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Title: Molly Brown's Sophomore Days
Author: Speed, Nell, 1878-1913
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Molly Brown's Sophomore Days" ***

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MOLLY BROWN'S SOPHOMORE DAYS



[Illustration]


    MOLLY BROWN'S
    SOPHOMORE DAYS

    BY NELL SPEED

    AUTHOR OF

    "The Tucker Twins Series," "The Carter
    Girls Series," etc.

    [Illustration]

    A. L. BURT COMPANY
    Publishers New York
    Printed in U. S. A.



    Copyright, 1912,
    BY
    HURST & COMPANY

    Printed in the U. S. A.



CONTENTS


    CHAPTER                                  PAGE

        I. THE RETURN OF THE WANDERERS          5

       II. OTOYO                               17

      III. A CLASHING OF WITS                  33

       IV. A TEMPEST IN A TEAPOT               47

        V. AN UNWILLING EAVESDROPPER           62

       VI. TWO LONG-DISTANCE CALLS             76

      VII. THE GLEE CLUB CONCERT               94

     VIII. A JAPANESE SPREAD                  111

       IX. VESPERS                            126

        X. ALL'S WELL THAT ENDS WELL          140

       XI. THE GREAT SLEET OF 19--            158

      XII. THE SKATING CARNIVAL               169

     XIII. THE THAW                           182

      XIV. QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS              196

       XV. A RECOVERY AND A VISIT             212

      XVI. CHRISTMAS EVE PLOTS                230

     XVII. A CHRISTMAS SURPRISE               245

    XVIII. BREAKING THE NEWS                  258

      XIX. HOW O'REILLY'S BECAME QUEEN'S      269

       XX. THE TURN OF THE WHEEL              283

      XXI. IN THE GARDEN                      295



Molly Brown's Sophomore Days



CHAPTER I.

THE RETURN OF THE WANDERERS.


"I never thought I could be so glad to be anywhere except home," thought
Molly Brown as she swung off the 'bus, and, seizing her suit case, ran
into Queen's Cottage without so much as ringing the bell.

Two juniors whom Molly had known only by sight the year before and
several freshmen had been in the Wellington omnibus; no one in whom she
could confide her enthusiasm as the 'bus turned a bend in the road and
Wellington's towers came into view.

"Molly! Molly!" cried a voice from somewhere in the upper regions of
Queen's, and down three flights of stairs rushed a wild figure, her
fluffy light brown hair standing out all over her head and her
voluminous kimono sailing behind her like the tail of a kite.

"Oh, Judy, it's good to see you again," cried Molly, and the two girls
were instantly folded in each other's arms in a long, loving embrace.

"You remind me strongly of Meg Merriles," continued Molly, holding her
friend off at arms' length and giving her a joyful little shake. "You
look as if you had been running over the moors in the wind."

"You'd think I was a bit daffy if you could see my room," replied Julia
Kean, who, those of you who have met her in an earlier story will
recall, was nicknamed "Judy" by her friends. "I'm unpacking. It looks
like the world in the era of chaos: mountains of clothes and islands of
shoes and archipelagoes of hats all jumbled into a hopeless mass. But,
never mind that now. Let's talk about each other. Come on upstairs. Your
room's ready. I looked in half an hour ago. You've got new wall paper
and a fresh coat of paint. That's because you are one of Mrs. Markham's
little pets."

"Really," cried Molly, delighted. "How charmed Nance will be. And I've
brought some white dimity curtains with ruffled edges to hang at the
windows. I made them last summer when it was ninety-eight in the shade.
Where is Nance, by the way? And where are all the Queen's girls, and
what new ones are here?"

"One at a time, Miss Brown," laughed Judy, following Molly up to the
third story and into the large room shared by Molly and her friend,
Nance Oldham.

"How sweet it's going to look," cried Molly, clasping her hands and
gazing around her with all the ardor of a returned wanderer. "But where
is Nance?"

Judy's face became very grave.

"Is it possible you haven't heard the news about Nance?" she said.

"Judy, what do you mean?" cried Molly, taking off her hat and running
her fingers through her rumpled auburn hair, a trick she had when she
was excited and overwrought. "Now, tell me at once what has happened to
Nance. How could you have kept it from me? Dear old Nance!"

Judy blew her nose violently.

"Why don't you answer me, Judy? Isn't Nance coming back? I haven't heard
from her for weeks. Oh, do tell me."

"I'm going to tell you in a minute," answered Judy. "I can't blow my
nose and talk at the same time. It's a physical impossibility. I've got
a wretched cold, you see. I am afraid it's going into influenza."

"Julia Kean, you are keeping something from me. I don't care a rap about
your nose. Isn't Nance coming back?"

Molly almost fell on her knees in the excess of her anxiety. Judy turned
her face away from those appealing blue eyes and coughed a forced
throaty cough.

"Suppose I should say she wasn't coming back, Molly? Would you mind
it?"

"Would I mind it?" repeated Molly, her eyes filling with tears.

Suddenly the closet door was flung open and out rushed Nance.

"Oh, Molly, forgive me," she cried, throwing her arms around her
roommate's neck. "Judy thought it would be a good practical joke, but I
couldn't stand the deception any longer. It was worth it, though, if
only to know you would miss me."

"Miss you?" exclaimed Molly. "I should think I would. Judy, you wretch!"

"I never did say she wasn't coming," replied Judy. "I simply said, 'Is
it possible you haven't heard the news about Nance?' It shows how your
heart rules your head, Molly. You shouldn't take on so until you get at
the real truth. Your impetuous nature needs----"

Here Judy was interrupted by the noise of a headlong rush down the hall.
Then the door was burst open and three girls blew into the room all
laughing and talking at once.

"My goodness, it sounds like a stampede of wild cattle," exclaimed
Judy. "How are you, old pals?"

A general all-round embrace followed.

It was Margaret Wakefield, last year's class president; her chum, Jessie
Lynch; and Sallie Marks, now a senior, but not in the least set up by
her exalted state.

"Where's Mabel Hinton?" someone demanded.

"She's moved over to the Quadrangle into a singleton. She wanted to be
nearer the scene of action, she said, and Queen's was too diverting for
her serious life's work," so Margaret explained.

"I'm sorry," said Molly. "I'm one of those nice comfortable home bodies
that likes the family to keep right on just the same forever, but I
suppose we can't expect everybody to be as fond of this old brown house
as we are. Sit down, everybody," she added, hospitably. "And--oh, yes,
wait a moment--I didn't open this on the train at all."

She fell on her knees and opened her suit case while her friends
exchanged knowing smiles.

"Ruling passion even strong in death," observed Judy.

"Of course it's something good to eat," laughed pretty Jessie.

"Of course," replied Molly, pitching articles of clothing out of her
satchel with all the carelessness of one who pursues a single idea at a
time. "And why not? My sister made them for me the morning I left and
packed them carefully in a tin box with oiled paper."

"Cloudbursts!" they cried ecstatically and pounced on the box without
ceremony, while Molly, who, like most good cooks, had a small appetite,
leaned back in a Morris chair and regarded them with the pleased
satisfaction of a host who has provided satisfactory refreshment for his
guests.

The summer had made few changes in the faces of her last year's friends.
Margaret was a bit taller and more massive, and her handsome face a
little heavier. Already her youthful lines were maturing and she might
easily have been mistaken for a senior.

Nance was as round and plump as a partridge and there was a new
happiness in her face, the happiness of returning to the first place she
had ever known that in any way resembled a home. Nance had lived in a
boarding house ever since she could remember; but Queen's was not like a
boarding house; at least not like the one to which she was accustomed,
where the boarders consisted of two crusty old bachelors; a widow who
was hipped about her health and always talked "symptoms"; a spinster who
had taught school for thirty years; and Nance's parents--that is, one of
them, and at intervals the other. Mrs. Oldham only returned to her
family to rest between club conventions and lecture tours.

Judy had a beautiful creamy tan on her face which went admirably with
her dreamy gray eyes and soft light brown hair. There were times when
she looked much like a boy, and she did at this moment, Molly thought,
with her hair parted on one side and a brilliant Roman scarf knotted
around her rolling Byronic collar.

Jessie, just now engaged in the pleasing occupation of smiling at her
own image in the mirror over the mantel, was as pretty as ever. As for
Sallie Marks, every familiar freckle was in its familiar place, and, as
Judy remarked later, she had changed neither her spots nor her skin. She
had merely added a pair of eye-glasses to her tip-tilted critical nose
and there was, perhaps, an extra spark of dry humor in her pale eyes.

Molly was a little thin. She always "fell-off" after a
ninety-eight-in-the-shade summer; but she was the same old Molly to her
friends, possessed with an indescribable charm and sweetness: the
"nameless charm," it had been called, but there were many who could name
it as being a certain kindly gentleness and unselfishness.

"What's the news, girls?" she demanded, giving a general all-round smile
like that of a famous orator, which seemed to be meant for everybody at
once and no one in particular.

"News is scarce; or should I say 'are'?" replied Margaret. "Epiménides
Antinous Green, 'the handsomest man ever seen,' was offered a chair in
one of the big colleges and refused."

"But why?" cried Molly, round-eyed with amazement.

"Because he has more liberty at Wellington and more time to devote to
his writings."

Molly walked over to the window to hide a smile.

"The comic opera," she thought.

"He's just published a book, you know, on the 'Elizabethan Drama,'" went
on Margaret, "which is to be used as a text book in lots of private
schools. And he's been on a walking trip through England this summer
with George Theodore----"

"How did you know all that?" interrupted Judy.

"Well, to tell you the truth, I came up to Wellington on the train with
Andy McLean and he answered all the questions I asked him," replied
Margaret, laughing. "I also answered all the questions he asked me about
a particular young lady----"

Nance pretended to be very busy at this moment with the contents of her
work bag. The other girls began laughing and she looked up, disclosing
a scarlet countenance.

"Don't you know she never could take a teasing?" cried Judy.

"Who's teasing?" answered Margaret. "No names were mentioned."

"Don't you mind, Nance, dear," said Molly, always tender-hearted when it
came to teasing. "The rest of us haven't had one 'inquiring friend,' as
Ca'line, our cook, used to call them. When I wrote letters for her to
her family in Georgia, she always finished up with 'Now, Miss Molly,
jes' end with love to all inquirin' friends.'"

The dainty little French clock on the mantel, one of Nance's new
possessions, tinkled five times in a subdued, fairy chime and the
friends scattered to their various rooms to unpack. Judy was now in
Frances Andrews' old room, next to the one occupied by Molly and Nance.

"I think I'll take a gimlet and bore a hole through the wall," she
announced as she lingered a moment after the others had gone, "so that
we can communicate without having to walk ten steps--I counted them
this morning--and open two doors."

"Who has your old room, Judy?" inquired Molly.

"You'd never guess in a thousand years, so I'll have to enlighten you,"
answered Judy. "A young Japanese lady."

"For heaven's sake!" cried Molly and Nance in one breath, while Judy,
who loved a climax, sailed from the room without vouchsafing any more
information.



CHAPTER II.

OTOYO.


Molly and Nance were very busy that night arranging their belongings.
Molly's tastes were simple and Nance's were what might be called
complicated. Molly had been reared all her life in large spaces, big,
airy rooms, and broad halls, and the few pieces of heavy old mahogany in
them were of the kind that cannot be bought for a song. Nance had been
reared in an atmosphere of oiled walnut and boarding house bric-à-brac.
She was learning because she had an exceedingly observing and
intelligent mind, but she had not learned.

Therefore, that night, when Molly hung the white muslin curtains, and
spread out the beautiful blue antique rug left by Frances Andrews, she
devoutly hoped that Nance would "go easy" with the pictures and
ornaments.

"What we want to try to do this year, Nance," she announced from the top
of the step ladder, "is to keep things empty. We got fairly messy last
winter after Christmas. I'm going to keep all those banners and things
packed this year."

"Perhaps I'd better not get out those passe-partouted Gibson pictures,"
began Nance a little doubtfully.

"Just as you like, Nance, dear," said Molly.

She would rather have hung the wall with bill posters than have hurt her
friend's feelings.

"Honestly, you aren't fond of them, are you?" asked Nance.

"Oh, it isn't that," apologized Molly. "But I think so many small
pictures scattered over a big wall space are--well, rather tiring to the
optic nerves."

Nance looked sad, but she had unbounded faith in Molly's opinions.

"What shall we do with this big empty wall space, then?" she asked,
pausing in her unpacking to regard a sea of blue-gray cartridge paper
with a critical eye.

At this juncture there came a light, timid tap, so faint, indeed, that
it might have been the swish of a mouse's tail as he brushed past the
door.

Molly paused in her contemplation of blank walls and listened.

"Did you hear anything, Nance?" she asked. "I thought I heard a tapping
at our chamber door."

"Come in," called Nance briskly.

The door opened first a mere crack. Then the space widened and there
stood on the threshold the diminutive figure of a little Japanese girl
who by subsequent measurements proved to be exactly five feet one-half
an inch in height. She was dressed "like white people," to quote Molly,
that is, in a neat cloth suit and a straw turban, and her slanting black
eyes were like highly polished pieces of ebony.

"I beg the honorable pardon of the young ladies," she began with a prim,
funny accent. "I arrive this moment which have passing at the honorable
home of young ladies. I not find no one save serving girl who have
informing me of room of sleeping in. Honorable lady of the house, her
you calling 'matronly,' not in at present passing moment. I feeling
little frighting. You will forgive poor Otoyo?"

With an almost superhuman effort Molly controlled her face and choked
back the laughter that bubbled up irrepressibly. Nance had buried her
head in her trunk until she could regain her composure.

"Indeed I do forgive you, poor dear. You must feel strange and lonely.
Just wait until I get down from the ladder and I'll show you your
bedroom. It used to be the room of one of my best friends, so I happen
to know it very well."

Molly crawled down from the heights of the step ladder and took the
little Japanese girl's brown hand in hers. "Shall we not shake hands and
be friends?" she said. "We are such near neighbors. You are just down
there at the end of the hall, you see. My name is Brown, Molly Brown,
and this is my roommate, Nance Oldham."

"I with much pleasure feel to making acquaintance of beautiful young
ladies," said the Japanese girl, smiling charmingly and showing two rows
of teeth as pointed and white as a spaniel's.

Nance had also risen to the occasion by this time, and now shook Miss
Otoyo Sen's hand with a great show of cordiality, to make up for her
crimson face and mouth still unsteady with laughter. They conducted the
Japanese girl to her room and turned on the lights. There were two
new-looking American trunks in the room and two cases covered with
matting and inscribed with mystic Japanese hieroglyphics. Wired to the
cord wrapping was an express tag with "Miss O. Sen, Queen's Cottage,
Wellington," written across it in plain handwriting.

"Oh," exclaimed Miss Otoyo, clasping her hands with timid pleasure, "my
estates have unto this place arriving come."

Nance turned and rushed from the room and Molly opened the closet door.

"You can hang all your things in here," she said unsteadily, "and of
course lay some of them in the bureau drawers. Better unpack to-night,
because to-morrow will be a busy day for you. It's the opening day, you
know. If we can help you, don't hesitate to ask."

"I am with gratitude much filled up," said the little Japanese, making a
low, ceremonious bow.

"Don't mention it," replied Molly, hastening back to her room.

She found Nance giving vent to noiseless laughter in the Morris chair.
Tears were rolling down her cheeks and her face was purple with
suppressed amusement. Molly often said that, when Nance did laugh, she
was like the pig who died in clover. When he died, he died all over.
When Nance succumbed to laughter, her entire being was given over to
merriment.

"Wasn't it beautiful?" she exclaimed in a low voice. "Did you ever
imagine such ludicrous English? It was all participles. How do you
suppose she ever made the entrance examinations?"

"Oh, she's probably good enough at writing. It's just speaking that
stumps her. But wasn't she killingly funny? When she said 'my estates
have unto this place arriving come,' I thought I should have to
departing go along with you. But it would have been rude beyond words.
What a dear little thing she is! I think I'll go over later and see how
she is. America must be polite to her visitors."

But Japan, always beforehand in ceremonious politeness, was again ahead
of America in this respect. Just before ten o'clock the mouse's tail
once more brushed their door and Nance's sharp ears catching the faint
sound, she called, "Come in."

Miss Otoyo Sen entered, this time less timidly, but with the same
deprecating smile on her diminutive face.

"Begging honorable pardon of beautiful young ladies," she began, "will
condescendingly to accept unworthy gift from Otoyo in gratitude of
favors receiving?"

Then she produced a beautiful Japanese scroll at least four feet in
length. In the background loomed up the snow-capped peak of the
ever-present sacred mountain, Fujiyama, and the foreground disclosed a
pleasing combination of sky-blue waters dotted with picturesque little
islands connected with graceful curving bridges, and here and there were
cherry trees aglow with delicate pink blossoms.

"Oh, how perfectly sweet," exclaimed the girls, delighted.

"And just the place on this bare wall space!" continued Molly. "It's
really a heaven-sent gift, Miss Sen, because we were wishing for
something really beautiful to hang over that divan. But aren't you
robbing yourself?"

"No, no. I beg you assurance. Otoyo have many suchly. It is nothing.
Beautiful young ladies do honor by accepting humbly gift."

"Let's hang it at once," suggested Molly, "while the step ladder is yet
with us. Queen's step ladder is so much in demand that it's very much
like the snowfall in the river, 'a moment there, then gone forever.'"

The two girls moved the homely but coveted ladder across the room, and,
with much careful shifting and after several suggestions timidly made
by Otoyo, finally hung up the scroll. It really glorified the whole room
and made a framed lithograph of a tea-drinking lady in a boudoir costume
and a kitten that trifled with a ball of yarn on the floor, Nance's
possession, appear so commonplace that she shamefacedly removed it from
its tack and put it back in her trunk, to Molly's secret relief.

"Won't you sit down and talk to us a few minutes?" asked Nance. "We
still have a quarter of an hour before bed time."

Otoyo timidly took a seat on a corner of one of the divans. The girls
could not help noticing another small package which she had not yet
proffered for their acceptance. But she now placed it in Nance's hand.

"A little of what American lady call 'meat-sweet,'" she said
apologetically. "It all way from Japan have coming. Will beautiful
ladies accept so humbly gift?"

The box contained candied ginger and was much appreciated by young
American ladies, the humble giver of this delightful confection being
far too shy to eat any of it herself.

By dint of some questioning, it came out that Otoyo's father was a
merchant of Tokio. She had been sent to an American school in Japan for
two years and had also studied under an English governess. She could
read English perfectly and, strange to say, could write it fairly
accurately, but, when it came to speaking it, she clung to her early
participial-adverbial faults, although she trusted to overcome them in a
very little while. She had several conditions to work off before
Thanksgiving, but she was cheerful and her ambition was to be "beautiful
American young lady."

She was, indeed, the most charming little doll-like creature the girls
had ever seen, so unreal and different from themselves, that they could
hardly credit her with the feelings and sensibilities of a human being.
So correctly polite was she with such formal, stiff little manners that
she seemed almost an automaton wound up to bow and nod at the proper
moment. But Otoyo Sen was a creature of feeling, as they were to find
out before very long.

"Did many girls come down on the train with you to-night, Miss Sen?"
asked Nance, by way of making conversation.

Several young ladies had come, Miss Sen replied in her best participial
manner. All had been kind to Otoyo but one, who had frightened poor
Japanese very, very much. One very kind American gentleman had been
commissioned to bring little Japanese down from big city to University.
He had look after her all day and brought her sandwiches. He friend of
her father and most, most kindly. He had receiving letters from her
honorable father to look after little Japanese girl.

Across the aisle from Otoyo had sat a "beeg young American lady, beeg as
kindly young lady there with peenk hair," indicating Molly. The "beeg"
young American lady, it seems, had great "beeg" eyes, so: Otoyo made two
circles with her thumbs and forefingers to indicate size of young
American lady's optics. She called Otoyo "Yum-Yum" and she made to
laugh at humble Japanese girl, but Otoyo could see that young American
lady with beeg eyes feeling great anger toward little strange girl.

"But for what reason?" asked Molly, slipping her arm around Otoyo's
plump waist. "How could she be unkind to sweet little Japanese
stranger?"

"Young great-eyed lady laugh at me mostly and I very uncomfortably." She
brought out the big word with proud effort.

"But how cruel! Why did she do it?" exclaimed Nance.

Here Otoyo gave a delicious melodious laugh for the first time that
evening.

"She not like kindly gentlemanly friend to be attentionly to humble
Japanese."

"What was the gentleman's name, Otoyo?" asked Molly; and somewhat to her
surprise Otoyo, who, as they were to learn later, never forgot a name,
came out patly with:

"Professor Edwin Green, kindly friend of honorable father."

"Did the young lady call him 'Cousin'?" asked Nance in the tone of one
who knows what the answer will be beforehand.

"Yes," answered Otoyo Sen.

"The same old Judith Blount," laughed Molly.

And Nance recalled Judy's prophetic speech on the last day of college in
June: "Can the le-o-pard change his spots?"

Then the first stroke of the tower clock began to chime the hour of ten
and they promptly conducted Otoyo to her bedroom with the caution that
all lights must be out at ten, a rule she followed thereafter with
implicit obedience.

The next morning, Molly and Nance took Otoyo under their especial care.
They introduced her to all the girls at Queen's, placed her between them
at Chapel, showed her how to register and finally took her on a
sight-seeing expedition.

It turned out that through Professor Green her room had been engaged
since early the winter before. Why he should have chosen Queen's they
hardly knew, since Otoyo appeared to have plenty of money and might
have lived in more expensive quarters. But Queen's he had selected, and
that very evening he called on Mrs. Markham to see that his little
charge was comfortably settled. Molly caught a glimpse of him as he
followed the maid through the hall to Mrs. Markham's sitting room, and
made him a polite bow. She felt somewhat in awe of the Professor of
English Literature this winter, since she was to be in one of his
classes, Lit. II, and was very fearful that he might consider her a
perfect dunce. But Professor Green would not pass Molly with a bow. He
paused at the door of the living room and held out his hand.

"I'm glad to see you back and looking so well," he said. "My sister
asked to be remembered to you. I saw her only yesterday."

The Professor looked well, also. His brown eyes were as clear as two
brown pools in the forest and there was a healthy glow on his face; but
Molly could not help noticing that he was growing bald about the
temples.

"Too bad he's so old," she thought, "because sometimes he's really
handsome."

"I am commissioned," he continued, "to find a tutor for a young Japanese
girl boarding here, and I wondered if you would like to undertake the
work. She needs lessons in English chiefly, but she has several
conditions to work off and it would be a steady position for anyone who
has time to take it. Her father is a rich man and willing to pay more
than the usual price if he can get someone specially interested who will
take pains with his daughter's education."

"I'm willing to do all that," said Molly, "but it goes with the job,
don't you think? I have no right to ask more than is usually asked."

"Oh, yes, you have," answered the Professor quickly. "What you can give
her means everything to the child. She is naturally very timid and
strange. If you are willing to give up several hours to her, say four
times a week, I will arrange about salary with her father and the
lessons may begin immediately."

It was impossible for Molly to disguise her feelings of relief and joy
at this windfall. Her lack of funds was, as usual, an ever-present
shadow in the background of her mind, although, through some fine
investments which Mrs. Brown had been able to make that summer, the
Brown family hoped to be relieved by another year of the pressure of
poverty.



CHAPTER III.

A CLASHING OF WITS.


Queen's Cottage seemed destined to shelter girls of interesting and
unusual types.

"They always do flock together, you know," Miss Pomeroy had remarked to
the President, as the two women sat talking in the President's office
one day. The question had come up with the subject of the new Japanese
student, the first of her nation ever to seek learning in the halls of
Wellington.

"They do," said the President, "but whether it's the first comers
actively persuading the next ones or whether it's a matter of
unconscious attraction is hard to tell."

"In this case I understand it's a matter of very conscious attraction on
one side and no persuasion on the other," replied Miss Pomeroy. "That
charming overgrown girl from Kentucky, Miss Brown, although she's as
poor as a church mouse and last year even blacked boots to earn a little
money, is one of the chief attractions, I think. But some of the other
girls are quite remarkable. Margaret Wakefield lives there, you know.
She makes as good a speech as her politician father. It will be
interesting to watch her career if she only doesn't spoil everything by
marrying."

The two spinsters looked at each other and laughed.

"She won't," answered the President. "She's much too ambitious."

"Then," went on Miss Pomeroy, "there's Julia Kean. She could do almost
anything she wished, and like all such people she doesn't want to do
anything. She hasn't a spark of ambition. It's Miss Brown who keeps
her up to the mark. The girl was actually about to run away last winter
just at mid-years. She lost her courage, I believe, and there was a
remarkable scene, but she was induced to stay."

"Who are the other girls?" asked the President thoughtfully.

"One of them, you recall, is a daughter of the famous suffragette, Mrs.
Anna Oldham. But I fancy the poor daughter has had quite enough of
suffrage. The only other really interesting characters at Queen's,
besides your Japanese, are two sophomores who roomed at Plympton's last
year. They are the Williams sisters, Katherine and Edith, and they are
remarkably bright. They work in a team, and I have not been able to
discover which is the brighter of the two, although I had them to tea
once or twice last year. One is talkative and the other is quiet, but I
suspect the quiet one of doing a deal of thinking."

The two women enjoyed these occasional chats about Wellington students.
They were accustomed to regard most of the classes as units rather than
the members as individuals. Sometimes it was a colorless, uninteresting
class with no special traits worthy of admiration. Sometimes it was a
snobbish, purse-proud class, as in the case of the present juniors. And
again, as with last year's seniors, it was a class of sterling qualities
made up of big girls with fine minds. Seldom did a class contain more
than one or two brilliant members, often not one. The present sophomore
class was one of those "freak" bodies which appear once in a life time.
It was an unusually small class, there being only thirty-eight members.
Some twenty of these girls were extremely bright and at least ten gave
promise of something more than ordinary. As the fastest skaters keep
together on the ice, so the brightest girls gradually drifted into
Queen's and became as one family. It was known that there was a good
deal of jealousy in the less distinguished portion of the class because
of this sparkling group. But, all unconscious of the feeling they were
exciting, the Queen's girls settled themselves down to the enjoyment of
life, each in her own peculiar way.

The two new sophomores at Queen's were, in fact, a welcome addition, and
Molly and her friends found them exceedingly amusing. They were tall,
rather raw-boned types, with sallow skins and large, lustrous,
melancholy eyes. There was only a year's difference in their ages, and
at first it was difficult to tell one from the other, but Edith, the
younger of the sisters, was an inch taller than Katherine and was very
quiet, while Katherine talked enough for the two of them. Because they
were always together they were called "the Gemini," although
occasionally they had terrific battles and ceased to be on speaking
terms for a day or two.

One afternoon, not long after the opening day at college, the Williams
sisters and Mabel Hinton, who now lived in the Quadrangle, paid a visit
to Molly in her room.

"We came in to discuss with you who you consider would make the best
class president this year, Molly," began Katherine. "It's rather hard to
choose one among so many who could fill the place with distinction----"

"But I think Margaret should be chosen," interrupted Molly. "She was a
good one last year. Why change?"

"Don't you think it looks rather like favoritism?" put in Mabel. "Some
of the other girls should have a chance. There's you, for instance."

"Me?" cried Molly. "Why, I wouldn't know how to act in a president's
chair. I'd be embarrassed to death."

"You'd soon learn," said Katherine. "It's very easy to become accustomed
to an exalted state."

"But why not one of you?" began Molly.

"It's a question," here remarked the silent Edith, "whether a class
president should be the most popular girl or the best executive."

"Margaret is both," exclaimed Molly loyally; "but, after all, why not
leave it to the vote at the class meeting?"

"Oh, it will be finally decided in that way, of course," said Katherine,
"but such things are really decided beforehand by a little
electioneering, and I was proposing to do some stump speaking in your
behalf, Molly, if you cared to take the place."

"Oh, no," cried Molly, flushing with embarrassment; "it's awfully nice
of you, but I wouldn't for anything interfere with Margaret. She is the
one to have it. Besides, as Queen's girls, we ought to vote for her.
She belongs to the family."

"But some of the girls are kicking. They say we are running the class,
and are sure to ring in one of our own crowd just to have things our
way."

"How absurd!" ejaculated Molly. "I'm sure I never thought of such a
thing. But if that's the case, why vote for me, then?"

"Because," replied Mabel, "the Caroline Brinton faction proposed you.
They say, if they must have a Queen's girl, they'll take you."

"'Must' is a ridiculous word to use at an honest election," broke in
Molly hotly. "Let them choose their candidate and vote as they like.
We'll choose ours and vote as we like."

"That's exactly the point," said Katherine. "They are something like
Kipling's monkey tribe, the 'banderlog.' They do a lot of chattering,
but they can't come to any agreement. They need a head, and I propose to
be that head and tell them whom to vote for. Shall it be Molly or
Margaret?"

"Margaret," cried Molly; "a thousand times, Margaret. I wouldn't usurp
her place for worlds. She's perfectly equipped in every possible way for
the position."

Nance and Judy now came into the room. Nance looked a little excited and
Judy was red in the face.

"Do you know," burst out the impetuous Judy, "that Caroline Brinton has
called a mass meeting of all the sophomores not at Queen's? She has
started up some cock-and-bull tale about the Queen's girls trying to run
the class. She says we're a ring of politicians. We ran in all our
officers last year and we're going to try and do it this year."

"What a ridiculous notion," laughed Molly. "Margaret was elected by her
own silver-tongued oratory, and Jessie was made secretary because she
was so pretty and popular and seemed to belong next to Margaret anyway."

"But the question is: are the Queen's girls going to sit back and let
themselves be libeled?" demanded Nance.

Here Edith spoke up.

"Of course," she said, "let them talk. Don't you know that people who
denounce weaken their own cause always, and it's the people who keep
still who have all the strength on their side? Let them talk and at the
class meeting to-morrow some of us might say a few quiet words to the
point."

