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Title: Miss Ashton's New Pupil - A School Girl's Story
Author: Robbins, Mrs. S. S.
Language: English
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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 "Miss Ashton's New Pupil - A School Girl's Story" ***

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[Illustration: Twenty white-robed girls in ghost-like procession headed
for the Fräulein's room.--Page 189. _Miss Ashton's New Pupil._]



MISS ASHTON'S NEW PUPIL

A SCHOOL GIRL'S STORY

By MRS. S. S. ROBBINS

Author of "Hulda Brent's Will," "Paul's Angel," etc., etc.

[Illustration]

A. L. BURT, PUBLISHER,

52-58 DUANE STREET, NEW YORK.



Copyright, 1892,

By BRADLEY & WOODRUFF.

All Rights Reserved



CONTENTS

 CHAPTER                                                          PAGE
      I. Miss Ashton Receives a Letter.                              5
     II. Marion Enters School.                                       9
    III. Gladys Has a Room-Mate.                                    16
     IV. Settling Down to Work.                                     22
      V. Mrs. Parke's Letter.                                       27
     VI. School Cliques.                                            33
    VII. Aids to Education.                                         40
   VIII. Demosthenic Club.                                          46
     IX. Miss Ashton's Advice.                                      55
      X. Choosing a Profession.                                     62
     XI. Visit of Cousin Abijah.                                    68
    XII. The Tableaux.                                              73
   XIII. Gladys Leaves the Club.                                    78
    XIV. Kate Underwood's Apologies.                                84
     XV. Miss Ashton's Friday Night.                                91
    XVI. Storied West Rock.                                         98
   XVII. November Snowstorm.                                       105
  XVIII. The Sleigh-Ride.                                          112
    XIX. Detectives at Work.                                       120
     XX. Repentance.                                               128
    XXI. Accepting a Thanksgiving Invitation.                      136
   XXII. Aunt Betty's Reception of Her Guest.                      143
  XXIII. The Academy Girl's Thanksgiving at the Old Homestead.     150
   XXIV. Marion's Repentance.                                      160
    XXV. Diphtheria.                                               167
   XXVI. Christmas Coming.                                         175
  XXVII. Christmas in the Academy.                                 183
 XXVIII. Fräulein's Gymnastics.                                    191
   XXIX. Women's Work.                                             200
    XXX. Deceit.                                                   208
   XXXI. Marion's Letter from Home.                                216
  XXXII. Penitent.                                                 223
 XXXIII. Spring Vacation.                                          231
  XXXIV. Nemesis.                                                  236
   XXXV. Farewell Words.                                           244
  XXXVI. Women's Work.                                             251
 XXXVII. Commencement.                                             260



MISS ASHTON'S NEW PUPIL.

CHAPTER I

MISS ASHTON RECEIVES A LETTER.


Miss Ashton, principal of the Montrose Academy, established for the
higher education of young ladies, sat with a newly arrived letter in
her hand, looking with a troubled face over its contents.

Letters of this kind were of constant occurrence, but this had in it a
different tone from any she had previously received.

"It's tender and true," she said to herself. "How sorry I am, I can do
nothing for her!"

This was the letter:--

  DEAR MISS ASHTON,--I have a daughter Marion, now sixteen years
  old. Developing at this age what we think rather an unusual
  amount of talent, we are desirous to send her to a good school
  at the East.

  We have been at the West twenty years as Home Missionaries. When
  I tell you that, I need not add that we have been made very
  happy by being able to save money enough to give Marion at least
  a year under your kind care, if you can receive her into your
  school.

  I think I can safely promise you that she will be faithful and
  industrious; and I earnestly hope that the lovely Christian
  character she has sustained at home, may deepen and brighten in
  the new life which will open to her in the East.

  May I ask your patience while she is accustoming herself to it;
  of your kindness I am well assured.

                                      Truly yours,
                                                  E. G. PARKE.

"The child of a poor, far western missionary, so different from the
class of girls that she will be with here," thought Miss Ashton as she
slowly folded the letter.

She sat for some time thinking over its contents, then she took her
pen, and wrote:--

  DEAR MRS. PARKE,--Send your daughter to me. I have great
  interest in, and sympathy with, all Home Missionary work. I wish
  I could do something to lighten the expenses she must incur; but
  this is a chartered institution, and at present all the places
  to be filled by those who need assistance have been taken. I
  will, however, bear her in mind; and should she prove a good
  scholar, exemplary in her behavior, I may be able to render her
  in the future some acceptable assistance.

  Wishing you all success in your trying and arduous life, and the
  help of the great Helper,

                                I am, truly yours,
                                                 C. S. ASHTON.

Miss Ashton did not seal this note; she tossed it upon her desk,
meaning to look it over before it was mailed; but she had no time,
and, with many misgivings as to what might come of it, she allowed it
to go as it was.

Her school had never been fuller than it promised to be on the opening
of this new year. Through the summer vacation letters had been coming
to her from all parts of the country asking to put girls who had
finished graded and high school education under her care. Established
for many years, the academy had grown from what, in the religious
world, was considered a "missionary training-school," and from which
many able and faithful women had gone forth to win laurels in the
over-ripe harvest fields, to a school better adapted to the wants of
the nineteenth century.

While it held its religious prestige, it also offered unusual
advantages to that important and numerous class of girls who, not
wishing a college education, were yet desirous to spend the years that
should change them from girls into women in preparation for a future
great in its aims, and also great in its results.

Miss Ashton, large-hearted and strong-headed, seeing wisely into this
future, had succeeded in offering to this class exactly what it had
demanded.

Ably seconded by an efficient and generous board of trustees, with
ample funds, excellent teachers to assist her, a convenient and
handsome building in which to hold the school, she had readily made it
a success. There were more applications for admittance than she could
find room for; indeed, every available corner of the house had been
promised when she received Mrs. Parke's letter.

Sometimes it happened that a scholar for some unforeseen reason failed
to appear; that might make an opening for Marion. She wanted this
Western girl; the missionary spirit of olden times came back to her
with a warmth and freshness it would have cheered the hearts of the
long-absent ones in heathen lands to know. The crowd of scholars began
to gather. They came from the north and the south, the east and the
west, with a remarkable promptness. On the day for the opening of the
term every room was full, and many who had delayed applying for
places--taking it for granted there was always a vacancy--were sent
disappointed away.

There seemed to be positively no spot for Marion; and, in spite of all
the cares and perplexities which each day brought her, Miss Ashton
could not forget it. It became a positive source of worry to her
before she received a letter stating the day on which Marion would
arrive.

"That's not a good beginning, to be a week after the opening of the
term," she thought. "I hope she will bring a good excuse."



CHAPTER II.

MARION ENTERS SCHOOL.


It was a beautiful September twilight when a young girl came timidly
into the main entrance of the Young Ladies' Academy at Montrose.

Six days and four nights ago she had left her home in Oregon, delayed
by the sickness of one of the companions under whose escort she was to
come to Massachusetts.

Before this journey she had never been more than ten miles from home,
and it was a wonderful new world into which the cars so quickly
brought her.

Mountains, plains, rivers, cities, villages, seemed to fly by her as
the train dashed along. She had no time to miss the familiar scenes of
her own home.

The flat prairie, over whose long reaches gay flowers blossomed, the
little villages dotted here and there, with now and then a small,
white steeple pointing heavenward,--her father's church among them,
with the neat parsonage, so much of which he had built with his own
hand, and the dear ones she had left behind her there.

To-day she had reached her destination, and a smiling girl had met her
at the door and ushered her into the lower corridor of the academy.

It was just after tea, an hour given up to social enjoyment, and the
corridor was full of young girls, busy and noisy.

The stranger shrank back into the recess of the door; she hoped no one
would see her: if she could only escape until the principal came, how
glad she should be!

Little groups kept constantly passing her; many from among them turned
their heads and looked at her inquiringly; some smiled and bowed, but
no one spoke, until a tall girl who had passed and repassed her a
number of times left her party and came to her.

"You are our two hundredth!" she said, holding her hand out cordially
toward her. "We are glad you have come! Now we are the largest number
that have ever been in this school at one time. Shall I take you to
Miss Ashton?"

Marion held very tight to the hand that was given her as they passed
together down through the lines of scholars toward the principal's
room. More smiles and cheery nods met her, and now and then she caught
"two hundredth" as she passed.

A knock at a door was immediately answered by a pleasant "Come in."

"Oh, it's you, Dorothy, is it? I'm always glad to see you," said Miss
Ashton, rising from the table at which she had been writing.

"I've brought you your new pupil," said Dorothy.

"And I'm very glad to see her. It is Marion Parke, I presume. You
have had a long, hard journey, but you look so well I need not ask how
you have borne it."

As she was giving Marion this welcome, Miss Ashton, with the quick
look by which her long experience had accustomed her to judging
something of character, saw in the timid new pupil a very different
girl from what in her troubled thoughts of her she had expected her to
be.

Two large gray eyes from under long, drooping eyelids met hers with an
appealing look; lips trembled sensitively as they tried to answer her,
and a delicate color came slowly up over the rounded cheeks.

"I am very sorry to be late," Marion said with a self-possession that
belied the timidity her face expressed; "but sickness of my friends
with whom I was to come, detained me."

"I had no doubt there was a sufficient reason," Miss Ashton answered
kindly. "You are a week behind most of the others, but you can make
the time up with diligence. Dorothy, please take Marion to the
guest-room for to-night. I will see you later. I am very glad you are
here safely. You will have time after tea to write a few lines home.
Give my love to your mother, please."

Dorothy led the way to the guest-room. It was a pretty room near Miss
Ashton's, kept for the convenience of entertaining guests. Dorothy
threw open the window-blinds, and Marion saw before her a New England
village.

In the near distance rose hill upon hill, their sides covered with
elegant residences, and what she thought were palaces, crowning their
tops. The light of this September twilight covered them with a mantle
of gold, lit up the broad river that ran at the base of the hills like
a translucent band, turned the tall chimneys of factories in the
adjacent city, usually so disfiguring, into minarets, blazing with
rich Oriental coloring.

"Is it not beautiful?" Dorothy asked, slipping her arm around Marion's
waist, and drawing her nearer the window; "we have it always--_always_
to look at, morning, noon, and night, and it is never the same twice.
I was born and brought up by the sea, and I've been here three years,
yet I love it better and better every day."

"I was born and brought up on the prairies."

"The land seas," added Dorothy. "How strange they must be! I would
like to see the prairies.

"The grand thing about this is, it belongs to you all the time you
stay here, just as much as if you really owned it; nobody can take it
from you; there it is, and there it must remain. That is the reason
they built our academy on this high hill, so it should be ours, a part
of our education,--'Grow into us,' Miss Ashton says, and it does."

While they stood looking at it the twilight deepened; the golden flush
faded away. Over hill and river crept the shadows of the night, and
out from the adjoining corridor sounded a loud gong, the first one
Marion had ever heard. She turned a frightened face toward Dorothy,
who said, "Our gong; study hours begin now, so I must go: I shall see
you to-morrow." Then she hurried away, and Marion was left alone; but
she had hardly gone, before there was a gentle tap upon her door, then
it opened, and Miss Benton, one of the teachers, came in.

"What, all alone in the dark! That's lonely for a new pupil. Let me
light your gas, and then I will take you down to tea; you must be very
hungry."

Her voice was kind, and her manner gentle. She lighted the gas, then
slipped Marion's arm into hers, and took her through the long, bright
corridors to the dining-hall. Here, a pleasant-faced matron came to
meet her. She gave her a seat at a table, which she told her would be
hers permanently, then seated herself by Marion's side and talked to
her cheerfully as she ate. It was all so homelike; every one she had
met was kind and friendly. It would be her own fault certainly if she
were not contented and happy here, Marion thought.

Tea over, she tried to find her way alone back to her room, but there
were corridors leading to stairs, corridors leading to recitation
rooms, corridors leading to a large hall dimly lighted, corridors
leading everywhere but where she wanted to go, and, for a wonder, no
one to be seen of whom she could ask direction. There was something so
ludicrous in the situation, that every now and then Marion burst into
a merry little laugh; and after a time one of her laughs was echoed,
and, turning, she saw a short, fat little woman with very light hair,
and light blue eyes, who came directly to her, holding up two small
hands and laughing.

"You, new der Mundel," she said; "Two Hundert they call you. What for
you hier?"

"I've lost my way. I can't find my room," said Marion, still
laughing.

"What der Raum?"

Marion was startled. Was this an insane woman who was walking at large
in the corridors? What sort of a jargon was this she was talking to
her?

Had it been wholly German, or even correct German, Marion would have
understood her, at least in part; but this language, what was it? The
speaker, much to the amusement of the whole school, used a curious
medley of neither English nor German in her attempt to speak the
English, seeming to forget the proper use of her own language.

Marion answered her now with a half-frightened, "Ma'am?"

"You not stand under me? I am your teacher, German. I am Fräulein
Sausmann. Berlin I vas born. I teach you der German. Come, tell me,
Two Hundert, vere vas your der Raum, vat you call it? Your
apart_a_ment, vere you seep?" shutting up her small eyes tight, and
leaning her head on one hand, to represent a pillow.

"The guest-room," said Marion, now understanding her.

"Der guest-room? Oui, oui, Madamoselle. I chap_p_eron you,--come!"

Seizing one of Marion's hands, she led her to her room, opening the
door, then, standing on the tips of her small feet and kissing her on
both cheeks, she said in English, "Good-night," kissed her own hand,
and, throwing the kiss toward Marion, disappeared.

Marion found her trunk in her room unstrapped, and, tired as she was,
began to make preparations for spending the night there.

She did not suppose for a moment it was to be permanently hers, but
fell asleep wondering what could be next in waiting for her.



CHAPTER III.

GLADYS HAS A ROOM-MATE.


When Dorothy left Marion at the call of the gong for study hours she
went at once to her own room.

She had two room-mates, both her cousins; one, Gladys Philbrick, was a
Florida girl, the only child of a wealthy owner of several
orange-groves. She was motherless, and needed a woman's care, and the
advantages of a Northern education, so her father sent her to live
with relatives in the small seaport town of Rock Cove.

The other, Susan Downer, was the child of a sister of Mr. Philbrick;
her father followed the sea, and her brother, almost the one boy in
Rock Cove who did not look upon a sailor life as the only one worth
living, was at the present time a student at the academy at Atherton,
only a few miles from Montrose. Dorothy herself was the child of a
fisherman--her own mother dead, and she left under the care of a weak
stepmother, whose numerous family of small children had made Dorothy's
life one of constant hardship.

When Mr. Philbrick, in one of his visits to Gladys at the North,
became acquainted with this little group of cousins, he had no
hesitation--being not only an educated man, but also one of a great
heart and generous nature--in making plans for their future education.
In carrying these out, he had sent Jerry Downer to Atherton; Gladys,
Susan, and Dorothy to Montrose.

Her cousins were already busy with their books when Dorothy came into
the room; and, careful not to disturb them, she sat quietly down to
study her own lessons, but she could not fix her mind upon them.
Marion alone down-stairs, homesick, with no one to say a kind word to
her, or to tell her about the school, "a stranger in a strange land,"
she kept repeating to herself; "and such a sweet-looking girl. It's
too bad!"

Try her best not to, she still found herself watching the hands of the
clock. For a wonder she was anxious to have study hours over; she
wanted to tell her cousins about Marion.

As it proved, they were quite as anxious to hear; for no sooner had
the clock struck nine, and the gong struck again for the close, as it
had for the opening of study hours, than they shut their books, and
Gladys said,--

"Tell us about Two Hundred? What a way you have, Dorothy, of always
finding out people who want you!"

"She was all alone," said Dorothy, by way of answer; "and she looked
so lonely."

"Tell us about her," said Susan. "Never mind the lonely; new scholars
always are; that's a part of their education, Miss Ashton says. We
should have been if we hadn't been all together. What is she like?"

"She's lovely," said Dorothy. "She is pretty, and she isn't. Her hair
just waves all over her head; and her eyes were blue, and they were
hazel, and they were--"

"Gray!" put in Gladys.

"Yes, I suppose they were gray; but they were all colors, but cat
colors, until it grew too dark for me to see her."

"We shall like her. I wish she could have a room near us. Her eyes
tell true tales."

"She can," said Gladys instantly. "She can room with me. I am the only
girl in school who hasn't a room-mate. You wait"--and Gladys, without
another word, hurried out of the room. She very well knew that after
nine Miss Ashton disliked a call unless there was some imperative
necessity for it, so she knocked so gently on the closed door that she
was hardly heard; and when at last Miss Ashton appeared, she looked so
tired, and her smile was so wan, that Gladys, eager as she was, wished
she had been more thoughtful; but, in her impulsive way, she blundered
out,--

"She can come to me. I'm all alone, you know."

"Who can come to you, Gladys?" If it had been any other of her pupils,
Miss Ashton would have been surprised; but three years had taught her
that this Florida girl was exceptional.

"Two Hundred! Dorothy says she is lovely, with big eyes, and
lonely"--

"You mean Marion Parke?"

"Yes, that's her name. We all call her Two Hundred."

"Then you must not call her so any more. It would annoy her."

"I never will if you'll please let her come and room with me. It's
such a cheerful room, and I'll be ever so nice to her, Miss Ashton;
try me, and see."

"But, Gladys, you know your father pays me an extra price for your
having your room to yourself."

"I think, Miss Ashton,"--looking earnestly in Miss Ashton's face,--"he
would be ashamed of me if I wasn't willing to share it with her.
Please! I'll be as amiable as an angel."

Miss Ashton knew the cousins well. She knew, if she excepted Susan, of
whom she felt always in doubt, she could hardly have chosen out of her
school any girls from whom she would have expected kinder and safer
treatment for the new-comer. "How could I have doubted God would
provide for this missionary child!" she thought, as she looked down
into the earnest face beside her; but she only said,--

"Thank you, Gladys; I will think it over!" and Gladys, not at all sure
her offer would be accepted, went back to her room.

The next morning, it must be confessed, things looked differently to
her from what they had on the previous night. It was such a luxury to
have a whole room to herself; to throw her things about "only a
little," but that little enough to make it look untidy. She did not
exactly wish she had waited until she knew more of Marion, and she
tried to excuse her reluctance to herself by the doubt whether she
ought not to have consulted her cousins, as their parlor was a room
common to them all; but it was too late now, and when she received a
little note from Miss Ashton, saying she should send Marion to her
directly after breakfast, she made hasty preparations for her
reception.

The dining-hall was filled with small tables, around which the girls
had taken their seats, when Miss Benton came in with Marion. Generally
a new-comer was hardly noticed among so many; but the peculiarity of
Marion's admittance, rounding their number to the largest the school
had ever held, made her a marked character for the time. Every eye was
turned upon her as she, wholly unconscious of the attention she
attracted, walked quietly behind the teacher to a seat next to
Gladys.

"Gladys, this is your new room-mate," said Miss Benton. Then she
introduced her to the others at the table, and left her.

"Grace before meat," whispered Gladys to her as the customary signal
for asking a blessing was given. Miss Ashton rose, and every head in
the crowded hall was reverently bowed as she prayed.

They were the first words of prayer Marion had heard since she knelt
by her father's side in the far-away home on the morning of her
departure. "The same God here as there!" Among this crowd of strangers
this thought came to her with the comfort its realization everywhere,
and at all times, brings. Even here, she was not alone.

There was a low-toned, pleasant hum of conversation at the table
during breakfast; the teacher who presided drew Marion skilfully into
it now and then; and she was the centre of a little group as the
school went from the hall to the chapel, where a short religious
service was every morning conducted.

This was under Miss Ashton's special care, and she took great pains to
make it the keynote of the school-life for the day. So far in the
term, what she said had its bearing on the immediate duties before
them; but this morning she had felt the need of meeting the cases of
homesickness with which the opening of every new year abounded, and
which seemed, to the pupils at least, matters of the greatest and
saddest importance.

She chose one of the most cheerful hymns in the collection they used,
by which to bring the tone of the school into harmony with her
remarks; and, after it was sung, she said:--



CHAPTER IV.

SETTLING DOWN TO WORK.


"If I were to ask, which I am too wise to do,"--here a smile broke out
over the faces of her audience--"those among you who are homesick to
rise, how many do you suppose I should see upon their feet?"

A laugh now, and a good deal of elbow-nudging among the girls.

"In the twenty years I have been principal of this academy, I have
seen a great deal of this sickness, and I have sympathy with, and pity
for it. It has been often told us that the Swiss, away from their
Alpine homes, often die of it, but I have never yet found a case that
was in the least danger of becoming fatal; so far from it, I might
say, that when, since the Comforter sent to us in all our troubles has
taken the sickness under his healing care, my most homesick pupils
have become my happiest and most contented; so, if I do not seem to
suffer with you, my suffering pupils, it is because I have no fear of
the result.

"I have a prescription to offer you this morning. Love your home--the
more the better; but keep a great place in your hearts for your
studies. Give us good recitations in the place of tears.
_Study_--study cheerfully, earnestly, faithfully, and if this fails to
cure you, come and tell me. I shall see I have made a wrong diagnosis
of your condition."

Another laugh over the room, in which some of the unhappy ones were
seen to join.

"A few words more. I take it for granted that when a young girl comes
to join my school, she comes as a lady. There are qualifications
needed to establish one's claim to the title. I shall state them
briefly:--

"Kindness to, and thoughtfulness of, others; politeness, even in
trifles; courtesy that wins hearts, generosity that makes friends,
unselfishness that loves another better than one's self, integrity
that commands confidence, neatness which attracts; tastefulness, a
true woman's strength; good manners, without which all my list of
virtues is in vain; cleanliness next to godliness; and, above all,
true godliness that makes the noblest type of woman,--a Christian
lady."

Then she offered a short, fervent prayer, and the school filed out
quietly to the different class-rooms for their morning recitations.

She spoke to Marion as she passed her, and Marion knew that the
dreaded hour of her examination had come. She followed Miss Ashton to
a room set apart for such purposes; and, to her surprise, the first
words the principal said to her were,--

"Come and sit down by me, Marion, and tell me all about your home!"

"About home!" Marion's heart was very tender this morning, and when
she raised her eyes to Miss Ashton, they were full of tears.

"I want to learn more of your mother,"--no notice was taken of the
tears. "I had such a nice letter from her about your coming, so nice
that, though I hadn't even a corner to put you in, I could not resist
receiving you; and now you are invited to come into the very rooms
where I should have been most satisfied to put you. I will tell you
about your future room-mates; I think you will be happy there."

Then she told her of the three cousins, dwelling upon their characters
generally, leaving Marion to form her particular opinion as she became
acquainted with them.

What the examination was Marion never could recall. Her father was a
college graduate. Her mother had been educated at one of our best New
England schools, and her own education had been given her with much
care by them both.

Miss Ashton found her, with the exception of mathematics, easily
prepared to enter her middle class; and the mathematics she had no
doubt she could make up.

Probably there was not a happier girl among the whole two hundred than
Marion when, with a few kind, personal words, Miss Ashton dismissed
her. Her past studies approved, and her future so delightfully planned
for.

Miss Ashton gave her the number of her room in the third corridor,
telling her that the same young lady she had seen on the previous
night was waiting to receive her.

When, after some difficulty, she found her way there, the door was
opened by Dorothy, who had been watching for her.

"This is our all-together parlor," she said. "Gladys, you know, and
Susan,--this is my cousin, Susan Downer. We are glad to have you with
us."

It was a simple welcome, but it was hearty, and we all know how much
that means.

Gladys led her to the window. "Come here first," she said, "and look
out."

It was the same view she had seen from the guest-room the night
before, only now it was soft and tender in the light of a half-clouded
autumn sun.

"My father said, when he saw it, it ought to make us better, nobler,
and happier to have this to look at. That was asking a great deal, was
not it? because, you see, we get used to it. But there's the sea; you
know how the sea looks, never the same twice; because it's still and
full of ripples to-day, you don't know but the waves will be tumbling
over Judith's Woe to-morrow."

"I never saw the ocean," said Marion. "That is one of the great things
I have come to the East to see."

"Never saw the ocean?" repeated Gladys, looking at Marion as curiously
as if she had told her she never saw the sun. "Oh, what a treat you
have before you! I almost envy you. This is well enough for a
landscape, but the seascapes leave you nothing to desire. Now, come to
our room. You are to chum with me, and we will be awful good and kind
to each other, won't we?"

"How happy I shall be here!" was Marion's answer, as she looked around
the rooms. "I wish my mother could see it all!"

"I wish she could," said Dorothy kindly.

The rooms in this academy building were planned in suites,--a parlor,
with two bedrooms opening from it. These accommodated four pupils,
unless, as was frequently the case, some parents wished their
daughter--as did Gladys's father--to have her sleeping-room to
herself. In this case extra payment was made.

Marion found her trunk already in Gladys's room, and the work of
settling down was quickly and pleasantly done, with the help of her
three schoolmates. Lucky Marion! She had certainly, so far, begun her
Eastern life under the pleasantest auspices.



CHAPTER V.

MRS. PARKE'S LETTER.


And now commenced Marion's work. She was not quite fitted in higher
mathematics, and Miss Palmer, not disposed to be too indulgent in a
study where stupid girls tried her patience to its utmost every day of
her life, conditioned her without hesitation.

Miss Jones found her fully up, even before her class, in Latin and
Greek; her father having taken special pains in this part of her
education, being himself one of the elect in classical studies when in
Yale College. Her words of commendation almost made amends to Marion
for Miss Palmer's brief dismissal; almost, not quite, for, in common
with nine-tenths of the scholars in the academy, Marion "hated
mathematics."

Miss Sausmann tried her on the pronunciation of a few German
gutturals, then patted her on the shoulder and said,--

"Marrione, you vill do vell; you may koom: I vill be most gladness to
'ave you koom. I vill give unto you one, two, three private lessons.
You may koom to-day, at four. The stupid class vill not smile at you;
you vill make no mistakens." Then she kissed Marion as affectionately
as if she had been a dear old friend, and watched her as she went down
the long corridor. Some words she said to herself in German, smiled
pleasantly, waved two little hands after the retreating figure, and
smiled again, this time with some self-congratulatory shakes of the
head.

The truth was, though German was an elective study, it was by no means
a favorite in the school, and, it may be, Miss Sausmann was not a
popular teacher. Broken English, too great an affection for, and
estimation of the grandeur of, the Fatherland, joined with a quick
temper, do not always make a successful teacher.

The girls, moreover, had fallen rather into the habit of making fun of
her, and this did not add to her happiness. In Marion she thought she
saw a friend, and very welcome she was.

The arrangement that put four scholars in one room for study, also was
not the wisest on the part of the architect of Montrose Academy. If he
had taught school for even one year, he would have found how easy it
was for a restless scholar to destroy the quiet so essential to all
true work.

In Marion's room there was not a stupid or a lazy girl; but they
committed their lessons at such different times, and in such different
ways, that they often proved the greatest annoyance to each other.

One of the first obstacles Marion found as she bent herself to real
hard work, was the need of a place where her attention was not
continually called from her book to something one of her room-mates
was doing or saying.

To be sure, it was one of the rules of the school that there should be
perfect quiet in the room during study hours, but that was absolutely
impossible; and Marion, especially with her mathematics, found herself
struggling to keep her thoughts upon her lesson, until she grew so
nervous that she could not tell _x_ from _y_, or demonstrate the most
common proposition in an intelligible way; and now she found to her
surprise a new life-lesson waiting for her to learn, one not in books.
So far, her life had all been made easy and sure by the wise parents
who had never allowed anything to interfere with their child's best
interests; as they had made more and greater sacrifices than she ever
knew, to send her East for her education, so nothing that could
prepare her for it had been forgotten or neglected.

The very opportunities she had craved had been granted her, and she
found herself hindered by such trifles as Gladys moving restlessly
around the room, her own lessons well learned, lifting up a window
curtain and letting a glare of sunshine fall over her book, knocking
the corner of the study table, pushing a chair; no matter how trifling
the disturbance, it meant a distracted attention, and lost time; or,
Susan would fidget in her chair, draw long and loud breaths, push away
one book noisily and take up another, fix her eyes steadily on
Marion, look as if she were watching the slow progress she made, and
wondering at it.

Even Dorothy, dear, good Dorothy, was not without her share in the
annoyance. If she had any occasion to move about the room, "she creeps
as if she knew how it troubles me, and was ashamed of me," thought
nervous Marion.

In her weekly letters home she gave to her mother an exact account of
her daily life, and among the hindrances she found this nervous
susceptibility was not omitted. It had never occurred to her that it
was a thing under her own control, therefore she was not a little
surprised when she received the following letter from her mother:--

  "MY DEAR CHILD,--You are not starting right. What your
  room-mates do, or do not do, is none of your concern. Learn at
  once what I hoped you had learned, at least in part, before
  leaving home, to fix your mind upon your lesson, to the shutting
  out of all else while that is being learned. I know how
  difficult this will seem to you, with your attention distracted
  by everything so new about you; _but it can be done_, and it
  must be if you are to acquire in the only way that will be of
  any true use to you in the future. Remember that the very first
  thing you are to do, in truth the end and aim of all education,
  is to develop and strengthen the powers of your mind.
  Acquisition is, I had almost written, only useful in so far as
  it tends to this great result. When you leave school, if your
  memory is stored with all the facts which the curriculum of your
  school affords, and you lack in the mental control which makes
  them at your service, your education has only made your mind a
  lumber-room, full perhaps to overflowing, but useless for the
  great needs of life. Now you will wonder what all this has to do
  with your being made uncomfortable, so that you could not study,
  by the restlessness of your room-mates. If you begin at once to
  fix your mind, as I hope you will soon be able to do, on your
  lesson, you will be delighted to find how little you will be
  disturbed by anything going on around you, and how soon your
  ability to concentrate your working powers will increase.

  "Try it faithfully, my dear one, and write me the result. I want
  to send you one other help, which I am sure you will enjoy. In
  your studies, make for yourself as much variety as possible. By
  _that_, I mean when you are tired of your Latin do not take up
  your Greek; take your mathematics, or your logic, or your
  literature,--any study that will give you an entire change.
  Change is rest; and this is truer even in mental work than in
  physical. Above all, _do not worry_. Nothing deteriorates the
  mind like this useless worry. When you have done your best over
  a lesson, do not weary and weaken yourself by fears of failure
  in your recitation room. Nothing will insure this failure so
  certainly as to expect it. Cultivate the feeling that your
  teacher is your friend, and more ready to help you, if you
  falter, than to blame you. You think Miss Palmer is hard on you
  in your mathematics, and don't like you. Avoid personalities. At
  present, you probably annoy Miss Palmer by your blunders; but
  that is class work, and I do not doubt a little sharpness on her
  part is good for you; but, out of the recitation room, you are
  only 'one of the girls,' and if you come in contact with her, I
  have no doubt you will find her an agreeable lady. There is a
  tinge of self-consciousness about this, which I am most anxious
  for you to avoid. I want you to forget there is such a person in
  the world as Marion Parke, in your school intercourse; but more
  of this at another time."

Here follows a few pages written of the home-life, which Marion reads
with great tears in her eyes.

What her mother has written her Marion had heard many times before
leaving home, but its practical application now made it seem a
different thing. She could not help the thought that if her mother had
been in her place, had been surrounded as she was by the new
life,--the teachers, the scholars, the routine of everyday,--if she
had seen the anxious, pale faces of many of the girls when they came
into the recitation room, and the tears that were often furtively
wiped away after a failure, she would not have thought it so easy to
fix your attention on your lesson, undisturbed by any external thing,
or to bend your efforts to the development of your mind, above every
other purpose: but, after all, the letter was not without its salutary
effect; and coming as it did at the beginning of Marion's school
career, will prove of great benefit to her.



CHAPTER VI.

SCHOOL CLIQUES.


The trustees of Montrose Academy had not only chosen a fine site upon
which to erect the building, but they had also very wisely bought
twenty acres of adjacent land, and laid it out in pretty landscape
gardening. There was a grove of fine old trees, that they trimmed and
made winding paths where the shade was the deepest and the boughs
interlaced their arms most gracefully. They cut a narrow driveway,
which proved so inviting that, after a short time, there had to appear
the inevitable placard, "Trespassing forbidden." A small brook made
its way surging down to the broad river that flowed through the town;
this they caused to be dammed, and in a short time they had a pond,
over which they built fanciful bridges. The pond was large enough for
boats; and these, decked with the school color,--a dainty blue,--were
always filled with pretty girls, who handled the light oars, if not
with skill, at least with grace, and, as Miss Ashton knew, with
perfect safety.

During the fine days of the matchless September weather, this grove
was the favorite resort of the girls through the hours allotted to
exercise; and here Marion, having found a quiet, shaded nook where she
could be sure of being alone, brought her book and did some of her
best studying.

"It's easy enough," she thought with much self-gratulation, "to fix
your mind on what you are doing, with nothing to disturb you; but it's
a different thing when there are three other minds that won't fix at
the same time. I just wish mother would try it."

One day, however, when her satisfaction was the most complete over an
easily mastered Latin lesson, a laughing face peeped down upon her
through her canopy of green leaves, and a voice said,--

"Caught you, Marion Parke! Now I'm going straight in to report you to
Miss Ashton, and you'll see what you'll get."

"What shall I?" asked Marion, laughing back.

"She'll ask you very politely to take a seat by her on the sofa, and
then she'll look straight in your eyes and she'll say,--

"'I am very sorry, Marion, to find you so soon after joining my school
breaking one of my most important regulations.' (She always says
regulations; we don't have any rules here.) 'I had expected better
things of you, as you are a minister's daughter, and came from the far
West.'"

"Is studying your lesson, then, breaking a rule?"

"Studying it in exercise hours is an unpardonable sin. Don't you know
we are sent out into the open air for rest, change, exercise? You
ought to be rowing, walking, playing croquet, tennis, base-ball,
football. You've to recruit your shattered energies, instead of
winding them up to the highest pitch. We've been watching you, but no
one liked to tell you, so I came. I won't tell Miss Ashton this time,
if you'll promise me solemnly you'll join our croquet party, and
always play on our side! Come; we're waiting for you!"

"Wait until I come back," said Marion, rising hastily, and gathering
up her books. "I didn't know there was any such a rule--regulation, I
mean."

Then, half frightened and half amused, she went back to the house,
straight to Miss Ashton's room.

Miss Ashton was busy, but she met her with a smile.

"Miss Ashton," said Marion, "I am very sorry; I didn't know it was
against your wishes. I found such a lovely, quiet little nook in the
grove, and I've been studying there when Mamie Smythe says I ought to
have been exercising."

"Then you have done wrong," said Miss Ashton gravely. "I understand
that the newness of your work makes your lessons difficult, but there
is nothing to be gained by overwork. Come to me at some other time,
and I will talk with you more about it. Now go, for the pleasantest
thing you can find to do in the way of healthful exercise. There are
some fine roses in blossom on the lawn; I wish you would pick me a
nice, large bunch for my vase. Look at the poor thing! See how
drooping the flowers are!"

Mamie Smythe's croquet party waited in vain for Marion's return; but
on the beautiful lawn, where the late roses were doing their best to
prolong their summer beauty, Marion went from bush to bush, picking
the fairest, and conning a lesson which somehow seemed to her to be a
postscript to her mother's letter, that was, "Study wisely done was
the only true study."

The lawn itself, cultured and tasteful, had its share, and by no means
a small one, in the work of education. Clusters of ornamental trees,
dotted here and there over its soft green, were interspersed with
lovely flower-beds, in which were growing not only rare flowers, but
the dear old blossoms,--candytuft, narcissus, clove-pinks, jonquils,
heart's-ease, daffodils, and many another to which the eyes of some of
the young girls turned lovingly, for they knew they were blossoming in
their dear home garden.

As Marion was going to her room, after taking her roses to Miss
Ashton, she found Mamie Smythe waiting for her.

"O you poor Marion!" she said, catching Marion by the arm, "I--I hope
she didn't scold you; she never does--never; but she looks so hurt. I
never would have told on you, and nobody would. We all knew you didn't
know; I'm so sorry!"

"I told on myself," said Marion, laughing, "and she punished me. Don't
you see how broken-hearted I am?"

"What _did_ she do to you? Why, Marion Parke, she is always good to
those who confess and don't wait to be found out!"

"She sent me out to pick her a lovely bunch of roses."

"Oh!" said Mamie. Then a small crowd of girls gathered round them,
Mamie telling them the story in her own peculiar way, much to their
amusement; for Mamie was the baby and the wit of the school, a spoiled
child at home, a generous, merry favorite at school, a good scholar
when she chose to be, but fonder of fun and mischief than of her
books, consequently a trouble to her teachers. She was a classmate of
Marion, and for some unaccountable reason, as no two could have been
more unlike, had taken a great fancy to her, one of those fancies
which are apt to abound in any gathering of young girls. Had Marion
returned it with equal ardor, the two, even short as the term had
been, would be now inseparable; but Marion had her room-mates for
company when her lessons left her any time, and Gladys and Dorothy had
already learned to love her. As for Susan, she seemed of little
account in their room. She would have said of herself that she "moved
in a very different circle," and that was true; even a boarding-school
has its cliques, and to one of the largest of these Susan prided
herself upon belonging. Just what it consisted of it would be
difficult to say, certainly not of the best scholars, for then both
Gladys and Dorothy would have been there; not of the wealthiest girls,
for then, again, Gladys Philbrick was one of the richest girls in the
school; not of the most mischievous, or of idlers, for then Miss
Ashton would have found some way of separating them; yet there it was,
certain girls clubbing together at all hours and in all places, where
any intercourse was allowed, to the exclusion of others: walking
together, having spreads in each other's rooms, going to concerts, to
meetings, anywhere and everywhere, always together.

Miss Ashton, in her twenty years of experience had seen a great deal
of this; but she had learned that the best way of dealing with it was
to be ignorant of it, unless it interfered in some way with the
regular duties of the school. This it had only done occasionally, and
then had met with prompt discipline. As several of the leaders had
graduated the last Commencement, she had hoped, as she had done many
times before, only to be disappointed, that the new year would see
less of it; but it had seemed to her already to have assumed more
importance than ever, so early in the fall term.

She very soon saw Mamie Smythe's devotion to Marion, and knowing how
fascinating the girl could make herself when she wished, and how
genial was Marion's great Western heart, she expected she would be
drawn into the clique. On some accounts she wished she might be, for
she had already begun to feel that where Marion was, there would be
law and order; but, on the whole, she was pleased to see that her new
pupil, while she was rapidly making her way into that most difficult
of all positions in a school to fill, that of general favorite, was
doing so without choosing any girl for her bosom friend.

"She helps me," Miss Ashton thought with much self-gratulation, "for
she is not only a winsome, merry girl, but a fine scholar, and already
her Christian influence begins to tell."



CHAPTER VII.

AIDS TO EDUCATION.


In the prospectus of Montrose Academy was the following sentence:--

"The design of Montrose Academy is the nurture of Christian women.

"To this great object they dedicate the choicest instruction, the
noblest personal influences, and the refinements of a cultivated
home."

It was to carry out this, that religious instruction was made
prominent.

Not only was the Bible a weekly text-book for careful and critical
study, but, in accordance with an established custom of the school,
among the distinguished men and women who nearly every week gave
lectures or addresses to the young ladies, were to be found those who
told them of the religious movements and interests of the day. Not
only those of our own country, but those of a broader field, covering
all the known world.

Returned missionaries, with their pathetic stories of their past
life.

Heads of the great philanthropic societies, each one with its claim
of special and immediate importance.

Professors for theological seminaries and from prominent colleges,
discussing the prevailing questions that were agitating the public
mind.

Trained scholars in the scientific world, laden with their rich
treasures of research into nature's hidden secrets.

Musicians of wide repute, who found an inspiration in the glowing
young faces before them, that called from them their choicest and
their best.

Elocutionists, with their pathetic and humorous readings, always
finding a ready response in their delighted audience.

