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Title: Larkspur
Author: Abbott, Jane D.
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 "Larkspur" ***

This book is indexed by ISYS Web Indexing system to allow the reader find any word or number within the document.



                               *LARKSPUR*


                                   BY

                            *JANE D. ABBOTT*

                               AUTHOR OF
                              HAPPY HOUSE,
                             KEINETH, ETC.



                            GROSSET & DUNLAP
                          PUBLISHERS NEW YORK

                  Made in the United States of America



              COPYRIGHT, 1919, BY J. B. LIPPINCOTT COMPANY

                  PRINTED IN UNITED STATES OF AMERICA



                        TO THE FLOWERS OF MY OWN
                      GARDEN I DEDICATE THIS STORY



                               *CONTENTS*

CHAPTER

      I. An October Day
     II. The Captain’s Story
    III. Renée Finds a Home
     IV. Gardens
      V. First Aid
     VI. Eagles and Golden Eaglets
    VII. Aunt Pen Plans
   VIII. Breadwinners
     IX. The New Lodger
      X. A Scout’s Honor
     XI. Young Wings
    XII. The Game
   XIII. The Christmas Party
    XIV. Hill-top
     XV. Pat’s Pride and Its Fall
    XVI. Good Turns
   XVII. Angeline
  XVIII. For His Country
    XIX. A Letter From France
     XX. The Lost Baby
    XXI. Renée’s Box
   XXII. Surprises
  XXIII. The Best of All



                               *LARKSPUR*



                              *CHAPTER I*

                            *AN OCTOBER DAY*


On an October day--a sunny day, and except for the yellow leaves that
quivered on rapidly bearing branches, very like spring--Patricia
Everett, from the window of her home, watched an automobile drive out of
sight, carrying her mother and sister away to Florida, and confided to
the empty room that she was the very unhappiest girl in the whole world!

Conflicting emotions tormented the soul of the little lady.  She
disliked very much seeing anyone depart from anywhere without her!
Then, too, so hurried had been the departure that nothing in the shape
of candy, books or toys had been left behind to comfort her!  And
saddest of all, at the last moment her mother had decided that she must
not return to Miss Prindle’s because of an epidemic of measles!

The curious quiet that had fallen upon the house after the bustle of
departure added to Patricia’s loneliness.  With a heart bursting with
pity for herself, she wandered up the stairs to her room--a pretty room,
its windows hung in flowered chintz, a bird singing from a cage hanging
in the sunshine.

When his little mistress walked into the room Peter Pan trilled more
gayly than before--it was as though he bade her come to the window and
look across the way!

If she had looked she would have seen in the kitchen window of the
shabby brick house, across the intersecting street, Mrs. Mary Quinn and
her daughter Sheila rocking in one another’s arms and laughing like two
children!

Mrs. Quinn’s house was old and shabby, its fences tumbling down; hard
times often knocked at her door, but with it all her smile was always as
bright as the gay geraniums blooming on the spotless sill of the kitchen
window that faced the Everett house.

Fortune had come to the Quinns that day in the guise of a new lodger.
He had taken the second floor bedroom which stretched across the back of
the house.  Because this room was very big and had a queer, rickety
stairway leading to it from the outside of the house, it had never been
rented.  But with the other lodgers who lived in the front rooms and the
tiny side bedroom and the parlor, which had been converted into a "light
housekeeping suite," Mrs. Quinn managed to keep her little family most
comfortably and to have a bit left over for such luxuries as the
flowers, a few books, pretty pictures and crisp muslin curtains.

"Faith, Sheila," she had cried, coming into the kitchen where her
daughter was preparing apples for the oven.  "It’s just as though Dame
Fortune knew it was your birthday!  Now you shall have your music!"

"Oh, mother!" cried the girl, dropping her paring knife.  "How
wonderful!"  Then, hesitating: "But maybe I hadn’t ought to!  That much
each week would make things easier if----"

But Mrs. Quinn snatched bowl, apples and knife from her daughter’s
hands.  "Don’t let’s be worrying over what’s ahead, sweetness!  We’ll
just take what comes!  Didn’t I have my bit of music when I was a girl
and don’t I know the longings that are in you to have things that other
girls have, lassie?  It’s a good daughter you are to me and it’s you
that has always made the hard things easier----"  She stopped suddenly
as though something in her throat choked the words.  For answer Sheila
caught the rough hands that knew only work now and kissed them.

Then these two, arms around one another, the bowl tipping dangerously
between them, laughed together as though there had never been a single
hardship in the world.

"We’re two sillies--that’s what we are!  Now we must be about our work
or the gentleman will come and the room won’t be ready!"

"Who is he, mother?"

"Sure, child, and I scarcely asked him!  His name is Marks and he said
he was employed at the Everett Works.  I only thought of you, dearie!
After supper you run over and see Miss Sheehan about the lessons; two a
week--and we’ll have a man come to tune up the old piano and we’ll just
pull it out here where it will be warm and where I can listen to you!"

So their work--and there was much for their quick fingers to do before
the room could be put in readiness for the new tenant and the supper
prepared for the younger Quinns, would be made lighter by their happy
plans!

But Patricia was too miserable to even glance across at the window where
the pink geraniums bloomed.  She did not want to think that there was
anyone happy anywhere in the world.

Sighing deeply she curled herself on her bed, drew from underneath her
pillow her beloved diary and wrote upon its open page:

"This is such a cruel, sad moment in my life that I must write about it
although it is too bad to put it in my nice diary."  (Monthly she and
Angeline Snow, her dearest friend at Miss Prindle’s, exchanged diaries.)
"I have been left alone here by a fond but heartless mother and sister
who thinks only of herself and her troubles and my father is here at
home and he is left, too, only of course my father is a man and he has
his business.  But the very worst of all because they are afraid of
measles and Cis says my hair will come out and that it will never be
thick like hers anyway though I remember you and I said that we hated
thick hair when it was yellow like hers they will not let me go back to
my dear Prindles and so I am a prisoner in a gilded cage. My Aunt Pen is
coming to live with us while my mother is away and I love her and she
always lets me do everything I want to do but she is not like you or the
other girls at school.  And though I have lived here many summers as the
poets say, I have no friends because there are only the children I used
to meet at silly parties and my mother’s friends who are polite and
stupid and I shall pine with loneliness.  It is all Celia’s fault though
mother says she is very ill and that she has worn herself out doing war
work and she looked very pail and interesting and I guess maybe she
worried when Lieut Chauncey Merideth fell out of his airplane but I
guess he’ll be more careful next time.  You remember I never liked him
though when he comes back from war though he is only in Texas I guess
he’ll treat me a little different for he will realise I am almost
fourteen if he comes back in time and does not fall out again.  I do
love my mother but she has been most heartless leaving me sad and lonely
and with nothing to do.  But as old English Sparrow says there is always
work for idle hands to do and I shall find something so as to write to
you all about it.  I am too old to spend my hours repining.  I remember
the words of E. Sparrow how we are captains of our souls and I shall
keep saying that in my loneliness. I guess now I will go down and order
the dessert for dinner----"

This sudden thought so comforted Patricia that she closed her diary
quickly, put it back under the pillow, slipped off the bed and ran
downstairs to the kitchen.

She found that Melodia, the cook, had already prepared mince tarts for
dinner.  They were spread temptingly upon a shelf.  Patricia tasted one
and immediately ordered Melodia to make nothing but mince tarts for
dessert during her mother’s absence! Perched on a stool Patricia asked
several questions concerning the pleasant odors that came from the big
oven.  But Melodia seemed to be very indifferent as to the importance of
her presence in the kitchen; Patricia was glad to remember that she had
promised her mother to carry a report to the Red Cross Headquarters that
very afternoon.  So, slipping off her stool she stalked majestically
away.

Now almost at the same moment that Sheila and Mrs. Quinn were laughing
in their kitchen over their wonderful fortune and lonely Patricia was
cheering her heart by tasting mince tarts, kind-hearted Mrs. Atherton,
the official in charge at the Red Cross Headquarters on this October
day, was wrinkling her pretty brows over an unusual situation.

Before her, watching her face anxiously, stood a man in the uniform of a
captain of the United States Army.

"Perhaps I acted too hastily--bringing the child here, to leave on your
hands, but--you can see how it happened; I’d given my word to that boy
to take care of his little sister.  If you could have known him!  Why,
there wasn’t a fellow in my company that wouldn’t have given up his life
for him!  They didn’t need to--he did it first!"  Capt. Allan’s voice
broke.  "I got my orders back to the States and I just had time to go
and find Renée."

"Wouldn’t it have been better if you had left her somewhere in Paris?"

"You see you don’t know the whole story, madam.  This Emile LaDue was in
the French uniform but he was sort of an American.  And that was my
promise--that I’d bring her back to America--somewhere.  He didn’t have
time to say anything more--he gave me the address when we were in a
shell hole waiting until it was dark enough to creep over to the enemy
lines.  We went out a few seconds afterwards--crawling along on our
stomachs, he one way, I another.  I--never saw him again."

Mrs. Atherton openly wiped her eyes.

The soldier went on: "I’d keep the little girl--just because I loved
Emile LaDue, but I haven’t any folks or any place to leave her and I
have to report back over there!  When I’m home for good----"

"If Mrs. Everett was here I am sure we could arrange something, but she
is out of town."

It was at that moment that Patricia walked past the open door on her way
from the Secretary’s office where she had left her mother’s report.
Mrs. Atherton’s rather high-pitched voice reached her ear.  She stood
quite still.

"The child would make any home happy--she’s a dear little thing!  Has
plenty of clothes, I guess, but right now more than anything else she
needs friends and love--quite a bit of that."

"A baby!" thought Patricia excitedly; "a war orphan!"

Patricia’s mother had already adopted six French orphans; Patricia and
her classmates at school were supporting several Belgian families and
Celia was a godmother to ever so many disabled French soldiers.  That
all meant only sending money away just so often, but this was quite
different--the baby was right here!  Patricia had no time to think just
what her mother might do in such a case!  There was an offended tone in
the man’s voice as though he might take his war-orphan and go away and
not come back! So she walked straight into the room.

"Mrs. Atherton, I will take this child immediately."

Both Mrs. Atherton and the captain gasped at the sudden appearance of
Patricia.  Patricia, seeing doubt in Mrs. Atherton’s eyes, turned to the
soldier.

"My mother is away, but if you will bring the--the baby to my home I
will ask my father, and I know he will let her stay!"

Mrs. Atherton hurriedly explained.  "This is Miss Patricia Everett, the
daughter of the lady of whom I was speaking.  Perhaps----" she
hesitated. She was thinking rapidly--something, of course, must be done
with the child!  "This might solve our problem--until you return and
wish to make other arrangements."

"Oh _please_ bring her," cried Patricia in quite her natural manner.  "I
can’t go back to school because of the measles there and I’d lose my
hair and I am dreadfully lonesome, and I should _love_ a baby!  We’ll go
home and I’ll send Watkins after Daddy and then we’ll tell him."

It sounded so logical that even Mrs. Atherton nodded approvingly.

"Where is she?" asked Patricia, looking around the room as though some
corner might conceal a bundle that would prove to be the little
war-orphan.

"I left her outside, in the taxi.  I wanted to find out what could be
done."

"Well, let’s hurry!" commanded Patricia, turning toward the door.  "I
know Daddy’ll say yes, for you see my mother and sister have ever so
many orphans and this will be mine and Daddy’s."  She was running
eagerly ahead of Capt. Allan out of the door and down the long flight of
steps.

"Can she walk yet?" she whispered excitedly.

"I should say so!" he laughed, throwing open the door of the taxicab.

And within Patricia beheld staring gravely at her from a corner of the
automobile, her small hands clasped tightly in her lap, her pale face
framed by a wealth of golden hair that hung in soft curls over her
shabby coat--not the war-orphan she had pictured, but a little girl of
her own age!

"Miss Renée LaDue," the Captain said with a sweeping gesture.  "And this
young lady----" he hesitated a moment, as though the name Mrs. Atherton
had spoken had slipped his mind.

Patricia, almost too astonished and too delighted to make a sound,
stammered:

"I’m Patricia Everett, but please, just call me Pat!"



                              *CHAPTER II*

                         *THE CAPTAIN’S STORY*


Certain that some serious catastrophe must have happened, Thomas Everett
ran up the steps of his house with the speed of a schoolboy.  Watkins,
the chauffeur, had found him at his office.

"Miss Pat, sir, says you are to hurry home at once--that it is awfully
important."  He had repeated her exact words and even imitated her
imperative tone.

When Mr. Everett had anxiously asked him "what had happened," he had
shaken his head and had said: "I don’t know, sir, what it is, sir, but
I’m sure it is something because I’ve never seen Miss Pat so excited!"

Patricia was awaiting her father in the hall. There were not many things
that she had ever wanted that he had refused her--but then this was very
different and he might say "No!"  She greeted him with a violent hug
and, talking so fast that he could not make out one word that she was
saying, she dragged him toward the library door.

"They’re in there, Daddy, and oh, _please_ do let her stay!" she
whispered.

Within the room Mr. Everett found a tall soldier holding a shy little
girl by the hand.  The officer introduced himself with a word or two,
and with the same directness he had used in telling his story to Mrs.
Atherton, he now plunged straight to the point.

"I have brought this little girl from France. She is one of--those
many--who has lost everyone and everything--through this war!"  He was
trying to choose his words carefully so as to spare the little girl as
much as he could.

Realizing his embarrassment Mr. Everett interrupted him.  "Pat, dear,
take the little girl and show her the birds."  Patricia, rather
reluctantly led the little stranger off to the small conservatory beyond
the dining-room where, in beautiful cages, many different kinds of birds
sang joyously.

"Thanks, sir," the officer drew a breath.  "Taking care of this small
lady has been the most difficult thing I ever attempted.  I’ll tell you
the story, sir, so that you can understand.  About six months ago a
young French officer was attached to our company. He directed the
scouting.  There were six of us picked out to work with him.  I was one
of them. We did some mighty ticklish work, sir--for a few weeks there."
Almost involuntarily the man’s fingers went to the small cross of honor
he wore on his tunic.  "And we fellows get pretty well acquainted, you
know--just lying hours in a shell hole next to another man is like
knowing him for years and years back home.  It was like that with this
Emile LaDue and me.  I found out that his father and mother had been
born in America--they were both dead, for one night he told me that if
anything happened to him--and there was plenty of chance for something
to happen any minute--it would leave his little sister all alone in the
world.  He never talked much about himself--back in the lines he was the
bravest, cheeriest one in the crowd, laughing at every sort of hardship,
but when we’d get out he’d get quiet and I knew what was on his mind.
He’d tell little things at different times.  It seems he’d made a
promise to his mother that he’d bring the little girl to America to
live--and he’d kept putting it off, and then the war came along and he
thought it might be too late!  That bothered him more than anything
else.  The last night I was with him we were hiding in a dirty
hole--four of us--almost covered with mud and water.  He and I lay close
together; we could only whisper, for some of the Boche had seen us and
we had to keep low until it was darker.  We’d been there for hours, not
more’n just breathing when he whispered suddenly in my ear: ’Allan, I
may not come out of this--and you may.  Will you----’  You know some of
the boys over there have premonitions and they’re pretty nearly always
true and I suppose he had one!  I knew what he wanted to say, and he’d
been the bravest and best pal a man could ever find and we’d faced death
a hundred times, side by side, and he’d never flunked once, so I
whispered: ’Don’t you worry--just tell me where I can find your little
sister.’  He twisted around until he could get a hand into his pocket.
He gave me a card. He said: ’She’s all alone in the world!  Take her
back to America--I didn’t make good!  All her life my mother planned
that and when she died I promised to do it!’  He tried to tell me
something about a box, but a star shell burst right next to us and we
had to dig down into the mud and we scarcely breathed for fear the Boche
snipers would hear us!"  Capt. Allan’s voice, halting through the story
as though it hurt him to recall the bitter memories, suddenly broke.

"Just after that we crawled out--we had to do our job and get back with
the stuff the Colonel wanted to know!  We divided up--two of us went one
way and two the other.  I got over and through and back to our lines
with the information and I won this"--touching his cross--"and got a
sniper’s bullet in the shoulder.  I was put out of business then--for
three weeks."  He stopped again--it was very hard for him to tell his
tale.  Mr. Everett was giving occasional nods of sympathy.

"When I got back to my company they told me the Jerries had caught
LaDue!  He had almost gotten away when he was killed by a hand grenade.
The other man with him was made a prisoner.  The boys found LaDue when
they advanced--they buried him out there with a lot of others!  That was
always the worst, sir--these good pals that you’d messed with and bunked
with under the same muddy blankets and lived with through hours and
hours of waiting for no one ever knew what--and then--just flesh and
bones out in that desolation and buried--any old place----"  He pulled
himself together.  "Excuse me, sir--I loved the boy--I’d have liked to
have just said--oh, good luck, old chap--or something like that!  Well,
I asked for a furlough to hunt up the little sister and what did they do
but order me back to the States on a special mission to the Intelligence
Department.  I had just twenty-four hours to find the child.  I had no
trouble, though--she was at the address out in St. Cloud, living with a
queer old couple--the man was a veteran of the Franco-Prussian war and
the wife raises flowers--only no one in France is buying flowers now!  I
suppose they were all living on what Emile was sending to them.  They
didn’t want to let the child go--I think they were truly fond of her,
but when I told them what I had promised Emile they never said another
word.  I had to break it to them that he had been killed!  I was afraid
of Renée crying and wondering how I’d comfort her and then I wished that
she _would_ cry!  She was such a pathetic little thing--all she’d say
was ’He told me it would be for America and France!’  I tell you, sir,
even the little ones are as brave as any!"

"Well, old Susette packed her clothes and I started back with her,
though I hadn’t the ghost of an idea where to take her!  I haven’t a
home or any folks of my own, sir, but I said to myself--there’s the Red
Cross, they’ll tell me!  I had come to this town first, sir, so I just
brought her along with me and--here we are!"  He laughed ruefully.  "I
guess I didn’t think the thing out very much!  Over there, you know,
homes are smashed up in a twinkling, and so many kiddies--like this
little one--are left along by the wayside, that you don’t stop to think
but just gather ’em in!  Our boys can’t stand seeing the children
suffer, sir--why, I’ve watched many a one just turn his whole mess right
over to a bunch of kids--they’re so hungry looking."  He paused for a
moment.  "That’s all, sir, and if you can find a place for Renée to live
where she’ll be safe and--happy, I’ll gladly give half my pay and take
her when I come back!"

The story of Renée LaDue finished, the officer stood very straight and
looked anxiously at his listener.

Often during the story Mr. Everett had brushed something suspiciously
like tears from his eyes.  He rose quickly now and held out his hand.

"With what you boys are doing--and giving up--there isn’t anything we
who have to stay at home could refuse to do!  Renée shall be taken care
of--I promise you that!  Nothing must be said about money.  When the war
is over and you return--then you shall come and claim her if you wish!"

The soldier’s face beamed with pleasure.

"Oh, sir, that is splendid!  You can’t imagine how responsible I feel
about my promise to Emile--or what a fine chap he was!"

Mr. Everett took a notebook and a pencil from his pocket.

"Please give me some of the facts concerning this child," he said in a
business-like manner.

As Capt. Allan repeated them he entered each in the little book.

"And you know nothing more concerning Emile’s family?"

"Only a little more--back in the hospital I talked with a French surgeon
who had known Emile’s father.  He said he had been a sculptor--until he
grew blind.  I imagine they were very poor.  The doctor said that Emile
had been studying, too--in Paris.  I remembered he had said something
once to me that had made me think he was just waiting to finish his
studies to keep his promise to his mother--to come to America to live!"

Thomas Everett shook his head.  "Oh, what this war has done!  The boy
was doubtless gifted!"  He sighed deeply.  "When it is possible go to
Paris and, for the child’s sake, find out all you can of her family.  In
the meantime----"

But at this point Patricia, too impatient to longer await her father’s
decision, burst into the room!



                             *CHAPTER III*

                          *RENÉE FINDS A HOME*


At her first introduction in the taxi-cab Patricia had undertaken to
converse with Miss Renée in the stilted French she had learned at Miss
Prindle’s. But Renée had answered in perfect English.

Now, with the singing of the birds to tune their voices to a happy note,
with the pretty flowers bringing a smile to Renée’s sad little face, it
was easy to bridge over the formality of "getting acquainted."  Renée
exclaimed in delight over the birds and the flowers and Pat rattled on
like a small magpie, though all the while straining her ears to catch a
single word or tone of her father’s voice from the library.

She had her own way--sometimes a rather naughty way--of getting what she
wanted from her family, but this was so different, and she wanted it so
very much that she felt very anxious and uncertain!  So after she had
waited what seemed to her a very long time she abruptly led Renée back
to the library.  As they entered the room her father held out both
hands.  One took one of hers, with the other he drew Renée close to him.

"My dear little girl, Capt. Allan is going to leave you with us for a
little while!  And I have given him my promise that you shall be as safe
and happy as it is possible for us to make you----"  He wanted to say a
great deal more to make Renée feel at home but Patricia interrupted him
with a tempestuous hug that almost swept him from his feet.

"Oh, you dear, dear Daddy!"  Then she threw her arms around Renée’s
neck.  "Oh, I am so happy!" she was crying over and over, as though she
had been the homeless one and Renée had taken her in.

"Don’t forget me, Miss Everett," the soldier put in so comically that
Patricia almost embraced him, too!  Instead she shook both his hands
delightedly. As Renée turned to Capt. Allan her lips trembled a little,
for she had learned to love and trust him and already looked upon him as
her guardian.

"Just you be brave and happy, little sister!" he said softly to her,
"and as soon as I can I will come back!"

Then he shook hands with each one of them and Renée shyly kissed him.
Mr. Everett went with him to the door.  Patricia, knowing how hard the
parting was for her little guest, seized her hand and dragged her toward
a door at the end of the big hall.

"Let’s go and find Melodia!  I know something she’s got!"

Only a few moments before Melodia had been telling the butler and the
upstairs maid about "that Miss Pat’s giving her orders so comical" and
they were all laughing merrily over it when Miss Pat burst in upon them,
leading Renée by the hand.

"Melodia, I have a guest only she’s going to live with us!  Please make
lots of tarts, and can’t Renée have just a little one now?  Jasper,
carry Miss Renée’s trunk to my room--it’s in the front hall!  Maggie,
please get a cot from the storeroom and put it right next to my bed."
She turned toward the pantry.  "I’ll take some tarts now, Melodia, for
Miss Renée is hungry!  Don’t all stand and stare like that, but please
do as I tell you!"  She helped herself as she spoke to two of the
juiciest of the tempting tarts.

"Well, I never!" Jasper and Maggie and Melodia all exclaimed.

Patricia turned with dignity.  "Miss Renée has come from France.  She is
a--a----"  She was going to say "war-orphan" but suddenly it occurred to
her that that might make Renée unhappy.  So she finished: "Her brother
has died for us in France and left her all alone!"  Patricia used an
expression she had heard often.  "You three and Daddy and me have a debt
to pay--and we are going to pay it!"

The three servants were deeply impressed by the grandness of Patricia’s
words and manner; and, too, Renée’s sad little face won their hearts in
an instant.  Jasper coughed violently and hurried away to find the
trunk.  Melodia wiped her eye with the corner of her apron.

"The dear little thing!  Well, we’ll just make you happy and put flesh
on your bones, bless your heart, missy!"

Patricia, satisfied that she had properly established Renée in the
household, then led her upstairs to her own room.  Renée, accustomed to
the tiny chamber under the gable at St. Cloud, exclaimed with admiration
when Patricia opened the door.  Already Jasper had put down the queer
old trunk and was busily engaged unfastening its buckles and straps.
Maggie was watching, much disturbed.

"Miss Pat, I wish your mother was home!  I know she wouldn’t want me to
bring a cot in here a-cluttering up the tidiness of your room when
there’s the blue room and the violet room empty and that room on the
third floor----"

Alarmed that Maggie might separate them, Patricia exclaimed quickly: "I
don’t--_care_!  We _won’t_ make things untidy!  I _want_ her in here!"

"What’s all this about?" interrupted Mr. Everett, coming at that moment
to the door.

Patricia, Renée, Jasper and Maggie all turned to him.  But Patricia,
catching his coat, pulled him to her so that, by reaching on tip-toe,
she could whisper in his ear:

"You see, Daddy, I want her right in here! Maggie says that it will make
things untidy but we can’t let her get homesick or--or unhappy, and she
might if she’s left all alone in the blue room or the vi’let room----"
Patricia rubbed her cheek coaxingly against her father’s shoulder, then
added solemnly: "I guess _I_ know what it is to be lonesome, for I have
been lots and lots of times--just because everyone was so grownup and I
hadn’t anyone to be with like a little sister, and now--please, Daddy,
we will keep the room as neat as can be!"

Renée’s eyes echoed Patricia’s pleadings.

"Well, well, Maggie, we’ll have to let them decide things, I guess," he
laughed, "at least until Miss Penelope comes!"

In all the excitement Patricia had quite forgotten the approaching
arrival of Aunt Pen.

"Aunty Pen, Aunty Pen," she cried, catching Renée’s hands and, swinging
her around.  "I’d just clean forgotten she was coming!  You’ll _love_
her!"

Certainly little Renée had not time to be unhappy--each moment seemed to
bring something new! While Patricia was explaining all about Aunty Pen
and why she was coming, and her story had, of course, to include Celia
and even the Lieut. Chauncey Meredith and his fall from his airplane,
Maggie, scolding a little under her breath, was spreading snowy sheets
over a bed-lounge which Patricia had drawn up close to her own little
bed.

In the next moment, Aunt Pen again forgotten, Patricia was tumbling her
own possessions from one of the drawers of the mahogany chest to make
room for the contents of Renée’s little trunk.

"We’ll just share everything," she cried.  "We’ll have just the same
halves!  And let’s hang up your dresses now!"

Poor Renée did not need the generous space of one-half of Patricia’s
wardrobe for her shabby dresses--they were only four in number and sadly
worn!  But she hung them away proudly, telling Patricia that no one in
France now wore new things!

"Poor Susette used to spend hours mending my clothes, trying to make
them hold together," laughed Renée, tenderly recalling her good old
friend at St. Cloud.

"Tell me all about her!"

So, sitting cross-legged on the floor beside the almost empty trunk,
Renée described Susette and the cottage at St. Cloud and the wonderful
flowers that had used to sell so well before the war, and the school
where she had gone after her mother had died; how she and Emile always
talked in English because her mother had made them promise, and how in
the long, anxious, lonely days after Emile had gone, she had used to
teach simple English words to Susette as they sat together among the
flowers that nobody wanted to buy!

From the bottom of the trunk Renée drew a box covered with worn leather,
tooled and colored like the binding of a beautiful book.  So old was it
that the colors blended and looked all blue and gold and green.  Renée
lifted it tenderly, as though it was precious!

"Oh, how queer and how be-_ut_-iful!" cried Patricia, all admiration and
curiosity.  "What do you keep in it?"

Renée held the box very close to her.

"I don’t know!  It was my mother’s and now it’s Emile’s and mine,
or"--she carefully corrected herself--"I suppose it’s just mine.  But we
don’t know what is in it for we never had the key!  My mother died
before she could tell Emile where it was! And Emile made me promise
before he went away that I would keep the box and never let anyone open
it!"

"And you haven’t even the teeniest idea what is in it?  Didn’t you ever
just shake it?"

"Oh, lots of times!" confessed Renée.  "But nothing makes any noise.
And of course I would keep my promise to Emile."

Patricia rocked back and forth on her heels in joy.

"Oh, what a _spliffy_ mystery!  I can’t wait to write to the girls!"
Then she laughed at Renée’s bewilderment.  "Spliffy is a word we learned
at Miss Prindle’s and it means scrumptious or delicious or grand!  Don’t
you _love_ a mystery?  And isn’t it the lov-li-est box?"

"Emile said it must have been made by some Italian master years and
years ago.  I have this queer locket, too--it was my mother’s," and from
a little bag, wrapped in folds and folds of tissue paper, Renée drew a
curious gold locket.  "It is much too big to wear but I am very careful
of it--it is all I have!  I pretend that the box and the locket both
once upon a time belonged to some royal prince in Venice!  Once, when I
was little, mother took Emile and me to Venice--she had been sick and
she had to go where the sun was warm!"

Patricia, who had always considered herself an experienced and much
traveled young lady, suddenly felt very small and young compared to
Renée and all that she had done!

"Is Venice like the pictures--all colors like shells and funny boats and
people singing?"

