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Title: The Amazing Inheritance
Author: Sterrett, Frances R. (Frances Roberta), 1869-1947
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.

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THE AMAZING
INHERITANCE


FRANCES R. STERRETT



By FRANCES R. STERRETT


  THE AMAZING INHERITANCE
  THESE YOUNG REBELS
  NANCY GOES TO TOWN
  REBECCA'S PROMISE
  JIMMIE THE SIXTH
  WILLIAM AND WILLIAMINA
  MARY ROSE OF MIFFLIN
  UP THE ROAD WITH SALLIE
  THE JAM GIRL



THE AMAZING
INHERITANCE


BY
FRANCES R. STERRETT

AUTHOR OF "THESE YOUNG REBELS,"
"MARY ROSE OF MIFFLIN," "NANCY GOES
TO TOWN," "THE JAM GIRL," ETC.


[Illustration]


D. APPLETON AND COMPANY
NEW YORK :: 1922 :: LONDON



COPYRIGHT, 1922, BY
D. APPLETON AND COMPANY



TO
THE NEW MEMBER OF OUR FAMILY
MIRIAM CONFER MITCHELL



I


Tessie Gilfooly was a queen.

A queen! Just imagine! It was far more unbelievable to Tessie than it
can possibly be to you. She stared at the man who had brought her the
amazing news. A queen!

A minute before and Tessie had been only a big-eyed, dreamy salesgirl in
the hardware department of Waloo's largest department store, the
Evergreen. Mr. Walker, the long, thin head of the department, had just
reprimanded her severely because she had given a customer an aluminum
saucepan when the customer had asked for an aluminum frying-pan.

"You must pay more attention to what customers ask for, Miss Gilfooly,"
scowled Mr. Walker.

"She asked for a saucepan," insisted Tessie stubbornly. Tessie was tired
of being blamed for the mistakes of other people.

"Well, she wanted a frying-pan," Mr. Walker said, and his tone was short
and crisp, like the best pastry. "In the Evergreen, Miss Gilfooly, a
customer is to get what she wants. And the customer is always right! We
have to make that rule so we'll keep our customers. Don't let this
happen again!"

As he walked away two big tears gathered in Miss Gilfooly's blue eyes.
The injustice of the world and especially of long, thin Mr. Walker, who
would stand by an unreasonable customer instead of by a tired salesgirl,
made her sick.

And now she was a queen!

It does sound unbelievable. But after all you need not lift your black
or your brown or your yellow eyebrows and say it is impossible. Far more
impossible stories appear in your newspaper every day. Just this morning
there was a tale of a set of china, one hundred and ten pieces, which
was stolen from a residence on the River Drive and carried across the
Mississippi River into Wisconsin and returned to its owner without one
of the hundred and ten pieces being broken or even nicked. To prove this
surprising story there were statements from Mrs. Joshua Cabot, who had
been robbed, and from Stuttering Jimmie, the robber, who had showed that
he was a quick and expert packer. Without the statement of Mrs. Joshua
Cabot, easily the leader of the Waloo younger matrons, you never would
have believed the tale, but no one could question the word of young Mrs.
Joshua Cabot. Whoever made the phrase that truth is stranger than
fiction knew exactly what he was talking about for nothing could have
been stranger than for a burglar to steal a full set of Wedgewood china
or for Tessie Gilfooly to find herself a queen with a real kingdom and
some thousands of real subjects.

Only that morning Tessie had grumbled and twisted her face into a most
unbecoming scowl because life for her was just a dreary, weary round of
work. She found fault with her oatmeal and skim milk because they were
not strawberries and thick yellow cream and was just as annoying and
disagreeable as a discontented girl of nineteen could possibly be.

"I never have any fun!" she wailed, and her small brother Johnny, who
was eating his oatmeal and skim milk as if they were strawberries and
cream, looked at her in surprise. What was the matter with old Tessie
this morning, anyway? "I never have anything!" went on Tessie
passionately. "It isn't fair for some girls to have so much and for me
to have nothing at all! Look at Ethel Kingley!" she told Granny
fiercely, although she must have known that Granny's eyes, keen as they
were, could never penetrate the hundreds of frame and brick and stucco
houses which separated the shabby little Gilfooly cottage from the big
brick and stucco mansion which housed the Kingleys. "Ethel Kingley has
everything in the world, and I haven't anything at all! It isn't fair!
It isn't fair! Ethel Kingley's shoes cost more than I earn in a week.
She has a new dress every day and I've worn this cheap sateen rag all
spring! Ethel Kingley goes to bridge parties and dances! You can read
about them in the _Gazette_! And I only go to bed! Ethel Kingley's
brother--" The color rushed into her pale face as she spoke of the
lordly Bill Kingley, "is the most wonderful man!" Words failed her as
she thought of Ethel Kingley's wonderful brother.

"I'm a Boy Scout!" interrupted Johnny, eager to remind her that her own
brother, young as he was, was wonderful too.

Tessie sniffed at him and at all Boy Scouts and went on with her
grievances. When a quart measure is full it must overflow if anything
more is poured into it, and Tessie was just full of grievances. "And
Ethel Kingley has heaps of men friends to take her out and give her a
good time!"

"You've got Joe," reminded Granny. "A face is a better guide to what a
man is than clothes, Tessie Gilfooly! You take my word for it. Joe Cary
is one in a thousand. His money's ready the minute it's due, every
Saturday night as regular as the clock." For Joe had occupied the front
room of the shabby little cottage ever since he had returned from
France. "Now look here, my girl!" She regarded Tessie over her
spectacles with kind but firm eyes. "It's plain to be seen that you got
out of the wrong side of bed this morning. You're old enough to know
that there are two kinds of folks in the world, those who have and those
who haven't. The good Lord thought best to put you in with the
'haven'ts' and if he didn't give you the brains to climb up to the
'haves' there isn't any use in complaining and fault-finding to me. Here
you are, young and healthy and with a nice job at the Evergreen----"

"Selling aluminum!" interrupted Tessie passionately.

"Selling aluminum," Granny repeated firmly. "You know very well that
you're a lucky girl to have me and Johnny to look after you and Joe Cary
for a friend to take you to the movies and----"

"One movie in two weeks!" exclaimed Tessie indignantly.

"And one more than you deserve when you act like this! You've done
enough complaining for one morning, my girl. And if you don't want to be
late and have your pay docked you'll take that frown off your face and
put on a smile with your hat and run along. And I'll have some nice
liver and onions for dinner so you'll have something pleasant to look
forward to all day."

A glance at the old clock ticking so patiently on the shelf proved to
Tessie that Granny told the truth. She pushed back her chair and rose to
her feet, a pathetic, shabby little person with her white face in which
the purple shadows made her eyes look big and purple-blue. Her yellow
hair was bunched over her ears in the ugly fashion of the day and was
really responsible for her tirade, for it had proved unmanageable that
morning and almost refused to bunch itself over her little ears. And you
know how irritating it is when your hair is unmanageable.

"Granny," she began, and her lip quivered. She was an honest little
soul, and she could not go away and leave Granny without some word of
apology. "It isn't because I don't appreciate you and all you do for me
but it's--it's--" She stopped and looked at Granny with eyes drowned in
tears.

"I know," exclaimed Granny comfortingly, and she slipped her arm around
the slim figure. "I know! I don't blame you a mite! It isn't fair for
good little things like you to have to go without fun and pretties.
Every girl has a right to be a queen for a while, and it's remembering
the days when she was queening it that help to make the other days
bearable. Yes, my lamb, old Granny understands, and she don't blame you
a mite. But just you wait! The good Lord'll get around to the Gilfoolys
some day, and then see what you'll get. You're a good little girl if you
ain't that wonderful Miss Kingley!" And she hugged the good little girl
and sent her away. "No, it ain't fair," she repeated as she waved her
hand from the door.

"What ain't fair?" asked Johnny, who was eating Tessie's discarded
oatmeal and skim milk.

"Life," Granny told him thoughtfully. "Life never seems fair to young
eyes, Johnny. It's only when you're old and wear glasses that you can
see maybe it isn't as bad as you thought it was."

Life seemed anything but fair to Tessie as she stood among the aluminum,
smarting at the unjustness of Mr. Walker and with her eyes filled with
tears. Before the tears fell on her cheeks she heard a man behind her
black sateen back ask doubtfully:

"I beg your pardon, but can you tell me where I'll find Miss Teresa
Gilfooly?"

Tessie flirted her hand across her eyes and swung around to stare into
the smiling face of a very good-looking young man. She stopped thinking
that the world was unjust and discovered that it was showing a kindly
partiality to one Teresa Gilfooly when such a good-looking young man was
asking for her. What could he want? The only way to hear was to ask.

"I'm Tessie Gilfooly," she said shyly and pinkly, and when Tessie was
pink and shy she was adorable.

The good-looking young man seemed surprised and pleased. Perhaps he had
thought that big fat Mrs. Slawson was Teresa Gilfooly. "No!" he said, as
if he could not believe that she was slim little Tessie. "I've some good
news for you!" And he smiled radiantly. There was some fun in carrying
good news to a pretty girl. And such good news! He gave it to her all
in one piece. He did not believe in breaking the good news into small
portions. "You're a queen!" he exclaimed. "Queen Teresa of the Sunshine
Islands!" And he grinned. It made a pleasant break in the day's work to
tell a big-eyed girl that she was a queen. It turned law into
melodrama--very nice melodrama.

"What--what!" stammered Tessie. She put her hand on the table behind her
for support, and she looked at the messenger suspiciously. Was he making
fun of her? She had studied geography, but she had never heard of any
Sunshine Islands. Have you? No wonder Tessie looked at Gilbert Douglas
with suspicion.

But there was no fun in Bert's face. There was pleasure and importance
and satisfaction and possibly just a wee bit of envy, but there was not
a bit of fun as he went on to explain that the death of Tessie's Uncle
Pete had removed her from the ranks of the proletariat and elevated her
to a throne. Her Uncle Pete had run away to sea when he was sixteen
years old. For several years letters came to Granny with strange stamps
on the upper right-hand corner of the envelopes and then communication
ceased. For twenty-five years there had been no word from Uncle Pete.
And he had been King of the Sunshine Islands! Now he had died and left
his kingdom to the eldest child of his only brother, John Gilfooly. The
oldest child of John Gilfooly was Tessie Gilfooly. A queen! With a
throne and a crown and everything! Tessie's brain reeled. She felt
faint.

"You come over to the office--Marvin, Phelps and Stokes," suggested
Bert, who had come from the office of Marvin, Phelps and Stokes to carry
the good news to Tessie and who had never had an errand he liked any
better. "Mr. Marvin will tell you all about it."

"Oh, I couldn't come now," faltered Tessie, pinching herself to make
sure that she was in the hardware department of the Evergreen and not
dreaming in her bed. "I don't get away until half-past five."

"I guess you could get away all right," laughed Bert. But when Tessie
shook her yellow head and solemnly assured him that Mr. Walker was
awfully strict and never let the girls go a minute before half-past five
he laughed again and said all right. He would tell Mr. Marvin that she
would be over at half-past five. "Queen Teresa," he said in a voice
quite full of admiration and approval, as he went away.

For some time Tessie had been conscious that Mr. Walker had been casting
disapproving glances in her direction. Tessie knew--all the girls in the
Evergreen had been told--that they were not to talk to their gentlemen
friends during working hours. Before nine and after half-past five they
could do as they pleased, but from nine until half-past five they could
only talk to customers. And this man with Tessie Gilfooly had not
bought so much as a dish mop. He had not even asked to see any aluminum.
Mr. Walker knew. It was outrageous!

But before he could swoop down on Tessie and tell her just how
outrageous it was another man approached the table on which aluminum
saucepans were so attractively arranged and behind which Tessie was
standing with a white face and big, unbelieving eyes. If she let go of
the table Tessie knew she would fall right to the floor.

This newcomer was as strange a figure as Mr. Walker had ever seen in the
basement of the Evergreen. He was short and fat and with a skin that was
not brown nor yellow nor red, but an odd blending of the three colors.
He wore a loose blue denim blouse and trousers which flapped about his
bare feet. But it was his head which made Mr. Walker's eyes bulge, for
only in the pages of the _National Geographic Magazine_, which he looked
at every month in the employees' rest-room, had Mr. Walker ever seen
such a head. The coarse black hair was frizzed and stiffened until it
stuck straight out from the scalp and was adorned with shells. The man's
nose was tattooed in red and blue and a string of shells hung around his
neck. Altogether he was the strangest figure Mr. Walker had ever seen in
the department, and he wondered what on earth he would buy. He looked
like a foreigner of some sort. Mr. Walker was taking a course in
business psychology in the Evergreen night school, and he saw the
advantage of the study now as he quickly labeled the stranger a native
of some foreign country.

The native walked up to Tessie and raised his hand authoritatively.
"Miss Teresa Gilfooly?" he said in a lisping voice and with a strange
intonation which made Tessie step back and stare at him.

She nodded. She simply could not speak.

"Queen Teresa!" murmured the native rapturously. He fell on his knees
before Tessie and pressed the hem of her short skirt to his forehead.
"Queen Teresa!" he boomed, and his head touched the floor beside
Tessie's shabby little pumps.

If Tessie was startled you can imagine Mr. Walker's surprise. He started
forward with righteous indignation. He would not have such goings-on in
his department. Not for a minute! But he had to stop and adjust a matter
with a customer, and when at last he reached Tessie the native was
humbly backing away from her into the elevator, and Tessie was staring
after him with a strange look on her face.

"Come, come, Miss Gilfooly!" snapped Mr. Walker. "I can't have this! You
can't have your gentlemen friends down here! I can't have men falling
on their knees before the clerks in my department!"

"What's up, Walker?"

And there stood the hero of Tessie's dreams, young Mr. Bill, the only
son of old Mr. William Kingley, the owner of the Evergreen. Mr. Bill was
learning the business from the ground up and so was in the basement as a
floorwalker. Tessie had never seen a man like Mr. Bill, not even on the
moving-picture screen. She lived in the hope that some day he would
speak to her, would stop and ask, perhaps, how sales were; but never
once had Mr. Bill so much as said good morning or good evening to her.
He had never seemed to see her. And now he was looking--actually
looking--at her! and asking Mr. Walker what was up. It was plain to
everyone in the basement that _something_ was up.

Mr. Bill looked inquiringly from Mr. Walker to Tessie. Mr. Walker's face
was all frowning disapproval, while Tessie's face was all flushed with
unbelieving wonder. Of the two, Tessie's face was by far the more
attractive. Mr. Bill looked at it again.

"Miss Gilfooly, Mr. Bill," began Mr. Walker, sure of his ground, "was
breaking the rules. One of her gentlemen friends was on his knees to her
not five minutes ago in this very department, beside the aluminum
there!" And he pointed out the exact spot to Mr. Bill.

"He said I was a queen," faltered Tessie, eager to explain why the store
rule had been shattered. She could not believe the amazing statement and
so she did not speak firmly, as a queen should speak. She dared to raise
her eyes to the godlike Mr. Bill--at least to Tessie Mr. Bill was
godlike.

"And he was right!" declared Mr. Bill impulsively. Gee! what big blue
eyes the girl had! He had never seen such eyes in the face of any girl,
and he had seen many, many girls. He had never really looked at Tessie
until now. She had been only one of the hundreds of black-gowned figures
which filed into the Evergreen every morning, and filed out of the
Evergreen every night. But now that his attention was focused on Tessie,
he had to see how big and blue her eyes were, how fine her white skin
was, how yellow her hair, and how slim and well poised her little body!
Really, her gentleman friend was right, he thought. She was a queen. He
grinned, although such a shattering of a cherished and important rule
should have been met with a black frown.

"Mr. Bill!" Mr. Walker was shocked. That was no way to reprove a
law-breaking employee.

"I don't mean that kind of a queen," murmured Tessie, tremulously
conscious to her very toes at having Mr. Bill agree that she was a
queen. "But a real queen--of the Sunshine Islands, you know! In the
Pacific Ocean," she added hurriedly, for Mr. Bill had looked at Mr.
Walker with a significance and a regret which were as plain as print.
And she hurriedly told them of Uncle Pete who, unknown to his family,
had reigned over the Sunshine Islands for almost twenty years.

"Well, I'll be darned!" exclaimed Mr. Bill. There was astonishment,
amazement in his voice which made all the customers and all the
salesgirls who heard it turn in his direction, and feel sorry for little
Tessie Gilfooly. It sounded as if Mr. Bill just would not believe the
yellow-haired salesgirl could have committed the awful deed which had
been discovered.

"Upon my word!" stuttered Mr. Walker more elegantly. He did not know how
to treat this situation. There was not a word in all the Evergreen rules
on how to reprimand an employee if she neglected her work when she was
told that she was a queen. Mr. Walker tugged at his mustache and stared
stupidly at the culprit.

"Well, I'll be darned!" cried Mr. Bill again, and he too, stared at
blushing Queen Teresa.

Tessie nodded. "That's the way I felt," she confessed, and again two big
tears gathered in her eyes. Tessie, like long, thin Mr. Walker, felt
quite unequal to the situation.

It was Mr. Bill who took command and showed that he was a true son of
the Evergreen chief. "Come," he said quickly. "We must go and tell
father. Can you believe it? Imagine finding a queen down here in the
basement of the Evergreen! Come along!" And he took Tessie's hand and
led her to the elevator.

Tessie almost swooned. But faint and excited as she was she clung to Mr.
Bill's strong right hand.

"Oh, the poor girl!" murmured the customers, who watched them. "I
suppose she has been impudent or stealing or something. What will they
do to her? Did you say these stewpans were fifty-nine cents?"



II


Tessie had never crossed the threshold of Mr. Kingley's sacred office.
She had never dreamed of crossing it, and she hung back when Mr. Bill
threw open the door.

"Dad!" cried Mr. Bill, a trifle breathlessly. "Listen to this! You'll
never believe it!"

There was an excitement in his voice which made his father, busy with
Miss Norah Lee who was on the Evergreen publicity staff, look up from
the sketches and copy they were studying. And when he saw his only son
hand-in-hand with a pink-cheeked, big-eyed, bareheaded girl in a black
sateen frock, he feared the worst.

"Bill!" he exclaimed harshly. He rose to his feet and glared at his only
son. "How dare you?"

He changed his tone completely when he heard the story. His eyes fairly
bulged as he stared at Queen Teresa who stood modestly beside Mr. Bill.
For once in his life Mr. William Allison Kingley seemed at a complete
loss for words. Nothing like this had ever happened before in the
Evergreen, and so it was not surprising that Mr. Kingley, like Mr.
Walker, was unprepared. It takes youth like Tessie's and Mr. Bill's
to accept such stupendous events unquestioningly. Youth naturally
believes in fairies, and if you really do believe in fairies,
why--anything--everything--is possible.

"What a chance for some gorgeous publicity!" Norah Lee murmured. She had
risen, too, and was staring at Tessie as if she had never seen a
black-frocked salesgirl before, and as if she saw her now as so many
columns of print on the front page of the _Gazette_.

An odd smile touched Mr. Kingley's mouth, and at once he was himself
again. Like a well-known Queen of England, Mr. Kingley had a word
engraved upon his heart--and that word was Evergreen. Mr. Kingley lived
and breathed for the Evergreen. Every thought, word and deed was for the
Evergreen, first and last. He went to bed at night that he might get up
in the morning to work for the Evergreen. He passionately envied his
son, because Mr. Bill was just beginning his career in the Evergreen,
and so might naturally expect a long life of service to the big store.
He admired his wife and daughter because they were clothed and nourished
by the Evergreen. Just for a flash, perhaps for the only time in his
life, when he saw his son and Tessie together, hand-in-hand, he had
forgotten his idol; but Norah Lee's impulsive murmur pulled him down on
his knees to it again.

"Of course. That's just what I was going to say!" He seemed irritated
because Norah had already said it. "I heartily congratulate you, Miss
Gilfooly--or should I say Queen Teresa?" He smiled benevolently at the
queen as he took her hand and solemnly shook it. "You might send for the
photographer, Miss Lee, and arrange to have some pictures taken of Miss
Gilfooly at the aluminum--was it?--receiving the news of her--of her
accession to the throne of the Sunshine Islands. It sounds quite like a
romance, doesn't it? And you say you have heard nothing from your Uncle
Pete--King Peter, I should say--for twenty-five years?" he asked, as
Norah disappeared with a backward look of incredulous wonder at Tessie.

"No, sir." Tessie spoke softly. She had a pleasant voice, inherited from
her Irish ancestors. It sounded exceedingly pleasant and musical to Mr.
Kingley, and to Mr. Bill, too. "Not for twenty-five years. He ran away
to sea when he was sixteen and my grandfather was awfully cross. He said
he would come to no good end, but Granny said a man could make a living
on the sea as well as on the land."

"And your grandmother was right!" Mr. Kingley seemed delighted that
Tessie's grandmother had spoken true words. "A king! Bless me! It is
romantic!" He sounded almost envious of Tessie's romance. "Do you know
anything about these Sunshine Islands?" He seemed to thirst for
details. "Bill, push forward that chair for Miss Gilfooly."

Tessie gave Mr. Bill a shy little smile as she sank into the big chair
he pushed forward. Of all the unbelievable things which had happened,
this was about the most unbelievable. Imagine sitting in Mr. Kingley's
sacred office for a little chat with Mr. Kingley and Mr. Bill! Tessie's
head whirled, but she managed to tell them in her soft, pleasant voice
that she really knew very little about the Sunshine Islands, but that
she would have to resign her position in the Evergreen, because she
would have to go to her new kingdom. She spoke a little regretfully of
leaving the Evergreen, and Mr. Kingley understood perfectly. He knew he
would hate to leave the store even for a throne. Tessie was to see her
lawyer at half-past five.

"After hours," she hastily told Mr. Kingley, so that he would know that
she was not going to take advantage of her new honor and ask any favors.

"Faithful little thing," beamed Mr. Kingley. "You'll make a good queen.
And you're going to the islands at once? Not alone, I hope?"

"My brother John will go with me. He's a Boy Scout!" It would have
cheered Johnny's heart to have heard the pride in Tessie's voice.

"But you will need more support than a Boy Scout. The natives of those
Pacific islands are cannibals!" Mr. Kingley was shocked to think that
Tessie contemplated going to them without an army to aid her. "At least,
I read somewhere once that they were cannibals," he said hurriedly when
Mr. Bill looked at him in surprise because he _did_ know something about
the Pacific islands. He flushed slightly and seemed annoyed.

"Johnny's a good Boy Scout," insisted Tessie. "And Granny will go with
us, of course. And the cannibals are reformed, Mr. Kingley. Uncle Pete
didn't allow them to eat anybody!"

"I should hope not! Bless me! This is strange! I never expected anything
like this to happen in the Evergreen. I suppose the newspapers will give
us the front page for such a story. I wonder what the Bon Ton and the
Mammoth will say! The world, as well as Waloo, will be interested." He
was forgetting Tessie in his delight in the situation, for, as has been
said, he was the owner of the Evergreen before he was any one else. "I
don't suppose, Miss Gilfooly," he said slowly, as if he were following a
train of thought which was dashing through his mind, "I don't suppose
you would want to hold a little sale here some day soon, after the
_Gazette_ has published the story? Of aluminum, perhaps? I mean--" as
his son gave a shocked exclamation, "Dad!"--"for one of the charities of
the Sunshine Islands? It would help both of us. But that can be arranged
later. I don't deny it would help the Evergreen as much as it would
increase, say--the shoe fund of your new kingdom."

"If it would help you, Mr. Kingley, I'd be glad to do it," Tessie told
him obligingly, and she glanced reprovingly at Mr. Bill, who snorted
scornfully.

"Help me!" Mr. Kingley laughed and beamed at her with more satisfaction
than he could put in words. "Why every woman in town would want to buy a
piece of aluminum if a queen would sell it to her," he declared. "But we
can talk of that later. We'll keep in touch with you--in close touch.
And now, suppose you let Bill take you home or to your lawyer's?"

"I don't want to ask any favors," Tessie managed to stammer, although
her heart began to thump unmanageably. Imagine Mr. Bill taking _her_
home!

"It's a pleasure to grant them." Mr. Kingley rose to his feet again and
bowed to her. "After you've had your picture taken, Bill will go with
you to your lawyer's. Help her all you can, Bill," he told his son. "She
was one of us, you know, one of the Evergreen family, and we must help
her."

"I will," promised Mr. Bill. "I'll stay right with her. Come on, Your
Majesty!" He grinned at Tessie. "It sounds like a joke," he said with
the frankness of a member of the family.

Tessie raised her eyes and smiled at him. "It isn't a joke," she said
slowly. "If it had been a joke, that native with the funny hair and the
tattooed nose would never have given me this, would he?" And she opened
her left hand which she had held tightly closed, and showed them a pearl
as big as a marble. It was threaded on some sort of grass or vegetable
fiber and caught in a network of the same lacelike filament.

"Bless me!" exclaimed Mr. Kingley, who had never seen a pearl as large
as a marble before. He touched it with his fingers to make sure that he
really saw one now. "Do you suppose it is real?"

"It's real!" nodded Tessie. "And it belongs to the King, or the Queen,
of the Sunshine Islands. I couldn't be the queen if I didn't have it,"
she told him, and her eyes were big with wonder, that she was a queen at
all.

Mr. Kingley stopped looking at the pearl to look at Tessie. "Imagine
giving it to you without proper authority, papers, identification, you
know!" It was most unbusinesslike to his businesslike mind. He could not
imagine such a procedure. When he did business he had the papers very
carefully drawn up before anything passed from hand to hand. Evidently
that was not the way affairs were conducted in the Sunshine Islands.
"Simple people, aren't they? It must be worth a great deal of money!" He
eyed the pearl with the respect one gives to what is worth a great deal
of money. It reminded him of something else. "Have you any idea, my
dear--I mean, Miss Gilfooly," when Mr. Kingley felt as kindly toward
Tessie as he did, it was hard to keep the more informal term from his
lips, "what the value of your new kingdom is?"

"The lawyer said the islands were worth hundreds of thousands," Tessie
murmured bashfully.

"Dollars?" gasped Mr. Kingley, his eyes bulging again.

"Pounds," corrected Tessie, unconsciously icing the cake she offered Mr.
Kingley for inspection. "That's more than dollars, isn't it? I think
that's pretty good," she added with innocent pride.

"Good!" He choked over the word. "Take care of her, Bill! Take good care
of her," he urged. "My soul, but this is splendid and romantic! I was
always interested in romance. I never could have built up the Evergreen
as I have if I hadn't been romantic. To think of finding a queen in our
basement! Take good care of her, Bill!"

"I will," Mr. Bill promised again. He was far more impressed by Tessie's
big blue eyes and the enchanting color in her cheeks than he was by the
number of pounds she had just received. Gee, but she was a queen all
right! A peach of a queen! "Come on, Miss Gilfooly, and I'll take you
home." He drew a quick breath as he discovered that he wanted to have
her to himself. He did not want to share her even with his father, who
was beaming so benevolently.

"After the picture is taken," reminded Mr. Kingley, faithful to his
motto--"Business first." "After the picture is taken. And if there is
anything you want in the store, Miss Gilfooly, anything in the way of
frocks or furbelows," what he really had in mind was a coronation robe
but he did not put the thought in words, "just help yourself. Your
credit is good with us. I'll see you again, Queen Teresa." And he
laughed and took her hand and shook it. "Perhaps you would like me to
put your jewel in the safe?"

"I want to show it to Granny." Tessie closed her fingers over the pearl.
"She'll be interested because Uncle Pete wore it. I'll take good care of
it," she promised.

"Do!" he begged, and he bowed to her again as she went away with Mr.
Bill. "My soul!" he declared, as he dropped back in his chair and stared
around him at the familiar furnishings which just then did not seem so
familiar. "This is going to be a big thing for the Evergreen! Where's
Miss Lee? We must tell the world what was found in our basement!"

As Tessie and Mr. Bill left the office they met Joe Cary coming to the
office. His hands were full of drawings to be submitted to the critical
eye of Mr. Kingley, who refused to let so much as a sketch of a
hook-and-eye appear in any paper without his august approval. Joe
stopped and stared. What was Tessie Gilfooly doing up here on the office
floor with Mr. Bill, when her place was in the basement? He sensed
trouble of some sort and took his stand promptly and unquestioningly
beside Tessie.

"What's up, Tess?" he demanded, without any preliminary remarks.

Tessie tore her admiring eyes from Mr. Bill and looked at Joe as he
stood there, his hands full of sketches, an anxious expression on his
face which was half hidden by the ugly green shade that protected his
eyes. Above the shade his brown hair was rough and untidy. Mr. Bill's
hair was black and of lacquer smoothness. Joe's coat was old and torn.
There was a darn at the upper corner of the pocket. Mr. Bill was a
sartorial dream--a joy to his tailor. The contrast between Joe and Mr.
Bill was so marked that it was painful. Tessie blushed for Joe. But he
was her old friend, and she wanted to tell him the news herself.

"Oh, Joe!" she cried. "What do you think? I'm a queen!"

Naturally Joe would not believe such an absurd statement until Tessie
had told him about the lawyer and the native with the frizzled hair, and
showed him the big pearl, and even then he looked as if he did not
believe it.

"It's a joke!" He glared at Mr. Bill as if he suspected that Mr. Bill
were responsible for the joke, which he considered was in very bad
taste.

"You remember Uncle Pete?" Tessie went on eagerly. "You've heard Granny
talk about Uncle Pete?"

"She said he was lost at sea!" nodded Joe, wondering what connection
there could be between Granny's vagabond son and this ridiculous
statement that Tessie was a queen.

"And all the time she thought he was lost at sea, he was King of these
Sunshine Islands! Can you believe it?" Tessie drew a long breath, for
she could not believe it. She looked with shining eyes from the godlike
Mr. Bill to the worn Joe Cary.

"No, I can't!" Joe said bluntly. "I can't believe a word of it. What do
you mean about a lawyer? Wait a minute, Tessie, and I'll go with you."

"Mr. Bill is going with me," Tessie told him quickly and proudly.

Joe looked at Mr. Bill as if he were measuring him body and soul. He
might not approve of the result, but he found nothing to which he had
the right to object.

"Of course if you would rather have him," he said, and he turned away
with his sketches.

Even if he did take her to but one movie in two weeks he was her old
friend, and Tessie would not hurt him for the world. She caught his
sleeve.

"He offered first," she said, still a bit overcome with the wonder that
Mr. Bill had offered at all. "And his father told him to go with me. And
he can go without being docked," she explained in a whisper which
reached Mr. Bill's ears even if it was low. "You don't want to be
docked, Joe."

"I'd rather be docked than have you get into trouble," Joe declared in
anything but a whisper. "But it's all right, Tessie. Mr. Bill can look
after you and perhaps he does know more about kings and queens than I
do. I don't believe in such things, you know."

"I know!" But Tessie drew a long breath which told Joe that she believed
in kings and queens. Indeed, she did believe in them!

"What do you mean, Cary?" demanded Mr. Bill. "Don't you believe Miss
Gilfooly?"

"Oh, I believe Tessie all right. Tessie knows what I think of her. But I
don't believe in kings or queens. The world doesn't need that kind of
thing any more. You can see how it's getting rid of them--Russia and
Austria and Germany. It may be all right," he admitted slowly, "if
Tessie likes it, but personally I don't see how she can. Royalty is as
old-fashioned as hoopskirts and belongs to the same period," he finished
scornfully.

"You're an anarchist!" Mr. Bill was shocked, and he moved closer to
Tessie as if to protect her.

"I'm a progressive!" Joe contradicted him flatly. "I move with the
world, and I don't try to hold it back. But that doesn't mean I can't
congratulate Tessie because she has a plaything that will amuse her
until she outgrows it, although when I come to think of it, the Sunshine
Islands sounds a lot like cannibals----"

"Cannibals!" Tessie was indignant. "Uncle Pete wouldn't be king of any
cannibals!" The idea! How dared Joe Cary think Uncle Pete would?

"If you'll pardon me, Miss Gilfooly," broke in Mr. Bill, who disliked
the tone of the conversation, and who had no patience with Joe Cary's
outrageous ideas--pure envy, pure unadulterated envy, he knew was
responsible for them--"we were on our way to your lawyer's when we met
your friend."

"Oh, yes!" Tessie turned to him eagerly. His voice thrilled her and made
her forget to be indignant at Joe. "But first we are going to the
basement to be photographed, you know."

"Basement! Photographed!" exclaimed Joe, who could not find head nor
tail to this amazing story of Tessie's.

"For publicity for the Evergreen!" Tessie was pinkly important. "Mr.
Kingley suggested it, and I'm glad to do anything I can to help the
store."

Tessie spoke with some emphasis, and she smiled radiantly. It was so
thrilling to feel that she could help the Evergreen which had been so
patronizing to her, although she was far too tender-hearted to have
formulated that thought. She only knew that it was mighty pleasant to do
something for the store. Tessie did not have an analytical mind. She
took things as they came to her and did not stop to question why they
came.

Joe whistled softly. "Publicity," he repeated. "Ye gods and little
fishes! Publicity! The Evergreen must be served, eh? Ye gods! Run along,
Tess," as she stared at him, "and have your picture taken. I expect it
will make mighty good publicity for Mr. Kingley!" And he laughed in a
way that puzzled Tessie and made her look at him in dismay. What on
earth was the matter with Joe Cary?



III


Tessie had her picture taken standing beside the table of aluminum while
customers were neglected, and Mr. Walker quite forgot to reprove the
clerks, who were attentive to but one person--Queen Teresa. He stood on
tiptoe himself to watch Tessie.

"We'll have a drawing made of you on a throne and wearing a crown. Joe
Cary can do it," promised Norah Lee, who was revelling in this
opportunity which had come to her, and which never would have been hers
if the advertising manager were not in the hospital for an appendix
operation, and if the assistant advertising manager were not serving on
a jury. It was her chance to show what she could do, and she knew it.
Her eager ears had been quick to hear the loud sharp knock which
Opportunity gave at her door. She knew also that the chance would not be
hers a minute after the jury was dismissed. "We'll run it in the upper
corner of this picture. I think it's wonderful, Miss Gilfooly!" she told
Tessie heartily. "And I'm glad the luck has come to you. It wouldn't be
half as interesting if it had come to Ethel Kingley--not half! If I can
help you in any way don't hesitate to send for me. Mr. Kingley would
want me to help you."

"Thank you," murmured Tessie gratefully, but she did not look at Norah
Lee, she looked at Mr. Bill. "Everybody's so kind," she added chokingly.

"And now I'll take you to the lawyer's!" Mr. Bill looked very handsome
and big and brave as he said what he would do. Tessie fairly shivered
with ecstasy. "Come on, Miss Gilfooly!"

Tessie glanced back to smile and wave her hand at the clerks, who were
so bewildered and amazed that they seemed to have forgotten the price of
the most ordinary tinware. Even Mr. Walker stood with his eyes and mouth
wide open. They were all deeply and darkly green. "Such luck!" they
exclaimed, and they did not see why their uncles could not have died and
made them queens of Pacific islands. Why should little Tessie Gilfooly
be the one to have all the luck?

That same question was puzzling Tessie as Mr. Bill helped her into his
car and took the place beside her.

"All set?" He smiled at her. "Let's go!"

This was almost more disturbing and amazing than to know that she was a
queen. To think that at last, after regarding Mr. Bill as the most
wonderful and unapproachable man in the world--for Tessie realized that
a great gulf yawns between salesgirls and the sons of proprietors--to
think that she should actually be riding up the avenue with him in his
own car. She could not believe it, but she could like it. She gave a
faint little murmur of content, like the purr of a happy kitten. Mr.
Bill heard her and looked down.

"Great, isn't it?" he exclaimed with hearty admiration.

It was so very great that Tessie could only nod, and the tears came to
her eyes, and the beating of her heart almost choked her. She did not
want to go to her lawyer's, she wanted to ride on forever with Mr. Bill.
She would far rather ride with Mr. Bill than hear about her kingdom.

The distance from the Evergreen to the office of Marvin, Phelps & Stokes
was not long, but Mr. Bill had to make it longer before he found a
decent parking place.

"If the cops knew who you were they'd let us stop anywhere," he grinned.
"But they don't know, and we don't want any argument."

"Oh, no!" Tessie was congenitally opposed to anything unpleasant.

"Shall I wait for you, or do you want me to come up with you?" The
question was only a form, for Mr. Bill would have been cut in
inch-pieces before he would wait in the car while Tessie was with her
lawyer, hearing about her inheritance. Mr. Bill chuckled. This was
vastly more amusing than snooping around the Evergreen basement
directing customers and finding fault with clerks.

"Please come with me," begged Tessie. "I want you. I--I feel so alone.
Do come along."

"You bet I'll come!" exclaimed Mr. Bill, and he led her into the big
office building and into the elevator, which whizzed them to a floor
which had the name Marvin, Phelps & Stokes all over it. "Lord, what
would the people in this elevator say if they knew you were a queen!" he
whispered, just before they left the cage, and Tessie laughed and
blushed and said "My goodness!" It was so wonderful to have Mr. Bill
whisper in her ear that it was not strange that she could only think in
breathless exclamations.

The young man who had brought Tessie the good news jumped up as they
came in, and he scowled at Mr. Bill before he even smiled at Tessie.

"I'll tell Mr. Marvin you are here," he said to Tessie. "What do you
want, Bill?" he demanded very ungraciously of Mr. Bill.

"Hello, Bert!" Mr. Bill was most affable. "This is great news you
brought to the Evergreen. Dad and I want to help Miss Gilfooly in every
way we can, so I came along with her."

"I guess when she has Marvin, Phelps & Stokes to help her she won't need
any Evergreens," sniffed Bert rudely. "Come right in, Miss Gilfooly!" He
pointedly refrained from offering Mr. Bill an invitation.

But Tessie would not have him left out. "Will you come with me?" she
begged prettily. "Of course I know there isn't a thing to be afraid of,
but I do feel funny." Her voice quivered.

It brought Mr. Bill to her side at once. He looked triumphantly at Bert,
who sniffed again as he led them to the room of the senior partner of
the most important law firm in Waloo--in the Northwest.

"Miss Gilfooly!" Mr. Marvin rose to his feet and took her hand. "It was
very pleasant for us to send such good news to you," he smiled. "There
isn't the shadow of a doubt that you inherit your uncle's property. He
left it to the eldest child of his brother John, and we know that you
are John Gilfooly's eldest child. But we must comply with the
formalities and make everything legal. Undoubtedly you can let us have
the record of your birth, and the record of the marriage of your father
and mother?"

"Why!--why!--" faltered Tessie, who had no idea where she would find
such records. And without them she might only be Tessie Gilfooly of the
aluminum again. And Mr. Bill! Oh, it was cruel!

"If you haven't them you can easily get them," went on Mr. Marvin. He
did not seem at all worried because Tessie did not have the necessary
records in her pocket. "One of our men--Mr. Douglas, perhaps--can take
you to the court house."

"I'll take her!" Mr. Bill offered eagerly.

"Where such records are kept," finished Mr. Marvin as if Mr. Bill had
never said a word. It was outrageous the way he ignored Mr. Bill. Tessie
looked at him indignantly. Didn't he know who Mr. Bill was? "I
understand there is a little opposition to your uncle's will. A group of
natives, Sons of Sunshine I believe they call themselves, want a native
ruler, but you need not worry about them. The Honolulu lawyer, who
brought us your uncle's will, tells me that a good majority of the
people have declared that they will carry out King Peter's wishes. They
are sending a special representative to escort you to the islands. Of
course you shouldn't go alone."

"I wouldn't!" declared Tessie hastily. "I'd take my brother--he's a Boy
Scout--and Granny. The warm climate will be good for Granny's
rheumatism," she added thoughtfully.

"The natives have a curious tradition according to this Honolulu
lawyer," Mr. Marvin said, ignoring the Boy Scouts and Granny's
rheumatism as he had ignored Mr. Bill. "It is connected with a jewel--a
big pearl. They believe that it fell from Heaven, from the Eye of God,
and they will never accept a ruler who cannot show them that he or
she--" he smiled at Tessie--"has it. The Tear of God, they call it.
Unfortunately it has disappeared, and until you have it in your
possession it would not be wise----"

"Is this it?" interrupted Tessie, and she opened her hand and showed
him the huge pearl caught in the lacelike fibers.

Mr. Marvin put on his glasses and looked at it. "My dear child!" he
exclaimed. "Where did you get this?" He was amazed to see that the Tear
of God was on Tessie's pink palm. And he listened eagerly to Tessie's
story of the native who was neither black nor brown nor yellow, but an
attractive mingling of all three, who had followed Mr. Douglas to the
Evergreen basement and prostrated himself at her feet before he gave her
the pearl--the royal jewel of the Sunshine Islands.

"That must have been Ka-kee-ta. He came with the Honolulu lawyer,"
explained Mr. Marvin. "He insisted on following Bert so that he could
see you at once. He was King Peter's special man, I believe. And he was
evidently satisfied that you were the heiress. I suppose there must be a
strong family resemblance. It is quite a romance, isn't it, Miss
Gilfooly? Take good care of your jewel, for the natives would never
accept you as their queen if you should lose it. Perhaps you had better
leave it with me? I'll put it in our vault!"

"No." Tessie spoke firmly, although it startled her to know that she had
a jewel of such importance. "I must show it to Granny, and to Johnny.
Johnny will guard it for me. He's a Boy Scout."

"Just as you say." But it was plain that Mr. Marvin did not share
Tessie's confidence in a Boy Scout as a custodian of a royal jewel. "And
the sooner we get those records the better. Bert will take you to
Mifflin to-morrow. I understand your father and mother were married in
Mifflin."

Mr. Bill cast an appealing glance at Tessie. He wanted her to refuse to
go to Mifflin with Bert Douglas and to insist on going with him, but
Tessie only smiled tremulously and murmured that her father and mother
had been married in Mifflin, and she would be ready to go with Mr.
Douglas any time.

"I've resigned my position at the Evergreen," she added and in her proud
young voice there was a little touch of regret. The Evergreen had meant
the world to Tessie, and without it she felt a bit forlorn.



IV


Granny promptly fainted when she was told that her only granddaughter
was a queen. Tessie and Mr. Bill, who was still dutifully obeying his
father and looking after Queen Teresa, were at their wits' end. It was
Johnny the Boy Scout, who sprinkled water over his grandmother's gray
face.

"I shouldn't have told you about Uncle Pete all at once," quavered
Tessie, remorsefully, as Granny opened puzzled eyes. Tessie slipped an
arm around her. "I should have broken the news to you gently."

Granny smiled feebly and patted Tessie's fingers. "It wasn't your Uncle
Pete's death that made me go off like that," she said, her voice growing
stronger with every word. "It's hearing that I've been the mother of a
king for twenty years without ever knowing it. That was enough to knock
the breath out of any woman. I wish your grandfather was alive to hear
how right I was when I told Pete there was a good living to be found on
the sea as well as on the land. I'd like to know any of Pete's old
friends who stayed at home who've been kings! I'm glad Pete took my
advice, though the good Lord knows he was too headstrong and stubborn to
take anybody's advice but his own. And you're a queen, Tessie!" She
smiled proudly at the little queen. "I sure _am_ glad for you! When I
told you this morning that the good Lord would get around to the
Gilfoolys some day, I never thought of anything so grand as this. And
I'm glad even if it does mean I'll lose you. You'll be going over to
those islands to sit on your throne and wear your crown, and I'll be
thinking about you and loving you every minute!" She sat up and gazed at
Tessie with a face full of affection and admiration. "I guess there
won't be any queens that'll be any prettier than you'll be, when you're
dressed up like one! My soul and body! Queen Teresa!" she murmured, as
if she found it absolutely impossible to credit this amazing story.

Tessie gave a tremulous little laugh and caught Granny by the shoulders
and gave her a little shake. "Can you believe it, Granny?" she cried, as
if she could not believe it herself. "Can you believe it?"

Granny shook her head. "No," she said truthfully, "I can't!"

Tessie laughed again and kissed her with warm red lips. "Well, it's
true!" she cried triumphantly. "It's true! Isn't it?" she appealed to
Mr. Bill. "And I shan't stir a step without you and Johnny! Of course
you'll go to the islands with me!"

Granny sighed happily. "I was hoping you'd ask me!" She smoothed the
gray hair which had been loosened by Johnny's first-aid treatment and
hung in wisps over her face. "I may be an old woman, but I don't like to
be left out of things. I like to see new things and pretty things as
much as anybody. I'd like to know what Mrs. Scanlon'll say now! She was
bragging just this morning when I hung out the clothes because her Lil's
a stenographer. I'd like to hear what she says when she knows you're a
queen! Queen of the Sunshine Islands!" The words were sweet to her
tongue and sweet to her ears. "But there's a lot to do before you're
crowned, Tessie!" she declared suddenly.

"I should say there was!" But even while she was agreeing with Granny,
Tessie's nose was sniffing the air. "Have you anything on the stove,
Granny? I'm sure I smell something burning!" She sniffed again.

