "missed the rest," and
at an inter-school contest.

"Well," said Betty, "why sit around in a wet bathing suit? I knew I
could get dressed in time to hear the final results announced. Of
course, I was crazy for Lyon High to win the meet, but even with my
blanket around me I was a little chilly and I'd promised Mother that I'd
not take an unnecessary risks of cold. I did hate to miss one event, but
I'd seen such a lot of swimming."

Yet Betty had won some points for her school and she was, indeed, back
where she could hear the announcement after the final event and to join
in the wild cheering of feminine voices which marked the announcement
that Lyon High had won the meet by a narrow margin. It was well that it
was so, for there had been some good swimming done by all the schools.

"Going to take the life-saving tests, Betty?" asked Lucia Coletti, who
chanced to be by Betty as the crowd left the pool and the building.

"No, not now, Lucia. Next year is time enough. I _might_ get ready for
it, but I'm just learning a lot of things and trying the endurance
stunts a little. Perhaps I'll swim across to Italy one of these days."

Lucia laughed. "That's what I'd like to do right now, though I prefer
going on a steamer. I'm homesick to see my father," she added.

"Will you be going over this summer?" queried Betty, though casually,
for Betty was not one to be curious.

"No. Mother says not," replied Lucia, and Betty did not ask whether or
not the count would come to America. There was some trouble there, Betty
supposed. It did not always work when an American girl married a
foreigner. But how dreadful for Lucia who loved both parents, of course,
if you were separated! Why didn't people think about their children a
little instead of themselves?

"Betty," said Lucia, "Mother is going to entertain for me this spring
and you are the first one I want to invite. I haven't had you over at
all."

"But I haven't had you either," said Betty. "We just couldn't manage
parties some way this year with all that has been going on at school and
Mother so busy and Father working so hard, too. You were the stranger to
be invited."

Lucia slipped her hand inside of Betty's bent arm and patted it. "But I
know perfectly well that it was Mother's place to show some attention to
your father and mother. But Mother has been considerably upset--about
some of our affairs. She's been in the social columns of the papers all
right, but she's not done any of the entertaining herself."

It was rather an odd place for any confidences, Betty thought, but Lucia
was likely to say things when she wanted to do it. No one could hear,
however, as they went out of the open doors and ran down the steps
together. Lucia nodded good night and then went to where the Murchison
car waited for her.

Betty waited a few moments for her mother and Amy Lou to join her, but
they took the street car home, sleepy as Amy Lou was by this time. For
Dick and Doris, to their great disappointment, were showing signs of
sore throat and measles was making a few absences at the junior high
school. Mrs. Lee was hopeful that the sore throats were only the results
of an early hike that the twins had taken together; and she had been
sent off to the meet by her husband with the announcement that he was
quite able to act as nurse and see that they took their medicine.

Fortunately the measles did not materialize, but Doris had missed seeing
the meet and Dick had missed something else. Both missed school for a
few days, which loss had its compensations.

It was true that neither Betty nor her mother had known just what to do
about paying any attention to the countess. The countess had not met her
mother and had not said anything to her father about liking to have his
wife call. The Countess Coletti had, of course, many friends of former
days among the wealthy members of what was called society in the city.
For this group Mrs. Lee had neither means, time nor any real interest,
though no one was more likely to have friends. It was easy to make them,
in the church, or in the other relations which living naturally brought
about.

"We belong to a different 'aristocracy,' Betty," said Mrs. Lee. "We,
too, can have a certain influence in the community, a good one, I hope,
and a little circle of pleasant friends. One is always running across
kindred spirits."

"Carolyn and Kathryn are my chief ones," laughed Betty.

These remarks were made on the way home from the meet, when in a seat
together, Amy Lou half asleep on their laps, they discussed what Lucia
had said.

"Of course you will not repeat to any of the girls Lucia's reference to
the countess and her being 'upset' about some of her affairs. It is
important to your father that nothing we do is a mistake in reference to
that family. We have made no mistake in waiting for them to take the
initiative. It was a little odd for Lucia to be so frank, but she has
her worries, too, no doubt, and felt that she could trust you as a
confidante."

