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Title: Polly and Her Friends Abroad
Author: Roy, Lillian Elizabeth, 1868-1932
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 "Polly and Her Friends Abroad" ***

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produced from images made available by the HathiTrust
Digital Library.)



[Illustration: MR. ALEXANDER IS INTRODUCED TO POLLY.
_Frontispiece—(Page 24)_]



                             POLLY AND HER
                             FRIENDS ABROAD

                                   BY

                         LILLIAN ELIZABETH ROY

                              _Author of_
                POLLY OF PEBBLY PIT, POLLY AND ELEANOR,
                       POLLY IN NEW YORK, POLLY’S
                            BUSINESS VENTURE

                             ILLUSTRATED BY
                             H. S. BARBOUR

                                NEW YORK
                            GROSSET & DUNLAP
                               PUBLISHERS

                  Made in the United States of America



                          COPYRIGHT, 1922, BY
                            GROSSET & DUNLAP



                                CONTENTS

         CHAPTER                                              PAGE
               I The Alexanders                                  1
              II Dodo Meets Polly’s Friends                     22
             III The Tour Is Planned                            41
              IV The Tour of Great Britain                      62
               V Love Affairs and Antiques                      84
              VI Polly Takes a Hand To Cure Jimmy              106
             VII Dodo’s Elopement                              126
            VIII Dodo Meets Another “Title”                    148
              IX Mr. Alexander’s Surprise                      166
               X A Dangerous Pass on the Alps                  184
              XI The Plot in Venice                            205
             XII Escaping an Earthquake                        223
            XIII Unexpected Vicissitudes of Travel             238
             XIV A Highwayman in Disguise                      255
              XV Ahoy! for the Stars and Stripes Again         267



POLLY AND HER FRIENDS ABROAD



CHAPTER I—THE ALEXANDERS


Eleanor Maynard left her friend, Polly Brewster, in the stateroom,
cutting the stems of the gorgeous American Beauty roses, and arranging
them anew in the tall glass of fresh water. As she was about to close
the door behind her, she turned and said:

“Be sure and come up on deck, Polly, as soon as you are done with the
roses.”

“All right, run along and I’ll be with you in a jiffy,” returned Polly,
her thoughts engaged with the flowers.

So Eleanor strolled to the upper deck and tried to find an interest with
which to amuse herself until Polly joined her.

Of course, you remember Polly Brewster of Pebbly Pit, and her chum,
Eleanor Maynard, of Chicago? Mr. Fabian, their teacher in interior
decorating, and the Ashbys from New York City, were escorting the two
girls on this trip abroad, with the idea of visiting famous European
museums and places where antiques of all kinds could be seen and
studied.

Eleanor walked part way around the promenade deck before she was
accosted by a decidedly plump woman of about forty, with decidedly
blondine hair, and flashing—_most_ decidedly—too many large diamonds
from ears, fingers and neck.

“Excuse me, but aren’t you one of the young ladies I met at the Denver
railway station last year when Anne Stewart and her friends were about
to leave for New York?” questioned the lady.

Eleanor turned, glanced at the living representative of the newly-rich,
and smiled delightedly—not with recognition but at the possibility of
having fun with someone arrayed like a peacock.

“Oh yes, I was there! Do you know Anne Stewart?” said she.

“I should think I did! Didn’t we live next door to the Stewarts when
Anne and Paul were little tots?”

“How nice to meet you, now,” returned Eleanor, noting the quality of the
apparel and the approximate value of the gems adorning the lady.

“But that was before Ebeneezer struck ‘pay dirt’ down in Cripple Creek.
After that, we moved from the little house and bought a swell mansion in
the fashionable part of Denver,” explained the lady, with pride.

“Did you say you met us last summer?” ventured Eleanor.

“Yes, don’t you remember me? I got off the train coming in from Colorado
Springs, just as you-all stood waiting for the East-bound Express.”

“I have a faint recollection of Anne shaking hands with someone, and
introducing Polly and me, but there were so many in our party that you
must pardon me if I do not recall you now.”

“Oh sure! I know how it is,” giggled the lady, affably. “You _did_ have
a crowd waiting to see you off, I remember.”

“And now we meet again on the steamer bound for Europe! Well, it goes to
show how small a place this world is,” remarked Eleanor, not knowing
what else to say, but feeling amused at the hackneyed phrase she had to
make use of.

“How comes it that you are sailing across? Is your Ma and family with
you?”

“No, but Polly Brewster—she’s the girl you saw that day with Anne—and
I are going to tour Europe with some friends, to study more of our
profession.”

“Profession! Good gracious—didn’t that gold mine I read about pan out
anything?” exclaimed the lady, astonished.

Eleanor laughed. “Oh yes, I believe it is going to pay even richer than
we at first thought possible; so Polly and I can use our own money to
improve our education.”

“And what are you going to take up?”

“We have taken it up—Polly and I have been studying Interior Decorating
for two years, now.”

“Interior Decorating! Good gracious—isn’t that the sort of work the
upholsterers and painters have to do for you?” gasped the lady.

Eleanor laughed again. Here was fun indeed! So she carefully fed the
fuel now beginning to take fire in her companion’s brain. “I am afraid
it _has_ been their work in the past. But Polly and I plan to try and
uplift the work, and by investing our money in a first-rate business, we
will try to create a real profession out of what is merely a paint-brush
and a tack-hammer job, nowadays.”

Eleanor glanced about to make sure her friends were not within hearing
of the remarks she had just made to her new acquaintance. The expression
on the lady’s face, as the young aspirant for a new ideal explained her
plans, sufficed Eleanor for the story she had just told.

“And what did you say your name was, dearie?” asked the lady, finally.

“Eleanor Maynard—of the Chicago Maynards, you know.”

“Yes, yes, I know of them,” replied the lady, glibly. “I am Mrs.
Ebeneezer Alexander, of Denver. P’raps you’ve heard how Eben made a
million in a night?”

Mrs. Alexander’s puckered forehead led Eleanor to understand what was
expected of her in reply, so she fibbed as glibly as her companion had.
“Oh yes! _who_ has not heard of the Alexanders of Denver?”

The lady smoothed out her steamer-rug and smiled happily. Then the
remembrance of this banker’s daughter going into a common trade, to
better the conditions and reputation of the work, rose uppermost in her
shallow mind again.

“I should think your Ma’d go wild to think that one of her girls wanted
to work instead of getting married to a rich young man,” remarked she.

“Maybe my mother would object if I gave her time to think about it,”
Eleanor said, smilingly. “But she’s too busy getting my sister Bob ready
to marry, to bother about me.”

“Well, by the time your sister is settled down and having a family,
you’ll be ready to turn your back on work and do as your Ma thinks
best,” declared Mrs. Alexander, knowingly.

The very suggestion of Barbara’s having a family so amused Eleanor that
she laughed uncontrollably, to the perplexity of her companion.

“Don’t you believe you will grow tired of work?” asked Mrs. Alexander,
thinking her remarks on that subject had sounded preposterous to
Eleanor.

“No indeed! Polly and I are tremendously interested in the study, and as
we go into it deeper, the more absorbing it grows,” replied Eleanor.

“I didn’t know you had anything to study, except how to handle a
paint-brush, or tuck in the furniture covering, before you tack the
guimpe along the edges.”

“Oh yes, there’s a little more than that to learn first, before you can
hang out a sign to tell folks you are a decorator, and wish to solicit
their trade,” smiled Eleanor.

“Who are these Ashbys you spoke of? Are they New York trade people, or
do they travel in society?” now asked Mrs. Alexander, as she remembered
the escort Eleanor had mentioned.

“Mr. and Mrs. Ashby, and their daughter Ruth, are very nice people who
know just the sort of folks Polly and I need to meet to help us in our
business, later on. Mr. Ashby has a large upholstery and decorating
business in New York City, but his wife goes into society, somewhat,”
explained Eleanor, a twinkle in her eyes that would have warned one who
understood her mischievous inclinations. But her companion did not
understand.

“Oh—I see! Just a tradesman who’s made some money, I s’pose, and now
his wife wants to climb. Did you ever read that novel about some
‘climbers’?”

“No, but I’ve heard of it. The Ashbys are not that sort.”

“But not the sort that can help me with Dodo, either, I see,” said Mrs.
Alexander, thoughtfully for her.

“Dodo?”

“Yes, she’s my daughter. It’s because of her that I’m going over to the
other side. I’ve heard say there are titles going begging for American
millionaires since the war. And Dodo isn’t bad looking, even if she
isn’t as prepossessing as I used to be—and am yet, I can say.”

Eleanor could hardly believe she had heard aright. An American mother
from _Denver_ going to exchange her child for a title! And the absolute
egotism with which she mentioned her own looks and behavior!

“Well!” thought Eleanor to herself, “I was looking for entertainment,
and here I have more of it than I dreamed of.”

“Does your daughter agree with you about marrying a title?” Eleanor
could not help asking.

“She doesn’t say anything about it, one way or another. I told her what
she had to do, and that settles it.”

“How old is she?” wondered Eleanor aloud.

“Past sixteen, but she looks more like twenty. If it wasn’t that it
would make me look so old, I’d dress her like twenty-one ’cause I hear
the Europeans prefer a woman of age, and over there she can’t be her own
lawful self ’til twenty-one.”

“Sixteen! Why—she isn’t much older than Polly or I!” gasped Eleanor.

“No, but I said—she seemed older.”

“Nancy Fabian is nineteen and _she_ never thinks of getting married—not
yet. Everyone thinks, nowadays, that twenty-five is plenty young enough
for a girl to think of marriage. That gives her a chance to see the
world and men, and then make a wise choice.”

“Nancy Fabian—who is she?” asked Mrs. Alexander.

“Nancy is the daughter of Mr. Fabian who taught Polly and me interior
decorating thus far. He is a wonderful teacher, and Nancy, his only
child, has been studying art in Paris. Her mother went over with her to
chaperone her, while there, and now we are going to meet them. Nancy
managed to have several of her watercolors exhibited at the Academy this
year, and one of them took a prize.” Eleanor’s tone conveyed the delight
and pride she felt in Nancy Fabian’s achievement, even though she had
not met her.

“And this teacher is traveling with you?” was Mrs. Alexander’s
rejoinder.

Eleanor felt the condescension in Mrs. Alexander’s tone and resented it.
So she decided to answer with a sharp thrust.

“Yes; Mr. Fabian promised Anne and my mother to take good care of Polly
and me, until he turns us over to his wife and Nancy, who are visiting
Sir James Osgood, of London.”

“Visiting a Sir James!” gasped Mrs. Alexander, sitting bolt upright for
the first time since the interview began.

“Uh-huh! The Fabians and the Osgoods are very close friends, I hear.
Nancy Fabian and Angela Osgood studied in the same class, in Paris; and
Mrs. Fabian chaperoned Angela when her mother, Lady Osgood, had to
return to England for the London Season.” Eleanor had her revenge.

“Mercy! Then these Fabians must _be_ somebody!”

“Why, of course! What made you think they were not?”

“From what you said,” stammered Mrs. Alexander, humbly. “You said he was
a teacher and that he was an intimate friend of the Ashbys who were
painters and upholsterers.”

“Oh no, I didn’t!” retorted Eleanor. “_You_ said that. _I_ said that Mr.
Ashby was an interior decorator who helped Polly and me a lot, and that
Mr. Fabian was our teacher. There is a vast difference between
decorators and paint-slingers, you will learn, some day.”

Eleanor was about to walk away with that parting shot, when a very
attractive girl came from a side-door of the Lounge and looked around.
Catching sight of Mrs. Alexander, she started for her. She was
over-dressed, and her face had been powdered and rouged as much as her
mother’s was; her lips were scarlet as carmine could tinge them, and her
hair was waved and dressed in the latest style for adults. As Mrs.
Alexander had said, her daughter looked fully ten years older than she
really was, because of her make-up.

She glanced casually at Eleanor, without expressing any interest in her,
and turned to her mother. “Oh, Ma! I’ve been looking for you everywhere!
Pa says he _won’t_ come out and sit down, just to watch who goes by.”

Eleanor was severely tailored in her appearance, but her suit
represented the best cut and fit that the most exclusive shop in New
York could provide, and the broad-cloth was of the finest. Dodo, (whose
real name was Dorothy but was cut to Dodo for a pet name) failed to
recognize the lines and material of the gown, but she passed it over
lightly because she saw no gorgeous trimmings to claim value for it.

“Dodo, dearie, do you remember those two girls we read about, out west?
The ones who discovered that gold mine just below Grizzly Slide? Well,
this is Eleanor Maynard from Chicago, who was with her chum Polly, when
they sought refuge in that cave on the mountain-top. Isn’t it lovely for
you to meet her, this way?”

At mention of the gold mine, and the unusual circumstances in connection
with it, Dodo’s expression changed. She smiled politely at Eleanor and
said: “So glad to meet you.”

“And Dodo being my only child, Miss Maynard, she is well worth knowing.
She will inherit the million her father made,” added Mrs. Alexander.

Eleanor smiled cynically. “I’m sorry for you, Dodo. It spoils one’s life
to be reminded of how much one has to live up to, when one is young and
only wants to be carefree and happy.”

“Oh, do you feel that way, too! I thought it was only me who was queer.
Ma says other girls would give their heads to be in my place,” exclaimed
the girl, anxiously.

Eleanor now took a keener look at the speaker. It was evident from her
words that she was not what she was dressed up to represent. “You have a
chance to be yourself, in spite of every one, you know,” said Eleanor.

“Well, I wish to goodness you would show me how! I hate all this
fluffy-ruffle stuff and I wish we could get back to that time when I
could go with my hair twisted at the back of my neck; and a cold water
wash to clean my face, instead of all this cold cream business, and then
the paint and flour afterwards!” declared Dodo, bluntly.

“Oh deary! I beg of you—don’t display your ignorance before strangers
like this!” wailed her mother, fluttering a lace handkerchief before her
eyes. “Eleanor Maynard is one of _the_ Maynards of Chicago.”

“Why not! If Eleanor Maynard is half the girl I think she is—from what
I read, that time they were lost on the Flat Tops and from what she just
said, then she’ll appreciate me the more for my honesty,” asserted the
girl.

“I do, Dodo. I never had much use for make-up, but I know society
condones the use of it all. So I’m glad to find a real girl who dislikes
it as much as Polly and I do.”

“There now, Ma! And I bet these girls will look at your pet hobby much
the same as I do.” Then Dodo turned to Eleanor and added: “Ma’s bound to
palm me off on some little stick of a nobleman in Europe, just to brag
about my name with a handle to it. But _I_ say I don’t want a
husband—especially a foreign one. If I have to marry, let me choose a
westerner! The kind I’m used to.”

Eleanor could have hugged the girl for her frank honesty so different
from what she had looked for from the daughter of the silly woman before
her.

“If only we could persuade Ma to see that this going to Europe does not
mean just buying Paris dresses and parading them to catch a lord, I’ll
be happy,” concluded Dodo.

“Poor child! How she does find fault with her little mother!” sighed
Mrs. Alexander, wiping her eyes in self-pity.

Dodo turned her entire attention to her new acquaintance, at this. “Are
you alone, or is your family with you?”

“Oh, I forgot to tell you, Dodo dear; Miss Maynard is going to study
decorating in Europe; and her friend Polly, and their teacher, is with
her. She just told me that the teacher’s wife and daughter are visiting
a real English peer! Think of it—a teacher’s family stopping with a
live lady of quality!” exclaimed Mrs. Alexander, eagerly.

“I hope they are nice English folks,” commented Dodo.

“Naturally they would be, if they belong to the peerage, Dodo,” returned
her mother, innocent of a “Burke” and the difference between a baronet
and a peer. “But I was thinking, that it would be quite easy for us to
get acquainted with dukes and lords, if a mere teacher got his family
invited to one’s house.”

Dodo’s lip curled sarcastically, and Eleanor learned that the daughter
had nothing in common with these empty fads of her mother. Then Dodo
said: “I hope the teacher’s family know enough to make the lord’s family
appreciate a good old American!”

Eleanor laughed, and said: “If Nancy Fabian and her mother are anything
like Mr. Fabian, you can rest assured that they’ll do full justice to
the United States, and the Stars and Stripes.”

To change the subject from this dangerous ground that created more
resistance for her to fight than she had to meet, recently, from Dodo,
Mrs. Alexander hastily said: “Do you know, Dodo, Miss Maynard told me
that Polly and she took up the study of Interior Decorating, in New
York, in order to better the conditions of painters and upholsterers who
work at that trade. Not to make money.”

Eleanor frowned. “I think you misunderstood me, Mrs. Alexander. I said
we were studying the profession and that it took a great deal of
application and perseverance to reach the high plane which was necessary
for a good decorator to stand on. So few who call themselves interior
decorators really know much about the art. And in order to increase our
education and understanding of the profession, Polly and I are about to
visit the great museums of Europe.”

“Well, it is the same thing, isn’t it?” pouted Mrs. Alexander.

“No, I think your idea of interior decorators is that any ‘paint-slinger
or tack-driver’ is a professional. Whereas I see that _that_ is the very
error necessary to be reversed by us, before the public recognises the
value of genuine decorators. In France and other European countries, an
interior decorator has to have a certificate. And that is what we hope
to do in the United States—put the real ones through a course of
studies and have them examined and a diploma given, before one can claim
title to being a decorator.” Eleanor spoke with emphasis and feeling.

“Well, I don’t know a fig about it, or anything else, for that matter,”
laughed Dodo, cheerfully. “But I can understand how much more
interesting it must be to trot around hunting up worm-eaten furniture,
or examining ruined masonry, or admiring moth-holed fabrics, than to do
as I have to—follow after Ma and sit with my hands idly folded waiting
for some old fossil to pass by and say: ‘I choose her, because she’s got
the most cash.’”

Eleanor laughed outright at the girl’s statement, but Mrs. Alexander
showed her anger by twisting her shoulders and saying: “Dodo Alexander!
If I didn’t know better, I’d believe you were trying to make Eleanor
believe that you detested your opportunity!”

Dodo tossed her head and said: “Time will show!”

At that crisis in the conversation, another girl’s voice was heard
across the deck. “Nolla! Are you there?”

Eleanor turned and called back: “No, I am not here!”

Then all three girls laughed. The newcomer, Polly Brewster, skipped
lightly across the deck, and joined the group she had spied from the
open doorway. Eleanor introduced Mrs. Alexander as an old friend of
Anne’s, and Dodo her daughter, as an independent American who believed
in suffrage and all the rights of American womanhood. At this latter
explanation, Dodo grinned and her mother gasped in amazement at Eleanor.

Then Mrs. Alexander said politely: “How is Anne Stewart? I haven’t seen
her for some time.”

“Anne is married to my brother John, now,” returned Polly. “And they are
going to live home, with mother, while I am away. Anne’s mother is to
live at the old home in Denver, and keep house for Paul.”

“It seems years and years since I lived next door to them,” remarked
Dodo. “I always played with Paul Stewart.”

“Deary, it can’t be years and years, because I am not so old as you try
to make me appear,” corrected Mrs. Alexander.

Polly, understanding from the words, saw how vain the woman was and
stood looking at her in surprise. But Eleanor heard only Dodo’s speech.

“Did you say you always played with Paul Stewart when you were
neighbors?”

“Yes indeed!” laughed Dodo, as she remembered various incidents of that
childhood.

“We always played we were married, and Paul’s Irish Terrier and my
kitten were our children. We dressed them up in old dust-cloths and
tried to make them behave, but no parents ever had such trials with
their children as we had when Terry and Kitty got to scrapping!”

Eleanor was deeply interested and Polly smiled at what she saw expressed
in her friend’s face. Dodo continued her reminiscences.

“Paul used to draw me on his sled when we went to school, and he always
saved a bite of his apple for me at noon-time. I gave him half of my
cake in exchange. Oh, we had such fun—we two, in those days!” the girl
sighed and looked out over the billowy sea.

“Then Pa struck that vein of gold down at Cripple Creek and everything
changed. Ma got the social bug, so bad, we had to leave all our old
friends, and move to a strange neighborhood where Pa never spoke to a
soul and I felt out of place. But Ma said it had to be done to establish
our position.

“The Stewarts rented their house and I heard that Paul went to Chicago
to college, while Anne went to teach a school in New York. Then I never
heard again, of any of them, until Ma met you-all at the Denver railroad
station.” Dodo smiled at that crumb of comfort.

Polly and Eleanor were deeply touched at the girl’s tale, for they knew
how lonely she must have been away from her old associations, in an
atmosphere where she was not at home. And such a frivolous mother who
could not understand the true blue of such an honest character as
Dodo’s!

“Ma sent me to a swell seminary near our new house, but the girls
snubbed me, and I never had a pal all the time I was there. When Ma
ordered me to come to Europe with her to stock up with fine dresses and
then try to make a match for me with some man with a title, I came, but
goodness knows! I just hate the idea.”

“Oh, Dodo! You’ll break my heart, if you talk like that!” cried Mrs.
Alexander, trying to impress the two other girls with her maternal
sorrow.

“Nolla! I almost forgot what I came for,” laughed Polly, to change the
subject. “Prof. says for you to come to the salon where they have used
Adams period and Louis XIV furniture in the same room. He wants to show
us a bad example of decoration.”

“May I come with you?” asked Dodo, eagerly.

“Of course! Come right along,” agreed Eleanor, thrusting her hand
through the new friend’s arm and starting away with her.

The moment they were out of hearing, Eleanor said impressively to Dodo:
“Don’t you ever give in to that idea of marrying a foreigner! Your
mother will soon get over it if you just keep on making her see it’s no
use. If you pretend to take up some study like we are doing, she will
see you mean business.”

“That’s good advice, and I sure will follow it,” declared the eager
girl.

“And Nolla and I will help along all we can,” promised Polly.

“Even if you have to make your mother believe you are in love with Paul
Stewart and won’t marry anyone else—then do it!” declared Eleanor, in
tones of brave self-sacrifice and renunciation.

“Oh, but I’m not! Paul is a dandy boy and we had good times when we were
small, but I’ve seen other boys I like a heap better’n him, now! But I
really don’t want to marry anyone, yet!”

“I shouldn’t think you would!” breathed Eleanor, in great relief. “So
Polly and I will agree to help you out of all the plots your mother
plans for you. Won’t we, Polly?”

“We sure will!” agreed Polly. And that is how Dodo came to travel about
Europe with Polly and Eleanor. And why the two old friends felt it a
duty to protect and save Dodo from the wily plans of her mother who
wished to own a title in the Ebeneezer Alexander family.



CHAPTER II—DODO MEETS POLLY’S FRIENDS


Dorothy Alexander was a good type of the healthy western girl. She was
tall, well-built, and the picture of splendid health. Her hair was of a
ruddy hue, with copper glints in it. Her complexion was like “peaches
and cream,” and needed no cosmetic to enhance its charm. Her form was
lithe and supple, and her features were good. Her bright eyes sparkled
with good-humor, and her smile was contagious in its sweetness. When she
was well-dressed, she would be a beauty, thought Eleanor, but her
present overdressing depreciated her genuine good looks.

“Prof., we bring you a new convert,” laughed Eleanor, as the three girls
approached Mr. Fabian.

“Dorothy Alexander, Mr. Fabian,” added Polly.

The two acknowledged the introduction and the girl thought: “What a fine
face he has! Such wonderful expression and forehead.”

And Mr. Fabian thought: “There’s a great deal under all that sham.”

Shortly after the introduction, Mr. Fabian spoke of the flaunting
mistakes some so-called decorator had made in the selection and
furnishings of the salon. So they turned their attention to that
interesting subject. Dodo stood by and listened to it all, as she
wondered what these two good-looking girls could find to interest them
in such a dry subject? But she confessed that both girls seemed more
beautiful and attractive, when they were thoroughly interested and
animated with the ideas they were exchanging with Mr. Fabian.

As they left the room, Mr. Fabian turned his attention to Dodo,
particularly. And soon she was telling him freely, all about her life in
Denver, and how hard her father had worked and suffered at Cripple
Creek, to amass the fortune they now enjoyed. When Dodo described her
father’s character and how simple and blunt he was in everything, her
hearers fell in love with the unknown. She told how generous he was to
every one, and how no one was left in need if he could help it.

“But he has one awful sin that Ma can’t forgive him,” added Dodo,
glancing covertly around to make sure no one could hear.

Mr. Fabian shivered at what she was about to say, and he wished Dodo was
not _quite_ so frank as to reveal family skeletons. But she was launched
and nothing could check her.

“Pa has a pet old pipe that’s as black as ink. He just won’t smoke any
of the imported cigars Ma buys for him, and he won’t let her throw the
old pipe away. He gets away by himself and smokes it until he feels
happy—no matter what Ma says or does.”

All three of her audience bent double in merriment at what they just
heard. Mr. Fabian was so relieved at the “sin” he feared to hear about,
that he laughed louder than the two girls.

“S-sh!” warned Dodo, hurriedly. “Here comes Pa, now!”

Instantly they hushed and turned to watch the “grand being” they had
just heard about. The shock of beholding the actual man who was the
opposite of what Dodo had pictured him caused them to mumble confusedly
when Mr. Alexander was introduced.

He was a little wiry man of about fifty years. The top of his head was
bald, with a fringe of grey all about the crown. Right in front, on top,
grew a stiff lock of stubborn hair that generally stood upright. This
gave him the funny appearance that is often portrayed in the comic
section of the Sunday papers. His hands were knotted with hard work, and
his legs were bowed just enough to make him walk awkwardly. His eyes
were small and merry, and his ears large and fan-like. But his mouth was
the feature that attracted instant attention and held it wonderingly. It
was a wide, good-natured mouth, and when he smiled he literally
demonstrated that saying: “His head opened from ear to ear.” He wore a
huge ulster of checks and a tourist cap with ear-tabs tied on top.

“Hello, Dodo! Who’s your friends?” called he cheerily, as he came up to
them.

He was introduced, and Dodo followed up the introduction by saying: “I
was just talking about you—telling my friends what a fine man you are.”

Mr. Alexander smiled happily. “It ain’t every man what has a gal that
says that, eh?”

“You’re right there, Mr. Alexander,” agreed Mr. Fabian, glad to speak
and express something worthy of himself.

“And Dodo is sure one fine gal, too. I wonder why she ain’t sp’iled like
other gals I see.”

“Perhaps her father’s example is before her,” ventured Eleanor. And
forever after that, Dodo swore allegiance to Eleanor.

“I’m right glad you-all met Dodo, ’cause I was fearin’ the missus might
get her to give in to them foolish notions about gettin’ a furriner. Did
you tell ’em, Dodo?” said her father.

“Yes, Pa, and the girls are going to help me cure Ma of that fad.”

“That’s the best news, yet! I hope you kin do it!” said he, slapping his
knee. “You must be real gals, too, like mine, here.”

Polly laughed, and Eleanor said: “We like to ride and hike, and have
good times, but we’re not out hunting for husbands. If we ever reach
that place where we want to marry, we’ll take a man we know by heart,
and not one who is buying a doll made up at a hair-dresser and
beauty-doctor’s.”

“You’re the right sort, all right!” chuckled the little man,
transferring the slap from his knee to Eleanor’s back.

Eleanor gasped for breath but she considered the sharp commendation a
compliment that any _man_ might be glad to get. Mr. Fabian had to smile
at Eleanor’s sudden gasp and instant recovery, but Polly laughed
outright, for she was accustomed to such pleasantries from the ranchers
at home.

“Poor Pa. He’s so glad to meet some sensible folks, that he doesn’t stop
to think how hard his hand is, with all the mining and picking at gold
ore, out west,” added Dodo, smiling sympathetically at Eleanor, and then
at her father.

“Right again! This traipsing to U-rope fer a title, isn’t my kind of
work. But I jus’ couldn’t let Ma run off with Dodo and all my cash, when
I knew Dodo diden’ want to. So I says, ‘Onless you lug me along wherever
you go, my cash stays behind in America.’ You-all know, ‘cash makes the
mare go,’ so I was included in the trip.”

The little man chuckled and caused the others to laugh at his amusing
expression. Then he leaned forward and said confidentially: “But I’ll
confess, all this tight-fittin’ clothes, and a boiled shirt with stiff
collars and cuffs ain’t to my likin’! I have to pinch my feet into shiny
tight shoes, and use a tie that has to be knotted every day, ’stead of a
ready-made one that I can hook on to my collar-button.”

At that admission, the girls laughed merrily and Mr. Fabian simply
roared, for he understood collar-buttons and the agony Mr. Alexander
must endure.

The little man felt that he was making fine headway in his
conversational powers, so he continued to practice the art.

“But say! let me tell you-all—when Ma carted me to Noo York and made me
take dancing lessons to get graceful, I tried it twicet—then I balked!
‘No more of them monkey-shines for an old miner,’ says I. And I never
did it again, did I, Dodo?”

Dodo laughed and shook her head, and the others renewed their mirth. Mr.
Alexander was now encouraged to proceed.

“Ma went to a Madam Something-er-other fer to learn how to act in polite
society and how to not do the wrong things at the right time, and vice
versy, but she coulden get _me_ to go there! I spent that time at the
Movies or ridin’ on the Fifth Avenoo bus, and laughin’ at folks—the way
they rushed around like ants.

“But here I am, mixin’ in as good comp’ny as I want, and it ain’t
costin’ me a cent to sit in a little room and listen to a fat old woman
who charges a dollar a throw.” As he concluded his speech, a group of
people standing directly back of Mr. Fabian and the girls, joined the
circle.

Mr. Alexander instantly froze up and felt uncomfortable lest they had
heard him speak. Then Mr. Fabian eased his mind by saying: “Now you can
meet the Ashbys, Mr. Alexander. Miss Dodo, this is Mrs. Ashby, and Ruth,
and Mr. Ashby. And this is a new friend, Mr. Ashby, but an old
acquaintance of Polly and Eleanor’s from Denver—Mr. Alexander and Miss
Dodo.”

The introductions over, Mr. Ashby quickly smoothed the way for the
nervous little man from the west; but Dodo wondered why her mother had
the impression that these people were inferior because they were in
business in New York. She had never met any one more refined, or who
showed truer gentility than these people.

After an exchange of words, Mr. Alexander whispered to his daughter:
“Dodo, do you think we’d better go out to Ma? She might get huffy, you
know, when she finds out we’ve been meetin’ all the nice people and
leavin’ her in the cold.”

“We’ll all go out, Mr. Alexander,” suggested Eleanor, seeing how much
better it would be for the two culprits if Mrs. Alexander had to
entertain a number of new-comers instead of her own people.

They started to go on deck, but Mr. Alexander hastily surveyed himself
in a mirror as he passed. Then he pulled at Mr. Fabian’s sleeve.

“I reckon I’d better take off the ulster before the Missus sees me in
it. She can’t bear it, ’cause she thinks it looks like a workin’-man’s
coat.”

So saying, the wrap was slipped off and Mr. Alexander straightened the
cap on his shiny head. He brushed a speck from his pale grey spats, and
tugged at his tie to have it correctly placed. Then he hurried after the
others. In that time, Mr. Fabian saw how hen-pecked the poor little man
must be, and he resolved to stand by him in his troubles. Thus Dodo won
two allies, and her father unconsciously acquired a splendid friend for
times of need.

“Have you ever been abroad before?” asked Mr. Ashby, as Mr. Alexander
caught up with him.

“Not on your life! The States is good enough for me, but Dodo had to be
saved, you see, and I come along.”

Mr. Ashby knew nothing of Mrs. Alexander’s hopes and aspirations, and he
was in the dark about the little man’s words.

“You have a great treat awaiting you, if you have never visited the
famous old cities of Europe, before,” added Mr. Ashby.

“Most folks go over for other things than to see the fine towns,”
remarked Mr. Alexander.

“I hear the women-folk mostly go to get clothes in Paris.”

Everyone laughed; then the group crossed the deck to the steamer-chair
occupied by Mrs. Alexander. Dodo introduced her mother to the strangers;
she smiled loftily at the Ashbys, but was very effusive over Mr. Fabian.
So much so, that he wondered at it.

But in a few moments she unconsciously showed her reason for it. “I hear
you are going to visit at an English Peer’s, in London, Mr. Fabian.”

“My wife and daughter are visiting at Sir James Osgood’s, I believe, but
my visit there all depends on whether the Ashbys and my girls are
included in the invitation. If they are not, of course I will have to
decline, also.”

“Oh, you wouldn’t miss such a chance, would you?” cried the surprised
woman.

“I’m missing nothing that I know of,” replied Mr. Fabian; then Polly
came to his rescue and changed the conversation.

In the next few days, Mr. Alexander and Dodo became great favorites with
the Ashbys and Mr. Fabian, while Polly and Eleanor declared that the
girl was splendid! She had dropped all pretence and make-up, and had
donned the simplest gowns she had in the trunk, much to her mother’s
disapproval, and to the girls’ smiling approval.

In constant association with the quiet Polly, the well-bred Ruth Ashby,
and the thoroughbred Eleanor, Dodo soon acquired better form in every
way. She was quick and bright enough to recognise her shortcomings and
eager to improve herself.

The last morning of the trip, after the English shore had been sighted,
Mrs. Alexander suddenly changed her plans about going to Havre, and
decided to land in England when the others did. This change of plan she
confided to no one at the time. But she awaited a chance.

“Have you really decided to leave us, Mr. Fabian?” said she coyly, when
she met that gentleman in the morning at breakfast.

“Yes, we take the lighter that comes off shore at Dover, and takes on
those who wish to land.”

“Dodo tells me that you got a wireless that your wife and daughter would
meet you at the wharf, in Dover,” continued Mrs. Alexander.

“Yes, and the invitation from Sir James, includes my party, I hear, so
it is all right. We are all going there for an informal dinner-party and
to spend the night. Then we will hire an auto and continue on our trip
in the morning,” explained Mr. Fabian.

“Dear, dear! I am so upset,” sighed the amateur actress. “I find _my_
car—it was shipped over before we left Noo York—was left in London
instead of going on to France. So we have to get off when you do, and go
to London just to get our car.”

“Oh, really! I didn’t know you had sent a car across,” said Mr. Fabian.

“Dear yes! You might as well, when you have one, you know. But I expect
to buy myself a new French car whiles I am in Paris. Just for myself,
and a friend or two, to use, you know; and that lets Pa drive his own
touring car, ’cause he is crazy about motoring.”

Mr. Alexander had not mentioned a car, nor had Dodo said anything about
the trouble in the delivery of a car to the wrong port, so Mr. Fabian
mistrusted the truth of the statement made by Mrs. Alexander; but he
forbore saying anything about the matter to any of his companions.

Evidently the lady’s husband and daughter had just previously been
warned about the car, also, for they looked troubled and made no comment
when Mrs. Alexander surprised everyone by saying: “We find we have to
land at Dover, also, as our car went astray during shipment and we have
to see about it in London.”

“Oh, how nice! Then Dodo can remain with us a bit longer,” said Ruth,
guilelessly.

“And her mother, of course,” said Mrs. Alexander pointedly, lifting her
shoulders as well as her eye-brows.

“And her old man, too,” chuckled Mr. Alexander, causing everyone who
heard him to laugh.

His spouse sent him a most disquieting look, however, and he subsided in
his chair. But Eleanor, who sat beside him at the table, nudged him
encouragingly when Mrs. Alexander was not looking.

So, when the lighter touched at the Dover dock, the entire party got
off, and soon Mr. Fabian was encircled by four arms, while two heads
were pressed close to his face. A younger woman stood a bit aside,
smiling sympathetically at the reunion.

Then she was introduced to the Americans as Angela Osgood, Nancy
Fabian’s friend. And in turn, Mr. Fabian introduced his two protegées,
Polly and Eleanor, and the Ashbys, and the Alexanders.

When Mrs. Alexander really found herself face to face with the daughter
of an English Baronet, she was speechless with joy. Now she could write
home and tell everyone she ever knew about meeting Sir James Osgood’s
daughter!

But Angela never dreamed of the disturbance she had caused in the breast
of this unusual-looking woman.

“Now, how shall we dispose of all the passengers, Nancy?” laughed
Angela, counting the heads of the party she expected to drive to the
town house for dinner.

“The car only holds seven, you see,” explained she, turning to the
Ashbys. “I counted on Nancy’s father and two girls driving with me, and
the three Ashbys taking the seat in the road-car where the luggage will
be placed. The groom drives that. Or we can rearrange it any way you
say.”

Mrs. Alexander instantly pushed herself forward and said: “Oh, how very
kind of you to include us in your party! I really can’t accept a seat in
the car if anyone else must be crowded.”

Dodo looked like a thunder-cloud and pulled at her mother’s arm, but Mr.
Alexander spoke out bluntly.

“I ain’t invited to nobody’s house, so I’m going on to London to get
that car you told me about. Dodo can come with me.”

His spouse instantly silenced him with a glowering look, and Angela
hoped to smooth matters out by what she now said.

“Mother and father will be delighted to have all of you come, and I’m
sure they will feel _dreadfully_, if anyone is left out. We never stand
on ceremony, you know, and this is an occasion where you all must come
without formality.”

“We’re delighted, I assure you, Miss Osgood, and I will accept for my
family and myself. The only question now, is, how shall we manage about
the cars. If only my seven-passenger car was here instead of in London!”
exclaimed Mrs. Alexander, eagerly.

“Why, the ladies will use this car, of course,” said Mr. Fabian, “while
we men go in the baggage-car. You may be uncomfortably crowded, but I
see no other way.”

So Mrs. Fabian, Mrs. Ashby and Mrs. Alexander sat in the back seat while
Polly, Eleanor, Ruth and Dodo had to crowd upon the folding seats in the
middle of the car. Nancy sat in front and Angela drove the car. The
groom with the baggage and the three men followed directly after in his
car.

Mrs. Alexander certainly was a general when she wanted to win a battle
of wits, but it was a pity she had no better ambitions than the mere
forcing a way into society and marrying her daughter to a title.