These, and many others of notoriety, were brought to the academy; for
Miss Ashton had not been slow in learning what is so valuable in
modern teaching,--_variety_.

If there were fewer prayer-meetings in the corridors among pupils and
teachers than in olden times, there was in the school more alertness
of mind, a steadier, stronger ability to think, and, consequently, to
study, and, therefore, judiciously used, more power to grasp, believe
in, and love the great Christianity to whose service the academy was
dedicated.

Nor was it by these lectures alone that the educational advantages
were broadened.

The library every year received often large and important additions.
It would have been curious to note the difference between the
literature selected now, and that chosen years ago. Then a work of
fiction would have been considered entirely out of place on the
shelves of a library consecrated to religious training. Now the pupils
had free access to the best works of the best literary authors of the
day, in fiction or otherwise. Monthly magazines and newspapers were
spread upon the library table. There was but one thing required, that
no book taken out should be injured, and that no reading should
interfere with the committal of the lessons.

In the art gallery the same growth was readily to be seen. The
portraits of the early missionaries who had gone out from the
school, and whose names had become sainted in the religious world,
still hung there; but the walls were covered now with choice
paintings,--donations from the rapidly increasing alumnæ, and from
friends of the school. Here the art scholars found much to interest
and instruct them, not only in the pictures, but in the models and
designs, which had been selected with both taste and skill.

There was a cabinet of minerals; but this was by no means a favorite
with the pupils, though here and there a diligent student might be
seen possibly reading "sermons in the stones," who could tell!

There seemed, indeed, nothing to be wanting for the "higher education"
for which the institution was designed, but that the pupils should
accept and improve the privileges offered them.

Marion Parke was not the only one who found herself confused by the
sudden wealth of opportunity surrounding her. Other pupils had come
from the north and the south, the east and the west, many from homes
where few, if any, of the advantages of modern life had been known.
That Marion should have appreciated, and to some extent have
appropriated, them as readily as she did, is a matter of surprise,
unless her educated Eastern parents are remembered, also the amenities
of her parsonage home. Certain it is, that watching her as so many
did, and as is the common fate of every new pupil, there was not
detected any of the "verdancy" which so often stamps and injures the
young girl. It was the girl next to her who leaned both elbows on the
table, and put her food into a capacious mouth on the blade of her
knife.

It was the one nearly opposite her that talked with her mouth so full
she had difficulty in making herself understood; and another, half-way
up the table, to whom Miss Barton, the teacher who presided, had
occasion to say, when the girl, having handled several pieces of cake
in the cake-basket, chose the largest and the best,--

"Whatever we touch here, Maria, we take."

A hard thing for Miss Barton to say, and for the girl to hear; but it
must be remembered that this is a training as well as a finishing
school, and that there is an old adage with much truth in it, that
"manners make the man."

It may seem a thing almost unnecessary and unkind to suggest, that
even the most brilliant scholarship could not give a girl a high
standing in a school of this kind, if it were unaccompanied with the
thousand little marks of conduct which attest the lady.

Maria, after her rebuke from Miss Barton, left the table in a noisy
flood of tears, of course the sympathy of all the girls going with
her. Miss Barton was pale, and there were tears in her eyes; but no
one noticed her, unless it was to throw toward her disapproving
looks.

The fact was, that she had spoken to Maria again and again, kindly and
in private, about this same piece of ill-manners, and the girl had
paid no heed to it. There seemed nothing to be left to her but the
public rebuke, which, wounding, might cure.

Marion took the whole in wonderingly. Was this, then, considered a
part of that education for which purpose what seemed to her such a
wealth of treasures had been gathered?

Here were lectures, libraries, art galleries, beautiful grounds,
excellent teachers, a bevy of happy companions, and yet among them so
small a thing as a girl's handling cake at the table, and choosing the
largest and the best piece, was made a matter of comment and reproof,
and, for the first time since she had been in the academy, had raised
a little storm of rebellion on the part of pupils towards a teacher.

When she went to her room, Susan had already told the others, who sat
at different tables, what had happened. Susan was excited and angry,
but Dorothy said quietly,--

"And why should Maria have taken the best bit of cake, even if it had
been on the top? I wouldn't."

"No: you would have been the last girl in the school to take the best
of anything," said Gladys, giving Dorothy a hug and a kiss; "and as
for Miss Barton, she's a dear, anyway, and I dare say she feels at
this moment twice as bad as Maria."

"Sensible girl, am I not, Marion?" seeing Marion come into the room.
"Don't you take sides in any such things; you mind what I say!
Teachers know what they are doing; and if any of us are reproved, why,
the long and short of it is, nine times out of ten we deserve it. It's
'for the improvement of our characters' that everything is done
here."

"I believe you," said Marion heartily; and, trifling as the event was,
she put it with the long array of educational advantages which she had
come from the far West to seek. "It requires attention to little as
well as great things"--she thought, wisely for a girl of sixteen--"to
accomplish the object of this finishing-school."



CHAPTER VIII.

DEMOSTHENIC CLUB.


"Well! what of that! If college boys can have secret societies, and
the Faculties, to say the least, wink at them, why can't academy
girls? I don't see!"

This is what Jenny Barton said one evening to a group of girls out in
the pretty grove back of the academy building.

There were six of them there. Jenny had culled them from the school,
as best fitted for her purpose. She had two brothers in Harvard
College, and she had been captivated by their stories of the "Hasty
Pudding Club," of which they were both members. "So much fun! such a
jolly good time! why not, then, for girls, as well as for boys?"

When, after the long summer vacation, Jenny came back to school to
establish one of these societies, to be called in after years its
founder, and at the present time to be its head, this was the height
of her ambition, the one thing that she determined to accomplish.
These six girls that in the gloaming of this September night are
waiting to hear what she has to say were well chosen. There was Lucy
Snow, the one great mischief-maker in the school. No teacher but
wished her out of her corridor; in truth, no teacher, not even Miss
Ashton, who never shrank from the task of trying to make over spoiled
pupils, was glad to see her back at the beginning of a new year. There
was Kate Underwood, a brilliant girl, a fine scholar, and the best
writer in the school. There was Martha Dodd, whose parents were
missionaries at Otaheite; but Martha will never put her foot on
missionary ground. There was Sophy Kane, who held her head very high
because she was second cousin of Kane, the Arctic explorer, and who
talked in a grand manner of what she intended to do in her future.
There was Mamie Smythe, "chock-full of fun," the girls said, and was
never afraid, teachers or no teachers, rules or no rules, of carrying
it out. There was Lilly White, red as a peony, large as a travelling
giantess, with hands that had to have gloves made specially to fit
them, and feet that couldn't hide themselves even in a number ten
boot. She was as good-natured as she was uncouth, and never happier
than when she was being made a butt of. These were to be the nucleus
around which this society was to be formed; and as they threw
themselves down on the bed of pine-leaves which carpeted the old stump
of a tree upon which Jenny Barton was seated, they were the most
characteristic group that could have been chosen out of the school.
Jenny had shown her powers of leadership when she made the
selection.

The opening sentence of this chapter was what she said in reply to
some objection which Kate Underwood had offered. Kate liked to be
popular, to be admired and courted for her talents: it was the
_secret_ society that would prevent this. This, Jenny Barton
understood; and in the long debate that followed she met it well.

There should be a public occasion now and then. Did not the Harvard
societies give splendid spreads, and have an abundance of good times
generally?

The society was established, and its name, after a long and warm
debate, chosen: "The Demosthenic Club." "For we are going to debate,
you know; train for lecturers, public readers, ministers, actresses,
lawyers, and whatever needs public speaking," said President Jenny.
Vice-President Kate Underwood gave her head an expressive toss, and,
if it hadn't been too dark to see her smile, there might have been
seen something more than the toss; for while they talked, the long
twilight had faded away, the little ripples of the lake by whose side
they were sitting had gone to sleep on its quiet bosom. The air was
full of the chirrup of innumerable insects; two frogs, creeping up
from the water, adding a sonorous bass, and the long, slender
pine-leaves chimed into this evening lullaby with their sad, sweet,
Æolian notes.

But little of all of this did this Demosthenic Club notice as, coming
out at length from the darkness of the grove, they saw the sky full of
stars, the academy windows blazing with gas-light, and knew study
hours had been begun.

Not to be in their rooms punctually at that hour was an infringement
upon the "regulations" not easily excused, and to begin the formation
of their society by incurring the displeasure of their teachers did
not promise well for their future.

"Take off your boots," whispered Mamie Smythe, as they stood
hesitating at the door. In a moment every pair of boots was in the
girls' hands, and they were creeping softly through the empty
corridors toward their respective rooms. As fate would have it, the
only one who reached her room was Lilly White. To be sure, Fräulein
Sausmann, the German teacher, heard steps in her corridor, and,
opening her door a crack, peeped out. When she saw Lilly White
creeping along on the toes of her great feet, her boots, like two
boats, held one in each hand, she only smiled, and said to herself,
"Oh, Fräulein White! She matters not. She studies no times at all,"
and shut her door.

All the others were taken in the very act; and their shoeless feet,
their confession of a guilty conscience, were reported to Miss
Ashton.

"Seven of the girls! that means a conspiracy of some sort," said this
wise teacher. "I must keep an eye upon them."

How much any one of this "Demosthenic Club" suspected of their
detection by their corridor teachers it would be difficult to say,
for, except by a glance, no notice was taken of them at the time.
Jenny Barton told the others triumphantly at their next secret
session, how she had hidden her shoes behind her, and taken little,
mincing steps, so to hide her feet, and imitated the whole
performance, much to the amusement of the others. "Ah, but!" said
Mamie Smythe, "that wasn't half as good as what I did. When I met Miss
Stearns pat in the face, and she looked me through and through with
those great goggle eyes of hers, I just said, 'O Miss Stearns, I was
so thirsty I couldn't study; I had to go and get a drink of
ice-water!'

"Then the ugly old thing stared at the boots I had forgotten to hide,
as much as to say, 'It was very necessary, in order to go over these
uncarpeted floors, to take off your boots, I suppose, Mamie Smythe!'
If she had only said so right out, I should have answered,--

"'Why, Miss Stearns, I did it so not to make a noise;' that's true,
isn't it, now?" looking round among the laughing girls.

"And you ought to have added," put in Kate Underwood, "you didn't want
to disturb any one in study hours; that was true, wasn't it?"

"Exactly what I would have said; but then, when she only goggle-eyed
me, what could a girl do?"

"Do? Why, do what I did," said Lucy Snow. "I walked right up to Miss
Palmer, she's so ill-natured, and likes so much to have us all hate
her, that you can do anything with her, and I said,--

"'Miss Palmer! I know it's study hours, but I ate too much of that
berry shortcake for tea, and I went to find the matron, to see if she
couldn't give me something to ease the pain.'

"'I think' said she (the horrid thing), 'if you would put on your
boots, it might alleviate the pain; but for fear it should not--you
didn't find the matron, I suppose?'

"'No, ma'am,' I said, 'I didn't see her; I had to come away no better
than I went.'

"'I am very sorry for you; you appear to be in great pain.'

"I was doubling up like--like a contortionist," and she smiled, and
said,--

"'Come into my room, as you can't find the matron, perhaps I can help
you.'

"So in I had to go; and, girls, if you can believe it, after fumbling
around among her phials, she brought me something in a tumbler. It was
half full and looked horrid! I tell you, I shook in my stocking feet,
and I began to straighten up, and whimpered,--I could have cried right
out, it looked so awful, so _awful_, but I only whimpered,--'I'm
better, a good deal, Miss Palmer; I'll go to my room, and if I can't
study, I'll go to bed.'

"'You must take this first. I don't like to send you away in such
severe pain, particularly as you couldn't find the matron, without
doing something to help you. You know I am responsible to your parents
for your health!'

"'My parents never give me any medicine,' I snarled, for I was getting
ruxy by this time.

"'Perhaps you would have enjoyed better health if they had, and would
have been less liable to these sudden attacks of pain,' she said; and,
girls, if you can believe it, when I looked up in her face, there she
was in a broad grin, holding the tumbler, too, close to my mouth.

"'I'm--I'm lots better,' I whimpered.

"'I'm glad to hear it,' the ugly old thing said; 'but I must insist on
your drinking this at once, or I shall have to take you down to Miss
Ashton's room; she is more responsible than I am, and I am sure would
not pass any neglect on my part over.'

"By this time the tumbler touched my lips, and, girls, I was so sure
that she would take me down to Miss Ashton,--and there is no such
thing as keeping anything away from her, for you know how she hates
what she calls a 'prevarication,'--that I just had my choice, to drink
that nasty stuff, or to betray the Demosthenic Club, or to tell a fib,
and have my walking-ticket given me, so I opened my mouth wide, and
swallowed one swallow, then was going to turn away my head, but Miss
Palmer held the tumbler tight to my lips, as I have seen people do to
children when they were giving castor oil. I took another, and tried
again, but there was the tumbler tighter still, so down with it I
went, and--and--she had no mercy; she made me drain it to the last
drop; then she put it on the table, and said,--

"'Now, Lucy, you can go to your room; I think you will feel well
enough to study your lesson, but if you do not, come back in a
half-hour, and I will give you another, and a stronger dose. Put on
your boots before you go; you may take cold on the bare floors, in
your condition. Good-night.'

"She opened her door, and held it open in the politest way until I had
passed out, then I heard her laugh--laugh out loud, a real merry,
ringing laugh, every note of which said as plainly as words could,--

"'I've caught you now, old lady. How is the pain? Did the medicine
help you?'

"I tell you, girls, it was the hardest pain I ever had in my life, and
I never want another."

"Tell us how the medicine tasted," said Lilly White.

"Tasted! why, like rhubarb, castor oil, assafoetida, ginger, mustard,
epicac, boneset, paregoric, quinine, arsenic, rough on rats, and every
other hideous medicine in the pharmacopoeia."

"Good enough for you; you oughtn't to have lied," said Martha Dodd,
her missionary blood telling for the moment.

But the other girls only laughed; the joke on Lucy was a foretaste of
the fun which this club was to inaugurate.

Now, if Miss Palmer did not report to Miss Ashton, and she break up
the whole thing, how splendid it would be!

Undaunted, as after a week nothing had been said to them in the way of
disapproval, they went on to choose the other members of the club; to
appoint times and places for meeting; and to organize in as methodic
and high-sounding a manner as their limited experience would allow.



CHAPTER IX.

MISS ASHTON'S ADVICE.


That the formation of such an insignificant thing as this Demosthenic
Club should have affected girls like Dorothy Ottley and Marion Parke
would have seemed impossible; but it was destined to in ways and times
that were beyond their control. When the club was making its selection
of members, among those most sought were Marion and Dorothy. Marion,
with her cheery, social Western manners, made her way rapidly into one
of those favoritisms which are so common in girls' boarding-schools.
She always had a pleasant word for every one, and always was ready to
do a kind, generous act. She was so pretty, too, and dressed so simply
and neatly, that there was nothing to find fault with, even if the
girls had not been, as girls are, in truth, as a class, generous,
noble, on the alert to see what is good, rather than what is
otherwise, in those with whom they live. As for Dorothy, she was the
model girl of the school. The teachers trusted and loved her, so did
the pupils. No one among them all said how the sea had browned and
almost roughened her plain face; how hard work, anxiety, and poor
fare had stunted her growth; how carrying the cross children, too big
and too heavy, had given a stoop to her delicate shoulders, and knots
on her hands, that told too plainly of burdens they were unable to
lift. All that the school saw or thought of was the gentle love that
was always in the large gray eyes, the kind words that the firm lips
never failed to speak, and the steady, straightforward, honorable life
of the best scholar.

"If we can only get those two," said President Jenny Barton, "our club
is made."

"They are so good, they'll spoil the fun," said Mamie Smythe.

"For shame!" said Martha Dodd. "You don't suppose the daughter of a
missionary would join a club of which good girls could not be
members!"

"Or the cousin of so famous a man as Kane, the Arctic explorer," said
Sophy Kane.

"Don't dispute, girls; we seem to spend half our time wrangling," and
the president knocked, with what she made answer for the speaker's
gavel, noisily on the table. "I nominate our vice-president, Miss
Underwood, to inform these young ladies of their having been chosen,
and to report from them at our next meeting.

"Is the nomination accepted?"

"Ay! ay!" from the club.

In accordance with this request, Kate Underwood had interviewed Marion
and Dorothy secretly, and had received from both a positive refusal.

"I have no time for secret societies," said Dorothy with a
good-natured laugh. "I want twice as many hours for my studies. Thank
you, all the same, Kate."

"Secret society! what is that?" asked Marion. "What is it secret for?
What do you do in it that you don't want to have known? I don't like
the secret part of it. My father used to tell me about the secret
societies in Yale College, and they were full of boys' scrapes. He
nearly got turned out of college for his part in one of them; and if I
should get turned out from here, it would break his heart. No, thank
you, I'd better not."

So, sure that _no_ from them meant no, Kate had reported to the club,
and received permission to invite Susan Downer and Gladys Philbrick in
their places.

"Sue will come of course, and be glad to," the club said. "Really, on
the whole, she will be better than Dorothy, for Dorothy always wants
to toe the line."

Of Gladys, they by no means felt so sure. "She is, and she isn't,"
Lucy Snow said; "but she has lots of money, and that means splendid
spreads."

"But she won't--she won't"--Martha Dodd stopped.

"Won't what?" asked the president in a most dignified manner.

"Won't go through the corridors with her boots in her hands," said
Mamie with a rueful face, "and get dosed. She'd stamp right along
into Miss Ashton's room, and say,--

"'Miss Ashton, I'm late. Mark me, will you?'"

"She will keep us straight, then. I vote for Gladys;" and the first to
hold up her hands--both of them--was Missionary Dodd.

So Gladys and Susan were invited to become members of the club, and
accepted gladly, not knowing their room-mates had declined the same
honor.

It was in this way that the club was to influence the rooms.

October, the regal month, when nature puts on her most precious
vestments, dons her crowns of gold, clothes herself in scarlet robes,
with girdles of richest browns, has a half-hushed note of sadness in
the anthems she sings through the dropping leaves, listens for the
farewell of departing birds, and tries in vain to call back to the
browning earth the dying flowers. This month was always considered in
Montrose Academy the time for settling down to hard work in earnest.
Vacation, with its rest and its pleasures, seemed far behind the life
of the two hundred young girls who had entered into, and been absorbed
by, the present, and who were roused by ambitions for the future.

Marion's room-mates went thoroughly into the work required of them.

"Your faithfulness during the first six weeks of the term," Miss
Ashton had said to them in one of her morning talks, "will determine
your standard for the year. Do not any of you think you can be
indolent now, and pick up your neglected studies by and by.

"You may trust my experience when I tell you that, in the whole number
of years since I have been connected with this school, I never knew a
pupil who failed in her duties during the first half of the first term
of the year, who afterwards did, indeed could, make up the lost
opportunities.

"It is not only what you lose out of the passing recitation that you
can never find again, but, of even more consequence, it is what you
lose in forming honest, faithful habits of study.

"There are many different ways of studying. I have often tried to make
these plain to you. I will repeat them. First, learn to give your
whole attention to your lesson; _fix your mind upon it_. This sounds
as if it would be an easy thing to do; but, in truth, it is very
difficult. I am sorry to say I do not think there are a dozen girls
among you who can do this successfully, even after years of training.
You can train your body to accomplish wonders, but it is hard to
believe that the mind is even more capable of being brought into
subjection by the will than the body; and, to do that, to make your
mind your servant, is to accomplish the greatest result of your
education. Only as far as your study and your general life here do
that, are they of any true value to you.

"You will ask me how are you to fix your attention when there are so
many things going on around you to distract your thoughts? I can only
answer, that as our minds are in many respects of different orders,
so, no general rule can be given. If you will, each one, faithfully
make the attempt, I have no doubt you will succeed, in just the same
proportion as you are faithful.

"It may be as well, as I consider this the keystone of all good study,
that I should leave the other helps and hindrances for some future
talk; and it will give me a great deal of pleasure if I can hear from
any of you at the end of a week's trial, that you have found
yourselves helped by my advice."

It speaks well for Miss Ashton's influence over her school that there
was not a pupil there who was not moved by what she had said.

To be sure, its effect was not equally apparent. There were some who
had scant minds to fix, and what nature had been niggardly in
bestowing, they had frittered away in a trifling life; but for the
earnest girls, those who truly longed to make the most of themselves
and to be able to do a worthy work in the life before them, such
advice became at once a help.

"It sounds like my mother's letter to me," Marion Parke said to
Dorothy, as they went together to their room. "She insists that it is
not so much the facts we learn, as the help they give us in the use of
our minds. I wonder if all educated people think the same?"

"All thoroughly educated people I am sure do," answered Dorothy.
"Sometimes I feel as if my mind was a musical instrument; and if I
didn't know every note in it, the only sounds I should ever hear from
it would be discords,"--at which rather Irish comparison, both girls
laughed.



CHAPTER X.

CHOOSING A PROFESSION.


There was one peculiarity of Montrose Academy that had been slow to
recommend itself to the parents of its pupils. That was the elective
system, which was adopted after much controversy on the part of the
Board of Trustees.

The more conservative insisted that the prosperity of the past had
shown the wisdom of keeping strictly to a curriculum that did not
allow individual choice of studies. The newer element in the Board
were equally sure that to oblige a girl to go through a course of
Latin and Greek, of higher mathematics, of logic and geology, who, on
leaving school, would never have the slightest use for them, was
simply a waste of time. A compromise was made at length, by which, for
five years, the elective system should be practised, it being claimed
that no shorter time could fairly prove its success or its failure;
and during this period certain studies of the old course should be
insisted upon. First and foremost the Bible, the others chosen to
depend upon the class.

The year of Marion's entering the school was the second of the
experiment; and, after joining the middle class and having her
regular lessons assigned to her, she was not a little surprised, and
in truth confused, by Miss Ashton asking her, as if it was a matter of
course, "What do you intend to _do_ in the future?" as if she expected
her to have her future all mapped out, and was to begin at once her
preparation for it. Miss Ashton saw her embarrassment, and helped her
by saying,--

"Many of the young ladies come here with very definite plans; for
instance, your room-mate Dorothy is fitting for a teacher, and a very
fine one she will make! Gladys is making special study of everything
pertaining to natural science,--geology, botany, physics, and
chemistry. She intends when she goes back to Florida to become an
agriculturist. I dare say you have already heard her talk of the
wonderful possibilities to be found there. Her father is an enthusiast
in the work, and she means to fit herself to be his able assistant.
Susan wants to be a banker, and avails herself of every help she can
find toward it.

"You see our little lame girl Helen! She is to be an artist, and
devotes all her spare time to courses in art. She is in the second
year, and has made wonderful progress in shading in charcoal from
casts and models. She uses paints, both oils and watercolors, but
those do not come in our regular course.

"If we see any special talent in a pupil in any line, we do not
confine ourselves to what we can do for her, but we call in extra help
from abroad.

"Kate Underwood is to be a lawyer. Mamie Smythe has a new chosen
profession for every new year, but as she is an only child, and her
mother is wealthy, she will never enter one.

"I might go on through perhaps an eighth of the school, and point out
to you girls who are studying with an aim. For the greater number,
they are content to go on with the regular curriculum; as their only
object, and that of their parents for them, seems to be to secure
sufficient education to make them pass creditably through the common
life of ordinary women.

"I thought you might have a definite object in view; and as you are
now fairly started in your classes, and, as your teachers tell me, are
doing very well, if you had a plan, you could find time to choose such
other studies as would help you."

This was new to Marion; she asked for time to think it over, which
Miss Ashton gladly allowed her.

She had in her heart made her choice, but that, with all the other
advantages offered, she could do anything except in a general way to
help this choice forward, she had never dreamed. Her room-mates
noticed how silent and thoughtful she was after her talk with Miss
Ashton, and wondered what could be the cause, surely she was too
faithful and far too good a scholar for any remissness that would have
to be rebuked; but no one asked her a question.

It was after two days that Marion wrote her mother, and her letter
caused a great surprise in the Western parsonage. This is in part what
she wrote:--

  "Miss Ashton has asked me what I am to _do_ in the future. It
  seems they not only give you the regular curriculum, but are
  ready to allow you elective studies, by which you can fit
  yourself for your particular future.

  "I wonder if you will think me a foolish girl when I write you
  that, if you both approve, I should like to be a doctor! Don't
  laugh! I have seen so much sickness that there was no really
  educated physician to relieve, and am, as you have so often
  called me, 'a regular born nurse,' that the profession, if a
  profession I am capable of acquiring, seems very tempting to me.
  There is no hurry in the decision, only please think it over,
  and write me your advice."

It was not long before an answer came:--

  "You are quite capable of choosing for yourself; and if you turn
  naturally to the medical profession, you will have our full
  approval of your choice."

When Marion read this, she felt as if she had grown suddenly many
years older. She looked carefully over the list of studies, to see
from which she could gain the greatest help, and in a short time after
her conversation with Miss Ashton she reported herself as a future
M.D.

This was not a rare profession for a young girl to choose. Miss Ashton
knew that already there were a number with that in view. What she
doubted was, whether a quarter of them would ever carry out their
intention; and this was one thing which, favoring on the whole as she
did the elective system, she could but acknowledge told against
it,--the uncertainty which their youth, and the natural tendency of a
girl's mind to change, gave. She had known them in one year, or even a
shorter time, an enthusiast in one profession, then, becoming tired of
it, and sure another was more suited to their abilities, turn to the
new choice.

One thing, however, was certain: she comforted herself by remembering,
that the mental discipline which they had acquired would stay with
them, even after the whim of the time had ceased to influence them.

There was an immediate effect, however, which Marion's decision had
upon her. It interested her in those of her schoolmates who were
looking forward to a definite and useful future. She could recall now
how often her room-mates had spoken of what they intended to do, but
she had only listened to it as she had to what they said about their
homes and their friends.

How it became known to them that she, too, had made her choice for the
future, she wondered over; but it was not long before they began to
call her "Dr!" as if she had already earned the title.

Nellie Blair Gorham she had from the first of her entering the school
taken a deep interest in. The small, deformed, pale girl had a pathos
in her whole appearance that touched deeply Marion's sympathies. They
were in different classes, and, so far, had come little in contact;
but now she felt irresistibly drawn to the art studio during the hours
when Helen was there, and, standing near, watched her as she worked.

Helen had all the shrinking sensitiveness which her misfortunes and
her poverty--for she was poor--would naturally give her. Marion was
strong of body, and strong of mind, with a gentle, loving,
sympathetic nature speaking from every look and action; the one, the
counterpart of the other.

Marion made an immediate choice, under Miss Ashton's instruction, of
the studies that would help her in the future; and so, with redoubled
interest in this school-life, she bent to her work, learning day by
day the value of trying to fasten her mind upon that, and that alone.



CHAPTER XI.

VISIT OF COUSIN ABIJAH.


One afternoon when Marion's lessons had proved unusually difficult,
her room-mates noisy, and obstacles everywhere, it seemed to the
diligent scholar, she answered a tap on her door, to find Etta
Lawrence, the girl who waited in the hall to announce visitors, with a
face full of amusement.

"There's a man down-stairs asking for you, Marion," she said. "He
started to follow me up-stairs; and when I showed him into the parlor,
and told him I would call you, he said,--

"''Tain't no odds, I can jist as well go up; I ain't afraid of stairs,
no way.' I had hard work to make him go into the parlor, and I left
him sitting on the edge of a chair, staring around as if he never had
seen such a room before." Then Etta burst into a merry laugh, in which
all the others but Marion joined: she stood still, looking from one of
the girls to another, as if she couldn't imagine what it all meant.

"You must go down to the parlor," said Dorothy, seeing her
hesitation.

"It's some one from out West," added Sue.

[Illustration: "Did you wish to see me?" asked Marion, looking
inquiringly at the man. Page 69. _Miss Ashton's New Pupil._]

"Perhaps it's your father. Hurry! hurry!" said Gladys, thinking how
she would hurry if her own father had been there.

Thus encouraged, Marion, with heightened color and a rapidly beating
heart, followed Etta down into the parlor, and there, still seated on
the edge of his chair, twirling an old felt hat rapidly round between
two big, red hands, she saw a tall, lean man in a suit of coarse gray
clothes. He had grizzly, iron-gray hair, stubby white whiskers, a
pale-blue eye, a brown face streaked with red.

He sat a little nearer the front edge of his chair as she entered the
room, and waited for her to speak. Evidently he was not prepared for
the kind of Western girl he saw before him.

"Did you wish to see me?" looking inquiringly at him.

"Be you Marion Parke?"

"Yes."

"I am Abijah Jones, your cousin, three times removed; your great-aunt
Betty told me to come out here and make a call on you. She's set on
seeing you at Thanksgiving, and I guess you'd better humor her, for
she took a spite at your father cause he wouldn't farm it, and would
have an education; but she allers kind of favored him more than the
rest of us, and has allers hankered after him. That's why I'm here."

"I'm glad to see you, Cousin Abijah," her Western hospitality coming
to her rescue. "Tell me about my Aunt Betty; she is well, I hope."

Once launched upon the subject of Aunt Betty, between whom and himself
there seemed to have been always a family war, he began to feel
entirely at home in his strange surroundings, his voice rising to a
pitch that resounded through the large room with a peculiar nasal
twang Marion had never heard before. She saw one face after another
make its appearance through the half-open door, and she knew very well
this unusual visitor was giving a great deal of amusement to those who
saw him.

Accustomed to see rude characters at the West as she was, never before
had Marion met one who seemed to her so utterly oblivious of all
common proprieties. She felt sure that if he remained long, the whole
school would be made aware of his peculiar presence; and though she
struggled hard not to be ashamed of him, and to make his call as
pleasant as she could, she was much relieved when she saw Miss Ashton,
who, hearing the strident voice, had come to ascertain its source.

As a New England woman, she at once recognized the type. Marion could
only introduce him as her "Cousin Abijah."

"Three times removed," put in Cousin Abijah, without rising from his
chair, only twirling his hat a little faster in Miss Ashton's stately
presence.

She held her hand out to him cordially, and when he put his great
brown knotty fist within it, a dull red color came slowly into his
seamed face. It was not from any want of self-respect, far from it;
he would not have been abashed if Queen Victoria with all her court
in full dress had entered the room. A real out-and-out country New
Englander knows no peer the wide world over.

Seating herself near him, Miss Ashton soon drew him into a pleasant
conversation, to which Marion listened in much surprise. Even the
man's voice dropped to a lower pitch, and what he said lost the
asperity that had made it so disagreeable. After a few minutes, she
proposed to him to show him around the building, where she was sure he
would find much to interest him, and, what was a very unusual thing
for her to do, she went with him herself. A visitor of this kind was
rare in the academy. She well knew the amusement he would create, and
when they met, as they did often, groups of girls in the corridor, who
stared and smiled at her uncouth companion, she silenced them by a
look, which they could not fail to understand.

Kind Miss Ashton! Marion, as well as Cousin Abijah, will never forget
it.

"Now, Marion," she said, when they returned to the parlor, "I will
excuse you from your next recitation, and you can take your cousin
over to the neighboring city. There is a great deal for him to see
there, and I will give you a note which will admit you to some of the
large factories.

"You can go with him to the station, and see him off in the cars. You
will come home, I know, safely and punctually."

Then, if Cousin Abijah had been the President of the United States she
would not have bidden him a more cordial "good-by."

Marion, strengthened by Miss Ashton's kindness, invited her cousin
before they left to visit her room. She took him through the long
corridors, fully conscious that out of many doors curious eyes were
peeping at them as they passed, and that smiles, sometimes giggles,
followed them. Dorothy and Gladys were both there, and made him
pleasantly welcome. He did not admire the view from the window, as
Marion expected, for he had had far finer mountain views around him
all his life; but he looked curiously at the bric-a-brac and pictures,
of which the room was full, and will carry home with him wonderful
stories of the Western girl's room.

Then came the visit to Pomfret, the inspection of some of the finest
mills, and of the pleasantest parts of the manufacturing city; and
Marion bade this country cousin good-by, with the hearty hope that his
visit had been a pleasant one.



CHAPTER XII.

THE TABLEAUX.


Friday night, the work of the week being ended, was given to the young
ladies as a holiday evening, which, within bounds, was entirely at
their disposal. No study was required of them, and it was generally
occupied by diversions of one kind and another, in which the whole
school were at liberty to join. Sometimes it was a dance, the teachers
enjoying it as heartily as their pupils; sometimes it was a concert,
and generally it was well worth hearing, for this academy was noted
for its skilled musicians. Again, it would be a play, even Antigone
not being too ambitious for these amateur actors or _tableaux
vivants_, which never failed to be amusing.

This night was one chosen by the Demosthenic Club for their secret
meetings. As its members did not like to lose any of the social fun,
these meetings were held so secretly that every one in the building
knew of their time and place, much to the annoyance of the club; and
no one, so far, not even the club itself, was better informed of what
was done and said there than Miss Ashton. It seemed to her a harmless
sort of an affair. There was no difference in the scholarship of its
members, the sessions were short, no mischief followed them, and if it
made the girls contented and happy it was all right.

How she came to have this perfect understanding it would be difficult
to tell, only she was found, in some unknown and mysterious way, to
always have the reins in her own hands, no matter how restive the
colts she had to control.

The club had grown from the original number of seven, to twelve, the
new members having been chosen from among the brightest and most
mischievous girls in school. This made Miss Ashton wonder at their
uniformly quiet behavior, and increased the vigilance of her watch.

About three weeks after the visit of Cousin Abijah, it was announced
that a series of tableaux would be given on Friday evening,
illustrating a poem written by Miss Kate Underwood.

Kate's poetical abilities were well known and greatly admired by the
school, even the teachers gave her credit for a knack at humorous
sketches rather unusual. She was to be, perhaps, a second John Saxe,
possibly an Oliver Wendell Holmes, who could tell? The gift was worth
cultivating, particularly as it did not interfere with Kate's soberer
and more disciplinary studies.

Miss Ashton did not think it necessary to see the poem. It was
probably witty, if not wise, and wisdom need not intrude its grave
face always into the freedom of the Friday nights; indeed, she rather
winked at the performance, as she and her associate principal were to
be out of town on that night, and "high fun" in the hall served to
keep the girls from any more serious mischief.

All the club were pledged to the most profound secrecy as to what the
tableaux were to be; and, for a wonder, there were no revelations
made, even to the "dear, intimate friend," who was not a member, and
who generally shared the most "profound secret," no matter from what
source it emanated.

After evening prayers, the hall was given to the club, and as every
arrangement had been made previously for the decoration of the stage,
the work was completed and the doors thrown open at an early hour.

The hall was soon filled, and the buzz of expectation began long
before the curtain was raised; when it was, it showed an interior of a
farm kitchen of the olden times. Clothes-bars had been skilfully
placed so as to represent a low ceiling, and from them depended hams
wrapped in brown paper coverings, sausages enclosed in cloth bags,
herbs tied in bunches and labelled in large letters, "Sage, Camomile,
Fennel, Dock, Caraway."

There were ears of corn, sweet, Indian, pop, likewise labelled;
tomatoes, strung in rows to dry, and strings also of newly sliced
apple.

Under this motley ceiling the room showed plainly it was the
living-room of the house. There was a large cooking-stove that shone
so you might have seen your face in it, a row of wash-tubs, leaning
bottom side up against the wall, two wooden pails and three tin ones,
standing on a shelf over the tubs, and these in close proximity to the
only window in the room. Just before this window was a small table
with a Bible, a well-worn one, on it, and a pair of steel-bowed
spectacles. One yellow wooden chair, and what was called "a settle"
near the stove, a large cooking-table, and one more chair, made the
furniture of the room.

Before this table sat an old woman, dressed in a black petticoat, and
a red, short gown that came a little below her waist. She wore a cap
that fitted close to her head, made of some black cloth, innocent of
bow or frill; from under it, locks of gray hung down about her face
and neck. She had a swarthy skin, two small eyes, hidden by a large
pair of glasses, a mouth that kept in motion in spite of the necessity
of stillness which a tableau is supposed to demand, as if she were
reading the letter she held in her hand aloud. The laugh and clapping
which this scene called forth had hardly subsided when, from behind a
hidden corner of the stage, a sweet, clear voice began to read the
descriptive poem.

"It's Kate Underwood herself," was whispered from seat to seat.
"There's no other girl in school that can read as well as she can."

The poem gave a brief description of the kitchen as it appeared on the
stage, then a more lengthy one of the old woman, with the contents of
the letter she was reading. It was from a niece at a boarding-school,
who proposed, in a brief and direct way, to visit this aunt during her
coming vacation. The tableau was acted so well, and with such
piquancy, that claps and peals of laughter from the audience, and
finally calls for "Kate Underwood," who demurely makes her appearance
from behind the curtain, drops a stage courtesy, and disappears. The
poem had been (this audience constituting the judges) excellent, the
very best thing Kate ever wrote; and as for the tableaux, were there
ever any before one-half so good?

Now, while to almost all in the hall there had been nothing said or
done that could injure the feelings of any one, to Marion Parke it
seemed an unkind take-off of her cousin during his recent visit to
her.

Something in the tall, gaunt girl, in her rough, coarse dress, in the
grotesque awkwardness of her movements, reminded Marion of Cousin
Abijah; and while she had laughed with the others, and had refused to
allow her feelings to be hurt, she left the hall uncomfortable and
unhappy, wishing he had never come, or that all the school had shown
the kind consideration of Miss Ashton; nor was she helped in the least
when she heard Susan telling in great glee how the whole plan had come
to them after the visit of that uncouth old cousin of Marion Parke.



CHAPTER XIII.

GLADYS LEAVES THE CLUB.


Dorothy was the first to see Marion at the door of their room after
the tableaux. She hoped she had not heard what Sue had said, but that
she had she could not doubt when she saw the pained expression on
Marion's face. In the after discussion of the entertainment, Marion
took no part, but went quietly to her bed, with only a brief
"good-night."

"They have hurt her feelings, and they ought to have been ashamed of
themselves," said kind Dorothy to the two members of the club sitting
beside her. "Girls, if that is what you mean to do in your Demosthenic
Club, I am most thankful I never joined it, and the sooner you both
leave it the better."

"Grandmarm!" said Sue, her hot temper flashing into her face, "when we
want your advice, we will ask it."

"What's up, Dody? Whose feelings are hurt, and who ought to be ashamed
of themselves?" asked Gladys. "I don't know what you are talking
about."

"About Marion and the Demosthenic Club!" answered Dorothy briefly.

"What for? What has Marion to do with the club?"

Dorothy looked straight into Gladys's face for a moment. Whatever
other faults Gladys had, she had never, even in trifles, been
otherwise than honest and straightforward. There was nothing in her
face now but surprise; so Dorothy, much relieved that she was not a
partaker in the unkindness, explained to her that, as Susan had just
told them, the club had taken Marion's country cousin for a butt, and
had made him, with the old aunt,--the knowledge of whom must have come
to them from some one in their room,--the characters in the farce; and
that Marion, coming into the room just as Susan was telling of it, had
heard her; and it had hurt her feelings.

Now, strange as it may seem, it was nevertheless true that the club,
knowing Gladys well, and how impossible it would be for her to do
anything that might injure another, had carefully kept from her any
direct participation in it. She knew in a general way what was to be
done, but was ignorant of particulars.

No sooner had the whole been made known to her, than without a word,
though it was after the time when the girls were allowed to leave
their rooms, without the slightest effort to move softly, she passed
the doors of several teachers, up into another corridor, not stopping
until she tapped at Jenny Barton's room.

The tap was followed by the muffled sound of scurrying feet, of a
table pulled hastily away, of whispers intended to be soft, but in the
hurry having a strangely sibilant tone, that made them almost words
spoken aloud, to the impatient Gladys.

She rapped a second time, a little louder than the first, and the door
was opened by Jenny, in her nightdress. The gas in the room was out,
and there was no one to be seen.