The girls recognized the wisdom of this decision and concluded to keep
well away from any forced meeting of sophomores that evening. It had not
occurred to simple-hearted Molly that it was jealousy that had fanned
the flame of indignation against Queen's girls, but it had occurred to
some of the others, the Williamses in particular, who were very shrewd
in regard to human nature. As for Margaret Wakefield, she was openly and
shamelessly enjoying the fight.

"Let them talk," she said. "To-morrow we'll have some fun. Just because
they have made such unjust accusations against us they ought to be
punished by being made to vote for us."

It was noted that Margaret used the word "us" in speaking of future
votes. She had been too well-bred to declare herself openly as candidate
for the place of class president, but it was generally known that she
would not be displeased to become the successful candidate. The next
morning they heard that only ten sophomores attended the mass meeting
and that they had all talked at once.

Later in the day when the class met to elect its president for the year,
as Edith remarked: "The hoi polloi did look black and threatening."

Molly felt decidedly uncomfortable and out of it. She didn't know how to
make a speech for one thing and she hoped they'd leave her alone. It was
utterly untrue about Queen's girls. The cleverest girls in the class
happened to live there. That was all.

Margaret, the Williamses and Judy wore what might be called "pugilistic
smiles." They intended to have a sweet revenge for the things that had
been said about them and on the whole they were enjoying themselves
immensely. They had not taken Molly into their confidence, but what
they intended to do was well planned beforehand.

Former President Margaret occupied the chair and opened the meeting with
a charming little speech that would have done credit to the wiliest
politician. She moved her hearers by her reference to class feeling and
their ambition to make the class the most notable that ever graduated
from Wellington. She flattered and cajoled them and put them in such a
good humor with themselves that there was wild applause when she
finished and the Brinton forces sheepishly avoided each other's eyes.

There was a long pause after this. Evidently the opposing side did not
feel capable of competing with so much oratory as that. Margaret rose
again.

"Since no one seems to have anything to say," she said, "I beg to start
the election by nominating Miss Caroline Brinton of Philadelphia for our
next class president."

If a bomb shell had burst in the room, there couldn't have been more
surprise. Molly could have laughed aloud at the rebellious and
fractious young woman from Philadelphia, who sat embarrassed and
tongue-tied, unable to say a word.

Again there was a long pause. The Brinton forces appeared incapable of
expressing themselves.

"I second the nomination of Miss Brinton," called Judy, with a bland,
innocent look in her gray eyes.

Then Katherine Williams arose and delivered a deliciously humorous and
delightful little speech that caused laughter to ripple all over the
room. She ended by nominating Margaret Wakefield for re-election and
before they knew it everybody in the room was applauding.

Nominations for other officers were made after this and a girl from
Montana was heard to remark:

"I'm for Queen's. They're a long sight brighter than any of us."

When the candidates stood lined up on the platform just before the votes
were cast, Caroline Brinton looked shriveled and dried up beside the
ample proportions of Margaret Wakefield, who beamed handsomely on her
classmates and smiled so charmingly that in comparison there appeared to
be no two ways about it.

"She's the right one for president," Judy heard a girl say. "She looks
like a queen bee beside little Carrie Brinton. And nobody could say she
ran the election this time, either. Carrie has had the chance she
wanted."

Molly was one of the nominees for secretary and, standing beside a
nominee from the opposing side, she also shone in comparison.

When the votes were counted, it was found that Margaret and Molly had
each won by a large majority, and Caroline Brinton was ignominiously
defeated.

That night Jessie Lynch, who had not in the least minded being
superseded as secretary by Molly, gave a supper party in honor of her
chum's re-election. Only Queen's girls were there, except Mabel Hinton,
and there was a good deal of fun at the expense of Caroline Brinton of
Philadelphia.

"Poor thing," said Molly, "I couldn't help feeling sorry for her."

"But why?" demanded Katherine. "She had the chance she wanted. She was
nominated, but she was such a poor leader that her own forces wouldn't
stand by her at the crucial moment. Oh, but it was rich! What a lesson!
And how charming Margaret was! How courteous and polite through it all.
What a beautiful way to treat an enemy!"

"What a beautiful way to treat wrath, you mean," said her sister; "with
'a soft answer.'"

"It was as good as a play," laughed Judy. "I never enjoyed myself more
in all my life."

But, somehow, Molly felt a little uncomfortable always when she recalled
that election, although it was an honest, straightforward election, won
by the force of oratory and personality, and so skillfully that the
opposing side never knew it had been duped by a prearranged plan of four
extremely clever young women.



CHAPTER IV.

A TEMPEST IN A TEAPOT.


"Do you think those little feet of yours will be able to carry you so
far, Otoyo?" asked Molly anxiously, one Saturday morning.

Otoyo gave one of her delightfully ingenuous smiles.

"My body is smally, too," she said. "The weight is not grandly."

"Not smally; just small, Otoyo," admonished Molly, who was now well
launched in her tutoring of the little Japanese, and had almost broken
her of her participial habits. But the adverbial habit appeared to grow
as the participial habit vanished.

"And you won't get too tired?" asked Judy.

"No, no, no," protested Otoyo, her voice rising with each no until it
ended in a sweet high note like a bird's. "You not know the Japanese
when you say that. I have received training. You have heard of jiu
jitsu? Some day Otoyo will teach beautiful young American lady some
things."

"Yes, but the jiu jitsu doesn't help you when you're tired, does it?"

"Ah, but I shall not be tired. You will see. Otoyo's feet great bigly."

She stuck out her funny stubby little feet for inspection and the girls
all laughed. As a matter of fact, she was a sturdy little body and knew
the secret of keeping her strength. She achieved marvels in her studies;
was up with the dawn and the last person in the house to tumble into
bed, but she was never tired, never cross and out of humor, and was
always a model of cheerful politeness.

"Art ready?" asked Katherine Williams, appearing at the door in a natty
brown corduroy walking suit.

"Can'st have the face to ask the question when we've been waiting for
you ten minutes?" replied Judy.

It was a glorious September day when the walking club from Queen's
started on its first expedition. The rules of the club were few, very
elastic and susceptible to changes. It met when it could, walked until
it was tired and had no fixed object except that of resting the eyes
from the printed page, relaxing the mind from its arduous labors and
accelerating the circulation. Anyone who wanted to invite a guest could,
and those who wished to remain at home were not bound to go.

"Did anybody decide where we were going?" asked Molly.

"Yes, I did," announced Margaret. "Knob Ledge is our destination. It's
the highest point in Wellington County and commands a most wonderful
view of the surrounding country-side----"

"Dear me, you sound like a guide book, Margaret," put in Judy.

"Professor Green is the guide book," answered Margaret. "He told me
about it. You know he is the only real walker at Wellington. Twenty
miles is nothing to him and Knob Ledge is one of his favorite trips."

"I hope that isn't twenty miles," said Jessie anxiously.

"Oh, no, it's barely six by the short way and ten by the road. We shall
go by the short way."

"Isn't Molly lovely to-day?" whispered Nance to Judy, after the walking
expedition had crossed the campus and started on its way in good
earnest.

Molly was a picture in an old gray skirt and a long sweater and tam of
"Wellington blue," knitted by one of her devoted sisters during the
summer.

"She's a dream," exclaimed Judy with loyal enthusiasm. "She glorifies
everything she wears. Just an ordinary blue tam o'shanter, exactly the
same shape and color that a hundred other Wellington girls wear, looks
like a halo on a saint's head when she wears it."

"It's her auburn hair that's the halo," said Nance.

"And her heavenly blue eyes that are saint's eyes," finished Judy.

Molly, all unconscious of the admiration of her friends, walked steadily
along between Otoyo and Jessie, a package of sandwiches in one hand and
a long staff, picked up on the road, in the other.

They were not exactly out for adventure that day, being simply a jolly
party of girls off in the woods to enjoy the last sunny days in
September, and they were not prepared for all the excitements which
greeted them on the way.

Scarcely had they left the path along the bank of the lake and skirted
the foot of "Round Head," at the top of which Molly and her two chums
had once met Professor Green and his brother, when Margaret Wakefield,
well in advance of the others, gave a wild scream and rushed madly back
into their midst. Trotting sedately after her came an amiable looking
cow. The creature paused when she saw the girls, emitted the bovine call
of the cow-mother separated from her only child, turned and trotted
slowly back.

"Why, Margaret, I didn't know you were such a coward," began Jessie
reproachfully.

"Coward, indeed," answered the other indignantly. "I don't believe Queen
Boadicea herself in a red sweater would have passed that animal. Listen
to the creature. She's begun mooing like a foghorn. I suppose she held
me personally responsible for her loss. Anyhow, she began chasing me and
I wasn't going to be gored to death in the flower of my youth."

There was no arguing this fact, and several daring spirits, creeping
along the path until it curved around the hill, hid behind a clump of
trees and took in the prospect. There stood the cow with ears erect and
quivering nostrils. She had a suspicious look in her lustrous eyes and
at intervals she let out a deep bellow that had a hint of disaster in it
for all who passed that way.

The brave spirits went back again.

"What are we to do?" exclaimed Katherine. "If it got out in college that
an old cow kept ten sophomores from having a picnic, we'd never hear the
last of it."

"Unless we behave like Indian scouts and creep along one at a time, I
don't see what we are to do," said Molly. "If we went further up the
hill, she'd see us just the same and if we crossed the brook and took to
the meadow, we'd get stuck in the swamp."

"Suppose we make a run for it," suggested Judy with high courage. "Just
dash past until we reach that group of trees over there."

"Not me," exclaimed Jessie, shaking her head vigorously. "Excuse me, if
you please."

There was another conference in low voices behind the protecting clump
of alder bushes. At last the cow began to ease her mental suffering by
nibbling at the damp green turf on the bank of the little brook.

"She's forgotten all about us. Let's make a break for it," cried Molly.
There was a certain stubbornness in her nature that made her want to
finish anything she began no matter whether it was a task or a pleasure.

The cow flicked a fly from her flank with her tail and went on placidly
cropping grass. Apparently, creature comforts had restored her
equanimity.

"One, two, three, run!" shouted Judy, and the ten students began the
race of their lives.

Not once did the flower and wit of 19-- pause to look back, and so
closely did they stick together, the strong helping the weak, that to
the watchers on the hill--and, alas! there were several of them--they
resembled all together an enormous animal of the imagination with ten
pairs of legs and a coat of many colors. At last they fell down, one on
top of the other, in a laughing, tumbling heap, in the protecting grove
of pine trees, and pausing to look back beheld the ferocious cow amiably
swishing her tail as she cropped the luscious turf on the bank of the
little stream.

"Asinine old thing," cried Margaret. "She's just an alarmist of the
worst kind."

"Who was the alarmist, did you say, Margaret?" asked Edith, with a
wicked smile. But Margaret made no answer, because, as her close
friends well knew, she never could stand being teased.

And now the watchers on the hill, having witnessed the entire episode
from behind a granite boulder and enjoyed it to the limit of their
natures, proceeded to return to Wellington with the story that was too
good to keep, and Queen's girls went on their way rejoicing as the
strong man who runs a race and wins.

At two o'clock, after a long, hard climb, they reached the ledges. To
Molly and Judy, the leading spirits of the expedition, the beautiful
view amply repaid their efforts, but there were those who were too weary
to enjoy the scenery. Jessie was one of these.

"I'm not meant for hard work," she groaned, as she reposed on one of the
flat rocks which gave the place its name and pillowed her head on
Margaret's lap.

They opened the packages of luncheon and ate with ravenous appetites,
finishing off with fudge and cheese sticks. Then they spread themselves
on the table rocks and regarded the scenery pensively. Having climbed
up at great expense of strength and effort, it was now necessary to
retrace their footsteps. The thought was disconcerting.

Edith, who never moved without a book, pulled a small edition of Keats
from her pocket and began to read aloud:

    "My heart aches and a drowsy numbness pains
     My sense, as though of hemlock I had drunk--"

A short laugh interrupted this scene of intellectual repose. Edith
paused and looked up, annoyed.

"I see nothing to laugh at," she said. But the faces of her classmates
were quite serious.

"No one laughed," said Molly.

"A rudely person did laugh," announced Otoyo decisively. "But not of us.
Another hidden behind the rock."

The girls looked around them uneasily. There was no one in sight,
apparently, and yet there had been a laugh from somewhere close by.
Coming to think of it, they had all heard it.

"I think we'd better be going," said Margaret, rising hastily. "We can
see the view on the other side some other day."

Twice that day Margaret, the coming suffragette, had proved herself
lacking in a certain courage generally attributed to the new and
independent woman.

"Come on," she continued, irritably. "Don't stop to gather up those
sandwiches. We must hurry."

Perhaps they were all of them a little frightened, but nobody was quite
so openly and shamelessly scared as President Wakefield. They had seized
their sweaters and were about to follow her down the steep path, when
another laugh was heard, and suddenly a strange man rushed from behind
one of the large boulders and seized Margaret by the arm.

The President gave one long, despairing shriek that waked the echoes,
while the other girls, too frightened to move, crouched together in a
trembling group.

Then the little Japanese bounded from their midst with the most
surprising agility, seized the man by his thumb and with a lightning
movement of the arm struck him under the chin.

With a cry of intense pain, the tramp, for such he appeared to be, fell
back against the rock, his black slouch hat fell off, and a quantity of
dark hair tumbled down on his shoulders. Judith Blount, looking
exceedingly ludicrous in a heavy black mustache, stood before them.

"Oh, how you hurt me," she cried, turning angrily on Otoyo.

Otoyo shrank back in amazement.

"Pardon," she said timidly. "I did not know the rudely man was a woman."

The girls were now treated to the rare spectacle of Margaret Wakefield
in a rage. The Goddess of War herself could not have been more majestic
in her anger, and her choice of words was wonderful as she emptied the
vials of her wrath on the head of the luckless Judith. The Williams
sisters sat down on a rock, prepared to enjoy the splendid exhibition
and the discomfiture of Judith Blount, who for once had gone too far in
her practical joking. Molly withdrew somewhat from the scene. Anger
always frightened her, but she felt that Margaret was quite justified in
what she said.

"How dare you masquerade in those disreputable clothes and frighten us?"
Margaret thundered out. "Do you think such behavior will be tolerated
for a moment at a college of the standing of Wellington University? Are
you aware that some of us might have been seriously injured by what you
would call, I suppose, a practical joke? Is this your idea of amusement?
It is not mine. Do you get any enjoyment from such a farce?"

At last Margaret paused for breath, but for once Judith had nothing to
say. She hung her head shamefacedly and the girls who were with her,
whoever they were, hung back as if they would feign have their share in
the affair kept secret.

"I'm sorry," said Judith with unusual humility. "I didn't realize it was
going to frighten you so much. You see, I don't look much like a man in
my gymnasium suit. Of course the mackintosh and hat did look rather
realistic, I'll admit. When we saw you run from the cow this morning, it
was so perfectly ludicrous, we decided to have some fun. I put on these
togs and we got a vehicle and drove around by the Exmoor road. I'm sorry
if you were scared, but I think I came out the worst. My thumb is
sprained and I know my neck will be black and blue by to-morrow."

"I advise you to give up playing practical jokes hereafter," said the
unrelenting Goddess of War. "If your thumb is sprained, it's your own
fault."

Judith flashed a black glance at her.

"When I lower myself to make you an apology," she ejaculated, "I should
think you'd have the courtesy to accept it," and with that she walked
swiftly around the edge of the rock, where she joined her confederates,
while the Queen's girls demurely took their way down the side of the
hill.

"Was my deed wrongly, then?" asked Otoyo, innocently, feeling somehow
that she had been the cause of the great outburst.

"No, indeed, child, your deed was rightly," laughed Margaret. "And I'm
going to take jiu jitsu lessons from you right away. If I could twirl a
robber around the thumb like that and hit a cow under her chin, I don't
think I'd be such a coward."

Everybody burst out laughing and Molly felt greatly relieved that
harmony was once more established. The walk ended happily, and by the
time they had reached home, Judith Blount had been relegated to an
unimportant place in their minds.



CHAPTER V.

AN UNWILLING EAVESDROPPER.


Busy days followed for Molly. She had been made chairman of the
committee on decoration for the sophomore-freshman reception along with
all her many other duties, and had entered into it as conscientiously as
she went into everything. Some days before the semi-official party for
the gathering of autumn foliage and evergreens, Chairman Molly and Judy
had a consultation.

"What we want is something different," Judy remarked, and Molly smiled,
remembering that her friend's greatest fear in life was to appear
commonplace.

"Caroline Brinton will want cheese cloth, of course," said Molly, "but I
think she'll be out-voted if we can only talk to the committee
beforehand. My plan is to mass all the greens around the pillars and
hang strings of Japanese lanterns between the galleries."

"And," went on fanciful Judy, who adored decoration, "let's make a big
primrose and violet banner exactly the same size as the Wellington
banner and hang them from the center of the gymnasium, one on each side
of the chandelier."

A meeting of the class was called to consider the question of the banner
and it was decided not only to have the largest class banner ever seen
at Wellington, but to give the entire class a hand in the making of it.
The money was to be raised partly by subscription and partly by an
entertainment to be given later.

The girls were very proud of the gorgeous pennant when it was completed.
Every sophomore had lent a helping hand in its construction, which had
taken several hours a day for the better part of a week. It was of silk,
one side lavender and the other side primrose color. On the lavender
side "WELLINGTON" in yellow silk letters had been briar-stitched on by
two skillful sophomores and on the primrose side was "19--" in
lavender.

The Wellington banner, a gift from the alumnae, was also of silk in the
soft blue which every Wellington girl loved. It was necessary to obtain
a special permission from President Walker to use this flag, which was
brought out only on state occasions, and it devolved on Molly, as
chairman, to make the formal request for her class. That this intrepid
class of sophomores was the first ever to ask to use the banner had not
occurred to her when she knocked at the door of the President's office.

Miss Walker would see her in ten minutes, she was told by Miss Maxwell,
the President's secretary, and she sat down in the long drawing room to
await her summons. It was a pleasant place in which to linger, Molly
thought, as she leaned back in a beautiful old arm chair of the
sixteenth century, which had come from a Florentine palace. Most of the
furniture and ornaments in the room had been brought over from Italy by
Miss Walker at various times. There were mirrors and high-backed carved
chairs from Venice. Over the mantel was a beautiful frieze of singing
children, and at one side was a photograph, larger even than Mary
Stewart's, of the "Primavera"; on the other side of the mantel was a
lovely round Madonna which Molly thought also might be a Botticelli.

As her eyes wandered from one object to another in the charming room,
her tense nerves began to relax. At last her gaze rested on the
photograph of a pretty, dark-haired girl in an old-fashioned black
dress. There was something very appealing about the sweet face looking
out from the carved gilt frame, a certain peaceful calmness in her
expression. And peace had not been infused into Molly's daily life
lately. What a rush things had been in; every moment of the day
occupied. There were times when it was so overwhelming, this college
life, that she felt she could not breast the great wave of duties and
pleasures that surged about her. And now, at last, in the subdued soft
light of President Walker's drawing room she found herself alone and in
delightful, perfect stillness. How polished the floors were! They were
like dim mirrors in which the soft colors of old hangings were
reflected. Two Venetian glass vases on the mantel gave out an opalescent
gleam in the twilight.

"Some day I shall have a room like this," Molly thought, closing her
eyes. "I shall wear peacock blue and old rose dresses like the
Florentine ladies and do my hair in a gold net----"

Her heavy eyelids fluttered and drooped, her hands slipped from the arms
of her chair into her lap and her breathing came regularly and even like
a child's. She was sound asleep, and while she slept Miss Maxwell peeped
into the room. Seeing no one, apparently, in the dim light, she went out
again. Evidently the sophomore had not waited, she decided, so she said
nothing to Miss Walker about it.

Half an hour slipped noiselessly by; the sun set. For a few minutes the
western window reflected a deep crimson light; then the shadows deepened
and the room was almost dark.

"Never mind the lights, Mary. I'll see Miss Walker in her office at five
thirty," said a voice at the door. "She expects me and I'll wait here
until it's time."

"Very well, sir," answered the maid.

Someone came softly into the room and sat down near the window, well
removed from the sleeping Molly. Again the stillness was unbroken and
the young girl, sitting in the antique chair in which noble lords and
ladies and perhaps cardinals and archbishops had sat, began to dream.
She thought the dark-haired girl in the photograph was standing beside
her. She wore a long, straight, black dress that seemed to fade off into
the shadows. Molly remembered the face perfectly. There was a sorrowful
look on it now. Then suddenly the sadness changed inexplicably and the
face was the face in the photograph, the peaceful calmness returned and
the eyes looked straight into Molly's, as they did from the picture.

Molly started slightly and opened her eyes.

"I must have been asleep," she thought.

"My dear Edwin," Miss Walker's voice was saying, "this is terrible. I am
so shocked and sorry. What's to be done?"

"I don't know. I haven't been able to think yet, it was all so sudden. I
had just heard when I telephoned you half an hour ago. It's a great blow
to the family. Grace is with them now, and she's a tower of strength,
you know."

"What's to be done about Judith? She was getting on so well this year. I
think her punishment last winter did her good."

"She did appear to be in a better frame of mind," said Professor Green
drily.

"Is she to be told at once?"

"She has to be told about the money, of course, but the disgraceful part
is to be kept from her as much as possible."

Molly's heart began to beat. What should she do? Make her presence known
to Professor Green and Miss Walker? But how very embarrassing that would
be, to break suddenly into this intimate conversation and confess that
she had overheard a family secret.

"The thing has been kept quiet so far," went on the Professor. "The
newspapers, strange to say, have not got hold of it, but it's going to
take every cent the family can get together to pull out of the hole.
Hardly half a dozen persons outside the family know the real state of
the case. I have taken you into my confidence because you are an old and
intimate friend of the family and because we must reach some decision
about Judith. Her mother wants her to stay right where she is now, just
as if nothing had happened. Judith has always been very proud and her
mother thinks it would be too much of a come-down for her to live in
cheaper quarters."

"Nonsense!" exclaimed Miss Walker. "On the contrary, I think it would do
Judith good to associate with girls who are not so well off. Put her
with a group of clever, hard-working girls like the ones at Queen's, for
instance."

Molly's heart gave a leap. How much she would like to tell the girls
this compliment the President had paid them! Then again the
embarrassment of her position overwhelmed her. She was about to force
herself to rise and confess that she had been an unwitting eavesdropper
when she heard the Professor's voice from the door saying:

"Well, you advise me to do nothing this evening? Richard is going to
call me up again in an hour on the long distance in the village for the
sake of privacy. If he agrees with you, I'll wait until to-morrow."

"Where's Mr. Blount now?"

"They think he's on his way to South America. You see, Richard, in some
way, found out about the fake mining deal and the family is trying to
get together enough money to pay back the stockholders. There are not
many local people involved. Most of it was sold in the West and South
and we hope to refund all the money in the course of time. It's nearly
half a million, you know, and while the Blounts have a good deal of real
estate, it takes time to raise money on it."

"What did you say the name of the mine was? I have heard, but it has
slipped my memory."

"'The Square Deal Mine'; a bad name, considering it was about the
crookedest deal ever perpetrated."

Molly started so violently that the Venetian vases on the mantel
quivered and the little table on which stood the picture in the gilt
frame trembled like an aspen.

"The Square Deal Mine!" Had she heard anything else but that name all
summer? Had not her mother, on the advice of an old friend, invested
every cent she could rake and scrape together, except the fund for her
own college expenses, in that very mine? And everybody in the
neighborhood had done the same thing.

"It's a sure thing, Mrs. Brown," Colonel Gray had told her mother. "I'm
going to put in all I have because an old friend at the head of one of
the oldest and most reliable firms in the country is backing it."

The voices grew muffled as the President and Professor Green moved
slowly down the hall. Molly felt ill and tired. Would the Blounts be
able to pay back the money? Suppose they were not and she had to leave
college while Judith was to be allowed to finish her education and live
in the most expensive rooms in Wellington.

She pressed her lips together. Such thoughts were unworthy of her and
she tried to brush them out of her mind.

"Poor Judith!" she said to herself.

The President's footsteps sounded on the stairs. She paused on the
landing, cleared her throat and mounted the second flight.

How dark it had grown. A feeling of sickening fear came over Molly, and
suddenly she rushed blindly into the hall and out of the house without
once looking behind her. Down the steps she flew, and, in her headlong
flight, collided with Professor Green, who had evidently started to go
in one direction and, changing his mind, turned to go toward the
village.

"Why, Miss Brown, has anything frightened you? You are trembling like a
leaf."

"I--I was only hurrying," she replied lamely.

"Have you been to see the President?"

"I didn't see her. It was too late," answered Molly evasively.

They walked on in silence for a moment.

"I am going down to the village for a long-distance message. May I see
you to your door on my way?" he asked.

"Oh, yes," said Molly, half inclined to confide to the Professor that
she had just overheard his conversation. But a kind of shyness closed
her lips. They began talking of other things, chiefly of the little
Japanese, Molly's pupil.

At the door of Queen's, the Professor took her hand and looked down at
her kindly.

"You were frightened at something," he said, smiling gravely. "Confess,
now, were you not?"

"There was nothing to frighten me," she answered. "Did you ever see a
picture," she continued irrelevantly, "a photograph in a gilt frame on a
little table in the President's drawing room? It's a picture of a
slender girl in an old-fashioned black dress. Her hair is dark and her
face is rather pale-looking."

"Oh, yes. That's a photograph of Miss Elaine Walker, President Walker's
sister."

"Where is she now?" asked Molly.

"She died in that house some twenty-five years ago. You know, Miss
Walker succeeded her father as President and they have always lived
there. Miss Elaine was in her senior year when she had typhoid fever and
died. It was a good deal of a blow, I believe, to the family and to the
entire University. She was very popular and very talented. She wrote
charming poetry. I have read some of it. No doubt she would have done
great things if she had lived."

"After all," Molly argued with herself, "I went to sleep looking at her
photograph. It was the most natural thing in the world to dream about
it. But why did she look so sorrowful and then so hopeful? I can't
forget her face."

Once again she was on the point of speaking to Professor Green about the
mine, and once again she checked her confidence. The cautious Nance had
often said to her: "If there's any doubt about mentioning a thing, I
never mention it."

"By the way, Miss Brown, I wonder if there are any vacant rooms here at
Queen's?"

"Yes," said Molly, "there happens to be a singleton. It was to have been
taken by a junior who broke her arm or something and couldn't come back
to college this year. Why? Have you any more little Japs for me to
tutor?"

"No, but I was thinking there might have to be some changes a little
later, and Miss Blount, my cousin, would perhaps be looking
for--er--less commodious quarters. But don't mention it, please. It may
not be necessary."

"I may have to make some changes myself for the same reason," thought
poor Molly, but she said nothing except a trembly, shaky "good-night,"
which made the Professor look into her face closely and then stand
watching her as she hastened up the steps and was absorbed by the
shadowy interior of Queen's still unlighted hallway.



CHAPTER VI.

TWO LONG DISTANCE CALLS.


The President readily granted her gracious permission for the sophomores
to use the Wellington alumnae banner. She was pleased at the class
spirit which had engendered the request and which had also prompted the
sophomores to make a banner of their own.

With reverent hands the young girls hoisted the two splendid pennants on
the evening of the reception. And another unusual distinction was
granted this extraordinary class of 19--. The President and several of
the faculty appeared that evening in the gallery to view the effect.
Never before in the memory of students had Prexy attended a
sophomore-freshman ball.

"They have certainly made the place attractive," said the President,
looking down between the interstices of garlands of Japanese lanterns
on the scene of whirling dancers below. "The banners are really
beautiful. I feel quite proud of my sophomores this evening."

The sophomores were proud of themselves and worked hard to make the
freshmen have a good time and feel at home. Molly, remembering her own
timidity of the year before, took care that there were no wall flowers
this gala evening.

She had invited Madeleine Petit, a lonely little Southern girl, who had
a room over the post office in the village and was working her way
through college somehow. In spite of her own depleted purse, Molly had
sent Madeleine a bunch of violets and had hired a carriage for the
evening. As for the little freshman, she was ecstatic with pleasure. She
never dreamed that her sophomore escort was nearly as poor as she was.
People of Molly's type never look poor. The richness of her coloring,
her red gold hair and deep blue eyes and a certain graciousness of
manner overcame all deficiencies in the style and material of her
lavender organdy frock.

But, in spite of her glowing cheeks and outward gaiety, Molly was far
from being happy that night. No word had come to her from her family all
the week, although they were the most prolific letter writers, all of
them. No doubt they hesitated for a while to let her know the truth
about the Square Deal Mine. Molly was prepared for anything; prepared to
give up college at mid-years and get a position to teach school in the
country somewhere; prepared to look the worst in the face bravely. But
Wellington was like a second home to her now. She loved its twin gray
towers, its classic quadrangle and beautiful cloisters; its spacious
campus shaded with elm trees.

How dear these things had grown to her now that the thought of leaving
them forced its way into her mind!

She was debating these questions inwardly, as she gallantly led her
partner over to the lemonade table, where Mary Stewart, in a beautiful
liberty dress of pigeon blue that matched her eyes, was presiding with
Judith Blount and two other juniors.

"Why, Molly Brown," exclaimed Mary, "in spite of all your glowingness,
you don't seem quite like yourself this evening. Has anything happened
to roughen your gentle disposition? No bad news from home, I hope?"

"Oh, no," returned Molly. "No news at all. I haven't heard all week."

Judith, who still had a grudge against Queen's girls, although she was
endeavoring to overcome it, here remarked:

"Why, I think you are looking particularly well to-night, Molly. Such a
becoming dress!"

Molly flushed as she glanced hastily down at her two-year-old organdy.
Mary Stewart put a hand over her cold, slim fingers.

"You always wear becoming dresses, Molly, dear. In fact, they are so
becoming that no one ever looks at the dress for looking at you."