But Renée had no chance to answer.  The doorbell clanged and in a moment
they heard a cheery voice answering Mr. Everett’s greeting.

"It’s Aunt Pen--_come_ on!" cried Patricia, rushing headlong down the
stairs.



                              *CHAPTER IV*

                               *GARDENS*


"I’m certainly very glad you’ve come, Penelope; my family, which has so
suddenly increased, is going to need a guiding hand!"

Penelope Everett, called by some a "strong-minded woman" because she
had, since her college days, worn low-heeled shoes, boyish coats,
comfortable hats and simple dresses, was Thomas Everett’s favorite
sister.  Though many years younger than he, there was a directness about
her, a something in the way she carried her head, poised squarely, that
made him feel he could put anything upon her shoulders.

She gave a cheery laugh now in response to the seriousness of his
manner.

Patricia and Renée had long since gone to bed, side by side.  Renée had
cuddled down under the soft coverings with a little sigh of content.
Very tired with long days of travel she had dropped off to sleep
quickly, while Patricia’s voice, pitched to a low tone, had gone on in
an endless account of "what we’ll do to-morrow!"  Aunt Pen, tiptoeing in
a little later, had found Patricia’s hand clasping Renée’s tightly under
the covers.

She recalled that now as she sat with her brother before the library
fire.

"Do you know, Thomas, you’ve done the most wonderful thing in the world
for Pat?"

Pat’s father stared at her.  He had thought she meant to praise him for
taking in the lonely little girl from France!

"Why--what do you mean?"

"Just this--Pat’s going to have something now that she’s never had
before--true comradeship!"

Thomas Everett nodded his head.  "That is so! Pat said something queer
to me, about being lonely lots of times!"

"Of course she’s been lonely--often!  She’s almost a stranger in her own
home!  You whisk her from school to the seashore or some such place and
then back--to another school!  And everything on earth is done for her,
she doesn’t have to think of anything for herself, let alone for anyone
else!"

Pat’s father laughed.  "Why, I thought we were bringing her up along the
most model lines!  But perhaps you have some new fads now!"  He liked to
tease Penelope.

"Poor Pat has been the victim of too many fads already!  I tell you,
brother, this war has shown us a whole lot of silly mistakes we were
making in our living!"

"Before you go one bit further, Penelope dear, do promise to speak in
words of one syllable!  I know all about steel but I must admit I’m very
stupid about girls!"

"Thomas, you’re not stupid--you just don’t think about them and yet your
two girls are more precious to you than the whole steel market!  And
what are you doing with them?  Look at Celia--how has she stood the
trials of this wartime?  Goodness knows, you’ve spent enough money on
her to have made a strong woman of her!"

"But she’s young, Pen----"

"Celia’s twenty-one--that’s the age they’ve been drafting the boys to go
and fight for us!  She’s a few years older than some who have died over
in France.  And now she’s had a nervous breakdown! Why in the world
should Celia have any nerves at all?"

"You’re right, Pen, but----"

"This draft we have had in this country has been a wonderful thing; it
has sorted out our manhood. But I’m sorry the women couldn’t have had
it, too, I wonder how many would have measured up to the standards, and
why not?  Because we older ones make mistakes with the girls--like Pat!"

Penelope was standing now, very straight, before the fire, her eyes
bright in her earnestness.

"I tell you we’ve reached a wonderful day, brother--we can see things as
we never saw them before!  Silly old prejudices and habits and notions
have been swept aside.  Do you know one thing we’ve learned?  That it is
something even greater than love for one’s country that has made men go
out and fight--to victory; it’s a love for right and justice!  And in
one of John Randolph’s books he tells us that it is that love for right
and justice that will make the real brotherhood of men and nations!  Who
is going to carry on this ideal as we have found it?  Why, our boys and
girls--girls like Pat!"

"Pen, your eloquence makes me feel as though I had never known the real
meaning of the word duty!"

"Oh, it isn’t half so much--duty, Tom, as it is plain common sense.
I’ve often thought that raising girls and boys is something like a
garden!  If you were planning a garden and wanted to grow something
beautiful--oh, say larkspur, for I don’t think any garden is perfect
without it and no flower is harder to get started--wouldn’t you want to
know that you were putting in seed that would grow into hardy blossoms,
blooming year after year, keeping your garden lovely and the world
richer for their beauty?"

Penelope paused long enough to draw a deep breath.

"There at Miss Prindle’s Pat is learning to speak French and Latin and
how to use her hands and feet and walk out of a room properly and a
dinner-table-speaking acquaintance with art and the masters and ancient
history--and that’s all very well, but how much will she know of the
problems she must face by and by unless she begins to mingle with the
sort of people that make up this world?  And above all else--unless you
build up for her a strong body that will mean a brave heart and a clear
head, what service, I ask you, can she give to her fellowmen and her
country?"

"You’re certainly right, Pen!  And now, if you’ve finished a very good
sermon, let’s get down to business.  I take it you want to--raise
larkspur! I don’t know much about ’em, even in gardens!  I’ve left these
things to the children’s mother!"

Penelope dropped into a chair with a little, ashamed laugh.

"My sermon does sound as though I was criticizing Caroline dreadfully!
I know she is devoted to the girls.  And so am I--and so are you.  She’s
bringing them up just the way she was brought up!"

"Well, what shall _we_ do?" asked Pat’s father with the tone of a
conspirator.

"You’ve started doing right now the very best thing in the
world--bringing that poor little girl into the family!  Patricia loves
her already and she’ll learn for the first time to consider another
child before herself.  She’s never had to do it before! Why, to-night I
found her carefully dividing her clothes so that Renée might have just
as many things as she had."

"Does Renée need clothes?  I’ll----"

"Now don’t spoil it all by buying new things--let Patricia give up some
of her own!  It is making her very happy.  Through Renée she is going to
know something of the trials that come to others and she is going to
learn to want to be helpful.  She has gone to sleep now holding Renée’s
hand."

Both their minds turned to Renée.

"A curious tragedy--this, that has brought this child into our circle!
Caroline might have made some other arrangement, but Pat’s heart was set
upon keeping her--and she _will_ have her own way!"

"Pat’s mother is too absorbed now in Celia to think much about it and
when she returns Renée will win her love with her little face!  What a
story the child’s life makes with just what we know! The family must
have been American--evidently exiled; they loved this country, else why
would the mother have made the brother promise to come back? I hope
sometime we will know more about them!"

"Capt. Allan has promised to look them up as soon as he can!"

"Captain Allan----"  Penelope breathed, her face flaming, then turning
white.  When her brother had told her Renée’s story, so intent had she
been upon the tragedy of little Renée and the poor Emile that she had
not heeded the name of the American officer.

"Can it be the same?" she thought now, a wild fluttering at her heart.
Then she sternly admonished herself.  "Of course not!  Don’t be silly!
There are hundreds of Allans and I don’t even know that he joined the
army!"

She said aloud, very calmly: "Love has given to Renée what money
couldn’t--she has been well educated, I believe!  Her mother taught her,
she says, and after her mother’s death she went to a communal school
near St. Cloud.  She will help our Pat a great deal!"

"Yes, I’m very glad we have her with us!  And now, Pen, I’ll put you in
command--head gardener, or whatever you want to call yourself!  Raise
your larkspur--only let a mere father be of what help he can!  Things
are pressing pretty hard at the Works--I can’t help but fear that the
winter may bring serious problems of unemployment and we must be ready
to solve them!  A few weeks will see the end of this war--it is in sight
now!  By the way, we are just completing the formula for a new
explosive--more powerful than any the world has ever known!  If the
enemy knew it the war would end to-morrow!"

Penelope shuddered.  "Why do we need it?"

"My dear, that little formula alone, scrap of paper as it is, will be a
safeguard against future wars!  The government is sending on experts to
go over the experiments and the formulas.  And, if they are satisfied,
it will be my gift--the gift of my men--to our country!"

Penelope listened with divided attention, her mind not so much upon the
wonders of shot and shell as upon the problems of the two little girls
upstairs.  She stared into the crackling flames.

"Do you think Miss Pat will fall into your plans, sister?  Remember she
is sadly spoiled!"

Pen laughed.  "She’ll never know we’re making plans--wait and see!  The
first thing we must do is to make Renée feel that this is home and
then--well, we must fill their days with sunshine--flowers and children
grow better with that, you know!  And I promise you, Thomas, that after
a few months--if I’m let alone that long--you’ll agree that my hobbies
are commonsense things after all!"

"You’re generally right, sister--I’ve found that out from long, sad
experience!  Grow your larkspur and I’ll help!  And now I move that we
call the plot finished and go to bed--you’ve worn me out!"

With two fingers he tipped her face toward him and kissed her
good-night.  Each was very fond of the other--it was this affection that
bound Penelope’s heart so closely to her brother’s children.

Long after he had gone she sat alone before the fire, her elbows on her
knees, her chin dropped into the palms of her hands.  And as she mused
over her plans, between her and the flames danced pictures of what she
would like to do to help Pat, and now Renée, grow into "hardy blossoms,
blooming year after year, keeping the garden lovely and the world richer
for their beauty!"



                              *CHAPTER V*

                              *FIRST AID*


Renée wakened to find the sun streaming through the pink-flowered
curtains and Patricia sitting bolt upright in bed, staring at her.  She
had been dreaming of Susette and Gabriel; she had to rub her eyes once
or twice before she could remember that this was America and her new
home!

"I thought you’d _never_ wake up!  I was just sitting here thinking how
nice it is to have you here. Miss Prindle would never let any of us have
a room-mate.  Let’s dress fast--there’s _so_ much I want to show you!
I’ll ring for Maggie."

As she spoke Patricia sprang from her bed and ran barefooted across the
floor to the bell.  With the sunshine and Pat’s enthusiasm, the little
homesick feeling that had begun to ache its way into Renée’s heart
disappeared in an instant.

Aunt Pen answered the bell instead of Maggie.

"Lazy girlies!" she cried cheerily.  "I have been waiting an hour to eat
breakfast with you!  Melodia has a touch of her "rheumtics" and I’ve
told Maggie that she may stay downstairs and help her.  You and Renée
can put away your things and make your beds."  She was throwing back the
bedclothes as she spoke and did not notice the surprise that flashed
across Pat’s face.  Pat did not guess that this was one of Aunt Pen’s
"plans" because she did not know, yet, that Aunt Pen was "planning"; she
had never made a bed in her life, nor had she ever had to hang away her
clothes!  But already Renée was neatly tucking into a corner of the
wardrobe her warm, comfy slippers and was hanging her nightgown upon a
hook, so, although Patricia had opened her lips to utter a protest, she
closed them, suddenly ashamed.

Over their breakfast Aunt Pen and Pat made the plans for the day.  It
must be like a holiday to celebrate Renée’s coming!  She must be taken
about the city and shown every spot of interest.

"It will seem stupid to you after Paris," declared Pat.

Renée smiled.  "Oh, it couldn’t!  Paris is beautiful but--this is
America!  Always my mother told us stories of America.  She loved it and
she wanted us to love it, too!  She used to say that America was like a
splendid, growing boy!  I think she meant that everything here is young
and over there in France it is so old!  But I love France!"  The child’s
eyes grew dark with feeling.  "Only I feel so sorry for France!  She’s
like poor Susette and her flowers!"

"It’s Susette’s cheery, brave soul that you love, my dear--as we love
the cheery, brave soul of France," finished Aunt Pen.

"Well, maybe France has a soul but does she have pancakes like these?"
put in Pat, for she felt that Renée and Aunt Pen were growing far too
serious for such a glorious morning.

The day was full of interest for them both; for Patricia, because she
suddenly found a new pride in showing to her little guest the various
things in her home city of which she was justly proud.  Then Aunt Pen
gave bits of historical information that added to everything they saw.
Pat had not known that over the stretch of pretty park near her home the
early settlers had once fought with the Indians; that the huge boulder
in the park, shadowed by old elms, marked the grave where some unknown
soldiers, who had given their lives in the war of 1812, were buried.
Aunt Pen also pointed out the street, thronged now with trucks, wagons
and street-cars, that had once been the trail through the forest over
which, when the Indians had burned the village, Patricia’s great-great
grandmother had escaped, hidden under sacking and straw in the back of
the old farm wagon, drawn by oxen.

"Oh, how thrilling!" cried Pat with a little shiver of delight.  "What
fun it would be to have to escape now!  Only we’d just go in this car
with Watkins driving about fifty miles an hour!"

Later in the day Patricia begged that she might take Renée again along
the river road, past the old fort that had once leveled its wooden
cannon toward the shore of Canada, past the huge factories with their
countless chimneys belching forth flame and smoke.  Aunt Pen had let
them go alone and the ride had been one of endless interest.  They were
returning swiftly along the maple-shaded street that led toward home
when the car swerved sideways, Watkins gave a quick laugh, and the air
was pierced by the sharp cry of a dog in pain.

"Watkins--it was a dog!" cried Patricia.

"I know it.  He’ll be more careful next time!"

Renée had covered her eyes.  Pat sprang from her seat and leaned toward
the chauffeur.

"_Stop!_" she cried so commandingly that he ground on the brake.  "I
think you’re--you’re _awful_ to go on and leave the poor dog!"  Tears
threatened her voice.  She opened the door and sprang out, followed by
Renée.

But another little girl had gone to the dog’s rescue.  Sheila Quinn,
walking homeward from school, had seen the accident.  She had run out
into the street and had gathered the dog into her arms. When Pat and
Renée had reached the spot she had laid Mr. Dog upon the grass and was
examining him.

"Is he dead?" cried Pat and Renée in one voice.

"Oh, no!  See him try to lick my hand!  He knows we want to help him!  I
guess he’s more scared than hurt!  Here, it is his leg.  See, it is
broken."

"How can you tell?" asked Pat, filled with admiration at the quick
careful way Sheila had examined their patient.

"Run your hand gently over his body; see, it doesn’t hurt him!  But look
at his leg--how it hangs! And watch him, he’ll wince if I just move as
though to touch it!  We won’t hurt you, doggie dear, just keep quiet and
we’ll fix you up all nice."

"What will we do?" asked Pat anxiously.

"We must put it in a splint and bandage it," promptly answered Sheila,
looking around her as though to find the necessary things.

"I know--I know!  There’s the white stuff Aunt Pen got at the Red Cross,
we can use that!  She forgot it--it’s in the car."

"That will be just the thing!"

"Get it, Renée!  And here are some sticks--won’t they do for splints?"
asked Patricia eagerly.

"It ought to be something firmer, at least until the bone is set."
Sheila was straightening out the poor little leg with so gentle a touch
that the dog only whimpered.  "If you’d let me use your scarf we could
make a sort of pillow----"

For answer Pat snatched the woolen scarf from her shoulders.  Sheila,
rolled it tightly into a firm pillow.  Renée had returned with Aunt
Pen’s package and she and Patricia commenced tearing it into strips.
Their fingers, eager though they were, made awkward work of it.

"Let _me_ do it!  You hold his leg," exclaimed Sheila.  She tore off
strips two inches wide.  Then she neatly covered the woolen scarf with a
wider piece.  Renée and Pat, deeply concerned, leaned over the dog and
watched.  Pat held the injured leg and Renée gently stroked the dog’s
head.

"Isn’t he a darling?" cried Pat.  "I just _hate_ Watkins for hurting
him!"

"It wasn’t Watkin’s fault--he might have saved the dog and had a serious
accident and hurt--you girls!  The dog ran out in front of the car!
This will be a lesson to him."

The splint ready Sheila gently placed it under the dog’s leg and
instructed Pat how to hold it in place. She wound the bandage around and
around, careful to avoid the break, but firmly, so as to hold the splint
securely in place.  Then she straightened up from her kneeling position
with a long breath.

"There, now--that will do nicely, until someone can set it!"

"I think you’re wonderful--the way you can do things!" cried Pat, always
generous in her praise. "Where did you ever learn?  And oh, I forgot, we
don’t know your name and we’d like to----"

The three girls, grouped about the injured dog who lay very contentedly
with his head pillowed on Renée’s lap, presented striking contrasts.
Pat, like a picture in a fashion book in her trim green broadcloth coat
and turban set jauntily on her smooth dark hair, had a frankness and
sunniness in her face that was invariably winning despite a slight
imperiousness of manner; Renée, small for her thirteen years, her
delicate face, framed in golden curls, touched by the shadow of the
sorrows she had known, seemed like a fragile flower.  And Sheila Quinn,
a head taller than even Pat, her black hair neatly braided in two tight
pigtails reaching almost to her waist, her face and form showing the
vigor gained from healthy exercise and simple living, had something both
of Patricia’s winsomeness, Renée’s quiet poise and a happy contentment
all of her own which came from the Quinn philosophy of "just make the
best of everything, sweetness, there’s sure to be some sunshine
somewhere!"

Sheila laughed.  "Which question shall I answer first?  I’m Sheila
Quinn!  I know you are Patricia Everett, but----" she hesitated as she
glanced toward Renée.  Patricia added:

"This is Renée LaDue who has come way from France to live with us!"

"Oh, how nice!"  Sheila glanced with friendly curiosity up and down the
little figure.  "And I learned bandaging and all that at the scout
meetings. I was highest in my first-aid test," she concluded proudly.

"Scouts----" queried Pat.

"Girl Scouts," explained Sheila.  "I belong to Troop Six and it’s the
best troop in the city!"

"Les Eclaireuses!" cried Renée.  "There were some in the School of St.
Cloud.  I loved them--they used to bring the soldier’s coats and socks
to Susette for us to mend!  They were like little girl soldiers."

Again Patricia felt small and insignificant before the greater
experience of Renée and now, Sheila! But her nature was too sunny to
show the moment’s sting of pride.  Besides, she was immensely curious.

"What do you have to do to be a Girl Scout?"

"Why, just want to join!  I mean just want to be all that a scout must
be and then put in your name.  I wish you’d join Troop Six--it’s the
best and everyone just loves Captain Ricky--she’s the scout captain."

"What do you have to want to want to be a scout?" asked Pat.

Sheila squared her shoulders.  "This is what you have to want," and she
repeated with dignity, for she was leader of her patrol and felt the
responsibility of her position, "to do my duty to God and my country, to
help other people at all times, to obey the scout law.  There are lots
of laws but they’re the kind you just _like_ to obey.  Captain Ricky
says the real meaning of scouting for girls like us is service to God
and our country; that it helps each one of us to build strong characters
that anyone can depend upon!  And when girls are scouts why, we don’t
stop to think that one, maybe, is rich and another poor and one’s black
and one’s white or one’s a Jew and one’s a--a Baptist--we’re just all
scouts and loyal!  Oh, I love it!"

"Renée, _let’s_ be scouts!" cried Pat.  "Let’s tell Daddy we want to
join Troop Six--it’s the best in the city!"

Mr. Dog, his patience exhausted, had commenced to stir restlessly and
lick his bandaged leg.  The three girls exclaimed in dismay:

"We’ve forgotten the dog!"

"What shall we do with him?"

"I’d better take him home.  I am sure my mother can set his leg and then
we’ll put it in a stronger splint," said Sheila.

Pat and Renée could not dispute Sheila’s claim to the interesting
patient.

"Then we’ll come over to-morrow to see him. I think he’s a nice dog
because he looks just like Miss Prindle’s General who has all kinds of
prizes, only dirty!"  Patricia motioned to Watkins who, resigned to
waiting, had become more concerned in the afternoon newspaper than in
the fate of the dog.

He looked a little angry now when Pat explained that they intended to
carry the dog in the automobile to the Quinn home, but there was
something in Pat’s face that stilled the protest on his lips.

Pat exclaimed with delight when she found that Sheila lived in the old
brick house whose windows were in sight of her own.  With Renée and now
Sheila, the world that had seemed only the day before to be so lonely,
now seemed full of friends. Sheila did not tell Pat that she had often
watched her come and go from the house that was so like a palace
compared to her own.  Sheila knew that there had been just a little envy
in her heart at times and she was ashamed of it.  For, after all, not
for worlds would she exchange her dearest mother and the three small
brothers for the wealth of the Everetts!

"Let’s have lots of good times together," Pat called in parting, "and
we’ll come over first thing to-morrow to see the dog!"

So much had Pat and Renée to tell of their day that Mr. Everett quite
forgot an after-dinner engagement he had made with a business
acquaintance. All four of them, Aunt Pen and Daddy, Pat and Renée sat
before the fire.  Pat, with a diplomacy not suspected by her innocent
family, led up very carefully to what she wanted "more than anything
else in the world!"  That was always the way she put it.  She used the
very words now as she told of Troop Six--the best in the whole city!

"Bless Pat!" cried her father, using Melodia’s favorite expression, "_I_
can’t keep up with you! Yesterday it was one thing and to-day it’s
another, and it’s always what you want more than anything else in the
world!"

"Yes, Daddy--_this_ is!"

"A Girl Scout----" he glanced over the children’s heads at Penelope and
his brows lifted as much as to say, "Well, this is _your_ garden--what
have you to say?"

Aunt Pen answered his look.

"Do you know, Thomas, I think it’s just the thing!  It will bring the
girls in touch with joys and responsibilities they’ve not known before!"

"It makes us build up--oh, something about character!"  In her
excitement Pat could not remember Sheila’s grand words.  "Renée says
that in Paris they are like girl soldiers.  And Sheila says we’ll love
the girls in the troop; there’s Keineth Randolph and Peggy Lee and True
Scott and a lot of others----"

"I know Mrs. Lee, and if Peggy is like her mother she is a fine girl,"
added Aunt Pen.

"Keineth is John Randolph’s girl," put in Pat’s father.

"Then we may?" Pat asked anxiously.

"You may," laughingly answered Mr. Everett and Aunt Pen in one voice,
covering their ears that they might not be deafened by Pat’s boisterous
"hurrah!"

Upstairs Pat chattered on, although Renée’s eyes were almost shut with
sleep.  They opened their beds and each laid out her nightgown and
slippers.

"You know I’m glad Maggie’s downstairs now--we ought to take care of
things ourselves; we’ll _have_ to, if we make good scouts!  Oh, good
gracious!"  Pat whirled a stocking in midair.  "We’ll have to try exams
and I’m always scared to death. But you’ll help me, won’t you, Renée?"

And little Renée, her heart overflowing with gratitude, glad to do the
smallest service within her power, answered heartily, though sleepily,
"’Deed I will!"



                              *CHAPTER VI*

                      *EAGLES AND GOLDEN EAGLETS*


    "A bun fell on my kitten,
    She died where she was sittin’----"

sang Sheila, holding up for inspection the blouse she had just finished
ironing.

The front doorbell rang, its rusty tone resounding through the house.

"Goodness gracious," exclaimed Mrs. Quinn, smoothing out her apron.  Few
came to the sombre front door of the old house; somehow instinct seemed
always to lead visitors along the flagged walk to the door leading into
the cheery kitchen.

Sheila, flying to the door, had guessed in an instant who the callers
were!  She led Pat and Renée back through the long hall and the injured
dog, comfortably established in a basket near the stove, set up a
vigorous barking by way of welcome.

"He’s all right, or will be as soon as the break mends, mother says!
This is my mother, Pat," and Patricia turned from the dog to Mrs. Quinn,
who greeted the girls with her cheery smile.

"The children would have him here and I guess the poor dog is glad
enough to find a home," she explained, nodding toward the basket which
the younger Quinns, with scraps of old carpeting, had made most
comfortable.

"Mother says he’s an Irish terrier, so let’s call him Paddy!"  And
Paddy, as though he liked and accepted the name, barked and wagged his
stump of a tail and tried to jump out of his basket.

With little effort to conceal their curiosity Patricia and Renée were
staring about them.  Patricia had never seen a kitchen like this before!
She could not tell just what made it so different--it might be the neat
rows of pretty china dishes on the shelves of the open cupboard, or the
shiny tins and pots and pans in the stove corner, or the bright rag rugs
on the spotless floor, or the gay patterned cloth across the table at
the window, or the blooming plants on the sills framed by crisply
ruffled muslin curtains! And Mrs. Quinn, a pink bow at her neck
brightening her faded dress and heightening the color of her thin
cheeks, looked as though she belonged there with the geraniums and the
bright rugs and the spotless dishes!  Patricia was thinking that it was
just the sort of a room one felt like staying in--and anyone could feel
sure that--if there was any sunshine anywhere--it would be slanting
across that floor.

Renée was standing with her hands quaintly clasped.

"It is like home," she cried.  She caught sight of a little wooden stool
and exclaimed: "Oh--like Susette’s!"

Sheila had told Mrs. Quinn that Renée had come way from France.  The
motherly woman now drew the child to her and let her tell of Susette and
the cheery kitchen at St. Cloud so that the tiny shadow of homesickness
might pass from her heart.

Patricia was joyously announcing that her Daddy and Aunt Pen had said
they might join Troop-Six!

"And I saw Captain Ricky and she told me to bring you girls to-day!
Scout meeting is at three o’clock at Lincoln School," Sheila added.

"Renée--do you hear that?  Goodness, I’m scared!  What do we have to do
first?"

"Form in patrols for inspection.  I hope you can come into the Eagle
Patrol with Keineth Randolph and Peggy Lee and myself!"

Patricia had innumerable questions to ask.  She and Renée sat upon the
floor, one on each side of Paddy’s basket which had been drawn out into
the middle of the room.  Sheila resumed her ironing, explaining that it
must be done before she could do anything else.  Mrs. Quinn commenced a
vigorous beating and stirring that promised goodies of some kind,
joining now and then in the merry chatter. This was the beginning of
many such pleasant hours in the kitchen of the old brick house!

As the girls were going home Patricia said suddenly to Renée, speaking
out of a moment of deep thought: "What was it made it so jolly--there?
I believe it was the piano!  Who’d ever think of having a piano in the
kitchen?"

"No!" declared Renée.  "It was the rocking chair and the piece-work
cushions and the stool!"

At the scout meeting Renée, unused to large groups of children, felt a
wave of shyness grip her. She was grateful for Pat’s vivacity--no one
would notice how quiet she was!  At first there seemed to be a great
many girls and as though they were all talking at once, but soon she
made out through Sheila’s rather offhand introductions that the girl
with the nice eyes and jolly smile was Peggy Lee, that the smaller one
with the golden hair was Keineth Randolph and that these two with the
three girls standing near Pat made up the Eagle patrol.

Capt. Ricky, who was really Miss Fredericka Grimball, only no one ever
called her anything but Capt. Ricky, greeted warmly the new recruits.
She was a tall young woman, her fine face made beautiful by beauty of
character rather than feature and with a personality that won her girls’
liking and at the same time their respect.

She whispered to Sheila that she would place Pat and Renée in the Eagle
Patrol!  A shout went up in answer which was quieted by Capt. Ricky’s
whistle and her command to "fall in!"

Pat felt delightfully like a soldier as she drew up her slender five
feet of body between Renée and True Scott.  But she was an absurdly
awkward soldier as she obeyed the commands and her pride met a sad fall
when upon inspection she had to hold out ink-stained fingers!

After a brief drill the Captain gave the command to the Color Guard to
form.  From the ranks three girls stepped forward and with military
precision brought from its place at one end of the room the Troop flag.
Every scout’s hand went instantly to the forehead in salute!  Together
they repeated:

    "I pledge allegiance to my flag and to the country
      for which it stands;
    One nation indivisible, with liberty and justice
      for all!"

Renée could not follow their words, but in a clear, sweet voice she sang
with them the "Star Spangled Banner," and as the words rang out, "Then
conquer we must when our cause it is just," there was an added
brightness in her eyes, for she had come closer than the others to
"war’s desolation."

In Sheila’s kitchen the girls had studied the scout laws; they repeated
them now, carefully.  To Pat, whose life so far had had few "laws" or
"rules" of any kind, they seemed to mean more, now, as she repeated them
in chorus, and she wondered deep within her heart if she could really
keep them all! But just at that moment she caught a glance and a smile
from Capt. Ricky that put courage in her heart where the faintness had
been!  It would be well worth trying!

A business meeting followed.  The business on hand to be discussed
ranged in character from reports on "war savings," "thrift kitchen
work," "city beautiful plans," a "back-to-school" campaign, knitting and
sewing, to a noisy argument over a coming hike.  The girls all tried to
talk at once, and but for Capt. Ricky’s whistle might have succeeded;
nevertheless, out of the jumble of words Pat and Renée caught the
impression that these merry girls were really doing a great deal of
earnest work as well as play!  In these khaki clad youngsters strong
characters were in the building, "that anyone could depend upon" as
Sheila had put it!

