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´╗┐Title: Dorothy Dale: A Girl of To-Day
Author: Penrose, Margaret
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Dorothy Dale: A Girl of To-Day" ***

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DOROTHY DALE A GIRL OF TO-DAY

BY MARGARET PENROSE AUTHOR OF "DOROTHY DALE AT GLENWOOD SCHOOL," ETC

ILLUSTRATED


THE DOROTHY DALE SERIES BY MARGARET PENROSE

DOROTHY DALE: A GIRL OF TO-DAY DOROTHY DALE AT GLENWOOD SCHOOL (Other
volumes in preparation)



CONTENTS

CHAPTER I.     DOROTHY II.    DOROTHY AT THE OFFICE III.   A STRANGE
ADVENTURE IV.    A CLEW V.     MILES BURLOCK VI.    AT THE SWING VII.
WHAT HAPPENED IN THE ORCHARD VIII.  SQUIRE SANDERS AT SCHOOL IX.    THE
AFTERMATH X.     APPLE BLOSSOM MAGIC XI.    A SOLDIER'S DAUGHTER XII.
AN UNPROVOKED ATTACK XIII.  A QUEER PICNIC XIV.   THE SECRET XV.
DOROTHY IN POLITICS XVI.   THE GIRLS HAVE IT XVII.  A GIRL'S WEAPON
XVIII. DOROTHY IN DANGER XIX.   A SURPRISE TRIP XX.    AN EVENTFUL
JOURNEY XXI.   AT AUNT WINNIE'S XXII.  THE PRICE OF TAVIA'S TRESSES
XXIII. IN SOCIAL ELEMENTS XXIV.  THE PAINTED FACE XXV.   AN EMERGENCY
CASE XXVI.  DOROTHY'S COURAGE XXVII. THE LITTLE CAPTAIN--CONCLUSION



CHAPTER I

DOROTHY


The day of days had come at last: Dorothy would be the Daughter of the
Regiment.

"Lucky you don't have to curl your hair, Doro, for the fog is like
rain, and that's the worst kind for made curls," said Tavia.

"Oh, I do hope it is not going to rain!"

"No, it surely won't. But come, don't let's be late."

"There's heaps of time, Tavia. Oh, just see Briggs' new flag! Isn't it
glorious?" cried Dorothy Dale.

"Not half as glorious as your old Betsy Ross. I'd be too proud to march
if I had a real, truly Betsy. I think, anyway, it's prettier with the
star of stars than with the regular daisy field of them," and Tavia
tied her scarf just once more, that being the fourth time she had
smoothed it out and knotted it over.

"I think red, white and blue look lovely over a white dress," commented
Dorothy. "Your scarf is perfect."

"But you are like a live Columbia," insisted Tavia. "No one could look
as pretty as you," and her companion fairly beamed with admiration.

"Come now, gather up the stuffs. Button your cloak all the way down,
for we don't want folks to see how we're dressed," and Dorothy made
sure that her own water-proof covered her skirts to the very edge.

It was Decoration Day, and the girls were to take part in the Veterans'
procession.

Dorothy was the only daughter of Major Frank Dale, one of the prominent
veterans of Dalton, a small town in New York state. Dorothy was in her
fourteenth year, but since her mother was dead, and she was the eldest
of the small family (the other members being Joe, age ten, and Roger
just seven), she seemed older, and was really very sensible for her
years.

The major always called her his Little Captain, and she showed such a
practical interest in his business, that of running the only newspaper
in Dalton, The Bugle, that few, if any boys could have made better
partners in the work.

At housekeeping Dorothy was relieved of the real drudgery by Mrs.
Martin, who had been with the major's children since the day when baby
Roger was taken from his mother's side; and while the housekeeper was
the soul of love for the motherless ones, it was Dorothy who felt
responsible for the real management of the home, for Aunt Libby, as the
children called Mrs. Martin, was fast growing old, and faster growing
queer, in spite of a really good-natured disposition.

"It seems to me, Dorothy," the old lady would say, "Libby can't suit
you any more. And Joe, too--he's mighty fussy about his victuals. Only
my baby Roger loves the old woman!" and she would press the younger boy
to her breast with a world of love in the caress.

Not far from Dorothy lived Octavia Travers, or Tavia as all the girls
in Dalton called her, She had the reputation of being wild; that is she
cared little for school, and less for study, but she loved her brother
Johnnie and she loved Dorothy. She also had some love left for the
woods; but like many another child of nature, she was misunderstood,
and she was considered an idler by every one but her own father and
Dorothy.

"Tavia is a rough diamond," Dorothy would tell the major, "and you need
not be afraid of Aunt Libby's dreadful ideas about her. She's as good
as gold. Lots of girls, who turn up their noses at her, might learn
charity from the Tiger Lily, as they call her, just because she has a
few freckles around her eyes. I think they make her eyes prettier, they
are so brown--her eyes you know. And Daddy, no other girl in Dalton
loves soldiers, dead or alive, as truly as Tavia does."

This last argument never failed to convince Major Dale, for a patriotic
girl could no more go astray than could a star fall from the flag, he
declared; so the Little Captain might go with Tavia if she desired.

So it was that Dorothy and Tavia were companions on Decoration Day. For
weeks they had been getting ready--Tavia picking out the patches of
daisies that would surely be in bloom in time, and Dorothy making
certain that Mrs. Travers would not disappoint Tavia with her white
things, as well as keeping track of Aunt Libby, who had Dorothy's own
costume in hand. The dress was too short and had to be let down a whole
inch, and of course, it could not be done up until after the
alterations were finished.

There was always a big time in Dalton on Memorial Day, but this year it
was to be made more memorable than ever before. The Grand Army of the
Republic men were to come in from Rochester, the firemen were to turn
out, and the school children were to have a place in the ranks, with
Dorothy Dale as their leader. Besides this, the Dalton Drum and Fife
Corps would make their first public appearance on this occasion, and a
real review was to be given the procession, in the little square
opposite the school, not very far from the cemetery where the soldiers'
graves would be decorated.

No wonder, then, that Dorothy and Tavia were anxious about their
appearance. Every school girl was expected to wear white, of course,
and the bunting stripes of red, white and blue were bought in
Rochester, by the school teacher, Miss Ellis, and sold to the children
at actual cost--ten cents for each scarf.

One thing was certain, no other girls would have such flowers as
Dorothy and Tavia had. Such syringias and such daisies! And the ferns
that Tavia had growing back of the well for weeks!

Tavia had taken charge of the flowers for Dorothy, had made the big
bouquet and had covered it with wet paper so it would keep fresh. The
Little Captain had made certain that her companion would not be
disappointed about her white dress, and although Tavia had to stay from
school to wash it the day before, Dorothy went over to help her with
the ironing, for Mrs. Travers managed somehow, to have an excuse for
her failure in getting her daughter ready--she was that kind of
helpless, shiftless person, who rarely had things ready for her
children, especially in the matter of Tavia's clothes.

"Your dress looks real pretty," declared Dorothy, as the girls hurried
along to the school.

"Thanks to you for ironing it," responded Tavia, with gratitude in her
voice.

"I only helped, you did the skirt."

"That was plain, but the waist and sleeves--I never could have even
smoothed them, to say nothing of making them look this way," and she
straightened up to show the beauty of the garment.

At the school everything was in commotion. Some girls wanted their
scarfs tied, others wanted to carry flags, some insisted they could not
go out without hats, while Miss Ellis, always strict, seemed more stern
than ever.

"Those who were here yesterday afternoon raise their hands," she
commanded. Every girl but Tavia raised her hand.

"Those who were not here to rehearsal," went on the teacher, "cannot be
in the ranks. You know I told you all to be here, or not to expect to
go blundering along the roads, disgracing the school. Now, Miss Tavia
Travers, please step back."

All the commotion ceased. Tavia the patriotic girl--she who had been
searching for flowers in all sorts of dangerous and lonely places--not
to march?

"Teacher," spoke up Dorothy, her cheeks aflame and her voice quivering.
"It was not Tavia's fault. She--"

"Silence, Dorothy, or you will also lose your place."

"But teacher--" insisted the girl, with commendable courage, "I know
Tavia--"

"Leave the ranks!" called Miss Ellis and Dorothy stepped down--and
slipped into a seat alongside her weeping friend. "Sarah Ford, you may
lead."

This announcement caused no less surprise than did the punishment of
Dorothy. To think that Sarah Ford, a stranger in Dalton, whose father
was not even a firemen, let alone a soldier, should take first place!

It must be admitted that not every girl cared when Tavia left the
ranks, for she was not a general favorite: but Dorothy! Major Dale's
daughter! and he the head marshal!

With a conceited toss of her head Sarah Ford stepped to the front.

"She's mean," was whispered around. "Perhaps teacher knows only the
meanest girl would ever take Doro's place."

Meanwhile two very miserable girls were crying their eyes sore in the
back seat.

"Oh, Doro!" sobbed Tavia, "to think you lost it on my account."

"It was not on your account," wailed Dorothy, "but on account of an
unreasonable teacher."

"Hush! She'll hear you."

"Hope she does," went on the crying girl. "I would just like her to
know what I think of her. I don't care if I never come in this old
school again."

"I never will," whispered Tavia.

The ranks were formed now, and the girls marched out. An unpardonable
expression covered the face of Sarah Ford as she passed the tearful
ones.

"There," hissed Tavia, sticking out her tongue at the unpopular leader.
"Sneak!" she hissed again, and made the most unmistakable face of
contempt and defiance at the haughty Sarah.

Many looked sadly at Dorothy and with pity at Tavia. Certainly these
two girls deserved to march. Dorothy had done so much to help, in fact
some of the girls knew she had helped the major with all the letter
writing, inviting the Rochester men, and sending instructions to the
firemen. And to think that now, at the last moment, she should be
debarred!

And Tavia too, had been so happy at the prospect of the parade. Poor
Tavia! Everybody knew she had a hard time of it, anyway, only for
Dorothy, who always helped her out.

"Now, young ladies," said Miss Ellis, as the last girl passed out, "you
may fall in at the end."

"I don't care to," Dorothy spoke up, wiping her eyes.

"But I say you must!"

"Do," whispered Tavia, "we can see them anyway."

This was enough for Dorothy. Both girls stood up, straightened out
their crushed dresses, patted their red eyes with their handkerchiefs,
and fell in at the end of the line.

"I don't care a bit," said Dorothy smiling. "I would just as soon be
with you any way. And besides, we will be right next to the Veterans."

"Oh, good," answered her companion, "I would rather be there than up
front. Only, of course, you should lead."

The Dalton Drum and Fife Corps was playing loudly. There seemed
something very solemn about the lively tune in honor of the "Boys" who
had answered their last roll call.  Tavia's eyes were swimming, and not
a freckle was to be seen beneath the deep red color that framed them.

Dorothy could not talk. It was so sad--that soldiers had to die just
like other persons. She prayed her "Daddy" would not be called for
years and years.

At the corner of the street the school children were joined by the main
column. The veterans fell in--back of Dorothy and Tavia!

Major Dale was grand marshal, and of course came first. He looked
surprised at seeing his daughter--his Little Captain, last in line with
the children.

Then he glanced at Tavia. It was certainly something for which she was
responsible he was sure, for Dorothy had told him she had remained away
from school and missed the last rehearsal. "Halt," called the major,
and his men stood still.

At a signal the entire ranks waited. Miss Ellis stepped up to the
marshal smiling. She had evidently forgotten his daughter had lost her
place.

"I need two girls to carry the end flags," he began. "These old men
have all they can do to travel. The flags are not heavy--here, the two
last girls will do nicely!"

Dorothy and Tavia stepped to the sides and gracefully took the flags
from the hands of the aged soldiers.

The only girls who could carry real army flags! And walk on either side
of the marshal leading the Veterans!

"If I only could stick my tongue out just once more at Sarah,"
whispered Tavia, as she crossed back of the marshal to her place.

"We have both got Betsy Ross flags now," said Dorothy, and in all that
procession there were no prettier figures than those of Dorothy and
Tavia, as they marched alongside the veterans, with the real army flags
waving above their heads, stepping with feet and hearts in perfect
accord to the music of the Dalton Drum and Fife Corps' "Star Spangled
Banner."



CHAPTER II

DOROTHY AT THE OFFICE


Could the sunshine of yesterday be forgotten in the clouds of to-day?

Major Dale was ill. Overfatigue from the long march, the doctor said,
had brought on serious complications.

Early that morning after Memorial Day, Aunt Libby called Dorothy to go
to her father. The faithful housekeeper had been about all night, for
the major had had a high fever, but now, with daylight, came a lowering
of temperature, and he wanted Dorothy.

"Now, don't take on when you see him," Aunt Libby told the frightened
girl. "Just make light of it and pet him like."

Poor Dorothy! To think her own "Daddy" was really sick--and so many
veterans already dead! But she must not have gloomy thoughts, she must
be brave and strong as he had always taught her to be.

"Why, Daddy," she whispered, in a strained voice, kissing his hot
cheek, "the honors of yesterday were too much for you."

"Guess so, Little Captain, but I'll be on hand at mess time," and he
made an effort to look like a well man. "But I tell you, daughter,
there's something on my mind; the Bugle should come out to-morrow."

"And so it will. I'll go directly down to the office and tell Ralph."

"Yes, Ralph Willoby is a good boy--the best I have ever had in the
Bugle office. And that's why I sent for you so early. I want you to go
down to the office and help Ralph."

"Oh, I'll just love to!" and Dorothy was really pleased at the prospect
of working on the paper, in spite of the unfortunate circumstance---her
father's illness--that gave her the chance.

"Not so fast now. You must pay strict attention--"

"But you are not to talk: you have had a fever, from fatigue, you know,
and it might come back. Just let me go to the office and I will promise
to return for instructions at the very first trouble Ralph meets."

Dorothy was already on her feet. She knew the very worst thing the
major could do in his present condition would be to talk business.

"Now I'm off," she said, with a kiss and an assuring smile, "you will
be proud of to-morrow's Bugle. 'All about Memorial Day!' 'Get the Bugle
if you want the news!'" she added, in true newsboy style. Then Aunt
Libby came in to wait on the major.

But Dorothy's heart was not as light as her smile had been. Her father
looked very ill, and the bread and butter of the Dale household
depended upon the getting out of the Bugle.

Her brothers, Joe and Roger, had been sent to school early to be out of
the way, but to-morrow they might both stay home, thought the sister,
for they could help sell papers.

"Father never would let the boys do it," she reflected, "but he is sick
now, and we must do the very best we can. If he were ill a long time we
would have to get along."

Only waiting to snatch up a sandwich left from her brothers'
lunch,--for she knew the noon hour would be a busy time at the Bugle
office,--Dorothy hurried out and over to Tavia's.

"I can't go to school to-day," she called in at the half opened door.
"Father is sick, and I must attend to some business for him."

"Bad?" queried Tavia, for she noticed the change in her friend's manner.

"Perhaps not so very. But you know he is seldom sick, and now he has a
fever."

"Fever?" echoed Mrs. Travers. "Tavia, close that door this very minute!
We cannot afford to catch fevers."

Dorothy felt as if some one had slapped her face. To think of her
father giving any one sickness!

"Nonsense, ma," spoke up Tavia. "The major is only ill from walking in
the hot sun. Come in, Doro dear, and tell us if we can help you."

"Aunt Libby is alone with him, and when the doctor comes she may need
something. If your ma would not be afraid to let Johnnie run over about
noon, I would pay him for any errand," spoke Dorothy.

"Oh, certainly, dear," the woman replied, now venturing to poke her
uncombed head out of doors, thinking, evidently that the mere mention
of money was the most powerful antiseptic known. "Of course Johnnie
will be too pleased. I'll send him any time you say."

Secretly glad that her mother had so promptly overcome her fear of the
fever, but also ashamed that her motive should be so flagrant, Tavia
slipped on her things and joined her companion.

"I wouldn't keep you another minute," she began, "for I know just how
anxious you are. But I'm going along to help. I can go on errands at
least, and keep you company."

"Oh, Tavia, dear, perhaps you had better go to school. On account of
the trouble yesterday, teacher will think we are both defying her."

"Then let her send the Lady Sarah to find out," retorted Tavia. "I
would show her if I had freckles on my tongue."

"Please don't talk so, Tavia, it is wrong--"

"Wrong? My father says there are some men in this world too mean to
bother the law about. He says he knows one he would like to thresh only
he is sure the sneak would not hit him back, but would have him
arrested. Physical punishment is the kind for such, father declares.
And that's just the way I feel about Lady Sarah. I would not tell
teacher on her, for that would give her a chance to 'crawl,' as Johnnie
calls being mean. So sticking my tongue out at her is the nearest I can
come to physical punishment."

This doctrine did not in any way coincide with the upright views of
Dorothy, but she knew argument would be useless. Besides, her head and
heart were too full of other things to bother about school girl
troubles.

"Are you going to print the whole paper?" Tavia asked, with amusing
ignorance of the ways of the Great American Press.

"Why, no, dear, I could not print it. Ralph must do that."

"Oh, I know. Just put things in it."

"I may have to write some," Dorothy replied, with an important air.
"The parade story was not written. Father intended to do that."

"Oh, goody!" went on the irrepressible Tavia. "Say that the meanest
girl in school, Miss Sarah Ford, was chosen, at the last moment, to
lead the girls, owing to the sudden illness of Miss Dorothy Dale, the
most popular girl in school, who took a headache from the sun, but
later recovered in time to carry a Betsy Ross flag, along with her dear
friend, Miss Octavia Travers, the flags being presented to the girls by
Major Dale. There now, how's that?" and Tavia fairly beamed at the very
idea of having her "story" printed.

"I declare, Tavia, you can string words together, as father would say.
But we cannot say anything against any one. That would bring on
lawsuits, you know."

"Oh yes, I know. It's just as pa says: some folks are too mean for
anything but a good thrashing--and that's Sarah. But I'll do anything I
can to help you, and I hope I won't get the Bugle into any lawsuits."

Dorothy thanked her, and remarked that it was not likely.

By this time they had reached the newspaper office. Up two flights of
stairs, over the post-office and drug store, the girls found the
much-perplexed Ralph Willoby waiting anxiously for his employer.

Ralph was that kind of a young man whom people trust at once. He was
known all over Dalton as a most zealous worker in the "Liquor Crusade,"
that was being very actively carried on in the town. He had a firm
face, and deep, clear eyes. The major used to say his eyes could talk
faster than his tongue--and he knew how to converse well, too.

He had his sleeves rolled up, and was bending over a pile of "copy"
when the girls entered the office. He brushed his sleeves down and rose
to hear their message.

"Father is ill," began Dorothy weakly, for inside the office its
difficulties seemed to crush her.

"And we're going to get the paper out," blurted Tavia, trying to grasp
the wonders of a real newspaper office in a single sweeping glance.

"Can't he come down?" and the young man's voice betrayed his anxiety.

"I'm afraid not," went on Dorothy. "He said we were to do the best we
could. I was to help--"

"And I guess I'm to sell the papers. Hurry up and print some. Is this
the printing press?" Tavia rattled on.

"But the parade," demurred Ralph, "it is not even written. I can manage
the press well enough, but our reporter Mr. Thomas, has not come in
this morning. I suppose yesterday was too much for him."

"I think I could write up the parade," ventured Dorothy. "I have often
helped father read proof, you know."

"Perhaps you can," assented Ralph. "Here is a pencil and some copy
paper. You had better try at once, as I will have to go to press
earlier than usual to allow for 'snags,'" and he smiled to apologize
for the newspaper slang.

Dorothy sat down at her father's desk. Somehow, she felt a confidence
in her efforts when seated there, where he had worked so faithfully,
and successfully, too, for the Bugle sounded always the note of truth
and sincerity. She started at once to write up the parade. She should
be careful, of course, not to mention the major's name, or her own (her
father never did) and she hoped she could at least make a good
composition or essay on Memorial Day.

Dorothy worked earnestly, for she meant to have that issue of the paper
up to the mark, if her labors could bring it there.

Ralph had rolled up his sleeves again, and was busy with the press.
Tavia was "nosing around," as she expressed it. The door opened
suddenly and little Johnnie Travers rushed in.

"The major sent me--to tell you--" and he had to get a new breath in
somehow--"to tell you that old Mrs. Douglass is--is dead!" he finally
managed to say. "He wants you to be sure to--to--put her in the paper."

"Nothing but live stuff in this paper, Johnnie dear," spoke up Tavia.
"Mrs. Douglass was bad enough alive--but dead! We really haven't
space," and, in spite of the real seriousness of the matter, for Mrs.
Douglass was an important woman in Dalton, or had been up to that
morning, Ralph and Dorothy were compelled to laugh at the wit of their
friend.

"She was a big woman," said Ralph, adding to the mix-up in language,
"and the Bugle is small. But being 'big' we cannot afford to slight her
memory. There is so little time--"

"I can write that," said Tavia, shaking her head with a meaning. "And I
know all about Mrs. Douglass and her high fence. Also the flowers
behind the boxwood. Here, Doro, give me some of that paper--"

"Oh, you would have to see some of the family," interrupted Ralph.
"Find out how she died, when she will be buried; if she said anything
interesting--about charities, you know--"

"For mine!" sang out Tavia, adjusting her hat.

"Yes, your first assignment," ventured Ralph. "Dorothy must finish the
parade, and I must attend to the typesetting, so if you could,
really,--"

"Of course I can. Haven't I spent more time in the graveyard than at
school? And don't I know what they say about dead persons?

    "'Here lies Mrs. Doug,--
     She had a mug,
     And none in Dalt could match it,
     When she took sick,
     She died that quick,
     The Bugle couldn't catch it.'

"How's that?" went on the girl. "Shows it was our busy day and we
hadn't time to catch the dead news, not Mrs. Doug's face, you know."

"Oh, Tavia, what slang!" cried Dorothy, and added: "you had better not
go, you will surely say or do something--"

"I certainly shall both say and do something. Johnnie look out for your
nose there. That machine is going and your nose is not insured. Yes,
Doro, this issue of the Bugle will blow a blast both loud and shrill in
memory of Mrs. Doug. You know she loved blowing, never missed a windy
day to collect the rent."

It was useless to argue. Tavia was bent on doing the "obit." as Ralph
called the obituary assignment. She went out with Johnnie at her heels.

"She's the jolly kind," commented Ralph, as the door closed on the
brother and sister.

"Yes, and so few understand her," Dorothy replied. "To me she is just
the dearest girl in Dalton, but others think differently of her."

"I've known boys like that," assented the young man. "They seem to live
in a shell, and only poke their real selves out to certain persons,
those who love them."

"I feel more like writing now," said Dorothy, brightening up, "Johnnie
told me father is better--he was taking some nourishment, the child
said, and when the doctor left Johnnie did not have to go to the drug
store. That means, of course, that there is nothing new setting in. I
think Aunt Libby should have kept Joe and Roger from school, but she
thought the house would be quieter for father with them away. Aunt
Libby is very nervous lately."

"I do hope the major will be well soon," answered Ralph. "He seemed so
strong, but I suppose when sickness takes hold of something worth while
the result is equally of consequence."

For some time the girl and young man worked without further
conversation. Dorothy bent earnestly over her story, while Ralph was
busy with the type, setting up the last item of news that would go in
the week's issue of the Bugle.

Suddenly something like a scream aroused them.

"What was that?" asked Dorothy, but without waiting to answer Ralph
hurried to the door. At that moment Tavia staggered into the office.
Her hat was off and her face was very white.

"Oh, what is it, Tavia dear?" Dorothy cried. "What has happened?"

"I'm so--so frightened," gasped the girl. "Lock the door--that--that
man--he may come in! He is in the hall."

Ralph was out in the hall instantly. The girls, clasped in each other's
arms, could hear him running down the stairs.

"Oh, he is so rough and strong--he may hurt Ralph," whispered Tavia,
too frightened to trust her own voice.

It seemed a long time to the girls, but Ralph was back in the room with
them in a very few minutes.

"There was no one in the hall," he said, "and I looked up and down the
street. No one--no stranger seemed to be in sight."

"Well, I was just coming up the stairs, and I couldn't see from the
sun, when some one grabbed me," Tavia explained.

"Oh, Tavia!" interrupted Dorothy.

"Yes, indeed, a great big horrid man, with a hat over his eyes, and oh,
he was dreadful!" and poor Tavia began to tremble again.

Ralph had his coat on now. That man should not get away!

"But you can't leave us," begged the girls. "He might break the door
in."

"Then come down stairs and we will lock up. I must telephone to Squire
Sanders."

"He isn't home," Tavia declared. "I saw him drive out as I went up
William Street."

But Ralph insisted on giving the alarm.

"What did he say to you?" he asked.

"Why, he must have thought I was Dorothy. I saw him first just as I
turned out of the Douglass' place, and he followed me all the way. At
the lane--where it was really lonely--he called to me and I stopped. He
said 'Where are you going?' I told him to the Bugle office. I didn't
think anything of it. I am never afraid. Then he got nearer to me--"

"Why didn't you run?" asked Dorothy.

"Why, I never thought of such a thing. I thought maybe he was coming
here with some news. Even when he started up the dark stairs after me I
wasn't afraid. But when he grabbed me--"

"Oh!" screamed Dorothy.

"Yes, and he said: 'See here, Miss Dale, if you put one line in print
about that old woman being dead--I'll blow the place up.'"

"He must be a crank," said Ralph. "Such people always drift into
newspaper offices."

"Oh, no, I am sure he meant it, for he grabbed my notes. He saw me
reading them in the lane," Tavia paused an instant. "And really, poor
Mrs. Douglass was a good woman. The servant girl told me how she had
worked for that Miles Burlock,--she had some special interest in
him,--and you know how he drinks."

Unfortunately every one in Dalton knew only too well how Miles Burlock
drank. Ralph had often helped him home, and then tried to get the man
to talk of reformation, but it seemed like a hopeless case.

"Why should that strange man want the paper to keep quiet about Mrs.
Douglass?" asked Dorothy.

"Something about Burlock, perhaps," Ralph answered, thoughtfully. "This
man may be in with the drinking class, and perhaps if Burlock read
anything or heard it, somehow he might go to the Douglass house, and
they say Death is a great teacher. I know Mrs. Douglass often
befriended Burlock."

"Then let him blow the office up!" cried Dorothy, with sudden courage.
"Father never listened to threats! Tavia, can you remember some of the
important facts? Quiet yourself and think it over."



CHAPTER III

A STRANGE ADVENTURE


Joe Dale was a credit to the family. Although only a boy in his tenth
year, he possessed as much manliness as many another well in the teens.
He was tall, and of the dark type, while Dorothy was not quite so tall,
and had fair hair; so that, in spite of the difference of their ages,
Joe was often considered Dorothy's big brother. Roger was just a pretty
baby, so plump and with such golden curls! Dorothy had pleaded not to
have them cut until his next birthday, but the boys, of course, thought
seven years very old for long hair.

"Only for a few months more," the sister had coaxed, and, so the curls
were kept. Dorothy always arranged them herself, telling fairy stories
to conceal the time consumed in making the ringlets.

Both boys were to sell papers to-day, for the Bugle was out, and
Dorothy had told her brothers of the necessity for extra efforts to
help with money matters.

"You may go with one of the regular boys," Ralph Willoby instructed
them. "He can tell you where you would be likely to get customers. Go
into all the stores, of course, and look out for the mill hands, at
noon time."

"I'll sell Bugles to-day," declared Joe, with that splendid manliness
and real earnestness that makes a boy so attractive, especially to his
sister.

"It takes a boy," Dorothy said proudly, as her brothers left the
office, each with his bundle of papers, for, of course, Roger had to
have a strap full the same as did Joe. Ralph was glancing over the
paper. Evidently he was pleased with its appearance, for his face
showed satisfaction.

"Is it all right?" Dorothy asked, secretly glad the "getting out" was
finished, and that she would not have to write another parade story
that day.