As they started for London, she leaned back in the seat and said: “If
only the company hadn’t mistaken the directions about my car. It is such
a great roomy affair, that everyone could have traveled in it with the
utmost comfort.”

“But it wouldn’t have been here at all, for us to travel in, if they had
sent it as you directed—to Havre, instead of London,” said Mrs. Ashby.

“Oh true! But I meant—if it had been left over at Dover instead of
going on to London,” quickly corrected the lady.

The conversation drifted to other topics but was switched back again
when Mrs. Alexander remarked: “I was just thinking how nice it would be
for the Fabians and Ashbys to tour Great Britain first instead of
Europe; then they could use my big car whiles Dodo and I go in my new
runabout that I expect to buy immediately.”

“Why, Ma! you know you’re talking—” began Dodo, from the seat in front
of her mother, but Mrs. Alexander interrupted instantly.

“Oh yes, deary, I know what you would say! That I must try a new car,
first, and get acquainted with it. But I can select a make similar to
our big one, can’t I? and that is quite familiar to me.”

“Oh yes, if you want to duplicate our old car, you can do it. But you
said you wanted an up-to-date car with all the latest equipment, this
time, and such a car won’t seem familiar to you, be——”

“Never mind, Dodo! Our friends are not interested in our old cars, or
what we have done with them,” cut in Mrs. Alexander.

So Dodo subsided for the time, while her mother continued: “So there
will be ample room for you to tour in my large car, ladies, while Dodo
and I use the roadster and follow you.”

“We cannot say, one way or another, Mrs. Alexander, because nothing has
been said about a change in the itinerary. It all depends upon Mr.
Fabian and Mr. Ashby,” replied Mrs. Ashby, politely.

But Mrs. Alexander was satisfied with the progress she had made by
mentioning the tour, and so she left the rest to time.

After a long drive through the highly cultivated countryside that spread
out between Dover and London, Angela drove up in front of an imposing
mansion on one of the avenues of England’s great city. As a uniformed
man came down the wide marble steps to take orders from Angela, Mrs.
Alexander sat breathless with pleasure at the success of her
maneuvering.

The baggage-car came up shortly after the ladies had alighted from the
first automobile, and the servants carried the bags indoors, then waited
to be directed to the proper rooms.

Sir James and his wife welcomed the party of Americans, but Mrs.
Alexander felt disappointed when she saw a plain little lady dressed in
grey taffeta, and found Sir James to be a short fat man with a genial
expression, but a horsy manner. The others seemed quite at home with
these English people and all were soon exchanging opinions about the
recent problems in politics.

Not a word or look from either Sir James, or his lady, led anyone to
think that three extra visitors were thrust upon the hospitable family,
nor did any hint escape them that the unexpected guests were other than
socially their equals. Mrs. Alexander was looking for some sign of this
superiority in them because of the title, and felt most uneasy because
she detected none of it; but finding she and her family were accepted on
the same standard as the Fabians and Ashbys, she recovered her wonted
habit of pushing a way to the foreground in everything.

As the group separated to go to their separate suites, Sir James
reminded them: “Quite informal dinner, you know. We are only tarrying in
town a few days, before going on to Osgood Hall, so we make no pretence
at dressing formally.”

The Ashbys and Fabians knew this to be a courtesy extended them because
of their lack of baggage, but Mrs. Alexander thought Sir James meant
that their own trunks had gone to the country and so they were not able
to dress in dinner clothes. But she determined to show how _she_ could
dress, with her money.

Before Dorothy could lock the door of her room, her mother entered and
handed her the dress she was to wear for dinner.

“Why, Ma! we were told _not_ to dress!” exclaimed she.

“That’s only bluff. You put this on and show folks that we know what’s
what, even if we haven’t a title!” declared her mother.

Reluctantly Dodo took the beaded georgette evening dress and then closed
the door after her mother’s commanding figure. As she went to the
toilet-table she thought: “I wonder what poor Pa will have to wear
tonight!” But she was to learn about that sooner than she thought for.



CHAPTER III—THE TOUR IS PLANNED


“Ma, why did you speak of your car bein’ in London? You know durn well
it ain’t!” exclaimed Mr. Alexander, as he soaped his head and gurgled in
the water, then he ducked it up and down in the basin.

“That’s my business! If I plan it that way to get acquainted with a lot
of fine folks, why should you care?”

“_I_ don’t care, but I diden’ know you thought these folks so fine. I
heard you say they was only decorators,” argued her spouse.

“Ebeneezer, there are times when I could just choke you—you are so
thick!” exclaimed Mrs. Alexander, impatiently.

“Mebbe I’m thick, Ma, but I can’t see how you can drive a party across
England when your old car is on second-hand sale out in Denver!”

“That proves you’re thick—if you can’t see how! I am going straight to
a shop, in London, tomorrow, where I can _buy_ a car exactly the same as
mine—only it will be up-to-date with self-starter and all. Then you can
drive it back here and we will show the folks a seven-passenger car that
we owned long ago.”

As Mr. Alexander swabbed his dripping face and hair on a damask towel,
he shook his head dubiously. “Well, these days, a hull lot of stuff
goes, but I always said such a game as you’re playin’ was fibbin’ and
that’s callin’ it by a polite name, too.”

Mrs. Alexander humped her shoulders angrily and said: “You are the most
aggravating man! I s’pose you’ll tell everyone we know, all about my
plan to get a car in a hurry.”

“Oh no, I won’t tell no one, ’cause I don’t want folks to believe you
ain’t as honest as you pretend to be,” said he meekly.

After that he wondered what he had said to anger his wife so that she
would not speak to him; and when he asked her to help him with his
collar-button, she ignored him entirely. Later, when he had trouble with
his neck-tie and dared not ask assistance of his mate, he was amazed
that she caught hold of the two ends and began to tie it.

But she had a subtle reason for helping him. As she tied and untied it,
she dinned into his ears all the rules and reminders he had heard often
before—about his behavior at the table. At last, desperate with the
nagging, he snatched the tie-ends from her hand and rushed from the
room.

“Ebeneezer! Ebeneezer—I say! come back here!” called she.

But the little man fled down the stairs and dodged into the first room
he found. It happened to be the library where Mr. Fabian was conversing
with Sir James. Both men arose at the perturbed appearance of Mr.
Alexander, as he ran breathlessly into the room.

“Why—what has happened?” asked Sir James, fearfully.

“Nothin’ much. My wife made me so nervous a-fussin’ over my manners and
this tie, that I just had to run!” explained he.

“Allow me to help you, Mr. Alexander,” said Sir James, and his voice was
so kindly and gentle, that Mr. Alexander decided that for true democracy
you had to meet an English baronet.

As Sir James was adding the last touch to the tie, Mrs. Alexander swept
into the room in search of her escaped husband. When she beheld him
facing the host, who was adjusting the tie, she was speechless.

Mrs. Alexander caught the reflection of herself in a long mirror
opposite where she stood, and immediately forgot, in admiring herself,
her concern over her husband’s shortcomings. She waved her feather fan
to and fro slowly and seemed absorbed in the vision seen in the glass.

Mr. Fabian smiled to himself, and Sir James engaged Mr. Alexander in
conversation to make him feel more at ease. Then Dodo peeped around the
corner of the portière, and saw her mother very much preoccupied, so she
beckoned to Mr. Fabian without being seen by the others. He quietly
moved over to the doorway.

“Just look at me, Mr. Fabian! Ma made me dress up like a monkey, just to
show folks that she knew what’s what!”

Mr. Fabian felt sorry for Dodo, for he knew she wished to appear
rational to the others at the dinner-party. So he hinted: “It is still
very early for the others to appear. You’d have time to change your
mind, Dodo.”

They both laughed at that, and the girl replied: “I will! I’ll run up
and change my dress, at the same time.”

“Perhaps you’ll feel better in a simple little silk,” suggested he.

Dodo nodded understandingly and disappeared. Just as Mr. Fabian turned
to walk back to the fireplace, Mrs. Alexander finished the contemplation
of her satisfying appearance—satisfying to herself.

Sir James immediately came over and took such a deep interest in his
guest that she had no opportunity, thereafter, to harass her poor little
husband. The others came in, one by one, and finally, Dodo reappeared in
a modest pale-blue taffeta silk.

Mrs. Alexander gasped at what she considered rank insubordination, but
Lady Osgood managed to engage so much of her attention that Dodo escaped
further persecution that night.

Just as the butler threw open the doors of the dining-room to announce
dinner, Mrs. Alexander noticed her husband’s lack of gems which she had
insisted upon his wearing that night.

“Ebeneezer! What did you do with those shirt-studs and the scarf-pin you
were told to wear tonight? They are diamonds of the purest quality, and
that stud weighs, at _least_, four carats!”

Even the butler looked shocked at the guest’s lack of tact, and everyone
wondered what little Mr. Alexander would say. It was a tense moment for
all.

“Well, this time I speak out even if I lose my head for it!” retorted
the badgered man, in a voice that plainly signified he expected to be
tortured forever afterwards. “I saw that Mr. Fabian and Sir James diden’
have no jooels of any kind shinin’ around ’em, and I am as good as them,
any day. Why should I look like pawn-shop, when I don’t feel that way!”

It was hard work for the grown-ups to keep a straight face, but Dodo set
the younger members the example of laughing outright. In a moment, the
young folks were all enjoying the blunt repartee.

“Oh, Pa!” sighed Dodo, finally. “What would our life be without you to
entertain us!”

“Miss Dodo is right, there, Mr. Alexander. You certainly are a valuable
member to any party on a pleasure trip,” added Mr. Ashby. And Mrs.
Alexander smirked and nodded her head approvingly, so that everyone
breathed easier, knowing a catastrophe had been averted for the little
man.

Sir James now turned the conversation into a different channel. As they
enjoyed the excellent dinner, he told about the new car he had presented
to his son Jimmy, on his twenty-first birthday, two weeks previous.

“Oh, have you a grown-up son?” asked Mrs. Alexander, eagerly.

“Yes indeed! And a very fine young man we think him, too,” returned Lady
Osgood.

“He is not at home, is he?” asked Mrs. Alexander.

“He is dining with his latest love, this evening,” laughed Angela. “He
has a new one every other week, but this one has lasted since Nancy
refused him some time ago.”

“Refused him! Nancy Fabian refused Sir James’s son,” gasped the
unbelieving hunter for a title.

The girls laughed, and Nancy shrugged her shoulders nonchalantly. Mrs.
Alexander stared from her to each one about the table, as if the truth
of the statement would not sink into her mind.

Again Sir James entered the breach and bridged over the yawning chasm in
the conversation. “I gave Jimmy the car—which is a fine seven-passenger
affair—with the understanding that he was to take Angela and the
Fabians on a summer tour through England, but he spoiled all that by
falling madly in love with Nancy and then being refused. Of course, he
had no desire after that, to join any party. We are giving him ample
opportunity, now, to recover from his broken heart. Then he and his car
will be ours, again.”

Jimmy’s family did not express much concern over his damaged heart, and
the guests considered that pity or sympathy for him would be useless.
However, Mrs. Alexander began to feel an intense interest in the absent
heir and, as usual, she suggested a plan which others would have weighed
carefully before mentioning.

“If your son has a seven-passenger car and I have mine, wouldn’t it be
just _too_ lovely for anything, if we took all this party on the tour of
England. He can drive his motor, and Pa can drive mine.”

Her very audacity caused sudden silence with everyone, although the
younger members of the party felt that the plan would be perfectly
wonderful if it could be carried out. Sir James finally answered.

“If Jimmy could be induced to join such a party, it certainly would be
fine for all. But Lady Osgood and myself have to go down to our country
house, in a few days, as there are so many things an owner of a large
estate has to take charge of, in summer.”

“Perhaps Miss Angela will join us, and we can divide the party
accordingly,” persisted Mrs. Alexander, eagerly.

“Oh yes, I’d love to be one of the touring party,” said Angela. “But
what do the others say about this idea?”

“If we could make the trip and get me back to London in two weeks’ time,
so I can keep the appointments with several men I agreed to see, I’d
like it immensely,” said Mr. Ashby.

“As for us—we planned to tour England, anyway, and traveling with a
party of friends will make it all the pleasanter,” added Mr. Fabian.

“Oh, how grand! Then it is all settled, isn’t it?” cried Mrs. Alexander,
clasping her be-ringed hands estatically.

“That depends on Jimmy,” remarked Angela.

“Jimmy will agree to do anything, the moment he meets this new bevy of
pretty girls,” laughed Sir James.

“You don’t seem to worry much over his susceptible heart,” ventured Mr.
Fabian.

“No, because ‘there is safety in numbers,’ you know,” said Lady Osgood.
“And Jimmy falls out of love quite as safely as he falls in.”

Mrs. Alexander listened intently whenever anyone spoke of the heir, and
she made up her mind that that son must fall in love with Dodo if she
had to take him by the neck and shake him into it. And once he was in
love, she would see that Dodo accepted him and gave him no excuse to
fall out again.

“What do you think of this touring plan, Angie?” asked Nancy Fabian of
her friend Angela.

“Why I like it, Nan; don’t you think it will be heaps of fun? Much nicer
than doing as we first planned, you know. With a large party of young
folks there is always more sport.”

“Yes, I agree with you.” Then Nancy turned to her father: “Have we
arranged about the expenses of the trip? Of course the guests will want
to entertain the owners of the two cars.”

“Oh decidedly!” agreed Mr. Fabian.

“Indeed not!” objected Mrs. Alexander. “What do you think of me, with
all my money, letting others pay any of the bills?”

This shocked her hearers and she actually realized that she had
committed a social error that time. So she hoped for some opening by
which she could mend matters. Sir James gave it to her.

“It would seem better, if financial arrangements were left to the men,
to settle. Ladies are seldom experienced enough to assume such
responsibilities. So, if all agree, the cost and payment of bills will
be attended to by the four gentlemen.”

That smoothed matters out agreeably for the time being, and the subject
of the itinerary was taken up and discussed. Dinner passed with no other
breach of etiquette by the Alexanders, and they all went to the
drawing-room to complete the plans for the trip.

Dodo and her father were unusually quiet that evening, but Mrs.
Alexander seemed the more pleased at it. In fact, she did so much
talking about the car and how they all loved to drive it, that Dodo
finally silenced her with a strange remark.

“Ma, suppose you wait until you find whether your car can be driven this
summer. It may have disappeared from the garage in London, where you
_say_ it is waiting.”

Mrs. Alexander then remembered a very grave situation. “Did anyone
remember that there would be thirteen in this party? Someone must drop
out, or we’ll have to add an extra passenger.”

The others laughed, believing she was joking, and Sir James said: “Oh,
that sort of superstition never worries one, these days.”

“Do you mean to say, you wouldn’t hesitate to do anything when there
were thirteen in it?” wondered Mrs. Alexander.

“Of course not! Thirteen really ought to be a lucky number because it is
made up of one and three—both very lucky numerals,” returned Sir James.
“It is only the fear of a thing that gives it any power. And the sooner
you overcome the fear of thirteen being unlucky, it turns out to be
favorable for you.”

As long as a wise man like Sir James said so, Mrs. Alexander thought it
must be so, and nothing more was said about the thirteen in the party.

Jimmy had not come in that night when the guests said good-night to
their host and hostess and retired. But what Sir James and his wife said
to him when he did let himself in in the ‘wee sma hours’ about the bevy
of very wealthy girls who were waiting for him to choose a wife from,
had due effect on the young man.

“And remember, Jimmy,” added his sister Angela. “These four girls have
money by the bag! Nancy Fabian is a dandy girl, but she hasn’t a cent to
bless her husband with.”

In the morning, when Mr. and Mrs. Alexander appeared in street costumes
ready to go to the garage where they believed their automobile would be
awaiting them, Jimmy said he would go with them.

“Oh dear no! I couldn’t think of such a thing,” declared Mrs. Alexander,
anxiously, “Why, I am not even taking Dodo. But leaving her here for you
to entertain.”

Jimmy grinned and thought to himself: “If Dodo is anything like her
parents she’ll entertain _me_, not _me her_.” But he said aloud: “I
really feel that your husband and I ought to get the car out, Mrs.
Alexander, and spare you that trouble.”

“No trouble whatever, my dear boy, as I propose looking at a new
roadster for myself, at the same time,” said the lady.

To escape further explanations, she managed to get her husband out of
the house before the others came down to the morning meal.

As one girl after another appeared and was introduced to Jimmy, he
thought: “Angie was right! here is as delightful a bouquet of lovely
buds as I ever saw.”

And Nancy Fabian saw, to her satisfaction, that he had quite forgotten
his broken heart that was caused by her refusal. Angela was nineteen in
years, but older in experience than Jimmy who was twenty-one. She
generally advised her brother in family problems that he would have
shirked, had it not been for his sister.

With all the display of wealth and the semblance of riches that had to
be carried on by Sir James in order to maintain his new position, the
Osgood estate was in sore need of help. The loss of much money invested
in war speculations and the heavy taxes imposed since the war, had
impoverished his estate. But the Osgoods bravely kept up appearances
while their feet were marking time on a tread-mill that Jimmy could, and
would have to, work for them by marrying money.

So it was with a sense of tremendous relief that both Sir James and his
wife saw such pretty American girls descend upon them, that day, and the
fact that each girl had a fortune coming to her, was no obstacle in the
way of their welcome of them.

Because of this fact, and also because Mrs. Alexander plainly showed her
hand to the Englishman, he overcame many scruples to herself and
seconded her plan of the touring party. To Angela, he confided the hope
that she would return home with Jimmy securely engaged to one of the
rich girls—for Jimmy had to obey his family in this matter.

The first girl Jimmy met that morning was Polly, who was always an early
riser. She came downstairs in a slow dignified way, and Angela
introduced her to Jimmy, who was standing in the library. He thought he
had never seen such wonderful eyes, and such a mass of bronze-glinting
hair. He attended her to the breakfast room and watched every motion and
manner of her perfectly poised form.

Before he could quite lose himself in her charm, however, Eleanor
bounced into the room. Here was a bright merry girl, full of mischief,
and dearly delighting to flirt and tease anyone who would give her the
opportunity.

Eleanor was attractive and pretty in a different way from Polly. And now
Jimmy found it hard to choose which of the two girls he preferred. Then
before he could decide, Dodo came in.

Dodo was domineering in her grand beauty. She was so frank and sincere,
too, that everyone liked her, but Jimmy felt afraid of her. The fact
that she was the richest one of the girls, also caused him to fear to
try his luck with her.

While he was considering all these facts, sweet pretty Ruth came in.
Here was a type Jimmy fully understood. She was pensive and alluring,
and her round baby-blue eyes appealed to his gallant heart. Her wavy
chestnut hair and her dainty figure would look well when she received
with Lady Osgood, thought he. And Ruth also had a fortune awaiting her
because she was an only child. So he finally chose Ruth for his
bride-to-be. And straightway he turned all his attention to her.

The young folks thoroughly enjoyed that morning while growing better
acquainted with each other; and by noon, when the purr of an engine came
to them from the driveway, they rushed to the front windows and crowded
their pretty heads together, in order to see who was stopping at the
house in this unusual season for London.

“My goodness! if it isn’t Ma in a splendiferous car!” exclaimed Dodo,
laughing uncertainly at the sight.

Little Mr. Alexander sat behind the wheel, perfectly happy, there, with
a black pipe between his lips. He was smoking like a factory chimney and
his wife was not saying a word in protest. She sat beside him, trying to
impress upon his mind some new rule or remembrance of etiquette that he
had ignored.

“Now don’t forget, Eben,” she was heard to say. “We had it all done over
for this very tour!”

And her husband grinned self-complacently as he looked at her, but he
never admitted that she had any further authority to command him. He
actually seemed to have gained some power over his wife that she dared
not question.

The groom ran down the stone steps of the house and held open the door
of the automobile while the lady got out, then Mr. Alexander locked the
engine and followed her.

“No use talking, Ma is a wizard when she makes up her mind to do a
thing,” said Dodo to her companions. “There’s a car, and there’s Pa
driving it, so that shows it is just like our old one, or he couldn’t
handle it so cleverly.”

The excitement caused by the appearance of the car that was to carry
half of the party on the proposed tour, was the only thing that saved
the Alexanders from discovery of the little plot. But Angela had taken
notice of Dodo’s surprise and unconscious admission, and she soon
ferreted out the fact that the Alexanders purchased the handsome large
touring car that very morning. That it was up-to-date and of a sporty
appearance, went without saying, for Mrs. Alexander would see to that,
all right. And the fact that a fabulous price was paid for the new car
solved the discovery made by Angela, for the price paid proved, to her
satisfaction, that the Alexander fortune could easily stand a check like
the one paid to the motor company.

At luncheon that day, Mrs. Alexander led the conversation without
interruption. Sir James had gathered from his daughter that the car was
a recent purchase, and he could approximate the sum paid for it. Now he
felt relieved to find this American lady so willing to be the victim of
his carefully-laid plans.

“I saw just the kind of roadster I want,” said she, “but I guess I won’t
buy it until we get back from the tour. Ebeneezer says it will keep a
couple of weeks, and I agreed with him. We’ll go on with the old car,
now, and I’ll buy the new one, for myself, when we return.”

Sir James and Angela exchanged glances when they heard this woman speak
of buying high-priced cars as glibly as she would mention buying a new
glove.

“Well, I won a point out of this business, too,” chuckled Mr. Alexander.
Everyone paid strict attention to what he was about to say, for he
generally caused a general laugh with his remarks; and everyone liked
him so genuinely that they would have listened eagerly whether he was
amusing or contrariwise.

“Ebeneezer, remember what I told you just before we came in!” warned his
wife.

“Yeh, but I’m not alone with you now, Maggie,” said he.

“_Please_ don’t call me ‘Maggie,’ Eben. You know my name is ‘Margaret’,”
cried Mrs. Alexander, beside herself at her husband’s shortcomings.

“Don’t worry, Maggie. Us folks know it is a pet name,” chuckled the
little man. “But what I was goin’ to say, is: I won a hard fight whiles
I was out this mornin’ with my wife. She’s promised to let me smoke my
old pipe if I agree to drive the car just like she wants.”

His happy laugh was echoed by his friends, especially by the men who
felt in sympathy with him. They say that a woman can never understand,
because she cannot appreciate, the solace of an old pipe.

Then the interesting part of the programme of the tour began—the
arrangement of the members of the party for the two cars.

“I say, let the girls go in my car, Pater, and let Mr. Alexander drive
the adults,” suggested Jimmy, eagerly.

“Yes, that sounds very good, if the youngsters will agree to follow our
advice carefully, and behave as if a chaperone was in the car with
them,” added Sir James.

“Oh, so many chaperones in the second car will suffice,” laughed Nancy.

“You arrange matters so independently in America, that I suppose it will
be all right, from your point of view,” admitted Lady Osgood, glancing
at Angela for her opinion.

“Yes, and one young man with so _many_ girls, must behave himself, you
know. So everyone will see it is quite proper for us to travel without
an older woman in the car.”

All this fuss about “Mrs. Grundy” made Dodo laugh, and she freely
confessed how silly it all really was to a sensible girl.

The plans were perfected that they were to start on the tour early the
following morning, driving southward from London and following the coast
as far as Brighton. On the northward route they would travel as far as
Holyhead and then cross to Ireland; then tour to the farthest northerly
point on the Irish coast and cross over again to Scotland. And lastly,
follow the automobile route to Edinburgh and southward again to London.

They figured that two weeks ought to be sufficient for this trip, but a
few days more would not really make much difference, as Mr. Ashby could
leave them at any time, if necessary, and go on to London by train.

That afternoon they used the two cars to drive about the city of London
and visit the parks, and other famous sights. The exterior of The Tower
of London, Nelson’s Monument in Trafalgar Square, the Houses of
Parliament, the Museums and Art Galleries, and other noted places were
seen on this drive, but the visiting of these individual buildings and
their contents, was left until the return from the trip.

That night, Jimmy was carefully instructed as to his cue and part in
this trip. Before he returned, he was to have proposed and been accepted
by one of the rich girls he would have to choose from on the drive.
There was not much difference between them, said his parents, but of the
four girls, it was probable that Dodo had the most money and could be
more agreeably handled, as her parents would prove to be easily
influenced by the title.



CHAPTER IV—THE TOUR OF GREAT BRITAIN


Early the following morning, the two large cars were in front of Osgood
House, ready for the start. Jimmy managed to get Ruth to occupy the
front seat beside him, as he preferred her company to that of the other
girls. His car was to lead the way, because he knew the roads quite
well; the second car would follow with Mr. Alexander driving it.

They drove through the suburbs of London to Guildford, and then
southward. As they went, the English Channel could be glimpsed from the
knolls, every now and then, with the lovely rolling country on all sides
except in front.

“Jimmy,” called Mr. Fabian at one of the stops made to allow the girls
to admire the view, “if it will not take us too far out of the way, I’d
like to visit Hastings where the historical ruins can be seen. My
students will there see several unique lines of architecture that can
never be found elsewhere in these modern days.”

“All right, Prof.; and after that I can take you to see Pevensky Castle,
another historic ruin,” returned Jimmy.

So they turned off, just before coming to Brighton, and visited the
ruins of the castle said to have been built by William the Conqueror.
Cameras were brought forth and pictures taken of the place, and then
they all climbed back into the automobiles.

“Now for Pevensky Castle, near which William is said to have landed in
1066,” announced Jimmy, starting his car.

Fortunately, this day happened to be one of the visiting days at the old
ruins, and they had no trouble in securing an entrance. Mr. Fabian and
his interested friends found much to rejoice their hearts, in this old
place; but Jimmy had persuaded Ruth to remain in the car with him, so
that he could have her companionship to himself.

As Mrs. Alexander was the last adult to leave her new car, she saw Jimmy
hold to Ruth’s hand and beg her to stay with him. This was contrary to
her scheme of things, but she had to follow the rest of the party at the
time. While she went, she planned how to get back immediately and
frustrate any tête-à-tête of Jimmy’s, unless Dodo was the girl.

Mr. Alexander had settled himself down in his car for a nice little
smoke with his pipe, as per agreement with his spouse, so he was not
interested in the lover-like scene Jimmy was acting in the other car.
But all this was changed when Mrs. Alexander suddenly returned from the
ruins, and joined the two young people in Jimmy’s car.

“It’s so very tiresome to climb over tumbled down walls and try to take
an interest in mouldy interiors,” sighed she, seating herself on the
running-board of Jimmy’s car.

That ended Jimmy’s dreams of love for the time being, but in his heart
the youthful admirer heartily cursed Dodo’s mother. She sat
unconcernedly dressing her face with powder and rouge, then she lined up
her eye-brows, and finally touched up her lips with the red stick. When
the toilet outfit was put away in her bag, she sat waiting for the
others to reappear from the castle, feeling that she had done her duty
by her family.

At Chichester, the next stopping place on the route, Mr. Fabian led his
friends to the old cathedral; as before, Jimmy had Ruth wait with him
while the others went to inspect the old place. This time, Mrs.
Alexander made no pretence of leaving, but remained on guard beside the
young people. Jimmy gritted his teeth in baffled rage, but he could say
nothing to the wily chaperone.

After the tourists got back in the motor-cars, Portsmouth, Porchester,
Southampton and Christ Church were reeled off speedily. At Christ Church
they stopped long enough to see the carved Gothic door at the north
entrance, and the Norman architecture of the interior of the Priory—a
famous place for lovers of the antique and ancient.

Ruth jumped out and went with her friends when they visited the Priory,
and Jimmy had to console himself with a cigarette. Mrs. Alexander
endeavored to enter into conversation with him, but he was too surly for
anything.

That evening they reached Exeter, and stopped for the night at the New
London Inn, a veritable paradise for the decorators of the party. Its
public-room and bed-rooms were furnished with genuine old mahogany
pieces centuries old. Settles, cupboards, and refectory tables stood in
the main room downstairs, while old Sheraton tables, Chippendale chairs,
ancient, carved four-posters, and highboys or lowboys, furnished the
guest-chambers.

“Nolla, did you ever see so many lovely old things!” exclaimed Polly, as
they admired one thing after another.

“I wish we could steal some of them,” ventured Eleanor, laughingly.

“Maybe the owner will sell some,” suggested Polly.

But Mr. Fabian learned later, that the inn-keeper was as great an
enthusiast and collector of antiques as the Americans, and would not
part for love or money, with any piece in his collection.

In the morning Mr. Fabian escorted his friends to the cathedral of
Exeter, explaining everything worth while, as he went.

Jimmy had ascertained, the night previous, that Ruth purposed going with
her friends, so he refused to get up in the morning, sending down word
instead, that he felt bad. He hoped this might induce Ruth to remain and
comfort him, but he learned later that she had gone gayly with the
others, when they started out for the old edifice.

Shortly after the party left, a knock came upon Jimmy’s door and he
gruffly called out: “Come in!”

Mrs. Alexander tip-toed in and immediately began to condole with him.
“Poor Jimmy! I feel so concerned over you. Just let me mother you, if
you are ill!”

Jimmy growled: “I’m not ill—just sleepy!”

“All the same, you dear boy, something must be troubling you to make you
feel so ill-natured,” said she, pointedly.

“I should think it would!” snapped he, the patch-work quilt drawn up
close about his chin so that only his face showed.

“Then do tell me if I can help in any way. My purse and heart are both
wide open for you to help yourself, whenever you like.”

Jimmy was young, and had not yet realized that independence was a great
privilege. But he had learned that poverty was not the virtue people
called it. It meant doing without pleasant things, and constantly
sacrificing what seemed most desirable. He knew Mrs. Alexander would buy
her way into his good graces if she could, and he was just angry enough,
and sulky at fate, to tempt him to take advantage of her offer. Even
though he might regret it shortly after.

“Well, to confess—as I would to my own mother—I’m broke! And it’s no
pleasant state of affairs on a long trip like this one, with a lot of
pretty girls wanting to be treated to candy, and other things,” growled
Jimmy.

“Poor dear boy!” sighed Mrs. Alexander, seating herself on the edge of
the great antique bed, and patting his head. “Don’t I understand? Now
let me be your other mother, for a while, and give you a little spending
money. When it is gone, just wink at me and I will know you need more.
If there were a _number_ of young men to assume the expenses of treating
the crowd of girls with you, I wouldn’t think of suggesting this. But I
remember that you are but one with a galaxy of beauties who look for
entertainment from you.”

Thus Mrs. Alexander cleverly managed to induce Jimmy to believe he was
justified in taking her money, and as she got up to go out, she said:
“I’ll leave a little roll on the dresser. If you feel able to get up and
come out, you will see that you will feel better for the effort and the
air.”

So saying, she left a packet under the military brushes on the dresser
and, smiling reassuringly at the youth, went out. But she did not leave
the closed door at once; she waited, just outside, until she heard him
spring from the bed and rush over to the place where the money had been
left. Then she nodded her head satisfactorily, and crept downstairs.

Jimmy counted out the notes left for him, and gasped. He hadn’t seen so
much money at one time, since the war began! And he felt a sense of
gratitude, then repulsion, to the ingratiating person who thus paid him
for his good-will.

Mr. Fabian and his party were examining the old cathedral, with its two
Norman towers and the western front rich with carvings, without a
thought of the two they had left at the Inn. Having completed the visit
to the edifice, they all returned to see the old inn known as “Moll’s
Coffee-house.”

“It was at this famous place that many of England’s noted people used to
gather,” said Mr. Fabian, as they crossed the green. “Sir Walter Raleigh
was a frequent visitor here, as well as many historical men.”

As they came to the place, they found Mrs. Alexander and Jimmy seated on
a worm-eaten bench, chatting pleasantly about the ancient room they were
in. But no one knew that the conversation had been suddenly switched
from a personal topic, the moment the sight-seers appeared to interrupt
the tête-à-tête.

Mrs. Alexander got up and crossed the room to meet the other members in
the party, saying as she came: “I hear how folks used to come here and
drink coffee—and a record is kept of who they were. It must be nice to
have folks remember you after you are gone. I wish someone would say,
years after I am dead, ‘Mrs. Alexander was in this house, once’.”

“A lot of good that would do you, then!” laughed Dodo.

“I was just telling Jimmy that it would be a lot of satisfaction to us
all if he became famous and this trip of ours was spoken of in years to
come. He’s got a title in the family, you know, and the English think so
much of that! The inn-keeper across the green might be glad to remember
how Sir Jimmy stopped here when he toured England with his friends from
America.”

Everyone laughed at the silly words but Mrs. Alexander was really in
earnest. Her imagination had jumped many of the obstacles placed in her
way, and she saw herself as Jimmy’s mother-in-law and revered as such by
the English public.

During their tête-à-tête at Old Moll’s Coffee-house, she had impressed
it upon Jimmy’s mind, that not a soul was to know about the money. And
she extracted a promise that he would call upon her for more if he
needed it. Feeling like a cad, still he promised, for he was in dire
need of money to be able to appear like a liberal host.

“Well, Jimmy—are you ready to start along the road?” asked Angela,
suspicious of this sudden change of front in Jimmy for the obnoxious
rich woman.

“Yes, if Mrs. Alex and everyone else is,” agreed he.

“Mrs. Alex?” queried his sister, pointedly.

“Oh yes, folks! Dodo’s mother says ‘Alexander’ is such a lot to say,
that she prefers us to cut it to Mrs. Alex. Every one else has
nicknames, so why not nick Alexander?” said Jimmy.

The others laughed, and Mr. Alexander said quaintly: “I always liked
that name Alexander ’cause it made me feel sort of worth while. I might
be no account in looks, but ‘Alexander’ gives me back-bone, ’cause I
only have to remember ‘Alexander the Great’!”

His friends laughed heartily and Mr. Fabian said: “What’s in a name,
when you yourself are such a good friend?”

“Mebbe so, but all the same, I’ll miss that name. ‘Alex’ looks too much
like a tight fit for my size. But I s’pose it’s got to be as the missus
says!”

Now the cars sped through the charming country of rural England, with
its ever-changing scenes, than which there is nothing more beautiful and
peaceful. Cattle browsed upon the hillocks, tiny hamlets were spotlessly
neat and orderly, the roads were edged with trimmed hedges, and even in
the woods, where wild-plants grew, there was no débris to be found. It
was all a picture of neatness.

On this drive, the girls were made happy by being able to buy several
pieces of old Wedgwood from the country people. Polly also secured a
chubby little bowl with wonderful medallions upon its sides, and Eleanor
found a “salt-glaze” pitcher.

“I believe lots of the people in the country, here, will gladly sell odd
bits if we only have time to stop and bargain,” said Polly, hugging her
bowl.

“And lots of them will swear their furniture is genuine antique even if
they bought it a year ago from an installment firm,” laughed Jimmy.

“Oh, they wouldn’t do that!” gasped Polly.

“Wouldn’t they! Just try it, and see how they rook your pocket-book,”
retorted Jimmy.

“Why James Osgood! Where ever did you learn such words—‘rook’ and the
like?” gasped his sister.

“Oh, I’m going to be a thorough American, now,” laughed Jimmy,
recklessly. “Mrs. Alex has agreed to take me West with her on her
return, and let me run a ranch in Colorado.”

“What will mother say to that?” wailed Angela, as this was not what she
had hoped for.

“Don’t worry, Angela dear,” quickly said Mrs. Alexander, soothingly.
“Jimmy is only joking. I told him about our ranches but I have no idea
of taking him away from England.” Neither had she.

At Glastonbury the tourists stopped to see the “Inne of ye Pilgrims”
which proved to be very old and most interesting. Here King Henry the
VIII and Abbot Whiting’s rooms are maintained with the old furnishings
as in that long-past day.

Pictures were taken of the quaint Gothic carving on the front of the
building, and then Mr. Fabian led them to inspect the ruined abbey which
King Arthur favored above all other spots.

As the cars sped over the good hard roads, past little cottages with the
most attractive thatched-roofs whose dormer windows were set deep back
in the thatch, the tourists were delighted.

“Such lovely little places,” sighed Ruth, as she admired the rose-vines
climbing high upon the roof of a place.

“Just big enough for two!” whispered Jimmy, for his “heart’s desire” was
beside him on the front seat, once more.

“I wonder why American architects do not copy these lovely thatched
roofs for us, more generally,” wondered Polly.

“Our climate would not permit them,” explained Mr. Fabian. “In England,
the damp warm climate seldom changes to bitter cold, and the inmates of
these cottages live in comparative comfort in the winter. In the States,
they’d be frozen out in no time.”

Bath was the next stop, and Mr. Fabian sought out the famous Abbey, at
once. But Ruth had come under the spell of Jimmy’s ardor again, and
remained with him when the others walked away. Mrs. Alexander sensed the
plot and also remained behind. But Mr. Alexander called to her when she
would have joined the two young ones.

“See here—don’t you go interferin’ there. If them two want to keep
comp’ny why should you care?” whispered he.

“They won’t, that’s all. That young man is for Dodo!”

“Huh! Is that so? Well, don’t you think _I_ got something to say in that
case? Dodo takes who she wants, and no one else!”

“Don’t say a word! All you’ve got to do is to pay the bills! I’m doing
this match-making and you needn’t help!” snapped his wife.

As she walked away, the little man nodded his head briskly and muttered:
“We’ll see! We’ll see, missus!”

Mrs. Alexander found she could not beguile the two young folks into
doing anything that included her, so she went towards the Abbey to meet
Dodo upon her return. When they all came out, Dodo was with Polly and
Eleanor, but her mother drew her away to one side and had her say.

“What do you s’pose I brought you over here for, Dodo? Not to gaze at
tumbled down churches or to go nosing about musty old places where queer
things are stuck up for folks to admire. No sir! I brought you here to
find a peer, and now, with the one all ready-made and at hand, you leave
him to Ruth Ashby—a girl not half as good-looking, or rich, as you!”