Molly smiled and pressed her friend's hand in return. She was wondering
if Judith Blount would learn to curb her tongue when she had to curb her
expenses.

"I want you to meet Miss Petit," she said, introducing the little
freshman to the two older girls.

Mary Stewart shook hands kindly and Judith bowed distantly. Certainly
Judith was in a bad humor that night.

"How do you like Wellington?" asked Mary of Miss Petit by way of making
conversation.

"I think it's jus' lovely," drawled the little Southerner with her
inimitable Louisiana accent. "I never danced on a better flo' befo' in
all my life."

Mary Stewart smiled. The soft, melodious voice was music to her ears.

"You live in the Quadrangle, don't you? I think I saw you there the
other day," continued Mary.

"Oh, no, I reckon you saw some other girl. I live over the post office
in the village."

"She has a charming room," broke in Molly, when she was interrupted by a
stifled laugh. Looking up quickly, they were confronted with Judith and
one of her boon companions, their faces crimson with suppressed
laughter.

Miss Petit regarded the two juniors with a kind of gentle amazement.
Then, without the slightest embarrassment, she said to Mary and Molly:

"What lovely manners some of the Wellington girls have!"

At this uncomfortable juncture Edith Williams sailed up.

"This is my dance isn't it, Mademoiselle _Petite_? And while we dance, I
want you to talk all the time so that my ears can drink in your liquid
tones. Have you heard her speak, Miss Stewart? Isn't it beautiful? It's
like the call of the wood-pigeon, so soft and persuasive and delicious."

"Now, you're flattering me," said little Miss Petit, "but I'm glad it
doesn't make you laugh, anyhow," and she floated off in the arms of the
tall Edith as gracefully as a fluffy little cloud carried along by the
breezes.

"Isn't she sweet?" said Molly presently. "And you can't imagine what she
is doing to make both ends meet here. She won a scholarship which pays
her tuition, but she has to earn the money for board and clothes and all
the rest. She washes dishes at a boarding house for her dinners and
cooks her own breakfasts in her room and eats, well, any old thing, for
her lunch. On her door is a sign that says, 'Darning, copying, pressing
and fine laundry work, shampooing and manicuring.' It makes me feel
awfully ashamed of my small efforts."

"Is it possible?" exclaimed Mary. "How can I help her, Molly, without
her knowing it? She seems to be a proud little thing."

"Oh, I don't know. Give her some jabots to do up or have your hair
shampooed. She does hand-painting on china, too, but I don't think you
could quite go her pink rose designs. She'll out-grow hand-painted china
in another year, just as I outgrew framed lithographs and antimacassars
in one evening, after seeing your rooms in the Quadrangle."

"By the way, Molly, have you invited anyone for the Glee Club concert
yet?"

"No, because I didn't know anyone well enough to ask except Lawrence
Upton from Exmoor, and Judith has already asked him."

"Good," said Mary. "Then, will you do me a favor? Brother Willie is
coming down to the concert and expects to bring two friends. Will you
take one of them under your wing?"

Molly was only too delighted to be of service to the friend who had done
so much for her.

"It will be a pleasure and a joy," she said, as she hastened away to
find her small partner for the next waltz.

The "Jokes and Croaks" stage of the sophomore-freshman reception had
been reached, and Katherine Williams, speaking through the megaphone,
was saying:

"An art contribution from the juniors, with accompanying verse:

    "'I never saw a purple cow,
      And never hope to see one;
      But this I know, I vow, I trow:
      I'd rather see than be one.'"

While Katherine read the verse, another girl held up a large picture
entitled "The Flight of the Royal Family." In the foreground was a
little purple cow grazing on purple turf, and in the background, running
at full speed, with every indication of extreme terror on their faces,
were a dozen queens, wearing gold crowns and lavender and primrose
robes.

Hardly a girl at Wellington but had heard of the absurd adventure of the
Queen's girls, and a tremendous laugh shook the walls of the gymnasium.
In the midst of this uproar, someone touched Molly on the shoulder. It
was a junior known to her only by sight, who whispered:

"You're wanted on the telephone."

Now, all telegrams to Wellington College were received at the telegraph
office in the village and telephoned over, and when Molly was notified
that there was a message for her, she felt instinctively that it was a
telegram from home; and they would only telegraph bad news, she was
certain.

Her face was pale and her heart thumping as she hurried out of the
gymnasium. Nance and Judy rose and followed her. If anything was the
matter with their beloved friend, they were determined to share her
trouble.

Molly hastened to the telephone booths in the main corridor.

"Is it a telegram?" she asked the young woman in charge of the
switchboard; for, in the last few years telephones had been installed in
all the houses of the faculty and their respective offices as well,
thereby saving many steps and much time.

"Hello! Long distance?" called the girl, without answering Molly's
question. "Here's your party. Booth No. 2," she ordered.

The operator had very little patience with college girls, and this
Adamless Eden palled on her city-bred soul.

"Hello!" said Molly.

Then came a small, thin voice, an immense distance away, but strangely
familiar.

"Is this Miss Molly Brown of Kentucky?"

"Yes. Who is this?"

"This is Richard Blount. Have you forgotten me?"

"Of course not."

"Is your mother Mrs. Mildred Carmichael Brown, of Carmichael Station,
Kentucky?"

"Yes."

"Um! I suppose you think it's very strange, Miss Brown, my asking you
this question," called the thin, far-away voice. "I had a very good
reason for asking it. Have you heard from home lately?"

"Not for a week. Is anything the matter with my family besides the----"

"No, no, nothing that I know of."

"Is it about the mine?"

"Yes, but you are not to worry. You understand, you are not to worry one
instant. Everything will come out all right."

"It was nearly ten thousand dollars," said Molly, almost sobbing; "our
house and garden and the rest of the apple orchard that was sending me
to college--" Here she broke down completely. "I may have to give up
all this--I may----"

"Now, Miss Molly, you mustn't cry. You make me feel like the very--very
unhappy, way off here."

"Five minutes up," called the voice of the exchange.

"Good-by, good-by," called Molly. "I'm sorry I cried, Mr. Blount."

Poor man! It was all terribly hard on him, and it was cruel of her to
have given way, but it had come so unawares!

From a corner of her eye, she could see her friends waiting anxiously
outside the booth. She pretended to be writing something on the
telephone pad with a stubby pencil tied to a string, until she recovered
her composure.

"What's the matter?" demanded the two girls as she emerged from the
booth.

"It was just a long distance from Richard Blount," said Molly, not
knowing what else to say.

"I didn't know you had asked him to go to the Glee Club concert," said
Nance.

"He can't go," Molly replied quickly, relieved that they had been
willing to accept this explanation.

"I should think he couldn't," put in Judy, in a low voice. "Mamma has
just written me such news about the Blounts. The letter came by the late
mail and I didn't have a chance to read it until a little while ago. Mr.
Blount has failed and gone away, no one knows where. They thought they
could pay off his creditors and his family found that he had mortgaged
all his property and there wasn't any money left."

In the dimly-lighted corridor the girls had not noticed that Molly had
turned perfectly white and was clasping and unclasping her hands
convulsively in an effort to retain her self-control.

"No money left?" she repeated in a low voice.

"Not a cent," said Judy. "Papa knows because he had some friends who
lost money in a mine or something Mr. Blount owned."

"Poor Judith," observed Nance. "Do you suppose she hasn't been told?"

"Of course not. She wouldn't be flaunting around here to-night if she
knew her family were in trouble."

"How strange for us to know and for her not to!" pursued Nance.

"It isn't generally known. Mamma says the papers haven't got hold of it
yet, and I'm not to tell. You see mamma and I met Judith Blount one
afternoon at a matinee just before college opened. That's why she was
interested, because she remembered that Judith was Mr. Blount's
daughter."

All this time Molly's mind was busy working out the problem of how to
remain at college without any money. Of course, the Blounts couldn't pay
their father's debts on nothing, although Richard Blount had told her
not to worry. The family would have to move out of their old home, she
supposed, and take a small house in town, and everybody would have to
just turn in and go to work. Oh, why had her mother heeded the advice
of old Colonel Gray? He had assured her that she would make at least
fifteen thousand from the money invested, while he, poor man, had
squandered his entire inheritance in the enterprise, just because an old
and intimate friend was backing it. That old and intimate friend was Mr.
Blount, and Molly had never guessed it.

Pretty soon it was time to go home. Molly found herself in the carriage,
trying to listen politely to the ceaseless flow of Miss Petit's
conversation, while she wrapped her old, gray eider-down cape about her
and thought and thought. Suddenly the words of Madeleine Petit pierced
her troubled mind.

"Do you write, Miss Brown? I wish I could. I'd like to try for some of
the prizes for short stories. Think of winning a thousand dollars for
one story! Wouldn't it be glorious? Then, there are some advertisement
prizes, too. One for five hundred dollars; think of that! I always cut
out every one I see, meaning to compete, but I never do. It isn't in my
line, you see. I'm going to major in mathematics."

Molly smiled that the dainty little creature should have chosen that
hated subject for her life's work.

"You say you saved the clippings about prizes?" she asked when they had
reached Madeleine's lodging.

"Oh, yes; I have them all in my room. Would you like to see some of
them? Tell the man to wait, and I'll bring them down."

Molly reached Queen's that night before the other girls, and hastening
to the student's lamp, she proceeded to look over the clippings.

One was from a leading woman's magazine; one from a magazine of short
stories; several from advertising firms--the best jingle about a stove
polish; the best catchy phrase about a laundry soap; the best
advertisement in verse or prose for a real estate company which had
purchased an entire mountain and was engaged in erecting numbers of
Swiss chalets for summer residents. The pictures of these pretty little
houses were very attractive. Many of them had poetical names. One of
them, called "The Chalet of the West Wind," occupied the centre of the
page. From its broad gallery could be seen a long vista of valley,
flanked by mountain ranges.

"What a charming place!" thought Molly, and that night she went to bed
with the "Chalet of the West Wind" so deeply photographed in her mind
that she almost felt as if she had been there herself. She could see it
perched on the side of the mountain, looking across the valley. It was
at the very edge of the forest. The picture showed that, and in her
imagination she scented the wild flowers that must grow at its feet in
the springtime. No doubt the west wind, which symbolized health and
happiness, fair weather and sunshine, blew softly through its open
casements and across its spacious galleries.

She went to sleep dreaming of the "Chalet of the West Wind," and in the
morning something throbbed in her pulses. It was a kind of muffled
pounding at first, like the beginning of a long distance call,
"lumpty-tum-tum; lumpty-tum-tum." But gradually a poem took shape in
her mind, and as the fragments came to her she wrote them down on scraps
of paper and hid them carefully in her desk.



CHAPTER VII.

THE GLEE CLUB CONCERT.


"If a cross-section could be made of this house, it would be rather
amusing," exclaimed Judy Kean. "In every room there would be one girl
buttoning up another girl."

It was the evening of the Glee Club concert, and nearly everybody not a
freshman was going to dine somewhere before the concert. Judy and Nance
were invited to the McLeans', and Molly was to have dinner with Mary
Stewart and her guests in the Quadrangle apartment. During the process
of dressing there was a great deal of "cross-talk" going on at Queen's
that night. Through the open doors along the corridors voices could be
heard calling:

"Has anyone a piece of narrow black velvet?"

"Margaret, don't you dare go without hooking me up!"

"Who thinks white shoes and stockings are too dressy?"

"Oh my, but you look scrumptious!"

Molly had saved her most prized dress for this occasion. It was the one
she had purchased the Christmas before in New York and was made of old
blue chiffon cloth over a "slimsy" satin lining, with two big old rose
velvet poppies at the belt. It was cut out in the neck and the sleeves
were short. Just before coming back to college, she had indulged in long
ecru suède gloves, which she now drew on silently. She had received a
letter from her mother that morning and her heart was heavy within her.
The letter said:

"The investment I made last summer has not turned out well. The young
son has assured me that the family intends to pay back all the
creditors, and I am trying not to worry. In the meantime, my precious
daughter, you must not think of giving up college, as you offered in
your last letter; that is, until this term is over. Then we will see
what can be done, although I am obliged to tell you that things do not
look very hopeful about any present funds. Jane is to take a position
in town as librarian and Minnie intends to start a dancing class. Your
brothers and sisters and I will get on, but oh, I did so want you to
have the advantages of a good education."

"But so much else goes with the education," Molly protested to herself.
"So many pleasures and enjoyments. Somehow, it doesn't seem fair for me
to be going to glee club concerts when all my family are working so
hard."

"Have you any stamps, Judy?" she asked suddenly, as she hooked that
young woman into her dress.

"As many as you want up to a dozen," answered Judy. "They are in the
pill box on my desk."

Molly made her way through Judy's tumbled apartment and helped herself
to the stamps.

"I'll return them to-morrow," she said absently, drawing a letter from
her portfolio, slipping one stamp into the envelope, and sticking the
other on the back.

"What in the world are you writing to a real estate firm for, Molly?"
demanded Judy, looking over Molly's shoulder.

"Oh, just answering an ad."

"Are you so rich that you are going to buy a farm?"

"I wish I were."

Judy's curiosity never gave her any peace, and she now desired earnestly
to know why Molly was corresponding with this strange firm.

"If it turns out well, I'll tell you," said Molly; "but if it doesn't,
you'll never, never know."

"You mean thing, and I thought you loved me," ejaculated Judy.

"I do. That's why I won't tell you. If I did, I would have to inflict
something worse on you, and you wouldn't be so thankful for that part."

"I shall burst if I don't know," cried Judy in despair.

"Burst into a million little pieces then, like the Snow Queen's looking
glass and get into people's eyes and make them see queer Judy pictures
and think queerer Judy thoughts."

"Meany, meany," called Judy after her friend, who had seized her gray
eider-down cape and was fleeing down the hall.

"I love all this," thought Molly, as she hastened up the campus to the
Quadrangle. "I adore the gay talk and the jokes--oh, heavens, but it
will be hard to leave it! I understand now how Mary Stewart felt when
she almost decided not to come back this year and then gave up and came
after all."

Molly felt she would enjoy the sensation of being waited on at table
that night instead of waiting herself, as she had done about this time
last year at Judith Blount's dinner. She wondered if there would be a
poor little trembly freshman to pass the food. But Mary was too
kind-hearted for such things and had engaged two women in the village to
cook and serve her dinner.

The other guests had not arrived when Molly let herself into the
beautiful living room of the apartment, which was now turned into a
dining room. The drop-leaf mahogany table had been drawn into the middle
of the floor and was set with dazzling linen and silver for eight
persons.

"I wonder who the other two are," thought Molly.

"Is that you, Molly, dear?" called Mary from the bedroom. "Well, come
and hook my dress--" how many yards of hooks and eyes had Molly joined
together that evening! "And here's something for you. Willie, when he
found out you were taking him, sent you some violets."

"Heavens!" cried the young girl, after she had finished Mary and opened
the large purple box. "Oh, Mary, this bunch is big enough for three
people."

"It's only intended for one, and that's you," laughed the other.

The bouquet was indeed as large as a soup plate.

"I don't think I'd better wear them to dinner. I couldn't see over them.
I should feel as if I were carrying a violet bed on my chest."

"And so you are. No doubt it took all the violets from one large double
bed for that bunch. But you had better wear them at first, and take
them off at the table. Brother Willie is one of the touchiest young
persons imaginable. Father and I have always called him 'the sensitive
plant.'"

Hastily Molly pinned on the enormous bunch, which covered the entire
front of her dress.

"They are coming now," she said, hearing steps in the next room; and,
peeping through the door, she beheld "Brother Willie" himself,
resplendent in his evening clothes, in company with two other equally
resplendent beings, all wearing white gardenias in their buttonholes.

"My goodness, they look like a wedding!" Molly whispered to her friend.

"Aren't they grand?" laughed Mary. "And here I am as plain as an old
shoe, and never will be anything else."

"You are the finest thing I know," exclaimed Molly, tucking her arm
through her friend's and allowing herself to be led rather timidly into
the living room.

The third girl at this fine affair was another post-grad., and presently
Molly rejoiced to see Miss Grace Green enter with her brother, Edwin.
Miss Green looked very pretty and young. She kissed Molly and told her
she was a dear, and smelt the violets and pinched her cheek, glancing
slyly at the three young men, any one of whom might have burdened her
with that huge bouquet. And did not such bouquets argue something more
than ordinary friendship?

As for the Professor, he glanced at the bouquet almost before he looked
at Molly. Then he shook her stiffly by the hand and, turning away,
devoted himself to the post-grad.

"Do they know that my mother has lost all her money in their cousin's
mine?" Molly thought. "Perhaps that's the reason why Professor Green is
so cold tonight. He's embarrassed."

At dinner Molly sat between Will Stewart and an elegant, rich young man
named Raymond Bellaire, who talked in rather a drawling voice about
yachting parties and cross-country riding and motoring. "At college, you
know, the fellahs are awfully set on those little two-seated electric
affairs." What car did Molly prefer? Molly was obliged to admit that
she preferred the Stewart car in New York, whatever that was, it being
the only one she had ever ridden in.

The young man screwed a monocle into one eye and looked at her. He was
half English and had half a right to a monocle, but Molly wished he
wouldn't screw up his eye like that. It made her want to laugh. However,
he didn't appear to notice at all that she was endeavoring to keep the
irresistible laugh-curve from her lips. He only looked at her harder,
and then remarked:

"I say, by Jove, you'd make a jolly fine Portia. Did you ever think of
going on the stage?"

"Oh, no; I'm going to be a school teacher," answered Molly.

"School teacher?" he repeated aghast. "You? With that hair and--by
Jove--those violets!" His eyes had lighted on the mammoth bunch. "Tell
that to the marines."

Molly flushed.

"The violets haven't anything to do with my teaching school," she said a
little indignantly. "And neither has my hair. Didn't you ever see a
red-headed school teacher?"

"Not when her hair curled like that and had glints of gold in it."

"You're teasing me because I'm only a sophomore," she said, and turned
her head away.

"No, by Jove, I'm not though," protested Raymond Bellaire, looking much
pained. But Molly was talking to Willie Stewart at her right.

That young man was the most correct individual in the matter of clothes,
deportment and small talk she had ever seen. She thought of his splendid
father, who had started life as a bootblack.

"I wonder if he's pleased with his fashion-plate son?" she pondered.

She didn't care for him or his friends. They were not like the jolly
boys over at Exmoor, who talked about basket-ball and football, and
swopped confidences regarding Latin and Greek and that _awful_ French
Literature examination, and what this professor was like, and what the
Prexy said or was supposed to have said, and so on. It was all college
gossip, but Molly enjoyed it and contributed her share eagerly. She
tried a little of it on Brother Willie.

"Are you taking up Higher Math. this year, Mr. Stewart?" she asked.

"Oh, after a fashion," he answered. "I don't expect to stay at college
after this year. I'm going to Paris to finish off."

Molly wondered what "Higher Math. after a fashion" really meant.

At the concert later it was a relief to find herself next to Professor
Green, who had scarcely looked in her direction all through dinner. At
first she felt a little embarrassed, sitting next to the Professor, who
was a great man at Wellington. She began silently to admire the packed
audience of young girls in light dresses with a generous sprinkling of
young men in evening clothes.

"You'll probably be a member of the club next year, Miss Brown," the
Professor was saying. "I'm sure you must sing. I am surprised they have
not found it out by this time. Next winter you must----"

"I doubt if I am here next winter," interrupted Molly, and then blushed
furiously and bit her lip. She wished she had not made that speech.

"Is anything going to happen that will keep you from coming to college
next winter?" he asked, glancing at the violets.

"How can I tell what will happen?" she answered childishly.

"Then, why not come back next year?"

"Because--because----" she began. "Oh, here they come!" she interrupted
herself to say, as the members of the Glee Club filed slowly out and
took their seats. "Aren't they sweet in their white dresses?"

"Very!" answered the Professor, "but what's this about next year? It was
just idle talk, wasn't it?"

"No, no," whispered Molly, for the first number was about to begin;
"hasn't Mr. Blount told you anything?"

"Why, no. That is, nothing about you. What on earth?"

"Didn't you have a list of the stockholders?"

"You mean of the Square Deal Mine?" he asked in entire amazement.

"Yes."

"I have a list, but what of it?"

"My mother's name is there--Mrs. Mildred Carmichael Brown."

"Great heavens!" groaned the Professor. Then he sunk far down in his
seat and buried his face in his program.

Jenny Wren opened the concert with this song, which suited her high,
bird-like voice to perfection:

    "'Oh, I wish I were a tiny,
      Browny bird from out the South,
      Settled among the alderholts
      And twittering by the stream;
      I would put my tiny tail down
      And put up my little mouth,
      And sing my tiny life away
      In one melodious dream.

    "'I would sing about the blossoms,
      And the sunshine and the sky,
      And the tiny wife I mean to have,
      In such a cosy nest;
      And if someone came and shot me dead,
      Why, then, I could but die,
      With my tiny life and tiny song
      Just ended at their best.'"

There was something so moving about the little song that Molly felt she
could have melted into a fountain of tears like Undine; and she was
obliged to smile and smile and pretend that her heart wasn't breaking
because her tiny life and tiny song at Wellington--her beloved
Wellington--were soon to come to an end. The Professor, too, was
stirred. He glanced once at Molly's smiling lips and tearful eyes and
blew his nose violently. Then again he contemplated the program with
great interest.

During the intermission, Molly and Will Stewart went visiting down the
aisle. Half the audience was moving about, talking to the other half,
and the hall was filled with the buzz of laughter and conversation.

"I love it! I love it!" Molly kept repeating to herself. "There couldn't
be anything more perfect than college. Oh, do I have to give it up?"

"Hey, Miss Molly!" called Andy McLean in a nearby seat, while Judy and
Nance and George Theodore Green were waving violently to her, and
Lawrence Upton was shaking hands with her and assuring her that the
dinner had been a failure because she hadn't been there. Fortunately,
Judith was well out of ear-shot behind the scenes. The Williams sisters,
from across the aisle, were calling in one voice:

"Molly, come and meet our brother John."

Margaret Wakefield, causing a sensation with her distinguished father,
and enduring the gaze of the entire audience with the calmness of one
reared in the public eye, detained her for a moment to introduce her to
the famous politician.

"A real belle," said Miss Grace Green to her brother, leaning across two
seats to speak to him, "is one who is just as popular with women as
with men, and Miss Molly Brown of Kentucky appears to be a general
favorite."

The Professor looked at his sister absently. Apparently, he hadn't heard
a word she said.

He was saying to himself:

"I think I'll let the tenor sing that little lyric that begins: 'Eyes
like the skies in summer.'"

After a while the delightful affair was over, and Molly, feeling
immensely happy in spite of her anxious heart, had been escorted to
Queen's. Professor Edwin Green, hastening into his room, flung his hat
in one direction and his coat in another, and sat down at his desk.
Without an instant's hesitation, he seized a pencil and the first scrap
of paper he found and began to write:

    "Dear Richard:

    "I know that your cares are many, but get to work on the score
    of the opera. I find that by working at night for a week I shall
    be able to finish the last act and make all the changes you
    suggested. We must launch the thing now. I have overcome all
    scruples, as you called them, and I want nothing more than to
    get the opera into some manager's hands. If you think that Blum
    & Starks will take it up, you had better see them at once. My
    name may be used and everything that goes with it in the way of
    previous unimportant literary efforts. It's unusual, of course,
    for a Professor of English Literature to write a comic opera,
    but the very unusualness may give it some publicity and help the
    thing along. I have made one change without conferring; given
    the tenor-lover the baritone-villain's song: 'Eyes like the
    skies in summer.' Write something very pretty for that, will
    you, old man? The money we may make on this will help some in
    the present critical family situation. I understand that there
    have been a good many failures in light opera this winter, and
    the managers are looking for good things. It may be that we
    shall strike at the psychological moment.

        "Yours,      E. G."

The august Professor then wrote two other letters; one to a firm of
bankers and one to his publishers. At last, getting into an old dressing
gown and some very rusty slippers, lighting a long, black cigar and
drawing his student's lamp nearer, he took an immense roll of manuscript
from a drawer and fell to work. It was three o'clock before he turned in
for three hours of troubled sleep.



CHAPTER VIII.

A JAPANESE SPREAD.


One morning every girl at Queen's discovered by her plate at the
breakfast table a strange rice paper document some twelve inches in
length and very narrow as to width, rolled compactly on a small stick.

"What's this?" demanded Margaret Wakefield, unrolling her scroll and
regarding it with the legal eye of an attorney perusing documentary
evidence.

Across the top of the scroll swung a gay little row of Japanese lanterns
done in delicate water colors, and in characters strangely Japanese was
inscribed the following invitation:

    "Greetings from
     Otoyo Sen:
     Your honorable
     presence is
     requested on
     Saturday evening
     at the insignificant fête
     in the unworthily
     apartment of
     Otoyo Sen.
     Otoyo muchly
     flattered by
     joyful acceptance."

Fortunately, the little Japanese girl, overcome by shyness after this
rash venture, had not appeared at breakfast and was spared the mirthful
expressions on the faces of the girls around the table.

"Well, of all the funny children," laughed Molly. "Nance, let's offer
her our room. She can't get the crowd into her little place."

"Of course," said Nance, agreeable to anything her roommate might
suggest.

Not a single girl declined the quaint invitation and formal acceptances
were sent that very day.

Otoyo was so excited and happy over these missives that she seemed to be
in a state of semi-exaltation for the better part of a week. She rushed
to the village and sent off a telegram and before Saturday morning
received at least a dozen mysterious boxes by express. They were piled
one on top of the other in her room like an Oriental pyramid and no one
was permitted to see their contents.

All offers of assistance were refused the day of the party. Otoyo wished
to carry out her ideas in her own peculiar way and needed only a
step-ladder. If it was not asking too much, would the beautiful and kind
friends not enter their room until that evening? Removing all things
needful in the way of books and clothes to Judy's room, the beautiful
and kind friends good-naturedly absented themselves from their apartment
from ten in the morning to seven-thirty that evening. Molly spent the
afternoon in the library studying, and Nance called on Mrs. McLean and
drank a cup of tea and ate a buttered scone, while she cast an
occasional covert glance in the direction of Andy junior's photograph
on the mantel.

It was well before eight o'clock when the inquisitive guests assembled,
and there were at least twenty of them; for Otoyo's acquaintance was
large and numbered girls from all four classes. They met downstairs in a
body and then marched up to the third story together.

"Let's give her a serenade before we knock," suggested Judy, and they
sang: "The sweetest girl in Wellington is O-to-yo." Any name could be
fitted into this convenient and ingenious song.

Otoyo flung open the door and stood smiling before them. Her manner was
the very quintessence of hospitality. She wore a beautiful embroidered
kimono and her hair was fixed Japanese fashion. Even her shoes were
Japanese, and she carried a little fan which she agitated charmingly to
express her excited emotions.

All her English forsook her in the excitement of greeting her guests and
she could only repeat over and over again:

"Otoyo delightly--Otoyo delightly."

"Well, I never," ejaculated Nance, entering her old familiar room, now
transformed into a gay Japanese bazaar.

"Is this the parent of all the umbrella family?" demanded Judy, pointing
to an enormous parasol swung in some mysterious manner from the centre
of the ceiling and resembling a large fish swimming among a numerous
small-fry of lanterns. The divans were spread with Japanese covers, and
over the white dimity curtains were hung cotton crepe ones of pale blue
with a pink cherry-blossom design. In one corner stood a vase, from
which poured the incense of smoking joss-sticks. Funny little handleless
cups were ranged on the table and lacquered trays of candied fruits,
rice cakes and other indescribable Japanese "meat-sweets," as Otoyo had
called them. The little hostess flew about the room exactly as the
_Three Little Maids_ did in "The Mikado," waving her fan and bowing
profoundly to her guests. Presently, sitting cross-legged on the floor,
she sang a song in her own language, accompanying herself on a curious
stringed instrument, a kind of Japanese banjo. She was, in fact, the
funniest, queerest, most captivating little creature ever seen. She
loaded her guests with souvenirs, little lacquered boxes, fans and
diminutive toys.

"I feel as if I were a belle at a grand cotillion with all these lovely
favors," exclaimed Jessie Lynch.

"Of course, you would always be laden with favors," said Judy; "that is,
if you could get all your beaux to come to the same cotillion. You are
like the sailor who had a lass in every port. I strongly suspect you of
having an admirer in every prominent city in the country."

Jessie laughed and dimpled.

"No," she said; "I stopped at the Rocky Mountains."

Otoyo, who had been listening closely to this dialogue, suddenly
bethought herself of a new sensation she had provided for her friends,
which she was about to forget.

"Oh," she cried, "I nearlee forgetting. American girl love fortune
telling? So do Japanese. You like to have your fortune told?" she
asked, cocking her head on one side like a little bird and blinking at
Jessie.

"Would she?" cried a dozen ironical voices.

"I hope it's nothing disagreeable and there's no bad luck in it," said
Jessie, drawing a slip of paper from a flat, shiny box. "But it's all in
Japanese," she added, with much disappointment.

"Otoyo will translate it. Won't you, you cunning little sugar-lump?"
asked Molly.

"Everybodee choose and then I will make into English," said the small,
busy hostess, flying from one to another on her marshmallow soles.

"Me first of all," cried the eager Jessie. "I had first draw."

Otoyo took the slip and, holding it under a lantern, translated in a
high, funny voice:

"He happy who feesh for one and catch heem, than feesh for many and
catch none."

The wild whoop of joy that went up at this unexpectedly appropriate
statement made the lanterns quiver and the teacups rattle.

Some of the others were not so appropriate, but they were all very
amusing. Mabel Hinton, who had been nicknamed "old maid" the year
before, drew one which announced:

"Your daughters will make good matches."

The girls laughed till the tears ran down their cheeks at this
prediction, and Mabel was quite teased.