"First-rate," answered the young man, "and I think your father will be
pleased. You had better go home and take him a copy, he may be anxious
to see one."

"I'll go now," she told Ralph, "and I'll be back about noon, when the
boys come in from their routes."

Dorothy passed out, and closed the door after her. Ralph went to the
far end of the office, to finish folding the papers. Scarcely had he
taken one sheet in his hand than he heard something in the hall.

A scream! And in Dorothy's voice!

Darting past the big press, and making his way to the hall door quickly
in spite of the things that barred his path, Ralph pulled open the
portal.

The girls were in a heap on the steps! Dorothy and Tavia.

The young man bent down anxiously. The pair seemed unusually still.

"Fainted!" he murmured, trying to lift Dorothy's head.

"Is he--go--gone?" whispered Tavia. "We are not hurt. We only made
believe!"

"Oh!" sighed Dorothy. "I feel as if I were dying! I--I can't breathe!"

"Try to get on your feet," commanded Ralph. "The air will revive you!"

"There!" gasped Tavia. "There's his hat. I grabbed it when he put the
handkerchief, with some stuff on it, to my nose," and the girl held up
a gray slouch hat, the kind western men usually wear.

"That may help us," said Ralph. "But first you must both come down to
the drug store. That stuff he used may sicken you. It has a queer
smell."

Once on their feet the girls seemed all right, in fact as Tavia said,
they had only "made believe" to prevent any further violence.

It seemed incredible that two girls should be way-laid in broad
daylight, in the hall of the most public building in Dalton, but the
fact was certainly plain--there was the dirty white handkerchief
reeking with some drug, and besides, there was the hat that Tavia had
taken from the man's head.

Ralph took the girls into the prescription room of the drug store, to
see if they needed any attention, and there to the astonished drug
clerk, as well as to the equally astonished proprietor, Tavia tried to
relate what had happened.

"It was the same man who grabbed my papers the other day," she said. "I
saw him first as I came along William street. Joe and Roger had just
gone in Beck's with their papers, and as I saw the man watching them I
was afraid he might kidnap Roger. I was just thinking who would be best
to call, when he caught me watching him, and then, like a flash, he
sprang into that saloon at the corner. I thought he was frightened lest
he would be caught, and I hurried down here to warn Dorothy. Well, no
sooner had I put my foot inside the hall than he darted at me--"

"Where did he come from?" asked the drug store proprietor.

"Probably through the alley that leads from the saloon to the end of
our building," explained Ralph. "He could easily dash into the hall
from there."

"He was after papers," declared Tavia, "for just as he grabbed me he
saw Dorothy. I was going to scream when he put that queer-smelling
stuff to my nose."

"I screamed when I saw Tavia," ventured the frightened Dorothy, "but he
had me almost before I could open--my--mouth. Tavia squeezed my hand
and I knew she meant for me to be quiet."

"And if you had not closed your eyes he might have given you another
dose," added Tavia, who somehow, seemed to know more than any one else
about the wicked ways of the mysterious stranger.

"But how did he manage to get away so promptly?" asked one of the men,
trying to get on the track for capture.

"Through that same alley into the saloon," Ralph said. "I will go at
once, and have the place searched."

"As soon as he got the papers Dorothy had he went off," finished Tavia,
"just as he did when he got my notes."

Leaving the girls to quiet themselves in the drug store, all the men,
except the head clerk, started out to give the alarm.

This time a thorough search should be made, and even a reward offered
by the town for the capture of the coward who went about trying to
frighten helpless girls. There was certainly some hidden motive in his
actions, as he had, each time, made an attack on some one connected
with the Bugle's business, and the men quickly concluded his intentions
had to do with an attempt to stop the Liquor Crusade.

Miles Burlock also figured in the case they decided, although how this
stranger was mixed up in matters relating to Burlock, and what
connection Mrs. Douglass' death could have with such affairs, was not
plain.

The druggist warned Dorothy and Tavia not to tell their experience to
any one, not even to the folks at home, for, he argued the stranger
might get to hear they were after him, and so escape.

Dorothy readily agreed to keep silent, in fact it would not do for any
one in her home to know of her experience, as the major was too ill to
be worried, but Tavia did not see why her father should not be
acquainted with the affair, as he always knew what to do. And why
should other men be allowed to search for the man who had threatened
her, when it was plainly her own father's special privilege?

"Well, if you feel that way about it," agreed the druggist, "tell your
father to come down here to-night and perhaps he will be put on the
committee."

This was quite satisfactory to Tavia, and after making sure that no
more strangers lurked about, the girls made their way home.

"I never was afraid in daylight before," remarked Dorothy, whose face
was still pale from the fright. "Let us hurry. There are the boys. Be
sure not to say anything to them about the scare."

"Hurrah!" shouted Joe swinging his empty strap. "All sold out."

"Me too," said little Roger, who had his strap buckled so tightly about
his fat waist, that he had hard work to breathe under the pressure.

"Hip--hip--" answered Tavia, continuing:

    "Blow Bugle, blow,
     Blow Bugle blow,
     We're very proud
     You blew so loud
     To let the people know."

"Price five cents! Order now! That's the way city people put things in
the papers about their goods," declared Tavia. "I think when I leave
school I'll look for work in a newspaper office."

"Ralph said you did splendidly," said Dorothy, "I'm sure I never could
have gotten along without you. But we are home now and--"

"No paper for the major," finished Tavia.

"There's a boy. I'll get one," said Joe, running off at full speed to
overtake the newsboy, who had just turned the corner.

"Aunt Libby may be cross," whispered Dorothy, "for she has been all
alone, and this being Saturday she would expect help."

"Mother won't say anything to me," Tavia decided, "for--well, I have
something to tell her that will make her forget all about the work."

"Not about the--you know--" cautioned her companion.

"My, no," answered the other. "It's just about Mrs. Douglass' funeral.
You know ma always goes to funerals, and I have found out that people
may go to the house and see her. That will interest ma."

Joe was back with the paper, and was proud to have such an active
interest in the Bugle. It seemed something to say it was his own
father's paper, and then to have people remark what a bright sheet it
was, and how it was never afraid to tell the truth.

"Let me give it to father?" he asked Dorothy.

"No, let me?" pleaded little Roger, "cause I ain't hardly seen him a
bit lately."

"But you must not tell that we sold papers," directed Joe. "Father is
not to know yet, you know."

"Oh, I won't tell," Roger promised.

"But you might forget," argued Dorothy.

"Nope," declared the little fellow, "I'll just let this strap keep
squeezing me, then I couldn't forget."

"And have father ask where you got it," said Joe laughing.

"Then I'll tie a string round my finger," persisted the younger brother.

"I'll tell you," Dorothy concluded, "You just run in, give father a
good hug, put the paper on his lap and run out again without saying a
word. Then he will think you are playing newsboy."

This plan was finally decided upon, although Roger did think he would
like to stay for "just a little while" to hear "Daddy" say "something
about something."

They found the major anxiously expecting them. He feared something had
happened--the press might break down, or the paper supply give out,
Many things might occur when the man who ran the business was not there
to keep ends straight. To say that the major was pleased was not half
telling it--he was delighted. To think that they could get out a paper
like that! And that his Little Captain should write up the parade. It
really was well described.

Perhaps what astonished him most was Tavia's part in the issue. He
laughed when Dorothy told how jolly Tavia was. Of course, there was no
mention of the encounter with the strange man.

But that night Dorothy could not sleep. The excitement perhaps, or was
it fear?

Oh, if that horrid man had never come to Dalton!



CHAPTER IV

A CLEW


As the druggist had anticipated, a citizens' committee was formed to
run down the assailant of Dorothy and Tavia. The hat bore the mark of a
Rochester house, so that was something of a clew. A hatless man ought
to be easy enough to identify, but of course, he had managed to get a
head covering somewhere; stole it, perhaps, from an open hallway.

But, after an exhaustive search, and much questioning of persons who
might have seen the man, no news of importance was turned in at the
committee meeting.

Mr. Travers had what he considered a tangible clew. Miles Burlock had
told him that a man from Rochester had been hounding him for weeks, and
that he pretended to know something of Burlock's business.

"Burlock, it seems," Mr. Travers said at the meeting, "was, in some
way, connected with the Douglass family. There is money in the affair,
however it may concern Burlock and Mrs. Douglass, and this stranger is
after the cash."

"But what in the world has these children to do with that?" asked the
chairman.

Ralph Willoby stood up.

"It seems, Mr. Chairman," he said, "that the first time the man gave us
trouble was when we sent to learn something about Mrs. Douglass' death.
He secured the notes to prevent us from publishing anything about the
lady. Then he threatened to blow up the Bugle office if we did print an
obituary. This did not intimidate us, and when the paper was out he
waited for the little boys, sons of Major Dale, to harm them possibly.
It was then that one of the girls saw and recognized him, and he, being
sure of this, made off. A few minutes later he intercepted both girls
on the stairs, tried to frighten them with some drug, took the papers
from Miss Dorothy Dale, and again made his escape."

This was by far the most intelligent account of the affair yet given,
and after its recital many of the men thought they could see a solution
of the mystery.

"But how do you associate all this with Miles Burlock?" Ralph was
questioned by the chairman: "I know Mrs. Douglass had a special
interest in that man," went on Ralph. "I have known her to give him
money to buy respectable clothes with, and,--well there is no need to
make public our brother's misfortunes. At any rate, it seems plain to
me that this stranger was trying to keep the news of Mrs. Douglass'
death away from Burlock."

"Has any one seen Burlock lately?" was next asked.

No one had; in fact his absence had been noticed by many present. He
was not a common drunkard, and that was probably why such an interest
was manifested in his possible entire reformation.

This was all of importance that occurred at the meeting, and the
committee adjourned with instructions to continue their work.

It was a beautiful spring evening. The air was soft with blossoms, and
a perfumed dew made all of Dalton like a rose garden.

Major Dale was improving rapidly, in fact he had recovered so quickly
that this evening he insisted upon sitting out of doors for a few
minutes. The doctor had discontinued calling, and said the attack was
more of overfatigue from the march on Memorial Day than anything else.
Both Dorothy and Tavia had been absent from school the past week but
this was Sunday evening, and they would both go back to-morrow.

Dorothy went over to talk about it with her friend.

"Well, it will be something to have another chance at Lady Sarah," said
Tavia, when Dorothy had finished telling her to be sure and have her
father write an excuse to hand to Miss Ellis. "I don't mind school so
much when there is something else to think of in between. And the girls
will be tickled too, for they all love a good fight."

"Now, Tavia, you must stop that kind of talk if you are going to be a
friend of mine," counseled Dorothy. "I cannot be considered your friend
if you will not be--ladylike--"

"Like Lady Sarah," Tavia finished, laughing. "Well, all right, Doro
dear," and she gave her chum a bear-like hug, "I'll be as good as
pie,--lemon meringue at that,--so don't worry any more."

"Have you heard anything about the man?" Dorothy asked cautiously, for
it was almost dark, and the girls were walking back to the Dale
homestead.

"Not a word," answered Tavia, "except that father thinks he has gone
out of Dalton altogether."

"And I have not seen Miles Burlock all week," commented Dorothy, "You
know I had been trying to get him to reform."

"Everybody seems to be trying to do that."

"Well, Ralph told me he had seen Burlock crying like a baby one day
because a little girl asked him for a penny. And Ralph thinks perhaps
there was some little girl in Miles' story,--a daughter maybe--and he
suggested that I try my influence with Miles."

"Did he cry like a baby over you?" teased Tavia, with poor appreciation
of her friend's efforts to help along the Liquor Crusade.

"Now please, Tavia, don't be absurd. There is something wonderfully
winning about Mr. Burlock."

"Of course there is. Wicked people are always winners."

"I won't tell you one thing more!"

"Now Doro! Doro! You know I love to hear you talk that way. And if it
were not so dark I could see your eyes show how deep they are, just
like the Jacks-in-the-Pulpit I gathered in the woods yesterday. You are
nothing like a wild flower, more like a beautiful pink and white
hyacinth, that grows in the Douglass garden; but sometimes, when you
pretend to be angry, you make me think of the wood flowers. They have
such a way of blooming best when some other growing thing tries to stop
them. Jacks-in-the-Pulpit grow right up through stones, and bloom in
tangles of poison ivy."

"I am sure I have no right to compare myself with flowers," answered
the other pleasantly, for she always admired her friend's poetic ideas,
although other people might laugh at them.

"Shows she is thoughtful, anyway," Dorothy would tell herself, "and
that is what Ralph meant when he said she could not make serious
mistakes when she followed the advice of her kind heart."

The Dale house could be seen through the trees now. Voices were heard
outside; perhaps the boys playing some games.

"I'll leave you here," said Tavia, "you are not afraid of bugaboos are
you?"

"Not a bit," answered Dorothy, laughing. "Be sure to be on time at
school to-morrow. No use adding coals to the fire."

"It depends on whether you intend to wash, bake, or iron. Now I am
going to do all three at school to-morrow, so I may as well keep up a
good, warm fire;" and giving her chum a hearty hug Tavia started off.

Dorothy stopped as she neared the piazza.

Surely that was a strange voice. A man was talking very earnestly to
her father.

It was Miles Burlock!



CHAPTER V

MILES BURLOCK


What could that man want of her father?

And what was so mysterious about their conversation that reached her
ears in spite of her attempting to enter the house without intruding
upon her father's company?

Her name was being spoken, and why would Aunt Libby not open that door?

"There she is now," said Major Dale, as Dorothy gave one more knock.
"Daughter, come this way. We are waiting for you."

How hard her heart beat! And how foolish she was to be nervous!

"This gentleman," began Major Dale, "wants you to hear a story. It may
be sad for ears so young, but perhaps the knowledge that you have
helped Mr. Burlock to settle one point in this story may make it more
interesting to you."

The faint moonlight, that now streamed from the spring sky, made a
silvery glow upon the faces of the two men, and even in the shadows,
that of Miles Burlock showed features firm and what might be called
handsome. Dorothy had often seen him before, but he had never looked
that way. His face was clearer now he was changed.

"Child," he said, extending his hand to her, "You need not fear Miles
Burlock now. He is a man--no longer a slave to rum--but a wake at last."

"I am so glad!" Dorothy stammered.

"Yes, that day you took my hand, although it was not fit for yours, and
the way you asked me to join in the League work came like a miracle of
grace. Perhaps it is--because--because you are so like the child I
lost."

He bowed his head, and for a moment, was silent, then he looked at
Dorothy again.

"As you are the one chosen to help this man find himself--for he has
been morally lost for years,--I feel it may be that you, too, may help
me find my own child," Miles Burlock went on. "At any rate it is best
that you should hear the story, for when men like us have passed away
the children may be here to remember what others will be glad to forget
about me--to forget that I tried to undo the wrong I had done to those
lost to me now."

Major Dale opened the door to the sitting room, and there the man
continued his story.

"As a boy I was cared for by an over-indulgent aunt, and I have often
thought that the fact of having lost my own mother might, in some way,
make an excuse to heaven for me, for the boy or girl who never knows a
mother has suffered more than mortal can count,--in ways more numerous
than mortal can see, and a motherless babe is the saddest story in all
human history. Well, money had been left for me, and this too, I
believe, was an inherited wrong, for too early in life had I begun to
feel independent. Later that indifference to discipline grew to
recklessness, and then the final evil came in the shape of bad company."

Major Dale stopped the speaker for a moment and Dorothy was glad to
move a little nearer her father. Somehow, this strange story was unlike
anything she had ever heard, and while it fascinated her, it also
frightened her, for she had not before known anyone who had lived such
a wild life.

"And here is where your daughter, Major Dale, has come so strangely
into my life," went on Mr. Burlock. "The good people of this town have
been working hard to save such men as I have been--but no longer will I
rank myself with such. That young man, Ralph Willoby, had pleaded with
me in a way few could have resisted, but the trouble was, I was in the
hands of a man who had been my evil genius for years, and no matter how
firm was my resolve to get away from temptation, this tyrant would
manage to put the poison into my hands. Of course I thought him a
friend,--that was what he had always pretended to be,--but through the
strange interference of this little girl,"--laying his hand on
Dorothy,--"I have seen the light; the scales have fallen from my eyes."

The awful face of the villainous man, who had so frightened Dorothy on
the stairs of the Bugle office, seemed to flash into that room. Could
he be that evil genius?

"Yes, Major Dale," he went on, "you must have heard by this time that a
man waylaid your daughter, grabbed the papers from her hands and tried
to frighten her so that there would be no outcry until he had made his
escape. Well, that man was no other than he who put liquor to my lips
when I was a boy; who took me from my home when I was a husband, and
made me sign papers that would leave my young wife helpless in all the
affairs that she should rightfully control.  Not satisfied with this
record of villainy, he, at last, separated me from my wife and
daughter, and though I have searched for years for them, it has all
been in vain."

The man stopped. Tears were streaming down his pallid face and the
sorrow of a lifetime seemed about to break the bonds of human
endurance. Major Dale put his hand on the other's shoulder.

"Cheer up, brother," he said, "There may yet be time. Life is with you
still."

"Ah, but have I not searched all this week? And did not that man
promise to take me to them?"

Dorothy had shrunk back when Mr. Burlock said the man who had put
terror in her own life was the same person who had destroyed his
happiness. Then it was as Ralph said,--Miles Burlock did figure in the
mysterious case.

The evening was melting into night. Major Dale was still feeble from
his illness and his daughter, quick to see the look of pain on his
loved face, determined to stop the story for the time being.

"You must lie down, father," she said, putting her arm about him, "You
know the doctor said to be very careful."

With a promptness that bespoke good breeding the visitor arose.

"Pray pardon me," he said politely. "I have been very selfish. I will
not disturb you longer. I will come again to-morrow."

"We will be very glad, indeed, to help you, if we can," the major
replied, rather faintly, for Dorothy had not spoken a moment too soon
for his comfort.

"The real matter with which I would ask you to help me is the putting
aside, now, of the money which is in my name, and which should be
secured against enemies of my poor wife and daughter," said Miles
Burlock. "I will never again trust anything to the uncertain time when
they may be found, for I believe now they are being kept away from me
by this same scoundrel, Andrew Anderson. It may be well for you to know
his name."

"And where is he?" asked the major, his voice showing the feeling he
could not hide, a determination to deal severely with the man who had
threatened Dorothy.

"That is something I would not dare to tell even if I knew. My only
hope of getting these affairs settled so that I may sometime make
amends to my dear ones, is by keeping away from Anderson. It might not
detain you too long to say that last week my friend, my counselor, and
benefactress Marian Douglass, passed away. For years she held safely
for me the principal of the money I had been wasting. Now that she is
gone, and he knows it, I must at once make it secure in some other way.
To-morrow, if you will allow me, I will come again and bring witnesses.
No other man in Dalton would be so worthy of the trust. Thousands of
dollars have almost made themselves in ways planned and carried out by
Marian Douglass, who held this money both for me and from me, but now a
part of this must be used to find my wife and my daughter Nellie, and
then to run down their persecutors, for I have been a tool, simply, in
the hands of those who took what I had and who have been trying for
years to get the rest. If nothing happens to me to-night I will come
to-morrow morning, after that we may tell the town who it was who tried
to spoil the fair name of Dalton."

He pressed Dorothy's hand to his lips as he left. She felt a tear fall
upon it; and she knew that all her prayers and all her efforts to save
this man from his evil ways had not been in vain, and with the
happiness that comes always in the knowledge of good accomplished, a
new resolve came into her heart--she would some day find Nellie Burlock.



CHAPTER VI

AT THE SWING


The strange story of the reformed man filled Dorothy's brain with
exciting thoughts that night, and it was almost morning when she
finally fell asleep. Even then she dreamed of all;--the fortune her
father was to have in trust, the wicked man who had been trying to get
it, and the poor wife and child who were hidden away somewhere, perhaps
now starving. In her dreams she became Nellie, and she tried, oh, so
hard, to find her own father, the dear major. The worry of it even in
sleep gave Dorothy a severe headache, and when she awoke she found her
nerves still throbbing and her brow hot and feverish.

"Oh, I'll be so glad to go to school to-day," she thought. "I am tired
of all this worry, and it will be good to be back with the girls again."

"Doro, let me in! Let me in!" little Roger was calling at her door, and
before she had a chance to finish dressing, her little brother had his
soft white arms about her neck.

"Now, don't you look. You can't see until I've given you a quart of
kisses, then you have to promise not to cry."

"Cry? What for?" she asked.

"Cross your heart, first," he insisted.

Then she saw that his curls were gone.

"Oh, darling!" she exclaimed, "who did it?"

"Jake, the barber. And daddy said so. He said you should not bother
with tangles any more. Now don't you dare cry. You promised."

The girl took the little boy in her arms. Why did they do it just that
day, when her head ached, and she had so many worries? Those beautiful
curls! How she had loved them!

"Now Doro, you are going to cry, 'cause your eyes look like polly-wogs.
And you must be glad that I'm a man, like Joe, now," and the boy sprang
from her arms, and stood up like a "major" before her.

Then he was a "man," and her baby no longer. It was not the curls so
much, but taking her baby from her, that hurt so.

The loving mother-spirit, that had made Dorothy Dale the girl she was,
seemed to grow stronger now with every tear that clouded her eyes. Yes,
he bad been her baby, and she had loved him with a wonderful love--sent
into her heart, she always thought, by the mother in heaven who watched
over them both.

"You have been a very good boy," she managed to say, "and Joe is a very
good boy, so, if you can be like him, perhaps I will not be so lonely
without the other Roger."

It was an hour later that Dorothy met Tavia in the lane and hurried to
school with her. Of course she could not tell her friend what it was
that made her so quiet, and it really was hard to keep a secret like
that of the mysterious man from Tavia.

Perhaps she could tell her in the afternoon, by that time Mr. Burlock
would likely have all his affairs attended to and then he said he would
tell the town who the man was for whom the people had been looking.

As Dorothy and Tavia came into the schoolyard they saw Sarah Ford on
the swing, that hung from a heavy square frame.

Down went Tavia's books on the grass.

"First for a run under!" she called, and instantly a line of girls
formed, while Tavia led, of course, with such a "run under" that Sarah
tried to jump to save herself from another like it.

"Hold fast!" shouted the next girl, who already had her arms up to the
swing board. Then one after another they jumped to reach the board, and
send it higher and higher until the girl on the swing threatened to
turn over the frame.

"Oh, please stop!" she cried, "there goes the bell!"

One more "good push" sent her up into the air, and the girls were all
gone--school was in.

For one moment Sarah held on and then jumped--into the remains of the
janitor's rubbish fire!

Sarah Ford picked herself up. Her white dress was covered with soot and
dirt. The classes were called by this time, and she could not go into
the cloak room.

"Oh, that horrid mean thing, Tavia Travers!" she thought. "I will not
give the girls a chance to laugh at me," and, darting out of the gate,
she ran down the lane--away from school.

At the end of the lane the girl turned into an orchard and sank down
under an apple tree.

Had she really run away from school? She could not turn back now, and
what would her father say? He was so severe about school, he never
would take any excuse.

The black soot had almost all blown off her dress. If she had not been
so proud always, about her looks, perhaps she would not have noticed it
much.

"Oh, what will I do to that girl!" she thought. "It was all her fault,
and I'll lose my place too."

The sense of bitterness that filled Sarah Ford's heart was an entirely
different sentiment from that which animated Tavia Travers when she
made up, the "running under" game. The one was the sense of revenge,
bitter and cunning; the other was a matter of school girl's fun, pure
and simple.

Sitting there on the grass that revengeful spirit took the form of a
resolve in Sarah's heart--to "pay back" Tavia Travers.



CHAPTER VII

WHAT HAPPENED IN THE ORCHARD


Within the schoolroom more than one girl was wondering what had
happened to Sarah Ford. Dorothy was worried. Hers was a nature that
took all things seriously, while Tavia insisted on looking on "the easy
side" as she termed Hope. She was hoping with all her heart now, that
Sarah Ford would soon enter the room, but the morning wore on and no
Sarah appeared.

At last recess came. Such whispering among the girls--so many theories
advanced to account for Sarah's disappearance.

"Playin' hookey," was all Tavia said, in the way she had of making
light of things.

"Perhaps she was hurt," whispered Dorothy to Alice MacAllister, a girl
who had always been a close friend.

"I don't think so," said Alice, "Even had she fallen there was nothing
she could strike on, and I have often jumped when I could not go one
bit higher."

"She may have fallen on the rubbish heap," suggested one of the older
girls.

At last school was dismissed.

"I'll wager we find her down the lane taking Widow Drew's apple
blossoms," remarked Tavia, as she and Dorothy started for home. "She
may be going to another party and want a change of decorations,--she
wore honey-suckle last time."

"Hush!" Dorothy interrupted, "I thought I heard--"

"Some one moan? So did I," declared Tavia.

They listened a moment.

"There it is again," said Dorothy. "Oh, I'm sure that's Sarah!"

"It was down in the orchard," went on Tavia.

"Help! oh, help me!" came a voice, and this time there was no mistaking
the cry; a girl was calling.

Springing over the fence, with Dorothy following her, Tavia ran through
the deep grass to the spot from which the sounds came.

Under the apple tree, suffering and helpless, they found Sarah Ford.

"Oh, what has happened!" wailed Dorothy, bending over her.

"You have killed me!" gasped Sarah.

"Is it your ankle?" Tavia asked, trying to find out what could be done
to get Sarah home.

"Yes, and you did it!" declared the suffering girl. "You gave me that
last push. Oh,--oh. Get a doctor--or I will surely die!" and she buried
her head deeper in the grass, writhing in agony.

"Can't you move, Sarah dear?" Dorothy pleaded, "If you only could,
perhaps we could make a hand chair and carry you."

"Oh, it would kill me. My leg is surely broken. I can feel the bone.
Oh, dear! Oh dear me! What shall I do? What shall I do?" and the
unfortunate girl burst into hysterical weeping--

"I'll run and get a wagon--or a carriage--or something," Tavia said
nervously, for she was very much frightened at Sarah's condition.

"They never could drive in this rough place," Dorothy sighed. "Listen!
There is Joe. Call him. He will help us."

In a moment Joe Dale was beside his sister.

"Why, a man must carry her, of course," he declared promptly, "I just
met Ralph Willoby--"

A shrill whistle from Joe, followed by his calling loudly the young
man's name, soon brought Ralph to the scene.

"Oh, I am so glad it is you!" said Dorothy. "You will know just what to
do, and we--don't want--a crowd."

By this time Sarah showed signs of fainting; her breath came in gasps
and her face was very white.

"Run over to the spring Joe, and fetch a cup of water," Ralph
commanded. "Now, Miss Ford, you must put your head down flat on the
grass--this way. There, that's it. Now try to straighten out so that
you can breathe better."

But every move that the suffering girl tried to make caused her such
pain that Dorothy fell upon her knees and tried to fan a breath into
her white face, to prevent her, if possible, from becoming unconscious.

"Here's Joe, with the water," exclaimed Tavia, running to meet the boy,
and hurrying back with the cool liquid.

Ralph pressed the drink to Sarah's lips, while Dorothy waited to bathe
the pale face with what water might remain in the cup.

"Oh!" sighed Sarah. "I feel--better. I thought I was going to die."

"You were faint," Ralph exclaimed. "Do you think you can sit up now?"

Not waiting for a reply, the young man slipped his hand under the
girl's shoulders, and the next minute he had her in his arms.

It was a sad little procession that followed him. Dorothy almost in
tears; Tavia with eyes already overflowing, while Joe kept very close
to Ralph, ready to offer any assistance in carrying Sarah to her home.

But Ralph was well able to manage his burden, for the girl was not
heavy, and she helped herself some by keeping her arms clasped about
his neck. Fortunately the Ford home was not far away.

"There's Mr. Ford," whispered Joe to Tavia, as they reached the gate,
and at that moment the man on the porch raised his head from his paper,
and saw them coming.