"Oh, it's my liver!" Granny flew to the kitchen to turn off the gas
which was burning the liver. "I forgot all about dinner when I heard the
news," she apologized. "It's lucky I hadn't put in the onions. Then we
would have had a mess. Now then, Tessie, what's the first thing to do?
I'll bet you have it all planned out in that clever little head of
yours." She looked triumphantly at Mr. Bill as if to ask him if he had
ever seen another girl with such a clever little head as Tessie's.
"Say," she said suddenly, "I don't believe I got your name?" That was
true, for Tessie had been so excited when she told Granny the amazing
news, that she had never remembered to tell Granny who Mr. Bill was.

"He's young Mr. Kingley, Granny--Mr. Bill!" Tessie was as pink as a
rose, and she looked a thousand apologies as she smiled at Mr. Bill.
"His father owns the Evergreen," she explained.

"My soul and body!" gasped Granny when she understood who Mr. Bill was.

"My father told me to look after our little queen," Mr. Bill said
eagerly, so that Granny might know why he was present at what some
people might consider a family council.

"That's very kind of him, I'm sure." But Granny's mind was not on the
Evergreen or its kind proprietor. "Tessie," she cried sharply, "that's
why a dark-complexioned gentleman has been walking up and down in front
of the house to-day. If he went by once, he went by a hundred times. He
made me so nervous I almost went out to ask him to exercise on the other
end of the block for awhile, and not wear out our sidewalk, but just
then a fat man with a tow-head and a big nose came up in a purple
taxicab and spoke to him, and they went away together. The
dark-complexioned gentleman had rings of some kind in his ears and a
yellow sash around his waist. He looked like he was a left-over from a
masquerade or something. Dear, dear! It does seem like a dream, don't
it? But what's the first thing we do?" She looked at Tessie for orders.
Already she accepted Tessie's right to issue orders.

Tessie smiled and squeezed the work-roughened hands. "The first thing is
to go to Mifflin and get a copy of father's and mother's wedding
license. And the second thing is to find a record of my birth."

"Tessie!" Granny was all admiration. "What a business head you have!
She'll make a fine queen, won't she, Mr. Bill? And how are you going to
Mifflin?" She looked at Mr. Bill to see if he knew how Tessie was going
to Mifflin.

"Mr. Douglas is going to take me in an automobile. He's one of my
lawyers," Tessie explained importantly. "The old lawyer, Mr. Marvin,
arranged it. I don't see why you can't go with me, Granny--and Johnny,
too. It would be a nice ride."

"Sixty miles there and sixty miles back," chuckled Mr. Bill, much
pleased to hear that Tessie did not care to drive one hundred and twenty
miles alone with Mr. Douglas. "And the country's pretty now."

"That's fine," beamed Granny.

And Johnny the Boy Scout declared it would be fine, too. Johnny was
sitting beside Tessie and staring at her with big round eyes. Just
imagine having a sister who was a queen! Gee! what would the fellows
say?

"Tessie, what's that you got in your pocket?" asked Granny suddenly, for
her keen eyes had seen the end of something hanging from the pocket of
Tessie's black sateen frock.

"The Sunshine native gave it to me." Tessie took the royal jewel, the
Tear of God, from her pocket and dangled it before Granny's astonished
eyes. "It's the sign I'm Queen of the Sunshine Islands. If I lose it, I
lose my kingdom." She laughed softly. She had no intention of losing the
royal jewel. "The people won't have a king or queen who can't show them
this--the Tear of God. That's what they call it."

"Tessie! Ain't it pretty! And your Uncle Pete wore it?" She took it in
her fingers and patted it as she would have patted Pete's fingers if he
had been present--and in a mood to be patted. "And now you'll wear it."
She wiped a tear from her eyes.

"Not until we get those records and the lawyers say it's all right. It
wouldn't be honest!" declared upright Tessie.

"But the native gave it to you himself," objected Granny. She liked to
see the royal jewel around Tessie's white neck.

"Oh, he thinks I'm the queen all right, or he would never have given me
this, but I have to know I am before I wear it. You can keep it safe for
me, Granny, until I do know."

Granny accepted the appointment of custodian of the royal jewel with
pride and pleasure. "I'll put it in the baking-powder can, wrap it up in
waxed paper," she said. "Nobody would think of looking in a
baking-powder can. I often tuck away a quarter or a dime in one. My soul
and body!" She had forgotten that Mr. Bill was not a member of the
family. She didn't remember it until she had disclosed her secret hiding
place, and she looked frightened. Then she glanced at him slyly and
smiled triumphantly. "Maybe I won't put it in the baking-powder can
after all. I've got a lot more hiding places."

"I'll bet you have!" chuckled Mr. Bill. "But I wish Miss Gilfooly would
let father keep it in his safe, or Mr. Marvin take care of it. It isn't
safe to have valuables in a house where there are only women."

"There's a man in this house as well as women!" The Boy Scout bristled
with indignation at being ignored so completely. "I guess I'm here."

"And you're the biggest help!" Tessie hugged him.

Mr. Bill remembered that she had hugged Granny; and now she had hugged
the Boy Scout. Perhaps it would be his turn next. He hoped it would.

"Granny would never have come out of her faint if it hadn't been for
you," Tessie told Johnny proudly. "We just stood around like geese,
didn't we?" she asked Mr. Bill.

"That was one of the first things I learned," Johnny explained with
haughty scorn because they had not learned it. "Every scout has to know
how."

"I expect I should go home!" exclaimed Mr. Bill suddenly, although he
did not want to go home, and he said so ruefully.

"You can stay and take pot-luck with us if you want to. It's liver and
onions." Granny extended the invitation with royal hospitality. "And
I'll open a can of my preserved strawberries. I've been saving them for
a big occasion, but I guess there won't ever be a bigger occasion than
this. Even your wedding, Tessie, won't mean so much to me as your being
a queen. Any girl can have a wedding, even Lil Scanlon next door, but I
never knew a girl who was a queen before. You can thank your Uncle Pete
for your luck. Poor Pete!" she sighed. "He never liked liver and
onions," she remembered sadly. "Maybe we shouldn't have them to-night,
just when we hear he's been dead six months and left Tessie a throne!
Maybe we shouldn't ever eat liver and onions again now we're queens!"
And she startled them all by bursting into tears.

Tessie ran to her, and tried to soothe her with loving pats and words.
"She's all upset," she told Mr. Bill apologetically.

"And no wonder!" Mr. Bill was a bit upset himself at the amazing and
interesting situation in which he found himself. "I tell you," he
suggested, as inspiration gave him an idea, "suppose you all come down
town and have dinner with me? You don't want to bother getting a dinner
to-night; and Dad said I was to take care of you." He grinned at Tessie.
"I can run you down in the car. Come on to the Waloo with me?"

"I ain't got a thing to wear!" But Granny stopped crying and wiped the
tears from her eyes as she reviewed the contents of her closet. "I
ripped the sleeves out of my best dress this very afternoon to cut 'em
over more stylish."

"You're all right just as you are," Mr. Bill told her. "You look
fine--neat as a pin. Just put on your hat and come along."

Granny looked at her black alpaca, which was, as Mr. Bill said, as neat
as a pin, and then she turned questioning eyes to Tessie. "I could take
off my apron," she said slowly, and when Tessie nodded, she caught
Johnny by the shoulder. "But this young man has to wash his hands! Such
fists!" She was shocked at the sight of Johnny's hands. "And your own
sister a queen on a throne! It's a disgrace!" She bustled Johnny to the
kitchen, although he loudly protested that he was going to wash his
hands, a Scout knew enough to wash his hands when they were dirty.

"Well!" Mr. Bill drew a long breath when he was alone with Tessie.
"This is a corker! An out-and-out corker!"

"It's awfully kind of you to take us to the Waloo," Tessie said softly.
"Granny is too excited, and I'm too excited, to get dinner, and we don't
like the cafeteria at the corner. And on our way home we could stop at
the public library, couldn't we?"

"The public library!" Mr. Bill stared. Why on earth would she want to
stop at the public library?

"I'd like to get some books on the Sunshine Islands," explained Tessie.
"I don't know a thing about them, and I think a queen should know about
her kingdom, don't you?"

"I don't think it will make the slightest difference what you know!" Mr.
Bill rather lost his head as he looked into her pink face and her big
blue eyes, which had such dark purple lights in them. "You'd be all
right if you didn't know anything!" he stammered thickly.

"Oh, Mr. Kingley!" Tessie's pink rose of a face turned like magic into a
red rose.

"Call me Bill!" he begged, and his face was red too.

Tessie almost swooned. Call her hero--her wonder man--Bill! She
couldn't!

"As Dad said, we belong to the same family--the Evergreen," Mr. Bill
reminded her ardently.

Put that way, Tessie managed to falter "Bill," and she glanced at him
from under her long lashes. Mr. Bill gasped, and if Granny had not come
in with the washed Boy Scout he would probably have been guilty of the
"lesest" kind of _lèse majesté_.

As they went out to Mr. Bill's car, a shadow by the lilac bushes turned
into a man and slunk away, but not before Granny's sharp eyes had seen
him slip down the street.

"I'd like to know what that man was doing there," she grumbled. "Tessie,
you got the Tear of God in your pocket?" she asked in a hoarse whisper,
and when Tessie said she had, that her fingers were holding it tight,
Granny's frown changed to a self-satisfied smile. "Then I guess he's
welcome to what he finds. There isn't anything worth stealing in the
house now, I guess!"

"I'm glad I put on my medal!" exclaimed Johnny. "I put on all my
insignia for you, Tessie." He thrust his small chest forward so that
Tessie could see for herself that he had done honor to her.

"Bless the boy!" Tessie bent her head and kissed him.

Mr. Bill all but died of envy. He wished that he was a Boy Scout, and
then he was glad that he wasn't. A Boy Scout might have privileges, but
a man could have hopes. He was not sure what he hoped, but he knew that
he admired Tessie tremendously, and that it was amazingly exciting to
be on such friendly terms with a queen. It seemed impossible that only a
few hours ago he had never known that there was a Tessie Gilfooly in the
world. And now--why now she seemed the only girl in the world!



V


They had a delightful dinner at the Waloo. Granny gazed around the big
room rather awed by the ornate display of rose velvet and gold, the
crystal electroliers, and the army of waiters.

"I suppose this is what you'll have all the time in the Sunshine
Islands," she said with pride. "Just think of your Uncle Pete, Tessie,
sitting down to dinner every day in a room like this and to a dinner
like this. I don't wonder he never came home. The good Lord has sure
been kind to the Gilfoolys!"

Tessie did not eat much, and she did not talk much. She was still too
dazed at what had happened. She could not believe that it was true. It
couldn't be true that she was in the dining room of the Waloo Hotel,
with Mr. Bill as the host of a family party--a family party of
Gilfoolys! Such things never happened to poor working girls. But Mr.
Bill's radiant smile and eager attention convinced her that at least he
was real.

Gilbert Douglas was with a party of young people at the other end of the
room. He came over to speak to Tessie, and tell her that he would call
for her the next morning about ten. Mr. Bill yearned to stab him with
his dinner knife. When Bert went back to his friends and told them who
Tessie was, there were many curious and admiring, and almost as many
envious, glances sent toward her. Altogether it was a very pleasant
dinner. But Tessie would not loiter over the coffee--not even to listen
to the orchestra nor to dance once with Mr. Bill.

"I'd faint," she declared. "I feel all wobbly sitting down. And I want
to stop at the library. It closes at nine. And anyway it wouldn't be
right to Uncle Pete. We had to have something to eat, but we don't have
to dance."

Every one in the big dining room seemed to know who Tessie was when she
left, and there was much craning of necks and whispering. The head
waiter bowed them out with much ceremony and hoped that Tessie would
come again. Tessie was pink to her little ears, and she shyly murmured
that she would like to come again.

They reached the library barely in time. The librarian was just locking
the door of the branch station when Mr. Bill and Tessie ran up to her.
She obligingly unlocked the door and went back with them.

"The Sunshine Islands," she repeated, when she heard Tessie breathlessly
explain what she wanted. "I never heard of them."

"They're in the Pacific Ocean." Tessie told her with much importance.

"We have several books that speak of the islands in the Pacific Ocean,"
the librarian remembered. "But why on earth do you come running in here
at this time of night to ask for books on the Sunshine Islands?" And she
looked from pink-cheeked Tessie to grinning Mr. Bill, as if she would
not produce one of her books until that question was answered.

"Because," dimpled Tessie, who saw no reason why she should not tell--it
was nothing to be ashamed of, and she felt that she had to give some
reason for taking the librarian back to her library after the door had
been locked for the night--"because I've just heard that I'm the Queen
of the Sunshine Islands!"

"My goodness!" exclaimed the surprised librarian, and she found Tessie
all the books which mentioned the islands in the Pacific Ocean. "There!"
she said. "If you read all these you'll learn something about your
kingdom. The best book," she remembered with a frown, "the one that
tells all about the Pacific islands is out. A man came in after dinner
and took it."

"What kind of a man?" asked Mr. Bill, not because he cared but because
the librarian seemed to expect something to be said.

"A tall man, young and thin, with rough brown hair and brown eyes and
rather shabby clothes." The librarian appeared to describe her client by
looking at Mr. Bill and seeing his opposite.

"It must have been Joe Cary!" exclaimed Tessie. "It would be just like
Joe to learn everything about my kingdom before I can read a word!" She
looked vexed.

"Save you a lot of trouble," suggested Mr. Bill. "He can tell you what
he learns, and you won't have much time for reading now."

"That's true!" Tessie stopped frowning to smile. "I'll let Joe do my
reading for me. That's the way queens do, isn't it?--have some one do
things for them? Thank you for the books." She turned politely to the
librarian, who was staring at her with unbelieving amazement.

"My goodness! I'm much obliged to you for coming in for those books even
if you never read them. I've been librarian at this branch station for
three years now, and nothing as interesting as this ever happened. I
hope you'll be a very happy queen!" And the librarian drew a long
breath. She had never supposed that she would ever tell a queen to her
face that she hoped she would be happy. Such things might happen in
books, but surely they had never happened before in a real library.

"Thank you," said Tessie, putting out her hand to shake the librarian's
lean fingers. "I'm going to try to be a good queen."

"My goodness!" repeated the librarian, as Tessie, Mr. Bill and the books
went to join Granny and Johnny. "My goodness, but I'm glad I didn't
close up a minute earlier than I did!"

There were no lights in the narrow street when Mr. Bill turned his car
away from the avenue. In contrast to the brilliantly lighted
thoroughfare, the street seemed darker than a pocket. The city fathers
depended on the moon for illumination on certain nights designated by
the almanac, and if the moon was dilatory or negligent, that was not
their fault. The lights on Mr. Bill's car were all he had to show him
the way, but with their aid, he found the shabby little cottage without
any trouble at all.

"It's been a very pleasant evening," Granny said politely, as she
stepped from the car. "I'm sure we've all enjoyed it, and we have the
liver and onions for to-morrow night when we've had time to calm down a
bit. Good night, Mr----" She discovered she had forgotten Mr. Bill's
name. She was horrified.

"Call me Bill!" begged Mr. Bill in the friendliest way. "I'm such a
friend of your granddaughter's--at least I'm going to be such a
friend--we belonged to the same family, you know, the Evergreen--that I
want to be a friend of yours, too."

"You've proved yourself a friend," beamed Granny. "I declare I'm that
tired I'll be glad to go to bed. I'm not as young as I was, and it's a
good deal of a strain for an old woman to hear all in one day that her
son was a king and that her granddaughter is a queen. Come, Johnny,
we'll go right to bed. Good night, Bill, and thank you kindly."

She was tired, and her step was heavy as she went along the walk and up
the steps. On the narrow porch her foot touched something that gave
beneath her weight. It was soft, and yet it wasn't. Granny drew back her
foot, stood still and screamed. There was--yes, there was something on
her nice clean porch that did not belong there!

"I'll make a light," offered the resourceful Scout.

"Not with two sticks of wood," objected Tessie, who had run to her
grandmother and was staring at the black shadow on the porch floor. "It
takes too long!"

"I got a match, silly!" retorted her brother. "We can use matches when
we got 'em!"

But Mr. Bill had struck a match, and by its feeble light they could see
that the black shadow was the body of a man, huddled on Granny's nice
clean porch. Granny shrieked again.

"My soul and body!" she cried. "This is too much!" And she sat heavily
down on the step. "I don't like men murdered on my front porch!" she
wailed.

"Murdered!" Tessie shrieked, too.

"He isn't murdered," declared Mr. Bill, who had been bending over the
body. "At least I don't think he is. Darn it!" For the match flickered
and went out.

"Who--who is it?" whispered Tessie, and she trembled so that Mr. Bill
had to put his arm around her. "Who is it?"

"I don't know. He looks like a black man--at least he isn't a white man.
And I caught a glimpse of an earring as the match went out. We must get
some light!" He looked about for some light, but the resourceful Scout
had taken the key from Granny's limp fingers, thrown the door open and
turned on the light in the hall. There was a white stream through the
doorway, and as it fell on the dark face of the man on the porch, he
moved slightly and moaned.

"Thank the good Lord he isn't dead!" Granny stumbled to her feet. "Who
are you and what do you want?" she asked the stranger sharply. "I'll bet
he was after that Tear of God, Tessie," she said, as the dark head moved
away from her, and she, like Mr. Bill, caught a glimpse of an earring.

"Oh!" Tessie's fingers felt for the royal jewel. It was there in her
pocket, and she grasped it eagerly. Just suppose she had lost it!

"I'll take him away," offered Mr. Bill. "You don't want him here. I'll
take him away."

"Hello! What's up here, Mrs. Gilfooly?" And there was Officer Clancy
peering at them. "What's the matter here?"

"Well, Mr. Clancy!" Granny turned eagerly around. "I'm sure glad to see
you to-night. We go out for a pleasant dinner with a friend of my
granddaughter, who's just learned that her Uncle Pete, my eldest, has
made her Queen of the Sunshine Islands, and we come home to find this
dark-complected gentleman on my nice clean front porch. I almost stepped
on him." She shuddered as she recalled her sensations when she put her
foot on the dark-complexioned gentleman. "I couldn't think what it was,
but it was him!" And she waved her hand toward the stranger who had
managed to sit up, and was staring around with dull eyes.

It was no wonder that Officer Clancy was dazed and bewildered to hear
Granny talk so glibly of queens and porches, but he stooped over the
stranger, who curled up like a snail.

"Now then, my man, what are you doing here, frightening the ladies out
of their wits?" asked Clancy sharply.

The stranger shrank away and muttered something. The words sounded like
"The Shark! The Shark!" but Granny thought that her ears must have
deceived her. A shark was a fish that lived in the ocean. There were no
sharks in her neighborhood.

"The shark! The shark!" was all the stranger would say that any one
could understand, although he stammered a lot of words that sounded
like anything but language to the little group gathered around him.

"I can't make head nor tail of what he says!" Officer Clancy exclaimed
helplessly. "I'll try him again. Now then, my man, what were you doing
here?"

"On my nice clean porch!" added Granny shrilly.

But the man only muttered some more of the unintelligible gibberish
jumbled around the word "Shark." Officer Clancy jerked him to his feet,
and he stood leaning weakly against the policeman.

"I better take him along to the station," the latter suggested. "He
hasn't done any harm, has he? Maybe he was taken sick as he was passing
by, and came in to get help," he suggested eagerly.

"He's got a lump as big as an egg on the back of his head," declared Mr.
Bill. "Looks to me as if somebody had blackjacked him!"

"That so?" Officer Clancy looked at the head whose black thatch was
unlike any hair he had ever seen before. "There is a lump there! I
expect that was it, Mrs. Gilfooly. Somebody slugged him, and he crawled
up on your porch and fainted. And I bet I saw the guy that did it! I
passed a queer-looking chap not ten minutes ago. He was dark like this
fellow, and his hair was frizzed for fair, and he was in his bare feet.
He was walking fast and looking straight ahead of him. I remember I
thought he was a fine figure of fun. I never saw anybody just like him."

"Could it have been Ka-kee-ta?" Tessie asked Mr. Bill in a frightened
whisper. "He was in his bare feet." She shivered.

"Ka--oh, the chap Mr. Marvin spoke about. I wonder!" And Mr. Bill looked
at Tessie.

Clancy's sharp ears heard their whispers. "Friend of yours?" he asked
quickly.

"No, not a friend," Mr. Bill answered just as quickly. "Just a messenger
of some sort. I think you're right, Officer, you better take this man
away."

"I'll take him to the station until his mind clears up and he can tell
us how it was. You can drive us over." He nodded to Mr. Bill.

"I would be glad to." But Mr. Bill sounded anything but glad. "Only I
hate to leave Mrs. Gilfooly and Miss Gilfooly here alone."

"I guess I'm here!" shouted the insulted Boy Scout. "I guess I know what
to do if anything happens!"

"There won't anything happen," promised Clancy. "It's happened. And I'll
have the sergeant send a man right over to keep an eye out. I'm sure
glad to hear of your luck, Miss Gilfooly." He turned to Tessie and
solemnly shook her hand. "You'll make a fine queen!"

"I don't know as I want to be a queen if it means finding strange men
fainting on our front porch," Tessie murmured almost tearfully.

"Perhaps I'd better stay," suggested Mr. Bill, as he saw how she
trembled. "I can sit downstairs and read your books."

"You need your rest as well as we do if you're going to be any help to
your pa to-morrow," objected Granny. "We'll be all right with Johnny and
the man Officer Clancy sends up. You take that stranger to the station,
Mr. Clancy, and lock him up tight. I'll bet he knows more than he's
letting on." She peered into the dark face. "Thank the good Lord
tattooed noses ain't fashionable in Waloo," she murmured. "Tessie, you
ought to go to bed. There's Joe Cary!" She stopped as she heard a
whistle up the street. "Joe! Joe Cary!" she called.

"Here!" answered Joe. "What's up?" he demanded as he came up the walk.
"You can run along," he told Mr. Bill and Officer Clancy, when he heard
the story. "I'll look after things here." When Mr. Bill had reluctantly
said good night, holding Tessie's fingers until Joe took them from him,
and gone away with Clancy and the stranger, Joe turned to Tessie.

"You'd better go to bed, Tess. You must be all tired out!"

"She is!" Granny answered for her. "We're all tired. I declare it does
take it out of a body to have such wonderful things happen. Can you
believe it, Joe? We had a nice dinner at the Waloo," she said, following
him into the house. "And that Mr. Bill is a real pleasant young fellow.
My soul and body!" she exclaimed, staring around in amazement, for the
house which she had left as neat as wax was now in disorder. Drawers had
been pulled out and their contents dumped on the floor, closets emptied
in a way that startled and angered Granny. "Somebody's been here, Joe!
Somebody has been all over this house!" She stared at Joe. "I expect
they came to get that jewel of yours, Tessie," she guessed loudly. "That
Tear of God! Thank goodness I didn't put it in the baking-powder can.
Thank goodness you got it in your pocket! Well, this is too much!"

"There, there, Granny!" soothed Joe. "They didn't get anything. You trot
up to bed, and Tess and I'll straighten things out."

It took some time before Granny could be persuaded to leave them and
more time before the drawers were pushed into place and doors shut on
the disordered closets. Joe looked at Tessie. Her face was milk-white
and her eyes were heavy and tired.

"Well, Tess!" He put his hands on her shoulders so that she would look
into his face. "What do you think about queens now? Are you still glad
that you are such an old-fashioned, wornout thing as a queen?" He bent
to peer into her eyes.

"I don't know," she faltered. She put up her hands to clasp his strong
fingers. "It isn't what I thought it would be, if things like this are
going to happen."

"All sorts of things happen to queens," prophesied Joe. "You have only
to read the papers to know that. The world doesn't need queens any more.
I'm sorry, Tessie," his hands slipped from her shoulders to her waist
and he drew her to him. "I'm sorry you're one!" His voice was soft as
velvet and honey-sweet.

But Tessie pushed him away. "Why, Joe Cary!" she exclaimed indignantly.
"If that isn't just like you! You never want me to have any fun! You
only want me to go to the Y. W. C. A. gymnasium, and to study
shorthand!"

"I don't want you to be a queen!" he insisted stubbornly, his face
flushed, his eyes snapping.

"Why not?" she asked defiantly, and when he did not answer her at once,
she asked him again, more softly this time. "Why not, Joe Cary?"

"Because," he said, and he folded his arms across his chest and looked
at her scornfully, "queens always think they are a darned sight better
than other people. I'm one of the other people, but you needn't think
you are any better than I am, Tessie Gilfooly, even if you are queen of
a lot of cannibals. Queen!" He had nothing but hot scorn for the word.

She turned away from him impatiently. "You never want me to do anything
but work," she pouted. "The idea of talking to me like that, as if a
queen wasn't any more than a scrubwoman. I shan't listen to you another
minute. I'm going to bed. But before I go, I'll tell you one thing, Joe
Cary: if I had heard you were a king, I wouldn't have been so nasty. I
would have been proud and glad for you!"

"Tessie!" he cried. But she tossed her head and ran up the steep stairs.

She would not look back at him even if he did stand at the foot of the
stairs and call to her. He had hurt her when he had said that queens
were no better than other people. The very idea! Mr. Bill never talked
that way. Indeed, he never did! Tessie stopped thinking about
disgruntled Joe Cary so that she could think of the wonderful Mr. Bill.
Oh, wasn't he the most wonderful!



VI


In spite of her tearful assertion that she knew she would not sleep a
wink, Tessie was soon dreaming of her new kingdom and of Mr. Bill. Not
once did shabby Joe Cary intrude on her dream of glory. It seemed only a
minute from the time she crept shiveringly into bed beside Granny,
before Granny was shaking her shoulder.

"After nine o'clock, Tessie!" she was calling. "If you're going to
Mifflin to get your ma's and pa's wedding license at ten, you'd better
get up right away!"

Tessie opened her eyes slowly and reluctantly. She was afraid of what
they would see. Yes, there was Granny calling her as she called her
every morning. There was the ugly old bureau and the crayon portrait of
her grandfather. Of course, she had been dreaming. She wasn't a queen.
She had never been at the Waloo for dinner with the wonderful Mr. Bill.
She would have to get up and put on her old sateen and go and sell
aluminum in the Evergreen basement. She wished she hadn't dreamed that
Uncle Pete had died and made her a queen. Such a dream as that made it
harder than ever to waken. She had known all the time that it was only a
dream. Such wonderful things never happened to poor working girls. And
if it really was nine o'clock, she was afraid to imagine how Mr. Walker
would rebuke her for her tardiness. Why had Granny let her sleep when
Granny knew that she would be fined if she were late?

"And your friend, that Mr. Bill, stopped here half an hour ago on his
way to the store," went on Granny, shaking out Tessie's clothes and
hanging them on a chair. "We got to get you some new things, Tessie.
These ain't royal. They don't do credit to your poor Uncle Pete, who's
been so good to you. Mr. Bill said he stopped at the police station, and
the police told him that we were right last night when we said that man
on the porch was hit on the head. A friend came for him, and after he
had talked to him, he told the police just how it was. The colored man
was walking along the street, when all of a sudden he didn't know
nothing. I don't suppose he could have upset my closets if he was
unconscious, and so long as nothing's missing, I ain't going to worry.
But there certainly were queer doings last night. You hurry right along,
Tessie. Your coffee's all ready, and I warmed up the liver. No knowing
where we'll be for dinner to-night, and we can't be wasteful even if we
are queens."

There it was, that most disturbing word! Tessie swung her feet over the
side of the bed and stared at her grandmother, who was already dressed
in her black alpaca instead of her morning calico, and whose front hair
must have been surprised to find itself out of curling pins at nine
o'clock in the morning.

"Then it's all true!" she faltered. She told herself again that it
couldn't be true. It just could not be true. She thought she would die
if it wasn't true, but she knew it wasn't.

"What's true?" questioned Granny, who was putting the room to rights.

"That I'm a queen?" Tessie blushed hotly, as she asked the question. It
was so perfectly ridiculous and unbelievable, and yet Granny talked as
if it might be true.

Granny stood still with Tessie's worn blue serge suit in one hand and a
clothesbrush in the other. "Of course you're a queen!" The firm
confident tone sent a shiver of delight down Tessie's spine. "Didn't
your Uncle Pete die and make you a queen? Come down just as soon as
you're dressed, Tessie. We ain't got time to waste to-day."

Even when Bert Douglas drove up in a shining touring car, Tessie could
not believe that she was to ride in it, although Bert told her that she
was, and he for one was mighty glad that she was.

"We have a corking day!" he exclaimed, with an approving glance at the
cloudless sky. "And we'll have a corking ride. I'm glad your people were
married sixty miles from Waloo. This is just a formality, you know, Miss
Gilfooly. We all know that you really are the Queen of the Sunshine
Islands. We don't need any certificates." And he laughed joyously. It
was so strange and unbelievable and delightful that he was to drive a
young queen to Mifflin and back.

"It's so wonderful that I can't believe it," Tessie told him earnestly,
and her voice quivered with the wonder of it. She looked speculatively
at the tonneau of the big car. There was no one in it. "Could we take my
grandmother, Mr. Douglas?" She raised her big blue eyes appealingly.
"She would enjoy the ride. And my brother Johnny? He's a Boy Scout."

"Sure, we can take all the royal family," chuckled Bert. "There's plenty
of room, and we'll feel safer to have a Scout with us." He laughed again
as he hospitably opened the tonneau door.

Mrs. Scanlon stood at her window and watched Granny and Johnny settle
themselves proudly in the car. She saw Tessie take the seat next to the
wheel, and she was green with envy from her red hair to her patched
black shoes. She had heard the news, and in her heart she wished that
she had had a son to run away to sea and be a king. "My Lil would make a
better-looking queen than that washed-out Tessie Gilfooly," she thought,
as she watched them from behind the skimpy curtain. "Lil's suit was new
this spring, and that blue dud Tessie has on is a year old if it's a
day. I don't believe it's really true! Such things don't happen! Queen,
indeed!" And she sniffed loudly and elevated her long thin nose because
little Tessie Gilfooly had come home with some ridiculous story about
being a queen.

Jonah, Johnny's dog--a mongrel with a most rakish brown spot on his
white face--jumped wistfully around the car. Jonah wanted to drive to
Mifflin too. He saw no reason why he should be left at home alone.

"Could we take him?" asked Granny, eager for the family to enjoy the
ride as a family. "He'd enjoy it."

And Jonah joined the two in the tonneau.

"Just as well he's going," muttered Mrs. Scanlon. "I wouldn't have no
time to feed anybody's dog to-day!" And to show how little she cared
about the good fortune which had come to her neighbors, she took her
chairs and tables out of the parlor and gave the room a thorough
cleaning.

Bert was right. It was a wonderful day--a blue and gold day. There was
not a cloud in the sky, nor a care in the car. The road to Mifflin was
velvet smooth, so that the drive, as Bert had prophesied, was
delightful. It was no time at all before they were in front of the red
brick building which was Mifflin's new Court House. But when they went
in and demanded a copy of the record of the marriage of John Gilfooly
and Teresa Andrews, which had been solemnized in Mifflin twenty years
ago, the clerk could not find the record.

"That's funny!" he exclaimed. "It was here yesterday, but it isn't here
to-day!" He looked puzzled.

"Did you see it yesterday?" demanded Bert, with all the importance of a
six-months lawyer.

"Sure I saw it yesterday. A man came in and asked for a copy. Funny
thing! In all the time I've been here, no one has ever asked about that
license. And now yesterday a man wanted it and to-day you want it." The
coincidence impressed him as so strange that he blinked.

"Was he a black man and did he have a tattooed nose?" asked Tessie
eagerly.

The clerk shook his head. "No, he had light hair and a big nose with
freckles all over it. He was what you would call a blond. With a big
nose," he insisted almost as if he thought it was quite unusual for a
blond to have a nose at all.

Tessie looked at Bert, and at Granny and Johnny. But not one of them
could tell her anything about a blond with a big nose. Granny could only
shake her head.

"He must have sneaked the record when I went out to look at the fire,"
the clerk said indignantly. "Ferguson's store had a little blaze
yesterday, and when I heard the fire engine I naturally went to the
door. But I can't have this sort of thing," he added querulously. "I
can't have my records stolen!"

"No, I shouldn't think you could," agreed Bert. "And you had better find
out who stole this record."

"I shall!" The clerk was quite offended because Bert had thought it
necessary to tell him what to do. "I'll call the sheriff right away."
And he bustled over to the telephone.

"But--but why should any one steal my father's and mother's marriage
license?" Tessie could not imagine why any one would steal a piece of
paper. Money or a jewel--the Tear of God even--could be used, but a
piece of paper----

Bert smiled at her puzzled face. "Some one might want to make it
impossible for you to prove that you are John Gilfooly's eldest child,"
he explained carefully.

Tessie gasped. "The idea! But whoever would?" She could not imagine.

Granny bristled indignantly. "Well, they can't do that!" she declared.
"Not while I have breath in my body to say she is! I guess I know!"

"Sure you do!" And Bert grinned at her.

But Granny wanted more than smiles. She wanted action--immediate action.

"What are we going to do now?" she demanded. "Can't Tessie be a queen
unless she has her ma's and pa's wedding license?"

"I don't see why you need any old paper," put in Johnny. "If you want
to know about the wedding of father and mother, all you have to do is to
ask Granny. She was at the wedding, weren't you, Granny?"

Granny turned to gaze at him with pride. "Bless the boy!" she exclaimed
in honest admiration. "Of course I was there! And I can tell the lawyers
all about it! That was a bright thought, Johnny, but I'm glad it didn't
come to you before. If you'd had it in Waloo we'd have missed a pleasant
ride. I can tell you all about the wedding," she said to Bert, and there
was much triumph in her voice, "all about the bride's dress and the
refreshments and everything!"

"I don't believe that your evidence will be enough, Mrs. Gilfooly," Bert
said reluctantly and regretfully, for he would have preferred to tell
Granny that her story of the Gilfooly-Andrews wedding would be
sufficient to place Tessie on any throne. "You are too near a relative
to be disinterested. That's what the court would say," he explained
hastily as Granny snorted.

"My soul and body!" She stared at him. "As if I'd lie about my own son
or my own granddaughter! But there were other folks at the wedding,"
she, remembered joyously. "The Hortons, who live over on Olive street,
were there. Sophie Horton was Tessie's mother's bridesmaid, and Sam
Horton knocked over a piano lamp the night of the wedding and came near
burning up the bride. He'll remember and be glad to tell you that my
son John married Teresa Andrews right and proper. And that ain't all,"
went on Granny, who could accomplish great things when she began little
things, "the man who married John and Teresa and baptized Tessie is
alive to this day and living in this very town. We've only got to go to
the Reverend Townshend's house to hear all about it. I suppose the law
would believe a regular minister if it wouldn't believe a loving
grandmother," she said to Bert, with a decided tinge of resentment in
her hearty voice.

Bert laughed apologetically. "That's fine! But you understand, Mrs.
Gilfooly, it is because you are so close to Miss Gilfooly that your
evidence wouldn't be sufficient. The court might suspect such a near
relative, but the word of the minister who married Miss Gilfooly's
parents should be enough for any court."

"I should think so!" snorted Granny, who had nothing but contempt for a
court which would not believe a grandmother.

They drove through the pretty streets of Mifflin to the home of Mr.
Townshend, which was almost hidden by shrubbery and vines, and the Boy
Scout rang the bell loudly. But Mr. Townshend was in Waloo visiting his
sister, and the young granddaughter, who answered the bell, had never
heard of the Gilfoolys.

"Never mind!" exclaimed Granny cheerfully, for Tessie looked as if she
did mind. "We know where to go now for what we want, and that's
everything, no matter what you're looking for. You say Reverend
Townshend's sister lives on Tenth Avenue South?" she asked the young
granddaughter. "Mr. Douglas will just drive us there and hear with his
own ears what Reverend Townshend has to say."

"Sure I'll drive you!" Bert said. "That's my job!" And he looked as if
he liked his job enormously.

But black luck preceded them, for when they returned to Waloo and drove
to Tenth Avenue South, they learned that the Reverend Townshend had been
knocked down by an automobile as he was crossing a street that
afternoon, and was lying in the hospital with concussion of the brain.
And they found, on driving to Olive street, that the Hortons had gone to
Vermont for the summer.

"I don't believe I ever was born!" Tessie was almost in tears. Her lips
quivered. So did her voice.

"Tut, tut!" rebuked her grandmother. "There were fifty-six folks, as I
remember, at that wedding, and it will be funny if I can't find some of
them. You don't want to get discouraged at the beginning of anything,
Tessie, not if you ever want to see the end of it."

"Why don't you drop it, Tess?" advised Joe Cary, when he heard about the
blond man with a big nose, the stolen marriage record, and about the
Reverend Townshend who was in the hospital with concussion of the brain.
"The Fates seem to be against you! So are some people, I should judge.
There is evidently some one who doesn't want you to be the Queen of the
Sunshine Islands. Look at last night! Look at to-day! Why do you want to
be a queen, anyway?" He asked the question as he would have asked why
she wanted to be a salesgirl, or why she did not want to be a
stenographer.

Tessie stared at him. The idea of asking such a question! Joe Cary was
crazy! And she told him so. "You talk as if being a queen was like
selling aluminum in the Evergreen!" she exclaimed indignantly.

"It isn't as decent!" cried Joe, and then Tessie knew, beyond a doubt,
that he was crazy.

"You can't stop being a queen if you are one!" she flared.

"Why can't you?" demanded Joe. "Can't you abdicate? Seems to me I've
read of several kings and queens who were glad to abdicate. You don't
have to be a queen unless you please, Tessie Gilfooly!" He actually did
seem to think that being a queen was like selling aluminum.

"Joe--Joe Cary--" she began in exasperation, and then she startled him
by bursting into tears--"you--you never want me to have any f-fun!" she
hiccuped.

"Oh, great Scott, Tess!" he said helplessly, and he would have taken her
in his arms and kissed the tears away, she was so little and sweet and
unreasonable, but Granny snatched her from him.

"There, there, my lamb!" she crooned. "You're all tired out. You just
come to your old Granny. There's some folks," she said over her shoulder
to Joe, "who are quick enough to tell other folks what to do, but I
wonder what they would say if they were to find themselves kings."

Joe stared at her, and then he laughed. "I know what I would do," he
declared promptly. "I never would be a king! Not for a minute!" He
seemed proud of himself--of what he would be.

"Then you'd be a coward, Joe Cary, and a shirk!" Granny pricked the
balloon of his pride with her frankness. "When the good Lord puts
responsibilities and duties on a body's shoulders, he can't throw 'em
off without being a coward and a shirk. What he has to do is to carry
them the best he knows how. Now I want you to stop picking on Tessie
just because she's a queen. It isn't her fault, and you needn't talk to
her as if it was. We don't none of us know why she was picked out to
look after those queer folks in the Pacific Ocean, but I guess the good
Lord knows His business, and He knows the Gilfoolys. It isn't any crime
to be a queen. It's a privilege, and we're all going to enjoy it with
Tessie. I don't want to hear any more picking," she repeated sternly.

"All right, Granny," Joe murmured meekly, but his eyes twinkled. "Just
as you say. Tess can think she is Queen of England, and I shan't say
another word!"



VII


"And about this wedding license, I'll put on my thinking cap," remarked
Granny. She went into the bedroom and closed the door.

When Tessie was a little thing and heard Granny talk of her thinking
cap, she always visualized the cap as something between the formal
Sunday black straw or velvet, and the Monday morning gingham sunbonnet
Granny wore when she hung out the washing. And now that Tessie was a big
girl, she knew no more of what a thinking cap was like than she had when
she was seven, for Granny had never worn one in public. She always
closed the door before she put it on.

But as usual, the thinking cap quickly produced results, and in no time
at all Granny emerged with half a dozen names scribbled on a piece of
paper. They soon found Mrs. Waterman and Mr. Jacob Dassett, who had been
at the wedding of John Gilfooly and Teresa Andrews, and could remember
the ceremony perfectly. They were thrilled to hear that the inheritance,
a kingdom in the Pacific Ocean, of the daughter of John Gilfooly and
Teresa Andrews, might hang on their word, and they grew incoherent as
they ransacked their memories for recollections of twenty years ago.

"A queen!" exclaimed the astonished Mrs. Waterman. "Can you believe it!
And a mighty pretty queen she'll make!" She looked with admiration at
Tessie's flushed and dimpled face. "The spitting image of her ma, ain't
she, Mrs. Gilfooly? And I tell you, miss, there wasn't a prettier girl
in the state than Tessie Andrews when she married John Gilfooly. Ain't I
right, Mrs. Gilfooly?"

Granny nodded. "John was a handsome man, too," she declared. "They made
a beautiful couple, Tessie. I wish you could have seen them!"

"You bet I remember the wedding of Jack Gilfooly and Tess Andrews!" Mr.
Dassett spoke a bit testily that any one should have thought he would
have forgotten. "Didn't Sam Horton knock over the lamp and near set the
bride on fire? It would have been a bad deal for you, young lady," he
smiled at Tessie, "if he had. There wouldn't have been no queens then,
you bet!"

Granny's thinking cap produced not only witnesses to the wedding, but
also told her where to unearth old Doctor Grannis, who had brought
Tessie into the world, and who swore he remembered the six-pound,
red-faced mite.

"Well, are you satisfied now?" Granny asked Mr. Marvin, when the
statements of her witnesses, duly signed and adorned with notarial
seals, lay on the desk before him.

"Perfectly!" But Mr. Marvin did not look at her and smile, he looked at
her blushing granddaughter. "Perfectly! The court can ask for nothing
more. But you can understand, Mrs. Gilfooly, why we cannot accept the
evidence of the interested parties. But these statements make everything
all right, and Miss Gilfooly is Queen of the Sunshine Islands." He rose
and bowed to Her Majesty. "But according to the terms of her uncle's
will, she is to remain here until his personal representative arrives to
escort her to her kingdom. And in the meantime--" He touched the button
on his desk.

Tessie and Granny held their breaths as they waited to hear what was
going to happen in the meantime.

At the whirr of the buzzer, the door, which had been tightly closed
opened, and Bert Douglas shot in. He was followed by a man who was not
black nor red nor yellow, but an attractive combination of the three
colors. He wore a blue blouse hanging over his trousers which flapped
around his bare feet. His hair was frizzed and stiffened until it stood
half a foot away from his scalp and was adorned with shells. His nose
was tattooed in red and blue, and in his hand he carried an ax. At least
Granny called the strange weapon an ax. The blade shone like silver.

Granny shrieked when she saw him, and clutched Tessie by the hand as if
she would run away with her. Johnny the Boy Scout stepped bravely
before the women of his family and stared at the strange creature, who
stood with bowed head and an air of great humility. His humility did not
deceive Granny, not for a second. She did not trust him, and she kept a
firm hold of Tessie's fingers.

"This is Ka-kee-ta, the protector of the royal person," exclaimed Mr.
Marvin.

And as if to prove his words, Ka-kee-ta jumped into the air and clicked
his bare feet together before he dropped on his knees before Tessie, and
laid the blade of his ax against her shabby brown shoes. Tessie shrank
back and caught her breath.

"It is his duty and privilege to accompany the king, or queen, wherever
he may go," went on Mr. Marvin. "He came with the Honolulu lawyer, who
brought the papers concerning King Pete's death, and the king's will.
When he saw Miss Gilfooly he was so convinced that she was the rightful
heir, that he gave her the royal jewel, the Tear of God, and it has been
difficult to keep him from her until these formalities," he tapped the
sworn statements with the notarial seals, "were settled. Now," he smiled
and rose, regarding Tessie with amused kindly eyes, "he will protect and
guard his queen."

"Oh, my!" breathed his queen, in mingled dismay and excitement. She
stared at her guard.

It was Granny who looked dubiously at the protector of the royal person.

"Do you mean he'll board with us?" she asked, wondering how on earth she
was going to find room for him in her little cottage.

"I guess I can look after my own sister," declared the Boy Scout, red
with indignation, and no wonder. But he, too, stared at Ka-kee-ta. Gee
whizz! what would the fellows say when they saw him?

"He will always be near the queen," Mr. Marvin answered Granny, but he
ignored Johnny. "I understand that it is the custom in the Sunshine
Islands for the ruler to have a bodyguard."

"But who is to feed him and sleep him until this personal representative
comes to Waloo?" demanded Granny. "Now that Tessie's left her job at the
Evergreen, there won't be so much coming in as there was. And a big
strapping chap like that will eat a lot!" Granny shook her head. She did
not see how it was to be done. She stepped forward and looked boldly at
Mr. Marvin. "I'd like to know just what there is in this queen business
for us?" she asked bluntly. "Tessie isn't living like a queen according
to my way of thinking. Our house, even if it is small and needs paint,
was all right for a girl when she was selling aluminum in the Evergreen,
but it ain't all right for a queen. A queen shouldn't live in a house
where there ain't any electric light, nor no dining room, and no
plaster on half the kitchen ceiling--for it fell down last spring when
we had the big rainstorm, you remember? It isn't a proper place for a
queen at all! And clothes! We all need new clothes with a queen in the
family. But where are we going to get them? Are there any wages in this
queen business?"