"Sheila, I know something un-us-u-al is going to happen!" whispered
Peggy Lee, leaning across Pat and Renée.  The Eagle patrol had grouped
together, sitting cross-legged on the floor.  "When Capt. Ricky looks
like that she’s got some grand surprise----"

"Maybe it’s an overnight hike!  We take our ponchos and blankets and
dog-tents and sleep outdoors!"

"It’s too cold for that now, Ken!  Perhaps it’s a real party like the
one we had last spring!"

But none of them had guessed right!  Capt. Ricky had a surprise for them
but it was even better than the overnight hike or the "real party!"

When the business of the meeting was over she stepped before them, her
hands clasped behind her back in a most mysterious manner.  She began:

"Scouts, I have been given a great privilege--and you shall all share it
with me!  An honor has come to Troop Six!"  She had to wait, then, for a
moment; loud cheers interrupted her!  She did not seem in the least
disturbed.  "But like all the honors that have come to Troop Six this
has been won through merit, earnest effort and hard work.  We may well
be proud of her who has brought us this honor; we can all follow her
example and seek the standard she has attained!  We can hail her as a
leader among us!  Sheila Quinn, please step forward!"

A ripple of "oh-h-h" ran through the girls! Sheila’s face turned
crimson.  Peggy and Keineth excitedly pushed her forward.

Capt. Ricky’s left hand clasped Sheila’s and with her right she held up
a glittering badge.

"Sheila, it is my happy privilege, upon the recommendation of the
National Commissioner, to award to you the Golden Eaglet, the highest
honor that can be won by a Girl Scout!"

A din of cheering drowned out anything more that Capt. Ricky might have
wanted to say.  Peggy and True Scott were capering about like
jumping-jacks. There were shouts of "What’s the matter with Sheila!
She’s all right," "Three cheers for Troop Six," "Now a tiger for the
Eagle Patrol," and through it all Capt. Ricky stood smiling, clasping
Sheila’s hand, and Sheila, the color of a red poppy, looked wildly about
as though seeking some corner that might swallow her up.

Someone called "speech"; Peggy took it up, then it came from every
corner!  Capt. Ricky nodded to Sheila.  Sheila swallowed hard to clear
her voice of the tight band that seemed to choke it.

"I’m awfully glad I won--just for the sake of the Troop!  It was hard
work at first but afterwards one thing helped another.  I hope you’ll
all be Golden Eaglets and I’ll help anyone that wants to work for it
and--Oh, I can’t say another word!" and poor Sheila made a dash for the
corner where the Eagle patrol awaited her with eager arms.

There were "eats," then, for it was of course a great occasion, and
Peggy insisted that Sheila must eat six of the raisin cookies that were
served.  Pat, feeling now as though she had always belonged to Troop
Six, asked, humbly, "if plain Eagles might not have just five?" and
helped herself as she spoke!

The girls walked home together, a merry troop! Peggy Lee and Keineth
Randolph turned after a few blocks; as Pat, Renée and Sheila went on Pat
slipped her hand through Sheila’s arm.

She had been deeply impressed by Sheila’s modesty of manner.  She was
certain if she had been awarded such high honor she would have strutted
like a peacock!

"Doesn’t it feel grand to be a Golden Eaglet?" she asked Sheila
solemnly.

Sheila hesitated.  "I--don’t--know!  It makes me sort of--scared!  I
must live up to it, you see, and sometimes--it’s awfully hard!"

For a few paces the girls walked along in silence. Serious thoughts had
crossed each mind.  An honor won was not enough--it must be lived up to!

Pat, who could not be still for very long, was the first to break the
silence.  She gave a merry chuckle.

"Well, I guess Pat Everett has a long way to go before she can be a
Golden Eaglet!  I’ve got to learn to be just a good scout first and you
can believe that the next time I go to a scout meeting--I’ll wash my
hands before I go!"



                             *CHAPTER VII*

                            *AUNT PEN PLANS*


The Everett family was holding a "pow-wow."  That was what Pat called
the after-dinner hour when they gathered about the library fire.  Renée
thought it quite the jolliest time of the day; almost always Mr. Everett
had so many funny or exciting things to tell and he and Aunt Pen never
shut the girls out of their conversation; when sometimes their talk
became serious and of problems which the girls could not understand,
then either Mr. Everett or Aunt Pen carefully explained.  And in turn
Aunt Pen and Pat’s father would listen with deep interest to the girls’
account of their day.

"It’s not nearly as jolly when Celia’s home," Pat had confided to Renée,
"’cause she always talks and won’t pay any attention to me!"  Although
Aunt Pen, overhearing her, had laughed and said, with a world of
meaning: "Poor chatterbox!"

Letters had come from the south that day.  They read them over now as
they sat in the "pow-wow."  In her letter to Pat’s father Mrs. Everett
had told him how glad she was they had taken Renée and how eagerly she
looked forward to knowing the little girl!  As Mr. Everett read this Pat
squeezed Renée’s hand and Aunt Pen patted the fair head. To Pat her
mother had enclosed a little note.


* * * Be a dear good child and help your Aunt Pen by doing whatever she
wishes you to do.  Keep your father from being lonely without us, and
remember that sometimes he is very tired when he comes home at night and
likes to have some one read to him!  And be very considerate of the
little stranger you have taken into your circle. * * *


"Mother needn’t worry!  I’ll just like to do all of those three things,
you’ll see!" cried Pat, folding her precious note and tucking it away in
her pocket.

But Aunt Pen’s letter was the one that claimed their deep attention!


* * * If everything goes along all right at home--and I know it will
with you there, dear Pen--we may stay until spring.  We are very
comfortable, the hotel is quiet and the food is good.  Celia seems
brighter and is quite contented. Chauncey is out of danger, too, and in
a short time we may go to the hospital and see him. * * * It was very
hard for me to make up my mind to leave home just now, but I could not
hesitate when I knew that it was for Celia’s good.  And you, dear girl,
made it easier for me by taking my place. * * * I am worried about Pat’s
school.  I really don’t think she ought to go back to Miss Prindle’s at
all--there is so much sickness everywhere, and I simply cannot stand any
more worry.  I think I’d rather she stayed right at home.  But she ought
to have some work--dear Pen, please plan this out for me!  I feel so
helpless way down here!  I will leave it all to you, knowing that
whatever you do will be for Pat’s good. * * *


"Read that last again," broke in Pat’s father with a twinkle in his
eyes.  Pat was looking rather anxiously at Aunt Pen.

Penelope read it again and then folded the letter.

"It’s just exactly what I wanted Caroline to say!"

"But, Daddy, I don’t care--now--about not going back to Miss Prindle’s,
but I’d hate a tutor or anything like that!"

"All play and no work----"

"But I do work!  Ask Aunt Pen if I haven’t made my bed every morning!"

"I have some plans," Aunt Pen began slowly, "the girls ought to have
some studies and----"

"And a tutor, Aunt Pen?"  Aunt Pen nodded. "Not that awful Miss
Gray--please, Aunt Pen!"

"No, not Miss Gray!  I think I know someone whom you’ll like--or at
least you are very fond of her now!"

Amused at the real distress in Pat’s face her father broke in:

"Aunt Pen says she has some plans!  Her plans are generally very
interesting," with a sidelong glance at his sister, "though I admit that
sometimes she is very heartless!  Let’s hear them!  Then if you don’t
like them, why----"

"Well, then," cried Pat resignedly, "let’s hear them!"

Renée was listening with deep interest.  She had never gone to school
except for the three years following her mother’s death when she had on
pleasant days gone to the communal school at St. Cloud. Before that her
mother had taught her; she had stored away, too, in her mind valuable
knowledge from the books which had been always about her. Now the
thought of going to an American school filled her with terror!

Aunt Pen assumed a comically serious air.  "I will tell the girls my
plans and they shall decide, for unless they go into the work with all
their hearts it will do them little good!  First, each day must be
divided into periods, the first to begin at eight o’clock. Between eight
and nine there will be instruction in household arts"--she could not
resist a sly wink at Pat’s father--"that includes making beds without
wrinkles and tidying the corners; of the room, especially behind the
wardrobe where things collect--"

"Aunt Pen, you are _just_ joking!"

"No, my dear!  I never was more serious in my life!  To my thinking
accuracy in such work is as important as accuracy in algebra or
geometry!  And I am sure you did not get it at Miss Prindle’s!"

"What then?" cried Pat and her father.

"An hour of out-of-door exercise in the morning and one in the
afternoon, or at least two hours out-of-doors each day, regardless of
weather!"

"Oh, I _like that_!" interrupted Pat.

Aunt Pen continued severely: "And that does not mean riding with
Watkins!  That leaves six hours for study, classes and indoor
recreation."

"Study what?" demanded Pat, still suspicious that there must be
something unpleasant somewhere.

"Well, different things for each of you.  Besides the classes in
bed-making, sweeping and dusting, cooking and home-nursing, I think you
should study Algebra and spelling, Renée may study English and she will
help you with your French, and you will both have Latin.  Then in the
evening you may read American history from books selected by your
tutor----"

"Did ever anyone hear of a school like that?" cried Pat, clapping her
hands.  "I love it, Aunt Pen, and I’ll work hard--honest!  Oh----" her
face fell. "Who will be the tutor?"

"Where can you find anyone who can make bread and teach Latin
infinitives?" put in Mr. Everett mischievously.

"Well," Aunt Pen tried to look modest, "how would I do?"

"You!" cried Pat incredulously, certain now that the whole plan was only
a joke.  "You--really, truly?"

"Really, truly, my dear!  I will dearly love to teach you and help you
both!"

Pat threw both arms about her neck in a strangling hug.  "Oh, Aunt Pen,
it will be such fun and I’ll really, truly try to learn Latin and I
won’t stuff things behind the wardrobe any more--that was my half of the
room, you know!  And maybe, with Renée to help me, I can soon speak
French as well as Celia!"

"And I’ll offer a prize for the best loaf of bread that one of my girls
makes!" added Mr. Everett.

"No, there shall be no prizes in this school!  If one of the girls can
do something better than the other then she is going to help the other!
More than all the French and Latin, in the world I want my pupils to
learn unselfishness!  And we will keep reports and the reward will come
when Pat and Renée show these reports to Pat’s mother."

"What do you think about it, Mouse?"  That was the name Mr. Everett had
given Renée.  Her eyes were shining with delight.

"Oh, I will like it very much!  And there is so much I want to learn if
I am to live in America and I will try so hard!  I was afraid to go to
school!" she confessed.

"It is very natural that you should have dreaded it, my dear!  After a
little that shyness will wear off and you will find many staunch friends
and playmates."

"I want to learn to iron as nicely as Sheila can," announced Pat with
her accustomed enthusiasm.  "And cook, too--make tarts and things! Why,
Aunt Pen, all that is what we’ll need to be second-class scouts!"  The
thought suddenly brought concern to her face.  "Will we have time, Aunt
Pen, to study for the tenderfoot test?  Peggy Lee and Keineth Randolph
are going to teach us to tie knots and, you know," she added hastily,
"that is important!  Everybody should be able to tie all sorts of
knots--it’s very useful, lots of times!"

Aunt Pen nodded.  "Of course!  You shall have a chance to learn all
that!"

"Peggy says her brother will teach us how to semaphore, too!  Oh, we’ll
be _so_ busy, Renée!  I think I’ll write to Angeline all about it!"

She ran to the spinnet desk across the room and pulled out paper and
pen.  Her head was whirling with Aunt Pen’s delightful plans!  She wrote
furiously for a few moments, with a loud scratching of her point.  But
as she wrote into her mind slowly crept a vivid picture of the girls at
Miss Prindle’s and of the life there!  With the page half written she
stopped.  Then she caught up the paper and tore it across, dropping the
pieces one by one into the waste-basket.  From the divan before the fire
Aunt Pen was watching her, wondering at the fleeting shadow that had
crossed the brightness of her face.

"What is it, Pat?" she asked gently.

Pat hesitated.  "Oh--nothing!"  There was a note of defiance in her
voice.  She did not add that into her heart had suddenly come the
illuminating conviction that the girls she had known at Miss Prindle’s
would laugh at Aunt Pen’s "school!"

"There was just so much to write about that I couldn’t seem to begin!"



                             *CHAPTER VIII*

                             *BREADWINNERS*


A perplexing problem confronted Pat.  Her scout uniform must be bought
out of money she had earned herself.  And she had never earned a penny
in her life!

"I earned my money knitting mittens and selling them and True Scott
crocheted tam-o’-shanters. They were awfully pretty and all the girls
ordered them.  Peggy Lee worked on Saturdays in a grocery store--taking
telephone orders," Sheila explained.

"I can’t knit well enough or crochet or do anything," Pat wailed
afterwards, in gloomy consultation with Renée and Sheila.

Then at Sheila’s suggestion the girls studied the "Help Wanted" column
of the newspaper.  They spread it out upon the floor and knelt around
it; Renée reading off each advertisement and Sheila and Pat passing upon
its possibilities.  After considerable discussion it was decided that on
the next afternoon Pat should go to a certain office address where, as
the advertisement read, any refined lady, young or old, would be told
how to make ten dollars a week, in pleasant occupation, in her spare
hours!

"That will be just right for me!" Pat declared enthusiastically.  "It
won’t interfere with ’school.’"

Aunt Pen’s "school" was well started.  At first Pat had been inclined to
treat rather lightly the schedule of "household arts," but she realized
very soon that Aunt Pen was in earnest and that she intended to demand
the same thoroughness and accuracy in the simple tasks about the house
that were necessary in the sums in Algebra!  At the beginning Pat had
detested what Melodia called "the upstairs work," but under Aunt Pen’s
pleasant instruction and with Renée’s cheerful company--that little lady
was a true housewife and her hands flew eagerly about her work--Pat
began to feel more interest and to try very hard to do everything just
right!  And at the end of the first week Aunt Pen had allowed the girls
to make apple pies which Mr. Everett had declared were better than any
apple pies he had ever tasted!

"And ten dollars a week!" Pat went on, "I will be rich very soon!  Now
we must find something for Renée!"

"Perhaps I might earn a little arranging flowers in shop windows; often
I helped Colette Voisin, who had a stall at St. Cloud, and I loved it!"

"Just the thing!" cried Pat, delighted with anything out of the
ordinary.  "Most of the flower shops look hideous and they’d probably
pay you well!  While I go for my position to-morrow afternoon, you and
Sheila can stop at each one of the florists and offer to trim their
windows!"

The fortune-seekers spent an excited hour preparing for their adventure.
Aunt Pen had gone out for the afternoon, so they were undisturbed.  Pat
insisted upon fastening her hair tightly back from her face so as to
give to herself an appearance of mature severity!  At the last moment
she donned a long coat of Aunt Pen’s which concealed her own kilted
skirt and then for a finishing touch added Celia’s last year’s sable
furs!

"There--I’m sure anyone would take me easily for twenty-one!" she
declared, surveying herself with satisfaction.  And to Pat twenty-one
seemed old enough to suit the most exacting employer!

They had arranged to meet Sheila at her gate. Renée was frightened to
death, and as the three girls trudged on toward the business section of
the city she repeated over and over, after Pat, just what she must say
upon entering each florist’s shop!

"Be sure to tell them that you used to fix that flower stall in France!"
warned Pat as they parted. She waved her hand, calling "good luck," and
walked on with a brave step.  Sheila was to stay with Renée because
Renée was not acquainted with the city streets.

But two hours later it was a crestfallen trio who met--as they had
agreed to do--in Sheila’s kitchen. Pat, in spite of her ridiculous
make-up, looked like an unhappy, thwarted child!  She had waited over an
hour in a stuffy office, packed in with dozens of other "refined lady"
applicants who had--although Pat would not tell this even to Sheila or
Renée--openly laughed at her!

"And by the time it was my turn to go in I was so tired waiting that I
got all sort of scared and couldn’t say a word," she explained in deep
disgust. "Anyway, it was to sell "Beauty Packages" at people’s
houses--things that’d make straight hair curly and remove freckles and
everything else and you had to deposit twenty-five dollars before they’d
even let you begin!"

"And all the flower shops said they had experts to decorate their
windows--they would not even let me tell of Colette’s stall!  I think
they thought I was too little," sighed Renée; "often they laughed!"

"Well," Pat tossed her head, "we just mustn’t get discouraged but try,
try again!"

Renée shuddered.  "Oh, I can’t--not like that!" she cried vehemently.

"Would you rather not be a scout?" demanded Pat.  "You never get
anything without trying for it and I guess I’m not going to let one
failure discourage me!"  In the pleasant shelter of the Quinn kitchen
she felt very brave!  But a threat of tears in Renée’s eyes softened
her.  "Don’t worry, Ren, we’ll find something!  Maybe," she hesitated,
"maybe we’d better consult Aunt Pen!"

"Oh, I wish you would!" Renée cried eagerly. Pat’s adventurous spirit
frightened her a little.

"I’ll think about it and maybe to-morrow----"

For Pat was not quite sure, in her own mind, just what Aunt Pen might
think of the borrowed coat and Celia’s furs!

By countless little signs Aunt Pen knew that her girls had something on
their minds!  Hurrying down to dinner she had caught a glimpse, as she
had passed Pat’s door, of her own coat and Celia’s furs thrown on Pat’s
bed; the girls had been unusually silent during the evening meal and she
had twice intercepted an appealing glance from Renée to Pat which had
drawn a nod of assurance from Pat in answer! Pat’s room work the next
morning had been sadly careless and her Latin recitation had found her
abstracted!  Aunt Pen was too sensible to force a confidence--she was
sure that it was only a matter of a little time before Pat would bring
to her anything that troubled!

So she was not surprised when after the morning’s work was over Pat came
to her door.

"Renée and I want to talk to you, Aunt Pen!" she said so seriously that
for a moment Penelope was startled.

The two stood before her, Pat with her hands clasped behind her as she
had often seen her father stand.

"You see it’s like this, Aunt Pen--Renée and I have got to earn some
money to buy our uniforms! We can’t just use allowances!  It’s about six
dollars and a half apiece!  We can’t knit well enough to sell things and
Peggy Lee worked in a grocery store, but it was where her mother traded
and they were nice about it!  But we--can’t--find--any work!"

"Then you’ve tried?"

Pat colored.  "Yes--we tried yesterday!"  Without going too much into
detail and carefully giving their experience as much dignity as
possible, she recounted the efforts of the afternoon before to find
employment.  Aunt Pen was suddenly seized with a violent coughing fit
which left her tearful!

"I _hope_ you’re not laughing," Pat ended with some wrath in her voice.
"I’m sure we’re old enough to earn money--_boys_ do at our age!  And I
am not in the _least_ discouraged!"

"That is right, Pat," cried Aunt Pen admiringly. "But perhaps you have
not gone about it the right way!  Let’s sit down now and go over the
whole thing!"

Afterwards Pat told Sheila that one thing she always liked about Aunt
Pen was that she treated a person as though that person _knew_
something!

And Pat never dreamed that it was not her own mental processes that,
after a few words, arrived at the conclusion that she and Renée must
content themselves with just trying to do what they were qualified to
do!

"Renée is too young to be employed even for any part of a day in a
store--we have a law that forbids it!  And you, Pat, could scarcely sell
enough Beauty Packages in what spare time you have to replace the shoe
leather you’d wear out!"

"But what _will_ we do?" cried Pat, humble now.

Aunt Pen thought for a long time.  Pat’s earnestness was a very precious
thing--she must guard it!

Suddenly she clapped her hands with the girlishness that made her such
an understanding companion.

"I have a brilliant idea!  You remember the box of apples that came last
week from my farm?  We must have at least fifty bushels of them!  My
farmer said he was going to take them to market next week. Instead, you
and Renée may go around and take orders!  You can sell them for a dollar
and seventy-five cents a bushel--even then it’ll be under the grocer’s
price--and you will pay the farmer a dollar and a half, which is all
he’d get wholesale, anyway."

"Then we’ll make a quarter a bushel?"

"Yes.  If you sell the whole lot, you’ll have twelve dollars and a half
to divide between you, besides lots of exercise and some experience!
And you can take orders for potatoes, too, up to twenty bushels."

"Oh, great!" cried Pat.  She danced around Indian-fashion.  "May we
begin this afternoon? And may I take some of the apples that came here
around in a basket to show people?"

"That is a good idea!  I think you’ll find it pleasanter than selling
Beauty Packages!  Then other ways of earning money may turn up.  You
know one thing you can learn, even when you are little girls, that will
help you all through life is to know and grasp opportunities when they
come."

"I don’t know what we’d do without you, Aunt Pen!  I’ll keep accounts in
a little book, for I love putting down and adding figures.  Let’s call
ourselves ’LaDue and Everett, Agents.’"

Renée, whose face reflected her pleasure and approval of the new plan
and her relief that the afternoon need not bring further search for
employment, spoke now, shyly:

"I want so much to earn some money so as to send a little to Susette and
Gabriel.  I have so much here and they may need many things!  Do you
think I could sell Christmas cards?"

"What kind, child?"

Renée told, then, of the little cards she had painted and sold in St.
Cloud.  She ran to her room to bring a few that she had.  Penelope
exclaimed with real admiration over them:

"Why, my dear, they are beautiful!  Of course you can sell them!  And
you must make more!  And dinner cards, too!"

"Then valentines!" cried Pat.  "And I’ll sell them, ’cause you see I am
bigger!  We can buy your paints and cardboard out of our apple money
and--"

"What a business woman you have suddenly become!" Aunt Pen declared.

"We’ll need a great big account book and an office----"  Pat stopped
suddenly and clapped her hands to her head, a motion which always
indicated that she had an idea!

"Oh, spliffy!  Renée--come on!  I’ve the _best_ plan!"  That it was to
be a secret was certain!  She caught Renée’s two hands and dragged her
from the room, leaving Aunt Pen convulsed with laughter.

There ensued, then, from the third floor, between the lunch hour and the
afternoon study period, a rumbling like thunder, mingled with pounding
and scraping and bursts of laughter.  To add to the mystery Pat rushed
downstairs to return shortly with broom and dustpan and a mob cap over
her dark head.

Not until the next afternoon was the secret revealed!  Then with much
ceremony Pat and Renée escorted Aunt Pen to the third floor.  For years
the low-gabled room stretching across the east wing of the house had
served as a sewing room where the Archer sisters had worked stitching
frocks for Celia and Pat and mending the household linen.  The Archer
sisters--Pat had always thought they looked like gnomes---were dead now
and Mrs. Everett had the girls’ dresses made by a downtown dressmaker.
The room had not been used for a long time.

Now upon its door had been nailed an imposing and elaborately decorated
sign which read: "_Eagles’ Eyrie_."  And beneath that, emphasizing its
warning with a skull and crossbones, was another sign: "_No
Admittance_."

"Three knocks and then a quick one is the signal," explained Pat
mysteriously; "and you and Sheila and Peggy and Keineth and True Scott
are the only ones that will know it--except, of course, Ren and me!"

Pat was unlocking the door as she spoke.  She threw it open proudly.
"This isn’t going to be any silly club!" she explained.  "Everyone that
comes here must work!  That desk over there is mine and Renée has this
table because she can paint on it and the light’s good.  And that big
table is for the other girls, only we have to keep it against the wall
’cause one leg’s off!"

A few hours’ work had utterly transformed the room and had removed all
traces of the patient Archer sisters and their livelihood.  The floor,
very dusty in spots, was covered with strips of an old hall carpeting
which, when hardwood floors had been laid, had been stored away.  Pat
had also resurrected from the storeroom the antiquated desk and tables
and a dilapidated assortment of chairs.  Over one of these, to add a
note of elegance to the room, she had thrown an old Bagdad lounge cover
and across the windows the girls had hung pieces of faded velour,
replaced a few years before in the living rooms below.  The air was
heavy with the smell of camphor and dust; the three-legged table had a
pathetically helpless look, a corner of the wall was stained from a leak
in the roof, but to Pat and Renée it was an inspiring retreat!

"My account books are there in my desk, and I’ll have you know, Aunt
Pen, that ’LaDue and Everett’ have gotten orders for ten bushels of
apples which wasn’t bad for one afternoon’s work and for girls, too!"
declared Pat.

"Oh, that reminds me!"  Aunt Pen’s voice was as enthusiastic as that of
the junior member of the firm.  "I have an order for LaDue and Everett!
Miss Higgins will take twelve of the Christmas cards!  I showed her one
this morning.  She is going to put them on sale in her tea room.  She
may order more!  You must decide as to your prices, Renée."

Renée was too delighted to answer.  Pat fairly bubbled with excitement.
She caught Aunt Pen and Renée in a whirling step that almost completely
demolished an ancient chair that lay in her mad path.

"Hurrah for the Eagles’ Eyrie!  And won’t we just have fun?  You,
know"--she quieted suddenly--"the day mother and Celia went away I was
awfully miserable and I wrote the silliest things in my diary!  But that
was before I found Renée! And now we’ve got Sheila and you and our jolly
school and our business and I’m glad’s can be they left me home and I
didn’t go back to Prindle’s!"

Aunt Pen, for lack of breath and a chair had sunk down upon the floor.
She looked up laughing.

"I’d hate to have to analyze that sentence of yours, Patsy!  But even if
your English is constructed badly your heart is gold and I say--good
luck to you and your Eagles’ Eyrie!"



                              *CHAPTER IX*

                            *THE NEW LODGER*


"Whatever in the world are all those whistles blowing for?" asked Pat,
springing from her bed and running to her window.  "Something’s
happening--I know!"

The girls listened.  The early morning air was filled with incessant
sound; the shriek of sirens, shriller blasts, the heavy tones of boats’
whistles from the harbor, intoning bells.

"It makes you shiver!"

"Let’s dress quickly!"  Pat reached out for a stocking.  "Maybe it’s
peace!" she declared suddenly.

"Oh-h!" was all Renée answered, but there was a world of meaning in the
single sound.  "Listen! There are more bells!  Aren’t they beautiful?
Perhaps they are ringing all over the world."

Downstairs they found everyone wildly excited. Even Jasper, who had not
been over from England for so many years that he had forgotten his
relatives there, was talking volubly to Aunt Pen and passing her sugar
for her boiled egg!

"What is it, Aunt Pen?" cried Pat and Renée in one voice.

"My dears--the fighting has stopped--at last!" Mr. Everett answered.  He
seemed too moved to say more.

"I don’t know whether I feel more like praying or shouting," laughed
Aunt Pen with two tears rolling down her cheeks.

From the extra which Jasper had brought in Mr. Everett read to them all
the terms of the armistice to which Germany had agreed.  Melodia and
Maggie listened from the door.

"I feel all queer inside!" announced Pat.

Renée’s breakfast lay before her, untouched. Aunt Pen, seeing the real
distress on the child’s face, divined the ache that lay in her heart.
So that when Renée, unable to control herself longer, rushed toward the
door she felt two quick arms fold about her and draw her close to a
friendly shoulder.

"Dearie, tell us!  Don’t grieve by yourself!"

Then poor Renée buried her face; it was several moments before she could
speak.

"I wish I was--there!  Home, I mean--poor Susette is old--and has--only
Gabriel!  We worked so hard--we made a flag, Susette and I, and we tried
to make it just like your Stars and Stripes; we put in the thirteen
bars, ’cause I had counted--but not--nearly--enough stars!  We’d
promised Emile when peace came--he said that the Germans _would_ be
beaten--we’d hang it from the corner of the roof, ’long side of
Gabriel’s old French flag!  And"--the head went back against Penelope’s
shoulder--"I’m ’fraid Susette--will forget--and it--will not--be there!"

"She will remember, Renée, because right at this moment I know her heart
and her mind are full of thoughts of you, just as you are homesick for
her and the little cottage!"

Mr. Everett, who had been deeply moved by Renée’s story, interposed some
practical comfort.

"Renée, will you let me--by way of celebrating this day--send a money
order to Susette in your name?  Remember, child, how little we have
suffered as compared to you and Susette and countless others--over
there!  You shall write her a little letter to go with it!"

"Oh, I will _like that_!  And then Susette will surely know that I am
with kind, generous friends!"  The child’s eyes were bright again.  "And
I will remind her where we put the flag and she can hang it out, for I
think now there will be flags flying in France for a long time!"

"This must, of course, be a holiday," declared Aunt Pen.

"And let’s just do things we’ve never done before," cried Pat.

At that moment Mr. Everett was called to the telephone.  He returned
greatly excited.

"Burns telephones from the Works that the men are forming a monster
parade!  They’ve got a band and helped themselves to every flag in the
place! The city’s gone mad!  I must hurry away.  Take the girls
downtown!  This November eleventh must be a day we will never forget--as
long as we live!"