"Why, Gladys Philbrick!" she exclaimed crossly, pulling Gladys hastily
in; "you frightened us almost out of our wits. Girls! it's only
Gladys!"

Out from under the beds and from the closets in the two bedrooms crept
one after another the girls of the club. All were there but Susan and
Gladys; and they would have been invited, but it was well known that
if Gladys broke a rule of the school, she never rested until she had
made full confession to one of the teachers. She was not to be trusted
in the least; and, of course, Susan could not be invited without her,
so the knowledge of the spread which was to succeed the tableaux had
been carefully kept from them. No wonder at Jenny's reception of her!

Somewhat staggered by this, and by the appearance of the hidden,
laughing girls, Gladys stood for a moment staring blankly around her,
then she asked, singling Kate Underwood out from among the others,--

"Kate! did you write that poem to make fun of Marion Parke's country
cousin?"

"Why do you ask?" answered Kate, turning brusquely upon Gladys.

"Because, if you did, and if, as Sue says, you got up those tableaux
to make fun of him, I think you are the meanest girl in the school;
and as for the club--a club that would do such a thing, I wouldn't be
a member of a moment longer, not if you would give me a million
dollars!"

"Well, as we have no million to give you, and wouldn't part with even
a copper to have you stay, you can have your name taken off the roll
any time," said the president majestically.

"All right, it's done then; but my question is not answered. Kate
Underwood, did, or did you not, intend to make fun of Marion Parke's
cousin?"

"When I know by what right you ask me, I will answer you; until then,
Gladys Philbrick, will you be kind enough to speak in a lower voice,
unless you wish to bring some of the teachers down upon us, or perhaps
you will report us to Miss Ashton; I think she has just come in the
late train, I heard a carriage stop at the door."

"You want to know my right?" answered Gladys, without taking any
notice of Kate's taunts. "It's the right of being ashamed to hold a
girl up to ridicule for what she couldn't help, and a girl like Marion
Parke. I hoped you could say you didn't mean to; but I see you can't."
Then Gladys, without another word, left the room, leaving behind her a
set of girls who, to say the least, were not in a mood to
congratulate themselves on the events of the evening.

The spread was hastily put on the table again, but it was eaten by
them with sober faces and troubled hearts.

"Well," said Sue, as Gladys came noisily into their room, "now I
suppose you've made all the girls so mad they will never speak to me
again."

"I have told them what I think of them," and Gladys looked at Sue
askance over her shoulder as she spoke, "and I advise you to quit a
club that can be as unkind as this has been to-night."

"When I want your advice I will ask it; I advise you to keep it until
then. Whom did you see?"

"All of them, hiding under beds and in closets."

"That means a spread without leave, and we not invited. You're a
tell-tale Gladys; they are afraid of you."

"Good!" said Gladys with a scornful laugh.

"Girls," said a gentle voice from the bedroom door, "don't mind; it's
foolish in me I dare say, and--and the tableaux were real funny," and
an odd attempt at a laugh ended in a burst of tears.

In a moment both of Gladys's arms were around Marion's neck.

"You dear, darling old Marion," she said, whimpering herself.

"Too much noise in this room!" said Miss Palmer's voice at their door.
"I did not expect this, Marion! Dorothy, what does it mean?"

"We are going to bed, Miss Palmer," said Dorothy, opening the door
immediately. "It was about the tableaux we were talking."

"You should have been in bed half an hour ago; I am sorry to be
obliged to report you. Let this never happen again. Your room has been
in most respects a model room until now."

Not a girl spoke, and if Miss Palmer had come again fifteen minutes
later, she would have found the gas out and the girls in bed.



CHAPTER XIV.

KATE UNDERWOOD'S APOLOGIES.


The scholars noticed that when Miss Ashton came into the hall a few
nights after the Friday evening tableaux she looked very grave.

"What's gone wrong? Who has been making trouble? Look at the girls
that belong to the Demosthenic Club! I'm glad I am not a member!"

These, and various other remarks, passed from one to the other, as
Miss Ashton walked through the hall to her seat on the platform.

It was the hour for evening prayers. Usually she read a short psalm,
but to-night she chose the twelfth chapter of Romans, stopping at the
tenth verse, and looking slowly around the school as she repeated,--

"'Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honour
preferring one another.'" Then she closed her Bible and repeated these
verses:--

"'These things I command you, That you love one another. Let love be
without dissimulation. Love worketh no ill to his neighbor; therefore
love is the fulfilling of the law. By love serve one another. But the
fruit of the spirit is love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness,
goodness, faith. And I pray that your love may abound more and more
in knowledge and in all judgment. Fulfil ye my joy, that ye be like
minded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind. Let
nothing be done through strife or vain glory, but in lowliness of mind
let each esteem other better than himself. Look not every man on his
own things, but every man also on the things of others. Let this mind
be in you which was also in Christ Jesus.

"'But as touching brotherly love ye need not that I write unto you;
for ye yourselves are taught of God to love one another.

"'Beloved, let us love one another; for love is of God, and every one
that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God. He that loveth not,
knoweth not God; for God is love.'

"I hesitate," said Miss Ashton, after a moment's pause, "to add
anything to these expressive and solemn Bible words. They convey in
the most forcible way what seems to me the highest good for which we
can aim in this life,--the perfection of Christian character.

"I presume you all realize in some degree the world we make here by
ourselves. Set apart in a great measure from what is going on around
us, closely connected in all our interests, we depend upon each other
for our happiness, our growth, our well-being. We are helped, or we
are hindered, by what in a large sphere might pass us by. Nothing is
too small to be of vital importance to us; the aggregate of our
influences is made up of trifles. I have said this same thing to you
time and time again, and yet I am sorry to find how soon it can be
forgotten. If I could impress upon you these tender, beautiful gospel
truths I have repeated, I should have had no occasion to detain you
to-night. You would all of you have been bearing one another's
burdens, instead of laying one upon delicate shoulders.

"'Taught of God to love one another.' Do those learn the lesson God
teaches who, without, we will say, bearing any ill-will, injure the
feelings of others? It may be by unkind words; it may be by an
intentional rudeness; it may be by neglect; it may be by a criticism
spoken secretly, slyly, circulated wittily, laughed at, but not
forgotten. 'The ways that are unlovely;' how numerous they are, and
how directly they tend to make hearts ache, and lives unhappy, no
words can tell!

"Young ladies, if your lives with us sent you out into the world,
first in accomplishments, thoroughly grounded in the elements of an
education, that after all has only its beginning here, leaders in
society, and yet you wanted the nobility of that love which the Bible
claims is the fruit of the spirit, we should have to say, we have
'labored in vain, and spent our strength for naught.' I wish I could
see among you that tenderness of spirit that would shrink as
sensitively from hurting another, as it does from being hurt
yourselves. I am looking anxiously for it in this new year. I am
looking hopefully for it; you will not disappoint me I am sure."

Then she asked them to sing the hymn "Blest be the tie that binds,"
made a short prayer, and waited before leaving the room for the hall
to be cleared. It was well she did; for no sooner had the last girl
left the corridor, before Kate Underwood came rushing back to the
platform, and catching hold of Miss Ashton's hand said,--

"I didn't do it, I _didn't_ do it, Miss Ashton, to hurt Marion Parke's
feelings! I like her so much; I think she is--is, why is about the
best girl in the whole school. I only meant--why I meant he was such
an old codger it was real funny; I thought it would make a nice
tableau, and I never thought Marion would recognize it: I wouldn't
have done it for the world!"

Then she stopped, looked earnestly in Miss Ashton's face, and
asked,--

"Do you believe me, Miss Ashton?"

Now, Miss Ashton knew Kate to be a very impulsive girl, doing many
foolish, and often wrong things, only sometimes sorry for them, so she
did not receive her excited apologies with the consideration which
they really deserved.

She said, perhaps a little coldly,--

"I am glad you have come to see the matter both more kindly and
reasonably, Kate. Yes! I do believe you: I do not doubt you feel all
you say; but, Kate, you are so easily tempted by what seems to you
fun. I can't make you see, fun that becomes personal in a way to
injure the feelings of any one ceases to be fun, becomes cruelty.
There is a great deal of that in this school this term. Hardly a day
passes but some of the girls come to me crying because their feelings
have been wounded, and I am truly grieved to say, you are oftener the
cause of it than any other girl. To be both witty and wise is a great
gift; to be witty without being wise is a great misfortune; sometimes
I think it has been your misfortune. You are not a cruel girl. You are
at bottom a kind girl; yet see how you wound! You didn't _mean_ to
hurt Marion Parke; you like her, yet you did: you made fun of an old
country cousin, whose visit must have been a trial to her. You are two
Kates, one thinks only of the fun and the _éclat_ of a witty tableau;
the other would have done and said the kindest and the prettiest
things to make Marion Parke happy. Which of these Kates do you like
best?" Miss Ashton now laid her hand lovingly over the hands of the
excited girl, who answered her with her eyes swimming in tears, "Your
kind, Miss Ashton." Then she put up her lips for the never-failing
kiss, and went quietly away, but not to her own room.

There was something truly noble in the girl, after all. She went to
Marion's door and, knocking gently, asked if Marion would walk with
her to the grove.

Much surprised, but pleased, Marion readily consented, and the two
went out in the early darkness of an October night alone, the girls
whom they met in the corridors staring at them as they passed.

[Illustration: Marion turned, threw both arms around Kate's neck,
kissing her over and over again.--Page 89.]

"Marion!" said Kate, "I ask your pardon a thousand, million times! I
never, _never_ meant to hurt your feelings! I forgot everything but
the fun I saw in the old farm-scenes, and the new fashionable
school-girl out for a vacation; I did truly. I--I don't say it would
ever have occurred to me if that cousin of yours hadn't come here,
because that wouldn't be true, and I'm as bad as George Washington"
(with a little laugh now), "I can't tell a lie; but can say that I
never would have written one word of that miserable farce if I had
ever dreamed it would have hurt your feelings: will you forgive me?"

Marion had listened to this long speech with varying emotions. As we
know, she had been wounded by the tableaux, but her feelings had been
exaggerated by her room-mates, and if the matter had been dropped at
once she would probably soon have forgotten it. Kate's apology filled
her with astonishment. How could it ever have come to her knowledge
that she had been wounded, and how came she to think it of enough
importance to make an apology now.

Instead of answering, Marion turned, threw both arms around Kate's
neck, kissing her over and over again.

Kate, surprised in her turn, returned the kisses with much ardor.

It was a girl's forgiveness, and its recognition, without another
word.

Then they walked down into the grove, their arms around each other's
waists, and the belated birds, scurrying to their nests, sang evening
songs to them.

On the side of the little lake that nestles in the midst of the grove,
two petted frogs, grown large and lazy on the sweet things with which
their visitors so freely regaled them, heard their steps, hopped up a
little nearer to the well-worn path, and saluted them with an
unusually loud bass.

Whether it was the influence of Miss Ashton's words, or the generous
act of apology,--the noblest showing of a noble mind that has
erred,--it would be hard to tell; but, certain it is, Kate Underwood
had learned a lesson this time which, let us hope, she will never
forget.

When Marion went back to her room it was quite time for study hours to
begin; but her room-mates had so many questions to ask about Kate's
object in inviting her out to walk, that a good half-hour passed
before they began their lessons.

Marion did not feel at liberty to repeat what Kate had said, and so
she frankly told them.



CHAPTER XV.

MISS ASHTON'S FRIDAY NIGHT.


Miss Ashton, a little timid from the use made of the liberty she had
given for the Friday night entertainments, decided for a time to take
the control of them into her own hands, and as something novel, that
might be entertaining, she proposed that the school should prepare
original papers, to be read aloud, the reading to be followed by "a
spread" given by the Faculty. She made no suggestion with regard to
the character of the papers to be sent in, other than to say that she
knew very well there were some good writers in the school, and she
should expect every one to do her best.

This proposal was gladly accepted. The girls clapped when she had
finished, and some began to stamp noisily, but this a motion of the
principal's hand checked.

There began at once to be conjectures as to whose piece would be the
best. Nine-tenths of the girls agreed it would be Kate Underwood, the
other tenth were for Delia Williams, who, when she tried for an honor,
seldom failed to secure it; and hadn't she once written a piece on
Robert Browning, of which not a scholar could understand a word, but
which, it was reported, Miss Ashton said "was excellent, showing rare
appreciation of the merits of a great poet"?

One thing was certain, there was hardly a girl in school who had not,
before going to bed that night, wandered around in her dazed thoughts
for some subject upon which she could write in a way that would
surprise every one.

Lilly White, the dunce of the school, had hers written by the
beginning of study hours. It covered three pages of foolscap paper,
and had at least the merit of being written on only one side.

Among the few books Marion Parke had brought from her Western home,
was an old magazine, printed by a Yale College club, and edited by her
father when he was a member of the college.

This had in it one short story suggested by the West Rock at New
Haven. In this rock was a rough cave, and here, tradition said, the
regicides Goff and Whalley hid themselves from pursuit, after the
murder of Charles I. The story was well told, not holding too
rigorously to facts, but at the same time faithful enough to real
incidents to make it not only interesting but valuable.

These were tender and touching scenes of a wife and a betrothed, who,
through dangers of discovery and arrest, carried food and papers to
the fugitives.

The story had always been a great favorite of Marion's. One day when
she felt homesick she had taken it out, read it, and left it on the
top of her table, under her Bible. Being very busy afterwards, and
consequently the homesickness gone, she did not think of it again; she
did not even notice that it had been abstracted from the table and
another magazine, similar in appearance, put in its place.

If Miss Ashton had foreseen the deep interest the school were taking
in the proposed entertainment, she might have hesitated to propose it.
The truth was, it took the first place; studies became of secondary
importance. "What subjects had been chosen for the pieces? how they
were to be treated? how they progressed? how they would be received?"
These were the questions asked and answered, often under promise of
secrecy, sometimes with an open bravado amusing to see.

It was a relief to all the teachers when the Friday night came. The
girls in gala dress crowded early into the hall; Miss Ashton and the
teachers, also in full dress, followed them soon; and five minutes
before the time appointed for the opening of the evening entertainment
the hush of expectation made the room almost painfully still.

Miss Ashton had requested that the pieces should be sent in to her the
previous day. She had been surprised more at their number than their
excellence, indeed, there was but one that did not, on the whole,
disappoint her; that one delighted her.

She intended to read, not the best only, but the poorest, thinking,
perhaps, as good a lesson as could come to the careless or the
incapable would come from that sure touchstone of the value of any
writing,--its public reception.

The names were to be concealed; that had been understood from the
beginning, yet, with the exception of Kate Underwood, who was more
used to the public of their small world than any of the others, there
was not a girl there who had not a touch of stage fright, either on
her own account, or on that of her "dearest friend."

There were essays on friendship, love, generosity, jealousy,
integrity, laziness, hope, charity, punctuality, scholarship,
meanness. On youth, old age, marriage, courtship, engagement,
housekeeping, housework, the happiness of childhood, the sorrows of
childhood, truth, falsehood, religion, missionary work, the poor, the
duties of the rich, houses of charity, the tariff, the Republican
party, the Democratic party, woman's suffrage, which profession was
best adapted to a woman, servants, trades' unions, strikes,
sewing-women, shop-girls, newspaper boys, street gamins, the blind,
the deaf and dumb, idiots, Queen Victoria and the coming Republican
party into the government of England, the bloated aristocracy,
American girls as European brides, the cruelty of the Russian
government, Catholic religion, Stanley as a hero, Kane's Arctic
adventures.

Miss Ashton had made a list of these subjects as she looked over the
essays, and when she read them aloud, the school burst into a peal of
laughter.

She said, "I cannot, in our limited time, read all of these to you. I
will give you your choice, but first, let me tell you what remains.
There are six poems of four and five pages length. The subjects
are:--

"The Lost Naiad; Bertram's Lament; Cowper at the Grave of His Mother;
A New Thanatopsis; Ode to Silence; Love's Farewell.

"I promise you," she said, "you shall have these, if nothing more."

A slight approbatory clapping, and she went on:--

"If I am to read you the titles of the stories I have on my desk, it
will go far into the alloted time for these exercises; but, as some of
you may think they would be the most interesting part, I will give you
your choice. Those in favor, please hold up their hands."

Almost every girl's hand in school was raised, so Miss Ashton went
on:--

"Bob Allen's Resolve; The Old Moss Gatherer; Lady Jane Grey's
Adventure; The Brave Engineer; How We didn't Ascend Mt. Blanc; Nancy
Todd's Revenge; Little Lady Gabrielle; Sam the Boot-black; Christmas
Eve; Thanksgiving at Dunmoore; New Year at Whitty Lodge; Poor Loo
Grant; Jenkins, the Mill Owner; Studyhard School; Storied West Rock;
Phil, the Hero; How Phebe Won Her Place; Norman McGreggor on his
Native Heath; Our Parsonage; How Ben Fought a Prairie Fire; The
Sorrows of Mrs. McCarthy.

"These are all," and Miss Ashton laughed a merry laugh as she turned
over the pile. "I am much obliged to you for your ready and full
answer to my proposal. If I am a little disappointed at the literary
character of some of the work, I am, as I have said, pleased by your
ready response. If I should attempt to read them all, we should be
here at a late hour, and lose our spread, so I will give you the
poems, as I promised, and as many of the essays and stories as I can
crowd into the time previous to nine o'clock."

Miss Bent, who was the teacher of elocution, now stepped forward, and
out of a pile separated from the larger one of manuscripts took up and
read the six poems; then followed, in rapid succession, essays and
stories, until at ten minutes before nine, the school having evidently
heard all they wished with the spread in prospect, Miss Ashton
said,--

"I have reserved the best--by far the best--of all these contributions
for the last. Miss Bent will now read to you 'Storied West Rock!'"

Miss Bent began immediately, and though the hands of the clock crept
on to fifteen minutes past nine, not a girl there watched them; all
were intent on the absorbing interest of the story.

When it was finished, Miss Bent said, "This is so excellent that I
feel fully justified in departing from the promise Miss Ashton made
you, that your pieces should not have the name of the writer given;
with her leave, it gives me great pleasure to say, this touching and
excellently written story was composed by one of our own seniors,
Susan Downer."

"Three cheers for Susan Downer!" cried Kate Underwood, springing from
her seat; and if ever boys in any finishing school gave cheers with
greater gusto, they would have been well worth hearing. Even Susan
found herself cheering as noisily as the rest, and would not have
known it, if Dorothy, her face radiant with delight, had not stopped
her.

Then followed the spread, "the pleasantest and the best one that was
ever given in Montrose Academy," the girls all said.



CHAPTER XVI.

STORIED WEST ROCK.


When Marion Parke went back to her room the night after Miss Ashton's
entertainment, she was in a great deal of perturbation. The title of
Susan Downer's story, on its announcement, had filled her with
surprise, for since her coming to the school she had never before
heard West Rock mentioned. When she had asked about it, no one seemed
even to have known of it, and that Susan should not only have heard,
but been so interested as to choose it for the subject of her story,
was a puzzle! But when the story was read, and she found it, in all
its details, so exactly like her father's, her surprise changed to a
miserable suspicion, of which she was heartily ashamed, but from which
she could not escape. Sentence after sentence, event after event, were
so familiar to her, nothing was changed but the names of the women who
figured in the story.

The first thing she did after coming to her room was to take the
magazine from under the Bible, and open to the story. There was an
ink-blot on the first page, which some one had evidently been trying
to remove with the edge of a knife. It must have been done hastily,
for the leaf was jagged, and most of the ink left on.

This Marion was sure was not there the last time she had opened the
magazine; some one had dropped it recently. Who was it?

She hastily re-read the story. Yes, she had not been mistaken, Susan
Downer's story was the same!

Was it possible that two people, her father and Susan, who had never
been in New Haven, but might have known about Goff and Whalley from
her study of English history, though not about West Rock as her father
had seen and described it, could have happened upon the same story?
How very, very strange!

Marion dropped the magazine as if it was accountable for her
perplexity; then she sat and stared at it, until she heard the door
opening, when she snatched it up, and hid it away at the bottom of her
trunk.

It was Dorothy who came into the room; and Marion's first impulse was
to go to her and tell her all about it, ask her what she should do,
for do something she felt sure she must.

Dorothy saw her, and called,--

"Marion! isn't it splendid that Sue wrote such a fine piece? I feel
that she is a real honor to our class and to Rock Cove! Her brother
Jerry will be so happy when he hears of it."

"Why, Marion!" catching sight of Marion's pale face, "what is the
matter with you? You look as pale as a ghost. Are you sick?"

"No-o," said Marion slowly. "O Dody! Dody!"

"Marion! there is something the matter with you. Sit down in this
chair. No, lie down on the lounge. No, on your bed. You'd better
undress while I go for the matron. I'll be very quick."

"Don't go, Dody! Don't go," and Marion caught tight hold of Dorothy's
arm, holding her fast. "I'm not sick; I'm frightened."

But in spite of her words, indeed more alarmed by them, Dorothy broke
away and rushed down to the matron's room, who, fortunately, was out.
Then she went for Miss Ashton, but she also had not returned. So
Dorothy, unwilling to leave Marion alone any longer, went back to
her.

While she was gone, Marion had time to resolve what she would do, at
least for the present; she would leave Susan in her own time and way
to make a full confession, which she tried to persuade herself after a
little that she would certainly do. So when Dorothy came back she met
her with a smile, told her not to be troubled, that it was the first
time in her life such a thing had ever happened, and she hoped it
never would again.

"But you said you were frightened," insisted Dorothy, "and you looked
so pale; what frightened you?"

Marion hesitated; to tell any one, even Dorothy, would be to accuse
Susan of such a mean deception. No; her resolve so suddenly made was
the proper one: she would keep her knowledge of the thing until Susan
herself confessed, or assurance was made doubly sure; for suppose,
after all, Susan had written the story, how could she have known about
it in that magazine? She had never lent it to her; she had never read
it to any of her room-mates, or to any one in the school, proud of it
as she was. Indeed, the more she thought of it, the more sure she was
that she ought to be ashamed of herself for such a suspicion, and,
strange as it may seem, the more sure she also was, that almost word
by word Susan had stolen the story.

"I was frightened at a thought I had, a dreadful thought; I wouldn't
have any one know it. Don't ask me, Dody, please don't; let us talk
about something else," she said.

Then she began to talk rapidly over the events of the evening, not, as
Dorothy noticed, mentioning Susan or her success. Dorothy wondered
over it, and an unpleasant thought came into her mind.

"Can it be that Marion is jealous of Sue, and disappointed and vexed
that her piece wasn't taken any more notice of? I'm sure it was an
excellent story, 'How Ben Fought a Prairie Fire.'" Marion had read it
to her before handing it in, and she had been much interested in it,
but it didn't compare with Susan's, and it wasn't like Marion to feel
so. She never had shown such a spirit before.

Neither Susan nor Gladys came to their room until the last moment
allowed for remaining away. Susan was overwhelmed with congratulations
on her success. The teacher of rhetoric told her she felt repaid for
all the hours she had spent in teaching her, by the skill she had
shown in this composition, and if she continued to improve, she saw
nothing to prevent her taking her place, by and by, among the best
writers in the land. Kate Underwood pretended to be vexed, "having her
laurels taken away from her," she said "was not to be borne;" and
Delia Williams, the rival of Kate in the estimation of the school,
made even more fun than Kate over her own disappointment. Some of the
girls made a crown of bright papers and would have put it on Susan's
head, but she testily pushed it away.

Susan's love of prominence was well known in the school, and even this
small rejection of popular applause they wondered over.

And when the girls began to cluster around her, and to ask if she had
ever been to that West Rock, if there was really such a place, and if
all those things she wrote of so beautifully had ever happened? she
was silent and sulky; and in the end, crowned with her new honors, at
the point in her life she had always longed for, and never before
reached, she looked more like a girl who was ashamed of herself, than
like one whose vanity and love of praise had for the first time been
fully gratified.

She dreaded going to her room; she was afraid something to mar her
success was waiting for her there. She wished Marion Parke had never
come from the West, that Gladys had never been weak enough to take her
in for a room-mate. In short, Susan was more unhappy than she had ever
been before. Gladys, full of frolic with a large clique of girls in
another part of the room, had not given her a thought.

To have Susan write so good a story had been the same surprise to her
that it was to every one; but the reading was no sooner over, than she
had forgotten it, and if the teacher had not told her it was time she
went to her room, she would also have forgotten there was any room to
go to.

When she saw Susan she said, "Come on if you don't want to get
reported. I say, Sue, haven't we had a real jolly time?" but much to
Susan's relief not a word about "Storied West Rock."

Dorothy had been waiting for Susan, and when the gas was out and they
were all in bed, she whispered to her,--

"O Sue! I'm so glad for you." Dorothy thought a moment after she heard
a sound like a smothered sob, but Susan not answering or moving, she
concluded she had fallen quickly asleep, and that was a half snore; so
she went to sleep herself, but not without some troubled thoughts
about Marion and her unusual behavior.

When Marion and Susan met the next morning, Marion noticed that Susan
avoided her, never even looked at her; and when Dorothy and Gladys
went away to a recitation, leaving them alone, Susan hastily gathered
up her books, and going into her bedroom, shut the door.

Marion thought this over. To her it looked as if Susan felt guilty and
was afraid; but she had determined not to watch her, not even to seem
to suspect her. "How should she know that I remember the story?" she
thought, "or, indeed, that I have ever so much as read it? I will put
it off my mind; I will! I _will!_"

But, in spite of her resolutions, Marion could not; and as days went
on she took to wondering whether by thus concealing what she knew, she
was not making herself a partner in the deception.

Susan, not being at once accused by Marion, came slowly but
comfortably to the conclusion that she had not even the vaguest
suspicion that anything was wrong; still, she sedulously avoided her,
and when Dorothy noticed and asked her about it, answered crossly,
"She never had liked that girl, and she never should to the longest
day of her life."

"And Marion certainly does not approve of Susan. How unfortunate!"
thought this kind Dorothy.



CHAPTER XVII.

NOVEMBER SNOWSTORM.


When November had fairly begun, the grove was leafless; the boats
taken out of the little lake and stored carefully away, to await the
return of birds and leaves; the days grown short, dark, and cold; the
"constitutionals" matters of dire necessity, but not in the least of
pleasure; study assumed new interest, and the worried teachers,
relieved for a time of their anxieties over half-learned lessons,
began to enjoy their arduous work, finding it really pleasant to teach
such bright girls.

The girl who made the best recitation was the heroine of the hour,
rules were observed more faithfully, a tender spirit went with them
into the morning and evening devotions, Faculty meetings became
cheerful. This seemed to Miss Ashton one of the most prosperous and
successful fall terms she had ever known; she congratulated herself
constantly on its benign influences, and often said, "I have fewer
black sheep in my flock than I have ever gathered together before."

There was one reason for this prosperity which she fully realized.
Thanksgiving was not far distant, and on that happy New England
festival, the school had a holiday of three or four days.

It was a practice to send then to the parents or guardians of the
pupils an account of their progress in their studies. The system of
marking had not been abandoned in the school; and many a lazy scholar,
whom neither intreaties nor scolding seemed to touch, was alarmed at
the record which she was to carry home. Such a thing had been known as
girls refusing to leave the academy even for Thanksgiving, rather than
to face what they knew awaited them with their disappointed parents.

But from whatever cause the change had come, it was destined to have a
severe shock before the festival day came.

Montrose Academy had been purposely built within a few miles of the
old and famous school for boys in Atherton. The reasons for this were,
the ease with which the best lecturers could be obtained from there in
many departments (a competent man finding plenty of time to lecture in
both academies), and the general literary atmosphere which a social
acquaintance engendered.

Of course this social acquaintance was not without its drawbacks, and
it had been found necessary for both principals to require written
permits for the visits which the boys were inclined to make upon the
girls at Montrose.

So far, during this term, the boys had been fully occupied by their
athletic games; but as the ground became one series of frozen humps,
hands grew numb, and feet cold, the interest in them subsided; and yet
the love of misrule, so much stronger in a boys' than in a girls'
school, grew more active and troublesome.

Jerry Downer, a brother of Susan Downer, was a member of this famous
school; and it soon became known among a class of boys who studied the
Montrose catalogue more faithfully than they did their Livy, that he
had a sister there, that she was a lively girl, not too strict in
obeying rules, fond of fun, "up to everything," as they described her;
so it not infrequently happened that Jerry was invited by a set, with
whom at other times he had little to do, to ride over with them to
Montrose, he calling on his sister and cousins, while they apparently
were waiting for him.

In this way Jerry had been quite frequently there, no objection being
made by Miss Ashton, as a note from her to the principal of Atherton
Academy brought back a flattering account of Jerry as a scholar, and
as a boy to be fully trusted.

Jerry had improved in every respect since he went to Atherton. He was
now a tall, broad-shouldered, active, well-dressed young man, who rang
the doorbell of the majestic porch at the Montrose Academy with that
unconsciousness which is the perfection of good manners, and which
came to him from his simplicity, and went in among the crowd of girls,
neither seeing nor thinking of any but those he had come to visit.

Susan, in her own selfish way, was proud of him, so he was always sure
of a reception that sent him back to his studies ambitiously happy.

On the fifteenth of November there fell upon Massachusetts such a
snowstorm as the rugged old State never had known before. It piled
itself a foot deep on the level ground, heaped up on fence and wall,
covered the trees with ermine, until even the tenderest twig had its
soft garment; bent telegraph poles as ruthlessly as if communication
was the last thing to be cared for, blotted telephoning out of
existence, delayed trains all over the north, turned electric and
horse cars into nuisances, filled the streets and the railroad
stations with impatient grumblers, had only one single redeeming
thing, the beauty of its scenery, and a certain weird, uncanny feeling
it brought of being suddenly taken out of a familiar world and dropped
into one the like of which was never even imagined before.

There was one part of the community, however, that looked upon it with
great favor.

"Now for the jolliest of sleigh-rides!" said a clique of Atherton
boys. "Hurra for old Jerry Downer! We'll make him turn out this
time!"

The roads between the two places were soon well worn, and not two days
after the astonished world had waked to its surprise, Samuel Ray's
best sleigh was hired, four extra sets of bells promised for the four
horses, and a thoroughly organized "spree" was decided upon.

It was no use to ask Jerry to help them in any thing contrary to the
rules; but through him they might convey to certain girls there the
knowledge of their coming, and their plans for the evening. They would
give Jerry a note to his sister; she would hand it to Mamie Smythe;
and, once in her possession, the whole thing would take care of
itself.

The bells were taken off from the horses and put carefully away in the
bottom of the sleigh before it left the stable; the boys did not have
it driven to the dormitories, as it did when they had a licensed ride,
but met it at Wilbur's Corner.

They had a ready reason for this, and for the absence of the bells
when Jerry noticed and inquired about them. It would not do to give
him the least occasion to suspect them.

It was a beautiful night, with a bright moon making the cold landscape
clearer and colder. There wasn't a young heart in either of these two
educational towns that would not have leaped with joy over the
pleasure of a sleigh-ride then and there.

A very merry ride the boys had as soon as they had cleared the thickly
settled part of the town, breaking out into college songs, glees,
snatches of wild music that the buoyant air caught up and carried on
over the long reaches of the ghost-like road before them.

Jerry had a fine baritone voice, and he loved music. How he led tune
after tune was a marvel and a delight. As they passed solitary
farmhouses, where only a light shone from a back kitchen window, the
quiet people there would drop their work and listen as the sleigh
dashed by.

When the party reached Montrose, Jerry was told that "while he was
making his visit they would drive on, and if they were not back in
time he had better go home by the train, as they knew he would not
like to be out late."

"And by the way," said Tom Lucas, taking a ticket out of his pocket,
"here is a railroad ticket I bought the other day; you'd better use
it, old fellow. I shall never want it--that is, if we are not back in
time for you."

The boys knew Jerry worked hard for every cent he had, and Tom would
have felt mean if he had let a ride to which he had invited him be an
expense.

The first thing he did when Susan came into the room was to give her
the note intrusted to him; and Susan, understanding only too well what
it meant, delivered it without any delay to Mamie Smythe.

Jerry's call was always a treat to his friends; and to-night, Marion
coming with them, he had an evening the pleasure of which, in spite of
what followed, he did not soon forget.

When it came time for him to leave, he saw with surprise that he could
only by running catch his train, and, as the boys had not come back
for him, he hurried away.

He found when he reached Atherton that the study hour had already
passed, and, going to his room, he was met with,--

"I say, Jerry; Uncle John don't expect _you_ to go stealing off on
sleigh-rides without leave. Give an account of yourself."

"The party had leave, and when that is given, Uncle John don't trouble
himself to single out every boy, and call him up to ask if he had his
permission to go. It's all right."

But, in spite of this assertion, Jerry began to have suspicions that,
as the boys had failed to come for him to return with them, it might,
after all, be not quite in order; and with these doubts he did not
find committing his lesson an easy task.



CHAPTER XVIII.

THE SLEIGH-RIDE.


When Susan hurried away from her brother to find Mamie Smythe and give
her the note, she knew full well what it probably contained. Jerry had
told her he had come over with a party of boys, and had the very best
sleigh-ride he had ever had in his life; and when she asked the names
of his companions, she recognized some, who, for reasons best known to
herself, Miss Ashton had forbidden to be received as visitors to the
academy. Mamie Smythe read the note with a heightening color. This was
it,--

  "Sleigh waiting corner of Bond and Centre Streets. Supper at
  Bascoms' Hall engaged for a dance. Bring six lively girls! 8
  P.M. sharp.

                                                        SUB ROSA."

For a moment Mamie looked doubtingly into Susan's face. She would not
have chosen her for one of the "lively girls;" but, now, as Susan knew
something was going on, perhaps it would be best to ask her, if--Mamie
had conscience enough to dally with this _if_ for a moment; perhaps
she might have longer, if there had been time, but as it was now
half-past seven, and the time was "eight sharp," and the girls were
to be chosen and notified, there was not a moment for parleying, even
with so respectable a thing as her conscience, so she showed Susan the
note.

"Oh, dear! that's too bad!" said Susan, as she finished reading it.
"Jerry is here, and he won't go away before eight. What can I do? it
would be just splendid!" And the tears actually came into her eyes.

"That's a pity!" and Mamie, more relieved than sorry, tried to look
regretful. "But don't you tell. Promise me, Susan Downer, let come
what may, you won't tell."

"I'm no tell-tale, Mamie Smythe, and I'll thank you not even to hint
at such a thing. You'll all get expelled, as like as not, and, come to
think of it, I'm real glad I'm not to go with you."

Before her sentence was finished, Mamie had flown out of the room, and
wild with delight over the "fun" before her, she rapidly made her
choice among the girls, not giving them time for consideration, but
hurrying them with all speed into their best clothes. They crept out,
one by one, through different ways. Myra Peters jumped from a window
when she heard Miss Palmer's door open, sure that otherwise she would
be found.

That her dress caught, that for a moment she hung between the moonlit
sky and a deep snow-bank, seemed to her of no consequence, so she
could escape. She left a bit of her best dress hanging on a hook, but
this she did not know until afterwards.

The girls met in the street, near the large front gate, where a tall
Norway spruce hid them entirely from the front windows of the academy.
Certainly they were not a merry group when they came together. All
they had to say to each other was in hushed and frightened tones the
peril of their escape.

When they reached the corner of Bond and Centre Streets there stood
the sleigh! How tempting it looked with its warm fur robes, its four
gayly caparisoned horses, its driver, slapping his hands together to
keep them warm, and the boys coming to meet them with such a merry
welcome!

Did they forget there was such a thing as consequences? Who can tell?

We would not if we could describe any further the occurrences of the
evening. It was past twelve when the six girls, tired, frightened,
locked out of the house by every door, found themselves--sleigh,
horses, bells, boys, all gone--shivering under the back balcony, as
forlorn a set of beings as the calm moon shone upon.

It was not for some time that Myra Peters remembered the window out of
which she had clambered. If that were unlocked here might be an
entrance that at this time of night would be wholly unobserved.

"But if it is?" asked the most frightened of the girls.

"Julia Abbey, you are always croaking," scolded shaking Mamie Smythe.
"The next time I ask you to go anywhere, I shall know it!"

"I--I hope you never will; it--it don't pay," sobbed Julia.

One of the girls had tried the window, found it still unlocked, and
had partly raised it. Now the question was, who would be the first one
to go in? It was Mamie Smythe who felt the responsibility of the ride,
and therefore the necessity of putting on a brave face, and taking
whatever consequences followed.

"I'll go, girls," she said. "Some of you lift me."

Mamie was small and light; it was not a difficult thing to do, as she
clung to the window-sill, and in a moment she had disappeared. Then
her head came out of the window.

"All right, girls," she said in a whisper. "Come quickly, and as soon
as you are in go softly right to your rooms. It's still as a mouse
here."

Now there was a pushing among the girls, not who should venture as
before, but who might go. They were too cold and alarmed not to be
selfish, and their struggle for precedence delayed them, until Mamie
impatiently called the one to come by name.

In this way, one after another safely entered, crept to their rooms
unheard and unseen, leaving the tell-tale bit of dress hanging on the
hook, and forgetting to fasten the window behind them.

If they had been all together in one corridor, their pale faces and
poor recitations might, at least, have excited the teachers' suspicion
that something was wrong; but, as it was, it only seemed to be an
event of not very uncommon occurrence that some one should come into
the class poorly prepared.

It now wanted ten days of Thanksgiving. Only a few of the
pupils,--those who had come from Mexico, Texas, Oregon, San Francisco,
and other distant places,--but had all their plans made for spending
the festival at home; and these, with one exception, were invited
away. The school was on the tiptoe of expectation, when, one morning
after prayers, Miss Ashton sent for Susan Downer to come to her room.

This was the first time such a thing had happened to Susan, and if she
had been an innocent girl she would have been elated by it; but, alas,
we well know that she was not, so it was with much trepidation that
she answered the summons.

"Susan," said Miss Ashton kindly, "I am in a good deal of trouble; I
thought you might help me. How long is it since your brother came to
see you?"

What a relief to Susan! Miss Ashton had often inquired about Jerry,
and once came into the room to see him, so she answered glibly,--

"Week before last, on Wednesday."

"He came in the evening, I believe."

"Yes, ma'am: it was a beautiful moonlight night, and a party of boys
that were taking a sleigh-ride brought him over."

"Did he go back with them?"

"I suppose so," said Susan unhesitatingly. Jerry had not told her of
his possible return in the cars.

"Does your brother know many of the young ladies here?"

"He knows his cousins, of course, and Marion Parke, and some of the
girls that happened to come into the parlor when he was here, to whom
I introduced him."

"Can you tell me the names of the girls?"

Susan hesitated a moment. What could Miss Ashton want to know for?
What could Jerry have done to make her suspect him?

All at once the thought of the sleigh-ride flashed upon her, and she
colored violently. He had brought the note for Mamie Smythe. The girls
had gone on the sleigh-ride. She had heard the whole story from them
on their return.

Miss Ashton watched the color come and go; then she said quietly,--

"The names of the girls to whom you have introduced him, please."

Now, it so happened that these girls were not among the
sleighing-party, and after a moment's hesitation Susan named them.

"Thank you," Miss Ashton said pleasantly. "That is all now."

"All now, _now_," repeated Susan to herself, as she went back to her
room. "Is there anything more to come by and by I wonder?"

Miss Drake, Susan's teacher in logic, found her a very absent-minded
pupil during the next recitation, and gave her the lowest mark for the
poorest lesson of the term.

In truth, the more Susan thought the matter over, the more troubled
she became. Miss Ashton never would have asked those questions without
a particular purpose. That she had no suspicions about "Storied West
Rock" was plain, for not a question tended that way, but all toward
the sleigh-ride; for the first time since it had taken place Susan
felt glad that she had not gone.