"My dear Mrs. Gilfooly! And Miss Gilfooly!" Mr. Marvin was all
apologies. "There are ample funds for anything you may wish to purchase.
I could not advance any money until the question of Miss Gilfooly's
birth had been settled beyond dispute, but now--" he said something in a
low voice to grinning Bert Douglas, who left the room. "It is impossible
for me to say exactly what the queen's income will be, but I understand
it will be large and generous. From what I hear I should say that the
Sunshine Islands are rich and prosperous. The natives will do well by
their little queen. And there is also King Peter's personal estate. We
will know all about the exact figures when the personal representative
arrives. But you are right when you say that the queen should be
properly housed. And you could scarcely be expected to provide for
Ka-kee-ta on your present income!" He laughed softly to think that any
one would think she should.

"I might be expected to. Some folks expect a body to do everything,"
cackled Granny, mollified and radiant. "But I couldn't do it even if I
am a good manager. I might have trusted Pete to arrange for everything
even if the Pete I knew never thought of anybody but himself. He was
only a boy, then," she explained apologetically, "and there ain't no boy
so thoughtful as a grown man. And this--this--" She looked at Ka-kee-ta,
who stood just behind Tessie, the blade of his ax glittering beside his
bushy head. "He was Pete's friend?" she asked uncertainly.

"The protector of the royal person. The privilege is inherited in his
family. I believe it descends from father to son. Miss Gilfooly will
doubtless find many strange customs in the islands. There are old
traditions in all countries, you know, and the people guard them
jealously. Ah," as Bert returned and placed a check before him. He wrote
his name, carefully blotted it, and handed the check to Tessie.

Before Tessie could look at it, Granny had it in her fingers. If
Ka-kee-ta was protector of the royal person Granny proposed to be the
keeper of the royal purse.

"My soul and body!" she exclaimed when she saw the figures. "The good
Lord sure has a friendly feeling for the Gilfoolys! We'll be able to
board Ka-kee-ta and his ax at the Waloo Hotel. I'll be glad to move.
It's mortifying to the Gilfooly pride to have newspaper reporters and
newspaper photographers pointing out all the shabby places in the house.
You'll let us know, Mr. Marvin, when that special representative comes
to town? Tessie and I'll be getting ready for him."

"I'll let you know," promised Mr. Marvin. "And may I say," he took
Tessie's little hand, "may I say that, in all my career as a lawyer, I
never had a more romantic nor more interesting case than this. Most
romantic and most interesting!" he repeated. "If you need any advice or
any help, do not hesitate to call on us. Mr. Douglas will be glad to be
of service to you at any time." He looked at Mr. Douglas, who had turned
a delighted crimson at being assigned to such romantic and interesting
service.

"I'll be glad to do anything I can!" he stammered.

"That's real kind," smiled Granny, while Tessie flushed and told him he
was real kind, too. "You might go over to the Waloo and pick out a good
room for us and one for Ka-kee-ta, while Tessie and I think about
clothes. We can't appear in public in what we got. They wouldn't do
credit to Pete. And these newspaper men would be sure to photograph us
in our worst. We'll have to keep dressed up all the time now."



VIII


If she lives to be a thousand, Tessie Gilfooly will never forget the day
she spent shopping in the Evergreen. It was so vastly different from the
days she had spent in the Evergreen selling aluminum.

"Get everything you want and what a queen should have," Mr. Kingley had
said, even before he saw the check Mr. Marvin gave Tessie. "Shoes and
hats and everything. Miss Morley will help you." And he sent for Miss
Morley, who went to New York every month and had been to Paris twice,
and so would know what queens should wear.

Tessie was considerably in awe of Miss Morley with her black hair
swirled around her head, her face delicately painted, her black canton
crepe--no cheap black sateen for Miss Morley--the latest thing in
frocks. But Miss Morley was looking at her with such frank admiration
that she dared to smile shyly as she blushed.

"It's awfully kind of you to help me," she even dared to say.

"I'll be glad to help you." Miss Morley smiled, too. "I never dressed a
queen before, and it will be great fun. We'll begin at the very
beginning because I expect that your underthings are no more royal than
your outside clothes."

"I've always wanted silk things," apologized Tessie, her hands
fluttering among the soft flesh-colored crepes and satins. She loved
them. She wanted them all. She longed to feel the touch of them on her
slim little body which had known only coarse cotton.

But Miss Morley pushed the lovely things contemptuously away. She even
tilted her long aristocratic nose at them.

"They're all right for silly shopgirls and cheap persons," she declared
scornfully, "but what a queen wants--oh, Rose, haven't you any linen,
fine and sheer, hand-sewed and hand-hem-stitched?"

And when Miss Rose Beacon of the lingerie had produced a special box in
which was linen, soft and fine, and enriched with much dainty hand-work,
she drew a long breath.

"There!" She pushed the cobwebby things towards Tessie. "That's what
queens wear!" She said it as positively as if she had dressed a queen
every day of her life.

"But--" faltered Tessie, looking longingly at the flesh-colored satins
and crepes.

"Half a dozen sets of these, Rose," ordered Miss Morley. "And as many
gowns."

"And half a dozen sets of the satin, too," whispered Tessie, the minute
Miss Morley turned her back. "I've always wanted silk underclothes, and
now I'm going to have some even if all queens don't wear them. I guess I
can afford them!"

It was the same all through the store. Tessie found what she had coveted
and sighed over was not proper for a queen. She had to buy flat-heeled
broad-toed shoes for walking, instead of the narrow-toed high heels for
which her soul yearned.

"High heels for dress, low heels for the street. Don't ever make the
mistake of wearing high heels on the street, Miss Gilfooly," advised
Miss Morley. "They'll make you look cheap and common."

"No, ma'am," Tessie murmured meekly, but she privately resolved to wear
her high heels when and where she pleased. Miss Morley would not be with
her always. And how could high heels make any girl look cheap and
common? They looked expensive and fine to Tessie's big blue eyes.

Miss Morley would not let her wear lace stockings with her street shoes,
but demanded a plain heavy silk. The dark blue crepe frock which was
finally chosen to cover the dainty camisole and plain dark blue
bloomers, was as simple as a frock could be, but it was a French model
and it made Tessie a very different girl from the one who had worn the
old black sateen.

"Now," remarked Miss Morley when half a dozen frocks had been chosen,
always the plainest and the simplest, "we'll go up to the third and have
your hair dressed."

"I can do my own hair," Tessie exclaimed eagerly. She was aghast at the
amount of money she had spent. Who ever would suppose that such plain
things would cost so much?

"I said dressed," smiled Miss Morley. "You can do your hair like the
shopgirls," she seemed to have a vast contempt for the way shopgirls
dressed and did their hair, "but what you want is a simple
coiffure--something royal!"

She told the astonished head of the hairdressing department what she
thought would be simple and royal, and she stood beside Tessie while
Mrs. Nelson took the buns from Tessie's ears, and redressed her hair in
simple waves. Tessie had pretty hair with a soft natural curl in it, and
she had a well-shaped head, although she had very successfully concealed
that fact with her buns and her rolls. But the clever professional
fingers made the most of her wavy hair and of the shape of her head.

"There!" Miss Morley approved of the result if Tessie did look at it a
bit doubtfully and wonder if it could be all right. "Now for a
manicure!"

When Miss Morley at last took Tessie down to show Mr. Kingley what could
be done by the Evergreen, they met Mr. Bill on the threshold. He was
trying to talk to Ka-kee-ta, who had reluctantly consented to wait for
his queen in the office, and who only had grunts in answer to Mr. Bill's
questions. Mr. Bill looked at Miss Morley and at Tessie. And he looked
again at Tessie. _Was_ it Tessie? Tessie blushed and dimpled.

"Well, I'll be darned!" he exclaimed unbelievingly. "If it isn't Queen
Teresa! You certainly make one sweet peach of a queen!" He was quite
scarlet and somewhat incoherent in his admiration.

"Clothes do make a difference, don't they, Mr. Bill?" asked Miss Morley,
proud of what she had made of Tessie. "She looks quite smart now,
doesn't she? I've been working over her all morning."

"Good work!" approved Mr. Bill. "I'll say she looks all right!" And his
hearty admiration deepened the color in Tessie's cheeks as well as in
his own face. Imagine Mr. Bill saying that Tessie Gilfooly looked all
right! No wonder Tessie's face was pink, and her eyes shone.

Mr. Kingley admired Tessie also and told Miss Morley that she had done
well--remarkably well.

"I knew the Evergreen could outfit a woman for any position," he said
with great satisfaction. "You selected other garments than what she is
wearing?"

"You said to fit her out appropriately but not foolishly." Miss Morley
repeated the orders she had received. "I have chosen a couple of
afternoon frocks, dinner gowns and evening gowns and a little jersey and
a serge for day wear."

"And hats?" suggested Mr. Kingley. "A queen can't wear her crown all the
time." And he laughed at his joke.

"And hats." Miss Morley was polite enough and clever enough to laugh
with him. "And shoes and everything. She has a very complete little
outfit."

"That's good. That's very good. You might collect the gowns and hats,
Miss Morley, and make a little exhibition of them to-morrow before they
are delivered. Miss Gilfooly can wait a day longer for them, and our
customers will be interested in a royal wardrobe. Have Miss Lee run a
little story in the _Gazette_. It isn't every store," he told them
proudly, "that could fit out a queen at a moment's notice. You arrange a
little exhibition, Miss Morley, and we'll invite Waloo to come and see
it. You'll like that, my dear," he told Tessie, who was not sure that
she would like it at all.

Joe Cary, bringing a message to Mr. Kingley from Mr. Maltby, the
assistant advertising manager, who had been discharged from his jury,
most certainly did not like it and he dared to say so.

"Your clothes belong to you, Tess. Don't you make a show of them," he
advised in a whisper.

Mr. Kingley went on talking, and he sounded as though he had heard Joe's
whisper, although he never looked at Joe.

"A queen owes that sort of thing to her people. They want show and
celebration and pageants in return for their money. You must expect that
now you are a queen," he told Tessie.

"Huh," sniffed Joe, and he spoke louder than perhaps he meant to speak,
for Mr. Kingley looked at him.

"What did you say, Cary?" he asked sharply.

"Here are those proofs from the _Gazette_ for the wash-goods sale," he
said. "And as for queens and kings, the fewer there are, the better the
world will be."

"This is no place for anarchism, Cary," Mr. Kingley told him coldly. "Go
and tell Mr. Maltby I want to see him at once. And, Cary, you might make
a little sketch of Miss Gilfooly as she is now and Maltby can run it
with a line--'Royalty Clothed by the Evergreen'--under it. It will
please the people, my dear. They'll like to come and buy where queens
buy," he said shrewdly.

"Huh!" muttered Joe. "Don't you let them make a monkey of you for the
old Evergreen, Tess," he whispered, as he went for his pencil and
drawing board, after he had mastered his impulse to "punch old Kingley
in the snout."

But Tessie never heard him. Joe and his mutters were an old story, but a
new and very fascinating tale was the admiration of Mr. Bill and his
father. She gladly agreed to everything that Mr. Kingley suggested.

"Of course," went on Mr. Kingley, with the zeal of an artist who wanted
his work to be quite perfect, "of course you don't know anything about
royal etiquette."

"Perhaps I could get a book in the book department," suggested Tessie
meekly. Mr. Kingley was right. She knew absolutely nothing of how a
queen should conduct herself, but if the Evergreen could clothe royalty,
surely it could tell a queen how to behave.

Mr. Kingley shook his head. He did not believe there was such a volume
among the thousands of books in the big department. Miss Morley shook
her head, too. Mr. Bill just stood and stared at Tessie.

"There's old Madame Cabot!" suggested Miss Morley suddenly. "She was
presented at court when she was a girl, and her uncle was minister to
Italy. I read it in the _Gazette_ in the story on her seventieth
birthday. She could tell Miss Gilfooly the way the Queen of Italy did
things. I should think that would help her."

"It undoubtedly would help her. You are very resourceful, Miss
Morley--very resourceful." And Mr. Kingley showered Miss Morley with his
august approval. "Bill, call up your mother and ask her to arrange to
take Miss Gilfooly to see Madame Cabot as soon as possible."

"Shouldn't Madame Cabot call on the queen?" Mr. Bill did not want to
take his eyes from Tessie to call up any one. He was perfectly satisfied
to let matters remain as they were.

"Madame Cabot is an old lady, and under the circumstances I am sure that
our queen will waive etiquette and go to her. It will be a great
privilege to have her help. Madame Cabot is a great lady."

"I know!" Tessie was faint and breathless at the mere thought of going
to see Madame Cabot. Tessie knew the aristocratic old lady by sight, but
she had never sold her so much as a kitchen spoon. She was a little awed
at the prospect of talking to her as queen to queen, but she bravely
lifted her head and looked at Mr. Kingley. "It will be awfully kind of
her to help me. I don't know anything," she admitted with a rosy shame
which was adorable--at least, Mr. Bill thought it was adorable. "I had
to leave school before I graduated from the high."

"You can learn. You can have teachers and learn," advised Mr. Kingley.
"And Madame Cabot can help you if she will."

"If she only will!" breathed Miss Morley, and for the first time since
she had been with Tessie, she seemed envious. She had not envied Tessie
her new clothes nor her throne, but she did seem to envy her the
possibility of a talk with Madame Cabot. "She knows! She has the most
perfect manners! You'll be helped just by looking at her," she told
Tessie.

Mr. Bill jeered. "That old dame," he began, but he was not allowed to go
any farther.

"My son!" rebuked his scandalized father.

"Mr. Bill!" exclaimed Miss Morley, so aghast that her delicately tinted
face acquired a lavender tint.

"Oh, all right," Mr. Bill said carelessly. "Only if you want my opinion,
which of course isn't worth a bean to you, you'll leave Miss Gilfooly
alone. She's all right as she is! My word, I should think she was! I
suppose Madame Cabot is all right, too, but she's old and our little
queen is young. What is all right for an old lady might be all wrong for
a young one!"

Tessie's pink face grew pinker. She had not a word to say, she could
only blush and dimple until Mr. Bill blushed, too.

"You call up your mother!" ordered Mr. Kingley curtly.

Tessie could scarcely breathe when Mr. Bill put her in the limousine
beside his mother, while Ka-kee-ta slipped into the front seat, although
the chauffeur looked at him out of the corner of a most scornful eye.
Mr. Bill's mother was so proud and so haughty that Tessie had never
expected to ride with her. Mrs. Kingley had never been in the hardware
department while Tessie had been there, and Tessie had had only an
occasional glimpse of her when she had been sent up from the basement on
some errand. She had never imagined that she would ever be on friendly
terms with her, and yet Mrs. Kingley seemed quite friendly. She smiled
pleasantly--even cordially.

"And this is our little queen! No, Bill, your father would not want you
to come with us! Surely you have work to do here!"

"Take Miss Gilfooly home to dinner, and I'll go back and see if I can
find anything to do," suggested Mr. Bill, showing his firm white teeth
in an appealing grin.

"Bill! I expect the queen has a dinner engagement." But Tessie hadn't,
and she managed to gather breath and courage to say so. "Well, we will
see," Mrs. Kingley promised Mr. Bill. "Madame Cabot is expecting us,"
she told Tessie as they drove away and left Mr. Bill standing somewhat
disconsolate on the curb. "How romantic it is! I expect you are quite
excited? It is enough to excite any girl to be told that she is a queen.
I remember I saw Queen Mary once--of England, you know--before the war.
She was riding in a coach with outriders, and it made Bill and me think
of a circus parade. I must say she looked a frump. You are very well
turned out, my dear. You look quite as a queen should look." And she
frankly approved of the quiet little hat and plain frock Miss Morley had
chosen.

"I got them at the Evergreen. Mr. Kingley has been so kind," Tessie told
Mr. Kingley's wife gratefully.

Mrs. Kingley smiled knowingly. "I expect Mr. Kingley knows what he is
about. It pleased him immensely to have all those stories about you and
the Evergreen in the newspapers. I tell Mr. Kingley that's what he lives
for--the Evergreen. By the way, don't be nervous if Madame Cabot is a
little severe. You must remember that you are a queen and hold up your
head," she advised, as they stopped before the old mansion where Madame
Cabot had lived for almost half a century.

Madame Cabot was not a bit severe. It pleased her to be interested in
this new royalty, and she searched her memory for any reminiscence which
would help Tessie.

"But the etiquette of your islands will be so different from anything I
have known, that I doubt if I can be of much assistance to you," she
said slowly. "Be simple and honest, my dear. That will be your best
rule. Don't claim to know more than you do. Your people will understand
that you were not brought up to be a queen, and they will not expect you
to know their customs and manners. Tell them frankly that you are
ignorant, but that you want to learn. That is by far the best way. Don't
you think so, Mrs. Kingley?"

"Oh, quite," agreed Mrs. Kingley, unobtrusively pinching herself to make
sure that she really was there talking to Madame Cabot about the proper
behavior of queens. It was so unbelievable that she had to give herself
quite a sharp pinch to be quite sure.

And while the two older women talked of queens and their behavior,
Tessie looked around the old-fashioned room and drank her tea from the
thin china cups, and wished that the sandwiches were larger, for she was
hungry, and of course, a queen would never take but one sandwich no
matter how small it was.

"You have been so kind," she said shyly to Madame Cabot, when the
audience was over. "I shan't ever forget how kind you have been. And I
shall try and remember to be honest and simple," she promised from the
bottom of her grateful heart. She thought she could manage to do that,
and she was very grateful to Madame Cabot for so easy a rule. She had
been afraid that Madame Cabot would tell her of hard things she would
have to do. But any one could be simple and honest.

And Madame Cabot, the great and exclusive Madame Cabot, was touched by
her humble appreciation and by the shy wistfulness in her rosy face.

"Bless the child!" she exclaimed quite as Granny might have exclaimed,
and she stooped and kissed Tessie's pink cheek. "You must come and see
me again. I like young people--especially pretty young girls."

Mrs. Kingley purred. She knew, if Tessie did not, what an invitation
from Madame Cabot meant. "I am going to take her home with me," she told
Madame Cabot almost proudly. "Just a little family dinner."



IX


The story of Queen Teresa appeared in the _Gazette_. It seemed to splash
all over the front page. There was the picture of Tessie in her black
frock at the aluminum, there was a cut of a tropical island overgrown
with gigantic palm trees, and in the corner was the drawing of Tessie
with a crown on her head and seated in a big carved chair under a huge
palm tree, receiving the homage of a throng of people in queer
costumes--or in no costumes at all.

"We'll cut this out and keep it, Tessie," Granny said, proud that the
Gilfoolys occupied so much of the front page of Waloo's most important
newspaper. "Maybe some day you'll like to read it again."

Granny read it any number of times and obtained much information from
the article on the Sunshine Islands, for the reporter had borrowed
Tessie's library books in which none of the Gilfoolys had had time to
look.

"I don't know how I'm going to like this kingdom of yours, Tessie."
Granny looked over her glasses at the young queen, who was trying on a
new frock before the full-length mirror in their suite at the Waloo
Hotel. "Raw fish they eat, and their gravy's made out of sea water and
lemon juice and cocoanut milk. Sounds like a mess to me! And the best
people don't seem to eat chicken. They eat pork. I don't know how I'm
going to like it."

Tessie turned away from the long mirror which had reflected a charming
little creature in a smart frock of blue taffeta, and hugged her
grandmother. Much she cared about gravy. But there was still
considerable awe in her voice as she cried, "Granny! can you believe it?
Isn't it too wonderful?" Her voice shook with the wonder of it. Her
whole body trembled as she pressed close to Granny.

"There, there!" Granny patted her cheek. "It's all true enough. You've
only got to look at Ka-kee-ta and smell that cocoanut oil he pours over
his head to know it's true. It makes me more nervous to have him always
standing at the front door with his meat ax than it does to be alone
with that Tear of God. Protector, indeed! I guess Johnny could protect
us all we need protecting. Or Joe Cary! I didn't feel right, Tessie, to
go off and leave Joe Cary alone in the old house, but he wouldn't come
with us and there wasn't room for Ka-kee-ta there, and so there wasn't
anything else to do. And that's another thing that makes me wonder about
this new job of yours, Tessie. What kind of a country is it where the
queen has to have a man with a meat ax to protect her?"

Tessie laughed and hugged her grandmother again. "Silly old dear!" she
said lovingly. "Mr. Douglas explained it all to me. There isn't any
necessity now, Granny, or at least he doesn't think there is. It's just
a custom. Once upon a time it was necessary, Mr. Douglas said, for the
king to have a bodyguard to protect him from his enemies, but now it's
probably just a custom. Anyway, I haven't any enemies," she finished
triumphantly.

"Gracious, I should hope not! And I hope to goodness Mr. Douglas knows
what he's talking about and it is only a custom," grumbled Granny. "It
don't sound good to me, but I'm old-fashioned and maybe it's all right.
It certainly did make folks stare when we walked into the Evergreen with
Ka-kee-ta walking behind us with his meat ax. I guess everybody in the
store knew you was somebody with Mr. Kingley and his son and all the
clerks a-hanging around!" She laughed happily as she recalled the
pleasant experience. "And that lady they called the advertising--what
was she doing here last night, Tessie?"

"She came to help me look over my mail." Tessie sighed as she remembered
her mail. "I never could have done it alone, Granny."

"You poor child!" sympathized Granny, as she too visualized Tessie's
mail, which had been brought to her in a huge clothes-basket.

The publication in the _Gazette_ of the romantic story of the queen who
was found in the basement of the Evergreen, had been the signal for an
army to take to typewriters and pens, at least it seemed as if it must
have taken an army to write the enormous number of letters which had
been addressed to Queen Teresa, or to Miss Teresa Gilfooly, Queen, or to
Her Majesty, Miss Gilfooly.

There were seventy-three proposals of marriage from men who stated that
they were willing to be kings, and that they were strong and fearless
and would help Queen Teresa govern her kingdom. There were innumerable
letters from automobile dealers, florists, dressmakers, shoemakers,
milliners, jewelers, stationers, real estate dealers, railroad and
steamship agents, caterers, architects, house decorators, dancing
teachers. Indeed every one who was in business in Waloo wasted no time
in calling Queen Teresa's attention to the fact and to the knowledge
that he was eager to serve her, and the sooner the better.

There were letters from philanthropic organizations asking the queen's
patronage for orphanages and old peoples' homes. There were letters from
girls who wanted to be singers or dancers, and from boys who wanted to
be painters or poets and who asked for loans from the royal treasury.
There were letters from people who wanted mortgages raised and doctors
paid or victrolas bought.

And here came a boy with another basket filled with mail. It was too
provoking. If Tessie read half of them she would have time for nothing
else. And after the first basketful, the reading of the letters was a
stupid task. You can understand why Tessie looked at them in horror and
despair.

"You'll have to get a secretary," grinned Mr. Bill, who had brought
Tessie a huge bunch of violets, "or throw them out. They aren't worth
reading. Throw them out!"

"I can't do that," frowned Tessie, her nose buried in the violets. "It
wouldn't be right. There might be something in one of them, you know,
something I should know about." Tessie showed every symptom of taking
her royal duties seriously. "Mr. Marvin said Mr. Douglas could help me.
Perhaps----"

"Bert!" interrupted Mr. Bill quickly. "Bert couldn't help you in this
sort of a job." Mr. Bill was quite sure that Bert would be worse than
useless. "You want to have a woman. Miss Lee helped you yesterday,
didn't she? I expect Dad would let you have her again. You know her and
you like her?" Tessie nodded, and her face brightened. She would like to
have Norah Lee help her. Norah was not a stranger. "Just chuck the
stuff away and let Miss Lee look after it and come with me for a spin
around the lakes. You'll be sick if you stay cooped up here all day.
Come on! Just the two of us!" he coaxed.

Tessie hesitated, and you know what happens when people hesitate. She
allowed Mr. Bill to push the big basket full of letters under the table
and ran to put on her hat. Just outside the door stood Ka-kee-ta, an
object of terror to the hotel staff and of pride to the hotel guests. He
drew himself up as Tessie came out with Mr. Bill and raising his ax to
his shoulder fell in behind them. Mr. Bill stopped.

"The queen won't need you, Ka-kee-ta," he said carelessly. "I'll look
after her."

"Yes, Ka-kee-ta, you can take a rest," smiled Tessie.

"Glad to be rid of him for awhile?" grinned Mr. Bill, as he followed
Tessie into the elevator. "Hello!" as they shot down and passed another
cage shooting up. "There is our friend Douglas going up to see you."

"Oh!" And as the elevator stopped at the office floor Tessie hesitated.
"Perhaps I should go back? Perhaps he has come to tell me that the
special representative has come from the islands? Perhaps----"

"That's enough of perhapses." Mr. Bill dared to put his hand on her arm.
When he was with Tessie he frequently forgot that she was a queen and
that he was only a floorwalker in the Evergreen. "What do you care? It
won't hurt your special representative to wait for you. You have had to
wait for him. Come on! I dare you!"

Again Tessie hesitated, and then she laughed softly and walked down the
corridor with Mr. Bill. All around her she heard whispers. "That's Queen
Teresa! She used to sell face cream at the Evergreen and now she's Queen
of the Sunshine Islands!" It was exciting if it was not altogether
truthful.

When they reached the curb where Mr. Bill's car was parked, and Tessie
was settled on the front seat, there at her side, his hand on the door,
was Ka-kee-ta, ax and all.

"Oh, dear!" exclaimed Tessie. "Couldn't a queen ever go anywhere with a
gentleman friend?" She looked at Mr. Bill for an answer to her unuttered
question.

Mr. Bill frowned at the royal bodyguard. "Look here, Ka-kee-ta," he said
sharply, "didn't I tell you that I would take care of the queen?"

Much Ka-kee-ta cared what Mr. Bill had said. He arranged himself in a
graceful loop on the running board, close to Tessie's elbow, and there
was every indication that he meant to stay there as long as Tessie
remained in the car.

"Oh, dear!" Tessie was almost in tears. What a lot queens did have to
endure!

"Here!" Mr. Bill threw open the door of the tonneau. "If you will insist
on going where you're not wanted, sit there!" And he waved his hand
toward the rear seat.

With a look that measured the distance between the front seat and the
back, Ka-kee-ta stepped into the car and settled himself with a grunt.
He held his ax straight before him. He did look so silly that he made
Tessie feel silly, too. She wanted to cry.

"Comfy?" Mr. Bill asked tenderly, as he put his finger on the
self-starter.

She stopped wanting to cry because she discovered that she wanted to
smile. "Awfully comfy! But I do hate to be tagged around by 'that' all
the time!" And she frowned as she jerked her head back to indicate the
watchful bodyguard.

"We'll forget all about him. And about queens, too, shall we?" As he
bent to hear her answer, he all but ran into a car which had raced
toward them.

With a snarl Ka-kee-ta was on his feet, his ax suspended over Mr. Bill's
head.

"Ka-kee-ta!" Tessie grasped his arm and held it with all of her might.

"What's the matter?" demanded Mr. Bill with a deep breath. "That was a
close shave. Looked as if that machine was deliberately trying to run
us down. But we're all right, aren't we?" He saw that Tessie was all
right. "Sit down, old friend!" he said to Ka-kee-ta, "and watch your ax.
I'd kill myself before I'd let anything happen to your queen. I mean
that!" he told Tessie in a husky voice.

"You're awfully kind," murmured Tessie, her heart beating so fast and so
loud that she was sure Mr. Bill must hear it.

"I wish you weren't a queen!" Mr. Bill exclaimed impulsively.

"Why?" Tessie's eyes widened.

"Why? Do you like to have Ka-kee-ta trailing you all the time?" He gave
her just one reason why she might wish she were not a queen.

"No, but I like to be a queen," she answered truthfully.

"I suppose a girl would," in disgust. "We could have a lot more fun if
you were just a--just a--"

"Nobody!" Tessie finished the sentence for him. "But when I was a
nobody, Mr. Bill, you never saw me! You never knew I was on earth until
I was a queen!"

"That isn't fair!" stammered Mr. Bill, when he was confronted with the
truth. "That isn't fair!"

"It's true, isn't it?" demanded Tessie triumphantly. "I should say I am
glad I'm a queen!"

"So I would know you are on earth?" asked Mr. Bill softly, and quite
forgetting the gulf which is supposed to yawn between queens and
floorwalkers.

But Tessie would not admit that that was the reason she was glad to be a
queen. No girl would.

"The idea!" she said instead, and sat up straighter and refused to
exchange tender glances with him. "Is this a good car?" she asked in a
most matter-of-fact voice. "I have to buy a car, and I don't know which
is a good one."

"I do!" exclaimed Mr. Bill emphatically. "And I'll help you buy a car.
I'll help you do anything!" And he might have dared to put his hand on
the royal fingers, they were so soft and white as they rested on her
knee beside him, but a snarl from the rear made him realize that
Ka-kee-ta's eyes were watchful. "I wish we could lose him," he grumbled.

"So do I," agreed Tessie heartily.

But Ka-kee-ta snarled louder and jumped to his feet and stared at a car
which had come so close to them that it had almost scraped their fender.
He waved his ax wildly.

"The shark!" he shouted. "The shark!"

Mr. Bill stopped his car dead. "What do you mean?" he demanded. "What do
you mean?"

"The shark!" squealed Ka-kee-ta with another flourish of his ax.

"That's what the man we found on the porch said!" exclaimed Tessie
anxiously. "What do you suppose he means?" And when Mr. Bill could not
tell her she turned to Ka-kee-ta. "What do you mean, Ka-kee-ta?"

The car which had all but scraped their fender, turned a corner and was
out of sight.

"The shark," mumbled Ka-kee-ta, and dropped back in his place.

"Well, I'll be darned!" muttered Mr. Bill, as he started his engine.
"What did he mean? He couldn't see any shark, could he? What did he
mean?"

But Ka-kee-ta refused to tell them why he had jumped up and shouted. He
sulked and fiddled with his ax, and at last they left him alone.

"There are so many things I don't understand," sighed Tessie. "I--I
don't know what I would do if I didn't have you to help me. Sometimes I
wish the police hadn't been so quick about letting that other man go. It
must mean something when two black men talk about a shark, mustn't it?"
She turned a troubled face to Mr. Bill.

"They sound and look to me more like a fraternity initiation than
anything else," said puzzled Mr. Bill. "Perhaps they don't mean what we
mean when we say 'shark.' Perhaps 'shark' is the Sunshine Island word
for hello!"

"Oh!" Tessie looked up at him with eyes full of wonder and admiration.
"I do think you are the most wonderful man in the world! No one else
would ever have thought of that!"

"Oh, I don't know," Mr. Bill murmured modestly. "But it might be true,
you know."

"I'm sure it's true!" exclaimed Tessie eagerly.



X


Tessie really did not think much about Ka-kee-ta and his excited
exclamations. She had too much to do to guess conundrums. Never was
there a busier queen. The publicity the newspapers gave her brought new
duties every day.

"You can't refuse," Norah Lee told her firmly. Norah had been loaned to
the Sunshine Islands by the Evergreen and was taking her new work very
seriously. "You want to advertise your kingdom, don't you? Make people
know about it? I dare say there are thousands in Waloo this minute who
have never heard of it, in spite of the corking stories the newspapers
are giving you. Every one doesn't read every paper, and if you aren't in
all the papers some people will miss knowing about you. It's your duty
as a queen to make the Sunshine Islands the most talked about place in
the world."

Put that way Tessie could not refuse, and she graciously permitted
herself to be photographed and interviewed until every daily newspaper
made a story of Queen Teresa and her islands as much a part of its daily
routine as the sport page or the stock reports. "Our Queen," the
_Gazette_ proudly called her, because she had made her first appearance
in the _Gazette_.

She kept her promise to Mr. Kingley, and with Ka-kee-ta--his ax polished
to silver brightness--stood in the basement of the Evergreen behind the
familiar counter stocked high with aluminum. She might be the same
little Tessie at heart, but outwardly there was a vast difference. She
looked like a princess playing at being a salesgirl for her gown was of
black silk crepe instead of cheap sateen, her hair was done in the
simple fashion approved by Miss Morley, and at Mr. Kingley's request
around her neck hung the Tear of God in its fiber lace. No one scolded
her if she made a mistake. Indeed, Mr. Kingley had craftily minimized
her chance to make a mistake by decreeing that she should only take the
order and hand the parcel to the purchaser, the other girls could make
out the sales-slips. And the basement was mobbed with purchasers.

"She's doing it for the shoe fund of her new kingdom," was a whisper
frequently heard among them. "And no wonder!" would be the sympathetic
rejoinder when Ka-kee-ta's bare feet were seen.

"I'll keep this all my life!" exclaimed a well-cushioned, warm-hearted
woman. "I'll hand it down to my grandchildren," she promised tearfully.
"To think a real queen sold it to me!"

"You're such a beautiful queen!" wept another emotional creature. "I
read every word about you!"

Norah Lee watched the crowd from a sheltered corner, where Joe Cary
found her.

"Hello!" he said. "Can't keep away from the old home, can you? May I say
we miss you like the dickens up on the fifth." And he grinned as if he
had missed her.

"I'm glad," Norah said simply, although she flushed a bit. "One likes to
be missed. You are getting mighty good publicity these days. The
Evergreen is all over all the papers."

"Don't blame me," begged Joe. "I don't believe in exploiting a little
girl even if she is unfortunate enough to be the queen of a cannibal
island, and even if it does put the Evergreen all over all the papers. I
have a conscience tucked away somewhere about me!" he told her proudly,
as if a conscience was a rare and valuable treasure. "How do you like
your new job?" he asked curiously.

She laughed. She was a tall slim girl with jolly brown eyes and a jolly
laugh. She and Joe had been in the same office for a year and Joe
admired her immensely, but Norah thought her work was the most important
thing in the world. She had not been pleased when she was loaned to the
Queen of the Sunshine Islands, but the first basketful of mail had
interested her, and she was still interested in the strange letters
which came to Queen Teresa. So she laughed when Joe asked her about her
new job.

"It is amusing," she said. "And surprising. I never knew there were so
many people who want something for nothing. Miss Gilfooly is a dear
little thing, isn't she? She accepts all the attention and admiration
she is receiving without a question. She hasn't an analytical mind, has
she? She never questions, she just accepts. I can't understand that! I
would be just one huge interrogation point. The whole thing is so
strange that sometimes I wonder--" She hesitated and looked oddly at
Joe.

Joe looked oddly at her. "Sometimes I wonder, too," he said. "I don't
understand it at all, but I'll tell you this, Miss Lee, if any one tries
to play tricks on Tessie Gilfooly, he will have to answer to me!"

She nodded. "You're in love with her, aren't you?" As soon as the words
slipped over her lips she turned crimson and stammered. "I beg your
pardon! Don't tell me, please! It isn't any of my business!"

"Pooh!" exclaimed straightforward Joe. "I would just as soon tell the
world. Of course I'm in love with her and with Granny and Johnny, the
best of Boy Scouts. And that's why I say if any one gets gay with
Tessie, I'll have something to say."

"Would you dare?" She seemed pleased to hear that he was in love with
Granny and Johnny as well as with Tessie. But she looked not at Joe, but
at the owner of the Evergreen, who had come down to the basement to
watch a queen sell his aluminum.

"Pooh!" exclaimed Joe again. "You bet I'd dare! I'm not going to stay
here all my life anyway. I've got a chance to go in with the World Wide
Agency, and I guess that will push me ahead faster than the Evergreen.
I'm just waiting until this queen business is over, and then I'll
leave."

"Oh!" Norah Lee stared at him with big covetous eyes. "The World Wide!"
She was frankly and honestly envious. "But if Miss Gilfooly goes to the
Sunshine Islands?"

He laughed strangely. "Sometimes I wonder if there are any Sunshine
Islands," he said scornfully, although he had read several of Tessie's
library books and knew very well that there were Sunshine Islands, six
of them.

"Why--why--" she stammered. "What do you mean?" She was so eager to hear
what he meant that she drew closer, and Mr. Kingley found them with
their heads together in business hours.

"Come, come, Cary!" he said sharply. "Have you finished that sketch?"
For he had sent Joe to the basement to sketch the queen, not to talk to
the queen's secretary.

Mr. Kingley was proud of his business acumen as he looked around the
crowded basement. It was not every man who would have secured so much
publicity in the discovery of a queen in a store basement. And how the
store would benefit by his broad vision! There would not be enough
aluminum in the Evergreen or in the city even, if the demand kept
increasing as it had increased since the sale began. Tessie would have
to shift to granite wear, and the excited women, who pressed so close to
her, would never know the difference, although he would have the change
announced in Mr. Walker's loudly penetrating voice. Mr. Kingley
especially approved of Ka-kee-ta and his ax. They seemed to give an
atmosphere of reality to the royalty in the Evergreen basement. Yes, the
store would profit immensely by this sale. And Tessie would do well,
too. She would have some more of that wonderful free publicity. He would
guarantee that it would be nation-wide. And her per cent of the sales,
small as he had been able to make it, would give her a good sum for the
shoe fund for the orphans of the Sunshine Islands.

"Choose something for the kids," Norah Lee had advised when they had
talked of the beneficiary. "Children appeal to every one, and you'll
arouse more interest if you announce that you are selling aluminum to
help the orphans of the islands than if you let it be whispered about
that you are doing it to advertise Mr. Kingley."

So Tessie smiled and handed out parcel after parcel until one o'clock,
when Mr. Bill appeared, as the hour struck, to take her home. He grinned
at the crowd and diffidently suggested that Tessie would lunch with him.
Tessie drew a deep breath and tried to keep the rapid beating of her
heart out of her voice.

"Oh!" she exclaimed softly. "Could we have it here?" For never, in the
many months she had been at the Evergreen, had she been able to eat as
much as a bowl of chicken soup in the blue-and-gold tea-room on the
fifth floor. Prices were too high and Tessie's finances were too low.
She could obtain more for her fifteen or twenty cents at the cafeteria
in the next block, but that fact only made her more eager to lunch at
the Evergreen. Her little face turned quite pink as she spoke of it.

"Sure we can!" declared Mr. Bill, proud to have the Evergreen chosen,
and proud of Tessie for choosing it. "I wish," he added frankly, "that
we could dispense with the bodyguard!" He looked scornfully at
Ka-kee-ta, although Ka-kee-ta had attracted almost as much attention as
his royal mistress. "Isn't the store detective enough?" he grinned.

"I should hope so," sighed Tessie, and she frowned and turned her back
to her bodyguard. "It does seem as if I didn't need to be protected when
I'm with friends. I hate it!"

"Of course you do. But wait a minute! I have an idea!" He scowled as he
developed his idea, and then began to issue orders. "Miss Lee," he said
crisply, "you take Ka-kee-ta home. I'll bring Miss Gilfooly later." He
turned to Ka-kee-ta and spoke as a general in command of an army. "Go
with Miss Lee. Your queen orders it. I will guard her. Come on," he told
Tessie. "Let's get a move on before he realizes he is going to be left
behind."

She snatched her gloves and bag from the arrogant cashgirl, who had
stood beside her to hold them, and ran away with him, the proudest,
happiest queen in the world, while Norah Lee, sympathetic and
resourceful, diverted Ka-kee-ta's attention by leading him to a rack
where there was a splendid array of axes of all kinds. Ka-kee-ta had
never seen so many. His eyes glistened, and he never noticed that his
queen had slipped away.

Tessie's eyes glistened, too. To think that she was to lunch with Mr.
Bill in the Evergreen tea-room. She could scarcely believe it, even when
she was seated at a round table in a corner of the room with Mr. Bill
smiling triumphantly at her.

"Well!" he exclaimed proudly. "I managed that all right!"

Tessie smiled at him. "You're wonderful!" she said slowly, as if the
words were sweet to her quivering lips.

They were sweet to Mr. Bill's ears, also, and he blushed awkwardly. "Not
half as wonderful as you are," he stammered. "You--you're adorable, you
know!" And he gazed deep into her big blue eyes.

"Have you given your order?" asked a waitress crisply, for patrons were
patrons, and orders were that no one was to be allowed to linger during
the rush hour, every one was to be hurried through.

"All right," mumbled Mr. Bill, when he was reminded that he was in the
tea-room instead of in Paradise. "What will you have?" he asked Tessie,
and the worshiping note in his voice made the waitress turn a bright and
vivid green with envy.

"You choose," begged Tessie in a shaking voice. She was afraid of a menu
card, and she would far rather listen to Mr. Bill order anything than
brave its dangers.

"I'll give you what my sister likes," suggested Mr. Bill after a
fruitless effort to find food suitable for royalty. "I suppose all girls
like the same things." He gave the order to the waitress, and finished
it with a snap which meant, "Now, for heaven's sake, go away and leave
us alone."

Every one in the big blue-and-gold room knew that the pretty young girl
at the corner table with the son of the owner of the Evergreen, was the
Queen of the Sunshine Islands, and many admiring and more envious
glances were cast toward her. There was not a girl there who would have
refused to give her dearest possessions, all of her possessions, to step
into Tessie's shoes, the high-heeled, narrow-toed shoes Tessie wore in
defiance of Miss Morley's earnest advice. Think of being a queen and of
lunching with young Bill Kingley! Surely the gods crammed the measure
full to overflowing for some people. And although the room was decorated
entirely in blue and gold it seemed all green, and far more anarchists
went out of it that day than had come into it.

Before Tessie and Mr. Bill had reached the nut ice cream with hot
chocolate sauce which was the beloved of Mr. Bill's sister, there was a
stir and a bustle and Ka-kee-ta shot into the room, breathing hard and
glaring defiance at the head waitress, who had vainly tried to persuade
him to check his ax at the door. With a snort of satisfaction, he
slipped behind Tessie's chair.

"Oh, dear!" Tessie was almost in tears. "Here he is again!"

"We had a few minutes alone," reminded Mr. Bill, trying to believe that
half a loaf of bread is considerably better than no bread. "Why did you
come back, Ka-kee-ta?" he asked the bodyguard sternly. "Didn't I tell
you I would look after the queen?"

"The Tear of God," rumbled Ka-kee-ta, as if the Tear of God was all
that counted and queens were less than nothing. "The Tear of God!"

Tessie's hand went involuntarily to her neck. The Tear of God was there.
What did Ka-kee-ta mean?

"The shark!" muttered Ka-kee-ta, and he shook his head and flourished
his ax, and muttered words in a strange tongue.

It was just as well for "the shark," whoever or whatever he was, that he
was not in the Evergreen tea-room at that moment, for Ka-kee-ta would
have made short work of him. He growled and rumbled fiercely.

"I wish I knew what he meant!" murmured Tessie, for she felt that she
should know what her bodyguard meant.

But Mr. Bill, wonderful as he was, could not tell her. He could only
look at her and say again that she was adorable. Tessie moved
impatiently. Joe Cary would have told her what Ka-kee-ta meant. Joe
always had an answer when she questioned him. Could it be possible that
Mr. Bill was not as clever as Joe Cary? But of course he was! Mr. Bill
was quite the most wonderful man in the world. She smiled at him shyly.



XI


Ka-kee-ta with his ax and a proud tilt to his frizzled head became a
familiar sight in Waloo. He caused more excitement and roused more
interest than the queen.

"Bring your bodyguard with you," begged the president of the Home for
Aged Women, when Tessie consented to appear at an entertainment the
directors had arranged to increase its revenue.

"And do please have your picturesque guard come, too," coaxed the
committee from the Junior League, which had invited Tessie to open the
ball which the League gave every year to raise funds for its
philanthropic work.

So Ka-kee-ta, in his blue clothes, his hair freshly oiled, his tattooed
face oiled also, so that he was redolent of rancid cocoanut, his ax in
his hand, stood in the back of the royal box, where Granny, in smart
black lace and jet beads, and Johnny, in a new scout uniform, and
Tessie, wearing a wonderful dancing frock of blue and silver, were the
cynosure of all eyes.

When Tessie was asked by a giggling committee if she wished to follow
the royal custom and choose her partners, she had blushed and exclaimed
fervently, "Gracious! I should say not! I want to be just like the other
girls!"

There was a rush when her wish was made known, for every man in the
ballroom wanted to be able to tell his friends that he had danced with a
queen. Granny beamed at the pushing throng.

"The Gilfoolys always stood well with their friends," she said to no
less a person than Mr. Kingley, who had stopped for a word with his
former humble employee, and who remained to listen to Granny as she
bragged of the Gilfoolys.

Tessie had never imagined there were so many attractive men in the world
as she met at the Junior League ball. She was unable to dance a dozen
steps with one before another cut in. It was confusing, if flattering,
and she gave a little sigh of relief when Bert Douglas swung her through
a doorway into a little ante-room.

"Lucky for me I know this place as well as my hat," grinned Bert, when
he and Tessie were seated on a red velvet sofa. "Say," he went on even
more radiantly, "is this evening real? Am I actually twosing here with a
queen?"