And as he hurried off he said to Renée in parting:

"Have that letter ready, my dear, and I will send the money order home
at noon-time."

The girls rushed away to put on their wraps.

"May we stop for Sheila?" called Pat over the banister.

"Of course!" assented Penelope, glad that Pat wanted to share all her
joys with her friends.

By the time they reached the downtown section the walks were thronged
with people and the streets had been cleared of traffic for the marching
hosts. The girls found a place on the curb.  It seemed to them as though
everyone had gone mad all at once and that they were as mad as anyone
else!  At every corner processions were forming, headed by any sort of a
makeshift band and where not even a drum could be commandeered, tin pans
and pails had been pressed into service!  And through it all the
incessant, deafening tumult of whistles!

Everyone was smiling!  The sun had burst through the accumulated clouds
of long years of war!

A group of men and girls from a shipyard marched by.  Some of them were
drawing a huckster’s wagon they had seized and upon its load of potatoes
and apples and cabbages they had placed a big ship’s bell!  One of their
number rode on the wagon and with a huge sledge pounded the bell at
regular intervals.  They were all carrying flags, big and small, and one
grimy man had a baby in his arms!  The crowd on the curb cheered wildly
and the man held the baby high in the air!

The marchers had to halt and while the man with the bell rested, they
sang the Star Spangled Banner.  Others took it up--it was carried down
block after block, a rising wave of sound, a chorus of triumph!  Pat and
Sheila and Renée sang lustily and as they sang Pat felt her hand
suddenly caught in a warm, tight clasp!  It was her neighbor, a little
bent woman with the dark eyes of the Italian race and a worn shawl over
her head and shoulders.  Her eyes were brimming with tears, but through
them she was smiling like the others!  Pat was too young to guess the
tragedy of sacrifice that might lie behind those tears, but she was not
too young to sense the common joy and thankfulness and privilege they
shared!  So she squeezed the worn fingers and smiled back into the
little old woman’s face!

"Here come the men from the Works!" cried Aunt Pen, standing on tiptoe
to look over the crowd. The shipbuilders had passed on.  Along surged
the approaching host, fifteen thousand strong, men and women!  They had
stripped the works of flags and carried them now high in the air with
arms that could not tire!  The discordant blasts of their band was
heavenly music to their ears!  Old men stepped along like boys;
scattered through the lines were hundreds of girls in their working
overalls and caps.

Renée was puzzled.  These men, many of them, did not look like the
Americans she had seen!  One of them shouted out in a strange tongue,
but he carried a banner that said "We are for the U.S.A."  Perhaps, like
herself, he had come to America for refuge and was giving now of his
strength and loyalty to the mother country he had sought.

"Can’t we march, too, Aunt Pen?" cried Pat.

Some one from the lines shouted to them to come in!  They made a place
in the ranks for them and even the little old woman with the shawl
joined the procession.  A voice from behind hailed them and Pat saw her
father marching with his men.

"Could a day be more wonderful?  But I am as hungry as a bear," declared
Pat at luncheon.  "And, oh joy, chicken and biscuits!  What shall we do
this afternoon, Aunt Pen?"

"Dear me, Pat, do you think as fast as you talk?  For the sake of your
digestion I shall keep the plans for this afternoon a secret until you
are through luncheon!  But it is going to be something you’ll _just_
love!" and Aunt Pen imitated perfectly Pat’s characteristically
enthusiastic tone.

"Aunt Pen, I’ll choke if you don’t tell even a _teeny_ word!  Let us
guess!"

But Aunt Pen was firm, and not until the last crumb of luncheon had been
eaten would she say one word!

Then: "Your father says we may all go through the Works!"

"All--Sheila and Keineth and Peggy?"

"Yes.  And we will start in half an hour.  That will give Renée a chance
to write her letter to Susette."  For Renée had found on her plate an
envelope containing a money order for one hundred dollars!

Because of the day’s celebration the Works were almost deserted and for
the first time in months the great wheels were still and the furnaces
smouldering. Mr. Everett met the girls and took them himself from
building to building, explaining carefully every process of manufacture.
Peggy and Sheila were intent listeners; Keineth, more imaginative than
the others, thought that the wheels were like great giants, harmless now
as they slumbered!  And Renée loved the empty, dusty spaces, the
gleaming metals of the engines and dull glow of the furnaces!  Pat’s
most lasting impression was pride that her father should know so much!

Sheila became particularly absorbed in the pattern shop.  She had
lingered behind the others to examine more closely a series of beltings.
Of an inquiring and inventive mind, she was always deeply interested in
the putting together of any piece of mechanism. Suddenly she realized
that she was alone and hurried out of the building to overtake the
others.  They had gone on through a long, enclosed alleyway to the main
shop.  She could still hear Mr. Everett’s voice.

As she rushed through the passage she ran headlong into a man who
appeared suddenly from a doorway letting into the passage.  He was as
startled as she!  "_Du verdamte dumkopf!_" he snarled, under his breath,
hurrying on.  Sheila stood motionless.

"That was _German_!" she thought.  She turned quickly.  The man was
disappearing at the end of the passage.  And in a flash she recognized
him as her mother’s new lodger!

Pat’s voice came to her from the other direction.

"Shei-la!  Come along!"

A multitude of thoughts were whirling in Sheila’s head!  She did not
hear one word of the light chatter about her, for the exploring party
had ended now in Mr. Everett’s office.  That man had certainly cursed in
German and there had been an evil look in his face; she had frightened
him so that he had lost control of himself for an instant!  And what
could he have been doing there--like that--when all the other men were
off celebrating?

Down deep in her heart a voice told her that she ought to tell Mr.
Everett immediately!  But another voice warned her that that would
surely mean the man would be discharged and her mother would lose her
lodger!  The back room would be empty again--and the music!  She had
begun her lessons and Miss Sheehan had said she "was learning quickly!"
It had been a precious dream come true--

She listened to the second voice--it was very coaxing!  "Perhaps he is a
German who has become a loyal citizen of the United States," it told
her, and that sounded very reasonable!  She had startled him and he had
spoken in the old, forgotten language! And the evil look she had caught
in his eyes might have been imagined--for she had been startled, too!
Besides, had the fighting not ended this very day? What harm could an
enemy do now!  If she told Mr. Everett and he laughed she would feel
very foolish!  Mr. Everett was placing them in the automobile and
instructing Watkins to take them to Huyler’s where they would have
chocolate and cakes to end the great day.  She could not tell him now!

But the doubt in her heart made her sweets taste bitter, and while the
others chattered merrily Sheila sat silent and absorbed.  She had
listened within herself to the pleasanter voice, but in her ears still
rang that muttered "_Du verdamte dumkopf_," and she was haunted by the
gleam of evil eyes.



                              *CHAPTER X*

                           *A SCOUT’S HONOR*


That night Sheila dreamed all the great wheels she had seen in the
Everett Works were rolling down the street after her and, though she ran
as fast as she could, they advanced more quickly and came nearer and
nearer; then they began to roar and to wave arms of hot metal towards
her!  The nearest reached out and caught at her with fiery fingers and
just as she felt them close about her, she wakened!

Paddy was barking furiously, running from her bed to the door and back,
as though to implore her to come!

Her fingers clutched at the bedclothes--with terrified eyes she peered
into the darkness of the room! It had been a dream--she was safe in her
bed!

"Woof!  Woof!" growled Paddy.

Sheila crept out of bed, scolding Paddy in whispers, that she might not
waken her mother who slept in the next room.  Barefooted she stole down
the stairs to the kitchen, Paddy leaping on ahead of her. The kitchen
was dark; it was a moment or two before Sheila’s eyes could make out the
familiar objects.  Paddy growled and barked again!  A sound outside
startled Sheila so that she had to clap her hand over her mouth to still
a scream!  Then she realized it was the lodger going up the outside
stairway!  Each step creaked under his foot; she heard the door above
close and a key turn in the lock!

But Paddy was not satisfied!  He did not bark again, for Sheila had
soundly rapped his nose, but he ran to the window, and placing his
fore-paws on the sill, looked out and whined.  Sheila, following him,
peeped through the curtains.  A light snow had covered the ground in the
small backyard; it was still falling.  Not an object was visible except
the bare lilac bush in the sorrier.

"I s’pose it’s a cat--you bad dog!" Sheila muttered crossly.  "Come
right upstairs, now, and be quiet!"  So the two scampered back to
Sheila’s room and Sheila cuddled down under the bedclothes, pulling them
well up over her face.  Paddy jumped upon the bed and laid down very
close to her feet and, though Sheila knew this was against the Quinn
rules, she was grateful for his company and did not drive him away!

In the morning Sheila was not her cheerful self; she helped prepare the
breakfast, clear it away and get the three small brothers ready for
school in an abstracted manner.  Her mother watched her start off
herself with an anxious heart.

"Land o’ goodness, what’s got into my sweetness this morning?" she
thought.  "Never mind--if it’s anything wrong she’ll be telling her
mother!"

Which was exactly what, at noon-time, Sheila ran all the way home from
school to do.  Not for a moment longer could she bear the self-reproach
and doubt that was tormenting her!  And her mother gave her the counsel
she expected!

"You go just as straight to Mr. Everett as you can, dearie!  And don’t
worry!"

Sheila found the Everett family in a state of intense excitement.  She
needed only to glance once at Mr. Everett’s stern face to know that
something terrible had happened!  And with incredible instinct, born of
remorse, something within her told her what it was!  She stood quite
still and looked from one face to another down the length of the table
upon which the day’s luncheon had been spread.

"Oh, Sheila, somebody has stolen some dreadfully important formulas from
the Works----" began Pat.

"No--no--no!" cried Sheila, as though her protest must stop the truth!
Then she realized that they were staring at her in amazement!  She
clutched the back of a chair and tried to speak but not a sound would
come.

"It is true," explained Mr. Everett in a tired voice.  "It must have
been the work of a very clever band of spies!  All three copies of the
formula have been taken!  Each one had been put in a place we considered
absolutely safe!  We had just completed them and were ready to turn them
over for the examination of the government experts!"

"And think of it, Sheila, Daddy says that it was for an explosive so
dreadfully powerful that just having the formula and knowing how to make
it would help prevent wars!  Isn’t that what he said, Aunt Pen?"  Pat
was greatly excited.

"To keep the secret in our country will certainly help to prevent future
wars!  There is no doubt but that the theft is the work of German
agents," Mr. Everett answered.  "And I did not know that we had a man we
could not trust!"

Then Sheila swallowed hard.  As she began to speak she felt as though
her voice was coming from a great way off--that it did not belong to her
at all! Everything in the room began to whirl around her excepting Mr.
Everett.

In broken words she told her little story.  And at the end she burst
out, tears choking her voice: "I just hate myself for not having told
you right then and there!"

It seemed to Sheila that long minutes of silence followed her outburst
and as though every face in the room was turned upon her in
condemnation.  Her own eyes were fixed on the rug at her feet.  But
presently Mr. Everett’s voice answered with a hopeful ring it had not
had before and, gaining courage, Sheila looked up to find Aunt Pen
nodding in approval and Pat regarding her with open envy.

"My dear girl," exclaimed Mr. Everett, "I believe you’ve given us an
important clue!  I’ll call up the secret service detectives and will ask
you to repeat your story to them--if you will wait!"  He quickly left
the room as he spoke.

"Sheila Quinn, you’re just like a real detective! Isn’t it grand and
exciting?  I’d never have thought a thing about that awful man!" Pat
cried.

And Aunt Pen was solicitous that Sheila should have some hot luncheon
immediately!

From that moment on everything happened with exciting rapidity.  Sheila
repeated her story to the two detectives who came at Mr. Everett’s call.
It was too late to return to school, so, hurrying home, she went grimly
about various little household tasks, constantly listening for a knock
at the door, starting at every sound!

"Do you know, Sheila," her mother whispered, "I’m as nervous as can be!
I’m sure I heard Mr. Marx go upstairs the front way!  He’s never done
that before!  I believe he just doesn’t want a body to know he’s in the
house!  Hark!"  Holding hands tightly they listened; a soft pad-pad
overhead made them certain someone was moving about in the room above.

"I wish they’d hurry and come and arrest him," Sheila groaned.  And
scarcely had the words left her lips when the front doorbell gave out
its rusty clang.

Mrs. Quinn met three men at the door who briefly explained that they
came with a warrant for the arrest of one Mr. John Marx who they thought
might be found in her house.  With a nodding of the head that set awry
all sorts of little gray curls, Mrs. Quinn made it known that she was
very certain the gentleman was at that moment right up in her back room!
She started up the stairs with two of the men while the third lingered
uncertainly in the hall below.

"Quick--come and watch these stairs outside," cried Sheila running to
him.  She led him back to the kitchen.  They reached there just in time
to hear the outside door above close quietly and quick steps on the
rickety stairs.  Not quick enough, though, for as Mr. John Marx opened
the door at the foot of the stairs he faced the muzzle of a revolver!

Sheila, frightened and unnerved, shrank to a corner of the kitchen.  She
heard quick, angry voices, a sharp command, a click of metal as of a
lock snapping shut!  Her mother and the two other officers had come into
the kitchen.  Then the one man and his prisoner went away and the others
returned to the room above to search its contents.

"Dear me, I feel almost as though we’d done something ourselves," sighed
Mrs. Quinn, worn out with excitement.  "And he was a nice appearing man,
too, with always a pleasant word when he brought me the----" she
stopped.  For the first time it came to her that she had lost her
lodger!

And as though the same thought tormented Sheila the girl dropped her
work and went to the old piano.  It had been tuned and polished and Mrs.
Quinn had draped a linen and lace square over one end of it.  Sheila sat
down and slowly, with a lingering touch, ran her fingers up and down the
scale. Then she rose abruptly and closed the cover over the keys with a
resolute bang.

"It’s not half the punishment I deserve--but I did want to learn!" and
bursting into tears she, rushed off to her room to fight out by herself
the disappointment she must face.

And as though the day had not brought enough to "just clean tucker one
out," as poor Mrs. Quinn put it, that evening, after the boys had gone
to bed, Mr. Everett and Pat came to the door!  Mrs. Quinn’s hospitable
soul was greatly distressed that she could not invite her guest into the
parlor--occupied now by old Mr. Judkins at twenty-five dollars a
month--but Mr. Everett declared that he could not ask for a more
comfortable chair than the old rocker nor for a more cosy room!  With
his usual tact he made Mrs. Quinn feel that they were old acquaintances.

He told them--keeping Pat’s voice out of the story with difficulty--how
the arrest of John Marx had led to the rounding up of the entire band;
how they had been quickly proven to be Germans and paid agents of the
German government and how--although as yet the formulas had not been
found and their whereabouts remained a deep mystery, it must be only a
short time before they _would_ be discovered, as some of the best secret
service men in the United States were working on the case!

Mr. Everett’s face looked worn and worried. Nevertheless he spoke
cheerfully, as though to relieve Sheila’s concern.

"And now, my dear," he concluded, "you have helped us so much in this
matter I want you to tell me frankly--is there not some way in which I
can show my appreciation?  Is there not something you want to do?  Girls
like you and my Pat here have so many air castles and I would like----"

"Oh, _please_ stop!" Sheila sprang to her feet, her face burning.  "I
just can’t _bear_ it!  If I had done what I knew, right then, I _ought_
to do--and told you, there at the Works--they might have been
stopped--in time!  But I didn’t!  I waited!  The only way I can bear
thinking about it is knowing that--I’m being punished!"  Her shame-faced
glance went from the piano to her mother’s face. "So please don’t say
anything to me about----" she stopped, held by a sudden thought, and
drew from the pocket of her blouse a small, flat package of tissue
paper.  With trembling fingers she unwrapped it and held up to view her
badge of the Golden Eagle.

"I didn’t live up to it!  I didn’t keep my Scout’s honor!  Mr. Everett,
please, will you take it and keep it for me--until the formulas are
found?  I cannot wear it!"

There was no doubting the resolution in Sheila’s face.  The man marveled
at the courage with which this mere girl inflicted upon herself the
punishment she thought she deserved!  In spite of a half-smothered
exclamation from Pat, he took the badge, carefully re-wrapped it, and
put it away in his pocket.

"Sheila, you are evidently determined not to forget this lesson!  Many
of us make mistakes often by hesitating to heed the voice of our
conscience, but I know one girl that isn’t going to let it happen
again!"  He patted her affectionately upon her shoulder.  "I don’t
know," he added, enigmatically, "but that this all may not be worth more
than the formulas--for us all!"

Then he shook Mrs. Quinn’s hand warmly in parting.

"I congratulate you, madam."  And though Mrs. Quinn was too flustered to
know what in the world for, nevertheless she beamed with pleased pride!



                              *CHAPTER XI*

                             *YOUNG WINGS*


"Tat!  Tat!  Tat!  T-tat!"

The mystic door of the Eagles’ Eyrie opened wide enough to admit Peggy
Lee and Keineth Randolph.

All sorts of greetings assailed them.  "Hello, Eagles!" "We were afraid
you wouldn’t come!" "A half-holiday and such a storm," regretfully from
Pat.

"We’d come through flood and fire!" cried Peggy, with magnificent
expression.  "We are the bearers of good tidings!"

"What?  What?  What?" came at once from three throats.

"The Wasps have challenged us to another game, and if we don’t beat the
pigskin right off of ’em--I’ll resign as captain of the team!"

"Peg--you talk more and more like Billy!"

"Garrett, if you please," and Peggy struck a fine pose!  "Now that he
has come into the dignity of long trousers, my dear brother desires to
be called Garrett!  Billy is far too childish for him and William would
confuse him with his respected father who is also my dear daddy----"

"Well, Garrett, then," Keineth laughed, "only I heard you promise your
mother you would not use any more slang!"

"So I did, and I am trying, and what I really mean is that if my dear
little Yellowbirds do not play an exquisitely nice game and defeat the
Wasps I shall be prostrated with chagrin and shall send in my----"

"Oh, for goodness sake, Peg!" they begged.

Peggy now became very earnest.  The Wasps, Troop Nine’s basketball team,
was the only scout team that Troop Six had not been able to beat.  Now
the Yellowbirds were going to have another chance! For the next two
weeks they must practice as they had never practiced before!  They
_must_ uphold the honor of Troop Six!

Pat’s face, as she listened to the plans, wore a wistful look.  She
wanted so much to make the Troop team!  No one of the scrubs worked
harder at practice!  And Peggy had told her, too, that she was beginning
to play a good game.  Of course it was wicked to wish that anything
might happen to any of the valiant Yellowbirds, however--

Renée interrupted the plans of the young athletes by abruptly pushing
back the one sound chair in the room which she had been occupying.

"It’s too dark to work!" she declared, shutting her paint box.

"Let’s just sit around and talk," suggested Pat "I feel lazy!  Anyway,
Ren, you work too hard!  I heard Aunt Pen say so."

Against the windows of the Eyrie the storm beat relentlessly--rain and
hail; gusts of wind, sounding like witches’ voices around the gable.
The girls stretched out on the floor.  Sheila shut the book she had been
reading.  Pat pulled Keineth’s head into her lap that she might "play,"
as she called it, with the bright curls escaping from the band that held
them back.

"You’d almost think there were fairies around! Listen!"  Keineth held up
her hand.  "It makes me think of a story poor Tante used to tell me
about the kind fairies who came to whisper to the princess what she
should do when she had been shut in the tower of the castle by the
wicked prince.  Tante used to try and make me understand how one could
learn something from all those fairy tales--the wicked prince was our
own selfish natures, the beautiful princess was, of course, our bestest
selves that we’d shut away in the prison tower and the fairy voices that
whispered and sang ’round the tower were the voices of Opportunity!
But, dear me, I used to think it was more fun just to believe that the
princess was a real princess!"

"I wish a fairy would come right now and tell me what _would_ rhyme with
"long" besides "song!" sighed Pat.

"And _I_ wish a fairy would just guide my fingers for me," put in little
Renée from her corner.

"Let’s all tell what we want to be," cried Peggy. "I’ve always said I
was going to be an actress!  I was in a play once and did awfully well!
But Barbara met Ethel Barrymore when she visited college and she told
the girls that only a few of the women who go on the stage are really
happy or become famous!  I don’t believe Barb told her about me but Barb
got the idea that she sort of--meant me! And Billy--or Garrett--says my
feet are too big, anyway, and I guess he’s right!  So now I’m trying to
decide whether to be a chemist or a doctor!  I love to fuss with the
cunning little dishes and mix up all sorts of things, and if I don’t
blow myself up Dad says I’ll be all right.  But I’d like to be a doctor,
too!"  Poor Peggy’s forehead wrinkled in a deep frown over the
perplexing problem of her future.

"My father says that after four more years of school he will take me
abroad to study my music from great masters!  And I will learn to play
and to write beautiful music!" said Keineth softly, looking as though
off in the shadows of the room she could see her dearest dreams come
true.

"Your turn, Ren!"

Renée blushed under the serious glances turned toward her.  "I’ve wanted
ever since I was a little girl, to make things out of clay and marble,
like my father used to make--and Emile.  Emile had promised to teach me
when I was older.  My mother could never bear to see the clay and tools
around, it made her very sad, I think because it made her think of my
poor father.  One summer mother and Emile and I went to the sea, and
when we’d sit on the beach Emile would help me make rabbits and cats and
birds out of the wet sand.  I love to draw and paint, but when I am
older I shall learn to carve, too!"

"Now, Sheila!"

Sheila laughed.  "Goodness, girls, I’ve never had a moment to make nice
dreams like yours!  I _did_ want to learn to play the piano----" she
stopped short; the hurt of disappointment and the smart of remorse had
not healed in her heart.  "But I never could have earned any money--with
it!  I just want to hurry through school as fast as I can so that I do
something that will help the boys and mother along!  They’ll want,
maybe, to go to college!  I think I’d like sometime to be a nurse!  I’m
awfully big and strong, you see, and mother has taught me a lot of
sensible things!"

"You be a nurse and I’ll be a doctor!" exclaimed Peggy.

"We’ve all told but you, Pat!"

"What are you going to be?"

Pat looked around the circle of earnest faces.  It was a moment of noble
thoughts, of precious confidences!

"Girls, I’ll tell you all a secret if you’ll _promise_ not to tell!"

"We’ll promise!"

"Cross your hearts?"

"Cross our hearts and on our scout’s honor."

"Well"--Pat hitched along to the center of the circle--"I’m going to be
a poet!  And I’m writing a ballad--_right now_," she mysteriously tapped
her pocket from which protruded a long pencil and a corner of paper.
"And it’s about Aunt Pen!"

"Aunt Pen!" cried Renée.

"Yes--_that’s_ the secret!  You think she’s happy but she has a secret
sorrow and _I found it out_!"

"Oh, tell us!  What is it?  _Do_ hurry, Pat!"

Pat’s voice dropped to a fittingly sorrowful note. "It was a
disappointed love, I think!  That silly malady even attacked poor Aunt
Pen, though she isn’t like lots of people and doesn’t go round with a
broken heart within her bosom and sighing and weeping like they do in
stories!  I guessed it when she asked me so many questions about Captain
Allan, Renée’s guardian, you know, and she looked so funny and red when
she was asking them just like I do when I’m saying one thing but really
wanting to say another!  Then she wanted to see a letter he had written
to Renée and Renée brought it, and I watched her face _and then I knew_!
It turned fiery red and then white and she did the _queerest_ thing--she
_kissed_ that letter, real quick--just a plain letter he’d written to
Renée!  I couldn’t believe my eyes that it was Aunt Pen!  She _knew_ I
saw her and she began to laugh and then to sort of cry!  She told us
that she was _sure_ it was a Mr. Allan she had known her senior year in
college!  I begged her to tell more but she just said ’there isn’t any
more to tell!’ and we couldn’t get another word out of her!  Of course
Aunt Pen has a right to hide her own secret sorrow away but she can’t
stop my putting it into a ballad! Only I can’t think of anything to
rhyme with ’long’--except ’song’ and I’ve used that!"

"Go right through the alphabet, Pat!  Bong, cong, dong----"

"Now _don’t_ you girls tell a _soul_ that I’m going to be a poet!" Pat
admonished.

Peggy sprang to her feet.  "Girls--let’s make a solemn pledge to stick
to our ambitions and not let a single thing stop us!  And we’ll help one
another!"

"We must have a pass-word!  Let’s have it ’Steadfast!’"

"We ought to have a motto, too!"

"I know a Latin one, ’Labor omnia vincit!’ How’s that?"

"Spliffy!  Now to do this right, girls, we must have a ceremony!  Stand
up--in a circle!  Hold hands--thumbs in--like this!  Now all say the
motto together!  What was it, Keineth?"

Keineth repeated, "Labor omnia vincit!" and the girls said it with her.

"Now, altogether--’Steadfast’--so we’ll get used to it!"

"Steadfast!" in hissing whispers.

Sheila was so thrilled that she was moved to oratory!  "Girls, I know
some day we’re all going to be _great_!  I just _feel_ it!  And we’ll
look back to this afternoon in our youth and say----"

"Steadfast!" giggled Peggy.

"Tat!  Tat!  Tat!  Tat!"

"Sh-h!  It’s Aunt Pen!"

Aunt Pen, deserted below, had blackened her face and put on her head a
bright yellow turban, to look as nearly as possible like Aunt Jemima of
pancake fame!  Now on a huge tray she bore a plate of doughnuts and a
pitcher of cider.  A noisy greeting welcomed her into the Eyrie!

That night Renée was wakened by Pat’s insistent call in her ear.  The
lights were burning and Pat was standing over her, tragedy written in
every line of her face.  Alarmed, Renée sat bolt upright, her eyes wide.

"Sh-h!  Don’t be frightened!  It’s just--I’ve _lost_ my ballad!"

Renée thought she must be dreaming--or was Pat stark crazy?

"I couldn’t sleep and I was thinking I’d change that ’long’ for ’carry,’
’cause there’r so many words rhyme with that--and I looked in my pocket
and it was gone!"

Renée was aghast at the seriousness of the loss! Putting on their
slippers they stole down the stairs and made a thorough search.  But
they could find no trace of the missing ballad!  At last Renée persuaded
the disconsolate Pat to go back to bed.

"Well, I’ll _just_ have to write it again!" she sighed, digging her
tired head into the pillow. "Maybe this time I’ll write it in prose
’cause it’s _such_ a bother making words rhyme!  Only, poets are _so_
much nicer than just authors, don’t you think so, Renée?  Renée----"

But for the first time Renée failed to meet her friend with sympathetic
understanding--she soundly sleeping!



                             *CHAPTER XII*

                               *THE GAME*


"Renée!  Aunt Pen!  Guess!"  Pat climbed the stairs two steps at a time.

"I’d guess that you had been running every inch of the way home,"
laughed Aunt Pen, for Pat’s cheeks were scarlet from the outdoor air and
her hair was tumbling down about her ears.

"I should say I had!  Such _good_ luck!  Or"--she attempted to correct
herself--"of course it isn’t exactly _good_ luck, only--True Scott
sprained her ankle and I’m to play guard in the game tomorrow!"

"Oh, Pat, I’m so glad!  I _know_ you’ll win!" and Renée looked as though
she believed that the Yellowbirds needed only Pat as one of their guards
to rout the Wasps in an overwhelming defeat!

"I’m glad you’ve been chosen to substitute, for you have practiced so
faithfully," declared Aunt Pen. "It is hard on True, though!"

"Peggy says that maybe it’s a kind Providence that sprained her ankle,
’cause True didn’t play as well in the last game!  Of course, as Peg
says, when you’re captain of a team you can’t let friendship make a
_bit_ of difference!  And she says if I play all right in this game she
thinks I’ll be put on the team!  You can just know I’m going to _try_ my
best!"

Aunt Pen had decided that Renée was not strong enough as yet for the
basketball practice.  Sometimes she went with Pat to the gymnasium,
carefully keeping out of the way of the players but watching with
interest Pat’s progress in the game; more often she spent the hours when
Pat was at practice, in painting, working out new designs for her cards,
reading or walking with Aunt Pen.  Each day found the little girl
happier, more contented in her new home and more passionately devoted to
her new friends who had brought into her life a wealth of affection and
interests she had never dreamed could exist.  Day by day Aunt Pen saw
the fragile body develop into girlish strength and the timid spirit gain
in courage and confidence.  The shadow of her sorrows would never
completely leave her, but it had helped in moulding and maturing the
young mind and strengthening it to meet whatever the future held for
her.

Aunt Pen had found a fascination in Renée’s quiet company.

