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Title: Molly Brown's Junior Days
Author: Speed, Nell, 1878-1913
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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

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[Illustration: DID I FRIGHTEN YOU? I AM SORRY.--_Page 35._]


MOLLY BROWN'S JUNIOR DAYS

by

NELL SPEED

Author of "Molly Brown's Freshman Days," "Molly
Brown's Sophomore Days," etc., etc.

With Four Half-Tone Illustrations by Charles L. Wrenn



New York
Hurst & Company
Publishers

Copyright, 1912,
by
Hurst & Company



CONTENTS


  CHAPTER                                                     PAGE

      I.  DAUGHTERS OF WELLINGTON                                5

     II.  MINERVA HIGGINS                                       18

    III.  IN THE CLOISTERS                                      32

     IV.  A LITERARY EVENING                                    44

      V.  VARIOUS HAPPENINGS                                    57

     VI.  "THE BEST LAID SCHEMES"                               74

    VII.  A MIDNIGHT ADVENTURE                                  89

   VIII.  COVERING THEIR TRACKS                                105

     IX.  THE GRAVE DIGGERS                                    116

      X.  A VISIT OF STATE                                     134

     XI.  A SWOPPING PARTY AND A MOCK TRIAL                    147

    XII.  ALARMS AND DISCOVERIES                               163

   XIII.  "THE MOVING FINGER WRITES"                           175

    XIV.  AN INVITATION AND AN APOLOGY                         187

     XV.  A CHRISTMAS GHOST STORY THAT WAS NEVER TOLD          200

    XVI.  MORE CHRISTMAS PRESENTS AND A COASTING PARTY OF TWO  212

   XVII.  THE WAYFARERS                                        226

  XVIII.  HEALING THE BLIND                                    246

    XIX.  A WARNING                                            259

     XX.  THE PARABLE OF THE SUN AND WIND                      272

    XXI.  THE JUNIOR GAMBOL                                    289



ILLUSTRATIONS


  Did I frighten you? I am sorry                     _Frontispiece_

                                                               PAGE
  They set to work to dig a small grave for Judy's slipper      129

  "And she's given me a pair of silk stockings," cried Molly    213

  The next thing she knew she was buried deep in a snow drift,
  and Judy was whizzing on alone                                224



Molly Brown's Junior Days



CHAPTER I.

DAUGHTERS OF WELLINGTON.


No. 5 in the Quadrangle at Wellington College was in a condition of
upheaval. Surprising things were happening there. The simultaneous
arrival of six trunks, five express boxes and a piano had thrown the
three orderly and not over-large rooms into a state of the wildest
confusion.

In the midst of this mountain of luggage and scattered boxes stood a
small, lonely figure dressed in brown, gazing disconsolately about.

"I feel as if I had been cast up by an earthquake with a lot of other
miscellaneous things," she remarked hopelessly.

It was Nance Oldham, back at college by an early train, and devoutly
wishing she had waited for the four-ten when the others were expected.

"This is too much to face alone," she continued. "If it had been at
Queen's it never would have happened. Mrs. Markham wouldn't have allowed
six trunks and a piano and five boxes to be piled into one room. And
mine at the very bottom, too. If it wasn't a selfish act, I think I'd
leave everything and go call on Mrs. McLean--but, no, that wouldn't do
on the first day." Nance blushed. "But Andy's there to-day." She blushed
again at this bold, outspoken thought. "I shall get the janitor to come
up here and distribute these things," she added presently, with New
England determination not even to peep at a picture of pleasure behind
a granite wall of duty.

The doors of No. 5 opened on a broad, high-ceiled corridor, the side
walls of which were wainscoted halfway up with dark polished wood. On
either side of this corridor ranged the apartments and single rooms of
the Quadrangle, one row facing the campus, the other the courtyard. An
occasional upholstered bench or high-backed chair stood between the
frequent doors and gave a home-like touch to the long gallery. They had
been the gift of a rich ex-graduate.

Nance, closing the door of No. 5, paused and looked proudly down the
polished vista of the hallway, which curved at the far end and continued
its way on the other side of the Quadrangle.

The sound of voices and laughter floated to her through the half open
doors of the other rooms. With a smile of contentment, she sat down in
one of the high-backed chairs.

"Dear old Wellington," she said softly, "other girls love their homes,
but I love you." Thus she apostrophized the classic shades of the
university while her gaze lighted absently on a large laundry bag
stuffed full standing just outside one of the doors. It was different
from the usual Wellington laundry bag, being of a peculiar shape and of
material covered with Japanese fans.

"It's Otoyo's. Of course, she must have been here since Monday. I heard
she had spent the summer down in the village."

She hastened along the green path of carpet running down the middle of
the corridor and paused at the room of the Japanese laundry bag.

"Otoyo Sen," she called. "Why don't you come out and meet your friends?"

The Japanese girl was seated on the floor gazing at a photograph. She
rose quickly and flew to the door, thrusting the picture behind her.

"Oh, I am so deeply happee to see you again, Mees Oldham," she
exclaimed.

"She has learned the use of adverbs," thought Nance, kissing Otoyo's
round dark cheek.

"You see I have been studying long time. I now speak the language with
correctness. Do you not think so?" said Otoyo, apparently reading
Nance's thoughts.

"Perfectly," answered Nance. "But tell me the news. Is Queen's not to be
rebuilt?"

"No, no. Queen's is to remain flat on the ground. She will not be
erected into another building."

"And have you had a happy summer? Was it quite lonesome for you, poor
child?"

"No, no," protested Otoyo, still hiding the photograph behind her.
"Those who remained at Wellington were most kind to little Japanese
girl."

"And who remained, Otoyo?"

"Professor Green was here long time. I studied the English language
under him. He is a great man. It is an honorable pleasure to learn from
one so great."

"He is, indeed. And who else? Any of the rest of the faculty?"

"No, no. They had all departing gone."

Nance smiled. There was still a relic of last year's English.

"Mrs. McLean and her family remained at Wellington through the entire
summer," went on Otoyo fluently.

"And were they nice to you, Otoyo?"

"Veree, exceedinglee."

"Was Andy well?"

"Quite, quite," replied the Japanese girl, backing off from Nance and
slipping the photograph into a book.

Not for many a day did Nance find out that it was a portrait of that
youth himself, taken at the age of eight in Scotch kilties and a little
black velvet hat with two streamers down the back.

Suddenly Otoyo became very voluble. She changed the subject and talked
in rapid, smooth English. Could she not see the new rooms of her
friends? She understood everybody was coming down on the four-ten train.
It would be very crowded. She had found a new laundress whom she could
highly recommend.

Nance looked at her curiously as they strolled back to the other rooms.
Something was changed about the little Japanese girl. She seemed older
and much less timid.

It was Miss Sen who found the man to move the trunks, and who helped
Nance unpack her things and lay them in half the chest of drawers; and
it was Otoyo, also, who, with the skill of an artisan, removed all the
nails from the express box tops so that they might be unpacked
immediately by their owners. At lunch time she led Nance into the great
dining hall of the Quadrangle where more than a hundred girls ate their
meals three times a day. There was no attention she did not show to
Nance, and all because her conscience was heavy within her on account of
the one dishonorable act of her life. How could she know that among the
scores of photographs taken of young Andy from his babyhood to his
present age, Mrs. McLean would never miss one small, faded picture out
of the pile thrust into a cabinet drawer?

At last it came time to meet the four-ten, and Nance, looking spic and
span in fresh white duck and white shoes and stockings, was rather
surprised to find Otoyo also attired in a pretty white dress, her face
shaded with a Leghorn hat trimmed with pink roses.

"Why, Miss Sen," she exclaimed, "how did you learn so soon to dress
yourself in this charming American style?"

"At a garden party at Mrs. McLean's I learned a very many things," said
Otoyo, "and by the purchasing agent I have obtained dresses of summer,
of duckling, lining and musling; also this hat and two others very
pretty."

Nance laughed.

"You mean duck, linen and muslin, child," she said.

When the four-ten train to Wellington pulled into the station it seemed
as if every student in the university must be crowded inside. They
leaned from the windows and packed the doorways, overflowing onto the
platforms.

The air vibrated with high feminine shrieks of joy. Only the poor little
freshies were silent in all this jubilation of reunions. Suddenly Nance,
spying Molly Brown and Judy Kean, rushed to meet them, Otoyo following
at her heels like a toy spaniel after a larger dog. There was a long
triangular embrace.

"Well, here we are, _and juniors_," was Judy's first comment. "Nance,
you're looking fine as silk. No sign of travel on that snowy gown."

"There oughtn't to be," said Nance. "I just put it on half an hour ago."

"And look at our little Jap," cried Molly, hugging Otoyo. "Look at
little Miss Sen, all dressed up in a beautiful linen."

"Little Miss Sen has been learning a thing or two," said Nance. "She's
been to parties, she's been studying English under a famous professor;
she's been buying duckling, lining and musling dresses through a
purchasing agent with very good taste, and she's got a photograph she
looks at in private and hides away when any one comes into the room. Oh,
you needn't think I didn't see you!"

Otoyo blushed scarlet and hung her head.

"Oh, thou crafty one," Judy was saying, when four of the old Queen's
girls pounced on them with suit cases and satchels. "Why, here are the
Gemini," Judy continued, embracing the Williams sisters. "Burned to a
mahogany brown, too. Where did you get that tan? You look like a pair
of--hum--Filipinos."

"Don't be making invidious remarks, Judy," put in Katherine. "Learn to
see the beautiful in all things, even complexions."

In the meantime Margaret Wakefield, looking five years older than her
real age because of her matured figure and self-possessed air, was
shaking hands all around, making an appropriate remark with each
greeting, like the politician she was; and Jessie Lynch was crying in
heartbroken tones:

"I left a box of candy and a bunch of violets and two new magazines on
the train!"

"Where's my little freshman?" Molly demanded of the other girls above
the din and racket.

"There she is," Judy pointed out. "But there is no hurry. Every bus is
jammed full."

The lonely freshman was standing pressed against the wall of the waiting
room looking hopelessly on while the usual mob besieged Mr. Murphy,
baggage master.

"Why, the poor little thing," cried Molly, rushing to take the girl
under her wing.

"It's astonishing how one good deed starts another," thought Nance,
looking about her for other stranded freshies; and both the Williamses
were doing the same thing.

There were several such lonely souls wandering about like lost spirits.
They had been jostled and pushed this way and that in the crowd, and
one little girl was on the point of shedding tears.

"I can always tell a new girl by the wild light in her eye," observed
Edith Williams, making for an unhappy looking young person who had given
up in despair and was sitting on her suit case.

At last they were all bundled into one of the larger buses from the
livery stable. The older girls were thrilled with expectant joy while
they watched eagerly for the first glimpse of the twin gray towers; the
new girls, most of them, gazed sadly the other way, as if home lay
behind them.

"It isn't a case of 'abandon hope all ye who enter here,'" observed Judy
to a dejected freshman who in five minutes had lost all interest in her
college career. "Look at us blooming creatures and you'll see what it
can do. There's no end to the fun of it and no end to the things you'll
learn besides mere book knowledge."

"I suppose so," said the girl, struggling to keep back her tears, "but
it's a little lonesome at first."

"Poor little souls," thought Molly, who had overheard with much pride
Judy's eulogy of college, "how can we explain it to them? They'll just
have to find it out themselves as we did before them."

The truth is, our new juniors felt quite motherly and old.

A hushed silence fell over the Queen's girls when the bus drove by the
grass-grown plot where once had stood their college home.

"If a dear friend had been buried there, we couldn't have felt more
solemn," Molly wrote her sister that night.

But the prestige felt in alighting finally at the great arched entrance
to the Quadrangle drove away all sad thoughts, and when they hastened
down the long polished corridor to their rooms, they could not quench
the pride which rose in their breasts. It was the real thing at last.
Queen's and O'Reilly's had been great fun, but this was college. They
were the true daughters of Wellington now, and that night when the
gates clicked together at ten, they would sleep for the first time
behind her gray stone walls.

At that moment the voices of a hundred-odd other daughters hummed
through the halls, but it was all a part of the college atmosphere, as
Judy said.

Their bedrooms were not quite as large as the old Queen's rooms, but oh,
the sitting room! They viewed it with pride. Each of the three had
contributed something toward additional furniture. The piano was Judy's;
the divan, Nance's; and the cushions, yet to be unpacked, Molly's. There
was another contribution not made by any of the three. It was the
beautiful Botticelli photograph left for Molly by Mary Stewart, who
had gone to Europe for the winter.

"How glad I am the walls are pale yellow and the woodwork white!"
exclaimed Judy joyfully.

"How glad I am there's plenty of room on these shelves for everybody's
books," said Nance.

"And how glad I am to be a junior and back at old Wellington," finished
Molly, squeezing a hand of each friend.



CHAPTER II.

MINERVA HIGGINS.


"There's only one thing worse than a faculty call-down and that's a Beta
Phi freeze-out," remarked Judy Kean one Saturday afternoon a few weeks
after the opening day of college.

"Why do you bring up disagreeable subjects, Judy? Have you been getting
a call-down?" asked Katherine Williams.

"Not your old Aunty Judy," replied the other. "I'm far too wise for that
after two years' experience, but I saw some one else get one of the most
flattening, extinguishing, crushing call-downs ever received by an
inmate of this asylum for young ladies. And they do tell me it was
followed soon after by another one."

"Do tell," exclaimed an interested chorus.

"It was that fresh Miss Higgins from Ohio," continued Judy, with some
enjoyment of the curiosity she was exciting. "You know she's always
trying to attract the attention of the masses----"

"We being the masses," interrupted Edith.

"And stand in the limelight. She's bright, I hear, very bright, but she
knows it."

"I recognized her type almost immediately," said Katherine. "She's one
of those brightest-girls-in-the-high-school-pride-of-the-town kind."

"Exactly," answered Judy. "She has been regarded as a prodigy for so
long that she doesn't understand the relative difference between a
freshman and a senior. I honestly believe she thought everybody in
Wellington knew all about her, and she wears as many gold medals on
her chest as a field marshal on dress parade."

"We saw the gold medals on Sunday," interposed Molly. "I think it's
rather pathetic, myself. She is more to be pitied than scorned, because
of course she doesn't know any better."

"She'll have to live and learn, then," said Judy.

"Get to the point of your story, Judy. Who extinguished her?" ejaculated
Margaret Wakefield, impatient of such slipshod methods of narration.

"How can I tell a tale when I'm interrupted by forty people at once?"
exclaimed Judy. "Besides, I haven't the gift of language like you, old
suffragette."

Margaret laughed. She was entirely good-natured over the jibes of her
friends about her passion for universal suffrage.

"Well, the Beta Phi crowd of seniors," went on Judy, "were walking
across the campus in a row. I don't suppose Miss Higgins had any way to
know this soon in the game that they represented the triple extract of
concentrated exclusiveness at Wellington. Anyhow, she knows it now. She
came rushing up behind them and gave Rosomond a light, friendly slap on
the back. If you could have seen Rosomond's face! But Miss Higgins was
entirely dense. She began something about 'Hello, girls, have you heard
the news about Prexy----' but she never got any further. Rosomond gave
her the most freezing look I ever saw from a human eye."

"What did she say?"

"That was it. She never said anything. Nobody said anything. Eloise
Blair carries tortoise-shell lorgnettes----"

"She doesn't need them," broke in Nance.

"She only does it to make herself more haughty."

"Anyway, Eloise raised the lorgnettes."

"Poor Miss Higgins," cried Molly.

"There was perfect silence for about a minute. Then they all walked on,
leaving little Higgins standing alone in the middle of the campus."

"And where were you?" asked Margaret.

"Oh, I was with the seniors," answered Judy, flushing slightly. "I had
been over to Beta Phi to see Rosomond about something."

It was impossible for Judy's friends not to make an amiable unspoken
guess as to why she had visited the Beta Phi circle. It had been evident
for some time that she was working to get into the "Shakespeareans," the
most exclusive dramatic club in college. There was an awkward silence as
this thought flashed through their minds. Molly felt embarrassed for her
chum. After all, she was no worse than Margaret Wakefield, who had
managed to get herself elected three years in succession as president
of her class.

"What was the other extinguisher Miss Higgins had, Judy?" asked Molly.

"Oh, yes. That was even worse. It came from your particular friend,
Professor Green. She interrupted him in the middle of a lecture with one
of those unnecessary questions new girls ask to show how much they know.
And then she said something about methods at Mill Town High School."

"Really?" chorused the voices. "And what did he say?"

"He looked very much bored and replied that they were not interested in
Mill Town High School, and he would be obliged if she would pay
attention to the lecture. It was a public rebuke, nothing more nor
less."

"The mean thing," exclaimed Molly.

"Now, Molly," interposed Margaret, "you know very well that girls of
that type ought to be taken down. They are never tolerated at college. A
conceited boy at college is always thoroughly hazed until there's not a
drop of conceit left, and it does him good. And since we can't haze, we
simply have to extinguish a fresh freshie. Miss Higgins may develop into
a very nice girl in a year or two, but at present she's the veriest
little upstart----"

"Do be careful," said Molly cautiously. "I've invited her this afternoon
to drink tea----"

"Molly Brown," they cried, pummeling her with sofa cushions and beating
her with her own slippers.

"Really, Molly, you must restrain your inviting habits," said Judy.

"I'm sorry," apologized poor Molly.

"Why did you do it, pray? You know perfectly well no one here wants
her."

"I know it, but I was sorry for her. She seemed so brash and lonesome at
the same time. I thought it might help her some to mingle with a few
fine, intelligent, well-bred girls like you----"

"Here, here! Don't try to get out of it that way."

"She appears to be very learned," continued Molly, turning her blue eyes
innocently from one to the other. "I thought it would be nice to pit her
against Margaret and Edith. She discusses deep subjects and uses big
words I can only dimly guess the meaning of----" There was a tap at the
door. "Now, be nice, please."

"Come in," called Nance, in a tone of authority, and Minerva Higgins
appeared in their midst.

She had done honor to the occasion by putting on a taffeta silk of
indigo blue, and by pinning on some of her most conspicuous gold medals
acquired at intervals during her early education.

Judy shook her head over the indigo blue.

"Only certain minds could wear it," she thought.

Molly rose, but before she could frame a cordial greeting, the new guest
was saying:

"How do you do, Molly? Awfully nice of you to ask me. You don't mind my
calling you by your first name, do you? My name is Minerva but the
girls at Mill Town High School called me 'Minnie.' I hope you'll do the
same."

"I shall be glad to," answered Molly, rather taken back by this sudden
intimacy.

After she had performed all necessary introductions, wicked Katherine
Williams remarked:

"Minnie is a very charming name, but I insist on calling you 'Minerva'
after the Goddess of Wisdom. She never wore gold medals, but then it
wasn't the fashion among the early Greeks."

Minerva's face was the picture of complacency.

"In Greece she would have been 'Athene,'" she observed.

There was a loud clearing of throats and Judy, as usual, was seized with
a violent fit of coughing.

"Sit down here, Miss Higgins--I mean Minnie," said Molly hastily. "The
tea will be ready in a minute."

"You have been to college before, Minerva?" asked Edith Williams
solemnly.

Minerva looked somewhat surprised.

"Oh, no. Not college. I am just out of High School. Mill Town High
School is a very wonderful educational institution, you know. Perhaps
you have heard of it. A diploma from there will admit a girl into any of
the best colleges in the country. I could have gone to a private school.
My father is professor of Greek at the Academy in Mill Town, but I
preferred to take advantage of the high standards of the High School,
which are even higher than those of the Academy."

"I suppose your father's taste in Greek caused him to name you Minerva,"
observed Judy.

"But Minerva isn't Greek, Julia," admonished Katherine.

Again Molly interceded. It was cruel to make fun of the poor girl,
although there was no denying that Minerva had a high opinion of
herself.

"Have a sandwich," she said soothingly.

There was a long interval of silence while Minerva crunched her
sandwich.

"Your life at Mill Town High School must have been one grand triumphal
progress, judging from your medals, Miss Higgins," said Edith Williams
finally.

Minerva glanced proudly down at the awards of merit.

"There are a good many of them," she observed, with a smile that was
almost more than they could stand. "And there are more of them still.
I've won one or two medals each year ever since I started to school. But
I don't like to wear them all at once."

"That's very modest of you."

"Are you going to specialize on any subjects, Miss Higgins?" asked
Margaret Wakefield, really meaning to be kind and lead the girl away
from topics which made her appear ridiculous.

"Biology, I think. But I am interested in Comparative Philology, too,
and after I skim through a little Greek and Latin, I intend to take up
some of the ancient languages, Sanskrit and Hebrew."

Was it possible that Minerva was making game of them? They regarded her
suspiciously, but she seemed sublimely unconscious.

"Why not study also the ancient tongue of the Basques?" asked Edith,
quite gravely.

"That would be interesting," replied Minerva, "but I want to get through
this little college course first."

Molly batted her heavenly eyes and suddenly burst out laughing.

"Excuse me," she said. "I didn't mean to be rude, but the course at
Wellington doesn't seem so small to us. We have to study all the time
and then just barely pull through. I've almost flunked twice in
mathematics. I wish I could call it a little course."

"Ah, well, we are not all Minervas," observed Margaret. "Some of us are
just ordinary school girls learning the rudiments of education. We have
not had the advantages of Mill Town High School, and if any of us have
won gold medals we never show them."

This measured rebuff, however, had no more effect on Minerva's
impervious vanity than a cup of water dashed against a granite boulder.
She was already up, wandering about the room, boldly examining the
girls' belongings, ostentatiously reading the titles of books aloud.

"Plays by Molière. Oh, yes, I read them in the original two years ago.
They're easy. 'Green's Short History of the English People,' very
interesting book. 'The Broad Highway.' I never read fiction. Only
biography and history----"

Edith Williams, stretched at her ease on the divan, gave an inaudible
groan and turned her face to the wall.

Molly glanced helplessly about her.

"'The Primavera,' that's by Botticelli," went on the girl, infatuated by
her own intelligence. "Good artist, but I don't care for the old masters
as a general thing. They are always out of drawing."

Katherine rolled her eyes up into her head until only the whites could
be seen, which gave her the horrible aspect of a corpse.

There was a long and eloquent silence. Presently Minerva took her
departure, and Molly, hospitable to the last gasp, saw her to the door
and invited her to come again.

With the door safely locked and Minerva out of earshot, there was a
general collapse. Nobody laughed, but the room was filled with painful
sounds, moans and groans. Judy pretended to faint on top of Edith, and
Molly sat in a remote corner of the room.

Somehow, they felt beaten, vanquished.

"I am sore all over with repressed emotions," cried Judy. "I couldn't
stand another séance like that."

"Does she know as much as she claims?" asked Nance.

"Of course not," exclaimed Margaret irritably. "If she really knew she
wouldn't claim anything. It's only ignorant people who boast of
knowledge. I suppose she has been looked up to for so long that she
regards herself as a fountain of wisdom."

"She must be taken down," said Edith firmly. "This mustn't be allowed to
go on at Wellington."

"But hazing isn't allowed," put in Molly.

"Not by hazing, goosie. By some homely little practical joke that will
show herself to herself as others see her."

"All right," consented Molly. She felt indeed that something should be
done to save poor Minerva Higgins from eternal ridicule.

"If anybody has suggestions to make," here announced Margaret Wakefield,
self-constituted chairman of all committees, impromptu or otherwise,
"they may be stated in writing or announced by word of mouth to-morrow
night in our rooms at a fudge party."

"Accepted," they cried in one breath.

In the meantime, Minerva Higgins was writing home to her mother that she
had been, if not the guest of honor, almost that, at a junior tea, and
had found the girls rather interesting though poor talkers. In fact, it
was necessary to do almost all the talking herself.



CHAPTER III.

IN THE CLOISTERS.


Life in the Quadrangle hummed busily on. The girls found themselves in
the very heart of college affairs. As a matter of fact the old Queen's
circle had been somewhat restricted, having narrowed down to less than a
dozen; whereas now, they associated with many times that number and were
invited to a bewildering succession of teas and fudge parties.

Also they were nearer to the library, the gymnasium, the classrooms and
the cloisters. Here, during the warm, hazy days of Indian summer Molly
loved to walk. It was not such a popular place as she had imagined with
the Quadrangle girls, and often she was quite alone in the arcade,
bordered now with hydrangeas turning a delicate pink under the autumn
suns.

One afternoon, a few days after Margaret's fudge party to discuss the
question of Minerva Higgins, Molly sought a few quiet moments in the
cloistered walk. It was a half hour before closing-up time, but she
would not miss the six strokes of the tower clock again, as she had on
her first day at college two years before.

She usually confined her walks to the far side of the arcade, keeping
well away from the side of the cloisters on which the studies of some of
the faculty opened. That afternoon she carried her volume of Rossetti
with her, and pacing slowly up and down, she read in a low musical voice
to herself:

    "'The blessed damozel leaned out
      From the gold bar of Heaven;
      Her eyes were deeper than the depth
      Of waters stilled at even;
      She had three lilies in her hand,
      And the stars in her hair were seven.'"

Waves of rhythm ran through Molly's head, and when she reached the end
of the walk she turned mechanically and went the other way without
pausing in her reading.

Many girls studied in this way in the cloisters and it was not an
unusual sight, but Molly made a picture not soon to be forgotten by any
one who might chance to wander in the arcade at that hour. She was still
spare and undeveloped, but the grace that was to come revealed itself in
the girlish lines of her figure. Her eyes seemed never more serenely,
deeply blue than now, and her hair, disordered from the tam o'shanter
she had pulled off and tossed onto a stone bench, made a fluffy auburn
frame about her face. Molly was by no means beautiful from the
standpoint of perfection. Her eyebrows and lashes should have been
darker; her chin was too pointed and her mouth a shade too large. But
few people took the trouble to pick out flaws in her face or figure.
Those who loved her thought her beautiful, and the few who did not could
not deny her charm.

Presently she sat down on a bench, continuing to declaim the poem out
aloud, making a gesture occasionally with her unoccupied hand. After
reading a verse, she closed her eyes and repeated it to herself. Opening
her eyes between verses, she encountered the amused gaze of Professor
Edwin Green who, having seen her in the distance, had cut across the
grassy court and now stood as still as a statue leaning against a stone
pillar.

"Oh," exclaimed Molly, with a nervous start.

"Did I frighten you? I am sorry. I should have walked more heavily. It's
unkind to steal up on people who are reading poetry aloud."

"I was learning the--something by heart," she said, blushing a little as
if she had been detected in a guilty act. After all, it was the
professor who had introduced her to that poem and given her the book
last Christmas, but that, of course, was not the reason why she was so
fond of the poem she was studying.

"How do you like the Quadrangle?" he asked. "Are you comfortable and
happy?"

Molly clasped her hands in the excess of her enthusiasm.

"I was never so happy in all my life," she cried. "It is perfect. Our
rooms are beautiful, and a sitting room, too. Think of that, with yellow
walls and a piano!"

The professor looked vastly pleased. For an instant his face was lighted
by a beaming, radiant smile. Then he thrust his hands into his pockets
and pressed his lips together in a thin line of determination.

"I feel as if I were one of the workers inside the hive now," Molly
continued.

"And all the difficulties about tuition have been settled?" he asked.
"Forgive my mentioning it, but I felt an interest on account of my close
relationship to the Blounts."

"Oh, yes. The money from the two acres of orchard settled that. You see,
whoever bought it, whether it was an old man or a company--for some
reason the name is still a secret with the agent--paid cash. They rarely
do, mother says, and the money is usually spent in driblets before you
realize it. Mr. Richard Blount expects to settle with his father's
creditors in a few months. My sisters are working. They say they enjoy
it, but they are both engaged to be married," she added, smiling.

"Did the orchard yield a good crop this year?" asked the professor
irrelevantly.

"Oh, splendid. The apples were packed in barrels and sent away. Several
of them were sent to mother as a present. Very nice of the owner, wasn't
it?"

"Very," replied the professor, fingering something in his pocket
absently.

"The owner of the orchard has it kept in fine condition. The trees have
been trimmed and the ground cleared. Mother says she's ashamed of her
own shiftlessness whenever she looks at it. The grass was as smooth as
velvet all summer until the drought came and dried it brown. I used to
go there summer mornings and lie in a hammock and read. I didn't think
any one would care. There's no harm in attaching a hammock to two trees.
Mother says I don't seem to remember that we are no longer the owners of
the orchard. I have played in it and lived in it so much of my life
that I've got the habit, I suppose."

The professor cleared his throat.

"You said the ground sloped slightly, did you not?"

"Yes, just a gradual slope to a little brook at the bottom of the hill.
The water seems to cool the air in summer. It never goes dry and there
is a little basin in one place we used to call 'the birds' bath tub.'
Such birds you never imagined! They are attracted by the apples, I
suppose. But there are hundreds of them. They sing from morning to
night."