Mr. Ford seemed dazed--he did not stir for a moment but sat there
staring wildly at the group now coming up the path.

"Sarah has hurt her ankle," Joe hurried to say, and as his voice roused
the man from his frightened attitude, he sprang up and reached to take
his daughter from the young man's arms.

"I had better put her on a couch," objected Ralph, "Her ankle seems
quite painful."

"What has happened?" asked the father opening the door of the sitting
room and making ready the couch under the window.

"The girls did it," gasped Sarah, "that girl there, Tavia Travers!"

"You!" exclaimed the man, making a threatening move towards the accused
girl.

"It was an accident," interposed Dorothy, "we do not know how it
happened; we found her under a tree in the orchard."

"They do know," persisted the injured girl "They sent me up so
high!--oh, get a doctor, quick!"

Ralph had now placed Sarah on the couch, and "while Mr. Ford hurried to
call his wife, Ralph and Joe hastened off for Dr. Gray, leaving the
three girls together.

"Tell us about it," Dorothy pleaded, not wanting to leave Sarah until
she had obtained some idea of how the accident had occurred.

"I'll tell Squire Sanders," answered the girl on the couch, "and then
you will be arrested, every one of you who--who tried to kill me!"

"Come!" whispered Tavia to Dorothy as Mrs. Ford appeared. "It only
makes matters worse for us to be here."

Then as the mother fell weeping by the couch Tavia and Dorothy left the
room.



CHAPTER VIII

SQUIRE SANDERS AT SCHOOL


Dorothy had always been able to influence Tavia, and to show her that
to do right would be best in the end, although the doing of it might,
at the time, seem very hard, and very unreasonable; but all her efforts
now to induce her friend to go with her to school that afternoon and
make the necessary explanation to Miss Ellis, were without avail--Tavia
absolutely refused to go.

"No matter what comes of it," Dorothy told herself, as she walked sadly
along the path, through the lane back to the schoolyard alone, "I'll
stand by Tavia. She meant no harm, and was no more to blame than any
one else. But I do wish, she had come this afternoon. It looks as if
she were afraid or guilty, to run away from it all."

[Illustration: "WELL, THIS MATTER MUST BE FULLY INVESTIGATED," DECLARED
THE SQUIRE]

The fact that Miles Burlock had not appeared at the Dale home that
morning, according to promise was of little interest to Dorothy now.
Something might have happened to him. Of course, he certainly seemed
determined to settle the business at once, but Dorothy's head and heart
were too full of her school friends' troubles to give much thought to
the Burlock matter. Major Dale had appeared concerned about it however,
and had questioned Dorothy as to whether any one had mentioned to her,
at school or on her way there, the fact that the strange man, likely
Andrew Anderson, had been seen again in Dalton.

"Be very careful to go around by the road," her father had cautioned
her on leaving, "and come directly home from school as I will be
anxious," he said, when he kissed her good-bye.

But Dorothy reached school safely, and was soon surrounded by a crowd
of curious, and not too thoughtful girls, whose incessant questions
added much to her nervous condition. Sharp pains shot through her head,
for the excitement of the day had caused the ache of early morning to
become a bad attack of neuralgia.

"Please do not bother me so," she pleaded, as the girls plied question
after question.

They had heard, of course, of the accident, but how it had happened,
and what had become of Tavia, whether she run away or been
arrested--these and many similar queries kept the excited scholars
buzzing about Dorothy like bees about a hive.

"I do not know how it happened," she insisted, "I wish I did. We found
her under the tree, and helped her home. That is all I know about it."

The class took its place. Miss Ellis began to speak but was surprised
at that moment to see old Squire Sanders enter the room.

"Oh, oh, he's after Tavia!" whispered May Egner to Dorothy. "I'm glad
she is not here."

"Take your seats, young ladies," Miss Ellis directed the class, and
then the squire assuming his business attitude, that of holding his
black-thorn cane well out in front of his left foot, which member in
turn was in advance of its mate, and planting the cane down firmly
twice, he began:

"I've come here to investigate a complaint" and he rapped his stick
noisily on the floor. "Where's the girl who threw Sarah Ford from the
swing, and broke her ankle?"

"Why," stammered Miss Ellis, "I have not heard of any such occurrence.
Does any young lady here know anything of it?"

Dorothy was on her feet instantly. Her flushed face betrayed the
emotion she tried bravely to hide, but when she spoke her voice rang
with truth and confidence.

"Sarah Ford was not thrown from the swing," she began. "We found her
suffering under the tree in the orchard. When the bell rang this
morning she was on the swing, and I was the last girl to enter the
hall. I saw her on the swing then."

A pin, dropped, might have been heard in the room. It was so like a
trial to have Dorothy there "giving testimony."

"Well, that ain't the story I have," drawled the squire. "Where's that
wild harum-scarum Tavia Travers? She's the one that's blamed."

"Tavia Travers!" called the astonished Miss Ellis, but of course there
came no answer.

"Absent!" answered a girl from the back row.

"Can you tell us where she is?" Miss Ellis asked Dorothy.

"At home I believe," answered Dorothy simply.

"Well, this matter must be fully investigated," declared the squire,
"thoroughly and fully investigated. Girls or boys who cut up tricks
must be punished. Dalton will not stand any nonsense when it comes to
life and limb," and again the cane thumped the floor. "I propose, as
squire of the borough, to run this thing down to the very end. School
girls now-a-days put on too many airs--copyin' after college rowdies
with their pranks!"

While the teacher and squire were talking in the hall the pupils took
advantage of the opportunity to express their opinions of the case, and
what were meant to be whispered remarks soon reached a pitch of voice
that called for remonstrance from the squire; and he rapped his cane
vigorously on the door. This had the effect of restoring order, and
also of bringing punishment upon the entire class for the remainder of
the afternoon.

"To think," began Miss Ellis severely, on returning to the room, "that
I should be so disgraced. Not enough to have one or two girls accused
of--of a crime--but that the rest should so misbehave before an officer
of Dalton! I shall be obliged to send to the president of the Board;
something I have never before had to do. But this matter must be
thoroughly investigated. I am very sorry, Miss Dale, that you should be
implicated, sorry for your father's sake. But it all comes of
associating with girls who--who will not be governed by those in proper
authority," and the teacher adjusted her glasses, satisfied that  she
at least held a position as head of Dalton School with dignity and
"authority" that such an office required.

Poor Dorothy! Her aching head was now bowed on the desk before her, and
her sobs were so pitiful, even the most thoughtless girl in the room
was silent and sad to see her weeping so.

Alice MacAllister sat upright at her desk. Her strong face assumed a
daring expression--that of defiance. Alice was counted a good-natured
girl. Something of a romp, perhaps, for her companions often called her
"Mack" and she showed a preference for the boyish nickname.

But to see Dorothy weeping so, accused unjustly!

Alice raised her hand for permission to speak. Miss Ellis signed for
her to go on.

Again that sense of suppressed excitement was felt in the class room.
Something else was going to happen.

"Miss Ellis," began Alice in a firm voice, "Dorothy Dale is not to
blame--"

"That is not for you to decide."

"But we were all there, and know as much about it as she does."

"At least she knows enough to keep her place. Sit down at once," and
the teacher looked very much annoyed.

"Not until you have heard me," and Alice raised her voice a little.

"Go on! Go on!" murmured the girls about her. "Make her listen."

"Sarah Ford was never hurt in the school yard," declared Alice. "My
brother saw her running down the lane just as the bell rang, and she
could not stir when Dorothy and Tavia found her."

"Be silent this moment!" called Miss Ellis, rapping her ruler on the
desk. "Your brother's story is of no account in this matter."

Dorothy raised her head. The room was in a commotion. Miss Ellis seemed
too surprised at the girl's audacity to try to restore order. Perhaps
no one was more surprised than Alice herself, for when she spoke first
she had no idea of going so far,--it was that remark reflecting upon
her brother's veracity that angered her.

Then the sobbing of Dorothy--Alice could not stand it to see her crying
that way; better brave dismissal than sit by and listen to that.

With one glance towards Alice--a glance full of gratitude and love.
Dorothy arose and asked to be excused.

"I must go home--" she stammered "I have such a sick headache."

"Very well," replied the teacher. "You may go."

"May I also be excused?" asked Alice, not boldly but with politeness
restored to her voice.

"By no means," declared Miss Ellis. "I will not brook such insolence."

"I thought I might help Dorothy home," Alice explained, taking her seat
again.

Meanwhile Dorothy was looking for her hat in the cloak room. It was a
small stuffy place, and the day was unusually sultry, so that Dorothy
felt dizzy there, trying to find her hat--and trying to find--Oh! what
was the matter? She could not see! Oh, if some one would only come!

Then, with her hands before her, she stumbled and fell,--and all became
a terrible blank.



CHAPTER IX

THE AFTERMATH


What a day that had been at the Dalton School for girls! Sarah Ford was
at home suffering from a badly sprained ankle; Dorothy Dale had been
taken home ill from over-excitement, and Tavia Travers, for whom Squire
Sanders had been searching, was not to be found anywhere.

The interference of Squire Sanders worried Miss Ellis. A man,
especially an official, knows absolutely nothing about girls and their
ways, and he is sure to antagonize them in any attempt to force them to
betray one another's confidences.

But while the teacher, alone in the school, was reflecting upon the
tasks she should soon undertake to perform; Dorothy lay in her little
room, hot and feverish, with Aunt Libby beside her, bathing the
throbbing head tenderly with cold water and vinegar.

"You've been doin' too much," muttered the old nurse, "a-runnin'
newspapers, helpin' drunkards, teachin' housework to that Tavia, though
'twas a charity to show the child how to iron her own frocks. But you
see deary, it was too much for you, you as has always had Aunt Libby at
your elbow," and the old linen napkin, the softest of those ever ready
for headaches, was dipped again into the blue bowl of cool water and
strong vinegar, then pressed lightly to the feverish brow. "Try to
sleep a bit now," went on the nurse, as Dorothy looked gratefully into
the wrinkled face. "All you want is rest, just a good, quiet rest."

Dorothy closed her eyes. They burned so she pulled the napkin from her
forehead down over the hot lids. That eased the pain, and perhaps she
could sleep, she thought.

Watching her patient closely for a moment, Aunt Libby moved noiselessly
to the window, pulled down the shade, pushed the chair against it so
the breeze might not disturb it, left the room.

As she turned in the narrow hallway her gingham skirt brushed the
crouching form of Joe, who had been waiting at his sister's door, but
the aged lady did not know it.

Joe and Roger had been forbidden admission to their sister's room. She
was to be left entirely alone, in absolute quiet; even Major Dale, who
was assured the attack was not more than a sick headache, did not
presume to disturb his daughter, but Joe had been waiting there in the
hallway. He had an important message to deliver to his sister, one that
"would not keep."

The boy had removed his shoes and now he stole noiselessly into the
room.

"Dorothy! Dorothy!" he whispered. "Are you asleep?"

Dorothy pushed the napkin from her eyes, and raised her arm to invite
her brother's kiss.

"Poor, dear Doro!" he murmured, pressing his cheek to her hot brow. "I
am sorry for you--every one is," and he kissed her again. "But I have
to hurry. Aunt Libby may come back."

He was looking for something in his blouse.

"I had a note from Tavia," he said. "She has gone away--"

"Gone away!" gasped the sick girl.

"Oh, only for a little while. Where is that note!"

The boy unbuttoned his waist, he even shook it out straight from the
string, but no note was to be found in its folds.

"I could not have lost it!" he said, now quite alarmed that the note
should have gotten out of his possession.

"What was it about?" asked Dorothy.

"Why--about--about why she went away," stammered the boy, helplessly.

"Don't you know what was in it?"

"No, it was sealed, and no one but you was to open it. Where could I
have dropped it? I had it--let me see."

The fear that he had dropped the missive where it might be picked up by
those not in sympathy with Tavia, and her troubles, now troubled Joe
sorely. He had promised the girl, most particularly, that he would
deliver the note to his sister that night, and he waited at Dorothy's
door, risking the displeasure of Aunt Libby in keeping that promise.
But now the very worst thing had happened--the note was lost!

"Never mind," whispered Dorothy, "perhaps you will find it in your
jacket. I am sure she only said good-bye; there could not have been
anything so very important in it."

"But if any of the others should get it," he sighed. "They could find
out where she went, and she most particularly wanted to hide for a few
days."

"Hide!"

"Yes, she told me she was sure Sarah would wake up in a few days and
make a 'clean breast of it.' Tavia declared she had done nothing wrong
herself, and that she was not afraid of anybody, but, she said, there
was going to be trouble, and she never ran into trouble when she could
run the other way."

"Well, dear," said the sister, "you had better go to bed now. I am so
tired and I feel a little like sleeping. If you find the note, bring it
to me in the morning; if you do not find it, there is no need to worry.
Tavia will be back to see me as soon as she hears I am sick," and,
giving the boy a good night kiss, Dorothy closed her eyes, while Joe
crept out of the room as noiselessly as he had entered it.



CHAPTER X

APPLE BLOSSOM MAGIC


Two long, dreary days had passed. Dorothy was well again, but, acting
upon the advice of Miss Ellis, she remained away from school, to grow
strong and take a little rest in the fresh air; to be out of doors as
much as possible, the teacher said.

Alice had been to see Dorothy, and had assured her that "every thing
was all right," even the misconduct of Alice in "talking back" had been
forgiven, the girl herself declared.

But there was no explanation offered as to the accident to Sarah Ford.
That was still a mystery to the school girls. Neither had Tavia
returned to Dalton. She was visiting her aunt in Rochester Mrs. Travers
announced.

Major Dale was at his office again, and the boys were not yet home from
school, although the dismissal hour had passed.

There was a rush through the vines at the side of the porch--the next
moment Tavia had Dorothy in her arms.

"You poor dear!" she exclaimed between her kisses. "To think that you
have been sick all alone--without me!"

Dorothy leaned back in her chair--happy.

Tavia was not so much larger or older than she, but just at that moment
she came like one all powerful; Tavia had such a way of being and doing.

"And all on my account," went on Tavia. "I declare you have gotten
thin," and she spanned the bare wrist of Dorothy lovingly. "You never
wrote, of course, as I asked you to."

The lost note! Perhaps other important matters had been overlooked in
its disappearance.

"Is Sarah able to play leap-frog yet?" went on Tavia facetiously. "I
hear Squire Sanders has been inquiring for me--just me, Tavia Travers.
Ahem! Also my goodness me! Sakes alive! If I had only known the worthy
squire wished to hold converse with this--me, you know, I certainly
should have postponed my vacation. Who knows what I have missed?"

Dorothy's face showed how pleased she was; it was so good to hear Tavia
rattle on that way. As Ralph Willoby had said, her heart was right, and
so she made few mistakes where love could be counted on as her guide.

Tavia was stroking Dorothy's head affectionately. The two girls sat on
the rustic bench, Dorothy with her head resting upon the other's
shoulder.

"I made a discovery in Rochester," said Tavia, when she had exhausted
every possible point, covering the sickness of her friend, the fainting
in school and all that preceded and followed that occurrence. "Yes, I
found out that a woman there, who did washing for my aunt, is named
Burlock, and that she has been deserted by her husband--"

"Has she a daughter?" interrupted Dorothy.

"I don't know about that. Aunt Mary said she was such a strange woman,
all the time moving, and no one ever could find out just where her
rooms were. The way one had to do, to get her to do washing, was to
apply to the Charity Bureau."

"But the Bureau must have her address," said Dorothy much interested in
the story.

"Well, Aunt Mary said they could not keep track of her either. They
know she is a good honest woman, who seems always to be in some
trouble--looking for her husband, of course. I made up my mind that the
man she is looking for is your friend Miles. Have you seen him lately?"

"No," replied Dorothy, thoughtfully.

"And I've got more news," went on Tavia, "Miss Ellis has planned a
picnic for Monday. She is going to take our class to Glen Haven Falls.
Do get strong and come, if you don't go I will not."

"Oh, I am sure I will be all right by that time," answered Dorothy, "in
fact I am well now. I am only staying out of school because Miss Ellis
thought it best. I wonder, Tavia, how we could ever think her unfair.
She is the nicest woman--why, when she called she brought me jelly, and
one of her splendid roses that she prizes so much. I felt almost guilty
to have spoken of her, as I did, about the procession on Memorial Day."

"Well, she has not brought me jelly or roses yet," replied Tavia, "and
I hardly think she would, even had I the good fortune to be sick in
bed. Yes, I mean it! I would like to see what would happen if I took
sick. But no danger. Aunt Mary said she would rather feed two men than
give me what I call enough. It is not really enough, you know, but I
call it that," and she stretched out on the bench to show how
"deliciously lazy" common health makes a girl.

"You certainly do your appetite justice," said Dorothy laughing. "Aunt
Libby says it's one thing to eat, and another thing to make your eating
'tell.' Now, you make your food--"

"'Tell.' Certainly I do, and make it 'tell' out loud too. I weigh--how
much do you think?"

"About ninety?"

"One hundred and five," declared the girl. "I wish you could go away
for a week. I am sure you would pick up and get the peaches back in
your cheeks."

"We will go away in vacation time," replied Dorothy. "This month will
not be long going around."

"Now I must run back home. I have not had a chance to tell mother a bit
of news. You know it was the luckiest thing, ma wanted me to go to
Rochester, and when the fuss came all I had to do was clear out. Ma had
been waiting for me to get a new dress and she was so tickled when I
said I would go in my old one. You see, Dorothy, Aunt Mary gives us
lots of things, and no one had been out this spring. Nannie, that's my
cousin, is just a little larger than I am, and oh, you should see the
scrumbunctious dress I am going to wear to the picnic! It is
perfectly--glorious!" and Tavia wheeled around on her toe, threatening
her boasted one hundred and five pounds avoirdupois with disaster.

With a promise to be back again in the evening Tavia left Dorothy and
hurried across the fields to her home.

"Things seem to be straightening out," thought Dorothy. "Every thing is
all right at school, Tavia is back, now if Sarah would only tell--I
have a good mind to run over to see her."

It was a warm afternoon and Dorothy had no need to bother with wraps.
Aunt Libby was at the side porch so that in passing Dorothy called to
her she would be back in a short time, then she crossed through the
orchard, going under the very tree in the shade of which Sarah had been
found suffering. Dorothy stopped and looked up into the branches. They
were very low, some of them, so low that in fruit time girls could pick
the apples without climbing for them.

The blossoms were almost gone. Small sprays lay faded on the grass
where careless hands had scattered them.

Somehow, it seemed to Dorothy that the tree knew all about the
accident; if trees could only talk, she thought. Then, picking up a
spray of the freshest blossoms, she hurried on.

To Dorothy's surprise Mrs. Ford was very cordial in her welcome.
Dorothy had feared the mother of the injured girl might not be so
pleased to see her.

"Walk right in," said Mrs. Ford, opening the door. "I am sure it will
do Sarah good to talk with you. She is so lonesome and talks in her
sleep about the girls," and she led the way to her daughter's room.

The girl was now sitting up; her injured foot rested on a cushioned
chair, while her face still showed signs of suffering.

"Sarah, dear," began Dorothy with an affectionate embrace, "I am so
glad to see you up."

"Are you?" asked the other mechanically.

"Yes, indeed," ignoring her cold manner, "we have been so worried about
you."

"We? Who?" and Sarah toyed nervously with the coverlet that was thrown
over her knees.

"Why all of us; the girls at school. We hope you will soon be able to
come back."

"I will never go back. I have had all I want of Dalton School," and
Sarah tossed her head defiantly.

"Here is a spray of apple blossoms. I brought them from the orchard.
They are so sweet," said Dorothy, "I thought they might make you think
you were out of doors, when you shut your eyes and smell of them."

She offered the spray to Sarah, but the girl made no sign of accepting
it. Dorothy was disappointed. She did not mind the sick girl being
fretful, but she had not expected her to be rude.

A rather awkward silence followed. Dorothy had determined if possible,
to reach the heart of this queer girl, but her best efforts seemed
unsuccessful.

"Well, I had better go," said Dorothy at length, still holding the
blossoms in her hand, and standing beside Sarah's chair.

She turned to leave.

"Good-bye," she said. "I hope you will be better soon."

But Sarah caught her dress. "Oh, Dorothy, do not leave me," she wailed.
"I am so miserable, so unhappy! Throw the apple blossoms out of the
window and come back to me. I need someone! Oh, I feel as if I shall
die, all alone here!"

Sobs choked her words, and she seemed struggling for breath.

"Shall I call your mother?" Dorothy asked anxiously.

"No! no!" cried the sick girl. "I only want you. Dorothy Dale help
me--you must help me or I shall die," and again Sarah broke into
hysterical sobbing.

"What is it, Sarah dear?" pleaded Dorothy. "Tell me how I can help
you," and she bent down closer to the weeping girl.

"Oh, I do not know. I have--Oh, Dorothy have you ever tried to injure
another?"

"Why, no, dear, and I am sure you have not, either."

"Oh, but I have indeed! I can not bear the pain any longer. I must tell
someone--you. You will know how to help me."

A very sad face looked up into Dorothy's. The brown eyes that had
always been thought so proud and haughty were now "begging" for help,
for pity, and for counsel.

"Tell me about it," said Dorothy, taking a trembling white hand in her
own, which was scarcely more steady.

"Did--they--arrest Tavia?" asked Sarah, the words seeming to choke her
in their utterance.

"Why, no. Of course they did not," Dorothy replied. "I just left Tavia
a half hour ago, and she was as light hearted and happy as ever I have
seen her. That little trouble at school did not last long."

"Oh, I am so glad!" exclaimed Sarah. "The thought of it has
just--haunted me!"

"About the accident?" asked Dorothy, trying to help Sarah unburden her
mind.

"Yes. I really did not mean to do so wrong. But when I found you were
all gone, and I tried to jump--"

"Yes, of course it was very wrong of Tavia to send you up so high just
as the bell was going to ring," and Dorothy pressed the other's hand
encouragingly.

"Then when I saw my white dress, all black from the ashes, I ran away!"

"Now do not excite yourself, dear," cautioned Dorothy, for she saw how
Sarah's face had flushed, and did not like to hear her raise her voice
so.

"No, it will not hurt me. The pain of it has been killing me ever
since, but now it will go--with my confession!"

"Hush!" whispered Dorothy, "your mother is in the hall."

"Poor mother!" answered Sarah. "She has tried every way to help me, but
I could not tell her. It seemed so terrible!"

"But how did you hurt your ankle?" asked Dorothy bluntly.

"I fell out--of--the--tree! I did not mean to do it. I was up there
hiding from those who passed in the lane, and all at once the awful
thought came to me that I could slip and blame it on Tavia. But I did
not mean to do it that way. Oh, Dorothy, how dreadfully I have been
punished!" and the sick girl fell to weeping again.

"Never mind dear. We all do wrong sometimes--"

"No, Dorothy Dale, you never do. I have been jealous of your love for
Tavia. I have loved you from the first moment I saw you--that day
helping a poor drunken man to his feet. I said then I would make you
love me, but see how I have failed. You will hate me now."

"No, Sarah dear. You are better and nobler this minute than any other
girl in Dalton, for no other likely, has had to make the heroic effort
to do right that you have been obliged to go through with. You know the
joy there is over one lost lamb when it is returned to the fold?"

Sarah leaned back, and looked up full into Dorothy's face.

"I knew you would know just what to say to me;" she whispered. "Dorothy
Dale you are--an--angel," and the big, brown eyes sent out such a look
of love, admiration and, at last--happiness.

"It all seemed worse to you, thinking of it here, alone, with no one to
say a word to you," continued Dorothy, consolingly. "And then of
course, your father was angry. That only showed how fond he is of you."

"Yes. It seems every thing helps one to do wrong. I really never
accused Tavia of doing it, only that time when we came in, and then I
was so sick and frightened, I had no idea, then, that father would take
it all in earnest. But he rushed right off, and when I heard Squire
Sanders had been at the school--oh, Dorothy how can I tell you how I
felt!"

"But it is all over now," spoke Dorothy soothingly, "and I will take
care that every girl in school knows the greatest part of the trouble
came from a mistake."

"But I can never go back to that school again--"

"Why, of course you can. I have to make an explanation myself when I go
back. You know how hasty Alice is; well she got herself in trouble on
my account, and I feel I must say something about it. I was too sick
then to know just what to say. So, now that Tavia is back, she will
have to give an excuse. Then I can say how the whole trouble was more
of a mistake, than anything else, and how we were all really somewhat
to blame; perhaps one as much as another."



CHAPTER XI

A SOLDIER'S DAUGHTER


The setting right of Sarah's wrong--a task which Dorothy had so
willingly volunteered to perform,--was by no means so simple a matter
as she had attempted to make it. School girls are apt to be fond of
excitement, and this bit of trouble brought with it so many interesting
experiences--the visit of a real squire, the "insurrection" of Alice;
Dorothy falling ill in the cloak room, and that particularly novel
occurrence: the disappearance of Tavia Travers. Surely all these
features would seem to mark a red letter week on the calendar of
"interesting events" at Dalton School. But that was not to be the end
of it.

Dorothy intended to make such an explanation to the class, that the
entire affair would be cleared up without too much blame resting on
Sarah.

A conference with Tavia, held directly after her pathetic interview
with Sarah, resulted in the former declaring she would shoulder any
blame that could be made to fit her. "For a girl with a sprained ankle,
and a bad case of delicate conscience, has troubles enough without
inviting more," Tavia told Dorothy. "Besides," she said further, "it
really was my fault, for I had determined to get even with her that
day, and when I sent her upon the swing I really did not care whether
she 'busted' through the clouds or not; I simply sent her flying.

"So, Doro," she concluded "you say whatever you please, and I will
'stand' for it. Only be sure not to let Miss Ellis know you are going
to make a speech, for she has 'cut out' all speeches--except her own."

"Tavia, Tavia!" exclaimed Dorothy indignantly, "where ever did you hear
such common slang!"

"I picked it up with the 'goods' at Aunt Mary's," replied Tavia
laughing, for she really only made use of the expressions to "horrify"
Dorothy. "Now," she continued, "be all ready for the picnic. We are
only to have a half session, and then go to the Falls."

That evening, after tea, Dorothy found a much-longed-for chance to
"visit" her father--talk with him in his own little study, upstairs and
away from all disturbances. Since her indisposition the major had not
bothered his daughter with any cares of the house or with the children,
neither had he talked with her about the Burlock affair; but now, she
had something to tell him--Tavia had heard of a woman living in
Rochester, of that name--Burlock. What if it were the right party? The
one so long sought for by Miles Burlock! And would the major let
Dorothy go with Tavia to Rochester, and look for them--the poor mother
and little Nellie!

Dorothy found her father in his study waiting for her. How well he
looked now, she thought, for the old hale and hearty look, that which
so often characterizes the veteran soldier, had returned to his face,
making it handsomer than ever because of a lighter shade having settled
on his head--he was getting gray the daughter was quick to notice.

"You look better, Little Captain," he said in greeting her.

"I was just thinking the same thing of you," replied Dorothy, laughing.

"That was a case of great minds running in similar trenches," said the
father.

"Now, we are going to have a good, long chat," began Dorothy, leaning
against the arm of the major's chair so that her head touched his
shoulder. "First, I want to tell you some news Tavia has heard of a
woman in Rochester named Burlock!"

"Burlock!" repeated the major, and he looked pained somehow; distressed
at the mere mention of the name.

"I thought perhaps--it might be the party you--that is, the woman
wanted in the Burlock matter," faltered Dorothy.

"I am afraid, daughter," said the major very solemnly, "you have been
bothering your young head about affairs much too grave for you to
handle. I have always regretted sending you to the Bugle office that
morning, so many complications seemed to follow that experiment. Not
but what you got out a splendid paper--better than this week's issue
for that matter," the major hurried to say, for he noticed a look of
disappointment come over Dorothy's face, "but because I seemed to
thrust you out into the world, unprotected, and even in danger."