"She can," replied Betty. "I wonder what sort of a party it will be? All
the sorority will be there, of course, and probably ever so many girls
that I do not know. Lucia has some friends in the private schools, but
she likes Lyon High now and wouldn't leave it for any other school. You
should have heard her tell me about how some of the girls tried to get
her away. 'No, no, no,' she said, in that rapid Italian way she has, 'I
like this big school and everything they do. I've been in a private
school. I shall have my high school diploma to show my father!' I
imagine the count, then, doesn't object so much to Lucia's going to
school over here."

"His troubles are in another line, I presume."

"Well, whatever their troubles are, I'm glad Lucia came. She's _very_
interesting." So declared Betty.



CHAPTER XVIII: THE COUNTESS ENTERTAINS


Spring affairs came on with their hikes, their different activities,
their work and their fun, till Betty almost forgot what Lucia had said
to her, in the interest of other things. She saw very little of Lucia
now, for the sorority seemed to take up Lucia's time, so far as her
associations were concerned.

Betty was working hard on her studies. She had passed her mid-years with
credit and now she was keeping up the standard for the second semester.
It was not so hard as the freshman year's work, yet there were more
distractions as she increasingly took part in the school's activities.

However, there was no basketball. She made progress in swimming, took a
little part in other athletic affairs, earned points and hoped that she
would win "something or other" on honor night, that last function and
climax of the G. A. A. The girls had wanted her to play baseball, but
she "said them nay" as she stated at home. And in her free time she took
up serious practice upon her violin, as well as regular lessons again.
Saturdays she saved for picnics and hikes, except a few hours devoted to
study. Mrs. Lee had a little maid come in now to help at home, though
Doris and Betty still had very light tasks, chiefly in looking after
their own room and keeping things in order. School was exacting and the
girls needed their time if they stood well in their studies, Mrs. Lee
said.

There was some discussion between the parents as to whether it was not
outside affairs that took the girls' time and strength, but inasmuch as
more of it was in the line of healthful activity than of late parties,
the decision was to let the girls, particularly Betty, just now, "have
their chance" and their good times. The little maid needed the work,
moreover, and it gave Mrs. Lee the freedom she needed to leave Amy Lou
and get away from cares.

Betty was "crazy" to get into the junior orchestra another year. Ted,
who had been somewhat of an attraction, to be sure, would not be in the
senior orchestra, but Betty liked the idea, with or without any
interesting boy. He had not invited Betty to accompany him again to any
school or city entertainment, but he had asked her to a picnic with a
few chosen friends and she had had a wonderful time, she reported to the
girls. However, Ted said that Chet and some of the other boys had said
"Hands off" about Betty Lee. So Ted put it, and while he reported it
jokingly, Betty had an idea that it would make a difference. Well, it
was better than being invited and dropped without a reason, and no boy
should think that she wanted his attentions! And of course Ted was very
much interested in this other girl. They both would be in the University
next year.

Betty felt more grown up when she was with an older boy like Ted and
enjoyed the feeling. The junior girls and some of the senior girls knew
Betty and were quite inclined to be chummy, at least when thrown with
Betty at any gathering.

The sophomores had a picnic, to which Chet invited Betty and one of the
girls whom Betty did not know so well, remarked: "Well, the Dorrance
boys keep you in the family, don't they?"

"Oh, no," lightly answered Betty, who did not like the remark, but did
not know how to answer it. Betty did not like to resent what was
probably not meant to be annoying. From certain indications she was
pretty sure that Chet _had_ resented Ted's taking her out and that Ted
had promised Chet not to interfere.

So the time flew, till in the lovely Maytime Mrs. Lee was invited by the
Countess Coletti to an afternoon tea at the Murchison home, and Betty
was reminded of Lucia's remarks. The countess was "being nice to Mother"
now, and Mrs. Lee reported a large gathering of charming ladies, some of
them not so attractive or cultured, but many of them simple and
interesting with the results of many opportunities for travel and
reading, study and pleasure. "The countess herself is very delightful as
a hostess, Betty," said Mrs. Lee. "I feel sure that if she entertains
for Lucia it will be a gathering planned in every detail."

The series of teas and other entertainment at the Murchison home was
followed "at last" by the arrival of invitations for Lucia's friends,
invitations with a "crest!" For the _Countess Coletti_ was entertaining
for her daughter.

"Oh, dear, why aren't I Lucia's friend and a little older?" sighed
Doris, whimsically, examining the pretty invitation. "I'd always keep
this, Betty, but if you don't care for it, let me have it."