"I'd like to know why I shouldn't have a family of marriageable
daughters some day," she exclaimed, blinking at them with near-sighted
eyes while she wiped the moisture from her large round glasses.

Nance's fortune was a very sentimental one and caused her to blush as
red as a rose.

"Love will not change, neither in the cold weenter time nor in the warm
spreengtime under the cherry-blossoms when the moon ees bright."

"Oh, thou blushing maiden," cried Judy, "canst look us in the eye after
this?"

Molly's was rather comforting to her troubled and unquiet heart.

"Look for cleer weather when the sky ees blackest."

Of all the mottoes, Judy's was the funniest.

"Eef thy hus-band beat thee, geeve heem a smile."

"Smile indeed," exclaimed that young woman when the laughter had died
down; "I'll just turn the tables on him and beat him back, Otoyo.
American young lady quite capable of giving honorable husband a good
trouncing with a black-snake whip."

Otoyo opened her eyes at this. It was doubtful whether she could
appreciate the humor of her mottoes, but she enjoyed hearing the girls
laugh; she realized they must be having a good time if they laughed like
that--really genuine, side-shaking laughter and no lip-smiles for
politeness' sake.

"Who's heard the news about Judith Blount?" asked one of the Williamses,
after the party had broken up and only the Queen's girls remained.

Molly and Judy and Nance exchanged telegraphic glances. They had been
careful to keep secret what Mrs. Kean had written her daughter, and they
were curious to know just how much the others knew on the subject,
which was now always uppermost, at least in Molly's mind.

"She's sub-let her apartment, furnished, to that rich freshman from New
York, whose father's worth a fortune a minute from gold mines and oil
wells, and she, I mean Judith, is taking the empty singleton here."

"You don't mean it!" cried a chorus of voices.

"It seems to me I heard that a Mr. Blount lost a lot of money," observed
Margaret. "It must have been her father."

"How are the mighty fallen!" exclaimed Edith Williams. "I should think
she'd have gone anywhere rather than here."

"She couldn't get in any of the less expensive places unless she had
taken a room over the post office in the village."

"Poor Judith!" ejaculated Jessie. "I've known it for a week."

To save her life Molly could not keep a tiny little barbed thought from
piercing her mind: "Is it fair for Judith to stay at college when I
have to leave? Has she any right to the money that's paying her
tuition?"

Molly turned quickly and began gathering up the débris from the
tea-tables. Anything to get that bitter notion out of her head.

"Let's be awfully nice to her, girls," she said presently. "I'm sure
she's terribly unhappy. Remember what success we had with Frances
Andrews last year just through a little kind treatment."

"Judith is a different subject altogether," said Margaret,
argumentatively. "She has such a dreadful temper. You never can tell
when it's going to break loose."

With the Goddess of War sitting among them at this moment, nobody dared
betray by the flick of an eyelash that there were others whose tempers
were rather uncertain. Only Jessie observed:

"Well, Margaret, dear, you got the better of her that time at the
Ledges, temper or no temper."

"I doubt if she takes to poverty as a duck to water," here put in Judy.
"She'll make a very impatient tutor, and I'd hate to have her black my
boots. She might throw them at my head."

"She is certainly not subdued by her reverses," remarked Jessie. "She's
just like a caged animal. I never saw anything to equal her. I went over
there this afternoon and she was packing. She almost pitched me out of
the room. Of course, it's very luxurious at Beta Phi House, but her
little room here isn't to be scorned. It's really quite pretty, with
lovely paper and matting and chintz curtains and wicker chairs."

Suddenly a wave of indignation swept over Molly. Nobody had ever seen
her look as she looked now, burning spots of color on her cheeks and her
eyes black.

"What right has she--how dare she--she should be thankful--" she burst
out incoherently. Then she stamped both feet up and down like an angry
child and flung herself face down on the couch in an agony of tears. It
was a kind of mental tempest, resembling one of those sudden storms
which come with a flash of lightning, a roaring crash of thunder and
then a downpour of rain.

"Why, Mary Carmichael Washington Brown," exclaimed Judy, kneeling beside
poor Molly, "whatever has come over you?"

Little Otoyo was so frightened that she hid behind a Japanese screen,
while the other girls sat dumb with amazement.

The Williams girls were intensely interested, and Margaret, always
consistent and logical in her decisions, knew very well that there was
something serious back of it.

"Please forgive me," said Molly presently, wiping her eyes and sitting
up as limp as a rag. "I'm awfully sorry to have spoiled the evening like
this. I didn't mean it. It just slipped out of me before I knew it was
coming."

"Why, you old sweetness," exclaimed the affectionate Judy, "of course,
you are forgiven. I guess you ought to be allowed a few outbursts. But
what caused it?"

"I think it was nervousness," answered Molly evasively.

But the girls began to realize that it was not entirely nervousness. It
occurred to them now that Molly had been preoccupied and strangely
silent for some time. Occasionally she gave way to forced gaiety. Twice
she had started on walks, changed her mind and come back, without giving
any excuse except that she was a little tired. It was, in fact, a
condition that had come about so gradually that they were hardly aware
they had noticed it until this sudden breakdown.

"She's dead tired and ought to get to bed this minute," remarked Nance,
caressing her friend's hand.

"Dearest Molly," said Jessie, who was moved by a gentle sympathy always
for those in trouble, "go to bed and get a good rest. It was just nice
and human of you to get mad once in a thousand years and we love you all
the better for it."

They were good friends, all of them, Molly felt, as they kissed her or
pressed her hand good-night, while Nance and Judy hastened to clear off
the divan and put up the windows to blow out the heavy, incense-scented
air.

It was Otoyo, however, who brought the tears back to poor Molly's eyes.

"Dear, beautiful Mees Brown," she said. "You must not think it will come
wrong. It will come right, I feel, surelee."

"What is it, Nance?" whispered Judy, after they had got their friend to
bed.

Nance shook her head.

"Heaven knows," she answered. "But it's something, and it must be
serious, Judy, or she never would have let go like that."



CHAPTER IX.

VESPERS.


There was a pretty little Episcopal chapel in the village of Wellington,
where at Vespers on Sunday afternoons the students were wont to
congregate. Six Wellington girls always served as ushers and the college
Glee Club formed the Chapel choir.

"It's a good thing to go to Vespers," remarked Judy one Sabbath
afternoon, pinning on her large velvet hat before the mirror over the
mantel, notably the most becoming mirror in the house, "not only for the
welfare of our souls, but also to attire ourselves in decent clothes."

"I suspect you of thinking it's good for your soul to wear good clothes,
Judy," observed Nance.

"You suspect rightly, then," answered Judy. "If I had to dress in rags,
I'm afraid my soul would become a thing of shreds and patches, too, all
shiny at the seams and down at the heels."

Nance laughed.

"That's a funny way to talk, considering you are about to attend Vespers
at the Chapel of the good St. Francis, who took the vows of poverty and
lived a roving life on the hills around Assisi."

"That's all very true," said Judy, "and I've seen the picture of him
being married to Lady Poverty, but our dispositions are different, St.
Francis's and mine. I like the roving over the hills part, because I'm a
wanderer by nature, but I like to wander in nice clothes. My manners are
getting to be regular old gray sweater manners, and if I didn't put on
my velvet suit and best hat once a week there's no telling what kind of
a rude creature I would become."

"Why, Julia Kean, I'm ashamed of you," cried Nance, "you've as good as
confessed that you go to Vespers to show your fine clothes."

"I don't go to show 'em, goosie; I go to wear 'em. But you have no sense
of humor. What's the good of telling you anything? Molly, there,
understands my feelings, I am sure."

Molly was not listening. She was making calculations at her desk with a
blunt pencil on a scrap of paper.

"I've got as good a sense as you have," cried Nance hotly, "only I don't
approve of being humorous about sacred things."

"Nonsense," broke in Judy, "don't you know, child, that you can't limit
humor? It spreads over every subject and it's not necessarily profane
because it touches on clothes at church. I suppose you think there is
nothing funny about the Reverend Gustavus Adolphus Larsen, and you have
forgotten how you giggled that Sunday when he announced from the pulpit
that his text was taken from St. Paul's 'Efistle to the Epeesians.'"

"He's always getting mixed," here put in Molly, who at certain stages in
the warm discussions between Nance and Judy always sounded a pacifying
note. "They do say that he was talking to Miss Walker about one of the
faculty pews, and he said: 'Do you occupew this pi?'"

This was too much for Nance's severity, and she broke down and laughed
gaily with the others.

"He's a funny little man," she admitted, "but he's well meaning."

"Hurry up," admonished Judy; "it's twenty minutes of four and I want to
get a good seat this afternoon."

"You want to show off your new fashionable headgear, you mean, Miss
Vanity," said Nance, pinning on her neat brown velvet toque and
squinting at herself in the mirror.

"Oh, me," thought Molly, "I wish I had a decent garment to show off."

She had intended to buy some clothes that autumn from a purchasing agent
who came several times a year to Wellington with catalogues and samples,
but she had been afraid to spend any of the money she had earned because
of the precarious state of the family finances.

She ran her hatpin through her old soft gray felt, which had a bright
blue wing at one side, and slipped on the coat of her last winter's gray
suit. Then she drew white yarn gloves over her kid ones, because she had
no muff and her hands were always frozen, and stoically marched across
the campus with her friends.

The Chapel was already crowded when the girls arrived. They had not
heard that the Rev. Gustavus's pulpit was to be filled that afternoon by
a preacher from New York. At any rate, they had to sit in the little
balcony, which commanded a better view of the minister than it did of
the congregation. He was a nice-looking young man, with an unaffected
manner, and he preached to the packed congregation as if he were talking
quietly and simply to one person; at least, it seemed so to Molly. The
sermon was a short address on "Faith." It contained no impassioned
eloquence nor fiery exhortations, but it impressed the students
profoundly.

"Don't try to instruct God about the management of your lives," he said,
"any more than you would direct a wise and kind master who employed you
to work on his estate. All the Great Master asks of you is to work well
and honestly. The reward is sure to come. You cannot hurry it and you
cannot make it greater than you deserve. It is useless to struggle and
rage inwardly. Is not that being rather like a spoiled child, who lies
on the floor and kicks and screams because his mother won't give him any
more cake? Just put your affairs in the hands of God and go quietly
along, doing the best you can. All of a sudden the conditions you once
struggled against will cease to exist, and before you have realized it,
the thing you asked for is yours."

Lots of people, the minister said, prayed a great deal without believing
that their prayers would be heard. It reminded him of a little anecdote.

"One Sunday morning during a terrible drought a country preacher knelt
in the midst of his family at home and prayed earnestly for rain. When
it was time to start for church, the minister noticed that his little
daughter was carrying an umbrella.

"'Why do you take an umbrella, my child?' he asked, glancing at the
cloudless sky.

"'Didn't you just pray for rain, father?' she answered.

"All the learning of the ages is not greater than the simple faith of a
little child," finished the young preacher.

And now the sermon was over and the girls were chatting in groups
outside the Chapel, or strolling along the sidewalk arm in arm. Molly
had withdrawn from her companions for a moment and was standing alone in
a corner of the vestibule.

"I'm afraid I've been acting just like the little child who threw
himself on the floor and kicked and screamed for more cake," she was
thinking. "I suppose another year at college is just like a nice big
hunk of chocolate cake and it wouldn't be good for mental digestion. I
might as well stop struggling and begin to cram mathematics. That's the
hardest thing I have, and I ought to get in as much of it as I can
before I go."

"Perhaps you won't have to go at all," spoke another voice in her mind.

But Molly couldn't see it that way. Other letters from her mother had
made it clear to her that no more money could be raised. There was a
good place waiting for her to step into, however, in a small private
school made up of children who lived in the neighborhood. She could come
home after the mid-year examinations when the present teacher in the
school was planning to be married.

"Oh, Miss Brown," someone said. Molly looked up quickly. It was
President Walker. "Will you walk along with me? I had a letter from your
mother last night and I want to speak to you about it."

The President was a very democratic and motherly woman who not only
guided the affairs of the college with a wise hand, but kept in personal
touch with her girls, and it was not unusual to see her walking home
from Vespers with several students. This time, however, she took Molly's
arm and led her down the village street without asking any of the
others to join her.

The young girl was very sensible of the honor paid her, thus singled out
by the President to walk back to college. She felt a shy pleasure in the
sensation they created as the crowd of students parted to let them pass.

"I am very, very sorry to receive this news from your mother, Miss
Brown," began the President. "I suppose you know what it is?"

"You mean about leaving college, Miss Walker?"

"Yes. It's really a great distress to me to think that one of my Queen's
girls especially must give up in the middle of her course. Instead of
listening to that young man at Vespers, I was thinking and thinking
about this unwelcome news."

Molly smiled. She had managed to listen to the preaching and to think
about her affairs at the same time, because they somehow seemed to fit
together. Once she almost felt that perhaps he knew all about her case
and was preaching to her. But, of course, everybody had problems and
lots of the girls thought the same thing, no doubt,--Madeleine Petit,
for instance.

"Is there no possible way it could be arranged?" went on the President.
"Is this decision of your mother's final?"

Evidently Mrs. Brown had not explained why Molly was obliged to come
home.

"Oh, she didn't decide it," answered the young girl, quickly. "It's
because--because the money's gone--lost."

"I suspected it was something of that sort," went on the President.
"Now, there is a way, Miss Brown, by which you could remain if you would
be willing to leave Queen's Cottage. I am in charge of a Student Fund
for just such cases as yours. This provides for tuition and board,--not
on the campus, but in the village. You're making something now tutoring
the little Japanese girl, I understand. That's good. That will help
along. You will have to manufacture some excuse to your friends about
leaving Queen's. Otherwise, the fund arrangement may remain a secret
between you and me."

Miss Walker pressed the girl's hand and smiled kindly as she searched
her face for some sign of gladness and relief at this offer.

Molly tried to smile back.

"We'll leave everything as it is until the end of this semester,"
continued the President.

"Thank you very, very much," Molly said, making a great effort to keep
her voice from sounding shaky.

Leave Queen's! Was it possible the President didn't know that life at
Queen's was the best part of college to her? Would there be any pleasure
left if she had to tear herself away from her beloved chums and take up
quarters in the village, living on a charity fund?

When she separated from Miss Walker at the McLeans' front door, she was
so filled with inward lamentations and weeping that she could scarcely
say good-night to the President, who looked somewhat puzzled at the
girl's still pale face.

Rushing back to Queen's, Molly flung herself through the front door and
tore upstairs. On the landing she bumped into Judith Blount, who gave
her a sullen, angry look.

"Please be careful next time and don't take up the whole stairs,"
exclaimed that young woman rudely.

Molly glanced at her wildly. What right had she to talk, this wretch of
a girl who could remain at Queen's and live on other people's money? Oh,
oh, oh! Misery of miseries! She rushed up the second flight. She was
having what Judy called "the dry weeps." At the door of Otoyo's room she
paused. It was half open and the little Japanese was sitting
cross-legged on the floor with a lamp beside her, studying.

"May I come in?"

"With much gladness," answered Otoyo, rising and bowing ceremoniously.

"I want to stay in here a little while, Otoyo, away from other people.
May I sit here by the window in this big chair? Go on with your lessons.
I don't want to talk. I wanted to be with someone who was quite quiet.
I should have been obliged to hide in a closet if you hadn't let me in."

"I am very happily glad you came to me," said Otoyo.

She helped Molly off with her coat and hat, pulled out the Morris chair
so that it faced the window and sat down again quietly with her book.

At the end of three-quarters of an hour, Otoyo began to move noiselessly
about the room. Molly was still sitting in the big arm-chair, her hands
clasped in her lap. Presently she became aware that Otoyo was standing
silently before her bearing a lacquer tray on which was a cup of tea and
a rice cake.

"Otoyo, you sweet, little dear," she said, placing the tray on the arm
of the chair. She gulped down the tea and ate the cake, and while the
small hostess made another cupful, Molly continued: "Otoyo, I'm going to
let God manage my affairs hereafter. I'm not going to lie on the floor
any more and kick and scream like a spoiled child for another piece of
chocolate cake. I shall always carry an umbrella now when I pray for
rain, and I mean to begin to-night to polish up in math."

"I am happily glad," said Otoyo, giving her a gentle, sympathetic
smile.



CHAPTER X.

ALL'S WELL THAT ENDS WELL.


There was no happier girl in Wellington one morning than Nance Oldham,
and all because she had been invited to the Thanksgiving dance at Exmoor
College. Nance had never been to a real dance in her life, except a
"shirtwaist" party at the seashore, where she had been a hopeless
wallflower because she had known only one man in the room--her father.
Now, there was no chance of being a wallflower at Exmoor, where a girl's
card was made out beforehand, and she had that warm glow of predestined
success from the very beginning of the festivity.

Molly and Judy were also invited and the girls were to go over to Exmoor
on the 6.45 trolley with Dr. and Mrs. McLean and return on the 10.45
trolley, permission having been granted them to stay up until midnight.
Three other Wellington girls were bound for the dance on the same car.
A young teacher chaperoned this little company, of which Judith Blount
was one.

"I wonder that Judith Blount can make up her mind to go to a dance,"
Judy Kean remarked to Molly. "She's been in such a sullen rage for so
long, she's turned quite yellow. I don't think she will enjoy it."

"It will do her good," answered Molly. "Dancing always makes people
forget their troubles. Just trying to be graceful puts one in a good
humor."

"The scientific reason is, child, that it stirs up one's circulation."

"And brooding is bad for the circulation," added Molly.

It had been a very gloomy holiday, the skies black and lowering and a
dead, warm wind from the south. But there had been no sign of rain, and
now, as they alighted from the car at Exmoor station, they noticed that
the wind had shifted slightly to the east and freshened. The great
blanket of frowning black had broken, and a myriad of small clouds were
flying across the face of the moon like a flock of frightened sheep.
Molly shivered. She had often called herself a human barometer and her
spirits were apt to shift with the wind.

"The wind has changed," she observed to the doctor. "I feel it in my
bones."

"Correct," said the doctor, scanning the heavens critically. "There's no
flavoring extract so strong as a drop of East wind. Let us hope it will
hold back a bit until after the shindig."

With all its penetrating qualities, however, the drop of East wind did
not affect the air in the beautiful old dining hall of Exmoor, used
always for the larger entertainments. Its polished hardwood floor and
paneled walls, its two great open fireplaces, in which immense back logs
glowed cheerfully, made a picture that drove away all memory of bad
weather.

Then the music struck up. The dancers whirled and circled. Nance was in
a seventh heaven. Her cheeks glowed, her eyes shone, and she seemed to
float over the floor guided by the steady hand of young Andy; while his
father looked on and smiled laconically.

"Every laddie maun hae his lassie," he observed to his wife, "and it's
gude luck for him when he draws a plain one with a bonnie brown eye."

"She's not plain," objected Mrs. McLean.

"She has no furbelows in face nor dress that I can see," answered the
doctor.

"They're just a boy and a girl, Andrew. Don't be anticipating. There's
no telling how often they may change off before the settling time
comes."

"And was it your ainsel' that changed so often?" asked the doctor, with
a twinkle in his eye.

"Nay, nay, laddie," she protested, leaning on the doctor's arm
affectionately, "but those were steadier days, I'm thinking."

"There's not so muckle change," said the doctor, "when it comes to
sweethearting."

Many old-fashioned dances were introduced that night: the cottage
lancers, and Sir Roger de Coverly, led off by the doctor and his wife,
whose old-world curtseys were very amusing to the young dancers.

And while the fun waxed fast and furious indoors, outside queer things
were happening. The South wind, gently and insistently battling with the
East wind, had conquered him for the moment. All the little clouds that
had been scuttling across the heavens before the East wind's icy breath,
now melted together into a tumbled, fleecy mass. Snowflakes were
falling, softly and silently, clothing the campus and fields, the
valleys and hills beyond in a blanket of white. Then the angry East wind
returned from his lair with a new weapon: a drenching sheet of cold,
penetrating rain, which changed to drops of ice as it fell and tapped on
the high windows of the dining hall a warning rat-tat-tat quite drowned
in the strains of music. The South wind, conquered and crushed, crept
away and the East wind, summoning his brother from the North to share
the fun, played a trick on the world which people in that part of the
country will not soon forget. Together they covered the soft, white
blanket with a sheet of ice as hard and slippery as plate glass. At
last, having enjoyed themselves immensely, they retired. Out came the
moon again, shining in the frozen stillness, like a great round lantern.

In the meantime, the dance went on and joy was unconfined. Nobody had
the faintest inkling of the drama which had been acted between the East
and the South winds.

Most unconscious of all was Molly, who, having danced herself into a
state of exuberant spirits, sat down to rest with Lawrence Upton in an
ingle-nook of one of the big fireplaces. As chance would have it, they
were joined by Judith Blount and a very dull young man, who, Lawrence
informed Molly, had more money than brains. Judith had not noticed Molly
at first. Probably she would never have chosen that particular spot if
she had. But the destinies of these two girls had been ordained to touch
at intervals in their lives and whenever the meeting occurred something
unfortunate always happened. They were exactly like two fluids which
would not mix comfortably together. There was a general movement of
partners for supper at this juncture and the two girls found themselves
alone for the moment while their escorts departed for coffee and
sandwiches.

"Are you having a good time?" Molly asked, glancing at Judith timidly.

She would have preferred to have said nothing whatever, but she had made
a compact with herself to try and overcome her dislike for this girl
whom she had distrusted from the moment of their first meeting at the
railroad station when Mr. Murphy had given Molly's baggage check
preference.

"Did I appear to be a wallflower?" demanded Judith insolently.

"Oh, I beg your pardon," said Molly. "I didn't mean that of course."

Then she sighed and turned toward the fire with a trembly, unnerved
feeling.

"I don't believe I'll ever get used to having people cross to me," she
thought. "It always frightens me. I suppose I'm too sensitive." She
began to shiver slightly. "The wind is surely in the East now," she
added to herself.

When the young men came back bearing each a tray with supper for two,
she was grateful for the cup of steaming coffee.

"Will you hold this for a minute, Miss Molly," asked Lawrence Upton,
"while I get a chair to rest it on? Lap tables are about as unsteady as
tables on shipboard."

Judith's partner had followed Lawrence's example, and presently the two
students were seen hurrying through the throng, each pushing a chair in
front of him. By some strange fatality, history was to repeat itself.
Just as he reached the girls, the young person who had more money than
brains slipped on a fragment of buttered bread which had fallen off
somebody's plate, skidded along, bumped his chair into Lawrence, who
lost his balance and fell against poor Molly's tray. Then, oh, dreadful
calamity! over went the cup of coffee straight onto Judith's yellow
satin frock.

Molly could have sunk into the floor with the misery of that moment, and
yet she had not in the least been the cause of the accident. It was the
small-brained rich individual who was to blame. But Judith was not in
any condition to reckon with original causes. Molly had been carrying
the tray with the coffee cups and that was enough for her. She leapt to
her feet, shaking her drenched dress and scattering drops of coffee in
every direction.

"You awkward, clumsy creature!" she cried, stamping her foot as she
faced Molly. "Why do you ever touch a coffee cup? Are you always going
to upset coffee on me and my family? You have ruined my dress. You did
it on purpose. I saw you were very angry a moment ago and you did it for
revenge."

Molly shrank back in her seat, her face turning from crimson to white
and back to crimson again.

"Don't answer her," said a small voice in her mind. "Be silent! Be
silent!"

"But, Miss Blount," began her supper partner, feeling vaguely that
justice must be done, "I stumbled, don't you know? Awfully awkward of
me, of course, but I slipped on an infernal piece of banana peel or
something and fell against Upton. Hope your gown isn't ruined."

"It is ruined," cried Judith, her face transformed with rage. "It's
utterly ruined and she did it. It isn't the first time she's flung
coffee cups around. Last winter she ruined my cousin's new suit of
clothes. She's the most careless, awkward, clumsy creature I ever saw.
I----"

A curious little group had gathered over near the fireplace, but Judith
was too angry to care who heard what she was saying. In the meantime,
Lawrence Upton had taken his stand between Judith and Molly, feeling
somehow that he might protect poor Molly from the onslaught. Presently
he took her hand and drew it through his arm.

"Suppose we join the McLeans," he said. "I see they are having supper
all together over there." As they turned to leave, he said to Judith in
a cold, even voice that seemed to bring her back to her senses:

"I upset the coffee. Blanchard fell against me and joggled my arm. If
there is any reparation I can make, I shall be glad to do it."

Whereupon, Judith departed to the dressing room and was not seen again
until it was time to leave.

"What a tiger-cat she is!" whispered Lawrence to Molly, as he led her
across the room.

Molly did not answer. She was afraid to trust her voice just then, and
still more afraid of what she might say if she dared speak.

"What was all that rumpus over there?" demanded Judy when the young
people had joined their friends.

"Oh, just a little volcanic activity on the part of Mount Ætna and a
good deal of slinging of hot lava. Miss Molly and I are refugees from
the eruption, and Mount Ætna has gone upstairs."

"You mean Miss Ætna Blount?" asked Judy.

"The same," said Lawrence.

When it was time for the Wellington party to catch the trolley car home,
they emerged from the warm, cheerful dining hall into a world of
dazzling whiteness. The trees were clothed in it, and the ground was
covered with a crust of ice as hard and shining as marble.

A path of ashes was sprinkled before them, so that they walked safely as
far as the station.

"Heaven help us at the other end," Mrs. McLean exclaimed, clinging to
the doctor's arm.

The car was late in arriving at Exmoor station. At last it hove into
sight, moving at a hesitating gait along the slippery rails. But it had
a comfortably warm interior and they were glad to climb in out of the
bitter cold.

"All aboard!" called the conductor. "Last car to-night."

There is always a gloomy fatality in the announcement, "Last car
to-night." It is just as if a doctor might say: "Nothing more can be
done."

Clang, clang, went the bell, and they moved slowly forward.

After an age of slipping and sliding, frequent stopping and starting and
exchanges of loud confidences between the motorman and the conductor,
the car came to a dead stop.

Dr. McLean, who had been sound asleep and snoring loudly, waked up.

"Bless my soul, are we there?" he demanded.

"No, sir, and far from it," answered the conductor, who had opened the
door and come inside, beating his hands together for warmth.

"Far from it? What do you mean by that, my good man?" asked the doctor.

"There ain't no more power, sir," answered the man. "The trolley's just
a solid cable of ice and budge she won't. You couldn't move her with a
derrick."

"But what are we to do?" asked the doctor.

"I couldn't say, sir, unless you walked. It's only a matter of about two
miles. Otherwise, you'd have to spend the night here and it'll be a
cold place. There ain't no more heat, is there, Jim?"

"There ain't," was Jim's brief reply.

"I guess Jim and I'll foot it into Wellington and the best you can do is
to come along."

The doctor and his wife conferred with the young teacher who had
chaperoned the other party. The question was, would it not be a greater
risk to walk two miles in thin-soled shoes and party dresses over that
wilderness of ice than to remain snugly in the car until they could get
help? The motorman and conductor were well protected from the cold and
from slipping, too, with heavy overcoats and arctic shoes. While they
were talking, these two individuals took their departure, letting in a
cold blast of air as they slid the door back to get out.

The Wellington crowd sat huddled together, hoping to keep warm by human
contact. They tried to beguile the weary hours with conversation, but
time dragged heavily and the car grew colder and colder. Some of the
girls began to move up and down, practicing physical culture exercises
and beating their hands together.

"I think it would be better to walk," announced Mrs. McLean at last. "We
are in much greater danger of freezing to death sitting here than
moving. We'll stick to the track. It won't be so slippery between the
rails."

Even the doctor was relieved at this suggestion, fearful as he was of
slipping on the ice. The gude wife was right, as she always was, and the
lassies had better take the risk and come along quickly. Before they
realized it, they were on the track with faces turned hopefully toward
Wellington. Scarcely had they taken six steps, before three of the girls
tumbled flat, and while they were picking themselves up, Dr. and Mrs.
McLean sat down plump on the ice, hand in hand, like two astonished
children. It was quite impossible to keep from laughing at this
ludicrous situation, especially when the doctor's great "haw-haw" made
the air tremble. The ones who were standing helped the ones who had
fallen to rise and fell themselves in the effort.

"If we only had on skates," cried Judy, "wouldn't it be glorious? We
could skate anywhere, right across the fields or along the road. It's
just like a sea of solid ice."

For an hour they took their precarious way along the track, which was
now on the edge of a high embankment.

"A grand place for coasting," remarked Judy, peeping over the edge.

Suddenly her heels went over her head and her horrified friends beheld
her sliding backwards down the hill.

"Are you hurt at all, my lass?" called the doctor, peeping fearfully
over the side, and holding onto his wife as a drowning man catches at a
life preserver.

"Hurt? No," cried Judy, convulsed with laughter.

"Do you think you can crawl back?" asked Mrs. McLean doubtfully.

Then Judy began the most difficult ascent of her life, on hands and
knees. There was nothing to take hold of and, when she had got half-way
up, back she slipped to the bottom again.

A second time she had almost reached the top when she lost her footing
and once more slipped to the base of the embankment.

"You'd better go on without me," she cried, half sobbing and half
laughing.

The doctor was very uncomfortable. Not for worlds would he have put foot
outside the trolley rails, but something had to be done.

"Let's make a human ladder," suggested Molly, "as they do in melodramas.
I'll go first. Nance, you take my foot and someone hold on to yours and
so on. Then, Judy can climb up, catching hold of us."

The doctor considered this a good scheme and the human chain was
accordingly formed, the doctor himself grasping the ankle of the last
volunteer, who happened to be Judith Blount. But hardly had Judy
commenced the upward climb, when the doctor's heels went over his head
and the entire human ladder found itself huddled together at the foot of
the embankment.

"It's a case of every mon for himself and the divvel tak' the hindmost,"
exclaimed the doctor, sitting up stiffly and rubbing his shins. "Help
yoursel's, lassies. I can do nae mair."