"It doesn't seem real, does it?" murmured Tessie, her eyes shining.

"I hope that special representative never comes," went on Bert. "I'll
hate to have you go to the Sunshine Islands!"

"I'll hate to go," confessed Tessie. She could never tell him how she
would hate to leave Waloo. "I'm having such a good time here!"

"There was a funny thing happened to-day," Bert said lazily. "Did Mr.
Marvin tell you about it? A man came into the office and wanted to buy
your kingdom."

"My kingdom!" Tessie was astonished and indignant. The idea of any one
wanting to buy her kingdom before she had seen it.

"Yes. The Sunshine Islands. He said you might as well sell them because
a white woman would never be allowed to reign over them."

"The idea!" Tessie was on her feet staring at him. "The very idea! I
guess if my Uncle Pete could reign over them, Granny and Johnny and I
can look after them! What did Mr. Marvin say?"

"He said he would take the matter under advisement and present it to
you. That doesn't mean anything," he added hastily--for Tessie frowned
and exclaimed again, "The very idea!"--"It's what lawyers always say.
They have to say something!"

"I don't like it! I mean I don't like any one wanting to buy my islands.
You can tell Mr. Marvin that the very first thing in the morning. The
Sunshine Islands aren't for sale!"

"I was a fool to speak of it," mumbled Bert regretfully. He had not
thought that she would be so concerned. "And don't think about it again.
No one can buy your islands if you won't sell them, you know. That's a
peach of a frock!" He changed the subject abruptly and gazed admiringly
at Tessie's blue-and-silver dancing frock. "And awfully becoming!" His
admiration shifted to her puzzled little face. "You look like a--a--" he
stammered as he tried to tell Tessie what she resembled--"a dream!" he
finally decided. "Is that the royal jewel?" He bent forward to look at
the Tear of God as it hung around Tessie's white neck. "Some pearl,
isn't it?"

Tessie shook her head. "I have to wear it, but I don't like it, not a
bit. It's beautiful, of course, and different, but it makes me think of
all the kings and queens who must have worn it. I don't mind Uncle Pete,
but some of those old cannibals before Uncle Pete civilized the islands
make me shiver. But if I don't wear it Ka-kee-ta has a fit. H-sh! Some
one is looking for me!" For in the hall she heard a voice call, "Tessie!
Tessie! Where has the child gone?"

And there in the doorway stood Granny in her black lace and jet, as fine
a Gilfooly as ever was.

"Tessie, Tessie," she scolded. "This is no way for a queen to behave.
Queens don't go lalligaging with lawyers! They have to stay where folks
can see them. Come right back to the ballroom with me. Ka-kee-ta has
been in such a way. He missed you at once and made such a fuss I had to
look for you."

"I wish Ka-kee-ta was in the Pacific Ocean," murmured Tessie, as she
meekly followed Granny, for well she knew that Granny only told the
truth when she said that queens did not lalligag with young lawyers.

"You've got a nerve, Bert Douglas!" exclaimed Mr. Bill, who met them at
the ballroom door. "What do you mean by running away with Her Majesty?
You should be shot at sunrise!"

"Shoot if you please!" Bert looked triumphantly at Mr. Bill. "The queen
and I had our little tête-à-two. Didn't we, Miss Gilfooly?"

"You must dance with every one," scolded Granny. "You can't pick and
choose." Her fingers straightened the lace shoulder-straps of Tessie's
frock.

"What's the good of being a queen," muttered Tessie, but she sounded
more rebellious than she acted. She obediently danced with every one.

It was not until the ball was over, and a maid was throwing her wrap of
velvet and fur over her shoulders that she missed something. She put her
hand to her neck. Where was the Tear of God? The royal jewel no longer
hung from her white neck. She turned deathly pale and ran from the
coatroom.

"Mr. Bill! Mr. Douglas!" she stammered. "I've been robbed!"

"Robbed!" They gathered about her. It was true. They could see for
themselves that the royal jewel was no longer around her neck.

"You never left the room but once," Mr. Bill remembered quickly. "And
Bert was with you!"

Bert bristled indignantly. "What do you mean?" he wanted to know at
once.

"The pearl was taken while Miss Gilfooly was dancing, or it dropped from
her neck. You know where you took her. Suppose you look there,"
suggested Mr. Bill.

For a moment Bert looked as if he would refuse to follow Mr. Bill's
suggestion, but if Mr. Bill meant what he said he meant, and not what
Bert might think he meant, there was nothing to resent, and Bert hurried
to the ante-room, keeping a sharp lookout in the corridor. He examined
the ante-room carefully. He even slipped his hand down back of the seat
of the red velvet sofa where he and Tessie had had such a pleasant
little chat. He found several hairpins, a button, a nickel, and two
dusty lemon drops, but not one pearl. He had to go back to Tessie
empty-handed. There were tears in her eyes.

"I don't dare tell Granny," she gulped. "She'll think I've been
careless. And Ka-kee-ta!" She was frightened when she remembered
Ka-kee-ta and his shining ax. "What do they do to queens who lose the
crown jewels?" she wailed.

Mr. Bill put his hand on her arm. "Buck up," he begged earnestly. "It
must be somewhere! We'll find it. Don't you worry! Who could have taken
it?"

That was the question. Who could have taken it? A sudden thought made
Tessie clutch Mr. Bill's sleeve, and stare at him and at Bert with
frightened eyes.

"You know," she said, the words treading on each other in their haste to
be spoken, "that there is a party in the Sunshine Islands that doesn't
want me to be the queen! And you know the natives are awfully
superstitious and won't have anybody for their ruler unless he has the
Tear of God. Do you suppose one of those rebels could have been here
to-night and stolen the jewel so that the natives will refuse to have me
for their queen?" Her blue eyes were very, very big and frightened, and
her face was very white.

"Well, I'll be darned!" muttered Mr. Bill.

"That's it! That's it!" cried Bert eagerly. "You remember that
white-headed, big-nosed chap who stole the record of your father's and
mother's marriage from the Mifflin Court House?" he asked Tessie
quickly. "Perhaps he was here and stole the jewel."

"He was freckled!" remembered Tessie with a gasp. "The clerk said he was
freckled! I remember I thought that was funny, for men don't freckle.
It's boys. I danced with a freckled man this very night!" She gasped
again. "And he asked a lot of questions about the islands. I never
thought about it then. I thought he was just trying to be pleasant. What
a fool I was!"

"That's the chap!" declared Mr. Bill.

"Who was he? What was his name?" demanded Bert.

"I don't remember," faltered Tessie. "I met so many men to-night. I
don't remember any of their names. Oh, dear! What shall I do?" She
looked from Bert to Mr. Bill, and when neither of them could tell her
what to do she wished with all her heart that Joe Cary was there. Joe
would tell her in a minute what to do.

"Well, Tessie, the party's over. It's time to go home." And Granny, who
had been talking to the president of the Junior League, came toward them
followed by Ka-kee-ta. Tessie shrank away as she saw the gleam of
Ka-kee-ta's ax. "Had a good time, dearie?" Granny asked affectionately.
Granny had had a wonderful time herself. She was sure that no Gilfooly
had ever had a better time.

"Oh, Granny!" Tessie threw her arms around Granny's neck, and hid her
face in the soft lace of Granny's gown.

Granny was startled and a bit frightened. "What is it? What is it?" She
looked at Mr. Bill and at Bert. "What has happened to my lamb?"

"It's--it's the Tear of God!" sobbed Tessie. "I've--I've lost i-it!"

"Lost it! Stand up, Tessie Gilfooly, and remember queens don't cry
before folks. Lost! Nothing of the sort! Ka-kee-ta!" And when Ka-kee-ta
had stepped forward with a salute of his ax, she said imperiously, "The
Tear of God!"

Ka-kee-ta held out his left hand and opened it, and there on his yellow
brown palm was the Tear of God.

"Well, I'll be darned!" exclaimed Mr. Bill.

"My word!" muttered Bert Douglas.

"Oh!" squealed Tessie, absolutely forgetting Granny's hint that queens
must keep their emotions to themselves. "Where did Ka-kee-ta get it?"
Her face was as pink now as it had been white a moment before.

"I took it off your neck, my dear, when you were dancing," explained
Granny proudly. "The folks here were all strangers to me," she told the
astonished officers of the Junior League, "and though I knew of course
they would be all right or they wouldn't be here, I thought it was just
as well not to take any chances. So when Tessie was dancing I slipped
the Tear of God from her neck and gave it to Ka-kee-ta to hold. With his
ax in his other hand, I knew he could take care of it. It wasn't lost at
all, you see, dearie," she smiled at Tessie. "I took it after you came
back to the ballroom with Mr. Douglas."

"Oh!" exclaimed Tessie, feeling rather flat and small because she had
made such a fuss over a robbery that was not a robbery at all.



XII


Mr. Kingley decided to give a banquet to the employees of the Evergreen
in honor of their former associate, who had been made Queen of the
Sunshine Islands by Fate--and her Uncle Pete. Mrs. Kingley looked
unutterable words when she heard his plan.

"Bill can run down and ask Miss Gilfooly if it will be all right for
Thursday evening," went on Mr. Kingley, much pleased with his idea.

"Bill!" Mrs. Kingley's voice was full of disgust and indignation, about
fifty per cent, of each, perhaps. "Do you want Bill to marry Miss
Gilfooly?" she asked caustically.

"Marry!" It was Mr. Kingley's turn to stare, and he did it with bulging,
questioning eyes. "I don't know as that would be such a bad thing," he
muttered after a moment's intensive thought. "I believe it would be a
mighty good plan!" he decided emphatically, when he had given it a
second moment's thought.

"William Kingley! Your only son--our only son!" Mrs. Kingley angrily
claimed a share of Mr. Bill. "And a clerk!" It was quite clear that Mrs.
Kingley believed that her only son and the clerks dwelt on vastly
different planes, and equally clear that she did not want them on the
same plane.

"The Queen of the Sunshine Islands," corrected Mr. Kingley. "A queen is
not the same as a clerk, my dear. I believe that such a marriage would
be a good thing for the Evergreen. You have no idea," he went on
hurriedly as she gave a little snap of scorn, "how the story of Queen
Teresa has helped sales. We were feeling the pinch of the business
depression, which has been so general, when we found this little queen
in our basement. I made the most of the incident, and the papers carried
the story all over the country. We have had requests for samples from
Chicago and New York and even Denver, Colorado, already. If Bill should
marry Miss Gilfooly," he went on thoughtfully, "I actually believe we
would have to increase our mail order department. I am sure that it
would be an excellent thing for the store."

Mrs. Kingley was so angry at the thought of her only son marrying Miss
Gilfooly that she could scarcely speak. Her anger painted her face an
unbecoming scarlet, and her eyes flashed furiously. "You think of
nothing but the store!" she managed to stammer at last. The words were
not at all what she had meant to say. She had meant to wither him with
her scorn--and she could only stammer.

Mr. Kingley regarded her with surprise. Of course he thought of the
store. "It feeds, clothes and shelters you," he reminded her. "And
mighty good food, clothes and shelter," he decided as he looked around
the spacious room, so attractively furnished, and at her smart dinner
gown, and remembered the excellent dinner he had just eaten. "Mighty
good food, clothes and shelter!" he repeated firmly.

"William Kingley!" She towered above him. "You--you--" She stopped and
glared at him for a full second. "There is such a thing as a telephone,"
she finally controlled herself to say majestically. "You could talk to
your ex-clerk yourself, instead of sending your only son into danger!"
And she sailed from the room to find Ethel and ask her if she ever knew
any one as unreasonable and one-idead as her father.

"What's Dad done now?" asked Ethel, who knew of several things her
father might have done. "Oh that!" she exclaimed carelessly, when she
was told that her father thought it would be a good thing for the
Evergreen should her brother and Queen Teresa marry. "I expect he is
right. It would be a good thing for the store."

"Ethel! Ethel Kingley!" sputtered Mrs. Kingley. Her voice had
seventy-five per cent of disgust in it now. "How can you! Bill and a
clerk! an ex-clerk!"

"She seems a nice little thing," went on Ethel, as if she were looking
at Tessie and actually saw that she was a nice little thing. "I dare
say she would make Bill a good wife, and really, Mother, Bill should be
allowed to choose his own wife. I know I mean to choose my own husband!"

"Oh, you!" But Mrs. Kingley was not interested in Ethel's husband. She
was still too disturbed over Mr. Bill's wife.

"I dare say Miss Gilfooly will be quite crazy over Dad's banquet," went
on Ethel, before she returned to her book, a story of married life which
her mother declared no girl should read, but which every girl was
reading.

Miss Gilfooly was pleased when she was told of the banquet. She thought
it was quite too sweet of Mr. Kingley. She was a bit awed when she was
told also that she would have to sit at Mr. Kingley's right hand during
the banquet.

"I wish I could sit beside you," she was bold enough to say to Mr. Bill.
"I'm scared to death of your father."

"Pooh!" exclaimed Mr. Bill, who could not imagine why any one should be
scared of his father. Why, his father was just an old man chockfull of
old-fashioned ideas and prejudices. "Dad's probably scared of you. He
hasn't met many queens in the course of his straight and upright fifty
years. And even if he had, he has never met a queen like you!" he
declared with unrestrained admiration.

But still Tessie looked dissatisfied. "In what way," she asked quickly,
"am I different from other queens?"

Mr. Bill looked at her. Didn't she know? "Glance at them!" he said
scornfully. "Just glance at the old frumps and then look in your own
mirror. You won't need any one to tell you the answer. The difference,
as you will quickly see, is entirely in your favor!"

"Oh!" murmured Tessie, all dimples and blushes, so that she looked less
than ever like Mary of England or Marie of Roumania, or even Victoria of
Spain.

In spite of Mr. Bill's declaration that old Mr. Kingley, which was the
way Tessie always spoke of her former employer, was afraid of her,
Tessie did feel a little timid, and a thrill ran down her spine when Mr.
Kingley took her hand to lead her into the big tea-room which had been
rearranged and elaborately decorated in honor of the banquet for Queen
Teresa. An army of men and women had been at work in the room ever since
the last luncheon patron had been hurriedly served.

Tessie had a new frock which she had bought at the Evergreen. It was of
cream lace and net with silvery blue ribbons and pink roses. The man who
designed it must have thought of a young queen or a young princess when
he conceived it. It really was an adorable frock, and Tessie looked
adorable in it as she smiled shyly at Mr. Kingley. Her blue eyes
sparkled, her cheeks were pink, and her red lips were parted in a
tremulous smile. But adorable as she looked, Mr. Kingley shook his head.
She did not satisfy him.

"Where's your crown?" he demanded abruptly. "I thought queens wore
crowns."

"Not until after their coronation," suggested Mr. Bill, who could find
no flaws in Tessie at all. From her head to her heels, she was perfect
to his admiring eyes. It was just as well that his mother could not see
him as he stood gazing at his father's ex-clerk. Mr. Bill looked very
handsome himself in his dinner coat. Tessie was sure he was the
handsomest man in the world.

"I don't think they wear crowns at all in the Sunshine Islands," she
ventured to say shyly. "I think they wear only this." And she touched
the jewel which hung from her neck, the royal jewel of the Sunshine
Islands.

Mr. Kingley grunted. The royal jewel was not enough, not when there were
to be reporters from all the newspapers at the banquet, and a moving
picture man as well. His queen must look like a queen. He turned to the
store superintendent.

"Julius, isn't there a crown of some kind down in the jewelry
department? I'm sure I saw one the other day. It was high in front and
dwindled down to nothing in the back." He showed them with his pudgy
hands how the crown he had seen ran from high to low.

"You mean a tiara," suggested Julius with a little superiority in his
voice, because he knew a tiara when he saw it and his employer didn't.
"Yes, Miss Luckins has a couple of tiaras in stock. They are only
imitation--paste--you know." He was apologetic because he did not have a
crown of real diamonds to offer Mr. Kingley. "We really have no sale for
real crowns in Waloo. But this tiara is a very good imitation. Not one
in twenty would know it wasn't real," he boasted.

"It will be better than nothing. Go and get it. We can't go in without a
crown." And he delayed the banquet until Mr. Julius could find Miss
Luckins, go down to the jewelry department and bring back the most
elaborate paste tiara which Miss Luckins herself fastened in Tessie's
hair.

"There!" Miss Luckins stepped back to get the effect.

"That's better! A lot better!" grunted Mr. Kingley. "Far more royal, you
know. Any one can see now that you are a queen. Tell the orchestra we're
coming. Everybody ready?" He looked back at Granny and Mr. Bill, who
were to follow him when he led the queen. "Don't let that native with
the ax stumble against me," he hissed with a shake of his head at
Ka-kee-ta, who stood behind his queen. "Allow me, Your Majesty!" And he
smiled proudly as he offered his hand to Tessie.

The doors into the banquet-room were thrown wide open, the store
orchestra began to play "Hail, the Conquering Hero Comes." Every one
jumped up to look at Queen Teresa as she walked in led by Mr. Kingley.
Hands were clapped, and there were many cheers. Several of the
department buyers called loudly "_Vive la reine!_" to show that they had
been in Paris and knew what was what. The color deepened in Tessie's
cheeks, and the tears flew to her eyes. She did hope that she wouldn't
cry, but she was woefully afraid she would. It was so sweet of every one
to be so kind to her. Never, not if she were crowned a hundred times,
would she know as proud a moment as this.

She stood blushing beside Mr. Kingley at the big table on the dais,
which ran across the end of the room, and faced them all, trembling with
excitement. There they were, her former associates of the Evergreen. The
employment manager, who had hired her; Miss Murphy, who had snapped at
her when she asked for help in making out a sales-slip; Mr. Walker, who
was always nagging at her for something. And there was Joe Cary beside
Norah Lee at the table with the advertising staff and--How funny!--He
was frowning at her. Every one else was smiling and Joe's frown stood
out like a black thundercloud in a clear blue sky. She smiled and waved
her hand to him, and he nodded coldly, but he did not wave back. She
shrugged her shoulders impatiently. Why did Joe have to have a grouch
to-night of all nights? She wouldn't look at him again. He could frown
as much as he pleased, but she would only look at the smiling faces.
There were plenty of them.

"Well?" She became conscious that Mr. Bill was murmuring in her left
ear, and she turned to him. Mr. Bill was not frowning. His face wore a
radiant smile. "Well," he repeated, as Ka-kee-ta took his place behind
his queen much to the annoyance of the waitresses. "We're all set."

"Oh!" Tessie's heart was thumping so fast it was difficult for her to
speak. "How grand to have you beside me!"

If Tessie looked down on her former associates with frank delight, they
looked up at her with open or secret envy. Miss Allen of the gowns told
her neighbors in a whisper how much the cream lace frock had cost, and
Mr. Swenson of the boots and shoes murmured the price of the silver
slippers, and Miss Bartle of the hosiery laughed indulgently when she
said that the silk stockings the queen wore had cost not less than nine
dollars a pair.

"Not a cent less, and cheap at that. Every thread silk!"

No wonder they were pleased with Tessie. She was their queen. They had
clothed her. And if there was more envy in their hearts than there was
admiration in their eyes, it was not strange. It was only natural for
them to wish to be in Tessie's silver slippers with a frizzle-headed
native in blue denim to hold a shining ax behind them. It was romance,
their share--not Tessie's--that they wanted, and every one has a right
to a full portion of romance. A birthright into this big world includes
a full portion of romance.

The chef had spent a sleepless night preparing a royal menu. He had
ransacked the store encyclopedia for names which would honor Tessie's
kingdom, and then had to fall back on the good old French menu. There
was _pôtage à la Sunshine_, there was _poisson à la Pacific_, there was
_poulet à la reine_, and goodness knows what else. It was all very
delicious, although Tessie was so excited to find herself between old
Mr. Kingley and young Mr. Kingley, and facing all the Evergreen
employees and a moving picture machine, that she could scarcely eat a
mouthful. Granny peered at her around Mr. Bill and told her she must eat
something, that it would be a shame to waste good food.

"And this is good!" she said, pleased that Mr. Kingley had not skimped
the menu for the banquet in honor of her granddaughter.

At last the ice cream and cake had been eaten, the tables cleared, and
every glass filled with sparkling ginger ale. The waitresses and the
cooks gathered in a corner with glasses of ginger ale in their hands.
Mr. Kingley rose to his feet and made a speech, in which he extolled
Tessie and the Evergreen and the Sunshine Islands, and the Evergreen--;
and when he was all tangled up in the Evergreen, and Mr. Bill reached
behind Tessie and pulled his dinner coat, he asked every one to drink
the toast to their former associate: "Our little queen, Her Majesty of
the Sunshine Islands!"

The band broke into the stirring strains of "For He's a Jolly Good
Fellow." There were cheers and much hand-clapping as the toast was drunk
with hearty good will.

"You'll have to respond," Mr. Kingley, flushed and important, told
Tessie. "You'll have to say something!"

"A speech! I couldn't!" Tessie shrank back appalled at the mere thought
of making a speech before Mr. Kingley and the department managers. She
could not do it.

But the clamor on the floor would not subside, and at last she rose up
and stood looking at them. How kind they were! How dear! Involuntarily
she stretched out her arms as if she would embrace them all.

"You dear, dear folks!" she cried, and her voice quivered with emotion.
"I love you every one!"

There was more applause, a perfect fury, and then suddenly the lights
went out, and the room was plunged in darkness.

"What--what the devil's this?" spluttered Mr. Kingley. "Where's the
electrician? I wouldn't have had this happen for a million dollars!
What's the matter?" For there was the sound of a scuffle, a muttered
curse behind him. He could not see a thing, but he could feel something
brush by him. "Bring a light!" he shouted, pale with fright as he
thought of what might happen if Ka-kee-ta should use his ax in the
darkness. "Can't some one bring a light?"

It was really only a couple of moments, although it seemed hours, before
some one found the buttons and turned on the light. When every one
blinked and turned to smile reassuringly at Tessie to let her know that
it was all right--just a little vagary of the electricity--there were
startled shrieks from several hundred throats, for Tessie had
disappeared. The place between old Mr. Kingley and young Mr. Kingley was
vacant.

"Why--why--" stammered old Mr. Kingley, who had arranged many banquets,
but had never lost his guest of honor before.

"Where's Tessie?" shouted Granny. "Where's my granddaughter, the Queen?"

"Where's Tessie?" demanded Joe Cary, who found himself at the royal
table, staring into the purple face of old Mr. Kingley.

"I'm here, Granny!" And there she was, behind her big bodyguard
clutching the Tear of God which hung about her neck. "Ka-kee-ta snatched
me and made me stand behind him. What was the matter, Mr. Kingley? Did
some one really try to choke me?" She rubbed her neck with her fingers
as if to feel if some one had tried to choke her.

"Matter!" exclaimed Mr. Bill. He caught her hand and held it tight to
assure himself that she was there beside him again. "Look at that!" He
pointed to Ka-kee-ta's left hand, from which hung a black string tie. It
dangled limply from the yellow-brown fingers. Mr. Bill looked
suspiciously around the room. "Has any man lost a tie?" he asked
sharply.

There was an uncomfortable pause in which every man raised a hand to
make sure that his tie at least was around his neck. One of the maids by
the door stepped forward.

"I think the man who lost his tie has gone," she said in much confusion.
"At least some one pushed by me and ran out of the door."

"Why didn't you hold him?" demanded Mr. Bill.

"I thought he was the electrician," stammered the maid. "I thought he
was going to see about the lights, and anyway I couldn't have held him.
It isn't fair to blame me!" She burst into tears.

"Dear, dear!" fussed Mr. Kingley, too confused by the unexpected number
on the banquet program to be considerate of weeping maids. "I hope the
watchman holds him. I'm sorry," he turned to Tessie. "I wouldn't have
had this happen for a million dollars! I should have said you would be
perfectly safe here among so many friends, but a man can learn that he
doesn't know everything about his own store. I suppose it was that
crown--tiara, I mean. Some one thought it was real, and tried to steal
it. It looks real!"

"It wasn't the tiara that they tried to steal," guessed Mr. Bill grimly.
"It was the Queen!"

"It was the Tear of God!" contradicted Joe Cary, who had moved up until
he stood beside Tessie. "Those Sunshine Island rebels don't want Tessie.
They want the royal jewel!"

"Bless me!" murmured Mr. Kingley, turning the back of his dinner coat to
Joe; for what could Joe Cary, an artist in the advertising department,
know? "I'm glad you weren't stolen!" he told Tessie fervently.

"I'm glad, too," ventured Tessie, tearfully tremulous, and she clung
tight to Joe's hand. "It might have spoiled the party," she added
politely.

"But if the watchman gets the thief what publicity it will make!"
gloated Mr. Kingley, true to form. The Evergreen was getting wonderful
publicity every day, thanks to Tessie, and the store was thronged as it
never had been before a queen was found in its basement. "So long as
you are safe, we have nothing to regret. We can leave the rest to the
watchman and the store detectives. They will find the thief. I am sure
he was not one of our own men. He must have been some miscreant who
forced himself in. We will not think of him again. Have you finished
your speech?" he asked courteously.

"Long ago!" exclaimed Tessie, taking her fingers from Joe and giving
them to Granny to hold.

"Well!" Granny drew a long, long breath. "I'm glad now we have Ka-kee-ta
and his ax, even if they do make me nervous. If you had been kidnaped,
Tessie Gilfooly, I should never have forgiven myself!"

"I'd have found her!" declared Joe. "No matter where she was hidden, I'd
have found her for you, Granny Gilfooly!"

Tessie, listening eagerly to Mr. Bill's plans for catching the miscreant
who had dared to interrupt the banquet, never heard him. But Granny
heard him, and she smiled at him kindly.

"I believe you would, Joe, I believe you would. You're a good friend to
little Tessie."

"You bet I am!" Joe cried eagerly. "And I'm going to look after her! I'm
not going to have her fooled by any one!" And he looked indignantly at
Mr. Kingley.



XIII


Although Mr. Kingley posted a notice where every one could see it, to
the effect that the man who had lost a black string tie at the banquet
could obtain the same by calling at the office and explaining how it
came to be in Ka-kee-ta's fist, no one appeared to claim the silk.
Indeed, it was not long before Mr. Kingley and a majority of the guests
thought that Tessie must have imagined that some one had tried to choke
her, in an attempt to steal the Tear of God.

"She was excited!" they said indulgently. "And no wonder! But it is
ridiculous to think that any one would try to steal the royal jewel,
when the queen was surrounded by friends and with her bodyguard and his
ax behind her."

"You can't tell friend from foe in the dark, and when you are with
friends you are not looking for enemies," Joe Cary told them bluntly. He
was perhaps the only one who believed that Tessie was telling the truth,
when she said that when the lights went out a strong arm had caught her
and pulled her from the table, and then Ka-kee-ta had snatched her and
thrust her behind him.

"He can see in the dark!" she insisted with a shiver. "Just like a
cat!"

"You dreamed it," young Mr. Bill said with a grin. "When the lights went
out you were scared, and screamed, and Ka-kee-ta pulled you behind him.
That's the way it was!"

"Was it?" But Tessie was not sure. The clasp of that strong arm had been
too real for any dream. She could still feel the pull of the fiber that
had held the Tear of God about her neck.

"No, it wasn't!" contradicted Joe. "You are dead right, Tessie. Some one
did try to take your jewel from you."

"How do you know? You were at the other end of the room!" Mr. Bill
regarded him with scorn, because Joe thought he knew so much when Mr.
Bill, who had been sitting right next to Tessie, knew so little.

"I know all right!" There was a confidence in Joe's voice which was
convincing. "I knew as soon as the fellow touched you, Tess, and I was
coming to you even before you screamed. Ask Norah Lee! I bumped against
her when I jumped up. You know when the lights went on I was at your
place!"

"That's true!" agreed Granny. "He was just beside me!"

Tessie looked frightened. Her lip quivered. "But why should any one want
to kidnap me?" she faltered. "I haven't done anything!" She looked at
Mr. Bill, but when he did not tell her, she turned to Joe.

"Yes, you have done something," Joe told her bluntly. "You've become
Queen of the Sunshine Islands." Trust Joe to find a reason. Joe always
had a reason. That was why Tessie had quarreled with him so often. She
usually hated his reason. "You told me yourself that Mr. Marvin said
there was a bunch of people, Sons of Sunshine they call themselves, who
want a native ruler. They don't want a white queen. I bet this kidnaper
was a Sunshine Son who wanted that royal jewel, and if he could get you
with it, he would shut you up until you consented to abdicate in favor
of a native!" There was a grim, triumphant smile on Joe's lips as he
elaborated his reason.

"Such rot!" Mr. Bill was thoroughly disgusted with Joe's reason. It was
too melodramatic to happen anywhere but on the moving picture screen.

"Oh, Joe!" Tessie whimpered and caught his arm. "Would any one do that?"

"A Son of Sunshine would!" declared Joe. "I say, Tessie, why do you want
to be the queen of those cannibal islands?" He sneered at the islands.

"Why--why I have to be," stammered Tessie, confused by the direct
question. "Uncle Pete left me the islands and made me the queen. I
can't help it, can I?" She appealed to Mr. Bill.

"Of course you can't!" He glared at Joe. How dared Joe insinuate that
Tessie could help it. "You can't throw away a kingdom. No one would!"

"Pooh!" sniffed Joe. "Half a dozen islands overrun with naked
cannibals!" It sounded as if Joe had a very small opinion of Tessie's
kingdom. "The first thing you know, they'll eat you," he prophesied
gloomily before he laughed. It was so ridiculous to think of any one,
even a hungry cannibal, eating little Tessie.

Tessie screamed. Mr. Bill promptly put his arm around her. He turned
fiercely to Joe.

"Look here, Cary!" he began furiously. "Mind your words when you talk to
the queen!"

"Queen!" Joe Cary actually laughed. "Queen!" he repeated.

Tessie pulled herself from Mr. Bill's protecting arm. How splendid Mr.
Bill was and how--"Joe Cary!" she gasped, pink with indignation.

"Cary!" exclaimed Mr. Bill, even more indignant than Tessie.

Joe's face sobered as he looked from Tessie to Mr. Bill.

"Pooh!" he said again. "What do kings and queens amount to now? They're
being knocked off their thrones pretty fast. Look at Russia and Germany!
And at the best, they were never anything but a fairy tale. Keep your
eyes on the other countries, on England and Italy and Spain, and some
day you'll see things happen there. People are learning that they can
pay too much for a figurehead and a pageant. An honest workingman is
worth all the kings in the world. You know that, Tess! At least you used
to know it. I told you. And just because your Uncle Pete was washed up
on the Sunshine Islands, and was able to stop the Sunshine king's
toothache the king adopted him and left him the islands. As if any one
had the right to will human beings to any man! The natives were fools to
accept him. You know they were! And as for your Uncle Pete, you'll be
wise if you don't inquire about his life on the islands. Filthy brute!"
Joe quite forgot himself as he talked about kings and queens.

"Why, Joe Cary!" Tessie could scarcely speak. But she could look, and
her eyes flashed fire at the man who dared to stand before her and call
her royal uncle names. What would Granny say? She was glad that Granny
hadn't heard him.

"Look here, Cary, you can't slander the dead!" exclaimed Mr. Bill
indignantly. "And keep your mouth shut about things you don't know," he
advised curtly.

"Know!" Joe repeated the word scornfully. "I bet I know more about the
Sunshine Islands than the Queen there!" He nodded at big-eyed Tessie.
"I've made it my business to know. Every one else has been so wrapped
up in the fact that Tess was a Queen that they haven't cared if her
kingdom was only half a dozen little islands inhabited by cannibals."

"They're not cannibals now!" declared Tessie.

"They were! Your Uncle Pete was almost eaten by them!"

"They've been civilized and Christianized!" insisted Tessie. "Uncle Bill
built a church. It has a corrugated tin roof, and when the sun shines on
it the natives think it's silver. The Home of the Silver God, they call
it. Ka-kee-ta told me!" She flashed an indignant glance at the scoffer.

"That shows how civilized and Christianized they are," laughed Joe. He
was determined to express his thoughts for at least once. "Your Uncle
Pete built a motion picture theater, too, Tess, and it saved him from a
revolution. But once a cannibal always a cannibal. It's in their blood,
and it will take more than one generation to get it out. I wish you'd
give up the job. You don't want those islands. You can't live on them!
Give them up!"

"Give them up!" Tessie could not believe her own pink ears.

"Give them up!" Mr. Bill echoed the words incredulously.

"You bet! You won't dare live there. The Sons of Sunshine won't let you,
and they're right. You don't belong there. Show your sense of truth and
right and give them up. Let the natives elect their own ruler. It's the
only fair way," begged Joe.

"I suppose you'd like me to go back to selling aluminum in the
Evergreen!" Tessie proved that she could be as scornful as she could be
sweet and shy. But her scorn did not make any impression on Joe.

"I would!" he declared. "I'd love to see you back there in your little
black dress earning your own way. And I'd love to have you to walk home
with again. And I'd love to go in to a dinner of Granny's boiled beef
and raisin pie again. I'd like to go back to where we were when you
heard you were a queen! Can't you see, Tess," he pleaded, "that there
isn't anything in this queen business any more? Come on and give it up!"

"You're a socialist!" stammered Mr. Bill, so amazed at such plain
speaking that he could do nothing but stammer. "You're a rank
anarchist!"

Joe tore his eyes from indignant Tessie to stammering Mr. Bill. "If you
think that a hatred of queens--white girl queens--for cannibal islands
is socialism then I am a socialist," he said boldly. "What do you know
about Tessie?" he demanded abruptly. "You never saw her until this
musical-comedy-queen business began."

This was so true that Mr. Bill and Tessie both blushed.

"Well, I see her now," Mr. Bill managed to say. "And I'll help her be a
Queen. The idea of asking any one to give up a kingdom! I never heard of
such an absurd thing in my life!" It was so absurd that he laughed.

"If she doesn't give it up I'll bet it will be taken from her,"
prophesied Joe. "The Sons of Sunshine are after her. And they are after
the Tear of God, too. You saw that gink on the porch the night Tess
heard she was a queen. I'll bet he was a Son of Sunshine! And if you
ever find anything about that man last night you'll find he was a
Sunshine Son too, or I'm a goat! The third time he may get to you, and
then you'll remember what I said," he told Tessie gloomily.

But Tessie had pulled herself together, and now she laughed at his
gloomy prophecies. She did not believe them. How could she when Mr.
Bill, who knew so much more of the world than Joe Cary, told her that
what Joe said was ridiculous. Just what you might expect from a rank
anarchist. But she stopped laughing when Joe looked straight into her
blue eyes and said very soberly, far more soberly than he had spoken
before: "But even if you are a fool, Tess, I'll stand by you. I'll help
you! You can always count on me!"

"Well, upon my word!" gasped Tessie, her eyes following him as he walked
away. "The idea of Joe Cary talking to me like that!"

"Yes, the very idea," agreed Mr. Bill. "But don't think of it another
minute! The fellow's cracked. I'll bet Dad doesn't know what a socialist
he is!"

"You wouldn't tell," begged Tessie in a panic, for if Joe lost his
position in the Evergreen what would he do? He hadn't inherited an
island kingdom and even if he had-- She shook her head. She couldn't
understand Joe.

"No, of course I shan't tell!" Mr. Bill spoke loftily, as if Tessie
should have known that he did not tell tales. "Give those fellows rope
enough and they hang themselves. He's so green with envy that he isn't a
king that he can't do anything but rant."

"I don't think it was that!" frowned honest little Tessie. "I don't
think Joe would ever want to be king of any island!"

"Try him!" advised Mr. Bill scornfully. "Just try him. I never knew a
socialist to keep on spouting socialistic rot after he had money to buy
him decent food and clothes and a bath. But don't let's talk about him!
I'm glad you're a queen. It's the most romantic thing I ever heard, and
I'm strong for romance. I used to think there wasn't any left in the
world." He smiled at Tessie, who looked the very flower of romance. "I'm
darned glad you're a queen!" he said fervently.

"I'm glad, too," murmured Tessie, quite ready to forget Joe Cary. "I
don't care what Joe Cary said! And I am going to try and be a good
queen and do my duty by my people! Be simple and honest, is what Madame
Cabot said."

"Of course you are! But what is there in this Sons of Sunshine
business?" curiously. "Anything?"

"I'm afraid there is!" A little frown broke the pretty curve of Tessie's
eyebrows. "It's true. Joe is right that some of the people want a native
ruler. They rebelled against Uncle Pete, but he kept them down. Now that
he is gone they don't want a white queen. They aren't the best people,
Ka-kee-ta said," she explained apologetically. "They're the--the lower
classes. And they haven't seen me! They don't know how I plan to help
them!"

"They'll adore you the minute they do see you!" declared Mr. Bill
unsteadily.

"Oh, I hope they will!" faltered blushing Tessie.

"Of course they will! Didn't I?" Mr. Bill caught her hand and squeezed
it hard.



XIV


Joe Cary's rude and reckless words had an effect, although perhaps not
the one he had hoped. But they did make Tessie think of something
besides Mr. Bill, her new frocks and her new pleasures. The interruption
of the Evergreen banquet did not bother her long, for that was a problem
for the store detective to solve. But Joe Cary made her realize that the
Sunshine Islands were more than a throne and a bank for their queen. It
was odd that, when Tessie returned to the Waloo, she should find Granny
reading one of the big books in which there was an entire chapter
devoted to "The Pearl of the Pacific--The Sunshine Islands." Granny
looked up from a picture of sea and palms when Tessie came in.

"Tessie," she began at once, "are you sure you're going to like being a
queen for a lot of naked cannibals?"

"Why, Granny!" Tessie stood still and stared at her. What did Granny
mean? Of course Joe Cary had been talking to her, and for a moment
Tessie hated him. She didn't care if he had been her only friend when
she was a salesgirl at the Evergreen. She quite forgot that he had taken
her to a moving-picture show once in two weeks. "What's the matter
now?" she asked impatiently. "Have people been complaining about
Ka-kee-ta again?" For there were people who had complained of Ka-kee-ta,
and it must be confessed that it was disconcerting to a timid woman, or
even a brave man, to walk down a dimly lighted corridor and find oneself
face to face with a bare-footed colored man, in loosely fitting blue
clothes; a man with a tattooed nose and frizzled hair stiffened with
cocoanut oil, and carrying a shining ax. Tessie herself would have
shrieked if she had come upon such a man in a dimly lighted corridor. As
it was, she often felt like screaming when she saw him, and just now,
after her talk with Joe, she was impatient. "What is it now, Granny?"
she wanted to know. A lot of her nervous impatience was in her voice as
she stood in front of Granny, and there was more nervous impatience in
her frowning little face.

Granny looked up and sighed as she saw the slim little creature in a
very modish frock and a very modish hat. Tessie was very, very different
from the shabby little girl in the cheap black cotton dress, but that
was no reason why Granny should sigh mournfully as she looked at her.
Surely Granny did not want Tessie to be the shabby little girl of those
old days!

"I was just wondering," Granny said meekly, "as I read this book if you
had learned to eat raw fish yet?"

An angry flush stained Tessie's face, and she stamped her high-heeled
shoe.

"No, I don't like raw fish!" she cried stormily. "And I don't ever
expect to like raw fish! Why should I? Can't I have somebody cook fish
for me?" she demanded haughtily.

"In the Sunshine Islands it's the custom to eat it raw," Granny said
very gently, for she could recognize the beginning of a tantrum as well
as any one. "And there isn't anything that's harder to change than a
custom. When I read about the food and some other things in this book,
and looked at a few of these pictures, I got to wondering how we are
going to like those islands and the customs the people have there. You
know, Tessie," she went on, when Tessie said never a word, but just
stood sulkily tapping the rug with the pointed toe of her shoe, "when
you came home from the Evergreen that day and told me about your Uncle
Pete and how he had died and made you a queen, I couldn't think of
anything but how wonderful it was. My boy a king! And my girl a queen!
And I pictured those Sunshine Islands like England and Italy, and
perhaps a little like the United States, even if the United States ain't
got crowned kings and queens. It was so wonderful that I was all puffed
up like bread sponge. But since we came to the Waloo, and I got so much
time, no washing or cooking to do, I've looked into some of these books
and talked to Ka-kee-ta as much as a body can talk to a critter that
don't know more than the rudiments of real language, and I can't find
that these islands are like any place I ever heard of. I don't know as
we're going to like them. The folks don't all wear clothes," she
confided to Tessie in a dubious whisper.

"I can teach them to wear clothes," Tessie said coldly. "I've talked to
Mr. Kingley, and he's going to send me some clothes from the Evergreen.
We're going to begin with bathing suits."

"Mr. Kingley's a real business man, ain't he? Always thinking of the
Evergreen!" Granny had to admire Mr. Kingley's ability to think of his
business at all times. She went on a bit sarcastically. "And is young
Mr. Bill going to take charge and open a branch in the islands? It won't
pay in your lifetime, Tessie. You mustn't count on it! It'll take more
than Mr. Kingley's say-so to put even bathing suits on folks that don't
wear anything but a bit of fringe around their waists. And it ain't only
clothes," she added mournfully. "It's white ants and centipedes and
snakes and sharks and----"

"For goodness sakes, Granny!" Tessie jumped when Granny spoke of sharks,
and she was almost at the end of her patience when there was a loud
thump on the door. "I do wish," exclaimed Tessie, glad of a legitimate
reason to let Granny see that she had reached the end of her patience,
"that Ka-kee-ta would learn to knock. I hate to hear him hit the door
with his old ax!"

"That's just what I've been telling you," began Granny. "You ain't going
to like the Sunshine Islands' way of doing things."

But Tessie did not listen to her. She walked to the door and threw it
wide open. "Ka-kee-ta," she began sternly, but instead of facing
Ka-kee-ta she looked at a fat man with a light, oh very light, hair, and
a big nose. "Oh," Tessie murmured feebly. "Oh!"

"Queen Teresa?" asked the stranger eagerly, although he knew very well
that she was Queen Teresa. "Of the Sunshine Islands?" He came into the
room and shut the door carefully behind him.

A great hope dashed into Tessie's mind. He was the special
representative from the Sunshine Islands, the man who was to escort her
to her kingdom in obedience to the orders in her Uncle Pete's last will
and testament. Of course he was the special representative. In spite of
the fact that he made Tessie think that he must be made of tubs, large
and small, neatly piled upon one another. He had an air of great
assurance and greater authority. He could tell her all about the islands
and that it would not be necessary for her to eat native food nor to
have Ka-kee-ta bang on the door with his ax. He would tell her
everything. He looked as full of information as a complete set of
encyclopedia. And when he spoke, she was sure he was the special
representative, for he said smilingly, ingratiatingly, "I have come to
talk to you about the Sunshine Islands."

"Is that so!" exclaimed the Queen of the Sunshine Islands. She looked
triumphantly at Granny. "Won't you sit down?" She hesitated in choosing
a chair for herself and at last took one which stood near Granny. After
she was seated in it she moved it even closer to Granny as if she wanted
her comfort or protection.

"You must think it is very romantic to be a queen," went on the tublike
man, still smiling pleasantly. "And it is romantic! I suppose you
picture your kingdom as another England or Spain or----"

"I don't," interrupted Granny. "Not any more. I might as well confess
that at first I did that very thing, but I've just read a few things in
these books about the Sunshine Islands, and I know now that they ain't a
bit like England or even Spain. I was just telling Tessie--the
queen--that when Ka-kee-ta knocked on the door with his ax."

"You are quite right!" He smiled at Granny and nodded his white thatched
head. "But I can tell you much more than you will find in any book. To
begin with, the pleasant parts of the islands are beautiful, very
beautiful. They are not large; you could crowd the half a dozen into the
state of Minnesota and have room to spare. But the climate! Ah, the
climate! It is perfect! The islands are south of Hawaii, you know, but
nearer the United States--nearer Mexico would be more correct--but it is
the same thing. They are coral islands with cocoanut palms and banana
and breadfruit trees. The villages are made up of palm leaf huts with a
larger hut on the largest island for the ruler."

"Isn't there any electric light or any gas or any city water?" asked
Granny, who could not believe that there was any place without those
three necessities.

"There is not. But there is a sky bluer than any sky you ever saw, and
the water in the lagoon is as clear as crystal and of a wonderful
blue-green color. The coral sand is so white that it makes your eyes
ache. The Sunshine Islands are rarely beautiful, but they are not
convenient. It would be safe to say that they have not a single
convenience," he insisted as Granny gasped and exclaimed:

"Not even in the king's palace?"

"Palace!" He laughed scornfully almost, as Joe Cary had laughed at kings
and palaces. "Palm-leaf huts," he explained. "And the people--you know
they are cannibals?" He looked at Tessie, as if he were vastly amused to
know that her people were cannibals.

"Not cannibals now," faltered Tessie, almost in tears to hear how unlike
her dreams her kingdom was. "Uncle Pete civilized them and showed them
how wrong it was to eat each other."

"Not all," corrected the tubular blond. "The last election showed that
one out of every two inhabitants was a conservative--a cannibal."