"You paint a very attractive picture, Miss Brown. It must have been hard
to give up this charming property."

"But you see we haven't given it up exactly. It's there right against
us. We can still look at it and even walk under the trees. No one minds.
And see what I have for it! Nothing could ever take the place of
college--not even an apple orchard."

A sharp voice broke in on this pleasant conversation.

"Cousin Edwin, I've been looking for you everywhere."

Judith Blount appeared hastening down the walk.

The professor watched the advancing figure calmly.

"Well, now you have found me, what do you want?" he asked.

Molly detected a slight note of annoyance in his voice. She had a notion
that Judith was one of the trials of his life.

"I have rewritten the short story you criticized for me last week, and I
want you to look it over again."

He took the roll of paper without a word and thrust it into his coat
pocket.

Molly rose.

"I must be going," she said. "It must be nearly six o'clock."

Judith promptly sat down on the bench facing her cousin, who still
leaned against the stone pillar.

"Don't you think it's a little chilly to be lingering here, Judith?" he
remarked politely, as he joined Molly.

"It wasn't too chilly for you a moment ago," answered Judith hotly.

But she rose and walked on the other side of the professor.

"How do you like your rooms?" he asked presently.

"I hate them," she replied, with such fierce resentment that Molly was
sure that Judith was glad to have something on which to vent her angry
mood. "Thank heavens, this is my last year. I detest Wellington. I have
never been happy here. It's brought shame and misfortune on me. It's a
horrid old place."

"Oh, Judith," protested Molly, unable to endure this libel on her
beloved college.

"My dear child, you can't blame Wellington for your misfortunes,"
interposed the professor, who himself cherished a deep affection for
the two gray towers.

"It is hard to live in the village instead of at college," said Molly,
feeling suddenly very sorry for the unhappy Judith.

But Judith was in no state to be sympathized with. All day she had been
nursing a grievance. One of her friends in prosperity at the Beta Phi
House had turned a cold shoulder on her that morning; and Judith was so
enraged by the slight that her feelings were like an open sore.

She turned on Molly angrily.

"You ought to know," she said. "You had to do it long enough."

"Judith, Judith," remonstrated the professor. "Can't you understand that
you gain nothing, and always lose something, by giving way like this?
Denouncing and hating make the object you are working for recede. You'll
never get it that way."

"How do you know what I'm working for?" she demanded, more quietly.

"We are all of us working for the same thing," he answered. "Happiness.
None of us proposes to get it in the same way, but all of us propose to
reach the same goal. What would give me happiness no doubt would never
satisfy you."

"You don't know that, either. What would give you happiness?" Judith
asked, with some curiosity.

The professor paused a moment, then he said calmly:

"A little home of my own in a shady quiet place with plenty of old
trees, where I could work in peace. I have always fancied an old
orchard. There might be a brook at one end----"

Molly smiled.

"He's thinking of my orchard," she thought.

"There must be hundreds of birds in my orchard," went on the professor,
"and the grass must always be thick and green, except perhaps when the
drought comes and it can't help itself----"

The six o'clock bell boomed out.

"Have an apple," he said, taking two red apples from his pocket and
giving one to each of the girls.

Then he opened the small oak door and stood politely aside while they
passed out.



CHAPTER IV.

A LITERARY EVENING.


The entertainment designed to bring Miss Minerva Higgins to a true
understanding of her position as a freshman took place one Friday
evening in the rooms of Margaret and Jessie. It was called on the
invitation "A Literary Evening," and was to be in the nature of a spread
and fudge affair. There had been two rehearsals beforehand, and the
girls were now prepared to enjoy themselves thoroughly.

Molly was loath to take part in the literary evening.

"I can't bear to see anybody humiliated even when she ought to be," she
said, but she consented to come and to give a recitation.

Several study tables had been united for the supper, the cracks
concealed by Japanese towelling contributed by Otoyo. There was no Mrs.
Murphy in the Quadrangle from whom to borrow tablecloths. All the chairs
from the other rooms were brought in to seat the company, who appeared
grave and subdued. Most of the girls were dressed to resemble famous
poets and authors. Judy was Byron; Margaret Wakefield, George Eliot;
Nance, Charlotte Bronté; Edith Williams, Edgar Allan Poe; and Molly was
Shelley. Shakespeare, Voltaire and Charles Dickens were in the company,
and "The Duchess," impersonated by Jessie Lynch.

The unfortunate Minerva was a little disconcerted at first when she
found herself the only girl at the feast in her own character.

"Why didn't you tell me, so that I could have come in costume, too?" she
asked Margaret.

"But you had your medals," was Margaret's enigmatic answer.

Minerva looked puzzled. Then her gaze fell to the shining breastplate of
silver and gold trophies. She had worn them all this evening. The
temptation had been too great. The medals gleamed like so many solemn
eyes. She wondered if the others could read what was inscribed on them,
or if it would be necessary to call attention to the most choice ones:
"THE HIGHEST GENERAL AVERAGE FOR FOUR YEARS"; "REGULAR ATTENDANCE";
"MATHEMATICS"; "THE BEST HISTORICAL ESSAY"; "ENGLISH AND COMPOSITION."

Edith opened the evening by delivering a speech in Latin which was
really one of Virgil's eclogues mixed up with whatever she could recall
of Livy and Horace, and filled out occasionally with Latin prose
composition. It was so excruciatingly funny that Judy sputtered in her
tea and was well kicked on her shins under the table.

Minerva, however, appeared to be profoundly impressed, and the company
murmured subdued approvals when, at last, the speaker took breath and
sat down, gazing solemnly around her with dark, melancholy eyes very
much blacked around the lids.

Margaret then delivered a learned discourse on "Poise of Body and Poise
of Mind," which was skillfully expressed in such deep and intricate
language that nobody could understand what she was talking about.

"Very, very interesting, indeed," observed Edith.

"Remarkable; wonderful; so clearly put," came from the others.

Minerva rubbed her eyes and frowned.

Nance recited "The Raven," translated into very bad French. This was
almost more than their gravity could endure, and when she ended each
verse with "_Dit le corbeau: jamais plus,_" many of the girls stooped
under the table for lost handkerchiefs and Japanese napkins.

But it was not until Judy had sung a lullaby in Sanskrit--so
called--that Minerva became at all suspicious. Even then it was the
wrong kind of suspicion. She thought that perhaps she should have
laughed, and the others had politely refrained because she hadn't.

After a great deal of learned talk, Molly stood on a soap box and
recited "Curfew Shall Not Ring To-night."

This was the crowning joy of that famous evening, but still Minerva
appeared seriously impressed.

"I recited that once at Mill Town High School," she remarked.

"Can't you give us something to-night?" asked Molly kindly, feeling that
in some way the unfortunate Minerva ought to be allowed to join in.

"I don't know that I ought to give another poem by the same man," she
replied, "except that Miss Oldham gave 'The Raven' in French."

"Don't tell us you know 'The Bells'?" demanded Edith Williams, in a
trembling whisper.

"Oh, yes. I've given it at lots of school entertainments."

"We had better turn down the lights," said Margaret. "The room should be
in darkness except the side light where Miss Higgins will stand. That
will be the spot light."

This was a fortunate arrangement because, while Minerva recited "The
Bells," with all proper gestures, intonations and echoes, according to
Cleveland's recitation book, the girls silently collapsed. When she had
finished, they were reduced to that exhausted state that arrives after a
supreme effort not to laugh.

At last the entertainment came to an end. Minerva departed with some of
the others, while those who lived close by remained to chat for a few
minutes.

"I give up," exclaimed Margaret Wakefield. "Minerva is beyond teaching.
She must remain forever the smartest girl in Mill Town High School."

"The only pity of it is that it was all wasted on one humorless person.
We really furnished her with a most delightful entertainment and she
never even guessed it," declared Nance.

"I'm glad she didn't," remarked Molly. "It was cruel, I think. Suppose
she had caught on? Do you think it would have helped her? And we would
have been uncomfortable."

"Suppose she did understand and pretended not to. The joke would have
been decidedly on us," put in Katherine.

Later events of that evening would seem to bear out this suggestion,
although just how deeply, if at all, Minerva was implicated in what
followed no one could possibly tell. It was a question long afterwards
in dispute whether one person had managed the sequel to the Literary
Evening, or whether there had been a confederate. Certainly it seemed
that every imp in Bedlam had been set free to do mischief, and if
Minerva, as arch-imp, was looking for revenge, she found it.

"I don't like to appear inhospitable, girls, but it's five minutes of
ten and I think you'd better chase along," said Margaret Wakefield.

But when Judy laid hold of the knob and tried to open the door, it would
not budge.

"It won't open," she exclaimed. "What's to be done?"

What was to be done? They pulled and jerked and endeavored to pry it
open with a silver shoe horn and a pair of scissors, and at last Jessie,
as the smallest, was chosen to climb over the transom and go for help.
It was five minutes past ten, and they prudently turned out the lights.

"Let me get at that knob just once before we work the transom scheme,"
ejaculated Margaret, who was very strong and athletic.

"People always think they can open tin cans and doors and pull stoppers
when other people can't," observed Judy sarcastically.

Margaret treated this remark with contemptuous indifference. Seizing the
knob with both hands, she turned it and, putting her knee to the jamb,
pulled with all her force. The arch fiend on the other side must have
turned the key at this critical moment, for the door flew open and the
president tumbled back as if she had been shot from a catapult, knocking
a number of surprised poets and authors into a tumbled heap. They were
all considerably bruised and battered, and Margaret bit her tongue; a
severe punishment for one whose oratory was the pride of the class.

"Hush," whispered Jessie, who alone had escaped the tumble, "here comes
the house matron."

Softly she closed the door, and the girls waited until the danger was
over. Then Margaret hastened to examine the keyhole.

"There's no key in it," she whispered, speaking with difficulty, because
her tongue was bleeding from the marks of two teeth.

Whoever played the trick must have unlocked the door, jerked the key out
and fled the instant the matron appeared at the end of the corridor.
There was no time to discuss the mystery, however. She would be coming
back in two minutes. Again they waited in silence until they heard the
swish of her dress as she went past the door, now left open a crack in
order that Judy, lying flat on her stomach on the floor, and enjoying
herself immensely, might be on the lookout.

"Come on," she hissed, as the large, rotund figure of Mrs. Pelham was
lost in the darkness, and out they scuttled like a lot of mice loosed
from the trap.

But the evening's adventures were not over.

As Judy, in advance of Molly and Nance, pushed open their door, already
ajar, a small pail of water, placed on the top of the door by the
arch-imp, whoever she was, fell on Judy's head and deluged her. It
contained hardly a quart of water, but it might have been a gallon for
the wreck it made of Judy's clothes and the room.

"Oh, but I'll get even with somebody," exclaimed that enraged young
woman.

They turned on the green-shaded student's lamp and drew the blinds, the
night watchman being very vigilant at the dormitories, and began
silently mopping up the floor with towels.

Judy removed her wet clothes, and unbound her long hair, light in color
and fine as silk in quality.

"I can't go to bed," she announced, "until I find out what's happened to
the Gemini," and without another word she crept into the corridor.

"Nance," whispered Molly, when they were alone, "if Minerva Higgins did
this, she's about the boldest freshman alive to-day. But, after all, we
can't exactly blame her, considering what we did to her."

"She is taking great chances," replied Nance, who had a thorough respect
for college etiquette and class caste. "Every pert freshman must be
prepared for a call-down; and if she doesn't take it like a lamb, she'll
just have to expect a freeze-out. It's much better for her in the end.
If Minerva were allowed to keep this up for four years, she would be
entirely insufferable. She's almost that now."

"Don't you think she could find it out without such severe methods?"

"Severe methods, indeed," answered Nance indignantly. "Do you call it
severe to be asked to sup with the brightest girls in Wellington?
Margaret's speech alone was worth all the humiliation Minerva might have
felt; but she didn't feel any. Do you consider that rough, crude jokes
like this are going to be tolerated?"

"But we don't know that Minerva played them, yet," pleaded Molly. "I do
admit, though, that it must have been a very ordinary person who could
think of them. Margaret might have been badly hurt if she hadn't fallen
on top of the rest of us."

Presently Judy came stalking into their bedroom.

"It's just as I expected," she announced. "The Williamses' bed was full
of carpet tacks and Mabel Hinton fell over a cord stretched across her
door and sprained her wrist. She has it bound with arnica now."

"I don't see how Minerva could have had time to do all those things,"
broke in Molly.

There are some rare and very just natures--and Molly's was one of
them--which will not be convinced by circumstantial evidence alone.

"She would have had plenty of time," argued Judy. "It would hardly have
taken five minutes provided she had planned it all out beforehand.
Besides, it's easy for you to talk, Molly. You didn't bite your tongue,
or sprain your wrist, or get a ducking; or undress in the dark and get
into a bedful of tacks. You escaped."

"Disgusting!" came Nance's muffled voice from the covers.

"It is horrid," admitted Molly. "Whoever did it----"

"Minerva!" broke in Judy.

"--must have a very mistaken idea of college and the sorts of amusement
that are customary."

So the argument ended for the night.



CHAPTER V.

VARIOUS HAPPENINGS.


Guilty or innocent, Minerva Higgins displayed an inscrutable face next
day, and the juniors, lacking all necessary evidence, were obliged to
admit themselves outwitted; but they let it be known that jokes of that
class were distinctly foreign to Wellington notions, and woe be to the
author of them if her identity was ever disclosed.

In the meantime, Molly was busy with many things. As usual she was very
hard up for clothes, and was concocting a scheme in her mind for saving
up money enough to buy a new dress for the Junior Prom. in February. She
bought a china pig in the village, large enough to hold a good deal of
small change, and from time to time dropped silver through the slit in
his back.

"He's a safe bank," she observed to her friends, "because the only way
you can get money out of him is to smash him."

The pig came to assume a real personality in the circle. For some
unknown reason he had been christened "Martin Luther." The girls used to
shake him and guess the amount of money he contained. Sometimes they
wrote jingles about him, and Judy invented a dialogue between Martin
Luther and herself which was so amusing that its fame spread abroad and
she was invited to give it many times at spreads and fudge parties.

The scheme that had been working in Molly's mind for some weeks at last
sprung into life as an idea, and seizing a pencil and paper one day she
sketched out her notion of the plot of a short story. It was not what
she herself really cared for, but what she considered might please the
editor who was to buy it as a complete story, and the public who would
read it. There were mystery and love, beauty and riches in Molly's first
attempt. Then she began to write. But it was slow work. The ideas would
not flow as they did for letters home and for class themes. She found
great difficulty in expressing herself. Her conversations were stilted
and the plot would not hang together.

"I never thought it would be so hard," she said to herself when she had
finished the tale and copied it out on legal cap paper. "And now for the
boldest act of my life."

With a triumphant flourish of the pen, she rolled up the manuscript and
marched across the courtyard to the office of Professor Green.

"Come in," he called, quite gruffly, in answer to her knock. But when
she entered, he rose politely and offered her a seat. Sitting down again
in his revolving desk chair, he looked at her very hard.

"I know you will think I have the most colossal nerve," she began, "when
you hear why I have called; but I really need advice and you've been so
kind--so interested, always."

"What is it this time?" he interrupted kindly. "More money troubles?"

"No, not exactly. Although, of course, I am always anxious to earn
money. Who isn't? But I have a writing bee in my head. I've had it ever
since last winter, although I confined myself mostly to verse----"

Molly paused and blushed. She felt ashamed to discuss her poor rhymes
with this learned man nearly a dozen years older than she was.

"There's no money in poetry," she went on, "and I thought I would switch
off to prose. I have written a short story and--I hope you won't be
angry--I've brought it over for you to look at. I knew you looked over
some of Judith's stories."

"Of course I shan't be angry, child. I'm glad to help you, although I am
not a fiction writer and therefore might hardly be thought competent to
judge. Let's see what you have." He held out his hand for the
manuscript. "On second thought," he continued, "suppose you read it
aloud to me. Girls' handwriting is generally much alike--hard to make
out."

Molly, trembling with stage fright, her face crimson, began to read.
The professor, resting his chin on his interlocked fingers, turned his
whimsical brown eyes full upon her and never shifted his gaze once
during the entire reading, which lasted some twenty-five minutes. When
she had finished, Molly dropped the papers in her lap and waited.

"Well, what do you think of it? Please don't mince matters. Tell me the
truth."

The professor came back to life with a start. She knew at once that he
had not heard a word.

"Oh, er--I beg your pardon," he said. "Very good. Very good, indeed.
Suppose you leave the manuscript with me. I'll look it over again
to-night."

She rose to go. After all she had no right to complain, since she had
asked this favor of a very busy man; but she did wish he had paid
attention.

"Wait a moment, Miss Brown, there was something I wanted to say. What
was it now?" He rubbed his head, and then thrust his hands into his
pockets. "Oh, yes. This is what I wanted to say--have an apple?" A flat
Japanese basket on the table was filled with apples. "Excuse my not
passing the basket, but they roll over. Take several. Help yourself."

He made Molly take three, one for Nance, one for Judy and one for
herself. Then he saw her to the outer door, bowing silently, all the
time like a man in a dream.

The next morning the manuscript was returned to Molly by the professor
after the class in Literature. It was folded into a big envelope and
contained a note. The note had no beginning and was signed "E. G." This
is what it said:

  "Since you wish my true opinion of this story, I will tell you
  frankly that it is decidedly amateurish. The style is heavy and
  labored and the plot mawkishly sentimental and mock heroic.

  "Try to think up some simple story and write it out in simple
  language. Do not employ words that you are not in the habit of
  using. Be natural and express yourself as you would if you were
  writing a letter to your mother. Write about real people and real
  happenings; not about impossibly beautiful and rich goddesses and
  superbly handsome, fearless gods. Such people do not really exist,
  you know, and you are supposed to be painting a word picture of
  life.

  "You have talent, but you must be willing to work very hard. Good
  writing does not come in a day any more than good piano playing or
  painting. I would add: be yourself--unaffected--sincere--and your
  style will be perfect."

Molly wept a little over this frank expression of criticism, although
there did seem to be an implied compliment in the last line. She reread
the story and blushed for her commonplaceness. Surely there never had
been written anything so inane and silly.

For a long time she sat gazing at the white peak of Fujiyama on the
Japanese scroll.

"Simple and natural, indeed," she exclaimed. "It's much harder than the
other way. Unaffected and sincere! That's not easy, either." She sighed
and tore the story into little bits, casting it into the waste-paper
basket. "That's the best place for you," she continued, apostrophizing
her first attempt at fiction. "Nobody would ever have laughed or cried
over you. Nobody would even have noticed you. My trouble is that I try
too hard. I am always straining my mind for words and ideas. Now, when I
write letters, how do I do? I let go. I never worry. Can a story be
written in that way?"

"How now, Mistress Molly," called Judy, bursting into the room. "Why are
you lingering here in the house when all the world's afield? Get thee up
and go hence with me unto the green woods where we are to have tea,
probably for the last time before the winter's call."

"Who's 'we'?" asked Molly.

"Why, the usual crowd, and a few others from Beta Phi House."

"But you'll never have enough teacups to go around, child," objected
Molly.

"Oh, yes, we shall. There are two other tea baskets coming from Beta
Phi. There will be plenty and some over besides. Rosomond Chase and
Millicent Porter were so taken with my basket last year that they
each bought one. Of course Millicent's is much finer than mine or
Rosomond's."

"I dare say. But I don't think I want to go, Judy."

The truth was Molly never felt in sympathy with those two Beta Phi
girls, who represented an element in college she did not like. They
dressed a great deal, for one thing, especially Millicent Porter, the
girl who had sub-let Judith Blount's apartment the year before.

"Now, Molly, I think you're unkind," burst out Judy. She never could
endure even small disappointments. "They are awfully nice girls and they
want to know you better. They said they did."

"Well, why don't they come and see me? That's easy."

Judy did not reply. She was pulling down all the clothes in the closet
in a search for Molly's tam and sweater. She was in one of her queer,
excited moods. Could it be that Judy thought the sparkling coterie from
Queen's was being honored by these two rich young persons from Beta
Phi? Molly rejected the suspicion almost as soon as it entered her mind.
No, it was simply that poor old Judy was obsessed with a desire to get
into the "Shakespeareans," and by courting the most influential members
she thought she could make it.

Molly pulled her slender length from the depths of the Morris chair
where she had been lolling.

"Very well," she said resignedly. "I was meditating on my ambitions when
you broke in on me. You are a very demoralizing young person, Judy."

Judy laughed. She made a charming picture in her scarlet tam and
sweater.

"Come along," she cried, "and ambitions be hanged." She seized her tea
basket under one arm and a box of ginger snaps under the other.

"Why, Judy, I am really shocked at you," exclaimed Molly. "I think I'll
have to give you another shaking up before long. You're getting lax and
lazy."

"Nothing of the sort. I only want to enjoy life while the weather is
good. It's lots easier to think of ambitions on rainy days."

The other girls were waiting on the campus: the Williamses, Margaret and
Jessie, Nance and presently the two Beta Phi girls. Rosomond Chase was a
plump, rather heavy blonde type, always dressed to perfection and bright
enough when she felt inclined to exert her mind. Millicent Porter was
quite the opposite in appearance; small, wiry, with a prominent,
sharp-featured face; prominent nose, prominent teeth and rather bulging
eyes. She talked a great deal in a highly pompous tone, and her voice
always slurred over from one statement to another as if to ward off
interruption. She seemed much amused at this little escapade in the
woods, quite Bohemian and informal.

The Queen's girls could hardly explain why she appeared so patronizing.
It was her manner more than what she said; although Margaret insisted
that it was because she monopolized the conversation.

"We didn't go to listen to a monologue," Margaret thundered later when
they were discussing the tea party. "We came to hear ourselves talk."

What surprised Molly was the attention that the young person of
unlimited wealth bestowed upon her.

"Come and sit beside me, Miss Brown, and tell me about Kentucky," she
ordered.

"I am afraid I haven't the gift of language," replied Molly, without
budging from her seat on a log. "Ask Margaret Wakefield. She's the only
conversationalist in the crowd."

"I suppose Mahomet must go to the mountain, then," observed Miss Porter,
and she moved graciously over to the log, where she regaled Molly with a
great deal of wordy talk.

"If she's going to do all the conversing, it might as well be on
something interesting," thought Molly, and she started Millicent on the
topic of silver work. This young woman, rich beyond calculation, had an
unusual talent which had not been neglected. She worked in silver.

"Her natural medium," Edith had observed when she heard of it.

She could beat out chains and necklaces, rings of antique patterns,
beautiful platters with enameled centers with all the skill of a real
silversmith.

Molly listened with polite interest to Millicent's lengthy description
of her art. There was often an unconscious flattery in the sympathetic
attention Molly gave to other people's talk. It had the effect of
loosening tongues and brought forth confidences and heart secrets. She
was a good listener and the repository of many a hidden thought.

"I am only going to college, you know, to please papa," Millicent was
saying. "He thinks I should be finished off like a piece of statuary or
a new house. I would much rather do things with my hands. I can't see
how I am to be benefited by all these classics. In the sort of life I
shall lead they won't do me any good. Society people never quote Latin
and Greek or make learned references to early Roman history and things
of that sort. It isn't considered good form. Modern novels are the only
things people read nowadays, but papa is determined. Now, with silver
work, it's quite different. I love it. I love to make beautiful things.
I have just finished a grape-vine chain. The workmanship is exquisite.
My sitting room is my studio, you know, and I work there when I am not
busy with stupid books. You seem interested. Do you know anything about
silver work?"

Molly admitted her ignorance on the subject, but Millicent did not pause
to listen. Her voice slurred over from the question to her next
outburst.

"I like beautiful rich colors. I intend to design all the costumes for
the next Shakespearean performance. If I had been born in a different
sphere in life, I should have divided my time between silver work and
costuming. I can draw, too, but it's more designing than anything else."

Then Millicent, encouraged by Molly's sympathetic blue eyes, lowered her
voice and plunged into confidences.

"The truth is," she said, "we were not so--er--well-to-do two
generations ago. My great-grandfather was an Italian silversmith. Isn't
it interesting? He was really an artist in his way, and made wonderful
vessels for the church, crucifixes, and things like that. I tell mamma I
believe her grandfather's soul has entered into my body. But that isn't
all. Now, if I tell you this, will you promise never to breathe it? It's
really a family secret, but it accounts for my love of rich, beautiful
things. I can sew, you know. I adore to embroider. If I had to, I could
easily make all my own clothes----"

"But that's nothing to be ashamed of," broke in Molly.

"No, no. That isn't the secret. The secret is where I got the taste for
such things. You promise not to mention this?"

"I promise," replied Molly gravely, repressing the smile that for an
instant hovered on her lips.

"The silversmith grandfather had a brother who was a merchant. He had a
shop in Florence where he sold all sorts of beautiful fabrics, velvets
and brocades and lots of antique things."

"No doubt it was an antique shop," thought Molly.

"Mamma remembers it well, and the shop is still there to-day, but it's
in other hands."

Molly felt much amusement at this explanation of heredity. It would not
be difficult to add a few lines to Millicent's small, thin face and
place it on the shoulders of the old silversmith or of his brother, the
dealer in antiques. How would they feel if they could hear this
granddaughter conversing about society and the classics?

"But I have rattled on. Here I have told you two family secrets. But of
course they will go no farther. You know more about me than any girl in
Wellington. Won't you come over to dinner with me Saturday evening and
see my studio?"

"I am so sorry," said Molly, "but I have an engagement,"--to try to
write a sincere, natural, simple short story, she added, in her mind.

"Oh, dear, what a nuisance! Can you come Sunday? They have horrid early
dinners Sunday, but no matter."

Molly was obliged to accept, anxious as she was to keep out of the Beta
Phi crowd.

"By the way, do you act?" asked Millicent abruptly.

"A little," answered Molly, and that ended the tea party.

In the evening Judy was slightly cold to Molly. It was almost
imperceptible, so subtle was the change, and Molly herself was hardly
aware of it until her friend, stretched on the couch reading, suddenly
closed her book with a snap and remarked:

"Considering you dislike the Beta Phi girls, you certainly managed to
monopolize one of them."

"Judy!" remonstrated Nance, shocked at this unaccountable exhibition of
temperament.

Molly said nothing whatever, and presently she slipped off to bed.

"We've all got our faults," she kept saying to herself, but she was
bitterly hurt, nevertheless.



CHAPTER VI.

"THE BEST LAID SCHEMES."


Judy did have her failings, the faults of an only child spoiled by
indulgent parents. But they were only on the surface, impulsive flashes
of irritability that never failed to be followed by deep, poignant
regret when the tempest had passed.

The next morning Molly was wakened by the fragrance of violets, and,
opening her eyes, she looked straight into the heart of a big bunch of
those flowers lying on her chest.

"Goodness, I feel like a corpse," she exclaimed.

Scrawled on a card pinned to the purple tissue ribbon around the stems
of the violets was the following inscription:

  "For dearest Molly from her devoted and loving Judy."

"The poor child must have got up early this morning and gone down to the
village for them," she said to Nance. "And she does hate getting up
early, too."

Thus the coldness between the two girls came to a temporary end. Molly
did not go to the Beta Phi House to dinner on Sunday. Millicent sent
word that she was ill with a headache and would like to postpone the
visit. Some of the Shakespeareans came to the apartment of the three
girls to call one evening, but they were Judy's friends, invited by her
to drop in and have fudge, and Molly and Nance kept quiet and remained
in the background. If Judy was working to get into the Shakespeareans,
she should have the field to herself. The three visitors, seniors all of
them, left early, but in some mysterious way the news of their call
spread through the Quadrangle.

"Which of you is boning for the 'Shakespeareans'?" Minerva Higgins
demanded of Nance next day.

This irrepressible young person had already acquired a smattering of
college slang and college gossip. But still she had not learned the
difference between a freshman and a junior.

Nance drew herself up haughtily.

"Miss Higgins," she said, "there are some things at Wellington that are
never discussed."

"_Excuse me_," said Minerva, making an elaborate bow.

But Nance did not even notice the bow. She had gone on her way like an
injured dignitary.

The air was certainly full of rumors, however. Everybody, even the
faculty, wondered upon whose shoulders the Shakespeareans' highly
coveted honors would fall. The new members of this distinguished body
were always chosen after the junior play, preparations for which were
now under way. There had been first a stormy meeting of the class. It
was quite natural for President Wakefield to want all her particular
friends to form the committee to choose a play and select the actors,
and it was equally human of the Caroline Brinton forces to resent the
old clique rule. But Margaret was a mighty leader and would brook no
interference. So the Queen's girls were the ruling spirits of the
entertainment. Judy was chairman of the committee, and was to have the
principal part in the play, it being tacitly understood that she wanted
to show the Shakespeareans what she could do.