Some of them reached the track at last and some of them didn't, and
those who couldn't make it were Molly and Judith Blount.

"You'll have to follow along as best you can down there," called Mrs.
McLean, grasping her husband's arm. "We'll keep an eye on you from
above."

Once more the belated revellers started on their way, while Molly and
Judith Blount pursued a difficult path between a frozen creek and the
trolley embankment.



CHAPTER XI.

THE GREAT SLEET OF 19--.


Many a fall and many a bruise they got that night as they crept along
the frozen path. At last they reached a point where the creek had been
turned abruptly from its bed and passed through a culvert under the
embankment. Here the path also changed its course and headed for the
golf links of the college.

"They can never get down the embankment and we can never get up,"
remarked Judith, who appeared to have forgotten that she had lately been
a human volcano. "Why can't we take the short cut back? It couldn't be
any worse than this."

"Why not?" answered Molly politely, although it must be confessed she
was still tingling under the lash of Judith's flaying tongue, and not
one word had she spoken since they left the others.

"Mrs. McLean," called Judith, making a trumpet of her hands, "we're
going to cut across the golf links. It will be easier."

"But I'm afraid for you to go alone at this time of night," answered
Mrs. McLean.

"What could harm them a night like this?" expostulated her husband.

"Very well, then. I suppose it's all right," said the distracted and
wearied lady.

"Don't be uneasy, Mrs. McLean. You'll tak' the high road and we'll tak'
the low, but we'll gang to Wellington afore ye," called Molly laughing.

After all, wasn't it absurd enough to make a body laugh--one man, eight
helpless women slipping and sliding after him, and she herself making
off in the darkness with the only enemy she had ever known! She wished
it had been Judy or Nance. She was sure they would have giggled all the
way. But who ever wanted to laugh in the presence of this black-browed,
fierce-tempered Judith?

They walked silently on for some time, until they came to a little hill.

"I guess we'll have to crawl it," sighed Molly.

Long before this, they had pinned their long skirts up around their
waists, and now, on hands and knees, they began the difficult ascent.
Just as they reached the top, Molly's slipper bag somehow got away from
her and went sliding to the bottom. Suddenly both girls began to laugh.
They laughed until the echoes rang, and Molly, losing her grasp on a
bush, went sliding after the bag.

"Oh," laughed Judith, "oh, Molly, I shall----" and then the twigs she
had been clutching pulled out of the ice and down she went on top of
Molly.

The two girls sat up and looked at each other. They felt warmer and
happier from the laugh.

"Judith," exclaimed Molly, suddenly, "I could never laugh with any one
like that and not be friends. It's almost like accepting hospitality.
Shall we be friends again?"

"Oh, yes," replied Judith eagerly. "I am sorry I was rude to-night about
the coffee, Molly. You know it's my terrible temper. Once it gets a
start, I can't seem to hold it in, and I've had a great deal to try me
lately. I apologize to you now. Will you accept my apology?"

"Yes, indeed," Molly assured her. "Come along, let's try again. Once we
get to the top of this little 'dis-incline,' as an old colored man at
home would call it, we'll be on the links."

The girls both reached the summit at the same moment, and as they
scanned the white expanse before them, they exclaimed in frightened
whispers:

"There comes a man."

Instantly they slid back to the bottom again and lay in a heap, gasping
and giggling.

"Where shall we go? What shall we do?" exclaimed Judith.

"Nothing," answered Molly. "We can hardly crawl, much less run, but I
suppose he can't either, so perhaps we are as safe here as anywhere."

"But what man except a burglar could be prowling around Wellington at
this hour?" whispered Judith.

"I can't think of anyone, but I should think no sensible burglar would
come out a night like this. Besides, do burglars ever come to
Wellington?"

"Once there was one, only he wasn't a real burglar. He was a lunatic who
had escaped from an asylum near Exmoor."

"Oh, heavens, Judith, a lunatic? I'd rather meet ten burglars. After
all, only a lunatic would come out on such a night. Can't we run?"

Molly had a fear of crazy people that she had never been able to
conquer.

They rose unsteadily on their frozen feet and began hurrying back in the
direction of the trolley embankment. As they ran, they heard a long,
sliding, scraping sound. Evidently the man had slid down the little
hill. They could hear the sound of his footsteps on the ice. He was
running after them. At last he called:

"Wait, wait, whoever you are. I'm not going to hurt you."

In another moment he had caught up with them. Oh, joy of joys, it was
Professor Green, wearing a thick gray sweater and a cap with ear muffs.
With a cry of relief, Judith flung herself on her cousin's neck while
Molly rather timidly clasped his arm. She felt she could have hugged
him, too, if he had only been a relation.

"We thought you were an escaped lunatic," she exclaimed.

"I am," he answered, "at least I've been nearly crazy trying to get news
of you." He took her hand and drew it firmly through his arm, while
Judith appropriated his other arm. "They telephoned over from Exmoor to
know if you had reached Wellington safely. We found at the village that
the car had not arrived. Then about twenty minutes ago they called us
from the car station to say that the conductor and motorman had walked
but that you had decided to remain in the car all night. I thought I had
better go over and persuade you not to freeze to death by degrees. I am
glad you decided to walk. Where are the others?"

"They have gone on by the track," answered Molly. "We slipped down the
embankment and couldn't crawl up again. Perhaps you could catch them, if
you branched off here and took the other road."

"Never mind," answered the Professor, tucking her arm more tightly
through his. "Dr. McLean can look after the others, now that his burdens
are lightened by two. I'd better see you across this skating rink. Mrs.
Murphy is up waiting for you. I stopped and told her to get hot soup and
water bottles and things ready."

"You're a dear, Cousin Edwin," exclaimed Judith. "You are always
thinking of other people."

"I expect the old doctor will be a good deal knocked up by this little
jaunt," went on the Professor, not taking the slightest notice of
Judith's expressions of gratitude, the first Molly had ever heard her
make about anything.

It was half-past two o'clock when they reached Queen's Cottage, just ten
minutes before the others arrived.

"It's a good thing you found us," Molly said to the Professor as he
helped them up the steps. "I believe we'd have been crawling over those
links another hour or so if you hadn't."

"I can never explain what made me cut across the links," he answered. "I
had my face turned toward the other road when something urged me to go
that way."

Dr. McLean always insisted that it was continuous giggling that kept
them all from freezing that bitter night. Judith Blount was the only one
in the party who suffered from the experience. She spent a week in the
Infirmary with a deep cold and sore throat.

"You see," explained Judy Kean sagely to her two friends, "her system
was weakened by that awful fit of temper; she lost all mental and bodily
poise and took the first disease that came her way."

"She certainly lost all bodily poise," laughed Molly. "I didn't have any
more than she did. We slipped around like two helpless infants."

"But you didn't take cold," said Judy.

"I've made up my mind not to have any colds this winter," announced
Molly seriously. "After all, there's a good deal in just declining to
entertain them. I think the grip is a sort of bully who attacks people
who are afraid of him and keeps away from the ones who are not cowards."

The three girls spent half a day in bed sleeping off their weariness,
and on Friday afternoon they were able to call on Mrs. McLean, who,
being a hardy Scotchwoman, was none the worse from the walk. The doctor,
she said, had been up since seven o'clock attending to his patients.

"The truth is," she added, "he would not have missed the sight for
anything--the whole world turned into a skating rink and the campus the
centre of it."

Everybody in Wellington who could wear skates was out that afternoon.
The campus and golf links, as well as the lake, were covered with
circling, gliding figures. The best skaters coasted down hill on their
skates, as men do on snow shoes. They went with incredible speed and
the impetus carried them up the next hill without any effort.

Molly had seen very little skating at home. She had learned as a child,
but as she grew up the sport had not appealed to her, because somebody
was always falling in and the ice never lasted longer than a day or so.
Now, however, the picture of the circling, swaying crowd of skaters
thrilled her with a new desire to see if she had forgotten how to
balance herself on steel runners.

"Isn't it beautiful?" she cried. "I never saw anything so graceful. They
are like birds. First they soar. Then they flap their wings and soar
again."

"Flap their feet, you mean," interrupted Judy, "and woe to her who flops
instead of flaps."

Mary Stewart came sailing up to them, gave a beautiful curving turn and
then stopped.

"Isn't this glorious sport?" she cried, her cheeks glowing with
exercise. "Has your President told you about the skating carnival? It's
just been decided, and I suppose you haven't seen her yet. It's to take
place to-morrow night. Won't it be beautiful?"

"What fun!" cried Molly. "What a wonderful sight!"

"Now, Molly, you are to wrap up very warm," continued Mary, "no matter
what kind of a costume you decide to wear. No cheesecloth Liberty
masquerades will go, remember."

"Oh, but I can't be in the carnival. I haven't any skates," said Molly.

"I have another pair," answered Mary quickly. "I'll bring them over to
you later."

Molly never guessed that this loving friend skated straight down to the
village that very instant and bought a pair of skates screwed onto stout
shoes at the general store. Tossing away the wrapping paper and smearing
the shoes with snow and ashes to take off the new look, she delivered
them at Queen's before supper.

"It's lucky I knew what number Molly wore," she said to herself, as she
sailed up the campus on her Canadian skates, with strokes as sweepingly
broad and generous as her own fine nature.



CHAPTER XII.

The Skating Carnival.


All fears of a thaw on the heels of this unprecedented cold wave were
put to flight next morning. The thermometer hovered at four degrees
above zero and the air was dry and sparkling. Only those who remained
indoors and lingered over the registers felt the cold.

There was a great deal to be done before evening. Costumes had to be
devised, bonfires built along the lake and at intervals on the links,
lanterns hung everywhere possible and, lastly, a quick rehearsal. The
best skaters were chosen to give exhibitions of fancy skating; there
were to be several races and a grand march.

Molly learned the night before that a sense of balance having once been
acquired is never lost. After supper she had ventured out on the campus
with Judy and Nance, who were both excellent skaters. With a grace that
was peculiarly her own in spite of the first unsteadiness, Molly had
been able to skate to the Quadrangle. There, removing her skating shoes,
and putting on slippers, she had skipped upstairs to thank Mary Stewart
for her kindness. The return to Queen's over the campus had been even
easier, and next morning she felt that she could enter the carnival.

Nobody had a chance to talk about costumes until after lunch on
Saturday, when there was a meeting of the three friends to decide.

"I don't see how I can go. I haven't a thing picturesque," exclaimed
Nance dejectedly.

"Now, Nance, you have no imagination," said Judy.

"One day you tell me I have no sense of humor, and another that I have
no imagination. You'll be telling me I have no brains next."

"Here, eat this and stop quarreling," interrupted Molly, thrusting a
plate of fudge before them. "When in doubt, eat fudge and wisdom will
come."

Judy ate her fudge in silence. Then suddenly she cried exultantly.

"Eureka! Wisdom hath come, yea even to the humble in spirit. Heaven hath
enlightened me. I know what we'll wear, girls."

"What?" they demanded, having racked their brains in vain to think of
something both warm and picturesque.

"We'll go," continued Judy impressively, "as three Russian princesses."

"What in?"

"Leave that to me. You just do as I tell you. Nance, skate down to the
village and buy a big roll of cotton batting. Make them wrap it up well,
so as not to offer suggestions to others."

"What must I do?" asked Molly.

"You must turn up the hems of skirts. Take your old last winter's brown
one, and Nance's old green one, and--and my velvet one----"

"Your best skirt!" exclaimed Nance aghast.

"Yes, why not? We only live once," replied the reckless Judy. "Turn up
the hems all around and baste them. They should reach just to the
shoetops."

That afternoon they hurriedly sewed bands of cotton batting around the
bottoms of their skirts, bordered their jackets with it, made cuffs and
muffs and high turbans. Then Judy dotted the cotton with shoe blacking
and it became a realistic imitation of royal ermine. Each girl wore a
band of brilliant ribbon across the front of her coat with a gilt
pasteboard star pinned to it.

"I suppose this might be taken for the Order of the Star and Garter,"
observed Judy. "At any rate, we are royal princesses of the illustrious
house of Russia, the Princesses Molitzka, Nanitska and Judiekeanovitch.
Those are Russian enough, aren't they?"

Never will Molly forget the fun of that glorious evening, nor the
beautiful picture of the meadows and fields dazzling white in the
moonlight. While the "workers" of the four classes lit the fires and
lanterns, the "drones" circled about on the ice singing college songs.
From over at Exmoor came a crowd of youths who had skated the ten miles
up-hill and down-dale to see the carnival. Sleighing parties from nearby
estates drove over with rough-shod teams to draw the sleighs, and all
Wellington turned out to see the sights.

"I didn't believe there could be so much originality in the world,"
thought Molly, admiring the costumes of the students.

There were many Teddy Bears and Bunny Rabbits. One girl wore a black
velvet suit with a leopard's skin over her shoulder. On her head was a
mythological looking crown with a pair of cow's horns standing upright
at each side. There were numerous Russian Gypsies and two Dr. Cooks
wearing long black mustaches, each carrying a little pole with an
American flag nailed at the top.

Jessie Lynch, not being a skater, sat in a chair on runners, while her
good-natured chum, Margaret Wakefield, pushed her about the lake.
Margaret wore a Chinese costume and her long queue was made of black
skirt braid.

After the parade and the exhibitions of skating, there was general
skating and the lake became a scene of changing color and variety.

"It's like a gorgeous Christmas card," thought Molly, practicing strokes
by herself in one corner while she watched the circle of skaters skim by
her. "And how very light it is. I can plainly recognize Nance going over
the hill with Andy McLean."

"Here she is," called Lawrence Upton, breaking from the circle and
skating towards her as easily, apparently, as a bird flies. His body
leaned slightly. His hands were clasped behind his back, and Mercury
with his winged shoes could not have moved more gracefully.

"Come on, Miss Molly, and have a turn," he said.

"What, me, the poorest skater on the pond?"

"Nonsense! You couldn't dance so well if you were a poor skater. Just
cross hands like this and sail along. I won't let you fall."

Off they did sail and never was a more delightful sensation than
Molly's, flying over the smooth ice with this good-looking young
Mercury. Around and round they skimmed, until one of the Exmoor boys
blew a horn, the signal that it was time to start the ten miles back to
college. Very rough skating it was in places, so Lawrence informed
Molly; rather dangerous going down some of the steep hills, but glorious
fun.

"Why don't you do like Baron Munchausen on the mountain? Sit on a silk
handkerchief and slide down," suggested Molly.

"We have done some sliding of that kind," he answered, laughing, "but it
was accidental and there was no time to get out a pocket handkerchief."

At last the great carnival was over, and Molly, falling in with a crowd
of campus girls, started for home, singing with the others:

"Good-night, ladies, we're gwine to leave you now."

It was nearly ten when she tramped upstairs, still on her skates. Judy
called out to her from her room, but Nance had not returned. Molly
unlaced the skating boots, removed the Russian Princess costume, and
flinging her time-worn eiderdown cape around her shoulders, sat down to
toast her toes.

"Judy," she called presently, "what have you done with Nance?"

"The last I saw of the Lady Nance she was going over the hill with her
sandy-haired cavalier."

"I saw her, too, but I haven't met up with her since. I'm afraid she
will get a 'calling' if she isn't back pretty soon."

The girls waited silently. Presently they heard the last of the carnival
revellers return. The clock in the tower struck ten. Mrs. Markham locked
the hall door and put out the hall light, and still no Nance.

"She's gone off skating with Sandy Andy and forgot the time," whispered
Judy, who had crept into Molly's room to confer. "It's a good joke on
proper old Nance. I think she was never known to break a rule before."

"You don't suppose anything could have happened to them, do you?"

"Of course not. But you know how absorbed they do get in conversation.
They wouldn't hear a cannon go off a yard away."

"They are awfully strict here about being out with boys," observed Molly
uneasily. "I do wish she would come home."

The girls lingered over the register talking in whispers until the clock
struck half-past ten.

"Molly, suppose they have eloped!" Judy observed.

"Eloped!" repeated Molly, amazed. Then she began to laugh. "Judy, is
there anybody in the world so romantic as you? Why, they are mere
infants. Andy isn't nineteen yet and Nance was only eighteen last month.
I think we'd better slip out and find them. Come on."

Very quietly the two girls got into their things. They wore their
rubbers this time, and Molly very thankfully carried the imitation
ermine muff. The entire household was sound asleep when out into the
sparkling, glittering world they crept like two conspirators.

"Suppose we try the links first," suggested Judy, "since both of us saw
them disappearing last in that direction."

"If we were really ladylike persons we'd be afraid to go scurrying off
here in the dark," observed Molly.

"I'm not afraid of anything," Judy replied, and Molly knew she spoke the
truth, for Judy was the most fearless girl she had ever known.

When they reached the summit of the hill, they began calling at the tops
of their voices, "Nance! Nance Oldham!"

There was no answer and not in all the broad expanse of whiteness could
they see a human being.

"I wish I knew what to do," exclaimed Molly, growing more and more
uneasy. "Suppose she has been injured--suppose--suppose----"

"There they are!" cried Judy. "The young rascals, I believe they are
utterly oblivious to time."

Far over the ice appeared the two figures. They were not skating but
walking, and several times before they reached the girls they slipped
and fell down.

"You are a nice pair," cried Judy. "Don't you know it's way after hours
and everybody is in bed long ago?"

"Why, Nance, dear, what has happened? Why are you walking?" asked Molly,
who was rarely known to scold anybody.

"I am very sorry," said Nance stiffly. "I couldn't help it. The heel of
my shoe came off and I couldn't skate. Mr. McLean----"

Judy smiled mischievously.

"They've been quarreling," she said under her breath.

"And Mr. McLean had to bring me back much against his will."

"Nothing of the sort, Miss Oldham," put in "Mr." McLean, flushing
angrily. "I was very glad to bring you back. I only said----"

"Never mind what you said. It was your manner. Actions speak louder than
words."

"Come along," put in Molly. "This is no time for quarrels. It's after
eleven. Andy, what will you do? Skate back to Exmoor or stay at your
father's?"

"I shall skate back, of course," he answered in an heroic voice. "The
other fellows might think something had happened to me."

"Here, Nance, put on one of my overshoes," said Judy. "That will keep
you from slipping and we must hasten e'er the midnight chime doth
strike. Farewell, Andrew. God bless you, and a safe journey, my boy."

Judy struck a dramatic attitude and Molly was obliged to laugh, in spite
of the serious faces of the others.

"Hadn't I better see you home?" asked Andrew stiffly.

"Forsooth, no, good gentleman. Begone, and the sooner the better."

"Come on, you silly goose," laughed Molly, and the three girls hurried
home. Once they stopped to look back, and young Andy, skating as if the
foul fiends were after him, was almost at the end of the course.

There was no Miss Steel that winter to keep a sharp ear open for
late-comers and the girls crept safely up to bed. Twice in the night
Molly heard Nance weeping bitterly. But she said nothing because she
knew that such quarrels are soon mended.



CHAPTER XIII.

THE THAW.


Next day began the thaw and in a week the whole earth appeared to have
melted into an unpleasant muddy-colored liquid. An icy dampness
permeated the air. It chilled the warmth of the soul and changed the hue
of existence to a sad gray.

Judy and Molly were prepared to see Nance thaw with the great sleet and
melt into little rivulets of feeling and remorse. She had seemed rather
hard on Andy, junior, that night; but Nance remained implacable and had
no word to say on the subject.

"She's as ice-bound as ever," exclaimed Judy, shaking her head ruefully.
"I am afraid she still belongs to the glacial period. Don't you think
you can warm her up a little and make her forgive poor Andy?"

"Perhaps the sun will do it," said Molly, lifting her skirts as she
waded through the slush on the campus.

The two girls were on their way to a class and there was no time to
linger for discussions about Nance's unforgiving nature. But there was
nothing Judy enjoyed more than making what she learnedly termed
"psychological speculations" concerning her friends' sentiments.

"Do stop tearing along, Molly, while I talk. I have something
interesting to say."

"Judy Kean, there must be a depression on your head where there should
be a perfectly good bump of duty. Don't you know we have only five
minutes to get to the class? I'd rather be late to almost anything that
Lit. II."

"And why, pray?" demanded Judy, rushing to keep up with Molly's long
steps.

"Oh, well, because it's interesting."

"Is that the only reason?"

"Why don't you turn into a period occasionally, Juliana? You are
every other variety of punctuation mark,--dashes, exclamations,
interrogations. Sometimes you're a comma and I've known you to be
a semicolon, but when, oh, when have you come to a full stop?"

"All this long peroration----"

"Pero--what?"

"Means that you are avoiding the real question."

"Here we are," ejaculated Molly with a sigh of relief as she ran
upstairs and entered the class room at the same moment that Professor
Green appeared from another door.

Molly freely admitted to her friends that English Literature was the
most interesting study she had. She took more pains over the preparation
for this class than for any of her other lessons. She was always careful
not to be late, but then sat timidly and modestly in the back row with
the girls who wished to avoid being called upon to recite. The
Professor's lectures, however, led her into an enchanted country, the
land of poetry and romance. Perhaps, at first, he thought she really
wished to avoid being questioned and that her spellbound expression was
only indifference. Certainly he had seldom tested her interest until one
day during a lecture on the Pre-Raphaelite artists and poets he calmly
requested her to stand up before the entire class and read Rossetti's
"Blessed Damozel." Blushing hotly, she began the reading in a thin,
frightened voice, but presently the amused faces of her friends faded
away; her voice regained its full measure of strength and beauty, and
when she had finished, she became aware that somewhere hidden within the
wellsprings of her mind was a power she had not known of before. Molly's
classmates were much impressed by her performance, but there was a faint
smile on the Professor's face that seemed to imply that he was not in
the least surprised.

Among all the little happenings that infest our daily lives it is often
the least and most accidental that wields the strongest influence. This
chance discovery by Molly that she could read poetry aloud gave her
infinite secret pleasure. She began to memorize and repeat to herself
all her favorite poems. Sometimes her pulses beat time to the rhythm in
her head; even her speech at such times became unconsciously metrical,
and as she walked she felt her body swing to the music of the verse.
With a strange shyness she hid this secret from her friends, who never
guessed when she sat quietly with them that she was chanting poetry to
herself.

Molly had planned to do several errands that afternoon, after the class
in Lit. II. The first one took her to the village to see Madeleine
Petit, the little Southern girl, who was willing to do almost any kind
of work to earn money. Molly had never returned the magazine clippings
of prize offers, and she had also another reason for wanting to see
Madeleine. She wished to find out just how different life in a room over
the post-office was from life at Queen's. She was thankful when the
lesson was over, that Judy was engaged for basket-ball practice in the
gym., for she wished to be alone when she made this call.

Only a few days before, Miss Walker had called to her after chapel and
suggested that she look over the rooms the postmistress rented to
students, and make her choice so that lodgings could be spoken for
before Christmas.

Molly paused at Madeleine's door and read the sign carefully.

"I suppose I shall have to be fixing up something like that," she
thought, "only I never could do up jabots and I'd rather scrub floors
than shampoo people's heads."

"Come in," called the liquid, melting voice of the Southern girl in
answer to Molly's tap. "Oh, how do you do? What a delightful, welcome
surprise," cried the hospitable little person. "Put your feet over the
register. That's where I spend most of my time now. I'm not used to this
awful climate. Now, give me your hat and coat. You're to have tea with
me, you know. You won't mind if I go on working, will you? I'm doing up
some jabots and things for that sweet Miss Stewart. She has given me a
lot of work. Such a lady, if she is a Yankee! I can safely say that to
you because you aren't one, you know. But, really, I'm beginning to like
these Northern girls so much. They are quite as nice as the girls from
home, only quieter," rattled on Miss Petit.

Molly groaned inwardly.

"If she only didn't talk so much," she thought. "I'm always putting up
milestones during her ramblings to remind me of something I wanted to
say, but there's never any chance to go back, even if I could remember
where I put them."

"I wanted to return these clippings," she managed to edge in at last,
producing the slips of papers.

"Oh, you needn't have bothered. I shall never use any of them. I told
you there was nothing but mathematics in my soul. I can't write at all.
The themes are the horror of my life. But you tried, I am sure. Was it
the short story or one of the advertising ones? They are all of them
terribly unsatisfactory because you never know where you stand until
months and months afterwards when you read that somebody has won the
prize. But, of course, I never expect to win prizes. I could never make
a _coup de tête_ like that."

"You could make a _coup de_ tongue," thought Molly, sighing helplessly.

"But did you try?" asked Madeleine, now actually pausing for a reply to
her question.

"I did try one of them, a little poem that came into my head, but it was
weeks ago and I know nothing will come of it. I felt when I sent it off
that it wasn't the kind of thing they wanted, wasn't advertisey enough.
I had really almost forgotten I wrote it, so many other things have
happened since. Can you keep a secret, Miss Petit?"

"I certainly can," replied the busy little creature, pausing in her
labors to test the iron. "Dear me, I must be careful not to scorch any
of these pretty things. But the tea kettle is boiling. Suppose we have
some refreshment and you can tell me the secret in comfort."

Molly smiled at her own Southern peculiarities cropping out in this
little friend.

"Mommer sent me this caramel cake yesterday. It's made from a very old
recipe. I hope you'll like the tea. I'm sorry I can't offer you any
real cream. I would just as soon eat cold cream for the complexion as
condensed cream. It's all right for cooking with, but it doesn't go well
with tea and coffee, which I always make in my own rooms, especially
coffee. It's never strong enough at the place I take my meals. But you
said something about a secret?"

Somehow Molly's affairs seemed to dwindle into insignificance in
comparison with this great tidal wave of conversation, and she resolved
not to take Madeleine into her confidence after all. It occurred to her
that she would soon become a raving maniac if she lived next door to
anyone who talked as much as that.

"It's really not much of a secret," answered Molly lightly. "Miss Walker
asked me to come down and look over some empty rooms here for someone,
and I thought, maybe, if you could spare the time you would come with
me."

"I can always spare the time to be of service to you," exclaimed
Madeleine. "You have done so much for me. You really gave me my start
here, you know."

"Nonsense!" put in Molly.

"Yes, you did. You sent Miss Stewart to me and introduced me to some of
the older girls, who have all been very nice. They would probably never
have heard of me but for you."

When they had finished the tea and cake, which were delicious, they
inspected the vacant rooms, to a steady accompaniment of Madeleine's
conversation. Molly wondered how the capable, clever, industrious little
creature could accomplish so much when her tongue went like a
clap-hammer most of the time. But there was no doubt that she achieved
marvels and was already well up in her classes. Poor Molly's temples
ached with the steady hum. Her tongue was dry and she had a wild impulse
to jump out the window. How could she explain to kind Miss Walker that
she could not live over the post-office? Would it not be an unfriendly
act to tell the real reason?

"It's bad enough as it is," she thought, "leaving my sweet old Queen's,
but this would be beyond human endurance. It will have to be a room
over the general store or at Mrs. O'Reilly's. Anything but this."

The post-office rooms were bare and crude, and poor Molly was sick at
heart when at last she took her leave of the little friend, who was
still babbling unceasingly when the door closed.

Molly breathed a deep sigh of relief as she waded through the slush on
the sidewalk.

"It will be a good deal like being banished from the promised land," she
said to herself, "wherever it is."

Pausing at the door of the general store, she noticed a big, black,
funereal-looking vehicle coming up the street at a slow pace. Passers-by
paused to look at it, with a kind of morbid curiosity, as it drew
nearer.

"Oh, heavens, I hope that isn't an undertaker's wagon," Molly thought,
preparing to flee from the dread sight which always filled her with the
horrors. The big vehicle passed slowly by. On the front seat with the
driver sat Dr. McLean. He bowed to her gravely, barely lifting his hat.
"One of his patients," her thoughts continued, "but it's strange for
him to ride on the same wagon. I don't think I can possibly look at
those other rooms today."

She turned her face away from the general store and hastened back to the
University, which seemed to be the only thing that retained its dignity
and beauty under the disenchanting influences of this muggy, damp day.
As she walked up the avenue, there some distance ahead was the gruesome
equipage.

"Heavens! Heavens! I haven't heard about anything," she exclaimed.

The wagon did not pause at the Infirmary as she expected, but pursued
its way until it reached the McLean house. Molly began to run, and just
as she arrived breathless and excited, the vehicle had backed up to the
steps, two doors swung open, and Mrs. McLean, accompanied by a trained
nurse, stepped out. The doctor climbed down from one side of the vehicle
and the driver from the other. Professor Green sprung up from
somewhere,--he had probably been waiting in the McLeans' hall--and the
three men gently lifted out a stretcher on which lay the almost
unrecognizable form of Andy, junior. A large bandage encircled his head
and one arm was done up in splints.

"Oh, Mrs. McLean," whispered Molly, "I didn't know----"

But Mrs. McLean only shook her head and hurried after the stretcher.

Molly sat down on the muddy steps and waited. After what seemed an age,
Professor Green emerged from the house.

"You are a reckless girl to sit there in all that dampness," he
exclaimed.

"Never mind me. What about Andy?"

"He's in pretty bad shape, I am afraid," answered the Professor. "He was
hurt the night of the carnival in some way. I don't know just how it
happened that he lost the others. At any rate, they found him after a
long hunt half frozen to death, a gash in his head, and several broken
bones. They thought they had better bring him home, where the doctor
could look after him, but he hasn't stood the journey as well as they
hoped."

"Poor Nance!" said Molly, as she hastened back to Queen's.



CHAPTER XIV.

QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS.


"Oh, Molly, what was that awful black wagon that went up the avenue a
few minutes ago?" demanded half a dozen voices as she opened the door
into her own room.

"The freshman at the Infirmary who was threatened with typhoid fever is
getting well," remarked Margaret Wakefield.

"Surely, nothing has happened to any of the Wellington girls?" put in
Jessie uneasily.

"No, no," answered Molly, "nothing so terrible as that, thank goodness.
It wasn't an undertaker's wagon, but an ambulance." She paused. It would
be rather hard on Nance to tell the news about Andy before all the
girls.