“See here, Ma,” retorted Dodo angrily; “I told you, before, that I
didn’t want to marry anyone. Now that I’ve met Polly and Eleanor, and I
know how fine a career will be, I am going to go in business, too.”

“Not if I know it! And your Pa worth a million dollars!” exclaimed the
irate woman.

“Polly and Eleanor are worth a lot of money, too, but that makes work
all the pleasanter. You don’t have to worry about bread and butter; and
you can travel, or do all the things necessary to perfect yourself in
your profession,” explained Dodo.

At that, the mother threw up her hands despairingly, and wailed: “To
think I should live to see this day! An only child turning against her
fond mother!”

“Pooh! You’re angry because I won’t toddle about and do exactly as you
say about Jimmy and his title,” Dodo said, scornfully.

“But he loves you, Dodo, and you are breaking his heart.”

Dodo laughed. “He acts like it, doesn’t he? Now if you go on this way,
Ma, I’ll run away and go back to the States. Once I am in New York, I’ll
stay there and earn my own living.”

That silenced her mother. “Oh, Dodo! I never meant you to feel like
that. I’ll never mention Jimmy again, if you’ll promise me you won’t
speak of business in front of anyone else?”

“I’ll only promise to do what any sensible girl would do under the same
circumstances, so there!” agreed Dodo. And her mother had to be content
with that crumb of comfort.

After a good dinner at Bristol, Mr. Fabian sat poring over a road-map,
deciding where next to go. While the elders in the party listened to
him, the young folks followed Jimmy’s beckoning hand and crept away.
They all jumped into the car and he drove off to celebrate the runaway.

That evening Jimmy spent money lavishly, and Angela’s suspicions were
convinced: he had borrowed or taken it from Mrs. Alexander at one of
their tête-à-têtes. But the girl said nothing; she was sorry for herself
and James, and felt that these despicable rich westerners could easily
part with some of their wealth.

It was past midnight when the merry party returned to the hotel, where
mothers sat up to scold their daughters for such an escapade. Youth
laughed at all such corrections, however, and then ran off to bed.

In the morning, no young member of the party was willing to get up and
start on the road. Hence it was quite late when they got into the cars
preparatory to touring again. Just as the signal was given for Jimmy to
lead off, an old man ran up, wildly gesticulating.

“E’en hear’n say you folks like odd bits of old stuff. Coom with me and
see my shaup daown in the lane.”

Mr. Fabian conversed with the old man for a few moments, and then asked
the others if they cared to stop at the shop as they drove past.
Everyone agreed, and the old man was asked to step up on the car and
direct them where to go.

Finally they drew up before a place in the outskirts of Bristol—a
veritable picture of a place. The one-story structure had its walls
panelled in sections and the plaster of these sections was white-washed.
The usual thatched roof and dormer windows topped the building, but the
roses rambled so riotously up over the thatch, and greenish moss grew in
spots, that the old place had a beautiful appearance.

Mr. Maxton rubbed his hands in delight, as he stood by and heard the
cries of admiration from his visitors. He loved the old place and took a
great pride in keeping it looking well.

Then they went indoors, leaving Jimmy and Mr. Alexander in the cars. The
front room was crowded full of old china, lamps, silver and other
curios, but Mr. Maxton led them directly to the rear room where the
furniture was kept.

“Here be a rale Windsor chair you’ll like,” said he, moving forward a
piece of furniture.

“My, Fabian! It must date back as early as 1690 to 1700,” whispered Mr.
Ashby, as he examined the crown center of the flat head-rest that
finished the comb-top at the back.

“It has the twisted upright rails at the back, and the turned rungs that
go with that period,” admitted Mr. Fabian, down upon his knees to
examine the chair.

“Girls, see that seat—scooped out to fit the body, but it is worn thin
with age along its front edge; and even the arms and legs are splintered
down from centuries of hard usage,” remarked Mr. Ashby.

While the two men and the dealer were bargaining over the chair, Mrs.
Alexander wandered back to the front room. There she found Ruth upon her
knees examining a wonderful, old carved chest.

“Isn’t this a darling, Mrs. Alex?” exclaimed the girl.

“What is it?” asked the woman, hardly interested.

“Why, it’s a fine old wedding-chest with exquisite panels on its front
and sides. The carving, alone, is unusual.”

“A wedding chest, eh. What would you use it for?” asked Mrs. Alexander,
taking a deeper interest in the article since the girl explained what
the object was.

“Why, any girl would be glad to start a hope-chest with this,” laughed
Ruth. “I’m going to ask Daddy to buy it for me, if it isn’t too costly.”

Mrs. Alexander’s fears took fire at that suggestive word, “hope-chest,”
from Ruth, and she turned instantly to rejoin the dealer in the back
room. He had just finished writing the directions for the shipping of
the chair he had sold, when she hurried across the room.

“Mr. Maxton, you have a carved chest in the front room. I want to buy
it—how much is it?” As she spoke, Mrs. Alexander took a purse out of
her bag and displayed a roll of bills.

The clever dealer saw this opportunity to drive a good bargain, and he
named his figure. Without demur, the lady counted down the money and
asked for a receipt.

Meanwhile the others had gone to the front room to see the purchase Mrs.
Alexander was making. She had shown no interest in antiques before, so
this must be an exceptional piece to lure her money from her.

“Daddy, do come here and tell me if I may have this old chest?” called
Ruth, still waiting beside the carved piece.

Then it became apparent that Ruth had wanted it for herself, but that
Mrs. Alexander secured it. Everyone wondered why?

Well pleased with her purchase, the new owner of the chest came from the
rear room and smiled complacently. Then she spoke to her daughter:
“Dodo, when we go to Paris you can fill that old wedding chest with a
trooso.”

“Oh yes? Whose is it, Ma?” asked the girl.

“Why yours, of course! That’s why I got it.”

“My very own! for keeps? Or are you only _lending_ it to me?”

“Your very own, deary! I hope you’ll pass it along to the noble children
I long to call my grandchildren, some day,” said Mrs. Alexander,
sentimentally.

“I thank you, Ma, and I’ll put it to the best use I can think of. And
I’ll pass it along—oh yes! but I doubt if grandchildren of yours ever
see it,” laughed Dodo, with a queer look.

“I’m glad you got it, Dodo, because it is a lovely thing,” said Ruth to
the fortunate owner, trying to hide her disappointment behind a smile.

“But you paid an outrageous price for it, Mrs. Alex,” said Mr. Fabian.

“Twice as much as he would have taken,” added Mr. Ashby.

“I don’t care what it cost. I’d have given ten times the price to have
it for Dodo,” snapped Mrs. Alexander, not feeling the delight she had
anticipated in the purchase.

Just then Mr. Alexander poked his bald head in at the doorway and said:
“Ain’t you folks most ready to go on?”

“Come here, Ebeneezer! I want you to give that address of the hotel in
Paris to this Mr. Maxton. I bought a chest for Dodo and he is to ship it
there, so’s I can fill it when I arrive,” said Mrs. Alexander.

“Have I got the address?” stammered her husband.

“Of course! In that red-covered leather memorandum book.”

Mr. Alexander searched in his pockets and finally brought out a little
book from his inside coat-pocket. He fumbled the pages as he sought for
the needed address, and murmured so that the others could distinctly
hear.

“H—um, what’s this? ‘Go to the barber’s for a clean shave every
day—don’t forget.’ It ain’t that.” Then he turned to the next page, and
squinted at the writing.

“‘Ne—ver use a knife at table when you eat—only to cut.’ It ain’t that
page, nuther.”

His wife remonstrated, and he suddenly said: “Wait now—here it ’tis:
‘Don’t go in front of others unless you say ‘excuse me.’ Don’t sit down
with ladies standing.’ Wall now, it ain’t on that page, either,” he
remarked, but Mrs. Alexander grew annoyed when she saw the sympathetic
smiles of their companions.

They recognized the “teacher’s” rules for their friend, and they felt
sorry for his lot in life. Then she snapped out: “Can’t you find it in
there, Eben?”

“No, b’ gosh! It ain’t down. All’s I can find is ‘don’ts and do’s’ what
you told me.”

“Give me the book—I’ll find it,” demanded his wife. “You never _could_
read your own writing.” And she took the book and quickly turned to the
last page. Then she read off the address to the waiting dealer. This
done she thrust the book back at her meek spouse.

“Well now! I never thought to look backwards first! I begun in the front
of the book like I was taught at school,” said Mr. Alexander to his
companions, in apology for his blunder.

The tourists finally got away from Bristol but they were too late to
make Birmingham that night. So they planned to stop at Gloucester or
Worcester, which ever was most convenient.



CHAPTER V—LOVE AFFAIRS AND ANTIQUES


While the cars were speeding over the long flat country that stretched
away after leaving Bristol, Dodo entered into a confidential chat with
Ruth who sat in the back seat beside her. Although it was against
Jimmy’s wishes, Angela managed to get in the front seat beside him, in
order to give him some sound advice about his future.

“I just heard, Ruth, that you would have a birthday, shortly,” began
Dodo.

“Yes, but who told you so?” returned Ruth.

“Polly mentioned it, and I said that I hoped we would all be with you to
help celebrate. When is it?”

“Not for three weeks yet, Dodo. And I expect to be at Uncle’s, then.
They’ll give me a party, I suppose,” said Ruth.

“Well, that’s too bad—that we won’t be together—as I have a little
gift for you and I hope you’ll like it.”

“Oh, Dodo! How nice of you. I really did not look for anything from
anyone, you know,” cried Ruth, delightedly.

“Maybe not, dearie; and this isn’t much—not what you deserve, but it is
a little remembrance, as you will find when you get it. I’m not going to
give it to you until the day arrives, but when you open it you’ll
understand everything that I can’t explain to you, now,” explained Dodo.

“Whatever it is, little or big, I will like it, Do, as coming from your
generous heart. Even a flower from my friends is more than a jewel from
someone who doesn’t mean it,” said Ruth.

“I know that, Ruth, and that’s why I want to give you something you’ll
like. You are true blue, and you deserve all the joy one can give you.”

“It’s awfully good of you, Dodo, to say that,” smiled Ruth, although
tears of pleasure welled up in her eyes.

The other girls had overheard the conversation and now they chimed in.
“Dodo’s right, Ruth. You’re just fine!”

Later in the afternoon, Jimmy stopped his car at a tiny farmhouse with
the spoken intention of getting a drink of water. But his subtle reason
was to get Angela _out_ of the front seat and Ruth _in_ it. “Who wants a
drink?” called he, as he jumped out and started for the cottage.

“I do!” cried Polly, getting out to go after him.

At the open door of the humble dwelling, the two looked in and saw the
house-wife bending over a cook-stove, turning some doughnuts in a pan of
hot fat. Jimmy waited until she had finished and then said: “May we have
a drink, if you please?”

His smile and manner were very pleasing, and Polly saw how people fell
before his winsome way. “Just a minute—I’ll draw some fresh cold water
for you,” said the woman.

“Oh, do let me help you!” exclaimed Jimmy, whipping off his cap as he
hurried through the room to carry the pail the woman had taken.

The two of them went out to the back-shed where the water ran, and
filled the pail. Meanwhile, Polly gazed about the interior of the little
house. She saw several objects which might be old pieces, so she
wondered how she could get Mr. Fabian there to judge.

As Jimmy came in, carrying the pail, and the woman held a tin dipper for
the tourists, he remarked as he passed the cook-stove: “My, how good
those doughnuts smell.” And he sniffed.

“You shall hov some!” declared the woman, laughingly.

“Oh no! I couldn’t think of it,” objected Jimmy, hoping all the time to
be persuaded into taking some.

“I knows what young boys’ appetites is like,” chaffed the woman, taking
a large platter from the corner cupboard and piling a heap of doughnuts
upon it.

Jimmy laughingly protested, but she waved him out and followed at his
heels. When they reached the cars, she proffered the platter to the
_gentlemen_ first. Polly tried to get Mr. Fabian’s eye to tell him about
the furniture in the cottage.

But his eyes were rivetted on the old Staffordshire platter that held
the refreshments. He nudged Mr. Ashby and both men eagerly took the
dish. As they gazed at it, and then passed it on to the ladies to help
themselves first, they exchanged opinions.

“It’s the rare old blue that seems etched on the ivory glaze,” whispered
Mr. Fabian.

“Where that came from, there may be more,” added Mr. Ashby, eagerly.

The platter had reached Mr. Alexander on its return trip to the men,
when the little man took two doughnuts, one in each hand.

“Ebeneezer Alexander! How can you? Don’t you know what your red book
says?” scolded his wife.

“I dun’t care, Maggie! I’m good and hongry and dunnits always was my
temptation. These smell like your’n ust to before we got too rich for
you to cook.”

Mrs. Alexander tried to hide the smile of satisfaction that tried to
creep up into her face. She reached out her hand for one of his
doughnuts, without saying a word. But Mr. Alexander moved away out of
her reach.

He hurriedly held at arm’s length the hand that held one doughnut, while
he took several great bites from the tidbit held in the other hand, lest
his wife compel him to give up his treasure trove. The others laughed at
him, and Mr. Ashby said:

“I don’t blame you, Mr. Alex. If our wives would cook, as once they did,
we wouldn’t have to act so childishly when we travel.”

The platter was emptied and when the farmer’s wife turned to go back to
her work, Mr. Fabian and Mr. Ashby insisted upon carrying the pail and
dipper, to the amazement of those in the car. Polly understood and
nudged Eleanor to follow, too.

“This is a very fine old dish, madam,” remarked Mr. Ashby.

“Oh yes, it’s a bit of old blue I’ve had in the kitchen for years. I
remember how mother used to heap up this same plate with scones, for us
chillern,” replied the woman, smiling at the platter.

“Are there many such pieces of blue in this section of the country?”
asked Mr. Fabian, while Polly and her companions listened eagerly for
the reply.

“Summat; but my gude mon stacked our’n up in the back-shed when us
wanted to use the front cupboard for my new chiny.”

“Would you like to sell it?” was Mr. Ashby’s tense query.

“D’ye think it would be wuth summat? I’ do be thinking of laying by a
few bits, this year, to buy us a wool carpet.”

“Perhaps we will buy some pieces and pay you as much as anyone else you
might meet,” suggested Mr. Fabian.

As they entered the low-ceiled room of the cottage, the woman said:
“Come out back and we won’t have to carry so far to the front room.”

She went through a tiny door that opened to the small lean-to, and then
began taking all sorts of old dishes from the corner cupboard that her
husband had constructed to hold the accumulation of generations. As the
collectors saw choice pieces so carelessly handled they held their
breaths in dread.

“Now this old blue belonged to my gran’faither afore it come down to us.
He, and my faither after him, lived on this same farm. Us had no son so
the home come to me as eldest of the family.”

As she spoke, the woman carried armfuls of dishes out to the table in
the middle of the room. Some was worthless trash, but there were several
pieces of rare Staffordshire, and some fine bits of old lustre-ware. In
the last armful she carried to the table, were some valuable Wedgwood
jugs and bowls.

“Us got an old pink set, in the front room, but us don’ use it now that
us got a fine new chiny set,” said the woman, turning to go for a sample
of the pink ware.

“You pick out what you want here, and I’ll go and see if the pink is
genuine pink Staffordshire,” whispered Mr. Ashby.

So Mr. Fabian soon set aside all the real good pieces on the table, and
in so doing noticed the table itself.

“Why!” gasped he to Polly, “I verily believe this is the real
Hepplewhite!”

Instantly he began a close examination of it, and smiled as he examined.
“With careful restoring you would have as fine a Hepplewhite as any in
America,” he said to Polly.

“Oh, then do let us take it!” exclaimed Polly, eagerly.

The table started them examining other broken down, or criminally
painted, objects of furniture in the shed, and when Mr. Ashby returned,
carrying a plate of pink Staffordshire, those who had remained behind in
the shed were greatly elated over something.

“Oh, Mr. Ashby! just see what we found!” cried Polly.

“While you were away I discovered a Hepplewhite table, Ashby,” explained
Mr. Fabian. “And Polly got the girls to help remove all the paint-pots
and trash from this bureau to make sure it was what she thought. Look!”

Mr. Ashby was taken over to the little bureau which had been used for a
catch-all for years. Its drawers were over-flowing with rags and
garden-tools, but nothing could hide the true lines of a genuine
Sheraton piece.

“Well I never! To think such a gem should be so treated!” murmured Mr.
Ashby.

The others laughed delightedly at his amazement. But the owner now
joined them again, and Mr. Fabian began bargaining.

“Are you satisfied with the prices paid you for the old china?” asked
he, as an introduction to further dealing.

“Oh my! Us begin to see that wool carpet,” laughed she.

“Would you sell this old table and bureau?” continued he.

“Them! I should say so!” retorted she, emphatically.

Instantly a price was offered and eagerly accepted between the two, and
the table and bureau became the property of Polly and Eleanor. As Mr.
Ashby said: “The basis of your business-to-come.”

Dodo had found some old brass candlesticks and a china group that proved
to be old Dresden. These she hugged tightly as they all left the cottage
followed by the blessings of the woman.

“My goodness! see what’s coming?” laughed Jimmy, as he watched the five
collectors file down the pathway, each one loaded with china.

“Where do you expect us to sit?” added Mrs. Fabian.

“On the running-board, to be sure,” retorted her husband.

“Yes, because this fine blue takes precedence over modern objects, even
though they be mortals,” chuckled Mr. Ashby.

“You-all just ought to see the pink set Mr. Ashby got!” exclaimed Dodo,
intensely interested in this quest of the antique.

Mrs. Alexander noted the bright eyes and flushed face, and determined to
keep Dodo away from such dangerous interests.

“And the old table and bureau that Nolla and I got for a song!” cried
Polly, also highly pleased with the purchases.

“Best of all, that good woman is so happy to know she is able to get the
‘wool carpet’ she has wanted for years, that her blessings will travel
with us for many a year to come,” added Mr. Fabian, turning to wave his
hand at the farmer’s wife as she stood in the doorway waving her apron
at the tourists.

After the dishes were safely stowed away, Angela was induced to give her
place, in the first car, to Mr. Fabian, so that he could talk to the
other girls about the relative values of china.

Angela took no interest in these matters, so she willingly climbed in
with the elders in the second car; and Mr. Fabian began a dissertation
on blue, pink and brown Staffordshire; gold, silver, and bronze, or
copper lustre-ware; Wedgwood, Derby, and Worcester ware, and
salt-glaze—which was finest of all when it was genuine antique.

Jimmy had grown very impatient while waiting at the farmhouse and when
Angela exchanged seats with Mr. Fabian to permit him to lecture the
girls on china, the young man frowned. Finally he became so irritated at
what he considered “bally mush,” and not being able to flirt with Ruth
who sat in the back seat, he ran the car through all the ruts and over
all the rocks he found in the way. This shook up the passengers
uncomfortably and interrupted the flow of eloquence from Mr. Fabian. But
he and his girls were so absorbed in the subject that they never dreamed
the roughness of the road could have been avoided by discontented Jimmy.

Angela, sitting beside Mrs. Alexander, made the most of her opportunity.
She managed to ferret out just how much money Dodo would inherit, and
what Mrs. Alexander might be persuaded to do for an acceptable husband
for the girl. So cleverly was this information secured that the informer
failed to realize she was being “put through the third degree.”

Angela was a sweet pretty girl but had experienced so many unpleasant
sacrifices since her father’s tremendous losses that she had grown
callous to all higher feelings. Her sole ambition, now, was to secure
_her_ future either by Jimmy’s marriage to money, or by her own escape
from the bondage of poverty by marriage.

She fully realized that most desirable young men in England were in the
same position as her father and brother, hence she had not much choice
of escape that way. But with Jimmy—upon him rested the salvation of the
family and its debts.

Mr. Fabian was still talking “antiques” when the cars reached
Gloucester, so Jimmy steered through, by way of side streets, and then
drove through the famous cotswolds, on the way to Worcester.

A few miles this side of Worcester, Polly spied a very old-looking house
standing under a group of giant trees which must have been hundreds of
years old.

“Oh, I just know there will be old pieces in that place!” exclaimed she,
leaning forward eagerly.

“Stop, Jimmy! Oh, do make him stop, Prof!” cried Eleanor.

“Do!” added Dodo. “We are almost in Worcester, anyway, so a few minutes
more won’t matter.”

“Everyone is so tired with the drive, I don’t see why we must halt
again,” complained Mrs. Alexander, impatiently.

“Suppose your car drives on, then, and we will stop to inquire if we can
secure any old things,” suggested Mr. Fabian.

But no one wanted to do this, so both cars stopped while the two men and
the girls went to the house. This time no subterfuge was used, but the
question was plainly asked:

“Do you happen to have any old dishes for sale?”

“And furniture?” added Polly, anxiously.

The surprised woman laughed at the unusual query, but she nodded and
said: “I got some black china, and several queer bowls and pots that I
might sell—if you make it wuth while.”

The collectors all filed into the cottage, then, and the impatient
travellers left in the cars had to cool their tempers well, before they
saw their friends appear again. When they did come forth, however, they
brought with them several old tobys, a few bowls, a number of pieces of
black Staffordshire, an old knife-box of fine inlaid work, a mahogany
dressing-mirror exquisitely stencilled and a knitted bed-coverlet with
raised roses and scalloped edges.

“Oh now! This is expecting too much of Job!” called Mrs. Ashby, when she
saw the consternation expressed on Jimmy and his sister’s faces.

“When we started on this tour you never said a word about founding a
second-hand business,” added Mrs. Fabian, secretly amused at the
collectors, and the chagrin so evident on the faces of their two
“English cousins.”

“One never can tell what will happen when you take fanatics on a trip,”
retorted Mr. Ashby, depositing his burden on the ground beside the car.

Then began another exodus of the passengers until a complete
readjustment of all the various purchases could be made. While the two
men were carefully packing away the precious objects, Polly said: “We
had to leave behind the best piece of all—a chair of satin-wood with
daintily turned legs and rungs. But they were splintered and the rush
seat was broken through.”

“Don’t forget, Polly, that the thing that counted most—the beautifully
stencilled back slats with their fruit and roses as clear as the day
they were done, was in good preservation,” added Eleanor.

“Then why didn’t you buy it?” snapped Angela, angrily.

“Oh, we did!” replied Dodo. “At least, I did. But I couldn’t carry it
out, so it will have to be shipped home when the other things go.”

“You got it?” cried her mother. “What for?”

“For my shop, of course. I’m going into decorating, too, and open a fine
place of business,” giggled Dodo, tantalizingly.

“Not on _my_ money! You’ve got to make a good match over here,”
commanded her mother.

Little Mr. Alexander had not had much chance to speak during the day, as
antiques and talks on such subjects were not in his line. But now he
scented battle on his own preserves, and he threw out his chest and
thrust his hands deep into his trouser pockets—a habit he had when he
wished to impress his wife.

“Well, now, mebbe Dodo can’t open shop on your money, Maggie, but she
can on _mine_! If she wants to do that ruther’n get spliced to a
furriner, who’s going to stop her, I’d like to know!”

That effectually ended the tirade for the time being, and when everybody
was seated again, Jimmy was made supremely happy to find Ruth beside
him, once more.

The only subject that interested the majority of the tourists that
evening, after dinner, was the discussion of the various pieces
purchased that day, and the examination of them. Mr. Ashby and Mr.
Fabian knew so much about collections of antiques that the stories they
told were most interesting to the girls.

But Jimmy and Mrs. Alexander were bored to death by the conversation, so
that they soon made their way out of the hotel, in search of
distraction. Not long after they had escaped from the company of the
others, another packet of bills passed from Mrs. Alexander’s hands to
the young man’s pockets. But it was a personal matter that concerned no
one but themselves, said she, and Jimmy anxiously agreed to the
condition.

“Of course you know, Mrs. Alex, that nothing on earth could make me
accept this gift from you, if matters with the Pater were not awfully
tangled, this year,” explained Jimmy, hurriedly.

“Don’t mention it, dear boy! I’m so glad I can give it to one I think so
highly of. Some day you will be able to do a good turn for me,” replied
Mrs. Alexander, affably.

Jimmy understood too well, both from Angela and Mrs. Alexander, what was
expected of him, but he hadn’t a thought for Dodo, because he was
infatuated with Ruth. And she, nice little girl, hadn’t a fortune to
bless him with. So he forced the future still further into the
background, and took the money that was offered him, the while he basked
in Ruth’s sunny smiles.

In the morning the cars started for Birmingham, which was on the road to
Lichfield. But the city was smoky and uninviting because of its
factories and filth, so they chose a side-road that would bring them to
the beautiful edifice that makes Lichfield a Mecca for lovers of the
ancient and rare.

The cathedral, from a distance, looks like a fret-work of finest lace.
And as one draws nearer, its patterns show up clearer, until one is
quite close, when the outlined designs on the front of the building
compel even the indifferent to stand and gaze in admiration.

Mr. Fabian pointed out the marvellous sculpturing of the arch, the tiers
of niches with their protected figures, the two spires and other
beauties, then he led his friends inside the cathedral. Here they saw
the ancient Bible with its illuminated and designed pages, and then they
visited the Chapter House.

Upon seeing the others follow Mr. Fabian indoors, Mr. Alexander remarked
jocularly: “I’m afraid of visitin’ so many churches, ’cause the good I
get will cure me smokin’ my old pipe. And I woulden’ go back on that old
pal for all the cathedrals in this wurrold.”

They left him sitting on the running-board, contentedly puffing at the
black “evil” aforementioned; but when they all came forth, again, Mr.
Alexander was nowhere to be seen.

After shouting and searching for ten minutes, or more, he was still
absent and the natives could not say that they had even seen him about.

“I knew how it would be if Ebeneezer came to Europe!” exclaimed Mrs.
Alexander, impatiently.

“Pa is able to take care of himself, never worry,” added Dodo.

“But he is always cutting such capers,” complained his wife. “One minute
he’s here, and the next he isn’t!”

The remark caused a general smile and Mrs. Alexander thought she had
said something very clever, so she smiled, too. Perhaps the smile made
her feel better-natured, for she joined the men when they resumed their
search for the missing man.

Jimmy went to the authorities to question what had best be done about
the matter of finding Mr. Alexander; the other two men had gone in
opposite directions to ask natives if they had seen such a man as they
described and the women walked about, calling aloud or poking under
shrubs, and back of cottages, where he might have taken a nap.

Finally a little man sauntered from the cathedral and stood gazing about
in surprise at the ladies—they acted so queerly. He began loading his
pipe from the old tobacco pouch and as he called out to his friends who
were scattered far and wide, they looked up and started for him.

“Where _have_ you been? You’ve made the most trouble—losing yourself in
this ridiculous way!” scolded his wife.

“Why, I wasn’t lost! I kind’a thought it was wicked in me to sit with my
pipe when I oughter be seeing that church, so I tucked away my old
friend and follered you-all. I hunted most an hour for you-all, but I
diden’ see hide ner hair of anyone I knew. But I did see a lot of
figgers stuck up in the walls, and a lot of folks starin’ at ’em. So I
come along out again.”

His description made everyone, but his wife, laugh. She shook her head
despairingly at such behavior, and refused to look at her spouse for the
rest of the day. But that seemed not to dampen his feelings a whit.
Rather he felt relieved, he said.

From Lichfield the cars turned due west and drove to Wolverhampton.
While driving through Wales, the tourists found great entertainment in
trying to converse with the Welshmen they met along the road.

The country was beautiful with its rugged hills and heather-clothed
fields. The road to Bangor ran through the most picturesque section of
all this scenic beauty, and the girls took many snapshots of the
artistic views.

The route planned led to Bangor, where the tourists stayed over-night.
No one cared to cross St. George’s Channel and arrive in Dublin at
night, for they had been hearing too much about the Irish riots, to
deliberately choose to stay at any hotel where bricks and shot might
strike innocent heads at any time.

It was during the evening spent at Bangor, that Jimmy beheld Eleanor
Maynard with different eyes. Ruth had suddenly palled on him, and his
heart grew cold towards her charm and beauty. But Ruth paid no attention
to his change of tactics. She had smilingly accepted homage, and she as
smilingly waived it again. Jimmy’s ardent protests of enduring faith and
love were empty words to her. The candy and tokens were tangible
delights.

What opened Jimmy’s “love-eyes” to Eleanor’s apparent value was her
remark about butterfly lovers.

“I never could stand a man who buzzed about from one blossom to another
like a butterfly,” commented Eleanor.

“Nor I. But then, you and I, Nolla, always knew real _men_,” added
Polly.

“If other girls had the advantages we western girls have, of knowing
great big heroes of the plains, they’d soon sicken of society idiots,”
declared Dodo.

Ruth and Nancy were the audience to these remarks, but Angela was having
a tête-à-tête with Mrs. Alexander. Jimmy stood eagerly watching the five
girls, comparing notes on each other.

“Well, I never was west, so I only know the kind of a beau that Jimmy
Osgood represents,” giggled Ruth. “As long as they are not serious, and
are useful in giving you candy and flowers, they answer a certain
purpose.”

Ruth had been so cloyingly sweet and responsive to all his (Jimmy’s)
advances, that this speech from her suddenly broke the spell he had been
under. From that moment on, Jimmy had no eyes for a girl who could be so
unkind.

“Poor Jimmy! Ruth, you will break his heart if he ever hears of what you
said,” remarked Eleanor, and that sympathetic rejoinder to Ruth’s
heartless chatter drew Jimmy to a new star in the firmament of his
hopes.

No one knew that Jimmy had been accidentally eaves-dropping, so when
they began to climb into the cars the next morning, to go to Dublin,
everyone was surprised to find how carefully Jimmy assisted Eleanor to
the front seat—the place he considered a seat of honor.



CHAPTER VI—POLLY TAKES A HAND TO CURE JIMMY


Quite unabashed, and giggling at the incident, Ruth took a back seat
with Polly and Dodo. But Polly felt jealous of Jimmy’s demands on
Eleanor’s time. She felt that her chum and dear friend should divide her
thoughts and attentions with others, and not sit in front listening to a
boy’s foolishness, all day long!

The road from Dublin, northwards, was rutty, and with wild vines
over-growing the steep banks on both sides. But the blossoms seemed
paler than those in England, and their perfume much less sweet. Even in
size, they appeared poorly-nourished, when compared to their large
robust English brethren.

The cottages they passed on this ride bore all the marks of neglect,
poverty and dirt. Pigs were as much at home inside the house, as were
the tenants, while troops of dirty children rolled around in front of
the houses, mingling with the chickens, dogs, pigs and other domestic
live-stock, in cases where the owner could afford them.

“Oh, let’s get away from this part of Ireland,” cried Angela, with
disgust.

“It seems a waste of valuable time to have come here at all,” declared
Polly, holding a handkerchief to her nose as they passed a dreadful
hovel where unkempt children played and fought.

The roads were so bad, however, that the cars could not speed very fast,
so they had to stop at Belfast, that night, and resume the journey in
the morning. The second day in Ireland they managed to travel as far as
Port Rush, merely going aside before reaching that place, in order to
see the “Giant’s Causeway” and its rugged cliffs along the coast-line.

Another night was spent in Port Rush, as the boat for Scotland had left
before the tourists reached the port. Jimmy had gone headlong into the
new affair with Eleanor, and apparently had continued his love-making
where he had suddenly terminated it with Ruth. There were no romantic
beginnings for Eleanor, in his approaches to a declaration. So that when
they were crossing from Ireland to Androssan, in Scotland, the
infatuated lover managed to get Eleanor away from the others and hide
her in a steamer-chair, found in a nook, where he could give full
expression to his gift of romance.

The others in the party saw the Giant’s Causeway and the famous cliffs,
from the sea, as they passed by in the steamer, but Eleanor never saw
the least bit of them, because of Jimmy’s screening form and his refusal
to permit her to leave him.

Angela was delighted to find her brother had finally appreciated the
recklessness of his attachment to Ruth, when there were far richer girls
in the party. She would have selected Dodo or Polly, had he asked _her_
to decide for him, but Eleanor was better than Ruth. So she seconded all
her brother’s attempts to kidnap Eleanor whenever the entire party
wished to go anywhere or do a thing.

“It’s a wonder your brother did not fall in love with these four pretty
girls at one time—and save trouble,” said Nancy Fabian, laughingly to
Angela.

“Now, Nancy, don’t show your jealousy,” returned Angela.

“Me—jealous! Why, Angie, you know I refused Jimmy three or four times
before these girls ever put in an appearance. To accuse me of jealousy
when I hail the deliverance from his attentions is ridiculous of you.”

Polly overheard these remarks and determined that she would spare her
friend any further annoyances from Jimmy. “Here Nolla was losing all the
wonderful sights they came expressly to Europe to see, and a foolish boy
was using that time for a flirtation.” Polly mentioned this to Eleanor
the first time she got her away from Jimmy.

“Oh, but he heaps such good candies on one, Poll,” laughed Eleanor,
apologetically. “Let his love die a natural death, and then there will
be no danger of its ghost ever bobbing up to frighten me.”

“But you’re giving this precious time to a bally fool, and missing Mr.
Fabian’s rare lessons on information you’ll need to know,” declared
Polly, angrily.

“I can’t help it, Poll. You’ll see how it is when your turn comes with
Jimmy,” laughed Eleanor, teasingly.

Polly’s eyes snapped fire. Then she threatened something that had been
alluded to before, between Eleanor and herself. “I plan to write letters
home tonight when we stop at Glasgow. I’m going to tell Paul Stewart
what a dreadful flirt you have turned out to be!”

Eleanor gasped, but was brave. “Oh yes, and also tell him what a
wonderful girl his old playmate, Dodo Alexander, is, and how, with all
her money, he can easily win her and live in ease the rest of his life!”

Eleanor turned away shortly after that, and Polly felt like crying. This
was the first time, in years, that Eleanor and she had had words, and
that horrid little fop was the cause of it!

But Polly’s threat, although vain, served to startle Eleanor in her
passive acceptance of Jimmy’s attentions. She sat in the same seat on
the road to Edinburgh, it is true, but she was a dull companion and
never as much as glanced at her admirer.

Polly and she had not spoken to each other since the words they had had,
but both girls revenged themselves on Jimmy—the cause of their quarrel.
And he, unaware of what had caused the sudden change in Eleanor’s
feelings for him, tried all the more to win her back to that former
sweet companionship with him.

At Edinburgh, Mr. Fabian conducted his party through the fifteen famous
castles and numerous other places of interest to lovers of the antique,
and Eleanor was a member of the group in every instance. In order to be
near his heart’s desire, Jimmy had to trail along, too, sighing in
anguish and rolling his eyes in desperation, when Eleanor ignored him
completely.

“He acts and looks like a comedian in the Movies,” said Nancy,
impatiently.

Angela smiled wisely and tossed her head when she heard the remark.
Nancy cared naught for that, but turned her attention to Polly who was
flushing and fuming to herself.

“What’s the matter, Poll dear?” asked Nancy, softly.

“Oh, he makes me so mad! I could just slap his face for him! There’s
your father giving us all this wonderful information on architecture and
antiques, and poor Nolla not hearing a word of it, because of that
fortune-hunting fool!”

“S-sh! Not so loud, dear! I feel as you do about him, but I have learned
that it is best not to interfere in the matter. Let Jimmy and his sister
‘have rope enough.’ You know the rest.”

“Why, Nancy! I thought you were devoted to Angela?” gasped Polly.

“I was—once, dear, but don’t speak of it to anyone else. I thought
Angie the most wonderful girl in the world until these past few days
when I found that her entire heart and mind is set on getting wealth by
some means or other. Her art, her friends, and her very self-respect,
are being sacrificed to that one ambition. Hence I have had to crucify
my friendship, too, and try to feel indifferent to the past.”

“Dear Nancy!” condoled Polly. “I know just how I would feel if Nolla
proved to be unworthy of my love and friendship.”

“But she won’t—she is a true American, Polly, and that makes a
difference. Much depends on the way you have been trained to think, and
poor Angie thinks society and wealth mean heaven.”

Having visited the principal points of interest in Edinburgh, Mr. Fabian
took his party to Abbotsford, the home of Sir Walter Scott. Here the
collection of wonderful objects and the interest created in them by the
names of the donors to the famous novelist, gave the tourists much
pleasure.

Polly saw that Jimmy still tormented Eleanor and kept her from enjoying
the visit to Abbotsford as she should have done. So she waylaid the
young man, as he followed Eleanor from the place.

[Illustration: “I’LL TELL YOU SOMETHING THAT OUGHT TO DO YOU GOOD!”
SAID POLLY.]

“James Osgood! What do you suppose Nolla Maynard came to Europe for? To
amuse _you_ with silly-mush, or to study art and try to become
experienced against the time we go into business?” fumed Polly, striding
in front of Jimmy and facing him so that he had to stop short.

Eleanor was surprised at first, then she began to enjoy the encounter.
Jimmy was too amazed to answer, but he stared at Polly and her blazing
eyes, as if she were an apparition.

“Well, I’ll tell you something that ought to do you good!” continued
Polly, cracking her fingers under Jimmy’s nose. “There isn’t a man
outside of Colorado, who can ever touch Eleanor Maynard’s heart, because
she left it out there long ago! And what’s more—there isn’t a man like
_you_, that can get one cent of American money from any girl who has
sense to know what you’re after! Now take yourself and your love-making
off, to a girl who doesn’t know better!”

The cutting scorn and fire with which Polly drove home her speech,
caused Jimmy to shrink momentarily, but he also saw the glorious beauty
of the girl with the flushed face, blazing eyes, and quivering form, and
his impressionable heart took fire.

Polly had left him speechless, and Eleanor had hurried away to the other
girls, lest she burst out laughing in sheer enjoyment of the bout
between the two. But Jimmy stood lost in thought. He had never in his
life, had anyone speak so to him, and never had he seen such marvellous
beauty as that which Polly scintillated as she fired her sparks of fury
at him.