"Elections!" Tessie did not know that elections were held in the
Sunshine Islands, and she wondered vaguely if she were a democrat or a
republican. She knew she was not a conservative! if conservatives were
cannibals.

"The islands are really no place for a white woman, for a young and
beautiful white woman," the man said bluntly. He gazed at Tessie with
such open admiration that she moved impatiently and wished that he would
stop looking at her and look at Granny. "You can't live there, Miss
Gilfooly--is that the name? I know. It's out of the question. I've spent
months on Ta-ri-ha, that's the largest island, and I know what I'm
talking about when I say it is no place for a white woman. A white man
might keep the natives in hand if he were----"

"Big and strong and brutal," suggested Granny thoughtfully.

He turned to her. "I see you knew King Pete, madam?"

"I was his mother." Granny sighed as if she could remember times when
she had found her son big and strong and brutal. "But if you don't think
my granddaughter should live on her islands what do you think she
should do with them?" Granny believed in the straight line. She had
absolutely no use for that beautiful curved line we are taught to
admire. Straight lines are so much more direct. She looked at the
stranger, but she could not find any straight lines about him; he was
all curves.

"Granny!" exclaimed Tessie indignantly. The idea of Granny speaking as
if there was even a possibility that she would not go to the Sunshine
Islands. In imagination Tessie saw herself on a great white ship which
was drawing near a shore that bore a marked resemblance to the pictures
she had seen of New York harbor. And she saw great throngs of natives
clothed in queer shapeless garments--but fully clothed--and she heard
their joyous shouts of welcome. She liked the picture her imagination
showed her far better than she liked the one drawn by this white-headed
stranger. In the back of her mind there was a faint memory of something
unpleasant in connection with a fat, white-headed man with a big nose
and freckles, but she could not think what it was while this man
regarded her with such bright blue eyes. She wished she could, it might
be easier to talk to him if she could remember.

"Who are you?" she asked suddenly, oddly uncomfortable under his steady,
unblinking stare.

"My name is Pracht," he said frankly. "Frederic Pracht. I have lived in
the Sunshine Islands for months. I knew King Pete very well."

"Pracht," meditated Granny. "That sounds like a German name."

He stopped smiling at Tessie to smile at Granny, and Tessie drew a deep
breath of relief, as if at last she had more space about her.

"It is not strange that my name sounds German, because it is German,"
Mr. Pracht explained to Granny. "My great-grandfather came from
Frankfort and settled in Pennsylvania. There are many German names in
Pennsylvania."

"H-m," muttered Granny, and she regarded him gravely, as if she were not
quite satisfied with the explanation, as if she suspected that it would
not wear well--that it would shrink or fade. "My son Pete," she said
slowly, "he inherited the islands, didn't he?"

"From the old king. He cured the old king's toothache."

"Didn't the old king have any children?" Even if she suspected that his
information might not wear well, Granny thought it was just as well to
obtain as much of it as she could.

"He had twenty-three."

"Twenty-three children!" Granny gasped. She had known large families in
her day, but twenty-three children----

"Seventeen girls and six boys," was the ready response. "And thirty-one
grandchildren. I don't exactly know how many great-grandchildren there
are."

"Never mind." The old king's children interested Granny far more than
his great grandchildren. "When there were twenty-three children, why did
the old king leave his kingdom to my son Pete?" That was the question
which did interest her, and while a toothache cure should be paid for, a
kingdom did seem rather a large price.

Mr. Pracht shrugged his shoulders. "That is what the twenty-three
children would like to know. They declare that King Pete hypnotized
their father, or, as they put it, placed him under a spell. My private
opinion is that the old king quarreled with his family until he hated
every one of his twenty-three children. And they hated him. They hated
each other, too, until their father died and they came together to fight
his successor. That's why the Sons of Sunshine organized. You've heard
of them?" He turned his bright blue eyes on Tessie again.

She nodded, but did not speak. Granny did not speak either for a moment;
then she said slowly, as if she were trying to visualize her words:

"That's quite a family. Twenty-three children!"

"The old man had three wives," Mr. Pracht said with a little laugh.

"Three! Do you mean that a man can have more than one wife in my
granddaughter's kingdom?" If Granny's gray hair had not been held by a
net, it would have risen with horror at such a thought.

"A man can have as many wives as he can buy," explained Mr. Pracht. "You
remember I told you the islands were not like Minnesota and Waloo." He
laughed and showed two rows of big white teeth.

"They don't seem to be," murmured Granny, while Tessie gasped. "I must
confess I am surprised. Ain't you surprised, Tessie, to hear all this? I
had my suspicions after I got over my first surprise and had time to
remember Pete, and to look into these books. But I thought you were
going to tell us what you thought Tessie should do with these islands
which her Uncle Pete left her when he died?" she said suddenly.

"There is but one thing to do," Mr. Pracht told her so suddenly and
emphatically that she knew that he had given the question some study. He
was not offering her any made-while-you-wait opinion. She should sell
her rights in them, and sell as soon as she can. "Real estate values
vary, you know, and just at present Miss Gilfooly could obtain a very
good price. If she waits I am afraid she will lose money. If she sells
her rights at once, I am quite sure that she will obtain enough to
enable her to live like a queen wherever she pleases." He smiled
pleasantly at Tessie, but Tessie frowned.

"I wouldn't be a queen if I sold my islands," she objected. Already her
head felt bare, as if a crown had been torn from it.

"Surely you would be a queen. A queen doesn't lose her title when she
loses her kingdom," declared Mr. Pracht, quick to see that honors meant
more to Tessie just then than lands. "Look at Kaiser Bill. And the
French empress who died the other day. So long as you live, you will be
Queen Teresa of the Sunshine Islands. But take my word for it that you
will find it much pleasanter to be Queen Teresa in London or Paris, or
even in Waloo, than you would in the Sunshine Islands. I can't think of
a thing you would like there--not one thing."

"Uncle Pete liked them!" flared Tessie, indignant at such contemptuous
scorn of her kingdom. "He liked them well enough to live there years and
years."

"He probably had his reasons." There was a significance in Mr. Pracht's
smooth voice that made Granny and Tessie look at each other. "And he was
a man," went on Mr. Pracht. "He never hesitated when it was necessary to
put down rebellion."

"I bet he didn't!" agreed Granny.

"And you know there is a strong desire for a native ruler? The Sons of
Sunshine are behind it. They will never permit you to land without a
fight. And you wouldn't be able to hold your throne," he grinned,
"without bloodshed, I know!" And he told Tessie more about her
kingdom--disagreeable things. By the time he finished Tessie was almost
in tears.

"I am prepared to offer you two hundred and fifty thousand dollars for
your rights in the Sunshine Islands," he said at last.

"Two hundred and fifty thousand dollars!" Tessie was on her feet and
staring at him indignantly.

"The lawyer said they were worth a million pounds!" Granny said sharply.
Granny had learned to bargain in the old days, and some lessons are
never forgotten.

"A million pounds!" Mr. Pracht repeated. "That sounds like King Pete. He
was not the man to put a low valuation on anything that belonged to him.
But a million pounds! That is ridiculous! Two hundred and fifty thousand
dollars is far more than they are worth, but I want Miss Gilfooly to be
comfortable and have some luxuries. I want her to have an income that
will let her live anywhere!" His face wore the kindliest, the most
benevolent of expressions as he turned it to Tessie.

Tessie did not like his benevolent expression any more than she had
liked his admiring smile. The something in the back of her head which
connected a fat, white-headed, big-nosed, freckled man with an
unpleasant experience bothered her. She wished she could remember what
it was.

"Are you the special representative my Uncle Pete said was to come for
me?" she asked suddenly.

"Special representative!" he repeated, and there was a vague uncertainty
in his voice which told Tessie at once that he knew even less of the
special representative than she did.

Granny was still considering the two hundred and fifty thousand dollars.
She sniffed at them.

"I never trust a man who pays more than a thing is worth," she
contemptuously told Mr. Pracht. "There's always a nigger in the
woodpile. Are you buying these islands for yourself?" she asked
pleasantly, "or for the twenty-three children? Tessie would want to know
who would look after the people if she should sell the islands."

"I sure would!" Tessie looked gratefully at Granny. Trust Granny to ask
leading questions.

Mr. Pracht hesitated before he spoke in a most confidential manner, as
if only to Granny and Tessie would he admit the truth. "I represent a
syndicate which plans to develop the natural resources of the islands.
The syndicate has no use for the title, so that Miss Gilfooly can remain
a queen in name. And I can assure her that the people will be well
looked after. I might possibly," he frowned and spoke more slowly, "be
able to offer two hundred and seventy-five thousand!" He looked at
Tessie as if he had made a wonderful offer, one that she could not
afford to refuse. Surely when she heard that sum she would jump up and
exclaim: "Yes, thank you. You may have my kingdom for two hundred and
seventy-five thousand dollars!"

"Couldn't you make it three hundred thousand?" asked Granny, quite as if
she were selling rags to the junk man and not bargaining with a
syndicate for a kingdom.

He looked at her. "I should hate to say positively, but if that is the
price Miss Gilfooly will accept, I might--yes!" He took a sudden
determination. "I will assume the responsibility and offer you three
hundred thousand dollars. It's a big price! The syndicate will lose
money, but----"

"Bosh!" exclaimed Granny, and she rose to her feet and stood beside
Tessie. "Bosh! Syndicates don't lose money! I don't know how Queen
Teresa feels, but if I were in her shoes, I'd tell your syndicate to go
to Jericho before I would sell an inch of my islands. That's what I'd
do!" And she snapped her fingers in his face.

"Madam!" He jumped back indignantly. He turned to Tessie. After all the
Sunshine Islands belonged to Tessie, not to her belligerent
grandmother.

"Of course I shan't sell my islands!" declared Tessie, flushed and
indignant, that he should really think she would. "I wouldn't sell them
for a million! I have a duty to the people! It wouldn't be right to sell
them!"

An ugly look crept into Mr. Pracht's blue eyes. "You can refuse if you
wish," he said, and there was an ugly note in his voice, far different
from his former suave, smooth manner. "I can only remind you again that
the natives have sworn that they will never have another white ruler.
And you will find that they will stop at nothing. They have several
disagreeable customs in regard to those they consider usurpers. Boiling
them in shark oil is perhaps the simplest!" He bowed triumphantly and
walked toward the door.

"Is that so," remarked Granny coldly. "And may I ask you if you were at
the Evergreen banquet for the queen the other evening?"

"Banquet?" he swung around and looked at her. There was an odd
expression in his eyes.

"Yes, there was an unexpected guest who made things very disagreeable
for a minute. You sound as if you might have been him."

He shook his head. "I have no time for social gatherings," he said
coldly. "But Miss Gilfooly had better consider my offer. As I said, the
natives will stop at nothing."

If he expected Tessie to call him back and whimper that she was afraid
of the natives, and couldn't he do something to protect her he was
sadly disappointed. He found himself on the other side of the door
without a word being spoken. As the door closed behind him Tessie turned
to her grandmother.

"Granny," she wailed, "did you hear what he said?" She caught Granny's
hand and held it tight.

"Sure, I heard what he said!" Granny put a protecting arm around her.
"But I doubt if there is enough shark oil in the United States to boil
anybody, my lamb. Don't you fret. Your Granny will take care of you!"

"I'm not fretting!" But she clung to Granny's hand. "And I'm glad he
isn't one of my people! I wouldn't trust him! I don't like him!"

"I don't trust him, either. I bet he knows more about what happened at
the Evergreen banquet than we do. You'll see. We'll know all about it
some day. Did you take a good look at him, Tessie?"

Tessie nodded tearfully. "Fat and white, like a nasty worm," she gulped.

Granny added a feature to Tessie's sketch. "And a big nose! You remember
it was a man with white hair and a big nose that stole the record of
your ma's and pa's wedding. Don't you forget that, Tessie Gilfooly! That
man tried to make us think he was honest, coming here and offering to
buy your islands. But he ain't honest. You can tell that as soon as you
look at him. There's something queer in this business, Tessie! I don't
understand it, but you look out for that man. He's got a bad eye. Dear,
dear, I wish Joe Cary was still boarding with us! I trusted Joe Cary!"

Tessie moved away impatiently, and then came back to kiss Granny's
cheek. "Don't you fret, Granny," she said in her turn. "What could that
Pracht man do to me?"

"He could kidnap you and turn you over to those cannibals!" Granny
tremulously told her of one thing that Pracht could do. "And you heard
how they treat rulers they don't like? I declare, Tessie, I wish your
Uncle Pete had left those islands to an orphan asylum instead of to you!
It ain't going to be all pleasure being a queen!"



XV


In spite of her brave words, Tessie did not feel brave when she thought
of Frederic Pracht and his threats. She shivered and turned pale, and
there was a frightened look in her big blue eyes. She wondered if Mr.
Pracht had told her the truth about the islands and the people and their
customs--their barbarous customs.

She suddenly discovered that she knew almost nothing about the kingdom
her Uncle Pete had left to her. She had been a queen for almost a month,
and she had been so busy spending the island revenues that she had
scarcely glanced in her library books. She blushed with shame. Joe Cary,
who had no claim to the islands at all, knew far more about them than
she did. He talked as if the Sons of Sunshine were like the I. W. W. or
anarchists who threw bombs when and where they pleased. Now that she
realized how ignorant she was, Tessie could not understand how she had
been satisfied to know nothing. She had only been interested in spending
the money Mr. Marvin had given her. She had not taken so much as a
minute to learn anything about the history of the islands, nor anything
about the people who lived on the islands. It wasn't right, she told
herself with shame.

"I'm a rotten queen," she confessed to Granny in a disgust so deep that
it colored her cheeks and brought a black frown to her smooth white
forehead. "But I don't have to keep on being a rotten queen." And she
flew to the telephone and called for Marvin, Phelps & Stokes and asked
eagerly for Mr. Douglas--Mr. Gilbert Douglas.

"This is Qu--I mean this is Tessie Gilfooly," she corrected herself with
a shamed little laugh, for in her present humble state of mind she did
not feel that she had any right to call herself a queen.

"Hello! Your Majesty!" chuckled Bert. Tessie could hear him laugh over
the wire, and the hearty chuckle cheered her. "What can I do for you
to-day?"

"You can tell me if you have heard anything about the special
representative from the Sunshine Islands." Tessie quickly told him what
he could do for her. "It seems to me he should be here by now."

"That's a funny thing!" exclaimed Bert. "I just put on my hat to come
over and tell you what we have heard of that very representative. He--"
Bert hesitated and then went on reluctantly--"he is still in the
islands."

"Still in the islands!" repeated Tessie faintly. "Why--why--I thought
he was to come at once!"

"He was captured by a bunch of rebels. Sons of Sunshine they call
themselves," explained Bert slowly. He was finding that it was not
nearly so pleasant to carry bad news as it had been to carry good news.

"My goodness gracious!" cried Tessie. "My gracious goodness! They won't
hurt him, will they? They won't boil him in sh-shark oil?" Her voice
shook as she asked the question, but of course Bert would tell her that
it was ridiculous to think that any one would be treated in such a
savage fashion in these civilized days.

But Bert hesitated. "Well," he said at last, "when you get down to brass
tacks your people aren't much more than savages, Queen Teresa, and they
do things in a savage way. I don't honestly think that they would boil
any one in oil, but you never can tell what cannibals will do. Anyway
the party that is in power--that was your uncle's party, you know, the
same as our republicans, as I understand it--is doing everything to
straighten matters and show the Sons of Sunshine that it will be to the
advantage of the islands if King Pete's will is carried out. I expect
the rebels will free the special representative at once and he will be
along as soon as he can. You're not to worry. You're not on the
islands. You're safe here in Waloo. You haven't anything to worry
about."

"Haven't I?" quavered Tessie. "Did you hear what happened the other
night at the Evergreen banquet? If it hadn't been for Ka-kee-ta, I would
have been kidnaped. The store detective hasn't found out a thing, and
Mr. Kingley thinks I imagined it. But I didn't. I didn't!" she insisted.
"Even if I don't have to worry, I do. I can't help it! Do you know, Bert
Douglas, that I don't know anything about those islands! Not a single
solitary thing!"

"I don't know much!" Bert frankly admitted his ignorance, and he did not
seem ashamed of it, but then Bert was not a king, he was only a lawyer.
"I guess there isn't much to learn. You see, they were almost unknown
until your Uncle Pete was washed up on them and put them on the map."

"You must have papers and things?" suggested Tessie, pinkly ashamed that
she had not asked the question before.

"I'll gather up everything I can find and come right over," offered Bert
eagerly. "Shall I?"

"Do!" begged Tessie. "I just can't wait another minute to learn all
about them!"

She was a little disappointed in the big law firm of Marvin, Phelps &
Stokes as she hung up the receiver. Surely some one in the office should
have known about the property of a client. She didn't believe that the
lawyers knew as much as Joe Cary. Joe! She took the receiver from its
hook again and asked Central to give her the Evergreen, please. When
Central at last reluctantly connected her with the big department store,
she breathlessly demanded Joe Cary.

"Hello, Joe!" she said as soon as she heard his friendly voice over the
wire. "This is Tessie!"

"Hello, Tess! What do you want me to do?" For experience had taught Joe
that when Tessie called him up it was because she wanted him to do
something.

"I want you to come right over and tell me everything you know about
these Sons of Sunshine!" Her voice quivered as she spoke of the Sons of
Sunshine.

"What do you mean?" asked Joe sharply. "What have they been trying to do
now?"

"My goodness!" Tessie was frightened. "You don't really think there are
any of them in Waloo, do you? I thought you were jollying when you said
the man who tried to take me from the Evergreen banquet was a Son of
Sunshine. I never believed there were any of them in Waloo!" Her teeth
chattered, and cold fingers seemed to be running up and down her spine.

"I don't jolly about serious things. I honestly believe that the man you
found on the porch that night was a Sunshiner, and I am just as sure
that the man who tried to rob you at the banquet was one, too. I can't
prove it, and the store detective laughs at me, but I know I am right.
Don't have anything to do with them, Tess. They're brutes! They wouldn't
stop at anything!"

"I know!" impatiently. "And I'm scared to death, Joe Cary! I wish you'd
come right over and tell me what you know!"

"I'll run up this evening."

"You tell Mr. Kingley I want to see you right away, and he'll let you
come right away," guessed Tessie. She would die if she had to wait until
evening.

"I shan't ask any favors of old Kingley," Joe told her stiffly.

"Oh, Joe!" Her breath caught in a sob. "Not when I ask you? Please,
please? I'm frightened!" Her quivering voice told him how frightened she
was.

"All right!" he said quickly. "I'll come over, but for heaven's sake
keep your shirt on and don't lose your head!"

"I don't want to lose my head," she agreed meekly. "That's why I want
you to come right over. And, Joe, you're a darling!"

"Oh, am I?" gruffly. "We'll see about that!"

The information Bert gathered proved to be most unsatisfactory to
Tessie. It only told about Uncle Pete's will and certain properties
which he possessed in the Hawaiian Islands. There was scarcely a word
about the people or the politics of the Sunshine Islands.

"You don't know as much as I do," complained Tessie, as she pushed the
papers aside. She looked at him, and disappointment was written all over
her face.

"No, I don't suppose I do! You've had Ka-kee-ta to tell you things. But
I say, you're not really worrying, are you? You needn't because we are
all going to stand by you. Mr. Marvin said the other day that he rather
thought he would send me along when you go to the islands to see that
everything is all right."

"Bert Douglas!" She stared at him and a little of the worry slipped from
her eyes. "How perfectly wonderful! And perhaps Mr. Kingley will send
Mr. Bill! Mr. Bill told me last night. His father wants him to look over
the islands. With you and Mr. Bill everything will be perfect!"

"Sure to," agreed Bert, although he did look a trifle disappointed when
he heard that Mr. Bill was to be a member of the royal party.

But Joe Cary was not so sure that Bert and Mr. Bill would make
everything all right for Tessie. He shook his head.

"You have to remember that you will not be dealing with civilized
people, Tessie," he said frowningly. "Oh, yes, some of them are
civilized in a way, but from what I hear your Uncle Pete was as big a
savage as any of them. He did build a church and import a missionary,
but when the missionary disappeared he didn't send for another."

"What became of the missionary?" Tessie was afraid of the answer. Her
red lips lost their color as she asked for it.

"Just as well not to ask too many questions," suggested Joe. "No one
ever heard. He just disappeared. The Sons of Sunshine were organized to
fight your Uncle Pete's revolutionary ideas, you know. Old customs was
the war-cry. And they swear they will never have another white ruler.
There is something back of it all that I can't get hold of yet and it
means trouble. Your Uncle Pete should have known better than to have
left you such a mess. His money was all right, but he didn't need to
leave you his troubles. The natives will never accept you as their
queen!"

"Ka-kee-ta did," Tessie tearfully reminded him.

"Ka-kee-ta was your Uncle Pete's tool and slave. He thought your Uncle
Pete was a god, but I expect at heart Ka-kee-ta's still a savage. Don't
you trust him. Hang it all! I wish you'd refuse to have anything to do
with the darned old islands! I'm afraid for you!" And when Joe Cary was
afraid, there was real cause for fear.

"I'm afraid too!" gulped Tessie, and impulsively she told him about
Frederic Pracht and his offer and his threat.

"There it is!" exclaimed Joe. "They've begun, you see, and nobody knows
where they will stop. They won't come out in the open. They fight in the
dark. Tessie, you're so little and helpless and sweet!" His hand shot
out to close on her fingers. "You can't fight them!"

But the touch of his fingers gave Tessie courage to stop whimpering and
sit up straight. "I can!" she insisted, her head high. "I'm Irish, you
know, Irish enough not to give in until I know I'm beaten. And I trust
Uncle Pete. He wouldn't have left me the islands if he hadn't thought I
could manage them. And I'll have Granny and Johnny! And Bert Douglas is
going with us! And so is Mr. Bill! We ought to be able to handle a lot
of ignorant natives!"

"Bill Kingley! Bert Douglas! What do they know about the Sunshine
Islands? I suppose I'll have to go, too, Tessie! I can't let you take
your old Granny without me! She's been too good to me," he explained.
"Are you going to take Norah Lee, too?" He seemed to want to know just
who would compose the party. He looked at her eagerly when he spoke of
Norah.

"Of course. I'll have to have some one to answer my letters. It will be
splendid to have you, Joe! I shan't worry another minute. You are such
a comfort! Before you came I was scared to death, but now--" She caught
his hands and squeezed them. "It's such fun to be a queen, Joe," she
whispered, all her fears forgotten as she thought of the pleasant party
she was going to take to the Sunshine Islands.

"Is it, little girl?" tenderly.

"Is it! You know I never had anything in all my life until Uncle Pete
died, and then in a flash I stopped being nobody and was somebody. I
should say I was somebody! Old Mr. Kingley never knew I was on earth
until I became a queen, and now he has given me a banquet and unlimited
credit, and Mrs. Kingley invited me to dinner, and Ethel Kingley has
asked me to join her bridge club, and Mr. Bill--Mr. Bill is here all the
time!" She flushed as she spoke of Mr. Bill.

"You like Bill Kingley, don't you, Tessie?" he asked gently.

The color in Tessie's cheeks deepened. "Of course I like him," she said
frankly. "I adored him before I ever knew him and now--" She raised her
head and looked at Joe. "He's so kind and interested," she explained
softly. "He thinks it's awfully jolly for me to be a queen."

"He would!" Joe was rather scornful of Mr. Bill's thought. "He hasn't
sense enough to see that thrones are nothing but targets now. It may
have been all right in the old days to have kings and queens, Tessie,
I'm not questioning the past, I'm too busy with the present and the
future, but it isn't all right now. The people don't need them. You
shouldn't be proud and happy to be a queen. You should be angry and
indignant!"

"Why, Joe Cary!" There was no doubt that she was indignant and angry,
but it was not because she was a queen. "How can you talk like that? The
idea! The very idea! I asked you to help me and if you only insult me--"
She turned away so that he would not see the tears which filled her
eyes.

"Oh, Tessie! Silly little girl!" His arm was around her. "I wouldn't
hurt you for the world, but I have to tell you the truth. I can't lie to
you the way other people do! I can't do it! I think so much of you,
little Tessie! I hate to have you even play you are a queen!"

She pulled herself free and stared at him. "Play!" she cried furiously.
"Play! I am a queen, Joe Cary, and you know it! Just because I've known
you for years and years is no reason why you--you--" She was so angry
that she could not say another word. She could not look at him either
for the tears overflowed her eyes. "I wish you'd go!" she managed to
stammer.

Joe never thought of going. He had a shamed sort of feeling as if he had
broken a little girl's doll, and he took Tessie in his arms again and
kissed the tears from her soft cheeks.

"Tessie!" he murmured. "Little Tessie!"

She could feel the hard beat of his heart under her head. She had never
supposed a man's heart would beat like that. Her own heart often thumped
more madly, but a man's heart was different. She pushed him away. Joe
Cary need not think that he could say the things he had said to her and
then kiss her and expect her to forget his hard words. How dared he kiss
her when he talked as he did! She was a queen! She was! And men didn't
kiss queens! Men had been killed for less than Joe had done.

"Joe Cary," she began angrily, but he would not let her say another
word. He closed her lips with the palm of his hand.

"Give it up, Tessie," he said breathlessly, swept from his feet by the
soft sweetness of her lips. "Give up this ridiculous fairy tale and----"

"Why, Joe Cary!" She pushed him away, all wide-eyed astonishment. "Stop
being a queen! The idea! I want you to know that I like being a queen!
And I'm not afraid now! Not a bit! I don't care that for the Sons of
Sunshine!" And she snapped her fingers at the rebels.

Joe looked at her and thought how dear and sweet and childish she was.
If she were ten years old she could be no more unreasonable.

"I hope you'll always feel that way," was all he said, for he understood
perfectly that nothing he could say would influence her now. He would
have to leave it to Fate to show her what it meant to be the queen of
half a dozen islands filled with savages.

It was not altogether Tessie's fault that she was so unreasonable and
turned such a deaf ear to his plain, practical words. When Mr. Bill came
in a few moments later, he did not scold Tessie and tell her that she
was a little fool to think that she was a queen. Mr. Bill took her hand
and raised it to his lips.

"Queen Teresa!" he murmured adoringly.

Tessie shot a triumphant glance at Joe before she went to put on her
wrap, for she and Mr. Bill were going out to dine.

"At the Kingleys," she told Joe with shining eyes, for a month ago
Tessie never thought that Fate could ever arrange matters so that she
would dine at the Kingleys as an honored guest. But the Tessie of a
month ago was not the Tessie of to-day, not a bit. No wonder the
Kingleys, even Mrs. Kingley, now looked at her admiringly and made much
of her.

When she came back with her rose wrap floating from her shoulders, her
face rosy, too, and her eyes as bright as stars, even Joe had to look at
her in admiration. But he groaned as well as admired. What was going to
happen to little Tessie! Granny shook her head at another new frock,
although that famous blind man on his galloping horse could have seen
that she was peacock-proud of her granddaughter.

"Don't forget Ka-kee-ta," she said to Tessie, as if Ka-kee-ta were a
pocket handkerchief and must not be forgotten.

"Oh, Ka-kee-ta!" Tessie stamped her satin slipper. "I wish I could lose
Ka-kee-ta! I hate to have him always at my heels!"

"It's part of the price of being a queen," Joe said gently.

Tessie looked at him and frowned sulkily. "I'm not going to pay anything
to-night!" she said sharply. "I shan't take Ka-kee-ta! Come," she held
out her hand to Mr. Bill. "We'll go out the other way, and he'll never
know but I'm in here. I just can't be bothered with him to-night. It's
so stupid to have a bodyguard when I have you." She smiled at Mr. Bill.

"You bet it is!" stammered Mr. Bill, holding her fingers tight in his
big paw.

Granny watched them slip away, and then she turned to Joe.

"She's just a foolish little girl," she said, as if she were thinking
aloud.

"She'll make a grand woman," prophesied Joe, and he sighed, also.

"That may be." But Granny did not seem quite as sure as Joe that Tessie
would make a grand woman. "What's going to change her, Joe?" she asked
curiously. "What's going to change a silly little girl into a grand
woman?"

"Love," Joe told her boldly and valiantly.

"Love!" Granny repeated the word. "That may be, Joe. Love does strange
things. Maybe it can change Tessie. Understand, I don't blame Tessie,
Joe. The poor little thing never had anything in all her life until now.
No wonder her head is turned. But maybe love can turn it right again."

"It can!" insisted Joe. "Love is the strongest force in the world, you
know, Granny. It is nothing for love to straighten a pretty girl's head.
It's this queen business that bothers me, Granny. This fool queen
business! What do you think about it, anyway?"

Granny snorted contemptuously. "I'm beginning to think that my son Pete
died as big a rascal as he lived." Granny did not mince words when she
told Joe what she thought. "And that's saying a good deal. I don't like
these Sunshine Islands, Joe, and if I have my way, we won't stir a step
toward them. I'm afraid of the savages, but I'm not telling Tessie that.
Every girl dreams some day she'll be a queen and now that my girl really
is a queen, I'm not the one who'll tell her she was better off when she
was selling aluminum in the Evergreen."

Joe squared his shoulders as if he put a burden on them.

"Well, I will," he said stoutly. "I don't believe in deceiving people
even for their own good."

Granny looked at him admiringly, but there was something more than
admiration in her faded eyes. Was it pity? "You always were a brave boy,
Joe Cary," she said. "And you're young enough to believe in yourself.
But girls are different from anything you've met yet. You've got to
handle them different. But what's the use of an old woman like me
talking to you? You'll have to find out things for yourself."

"Yes," agreed Joe proudly. "I'm the kind that has to find things out for
himself."

"Stay and have dinner with me?" asked Granny with cordial hospitality.
"Now that Tessie's gone to Kingley's and Johnny's at that Boy Scout camp
I'll be all alone if you don't stay."

"Where's Norah Lee?" Joe questioned carelessly, but he flushed a bit.

"We can ask Norah, too," Granny told him quickly. "She don't often stay
for dinner. She's a great help to Tessie, Joe, but Tessie pays her good
wages so I suppose Tessie is a help to her, too."

"That's the way it works out. When a fellow helps you you help him, too.
And Norah would be a peach if she wasn't all for business."

"That's just--what was the word we heard so much about during the war?
Camouflage? That's just camouflage, Joe. No girl is all for business on
the inside even if she is on the outside. You take my word for it that
inside a girl is all for romance. That's the way the good Lord made
girls." And she nodded her pepper-and-salt head knowingly.

"I wonder!" Joe said eagerly, and he looked at Granny as if he would
like to believe her.

"I know!" declared Granny. "And now I'll go and ask Norah Lee if she
wants to eat with us, and then we can talk about these islands of
Tessie's some more. I didn't know until to-day that a man could have
more than one wife in the Sunshine Islands. The old king, Pete's friend,
had three. It makes me wonder about Pete. But there's one thing sure,
Joe Cary, Tessie shan't have but one husband. I don't care anything
about their old customs!"



XVI


It had never occurred to Ka-kee-ta's frizzled head that Tessie could
leave the royal suite without his knowledge, not while he stood beside
the door. He did not understand that the suite was a corner one with
exits on two corridors, and no one had thought it necessary to tell him.
So when he saw Tessie come in with Mr. Bill, when he thought that she
was with Granny in the room, he gave a howl of surprise and stared at
her as if she were a ghost instead of a flesh-and-blood girl in a white
dinner frock and a rose wrap. Tessie frowned.

"Do be quiet, Ka-kee-ta!" she ordered impatiently. "He always makes me
think of a dog," she said to Mr. Bill. "At night, you know, he just
curls up here beside the door and goes to sleep. He is always here! It's
so tiresome. I do think that queens have to put up with an awful lot of
disagreeable things!" And she sighed.

"They get an awful lot, too," reminded Mr. Bill with a grin. "And as our
wise young friend, Joseph Cary, so truthfully remarks, you have to pay
for everything you get. Having Ka-kee-ta as a doormat isn't much of a
price to pay for all the romance and the luxury and the----"

"Oh, isn't it!" interrupted Tessie, her nose in the air. "I'll lend him
to you, and you can see what fun it is to have him at your heels all the
time."

"He wouldn't be lent!" declared Mr. Bill hastily, for in spite of his
words, he did not want Ka-kee-ta at his heels for a minute. It was all
right for Tessie to have a bodyguard, but it would be far from all right
for the basement floorwalker of the Evergreen to be so attended. "What
was your uncle afraid of in his islands that he trained a man to stand
beside him with an ax in his hand?" he asked curiously.

"The people!" Tessie told him in a whisper. "That's another reason why
I'm not so crazy over this queen business as I was. I never used to be
afraid of anything, and now I'm afraid of almost everything!"

Mr. Bill laughed indulgently because he was not afraid of anything, and
admiringly because Tessie was so adorable when she was afraid of almost
everything. He took her hand and pressed it. Immediately Ka-kee-ta, who
stood in the open door watching them with the wide questioning eyes of a
child, gave another howl. Mr. Bill hastily jumped away from Tessie.

"The dickens!" he exclaimed.

"You see how it is!" Tessie shrugged her shoulders as she clasped the
hand Mr. Bill had squeezed. "He is just impossible! Sometimes," she
lowered her voice as if she would not for the world let Ka-kee-ta hear
what she was going to say, "I have a mind to give the whole thing up!"

Mr. Bill stared at her in horrified astonishment. "Your kingdom?" he
gasped.

She nodded.

"You couldn't do it!"

"Why couldn't I?"

Mr. Bill's reason was not a very good one. "Because," he said vaguely.
But when Tessie showed an impatient dissatisfaction with it he found
another reason. "It isn't done, you know! Kings and queens have to stay
on their thrones as long as the people want them there."

"That's exactly the idea," mourned Tessie. "As long as the people want
them on thrones! But suppose the people don't want them?" She shivered
as she remembered what Mr. Pracht had said happened when the Sunshine
Islanders did not want the king who was on their throne.

Mr. Bill was puzzled. "What is it?" he demanded sharply. "What's
happened? I could see all evening that something was the matter. When we
played hearts you acted as if your mind was miles away. You let dad give
you every heart in the pack. What is it? Has the special representative
come? What makes you talk as if your people didn't want you for their
queen?" He started to go closer and then remembered the watch-dog and
walked to the door and shut it almost on Ka-kee-ta's tattooed nose.
"What is it?" he asked again, and now he was very close to Tessie. He
looked anxiously into her troubled face. He wanted to help her. He had
never wanted to help a girl as he wanted to help Tessie.

Tessie's voice shook as she answered him. "The special representative is
a prisoner in the islands. The Sons of Sunshine--I told you about
them?--have captured him and locked him up. They don't want a white
ruler--a white queen! And I heard to-day that when the Sunshine Islands
people don't like their king, they boil him in oil!" Her lip quivered.
Her eyes were big and frightened as she looked at Mr. Bill.

"I don't believe it!" declared Mr. Bill quickly. "I don't believe a word
of it! Such things aren't done now! Maybe in the Dark Ages, but not now!
Take it from me! It sounds like a rank movie!" he insisted.

Tessie smiled wanly. It was cheering to hear Mr. Bill declare with so
much warm emphasis that he did not believe the Sunshine Islanders kept
up their ancient customs. "It made me want to sell the islands right
away," she faltered.

"Sell the islands!" He was shocked. "You can't do that!" he exclaimed.
"Dad wouldn't let you!"

Tessie looked at him quickly, almost suspiciously. "What do you mean?
What has your father and the Evergreen to do with my islands?"

Mr. Bill flushed and stammered. "Nothing of course," he said. "Only he
is awfully interested! He's tried to help you in every way, given you
unlimited credit and advice and everything. And he wouldn't like you to
do anything without his per--I mean without talking to him. I wouldn't
want you to sell your islands, either. I like to think of you as a
queen! You are such a peach! You should be a queen!" And his hand shot
out again, and it would have found her fingers if she had not moved away
from him.

"I think," she said with a quick catch of her breath, "you had better
go. It must be Ka-kee-ta's bedtime!" she insisted, when he showed no
sign of going.

"Darn Ka-kee-ta!" he exclaimed somewhat rudely.

But he had to go away, and when he had reluctantly said good night and
disappeared down the corridor, Tessie turned impatiently to her
bodyguard, who was yawning beside the door.

"You see, Ka-kee-ta," she said slowly and distinctly so that he would be
sure to understand her, "nothing happened to me when I went away without
you. I think I shall leave you at home often."

Ka-kee-ta shook his frizzled head and waved his ax. "The Tear of God!"
he rumbled. "The king's jewel!"

Tessie looked at him, and her eyes widened. "If I leave the Tear of God
with you will it be all right?" she guessed. "You aren't looking after
me, are you, Ka-kee-ta? It's the king's jewel you are taking care of."
And when he said never a word, but just stood and gaped at her, she
plucked courage to ask him in a frightened whisper; "Ka-kee-ta, did you
ever see any one boiled in oil?"

The words were scarcely across her lips before she discovered that she
did not want to hear what Ka-kee-ta had seen. She did not want to know
how savage her people could be. She shut the door and went to her own
room, the most puzzled little queen in the world.

There were many questions to puzzle her, questions concerning the
islands and Joe Cary, who was so anxious for her to abandon the islands,
and Mr. Bill, and old Mr. Kingley, who was so eager for her to keep her
inheritance. What difference did it make to old Mr. Kingley whether she
was a queen or not? She could understand why Joe Cary wanted her to
abdicate. Joe didn't believe in queens nor in kings. But Mr. Kingley--
What business was it of his? And Mr. Bill! He had said he didn't believe
the Sunshine Islanders were savage or cannibal. She would believe Mr.
Bill, she decided with a fluttering heart. Of course he knew. And he was
right! So long as she remained in Waloo the Sunshine Islanders--even the
revolutionary Sons of Sunshine--could not harm her. But she couldn't
remain in Waloo forever and be the queen of the Sunshine Islands, too!
That wouldn't be fair. Joe Cary said it wouldn't be fair. She would ask
Mr. Bill the very first thing in the morning. Mr. Bill really knew more
about kings and queens than Joe Cary anyway. He had seen some of them.
Mr. Bill's own mother had told her that he had seen Queen Mary of
England. Oh, dear! Wouldn't she ever go to sleep?

It was a long time before her busy little brain would let her go to
sleep, and it seemed no time at all after she was asleep before she was
wakened by Granny, who handed her a letter. The sun was streaming
through the open window with a dash and a vigor which made Tessie's
sleepy eyes blink. So she had slept after all, for it was black night
when she had closed her eyes and now it was bright day. She looked at
the letter.

"What is it?" she asked sleepily.

"It was just sent up from the office. And it's marked important." Granny
sounded important as she showed Tessie the word scrawled on the
envelope. "I thought perhaps it might be something about that special
representative. Maybe he has escaped from those rebels!" suggested
Granny, eager to know what was inside the letter which was so important
on the outside. "Really, Tessie, when I think of those Sons of Sunshine
I wish Johnny was here instead of at that Boy Scout camp. I've got more
confidence in a good strong American boy than I have in all the
frizzle-headed, tattooed natives in the world! Even if they do carry
axes in their hand."

Tessie scarcely heard Granny. She had opened the letter, but something
in the black writing made her face turn white.

"What is it, Tessie?" Granny caught her shoulder. "Tell Granny what it
is? Drat that Pete!" she murmured under her breath. "I wish he had run
away with a circus, instead of to sea to be washed up on that island and
make trouble for us all."

"It's--it's from that Mr. Pracht!" gulped Tessie. "And he says I can
have until night to make up my mind to sell the islands. And he says he
forgot to say that sometimes usurpers are sent to live in a leper
colony. I don't want to be a leper, Granny!" And she clung to the strong
hands which had reached out to clasp her.

"There, there, my lamb!" crooned Granny. "Of course you don't! And you
shan't be a leper! You leave it to Granny, and get up and get dressed so
you'll be ready for what comes. And that Pracht might as well understand
that he's going the wrong way. He can't scare a Gilfooly. Maybe he can
surprise 'em, but he can't scare 'em! Look at your Uncle Pete! Died a
king! All the rebels in six cannibal islands didn't scare him a mite! If
those Sunshine Islands are worth buying, they're worth holding on to
until we know more about them. You just write this Pracht man a letter
and tell him you aren't selling any islands to-day. Perhaps then he'll
offer more," she added shrewdly.

"I don't care what he offers, he can't buy my islands!" exclaimed
Tessie, gathering courage from Granny's proud boast that a Gilfooly was
not to be frightened. "A queen can't resign her job unless her people
ask her to, and Mr. Pracht isn't one of my people. He's a Pennsylvania
German. He said so."

"That's it! That's it!" declared Granny, delighted to see that Tessie's
white face had turned pink again. "You just put that in the letter! What
we got to do, Tessie Gilfooly, is to find out why he wants to buy those
islands, and then we'll know more about selling them."

Tessie slipped into her gorgeous negligée of pink georgette and lace,
thrust her feet into pink satin mules, and sat at her desk to write to
Mr. Pracht that she would never think of selling her islands to anybody,
that she hoped he would say no more about it. As for leper colonies and
shark's oil, she was not afraid. She was a Gilfooly, of the same blood
as King Pete, and the Gilfoolys were not afraid of anything or anybody.

"That's right!" indorsed Granny, who was looking over Tessie's shoulder.
"They aren't!"

"E-ven reb--" Tessie's hurried pen halted, and Tessie looked at Granny.
"One l or two in rebels, Granny?" she asked uncertainly.

"It don't make any difference," exclaimed Granny, "so long as there's
plenty of courage in the Gilfoolys."

"Perhaps I'd better let Norah Lee write it on the typewriter." Tessie
eyed her letter dubiously.

"Don't you do it, dearie! Just sign your name and put it in this
envelope. There are some letters that secretaries shouldn't write. You
just finish it as good as you begun it, and I guess Mr. Pracht will
understand it, no matter how many l's you put in rebels."

Tessie sighed gently. "I often wish I'd finished high school, Granny,"
she said slowly. "Mr. Bill went to college," she added sadly as she
signed her letter "Queen Teresa of the Sunshine Islands." "There!" she
slipped the letter into an envelope and ran her pink tongue over the
gummed flap. "If you'll give that to Ka-kee-ta and ask him to take it to
Mr. Pracht. To Mr. Pracht himself!" she insisted. "When Mr. Pracht sees
Ka-kee-ta and his ax, perhaps he won't be so free with his words. And
while Ka-kee-ta is out, tell him to buy me some chocolates. He might as
well get a five-pound box, and they can put it on the bill," she said
with a right royal disregard for payment.

As she went back to her room, she passed a long mirror which flashed
her a picture of a slim little girl in a lovely pink negligée, with a
tousled head and a flushed face. She went back and looked in the mirror
again. Suddenly she remembered that a month ago she had no lovely pink
negligée, no pink satin mules, and that at this time of the morning she
would have been selling aluminum in the Evergreen basement for hours.
How wonderful it was! She smiled radiantly and blew a kiss to the girl
in the mirror, who was smiling, too.

"Oh, Granny!" Tessie hugged her Granny. "Can you believe it? Isn't it
great to be a queen?"

Granny hugged her. "I wonder," she said absently, "what Mr. Pracht will
say when he reads your letter?"

Tessie snapped her fingers. She was a Gilfooly, you know, and the
Gilfoolys were a fearless race.

"That for Mr. Pracht!" she exclaimed. "And that for his threats!" She
snapped her fingers again. "Isn't there a law, Granny," she asked
suddenly, "that protects people from threats? I'm going to ask Mr.
Bill!"

"Ask Joe Cary," advised Granny. "He'll know more about law than Mr.
Bill. I wouldn't be surprised if there was such a law, Tessie, and if
there ain't there ought to be. It was like your wise little head to
think of it. Mr. Pracht will feel smart if he finds himself in jail,
won't he? Now what are you going to have for breakfast? I had some
strawberries, some ham and eggs and some hot cakes."

"I'll have some, too," Tessie said, after she had giggled at the
attractive picture Granny had painted of the disturbing Mr. Pracht
tightly locked in jail. "And don't forget the cream! I like a lot of
cream."



XVII


Ka-kee-ta should have made the round trip to Mr. Pracht in the Pioneer
Hotel, which was one block from the Waloo, before Tessie was bathed,
dressed and breakfasted, but he did not return by the time she had
finished the last of the hot cakes. He did not return for lunch. Tessie,
who had a thousand-and-one things to do, began to wonder.

"Where do you suppose he is?" she asked Granny. "What do you suppose has
happened to him?"

"Maybe he met a friend," suggested Granny, who was wondering herself
what had detained the queen's messenger. "I hope you'll give him a good
piece of your mind when he does come back, Tessie. He shouldn't loaf
when you send him on an errand. Maybe he went to lunch with a friend."

Tessie laughed to think of frizzled Ka-kee-ta and his ax going to lunch
with a friend, but her face sobered when she remembered that, so far as
she knew Ka-kee-ta had no friends in Waloo.