"It looked something like the Exmoor ambulance," here observed Katherine
Williams.

Molly was silent. Suppose she should tell the sad news and Nance should
break down and make a scene. It would be cruel. "I'll wait until they
go," she decided. But this was not easy.

"Who was in the ambulance, Molly?" asked Judy impatiently. "I should
think you would have had curiosity enough to have noticed where it
stopped."

It was no use wrinkling her eyebrows at Judy or trying to evade her
direct questions. The inquisitive girl went on:

"Wasn't that Dr. McLean on the seat with the driver?"

"Naturally he would be there, being the only physician in Wellington,"
replied Molly.

Then Lawyer Wakefield began a series of cross-questions that fairly made
the poor girl quail.

"In which direction were you going when you met the ambulance?" asked
this persistent judge.

"I was coming this way, of course."

"And you mean to say your curiosity didn't prompt you to turn around and
see where the ambulance stopped?"

"I didn't say that," faltered Molly, feeling very much like a prisoner
at the bar.

"You did turn and look then? Was it toward the faculty houses or the
Quadrangle that the ambulance was driving?"

"Well, really, Judge Wakefield, I think I had better seek legal advice
before replying to your questions."

Margaret laughed.

"I only wanted to prove to myself that the only way to get at the truth
of a matter is by a system of questions which require direct answers.
It's like the game of 'Twenty Questions,' which is the most interesting
game in the world when it's properly played. Once I guessed the ring on
the Pope's finger in six questions just by careful deduction. It's
easier to get at the truth by subtracting than adding----"

"Truth, indeed. You haven't got a bit nearer than any of us," burst in
the incorrigible Judy. "With all your legal mind you haven't made Molly
tell us who was in the ambulance, and of course she knows. She has
never said she didn't, yet."

Molly felt desperately uncomfortable. She wished now that she had told
them in the beginning. It had only made matters worse not to tell.

"Molly, you are the strangest person. What possible reason could you
have for keeping secret who was in the ambulance? Was it one of the
students or one of the faculty?" demanded Nance.

"People who live in the country say that calves are the most inquisitive
creatures in the world, but I think girls are," remarked Molly.

"This is as good as a play," cried one of the Williams girls, "a real
play behind footlights, to sit here and look on at this little comedy of
curiosity. You've asked every conceivable question under the sun, and
Molly there has never told a thing. Now I happen to know that the
ambulance is connected with the sanitarium over near Exmoor. I saw it
once when we were walking, and it is therefore probably bringing someone
from Exmoor here. Then if you wish to inquire further by the 'deductive
method,' as Judge Wakefield calls it: who at Exmoor has connections at
Wellington?"

"Dodo Green and Andy McLean," said Judy quickly.

"Exactly," answered Edith.

Nance's eyes met Molly's and in a flash she understood why her friend
had been parrying the questions of the other girls. It was to save her
from a shock.

Perhaps some of the other girls recognized this, too, for Margaret and
the Williamses rose at the same moment and made excuses to go, and the
others soon followed. Only blundering and thoughtless Judy remained to
blunder more.

"Molly Brown," she exclaimed, "you have been getting so full of
mysteries and secrets lately that you might as well live in a tower all
alone. Now, why----"

"Is he very badly hurt, Molly?" interrupted Nance in a cold, even voice,
not taking the slightest notice of Judy's complaints.

"Pretty badly, Nance. The journey over from Exmoor was harder on him
than they thought it would be. I stood beside the stretcher for a
minute."

Nance walked over to the side window and looked across the campus in the
direction of the McLean house. On the small section of the avenue which
could be seen from that point she caught a glimpse of the ambulance
making its return trip to Exmoor.

She turned quickly and went back to her chair.

"It looks like a hearse," she said miserably.

"Is it Andy?" asked Judy of Molly in a whisper.

Molly nodded her head.

"What a chump I've been!" ejaculated Judy.

"It happened the night of the carnival, of course," pursued Nance.

"Yes."

"It was all my fault," she went on quietly. "I would coast down one of
those long hills and Andy didn't want me to. I knew I could, and I
wanted to show him how well I could skate. Then, just as we got to the
bottom, my heel came off and we both tumbled. It didn't hurt us, but
Andy was provoked, and then we quarreled. Of course, walking back made
us late and he missed the others."

"But, dear Nance, it might have happened just the same, even if he had
been with the others," argued Molly.

"No, it couldn't have been so bad. He must have been lying in the snow a
long time before they found him, and was probably half frozen," she went
on, ruthlessly inflicting pain on herself.

"They did go back and find him, fortunately," admitted Molly.

"He was the first and only boy friend I have ever had," continued Nance
in a tone of extreme bitterness. "I always thought I was a wallflower
until I met him. Other girls like you two and Jessie have lots of
friends and can spare one. But I haven't any to spare. I only have
Andy." Her voice broke and she began to sob, "Oh, why was I so stubborn
and cruel that night?"

Judy crept over and locked the door. She was sore in mind and body at
sight of Nance's misery.

"I feel like a whipped cur," she thought. "Just as if someone had beaten
me with a stick. Poor old Nance!"

"You mustn't feel so hopeless about it, Nance dear," Molly was saying.
"I'm sure he'll pull through. They wouldn't have brought him all this
distance if he had been so badly off."

"They have brought him home to die!" cried Nance fiercely. "And I did
it. I did it!" she rocked herself back and forth. "I want to be alone,"
she said suddenly.

"Of course, dear Nance, no one shall disturb you," said Molly, taking a
pile of books off the table and a "Busy" sign, which she hung on the
door. "We'll bring up your supper. Don't come down this evening."

But when the girls returned some hours later with a tray of food, Nance
had gone to bed and turned her face to the wall, and she refused to eat
a morsel. All next day it was the same. Nance remained in bed,
ruthlessly cutting lessons and refusing to take anything but a cup of
soup at lunch time. The girls called at Dr. McLean's to inquire for
Andy and found that his condition was much the same. Nance's condition
was the same, too. She turned a deaf ear to all their arguments and
declined to be reasoned with.

"She can't lie there forever," Judy exclaimed at last.

"But what are we to do, Judy?" Molly asked. "She's just nursing her
troubles until she'll go into melancholia! I would go to Mrs. McLean,
but she won't see anyone and the doctor is too unhappy to listen. I
tried to tell him about Nance and he didn't hear a word I was saying. I
didn't realize how much they adored Andy."

Judy could offer no suggestion and Molly went off to the Library to
think.

It occurred to her that Professor Green might give her some advice. He
knew all about the friendship between Nance and Andy, and, besides, he
had interested himself once before in Nance's troubles when he arranged
for her to go to the McLeans' supper party the year before. Molly
glanced at the clock. It was nearly half-past four.

"He'll probably be in his little cloister study right now," she said to
herself, and in three minutes she was rapping on the oak door in the
corridor marked "E. Green."

"Come in," called the Professor.

He was sitting at his study table, his back turned to her, writing
busily.

"You're late, Dodo," he continued, without looking up. "I expected you
in time for lunch. Sit down and wait. I can't stop now. Don't speak to
me for fifteen minutes. I'm finishing something that must go by the six
o'clock mail."

Molly sank into the depths of the nearest chair while the Professor's
pen scratched up and down monotonously. Not since the famous night of
her Freshman year when she was locked in the cloisters had she been in
the Professor's sanctum, and she looked about her with much curiosity.

"I wish I had one just like it," she thought. "It's so peaceful and
quiet, just the place to work in and write books on 'The Elizabethan
Drama,' and lyric poetry, and comic operas----"

There was a nice leathery smell in the atmosphere of book bindings
mingled with tobacco smoke, and the only ornament she could discover,
except a small bronze bust of Voltaire and a life mask of Keats, was a
glazed paper weight in the very cerulean blue she herself was so fond
of. It caught the fading light from the window and shone forth from the
desk like a bit of blue sky.

Molly was sitting in a high back leather chair, which quite hid her from
Judith Blount, who presently, knocking on the door and opening it at the
same moment, entered the room like a hurricane.

"Cousin Edwin, may I come in? I want to ask you something----"

"I can't possibly see you now, Judith. You must wait until to-morrow.
I'm very busy."

"Oh, pshaw!" exclaimed the girl and banged the door as she departed into
the corridor.

What a jarring element she was in all that peaceful stillness! The
muffled noises in the Quadrangle seemed a hundred miles away. Molly
rose and tiptoed to the door.

"He'll be angrier than ever if he should find me here," she thought.
"I'll just get out quietly and explain some other time."

Her hand was already on the doorknob when the Professor wheeled around
and faced her.

"Why, Miss Brown," he exclaimed, "was it you all the time? I might have
known my clumsy brother couldn't have been so quiet."

"Please excuse me," faltered Molly. "I am sure you are very busy. I am
awfully sorry to have disturbed you."

"Nonsense! It's only unimportant things I won't be bothered with, like
the absurd questions Judith thinks up to ask me and Dodo's gossip about
the fellows at Exmoor. But I am well aware that you never waste time. I
suspect you of being one of the busiest little ladies in Wellington."

Molly smiled. Somehow, she liked to be called a "little lady" by this
distinguished professor.

"But your letter that must go by the six mail?"

"That can wait until morning," he said.

He had just said it was to go at six, but, of course, he had a right to
change his mind.

"Sit down and tell me what's the trouble. Have you had bad news from
home?"

"No, it's about Nance," she began, and told him the whole story. "You
see," she finished, "Nance has had so few friends, and she is very fond
of Andy. Because she thinks the accident was her fault, she is just
grieving herself into an awful state."

The Professor sat with his chin resting on his hand.

"Poor little girl!" he said. "And the Doctor and Mrs. McLean are in
almost as bad a state themselves. You know it's just a chance that Andy
will pull through. He has developed pneumonia."

"Oh, dear, with all those broken bones and that terrible gash! Isn't it
dreadful?"

"Pretty bad. Have you tried talking to Miss Oldham?"

"I've tried everything and nothing will move her. It's just a kind of
stubborn misery that seems to have paralyzed her, mind and body."

The two sat in silence for a moment, then the Professor said:

"Suppose I go down to Queen's to-night and see Miss Oldham? Do you think
she could be induced to come down into Mrs. Markham's sitting room and
have a talk with me?"

"I should think so. She wouldn't have the courage to decline to see one
of the faculty."

"Very well. If she is roused to get up and come down stairs, she may
come to her senses. But don't go yet. I have something to tell you,
something that doesn't concern Miss Oldham but--er--myself. Do you
remember the opera I told you about?"

Molly nodded.

"It's going into rehearsal Christmas week and will open in six weeks.
Are you pleased?"

Molly was pleased, of course. She was always glad of other people's good
luck.

"How would you like to go to the opening?" he asked.

"It would be wonderful, but--but I don't see how I can. I told you there
were complications."

"Yes, I know," he answered, "but you're to forget complications that
night and enjoy my first attempt to be amusing."

"I'll try," answered Molly, not realizing how her reply might sound to
the author of the comic opera, who only smiled good-naturedly and said:

"The music will be pretty at any rate."

They sat talking about the opera for some time, in fact, until the tower
clock clanged six.

"I never dreamed it was so late," apologized Molly, "and I have kept you
all this time. I know you must be awfully busy. I hope you will forgive
me."

"Didn't I just say that your time was quite as important as mine?" he
said. "And when two very important people get together the moments are
not wasted."

That night the Professor did call on Nance at Queen's, and the unhappy
girl was obliged to get into her things as quickly as possible and go
down. What he said to her Molly and Judy never knew, but in an hour
Nance returned to them in a normal, sensible state of mind, and not
again did she turn her face to the wall and refuse to be comforted.

"There is no doubt in my mind that Professor Green is the nicest person
in Wellington, that is, of the faculty," thought Molly as she settled
under the reading lamp, and prepared to study her Lit. lesson.



CHAPTER XV.

A RECOVERY AND A VISIT.


Young Andy McLean was not destined to be gathered to his forefathers
yet, however, and before Christmas he was able to sit up in bed and beg
his mother fretfully to telephone to Exmoor and ask some of the fellows
to come over.

"The doctor says you're not to see any of the boys yet, Andy," replied
his mother firmly.

"If I can't see boys, is there anything I can see?" he demanded with
extreme irritability.

Mrs. McLean smiled and a little later dispatched a note to Queen's
Cottage. That afternoon Nance came shyly into Andy's room and sat down
in a low chair beside the white iron hospital bed which had been
substituted for the big old mahogany one.

"Your mother says you are lots better, Andy," she said.

Andy gave a happy, sheepish smile and wiggled two fingers weakly, which
meant they were to shake hands.

"Mother was afraid for the fellows to come," he said, "on account of my
heart. I suppose she thinks a girl can't affect anybody's heart."

"I'm so quiet, you see," said Nance, "but I'll go if you think it's
going to hurt you."

"You wouldn't like to see me cry, would you? I boohooed like a kid this
morning because they wouldn't let me have broiled ham for breakfast. I
smelt it cooking. It would be just like having to give up broiled ham
for breakfast to have you go, Nance. Sit down again, will you, and don't
leave me until I tell you. Since I've been sick I've learned to be a
boss."

"I'm sorry I didn't let you boss me that night, Andy," remarked Nance
meekly. "I ought never to have coasted down the hill. I've wanted to
apologize ever since."

"Have you been blaming yourself?" he broke in. "It wasn't your fault at
all. It all happened because I was angry and didn't look where I was
going. I have had a lot of time to think lately, and I've decided that
there is nothing so stupid as getting mad. You always have to pay for it
somehow. Look at me: a human wreck for indulging in a fit of rage.
There's a fellow at Ex. who lost his temper in an argument over a
baseball game and walked into a door and broke his nose."

Nance laughed.

"There are other ways of curing tempers besides broken bones," she said.
"Just plain remorse is as good as a broken nose; at least I've found it
so."

"Did you have the remorse, Nance?" asked Andy, wiggling the fingers of
his good hand again.

"Yes, awfully, Andy," answered the young girl, slipping her hand into
his. "I felt just like a murderer."

The nurse came in presently to say that the fifteen minutes allotted for
the call was up. It had slipped by on the wings of the wind, but their
friendship had been re-established on the old happy basis. Andy was
unusually polite to his mother and the nurse that day, and Nance went
straight to the village and bought two big bunches of violets, one for
Molly and one for Judy. In some way she must give expression to the
rejoicing in her heart, and this was the only means she could think of.

Besides Andy McLean's recovery, several other nice things happened
before Christmas. One morning Judy burst into her friend's room like a
wild creature, waving a letter in each hand.

"They are coming," she cried. "They have each written to tell me so.
Isn't it perfect? Isn't it glorious?"

No need to tell Molly and Nance who "they" were. These girls were fully
aware that Judy treated her mother and father exactly like two
sweethearts, giving each an equal share of her abundant affections; but
the others were not so well informed about Judy's family relations.
Otoyo Sen began to clap her hands and laugh joyously in sympathy.

"Is it two honorable young gentlemen who arriving come to see Mees
Kean?"

"Now, Otoyo, how often have I told you not to say 'arriving come,'"
exclaimed Molly. "I know it's a fascinating combination and difficult to
forget in moments of excitement, but it's very bad English."

"Mees Kean, she is so happee," replied the Japanese girl, speaking
slowly and carefully. "I cannot remembering when I see so much great
joy."

"Wouldn't you be happy, too, if your honorable mamma and papa were
coming to Wellington to visit you, you cunning little sparrow-bird?"
asked Judy, seizing Otoyo's hands and dancing her wildly about the room.

"Oh, it is honorable mother and father! That is differently. It is not
the same in Japan. Young Japanese girl might make great deal of noise
over something new and very pretty,--you see? But it is not respectful
to jump-up-so about parents arriving."

There was a great laugh at this. Otoyo was an especial pet at Queen's
with the older girls.

"She's like a continuous performance of 'The Mikado,'" remarked Edith
Williams. "Three little maids from school rolled into one,--the
quaintest, most adorable little person."

"And when do these honorable parents arriving come?" asked Margaret
Wakefield.

"To-morrow afternoon," answered Judy. "Where shall I get rooms? What
shall I take them to see? Shall I give a tea and ask the girls to meet
them? Don't you think a sleighing party would be fun? And a fudge party
in the evening? Papa loves fudge. Do you think it would be a good idea
to have dinner up here in Molly's and Nance's room, or let papa give a
banquet at the Inn? Do suggest, everybody."

Judy was too excited to sit down. She was walking up and down the room,
her cheeks blazing and her eyes as uncannily bright as two elfin lights
on a dark night.

"Be calm, Judy," said Molly, taking her friend by the shoulders and
pushing her into a chair. "You'll work yourself into a high fever with
your excitable ways. Now, sit down there and we'll talk it over quietly
and arrange a program."

Judy sat down obediently.

"I suppose it does seem funny to all of you, but, you see, mamma and
papa and I have been brought up together----"

"You mean you brought them up?" asked Edith.

"We brought each other up. They call me 'little sister', and until I
went off to college, because papa insisted I must have some education,
life was just one beautiful lark."

"What a jolly time you must have had!" observed Nance with a wistful
smile which reminded the self-centred Judy at last that it was not
exactly kind to pile it on too thickly about her delightful parents.

Not a little curiosity was felt by the Queen's girls to see Mr. and Mrs.
Kean, whom Judy had described as paragons of beauty and wit, and they
assembled at Wellington station in a body to meet the distinguished
pair. Judy herself was in a quiver of happy excitement and when finally
the train pulled into the station, she rushed from one platform to
another in her eagerness. Of course they had taken the chair car down,
but she was too bewildered to remember that there was but one such coach
on the Wellington train, and it was usually the rear car.

"I don't find them. Oh, mamma! Oh, papa! You couldn't have missed the
train!" she cried, addressing the spirits of the air.

Just then a very tall, handsome man with eyes exactly like Judy's
pinioned her arms from behind.

"Well, little sister, don't you know your own father?"

He was just as Judy had described him; and her word-picture also fitted
Mrs. Kean, a dainty, pretty, little woman, with a doll-like face and
flaxen hair, who would never have given the impression that she was in
the habit of roughing it in engineering camps, sleeping out of doors,
riding across sun-baked plains on Texas bronchos, and accompanying her
husband wherever he went on his bridge and railroad-building trips.

"Judy hasn't had much home life," she said later to Molly. "We had to
take our choice, little sister and I, between a home without papa or
papa without a home, and we decided that he was ten thousand times more
delightful than the most wonderful palace ever built."

Her extravagant speeches reminded Molly of Judy; but the mother was much
gentler and quieter than her excitable daughter, and perhaps not so
clever.

They dined at Queen's that night and made a tour of the entire house,
except Judith Blount's room, all apartments having been previously
spruced up for inspection. Otoyo had shown her respect for the occasion
by hanging a Japanese lantern from the chandelier and loading a little
table with "meat-sweets," which she offered to the guests when they
paused in her room during their triumphal progress through the house.

Later Molly and Nance entertained at a fudge and stunt party and Mr. and
Mrs. Kean were initiated into the secrets of life at Queen's.

They entered into the fun like two children, and one of the stunts, a
dialogue between the Williams sisters, amused Mr. Kean so much that he
laughed loud and long, until his wife shook him by the shoulder and
exclaimed:

"Hush, Bobbie. Remember, you're not on the plains, but in a girls'
boarding school."

"Yes, Robert," said Judy, who frequently spoke to her parents by their
first names, "remember that you are in a place where law and order must
be maintained."

"You shouldn't give such laugh-provoking stunts, then," answered Mr.
Kean, "but I'll try and remember to put on the soft pedal hereafter."

Then Molly, accompanying herself on Judy's guitar, sang:

    "Big camp meetin' down the swamp,
     Oh, my! Hallelujah!"

Mr. Kean suddenly joined in with a deep, booming bass. He had learned
that song many years before in the south, he said, and had never
forgotten it.

"He never forgets anything," said Judy proudly, laying her cheek against
her father's. "And now, what will you sing, Bobbie, to amuse the
ladies?"

Mr. Kean, without the least embarrassment, took the guitar, and, looking
so amazingly like Judy that they might have been twins, sang:

    "Young Jeremy Jilson Johnson Jenks
     Was a lad of scarce nineteen----"

It was a delightful song and the chorus so catchy that after the second
verse the entire fudge and stunt party joined in with:

    "'Oh, merry-me, merry-me,'
      Sang young Jeremy,
     'Merry-me, Lovely Lou----'"

Presently Mr. Kean, seizing his daughter around the waist, began
dancing, and in a moment everybody was twirling to that lively tune,
bumping against each other and tumbling on the divans in an effort to
circle around the room. All the time. Mrs. Kean, standing on a chair in
the corner, was gently remonstrating and calling out:

"Now, Bobbie, you mustn't make so much noise. This isn't a mining camp."

Nobody heard her soft expostulations, and only the little lady herself
heard the sharp rap on the door and noticed a piece of paper shoved
under the crack. Rescuing it from under the feet of the dancers, and
seeing that it was addressed to "Miss Kean," she opened and read it.

"Oh, how very mortifying," she exclaimed. "Now, Bobbie, I knew you would
get these girls into some scrape. You are always so noisy. See here! Our
own Judy being reprimanded! You must make your father explain to the
President or Matron or whoever this Miss Blount is, that it was all his
fault."

"What in the world are you talking about, Julia Kean?" demanded Judy,
snatching the note from her mother and reading it rapidly. "Well, of all
the unexampled impudence!" she cried when she had finished. "Will you be
good enough to listen to this?

"'Miss Kean: You and your family are a little too noisy for the comfort
of the other tenants in this house. Those of us who wish to study and
rest cannot do so. This is not a dance hall nor a mining camp. Will you
kindly arrange to entertain more quietly? The singing is especially
obnoxious.

    "'JUDITH BLOUNT.'"

Judy was in such a white heat of rage when she finished reading the
note, that her mother was obliged to quiet her by smoothing her forehead
and saying over and over:

"There, there, my darling, don't mind it so much. No doubt the young
person was quite right."

Mr. Kean was intensely amused over the letter. He read it to himself
twice; then laughed and slapped his knee, exclaiming:

"By Jove, Judy, my love, it takes a woman to write a note like that."

"A woman? A cat!" broke in Judy.

Mrs. Kean put her hand over her daughter's mouth and looked shocked.

"Oh, Judy, my dearest, you mustn't say such unladylike things," she
cried.

"It's just because she wasn't invited," continued Judy. "I wouldn't let
the girls ask her this time. She usually is invited and makes as much
racket as any of us."

"It was rather mean to leave her out," observed Molly. "I suppose she's
sore about it. But we didn't ask all the girls at Queen's. Sallie Marks
and two freshmen were not invited, and if we had gone outside, we'd have
invited Mary Stewart and Mabel Hinton."

"Still," said Mr. Kean, "there's nothing meaner than the 'left-out'
feeling. It cuts deep. Suppose we smooth things over by asking her to
our next party. Let me see. Will all of you give Mrs. Kean and me the
pleasure of having you dine with us to-morrow evening at the Inn? Now,
may I borrow some writing materials?" he added, after a chorus of
acceptances had been raised.

Nance conducted him to her writing desk, which was always the acme of
neatness, and well stocked with stationery. Here is the letter that Mr.
Kean wrote to Judith Blount, which Judy, looking over her father's
shoulder, read aloud as it evolved:

"'Dear Miss Blount:' (Blount, did you say her name was? Humph!) 'You
were quite right to scold Mr. Kean and me for making so much noise. It
was inconsiderate of us----'"

"But, Bobbie," protested Mrs. Kean, "it isn't fair to lay the blame on
me and make me write the letter, too."

"Be quiet, my love," answered her husband.

"'Will you not give us the pleasure of your company at dinner to-morrow
evening at the Inn? We are anxious to show you what really quiet,
law-abiding people we are, and Mr. Kean and I will be much disappointed
if you do not allow us the opportunity to prove it to you.'"

Judy's father paused, his pen suspended, while he asked:

"Didn't I see bill posters at the station announcing a performance at
the Opera House?"

"Yes," cried Judy. "They're giving 'The Silver King.'"

"'Dinner will be a little early,'" he wrote, "'because Mr. Kean is
planning to take us all to the play afterwards. He will call for you
in'----what shall I call for you in?"

"The bus," promptly answered every girl in the room.

"'--the bus at six fifteen. Anticipating much pleasure in having you
with us to-morrow, believe me,

    Most cordially yours,
        JULIA S. KEAN.'"

"Now, Julia, my love, sit down and copy what I've written in your best
handwriting, and we'll try to smooth down this fiery young person's
ruffled feathers."

Mrs. Kean obediently copied the note. After all, it wasn't an unkind
revenge, and Otoyo delivered it at Judith's door while the others
chatted quietly and absorbed quantities of hot fudge and crackers.

Presently Otoyo stole softly back into the room.

"What did she say, little one?" asked Judy.

"She was very stilly," answered Otoyo shyly. "She spoke nothing
whatever. I thought it more wisely to departing go."

The laugh that was raised at this lucid report restored good humor in
the company.

A vehicle called for Mr. and Mrs. Kean at a quarter before ten to take
them down into the village, and it was not long before every light was
out in Queen's Cottage but one in a small single room in an upper story.
Here, in front of the mirror over the dressing table, sat a black-eyed
girl in a red silk dressing gown.

"Judith," she said fiercely to her image in the glass, "can't you
remember that you are too poor to insult people any longer?"

Then she rolled up Mrs. Kean's note into a little ball and flung it
across the room with such force that it hit the other wall and bounded
back again to her feet, and she ground it under her heel. After this
exhibition of impotent rage, she put out her light and flung herself
into the bed, where she tossed about uneasily and exclaimed to herself:

"I won't be poor! I won't work. I hate this hideous little room and I
loathe Queen's Cottage. I wish I had never been born."

Nevertheless, Judith Blount did humble herself next day to accept Mrs.
Kean's invitation. At the dinner she was sullen and quiet, but she could
not hide her enjoyment of the melodrama later.

The one taste which she had in common with her brother Richard was an
affection for the theatre, no matter how crude the acting, nor how
hackneyed the play.

But the insulting letter that she had sent to Judy Kean widened the
breach between her and the Queen's girls, and no amount of effort on her
part after that could bridge it over.



CHAPTER XVI.

CHRISTMAS EVE PLOTS.


Molly was not sorry to spend Christmas in Wellington this year. Numbers
of invitations had come to her, but even Mary Stewart could not tempt
her away from Queen's Cottage.

"Otoyo and I shan't be lonesome," she said. "We have a lot of work to do
before the mid-year exams. and by the time you come back, Otoyo's
adverbs are going to modify verbs, adjectives and other adverbs. You'll
see," she assured her friends cheerfully.

And when the last train-load pulled out of Wellington, and she trudged
back along the deserted avenue, there was a strange gladness in her
heart.

"I'm not homesick and I'm not lonesome," she said to herself. "I'm just
happy. Except for Otoyo's lessons, I'm going to give myself a holiday.
I'm going to read--poetry--lots of it, all I want, and to sit in the
library and think. I'm going to take long walks alone. It will be like
seeing the last of a dear friend, because Wellington will not be
Wellington to me when I am installed at O'Reilly's."

Hardly half a dozen girls remained at college that Christmas, and Molly
was glad that she knew them only by sight. She was almost glad that the
doctor and Mrs. McLean had taken Andy south. She could not explain this
unusual lack of sociability on her part, but she did not want to be
asked anywhere. It was a pleasure to sit with Otoyo at one end of the
long table in Queen's dining room, and talk about the good times they
had been having. As for the future, Molly hung a thick veil between
these quiet days and the days to come. Through it dimly she could see
the bare little room at O'Reilly's, sometimes, but whenever this vision
rose in her mind, she resolutely began to think of something else.

It would be time enough to look it in the face at the end of the
semester, when she must break the news to Nance and Judy and pack her
things for the move.

Most of the girls had left on Saturday, and it seemed to Molly that
Sunday was the quietest day of her whole life. Scarcely a dozen persons
appeared at the Chapel for Vespers and the responses had to be spoken,
the choir having departed for the holidays. Monday was Christmas Eve,
and on that morning Mrs. Murphy, kind, good-natured soul that she was,
carried Molly's breakfast to her room with a pile of letters from home.
Molly read them while she drank her coffee, and saw plainly through
their thinly veiled attempts at cheerfulness. It was evident that her
family's fortunes were at a low ebb. Her mother was glad that Miss
Walker had arranged for her to stay at college and she hoped Molly would
be happy in her new quarters.

Molly finished her dressing.

"If I could only _do_ something," she said to herself fiercely as she
pinned on the blue tam, buttoned up her sweater and started out for a
walk. Otoyo, that model of industry, was deep in her lessons as Molly
passed her door.

"I'll be back for lunch, Otoyo," she called as she hurried downstairs.

She had no sooner left the house than Queen's Cottage became the scene
of the most surprising activities. Little Otoyo leaped to her feet as if
she had unexpectedly sat on a hornet's nest and trotted downstairs as
fast as her diminutive legs could carry her.

"Mrs. Murphee, I am readee," she called.

There was no telling what plot they were hatching, these two souls from
nations as widely different as night from day. Boxes were pulled from
mysterious closets. Mrs. Murphy and one of the maids emerged from the
cellar with their arms full of greens and, stranger still, the dignified
Professor of English Literature actually made his appearance at the
kitchen door with a big market basket on one arm and--but what the
Professor carried under the other arm had been carefully concealed with
wrapping paper. These things he deposited with Mrs. Murphy.

"It's a pleasant sight, surely, to see you this Christmas Eve marnin',
Professor," exclaimed the Irish woman. "You're as ruddy as a holly
berry, sir, and no mistake."

"Well, Mrs. Murphy, I'm a Christmas Green, you know," answered the
Professor, and Mrs. Murphy laughed like a child over the little joke.

"As for the young Japanese lady, she is that busy, sir. You would niver
expect a haythen born to take on so about the birthday of our blessed
Lord. But she's half a Catholic already, sir, and she's bought a holy
candle to burn to-night."