"One gets the impression that never a word passes her lips quickly!
Sometimes she makes me feel ashamed of my impulsiveness!" Penelope told
her brother one evening.  They had been talking of her work with the
girls.  Mr. Everett had asked:

"Well--is our larkspur budding?"

Aunt Pen, taking his question very seriously, had answered modestly: "I
don’t know about the Latin and Algebra but I _do_ know that Pat is a
healthier, happier girl than she has ever been before, and we may feel
very proud of Renée when we turn her over to Captain Allan!"

Pat was not there to see the color flood Aunt Pen’s face as she said
these last words.

"We ought to hear from him soon!  I hope he has been able to find out
more concerning the child. I do not like to question her too closely--I
can see that it makes her unhappy and homesick."

Penelope would have liked to have asked her brother more concerning
Renée’s guardian but he began to talk of something else.  Often, as she
and Renée sat or walked together, she allowed to creep into her thoughts
a rosy day-dream of that time when the officer would come to claim his
ward!

Pat upset her entire family with her preparations for the all-important
game!  She must have her dinner early in order that a sufficient time
for proper digestion might elapse before her bed hour!  As authority on
this point she quoted rules which seemed to have been laid down by their
tyrannical captain. She must have eggs, too; for her supper, and could
not dream of eating the steam pudding, rich with dates and raisins,
which Melodia had prepared.  It would surely lie heavily in her stomach,
make her restless all night and stupid and sluggish the next day!  A
nice custard--Pat detested custards--she must have!

Then for ten minutes early the next morning the chandeliers of the house
rattled in their brackets and the pictures danced on the walls--not an
earthquake, only Pat, guard of the Yellowbirds, "just loosening her
muscles" in a process of gymnastics that included everything she had
ever heard of!

As the hour of the game approached the gymnasium of the Lincoln School
was a-flutter with color and noisy with life.  Enthusiastic rooters from
Troop Nine, gaily decked with the green, gold and black colors of the
Wasps, were packed solidly against one side of the room.  Equally
brilliant and boisterous were the upholders of the Yellowbirds!  As they
sang their troop songs they waved small yellow flags and strands of
ribbon.

An older girl from Troop Nine acted as umpire and Captain Ricky as
referee.  Peggy’s face was a comical mixture of sternness and entreaty
as she whispered a few last commands to her team.  Pat, outwardly proud
and calm, was inwardly quaking! What if she should fail at any moment!
As the game began she was seized with a terrible giddiness--the room
swam about her, she saw only a ridiculous composite of eyes and noses
and mouths and color against the dancing walls!  Her feet were heavy
like lead and a long way from her!

Afterwards Pat could not have told at what time or why this curious
sensation left her!  She only knew that suddenly everything cleared and
she felt that the only thing in the whole wide world that mattered was
keeping the alert forward, whom she was guarding, from throwing a
basket!  And the faces and colors that had whirled a moment before faded
and left these two alone, in deadly combat!

The cheering that had been constant suddenly ceased; the circle of
spectators sat with bated breath while the ball passed backward and
forward, now a basket thrown for the Wasps, in another moment one for
the Yellowbirds.  Occasionally a particularly good play would bring
forth a loud shout only to have it hushed immediately in the suspense of
watching.  Renée and Aunt Pen sat side by side. Aunt Pen had played
basketball in her college days; now she watched eagerly, admiring the
splendid guarding of the Wasps as generously as Peggy’s swift center
work.  Renée just sat very still, saying over and over to herself:
"Oh--oh--oh!" with her eyes fastened upon Pat’s every move!

At the end of the first half the score stood twenty-four to twenty-six
in favor of the Wasps. Peggy had a whispered word with Keineth who was
playing forward.  Her guard was a girl a head taller than she; a little
overwhelmed by this Keineth had been slow in one or two of her plays!

The second half went on with quick, even play, that now and then drew
forth shouts of approval from the spectators.  The Yellowbirds scored
four baskets only to have the Wasps, with brilliant team work, recover
their lead with four baskets!  The Wasps’ center shot the ball with a
low throw to her forward.  As she caught it the linekeeper sharply
pounded the floor with an Indian club.  "Over the line," the referee
declared.  "Yellowbirds have an unguarded throw!"  Patricia was given
the ball. Renée shut her eyes--she could not watch!  But she knew when
Aunt Pen sprang to her feet that her Pat had not failed.  With a
movement quick as lightning she had passed the ball to the other guard
who in turn had shot it back to center!  And while Aunt Pen was still on
her feet Peggy had thrown it to Keineth who, with a low, lithe movement
of her body, ducked the wildly waving arms of her guard and threw a
basket!

"A tie!  _Now_ for the test!" whispered Aunt Pen, clutching Renée’s hand
so hard that it hurt.

For the next few minutes the ball passed swiftly backward and forward,
the guards and forwards leaped and ran!  Each player, keyed to the
utmost effort, was everywhere at once, arms waving, eyes alert to the
slightest advantage or weakness in defense!  A dreadful stillness held
the room broken only by the occasional low, sharp exclamations--like
pistol shots--of the players.  Peggy’s face was pale; again and again
Keineth eluded her guard only to find her, in a second, again towering
before her!

The ball passed toward the Wasps’ basket; Patricia caught it and threw
it toward the center; Sheila, playing side-center, with a swift leap,
gripped it and threw it to Keineth.  But Keineth’s guard sent it
hurtling back to the Wasps’ center!  While the spectators, conscious
that this was the last and crucial moment, rose to their feet in a body,
the Wasps’ forward caught it and, swift as lightning, threw it backward
over her head straight down through the basket!  The referee’s whistle
ended the game--the Wasps had won!

It was always customary, following the Troop games, to have a spread for
the contesting teams. Almost always the players laid aside immediately
all joy of victory, sting of defeat and bitterness of contest and threw
themselves heart and soul into a general frolic!  But this afternoon the
atmosphere was charged with resentment!  While the triumphant Wasps
gathered noisily in their corner the Yellowbirds sulked in another part
of the room.  Captain Ricky and her assistants had gone to prepare the
goodies.  There was no one to check the rapidly rising tide of complaint
and criticism!

"She _did_ only have one hand on the ball--I could swear now!" "The line
watchers _weren’t_ fair, I _saw_ her foot go over!" and "She just shoved
me!" "Who’d _ever_ expect her to throw over her head!" and "I _saw_ that
center walk _three whole steps_ with the ball and the umpire _never_
called a foul!"  The mutterings grew louder and the word "cheat"
penetrated to the corner.

Captain Ricky, coming into the room, heard it, too.  She guessed in a
moment, by the expression of the girls’ faces, what had been happening!
She drew them close about her.

"_Girls!  Girls!_"  They had never heard just that tone in their
captain’s voice.  "What is this spirit you are showing!  I have _always_
been so proud of you--so _sure_ of you!  And I was very proud to-day!
You played a brilliant game!  You were only defeated because the other
team played even a better game!  If each one of you feels that she
played her very best, then there is not a complaint that can be made!
You were outplayed--and just because you are the good players you have
shown yourselves to be--why, you should be quick and generous in your
praise of the better work of the other team! I am disappointed, my
scouts!  I want you to remember always that I’d lots rather have you
good losers--if you’ve done your best--than winners!  If you will learn
that it will help you years from now when you are playing more serious
and difficult games than basket-ball!  And it will teach you to turn
defeat into a real blessing!"

The Yellowbirds had stood with drooping plumage while their leader
spoke.  Each one was ashamed.  Peggy was the first to speak.  Throwing
back her dark head she stalked across the room to where Cora Simmons,
who had played center for the Wasps, stood in a group of Troop Nine
scouts.

"I’m _just_ ashamed of myself!" she cried, "’cause I didn’t shake hands
with you the moment the game was over and tell you how well you played!"
There was no questioning the sincere ring in Peggy’s voice.

The other Yellowbirds followed her example, and soon there was a babble
of voices going over in most friendly discussion the crucial moments of
the game.  Now the defeated players were determined that there should be
no stint to their praise of the work of the Troop Nine girls!

"Let’s have a cheer-ring!" cried Peggy, and immediately each Yellowbird
caught a Wasp by the shoulder and formed a close circle.  The room rang
with their cheers; Troop Six cheered for Troop Nine and Troop Nine
cheered for Troop Six, and then, they all cheered for the Girl Scouts!

Pat, wanting to free her soul before her whole world of whatever guilt
might lie between it and Captain Ricky’s approval, loudly clapped her
hands and demanded that they all listen while she confessed to them that
she was sure she had once even pinched the forward she was guarding and
that "she had been a perfect _peach_ not to tell!"

Pat’s declaration caused peals of laughter which quickly burst into
shouts of delight when Captain Ricky’s lieutenant called loudly from the
doorway, "_Eats!_"  And the afternoon ended with the happiness and
contentment found in good fellowship!



                             *CHAPTER XIII*

                         *THE CHRISTMAS PARTY*


Christmas was drawing near with all its promise of joy.  And the world
wrapped for so long in the gloom of war, took on a new gladness; weeks
before the holiday, doors and windows were hung with holly, stores
spread out a fascinating array of giftwares; a new light shone in
smiling faces as though "Peace on earth" was ringing through the souls
of the people!

Pat’s head was bursting with plans for the blessed holiday.  It must be
a different Christmas from any Renée had ever known!  For days they had
busied themselves preparing the box that had gone to St. Cloud--a dress
for Susette and some aprons that Renée herself had made, tobacco for
Gabriel and warm slippers and shoes for them both; sugar, coffee, and
canned goods and dried fruits until Renée was sure Susette’s neat
shelves would groan under their weight.  And in a heart-shaped silver
frame a picture of Renée!

Pat declared that they must have a Christmas tree, for Renée had never
had one!  And even though they were quite grown-up they must also hang
up their stockings!  Aunt Pen and Daddy promised to hang theirs, too, so
that Pat and Renée spent many an afternoon in secret shopping tours,
returning with mysterious packages which were carefully hidden away in
the Eyrie.

Then a letter from the south, whose usual cheery tone was tinged with a
little homesickness, made Mr. Everett decide to join his wife for the
holiday season. At first Pat rebelled stormily, lamenting that his going
would spoil everything; then for days she sulked like a naughty child
until Aunt Pen came to the rescue!  From spending the afternoon with
Peggy Lee’s mother, Aunt Pen returned, with a "secret!"

"What is it, Aunt Pen?  _Can_ we know?" the girls asked eagerly.

"Yes, you will be _in_ the "secret!"  It’s a--_real_ Christmas party!
And it will be different from any you’ve ever heard of before!  I’ll
tell you the plans we discussed and then we’ll get your father’s
permission.  I know when you hear all about it you’ll smile again, Miss
Pat, and declare that this _is_ going to be the best Christmas you’ve
ever had--even with Daddy away!"

"Will the party be here?" asked Pat, recalling on the instant some very
lovely parties given for her sister which she, because she was too
little to go downstairs, had had to watch over the stair banister.

"No, I don’t believe the house would be big enough for this one," and
Penelope laughed at the mystified expression on Pat’s face.

Then Aunt Pen unfolded the plans she and Mrs. Lee had made.  The girls
of the Troop would be the hostesses of this party and the guests would
be the men, women and children in the neighborhood of the Works.  There
must, of course, be a tree, and the girls could arrange tableaux and
then everyone could sing and dance!  And there would be sandwiches and
coffee and ice cream and cake and a gift for each one.

Gradually into Pat’s face crept a deep interest so that when the last
small detail had been explained the smile that Aunt Pen had prophesied
came back once more.  It would be a _wonderful_ party, and could they
begin planning the tableaux right away and couldn’t they run over this
very minute and tell Sheila?

So that Mr. Everett’s going made scarcely a break in the exciting
preparations, the rehearsals, the arranging of costumes, the planning of
the party "supper" and the gifts for the guests.  In desperation Aunt
Pen declared that the holidays might as well begin at once as it was
impossible to hold Pat down to any lessons!  And Renée, too, was working
feverishly, completing a rush order for Christmas cards that had come to
"LaDue and Everett" from Miss Higgin’s tea room!

On Christmas Eve the Eyrie was emptied of the treasures it had held, the
stockings hanging over the library fireplace were filled and little
piles of tissue paper packages of all sizes were made for Jasper,
Melodia and Maggie.  The rooms were filled with a spicy odor of hemlock;
holly hung over window and door.

"Oh, isn’t it fun?" laughed Pat, stepping back to survey the bulging
stockings.  "Can you _guess_ what’s in anything, Ren?  And don’t you
wish you were little again and really truly believed in Santa Claus?"

"Susette used to tell me stories of the real St. Nicholas--she said he
was the patron saint of children!"

"Well, _I_ like to think of him as a jolly old fellow driving his
reindeers faster’n Watkins can drive the car--and lots of jingling
bells!  I think about it and then I can most hear them!"

Renée had gone to one of the windows at the end of the room to peer out
into the darkness.  Snow had fallen which dulled the sounds of the city
to a musical tone not unlike distant bells of the good Santa.  Suddenly
she called to Pat:

"Come and look--over at Sheila’s!"

There on the strip of lawn before the old brick house was a Christmas
tree, hung with tinsel and twinkling with lighted candles that swayed
and blinked in the darkness.

That was Mrs. Quinn’s merry Christmas!  She and the children had hung
ropes of tinsel, red and gold balls, sparkling hearts and rings and
little candles out on the old spruce that grew in the corner of the
yard.

"To give to any poor body going by that maybe hasn’t any Christmas just
a bit of the brightness!" she had explained.

Renée, watching from between the library curtains, thought it very
beautiful!  It was like a fairy tree, placed there in the darkness by
spirit hands, breathing from its fragrant brightness a joy that all
could share!  Even at that moment they could see a bent old man, leading
a little boy by the hand, lingering to stare at the twinkling lights!

Many years before this the Everett Works had been moved from the modest
factory not far from the Everett home, where it had had its beginning,
to the great pile of steel and concrete buildings distantly removed from
the business center of the city. Immediately there sprang up on the
stretches of fields intervening between the smoky walls of the new plant
and the quiet shaded streets where the Lees and the Everetts and the
Randolphs lived, a community of small, shapeless houses, one exactly
like the other, divided by half-paved streets with their rows of sickly
infant elms and maples; with muddy backyards barricaded by miles and
miles of clothes-line, and thousands of window-panes blackened by the
incessant rain of soot from the belching chimneys. Though the suburb had
the beautiful name of Riverview, suggestive of cool breezes and open
spaces, it was always and more fittingly known as "The Neighborhood."

To the hundreds of little dingy homes had come men, women and children
from every land of the globe--here Liberty offered them asylum and the
Everett Works an honest living.  In the center of the community the
Works had erected a splendid schoolhouse and had presented it to the
city.  Although its outer walls were soon stained and blackened like the
rows of houses, its interior was as fresh and attractive as clean paint,
pictures and many growing plants could make it!  Here the children of
the foreign-speaking parents were taught to be true Americans.  And in
its big assembly room, whose windows looked out over the rows and rows
of railroad tracks with their solid wall of motionless freight cars, to
the river and open fields beyond, the girls of Troop Six held their
Christmas party.

Even before the last holly wreath had been fastened in place the guests
began to come--whole families at a time, in holiday attire that to Pat
made them look like pictures in some fairy-tales; old men and old women,
younger men with hands still grimy from their work, younger women with
tired faces and babies in their arms; some eager, some a little shy, all
smiling.

Pat, peeping out from behind the curtain, declared that there were
hundreds there and that they were talking in every language
known--except Latin!  But when some one at the piano began to play
"America," in some way or other the strange words melted into a common
tongue--the high treble of the children carrying the song along!

A hush fell on the audience when the curtains of the stage slowly parted
to show the first of the tableaux.  Briefly John Randolph, Keineth’s
father, told in Polish the story of the landing of the Pilgrims on "the
stern and rockbound coast" while on the stage the Pilgrims, with
painfully suppressed laughter, struggled to keep the _Mayflower_, made
out of old canvas and chairs, from falling to pieces!

The next picture showed the early colonists making treaties with the
Indians.  Sheila, grave and dignified in Puritan collar and hat, was
holding out strings of gay beads to an Indian chief, resplendent in
paint and feathers, who carried over his arm the hides that the
colonists needed.  Then in simple words Mr. Randolph explained how the
first purchases of land in the United States came about.

Peggy made an impressive George Washington at Valley Forge, while
Garrett Lee and some of his friends sat about a smouldering camp-fire.
Again she appeared with Betsey Ross, who was stitching on the first
American flag, which part Keineth played. But Washington’s dignified
manner was sadly spoiled when his wig suddenly slipped to one side, so
that poor Betsey had to bite her lips very hard to keep from giggling at
his rakish appearance!  Nevertheless the audience--especially the
children who recognized in the picture a favorite school story--clapped
loudly with genuine enthusiasm.

The last tableau, everyone declared, was the best of all!  Captain Ricky
was America, standing in white robes against a big American flag, her
arms outstretched to the eager pilgrims who approached her!  And these
were dressed in the national costumes of almost every country on the
globe; some had approached, apparently, with brave step, heads high and
shoulders straight, others had come wearily; some were old and some were
young; many had been carrying heavy burdens which they had cast aside.
And from the wrists of each hung the broken links of the shackles that
had bound them!

The tableau told its own story!  For a moment there was a hushed
silence, then a mighty applause shook the room.  And Captain Ricky, as
though she indeed embodied the gracious spirit of America, smiled back
from the stage at the men and women who, like the pilgrims in the
picture, had come to this land of freedom!

After this tableau the curtains at the back of the stage were drawn
back, displaying a beautiful Christmas tree, trimmed only by the many
lights half-concealed in its branches and by a huge, gleaming star at
its top.  Some of the scouts at one corner of the stage began a simple
Christmas carol--the guests took it up, humming where they could not
speak the words.  A group of young men broke into a Polish song; other
songs followed--songs that these people had brought with them across the
sea.

"They are more beautiful than ours!" cried Keineth to her father.

Then, under Captain Ricky’s direction, the trimming of the tree began.
This was a surprise even to the girls of the Troop, who sat with bright
eyes watching.  For each one in the room who had had a son, a brother, a
husband or a father in the service of the country, was given a silver
star to hang upon the branches of the tree.  One by one they went up--at
first shyly, then proudly; bent old men with uncertain step, young
wives, blushing, with children tugging at their skirts; old women,
scarcely understanding it all but eager to hang their symbol, until the
tree was a-twinkle with the gleaming stars!

From long tables in one of the classrooms adjoining steaming, fragrant
coffee in big cups and turkey and chicken sandwiches were served, then
ice cream and cake.  Everyone talked at once--the children ran round in
complete abandonment to the joy of the moment; some of the guests, too
excited to eat, had already begun the dancing!

And Mrs. Lee and Aunt Pen were busy distributing among them all the
small silk American flags which were the gifts of the evening!

"It’s the _best_ party _ever_," Pat stopped long enough in a whirling
dance to whisper to Aunt Pen.

"Where’s Renée?" Aunt Pen answered.

After a moment’s search she found her alone behind the big tree.  She
was fastening upon one of the branches her silver star!  Tears dampened
her cheeks.

"Oh--_my dear_!" cried Aunt Pen.  Over her swept the realization of what
Renée had given that "peace might come upon this world!"  She caught the
small hand and held it.

"Not _there_," she whispered, "but _here_!" and taking the star she hung
it close to the big Star at the top.

"He gave his Son for us, too," she added softly.



                             *CHAPTER XIV*

                               *HILL-TOP*


"Picnics," explained Peggy, with a conviction born of experience, "are
just as much fun in the winter as they are in the summer, ’specially
when they are at Hill-top!"

For the four days following Christmas snow had fallen steadily.  Each
moment of the holiday time had been filled with out-of-door fun: now
Mrs. Lee had suggested that--as a sort of climax--the Eagle Patrol have
a picnic at Hill-top!

Pat had never heard of a picnic in the middle of the winter!

But Peggy’s enthusiasm was contagious!  Hilltop--Pat had never been
there--was a very old farmhouse ten miles from the city, back in the
hills near Camp Wichita, where Captain Ricky took her girls in the
summer-time.  It belonged to an old man and his wife who had been
friends of Mrs. Lee’s father. During the winter months they preferred to
move into a more sheltered cottage nearer the barns.  The house--a short
walk from the lake on which the young people skated in the winter and
canoed in the summer--had great square rooms and many of them, warmed by
fire-places like caverns that consumed whole logs at a time.  Often Mrs.
Lee, who found real recreation in such little excursions with her young
people--had taken the girls and boys there for week-end picnics!

"Mother says we may stay three whole days this time!  We can skate and
coast and have all kinds of fun!  Garrett has a new bob that he made and
he says he’ll bet anything it can beat all the others."

"Do the boys go, too?" broke in Pat.

"Oh, yes, mother likes to have them go!  They help a lot, you see, and
she says it wouldn’t be nearly as much fun if they weren’t along.  Jim
Archer and Bob Slocum and Ted Scott and maybe Wynne Meade will go--and
Garrett!  They’re _sort_ of fun!" for Peggy read disappointment in Pat’s
face.

"_I_ think boys are a nuisance!"

Sheila came promptly to the defense. "Perhaps--sometimes!  But brothers
are nice!"

Pat’s experience had been limited to the bashful young brothers,
miserable with too much scrubbing and stiff collars, who had
occasionally visited the other girls at school.

Peggy thought it a decided waste of time to be bothering over such a
point when there was so much to plan and do!  So, with a conviction
intended to end the discussion, she said: "Well, they carry the logs and
the water and go out and open the house and I guess we’ll find them
mighty useful!"

And, indeed, Pat _was_ to find one of the boys more than useful before
the picnic was over!

A few hours’ well-organized activity put everything in readiness for the
house-party.  Garrett Lee appointed himself chief of the commissary and
flew tirelessly between his home and the grocery store until he had
assembled enough cans of soup, bacon, weiners and other eatables
peculiar to scouts’ appetites to feed a regiment!  Sheila and Mrs. Lee,
after a brief consultation, added to the equipment many little
necessities that Garrett in his masculine ignorance had overlooked.  Two
of the other girls collected the necessary kitchen utensils and a simple
first-aid kit.  Loaded down with all these and with extra blankets and
the bobs, the boys and Mrs. Lee went on out to Hill-top a day in advance
to open the house and prepare it for the others.

Pat, inspired by the activities of the others and not having been
pressed into troop service, busied herself by packing and repacking
almost every garment that she and Renée possessed!

"Patsy, dear, you _won’t_ need all those things," Aunt Pen had laughed,
pointing to the bulging suitcase.

Pat admitted this.  "Well, it’s fun packing ’em and I just had to do
something," she confessed.

The next day eight merry girls boarded the funny little train that
puffed off slowly toward the hills. To Renée the picnic was the most
exciting of adventures!  She had seen little snow--never in her life
anything like the great piles, snowy white, through which the train was
snorting its way!  She had never had on a pair of skates in her life,
nor had she ever coasted down a hill!  And as Peggy told of Garrett’s
new bob, "Madcap," and its lightning speed, she shivered with an ecstasy
of fear and wondered--if they made her ride on it--what it would feel
like to fly over the snow and whether she might not just die outright of
terror!

The boys, in rollicking spirits and muffled to the tips of their noses,
met them at the station; together they trudged back through the snow to
the farmhouse.  Logs were crackling merrily in the big fireplaces and a
table had been spread ready for an early supper.  The girls fell to
unpacking the equipment and spreading their blankets over the funny old
beds and the cots which had been brought up from the nearby camp.
Sheila, who had been appointed officer-in-charge, promptly, in
accordance with the custom of scout outings, posted in a conspicuous
place, the "standing rules."

"Oh, they’re the kind of rules any good scout’ll keep," Peggy exclaimed
to Pat, who was regarding the slip of paper in amazement with a look on
her face that said plainly "this is the funniest picnic I ever knew!"
"Come on and find the others!"

For supper they ate many baked potatoes and weiners and hot biscuits,
which Mrs. Lee had mixed and baked by magic--"just to have a nice
beginning!"  At the table the boys announced the schedule for the
skating and coasting races which they had planned for the next day and
fell to arguing with friendly violence over the speed of their different
bobs!  Garrett then insisted that the four who had grabbed the last of
the biscuits should make up the Kitchen Police, whose duty it would be
to clear away the supper dishes!  And to the accompaniment of a mighty
rattle of china plates and cups the others gathered around the blazing
fire and sang.

Pat and Renée slept together in a huge four-posted bed.  Gradually the
big house had grown very quiet.  "Isn’t it fun?" Pat giggled into
Renée’s ear.  "I’ve never been in the country in the winter-time before!
And doesn’t it feel _queer_ sleeping without sheets?"  Then she sighed.
"I wish I could skate well!"  She was thinking of the races planned for
the morrow.  Renée was apprehensive, too.  "Do you suppose they’ll make
me go down on one of those dreadful bobs?" and she shuddered at the very
thought!

Poor Pat, her pride--cropping up now and then--was her besetting sin!
And the next morning, when she should have been gloriously happy, it
mastered her!  She _hated_ the races, because she was always lagging
along in the rear!  She declared to herself that the boys were silly,
tiresome stupids, because they made _such_ a fuss when Peggy beat them
all in a race down the lake and back!  Finally, disgusted, she took off
the hateful skates and joined Renée near the bank.

"I think they’re _stupid_," she grumbled, digging her heel into the ice
and not explaining whether she meant the boys, or the skates or the
races!

The coasting in the afternoon comforted her a little!  Jim Archer let
her steer his "Gypsy!"  They beat Garrett’s "Madcap" and Pat secretly
rejoiced at Garrett’s chagrin!

Renée, from the top of the long hill, had watched the flight of the bobs
with trembling fascination.

"Come along on Madcap," Garrett had called out.  The three girls on it
waved entreatingly to her. She had not the courage to refuse!  White
with terror she slipped in between Garrett and Peggy. The others shouted
wildly as the bob began to move slowly down the hill but poor Renée’s
breath caught in her throat.  As it went faster and faster she hid her
face against Garrett’s wooly back.

"Hang on!" cried Peggy behind her.  Renée was certain they were flying!
But just as she felt she _must_ die with terror a wild "hurrah" went up,
she opened her eyes--they were sliding over the ice at the bottom of the
hill and the Madcap had won!

And to Renée’s utter amazement she wanted to go down again--_right
away_!

Afterwards Garrett let her steer the bob, and although they ended in a
snowdrift and were almost buried in the soft snow, it did not in any way
dampen her enthusiasm over the new sport she had learned!

"Oh, it was _wonderful_!" she exclaimed to Pat as they walked with the
others toward Hill-top. "I thought I’d be so frightened and I wasn’t!"

"Jim Archer’s bob is much the best," Pat answered in such a disagreeable
voice that Renée looked at her in hurt astonishment!  How _could_ there
be enough difference in two bobs to make Pat speak to her in that tone!

However, hot oyster soup and pancakes scattered for a time the little
cloud that threatened and through the meal Pat’s voice was as merry as
the merriest. After supper, leaving the Kitchen Police to their sad lot,
the others again donned caps, sweaters and mittens and fell to building
in front of the old farmhouse door two great snow forts, between which,
in the morning, a mighty battle would be waged!

And Jim Archer, one of the self-appointed generals, asked Pat--before he
asked any of the others--to be on his side!

This was balm to Pat’s hurt vanity.  Perhaps she couldn’t skate as well
as the others, but she guessed Jim Archer knew she could throw a
snowball as straight and as hard as any boy!  Anyway, Garrett Lee was
too conceited!  So that night, as she slept cuddled down in the big
four-posted bed, she dreamed that she stood alone on the frosty
breastwork of the fort she had helped build and by an onslaught of
snowballs, thrown with unerring aim, drove Garrett Lee and his army to
complete and ignominious surrender!

Poor Pat--the next day was to bring to her pride a sad fall!



                              *CHAPTER XV*

                       *PAT’S PRIDE AND ITS FALL*


The next morning a bright sun peeped up over the hills touching field
and lake, trees and house-tops with a frost of diamonds.  At an early
hour hungry boys and girls were demanding their breakfast "quick" and
were hurling orders over the banister at the sleepy Kitchen Police,
toiling below.

The snow-ball fight ended in a complete rout of Garrett’s army, which
put Pat in high spirits, and, although it had not been quite like her
dream of the night before, Jim Archer _had_ said to her, to her secret
joy:

"Say, you throw as good as a boy!"