Major Dale pressed his lips to his daughter's brow. Indeed she had
always been his little helper, his one dear, only daughter. Her
willingness and ambition to help might have misled him, sometimes he
might have forgotten she was only fourteen years old, but now, seated
there beside him, fussing with his "curls," as she insisted his rather
long locks were, she was little Doro again, the baby that had so often
climbed on his knee, in that very room, begging for one more story when
mother announced "bed time."

The mother was gone now--and Dorothy was sitting there.

"Ah, well!" sighed the major, trying to hide his thoughts, "we must
talk of something pleasant."

"But the Burlock affair," ventured Dorothy. "I thought it would be
splendid to think of finding them. I have not seen Mr. Burlock in some
time. What do you suppose has become of him?"

Major Dale took Dorothy's hand into his own.

"Daughter," he said, "Miles Burlock has passed away."

"Dead!" gasped Dorothy.

"Yes, dead. But he was happy, glad to go, although he left his task
unfinished--he had not found his wife and child."

"What happened to him?" Dorothy asked, bewildered at the suddenness of
her father's words.

"He died from exhaustion as much as from any thing else. That man
Anderson had sent him word to go to Buffalo for 'news.' Believing the
message meant good news, that of locating the wife and child, Burlock
went, but not before he had legally made me guardian of the lost
daughter, and put in my charge the estate that had lately come directly
into his hands through the death of Mrs. Douglass. So the poor man
managed to settle his affairs before he was called away. He came back
to Dalton, sick and discouraged, and determined to put that man Andrew
Anderson in jail. But--well it was not to be. Ralph was with him all
day and all night. We did all we could to make it easier for him, and
Dorothy dear, he closed his eyes--blessing you!"

Dorothy was crying. She tried hard to be brave, but somehow the tears
would come--and she had to cry!

"There, there, daughter," said the major consolingly. "I did not want
to tell you just yet, but perhaps it is as well now as at any other
time. I knew you would be grieved."

"Of course--I am sorry--" sighed Dorothy, "but wasn't it splendid that
he had reformed!"

"Yes, and I must confess I was proud to hear a dying man bless your
name. He declared that you, a mere child, had saved him from a death of
shame. I never knew Dorothy, until Ralph told me there at his bedside,
that you had worked so hard to help in the crusade work, even speaking
to men like Burlock, when they might not have known how to answer you."

"Oh indeed, father," she hurried to say, "I am sure Mr. Burlock was not
intoxicated half the time others thought he was. He seemed so sad
always and would sit on a bench, just thinking of his child perhaps,
when people called him 'drunk'!" and the girl's eyes flashed
indignantly at the thought.

"Well, well, daughter; you were right in showing charity. Yes, charity
is the love of God and our neighbor, and it was that love that led you
to take the hand of that sick and discouraged man. Ralph told me how
you brought him into the Bugle office that afternoon, and how that was
the beginning of a new life to Burlock for he never tasted strong drink
after that day."

"It was because I was like his own daughter or he thought I was, that
he listened to me," said Dorothy, not wanting to claim all the praise
her father so prudently gave.

"At any rate you have the joy of knowing, daughter, that you helped a
fellow creature find the right path. That joy will never leave you."

For a few moments the two sat there in silence. Dorothy had been
favored with many opportunities of "distinguishing herself" as Tavia
would say, but this last--the real joy of helping a man save
himself--this as the major said, would never leave her.

"And all this trouble about the Ford girl?" inquired the major
presently, "has that been settled?"

"Oh, yes, indeed it has," answered Dorothy, scarcely knowing what
explanation to make. "Sarah is very hasty, and of course you know how
Tavia loves to tease."

"But it seems this was no nonsense. Mr. Ford declared he would make Mr.
Travers pay the girl's doctor bill."

"Did he really? I had not heard that. But Tavia was not to blame. Sarah
has admitted it was all a misunderstanding."

"Evidently she has not told her father that," the major replied, "for
only this morning he assured me he would give the doctor's bill into
the hands of a collector."

"Oh, that would be too bad! Tavia's folks are so poor. I must see
Sarah."

"Do you have to straighten that matter out also? Well, Little Captain,
I am afraid you have a busy time of it. When one is willing to help
others it is perfectly surprising how much they can find to do."

"But you see, daddy, someone has to do it,"

"Exactly. I have no objections to you mixing up in school girl affairs;
in fact I think that line of work quite as important as book learning.
It is the best kind of education, for it fits one for their place in
life: but I think, daughter, it might be best for you to give up
helping in the crusade. I would rather not have you risk--perhaps
insults in that work."

"Of course, if you wish it father," answered Dorothy in a disappointed
tone, "but if I could just help out in what Ralph had planned for the
girls--a sort of auxiliary work--I would like it. The meetings would be
held in the afternoon, and we would have little benefit affairs, to
help defray the expenses of the League."

"Oh, that sort of thing," agreed the major, "that would be all right
and strictly in a girl's line. Everybody should show sympathy with the
movement, for it means more to Dalton than we can estimate. Children,
particularly, will be benefited, so that there can be no objection to
them helping in their own way."

Dorothy felt greatly relieved now that her father had spoken on this
subject, for she had feared he would ask her to give up, entirely, the
temperance work she had become so interested in. The most prominent
women in Dalton were identified with the movement, and with such
leaders surely no girl need be afraid to follow. Besides, as Major Dale
said, children would be those most benefited, therefore children should
do what they could to help the work along.

"I am so glad you do not object to the Auxiliary, father," she said, as
he arose to bid her good night. "Of course I shall never meet another
Miles Burlock, and therefore I shall not have to make a personal appeal
to any one again," and she looked sadly into her father's face. "Do you
think we will ever find little Nellie?"

"Yes, daughter, I feel certain we will soon hear something of the heirs
of Miles Burlock. But there now," and he kissed her again, "run along
to bed. Your brothers are snoring by this time."

"Good night, daddy dear," she said, pressing his cheek lovingly to her
own, "I never forget that I am the daughter of a soldier, and that
thought, more than anything else--earthly, takes care of me--guides me
aright, and makes me proud of being Dorothy Dale!"



CHAPTER XII

AN UNPROVOKED ATTACK


The beautiful month of June was jotting down her days with sweetest
floral mottoes--each in its turn paying tribute to the Queen of Months.
Roses had come, daisies were weaving the fields into a cloth of white
and gold, the side roads of Dalton were framed with clouds of snowy
dogwood, and that "rarest of days" the perfect day in June had come.
And this was to be the picnic day for the girls of Dalton school.

Tavia was over to Dorothy's house very early. She wanted to borrow a
lunch box, and, incidentally, to hear Dorothy's opinion of the
"glorious dress" from Rochester.

"Isn't it sweet?" she began pirouetting on the board walk, at the side
door of the Dale house, while waiting for Joe to find an empty cracker
box for her lunch.

"It is pretty," agreed Dorothy, examining the dress critically. "Those
pink ribbons are so becoming to you."

"Cousin Nannie had it made for a party, so it ought to do for a
picnic," Tavia said. "How do you feel to-day Doro? I have been thinking
you look--sort of 'peaked' as Aunt Libby would say. Have you been
worrying about the explanation business? Because if you feel sensitive
about it, just leave it to me. I am not the least bit bashful, you
know."

"I feel well enough," Dorothy assured her, "and I haven't been
worrying--about that any way," and Dorothy smiled to convince her
friend that nothing serious was disturbing her peace of mind.

"Well, we assemble at nine you know; check our dinner pails. Thanks
Joe, that will do nicely, and if I have any left I will leave it in the
box when I return it. After a bluff at study, and an exchange of
compliments, for my dress particularly (no one else will have anything
like this) we will expect to hear something from you, Doro. Really,
this business of making speeches in school is quite an accomplishment.
Had I known that Alice was going to 'spout' the way she did that day I
left for my vacation--ahem! you noticed Joe, how I said that? Well, I
should have postponed the trip had I any idea there would be such
stunts going on in lady-like society. But Doro, how is Sarah? Did you
see her yesterday?"

"Yes, I saw her just for a moment," and Dorothy looked the other way to
hide the serious thoughts that the meeting with Sarah recalled.

"And she has forgiven me for that push into the clouds? Now she is not
so bad after all. I feel as if I should bring her some flowers or
something; as a peace offering, you know."

"Well, I would not go over just to-day," said Dorothy, "for the doctor
is to take the splints off her ankle--"

"Splints? Was it as bad as that? The poor girl, no wonder she--fibbed.
I would too, if I had to stand for splints."

"Why don't you say 'stand splints,' and not use that horrid slang,"
corrected Dorothy.

"But she didn't stand them, she stood for them, with the other foot.
You see, Doro, sometimes the much despised slang is--the real thing,"
and with a tantalizing swish of her skirts, and a most frivolous toss
of her head Tavia called "Ta-ta!" and dashed across the fields with the
lunch box under her arm.

"She's the kind of girl!" commented Joe, who had been busy making a bow
and arrow for Roger. "If her brother Jack had a little of her spunk he
would not be where he is."

"Why?" asked Dorothy, "doesn't Johnnie get along well at school?"

"At school?" echoed Joe, "he is never there to get along at all. I
think it is clothes that keeps him home. I was going to ask Aunt Libby
if any of mine might be spared--"

"Why, of course, you have some that are too small. I will see about
them myself. It is too bad those children have no one to manage for
them."

"What's the matter with their mother?"

"I don't know--that is--of course they have their mother, but she does
not seem to know how to manage."

"And we have you and you do seem to know," responded the boy, trying
the bow to make sure it would not shoot backwards. "Well, sis, you're a
brick and Tavia, well, she is brick-dust, at any rate, but Jack--well
he is Jack, and that is all there is to it. I'm going to ask father to
let him carry Bugles next week. What little he could earn would do
something for him."

"Mr. Travers is such a nice man," went on Dorothy, "I think Tavia is
exactly like him."

"And Jack is like his mother. But we musn't back-bite," seeing the look
of reproach on Dorothy's face. "I hope you have a jolly good time at
the picnic."

One hour later the girls of Dalton school were crowded around Dorothy,
asking all kinds of well-meant questions concerning her health. Tavia,
too, came in for her share of the queries, although hers did not relate
to health, but to other interesting little confidences, least of which
was, by no means, the new dress.

But the fact that her own cousin Nannie gave it to her put Tavia at
ease and questions that might otherwise seem impertinent were
considered compliments--showing what a "stir" the dress created.

Dorothy looked a trifle pale, and the light blue muslin gown she wore
brought out a mere gleam of the pink flush that usually shown in her
cheeks. Her blonde curls--the delight of all her friends, fell in a
mass about her shoulders, so that even Tavia in the famous pink and
white dress did not outdo Dorothy in pretty looks.

Alice wore a buff linen that suited her "golf style" admirably. She had
the air of the well-trained college girl, the result, perhaps, of
annual trips to the seashore, where she was allowed to indulge in
boating, swimming, and other "manly sports" as she termed the exercise.

Belle Miller, otherwise known as "Tinkle," was as "dear and dainty" as
ever, in a creamy white swiss, and May Egner wore lavender, although
fully conscious of the disastrous effects of picnic sun on that
perishable shade. It was a "last year's" gown, so May decided she might
better get a few more turns out of it and this, she thought, would be
one of the rare occasions, when a lavender might be worn, "with
impunity."

All the girls wore appropriate costumes, and, when the classes
assembled, the room presented a veritable holiday look. Study seemed
the last thing to be thought of amid such gaiety.

Even Miss Ellis wore a white collar and cuffs, a relief from her usual
somber black, and as she touched the bell she smiled pleasantly to her
pupils, plainly bidding them a happy holiday.

"Young ladies," she began, "we will take a brief review of last
Friday's work. It is so near closing time we must not waste an entire
day."

Dorothy felt the time had arrived for her to speak.

How she dreaded to mar that happy school hour with such unpleasant
reminders of past troubles!

But she had promised Sarah; moreover it was due the entire class that
the occurrence should be disposed of honorably.

Tavia was waiting anxiously. Alice also fidgeted at her books. Finally
Dorothy raised her hand. The motion was not seen at once by Miss Ellis,
but it is safe to say no other person in the room missed it.

A stir of excitement caused the teacher to look up and she bowed to
Dorothy.

"I am sorry, Miss Ellis," began Dorothy with hesitation, "to refer to
anything unpleasant today, but I have promised Sarah Ford to make an
explanation for her--she of course could not come herself."

"What is it Dorothy?" asked the teacher, although she no doubt guessed
what the girl wished to say.

"I just want to state that Sarah did not intend to blame anyone for her
accident--she had only cried that it was our fault when she was
suffering so, and did not mean that those about her should have taken
it up as they did. She wished me to apologize for her, and to say that
the whole thing was an accident, the reports as well as the injury."

"Thank you," said Miss Ellis as Dorothy sat down. "I am very glad
indeed that the unpleasant happening has been disposed of."

Alice was on her feet next.

"I also want to apologize, Miss Ellis," she broke out in her "boyish
tones," adding: "I should not have spoken as I did, when you asked me
to be silent. I was rude to do so."

"A fault atoned for is a lesson learned," commented the teacher, as
Alice took her seat.

It seemed to the girls the entire session would be given up to
apologies and "love feasts," but when Tavia arose there was a decided
murmur through the room.

"Fluffy!" whispered the girl in the very last seat referring to Tavia's
fancy dress.

"Full bloom!" said another, meaning that the pink and white dress put
the "Tiger Lily," as they called Tavia, in full bloom.

But these remarks had no effect on Tavia.

"I believe," she began bravely, "that I was the real cause of the
trouble. I did swing Sarah too high, I was angry about Memorial Day,
and blamed her for taking Dorothy's place. I am very sorry."

At that moment a man appeared at the door. It was Squire Sanders!

In he tramped, his cane beating a formidable march in advance of his
steps, and his green-black hat kept on his head making a poor show of
his manners in a girls' schoolroom.

"I just come in to settle up that little matter of the Ford girl," he
drawled. "I see you've got that wild harum-scarum Travers' girl back
again."

"The matter has been settled." Miss Ellis interrupted.

"Has, eh? Well, I've not been notified to that effect and I continue my
services until I am officially notified to quit," he announced,
bringing his cane down in a "full stop."

How odious his presence was in the room at that moment. Tavia's face
crimsoned when he referred to her as a "harum-scarum" and only a
warning look from Dorothy kept her from replying to his insult.

"I think, Squire Sanders," said Miss Ellis, "that Mr. and Mrs. Ford are
satisfied the affair was an accident. It was a
misunderstanding--blaming the pupils."

"Accident or no accident, that's no account to me. I'm on this case,
and I intend to see it through."

"Mean old thing!" said one girl, somewhat above a whisper, "he just
wants the fine. Let's chase him!"

It was quite evident more than one girl felt like "chasing" the
obnoxious squire, but he held his ground and continued to punctuate his
impolite remarks with that noisy cane.

"I want to see Octavia Travers at my office," he announced, "and I want
her to come right along with me now!"

"Squire Sanders!" cried Miss Ellis, shocked and alarmed. "I cannot and
will not permit you to take a pupil from this room!"

"Oh, you won't eh?" the squire looked more unpleasantly than ever.
"Well, I'd like to see you stop me! Perhaps you would like to give up
your job here? There's more after it, and some knows more about the
ways of keeping wild girls down than Rachel Ellis does, too. I would
advise you not to interfere with an officer. Come along, Miss Travers."

"She will not!" called out Alice. "My father is a town committeeman and
I know something about the laws of Dalton. Show us your warrant!"

This was a surprise to Squire Sanders. He never expected his authority
would be questioned--and by a mere schoolgirl.

"Warrant, eh?" he sneered. "Maybe you would like to come along
yourself, since you are so smart!"

A wild thought flashed through the mind of Alice. What if he should
take both her and Tavia to his office!

It would be a case of false arrest, and cost the squire his place in
Dalton!

"Get ready!" he called again to Tavia, who now seemed to regard the
whole thing as a joke, and was smiling broadly.

"Don't move a step!" called Alice, while Miss Ellis looked on
helplessly.

"Now, that settles it," cried out the squire, red with anger. "I'll
take you, too. Come right along here!"

Alice shot a meaning look at Miss Ellis and stepped out.

"Come, Tavia," she said, "the more the merrier. Girls we will be back
in time for the picnic," and, taking the "cue" from Alice, Tavia also
stepped out, and with her, marched off behind the squire.



CHAPTER XIII

A QUEER PICNIC


And that was to be picnic day!

A queer holiday, indeed, with two girls taken from the
classroom--arrested!

Yes, that was what it amounted to, in spite of the jolly way Tavia and
Alice trooped off, making "faces" and doing fancy "steps" back of the
squire.

Miss Ellis sat at her desk dazed, and stunned. She could not realize it
all--a squire coming into her room--threatening her with dismissal, and
taking two girls off to the common police court for a "hearing."

She was not a woman given to showing her feelings, but this seemed more
than she could bear; tears came into her eyes, fell upon her books and
then she bowed her head--she had to cry!  Dorothy was at her side
instantly.

"Dear Miss Ellis," she murmured, "don't take it so seriously. It will
be all right. I'm sure those two girls are well able to take care of
themselves, and I suspect Alice went more for mischief than for
anything. Perhaps I had better run down to father's office, and tell
him about it; he will know exactly what to do."

The girls all looked on with sad faces. They had never before seen Miss
Ellis cry in school. But she raised her head now, and seemed better
able to control her feelings.

"I think, Dorothy," she said, "it may be better to wait awhile.
Something may happen to--save the girls from really going to his
office. We will try to study, and perhaps we may have our picnic yet."

But it was a difficult matter to apply minds to books that morning; too
much had happened to be turned readily aside for mere school work. Such
whispering had never been permitted before, although the girls did try
to be kind to Miss Ellis, she looked so sad and worried.

Meanwhile the two girls, Tavia and Alice, had been having their own
experiences.

Upon reaching the street they stepped up along side the squire, so that
persons in passing thought they were merely walking along to keep the
aged man company.

But Ralph Willoby was not so easily misled.

He was just leaving the Bugle office as they came along, and he
instantly detected a "story."

"Come on," said Alice, "you can be our counsel. We are under arrest."

"No need," objected the squire, "I am well able to attend to this case."

"But your office is public," answered Ralph, "and I guess I'll go along
and see what happens."

"But I say I don't want any interference," and the squire raised his
voice. "You newspaper scamps always get things wrong anyway."

"Probably because you do not give us a chance to get them right,"
retorted Ralph. "This time we will try to stick to facts."

"Well, when I'm ready to give them out you can have them, but not
before," insisted the angry squire.

"But I'm going along, just the same," declared Ralph, as Tavia stepped
back to walk with him, so that the squire was obliged to go on with
Alice, who really seemed to be enjoying the experience.

The office of the justice of the peace was a dingy, dirty little place.
It had served Dalton for the small needs of a public office for some
years, Squire Sanders, of course, collecting a good income for its
yearly rental.

An old bench was stretched in front of the desk.

The girls sank down on this, making queer "faces" and comical gestures.

"My first offense!" sighed Alice, with mock sadness.

"Same here!" said Tavia in similar tone.

"Since you wish it," said Ralph to Alice, "I can act as counsel. You
know I really am studying law, and there is nothing like taking cases
for experience."

"Now, no skylarking here," called out the squire, "I want to hear all
about that case, let me see--the case of--I've got it somewhere," and
he turned the soiled pages of the "records" over rather roughly,
considering they were supposed to belong to the town of Dalton.

Tavia was biting her lips. She felt every moment the laugh would get
the better of her and get out on its own accord, but she tried bravely
to suppress it.

Ralph was whispering to Alice. Evidently he was pleased with the
information she imparted, for he, too, smiled broadly as the squire
called:

"Octavia Travers, step up to the bar!"

"What for?" asked Tavia saucily.

"To swear--take your oath--make your affidavit," called the squire
sharply.

"What's the charge?" interrupted Ralph.

"'Sault an' batt'ry," snapped the squire.

"Who signed the warrant?" questioned Ralph further.

"See here young feller!" and the squire rapped his cane vigorously upon
the desk, "if you don't let me go on with this case I'll kick you out."

"Oh, no, you won't. I have as much right here as you have, and I intend
to see that you do not, in any way, insult the young ladies!"

"You young scamp!" yelled the squire, making a dash for Ralph and
bringing his cane down squarely on the young man's head, at which Alice
and Tavia screamed.

A moment later the men were scuffling on the floor.

"I'll teach you!" the squire kept yelling.

"Let me go!" shouted Ralph.

"Oh, we must get help!" screamed Alice. "Tavia, run quick, to the
office next door. That man is crazy. He will kill Ralph," and, while
Tavia ran to one side of the place, Alice hurried to the other, so that
all possible help would be called at once.

In a short time the little place was crowded. Some came to aid, and
others came to see what was wrong. Alice and Tavia stood by with very
white faces. Alice had pulled the squire away from Ralph and the aged
man finally had been subdued, that is two men had succeeded in keeping
him away from Ralph, but not until the young man had been considerably
injured. The squire was still sputtering and those who tried to quiet
him had a hard task of it. Every time they would let go his arms he
would throw them up with new energy, trying to get at Ralph again,
until at last it was found necessary to go to the constables' desk; get
out the only pair of handcuffs in Dalton, and put them on the wrists of
the obstreperous official.

This, of course, was great fun for the boys who had gathered about, and
who had more than one grudge against Squire Sanders. Many a time he had
chased them off the coasting hill, he had often spoiled a good day's
swimming, and as for apples--a boy never knew when he was safe to
"borrow" one from any orchard in Dalton.

But the tables were turned now--and the boys were glad of it. A taste
of his own medicine would do the aged man good, they declared.

Not being able to do more than shout and kick, Squire Sanders soon
"gave out" and fell back sullenly in a chair near a window. Ralph's
head was bleeding.

"Oh, we must get Ralph to the drug store," insisted Alice. "Perhaps Dr.
Gray will be there. He is hurt, I am sure," and she was almost in
tears, for indeed Ralph looked very much injured--his lip was cut, and
girls cannot well stand the sight of blood.

Ralph felt quite well able to walk, he declared, and assured the girls,
laughingly, that their case and his would now likely "come up" together
in the next term of court.

But just as Alice, Tavia, Ralph, and a few sympathizing friends were
ready to leave the office Franklin MacAllister, president of the
Selectmen of Dalton, and father of Alice, stepped into the place. He
had heard of the disturbance, and having power to act in any such
emergency, he hurried to the scene.

"Well," he exclaimed, seeing his daughter there, "what in the world are
you doing here?"

"Oh, I made all the trouble," replied Alice, "that is, Tavia and I made
it. We were arrested--"

"Arrested!" repeated the father, incredulously.

"Yes, indeed we were. And Mr. Willoby only stepped in to help us when
he got in trouble."

Mr. MacAllister talked earnestly to Ralph. Plainly both men were of the
same opinion--either Squire Sanders was crazy or he was too old and
incompetent to hold office.

"What are we going to do with him, Mr. President?" asked one of the men
who had the unpleasant duty of standing by and keeping guard over the
squire.

"Bind him over to keep the peace," replied the president. "Squire
Sanders," he called, and thereat every one held his or her breath,
"this is a sad predicament to find an officer in. In fact the
occurrence is a disgrace to the town of Dalton."

The squire shifted uneasily in the chair. He had not spoken coherently
since the struggle with Ralph, and was still in an ugly mood. At the
same time he understood who now addressed him; the president of the
board; the man who had authority to bring matters about so as to
deprive him of the office he had held for years.

"Stand up!" called the president, and the squire shuffled awkwardly to
his feet.

"What have you to say in this matter? We have a quorum of the board
here present and we may as well dispose of this case. There is also
another count pending against you. How did you come to let that man
Anderson slip out of Dalton so easily--help him out in fact? Was his
money better than that of the people of this town, who for years have
been paying you for duties that you have never honestly performed?"

At the mention of Anderson, Squire Sanders' face turned from red to a
deadly ashen.

"Look out," cautioned Ralph aside to the president, "he is old you
know, and might drop at any moment."

"Not a bit of it," went on Mr. MacAllister. "He is too tough for that.
Speak up, Sanders. This is your last chance."

But the man never moved his lips. Sullen and beaten he sat there while
Mr. MacAllister, recounted some of his misdeeds.

"You have disgraced your office," he declared, "but the most outrageous
of your offenses was that of bringing into this office two innocent
schoolgirls--doctoring up a charge against them, trying to force them
to acknowledge they had taken part in an affair that they had
absolutely nothing to do with--and all this you did for the paltry fee
that goes with each case on your books. Now, Sanders, I have spoken to
the members of the board here present and the verdict in your case
is--that you leave Dalton inside of ten days. The penalty for contempt
in the matter will be a public trial, and, no doubt, imprisonment."

It was a difficult matter to restrain the boys present. They wanted to
cheer--to shout, but were not allowed to do so. Ralph had quite
recovered himself now, and so insisted on going alone to the drugstore
to have his slight wounds dressed if necessary. Two of the selectmen
looked after Sanders, releasing him of the handcuffs, and advising him
"to make himself scarce" around Dalton, until the feeling against him
had quieted down some. All the defiance had left him now; he scarcely
raised his head as he crept out the back way to his rooms next door.

Upon hearing the school story in full Mr. MacAllister decided to take
his daughter and Tavia back to the school room himself, and set every
thing right with Miss Ellis and her pupils.

"You have had a rough time of it lately," he commented as he and the
two girls made their way to the school.

"But Alice is a--a brick!" declared Tavia, in appreciation of her
friend's assistance. "She helped us splendidly."

"Glad to hear it," answered the father, "Alice is our tom-boy, but she
is true-blue, eh, Bob?" he said patting his daughter affectionately.
"You knew what I meant about the man Anderson, did you not, Tavia?" he
went on. "That was your 'special friend' I believe."

"Oh, I have met him," replied Tavia laughing, "but I think now the
reason the old squire wanted to get me into this trouble was because he
thought it might affect Dorothy Dale, as she is my special friend.
Somehow the Burlock-Anderson affair seemed to be aimed at the Dales."

"Oh, yes, no doubt of it," answered Mr. MacAllister, "but we think we
are on the track of settling the matter now."

Tavia felt she could scarcely wait to tell all this to Dorothy, for she
had been wondering what had become of the Anderson affair. Alice looked
proudly up at her father as they neared the school.

"They may think you have come to take someone else away," she said
laughing. "This has been a queer picnic day."

"Don't worry about that," he answered. "You must have an extra good
time to make up for your troubles and disappointment, I will see what I
can do for you."

Alice cast a meaning glance at Tavia. If her father undertook to give
Dalton school a treat it would surely be something worth while, Alice
was sure, and so, with that bright prospect uppermost in her mind, she
led her father into the school room.



CHAPTER XIV

THE SECRET


It took but a short time for Mr. MacAllister to explain everything
satisfactorily to Miss Ellis and her pupils. He was a gentleman any
daughter might well be proud of, and, indeed, Alice showed a pardonable
pride as he stood there smiling and assuring the teacher that, as
president of the Selectmen of Dalton, he would promise a holiday to the
class that would make up in every way for the disappointment of the
morning.

When the visitor had departed, Miss Ellis announced she would carry out
the intended program as far as a half session was concerned, but, as it
was too late to go on the picnic then the pupils might go home and
enjoy themselves as they wished.

Tavia and Alice were now regarded as heroines. To think they had really
been in the court, and that they had been witnesses to--"a fight," as
Tavia declared Squire Sanders' attack on Ralph was "nothing more nor
less than a common roll around fight."

Finally the picnic lunches were disposed of, and Tavia took Dorothy's
arm as they walked homeward--she had much to tell Dorothy and knew that
no girl would interrupt such apparent confidence as "arm in arm"
indicated.