"I'm worried," she told Granny, and she looked worried. "I suppose I'm
responsible for Ka-kee-ta. Do you suppose Mr. Pracht could have done
anything to him?"

"I wouldn't be surprised," confessed Granny with grim reluctance. "A man
who will threaten a little girl like you would do anything. Why don't
you call up Joe Cary and ask him what he thinks?" Granny had called on
Joe for so long that it had become a habit to consult him on every
occasion.

"I'll call up Mr. Bill! He knows more than Joe Cary. Joe Cary never went
to college. He only went to an art school!"

"There are some things you learn without going to college," murmured
Granny, as Tessie flew to the telephone.

"Lost Ka-kee-ta!" repeated Mr. Bill over the wire, and he laughed. "I
thought that was what you wanted to do."

"I never wanted to lose him!" Tessie declared indignantly. "I just
wanted him to leave me alone once in awhile. I'm afraid something has
happened to him."

"What could have happened to a big strong native with an ax in his
hands?" Mr. Bill laughed again. He sounded anything but sympathetic.
"Have you reported it to the hotel detective? He would know how to trail
your bodyguard. Or the police? A man like Ka-kee-ta couldn't disappear
without leaving some clue. I'll bring the store detective around if you
say so?"

"You needn't bother!" There was a bit of an edge in Tessie's voice, even
if it was tremulous. It hurt Tessie to have her call for help regarded
as a joke. "I'll speak to the hotel detective. And I'll ask Joe Cary to
help me find Ka-kee-ta. But as long as your father is so interested in
my islands, I wish you would ask him why the syndicate that wants to buy
them stole my bodyguard?"

"Tessie!" exclaimed Mr. Bill. He stopped laughing as soon as he heard
the edge in Tessie's voice. Perhaps the edge was sharp enough to cut
him. "Tessie!" he said again, but she did not answer him. He hung up the
receiver and hurried to get his hat. He would go right over to the Waloo
and see what was the matter with Tessie. He met his father at the door.

"Where are you going?" old Mr. Kingley asked young Mr. Kingley.

"To the Waloo!" Mr. Bill answered hurriedly. "Tessie Gilfooly has lost
that native bodyguard of hers."

"Lost--" Mr. Kingley caught his son by the sleeve and held him
tight--"wait a minute, Bill, and tell Gray. He might as well use the
story." He rubbed his hands together in his satisfaction. "My soul! We
must have had a million dollars' worth of good publicity out of Queen
Teresa already! Tell Gray all about it before you go, Bill. He will just
have time to catch the afternoon papers."

"Darn the papers!" cried Mr. Bill, trying to free himself from the
paternal clutch on his sleeve. But whether he wanted to or not, he had
to wait and tell Mr. Gray what Tessie had told him.

"Perhaps you shouldn't publish it yet," he said doubtfully, when at last
he was free to go.

"Not publish it!" His father was shocked at such a thought. "Of course
it should be published. Why not? Queen Teresa wants to find her
bodyguard, doesn't she? If the story is published, all Waloo will help
her. It can't hurt her to have it published. What could happen?" He
looked hungrily at his son as if, perhaps, he scented more publicity.

"She could be boiled in oil if the Sons of Sunshine got hold of her,"
muttered Mr. Bill, as he remembered what Tessie told him was sometimes
done to monarchs in the Sunshine Islands.

"Bill! Don't be flippant as well as foolish," counseled his disgusted
father. "Queens aren't boiled in oil now. That makes a fine story, Gray.
A fine story! I bet the other stores, the Bon Ton and the Mammoth, envy
us our queen!" He laughed with good-natured triumph. "You can run along
now, Bill, and tell Queen Teresa we want to help her in every way we
can. Be sure and put that in your story, Gray, that we are helping the
queen in every way we can to find her bodyguard."

But Mr. Bill had delayed too long. By the time he told the story to Mr.
Gray, Joe Cary had taken his hat and gone to the Waloo. Joe found only
Granny in the big sunny room, for Tessie had gone over to Marvin, Phelps
& Stokes, to ask Mr. Marvin if there wasn't a law which would make Mr.
Pracht stop threatening her, and stop stealing Ka-kee-ta. Tessie knew
that Mr. Pracht had stolen Ka-kee-ta.

"I wanted her to wait until you came," Granny said. "But she wouldn't do
it. She feels responsible for Ka-kee-ta. She said if it hadn't been for
her, he would be in the Sunshine Islands this minute, safe and sound."

"He would probably have been killed by the Sons of Sunshine," corrected
Joe. "You know I think I'm getting a line on this, Granny. And it's
bigger than I thought. I made it my business to talk to that Pracht last
night, and something he said roused my suspicions. If I'm right, Tessie
has a big power against her. She wants to be careful."

"What is it, Joe?" begged Granny. "What was Pete up to before he died?"
She was sure that Pete had been up to something, and her voice shook as
she begged Joe to tell her what it was.

"I'll tell you just as soon as I'm sure," promised Joe. "I'm going after
Tessie now. She shouldn't have gone out alone, not after defying Pracht
as she did."

"She wasn't alone. Johnny came back from camp this morning, and he went
with her."

"Johnny!" Joe laughed as if a Boy Scout would be little protection
against the power he feared. When he saw Granny's worried face, he
patted her arm comfortingly. "Don't you worry, Granny. Everything's all
right!" he declared. "I'll bring Tessie right back!"

But when he reached the sumptuous offices of Marvin, Phelps & Stokes,
Tessie had left.

"About five minutes ago," Bert Douglas told him. "Rum story she had to
tell, wasn't it? Of course Mr. Marvin is going to make that Pracht stop
frightening her. We don't stand for that sort of thing in this country.
She was as pretty as a picture when she told her story. But, Cary, there
must be something queer about those islands. Mr. Marvin thinks so, too,
but Mr. Phelps is nuts for them. He says it takes him back to the days
when he wanted to be a pirate."

"Were they able to help Tessie at all?" asked Joe. What did he care
about Mr. Marvin--or even Mr. Phelps?

"Not much. We've had a wire from Pitts, the special representative, from
San Francisco. I suppose when he comes the mystery will be cleared." And
he chuckled. The mystery intrigued Bert as much as the islands did Mr.
Phelps.

"San Francisco!" exclaimed Joe. "I thought he was a prisoner on the
islands?"

"I rather think Pracht sent us that word to scare the queen. Anyway, Mr.
Marvin had a wire this morning that seems all right. I was just going to
tell Miss Gilfooly when she came in, the Boy Scout at her heels. She
mustn't do anything until Pitts arrives. But I expect, and I know Mr.
Marvin thinks so, too, that Ka-kee-ta lost his way. Miss Gilfooly
probably found him at the hotel when she went back."

Joe looked at him. "You don't think there is anything in Pracht's threat
to make trouble for Tessie if she doesn't sell the islands to his
syndicate, do you?" he asked bluntly.

Bert regarded him with amused surprise. "My dear fellow, what could he
do? Use your gray matter! Those islands are in the Pacific Ocean, two
hundred and eighty-seven miles south of Honolulu. They are very
beautiful and may be very valuable, but Pracht wouldn't resort to crime
to get them. No syndicate would. It's ridiculous!"

"Two hundred and eighty-seven miles south of Honolulu," repeated Joe.
"And much nearer to the United States than Honolulu. Don't forget that!
There are people, Douglas, who would be glad to get control of a group
of islands near the United States."

Bert jumped to his feet and stared at Joe. "What do you mean, Cary? What
do you mean?" he demanded.

But Joe would not tell him what he meant. "Think it over," he advised,
instead. "Think several things over, and perhaps you'll understand that
Pracht means all, and more, than he threatens, that he is determined to
get possession of those islands. We've got to find Ka-kee-ta. I'll trot
back to the Waloo. Perhaps Tessie will be there by the time I am."

"Sure to be," agreed puzzled Bert. "She left a good ten minutes ago. But
I wish you'd make your meaning a little clearer, Joe. I'd like to have
it a little clearer before I speak to Mr. Marvin."

Joe was halfway to the elevator before Bert finished, and he did not
turn back to explain his meaning. He hurried to the hotel, but Tessie
was not there. Johnny was on the davenport with a big box of chocolates.

"I don't know where Tessie went," he told Joe languidly. "She asked me
to go in the Bon Bon Box, and buy her five pounds of chocolates, and I
did. I saw her get into a car and----"

"What car?" snapped Joe. "It wasn't her own car! Her own car was
standing in front of the hotel. I saw it when I came in."

"Not her own car!" cried Granny, and her face turned a pasty gray as she
stared at Joe. "Not her own car, Joe! Then somebody's kidnaped her! I
know they have! Poor little Tessie!"



XVIII


"Bless me!" Mr. Kingley stared unbelievingly into Joe Cary's excited
face. "Queen Teresa kidnaped? Nonsense, Cary! Such things aren't done in
Waloo in broad daylight. You say it's true? What a story! I must have
Gray telephone the _Gazette_ that we have a front page story for them.
Bless me!"

"Never mind the publicity end of this now, Mr. Kingley!" exclaimed Joe,
so disgusted that he could scarcely speak calmly. "Let's think of Tessie
first and the Evergreen second for a change."

Mr. Kingley opened his mouth to say that the Evergreen must always come
first, and people, no matter who they were, second, but as he looked at
Joe, he suddenly decided that some explanations were better left unmade.

"The little queen is all right!" he insisted instead. "Of course she is!
This is Waloo, the United States, not a savage island. Nothing could
happen to Miss Gilfooly in Waloo. She's all right! What makes you think
she was kidnaped? Who kidnaped her? Where was that frizzle-headed
bodyguard? Why wasn't he on his job?" He shot the questions, one after
another at Joe, and then was impatient because they were not answered.

"You forget that Ka-kee-ta disappeared first," Joe said, as quietly as
he could when he was so full of disgust and impatience. "Tessie was
trying to find him when she was carried off. I don't know who did it,
but I'd be willing to bet that a tow-headed man with a big nose had a
hand in it--a big hand!" He looked keenly at Mr. Kingley, as he
described the man he thought had had a hand in kidnaping Tessie.

Mr. Kingley snorted contemptuously. "Bets won't get you anywhere," he
said scornfully. "What you want are a few facts. Do you know where she
was and what she was doing when she was kidnaped?"

"Her brother Johnny saw her get into a car, and as soon as the door was
shut, the car dashed up the street and around a corner."

Mr. Kingley rubbed his hands together and nodded approvingly. "Now
you're talking. You show you have something to work with. I don't
suppose you have the number of the car?" There was considerable
superiority in his voice because, of course, Joe did not have the
number.

"Yes, I have! And a description, too. The car was a dark blue limousine
and its license number was 13,023!" He moved closer to Mr. Kingley and
eyed him oddly, but Mr. Kingley did not become at all excited when he
heard the license number.

"13,023," he repeated slowly. "Well, have you found whose car that is?
It seems simple enough now, Cary. Whose car is it?"

Joe looked at him. Was it possible that he didn't know whose car bore
the license number 13,023? Joe watched him like a hawk as he told him
whose car it was.

"The car is listed," he said slowly, "as belonging to Mr. W. A.
Kingley--Mr. William A. Kingley!"

"No!" exclaimed Mr. William A. Kingley in a surprise that seemed
genuine, although Joe could not believe that any man would be ignorant
of the license number of his own car. "It can't be!"

"Owner of the Evergreen," went on Joe, with a thump on the table to
drive the fact home.

"It's been stolen!" declared Mr. Kingley excitedly. "My car has been
stolen! I don't know a thing about this! I don't even believe it!" he
exclaimed shrilly.

"When I got the information from the police," Joe told him slowly, "I
telephoned to your house to learn if your car was there."

"And it was!" insisted Mr. Kingley, leaning forward in his big chair.
"Of course it was!"

"It was not!" Mr. Kingley sank back with a groan. "And your chauffeur
was found in the garage, tied and gagged!"

"Bless me!" In the face of such facts Mr. Kingley could only stammer and
sputter. "Who could--who could--who found him?" he demanded sharply.

"Your daughter telephoned to the garage for the car, and when it wasn't
brought around, she went herself to see what was the matter. She found
the chauffeur on the floor tied and gagged."

"But what did he say? What did he say?" Mr. Kingley had jumped up from
his big chair and was tramping up and down the office with quick excited
steps.

"He said he had the car all ready to drive out, when two men came in and
threatened him with a gun. They gagged him, tied him up and drove the
car out of the garage. He didn't know either of them, he said. Never saw
them before. They were both masked, but he thought one of them, at
least, was a Jap." He stopped and looked at Mr. Kingley significantly.

"A Jap!" repeated Mr. Kingley aghast. He stared at Joe, and he tried
with all of his might to understand what Joe so plainly wanted him to
understand. "I never employed a Jap in my life," he said hurriedly. "Not
in any capacity!"

"Didn't you?" questioned Joe, with even more of that puzzling
significance.

"A Jap kidnaping the Queen of the Sunshine Islands," Mr. Kingley said
slowly. His eyes brightened. "Such pub--I mean," as he caught the
indignant flash in Joe's eyes--"I mean, I hope it won't lead to any
international complication."

"I hope not," agreed Joe, wishing he could raise the top of Mr.
Kingley's head, with its shining scalp and fringe of pepper-and-salt
hair, and take a look at his mental machinery. "You can't tell me
anything more then, Mr. Kingley? You don't know anything about this?"
His eyes seemed to be boring into Mr. Kingley's very soul.

"Know? How should I know anything?" demanded Mr. Kingley, and he looked
insulted.

"Several little things made me think that possibly you might know more
about the Sunshine Islands and their queen than you admit," Joe told him
with more of that disagreeable significance. "Maybe you know more about
the Sons of Sunshine than I do," he added, as Mr. Kingley turned away
with a muttered exclamation.

"Yes, yes," he said hastily. "Bill told me about them, that they had
threatened to make trouble for Miss Gilfooly. I told Bill then that she
should ask for police protection, but Bill laughed at me and said
Ka-kee-ta with his ax was worth a platoon of police."

"I thought you would know about them," Joe went on completely ignoring
what Mr. Bill said. "And perhaps you know about the special
representative--I believe his name is Pitts? The Sons of Sunshine
claimed they had him a prisoner."

"I don't know a word about him!" Mr. Kingley seemed pained to hear that
Joe thought that he did. "I don't see why you come here, Cary, and talk
to me as if I were implicated in this kidnaping. Why aren't you running
down this clue you have? Did Ethel telephone to the insurance company?
Who got the number anyway? Are you sure that it's correct?"

"I'm sure. Johnny Gilfooly took the number, and he's a Boy Scout and
trained to observe."

"Why wasn't he looking after his sister? Aren't Boy Scouts trained to
take care of their sisters?" Mr. Kingley sounded quite as unreasonable
as he looked.

"Tessie sent him into the Bon Bon Box for some chocolates----"

"Then he didn't see his sister kidnaped?" Mr. Kingley interrupted
quickly.

"Yes, he did. He was just coming out when he saw Tessie get into the
car. It dashed away, but not before he had snatched his pencil from his
pocket and written the number on the box of candy. He did it
mechanically, and when Tessie didn't come home, we were glad he did.
It's the only clue we have. It is mighty strange that she should have
been carried away in your car, Mr. Kingley!" he insisted.

"Very, very strange," agreed Mr. Kingley with a frown. "And very strange
that I didn't hear about the car until you came in. Why didn't Ethel
telephone to me?"

"Your line was busy. And Bill-- Where is your son Bill, Mr. Kingley?" he
asked sharply.

"My son Bill! Why--why--" What on earth was Joe Cary driving at. No
wonder he stammered.

It seemed to Joe that he was just stammering to gain time.

"Yes, your son Bill!" he repeated sharply.

"What do you mean?" demanded Mr. Kingley.

"Just what I say. Where's young Bill Kingley?" insisted Joe, growing
more suspicious every minute.

"Who wants Bill Kingley?" asked a voice from the doorway, and Mr. Bill
himself came in. He looked excited and worried. "I say, dad, have you
heard? Queen Teresa has been kidnaped! We've got to find her! There are
three reporters out here."

"Reporters! Why should they come to me?" wondered Mr. Kingley, chafing
under the fiery gaze of Joe Cary.

"Tessie was carried off in your car," Joe reminded him. "I should think
the police, as well as the reporters, would want to talk to you. The
Queen of the Sunshine Islands was found in the basement of your store,
and now she has been carried off in your car. It sounds----"

"How!" interrupted Mr. Bill, stepping in front of his shrinking father
and facing Joe. "How does it sound to you, Cary?" he asked thirstily.

"Queer!" Joe told him flatly. "Darned queer! But if you don't tell all
you know now, Mr. Kingley, you'll have to come through some day!" He
regarded Mr. Kingley with an odd combination of eager hope and hot
defiance. Would Mr. Kingley tell all he knew now?

But Mr. Kingley had stood all he was going to stand from Joe Cary.
"You--you--" he stammered furiously and had to stop for breath. "You're
discharged! Discharged! Do you hear? I won't let any employee talk to me
as if I were a kidnaper and a thief!"

"Yes, you will!" Joe dared to say to his purple face. "Unless you prove
you aren't a kidnaper and a thief! And you'd better not discharge me! I
suspect too much! When I'm ready to leave, I'll resign. You had better
go now and talk to your reporters," he added with contempt. "You'll miss
the afternoon papers if you don't. And that would be too bad, when you
have some more publicity for the Evergreen."

"What do you mean, Joe?" asked Mr. Bill, who could not make anything of
the eager words that Joe was uttering, and that made his father so
apoplectic that he could only gasp and gurgle and shake his fist at Joe
as he left the room. "What do you mean?" Joe seemed to mean so much more
than he said.

"I haven't time to tell you now!" Joe exclaimed brusquely. "I must find
Tessie!" He would have brushed by Mr. Bill, as if Mr. Bill were only a
part of the office furniture, but Mr. Bill clutched his arm.

"I'm going to find her, too!" he insisted. "I'm going to find her! Where
do you suppose she is? What could have happened to her?" He shivered as
he thought of what might have happened to Tessie. "I don't suppose those
Sons of Sunshine would stop at anything, would they?" His voice shook as
he asked the question.

Joe stood still and looked at him curiously. "Yes," he said as if he
knew what he was talking about. "I think there are some things the Sons
of Sunshine will not attempt--not in Waloo. Come on, if you're going
with me. Do you happen to know," he stopped as a thought flashed through
his brain, "do you happen to know if Tessie had the Tear of God with
her?"

Mr. Bill shook his head, and the anxious look in his face deepened.
Would it make it better or worse for Tessie if she had the royal jewel
with her?

"I don't know," he confessed. "She usually did have it around her neck
or somewhere else in a safety-bag. Mrs. Gilfooly would know," he
suggested when Joe frowned and said nothing.

"Of course," Joe shrugged his shoulders and threw back his head. "Of
course, Granny will know!"



XIX


When Tessie came out of the big building which housed the offices of
Marvin, Phelps Stokes and told Johnny to run into the Bon Bon Box for
some chocolates, she saw a big blue limousine draw up to the curb beside
her. She recognized the car at once. She had driven in it too many times
not to know that it was the Kingley car. When the chauffeur jumped out
and came toward her, she did not recognize him, and she thought
carelessly that Mrs. Kingley had done what she had threatened to do,
hired a Japanese chauffeur.

"They look so smart," Mrs. Kingley had said. "And they are so clever."

"And so unreliable," Mr. Kingley had added, and he had insisted that
when all the American men were employed, it would be time enough to hire
a Jap.

But Mrs. Kingley had evidently had her way, and Tessie smiled as the
chauffeur stopped beside her, bowed humbly, and asked her if she would
please come to the car. Tessie turned at once. She naturally thought
that Ethel Kingley, or possibly Mrs. Kingley--young Mr. Bill's
mother--wanted to speak to her. And although she knew that it is not the
thing to order a queen to come here or go there, still the Kingleys
were more than queens to her, and with a thumping heart she went to the
car. She even entered it without a question, all aglow with curiosity to
hear what Ethel Kingley or Mrs. Kingley--the lordly Mr. Bill's
mother--had to say to her.

Before she really realized that there was no one in the car, the
chauffeur had sent the machine leaping forward. It rounded a corner on
two wheels, and if the traffic policeman had not been engaged in a warm
argument with two men in small cars, each of whom wanted the right of
way at the same time, it would never have gone any further, for it was
breaking the traffic laws with every revolution of its red wheels.

Tessie could have pounded on the glass which separated her from the
chauffeur, but it never occurred to her to do that. She thought she had
misunderstood the chauffeur and that Ethel Kingley or Mrs. Kingley had
asked her to come to the Kingley residence. She was sorry she had not
had time to tell Johnny where she was going, but Johnny would take the
box of chocolates home and would tell Granny that she had gone to the
Kingleys, so that Granny would not worry. If Ka-kee-ta had returned, he
would make a fuss because she had the Tear of God. She felt for it in
its safety bag around her slim waist. But if Ka-kee-ta wanted to go with
her, he should not take all day for a little errand which should have
required only half an hour.

She wondered if Ka-kee-ta had returned. Perhaps she should stop at the
Waloo and inquire. She leaned forward to speak to the chauffeur. She
never could remember to use the silken tube which hung at the side of
the car. But the limousine swerved to the left and dashed down a mean
little street, which was not on the way to the Kingleys' big
plaster-and-timbered mansion. She knew it wasn't. She had never gone
that way before. Why--Why----

Tessie did pound on the glass then, but the chauffeur never turned his
head. He just swung the car around another corner, and down another
narrow street, and stopped before a brick house. He jumped out and
opened the door and motioned to Tessie to step out. But Tessie never
moved a muscle. She sat on the broad gray seat of the limousine, as if
she never would step out.

"Suppose you take me home now," she said coldly and calmly, although
inwardly she was anything but calm and cold. "I know Mrs. Kingley isn't
here. And Miss Kingley isn't here, either. You've made a mistake. Take
me to the Waloo Hotel at once!"

She spoke like a queen, as if she were accustomed to issuing orders and
to being obeyed, and not at all like the frightened little girl she
really felt. She told herself that it was ridiculous to feel
frightened. Nothing could happen to her! Not on the street in Waloo in
broad daylight!

It made her feel safer to see a group of small boys playing ball on the
vacant lot next to the red brick house. One of the boys failed to catch
the ball, and it rolled almost under the car.

"Take me home!" ordered Tessie, in her most royal manner.

But the chauffeur only showed his teeth. They made a white streak in his
yellow face as he motioned toward the door of the red brick house.

"Ka-kee-ta," he said very slowly and distinctly. "You want Ka-kee-ta?"

"Ka-kee-ta!" That was a very different pair of shoes. So Miss Kingley,
or perhaps it was Mrs. Kingley, had found Ka-kee-ta--although what he
was doing away down here, miles from the Waloo, Tessie could not
imagine--and had sent the chauffeur to take her to him. How kind! How
very kind of the Kingleys. She jumped up, eager questions tumbling from
her lips. "Why is he here? Why didn't he come home? Is he hurt?" For she
was sure that nothing but an injury would keep Ka-kee-ta away from her
and from the Tear of God. She was glad she had the Tear of God in the
safety bag around her waist. She could show Ka-kee-ta that it was safe.
Her face whitened as she thought that Ka-kee-ta might be, must be, badly
injured. But still she hesitated to go to him. She stood on the running
board of the car and looked up and down the narrow little street.

"Ka-kee-ta, he want you!" exclaimed the chauffeur, and he would have
taken her arm to help her, but she pushed him away. She had taken a
dislike to him, she did not know why, but she did not want him to touch
her, although it was kind of him to bring her to Ka-kee-ta.

She glanced at the red brick house. Was that Ka-kee-ta's frizzled head
at an upper window? It looked like it. So he was not badly injured, or
he would not be at the window. She drew a long breath of relief. She
would go and see what was the matter with him, and if it was nothing
serious, she would give him a good big piece of her mind for worrying
her. Of course, a queen would have to look after her bodyguard even if
her bodyguard had been disobedient and careless. Indeed she would tell
Ka-kee-ta what she thought of him.

She stepped forward hurriedly, and in her eagerness to tell Ka-kee-ta
how disobedient he had been, she dropped her little beaded bag. It fell
from the big embroidered pocket of her Canton crepe frock and rolled
under the car, but Tessie never knew it. The chauffeur, who was close at
her side, never knew it, either.

The door of the red brick house opened before Tessie could ring the
bell, and she went in. The chauffeur waited until the door closed behind
her, and then ran back to his car. He jumped in and drove rapidly away.
The small boy in search of his ball had to wait a minute, until the car
had dashed away. And then he saw the beaded bag lying in the street
beside the curb and beside the ball.

"Crickey!" he exclaimed, holding it up for the other boys to see. "Look
what I found!"

There was no one in the hall as the outside door closed behind Tessie.
She stood still for a second, feeling very small and neglected. Since
she became a queen, she had been met at front doors with more or less
ceremony, and it puzzled her that no one met her now. There was a door
at her right. She walked toward it. She could not remember at just which
window she had caught that glimpse of a frizzled head. Perhaps Ka-kee-ta
was in the room at the right. But when she opened the door, she did not
see Ka-kee-ta. She saw Frederic Pracht.

He stepped forward. "Welcome!" he said pleasantly. "Welcome, Your
Majesty!"

"Why--why--" stammered Tessie, so surprised she could do nothing but
stammer. She sent a hurried glance around the room, but she could not
see a trace of her bodyguard. "I thought Ka-kee-ta was here," she
managed to say after she had swallowed twice, and impatiently tossed her
head to free the frightened lump in her throat.

Mr. Pracht laughed softly, unpleasantly. "This is the Waloo headquarters
of the Sons of Sunshine," he explained gently, and as if she should
know that Ka-kee-ta would never be found at the headquarters of that
revolutionary organization.

"The Sons of Sunshine," repeated Tessie faintly. The bright color left
her face, her bones suddenly felt starchless and limp, but she looked
bravely at Mr. Pracht. She remembered that Granny had told her that the
Gilfoolys were never afraid. She must not let Mr. Pracht think that a
Gilfooly could be afraid, but she half closed her eyes and wished with
all of her heart that Joe Cary were with her--or Mr. Bill! If only Mr.
Bill were there, she would not mind the unpleasant little smile with
which Mr. Pracht was regarding her. She would not mind anything!

"Yes. I am sure that you are going to be a most amiable and obliging
queen, and grant the Sons of Sunshine what they ask," Mr. Pracht said,
and his voice was far more pleasant than his smile. It was too pleasant,
so very pleasant that if Tessie had been any one but a valiant Gilfooly,
she would have fainted immediately. "If you refuse," went on the
unpleasantly pleasant voice, "you will have to remain here until you see
how reasonable their demands are. A strange people, Your Majesty--a
strange people! And they have strange customs in their far-away islands.
I think I told you of some of them?" And he looked at her and shook his
thatched tow-head.

Tessie straightened herself proudly. She would not let him see how
frightened she was. She would die first.

"You told me of one," she said as scornfully as she could, when she had
no starch at all left in her bones. "Something about boiling the kings
they don't like in shark oil." And she managed a contemptuous toss of
her head, as if she did not believe a word of Mr. Pracht's story.

"Yes," he agreed cheerfully. "That is one of their little customs. But I
am sure that they will not have to resort to it soon again. You cannot
blame them for wanting a native ruler. You really have no claim on them.
Just because your uncle was an unscrupulous man, and influenced the old
king to disinherit his sons, is no reason why the people should have to
accept another white ruler when they don't want one." He would have gone
on to tell Tessie other things about the islands and the rebels, but she
interrupted him.

"What do you want of me?" she asked bluntly.

"I told you. Your rights to the Sunshine Islands," he told her as
bluntly.

But Tessie, soft, little, frightened Tessie, felt the hot blood of the
Gilfoolys rush through her. It seemed to put the starch back in her
bones so that she could stand boldly before this hateful, smiling man.
Her islands! The very idea! Words Joe Cary had said rushed through her
mind. It was funny that she should remember what Joe had said about
responsibilities and duties now. But Joe was right. She did have
responsibilities and duties. So instead of telling Mr. Pracht exactly
what she thought of him, she swallowed the hot words which rushed to her
lips, tossed her head, and looked at him questioningly. She must meet
craft with craft.

"How do I know that you are what you say?" she asked doubtfully. "You
tell me that you represent the Sons of Sunshine, and that the Sons of
Sunshine want a native ruler, but I have only your word for it. You must
have some credentials or something. I can't dispose of my rights to the
islands my Uncle Pete left me and turn the people over to just any one.
That wouldn't be right! Joe Cary--" And suddenly she remembered
something else Joe Cary had told her. She stared at Mr. Pracht with big
astonished eyes. "Joe Cary told me once that there was some country that
would like to get possession of my islands so it would have a base, I
think he said, nearer the United States. He said the Japanese would give
their eyeteeth to get control of the Sunshine Islands. I remember all
about it now. How do I know you aren't acting for the Japanese, instead
of for the Sons of Sunshine?" she asked shrilly.

He jumped, and all the muscles of his face seemed to tighten as he
stared at her. "Japanese!" he repeated sharply.

"Yes. And it was a Jap who drove the car that brought me here,"
remembered Tessie, putting two and two together. "I would never sell my
islands to the Japanese!" she declared firmly. "Never! I don't trust
them! And it wouldn't be patriotic! Joe said it wouldn't! And the
Baileys, who lived next to us before I was a queen, were from
California, and they told me things about the Japanese. If you are
working for them, you can tell them I would never think of selling my
islands to them!" And she turned away as if to let him know that her
decision was made and the interview was over.

Out on the steps, a small boy with a beaded bag in his hand was ringing
the doorbell. It sent a loud peal through the house.

"Some one is at your front door," Tessie told Mr. Pracht, who stood
biting his nails, and frowning at her as though he had not heard the
bell.

"Let it ring," he muttered staring at her. Suddenly he shrugged his
shoulders. He had decided on his course of action. "You want Ka-kee-ta?"
he said curtly. "Come upstairs."

"I thought you said he wasn't here," she exclaimed. "That surprised me,
for I was sure I saw him at the window."

"Come upstairs," repeated Mr. Pracht. "Ka-kee-ta needs you."

Of course, if one of her people needed her, there was nothing for a
queen to do but follow Mr. Pracht up the stairs and down the hall.
Outside the front door, a small boy stuffed a beaded bag in his pocket
and ran down the steps and up the street.

Mr. Pracht threw open the door of a room at the end of the hall, and
stood aside for Tessie to enter. She hesitated for the room was dark. It
seemed to have no light but from the open door, and she could see
nothing in it but shadows.

"Ka-kee-ta?" she called from the threshold. "Ka-kee-ta, are you there?"
She was almost sure that Ka-kee-ta was not there, but before she could
say so, she was pushed over the threshold and into the darkened room.
The door slammed behind her.

"You will stay there until you agree to give up your rights to the
Sunshine Islands!" Mr. Pracht called through the door. "Your rights to
the islands and the Tear of God! And the sooner you agree the better.
Sharks have sharp teeth, you know!"



XX


The afternoon papers carried the story of the mysterious disappearance
of Queen Teresa and her bodyguard, but strangely enough, there was very
little in the story about the Evergreen. Indeed the store was merely
mentioned in the closing paragraph which reminded Waloo where Queen
Teresa had been found.

Granny had been interviewed, and she had tearfully told of the
appearance of a white-headed, big-nosed, fat man who had wanted to buy
the Sunshine Islands, and who had threatened the queen with all sorts of
barbarous cruelties if she did not abdicate at once. Granny made no
bones about telling the press what she knew of Frederic Pracht, which
was little, and what she thought of him, which was much.

"I don't believe the Sons of Sunshine have anything to do with this,"
she insisted. "I think it was all that Pracht man. He stole the marriage
license of her father and mother, and now he's stolen her. I know he
has!"

"Be careful, Granny," cautioned Joe with a worried frown. "You don't
want to say anything that will make it worse for Tess."

"No, I don't!" choked Granny. "But I think people should know the
truth. I'm not as pleased with this queen business as I was, Joe. I used
to think it was grand to be a queen, and there are parts of it that are
pleasant, I must say, but there are other parts that I don't hold with
at all. I don't see how Pete stood it all alone, away off there in the
Pacific Ocean. I've just about made up my mind that Tessie shan't ever
go there. She's too little and helpless. What could she do, if those
savages should turn against her? You don't think any one would hurt
little Tessie, do you, Joe? She's all right, isn't she?" And she went
closer to Joe and peered into his face so that her eyes, as well as her
ears, could tell her what Joe thought. "You'll find her for me, won't
you, Joe?"

"Sure, we'll find her!" declared Joe, with far more confidence than he
felt. "The police--every officer in Waloo!--is trying to find her!"

"I'll bet the Boy Scouts can find her!" bragged Johnny, who was thrilled
to the very marrow to think that his sister--his own sister who was a
queen--had been kidnaped. Gee whizz! what would the fellows say!

Joe gave a start and looked at Johnny. "Thunder!" he said slowly, and
then he added more quickly, "Johnny, I believe you've said something!
Who's at the head of your Scouts?"

"We got a Scoutmaster for every troop," boasted Johnny, but Joe did not
wait for him to finish. Joe was at the telephone impatiently asking
Central for heaven's sake to give him the number he wanted, and not half
a dozen numbers he couldn't use.

In an incredibly short time, each Scoutmaster in the city had been asked
to have the boys in his troop help find the missing queen of the
Sunshine Islands.

"Your boys have been taught to observe," Joe eagerly told the
Scoutmasters. "Perhaps one of them saw the car which carried off Miss
Gilfooly." Joe never could speak of Tessie as Queen Teresa. It was too
ridiculous, and then he did not believe in queens. "The number is
13,023. Just get in touch with your Scouts, and ask them if they have
seen it. I know it's just a chance, but Waloo is so big and Miss
Gilfooly is so little that we have to snatch at every chance. Her
brother is a Scout, you know," he added, while Johnny stood beside him
all puffed with pride.

"We'll do our best!" promised the Scoutmasters. "And our boys are all
over town. If one of them saw the car, I'm sure he'll report at once.
Sorry about the queen. She seemed a nice little girl!"

"She is a nice little girl!" declared Joe, with considerable emphasis.

"You'll find her all right," prophesied the Scoutmaster. "Queens can't
be kidnaped in this country."

"Miss Gilfooly was kidnaped!" Joe reminded him curtly. "If you hear
anything, call me up at once, at the Waloo!"

He did not feel quite as confident as the Scoutmaster, as he hung up the
receiver, but he nodded encouragingly to Granny.

"They'll find her," he said.

"I'm sure I hope so," wailed Granny. "Poor little Tessie! I never should
have allowed her to be a queen! I might have known there would be
trouble! Queens aren't as fashionable as they were."

"No," agreed Joe. "They aren't. Gee whizz, Granny!" He jumped to his
feet and stared down at Granny. "Where do you suppose Tessie is? And
Ka-kee-ta? I'd like to ring old Kingley's neck!" he said fiercely.

Granny stumbled to her feet and stared at him. "What has he got to do
with it?" she said quickly. "What has Mr. Kingley got to do with
Tessie's being kidnaped, Joe?" She caught his arm and held it tight as
she questioned him.

"That," Joe told her with a frown, "is something I'm going to find out."

"But there must be something that makes you think he had a hand in it?"
insisted Granny, clinging to his arm.

"Nothing definite," scowled Joe. "But it was his car that carried Tessie
away!"

Granny clutched his arm tighter and shook him. "You don't think Mr.
Bill had a hand in it too, Joe?" she cried shrilly. "You don't blame Mr.
Bill too, do you?"

"No!" Joe shook his head. He did not see how Mr. Bill could be blamed.
Mr. Bill had been working untiringly to find a clue which would lead him
to Tessie. He had sworn a mighty oath that he would not close his eyes
until he found Tessie. "No," Joe told Granny, "I don't think Bill
Kingley knows any more than I do."

"Oh!" Granny released Joe's arm and dropped into a chair. "I thought
perhaps you might mean that Tessie had eloped with Mr. Bill, and his
father knew about it. I thought that was what you might mean when you
said you'd like to wring old Mr. Kingley's neck."

"No, I didn't mean that!" But Joe did not tell her what he did mean. He
just stood and stared at the telephone, as if he would force it to ring
and tell him where Tessie was.

Granny threw her handkerchief over her face and broke into loud
lamentations. Johnny ran to her.

"Don't you cry, Granny! Don't you cry! The Scouts'll find Tessie all
right! I wish you'd let me go and help them!"

Granny put her arms around him tight. "No, you can't go, Johnny!" she
sobbed. "You can't go! The Sons of Sunshine might take you, too. You
stay here with me!"

"It's dreadful!" Norah Lee told Joe. Norah's face was white and anxious,
and her voice shook. "If you only knew where to look!"

"That's it!" groaned Joe. "We haven't any idea where to look! It's worse
than a needle in a haystack! She might be anywhere!"

"Poor little queen!" sighed Norah. "You know, Joe, there have been
moments when I've envied her. I know it was silly, but I did! It was so
romantic, you know, and old Mr. Kingley and everybody made such a fuss
over her. The world just seemed to center around Tessie Gilfooly. The
rest of us weren't there at all. We all envied her!"

"You can't envy her now!" Joe had nothing but scorn for one who envied a
queen. He looked oddly at Norah. He could not see why Norah should envy
any girl.

"No, we can't envy her now. I'm awfully sorry for you, Joe," she said
after a moment. "You must be nearly crazy!"

"It's not knowing where she is," Joe said simply. "And when you think
what savage brutes those Sunshine Sons really are, it's enough to make
us all crazy!"

"Poor old Joe!" And Norah put her hand on his and squeezed his fingers
with friendly sympathy. "Poor old Joe!"

"I'm not any good at all," frowned Joe. "That's what takes the starch
out of a fellow. I don't know what to do! Bill Kingley is running
around town like a mad dog, but he isn't getting anywhere. We aren't any
of us as helpful as Johnny here."

Johnny raised his head from Granny's shoulder. "The Boy Scouts'll help!"
he insisted. "You just see!"

At almost that very moment Charlie Deakin, the young Scoutmaster of
Beaver Troop in Northeast Waloo, was going home in the early twilight.
He had been thrilled to his heels when Joe called him to the telephone,
and asked him to help find Queen Teresa. He had been interested in the
queen ever since he read the first story in the _Gazette_. He had gone
to the sale in the Evergreen basement for the benefit of the Sunshine
Island's shoe fund, and had bought an aluminum stewpan which he had
given to his mother, to her undying amazement. He often had seen Tessie
driving with her bodyguard and had admired both of them immensely. And
now the queen had been kidnaped! He could not believe that any one would
be so dastardly as to kidnap such a charming little girl. But if any one
had, he would like to find her. He would give everything he had in the
world to find her. And as he went home in the early twilight, he
considered several plans for calling his troop together, and setting the
boys to the task so that they really would find Queen Teresa. At the
corner he met Neddie Black, who was an ardent young Scout.

"Hello, Ned!" called Charlie. "I'm glad I met you! I've work for you to
do! What's that in your hand?" For from Neddie's fingers dangled a
beaded bag, something no Scout would carry.

"I picked it up in the street," explained Neddie, "but I can't find the
owner. I thought it belonged to a girl who went into that red-brick
house, but no one answered when I rang the bell. There is a dollar and
seventy-five cents in it, a vanity case, a handkerchief, a pencil, a lot
of samples, some pieces out of the newspaper, a veil, three chocolates
and a piece of paper. See!" And he showed Charlie a card on which
several words were scribbled.

"'Talcum powder,'" read Charlie Deakin. "'Frederick O'Brien's South Sea
Island book!'" His voice rose excitedly. "'Insect powder.' 'Cocoanut oil
for Ka-kee-ta!' Where did you find this, Ned?" He gave Ned a little
shake, as he questioned him eagerly.

Ned told him that he had been playing ball with a bunch of fellows in
the vacant lot over there--he nodded in the direction of the red-brick
house--and a limousine had driven up to the curb. Their ball had rolled
under the car--the license number was 13,023--Neddie proudly
remembered, and he had run to pick it up and had found the purse.

"A girl got out of the car. I supposed it belonged to her. But when I
rang the bell, nobody came to the door. The car had gone away, so I put
the bag in my pocket. Whose is it, Mr. Deakin, do you know?"

"Neddie Black!" exclaimed Charlie, his voice shaking with excitement.
"You go and sit on that curb!" he pointed to the curb in front of the
red brick house. "And if any one comes out of that house, you yell as if
you were being killed. I have to telephone!" He looked wildly about for
a telephone.

"What is it, Mr. Deakin?" begged Neddie, pulling his sleeve. "What is
it?" He knew it was something, because Mr. Deakin was so excited and so
breathless. He felt a little tingle of excitement himself.

"It means we have a clue to Queen Teresa!" declared Charlie
triumphantly. "I'll go in here and telephone, and if you see any one
come out of that house, you yell. Gee whizz! Wouldn't it be great if we
were to find the Queen! Just suppose she is in the house now!" He stared
at the house. "I believe I'll ring the bell and see!"

"Nobody answers the bell!" Neddie told him. "I rang and rang and nobody
came. I'll sit here, Mr. Deakin, and play ball while you telephone, and
if anybody comes out, I'll yell like sixty. You go and telephone!"

"Well--" Charlie hesitated. He hated to turn his back on the red brick
house for fear some one would come out, but he really could do nothing
alone. He was not even sure that the little bag belonged to the queen,
although he thought it did. The memorandum which mentioned insect
powder, Ka-kee-ta, and cocoanut oil should be proof enough for anybody.
No one but Queen Teresa would be buying cocoanut oil for Ka-kee-ta. Of
course, the bag belonged to the Queen! And Neddie had found it in front
of that house, and so the Queen must be in the house. He would telephone
to Joe, and when Joe came with the police, he would go with them and
find the Queen. And while he telephoned, the Boy Scout would be on
guard.

"Keep your eyes and ears open, Neddie," he cautioned as he turned toward
the house on his left. "Don't let anything get by you!"

"You bet!" promised Neddie confidently. He threw his ball into the air
and caught it, and then bounced it up and down until it led him in front
of the red brick house. "I'll keep my eyes and ears wide open," he told
himself proudly. "I bet it'll be a good deed if I find a Queen!"



XXI


Tessie had been thrust into the darkened room with such force that she
staggered and would have fallen if her hand had not touched the twisted
spindles of an old bed. She clutched the footboard and clung to it,
trembling and breathless.

"All you have to do is to give up your rights to the Sunshine Islands and
the Tear of God," called Mr. Pracht from the hall. "Just pound on the
door when you've made up your mind, and I'll let you out."

But Tessie said never a word. She just clutched the twisted spindles
harder. When she heard Mr. Pracht turn the key in the lock and go down
the stairs, she screamed. The cry was involuntary and quickly smothered
by her hand, for Tessie remembered that the Gilfoolys were afraid of
nothing. Granny had said so. But Tessie was quiveringly afraid that
Granny was wrong, for Tessie could have put her finger on a Gilfooly who
was afraid--shiveringly afraid--of the darkened room and of white-headed
Frederic Pracht, who was on the other side of the door.

What would he do to her if she refused to give up her islands and the
Tear of God? Of course she would refuse, for in her veins was that warm
quick blood of the Gilfoolys, which had kept her Uncle Pete on the
throne of the Sunshine Islands for almost twenty years. No matter what
Mr. Pracht and the Sons of Sunshine did to her, Tessie vowed she would
not give up her islands nor the Tear of God. They were hers and a
Gilfooly kept what was his.

But it was a fearsome task to be a queen and a Gilfooly, as she stood
there in the darkened room. Her lip quivered, and her breath came in
quick sobbing gasps. What a fool she had been to allow the Sons of
Sunshine to kidnap her! She knew better than to get in cars driven by
strange chauffeurs. But the car she had entered had been the Kingley
car! She never would have taken a strange car. And Mr. Kingley had
nothing to do with the Sons of Sunshine. It was ridiculous to think even
for a moment that he had. She trusted him implicitly. He had been so
kind and helpful, and Mr. Pracht had been anything but kind and helpful.
She was afraid of Mr. Pracht, afraid of his hard little eyes, and the
cruel twist of his mouth and his cold, contemptuous voice. She was
afraid of him, or she would have been afraid of him if she hadn't been a
Gilfooly.

And she hated him! If she only could wake up and find that this was all
a dream, that she was not a queen, that she never had been a queen, and
that she was only a salesgirl in the Evergreen again. She shivered as
she thought longingly of that safe nook behind the aluminum in the
basement of the Evergreen. Joe Cary had told her that queens had their
troubles, but she had laughed at him. She had preferred to listen to Mr.
Bill, who told her how beautiful and sweet queens were, and how much to
be envied. He would find her, of course. Mr. Bill would be sure to find
her. As soon as he heard that she had not returned to the hotel, he
would take his hat and find her. Mr. Bill was so strong and so brave.
She felt stronger and braver herself as she remembered how strong and
brave Mr. Bill was. She released the spindles and walked around to sit
on the side of the bed and look about the room.