Then he suddenly recovered and shot ahead to reach his car. He waited at
the side, where one who would sit beside him, had to enter. He waved
Nancy, Ruth, and Eleanor on to the back, and bowed low when Polly came
up.

“Humph!” was all she granted him, and flounced along to the other seats.
Thus it happened that Angela had to sit beside her brother that day,
much to the annoyance of both of them.

“What’s the matter with Nolla?” whispered she, as the car started.

“Nothing. She’s nice enough, but I’m going to get Polly Brewster if I
have to kidnap her!” he hissed through his teeth. Meantime he made the
car tear along at such a rate that the girls could hardly breathe.

“D-o—n’t kill—us—in—the—me-an—time!” gasped Angela.

“Better all dead, than let her get away!”

“I al-wa-ys kn-ew you—had co-ot-tton wh-ere br-rains
ought—to—be-e——” Angela managed to jerk forth.

Jimmy made no reply to this stigma but tore along the road until a
constable arrested him. That calmed him somewhat, for he had to pay a
fine, and it took all the money Mrs. Alexander had recently given him.

When the second car caught up with Jimmy’s, Mr. Alexander shouted
gleefully: “That was some race, Jimmy, old boy! I used to eat up the
road that way, in Colorado, but they won’t stand for it over here, will
they?”

As Jimmy had just transferred his little roll of bills from his pocket,
to the constable’s hand, he grunted and started on slowly.

Mr. Fabian called out, however: “You rushed past all the towns I had
planned to stop at and explore. Now shall we go back!”

“No, never mind, Prof! let’s get back to London and end this awful
trip!” shouted Polly, anxiously.

Her friends laughed, but the tourists in the second car could not
understand why the drive was so awful to Polly.

At Penrith the travellers stopped, as they planned to go cross country
to visit some fine old places located at Ripon. And they also wished to
visit York, which was a few miles from Penrith.

That night, the moment Jimmy was washed and brushed, he took up his post
at the foot of the stairs where the girls would have to come down. One
after another of the party descended but Polly failed to appear. Eleanor
smiled and took his arm to lure him away, but he shook off her hand just
as a petulant child might.

Still smiling, Eleanor walked away and joined her friends in the parlor.
Soon after that, they went to the dining-room for dinner, leaving Jimmy
still on guard waiting for Polly.

It was a merry party that enjoyed dinner that evening, but Jimmy took no
interest in it, as he still watched for the coming of his lady—as he
called her to himself. During a lull in the conversation in the
dining-room, Jimmy distinctly heard a voice telling of exploits in the
Rocky Mountains, when Eleanor spent the Summer at Pebbly Pit.

Jimmy started! It was Polly’s own voice! But how did she get down while
he stood watching so carefully?

He hurried to the door of the room and looked in. There she sat,
entertaining the whole assembly, with her stories—and he had been left
out in the hall all that time! He could have wept!

When he took a seat at the table, everyone expressed the deepest concern
for him. “Was he ill?” “Did he feel badly about the fine for speeding?”
and many other questions to which he gave no reply.

When they left the room, Jimmy jumped up also, and just as Polly was
leaving, he caught her hand.

“Won’t you let me see you alone this evening—please?”

Polly lifted her head a bit higher—if that were possible—and deigned
to glance at him. “What for?” snapped she.

“I—I want to tell you—oh, just give me a moment!”

“Very well—one moment right here! Let the others leave.”

“No—no, not in this public room. Somewhere where I can speak——”
begged Jimmy.

“Here or nowhere!”

“Oh, Polly, Polly! Why are you so cruel?” began Jimmy, as he forced a
look of agony into his eyes.

“Come now—that will do from you, little boy! If that is what you have
to say, then just keep it. I’ve no time to throw away,” said Polly, in a
voice like steel, and then she drew aside her dress and walked away.

Jimmy stood disconsolate, wishing he dared commit suicide before her
eyes, and make her repent those unkind words. But he was awfully hungry,
and he thought better of suicide so he went back to finish his late
dinner.

Eleanor saw him, later, as he left the dining-room and, with the imp of
mischief uppermost in her mind, waylaid him and spent the evening
talking of nothing but Polly—her beauty, her accomplishments, and her
tremendous wealth that no one as yet, had been able to compute.

Had Jimmy any doubt of who his soul-mate was, before, that talk settled
it. He was now determined to have Polly, even if he had to steal her and
keep her locked up until she consented to his offer of marriage.

The farce now amused everyone but Angela and Mrs. Alexander. Jimmy was
so openly wild about Polly that he acted like a possessed idiot rather
than a young man with a grain of sense. If Polly had fawned upon him, he
might have wearied of her company, but because she scorned him so
heartily and showed it plainly, he felt all the more attracted to her.

Mrs. Alexander snubbed Polly whenever she scorned Jimmy; and Angela made
much of the lady because she showed her partisanship for the young man,
so openly. Thus the two, Angela and Mrs. Alexander came closer together
because of the common bond—Jimmy.

When Mr. Fabian suggested that all go to see the Minster of York, Angela
and Mrs. Alexander refused. Jimmy saw the look Polly cast at him, and
murmured something about drowning his sorrow. But he failed to say
whether it would be in the river or in home-brew.

They viewed the ancient place and Mr. Fabian remarked: “It was here that
the greatest disaster that ever befell man occurred in 306 A.D.”

“Why, I never heard of it—what was it?” asked Mr. Ashby.

“Perhaps you, like many others, never thought of it as a disaster,”
replied Mr. Fabian. “Because I speak of the proclamation issued here by
the Romans, that made Constantine an Emperor in 306. This emperor,
understanding the tremendous advantages of a political nature, if he
could gain full power and control of the religion that was gaining such
an ascendancy with the people—the Christ Truth that healed the sick,
cured sin, and raised the very dead, as it _did_ until three hundred
years after Jesus ascended—bribed a few of the disloyal Christians to
act in concord with him.

“For the reward of place and power conceded to them, the unscrupulous
Christians sold out their faith and brethren to this Emperor. He, wily
and crafty in diplomacy and politics, sent out word, far and wide, that
Christianity would thenceforth be protected by him.

“In this place, that proclamation was hailed with a great celebration,
and Christianity became the ruling religion here. But the power of the
Spirit, as used by Christ Jesus, vanished when pomp and politics
supplanted it, and soon the gift of healing was lost until recent
years.”

“That is very interesting, Fabian,” said Mr. Ashby, while the girls
listened to this unusual information, eagerly. “I have sometimes
wondered why it was that the power demonstrated by Christ Jesus could
not have been used by his followers.”

“It was, you see, until Constantine misused the gift. All such who use
it for place or power will lose it,” said Mr. Fabian, earnestly.

“How did you ever learn about it, Prof?” asked Eleanor eagerly.

“The records of the entire transaction and the courageous though fearful
stand the Early Christians took to defend their religion, can be read in
the books called ‘The Anti-Nicean Fathers.’ There one can learn how
wonderful were the cures and the over-coming of death for all who
accepted Christianity, up to the time when it became defiled by greed
and avarice and earthly taint.

“But, to me, the saddest part of all that sad event, is the fact that
mankind, today, believes it _has_ the Truth as taught and practised by
Christ Jesus. Whereas they only have the form and farce of it, as it was
changed from the pure spiritual power to that counterfeit endorsed by
Constantine. And for this subterfuge, the world honors that unscrupulous
politician!”

Mr. Fabian was so incensed at the thought of all the act meant to the
world, that he stalked out of the Minster and went on silently, followed
almost as silently by the others. They were all thinking earnestly of
what he had said, and everyone pondered on what _might have been_ had
Constantine never interfered with the Truth.

After leaving York, the cars went through Selby, and stopped at Doncast
long enough to give the tourists time to visit the gargoyled church.
Then they sped on to Sheffield where Mr. Fabian showed the girls how the
famous Sheffield Plate was made.

The next stopping place was Haddon Hall, the home and burial spot of
Dorothy Vernon. The country in this part of England is wild and ruggedly
beautiful, with good roads for automobiles. So the cars sped smoothly
along to Derby, where the collectors had dreams of old Crown Derby ware,
but found nothing to materialize those visions.

Jimmy had been so annoying with his attentions to Polly, with his
hang-dog expression, as he followed her everywhere, that the others
began to feel impatient about it, instead of laughing as at a good joke
as they had done. Finally Mr. Fabian spoke to him severely.

“See here, James, I can make allowances for a young man of your type,
naturally, but when you make a beastly nuisance of yourself, I must
interfere. Now leave Polly alone, and don’t annoy her further with your
transitory love. Throw it away on some girl who wants it.”

But Mrs. Fabian felt that a better cure might have been applied. “If
Polly would only hang on his arm and tell him how she loves him, he will
drop her like an old shoe.”

“I don’t believe it! He has a double-edged axe to grind, and there’s no
use getting Polly in wrong, in case he wanted to get her and what she
owns,” returned Mr. Fabian, wisely.

Jimmy had not the character that would give perseverance and persistence
for any problem, so he finally lost interest in the affair he had
created for himself with Polly. Mrs. Alexander felt greatly elated when
she saw him casting eyes at Dodo, oftener than he had in the past. And
to show her appreciation of this, she quietly urged another roll of
bills into his willing palm.

Perhaps it was the understanding that Polly and Dodo had had with each
other that had caught Jimmy’s attention. To spare Polly any further
annoyance, Dodo had offered to divert the silly affair to herself, if
possible. So she dressed in her finest, and flirted with Jimmy, and
tried in every way to attract his eyes to herself. And it was not
difficult to do, either.

Before they started for London, having done the points of interest at
Coventry, Kenilworth, and so on to Warwick and Stratford-on-Avon, Jimmy
was recovering from his desire to die, and was taking notice of Dodo. By
the time they reached Stratford he was able to act any lover’s part in
the Shakespearian plays, provided Dodo was the lady-love in the scene.

His companions, excepting Angela and Dodo’s mother, were out of all
patience with him. He was such a weak-hearted lover who had no idea of
the first principles of the game, that they had very little to say to
him the last days of the trip.

Dodo bravely endured his soft speeches and smilingly accepted the
bon-bons and blossoms her mother’s money enabled him to shower upon her,
but when they reached London, and the time came when the association
could be severed, she ruthlessly did so.

The Americans stopped at one of the best hotels, while Angela and Jimmy
drove to their home to get the directions left there for them by Sir
James.

Shortly after everyone had decided to rest at the hotel after the long
ride that day, Jimmy came rushing in to see the men.

“We found these letters at the house, so Angela made me come right in
with them. Of course, you will all accept!”

There was a special invitation for each family, inviting them down to
Sir James’ country place for a week or two. When Mr. Alexander read and
passed the letter on to his wife, she was so pleased that she could
hardly wait to hear what the others would say.

“Very sorry, Jimmy, but I am booked for business interviews from now on
until I sail for the States, again,” explained Mr. Ashby, answering for
his family as well as for himself.

“And we plan to leave London very shortly, Jimmy, to tour the Continent,
as you know,” added Mr. Fabian.

“But we will go down with you, Jimmy, and thank your dear father, again
and again,” exclaimed Mrs. Alexander, sweetly.

“How do you know we will?” demanded Mr. Alexander; “I don’t want to be
bothered with style and society when I can have a nice time in my car
touring over Europe.”

“We’ll have to go for a week, at least,” said Mrs. Alexander,
positively. “There are many reasons why.” Then turning to Jimmy she
added: “So tell your dear parents that we will be pleased to accept,
Jimmy.”

Dodo hurried from the parlor where this meeting took place, and Jimmy
could not find her when he tried to have a few words with her, alone.

“Never mind, now, Jimmy,” whispered Mrs. Alexander as she followed him
from the room. “You will have Dodo all to yourself when we get down to
Osgood Hall.”

Rolling his eyes dramatically and sighing with joy as he shook the plump
bejewelled hands of his expectant mother-in-law, Jimmy hurried away to
rejoin his sister Angela in the car.



CHAPTER VII—DODO’S ELOPEMENT


“Dodo, your mother says we got to go with her to visit the Osgoods,” Mr.
Alexander informed his daughter, early the next morning at breakfast.

“Well, I won’t! so there! I’m going with Polly and her friends, to
Paris. I just guess I can take up decorating if I want to, and Ma can’t
stop me!” Dodo was really angry.

“I’ve been thinking, Dodo, that if we don’t go down with Ma, she can’t
go there alone. Now she wants to go the worst way, but she won’t care so
much whether we stay on or not—as long as she can hold on to the
invitation.”

Dodo looked up quickly at her father’s tone. “What do you mean, Pa?”

“Well, you see, we plan to go down in the car. We can carry all the
trunks and other traps, that way. But going down there doesn’t say we’ve
got to stay, does it?”

“N-o-o,” agreed Dodo, beginning to see light.

“Well then, getting Ma down there, and you and I clearing out again, is
all that I want to do. She will stay on and we will fly to Paris. How is
that?”

Dodo laughed merrily at the plot, but she still had to hear further
particulars. For instance, how did Pa expect to get away from the others
without suspicion, and on what plea would he get back to London?

“Say now, Do—you don’t suspect me of telling to them people all I
expect to do, do you? No, I’ll just wait for night, and then you and I
will elope together.”

“Elope! Oh, Pa, how funny!” laughed Dodo, clapping her hands.

“Yeh, easy as pie, Do! Now listen to me. Ma gets all nicely settled the
first night, and you have your little room by yourself. I go out for a
smoke with my friend pipe—all by myself. I see you trying to steal away
with your bundles, and a MAN! I hear a motor purr, and I see you and
that man get in a car—and off you tear. I foller you to London, and
keep right on your heels to Paris. There I catch you, and send word back
to Ma to ease her mind.

“When she hears that you eloped with a _man_, and I went after, to catch
you, before you married someone we don’t know about, she will be so glad
that she’ll forgive me. And she won’t dare say a word to you, because
that will spoil her little game for Jimmy, see?

“The Osgoods will make her stay on with them, if they really plan to
land our million, because they will need some link by which to win you
back, see? If they think more of their _family_ than of our money,
they’ll let Ma go and join us in Paris.

“Now, Dodo, what you think of your Pa’s little scheme?” laughed the
little man, as he rubbed his hands together in glee.

“Say, Pa! It’s a shame such a wonder as you should be hidden to the
world,” exclaimed Dodo, admiringly.

“As long as it hides you and me until the storm blows over, will be
enough to satisfy me,” retorted Mr. Alexander.

At this moment, the Fabians and Ashbys entered the room, and Mr.
Alexander winked at his daughter for secrecy on the subject they had
been discussing. Soon after the others sat down at the breakfast table,
Mrs. Alexander joined them, and the conversation turned to their
parting.

“When do you plan to leave London, Mrs. Alexander?” asked Mr. Ashby,
politely.

“Tomorrow, I hope. I want to fit Dodo up in some decent gowns before I
take her to such a fine place as Osgood Hall.”

“When do you leave, Mr. Ashby?” asked Dodo.

“I expect to take Ruth and my wife down to my cousin’s, at Brighton,
this afternoon. Then I have to go to different towns, you know, to
collect things for my customers in the States.”

“And you, Polly?” Dodo turned to the girl she liked best of those she
had met that summer.

“We are going to remain in London for a few days more, and see the
Museums and galleries, then go on to Paris.”

“I wish I was going with you,” said Dodo. “Maybe we can meet in Paris,
soon, and I can go on with you-all to learn more of antiques and
decorating.”

“That must be as your father and mother say, Dodo,” Mr. Fabian now
remarked.

“I always said Dodo could do as she liked,” quickly said Mr. Alexander.

“But my daughter will be with me down at Osgood Hall, so you won’t be
likely to cross each other’s path again, in Europe,” declared Mrs.
Alexander, smilingly, although her tone expressed her determination.

The Ashbys left that afternoon, and Mrs. Alexander took Dodo shopping
for more clothes. Then, in the morning, the car was brought to the
hotel, and the girls went with Dodo to see her off.

“I sure feel as if I want to cry,” whimpered Dodo, pretending to dab her
eyes.

“We-all will miss you awfully, Dodo. You’re a good pal and we had _such_
good times with you!” sighed Polly.

“Let’s hope we _will_ meet soon, in spite of Ma’s sayin’ our paths
wouldn’t cross each other again,” grinned Mr. Alexander.

“Ebeneezer, do get started, won’t you? Here we are sitting and holding
up everyone else!” snapped Mrs. Alexander.

So the car drove off, with Dodo waving her hand as long as she could see
her friends.

The Fabians and Polly and Eleanor visited the Victoria and Albert Museum
that day, finding many wonderful pieces to admire. Among bronzes,
ivories, tapestries and other art objects, Mr. Fabian pointed out
various bits of costly and famous work.

There was a reading-desk of the 15th century; several Florentine coffers
with fine carved panels; a beautiful cabinet decorated with Marquetry of
the South German type, that hailed back to the 16th century. And in the
Pavilion, Polly found a lovely dressing-table of satin-wood from the
18th century that reminded her of the piece she had bought down in
Sussex.

The second day at the Museum—for it took several days to do it
thoroughly—they visited the rooms where all kinds of furniture are
exhibited, from stately William and Mary chairs down to the tiniest of
foot-stools and ottomans.

They were passing an odd group of chairs when Eleanor laughingly drew
their attention to two. “Just look at that fat old roistering chair
conversing with the thin straight-laced prig of a side-chair, next to
him.”

Her description was so true of the two chairs, that her companions
laughed.

“Yes,” said Mr. Fabian, “the stiff-backed puritanical chair is telling
the fat old rascal what a coarse bourgeois manner he shows in such good
company.”

“Daddy, how could such a clumsy chair ever get into this famous museum?”
asked Nancy.

“Because it can claim antiquity,” replied her father. “In early English
times, when Squires and over-lords ruled the land, they spent most of
their time in drinking and gambling. This chair is a type of them, is it
not?”

“It certainly is,” agreed the girls.

“So you will find almost every period of furniture. They tell, truer
than one thinks at the time, of the type of people that makes and uses
them. You will find effeminate pieces in the reign of the Louis’, and
hard-looking furniture in German history. Our own American furniture
tells, better than all else, of the mixing of nations in the
‘melting-pot.’ Our furniture has no type, or style, individually its
own.

“The so-called sales advertised in department stores are symbolic of
what Americans are satisfied with: hodge-podge ready-made factory
pieces, quickly glued together, and badly finished. As long as it is
showy, and can demand a high price, the average American is satisfied.
And that is the great error we interior decorators have to correct—we
have to educate the people away from confusion and into art and beauty.”

Having seen the best examples of old furniture on exhibition in the
Museum, Mr. Fabian prepared to go. As they walked quietly through the
corridor to the main entrance, he said impressively: “I consider you
girls have seen some of the best products to be found in the world
today. The results of many ideals and hard work.

“You must know, that a good ideal thought plans a perfect chair or
table; and that thought eventually expresses itself in the object it
sees in mind. If the object is a thing of beauty and a joy forever, it
elevates the whole world just that much. If it falls short of the
artist’s ideals and hopes, he must do it over again, sooner or later, to
reach the perfect model in mind. Thus he expresses God (good) in his
ideals. If he refuses to try again to perfect his work, he knows he has
failed utterly and he has nothing but the result of lowering his
ideal—failure and deformity.”

As he ceased speaking, Mr. Fabian found the girls were intensely
interested in his little lecture, and he smiled as Polly cried: “Oh,
tell us some more along that line, please!”

“Well, I wish to impress upon you that in your work you _must_ express
the highest ideal or be a failure. Now God, Good, is Mind, and this Mind
must be expressed in countless manifestations to be seen by us.
_Unexpressed_ it is a non-entity, and does not exist. Art and beauty are
forms of ideal manifestation, and this manifestation objectifies itself
in divan, lamp, rug or ornament, for you.

“To be a perfect thing, it must have God, or Mind, as its Creator, but
this God uses you, His child, as the channel through which He works. If
you obey that idealistic desire and work the best you know how, God
sends added understanding and assistance to help you perfect the object,
thus it becomes good and true. Now evil works, too, but just in the
opposite directions; hence, if you give in to greed, avarice,
dishonesty, envy, or the multitude of weapons evil always has on hand to
tempt you with, you inevitably must produce an inharmonious result, and
the repelling effects that go to cause criticism and dissatisfaction
with all who thereafter look at the object.

“That is why that roistering armchair displeases a true and idealistic
artist. It was not produced by a true and high-minded individual who
hoped to bring forth a model of line and color, but who had only in
mind, at the time, the production of a stout piece of furniture that
would withstand the tests and offer a seat to the drunkards of that
time; and would also resist the fierce quarrels and fights so common
between gamblers who frequented the taverns of that day.”

“I wish to goodness I knew as much as you do about all these interesting
things, Mr. Fabian!” declared Polly, yearningly.

“That is the sweetest praise a man can have, Polly dear; to wish to
stand in my shoes in experience,” smiled Mr. Fabian. “But the very
desire when truly entertained, will bring about the thing you so
earnestly desire. For you know, ‘Desire is prayer.’”

Mrs. Fabian smiling at her husband, now said, “Why not add a benediction
to this little sermonette, dear?” Then turning to the girls, she quoted:
“‘Give up imperfect models and illusive ideals; and so let us have one
God (Good), One Mind, and that one perfect, producing His own models of
excellence.’”

That evening, the clerk at the hotel office handed Mr. Fabian a card.

“Why, how strange!” remarked he, glancing again, at the pasteboard in
his hand.

“What is it?” asked Nancy, trying to look over his shoulder.

“The Alexanders were here. As we were out they left a card saying that
they were going on to Paris, at once, and would see us at the hotel
where we said we would stop.”

“How very strange!” exclaimed Mrs. Fabian, while the girls wondered what
had happened to so suddenly change the minds of their friends.

“I never heard of anything like that. One day Mrs. Alexander was crazy
to visit the Osgoods, and now they run away and are as crazy to reach
Paris,” said Eleanor.

“I’m glad for Dodo’s sake. The poor girl didn’t want to go to Osgood
Hall, at all, and I know how she felt about Jimmy,” said Polly.

“Maybe that’s what caused all the fuss. Dodo put down her foot and
refused him outright, and that made his folks too angry to forgive her,”
said Eleanor, romancing.

“Well, now she can go along with us, can’t she Daddy, and get all the
information she wants, from visiting the places we go to.”

“With her parents’ consent, I should like to help Dodo to a higher plane
for herself,” returned Mr. Fabian.

As they started again for their rooms, Polly laughed at a sudden memory.
“Oh, maybe Ebeneezer’s poisonous black pipe played such havoc at the
first dinner at Osgood Hall, that the guests couldn’t stand it, and he
was sent away with his friend.”

Everyone laughed merrily at Polly’s picture of Mr. Alexander and his old
friend pipe.

The next day after the Fabian party returned from the last sight-seeing
in London, a wire was handed the man of the group. He opened it hastily,
and read aloud: “Send word when you leave for Paris. Will meet you at
train with car. Alexander.”

“Now that is really nice of the little man, I say,” added Mr. Fabian, as
he handed the message to his wife.

“Then you’d better wire him at once, for we plan to go tomorrow,”
advised Mrs. Fabian.

Everything had been attended to in London, and the girls took a farewell
look at the city as they sped away to Dover where they expected to take
the Channel Boat for Havre.

Much has been said about the rough crossing of this little strip of
water, but the girls found it as quiet as a mill-pond, and the steamer
skimmed the waves like a sea-gull. The ride in the dusty train, from
Havre to Paris, was the most unpleasant part of the trip. But upon
leaving the train at Paris, they saw Dodo and her father anxiously
scanning the faces that passed by.

“Here we are, Dodo!” called Polly, eagerly, as she jumped forward and
caught her friend’s hand.

“Dear me! I’m as glad to see you-all as I can be,” cried Dodo, shaking
everyone eagerly by the hand.

“Yeh, you’re a sight for sore eyes,” remarked her father.

“We’ve only been in Paris a day and night, but Pa hasn’t any French with
him, and I’ve only got a few words that I am always using mistakenly, so
we’re happy to have someone who can speak and understand the lingo”
laughed Dodo, happily.

They all got into the luxurious car that had carried them so many miles
over England, and as they sank down upon the soft cushions, Polly said:
“An automobile really is nicer than a hard old steam-tram.”

Mrs. Fabian, always polite, asked: “How is your mother, Dodo?”

“Last time we saw her she was first class, thank you.”

“She may be having high-sterics now, however,” added Mr. Alexander,
chucklingly.

“What do you mean? Isn’t she well?” asked Mrs. Fabian.

“We _hope_ she is well, Mrs. Fabian, but we left her at Osgood Hall,
while we eloped to Paris,” laughed Dodo.

“Eloped! What _are_ you talking about, child?” demanded Mrs. Fabian,
while the girls sat up, eager to hear a story.

“Pa and I just _had_ to elope, you know, to save our lives. We waited
until Ma got nicely settled with the family, then we got in the car and
ran away. We haven’t heard, yet, in answer to our telegram from here, so
we’re frightened to pieces lest Ma packs up and comes after us,”
explained Dodo.

But this fear was quieted when they all went into the hotel and the
clerk handed Mr. Alexander a message. He opened it with trembling
fingers, and suddenly sat down in a great chair.

“Goodness me, Pa! What is it? Is she coming for us?” cried Dodo, in an
agony of suspense.

“No—that’s why I caved in, Dodo. The relief was so turrible!” sighed
the little man.

Everyone felt sorry for these two, but the situation was so funny that
they laughed in spite of their trying not to.

“Yes, laugh,” giggled Dodo, “that’s just what Pa and I did when we got
well away on the road to London. When I think of how they must have
looked when they read the note I pinned on my cushion for Ma, I have to
laugh myself.”

“What was in the note, Do?” asked Eleanor, curiously.

“I said I was eloping with the man I loved best on earth—which was
true, you know. And I knew I could never be happy with a title, as long
as I loved this everyday man. That was true, too. So I was fleeing with
him, to Paris, where I hoped to meet her some day and ask her
forgiveness.”

The girls laughed heartily at Dodo’s note, and Polly said she was
awfully clever to think it out that way.

“Oh, but it was Pa who planned it all. And when we got to Paris, he
wired back to Ma, saying: ‘Got Dodo in time. Never laid eyes on that
young man, but will keep her safe with me. Better not try to join us
yet, she may not want to be reminded of the good home and young man she
ran away from.’”

“And this is what Ma wired back,” said Mr. Alexander, sitting up to read
the message. “Just read Dodo’s note about her elopement. Glad you are
after her, Eben. Don’t let her marry any man, while there is a chance of
Jimmy. Maggie.”

“So now, folks, Ma is safe at Osgood Hall, and we are here, with our
car, with you. What’s to hinder us from taking you all over Europe in
the old machine, eh?” eagerly asked Mr. Alexander.

“Your offer is very attractive, Mr. Alex,” returned Mr. Fabian, “but I
am not in a position to accept it without consulting further with my
wife and the girls.”

“Why not? Here’s a car and a fine chauffeur for you-all to use as you
like, and you admit that you’re going to visit the big cities of Europe,
and that means travel in some sort of way.”

“Oh yes, that part of the plan is as you say,” admitted Mr. Fabian, “but
there is more to it than mere travelling. You must understand that Mrs.
Alexander has a claim on that car, too, and I don’t see how we can tour
away from Paris in her car without her knowledge and willing consent.”

“Oh, as for that!” retorted the little husband, “she’d be only too glad
to hear Dodo was safe with you folks on a tour. Diden’ I tell you-all
that she’s happy where she is, and nothin’ can tear her away from the
Osgoods, at present?”

“Besides that, I want to stay with you-all,” added Dodo, plaintively.
“So that I can get more knowledge of decorating, because I’ve made up my
mind, once and for all time, to go into a business as you girls propose
doing.”

Mr. Fabian yearned to encourage the girl in her ambition, but he was
adamant when it came to using the Alexander car under the circumstances.
All the persuasions of father and daughter could not move him from what
he considered to be a just decision.

There the matter was left for the time being, but Mr. Fabian was not so
narrow-minded that he refused to drive about Paris with the little man,
on the different occasions when he and his party were invited to go.

The day after their arrival at the hotel in Paris, Polly said to Dodo:
“Did your wedding-chest arrive here safely?”

“Yes, it came, and it’s gone again.”

“Gone again! Where?” said surprised Polly.

“Gone to Ruth—for her birthday gift,” giggled Dodo.

“Not really! Why how wonderful for Ruth,” exclaimed the girls in a
chorus.

Dodo smiled. “Don’t you remember what I said to Ruth about a little
gift, the day we drove away from that old shop?”

“I remember, but no one dreamed you meant that _chest_,” replied Polly.

“I made up my mind about it, the moment I found how Ma got it from under
Ruth’s nose. That’s why I made Ma say the chest was my very own—so she
could not come back at me and say I had no right to give it away.”

“Dodo, you are splendid in your generous way of giving. If only everyone
was like you!” cried Polly, giving her a hug.

“There! That hug means more to me than a wedding-chest,” laughed Dodo,
pink with pleasure.

When Mrs. Fabian heard of the gift to Ruth she caught the girl’s hand
and said: “Dodo, Ruth will be so happy, I know.”

“Dear me, you-all make as much fuss over that chest as if I had to earn
the money for it. I can’t forget that we have more cash than we can ever
spend honestly,” declared Dodo.

When Mrs. Fabian told her husband about the gift and Dodo’s point of
view about wealth, it had more influence with him than anyone could have
thought for. He felt that Dodo and her father were really worth-while
characters, but there was a roughness about them that needed some
polishing before the purity and beauty of their souls would shine forth
resplendently and make others appreciate them.

The streets of Paris were anything but good for motoring because of the
broken cobbles, and deep ruts in the roads. The disagreeable odors, too,
created by poor sanitation in the city, caused Polly and her chums to
cover their noses many a time.

“I like the wonders of Paris, but I can’t say that I like the people and
the everyday annoyances,” remarked Polly, one day.

“The shops are beautiful!” said Eleanor.

“And the signs—they are marvellous,” added Dodo.

Mr. Fabian laughed at the individual tastes, and Mrs. Fabian said:
“Well, we can’t get away any too soon to please me.”

“‘Them’s our sentiments, too,’” laughed Polly.

“I’ll hate to leave the Bohemian Restaurants,” sighed Nancy. “I always
did like to sit under a tall palm and watch the people parade by, so
near me that I could reach out a hand and catch hold of them.”

“Now that all but Mr. Alex and I have had a say I’ll add, that I like
Paris because of the marvellous collections for artists to visit, and
profit by,” remarked Mr. Fabian.

“An’ I like the gay town because no one bothers you. You can smoke a
pipe, or do any durn thing without someone’s kickin’,” added little Mr.
Alexander.

His opinion drew a general laughter from the group.

From the first day of the arrival of Mr. Fabian and his party, little
Mr. Alexander had daily exchanged messages with his wife, hoping in that
way, to receive one that would convince Mr. Fabian that he must make use
of the car for the tour of the Continent. But he could not read his
wife’s confused statements and feel that the right one had yet arrived
for him to use in this need.

The day the girls started for the Louvre, Mr. Alexander and his car had
been refused because, they said, they would be busy in the Galleries all
day and could not ask him to sit outside waiting for their appearance.

So they left him sitting at a writing table in the hotel, and started
for the Louvre. As they approached the grounds of the famous museum,
they were thrilled with the magnificence of the place.

“It is considered the finest museum in the world, and contains rarest
national collections of art and antiquity that date back as far as
Philippe Auguste, in 1180,” explained Mr. Fabian. “Philippe Auguste
built a fortress here to protect the walls of his hunting-box where it
touched the river. This old foundation can be seen by visitors on
certain days, and I arranged so that we would come on one of the days.”

So the girls followed their escort down to the cellars, where the old
walls were seen. But they were not deeply interested in foundations with
no claim to beauty or value for the world, so they soon returned to the
Halls where the antiques were on exhibition.

To reach the Rotonde D’ Apollon, Mr. Fabian led the girls past Galleries
filled with paintings, sculptures, ivories and other art treasures. Then
having seen these collections, they passed through a seventh century
iron gateway brought from the Chateau de Maisons, and entered the
magnificent room which was sixty-one metres long and was built in the
time of Henri IV. In this galerie, as in others following it, there were
shown such placques, vases, dishes, and other objects of art, that the
beholders were silent with admiration.

Beyond the Salle des Bronzes Antiques, where very fine examples of
bronzes were to be seen, the girls visited five rooms containing 17th
and early 18th century furniture. Here they also found several exquisite
Gobelin and Mortlake tapestries.

That evening the hotel clerk handed Mr. Fabian a legal looking envelope,
which, upon being opened, proved to contain the passes necessary for
visitors to enter and see the famous tapestries woven by the Gobelin
Society.

“Ah! Now you girls will see something worth while,” remarked Mr. Fabian,
holding the slips of paper above his head. “I have here the ‘open
sesame’ to the National Manufactory of the Gobelins which still is
housed in the grounds of Louis the XVIth. There we may feast our eyes on
some of the examples of weaving that has made this Society so famous.”

“When will we go?” asked Polly, eagerly.

“Tomorrow, the passes say.”

Everyone expressed an eagerness to see these looms and the method of
making the tapestries, so it was planned that the entire party should
go, excepting Mr. Alexander who preferred a drive in his car after
leaving his friends at their destination.



CHAPTER VIII—DODO MEETS ANOTHER “TITLE”


The next day they visited the Gobelin Tapestries. There was but one word
to express the wonderful work exhibited—and that was “Exquisite.” Some
of these tapestries are “worth a crown.”

“It doesn’t seem possible that anyone could weave such delicate
lace-like patterns with mere threads and human hands,” said Polly.

“And such colorings, too! Did you ever see such green velvety lichen as
seems growing on those old grey monoliths?” added Eleanor.

“See the tiny dash of red that is necessary, given by the pigeon berry
growing in that lichen,” remarked Polly.

The others said nothing, because they were so impressed by the beauty of
the complete picture that the details failed to reach them. Then Mr.
Fabian told the history of the Gobelins.

“In its foundation year there were two hundred and fifty weavers engaged
in weaving these marvellous tapestries. But that number has dwindled,
today, to sixty. And there used to be an annual appropriation of two
hundred thousand francs that today has dwindled, also; to fifty thousand
francs.

“The famous old Gobelins owned by the State, and exhibited at the
Museums and at public buildings in Paris, are today worth fortunes. Few
are owned by the Trade and such as are are the more modern pieces that
date back to Napoleon III.

“Many pieces of rare Gobelins were sold because of royal vicissitudes
previous to 1870, but since then no tapestries have been available to
the public. This enhances the value of any Gobelin that was sold to
assist the Treasury in 1852.

“One of the most famous series ever produced, known as ‘Portières of the
Gods,’ consists of eight pieces, representing the four seasons and the
four elements. Each design is personified by one of the gods or
goddesses of Olympus. This series has been repeated until there are two
hundred and thirty-seven sets that left the looms.

“When one of these portières of the gods appear in a sale there is most
lively bidding for it, and prices soar higher than any other Gobelin
usually brings.

“The ‘Don Quixote’ series of five pieces, is perhaps the most famous of
all Gobelins recently sold. To show the keen appreciation of such
tapestry, the price paid at a sale of such was six hundred thousand
francs.”

As Mr. Fabian concluded, Polly laughingly remarked: “I wonder if Nolla
and I will ever reach that degree in decorating where a customer will
commission us to go and buy such a tapestry.”

“Of course you will! As soon as I marry that title that Ma is hunting up
for me, I’ll give you the order for the whole set,” laughed Dodo.

“Let’s hope we may have to wait forever, then, if the commission depends
on your misery,” retorted Eleanor.

After leaving the Gobelins, Mr. Fabian took his party to some of the old
curio shops in Paris, where one can spend many interesting hours—if one
likes antiques.

That evening Mr. Alexander insisted upon their going, as his guests, to
one of the famous cafés. And as they sat at one of the way-side tables
watching the stream of pleasure-seekers go past, Dodo suddenly drew the
attention of her companions to a man who was strolling by.

“Now there’s what I call a really handsome Frenchman,” whispered she.

“Why, if it isn’t Count Chalmys!” exclaimed Nancy, jumping up to catch
hold of the gentleman’s arm.

“What’s that! Anuther title?” asked Mr. Alexander with a frown.

“Yes, but don’t worry, Pa,” laughed Dodo, encouragingly. “If Ma’s not
about there’s no danger for you and me.”

The others laughed at Mr. Alexander’s evident concern and Dodo’s instant
rejoinder to his question. Then Nancy brought the gentleman over to meet
her friends. He shook hands with Mrs. Fabian and then turned to
acknowledge the introductions.

“This is Miss Polly Brewster and Miss Eleanor Maynard whom I told you
about, when they discovered the gold mine on the mountains in
Colorado—you remember?”

“Ah, to be sure!” responded the Count.

“And Miss Dorothy Alexander from Denver, Mr. Alexander her father, and
my father, Mr. Fabian. This is Count Chalmys, of Northern Italy,
friends.”

Everyone acknowledged the introduction, and the Count seemed over-joyed
to meet so many of “Mees Nancy’s” friends. He sat down with the group
and soon led the conversation. Mr. Alexander sat glowering at him but it
was difficult to read the little man’s thoughts.

The Count seemed more attracted to Polly than to the other girls, but
then he had heard of Rainbow Cliffs and that Gold Mine, thought Dodo. On
the walk to the hotel, he mentioned a famous collector’s sale which
would begin the following day at one of the Auction Galleries.

“Oh, are you interested in antiques, then?” asked Polly, eagerly.

“I like paintings—old masters and such things. I never lose an
opportunity to secure one when it is offered for sale. My palace, near
Venice, is a museum of paintings. You must visit it when you tour
Italy,” responded the Count.

Mr. Fabian now asked: “Is it possible for us to secure an entrance to
this sale, Count?”