"And what do you think Mr. MacAllister said?" began Tavia. "That old
Squire Sanders let that horrible man get out of Dalton--the man who
frightened us so!"

"Did he?" replied Dorothy, absently.

"And you knew, of course, about poor Miles Burlock--he died when you
were sick, so I did not tell you anything about it."

"Yes, father told me."

"What are you thinking of, Doro? You are not listening to me at all."

"I have so much to think of," answered Dorothy, smiling. "I can hardly
keep my thoughts in line."

"But you should have seen Alice--Oh, she just pulled the old squire by
the collar. She didn't wait for a man to come. And look at my dress!
Isn't it a sight? I might have known there would be an earthquake or a
fight when I attempted to wear anything like this."

"It is too bad, but that is a straight tear. You can easily mend it."

"But Ralph's eye; that will not darn so neatly. I hope that hateful old
squire never shows his ugly 'phiz-mahogony' in Dalton again."

"Do you think Ralph is much hurt?" Dorothy inquired anxiously. "Wasn't
it disgraceful?"

"Perfectly rambunctious!" declared Tavia, "although it might have been
jolly good fun if Ralph had another fellow in his place--one not quite
so careful of the squire's feelings and features. But you should have
seen the squire with the handcuffs on! Oh! it was better than the play
I saw in Rochester," and Tavia relieved her pent-up jollity by tossing
into the air the borrowed lunch box and making "passes" at it, with
queer pranks in imitation of the jugglers she had seen at Rochester.

"Tavia," asked Dorothy, very seriously, "do you think you could keep a
secret?"

"Keep a secret? Dorothy darling, Dare-me!"

"Now, no joking, Tavia," insisted Dorothy, "this is a matter of
importance."

"Oh, I just love importance. That was what mostly happened to me and
Alice to-day in the squire's office--importance!"

"Well, if you really can't be serious--

"Oh, but, Doro dear, just try me. I shall weep if you say so,
only--pardon, mamselle, but do not, if you please, make that weep too
long, a few sniffs only, for I have not with me in this fleshling
costume ze 'kerchief," and she made a most ridiculous little French
"squat," further evidence of the Rochester play.

"I am afraid Tavia, that trip to your Aunt Mary's has affected your
head; they say nothing can do so more effectively than certain kinds of
plays."

"Well, the one I saw was the certain kind. Why, last night mother
nearly had nervous prostration because I was practicing up in my room.
I was trying to do a fall--and I did it all right."

"How foolish you are, Tavia," said Dorothy slightly frowning, "I would
not think of such nonsense if I were you."

"Yes, it was awfully foolish, for it knocked the ceiling down in the
kitchen, just dusting Johnnie's pompadour. The escape, however, made
mother happy, so that the ceiling did not count."

Dorothy "gave in." She had to laugh and did laugh so heartily she was
obliged to sit down on the grass to enjoy the "tragedy" as Tavia
described the stage fall and the "ceiling drop."

"But the secret?" demanded Tavia, making sure her skirt would not be
stained, before taking her place on the grass beside Dorothy.

"Yes, I do want to tell you," answered Dorothy, "Now listen. You know
Squire Sanders was particularly anxious that you should stand all the
blame for Sarah's accident."

"Particularly anxious? He was dead set on it. Polite language doesn't
fit the case."

"Tavia, you really are too slangy. It may be all right just for fun, in
talking to girls, but some day you will be sorry. It will become a
habit."

"Like Jake Schmid taking the pledge. I saw him yesterday very close
to--a saloon!"

"Poor Jake!" said Dorothy with a sigh. "But he does seem to try--"

"To take the pledge? Indeed he does and I admire his perseverance.
That's just the way I try to avoid slang."

"I am afraid, Tavia, we will not accomplish much in the way of
confidences, if you persist in being--ridiculous," and Dorothy made as
if to continue on her way home.

"Sit right down there, Dorothy Dale," insisted Tavia, pulling her
friend's skirt, and bringing Dorothy down beside her rather suddenly.
"I will have to play the villain and demand that 'secret'!"

"Well, it is simply this: I think I see the motive Squire Sanders had
in trying to disgrace you."

"Let me see it quick!" snapped Tavia.

"Didn't your father run against him last year for the office of Town
Squire?"

"Certainly," said Tavia, briefly.

"And the only reason he did not get the office was because the squire
was so old the men thought it best not to disturb him just then."

"Right, again," answered Tavia.

"Election time is now almost here. Your father would be up for the
office again. Don't you see by bringing trouble to you and your folks
your father would become unpopular?"

"And get left!"

"Yes; be defeated."

"But he will not!" and Tavia's brown eyes danced significantly. "The
squire is down and out. And worse yet he has to run for his money. Now
my own dear dad will have a chance. Oh, Doro, I love politics better
than eating. I hope some day soon, while Tavia Travers is still in
circulation, the women will vote in Dalton same as they do in
Rochester--they don't just exactly vote in Rochester, but a lot of them
talk about it."

"Now you must not mention my suspicions," cautioned Dorothy, "for I
must speak to father first. It does not seem fair that the Fords should
be blamed for making statements about you that, perhaps, the squire put
into their heads."

"Dorothy Dale, you would make a first class lawyer, and when you want a
job at it I will engage you to defend my case. But I do not see how I
am to keep all that momsey. It would be so good to have father back at
a desk again. They say he really was a first class justice out in
Millville. And he just hates his work now--so little wages; mom cannot
seem to make them go around--me and Johnnie; Johnnie mostly gets the
knot at the end."

"It certainly would be splendid to have him get the position. And I am
sure father will do all he can for him: but I would not mention it to
your mother, just yet."

"All right Doro, I have given you my promise, but you have made me so
happy!" and Tavia hugged Dorothy so enthusiastically that the latter
was obliged to beg off.

"And I tell you what," went on Tavia, "when Pop gets Squire Sander's
place I--this--me--you know" and she made another wonderful, sweeping
all-around bow, "I will be 'city clerk.' I will keep the books and
Dorothy Hill-and-Dale, if ever your name gets on the books it shall be
promptly eliminated, elucidated, expurgated--there now! Don't you think
I should be in the grad. class? I was looking up words with 'ate'
in--my favorite pastime,--and I came across that bunch."

"I do really think, Tavia, that you would do better at school if you
only tried. We cannot always have studies that we are especially
interested in. It is like the scales in piano practice, they give us
the mechanical work for pretty dances and other brilliant pieces."

"Well, we have no piano, so I do not have to worry about that. I
suppose you will play at the closing exercises?"

"Miss Ellis has asked me to. But Tavia, we really must be going. I have
promised to go over to Sarah's this afternoon."

"May I go with you? I just would like to feel that we had talked it all
off, you know. I do not want to think Sarah has any hard feelings."

"Certainly; come, I am sure Sarah will be glad to see you, and her
mother is very pleasant. Be careful not to tell too much about to-day's
affairs, It might worry Sarah."

"If I forget myself you just squint, and I'll be as mum as a mummy."

So Dorothy and Tavia started off homeward, arm in arm.



CHAPTER XV

DOROTHY IN POLITICS


The news of Squire Sanders' downfall spread rapidly throughout Dalton.
To the men interested in public affairs it was no surprise, for they
had known, of course, of his shortcomings; but there were those in the
town who looked upon the "disgraceful scene" in the office that morning
as something too serious for ordinary treatment--it should be brought
to the attention of the sheriff, they declared.

Among those of that opinion was Mr. Ford, father of Sarah. He was one
of the men who felt they had been wronged, personally, by the squire,
and in reference to this matter Mr. Ford called upon Major Dale.

It was late that same afternoon, when Dorothy and Tavia were visiting
Sarah, that Mr. Ford arrived at the office of Major Dale.

"I have been a fool," he told the major, "to listen to such arguments
as that man made against mere children. Of course my daughter was
injured and that angered me; but it was the foolish talk of that old
man which made me think I should have revenge--revenge upon a girl no
more guilty than a babe in its cradle."

Mr. Ford spoke with much bitterness. Men do not like to make such
mistakes, but those of high character are always ready to do what they
can to right such wrongs.

"But there was no real harm done?" interrupted the major.

"No harm done! To take two innocent girls into that office and accuse
them of--I don't know what! Why, Major, it was simply outrageous," and
Mr. Ford paced the floor impatiently.

"It was a lucky thing that my young man, Ralph Willoby, happened along,
although it seemed unlucky enough for him. But I believe he is not
injured beyond a cut lip and bruised eye. The old squire seemed to have
entirely lost control of himself. This comes from keeping incompetent
men in office--just through sentiment."

"Exactly. They can do more harm than one would imagine. Think how he
talked me into the idea that this poor Travers family should pay my
daughter's doctor bill! And I told him to go ahead and collect it!"

Each time that this thought came to Mr. Ford it seemed to him more
repugnant. First, that he should have blamed Tavia without
investigating the matter himself; next that he should have allowed a
man like Squire Sanders to "humbug" him.

"Well," said the major, "we now have it in our power to put the right
man in the office of Justice of the Peace. You know John Travers was up
for it last year."

"I do, but--he is not of our party."

"Yet you admit he is the right man?"

"I know of no one better fitted for the office."

"Then make it the man this time, and leave the party aside. Franklin
MacAllister was in this afternoon. He says the appointment must be made
at once, but that your faction in the council will oppose Travers. Your
vote can decide the matter."

Mr. Ford was silent for a moment. Men think it almost a sacred
obligation to "stick to their party," especially when that party puts
the member in office with the understanding that their interests shall
be looked after.

"It may cost me my place on the board--" said Mr. Ford thoughtfully,
"but that will not affect my family, or my pocket-book--"

"Still you have been a good member," interrupted the major, "and we
cannot afford to lose you, either."

"But you said Mac. stated my vote would carry it one way or other?"

"Yes, he has canvassed it."

"Then Travers shall be the man!" and Mr. Ford brought one hand down on
the other in a most determined, and defiant manner.

"Strange," said Major Dale, "but the children have settled this for us.
My little girl Dorothy had the whole thing planned out, and talked me
over to her way. She is very fond of the Travers girl, you know."

The office door opened and Mr. MacAllister entered.

"Hullo!" he said cheerily. "Been lobbying, Major?"

"Seems so."

"Well, Travers has my vote," Mr. Ford hurried to say.

"What, going back on your party?" said Mr. MacAllister, laughing.

"Either that or go back on my own daughter," commented Mr. Ford. "It
seems this is the girls' election."

The major could hardly disguise his pride--Dorothy had certainly "been
busy" lately, and every undertaking of hers had met with success. A
girl, after all, may be something more than a pretty doll, he thought.
But the whole thing is to get them to exert their influence in the
right direction. See how Dorothy had helped in the liquor crusade. And
without "soiling her finger tips," thought the major, proudly.

And while this caucus was being held in the major's office, Dorothy was
conducting another sort of meeting at the Ford home.

Tavia and Sarah had "made up" most affectionately. Sickness, sometimes
is a powerful teacher, and afforded, in Sarah's case, time to think
reasonably which was plainly what she needed.

"I always thought the girls disliked me," she told Tavia, "that, of
course, made me dislike most of them. But I did love Dorothy," she
hastened to declare, "and I was jealous of her love for you."

"I don't blame you a bit," answered Tavia, in her direct way. "If she
should turn 'round and fall in love with you--why then no telling what
might happen."

Sarah was now able to walk around with the aid of a cane, and this
afternoon she sat out on the porch entertaining her friends.

"I do hope," said Dorothy, "that you will be able to go on the picnic
with us, Sarah. Perhaps that, too, will be all the better for being
postponed."

"Only my lunch," sighed Tavia, melodramatically. "I shall never be able
to put up another such!" and she smacked her lips in remembrance of the
good things the borrowed lunch box had contained.

"Perhaps, then, I will be able to invite you to take some of mine,"
said Sarah politely. "Mother just loves to do up dainty lunches."

"Accepted with pleasure," replied Tavia, imitating society manners.
"Make it enough for yourself, plenty for me, and a little to spare.
Then we will be sure to come out all right."

Mrs. Ford came out to ask the visitors to remain to tea, but they
politely declined. She was especially kind in talking to Tavia, and
invited her to come again with Dorothy.

"They say," remarked Dorothy to Tavia, as the girls hurried along the
lane, "'that love scarce is love that does not know the sweetness of
forgiving,' and it does seem that way, don't you think so?"

"Oh, that was what ailed us all, was it? Not our fault at all, but the
fault of some old mildewed poet, that wanted to make good his verses.
The 'sweetness of forgiving,' eh? Well, it is better than scrapping,
I'll admit, but I wish poets would make up something handier. We went
through quite something to find the sweetness."

"Hurry," whispered Dorothy, "I thought I heard something move in the
bushes!"

"So did I," admitted Tavia, quickening her pace.

"It is always so lonely in the lane at night, we should have gone
around."

"Let's run," suggested Tavia. "One row a day is enough for me."

The bushes stirred suspiciously now, and both girls were alarmed. They
were midway in the lane, and could not gain the road, except by running
on to the end of the lonely path. Each side was lined with a thick
underbrush, and--there was no mistaking it now--someone was stealing
along beside them!

Taking hold of hands the girls ran. As they did the figure of a man
darted out in the path after them. Not a word was spoken--all their
strength was put into speed--to get to the end of the lane before that
man should overtake them!

They knew the footing well, although the path was rough with tree
stumps and rocks thrown there from the fields at the side.

Suddenly there was an exclamation. Turning quickly Tavia saw the man's
form rolling in the deep grass.

"He has fallen over the big stump," she said, "and has rolled into the
thick briars. Hurry now, we will get out all right." And, with renewed
courage, the girls ran on, reaching the end of the lane in full view of
houses, before the "tramp" could possibly overtake them.

"That was the same fellow," declared Tavia. "What in the world does he
follow us for?"

"It's all the Burlock business," Dorothy answered. "But hurry, we must
give the alarm this time. Perhaps they will be able to catch him."

Out of breath, and very much frightened, the girls reached the center
of the village, going directly there instead of turning into a side
street to go home.

"Perhaps father is in his office," remarked Dorothy.

"There's Ralph," said Tavia, as that young man emerged from a doorway.

Quicker than it takes to tell it a searching party was formed. The
three men who had been talking politics were still in the major's
office, and when told of the girl's fright they promptly started out
for the lane picking up more help at every turn.

"We will get him if we have to burn down the woods," declared the
major, deeply incensed at his daughter's peril.

"And not a gun in the crowd," remarked Mr. MacAllister. "This is where
we need our constable."

They had reached the lane now, and it was quite dark. Numbers of men,
who had been taking a quiet evening smoke at their own doors joined in
the "rounding up" as Mr. Ford called it.

"No Squire Sanders to help him out this time," some one remarked.

Then the men scattered--completely surrounding the place where the
tramp had been last seen.

"The only way he could get away from us would be in a balloon," said
Mr. MacAllister.

"Or an airship," spoke up someone else.

With heavy clubs and every available weapon to beat down the brush they
started out through the lane on the man hunt.

Surely twenty good men should be able to find the one "tramp" now.

But would they?



CHAPTER XVI

THE GIRLS HAVE IT


It was an entirely new experience for Dalton men--searching for a
miscreant that spring evening in the lane. But evening wore into
nightfall and no trace of the "tramp" had been discovered.

From either end of the lane the men came together at last, and admitted
they had been again outwitted by the "slick rascal."

Mr. MacAllister, in dismissing the party, urged them to be at the town
meeting that night to vote for a constable, and never had the need of
such an official been so plainly demonstrated.

"We must go about to-night," he said, "and notify business persons to
be on the lookout for a fellow of this description. Of course, if we
had a regular constable we might save ourselves that trouble."

To the old politicians of Dalton, those who always voted promptly, but
put off paying taxes until the very last notice had been served upon
them, the appointment of John Travers to succeed Squire Sanders, came
as a surprise. Poor men are not always popular, and the other
candidate, Baldwin Blake, was the sort of fellow it was pleasant to
meet--around election times. But John Travers got the office without a
dissenting vote in the council--a matter quite as surprising to Mr.
Travers as to any man present. Mr. MacAllister whispered aside to Major
Dale, when the result of the ballot was made known:

"Travers does not know what a strong pull our young politicians have.
This is the girls' campaign."

But when a few hours later, the new squire told his own girl of the
good fortune, Tavia declared Dorothy had managed it all.

It was a fact, however regrettable, that Mrs. Travers was not at home
to hear the good news. She had gone to see a sick friend that
afternoon, and had sent word later that she would remain away all night.

But Mrs. Travers was probably not as blamable in her home-making
delinquencies as it might appear. She simply did not know how to make a
home. She belonged to that unfortunately large class of women, who have
received a so-called "education" from books, but who have never been
trained in either discipline or character, which might give the
forbearance necessary in meeting the actual trials of life, or in the
management of the great American dollar, which might make up, in a
measure, for lack of discipline, when that dollar, like the proverbial
charity, must cover a multitude of wants. Mrs. Travers had attended a
school where embroidery was the chief number in the curriculum, and
mathematics (after decimal fractions) made elective. Hence it was that
the burden of responsibility came so early to Tavia, who was scarcely
better able to undertake it than the mother.

The unfortunate result of this total lack of management might have
discouraged a man less optimistic than John Travers, but he always
"made allowances," just as he did to-night when the indifferent wife
was not there to share in the family's happy hour.

"Maybe I can help you with the books," suggested Tavia, when the
possible details of the new position were being discussed.

"Oh, I will have plenty of time to attend to them, daughter," her
father replied. "The books I want you to attend to are those at
school--I want you to make up for lost time. Dalton people will expect
more from us now that they are giving us a chance."

"Dorothy says I do better than I imagine," replied Tavia. "I did not
expect to pass--I had been home so much--but if only I could get a
'conditional,' and leave when Dorothy does!"

Ambition had come to Tavia--at last.

Her father wished her to get through school, and she determined, if
such a thing was possible she would do it.

"I could study very hard," she told herself, when thinking the matter
over very seriously, that night, in her own little cheerless room.
"Dorothy has all her work done, and I am sure she will help me."

And what a surprise it would be to every one if she really did get
"conditioned" in the studies she failed in, and should actually
graduate in the general work.

What a wonderful thing it was to have something definite to work for!
Dorothy and Alice had always felt that way, but until to-night Tavia
had never known the real joy of doing good work, with the actual reward
in sight. Home life had been dreary indeed, school had been little
better, the only bright spot in the misplaced life had been put in by
Dorothy Dale. And what a power for good had been the quiet, unobtrusive
influence!

"I owe every single thing to Dorothy," Tavia declared to her own heart
that eventful night, "and I hope some day I will be able to show her I
am not ungrateful."



CHAPTER XVII

A GIRL'S WEAPON


Tavia's plans took shape next morning--there was nothing visionary
about them. She did surprise her father with a neat breakfast table,
and Johnnie surprised himself with a clean linen suit.

"Nothing succeeds like success," said the father, pleased and happy
that, at last something had "happened" to brighten the make-shift home.

"And when mother comes," Tavia announced, "she will find that I have
discovered how to keep house, for I have already provided for dinner.
Now Johnnie, be careful that you do me credit--go right straight to
school when it's time, and don't, as you value your place in--in--my
heart, miss a single lesson!"

"Good!" said the father, actually taking a tiny rosebud from the clean
milk bottle, in the center of the table, and putting it in his
buttonhole.

"Would it be silly for a boy to wear a flower?" faltered Johnnie, "Joe
Dale often does."

"Indeed every boy in school will know to-day that pop is the 'head
constable' so why shouldn't you decorate?" and the sister put in the
fresh linen waist a bud that exactly matched the one chosen by the
squire.

Mr. Travers recalled that this was the first morning he could remember
when his two children sat at table with him. They were always busy or
sleeping--any place but where they should be at breakfast time.

"Now, I must see Dorothy before school," said Tavia, leaving the table.
"Johnnie, just eat all your toast while I clear up. Then you can bring
in fresh water, and some wood to have ready for noon, in case mother
should not get home in time to do everything."

Mr. Travers was also in a hurry to get down to the Green, he had made
an appointment to talk with Major Dale and he did not delay after
breakfast. A new world had been discovered by him--the land of
prosperity; ambition for his children, and perhaps even contentment for
the incompetent little woman who had suffered too, and who now might
find a way and heart to do what seemed not worth while before.

But Dorothy had "anticipated" Tavia's visit and was at the door before
the latter had entirely cleared away the table.

"Why!" exclaimed Dorothy, when her eyes rested on the flowers, "you are
celebrating!"

"Good reason why!" responded Tavia proudly, "my dad's a squire!"

"I am so glad," murmured Dorothy, giving Tavia a kiss. "Now you will be
somebody, won't you?"

"I am already--somebody else. You won't know me; better ask for an
introduction," and she walked haughtily to the sink with the last of
the dishes.

"Delighted, I'm sure!" simpered Dorothy, imitating the society voice.

"Pray be seated," went on the new Tavia, "I'll be disengaged directly."

Tavia's happiness was so entirely self-evident there was no need for
her to make formal expression of it to Dorothy, yet, as she had
promised herself to be "just like other girls" Tavia felt the
obligation to say something polite.

"I know, Dorothy," she began, "we owe everything to you. But it has
really made a new world for us, and now, you will see how we appreciate
it. I am going to get through school, if I can, and perhaps, when we
get better off, I may go on with you at school and grow up--like you."

"Tavia dear," said Dorothy earnestly, "I am sure you will always be my
friend, whether you have a fancy education or not. We have learned more
than can be taught from books--we have learned to help each other, and
to understand each other."

"Yes, I cannot imagine anything ever coming into our lives that would
keep us apart--even distance does not separate minds and hearts."

Tavia had finished her work now, and surprised Dorothy by neatly
washing out the dish towels.

Dorothy was ready to go now for it was getting close to the hour for
school.

"I must tell you something in confidence," said she, "father thinks he
has a clew to the little Burlock girl's whereabouts."

"Yes, and I thought the same thing when what do you suppose?--Aunt Mary
writes me that the woman--Mrs. Burlock--is dead!"

"Dead!" exclaimed Dorothy.

"Yes, and the society cannot now find her girl--she did have a
daughter."

"But surely, in a place like Rochester, they should be able to trace a
little girl," Dorothy insisted.

"They should be, but they were not. Aunt Mary wrote that the charitable
society had buried the woman, and when a young lady from the
organization went back to the rooms with the little girl she allowed
her to escape. That is, the young lady went out to buy something and
when she came back the girl was gone."

"Did she run away?"

"Haven't the least idea. But say, Doro, we will be late, sure pop, and
me putting on airs this morning. Quarter of nine. Now let's see if we
can beat last night's record. I'll set the pace," and so saying the
girls started off on a run, for it was most desirable that they reach
the school a few minutes, at least, before the bell rang.

Dorothy insisted Tavia should go straight to Miss Ellis and tell her
how she was so anxious to keep up with her class.

"You might change your mind," Dorothy remarked laughing, "and Tavia,
there is nothing like outside help for keeping troublesome resolutions."

"Guess you're right," said Tavia with a sigh. "I may as well clinch it."

"No slang now," interrupted Dorothy. "Graduates never use slang."

"Then I've changed my mind already," pouted Tavia, "I must have slang
or die--'Liberty of speech or death!'" she exclaimed with a dramatic
gesture.

"Come on," pleaded Dorothy, who was really anxious that Tavia should
speak to Miss Ellis before the classes assembled.

To her surprise Tavia learned from her teacher that she had not so very
much to make up, and could, no doubt, do it if she tried.

"You have been doing very well lately," said Miss Ellis, "and during
the days you were away we had scarcely any new lessons--nothing but
review. You were always fair in mathematics when you put your mind to
your work. Now let us see if you cannot surprise everyone by getting
all through--not conditioned in anything."

Such encouragement was all Tavia needed. She went to work with a will
that day, and every time Dorothy glanced over at her (for Dorothy was
as anxious for her success as if it were entirely her own affair) she
would see Tavia "poring" over her book as if her very life depended
upon her accomplishing just so much work and she was bound she would do
it.

How quickly the morning passed! It was so different to be busy in
school, Tavia thought, so much better than having the hours drag along.
At recess Alice hugged her in congratulation.

"I knew he would get it," she said, referring, of course, to the new
position of Mr. Travers, "and father says we girls elected him. I see
you are already doing credit to the confidence with which Dalton people
have intrusted your family."

"I am sure father will give satisfaction," Tavia answered, ignoring the
intended compliment for herself. "He had a splendid record in
Millville."

"And the picnic," said Alice. "Have you heard it is really coming off
this time? Next Monday."

"Then Sarah will be able to come," remarked Tavia, "I am just glad we
waited for her."

All the girls agreed it would be especially nice to have a genuine
reunion, as this would be the last holiday until vacation, and that, of
course, would mean a scattering of classmates.

"It will be a star picnic," declared Alice, as the girls returned to
the school room.

"If nothing else happens," said Dorothy with apprehension for which she
could not account.

"Why did you say that?" asked Tavia.

"I don't know. But somehow I feel as if something will happen," and
Dorothy had sufficient reason afterward to remember the premonition.



CHAPTER XVIII

DOROTHY IN DANGER


Picnic day came at last, and with it there drew up to the gate of
Dalton School two four-horse wagons, the regular "straw-ride" variety.

Mr. Ford had provided the conveyances, and when all the girls had been
seated on the big side benches with parasols, lunch boxes and "happy
smiling faces," the ride itself constituted a thoroughly enjoyable
outing.

Sarah was there, between Dorothy and Tavia, and upon her arrival at the
school (the wagon had stopped for her as it came up) she received a
hearty welcome--an ovation, Tavia called it.

Her face was pale, and her manner nervous, but she whispered aside to
Dorothy that she was so happy, and that she could never have been happy
with the girls after the trouble if Dorothy had not "straightened every
thing out for her."

Miss Ellis, too, seemed very much pleased at the prospect of a happy
day--"after all," she thought, "her girls were well worth working for."
It was a beautiful day in June and the ride to the woods was perfumed
with that rare and wonderful incense--vapory sweetness of flowers
warmed by the soft sunshine of early summer.

Blossoms brushed the faces of our friends as the picnic wagons rumbled
on and many a wreath of "laurel" was pressed to the brow of fair
graduates as the maple leaves in the hands of willing weavers, were
made into crowns for the "grads."

A secret was plainly lurking in the eyes of Alice MacAllister. Dorothy
had remarked that girls, alone, would probably be lost in the great,
dark picnic place, for the pine trees grew so close there, the grounds
were often called "Twilight Grove"; but Alice only smiled broadly and
replied:

"You just wait--the woods may be enchanted."

"Splendid idea," declared Tavia, "I do need so much a little Brownie or
a goblin to help me with my housework. Fancy going home with a dear
little Jackanapes to carry my 'dinner pail'!" and at this suggestion
every one seemed to enjoy the grotesque idea that Tavia had outlined.

The grove was finally reached, and the happy picnic party lost no time
in leaving the wagons, and making for the "best spots."

But no sooner had they entered the great tall gateway than they were
set upon by a tribe of very lively goblins, for, from behind tree and
bush there darted upon the unsuspecting girls a rollicking, frolicking
band of boys--the boys' school having come to the grove to surprise the
girls, and help them enjoy the breaking up picnic.

"I told you we might find the woods enchanted," said Alice who, of
course had learned of the secret, as it was Mr. MacAllister who
provided the wagons for the boys as well as for the girls.

Such running about and such shouting! Some lads had hidden in the pines
and now as the girls ran through the grove, the "goblins" dropped down
upon their unsuspecting heads.

Tavia and Alice helped make things livelier by gathering up parasols
and lunch boxes that had been left in the wagons for safety. These they
gave to the boys, who lost no time in forming a brigade, parasols in
the air and boxes under arms, to the distress and dismay of the unlucky
owners.

But there was still another surprise in store for the school children.
When everything was fairly settled down for a day in the woods, a two
seated carriage drove in, and in this were President of the Town
Council, Franklin MacAllister; the Treasurer of Dalton, Major Dale,
Squire Travers and Ralph Willoby.