It was big and square and dark. Funny there was no window. Here was the
bed, and over there against the wall was an old washstand and a huge
wardrobe, and against the other wall was an old-fashioned bureau. In the
fourth wall was the door by which she had entered, and above it was the
transom, which allowed a little light to filter into the room. Tessie
looked at that transom. Of course she could push the washstand to the
door and climb up and slip through the transom, but Mr. Pracht would
catch her before she had dropped down on the other side. The transom,
encouraging as it looked, was of absolutely no use as a means of escape
unless Mr. Pracht left the house, and Tessie did not think he would do
that. Perhaps in the middle of the night if she thought that Mr. Pracht
would be asleep-- But then there might be one of the Sons of Sunshine on
guard! Tessie did not believe for a second that a savage, even a
cannibal Sunshine Son, would ever really hurt her, but she did think
that he might do something very unpleasant, and she wanted to avoid him
as long as possible.

She had meant to be such a good queen, she thought with a little choking
hiccup. It wasn't fair for the Sons of Sunshine to object to her before
they knew what kind of a queen she would make! She meant to be simple
and honest, to follow Madame Cabot's rule for queens, to be a good queen
and now--. She bit her lip and pressed her hand hard against her eyes to
keep back the tears. It wasn't fair!

It was funny that there was no window in such a big room. How could any
one see to do her hair at that old bureau? There was a gas jet beside
the bureau, but Tessie could not find any matches. It was funny that
there was no window. And how old-fashioned the house was to have gas
instead of electricity.

From the street, in the rear of the house, she could hear the faint
rumble and squeak of a street car as it passed, and it made her realize
how unbelievable the situation was. The air was close and heavy. How
could any one stay in a close, airless room? She would suffocate. Was
that why Mr. Pracht had locked her in the windowless room, so that she
would suffocate, and the Sons of Sunshine could do as they pleased with
her islands? Well, she would show him! She wouldn't suffocate! She just
would not suffocate and let Mr. Pracht sell her islands to the Japanese.
She wouldn't do it! But it was funny there wasn't a window.

She jumped up suddenly and crossed the room to peer behind the shabby
bureau. It stood close against the wall, and she pulled at it
impatiently. There was a squeak. It sounded like the very crack of doom
to Tessie's frightened ears. She held her breath as she waited for Mr.
Pracht to burst in and ask what she thought she was doing. But when
there was no sign from Mr. Pracht, she pulled at the bureau again,
waiting until the passing street car made a noise outside which might
cover the noise on the inside. At last she had the bureau far enough
from the wall to look behind it. Of course there was a window. She
looked at it triumphantly.

"I thought so!" she said, as she dusted her hands and pushed herself
behind the bureau, so that she could look out of the grimy glass into
the dusky twilight.

Below the window was the roof of a small porch and beyond that was a
yard inclosed with a high board fence. If she could open the window,
drop on the porch, then to the ground and climb the fence, she could
escape from Mr. Pracht and the Sons of Sunshine, and then-- She was
almost sorry that she would still be a queen even if she did escape
from Mr. Pracht. She thought again almost regretfully of her old place
at the Evergreen. No one had ever kidnaped her or threatened her when
she was selling aluminum. She had been scolded, but every one said Mr.
Walker's bark was far worse than his bite.

If she could only open this grimy window. The frame stuck tight. She
tried again, tugging at it with all of her might, and when she failed to
move it the tears rushed to her eyes. It was so tantalizing to see a way
of escape and not be able to use it. She pushed and tugged until at last
the frame shot up with an unexpectedness which almost threw her out of
the window. She drew in a deep breath of the fresh evening air, and felt
ready for anything. There really was nothing like fresh air to give a
girl courage.

She looked down on the roof of the little porch. It seemed farther away
than it had when the window was closed. For all she knew Mr. Pracht
might be standing under it to catch her when she slipped down, but there
was an equal chance that he wasn't there, and she would have to take the
chance. She took time to bless Joe Cary and thank him before she put her
feet over the sill. If it hadn't been for Joe she never in the world
would have gone to the Y. W. C. A. gymnasium class and trained her
muscles to do what they were told. She clung to the sill for a
breathless second and then dropped. The silk belt of her frock caught
on a nail, but the weight of her body tore it loose. The porch roof
creaked when she struck it, but the noise was no louder, loud as it
sounded in Tessie's anxious ears, than would have been made by a
marauding cat.

Tessie crouched low and waited. There was not another sound. So Mr.
Pracht was not on the porch, and he had not heard her. She slid quickly
down a post and dashed across the yard like a shadow. Her trained
muscles made easy work of the high board fence, and in a flash she was
on the other side, in a narrow street, and free. She straightened
herself and drew a long breath. It was unbelievable that she had escaped
so easily. But she had escaped. She grinned triumphantly. She had
skinned her elbows and scratched her face, but such minor casualties
were of no account. She felt for the Tear of God. It was safe in the bag
hanging from her waist. Suddenly she stopped grinning triumphantly, and
began to cry. Now that she was free, she could realize how frightened
she had been, even if she was a fearless Gilfooly.

What should she do? Where should she go? Not back to the hotel. The Sons
of Sunshine would look for her there and would kidnap her again. And she
had had enough of kidnaping. A little of that sort of thing was far more
than enough. Where could she go and hide herself from Mr. Pracht until
Mr. Marvin would make it safe for her to be found? She fumbled in her
pocket for a handkerchief to dry her tears. This was no time to cry.
There was a little purse in her pocket as well as a handkerchief, a gay
little affair of red leather, and in it was a key. Tessie usually
carried the little purse in her beaded bag, but her beaded bag had been
so full that morning that she had taken it out and stuffed it into her
pocket.

She looked at it now with a little gasp. She had carried the key in that
little purse just--well, just because! She had never expected to use it
again but now--

The key reminded her of Granny. What would Granny think? She must find
some way to let Granny know that she was safe. Oh, wasn't it awful to
think how helpless and unfortunate a queen could be! Here she was a
fugitive and penniless in the streets of Waloo. And only yesterday she
had been riding the streets of Waloo in her own car, and with her own
chauffeur and her own bodyguard, and with a purse full of money. Could
you believe that twenty-four hours would make such a change? She did not
remember where she had dropped her bag. Perhaps Mr. Pracht had it. When
she became a queen, she had thought that she had said good-by to Trouble
and Care, and here were Trouble and Care at her very elbow. Joe Cary had
said they would be there. He had declared she would find that being a
queen wouldn't be all fun. And she had laughed at him! Mr. Bill had
laughed, too. Mr. Bill had called Joe an old grouch--a croaking old
grouch. Mr. Bill was so wonderful! But Joe Cary was right. It wasn't all
fun to be a queen. There were many disagreeable moments. She shivered as
she recalled some of the disagreeable moments. But at least she had
learned one thing. A queen would have to take care of herself just as
any girl did, even a salesgirl at the Evergreen. A queen couldn't depend
entirely on her bodyguard. She wondered if Ka-kee-ta were in the house
with Mr. Pracht, or if the frizzled head she had seen belonged to a
savage Son of Sunshine.

She was tired--more tired than she had ever been in her life. The big
anniversary sale at the Evergreen had not left her as tired as she was
now. And she was hungry. What wouldn't she give for some of Granny's
liver and onions and a big cup of Granny's hot coffee. And after she had
eaten the liver and onions, she would like to tumble into bed and sleep
forever. She would, too, after she had sent word to Granny that she was
safe. She would telephone, and then she remembered that she had no
money, not even a nickel, to pay the telephone charges. There was
nothing in the gay red purse but the old key. She couldn't telephone!
She couldn't even ride in the street car! She would have to walk. In
the old days when she was just a clerk, she had never been without at
least carfare, but now that she was a queen she was penniless. Could you
believe it? Oh, Joe Cary was right! It wasn't all fun to be a queen!

The tears rushed to her eyes again as she went slowly around the corner.
She didn't care if she was a queen, she said with a sob, she was the
most miserable girl in Waloo. Where would she be safe now?



XXII


Joe took matters into his own hands at the Waloo. He sent peremptory
orders over the telephone, and received unsatisfactory reports from the
policemen, who were scouring the city for the Queen of the Sunshine
Islands. Granny fluttered helplessly about, blaming herself for ever
letting Tessie be a queen, and scolding Johnny, when he told her to stop
worrying and leave Tessie to the Boy Scouts. They would find Tessie.

Granny pushed Johnny aside and fluttered over to Joe to ask him if it
wasn't time to hear something from Mr. Bill, who was driving frantically
here and there, following up every clue. The Kingley limousine had been
abandoned in Southeast Waloo, but it could not tell where it had been,
and so did not furnish any help at all.

Norah Lee tried to soothe Granny, to tell her that Tessie was all right.
Of course she was all right! Nothing could happen to Tessie in Waloo in
broad daylight! But Norah's heart did not feel half so hopeful as her
lips sounded. Norah read the daily papers, and she knew that many things
can happen to a pretty girl in a big city in broad daylight. But she
kept on patting Granny's arm encouragingly, and told her again that
Tessie was all right. It was the only thing Norah could do.

"It doesn't seem possible that a good little girl like Tessie could
disappear without some one seeing her," moaned Granny. The almost
continuous whir of the telephone made her so nervous that she jumped
now, when it rang louder than before. She ran over to stand by Joe when
he answered the call.

"A Boy Scout master is coming up!" Joe turned to Granny, and there was a
flicker of hope in his face. "He thinks he has a clue!"

"What did I tell you?" crowed Johnny, dancing up and down triumphantly.
"Didn't I tell you the Scouts would help? If you'd let me look I bet I'd
have found her long ago!"

"Don't bother me now, Johnny!" Granny brushed him aside as he danced up
to her, and went to stand at the door beside Joe and Norah Lee.

Mr. Bill came in, tired and discouraged, for his frantic driving had
produced no results. Close on his heels was Charlie Deakin, who showed
Granny the beaded bag and told her where Neddie Blake had found it.

"I tried to tell you on the 'phone," Charlie said. "But your line was so
busy that I got an officer to watch the house and came right down. I
thought it would be quicker when your line was so busy."

Mr. Bill had jumped to his tired feet, and he grasped Charlie by the
shoulder.

"Come and show me that house!" he ordered. "My car is outside!" And he
pulled Charlie to the door.

"Hold on, Bill! I'm coming, too!" called Joe.

"I'm going!" exclaimed Johnny, dashing after them. "Tessie's my sister,
and I'm going!"

Granny caught his arm. "No, you can't go, Johnny Gilfooly! You got to
stay here with me! I've got to have something left!" And then she
changed her mind and went thudding down the corridor, Johnny's hot
little hand clasped tight. She was in the car before Mr. Bill, Johnny
close beside her.

"You can't go, Granny!" frowned Joe.

"I shall go!" Granny's voice was quite as determined as Joe's. They
seemed to be made from the same piece of adamant. "I guess Tessie is my
own granddaughter! I have a right to go. And Johnny's Tessie own
brother! I guess he has a right to go, too. Tessie'll want to see us!"

Joe did not waste any time debating the question, but jumped in beside
Mr. Bill. Norah Lee had run to them, and was sitting beside Granny,
holding Granny's hand. Charlie Deakin squeezed in between Mr. Bill and
Joe and told Mr. Bill where to go. Mr. Bill forgot there were any speed
laws or any traffic laws in Waloo as he sent his car forward. Granny
gasped for breath. She declared they were in Northeast Waloo before
they left the hotel.

"Stop at the corner, Bill," suggested Joe, as they drew near the red
brick house, before which a curious policeman was sauntering, and Neddie
Black was still playing ball. "We don't want them to know we're coming."

"I was going to!" muttered Mr. Bill indignantly. Joe should credit him
with a little sense.

"You'll stay here, Granny!" hissed Joe, as he jumped from the car. "And
Johnny, you mind your grandmother and don't make any more trouble for
us. Come on, Bill!"

"I'll go with you," offered Charlie Deakin, his teeth chattering in his
excitement.

"I--" began Johnny, but Joe turned to him fiercely.

"You shut up!" he said so sharply that Johnny did not dare to say
another word.

"There's a policeman!" Granny told them in a hoarse whisper, and her
gnarled finger pointed tremblingly to the officer. "I suppose you'll let
him go with you," she added with much scorn. She was shivering with
excitement and fear.

Accompanied by the officer, Joe and Mr. Bill went up the steps. Mr. Bill
rang the bell, and when no one answered it, Joe tried to open the door.
Mr. Bill kept his finger on the bell. Granny shivered at its shrill
peal. But there was no response to it. Joe and Mr. Bill and the officer
tried to break in the door, but its fibers and hinges were stronger than
their muscles. Mr. Bill tried a window, and when he could not open it he
shattered the glass with one blow of his hand. Granny and Norah and
Johnny heard the clatter. They caught each other's hands. And still
there was not a sound in the house.

"She can't be here!" Joe said hopelessly. "There isn't any one here!"

"We must make sure!" exclaimed Mr. Bill between his teeth, and he
climbed through the window.

In a moment he had the door open, and Joe and the officer were
clattering in. It was not worth while now to be quiet. The officer's
flashlight showed them only empty rooms. Joe lighted matches and threw
them aside as they flared out. He led the way through the lower floor.

"Some one has been here!" He pointed to a heap of cigar ashes beside a
big chair.

"And here for some time if he smoked cigars enough to make that much
ash," added the officer wisely.

"Come upstairs," begged Mr. Bill. "Never mind the ashes now!"

At last they reached the room in which Tessie had been locked. They were
able to break in the door and the flashlight, the flaring matches showed
them the bed, the old wardrobe and the bureau, which had been pulled
from the wall. Mr. Bill ran to look behind it.

"Great Scott!" he exclaimed when he saw the open window. "Great Scott!"
he cried again when he saw a piece of blue crepe caught on a nail in the
sill. It was from a woman's frock, and Mr. Bill stared at it. Tessie had
been wearing a blue crepe when she disappeared. "She's been here!" he
shouted to Joe, although he had no way of proving that the bit of blue
crepe had ever been a part of Tessie's frock.

"And she got away!" Joe read the story of the open window, as he looked
out and saw the roof of the porch below it. "She got out this way!" He
dropped from the window, as Tessie had dropped, struck the porch roof,
and slid down the post to look carefully over the yard. "Tess!" he
called softly. "Tess! It's Joe Cary! She isn't here," he looked back to
tell Mr. Bill. "But she must have got away all right!" He went around to
join the others at the front door.

Another man joined them also, the irate owner of the red brick house,
who wanted to know what the dickens they were doing breaking into his
place and making such a commotion?

"Who lived here?" demanded Mr. Bill before he answered one of the
questions.

"I rented it day before yesterday to a man by the name of Smith,"
returned the owner, who never would have answered Mr. Bill if he had
not been accompanied by a policeman. "A fat, white-headed fellow who
wanted a quiet place for his sister. She had been at a sanitarium," and
the owner touched his head significantly. He was the most surprised
landlord in Waloo when he was told that the Queen of the Sunshine
Islands must have been a prisoner in his house, and he exclaimed quickly
that he knew nothing about any Frederic Pracht. He had rented the house
to a man who had said his name was Smith--John Smith. He had taken it
for an indefinite period and paid a month's rent. The house was
furnished, so the new tenant had only to bring his personal baggage.
John Smith had seemed like a pleasant, honest man, and had talked in a
nice way about his sister.

"And all the time he must have meant the Queen," he said, as if he could
not believe the story Joe and Mr. Bill told him. "Sure, I read about her
in the papers! She used to work in the Evergreen. My niece, Susie
Blakeley, works there, too. She was all excited when they found a queen
in the store. I wonder what she will say to this!" He took the money Mr.
Bill offered him to repair the broken window, and said again it was all
right, and he was glad they hadn't found anything worse than they had.
He stared at his old house with dazed eyes. "Well, can you believe it,"
he murmured as they drove away and left him with Charlie Deakin and
Neddie Black, who were more disappointed than they could ever say.

"What's the matter? Isn't Tessie there?" called Granny impatiently. She
jumped out and ran heavily toward them. She could not wait in the car
another second. "Where's Tessie?" she demanded.

"She got away!" explained Joe. "She got away from Pracht!"

"She did? Then why don't we go right back to the hotel and ask her where
she's been?" Granny scuttled to the car. That was the sensible thing to
do, not stand here and talk indefinitely. "Why are you waiting here when
Tessie's gone home?"

"Why, indeed?" They tumbled into the car, and Mr. Bill drove back to the
Waloo as he had driven away from it, without any regard for traffic laws
or speed laws. They hurried into the hotel and up in the elevator,
chattering excitedly. They ran along the corridor and into the royal
suite.

"Tessie, you bad girl!" began Granny at the door. But she did not sound
as if Tessie really had been a bad girl--she sounded loving and excited.
When she ran into the room she stopped. "She isn't here!" she exclaimed,
frightened because Tessie was not there. "She isn't here!"

"She must be!" declared Mr. Bill, and he ran through the other rooms.
But Tessie was not in one of them. Mr. Bill's eager face fell. He had
been so sure that Tessie would be there that he felt bewildered and
indignant as well as frightened.

"Perhaps she hasn't had time to get here," suggested Joe forlornly,
although he knew that Tessie had had plenty of time. All she had to do
was to jump on a car, and she would be at the hotel in twenty minutes.
They had taken more than twenty minutes to search the house and drive
back. He called up the hotel office to learn if any one had seen Tessie.
No one had. He turned to Mr. Bill with a questioning stare. Where was
Tessie Gilfooly?

Mr. Bill shook his head. He wished he knew. And then he shook his broad
shoulders and stared at Joe. "I'll find her!" he declared fiercely, with
a confidence which was based on nothing sounder than desire.

"I'll find her!" contradicted Joe as fiercely.

"Deary me, where can she be?" wailed Granny. "It isn't like the
Gilfoolys to go away like this! It never was like one of them but Pete!
I wish Tessie had never heard of this queen business!"

"So do I!" fervently agreed Joe. He looked at Mr. Bill, as if in some
way he blamed him!

Mr. Bill said never a word, but he did flush quickly. Deep, in his
heart, he did not wish that Tessie had never heard of the queen
business. Although Tessie had been kidnaped and might be in danger he
did not wish that, for if Tessie had never been a queen, there was
every chance that Mr. Bill would never have known her. When she was
selling aluminum, she was just one of the hundreds of girls who poured
into the Evergreen every morning and out of the Evergreen every evening.
She was lost among the hundreds. But when Fate plucked her out of the
industrial army, and showed her to Mr. Bill as a queen, he saw that she
was fair and sweet and dear--how dear Mr. Bill had not quite realized
until now. It made him furious to think of it now. You bet, he would
find her!

"You go to bed, Granny, you and Johnny," suggested Joe. "We'll call you
the minute we hear anything. You go to bed. You're dead tired!"

Granny was tired, but she could not go to sleep until she knew where
Tessie was. She allowed Norah to lead her to her room and tuck her into
the bed. She was too tired to resist. She was an old woman, she told
Norah pitifully, and had lost her husband and seven children, but never
in all of her life had she had had to go through anything like this. Why
couldn't she have been kidnaped instead of Tessie?

Norah patted her wrinkled hand and crooned; "Poor Granny!" until Granny
did fall into a troubled sleep.

Johnny refused to go to bed, but consented to lie on the davenport. His
head had scarcely touched the pillow before he was asleep, too. Joe
tramped up and down the room, while Mr. Bill slumped in a chair, his
head in his hands. As Norah came out of the bedroom, the telephone rang
and she caught the receiver. The two men jumped beside her.

"It's your mother." She nodded to Mr. Bill. "No, no news," she said
through the transmitter. "Yes, we are all terribly anxious. We will let
you know when we hear anything," she promised, for Mrs. Kingley had told
her that she could not sleep unless she knew the little queen was safe.

"We were so fond of her, she was so pretty and simple and honest. I
don't know any girl now who is so unaffected. You couldn't help but be
fond of her. It doesn't seem possible that any one could carry her off
in Waloo, does it? And in our car! It makes me frantic! I can't think
what the police are doing. Mr. Kingley is frantic, too!"

"I should think he would be," Joe said dryly, when Norah had told them
what Mrs. Kingley had said.

Mr. Bill dropped back in his big chair with a groan, but in a flash, he
jumped up and went out. Norah's eyes followed him.

"He's worried," she told Joe.

"We're all worried!"

"I know. I'm so--so sorry for you!" She just touched Joe's sleeve to
let him know how sorry she was.

He looked up suddenly. How sympathetic she was! What a good friend she
had been to Tessie. There was no one quite like Norah Lee. His heart
thumped a bit as he thought how unusual Norah Lee was.

"You go to bed, too!" he insisted huskily. "I'll call you the minute we
hear anything. But if you don't get some sleep you won't be much help
to-morrow. I'll just stay here beside the telephone. We may hear
something. We must hear something!" he insisted, because he so
desperately wished to hear something. "But I shan't let you stay up any
longer. You're all tired out!"

She hesitated as if she were going to insist on staying with him, and
then she said good night softly and went away. Joe's eyes followed her
until she was out of sight. What a splendid girl she was, he thought, as
he tramped up and down the room before he threw himself into a chair
beside the telephone. He had always known she was splendid. And what a
good friend she was to Tessie! How different they were! Norah was the
kind of a girl a man would have to reach up to. He would always have to
be right on his toes, for she would be a little ahead--always. While
Tessie--a man would have to put back his hand and pull Tessie up to him.
Tessie was all sweetness and tenderness. She made a man contented and
happy while Norah--Norah--

Joe's heart gave a sudden leap which almost choked him. He jumped to his
feet and looked about him bewildered. "Gosh!" he exclaimed, puzzled at
this emotion which had gripped him so suddenly. He tramped up and down
the room again. "Norah!" The name made him tingle. "Norah!" He dropped
weakly into a chair and put his hand to his forehead. What on earth was
the matter with him? Why should he feel smothered and limp and
exhilarated when he thought of Norah Lee? He did not understand why, but
he discovered that when he thought of Norah, he forgot Tessie. But he
must not forget Tessie--Tessie was lost. It must be because he was so
tired. Lord, how tired he was! He slouched down in his chair and relaxed
his tired muscles. Tessie--Norah-- The lids dropped over his weary eyes,
and he began to dream--strange, sweet, new dreams.

Downstairs, Mr. Bill had settled himself in a chair beside the telephone
switchboard and lighted a cigarette.

"Give me any message about Queen Teresa," he told the telephone girl.

"Ain't it awful about her?" she shuddered. "I used to wish I could
change places with her, when I'd see her go in and out with that black
fellow with his ax, but now-- Say, where do you suppose she is?"

"I wish you would tell me," Mr. Bill said wearily. "Don't forget to give
me any message that comes in. Everybody upstairs is asleep, and I don't
want them disturbed."

"The old lady ought to get a good night's rest," agreed the telephone
girl. "You just shut your own eyes, and I'll call you the first thing."

Mr. Bill could close his eyes, but he could not sleep. He smoked
cigarette after cigarette, and listened unconsciously to the
uninterrupted chatter of the girl who had envied Tessie until Tessie had
been kidnaped. When the telephone operator went off duty, and the
switchboard was turned over to the night clerk, Mr. Bill went over to
police headquarters, where there was no news at all.

"We have all our men out, Mr. Kingley," the sergeant told him. "Even the
chief's working on the case. We're trying to round up that
Pracht--Smith, he called himself, didn't he?--and make him confess. But
we don't know anything about those Sons of Sunshine. They sound like
anarchists or Black Hands to me. But we oughta hear something pretty
soon."

The minutes dragged into hours and there was no news. Mr. Bill dropped
into a troubled doze and woke to find himself in another day. He went
drearily back to the hotel. Joe was furious because he had fallen
asleep over his strange new dreams. Granny, with a face that was gray
and worried, instead of happy and rosy, was talking to him and to Norah
Lee. The Boy Scout was splashing in the bathroom.

"You heard anything?" demanded Granny as Mr. Bill entered.

Before he could answer, the telephone rang sharply. Joe and Mr. Bill
dashed to answer it, but Joe caught the receiver. He pushed Mr. Bill
away.

"Yes," he said impatiently through the transmitter. He waved his hand to
them. "It's Tess!" he cried chokingly. "Yes, Tessie! Where are you?" He
listened eagerly. "Where are you?" he demanded fiercely. "Where--" He
shook the instrument and turned to them in exasperation. "Isn't that the
limit? Central broke the connection before Tessie could tell me where
she was."

"What did she say?" demanded Mr. Bill.

"She said she was all right, and that Granny wasn't to worry. She isn't
coming back for a while. She's going to hide until Pitts comes and
straightens everything out. She said Granny wasn't to worry, nobody was
to worry." But Joe looked worried. "Do you suppose she did get away?" he
asked Mr. Bill. "Is this message a plan to call off the police?"

Mr. Bill had taken the receiver from Joe and was calling Central and
ordering her for heaven's sake to get a move on and trace the call she
had just given them. Several days later, it seemed to all of them,
Central reported that the call had come from a pay station. Hadn't they
heard the nickel drop? Central couldn't say which pay station. She would
try and find out if they wanted her to, she added obligingly.

"You'd better!" advised Mr. Bill. "And immediately!" He swung around and
faced the others. "We know she's alive and well. That's something! Did
she talk as if she were frightened?"

"No," remembered Joe. "She said she would have called before but she
fell asleep. She said she was awfully tired."

"She wouldn't have fallen asleep if she had been frightened," Norah said
with a wise nod of her head.

Granny contradicted her flatly. "I went to sleep and I was frightened,"
she said with a deep, deep sigh. "I never was more frightened in my
life. I don't think I can wait until this Pitts comes. I've got to find
Tessie right away and see for myself if she's all right."

"We'll find her," promised Joe, as he had promised a hundred times since
Tessie had disappeared. "And we know she's all right. She'll call us
again soon. Sure she will! She's still a little afraid. She'll call us
again," he repeated.

Granny whimpered softly. It was such a relief to hear from Tessie. "I'm
not going to wait here!" she said with a sudden determination. "I don't
like it here without Tessie. I don't feel I have any right here without
her. I'm not the queen. I'm going home with Johnny and wait for Tessie
there!" She had a quick dislike to the luxury of the hotel. She wanted
her little cottage where there was work for her to do while she waited,
and where she had always had Tessie.

"Tessie won't like that," objected Joe.

"I don't care! I shan't stay here without her!"

"Let her go," whispered Norah. "It will be better for her to be where
she can be busy. She has nothing to do here but think."

Norah helped Granny pack a bag, and Mr. Bill drove them to the cottage.
They were very quiet, and Mr. Bill remembered the traffic laws and did
not dash up the street as he had the night before. They were very quiet
when they stopped in front of the shabby little house. Granny murmured a
wish that they had never left it as she hurried up the walk and up the
steps, but at the door she paused.

"Tessie always had the key," she faltered.

Joe had a key and unlocked the door. When they went in, Granny raised
her head. It was as if she sensed a presence. Her nostrils twitched, and
her ears strained. She sent a swift glance around the shabby living-room
and went on to the kitchen. There was a coffee pot on the stove and an
opened package of cereal on the table while in the sink was a cup and
saucer and a bowl.

"Tessie's been here!" cried Granny, and she sat down suddenly on a
chair. "She's been here! Thank heaven I didn't give away that coffee and
breakfast food when we left. Even if we were queens I kept it. Tessie
came here when she ran away from that wicked man." She waved her hand to
show them her proof.

"Well I'll be darned!" muttered Mr. Bill, and he sat down suddenly on
the kitchen table.

"Why the dickens didn't I come home last night?" demanded Joe in
disgust. "If I had come home I would have found her."

"Perhaps she's upstairs asleep?" suggested Norah. "She said she was
tired."

They trooped up the narrow stairs--Granny first. It was Granny who went
into the bedroom alone, and at her disappointed exclamation the others
ran in, although Granny's disappointed exclamation had told them that
Tessie was not there.

"She's gone!" wailed Granny. "She's gone! And look!" She pointed to
Tessie's royal raiment on a chair. "She took off her queen clothes!" She
pulled the closet door open, and searched among the shabby dresses which
had belonged to Tessie Gilfooly. There was something pathetic and
ghostlike about the little frocks. Mr. Bill tenderly stroked a sleeve.
"She's taken her old black sateen," announced Granny from the closet.
"The dress she used to wear to the store. She's left her queen clothes
and gone off in her old working clothes! Can you believe it? Deary me!"
She sat down on the bed and looked from one to the other. "I'd like to
know what it all means?" she said helplessly.

"I bet I know!" Mr. Bill's downcast face had been growing brighter and
brighter. If Mr. Bill had been a barometer you would have seen at a
glance that he promised fair weather. "I bet I know the hunch that made
her change her clothes! You just wait, Granny! I'll find her now!"

"Just a minute!" Joe put a forceful hand on Mr. Bill's arm as he would
have dashed away. "Tessie's safe now. We know that if we don't know
where she is. But before you follow your hunch you'll take me to your
father!"

"Father!" Mr. Bill stared at Joe. Had Joe lost his mind? "Sure," he said
soothingly. "That's on my way. Come on!"



XXIII


Mr. Bill, with Joe Cary at his heels, dashed into the Evergreen and
through the crowd of shoppers to the elevator. A car was just about to
go up. Mr. Bill reached in and plucked out one of the passengers.

"Larsen," he said breathlessly to the employment manager, "have you
taken on any new people to-day?"

"Wha--what?" spluttered Larsen, too startled at being plucked from the
ascending elevator to do more than splutter--"what do you mean?"

"Just what I say!" exclaimed Mr. Bill. "Have you taken on any new people
to-day? Hurry up the answer! I haven't any time to spare."

His eagerness and his determination impressed Larsen as soon as Larsen
could recover from his surprise. "Yes," he said then, "I took on three
new people."

Mr. Bill sent a triumphant glance at Joe Cary. "Any girls?" he demanded
even more eagerly.

Larsen regarded him curiously. Mr. Bill had never showed any interest in
the girls employed in the Evergreen, they had never seemed to be any
more to Mr. Bill than so many bolts of midnight blue serge, or so many
electric washing-machines, but now Mr. Bill acted as if he knew that
the girls were human beings, real flesh-and-blood little creatures.
"There was one girl," Larsen remembered slowly.

Mr. Bill caught his shoulder and gave him a little shake. "What was she
like? Where is she?" The words fairly dashed over each other in their
haste to be spoken. "What was she like?" he repeated impatiently.

"Nothing!" Larsen described the new salesgirl in one vivid word. "She
wasn't like anything! And she's down in the basement in the hardware.
Her name?" in answer to another shake from Mr. Bill. "Her name was Mary
Smith." And to the best of Larsen's recollection she was nineteen years
old, a high-school girl, an orphan, and she had wanted to go to work at
once. Mr. Walker was short-handed so he had taken her down at once, and
she would receive the minimum wage of----

But Mr. Bill did not wait to hear about the minimum wage. "Come on,
Joe!" he called over his shoulder and hurried away, not to his father's
office where Joe thought they were bound, but to the basement.

The elevator was full of shoppers and Mr. Bill was separated from Joe by
a blue serge suit and a plaid gingham frock, so that Joe could not ask
Mr. Bill what on earth was eating him, but an inkling of Mr. Bill's
suspicion had crept into his mind. He was as eager as Mr. Bill to learn
if there was anything in that suspicion.

When they reached the basement, Mr. Bill made a dash for the hardware
and stood for a moment surveying the department with eager searching
eyes. Half a dozen customers were hesitating over various pans and
kettles, and as many clerks were waiting, with more or less patience,
for them to make their decisions. Mr. Bill and Joe had never seen those
customers before but they had seen the clerks. They recognized each one
of the half dozen. But Larsen had said there was a new girl. Joe turned
to ask Mr. Walker where she was when Mr. Bill pulled his sleeve, and
pointed a shaking finger toward the corner where the brooms and mops
were. A girl was standing beside them, the brooms concealing fully half
of her black frock.

"There she is!" hissed Mr. Bill.

Joe swung around and stared. There she was, the Mary Smith Mr. Larsen
had mentioned, the new employee. She was small and dressed in black in
accordance with the rule of the store. Her hair was pulled back from her
forehead and twisted in a hard knot on her neck. She wore glasses, and
so far as Joe could tell, she did not look like any one he had ever seen
before.

"Huh!" muttered Mr. Bill in deep disgust. "Larsen was right. She does
look like nothing, doesn't she? My hunch wasn't worth much, but just to
make sure let's have a word with old Walker."

When they found Mr. Walker in the rear of the department, he agreed that
Mary Smith had no style, that she would never be noticed in a crowd, but
he insisted that as a salesgirl she already showed promise.

"Only have to tell her once," he declared. "And brains are of more use
than style in this department. I think she'll make good!" As if Mr. Bill
cared what she would make. "But since I made such a bad guess about
little Miss Gilfooly I haven't had as much confidence in my psychology.
I never in the world would have taken her for a queen, so I won't say
too much about this Mary Smith. Say," he begged, as Mr. Bill would have
darted off, "have they found Miss Gilfooly yet? There's romance! Can you
believe it? I declare, I was just about ready to think that there wasn't
any in the world when along came that frizzle-headed black man and bang!
we were off! It was a good stunt for the department. You'd never believe
how our sales jumped. Too bad about the little queen! I hope she's all
right!" Tessie would have been surprised to hear how worried he seemed
to be about her.

"I hope she is!" agreed Mr. Bill, his eyes following Mary Smith as she
moved from the brooms to the carpet-sweepers.

Joe nudged him sharply, and asked him if he were going to his father's
office or should Joe go alone?

"It might be just as well for you to come along," he said significantly.
"I've several things to say to your father that it might be just as well
for you to hear."

"Just as you say!" But Mr. Bill showed no interest in a visit to his
father's office, nor in what Joe was going to say to his father. He was
as flat as a pricked balloon. A moment before, he had been floating high
in the sky, a round rosy ball, and now he lay on the dirty pavement,
nothing but a bit of dingy red rubber. He took another look at Mary
Smith, but she had disappeared around the carpet-sweepers, and he
followed Joe to the elevator and to the office.

Mr. Kingley looked up as they entered. "Huh!" he grunted, and they could
regard themselves as welcome or not as they pleased. Joe walked over
until he stood in front of the flat desk where Mr. Kingley would have to
look at him if he looked at anything.

"Mr. Kingley," he began, but Mr. Kingley preferred to lead the
discussion.

"Have you found our queen?" he asked, and there really was an interest,
an anxiety, in his voice.

"No, we haven't!" exclaimed Mr. Bill before Joe could gather breath to
repeat with crushing sarcasm the phrase "our queen" which so irritated
him. "Just for a moment, when we were at her old home, I had a hunch
that she might be hiding herself from those darned Sunshine Sons and
that she would think there would be no place as safe as her old job in
the Evergreen basement, but she isn't there."

"My soul!" interrupted Mr. Kingley, and his eyes fairly stood on his
cheeks. "Are you sure! That would make a striking story. The little
queen driven back to the Evergreen where she was found!" He smacked his
lips as he voiced the headline he quickly composed. "Are you sure,
Bill?" He hoped that Mr. Bill would not be sure.

"You don't think of anything but headlines, do you, Mr. Kingley?" Joe
broke in rudely. "You never think of Tessie as a young girl, a human
being? You only think of her as publicity for the Evergreen!"

"Well, but--but--" spluttered Mr. Kingley, staring at Joe indignantly.
Didn't Joe know that the welfare department of the Evergreen was the
best in the Northwest? That didn't look as if he failed to regard his
employees as human beings. As for publicity, even the Kingleys furnished
publicity for the Evergreen. Every time Mrs. Kingley went east or Ethel
had a friend in for a cup of tea, there was a notice in the _Gazette_.
To be sure, the notice did not always mention the Evergreen, but in the
Waloo mind, the name of Kingley meant Evergreen. The two were
synonymous. Joe should remember that. Really Joe was impossible. He
should remember all that Mr. Kingley had done for Tessie since she
became a queen, clothed her, introduced her to Waloo and aided her in
every way. He had a perfect right to be indignant at Joe and to glare at
him hotly.

"What I want to know is, how much the Evergreen is responsible for this
kidnaping?" went on Joe, as cold as Mr. Kingley was hot. They might have
been the two extremities of a dinner--hot soup and frozen pudding. Joe
did not seem to care a pin if Mr. Kingley did sputter and glare at him.

"Joe!" Both Mr. Kingley and Mr. Bill were on their feet and their
exclamations were full of genuine and righteous indignation.

"What do you mean?" Mr. Bill found his tongue first. "What do you mean,
Cary? What has father to do with the Sons of Sunshine?"

"That's what I want him to tell us," Joe said, while Mr. Kingley
continued to imitate a soda-water bottle. "There are things which must
be cleared up. I don't know much, but I suspect a lot." He turned his
back on the soda-water bottle and spoke directly to Mr. Bill. "You
remember the way your father acted when this darned news came to Tessie,
how he framed a big publicity campaign for the Evergreen, the exhibition
of the clothes he sold Tessie, the aluminum sale for the poor children
of the Sunshine Islands, the moving picture he had made of her, oh, the
whole business? It was all over the front page of the newspapers every
day. And it made the Evergreen famous from New York to San Francisco.
People who came to town asked the way to the Evergreen instead of to the
Art Museum or the new post office. It put the Evergreen on the world
map, and made it the most-talked-of store in the country. No matter what
came up, Mr. Kingley considered the Evergreen before he did Tessie. And
what I want to know now is how much of the thing is fake and how much is
true?"

"And what I want to know now," declared Mr. Bill standing shoulder to
shoulder with Joe and facing this choking parent, "is where Tessie
Gilfooly is. If half what Joe says is true, then you know where she is,
and you've got to tell me!"

Mr. Kingley turned his bulging eyes from one determined young face only
to see another determined young face. He could not entrench himself
behind glittering generalities another minute. They would know what he
knew, and he might as well tell them at once.

"Boys," he began slowly, "sit down and I'll tell you what I know. Sit
down!" he roared, as they failed to obey his first order but stood
facing him with a watchfulness which was very annoying. "You make me
nervous standing there, and looking at me as if I were a criminal. No,
Bill," as Mr. Bill impatiently shifted his weight from one brown shoe
to the other, "I don't know anything about the kidnaping of Miss
Gilfooly! But Joe is right in his statement that I made use of the
strange things that have happened here to advertise the Evergreen. I
only did what any red-blooded man would have done. It would have been
blind stupid folly to have refused to use such material. And a store
never had such publicity. Joe is right when he says the Evergreen is the
most famous store in the world. People do come from all over the
country, and our mail-order business is doubled, trebled, because of the
romance we found in our basement."

"Get down to brass tacks, Dad," rudely interrupted Mr. Bill. "Never mind
a speech. Just tell us in a few simple words whether you originated the
whole stunt? Are there any Sunshine Islands? Did Tessie Gilfooly ever
have an Uncle Pete? Did----"

"Bill!" exclaimed Mr. Kingley, looking incurably injured. "How can you
think that I would stoop to such unscrupulous methods!"

"But did you?" insisted Mr. Bill. He walked over to stand beside his
father as if to remind him that there might be more than one way to
obtain a direct answer to a simple question.

Before Mr. Kingley could say whether he did or didn't, Norah Lee burst
unceremoniously into the room.

"Oh, Mr. Kingley!" she exclaimed quickly. "Ka-kee-ta has come back! He
came half an hour ago, and he is perfectly furious because the queen and
the Tear of God have disappeared!"

"Ka-kee-ta!" The exclamation was an incredulous trio. The motif was full
of unbelief.

"Where has he been?" demanded Joe, one eye on Mr. Kingley and the other
on pink-cheeked, breathless Norah. "Where was he?"

"He doesn't seem to know," Norah said. She was eager to tell her story.
"He actually says he doesn't know. He went to get the chocolates for
Tessie, and when he came back, he had a five-pound box under his arm.
But where he was and what he was doing he can't, or won't say! He
mumbles a lot of native gibberish, but of course I can't understand
that. It's maddening! He declares he will find Tessie before night. And
Pracht, too. And he mumbles a lot about sharks!"

"He would!" muttered Joe, a puzzled frown cutting his forehead from his
face.

"I hope he does find her!" exclaimed Mr. Bill, staring at his father,
who seemed pleased that Ka-kee-ta had returned.

"Of course I'm not worried about Tessie since she telephoned that she
was all right," went on Norah. She could feel that there was a tension
in the office atmosphere, and as she did not understand it she talked
nervously. "I know she is all right, but----"

"How do you know she is all right?" burst forth Mr. Bill. "She may have
been forced to send that message. You don't know that she is all right
at all!" He contradicted Norah flatly and rudely.

Joe looked at him in surprise. "She was all right when she left the
cottage," he impatiently reminded Mr. Bill. "She was right enough to eat
some breakfast and change her clothes. Of course she is all right, and,"
he turned his eyes on Mr. Kingley, who squirmed uneasily. "I'm inclined
to think that Ka-kee-ta is right, that Tessie will be found before the
morning edition of the _Gazette_ goes to press. How about it, Mr.
Kingley? Do you agree with me?"

"I hope so. I sincerely hope so," stuttered Mr. Kingley, who found it
very disagreeable to be singled out as Joe had singled him. "I do hope
she will be found long before then."

"Ka-kee-ta's looking for her now," Norah went on. "He didn't wait a
second, but went off with the candy under one arm and his ax under the
other."

"Mr. Douglas wants to see Mr. Kingley," broke in the office boy from the
doorway.

"Douglas?" Mr. Kingley looked as if he had never heard of any Mr.
Douglas.

"Bert Douglas from Marvin, Phelps & Stokes," Mr. Bill told him. "Send
him in," he said to the boy. "Perhaps he can tell us something."

Bert came in with much dignity and importance. He glanced at the little
group--Norah and Mr. Bill and Joe--which had formed in front of Mr.
Kingley, and he explained at once why he was there.

"Mr. Marvin sent me over to tell you, Mr. Kingley, that the special
representative from the Sunshine Islands, Mr. Pitts, has arrived to
confer with Queen Teresa. As you have taken the queen under your
protection, he thought you should know at once."

There was not a sound, but the air was heavy with significance. They all
felt it. Joe Cary stepped forward.

"Then there really are Sunshine Islands?" He sounded as if he had never
really believed that there were any Sunshine Islands.

Bert looked at him in surprise. "Of course!" he said. "The special
representative is a white man--James Pitts. He has had charge of King
Pete's business affairs. He was on the islands when King Pete died, and
then, just as he was ready to leave, the radicals, Sons of Sunshine,
they call themselves, you know, locked him up. But he had sent Ka-kee-ta
with a lot of important papers to a lawyer in Honolulu, and the lawyer
brought him here. Pitts managed to escape and has just arrived. We were
glad to see him, for we had so many contradictory messages from him and
about him, that we scarcely knew what to think. I suppose they were
sent by the radicals."

Joe stared at him before he drew a long breath, and turned away. "Mr.
Kingley," he said impulsively, "I beg your pardon!"

"I should think you would," Mr. Kingley told him gruffly.

"All we have to do now," went on Bert, still rather overfull of
importance, "is to find Queen Teresa, and then we can settle everything
up. Mr. Marvin thought perhaps--" He looked suggestively at Mr. Kingley,
who hurriedly shook his head and fairly bellowed his reply.

"No, I don't! I don't know where she is! You go right back and tell Mr.
Marvin I don't know! This is all very interesting and very romantic, but
it doesn't do my work. If there is nothing I can do for you, I would
suggest that I have the morning mail to look over. Send in Miss Jenson,"
he curtly told the boy who ran in to answer his buzzer.

Joe, stalking out behind the others, could not refrain from a last word.
He would have choked if he had not spoken. "You mean Mr. Gray, don't
you?" He grinned sarcastically. "The _Gazette_ should be told of the
arrival of James Pitts, special representative of the Sunshine Islands,
whose queen was found in the basement of the Evergreen."

Mr. Kingley regarded him with cold eyes. "Will you kindly shut the door
behind you?" he said so frostily that any thermometer would have
registered his temperature as far, far below zero.



XXIV


They held a conference in the ante-room, Joe, Mr. Bill, Bert and Norah.

"This Pitts is a real man, is he, Bert?" asked Joe.

"I should say he was! Big as the side of a house and quicker than chain
lightning. He knew all about this Pracht brute and understood at once
why he stole the Gilfooly marriage record. He says the Sons of Sunshine
are only the tools of a syndicate that is trying to get possession of
the islands to sell them to Japan, so that Japan can have an aeroplane
base near the United States. Sounds like an old-fashioned melodrama,
doesn't it? The beautiful heroine and the wicked villain and
everything!"

"Everything but the noble hero," sighed Norah. "He should find the
queen. Poor little girl! I wonder where she is!"

"Poor Queen Teresa!" They all wondered.

"Say," exclaimed Mr. Bill suddenly. "I'm not satisfied! I'm going back
to the aluminum!" And he dashed into a descending elevator.

They were close at his heels, and when they left the cage at the
basement, they met Mr. Larsen waiting to go up. He put out his hand and
caught Mr. Bill's arm.