“I can easily secure tickets and a catalogue for you, Monsieur Fabian.
Will the young ladies be pleased to attend, also?”

“Oh yes, it is for their interests that I would like to attend, and
explain various objects that might be found in the collection.”

“Then leave it to me, Monsieur. I will arrange everything for their
convenience.”

The Count left the Americans at the hotel door, and said good-night. As
they all walked laughingly through the main lobby, the clerk sent a page
after them with a cablegram. It was for Mr. Alexander and he felt a
tremor of apprehension as he took it.

He turned to the others and said (exactly as he had heard Mr. Fabian do)
“Pardon me, whiles I read what the missus has to say now.” Then he
quickly opened the envelope.

“Well, that settles my vacation!” exclaimed he.

“What’s the matter, Pa?” asked Dodo, anxiously.

“Ma’s gone and got that roadster for two—it is a Packard the same as
our other car, but now she wants to tour around, and she thinks she will
bring Jimmy over to Paris for a little jaunt.”

“Jimmy! Good gracious, why will she have to bring that child with her?”
complained Dodo, poutingly.

“She wouldn’t bring him, Dodo, if she thought there were better
‘handles’ to be had on the Continent,” laughed Eleanor.

“That’s a good idea! Pa, we’ll wire Ma to leave Jimmy there, as she’ll
have more fun selecting her future son-in-law from the crowd of titles
she can have for the asking, over here,” eagerly suggested Dodo.

Mr. Alexander seemed to take the suggestion seriously, for he returned:
“I’ll step over, now, and send a word that will keep that little Osgood
boy at home with his folks.”

No one knew what Mr. Alexander said in his message, but the next day a
reply came, saying: “I will do as you say, and not come over at once.
Try and arrange everything satisfactorily for us.”

Even Dodo could not coax her father to tell what he had said, but it was
evident that Mrs. Alexander felt satisfied to remain in England and
leave other matters in the hands of her spouse.

The Count called on the tourists at the hotel, that morning, with the
tickets of admission to the sale, and Mr. Alexander drove them to the
Gallery, and left them there for the day.

They were given good seats in the front row of buyers, and the moment
the sale began everyone was interested in the collection. That day,
Polly secured a Gothic wedding-chest with ornamented and beautifully
carved sides and lid. Mr. Fabian bought two panels from a XVI century
door which he planned to use for two table-ends for his library table.

Eleanor and Dodo bought a few smaller trifles, but that day’s sale
brought out such a conglomeration of beautiful objects, as well as
dreadful imitations, that Mr. Fabian warned the girls about bidding
injudiciously.

“This sale offers a fine opportunity of study for us, girls, but let me
advise you before you bid on anything. I want you to look well at
everything put up, and tell me why it is good, or what makes it
impossible. In this way, you will learn a great deal, even though you
may not care to buy the articles we criticise.”

Then he turned to Dodo and added: “One cannot train his eyes to
recognize art and beauty at once, you see. Your eyes may criticise and
your hands may accomplish art-work, but the inspiration that truly
expresses art comes from Mind alone. Thus the finer and more harmonious
the thoughts of the mentality that thinks, the more beautiful and
perfect will be his achievement in any line of work.

“Take our own line, for instance—interior decorating. The genius is one
who has sympathy, tact, good sense, and practicality, _combined_ with
his talent to select, assort, group and arrange the numerous objects
necessary to create an atmosphere.

“Wall-coverings and hangings, floor-coverings, pictures,
lighting-fixtures and trim of rooms, are fully as important a feature in
an effect, as the furniture of the room, for it all goes to make the
complete picture of a home.

“No novice can win laurels in this line, Dodo. But one who earnestly
studies and conscientiously applies the valuable experiences of other
successful artists of the past, will win. That is why I wanted my girls
to see the collections in Europe—to benefit them by the successes and
hard work of others, whose work of past times is still found to be the
best of its kind, and now are on free exhibition in museums and chateaux
of the Continent.”

Turning to the other girls who were listening to him, he added: “Now
gaze about and remember. Tell me how _not_ to decorate with impossible
objects on view here and elsewhere; and how to use what is really good
that will combine to present a perfect interior.”

Then the girls took a new interest in studying and criticising the
different pieces that were placed on sale. Dodo showed an aptitude that
astonished Mr. Fabian and his students, for no one had given her credit
for having such a critical sense on works of art.

The first piece exhibited for sale was a secretaire. The other girls
were still musing over its form and construction when Dodo exclaimed
impetuously: “Oh what a monstrosity! even though it has a beautiful
grain in the wood, it is so awfully clumsy.”

“Why do you say that?” asked Mr. Fabian, highly pleased, while the Count
turned to notice the girl he had paid no attention to, before this.

“Why just look at it! With its heavy thick-set legs that belong to a
rhinoceros, and its slender graceful body that looks like a fawn’s.”

Everyone within hearing of this remark, laughed softly. Loud speaking or
disturbing sounds were forbidden, so Polly and Eleanor had to hush their
merriment with their handkerchiefs.

The Count suddenly adjusted the monocle he affected and whispered to
Polly: “You must be proud of your fellow-student.”

Polly instantly replied, without explaining the situation: “Oh yes, we
are. Dodo is very remarkable in many ways.”

But Mr. Fabian said, as soon as he could control his sense of humor,
“Dodo, you have a true eye for lines, and that criticism is worthy of a
news-paper man—it is so graphic.”

Following the secretaire, were several pieces of nondescript furniture
that was quickly bid upon and sold to people who wanted mere articles
for use and not for beauty. Then a suite of furniture was placed upon
the dais and the auctioneer began to point out its especial claims to
beauty.

“Girls, is anything wrong with that furniture? Who would use it in a
home, and what style of house does it belong in?” said Mr. Fabian.

Again Dodo was the first with her criticism. “Who wants doleful
furniture, in a bed-room, to make you weep just as you lose
consciousness in sleep? One needs cheerful objects to close one’s eyes
upon, and also to bid you good-morning when you wake up.”

“Fine!” complimented Count Chalmys, still more interested in this
precocious young lady of not yet seventeen.

“True, and who wants majestic pieces in a nursery?” said Eleanor.

“Or dainty personal lounges or chairs in the City Hall,” added Polly,
smilingly.

“Exactly, girls! I am so proud of you all that I feel as if someone had
presented me with a bouquet of flowers.”

The impossible set of furniture had been sold and now a Gothic armchair
of carved deadwood, upholstered in faded tapestry with beautiful blends
of colors that only great age could produce was brought out and placed
on exhibition. The moment Polly saw it she made up her mind to have it.
But she now knew how to go about bidding in a public sale, because of
the experience Eleanor and she had had in New York, when they went about
with Mr. Fabian.

The auctioneer started the chair at a reasonable figure and instantly
there was lively bidding for it. Polly said not a word but waited
eagerly. Then one bidder after another fell out of the contest, until it
finally narrowed down to two men.

Polly’s companions knew that she was but waiting her time to speak out.
And they were anxiously watching the two men who seemed bent on getting
the chair. Finally one of the men shook his head to indicate that he
would go no higher, and the auctioneer said: “What! Is this all I can
get for this fine example of cabinet-work?”

Very calmly and quietly, then, Polly raised the last bid.

Everyone turned to glance at the unexpected contestant, and the
amazement expressed on many faces, as well as on that of the auctioneer
because of the girl’s youth amused Polly’s friends. The auctioneer
asked: “Did the young lady make a bid?”

Polly noded affirmatively. But the man who was bidding thought to cut
her out by raising his bid considerably higher. The salesman turned then
to Polly to see if she still wished to bid.

“Double his bid!” called out Polly.

Again there was surprise shown by others, and the man who thought he had
frightened off his youthful opponent, frowned.

When the auctioneer smilingly looked to the collector to increase his
bid, the man carefully raised it a small sum. Polly now knew he was wary
of spending his money, so she took advantage of the cue to call out a
figure that was startlingly higher than the collector’s; so that he
instantly shook his head in refusal of any further bidding or interest
in the chair.

“What! no higher bid from you when you want this chair?” coaxed the
auctioneer.

Again the man frowned and shook his head positively, but he did this
hoping Polly would weaken, and then he would come back and mention a
slight increase on her price.

The auctioneer thinking his negative signal was final, turned to Polly
and said: “It’s yours, Miss. And allow me to congratulate you, not alone
on having acquired the finest bit in this entire lot, but also on being
a very clever and experienced buyer.”

The moment the collector realized that the auctioneer had knocked down
the chair to his adversary without again consulting him, he protested.
“I claim that chair!” cried he.

“By what right?” demanded the auctioneer.

“Because I was bidding on it against this young lady, and you did not
cry it three times as you should have done.”

“I asked you, and you shook your head. Then I told you it was worth
higher bidding, but you denied going higher—a shake of the head is as
legal a denial as a spoken word, in this case. I have witnesses that you
refused to go higher, so I sold it to the young lady.”

The man who was a dealer and had a customer for such a chair, was
furious at having lost it to a mere girl. He began an argument, but the
auctioneer calmly remarked: “This is a public sale, and as such, order
must be maintained. I shall have to ask anyone creating a disturbance to
leave the premises.”

That quieted the disputant, and Polly kept her chair. Her companions
congratulated her on securing it, but Mr. Fabian wished to know why she
took such a sudden fancy for the piece of furniture, when there were
other fine pieces that might appeal to a girl.

“Because, the moment I saw that chair tapestry it reminded me of my home
at Pebbly Pit. We have just such wonderful sunsets as that chair
covering represents. Glorious colors that flare in points at some
places, and then fade away in the western sky like misty violets in a
rivulet; or like the gray of twilight before night falls,” explained
Polly, reminiscently.

“Oh yes, Polly,” assented Eleanor. “Just like we saw over Rainbow
Cliffs, so many times.”

“Miss Polly is some artiste natural born, I think,” said the Count, who
had been deeply impressed by the girl’s remark.

“Polly’s a poet and doesn’t know it!” declared Dodo, fervently. “If I
ever could say such a lovely thing in words about an old chair, I’d
begin to believe I had escaped Ma’s plans for a title in the family.”

Of course her companions laughed at her unconscious rhyme and, also, at
her quaint expression of face, but the Count wondered what she meant by
“a title in the family.”

After Polly secured the armchair, Eleanor bid upon and got a XVI century
cabinet of the Lyonnaise school; and Dodo bought a Renaissance hall
table. Mr. Fabian secured a Spanish Renaissance divan, and the Count
managed to buy the pictures he wanted. Towards the end of the day, Polly
and Eleanor secured a few odd things, such as an iron lock, chiselled
from a solid block of metal that was said to date from the XV century;
and Polly got an old door-knocker that was more than two hundred years
old.

The last group of furniture pieces put up for sale, that day, was
arranged on the dais just as Mr. Fabian was preparing to go. He turned
and saw it, then the auctioneer called out: “Here is a splendid suite of
furniture for a bachelor’s den. Now what am I bid for it?”

Mr. Fabian whispered to the girls: “It is a pity the man should try to
sell that set by praising it as he did. He knows, only too well, that it
is unsuitable for a man’s room. But tell me why, girls?”

Dodo curled her lips in scorn at the elaborate pieces and remarked:
“Would one wish to decorate a ball-room with black crêpe?”

Her friends laughed at the very sarcastic criticism, and the Count said,
smilingly: “But that is not mourning furniture!”

“No, but it is just as bad taste for a man’s room. Why should a
bachelor’s _den_ use soft tints and motifs of Louis XVI period, when
they are more appropriate in a reception room, or a lady’s boudoir?”

That last retort from such a prepossessing girl, completed the havoc in
the Count’s susceptible heart. He thenceforth planned to lay his title
and encumbered Italian estate at Dodo’s feet. But he found it not as
easy as he had thought for, when he took this fervent decision.

He invited the American party to be his guests that night, at dinner,
and he arranged so that he could sit next to Dodo. But that was all the
good it did him, for the girls were so full of the fun and joys of
bargain hunting that they spoke of nothing else.

After the exultation of possession had calmed down, somewhat, Nancy
Fabian said: “Daddy, why are some such atrocious pieces of furniture as
we saw today flung to the people?”

“One reason why France has, of recent years, had some such uncouth
furniture made, is because the Guild of Cabinet Makers is no longer in
existence to enforce its laws. There was once a provision made, in 1645,
that every piece of furniture made in France had to be passed upon by
the Guild. And that is why old furniture from these French cabinet
makers, is so highly prized by collectors, now.

“This Guild examined every aspirant to the title of Master Craftsman,
and without a certificate signed by ten of the jurors of the Guild, he
dared not establish himself; their regulations were very strict so as to
protect art, consequently but few atrocities were cast upon the market
of France for more than two hundred years after the founding of this
protective Guild.”

“Well, it’s too bad we haven’t a Guild in America,” said Polly, her tone
causing her friends to laugh heartily.



CHAPTER IX—MR. ALEXANDER’S SURPRISE


The next day Mr. Fabian conducted his girls to various cathedrals and
famous buildings in the city, and that night they returned to the hotel
to find little Mr. Alexander standing in front of it waiting for them.

“I’ve got turrible news for you-all,” said he in a most lugubrious tone.
His face expressed the greatest sorrow and concern.

“My goodness, Pa! What’s the matter?” cried Dodo, anxiously.

“It’s worse than you-all can reckon, so I’ll tell you. This afternoon
when I come back from a little joy-ride, I saw a dandy little car out
here, but when I took a good squint at it I saw it were a Packard
Roadster. At that, my legs began to shake and I feared Maggie might have
come over, in spite of my wire to her.

“And then, before I could get courage to go indoors, I heard her voice.
I tried to hide behind that big pillar, there, but no use! So, Dodo,
your Ma’s here and is in the parlor talking to Count Chalmys.”

As everyone had expected to hear dire news, the relief upon hearing that
Mrs. Alexander had arrived was so great that it caused a general laugh.
Nancy Fabian turned and asked of the little millionaire: “How did your
wife meet the Count?”

“Oh, I figgered that she would be so glad to know a real live Count,
that I saved my own head that way. She won’t remember my misdeeds now,”
softly laughed Mr. Alexander.

When the exchange of effusive greetings on the part of Mrs. Alexander,
and the quiet welcome from the other Americans, had subsided, she
remembered something to tell Dodo, that concerned her deeply.

“What do you think, Dodo? About those Osgoods?”

“How should I know, Ma. Your tone indicates that you are not very well
pleased with them, whatever it is,” replied Dodo.

“I should say _not_! Why, I found out that the title of ‘Sir’ and ‘Lady’
does not mean _anything_ in their family. Jimmy can’t inherit the honor,
either. His father got it because he did something unusual with a
factory that made munitions when the war first broke out. It wasn’t an
entailed title at all, and it stops with this Osgood. Dear me! When I
think of it—you might have had to marry just a plain James Osgood,
after all!”

“Oh no, I wouldn’t, Ma. I said from the first, that I never would marry
anyone I didn’t like. And it would take an American to do that,”
declared Dodo.

“What happened when you learned about the title, Maggie?” asked Mr.
Alexander, unusually gay over the information.

“Why, I just told Jimmy Osgood that I wouldn’t _take_ him to Paris in my
new car, if that was the case. I think they might have told me how such
matters were conducted in England, then I might have spared all my time
in planning as I did.” Mrs. Alexander’s voice plainly expressed the
disapproval she felt at keeping her in ignorance of the methods of
Burke.

Her hearers managed to keep straight faces, however, and waited until
the Count said good-day. Then they all went upstairs to plan about the
tour in Europe.

“I invited Count Chalmys to accept the empty seat beside me in my new
roadster,” ventured Mrs. Alexander.

“You did!” gasped Dodo, unbelievingly.

“But he refused, didn’t he?” said Nancy, confidently.

“Oh no! he said he’d be delighted. He planned to go home to his castle,
soon, and he said you-all were going to visit him there; so he felt he
might accept my invitation to tour with me, as long as we were to be all
in one party,” explained Mrs. Alexander, greatly pleased with the
outcome of her meeting with the Count.

Dodo groaned, and her friends smiled in sympathy, for they understood
the reason of Mrs. Alexander’s sudden interest in an Italian Count.

“When do you propose to start on this tour?” asked the lady, after a few
moments of silence.

“Right away—tomorrow!” declared Dodo, angrily.

“Oh! surely not before we buy some nice gowns and things to wear?” cried
her mother, tragically.

“Yes, at once! _I_ don’t want any new clothes!” snapped Dodo.

“But, my child! What about that trooso chest. It ought to be filled, you
know, to be ready to send home,” reminded the mother.

“Oh, I gave that chest away for a birthday gift,” said Dodo,
indifferently.

“Gave it away! Why—what for?” gasped Mrs. Alexander.

“I didn’t want it, and it was my very own—you said so.”

As that was true, nothing more was said about the chest, at the time,
but nothing could stop Mrs. Alexander from planning and scheming about
her daughter’s future. As the other girls and Mrs. Fabian said nothing
about shopping, but preferred waiting until they returned to Paris
again, it was decided that they would start on the trip the following
day. That evening was devoted to studying a road-map and selecting an
itinerary.

Mr. Alexander had but one desire in the matter, and that began and ended
with the first lap of the drive. “I want to see the war-zone, where our
boys fit them Germans. I hear ’em tell in the hotel lobby, that the
roads are fair all through them battle fields like Verdun, on the Somme,
and others. So I want to drive there, and then, afterwards, you can do
what you-all like on this tour with me as chauffeur.”

“Oh, we _all_ want to pass through those famous places, too, so that is
settled,” exclaimed Nancy Fabian, glancing at her friends for approval
of this plan.

“All right. Put that down on your paper, Professor,” advised Mr.
Alexander; then he leaned back and sighed as if he had done all that was
expected of him.

After several hours of planning and writing, the route was mapped out,
and the group felt that it was as good as any ever made by a number of
tourists.

It was noon the next day before the party really started on its way, as
the Count failed to appear on time, and an hour was lost in trying to
get him on a telephone. When he did appear, he had a gorgeous bouquet of
hothouse flowers for Mrs. Alexander, and a huge box of bon-bons for the
girls.

That afternoon they drove over the famous sector where millions fought
and fell for a Principle, in the greatest mortal combat the world has
ever witnessed. After seeing the ruins the war made of Verdun, as well
as of other villages, Mr. Alexander drove to Reims. Here they found
quarters for the night, and waited to visit the cathedral in the
morning.

From Reims they went through St. Quentin, and on to Boulogne. That night
they stopped at a quaint inn in Normandy. The ancient hostelry was but
two stories high, with upper windows overlooking a wonderful garden. The
high stone wall that enclosed this garden had niches, every so often, in
the thick wall.

Mr. Fabian spoke excellent French, and the other members in the party
understood everything that was said, so all enjoyed the conversation
that now took place.

“Have you been owner of this Inn very long?” asked Mr. Fabian,
courteously.

“All my life, and my father and grandfather before me,” was the
unexpected reply.

“Then you can tell me if this is an old house, or only modelled after
the old style.”

“Ah!” breathed the old man, softly. “It ees so old that my grandfather
knew not when it was built. It ees the gate-house of a convent that
formerly was famous. When it was abandoned, because of the Order being
abolished by law, my grandfather was left to supervise the work.

“He bought the property when it was sold, and since then his descendants
have lived here. With the old stone gate-house this garden patch was
included, but all the other buildings were razed and the land sold.”

“How interesting,” remarked Mr. Fabian. “Then that old garden was really
part of the original convent grounds?”

“Yes, and those niches you see in the wall held statues and holy figures
at one time. Some of them were carved by well-known men about here. I
found several of them buried in the garden when I turned up the soil for
my father. I was but a boy, then, and I remember he took them away and
put them in the attic.”

The old host then showed the guests to their various rooms and left them
to wash and dress for the evening meal. Polly stood gazing from her
window for a time, picturing the life of past days in that garden, when
Eleanor exclaimed suddenly and called to her.

“Just look at this heavy walnut bed. It has the most marvellous carvings
on its head and foot boards.”

After examining the figures carved on the wood, Polly went to the
toilet-stand and poured some water from a heavy ewer into the stoneware
basin. As she was about to place the ewer on the tiled floor beside the
stand, she saw the carved panels that formed the sides of the stand.

“Nolla! Do help me move this heavy stand out to the light—I verily
believe it is an antique!” cried she.

Having satisfied themselves that the panels were genuine old pieces,
they ran to Mr. Fabian’s room and called him forth. He examined the
stand and the bed, and some of the old stoneware pieces in the room, and
sighed. “We’ve stumbled over a veritable Mecca of antiques, girls,” said
he.

That night after supper, Mr. Fabian led the host to tell of how he
acquired the pieces of furniture. And the result of that talk was the
purchase of the stand, the bed, and many smaller pieces of stoneware and
odd furnishings that had been replevined from the convent building,
generations before. Even the few statues that had been stored in the low
attic of the Inn were sold to the Americans; and the old couple were
made happy at the knowledge that, at last, they were provided for in old
age, through the sale of the objects that they could readily do without.

The Count was made supremely happy with the purchase of a holy picture
which he declared was from the brush of an old master. And Mrs.
Alexander smiled contentedly because the Count was so kind and
chivalrous to her.

A group of humble peasants gathered, the following morning, to wish the
tourists God-speed, for the entire village had heard of the good fortune
that had come to their old friends at the Inn. When a few furlongs
farther on from the Inn, Mr. Fabian read a sign that said “To
Abbeville,” he said aloud, “Well, of all things! We stopped at that
famous old convent spot and never knew it, until this minute.”

From Boulogne, where they wired Mr. Ashby about the bed and other
articles they had secured, they drove to Ostend. Thence to Bruges, where
Mr. Fabian showed the girls the famous Belfry that is three hundred and
fifty feet high. The quaint irregular houses in the streets of the town
were duly admired and snapshots taken of them by Dodo; then the two cars
started for Antwerp.

Along the road, and in the villages they passed through, most of the
peasants wore wooden shoes. One woman was seen driving a tiny milk-cart
that was drawn by a large dog. The tourists stopped for a drink of the
rich milk, and Mrs. Fabian noticed the bit of priceless Flemish lace
pinned upon the peasant’s head.

“How much do you want for that piece of lace, my good woman?” asked she,
eagerly.

But the woman shook her head and smiled, saying: “My family lace.
Gran’mudder make it.”

Antwerp still displayed the scars left by the German occupation, so the
tourists decided not to tarry there very long.

“When I see these things, I feel like I want to war all over again,”
exclaimed Mr. Alexander.

Late that night they entered Rotterdam, and there found a fine Inn and a
hearty dinner awaiting them. Having replenished the inner being, they
started out to see the town by night.

“I don’t see much use in remaining for a day in Rotterdam, girls,”
remarked Mr. Fabian. “There isn’t much of interest to us, here, and I
don’t believe we can pick up any ‘old bits’ in the city. Bargains in
antiques are more readily found in the country places.”

So, late the following morning, they started for Delft; along the road
Mr. Fabian stopped several times and secured a few fine pieces of old
Delftware.

The tourists remained at The Hague that night. It was a quaint,
beautiful old place founded in the year 1250. The artistic-roofed
houses, the funny dormer windows, the varied and picture-like gables of
the buildings which were placed irregularly on either side of the narrow
crooked streets, provided interesting scenes that the girls eagerly
captured in the camera.

At an antique shop, on a side street not much wider than a country-lane,
the girls found several old door-knockers with the ancient dates stamped
in the metal. A great massive lock and key were bought by Mr. Fabian,
and Dodo got an iron lantern.

Leaving The Hague, the cars drove along beautiful country roads, with
low white-washed cottages having green wooden shutters at the windows,
standing prim and pure beside the way. Everything was so clean and neat,
though the owners seemed poor, that it was remarked by the girls.

“When you compare these peasants and their spotless homes, to the filth
and shiftlessness of the peasants in Ireland, you cannot help but wonder
what causes the vast difference in living,” said Polly.

“It is not poverty alone that does this, Polly,” said Mrs. Fabian. “One
must go way back and seek deep for the causation of such conditions.”

The girls did not understand what she meant, then, but they could not
help but remember her words later, when they began to question political
and national problems. Then they understood.

At Leyden Mr. Fabian showed the girls the university that is erected on
the ground where the Pilgrims landed after their flight from England,
and before their historic sailing for America. And at Haarlem, the two
girls Polly and Eleanor, bought a lot of healthy bulbs to be sent home
for planting in the Spring. As Haarlem is the center of the bulb-growing
industry of Holland, it displayed more tulips to the square foot, than
the girls had ever thought it possible to grow.

That evening the two cars entered Amsterdam. The hotel was good, and the
stop-over most welcome, for the autoists were tired of the continuous
ride for several days, resting only at night.

The Count managed to get in telephonic connection with Paris, that
night, and immediately afterwards, he seemed ill at ease. So much so,
that he finally left the others and they saw him no more that evening.
Mrs. Alexander showed her disappointment at this unexpected action of
her charming Count and refused to be condoled by anyone else.

At breakfast in the morning, Count Chalmys announced his unexpected
desertion of the touring party. “I find I have to fly at once to my
domain in Northern Italy, my dear friends. A most unexpected business
affair there demands my presence. Ah, such is the tormented life of a
land-owner. He can never enjoy freedom, but must always be at the beck
and call of others.”

“Good gracious, Count! Won’t you join us again, as soon as you settle
this business in Italy?” asked Mrs. Alexander, anxiously.

“I trust I may, dear lady. But _you_ must surely visit me at my palace,
when you tour Italy,” returned the gallant Count. Then he gave minute
directions to Mr. Fabian how they might reach his estates.

After Count Chalmys had gone the tourists had Mrs. Alexander to
entertain; before this she had devoted her entire time to the Count as
he was her guest in the small car. Now she insisted upon the girls
taking turns to ride in her car, and this proved to be unappreciated by
the three who wished to be with Mr. Fabian in order to hear his opinions
on the places they passed. Finally Nancy offered to devote her attention
to Dodo’s mother until they could discover a new “title” to occupy her
heart and mind and roadster.

While in Amsterdam they visited an old-fashioned coffee-shop with
living-quarters back of it. When Mr. Fabian explained to the good woman
who served, that his girls were decorators from America, and they wished
to see the tiles he had heard of in her living-room, she smiled
graciously and led the way to the rear rooms.

“Oh Nolla! Look at the funny little ladders one has to climb to reach
the beds!” cried Polly, laughingly, as she pointed out the built-in beds
about five feet above the floor.

“I should think they’d smother—all shut up back of those curtains, at
night,” remarked Dodo.

“And not a bit of ventilation that can get in any other way,” added
Eleanor.

The hostess comprehended something of what was said, and she laughingly
shrugged her plump shoulders and pointed to her two “younkers” who were
as fat and rosy as Baldwin apples. Mr. Fabian was admiring the wonderful
dado of tiles, that ran about the room from the floor to a height of
four feet. Each tile presented a scene of Holland, and they were so set
that a white tile alternated with a Delft blue one, making the whole
pattern very effective. The windows were placed above the dado, thus
being four feet above the floor. But instead of high narrow windows,
they were square, or low and long, and opened in casement style.

While Mr. Fabian was conversing with the woman about old tiles and Dutch
furniture, Polly spied a corner cupboard. She beckoned Eleanor over to
it, and the two immediately began examining the old blue ware in the
china-closet.

Dodo heard them and hurried over, and that drew Mr. Fabian’s attention
to them, also. His hostess smiled, and led him across the large room to
the cupboard.

Before the collectors left that room, they had acquired some fine old
Delft pieces, and Mr. Fabian hugged an antique jug that he was not sure
of, but its markings would prove its great age as soon as he could trace
it, he was sure.

Mr. Alexander, who had been almost ignored during the past few days,
excepting at night when they stopped at different towns for rest, now
said: “Would you like to reach Cologne tonight? I figger we can do it
easily, onless you want to stop anywhere?”

“The only place I want to stop and give the girls a peep into a
porcelain factory, is at Bonn. But that is on the other side of Cologne;
so let her go, if you like,” returned Mr. Fabian.

The roads, however, were too bad for speeding, and they had to be
content with reaching Arnheim for the night. The next day they reached
Cologne, but drove on to Bonn, as Mr. Fabian had planned. In the
afternoon they reached Coblentz where the great Byzantine Cathedral was
visited and pictures taken of it. The next day, on the trip southward,
along the Rhine, were many picturesque castles and fortresses which made
splendid scenes for the camera.

Mr. Fabian wished to conduct the girls from Frankfort to Nürnberg, a
famous old mediaeval city with unique houses still to be seen, although
they were built hundreds of years ago. But the girls had no desire to
visit any German cities, they said.

“But it is a famous place,” argued Mr. Fabian. “It was the very first
town in Germany to embrace Christianity.”

“Maybe so, but later, they clearly demonstrated to the world that they
never understood the fundamentals of Christianity,” retorted Eleanor.

“Well aside from that, Nürnberg is the place where white paper was first
invented,” continued Mr. Fabian.

“I’ve heard said that an _American_ invented white paper and the German
who put up the money for the experiment, stole the formulae,” declared
Polly.

“I never heard _that_, but surely you can’t contradict me when I say
that sulphur matches first came to life there. They are a great
convenience in the home and save us a lot of trouble; and the Germans
discovered that use for sulphur,” continued Mr. Fabian.

“Maybe the world has _now_ discovered that the Germans might have saved
us a lot of trouble if they had used the sulphur for self-extinction
purposes,” snapped Eleanor, who was a partisan for the Allies.

Her companions refused to laugh at her remark although they wanted to;
but Polly, who was more lenient to an enemy, said: “I never can
understand how it is that the Germans always invent such wonderful
things.”

“Yes, Prof., especially as we Yanks are just as brainy and capable; yet
you seldom hear of an American inventing such things,” added Dodo.

“Oh yes, we do, Dodo,” returned Mr. Fabian. “But the German nation push
a thing with national zeal and make money out of the world, for
themselves. America generally keeps quiet about her patents and uses
them for her own benefit.”

“But there is a deeper causation for all this material inventiveness,
too,” added Mrs. Fabian. “We must never lose sight of the fact that
America is the cradle of Freedom where Eternal Truth lifted its banner.
Whereas Germany brought forth only the material emblems of brain and
earthly power, the New World has brought forth the Hope of
Heaven—freedom in every sense of the word.”



CHAPTER X—A DANGEROUS PASS ON THE ALPS


Mr. Alexander drove through the Alsatian country with keen interest, for
the costumes and beauty of the peasants were so attractive that the
tourists liked to watch them and take snapshots of picturesque groups.

Mr. Fabian directed Mr. Alexander to take the road to Lyons as he wished
to have the girls visit the factories where silk, velvet and velour were
manufactured. Nancy Fabian had wearied of Mrs. Alexander’s endless
chatter about her million and the Count, and why anyone like the Osgoods
should lift their heads when they were so poor and proud!

So the day the two cars started for the Alps, (Mr. Alexander hoping to
cross them and stop over-night on the other side,) Mrs. Fabian took her
place beside Mrs. Alexander, in the roadster. The small car usually
trailed the seven-passenger car, but this day the order was accidentally
changed, while climbing the mountains.

It was rough travelling at the best, but the higher the cars climbed the
rougher became the road, and at last the steep trail narrowed so that it
was almost impossible to pass another car on the same roadway.

But the views were so wonderful and the mountains so majestic, that
everyone was silent and deeply impressed. The cars ascended one peak
after another, and as each summit was reached the autoists sat and
marvelled at the height of the mountain and wondered at the views. Then
they would seem to drop sheer down again to the valley between the two
peaks. This mode of travelling continued for a long rime, until one of
the highest peaks of the Alps towered before them. This cloud-piercing
mountain-top once passed over, they would reach the border line of Italy
and begin descending the range again.

Mrs. Alexander was a fairly good driver, but she had more assurance in
her ability than her understanding actually warranted. She was talking
nonsensically, as usual, with half her mind on the road and the other
half interested in what she was picturing to her companion, when she
turned a sharp curve in the road.

“Oh-OH!” she screamed, as she tried to use the emergency brake and turn
the wheel to avoid a great boulder which had rolled down upon the path.

But she had not held the machine sufficiently in hand to instantly
benefit her, when the occasion unexpectedly arose that needed presence
of mind. Consequently the new roadster struck the rock with enough force
to crush in the radiator and headlights. The second car came around the
curve, the passengers having heard the shrill scream and looking
fearfully for the catastrophe they believed to have happened to the two
women.

The shock of the collision had thrown Mrs. Alexander across the wheel
while her head broke the wind-shield; but Mrs. Fabian had instantly
clutched the side and back of the seat and was only badly shaken.
Everyone in the touring car jumped out and rushed over to see if either
of the ladies had been seriously hurt. Mrs. Alexander groaned and held
her side but could not speak.

“This is a fine pickle!” exclaimed Mr. Alexander. “On top of the
wurrold, and no sign of any help at hand to do anything for you. Even
the blamed old knob on this peak had to roll down and block the way.”

Mrs. Fabian was trying to make her companion speak and tell them where
she was injured, but she shook her head as if unable to speak. Dodo and
her father addressed her by every affectionate name they could think of,
and begged her to say what hurt. Her face was slightly cut but the blood
made it seem appalling to others.

“If you’ll only get over this, Maggie, I’ll never put another straw in
your way of hooking a title,” begged Mr. Alexander, his expression a
mixture of renunciation and misery.

After many minutes filled with suspense for the motorists, and the same
time filled by Mrs. Alexander’s groans and helpless rolling of her eyes
from one to another of the distracted motorists, she gradually recovered
enough to whisper: “The wheel must have fractured my ribs. I can feel
the sharp ends of the splintered bones cut me everytime I breathe, or
move a muscle.”

Mrs. Fabian then ordered the men to retire back of the big car, while
she helped the girls in gently lifting the injured lady and placing her
out flat on the comfortable seat of the roadster. With many a cry and
catching of breath, the patient was finally stretched out.

“Now I shall have to cut your gown open in front to get at your stays,”
said Mrs. Fabian, using the small scissors she kept in her large
handbag.

Mrs. Alexander tried to object at having her expensive suit ruined, but
Dodo held her hands while the scissors cut their way up and down. Once
the outer clothing was opened the cause of the sharp point of the
“fracture” was revealed.

“Thank goodness, Mrs. Alexander, that it is no worse!” exclaimed Mrs.
Fabian, and the girls seconded that exclamation as they found the front
steels of the stays had broken and were digging into the flesh under
them.

The silken corsets were soon slashed through and the broken fronts
removed, then Dodo said to her mother: “Take a deep breath, now.”

“O—oh—I’m afraid to, Dodo. It will hurt!” whimpered Mrs. Alexander.

“No it won’t! Mrs. Fabian managed to pull the steels out and she doesn’t
believe any of your ribs are broken.”

So, holding tightly to her daughter’s hand to encourage her, Mrs.
Alexander breathed lightly. As she felt no sharp dagger thrust of pain,
she took a deeper breath, and finally reassured herself that her bones
were as good as ever. At last she sat up and began fretting over her
damaged travelling suit, in such a tone that everyone around her, knew
she was fully recovered.

While this “first aid” had been going on, no one noticed the pebbles
that were dropping from the over-hanging crags that seemed to bolster up
the peak above them. But when Mrs. Alexander found she could move and
get out of the car, some of the stones struck the girls. They gazed up
but could see nothing beyond the high run of crag that faced the
roadway, consequently, they moved from under the shower which kept
getting worse.

Mr. Fabian ran up now and expressed deepest concern as he said:
“Everyone try to get under that great rock, at once. I’ll shove the
roadster under the cliff, too.”

“Where’s Pa?” cried Dodo, sensing some unusual danger.

“Here he comes!” called Polly, seeing Mr. Alexander driving his car
close up under the rocks.

The moment the car was halted close in to the bank, Mr. Alexander jumped
out and ran to help Mr. Fabian push and pull the damaged roadster under
the cliff, also.

“What’s the matter, anyway?” asked Mrs. Alexander, looking about at the
others for information. But they seemed as much at sea as she was. All
but Polly, who knew from experience what the signs portended.

“It looks like a slide, but it may be diverted before it goes over us.”
Her trembling voice and awed expression impressed her companions more
than the words she had spoken.

“That’s what I feared, and we’ve done the only thing possible—to crouch
under the cliff and wait,” added Mr. Fabian.

Mr. Alexander now took out his old black pipe and tobacco bag. As he
carefully pulled open the yellow cord at the top of the cheap cotton bag
he smiled and gazed at his friends. “You-all don’ know how sorry I am
for you, to think you-all can’t take a smoke to kill the time we has to
sit here.”

Mr. Fabian felt encouraged instantly by the wonderful acting of the
little man who could thus speak and smile and joke, in face of what was
now thundering and rumbling overhead—ever coming nearer the group
huddling under the cliffs.

“Nothin’ like tobac to soothe the feelin’s when you’ve had a punctured
rib or tire! If Maggie could only enjoy a whiff of this old friend of
mine, she’d soon have got over her pain.”

That irritated his wife so that she snapped back: “Yes, a whiff of that
would have killed me outright!”

The others laughed uneasily but the tense spell caused by the imminent
danger was broken. Mr. Alexander puffed contentedly, but during this
short exchange of conjugal sentiments of husband and wife, the slide
rolled onward, and the roar now became so deafening that no one could
hear a thing other than the thunder of the avalanche. Polly was the only
one who really comprehended the full danger, but she showed no fear or
nervousness, although she was doubtful as to the outcome of this
mountain disaster.

Rocks, roots, and all kinds of débris half-frozen in snow now rolled
over the cliffs and dropped over down the sides into the ravine that ran
along the other side of the narrow roadway. At the quaking caused by the
onrush of the avalanche, the automobiles rattled like tin toys and the
cowering humans who tried to push still farther back into the rocky
wall, watched the fragments of rock fall from overhead and pile upon the
roadway.