Wild cheers went up from the woods as the party entered the grove;
first for the president, then for the major and a "hip-hip" and series
of hurrahs for the new squire.

Certainly it was jolly to have such a crowd in the shady woods. The
officials told Miss Ellis they came to get acquainted with the pupils
of the Dalton schools. Also, they said, it was quite necessary to look
after so important a gathering officially, as there was the lake, and
other dangers, to which over enthusiastic youths might be more or less
exposed.

Major Dale and Mr. MacAllister only remained long enough to see that
everything was satisfactorily started, and then left, charging Ralph
Willoby and Squire Travers to act as special officers. That this was a
wise precaution was plainly demonstrated before the day ended.

Toward noon the merry-makers scattered throughout the spacious grounds,
looking for particularly pleasant spots to eat lunch. This was by no
means a difficult matter, for there were rustic benches built around
wonderful trees, besides little caves lined with soft pine needles and
covered with brown mounds of them.

The diversity of natural beauties made this grove famous, for many
miles around, and never before, perhaps, was every nook and corner so
thoroughly explored.

Ralph and the squire roamed around, seeing to it that boys in boats
kept a safe distance from the falls coming from the gates and old water
wheel.

From this falls the roaring of the water could be heard for a
considerable distance, and so noisy were the rapids a person might
shout at another but a few feet away without being able to make his
voice heard.

But the falls had a strange charm for Dorothy, and after lunch she
wandered there all alone, just to see, to think and to be quiet. Other
attractions had now claimed the attention of her companions, and she
sat there, enjoying the falls alone.

She could scarcely hear a voice through the woods, so loudly did the
falls splash and splatter.

Who, in her place, could have heard a man stealing up to that very
spot? Who could know a scoundrel was there, at that moment ready to
seize Dorothy?

A rough hand clutched her slender arm!

That man--Anderson--was glaring into her eyes! Dorothy screamed shrilly.

"Hush!" commanded the man, "or I'll throw you over the falls!" and his
hand was upon Dorothy's throat, preventing further outcry.

"Tell me," he growled, "did Miles Burlock leave his money with your
father?"

Poor Dorothy felt as if the world had gone, and all the woes of death
were upon her!

Looking about him hastily the man loosed his hold on her throat for an
answer, but instead another shrill scream rent the air.

"You little fool!" he muttered, "do you want me to throw you over?"

But at that moment an answer came--Ralph Willoby bounded through the
grove and had Dorothy in his arms before she could realize he was
there! Then with a look of baffled rage the man disappeared.

"Ralph!" whispered Dorothy.

"You are all right now," the young man assured her, putting his arm
firmly around the trembling girl, "if you feel faint I can carry you.
Do not try to walk."

The noise of the falls was gone now--the sky was all black.

"Oh," gasped Dorothy, "I can't hear, or see, I am--"

It was welcome oblivion, however painful that clutch at her heart.

She could not remember--was it Ralph, or the squire?

She had been thinking how brave Ralph was--But now she could not think,
it was all dark night!



CHAPTER XIX

A SURPRISE TRIP


When Ralph Willoby carried his senseless burden to the platform, where,
so short a time before, the girl had been as merry as any of her
playmates, Squire Travers determined upon one thing--to form a
searching party of all the boys to scour the woods from tree to stump
and if possible run down the villain who had attacked Dorothy.

The fainting girl was soon revived by the careful ministrations of Miss
Ellis, assisted by pupils following her directions; and, before the
half-conscious girl realized what had happened to her, the boys were
running through the woods, led by the squire and Ralph, bent on finding
Anderson.

But such reflections were of little use now that the harm was done.
Dorothy was very weak indeed. She felt as if those sinuous fingers were
still about her throat, and she could see those terrible eyes peering
into hers in spite of all her efforts to forget her awful experience.

Some boys had already been sent off to the nearest place where it would
be possible to get a conveyance to take her home, and they now returned
with a covered carriage.

Into this Miss Ellis and Dorothy were assisted, while the remainder of
the girls were soon ready to leave the grounds in the large picnic
wagons.

The boys "to a man" remained in the woods, helping diligently in, what
now seemed to be, a useless search.

Over the narrow plank, just above the dam, the man no doubt had escaped
to the other side, where the old ruins of a mill, with a big water
wheel, made a safe hiding place for the fellow.

Squire Travers was much annoyed and worried over the occurrence. To
think such a thing could happen with him right there, in the woods,
seemed incredible.

But Ralph assured him a similar thing had happened in the public
streets of Dalton, and the same man had gotten away. Why should it be
strange then that he would be able to make his escape in a dense woods?

"But he must be caught," insisted the squire, "if we have to canvass
the entire town and surrounding places to get him."

Some boys suggested that they disguise themselves as girls
impersonating Dorothy and Tavia, and then wait to be "caught" while
help remained close at hand. But it was decided such a ruse would
hardly work that day, as the man would know well enough the girls would
not again leave themselves liable to attack.

It was a very discouraged band of boys, with Squire Travers and Ralph
Willoby as their leaders, that wended their way back to Dalton Center
that evening. The picnic, of course, had been spoiled, but that did not
amount to anything--it was the attack on Dorothy, and the escape of her
assailant that concerned the searching party.

The squire and Ralph upon reaching town went directly to the office of
President MacAllister, and the result of the meeting held there marked
an epoch in the history of the township of Dalton. The new squire had
outlined a plan that every suspicious character found in the place
should be apprehended at once, and no sooner had this edict gone forth
than the suspected ones very quietly took their departure. While it was
generally believed the trouble had to do with a personal affair, there
seemed danger of course to all, while such persons as this "tramp" were
at liberty.

But confidence was at once established by the ruling of the squire,
which put an end to the reign of terror, and Dalton became once more a
pleasant place to live in.

The details of government had little interest now for Dorothy Dale, as
she tossed feverishly about on her bed that night dreaming of the awful
man. Dr. Gray had recommended that some one remain with her, on account
of her nervous condition, and Tavia insisted on being allowed to sit up
with her friend.

A cot was arranged in Dorothy's room for Tavia, but she was too anxious
about the sick one to sleep. What if Dorothy should die? What a lonely
world this would be for Tavia without her.

Several times during the night Aunt Libby came in and tried to induce
Tavia to take another room, and allow her to stay with Dorothy, but the
volunteer nurse would not leave her post.

"Do go, Tavia," said Dorothy, who had just opened her eyes, and heard
Aunt Libby's argument, "I'm all right now; only nervous."

"But I've promised myself a whole night with you, and I'm not going to
be chased away, just at the witching hour," Tavia insisted.

But tired nature produced an argument incontrovertible, and when Tavia
stretched out on the comfortable cot, and tried to chat as lively to
Dorothy as if it had been mid-day on the side porch, she began to feel
drowsy, then she noticed Dorothy did not answer promptly, and so she
made her words "long and draggy" as mothers do when babies show signs
of "giving in." Presently there was a hush--both nurse and patient were
sound asleep.

When Dr. Gray called the next morning he advised a complete change for
Dorothy. She was physically well enough, he said, but the shock to her
nervous system might result in complete prostration, unless her mind
was speedily disabused of the unpleasant memory.

Major Dale knew this advice was wise, and he concluded to send Dorothy
to visit his sister, Mrs. Winthrop White, of North Birchland.

"Pleasant company," said the doctor to Major Dale as he left, "is all
the girl wants. I wouldn't wonder but that little friend of hers--the
lively one,--would help her, if it could be made convenient for her to
go along."

Convenient? That uncertainty had nothing to do with circumstances
important to his daughter's health, Major Dale decided. If Tavia's
company would be beneficial to Dorothy's health Tavia should go to
North Birchland with Dorothy.

The question of school did not signify, either, the major reasoned, for
if Tavia could not afford to lose the remaining weeks in the term he
would see that they were made up for, amply.

Arrangements were quickly made, letters dispatched back and forth, and
before the girls had time to think it over themselves, they were told
to be ready for the morning train.

"Oh, isn't it perfectly grand!" exclaimed the excited Tavia, "but do
you think, Doro, I will be able to behave myself, to eat properly and
all that?"

"Why, Tavia," answered Dorothy, "you will find real aristocratic people
are as simple as we are in manners; it is only those who try to be
'somebody,' and who do not know how, that make such a fuss over
everything. Aunt Winnie is a lovely lady--we call her Winnie from
Winthrop, because her own name is Ruth and we have another Aunt Ruth
out West."

"Lucky thing I had my 'new' dress, and all the other things Aunt Mary
sent by express last week. And father's new suit case his men presented
him with when he left the factory--wasn't that providential?" asked
Tavia.

Dorothy admitted it was fortunate, and so, as this was the very evening
before their departure, the girls arranged such matters as required
consultation and then hurried off to attend to so many little things
necessary for travelers.

Aunt Libby could not hide a tear when Dorothy put her arms about the
wrinkled neck, but when Major Dale helped his daughter to step upon the
train platform he was smiling; glad to have her go it seemed. Joe told
Johnnie afterwards that was the way soldiers always act when they face
trouble.

Mrs. Travers was really glad to have Tavia go, and she did not deny it.
It was such a chance for her, she told Aunt Libby, as they went home
from the depot, and Tavia, she declared, was a girl who always made the
most of her chances.

As the train flew along, or Dalton flew away, as it seemed from the car
windows, both girls indulged in a very creditable sentiment--a streak
of homesickness.

"It will be fun, of course," remarked Tavia, "but it's creepy to leave
them all."

Passengers about them soon attracted their attention sufficiently to
make the journey interesting. Tavia had such a way of seeing things to
make Dorothy laugh, that little of interest escaped her.

Old ladies with black silk bags were her especial prey, and these she
never failed to analyze--according to her own special method.

Women with babies also afforded no end of amusement to Tavia, and when
she found a regular nursery cooking outfit in the "end room" of the car
she could scarcely be restrained.

"I could make you the nicest clam bouillon," she told Dorothy, "and
besides cooking, that little alcohol lamp is just the thing for hair
crimping. I will crimp mine if I can find anything to make a hot poker
of in this train."

"You really must not touch anything," Dorothy insisted, alarmed lest
Tavia should do something reckless.

"Touch anything? Why my dear girl I have tested the entire outfit, and
I am going to get one just like it for my hasty breakfasts."

The woman to whom the "entire outfit" belonged was now almost asleep
beside her baby, on the end sofa, and Tavia assuring Dorothy she would
stay there indefinitely, sallied forth to further investigate the
mysteries of a nursery cooking outfit, en route.



CHAPTER XX

EVENTFUL JOURNEY


As Tavia reached the end sofa, upon which a pretty golden-haired baby
lay curled beside a sleepy mother, she made a motion to attract the
child's attention. The little one saw it at once, promptly slipped down
and stole away from the sofa without in the least disturbing the woman.

The tot followed Tavia to the little end room--Dorothy saw her going,
and though feeling very drowsy herself (which really was the reason
Tavia left her alone) Dorothy kept her eyes opened long enough to see
that the mother was sound asleep, and had not missed her baby.

"I am sure Tavia will take good care of her," thought Dorothy, as she
settled down for a rest, "she is so fond of children, and it will be a
change for the child--traveling must be very tiresome to such little
ones."

The train rumbled on. Dorothy thought of home, of the good father and
two dear brothers she had left there. Then she wondered what would
happen at North Birchland. It was such a lovely summer place, and her
relatives there were sure to do all they could to make the stay
pleasant.

In the White family there were besides Mrs. Winthrop White, her two
sons, Edward and Nathaniel, aged sixteen and fourteen years. Professor
White, their father, had died suddenly some years before, while on an
expedition out in quest of scientific data, but the White family
possessed almost unlimited means, so that Major Dale's sister, while
lonely enough in life without her husband, had the pleasant duty of
bringing up two talented and good looking boys in a way that befitted
the positions they would occupy as their father's sons--the White
family being among the most aristocratic in New York state.

Dorothy had not seen her cousins in three years, the boys' time,
between vacations, being spent at school, and the intervals of late
being occupied with trips abroad. As she traveled on now, and became
more and more sleepy Dorothy wondered if Nat were as full of mischief
as he used to be when he visited Dalton, and if Ned still spent his
spare time chasing butterflies to add new specimen to his collection.

But even these interesting reflections are not to be compared with such
sedative influence as the rumbling of a train with a summer breeze
coming In the window, and the girl, weary enough from her fright at the
falls and its consequent shock to her nervous system soon forgot to
think--she was asleep.

Meanwhile Tavia was occupied with the pretty baby in the end
compartment. The child was about three years old, and remarkably
communicative for her age. The little alcohol lamp, she told Tavia, was
used to heat her milk, also to curl her hair, for mamma never took her
to the hotel without curls, she said.

To bear out this statement, Lily, that was the little stranger's name,
produced from a satchel under the wash basin a tiny pair of curling
irons.

It seemed like fate to Tavia,--there was the very thing she had been
wishing for--curling tongs.

"Let's try it," she suggested, as Lily prattled on about the wonderful
"real" curls that the iron could make.

A careful investigation revealed to Tavia the secrets of the alcohol
lamp. Everything was there--even to matches.

Being sure the lamp was placed firmly upon the marble slab, Tavia
struck a match and lighted the wick.

"There," she said with evident satisfaction, "that part was easy
enough."

"You put the iron right in there," directed Lily, and Tavia promptly
followed the advice.

"Sit on my lap while it heats," Tavia told the child, not thinking it
safe to allow her to move about in the small place with a strange kind
of stove burning.

The child jumped up eager to hear a story. The wood-kind, full of bears
with remarkable appetites, pleased her most, Tavia discovered, and it
was in such a mental delight that the child passed a very happy little
"minute."

"It must be hot--" said Tavia.

She turned and at that very moment a strange flash shot up to the
ceiling!

An explosion! Then such a blinding flame!

With the child still in her arms Tavia made a dash for the door.
Frantically she pulled at it but it would not open! The child screamed
piteously.

"Help! Help!" shouted Tavia, clutching at the knob with one hand, while
she clung to the child with the other.

Instantly Dorothy was on her feet and down at that little door.

"Open it!" she screamed, for the smell of smoke had reached her on the
outside.

Without waiting for an answer, or for those at hand to act, Dorothy
jumped to a seat and grasped the bell rope.

At that moment the door gave in to Tavia's pulling, and she fell
headlong out into the aisle with the baby in her arms.

The train stopped, and brakemen were now running through the cars in
search of the trouble. Passengers had broken the tool boxes and were
fighting the spreading flames with hand grenades and portable
extinguishers. Fainting women called for attention--among these being
Lily's mother.

Tavia was now lifted to a seat, and Dorothy had called into her ears
that the baby was safe--she was not even scratched!

But Tavia was not so fortunate, for an ugly red mark showed where the
tongue of fire scorched her, and her hair--

One side was entirely burned off!

Dorothy's heart sank as she noticed the loss, but it was nothing, of
course, compared to what might have happened to the baby.

The excitement in the rear of the car had, by this time subsided
somewhat, showing that the flames were extinguished. Lily, safe and
uninjured, sat in her mother's lap--no danger of her getting away again
evidently.

Among the passengers was a doctor who offered his services to Tavia.
The burns were slight, he declared but there was danger of shock, and
the loss of her beautiful hair was to be regretted.

Tavia tried to laugh to assure Dorothy she was all right, and then she
insisted upon talking about the accident.

"The lamp did not explode," she declared. "The fire came from the other
end of the room."

The trainmen listened anxiously to this report. They were obliged to
make a most careful investigation, and Tavia was very willing to help
them. Professional looking men crowded around--one who introduced
himself to the doctor as a well known lawyer of Rochester called
Dorothy aside and offered to look out for the interests of the injured
girl.

"Whatever you think best," Dorothy said, "I have never had any
experience with law. But if you think we should take account of it at
all I should be most grateful for your help."

Then Tavia was taken into a private compartment, and there, with
Dorothy encouraging her, and the lawyer and doctor listening, she told
the story of the accident.

"I had lighted the alcohol lamp," she declared, "but I am positive that
did not explode. The flash came from behind us--the other end of the
room. Then the door would not open--oh how dreadful that was!"

For a moment Tavia covered her eyes, then she resumed:

"I heard Dorothy's voice and that seemed to keep me from falling in the
smoke. At last the door opened and that's all I know."

"Now, you just rest here," the doctor advised, "while Mr. French and I
do some outside investigating."

Then it was that the important clew was discovered, for at the very
door of the little room, where the fire had raged, was found a piece of
glass with a label!

Gasoline!

"She was right," declared the lawyer, taking possession of the
tell-tale piece of bottle, the railroad men would have been so glad to
have seen first, "this tells the story. A bottle of gasoline exploded."

Looking carefully over the damaged room the lawyer made some entries in
his note book and, with the doctor, approached Lily's mother. The woman
positively refused to make known her name, and even the railroad men
had not succeeded in learning who she was.

"That my baby is safe," she declared, "is all I ask. People saw the
girl coax her off, but even this I am entirely willing to overlook, and
I will positively make no claims against the company."

The doctor saw the child was not in the least injured, and also was
convinced there was no danger of shock to the little nervous system, as
the tot looked upon the whole occurrence as "good fun," so the
professional men withdrew their offer to serve either the woman or her
child.



CHAPTER XXI

AT AUNT WINNIE'S


Dorothy had fastened Tavia's hair up under her hat, so that the one
long and uninjured side covered the burnt ends and hid the damage. She
looked like a pretty boy, Dorothy told her, and the red line about her
neck was not noticeable at all, for around the scar Dorothy had pinned
her own white silk handkerchief. Except for a few tell-tale spots of
"scorch" marking the back of her new dress, from her appearance Tavia
might never have been suspected of being the heroine of a railroad
accident.

"Oh, there is Aunt Winnie!" exclaimed Dorothy as the train stopped, and
she looked out of the window near the door.

A depot wagon was drawn up to the platform, and in it sat a stylishly
dressed woman.

If Tavia had felt "alarmed at the style" as she afterward told Dorothy,
the moment Mrs. White grasped her hand in welcoming her to Birchland
all nervousness left her, for Mrs. White had an unmistakable way of
greeting her guests--she really was glad to see them. Dorothy climbed
up beside her aunt, while Tavia took the spare seat at front, and it
seemed to her the world had suddenly fallen from its level, everything
was beneath her. She had risen physically, mentally and socially from
her former self--the first ride on a box seat was an inspiration to the
country girl, and Tavia felt its influence keenly.

Dorothy chatted pleasantly to her aunt, occasionally referring to
something to Tavia to give her a chance to join in the conversation and
Tavia noticed that Dorothy had already cheered up wonderfully.

"I suppose this is the sort of company Doro belongs in," Tavia thought.
"There is something so different about society people."

Mrs. White certainly was different. She knew exactly how to interest
the girls, and she also knew how to make them feel at home. She had
asked all sorts of polite questions about Dalton folks, and showed the
keenest interest in the new appointment of Squire Travers. Tavia
insisted that Dorothy had elected him, and this item of news Mrs. White
begged Tavia would repeat to the "boys" as she declared they would be
"just delighted to hear how their girl cousin managed Dalton politics."

The boys were at camp, Mrs. White told the girls, and an early visit to
their quarters was among the treats promised.

From the station to the "Cedars" was but a short ride, and when the
carriage turned into the cedar shaded driveway Tavia felt another
"spasm" of alarm--it was such an imposing looking place.

"This is where you may play games," said Mrs. White, pointing out the
broad campus behind the trees. "The boys have no end of sport hiding in
the cedars, and I am sure you girls will find them jolly. There are
some very pleasant neighbors at the next cottage--one young girl among
them."

"This is splendid," Tavia said. "We can invent new games here. I think
'tree-toad' would be a novelty."

Presently the luggage was taken in by the man, while the girls followed
Mrs. White up the broad staircase to their rooms.

"Now, my dears," said their hostess, as she opened the doors to two
connecting rooms, "here is where you will 'pitch your tents' as the
boys would say. I hope you will be comfortable, but should you need
anything Dorothy knows the plan of this house--just ask for anything
you want. I'll leave you now. We will lunch as soon as you feel
refreshed."

"But, auntie," called Dorothy, as Mrs. White passed into the hall,
"won't you come here a moment? I have a very interesting thing to tell
you," and as Mrs. White stepped back to the door again, Dorothy
snatched the hat from Tavia's head.

Instantly the "installment" hair fell to the waist on one side, and
clung to Tavia's neck at the other.

"Why!" exclaimed the aunt. "What on earth has happened to the child's
locks?"

"Hair tonic model," laughed Dorothy, "sit down, auntie, and I will tell
you."

Mrs. White took the uninjured mass of golden brown tresses into her
hands.

"Some one stole them, of course," she ventured.

"One more guess!" smiled Dorothy.

At this the scar on Tavia's neck was discovered.

"Not in a fire?" exclaimed the aunt.

"Exactly," declared Dorothy, and then she told of the railroad accident.

"Why, you poor dear!" sighed Mrs. White to Tavia, "you must be quite
ill from the shock. Get into bed immediately, and I will see how we can
doctor you up," and before Tavia had a chance to protest against the
"treatment" she found herself in bed, shoes and dress off, and wrapped
in a comfortable robe Dorothy had brought in her bag.

"Now," teased Dorothy, "you wanted to know how it feels to be sick. How
do you like it?"

"Best ever," replied the girl in the pillows. "Make it incurable
please."

"Here," announced their hostess, appearing at the door with a steaming
bowl that smelled good. "Just drink this bouillon. I believe that more
lives might be saved by the hot bouillon process than by the reported
efficacy of hot whisky. One stays hot, the other turns into chills.
Just drink this dear, and I will banish Dorothy. I know how she can
talk when one should sleep--she roomed with me one summer," and at this
Dorothy was whisked out of the room by her aunt, and Tavia left to
commune with the pleasant aroma of hot bouillon with chopped parsley
flavoring.

"Riches are not to be despised," she commented, when the paneled door
closed her away from friends for the moment. "I wonder Major Dale does
not let Dorothy stay with her aunt; she would know exactly how to train
her in society ways, and Dorothy is plainly cut out to be a leader
where ever she goes. I suppose," reflected the girl, "some day Mrs.
White will introduce her into her social world and then--"

A step in the hall aroused her from her rather tangled reverie, and
presently Dorothy stood before her with an immense bunch of "Jack"
roses.

"Oh!" exclaimed Tavia, in unfeigned admiration, "have you been to
heaven stealing flowers?"

"No, an angel tossed them down," replied Dorothy, "and her card said
they were for you." Whereat she held out to Tavia the "angelic" bouquet.

"Oh Dorothy Darling Dale! I never saw such flowers! I have always
thought the wild kinds prettier than those that grew so proud-like but
there is just as much difference between a Jack-in-the-pulpit and a
real Jack rose as there is between you and me!"

"Well Jack, I like you just as well as if you grew in a hot
house--better, because you have taught me the value of life's
storms--you have grown outside and know the music of the winds," and
with the flowers she gave her friend all the hug she dared risk in the
presence of the "railroad line" on Tavia's neck.

"But you have the sweetness of the greenhouse," insisted Tavia, "and
that blows off with the music of the winds."

"Well, we will not quarrel over our virtues," said Dorothy, "the thing
to discuss at present is what are you going to do with the railroad
money?"

"What money?" inquired Tavia, showing surprise.

"Your damages, of course. How much do you calculate your other braid
was worth?"

"Not worth talking about."

"But if you were offered a fair price for it you would not refuse?"
persisted Dorothy.

"No, I'd take most anything from a cream soda to a twenty-five cent
piece."

"Well, my dear, now compose yourself. Get a good hold on the chair near
you, or better still sit down, since you insist on getting out of bed.
I have a very lively piece of news for you--the sensational kind."

"Let her go," called Tavia grasping the chair with both hands.

"It is this. Aunt Winnie says you will undoubtedly received damages for
the accident. She says Mr. French is a noted lawyer and he will
possibly arrange it so that all you will have to do is to put your name
to the signing-off paper. The fact that you lighted the lamp, auntie
says, will not do away with the fact that a careless employee left that
explosive there."

"Do you know, Dorothy," said Tavia in her most serious tone, "the only
thing that has consoled me for asking that baby in there is, that she
told me she was going in for a drink of water, and had she done so she
would, or at least might, have tasted the poison stuff. She was the
most meddlesome child and might have killed herself."

"Certainly her mother would have allowed her to roam about as she
pleased," said Dorothy, "for people told me after the accident that
little Lily had been in almost every seat in the car, while her mother
curled herself up on that sofa. It is a strange thing to me that most
women travelers are more careful of their dogs than of their babies.
Did you notice that blonde with the soft leather bag? Well, she had a
poodle in that bag, it is against the rules, you know, to keep animals
in the passenger cars, but that lady had her bag open on the seat, and
every time a brakeman came through she would pull the string and close
the bag. Then once in a while she would let the dog run around a bit.
But indeed she did not let it get away like Lily's mother let her go."

"And do you really think the railroad people will pay me damages?"

"I am almost sure of it. Aunt Winnie is a very clever business woman,
and if they come while we are here it will be all the better for you.
Just think! Suppose they should offer five hundred dollars!"

"I am too poor to be able to think of five hundred dollars all at once.
I will have to try it on the installment plan. But wouldn't it be jolly
if I did get a good sum," and Tavia's eyes took on a far-away
look--perhaps all the way to Dalton and happiness.



CHAPTER XXII

THE PRICE OF TAVIA'S TRESSES


A week had passed at North Birchland, with Dorothy and Tavia enjoying
every succeeding hour better than the last, when the expected lawyers
arrived to interview the victim of the railroad fire.

Fortunately Mrs. White was at home, and more fortunately still was the
arrival of Mr. French with the strange lawyer.

Tavia was flushed and nervous when Dorothy helped her to dress for the
interview.

"Now don't you mind it a bit," said Dorothy. "Just keep thinking that
you might have been very seriously injured, and that the railroad
people should be more careful for the sake of others. Then you will
forget all about the lawyers and their statements."

Mrs. White was talking to the men in the reception room. Certainly the
shock had been severe, she said, and only the fact that Miss Travers
was unusually lively in temperament had saved her from more serious
results.

Dorothy entered the room with Tavia.

"These are the young ladies," said Mr. French, introducing them. "This
one was shut in the room with the fire."

Tavia felt her face flush, and her nerves throb painfully. It was so
embarassing to be the object of such scrutiny.

Then began a fire of questions, Mr. French in every instance indicating
how Tavia should answer. The railroad lawyer, Mr. Banks, trying of
course, to trip Tavia into admitting that the lamp exploded first, and
the bottle blew up after. But Tavia was positive in declaring that the
blaze came from the far corner of the room, whereas the stove was
directly at her side. This was also indicated by a map which Mr. French
produced, and upon which Tavia marked the various spots where the bench
stood, where the marble slab with the stove was situated, and where the
bottle appeared to come from--a far corner of the slab.

"Will you let down your hair, please," said Mr. French, and Dorothy
promptly drew the pins from Tavia's tresses, allowing the unscorched
braid to fall below her waist, while the burnt ends were charred almost
to her neck, the red scar showing how close to her head the flames had
really crept.

"That is a loss, of course," said Mr. French, taking the long waves in
his hand, "but it shows the great danger her life was in. Also, Mr.
Banks, notice this scar. That was dressed on the train by Dr. Brown, of
Fairview."

Both lawyers examined the scar. Tavia felt as if she would run from the
room, the very moment they took their hands off her, but Dorothy smiled
encouragingly, and Mrs. White rang for a maid to fetch a glass of
water. This had the effect of distracting Tavia, who now stood there
being cross-examined like an expert witness.

Finally Mr. French said:

"That will do, thank you."

Tavia had barely tasted the water, and as she crossed the room to reach
her chair, she felt dizzy. The next moment she was in Mrs. White's
arms, unconscious.