It was like the scholarly group to give a wide berth to the modern
comedies and melodramas usually selected by juniors for this
performance, and to settle on "Twelfth Night."

"We can never do it," Caroline Brinton had announced in great vexation.
"We haven't time and we have no coach."

But she had been calmly overruled and "Twelfth Night" it was to be, with
daily rehearsals except on Saturdays, when there were two.

Molly was cast for the part of Maria, the maid. And she was glad,
chiefly because the costume was easy. Judy was to play Viola, Edith
Williams, Malvolio, and the other parts were variously distributed,
Margaret being Sir Toby Belch.

When a college girl reaches her junior year her mind is well trained to
concentrate and memorize. Two years before, perhaps only Edith Williams,
whose memory was abnormal, would have trusted herself to memorize a
Shakespearean part. But the girls were amazed now at their own powers.
Miss Pryor, teacher of elocution, was present at many of the rehearsals,
criticizing and suggesting, and hers was the only outside assistance the
juniors had in their ambitious production.

It was probably through her that the accounts of their ability were
noised abroad, and on the night of the play there was a great rush for
seats. The president herself was there and many of the faculty.
Professor Green had a front balcony seat looking straight down on the
stage.

"Goodness, but I'm scared!" exclaimed Molly, peeping through the hole in
the curtain at the large assembly.

"Heaven help us all," groaned Nance, dressed as an attendant of the
Duke.

"Don't talk like that," Judy admonished them. "We must make it go off
all right. Molly, don't you forget and be too solemn. Your part calls
for much merriment, as the notes in the book said."

"Don't you be so dictatorial," said Nance, under her breath, hoping
instantly that Judy, in a high state of nerves and excitement, had not
heard her.

When the seniors began thumping on the floor with their heels and the
sophomores commenced clapping, Molly's mind became a vacuum. Not even
the first line of her part could she recall.

At last the curtain went up and the play began. She had no idea how Judy
had conducted herself. A girl near her said:

"She certainly had an awful case of stage fright, but she'll be all
right in the next act."

The words had no meaning to Molly, and she sat like a frozen image in
the wings until Nance touched her on the shoulder and whispered:

"Hurry up."

Then she stepped into the glare of the footlights. Her blood ceased
entirely to circulate. Her hands became numb. Icy fingers seemed to
clutch her throat, and when she opened her mouth to speak, no voice
came. She remembered making a fervent, speechless prayer.

In an instant her blood began to flow normally. She felt a wave of
crimson surge into her cheeks, and she heard her own voice speaking to
Margaret, stuffed out with sofa cushions to resemble Sir Toby Belch.

When the scene was over there was a great clapping of hands. It sounded
to Molly like a sudden rainstorm in summer. And, like a summer shower,
it was refreshing to the young actors in the great comedy.

"Good work, Molly," Margaret whispered. "I think we carried that off
pretty well. If only Judy doesn't get scared again the thing will go all
right."

"Did Judy have stage fright?" demanded Molly, in surprise.

"You mean to say you didn't know? She almost ruined the scene."

"Poor old Judy," thought Molly, "and just when she wanted to do her
best, too."

Judy did improve considerably as the play progressed, but even a
friendly audience has an unrelenting way of retaining first impressions;
or perhaps it was that poor Judy, sensitive and high strung, imagined
the audience was cold to her and so allowed her spirit to be quenched.
There were no cries for "Viola" from the people in front, and there were
many for Malvolio, Sir Toby and Maria.

Again and again these three actors came forth and bowed their
acknowledgment. During the intermission several of the freshmen ushers
carried down bouquets of flowers. Jessie received two from admirers who
appeared to keep a running account at the florist's in the village. A
splendid basket of red roses and a bunch of violets were handed over the
footlights for Molly, and when she was summoned from the wings to appear
and receive these floral offerings she flushed crimson and remarked to
the usher:

"There must be some mistake. They couldn't be for me."

A ripple of laughter went over the entire house. There was another burst
of applause which again brought Miss Molly Brown of Kentucky into
prominence through no fault of her own.

The card on the magnificent basket of roses made known to her the fact
that Miss Millicent Porter had thus honored her. The card on the violets
merely said: "From a crusty old critic who believes in your success."

"I thought Millicent Porter had a big crush on you," observed Margaret
later in the green room. "There's no doubt about it now after this noble
tribute."

"Nonsense," said Molly. "It's because she has so much money and likes to
spend it."

"On herself, yes, buying clothes and big lumps of silver to play with;
but not on you, Molly, dear, unless she had been greatly taken with your
charms."

Molly had seen a few college crushes and considered them absurd, a kind
of idol worship by a young girl for an older one; but because she had
been so closely with her own small circle, she had escaped a crush so
far.

"I'll never believe it," she said. "I'm much too humble a person to be
admired by such a grand young lady. She sent the roses because she had
to recall her invitation to dinner."

"Only time will prove it, Miss Molly," answered Margaret.

The play ended with a grand storm of applause and college yells. Not in
their wildest dreams had the juniors hoped for such success.

"It's difficult to tell who was the best, they were all so excellent,"
the president was reported to have said.

Finally, to satisfy the persistent multitude, each actor marched slowly
in front of the curtain, and each was received with more or less
enthusiasm.

"Rah-rah-rah; rah-rah-rah; Wellington--Wellington--Margaret Wakefield,"
they yelled; or "What's the matter with Molly Brown? She's all right.
Molly--Molly--Molly Brown."

In the intoxicating excitement of this fifteen minutes nobody realized
that Judy had withdrawn from the group of actors and hidden herself away
somewhere behind the scenery. There was some speculation in the audience
as to why Viola had not filed across the stage with the others, but
since Judy's really devoted friends were all behind the scenes, there
was no one to bring her out unless she chose to show herself with the
others.

"Wasn't it simply grand?" cried Jessie, the last to taste the sweets of
popularity. The hall was still ringing with:

"Jessie--Jessie--she's all right!" when she bowed herself behind the
curtain and joined her classmates in the green room. Then there came
cries of:

"Speech! Speech! Wakefield! Wakefield!"

Margaret, as composed as a May morning, stepped to the front of the
platform and gave one of her most appropriate addresses to the joy of
the audience and the intense amusement of the faculty.

"Think of that child, only eighteen, and making such a speech! They are
certainly a remarkable group of girls. So much individuality among
them," said Miss Walker to Miss Pomeroy, at her side.

"And rare charm in some of the individuals," added Miss Pomeroy. "The
little Brown girl, for instance, who, by the way, is as tall as I am,
but so thin that she seems small, has magnetism that will carry her
through many a difficulty in life. They tell me she is almost adored by
her friends."

In the meantime the juniors, entirely unconscious of these compliments
from high places, and perhaps it was quite as well they were, had just
missed Judy from their midst.

"Didn't she go before the curtain with the rest of us?" some one asked.

"But how strange, when she had the leading part."

"I thought I heard them give her the yell."

"Judy, Judy," called Molly.

"Here I am," answered a muffled voice from behind the scenery.

Presently Judy appeared, showing a face so white and tragic that her
friends were shocked. With a tactful instinct most of the girls
hurriedly gathered their things together and disappeared, leaving only
the intimates in the green room.

"Why, Judy, dearest, why did you hide yourself, and you the leading lady
of the company?" exclaimed Molly reproachfully, when all outsiders had
departed.

"Don't flatter me, Molly," Judy answered, in a hard, strained voice.

"But you were," said Molly, "and you acted beautifully."

"I ruined the play," said Judy angrily. "I ruined the entire business,
and you made me do it."

"Oh, Judy," cried Molly, "you are talking wildly. What do you mean?"

"You did. You upset me completely when you said: 'don't be so
dictatorial.' I never heard you make a speech like that before. And
just as I was about to go on, too. It was cruel. It was unkind. If it
had come from any one else but you----"

"Here--here," broke in Margaret. "Really, Judy, you're losing your
temper."

"She never said it, anyhow," cried Nance. "I said it myself."

"She did say it, Nance. You're just trying to screen her," replied Judy,
who had worked herself into a nervous rage.

"Is this going to be a free fight?" asked Edith, who always enjoyed
battles.

Molly was gathering up her things.

"Not as far as I am concerned," she answered, in a trembling voice.

As she went out she looked sorrowfully back at Judy, but not another
word did she say.

"Aren't you ashamed of yourself, Judy Kean?" cried Nance. "You're
jealous and that's the whole of it," and she flung herself out of the
door after Molly. The others quickly followed. Certainly sympathy was
against Judy.

And what of poor Judy left all alone in the gymnasium?

Torn with anger, remorse, jealousy and disappointment, she threw herself
face downward on the empty stage.

Presently the janitor came in and switched off the lights.



CHAPTER VII.

A MIDNIGHT ADVENTURE.


Molly and Nance had little to say to each other that night as they
undressed for bed. Nance was still filled with hot indignation over
Judy's "falling-off" as she called it, and Molly had no heart for
conversation. The door to Judy's bedroom at the other end of the sitting
room was closed and they were not surprised when she did not call "good
night" as was her custom. Nobody looked in on them. It was late and the
Quadrangle was soon perfectly still.

Under the sheets, her head buried in the pillows, Molly cried a long
time, softly and quietly, like a steady downpour of rain. It seemed
somehow that her beloved friend, Judy, had died, and that she was
grieving for her. At last, worn out, she fell asleep. It was a very
heavy sleep. She felt as if her arms were tied and she was sinking down
into space and, as is always the case with dreams of falling, she waked
with a nervous leap as if her body had hit the bed and rebounded. As she
fell she had dreamed that she heard a voice calling. Never mind what it
said; already the word, whatever it was, was a mere pin point in her
memory. It had flashed through her mind like a shooting star across the
sky. It was brilliantly illuminating for the instant. Molly was sure
that it meant a great deal. It was an important word, and it had an
urgent significance. For the tenth of a second her mind had been wide
awake, and now it was quite dark again.

Molly leaped out of bed and began pulling on her clothes.

"Why am I dressing?" she thought. "It is because I must--_hurry!_"

"Hurry," that was the word. It came back to her now, quietly and
significantly.

Nance wakened and sat up in bed.

"What is it?" she asked.

"I don't know. I must hurry. Don't stop me," answered Molly.

Nance looked at her curiously.

"You've had a nightmare, Molly," she said.

Molly glanced up vaguely as Nance switched on the light.

"Have I? I don't know, but I must make haste, or I'll be too late."

"Too late for what?"

"I don't know yet."

"Wake up, Molly. You're asleep. Nothing is going to happen. You are
here, in your own room."

"Yes, yes. I understand, but I must hurry. Don't stop me, Nance. You may
come if you like, but don't stop me."

Nance had often heard that it was dangerous to awaken sleepwalkers too
suddenly, and she believed now as she saw Molly slipping on her skirt
and sweater that she was certainly asleep.

"Dearest Molly," she insisted. "This is college. You are in your own
room. It's a quarter to twelve. Don't go out of the room."

Molly took no notice. Nance turned on another light and slipped across
to Judy's room. She must have help, and Judy was the nearest person.

"Judy's not in her room," she exclaimed suddenly, in a scared voice.

Molly gave a slight shudder.

"It's Judy who needs me," she said. "I was trying to remember. I
couldn't make it out at first. Put on your things, Nance. Don't delay.
Put out the light. We must hurry."

Nance got into a few clothes as fast as she could. She slipped on tennis
shoes and an ulster and presently the two girls were standing in the
corridor.

"Where are we going, Molly?" asked Nance, now under the spell of the
other's conviction.

"This way," answered Molly, looking indeed like a sleepwalker as she
glided down the hall to the main steps.

If the girls had glanced back they would have noticed a figure creep
softly after them.

"But the gate is locked," objected Nance.

"I know, but we'll find another way. Come on."

Down the steps they hastened noiselessly. At the bottom, instead of
going straight ahead, Molly turned to the left and led the way to a
sitting room for visitors on the ground floor of the tower. The windows
of the Tower Room, as it was known, looked out on the campus. They were
small, deep-silled, and closed with iron-bound wooden shutters like the
doors into the cloisters. Mounting a bench, Molly opened the inside
glass casement of one of the windows and drew back the bolt which
secured the shutter. Then she hoisted herself onto the sill, crawled
through the window, and holding by both hands dropped to the ground.
Nance, of a more practical temperament, wondered how they would ever get
back into the Tower Room; but blind, unquestioning faith is an
infinitely stronger staff to lean upon than uneasy speculation, as Nance
was one day to find out.

"When the night watchman makes his rounds, will he see the window open
in the tower?" she thought. "And if he does, what will he do? Give the
alarm at once or try to find out our names and report us? If he reports
us, what then? We may be expelled, or suspended or punished in some
awful way."

So Nance's thoughts busily shaped out these tragic events as she
followed Molly out of the window and dropped to the gravel walk below.
The tower clock struck twelve while the two girls flitted across the
campus. It was a strange adventure, Nance pondered, and one she would
never have undertaken, or even considered, alone. But then her instincts
were not like Molly's. The inner voice which spoke to her sometimes was
usually the sharp, reproving voice of a Puritan conscience. It spoke to
her now, but she turned a deaf ear to it for once.

It told her how absurd she would appear to other people in this
dangerous midnight escapade; what risks she was running. Judy, of
course, had spent the night with one of the other girls, it said. It
troubled her mind with whispers of doubts and fears; it ridiculed and
abused her, but not once did it weaken her determination to follow
Molly wherever she intended to go. And presently, when Molly quickened
her footsteps into a run, Nance kept right at her elbow like a noonday
shadow, foreshortened and broadened.

Molly turned in the direction of the lake. Nance's heart gave a violent
thump. She had believed all along that they were taking a short cut
across to the gymnasium, instead of following the gravel walk.

"Molly, you don't think----" she began breathlessly.

"Don't talk now. Hurry," was Molly's brief reply.

Across a corner of the golf course they flew, and before Nance could
take breath for another dash through a fringe of pine trees she caught
sight of the waters, as black as ink. She clutched Molly's arm.

"Did you hear anything?" she asked, in a frightened whisper.

They waited a moment, straining their ears in the darkness.

From the middle of the lake came the sound of a canoe paddle dipping
into the water.

Molly breathed a sigh of relief.

"It's all right," she said, and they hastened down to the platform of
the boathouse.

In another moment they had launched a small rowboat and were out on the
lake.

"Will Judy Kean never learn sense?" Nance thought impatiently. "She's
just like a prairie fire. It only takes a spark to set her going and
then she burns up everything in sight."

Nance had never been able to understand why Judy could not hold her
passionate, excitable temperament more in control. She, herself, had
learned self-denial at an early age. But that was because she had a
selfish mother.

"How did you ever guess she would be here, Molly?" she asked, as the
prow of the boat cut softly through the waters of the lake with a
musical ripple.

Nance was rowing, and Molly, who had never learned to handle oars, was
sitting facing her.

"I don't know. I can't explain it. I dreamed that some one said
'hurry,' and the lake seemed to be the place to come to."

Some two hundred feet beyond they now made out the silhouette of a
canoe. Judy--of course it was Judy; already they recognized the outline
of her slender figure--kneeling in the bottom of the boat, had stopped
paddling. She held up her head like a startled animal when it scents
danger. It occurred to Nance, watching her over her shoulder as they
drew nearer, that there was really something wild and untamed in Judy's
nature. She remembered that, the first morning they had met her at
Queen's, Judy had laughingly announced that she had been born at sea on
a stormy night. But it was no joking matter, Nance was thinking, and she
fervently wished that Judy would learn to quell her troubled moods.

The next instant the two boats touched prows. The little canoe, the most
delicate and sensitive craft that there is, quivered violently with the
shock of the collision and sprang back. As it bounded forward again,
Molly held out her hand. Instinctively Judy grasped it, and the two
boats drew alongside each other.

"Crawl into our boat, Judy, dearest," said Molly. "It will be easier to
pull the canoe to shore if it's empty."

Judy prepared silently to obey. But a canoe is not a thing to be
reckoned with at critical moments. Just as Judy raised her foot to step
into the other boat, the treacherous little craft shot from under her,
and over she toppled, headforemost into the waters. Fortunately, she was
an excellent swimmer, and the star diver of the gymnasium pool. But the
lake was not deep, and when she came up, sputtering and puffing, she
found herself standing in water that was only shoulder high.

Nance often thought, in looking back on this painful episode, that
nothing they could have said to Judy would have brought her so
completely to her senses as this cold ducking. Certainly, if Judy had
actually planned to jump into the lake, her wishes were most ludicrously
carried out, and the struggle she now made to climb back into the boat
showed that she was not anxious to stay any longer than she could help
in the icy bath. It was a sight for laughter more than for tears,
sensible Nance pondered with a slight feeling of contempt--that of Judy,
struggling and kicking to draw herself into the boat. Indeed, she almost
managed to upset them, too; but she did tumble in somehow, shivering and
wet but extremely contrite.

"How did you know I was out here?" was the first question she put, when,
having seized the rope on the prow of the canoe, they headed for shore.

"I didn't know. I only guessed," answered Molly.

"She was up and dressed before she even knew you were not in your room,"
announced Nance.

"I was a fool," exclaimed Judy, "and I know now what good friends you
are to have come for me. I don't know exactly what I intended to do out
here," she went on brokenly. "I felt ashamed to face any one, even mamma
and papa. I might----" she broke off, shivering. Rivulets of water were
pouring from her wet clothing into the bottom of the boat. She still
wore the costume she had worn in the last scene of the play.

"I'll give you my ulster as soon as we land, Judy," said Nance, rowing
with long rapid strokes which sent the boat skimming over the water.

"I'm just a low-down worthless dog," went on Judy, taking no notice of
Nance's interruption. "There's no good trying to apologize, Molly. Words
don't mean anything. But when the chance comes--and the chance always
does come if you want it--I'll be able to show you how sorry I am for
what I did, and how much I really love you."

"You showed me what a real friend you were last winter, Judy," broke in
Molly, "when you gave up your room at Queen's for my sake. I wasn't
angry about what happened at the gym. I was hurt of course because I'm a
sensitive plant, but I knew it would be all right in the end because we
are too close to each other now to let a few hasty words come between
us. But here we are at the boat landing."

Having tied the two boats in the boat house, which was never kept
locked, they hurried back to college. Nance insisted upon Judy's putting
on her ulster.

"You know I'm never cold," she said.

"You girls will just kill me with kindness," exclaimed Judy humbly.

But Nance did not even hear this abject speech. The question of how they
were to get back into the Quadrangle was occupying her mind.

"We're taking an awful risk," she observed to Molly, in a low voice.
"There is no other way but the window, I suppose."

"I can't think of any other way," answered Molly, "unless we ring the
bell over the gate and alarm the entire dormitory."

"Suppose the night watchman has closed the window? What then?" demanded
Nance.

"Why, we'll just have to find some other way, then," answered her
optimistic friend.

But the window in the Tower Room was wide open, just as they had left
it.

The doubting Nance still had another theory.

"Suppose the night watchman has left it open on purpose to catch us when
we come back?" she suggested.

"I do wish you would stop hunting up troubles, Nance," ejaculated Molly
irritably. "I never found supposing did any good, anyhow."

Nance, thus rebuked, said nothing more.

Molly, boosted by the other girls, pulled herself onto the window sill
and climbed into the room. She looked about her cautiously. But Nance's
fears were groundless so far. The room was perfectly empty.

"Let down a chair," whispered Judy.

There were no small chairs about, however, and she was obliged to choose
a bench.

"How are we to get it back again?" she asked, after Nance had clambered
in, and Judy, halfway through, paused to consider this question.

"Hurry, the watchman," hissed Nance, on the lookout at the door. "He's
coming down the side corridor."

The next instant Judy had leaped into the room, and the three girls were
tearing along the hall and up the steps, Judy leaving a trail of water
behind her. The watchman had seen them. They could hear the beat of his
steps on the cement floor as he ran. The fugitives reached the upper
corridor just as he arrived at the first landing on the stairs.

"Kick off your pumps, Judy, and pick up your skirts. He'll trace us by
the wet trail if you don't."

Another dash and they were in their sitting room, the door locked behind
them. Oh, blessed relief!

Judy, in her stocking feet, was holding up her skirts with both hands.
Nance had seized one of the slippers and she thought that Molly had the
other.

But the final excitement of that eventful night was veiled in mystery.

As they had burst into their sitting room, some one ran swiftly across
the room, through the passage into Judy's room and into the corridor.
They dared not follow and run the risk of meeting the night watchman,
probably standing at that moment at the end of the corridor trying to
trace that path of water, which, thanks be to Nance's prudence, ended
there and was lost on the green strip of carpet.

Below in the Tower Room the windows of the casement flapped back and
forth in the wind which was rising steadily, and on the path below stood
that telltale bench.

"Anyhow," said Molly, "there's only one person who knows we were out
to-night and, whoever she is, she can't tell without giving herself
away."



CHAPTER VIII.

COVERING THEIR TRACKS.


When the dressing bell rang next morning, three heavy-eyed and extremely
weary young women felt obliged to pull themselves together and appear at
the breakfast table. Judy had caught cold, and to disguise this
condition had plastered pink powder on her nose, and now held her breath
almost to suffocation to avoid coughing in public.

"Have you heard the news?" demanded Jessie, hurrying in late and sitting
next to Nance.

"Why, no. What is it?" asked Nance calmly.

Molly felt the color rising in her cheeks, and Judy buried her snuffles
in a long letter from her mother.

"There's the greatest tale going around the Quadrangle! Everybody is
talking about it," continued Jessie. "One of the chambermaids started
it, I think, because she told it to me just now."

"What is it?" asked Edith Williams impatiently.

"Some of the Quadrangle girls were out last night gallivanting. They
climbed through the Tower Room window, left a bench outside and the
window open. I suppose the watchman frightened them before they could
hide all traces."

"That sounds like a wild freak," commented Katherine. "What do you
suppose they were doing?"

"They might have been doing lots of things," replied Jessie
mysteriously. "The maid said the watchman thought they had been driving
or motoring with some Exmoor boys."

"Whew!" ejaculated a sophomore. "I'm sorry for them if they are found
out. I happen to know Prexy's feelings about escapades like that."

"Why? Were you ever caught?"

"No, of course not. Don't you see me sitting here at the table? But my
older sister was in the class with a girl who was caught. She was a
campus girl."

"What happened to her?" demanded Judy, forgetting her cold in the
interest of the story.

"Bounced," answered the sophomore briefly.

The Williamses and Jessie looked at Judy with mixed feelings of
surprise; not because they noticed her cold or regarded it with any
suspicion, but because, when they had parted company with her the night
before she had been in the throes of a jealous rage and had spoken most
insultingly to her best friend. Their glances shifted to Molly. The two
girls were seated side by side. Judy was leaning affectionately against
Molly's shoulder while they looked together at a picture post card sent
by Mary Stewart from France.

"All bets are off," whispered Edith to her sister. "They have made it
up. Molly is an angel of forgiveness. We were wrong for once."

"And Margaret was correct."

"A pound of Mexican kisses and two pounds of mixed chocolates," said
Margaret in Edith's other ear. "I've won my bet, I hope you'll take
notice."

"We were just taking notice," answered Edith.

"But there's some more of the story," piped out Jessie again. "Don't you
want to hear the most exciting part?"

"Heavens, yes. Did they catch them?" asked several voices.

"No, no, but one of the girls was wet," announced Jessie impressively.
"She left a trail of water after her all the way up the steps."

"I should think they could have traced her by that," said Margaret.

"They could have if she had kept on trailing, but she must have
remembered and held up her skirt, for it stopped right there."

"Wise lady," put in Katherine.

"She must have been canoeing and not driving, then," observed Margaret.
"Else why the significant fact of wet clothes?"

"Nice night to go canoeing in, cold and dark. Strange notion of
pleasure," remarked Edith.

"Well, there's more still to come," announced Jessie, when they had
finished commenting on this remarkable escapade.

"For heaven's sake, Jessie, you're like a serial story of adventure--a
thriller in every chapter. What now?"

"Well," said Jessie, "you may well prepare for a thriller this time. The
watchman found something."

"What? What?" they cried, and Nance, Judy and Molly joined in the chorus
with as much excitement as any of the others.

"He found a slipper."

Judy made an enormous effort to keep her hand from trembling, as she
raised her coffee cup to her dry, feverish lips. Molly, as usual under
excitement, changed from white to red and red to white. Nance alone
seemed perfectly calm.

"I don't see how they can prove anything by that," she observed. "There
are probably fifty girls or even a hundred who wear the same size shoes
here. Molly is the only girl I know of who wears a peculiar size, six
and a half triple A."

"Well, 'one thing is certain and the rest is lies,' as old Omar
remarked," said Margaret, rising from the table, "and that is, all
juniors can prove an alibi last night. No junior would ever go
gallivanting on the night of the junior play."

"Hardly," answered Nance, who had risen to the occasion with fine spirit
and tact. Molly's face resumed its normal color and Judy looked
relieved.

"The thing they will have to do," said Edith, "is to find the other
slipper. And if the owner of that slipper takes my advice she'll drop it
down the deepest well in Wellington County."

Molly and Nance and Judy hurried through breakfast and rushed back to
their apartment. They locked all the doors carefully and gathered in
Judy's room.

"We have nearly fifteen minutes before chapel," said Nance, speaking
rapidly. "Judy, are your things dry? Get them quickly. They may search
our rooms. Miss Walker is pretty determined once she's roused, I hear."

Judy gathered up the stiff, rough-dry garments that had been hanging on
the heater all night, while Molly found tossed in a corner the mate to
the fatal slipper. Judy held up Viola's dress of old rose velvet.

"It's ruined," she exclaimed, "and that's another complication.
Suppose----"

"Don't suppose," interrupted Molly hastily, snatching the dress away
from her. "Hurry, Nance, where shall we put them?"

For a temporary safe hiding place they chose the interior of the upright
piano. Then they hastily made their beds, set their dressing tables to
rights and dashed off to chapel just as the matron appeared on an
ostensible tour of inspection.

It was possible that she was not being very vigilant with the juniors,
however, that particular morning, knowing that they were one and all
engaged in producing a very important play the night before. At any
rate, she only glanced casually around, saw nothing incriminating and
departed to the next room.

The president looked grave and worried at chapel, but, contrary to
expectations, she had nothing to say after the prayer.

"It's a bad sign," observed a student. "When Prexy doesn't say anything,
she means business."

Except for a few moments at lunch, the three girls did not meet in
private consultation again until late in the afternoon. There was a busy
sign on their study door. Molly smiled knowingly to herself, and gave
the masonic tap.

"It's a good idea," she thought, "and will keep out inquisitive people
until we decide what to do."

She found Judy stretched on the sofa, feverish and coughing, while Nance
was dosing her with a large dose of quinine and an additional dose of
sweet spirits of niter.

"You're going to kill me, Nance," Judy was grumbling.

"For heaven's sake, be quiet," scolded Nance. "You haven't any voice to
waste. Molly, will you make her a hot lemonade? I think we had better
get her to bed and cover her up with all the comforts so as to bring on
a perspiration."

"Only one?" inquired Judy.

"Get up from there and go to bed," ordered Nance. "The inspection is
over and there won't be any chance of another one to-day. You'll have to
miss supper to-night. We'll say you have one of your sick headaches."

Judy obediently got out of her things while Molly flew around making hot
lemonade, and Nance hung a blanket over the heater and pulled down their
three winter comforts off a shelf in the closet.

Judy meekly allowed herself to be smothered under a mountain of covers,
while she drank the lemonade with childish enjoyment.

"You always make good ones, Molly, darling, because you put in enough
sugar. I'll probably be melted into a fountain of perspiration like
Undine, only she went away in tears," she complained presently.

"That's the object of the treatment," answered Nance sternly. "Whatever
is left of you after the melting process is over is quite well of the
cold."

Molly could have laughed if she had not been thinking of something else
very hard.

The two girls sat down on the divan and began a subdued and earnest
conversation.

"What are we to do with these things, Molly? We can't leave them in
the piano because the moment some one sits down to play we'll be
discovered."

"Murderers take up the planks in the floor and hide their bloodstained
clothing underneath," observed Molly. "But we can't do that, of course."

They took the bundle from its hiding place and looked over the garments.

"I have an idea," announced Nance, who had many practical notions on the
subject of clothes. "Suppose we take the dress to the cleaner's in the
village and have it steamed."

"Why can't we steam it ourselves over the tea kettle?" demanded Molly.
"We can and we'll do it right now and press it on the wrong side. If it
hadn't been so much admired, it wouldn't matter so very much, but some
one's sure to ask to see it or borrow it or something. How about the
underclothes? Can't we smooth them out with a hot iron before they go to
the laundry?"