"You can borrow it any time you want it, but it has to go among the
archives, Dorry. I'm sorry you can't go; but it's very likely, if we
stay here and Father is in the same business, that you can go there some
time."

"But that isn't now," said Doris, strictly adhering to fact.

Betty wondered whether it was a girls' party or whether the boys would
be invited, but as she saw several invitations displayed among the boys
at school, her unuttered question was answered. It seemed to be taken
for granted that the countess did not expect the young gentlemen to
bring the young ladies, though Chet said, "see you at the party, Betty.
I hope I'm your partner at supper." Budd Leroy, also, who had shown
recent signs of being interested in Betty Lee, made a similar remark
about meeting her at Lucia's, though he did not suggest himself as her
partner. "Do you suppose the countess will wear her 'tie-airy?'" Budd
added.

"Do countesses have tiaras?" asked Betty. "I hope whatever she has she
will wear it. What is the use of being a countess if you can't have some
sign of it?"

"Sure Mike," said slangy Budd, who was to be very correct in his speech
in the high society atmosphere at the Murchison home a few nights later.

Betty felt very fine indeed, when the Murchison car came for her. Lucia
had told her that day at school that it would. "We're taking care of my
sorority and your little crowd, Betty, which is my crowd, too, though
they don't seem to know it since I joined the sorority. I didn't think
it would make that difference."

"Do you really care about the girls, Lucia?"

"Of course I do."

"Then I'll tell them, if you don't mind."

"Tell away," said this Italian-American girl with a laugh.

So here were both Carolyn and Kathryn in the car with Peggy and another
of the sorority girls. There was plenty of room for them to keep their
fluffy dresses from being mussed and with great anticipations they
arrived at the large place which Lucia now called home.

Mr. Murchison was a widower of some two years' standing. This accounted
for the fact that the recent visit had been the first that Mrs. Lee had
made there. There was no entertaining done until his sister, the
countess, came home. Mr. Murchison had explained the situation to Mr.
Lee early in their acquaintance and entertained Mr. Lee and other men
friends at his club down town. There was an old, old grandmother, Betty
had heard, but Lucia never talked about the household and Betty, of
course, never inquired.

There were no class or sorority decorations here. The great rooms, of an
old-fashioned type with their high ceilings, heavy woodwork, dark and
carved, were fragrant with the odor of roses, which were Lucia's
favorite flowers. The walls bore some fine originals from the brush of
famous artists and Betty felt that she would like to wander through the
rooms just to look at them.

But human relations were more interesting yet. The countess did wear her
tiara. Perhaps Lucia had suggested that the girls would like it. At any
rate here was near-royalty with its jewels. Lucia was in pink, very
becoming to her style, and wore pink corals, necklace and bracelets. But
Lucia, in the language of society, was a sub-deb and must not be too
gorgeous yet.

Handsome books were in the library. Vases, tapestry, and rugs, exquisite
ornaments, not in too great a profusion, indicated the wealth and taste
that had collected them. Poor Mr. Murchison, thought Betty, to think he
had to lose the wife that helped him make this home. But there again,
Betty was mistaken, for it was the Murchison wealth and taste, including
that of the Countess Coletti, that had made the old home what it was.
Mr. Murchison received with the Countess and Lucia. Betty had thought
that possibly the sorority president would be asked to receive with
Lucia. But no, it was merely the family, distinguished enough to be
sure. Mr. Murchison had not forgotten Betty and met her with a kindly
grace. "You are particularly welcome, Miss Lee," said he. "I have not
forgotten how you and your father looked after Lucia and my sister for
me."

The first comers were a bit overwhelmed with the elegance of everything,
but the countess was cordial and easy and as the rooms filled up with
familiar faces, the general stiffness disappeared. Ted Dorrance was
there and a number of juniors, Marcella, of course, and her friends of
both junior and senior classes. Some older boys Betty did not know at
all, as well as girls, airy and assured, that Betty thought must be from
the private schools of which Lucia had spoken. But they were pretty and
clever and with charming manners. Betty was glad to meet some of them.
Mathilde was in her element, so far as her feelings was concerned, Betty
saw; but she felt sorry for her, for she was so evidently not of the
elect, so far as those other girls were concerned.