"Did you find the girl you were looking for?" he asked quickly. "You
were in such a hurry you didn't wait for me to remember that there was
another one. I sent her to the crockery!" He nodded toward the crockery
which was a neighbor of the hardware. "She was an old girl," he
explained, "and that was why----"

But Mr. Bill did not wait to hear "why," he was hurrying to a pile of
blue-and-white mixing bowls which half concealed a little clerk in the
required black sateen. Her back was toward them, but they could see that
her hair was pulled from her forehead into a tight knot at her neck and
that she wore big amber goggles. She looked as if she might be a near
relative to the Mary Smith they had found in the hardware. Joe Cary
shook his head. That girl wasn't Tessie. Here was just another
disappointment for Mr. Bill.

"He's only wasting time," Joe grumbled to Norah Lee, for if that girl
was Tessie of course Joe would recognize her at once, and Joe could not
see that she resembled Tessie in anything but size. Tessie never wore
her hair like that. And Tessie did not have amber goggles.

"I beg your pardon," Mr. Bill said breathlessly, when he reached the
black sateen back, "but would you be kind enough to remove your
glasses?" But before the girl could remove her glasses, before she
could do more than swing around and shrink away and blush and stammer,
he had her hands in his. "Tessie!" he cried. "Tessie Gilfooly! I knew
you were here!" His hands held her fingers tight as he repeated, "I knew
you were here!"

"Tessie!" It was plain that Joe had never really thought that she would
be there.

"Queen Teresa?" Bert peered over Joe's shoulder and wondered if this
odd-looking girl could be pretty Tessie Gilfooly.

"Oh, Tessie Gilfooly!" Norah was as sure as Mr. Bill. "We have been so
worried about you!"

"How did you know I was here?" Tessie tore off the disguising glasses
and let them see her big blue eyes.

"I knew!" Mr. Bill told her quickly. "I had a hunch you would feel safer
in your old job than anywhere else in Waloo. And you disguised yourself
as a salesgirl!" He laughed chokingly. "And came back right next to the
old job? That's a good one on Walker! He never recognized you?"

"You didn't recognize her at first, either, Mr. Bill," reminded the
mortified Mr. Walker, who was hovering near. "And the crockery isn't in
my department."

"I knew she was here!" declared Mr. Bill. "But it did take me a minute
or two to find her. I never thought she would hide herself behind amber
goggles. We hunted for you all night," he told Tessie simply.

Tessie flushed. "I'm sorry," she said just as simply. "I was so scared,
and so mad," she explained. And she told them how she had gone to find
Ka-kee-ta, and had been locked in an upstairs room in the old brick
house. And when she had escaped, owing to Joe's insistence on her
regular attendance at the Y. W. C. A. gymnasium classes, she had gone
back to the old home and fallen asleep. It was morning when she wakened,
and she had changed her clothes, found a nickel in the baking powder
can, and telephoned to Granny that she was all right. Then she had gone
to the Evergreen. "It was awfully good of Mr. Larsen to take me. I guess
he was short-handed. I knew no one would look for me here. And if I
pulled my hair back," she put her hand up and pulled her hair looser
around her face, "and put on these big amber glasses, I knew no one
would recognize me. And no one did!" she finished triumphantly.

"I did!" contradicted Mr. Bill proudly. "I recognized you!"

"I'm glad you did!" Tessie told him softly. "I'm glad you found me!" She
felt so safe with Mr. Bill. Mr. Bill would never let any one harm her.
She became aware that Mr. Bill was holding tight to her hand, and that
the people in the department, customers and clerks were staring at her.
She tried to release her fingers, but Mr. Bill would not let them go.

"What's this? What's this?" Mr. Kingley himself was coming toward them.
Customers and clerks fell back to make a gangway. "So Queen Teresa has
been found in the Evergreen basement a second time!" He smiled until he
saw Joe Cary, when he stopped smiling and looked as foolish and as
self-conscious as a fat, bald-headed, elderly man could look.

"A strange coincidence," Joe murmured impudently.

"Your special representative is here, Miss Gilfooly," exclaimed Bert,
eager for a portion of the Queen's attention. "Mr. Marvin sent me to
tell you. You can learn all about your kingdom now."

"Good gracious!" exclaimed Tessie. "I've almost decided I don't want a
kingdom! I don't know as I even want to be a queen! It's a lot safer to
be a salesgirl!" And she drew a long breath.

"That's the stuff, Tess!" indorsed Joe. "There isn't any place in the
world to-day for a queen!"

"Miss Gilfooly has no choice," broke in Mr. Kingley, turning his broad
back to Joe. "Her good fortune, as such things always are, is just an
accident of birth. And one cannot escape the duties to which one is
born. That is true of my son and it is true of Miss Gilfooly. Neither of
them can shirk the obligations which Providence has given them. I
should suggest," he added hastily, as he became aware of an increasing
audience, "that Mr. Douglas take Queen Teresa to see Mr. Pitts, so that
our business may be resumed. All of these good people," he smiled
benevolently on the good people, who were staring at him open-eyed and
open-mouthed, "wish to buy something."

"I'll take her!" Mr. Bill exclaimed jealously, and he still clung to
Tessie's little hand.

"We'll all go," suggested Joe. "You come too, Mr. Kingley?" he added
with unusual courtesy.

"I can't go like this," objected Tessie, looking scornfully at her black
frock and touching her hair with her free hand. "I'm a fright!"

"You're an angel!" contradicted Mr. Bill.

Norah slipped behind Tessie, and with magic fingers touched the little
knot at the back of Tessie's head. A miracle seemed to be performed
before their eyes, for the old Tessie came back to them with the
loosening of her yellow hair.

"Bless me!" murmured Mr. Kingley, as interested as he was surprised.

"It's easy for a girl to disguise herself with colored glasses and a new
way of doing her hair," laughed Tessie. Her cheeks were as pink as they
had been pale. "But shouldn't I go and put on some of my queen clothes?"
she asked anxiously. She wished to appear at her best before her special
representative.

"You look like an angel as you are!" declared Mr. Bill again, and his
voice shook. "Come along!"

A way opened through the crowd, and as Mr. Bill led the Queen away,
there was a cheer. Another voice, actually Mr. Walker's voice, took up
the shout, until the air was filled with, "Hurrah for Queen Teresa!
Hurrah for the Queen!" The sound was music to Mr. Kingley. It was as if
the Metropolitan Grand Opera company were there singing in his basement.
He turned to Joe. He could afford to be magnanimous.

"Queens may be out of place in the world, Joe," he said complacently,
"but the people still seem to like them!"

"Yes," remarked Joe with a grin, "people will always like a show." And
he added, as if he were reading Mr. Kingley's inner thoughts, "This is
another great day for the Evergreen, isn't it? You're coming with us,
Mr. Kingley? Tessie will want everything cleared up now."

"Of course I'm coming!" Mr. Kingley was a bit testy. "I just want to
speak to----"

"Mr. Gray?" suggested Joe with another grin.

"To send a message to Miss Gilfooly's grandmother," Mr. Kingley
corrected with great dignity. "I think she should know that the queen
has been found."



XXV


Mr. Bill hurried Tessie through the crowd and to his car. They both
thought of the day, over a month ago, when Tessie had learned that she
was a queen, and Mr. Bill had taken her to Marvin, Phelps & Stokes. And
now he was taking her to the lawyers' again. They smiled radiantly at
each other. How blue the sky was! How bright the sunshine!

"My word!" exclaimed Mr. Bill from the very depths of his honest heart.
"I'm glad I found you!"

"I'm glad, too," Tessie murmured shyly. "I made up my mind that I'd stay
in the Evergreen basement until the special representative came and made
the Sons of Sunshine behave themselves. I'm sorry you were worried," she
said apologetically. Indeed she was sorry that Mr. Bill had been
worried. The thought that Mr. Bill would worry about her sent a lump,
that almost choked her, into her throat.

"Worried!" The word was inadequate to express what Mr. Bill had
suffered. "Say," he said quickly, "when I heard you had been carried off
I--I--Oh, hang it all!" The eager expression slipped from his face, and
he drew back. "I wish you weren't a queen," he muttered discontentedly.

"What were you going to say?" asked Tessie eagerly. "Never mind the
queen business. I want to hear what you were going to say."

Mr. Bill looked at her flushed little face and into her starry blue
eyes, and he did not care a penny if she were a queen. She was the
dearest, the sweetest, the loveliest girl in the world. She was Tessie!
Tessie Gilfooly! He did not care a hang if she were also a queen. And he
did not care another hang if they were there by the curb with the noon
crowd moving up and down the sidewalk. He only remembered that Tessie
was there beside him, within reach of his hand, and that all night he
had been trying to find her, afraid for her. The words came in a great
rush. He could not have kept one of them back to save his life. Tessie
did not want him to keep them back--not one of them. Her ears were
hungry to hear them all. She colored enchantingly.

"I'm crazy about you!" Mr. Bill said thickly. "And when you were
kidnaped yesterday I nearly died! I would have died if you hadn't been
found. I know I would! I never felt about a girl as I do about you. I--I
don't feel complete unless you are with me. Oh, darn it! I wish you
weren't a queen!" He remembered what she was, and looked at her
helplessly, almost indignantly.

Tessie laughed softly, and the wild roses deepened in her cheeks. "I
don't!" she said firmly. "If I hadn't been a queen, you never, never
would have seen me! You never did see me until that day, and all the
time I was crazy about you. The first day I went to the Evergreen was
the first day you were there, and Mr. Walker took you around and showed
you everything. I thought you were the most wonderful man in the world!
But you never looked at me! You never saw me until I was a queen! I
should say I was glad that Uncle Pete died and sent Ka-kee-ta to find
me!" she finished breathlessly.

"You darling! You honey-girl!" Mr. Bill fought valiantly the impulse to
take her in his arms and kiss her and kiss her right in the face of the
moving noon throng. "And you really do like me?" He wanted to hear her
say again that he was the most wonderful man in the world.

"I'm crazy about you!" Tessie repeated happily.

"My word!" He stared at her. "And I'm crazy about you! Can you believe
it? I don't know how this is going to end," he said firmly, "but I know
this much--I'm not going to give you up to any Sunshine Islands! You
belong to me!" He held fast to what belonged to him and grinned.

"That's the wonderful part!" Tessie sighed with ecstasy, her heart
beating so fast that she could scarcely find breath to go on. "That I
belong to you, and you belong to me! I--I can't make it seem true! It's
far more amazing than that I'm a queen!"

The word reminded them that they were on the way to meet the queen's
special representative. They never would meet him if they remained in
front of the Evergreen. Mr. Bill reluctantly touched a button, and they
shot forward just as a man, a _Gazette_ reporter, recognized Tessie. He
raised a cheer.

"Oh!" Tessie looked back and waved her hand before she turned her
glowing face to Mr. Bill. "Can you believe it? Isn't this the most
wonderful world?"

Eventually they joined the others in Mr. Marvin's office. Not only were
Joe, Norah, Bert and Mr. Kingley seated around Mr. Marvin's desk, but
there was another man there, a big broad-shouldered man with a sunburned
face, and beside him stood Ka-kee-ta, and clutched tight in Ka-kee-ta's
right hand was the sleeve of Frederic Pracht. Mr. Pracht stood leaning
against the wall, a cynical smile on his face.

As Tessie came in, all rosy apology, Ka-kee-ta gave a roar and rushed
forward dragging Mr. Pracht with him, and whether he wanted to or not,
Mr. Pracht had to make obeisance to the queen.

"Hang it all!" he muttered angrily. "Let me go!"

"Yes, Ka-kee-ta, let him go," ordered Mr. Marvin, as Tessie gave a
little shriek when she saw who had been forced to bend before her.

But it was not until James Pitts uttered a few curt words in an unknown
tongue that Ka-kee-ta released his prisoner. Mr. Pracht stumbled to his
feet and withdrew to a corner, where he stood brushing his clothes with
a hand that would shake. He knew very well that it would not be wise for
him to take another step. He had gone as far as he could.

"Why, Ka-kee-ta!" Tessie patted her bodyguard on the shoulder. "Where
were you? I was so worried about you? And how did you find Mr. Pracht?"

"I think I can tell you that better than Ka-kee-ta," said Mr. Pitts, and
he came forward to shake Tessie's little hand. "Glad to meet you," he
said formally before he began his story. "I was on my way to Mr.
Marvin's office yesterday when I met Ka-kee-ta in front of a candy
store. I took him back to the Pioneer to ask him about things and
detained him so late that I persuaded him to sleep on the floor of my
room instead of returning to disturb you. He never would have left you
for a moment if he had known that the Sons of Sunshine had threatened
you. As for Pracht, he came to see me this morning to try and make a
deal for the islands. He was there when Ka-kee-ta came back to tell me
that Miss Gilfooly had disappeared. We suspected that Pracht knew
something about the kidnaping, and Ka-kee-ta grabbed him. As long as no
harm has been done and you are safe, I would suggest that Pracht be
released. He is only the tool of a man who is known in the islands as
the Shark. The Shark planned to make a fortune by selling the islands to
Japan, and he organized the Sons of Sunshine to cause dissension among
the people, and influence them to refuse to accept a white queen. He
sent Pracht here to oppose you, and to get the Tear of God, which means
everything to the islanders. No one could expect to influence them
unless he had the Tear of God. But the Sons of Sunshine turned against
the Shark. He was killed in the fight which liberated me, and without
him, Pracht is harmless. He did not know of the Shark's death until I
told him. Let him go," he advised curtly.

"Wait a minute," exclaimed Mr. Kingley. "Before he goes, I want to know
why he used my car to kidnap the queen?" And he glared at Mr. Pracht.

"Because Miss Gilfooly knew your car and would get into it when she was
told," Mr. Pracht explained in a voice which was very different from the
domineering tones he had used to Tessie. "We had expected to go to the
hotel and ask her to come to Mrs. Kingley, but when we picked her up in
the street, it was easy. We didn't hurt her!" he added hurriedly.

"No, you didn't hurt her. You didn't dare!" Mr. Pitts told him coldly.
"You can go!"

Mr. Pracht did not wait to hear another word. He was glad to go, and he
slid out of the door like a brown-and-green snake.

"Goodness gracious!" exclaimed Tessie, who was not at all sure that she
liked to have Mr. Pitts issue orders and let a brown-and-green snake
loose.

"His methods were clumsy," Mr. Pitts said flatly, "from the beginning
when he stole the records from the Mifflin court house. And they were
clumsy when he had his native servant ransack your house for the Tear of
God. The fellow was knocked on the head by Ka-kee-ta who was prowling
around to see you, Miss Gilfooly, and who was frightened at what he had
done and ran away. It was clumsy of Pracht to think that he could steal
the jewel from you at the Evergreen banquet, where he acted as a waiter.
And clumsier still to threaten you as he did and to kidnap you. That
must have been his servant at the window when you thought you saw
Ka-kee-ta. Pracht should have used a little tact. Tact is far more
necessary than force in negotiations of this sort." He looked at Tessie
and nodded his head to assure her that he had no intention of using
force. Tact was the weapon that he would always use.

There was a slight pause which Mr. Kingley broke with a cough. The
cough might have been a signal for, as soon as he heard it, Mr. Marvin
looked at Mr. Pitts.

"If you have brought information from the Sunshine Islands for Queen
Teresa, you might give it to her now," he said. "We are all her
friends." And he smiled at Her Majesty.

"Oh, yes!" breathed Queen Teresa on pins and needles to hear about the
Sunshine Islands. She regarded her friends with shining eyes. They were
friends to be very proud of, every one of them.

Mr. Pitts let his glance roam from one to another also, and his shaggy
brows drew together until they made a black line above his keen
penetrating eyes.

"I find," he began slowly, carefully weighing each word before he
offered it to Tessie and her friends, "that you have no idea of what the
Sunshine Islands actually are. You seem to regard them as you would
England or any other European kingdom. Of course a king is a king, or in
this case, I should say a queen is a queen, but there is a difference
between a first-rate power and a group of Pacific islands. I understand
from Ka-kee-ta that you have looked upon Miss Gilfooly as you would upon
Queen Mary, for instance, and I am afraid that you have prepared her for
nothing but disappointment."

Tessie's heart jumped into her mouth. Wasn't she a queen then, after
all? Her face, which had been as pink as a rose, turned as white as the
flower on Mr. Marvin's desk.

Joe Cary gave a low whistle. "I thought so!" he exclaimed, and he glared
at Mr. Kingley.

No one paid any attention to him. Every one was too interested in Mr.
Pitts and his words to have even a small portion of interest for
whistling Joe Cary.

"I don't understand," went on Mr. Pitts even more carefully, "why you
thought best to shower Miss Gilfooly with such royal honors and
homage--just why you took that point of view--" he hesitated again.

"You tell us, Mr. Kingley," begged Joe. "You tell us how that mistake
was made."

Mr. Kingley flushed and eyed Joe as if he wished that Joe were where he
belonged--behind a drawing-board in the advertising department of the
Evergreen--instead of in the office of Marvin, Phelps & Stokes, heckling
the owner of the Evergreen.

"I happened to be with Mr. Marvin, when he received the papers from the
Honolulu lawyer who brought Ka-kee-ta here," he said a little
reluctantly, although the reluctance disappeared as he told his story.
"They said that the King of the Sunshine Islands--I remember that the
word king was distinctly used--had died and made the eldest child of his
brother, John Gilfooly of Waloo, his heir. I knew that there was a Miss
Gilfooly on the Evergreen pay roll. The name had been unusual enough to
attract my attention. And it occurred to me if that Gilfooly should
prove to be the heir, she would be a queen and we could obtain some
mighty effective publicity for the Evergreen. Business had been dull, we
were feeling the general depression, and we needed something to boost
trade. Mr. Marvin has been my friend for many years, and he consented to
let me use the information. I don't see yet that any harm has been
done," he told Joe defiantly.

"I don't either," murmured Tessie, with a shy glance at Mr. Bill, who
looked at her anything but shyly.

Mr. Kingley regarded Tessie with hearty approval before he went on. "Mr.
Marvin's man located the eldest child of John Gilfooly in Miss Teresa
Gilfooly, who sold aluminum in the Evergreen basement. We arranged to
notify her of her good fortune while she was at work, and naturally I
made the most of the story. And no one can say I haven't treated Miss
Gilfooly like a queen!" He dared Joe to say it. "I confess that I used
the romantic and dramatic events which followed to benefit the
Evergreen, but any man would have done that if he was any kind of a
business man at all. I even helped Miss Gilfooly raise a large fund for
the poor children of the islands," he boasted.

"There are no poor in the Sunshine Islands!" Mr. Pitts spoke
indignantly. "Every one is rich and happy there, for people are rich and
happy when they have all they want. They may not have much, but they
have what they want, and I guess that is all any of us work for. I
suppose this is a disappointment to you, Miss Gilfooly?" He turned to
Tessie with kindly concern.

"No," she told him a little slowly. "It isn't exactly. You see, I know
something about these Sons of Sunshine! and when I was kidnaped, I did a
lot of thinking I hadn't had time to do before. I remembered what
happens to kings and queens when the people don't want them. Joe Cary
had told me all about that. I'm not sure I want to be a queen and
perhaps some day find myself in boiling oil." She shuddered. "Mr. Pracht
said that was what they do in the Sunshine Islands when they don't like
their kings."

"It has been done," admitted Mr. Pitts, "but not lately. I think you are
right. You wouldn't be happy in the Islands. According to their laws, a
queen from another tribe, which is what you would be, must marry the
most powerful man on the islands."

"Oh!" Tessie's eyes grew so big and round that there seemed to be
nothing in her face but two big blue eyes. "I couldn't do that! I never
could do that!" And she looked appealingly at Mr. Bill.

"No, of course you couldn't. And you couldn't stay on the Islands
twenty-four hours unless you did. Here is a shot I took at the man you
would have to marry, if you remain the queen." He handed Tessie a
photograph of a big strapping native, who looked enough like Ka-kee-ta
to be his twin brother. He had the same frizzled hair, the same tattooed
nose.

Tessie turned away from it with a shriek and a shudder. "I never could!
Never!" she declared. "I couldn't ever marry any one but----"

"Me!" interrupted Mr. Bill proudly. Mr. Bill was immensely pleased with
Mr. Pitts' report of the Sunshine Islands. It promised to remove many of
the difficulties from the path which led to Tessie. "Perhaps this isn't
the time to speak of it, but you might as well know that Miss Gilfooly
is going to marry me some day soon."

There was a gasp and a gurgle from Mr. Kingley. He stumbled to his feet
and stared at his son and then at his former employee. He was unable to
utter one of the words which rushed to his lips. He could only stare at
his son, and wonder what on earth his son's mother would say.

"Ye gods!" he heard Joe Cary explain. "Here is publicity! The Queen of
the Sunshine Islands and the heir of the Evergreen! People will eat up
such a story. You'll double your sales again, Mr. Kingley!"

Norah Lee looked at Joe, and then she looked at Tessie, and then back
to Joe, as if she were surprised to hear him speak so lightly of Tessie
marrying any one. Her face flushed suddenly, and she ran to Tessie and
kissed her.

"I'm so glad," she whispered. "I knew Mr. Bill was crazy about you."

"And did you know I was crazy about Mr. Bill?" whispered Tessie, all
aquiver with ecstasy. "Isn't he wonderful!"

"Old Bill stole a march on us," grumbled Bert Douglas. "He had you
branded before the rest of us had a chance," he told Tessie
discontentedly.

"I think you are very wise, Miss Gilfooly." Mr. Pitts seemed as pleased
as any of the group. "You will be far happier as the wife of a young
American than of Ti-ta there." He nodded toward the snapshot which lay
face up on Mr. Marvin's desk.

"My goodness!" shivered Tessie. "I should think I would! But what will
become of Ka-kee-ta if I marry Mr. Bill? I shan't want Ka-kee-ta around
then."

"I'll take him and the Tear of God back to the islands," offered Mr.
Pitts. "And I'll guarantee you a wedding present such as Waloo has never
seen."

"And we'll exhibit it at the Evergreen!" Mr. Kingley did not care if Joe
Cary did laugh. "People will want to see it."

"Then I am to understand you will renounce your rights to the islands?"
Mr. Pitts asked, so that he would know exactly what he was to
understand. "I doubt if you really have any legal claim to them. I doubt
if Pete Gilfooly had the right to leave them to any one. His private
fortune, something over a hundred thousand----"

"A hundred thousand!" cried Mr. Kingley. "I thought it was millions!" He
glared at Mr. Pitts as if he suspected that Mr. Pitts had secreted the
millions.

"A hundred thousand," repeated Mr. Pitts firmly. "Money isn't worth what
it was in the islands. It isn't worth what it was anywhere. Look at the
German mark and the French franc! Look at the Russian ruble! Look at the
American dollar! The Shark asked millions from the Japanese, but I told
you what happened to him. No, Pete Gilfooly left a hundred thousand
dollars, and they are safe in a Honolulu bank, subject to Miss
Gilfooly's orders. That money was his, no matter how he made it, and he
could leave it where he pleased. But the Sunshine Islands are different.
And the Tear of God is different, too. Whether you have any right to it
or not, you have possession of it, and the people want it back. They are
prepared to pay a good price for it, because they believe that
misfortune will come to the islands if it isn't brought back. They are
childishly superstitious. Any one who has the Tear of God can influence
them. That is why Pracht kidnaped Miss Gilfooly. But even if she has the
Tear of God, Miss Gilfooly couldn't govern those islands. That's a man's
job and it should be a Sunshine Islander's job. I think the offer is a
fair one, and I can promise you that the islands will never become the
property of any foreign power. They will remain in the possession of the
people--an independent people!" he added impressively.

"He's right!" Joe Cary told Tessie eagerly. "You'll be a lot happier if
you stop thinking any more about this queen business, and plan to settle
down with Mr. Bill in a flat here in Waloo."

"I know," murmured Tessie, all aglow at the thought of a flat in Waloo
with Mr. Bill. It would be heaven! And then, strangely enough, she had
to remember what Mr. Kingley had said about the duties and
responsibilities to which Providence had called her and Mr. Bill. Mr.
Bill could look after his duties from a flat in Waloo, but what about
her responsibilities? Could she put them aside, just because the Waloo
flat would be heaven? The Sunshine Islands were hers. They had been left
to her by her Uncle Pete. She didn't care what Mr. Pitts said. And
anyway, Mr. Pitts sounded a lot like Mr. Pracht, they both wanted to
take her islands from her. Perhaps there were moments when it was
unpleasant to be a queen, but there were also moments when it was
pleasant. And the islands were hers! The blood of the fighting Gilfoolys
began to stir in her veins.

Mr. Pitts playing with the snapshot of Ti-ta turned it toward her. It
gave her the horrors just to look at the pictured face. Oh, dear! She
did want to continue to be a queen, but she did not want to pay the
price for the honor, if Mr. Pitts was right about the price. But was he?
Would she have to marry that horror to remain a queen? She looked at Mr.
Pitts suspiciously. Mr. Pitts was supposed to be her representative--her
special representative--but he talked as if he were the counsel for the
islands. He did not seem to be thinking of her at all.

"Then I am to understand," Mr. Pitts said a second time, and in a most
ingratiating manner, "that you will resign your claim to the Sunshine
Islands?"

His insistence made him more than ever like the detestable Mr. Pracht.
Tessie tossed her head indignantly. What was there about her islands
that everybody should try to take them from her? Resign! She would not
resign anything until she knew, and even when she knew, she would resign
nothing until she was ready. She was a queen, and she would keep her
kingdom until she was thoroughly ready to give it up. She didn't care
what this horrid Mr. Pitts said or what Joe Cary said. And she would
keep Mr. Bill, too! The fighting blood of the Gilfoolys was in full
command, but before she could muster her indignant thoughts into orderly
sentences, which would explain her decision, Mr. Kingley had something
to say. Mr. Kingley seemed as opposed to Mr. Pitts as Tessie was.

"Not so fast! Not so fast!" he cautioned. "Kingdoms aren't resigned as
easily nor as quickly as that. It doesn't seem wise to me, a business
man, for Queen Teresa to give up her rights until she knows what they
are. I should advise her to visit the Sunshine Islands before she
decides to give them to any one."

"Oh!" Tessie was aghast. "I never could put my foot on them! I wouldn't
dare!" And although she was a Gilfooly and therefore brave as a lion,
she was inconsistent enough to look piteously at Mr. Bill. Surely he
would not want her to visit islands inhabited by cannibals.

"You see!" murmured Mr. Pitts, with a shrug of his broad shoulders.

"I should further suggest," went on Mr. Kingley, who seemed full of
helpful suggestions, "that, as the queen is to marry my son, the visit
to the islands might be a feature of their wedding trip."

"Gosh!" muttered Joe Cary, visualizing the headlines which such a
wedding trip would produce in every newspaper.

"Oh!" exclaimed Tessie, but it was a very different "Oh" from the one
she had uttered before. What a wonderful man old Mr. Kingley was! With
Mr. Bill beside her, she would not be afraid if all six islands were
covered with cannibals. She looked at Mr. Bill, her face all pink
dimples.

"Now that," exclaimed Mr. Bill enthusiastically, "is a real idea!" He
caught Tessie's hand and squeezed it.

But Mr. Pitts shook his head. "You would never be allowed to land," he
prophesied.

"Well," exclaimed Tessie stubbornly, "I'm not going to give up my
islands until I've seen them!" Mr. Kingley's suggestion was proving more
alluring to her every minute.

Mr. Pitts sighed and settled himself for a long argument. He took great
pains to hold the picture of Ti-ta so that Tessie would have to look at
the tattooed face.

Tessie turned away from it. "And if I'm married to Mr. Bill," her voice
shook with ecstasy at the thought, "I couldn't marry that man!"

"The islands would never recognize your marriage to any man but Ti-ta,"
Mr. Pitts insisted. "You would have to marry him or resign your claims.
I am sorry that you don't like my suggestion. It was made to help you. I
know what the islands are. I know how Pete Gilfooly managed to hold
them. They are no place for a white woman!" And he told them more about
the islands, and the barbarous customs of the natives, whom Pete
Gilfooly had never been able to civilize, even if he had built them a
church and a moving-picture theater. He made Tessie's warm blood run
cold, and even Mr. Kingley shook his head.

"Why they're nothing but savages!" Mr. Kingley exclaimed in disgust.

"That's what I have been telling you," Mr. Pitts said patiently. "They
have no respect or consideration for women. Miss Gilfooly, even if she
is the queen, would be only Ti-ta's slave. She would be just one of his
wives!"

"I wouldn't!" cried Tessie, fiercely indignant at such a statement. "I
wouldn't marry anybody ever but Mr. Bill! And if those Sunshine Island
people don't want me to be their queen, why I don't owe them anything!"
She had suddenly made an amazing discovery. "I haven't any obligation to
them at all!" Of course she hadn't! Mr. Kingley could talk about the
responsibilities Providence had given her if he wanted to, but even Mr.
Kingley should see that she owed nothing to a people who refused to let
her take the responsibilities. "I'm glad I had the islands, that I was
their queen," she went on eagerly, "for they brought me and Mr. Bill
together, but now that we are together, I don't want them! Not for a
minute! I think they're horrid! I wouldn't live where men can have
half-a-dozen wives!"

"But--" began Mr. Kingley feebly.

He had never had anything to do with a royal abdication before, but he
felt that this was not the way one should properly be managed. Surely
there must be a system for such an affair.

Tessie stamped her foot. "Please, please don't make any more
objections!" she begged. "If you were a girl, and had to choose between
splendid Mr. Bill and that tattooed horror, you wouldn't hesitate a
second, no matter how many kingdoms were thrown in with the native. I'd
rather marry Mr. Bill than have a dozen kingdoms! I would!" she repeated
defiantly. "I'm like Joe Cary," she even dared to say to purpling Mr.
Kingley. "I've learned that women are of far more use to the world than
queens."

"Good for you, Tess!" applauded Joe Cary.

"But--" Mr. Kingley began again ever more feebly.

"And anyway," went on Tessie, the words coming in an impetuous rush,
"this is my kingdom, and if I want to give it back to the people I can!
Can't I?" She appealed to Mr. Bill. "You would just as soon I wouldn't
be a queen, wouldn't you?"

"I'd rather!" he told her honestly. "I'd a lot rather have you just
little Tessie Gilfooly. I've told you more than once that I wished you
weren't a queen."

Tessie drew a long breath and smiled radiantly at Mr. Bill. It pleased
her enormously to hear that he liked her better as Tessie Gilfooly. But
when she looked at Mr. Kingley she sighed. "I wish you did, too," she
said wistfully. She could not be quite happy without Mr. Kingley's
approval. "I wish you didn't want me to keep on being a queen."

Before Mr. Kingley could tell her how much better it was in his
estimation for her to remain a queen, the door opened, and Mr. Phelps
came in with a newspaper which he placed before Mr. Marvin.

"The noon edition of the _Gazette_," he explained importantly, and he
looked curiously at Tessie. "I thought you should see this at once." And
he pointed to an item in the upper left-hand corner of the folded sheet.

Mr. Marvin looked at the big headline. "Upon my word!" he exclaimed in
astonishment. "A tidal wave has washed over the Sunshine Islands and
destroyed two of them. Here is a dispatch from Honolulu that on the
twenty-third of the month, a tidal wave swept over the Sunshine Islands
and destroyed two of them!"

"Well, I'll be darned!" exclaimed Mr. Bill, the first to find his voice,
and he put his arm around Tessie and held her tight, as if to make sure
that she would not be swept away from him.

"A tidal wave!" cried Tessie, and she looked almost suspiciously at Mr.
Pitts, as if she suspected that he had had something to do with the
tidal wave. "Do they have those on the islands, too?" There seemed to be
no end to the disagreeable things that could happen on the Sunshine
Islands.

"Occasionally," mumbled Mr. Pitts, as he snatched the paper from Mr.
Marvin and read the dispatch himself. "There used to be twelve islands
in the group, but six of them have been destroyed by tidal waves. The
last was in 1853 when the smallest, Ki-yu-hi, was swept away. I must
cable Honolulu!" And he hurried from the room, Ka-kee-ta at his heels.

Tessie turned to Mr. Kingley. "Just suppose we had gone there on our
wedding trip, Mr. Bill and I, and we had been swept away by a tidal
wave!" she said, her face white at the mere thought. "How would you feel
then? I shouldn't think you would want us to have anything to do with
such a place."

"Well, well," muttered Mr. Kingley, somewhat dazed by the calamity in
the Pacific Ocean. "I'm glad your uncle's money was banked in Honolulu.
I guess this Pitts is right and those islands aren't any place for a
white woman," he admitted slowly.

"Then, that's settled!" Tessie reached forward and patted his hand. "I'm
glad you agree with us at last. But isn't it awful to have two whole
islands destroyed like that? It wasn't my fault, was it? Nobody can
blame me, can they? Even if I did have the Tear of God?" She snatched
the royal jewel from her bag where she had tucked it when she came to
the office, and threw it on the desk, as if it burned her fingers. "Do
you suppose the islands were destroyed because Ka-kee-ta brought that to
me? Do you suppose the people were right when they said misfortune would
come to them if the Tear of God wasn't brought back?" Her face was quite
white and her eyes full of awed fear. "I--I never want to see it again!"
she gasped. "I think those islands are awful! If you aren't killed by
savages, you're drowned by tidal waves!" She turned away from the royal
pearl with horror.

"I'll take care of it for you," suggested Mr. Kingley, taking it in his
hand. "I'll keep it in the store vault." He felt that something should
be saved for Tessie from the wreck of her kingdom.

But Tessie shook her head. "I'll give it to Ka-kee-ta," she insisted,
"and he can take it back to the islands, and maybe the rest of them will
be saved; maybe then there won't be any more tidal waves."

"Sure, you can give it to Ka-kee-ta," Mr. Bill promised her. "I'll be
glad to have him take it away from Waloo. I don't want him around,
either. He'll be better off with Mr. Pitts. Mr. Pitts seems to
understand natives. And some day I'll give you a string of real
pearls."

"That's what I'd like!" Tessie was tearfully grateful. "Oh, what will
Granny say?" she exclaimed suddenly. "I must go and tell her about the
tidal wave and everything!"



XXVI


"Are you surprised?" Norah asked Joe as they went down in the elevator.
She looked at Joe curiously, for there was a broad grin on Joe's face,
and a grin was not what Norah expected him to wear under the
circumstances. She would have said that a sad and sorry countenance was
more befitting the occasion. But Joe looked anything but sad and sorry.
Indeed, he was so jubilant that Norah borrowed some of his triumphant
satisfaction and smiled, too.

He hesitated. "No," he said slowly, "I'm not surprised, although I don't
know whether you refer to Tessie's engagement to Mr. Bill, or to Mr.
Kingley's successful publicity campaign or to the loss of two of the
Sunshine Islands?"

"I meant Tessie's engagement!" She was surprised that he did not
understand which was the most important of the three events he
mentioned. "I thought you were rather fond of our little queen,
yourself," she said with the frank interest which was Norah Lee. There
was an odd little breathlessness in her voice as she asked the question,
and she watched his face with eager eyes.

Joe laughed carelessly. "Our little queen!" He ironically repeated the
phrase which had been so often on the lips of Mr. Kingley. "Of course
I'm fond of her. She has been like a sister to me. And she used to make
me furious, when she was so unhappy, because she couldn't have
everything that Ethel Kingley had, and yet she never would do anything
to boost herself. She wouldn't do anything but grumble to poor old
Granny. I used to talk to her like a Dutch uncle, and a fat lot of good
it did until this jolt came. Now she has had a chance to see that it
isn't enough to be rich and powerful--to have things. Tessie knows now
that it takes more than power and riches to make a girl happy."

"That's right," agreed Norah quickly, and now she looked as jubilant as
Joe had looked. "A girl does have to have more than things. She has to
have love. I never used to believe that, but I know now it's true. Isn't
it romantic?" she hurried on, as Joe started to ask her how she knew
about love now. "Mr. Bill and the queen who was once a shopgirl! And all
the time she was a shopgirl, Mr. Bill never saw her. Not until she was a
queen!" It almost seemed as if she blamed Mr. Bill for such poor
eyesight in regard to shopgirls.

"More credit to him!" declared Joe warmly. "I've always thought it was
fine in Bill that he never saw the girls who work in the store. If he
had run around after Tessie, I would have known he was a bad egg, but
now-- You see, living at her house as I did, I felt as if she were a
sister. I don't mind telling you that there was a time when I might have
cared for her more than a fellow does care for a sister, but when this
queen business came up I found I didn't. It showed me the girl I really
did care for. Want to hear about her?" He asked in a most friendly
fashion, and with a pleased chuckle which made her look at him quickly.
There was a flush on his face and a light in his eyes she had never seen
there before. They made her almost afraid to hear about this girl Joe
really cared for, but she nodded bravely.

"Of course!" And there was just as much friendliness in her voice as
there had been in Joe's--no more and no less. But the color slipped from
her cheeks and left them rather white, and there was a puzzled
expression in her eyes. "Of course, I've discovered I'm old-fashioned
enough to adore romance."

"This romance isn't finished yet," Joe told her. His voice was not as
confident as it had been. It was just a bit husky and anxious. "The
heroine worked in the Evergreen, too. She was in the advertising
department, and she used to agree with old Kingley that everything was
publicity that came to the store."

"In the advertising department!" interrupted Norah, and all the pretty
color rushed back to her cheeks, and her eyes danced. "Do I know her?"
she demanded. "I used to work in the advertising department of the
Evergreen, too, you know."

"Sure you know her. You see her every day. I used to think my girl was
all for business and getting on, that she considered ambition and
success as the only things that counted. But since I've seen her trying
to help an ignorant little girl, and being kind and sympathetic to an
old woman, why I know she's got a heart so big that it can hold more
than ambition and success. Oh, what's the use of beating about the bush?
You know I mean you! I hope you care for me, but if you don't to-day you
will to-morrow. I'm a persevering cuss, and I usually get what I want."

"And what do you want?" asked Norah, and the corners of her mouth danced
with her eyes. She tried hard to look only politely interested, but she
just succeeded in looking eager to have him put his want in plain words.

"You," he said bluntly, "Tessie's a kid. She'll never grow up. She'll be
some one for Bill to pet and play with all of his life. But I don't want
a plaything. I want a woman for my mate, a woman who will help me do my
share of the world's work and will let me help her do her share. I want
more than a wife. I want a comrade! How about it?" Casual as the words
were, Joe's voice was not casual. It held a deep note which thrilled
Norah through and through and made her put her hand quickly into his.

"That's what counts," she whispered. "Understanding, comradeship. They
mean as much as love, and when you have comradeship and love you are
with the stars. We'll help each other," she promised with sweet
solemnity.

"Here, what do you mean by holding up the traffic?" exclaimed Mr. Bill,
who had remained behind with Tessie for a short consultation with Mr.
Marvin, and who found them lingering flushed and important in the
corridor. "Come on and help us tell Granny that her queen has
abdicated."

"And Johnny, the Boy Scout," added Joe. "Johnny will take the news hard.
He had great ideas about changing the cannibals into Scouts. He confided
to me that just because there never had been a Scoutmaster as young as
he is was no reason why there never would be one. It will take some tact
to break the news to Johnny."

It took no tact at all to break it to Granny. She took off her glasses
and looked at Tessie.

"My soul and body!" she murmured. "And you had to marry a man like
Ka-kee-ta? I'm glad you said you wouldn't! And just imagine living where
you could be drowned any minute! You did exactly right, Tessie! You'll
be much safer and happier right here in Waloo, where we know what to
expect." She was silent for a moment and then she added slowly, "the
good Lord never forgets the Gilfoolys!"

"Oh come, Granny," objected Joe. "Don't tell me you think the Lord
destroyed two perfectly good islands, and nobody knows how many people,
to keep Tessie Gilfooly from making a fool of herself!"

"They were savages, Joe," corrected Granny. "Poor, ignorant savages, not
much more than animals, to look at Ka-kee-ta and hear him talk. I'm
sorry for him, but I can't help feeling more comfortable about Tessie.
And, when you think of all the troubles those poor natives might have
had--famine and smallpox and revolution--I guess a tidal wave was easy
for them. I haven't liked much I heard about that kingdom of yours after
I got over being proud to think you were a queen, Tessie, and if you had
to marry a tattooed black man to keep it, I think you did exactly right
to give it back. I expect we'll be a lot happier without any thrones in
the family. There won't be any more kidnaping, and I shan't have to stay
dressed up all the time. We can take it easy again, thank the good Lord!
And you're going to marry Mr. Bill, Tessie? Can you believe it? You're a
good lad, aren't you, Mr. Bill?" She looked questioningly into Mr.
Bill's radiant face.

He stammered something, and Granny nodded her head.

"Well, well," she said. "To think of little Tessie Gilfooly marrying the
big Evergreen! That means more to me than to hear you were queen of a
lot of cannibals, away off in the Pacific Ocean. We've seen the
Evergreen and know what it is! But Ka-kee-ta and his ax weren't a good
advertisement for the islands. Well, well, I wonder what Mrs. Scanlon'll
say now! She's been snooping around all morning, wanting to know if we
were back for good and saying she was glad her Lil was satisfied to be a
good stenographer and didn't aim to be what she couldn't be. I wonder
what she'll say when she hears you're going to marry the Evergreen!
Well, well! I guess we'd all better have a cup of coffee and steady our
nerves after what we been through. And, Tessie, you'd better change your
dress. I like you to look like a queen so long's you got the clothes.
This has been good for Tessie," she confided to the others as Tessie
tore her hand from Mr. Bill, and obediently ran up the narrow stairs.

"It's good for any girl to think she is a queen for a while. And she
don't have to be told she's queen of any cannibal islands, either. It's
enough for a girl to know she's queen of a good man's heart."

"You are!" Granny caught Norah in a warm embrace. Granny did not seem at
all surprised to hear what Norah was, but she did seem pleased.

"You see, the Lord has been good to the Carys as well as to the
Gilfoolys," grinned Joe, and he put his arm around the two women.

"Well, well!" Granny put Norah away so that she could look into her
shining face. "All I can say is you're a lucky girl. Joe Cary's been a
good friend, and he'll make a good husband. I know!" And she looked at
Norah and then at Joe, as if indeed she did know.

"Not as good as Mr. Bill!" declared Tessie from the doorway. She was
breathless with the haste she had made, but she looked more familiar to
them now in her crepe frock than she had in the shabby black sateen.
"Mr. Bill is going to make the best husband in the world!" she told
Granny confidently, as she slipped her fingers into Mr. Bill's waiting
hand.

"You darling!" exclaimed Mr. Bill chokingly, and he put out his arm and
drew her closer. "You darling Tessie Gilfooly!" And he kissed her warm
red lips.

Granny smiled at them and at Joe and Norah. "What a grand thing that
would be," she said slowly, "if all the men would try to be the best
husbands in the world, and all the girls would try to be the best wives
in the world. I guess then we wouldn't have no divorces. H--sh! Is that
Johnny in the pantry?" Her keen ears had caught the rattle of crockery.
"Who's going to tell him that some of the Sunshine Islands have been
washed away by a tidal wave? Who's going to tell him that Tessie's given
back her kingdom and now the islands'll never have Boy Scouts?"



       *       *       *       *       *

_Novels for Cheerful Entertainment_

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GALUSHA THE MAGNIFICENT

_By Joseph C. Lincoln_

_Author of "Showings," "The Portygee," etc._

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A happy story about American young people. The appealing qualities of a
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IN BLESSED CYRUS

_By Laura E. Richards_

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The quaint, quiet village of Cyrus, with its whimsical villagers, is
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HELEN OF THE OLD HOUSE

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THE COVERED WAGON

By EMERSON HOUGH, Author of "The Magnificent Adventure," "The Story of
the Cowboy," etc.

A novel of the first water, clear and clean, is this thrilling story of
the pioneers, the men and women who laid the foundation of the great
west.


HOMESTEAD RANCH

By ELIZABETH G. YOUNG

The _New York Times_ says that "Homestead Ranch" is one of the season's
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SACRIFICE

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How a woman, spoiled child of New York society, faced the dangers of the
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DOUBLE-CROSSED

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"An excellently written and handled tale of adventure and thrills in the
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JANE JOURNEYS ON

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The cheerful story of a delightful heroine's adventures from Vermont to
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       *       *       *       *       *

A CHOICE SHELF OF NOVELS

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ABBÉ PIERRE

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WAY OF REVELATION

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A realistic novel of the great war which presents with startling truth
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THE MERCY OF ALLAH

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THE RICH LITTLE POOR BOY

By ELEANOR GATES, Author of "The Poor Little Rich Girl," etc.

A whimsical, humorous fantasy of a poor little boy's search for
happiness.


MOTHER

By MAXIM GORKY. Introduction by Charles Edward Russell.

Wide interest is being displayed in Gorky's story of Russia before the
Revolution.

       *       *       *       *       *

D. APPLETON AND COMPANY
New York         London





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operating in a variety of industries, including government, legal, law
enforcement, financial services, healthcare and recruitment.



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