"I saw she was pale," exclaimed the lady, while the gentlemen opened
the windows and Dorothy ran for some restoratives. "But I did not think
she would go off like that."

It did not take long, however, to revive the fainting girl, and when
she had been helped to her room the lawyers held a conference with Mrs.
White and then left the Cedars.

"Wasn't that dreadfully stupid!" sighed Tavia, as she lay stretched out
on the soft, white bed.

"Not at all, my dear," replied Mrs. White, who at that moment appeared
at the door. "You could not have done better had you been coached, for
it shows how the shock has unnerved you. And you may as well know that
the company has offered to settle for five hundred dollars."

"Five hundred dollars!" echoed Tavia.

"Yes, my dear. For my part I should count a braid of hair such as you
lost worth twice that sum, but even at that price I could not obtain
it. No one ever values a fine head of hair until it is gone--like the
dry well, you know. But you are young enough to grow another braid, and
that is the beauty of it. Mr. French said your father gave him full
power to act, and so he will accept the company's offer. And the fine
thing about it is he does not want a commission--only his expenses,
which are nominal."

"Isn't that perfectly splendid!" exclaimed Dorothy, throwing her arms
about Tavia.

"Some people are born lucky, and others have luck thrust upon them,"
said Tavia pleasantly. "In this case it was as usual. I did the
mischief and Dorothy did the rest. That lawyer would never have noticed
me if Dorothy hadn't shown her pluck--why, she had my flaming hair
wrapped up in a brakeman's coat before he had decided whether to throw
it out of the window or over the ice cooler. He seemed to be worried
about the ice, for it was directly in the path of the fire."

"Nonsense," said Dorothy, blushing. "He very politely pulled off his
coat when I asked him to, and of course, he did not know just what to
do with it."

"Lucky thing it was a railroad coat," went on Tavia, "or we might have
had to pay damages."

"Lucky thing Dorothy had such presence of mind, at any rate," remarked
Mrs. White, "for another touch of that flame and your face, Tavia,
might have had a different bill against the railroad company. However,
as it ends like a love story, we will live happily ever after," and she
gave Tavia such an affectionate kiss, that the girl felt a strange
nearness to her new-found friend as if she had been suddenly adopted,
socially at least, into Dorothy's family.

"And now, my dears," went on their hostess, "I expect the boys out from
camp this afternoon, so you must rest up, and look your prettiest."

Tavia sat up and looked about her.

"Did you ever hear that story about why a widower was like a baby?" she
asked Dorothy. "Well, I feel just like him. They say he cried for the
first six months, then sat up and looked around and it was hard to pull
him through the second summer. Now I am looking around, but when I get
my five hundred I am afraid I will hardly last through the second
summer."

"I know you will like the boys," remarked Dorothy.

"But who will cut my poor old hair?" sang Tavia to the meerschaum pipe
tune.

"We will have to put it up in the folded fire escape fashion," said
Dorothy, "until we can drive out to a barber's. It is too late this
afternoon."

"Whatever will momsey say?" thought Tavia aloud.

"That you would have made a very good-looking boy," replied Dorothy. "I
am sure I never saw a girl to whom short hair was so becoming."

"It must look well with a five hundred-dollar note for a background. I
tell you, Doro, money covers a multitude of crimes. I wonder if little
Lily of the fire room has cooled off yet."

"But you haven't seen the new clothes auntie had brought us--yes us,
for she has not forgotten you. You are well able to pay bills now, you
know," and Dorothy gave a mischievous little tug at Tavia's elbow. "But
wait, wait till you see what you are to wear this very evening. The box
has just come up, and I will open it."

Whereupon Dorothy pulled in from the hall door a great purple box
labeled "robes." Tavia was on her knees beside it before Dorothy had a
chance to untie the strings. What girl does not like to see brand, new,
pretty dresses come out of their original box?

Layers of tissue paper were first unwrapped, then a glow of brilliant
red shown through the last covering.

"Whew!" exclaimed Tavia, "a rainbow gown, I'll bet. Then she gave her
usual text, as Dorothy called her spontaneous rhymes:

     "Breathes there a girl with soul so dead,
      Who never to herself has said,
      I love to wear a dress bright red!"

"And I love red better than butter, and I love butter better than ice
cream--so there! Dorothy Dale, that dress on top I claim."

The "bright red" was in full view now, and it was really a beautiful
gown. Not extravagantly so, but as Dorothy said "exquisitely so."

The material was of dimity, over muslin, and tiny rows of "val." lace
formed a yoke and edgings. A broad sash of flowered ribbon--all in
shades of red, with bows of the same in narrow width finished the
shoulders.

"Yes, it is for you," said Dorothy, "Auntie said red would suit you."

"I have always loved it, but folks said my hair was red."

"Indeed it never was. And don't you know how great dressmakers insist
upon sandy haired girls wearing red? The real red in material contrasts
with hair red, so as to make the brown red browner. There now, is a new
puzzle. When is brown red?"

"When a sassy boy calls it red," promptly answered Tavia, remembering
how she always feared the "red-head" epithet.

"Isn't it sweet?" exclaimed Dorothy, holding the new gown up for
inspection.

"Oh, a perfect love!" declared Tavia. "I thought my Rochester
creation--doesn't that sound well--simply 'gloriotious,' but this is
beatific!"

"Like a sunset," suggested Dorothy. "But I must get acquainted with
mine."

Another layer of paper and a pale blue robe was extracted.

"Oh, I know," cried Tavia, clapping her hands like a delighted child,
"It's morning and evening. I'm sunrise and you are evening. Or I'm
sunset and you are evening."

"Oh!" exclaimed Dorothy, too enraptured to say more.

"And with your yellow head you will look like an angel."

"Now, see here, Miss Sunset and Sunrise, I don't mind being cloudy or
even starry, nor yet heavenly, but don't you dare go one latitude or
longitude further. I am mortally afraid Aunt Winnie has elected to wear
amethyst this very evening, and when the combination gets together I
expect something will happen--something like Mt. Pelee, you know."

"We might call it our elementary evening," went on Tavia, "and then
look out for storms. You said the boys were coming?"

"Coming!" and Dorothy sprang to the door. "They are here now. Listen to
that shout? That's Ned. Oh, I must run down. Come along," and before
Tavia had a chance to "collect her manners" she was bowing after
Dorothy's profuse introduction.

"I've heard of Miss Travers," said Edward pleasantly, while Nat was
"weighing" Dorothy with one hand, and attempting to shake the other in
Tavia's direction.

"You must call her Tavia," insisted Dorothy, getting away from Ned, "or
if you prefer you may call her Octavia--she has a birthday within the
octave of Christmas."

"Should have been called Yule, for yule-tide," said Nat. "Not too late
yet, is it Tavia?"

Mrs. White was smiling at the good times "her children" had already
made for themselves. She now insisted upon calling Dorothy daughter and
she was so kind to Tavia that she made no distinction but said
"daughters" in addressing both.

"Just see, boys," said their mother, unpinning Tavia's now famous half
head of hair, "that is all there is left."

"Never!" exclaimed Nat, handling the braid gingerly. "How much did you
settle for?"

"That would be telling," said Mrs. White, "but what I want you boys to
do is to drive the girls down to your barber's. You said it was a very
nice place."

"Tip-top," interrupted Ned. "Bay rum or old rum or anything else from
oyster cocktail to Castile soap."

"But have you seen ladies go there?" asked the mother.

"Took 'em there myself," insisted the younger boy. "Don't you remember
the day Daisy Bliss got burrs in her hair? Of course I did not put them
there--"

"Oh, no!" drawled Ned.

"Well, she always was a dub at ducking," went on the other, "but I put
up for the hair cut all the same."

"Now do listen, boys," and the mother spoke firmly. "Tavia must have
her hair trimmed. I tried to get a hair-dresser to come out here, but
we could not have it done until after the railroad man appraised it. So
now the hair-dresser could not get here until after Sunday. That is why
I am having recourse to a barber."

"Couldn't do better, mother," spoke up Ned, who had been trying to get
a word in with Dorothy "on the other side."

"Then run along, girls, get your things. Don't dress up; it is country
all the way, and the dinner folks are not out yet. It will be
pleasanter to fix up after the operation," said Mrs. White.

"But I say, momsey," called Nat after her as she went upstairs, "you
wouldn't suggest a 'Riley,' would you?"

"Nathaniel White, if you dare get that girl's hair cut in any but the
most lady-like fashion I'll--disinherit you!"

"Shadows of the poorhouse! Don't! I'll make the fellow trim it with a
butter knife. Come along, children. I'll show you the newest in
chaperonage at Mike's!"

Both girls appeared on the veranda to which the depot cart had been
drawn up. Dorothy looked like a pond lily, Tavia had told her, in her
light green dress with her yellow hair falling over it. Tavia too was
attractive, she had on a brown dress with gold in it that reflected the
glint of her hair, and, as Ned handed Nat the reins he whispered: "A
stunner and a hummer."

"It's real jolly to have a girl around," Nat remarked to Tavia, who had
the front seat beside him, "and mother is so fond of girls--I have
always worn my hair long to please her."

"Quite a protection in summer, isn't it?" asked Tavia, noticing how the
sunburn stopped where the hair began, and that otherwise the young man
was much tanned.

"Yes, some. But a fellow can't expect to be a peachblow at Camp Hard
Tack."

"It must be a great sport to camp," ventured Tavia.

"The greatest ever! I would like to go out on a ranch but mother says
'no, little boy, you must stay home,' so home I stay."

Dorothy and Ned were evidently enjoying themselves as well as those at
front, for, it seemed to Tavia that Dorothy's laugh had not rung out so
jolly in many weeks--so much had happened lately to dampen mirthful
spirits.

"Just fancy," said Tavia turning back to Ned, "I was sent along to keep
Dorothy lively, she was actually threatened with nervous prostration,
and think, how lively I did keep her? Came nearing firing a train."

"Oh, anything for a change," politely answered Ned. "One cannot tell
just what sort of tonic is best, I am sure she looks first rate."

"Bully," added Nat, "but don't worry that you've laid aside nursing,
Yule, I have not been well myself. Ahem! Just finish off on me!"

"There comes our barber shop," called Ned, as a striped pole appeared
in view. "Now for the artistic clip-the-clip. Mike is a genius,
blushing unseen here. But I mean to set him up some day. Tried to get
him out to camp but he shied when we told him there were no 'cops.'
Mike loves 'cops,' when the fellows get busy with his tonsorial
apparatus."

"Don't faint this time," Dorothy cautioned  Tavia with a merry smile,
thinking that those two boys would likely dip her in the brook at the
side of the shop should she attempt anything like that.

"Indeed I know where and when to faint," responded Tavia. "Mr. French
has a way about him--"

"But you never tried me," said Nat, making a funny move as if to catch
an armful of thin air. "I am an authority on faints. Every girl at
school says I'm a perfect dear, for catching falls at commencement
time. They all keel over then."

They were in front of the barber shop now. Mike opened the door with
such a bow Tavia could scarcely repress a smile.

Ned made the arrangements, and Tavia mounted the high chair, allowed
Mike, the Italian, to tuck the apron around her neck, then all she
could see was a very queer looking girl in the glass in front of her.

"Just trim it evenly," said Dorothy, walking up to the chair, and
feeling it was hardly safe to trust the boys with the order.

Carefully the barber let down the heavy coil.

"What!" he exclaimed, seeing it was only "half a head." "Fire, you been
in explosion?"

"Sure!" answered Ned, mechanically.

Then Mike went through a series of groans, grunts and jabs at the air.

"So shame," he wailed. "The hair is so fine--like gold, brown gold."

With many a sigh and groan the barber plied his shears, stopping
constantly to give vent to his feelings with a shrug of his broad
shoulders and deep gutteral mutterings.

"Oh, quit gargling your throat, Mike, and get through with the job. The
young lady is alive, you see, and expects to get back to the Cedars in
time for breakfast," said Ned.

"I am sure that will do," said Dorothy at last, whereat Tavia gladly
got out of the stuffy chair.

"Great!" both boys exclaimed in admiration as they saw how "smart"
Tavia looked.

"It is becoming," said Dorothy.

"Handy," commented Tavia.

Presently the party was driving off again, Tavia indulging in the
laughs she dared not take part in with the scissors at her ear, while
Dorothy "scolded" the boys for making such sport of a poor foreigner.

"Poor indeed!" Ned echoed. "I wish we had some of his cash on hand. I
mean the ready stuff. I have yet to make the acquaintance of a poor
barber; especially the imported kind."

It was a jolly ride home--and the evening that followed was one full of
pleasure.

[Illustration with caption: 'I AM SURE THAT WILL DO,' SAID DOROTHY AT
LAST]



CHAPTER XXIII

IN SOCIAL ELEMENTS


Dorothy wore her "heavenly" blue dress, while Tavia "blazed out" in her
sunset costume. As Dorothy had predicted Mrs. White was radiant in her
beautiful amethyst chiffon, so that the elementary evening "panned out"
exactly as scheduled.

Mrs. White was a handsome woman. As Ruth Dale, youngest sister of Major
Dale, she had been a belle, and now as Mrs. Winthrop White she was
acknowledged a social leader and a favorite.

Her hair had the same brightness that made Dorothy's so attractive,
except that years had tarnished that of Mrs. White, while her niece had
seen only sunshine in life to polish the golden warp that beauty loves
to spin. There were many features in both that marked relationship, and
it was always declared that Dorothy was a Dale both in character and
features.

The broad veranda at the Cedars was lighted with a flood of summer
moonbeams, and there was seated on the lounging chairs a gay party of
young persons and a few "grown ups."

Tavia and Dorothy, Ned and Nat, besides Rosabel Glen, the young girl
who lived in the pretty cottage next the Cedars, were there, and with
Mrs. White were Mrs. Theodore Glen and a visitor from Toledo, a Miss
Battin.

In meeting Rosabel Glen the girls from Dalton were both conscious of
making the acquaintance of a society girl, one who though still in her
teens, knew exactly what to say to be polite, and precisely what to do
to show off to the very best possible advantage. She had called at the
Cedars in the afternoon and remained just fifteen minutes, which time
Mrs. White informed the girls after her departure was the social limit
for a first call.

"But we were talking of something that could not possibly be finished
in that time," Dorothy had complained.

"All the better chance for Rosabel to show off her manners," said Mrs.
White with a laugh, for she had never agreed that young girls should
enter society on stilts.

But the evening was different, informal and almost jolly. (The "almost"
belonged to Miss Rosabel while the "jolly" was looked after by Ned and
Nat, Dorothy and Tavia feeling like an appreciative audience.) All
sorts of topics were introduced by the unhappy boys, who never had a
good time when the Glens were present, but all resulted in the same
failure to make a general conversation of firmer consistency than
monosyllables.

"But you must come out to camp," said Nat in desperation. "We have the
jolliest quarters, on a high knoll, just off the lake front and not too
far from the hotel--a hotel is not bad to have around when a good blow
takes the roof off your head at midnight."

"Oh, my!" exclaimed Rosabel, "you do not mean to say that your tents
blow away in the night?"

"Not a bit particular as to time--night or day," went on the young man,
"so long as they get away. Last time Ned clung to the ropes and the
campers missed something for it was awfully dark."

"And you really were carried up by the force of the wind?" gasped the
polite girl.

"And let down by it," admitted Ned, "I have a souvenir yet," rubbing
his left arm.

"And girls camp!" gasped the one from the other cottage.

"Heaps of them. They're the best neighbors we've got. There's Camp Deb
(all debutants you know), and I tell you their social guardians know
how to fix them up for the season. They make a fellow think of the way
fowls are treated before holiday time?"

"Oh," almost shrieked Rosabel, "Please don't!"

"But you ought to look into the treatment. I tell you those girls are
beauts. They get fun, exercise, fresh air and have the last good time
they ever expect to have in this world. Poor dears, they must all be
engaged next season, you know."

Dorothy and Tavia were enjoying this, Rosabel had seemed to forget
their presence, she at once became so absorbed in the society talk.

"I would like to visit camp," she ventured.

"Come along then," said Nat good naturedly, "Our girls are coming out
to-morrow."

Tavia gave a significant sigh. Who could have any fun "with that
door-bell floral piece tagging on," she thought.

Mrs. Glen was appealed to and it was finally arranged that she, Mrs.
White, and the younger set should go on the following afternoon to
visit Camp Hard Tack.

When the nine o'clock bell rang the visitors promptly rose to go, nor
were they detained by any overwhelming entreaties to prolong their stay.

"Of all the sticks," began Ned, when they were at a safe distance.

"Hush, Neddie, Rosabel is being properly brought up," interrupted Mrs.
White with more smiles than frowns.

"Properly! Save the mark! And if I had been a girl would you have done
that to me? I did hope that Dorothy might be made comfortable here for
some time, but if that is contagious I'll take her home myself. A case
like that must be fatal," and Ned shook his head seriously.

"And her cheeks?" asked Nat, "what do you call that?"

"The very best," replied Tavia, "I know that kind is two dollars an
ounce. I saw it in Rochester."

"Then we'll fix her out at camp," decided Nat. "We will put up some
kind of a game that calls for a face wash and a forfeit. If Rosy
objects I'll get the boys to wash it for her."

"Oh, that would be rude," insisted Dorothy.

"Not for campers," insisted the unquenchable Nat, "It might be for
ministers, but not for campers."

It was not late enough to leave the porch, so the talk drifted to
Dalton matters.

"Now Dot," began Ned, "I'd like to hear more of the 'chaser' business.
I am sure we have all heard the wrong story of it, and even at that I
must admit it is not so slow--rather interesting. Give us the right
version."

"Let Tavia tell it," Dorothy begged off.

"Well, who did the fellow turn out to be?" asked Ned.

"He hasn't turned out yet," replied Tavia. "The last we heard of him he
tried to throw Dorothy over the falls--"

"Scamp," interrupted Ned. "Pity there's no fellows in Dalton big enough
to lick a fellow like that."

"Oh, there are plenty of them," declared Dorothy, at once up in arms
for the Dalton boys. "But he is such a coward he never appears except
when he is sure we are alone."

"The entire boys' school hunted for him that day in the woods," added
Tavia, "but he got away."

"What on earth is he after?" went on Ned.

"The Burlock money," promptly replied Dorothy. "At first we did not
know that, but there is no doubt of it now. When he grabbed me he
hissed into my ear, 'Did Miles Burlock leave his money with your
father?' Oh!" exclaimed Dorothy, "I can't bear to think of it yet."

"Excuse me, coz," spoke up Ned, "perhaps I should not have made you
think of it."

"Indeed, I scarcely ever get it out of my mind. It just haunts me."

"That's why she left school," Tavia reminded them, "And I left to keep
her company," she finished with a merry laugh at the idea, and its
evident consequences.

"A blessing all around," said Nat. "What would we have done if neither
of you left and we got left--for this good time. I hope mom will kidnap
Dorothy."

"Indeed you cannot have her," declared Tavia. "I should pine away and
die at Dalton without her."

"Then stay at Birchland," suggested Ned. "Plenty of room."

"But what does the fellow want with the Burlock money?" asked Nat,
getting back to the interesting affair that still remained so much of a
mystery.

"It's a long story," began Dorothy, "and it has not all been told yet.
Burlock was, in some way, in Anderson's power. I was with father when
poor Mr. Burlock told us about it. He declared it was all the result of
too much liberty in youth and bad company?"

"Be warned, Nat, my boy," interrupted Ned, jokingly. "I must have the
mater cut you down. 'And he rambled till the mater cut him down,'"
hummed the brother, paraphrasing the butcher song.

"Spare the allowance and cut anything else down you like," answered
Nat. "But please do not interrupt again."

"Then it seems," went on Dorothy, "Mr. Burlock had a lot of money left
him. From that time on this Anderson followed Mr. Burlock and even
succeeded in separating him from his family."

"But how did Burlock hold on to the cash all that time?" asked Ned.

"Oh, that was kept for him. He only had the interest of it. But lately
a Mrs. Douglass, of Dalton, died; she had charge of the money because
Mr. Burlock was not considered capable of taking care of it himself."

"And now," said Ned, "the major has it, and Anderson is trying to get
it away by means of information he hopes to get from the major's
daughter? Easy as a, b, c. But to whom is the money left?"

"To an unknown or unfound daughter," said Dorothy. "Her name is Nellie
or Helen Burlock, and it was in hopes of locating her, upon a false
clew which Anderson sent, that poor Mr. Burlock met his death."

"But Dorothy had him all fixed for heaven," said Tavia. "Yes, if ever a
man died, hoping to be forgiven, it was Miles Burlock. Those who were
with him said so, and it was all Dorothy's doings. I must admit I did
joke her about it," Tavia said earnestly, "but she had done so many
things girls never do, and she was not strong enough to keep it up, so
we all had to try to discourage it. But you will have to come to Dalton
to hear her praises sung. She is a regular home missionary--the kind
they tell about in meetings, but who are too busy to come and talk
about themselves."

"I am sure Dorothy is an angel," said Nat, putting his arm
affectionately around his cousin. "I only hope she will save some of
her goodness for me--I do need a mission."

"Indeed," answered Dorothy, "joking aside, you boys are very good and
so attentive to your mother. She told me so herself."

"Oh," gasped Nat, "when did she say that? Is it too late to make a
strike now? I am horribly short--shore dinner this week you know."

"And there's Nellie," resumed Ned, determined to get at the bottom of
the Burlock story. "Now she's to have money. What do you say, Nat, if
we get on the case? Nellie might make it all right, you know."

"Great scheme, boy," said Nat, "you do the finding and I will act as
your attorney."

"Isn't there any clue?" asked Ned.

"Yes, father is working on one, and I am so anxious to hear the
result," said Dorothy. "Of course he will not write about it. I expect
there will be lots of news when we get back to Dalton."

Tavia had been silent for some time. The boys had failed to "wake up
her jokes," as they expressed it.

"Look here," said Ned tipping her chair back in a perilous way. "You
can't claim to be sleepy for your eyes are just like stars. Nor need
you pretend to be weeping inwardly for the coil of taffy we all forgot
to bring back from Mikes' (if anything happens to that hair I'll have
his license revoked), so now own up, what are you moping about?"

Dorothy was at Tavia's side instantly.

"You are tired, dear," she said. "Perhaps you are weak from shock.
Let's go in."

"Indeed I'm all right--" stammered Tavia, but a hot tear fell on
Dorothy's hand, and told a different story.

"Homesick!" whispered Ned as he kissed Dorothy good night. "She'll be
all right to-morrow."



CHAPTER XXIV

THE PAINTED FACE


Human life seems so like that depicted in the elements about us; a
patch of blue here, and a streak of blackness stealing up there to
cover it. A glint of gold there and a flurry of smoke almost upon it.
So with life: brightness is so closely followed by shadows that gloom
and glow become inseparable. Perhaps the contrasts save us from the
blinding glare of extremes; it may be well to have even our joys
tempered with moderation.

It had been such a happy day--Tavia felt she had never before known how
to enjoy life. There had been many happy times of course, in Dalton,
and Dorothy had often surprised her with entirely unexpected little
treats; but somehow this was different, there was so much to be enjoyed
at once.

Ah, Tavia! that is why reaction comes so suddenly. You left Nature
behind you in Dalton--human wild flowers have a hard time of it when
first thrust upon the pavements of social concrete.

Dorothy was with Tavia in the pretty bedroom. The moonlight made its
way in at the curtained windows, and the two girls were clinging to
each other there on the cushioned seat, trying to "think it out,"
Dorothy said.

"I had such a lovely time," sobbed Tavia, "and every one had been so
good to me. But I could not help it Doro dear. When that Rosabel came I
saw the difference--I saw I never could be your friend when we grew up.
And then I got to thinking about home--Dorothy, I must go. I must talk
about that money with dear mother and father and even little
Johnnie--he did seem to need me so much! And I have been so selfish--to
leave them all."

"Now, Tavia, you make me feel badly. It is I who am selfish to take you
away, but I am sure your mother particularly wanted you to come, and
your father was so pleased. I tell you, dear it is all that money. You
just feel you cannot wait to talk all about it, and I don't blame you
at all. You shall go home just as soon as you want to."

"But you must stay," said Tavia, brightening up at the thought of going
home. "I came to be company for you, but you do not need me."

Was there just a sign of jealousy in her words? Dorothy instantly
detected a change--Tavia drew herself up so like other girls, but so
unlike Tavia.

"Not need you! Why, Tavia, who in all this world could take your
place," and her arms were wound around the neck of the weeping girl,
while the fondest sister-kiss was pressed to the tear-stained cheek.

"My, what a goose I am!" suddenly exclaimed Tavia, springing up. "I
never was homesick or had the real blues in all my life, and I do not
propose to do the baby act now. So there," and she gave a hearty hug to
Dorothy. "I'm done with blubbering, and I'm more ashamed of myself than
I was the day I ran away after the row with Sarah. Now, I'll beat you
to bed, and to sleep, too, for that matter. We will have to do some
tall snoring to catch up with the rosy Rosabel--her cheeks will make
ours look like putty."

It was late, and Dorothy was glad to feel that Tavia had conquered her
homesickness, for that is what Dorothy insisted the attack was. It was,
however, the first--but the pain it left in Tavia's heart did not heal
at once, nor did it leave the spot unscarred.

Mrs. White had prudently left the girls to themselves, but now, by some
strange intuition she felt the "storm" was over, and sent a maid to ask
Dorothy if some crackers or an ice would not taste good. In replying
the girls discovered they were not the only ones up late, and presently
the entire party had assembled in the beautiful chintz dining room, and
the ices were being served between good-natured "jollyings."

"That hair cut went to your head," Ned told Tavia, "but wait until I go
down for the tresses, I'll scare Mike stiff--make him believe we
thought he had 'cribbed' them."

Tavia was entirely herself now, and had word for word with the jolly
boys.

Mrs. White studied her closely, but of course, unobserved. She was a
fine girl, no doubt of it, and a pleasant companion for Dorothy. Her
humor was as pure as the bubbles in the brook, and just as unfailing.
And what a pretty girl she was! Those hazel eyes and that bronze head.
No wonder even the foreign barber had noted that it was "scarce."

"A veritable wildflower," concluded the hostess, just as others had
said; Major Dale for instance.

Dorothy was of an entirely different type. Her beauty was the sort that
grows more and more attractive, as character develops, not depending
upon mere facial outline.

"Now, children, off to bed with you," said Mrs. White, touching the
bell to tell the maid the late lunch was over, "and to-morrow you know
we go to camp. You will not have a headache, Tavia?"

"I have never had one in my life," answered Tavia, in that polite tone
she always used in speaking to the hostess. "Perhaps my head does not
know enough to ache."

"Blissful ignorance then," replied Mrs. White, "see to it that you
never become so worldly-wise as to learn how. A head that does not ache
is a joy forever."

Hasty good nights were exchanged, and this time there was no "waking
night-mare" for Tavia. She wanted to sleep--young hearts may ache once
in a while, but they have a comfortable habit of deferring to tired
nature at least once in twenty-four hours.

So the Cedars rustled to their hearts' content, and the pines whispered
derisively at their attempt to make themselves heard in the world of
music makers--poor little stunted cedars! So small beside the giant
pines, so useless in a tree's great province--to give shade; but that
file of trees, scarcely taller than a hedge, had for years and years
made the division between one land and another, so they stood for that
at least. As Nat had explained to Tavia "they knew where to draw the
line."

The morning that followed was one of those beautiful streaks of
Nature's capriciousness when she allows spring to turn back and give
orders to summer. It was late in June, yet the air was soft and balmy,
and the sunshine behaved so nicely that Tavia, looking out of her
window actually found dew on the honeysuckle, and saw there was no need
to close blinds at even ten o'clock--which was late for dew certainly,
and late for a girl like Tavia Travers to get her first romp out of
doors.

Dorothy looked in mischievously.