The remainder of the morning was spent playing hockey and coasting; the
boys allowing the girls to race the bobs down the hill.  Renée, quite by
herself, steered the beautiful Madcap twice to victory! Perhaps never in
her life had she felt so keenly alive or so happy!  She stood looking
over the little lake and the surrounding hills and drawing in long
breaths of the frosty air.  Its keenness made her cheeks and fingertips
tingle, put a ringing note in the youthful voices around her and an
added brightness into happy eyes!

"Let’s all just skate this afternoon--no races or anything like that!"
declared Peggy at luncheon and the suggestion met with instant approval.

"Oh, _don’t_ you wish we were just coming?  Did you ever know days to go
by so fast?" lamented one of the others.

"This hasn’t gone by yet!  To-night we’re going to toast marshmallows!"
put in Bob Slocum.

"And have a good sing!  We always end a picnic that way!" explained
Peggy to Pat.

"And breakfast bright and early to-morrow, so that we will be all packed
in time for the----"

"Lightning mail train!" Garrett added to his mother’s injunction.

Mrs. Lee was never happier than when she was with her "boys and girls!"
She loved each and every one of them as though they had all been hers
from babyhood.  She watched them now as they trooped away toward the
lake, skates jingling over their arms.  Something within her quivered
with pardonable pride as her eyes rested for a moment on Garrett’s manly
young figure striding on ahead of the others.  And when Peggy’s voice,
always boyishly loud, reached her ears as she shouted back to one of the
other girls, her mother shook her head and laughed: "Oh, Peggy child,
what a tomboy!"

For Pat the skating was much more fun, now, when there were no races!
More accustomed to her skates she managed to get over the ice in better
and easier fashion than she had on the day before. She was pleasantly
conscious, too, that she made a rather pretty picture in her scarlet
sweater and tam-o’-shanter--several of the girls had declared that they
were going to immediately make red tams.

"Let’s have a turn, Pat!" and Garrett Lee extended two warmly mittened
hands in genial invitation.  So Pat linked her arms with his and
together they flew over the glittering stretch.  With her balance
supported by Garrett’s strong grasp she skated easily; as they sped
along down the length of the lake the wind whipped her breath and sent
the blood bounding through her veins!

At the end of the lake they stopped "to take in air," as Garrett put it.

"Let’s skate down there," cried Pat, pointing to the Inlet just beyond.
There a narrow gorge, cutting deeply through the hillsides, let into the
lake. Garrett knew that, because of its steep banks, its changing depths
of water and strong eddies, the ice there was very unsafe.

"Oh, no, it’s dangerous there!  We never go into the Inlet, even in the
summer!  That’s a rule!"

Poor Pat--she fancied Garrett was treating her like a little child!  So
she answered with a toss of her head:

"I haven’t bothered to read the rules!  I’m not afraid--if you are!" and
she turned toward the Inlet.

"Pat--don’t!  It _isn’t_ safe--honest!"

The more earnest and concerned Garrett grew the more headstrong Pat!
She started toward the Inlet, calling over her shoulder: "Oh, you’re
just a ’fraidy-cat’!"

Garrett watched her for a moment.  There was no doubting her intention!
He started after her and at the mouth of the Inlet overtook her.

"Pat," he begged, "mother’ll be angry!  I tell you it’s one of the
rules!"

But Pat simply shrugged her shoulders.

"_Dare_ you to come with me, little boy!" she laughed teasingly.  The
Inlet, its banks rising steeply on each side, filled with dancing
shadows made by the sun through the bare branches meeting overhead,
looked very inviting!  Thrilled with a sense of adventure, Pat skated
with short strokes into the narrow opening.

Garrett had no choice but to follow her!  Deeply alarmed, he again
begged her to turn back!  Now she pretended not to hear him!

But in a few moments she suddenly screamed and wildly waved her arms!
At a bend in the narrow gorge the ice had cracked under her weight!

"Garrett!" she cried, turning.

"_Go on!  Keep moving!_" he shouted.  But Pat, terror-stricken, stood
still, stretching out her arms imploringly.  Garrett reached her just as
the ice with a sharp crackle broke into pieces, dropping them both into
the water.

Its iciness for a moment stunned Pat.  Then she slowly realized that
Garrett was supporting her with one arm and begging her to cling to the
thin edge of the ice, to which he was holding with his other hand.  His
steady voice gave her courage! She tried to say something but her teeth
only chattered together.

"We’ll get out all right!" Garrett said, hopefully.  "Hold on as lightly
as you can!"

"Oh, don’t let go of me--don’t let go of me!" implored Pat, wanting to
cry.

"I won’t!  Keep up your nerve!"  And Garrett strengthened his hold under
Pat’s arm.  He looked about him.  From a tree growing out of the bank
stretched a bare limb just a little way out of reach.

"We’ll work along slowly until you can reach that branch!  Take it easy,
Pat!"

He began moving his grasp on the edge of the ice, slowly, cautiously,
for sometimes it cracked, sending terror to Pat’s soul!  She recalled
hearing someone tell how very deep the water was in the Inlet! And it
was _so_ black and cold!

"Come on!  We’ll make it!" he called out cheerily.  They drew nearer and
nearer the branch; soon Pat could reach it.

"Now let go of the ice and grab it!  I’ll hold you!"

"Oh no, no!" implored Pat, clinging tighter.

"You’ve _got_ to, Pat!  It’s our only chance!"  Summoning all the
strength he had in his fine young body he lifted her as he spoke!  The
effort made great veins swell on his forehead.  With a gasp of terror
she caught and clung with both arms to the branch.

"Get your legs around it, too," directed Garrett. "Now work yourself
along!  _Hurry_, Pat!"

Stung into effort Pat with feverish haste did as he told her.  Securing
her hold on the branch by locking her strong legs about it she gradually
swung around until she was astride it.  Then it was but a moment’s work
to edge along to the bank.  Grasping the strong roots of the undergrowth
she pulled herself to the top.  She wanted dreadfully then to throw
herself down upon the ground and cry, but a sharp noise below made her
turn suddenly.

Garrett had attempted to lift himself upon the branch.  Strained by
Pat’s weight, under his it snapped off, dropping him back into the
water.

"Garrett!" screamed Pat.  In agony she watched for his head to reappear
at the surface of the water. As he came up he again caught the edge of
the ice, but his face was gray and drawn as though by sharp pain and his
breath came and went in short gasps. She called him vainly over and over
but he could not seem to muster enough strength to answer!  She fancied,
in her terror, that his fingers were slipping in their hold of the ice.

It was _her_ turn to direct!

"Garrett, move down!  See, the tree’s across the ice!  Maybe it’ll hold!
Oh, Garrett, _try_!"

With a slow, cramped movement he worked along the edge of the rapidly
enlarging hole until he could grasp the broken branch which stretched
now across the dark water, one end firmly held in a crack of the ice
where it had buckled near the bank. Strengthened by desperation, Garrett
managed to crawl along it until he reached the bank.  As, numbed by
exposure, he struggled to lift himself up the steep side of the gorge,
clinging for support, as Pat had done, to roots and branches, repeatedly
slipping back, it seemed to Pat as though he could not make it!  At last
her own frantic hands dragged him over the top to safety, only to have
him drop in an unconscious heap at her feet!

All Pat knew was that whatever she had to do she must do quickly!
Loosening the straps of her skates she threw them from her!  Then she
attempted to lift him.  He was too heavy--she could not stagger a step
with his weight in her arms.  So as gently as she could she dragged him
over the soft snow to a higher point of open ground from which she could
see the lake and the skaters and the farmhouse!

"Girls!  Girls!  Jim!" she called frantically. They could not hear--only
the echo of her own voice answered.

"What _will_ I do?" she cried.  She tore off her bright tam-o’-shanter
and waved it high in the air! Suddenly she saw one of the girls detach
herself! from a group of skaters and wave back!

An inspiration seized Pat!  The semaphore code she had learned!  Oh,
could she remember it quickly enough?  And poor Garrett himself had
taught her! Snatching off her sweater she waved that in one hand and her
tam in the other and slowly signaled:

"Accident--bring bobs--blankets--quick!"

It seemed to Pat as though they would _never_ answer!  She waved her
message again--more slowly!  Then one of the boys waved back: "Coming."

_Now_ Pat began to cry--tears that left cold streaks on her own cheeks
and splashed in a warm shower on Garrett’s face as she knelt over him.
He slowly opened his eyes and whispered, "All right, Pat?"  Then, as
though very tired, he closed them again and lapsed back into
unconsciousness.

There was no more merriment at Hill-top!  The boys brought Garrett,
wrapped in blankets, on one of the bobs to the door of the farmhouse
where his mother, warned of the accident, awaited him.  No one would let
poor Pat tell her story--there was too much to be done!  While Mrs. Lee
and Sheila cared for Garrett, the girls gave Pat a hot bath and a
vigorous rub and put her to bed.  And Jim Archer flew to the nearest
telephone to summon a doctor and nurse from the city.

Garrett was very, very ill!  Weakened by the exposure and strain he
quickly developed pneumonia. The doctor would not let him be moved, he
must remain at Hill-top!  Mrs. Lee, brave with all her anxiety, begged
the boys and girls to go back to the city quietly, not to worry, but to
hope for Garrett’s quick recovery!  Sheila and Jim Archer she kept with
her to help her.  At the earliest possible moment came Mr. Lee with a
trained nurse.

Pat, none the worse for her icy bath of the day before, lingered behind
the others and miserably begged for a parting word with Mrs. Lee.

"It was _all_ my fault," she whispered, bursting into tears.  "I called
him a fraidy-cat and went on, just so’s he’d follow----"

Though Mrs. Lee took the girl in her arms, her face was very grave.  But
she guessed the suffering in Pat’s heart, so she spoke kindly.

"Child, I am glad he _didn’t_ leave you!  You must help us fight for him
now and--well, he just _must_ get well!"  For a moment she could not
keep her own tears back; then she resolutely wiped them away as much as
to say, "_this_ isn’t fighting!"

Anxious days followed.  Every morning and every evening Jim Archer
telephoned to the Everett home from Hill-top a report of Garrett’s
condition. Sometimes there would be a word of encouragement--then he
would be a degree worse!  Pat, pale as a ghost, scarcely speaking to
anyone, trembling at every sound, in spite of all Aunt Pen’s and Renée’s
efforts, refused to be cheered or comforted!  She spent almost all her
time in the Eyrie with the door locked.

"I’m downright worried!" Aunt Pen said to Pat’s father, who fortunately
had returned in the midst of the trouble and anxiety.  "_Whatever_ does
the child do in that room all by herself?"

No one would ever know!  In the most shadowy corner of the Eyrie Pat had
crept and there she had found strength to bear the suspense!  Kneeling
before one of the old broken chairs, she repeated over and over a little
prayer she had made:

"Please God, make Garrett well!  He was so brave and I was so wicked!
I’m the one you ought to punish!  Please make him well and I’ll never,
never be wicked again!"

Sometimes she would vary the wording of her little prayer and once,
thinking that perhaps her clumsy sentences might not reach the Father’s
ear, she carried a prayer-book to the Eyrie and slowly, with great
emphasis, repeated the prayer for the sick that she had often heard in
church.

Going downstairs from one of these vigils in the Eyrie she heard
Sheila’s voice.  Her heart stopped beating with an instant’s fear!  She
rushed into the room where Sheila was talking to Aunt Pen and her Daddy.

"He is----"  She could not make herself ask the question.

Sheila turned.  Her tired face was bright with joy.  "Garrett’s better!
He will get well!  We didn’t telephone because I wanted to tell you!  I
had to come home, for mother needed me."

"Really, truly?"  Pat could scarcely believe that the black shadow was
lifted from her.  Sheila nodded laughingly.

"Really, truly!  The doctor says he has a wonderful constitution!  And
we’re all so glad, because we love Mrs. Lee so much!"

With quivering lips Pat turned and threw herself into her father’s arms.
There was so much she wanted to tell--of her silly vanity, her wicked
recklessness, her leading another into danger, but the words would not
come!

"I’ll always remember--how he looked--up on the bank!" she shuddered,
her face hidden against her father’s coat.  "I asked God to make him
well and He did, and I guess I’ll remember never--to be--wicked again!"
And as though he understood how truly repentant poor Pat was, her dear
Daddy patted her shoulder and held her very close.



                             *CHAPTER XVI*

                              *GOOD TURNS*


The winter days passed quickly in the Everett household.  Each moment
was filled with work or play.  And so delightfully intermingled was the
play with the work that the girls found themselves tackling their Latin
verbs with the same zest they threw into their outdoor recreation.

In spite of the holidays and the suspense of Garrett Lee’s illness the
routine of Aunt Pen’s "school" had been renewed with little difficulty.
Pat, who always before had been very indifferent to the report system
followed at Miss Prindle’s, suddenly developed deep concern and pride in
the reports that Aunt Pen carefully prepared at the end of each week to
show Daddy and then tucked away in the spinnet desk to wait mother’s
return.  She was improving in her Latin and her French; she could write
a letter now with only one or two misspelled words; she tackled the
difficult problems in Algebra in a fine fighting spirit, and with great
pride--after many mortifying failures--was able to set before her father
three beautifully browned loaves of bread!

Daddy had declared that such triumph must have its reward and had
carried them all--pupils and teacher--off to the theatre to see
"Penrod."

The Eaglets still gathered in the Eyrie.  How much nearer each was
coming to her ambitions no one of them could tell--that they were still
steadfastly true to their pledge to help one another was certain;
unconsciously perhaps, they did it by the strength of their friendship.

"LaDue and Everett" had developed a thriving business.  Pat, quite all
by herself, had gone to Brown Brothers, the leading bookstore in the
city, and had sought and obtained an order for hand-painted valentines.
This had given her courage to approach Miss Higgins and a nearby
Gift-shop. Very proudly she presented the three orders to the senior
member of the firm.

"There, I guess _that’ll_ make us work!"

At first Renée was aghast at the amount of work, but with Pat to help
her and by steady application--although Aunt Pen was firm in her command
that the work must not interfere with the outdoor play--she was able to
complete the orders by the first of February.  And so beautifully had
the little valentines been made that Brown Brothers immediately ordered
ten dozen dinner cards!

The rush of business set Pat at the company’s books which had gotten
into such a muddle that they had to be taken to Daddy to be straightened
out. Pat’s figures were like a Chinese puzzle running up and down the
pages of her imposing ledger.  Poor Mr. Everett had a knotty problem
putting them into proper shape and Pat had a lesson in accounting!

Altogether, after all expenses had been paid, there was left to the
account of the youthful firm a sum of eighteen dollars and fifty cents.
Two-thirds of this, Pat declared, must be Renée’s, because the
responsibility of the work fell upon her--"though I’ll just say it isn’t
any fun getting up your nerve to go in and ask for an order!  They
always treat you like a kid!" she explained, indignantly.

There were many demands upon their earnings. The scout uniforms had been
bought; the girls each pledged six dollars to the Victory Army; there
was the Red Cross, too, and the French Babies and the Vacation Fund for
the tots at home--innumerable other good causes, worthy of their help.

"It makes me feel so grown-up to sign my name to all these pledges and
things and pay for it out of my _very_ own money!"  And Pat assumed a
comically mature air.

Pat was a real "Yellowbird" now and Renée was a "scrub."  The girls had
joined a swimming class, too; Pat, having spent many summers at the
seashore was like a fish in the water, and helped Renée, who had to
overcome a physical terror at the very thought of slipping over into the
tank!

Early in February Garrett Lee was brought back to the city from
Hill-top.  Pat, with Aunt Pen, had immediately gone to see him and his
mother. Mrs. Lee’s kind welcome drove away the fear that had teen in
Pat’s heart; impulsively she threw her arms about Mrs. Lee’s neck and,
because Mrs. Lee could always see straight into the hearts of her boys
and girls, she knew what prompted the caress and gave an affectionate
hug in return.

"Garrett doesn’t want one single word ever said about it all," she
whispered in Pat’s ear.

After that Pat went almost daily to the Lee house--sometimes with a
book, or a basket of fruit or some home-made candy.  At first she was a
little shy in her friendly devotion, but after a while, so truly
grateful did Garrett seem for her company and the things she brought to
relieve the monotony of his convalescence, she simply rang the bell and
ran straight up to his room.  When these frequent visits interfered with
lessons Aunt Pen said not a word, for she knew Pat was trying to make up
in some small way for the harm she had wrought!

As Garrett grew stronger the young people deserted the Eyrie for the
pleasant Lee living-room. "It does him more good than a trip to
Florida!" his mother declared, looking with satisfaction at her patient.
And the boys and girls were learning thoughtfulness and considerateness.
When Peggy, of her own will, suddenly lowered her voice, and Jim Archer,
without a word, shoved a pillow back of Garrett’s head as he sat on the
old divan, Mrs. Lee had thought--hard as it had been--Garrett’s illness
had brought some good.

Pat had never known before the wholesomeness of jolly comradeship with a
large circle of boys and girls; she found it now in these pleasant
gatherings at the Lees.  Bob Slocum and Peggy could think of so many
games; Jim Archer--all in one afternoon--had composed, staged, and
produced a melodrama, "Heinie the Hun," although, because Pat could not
control her giggling, the irate author-manager had made her play the
drum to mark the dramatic climaxes.  There were endless and lively
discussions over everything under sun and earth; jolly songs with Mrs.
Lee at the piano, and always some careful eye to notice when Garrett
showed signs of fatigue.

And to Pat the best of all was when Garrett, one afternoon, had confided
to her that he was planning an airship with a new kind of stabilizer;
showed her his drawings and explained how, for days since his illness,
he had been studying a housefly which he had caught and imprisoned in
the old fish bowl.  Pat wanted very much to tell the others what great
things Garrett was going to do but he had made her promise on her
scout’s honor to keep his secret, so she carried it faithfully locked
away in her heart, proud that Garrett should have honored her with his
confidence after the unhappy accident at Hill-top!

"We’re _pals_--just’s if I was a boy," she said to herself.

As the weeks slipped by Renée, to Aunt Pen’s delight, was rapidly
developing a fascinating and forceful personality.  With so many true
friends and playmates the shyness had gradually disappeared from her
manner; contrasted with Pat’s dynamic spirits Renée would always seem
quiet, but her will was strong and often, in her gentle way, she was a
leader among the young people.  With a character that had been moulded
and guarded by a simple life, she had in her a rare beauty and purity of
thought that seemed to shine in her pretty face and clear eyes.
Happiness and healthy living were dispelling the shadows from her young
life; she could talk of Susette and the old cottage without a quivering
of the lips; she often drew for Pat, as though she enjoyed it, a vivid
description of how splendid Emile had looked in his uniform as he had
marched away with the others--a rose she had given him stuck jauntily in
his belt!

The cessation of the fighting and the approaching peace had brought many
problems.  Wounded men were coming home, employment was uncertain,
living expenses soaring higher and higher; actual want stalked in many
homes.  And to add to it all a terrible epidemic had raged through the
city, leaving in its wake untold misery and suffering.

There was serious work for everyone to do. There were countless ways in
which the Girl Scouts helped.  "Good turns," they called it and they
held themselves always ready for the command of any organization, never
counting one moment of sacrifice, tireless and faithful.

"What do you think now?"  Pat burst in upon her family from a special
meeting of the troop. "The Scouts are going to adopt families!"

This astonishing announcement caused Mr. Everett to throw up his hands
in mock dismay.

"Good gracious, Pat, black or white?"

"I’m really very serious, Daddy, and Mrs. Townsend from the Red Cross
says we can make it a beautiful work!  One family is assigned to each of
us.  We give as much time as we can spare and do everything we
can--amuse the children, take ’em out, make things easier for the
mothers so’s they can rest and get strong again!  You see these are
families that have been sick.  Mine is Mrs. K-a-s-u-b-o-w-s-k-i," she
read from a card.

Pat had, in her way, expressed the scout orders. To each of the older
scouts had been assigned a family that had suffered from the epidemic.
Each girl was to work under the direction of the District Nurse and in
coöperation with the Red Cross.  She was to give brief reports of each
visit.  And knowing that these girls could, in the homes to which they
were sent, win trust where older women often met suspicion and
unfriendliness, the Red Cross hoped to build up through their services,
a sympathy and understanding that would benefit everyone and draw more
closely the bonds of common interest.

In her youthful mind Pat did not sense any such vision; she only knew
that her scout orders directed her to go and do all she could for a
family whose name she simply could not pronounce; that her card stated
that there was a Rosa, aged seven, a Josef, age six, a Stephanie, aged
three and a baby Peter; that everyone of them had been desperately ill,
including the father and mother; that only within the last two or three
weeks had the father been able to go back to work and that upon the poor
mother, still weak from the ravages of fever, had fallen the burden of
making the meagre savings tide them over.

Pat called them all her "Kewpies."  Her first two visits left her
discouraged, the children were dirty and quarrelsome, the mother
unfriendly.  But, gradually, armed with picture books and toys, Pat won
the liking of the little ones; at the next visit she gave them cakes of
soap which Renée had carved to resemble dogs and pigs and promised them
more if they would use these "all up"; warm sunshine permitted a long
walk and outdoor play and Mrs. Kewpie, gratefully realizing that for an
hour she was absolutely without chick or child, caught a much-needed
moment of rest!

Renée had not been given a family by the Red Cross.  At first she was
disappointed, then, wholeheartedly, she fell to helping Pat.  Aunt Pen
and Daddy, too, were deeply interested.  Almost every evening the
"Kewpies" were discussed at the "pow-wow."  Aunt Pen was aghast that
Mrs. Kewpie could speak only a word or two of English!

"How can she be expected to bring up good American citizens--let alone
be one herself?" she asked heatedly.

Through Rosa Pat learned that poor Mrs. Kewpie would really like to talk
and read English.  Her husband had learned it at his shop, the older
children were learning it at school; less and less they were talking the
only language she had ever known!  She felt, with the quick instinct of
her mother’s heart, that they were growing away from her into a world of
interests where she could not follow.  No one had ever offered to teach
her this new, strange tongue!  She was afraid of the teachers in Rosa’s
school!  She misunderstood and resented the approaches of the few
English-speaking women she had met; proud herself, she had thought them
patronizing and officious!  But Pat was just a girl!

So Pat, quite unconsciously, began making a good American citizen out of
Mrs. Kewpie.  She found that the picture books she brought the children
interested the mother, too--not because of the pictures alone but
because the mother could make out, through them, the meaning of the
words beneath them.  When Pat told of this at home Aunt Pen thought of
the beautiful plan of making for Mrs. Kewpie a primer out of pictures.
Every evening, for a week, the entire Everett family worked
industriously with scissors and paste, compiling what Aunt Pen
laughingly called: "Everett’s First Lessons in the American Language."

"She’ll know all about this country of ours when she’s graduated from
_this_ book," declared Mr. Everett, proudly smoothing down a colored
picture of the Capitol at Washington.

"And for everything I teach her in English I’m going to ask her to teach
me a word in Polish!  It’s such a funny looking language and then it
_sounds_ like music!  They have lots of awfully exciting stories in
their history--Keineth Randolph told us some that her father had told
her!  And in the next book, let’s have pictures of flowers and mountains
and water and things like the country, ’cause I guess poor Mrs. Kewpie
thinks there _aren’t_ such things!"

Prompted by this thought on her next visit Pat carried to the Kewpie
kitchen a pink geranium plant. Then she conceived the idea of making the
untidy kitchen look as much like Mrs. Quinn’s as possible! So interested
did she grow in her work that for two afternoons she completely forgot
basketball practice, thereby bringing down upon her head the fury of the
Captain of the Yellowbirds!

And when Baby Peter fell sick with some digestive disorder, Pat, with
the help of the District Nurse, was able to persuade Mrs. Kewpie that a
daily bath would reduce the slight fever and to substitute the sweet,
fresh milk that the nurse had brought in the place of the coffee she was
accustomed to feed the baby.

Now Renée, to her delight, was given an opportunity to share the "good
turns."

One afternoon Mrs. Lee, always an angel of kindness and of wide charity,
had sought Renée’s help.  She explained to Renée, as they walked along
together, that this was a "case" of her own, and that she was taking her
to this house because she thought she might bring a little sunshine into
a very lonely life there.

"Poor Mrs. Forrester is very cross and very queer, my dear!  No one ever
goes to see her now and she lives all alone with a servant almost as old
as she is!  I thought that if you would go there once in awhile and read
to her you might help her pass the long hours."

Mrs. Lee did not add that she hoped the child’s quiet, sympathetic
manner might waken some tenderness in a heart as cold and dead as stone.

Mrs. Forrester lived in a very old house in an out-of-the-way street.
Standing almost concealed by trees and overgrown shrubbery, it looked
like some forgotten corner of the big, growing city.  The door creaked
on its hinges as the untidy old servant grudgingly opened it just far
enough to permit them to enter.  The rooms were dark, dusty and
absolutely bare of any furnishings except a few worn chairs.  Not a
picture, not a book, not one spot of color was to be seen!  There were
no curtains at the windows and the cracked dingy-brown shades had been
pulled close to the sill as though to forbid one tiny gleam of sunlight
filtering through.

Renée thought it the most horrid house she had ever seen and wondered
how Mrs. Lee could step into it so cheerfully!

But always tender with old people, she immediately felt sorry for the
queer old woman propped up against a pile of pillows in a great, ugly
bed.

"It isn’t that she’s so very old--or sick!  I believe she just _won’t_
stir!  Mrs. Lee says she has had a very unhappy life," Renée explained
at home. Now Mrs. Forrester and the ugly old stone house shared the
interest of the pow-wow.

Another time Renée told, with much amusement, how she had insisted upon
raising the shade at the bedroom window so that Mrs. Forrester might see
how spring-like the sun made everything look and how the old lady had
promptly hopped out of bed and had pulled it down with such a snap that
it fell to the floor!

"But she just _had_ to go back to bed and leave it there and I went on
reading’s though nothing had happened and I know she really loved the
sunshine because she lay there as quiet as could be, staring at the
window!"

But one afternoon Renée returned, deeply excited, with a secret that she
kept for Pat’s ears and the seclusion of the Eyrie.

"I was reading something awfully stupid for I thought she might go to
sleep and I know she wasn’t listening at all, and finally I heard her
say, "If I could find my baby--I’d be ready to die!"  Now I wasn’t
reading a _thing_ about dying or a baby and she frightened me
dreadfully!  I suppose she had forgotten I was there.  Then when I went
on reading she said it again--real plain!  Now, Pat, isn’t that
exciting?  Where _do_ you suppose her baby is and _how’d_ she ever lose
it?"

None of Pat’s experiences could equal this for mystery!  Pat stared at
Renée and Renée stared back; in the quiet of the Eyrie they thought up
all sorts of explanations and stories--tragic, all of them!  Pat fairly
shivered with delight.

"Aren’t you _lucky_, Renée--to have such a spliffy mystery!  It’s just
_spooky_!  I’m going to write a story about that!  You get her to talk
more--read a lot about babies and listen hard!  And talk to that old
Crosspatch, maybe she’ll tell you something. That’s the way they always
do in detective stories. Something dreadful _must_ have happened to make
her live like that, in that ugly old house!  Oh, rapture, I _know_ I’m
going to be famous!  This goes way ahead of Aunt Pen’s story!  Of
course," she added, hastily, "I don’t know _all_ Aunt Pen’s secret
sorrow yet and she doesn’t stay in bed and act queer! I think I’ll call
this "The Lost Baby!"

So that evening, armed with several newly-sharpened pencils and much of
Daddy’s writing paper, Pat began her first chapter.  However, its
progress met with a serious setback when Aunt Pen laid in her hands a
letter from Angeline Snow.  Pat opened it eagerly; she had not heard
from any of her old schoolmates at Miss Prindle’s for a long time.

She read it quickly.  Miss Angeline, in a few breezy sentences, informed
Pat that she would come immediately to make her a visit!

"... You were _such_ a dear to ask me (Pat read that twice,
thoughtfully)--and the doctor says I need a teeny rest.  Mama is in
California and of course I cannot go to her!  But we’ll have a perfectly
sweet time together and I’m just dying to see you again.  We’ve missed
you dreadfully here! I have _bushels_ to tell you--just you.  (About the
girls and things--you’ll _die_ when you hear it all!)  I’ll come on the
Empire on Thursday, so please meet me.  I have a stunning new hat, henna
and turquoise blue and a feather you’ll want to _eat_.  Bye-bye, your
Angeline."

So intent was Pat upon examining the gold crest on the paper that she
did not see the curious look that flashed over Aunt Pen’s face.

"Good gracious," she exclaimed, suddenly, "that’s to-morrow!"

"Yes," Aunt Pen answered quietly, "and we must do everything we can to
make her visit pleasant!"