She attached little importance to the giving of the note to Mamie
Smythe. How was she to know its contents? She was not in the habit of
opening other people's notes. To be sure, her conscience told her, she
did know them, and, besides, that troublesome old adage would keep
coming back to her, "The partaker is as bad as the thief."

Should Miss Ashton put the question point-blank to her, "Susan Downer,
did, or did you not, know of the sleigh-ride?" What should she answer?
To say she did, would be to bring not only herself, but all the other
girls into trouble, perhaps to be the means of their being expelled.

To say she knew nothing about it would be to tell a _lie_. Susan dealt
plainly enough with herself now, not even to cover it with the more
respectable name of falsehood, and it was so hard to escape Miss
Ashton if she were once on the track; she _would_ find out, and if
she did not expel her too, she would never respect her again.

It must be acknowledged, Susan's was a hard place; but she is not the
first, and will by no means be the last, to learn that the way of the
transgressor is often very, very hard.

"I don't care," was Susan's conclusion, after some hours of painful
thought. "Thanksgiving is most here, and she'll forget it before we
come back."



CHAPTER XIX.

DETECTIVES AT WORK.


Miss Ashton's forgetfulness was not of a kind to be depended upon. Mr.
Stanton, the janitor, had come to her a few days after the sleigh-ride
to tell her that he had found a back window unlocked; that he was sure
he had locked it carefully before going to bed, and that under the
window was the print of footsteps.

He "kind o' hated," he said, "to be a-telling on the gals, but then,
agin, he hadn't been there nigh eighteen years without learning that
gals were gals, as well as boys were boys, and weren't allers--not
zactly allers--doin' jist right; perhaps it was best to let Miss
Ashton know, and then--there now--he hated to do it awfully. If the
gals found it out it might set 'em agin him."

"Mr. Stanton," said Miss Ashton gravely, "if you had made this
discovery and kept it to yourself, you would have lost your place in
twenty-four hours. Please show me the window."

The snow, for a wonder, remained as it was on the night of the ride,
and looking from the window Miss Ashton saw the distinct marks of a
number of feet around the bank into which Myra Peters had fallen. She
also saw, and took off, the piece torn from her dress. This would
surely give her a clew to one of the girls; but, before using it, she
would make herself acquainted as far as possible with the time and
circumstances when it had occurred.

Mr. Stanton could fix the morning when he found the window unlocked,
and Miss Ashton remembered that on the previous evening Susan Downer's
brother had been there to call.

This put a really serious aspect upon the matter. She immediately
connected it with the boys from the Atherton Academy. She called a
Faculty meeting, hoping some of the teachers had heard the girls go
and come, or the sleigh, if indeed it had been a sleigh-ride that
tempted them.

But none of them had heard the least noise after bedtime, nor even
unusual sleigh-bells. If it had not been for the open window, the
footprints, and the torn bit of dress, Miss Palmer, who prided herself
upon, and made herself unpopular by, her vigilance, would have said it
could not have happened; as it was, there was no denying it, and no
question that something must be done.

Susan Downer's examination had proved so far satisfactory to Miss
Ashton, that it had shown her there had been a sleigh-ride given by
the Atherton boys; and she said reluctantly to herself, "I am afraid
the reliable-looking young man, Jerry Downer, had a hand in it. How
strange it is that we can trust young people so little!"

Then Miss Ashton felt ashamed of this feeling; for in her long
experience she had known a great many true as gold, who had gone out
from her training to be burning and shining lights in the world.

The quickest way to get at the bottom of the whole, she thought after
much deliberation, would be to take the bit of torn dress into the
hall, and ask to which young lady it belonged.

Accordingly, after morning prayers, she asked the school to stop a few
moments, held the piece of cloth up in her hand, and simply said,--

"The owner of it might need it for repairing her dress, and if she
would remain after the others left, it would be at her disposal."

The majority of the school laughed and chatted merrily about it. Some
few came up to see if it could have by any luck belonged to the torn
dresses of which not a few hung in their closets.

But no one claimed it! Here, then, was a dilemma! It would not be
possible to go to every room, and examine the wardrobe of every
scholar; besides, now it was known that the bit had been found, and
might easily be made to lead to a discovery of the guilty ones, what
more natural than that the dress should be hidden away, or sent from
the academy building to prevent the possibility of detection!

Miss Ashton was disappointed over this failure. She was not much of a
detective, and had less reason for being so than falls to the lot of
many teachers.

She wrote to the principal of the Atherton Academy, inquiring whether
he had given leave to a party of his boys to take a sleigh-ride on the
night of the twentieth of November. She knew Jerry Downer had been one
of them, as he had called on his sister, who was one of her pupils, on
that night.

She received an immediate answer, saying, "He had not given leave for
any sleigh-ride on that night, and was both surprised and sorry that a
boy he had always considered so reliable as Jerry Downer should have
been among them. He would inquire into the matter at once."

And he lost no time; sending for Jerry, he put the question
point-blank, his usual straightforward way of dealing with his
boys,--

"Did you go on a sleigh-ride the evening of the twentieth of
November?"

"Yes, sir," said Jerry unhesitatingly.

"Did I give you leave to go?"

"No, sir; but I supposed the party had asked you, or they would not
have gone."

"Your supposition was entirely erroneous. My leave had never been
asked. Who besides yourself made up the party?"

Now Jerry hesitated: he could take the blame of his own going, but it
would be mean in him to tell the names of his companions.

"Mr.--Uncle John (the principal smiled grimly as he heard this
familiar name), I mean Dr. Arkwright," said Jerry, the color browning,
instead of reddening his sea-tanned face, "I am very sorry, sir; I
thought they had leave; I would not have gone."

"Don't _think_ again; _know_, Jerry Downer: that is the only way for a
boy that wants to do right. You will tell me, if you please, the names
of your companions."

"Would that be honorable in me, sir?" asked Jerry, now looking the
doctor straight in the eye.

A look of doubt passed over the principal's face before he answered,
then he said with less austerity,--

"I must find out in some way who among my boys have broken my rules;
you can help me more directly than any one else."

"Would it be honorable in me?" repeated Jerry.

"You are not here to ask questions, but to answer them. Are you going
to refuse to help me by giving me the names of the boys?"

"I cannot, indeed I cannot; it would be so mean in me. You must punish
me any way I deserve, sir; I am willing to bear it; but I cannot tell
on the boys."

"Very well, Jerry Downer; you are dismissed," and he waved Jerry out
of the room.

But after Jerry had gone, he went to the window and stood watching
him.

"That is a generous boy!" he said; "but he has made a mistake. He will
see it when he is older and wiser. He will learn that true manhood
helps law and order, not even the idea of honor coming before it,
noble as it is."

Still the difficulty of unravelling the matter remained with him in as
much doubt as it did with Miss Ashton; but with both of these
excellent principals there was no question but that it must be sifted
to the bottom, the delinquents discovered and punished.

The time for doing this was short; and should it be necessary to expel
a pupil, the coming vacation offered a suitable occasion.

Soon after, Miss Ashton, going through the corridor one evening, found
two girls in close and excited conversation,--Myra Peters and Julia
Dorr.

They did not see her at first, so she was quite near enough to them to
catch a few words.

"You may say what you please," said Julia Dorr. "I'm as sure of it as
sure can be; I've sat close by you time and again when you had it on,
and if I had been you I would have owned it."

"Owned it!" snarled Myra Peters, "will you be kind enough to mind your
own business, and let other people's alone, Miss Interferer?"

"Well, interferer or not, I've half a mind to go and tell Miss
Ashton."

"Tell Miss Ashton what?" asked a voice close beside them.

The girls turned, to find Miss Ashton there.

"Tell Miss Ashton what?" she asked again pleasantly; "I always like to
hear good news. What is this about?"

Now, nothing had really been farther from Julia's intention than to
tell on Myra. She was one of those who had gone up to the desk when
Miss Ashton showed the piece of cloth, and had recognized it as like a
dress she had seen Myra wear. That there was anything of more
importance attached to it than the ability to mend the dress neatly,
she did not think, so she answered readily,--

"Why, Miss Ashton, that piece of cloth you showed us was exactly like
Myra's dress. I've seen it a hundred times; but she declares she never
had a dress like it, and we were quarrelling about it. I wish you
would show it to her close up, and see if she don't have to give in."

"I will; come to my room, Myra!" and she led the way there, Myra
following with a frightened, sullen face.

Then she found the piece, and laid it on the table.

"Myra," she said, after looking at the girl kindly for a moment, "is
this like your dress? Tell me truly; it is much the best thing for you
to do."

Myra gazed at the cloth for a moment, then burst into a flood of
tears.

"So you were one of the sleighing-party?" said Miss Ashton quietly.
"Will you tell me who were with you?"

If Myra had not been taken so entirely by surprise, she might,
probably would, have refused to answer, for honor is as dear to girls
as to boys; but she sobbed out one name after another, until the six
stood confessed.

"Thank you," was all Miss Ashton said, then she handed Myra the
tell-tale cloth, and added, "You had better put it neatly in the place
from which it was torn."

She opened her door, and Myra, wiping her eyes, went quickly out and
back to her room.

Hardly conscious what she was doing, with an impatient desire to get
away, she began to pack her trunk.

"I will go home, home, home!" she kept repeating to herself. "I never
will see one of those girls again. Oh, dear, dear! If I only hadn't
gone on that sleigh-ride; that abominable Mamie Smythe is always
getting the girls in trouble: I perfectly detest her. What will my
father say?"



CHAPTER XX.

REPENTANCE.


It is a common error that to send a girl into a boarding-school to
finish her education is to bring her out a model, not only in
learning, but in accomplishments and character.

Here were two hundred girls, coming from nearly two hundred different
families, each one brought up, until she was in her teens, in
different ways. Looking over the population of a small village, the
most careless observer must see how unlike the homes are; how every
grade of morals and manners is represented, and with what telling
effect they show themselves in the characters of the young trained
under their roofs.

It happened often that Montrose Academy was looked upon by anxious
parents--who were just discovering, in wilfulness, disobedience,
perhaps in matters more serious even than these, the mistakes they had
made in the education of their daughters--as a sort of reformatory
school, where Miss Ashton took in the erring, and after one or more
years sent them out perfect in every good work and way.

While Miss Ashton made all inquiries in her power to prevent any
undesirable girls from joining her school, she was often imposed upon,
sometimes by concealments, and not unseldom by positive falsehoods,
but oftener by the parental fondness which could see nothing but good
in a spoilt, darling child.

It often happened that with just such characters Miss Ashton was very
successful, not seldom receiving a girl of a really fine nature which
had been distorted by home influences, and sending her away, after
years of patient work, with this nature so fully developed and
improved that her whole family rose to her standard.

Instances of this kind made Miss Ashton careful in her discipline. She
well understood that a girl once expelled from a school, no matter how
lightly her friends might appear to regard the occurrence, was under a
ban, which time and circumstances might remove, but might not.

In the case of this sleigh-ride, the disobedience to known and
strictly enforced rules made her more anxiety than any case of a
similar kind had given her for years.

She knew now the names of the girls concerned: they had given her
trouble before. Mamie Smythe she had often been on the point of
sending home, but she was one of those characters with fine traits,
capable of being very good or very bad in her life's work. The mother
was a wealthy widow, Mamie her only child. Spoiled by weak and foolish
fondness she had been; but her brightness, her lovableness, her
cheery, witty, sunshiny ways remained.

Evidently, here she was the accountable one; she should be expelled as
a lesson to the school, but to expel her meant, _what_?

She had wealth, she had position, she would in a few years be able to
wield an influence that, in the right direction, would outweigh that
of almost any other girl in school.

To be sent home, back to that weak mother, with a life of frivolous
pleasures before her, what, under these circumstances, was it the
wisest and best thing to do?

Favoritism for the rich or the poor was not one of Miss Ashton's
faults. By this time the whole school knew of the ride, of its
discovery, and was holding its breath over the probable consequences.

The girls said, "Miss Ashton grew thin and pale from the worry." The
feeling of the school, most of whom were tenderly attached to her, was
decidedly against those who had troubled her; and if she could have
known the true state of the case, when she was neither eating nor
sleeping, in her anxiety to do what was right, she would have found
that the good for order, discipline, and propriety, which was growing
from this evil done, was to exceed any influence she could hope to
exert, even from the severest act of just discipline.

She was to be helped in a most unexpected way.

Two days after her interview with Myra Peters, there was a soft tap on
her door, and opening it, there stood Mamie Smythe!

Her face, usually covered with smiles, was grave and even sad.

"Miss Ashton," she said, without waiting to close the door, "please
don't be hard on the other girls. It was all my fault; I was the Eve
that tempted them. I know it was wrong; I know it was _dreadful_
wrong! I was worse than Eve; I was the serpent that tempted Eve! They
wouldn't a single one of them have gone if it hadn't been for me! Do,
please, Miss Ashton, punish me, and not them! They never, never,
_never_ would have gone if I hadn't tempted them. Please, please, Miss
Ashton! I'll do anything; I'll get extra lessons for a year! I won't
have a single spread; I'll be good; you won't know me, Miss Ashton,
I'll be so good; and I'll bear any punishment. You may ferule me, as
they do in district schools," and she held out a little diamond-ringed
hand toward Miss Ashton; "I'll be shut up for a week in a dark closet,
and live on bread and water. You may do anything you please with me,
only spare them," and she looked so earnestly and imploringly up in
Miss Ashton's face, that her heart, in spite of her better judgment,
was touched; all she said was,--

"Tell me about it, Mamie."

"When Susan gave me the note," began Mamie. Miss Ashton started.
"Susan who?" she asked, for Susan Downer had not confessed to any
note; indeed, had virtually denied connection with the ride.

"Susan Downer, of course; she gave me the note. Her brother brought
it to her, and I was wild with joy to have a sleigh-ride. It was such
a bright moon, and the sleighing looked so fine, I wanted all day to
ask you to let me have a big sleigh, and take the girls out, but I
knew you wouldn't."

"Yes, I should have," interrupted Miss Ashton.

"That's just awful," said Mamie, after a moment's reflection; "and if
I'd been brave enough to ask you, nothing of this would have
happened.

"I hadn't time to think only of the girls--you know them all, Miss
Ashton!"

"And who were the boys?" asked Miss Ashton, thinking perhaps she might
aid the other troubled principal.

"The boys! oh, the boys!" and Mamie's face looked truly distressed
now. "Please don't ask me, Miss Ashton. I'd cut my tongue out before
I'd tell you!"

"Very well, go on with your ride."

Then Mamie repeated fully and truly all that a girl in the flush of
excitement caused by a stolen sleigh-ride could be expected to
remember, not palliating one thing, from the supper to the dance, and
the clamber in at midnight through the open window.

If at some points a little laugh gurgled up from her fun-loving soul,
as she told her tale, Miss Ashton understood, and forgave it.

"I thank you, Mamie," said she at last; and she stroked the little
hand given to her so loyally for the sacrificial feruling, but she
turned her eyes away. What Mamie might have read there, she dared not
trust to the girl's quick sight; indeed, she hardly dared to trust the
feeling that prompted it in herself.

There was no use to have another Faculty meeting, and depend upon it
for help; she must settle the trouble alone.

It was Susan Downer who was next called to the principal's room.

She went tremblingly. What was to happen to her now? Miss Ashton knew
the girls' names who went on the sleigh-ride, and as yet no one had
been punished. Could it be about "Storied West Rock"? How Susan by
this time hated its very name, and how much she would have given if
she had never known it, she could best have told.

"Susan," said Miss Ashton, as with a pale face and downcast eyes the
girl stood before her, "when I asked you about your brother's visit to
you on the night of the sleigh-ride, you did not tell me of the note
he gave you, and you gave to Mamie Smythe. If you had, you would have
saved me many troubled hours."

"You did not ask me," said Susan promptly.

"True. Did you know the contents of the note?"

"Mamie asked me to go with them, but I refused. I was afraid you
wouldn't like it, and I'd much rather lose a ride any time than
displease you;" and Susan, as she said this, looked bravely in Miss
Ashton's face.

"That's all," the principal said gravely, and Susan, with a lighter
heart than that with which she had entered, left the room; but Miss
Ashton thought, as she watched the forced smile on the girl's face,
"There's one that can't be trusted; what a pity, for she is not
without ability!" Then she remembered the story she had read and
praised, and wondered over it.

Two days before the time for the term to close, Miss Ashton received
this note:--

  OUR DEAR MISS ASHTON,--We, the undersigned, do regret in
  sackcloth and ashes our serious misconduct in going away at an
  improper time, and in an improper manner, on a sleigh-ride,
  without your consent and approval.

  We promise, if you will forgive us, and restore us to your trust
  and affection, that we will never, NEVER be guilty of such a
  misdemeanor again. That we will try our best faithfully to
  observe the rules of the school, and endeavor to be good and
  faithful scholars.

  Pray forgive and test us!

                           MAMIE SMYTHE, HELEN NORRIS,
                           JANE SOMERS,  JULIA ABBEY,
                           MYRA PETERS,  ETTA SPRING.

Miss Ashton smiled as she read the note. Repentance by the wholesale
she had never found very reliable; and in this instance she would have
had much more confidence if the girls had come to her, and made a full
confession, without waiting to be found out.

It was not until after two sleepless nights that she came to the
conclusion to give them further trial; and when she called them to her
room, one by one, and had a long and faithful talk with them, sending
them from her tenderly penitent, she felt sure her course had been a
right one.

Then she made a short speech to the school, went over briefly what had
happened, not in the least sparing the impropriety of the stolen ride,
but, on account of the repentance and promises from the girls
concerned, she had decided not to expel them now, but to give them a
chance to redeem the character they had lost. The school clapped her
enthusiastically as she closed.



CHAPTER XXI.

ACCEPTING A THANKSGIVING INVITATION.


A week before Thanksgiving, Marion Parke received this note from her
Aunt Betty:--

  DEAR NIECE,--If you haven't anywhere else to go, and have money
  to come with, you can take the cars from Boston up here and
  spend Thanksgiving Day with us at Belden. Your pa used to think
  a lot of coming here when he went to college--the great pity he
  ever went. He might have been well-to-do if he had stuck to
  farming, but he always hankered after an eddication, and he got
  it, and nothin' else. Your Cousin Abijah will drive over in his
  cutter and bring you here. Don't have nothing to do with Isaac
  Bumps; he'll charge you twenty-five cents, and tell you it's a
  mile and a half from the station to my house, but it's only a
  mile, and don't you hear to him, for your Cousin Abijah can't
  come until after the milking, and if the cows are fractious, it
  may make him belated.

                             I am your great-aunt,
                                                  BETSY PARKE.

Marion had previously received a letter from her father, saying,--

  "If you have an invitation from your Aunt Betty to spend
  Thanksgiving with her in Belden, by all means accept it. I want
  you to see the town in which I was born; there is not a mountain
  or a valley there that does not often cover these flat
  prairie-lands with their remembered beauty. As they were a part
  of my boyish life, so are they a part of my man's; and when you
  come home we can talk of them together. I was not born in the
  old farmhouse where your aunt now lives, but my father was, and
  his father, and his father's father, and your Aunt Betty was a
  kind, loving sister to your grandfather long years ago.

  "Go, and write me all about the old home, all about the old
  aunt, and make her forget, if you can, that I would not be a
  farmer."

Before the coming of this letter, Marion had many invitations from her
schoolmates to spend Thanksgiving with them at their homes. Her
room-mates were very urgent that she should go to Rock Cove; and
besides her longing to see that wonderful mysterious thing, the ocean,
she had learned so much of their homes during the weeks they had been
together, that she almost felt as if she knew all the friends there,
and would be sure of a welcome.

But her father's letter left her no choice, and a few cordial lines of
acceptance went from her to her Aunt Betty by the next mail. Of this
decision Miss Ashton heartily approved.

And now began in the school the pleasant bustle which precedes this
holiday vacation. Recitations were gone through by the hardest. Meals
were eaten in indigestible haste; devotional exercises were filled
with "wandering thoughts and worldly affections."

All through the long corridors and out from the open doors came
crowded, eager words of inquiry and consultation. One would have
thought who heard them, that these girls had been close prisoners,
breaking away from a hard, dull life, instead of what most of them
really were, happy girls bound for a frolic.

Miss Ashton heard it all without the least injury to her feelings. She
had heard it for years, and, in truth, was as glad of her vacation as
any of her girls.

A journey alone in a new country, with the beauty of the autumn all
gone, and the rigors of a New England winter already beginning to show
themselves, made Marion, self-reliant as she usually was, not a little
timid as she saw the tall academy building lost behind the hills,
between which the cars were bearing her on to New Hampshire. A
homesick feeling took possession of her, and a dread that she might
find Kate Underwood's tableaux a reality when she should reach her old
aunt in the mountain-girded farmhouse.

Three hours' ride through a bare and uninteresting country brought her
to Belden.

The day was extremely cold here. The snow, which had seemed to her
very deep at Montrose, lay piled up in huge drifts, not a fence nor a
shrub to be seen. All around were spurs of the White Mountains, white,
literally, as she looked up to them, from their base to their summit.
There were great brown trees clinging stiff and frozen to their steep
sides; sharp-pointed rocks, raising their great heads here and there
from among the trees.

Majestic, awful, solemn they looked to this prairie child, as she
stood on the cold platform of the little station gazing up at them.

A voice said behind her, startling her,--

"You'd better come in, marm. It's what we call a terrible cold day for
Thanksgiving week. Come in, and warm you."

Marion turned, to see a man in a buffalo overcoat, with whiskers the
same color as the fur, eyes that looked the same, a big red nose, a
buffalo fur cap pulled well down over his ears, with mittens to
match.

He stood in an open door, to which he gave a little push, as if to
emphasize his invitation.

Inside the ladies' room of the station a red-hot stove sent out a
cheerful welcome. To this the man added stick after stick of dry pine
wood, much to Marion's amusement and comfort, as she watched him.

"Come from down South?" he asked, after he had convinced himself of
the impossibility of crowding in another.

"From the West," said Marion pleasantly.

"You don't say so. You ain't Aunt Betty Parke's niece, now, be ye?"

"I am Marion Parke. Did you know my father?"

"Let me see. Was your father Philip Parke? Phil, we used to call him
when he was a boy, the one that would have an eddication, and went a
home-missionarying after he got chock-full of books. Aunt Betty, she
took it hard. Be he your father?"

"Yes," said Marion, laughing; "he is my father."

"You don't say so, wull, naow, I'm beat. You don't favor him not a
mite; you sarten don't. An' you're here to get an eddication too, be
ye?"

"Yes; that's what I hope to do. I'm sorry it's so cold here; I should
like to walk to my aunt's if it were not."

The man gave a chuckle, which Marion did not at all understand, jammed
the stove full of wood again, and remarked as he crowded in the last
knot,--

"There's your Cousin Abijah; I know his old cowbells a mile off!
Better get warm!"

Marion was hovering close over the stove when the door opened and
Cousin Abijah entered.

"There you be," he called out hilariously as he saw her. "Not froze
nuther! You're clear grit! I told your Aunt Betty so, and she said
'seein' was believin'.' As soon as I've thawed my hands a mite, we'll
be joggin'. Dan, that's the hoss, isn't the safest to drive in the
dark."

The early twilight was already dropping down over the hills before
"the mite of thawing" was done, and then wrapped up in an old blanket
shawl Aunt Betty had sent, and covered by two well-worn buffaloes,
they started.

What a ride it was! Marion will never forget how Dan crawled along up
a mountain road, where the path ran between huge snow-drifts, under
beetling rocks that looked as if an avalanche might at any moment fall
from them and crush horse and riders in the sleigh. Sometimes going
under arches of old pine-trees, the arms of which had met and
interlocked, long, long years ago; up steep declivities, where the
horse seemed almost over their heads, down steep declivities, where
they seemed over the horse's head, never meeting any one, only hearing
the dull moaning of the wind among the forest trees, and the louder
moaning of old Dan, as he toiled painfully along.

At last there came an opening that widened until they crossed the
mountain spur, and the little village of Belden lay before them.

Marion saw a church steeple, a few houses, a sawmill, and great spaces
covered with snow. To one of these houses, on the outskirts of the
village, Cousin Abijah drove. The house was a two-storied old
farmhouse, innocent of paint or blind. There was not a fence round, or
a tree near it. On one side was a wooden well-top, with a long arm
holding an iron-bound bucket above it, the arm swinging from a huge
beam, from which, in its turn, swung two large stones, suspended from
the well-sweep by an iron chain. A well-worn foot-path came from a
back door to it, and on this path stood a yellow dog, nose in air, and
tail beating time on a snow-bank.

It was the only living thing to be seen, and Marion's heart sank
within her. She was cold, tired, and homesick; and she saw at once
that around the small front door, before which Cousin Abijah in his
gallantry had stopped, no footstep had left a mark. The snow-bank
reached to the handle, clung to it, and as absolutely refused
entrance, as did a shrill voice which at once made itself heard, but
from whence Marion could not conjecture. It said, however, "Go round
to the back door! What's good enough for me, is good enough for them
that come to see me!"

[Illustration: "I hope I see you well," said a not unkindly voice, as
Marion stepped out of the sleigh.--Page 143. _Miss Ashton's New Pupil._]



CHAPTER XXII.

AUNT BETTY'S RECEPTION OF HER GUEST.


When the sleigh stopped before the back door, it was slowly opened,
and Marion saw a tall, lank old woman with thin gray hair, small,
faded blue eyes, a long, sharp nose, and thin lips, standing in it.

"I hope I see you well," said a not unkindly voice, and something like
a smile played over the hard old face. A knotty hand was held out
toward her, and when she put hers timidly within it, it drew her into
a large kitchen, where a cooking-stove, that shone like a mirror, sent
out rays of heat even to the open door.

It was like Kate Underwood's "Tableau kitchen," yet how different! It
had such an air of cleanliness and comfort, that everything, even to
the old chairs and tables, the long rows of bright pewter that adorned
a swinging shelf, the hams clothed in spotless bags, hanging from the
old crane in the big chimney, all had a certain air of refinement
which went at once to Marion's heart.

Aunt Betty took off one of the lids of the stove, jammed in all the
wood it could be made to hold, then moved a straw-bottomed chair,
laced and interlaced with twine to keep the broken straw in place,
close to the stove, and motioned Marion to sit down in it.

Then she stood at a little distance looking at her curiously. "You
don't favor the Parkes," she said, after a slow examination. "You look
more like your Aunt Jerushy; she was on my mother's side. Your brown
hair is hern, and your gray eyes; you feature her too. When you're
warm through, you can go up-stairs and lay off your things. I don't
have folks staying with me often, but I'm glad to see you."

This she said with a certain heartiness that went straight to Marion's
heart. She held up her face for a welcoming kiss, and, blushing like a
young girl, Aunt Betty, after a quick look around the room, as if to
be sure no one saw her, bent down, and kissed for the first time in
twenty years.

Then Marion followed her up some steep stairs, leading from the
kitchen to an unfinished room under the rafters. Here everything again
was as neat as wax, but how desolate! An unpainted bedstead of pine
wood, holding a round feather-bed covered with a blue-and-white
homespun bed-quilt; a strip of rag carpet on a floor grown beautiful
from the care bestowed upon it; a small table covered with a homespun
linen towel, a Bible in exactly the middle of it; two old yellow
chairs, and not another thing.

It was lighted by a three-cornered window, which Marion learned
afterward, being over the front door, was considered the one choice
ornament of the house.

In spite of its desolation, its neatness was still a charm to her. It
was, as she knew, the family homestead, and that subtile influence, so
strong yet so indescribable, seemed to her to brood over the room.
Here generation after generation of those whose blood was running now
so blithely through her veins had lived, died, and gone out from it.
Gently reverent she stood on its threshold. Aunt Betty, looking at her
curiously, wondered at her.

It had never been warmed excepting from the heat that had come up from
the kitchen stove. For the first time in her long life, Aunt Betty
found herself wishing there was a chimney and a large air-tight stove
in it; it would be fitter for a young girl like this visitor.

But Marion had been by no means accustomed to luxuries. She made
herself at home at once. She hung her hat upon a nail which was
carefully covered with white cloth to prevent its rusting anything,
and put her valise, not upon the table with the Bible, or on the
clean, blue bed-quilt, but up in a corner by itself.

Aunt Betty watched all these movements, every now and then nodding her
gray head in silent approval.

Then they went back to the kitchen, Marion taking a Greek play with
her to read,--one of Euripides. She had promised herself much pleasure
during this short vacation in finishing the play which her class were
studying at the end of the term.

Aunt Betty, walking back and forth around the kitchen, stopped now and
then at her elbow, and peeped curiously inside the open leaves.

An object of Marion's in taking the book had been to relieve her aunt
of any feeling that she must entertain her; if she had been older and
wiser she would have seen her mistake.

She was trying to puzzle out a line of the chorus, when a voice said
close to her ear,--

"Be that a Bible you are readin'?"

Marion gave a little start, certainly there was nothing very
Scriptural in the play.

"No-o-o," she stammered; "it's a Greek play, a--a tragedy."

"A tragedy! you don't read none of them wicked things!" severely.

"Why, yes, auntie, when they come in the course of my study. It's in
Greek!"

"Greek! and you're a gal! Your father allers was cracked about it, but
this beats all!"

Marion failed to see it in just that light, but she said pleasantly,
"I'll put it away if it troubles you."

A long arm pointed up-stairs, and Marion followed its direction.

When she came down, it seemed to Aunt Betty, in spite of her
displeasure, that the rays of sunlight that were glimmering so faintly
at the head of the stairs came down with her and lighted up the dingy
old kitchen.

"Now give me something to do," said Marion dancing up to her with one
of the prettiest steps she had learned at the academy. "It's
Thanksgiving, you know, to-morrow, and we have such lots and lots to
do at home; there's pies and puddings and cakes and a big turkey to
prepare, and a chicken pie, and nuts to crack, and apples to rub until
you can see your face in them."

Aunt Betty's mouth and eyes opened as wide as they could for the
wrinkles that held them while Marion told of the festival dinner, then
she looked down at Marion's feet, and, not satisfied with the glimpse
she caught of a pair of little boots, she lifted Marion's dress, then
asked,--

"Be you lame?"

At first Marion was puzzled, then she remembered how she had danced
into the room, so, with a merry peal of laughter, instead of
answering, off she went into a series of _pirouettes_ that might have
astonished more accustomed eyes than those of her old Aunt Betty.

When she had danced herself out of breath she said, "Does that look
like being lame? Better set me at work and let me use my feet to some
more useful purpose!"

So still and stiff Aunt Betty stood that Marion could hardly restrain
herself from catching hold of her and whirling her around in a
waltz.

But fortunately she did not, for the first words her aunt said
were,--

"Do you have Satan for a principal at your school, Marion Parke?"

"Satan! Why, auntie, we have Miss Ashton, and she's the loveliest
Christian lady you ever saw. We girls think she is almost an angel! Do
you think it's wicked to dance?"

"Sartain I do;" and the shake of Aunt Betty's gray head left no doubt
she was in earnest.

"Then I'll not dance while I am here," and Marion sat herself down
demurely in the nearest chair.

Aunt Betty looked at the big clock in the corner of the kitchen. The
early dark was already creeping into the room, hiding itself under
table and chair, showing the light of the isinglass doors of the
cooking-stove with a fitful radiance, making Marion lonely and
homesick, for you could hear the clock tick, the room was so still.
Then Aunt Betty lighted two yellow tallow candles that stood in iron
candlesticks on the mantel-shelf, put up a leaf of the kitchen table,
covered it with a clean homespun cloth, put upon it two blue delft
plates and cups, a "chunk" of cold boiled pork, a bowl of cider
apple-sauce, a loaf of snow-white bread, and a plate of doughnuts.

"Come to supper!" she said, and Marion went. How hungry she was, and
how good everything, even the cold boiled pork, looked, she will not
soon forget!

Before they seated themselves, Aunt Betty stood at the back of her
chair, and, leaning on its upper round with her eyes fixed on the
pork, she said,--

"For all our vittles and other marcies we thank Thee."

Marion, when she became aware of what was taking place, bowed her head
reverently; but when she raised it she could not conceal the smile
that played around her mouth.

She did not know this was the same grace which had been said over that
table for one hundred and twenty years; yet it made her feel more at
home, and she began to chat with her quaint old relative in her
pleasant way, telling her of her home, of their daily life there, of
the good her father was doing, and how every one loved and respected
him.

Aunt Betty listened in silence, only now and then uttering a grunt,
which, whether it was commendatory or condemnatory, Marion could not
tell. It was a long, dull evening that followed. At eight, one of the
tallow candles, much to her joy, lighted Marion to her bed.



CHAPTER XXIII.

THE ACADEMY GIRL'S THANKSGIVING AT THE OLD HOMESTEAD.


Marion never knew that shortly after she fell asleep a tall, gaunt
woman with a gray-and-white blanket over her shoulders stole softly
into her room, holding her candle high above her bed, and standing
over, peered down at her.

As she gazed, a half-smile crept into her rugged face. "Pretty
creatur!" she said aloud; then, with deft and careful fingers she
tucked the bed-clothes close around the sleeping girl, smiled broadly,
and crept out.

The next morning when Marion waked, through the odd little oriel
window the late winter light was struggling fitfully in. At first she
could not tell where she was: the rafters over her head, the bare
white walls that surrounded her, the blue-and-white homespun quilt
that covered her, were unlike any thing she had ever seen before.

She was on her feet in a moment, half frightened at the dim light. Had
another night come? Had she slept over Thanksgiving?

When she went to the kitchen, Aunt Betty was there busy over the
cooking-stove. She was about making an apology for her lateness, but
she was interrupted by,--

"'Taint never too late to pray; you may read the Bible." She pointed
without another word to the old family Bible. Marion took it, opened
it slowly, waiting to be told where to read.

"Thanksgiving," said Aunt Betty briefly.

"It's all Thanksgiving my father says. He thinks the Bible was given
us to make us happy."

"Thirty-fourth Psalm, then," and a quiet look came into the old seamed
face.

When Marion had read it, her aunt rose from her chair, stepped behind
it, tilted it on its front legs, and folding her hands on its top
began to pray.

Like the grace at table, it was the same old prayer that had gone up
from that same old kitchen for one hundred and twenty years. Its
quaint simplicity was a marvel to the young girl who listened, but a
breath of its devotion reached and touched her heart.

Then followed breakfast. Marion wondered, as they two sat at the table
alone, how the old aunt could have borne the loneliness for so many
long years.

To her, on her first Thanksgiving away from her cheerful home, there
was something positively uncanny in the silence which settled down
over the house; even the old yellow dog, with his nose between his
front paws, slept soundly, and the great red rooster that had lighted
upon the forked stick that before the back door had held the farm
milk-pails for more than a century, instead of calling for his
Thanksgiving breakfast, as orthodox New England roosters are expected
to do, just flapped his wings lazily, and turned a much becombed head
imploringly toward the kitchen window.

What was to be done with the long, dull festival day? Marion may be
forgiven if she cast many longing thoughts back to the academy, to the
pleasant bustle that filled the long corridors, the merry laughs of
the girls, the endless chatter, the coming and the going that seemed
to her never to cease. She was homesick to see Miss Ashton, her
room-mates, and Helen, over whose daily life she had already installed
herself as responsible for its comforts and its pleasures, and who,
homeless and poor, remained almost by herself in the great empty
building.

She was not, however, left long in doubt as to the day's occupations.
Hardly had the breakfast dishes been put away, when Aunt Betty
said,--

"Meetin' begins at ten. We hain't got no bell, and we'll start in
season. You can put on your things."

The clock said nine; meeting began at ten. Five minutes were all she
needed for preparation. Here was time for a few lines at least of that
Greek tragedy. She had read one line, when the door opened, and there
stood Aunt Betty.

"Listen, Aunt Betty!" she said. "Hear how soft these words are." Then
she rattled off line after line of the chorus. This is Greek, she
said, pausing to take breath. "Listen! I will translate for you."

She carried her book to the oriel window, so the light would fall more
clearly on its page, and began,--

             "Before the mirror's golden round,
             Curious my braided hair I bound,
                Adjusted for the night;
             And now, disrobed, for rest prepared,
             Sudden tumultuous cries are heard,
                And shrieks of wild affright.
             Grecians to Grecians shouting call,
             'Now let the haughty city fall;
             In dust her towers, her rampiers lay,
             And bear triumphant her rich spoils away.'"

"Doesn't that roll along sublimely? Can't you hear the cries and the
shouts of the Grecian host?"

"I can hear Marion Parke making a fool of herself. Be you, or be you
not, goin' to meetin' with me?"

"Meeting? Why, of course I am. I wouldn't miss it for anything. I'll
be ready in half a minute. Will you?"

Aunt Betty, in her short black skirt, her old gray sack, and her heavy
shoes, did not make much of a holiday appearance. Something of this
crept slowly into her brain as she looked down, so she turned quickly,
and went away without another word.

Marion gave some girl-like twists to her brown hair, pinned a gay
scarlet bow to the neck of her sack, and, looking fresh and pretty as
a rosebud, went to the kitchen, where she had to wait some time before
Aunt Betty made her appearance.

Cousin Abijah had brought the old horse and sleigh round to the back
door. Here a long slanting roof ran down to the lintel of the door,
and up to the plain cornice snow-drifts lay piled. What a winter scene
it was! Marion, never having seen the like before, gazed at it in
wondering admiration.

When Aunt Betty and Marion started for the village meeting-house, the
thermometer was fifteen degrees below zero.

Aunt Betty took a rein in each hand, and as soon as the snow-banks
bordering the narrow path to the road were safely passed, began a
series of jerks at the horse's mouth, which Dan perfectly well
understood, too well, indeed, to allow himself to be hurried in the
least.

                   "One foot up, and one foot down,
                   That's the way to Lunnon town,"

laughed Marion when they had gone a few rods.

"Klick! Klick!" with more decisive tugs from Dan's mistress; but the
"Klicks," as well as the tugs, were of no avail, and Marion, afraid to
venture another comment, turned her eyes from the horse to the scenery
around her.

Notwithstanding the extreme cold, the ride to the little meeting-house
Marion will never forget. When she left the farmhouse it seemed to her
a short walk would bring her to the foot of the snow-clad mountains;
but, to her surprise, when they reached the church they were towering
up above the small village like huge sentinels, so still, so grand,
that, hardly conscious she was speaking aloud, Marion said,--

"I never knew before what it meant in the Bible where it says, 'The
strength of the hills is his also.' Wonderful! wonderful!"

"Eh?" asked Aunt Betty, only a dim comprehension of what Marion meant
having crept in beneath the big red hood that covered her head.

Marion repeated the verse, and to her surprise her aunt answered it
with, "'Who art thou, O great mountain? Before Zerubbabel thou shalt
become a plain: and he shall bring forth the headstone thereof with
shoutings, crying grace! grace unto it.'" Not a word did she offer in
explanation; she only twitched the horse's head more emphatically, and
did not speak again until she reached the meeting-house door.

What a desolate-looking audience-room it was! Up in one corner roared
a big iron stove, which, do its best, failed to warm but a few feet of
the spaces around it. A gray-bearded minister in his overcoat was
reading from the pulpit a hymn, as they went in, and a dozen people,
most of them men, were scattered round in the bare pews.

They all looked pleased to see an addition to their number, and some
nodded to Aunt Betty; all stared at the new-comer.

There was no sermon, but a short address, which Marion strove to
remember, that she might repeat it to her father, as having come from
the old pulpit before which he had worshipped as a boy; but, do her
best to be attentive and decorous, her teeth chattered, and the "Amen"
was to her the most interesting part of the services.

The ride home was even colder than the one to the meeting; for a brisk
north-east wind had risen, and came howling down from the mountains in
strong, long gusts that betokened a coming storm.

Dan obstinately refused to move one foot faster than he chose, and
before they reached home they were thoroughly and, indeed, dangerously
benumbed with the cold.