They set to work at once to heat water and irons, and presently were
engaged in restoring the old rose velvet to a semblance of its former
beauty.

"What are we going to do about that slipper?" demanded Molly, pausing in
her labors.

"I've made up my mind to that," replied Nance. "We must bury it."



CHAPTER IX.

THE GRAVE DIGGERS.


Three times during the night Molly and Nance crept into Judy's room and
looked at her anxiously. She seemed to be sleeping heavily, but she
tossed about the bed with feverish restlessness, and her forehead was
burning hot.

Early in the morning the faithful friends were up again, tipping about
like two wraiths of the dawn in their trailing dressing gowns.

"I'll bathe her face and hands before she takes any tea," said Molly.
"She's awake. I saw her open her eyes when I peeped in just now."

Judy was awake and sitting bolt upright when they presently entered with
the basin and towels. There was a strange look in her eyes. Molly
remembered to have seen it before when Judy was in the grip of the
wander thirst.

"Here you are, Sweet Spirits of Niter," she cried, in a hoarse, excited
voice. "Knowst thou the land of Sweet Spirits of Niter?" she began
singing. "Knowst thou the Sweet Spirits? They are tall, slender, gray
ladies done in long curving lines, like that." She illustrated her ideas
of these strange beings by sketching a picture on an imaginary canvas.
"They lean against slim trees. They have soft musical voices and speak
gently because they are sweet. You see? And the Land of Niter, what of
it? It is a land of gray mists, always in twilight, and the Sweet
Spirits who live in it are shadows. It is a sad land, but it is still
and quiet and there are cool fountains everywhere. Sweet spirit, wouldst
give me to drink of thy cup?"

Molly and Nance laughed. They knew that Judy was delirious, but it was
impossible not to laugh over her strange, poetic illusion regarding
sweet spirits of niter. Setting down the basin and towel, they retreated
to the next room.

"We'd better make her a cup of beef tea as quickly as we can," said
Nance. "That will quench her thirst and nourish her at the same time.
Good heavens, Molly, what shall we do if she begins to talk about the
slipper and the lake?"

"I don't know," replied Molly, lighting the alcohol lamp, while Nance
found the jar of beef extract. "I wish you hadn't given her so much
physic, Nance." Molly had a deep-rooted objection to medicine, while
Nance, on the other hand, was a firm believer in old-fashioned remedies.
"Her stomach was in no condition for all that stuff. It was utterly
upset. Her gastric juices had been lashed into a storm and hadn't had
time to subside."

Nance smiled at Molly's ignorance.

"You are getting the emotions and the stomach mixed, Molly, dear."

Now, Molly had her own ideas on this subject, but it was vain to argue
with her friend, the actual proprietor of a real medicine chest marked
"Household Remedies," which contained more than a dozen phials of
physics.

Judy was, in fact, paying the penalty for her mental storm when on the
night of the play she had run through the whole scale of emotions,
beginning with stage fright and an awful fear and passing into
mortification, disappointment, rage, remorse and finally sorrow, or it
might be called self-pity, which inspired her to launch a canoe and
paddle into the middle of the lake at midnight. It will never be known
how near she came to jumping into the lake. It is difficult to reckon
with an unrestrained, hypersensitive nature like hers, always up in the
heights or down in the depths; sometimes capable of splendid acts of
generosity and unselfishness, but capable also of inflicting cruel
punishments for imagined offences.

Nance was for more medicine.

"Suppose I give her a big dose of castor oil, Molly," she suggested,
while she stirred the tea. "She had better take it before she drinks
this."

"Goodness, Nance, you'll kill her," exclaimed Molly, horrified. "Don't
you see that it is entirely a mental thing with Judy? What she needs is
absolute quiet, and the quinine has probably excited her and made her
delirious. She doesn't need things to stimulate her. She's almost
effervescent in her normal condition, anyhow."

"Castor oil isn't a stimulant, child."

"Perhaps not, but she'd better not be upset any more," and in the end
Molly had her way.

Returning in a few moments to bathe Judy's face, she found the sick girl
half out of bed.

"Get back into bed, Judy," she said firmly. "You're to have a nice quiet
day in here and no one to bother you."

"But the slipper. I'm looking for the other slipper," began Judy,
weeping. "Oh, dear, I must find the slipper. Nance, Molly, the slipper,
have you seen the slipper, the old oaken slipper, the iron-bound slipper
that hangs in the well. If it's in the well now, drop it to the bottom.
I hope it's a deep well, the deepest well in Well County."

It was unkind to laugh, but Molly could not keep her countenance.

"I might have known," she thought, "that Judy could be more delirious
than anybody in the world."

Judy submitted to having her face bathed and drank the beef tea without
a murmur. She appeared greatly refreshed and quieted and said a few
rational words about having had bad dreams.

It was Sunday morning, frosty and bright. The bell of the Catholic
Church in the village called devotees to early mass. It rang out
joyfully and persuasively, reiterating its message to unbelievers. It
was a cheerful sound and, in spite of Judy's troubles, they felt
comforted. The steam heat began its pleasant matins in the pipes. The
kettle on the alcohol stove hummed busily. Molly began to make
preparations for breakfast. Although she was not self-indulgent,
discomfort was never an acceptable state to her.

"Get your bath, Nance," she ordered, "and then you can come back and
make the toast while I take mine."

Nance departed for the bathrooms with soap and towels, while Molly
busied herself spreading a lunch cloth on one of the study tables and
placing a blue china bowl full of oranges in the center. Then she
carefully extracted four eggs from a paper bag in a box on the outer
window ledge; cut four thin, even slices of bread to be inserted in
Judy's patent electric toaster, and at intervals poured boiling water
through the dripper into the coffee pot.

"If I were at home this morning," she said, "I would be eating hot
waffles and kidney hash."

Suddenly she looked up. Judy was standing in the doorway.

"Molly," she said, "I want my slipper."

Molly took her hand and gently led her back to bed.

"Judy, would you like a cup of delicious, strong, hot coffee?" she
asked, endeavoring to divert Judy's quinine-charged senses.

"Very much, but the slipper----" Judy began to whimper like a child.

Molly hurried into the next room, found one of Nance's slippers and
gravely handed it to Judy, who grasped it carefully with both hands as
if it were something very precious and brittle.

"When I gave her your slipper, Nance, I felt something like the old
witch who had kidnapped the Queen's infant and put a changeling in its
place," Molly observed later, in telling about this incident to Nance.
"But there is nothing to do but humor her, I suppose, until the
influence of the quinine wears off."

"Where has she got it now?" asked Nance, ignoring Molly's allusions to
quinine.

"What? The changeling slipper? Under her pillow."

Nance laughed.

"I'm thinking, Molly," she remarked, "that to-day would be an excellent
time to get rid of that other slipper. I don't feel as if I could sleep
comfortably another night in these rooms with the guilty thing around.
Until we dig a hole and bury it deep, we shall never have any peace of
mind."

Molly was carefully peeling the shell from the end of an egg.

"Do you think we could leave her alone this afternoon?" she asked. "How
long does quinine continue its ravages?"

"Oh, not long," answered Nance, in a most matter of fact voice. "She's
such a sensitive subject, that is the trouble. Quinine doesn't usually
make people take on so. I never met any one so excitable and high strung
as Judy. She gets her nerves tuned up to such a high pitch sometimes
that I wonder they don't snap in two."

"Nance, don't you think we ought to confess the whole thing to Miss
Walker?"

"Do you think Judy would ever forgive us if we did?"

Molly sighed.

"I'm afraid not," she said. "Confessing would involve so much. We
would have to go back so far to the original cause, those wretched
Shakespeareans. It would be pretty hard on poor old Judy. But the
slipper, Nance--it's such a ridiculous thing, our hiding that slipper.
Where shall we hide it?"

"We must dig a grave and bury it," said Nance, "and we must do it this
afternoon and get the thing off our minds. Then all evidence will be
destroyed and there will be no possible way of finding out about Judy."

"You have forgotten about the visitor to our room in the night."

"Yes," admitted Nance, "there is that visitor. Who was she? What did she
want? You haven't missed anything, have you?"

"No," replied Molly. "I have nothing valuable enough to steal except old
Martin Luther, and he's quite safe."

She reached for the china pig on the bookshelves and shook him
carefully. His interior gave out a musical jingle.

Clothed and fed and comforted, the two girls leaned back in their Morris
chairs, with extra cups of coffee resting on the chair arms, to consider
the question of Judy's slipper. At last they came to a mutual agreement.

Otoyo, the safest, discreetest and least inquisitive of their friends,
was to be taken partly into their confidence and left to look after Judy
while they went on their mysterious errand. Otoyo, who had the racial
peculiarity of the Japanese of never being surprised at anything,
accepted this position of trust without a comment. Few students took
Sunday morning walks at Wellington, and therefore morning was the safest
time for the expedition. Judy, reënforced with a soft-boiled egg and a
cup of coffee, appeared perfectly rational and quiet. She surrendered
the slipper without a murmur, and turning over on her side dropped off
to sleep. A Not-at-Home sign was hung on the door and Otoyo was
cautioned not to let any one into Judy's room. She was to say to all
callers that Judy had a headache and was asleep.

Dressed for a tramp, with Judy's slipper in one of the deep pockets of
Nance's ulster, and a knife, fork and table spoon for digging purposes
in the other, the two girls presently left Otoyo on the floor immersed
in study. They had scarcely closed the door when Judy called from the
next room:

"Bring me that slipper, Otoyo."

And the little Japanese, with a puzzled look on her face, obeyed.

As they hastened down the corridor, hoping devoutly not to meet intimate
friends, Molly and Nance were stopped by the irrepressible Minerva
Higgins.

"Isn't this a stroke of luck?" she exclaimed. "You are going for a walk
and so am I. I was just on the lookout for somebody. Girls here are so
industrious Sunday mornings, I can never get any one to go walking until
afternoon."

Molly was silent. At that moment she yearned for the courage of Nance,
who with a word could scatter Minerva's cheeky assurance like chaff
before the wind.

"It's lack of character, I suppose," she thought disconsolately. "But I
couldn't crush a fly, much less that presumptuous little freshman."

She stood back, therefore, and let Nance have a clear field for the
struggle.

"You are very kind to offer us your company, Miss Higgins, but we must
beg to be excused to-day," said Nance calmly.

"I call that a nice, Sunday-morning, Christian spirit," cried Minerva,
with an angry flash in her small, pig-like eyes.

"No, no, Minerva," put in Molly gently. "You must not think that way
about it. Nance and I have some important business to discuss, that's
all. You mustn't imagine it's unkind when older girls turn you down
sometimes. You know it isn't customary here for a freshman to invite
herself to join an older girl. I believe it isn't customary in any
college. Don't be angry, please."

Hidden under layers of vanity, selfishness and stupid assurance, was
Minerva's better self which Molly hoped to reach, and some day she would
break through the crust, but not this morning.

"Don't tell me anything about upper-class girls--conceited snobs! I know
all about them," exclaimed Minerva angrily, as she marched down the
corridor in a high state of rage.

"Don't bother about her. She's a hopeless case, just as Margaret said,"
remarked Nance.

Once off the campus, they followed the path along the lake and turned
their faces toward Round Head as being the spot most apt to be
deserted at that hour in the morning. It was not long before they were
climbing the steep hill.

"Where shall we lay it to rest, poor weary little _sole_?" asked Nance,
laughing.

"Let's dig the grave on the Exmoor side," answered Molly. "Behind one of
those big rocks is a good spot. We'll be hidden from sight and the
ground is softer there."

[Illustration: THEY SET TO WORK TO DIG A SMALL GRAVE FOR JUDY'S
SLIPPER.--_Page 129._]

Talking and giggling, because after all they were entirely innocent of
any wrongdoing, they set to work to dig a small grave for Judy's
slipper.

"When the earth casts up its dead on the Day of Judgment, Nance, do you
suppose this slipper will seek its mate?"

"I hope it won't seek it any sooner," answered Nance dryly.

At last the grave was ready. They laid the slipper in the hole,
carefully covered it with earth, and concealed all evidences of recent
disturbance with bits of grass and splinters of rock.

Then Molly, leaning against the side of the boulder and clasping her
hands, remarked:

"Let this be its epitaph:

    "'Under the wide and starry sky
      Dig the grave and let me lie;
      Glad did I live and gladly die,
      And I laid me down with a will.

    "'This be the verse you 'grave for me:
      Here he lies where he longed to be;
      Home is the sailor, home from the sea,
      And the hunter home from the hill.'"

Scarcely had the last words died on her lips when Nance gave a low,
horrified exclamation. Molly glanced up quickly. Just above them in the
shadow of another big rock stood Professor Green in his old gray suit.
So still was he that he might have been a part of the geological
formation of the hill, planted there centuries ago. Molly felt the hot
blood mount to her face. How long had he been there? How much had he
seen? What did he think? Forcing its way through all these wild
speculations came another thought: there was a brown coffee stain on one
of his trouser legs. She tried to speak, but the words refused to come,
and before she could get herself in hand, the professor coldly lifted
his hat and walked away.

In his glance she read DISAPPOINTMENT as plainly as if it had been
written across his brow in letters of fire.

"Oh, Nance," she cried, and burst into tears.

"He won't tell, even if he has seen," Nance reassured her. "Don't mind,
Molly, dear. Come along. I'm not afraid."

"It's not that! It's not that!" sobbed Molly. But then, of course, Nance
wouldn't understand what it really was, because she hardly understood it
herself. He believed, of course, that she had gone rowing with some
Exmoor boys after ten o'clock. He had heard the story of the slipper.
Everybody had heard it. It was the talk of college. For a moment Molly
felt a wave of resentment against Judy. Then her anger shifted to
Professor Green.

"At least he might have given us a chance to explain," she exclaimed, as
she followed Nance along the lake path back to the campus.

As soon as they entered the room, a little while later, they saw by
Otoyo's face that something had happened.

"What is it?" they demanded uneasily.

"Oh," ejaculated Otoyo, raising both hands with an eloquent gesture, "it
was that terrible Mees Heegins. You had but scarcely departing gone when
there came to the door a rap-rap-rap--so. I thought it was you
returning, and when I open, she push her way in, so."

Otoyo gave an imitation of Minerva forcing her way into the sitting
room.

"She say: 'I wish to see Mees Kean on a particular business.' I say:
'Mees Kean has a sickness to her head.' She say: 'Move away, little
yellow peril. Don't interfere with me. I wish to inquire after her
health.' Then she make great endeavors to remove me from the door."

"And what did you do, Otoyo?" they asked anxiously.

Otoyo's face took on an expression half humorous and half deprecating.

"It will not make you angry with little Japanese girl?"

"No, of course not, child."

"I employ jiu jitsu."

The girls both laughed, and Otoyo, relieved, joined in the merriment.

"She receive no bruises, but she receive a shock, because it arrive so
suddenlee, you see? So she quietlee walk away and say no more."

"You adorable little Japanese girl," cried Molly, embracing her.

Nance opened the door and peeped into Judy's room.

She was sleeping quietly, the slipper clasped in both hands.



CHAPTER X.

A VISIT OF STATE.


Judy still slept the sleep of the exhausted. Her tired forces craved a
long rest after the storm that had lashed and beaten them. The girls
crept about the room softly and spoke in low voices, and when they went
down to the early dinner locked the door and took the key with them.
Later, fearing callers, again they hung out a Busy sign and settled
themselves comfortably for a peaceful afternoon. Nance, armed with a
dictionary and notebook, was translating "Les Misérables," a penitential
task she had set for herself for two hours every Sunday.

Molly was also engaged in a penitential task. She was endeavoring to
compose a story on simple and natural lines. It was very difficult. Her
mind at this moment seemed to be an avenue for bands of roving and
irrelevant thoughts and refused to concentrate on the work at hand. She
made several beginnings, as: "One blustering, windy day in March a
lonely little figure----" With a contemptuous stroke of her pencil, she
drew a line through the words and wrote underneath: "It was a calm,
beautiful morning in May----"

Twirling her pencil, she paused to consider this statement.

"No, no, that won't do," she thought. "It's entirely too commonplace."
She glanced absently over at the book Nance was reading. "Victor Hugo
would probably have put it this way: 'It was the fifteenth of May, 17--.
A young girl was hurrying along the Rue----. She paused at the house,
No. 11.' Oh, dear," pondered Molly, "one has to tell something very
important to write in that way. It's like sending a telegram. Just as
much as possible expressed in the fewest possible words. Can the
professor mean that? Would he mind if I asked him and then at the same
time, perhaps----" Again the wandering thoughts broke off. "It's rather
hard he should have misunderstood about this morning. Is there no way I
can explain without involving Judy? Oh, dear! Oh, dear! How complicated
life is, and what a complicated nature is Judy's."

There were two quick raps on the door. Molly and Nance exchanged
frightened glances. It was not the masonic tap of their friends, and no
one else would have knocked on a door which advertised a Busy sign.
There was, in fact, a note of authority in the double rap. Some instinct
prevented Nance from calling out "Come in," a matter later for
self-congratulation. She rose and opened the door and President Walker
entered. If Miss Walker had ever paid a visit to a student before, the
girls had not heard of it. It was, so far as they knew, an entirely
unprecedented happening and quite sufficient to make innocent people
look guilty and set hearts to pumping blood at double-quick time.

"I saw your Busy sign," said Miss Walker, glancing from one startled
face to the other, "but I shall not keep you long. What a pretty room,"
she added, looking about her approvingly.

"Thank heavens, it's straight," thought Nance, groaning mentally.

"Won't you sit down, Miss Walker?" asked Molly, pushing forward one of
the easy chairs.

The President sat down. There was a plate of "cloudbursts" on the table.
Would it be disrespectful to offer the President some of this delectable
candy? Nance considered it would be, decidedly so. But Molly, a slave to
the laws of hospitality, took what might be called a leap in the dark
and silently held the plate in front of the President. If this turned
out to be a visit of state it was rather a risky thing to do. But Miss
Walker helped herself to one piece and then demanded another.

"Delicious," she said. "Did you make it, Miss Brown?"

"Yes, Miss Walker."

It had been purely a stroke of luck with Molly, who had no way to know
that Miss Walker had a sweet tooth.

"I must have that recipe. What makes it so light?"

"The whites of eggs beaten very stiff, and the rest of it is just melted
brown sugar. It's very easy," added Molly, forming a resolution to make
the President a plate of "cloudbursts" without loss of time.

"Who is the third girl who shares this apartment with you?" asked Miss
Walker, unexpectedly coming back to business.

"Julia Kean."

"And where is she to-day?"

Nance hesitated.

"She is sick in bed to-day, Miss Walker."

"Ahem! Cold, I suppose?"

"It's more excitement than anything else," put in Molly. "The junior
play----"

"Oh, yes. She was 'Viola,' of course," said the President.

"You see she had a bad attack of stage fright," continued Molly, "and
Judy is so excitable and sensitive. She exaggerated what happened and it
made her ill."

"And what did happen? She forgot her lines, as I recall. But that often
occurs. Even professionals have been known to forget their parts. Ellen
Terry is quite notorious for her bad memory, but she is a great actress,
nevertheless."

The girls were silent. They wondered what in the world Miss Walker was
driving at.

"And then what happened next?"

They looked at her blankly.

"What happened next?" repeated Molly.

"Yes. I want you to begin and tell me the whole thing from beginning to
end."

Molly rested her chin on her hand and looked out of the window. This is
what had been familiarly spoken of in college as being "on the grill."

"What do you want us to tell, Miss Walker?" asked Nance with a
surprising amount of courage in her tones.

"I want to know," said the President sternly, "where you were between
twelve and one o'clock on Friday night."

"We were on the lake," announced Nance, with keen appreciation of the
fact that when President Walker made a direct question she expected a
direct answer and there was no getting around it.

"Alone?"

"Yes."

"You mean to tell me that you three girls went rowing on the lake alone
at that hour? What escapade is this?"

Her voice was so stern that it made Molly quake in her boots, but Nance
was as heroic as an early Christian martyr.

"It was not a mad escapade. We did it because we had to," she answered.

"Why?"

Nance paused. This was the crucial point. It looked as if Miss Walker
must be told about Judy's folly, or themselves be disgraced.

"They came for me," announced a hoarse voice from the door.

It was such an unexpected interruption that all three women started
nervously, but if Molly and Nance had been more observant they would
have noticed the President stifle a smile which twitched the corners of
her mouth.

Judy, in a long red dressing-gown, her hair in great disorder and her
eyes glittering feverishly, came trailing into the room. In one hand she
grasped Nance's slipper and with the other she made a dramatic gesture,
pointing to herself.

"They came for me," she repeated. "I had been angry and said cruel,
unjust things to Molly. Everybody went off and left me after the play. I
was locked out and I was so unhappy, I wanted to be alone. Water always
comforts me. You see, I was born at sea, and I took a canoe from the
boat house and paddled into the middle of the lake. Then those two Sweet
Spirits of Niter came for me, and the canoe upset and I--I dropped my
slipper somewhere, 5-B is the number--I don't know who found it--here's
its mate----" Judy waved the slipper over her head and laughed wildly.

"The child's delirious," exclaimed Miss Walker, smiling in spite of
herself.

They persuaded Judy to get back into bed and the President sent Nance
flying for the doctor. Presently, when Judy had dropped off to sleep
again, Molly finished the story of that exciting evening.

"But, my dear," said the President, slipping her arm around Molly's
waist and drawing her down on the arm of the chair, "what prompted you
to go to the lake and nowhere else?"

"I can never explain really what it was," replied Molly. "I dreamed that
someone said 'hurry.' I wasn't even thinking of Judy when I started to
dress. You see, we thought she had gone to bed. I hadn't thought of the
lake, either. It was just as if I was walking in my sleep, Nance said.
Then we found Judy wasn't in her room, and I knew she needed me. I
remember we ran all the way to the lake."

"Strange, strange!" said Miss Walker.

She drew Molly's face down to her own and kissed her. There were tears
on the President's cheek and Molly looked the other way.

"Sometimes, Molly," she said after a moment, "you remind me of my dear
sister who died twenty years ago."

It was a good while before Nance returned with Dr. McLean and in the
interval of waiting Molly and Miss Walker talked of many things. Molly
told her how they had buried the slipper on Round Head, and of how they
had seen the Professor and been frightened. They talked of Judy's
temperament and of what kind of mental training Judy should have to
learn to control her wild spirits. From that the talk drifted to Molly's
affairs, and then she asked the President to do her the honor of
drinking a cup of tea in her humble apartment. The two women spent an
intimate and delightful hour together, with Judy sound asleep in the
next room, and no one to disturb them because of that blessed Busy sign.

At last Dr. McLean came blustering in, and, seeing the President and
Molly in close converse over their cups of tea, chuckled delightedly and
observed:

"They are all alike, the women folk--the talk lasts as long as the tea
lasts, and there's always another cup in the pot."

"Have a look at your patient, doctor," said Miss Walker, "and we'll save
that extra cup in the pot for you."

The doctor was not disturbed over Judy's delirium.

"It's joost quinine and excitement that's made her go a bit daffy," he
said. "Keep her quiet for a day or so. She'll be all right."

Imagine their surprise, ten minutes later, when Margaret Wakefield
and the Williamses, peeping into the room, found Molly and Nance
entertaining the President of Wellington and Dr. McLean at tea. The news
spread quickly along the corridor and when the distinguished guests
presently departed almost every girl in the Quadrangle had made it her
business to be lingering near the stairway or wandering in the hall.

Only one person heard nothing of it, and that was Minerva Higgins, who,
after Vespers, had taken a long walk. Nobody told her about it
afterward, because she was not popular with the Quadrangle girls and
had formed her associations with some freshmen in the village. When it
was given out that evening that Miss Walker had come to see about Judy,
who had been quite ill, the talk died down.

Having dropped the heavy load of responsibility they had been carrying
for two days, Molly and Nance felt foolishly gay. Molly made Miss Walker
a box of cloudbursts before she went to bed, while Nance read aloud a
thrilling and highly exciting detective story borrowed from Edith
Williams, whose shelves held books for every mood.

"By the way, Nance," observed Molly, when the story was finished, "how
do you suppose Miss Walker found it all out?"

"Why, Professor Green, of course," answered Nance in a matter of fact
voice. "There was never any doubt in my mind from the first moment she
came into the room."

"What?" cried Molly, thunderstruck.

"There was no other way. He saw us burying the slipper and I suppose he
thought it his duty to inform on us."

"He didn't feel it his duty to inform on Judith Blount when she cut the
electric wires that night," broke in Molly.

"Perhaps he didn't think that was as wrong as rowing on the lake with
boys from Exmoor. Besides, she was his relative."

Molly took off her slipper and held it up as if she were going to pitch
it with all her force across the room. Then she dropped it gently on the
floor.

"I'm disappointed," she said.



CHAPTER XI.

A SWOPPING PARTY AND A MOCK TRIAL.


There was never any tedious convalescing for Judy; no tiresome
transition from illness to health. As soon as she determined in her mind
that she was well, she arose from her bed and walked, and neither
friendly remonstrances nor doctor's orders could induce her to return.

On Monday morning she appeared in the sitting room wearing a black dress
with widow's bands of white muslin around the collar and cuffs. Molly
and Nance were a little uneasy at first, thinking that the delirium
still lingered, but Judy seemed entirely rational.

"Why, Judy," exclaimed Molly, "are you a widow?"

"I shall wear mourning for awhile," answered Judy solemnly, ignoring
Molly's facetious question. "It is my only way of showing that I am a
penitent. I can't wear sackcloth and ashes as they do in Oriental
countries or flagellate my shoulders with a spiked whip like a mediæval
monk; nor can I go on a pilgrimage to a sacred shrine. So I have decided
to give up colors for awhile and wear black."

Molly kissed her and said no more. She knew that Judy went into
everything she did heart and soul even unto the outward and visible
symbol of clothes, and if wearing black was her way of showing public
repentance she felt only a great respect for her friend's sincerity of
motive.

"But what are we to tell people when they ask if you have gone into
mourning, Judy, because they certainly will?" demanded Nance, taking a
more practical and less romantic view of the situation.

"Tell them I'm doing penance," answered Judy, and thus it got out around
college that Judy was making public amends for her angry words to Molly,
and there was a good deal of secret amusement, of which Judy was as
serenely unconscious as a pious pilgrim journeying barefoot to a holy
tomb.

In the midst of these happenings there came a note one day from Mrs.
McLean inviting the three young girls to the annual junior week-end
house party at Exmoor. Their hosts were to be Andy McLean, George Green
and Lawrence Upton and they were to stay at the Chapter House from
Friday night until Sunday noon. It meant a round of gayeties from
beginning to end, but to Molly it meant something almost out of reach.

"Clothes!" she exclaimed tragically, "I must have clothes. I can't go to
Exmoor looking like little orphan Annie."

It was in vain that Judy and Nance offered to share their things with
her. Molly obstinately refused to listen to them.

"I won't need any colored clothes, anyhow," said Judy.

"Yes, you will, Judy. You just must come out of those widow's weeds for
the house party," Molly urged.

"No," said Judy, "I've made a vow and until that vow is fulfilled I
shall never wear colors. I've sent two dresses down to the Wellington
Dye Works to be dyed black. Fortunately my suit is black already and so
is my hat. Now, I have a proposition to make, Molly. I'm in need of
funds more than clothes just now and I'll sell you my yellow gauze for
the contents of Martin Luther. He must be pretty full by now."

"He's plumb full," answered Molly proudly. "I hadn't realized how much I
had put in until I tried to drop a quarter in this morning, and lo, and
behold, he couldn't accommodate another cent."

She held up the china pig and shook him.

"How much should you think he'd hold altogether?" asked Judy. "I don't
want to be getting the best of the bargain and perhaps Martin Luther is
worth more than the dress."

"No, no," protested Molly. "He could never be worth that much. I think
he has about fifteen dollars in his tum-tum. I've put in all the money
I earned from cloudbursts and about ten dollars, changed up small, for
tutoring."

Judy insisted on adding a blue silk blouse and a pair of yellow silk
stockings to the collection to be sold.

"I'll sell them to someone else if you won't buy them," she announced,
"and if you need a dress, you might as well take this one off my hands."

"Well," Molly finally agreed, "we'll break open Martin, and count the
money and, if there's anything like a decent sum, I'll buy the dress.
Let's make a party of it," she added brightly. "I'll cut the hickory-nut
cake that came from home last night, and Nance can make fudge."

It was like Molly's passion for entertaining to turn the breaking open
of the china bank into a festival. Nance had once remarked it was one
thing to have a convivial soul and quite another to have the ready
provisions, and Molly never invited her friends to a bare board.