Chet and the boys that she knew came around, with Carolyn, Kathryn and
the other girls. Lucia mingled with them all and the countess did not
retire, as mothers have some times been known to do. Even Mr. Murchison
stayed until games and some dancing were started. Then he disappeared.
And Lucia, too, had an orchestra to discourse sweet music, either for
dancing or games or, later, for supper. But who should be her partner
for a funny game of which Betty had never heard before, but Marcella's
brother, the Pirate of Penzance!

"I believe, I'm quite sure, indeed, that this is the fair Titania," said
he, as Marcella introduced him to Betty and told him that he was
supposed to be Betty's partner "for these games," said Marcella.

"Do you know how to play this?" asked Lawrence Waite.

"No, I don't," replied Betty, as Marcella left them.

"Then come on," said Lawrence. "I know a secluded and not too secluded
spot. Let's talk. They'll let me do it because I'm not in school with
the rest of you, and already I know Lucia very well."

Lawrence Waite, known as Larry, explained to Betty, as he escorted her
to just such a spot as she had read about in the grown-up books. Well,
what of it? Wasn't she past sixteen? Why should she not have a handsome
young man seating her in the conservatory by a fountain? It turned out
to be some sort of a treasure hunt; but when Ted rushed by and called,
"Come on, Larry, get into the game after treasure," Larry waved a
careless hand and said, "I've found her."

Ted laughed, appreciating the point and Betty naturally dimpled with
amusement, but Larry turned to her again, smiling, but not altogether in
fun. "Really, Miss Lee, I have wanted to meet you since that Hallowe'en
at our house."

"It has been sometime, Mr. Waite," suggested Betty demurely.

"Yes, but I've been away at college except at the Christmas vacation.
I'm home on a rush trip now. Father wanted me to come, a business matter
in which I could help him. I wanted to ask you if you minded that little
affair. I was around looking for things for Marcella, and I took a
chance of frightening you, I know, when I lit that candle; but I had
recognized you, that is, as Titania, and I had to make a train and
wanted to see what you really looked like. You were very good to take
off your mask."

"It was just great fun, Mr. Waite. I should think I didn't mind! It
would have been very stupid just to have your candle go out and not to
have a single thing happen, not even to look into the mirror."

Larry had half a mind to mention one more thing that he had been tempted
to have happen when he saw Betty's face under that shining hair, but he
decided that it was not best. She might think it just his line, and she
was too sweet anyhow and too young for any suggestion of a stolen kiss.
Pray heaven she went through high school and college as above anything
doubtful as she was now! Larry had asked his sister what sort of a girl
Betty Lee was, for Larry Waite was really interested.

"It was fun for both of us, then. I told at college that I had looked
over a girl's shoulder in a mirror at Hallowe'en and the fellows said,
'Beware, Larry.'"

"I'm not a bit dangerous," laughed Betty, though pleased. Betty was
modern enough not to be entirely unsophisticated and she did think that
this was what the girls called his "line." But it was a jolly one,
anyhow. She could safely have a good time with Marcella's brother. He
reminded her how as Titania and the Pirate of Penzance they had tripped
"the light fantastic" together and now, as her especial cavalier through
the games and at supper, he really took her some distance on the path of
pleasant acquaintance.

There was no more on the personal line but they were as one on athletics
and many other features of school life. Betty was fascinated at his
tales of college life and thought it must be great fun to be away at
school. Larry was quite popular with all the girls, Betty saw, and she
wondered how Marcella had happened to assign him to her for the supper,
for Betty was too modest still to guess that he had made the arrangement
with Marcella, who was planning the arrangements with Lucia and the
countess.

If any one had expected any Italian dishes at supper she was doomed to
disappointment. Perhaps the countess was as glad to return to American
food and cooking as are many travelers. At any rate it was the customary
late evening supper, dainty and appetizing. Lights, conversation, gay
dresses, young faces, much laughter--Betty never _would_ forget it she
declared to Doris the next morning as she described it in detail to her
sister.

"Everybody and everything were lovely, Dorry. I wish you could have been
with me. And the Countess Coletti is a peach!" with which conclusion
Betty hopped out of bed and began to dress.

"Isn't it a pity," sighed Doris, "that life can't be parties all the
time? And think of it, Betty; school is almost out and next year you'll
be a junior!"

"That is so," thoughtfully replied Betty, but she was thinking just then
of the "Pirate of Penzance."





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