Little thought had they of Thanksgiving, as they clung to the warm
stove and listened to the rising of the wind. It was Marion who first
remembered the day, and looked about for some way of keeping it. Poor,
pinched, half-frozen Aunt Betty had entirely forgotten it.

Now Marion made herself perfectly at home. She found old-fashioned
china that would have been held precious in many houses, decorating
with it the table in a deft and tasteful way that warmed lonely Aunt
Betty's heart, as she watched her, more than the blazing fire could;
and while she worked, she talked, or sang little snatches of college
songs learned at school, which rippled out in her rich voice with a
melody never heard in the old farmhouse before.

It was not long before Aunt Betty came to her help, and such a
bountiful dinner as she had prepared made Marion wish over and over
again that Helen, alone in that large academy building, could have
been there to share it with her.

"Thanksgiving night!" Marion kept saying this to herself over and over
again, as she sat alone with Aunt Betty over the kitchen stove.

A little oblong light stand was drawn up between them, holding a small
kerosene lamp. Not a book but the Bible, and a copy of the Farmer's
Almanac suspended by a string from the corner of the mantel, was to be
seen. Marion, having heard so much of the intelligence of the New
Hampshire farmers, supposed of course there would be a library in the
house, and had brought only her Greek Tragedy with her. This she did
not dare open again, so there she sat, Aunt Betty, not having yet
entirely recovered from the effects of her cold ride, alternately
nodding and rousing herself to a vain effort to keep her eyes open.
And all the time the storm was increasing, the wind rocking the house
with its rough blasts, until it seemed to utter loud groans, and the
sharp cold snapping and cracking the shaking timbers with short
volleys of sound like gun-shots. Frightened mice scurried about in the
low roof over the kitchen; and rats, lonely rats, seeking company,
came to the top of the cellar stairs, pushing the door open with their
pointed noses, and blinking in beseechingly with their big round
eyes.

Marion, who had never heard anything of the kind before, was really
frightened.

"O Aunt Betty," she said piteously, "do, please, wake up and tell me
if there are ghosts here!"

Aunt Betty just stared at her; she was wide awake now.

"There are such dreadful noises, and such mice, and--and rats!"

"Nonsense!" said Aunt Betty, listening. "Don't be a coward! It's only
the storm."

"It's fearful! What can we do?"

"Pop corn!"

Marion could not help laughing at the inconsequent answer; but
anything was better than the noisy stillness of the last hour, and
bringing a large brass warming-pan and some corn, they were soon busy
popping the corn.

It would have been difficult to say which of the two enjoyed the sport
the most. It carried Marion home, where the family were all gathered
together before the brisk fire in the cheerful sitting-room. Aunt
Betty was young again. Nat and Sam, Bertha and Molly, and little Ruth
filled the big, empty kitchen, laughed merrily over the crackling
corn, held out small hands to catch it as the cover swung back, pelted
each other with it till the spotless floor crunched beneath their
dancing feet. It had been long years since they had come home to her
before on Thanksgiving night, but here they were now, all evoked by
Marion's glad youth.

The moment the old clock struck nine, warming-pan, corn, and dishes
vanished from sight.

A long tallow-dip Aunt Betty held out to Marion, and pointed
up-stairs.

Marion obeyed; and though all night long the wind howled, the mice and
the rats held high carnival, Marion slept soundly, and never knew
that Aunt Betty, with her candle held high above her head, made
another visit to her bedside, and there, bending her old knees,
offered up her simple prayer, asking in much faith and love God's
blessing on this new-found niece.



CHAPTER XXIV.

MARION'S REPENTANCE.


No time had been mentioned for the continuance of Marion's visit; and
coming as she had from the busy life of the school, where every minute
had its allotted task, Thanksgiving week was hardly over before she
began to be very homesick. In vain she strove against it, and by every
pleasant device in her power tried to make her visit pleasant to her
aunt. Even the short November days seemed to her endless, and the
evenings had only the early bedtime to make them endurable.

On her first coming, she had told Aunt Betty the day the vacation was
over, and evidently she was expected to stay until then; but on the
morning of the seventh day she became desperate, and for want of any
other excuse hit upon one that would be most displeasing to her aunt.

"You don't like to have me study my Greek here, Aunt Betty," she said;
"and, as I must review it before the term begins, I think I had better
go back now."

Aunt Betty put her steel-bowed spectacles high up on her nose, and,
after looking at her silently for a moment, said,--

"I don't take no stock in your Greek."

Marion laughed good-naturedly. "If you only would let me read it to
you," she said, "you would like it as well as I do; it's so soft and
beautiful."

"What's the matter with your Bible? Isn't that good enough for you?"

"But, Aunt Betty, you don't understand."

But Aunt Betty did understand enough to be very sure she did not want
Marion to go, so she turned abruptly on her heel, and hid herself in
the depths of the pantry.

Marion stood for a moment undecided what to do, then, seeing that if
she would go that day she had very little time to lose, she went
up-stairs, packed her valise, and the next time she saw her aunt was
ready for her journey back.

The prospect of a mile walk through the half-broken roads, up steep
hills, and down into drifted valleys, would have shown Marion the
difficulties had she been a New Englander; but as she was not, her
courage did not fail in the least when, without a word more, or any
sign of a good-by from Aunt Betty, she opened the door, letting in a
cold she was a stranger to, and went out into it.

Of that walk she never liked to speak afterwards. Many times she
stopped, almost but not quite willing to return; tired, half-frozen,
and unhappy that her rest had terminated unpleasantly, yet so very,
very homesick that she seemed driven on to the station,--if to reach
it were a possibility.

Fortunately for her, when she had reached the last half she was
overtaken by a man driving an empty wood-cart, who stopped and asked
her if she "didn't want a lift?" From what this saved her, no one
could ever know.

In the mean time, Aunt Betty, with her eyes dimmed--but she did not
know it was by tears--had watched her through a slit in a green paper
window-shade.

Until she left the door, she did not believe she could do so foolish a
thing as to attempt the walk to the station on such a morning; but
when she saw her step off so courageously down the narrow foot-path,
she began to have misgivings.

Notwithstanding her tears, the sight seemed to harden instead of
soften her heart. "If the gal will go, go she will," she said aloud,
with some unforgiving wags of her head. "She's stuck full of obstinacy
as her father was afore her." And by this time Marion was hidden from
her sight by the deep snow-banks, and she turned from the window into
her lonely kitchen with a heavy heart.

Marion, safely back in the academy, had, like Aunt Betty, her own
troubled thoughts.

She found only Helen there among the scholars, and every teacher away
but Miss Ashton, who evidently had not expected her back so soon.

Regular school duties did not begin until Tuesday of the next week,
and now it was only Wednesday night. She might have remained in Belden
a day or two longer, and then left with her aunt's approval.

What kind of a return had she made to her aunt for her kindness?

Marion's room, that she had thought of with so much longing as she sat
in the farm kitchen, had lost its charm. She was very willing to
believe it was because her room-mates were not there, and the fast
falling darkness prevented her from seeing from her window the winter
view, which even the grand old mountains that she had left behind her
did not make her value less.

Self-deception was not one of Marion's faults; she grew so quickly
regretful for what had happened, that when Miss Ashton came to her
door, troubled by the girl's tired look on her arrival, she found her
with red eyes and a swollen face.

"Tell me all about it," she said, taking no notice of her tears, but
turning up the gas to make the room more cheerful.

"What has gone wrong? Wasn't your aunt glad to see you? Are you sick?
Fancy I am mother, and tell me the whole story."

She took Marion's hand in hers, drew the young girl close to her, and
stroked the bonnie brown hair with a loving mother's touch.

"It's all my blame," said Marion, her voice trembling as she spoke.
"My aunt was as kind as she could be, but it was so lonely, and"--with
a smile now--"so noisy there."

"Noisy!" repeated Miss Ashton.

"Yes, ma'am; there were ghosts and rats and mice; the very house
groaned and shook, and the wind came howling down from the mountains,
and all the windows rattled."

Miss Ashton only laughed; but when Marion went on to tell the story of
her leaving the house against her aunt's wishes, she looked very
sober.

She had no knowledge of Aunt Betty's circumstances, surroundings, or
character, but she knew well the nature of country roads during a New
England winter. She thought from Marion's own account that her
homesickness had made her obstinate and unreasonable, and that her
coming away must have been a source of anxiety to her aunt, while she
was unable to prevent it.

"Marion," she said at last, "didn't you think more of yourself than of
your aunt?"

"Yes, ma'am," said Marion unhesitatingly.

"And to be selfish is always?"

"Mean. Don't say another word please, Miss Ashton."

"I am sure, Marion, in the future you will be more careful. It is such
an easy thing to wound and worry those about whom we should always be
thoughtful. If I were you, I would not let a mail go out without
carrying a note to your aunt, telling her of your safe arrival here,
and of your regrets for what has happened. It's always a noble thing
to say 'I'm sorry,' when one has done wrong."

The next mail took the following letter:--

  MY DEAR AUNT,--I am going to write you to-night, to tell you two
  things. One is, that I am safely back again at the academy, and
  the other, that I think it was both inconsiderate and unkind for
  me to leave you as I did, when I saw you thought I had better
  stay with you. I am ashamed and grieved that I did not do as you
  wanted me to. I hope most sincerely you will forgive me and
  forget it.

  I cannot easily forgive myself, and I am sure I shall never
  forget all your kindness to me, or the nice time we had with the
  bright warming-pan and the crisp pop-corn, or the wonderful
  mountains all wrapped in their ermine mantles.

           Please forgive, and love your ashamed niece,
                                                   MARION PARKE.

Aunt Betty's correspondence amounted sometimes to two letters a year,
so this penitent letter of Marion's remained in the post-office until
the postmaster found a chance to send it to her. By that time, what
she had suffered from anxiety had made her unable to cope with the
perils of the winter before her, and she often said to the few
visitors who came in to see her, "I've dropped a stitch I can never
take up again," but never a word of blame for Marion did she speak;
indeed, she had come to love the young girl so well, that it is
doubtful whether, even in her heart, she harbored one hard thought
toward her.

The letter finished, Marion's conscience gave her less uneasiness. No
thought had she of the suffering her selfish action had occasioned.
The visit had, after all, many pleasant memories, and for her only
beneficial results. There had come to her from her repentance and Miss
Ashton's kind reproof, a lesson, if not new, at least impressive, of
the necessity of thinking of others more than of one's self.

She could not see her Greek Tragedy without a smile, indeed, she went
so far as sometimes to think that its reception in the old kitchen of
the farmhouse had given her a greater avidity for its study.

On the whole, this winter visit was by no means a lost one; and when
Saturday brought more of the scholars back, and the term began, she
was fully ready for it.

On Sunday morning Nellie, feeling lonely and sick, had come to
Marion's room. Marion made a nice bed for her on her sofa, and sat by
her side bathing her hot, aching head, now and then reading to her.

Toward night she complained of her throat; fearing Miss Ashton would
send her to the nurse if she were told of it, she would not let Marion
go to her, but begged to stay where she was so piteously that Marion
gladly consented, asking leave of the teacher, but not mentioning
Nellie's sickness.

The consequence was, that the disease progressed rapidly, and when
morning came she was too sick even to object to the nurse, who,
surprised and bewildered, sent for Miss Ashton at once.

Dr. Dawson, the physician of twenty years' academical sickness, being
summoned, pronounced it a case of diphtheria, and ordered Nellie's
removal to the rooms used as a hospital, and Marion's separation from
the rest of the school, as she had been exposed to the same disease.



CHAPTER XXV.

DIPHTHERIA.


On Tuesday the regular exercises of the day were to begin. All day
Monday, carriage after carriage came driving up to the academy,
depositing their loads of freight,--excited girls full of the
freshness and pleasure gathered from their brief holiday. The long
corridors were merry with affectionate osculations. Light, happy
laughs danced out from rosy lips, and arms were twined and intertwined
in the loving clasp of young girls. So much to tell! So much to hear!
Miss Ashton, welcoming the coming groups, called it a "Thanksgiving
Pandemonium;" but she enjoyed it quite as much as any of the rioters.
In the evening, when they were all together in the large parlor, she
turned the gathering into a pleasant party, helped to fill it with fun
and frolic, and sent even the most homesick to their rooms with smiles
instead of tears.

Not a word had been said of Nellie Blair's sickness. There is no place
where a panic is more easily started and harder to control than in a
girls' school; nor is there any cause that will so surely awaken it as
a case of diphtheria. Its acute suffering, its often sudden end, its
contagiousness, all combine to make it the most dreaded of diseases.

Some reason had to be given, of course, for the condition in which
Marion's room-mates found their room on their arrival, also for
Marion's removal. Miss Ashton had guardedly told them the truth, with
the strictest request that they should keep it to themselves; but, in
spite of her injunction, that night after the party broke up, there
was not a girl in the hall who did not know and who was not alarmed by
Nellie's sickness.

Anxious groups gathered together in the corridors and discussed it.
Some fled to their rooms and wrote hurried notes home, asking for
leave to come back at once. The panic had begun, augmented beyond
doubt by the excitement consequent on the return. Miss Ashton was
besieged by girls, all anxious to know the exact state of the case,
and not a few clamoring for leave to go away, even that very night,
from the contagion.

Had she any less influence over this frightened crowd, or they any
less trust in her wisdom and kindness, half of the rooms would have
been empty before morning; but, as it was, simply by telling them the
truth, that Nellie had diphtheria, but that the doctor said that it
was not a malignant case, and that there was not the slightest danger
of its spreading, with even ordinary care, she succeeded in so far
quieting their fears that they went to their rooms, though, if she had
only known it, to discuss with even more excitement than they had
shown to her the dreadful possibilities before them.

One girl actually stole out at midnight and, hurrying through the cold
and darkness, went to the house of a cousin who lived near by, waking
and alarming the family in a way that they found hard to forgive, and
taking by this exposure so severe a cold that, serious lung symptoms
developing, she was sent home, and her academical course ended. The
next morning when the school gathered in the chapel, they found Dr.
Dawson on the stage.

After the preliminary exercises were over, he rose, and said,--

"Young ladies, I understand you have taken fright on account of the
case of diphtheria that is occurring here. I am an old man, as you
see, and have had a hundred, perhaps five hundred cases as like this
as two peas in a pod." (He stopped, expecting a smile at least for his
homely comparison, but every face was as sober as if he had come to
sound a death-knell.) "Miss Blair _is_ sick, I might say is _very_
sick, but I am not in the least anxious about her, or about any of
you. Under ordinary circumstances, and I consider these very ordinary,
I think there is not any probability of another case in the house.

"Take an old physician's advice. Stay where you are, go promptly and
faithfully about your regular duties, don't mention the word
diphtheria, and don't think of it. If I were a life-insurance agent, I
would insure those of you who obeyed my injunctions for half the
premium that I would those who worry over this, or run away. Again I
say, go faithfully about your ordinary duties, and all of you"
(dropping his voice into solemn tones now) "ask God to be with and
protect you, and restore to you your sick companion."

Then he took up his hat and marched down through the long,
girl-bordered aisle, smiling and nodding to those he knew as he went.

On the whole, his speech did little to allay the panic. He had not
only allowed that Nellie was _very_ sick, but he had talked about
"life-insurance," and asking God for protection. Qualms of fear
followed him as he went. Miss Ashton understood the assembly better
than the wise physician, and before he had closed the door she
regretted that she had asked him to address them.

One part of his advice, however, was sound; that regarding to the
scholars at once resuming their work, and putting diphtheria out of
conversation and mind. If only good advice could or would always be
taken, what a different world it would be!

Fortunately here, among these two hundred girls, there were leaders
both sensible and trusted, who did follow the doctor's advice, went at
once about their studies, and ably seconded the exertions of the
teachers to resume the usual routine of work.

Among the most prominent of these was Dorothy Ottley. She had that
indescribable moral power over the girls which comes, and one is
tempted to say comes only, from a consistent, faithful, gentle,
loving character. She did not draw to herself that impulsive love
which is here to-day and gone to-morrow, so common among girls; but if
any were sad or sick or in trouble they instinctively sought Dorothy,
and they always found in her what they needed.

She was plain looking; her sea-browned face, her thin, light hair that
wind and wave had bleached, the pathetic look that years of a hard
life had stamped upon her, could not conceal, could not even dim, the
strong, true soul that looked out of her gray eye, or change the
effect of the honest words her lips always spoke. Now, wherever she
went, the girls clustered around her, followed her example in prompt
attendance on the regular duties, and somehow, no one could have told
you just how, felt safer that she was there.

Marion, Miss Ashton kept from among them. If she had been exposed to
the disease from Nellie's being with her, it might be best not to
allow her to mingle with the others; besides, they would shun her, and
that Marion would find hard to bear. As it was not known except to her
room-mates that she had returned from her vacation, this was easy to
do; and so in the pleasant guest-room Marion went on with her studies
without a fear of diphtheria, only thinking of, and anxious for, the
sick friend.

It was Gladys who began the series of attentions that on the second
day filled Nellie's room with gifts of flowers, of fruit, of books,
even of candy and pretty toys, which the girls had already begun to
gather for the coming Christmas. Miss Mason, the trained nurse, was
kept busy at certain hours answering the teacher's knock who brought
the gifts and the accompanying love,--and Nellie, poor Nellie,
struggling with the pain and the uncertainty, was cheered and helped
by loving attentions given to her for the first time in her desolate
life.

Miss Ashton, hearing every hour from the sickroom, shared in the cheer
and the help; there was a reward to her in this proof of the
tenderness and generosity of that wonderful woman's nature she had
made it her life's work to develop and train.

Each day there was a bulletin put up in the hall, stating Nellie's
condition. It was always cheerful. Miss Ashton wrote,--

  "Nellie is cross this morning. Dr. Dawson pronounces it the best
  symptom he has seen since she was taken sick."

  "Nellie has asked for a piece of that mince-pie one of you sent
  her. Nurse says, 'No,' but looks much pleased at the request."

  "Rejoicing in the hospital! a decided improvement in Nellie."

  "Nellie teases to sit up."

  "Nellie lifted onto the sofa! Dressed in my old blue wrapper!
  Looks white and funny."

  "Nellie sends her love and thanks to all her kind, kind
  friends."

  "Nellie teasing to see Marion Parke."

  "Nellie pronounced out of danger."

  "Nellie removed to Mrs. Gaston's, where she will stay until she
  is strong enough to resume her studies. Sends love and thanks."

The next day there were rumors around the school that Marion Parke,
who had been missed by this time, and accounted for, was taken sick
with diphtheria, and was much worse than Nellie had ever been.

Now, of course, the panic began anew; and as many of the girls had
written home and obtained leave to return, more than that, commands to
do so, as the sick girl's case was contagious, Miss Ashton found all
her trouble renewed.

She had been besieged with letters from anxious parents, charging her
not to trifle with their children's lives, but by all means to send
them home at once if there was the least real danger; so now she had
no hesitation in letting those go who wished, indeed it was a relief
to her to have the number of her school smaller, and the anxiety
lessened; but now it was only a scare. Marion did have a sore throat,
but it was one which comes often with an ordinary cold, and Dr. Dawson
laughed at it, gave her some slight medicines, and scolded Miss Ashton
for having separated her so long from the girls.

The girls gave her a wide berth, but for this Miss Ashton had prepared
her, and Marion was more amused than hurt by it.

Before a week had passed, the four room-mates were together in their
old rooms, and Marion was made a heroine. All she had done for Nellie
was exaggerated, with that generous exaggeration of which girls are so
capable.

After all, this diphtheritic episode had only been injurious to the
school inasmuch as it had broken into the regular routine, and thrown
hindrances into the completion of work which was expected to be done
before the coming on of the long holiday vacation.

That Christmas and New Year's came so soon after Thanksgiving was
something for the teachers to deplore; but as they were in no way
responsible for it, and as indeed Christmas was a religious holiday,
well in keeping with the _animus_ of the institution, they met it
heartily, the more so than usual this year, as they hoped, the
vacation over, to resume the regular course, both in study and
discipline, without any further interruption.



CHAPTER XXVI.

CHRISTMAS COMING.


The Demosthenic Club had received two severe setbacks since its
organization. One when Kate Underwood's tableaux fell under Miss
Ashton's displeasure on account of the carelessness it had shown in
injuring, for fun's sake, the feelings of a schoolmate; the other when
members of the club had been guilty of a flagrant breach of the rules,
by the stolen sleigh-ride with the Atherton boys.

"In spite of it all," Kate Underwood said, "we will just change its
name, and go on as if nothing had happened. We are to be now the
'Never Say Die Club.' Vote on it, girls."

The new name was adopted by acclamation, and several other votes were
carried at the same time, all in favor of law and order, showing how
truly these girls had meant to keep the promises they had made in
their extremity to Miss Ashton, to be law-abiding members of the
school.

They held their secret meetings as often and as secretly as their
constitution demanded; they discussed all questions that the interests
of the times suggested. If they had a spread, it was before study
hours, and with unlocked doors. On the whole, Jenny Barton, Kate
Underwood, and Mamie Smythe took the lessons they had received into
good, honest hearts, and grew, by the many resisted temptations which
were born of the secrecy of their club, into better, nobler
characters.

Miss Ashton, watching them with vigilant eyes, marked the improvement,
and showed her value of it by greater confidence in its leading
members.

There was an important meeting to be held a week before the breaking
up for the Christmas vacation. It was to be in Lilly White's room,
where, indeed, most of their meetings were held, for Lilly had a room
by herself, richly furnished, this being the only inducement her
parents could offer her, that made her consent to the fearful ordeal
of a few years at school,--to be dull and to be wealthy! Who would
desire it for any child?

"You understand," said President Jenny Barton, after the meeting was
called to order, "that this is to be no common affair. It's to be,
well! it's to be a sort of atonement for--well, for those other
affairs; and, girls, if we do anything about it, let's do it up
handsome. What do you say?"

"Do it jist illigant, or let it alone," said Mamie Smythe.

"Jist illigant!" repeated one member of the club after another, until
the president said,--

"Motioned, and carried. Now for our plan. Keep it a profound
secret!"

Such a busy place as the academy became now, probably had its
counterpart in every girls' boarding-school all over the length and
breadth of our land.

Where there is good discipline and good scholarship, neither the rules
nor the lessons are allowed to be slighted; but as December days
shorten, and December cold strengthens, even the most indolent pupil
finds herself under a certain stress of occupation which she cannot
resist.

Shirking can find no place in the recitation-room. Moments that have
been idled away now become precious, each one laden with its weight of
some loving remembrance to be made for the dear ones at home.

Such treasures of delicate silks, laces, plushes, velvets, ribbons,
embroideries, card-boards, tassels, cords, gilt in every shape and
capable of every use; such pretty gift-books, booklets, cards,
afghans, sofa-pillows, head-rests; such wonders of ingenuity in
working up places for thermometers, putting them in dust-pans, tying
them onto bread-rollers, slipping them behind wonderful clusters of
sweet painted flowers; such pen-wipers, such blotters, work-baskets,
paper-baskets, bureau coverings, bureau mats! napery of all varieties;
and, after all, this enumeration is but the beginning of what in
Montrose Academy was hidden in drawers, stowed away in most impossible
and impracticable places, yet always ready to the hand for a spare
moment. Two hundred girls,--for by this time most of the diphtheritic
runaways had returned,--and all, without an exception, were Christmas
busy! Christmas crazy! What a changed place it made of the school!

Benedictions on the hallowed holiday! If we put aside its religious
bearing, think of it only as a time when heart goes out to heart, even
the most selfish of us all will remember to show our love in a visible
token of affection.

If, with all this, we can make our offerings hallowed by a tenderer
love and a deeper affection for Him in whose honor the whole world
keeps the festival, then, indeed, the day becomes to us the most
blessed and beautiful of our lives!

Marion Parke saw it as it was kept here in an entirely new way. At her
Western home, her father had made it a day of religious observance.
Marion had always been leader in trimming their church with the pretty
greens which their mild winter spared to them, and on Christmas Sunday
they sang Christmas hymns, and listened to a Christmas sermon. On
Christmas Eve they had a Christmas-tree, and hung it with such useful
gifts as their necessities demanded and a small purse could provide.
It was a happy, precious day, simply and heartily kept; but here she
was lost in wonder, as she was called from room to room to see the
rare and beautiful gifts which, it seemed to her, abounded everywhere.
Money to purchase such things for herself to give away she had not,
but she watched her room-mates, as they deftly prepared their gifts
for their Rock Cove homes, with delight.

How busy and happy they were! Sometimes Marion's longing to send
something, if only a little remembrance, home brought the tears into
her eyes.

Gladys was the first to see this and to guess its cause. At once she
began to purchase new silks, trimmings of all kinds, booklets, cards,
increasing her store, until even her cousins, accustomed as they were
to her fitful extravagances, wondered at her.

When her drawers, never too orderly, began to assume a chaotic
appearance, she said fretfully one morning to Marion Parke, who was
looking and laughing at the chaos,--

"I should think, instead of laughing at me, it would be a great deal
better natured in you to help me put them into some kind of order.
Your drawer isn't half full. Look here! open it, and let me tuck some
of these duds in."

Marion opened hers, pushed the few things it contained carefully into
a corner, and said,--

"You are very welcome to all the room you want. Remember, I am only
here on sufferance; it is really all yours."

"Nonsense! help me, can't you? I shall pitch them in any way, and you
are so tidy!"

Help her Marion did, and when the jumbled but valuable contents of the
drawer were all transferred, Gladys shut it up with a gleeful laugh.

"Oh, how splendid it is," she said, "to have the drawer clean and
clear again! Never one of those duds is going back, and you can use
them or throw them away; put them in a rag-bag if you want to; I've
nothing more to do with them."

Then Sue and Dorothy understood what the extravagance meant, but
Marion did not; she only stood still, staring at Gladys, wondering
what she could have said or done to vex her kind-hearted room-mate.
And it was not until hours afterward, when she was alone with Dorothy,
and Dorothy told her they were gifts to her, that she knew how rich in
Christmas treasures she had suddenly become.

And here it is pleasant to tell, that this was only one of Gladys's
thoughtful kindnesses. Little bundles of similar gifts were constantly
going from her to the doors of the girls whose small means made
Christmas presents luxuries in which they could not indulge. Even
Gladys's liberal father wondered often over the amount of money which
she wished for these holidays; but he trusted her, and in truth felt
proud and glad that this only child had a noble, generous nature,
which could, and did, think of others more than of herself; for in the
account which she always sent him of the expenditure of these moneys,
while there were many "give aways," there were few dollars spent on
herself.

One day, in the regular mail-bag, there came this note to Miss
Ashton:--

  We, the undersigned, grateful for the undeserved kindnesses with
  which you have made our repentant days so happy, request the
  pleasure of your company in the parlor, Tuesday evening,
  December 22.

  JENNY BARTON,        SOPHY KANE,
  KATE UNDERWOOD,      MAMIE SMYTHE,
  LUCY SNOW,           LILLY WHITE,
  MARTHA DODD,

  _and all the members of the "Never Say Die Club."_

"What are those girls up to now?" Miss Ashton said with a pleasant
laugh, as she read the invitation, but she accepted it without any
delay, and when she was told by Miss Newton, the confidential helper
of the whole school in any of their wants, that the parlor had been
lent to the secret society for the evening, and no teacher was to be
allowed entrance until eight o'clock, she smilingly acquiesced.

The club were excused from their recitations that afternoon, and it
was amusing to see how much spying there was among the rest of the
school to find out what was going on. All that could be seen, however,
was the coming in of a big boxed article, unfortunately for the
curious, so boxed that no one could even guess what it contained.

A general invitation had been given to the whole school, and before
the appointed hour for opening the door, groups of girls in full
evening dress began to fill the corridor and press close to the door.

When, punctual to the appointed moment, it was flung open, a burst of
laughter followed.

Ranged around a covered object in the middle of the room stood twenty
girls, dressed in gray flannel blankets made in the fashion of the
penitential robes worn by nuns. They all wore stiff white hoods, with
the long capes coming down over their shoulders, and each one carried
in her hand a small tin pan filled to the brim with ashes.

They stood immovable until Miss Ashton entered the room, when the
whole club sank upon their knees, bending their heads until they
nearly touched the floor, dexterously placing the tin of ashes upon
their backs.

No sooner had they assumed this position than a little flag was
unfurled from the top of the covered object in the middle of the room,
upon which was printed in large letters:--

                        "FORGIVE, AND ACCEPT."

Then the covering was slowly removed by some one hidden beneath it,
and there stood an elegant writing-desk, on the front of which were
the words:--

            "A MERRY CHRISTMAS TO MISS ASHTON THE MERCIFUL
                          FROM HER GRATEFUL
                         NEVER SAY DIE CLUB."



CHAPTER XXVII.

CHRISTMAS IN THE ACADEMY.


Marion, two days before Christmas, was once more left alone in her
room. The Rock Cove cousins had given her the most cordial invitation
to go home with them for the vacation, but she had declined. In doing
so, she had a half-acknowledged feeling that she was to suffer just
penance for her misdeeds at Belden, and a dread of what unknown
trouble she might meet at Rock Cove. This Eastern world was so
different from the whole-hearted, kindly one she had left behind her,
that instead of wonting to it, she grew timid, diffident of herself,
even among the girls, and shy about venturing abroad. So she made her
mind up bravely to stay where she was, and spend her vacation in
study.

Miss Ashton fully approved; for since Marion's sickness with her cold,
she had shown an inclination to cough, and was often hoarse in the
morning. A stay by the seaside in winter would be to run a risk. It
might be dull for her to remain, but she loved her books, and there
was plenty for her to do in order to keep up with her advanced
classes; besides, there were twenty of the pupils whose homes were so
distant they could not go there, and return, without taking more time
than the vacation allowed, so they, also, were to remain, and Marion,
though dull, need not be lonely.

All the teachers but Fräulein Sausmann were to be absent, and to her
care Miss Ashton had to commit the young ladies during the vacation.

The wheels of the carriage that took her away from the academy had
hardly ceased to be heard by the anxious listeners there, before
Marion's door was opened just far enough to admit the Fräulein's
good-natured face.

Never had her ample head of light hair looked so large, her blue eyes
so blue, her nose so _retroussé_, or her thin lips so thin, to Marion,
as now. Before she had time to welcome her, the Fräulein said in her
high-pitched voice,--

"O Marione! Wir happiness time wir have der Christtag. Wir 'ave der
Baum so high," holding up a plump little hand as high as she could
reach. "Twenty, thirty das Licht! Christtag presented buful! You 'ave
one, sieben, zwölf, four! You come happiness; nicht cry, nicht! nicht!
Lachen! so!" and a merry peal of laughter Marion found no trouble in
echoing.

"You come parlor Christtag night, you see! I, Santa Claus! Merry
Christtag. Catch you! Nicht cry! Lachen! Lachen!"

She shut the door softly, but Marion heard her laugh as she went down
the long corridor, such a merry, contagious laugh, that it carried
away with it the loneliness from Marion's room.

There was to be a gathering in the parlor then,--der Baum. Twenty,
thirty das Licht, and what else? Of one thing Marion felt sure, if she
was to receive, one, sieben, zwölf, four presents, she must give some
in return, but what, and to whom?

She was not long in doubt. Lilly White was among those who remained,
and the Fräulein had hardly gone when she made her appearance with
four other girls at her door.

"Oui, Fräulein Marione! Ab alio expectes, alteri quod feceris.

"That's French, Latin, and German. I picked it out of"--

"Don't tell, Lilly White," broke in one of the girls. "See if Marion
can translate it."

"Come in and let me try," said Marion, laughing. "Oui--yes;
Fräulein--Miss Marion; Ab alio expectes, alteri quod feceris--If any
one gives you a present, be sure you give one back."

"A literal translation," said the same girl. "Miss Jones always said
you were her best Latin scholar. Practically, however, it
translates,--

"Come with us to Lilly White's room, and we'll show you a thing or
two. But we mustn't all go together. If we do, the Fräulein will be
popping down on us to be sure no mischief is brewing."

"I'll tell you what I will do; I will write in German 'No Admittance'
on a big placard, and put it outside my door. What is the German,
girls?" "Nicht Zulassung," said one of the girls promptly. "Write it,
Lilly, in a big, bold hand."

They went together to Lilly's room; and she took a large square of
pasteboard, and, without deigning to ask how the words were spelled,
she printed in big letters:--

                           "NOTTZ ULLARSG."

"There!" she said, turning it triumphantly for the others to read.
Then she hung it on the outside of the door, moved a table to the
door, planted a chair upon it, mounted into the chair, and peeped down
through the transom to watch for the Fräulein's coming.

The others watched her, and all business for the time was suspended.

Pretty soon they heard the pattering of the Fräulein's little feet
along the corridor, then the sudden halting before their door.

Lilly, with a beet-red face, and frantic gestures of two big red
hands, motioned them to be still. They heard,--

"N--O--T--T--Z." A significant grunt; then again, "N--O--T--T--Z;" a
pause. Again, "N--O--T--T--Z U--L--L--A--R--S--G."

"Hindoostanee? No; Indianee: Marione Parkee!" Then a little laugh,
followed by,--

"Marione! Marione! Ope die Thur! What you mean, Nottz Ullarsg?"

"No admittance," said Lilly White through the transom. "Why, Fräulein,
don't you know your own German?"

"Know my own German?" repeated the Fräulein slowly. "Know--my--own--German?
Nein! Nein! German, Lilly White! Nein Vater Land.

"Lilly White, open die Thur, quickest! My own German! Nein! Nein!
Nein!

"Marione Parke's Indianee!"

It was some moments before Lilly, the chair and the table, could be
removed from the door, the Fräulein keeping up a series of impatient
knockings while she waited.

Then Marion, as the one in whom she would feel the greatest
confidence, was pushed to the small opening allowed, and told to
say,--

"It's Christmas, almost, dear Fräulein. It's secrets here now. We
can't let you in."

"Indianee?" asked the Fräulein, pointing to the placard. "What you
mean, Marione?"

"It was meant to mean 'No Admittance' in German, Fräulein."

Such funny little shrieks as the Fräulein uttered, no one could
understand, not even Marion, who was looking in her face. There were
anger and fun and amazement, chasing each other in quick succession,
her hands beating time to each feeling, as an instrument utters its
music to the touch.

To the amazement of all, it ended in the Fräulein shrieking out,--

"Lilly White! You be a--what you call um der thor, narr, dummkopf,
fool, idiotte; you know German, nicht! nicht, you idiotte!"

In these hard words the little German teacher's anger wholly vanished;
pulling down the placard, she tore it in bits, gathered them up in her
small white apron, made a sweeping courtesy, and trotted away.

As soon as she was fairly out of hearing, the girls began to busy
themselves about their Christmas work. Lilly White's room was full of
things to be made into pretty gifts for the tree, of which the
Fräulein's share was by far the largest.

There is a wonderful degree of thoughtfulness among a company of
girls. Not one there but knew of Marion's circumstances, and how
impossible it would be for her, out of her slender purse, to meet the
demands of the occasion. If Gladys Philbrick had generously helped her
to prepare the pretty gifts which were on their way to her far-away
home, so these girls as generously planned that in the Fräulein's
festival she should not find herself in the embarrassing position of
being the one who should receive, without making a return.

It was beautiful to see the delicacy with which they managed the
whole, so that Marion hardly felt how much they gave, and how
pleasantly she received.

On Christmas morning the whole house was early astir. All up and down
the corridors, long before the dim light penetrated into them,
white-robed figures flitted noiselessly from door to door. "Merry
Christmas! Merry Christmas!" was whispered inside, until a ghost-like
procession of some twenty girls headed for the Fräulein's room.

This was at the end of the second corridor, and as they approached it
not a sound was to be heard from within but the satisfactory one of
long and loud snores.

It had been agreed on the previous night that not a door should be
locked on the inside, and Helen Stratton, "the cute girl," who could
do anything she tried to do, was chosen to open this door. This she
did so noiselessly, that the whole twenty girls entered the room and
surrounded the Fräulein's bed without so much as interrupting a single
snore. Then all at once a merry chorus broke out with,--

"Merry Christmas! Merry Christmas, Fräulein!"

The Fräulein stirred in her bed. Then another shout, louder than the
first, and she sat bolt upright.

The gas in the hall had been lighted, and stole in through the transom
sufficiently to give the ghost-like look the girls sought; but even
with this, she was slow in comprehending what was happening.

One more shout, and she sprang out of bed, catching the one nearest to
her, and giving her a good, hard shaking. "Der Christtag! Der
Christtag! Fröhlich Weinacht! Fröhlich; I wishes you 'arpy Christtag!
What _you_ call it?"

"Merry Christmas!" shouted the girls.

"Ah, Ja! Ja! Merrie Christmas! one Merrie Christmas, a t'ousand Merrie
Christmas. Now you go dress! Miss Ashton say, 'Fräulein, the young
ladies tak cough.' You catched me, I catched you to-nacht. You see!
gute nacht! gute nacht!"

And like a very small queen, in her pretty nightdress, she waved the
girls away, then locked her door; if they had come back only a few
minutes later, they would have heard the same musical sounds coming
from her bed.

But when the day had fairly dawned, it would have been difficult to
find a more wide-awake, alert teacher than the Fräulein, or one that
could have given a truer and pleasanter Christmas day and night.



CHAPTER XXVIII.

FRÄULEIN'S GYMNASTICS.


"Fräulein, can you have prayers for the young ladies in the small
reception-room on Christmas morning?" Miss Ashton asked with much
hesitation the day before leaving.

"Ja! Ja!" answered the Fräulein, all smiles and nods.

"Very well, then, I will give the notice to-night. As Christmas is a
religious festival, I shall be glad to have a religious as well as a
festival observation of it. As for the matter of going to church, the
young-ladies can do as they please; there need be nothing compulsory
about it."

"I mistand," and the Fräulein congratulated herself on her correct
English. "All wrong; nein! nein, all."

"Right," said Miss Ashton, laughing.

"Oui, Ja! Der Dank! Tanks. I learn Anglais soon. Patientia, Fräulein
Ashton. I learn soon, by un by."

In compliance with this request, after a hasty Christmas breakfast,
the girls assembled in the reception-room, and waited with more
curiosity than devotion the coming of the Fräulein.

She had not been down to breakfast, and when she made her appearance
now, it was as if an odd-shaped swan was waddling into the room. From
head to foot she was dressed in a fluffy white stuff, that stood out
all over her like snow-feathers.

A stifled laugh greeted her, but of this she took no notice; walking
slowly to the table that had been prepared for her, she turned a
solemn face toward the girls, opened a German prayer-book, and began
to read the service for Christmas morning, stopping when she came to
the places for the chant, and, motioning to her audience to rise and
join her, she sang in sweet tones music familiar to the girls, in
which, with the English words they were accustomed to, they all
joined.

Then down she fell upon her knees, the others following her example,
and with her eyes half shut, and her little hands folded reverently
upon her prayer-book, she rattled off prayer after prayer with
astonishing rapidity.

Now, though the young ladies had come in anything but a solemn frame
of mind, which the Fräulein's droll appearance was not calculated to
change, there was something so devotional, almost solemn, in her
rapidly changing expression of face, that they became at once and
unconsciously devout. Dropping on their knees, and covering their
faces, they joined her "Amens" with hushed voices, and into their
susceptible hearts the hallowing influence of the religious festival
found ready entrance.

They were hardly prepared to see the Fräulein spring lightly upon her
feet, to hear a merry laugh ring out, and "Good-morgen! good-morgen!"
spoken with the accompaniment of a cloud of white batting, that flew
off from her arms and shoulders as she laughed.

Queer little Fräulein! but good and kind as she was queer!

All day long she worked indefatigably alone in the big parlor. Not one
of the girls was allowed even so much as a peep within the doors.

The day was a rarely fine one for a New England Christmas. The sun
shone out of a cloudless sky; a warm south wind blew gently over the
deep snow-drifts; little sparrows hopped delightedly upon the branches
of the Norway spruces that grew close to the house, lifted their
pretty wings as if to coax the wind and sun, while they chirped their
cheerful Christmas carols, stole the late berries from the trees, and
twisted their round heads so they could send loving glances up to the
bevy of pretty girls that watched and smiled down upon them, as they
fed them from their windows.