"Try on the dress and let's see how you look in it, Molly dear," ordered
Judy. "We'll open the bank to-night with due ceremony, but I want to
see you in the yellow dress now."

The two girls were about the same height and build. Molly was not so
well developed across the chest as her friend and was more slender
through the hips. But the dress fitted her to perfection.

"Oh, you're a dream," cried Nance, when Molly presently appeared in the
yellow dress.

"Molly, you are adorable," exclaimed Judy. "You always look better in my
clothes than I do."

"They always fit me better than my own," said Molly, looking at herself
in the mirror over the mantel. "I feel like a princess," she ejaculated,
blushing at her own charming image. "Oh, Judy, I have no right to
deprive you of this lovely gown. Your mother, I'm sure, would be very
angry."

"Mamma is never angry," said Judy. "That is why I am so impossible.
Besides, I told you I needed the money. I have spent all my allowance
and I won't get another cent for two weeks."

Molly took off the dress and laid it carefully in the box, stuffing
tissue paper under the folds to prevent premature wrinkles. Her eyes
dwelt lingeringly on the pale yellow masses of chiffon and lace.

It would certainly be the solution of her troubles, and oh, the feeling
of comfort one has in a really beautiful dress! She put the top on the
box and pushed it away from her.

"I'll decide in the morning, Judy. I can't make up my mind quite yet. It
seems like highway robbery to take the most beautiful dress you have and
the most expensive, too, I am certain."

"I tell you I never liked the color," cried Judy. "I'm determined to
wear black. When I have on black I feel superior to all persons wearing
colors. It gives me dignity. There is a richness about robes of sable
hue. Some day I'm going to have a black velvet evening dress made quite
plain with an immense train stretching all the way across the room. My
only ornaments will be a great diamond star in my hair and a necklace of
the same, and I shall carry a large fan made of black ostrich
feathers."

The girls laughed at this picture of magnificence and as Molly hurried
away to invite the guests to the spread she heard Nance remark:

"You'll look like the bride of the undertaker in that costume, Judy."

"Not at all. I shall look like the Queen of Night, Anna Oldham."

Judy went to the door and looked out. Molly was safely around the corner
of the Quadrangle.

"Nance," she continued, "don't you think Molly would let me give her the
dress?"

Nance shook her head.

"I am afraid not. You know how proud she is. It's going to be hard to
persuade her to buy it at that price. You know it's worth lots more."

Judy sighed.

"If I could only do something," she said. "If I only had a chance."

"Perhaps the chance will slip up on you, Judy, when you least expect it.
That's the way chances always do," said Nance.

It occurred to Judy, thinking over the matter of the yellow dress later,
that it might be fun to have a "Barter and Exchange Party," and if all
the girls were swopping things Molly could be more easily persuaded to
take the yellow dress. All guests therefore were notified to bring
anything they wanted to swop or sell to the rooms of the three friends
that night.

It turned out to be a very exciting affair. The divans were piled with
exchangeable property. Jessie Lynch brought more things than anybody
else, ribbon bows, silk scarfs, several dresses and a velvet toque.
Millicent Porter, who now spent more time in the Quadrangle than at Beta
Phi House, to the surprise of the girls, brought a rather dingy
collection of things which no one would either swop or buy. But she
enjoyed herself immensely. Edith Williams made two trips to carry all
the books she wished to exchange for other books, clothes, hats or
money. But Otoyo Sen had the most interesting collection and was the
gayest person that night. She was willing to exchange anything she had
just for the fun of it.

It was so exciting that they forgot all about Martin Luther until the
time arrived for refreshments and they gathered about the hickory-nut
cake, now a famous delicacy at Wellington.

"What surprises me is how pleased everybody is to get rid of something
someone else is equally pleased to get," observed Margaret. "Now, for
instance, I have a black hat I have always hated because it wobbles on
my head. I feel as if I had received a gift to have exchanged it for
this green one of Judy's. And Judy's so contented she's wearing my black
one still."

"Oh, but I am the fortunate one," said Otoyo. "I have acquired an
excellent library for three ordinary cotton kimonos."

"But such lovely kimonos," exclaimed Edith. "Katherine and I are in
luck. Look at this pale blue dressing gown, please, for a French
dictionary."

"I have the loveliest of all," broke in Molly, "amber beads."

"But they did not appear becomingly on me," protested Otoyo, not wishing
to seem worsted in her bargains. "And what do I receive in exchange? A
pair of beautiful knitted slippers for winter time, so warm, so
comfortable."

"They were too little for me," announced Molly. "It was no deprivation
to exchange them for a beautiful necklace. Really, Judy, this was a most
original scheme of yours."

"But what about Martin Luther?" asked someone. "I thought this spread
was really for the purpose of counting up the pennies he had been
accumulating."

Molly took the china pig from the shelf and placed him on the table.

"How shall I break him?" she asked. "Shall I crush him with one blow of
the hammer, or shall I knock off his head on the steam heater?"

"Poor Martin!" ejaculated Edith. "He's not a wild boar to be hunted down
and exterminated. He's a kindly domestic animal who has performed the
task set for him by a wise providence. I think he should choose his own
death."

"Every condemned man has a right to a lawyer," said Margaret. "I offer
my services to Martin Luther and will consult him in private."

"We'll give him a trial by jury," broke in Katherine.

"But what's he accused of?" demanded Molly.

"He's accused of withholding funds held in trust for you," put in
Margaret promptly.

There was a great deal of fun at the expense of Martin Luther and his
mock trial. Katherine presided as Judge. There were two witnesses for
the defense and two on the other side, and Margaret's speech for the
accused would have done credit to a real lawyer. The jury, consisting of
three girls, Otoyo, Mabel Hinton and Rosomond Chase--Millicent Porter
had excused herself with the plea of a headache and departed--sat on the
case five minutes and decided that the pig should be made to surrender
Molly's fund in the quickest possible time and by the quickest possible
means.

It was almost time to separate for the night when Molly at last placed
Martin Luther on a tray in the center of the table and with a sharp rap
of the hammer broke him into little bits.

If interest had not been so concentrated on the amount of money hidden
in the pig, perhaps it might have occurred to the company that Molly
and her two friends had been playing a joke on them when they looked at
the heap of ruins on the tray. But if this suspicion did enter the mind
of anyone, it was dissolved at once at sight of Molly's white face and
quivering lips.

"My money!" she gasped.

What happened was this. When the china pig was demolished, there rolled
from his ruins no silver money but a varied collection of buttons and
bogus stage money made of tin. Only about a dollar in real silver was to
be found.

"What a blow is this!" at last exclaimed Molly, breaking the silence.

"But what does it mean?" demanded Rosomond.

"It means," said Nance, "that someone has taken all Molly's savings out
of the china pig and substituted--this."

She pointed to the pile of stage money.

"But they couldn't have done it," cried Judy. "How could they have
fished it up through such a small slot?"

"What a low, miserable trick!" cried Katherine.

It was a despicable action. Who among all the bright, intelligent
students at Wellington could have been capable of such a dastardly
thing? They agreed that it must have been a student. None of the college
attendants could have planned it out so carefully.

"Who else has missed things?" asked Margaret with a sudden thought.

"I have," replied Jessie, "but I never mentioned it because I'm so
careless and it did seem to be my own fault. I lost five dollars last
week out of my purse. I left it on the window sill in the gym. and
forgot about it. When I came back later the purse was there, but the
money was gone."

"How horrid!" cried Molly, her soul revolting in disgust at anything
dishonest.

"To tell you the truth I have not been able to find my gold beads for
nearly two weeks," put in Judy. "I haven't seen them since--" she paused
and flushed, "since the night of our play. I remember leaving them on
my dressing table that morning."

Molly and Nance exchanged glances, recalling the mysterious visitor to
their room that night.

Several of the other girls had missed small sums of money and jewelry
which they had not thought of mentioning at the time.

"But how on earth was this managed?" demanded Jessie, pointing
dramatically to the broken china pig.

"I suspect," replied Molly, "that this is not the real Martin Luther.
When I bought him there were several others just like him on the shelf
at the store. Whoever did this must have bought another Martin and the
stage money at the same time. They have a lot of it at the store, silver
and greenbacks, too. I saw it myself when I bought Martin. They keep it
for class plays, I suppose."

There was a long discussion about what ought to be done. The housekeeper
must be told, of course, next morning and a list of all missing
articles made out, headed by Molly's loss of almost fifteen dollars.

It was rather a tragic ending to the jolly hickory-nut cake party. Molly
tried to laugh away her disappointment about her savings, but she could
not disguise to herself what it actually meant.

"I'm afraid I can't buy your dress, Judy," she announced, when the
company had disbanded. "I'll mend up one of last year's dresses. It will
be all right. It's a lesson to me not to place so much importance on
clothes."

Judy said nothing, but she made a mental resolution that Molly should
have that dress.

The next morning the housekeeper was properly notified of what had
happened and it was not long before the rumor spread that somewhere
about college there dwelt a thief. So remote did such a person seem from
the Wellington girls that the thief came to be regarded as a kind of
evil spirit lurking in the shadows and gliding through the halls.



CHAPTER XII.

ALARMS AND DISCOVERIES.


Several things of importance to this history happened during the week
before the house party at Exmoor.

One morning, just before chapel, Molly was visited by several members of
the Shakespearean Society, who presented her with a scroll of membership
and fastened a pin on her blouse. They then solemnly shook hands and
marched out in good order. By this token Molly became a full fledged
member of that exclusive body. Margaret Wakefield, Jessie Lynch and
Edith Williams were also taken into the society. Most of the other girls
in the circle were elected to the various societies that day. Judy and
Katherine became "Olla Podridas," which, as all Wellington knows, is
Spanish for mixed soup. Nance was elected into the "Octogons," and all
the girls belonged to one or the other of the two big Greek letter
societies.

If Judy had any feelings regarding the Shakespeareans, she was careful
to keep them well hidden under her gay and laughing exterior.

The Shakespeareans at Beta Phi House gave a supper for the new members,
and later Millicent Porter, in a stunning, theatrical looking costume of
old blue velvet, received them in her rooms. Margaret and Edith wore
their best to this affair. The Shakespeareans were a dressy lot.

"I wonder why, in the name of goodness, they ever asked me to belong,"
exclaimed Molly to herself, as she got into her white muslin, which was
really the best she could do. "I wish I could surprise somebody with
something," her thoughts continued. "College friends are just like
members of the same family. I can't even surprise the girls with a
shirtwaist. They are intimately acquainted with every rag I possess."

Molly enjoyed the Beta Phi party, however, in spite of her dress, which
Millicent Porter had dignified by calling it a "lingerie."

"How much nicer you look than the other girls in more elaborate things,"
she said admiringly.

Molly felt gratified.

"I don't feel nicer," she said. "I have a weakness for fine clothes. I
love to hear the rustle of silk against silk. Your blue velvet dress is
like a beautiful picture to me. I could look and look at it. There's a
kind of depth to it like mist on blue water."

Millicent bridled with pleased vanity.

"It is rather nice," she admitted modestly. "It's a French dress made by
the same dressmaker who designs clothes for a big actress. Don't you
want to see some of my work? I have put it on exhibition to-night. I
thought it would interest the new members. The girls here are quite
familiar with it, of course."

Molly was delighted to see the craftsmanship of this unusual young
woman, who appeared to be a peculiar mixture of pretentiousness and
genius.

When, presently, she led Molly into the little den where her silver work
was spread out on view it was almost as if she had turned into a little
old man and was taking a customer into the back of his shop.

Some of the other girls had followed and they now stood in an admiring
circle around the table whereon were displayed rings and necklaces,
buckles and several silver platters.

"You are a wonder," cried Molly, deeply impressed.

Millicent accepted this compliment with a complacent smile.

"Papa and mamma think I am," she remarked, "but I have artistic
knowledge enough to know that this is only a beginning. When I am able
to make a bas-relief of Greek dancing figures on a silver box, I shall
call myself really great. At present I am only near-great."

"What are you going to do with these things?" asked Margaret.

"Oh, nothing. They just accumulate and I pack them away. I don't have
to sell any of them, of course."

"Don't you want to exhibit some of them at the George Washington
Bazaar?" asked Margaret. "The Bazaar will sell them for you at ten per
cent commission. The money goes to the student fund. You can have a
booth if you like and dress up as Benvenuto Cellini or some famous
worker in silver. I am chairman and can make any appointments I choose."

Molly could hardly keep from smiling over the expression on Millicent's
face. The worker in silver and the dealer in antiques were struggling
for supremacy in the soul of their descendant.

"Oh," she cried in great excitement, "I will fix it up like a Florentine
shop, full of beautiful old stuffs and curios. It will be the most
beautiful booth in the Bazaar. And I will choose Miss Brown to assist
me. You shall be dressed as a Florentine lady of the Renaissance. I have
the very costume."

Now Margaret, as Chairman of the Bazaar, preferred all appointments to
be made officially, but seeing that Millicent was very much in earnest
and that such a booth would greatly add to the picturesqueness of the
affair, she made no objections.

"There is one thing I would advise you to do, Miss Porter," she said
when the plan was settled, "and that is to keep your silver things under
lock and key because there is a thief about in Wellington. You might as
well know it, because, sooner or later, you'll lose something. We all of
us have. My monogram ring went this morning. I left it on the marble
slab in the wash room and when I came back for it not three minutes
later it was gone."

"Oh, dear!" exclaimed Molly, "I do hate things like that to happen. Why
will people do such things?"

Millicent shrugged her shoulders.

"Perhaps they can't help themselves," she answered. "I've lost a few
little things myself," she added. "But come into my room, Miss Brown,
and let's talk about your costume. I have a gold net cap that will be
charming."

For the next half hour Molly was lost in the delights of Millicent's
collection of beautiful theatrical costumes, pieces of old brocades and
velvets. She drew them carelessly from a carved oak chest and tossed
them on the bed in a shimmering mass of rich colors. Molly lingered so
late over these "rich stuffs" that she was obliged to run all the way
back to the Quadrangle and fell breathless and exhausted on a stone
bench just inside the court as the watchman closed the gates.

Nance and Judy were late, too. Nance had been to a secret conclave of
the Octogons and Judy had been having a jolly, convivial time with the
Olla Podridas. The three girls met in their sitting room as the last
stroke of ten vibrated through the building. They were undressing in the
dark stealthily, in order to avoid the eager eye of the housekeeper, who
was not popular, when they heard a great racket in the corridor.

"What's the matter? What's the matter?" called several voices through
half open doors.

The housekeeper making her rounds for the night passed them on the run.

"I've been robbed! I've been robbed!" wailed the voice of Minerva
Higgins. "I won't stand having my things stolen from me. Who has dared
enter my room?"

"What have you been robbed of?" asked the matron sharply. She was a lazy
woman and detested disturbances.

"Two of my best gold medals I won at Mill Town High School. They were
pure gold and very valuable."

"Good riddance," laughed Judy. "If anything in school could be spared,
it is her gold medals."

"You're only in the same box with all the rest of us, Miss Higgins,"
called a student who roomed across the hall. "Everybody in the
Quadrangle has lost something."

"They haven't lost gold medals," cried Minerva. "They haven't had them
to lose. I could have spared anything else. I valued them more than
everything I possess. They will be heirlooms some day for my children
to show with pride."

There were stifled laughs from several of the rooms, and someone called
out:

"Suppose you don't have any?"

"Then she'll leave 'em to her grandchildren," called another voice.

"Poor, silly, little thing," exclaimed Molly, as the matron, intensely
annoyed, went heavily past.

"Old Fatty's gone now. Let's light a lamp," suggested Judy, who either
felt intense respect or none at all for all persons. There was no
moderation in her feelings one way or the other.

"It's a queer thing about this thief-business," sighed Molly. "It makes
me uncomfortable. I can't think of anyone I could even remotely suspect
of such a thing."

"She must be a real klep.," observed Judy, "or she never would want the
fair Minerva's gold medals. They're of no use to anybody but Minerva."

"Do you suppose Miss Walker will get another detective like Miss Steel?"
asked Nance. "She was a fine one. The way she tipped around on
noiseless felt slippers and listened outside people's doors was enough
to scare any thief."

"Oh, yes," said Judy. "She was the real thing. And she wanted everything
quiet. If Minerva Higgins had set up a yowl like that at Queen's she
would have been properly sat upon by Miss Steel."

If Molly's mind had been especially acute that evening she would have
noticed that her two friends were keeping up a sort of continuous duet
as they lingered over their undressing. As it was, she barely heard
their chatter because she was thinking of something far removed from
thieves and detectives.

"We'll be called down about the light if you don't hurry, girls," she
cautioned. "Why are you so slow?"

"By the way, did you know there was a package over here on the table
addressed to you, Molly?" said Nance.

"Why, no; what can it be?"

Filled with curiosity, Molly made haste to cut the string around a
square pasteboard box. Whatever was inside had been wrapped in
quantities of white tissue paper.

"It feels like china," cried Molly, tearing off the wrappings. "Why
it's----"

"It's after ten, young ladies," said a stern voice outside the door.

Judy turned out the light.

"It's Martin Luther, girls," whispered Molly.

Judy crept to her room and returned presently with a little electric
dark lantern her father had given her. This she flashed on the china
pig.

"One sinner hath repented," she whispered. "It is Martin."

Nance reached for the hammer.

"Break him open," she ordered. "Let's, see if the money's safe. He might
be filled with stage money, too."

Molly struck Martin Luther with the hammer, muffling the sound with a
corner of the rug. The flashlight revealed quantities of silver.

"Oh, girls!" she exclaimed, "I've got it all back. I'm glad the thief
repented and I'm glad, oh, so glad, to get the money."

"And now the sale is on again," said Judy, jumping about the room in a
wild, noiseless dance.

"I can't resist it," ejaculated Molly. "I'll buy the dress if you really
want to sell it, Judy."

They looked carefully at the address on the box. It was printed with a
soft pencil and merely said: "Miss M. Brown."

"I suppose the girl felt sorry," Molly remarked. "But it's a pity she
started up so soon again after her repentance and took Minerva's
medals."



CHAPTER XIII.

"THE MOVING FINGER WRITES."


The girls had agreed to pack all their clothes in one trunk and carry
a suitcase apiece to the Junior Week-End Party at Exmoor. Nance was
official packer and stood knee-deep in finery while she considered
whether it was better to begin with party capes or slippers. Molly was
studying and Judy was stretched on the divan idly swinging one foot.

Otoyo poked her head in the door.

"May I ask advice of kind friends?"

Molly looked up and smiled. She had once heard a preacher say that
humility was as necessary to a well-rounded character as a sense of
humor and she could see now what he meant. Otoyo was an excellent
illustration. She was filled with humble gratitude for little
kindnesses, never boasted and never forgot her perfect manners.

"Indeed, you may, little one," spoke up Judy. "Come right in and state
your grievances."

"Oh, I have no grievances. I have only happinesses," said Otoyo. "But I
am packing and I wish to ask advices regarding clothes."

"Clothes for what?"

"For Exmoor," replied Otoyo, blushing and casting down her eyes.

"Why, you dear little Jap, you didn't tell us," exclaimed Molly.

"I have obtained the knowledge of it myself only this morning. Mrs.
McLean has so kindly offered to look after little Japanese girl."

"And who is your escort?" they demanded in one chorus.

"Professor Green," said Otoyo, trying not to show how intensely proud
she felt of the honor. "He is what you call 'a-lum-nus,'" she said, "and
he invites me to go with him, and Mr. Andrew McLean, junior, is making
out a card of dances for me. Is it not wonderful? And is it not of
great good fortune that I have now learned to dance?" She began circling
about the room. "Only I can do it much better alone. Poor little
Japanese girl will be frightened to dance with American gentleman."

The girls laughed again.

"You are an adorable little person," exclaimed Molly, kissing her, "and
young American gentleman will be only too glad to dance with little
Japanese girl."

Otoyo was now well provided with clothes, and there being still plenty
of room in the trunk, they allowed her to pack two evening dresses and a
diminutive black satin party wrap with their things.

Molly was half sorry that Professor Green was going. Except at classes,
she had never seen him since that Sunday morning on Round Head. Once he
had smiled at her like an old friend when they had met in the main hall,
but she was careful not to return the smile and bowed coldly.

"Yes, I am disappointed," she had thought. "I am glad Prexy found out
about us that night, but he needn't have been the one to tell. I hope I
shall be too much engaged in having a good time at Exmoor to see him. I
am glad Lawrence Upton is going to look after me, because he always does
so much for one. It was nice of Professor Green to take Otoyo. He is
kind, of course."

However, that afternoon when the trolley started with its load of
Wellington guests for Exmoor--there were several other parties--Molly
found herself seated between Mrs. McLean and Professor Green. How it had
happened she could not tell. She had intended to sit anywhere but next
the Professor, whom she regarded as a false friend. But there she was
and the Professor was saying:

"Miss Brown, you and I have been almost strangers of late. Are you
working so hard that you have no time for old friends this winter?"

Molly paused for an instant to consider what she should reply to this
question. Then she said a thing so bitter and foreign to her nature
that the Professor gave a start of surprise and Molly felt that someone
else must have said it.

"I have plenty of time for really _loyal_ friends, Professor Green," she
said in a frigid tone of voice. She turned her back and began to talk to
Mrs. McLean, and for the rest of the trip the Professor devoted himself
to Otoyo.

Molly was in high spirits when she reached Exmoor. She was determined
not to let her cruel speech ruin her good time. But through all the
gayeties of that afternoon and evening, at the teas, the dinner and the
Glee Club concert, the tang of its bitterness reached her. Across the
aisle at the concert she could see Professor Green sitting by Otoyo,
smiling gravely while the little Japanese girl entertained him, but
never once did he look in Molly's direction. A lump rose in her throat
and she dropped her gaze to the program.

"It is never right to make mean speeches," she decided, "no matter how
much provocation one has."

"Aren't you having a good time?" asked Lawrence Upton at her side. "You
look a little tired."

"I'm having a lovely time," answered Molly, "and I thought I was looking
my best."

"Oh, you couldn't look any better. I think you are--well, the prettiest
girl in the room. I meant there was a kind of sad look in your eyes."

"Don't try to cover it up with compliments," answered Molly. "When a
thing's said, you can't change it, you know. It's like this:

    "'The Moving Finger writes; and, having writ,
      Moves on; nor all your Piety nor Wit
      Shall lure it back to cancel half a line,
      Nor all your Tears wash out a Word of it.'"

"Please don't be so severe, Miss Molly," said Lawrence humbly.

"I wasn't thinking of what you said, particularly," said Molly. "I was
thinking of any speech one might make and regret and never be able to
recall."

"You _are_ sad," said Lawrence. "I was certain of it. Will it make you
any gladder to hear about to-morrow? You are engaged for every hour in
the day. I had a great to-do keeping a little time for myself. Three
fellows wanted to take you driving in the morning, but I reserved that
privilege for yours truly. Dodo and I are going to drive you and Miss
Judy over to Hillesdell after breakfast. Then there's the Junior Lunch.
That's quite a big affair, you know. It's like a reception. Prexy always
comes to that and any of the alumni who happen to be down. A crowd of
them come usually. Andy's giving a tea in the Chapter rooms and there
are some other teas, and then come the dinner and the ball."

"If there's anything left of us by then," said Molly, laughing.

It was an intermission and everybody was visiting as they did at the
Wellington Glee Club concerts. Molly, the center of a jolly crowd of
young people, joined in the merriment and talk and all the time there
was a taste of bitterness on her lips and in her ear a voice kept
dinning over and over:

"I have plenty of time for really loyal friends, Professor Green."

That night, when they had gone to bed in their rooms in the Chapter
House, they were serenaded by a roving band of juniors. When at last the
serenaders moved away and the house was still, Molly could not go to
sleep.

Dozens of times she repeated her cruel speech. She analyzed and parsed
it, as she used to parse sentences years before in her first lessons in
grammar. She named the subject, the predicate, the object, and modifying
words. She tried to define the meaning of the word loyal. What were its
synonyms? Faithful was one, of course. When she closed her eyes, she
could see her speech written in red across a black background like a
flaming sign. Was the Professor hurt or angry or both? She recalled
every kindness he had ever done for her and there were many. She
remembered with a burning blush what pains he and his sister had taken
to make her have a happy Christmas a year ago. He had informed President
Walker on her, of course, but he was only doing his duty. And she had
made that cruel speech!

"I have plenty of time for really loyal friends, Professor Green."

Her mind traveled in a circle. She tossed and turned, trying one side
until it ached and then trying the other; resting on her back for a
moment and finding the position intolerable.

At last she fell asleep and woke up stiff and weary in the morning,
devoutly wishing the day were well over.

She had hoped to see Professor Green in the morning, if only for a
moment, but he had returned to Wellington, leaving the entertainment of
Otoyo in charge of some of his brother's friends.

Of what earthly pleasure is a beautiful corn-colored evening gown when
one's heart is like a lump of lead and one's conscience heavy within?

All her numerous partners at the ball could not console Molly, nor could
the knowledge that she was looking her best as she floated through the
dances in her diaphanous dress.

"I know now how Judy felt after she was so unkind to me at the junior
play," she thought, "and, if heaven is kind to me, I hope never to say
anything to hurt anyone again."

In the meantime there were those who were enjoying themselves to the
utmost limit of enjoyment.

Otoyo Sen, in a seventh heaven, was dancing with young Andy, who towered
above her like a lighthouse over a cottage.

Judy in her black dress was sparkling with vivacity. Her fluffy light
brown hair gleamed yellow and her skin was cream white, against the dark
folds of her chiffon frock. Could this be the same Judy who, only a few
weeks ago, was contemplating--heaven knows what?

Nance, with one eye on Andy, was also happy and light-hearted. How trim
and charming she looked in her white silk dress!

Molly found herself laughing and talking a great deal, and all the time
she was thinking:

"We'll be back to-morrow at noon. On Monday the holidays begin. Oh, if I
can only see him before he goes!"

A great many young men came down to the station to see them off next
morning. There was a din of farewells. On all sides girlish voices were
calling:

"Good-bye!"

"It was the jolliest dance!"

"I never had a better time in all my life!"

"Awfully nice of you to ask us."

Molly had joined in the chorus with the others and had grasped many
outstretched hands and smiled and waved her handkerchief and listened to
Otoyo in one ear, crying:

"Oh, Mees Brown, I do like the American young gentleman veree much,"
while Judy in the other was saying:

"Wasn't it glorious fun? I never saw you look better. I have a dozen
compliments for you."

The car fairly crept back to Wellington, so it seemed to poor Molly. At
last they arrived and a carry-all took them back to the Quadrangle.

Without waiting to explain, she left her suitcase in the hall and ran to
the cloisters. Pausing at the door marked "E. A. Green," she knocked
urgently.

There was no answer. A door farther down the corridor was opened and the
professor of French looked out.

"Professor Green has gone away," he said. "He will not return until
after the holidays."



CHAPTER XIV.

AN INVITATION AND AN APOLOGY.


Millicent Porter invited Molly to go to New York with her for the
holidays and visit in the grand Porter mansion. Molly understood it was
a palace filled with tapestries and fine pictures. Millicent had
mentioned all those things casually. They would go to the theaters and
the opera and ride about in motor cars. But Molly was glad she had kept
her head and declined.

"I have some work to do, Millicent," she said. "I appreciate your
invitation, but I can't accept it."

"You must," exclaimed Millicent, too accustomed to having her own way to
take no for an answer. "Is it clothes?" she added. Somehow, she gave the
impression of not being used to wealth.

Molly hardly felt intimate enough with her to go into the subject of
her own poverty and answered briefly:

"Not entirely."

Millicent was not famous for generosity and the basket of red roses sent
to Molly on the night of the junior play had been her one outburst; but
she was determined to have Molly go home with her at any cost.

"Because," she continued, "if it's a question of clothes, I can arrange
that perfectly. My dresses will fit you if they are lengthened
and--well, there'll be plenty of clothes. Don't bother about that. Your
yellow dress is good enough for anything----"

"I should say it was," thought Molly, rather indignantly. "Good enough
for the likes of you or anybody else."

"I'll lend you my mink coat and turban," went on this munificent young
person, "and I have a big black velvet hat that would look awfully well
on you. Now, you must come, please. I want you to see my studio at the
top of the house. To tell you the truth, I'm rather lonesome in New
York. I don't know any girls well, because I've never stayed at one
school long enough to make friends."

"What's the reason of that?" asked Molly.

"Oh, I always get tired or something," answered the other carelessly.
"But say you'll come, do, please," she went on pathetically. Then,
unable to stifle her grand airs, she said: "I doubt if you have such
fine houses as ours in the south."