"You're a good woman, Mrs. Murphy," said the Professor, standing beside
the well-laden kitchen table, "and whatever she learns from you will do
her good, too. She's a long way from home and I have no doubt she'll be
very thankful for a little mothering, poor child."

"Indade, and she's as cheerful as the day is long, sir. And so is the
other young lady, and she's used to a deal of rejicin' in her family,
too. I can tell by the way she loves the entertainin'. Her company
niver goes away hungry and thirsty, sir. It's tea and cake always and
more besides. 'Have you a little spare room in your oven so that I can
bake some muffins for some friends this mornin', Mrs. Murphy?' she'll
say of a Sunday. She's that hospitable and kind, sir. There's nobody
like her in Queen's. I'd be sorry ever to lose her."

"Should you call her hair red, Mrs. Murphy?" asked the Professor
irrelevantly.

"It's more red than anything else, sir, especially when the weather's
damp."

"And what color should you say her eyes were, Mrs. Murphy?"

"An' you've not seen her eyes, surely, sir, if you can be askin' me that
question. They're as blue--as blue, sir, like the skies in summer."

The Professor blinked his own brown eyes very thoughtfully.

"Well, good day, Mrs. Murphy, I must be off. Do you think you and Miss
Sen together can manage things?"

"We can, surely," said Mrs. Murphy. "She's as neat and quick a little
body as I've seen this side the Atlantic."

"My sister gets here at noon. Good day," and the Professor was off,
around the house, and across the campus, before Mrs. Murphy could take
breath to continue her conversation.

In the meantime, Molly was hastening through the pine woods to a grove
where she had once seen some holly bushes. In the pocket of her sweater
were a pair of scissors and a penknife.

"We must have a little holiday decoration, Otoyo and I," she said to
herself. "And it's lots nicer to gather it than buy it at the grocery
store. I suppose my box from home will reach here to-night. I'll ask Mr.
and Mrs. Murphy up to-morrow and give a party. There'll be turkey in it,
of course, and plum cake and blackberry cordial--it won't be such a bad
Christmas. Mr. and Mrs. Murphy are dears--I must do up their presents
this afternoon. I hope Otoyo will like the little book. She'll be
interested to know that Professor Green wrote it."

As she hurried along, breathing in the frosty air, like Pilgrim she
spied a figure a great way off coming toward her.

"Another left-over," she thought and went on her way, her steps keeping
time to a poem she was repeating out loud:

    "'St. Agnes' Eve--ah, bitter chill it was!
        The owl for all his feathers was a-cold;
      The hare limp'd trembling through the frozen grass
        And silent was the flock in woolly fold----'"

Molly had just repeated the last line over, too absorbed to notice the
advancing figure through the pine trees, except sub-consciously to see
that it was a girl.

"Ah, here's the holly," she exclaimed.

"'Numb were the beadsman's fingers----'"

She knelt on the frozen ground and began cutting off branches with the
penknife.

"I suppose you are rather surprised to see me, aren't you?"

Molly looked up. It was Judith Blount.

"Why, where did you come from, Judith?" she asked. "Didn't you go up to
New York Friday, after all?"

"I was supposed to, but I didn't. I am staying down in the village at
the Inn. I may go this afternoon. I haven't decided yet. To tell the
truth, I am not very anxious to see my family. Papa--isn't at home and
Richard and mamma are rather gloomy company. I think I'd rather spend
Christmas almost anywhere than with them, this year."

"But your mother, Judith," exclaimed Molly, shocked at Judith's lack of
feeling, "doesn't she need you now more than ever?"

"Why?" demanded Judith suspiciously. "What do you know of my affairs?"

"I happen to know a great deal," answered Molly, "since they have a good
deal to do with my own affairs."

"Why, what do you mean?"

"Now, Judith," went on Molly, "this is Christmas and we won't quarrel
about our misfortunes. Whatever mine are, it's not your fault. I'm
gathering some holly to decorate for Otoyo and me. Won't you help me?"

"No, thanks," answered the other coldly. "I don't feel much like
Christmas this year," she burst out, after a pause. "I'm seeing my last
of college now, unless I choose to stay under certain conditions--and I
won't--I won't," she repeated, stamping her foot fiercely on the frozen
earth, which gave out a rhythmic sound under the blow. "Queen's is bad
enough, but if I am to descend to a room over the post-office after this
semester, I'd--I'd rather die!" she added furiously.

"We're in the same box," thought Molly. "I can appreciate how she feels,
poor soul. I was just about as bad myself at first."

"Do you blame me?" went on the unhappy Judith. "Through no fault of mine
I've had troubles heaped on me all winter--first one and then another. I
have had to suffer for another person's sins; to be crushed into a
nobody; taken from my rightful place and shoved off first into one
miserable little hole and then another. I tell you I don't think it's
fair--it's unkind--it's cruel!"

Molly was not accustomed to hear people pity themselves. She had been
brought up to regard it as an evidence of cowardice and low breeding.

"I've just about made up my mind," continued Judith, "to chuck the whole
thing and go on the stage. I can sing and dance, and I believe I could
get into almost any chorus. Richard, of course, wouldn't hear of my
taking part in his new opera and he could arrange it just as easily as
not, but he doesn't approve and neither does mamma. But it would be less
humiliating than this." She pointed to Wellington.

"But Judith, it would be a great deal more humiliating," ejaculated
Molly. "You would be fussed with and scolded, and you'd hear horrid
language, and live in wretched hotels and boarding houses a great deal
worse than the rooms over the post-office!"

It was very little Molly knew about chorus girl life, but that little
she now turned to good account.

"You would have to travel a lot on smoky, uncomfortable trains and stay
up late at night, whether you wanted to or not. You wouldn't be treated
like a lady," she added innocently, "and you'd have to cover your face
with grease and paint every night."

"I don't care," answered Judith. "Anything would be better than being
banished from Wellington and living in a room next to that talkative
little southern girl who does laundry work."

"Judith," exclaimed Molly, "I'm being banished from Wellington, too.
I've taken a room at O'Reilly's. I've been through all the misery you're
going through, and I know what you are suffering. I was almost at the
point of going home once. But Judith, don't you see that it's rather
cowardly to enjoy prosperity and the good things that come in time of
peace, and then run away when the real fight begins? And it wouldn't do
any good, either. It would only make other people suffer and we'd be
much worse off ourselves. Don't you think Judith Blount, B. A., would
be a more important person than Judith Blount, Chorus Girl?"

Judith began picking the leaves off a piece of holly. Almost everything
she did was destructive.

"I suppose you're right," she said at last. "Mamma and Richard would
have a fit and the chorus girl rôle wouldn't suit me, either. I'm too
high-tempered and I can't stand criticism. But you're going to
O'Reilly's? That puts a new face on it. I'll change to O'Reilly's, too."

Molly groaned inwardly. She would almost rather live next to a talking
machine than a firebrand.

"They aren't such bad rooms," she said quietly. "When we get our things
in, they'll be quite nice."

"And now, I'll hurry on," continued Judith, utterly absorbed in her own
affairs. "I think I will take the train to New York this afternoon. I
suppose it would be rather cowardly to leave mamma and Richard alone,
this Christmas, especially. Good-by." She held out her hand. "What are
your plans? Are you going to do anything tonight to celebrate?"

"No," answered Molly, shaking Judith's hand with as much cordiality as
she could muster. "Just go to bed."

"I thought perhaps you had formed some scheme of entertainment with my
cousins."

"You mean the Greens? I didn't know they were here."

"I don't know that they are here, either. They have been careful to keep
their plans from me."

Molly ignored this implication.

"I hope you'll enjoy your Christmas, Judith," she said. "Perhaps
something will turn up."

"Something will have to turn up after next year," exclaimed Judith, "for
I have made up my mind to one thing. I shall never work for a living."

And she strode off through the pine woods with her chin in the air, as
if she were defying all the powers in heaven to make her change this
resolution.

Molly shivered as she knelt to clip the holly. She seemed to see a
picture of a tiny little Judith standing in the middle of a vast,
endless plain raging and shaking her fists at--what? The empty air. She
sighed.

"I don't suppose I could ever make her understand that she'd be lots
happier if she'd just let go and stop thinking that God has a grudge
against her."



CHAPTER XVII.

A CHRISTMAS SURPRISE.


At six o'clock that evening a mouse's tail brushed Molly's door.

"Come in, little one," called Molly, recognizing Otoyo's tap. "My, how
dressed up you are!" she cried as the little Japanese appeared in the
doorway blushing and hesitating.

"You like it? This is real American young lady's toilet. It came from a
greatly big store in New York."

Molly felt a real regret sometimes in correcting Otoyo's funny English.
Was not the Brown family careful for many years to call bears "b'ars"
just because the youngest brother said it when he was a little child?

"But why did you wear your pink cashmere this evening, dear?" she
asked.

"Ah, but this is a holidee. In Japan we wear always best on holidee."

"Then I must dress up, too, I suppose," remarked Molly, sighing, "and I
had thought to let myself off easy to-night, Otoyo. But I couldn't
appear before Mrs. Murphy in this old garment and you so resplendent.
What shall I wear, chicken?" she asked, pinching Otoyo's cheek.

"The dress of sky blue."

"What, my last year's best?" laughed Molly. "My lady, you ask too much.
I must preserve that for year after next best. But, seeing that you are
doing honor to this happy occasion, Miss Sen, I'll wear it to please
you."

She soon attired herself in the blue crêpe de chine over which she and
Nance had labored so industriously the winter before.

The two girls strolled downstairs together and at the first landing
Molly began sniffing the air.

    "'If my ole nose don't tell no lies,
      It 'pears like I smells custard pies,'"

she remarked smiling.

"It's meence," said Otoyo.

Molly squeezed the little Japanese's plump waist.

"Yes, I know it's 'meence,'" she said, "but custard pies stand for mince
and turkey and baked macaroni and all sorts of good things. We'll soon
find out what Mrs. Murphy's been up to."

Pushing open the dining room door, she gave a start of surprise. The
room was deserted and almost dark, and the long table was not even set
for two.

"Why, we must have come down too soon, Otoyo. You little monkey, you led
me to believe it was quite late."

Otoyo smiled and winked both eyes rapidly several times.

"I think Mrs. Murphee is a very week-ed ladee," she said slowly. "She
run away from thees house and leave us all alone. We shall have no
deener? Ah, that will be very sadlee."

They retreated from the dismal, deserted dining room into the hall.
Immediately a door at the far end was thrown open and a flood of light
poured from Mrs. Markham's sitting room. Then Mrs. Murphy's ample figure
blocked the doorway, and in her rich Irish brogue she called:

"You poor little lost lambs, is it for me you're lookin', then? Here I
am and here's your supper waitin' for you."

Mrs. Markham was away for the holidays.

"All right, Mrs. Murphy," called Molly cheerfully. Taking Otoyo's hand,
she led her down the hall. "Why, little one, I don't believe you are
well," she exclaimed. "Your hands are cold and you are trembling."

The truth is, Miss Sen was almost hysterical with suppressed excitement.

"No, no, no," she replied. "I am feeling quite, quitely well."

Grasping Molly's hand more firmly, she began running as if the strain
were too great to be endured longer.

All this time Molly had not the faintest suspicion of the surprises
awaiting her in Mrs. Markham's sitting room. Imagine her amazement when
she found herself confronting Miss Grace Green, her two brothers and
Lawrence Upton in that cozy apartment! In the center was a round table
set for six, and in the center of the round table was the most adorable
miniature Christmas tree decorated with tiny ornaments and little
candles, their diminutive points of light blinking cheerfully. Four tall
silver candlesticks with red shades flanked the Christmas tree at each
side; a wood fire crackled in the open fireplace and everywhere were
bunches and garlands of holly.

Molly was quite speechless at first and she came very near crying. But
she choked back the lump which would rise in her throat and smiled
bravely at the company.

"I hope you are pleased with the surprise, dear," said Miss Grace Green,
kissing her. "It seemed to Edwin and me that six homeless people should
unite in making a Christmas for themselves. Lawrence is like you. He
lives too far away for Christmas at home, and I am at the mercies of a
boarding house. So, Mrs. Murphy has agreed to be a mother to all of us
this Christmas and cheer us up."

"Shure, and I'd like to be the mother of such a foine family," said Mrs.
Murphy. "Me old man wouldn't mind the responsibility, either, I'm
thinkin'."

They all laughed and Molly found herself shaking hands with Professor
Green and Dodo and Lawrence Upton; kissing Miss Green again; rapturously
admiring the exquisite little tree and rushing from one holly decoration
to another, to the joy of Otoyo, who had arranged the greens with her
own hands.

Surely such a happy Christmas party had never taken place before at old
brown Queen's. Mrs. Murphy herself waited on the table and joined in the
conversation whenever she chose, and once Mr. Murphy, baggage master at
Wellington station, popped his head in at the door and smiling broadly,
remarked:

"Shure, 'tis a happy party ye're after makin' the night; brothers and
sisters; swatehearts and frinds--all gathered togither around the same
board. It'll be a merry evenin' for ye, young ladies and gintlemin, and
it's wishin' ye well I am with all me heart."

"Thank you, Mr. Murphy," said the Professor, "and we be wishin' the same
to you and many Christmasses to follow."

"Which one of us is your swateheart, Miss Sen?" asked Lawrence Upton
mischievously.

"I like better the 'meat-sweet' than the sweet-heart," answered Miss Sen
demurely. There was no doubt, however, that she knew the meaning of the
word "sweetheart."

How they all laughed at this and teased Lawrence.

"Just be _bonbon_ and you'll be a 'meat-sweet' Larry," said the
Professor, who appeared this evening to have laid aside all official
dignity and become as youthful as his brother Dodo.

After dinner the table was cleared, the fire built up, and the company
gathered around the hearth. They roasted chestnuts and told ghost
stories. Otoyo in the quaintest English told a blood-curdling Japanese
story which interested Professor Green so deeply that he took out a
little book and jotted down notes, and questioned her regarding names
and places.

Molly knew a true story of a haunted house in Kentucky, fallen into
ruins because no one had dared live in it for years.

Then Mrs. Murphy brought in the lamps and Professor Green drew up at the
table and read aloud Dickens's "Christmas Carol." Molly's mother had
read to her children the immortal story of "Tiny Tim" ever since they
could remember on Christmas day, and it gave Molly much secret pleasure
to know that these dear kind friends had kept up the same practice.
After that they fetched down Judy's guitar and, with Molly accompanying,
they sang some of the good old songs that people think they have
forgotten until they hear the thrum of the guitar and someone starts the
singing.

At last the tower clock boomed midnight, and as the echo of the final
stroke vibrated in the room, the door opened and Santa Claus stood on
the threshold.

"Shure, an' I'm just on the nick of time," he said with a good Irish
accent, as he unstrapped his pack and proceeded to distribute packages
done up in white tissue paper tied with red ribbons.

There were presents for everyone with no names attached, but Molly
suspected Professor Green of being the giver of the pretty things. Hers
was a volume of Rossetti's poems bound in dark blue leather. There was a
pretty volume of Tennyson's poems for Otoyo; and funny gifts for
everybody, with delightful jingles attached which the Professor read
very gravely. Otoyo almost had hysterics over her toy, which was simply
a small, imitation book shelf on which was a row of the works of Emerson
and Carlyle, filled with "meat-sweets."

Only one thing happened to mar that evening's pleasure, and this was the
fault of the little Japanese herself, to her undying mortification and
sorrow. When the party was at its very height and they had joined hands
and were circling around Santa Claus, who was singing "The Wearing of
the Green," Otoyo unexpectedly broke from the circle and with a funny,
squeaky little scream pointed wildly at the window.

"Why, child, what frightened you?" asked Miss Grace Green, taking the
girl's hand and looking into her white, scared face.

But Otoyo refused to explain and would only say over and over:

"I ask pardon. I feel so sorrowfully to make this beeg disturbance. Will
you forgive Otoyo?"

"Of course we forgive you, dear. And won't you tell us what you saw?"

"No, no, no. It was notheeng."

"We ought to be going, at any rate," said the Professor. "Miss Sen isn't
accustomed to celebrations like this when old people turn into children
and children turn into infants."

"Am I an infant?" asked Molly, "or a child?"

"I am afraid you still belong to the infant class, Miss Brown," replied
the Professor regretfully.

They attributed Otoyo's fright to nervousness caused from
over-excitement, and a few minutes later the party broke up.

It was one o'clock when the two girls finally climbed upstairs to the
lonely silent third floor. Molly escorted Otoyo to her little room and
turned on the light.

"Now, little one," she said, putting her hands on the Japanese girl's
shoulders and searching her face, "what was it you saw at the window?"

Otoyo closed the door carefully and, tipping back to Molly's side,
whispered:

"The greatly beeg black eyes of Mees Blount look in from the window
outside. She was very angree. Oh, so angree! She look like an eevil
spirit."

"Then she didn't go to New York, after all! But how silly not to have
joined us. What a jealous, strange girl she is!"

Molly could not know, however, with what care and secrecy the Greens had
guarded their Christmas plans from Judith, who had caught a glimpse of
the Professor and his sister at the general store that afternoon. It was
revealed to her that her cousins would much rather not spend Christmas
with her, and with a sullen, stubborn determination she changed her mind
about going to New York. There was a good deal of the savage in her
untamed nature, and that night, wandering unhappily about the college
grounds and hearing sounds of laughter and singing from Queen's, she
pressed her face against the window and the gay picture she saw inflamed
her mind with rage and bitterness. The poor girl did resemble an evil
spirit at that moment. There was hatred in her heart for every
merrymaker in the room, and if she had had a dynamite bomb she would
have thrown it into the midst of the company without a moment's
hesitation.

When Molly went to her own room after her talk with Otoyo, she found a
note on her dressing table which did not worry her in the least
considering she was quite innocent of the charge.

    "You told me a falsehood this morning with all your preaching.
    I'd rather live over the post-office next to an incessant talker
    who does laundry work than stay in the same house with a person
    as deceitful and untruthful as you. J. B."

"I'm sorry for the poor soul," thought Molly, as she contemplated her
own happy image in the glass. "She is like a traveller who deliberately
takes the hardest road and chooses all the most disagreeable places to
walk in. If she would just turn around and go the other way she would
find it so much more agreeable for herself and all concerned."

Nevertheless, Molly felt a secret relief that Judith had chosen to stay
over the post-office.

As for the incorrigible Judith, she did leave for New York early next
morning and spent the rest of the holidays with her mother and brother.

Molly saw a great deal of the Greens for the next few days. They had tea
together and long walks, and once the Professor read aloud to his sister
and the little girl from Kentucky in the privacy of his own study. Miss
Green and her two brothers left Wellington on New Year's Eve to visit
some cousins in the next county, and still Molly was not lonely, for
Lawrence Upton put in a great deal of time teaching her to skate and
showing Otoyo and her the country around Wellington.



CHAPTER XVIII.

BREAKING THE NEWS.


Mrs. Markham had received due notice that Molly Brown of Kentucky would
be obliged to give up her half of the big room on the third floor at
Queen's. The matron was very sorry. Miss Blount also was moving to other
quarters, she said; but she was too accustomed to the transitory tenants
of Queen's to feel any real grief over sudden departures.

"It only remains to break the news to the others," thought Molly, but
she mercifully determined to wait until after the mid-year examinations.
She was very modest regarding her popularity, but she was pretty sure
that Judy's highly emotional temperament might work itself into a fever
from such a shock. Remembering her last year's experience at mid-years,
Molly guarded her secret carefully until after the great crisis.

At last, however, the fateful moment came. All the Queen's circle was
gathered in that center of hospitality in which Molly had spent so many
happy months. The walls never looked so serenely blue as on that bright
Sunday morning in January, nor the Japanese scroll more alluring and
ornamental. A ray of sunlight filtering through the white dimity
curtains cast a checkered shadow on the antique rug. Even the
imperfections of the old room were dear to Molly's heart now that she
must leave them forever; the spot in the ceiling where the roof had
leaked; the worn place in the carpet where they had sat around the
register, and the mischievous chair with the "game leg" which
precipitated people to the floor unexpectedly.

Everybody was in a good humor.

"There are no shipwrecks on the strand this year," Margaret Wakefield
was saying. "Everybody's safe in harbor, glory be."

"Even me," put in Jessie meekly. "I never thought I'd pull through in
that awful chemistry exam., and I was morally certain I'd flunk in
math., too. I'm so afraid of Miss Bowles that my hair stands on end
whenever she speaks to me."

"She is rather formidable," said Edith Williams. "Why is it that Higher
Mathematics seems to freeze a body's soul and turn one into an early
Puritan?"

"It simply trains the mind to be exact," said Margaret, who always
defended the study of mathematics in these discussions. "And exactness
means sticking to facts, and that's an excellent quality in a woman."

"Meaning to say," broke in Katherine Williams, "that all un-mathematical
minds are untruthful----"

"Nothing of the sort," cried Margaret hotly. "I never made any such
statement. Did I, girls? I said----"

There was a bumping, tumbling noise in the hall. Judy, the ever-curious,
opened the door.

"The trunks are here, Miss," called Mr. Murphy, "and sorry we are to
lose you, the old woman and I."

"Thank you, Mr. Murphy," answered Molly.

"Well, for the love of Mike," cried Judy, turning around and facing
Molly. "What are you talking about?"

"I'm not talking about anything," answered Molly, trying to keep her
voice steady.

"Did you flunk in any of the exams., Molly Brown?" asked Edith in a
whisper.

"No," whispered Molly in reply. It was going to be even worse than she
had pictured to herself. "No," she repeated. A pulse throbbed in her
throat and made her voice sound all tremolo like a beginner's in
singing. "I waited to tell you until after mid-years. I'm not going very
far away--only to O'Reilly's."

Nance, who had been sitting on the floor with her head against Molly's
knee, began softly to weep. It was certainly one of the most desolating
experiences of Molly's life.

"O'Reilly's?" they cried in one loud protesting shriek.

"Yes, you see, we--we've lost some money and I have to move," began
Molly apologetically. "We can be friends just the same, only I won't see
quite as much of you--it--it will be harder on me than on you----"

It would have been gratifying if it had not been so sad, this circle of
tear-stained faces and every tear shed on her account.

"We simply can't do without you, Molly," cried pretty, affectionate
Jessie Lynch. "You belong to the 'body corporate' of Queen's, as
Margaret calls it, to such an extent that if you leave us, we'll--well,
we'll just fall to pieces, that's all."

It remained for Judy Kean, however, that creature of impulse and
emotion, to prove the depths of her affection. When she rushed blindly
from the room, her friends had judged that she wished to be alone. Molly
had once been a witness to the awful struggle of Judy in tears and she
knew that weeping was not a surface emotion with her.

For some time, Molly went on quietly explaining and talking, answering
their questions and assuring them that there would be many meetings at
O'Reilly's of Queen's girls.

"I expect you'll have to move into Judith Blount's singleton, Nance,"
she continued, patting her friend's cheek. "That is, unless you can
arrange to get someone to share this one with you."

"Don't, don't," sobbed Nance. "I can't bear it."

Again there was a noise outside of trunks being carried upstairs and
dumped down in the hall.

"There go poor Judith's trunks," observed Molly. "It will be harder on
her than on me because she takes it so hard. She's----"

Molly broke off and opened the door. Judy's voice was heard outside
giving directions.

"Just pull them inside for me, will you, Mr. Murphy? I know they fill up
the room, but I like to pack all at once. Will you see about the room
for me at Mrs. O'Reilly's as you go down to the station? I'll notify the
registrar and Mrs. Markham. And Mr. Murphy, get a room next to Miss
Brown's, if possible. I don't care whether it's little or big."

Nance pushed Molly aside and rushed into the hall.

"Why hadn't I thought of that?" she cried. "Mr. Murphy, I want a room at
O'Reilly's. Will you engage one for me as near Miss Brown's as you can,
and before you go bring up my trunks, please?"

"Now, may the saints defind us," cried the distracted Mr. Murphy. "It
looks as if the whole of Queen's was movin' down to the village. You're
a foine lot of young ladies, Miss, and loyalty ain't so usual a trait in
a woman, either."

"But Nance, but Judy!" protested Molly. "I can't--you mustn't----"

"Don't say another word," put in Judy as if she were scolding a bad
child. "Nance and I would rather live at O'Reilly's with you than at
Queen's without you, that's all. We mean no reflection on the others,
but I suppose you all understand. Edith and Katherine wouldn't be
separated, and Jessie and Margaret wouldn't. Well, it's the same with
us."

"You'll be sorry," cried Molly. "Oh, Judy, I know you'll regret it the
very first day. It will be very different from Queen's. We'll have to
get our own breakfasts, and take meals at the place next door, and the
rooms are plain with ugly wall paper, and there isn't any white
woodwork, and it's a big empty old place. It used to be a small hotel,
you know, and Mrs. O'Reilly is trying to sell it. The only
recommendation it has, is that it's very cheap."

"Why didn't you go over to the post-office, Molly?" asked Margaret.

"They are nicer rooms," admitted Molly, "but----"

"Judith Blount is going there," put in Judy.

"That wasn't the only reason. I really had arranged about O'Reilly's
before I knew Judith Blount was going to leave here."

The girls looked puzzled.

"I know," said Edith. "There's a young person with a soft cooing voice
at the post-office who talks a mile a minute."

"She's a very nice girl," broke in Molly, "and works so hard. I really
like her ever so much. She's very clever, but I have a sort of
bewildered feeling when I am with her."

"I know," said Edith. "It's like standing on the banks of a rushing
river. There's no way to stop it and there's no way to get across. You
might as well retreat to O'Reilly's in good order."

"O'Reilly's it is," cried Judy with the gallant air of one about to go
forth in search of adventure.

It was in vain that Molly protested. Her friends had made up their minds
and nothing could swerve them. By good luck, the checks in payment for
board and lodging at Queen's for the new quarter had not arrived, and
the two girls were free to move if they chose.

Together the three friends, more closely united than ever by the
sacrifice of two of them, walked down into the village that afternoon to
have a look at O'Reilly's, and they were obliged to confess that they
were not impressed with its possibilities as a home. But it was a dark,
cold day--when even cheerful, pretty rooms would not have looked their
best.

"These two back rooms will be rather nice when the spring comes,"
observed Nance, with a forced gaiety. "They look over the garden, you
see. Perhaps Mrs. O'Reilly will let us plant some seeds in March."

"It won't be nice," Molly cried. "It will be miserable. I've known it
all along myself, but I wouldn't admit it until now. Girls, I implore
you to stay at Queen's. You never will be happy here, and I shall be
twice as unhappy."

"Now, don't say another word, Molly Brown," said Judy. "We're going to
follow you if it's to the Inferno."

"Think how you'll miss the others."

"Think how we'd miss you."

"We'd better go back and pack our things, then," sighed Molly, feeling
very much like a culprit who had drawn her friends into mischief.

That night they packed their belongings, and not once by the blink of
an eyelash did Judy or Nance show what they felt about leaving Queen's
forever. At last with walls cleared of pictures, curtains neatly folded,
books piled into boxes and rugs rolled up, the three girls went to bed,
worn out with the day's labors and emotions.

In the night, Nance, shivering, crawled into Molly's bed and brought all
her covering with her. Under a double layer of comforts they snuggled
while the thermometer went down, down until it reached ten degrees below
zero.



CHAPTER XIX.

HOW O'REILLY'S BECAME QUEEN'S.


Molly often looked back on that famous bitter Monday as the most
exciting day of her entire life. Surprises began in the morning when
they learned for a fact that it was ten degrees below zero. Barometers
in a house always make the weather seem ten times worse. In the night
the water pipes had burst and flooded the kitchen floor, which by
morning was covered with a layer of ice. On this, the unfortunate Mrs.
Murphy, entering unawares, slipped and sprained her ankle. The gas was
frozen, and neither the gas nor the coal range could be used that
eventful morning. The girls prepared their own breakfasts on chafing
dishes, and wrapped in blankets they shivered over the registers, up
which rose a thin stream of heat that made but a feeble impression on
the freezing atmosphere.

"We do look something like a mass meeting of Siberian exiles," observed
Judy grimly, looking about her in Chapel a little later.

Miss Walker herself wore a long fur coat and a pair of arctic shoes and
in the assembled company of students there appeared every variety of
winter covering known to the civilized world, apparently: ulsters, golf
capes, fur coats, sweaters, steamer rugs and shawls.

Molly was numb with cold; fur coats were the only garments warm enough
that day, and a blue sweater under a gray cloth jacket was as nothing
against the frigid atmosphere.

"Bed's the only comfortable place to be in," she whispered to Judy, "and
here we've got classes till twelve thirty and moving in the afternoon!
The trunks are going this morning. Oh, heavens, how I do dread it!"

"At least O'Reilly's couldn't be any colder than Queen's is at present,"
replied Judy, "and there's a grate in the room I am to have. We'll have
a big coal fire and cheer things up considerably."

Everything was done on the run that day. Groups of girls could be seen
tearing from one building to another. They dashed through corridors like
wild ponies and rushed up and down stairs as if the foul fiends were
chasing them.

The weather was like a famous invalid rapidly sinking. They frequently
took his temperature and cried to one another:

"It's gone down two degrees."

"The bulletin says it will be fifteen by night."

"Oh," groaned Molly, thinking of her friends at that dismal O'Reilly's.

Having half an hour to spare between classes, she went to the library
where she met Nance.

"There are some letters for you, Molly. They came by the late mail. I
saw them in the hall," Nance informed her.

But Molly was not deeply interested in letters that morning.

"Never mind mail," she said. "I can only think of two things. How cold I
am this minute, and how uncomfortable you and Judy are going to be for
my sake."

"Don't think about it, Molly, dear," said Nance. "We'll soon get
adjusted at O'Reilly's with you, and we never would at Queen's without
you."