At seven o'clock the gong was sounded, and the young ladies in gala
dresses filed into the bright parlor.

In the centre of the room was a large tree. Near it stood the
Fräulein, smiling and courtesying to each one as she entered. A quaint
little figure she was; yet, with all her quaintness, there was enough
of dignity to suppress any merriment her appearance might have
caused.

The number and variety of these gifts was a marvel to them. When they
were fairly distributed, the Fräulein lifted the cover of an unopened
box, and took from it a gift for every teacher.

Good, happy Fräulein! Not a thoughtful word or a kind act from these
to you strangers in a strange land, but you have treasured in your
homesick heart, and from the Vater Land you bring to them all to-day
your grateful recognition of it all!

Perhaps the happiest of them was the lame Nellie, who, yet weak and
pale from her sickness, had with the Fräulein's consent brought to the
Christmas-tree little pictures which she had painted in her
convalescence, as gifts to them all. She held tight to Marion's hand.
In some way, she could not have told you how, she seemed to herself to
have owed to this dear friend the ability to have painted them. It was
a little cross she gave Marion, but she had hung on it a wreath of
lovely rosebuds, meaning, through them, to convey to Marion how her
love had made the cross of her suffering beautiful.

As the vacation had commenced on the twenty-third of December, and
school did not begin again until the fifth of January, there was quite
a time remaining after the excitement of Christmas had passed.

The more scholarly and industrious of the girls remaining at the
academy at once applied themselves to making up whatever deficiencies
had occurred in their studies.

Marion found plenty to do, not only for herself, but also for Nellie,
whose lessons had necessarily run behind during her illness.

The Fräulein found them together over their books much oftener than
she thought was for their good. Having been thoroughly educated in the
German methods of teaching, she was a firm believer in vacation
benefits, also in muscular training, which she considered quite as
essential for girls as for boys. In her imperfect English, and also by
personal illustration, she had tried, ever since her connection with
this school, to awaken the teachers, Miss Ashton in particular, to a
greater sense of its importance. To be sure, there was a gymnasium in
the building, and a regular teacher, who faithfully put her pupils
through the exercises commonly allowed to girls. But these seemed to
the Fräulein to be only a beginning of what might be done; so, now,
finding herself for a time in sole authority in the school, she at
once, as soon as Christmas was over, began to put her girls through
what she considered so essential to their health.

She made her first attempt upon Marion and Nellie. Finding them both
bent nearly double over their books, Nellie very pale, with dark rings
under her eyes, and Marion with flushed cheeks and too bright eyes,
she at once routed them from their books, made them stand up before
her, and said,--

"Now, do"--and her English word failing her, she drew a long breath
from the bottom of her chest, and motioned to them to imitate her.

Marion, never having attempted anything of the kind before, did so
partially, and Nellie could only produce something that sounded like a
gurgle in her small throat.

The Fräulein shook her head impatiently, and repeated the process over
and over again, Marion gaining a little every time, but Nellie soon
discouraged and tired.

"Bard! bard! nicht right--aushauchen tief--so, thus:" (deep breaths
from the Fräulein). Then, seeming suddenly to remember that the girls
did not know why she made the request, she tried in an anglicized
German, which no one could by any possibility have understood, to
explain it to them. She tapped her own head, took up a book, appeared
to read it, while she moved the leaves in time with her long
inhalations and exhalations.

"Bon scholars! long--so!" Then suddenly she said, "Patientia!" and
vanished from the room. In a few minutes the corridor was full of
noisy girls, who came direct to Marion's room, and in obedience to the
Fräulein's directions arranged themselves in a circle.

They had only the vaguest idea what they had been called for, but they
knew the Fräulein always gave them "a jolly good time," and came
willingly. Merry enough they were for the next hour, and much to the
Fräulein's surprise, for they were quicker than German girls, they
made so much progress that, after the second lesson, a plan that was
to tell much in future for the well-being of the academy was fully
developed.

The Fräulein drew up a paper in German, in which she detailed not only
the benefits physically resulting from her system of deep breathing,
but also the help it would be in resting the excited nerves with which
so many of the young girls came into the recitation-room. Then, before
presenting it to Miss Ashton, she roused the enthusiasm of her class
by telling them how much she needed their help, as examples of the
great good to be derived from her gymnastics. And the result was that
they had not only the amusement of the exercises to help them pass the
vacation, but also the benefit resulting from it, and the hope that
through them it would become a part of the school-life.

When Miss Ashton returned, she was not a little surprised at the gain
she so quickly recognized, nor was she slow in availing herself of its
aid.

She had always felt that nothing was more necessary for a good working
head than a perfect physical balance, and for that reason she allowed
and encouraged a greater amount of amusement, which was relaxation
from study, than was common in what is called a finishing school. It
was almost the only boast in which she indulged, that, during the
twenty years of her care of the academy as principal, she had never
had a case of fatal sickness, or, indeed, of any severe enough to
excite alarm.

During the fall she obliged the girls, as long as the weather would
allow, to spend hours every day in the open air, giving them their
choice of exercise,--walking, riding, boating, botanizing,
geologizing, any and every thing that would bring to them rest and
change. In winter there was dancing in the large hall, there were
compulsory gymnastics, there were skating on the pond, coasting on the
hills back of the academy, or, not so seldom as it might have been
supposed would be the case among girls, snowballing in the most
approved boy-fashion.

Indeed, once upon a time it was reported that, having come out, as she
generally made a point of doing whenever any amusement was going on,
to witness the sport, a girl more audacious than any of the others
ventured to throw a snow-ball in the direction of her august person,
and it was received with such a merry laugh, that another followed,
and another, and another, until she was as ermine-covered as if she
were dressed for a court reception; and not a girl among the laughing
crowd but loved her better and respected her more.

"My best recitations," she was often heard to say, "come after the
best frolics. Give me pupils with steady nerves, bright eyes, and
sweet, clear voices, and I will show you a school where they study
well, and the deportment is of the best.

"I am never so anxious about my girls as when the weather shuts them
in-doors, and the cold makes them want to hug the radiators."

It was on account of the good common-sense by which this method of
regulation was carried on, that the school was sought far and near; to
this, in a great measure, it owed its success.

The gymnastic teacher already employed was a good one for the old
methods; but there was something so inspiring in the Fräulein's
enthusiasm on the theory of long breaths, that Miss Ashton made it at
once a part of daily practice, and put her in as teacher for those
classes.

Watching the result of the experiment, it took Miss Ashton but a short
time to satisfy herself as to its immediate benefits; and as for the
girls themselves, they were so amused and strengthened by the lessons
that, after a little practice, it became a favorite diversion, and you
would find them often in merry groups, inhaling and exhaling, perhaps
not in exact accordance with the Fräulein's rules, but gaining at
least in proportion to their enjoyment. As for the Fräulein, a very
happy and proud teacher she boastfully declared herself.



CHAPTER XXIX.

WOMEN'S WORK.


The Christmas holidays being over, the young ladies returned slowly,
and many of them reluctantly, to the school.

A few left for good; some of them on their own account, some at the
request of the principal. New pupils took their places, and almost at
once the regular routine of work began.

Miss Ashton in one of her short morning talks told them, while the
past term had been in many respects a satisfactory one, there had been
several occurrences which she should be sorry to see repeated. It
would not be necessary for her to enumerate them; they were well known
to the old pupils, and for the new ones, she sincerely hoped there
would be no occasion for them ever to hear of them.

There were now some important things, upon strict attendance to which
she should insist during the remainder of the year.

One was, a more honest observance of the study hours; another, less
gossip: perhaps she should be better understood if she said a higher
tone of social intercourse. A thing never to be forgotten was, that
the school-life was a preparation for the longer one beyond, and that,
a preparation for the one that never ends.

"Sometimes," she said, dropping into that hushed tone which every girl
in the remotest seat from her desk heard so easily, "I think our lives
are but the school in which we all have set lessons to learn, set
tasks to perform; and our wise Teacher, so patient, so gentle, so
loving with us, when the great examination day comes, will hold us
strictly accountable for every slighted lesson, for every neglected
duty.

"If I could only impress upon you to-day how vitally important here
and hereafter the faithful discharge of even your smallest duties may
be to you, I should know that when our year together is over, and I
part from many of you for the last time, I should meet you again as
'crowns of my rejoicing.'

"I need hardly say, certainly not to the more intelligent, who would
naturally gather information of this kind, how varied and important a
woman's work in life has grown to be. You are all more or less
familiar with the fact that we have now entrance into the best
colleges, both here and abroad. You know how we are educated for every
profession, and to what eminence many of us have climbed. You
understand fully, that there is not a position in the literary,
business, mechanical, or art world in which to-day a woman may not be
found working successfully.

"You know, too, that where prizes have been offered in academical
institutions, no matter for what object, it is by no means an uncommon
thing for it to be awarded to a girl. Last week a class of fourteen
women were graduated from the law department of the University of the
City of New York. It is said to be the first law class exclusively of
women that has ever been graduated.

"Two female medical graduates have been appointed house surgeons at
two English hospitals. A society has been incorporated in New York
entitled the 'Colonial Dames of America,' and to be located in New
York City.

"Its objects are set forth to be, to collect manuscripts, traditions,
relics, and mementoes of by-gone days for preservation; to commemorate
the history and success of the American Revolution and consequent
birth of the republic of the United States; to diffuse healthful and
intelligent information with regard to American history, and tending
to create a popular interest therein, and to inspire patriotism and
love of country; to promote social interest and fellowship among its
members, and to inculcate among the young the obligations of
patriotism and reverence for the founders of American constitutional
liberty.

"A number of prominent ladies are included in the list of officers.

"In this connection I will read you a short article I found in my
morning paper; and here, let me say, there is not a girl in the school
who should not in some way manage to spend a half-hour every day in
looking over a newspaper.

"I have heard intelligent gentlemen complain of the ignorance of women
about the ordinary public life.

"'They will talk to you,' they say, 'about housekeeping and servants:
they grow eloquent over their children, and sometimes their husbands;
but take them out of the region of home, and they are dull company.'

"The exceptions of those who are up in the literary, political,
scientific, and socialistic world is infinitely small, and all--all
because they will not take the trouble to make themselves intelligent
on the great questions of the day, by reading newspapers."

To go on, however, with what women are doing.

"The New Women's Propylæum, in Indianapolis, Indiana, is now
completed, and was dedicated January 27.

"This building bears the distinction of being the first one erected by
women not associated as a club or society. Primarily, its use is for
purely business purposes, and secondly, with an educational object in
view. Six or seven women, with Mrs. May Wright Sewall at the head,
have raised the money and carried out the project. It seemed at first
to the public generally like a wild scheme, but the women who had the
matter in hand knew just what they wanted, and made every effort to
carry out their plans successfully. The board of managers is made up
of fifteen women.

"Mrs. Sewall says, 'The building of the Propylæum has been to all of
us a valuable experience. We have been obliged to meet business men,
and to familiarize ourselves with business methods, and have thus
acquired an education unusual to women. The lot has a frontage of
seventy-five feet, and a depth of sixty-seven feet. The building
contains twenty-one rooms, there being two stories above an English
basement. The lot cost $5,500, and the building complete $22,500,
making a total of $28,000; and $2,000 has been put into furniture. The
front of the Propylæum is of ashlar and rock-face work, and it is
pronounced a very beautiful structure. The women take special pride in
the kitchen, which is complete in every respect. In the front basement
are two sets of doctors' offices, both of which were rented long ago;
one set to Dr. Maria Gates, and the other to Dr. Mary Smith. Dr. Gates
is a graduate of the Chicago Medical College, and Dr. Smith of the
Michigan University. The latter is physician at the female prison and
reformatory.

"'The east parlor is rented by the Woman's Club, the Matinée Musicale,
the Indianapolis Art Association, and the Contemporary Club, each of
which has arranged to meet on such occasions that they will not
interfere with each other. The west parlor is rented for physical
culture classes, and to the Christian scientists for their Sunday
meetings. The assembly hall will be for rent for entertainments.'

"This is interesting, as showing what an active, intelligent set of
women have done.

"Perhaps some day I shall be receiving newspaper notices of even more
important and successful work accomplished by some of my pupils. Here
is an interesting notice of women as inventors: 'Within the last
century, women have entered for the first time in the history of the
world as competitors with men in the field of original contrivances.
In the last two years and a half they have secured from the government
exclusive rights in five hundred machines and other devices. In the
line of machinery, pure and simple, the patent-office reports show
they have exhibited great inventive capacity. Among remarkable patents
of theirs, are patents for electrical lighting, noiseless elevated
roads, apparatus for raising sunken vessels, sewing-machine motors,
screw propellers, agricultural tools, spinning-machines, locomotive
wheels, burglar alarms.

"'Quite a sensation has been caused among the clerks in the New York
post-office by the entrance of seven young women into the money-order
department as clerks during the last month. The girls obtained their
positions by surpassing their male competitors at the civil-service
examination, and will receive the same pay as male clerks.'

"Here is another that will interest the ambitiously literary among
you:--

"'Miss Kingsley, daughter of Charles Kingsley, has been awarded the
decoration of the French academic palms, with the grade of "officer
of the academy," for her valuable writings upon French art.'

"There seems, as you will notice from what I have read you, no bounds
to what we women not only can do, but in which our success is
generously allowed and honorably mentioned; but there are several
things to which I may as well call your attention here.

"There is not now, there never has been, an honorable achievement, but
it has been gained by steady, persevering effort. I think I could pick
out from among the young ladies before me, those who in the future
will be able to hold positions of trust and usefulness, perhaps
renown; they are the girls who are true, honest workers, day in and
day out, week in and week out. This honest work never has been, never
will be, done where time is frittered away, where rules are broken,
where those numberless little deceits which I am grieved to say many a
girl who should be far above them sometimes practises; it requires a
noble character to do noble work.

"I am desirous, particularly so, to impress upon you all to-day, as it
is the beginning of our longest, hardest, and most important term of
the year, the necessity for every one of you individually doing her
best as a scholar, as a lady, and, let me add, what I wish I could
feel sure you would strive for beyond all other claims, as a
Christian. A true Christian is as good a scholar as her natural
abilities allow, a lady she must be everywhere, and at every time.

"In closing, I have one request to make of you; you will see, while it
does not seem to bear immediately upon what I have been saying, there
is a close connection.

"I want to turn your attention specially to women's work in this
nineteenth century. When you learn in a more extended manner than I
have been able to give you this morning, what they have done, what
they are doing, and what they expect to do, you will realize more
fully your share in the life before you.

"In order that you may do this, at some not distant time, we will all
meet in the parlor, and I shall expect every one of you to bring to me
some account of this work. From two hundred of you, we ought to gather
enough to make us not only proud of being women, but ambitious to be
among the leaders of our sex."

                  *       *       *       *       *

Then she dismissed the school.



CHAPTER XXX.

DECEIT.


Miss Ashton's talk had an excellent influence upon the school. Even
the wealthy girls felt there was something worth living for but
society and fashion. A large proportion of the pupils were from
families in moderate circumstances; to them avenues of access to power
and influence were opened. To the poor, of whom there were not a few,
help in its best sense was offered in ways that faithful diligence
would make their own.

In just so far as Miss Ashton had made these two things, faithfulness
and diligence, the ground-work of all success, she had given the true
character to her school; and as the work of the term began with this
demand upon the attention of the pupils, there was a fair prospect of
its being the best of the year. The holidays had come and gone. Not a
room in the large building but bore evidence of its wealth in
Christmas gifts.

New books covered many of the girls' tables, new pictures hung on
their walls; chairs, old and faded, blossomed into new life with their
head-rests, their pretty pillows and elaborate scarfs; ribbons of all
colors decked lounges, tables, curtains; pen-wipers, lay gracefully
by the side of elegant ink-stands, perfume bottles stood on
_étagères_, while the numbers of hand-painted toilet articles,
articles to be used in spreads, bric-a-brac of all kinds and
descriptions, it would have been hard to number.

Pretty, tasteful surroundings are as much a part of a girl's true
education as the severer curriculum that is offered to her in her
studies, and Miss Ashton gave the influences of these Christmas gifts
their full value when she weighed the harder work for the teachers
which the vacation always brought.

To be sure, there came a time at the beginning of the term when the
unwise parents were responsible for much bad work. Those of their
children who had come back with boxes filled with Christmas
luxuries--candies, pies, cakes, boxes of preserved fruits, nuts,
raisins, and whatever would tempt them to eat out of time and
place--had little chance to do well in the recitation-room until these
were disposed of.

In truth, even more difficult, more of a hindrance in her school
discipline, Miss Ashton often found the parents than their children.

She was sometimes obliged to say, "I could have done something with
that girl if her mother had let her alone." One fact had established
itself in her experience, that almost every girl committed to her care
had, in the home estimation of her character, traits which demanded in
their treatment different discipline from that given to any of the
others.

She could have employed a secretary with profit, simply to answer
letters relating to these prodigies, and nine out of ten proved to be
only girls of the most common stamp, both for intellect and
character.

Marion had spent her vacation time in a profitable manner. As
mathematics was her most difficult study, so she had given her
attention almost entirely to it; and even Miss Palmer, who was never
good-natured when a pupil was advanced into one of her classes, and by
so doing made her extra work, was obliged to confess she was now among
her best scholars.

Thus encouraged, Marion received an impetus in all her other studies;
and, of course, as good scholarship always will, this added to the
influence which her sterling moral worth and kindly ways had already
given her.

There was one dunce in her mathematical class who gave her great
annoyance; it was Carrie Smyth, a Southern girl, into whose dull head
no figures ever penetrated.

There was something really pitiable as she sat, book in hand, trying
to puzzle out the simplest problem, and Marion often helped her, until
Miss Palmer prohibited it.

"I will not allow it," she said decidedly. "If Carrie cannot get her
own lessons we ought to know it, and to treat her accordingly.
Whatever assistance she needs, I prefer to give her myself."

Marion obeyed, and Carrie cried, but the consequences followed at
once.

Carrie soon learned to copy from Marion's slate whatever she needed,
and, as Marion sat next her in the class, this was an easy thing to
do; and as Miss Palmer, wisely, seldom asked Carrie any but the
simplest questions, well knowing how useless any others would be, she
escaped detection until, one day, grown bolder by her escapes, she
copied from Marion more openly, Marion seeing her. That this might
have happened once, but never would again, Marion felt quite sure; but
what was her dismay, when she saw it continue day after day. She was
ashamed to let Carrie know of her discovery, as many another noble
girl has been under similar circumstances, but she knew well that it
could not be allowed, and that to pretend ignorance of the fact was
wrong.

She moved her seat, but, after staring at her blankly out of her dull
eyes, Carrie moved hers to her side, and the class all laughed at this
demonstration of affection; but Miss Palmer, who had taught long
enough to know that it might mean something but affection, watched
them. She had not long to do so before she discovered Carrie's trick,
Marion's knowledge of it, and her embarrassment.

After recitation, she told them to remain, and when they were alone
together she said,--

"Marion Parke! how long have you known that Carrie Smyth copied her
sums off your slate?"

Poor Marion! She looked at Miss Palmer, then at Carrie; the color came
into her face, and the tears into her eyes, but she did not answer a
word.

Miss Palmer repeated her question with much asperity. Still no answer,
but two large tears on Marion's cheeks.

"You do not choose to answer me" (a little more gently now): "I shall
report your behavior to Miss Ashton. Carrie Smyth, how long have you
been copying Marion's sums, instead of doing your own?"

"I've--I've never copied them, Miss Palmer," said Carrie, looking Miss
Palmer boldly in the face.

"Carrie Smyth, I saw you do so!"

"I--I never did, never, Miss Palmer. _Never!_"

"Go to your room, Carrie Smyth. I am not surprised at your readiness
to tell a falsehood; you have been acting one for weeks, and they are
all the same, the acted and the spoken, in God's sight. Go to your
room and pray; ask God to forgive you."

Then she opened a Bible which lay on a table near her, and in very
solemn tones read these words, "'But the fearful and unbelieving, and
the abominable, and murderers'" (glancing off now in a threatening
manner at Carrie), "'and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters,
and all liars shall have their part in the lake that burneth with fire
and brimstone, which is the second death.'"

Carrie turned very pale. If Miss Palmer had asked her for the truth
again, she would have told it, but she did not; she only motioned the
girls from the room, and went herself to see Miss Ashton.

Incidents similar to this were not unusual in the school, and Miss
Ashton always considered them the most painful and troublesome to deal
with. She waited a day or two before taking any notice of it, then she
sent for Marion, who went to her room with fear and trembling.

"Marion," said Miss Ashton, beckoning to her to come and sit on the
sofa beside her, "I am very sorry on your account that this has
happened. It would have been better if you had told Miss Palmer as
soon as you knew what Carrie was doing; better for her, for of course
she was deceiving, and we know what that means; better for Miss
Palmer, for she could form no just estimate of Carrie's scholarship,
for which she is responsible; and better for you, because, in a
certain way, it made you a partaker in the deception."

"O Miss Ashton! I could not tell on her; I could not, _I could not!_"
exclaimed Marion.

"I understand you perfectly," said wise Miss Ashton; "I only want you
to see the situation as it is. If you had thought of it, you might
have come to me. Everything of that kind I should know, then your
responsibility would have ceased, and, without making a class matter
of it, I could have influenced Carrie to do right.

"Now, if you fully understand me, run back to your lessons, only
remember, in whatever perplexity for the future you find yourself, I
am the house mother, and you are all my children; you would not have
hesitated to tell your mother if you had found any of your brothers or
sisters doing wrong, should you?"

"No, ma'am; I should have gone to her at once."

"And not felt that you were a tell-tale?"

"Not for a moment."

"Just so, then, it is here; we are all one family, and there is
nothing mean in reporting to me, more than to a mother. It's the
motive that prompts the telling that gives it its moral character. It
is the noblest that can act wisely, and escape the odium of
tell-tales; and, my dear Marion, I feel quite sure that for the future
I can trust you."

Marion went away with a light heart. "Trust me? of course she can,"
she said to herself; "but I am so sorry for Carrie Smyth."

Carrie, in truth, even after listening to the terrible denunciations
Miss Palmer had read to her, was to be pitied for her moral as well as
mental dulness. She went through the ordeal of her talk with Miss
Ashton with far less feeling than Marion had shown; and the only
punishment she minded was being put back into the class of beginners,
and being told that the next time she was found doing anything of the
kind, and told a falsehood about it, she would be expelled from
school.

This, on the whole, she would have liked, for study was detestable to
her, and there was nothing but the ambition of her mother that made
it seem necessary in her home surroundings.

Both Miss Palmer and Marion were delighted to have her leave the
class. Marion kindly kept the reason for her having done so to
herself, though many inquiries were made of her by the other
scholars.



CHAPTER XXXI.

MARION'S LETTER FROM HOME.


Soon after the first of January, Marion received the following letter
from her mother:--

  "We have all been made so happy to-day, my dear child, by a
  letter from Miss Ashton. She writes us how well you have been
  doing, and how much attached to you she has become. All this we
  expected as a matter of course, but what delights and satisfies
  us most, is what she says of your religious influence in the
  school. We knew we were sending you into an untried life, that
  would be full of anxieties and temptations. With all the
  confidence we felt in you, we should hardly, no matter how great
  the literary advantages offered, have liked to put you where the
  character of your surroundings would have been less helpful; and
  to know that you, in your turn, are proving helpful to others,
  is indeed a great gratification. God bless, strengthen, and keep
  you, my darling, through this new year, is your loving mother's
  prayer.

  "It almost seems to me that we miss you more and more as time
  goes. Phil counts the weeks now until you come home, and I found
  the little ones busy doing a long sum on their slates, which,
  when they brought to me to see if it was right, I saw was to
  ascertain first, how many days before you came, and then, how
  many hours. Bennie told me that to-morrow they were to calculate
  the minutes, and then the seconds. I suppose they have, for I
  see them studying the clock very often, particularly the minute
  hand.

  "So you see how we miss and long for you at home.

  "Your father is busier than ever. He is truly a workman of whom
  his Master need not to be ashamed. He keeps well and happy.
  Deacon Simonds came in last night to ask him to have some extra
  meetings, as the Methodists were going to have an evangelist
  here, and might draw away people from his church; but your
  father said in his gentle way, 'The parish was not too large as
  yet for him to do all the work required, and if any of his
  people could be benefited by the evangelist, and should wish to
  unite with that church, he should wish them Godspeed.' Then the
  deacon said something about the difficulty of raising the
  salary, which I minded more than your father. What a good,
  trusting man he is! Mrs. Hoppen ran in this noon with a large
  tin pan full of delicious doughnuts she had fried for us, and
  Hetty Sprague put two pumpkin-pies into my pantry window. Not a
  day passes but we are cared for in some way. I laugh, for it
  looks as if they thought now you are gone there was no one left
  to prepare goodies for the home. Tim Knowles dumped a load of
  coal into our cellar when your father was away, then came to the
  kitchen door and said,--

  "'Mis' Parke, you tell the parson if he'll keep up the fire of
  religion in the church, I'll keep it up in his study stove, and
  it sha'n't cost him a copper cent. We all d'ought to have ways
  of sarving the Lord, and this 'ere is mine.' Then he hurried
  away, without giving me a chance to even say 'Thank you.'

  "Sometimes it seems to me as if our whole parish felt as if you
  belonged to them, and they had sent you away to school, and were
  to pay your expenses, they are so wonderfully kind and
  thoughtful of us. Your sabbath-school class sent you their New
  Year's gift yesterday; I know you will value it. Old Aunt Cutts
  is knitting you a pair of blue stockings; the dear old lady is
  taking so much comfort out of the work, that she has made them
  large enough for you to put both of your little feet into one;
  and Kate Sanders brought me her white feather to ask me if, now
  you had to dress stylish, I didn't think you could make use of
  it. I thanked her, and told her that you were wearing a hat so
  small I was sure the feather was too large for it. I think it
  was quite a relief to her, for that soiled and bedraggled
  feather is to her still, 'the apple of her eye.'

  "So, my dear parish child, you have a great burden of
  responsibility to carry; but your mother knows how easily and
  how honorably it will be borne."

Marion read this letter with a variety of feelings. It had never been
the home way to make her religious character a separate and distinct
thing. It dominated the whole home-life. Do right, _do right_! She had
almost never been told, do not do wrong, but always do right, and this
meant simply and only, be a Christian. It was such a noble way to step
upward from the beginning; not easy, oh, no, far from that, so often
doing wrong in spite of precept and example, so often hesitating,
until the delay weakened the power of doing right; yet so often, with
hope and prayer to aid her, planting her foot firmly on the upper
rung, singing as she went.

Since she had been in school her life had been so changed, such
different temptations to do wrong, such different helps to do right,
that she had thought little of her influence upon her companions. The
letter of her mother was almost a shock, as, for the first time, it
brought up to her what she felt had been her neglect.

All these months here, and what had she ever done or said that would
tell for Jesus? Three room-mates; had she ever tried, from the first
of her coming among them, to help them into a Christian life? To be
sure they had their set times for private devotions, time required by
the rules, when every pupil was expected to read her Bible, if nothing
more. That they had all done, and Dorothy had "entered into her
closet, and shut her door." There could be no doubt that she had
prayed to her Father which is in secret, and her Father which seeth in
secret had rewarded her openly; for, often, when she came back among
them, her face had been so full of sweet peacefulness. "Dorothy's
influence has been the one for good, not mine," Marion thought, with
that true humility which is a Christian grace. As for Gladys, why she
was Gladys, and there was no one like her. So generous and noble, so
true and faithful; I must learn of her surely, not she of me; but
Susan! It must be confessed, that in the busy days Marion had almost
forgotten Susan's dishonesty. She did not like her, often she found it
hard to be even patient, much less kind, to her, and Susan was
sometimes very trying. She could, and did, say many unkind words,
"spites me," Marion said to herself; but generally bore the ill-humor
pityingly, feeling sorry for a girl who could do as Susan had done.
The fact was, that while Marion did not have Susan's guilt often in
her mind, Susan never forgot it when she saw Marion. _Never_ may be
too strong a word to use; but Susan was constantly uneasy in Marion's
company, often positively unhappy, wishing over and over again she had
never heard of "Storied West Rock," especially never, never been
tempted to steal that story, and palm it off for her own.

Not a day of her life but she expected to be found out, to be
disgraced before the school, perhaps to be expelled. Poor Susan! she
is reaping now the result of her selfish lifetime ambition to be among
the noted ones, to be thought of first, and treated like a heroine!
Ambition is a very laudable thing; we should all try to do our best,
but never should it lead us into doing selfish, mean, dishonorable
things; then it becomes a sin and not a virtue.

It was the weakness, nay, something worse, in Susan's character, as we
all know, always leading her into trouble, because it was so wholly
selfish.

If Marion could have reasoned all this out as we can, she would have
had fewer compunctions of conscience as she sat holding her mother's
letter in her hand, thinking over its contents.

It was some time before she could fully enjoy all the items of family
news it contained. Then they drew her pleasantly back to the dear
home, the small parish, and the life-long friends she had left there.

Gladys had been watching her as she read the letter, amused and
interested by the different phases of feeling her face showed; when
she saw her fold it up, she asked,--

"What's happened, Marion? You've looked as if you had been at a
funeral, and then at a wedding, while you were reading it."

"I have--almost," and Marion could laugh now. "Let me read you the
last part of it; it is so like home."

Then Marion read them about the children's sum, and the parishioners'
kindness; and Gladys, as she listened, planned how she could help
Marion without her ever suspecting from whence the help came, and
Dorothy thought what a different home it must be from that she had
left at Rock Cove.

Marion, instead of studying her next lesson, as it was obviously her
duty to do, sat with her book open before her, wondering how she could
immediately enter upon a course of conduct that would give her a more
enlarged and prominent religious influence. Never once suspecting that
this was a way the tempter was taking to lead her from the true
self-abnegation which is so vital to a growing Christian character.
Single-eyed to God's glory!

Miss Ashton in the recitation looked at her inquiringly several times.
What could have happened, she wondered, to make Marion blunder so? She
was generally prompt, and, considering how much she had to do to keep
up with her class, correct; but to-day she seemed distraught, as if
her mind were anywhere but upon her recitation. She stopped her after
the lesson was finished, and asked her if she were sick; but Marion
was well, nor was she, in her preoccupation, aware that Miss Ashton
was not pleased.

She answered her carelessly, which increased the teacher's uneasiness,
and made her ask a little sharply, "What is it, Marion? You did badly
in your recitation to-day."

"Ma'am!" said Marion, looking at her in surprise.

"I said you made a bad recitation," repeated Miss Ashton. "What has
happened?"

Then the color grew deeper and deeper in Marion's face. "My letter
from my mother," she said, "O Miss Ashton, I am so sorry!"

"Sorry for what? Is any one sick?"

"No, Miss Ashton; but--but--there was so much to think of in it. I am
so sorry I did badly."

Now Miss Ashton smiled. "If that is all," she said, "I will try to
forgive you. Can't you tell me something about your home letter? I
like to hear of them."

Then Marion poured out her whole heart, thanking her kind teacher
simply and winningly for her own kind letter to the Western home, but
giving no hint of the seed of evil the letter may have sown.



CHAPTER XXXII.

PENITENT.


Marion's first plan in order to extend her religious influence was to
get up a small prayer-meeting in her room.

To be sure, the room was shared by three others, and she had never
quite gotten over the uncomfortable feeling that she was an intruder,
particularly as Susan so often showed hostility to her; but a
prayer-meeting surely was a thing no right-minded girl ought to object
to. Of Dorothy's approval she had no doubt. Gladys, if she did not
wish to stay, would go away without the least hesitation. Susan! What
Susan would do, who could tell? Knowing the need she had of a vital
change in character, in order to be a Christian, Marion made no
attempt to conceal from herself that her conversion alone was an
object worth earnest and constant prayer; really the reward for the
conquering of any diffidence she might have to overcome in instituting
the meeting. It was not an hour after she had decided upon the twelve
girls she would invite, before the tempter had her in his power again.
She was planning the order of exercises for the meeting, which was as
it should be; but it was not as right that she was leaping forward in
her thoughts to the criticisms which the girls would make upon the
part she should take, the hope that they would admire her fluency and
spirituality, and say to her when they were leaving the room,--

"O Marion! how much good you have done us! We shall be grateful to you
as long as we live."

If any one had told her that here, by this same desire for
self-aggrandizement, or, to call it by its more common name of
popularity, Susan had fallen, she would have been astonished indeed.

Prayer-meetings were by no means uncommon in this academy; but they
were under the care of a teacher, and it was not long before the
necessity of asking leave for the one in her room occurred to Marion;
but here was a difficulty! Would not Miss Ashton ask her questions
about this, which she would find difficult to answer; such as, "What
made her propose it? What did she expect to accomplish?" If she did
ask these, what could she say?

There followed another day of poor recitations, and Marion, for almost
the first time since she joined the school, was undeniably cross. By
night she was sitting on the penitential stool, ashamed, tired, and
full of wonder as to what had happened to her. As is not unusual in
such cases, she was inclined to blame every one but herself. Miss
Palmer had lost her patience with her because she hesitated over a
difficult place in her mathematical lesson, and had snapped her up
before the class; Anna Dawson had laughed at her blunder, and the
whole class had most unkindly smiled. Dorothy had put her arm around
her and asked her if she was sick, when she knew there was nothing the
matter with her. Even Gladys had stopped scratching with her
slate-pencil, looking at her in a way that said as plainly as words
could, "What a nervous thing you are, not to bear the scratching of a
pencil without wincing;" and as for Susan, tormenting as she had been
on other days, she had been angelic in comparison with this. After
all, she had too much good common-sense and true religious feeling to
sit upon her stool long without beneficial results. It was nearly time
for the lights to be put out before she began to see the first thing
to be done was the right one; that is always sure. Do the duty nearest
to you, then those more distant fall readily into line and are easily
met. This was, to see Miss Ashton, no matter how awkward it would be
to tell her that the thought of the prayer-meeting was first put into
her head by Miss Ashton's letter home; that before, her religious
influence had not been a thing of which she had for a moment thought,
but that now she wished to make it tell.

"I'll go at once," she said to herself. "I won't give it up because
I'm a coward. I shall not sleep a wink unless it's settled. Life is
short; death may come at any unexpected moment. I should not like to
have my Judge ask why I had not done my duty, when, perchance, I, even
I, might have been a poor, weak instrument, but still an instrument,
in saving a soul."

In this spirit Marion went to Miss Ashton's room, quite forgetting the
lateness of the hour, and knocked timidly at the door.

Miss Ashton, wearied by her day's anxieties, did not approve of these
late calls, and only answered them for fear of sickness, so it was
some time before she said, "Come in."

She was not surprised to see Marion, for Miss Palmer had already
reported her failure in the mathematical class; but she said kindly,

"What is wrong now, Marion? Have you had another letter from home?"

"No, Miss Ashton; it is--it was--I mean, I wanted to ask you if you
had any objection to my having a prayer-meeting in my room?"

"A prayer-meeting in your room?" repeated Miss Ashton. "Why do you ask
it?"

This was the question Marion had expected; but now, with Miss Ashton
looking straight in her eyes, she hesitated to answer it.

"I thought--I hoped," she blundered at last, "that I might do more
good,--might, perhaps, save Susan."

"I see," and Miss Ashton looked very grave now. "Your mother has told
you what I wrote her of your religious influence here, and you wish to
increase it; but why Susan particularly?"

Now Marion found herself unexpectedly in deep waters. If she attempted
to answer this question, what disclosures she would have to make! A
tell-tale! A mischief-maker! A character of all others she despised,
and so did, she well knew, the whole school. She hung her head, the
color coming into her face, and the tears into her eyes.

"There is something wrong here," Miss Ashton thought, but she only
said,--

"I know Dorothy is a good girl; I am very fond of Gladys; but why do
you select Susan as the one in the whole school to be prayed for, or
with?"

If an equivocation had been natural or easy to Marion, she might have
been ready with several now, which perhaps would have satisfied Miss
Ashton; but she was a straightforward, honest girl, who never in her
whole life had been placed before where she hesitated what to answer;
if she had been a culprit to-night, she would hardly have looked more
utterly discomfited than standing there trying to look Miss Ashton in
the face.

"You do not choose to answer me," Miss Ashton said after waiting a
moment. "Very well, then, we will go back to the prayer-meetings; I
think it would be unwise for you to attempt any such thing. You might
at first find a few girls who would be willing to come, but they would
soon tire of it, and you would find yourself alone, unless Dorothy's
kind heart made her willing to remain. Let me tell you, my dear
Marion, the best, in fact the only way for a pupil to exert a strong
and lasting religious influence is by living a consistent Christian
life. What you _are_ always tells, never what you may appear. If you
are truly desirous to exert this influence, you will let your
companions see it in your daily walk and conversation. All the
prayer-meetings you could have would be useless, if you yourself
failed in a Christian grace.

"To be kind, loving, gentle, true, faithful in all your duties, great
and small, that is what your parents and I hope for in you. I had
almost said, and I am sure you will not misunderstand me, I would
rather have the influence of good recitations, strict observance of
rules, lady-like behavior in all places and at all times, than a
prayer-meeting in your room every night in the week. Now it is late;
go back, and if you do not wish to tell me what is wrong with Susan, I
must be all the more observant of her myself. Good-night."

Marion said "Good-night" faintly; certainly this was a very different
reception from what she had expected. "She wants me to be perfect,"
she said to herself fretfully, "and she knows that I never can be;
then Susan! What have I done? Oh, dear! dear! I wish I had never
thought about a prayer-meeting."

So far she had only dimly seen where her motives had been wrong, but
she felt their check.

Fräulein Sausmann met her on her way to her room.

"Why, Marione!" she said, drawing her little self erect, and trying to
look very dignified, "I am astonish! I am regret! You am very onright.
You am to be gone to Fräulein Ashton next day and say you regret; I
determine on it! Marione, you stand-under?"

"I have just come from Miss Ashton," said Marion gravely.

"You has just come! Very bad. You _schlecht Fräulein_! What you for
done?"

"Nothing, Fräulein. At least," correcting herself as she remembered
Susan, "I hope nothing _schlecht_."

"You do not say right, Marione; I shame you German speak so
_schlecht_." Then the Fräulein laughed merrily, and standing on the
tips of her little toes she kissed Marion on both cheeks.

The kisses went right to Marion's heart, cheered and comforted her so
her face had a less troubled look as she entered her room.

Susan was sitting at the table studying, and the searching glance she
gave her made the color rush into Marion's face.

"She's gone and told of me, the ugly, mean, old thing," thought Susan.
"I knew she would sooner or later. Now I'm in for it!"

In vain she tried to fasten her attention on her book again. Over and
over the consequences of the disclosure she went with beating heart.
"Oh, if I had never, never, never done it!" she said to herself in the
helpless, hopeless way that attends a wrong action. The short-lived
celebrity the story had given her had all died away, nothing remained
but this dreadful regret, and fear of what was to come.

When she saw Marion go into her bedroom, she had almost a mind to
follow her and confess the truth. Then she thought Marion knew it
already, had perhaps told Miss Ashton, and a better thing to do would
be to go to Miss Ashton and make the confession; to go at once, this
very night, before she had a chance to tell the whole school: perhaps
if she did, Miss Ashton would be merciful, would scold and forgive
her. She looked at the clock; if she made haste there would be five
minutes before they must put their lights out! Once done, what a
relief it would be!

She darted from the room, not daring to trust a moment's delay; but
when she reached the corridor the lights were already turned out. All
would soon be darkness, and then none were allowed to leave their
rooms.

But Susan was desperate now; she knew her way down the long flights of
stairs so well that she had no fear: her only thought was to reach
Miss Ashton, to confess, to know her punishment, if punishment there
were to be.