The whole dreadful occurrence, thus far, had not taken more than a few
minutes since the first pebble struck the roadster, but now was heard a
terrible splitting and crashing as if two planets were colliding; then
the very cliff where they sat seemed to roll over and shake the earth.
The frightened tourists clung to each other and screamed in a panic, but
the worst was really over.

The last horror was caused by the sudden impact of the land-slide when
it struck the solid wall of rock that rose sheer up back of the cliff
which skirted the road for tourists. This wall diverted the avalanche
and threw it along the gully which had been made by other preceding
snow-slides in the past. Had the present slide been able to crush the
rocky wall and come straight on down the mountain sides, nothing earthly
could have spared the tourists from being powdered under the grinding of
rock and ice.

The roar and tumult of the avalanche continued a few minutes longer, but
it gradually died away and Mr. Fabian stood tremblingly upon his feet
and tried to see which way the slide had gone.

“Humph! ‘A miss is as good as a mile’!” quoted Mr. Alex.

“Maybe; but don’t you go out to survey until we-all are sure this shower
of ice and trash is safely past us,” advised Polly.

“Don’t you think we had better get from under this cliff?” asked
Eleanor, nervously.

“If it stood that shock, it will last a few moments more, I reckon,”
replied Mr. Alexander.

The other members in the party were too frightened at seeing the rocks
and ice that still poured over the cliff, to speak a word. When the
dropping had ceased, however, and the roar was diminishing, Polly heaved
an audible sigh.

[Illustration: POLLY WAS THE ONLY ONE WHO COMPREHENDED THE DANGER.]

“Well, folkses! That’s over! I’ve been in slides on the Rockies, but I
never felt so queer as this one made me feel. When you understand your
ground well, and can reckon on what might hold or what might give way,
you feel easier. But on the Alps where all is new and strange to me, I
wasn’t sure of this cliff being able to resist the impact.”

“Then it _was_ very dangerous for us, was it?” gasped Mrs. Alexander,
paling under the rouge on her face.

“Danger! Oh no—no more than jumpin’ off that precipice for a lark!”
laughed Mr. Alexander, knocking the half-smoked ashes from his old pipe,
and tucking the black friend away in his pocket.

“Well, Ebeneezer, when I see you waste good tobacco like that, I know
you are so unbalanced that you don’t know what you’re doing,” retorted
Mrs. Alexander.

This remark caused a laugh and everyone felt better immediately. Then
Mr. Fabian turned to the little man and said: “We had better see how
much damage is done to the roadster. Perhaps it will have to be towed to
the next stopping place.”

It took another good hour to overhaul the little car and even then it
was found to be too badly damaged to travel under its own power. While
the two men were trying to repair the car, the girls worked to clear
away the stones and débris that encumbered and blocked the road. The
large rock that had caused the accident to Mrs. Alexander’s car, could
be avoided, with careful steering, if the other trash was out of the
way.

Polly showed her companions how to construct rough brooms of the brush
that had fallen over the cliff, and soon they were sweeping for dear
life, with the queer-looking implements. But the brush-brooms did the
work thoroughly, and when the cars were ready to continue on the way,
the road was cleared.

“Prof., before we leave here, I think we ought to place a sort of
warning on the other side of that awful heap and the chasms in the
roadway that the avalanche caused. We might use the red-silk shirt-waist
I have in the bag,” said Polly, anxiously.

“Or go on to report to the nearest forester we meet,” said Mr.
Alexander, from his western experience.

“We’ll do both,” returned Mr. Fabian. “It won’t take long to ram a pole
in the débris and tie the red flag on it, but it may save others a great
deal of danger.”

“Better still, if we can crawl over the slide that is piled high up on
the trail, I might tie the flag to a young tree far enough down the
roadway to spare anyone the climb to this narrow pass where they cannot
turn around,” added Polly.

So Mr. Fabian and Polly managed to creep warily over the obstructions
which were heaped over the roadway and, further down the trail, they
found a tree that grew beside the road. Here the red blouse signal was
left flying from the stripped young tree, and a warning was printed on
the white silk cuff, telling of the dangers ahead in the path.

When the tourists were settled in the cars again, the large car leading
and the crippled roadster being towed behind, they felt that they had
done their duty and expressed their deep gratitude for their own safety,
by leaving the signal flag for others to see and read.

It was slow work zig-zagging down the great height, as the little car
could not work its brakes very well, and it had to be held back by the
rear mud-guards of the leading car. But the breathless descent was
finally accomplished and in the valley they found a tiny garage, placed
there for the repairing of damaged automobiles.

“I shouldn’t think it would pay you to keep up a shop in this isolated
spot,” remarked Mr. Fabian, when the mechanic was working on Mrs.
Alexander’s car.

“But you don’t know how many tourists cross the Alps in summer; everyone
finds something wrong, or runs out of gas, by the time they reach this
valley,” explained the man.

Before the tourists were ready to depart, a number of cars had driven
up, asked for gas or repairs, and then were told of the land-slide on
top of the peak. This spared them climbing, as they could go by another
road. The passengers in these cars were most grateful to Mr. Fabian’s
party for the information, thus several parties had been benefited,
before a crimson car drove up and a handsome young man called to the
mechanic.

“Is this the right road over Top Pass?”

“Yes, but you can’t pass,” returned the man, then he told of the
experiences the people in the American party had just had.

“My, that must have been some excitement! Wish we had been there,” cried
the other young man, eagerly.

“Are you an American?” asked Mr. Fabian, certain of it even as he spoke,
because the accent and manner of speech was Yankee.

The two young men exchanged looks with each other, and one replied: “We
lived in the United States for many years.”

This speaker was about twenty-two or three, but the other one was
younger. They both were exceptionally good-looking and free in their
manner. It could be readily seen that their car and clothes were of the
best, and one would naturally conclude that they were wealthy young men
touring Europe for pleasure.

The roadster was now repaired and ready to be used, so the bill was paid
and Mrs. Alexander got in. Mrs. Fabian was rather timid about trusting
herself with such a chauffeur again, so Mr. Fabian seated himself beside
the owner of the car.

“Which way do you go from here?” called out one of the strange young
men.

“On to Turin,” answered Mr. Alexander.

“Do you mind if we follow you? We lost our way to Turin, somewhere, back
there, and when we found ourselves here we decided to go on and not stop
at Turin.”

This sounded rather lame for an excuse, but no one could refuse
permission for the boys to follow, if they wanted to—so Mr. Alexander
shouted back at them: “This air is free, and so is the earth! Foller
what you like, as long as you don’t run us down and make us stop for
another over-haulin’ of the cars.”

The young men laughed and thanked the sarcastic little man, but the
girls smiled as they wondered if this change in route—or minds of the
two young men—was caused by seeing a number of pretty misses in the
touring car?

The day was far spent when the roadster was in a shape to continue the
tour, and Turin was many a mile away. So it was found to be impossible
to reach there that night. The recent experience with the avalanche had
caused a reaction, too, and as everyone felt worn out with the tension,
it was decided to stop at a small inn in the foot-hills of the Alps.

The automobiles had been left in the shed that was used for the cows and
oxen, and the travellers entered the low-ceiled primitive room with
ravenous appetites. The inn-keeper was cooking at a huge fireplace at
the end of the room, and the odor of bacon and onions permeated the
entire place.

“Oh!” sighed Eleanor, rolling her eyes upwards, “I never smelled
anything so delicious!”

“Yet you abominate onions at other times,” laughed Polly.

“It all depends on the state of your appetite,” retorted Eleanor.

When the tourists were refreshed by washing and brushing, they returned
to the great living-room. The two young strangers were there before
them. The older of the two acted as spokesman and now introduced himself
and his companion.

“This is my cousin, Alan Everard, of Winnipeg, Canada. And I am Basil
Traviston, a resident of California, but not a native of that State.”

Mr. Fabian introduced his wife, and the other members of his party by
name only, without mentioning the city or state whence they came. All
through supper hour he maintained a dignified attitude which was meant
to warn off any young men with dangerously good looks. But he might as
well have tried to build a snow-man under the heat of a July sun.

Both young men were so charming, and told many witty stories which kept
their audience in stitches of laughter that it was generally conceded,
afterward, the two were most desirable fellow-travellers. Mr. and Mrs.
Fabian sat up a full hour after the girls were asleep, however, trying
to pick a flaw in the behavior of the two strangers, which might form a
basis for the separation from the touring party. When all was said and
done, the only tangible excuse was the fact that they were both so
handsome and unknown.

The next morning the three cars started for Turin, and during the
tiresome ride the two young men managed to keep up an exchange of
interesting remarks that amused everyone. When they stopped for luncheon
in the middle of the day, the two boys insisted upon waiting on the
ladies and making themselves generally useful.

The time came for the tourists to get in their cars again, but Mrs.
Alexander had taken a decided liking for the younger of the two young
men—Alan Everard. So she invited him to travel in her car, and that
left Mr. Fabian without a place.

“It’s only as far as Turin, you know,” explained Mrs. Alexander, trying
to smile sweetly on the guide of the touring party.

Rather than create any unpleasantness, Mr. Fabian got in beside Basil
Traviston. But he was determined, as long as he was forced to accept the
seat, to learn more about the two new additions to his party.

After a perfunctory exchange of sentiments, Mr. Fabian said: “Your name
is very English, and the fact that your cousin is from Winnipeg, leads
me to judge that you both are of English descent.”

“My cousin’s real name is not Everard—that is his first name; but we
both are travelling incognito on the Continent, as our titles and names
are so well-known that people stand to stare, and annoy us with their
interest. So we decided to travel unknown, this season.”

Mr. Fabian frowned, and glanced side-ways from his eyes, to see if the
young man was presuming upon his intelligence. But Traviston was driving
with a most guileless expression. In fact, no handsome babe could have
appeared more innocent than he.

“It really seems as if we have been unusually blessed—or cursed, I
don’t know which—with young men who claim titles. Mrs. Alexander wished
so intensely for titled young men to travel with, it looks as if she
attracted them to our party,” said Mr. Fabian, smiling cynically.

“Is that so?” returned Traviston, but his tone and expression failed to
show any resentment or interest in the information. Mr. Fabian wondered,
and decided not to tread on thin ice any more, just then.

But Mrs. Alexander was faring much better with the young man in her car.
Almost immediately after they had resumed the tour she asked pointedly:
“Your cousin’s name, and yours as well, is very English. Perhaps you
belong to an old family?”

“Oh yes,” returned Everard. “Both of us came over, this year, on purpose
to trace our family-trees. I have learned that my people go back to Adam
without a break.”

“Not really!” gasped Mrs. Alexander, astonished at such a long line of
ancestry.

“Yes, and Basil now believes he can antedate Adam, and trace some facts
about his ancestry that started with a missing link.” Young Everard
laughed softly as he spoke, but his companion never having heard of
Darwin, believed every word he said; whereas he thought she knew he was
joking.

“You and your cousin must be young men of leisure, or you couldn’t spend
a whole summer touring Europe in such an expensive car. I noticed how
sporty the car was, before I saw either of you,” said Mrs. Alexander.

“That’s just it. When Basil and I work, we have to work like Trojans.
But when we finish a contract we take life easy until the next job comes
up.”

“Oh, you work? I wouldn’t have said so. What sort of contract work do
you do?” asked Mrs. Alexander. The pedestal she had used for her two new
heroes, seemed shaking dangerously.

Everard laughed. “Some people laugh at what we call work, but they don’t
realize that playing is the hardest kind of work. I sometimes think I
will chuck the whole game and knuckle down to the real thing—work that
is called work. But money is sweet, and if one likes to spend, then the
weak little decision to work as others do, dies hard and I go on with
the play.”

Mrs. Alexander suddenly realized that she had misunderstood the young
man’s first words. Then he called “playing” his work, and with his money
he found playing as hard a work as a poor man finds his labor. So she
sympathized with his ideals and thought him a remarkable young man.

Before they reached Turin, she had her suspicions that he was a very
_important_ young man; for he had given her certain bits of information
that told how well-known he and his cousin were, and how they dodged at
certain places to travel incognito to avoid publicity.



CHAPTER XI—THE PLOT IN VENICE


That evening, at Turin, while the Fabian party were preparing to go out
and see the city by night, the two young men excused themselves and were
not seen again until the next day when the party were to start for
Milan. Then they appeared as happy and ready to drive on as they were to
join the tourists the day before at the foot of the Alps.

“I thought you had planned to remain in Turin?” said Mr. Fabian.

“We had, but upon getting in touch with Chalmys, we find he is now at
his place near Venice, and we must meet him there. The rest of our crowd
are there, too. So we will drive with you as far as you travel our
road,” explained Traviston.

“Do you know Count Chalmys?” asked everyone in chorus.

“Of course—do you?” returned the handsome boys.

“He toured with me all through Belgium and Holland,” quickly bragged
Mrs. Alexander, certain now that these two young men were “somebodies.”

“Why—I really believe you are the people he wrote us about!” exclaimed
Everard, honestly surprised at his discovery.

“Yes—he said there were four of the prettiest girls in the party, but
he never mentioned their names,” added Traviston.

Now the four girls smiled with gratification, and before they started
for Milan, it was half decided to visit the Count at his Italian Estate,
before going on to Rome, or other places south of Venice.

At Milan the young men said they would get in communication with the
Count and arrange for their going there the next day, Mr. Fabian
escorted his girls to the famous cathedral of Milan, and showed them the
places of interest in the city, then they resumed the journey to Padua,
where they purposed remaining over-night. From there they would drive to
Chalmys Palace in the morning, just a few miles from Venice.

During the absence of Mr. Fabian and his companions on the tour of the
city, Mrs. Alexander had determined to get all the information she could
from the two young men, when they came back to the hotel. And they,
seeing how eager she was for them to develop into superior beings of
quality, thought to please her that way.

When her friends joined her at the hotel again, the two young men were
not there, but she was bubbling over with wonderful news.

“I knew it! _I_ can tell the moment I see a young man with a title. That
one who calls himself Basil Traviston, is really a Marquis of France. He
came into the title a few weeks ago, but he doesn’t seem to fuss about
it any. And his cousin Alan Everard is the son of Count Chalmys. That is
why they know him so well.”

“The Count’s son?” gasped Nancy Fabian, unbelievingly.

“Yes, and they were all in Paris together and had planned to join each
other again at Venice. But they will meet at Chalmys Palace sooner than
they had intended,” explained Mrs. Alexander.

“Why, Maggie, that boy Everard is only some years younger than the
Count, unless the Italian looks much younger than he is; besides that,
if the Count is from Italy how can the French Marquis be the boy’s
cousin? And why do they come from the States?” asked Mr. Alexander
deeply puzzled.

Mr. Fabian mistrusted the whole story, yet he had to admit that
Traviston seemed most honest the day he spoke of his title and name. So
he said nothing, but hoped to be spared further agonies from Mrs.
Alexander’s worship of nobility as per her ideals.

Mrs. Fabian was back with Mrs. Alexander, and the two boys were in their
car; all were travelling along the road at a good speed, and the girls
were picturing what the wonderful old Chalmys’ palace would be like,
when a long low car with splendid lines approached, coming from the
opposite direction.

“If there isn’t Chalmys! Coming to meet us!” exclaimed Traviston, to the
people in the other cars.

“How lovely of him!” sighed Mrs. Alexander, almost running her car into
the ditch in her eagerness to see the Count.

The long-nosed car drew up beside the touring car and the Count leaned
over the side.

“Well, this is a great pleasure, Mr. Fabian! And the ladies—how are
they? As beautiful as ever, I warrant,” called he, gallantly.

The passengers in Mr. Alexander’s car exchanged pleasant greetings with
the Count who then asked pardon while he welcomed his two friends. He
urged his car along a few feet further until it was opposite the boys’
car, and there they conversed eagerly for a few minutes.

Mr. Alexander nudged Mr. Fabian and whispered: “Did you-all hear him say
‘I want to speak to my two friends?’ He diden’ say ‘I want to speak to
my son.’”

Mr. Fabian nodded understandingly, but watched the Count closely. No
look of paternal affection was given Everard, and if he was his son who
had been absent from home so long, why wouldn’t the impulsive Italian
father greet him eagerly? It was a puzzle that became more intricate, to
Mr. Fabian and Mr. Alexander.

The Count seemed to forget there were others nearby, and when he said:
“The wire read for us to be ready for the scene at the Palace Dario,
tomorrow night at nine. That is why I drove out to meet you. I’ll be at
the hotel tomorrow, myself, in time to go with you. Then we will all
come back to the Palace the next day.”

The two young men seemed regretful about something, but they nodded in
acceptance of the Count’s orders. Then the other members of the party
were addressed.

“I find we all have to be present at Venice tomorrow night for an
important engagement, and if you, my good friends, will pardon this
change of plans, I will be under obligation to you if you go on to
Venice now, and visit me at Chalmys Palace a few days hence.”

Of course, everyone signified perfect satisfaction at changing the
plans, so they all drove along the road together, towards Venice. The
Count left them before reaching the city gates, and his last words were:
“I will meet you at the hotel tomorrow evening, boys.”

“Do you know, Fabian, it all sounds shady to me?” said little Mr.
Alexander, puckering his forehead over the queer case.

“It may be that we think it is strange because we haven’t the key to the
situation,” said Mrs. Fabian, always ready to make allowances for
people.

It was a novel experience to exchange motor-cars for the picturesque
gondolas of Venice. But it was a luxurious exchange. As they floated
along, Mrs. Alexander was deeply annoyed because she was separated from
the young folks, and placed beside her husband, who was concerned about
so many pigeons living in a city; the boys entertained the girls with
descriptions of romances which had a splendid setting in Venice; then
they told of the prominent Motion Picture companies who came all the way
from America to take their pictures on the spot.

The first evening was spent in passing through the Grand Canal and
seeing the wonderful palaces on either side. Mr. Fabian knew the more
famous buildings and called them out to his party in the other gondolas.

The gondolier pointed out the Custom House, the Mint, the Garden of the
Royal Palace, and other buildings, before they came to a beautiful
fairy-like palace.

“Isn’t that a lovely place,” remarked Polly, gazing at the very
ancient-looking palace.

“That’s the Palazzo Dario, of the 15th century, famous for its beauty
and preservation,” replied Alan Everard.

“Oh, is that where you are to——” began Dodo, but Polly nudged her
suddenly and checked what she was about to say.

The two young men seemed not to have heard her unfinished sentence, and
Mr. Fabian was all the more puzzled over the fact.

All the next day was spent in visiting the points of interest in Venice:
the Palace of the Doges, the Museum and the famous old churches and
palaces being on the list. The two young men had said they would have to
be excused as they would be very busy all day, in order to be ready for
the evening’s engagement with the Count.

The very lack of guile and duplicity in the words and the manners of the
young men, caused all the more concern over what was now looming up in
the fancies of the adults in the Fabian party, as a plot that had been
accidentally revealed by the Count.

Mr. Alexander said he would remain about the hotel while the others were
sight-seeing, as he had no use for old buildings. So he waited until
everyone had gone—the two boys to their appointment and the Fabian
party to the palaces and museums, then he went upstairs and boldly
entered the rooms occupied by the two suspected young men.

After half an hour of careful searching he came forth with a huge bundle
under his arm and an exultant expression on his face. Late that
afternoon when the tourists returned to the hotel to dress for dinner
and then take a sail on the Canal, Mr. Alexander beckoned in a strange
manner to Mr. Fabian.

Mr. Fabian followed the little man to his room, and when the door had
been carefully closed and locked, the latter said: “Well, I unearthed
the foxes! I stayed to home on purpose, today, to go through their
belongings, and this is what I found!”

As he spoke, he lifted his coat from the pile on the table. Mr. Fabian
wonderingly examined the articles displayed there. A number of brushes
with silver backs were engraved with the name “Albert Brown.” Several
handkerchiefs were initialed “B.F.S.” A fine Panama hat had a marker
inside that read: “B.F. Smith.” Other small objects which evidently
belonged to the two young men bore their names or initials—the same as
those already read by Mr. Fabian.

“It’s all very queer, and I don’t know what to make of it,” remarked Mr.
Fabian, thoughtfully.

“Well, I tell you what I’d do! I’d tell them what we know of this and
then clear them out. It’s my opinion that that dark Count Chalmys fixed
up something with these two good-lookers just to get us to visit his old
palace and maybe play some tricks on us to get our cash,” said Mr.
Alexander, rising to the very peak of tragic imagination.

Mr. Fabian laughed. “Oh no, I don’t think that; but it is all a strange
experience, when you try to find a reason for it all.”

“Wall, just keep your eyes open, tonight, and see if I ain’t right in
what I said. I bet those three men will get in trouble yet, and I’m
going to do my part to protect the gals.”

At Mr. Alexander’s words, Mr. Fabian smiled but did not advise the
little man to wait and watch before he took any further steps. He left
the room to go and dress for the evening, and Mr. Alexander managed to
return the articles he had taken from the boys’ rooms, without being
discovered in the act.

At dinner that night, Mrs. Alexander had a very interesting story to
relate.

“I was reading in the Grand Parlor of the hotel, when the Count came in.
He was surprised to see me, but he said he was waiting for the two boys,
who were going out with him.

“Well, we talked for a time, and then young Everard came in. He looked
angry about something. He said he had had some things stolen from his
room and Traviston was reporting the theft at the desk. They needed the
brushes and toilet things and now they had to go without them.

“I thought it was funny, if they were only going out for an engagement,
to take any toilet articles along, but I didn’t say anything. While we
three were talking, Traviston came in and, oh my! wasn’t he dressed up
to kill. I suppose it was the Court costume they wear when they visit
royalty. He had the gold star on his breast and a wide ribbon crossed
over his chest. He had a long ulster coat that his friends made him put
on before they left. He never said a word about why he was dressed up,
or where they were going, but I know he is going to visit some big
noble—maybe a Prince.”

“Maybe they’re a lot of tricksters in disguise,” sneered Mr. Alexander.

“Why, Ebeneezer! How can you say such mean things before the girls. They
_know_ what nice young men they are,” declared Mrs. Alexander.

“I must say,” added Nancy Fabian, “that I met Count Chalmys in Paris
just before the Art Classes disbanded, and I never saw anything out of
the way. He was always very gallant and kind.”

“You never told me how it was you met him, Nancy,” said her father.

Nancy flushed but decided to speak out. “Well, he was studying art
posing at the school, and having the dark beauty and magnificent form of
a Greek, he was requested to pose as a gladiator. He explained to me
later, that it was the first time in his life that he posed, but he did
it for fun more than anything else. I believe him, too, because he
certainly doesn’t need the money which was paid for the posing.”

Nancy’s explanation added still other tangles to the maze, and the two
men wondered what would be the final ravelling of it all.

While the girls went for their long cloaks to wear, that evening, in the
gondolas, Mr. Alexander slipped away to converse with an
official-looking man he had met in the corridor. The Fabians and Mrs.
Alexander came downstairs first, but were soon joined by the four girls.
As they passed the hotel office, Mr. Alexander followed after them.

It was a beautiful night, with a clear sky overhead and twinkling lights
bobbing along the Grand Canal, as gondolas passed up and down filled
with happy passengers. When the Fabian party in their gondolas drew near
the Palazzo Dario, they wondered at the crowd gathered in gondolas along
both sides of the Canal.

A row of gondolas was stationed across the Canal on either side of the
Palazzo Dario, and Mr. Fabian learned that they could not pass without a
permit.

“What’s the matter? I haven’t heard of any important event about to take
place here tonight?” said Mr. Fabian.

“No! But ’tis so. Meester Griffet pay much money for use of Palazzo this
night. You wait here on line and see the play go on,” said the officer,
as he made an opening for the gondolas of the generous Americans to
wedge in on the front line.

Thus it happened that not long after the Fabian party reached the spot,
a camera-man climbed upon a platform built opposite the Palazzo Dario,
and took his seat behind the apparatus. The blinding Cooper-Hewitt
lights used in Studios, were so placed over the balcony and entrance of
the Palazzo that they would reflect and bring out every detail in the
picture about to be taken.

Not a word was heard from anyone in Mr. Fabian’s party, but when a
Marquis of France challenged a handsome young nobleman of Italy to a
duel over a lovely English girl, and the father of the handsome Italian
youth intercepted, the girls in Mr. Fabian’s gondola laughed
hysterically. Even Mr. Fabian had to smile.

It was most exciting to watch the two handsome young men they had known
in everyday life, now play the leads in this Motion Picture Play. The
Count was exceptionally good in playing his part, while the good looks
of the two young men made up for any shortcomings in their acting.

“Well, that explains everything!” sighed Mr. Alexander, as the audience
in the gondolas were allowed to travel onwards along the Canal.

“Oh, but I can’t believe those nice young men really have no titles!”
cried Mrs. Alexander, tears of vexation filling her eyes.

“They have! Didn’t you see for yourself, Maggie?” laughed her husband.
“Alan is the heir to the Count’s title, and Basil is a Marquis.”

“I wonder if their fancy names are only for stage use?” said Polly,
smiling at the way everyone had been hoaxed.

“Sure! I know their real names,” returned Mr. Alexander, triumphantly.
“I knew them before tonight, and I told Mr. Fabian, diden’ I, Fabian?”

“Yes, we know both their _reel_ names,” laughed Mr. Fabian.

“Do tell us who they are? Maybe we’ve seen them at home,” said Eleanor.

“Well, one is Albert Brown and t’other is B. Smith. Both are from the
States, and that one from Californy is likely from Hollywood, where this
Comp’ny hails from,” chuckled Mr. Alexander.

Early the following morning, before the tourists left the breakfast
room, Count Chalmys and his two friends hurried in.

“Well, when will you be ready to visit my palace?” said he.

“What palace?” asked Mr. Alexander, frowning at what he considered a
Movie joke from the actor.

“Why, _my_ palace. I expected you to come with me to visit at Chalmys
Palace, today. You said you would!” wondered the Count.

“Have you really _got_ a palace?” asked Dodo, innocently.

Her expression caused the others to laugh, and Count Chalmys returned:
“Of course I have. Would I invite you to visit me if I had no place to
entertain?”

Everyone looked at everyone else, and then at the three actors. Finally
the Count began to understand that the Fabian party had not had the
slightest inkling of the scene that took place the night before, and so
the facts began to come forth.

Mrs. Alexander was the only member in the party who had no interest in
visiting the Count, now. When he said that another scene in the play was
to take place that afternoon at his palace, the girls were eager to go
and watch the interesting picture-making.

So they all started out, Mrs. Alexander going, too; but she insisted
upon having it understood that she was not interested in the visit other
than to accompany her friends.

Count Chalmys had made elaborate preparations for the guests, and when
they sat down to luncheon in the grand old palace, Mrs. Alexander stared
in amazement at the crest embroidered on the napkins. The liveried
servants came and went noiselessly, carrying services of old plate with
the coat of arms in filigree on the engraved edges.

After luncheon the Count showed his visitors the gardens, and then they
visited the picture collection he had spoken of at the Paris Art Sale.
Mr. Fabian recognized several Old Masters and felt still more puzzled
over all he had learned.

Then the Griffet Company arrived and the scenes in the gardens of the
Palace began, then several interiors were taken. After the Motion
Picture Company had gone, Mr. Fabian said something about returning to
Venice.

“Oh, not yet, surely!” exclaimed the Count. “I have ordered dinner for
tonight, thinking surely you would remain and spend the evening.”

Thus persuaded, they remained and passed a very enjoyable time. On the
way back to the hotel, that night, Mr. Alexander decided to ask the two
young men outright, how it was their fellow actor called himself “Count”
and lived in such a gorgeous manner.

B. Smith _alias_ Basil Traviston laughed. “Why, Chalmys is a born
Italian but he went to America as a boy. He was so handsome that he was
engaged over there to take a lead in a picture where his type was
needed. He never knew he could act until that trial, but he made so good
that they offered him a wonderful salary to stay on with them.

“During the recent war the male line of descent in his family were
killed off, so that he came into the title and property of the Chalmys.
He never dreamed of such a possibility, as he was but distantly
connected with the Count’s family.

“The estate is heavily taxed and debts are greater to pay, than the
incomes to be collected, so the Count uses the palace for picture
purposes and derives a nice little income that way, also. It is enough
to pay the upkeep of the place, anyway, so that he does not have to draw
on his own salary to maintain the estate.”

“Then he is a real live Count after all?” gasped Mrs. Alexander,
sorrowing because she discovered it too late to avail herself of the
information.

“A reel man in America, and a real Count in Italy,” laughed Alan
Everard, _alias_ Brown.

One more day was given to Venice, while the tourists visited the
collections at the Accademia, took pictures of the beautiful churches
and admired the wonderful paintings and sculpturings of San Marco, and
other famous buildings.

The two handsome young men bid them good-by that afternoon, as they were
going back to Paris to meet the rest of the Company and then go on to
Havre where they were to sail soon, for America. And the touring party
prepared to leave Venice and start for Florence, the Tuscan City where
Mr. Fabian expected to find many wonders to show his students.



CHAPTER XII—ESCAPING AN EARTHQUAKE


As the cars drew near Florence, Mr. Fabian described the natural
protection afforded that city by the mountains surrounding it. This
figured mightily in past ages, he said, when enemies of the Florentines
tried to overcome the city and break the power of their trading.

“You’ll find everything about Florence savoring of antiquity,” announced
Mr. Fabian, as they entered the city. “The winding narrow streets, the
irregular roofs that break the sky-line, the ancient churches with bits
of old carving in the least expected places, and last but not least, the
folk of Florence with their quaint costumes of bright colors.”

The first day in Florence was spent in visiting the Pitti Palace, the
basilica of San Miniato, which was of architectural value to the
students, and then the Museo Nazionale.

The second day was given to visiting at the Piazzale Michelangelo, and
to see the Cathedral Santo Maria del Fiore, with its beautiful façade.

Mr. Fabian conducted the girls to Pisa, the third day, but the elders in
the party preferred to remain in the cars when the ardent admirers of
antiquity visited the places of past glories.

Then they drove on from Florence and stopped over night at Arretzo; and
in the morning they went to Perugia, a mediaeval town with ancient
buildings and still more ancient churches.

From Perugia the route lay due south to Rome. It proved to be a
delightful trip through the wonderful country-lanes and spreading fields
which were cultivated to the last inch.

As they came nearer Rome, they began to feel the oppressive heat which
had been gradually growing more intense all that day. Mr. Fabian had
planned to spend a full week, or more, in Rome in order to give the
girls ample time to see everything there, worth while.

The first day they visited the Coliseum, the Forum and other famous
places. Then he escorted them to the Cloaca Maxima to study Etruscan
Art. Next they visited the Museum in the Villa of Pope Julius; then the
Etruscan Museum of the Vatican; also the Mamertine Prison, and many
places famed for their collections of antiquities and art.

One day they went to see the famous façade and bits of architecture
still to be found in Rome, such as the “Spanish Steps” of the Piazza di
Spagna, and the Triumphal Arch of Septimus Severus. Mr. Fabian had
unwillingly to end the day’s visits, however, because of the terrific
heat.

The sun had been shining through a red haze for several days, and the
reflection from the Mediterranean was so oppressive that the tourists
decided to cut their stay in Rome short and drive on across Italy to
Naples, which always boasted a fine breeze from the Bay.

So the hotel bill was paid that night, and the baggage made ready for an
early start. The travelling trunk was locked on the rack of the
automobile, and everything else was prepared that no time would be lost
in the morning.

The heat that evening was even worse than at any time during their stay
in Rome, and rumors were heard that the seismograph had registered
tremors and slight earthquakes, all day. This was not encouraging to the
Americans, and they retired at night with all apparel on excepting shoes
and their coats.

Fatigue and the drowsiness produced by the heat overcame everyone after
a time, and they slept until about one o’clock. A strange shaking of
Polly’s bed woke her suddenly. She sat up and felt the room swaying. She
reached out and called to Eleanor.

“Get up, Nolla! Get up—it’s the earthquake!” cried she, springing from
the bed.

“Uh! Wh-a-d you s-ay?” mumbled Eleanor drowsily.

“Quick! We’ve got to get out. The earthquake’s here!” shouted Polly,
trying in vain to catch hold of the bed-post while everything rocked as
if on a vessel at sea.

A falling picture upon Eleanor’s feet startled her so that she jumped up
and gazed in affright at Polly. “What is it?” asked she, seeing the
toilet dishes on the stand roll upon the floor.

“Earthquakes! Hurry—hurry!” screamed Polly, almost too frightened to
find the buttons on her dress.

Dodo and Nancy tumbled headlong into the room now, both crying and
wishing they had “left this old Rome before this happened.”

The girls managed to get into their shoes in short order and when Mrs.
Fabian rushed in to drag them forth, they were all dressed. Polly and
Eleanor remembered to catch up their bags, and then ran after the
Fabians who had roused the Alexanders and told them to run for the open
street.

But the street presented such a scene that Mr. Fabian instantly decided
to leave whatever they had forgotten in the hotel rooms and get away in
the automobiles.

“Oh, see that chimney topple over!” cried Nancy, as the brick structure
of a distant building was seen to fall in.

Screams and cries, pushing and huddling of the mobs in the streets,
created a panic with the excitable Latin people, and Mr. Alexander
quickly turned and said to his party: “I’m going to get out the cars.
Dodo can go with me to handle Ma’s roadster. You-all follow Mr. Fabian
through the safest streets and go out along the Appian Way. I’ll meet
you there and pick you up. We’ll get out of Rome at once!”

He had not been gone a minute before another severe quake shook the city
so that it seemed as if the earth rose and fell in billows. Collapsing
buildings were heard crashing down upon the streets, dogs howled, other
animals added their fearful noises to the panic-stricken cries of the
populace, and a pandemonium was the result.

Mr. Fabian and his wife kept their presence of mind in all this
distraction, but Mrs. Alexander wept loudly and dragged at her blonde
hair in despair when she realized that this was her end. “Oh why did I
ever want to come to Europe to be killed in Rome, when I could have
lived a long life peacefully in Denver!” wailed she, hysterically.

It took all of Polly’s and Eleanor’s time and temper to soothe the
fear-paralyzed woman. But she was able to follow the Fabians when they
started for the Appian Way—in fact she wanted to run ahead and get out
of the city.

It took a long time of trial and tortuous going before they reached the
quieter sections of Rome; and finally they began to glimpse the Appian
Way through the haze of fire and smoke that now spread a pall over the
city.

They had just heard the welcome sounds of Mr. Alexander’s voice, when
another tremor shook the city so that the girls clung to each other in
support. Instantly a man’s genial voice called: “Well, I’ll be
gol-durned if I had to come all the way to Rome to get an earthquake! We
can get these sort nearer Denver, without charge.”

In spite of their fear everyone smiled at the little man who could joke
in the face of such disasters. But he created the effect of releasing
the tension, and thus destroying much of the fear.

Mr. Alexander directed the Fabian party to their cars, and when they had
climbed in and wished the tourists who crowded around, a safe escape
from the city, the two drivers started away.

They had not gone more than a mile, when another very severe shock
seemed to move the ground from under the cars. The screams from the
crowded city streets could be heard at this distance from the scene, and
Polly said: “It makes me feel like a criminal to run away and leave all
those people to their doom.”

“It’s better for as many to get out of the city as can go, unless they
are trained to help in this emergency,” said Mrs. Fabian.

Mrs. Alexander had calmed down considerably when she was seated in the
car, and now she began to question her husband.

“Ebeneezer, did you bring my travelling bag?”

“I dun’no. I grabbed up everything in sight, from my old razor strop to
my scarf-pin,” returned her spouse, jovially.

“My bag held that new evening coat,” cried Mrs. Alexander.

“Never mind a little thing like that!” advised her lord.

“That’s all _you_ care for a two-hundred dollar wrap, but I know you
didn’t forget that horrid pipe!” retorted she.

“I _know_ I diden’, too, ’cause it’s goin’ in my mouth this minute!”
chuckled Mr. Alexander, making his companions laugh.

“Call Dodo—stop her, this minute,” commanded Mrs. Alexander. “I must
ask her if she took my bag. If she didn’t I’m going back for it!”

To pacify her, the cars stopped and Dodo was asked if she saw the bag
that had held her mother’s evening wrap.

“No, but I thought I caught up one of Ma’s belongings,” Dodo called
back. “When I got to the garage and turned the light on to see what I
had saved I found it was a bed-pillow!”

A laugh greeted this reply, and Nancy then admitted: “I didn’t know what
I was doing when I first jumped out of bed, but I intended getting my
hair-brush and comb in case of need. When we got out on the street I
found I had the cake of soap and the telephone pad that was kept on the
stand beside the bed.”

“Well, Ma,” asked Mr. Alexander, as Dodo started her car again, “are you
going to get out and go back for them things?”

“You are a bad cruel man, Ebeneezer Alexander, and I wonder that I could
live with you as long as I have,” snapped his wife.

“I wonder at it myself,” chuckled the cheerful “cruel” man.

But they drove on and no more was said about the elaborate evening wrap
that was lost in the earthquake that night.

As they sped away, determined to get as far from the scene of disaster
as possible, that night, Eleanor spoke.

“I wonder if there is anything else I have to live through before I can
settle down quietly.”

“Now what’s the matter?” demanded Polly.

“Oh nothing, but I was just thinking—I went through a snow-slide on
Grizzly Peak; a land-slide on the Flat Top; a great mountain blizzard,
on the Rockies; a hold-up in New York, one night; an avalanche on the
Alps, and now an earthquake in Rome. What next, I wonder?”

“You ought to be grateful that you never experienced a sinking at sea
caused by a German submarine,” said Polly, earnestly.

The very seriousness of her remark made her friends laugh, so that
spirits rose accordingly, and just as they felt that the worst was over,
another severe quake shook the ground they were speeding over.

Dodo’s car was ahead, with its headlights streaming in advance upon the
roadway. Immediately after the last shake, a deep rumbling and crackling
was heard as if something ahead of them had parted and fallen down. Dodo
leaned forward anxiously and gasped.