"Oh, no," answered Molly, quickly, "I doubt if we have. Our homes are
very old and simple. The only works of art are family portraits. We have
no tapestry or statuary. The house I was born in," she went on
half-smiling to herself, "was built by my great-grandfather. Most of the
furniture came down from him, too. Some of it's quite decrepit now, but
we keep it polished up. My earliest recollection is rubbing the
mahogany. You would doubtless think our house very empty and plain. We
have some old crimson damask curtains in the parlor, but the rest of the
curtains are made of ten-cent dimity. There is no furnace. We depend on
coal fires in the bedrooms and wood fires in the other rooms and we
nearly freeze if there's a cold winter. We have no plumbing. Every
member of the family has his own tub and there are six extra ones for
company. A little colored boy named Sam brings us hot water every
morning for our baths. He gets it from a big boiler attached to the
kitchen stove, and when we are done bathing he has to carry it all down
again. Rather a nuisance, isn't it? But Sam doesn't mind. Oh, I daresay
you'd think our house was a kind of a hovel." Molly paused and looked at
Millicent strangely. There was a hidden fire in her deep blue eyes. "As
for me," she said, "no palace in all New York or anywhere else could be
as beautiful to me as my home."

Millicent looked uncomfortable.

"Be it ever so homely, there's no face like one's own," cried Judy, who
at that moment had come into the room and caught Molly's last words.
"What's all this talk about home?"

"I was just telling Millicent about the old-fashioned, whitewashed
brick palace wherein I was born," answered Molly.

"I'm sorry you won't accept my invitation," said Millicent, taking no
notice of Judy whatever. "Perhaps, after you think about it awhile
you'll change your mind." Her manner was heavy and patronizing, and
implied without words:

"After you have had time to consider the honor I am paying you and the
advantages of visiting in my splendid home, you cannot fail to accept."

"You are very kind, Millicent, but I shall not reconsider it," announced
Molly coldly. "I have made up my mind to spend Christmas right here in
the Quadrangle. I hope you'll have a beautiful time. Good-bye." They
shook hands formally.

"I'll try to see the best in her," she thought, "but I'd rather not see
it at close hand. She grates on me."

Judy waved an open letter with a dramatic gesture.

"Oh, Molly, dearest, I'm glad you didn't accept. It's my own selfish
pleasure that makes me glad, but I'm going to spend Christmas right here
in the Quadrangle, too."

Molly looked at her friend's eager, excited face in surprise.

"Do you mean your mother and father are coming here?"

"No, no. They're on the Pacific Coast, you know, and will be detained
until spring. It's too far for me to take the trip just for the few days
I could spend with them, so I'm going to stay here."

A year ago Judy would have been in the depths of despair over a
separation from her beloved parents at this holiday time. But whether
she had gained poise by her recent sufferings or whether spending
Christmas with her friend in the big empty Quadrangle appealed to her
romantic nature, it would be difficult to tell. Through all the
complexities of her nature her devotion to Molly was interwoven like a
silver thread, and the shame and remorse she still felt in looking back
on that unhappy evening when she had denounced her friend only seemed
to draw the two girls more closely together.

Molly gave her a joyous hug.

"Oh, Judy, I am so happy. I never dreamed of such a blessing as this.
Even Otoyo is going away this year and hardly half a dozen girls are
left in the Quadrangle. I am truly glad I had the courage to decline
Millicent's invitation. It was only for one instant I was tempted to go,
but she ruined it by a patronizing speech."

"What a singular little creature she is," observed Judy. "She has no
charm, if she can beat on silver; and she's so awfully conscious of her
wealth. I don't know how I could ever have admired her. I suppose I was
lured in the beginning by her fine clothes and her grand way of
talking."

"She is very talented," Molly continued, "but, as you say, she lacks
charm. Perhaps she would have been different if she had been poor and
obliged to turn her gifts to some use. After all, I think we are happier
than rich girls. We are not afraid to be ourselves. We wear old clothes
and we have an object in view when we work, because we want to earn
money."

"Earn money," repeated Judy. "I only wish I could give papa the surprise
of his life by earning a copper cent."

Molly was silent. Her own earning capacity had not been great that
winter. She had kept herself in pin money by tutoring, but lately she
had made an alarming discovery. When she had first started to college,
teaching had been the ultimate goal of her ambitions. She intended to be
a teacher in a private school and perhaps later have a school of her
own, as Nance wished to do.

Now, as her horizon broadened and her tastes and perceptions began
taking form and shape, she found herself drifting farther and farther
away from her early ambition. Something was waking up in her mind that
had been asleep. It was like a voice crying to be heard, still immensely
far away and inarticulate, but growing clearer and more insistent all
the time.

It made her uneasy and unsettled. She yearned to express herself, but
the power had not yet arrived.

The two girls went down to the village that afternoon to see the last
trainload of students pull out of Wellington station, and later to make
some purchases at the general store. It was Christmas Eve and the
streets were filled with shoppers from the country around Wellington.
Molly was trying to recall the words of a poem she had heard ages back,
the rhythm of which was beating in her head, and Judy was endeavoring to
explain to herself why she felt neither homesick nor blue on this the
first Christmas ever spent away from her parents.

They paused to look in at the window of a florist who did a thriving
business in Wellington. A motor car was waiting in front of the shop.

"We must have some Christmas decorations, too," exclaimed Judy about to
enter, when the way was blocked by a crowd of people coming out. "What
pretty girls!" continued Judy in a whisper, looking admiringly at two
young women who came first.

The prettiest one, who had red hair not unlike Molly's and brown eyes,
called over her shoulder:

"Edwin, I shan't save you a seat beside me unless you're there to claim
it."

"I'll be there, Alice, never fear," answered Professor Green, hurrying
after her with an armload of holly and cedar garlands.

Molly stood rooted to the spot while the shoppers crowded into the car.

"If I could only tell him how sorry I am for that cruel speech," she
thought.

With a sudden determination, she rushed toward the car, calling:

"Professor!"

The girl named Alice looked around quickly, but apparently she did not
choose to see Molly, and as the car moved off she began laughing and
talking in a very sprightly and vivacious manner.

Molly sighed. The longer an apology is delayed the more trivial and
insignificant it becomes.

"He probably has forgotten all about it," she thought. "He seems happy
enough with Alice, whoever she is. Perhaps what I said hurt me more
than it did him, but, oh, I do wish I had seen him before he went away.
It would have been different then, I'm sure."

She followed Judy into the flower store. Mrs. McLean was there with
Andy.

"Why, here are two lassies left over!" cried the good woman.

"What luck, mother!" said Andy. "Now we'll have some fun. We'll give a
dinner and a dance, and Larry and Dodo will come over. We will, won't
we, mother?"

"What a coaxer you are, Andy. You're still a lad of ten and not
nineteen, I'm sure."

"Don't you let him persuade you to give parties when you're not of a
mind to do it, Mrs. McLean," put in Judy.

"I wouldn't miss the chance, my dear. I like it as much as he does.
We'll have it to-morrow night and you'll come prepared to be as merry as
can be and cheer up the doctor. He has been so busy of late he has
forgotten how to enjoy himself."

"It doesn't look as if we were going to spend such a quiet Christmas
after all, Judy," laughed Molly, when Mrs. McLean and Andy had gone.

Judy was engaged in selecting all the most branching and leafy boughs of
holly she could find, while the florist looked on uneasily.

That afternoon they spent an hour beautifying their yellow sitting room.
And all the time Molly's mind was harking back to Christmas a year ago,
when the Greens had busied themselves preparing such a delightful party
for Otoyo and her.

"And I said he was not a loyal friend," she said to herself. "Oh, if I
could only unsay those words!"

She sat down at her desk and seized a pen.

"What are you going to do?" asked an inner voice.

"I am going to write a note and tell him I'm sorry, and then I'm going
over to the cloisters and slip it under his door. It will ease my mind,
even if he doesn't get the note until he comes back. He'll know then
that I couldn't go to sleep Christmas Eve until I had apologized."

The note finished, she carefully addressed and sealed it. Judy was in
her own room composing a joint letter to her mother and father, and did
not see Molly when she slipped out of the room and hurried downstairs.
Outside, the pale winter twilight still lingered and the sky was piled
high with fleecy white clouds.

"It's going to snow," thought Molly, as she hurried along the arcade and
opened the little oak door leading into the cloisters.



CHAPTER XV.

A CHRISTMAS GHOST STORY THAT WAS NEVER TOLD.


It was quite dark in the corridor whereon opened the cloister offices.
All the teachers had gone away for the holidays and the place was as
ghostly as a deserted monastery.

"I can't say I'd like to be here alone on a dark night, if it is such a
young cloister. It seems to have been born old like some children,"
Molly thought.

She coughed and the sound reverberated in the arched ceiling and came
back to her an empty echo.

Pausing at Professor Green's door, she stooped to shove the note
underneath, when, to her surprise, the door opened at her touch and
swung lightly back.

With an exclamation, Molly started back, leaving the note on the floor.
Leaning against one of the deep silled windows, just where the fast
fading light fell across his face, stood a tall, stoop-shouldered man.
In the flashing glimpse Molly caught of him before she turned and fled,
she noticed that he resembled an old gray eagle with a thin beak of a
nose and a worn white face; and that his dark eyes were quite close
together. The rest of him was lost in the black shadows of the room.

Once out of the ghostly corridor and the heavy oak door shut between her
and the strange visitor in the Professor's office, Molly paused and took
a deep breath.

"In the name of goodness," she cried, "what have I just seen? If he had
stirred or blinked an eyelash or even appeared to breathe, I should at
least have felt he was human."

The big empty hall of the Quadrangle seemed a cheerful spot in
comparison with the cloister corridor. It was warm and light and from
the seniors' parlor came the sound of piano playing. But Molly never
paused to look in and see what belated student was cheering herself with
music. Only her own sitting room with its gay holiday decorations and
Judy twanging the guitar could recall her to a world of realities.
Before she reached the door she had made up her mind that it would be
just as well not to tell the excitable and impressionable Judy anything
about the apparition or whatever it was in the Professor's study. It was
really an act of self-denial, because it would have been decidedly
interesting to discuss the episode with Judy.

"I would have told Nance," she thought. "She would have agreed with me,
I am sure, that it couldn't have been a ghost because, of course, there
are no such things. But if I tell Judy, I know perfectly well she will
persuade me it was a ghost and we'll be frightened to death all night."

Judy, still wearing her widow's weeds, was singing a doleful ballad when
Molly hurried in, called "By the Bonnie Milldams o' Binnorie." Molly was
fond of this ancient song, but she was in no mood to listen to it just
then.

    "'The youngest stood upon a stane,
      The eldest cam' and pushed her in.
      Oh, sister, sister, reach your hand,
      And ye sall be heir to half my land;
      Oh, sister, sister, reach but your glove,
      And sweet William sall be your love.'"

The guitar gave out a mournful twang.

"Talk about impressionable people, I'm worse than she is," thought
Molly. "I'll shriek aloud if she doesn't stop this minute."

Just then the six o'clock bell boomed out and Molly did give a loud
nervous exclamation.

Judy dropped the guitar on the floor. The strings resounded with a deep
protesting chord and then subsided into resigned quietude.

"Molly, what is the matter? You're as pale as a ghost."

Molly smiled at her own weakness. Having just made up her mind not to
tell Judy, she was suddenly possessed with a fever to relate the entire
incident from beginning to end.

"If you'll promise to put on your red dress to-night by way of
celebration, and to cheer me up, I'll tell you a thrilling story, Judy."

"But I've made a vow and I can't break it."

"Did the vow stipulate that you couldn't wear colors Christmas Eve?"

"No, not exactly."

"Well, then, get into your scarlet frock, because I'll never tell you if
you wear that black one, and I'll put on some old gay-colored rag, too,
and after supper I'll tell you a thrilling tale."

"I'll put on the red dress," said Judy, "if you promise never to tell
Nance, but I can't wait until after supper to hear the story."

"You'll have to. It's a long tale and there won't be time to dress and
tell it, too."

"Well," consented Judy, "because it's Christmas Eve, the very time to
tell thrilling tales if they are true, I'll agree."

And obediently she attired herself in the scarlet dress, while Molly put
on a blue blouse that, by a happy chance, matched the color of her eyes
as perfectly as if they had been cut from the same bolt.

"Did it really happen to me," she kept thinking, "or did I dream it
after all?"

There was no chance to tell Judy the story after supper, because the two
girls were summoned to the parlor almost immediately to see three
callers, Andy, Dodo Green and Lawrence Upton.

During the visit Molly seized the opportunity to ask the younger Green
where his brother was spending his Christmas.

"Oh, he's making visits around the county," answered George Theodore
carelessly. "He always has enough invitations for three, but he was
never known to accept any before. I don't know what's got into the old
boy this year. He's getting as giddy as a débutante, going to parties
and rushing around in motors. I have had to make two trips over to
Wellington, first to get his evening clothes because he forgot to pack
them, and then for his pumps and dress shirts I forgot myself. When the
old boy goes into anything, he always does it in good style. He used to
be a kind of dude about ten years ago. But he's all the way to thirty
now and he feels his age. Do you notice how bald he's getting? He'll be
losing his teeth next."

"I'm glad he's having such a good time," said Molly, disdaining the
aspersions cast by George Theodore on his brother's age. "I hope he is
well and happy," she added in her thoughts. "I am sure I don't begrudge
him a jolly Christmas, considering what a jolly one he gave me last
year. I am sorry I left the note, now. Like as not, he doesn't even
remember what I said that day and when he reads the letter he won't know
what I am talking about."

At last the boys left. Judy was intensely relieved. She desired only one
thing on earth: to hear Molly's ghost story. All her perceptions were on
edge with curiosity, but she was determined to have all things in
harmony for the telling of a Christmas Eve Ghost Story. So she
restrained her inquisitiveness until they had slipped on dressing-gowns
and were both comfortably installed in big chairs with a box of candy
and a plate of salted almonds between them.

"And now, begin," she said, sighing comfortably.

But Molly had scarcely uttered three words when she was interrupted by
the arrival of packages from the late train brought up by the faithful
Murphy.

Even Judy's unsatisfied curiosity regarding the tale could not hold out
against these fascinating boxes, and the story waited while they untied
the strings and eagerly tore off the paper wrappings.

"I suppose we ought to wait until to-morrow morning, but since we're
just two lonely little waifs, I think we might gratify ourselves this
once, don't you, Molly dear?" asked Judy.

"I certainly do," Molly agreed, "seeing as it doesn't matter to anybody
whether we look at them now or in the morning."

It was a long time before they settled down again to the story, and
Molly had not advanced a paragraph when there came another tap at the
door. Evidently the Quadrangle gates were to be kept open late that
night or account of the arrival of holiday packages.

This time it was a boy from the florist's, fairly laden with flower
boxes.

Andy had sent both the girls violets.

"Very sweet and proper of him, I'm sure, in the absence of Nance,"
laughed Judy.

Lawrence Upton had sent Molly a box of American beauties.

"And he could ill afford it, the foolish boy," ejaculated Molly.

Dodo had expended all his savings on a handsome Jerusalem cherry tree
for Judy. There was another box for Molly. It contained violets and two
cards--Miss Grace Green's and Professor Edwin Green's.

Molly blushed crimson when she read the names. For the thousandth time
she covered herself with reproaches. She sat down and gathered the
bouquets into her lap.

"Judy," she cried contritely, "what have I done to gain all these kind
friends? I'm sure I don't deserve it. The dears!"

But Judy was too much engaged with her own numerous gifts to contradict
this self-depreciating statement.

"I am really happy, Molly," she cried, "even without mamma and papa it's
been a lovely Christmas Eve."

With one of those divinations which sometimes comes to us like a voice
from another land, it suddenly occurred to Molly that whatever it was in
Professor Green's office, whether ghost or human, perhaps the Professor
might not like to have it discussed, and she resolved not to tell Judy
or anyone else what she had seen.

"And then," she continued, "if he ever asks me whether I told, it will
be a nice, comfortable feeling to say I haven't."

At last, having put the flowers back in the boxes and restored some
order to the room, Judy sat down and folded her hands.

"And now, go on with the story."

"My dear child, so much has happened since then and I'm so weary, I
don't think I can make it the frightful tale I had intended."

"Oh, it was all a joke?" asked Judy, whose enthusiasm had about spent
itself in other outlets.

"Oh, partly a joke. I went down to the cloisters to leave a Christmas
note for Professor Green at his office and saw a ghostly looking figure
there."

"Is that all? Well, anybody might look like a phantom in that gloomy
place. I've no doubt the ghostly figure took you for another."

"I've no doubt it did," answered Molly, laughing, and with that they
kissed and went to bed.

Long after midnight Molly rose and slipped on her dressing-gown.
Creeping out of her room, she flitted along the corridor, turned the
corner and hurried up the other side of the Quadrangle. At the very end
of this hall was a narrow passage with a window which commanded a view
of the courtyard and the windows of the cloister studies.

Softly raising the blind, she looked out. In one of the studies a dim
light was burning. She counted windows. It was Professor Green's
office, she was certain. While she looked the light went out.

Back to her bed she flew with a feeling that somebody was chasing her.

"There's one thing certain," she thought, drawing the covers over her
head, "ghosts never need lights."



CHAPTER XVI.

MORE CHRISTMAS PRESENTS AND A COASTING PARTY OF TWO.


All the bells in Wellington were ringing when the girls awoke Christmas
morning. The sweet-toned bell of the Chapel of St. Francis mingled its
notes with the persistent appeal of the Roman Catholic bell across the
way, while on the next street the bell of the Presbyterian Church sent
out a calm doctrinal call for all repentant sinners to be on hand sharp
for the ten o'clock service. And in this confusion of sound came the
tinkle of sleigh bells like a note of pleasure in a religious symphony.

"Merry Christmas!" cried Judy, running into the room with an armful of
parcels done up with white tissue paper and tied with red ribbons. "Here
are the presents Nance and the others left for you. 'My lady fair,
arise, arise, arise!'"

"Merry Christmas!" cried Molly, bounding out of bed and rushing to find
the presents she had been commissioned to take care of for Judy.

The two girls climbed under the covers and began to open their gifts.

"Dear old Nance!" ejaculated Judy. "How well she knows my wants. She's
given me an address book because she disapproved of my keeping addresses
on old envelopes."

[Illustration: "AND SHE'S GIVEN ME A PAIR OF SILK STOCKINGS," CRIED
MOLLY.--_Page 213._]

"And she's given me a pair of silk stockings," cried Molly, "because she
knows my luxurious tastes run to such things."

"Edith Williams is the class joker," remarked Judy, laughing. "She's
sent me a novel by Black and she's written on the fly leaf, 'For the
first six months the Merry Widow read only novels by Black.'"

"Weren't they dears?" broke in Molly. "They knew we'd be lonely and they
wanted to make us laugh Christmas morning. Look what Edith sent me."

It was a small round basket of sweet grass, no doubt purchased at
the village store, and inside on pink cotton was a pasteboard
medal. Printed around the outer edge of the medal was the following
announcement: "Awarded to Pallas Athene Brown for the Best General
Average in Good Manners and Amiability by the Wellington High School."

There was a hole punched in one end of the medal with a blue ribbon run
through it. On one of Edith's cards in the box was written:

"To be worn on great occasions."

The two girls received other amusing presents. If their friends had
hoped to cheer them on their lonely Christmas morning, they had
succeeded wonderfully well. Judy especially was in the wildest spirits.
It was a custom of hers to describe her feelings exactly as a chronic
invalid recounts his sensations.

"I'm all aglow with good cheer. I could dance and sing. It must be a
sort of Christmas spirit in the air. I do adore to get presents. I think
I have more curiosity in my nature than you, Molly. Why don't you open
the rest of yours?"

Molly was lost in admiration of a beautiful little copy of
Maeterlinck's "_Pelléas et Mélisande_" sent to her by Mary Stewart.

"Because I like to eat my cake slowly," she answered, "and get all the
fine flavor without choking myself to death. Oh," she cried, taking the
tissue paper off a small parcel, "how lovely of your mother, Judy, to
send me this beautiful lace collar!"

"It's just like the one she sent me," answered Judy, as pleased as a
child over Molly's enthusiasm. "But do look in the other boxes. What's
that square thing? If it were mine, I should be palpitating with
curiosity."

If Judy had guessed what the square box contained, she would not have
been so eager to precipitate an embarrassing situation.

"Very well, Mistress Judy, we'll find out immediately what's inside.
Where did it come from, anyway?"

"There's not the slightest inkling of who sent it," answered Judy,
examining the address printed in a sort of script. "Whoever sent it knew
how to do lettering, certainly. But the postmark is smeared."

Molly cut the string and removed the brown paper wrapping. The article
inside the box was folded in a quantity of tissue paper.

"It has as many coverings as a royal Egyptian mummy," exclaimed Judy
impatiently.

It had indeed. After stripping off several layers of paper it was
necessary to cut another string before the rest of the paper could be
removed.

At last, however, another china Martin Luther emerged from his tissue
paper shell. The two girls gasped with surprise and consternation.

"Will wonders never cease?" ejaculated Molly.

"I'm sure it's just another joke the girls are playing on us," broke in
Judy with some excitement. "Here's a card. What does it say?"

On a pasteboard card, written in the same script as the address, was the
following mystifying message:

"Was it kind to put such temptation in the way of the weak?"

"What does it mean, Judy?" asked Molly. "I seem to be groping in the
dark."

Judy shook her head.

"You can search me," she said expressively. "Why don't you break a hole
in him and see?"

"No sooner said than done," answered Molly. "But I really feel like a
butcher. This is the third time I've destroyed a pig."

She cracked the bank on the head of her little iron bed, but only a
silver quarter rolled out on the floor. The rest of the money was in
bills, three five dollar bills, which had been compactly folded and
pushed through the slit in the pig's back.

"Fifteen dollars and a quarter!" ejaculated Molly. "That was just about
what the original sum was, but I suppose in silver it was too heavy to
come through the mails."

She lay back on her pillows, her brows wrinkled into a puzzled frown.

"It's a curious performance," she said, after a brief silence. "I don't
understand."

Judy at the foot of the bed, half buried in tissue paper and Christmas
presents, glanced out of the window at the snowy landscape. There was a
strange expression on her face and two little imps of laughter lurked in
her wide gray eyes. Molly looked at her a moment, but Judy would not
meet her gaze.

"Julia Kean," broke out Molly, suddenly, "do you know whom you look like
this moment? Mona Lisa. You have the same mysterious smile as if you
knew a great deal more than you intended to tell. Now just turn around
and look me in the eyes." Molly crawled from under the covers and put
her hands on her friend's shoulders. "Who sent me that first Martin
Luther with all the small change?"

Judy's lips curled into an irresistible smile. There was something very
mellowed and soft about her face, like an old portrait, the colors of
which had deepened with the years.

"You aren't angry with me, Molly, dearest?" she asked, laying her cheek
against Molly's.

"Angry? How could I be angry, you adorable child?"

"You see it was just taking money out of one pocket to put it in the
other, and it was the only way I could think of to make you take the
yellow dress. You wouldn't accept it as a gift. Of course, I never
dreamed the real thief would repent."

The two friends looked into each other's eyes with loving confidence.

"Dear old Judy!" cried Molly, "I don't know what I have done to deserve
such a friend as you. And what an imagination you have! Who but you
would ever have conceived such a notion? And to think, too, that I would
never have known, if the real person who took the money hadn't had an
attack of conscience."

"It would certainly have remained a secret forever unless Nance had
confessed it on her death bed," laughed Judy. "She's that close, I
imagine her first confession would be her last one."

"I'll wear the dress to-night, Judy, just to show you how much I
appreciate the gift," announced Molly.

Judy put on a broad lace collar that morning and a lavender velvet bow,
by way of lightening her mourning.

There was a good deal to do during the day, getting the rooms
straightened and writing letters.

All morning the snow fell so softly and quietly that the Quadrangle
seemed to be isolated in a still white world of its own. Not even the
campus houses could be seen through the thick curtain of flakes. Molly
could picture to herself no more delightful occupation than to stay
indoors all day and read one of her new Christmas books. Nothing could
have been more cheerful than the little sitting room with its Christmas
greens and vases of flowers.

Curled up in one of the big chairs, Molly's mind wandered idly from the
open pages of the book in her lap to the recent inexplicable happenings.
Who was the mysterious visitor in the Professor's study? After all, it
was none of her business, but she felt some natural curiosity about it.
Who was the girl who had stolen the china pig?

"I don't want to know," she admonished herself.

Nevertheless, it was impossible not to make a few random conjectures.

Judy, restlessly beating a tattoo on the window, was thinking the same
thing.

"Molly," she burst out, after a long silence, "I have an idea who that
girl is. Have you?"

"Yes, but I'd rather not mention her name. It's too dreadful. And you
know how I feel about circumstantial evidence."

"All I say is," announced Judy, "that it's a certain person who makes
the loudest noise about losing her own things."

"Well, she's repented," said Molly, "so let's try and forget it."

There was another brief but eloquent silence. Judy pressed her face
against the window pane.

"I did think," she observed presently, "that those boys would come to
take us out for a sleigh ride or a coast or something this afternoon.
But we can't wait around here all day for them. It would be paying them
too much of an honor. Why not go coasting ourselves? I'll get Edith's
sled and we'll walk over to Round Head."

"That would be fine," said Molly, with all the enthusiasm she could
muster. Reluctantly she laid aside her book and began to dress for the
walk.

When two intimate associates are not mutually agreed, the more selfish
one never dreams of the sacrifices of the other. Molly had no taste for
battling with the snow, and when in half an hour they found themselves
plunging through the drifts on their way to the steep coasting hill,
she turned a wistful inward eye back toward the comforts of the
yellow-walled sitting room. The Morris chair, the prized antique rug and
the Japanese scroll with the snow-capped Fujiyama and the sky-blue
waters called to her insistently.

"Isn't this glorious, Molly?" ejaculated Judy, fired with the energy of
her enthusiasms.

"Dee-lightful," replied poor Molly, brushing the snow out of her eyes
with admirable pretense at cheerfulness. However, the snowfall began to
diminish and when they reached Round Head the storm had apparently
spent itself. Molly felt the glow of exercise she really needed and she
admired the splendid panorama of the snow-clad valley stretching before
them.

"It is beautiful," she admitted, "and what fun, Judy, to go whizzing
down Round Head! It will be the longest coast I have ever taken in my
life."

Clambering up the side of the hill had not been as difficult as they had
expected, because the wind had swept that part of it clear of drifts and
the way was plain. When at last they reached the top, Molly was no
longer sorry that Judy had dragged her from "The Idylls of the King" and
the comforts of an easy chair.

"You're not afraid, Molly?" asked the reckless Judy, looking with the
glittering eye of anticipation down the long track of white over which
they would presently be flying.

"I don't see why I should be," answered Molly evasively. "Even if we
fall off, it will be on a bed of snow as soft as a down comfort."

"Come along, then," cried Judy, "we'll have the sensation of our lives.
And we might as well make it a good one, because it's beginning to snow
again and we'd better not try it a second time."

Judy had coasted down Round Head before and knew just the spot on the
hill where the Wellington girls were accustomed to start the long slide
on bobs and sleds.

Sitting behind Judy, Molly closed her eyes and the sled commenced its
journey. For some moments it skimmed along at a reasonable speed, but as
it gained in impetus, she had the sensation of riding on the tail of a
comet.

"Look out for the bump," called Judy with amazing calm and forethought,
considering the circumstances.

But the warning had no meaning for Molly, whose experience in coasting
was of a very mild and unexciting character. The shock of the rise
caused her to lose her hold, and the next thing she knew she was buried
deep in a snow drift and Judy was whizzing on alone into the unknown.

[Illustration: THE NEXT THING SHE KNEW SHE WAS BURIED DEEP IN A SNOW
DRIFT, AND JUDY WAS WHIZZING ON ALONE.--_Page 224_]

"I never did really enjoy coasting," thought Molly, climbing out of the
drift and shaking herself vigorously like a wet dog. "It's all right if
nothing happens, but something always does happen and then it's a
regular nuisance."

Already the tracks of the sled were covered by the fast falling snow and
it was impossible to see just where the tumble had occurred on the
hillside.

"Judy," called Molly, hurrying down the hill; while at the same moment
Judy was calling Molly as she hastened back.

The two girls passed each other at no great distance apart, but they
might have been as widely separated as the poles for all they could see
or hear in the blinding snowstorm.

After calling and searching in vain, Judy started back to Wellington,
feeling sure that her friend had gone that way; and Molly, who was
gifted with no bump of location whatever, blindly groping in the
snowstorm turned in the opposite direction.



CHAPTER XVII.

THE WAYFARERS.


Human beings have been variously compared by imaginative persons to
pawns on a chessboard; storm-tossed boats on the sea of life; pilgrims
on a weary way, and other things of no resemblance whatever to the
foregoing.