Molly could not find her mail when she returned to Queen's for lunch,
which had been prepared with much difficulty on several chafing dishes
and a small charcoal brazier by Mrs. Markham and the maid. Nobody seemed
to know anything about letters in the upset and half-frozen household,
until it was finally discovered that Mr. Murphy had taken Molly's mail
down to O'Reilly's when he had moved the trunks.

Having disposed of indifferently warmed canned soup and creamed boned
chicken that was chilled to its heart, the three friends went down to
the village. They looked at the rooms; they stood gazing pensively at
their trunks; it seemed too cold to make the physical effort to unpack
their clothes. Again the fugitive letters had escaped Molly. Mr. Murphy,
finding she was not to come down until afternoon had kept them in his
pocket and was at that moment at the station awaiting the three fifteen
train.

"It's too cold to follow him," said Molly, never dreaming that Mr.
Murphy was carrying about with him a letter which was to change the
whole tenor of her life. "I'm so homesick," she exclaimed, "let's go
back to Queen's for awhile."

And back they hastened. Somehow they didn't know what to do with
themselves in their new quarters. It seemed unnatural to sit down and
chat in those strange rooms.

As they neared the avenue they noticed groups of girls ahead of them,
all running. The three friends began to run, too, beating their hands
together to stir up the circulation. A bell was ringing violently. Its
clang in the frosty air sounded harsh and unnatural.

"That's the fire bell," cried Judy.

They dashed into the avenue. The campus was alive with students all
running in the same direction.

"It's Queen's," shrieked Nance. "Queen's is burning!"

Smoke was pouring from every window in the old brown house. The lawn in
front was filled with a jumbled mass of furniture and clothes. Margaret
and Jessie appeared on the porch dragging a great bundle of their
belongings tied up in a bedspread. Otoyo rushed from the house, her arms
filled with things. Mrs. Murphy, seated in a big chair on the campus,
was rocking back and forth and moaning:

"Queen's is gone. Nothing can save her. The pipes is froze."

Out of the front door Edith Williams now emerged, quite calmly, with an
armload of books.

"Edith," cried Katherine, who had run at full speed all the way from the
Quadrangle, "why didn't you bring our clothes?"

For an answer her sister pointed at a pile of things on the ground.

"I made two trips," she replied.

All this the girls heard as in a dream as they stood in a shivering row
on the campus. Old brown Queen's was about to be reduced to ashes and
cinders! No need to summon the fire brigade or call in the volunteer
fire department from the village, although this organization presently
came dashing up with a small engine. Flames were already licking their
way hungrily along the lower story of the house, and the slight stream
of water from the engine hose only seemed to rouse them to greater fury.

"I'm only thankful it didn't happen at night," they heard Miss Walker
cry as she pushed her way through the throng of girls. "And you, my dear
child," she continued, laying a hand on Molly's shoulder, "did you save
your things?"

Molly started from her lethargy. She was so cold and unhappy, she had
forgotten all about her belongings.

"Oh, yes, Miss Walker," she answered. "You see, we moved this morning.
Wasn't it fortunate?"

"We?" repeated Miss Walker.

"Yes. My two friends, Miss Oldham and Miss Kean, moved, too. They--well,
they wouldn't stay at Queen's without me."

"Is it possible?" said the President. "And their trunks had gone down to
the village? Dear, dear, what a remarkably providential thing. And what
devoted friends you seem to make, Miss Brown," she added, patting
Molly's hand and then turning away to speak to Professor Green, who had
hurried up.

"Is everybody safe?" he asked breathlessly.

"Yes, yes, Professor, everybody's safe and everything has been done that
could be done. I am afraid some of the girls have lost a good many
things, but you will be glad to know that three of them had only this
morning sent their trunks to rooms in the village--Miss Brown and her
two friends."

"Miss Brown moving to the village?"

Molly looked up and caught the Professor's glance turned searchingly on
her.

"I am going to live at O'Reilly's," she said.

"And you are safe and your things are safe?" he asked her, frowning so
sternly that she felt she must have displeased him somehow. "I'm glad,
very glad," he added, turning abruptly away. "Is there nothing I can do,
Miss Walker?"

For answer she pointed to the volunteers from the village who had leaped
away from the house. The crowd swerved back. There was a crackling
sound, a crash; a great wave of heat swept across the campus and the
front wall of Queen's fell in. They had one fleeting view of the
familiar rooms, and then a cloud of ashes and smoke choked the picture.
It was not long before only the rear wall of old brown Queen's was left
standing.

"Dust to dust and ashes to ashes," said Edith Williams, solemnly.

It did seem very much like a funeral to the crowd of Queen's girls who
stood in a shivering, loyal row to the end.

"So much for Queen's," said Margaret Wakefield. "She's dead and now
what's to be done?"

It was decided that the girls should go to O'Reilly's for the time
being, all other available quarters being about filled. If they
preferred the post-office they could stay there; but they preferred
O'Reilly's.

And thither, also, went Mrs. Markham and the Murphys and the maids from
Queen's. In a few short hours, it would seem, Queen's had been changed
to O'Reilly's, or O'Reilly's to Queen's. It turned out, too, that Mrs.
O'Reilly was nearly related to Mr. Murphy, and all things, therefore,
worked together in harmony.

O'Reilly's seemed a place of warmth and comfort to the half-frozen girls
who clustered around the big fire in Judy's room at five o'clock that
afternoon, scalding their tongues with hot tea and coffee while they
discussed their plans for the future.

"Mrs. Markham told _me_," announced Margaret, a recognized authority on
all subjects, political, domestic, financial and literary, "that it
would probably be arranged to make O'Reilly's into a college house for
the rest of the winter. She said they might even do over the rooms. It
would be a smaller household than Queen's, of course--only eight or
nine--but it would be rather cosy and--there would be no breaking up of
old ties. If this isn't approved," she continued, exactly as if she were
addressing a class meeting, "we shall have to scatter. There's another
apartment in the Quadrangle and there are a few singletons left in some
of the campus houses. Now, girls,"--her voice took on an oratorical
ring--"of course, I know that we are nearly fifteen minutes' walk by the
short cut from the college and that we may not be _in_ things as much;
but the best part of college we have here at O'Reilly's. And that's
ourselves. I move that we change O'Reilly's into Queen's and make the
best of it for the rest of the winter."

"Hurrah! I second the motion," cried Katherine Williams.

"All those in favor of this motion will please say 'aye'," said the
President.

"Aye," burst from the throats of the eight friends, Otoyo's shrill high
note sounding with the others.

"Hurrah for our President," cried Molly, dancing around the room in an
excess of happiness.

"_Unitus et concordia_," said Edith gravely.

"It's really Molly that's transformed O'Reilly's into Queen's,"
continued Margaret, who had a generous, big way of saying things when
she chose. "It's Molly who has kept us all together. With Molly and
Nance and Judy gone, Queen's would have been a different place."

"It would! It would!" they cried. "Three cheers for Molly Brown!"

    "'Here's to Molly Brown, drink her down!
      Here's to dear old Queen's, drink her down.'"

Through the din of singing and cheering, there came a loud knocking at
the door and a voice cried:

"Open in the name of the law!"

Then the door was thrust open and Sallie Marks marched in flourishing a
hot-water bag in one hand and a thermos bottle in the other.

"Well," she exclaimed, "you're the most cheerful lot of refugees I ever
saw. I came down expecting to find eight frozen corpses stretched on the
shining strand, and here you are singing hilarious songs and yelling
like a lot of Comanche Indians."

"What are you bringing us, Sallie?" demanded Judy.

"I'm bringing you myself," said Sallie. "I've arranged to come down
here. They shelved me with a lot of freshies at Martin's and I said I'd
rather be at O'Reilly's with the Old Guard. So Mr. Murphy brought me
down with two sheet-loads of my things and some beds from the hospital,
and here I am."

"Hurrah!" they cried again, joining hands and dancing in a circle around
Sallie.

    "'Here's to good old Sallie, drink her down,
      Drink her down, drink her down, drink her down!'"

After this wild outburst of joy over the return of another wanderer to
the fold, Sallie began to remove her outer wrappings.

"I feel like an Egyptian mummy," she remarked as she skinned off two
long coats and unwound several scarfs.

"You look like a pouter pigeon," said Judy, "what have you got stuffed
in there?"

"Mail," said Sallie, unbuttoning another jacket, "mail for Queen's. Mr.
Murphy gave it to me when he came to get my things. And, by the way,"
she added, "I saved my rocking chair and sat in it as I drove down to
the village. Wasn't it beautiful? I suppose I'll be lampooned now as
'Sallie, the emigrant.' But it was too cold to care much. I was only
thankful I had taken the precaution to fill the hot-water bag and the
thermos bottle before I started on the drive."



CHAPTER XX.

THE TURN OF THE WHEEL.


Sallie Marks had, indeed, received a royal welcome from her friends.
They were as glad to see her as if she had just returned from a long
voyage. Now they poked the fire and made fresh tea and petted and
caressed her until her pale, near-sighted eyes were quite watery and she
was obliged to wipe the moisture from her glasses.

"We'll make out the winter here, girls," she assured them. "It may take
a week to get the house in order, but we can put up with a little
discomfort to have O'Reilly's to ourselves. If they would only strip off
this bilious paper and lay a few mattings! The plumbing is better than
it was at Queen's, and the heating arrangements, too."

The room was really very comfortable what with the fire in the grate
and the heat pouring up the register.

"It was a defective flue that made old Queen's go under," observed
Katherine sadly, as if she were speaking of a dear friend who had lately
passed into another life. "I am afraid her heating apparatus was a
little second class."

"Speak no evil of the dead," admonished her sister Edith.

"_Requiescat in pace_," said Sallie in a solemn voice.

"_La reine est morte; vive la reine_," said Margaret.

"After all, we are really 'Queen's'" said Judy, "so let's be as happy as
we can. Where are those letters, Sallie?"

Sallie unbuttoned the last layer of sweater and drew out a pile of mail
which she distributed, calling the name of each girl.

"Molly Brown," she called, handing Molly a letter from Kentucky.

"Miss Sen, a letter from the Land of the Rising Sun. I hope it will rise
warmer there than it set here this evening. Miss Jessie Lynch, a letter
addressed in the handwriting of a male. Ahem! Miss Lynch, another letter
in the same handwriting of presumably the same male."

Much laughter among those not already absorbed in letters.

"Miss Margaret Wakefield, an official document from the capital of these
United States of America. Miss Julia S. Kean, a parental epistle which
no doubt contains other things. Miss Molly Brown, who appears to be
secretly purchasing a farm."

Sallie handed Molly a long envelope, while the others snatched their
letters and turned away. Only Nance had received no mail that day; yet,
more than any girl there, she enjoyed corresponding and sent off weekly
voluminous letters to her father, her only correspondent except Andy
McLean, who was not yet considered strong enough to write letters.

It was with something very near to envy that she watched the faces of
her friends as they waded through long family letters with an
occasional laugh or comment:

"It's been ten below at home."

"Father forgot to put in my check. He's getting very thoughtless."

"My wandering parents are going to Florida. They can't stand the cold in
New York."

"Here's a state of things," exclaimed Edith, "another book bill for
books that were burned. Isn't that the limit?"

"Yes, and you'll borrow from me again," said Katherine. "And I shall
refuse to lend you another cent. You are getting entirely too crazy
about buying books."

Nobody took any notice of this sisterly dialogue which went on
continuously and never had any real meaning, because in the end
Katherine always paid her sister's debts.

Nance's gaze shifted to Molly, who might have been turned into a graven
image, so still was she sitting. She had not opened the letter from
home, but the long envelope from the real estate company lay at her
feet. In one hand she held a typewritten letter and in the other a long
blue slip of paper which, beyond a doubt, was a check. Picking up the
envelope, Molly gave a covert glance around the absorbed circle and
slipped the check inside. Then she noticed Nance gazing at her
curiously. She smiled, and then began to laugh so joyously that
everybody stopped reading and regarded her almost anxiously. There was a
peculiar ring of excitement in her voice.

"Molly, hasn't something awfully nice happened to you?" asked Nance.

"Why, yes," she answered, "to tell the truth, there has."

"What is it? What is it?" cried the chorus of voices.

Molly hesitated and blushed, and laughed again.

"I don't think you would believe it if I were to tell you," she said.
"It's too absurd. I can hardly believe it myself, even after reading the
letter and seeing the--the----"

"The what, Molly?" demanded Judy, beside herself with curiosity.

Molly laughed again.

"I'm so happy," she cried. "It's made me warm all over. The temperature
has risen ten degrees."

"Molly Brown, will you explain yourself? Can't you see we are
palpitating to know what it is?" cried Judy.

"I've won a prize," exclaimed Molly. "I've won a prize. Can't you see
what it means to me? I needed the money and it came. A perfect windfall.
Oh, isn't this world a delightful place? I don't mind the cold weather
and O'Reilly's. I'm so happy. I prayed for rain and carried my umbrella.
Oh, I'm so happy, happy, happy!"

"Has the child gone daffy?" said Sallie Marks, while Judy seized the
envelope and drew out a check for two hundred dollars made out in the
name of "Mary C. W. Brown." Then she opened the letter and read aloud:

    "'Dear Madam:

    It gives us much pleasure to inform you that among several
    hundred contestants you have won the prize of $200, offered by
    this company for the best advertisement in prose or verse for
    one of our mountain chalets. Your poem will occupy the first
    page in an elaborate booklet now under way and we hope will
    attract many customers. We offer you our congratulations and
    good wishes for other literary successes and enclose the check
    herewith.
        Very cordially yours, etc., etc.'"

"Am I sleeping or waking?" cried Molly. "This, at the end of this awful
day! Isn't it wonderful?"

The reunited friends made so much noise over this triumph of their
favorite that Mrs. Markham, superintending the setting up of beds and
arranging of rooms with Mrs. O'Reilly, smilingly observed:

"Dear me, they don't seem to take their misfortune much to heart, do
they?"

"They're that glad to get in out of the cold, ma'am, and warm themselves
with some tea. It's thawed them out, I expect, the poor young things.
They was half froze when they come an hour ago."

"But where's the poem, Molly," cried Judy, when the racket had
subsided. "We must see the poem."

"It's locked in my trunk."

"Get it out, get it out," they ordered, and she had no peace until she
unlocked the trunk and, rummaging in her portfolio, found the original
manuscript of "The Chalet of the West Wind."

"I can't see why it won the prize," she said. "I hadn't even the shadow
of a hope when I sent it. It's not a bit like an ad."

"It was certainly what they wanted," said Sallie. "They didn't have to
give you the prize, seeing that they had several hundred to choose from.
But read it, because I'm in a fever of curiosity to hear it."

In the meantime, Judy had lit the gas, and taking Molly by the
shoulders, pushed her into a chair under the light.

"I'm most awfully embarrassed," announced Molly, "but here goes," and
she read the following verses:

    The Chalet of the West Wind.

    "Wind of the West, Wind of the West,
     Breathe on my little chalet.
     Blow over summer fields,
     Bring all their perfume yields,
     Lily and clover and hay.

    "Bring all the joys of spring,
     Soft-kissing zephyrs bring,
     Peace of the mountains and hills,
     Waken the columbine,
     Stir the sweet breath of pine,
     Hasten the late daffodils.

    "Gentle Wind from the Isles of the Blest,
     Breathe on my little chalet,
     Fill it with music and laughter and rest;
     Fill it with love and with dreams that are best;
     Breathe on it softly, sweet Wind of the West,
     Breathe on my little chalet."

There was certainly nothing very remarkable about the little song, and
yet it had caught the eye of the real estate men as having a certain
quality which would attract people to that sunny mountainside whereon
were perched the quaint Swiss chalets they desired to sell. There was a
subtle suggestion to the buyer that he might find rest and happiness in
this peaceful home. The piney air, the flowers and the sunshine had all
been poetically but quite truthfully described. With a picture of the
"Chalet of the West Wind" on the opposite page, people of discerning
tastes, looking for summer homes, would surely be attracted.

"How ever did you happen to write it, Molly?" they asked her after
re-reading the poem and admiring it with friendly loyalty. "Have you
ever been to the mountains?"

"No," she answered, "I actually never have. But something in me that
wasn't me wrote the verses. They just seemed to come, first the meter
and then, gradually, the lines. I can't explain it. I had some bad news
and was afraid I would have to leave college and then the poem came.
That was all. Two hundred dollars," she added, looking at the check.
"It seems too good to be true. What must I do with it?"

"Put it in the Wellington Bank to-morrow morning," answered Margaret
promptly.

Between them, Mrs. Markham and Mrs. O'Reilly prepared a very good dinner
for the girls that night, and instead of being a funeral feast it was
changed into a jolly banquet. The old Queen's dinner table was restored
and there was as much gay, humorous conversation as there ever had been
in the brown shingled house now reduced to a heap of ashes.

Paperhangers and painters did go into the new college house on the
following Monday morning and in less than ten days the dingy rooms were
transformed by white woodwork and light paper. If the Queen's girls felt
a little out of it at first, not being on the campus, they were too
proud to admit it, and nobody ever heard a complaint from them. They had
a great many visitors at O'Reilly's. Crowds of their friends came down
to drink tea or spend the evening. The President herself called one
morning and had a look at the place.

In the meantime Molly had called at Miss Walker's office and informed
her that she had come into a little money unexpectedly and, with the
money she was earning, she would be able to pay her own board at
O'Reilly's for the rest of the winter. It was only by chance that Miss
Walker learned how Molly had earned this sum of money.

"Think of the child's modesty in keeping the secret from me," she said
to Miss Pomeroy. "Have you seen the poem that won the prize, by the
way?"

"Why, yes," answered that critical individual. "It's a sweet little
thing and I suppose struck the exact note they wanted, but I assure you
it's nothing wonderful."



CHAPTER XXI.

IN THE GARDEN.


"Who would have thought this place could ever blossom like the rose,"
exclaimed Margaret Wakefield, settling comfortably in a long steamer
chair and looking about her with an expression of extreme contentment.

"It's the early summer that did it," remarked Judy Kean. "It came to
console us after that brutal winter."

"It's Mrs. O'Reilly's labors chiefly," put in Katherine Williams. "She
told me that this garden had been the comfort of her life."

"It's the comfort of mine," said Margaret lazily. "Watching you girls
there hoeing and raking and pulling up weeds reminds me of a scene from
the opera of 'The Juggler of Notre Dame,'--the monks in the cloister
working among their flowers."

Molly paused in her operation of the lawn mower.

"It is a peaceful occupation," she said. "It's the nicest thing that
ever happened to us, this garden, because it was such a surprise. I
never suspected it was anything but a desert until one day I looked down
and saw Mrs. O'Reilly digging up the earth around some little green
points sticking out of the ground, and then it only seemed a few days
before the points were daffodils and everything had burst into bloom at
once. This apple tree was like a bride's bouquet."

"That's stretching your imagination a bit," interrupted Judy, reclining
at full length on a steamer rug on the ground. "Think of the gigantic
bride who could carry an apple tree for a bouquet."

"Get up from there and go to work," cried Molly, poking her friend in
the side with her foot. "Here's company coming this afternoon, and you
at your ease on the ground!"

"I don't notice that Margaret W. is bestirring herself," answered Judy.

"A President never should work," answered Molly. "It's her office to
look on and direct."

Judy pulled herself lazily from the ground.

"I'll be official lemon squeezer, then," she said. "I will not weed; I
refuse to cut grass, or to pick up sticks with the Williamses. You look
like a pair of peasant fagot gatherers," she called to the two sisters
who were clearing away a small pile of brush gathered by the industrious
hands of Mrs. O'Reilly.

"And what do you think you are? A bloomin' aristocrat?" demanded Edith.

"If I am," answered Judy, "my noblesse has obleeged me to squeeze lemons
for the party. It's a lowly job, but I'd rather do it than pick up
sticks."

"Anything like work is lowly to you, Miss Judy," said Katherine.

Summer had really come on the heels of spring with such breathless haste
that before they knew it they were plunged into warm weather. And nobody
rejoiced more than Molly over the passing of the long cold winter. When
at last the sun's rays broke through the crust of the frost-bound earth
and wakened the sleeping things underneath, it had seemed to the young
girl that her cup of happiness was overflowing. Not even to Judy and
Nance could she explain how much she loved the spring. One day, seizing
a trowel from some tools on the porch, she rushed into the garden and
began digging in the flower beds.

"You don't mind, do you, Mrs. O'Reilly?" she apologized. "I'm so glad
spring is here at last that I've got to take it out in something besides
book-learning."

"I'm only too happy, Miss," said the widow. "Young ladies ain't often so
fond of the smell of the earth."

It was Molly who had introduced the cult of the garden to the other
girls, and it was she who had first induced Mrs. O'Reilly to resurrect
some garden seats from the cellar and a rustic table. Even as early as
the first of May they had tea under the apple trees, and as the days
grew warmer their friends found them reading and studying in the sunny
enclosure.

They had no idea of the charming picture they made grouped about in
their garden; nor did they dream that Mrs. O'Reilly had occasionally
allowed a visitor or two to peer at them through a crack in the dining
room shutters. Mrs. McLean and Professor Green were two such privileged
characters one afternoon when they called at O'Reilly's to leave notes
of acceptance to a tea to which they had been invited by the old Queen's
circle. The invitations in themselves were rather unusual. They were
little water-color sketches done by Judy and Otoyo on oblong cards. Each
sketch showed a bit of the garden, and the invitations stated that on
the afternoon of June second there would be tea in the Garden of
O'Reilly's.

"Where is this garden, Mrs. O'Reilly?" Mrs. McLean had demanded, and the
Irish woman, beckoning mysteriously, had shown them the scene through
the crack in the shutter.

"Why, bless the bairns," exclaimed Mrs. McLean, gazing through the
opening, while Professor Green impatiently awaited his turn. "They
might be a lot of wood nymphs disporting themselves under the trees."

Then the Professor had looked and had discovered Molly Brown, in her
usual blue linen--which was probably only an imitation linen--raking
grass. Judy was softly twanging her guitar. Nance on her knees beside a
bed of lilies was digging in the earth, and the others were variously
engaged while Edith read aloud.

The Professor looked long at the charming scene and then observed:

"It is a pretty picture. Wherever these girls go they create an
atmosphere."

But he was thinking of only one girl.

Someone else had called at O'Reilly's privately and asked to see the
garden.

It was Judith Blount who stood like a dark shadow against the window and
peered through the crack in the green shutter. She had come on the
pretext of looking at rooms for next year, but after watching the scene
in the garden had hurried away.

"And I might have been with them now," she thought bitterly, "if it
hadn't been for my vile temper that Christmas Eve."

Judith had learned a good many hard lessons during the winter. She had
found out that friends in prosperity are not always friends in
adversity. Her old-time rich associates at the Beta Phi House had paid
her one or two perfunctory calls in the room over the post-office, but
the days of her leadership were over forever. Mary Stewart came often to
see her and Jenny Wren was faithful, but there was great bitterness in
Judith's heart and she chose frequently to hang a "Busy" sign on her
door so that she might brood over her troubles alone. She grew very
sallow and thin, and sat up late at night reading, there being no ten
o'clock rules at the post-office. Many times Madeleine Petit, her
neighbor, was wakened by the fragrant aroma of coffee floating down the
hall into her little bedroom.

"If she was my daughter," Madeleine observed to Molly one day, "I'd
first put her through a course of broken doses of calomel, and then I'd
put her to work on something besides lessons. Even laundry is good to
keep people from brooding. If I stopped to think about all my troubles
and all that is before me in the way of work and struggles to get on,"
she rattled along, "I wouldn't have time to study, much less do up
jabots and things. But I just trust to luck and go ahead. I find it
comes out all right. Mighty few people seem to understand that it makes
a thing much bigger to think and think about it. I'd rather enlarge
something more worth while than my misfortunes."

Molly smiled over Madeleine's philosophy.

"I mean to make friends with her next year," went on Madeleine. "She was
rude to me once, but I am sorry for her because we are both going
through the same struggle and I think I can give her some ideas. You may
not believe me, but I always succeed in doing the thing I set out to do.
College was as far off from me two years ago as Judith seems to be
now----"

"It will be a fine thing for Judith if she gains a friend like you,
Madeleine," interrupted Molly warmly. "See if you can't start it by
bringing her to our garden party with you next Saturday."

Molly delivered the invitations with which she had called, and giving
Madeleine a friendly kiss, she hastened on her way.

But Madeleine's words were prophetic, as we shall show you in the story
of "Molly Brown's Junior Days." Judith Blount was to learn much from
this energetic little person and to listen with the patience of a tried
friend to her stream of conversation.

Molly felt very much like embracing all her friends that day and kissing
both hands to the entire world besides. A letter had come from her
mother which settled the one great question in Molly's mind just then:
Should she be able to return to college for her junior year and share
with Judy and Nance a little three-roomed apartment in the Quadrangle
near their other friends, who were all engaging rooms in that same
corridor? And that very morning all doubt had been dispelled. Her
mother had written her the wonderful news:

"The stockholders of the Square Deal Mine will get back their money,
after all. It seems that Mrs. Blount had some property which she was
induced to hand over. I am sorry that they should be impoverished, but
it seems just, nevertheless. It will be some time before matters are
arranged, however. In the meantime, I have had the most extraordinary
piece of luck in connection with the two acres of orchard on which I
borrowed the money for your college expenses. I have just sold it for a
splendid amount--enough to cover all debts on the land, including the
one to the President of Wellington University, and to furnish your
tuition and board for the next two years. Scarcely anything in all my
life has pleased me more than this. I don't even know the name of the
buyer. The land was purchased through an agent. But whoever the person
was, he must have been charmed with our old orchard. It is a pretty bit
of property. Your father used to call it 'his lucky two acres,' because
it always yielded a little income."

Therefore, it was with a light heart that Molly delivered invitations
that afternoon to the garden party at O'Reilly's.

She had intended to shove an envelope under the door of Professor
Green's office in the cloisters and hurry on, not wishing to disturb
that busy and important personage, but he had opened the door himself
while she was in the very act of slipping the invitation through the
crack between the door and the sill.

"Oh," she exclaimed, blushing with embarrassment. "Please excuse me. I
only wanted to give you this. We hope you'll come. We shall feel it a
great honor if you will accept."

"I accept without even knowing what it is, if that's the way you feel,"
replied the Professor, smiling. "I would go to a fudge party or a picnic
or anything in the nature of an entertainment, if I felt--er--that
is----" the Professor was getting decidedly mixed, and Molly saw with
surprise that he was blushing. "That is, if the fire refugees wished it
so much," he finished.

"You look a little tired, Professor," she remarked, noticing for the
first time that he was hollow-eyed and his face was thin and worn, as if
he had been working at night.

"My pallor is due entirely to disappointment," he answered laughing,
"our little opera passed into oblivion the other night. Perhaps you
would have brought it better luck if you had been with us."

"I would have clapped and cheered the loudest of all," exclaimed Molly.
"But I'm so sorry. I am sure it must have been splendid. What was the
reason?"

"It was just one of those unfortunate infants destined to die young,"
said the Professor. "I thought it was quite a neat little thing, myself,
but Richard believes that the plot had too much story and it was a
little--well--too refined, if I may put it that way. It needed more
buffoonery of a lighter vein. It was a joke, my writing it in the first
place. However, I haven't lost anything but time over it, and I've
gained a good deal of experience."

"I am so sorry," exclaimed Molly with real sympathy, giving him her
hand. "It seems rather tactless," she said starting to leave and turning
back, "to tell you about our good luck just now, but of course you knew
about the Square Deal. Mine, anyway."

"Oh, yes," he answered. "They are going to pay off all the creditors. An
old cousin of Mrs. Blount's in Switzerland died the other day without
leaving a will, and she inherits his property. It's pretty hard on her
to give it up just now when she needs it dreadfully, but Richard has
induced her to do it and I suppose it is right. It will take a year at
least to straighten out the affair though. There is so much red tape
about American heirs getting European property."

"Then, _I've_ had some luck, too," said Molly, making an effort to keep
the Professor from seeing how really joyously happy she was. "Some
perfectly delightful and charming person has bought my two acres of
apple orchard at last, and I shall not be down at O'Reilly's next
winter. I'm going to be in the Quadrangle with the others. Isn't it
wonderful?"

The Professor looked at her with his quizzical brown eyes; then he shook
hands with her again.

"Does it really make you very happy?" he asked.

"Oh, you can't think!" she cried. "You can never know how relieved and
happy I am. I've been walking on air all day. I shall always feel that
the man who bought that orchard did it just for me, although of course
he has never heard of me. Some day I am going to thank him, myself."

"You are?" he asked, "and how will you thank him?"

"Why," she replied, "why, I think I'll just give him a hug. I have a
feeling that he's an old gentleman."

The Professor sat down in his chair very suddenly and began to laugh,
and he was still laughing when Molly sped down the corridor to the door
into the court. She did not see him again until the day of the farewell
tea in the garden of O'Reilly's.

* * * And it is in the garden that we will leave our girls now, at the
close of their sophomore year.

They look very charming in their long white dresses, dispensing tea and
lemonade and sandwiches to the small company of guests. It is the last
time we shall see the old Queen's circle as a separate group. O'Reilly's
had filled the need of the moment, but the friends agreed that nothing
could ever take the place of Queen's unless it were the long-coveted
quarters in the dormitories behind the twin gray towers of Wellington.

There we shall find them during "MOLLY BROWN'S JUNIOR DAYS," living
broader and less secluded lives in the fine old Quadrangle which had
always been the center of interest and influence at Wellington College
and now promised to add a unique chapter to her history.



       *       *       *       *       *



SAVE THE WRAPPER!


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       *       *       *       *       *



Transcriber's Note:

Spelling, alternative hyphenation, and abbreviations have been retained
as they appear in the original publication.

Changes have been made to punctuation as follows:

    Page 262: Removed quotation mark--shed on her account."

    Page 213: Added fullstop--were to shake hands.





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