Mrs. Fabian was with her in the roadster, and the girl quickly put on
the brakes and reversed the wheel. “Just look out, Mrs. Fabian, and see
if you can see a gap across the road.”

Even as she spoke, Mr. Alexander passed the little car and shouted to
Dodo: “What’d you stop for—right in the middle of the road?”

The next moment he was biting his tongue when the front wheels on his
car caved into the newly made crevice across the road. Everyone was
jounced up and down frightfully as the wheels settled into the soft
earth, and Dodo jumped out to see if anyone was injured.

“Oh, oh! I know Pa’s broken my neck!” cried Mrs. Alexander, as she
caught her plump neck between two fat hands.

“Blame it all on the pesky earthquake!” shouted Mr. Alexander, thickly,
while the end of his tongue began swelling where his teeth had cut into
it.

Everyone was ordered out, while Mr. Alexander tried to back the touring
car out of the cleft across the roadway. But it was a deep trench and
the front of the car had settled into the earth.

“The only way to get her up is to plank down several rails and run her
out on them,” said Mr. Alexander, lispingly, as he studied the
situation.

“It’s too dark to hunt for rails or boards, and there isn’t a house in
sight,” Dodo replied.

“What can we do, then?” asked the perplexed little man, scratching his
head for an idea to start from his brain.

It was nearly dawn when the peasants started from their homes for the
city, to sell their market-goods, so the tourists had not long to sit
and wait, before a cart drawn by two sturdy oxen rumbled along.

“Hey, there! If you hook them beasts to my car and pull it out of this
hole fer me, I’ll pay fer the animals!” called Mr. Alexander, hoping the
man understood his English.

Mr. Fabian then interpreted what had been said, and the man examined the
condition of the ditch before he replied. Then he gave Mr. Fabian to
understand that he could remove two heavy side-boards from the cart and
try in that way to help run the wheels out.

After strenuous labor and many pulls and tugs on the part of the oxen,
the car was backed to the road again. But the ditch was still there, and
it was too deep to cross without a bridge, or by filling it in.

By the time the peasant had been paid his price, a number of other carts
had driven up and the men sat pondering how to get over. It was Mr.
Alexander who waved his arms like a wind-mill in Holland, and shouted to
make them understand.

“Let’s all get busy and scoop the earth into the ditch. Some of us can
dig it from that field and others can carry it in their hats to fill
in.”

Mr. Fabian tried to explain, but the peasants shook their heads. One man
jumped out and ran back in haste along the road.

“What’s the matter? Is he afraid we’ll make him work?” demanded Mr.
Alexander, impatiently.

“No,” explained Mr. Fabian, “he said he knew where he could get a shovel
and other implements. There’s a farm a bit farther on.”

Shortly after that, the man returned and with him came two young men,
all carrying shovels, and one pushed a cart. With these tools for work,
every man went at the job, and in half an hour the crevice caused by the
quake was temporarily filled up.

While they worked the men asked Mr. Fabian about the earthquake in the
city, and he told them what havoc it had made. The sun had risen by the
time the two cars were able to cross the bridged crevice, and then
waited to allow the ox-carts to get past.

“Say, there! Are you going to take that stuff to Rome, to sell?” called
Mr. Alexander, eagerly.

The men comprehended and nodded their heads.

“Well, here! We’re starved now and will buy the fruit and ready-to-eat
stuff. Got anything cooked?” called he.

One farmer had fowl, another had fruit and still another had a load of
vegetables, so the tourists bought all the fruit they wanted, and the
peasants went their way, rejoicing at the good luck the quake had
brought them in the form of rich Americans who paid so well for filling
the ditch, and then selling them fruit.

As soon as the tourists reached a quiet spot beside the road, they
halted the cars and enjoyed the fruit, for that was all the breakfast
they would have until they reached Naples.

Late in the afternoon they stopped at a good hotel and sighed in relief
to think they could have a good, long, night’s rest. The daily papers
were filled with the account of the damage done in Rome by the recent
earthquake, but the list of those dead or lost was not yet complete, as
so many were buried under the débris of fallen buildings.

Suddenly Mr. Alexander threw back his head and roared.

“What’s the matter, Pa?” asked Dodo, frowning at his shout.

“Ho, I just read how we’re all dead. Did you know we were lost in the
’quake last night?”

They all stared at him. Mr. Fabian ran over to see the article for
himself. Then he read it aloud: “Among those stopping at the Hotel ——
in Rome, which collapsed at the third severe shock, were a party of
American tourists who were with Mr. Fabian, the well-known authority on
Antiques. Mrs. Fabian and daughter, Mr. and Mrs. Alexander and daughter,
and two young misses, were members in this party. A few other guests of
the hotel are also unaccounted for.”

“If that isn’t the strangest thing,” exclaimed Mr. Fabian, “to sit here
and read our own death-notice. Now I’ll have to wire Ashby that we’re
all right, and we’ll have to cable to the States that this report is
false.”

The girls wanted to read the notice, too, and Nancy said they ought to
keep the notice as a joke on journalism in Italy.

“No joke about it, say I. Now I have to wear crêpe fer myself, because
everyone out West will celebrate when they believe me done for,” said
Mr. Alexander.



CHAPTER XIII—UNEXPECTED VICISSITUDES OF TRAVEL


The visit in Naples extended itself into a week, as the girls needed to
replenish their wardrobes after the earthquake, and Mr. Alexander
thought it best to have a new spring for the car ordered to replace the
one that had received such a strain in the ditch.

A new schedule had been studied, and the route outlined a few weeks
before, was revised. Mr. Fabian said it would be best to go to Brindisi
and from there cross the Ionian Sea and visit Athens, as long as they
were so near. Then, from Athens, they could go to Pompeii and other
famous places, and finally take a steamer back to Genoa.

“I’ll have to crate the cars, then, and ship them across country to wait
for us at Genoa,” said Mr. Alexander.

“Let the men at the garage attend to it for you. We will be away about a
week, or so, and by that time the cars will have been delivered at
Genoa,” said Dodo.

“I should think it would save time and costs to send a chauffeur with
each car, to leave them with a garage at Genoa,” suggested Mr. Fabian,
so his idea was acted upon.

Everything was packed and the ladies were in the cars ready to start,
when Mr. Fabian turned to look for Mr. Alexander. He was not there.

“Did anyone see him during the last ten minutes?” asked he.

“No, he carried my suit-case downstairs fifteen minutes ago, but he did
not come back,” said Mrs. Alexander.

Mr. Fabian went to the hotel office again, and inquired of the clerk
whether he had seen Mr. Alexander.

He had not been seen, nor had he left any message at the desk. “Well,
then, I’ll have him paged, as we are ready to start,” said Mr. Fabian.

But the boys came back without any news of the missing man. Everyone got
out of the cars again and started in different directions in search of
their necessary “chauffeur.” By-standers were asked but no information
was gained of the man they all were seeking.

“Dear me, if that isn’t just like Ebeneezer!” complained Mrs. Alexander,
powdering her nose while she awaited results.

“I don’t see anything else to do, except to carry our luggage back to
the hotel and postpone our trip until tomorrow,” said Mr. Fabian.

“Don’t worry, Pa’ll come along soon and wonder why we worried over his
delay. He’s sure to give a splendid reason for this absence,” said Dodo.

A few moments after she had spoken, little Mr. Alexander was seen
running at top speed along the street. His hat was in his hand and he
was mopping his perspiring brow with a large silk handkerchief.

“Eben, what made you leave us? Didn’t you _know_ we were ready to
start?” complained his wife, the moment she saw him.

“Yeh, but I couldn’t help it, Maggie. Just as I got your duds to the
car, I stepped on a little dog. He yelped so I had to see what ailed
him, and that’s how I saw the child what owned the animal.

“If the little shaver hadn’t yelled as hard as the dog, I wouldn’t have
gone wid him. But I had to quiet the boy, and the dog limped so I had to
carry that. The boy lived a long way down a side street, and then
through an alley. But when I got to his home, the dog could jump about
and bark, so he is all right again.”

“Good gracious, Pa, did you waste all this time on carrying a mongrel
home?” laughed Dodo.

“Um, not all the time!” admitted Mr. Alexander. “When I saw that boy’s
home and his sick mother in bed, I hunted up a woman in the house and
made her go out for some things to eat. It seems they ain’t had any
money and so went hungry until she could work. I told the woman—but I
reckon she didn’t understand me—that she could thank the dog for the
food and help she got from me. Then I had to hurry back here.”

The tourists were on the vessel before Mrs. Alexander stopped nagging
her spouse and allowed him to enjoy the sail across the Ionian Sea. It
was a beautiful trip for the others in the party; they saw the blue sky
reflected in the bluer water, inhaled the perfume of thousands of
flowers blossoming riotously on the land and wafted by the balmy breezes
across the Sea, and they wondered if it were really true that but a few
days before, they were rushing frantically from an earthquake in Rome!
The present peace and calm were so different an experience—almost as if
they were in another world.

The first sight of Athens, from the sea, was very impressive to the
girls; they could see, upon the prominences that seemed to embrace the
ancient city, the wonderful historic ruins so carefully preserved there.
Mr. Fabian pointed out the Acropolis, the Temple of Hephæstus, the
Propylæa, the Temple of Athena Nike, the Parthenon, and other noted
architectural antiquities.

Several days were spent in Athens, visiting its vast wealth of past
ages, then Mr. Fabian arranged to proceed, with his friends, to Pompeii,
with its lure of restored ruins that had been buried for centuries.

From the scenes of Pompeii, they visited the Island of Ischia and its
wilderness of vineyards; then they went on to Capri with its
incomparable riot of color and natural beauties.

“I don’t see anything to keep us down here more than a day, or so, do
you-all?” asked Mrs. Alexander, bored to distraction without the
excitement of cities, or the speeding in her car.

“Oh Ma! we never saw anything so wonderful as these places, so don’t
rush us away the moment we get here,” cried Dodo.

“But, Dodo, what is there here to see but a lot of wild greens, and poor
people dressed in shawls and petticoats?” complained Mrs. Alexander.

“I ain’t saying a word, Ma, even if I can’t see all the fine things the
others seem to enjoy,” remarked Mr. Alexander. “But it _must_ be here,
somewhere, so I’m hunting for it with might and main.”

His wife merely turned up her educated nose at his words, but refused to
answer his earnest request for further time in which to find the hidden
secret of his friends’ pleasure.

Having seen all that was possible of the beautiful Islands of olden
times, the tourists boarded a steamer and sailed past Messina and
Corsica, up through the Gulf of Genoa, to the City of Genoa where the
two cars were awaiting them.

“My! I never was so glad to see a car in all my life!” sighed Mrs.
Alexander, eagerly examining her roadster to see if it was in good
condition for the continuation of the tour.

“From Genoa we can travel along the Coast of the Mediterranean and enjoy
the drive to the utmost, for we still have plenty of time to complete
our tour back to Paris, and meet Ashby when he plans to be there,” said
Mr. Fabian, as they got into the two autos and prepared to start.

The touring car led the way, Mrs. Alexander following, with Mrs. Fabian
seated beside her. Perhaps that lady might not have felt quite so
fearless with the chauffeur, if Mr. Fabian had not said that the road
was splendid and that there were no dangerous places for Mrs. Alexander
to run into.

They went through Savona, San Remo, and stopped at Monte Carlo to visit
the place and see the famous gambling house.

“Ebeneezer, don’t you go to that wicked house to play!” exclaimed Mrs.
Alexander, after they had refreshed themselves at the hotel and were
ready to walk about and see Monte Carlo.

“I woulden’ _think_ of doing such a thing, Maggie, with all these young
girls to set an example for,” returned the little man, with a serious
tone.

“I don’t want to go in there, at all,” declared Polly.

“It won’t hurt anyone to see it, Polly; they say it is one of the most
gorgeous places in the world. The decorations and architecture are
marvellous,” added Eleanor.

“Well, but don’t let us go near the gaming-tables,” Polly said,
grudgingly.

“Oh, no, not one on us would think of such a thing!” said Mr. Alexander,
but he watched an opportunity to make sure that a roll of money he
carried in his pocket, was still there.

They had done the outside of the place, admiring the beautiful parks and
the buildings, and then they thought they would have a peep inside, at
the halls and various rooms of the famous house.

“Where’s Ebeneezer?” suddenly asked Mrs. Alexander, as she trailed the
others into the Grand Reception Room.

“Why—he was here but a moment ago!” replied Mr. Fabian, glancing around
for the missing man.

“Didn’t I tell you what a care he was? I always have to keep him on a
leash when I want him to go, somewhere, with me. This is the same trick
he played on us at Brindisi—and almost made us miss the boat,”
complained the lady.

“He didn’t make _us_ miss it, Ma, but he ’most missed it himself,”
laughed Dodo.

“But he did a fine deed for a poor human, which goes to exonerate him
for being so late. Maybe he is helping someone, now,” remarked Mrs.
Fabian, who was sincerely proud of the little man’s depth of character,
even though he had never had the polish and opportunities given other
men.

“That’s what you-all think!” snapped Mrs. Alexander. “I bet you’ll find
him in the blackest gambling den of all this awful place.”

“Ma, you wait right where you are, and Mr. Fabian and I will find that
awful place and tell you if Pa is there,” said Dodo with a stern
expression.

“What! Let you go in such a place? No indeed! I’ll go with Mr. Fabian
myself if _anyone_ has to go,” declared Mrs. Alexander.

“I don’t want you to; you always nag at Pa and if you start in in a
crowd, I know just what he’ll do. It is better for me to go with Mr.
Fabian,—but I don’t believe he’s there!” declared Dodo.

“Perhaps Dodo is right, Mrs. Alexander. Let us go while you remain
quietly here with the others,” said Mr. Fabian.

So they hurried away, while the girls and the ladies walked about, or
sat down to watch the lovely scene in the Park. The two had been gone
about ten minutes, when Mr. Alexander was seen coming towards the group
on the bench, but he was not alone. A very pretty girl of about sixteen
years was with him. Dodo and Mr. Fabian were nowhere in sight.

“Hello there, Maggie,” called out Mr. Alexander, genially, as he came
within speaking distance of his wife. “I brought a ’Merican girl to
you-all, to take care of her as far as Nice. She thought she was lost,
but I soon showed her she was safe with us, until we landed her with her
folks.”

Everyone gazed at the well-dressed pretty girl in surprise. It was
evident from her red eyes that she had been crying a short time before.
But Mr. Alexander said no more about the incident at the moment, merely
introducing his companion as Genevieve Van Buren, of New York City.

“Where’s Dodo?” asked Mr. Alexander, suddenly missing his daughter when
he wished to introduce her to the newcomer.

“She went with my husband,” hastily replied Mrs. Fabian. “They’ll be
back in a few minutes. We are waiting for them, now.”

“Ebeneezer, where did you meet Miss Van Buren?” questioned his wife,
suspiciously.

“Oh, just outside that door, where we all went, last,” returned the
little man, indefinitely.

Mr. Fabian and Dodo were now seen coming out of the large building, and
Mr. Alexander glanced from them to his wife, with a knowing twinkle in
his eyes. Before anyone could say a word to Dodo, he spoke: “Well, so
you’ve been wastin’ all _your_ savings, too, eh?”

“Oh no! Mr. Fabian and I just wanted to see what the place looked like.
It is the most gorgeous hall I ever saw, and Mr. Fabian says it is well
worth seeing. Why don’t you come and have a look at it, Polly?” replied
Dodo.

When she was introduced to the strange girl, Dodo wondered how she came
to join their party but she said nothing. At last, Polly consented to go
and take a peep at the interior of the palace, but Miss Van Buren
preferred to remain on the bench with Mr. Fabian, while Mr. Alexander
escorted the ladies.

“That homely little man is wonderful, isn’t he?” asked Miss Van Buren,
in a humble little voice, when Mr. Fabian and she were quite alone.

“We think so. In fact, we like him so well that we fail to notice any
shortcomings.”

“I feel that I must tell someone what he did for me, a few moments ago,
although he was a total stranger,” continued the girl, her chin
quivering.

“Were you both in the gambling hall?” was all Mr. Fabian asked.

“No, but I had been there last night, and lost all my money in gambling.
Then I borrowed some cash, from a woman, on my jewels, and lost that
money, too. I never played before, and it was so terribly exciting that
I put aside every other thought but winning.

“The woman who had given me the money, had been very nice to me, when
she met me at the hotel; she it was who invited me to go with her to
visit the palace, just for fun. But it ended as such visits generally
do,” the girl’s lovely blue eyes filled with tears and she dabbed at
them, hurriedly.

“I was desperate, and wondered how I should get back to the party with
which I am touring Europe. I had no money to pay my way to Paris, and I
had nothing of value left with which I could get money.

“Mrs. Warburton who had been so kind, as I thought, had just proposed
paying my way to Paris and keeping me at her hotel until my party
arrived to call for me, when that little man walked slowly over and
stood looking at both of us.”

“‘Maybe you-all are an American?’ he asked Mrs. Warburton.

“She lifted her head and looked insolently at him. But she never said a
word. Then he went right on without caring how she looked. ‘I am an old
miner from the West. I’ve been in lots of evil places, and seen all
sorts of evil people, so I know one when I see and hear ’em. I’ve heard
all you offered to this young girl, but I’ll go your offer one better.
She comes with my wife and daughter and it won’t cost her a lifetime of
regrets.’”

The girl bowed her head and her slender form shook with sobs. Mr. Fabian
said nothing. He was too amazed to say a word.

Finally the girl continued, but her head was averted. “Something told me
to trust that homely little man so I looked at him and said, ‘I believe
you want to save me from some trouble?’

“‘That’s what I do, little gal. Just as I would want some one to help my
daughter if she needed help. Now tell me what’s all this about, and
maybe we can get down to brass tacks.’ He said it just that way,”
repeated Miss Van Buren, looking up at Mr. Fabian.

The gentleman smiled, and nodded understandingly.

“Well, he made that woman give up the jewels and he paid her back the
money for them, then he said to her: ‘You ought to be thankful that I am
touring with a party, or sure as I am a man, I’d hand you over to the
police for what I know you had planned in your evil mind.’ Then he made
me come away from her.

“When we were out of hearing he told me that from his experience in
mining-camps, and cities where miners go to spend their earnings, he
could tell that the woman was not right. He thinks she actually led me
_on_ to gamble, to ruin my chances of getting back to my friends.”

The innocent girl gazed at her companion, and Mr. Fabian nodded his head
understandingly, without saying a word. Then she continued: “But that is
terribly wicked! Why do they permit such things to happen here?”

“Why will people come here to visit the place with the sole idea of
going away with more money than they came? They ought to know that all
this lavish expenditure and display has to be maintained, and the money
for that comes out of the foolish gamesters who _always_ lose at such
tables,” said Mr. Fabian.

“I suppose I was very silly to leave my friends and come alone to Nice.
They wanted me to go with them, but I preferred this place to the Alps
and mountain climbing, so I agreed to meet them at Paris, later. I said
I was going to visit with some friends at Nice, but I believed I could
take care of myself. Now I think differently.”

Her voice was so repentant and meek that Mr. Fabian said: “Maybe this
lesson will prove to be the best one of your life. Let it teach you that
head-strong ways are always sure to end in a pitfall. And remember,
‘that a wolf generally prowls about in sheep’s clothing to devour the
innocent lamb.’ Thank goodness that you escaped the wolf—but thank Mr.
Alexander for being that goodness.”

The others returned, now, and as there was nothing more to visit at
Monte Carlo, they drove on to Nice to spend the night. The girls found
Genevieve Van Buren a most congenial companion and everyone showed a
keen desire to befriend her.

A telegram awaited her at Nice, and Mr. Alexander had the satisfaction
of reading it. Her friends, to whom he had wired from Monte Carlo when
he heard Genevieve’s story, said they would be at Paris the following
day.

Before Mr. Fabian and his companions drove away from Nice, they saw the
repentant girl safely on the train to Paris.

Having said good-by to Genevieve, the tourists left Nice; they drove to
Marseilles and the girls visited several mills where famous textiles are
woven.

Cannes was the next place the cars passed through, and then Aix was
reached. Mr. Fabian wished to stop long enough at this city, which was
founded B.C. 122 by a Roman named Sextius Calvinus, to show his students
the ruins and historic objects of antiquity.

At Avignon the tourists saw the famous bridge and the many notable and
ancient buildings—some ruins having remained there since the town was
founded by the Phœnicians in 600 B.C.

They stopped over-night at Avignon, and early in the morning, started
cross-country for Bordeaux. The roads were heavy and the travelling
slow, and they found it necessary to stop at the peasants’ homes and
ask, to make sure they were on the right road. At several of these
stops, Mr. Fabian and the girls acquired some old bits of pottery and
porcelain which the poor people were glad to sell, and the collectors
were over-joyed to buy.

All along the country route from Marseilles, the women seen wore
picturesque costumes, with heavy wooden shoes on their feet. These shoes
were lined with sheep-skin to protect the instep from bruises. The
children playing about their homes were scantily clothed, but their rosy
faces and plump little bodies spoke plainer than words, that they were
healthy and happy, and cared naught for style.

Quite often, when the cars passed over a stream, or ran along the banks
of a river, the occupants would see the peasant women washing linen in
the water. They knelt upon the bank, or upon a stone near the shore, and
beat the clothes with sticks as the water flowed through the pieces. The
garments were rinsed out and then wrung, before hanging upon the bushes
nearby to dry.

Mr. Alexander remarked: “Good for dealers in white goods.”



CHAPTER XIV—A HIGHWAYMAN IN DISGUISE


The roads were so poor that it was impossible to reach Bordeaux that
evening, and Mr. Fabian said it would be better to stop at a small Inn
in a village, should they find a promising one. Consequently they
decided that the clean little inn at Agen would answer their needs that
night.

The two cars were rolled under a shed at the back, and the guests were
shown to the low-ceiled chambers with primitive accommodations. But the
supper was good, and the host a jolly fat man.

While the tourists were finishing their coffee, a little bent man limped
into the public room. He had great hoops of gold in his ears, and his
costume was very picturesque. After he had been given a glass of
home-made wine, he sat down in a corner and began playing softly on an
accordion.

He had a marvelous talent for this instrument, and the girls crowded
about him, listening intently. Soon the host’s grown daughter came out
and danced a folk-dance, and then others danced the old-time French
dances. When the American girls were called upon to add their quota to
the evening’s entertainment, they gladly complied.

Polly and Eleanor, Dodo and Nancy danced the modern steps so popular
with young folks of the present day, and the peasants, watching closely,
laughed at what they considered awkward and ridiculous gambols. But the
dancing suddenly ceased when a young man called upon the musician to
have his fortune told; he held out his palm and waited to hear his
future.

Fully two hours were spent in laughing at the “fortunes” the old gipsy
man told—for he was one of the original Spanish gipsies, who had
wandered to the southern part of France and settled there for life.

The girls giggled and reviewed their fortunes that night long after they
had retired. As they had to occupy the two massive beds in one
guest-room, it gave them the better opportunity to talk when they should
have been fast asleep.

Finally they were ready to sleep and Polly was about to snuff the candle
before jumping into bed, when Nancy suddenly whispered: “S—sh!”

[Illustration: POLLY TIP-TOED TO THE WINDOW.]

The four sat up and strained their sense of hearing. “I heard a queer
noise just outside our door,” whispered Nancy.

“I’ll tip-toe over and see who it is,” whispered Polly, acting as she
spoke.

“No—no! Don’t open the door! That gipsy may be there,” cried Nancy,
fearfully.

But another scratching sound under the low window now drew all attention
to that place. Polly slowly tip-toed silently to the open window and
tried to peer out. The trees and vines made the back of the garden
shadowy and she could not see if anyone were under the window, or trying
to get in somewhere else.

The other three girls now crept out of bed and joined Polly at the
window. They waited silently, and were soon rewarded for their patience.
They distinctly heard voices almost under their window, whispering
carefully, so no one would be awakened.

“I think we ought to rouse Daddy, or Mr. Alexander,” said Nancy,
trembling with apprehension.

“You run and tell your father, while I get Pa out of bed,” said Dodo,
groping about for her negligee.

Meantime Polly and Eleanor watched so no one could get in at their
window, and the two other girls ran across the hall to their parents’
rooms. In a short time both Mr. Fabian and Mr. Alexander came in and
crept over to the window where the girls had heard the burglars
plotting.

Mr. Fabian understood French so now he interpreted what he overheard:
“Drop the bundle and I’ll catch it. Don’t make a noise, and be careful
not to overlook anything valuable.”

“Dear me! If they are burglars where is the one who is told to drop a
bundle? He must be inside, somewhere!” whispered Dodo, excitedly.

There followed a mumbling that no one could understand, and then a
splash,—as if a bundle of soft stuff had dropped into water from a
height. Immediately after this, the voice from below excitedly spoke to
the companion above: “——It fell in the well! Now what is to be done?”

“Goody! Goody!” breathed Polly, eagerly, when she heard how the burglars
had defeated their own purpose.

But no sound came from the other burglar who was working indoors, and
Mr. Alexander had an idea which he suggested to Mr. Fabian.

“You go downstairs softly, while I scout around up here and locate the
room where the helper is working. When I give a whistle it means ‘I’ve
got the other feller under hand’—then you catch your man, red-handed,
out in the garden, and the girls will rouse the house and we will
present our prisoners to the host.”

That sounded fine, so Mr. Alexander hurried to his room for his western
gun, and started out to hunt up the indoor worker. Mrs. Alexander
realized that he was about to do something unusual, or he never would
have taken his big revolver.

“Ebeneezer, what is wrong? Are we in danger of being robbed?”

“I’m going to catch one before we can think if there is any danger, for
anyone,” said her husband, going for the door.

“Listen, Ebeneezer! Don’t you go and risk your life for that! You
promised to take care of me first! Let Mr. Fabian, or some of the
Frenchmen here, try and catch the man!” cried Mrs. Alexander,
hysterically, running after her spouse.

But the little man was spry and he was out of the door and down the
entry before his wife reached the doorway. There was but one alternative
for her, and that was to go to the girls’ room and pour her troubles
forth into their ears.

But the four girls were too intent upon what was going on to sympathize
with Mrs. Alexander. Dodo merely said, in reply to her mother’s
complaints: “Get into my bed, Ma, and pull the covers over your head, if
you’re so frightened.”

All this time, the man down in the garden was directing his associate
above, and at last the girls indistinctly saw someone slowly descend,
what seemed to be a rope hanging close to the side of the house. They
held their breath and waited, for Mr. Fabian surely must have reached
the garden by this time and would be ready to capture the escaping
thieves, before they could get away.

But a loud shouting and a great confusion in the large public room drew
their attention to the upper hall, where they could hear what was going
on below. Mrs. Fabian joined her friends in the entry at the head of the
stairs and they heard the host shout:

“So! You look like a decent gentleman and you creep down here to take my
living from me! Shame, shame!”

Then to the horror of the girls, they heard Mr. Fabian remonstrate
volubly and try to explain his reason for going about the place so
stealthily.

Mrs. Fabian rushed down the stairs, regardless of her curl-papers and
kimono, and the girls followed closely upon her heels. Only Mrs.
Alexander remained upstairs under the bed-covers, thinking discretion to
be the better part of valor.

The host and some other guests were surrounding Mr. Fabian who tried to
explain that Mr. Alexander and he were following burglars who were
looting the place. The host smiled derisively, and told his guest to
prove what he said was true.

Just then Mrs. Alexander screamed, and came pell-mell down the stairs.
“Oh, oh! A gipsy man came out of the _girls’_ room!”

Everyone ran upstairs to catch the trespasser, but he was not to be
found. Then a scuffle, and confused shouts from the garden, reached the
ears of the crowd who stood wondering what next to do. A clear shrill
whistle echoed through the place, and Mr. Fabian turned impatiently.

“Now you’ve spoiled the arrest of those two burglars. I was to get the
outside man when that whistle sounded, to tell me that Mr. Alex had the
inside man safely in hand.”

But the shouting and whistling sounded more confused on the garden-side
of the house, so they all ran downstairs again, and went out to assist
in any way they might.

Someone was hanging on to someone else who clung for dear life to a
thick vine that grew up the side wall and over the roof of the inn. It
was this rope-like vine that the girls had mistaken for a rope of escape
for the thief. Mr. Alexander was in the garden, trying to drag down the
escaping burglar, while that individual was trying to climb back into
the room whence he had recently come.

Just as the others rushed out into the dark garden to assist Mr.
Alexander, another man appeared at the upper window and caught hold of
his associate’s hands to pull him back to safety.

“Wait! I get my ladder!” shouted the host, running for the shed. But a
howl of rage, and French curses tumbling pell-mell from him told the
others that he had gone headlong into a new danger.

Mr. Fabian and the young man-waiter ran to help the poor inn-keeper, and
to their amazement they found he had collided with Mrs. Alexander’s
roadster which was standing behind the bushes, facing towards the road.

“I’ll turn on the lights, in a moment, and see if all is right,” quickly
said Mr. Fabian, jumping up to start the engine.

Before he could switch on the lights, however, a general shout of dismay
came from the people assembled under the window, and the three men ran
back to see what had happened.

The second-story windows were not more than eight feet above the garden
at the rear, as the ground sloped down gradually to the front of the
Inn. The first story was very low, too, so that anyone could climb up at
the rear without difficulty.

When Mr. Fabian and his two companions reached the scene under the
windows, they found three people rolling upon the ground in a tight
clutch. The man from the inside of the room who had been finally pulled
out and over the ledge; the man who had clung to the vine, for some
reason or other, and the third man who had stood at the bottom of the
vine and hung on to the climbing man’s heels.

From this mêlée of three, Mr. Alexander’s voice sounded clear and
threatening. A deep bass voice gurgled as if in extremity, but the third
voice was shrill and hysterical and sounded like a woman’s.

Lights were hurried to the spot, and the three contestants were
separated, then Mr. Alexander had the satisfaction of turning to the
inn-keeper and saying: “I caught them both without help. I saved your
place from being robbed.”

But one of the two captured burglars sat down on the grass and began to
sob loudly. The host seemed distracted for a moment, then tore off the
big soft hat the gypsy wore. Down came a tangle of hair, and his
daughter turned a dirt-streaked face up at her furious father.

“What means this masquerading! And who is the accomplice?” shouted he.

“Oh, father,” wailed the girl. “Pierre and I were married at the Fête
last week, but you would not admit him to the house and I never could
get away, so we said we would _run_ away together and start a home
elsewhere,” confessed the frightened daughter.

Pierre stood by, trembling in fear of his father-in-law, but when
everyone realized that poor Pierre was but trying to secure his bride’s
personal effects which she had tied in several bundles, they felt sorry
for the two.

It had been Pierre’s idea to dress Jeanne in a gypsy’s garb that no one
could recognize her when they escaped, and it was Jeanne who suggested
that they use the roadster to carry all her effects, and then Pierre
could drive it back and leave it near the inn without the owner’s
knowledge.

The father led his two prisoners to the public-room and the guests
trailed behind them, wondering at such an elaborate plan for escape when
the two had been married a week and might have walked out quietly
without disturbing others, at night.

In an open session of the parental court, the inn-keeper was induced to
forgive the culprits and take the undesirable Pierre to his heart and
home. Then everyone smiled, and the waiter proposed that the host open a
bottle of his best old wine to celebrate the reception of the married
pair.

“Why did you object to the young man? He looks like a good boy?” asked
Mr. Fabian, when the young pair were toasted and all had made merry over
the capture of the two.

“He has a farm four miles out, and I want a son who will run this inn
when I am too old. He dislikes this business and I dislike farming. So
there you are!” explained the host.

“But you won’t have to work the farm,” argued Mr. Fabian. “You have the
inn and many years of good health before you to enjoy it, and they have
the farm. I think the two will work together, very nicely, for you can
get all your vegetables and eggs and butter from your daughter, much
cheaper than from strangers.”

“Ah yes! I never thought of that!” murmured the inn-keeper, and a smile
of satisfaction illumed his heavy face.

The next morning the young pair were in high favor with the father, and
he was telling his son-in-law about various things he must raise on his
farm so that both families might save money.

Then the tourists drove away from Agen with the inn-keeper’s blessings
ringing in their ears, and after a long tiresome drive they came to
Bordeaux. Various places of interest were visited in this city, and the
next day they drove on again.

Brittany, with its wealth of old chateaux, was reached next, and time
was spent prodigally, that the girls might view the wonderful old places
where tourists were welcomed.



CHAPTER XV—AHOY! FOR THE STARS AND STRIPES AGAIN


Finally the tourists stopped at Nantes where the famous edict of Henri
the IVth was proclaimed in 1598. Then they drove on to Angers, with the
old Chateau d’ Angers, built by Louis IXth, about 1250.

They stopped over night at Angers and drove to Saumur the next day,
where several pieces of rare old tapestry were seen in the ancient
church of St. Pierre.

That night they reached Tours where they planned to stop, in order to
make an early start for Loches with its famous chateau. Adjoining this
chateau was a thousand-year-old church of St. Ours which Mr. Fabian
desired to show the girls.

The old keeper of the church mentioned the Chateau of Amboise which was
only a short distance further on the road and was said to be well worth
visiting. So they drove there and saw the chapel of St. Hubert which was
built by Charles the VIIth. Here lies buried the remains of Leonardo da
Vinci, the famous painter.

While at St. Hubert’s Chapel, the tourists heard of still another
ancient chateau of the 10th century, which was but a few miles further
on, on the Loire. As this Chateau ’de Chaumont was only open to visitors
on certain days and this day happened to be one of those days, they
visited the place.

“My gracious!” exclaimed Mr. Alexander, when they came from the last
ancient pile. “I’ll be so glad to get back to Denver, where the oldest
house is only half a century old, that I won’t say a word if you’ll
agree to only use another precious week lookin’ at these moldy old rocks
and moss-back roofs.”

His friends laughed, for they knew him well by this time. Mrs.
Alexander, however, was not so thankful to go back to Denver, nor was
she willing to see any more old chateaux. So she said: “Let’s drive on
to Paris where we have so much shopping to do.”

“Oh no, Ma. The keeper of that last chateau told us there was the finest
old place of all, a few miles on, so we want to see that as long as we
are here,” said Dodo.

“All right, then! You-all go on and see it, but I’ll stay here,”
declared Mrs. Alexander.

“I don’t want to see any more ruins, Maggie, so s’pose you and I drive
in your car and let Dodo drive the touring car to any old stone-heap
they want to visit,” said Mr. Alexander.

“All right, Ebeneezer. I honestly believe I’d rather sit beside you, in
my new car, than have to limp around these old houses,” sighed Mrs.
Alexander.

Her words were not very gracious, but her spouse thought that, being her
guest in the new car, was better than having to wait for hours outside a
ruin. So Dodo drove her friends on to the Chateau de Blois, and they
inspected the old place, then saw the famous stable that was built to
accommodate twelve hundred horses at one time.

“Here we are, but a short distance from Orleans—why not run over there
and visit the place, then drive back to Nantes to meet your father and
mother,” suggested Mr. Fabian.

“It seems too bad that we have to go all the way back for them, when we
are so near Paris, now,” said Dodo.

“Oh, but we haven’t finished the most interesting section of France,
yet!” exclaimed Eleanor, who had been looking over Mr. Fabian’s
road-map.

“In that case, I fear we will lose Ma for company,” said Dodo,
laughingly. “As we come nearer Paris, she is more impatient to reach
there. She may suddenly take it into her head to let her car skid along
the road that leads away from us and straight for Paris.”

From Nantes they drove straight on without stopping until Caens was
reached; Mr. Fabian pointed out various places along the road, and told
of famous historical facts in connection with them, but they did not
visit any of the scenes.

Caen, with its old churches and quaint buildings, was very interesting
to the girls. Then at Bayeaux they went to see the wonderful Bayeaux
tapestry which was wrought by Matilda and her Ladies in Waiting in 1062.
This tapestry is two hundred and thirty feet long and twenty inches
wide, but it pictures the most marvellous historical scenes ever
reproduced in weaving.

From Bayeaux they went to Mont St. Michel to see the eight hundred
year-old monastery which is so well preserved. Rouen, the capital of
Normandy, was the next stopping place on the itinerary, and here they
saw many ancient Norman houses as well as churches. But the principal
point of interest for the girls, was the monument in Rouen, erected to
the memory of Joan of Arc, who was burned to death for her faith.

The night they spent at Rouen, Mr. Alexander had a serious talk with Mr.
Fabian and his girls.

“You see, I want to please you-all, but Maggie won’t stand for any more
of this gallivantin’ around old churches. I’m gettin’ awful tired of it,
myself, but then I don’t count much, anyway.

“Maggie says she’s goin’ right on to Paris, whether you-all do so or
not; and if I let her go there alone, she’ll buy her head off with fine
clothes, and then Dodo and me won’t know what to do to cart them all
back to the States. So I have to go with her in self-defense, you
understand!”

They laughed at the worried expression on the little man’s face, and Mr.
Fabian said: “Well, Mr. Alex, we are through sight-seeing for this time,
anyway, so we may as well run back to Paris when you do.”

“Oh, that’s good news! Almost as good as if I won the first prize in the
Louisanny Lottery!” laughed Mr. Alexander, jocosely.

So they all drove to Paris, where Mr. Ashby was to meet them, in a few
days. As Mr. Alexander deftly threaded the car in and out through the
congested traffic, he sighed and said: “I never thought I’d be so glad
to see this good-for-nothin’ town again. But I’ve been so tossed and
torn tourin’ worst places, that even Paris looks good to me, now.”

His friends laughed and his wife said: “Why, it is the most wonderful
city in the world! I am going to enjoy myself all I can in the next
three days.”

“You’d better, Maggie! ’cause we are leavin’ this wild town in just
three days’ time!” declared Mr. Alexander.