Molly, marching stoically along the lonely road under the impression
that she was on her way to Wellington when she was really turned toward
Exmoor, might have fitted into any of those comparisons rather more
literally than was intended.

She was certainly a storm-tossed pilgrim if not a boat; the way was
decidedly weary and as pawn, pilgrim or ship, whichever you will, she
was about to come in contact with another of life's pawns, pilgrims or
ships, to the decided advantage of the one and amazement of the other.

This new pawn, pilgrim or ship was now advancing down the road, and
Molly, mindful of the fact that she was not getting anywhere when she
felt sure that by this time she should at least have reached the lake,
was not sorry to see a human being.

The stranger looked decidedly like the pilgrim of romance. He wore an
old black felt hat with a broad slouching brim and a long Spanish cape
reaching below his knees; his staff was a rosewood cane with a silver
knob.

He was about to pass Molly without even glancing in her direction when
she stopped him.

"Would you mind telling me if it's very far from Wellington?" she asked.
"I'm afraid I'm lost."

"Do you imagine you are going to Wellington?" he demanded, looking up.

Instantly Molly recognized him. He was the man she had seen the night
before in Professor Green's study.

"I did think so," she answered meekly.

"I would advise you to go in the opposite direction, then," he said.
"Exmoor lies that way." He pointed down the road with his stick.

"How stupid of me!" exclaimed Molly. "I was coasting and tumbled off the
sled. I was completely dazed, I suppose, when I crawled out of the
drift."

The two walked along in silence. Molly gave the man a covert glance. He
was very distinguished looking and vaguely reminded her of someone.

"You are one of the students of Wellington?" he asked presently.

"Yes, sir," answered Molly respectfully.

The stranger smiled.

"You are from the south. I never heard a girl across the boundary line
use 'sir.'"

"I am," she answered briefly.

"And from what part, may I ask?"

"From Carmichael Station, Kentucky."

The man stopped as if he had been struck a blow in the face.

"Carmichael Station, Kentucky," he repeated in a half whisper. Drawing
a leather wallet from his inside pocket, he took out a folded legal cap
document and opened it. "Ahem. Not far to go," he said in a low voice,
running down a list with one finger. "Your name----"

"Brown."

"Mildred Carmichael Brown, I presume."

"No, Mary. My sister's named Mildred."

The old man refolded the document, put it carefully back in the wallet,
which he returned to his pocket. Then he resumed his walk, muttering to
himself.

"Strange! Strange!" Molly heard him say. "Here in a snowstorm, in the
wilderness, on Christmas day, too, I should happen to meet--I can't get
away from them," he cried angrily, waving his cane. "Victims, victims!
Everywhere. They rise up and confront me when I'm sleeping or
waking--like ghosts of the past----"

His mutterings gradually became inarticulate as he wrapped his cape
around him and stalked through the snow.

"Hunted--hunted--hounded about----" he began again. Suddenly he stopped,
took off his hat and held his face up to heaven as if he were about to
address some unseen power.

"I'm tired," he cried. "I've had enough of these wanderings; these
eternal haunting visions. Let me have peace!" He shook his cane
impotently at the overcast skies.

It was then that Molly recognized him. On that very day but one, a year
ago, had she not seen Judith Blount stand under a wintry sky and defy
heaven in the same rebellious way?

Judith's father had come back from South America and was hiding in the
Professor's room at Wellington! And how like they were, the father and
daughter; the same black eyes, too close together; the same handsome
aquiline noses, and the same self-pitying, brooding natures.

Evidently, Mr. Blount had suffered deeply. Molly thought he must be very
poor. Looking at him closely, she noticed the shabby gentility of his
appearance; the shiny seams of his Spanish cape which had been torn and
patched in many places; his old thin shoes, split across the toes, and
his worn, travel-stained hat.

She wondered if he had any money. She suspected that he was very hungry
and her soul was moved with pity for the poor, broken old man who had
once been worth millions.

"Mr. Blount," she began.

"How did you know my name?" he cried, shivering all over like a whipped
dog. "I didn't mention it, did I? I haven't told any one, have I? I came
down here in disguise." He laughed feebly. "Disguised as a broken old
man. I went to Edwin's rooms," he wandered on, forgetting that he had
asked Molly a question. "You know where they are?"

Molly nodded her head. She knew quite well that the Professor lodged in
one of the former college houses built on the old campus, used long ago
before the Quadrangle had been built flanking the new campus.

"The housekeeper recognized me as a relation and I waited in his room
some hours," went on the old man in a trembling voice.

"And where did you spend the night?"

"In the cloister study. I found the key on his desk. It was marked
'cloister study.'"

"But where did you eat?" asked Molly gently.

The melting sympathy in her eyes and voice encouraged the old man to
pour out his woes. Evidently it was a great relief to him to talk after
his miseries and hardships.

"I've been living off apples," he said. "Very fine apples. There was a
big basket of them on Edwin's study table."

"But there's an inn in the village," she exclaimed.

He smiled grimly.

"I have come all the way from Caracas to Wellington," he said. "I was
poor when I started; yes, miserably, wretchedly poor. I am an old man,
old and broken. I want peace, do you understand? Peace."

They had reached the lake and in fifteen minutes would arrive at the
Quadrangle. Mr. Blount was leading the way, occasionally hitting the
ground savagely with his cane.

Molly thrust her hand into her blouse and drew out a chamois skin bag
which hung by a silk tape around her neck. Since the pilfering had been
going on at Wellington she carried what little money she had with her
during the day and hid it under her pillow at night.

Extracting ten dollars from the bag, she hurried to the old man's side
and touched him on the shoulder.

"Mr. Blount, I'm under great obligations to your cousin. He has been
very kind to me--always--and I'd like you to--I'd----"

It was difficult to know what to say. Was it not strange for her, a poor
little school girl, to be offering money to a man who had so recently
been a millionaire?

"Won't you take this money?" she began again, resolutely. "I don't think
anyone will recognize you at the inn. It's just a little country place
and you will be quite comfortable there until I find Professor Green. I
may get word to him to-night, or to-morrow at any rate."

Mr. Blount eyed the money as a hungry dog eyes a bone. Evidently hunger
and fatigue had got the better of his pride. He took the bill and
touched it lovingly. Then he put it in his pocket.

"You're a nice girl," he said. "I thank you."

"Would you like to see George Green?" asked Molly timidly.

"No, no, no!" he answered fiercely. "Not that young fool. I don't
suppose Judith is here?" he added presently in a tremulous voice.

"No, sir. She's in New York for the holidays."

They shook hands and separated. Mr. Blount took the path down the other
side of the lake across the links to the village and Molly followed the
path on the college side. As she cut through the pine woods she heard a
shout.

"Molly Brown, where have you been? We have had a search for you!" cried
Judy, rushing up, followed by the three boys.

"I reckon I've been a good deal like the pig who thought he was going to
Cork when he was really going to Dublin," laughed Molly. "If I hadn't
asked the way, I suppose I'd have been almost to Exmoor by this time.
I am a poor person to find my way about. My brother used to tell me to
take the direction opposite to the one my instincts told me to take and
then I'd be going right."

"In other words, first make sure you're right and then take the other
way," said Lawrence Upton, laughing.

"You'd make a good explorer, Miss Molly," remarked Andy McLean. "You
might discover the South Pole and think all the time it was the North
Pole."

"That would be of great benefit to humanity," answered Molly, "but you
may be sure I'd stop and ask a policeman before I reached the equator."

"It's your proper punishment for cutting church this morning," here put
in George Green. "I don't know whether it was because it was a good
excuse to go sleighing, but a lot of people were at the ten service.
Even old Edwin came in the trail of Alice Fern."

"What a pretty name!" said Molly. "It sounds so woodsy."

"She's a cousin," George went on, "and a winner, too. They've got a
jim-dandy place ten miles the other side of Wellington, Fern Grove. We
spent last New Year's with them and had a cracker-jack time."

"George Theodore Green!" ejaculated Judy, "I never heard so much slang.
I wonder you are allowed inside Exmoor."

"Oh, I cut it out there. I only use it when it's safe."

"I regard that as a slight on present company," broke in Andy. "I think
you'll just have to take a little dose of punishment for that, Dodo. Get
busy, Larrie."

There was a wild scramble in the snow, and finally Dodo, who had
developed into a big, strapping fellow, stronger than either of his
friends, intrenched himself behind a tree and began throwing snowballs
with the unerring aim of the best pitcher on the Exmoor team. Molly
hastened on to the Quadrangle, while Judy with true sportsman taste
waited to see the fun.

Molly went straight to the telephone booths in the basement corridor. By
good fortune, the haughty being who presided at the switchboard was
hovering about waiting for a long distance call from a "certain party"
in New York.

That she alone in all the world was concerned in this call and that she
wished to have this corner of the globe entirely to herself for the
full enjoyment of it were very evident facts when Molly asked for
"Fern-16-Wellington."

"I'm not working to-day," announced the operator shortly, arranging her
huge Psyche knot at the mirror beside her desk.

Molly looked into the girl's implacable face. No feminine appeal would
melt that heart of stone, but perhaps the magic name of man might fix
her.

"Would you do it to oblige Professor Green? I have an important message
for him."

"I guess that's different," announced the owner of the Psyche knot, with
a high nasal accent. "Why didn't you say so at first? I guess Professor
Green is about the nicest gent'man around here."

Sitting down at the switchboard, she slipped on the headpiece with a
professional flourish. Then, with a hand-quicker-than-the-eye movement,
she pushed several organ stops up and down, stuck the end of a green
tube into a hole and remarked in a high pitched voice that had great
projective powers:

"Wellington Exchange? Hello! Yes, I know it's Christmas. On hand
for a long distance, are you? Oh, you-u-u. Well, say, listen.
To oblige a certain party--a very attractive gent'man--call up
'Fern-16-Wellington.'"

Then there was a detached monologue about a certain party in you know
where--same gent'man that was down Thanksgiving time. Suddenly, with
professional alertness, the telephone girl stopped short.

"Fern-16-Wellington? Here's your party. Booth 3," she added to Molly, in
a voice so radically different that Molly had a confused feeling that
the young person who operated the Wellington switchboard might be a
creature of two personalities. She retired timidly to the booth.

"Is this the residence of Miss Alice Fern?" she asked.

"It is," came the voice of a woman from the other end.

"I would like to speak to Professor Edwin Green."

"He's very much engaged just now. Is it important?"

"I think it is," hesitated Molly.

"What name?"

"Now what earthly difference does it make to her what my name is?" Molly
reflected with some irritation. "Would you please tell him it's a
message from the University?"

"I'll tell him nothing until you tell me your name."

Could this be Miss Alice Fern? Molly was fairly certain it was. Perhaps
she also had two personalities.

"It doesn't do any good to tell my name. I have nothing to do with the
message. I'm only delivering it for someone else. But if you want to
know, it's 'Brown.'"

"Mrs. or Miss Brown?"

Suddenly Molly heard the Professor's voice quite close to the telephone
saying:

"Alice, is that someone for me?"

"Yes, an individual of the illuminating name of Brown wishes to speak to
you. I don't see why they can't leave you alone for one day in the
year."

Molly smiled. Why was it that down deep in the unexplored caverns of her
soul there lurked an infinitesimally tiny feeling of relief that Miss
Alice Fern was plainly a vixen?

"How do you do, Professor Green? This is Molly Brown."

"How do you do? Is anything the matter?" answered the Professor in
rather an anxious tone.

"I wanted to tell you that Mr. Blount is here. Old Mr. Blount."

The Professor seemed too surprised to answer for a moment. Or it might
have been that Miss Alice Fern was lingering at his elbow and
embarrassed him.

"Where?" he asked.

"He spent last night in the cloister study. Now, he's at the inn. He
asked me to let you know. I met him on the road. He's very unhappy."

"How did he happen to be in the study?"

"He--he had no money."

"And now he's at the inn? Has he seen anyone but you?"

"No." Molly blushed hotly.

"I'll come right over. Thank you very much."

"Now, Edwin, what a nuisance!" broke in the voice of Miss Fern.

"Good-bye. Thank you again. I really must, Alice. Very impor----"

The receiver had been hung up and the connection lost.

"Oh, these cousins!" Molly reflected with a laugh as she hurried up to
her room.

                *       *       *       *       *

There was a gay party at the McLeans' that night and one unexpected
guest arrived just before dinner. It was Professor Green. They squeezed
him in somehow at the end of the table with the doctor, and the two made
merry together like school boys. Molly had never seen the Professor of
English Literature in such joyous spirits. After dinner, when the
dancing commenced, he sought her out and led her to a secluded sofa in
the back hall. She began at once by asking about Mr. Blount, but the
Professor was not listening.

"That's one of the prettiest dresses I've seen you wear," he
interrupted. "Yellow is not becoming to most people, but it is to you.
Probably because it has the same golden quality that's in your hair."

"I'm glad you like it," said Molly, turning red under his steady gaze.

"I found your note on my study floor," he went on.

"I was afraid you wouldn't remember what I was talking about, after
all," she exclaimed. "But I had to write it. I have never really been
happy since I said that cruel thing to you. I was so wretched the day
afterward, and when I rushed to find you in your study, you were gone!"
she broke off with a tearful glance into his eyes.

The Professor beamed upon her.

"So you were unhappy," he said, as if the statement was not entirely
unpleasing.

"Oh, yes. I know now that you were quite right to tell Miss Walker about
that silly episode of the burying of the slipper."

"But I never told her. I know the story, of course, and the explanation.
The President told me herself."

"But who did tell, then?"

"That I can't say."

It was now Molly's turn to beam on the Professor.

"I am glad you didn't tell her," she exclaimed in tones of great relief.
"You see, you didn't inform on Judith Blount that time, and I was hurt.
I couldn't help from being. I was really awfully sore."

"My dear child," said the Professor hurriedly, "promise hereafter to
regard me as a faithful friend. Never doubt my sincerity again."

"I promise," answered Molly, feeling intensely proud without knowing
why.

Then the talk drifted to Mr. Blount.

"And you haven't mentioned meeting him?" he asked. "Not even to Miss
Kean?"

Molly shook her head.

"You are a very unusual young woman, Miss Brown. It's important to keep
Mr. Blount's presence here a secret. If word got out that he had come
back, there would be a great hue and cry in the papers. I have him with
me now at my rooms until Richard gets here. The family will be very
grateful to you for your kindness to him."

Lawrence Upton was coming down the hall to claim Molly for a dance.

"Are you going back to the Ferns' to-morrow?" she asked hurriedly.

"I think not," answered the Professor with the ghost of a smile. "I am
detained here on business."

The next morning Molly received a short note from Professor Green,
inclosing a ten dollar bill.

There was a postscript which said:

"I've opened a barrel of greenings. Better come around and get some."



CHAPTER XVIII.

HEALING THE BLIND.


"But, Madeleine, I never touched an iron in my life. I wouldn't know how
to go about it," protested Judith Blount.

"It's high time you learned then, child. It's a very useful piece of
knowledge, I assure you. You may begin on handkerchiefs first. They are
easy, just a flat surface, and it doesn't matter if you scorch one,
especially as it's your own. Test the iron like this, see. Pick it up
with the holder, wet your finger and touch the bottom. If it gives out a
sizzly sound, it's fairly hot and may be used on something damp. It will
surely scorch dry material. Always sprinkle. Rough-dry things can't be
ironed decently unless they have been sprinkled and allowed to get damp
through and through."

Madeleine Petit's unceasing flow of conversation did not stop while
Judith took her first lesson in ironing.

"You see," continued Madeleine, "I've made quite a name for myself for
doing up fine things and I really need an assistant, Judith. And, since
you need the money, and I like you better than any girl in college, I
want you to help me."

Judith winced at the mention of poverty, but her face softened when
Madeleine spoke of friendship.

After all, was it not good to have a friend, a real tried and devoted
friend who had nothing to gain but friendship in return? Yes, Madeleine
did talk a great deal. We all have our faults. Judith's was a temper.
She knew that. But Madeleine was good company, nevertheless, much better
company than those false friends of Beta Phi days. She was charming and
pretty and she had a heart of pure gold. Moreover, she was a lady, if
she did talk so much.

Judith loved Madeleine. For the first time in her life she felt the
stirrings of a really deep affection for another girl. It had quickened
her parched soul like the waters of a freshet flowing through a thirsty
land. Madeleine had first gained the respect of the proud, discontented
girl by being always good-naturedly firm, and now she had gained her
love.

Furthermore, Judith felt for the first time the pleasure of doing
something for someone else. It was a matter of infinite secret joy to
her that she had been able to help Madeleine with her studies. In a way
she had constituted herself tutor to the little Southern girl; had
criticized her themes; given her a boost in the dreaded French
Literature and carried her over the blighting period of mid-year
examinations. Madeleine had spent Christmas with the Blounts at a
boarding house in New York and had given them a taste of Southern
conversation, humor and anecdotes that had made that dreary time for
them to blossom with new enjoyments.

And now Judith was learning to iron. At first she handled the iron quite
awkwardly, but in a few minutes she became interested and the pile of
handkerchiefs rapidly decreased.

"Of course, it isn't as if either one of us expects to have to iron
handkerchiefs always," went on Madeleine, "but it doesn't hurt us to
know how, just the same, and I have always found that doing common
things well only made one do uncommon things better. Now, I intend to be
a Professor of Mathematics. I don't know where nor how, but those are my
intentions. There's no ironing of jabots connected with mathematics, but
somehow I feel that ironing jabots well makes me more proficient in
mathematics.

"By the way, have you settled on anything to do yet? It's time you began
to think about it, unless you decide to take a Post Grad. course and be
with me next year. That would be perfectly grand, wouldn't it?"

Madeleine's small pretty hands paused an instant in their busy
fluttering over the garments she was sprinkling, and she smiled so
sweetly upon Judith that the black-browed young woman felt moved beyond
the power of speech and could only smile silently in reply.

Oh, heavens, it was good to have a friend! Madeleine had come at a time
when she most needed her; when the whole world was nothing but a black,
hideous picture and life was a dreary waste. Not her mother, not
Richard, not Cousin Edwin, could take the place of Madeleine.

"You know I always said I wouldn't work for a living, Madeleine," she
answered presently, gulping down these new, strange emotions.

"My dear, we all say such things, but it's only talk. And, after all,
it's better to work than to be an object of charity. Think of making
your own money; having it come in every month--say a hundred dollars, or
even more--earned by you? Why, it's glorious. It's better than running
across a gold mine by accident or inheriting a fortune, because you have
done it yourself. I intend to earn a great deal of money. I shall rise
from being a teacher to having a splendid school of my own. It will be
the most fashionable school in the South and all the finest families
will send their daughters there. And what will you be in my school,
Judith? Because you must commence now to work up to that eminence. Will
you be part owner with me?"

Judith laughed.

"You're an absurd, adorable, sweet child," she said, and went on ironing
busily.

After all, life was not so desperately unpleasant.

There was a knock on the door. Judith put down the iron hastily and
retreated to the window. She had not yet reached the point where she was
willing for others to see her engaged in this menial work.

"Come in," called Madeleine, without stopping an instant.

To Judith's relief, however, it was Mrs. O'Reilly.

"A note for you, Miss Blount, and the man's waiting for an answer."

Judith tore open the envelope impatiently. It was a bill of two years'
running, amounting to nearly forty dollars, from the stationery and
candy shop.

On the bottom she was requested to remit at once.

"Tell the man--anything, Mrs. O'Reilly. I can't see him. That's all."

"Certainly, Miss," said the Irish woman with a good-natured smile.

"These poor young college ladies was in hard luck just like the men
sometimes," she thought as she turned away.

Judith sat down and began to think. Richard was having a great struggle
to keep her at college, her mother and himself at the boarding house,
and her father in a sanitarium. It would really be unkind to burden him
with that bill; but what was to be done?

"Is it that old stationery man again?" asked Madeleine, who had
inherited a profound contempt for dunning shopkeepers.

"Yes, it is, and I don't know what to do."

"Why don't you put an advertisement in the 'Commune'? You have no idea
how it will bring in work. And then hang out a shingle, too. People have
got to learn to recognize you as a wage-earning person before they come
around and offer you things to do."

"But what can I do? I don't know how to iron well enough to take in
laundry, like you."

A voice outside called:

"Is this Miss Madeleine Petit's room?"

"Come in. Can't you see the name on the door?" answered Madeleine.
"There's only one Petit at Wellington and I'm the lady."

Millicent Porter now entered.

She looked smaller and more shriveled than ever in a beautiful mink coat
and cap and a velvet dress of a rich shade of blue that breathed
prosperity in every fold.

"This is the region where signs are out asking for work, isn't it?" she
asked in a pleasantly patronizing, unctious voice.

"We don't ask for work. We announce that we do it and the work comes,"
replied Madeleine, eyeing the visitor with a kind of humorous pity.

"Be that as it may," said Miss Porter, "I have some work I want done and
I'm looking for a very competent and reliable person to do it."

Judith winced at the word "reliable."

"This isn't a servants' agency, you know, Miss Porter," answered the
spunky Madeleine. "Those words are generally used when one engages a
cook or a housemaid. What is the work like?"

"I'm going to give an exhibition of my silver work at the George
Washington Bazaar. I may sell some of it if I can get the price, and
what I want is a skillful and re-- or rather clever----" Madeleine
blinked both eyes rapidly at the substitution--"person to help me get it
in order. Most of it is awfully tarnished and it will need a good deal
of polishing."

"How much will you pay a skillful, clever person?" demanded Madeleine,
determined to drive a good bargain and shrewdly guessing the kind of
person she had to deal with.

"I'll pay ten dollars," answered Millicent glibly.

"What are the pieces like?"

"Oh, there are chains, necklaces, platters and bowls, and a lot of ivory
things I have picked up in Europe that must be carefully washed."

"We'll do the work for fifteen dollars," announced Madeleine. "No less."

Judith could hardly preserve a grave countenance while this bargaining
was going on between the rich Miss Porter and her funny little Southern
friend.

"I think that's too much," declared Millicent.

"Not at all. The work requires care and, as you say, reliability. It
might be stolen, you know."

Madeleine snapped her eyes.

"Very well, then," said Millicent in a resigned tone of voice. "It's a
great deal to pay, but I suppose I can't do any better. I hear you do
everything well, Miss Petit."

"Miss Blount will do this," answered Madeleine. "If I do things well,
she does them better. Now, where do you want them cleaned? Down here or
up at your place?"

"Oh, I would never let them out of my studio," cried Millicent. "She
must come there, where she can be under my eye."

"But----" objected Judith, and paused at a glance from Madeleine.

It would be a crushing blow to her pride for her to go back to her old
rooms and rub tarnished silver for this perfectly insufferable Millicent
Porter. Yet fifteen dollars loomed up as quite a considerable sum, and,
with five dollars added, could be paid to the stationery man on account.

Did Judith realize in her secret soul that the bitter dose she was now
swallowing was only a dose of the same medicine she had once forced
others to swallow?

"Very well, then," said Madeleine, "we'll give you as much of Friday and
Saturday as will be necessary. We'll take a lunch up on Friday so that
we won't have to come back for supper----"

She waited a moment, wondering if Millicent would not invite them to
supper at the Beta Phi. Hospitality was so much a part of her upbringing
that it was impossible to conceive it lacking in others.

"I thought Miss Blount was to do the work."

"She will. I shall work under her as assistant rubber."

So, the bargain was clinched and Millicent departed.

"Disgusting little reptile!" cried Judith when the sounds of her
footsteps died away in the hall and the door banged behind her.

Could Judith forget that she herself had once belonged to that
overbearing class?

"Don't get all stirred up, Judith, it's bad for your digestion,"
ejaculated Madeleine. "That girl is nothing but a mere ripple on the
surface. She's ridiculous, but there's no harm in her. I am really sorry
for her, because she doesn't belong anywhere. She could never make a
friend, and she will never know what it is to be really liked. She
thinks she's a genius because she's learned how to beat out a few tawdry
silver chains, and as soon as she finishes one she locks it up in a box
and takes it out about once a decade to look it over. Why, she's just a
poor, starved, little creature without a spark of generosity in her
soul. What does she know about living and happiness?

"You and I know how to live," Madeleine continued, flourishing her iron.
"We're in the procession. We're moving on, learning and progressing.
We're going up all the time. I tell you the highest peak in the
Himalayas is not higher than my ambitions. And I intend to take you with
me, Judith, and when we get to the top we'll look back and see poor,
little Millicent Porter, shriveled to nothing at the bottom!"

Judith gave a strange, hysterical laugh. Suddenly she flew across the
room and embraced her friend.

"You could make me do anything, Madeleine," she cried. "Scale the
Himalayas or cut a tunnel through them." Taking her friend's small,
charming face between her two hands, she looked her in the eyes:
"Madeleine," she said, "did you know I used to be a blind girl? You have
healed me. I am beginning to see things as they are."



CHAPTER XIX.

A WARNING.


The girl who had been blind and could see and Madeleine of the
unconquerable soul appeared in Millicent's sumptuous apartment promptly
at three o'clock on Friday afternoon.

They carried with them a suitcase containing the implements of their
labor, taken chiefly from Madeleine's rag bag: some old stockings;
several wornout undervests and polishing cloths made from antiquated
flannel petticoats; also a bottle of ammonia and two boxes of silver
polish.

"Well, here we are," announced Madeleine, unconcernedly, when Millicent
had opened her door to them. "I hope you have the things out and ready.
Our time is valuable."

Of no avail were Millicent's pompous and important airs. Madeleine
insisted on treating her as a familiar and an equal.

"I have put you in the den. You will be less disturbed and you can use
the writing table to spread things on. Please be care----"

"Have you made an inventory?" interrupted Madeleine.

"No," faltered Millicent. Why was it that this poverty-stricken little
person took all the wind out of her sails?

"Make it please at once in duplicate. Keep one yourself and give us the
other."

"But----" began Millicent.

"No, we will not touch a thing until the inventory is made. No
'competent, reliable' person would think of doing work like this without
an inventory. We'll wait in the other room until you have made it."

There was nothing to do but proceed with the inventory. It was plain
that Madeleine knew the manner of person she was dealing with.

While the two girls waited in the big sitting room, now a studio,
Madeleine drew a book from her ulster pocket and began to study. The
little Southerner was never idle one moment of her waking day and the
other seven hours she put in sleeping very soundly. Judith began to look
about her.

The room was little changed from the old days, except that it was even
richer in aspect. There were some splendid old altar pieces on the walls
and a piece of beautiful old rose brocade hung between the studio and
the den. But, after all, what did it come to? Was anyone really fond of
Millicent with all her wealth? Why, Judith, poor and forgotten, had made
a friend. She felt small tenderness toward the rest of the world, but
she loved Madeleine.

Molly Brown came into the room at this stage in Judith's reflections.

"Why, hello, girls!" she exclaimed cordially, shaking hands with the
silver-rubbers. "Where is Millicent?"

"She is making an inventory of her valuables before we begin to clean
them," replied Madeleine, smiling sweetly and blinking both eyes at
once. "We insisted, because it would have been unprofessional not to
have had one."

"The idea!" said Molly. "No, it wouldn't. Besides, you're not
professionals."

"Yes, we are," insisted Madeleine. "Everything we do for money is
professional work."

"Oh, very well," laughed Molly, "and I suppose you'll polish them up so
carefullee that some day you'll be admirals in the Queen's Navee."

"Nothing less," said Madeleine. "It's my theory exactly."

"Oh, Molly," called the voice of Millicent from the den, "please come
and help me with this stupid thing. I can't seem to get it straight."

And that was how Molly came to be admitted into Millicent's inner
sanctum where she kept her most valued possessions under lock and key.

The top of a heavy oak chest rested against the wall and inside was a
perfect mine of silver articles, many of them Millicent's own work;
there was also a quantity of small ivory figures collected by her in her
travels.

"I'll lift out the things and call their names and you can copy each one
twice, like this: one silver necklace--grape-vine design."

Molly sat down and began to make the list. They were nearly finished
when Rosomond Chase's voice was heard in the next room.

"Millicent, please come out for a moment. I want to see you on
business."

Molly, left alone, went on with the list, taking each article from the
box and noting it carefully twice on the inventory.

In the meantime Millicent and her friend were having a secret conference
in the bedroom, while Madeleine and Judith silently waited in the
studio. The two silver-rubbers were presently startled by the apparition
of Molly standing in the doorway. She had the look of one fleeing before
a storm, her face very pale and her eyes dilated with horror. She
started to speak, but checked herself and closed the door behind her.
Then, hurrying into the room, she said in a low, strained voice:

"Madeleine, I would not advise you to do any work for Miss Porter."

The two girls exchanged a long look.

"Do you really mean that?" asked Madeleine.