She flitted softly, like a ghost, through the long corridors, down the
long stairs; but when she came to Miss Ashton's door her gas was
turned out, and that meant she would not open her door again that
night.

"I'll knock! Perhaps, just perhaps, she will let me in;" but there was
no response to Susan's knock. She stood waiting until she shivered
with nervous dread from head to foot, then she crept back to her room,
and tossed restlessly through a weary night.



CHAPTER XXXIII.

SPRING VACATION.


The bright light of a sunny day has a wonderful influence in quieting
fears, and the next morning when Susan waked and found her room
cheerful, everything looking natural and pleasant, her first feeling
was one of shame for all she had suffered the night before. Nothing
was easier now than to make herself believe she had been foolish in
her suspicion of Marion; indeed, it was not long before she had made
herself almost sure that Marion knew nothing about the stolen story,
that she had wronged her in suspecting, even if she did, that she
would be mean enough to betray her. For the first time since she
copied it, she treated Marion not only kindly but affectionately, much
to Marion's surprise, for she knew how near she had come to betraying
Susan, and remembered Miss Ashton's saying, "If you do not choose to
tell me what is the matter with Susan, I must be all the more
observant of her myself." Would she watch her? Could she ever in any
way find out about "Storied West Rock"? "At any rate," Marion
comforted herself by thinking, "it will not be through me; but I wish
I had not said even what I did."

She wondered over Susan's advances, and met them coldly, shamefacedly.
"If you only knew," she said to herself, "how different you would
act!"

Very important as these events seem to those particularly engaged,
they make little apparent difference in the life of a large school.

Marion again made faulty recitations, and again her teachers were
troubled by them; but Susan, having in a measure, she could hardly
understand how, been thrown off her fears, was unusually brilliant in
her classes, winning what she valued so much, words of approbation
from her teachers.

The school work went on now with much success. The holiday break-up
was fairly over. Washington's Birthday was not celebrated other than
with an abundance of little hatchets of all designs and colors. Easter
was too far away, and the _animus_ of the school was for quiet study.
Even the club held meetings less often. The two girls who had been the
chief planners of whatever mischief originated from it, Mamie Smythe
and Annie Ormond, were on their best behavior, knowing full well that
another misdeed, no matter of what character, meant expulsion.

Upon these weeks preceding the Easter vacation, Miss Ashton had
learned to rely for the best part of the year's work; so uneventfully,
with the exception of now and then some slight escapade on the part
of the pupils, the term rolled on to its spring rest.

Easter came in the early part of April this year, but the season was
backward, even snowstorms coming now and then; and fierce winds, more
like March than April, forbade any hunting for early flowers, or
looking, as so many longing eyes did, for the swelling of the bare
branches of the trees, or the first shadowing of the green tassels
that waited to show themselves to warm sunbeams.

There were no examinations in this school, or marking the grade of
scholarship; but for all that, there was never a doubt who were the
best scholars, or who would have taken the prizes if any had been
given.

A week before Easter, Marion received a letter from her Aunt Betty,
inviting her to spend the coming recess with her; but she declined it,
asking that the visit might be deferred until the long summer
vacation, when, as she was probably not to return home, she should be
very glad to come. Evidently Aunt Betty had forgotten whatever was
unpleasant in the Thanksgiving visit, and to be among the mountains
through some of the hot summer weeks seemed to Marion would be
pleasant indeed. But when the vacation came, and she found herself
with only a few other girls almost alone in the great desolated
building, she more than once regretted her decision.

A pleasant young teacher of gymnastics, Miss Orne, was left in
charge, but she was tired, and more anxious to rest than to amuse the
girls, so they were left pretty much to themselves, and passed the ten
days of vacation in the best way they could.

"Girls will be girls," that was what Miss Ashton said when the pupils
who had been at home came back with their summer outfits, and she
found the whole attention of the school given for a few days to their
examination and comparison.

"If I could hear you talk half as much about any branch of study, or
your art lessons, as I hear you talk about your new clothes," she said
with a pleasant laugh, "I should be delighted; but I suppose nothing
seems more important to you now than the fashions, and, on the whole,
I don't know but I am glad of it."

It was this interest in their many-sided life that gave Miss Ashton
her great influence over them. The girls would take articles of
apparel to her for her inspection, and find them doubly valuable if
they met with her approval.

There was one set whose wardrobes were objects of especial interest:
those were the graduating class. Next to her bridal dress, there seems
to be no other that is thought so much of, not only by the girl, but
by her parents.

It would be idle, perhaps out of place here, to say how much display
and foolish extravagance there is at such a time. Where it can be well
afforded, it is of comparatively little importance, but a great deal
of heartache might be avoided, if the simplest costume were decided
to be the most suitable. Parents whose means have been tried to the
utmost to give their child the advantages of the school, who have
never hesitated over any labor or self-denial in order to accomplish
it, find themselves at last called to confront the question of
dollars, hardly earned or saved, squandered on a dress almost
worthless for future use, on pain of seeing their child mortified and
unhappy because she cannot, on this eventful occasion, look as well as
the others. Even Miss Ashton's influence, great as it was, had failed
to accomplish any good result in changing this long-established
custom; and for reasons best known to themselves, the present senior
class had voted in their class meetings to make their graduation day
one long to be remembered in the annals of the school.



CHAPTER XXXIV.

NEMESIS.


Until this year this academy had had a salutatory and a valedictory in
the same way they did at Atherton Academy, given for the best
scholarship as it was there; but as this was considered a finishing
school, differing therefore from the boys' school, which was only
preparatory for other and higher education, it had been decided to
change the graduating exercises to the four best essays, read by their
writers, an address by some distinguished orator, music, and the
giving of diplomas.

All the graduating class were expected to write an essay, the Faculty
to judge of their merits, and to choose from among them four of the
best.

Not only the interest of the class, but of the whole school, was
intense on the writing of these essays. The literary merit of the
teaching was to be shown by them; and as no graduating class ever
comes to its commencement without pride in, and love for its _alma
mater_, so it seemed as if the future reputation of the academy must
depend upon the way this class acquitted itself.

If it had been a boys' school, bets would have run high on the
supposed best writers; here there was nothing of the kind, only those
who had done well whenever compositions had been read to the school
were chosen as girls of especial interest, watched, _fêted_, praised,
encouraged, in short, prematurely made heroines of.

Among the most conspicuous was Susan Downer. Though so little had been
said of late of her success in writing "Storied West Rock," it was now
recalled; and, as the weeks flew by before commencement, she was
daily, sometimes it seemed to her hourly, reminded of it, and
importuned to be sure and do as well now.

Poor Susan! She knew how really unable she would be to do anything
that would compare with it. Over and over again she made the attempt;
but as writing was not one of her natural gifts, and as now, whenever
she tried even to choose a subject, the theft came up before her, and
she went through the whole, from the first temptation to the last
crowned success, she could think of nothing else but the inevitable
punishment that somewhere and at some time was waiting for her.

There was but one hope she thought left for her, to see her brother
Jerry, and tease him into giving her one of his essays, that she might
use it as it was if possible, if not, with alterations that would make
it suit the occasion. She would tell him that she only wanted to read
it and get some hints from it, and once in her possession, she could
do as she pleased.

When she received his note refusing her invitation to come to the
academy, her disappointment and her helplessness may be readily
imagined, for she had allowed herself to depend upon him.

To write to him for an essay she knew would be useless; he would only
laugh, and say,--

"Nonsense! what does Sue want one for?" but if he were with her, he
was so kind and good-natured, he would do almost anything she asked.

But one thing now remained. Miss Randall, their teacher in rhetoric,
who had the charge of the essays, gave subjects to those who wished
them; she could apply to her, and perhaps find in the library
something to help her.

Miss Randall gave her, remembering her former success, and hoping she
would do even better now, an historical subject, "The Signal of Paul
Revere."

"There have not been more than a hundred poems written on the same
subject," she said in a little talk she had with Susan; "but if you
can write poetry, and succeed, all the better for Montrose Academy. We
will send it to the newspaper, and it may be the beginning of making
your name famous."

What a temptation to a girl like Susan!

If--only IF she could find one of those hundred or more poems, find
perhaps the whole of them, and make rhymes (easy work that), and be
"famous," what a glorious thing it would be!

Here was, alas, no repentance, or even fears of doing wrong. It almost
seemed as if the new temptation had obliterated memory of the old
theft, and she was about to enter upon what she had always longed for,
a career of fame.

She began to haunt the library, particularly the shelves of American
poetry; but there was nothing to be found that had special reference
to Paul Revere, not one of "the hundred and more pieces."

In this way she wasted a great deal of precious time, until,
disappointed and discouraged, she was about asking for another
subject, when she came upon a volume of collections of poetry written
on the late war, and a sudden thought that this might be made to
answer the same purpose unfortunately struck her. She had read this
kind of poetry but little; but had enough literary taste to make her
choose one of the very best, consequently most popular and well known,
for her model. "Model," she said to herself when, delighted, she found
how easily she could use it with alterations.

No miser was ever made more happy by a bag of gold than she by this
discovery. "Famous! famous! An honor to Montrose Academy!"

In the end, when her poem was ready for Miss Randall's examination,
she read it aloud to her room-mates, and their astonishment and
delight over her success they were too generous to withhold.

Dorothy had worked very hard on her essay. It was carefully and well
done; but Gladys's, short, brilliant, straight to the point, without
pause or repetition, was an effort of which an older, more accustomed
writer need not have been ashamed.

But neither of these, they decided, could hold any comparison with
Susan's. It was Marion who, though she did not recognize the poem,
could not forget "Storied West Rock," that listened with a troubled
face, and only added a few faint words to those of the others'
praise.

"She is an ugly, jealous old thing!" Susan made herself think, as she
watched her narrowly; but then would come the thought, "I wonder if
she suspects me?" remembering the story, and a cloud fell instantly
over the bright sky of her hopes. But she was not to escape so easily;
when she carried her poem to Miss Randall, she only glanced at the
heading and down over the neatly written page, without reading a line,
then said, "Come to me to-morrow afternoon at three, and we will read
and correct it together. I hope you have made a success of it."

Susan almost counted the hours until three came; then, proud and
happy, she presented herself at Miss Randall's door.

The teacher had the poem on a table before her, and by its side a
book, the covers of which Susan recognized at once as being the volume
from which she had stolen the poem.

"Sit down, Susan," said Miss Randall gravely.

Then without another word she began to read first a line of Susan's
poem, then one from the poem in the book, pausing over the changed
words, to substitute the one for the other.

In truth, the changes were very few, how few Susan had not realized
until they were thus set before her.

"This is hardly what might be called a parody," Miss Randall said as
she ended, looking gravely into Susan's face. "I suppose you had no
idea of passing it off as your own work?"

How inevitably one wrong act leads to another! There is an old saying
that "one lie takes a hundred to cover it," and it is true.

Susan had confidently expected this to pass for her own; but now,
without a moment's hesitation, looking Miss Randall fully in the face,
with a pleasant smile she said,--

"Oh, no, Miss Randall! I knew you would recognize it; you are too good
a teacher of literature not to suppose you would be familiar with such
a fine poem as that. I thought if I made a successful parody, it would
be better than any poor thing I could write myself."

Miss Randall was for a moment staggered. Was the girl telling her the
truth, or was it only a readily gotten-up excuse? She waited a moment
before she answered, then she said coldly,--

"This will not pass at all. I am sorry you have wasted so much time
upon it; you will begin at once upon your essay, and, for fear you
will be tempted to use some thoughts not your own, I will change the
subject. You will write an essay on 'Truth.' Good-afternoon."

"Miss Ashton!" said Miss Randall, presenting herself, a few moments
after Susan's departure, in the principal's room. "I am afraid Susan
Downer never wrote that excellent story, 'Storied West Rock.' I always
have wondered over it, for it was far superior to anything else she
has done since she has been in school, and now, I am sure, though she
denies it in a very plausible way, that she has copied a poem, with
only a few immaterial changes to make it fit her subject, intending to
palm it off for her own."

Miss Ashton did not answer at once; she was busy thinking. With the
other teachers, her surprise had been great at the ability Susan had
shown in the story; and now, instantly, she connected this report of
Miss Randall's with Marion's embarrassed mention of Susan's name, and
her own intention to discover what was wrong. Perhaps Susan had stolen
it, and Marion had become acquainted with the theft. It was not
impossible, at any rate she must inquire into it, so she said to Miss
Randall.

A day or two was allowed to pass before any further notice was taken
of it, then Miss Ashton had decided to spare Marion, and call Susan
directly to her. Susan had word sent to her that she was wanted in the
principal's room, and obeyed the summons with a heavy heart.

"Susan!" said Miss Ashton, "I am willing to believe that you copied
your poem with the innocent intention of passing it off as a parody,
and that you really did not know it could not be accepted, but there
is one other thing that troubles me. Some time ago you wrote an
excellent story called 'Storied West Rock;' was that yours, or another
parody?"

[Illustration: Susan dropped her head upon her chest, the color surging
into her face, and the tears dropping from her eyes; but she did not
speak a word.--Page 343. _Miss Ashton's New Pupil._]

Susan! Susan! Tell the truth now; tell it at once, simply, honestly.
Do not conceal even how you have suffered from it, not even how unkind
and cross you have been to Marion. Own it all at once, quickly,
without giving the tempter even a chance to tempt you! Don't you know,
don't you see, how much your future depends upon it?

Susan dropped her head upon her chest, the color surging into her
face, and the tears dropping from her eyes; but she did not speak a
word.

In the silence of the room you could have heard a pin drop.

Miss Ashton was answered. When she spoke there was tenderness and deep
feeling in her voice.

"Will you tell me the truth, Susan?" she said. But Susan did not
answer; she only burst into a fit of hysterical sobbing, and after
waiting a few moments in vain for it to subside, Miss Ashton added,
"You had better go to your room now. I hope you will come soon to me,
and tell me the whole truth."

Susan rose slowly, lifting her swollen and discolored face up to Miss
Ashton with an entreating look the kind principal found it hard to
resist; but she did. She held the door open for Susan to pass out, and
watched her go down the corridor with a troubled heart.



CHAPTER XXXV.

FAREWELL WORDS.


There was little difficulty when the time came in deciding the four
essays to be chosen. Kate Underwood's was in most respects the best,
and would take the place usually filled by the valedictory. Dorothy
Ottley's was the next strongest, and by far the most thoughtful. To no
one's surprise as much as to her own, Gladys Philbrick's was the most
brilliant, and Edna Grant's, the best scholar in English literature,
the most scholarly.

So the important question was settled a week before commencement, and
the young ladies were given their choice, either to read their pieces
or to speak them.

Greatly to the surprise of the teachers they all chose to speak them,
and the elocution teacher was at once put to drilling them for the
occasion.

The choice was pleasantly accepted by the school. Every one of the
four were favorites, and whatever disappointment the rejected
essayists felt, they kept wisely to themselves.

Susan Downer's essay on "Truth" was a miserable failure, and a
disgraced future was the only one she could see opening before her.

She could not summon courage to make a confession to Miss Ashton; she
decided, after hours and hours of troubled and vexatious thought, to
be silent, trusting to her speedy removal from the school to silence
all further questionings.

Such a busy week as this was now at the academy! The mail brought
every day piles of letters to teachers and scholars, which must be
answered. Invitations were to be sent. All the preliminaries of a
great gathering were to be attended to, and both the excitement and
the listlessness attendant on a closing year were to be met and
combated.

It would be interesting if we could tell the story of each individual
during this eventful period, but it would fill a whole volume by
itself, so we must be contented by telling simply of those with whom
we have had the most to do.

Miss Ashton tried as far as she could, with so much else to attend to,
to have a little personal conversation with every pupil who had been
under her care for the year. Sometimes she saw them alone, sometimes
she took them in classes, according to the importance of what she had
to say. Before talking with Marion she sent the following short letter
to her mother:--

  MY DEAR MRS. PARKE,--I should esteem it a personal favor if you
  would allow your daughter Marion to remain with me free from
  expense to you for another year. She has proved in all regards
  not only an excellent scholar, but, as I wrote you before, the
  influence of her lovely Christian character has been of great
  value to me. I shall be glad to do all I can to help her into
  the influential and well-balanced future I see before her. You
  need have no fear that a feeling of indebtedness to me will be a
  burden to her, delicate as her feelings are. I propose, by
  putting her at the head of my post-office department, to fully
  repay myself for all she will receive. This will not interfere
  with her studies or her needed recreation, but will come at
  hours she can easily spare.

  Hoping this will meet with your cordial approbation,

                                          Truly yours,
                                                   A. S. ASHTON.

It was not until an answer to this had been received that Miss Ashton
sent for Marion to come and see her. Marion had in the mean time a
letter from her mother, asking if she wished to remain. To which
Marion had answered, "Yes! Yes!" So now all Miss Ashton had to do was
to tell Marion how satisfied she was both with her and the
arrangement, and Marion to tell her kind teacher of her delight in
remaining.

Gladys was to return with her father after a pleasant summer spent at
Rock Cove, and to her, Miss Ashton had much wise advice to give
regarding her future. A motherless child, an indulgent, though wise
father, no brothers or sisters, only a crowd of worshipping
dependents; probably not to another girl in the whole school was there
to come years which would test the character as hers was to be
tested.

Excellent advice was given; the question was, Would it be followed?

For Dorothy there was less doubt. Miss Ashton had already found a
school for her, where, excellently well-fitted, she could begin in the
fall her career as a teacher. Of her success, only Dorothy felt a
doubt.

Susan Downer, Miss Ashton had put off seeing until the last, hoping
the girl would come herself and confess, if there was anything to
confess; but as day after day went by, Susan shunning her when she
could, and when she could not, passing her with averted face, Miss
Ashton saw she must take the matter into her own hands and settle it
one way or other; to ignore was to condone it. It was, therefore, only
a few days before the close of the term when Susan, who had grown
almost buoyant in her hope of escape, found herself summoned to what
she was sure was to be her final trial.

"She can't expel me now," she said to herself triumphantly as she went
to the room, "and she can't withhold my diploma, for that is for
scholarship, and I stand well there, so I'm safe at any rate."

Still it was a trembling, pale girl that answered Miss Ashton's "Come
in."

"I do not want you to leave me uncertain both of your truth and
honesty," she said gently. "I have been waiting, hoping you would come
to me of yourself, but as you have not, I _demand_ now an answer to my
question. Did, or did you not write 'Storied West Rock'?"

"I d--i--d."

Before she had time to finish the answer, Miss Ashton had said
emphatically, "_not_; I know the truth, Susan! I want to spare you
the falsehood I see you are about to tell."

"I am not going to ask you where you found the story; I only want you
to see, and see so plainly that you can never forget it, how small and
mean a thing such a deceit, or any deceit, is, and how sure in the end
to turn to the injury of the one who commits it. Of all the class that
are to leave me, you, Susan Downer, carry away with you my greatest
anxiety for your future. God help and save you, you poor child!"

Miss Ashton's voice had tears in it as she ceased speaking, and those,
more than any words she had spoken, reached and moved the girl before
her.

"O Miss Ashton! Miss Ashton!" Susan cried, rushing to her, and
throwing both arms around her neck. "Do, _do_, _do_, please forgive
me? It was Marion Parke's book, and I thought no one would ever know.
I've been so sorry. I'd have given worlds, worlds, _worlds_, if I had
never seen it! O Miss Ashton, what shall I, shall I do?"

"Ask God to forgive you," Miss Ashton said solemnly. "It is another
and a greater judge than I that has the power to do so. If I were only
sure," but she did not finish her sentence, she only loosened Susan's
arms gently from around her neck, then said "good-by" to her, and
watched her once more as she went away down the corridor.

"And Marion Parke knew it all the time, but would not tell on Susan,"
she said to herself as she turned back into her room. "Marion is a
girl to be depended upon, I am glad she is to stay with me."

"Kate Underwood," she said, when Kate's time came for the farewell
counsel, taking both of the girl's hands in hers, "I'm proud of you.
You have done of late what many older and wiser persons have failed to
do,--learned the lesson, which I hope has been learned for your
lifetime, that there is no fun in things, however written or spoken,
that hurt other's feelings. I have seen you many times thoughtful and
tender, when your face was alive with the ridiculous thing you saw or
heard. Kate, I feel so much safer to let you go from me now than I
should have six, even three months ago. Tell me, will you try not to
forget?"

"I'll be good as long as I live. I'll never make fun, no, not even of
myself," burst out Kate, "though now I'm dying to get before a mirror
and see how I must have looked when you thought me so thoughtful. Was
it so, Miss Ashton?" and Kate made up a face which a sterner rebuker
than her teacher could not have seen without a smile.

"There's no use, Kate," she said; "go now, only don't forget."

And Kate made a sweeping courtesy and disappeared.

With Mamie Smythe she had a long talk, not one word of which did
either divulge. In that hour it would be safe to say Mamie learned
some life-lessons which it will be hard for her to forget.

And so the time passed on. Recitations ceased four days before
commencement, and the girls, those even who thought themselves over
busy before, found every hour brought a fresh claim upon their time.

"Our bee-hive," Miss Ashton called it, and the girls called her the
"queen bee," and made many secret plans about the various gifts they
were to give her the last night of the term. The ceremony this year
was to be a public one, therefore of great importance.



CHAPTER XXXVI.

WOMEN'S WORK.


The night before commencement Miss Ashton had reserved for the reading
of notices of woman's work and success. This she did at that time,
because she wished her pupils to carry away a full belief not only in
their own abilities, but also in the position which, with diligence,
these abilities would enable them to reach.

The whole school gathered in the hall. Miss Ashton had requested that
the notices should be handed in to her a few days previous. Now she
said, "Young ladies, I am both surprised and pleased at the readiness
and faithfulness with which you have responded to my request. I have
here," lifting a pretty, ribbon-tied basket, "at least one hundred
different notices! Just think! _one hundred_ instances in which women
have tried, and have succeeded in earning not only a respectable, but
a successful livelihood. This fact speaks so well for itself, that all
remaining for me to do is to read you some of these notices. I must
make a selection from among them, and the first one I will read I am
sure will interest you:--

"'Mlle. Sarmisa Bileesco, the first woman admitted to the bar in
France, is said to have taken the highest rank in a class of five
hundred men at the École du Droit, Paris, where she studied after
receiving the degree of Bachelor of Letters and Science in Bucharest.
She has begun to practise law in the latter city, where her father is
a banker.'

"Here is another one in the same profession:--

"'Mrs. Tel Sone is a leading lawyer in Japan, and has a large and
profitable practice.'

"'Miss Jean Gordon of Cincinnati, upon whom will be conferred the
degree of Ph.G. at the Philadelphia College of Pharmacy, has earned
the highest average ever attained by any woman graduate of that
institution. Out of one hundred and eighty-four graduates of this
year, only six obtained the highest rating of "distinguished." Miss
Gordon was one of the six. She was the only woman in her class, and
had to contend with bright young men.'

"Miss Gordon, I think," remarked Miss Ashton, "has a distinguished
future before her.

"'Female professors and lecturers are to be introduced into the
Michigan University at Ann Arbor.'

"'Two female medical graduates have been appointed house surgeons at
two English hospitals.'

"'An Ohio girl discovered a way of transforming a barrel of petroleum
into ten thousand cubic feet of gas.'

"'Another woman has constructed a machine which will make as many
paper bags in a day as thirty men can put together.'

"'An invention which you hardly would have expected from a woman, is a
war vessel that is susceptible of being converted off-hand into a fort
by simply taking it apart.'

"'Chicago, March 25. Miss Sophia G. Hayden of Boston wins the one
thousand-dollar prize offered for the best design for the woman's
buildings of the World's Fair.'" (A sensation among the scholars,
which pleased Miss Ashton). "'Miss Lois L. Howe, also of Boston, was
second, five hundred dollars, and Miss Laura Hayes of Chicago gets the
two hundred and fifty dollars offered for the third best design.

"'Miss Hayden is a first-honor graduate of the Massachusetts Institute
of Technology, and Miss Howe is from the same institution. Miss Hayes
is Mrs. Potter Palmer's private secretary.

"'As soon as the awards were made, Miss Hayden was wired to come to
Chicago immediately and elaborate her plans. The design is one of
marked simplicity. It is in the Italian renaissance style, with
colonnades, broken by centre and end pavilions. The structure is to be
200 × 400 feet, and 50 feet to the cornice. There is no dome. The
chief feature of ornamentation is the entrance.'

"I am glad to tell those of you young ladies who feel symptoms of
architectural genius only waiting for development, that year by year
this institute is opening its door wider and wider to admit women.
This last year the ten who are new members of it were for the first
time invited to a class supper, going to it matronized by Mrs.
Walker, the wife of the president.

"One other thing I want you to remark. These three young ladies, by
their ability, and the success which is the fruit only of faithful
study, have done more for women's advancement than has been
accomplished for years.

"A man who is a successful architect occupies an important and proud
position; that a woman can do the same is no small help in the
struggle she is now making.

"I recommend them to you as examples, particularly as I know there are
a number among you who will not be content to let graduation from this
school end your educational life.

"The next I shall read you is a notice of women as journalists:--

"'Let me give you a fact about women as journalists in my own office,'
said the editor of one of the largest dailies to me a few days ago.

"'Five years ago I employed one woman on my staff, to-day I have over
twenty, and the best work which appears in our papers is from the pen
of women writers. Of course you cannot give women all sorts of
commissions; but if I want a really conscientious piece of work done
nowadays, I give it to one of our women. I find absolutely they do
their work more thoroughly than do the men.'

"Young ladies, it has always been complained of women that, though
they are quicker, guided by instincts that act promptly and for the
greater part correctly, they are not patient or thorough. Now, as I
have told you so often that it must sound trite to you to have me
repeat it, it is only patient thoroughness that wins. I am glad to
have this editor of one of our largest dailies give this indubitable
testimony that we _can_ be thorough if we will. For those of you who
neither wish nor expect to continue study any further, I will read the
opportunity offered for a bucolic life:--

"'Miss Antoinette Knaggs, a young woman with a good collegiate
education, owns and manages a farm of two hundred acres in Ohio. She
says she made money last year, and expects to make more this year. "I
have tried various ways of farming," she says, "but I find I can get
along best when I manage my farm myself. I tried employing a manager,
but I found he managed chiefly for himself. Then I sub-let to tenants,
and they used up my stock and implements, and the returns were
unsatisfactory. So I have taken the management into my own hands,
planting such crops as I think best, and I find I am a very good
farmer, if I do say it myself.'"

"Said the daughter of a New Hampshire farmer to me a few days ago,"
continued Miss Ashton, "'When my father died my mother took the
control of our whole large farm into her own hands. She managed so
well that we have sold our farm and moved down to suburban Boston,
where we can command the literary advantages she has taught us not
only to prize but to love.' The collegiate education fitted Miss
Knaggs to be a better, wiser farmer. I hope if it shall be the choice
of any of you, you will find yourself abler for your life here."

"I am sure we shall," thought a Dakota young lady, whose father's
broad ranch covered many a goodly acre, and whose secret wish had
always been to own a ranch of her own.

"There seems to be no profession now from which a woman is shut out,
though we hear of fewer among lawyers than in any other profession. I
find only one more among all these notices. 'Fourteen women were
graduated from the university of New York Law School last night, among
the number being Mrs. George B. McClellan, daughter-in-law of the late
General McClellan.' But I well know there have been women associated
with their husbands in the law. Women also with their own offices,
doing a large and important business.

"In England, civil service is open to them; and though it does not
correspond of course with our law, still the same strict education is
needed for success.

"Here is a paper which states the terms on which ladies enter the
civil service.

"'They enter as second-class clerks, receiving $325 a year, rising by
fifteen dollars a year to $400. Here the maximum, which is certainly
small, is reached; but there is promotion by merit to clerkships,
rising to $550 a year, and a few higher places, which go up to $850.
Three lady superintendents each receive up to $2,000, and four
assistant superintendents each $1,000. The work is not difficult, and
the hours are seven a day. An annual holiday of a month is allowed.'

"These wages are no larger than would be paid here for the same
services. I know women have no difficulty, if once elected, in filling
clerkships and secretaryships, and they even have important places in
the treasury department at Washington. A very telling record might be,
probably has been, made of their successes there.

"In the medical profession we all know how rapidly they have risen to
the front. Stories that sound almost fabulous are told of the income
some of the most talented receive; and to show the popularity this new
movement has attained, it is only necessary to state that at the
present day it would be hard to find a town, north, south, east, or
west, which has not its woman doctor. The medical colleges have large
classes of them; and in Europe names of many American girls, if they
do not lead in number, do at least in ability."

Here there was a resolute stamping and clapping, which pleased Miss
Ashton too much for her to attempt to stop it.

"If I had more time I could tell you some wonderful but entirely true
stories of difficult surgical operations being performed in foreign
hospitals by young American women in so remarkable a way that they
excited not only the applause of the fellow-students, but won prizes.

"As this is only one of the professions, I must hurry on to the
ministry. We all know that in some of our denominations there are
numbers of women who occupy the place of settled minister, and do
well. On the whole, however, they may be considered more successful as
lecturers, Bible-readers, and elocution teachers; and then there is a
wide open field to them as actresses and singers; indeed, no public or
private way of earning a livelihood or a reputation is denied them.

"Teaching always has been theirs, and year after year the profession
becomes more and more crowded and the requirements for good teachers
more strict. Many of you, young ladies, I find are looking forward to
this in your immediate future. I need not here urge upon you the
necessity of being well prepared when your day for examination comes.
I have held it up before you during all the past year.

"This is an incomplete list of the great things which I expect you
young ladies of the graduating class to perform. I would not, however,
on any account, forget that broad and specially adapted woman's
work,--the different philanthropic schemes with which this nineteenth
century abounds.

"So many are in women's hands; like women's boards of missions,
children's hospitals, homes for little wanderers, young women's
Christian homes, young women's industrial union, North End missions,
Bible-readers, evangelists, flower committees for supplying the sick
in charity hospitals, providing excursions for poor children,
providing homes in the country for the destitute and orphan children,
society of little wanderers, newspaper boys' home, boot-black boys'
home.

"It is possible for me to name but a small part of them, but those of
you who have the means of helping any one of these objects named, or
any of the many others, will remember, I hope, that wonderful cup of
cold water which, given, shall give to the giver the rich reward.

"This will probably be my last opportunity to speak to you alone as my
school. Let me thank you heartily for all you have done this year, and
some of you for four long years, to make our life together pleasant,
and we hope acceptable to our great Taskmaster. I wish you now, for
myself and all the other teachers, a pleasant vacation, and a safe
return to those of you who are to come back to us."

There were many quiet tears shed among the girls, and Miss Ashton's
eyes were not quite dry.



CHAPTER XXXVII.

COMMENCEMENT.


Commencement morning rose upon Montrose clear, bright, and hot. Almost
with the first dawn of the early day the hum of busy preparation
began. Every hour of the previous day and night had brought parents
and friends, some from great distances, to attend the celebration.

The quiet town swarmed with strangers, all with faces turned toward
the large brick building which, standing boldly prominent on its hill,
had a welcoming look, as if the roses around it, that filled the air
with their delicious fragrance, had blossomed that morning in new and
charming beauty.

The lawn, plentifully besprinkled with small flower-beds, was
elsewhere one broad sheet of velvet green; and the blossoms of every
variety and every hue crowded the beds so cheerfully, so merrily, that
many parents lingered as they passed them, their hearts warming at the
sight of the Eden in which their daughters had lived.

Commencement exercises were to be held in the large hall, to which
ushers appointed for that purpose took all the visitors before the
entrance of the school, so it really made quite an imposing show when
Miss Ashton, arm in arm with the president of the Board of Trustees,
came slowly in, the gentlemen composing the board following, then the
teachers, and after them the pupils in their gay holiday dresses. The
senior class, of course the most prominent, coming onto the stage with
the other dignitaries.

There was nothing of peculiar interest in the exercises that followed.
Commencements all over the country are much the same. The four young
ladies who were to read their essays acquitted themselves well.
Gladys, to her father's great delight, with her soft Southern voice,
her sparkling face, and her easy, self-possessed, graceful ways, was
the undoubted favorite. A storm of applause followed the reading, and
bouquets of flowers fell around her in great profusion.

It was the bestowing of the diplomas that attracted the most
attention.

There was something touching in the gentle smile of the aged president
as, calling each member of the class by her name, he spoke a few Latin
words and handed her the parchment that made her for life an alumna of
Montrose Academy. It was almost as if he had laid his hand on her head
in benediction.

The pleasant dinner that followed was the next marked event of the
day. To this all the school, and as many invited guests as could be
accommodated, sat down, and the large hall was full of the cheerful
voices of those who had come to congratulate and those who were
congratulated. Nothing could have made a more fitting ending to the
home-life of the busy year; so many kindly, cheering words spoken, so
much of hearty encouragement for the coming year.

Pupils and teachers, some of them together for the last time, but
hardly among them an exception to the tender affection which bound
them together.

Susan Downer had been graduated. She held her diploma in her hand as
she went off the stage with the others, but she was far from happy.
"Miss Ashton is glad to have me go," she thought. "She neither
respects nor loves me."

No one noticed her dejection. Amidst the general happiness she seemed
to herself forgotten, almost shunned. "And I had hoped," she thought,
"to make this such a triumphal day!"

It would be idle to waste any sympathy on Susan. There is an old
adage, "As you make your bed, so must you lie in it." She had done a
dishonorable, untrue thing, and had repented only over its
consequences.

It is very sad but true, that what we have once done, or left undone,
said, or not said, can never be recalled. No repentance can efface its
memory; no tears can blot it out; and only one, the great, kind
Father, can forgive.

Susan to the last day of her life will have that act clinging to her.
She can never forget it.

The moral is obvious, needing no words to make it plainer.

Immediately after dinner the school broke up and the departures
began.

The farewells that were spoken, the tears that were shed, the
oft-repeated kisses that were given, it would be difficult to tell.

By twilight the large building began to have a desolated look. Miss
Ashton, pale and tired, stood bravely in a doorway, kissed and wiped
away tears, and silently blessed pupil after pupil in rapid
succession.

The Rock Cove party considerately made their farewells brief, and
taking Marion with them hurried to the evening train that was to carry
them home. Then down over the building settled the beautiful June
twilight, and the year of study was over.



A. L. Burt's Catalogue of Books for Young People by Popular Writers,
52-58 Duane Street, New York

BOOKS FOR GIRLS.

Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. By Lewis Carroll. 12mo, cloth, 42
illustrations, price 75 cents.

"From first to last, almost without exception, this story is delightfully
droll, humorous and illustrated in harmony with the story."--New York
Express.

Through the Looking Glass, and What Alice Found
There. By Lewis Carroll. 12mo, cloth, 50 illustrations, price 75 cents.

"A delight alike to the young people and their elders, extremely funny
both in text and illustrations."--Boston Express.

Little Lucy's Wonderful Globe. By Charlotte M.
Yonge. 12mo, cloth, illustrated, price 75 cents.

"This story is unique among tales intended for children, alike for pleasant
instruction, quaintness of humor, gentle pathos, and the subtlety with
which lessons moral and otherwise are conveyed to children, and perhaps
to their seniors as well."--The Spectator.

Joan's Adventures at the North Pole and Elsewhere.
By Alice Corkran. 12mo, cloth, illustrated, price 75 cents

"Wonderful as the adventures of Joan are, it must be admitted that
they are very naturally worked out and very plausibly presented. Altogether
this is an excellent story for girls."--Saturday Review.

Count Up the Sunny Days: A Story for Girls and Boys.
By C. A. Jones. 12mo, cloth, illustrated, price 75 cents.

"An unusually good children's story."--Glasgow Herald.

The Dove in the Eagle's Nest. By Charlotte M.
Yonge. 12mo, cloth, illustrated, price $1.00.

"Among all the modern writers we believe Miss Yonge first, not in
genius, but in this, that she employs her great abilities for a high and
noble purpose. We know of few modern writers whose works may be so
safely commended as hers."--Cleveland Times.

Jan of the Windmill. A Story of the Plains. By Mrs.
J. H. Ewing. 12mo, cloth, illustrated, price $1.00.

"Never has Mrs. Ewing published a more charming volume, and that
is saying a very great deal. From the first to the last the book overflows
with the strange knowledge of child-nature which so rarely survives
childhood: and moreover, with inexhaustible quiet humor, which
is never anything but innocent and well-bred, never priggish, and never
clumsy."--Academy.

A Sweet Girl Graduate. By L. T. Meade. 12mo, cloth,
illustrated, price $1.00.

"One of this popular author's best. The characters are well imagined
and drawn. The story moves with plenty of spirit and the interest does
not flag until the end too quickly comes."--Providence Journal.

For sale by all booksellers, or sent postpaid on receipt of price by the
publisher. A, L. BURT, 52-58 Duane Street. New York.



BOOKS FOR GIRLS.

Six to Sixteen: A Story for Girls. By Juliana Horatia Ewing. 12mo,
cloth, illustrated, price $1.00.

"There is no doubt as to the good quality and attractiveness of 'Six to
Sixteen.' The book is one which would enrich any girl's book
shelf."--St. James' Gazette.

The Palace Beautiful: A Story for Girls. By L. T. Meade. 12mo, cloth,
illustrated, price $1.00.

"A bright and interesting story. The many admirers of Mrs. L. T. Meade
in this country will be delighted with the 'Palace Beautiful' for more
reasons than one. It is a charming book for girls."--New York Recorder.

A World of Girls: The Story of a School. By L. T. Meade. 12mo, cloth,
illustrated, price $1.00.

"One of those wholesome stories which it does one good to read. It will
afford pure delight to numerous readers. This book should be on every
girl's book shelf."--Boston Home Journal.

The Lady of the Forest: A Story for Girls. By L. T. Meade. 12mo, cloth,
illustrated, price $1.00.

"This story is written in the author's well-known, fresh and easy style.
All girls fond of reading will be charmed by this well-written story. It
is told with the author's customary grace and spirit."--Boston Times.

At the Back of the North Wind. By George Macdonald. 12mo, cloth,
illustrated, price $1.00.

"A very pretty story, with much of the freshness and vigor of Mr.
Macdonald's earlier work.... It is a sweet, earnest, and wholesome fairy
story, and the quaint native humor is delightful. A most delightful
volume for young readers."--Philadelphia Times.

The Water Babies: A Fairy Tale for a Land Baby. By Charles Kingsley.
12mo, cloth, illustrated, price $1.00.

"The strength of his work, as well as its peculiar charms, consist in
his description of the experiences of a youth with life under water in
the luxuriant wealth of which he revels with all the ardor of a poetical
nature."--New York Tribune.

Our Bessie. By Rosa N. Carey. 12mo, cloth, illustrated, price $1.00.

"One of the most entertaining stories of the season, full of vigorous
action, and strong in character-painting. Elder girls will be charmed
with it, and adults may read its pages with profit."--The Teachers' Aid.

Wild Kitty. A Story of Middleton School. By L. T. Meade. 12mo, cloth,
illustrated, price $1.00.

"Kitty is a true heroine--warm-hearted, self-sacrificing, and, as all
good women nowadays are, largely touched with the enthusiasm of
humanity. One of the most attractive gift books of the season."--The
Academy.

A Young Mutineer. A Story for Girls. By L. T. Meade. 12mo, cloth,
illustrated, price $1.00.

"One of Mrs. Meade's charming books for girls, narrated in that simple
and picturesque style which marks the authoress as one of the first
among writers for young people."--The Spectator.

For sale by all booksellers, or sent postpaid on receipt of price by the
publisher, A. L. BURT, 52-58 Duane Street, New York.



BOOKS FOR GIRLS.

Sue and I. By Mrs. O'Reilly. 12mo, cloth, illustrated,
price 75 cents.

"A thoroughly delightful book, full of sound wisdom as well as
fun,"--Athenæum.

The Princess and the Goblin. A Fairy Story. By George Macdonald. 12mo,
cloth, illustrated, price 75 cents.