"We didn't call you," she said smiling, "because you were so anxious
about your cheeks, you know. Let me see. I do declare, Tavia Travers,
is that a blush? Or did you dream you were Rosabel? Now don't try to
tell me that's perfectly natural. It isn't--it's simply divine," and
she gave her friend a reassuring kiss.

"When we get to talking such nonsense," said Tavia with as much
severity as she could summon on short notice, "I think we should do
something for it--get busy at something you know. It is plainly the
result of downright idleness."

"Dr. Gray's prescription, you know. But now for camp. The boys have
gone on ahead, and Aunt Winnie is going to stop at the hotel for lunch,
She said she thought we would enjoy it."

"Oh, I will, I am sure," answered Tavia, promptly. "That's what worries
me, I am getting to enjoy everything. What in the world will I do when
I get back to Dalton?"

"Write letters to Nat, I suppose. Now don't get any deeper shade of
red, dear. The one that you woke up with is so becoming."

"How much time have we?" asked Tavia, bestowing more care on the
brushing of her short hair now than she had ever thought of giving the
mass that the barber still had in his keeping.

"Perhaps an hour, but we want to get out on the lawn, for a game of
ball before we start. I am just dying to play real ball! I do miss Joe
and Roger so!"

"I am sure they miss you, too, Doro. I have been wondering how you have
managed to keep away from them."

"Well, I have to you know. Besides I get a letter every day. Joe said
yesterday that your folks had taken the Baldwin house."

"Father said in his letter he expected to. But do you know, Doro, I
would never advise a poor girl to go out of her own territory, I think
I shall be unhappy now--at home."

"Nonsense. You will enjoy the simple life more thoroughly than ever.
That is only a scruple, you are afraid you shouldn't enjoy anything but
Dalton. You know perfectly well you would rather dig
Jacks-in-the-pulpit out by our back wall, than snatch those
honeysuckles at your window."

"Perhaps," said Tavia vaguely. "But I guess you are right, Doro. You
always are. I am just afraid to think of anything but what we've got."

"Not even the five hundred?"

"Oh, that is what upsets me. I shall expect it to make us millionaires."

"And so it will in happiness. I can't blame you one bit for wanting to
get home to talk it over."

"Oh, that was yesterday. To-day I want to go to camp."

Dorothy looked at her uneasily. She remembered it was told her once
that sudden changes were always unwholesome to young people.

"It must be that," she told herself, "Tavia has had too many sudden
changes lately. And she always was so sentimental. I believe, after
all, it is best for girls to keep busy at practical things. Tavia has
never been trained."

"Now," said Tavia, who had been fixing before the pretty dressing
table, "I'm ready. But I have a plan--to help Nat out with Rosabel's
complexion test."

"Oh, he was only joking," exclaimed Dorothy. "He wouldn't be so rude."

"It's no harm, I'm sure; I've done it lots of times. Come out and I'll
show you."

Out on the lawn Tavia ran about like the girl she used to be. She was
looking for something. Down behind the hedge of Cedars then out on the
open fields patches of clover and daisies were tangled--they grew
outside the Cedars; beyond the line.

"Here it is!" she called to Dorothy. "Such a lovely bunch."

Then running back she brought to Dorothy a long stem of mullen leaves.

"What are they for?" asked Dorothy, for she knew the common plant well
enough.

"To paint our cheeks with, and it doesn't come off! Won't Rosabel be
surprised."

"But I wouldn't think of putting those sticky leaves to my face,"
objected Dorothy.

"Why, they're not poison," said Tavia, beginning to unfold the velvet
leaves that look so soft and are really so very "scratchy."

"Don't!" begged Dorothy. "It is just as bad as paint, and paint is
positively vulgar. I am sure you were mistaken about Rosabel. No
respectable girl would be so foolish."

But Tavia was rubbing the leaves to her pink cheeks with absolute
disregard of everything but "rubbing." That seemed to be the one thing
necessary in the operation.

Presently a deep red stained her cheeks. She felt the sting but wanted
to make sure it was all rubbed on.

"Does it burn?" asked Dorothy in surprise that Tavia should really
carry out her threat to make her cheeks redder than Rosabel's.

"A little," admitted Tavia. "Don't you want to try it?"

"Not for worlds," answered Dorothy. "Since you say it will not wash off
how are you going to explain it?"

"Sunburn," promptly answered the other, with a subtlety surprising to
Dorothy.

"You really must not help the boys play any joke on Miss Glen," said
Dorothy. "You know they are Aunt Winnie's neighbors, and we are her
guests."

"Oh, all right, if you feel that way about it," said Tavia a little
stiffly, "perhaps, Dorothy, I had better have a headache and not go out
to camp--I don't mean to be pouty," she hurried on, "but really,
Dorothy, I have never been able to withstand that sort of temptation
and I might embarrass you. I wouldn't do it for anything, Doro."

Dorothy Dale was perplexed. First Tavia had said sunburn instead of
mullen leaves, and now she was willing to substitute headache for
rudeness. Wasn't she learning a trifle too fast? Aunt Winnie never
advocated that sort of thing--the rich may be just as honest as the
poor, and more so, for they have opportunities of discerning the great
difference between a gentle and polite way of saving persons' feelings
and the rude unpardonable way of seeking refuge behind little quibbles
at the expense of truth.

"We were only joking, of course," said Dorothy finally, jumping up from
her seat on the old tree stump, "But it is different where some one
else is concerned. Everybody is not willing to take a joke you know."

"I've noticed that lately," replied Tavia, pressing both hands to her
cheeks to stop, if possible, the burning of the mullen leaves. "But you
know I once promised to show you how I looked painted. Now I've kept my
promise."

The flaming red of her cheeks seemed to make her eyes blaze as well,
and it could not be denied she looked wonderfully pretty--or would look
so at longer range, through opera glasses, perhaps. But in calm
daylight there was something strange about her face. The short bronze
hair, the dancing hazel eyes,--

"Tavia," exclaimed Dorothy, dismay in her voice, "I am so sorry--you
look like--an actress."



CHAPTER XXV

AN EMERGENCY CASE


"There's a special messenger," exclaimed Dorothy, with a little
flutter. "I hope there's nothing the matter--"

The boy with the bag strapped over his shoulder had dismounted from his
muddy bicycle, and was now at the door of the Cedar mansion.

Tavia slipped through the hedge after Dorothy. It seemed the message
must be from Dalton, somehow, and she too, like Dorothy, felt a trifle
agitated.

The maid had answered the ring, and now the boy was wandering along the
path, content that his time-mark allowed a few moments for such
recreation.

Mrs. White appeared on the piazza presently. Dorothy and Tavia were
within its portals, waiting to be summoned.

"My dear," began the hostess, "I have just received a message from
Major Dale. He wants you to come home--at once. He is called to
Rochester on important business, and as he says Mrs. Martin is not
well, so he cannot leave without having his little housekeeper in
charge of things--Dorothy, you are a real Dale, able at your age to
keep house."

"Aunt Libby sick," was Dorothy's first thought and exclamation.

"The Rochester case," declared Tavia. "That means the Burlock mystery
is going to be cleared up."

"The major did not, of course, hint at the nature of his business, but
I am really so sorry to lose you just now. And the boys at camp--they
will be painfully disappointed," said Mrs. White.

"We have had a perfectly splendid time," declared Dorothy, "and I am
sure we can hardly thank you for your--attention. You have so many
calls upon your time and you did all that shopping for us."

"My dear," and the aunt tilted Dorothy's chin to kiss it, "that was a
real dissipation. To shop for my own girls. Why, it made me feel like a
youngster, myself. And besides, I had orders from Dalton."

"Even so," insisted Dorothy, showing some surprise at the word
"orders." "It took a lot of time and it was such a warm day. But you
did a great deal more than that for us, Aunt Winnie, you must remember
how much I can do, too, and give me a chance some day, when you want a
rest."

"Bless the baby's heart! Hear her talk!" and the woman in the soft gray
robe threw her arms about Dorothy. "All the same, when my heart gets
unconquerably lonely for my daughter, I shall command her to come to
me."

Tavia was "standing afar off." Her burning cheeks grew more scarlet
every moment, and were plainly a matter of great embarrassment to her.
She did want to offer her thanks with those of Dorothy, but somehow,
her words were scorched when they reached her lips, and they "stuck
there."

"My dear," exclaimed Mrs. White, presently noticing Tavia's confusion.
"Have you been in poison ivy? Your cheeks show a poison!"

"Only mullen leaves," answered Tavia promptly, relieved to have made
the confession without further parleying.

"Mullen leaves," in a surprised voice, then adding quickly, "Oh, of
course, we all used to do that. You were painting to go out to camp,"
said Mrs. White.

"Tavia was going to help play a joke on Rosabel," interrupted Dorothy,
anxious to make the matter as light as possible, and help Tavia with
her honesty.

"Why, that would be too bad," said Mrs. White, "Poor Rosabel has
trouble with her skin. It is always flaming red, and it seems almost
impossible to cool down the sudden flashes. It is caused by a nervous
condition."

Tavia dropped her eyes. What if Dorothy had not spoken against the
joke, and if they had really gone to camp?

"Your train leaves shortly after lunch," continued Mrs. White, "so you
had better be getting ready. I am sorry the boys are not here to see
you off, but I will drive you over myself and see that you are safely
en route for Dalton. I almost wish I were going myself. It seems an age
since I have seen the dear major."

"Oh, do come!" exclaimed Dorothy joyously, "Wouldn't it be splendid."

"If I only could, my dear, but I cannot this time. I will surprise you
some day. Then I will see whether you or Tavia is the better
housekeeper."

"Please do not surprise me," begged Tavia, "although I should be so
very glad to see you--give me notice, so that you may be able to get
in. Whenever I take to sweeping and bar up the doors with furniture my
Sunday school teacher calls."

"I always was considered a good player at hopscotch," joked Mrs. White,
"so you need not worry about that, Tavia, dear."

The dress suit cases were to be packed. They had been full enough
coming, but it was soon found impossible to get all the new things in
them for the journey back. Tavia discovered this first, and called it
in to Dorothy's room.

"I can't get my things in either," answered Dorothy back, through the
summer draperies that divided the apartments. "We will have to send a
box."

This seemed a real luxury to the girls--to come home with an express
box.

Mrs. White had given Dorothy a fine bracelet as a good-bye present, and
to Tavia a small gold heart and dainty gold chain.

Tavia could not speak she was so surprised and pleased at first.
Dorothy had a locket and chain, but Tavia had hardly ever expected to
own such a costly trinket. The maid had brought the gifts up. Mrs.
White was busy dressing.

"I'll have to hug her," declared Tavia, kissing the heart set with a
garnet.

"Just do," agreed Dorothy, "she would be so pleased."

Down the stairs flew Tavia. Lightly she touched the mahogany paneled
door at Mrs. White's boudoir.

"Come," answered the pleasant voice.

"I came to thank you," faltered Tavia, glancing with misgivings at the
handsome bared arms and throat before the gilt framed mirror.

"For your heart?" and Mrs. White smiled so kindly.

"Yes," said Tavia simply, and the next moment she had both arms around
that beautiful neck.

The woman held the girl to her breast for a moment. Tavia's heart was
beating wildly.

"My dear," said Mrs. White, "I do hope you have enjoyed yourself," and
she kissed her again. "But you must promise me not to paint with mullen
leaves any more. Sometimes such jokes lead to habits--one looks pale
you know when the blaze dies away."

Tavia felt as if her blaze never would die away. Why had she been so
foolish? She would have given anything now to rub those horrid, prickly
leaves off forever.

"I never will paint--" she stammered.

"I hope you will not, dear, you should be grateful for such coloring as
you have. But let me warn you in all kindness. It is usually pretty
girls who make such mistakes--they want to be more and more attractive
and so spoil it all. Think right, and of pleasant things, and the glory
of happiness will be all the cosmetic you will ever need," and again
she pressed her own white cheek to the burning face of the girl she
still held in her arms.

Later, when Tavia was thinking it all over, she pondered seriously upon
those words. No one had ever spoken to her just that way before--at
home it was taken for granted she knew so much more than those around
her, that such counsel as she needed was withheld. Alas, how many girls
lose valuable advice by appearing to be over-smart for their years! And
then the awakening is always doubly sad. So it was with this mistake of
Tavia's, trivial enough, yet for her--it appeared like a crime to have
put those mullen leaves to her cheeks; to be thought vain; to have Mrs.
White warn her about other girls!

It seemed a very short time indeed, from the arrival of the special
message at the Cedars until the train was speeding back toward Dalton.
And the journey had lost all its novelty, for Dorothy and Tavia were so
intent upon the possible happenings when they should reach home, that
the wait, even on a flying train, seemed tiresome.

"Do you suppose," ventured Tavia, as she laid her book down, after a
number of unsuccessful efforts to become interested in the story, "they
have captured that Anderson?"

"I am sure I cannot guess," answered Dorothy, "but I feel certain it is
about that affair that we are called home in such a hurry. I wish I
could soon keep the promise I made to poor Mr. Burlock. I said I would
some day find his daughter Nellie, and it does seem the detectives have
been a long time in finding any tangible clew. Father hired two of the
best he could get to trace the child--that was her mother who died, the
one you told me of, you know. I did not talk about it because father
thought it was best to say nothing that might possibly give Anderson a
hint that they were on his track."

"And have they tracked him?" asked Tavia.

"Yes, they know he left Mr. Burlock in Rochester. He cashed a check
there that Mr. Burlock gave him for what the poor man thought would be
a possible clew to little Nellie's whereabouts, and to think that the
disappointment killed the disheartened father!"

"Well, I only hope they have him now," said Tavia, "I would like to
have another chance at his--hat."

Then the conversation drifted back to North Birchland. Both girls
looked much benefited by their visit, and even Tavia's short hair and
unnatural red cheeks did not detract from the noticeable improvement.
Dorothy's face had rounded some too, and the Lake air had given a
ruddiness to her naturally delicate tinting, that was most becoming to
her as a summer girl.

"I never saw such nice boys," remarked Tavia, "I think, after all, it
takes money to polish people."

"Not at all," insisted Dorothy. "It is not money but good breeding.
There are plenty of poor persons who are just as polished as you call
it. Father often told us about a family he visited when he was abroad.
They were so poor in clothes--pathetically shabby, and yet they went in
the very best society. Father used to make us laugh by his funny
descriptions of the ladies at dinners. At the same affairs would be
Thomas Carlyle, and just think, these poor people--he was a parson,
lived on the very ground that was once part of the garden of Sir Thomas
Moore. Father saw the famous mulberry trees there, that so much has
been written about. I hope I may be able to go there some time--we have
relatives in England."

"I would not care to travel," said Tavia impatiently. "This seems a
long enough trip for me."

"Only two more stops," said Dorothy as the train rattled past the
stations. "Oh, I shall be so glad to see them all."

"And lonesome for the Cedars after you have seen them all," Tavia
hinted. "That's the worst of it, home is always with us--"

"Get your hat box down," Dorothy interrupted. "We are slackening up
now."

"Dalton! Dalton!" called the brakeman at the door, and the next minute
the girls were being kissed heartily by Joe, Roger and Johnnie, "the
committee on arrival," as Tavia said. The lads were fully qualified to
carry off the honors in the way of boxes and small bundles.

"How is Aunt Libby?" asked Dorothy as soon as she could say anything
relevant.

"Better," said Joe, "but father does not feel well--you are not to
worry--" seeing how her face clouded, "he is only tired out. He has
been working at the office and writing so many letters--"

"That I should have written. Poor dear father! I hope he is not going
to have another spell," and Dorothy sighed.

"No, the doctor said he would be all right if he would only stay quiet,
but he is about as quiet as my squirrel in its new cage," said Joe.

"Home again," called Dorothy, waving her hand to the major who now
appeared on the piazza. "Here we are, bag and baggage," and then it
seemed all the "pain of separation" was made up for in that loving
embrace--the major had the Little Captain in his arms again.



CHAPTER XXVI

DOROTHY'S COURAGE


"Dorothy," said the major, when all the news from Aunt Winnie's had
been told and retold to Joe and Roger, "I want you to come to my study
after tea. I have something to say to you."

The major was seated in his favorite chair at the open window. Dorothy
thought he looked handsomer every day, as his hair became whiter, and
now as she came to him for the business talk, she wondered who in all
the world could have so loving and so noble a father.

"I had expected to go to Rochester in the morning," he began, as
Dorothy dropped to the stool at his feet, "but that dear old meddling
doctor says no. I feel well enough--"

"But you are not, daddy dear," interrupted Dorothy. "You have been
working too hard, I should not have left you."

"Tut, tut, child, it is you who have been working too hard. I did not
realize it until I picked up the loose ends. But we must not play pot
and kettle. We must talk business."

Major Dale went across the room and opened his desk. The letter he
wanted was at his hand and he glanced at it hurriedly.

"Yes, it is to-morrow morning," he said. "I was to appear in court to
identify Anderson."

"They have him then?" Dorothy could not refrain from asking.

"Yes, your man--Squire Travers--refunded him up, so you see he has
returned your compliment, he has captured your enemy."

"But how could you identify Anderson? You have never seen him."

"Yes, I had that pleasure once. I saw him with Burlock and I could
identify him. Travers did some fine work on the case, walked right over
the detectives, and he deserves credit. He will get it too, in the way
of a second term as squire, for he has completely broken up the
factions--it seems like one party now."

"I am so glad," said Dorothy. "They did have such a hard time of it."

"Yes, but about to-morrow. Do you think Ralph could identify Anderson?
Ralph is out of town and I have wired him to be back to-night."

"I don't think he ever saw the man," Dorothy answered thoughtfully.
"But I saw him very distinctly. Wouldn't I do?"

"You? Why, child, could you go into a big police court and say: 'There,
that's the man;' without fainting from fright?"

"Indeed, I could," declared the girl. "I could do more than that to
find Nellie Burlock."

"If I really thought so--"

"But you must know it," said Dorothy, quick to take advantage of the
major's hesitation. "If you just give me instructions I will carry them
out to the letter. And oh! if we can only give that money to its
rightful owner at last."

"Yes, if we only could, I think I would feel like a new man. It has
weighed heavily upon me, particularly since that rascal attacked you at
the falls."

"I have it!" and Dorothy's eyes flashed in unison with her brain.
"Telegraph to Mr. Travers to meet us, and let Tavia and me go. Tavia
has an aunt in Rochester, you know, and she will take care of us when
we have finished with the other business. Indeed, I can hardly wait."

"I cannot seem to think that you should go," objected the major. "It is
a big city, and suppose Travers should fail to meet you?"

"Then I'll meet him," promptly answered Dorothy. "Just give me all the
directions and I will find any police station in Rochester. Besides,
I'll have Tavia, and she has been there--through the city--often."

"Well, it does seem the only way, for if we fail to identify Anderson
he may be released, and I fancy he would never walk into our hands
again."

"Now, not another thought, but how we are to go?" and Dorothy drew her
chair up to his desk. "Tell me all about it now, so I can have it all
settled in my mind to-night. Then to-morrow, all we will have to do is
depart. My! we are becoming famous travelers!"

Very late that night Major Dale still sat at his desk. It was a serious
matter for him to allow his only daughter to go into a strange city and
then to a police court to identify a criminal. But how else could he
carry out his sacred obligation to Burlock? How else could he fulfill
his duty to the lost child?

And Dorothy too, was troubled that night. Would she really have courage
to undertake the trip to a big city and then--?

But she, too, had made a promise, and she, too, felt the voice of the
dead father and the voice or the neglected child crying for justice.

Dorothy Dale did not hesitate--she would go.

Next morning Tavia bounced around like a toy balloon. To think of going
to Rochester, and into a police court--what could be more delightfully
sensational? And perhaps they would have their names in the papers,
their pictures, she ventured to suggest. "The two girls from Dalton!"
"A striking scene in the police court!" These and other "striking
things" she outlined to serious Dorothy, who now in the early morning
sat so close to the car window, and seemed to hear nothing of the
foolish prattle, as the train rattled on.

"Don't be a funeral, Doro," objected Tavia. "It's the best fun I ever
dreamed of. Wait till they call on me to testify! Ahem! Won't I make a
stir!"

"But we are not going to testify at all--"

"Same thing. We are to go before a lot of handsome officers, and they
will be so careful of our feelings, of course. I hope I blush! It's
always so nice to blush in print!"

Whether her nonsense was all frivolity, or somewhat calculated to
distract the over serious Dorothy, would have taken an expert in human
nature to decide, and there were many other things about Tavia quite as
bewildering; but Dorothy was patient, she knew Tavia would not
disappoint her when the test came.



CHAPTER XXVII

THE LITTLE CAPTAIN--CONCLUSION


"Wasn't it mean," grumbled Tavia, "I thought it would be so dramatic."

"Dramatic enough for me," answered Dorothy. "I felt a chill steal all
over me when I put my hand on that man's arm, and said, 'This is he!'
Ugh, I have the rub of his sleeve still on my palm," and Dorothy tried
to efface the memory of it on her small white hand by rubbing it
briskly on her linen skirt.

"Well, I am disappointed," pouted Tavia, "and I don't want any more
mock trials."

"We must hurry, your father will soon be here. And how anxious I am to
go to that place. What if the man has deceived the police as he did
poor Mr. Burlock?"

"No danger. He is caught in his own trap now, and his only hope is from
good behavior--they make it lighter for him as he makes it easier to
clear up the case. I heard pop talking to the folks last night about
it."

This was the day after the identification of Andrew Anderson by Dorothy
in the Police Court. The man had disguised his appearance by taking off
his beard, but there were other marks, and the girl could not be shaken
in her positive identification.

The man had denied his guilt at first, but finally broke down when
confronted with the evidence against him and admitted he had the
Burlock child in hiding, but she was now in charge of some woman.
Dorothy was to go for her to-day.

Mr. Travers, though having many important affairs to attend to, was on
time, and he agreed to take Dorothy and Tavia with him to find Nellie.

"Keep close to me," he told the girls, making their way through dirty
and uncertain streets. "This is a rough part of town."

House after house he stopped at, leaving the girls in each instance
waiting anxiously to be told to follow. But the places were so much
alike in their squalor the search was becoming more and more tiresome.

"Maybe he gave the wrong address," ventured Tavia, discouraged and
dissatisfied with the many mistakes.

"No, but these people change homes so often," explained her father.
"Here, this looks--wait a minute!"

Down the steps of a dark basement Squire Travers hurried. The girls
looked after him--that place was not dirty, merely poor and bare.

Presently he called to them:

"Come in, girls," and Dorothy felt she could hardly move--she was so
anxious and expectant.

A woman, with a kind face, greeted them sadly, but with that
unmistakable air of one whom poverty cannot drag down from self-respect.

"Yes, I have a child with me," she answered nervously, "but I cannot
allow you to see her."

Then Squire Travers produced his credentials.

"You need not fear us," he told her kindly. "We have the best of news
for little Nellie Burlock, and we are only too anxious to make her
acquainted with it."

"But we have been disappointed so often," objected the woman, "and that
man Anderson--"

"You need not think of him now," said Squire Travers. "We have just
left him in the hands of the sheriff. This little girl," placing his
hand on Dorothy, "has brought it all about. She showed the child's
father how to die happily--made it possible for him to see the hope
beyond, and then she and her good father have worked untiringly to find
the child. Cannot we see her now?"

[Illustration: Instantly Dorothy had her arms around the little girl]

The woman took Dorothy's hands, and looked straight into her eyes.
Then, without a word, she turned and opened a narrow door, that seemed
to run under a stairway.

"Nellie!" she called softly.

Dorothy's heart felt as if a life was dependent upon those few moments.
What if it should not be the right one?

A child--pale and wan, but with an inexpressibly sweet face--stood
before them. She clung to the woman like a frightened little bird.

"They have good news for us, Nellie," said the woman. "This child is
Nellie Burlock, only child of Miles Burlock."

Instantly Dorothy had her arms around the little girl.

"To think we have really found you," she tried to say, but the words
choked for very joy in her throat.

"Have you any papers?" asked Squire Travers of the woman.

"Yes," she answered, "and more than papers. I took that child from her
dying mother's arms, and no threats nor promises of that villain
Anderson have taken her from me. She is all I have now--my own darling
has been spared the hardships we have to suffer."

"But we will not take her from you," said Squire Travers. "I know
something of your affairs. Your husband is a printer out of work? His
name is Mooney?"

"Yes," answered the woman sadly.

"Then how long will it take you to get ready to leave for Dalton?
Yourself, Nellie and Mr. Mooney?"

"Leave?" gasped the woman, "we have until to-morrow morning to get out
of this place--"

"Very well," replied the squire, "then you can come with us promptly,
for Major Dale will not rest until we get back. Here, you two Dalton
girls, don't smother that child. Save a kiss or two for those at home.
They will want to know Nellie, too," and Dorothy looked from the little
stranger's face to smile at the jolly squire.

When the next afternoon train from the west pulled into Dalton there
alighted from it a party that attracted the attention of all who
chanced to be about the depot. The little blue-eyed girl, Nellie
Burlock, was very pale, but "wonderfully pretty" Tavia declared. Mrs.
Mooney had also that frightened, tired look, but her husband seemed to
have left all Rochester behind him. He was a first-class printer and
was to work on Major Dale's paper, and was not that a bright prospect
for an ambitious man?

Dorothy brought Nellie in alone to the major, He raised his head to
kiss his daughter, then he kissed the fatherless one--a new light came
into his eyes.

"Dorothy," he murmured. "My own Little Captain! You have led us all to
victory! God bless you!"

Of course there were a hundred and one explanations to make, and many
stories to tell besides. Nellie Burlock told of her life with Mrs.
Mooney, and of how she and the woman had been threatened more than once
by Andrew Anderson. To Mr. Mooney the affair was nothing but a mystery
and he had not bothered his head much about it.

"The authorities will take care of Anderson," said the major, and told
the truth, for the rascal was sent to prison for a term of years. Then
Major Dale was regularly appointed as little Nellie's guardian,
although the girl continued to reside with Mrs. Mooney. But she often
came to see Dorothy, and to see Tavia, too.

"It has all turned out for the best," said Dorothy, one day, to Tavia.

"I wonder if anything so wonderful will ever happen to us again,"
remarked her friend.

"I doubt it," answered Dorothy; yet she was mistaken; something
wonderful did happen, although of an entirely different nature. What it
was we shall discover in another story about her, to be called,
"Dorothy Dale at Glenwood School."

Schooldays at Dalton were rapidly drawing to a close now. Both Dorothy
and Tavia applied themselves diligently, and, wonder of wonders, both
passed!

"I can't believe it!" cried Tavia, and she began to dance around the
room. "Isn't it sublime!" And then she caught Dorothy and made her
dance too.

"It certainly is grand," answered Dorothy. "Oh, I am so happy!" and
then she kissed her girl friend; and here let us say good-bye.

The End



THE DOROTHY DALE SERIES By MARGARET PENROSE

Author of "The Motor Girls Series" 12 mo. Illustrated. Price per
volume, 80 cents, postpaid.

Dorothy Dale is the daughter of an old Civil War veteran who is running
a weekly newspaper in a small Eastern town. Her sunny disposition, her
fun-loving ways and her trials and triumphs make clean, interesting and
fascinating reading. The Dorothy Dale Series is one of the most popular
series of books for girls ever published.

  DOROTHY DALE: A GIRL OF TO-DAY
  DOROTHY DALE AT GLENWOOD SCHOOL
  DOROTHY DALE'S GREAT SECRET
  DOROTHY DALE AND HER CHUMS
  DOROTHY DALE'S QUEER HOLIDAYS
  DOROTHY DALE'S CAMPING DAYS
  DOROTHY DALE'S SCHOOL RIVALS
  DOROTHY DALE IN THE CITY
  DOROTHY DALE'S PROMISE
  DOROTHY DALE IN THE WEST
  DOROTHY DALE'S STRANGE DISCOVERY
  DOROTHY DALE'S ENGAGEMENT





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