                             *CHAPTER XVII*

                               *ANGELINE*


At a first glimpse, from the crown of her glossy black head to the
patent tip of her smart little shoe, Angeline Snow, arriving the day
following, was like a stranger to Pat!

Pat had left her at the close of that last term of school, after parting
embraces and repeated pledges of undying friendship, a girl, long of leg
and short of skirt like herself; now she beheld a fascinating young
creature whose slim body was robed in a dress of the most stylish fabric
and cut, its clinging skirts reaching quite to the tops of the little
patent leather shoes, and the hair that Pat had always loved to braid
and unbraid was pinned in curious puffs and waves close to the small
head.

However, in the transformation, Angeline had lost none of the
fascination that had made of Pat, in the old days at Miss Prindle’s, a
sort of adoring slave.  She was amazingly pretty, her black hair made
her white skin dazzling, the faintest of rose-pink flushed her cheeks
and the tip of her pointed chin; her eyes set deep under long black
lashes were as blue as a June sky; her mouth alone marred the perfection
of her face--when the lips were not twisted into an affected smile,
acquired after faithful study before the mirror, they glaringly betrayed
the girl’s little weaknesses.

There might well be some doubt in anyone’s mind as to why a doctor had
prescribed a rest for the young lady!  From the moment when, clasping
her Pekinese under her arm and followed by a porter with two huge shiny
leather suitcases she stepped down from the train, she fairly bubbled
with spirits!

Quickly Pat fell under the old charm!  Because Renée had developed a
light attack of influenza which confined her to her bed and kept Aunt
Pen in close attendance, lessons were suspended and the two girls were
left very much to themselves.  At Aunt Pen’s suggestion Pat moved into
Celia’s room, which adjoined the room assigned to Angeline.  A door
opened from one to another and every night and morning Pat crept in
under Angeline’s covers for a little while and listened breathlessly
while Angeline told the "secrets" of the school.  Almost always there
was a box of chocolates under Angeline’s pillow so that at regular
intervals the stories were interrupted while the two girls munched on
the candies.

"The very most exciting thing of all--and don’t you _dare_ breathe it to
a soul"--and Angeline sat bolt upright and clasped her arms about her
knees--"is the _awful_ scrape that Jule Kale and I got into and that’s
_really_ why I’m here!"

Jule Kale had been a Junior when Pat had been at Miss Prindle’s.  Pat
remembered her as a daring young lady whose adventures had more than
once thrilled her and the other girls in the school.

"You know she’d been writing to a French soldier for over a year, even
after Prin said we couldn’t and what _do_ you think!  He _came_ to New
York! He was the handsomest thing--the girls were all crazy about him,
when we described him!  He wrote to Jule right away and asked her to
meet him at the Waldorf and she went real often and took me with her.  I
used to take a book and pretend to read, but I watched every minute so’s
I could tell the other girls.  Once he bought me some chocolate, too,
when Jule told why I was sitting there.  He said there were some more
Frenchmen coming over and he’d introduce them to us!  Oh, the girls were
_wild_ with excitement!  Then one afternoon Jule went to a tea-room and
danced with him and she didn’t take me and some one saw her there and
told Prin and Jule was awfully scared, ’cause you remember Prin had told
her that the next scrape she was in she’d have to leave the school!  And
what does Jule do but tell Prin that he was her _cousin_ who had been in
the French flying service!  And Prin _insisted_ that she invite him up
to school for dinner like we always do our relatives and have him give a
talk about the war and Jule had the _worst_ time explaining how he had
to go away and couldn’t come!  And we knew all the while that Prin was
sniffing around the way she does for more information so Jule thought
I’d better go away for awhile so’s she couldn’t question me! I pretended
to faint one day--I can do it awfully well now--and Prin never said a
word when I told her I wanted to come here for a visit.  But wasn’t that
all exciting and wouldn’t it be _funny_ if some day Jule married the
French soldier?  His name is Henri Dupres.  Only Jule says his teeth are
all filled with gold and he shows ’em _all_ the time as if he was proud
of them!"

Contrasted to these exciting revelations Pat felt that the telling of
her little experiences--the happy school with Aunt Pen, the Eyrie and
its secrets, the jolly hours at the Lee’s, the basketball games, the
Scout work and play, would be stupid to Angeline!

Aunt Pen had bade Pat do everything she could to entertain her guest;
Pat found that Angeline was easily entertained.  Indeed, the young lady
never failed to indicate with daring frankness just what she wanted to
do and what she did _not_ want to do. And to Pat’s dismay none of
Angeline’s desires included any of the other girls!  Angeline stated
very plainly that she considered Peggy "stupid," Keineth "a kid," and
Sheila--"downright common."

"Why, do you mean she lives in that tumble-down house and her mother
keeps _lodgers_?" she had asked with scorn.

Pat had opened her lips to answer and then closed them quickly.
Something within her told her that nothing she could say would win
Angeline’s approval of Sheila--she, too, months ago, when she was at
Miss Prindle’s, might have thought the same thing!

Angeline, with pretty condescension, found Renée interesting.  "Poor
little refugee!" she said when Pat told Renée’s story.

The two girls divided their time in the moving-picture theatres, the
chocolate shops and the stores. Angeline never tired of hanging over
counters and showcases; because she was smartly dressed and possessed a
fund of information as to styles, she commanded respect and attention
from the clerks. Each day Pat grew more and more envious and impressed
by Angeline’s "grown-upness."

Under Angeline’s influence Pat began to feel ashamed of her own simple
garments and to contrast them unhappily with the finery Angeline spread
out over the bed for her inspection.  She turned the henna and turquoise
creation over and over while Angeline told that it had cost twenty-five
whole dollars!  "That’s more than Renée and I earned all winter," Pat
thought.  And Angeline put into her hands a pair of pumps, gleefully
remarking that "they were sixteen and I got them for twelve--_wasn’t_
that a great bargain?"

In her rude way, which Angeline considered pretty frankness, she made
Pat understand, too, that she was "simply amazed" to find that Pat lived
in such a plain old house!

"Of course it’s nice and roomy and all that--and a long time ago it must
have been fashionable, but you just _ought_ to see Brenda Chisholm’s
father’s new house on the Drive--why, it’s like a _palace_!"  She
enlarged, then, upon its grandeur until Pat felt deep chagrin that her
father had preferred to live on in the old homestead rather than to move
into a newer part of the city.

Pat knew that she loved the old library with its deep fireplace and the
rows of book shelves reaching to the ceiling and the long, deep windows
overlooking the slope of lawn between her house and Sheila’s, the old
paintings on the walls and the softly colored rugs; she knew that her
own room, over the library, held all her memories of nursery days; that
she loved the way the morning sun, streaming in through the little
conservatory where the birds sang among the flowers, turned to gold the
dark oak panels of the dining-room.  However, it must seem shabby to
Angeline after she had visited Brenda’s new home! She looked at the more
modern houses they were passing, great piles of stone and marble
surrounded by well-kept lawns, and resolved to urge her Daddy to move
immediately!

One morning, a week after Angelina’s arrival, the girls found themselves
with nothing to do.  Aunt Pen had taken Renée out for a walk in the
Park. The sun was shining warmly, buds were appearing on the lilac
bushes, everywhere was the hint of spring. Aunt Pen had declared she had
heard an oriole, she and Renée had started in search of the songster’s
nest.  Pat had watched them depart with a little longing in her heart
and a hurt that they had not even asked her and Angeline to go with
them!  Yet she knew how Angeline would have scoffed at the suggestion of
a walk in the Park!

Angeline now was arranging and rearranging her hair before the mirror.
Pat was crossly wishing she’d stop--she’d been fussing there for ages!
"What’ll we do?" she asked, as Renée’s and Aunt Pen’s figures
disappeared up the street.

"Oh, let’s go out somewhere for lunch.  Then we can shop.  You know, I
think it’s a _shame_ your aunt doesn’t buy you some decent things!  If
_I_ were you I’d just go and get them myself!  My goodness, you’re too
old to be dressed like a little kid.  How the girls at school will laugh
when I tell them!"

Pat’s face flushed crimson.  Angeline went on in her persuasive voice;
"If you don’t just show your independence _sometime_ they’ll go on
treating you like a child!  Of course it’s none of my business, but
you’re my dearest friend and I _do_ feel sorry for you!  And I can help
you pick out--oh, just a few things!"

Pat gave her head a little toss!  "Shall we walk or ride?" she asked,
mutely yielding to Angeline’s tempting.

"Oh, dear me, ride, of course!  I couldn’t walk a _block_ in those
heels!" and Angeline extended one of the bargain pumps for a loving
inspection.

It was necessary, before they started forth, for Pat to open her
treasure box in the Eyrie and take from it the crisp six dollar bills
which she had ready for her Victory pledge, due on April first.  This,
with her week’s allowance, seemed a great deal of money and would surely
meet the expenses of their outing.

As they whirled along the street toward the shopping section of the city
Pat caught Angeline’s gay mood.  With a little thrill she told herself
that they were embarked upon an adventure!  At Angeline’s suggestion
they lunched at a fashionable restaurant, always thronged at the
noon-hour.  Emboldened by Angeline’s composed manner, Pat gradually lost
her own awkward consciousness and enjoyed to the fullest the gay bustle
and confusion, the clatter of china, the music rising discordantly above
the endless chatter at the tables.

"_This_ is more like what we girls do at school," declared Angeline,
dipping her pink finger-tips into the glass bowl before her.  "And now
let’s go to the stores and find some things for you!"

Under Angeline’s direction this was an absorbing process.  She recalled
a love of a taffeta dress they had seen in a window.  Of course it could
be charged--everyone must know who Miss Everett was! Fortunately for the
success of their shopping they found a clerk who had often sold dresses
to both Mrs. Everett and Celia.  Anxious to make a sale, she assured Pat
that the dress would look beautiful on her!  She shook out its flounces
temptingly as she said it.  Angeline added that the flame-colored
chiffon collar was "chic--everyone’s wearing them in New York!"  Pat was
promptly thrilled with a mental picture of herself in the stylish gown!

"Of course your aunt will look cross for a moment," Angeline whispered,
"but it’s really none of her business is it?  I know _my_ mother likes
to have _me_ look after myself!"

So Pat bought the dress, gave the address, and carried it away with her
in a box.  They then made other purchases; a silk and lace petticoat
that Angeline declared a "love," some chiffon ties, a velvet bag with a
jeweled top, a vanity case and a box of face powder.

"What _fun_!" cried Angeline, seizing some of the precious packages.
"Now I tell you what let’s do!  Let’s stop at that Madame Ranier’s place
and let her curl your hair and do it up!  Then you’ll look just peachy!
_All_ the girls are wearing their hair up now--truly, Pat!  Why, you’d
be ridiculous in New York!"

They found Madame Ranier’s and Pat spent an uncomfortable hour before
the mirror while a yellow-haired young woman curled her pretty hair with
long, hot irons.  Angeline hovered over them both, giving suggestions
from time to time and exclaiming over the transformation.  The hairpins
hurt cruelly and Pat had a feeling that she could never move her head
again; however, in spite of all this, she was secretly satisfied, as was
Angeline and Madame and the young woman, that the result was most
becoming and that she looked quite "grown-up!"

Then Angeline caught her arm.  "Now, silly, just stand still _one_
moment and I’ll have you looking _really_ like something," and to
complete her afternoon’s work, she dabbed at Pat’s nose with the tiny
powder puff she carried in her bag.

As they marched forth Pat tried to assume an airiness of manner she did
not feel.  Between their luncheon and Madame Ranier she had spent almost
all of her money; the purchases she had had charged began to trouble her
soul.  Angeline stopped suddenly at Brown’s window--she saw a book there
that she declared she must have!  All the girls were reading it!  She
ran in without another word and Pat could do nothing but follow her.
The book, "All on a Summer’s Day," was purchased and Pat paid for it out
of what remained of her money.

"Prin said we younger girls couldn’t read it, but guess she can’t say
anything to me now!"

"Now to wind up this jolly day, Pat--_I’ll_ treat," Angeline said,
edging toward a chocolate shop.

As they sat down at one of the little tables Pat saw across the room
Garrett and Peggy Lee and Keineth Randolph.  Her first thought was to
join them but something in their faces stopped her.  In that moment’s
exchange of glances, though the girls had nodded pleasantly enough, Pat
read surprise, disgust, and outright amusement!

A deep crimson dyed her face, in funny contrast to the powdery whiteness
of her nose.  Trying to assume an indifferent air she turned her back on
the others and devoted herself to Angeline; her pride and satisfaction
had fled, though, leaving her deeply hurt, not so much because of the
girls’ suppressed ridicule as by the thought that they had not invited
her and Angeline to join them.

Then Garrett added the last drop to her humiliation! As they trooped
out, giving a passing smile to Pat and her guest, Garrett slyly poked
Pat in the back and, leaning over, whispered: "Where’d you lose your
ears, Miss Everett?"  Involuntarily Pat clapped her hands to the curly
puffs that were pinned carefully over her ears and threw Garrett a
wrathful look!

But her adventure was ending most dismally! Reaching home she threw her
boxes and bags and the book on her bed and fiercely shook out the
miserable hairpins!  For ten minutes she brushed the offending curls and
then braided them into a tight pigtail. If Aunt Pen noticed the work of
Madame Ranier’s young woman, or the daub of powder still decorating the
bridge of Pat’s nose, she said nothing; neither did she question Pat
concerning her absence at luncheon.  She and Renée were in high good
humor, they had had a happy afternoon and Renée was herself again.

"Pat, dear, don’t you think--Renée is all better now--we might have some
sort of a party in honor of Angeline?"

Angeline’s expressive face brightened.  She was always prettily
agreeable when with the family.  She clapped her hands to express her
delight.

"Let’s have a dinner dance," she cried; then--"oh, how _dreadful_ of me
to speak right out--like that!" and she affected deep embarrassment.

"I had in mind a picnic at Hill-top on Saturday. The roads are open and
we can all motor out, have lunch and then go to the sugar camp.  The sap
is running well, Mrs. Lee says."

Aunt Pen kept her eyes on her knitting and did not see the blank look of
astonishment that crossed Angeline’s face.  Pat had exclaimed eagerly
over the suggestion:

"I’ve never seen a sugar camp, have you, Renée?"

"Then I will tell Mrs. Lee that we will all go, Sheila and Peggy and
Keineth, and Garrett may ask some of the boys.  Garrett can drive their
car too."

The next morning Angeline stayed locked in her room until after eleven
o’clock.  Then, hearing Pat in the adjoining room, she suddenly threw
open the door and appeared fully dressed, even to the henna hat.  To
Pat’s exclamation of astonishment she answered:

"I’m going back on the Empire!  Will you tell Watkins?  Now _don’t_ be a
silly and make a fuss, Pat--just tell your aunt that I had a telegram!
Jule wrote that everything was smoothed over and that I was missing some
fun!  So you _don’t_ think I’m going to stay any longer in _this_ dead
hole!"  She snuggled her face in the Pekinese.  "You’ve been a _dear_ to
keep me, Pat, but, you poor child, couldn’t you see I was just bored to
_death_?  And a sugar-party! Oh, la, la--_won’t_ the girls laugh?  Why,
I wouldn’t be seen _dead_ at one!"

Slowly Pat stiffened until she stood as though made of stone.  Her lips
tried to frame the tumult of wrath that raged within her, but she only
managed to say lamely: "I’ll tell Watkins--if you’ve really--got to go!"

So Angeline and her dog and her bags of finery departed and ten minutes
later, the rage in Pat’s soul bursting all bounds, she presented herself
at Aunt Pen’s door, her arms filled with the hateful purchases of the
day before, her face red with the effort to choke back her tears.

Aunt Pen had just come in.  So she was amazed when Pat burst out: "She’s
gone and I’m glad of it! I just _hate_ her!  She said we were stupid and
that Sheila was common--and she was--bored to death and we--we weren’t
fashionable--and--and she wouldn’t be seen _dead_ at a sugar-party!  As
if anyone wanted her, anyway!"

"Pat, dear, one thing at a time!  Who’s gone? Angeline?"

Pat dumped her boxes on the floor and sitting like a little girl on Aunt
Pen’s lap told of Angeline’s dramatic departure.  She could not see the
smile that stole over Aunt Pen’s face; she could not know that the
sugar-party had been planned to bring about just what had happened!
Wise Aunt Pen had decided that Pat had had just about as much of
Angeline’s company as was good for her!  She listened to the tale of the
shopping, glanced at each purchase, then patted the hair that was still
curly.

"Poor Patsy, what a time you’ve had!"

"But I hate her, Aunt Pen, and I hate myself for ever having let her say
Sheila was common! Dear old Sheila!"

"Well, dear, you’ve learned something in values--all around!  Sheila,
even though her life is a continual sacrifice of all the pleasures and
luxuries most girls have, is a finer girl and a more worth-while friend
than poor Angeline--and I think the _next_ time you’ll stand up for her,
won’t you, my dear? Now, for the book--_that’s_ the place for that,"
aiming it at the waste-basket, "and if you want some novels I’ll find
you some that are more thrilling and better brain-food.  Your
curls"--she fondled the dark head--"they _are_ pretty, Pat--it’s too bad
we aren’t all born with curly hair and there’s no particular harm in
having it curled, only--it does take _so_ much time that could be spent
in some much better way!  And after a few years you can do up these
braids and be a young lady, but for awhile longer we want our Pat a girl
that can romp and play and get all the joy that youth alone offers!"

"Oh, Aunt Pen, you make me feel as if I’d been so silly!  But what on
_earth_ will I do with all these things!" and Pat kicked at the
offending boxes.

"Well," Aunt Pen glanced appraisingly over the spilled contents.  "You
can give the bag to Melodia and the vanity case to Maggie and we’ll just
go back with the other things and ask the store manager to exchange them
for--what do you say to shoes for all the Kewpies?"

"Oh, joy!  For Easter!  Oh, you’re _such_ a comfort, Aunt Pen!"

"Seriously, Pat, do you feel that you really need a dress?  Perhaps I
have neglected you!"

"Oh, gracious no, I don’t want to fuss with any more clothes!  That’s
all Angeline talked about! Let’s take this truck back right after
luncheon!"

"Pat, dear, just a moment," Aunt Pen still had a little sermon tucked
away in her mind.  "You mustn’t hate Angeline--when you think all this
over you’ll realize she has taught you a valuable lesson--perhaps you,
too, have given her something in return!  Each one of us has within us
much that we give all unknowingly to others, that helps them. Think how
much little Renée has taught you with her unselfish companionship and
Sheila, who is so brave and cheerful and honest, and Peggy and all the
others!  And you must think that you, too, in turn, through your
friendship, give them something of what is good in you!  Can you
understand what I mean?  So let Angeline go away with grateful thoughts
in your heart--she is silly now but some day she may outgrow all that
and be a fine girl!"

Pat’s face reflected Aunt Pen’s seriousness.  "I just ought to feel
sorry for her ’cause she hasn’t a mother and a daddy and an Aunt Pen
like I have! But, oh, I don’t want to ever look another piece of
chocolate candy in the face again!  And I’m as broke as broke can be and
have spent even my Victory money and I’ll have to draw more from ’LaDue
and Everett’ to meet my pledge and save all this month to pay it back,"
with a groan.  "But, Aunt Pen, will we have the sugar-camp picnic just
the same?"

"We surely will," smiled Aunt Pen, folding the dress back into its box,
"and a good time, too!"

So Pat quickly forgot Angeline’s insults, her abused stomach and her
empty pocketbook in a happy anticipation of the day in the woods at
Hill-top with the boys and girls who were her "really worth-while
friends."



                            *CHAPTER XVIII*

                           *FOR HIS COUNTRY*


"Paddy!  Pad-dy Quinn!  You get _right straight_ out of there!"  The cry
came from Sheila.  Returning from school she had spied, as she turned
into her walk, Paddy digging among her mother’s precious tulips.

Sheila threw her books inside the kitchen door, taking pains to notice
that the room was empty, and then went back to punish the culprit.
Paddy lay crouched on the ground watching her with bright eyes and
wagging his stub of a tail in a way that was anything but repentant!

Perhaps the only thing that Mrs. Quinn loved more than Paddy, except of
course her Sheila and her Denny and her Matt and her Dare, were the
bulbs that grew each spring in the little border bed along the old
fence.  Her tulips always put their tiny green leaves up through the
earth long before any other tulips; they were always bigger and brighter
and seemed almost human, the way they nodded on their silvery green
stalks and leaned toward one another as though repeating, like old
gossips the stories the robins sang over their heads. Each fall Mrs.
Quinn carefully covered them over and each spring, at the first feel of
warmth in the sunshine, she watched daily for the tiny green tips, as a
mother might watch for the return of a long absent son.

The children shared her interest, too--they could not be her children if
they did not love the flowers and birds and sunshine that made their
living joyous! The fairy stories she had taught them in their babyhood,
as she had rocked them in her loving arms, had made the familiar things
about them have a magic of their own; the old clock in the corner was
not ugly because elves lived in it by day and pranced from its old case
at night; a fairy princess had her fairy-palace in the nearby tree tops,
a prince hid in the wood box, the nodding posies that always budded and
grew wherever Mrs. Quinn lived, were the souls of sprites and at night
danced about under the star-light; the dew that could be found on the
blades of grass in the early morning were the jewels that they dropped
in their haste to flee back to hiding from the approaching dawn!

Trouble had been a frequent visitor in this magic household but the only
mark it ever left was an added line in the corner of Mrs. Quinn’s
smiling lips, made by long night struggles over the dilapidated book
which contained the family accounts.  Even when left a widow with four
children to bring up, she did not lose one bit of the optimism that,
years before, had made the whole world her Denny’s and hers for the
conquering!  Her Denny had been taken from her before any one of the
dreams they had dreamed had come true; still, for her, he lived on in
her Sheila and the three small boys who had red hair and blue eyes like
the father, and she still dreamed the old dreams for them.  "There was
no cloud so dark but that it had its bright lining somewhere" was the
brave philosophy with which she directed her household, and the meals
that were often frugal she made cheery with some loving nonsense.  The
sacrifices Sheila had to make as she grew older were nothing because she
knew her mother made them, too, and there was comfort in the sense of
sharing.  The summer before Mrs. Quinn had taken the old brick house,
fashionable in its day, comfortable now, even in its shabbiness, and had
rented its rooms to lodgers. With careful economy this slender income
would keep them comfortable until the day, to which Sheila always looked
forward, when she herself could earn money and give to the boys the
advantages of education that she would not ask for herself.  To her her
own little ambitions were as nothing compared to the big things that
must be done for the boys so that they would grow into great men!

Paddy had become, immediately upon his adoption, a favored member of the
family.  He had privileges, too, and these increased as he willed
because, from the mother down, not one of them could speak crossly to
what little Dare called "the orphing dog."  He slept in a box near the
stove when he was not stretched across the foot of one of the boy’s
beds; he ate from a plate under the chair in the corner, a spot of his
own choosing, from which he could watch the course of the family meal
and ask for a second helping when he wished.  He shared the rise and
fall of the family fortunes--a bit of liver when the rest had chicken, a
good bone on a holiday, a new collar when Matt found, on the walk before
the house, a crisp five-dollar bill that had no owner.

Though, as a dog--especially an "orphing" dog Paddy measured in good
manners up to the average, he had occasionally, during the winter,
fallen into deep disgrace.  Time and again he had been found digging
vigorously in the back yard.  Both Mrs. Quinn and Sheila had protested
violently!  The bulbs were there and, too, it was Sheila’s precious
war-garden--the best in the troop!  Paddy had been punished--severely
for the Quinns; in spite of this he was found again and again at his
mischief.

"Oh, dear, he’ll ruin everything," Sheila had cried, eying the havoc
Paddy had worked.  The more the snow melted from the ground the more
determined Paddy seemed to dig his way straight through to China!

Then Mrs. Quinn had made the ultimatum!  The children heard it with
worried faces; Paddy listened, disturbed, from the stove behind which,
after a chastisement, he had taken refuge.

"If we find him at it _once more_ he’ll go straight to the pound!  I’m
_not going_ to have my bulbs ruined!"  And Mrs. Quinn had turned
resolutely away from the dismay and grief she saw in four young faces.

Sheila knew that her mother had meant what she said.  That was why, on
this day, she had peeped into the kitchen before she went back to Paddy.
If no one had seen him then he might have just one more chance!

"You’re a _bad, bad_ dog!" she said, advancing threateningly upon the
culprit.

But Paddy barked protestingly.  His whole manner seemed to say: "I’m
through now.  See what I’ve found!"  And between his paws he held a
small tin tube, badly discolored from long contact with the earth.

As Sheila leaned over he jumped upon her, then pawed the ground where
the tube lay.

"What have you got?  Don’t you dare bury that in the tulip bed!"  But he
barked so hard in protest that Sheila gingerly picked up his treasure.

Under her fingers it came apart and from it dropped three folded slips
of paper.

"For goodness sake!" cried Sheila, almost frightened.  She smoothed them
out; except for a slightly mouldy smell they were in good condition and
the writing upon them could be easily read.

They were the lost formulas!

"_Mother!  Mother!  Mother!_"  With one bound Sheila was in the house
confronting her mother who had come up from the cellar, panting with
alarm.

"_Paddy’s found ’em!  Paddy’s found ’em!_"  And she threw her arms about
her mother’s neck in a hug that swept the two of them straight into the
big rocker!

"Sheila Quinn, are you _loony_?  What _have_ you got?  And _do_ stop
that dog’s barking!"

"Oh, mumsey, it’s the lost formulas--they were buried in the tulip bed!
_That’s_ what Paddy’s been digging for--all this time!"

The two spread the papers out on the table and read them over and over.

"Don’t they sound _dreadful_!  Just’s if they’d explode all by
themselves!" whispered Sheila, recalling what Mr. Everett had said about
the formulas.

So giving Paddy a warm hug by way of tribute Sheila put the formulas
back in the tin tube and started forth to find Mr. Everett, to tell him
the whole story.  All through the winter the loss of the formulas had
worried Mr. Everett.  His experts had been working over the experiments
again and in time would, of course, have made new formulas; it was the
fear, however, that some other government already possessed the secret
that had troubled, not only the officials of the Everett Works, but the
United States government as well.  So that when Sheila, with Aunt Pen,
Pat and Renée, burst into the office with the wonderful news, Mr.
Everett felt as though a great load was rolling off his shoulders!

A curious gathering inspected the dirty tube and listened to the story;
Mr. Everett and his staff, some secret service men, two chemists from
the experimental laboratory, in their long white coats, some workmen who
were passing the door and had been attracted by the exclamations--and
the girls. Mr. Everett questioned Sheila closely.  She recalled that
Paddy had--all winter long--barked a great deal at night, so much so
that after awhile the family grew accustomed to it and did not notice
it.

"Marx buried it--intending to go later and dig it up!  The man was smart
enough to know that if they’d been found on his possession nothing could
have saved him.  It was a lucky thing they kept him locked up so long!
Your dog has done good work, Miss Sheila!"

Mr. Everett then, turning the tube over and over in his hands, said to
one of the others in a low tone:

"After all--perhaps the best service we could do for our country and the
world would be to bury it again--where it would lie forever and ever!"

That night, for the second time, Mr. Everett, with Pat, came to the
Quinn kitchen.  But this time he was accompanied by Aunt Pen and Renée,
too. They made a very loud noise at the doorstep, as though dragging to
the door some heavy object. Mr. Everett insisted that the three small
Quinns must stay up and to make it certain drew little Dare to his knee.

"We’re going to have a regular ceremony," declared Pat so solemnly that
Mrs. Quinn nervously fell to lighting more gas jets and Sheila sent Matt
off to the sink to wash the jam from his face.

"We must decorate Mr. Paddy Quinn for distinguished service," Pat
finished.  So the boys with shouts dragged Paddy from his basket--for
Paddy believed in an early bed-hour--and set him in the centre of the
merry circle.  Thereupon Mr. Everett produced a handsome collar
decorated with a red, white and blue bow and allowed Dare to fasten it
about the shaggy neck.  Everyone laughed at the comical picture Paddy
made in his gay decoration! Then a knock came at the door and in trooped
Peggy and Keineth, trying to look as though they had not known what had
been happening!

Mr. Everett rose with much seriousness.  "And now that everyone is here
I want to present _another_ badge of honor, that has been left in my
keeping!"  Sheila guessed what was coming!  She threw one wildly happy
look toward her mother and then stood quite still, blushing.  Mr.
Everett drew from his pocket the flat tissue-paper package, unwrapped
it, and held up the badge of the Golden Eaglet.