“Why—where are you going, then?” asked Mrs. Alexander, surprised at her
husband’s determined tone.

“Straight back to Denver, as fast as a ship and steam-cars will carry
us!”

“Never! Why, Ebeneezer, I haven’t succeeded in doing what I came over
for,” argued Mrs. Alexander.

“No, thank goodness; and Dodo says she’s standin’ for a career now,”
laughed Mr. Alexander. “I agree with her, and she can start right in
this Fall to study Interior Decoratin’, if she likes.”

Mrs. Alexander did not reply, and no one knew what she thought of Dodo’s
determination, but when all the shopping was done, and Mr. Ashby met
them at the hotel, she seemed as anxious as the others, to start for
home.

“We are to pick up Ruth and Mrs. Ashby at Dover, you know,” said Mr.
Ashby, when he concluded his plans for the return home.

“Well, we have had a wonderful tour out of this summer. I never dreamed
there were so many marvellous things to see, in Europe,” said Polly.

That evening, several letters were handed to the Fabian party, and among
them was one for Polly and another for Eleanor. Polly’s was stamped “Oak
Creek” and the hand-writing looked a deal like Tom Larimer’s. But
Eleanor’s was from Denver and Dodo cried teasingly: “Oh, I recognize
Paul Stewart’s writing! It hasn’t changed one bit since he was a boy and
used to send me silly notes at school.”

Eleanor laughed at that, but why should she blush? Polly gazed
thoughtfully at her, and decided that Nolla must have no foolish love
affair, yet—not even with Paul Stewart!

Then Eleanor caught Polly’s eye and seemed to comprehend what was
passing through her mind. She quickly rose to the occasion.

“Polly, if I confess that my letter is from Paul, will you own up that
yours is from Tom—and tell us the truth about the American Beauty
Roses?”

Polly became as crimson as the roses mentioned, and sent her chum a look
that should have annihilated her. But Eleanor laughed.

That evening, as the merry party sat at dinner in the gay Parisian
dining-room, Mr. Alexander suddenly sat up. His lower jaw dropped. He
was opposite a wall-mirror and in its reflection he could see who came
in at the door back of him.

He had been telling a funny incident of the tour and had but half
finished it, so his abrupt silence caused everyone to look at him. His
expression then made the others turn and look at what had made him
forget his story.

In the doorway stood Count Chalmys, looking around the room. Now his
eyes reached the American party at the round table and he smiled
delightedly. In another moment he was across the room and bowing before
the ladies.

Mr. Alexander grunted angrily and kept his eyes upon his plate. He never
wanted to see another man who had a title! But his wife made amends for
his apparent disregard for conventions. She made room beside herself and
insisted that the Count sit down and dine.

“I never had a pleasanter surprise,” said he. “I expected to see the
Marquis here, but I find my dear American friends, instead.”

“Humph! What play are you acting in now, Count?” asked Mr. Alexander,
shortly.

“That’s what brought me to Paris. I was to meet the Marquis here, and we
both were to sail from Havre, day after tomorrow. We have accepted a
long engagement with a leading picture company in California, so I am to
go across, at once,” explained the Count, nothing daunted by Mr.
Alexander’s tone and aggressive manner.

“Oh really! How perfectly lovely for us all!” exclaimed Mrs. Alexander,
clasping her hands in joy.

Then she turned to her daughter who seemed not to be giving as much
attention to the illustrious addition to the party, as Mrs. Alexander
thought proper.

“Dodo, _must_ you talk such nonsense with Polly when our dear Count is
with us and, most likely, has wonderful things to tell us of his
adventures since last we saw him at his beautiful palace?”

“Oh, I beg your pardon, Ma, but I didn’t know the Count had said
anything to me,” hastily returned Dodo.

“I really haven’t, as yet, Miss Alexander, but there is every symptom
that something is being mulled over in my brain,” was the merry retort
from the Count.

“All the same, Dodo, I want you to give attention to the dear Count, now
that he is with us, once more,” said Mrs. Alexander, with such dignity
as would suit the mother-in-law of a Count.

“Aye, aye, Sir!” laughed the irrepressible Dodo, bringing her right hand
to her forehead in a military salute.

“I joined the party, just now, merely to share a very felicitous secret
with you. One that I feel sure you will all be pleased to hear. Perhaps
the three young ladies in the group will be more interested in my secret
than the matrons,” ventured Count Chalmys, with charming
self-consciousness.

Instantly, Mrs. Alexander interpreted the secret as one that meant
success to her strenuous endeavors to find a “title” for her daughter.
She had heard that foreign nobility made no secret of love or proposals,
but spoke to interested friends of intentions to marry, even before the
young woman had been told or had accepted a proposal of marriage. This,
then, must be what Count Chalmys was about to tell them.

“Oh, my _dear_ Count! Before you share that secret with every one,
especially while the children are present, wouldn’t you just as soon
wait and have a private little chat with me?” gushed Mrs. Alexander,
tapping him fondly on the cheek with her feather fan.

The Count stared at her in perplexity for he was not following her mood,
nor did he give one fleeting thought to such foolishness as she endowed
him with entertaining.

“_You_ know, my dear Count! I am speaking of certain little personal
matters regarding settlements and such like, which I only can discuss
with you, satisfactorily. After that, you can confide in the others, if
you like. However, I should think you would speak to the one most
concerned, before you mention it in public.” Mrs. Alexander spoke in
confidential tones meant only for the Count’s ear.

“My dear lady! I haven’t the slightest idea what you mean. I was only
going to tell my good friends, here, that——”

“Yes, yes! I know what you were going to say, _dear_ Count,” hastily
interrupted Mrs. Alexander, “but allow me to advise you: Say nothing
until after I have had a private talk with you. I am sure Dodo will look
at things very differently after I have had time to get your view-points
and then tell them to her.”

Count Chalmys began to receive light on the hitherto unenlightening
advices from the earnest lady. He now had difficulty in hiding a broad
smile. But Mrs. Alexander paid no heed to him.

“You see, Count dear, we shall have several wonderful days on this trip
across, in which you can make the best of your opportunities with Dodo,
but really, I think it wise to consult with me first.”

“My dear Mrs. Alexander! won’t you permit me to explain myself, before
you go deeper into this problem from which you will have chagrin in
finding a pleasant way out?” asked the Count.

Mrs. Alexander gazed at him in frowning perplexity. “What is the happy
secret you wished to share with us, if it is not your intention to
propose to one of the young ladies in our party?”

“I am to have a third member in my party, this trip, although she is not
one of the company in California,” said the Count, smilingly. “I mean
the pretty girl who played in the picture in Venice. We were married
last week, and having settled all matters at Chalmys and leased the
place for a term, we will remain in the United States for a long time.”

At this unexpected information, Mrs Alexander almost swooned, but her
husband seemed to change his manners as quickly as if they were old
clothes. He smiled cordially at the Count and suggested a toast to his
bride—but the toast was given with Ginger Ale.

That evening the Count introduced his Countess, and Mrs. Alexander
gritted her teeth in impotent rage. “Oh, how nearly had she plucked this
prize for Dodo, and now he had married a plain little actress!” thought
she.

But she never knew that the Count had been attentive to his lady-love
for three years before Mrs. Alexander ever met him. Had it not been for
the heavy debts of his Italian Estate, he would never have delayed his
proposal. Even as it was, he found happiness to be more important in
life than wealth and a palace.

The young countess was very pretty and promised to be a welcome addition
to the group of young folks. Polly, Eleanor and Dodo liked her
immensely, from the moment they saw her charming smile as she
acknowledged the introductions. Evidently she was very glad to find a
number of young Americans of her own age with whom she could associate
on the trip across the Atlantic.

Everyone but Mrs. Alexander, made the young couple feel very much at
ease. Ebeneezer Alexander saw and understood his wife’s aloofness and
straightway he decided to speak a bit of his mind to her as soon as they
were in the shelter of their own suite at the hotel.

“Now, lem’me tell you what, Maggie! I ain’t goin’ to have you actin’
like all get-out, just because Chalmys went and married the gal he
loved, disappointin’ you, thereby. Even if he had gone your way of
plannin’, and ast Dodo to marry him, I’d have to say ‘NO!’ He’s saved me
from hurtin’ his feelin’s, see?”

Mrs. Alexander tried to stare her insignificant lord into silence, but
the little man had found his metal while traveling with appreciative
people, and he was not to be downed any more by mere looks and empty
words from his wife.

“Yeh! you kin sit there and stare all you like but stares don’t hurt and
they ain’t changin’ the case, at all. Dodo wasn’t a-goin’ to marry no
one, not even if you cried your head off for it, ’cause she’s made up
her mind to try out decoratin’ for a time. So you jest watch your p’s
and q’s when you’re mixin’ in with the Chalmys; and don’t show your
ignerence of perlite society by actin’ upish and jealous as a cat.”

Whether this sound advice actually had its effect upon Mrs. Alexander,
or whether she forgot her chagrin, it is hard to say; but at all events,
she smiled sweetly upon the Chalmys the next time she met them.

A few days later, the steamer stopped at Dover and Mr. Ashby was
delighted to have his wife and Ruth with him again.

They were several days out, when Mrs. Alexander realized that Count
Chalmys was only an ordinary mortal! She thought over this revelation
for a time, and finally remarked to Dodo and the others: “I am so glad
the Count didn’t fall in love with Dodo. The little dear would never
have been happy with him.”

“When did you discover that fact, Maggie?” asked her husband,
quizzically.

“Why, a long time ago. I was so disgusted with folks who claim a title,
and then turn out to be factory men like that Osgood family. And now
this Count is nothing but a play-actor! Dodo will be far better off if
she falls in love with a first-class American, say I!”

“Hurrah, Maggie! You’ve opened your eyes at last!” cried little Mr.
Alexander.

“But you will be made still happier, Ma, to hear that I am in love,
now!” declared Dodo, teasingly.

“What! Who is he?” demanded her mother.

“Ask Eleanor and Polly. They introduced me to my future lord,” giggled
Dodo.

“Oh, she means her career, Mrs. Alex,” said Polly.

 “Oh, Dodo!” wailed her mother. “You won’t go to work, will you, when
your father’s worth a million dollars?”

“All the more reason for it! I’m going to marry a profession, just as
Polly and Eleanor are, and we three are going to be the most famous
decorators in the world.”

“And I am goin’ to build a swell mansion in New York and turn the
contract for fixin’s, over to these three partners!” declared little Mr.
Alexander.

That trip across the Atlantic was a merry one for the girls, for the
“Marquis” and his friend, aided by the Count and the young Countess,
were a never failing source of entertainment for all. They mimicked and
acted, whenever occasion offered, so that there was no time for dull
care or monotony.

While abroad, the Count had secured a small motion picture outfit; this
was brought out and several amusing pictures made on the steamer. They
were hastily developed and printed and shown at night, to the
passengers. It proved to be very interesting to see one’s self on the
screen, acting and looking so very differently than one imagines himself
to act and look.

After the second attempt at this form of amusement, Polly made a
suggestion.

“Wouldn’t it be heaps of fun if each one of us were to go away, alone,
and write a chapter of a story for the Count to film. It will be a
regular hodge-podge!”

“Oh, that’s great!” exclaimed Eleanor, eagerly.

The others seemed to think it would be entertaining, too, so the Count
gave them a few important advices to note.

“Let us decide upon the characters, the plot, and the place, of the
scenario; then each one write out a condensed chapter, or reel, of the
play. Follow these directions. Write your story in continuity; leave out
all adjectives, but give us action as expressed by verbs; do not write
more than two hundred words in a reel, or chapter. If you find you have
more than that in your part of the programme, you’ll have to cut it
down. And let each one remember to keep her personal work a profound
secret. That will insure a surprise when the whole picture is reeled
off.

“Now, Miss Polly, you start the scenario, will you, and give us the
first act, or reel. Then Miss Nolla will do the second act, or reel;
Miss Ruth, the third; Miss Dodo, the fourth, Miss Fabian the fifth, and
my wife can wind up the play, or picture, by writing the final reel. Any
questions?”

“Who are the characters?” asked Polly, laughingly.

“Why, ourselves, of course. Because we must act in the photoplay, you
see, in lieu of other performers. For instance, we will choose Miss
Polly as the star lead, Janet Schuyler, in the play; Miss Nolla will be
the vamp, Lois Miller, who is jealous of the lovely and prominent
society girl; Miss Dodo will be the reporter, Miss Johnson, on a big
daily paper who writes up the story for her paper; Miss Ruth can be the
hard-working shop-girl, Esther Brown, who is made a scapegoat in the
case. Miss Nancy could be the head of the department in the store, Miss
Buskin, to whom the trouble is referred for adjustment; Alec will be the
floor-walker and the Marquis can be the young man Reginald Deane—unless
Miss Polly is too particular about her beaux.”

This brought forth a laugh at Polly’s expense.

“Mr. Ashby ought to make a good father for the society girl, and Mr.
Alexander will make a good man to adjust the lighting apparatus. I will
need the artistic help of Mr. Fabian in directing the scenes while I
have charge of the camera. Now, any more questions, before you go away
to start your writing?”

The Count was greatly interested in this plan for fun and, finding there
were too many questions instantly poured out for him to answer, he made
a suggestion.

“Each one go and do the best you can, then come to me if you find any
snags too hard to remove from your literary pathway. I will have to go
over each reel, anyway, when the whole is done.”

For the rest of that morning, no one saw nor heard of either of the
young people, but at luncheon, there was such a babel of voices that Mr.
Fabian rapped upon the table and called all to order.

“Hear, hear! The camera-man wishes to say a word!” laughed the Count.

There was instant silence.

“I have been handed three chapters of the scenario and I wish to say, if
the other three are as good as the first ones, we will have a thriller.
In the words of the publicity man, we shall produce a ‘gripping,
heart-melting drama of unprecedented greatness and magnificence.’ For
quintessence of perfection in pictures, this latest production of ours
promises to ‘skin ’em’ all to the bone.’ Fellow-craftsmen! Go back to
your work as soon as this bit of sustenance for the inner man is over,
and dream of the success your pen is bound to win!—the glory and honor
about to rest upon your noble brows for achieving such a great thing as
the breathless, throbbing, soul-moving, passionate story of ‘Gladys the
Shop-Girl’!”

The amateur play-wrights laughed merrily at their manager’s comment upon
their dramatic work, but they lost no time in gossiping at the table,
that noon. Before the dessert had been served, the girls excused
themselves and ran back to their work.

That evening all efforts were in Count Chalmys’ hands and he was
besieged for a report on the progress of the drama. He sent out word
that he was to be left absolutely in peace for an hour and then he would
appear with the hinged together chapters of a six-reel play.

After dinner, that night, a curious and impatient group of authors sat
in one of the smaller saloons, watching the Count assemble the pages of
the scenario. He had actually typed them on his folding typewriter and
now came across the room, smiling encouragingly upon his company.

“Well, we haven’t such a tame play as everyone thought we would be sure
to produce. All told, you will find the six reels fit in pretty good,
one to the other, in continuity, but I shall have to exchange the
chapters by Nolla and Dodo, as to priority. ‘Now listen, my children,
and you shall hear’ etc.—you know the rest!” The Count laughed as he
sat down.

“A-hem!” he cleared his throat as a starter. “The name of the play has
been suggested by six writers, so I will have to have the title chosen
by vote. A closed poll, probably, to avoid the usual fight in politics.
First title:

“‘Life’s Thorny Road.’ This was submitted by Ruth Ashby.

“‘The Great Secret,’ is the second title, given by Nolla.

“‘His Easy Conquest,’ is third, submitted by Rose Chalmys.

“‘Her Friend’s Husband,’ is one suggested by Dodo Alexander.

“‘Greatest Thing on Earth,’ is given us by Nancy Fabian.

“‘Just a Nobody,’ is the one suggested by Polly Brewster. Now, friends,
which of these titles do you think will draw the largest crowds and make
the production a certain success,—financially, of course. That is all
the corporations care about, you know.”

Count Chalmys smiled as he noted the faces in the semi-circle about him.
Then Mr. Fabian spoke.

“Will you have to take a vote on that? I believe we can decide the
question without going to all the trouble of having a box and officers
to guard the voting.”

“How many are in favor of voting by a standing vote?” called the Count.
Every hand went up.

“All right. Now, then, when I call off the different titles as they come
in order, those in favor of said title please rise and remain standing
until we can count.”

The suggestion of there being any work attached to the counting of one
or two voters caused a ripple of merriment from the small group.

“How many favor title one, ‘Life’s Thorny Road’?”

Mr. and Mrs. Ashby stood up. Not even Ruth favored her own work but her
doting parents did. This caused a general laugh at their expense and so
they seated themselves, again.

“Who favors the second, ‘The Great Secret’?” asked the amateur manager.

Nolla had faith in herself, and so had Polly. But two votes could not
carry the day, and they sat down again.

“Well, how about ‘His Easy Conquest’? Who wants that?”

No one stood up at this title, and every one laughed at the Countess;
she laughed more merrily than the others.

“Next comes, ‘Her Friend’s Husband’—by Dodo Alexander.”

Dodo’s father and Polly voted for this title, but they were over-ruled
by the others.

“‘Greatest Thing on Earth,’ by Miss Fabian—how about that?”

No one stirred at that invitation to vote, and the Count laughingly
remarked, “Your talent is not appreciated, Miss Fabian.

“This is the last one, friends, and we have not yet had a majority of
voters decide upon one of the others so you must be waiting for this
one! Now, who wants ‘Just a Nobody’?”

At this, everyone but Polly stood up, and without further ado the
manager acclaimed Polly’s title as the prize-winner.

“All right, then; the photo-drama about to be played will be called
‘Just a Nobody,’ title by Miss Polly Brewster; directed by Professor
Fabian; assisted by Mr. Alexander; Camera-man, Chalmys, etc., etc.”

The very select audience laughed at the Count’s mimicry of all the
first-snaps of a feature play, in which every one is mentioned, even the
pet cat or canary which stood near when the reels were run off.

“Now for the gist of this whole thing—the story. I will open the
picture by reading from Polly Brewster’s chapter.

“‘Janet Schuyler was a regulation young debutante in New York’s social
circle—snobbish, arrogant, vain. Young admirer worth millions, not in
love with her, but nearing that fatal crisis. Janet’s mother, usual
social aspirant for daughter,—father reverse of such qualities. Scene
in large department store, Janet accuses meek young saleswoman of taking
her purse which had been placed on counter a moment before. Girl,
frightened, denies the charge. Mrs. Schuyler creates scene—buyer of the
department hurries to scene to defend girl. Mrs. S— demands
floor-walker to take girl to dressing room and search her for purse.
Being prominent charge-customer, Mrs S— has her way, and weeping Esther
is forced to small sideroom to be ignominiously disrobed and carefully
searched.

“‘At counter young vamp who stood near Janet Schuyler, leaves hurriedly
and is about to make for the door when a bright-looking young woman
placed detaining hand upon her arm. Vamp is persuaded to step to a
corner of the store and answer questions, because she mistook woman for
private store detective. Young woman, who is a reporter, takes notes of
moment, then says peremptorily: ‘Hand over that purse or you’ll get more
than you want!’ Vamp registers personal affront! Acts indignant.
Reporter laughs, insists upon having purse. Vamp angry, threatens the
law if she is detained. Reporter now ill at ease and lets vamp go.
Hurries back to counter where Esther arrives, followed by gesticulating
accuser and her daughter. Floor-walker promises to search further but
insists that accused girl was innocent of the theft.

“‘Mrs. S— and daughter turn to leave store when reporter accosts them
and hands them her card. Says she will write up this negligence of the
authorities in a high-class shop. Mrs. S— decides to punish the firm
for their carelessness and tells the reporter what she believes to be
the truth—purse was stolen by girl.

“‘Miss Johnson, the young reporter, knows better than this, but assents
with lady. She determines to have a talk with Esther and find out
whether, or no, she saw the beaded purse claimed to have been stolen.

“‘Esther tells how Miss S— fumbled over many boxes of lace and then
said to her mother: ‘Wait here—I’ll go across to the opposite counter
and look at that net before I decide.’ Then the society girl turned her
back and stooped over the display of net and beaded trimming. No clerk
was near to wait on her, and the girl at the lace-counter was called
upon to serve another customer, and that kept her from watching Janet
Schuyler.’”

This ended Polly’s allotment of words in the scenario, and then the
Count announced, “I will proceed to read Dodo’s story because it fits in
here better than elsewhere in the script.

“‘Pretty little shop-girl, while waiting for customer, has visions of
comfortable home back on the farm. (Show scene of girl in rural life,
walking home from district school-house with handsome lad of
fourteen—evidently admirer.) Esther sighs, as she remembers the day
Reggie’s father moved from the village to go to Texas to raise cattle.
She had never heard again from Reggie, and believes he has forgotten her
entirely.

“‘Then comes Mrs. Schuyler and her daughter to look at laces. Esther
overhears society girl plan dress for conquest of young man, then hears
mother mention name of Deane—and tells daughter she must capture such a
prize as the heir to his father’s millions in oil-lands of the
South-west. Esther, excited, is about to ask the two haughty ladies for
Reginald Deane’s city address, when the floor-walker frowns upon her and
thus ends her attempt to secure the desired information.

“‘A young lady, waiting for her turn, watches the two rich customers and
when they have gone she speaks to the shop-girl. ‘Who are they?’ Esther
explains by showing name of charge account and address. ‘Well, I have my
own opinion of them. I think they are nobodies, if you ask me. I’ve seen
so many climbers that I can spot them at once.’

“‘This opens a pleasant chat between the girl and the young journalist,
Esther speaking of Reginald Deane, and Miss Johnson giving Esther her
card and asking her to come in some evening when she has nothing better
to do. Esther promises and watches while Miss Johnson leaves.

“‘That evening, in her meagre little room, Esther takes up the card
again, and dreams of an evening in the near future when she shall meet
the pleasant young woman, again.

“‘Few days later—Esther receives invitation to small party at Miss
Johnson’s bachelor apartment, and is duly elated over the event. Dresses
in her best frock, which is simple voile, home-made, and starts out.
Miss Johnson has two other young women and four young men present, when
Esther arrives and is introduced. One of the men gazes intently at her,
during the evening, then whispers to his hostess, ‘That girl reminds me
of someone I know or have seen, and I can’t place her.’ Miss Johnson
gives him Esther’s history, and he exclaims ‘That’s it! She’s the
school-girl my friend talks about—he has a picture of her taken years
ago when he lived in the country.’

“‘Miss Johnson calls to Esther and tells her the news and the girl is
thrilled at hearing where she can find Reginald, and then the young man
promises to bring him soon, to see Esther. Esther walks home with
William Stratford that night, talking of nothing but Reggie and their
schooldays. But she is not aware of Reggie’s inheritance of millions of
dollars’ worth of oil-wells.’

“The third installment by Ruth Ashby, works in here, all right, so I
will read it,” announced the Count, and continued his reading.

“‘Miss Schuyler was giving a ball. Her new evening costume had not yet
arrived from the exclusive importers on Fifth Avenue and she was
storming around the house, driving everyone insane with her complaints
against the Frenchman.

“‘The doorbell rang, Miss S— waited in the front hall to see if it
might be a messenger with the gown. When she spied a meek little face
peering over the great box, she called insolently, ‘Bring her right in
here, James. I want to give her a piece of my mind for dallying this
way!’

“‘Frightened little Esther tip-toed across the rich rug and waited to be
told to open the box and remove the gorgeous gown. She obeyed with
trembling fingers, kneeling upon the floor in order to undo the knot of
twine. As she did so, a young man entered the front door and was told
that Miss Janet was in the small reception room. He started for that
room without waiting to be announced.

“‘The moment Janet saw the much desired young heir of millions, standing
in the doorway, she hastily commanded the girl to stop removing the
gown, for she did not wish to have her caller see the dress before the
proper time that evening.

“‘Janet Schuyler went forward to speak to the young man and Esther sat
back to rest and see who had interrupted the scene between herself and
the society girl. She was astounded to find that the young man was no
other than her old school-mate, Reginald Deane, whom she had not heard
of since they were children at school.

“‘The moment Reginald recognized Esther, he ran forward and showed how
delighted he was to meet her once more. He paid no heed to her shabby
dress or meek behavior, but turned to introduce her to his young
hostess. When he saw the expression of scorn and hauteur on Janet’s face
he realized that she was not the sort of a girl he cared to have for a
wife, so he helped Esther to her feet and said politely to Janet, ‘I
will bid you good-afternoon, as I now have to escort my dear old friend
to her home.’

“‘Then the two went out leaving the haughty miss in a fury.’”

As the Count ended Ruth’s chapter, there were smiles on the faces of the
audience, for it sounded exactly like Ruth—a genuine Cinderella
Chapter.

“Now I will read the next installment, written by Miss Fabian. I shall
have to edit more of this chapter in order to hinge it on to the
preceding one,” explained the Count.

“‘Lois Miller was not a vamp by choice but by force of circumstances.
She was so pretty that she had found it difficult to secure a position
as saleslady in a store, for the reason that the other girls generally
got jealous of the attention paid her. When she was offered a minor part
in a Chorus on the stage, she accepted, although the salary was no more
than enough to pay her room rent and scanty meals. For clothes to keep
up appearances she had to rely on her wit and ability to make over
things.

“‘By chance, she happened to be in the large store just when Janet
Schuyler and her mother were shopping there. Then she overheard Mrs.
Schuyler command the little saleslady, Esther Brown, to send the lace
for her daughter’s evening gown with special messenger. The address was
given, and the two society ladies left the shop. Lois really had nothing
to buy but she was killing time in the shops, hoping to gain some
information that might give her a chance to earn some extra money.

“‘She pondered over the name and address of the obviously rich ladies,
then decided to try for a position, as companion, because the wretched
life of an underpaid chorus girl was palling on her. As she turned to
leave the shop, she found a bright-eyed young woman watching her.
Instantly she thought of the private detective, but she was innocent of
crime and she gave back the look with interest added.

“‘As she went out she realized she was being followed, so she turned and
said: Well, what do you want?’

“‘“Aren’t you Lois Miller? Used to be stenographer at the office of _The
Earth_?” asked the woman.

“‘“Sure thing! But that was ages ago,” retorted Lois.

“‘“I knew you there. I was just breaking in. What are you doing, now,
Lois? I’ve got something to unravel.”

“‘Before she knew it, Lois was commandeered to follow the shop-girl,
Esther Brown, and find out all about her, as the reporter had heard of a
reward of $500 offered for news of the girl described, who came from New
Hampshire. Miss Johnson agreed to go fifty-fifty with Lois if the
shop-girl turned out to be the one they were looking for.

“‘That is how Esther Brown met her rich husband and how Janet Schuyler
lost a rich young admirer, and how Miss Johnson won not only the reward
Reginald paid, but also had a fine story for her paper; and Lois Miller
earned enough money to fit herself out in decent clothes and pay her
arrears of room-rent and board.’

“Now comes the final reel, as written by Rose Chalmys,” said the Count,
waiting until the merriment over the various phases of Janet and
Esther’s reel life had subsided; then he continued:

“‘Janet Schuyler, being under heavy obligations to the shop-girl for
having saved her life from the hold-up men in the park, remembered how
she had snubbed the meek girl in the store, and had caused her to be
reprimanded by the head of the department.

“‘“I want you to come home with me, and receive my mother’s thanks and
my father’s reward for your bravery in defending me,” said Janet,
finally.

“‘“I do not wish any reward for what I did, and your thanks are quite
sufficient,” murmured Esther.

“‘The two girls walked along the street leading to the Schuyler home,
however, and just before they reached the place, a sporty car drew up to
the curb and stopped suddenly. A young man sprang out and ran over to
greet Janet Schuyler. She was delighted to see Reginald Deane, after the
long months he had been away from the city, but Deane could not take his
eyes from Janet’s companion. It was her place to introduce the girl with
her, yet she could not humble her pride to accept a salesgirl as her
equal, and this she would do if she introduced her. Reginald ended the
doubt.

“‘“Aren’t you Esther Brown?” And the girl smiled as she replied, “And
you are Reggie Deane, aren’t you?”

“‘Janet was forgotten after that, for the two who had been beaus in
schooldays and had never heard from each other since Deane went to Texas
with his family, were so engrossed with each other.

“‘Janet made the best of a bad bargain and invited both the young people
to her home, but Esther pleaded her lack of time, and Deane offered to
see Esther to her home. Thus ended Janet’s dream of capturing the
richest young oil-financier in the country.’“

The young authors considered their work to be par-excellence, but the
adults in the audience forbore to render an opinion.

“Of course, I shall have to edit, somewhat, but I think we may look
forward to having a very successful run of this picture,” announced the
Count, very seriously. “One important item is fortunate for the
company—that is, we need not have costly costumes, nor scenes of Court
Life in Europe. Our little play is simple to stage and inexpensive in
production.

“Now I will retire to the Studio and edit the scenario, but I wish all
the actors to be on time at the casting room at ten o’clock, sharp,
tomorrow. Besides the star leads, I may need extras, so I would suggest
that any one desiring a part in this great melodrama, to report to me
when we meet at the Studio.” The Count looked at the adults as he spoke,
and they smilingly accepted the invitation to be on hand to act as
supers, in case of need.

Well, the six-reel production went on apace, and on the last night of
the voyage, the photo-drama was presented to a crowded salon. It had
been suddenly decided to charge an entrance fee of a dollar each and
devote the proceeds to charity. This detracted not a whit from the
entertainment, but rather added to it.

Many a laugh echoed through that salon, at the pathetic scenes in the
story, because of the amateur acting of the stars. In fact, the vamp was
so full of mischief while playing the heart-stirring drama of her life
when she was hungry and without a home, that the “pathos” acted upon the
audience as if it had been comedy.

The “Marquis” as Reggie Deane, made not reel, but real, love to Esther
Brown in the picture; so much so that Mr. Ashby felt relieved to think
the two would never meet again, once the steamer landed at the New York
dock.

So with bright plans for the future, Polly and her chums spent the last
few hours on the steamer, and were ready for their “career” before they
landed in New York City again.

                                THE END



AMY BELL MARLOWE’S BOOKS FOR GIRLS

Charming, Fresh and Original Stories

Illustrated. Wrappers printed in colors with individual design for each
story

Miss Marlowe’s books for girls are somewhat of the type of Miss Alcott
and also Mrs. Meade; but all are thoroughly up-to-date and wholly
American in scene and action. Good, clean absorbing tales that all girls
thoroughly enjoy.

THE OLDEST OF FOUR; Or, Natalie’s Way Out.

  A sweet story of the struggles of a live girl to keep a family from
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THE GIRLS AT HILLCREST FARM; Or, The Secret of the Rocks.

  Relating the trials of two girls who take boarders on an old farm.

A LITTLE MISS NOBODY; Or, With the Girls of Pinewood Hall.

  Tells of a school girl who was literally a nobody until she solved
  the mystery of her identity.

THE GIRL FROM SUNSET RANCH; Or, Alone in a Great City.

  A ranch girl comes to New York to meet relatives she has never seen.
  Her adventures make unusually good reading.

WYN’S CAMPING DAYS; Or, The Outing of the GO-AHEAD CLUB.

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FRANCES OF THE RANGES; Or, The Old Ranchman’s Treasure.

  A vivid picture of life on the great cattle ranges of the West

THE GIRLS OF RIVERCLIFF SCHOOL; Or, Beth Baldwin’s Resolve.

  This is one of the most entertaining stories centering about a
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WHEN ORIOLE CAME TO HARBOR LIGHT.

  The story of a young girl, cast up by the sea, and rescued by an old
  lighthouse keeper.

WHEN ORIOLE TRAVELED WESTWARD.

  Oriole visits the family of a rich ranchman and enjoys herself
  immensely.

Grosset & Dunlap, Publishers, New York



THE POLLY BREWSTER SERIES

By LILLIAN ELIZABETH ROY

Durably Bound. Illustrated. Colored Wrappers.

Every Volume Complete in Itself.

A delightful series for girls in which they will follow Polly and
Eleanor through many interesting adventures and enjoyable trips.

Polly of Pebbly Pit

  Tells about a Rocky Mountain ranch girl and her many adventures.

Polly and Eleanor

  Eleanor Maynard visits Polly at the Ranch and they have lively
  times.

Polly in New York

  Polly and Eleanor visit New York and have a number of very
  interesting experiences.

Polly and Her Friends Abroad

  The girls go abroad and spend most of their time with other American
  travelers.

Polly’s Business Venture

  Polly and Eleanor take up interior decorating. They attend sales of
  antiques and incidentally fall in love.

Polly’s Southern Cruise

  A hurricane and cloud-burst threatens to swamp the vessel in which
  Polly and her friends take this trip.

Polly in South America

  Polly and her friends land at many funny old towns and have several
  exciting adventures not altogether pleasant.

GROSSET & DUNLAP, PUBLISHERS, NEW YORK



CAROLYN WELLS BOOKS

May be had wherever books are sold. Ask for Grosset & Dunlap’s list

THE MARJORIE BOOKS

Happy Books For Happy Girls

Marjorie is a happy little girl of twelve, up to mischief, but full of
goodness and sincerity. In her and her friends every girl reader will
see much cf her own love of fun, play and adventure.

This series is the American Girl’s very own. Each book is attractively
bound in cloth, and wrapped in a charming colored individual wrapper.

  Marjorie’s Vacation
  Marjorie’s New Friend
  Marjorie’s Maytime
  Marjorie’s Busy Day
  Marjorie in Command
  Marjorie at Seacote

THE TWO LITTLE WOMEN SERIES

Miss Carolyn Wells here introduces Dorinda Fayre—a pretty blonde,
sweet, serious, timid and a little slow, and Dorothy Rose—a sparkling
brunette, quick, elf-like, high tempered, full of mischief and always
getting into scrapes.

  Two Little Women
  Two Little Women on a Holiday
  Two Little Women and Treasure House

THE DICK AND DOLLY BOOKS

Dick and Dolly are brother and sister, and their games, their pranks,
their joys and sorrows, are told in a manner which makes the stories
“really true” to young readers.

  Dick and Dolly
  Dick and Dolly’s Adventures

GROSSET & DUNLAP, PUBLISHERS, NEW YORK



THE BOBBSEY TWINS BOOKS

For Little Men and Women

By LAURA LEE HOPE

Author of “The Bunny Brown Series,” Etc.

Durably Bound. Illustrated. Uniform Style of Binding.

Every Volume Complete in Itself.

These books for boys and girls between the ages of three and ten stands
among children and their parents of this generation where the books of
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  THE BOBBSEY TWINS
  THE BOBBSEY TWINS IN THE COUNTRY
  THE BOBBSEY TWINS AT THE SEASHORE
  THE BOBBSEY TWINS AT SCHOOL
  THE BOBBSEY TWINS AT SNOW LODGE
  THE BOBBSEY TWINS ON A HOUSEBOAT
  THE BOBBSEY TWINS AT MEADOW BROOK
  THE BOBBSEY TWINS AT HOME
  THE BOBBSEY TWINS IN A GREAT CITY
  THE BOBBSEY TWINS ON BLUEBERRY ISLAND
  THE BOBBSEY TWINS ON THE DEEP BLUE SEA
  THE BOBBSEY TWINS IN THE GREAT WEST
  THE BOBBSEY TWINS AT CEDAR CAMP
  THE BOBBSEY TWINS AT THE COUNTY FAIR
  THE BOBBSEY TWINS CAMPING OUT
  THE BOBBSEY TWINS AND BABY MAY

GROSSET & DUNLAP, PUBLISHERS, NEW YORK



THE BUNNY BROWN SERIES

By LAURA LEE HOPE

Author of the Popular “Bobbsey Twins” Books, Etc.

Durably Bound. Illustrated. Uniform Style of Binding.

Every Volume Complete in Itself.

These stories by the author of the “Bobbsey Twins” Books are eagerly
welcomed by the little folks from about five to ten years of age. Their
eyes fairly dance with delight at the lively doings of inquisitive
little Bunny Brown and his cunning, trustful sister Sue.

  BUNNY BROWN AND HIS SISTER SUE
  BUNNY BROWN AND HIS SISTER SUE ON GRANDPA’S FARM
  BUNNY BROWN AND HIS SISTER SUE PLAYING CIRCUS
  BUNNY BROWN AND HIS SISTER SUE AT CAMP REST-A-WHILE
  BUNNY BROWN AND HIS SISTER SUE AT AUNT LU’S CITY HOME
  BUNNY BROWN AND HIS SISTER SUE IN THE BIG WOODS
  BUNNY BROWN AND HIS SISTER SUE ON AN AUTO TOUR
  BUNNY BROWN AND HIS SISTER SUE AND THEIR SHETLAND PONY
  BUNNY BROWN AND HIS SISTER SUE GIVING A SHOW
  BUNNY BROWN AND HIS SISTER SUE AT CHRISTMAS TREE COVE
  BUNNY BROWN AND HIS SISTER SUE IN THE SUNNY SOUTH
  BUNNY BROWN AND HIS SISTER SUE KEEPING STORE
  BUNNY BROWN AND HIS SISTER SUE AND THEIR TRICK DOG
  BUNNY BROWN AND HIS SISTER SUE AT A SUGAR CAMP

Grosset & Dunlap, Publishers, New York



THE MAKE-BELIEVE STORIES

(Trademark Registered.)

By LAURA LEE HOPE

Author of THE BOBBSEY TWINS BOOKS, ETC.

Colored Wrappers and Illustrations by HARRY L. SMITH

In this fascinating line of books Miss Hope has the various toys come to
life “when nobody is looking” and she puts them through a series of
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THE STORY OF A PLUSH BEAR

  This fellow came from the North Pole, stopped for a while at the toy
  store, and was then taken to the seashore by his little master.

THE STORY OF A STUFFED ELEPHANT

  He was a wise looking animal and had a great variety of adventures.

Grosset & Dunlap, Publishers, New York





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