"If a child once begins this book, it will get so deeply interested in
it that when bedtime comes it will altogether forget the moral, and will
weary its parents with importunities for just a few minutes more to see
how everything ends."--Saturday Review.

Pythia's Pupils: A Story of a School. By Eva Hartner. 12mo, cloth,
illustrated, price $1.00.

"This story of the doings of several bright school girls is sure to
interest girl readers. Among many good stories for girls this is
undoubtedly one of the very best."--Teachers' Aid.

A Story of a Short Life. By Juliana Horatia Ewing. 12mo, cloth,
illustrated, price $1.00.

"The book is one we can heartily recommend, for it is not only bright
and interesting, but also pure and healthy in tone and
teaching."--Courier.

The Sleepy King. A Fairy Tale. By Aubrey Hopwood and Seymour Hicks.
12mo, cloth, illustrated, price 75 cents.

"Wonderful as the adventures of Bluebell are, it must be admitted that
they are very naturally worked out and very plausibly presented.
Altogether this is an excellent story for girls."--Saturday Review.

Two Little Waifs. By Mrs. Molesworth. 12mo, cloth, illustrated, price 75
cents.

"Mrs. Molesworth's delightful story of 'Two Little Waifs' will charm all
the small people who find it in their stockings. It relates the
adventures of two lovable English children lost in Paris, and is just
wonderful enough to pleasantly wring the youthful heart."--New York
Tribune.

Adventures in Toyland. By Edith King Hall. 12mo, cloth, illustrated,
price 75 cents.

"The author is such a bright, cheery writer, that her stories are always
acceptable to all who are not confirmed cynics, and her record of the
adventures is as entertaining and enjoyable as we might expect."--Boston
Courier.

Adventures in Wallypug Land. By G. E. Farrow. 12mo, cloth, illustrated,
price 75 cents.

"These adventures are simply inimitable, and will delight boys and girls
of mature age, as well as their juniors. No happier combination of
author and artist than this volume presents could be found to furnish
healthy amusement to the young folks. The book is an artistic one in
every sense."--Toronto Mail.

Fussbudget's Folks. A Story for Young Girls. By Anna F. Burnham. 12mo,
cloth, illustrated, price $1.00.

"Mrs. Burnham has a rare gift for composing stories for children. With a
light, yet forcible touch, she paints sweet and artless, yet natural and
strong, characters."--Congregationalist.

For sale by all booksellers, or sent postpaid on receipt of price by the
publisher, A. L. BURT, 52-58 Duane Street, New York.



BOOKS FOR GIRLS.

Mixed Pickles. A Story for Girls. By Mrs. E. M.
Field. 12mo, cloth, illustrated, price 75 cents.

"It is, in its way, a little classic, of which the real beauty and
pathos can hardly be appreciated by young people. It is not too much to
say of the story that it is perfect of its kind."--Good Literature.

Miss Mouse and Her Boys. A Story for Girls. By Mrs. Molesworth. 12mo,
cloth, illustrated, price 75 cents.

"Mrs. Molesworth's books are cheery, wholesome, and particularly well
adapted to refined life. It is safe to add that she is the best English
prose writer for children. A new volume from Mrs. Molesworth is always a
treat."--The Beacon.

Gilly Flower. A Story for Girls. By the author of "Miss Toosey's
Mission." 12mo, cloth, illustrated, price $1.00.

"Jill is a little guardian angel to three lively brothers who tease and
play with her.... Her unconscious goodness brings right thoughts and
resolves to several persons who come into contact with her. There is no
goodiness in this tale, but its influence is of the best
kind."--Literary World.

The Chaplet of Pearls; or, The White and Black Ribaumont. By Charlotte
M. Yonge. 12mo, cloth, illustrated, price $1.00.

"Full of spirit and life, so well sustained throughout that grown-up
readers may enjoy it as much as children. It is one of the best books of
the season."--Guardian.

Naughty Miss Bunny: Her Tricks and Troubles. By Clara Mulholland. 12mo,
cloth, illustrated, price 75 cents.

"The naughty child is positively delightful. Papas should not omit the
book from their list of juvenile presents."--Land and Water.

Meg's Friend. By Alice Corkran. 12mo, cloth, illustrated, price $1.00.

"One of Miss Corkran's charming books for girls, narrated in that simple
and picturesque style which marks the authoress as one of the first
among writers for young people."--The Spectator.

Averil. By Rosa N. Carey. 12mo, cloth, illustrated, price $1.00.

"A charming story for young folks. Averil is a delightful creature--
piquant, tender, and true--and her varying fortunes are perfectly
realistic."--World.

Aunt Diana. By Rosa N. Carey. 12mo, cloth, illustrated, price $1,00.

"An excellent story, the interest being sustained from first to last.
This is, both in its intention and the way the story is told, one of the
best books of its kind which has come before us this year."--Saturday
Review.

Little Sunshine's Holiday: A Picture from Life. By Miss Mulock. 12mo,
cloth, illustrated, price 75 cents.

"This is a pretty narrative of child life, describing the simple doings
and sayings of a very charming and rather precocious child. This is a
delightful book for young people."--Gazette.

For sale by all booksellers, or sent postpaid on receipt of price by the
publisher, A. L. BURT, 52-58 Duane Street, New York.



BOOKS FOR GIRLS.

Esther's Charge. A Story for Girls. By Ellen Everett Green. 12mo, cloth,
illustrated, price $1.00.

"... This is a story showing in a charming way how one little girl's
jealousy and bad temper-were conquered; one of the best, most suggestive
and improving of the Christmas juveniles."--New York Tribune.

Fairy Land of Science. By Arabella B. Buckley, 12mo, cloth, illustrated,
price $1.00.

"We can highly recommend it; not only for the valuable information it
gives on the special subjects to which it is dedicated, but also as a
book teaching natural sciences in an interesting way. A fascinating
little volume, which will make friends in every household in which there
are children."--Daily News.

Merle's Crusade. By Rosa N. Carey. 12mo, cloth, illustrated, price
$1.00.

"Among the books for young people we have seen nothing more unique than
this book. Like all of this author's stories it will please young
readers by the very attractive and charming style in which it is
written."--Journal.

Birdie: A Tale of Child Life. By H. L, Childe-Pemberton. 12mo, cloth,
illustrated, price 75 cents.

"The story is quaint and simple, but there is a freshness about it that
makes one hear again the ringing laugh and the cheery shout of children
at play which charmed his earlier years."--New York Express.

The Days of Bruce: A Story from Scottish History. By Grace Aguilar.
12mo, cloth, illustrated, price $1.00,

"There is a delightful freshness, sincerity and vivacity about all of
Grace Aguilar's stories which cannot fail to win the interest and
admiration of every lover of good reading."--Boston Beacon.

Three Bright Girls: A Story of Chance and Mischance. By Annie E.
Armstrong. 12mo, cloth, illustrated, price $1.00.

"The charm of the story lies in the cheery helpfulness of spirit
developed in the girls by their changed circumstances; while the author
finds a pleasant ending to all their happy makeshifts. The story is
charmingly told, and the book can be warmly recommended as a present for
girls."--Standard.

Giannetta: A Girl's Story of Herself. By Rosa Mulholland. 12mo, cloth,
illustrated, price $1.00.

"Extremely well told and full of interest. Giannetta is a true
heroine--warm-hearted, self-sacrificing, and, as all good women nowadays
are, largely touched with enthusiasm of humanity. The illustrations are
unusually good. One of the most attractive gift books of the
season."--The Academy.

Margery Merton's Girlhood. By Alice Corkran. 12mo, cloth, illustrated,
price $1.00.

"The experiences of an orphan girl who in infancy is left by her father
to the care of an elderly aunt residing near Paris. The accounts of the
various persons who have an after influence on the story are singularly
vivid. There is a subtle attraction about the book which will make it a
great favorite with thoughtful girls."--Saturday Review.

For sale by all booksellers, or sent postpaid on receipt of price by the
publisher. A. L. BURT, 52-58 Duane Street, New York.



BOOKS FOR GIRLS.

Under False Colors: A Story from Two Girls' Lives. By Sarah Doudney.
12mo, cloth, illustrated, price $1.00.

"Sarah Doudney has no superior as a writer of high-toned stories--pure
in style, original in conception, and with skillfully wrought out plots;
but we have seen nothing equal in dramatic energy to this
book."--Christian Leader.

Down the Snow Stairs: or, From Good-night to Good-morning. By Alice
Corkran. 12mo, cloth, illustrated, price 75 cents.

"Among all the Christmas volumes which the year has brought to our table
this one stands out facile princeps--a gem of the first water, bearing
upon every one of its pages the signet mark of genius.... All is told
with such simplicity and perfect naturalness that the dream appears to
be a solid reality. It is indeed a Little Pilgrim's Progress."
--Christian Leader.

The Tapestry Room: A Child's Romance. By Mrs. Molesworth. 12mo, cloth,
illustrated, price 75 cents.

"Mrs. Molesworth is a charming painter of the nature and ways of
children; and she has done good service in giving us this charming
juvenile which will delight the young people."--Athenæum, London.

Little Miss Peggy: Only a Nursery Story. By Mrs. Molesworth. 12mo,
cloth, illustrated, price 75 cents.

"Mrs. Molesworth's children are finished studies. A joyous earnest
spirit pervades her work, and her sympathy is unbounded. She loves them
with her whole heart, while she lays bare their little minds, and
expresses their foibles, their faults, their virtues, their inward
struggles, their conception of duty, and their instinctive knowledge of
the right and wrong of things. She knows their characters, she
understands their wants, and she desires to help them."

Polly: A New Fashioned Girl. By L. T. Meade. 12mo, cloth, illustrated,
price $1.00.

Few authors have achieved a popularity equal to Mrs. Meade as a writer
of stories for young girls. Her characters are living beings of flesh
and blood, not lay figures of conventional type. Into the trials and
crosses, and everyday experiences, the reader enters at once with zest
and hearty sympathy. While Mrs. Meade always writes with a high moral
purpose, her lessons of life, purity and nobility of character are
rather inculcated by example than intruded as sermons.

One of a Covey. By the author of "Miss Toosey's Mission." 12mo, cloth,
illustrated, price 75 cents.

"Full of spirit and life, so well sustained throughout that grown-up
readers may enjoy it as much as children. This 'Covey' consists of the
twelve children of a hard-pressed Dr. Partridge out of which is chosen a
little girl to be adopted by a spoiled, fine lady. We have rarely read a
story for boys and girls with greater pleasure. One of the chief
characters would not have disgraced Dickens' pen."--Literary World.

The Little Princess of Tower Hill. By L. T. Meade. 12mo, cloth,
illustrated, price 75 cents.

"This is one of the prettiest books for children published, as pretty as
a pond-lily, and quite as fragrant. Nothing could be imagined more
attractive to young people than such a combination of fresh pages and
fair pictures: and while children will rejoice over it--which is much
better than crying for it--it is a book that can be read with pleasure
even by older boys and girls."--Boston Advertiser.

For sale by all booksellers, or sent postpaid on receipt of price by the
publisher, A. L. BURT, 52-58 Duane Street, New York.



BOOKS FOR GIRLS.

Rosy. By Mrs. Molesworth. 12mo, cloth, illustrated, price 75 cents.

Mrs. Molesworth, considering the quality and quantity of her labors, is
the best story-teller for children England has yet known.

"This is a very pretty story. The writer knows children, and their ways
well. The illustrations are exceedingly well drawn."--Spectator.

Esther: A Book for Girls. By Rosa N. Carey. 12mo, cloth, illustrated,
price $1.00.

"She inspires her readers simply by bringing them in contact with the
characters, who are in themselves inspiring. Her simple stories are
woven in order to give her an opportunity to describe her characters by
their own conduct in seasons of trial."--Chicago Times.

Sweet Content. By Mrs. Molesworth. 12mo, cloth, illustrated, price 75
cents.

"It seems to me not at all easier to draw a lifelike child than to draw
a lifelike man or woman: Shakespeare and Webster were the only two men
of their age who could do it with perfect delicacy and success. Our own
age is more fortunate, on this single score at least, having a larger
and far nobler proportion of female writers; among whom, since the death
of George Eliot, there is none left whose touch is so exquisite and
masterly, whose love is so thoroughly according to knowledge, whose
bright and sweet invention is so fruitful, so truthful, or so delightful
as Mrs. Molesworth's."--A. C. Swinbourne.

Honor Bright; or, The Four-Leaved Shamrock. By the author of "Miss
Toosey's Mission." 12mo, cloth, illustrated, price $1.00.

"It requires a special talent to describe the sayings and doings of
children, and the author of 'Honor Bright,' 'One of a Covey,' possesses
that talent in no small degree. A cheery, sensible, and healthy
tale."--The Times.

The Cuckoo Clock. By Mrs. Molesworth. 12mo, cloth, illustrated, price 75
cents.

"A beautiful little story. It will be read with delight by every child
into whose hands it is placed.... The author deserves all the praise
that has been, is, and will be bestowed on 'The Cuckoo Clock.'
Children's stories are plentiful, but one like this is not to be met
with every day."--Pall Mall Gazette.

The Adventures of a Brownie. As Told to my Child. By Miss Mulock. 12mo,
cloth, illustrated, price 75 cents.

"The author of this delightful little book leaves it in doubt all
through whether there actually is such a creature in existence as a
Brownie, but she makes us hope that there might be."--Chicago Standard.

Only a Girl: A Tale of Brittany. From the French by C. A. Jones. 12mo,
cloth, illustrated, price $1.00.

"We can thoroughly recommend this brightly written and homely
narrative."--Saturday Review.

Little Rosebud; or, Things Will Take a Turn. By Beatrice Harraden. 12mo,
cloth, illustrated, price 75 cents.

"A most delightful little book... Miss Harraden is so bright, so
healthy, and so natural withal that the book ought, as a matter of duty,
to be added to every girl's library in the land."--Boston Transcript.

For sale by all booksellers, or sent postpaid on receipt of price by the
publisher, A. L. BURT, 52-58 Duane Street, New York.



BOOKS FOR GIRLS.

Girl Neighbors; or, The Old Fashion and the New. By Sarah Tytler. 12mo,
cloth, illustrated, price $1.00.

"One of the most effective and quietly humorous of Miss Tytler's
stories. 'Girl Neighbors' is a pleasant comedy, not so much of errors as
of prejudices got rid of, very healthy, very agreeable, and very well
written."--Spectator.

The Little Lame Prince and His Traveling Cloak. By Miss Mulock. 12mo,
cloth, illustrated, price 75 cents.

"No sweeter--that is the proper word---Christmas story for the little
folks could easily be found, and it is as delightful for older readers
as well. There is a moral to it which the reader can find out for
himself, if he chooses to think."--Cleveland Herald.

Little Miss Joy. By Emma Marshall. 12mo, cloth, illustrated, price 75
cents.

"A very pleasant and instructive story, told by a very charming writer
in such an attractive way as to win favor among its young readers. The
illustrations add to the beauty of the book."--Utica Herald.

The House that Grew. A Girl's Story. By Mrs. Molesworth. 12mo, cloth,
illustrated, price 75 cents.

"This is a very pretty story of English life. Mrs. Molesworth is one of
the most popular and charming of English story-writers for children. Her
child characters are true to life, always natural and attractive, and
her stories are wholesome and interesting."--Indianapolis Journal.

The House of Surprises. By L. T. Meade. 12mo, cloth, illustrated, price
75 cents.

"A charming tale of charming children, who are naughty enough to be
interesting, and natural enough to be lovable; and very prettily their
story is told. The quaintest yet most natural stories of child life.
Simply delightful."--Vanity Fair.

The Jolly Ten: and their Year of Stories. By Agnes Carr Sage. 12mo,
cloth, illustrated, price 75 cents.

The story of a band of cousins who were accustomed to meet at the
"Pinery," with "Aunt Roxy." At her fireside they play merry games, have
suppers flavored with innocent fun, and listen to stories--each with its
lesson calculated to make the ten not less jolly, but quickly responsive
to the calls of duty and to the needs of others.

Little Miss Dorothy. The Wonderful Adventures of Two Little People. By
Martha James. 12mo, cloth, illustrated, price 75 cents.

"This is a charming little juvenile story from the pen of Mrs. James,
detailing the various adventures of a couple of young children. Their
many adventures are told in a charming manner, and the book will please
young girls and boys."--Montreal Star.

Pen's Venture. A Story for Girls. By Elvirton Wright. 12mo, cloth,
illustrated, price 75 cents.

Something Pen saw in the condition of the cash girls in a certain store
gave her a thought; the thought became a plan; the plan became a
venture--Pen's venture. It is amusing, touching, and instructive to read
about it.

For sale by all booksellers, or sent postpaid on receipt of price by the
publisher, A. L. BURT, 52-58 Duane Street, New York.



FAIRY BOOKS.

The Blue Fairy Book. Edited by Andrew Lang. Profusely illustrated, 12mo,
cloth, price $1.00.

"The tales are simply delightful. No amount of description can do them
justice. The only way is to read the book through from cover to
cover."--Book Review.

The Green Fairy Book. Edited by Andrew Lang. Profusely illustrated,
12mo, cloth, price $1.00.

"The most delightful book of fairy tales, taking form and contents
together, ever presented to children."--E. S. Hartland, in Folk-Lore.

The Yellow Fairy Book. Edited by Andrew Lang. Profusely illustrated,
12mo, cloth, price $1.00.

"As a collection of fairy tales to delight children of all ages, it
ranks second to none."--Daily Graphic.

The Red Fairy Book. Edited by Andrew Lang. Profusely illustrated, 12mo,
cloth, price $1.00.

"A gift-book that will charm any child, and all older folk, who have
been fortunate enough to retain their taste for the old nursery
stories."--Literary World.

Celtic Fairy Tales. Edited by Joseph Jacobs. 12mo, cloth, illustrated,
price $1.00.

"A stock of delightful little narratives gathered chiefly from the
Celtic-speaking peasants of Ireland. A perfectly lovely book. And oh!
the wonderful pictures inside. Get this book if you can; it is capital,
all through."--Pall Mall Budget.

English Fairy Tales. Edited by Joseph Jacobs. 12mo, cloth, illustrated,
price $1.00.

"The tales are simply delightful. No amount of description can do them
justice. The only way is to read the book through from cover to cover.
The book is intended to correspond to 'Grimm's Fairy Tales,' and it must
be allowed that its pages fairly rival in interest those of that
well-known repository of folk-lore."--Morning Herald.

Indian Fairy Tales. Edited by Joseph Jacobs. 12mo, cloth, illustrated,
price $1.00.

"Mr. Jacobs brings home to us in a clear and intelligible manner the
enormous influence which 'Indian Fairy Tales' have had upon European
literature of the kind. The present combination will be welcomed not
alone by the little ones for whom it is specially combined, but also by
children of larger growth and added years."--Daily Telegraph.

Household Fairy Tales. By the Brothers Grimm. 12mo, cloth, illustrated,
price $1.00.

"As a collection of fairy tales to delight children of all ages this
work ranks second to none."--Daily Graphic.

Fairy Tales and Stories. By Hans Christian Andersen. 12mo, cloth,
illustrated, price $1.00.

"If I were asked to select a child's library I should name these three
volumes, 'English,' 'Celtic,' and 'Indian Fairy Tales,' with Grimm and
Hans Andersen's Fairy Tales."--Independent.

For sale by all booksellers, or sent postpaid on receipt of price by the
publisher, A. L. BURT, 52-58 Duane Street, New York.



FAIRY BOOKS.

Popular Fairy Tales. By the Brothers Grimm. 12mo, cloth, illustrated,
price $1.00.

"From first to last, almost without exception, these stories are
delightful."--Athenæum.

Icelandic Fairy Tales. By A. W. Hall. 12mo, cloth, illustrated, price
$1.00.

"The most delightful book of fairy tales, taking form and contents
together, ever presented to children. The whole collection is dramatic
and humorous. A more desirable child's book has not been seen for many a
day."--Daily News.

Fairy Tales From the Far North. (Norwegian.) By P. C. Asbjornsen. 12mo,
cloth, illustrated, price $1.00.

"If we were asked what present would make a child happiest at
Christmastide we think we could with a clear conscience point to Mr.
Jacobs' book. It is a dainty and an interesting volume."--Notes and
Queries.

Cossack Fairy Tales. By R. Nisbet Bain. 12mo, cloth, illustrated, price
$1.00.

"A really valuable and curious selection which will be welcomed by
readers of all ages.... The illustrations by Mr. Batten are often clever
and irresistibly humorous. A delight alike to the young people and their
elders."--Globe.

The Golden Fairy Book. By Various Authors. 12mo, cloth, illustrated,
price $1.00.

"The most delightful book of its kind that has come in our way for many
a day. It is brimful of pretty stories. Retold in a truly delightful
manner."--Graphic.

The Silver Fairy Book. By Various Authors. 12mo, cloth, illustrated,
price $1.00.

"The book is intended to correspond to 'Grimm's Fairy Tales,' and it
must be allowed that its pages fairly rival in interest those of the
well-known repository of folk-lore. It is a most delightful volume of
fairy tales."--Courier.

The Brownies, and Other Stories. By Juliana Horatia Ewing. 12mo, cloth,
illustrated, price 75 cents.

"Like all the books she has written this one is very charming, and is
worth more in the hands of a child than a score of other stories of a
more sensational character."--Christian at Work.

The Hunting of the Snark. An Agony in Eight Fits. By Lewis Carroll,
author of "Alice in Wonderland." 12mo, cloth, illustrated, price 75
cents.

"This glorious piece of nonsense.... Everybody ought to read it--nearly
everybody will--and all who deserve the treat will scream with
laughter."--Graphic.

Lob Lie-By-the-fire, and Other Tales. By Juliana Horatio Ewing. 12mo,
cloth, illustrated, price 75 cents.

"Mrs. Ewing has written as good a story as her 'Brownies,' and that is
saying a great deal. 'Lob Lie-by-the-fire' has humor and pathos, and
teaches what is right without making children think they are reading a
sermon."--Saturday Review.

For sale by all booksellers, or sent postpaid on receipt of price by the
publisher, A. L. BURT, 52-58 Duane Street, New York.



BOOKS FOR BOYS.

By Right of Conquest; or, With Cortez in Mexico. By G. A. Henty. With
illustrations by W. S. Stacey. 12mo, cloth olivine edges, price $1.50.

"The conquest of Mexico by a small band of resolute men under the
magnificent leadership of Cortez is always rightfully ranked among the
most romantic and daring exploits in history. 'By Right of Conquest' is
the nearest approach to a perfectly successful historical tale that Mr.
Henty has yet published."--Academy.

For Name and Fame; or, Through Afghan Passes. By G. A. Henty. With
illustrations by Gordon Browne. 12mo, cloth olivine edges, price $1.00.

"Not only a rousing story, replete with all the varied forms of
excitement of a campaign, but, what is till more useful, an account of a
territory and its inhabitants which must for a long time possess a
supreme interest for Englishmen, as being the key to our Indian
Empire,"--Glasgow Herald.

The Bravest of the Brave; or, With Peterborough in Spain. By G. A.
Henty. With illustrations by H. M. Paget, 12mo cloth, olivine edges,
price $1.00.

"Mr. Henty never loses sight of the moral purpose of his work--to
enforce the doctrine of courage and truth, mercy and loving kindness, as
indispensable to the making of a gentleman. Boys will read 'The Bravest
of the Brave' with pleasure and profit; of that we are quite
sure."--Daily Telegraph.

The Cat of Bubastes: A Story of Ancient Egypt. By G. A. Henty. With
illustrations. 12mo, cloth, olivine edges, price $1.00.

"The story, from the critical moment of the killing of the sacred cat to
the perilous exodus into Asia with which it closes, is very skillfully
constructed and full of exciting adventures. It is admirably
illustrated."--Saturday Review.

Bonnie Prince Charlie: A Tale of Fontenoy and Culloden. By G. A. Henty.
With illustrations by Gordon Browne. 12mo, cloth, olivine edges, price
$1.00.

"Ronald, the hero, is very like the hero of 'Quentin Durward.' The lad's
journey across France, and his hairbreadth escapes, makes up as good a
narrative of the kind as we have ever read. For freshness of treatment
and variety of incident Mr. Henty has surpassed himself."--Spectator.

With Clive in India; or, The Beginnings of an Empire. By G. A. Henty.
With illustrations by Gordon Browne. 12mo, cloth, olivine edges, price
$1.00.

"He has taken a period of Indian history of the most vital importance,
and he has embroidered on the historical facts a story which of itself
is deeply interesting. Young people assuredly will be delighted with the
volume."--Scotsman.

In the Reign of Terror: The Adventures of a Westminster Boy. By G. A.
Henty. With illustrations by J. Schönberg. 12mo, cloth, olivine edges,
price $1.00.

"Harry Sandwith, the Westminster boy, may fairly be said to beat Mr.
Henty's record. His adventures will delight boys by the audacity and
peril they depict. The story is one of Mr. Henty's best."--Saturday
Review.

For sale by all booksellers, or sent postpaid on receipt of price by the
publisher, A. L. BURT, 52-58 Duane Street, New York.



BOOKS FOR BOYS.

The Lion of the North: A Tale of Gustavus Adolphus and the Wars of
Religion. By G. A. Henty. With illustrations by John Schönberg. 12mo,
cloth, olivine edges, price $1.00.

"A praiseworthy attempt to interest British youth in the great deeds pf
the Scotch Brigade in the wars of Gustavus Adolphus. Mackey, Hepburn,
and Munro live again in Mr. Henty's pages, as those deserve to live
whose disciplined bands formed really the germ of the modern British
army."--Athenæum.

The Dragon and the Raven; or, The Days of King Alfred. By G. A. Henty.
With illustrations by C. J. Staniland. 12mo, cloth, olivine edges, price
$1.00.

"In this story the author gives an account of the fierce struggle
between Saxon and Dane for supremacy in England, and presents a vivid
picture of the misery and ruin to which the country was reduced by the
ravages of the sea-wolves. The story is treated in a manner most
attractive to the boyish reader."--Athenæum.

The Young Carthaginian: A Story of the Times of Hannibal. By G. A.
Henty. With illustrations by C. J. Staniland. 12mo, cloth, olivine
edges, price $1.00.

"Well constructed and vividly told. From first to last nothing stays the
interest of the narrative. It bears us along as on a stream whose
current varies in direction, but never loses its force."--Saturday
Review.

In Freedom's Cause: A Story of Wallace and Bruce. By G. A. Henty. With
illustrations by Gordon Browne. 12mo, cloth, olivine edges, price $1.00.

"It is written in the author's best style. Full of the wildest and most
remarkable achievements, it is a tale of great interest, which a boy,
once he has begun it, will not willingly put one side."--The
Schoolmaster.

With Wolfe in Canada; or, The Winning of a Continent. By G. A. Henty.
With illustrations by Gordon Browne. 12mo, cloth, olivine edges, price
$1.00.

"A model of what a boys' story-book should be. Mr. Henty has a great
power of infusing into the dead facts of history new life, and as no
pains are spared by him to ensure accuracy in historic details, his
books supply useful aids to study as well as amusement."--School
Guardian.

True to the Old Flag: A Tale of the American War of Independence. By G.
A. Henty. With illustrations by Gordon Browne. 12mo, cloth, olivine
edges, price $1.00.

"Does justice to the pluck and determination of the British soldiers
during the unfortunate struggle against American emancipation. The son
of an American loyalist, who remains true to our flag, falls among the
hostile red-skins in that very Huron country which has been endeared to
us by the exploits of Hawkeye and Chingachgook."--The Times.

A Final Reckoning: A Tale of Bush Life in Australia. By G. A. Henty.
With illustrations by W. B. Wollen. 12mo, cloth, olivine edges, price
$1.00.

"All boys will read this story with eager and unflagging interest. The
episodes are in Mr. Henty's very best vein--graphic, exciting,
realistic; and, as in all Mr. Henty's books, the tendency is to the
formation of an honorable, manly, and even heroic
character."--Birmingham Post.

For sale by all booksellers, or sent postpaid on receipt of price by the
publishers, A. L. Burt, 52-58 Duane Street, New York.



BOOKS FOR BOYS.

The Lion of St. Mark: A Tale of Venice in the Fourteenth Century. By G.
A. Henty. With illustrations by Gordon Browne. 12mo, cloth, olivine
edges, price $1.00.

"Every boy should read 'The Lion of St. Mark.' Mr. Henty has never
produced a story more delightful, more wholesome, or more
vivacious."--Saturday Review.

Facing Death; or, The Hero of the Vaughan Pit. A Tale of the Coal Mines.
By G. A. Henty. With illustrations by Gordon Browne. 12mo, cloth,
olivine edges, price $1.00.

"The tale is well written and well illustrated, and there is much
reality in the characters. If any father, clergyman, or schoolmaster is
on the lookout for a good book to give as a present to a boy who is
worth his salt, this is the book we would recommend."--Standard.

Maori and Settler: A Story of the New Zealand War. By G. A. Henty. With
illustrations by Alfred Pearse. 12mo, cloth, olivine edges, price $1.00.

"In the adventures among the Maoris, there are many breathless moments
in which the odds seem hopelessly against the party, but they succeed in
establishing themselves happily in one of the pleasant New Zealand
valleys. It is brimful of adventure, of humorous and interesting
conversation, and vivid pictures of colonial life."--Schoolmaster.

One of the 28th: A Tale of Waterloo. By G. A. Henty. With illustrations
by W. H. Overend. 12mo, cloth, olivine edges, price $1.00.

"Written with Homeric vigor and heroic inspiration. It is graphic,
picturesque, and dramatically effective ... shows us Mr. Henty at his
best and brightest. The adventures will hold a boy enthralled as he
rushes through them with breathless interest 'from cover to
cover.'"--Observer.

Orange and Green: A Tale of the Boyne and Limerick. By G. A. Henty. With
illustrations by Gordon Browne. 12mo, cloth, olivine edges, price $1.00.

"The narrative is free from the vice of prejudice, and ripples with life
as if what is being described were really passing before the
eye."--Belfast News-Letter.

Through the Fray: A Story of the Luddite Riots. By G. A. Henty. With
illustrations by H. M. Paget. 12mo, cloth, olivine edges, price $1.00.

"Mr. Henty inspires a love and admiration for straightforwardness, truth
and courage. This is one of the best of the many good books Mr. Henty
has produced, and deserves to be classed with his 'Facing
Death.'"--Standard.

The Young Midshipman: A Story of the Bombardment of Alexandria. With
illustrations. 12mo, cloth, olivine edges, price $1.00.

A coast fishing lad, by an act of heroism, secures the interest of a
shipowner, who places him as an apprentice on board one of his ships. In
company with two of his fellow-apprentices he is left behind, at
Alexandria, in the hands of the revolted Egyptian troops, and is present
through the bombardment and the scenes of riot and bloodshed which
accompanied it.

For sale by all booksellers, or sent postpaid on receipt of price by the
publisher, A. L. BURT, 52-58 Duane Street, New York.



BOOKS FOR BOYS.

In Times of Peril. A Tale of India. By G. A. Henty. With illustrations.
12mo, cloth, olivine edges, price $1.00.

"The hero of the story early excites our admiration, and is altogether a
fine character such as boys will delight in, whilst the story of the
campaign is very graphically told."--St. James's Gazette.

The Cornet of Horse: A Tale of Marlborough's Wars. By G. A. Henty. With
illustrations. 12mo, cloth, olivine edges, price $1.

"Mr. Henty not only concocts a thrilling tale, he weaves fact and
fiction together with so skillful a hand that the reader cannot help
acquiring a just and clear view of that fierce and terrible struggle
known as the Crimean War."--Athenæum.

The Young Franc-Tireurs: Their Adventures in the Franco-Prussian War. By
G. A. Henty. With illustrations. 12mo, cloth, olivine edges, price
$1.00.

"A capital book for boys. It is bright and readable, and full of good
sense and manliness. It teaches pluck and patience in adversity, and
shows that right living leads to success."--Observer.

The Young Colonists: A Story of Life and War in South Africa. By G. A.
Henty. With illustrations. 12mo, cloth, olivine edges, price $1.00.

"No boy needs to have any story of Henty's recommended to him, and
parents who do not know and buy them for their boys should be ashamed of
themselves. Those to whom he is yet unknown could not make a better
beginning than with this book."

The Young Buglers. A Tale of the Peninsular War. By G. A. Henty. With
illustrations. 12mo, cloth, olivine edges, price $1.

"Mr. Henty is a giant among boys' writers, and his books are
sufficiently popular to be sure of a welcome anywhere. In stirring
interest, this is quite up to the level of Mr. Henty's former historical
tales."--Saturday Review.

Sturdy and Strong; or, How George Andrews Made his Way. By G. A. Henty.
With illustrations. 12mo. cloth, olivine edges, price $1.00.

"The history of a hero of everyday life, whose love of truth, clothing
of modesty, and innate pluck, carry him, naturally, from poverty to
affluence. George Andrews is an example of character with nothing to
cavil at, and stands as a good instance of chivalry in domestic
life."--The Empire.

Among Malay Pirates. A Story of Adventure and Peril. By G. A. Henty.
With illustrations. 12mo, cloth, olivine edges, price $1.00.

"Incident succeeds incident, and adventure is piled upon adventure, and
at the end the reader, be he boy or man, will have experienced
breathless enjoyment in a romantic story that must have taught him much
at its close."--Army and Navy Gazette.

Jack Archer. A Tale of the Crimea. By G. A. Henty. With illustrations.
12mo, cloth, olivine edges, price $1.00.

"Mr. Henty not only concocts a thrilling tale, he weaves fact and
fiction together with so skillful a hand that the reader cannot help
acquiring a just and clear view of that fierce and terrible
struggle."--Athenæum.

For sale by all booksellers, or sent postpaid on receipt of price by the
publisher, A. L. BURT, 58-58 Duane Street, New York.



BOOKS FOR BOYS.

Friends, Though Divided. A Tale of the Civil War. By G. A. Henty. With
illustrations. 12mo, cloth, olivine edges, price $1.

"It has a good plot; it abounds in action; the scenes are equally
spirited and realistic, and we can only say we have read it with much
pleasure from first to last."--Times.

Out on the Pampas; or, The Young Settlers. By G. A. Henty. With
illustrations. 12mo, cloth, olivine edges, price $1.00.

"A really noble story, which adult readers will find to the full as
satisfying as the boys. Lucky boys! to have such a caterer as Mr. G. A.
Henty."--Black and White.

The Boy Knight: A Tale of the Crusades. By G. A. Henty. With
illustrations. 12mo, cloth, olivine edges, price $1.00.

"Of stirring episode there is no lack. The book, with its careful
accuracy and its descriptions of all the chief battles, will give many a
schoolboy his first real understanding of a very important period of
history."--St. James's Gazette.

The Wreck of the Golden Fleece. The Story of a North Sea Fisher Boy. By
Robert Leighton. 12mo, cloth, illustrated, price $1.

A description of life on the wild North-Sea,--the hero being a parson's
son who is appreciated on board a Lowestoft fishing lugger. The lad has
to suffer many buffets from his shipmates, while the storms and dangers
which he braved on board the "North Star" are set forth with minute
knowledge and intense power. The wreck of the "Golden Fleece" forms the
climax to a thrilling series of desperate mischances.

Olaf the Glorious. A Story of the Viking Age. By Robert Leighton. 12mo,
cloth, illustrated, price $1.00.

This story of Olaf the Glorious, King of Norway, opens with the incident
of his being found by his uncle living as a bond-slave in Esthonia; then
come his adventures as a Viking and his raids upon the coasts of
Scotland and England, his victorious battle against the English at
Maldon in Essex, his being bought off by Ethelred the Unready, and his
conversion to Christianity. He then returns to Pagan Norway, is accepted
as king, and converts his people to the Christian faith.

To Greenland and the Pole. A story of Adventure in the Arctic Regions,
By Gordon Stables. 12mo, cloth, illustrated, price $1.

The unfailing fascination of Arctic venturing is presented in this story
with new vividness. It deals with skilöbning in the north of Scotland,
deer-hunting in Norway, sealing in the Arctic Seas, bear-stalking on the
ice-floes, the hardships of a journey across Greenland, and a successful
voyage to the back of the North Pole. This is, indeed, a real sea-yarn
by a real sailor, and the tone is as bright and wholesome as the
adventures are numerous.

Yussuf the Guide. A Story of Adventure in Asia Minor. By George Manville
Fenn. 12mo, cloth, illustrated, price $1.00.

This story deals with the stirring incidents in the career of a lad who
has been almost given over by the doctors, but who rapidly recovers
health and strength in a journey through Asia Minor. The adventures are
many, and culminate in the travellers being snowed up for the winter in
the mountains, from which they escape while their captors are waiting
for the ransom that does not come.

For sale by all booksellers, or sent postpaid on receipt of price by the
publisher, A. L. BURT, 52-58 Duane Street, New York.



BOOKS FOR BOYS.

Grettir the Outlaw. A Story of Iceland. By S. Baring-Gould. 12mo, cloth,
illustrated, price $1.00.

"This is the boys' book of the year. That is, of course, as much as to
say that it will do for men grown as well as juniors. It is told in
simple, straightforward English, as all stories should be, and it has a
freshness and freedom which make it irresistible."--National Observer.

Two Thousand Years Ago. The Adventures of a Roman Boy, By A. J. Church.
12mo, cloth, illustrated, price $1.00.

"Prof. Church has in this story sought to revivify that most interesting
period, the last days of the Roman Republic. The book is extremely
entertaining as well as useful: there is a wonderful freshness in the
Roman scenes and characters."--Times.

Nat the Naturalist. A Boy's Adventure in the Eastern Seas. By George
Manville Fenn. 12mo, cloth, illustrated, price $1.

Nat and his uncle Dick go on a voyage to the remoter islands of the
Eastern seas, and their adventures are told in a truthful and vastly
interesting fashion. The descriptions of Mr. Ebony, their black comrade,
and of the scenes of savage life, are full of genuine humor.

The Log of the Flying Fish. A Story of Peril and Adventure. By Harry
Collingwood. 12mo, cloth, illustrated, price $1.

"This story is full of even more vividly recounted adventures than those
which charmed so many boy readers in 'Pirate Island' and 'Congo
Rovers.'... There is a thrilling adventure on the precipices of Mount
Everest, when the ship floats off and providentially returns by force of
gravitation."--Academy.

The Congo Rovers. A Story of the Slave Squadron. By Harry Collingwood.
12mo, cloth, illustrated, price $1.00.

"The scene of this tale is laid on the west coast of Africa, and in the
lower reaches of the Congo; the characteristic scenery of the great
river being delineated with wonderful accuracy. Mr. Collingwood carries
us off for another cruise at sea, in 'The Congo Rovers,' and boys will
need no pressing to join the daring crew, which seeks adventures and
meets with any number of them."--The Times.

Boris the Bear Hunter. A Tale of Peter the Great and His Times. By Fred
Wishaw. 12mo, cloth, illustrated, price $1.00.

"This is a capital story. The characters are marked and lifelike, and it
is full of incident and adventure."--Standard.

Michael Strogoff; or, The Courier of the Czar. By Jules Verne. 12mo,
cloth, illustrated, price $1.00.

"The story is full of originality and vigor. The characters are
lifelike, there is plenty of stirring incident, the interest is
sustained throughout, and every boy will enjoy following the fortunes of
the hero."--Journal of Education.

Mother Carey's Chicken. Her Voyage to the Unknown Isle. By George
Manville Fenn. 12mo, cloth, illustrated, price $1.00.

"Undoubtedly one of the best Mr. Fenn has written. The incidents are of
thrilling interest, while the characters are drawn with a care and
completeness rarely found in a boy's book."--Literary World.

For sale by all booksellers, or sent postpaid on receipt of price by the
publisher, A. L. BURT, 52-58 Duane Street, New York.





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