"I was never more in earnest in my life."

"But, can't you explain?" demanded Judith Blount.

Molly shook her head and rushed from the room.

"Come on, Judith," said Madeleine, slipping on her ulster.

"But, this is absurd!" objected Judith again.

"Child," exclaimed her friend, "don't you know human nature well enough
to understand that a girl like Molly Brown would never have given a
piece of advice like that without knowing what she was talking about?"

"She's jealous because she would like to earn the money herself."

"Nonsense," said Madeleine. "She is not that kind. You know perfectly
well that she is the most generous-hearted, unselfish girl in
Wellington. She wouldn't injure a fly if she could help herself, and I
think we had better take her advice."

But Judith was stubborn.

"We've come to do the work. Why go?"

Having once committed herself to this menial labor, she wished to see it
through. After all, whatever Molly had against Millicent Porter couldn't
concern them, and in the end Madeleine reluctantly gave in.

Presently Millicent and Rosomond came into the room.

"What became of Molly Brown?" demanded Millicent suspiciously.

"She couldn't wait," answered Madeleine briefly.

"Was there anything the matter with her?"

"She seemed in perfectly good health as far as I know, but you had
better hurry up with the inventory, Miss Porter. We are losing time."

Rosomond helped Millicent with the remainder of the list, and by four
o'clock Madeleine and Judith were installed in the den hard at work. All
afternoon and evening they toiled and the next morning they appeared
soon after breakfast and started in again.

"This is easier than cracking rock, and the pay is considerably better,
but I am just as tired between the shoulders as a common laborer,"
Madeleine exclaimed, rubbing the last tray until she could see her own
piquant little face reflected in its depths.

"As for me, I feel as if I had been drawn and quartered," complained
Judith. "It's worth more than fifteen dollars. We should have asked
twenty."

"I would have asked it, if I had thought she could have been induced to
part with so much money, but I saw that fifteen was her limit."

Judith laughed.

"You're a regular little bargain driver," she said admiringly.

"No, not always," answered Madeleine. "Only when I meet another one."

"Well, I am glad we undertook it, and I am gladder still we have
finished it," said Judith.

They arranged the silver on half of the table, and the small army of
carved ivory ornaments, for which Millicent seemed to have a passion,
on the other half. Then, removing the loose gloves which had protected
their hands, they put on their things and marched into the next room
with expectant faces. For the first time in all her life Judith had
earned a sum of money, and the humblest wage-earner was not more anxious
for his week's pay than she was.

"Will you please inspect the work, Miss Porter, and give us our money?
We are tired and want to go home," said Madeleine.

Millicent was propped up against some velvet cushions in the window
seat. There was an expression of nervous worry on her thin sallow face,
and around her on the floor lay the scattered bits of a note she had
read, re-read, and torn into little pieces.

She was in a very bad humor, and her warped nature was groping for
something on which to vent its accumulated spleen. She rose from the
window seat, swept grandly into the next room and glanced at the
tableful of silver and ivory.

"It looks fairly well," she said; for Millicent was one of those persons
who grudged even her praise. "What was the amount I promised to pay?"

"I dare say you haven't forgotten it so soon," answered the intrepid
Madeleine. "Fifteen dollars."

"Oh, was it so much? Will this evening do? I haven't that sum on hand
just now. I'll have to go down to the bank."

"A check will do, then," said Madeleine, sitting down in one of the
carved chairs.

"I never pay with checks. I only pay cash. I would prefer to draw out
the money and pay you this evening."

"Nonsense," exclaimed Madeleine. "Besides, you know very well that the
bank closes on Saturdays at noon, and it's now nearly four o'clock."

"So it does. Then you will have to wait until Monday."

"We won't wait until Monday," ejaculated Madeleine. "We haven't been
rubbing silver for our health. You'd better look around in your top
drawer and see if you can't scrape fifteen dollars together, because I
tell you plainly if you don't you'll regret it."

"How regret it?" asked the other suspiciously. "I'm not obliged to pay
it until Monday, and I won't," she added stubbornly.

It was growing late. The girls were exhausted and hungry. They had eaten
no lunch except crackers and cheese. At last Judith, utterly crushed
with disappointment, drew Madeleine aside.

"Suppose we leave her," she said. "I can't stand it any longer."

Without another word they took their departure, leaving Millicent still
in the window seat looking pensively out on the campus. They were hardly
outside before she sprang to the door and locked it. Then she hastened
to the den and began to pack feverishly and with trembling nervous
hands. Wrapping each article of silver in tissue paper, she placed it in
the chest on a bed of raw cotton. When the table was entirely cleared,
she closed and locked the chest and, addressing a tag, wired it to the
handle.

Next she drew a trunk from the big closet and packed it with her best
clothes. This done, she crept downstairs to the telephone and engaged
Mr. Murphy to call that night for an express box and a trunk.

The Beta Phi girls were all at a Saturday night dance at one of the
other houses when Mr. Murphy called. Millicent explained to the matron
that her rooms were too crowded and she was sending some of her things
back to New York.

As quietly as possible she drew her other two trunks from the closet,
and by three in the morning the rooms were entirely dismantled and all
drapery and pictures carefully packed away. These also she locked and
tagged with the precision of one who intends to lose nothing, no matter
what's to pay. One more task remained. This was performed in the privacy
of the den behind closed doors. When it was done there stood on the
table a square box addressed in artistic lettering to "Miss M. Brown,
No. 5 Quadrangle."

Placing her watch on her pillow, Millicent now rested for several hours
without sleeping. At last, at seven o'clock, dressed for a journey, with
suit case, umbrella and hand bag, she crept softly downstairs and
plunged into the early morning mists.

Not once did she glance back at the two gray towers as she hastened down
to the station, and when the seven-thirty train for New York pulled in,
she boarded it quickly and turned her face away from Wellington
forever.



CHAPTER XX.

THE PARABLE OF THE SUN AND WIND.


If Molly had been carrying a stick of dynamite she could not have held
it more gingerly than the square box she was taking to President Walker
on Monday morning.

"That was the reason I never liked her," she thought, mentioning no
names even in her own mind. "I wonder if it is true that she couldn't
help it. It must be, when she was so rich. What could she want with
Minerva's medals or Margaret's initialed ring? Both M's, though," she
thought, half smiling.

"Oh, Miss Brown," cried a voice behind her, and Madeleine Petit came
tearing across the campus as fast as her little feet could carry her.
"Is it true that Millicent Porter has run away from college?"

"I'm afraid it is," answered Molly.

"She owed us fifteen dollars," cried Madeleine tragically. "She promised
to pay this morning, and I have just heard rumors that she has
disappeared, bag and baggage."

"You _did_ do the work for her?" asked Molly.

"Yes, really, against my will. I knew you would never advise without
having something to advise about. But Judith was determined, and the
only reason I gave in was because she had never done any work before,
and I thought it would be good for her to make a start. She was so happy
over earning the money. It was really wonderful to see how she
brightened up. And when we couldn't get a cent out of Miss Porter on
Saturday afternoon, poor old Judith was so disappointed that she cried.
Think of that."

"What a shame," exclaimed Molly, appreciating Judith's feelings with
entire sympathy. "I'm sure I should have cried if I had done all that
hard work and then couldn't collect."

"But what are we to do? Must we sit back quietly and let the rich
trample the poor? Don't you think she is coming back?"

"I think not," answered Molly.

"Did you find out something those few minutes you were in the den?"

Molly nodded her head.

"Is she----"

The two girls exchanged frightened glances.

"And her father a millionaire, too! Well, I never," cried Madeleine. "I
think I'll just drop him a letter," which she accordingly did that very
day. But she never received an answer, and the debt still remains
unpaid.

In the meantime Molly was closeted with Miss Walker for ten minutes.

"It's strange," said the President. "I just had a letter this morning
from an old friend at the head of a private school warning me about this
unfortunate girl who was a pupil there."

But Molly was loath to discuss the matter, and still more loath to keep
stolen property in her private possession. She placed the box on the
President's desk and hastened away as soon as she politely could. That
afternoon there appeared on the bulletin board the following unusual
announcement:

  "All those who have lost property during the winter may possibly be
  able to obtain it by applying to the Secretary of the President."

That the thief had been apprehended at last was of course understood.
Putting two and two together, the Wellington girls concluded that
Millicent Porter must have had some important reason for fleeing early
in the morning without explanations, leaving two trunks and a debt of
honor behind her. The trunks were afterwards expressed, according to
directions left in her room.

But, for the honor of Wellington, open conversation on the subject was
not encouraged, and most of the talk was in whispers behind closed
doors.

A crowd of the girls from the Quadrangle, where most of the pilfering
had been carried on, went together to claim their property on Monday
evening. Those who had lost money returned disappointed. The box of
restored goods contained none whatever. But the other articles were duly
claimed and distributed, with the exception of one.

"Does any one know to whom this belongs?" asked the secretary, placing
a photograph in a beautiful silver frame on the top of the desk.

"It must be yours, Nance," announced Edith Williams, with a teasing
smile.

"It is not," said Nance emphatically.

The other girls, now gathered around the picture, began to laugh.

Undoubtedly the small lanky boy in kilts in the photograph was Andy
McLean.

"Perhaps it is Mrs. McLean's," suggested some one.

Margaret, examining the frame with the eye of an experienced detective,
remarked in her usual authoritative tone:

"The design on the frame is Japanese."

"Otoyo," cried Judy, and the little Japanese, lingering near the door,
crept timidly up and claimed the picture. Her face was a deep scarlet,
as, with drooping head, she rushed from the room.

"Bless the child's heart, who'd have thought she had a boy's picture,"
laughed Katherine Williams.

That very night Otoyo returned the photograph to Mrs. McLean, and with
many tears confessed that she had removed it from the drawer without so
much as asking permission.

"My sweet lass," exclaimed the doctor's wife, kissing her, "you shall
have a good picture of Andy if you like, taken just lately. I am only
too happy that you admire his picture enough to put it in that beautiful
frame. I'm sure I think he's a braw lad, the handsomest in three
kingdoms; but I am his mother, you know, and not accountable."

Together the two women fitted the latest photograph of the callow youth
into the frame. Otoyo presently bore it triumphantly back to her room
and placed it on the mantel shelf where all the world could see it. That
night she slept with an easy conscience and a thankful heart. Her one
dishonest deed was wiped out forever.

The untangling of one snarl in the skein of affairs generally leads to
the untangling of many others. So it happened that Molly and Judy, by
the turn which events had taken, were able to clear up a mystery that
had puzzled them for months.

"I feel, Judy," remarked Molly, one day, "that we ought to do something
nice for Minerva Higgins, because of--you know what. We mentioned no
names and never breathed it even to each other except vaguely Christmas
day, you remember. But we did suspect her, and thinking is just as bad
as talking when you think a thing like that, so cruel and horrible."

Judy nodded her head thoughtfully.

"But she will never know we are making reparation, Molly," she said. "It
will have to be purely for our own private satisfaction."

"Of course," replied Molly. "That is what I meant. We did her a wrong in
our minds, and in our minds we must undo it."

"And how, pray?" demanded Judy.

"Well, let me see. Couldn't we ask her here some night with just the
three of us, and make her fudge and be awfully sweet and interested?"

"I suppose we could, if we made a superhuman mental and physical
effort," answered Judy lazily. "And it would take both. Why not let well
enough alone?"

"But it isn't 'well enough,' Judy, and we've had an ugly thought about
her for weeks."

"Do you call those practical jokes she played on us last autumn pretty?"
demanded Judy, who had no liking for Minerva.

"No, but she has learned better now. Anyhow, Judy, I want to try an
experiment. Do you remember the allegory of the sun and the wind and the
man wrapped in his cloak? The wind made a wager with the sun that he
could make the man take off his cloak, and he blew and blew with all his
might, and the more he blew the closer the man wrapped his coat about
him. Then the wind gave up and the sun came out and tried his method of
just shining very brightly and cheerfully, and presently the man was so
hot he took off his coat."

Judy laughed.

"Meaning, I suppose, that we have been trying the human gale method
instead of the merry little sunshine way. All right, Molly, dearest,
bring on your Minerva and I'll be as gentle as a May morning. But don't
let the Gemini come, because we could never carry it through if they
were present."

It was agreed that the three friends, Molly, Nance and Judy, should
entertain the vain little freshman at an exclusive party all to
themselves. Other persons were advised to keep away.

"Hands off," exclaimed Judy. "Stay away from our premises this evening,
ladies, because we are going to try an experiment with explosives, and
it might be dangerous."

It was unfortunate that, on the very evening that Minerva Higgins had
arranged to go to the three friends, somebody played a practical joke on
her and she was in an extremely bad humor. Although she had regained her
two medals, she was always losing things and crying her losses up and
down the corridor. She usually found the articles mislaid in her own
room, but she had a suspicious nature and was generally on the lookout
for thefts. That afternoon she had rushed into the corridor crying:

"My water pitcher has been stolen from me. I will not have people going
into my room and taking my things."

"As if anybody wanted her old water pitcher," remarked Margaret, in a
tone of disgust.

Edith Williams smiled mysteriously.

Presently Minerva and the matron, much bored, passed the door.

"Come on, let's go and see the fun," suggested Edith.

"How do you know there will be any fun?" demanded Margaret.

"There's likely to be."

They strolled slowly up the corridor, and as they passed the door the
matron was saying:

"Really, Miss Higgins, I must request you not to raise any more false
alarms like this. There is your water pitcher."

She pointed to the chandelier where the pitcher had been hoisted on a
piece of cord. A good many other girls had gathered about Minerva's
door, and a ripple of laughter swept along the hall.

"Edith, did you play that joke?" asked Margaret later.

"Judy was a party to it, and Katherine and several others," answered
Edith evasively. "We thought it high time to put an end to burglar
alarms. Minerva Higgins has come to be a public nuisance."

Margaret smiled. Her dignity would never allow her to enter into what
she called "rowdy jokes." However, it did not mar her enjoyment of the
story about them afterward.

But it was an angry, sullen Minerva who presented herself at the door of
No. 5, Quadrangle, that evening at eight o'clock. She had left off her
medals and she had not worn the indigo blue. Judy was relieved at this,
but Molly and Nance considered it a bad sign.

The first half-hour of the reparation party dragged slowly.

"We've piped for Minerva and she will not dance; we've mourned for her
and she will not mourn. It's a hopeless case," Judy remarked in an aside
to Nance.

But Molly had formed a resolution and she was determined to carry it
through.

"Behind that Chinese wall of vanity, Minerva has a little soul hidden
somewhere and I'm going to reach it to-night if I have to blast with
dynamite," she thought.

Nance was stirring fudge on the chafing dish and Judy was occupying
herself strumming chords on the piano. Molly led Minerva to the divan
and sat down beside her.

"Are you glad you came to college, Minerva?" she asked, wondering what
in the world to talk about.

"No," answered the other emphatically. "I detest college. Except that
the studies are higher, I think Mill Town High School is better run. I
don't like college girls, either. They are all conceited snobs."

"Perhaps you will like it better when you are a sophomore and have more
liberty," suggested Molly. "The first year one can't look forward to
much pleasure. But a freshman is always under inspection, you see. If
she accepts the situation without complaining and is nice and obliging
and modest, it's like so much treasure laid by for her the next year
when she finds how popular she is with the other girls."

"It's not like that in Mill Town. A freshman is just as good as anybody
else," snapped Minerva.

Judy, overhearing this statement, blinked at Nance, who smiled furtively
and went on stirring fudge.

Molly still persisted with the patience of one who looks for certain
success.

"The most interesting part of being a freshman," she continued, "is that
a girl begins to find out about herself, and by the time she's a
sophomore she knows what she really wants."

"Oh, but I knew perfectly well what I wanted before I came," interrupted
Minerva in a lofty tone, "I want to study the dead languages."

"But there is something you want more than that," broke in Molly. "You
want to be popular."

Minerva gave her a suspicious glance, but Molly was beaming kindly upon
her with all the warmth of her affectionate nature.

"How do you know that?" she demanded in a somewhat softened tone.

"It was not hard to guess. You said you were disappointed with the girls
here because they seemed to be snobs. Now if you hadn't minded it very
much, you never would have mentioned it. Don't you think the girls are
just a little afraid of you? You see, they had heard you were the
brightest girl in your school and when they saw all the medals and you
talked to them on such deep subjects, they were scared off. They
thought, perhaps, you wouldn't care for them because they didn't know
enough. After all, people's feeling toward you is just a reflection of
what you feel toward them. If you are interested and admire and love
them, they are pretty sure to feel the same toward you. You see, I know
you can be just as nice and human and everyday as the rest of us--"
Molly laid her hand on Minerva's--"but the others haven't had a chance
yet to find out."

Minerva's stiff figure relaxed a little and she leaned against Molly
confidingly.

"I do want to be liked," she whispered. "All my life I've wanted it more
than anything in the world. But even at Mill Town the girls were afraid
of me, just as you say they are here. I might as well own up, as you
have guessed it already."

"But it's only a question of time now before you make lots of friends,"
said Molly, "You are so clever that you'll find out how to make them
like you."

"But how?"

"Well," said Molly, "I think people who are sympathetic and who listen
more than they talk generally have a good many friends. I'm afraid I've
talked more than I listened this evening," she added, pinching Minerva's
cheek.

"But you've talked about me," answered Minerva. Suddenly her face turned
very red and her eyes filled with tears. "I shall not wear the medals
any more," she whispered unsteadily. "And--there is something I want to
confess. I--I waited for you that night you were on the lake, and I sent
an unsigned note to Miss Walker the next day to get even with you
because you wouldn't let me go walking with you."

Judy, at the piano, was singing a vociferous medley, and Nance was
joining in.

"That's all right," whispered Molly. "It was much better for her to know
because we would have been misrepresented always unless someone had told
her, and we couldn't exactly tell her ourselves. But I think it's
awfully nice of you to confess, Minerva. Now, we shall be better friends
than ever."

The two girls kissed each other. The cloak of vanity had slipped off
and the smartest-girl-in-Mill-Town-High-School became her real natural
self.

Until a quarter before ten the four girls laughed and talked pleasantly
together, while the convivial fudge plate was passed from one to the
other. But never once did Mill Town High School or comparative philology
come into the conversation.

When at last the evening was at an end and Minerva had departed, Nance
and Judy led Molly gravely to the divan.

"Now, tell us how you did it," they demanded in one voice.

"I only told her the truth," answered Molly, "but I didn't put it
so that it would hurt her. I said the reason why the girls were
stand-offish was because they were afraid of her learning and her gold
medals."

"Marvelous, brilliant creature!" cried Judy, embracing her friend, while
Nance laid a cheek against Molly's.

"You are a perfect darling, Molly," she said.



CHAPTER XXI.

THE JUNIOR GAMBOL.


     "Hail, Wellington, beloved home!
      Hail, spot forever dear!
      We greet thy towers and cloisters gray,
      Thy meadows fresh in spring array;
      We greet thee, Wellington, to-day;
      Thy hills and dales; thy valleys green;
      Thy wood and lake--tranquil, serene;
      We greet thee far and near."

Molly and Judy were responsible for the words of these stirring lines,
which with three other verses were sung by the junior class to the air
of "Beulah Land," the music having been adapted to the words rather than
the words to the music.

The entire junior class, a long, slender line of swaying white stretched
across the campus, lifted its voice in praise of Wellington that May
Day morning at the Junior Gambol. In the center waved the class flag of
primrose and lavender. In the background was the gray pile of Wellington
and in the front stretched the level close-cut lawn of the campus,
fringed by the crowd of spectators. It was an impressive sight and when
the fresh young voices united in the class song of "Hail, Wellington!",
Miss Walker was moved to tears.

"The dear children!" she exclaimed to Professor Green at her side,
"really I feel all choked up over their devotion."

Winding in and out in an intricate march, the class moved slowly across
the campus until it reached the sophomores grouped together in one spot.
Here they paused while the President of the juniors made a speech and
presented the President of the sophomores with a small spade wreathed in
smilax, a symbol of learning, or rather of the delving for learning
which that class had in prospect in another year. Next the juniors
approached the seniors and sang one of the Wellington songs, "Seniors,
Farewell."

Then the line broke up and moved to the center of the campus, where
stood a May pole. An orchestra, stationed under one of the trees, began
playing an old English country dance, and the juniors seized the
streamers and tripped in and out with the graceful dignity suitable to
their new, uplifted position of seniors about-to-be.

Not one of the Wellington festivals could so stir her daughters of the
present or the past, now grouped on the edge of the campus, as this
Junior May-Day Gambol.

"Perhaps it is so sad because it is so beautiful," Miss Pomeroy observed
to Miss Bowles, teacher in Higher Mathematics, wiping her eyes
furtively. But Miss Bowles, not being an ex-daughter of Wellington, and
having a taste for more prosaic and practical pleasures, regarded the
scene with only a polite and tolerant interest.

"Who is to be the May Queen?" asked Mrs. McLean, standing in the same
group with Miss Walker and Professor Green.

As each succeeding year brought around the Junior Gambol the good woman
hastened to view it with undiminished interest.

"It would be difficult to say," answered Miss Walker. "In a class of
such unusual individuality it will be very hard to select one who
deserves it more than another."

"It's a question of popularity more than intelligence," observed the
Professor. "I think I might hazard a guess," he added in a lower tone,
but his voice was drowned in a burst of music. The juniors were singing
an old English glee song, "To the Cuckoo."

    "'Hail, beauteous stranger of the grove,
      Thou messenger of spring,
      Now heaven repairs thy rural seat
      And woods thy welcome ring.'"

Many guesses were hazarded regarding the junior May Queen, not only
among the crowds of spectators, but in the class itself.

The votes for the Queen were cast by secret ballot in charge of a
committee of three. Wellington traditions required that the name of the
chosen one should be kept in entire secrecy until the clock in the tower
struck noon on May Day. Then the junior donkey was led forth garlanded
with flowers. He had officiated on this occasion now for ten years. This
was the great moment when the identity of the most popular girl in the
junior class was established for all time, and it was an important
moment, because the one selected was generally chosen as Class President
the next year.

And now, as the tower clock boomed twelve deep strokes, there was a
stirring among the spectators and a craning of necks. Three juniors
appeared at the end of the campus, leading the aged donkey, who flicked
his tail and walked gingerly over the turf. He wore a garland of
daffodils and lilacs and moved sedately along, mindful of the importance
of his position.

The three girls were Nance Oldham, Caroline Brinton and Edith Williams.
One of them carried a wreath of narcissus and the other two held the
ribbon reins of the donkey.

According to the time-honored rule, they approached their classmates
with grave, still faces. It was really a solemn moment and the juniors
waiting in an unbroken line never moved nor smiled.

The spectators held their breath and for a moment Wellington was so
still that every human thing in it might have been turned to stone.

Why was it so exciting, this choosing of the May Queen?

No one could tell, and yet it was always the same. Even Miss Bowles felt
a lump rise in her throat. Many of the alumnæ shamelessly wept, and
Professor Green, watching the three white figures move slowly in front
of the line of juniors, wondered if no one else could hear the pounding
of his pulses.

Presently the committee came to a stop. The Professor thrust his hands
into his pockets and drew a deep breath.

Nance stepped forward and placed the wreath on somebody's head. The
spectators could see that she was quite tall and slender, and that she
shrank back with surprise and shyness as she was led forth and bidden to
mount the donkey, which she did with perfect ease and grace, as one who
has mounted horses all her life.

"Who is it?" cried a dozen voices. "They look so much alike."

Scores of opera glasses and field glasses were raised.

"It's Molly Brown, of course," cried a girl.

The Professor smiled happily.

"Of course," he repeated, thrusting his hands deeper into his pockets.

And now the ban of silence was lifted. The orchestra played; the
audience cheered and the three classes gave their particular yells in
turn, while the juniors, marching two by two, followed Molly Brown,
riding the donkey, around the entire circuit of the campus.

As for Molly Brown, she hung her head and blushed, looking neither to
the right nor to the left.

"The sweet lass, she might be a bride, she is so shy!" ejaculated Mrs.
McLean as the procession moved slowly by.

"Hurrah for Miss Molly Brown of Kentucky!" yelled a group of Exmoor
students.

"'Here's to Molly Brown, drink her down,'" sang the entire student body
of Wellington.

It was a thing that happened every year and there were those who had
seen it thirty times or more, and still the spectacle was ever new.

"I think I must be dreaming," Molly was saying to herself. "Of course, I
might have known Nance and Judy would have voted for me and perhaps one
or two others,--but so many--and what have I done to deserve it? I have
hardly seen anything of Caroline Brinton and her crowd. 'Oh Lord, make
me thankful for these and all thy mercies,'" she added, repeating the
family grace, which somehow seemed appropriate to this stirring moment.

After the triumphal march, Molly with the class officers, flanked by the
rest of the class, held an informal reception on the lawn. This was
followed by the Junior Lunch, quite an elaborate affair, served in the
gymnasium, decorated for the occasion by the sophomores.

Lawrence Upton was Molly's guest for the day. Many of the girls had
asked Exmoor students, but Nance had been visited with a disappointment
that was too amusing to be annoying.

Otoyo Sen, on the sophomore committee for decorating the gymnasium, and
therefore entitled to ask a guest, had not let the grass grow under her
little feet one instant. The moment the committee had been selected, she
sent off a formal, polite note to Andy McLean, 2nd, inviting him to be
her guest.

"Oh, Nance, that's one on you," cried Judy, when she heard this bit of
news. "You always thought Andy was so much your property that no one
would ever think of treading on your preserves. It's just like Japan,
creeping quietly in and taking possession."

"I suppose Andy will be hurt because I didn't get there first," replied
Nance, laughing good-naturedly. "I suppose I shall have to ask Louis
Allen, but I don't think it will do Andy any harm to know there are
other fishes in the sea."

"I guess it won't," answered Judy. "Nance is learning a thing or two,"
she added to herself.

But all's fair in love and war, and there was no more charming figure on
the campus that day than little Otoyo in a pink organdy and a large hat
trimmed with pink roses. On her face was an expression of shy, discreet
triumph as of one who has gained a victory by stratagem.

The Junior Gambol came to an end at six that evening, and the tired
students repaired to their rooms to rest and relax after eight hours
of continuous entertaining. The eight friends of old Queen's days had
gathered in No. 5 of the Quadrangle, where refreshments were being
handed around, chiefly lemonade and hickory-nut cake. Eight limp young
women in dressing-gowns draped themselves about the divans and in the
arm chairs to discuss the joys of the day.

Molly, at the window, was reading something written on a card tied to
the stem of an exceedingly large yellow apple. It was Professor Edwin
Green's card, and the inscription thereon read: "The first of the three
golden apples was won to-day. Congratulations and best wishes."

Untying the card, she slipped it into her portfolio.

"Shall I divide it or eat it alone?" she asked herself, and, without
waiting for the second voice to answer, she seized Judy's silver knife
and divided the apple into eight sections, which she passed around the
company.

"Did this come from the Garden of Hesperides, Molly?" asked Edith
Williams, always ready with her classic allusions.

"I wouldn't be surprised if it did," answered Molly, smiling
mysteriously.

There was much to talk about that evening. It was the moment for
reminiscences and they reviewed the past year with all its excitements
and pleasures. When Millicent Porter had departed from Wellington in
dishonorable flight, her place in the Shakespeareans had been
immediately filled, and Judy Kean was the girl selected; which goes to
show that after a good deal of suffering and when the edge is taken off
the appetite, we generally get what we once earnestly desired. Judy was
not excited over the honor paid her, but she acquitted herself
creditably in the beautiful performance of "A Winter's Tale," which the
society eventually produced.

She sat on the floor now, leaning against Molly, whom, next to her
father and mother, she loved best in all the world. Without realizing
it herself, Judy's character had been wonderfully developed and
strengthened by the events of that winter and she looked on the world
with a new and broader vision.

It was nearly bedtime; the night was warm and still and through the open
windows came the sound of singing. The girls were silent for a while,
too weary to make any more conversation.

"And next year we'll be hoary old seniors," suddenly announced Judy,
following up a train of thought.

Several in the company sighed audibly. Already the thought of parting
from each other and from their beloved Wellington cast a shadow before
it.

But this sorrowful last year was to be filled with interest and happy
times, as you will see who read the next volume of this series, entitled
"MOLLY BROWN'S SENIOR DAYS."



                *       *       *       *       *



Transcriber's note:

Besides some minor printer's errors the following corrections have
been made: on page 265 and 269 "Madeleine" has been changed to
"Millicent" (helped Millicent with the remainder) (leaving
Millicent still in the window seat). Otherwise the original has been
preserved, including inconsistent spelling and hyphenation. Additional:
"Rosomond Chase" was called "Rosamond" in the first book of this series,
"Molly Brown's Freshman Year."





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