"It gives me profound pleasure to return this to Miss Sheila Quinn!  May
she always keep and give to others, too, her sense of a true scout’s
honor!  It is one of the strongest weapons we can carry!"

His voice was so earnest and the eyes he fixed on Sheila so full of
sincere respect and admiration that the laughter in the room suddenly
died.  As Pat said afterwards: "It was just as though Sheila was a
knight and was starting out on some crusade!" And Mrs. Quinn, who knew
something of the weapons one needed to fight the battles of life, choked
down a catch in her throat and Aunt Pen whispered something under her
breath with a look that was like a caress for Sheila!

Then the girls opened the door and revealed a tub of ice cream on the
threshold; while two of them were lifting it out of the ice Pat brought
in and opened a big box full of dewy-wet pink roses.

Keineth went to the piano and played so that "the fairies danced," and
then everyone sang--Dare, holding tightly to one of Mr. Everett’s hands,
almost splitting his throat in his effort to express his joy!

"_Such_ an evening!" said Mrs. Quinn as she closed the door behind the
last guest.  "And who’d have ever thought of it at six o’clock and you,
Matty, with your elbow out of your sleeve!  Well, well, I guess _those_
good folks don’t mind a thing like that!"

"_Mother--look!_"  Sheila had gone to the roses and had leaned over them
to whisper good-night into the fragrant petals.  And there, hidden among
the leaves, she had found a small envelope addressed to "Miss Sheila
Quinn."

She opened it quickly.  "Oh, _Mumsey_!" she cried.  For before her
amazed eyes she unfolded a check for two hundred dollars!

And with it was just one short line.

"As a small token of appreciation for Paddy’s services I present this to
his mistress, begging her to do with it whatever she wants most in the
world."

"Mumsey--the music!"  Sheila ran to the piano, which had been scarcely
touched during the long winter.  With ecstatic fingers she ran up and
down the scale.

And Mrs. Quinn, watching her girl with happy, misty eyes, seeing in the
young face a look of the father who had gone on, and the glow of the
rosy dreams she had used to dream in her own girlhood, thought it the
most beautiful music in the world!



                             *CHAPTER XIX*

                         *A LETTER FROM FRANCE*


"A letter for you, Miss Renée!" and Jasper laid down at Renée’s elbow a
square, bluish envelope with a foreign postmark.

From time to time Renée and Mr. Everett had received cards from Renée’s
guardian--but this was a fat envelope!  Aunt Pen reached eagerly for it
and turned it over and over in her fingers.  Whereupon Pat nodded to
Renée, as much as to say: "The plot thickens!  The mystery clears!"

"What fun to have it come on a nasty, rainy day like this!" she declared
aloud.  "Let’s take it to the Eyrie and read it very slowly so’s to make
it last a _long_ time!"

"Renée may want to read her own letter by herself, Pat," laughed Aunt
Pen, looking as happy as though the letter had come straight to her.

"Oh, _no_, please!  Let’s do what Pat says!  And _you_ read it, aloud,
Aunt Pen!"

So the fat envelope was carried to the Eyrie and Aunt Pen sat down in
the one sound chair while Pat and Renée stretched out on the floor at
her feet.  And as Aunt Pen began to read no one minded the rain beating
in torrents against the Eyrie windows!

"My dear little girl and all her good friends, the Everetts," the letter
began.  "Because I am confined by an inconsiderate doctor to a very
small bed in a very big room in what, in the sixteenth century, used to
be a monastery and is now one of the best of the American base
hospitals--though I wish the window was bigger so it could let in a
little more sunshine to warm these ancient walls--I have time at last to
write to you a real letter.  Since I returned from God’s country I have
been continually on the jump.  I got back to the boys just in time to
fire one last shot at the Jerrys, though it was a waste of good honest
steel, for they were running faster than even a bullet could go.  After
the armistice they sent us almost directly up to the Rhine.  Somehow,
now that I’ve got the time to write, and a fairly good pen, I can’t seem
to find the words that will describe to you just how we men felt when we
knew we were there--at the old Rhine--the way we’d talked and sung about
back in the training camp.  Things were not tedious--not for a
moment--and we were as busy as ever and constantly on the alert that
Jerry didn’t slip anything over us.  And then just when I was getting
used to the eternal rain and mud and the Germanness of everything--and
good honest, sheets, too, on a regular old grandmother’s feather bed--I
was ordered back with a detachment to Le Mans.

"And now, Renée, I must tell you a little story. It is about a poor
French soldier I found in one of the many small villages not far from
Valenciennes.  We were going back in lorries, one had broken down and
that held us up for a couple of hours.  Some of us were prowling around
for souvenirs.  (By the way I am sending a German helmet to you by mail.
Turn it upside down, fill it with earth and plant flowers in it--that’ll
redeem it.)  To go back to my story--I happened upon a very old man
digging in a strip of a back yard that looked the way one of our streets
home look when they’re paving it and putting sewers through--it was back
of what had been a cottage only the roof and two of the walls were gone.
I asked him for a drink and he took me to the one room that was whole to
give me some of the wine which--he told me proudly--he had hidden months
before, and there I found his very old wife and a young French soldier.
The Frenchman would not talk to me at all, just stared and shrank away
as though he was frightened.  I shall never forget how the poor fellow
looked, a bag of bones, hollowed eyes that burned in his white face and
an empty sleeve.  The old man told me the boy’s story, then, and with
the knowledge of French I have picked up I was able to put it together.
He had been released from a German prison, he had had to walk back with
other French prisoners, but because he had had his arm amputated in the
prison and had had a long run of fever and was half starved he had not
been able to keep up with the others and had dropped behind.  The old
peasant had found him lying by the road, raving in delirium.  There had
been a nasty wound on his forehead, too, as though back in the prison
camp some Jerry had struck him over the head.  The old couple had taken
him in and for weeks and weeks had nursed him as best they could,
keeping him alive with their precious wine.  His fever had gone, the
wound had healed, his strength had begun to slowly return, but he could
not remember one single thing of what had happened nor tell who he
was--that blow had wiped everything out of his mind!  He was like a
little child.  But the shock of seeing me started something working in
his brain; he stared and stared, after a little he got up his courage to
feel of my face and of my uniform--and then of his own uniform--or the
rags and tatters of what had been a good French uniform, and I think at
that moment blessed memory began to return!

"To make a long story short I just took him along on the lorry to Paris
and put him in a hospital there under expert care and now he’s as sane
as he ever was and says he can remember the German doctor who struck him
and wants to go back and find him! But I told him that a higher Justice
was going to settle all those scores and that he was going back to
America with me--when I go.  That is why I am telling you the story; I
know your kind little heart that is part French will find pity and
affection for this poor fellow who has suffered so much that little
girls like you might go on living happy safe lives in a good world, and
you will be kind to him when I bring him home with me.

"Home--Renée, it seems so funny for me to think of a home!  I used to
dream of having one but I have found out some dreams don’t come true,
and since then I’ve just wandered from one country to another building
bridges and railroads and such things.  But I feel tired now and I think
when I go back I’ll fix over an old house I own in a little town up in
the Adirondack mountains, and we’ll go there and we’ll be happy, or at
least I promise I’ll see that you are happy.  And we’ll keep the French
soldier I’ve adopted as long as he will stay, won’t we?

"When I was in Paris I went down and spent a whole day with Susette and
Gabriel.  They are well, Gabriel’s rheumatism is better, and he declares
it is the slippers you sent him--he wears them all the time.  They are
happy getting their garden ready, and the florists in Paris are placing
more orders for violets than before the war.  Prosperity shines in every
wrinkle in Susette’s face.  She pointed out to me where she has hung the
Stars and Stripes alongside of the Tri-color and told me that I must
tell you.  Your picture was in a place of honor on the shelf under the
Madonna and there was over it a tiny wreath of waxed snowdrops which
Susette says she made herself.  I looked at the picture and I said to
myself: ’Bill Allan, that big girl with the very nice eyes is your ward,
given into your care by the bravest lad you ever knew--see that you live
up to the charge with the best that’s in you!’  That was the vow I made
in front of your picture, Renée.

"Some day when we’ve saved enough money we’ll go back and visit Susette.
But she’s happy, Renée--the way we’re all happy over here--the fighting
is over!

"You and I can never thank the Everetts for all they have done for us.
I bless the Fate that brought that very lively Miss Pat into the Red
Cross office for I’ll admit right at that moment I didn’t know what to
do with you!  I think that in a few weeks I’ll be sent back to America
and then I will try to tell them how grateful we are..."

The letter concluded with a brief description of the hospital and its
beautiful, cloistered grounds where, long before, monks had found rest
from the world’s strife.  But not one of the three listened; Aunt Pen’s
thoughts, even while her lips went on framing the words of the letter,
were back, repeating over and over--"I used to dream of having a home
but I found out some dreams can’t come true!" and, as she finished and
folded the letter, her eyes, staring out over the wet housetops, saw
vividly again the college campus and the old stone bench under a
spreading elm where she and another had talked about that very house in
the Adirondacks!

"It _is_ my Will!" she murmured almost aloud. But for once Pat was too
concerned with her own worry to notice her Aunt Pen’s absorption!

"I think it’s just _mean_ in him to say he’s coming over here and take
Renée away to some old place--we _won’t_ let her go!" she exploded.

A little dread of this same thing was disturbing Renée!  Though she had
in the long trip across the sea learned to respect and trust her new
guardian, and, because Emile had placed her under his care, would always
feel a strong loyalty for him, she shrank a little from the thought of
leaving these kind friends and going to a strange home.  Aunt Pen,
coming with an effort back from her own dreams, read what was passing in
both Pat’s and Renée’s minds.

"Let’s not worry, girlies!  I know everything is going to turn out just
the way that will make everyone happy--when Capt. Allan returns!"

Now Pat suddenly grew suspicious!

"You speak _just as though_ you knew something we didn’t know, Penelope
Everett!  What _is_ it? _Did_ you know Renée’s guardian before?  You’ve
_got_ to tell us every thing!"  And Pat, a vision in her mind of romance
and mystery unfolded at last, knelt before Aunt Pen and rested her
elbows upon Aunt Pen’s knees with an air that said: "I’m ready now to
hear the whole story!"

But Aunt Pen’s face, rosy red, did not suggest the secret sorrow that
Pat had liked to imagine!  She laughingly pushed Pat away.

"What an old teaser you are!  Yes, this _is_ the same Will Allan I knew!
He used to tell me, sometimes, of the old house in the mountains which
an aunt had left him.  Then he went to South America to build a bridge
or something!  There’s nothing more to tell!"

Pat was visibly disappointed.

"Well, anyway, will you promise to keep him from separating Ren and me?"
she begged.

Aunt Pen slipped the letter back into its envelope.

"I’ll promise to do my best to keep him from--separating you--very far!
If he remembers me," she added with sudden alarm!  Such a thought had
not occurred to her!  Now it brought a tiny droop in the corner of her
lips.  "Anyway, Pat, much as we love Renée we must not forget that Capt.
Allan has the first claim, though I am sure he will be anxious to do
whatever will make her the most happy!  He may let Renée decide."

"Oh, that would be _dreadful_!" cried Renée.

But the thought satisfied Pat.  She stood up with sudden resolution.
"Well, then, _I’m_ going to begin right now teasing Renée _every minute_
to choose us!  I’m glad the letter came!  Everything was so dull and now
it’s exciting again!  And that poor Frenchman--let’s go over to Peggy’s,
Ren, and tell her all about him!  As if we minded rain, anyway!"



                              *CHAPTER XX*

                            *THE LOST BABY*


"Ren, you look as though you’d stepped out of a picture book!"

Renée did, indeed!  With odds and ends from the scrap-bag and the
store-room upstairs she and Pat had put together an Alsatian costume.
Pat, perched cross-legged in the middle of the bed with a book on
Historical Costumes stretched across her knees, proclaimed her
satisfaction with their handiwork while Renée turned and turned before
the long mirror, stopping to spread out the full short skirt or perk up
the enormous bow that adorned her head.

Keineth Randolph was going to give a party. It was to be a costume
party; there was to be dancing as well as games; all the boys and girls
of the Randolph’s acquaintance had been invited.  They always loved to
go to the Randolph’s home; the house, though small, seemed to have been
built for the sole purpose of giving young people room for a good time;
John Randolph, himself, could be as young as the youngest and Keineth,
always good-humored, was a hospitable little hostess.  Add real
musicians, tucked off on the landing of the stair, a table in the corner
of the dining-room laden with goodies dear to young folks, witches and
goblins, lords and ladies of past kingdoms, monks, fairies, clowns and
elves to make merry--well, "it will be one grand party!" Pat had
declared.

She herself had been torn in mind as to what she wanted to be.  She
pictured herself as Jeanne d’Arc, glorious in silver armor and lance in
hand; she considered Mary, Queen of Scots; then her romantic fancy
favored Cinderella!  But learning from Peggy that Garrett was going as
the brave Powhatan, the Indian Chief, she promptly decided to tease
Garrett by appearing as Pocahontas!  Aunt Pen was shopping at that very
moment trying to find the gayest feather duster in the city with which
to decorate her.

"Pat, I’ll wear my locket!" cried Renée, turning from the mirror.

She ran to her drawer as she spoke and drew from it the little case.
Pat watched her approvingly as she fastened the bright red band about
her throat. It added a piquant spot of color to the quaint costume and
the curious old locket looked as though it might have been fashioned by
some old artisan for a royal lady in the days when feudal lords reigned
over France!

"It’s _perfect_!"  Pat gave a leap over the low footboard of her bed to
examine more closely Renée’s entire appearance.

"You’re going to be the best thing there," she declared conclusively.
"I know everyone will be crazy over you!  _Won’t_ it be fun?  I can’t
wait until Thursday comes!  Only then it’ll be over so soon!"  And Pat
sighed deeply, as millions of others have sighed over the rapid flight
of time!

Maggie tapped at the door.

"There’s a queer old woman downstairs a-asking for you, Miss Renée!"

"For me?"  Renée turned, startled.  Then a sudden thought enlightened
her.  "It must be Elsbeth!"

She ran quickly down the stairs to the door followed by Pat.  It was
Elsbeth, the queer old servant who lived with Mrs. Forrester.  At sight
of Renée she turned a face white with distress.

"Oh, Miss Renny, Miss Renny, she’s took again! Mis’ Lee sent me to fetch
you!  You must come!"

"What do you mean, Elsbeth--Mrs. Forrester? I’ll go with you at once!"

"I think that’s _mean_, Renée!  We were going to plan my costume--you
_know_ it!" protested Pat.

"Oh, _Pat_!"  Renée’s voice pleaded from the depths of the hall closet
where she was hunting for her warm coat.  "Oh, Pat--you wouldn’t want me
not to go!  The poor thing!"

Pat was a little ashamed; however she did not want to show it--she cast
an accusing look at old Elsbeth as though she was to blame.

"Well, I don’t believe I’d leave you for any of the Kewpies, but I’ll
get along somehow!" and assuming the air of a martyr she started slowly
back up the stairs.

"I’ll get back as quickly as I can, truly, Patsy, so wait for me!"  Pat
paused in her ascent.  "You’re never going in _that_ costume, are you?"

Renée had completely forgotten what she had on! However, she only
laughed and buttoned the coat up closely about her throat.

"Oh, it won’t make any difference!  I’m ready, Elsbeth--let’s hurry!"

"She was took last night with one of her spells and cried and wouldn’t
take her powders!  And to-day she’s still like she was dead," the old
servant explained to Renée as they almost ran through the streets.  They
made a curious pair--the young girl’s scarlet skirts swinging out below
the coat, the gilded cardboard with which she had covered her slippers
flopping about her ankles and the ends of the big black bow peeping out
from under the soft hat she had clapped upon her head; Elsbeth, hobbling
in her effort to keep up with the younger feet, her loosened ends of
stringy gray hair flying in every direction, and her hands rolled in the
apron she tried vainly to conceal under the short, shabby jacket she
wore.

"The Lord sent Mis’ Lee," she gasped, panting for breath, "and she
sez--go fetch Miss Renny! An’ I come!"

"She’ll be better, I know, with Mrs. Lee there! Don’t worry, Elsbeth,"
and Renée, heedless of the panting breath beside her, quickened her pace
so that in a very few minutes she was tapping at the door.

Mrs. Lee opened it and drew Renée into the dingy parlor.  She went to
one of the windows and raised the shade to the very top, letting in a
flood of warm sunshine.  Then she whispered to Renée:

"The doctor is with her now.  It is the first time since I have known
her that we could get her to see a doctor!  Take off your coat, my dear!
Oh----" she stared for a moment, puzzled, then laughed: "you were trying
on your costume for Keineth’s party!  You are a picture, my dear!"  She
hesitated, as though something in Renée’s face suddenly held her
attention.

"Just for a moment you made me think of someone, but I can’t tell who!
Perhaps it is that you so thoroughly look the part of a little Maid of
Alsace!  I thought, while we were waiting, I might tell you a little
more of poor Mrs. Forrester’s story. Then you will understand why she
suffers as she does!  She was not always alone as she is now--she once
had a beautiful young daughter----"

"Oh," broke in Renée, excitedly, "was that the lost baby?"

"Yes, though she was twenty years old!  Now the mother always thinks of
her as a baby."

"Did she die?"

"No--to Mrs. Forrester then it was worse than death.  The two of them
seemed to have been quite alone in the world; the mother cared for
nothing but the little girl.  Every luxury that money could buy she
heaped upon her with a lavish hand.  One might think that the child
would have been dreadfully spoiled but those who knew them say she was
sweet and gentle, pretty as a flower.  When she was a little older the
mother took her away--she must have the best schooling that money could
obtain.  They traveled a great deal, too.  And all the while, as the
young girl grew toward womanhood, the proud mother was building plans
for the wonderful future her child must have!  I do not know of just
what greatness she dreamed--whether it was of some Duchess Somebody or
even a prince’s title--I only know that she held money and high social
position as the greatest gifts with which a Kindly Providence could
endow her flower and lost sight of what makes real happiness in this
world!

"It sounds like a fairy tale, my dear!  While the proud mother was
dreaming her golden dreams, the young girl met and fell in love with a
poor artist--a boy, for he was only twenty-two, whose family was quite
unknown and who had nothing in the wide world but a profound belief in
his own great talent. The young girl went proudly and joyously with him
to the mother to tell of their happiness.  The mother would only believe
that the boy was an adventurer--a fortune seeker; she saw an end to the
plans of her whole lifetime, an obscure future for the girl she had so
carefully educated.  She sent the young man away and forbade his
communicating in any way with her daughter.  For weeks the girl pleaded
vainly, the mother would not listen; in a fury of disappointment she
even locked her for days in her room, thinking to break the young will!
But there is an old saying that true love will find a way--the day came
when the young girl slipped away, joined her lover and a few hours later
returned to tell the mother that they had been married.  Then it was
that anger and baffled pride drove out all love and justice from the
mother’s heart; heaping curses upon the frightened girl she drove her
from her, bidding her never cross her path again!  The girl and boy went
away and from that day to this the unhappy woman has never laid eyes
upon them.  Her rage brought about a spell not unlike what she is having
now; for days and days she lay in her bed refusing to let anyone near
her.  Then, finally, as the weeks grew into months, slowly into her
heart crept the realization of what she had done.  Remorse began eating
at her soul. She tried vainly to find some trace of the daughter; with
only Elsbeth she wandered for month after month over every country of
the globe, seeking everywhere!  She spent almost a fortune on her
search. But there was never a sign.  It was as if the world had
swallowed them.  And, finally, broken by her sorrow, unhappy and
discouraged, without any friends and with only a little of her former
wealth left, she came back to this city and to this old house. It looked
then just the way it does now.  She threw out anything in it that might
make it even a little cheerful and then settled down to die!  But life,
cruelly enough, has hung on and on!  I have learned her story from
things she has told me; for some strange reason she has seemed to want
to confide in me.  And Elsbeth, too, has sometimes softened a little and
talked about the old days!  That is her sad story, my dear!  I know,
now, how tender you will always be with her and I have often thought
that perhaps you may remind her--a little--of the--lost baby, because
you are young and like a flower, too!"

Two bright spots of color burned in Renée’s cheeks.  To herself she was
saying: "_Wait_ until I tell Pat!"  The thrill of the secret of the lost
baby held her more than any sympathy for the old lady; perhaps deep in
her heart some sense of justice told her that the proud mother had had
just the punishment she deserved.

Mrs. Lee had turned toward the door.  "The doctor is going!  Wait here,
Renée, until I call you. He may have some directions to give."

Renée looked about the room.  What a horrible place!  Even the gold of
the sunlight dimmed to a cold lustre as it lay across the dusty surface
of the shabby furniture!  Everything was so unspeakably ugly and so
still!  She suddenly felt very lonely. A moment’s wild impulse tempted
her to run back to Pat as fast as her feet could fly!  They had been
having such fun fixing the costumes; the pink-curtained room had been so
cheery, Peter Pan had been singing so lustily--why should she stay here?

Except for the low murmur of voices from the hall where Mrs. Lee was
talking to the doctor, the only sound to break the awful stillness was
the loud ticking of old Elsbeth’s clock in the kitchen.  It had a
mournfully resentful tick as much as to say to its unhappy listeners:
"No matter how wretched you feel, I go on--I go on--I go on!"

The door going into the room where Mrs. Forrester lay was closed.  As
she thought of crossing its threshold little Renée shuddered.  A fear
she could not explain gripped her!  After all, she was only a little
girl; she had never seen anyone suffer--except Gabriel when he was
tortured with his rheumatism; she had never seen anyone die--her own
dear mother had seemed to just go to sleep!  And what if Mrs. Forrester
should die?  If she wanted to go back home, surely Mrs. Lee would let
her go!

And then, as she waited, bits of the story Mrs. Lee had told her flashed
back across her thoughts and held her.  Now her sympathy was not so much
for the girl bride as for the poor, lonely mother, wandering
broken-hearted, over the world!

"The poor thing!" she said aloud, and then jumped at the sound of her
own voice.

A door closed behind the doctor; Mrs. Lee came into the room.

"She is quiet now.  The doctor says there is no danger.  It is all her
nerves.  Only--women her age can’t indulge in hysterics without serious
results! What a picture you are in all this gloom, child!  It’s a
strange coincidence that you should have had this dress on!  Perhaps it
will rouse her."

Somehow, now, Renée did not feel a bit like asking to go home.  She was
not even very much afraid.  With Mrs. Lee she stepped softly down the
dim hall toward the closed door.

"Anything, Renée, that will make her forget herself will help her,"
whispered Mrs. Lee.  "Tell her about Keineth’s party--anything!"  They
walked into the room.  The doctor had raised one of the cracked shades
so that the sun was slanting in.  Mrs. Lee had put some extra pillows
under the patient’s head; she was half-sitting, a pathetically little
figure in the great ugly bed.  Her face was turned toward the wall.  She
lay perfectly still; Renée might have thought that, like her mother, she
was sleeping, except that her thin fingers twitched at the edge of the
bedspread.

"I have brought Renée," Mrs. Lee said softly.

There was no answer.

"Perhaps you would like to have her stay with you for a little while!"

"Oh--go away--_all_ of you!" came pettishly. "Can’t you let an old woman
die in peace?  Will it ever come?" she moaned into her pillow.

Renée felt so indignant that anyone should be praying like this to die
that she stepped to the side of the bed.

"But the doctor says you are _not_ going to die," she answered quickly,
with a stubborn note in her sweet voice.

The moment she had spoken she was very frightened but she could not have
said anything that would have so quickly roused the old lady.  It roused
her because it angered her; she jerked her head around. However, what
she might have retorted in answer was checked by her utter amazement at
seeing the strange, quaint little figure by her bedside.

"Who are you?" she demanded angrily.  "Who let you in here?"

The child stepped closer.  "I’m Renée!" she answered gently.

"You that little Renée?  Come here!" Mrs. Forrester commanded stretching
out a thin hand.

Renée stepped close to the head of the bed and leaned over.  Mrs.
Forrester touched her cheek and her hair.

"So it is!  So it is!" and her voice softened. Then a gleam of sunlight
from the unshaded window struck across the curious old locket.  Suddenly
the sick woman sat bolt upright in bed and clutched with both hands at
the red band.

"_That--that----_" she screamed.  "Where did you get it?"  She tore at
the velvet band until it hurt Renée cruelly.  Her voice rose to a
shriek. "_It is hers!  My baby!_"

As her fingers fumbled over the face of the locket a part of it suddenly
opened and from a hiding place within dropped a tiny gold key!  The old
lady cried loudly and held it up.

"_I knew it!  I knew it!_"  Then she sank back among the pillows, turned
slowly to Renée and whispered hoarsely:

"But who are you?"



                             *CHAPTER XXI*

                             *RENÉE’S BOX*


"Who are you?"

Of course they all thought Mrs. Forrester was having a spell!  Renée was
terribly frightened--the more so because now one of the thin hands was
gripping her arm so that it hurt.

Elsbeth, more wild and disheveled than ever, pushed at Renée and leaned
over the bed, a tumbler in one hand, some powders in the other.

"Mis’ Forrester!  _Please_, Mis’ Forrester!" she pleaded, tears running
down her wrinkled cheeks.

But Mrs. Forrester struck angrily at the hand holding the powders and
sent them in a tiny cloud of dust all over the covers.

"Go away, you old fool!" she cried, "can’t you see I’ve found my baby?
No one else anywhere in the world had a locket like that!"

Mrs. Lee suddenly remembered who it was that Renée had looked like!  It
was the faded picture Elsbeth had once shown her of the young daughter
of Mrs. Forrester!  She stepped forward now and answered for Renée.

"She is Renée LaDue, but I think--I believe--she _must_ be your
grandchild!"

Mrs. Forrester was sitting bolt upright and the pillows had fallen all
about her.  Two bright spots of red burned on her cheeks and her eyes,
as they stared through and through Renée, were alight with life.  She
was a different creature from the one who had lain limply on the ugly
bed, her face turned toward the wall!  Only her voice still sounded weak
and shrill.

"Your mother--answer, child!"

Then, more than anything else in the world, Renée wanted to run away!
But the hand on her arm held her tight.  And, too, who was this old lady
who had known that the key was in the locket when she and Emile had not
known it?

"My mother’s name was Amy----"

"My baby!"  Now the old lady sank back among the pillows; she commenced
to sob--dry, heart-breaking sobs, "My baby!  You are her little girl! I
have found her!"

And then a strange thing happened!  For suddenly Renée lost all her fear
and over her swept a joy that she had found someone--someone to really,
truly belong to!  So very shyly she reached out and took one of the thin
hands in her own.

Mrs. Lee gently told the old woman as much of Renée as she knew; how the
mother had died five years before, how she had made the brother promise
to some day bring the little girl back to America to live, how the
brother had given his life for France, the country of his mother’s
adoption, and an American officer had fulfilled the promise.  As she
listened Mrs. Forrester kept her eyes fastened on Renée’s face and Renée
held tightly to the trembling hand.

When Mrs. Lee had finished Mrs. Forrester lay still for a long time.
Then she said softly: "God has been good to a wicked old woman because
my flower had gone to Heaven and pleaded for me!  I am forgiven."  And
she closed her eyes as though at last a peace of soul had come upon her!

"Is--is the key--a key to a box?" Renée asked.

Her grandmother roused suddenly.

"Yes--yes!  A leather box--have you got it? My grandmother gave it to my
darling--with the locket--when she was fifteen."

"My mother gave it to Emile just before--she died!  She never told him
about the key but she made him promise to let no one break it open.  And
of course we never would!"

"Shall I go and get it?" asked Mrs. Lee.  She felt that for a little
while it might be better to leave the old lady and the child alone.
Renée made a move as though to go, too, but Mrs. Lee motioned her back.

"Aunt Pen will tell me where I can find it!  You stay here, my dear,"
and she hurried away.

Elsbeth had been watching the unusual happenings with a suspicious,
jealous eye.  She loved her strange old mistress better than anything on
earth; she resented these strangers usurping her place!

"Missus had best lay down now and keep quiet," she said, coming forward
with an authoritative air. "If ye’ll jes’ take a powder----"  But she
got no further; Mrs. Forrester burst into a laugh!  And Elsbeth was so
startled that her knees knocked together, for, not for many years, had
she heard her mistress laugh--and such a laugh!

"Elsbeth, stupid, can’t you see I’m a well woman? That I am happy again?
None of your powders any more!  Go about your business--ransack your
pantry and find some food for my pretty one here! My flower--my baby!"
And with a look that transformed her thin face she lifted her arms and
closed them about little Renée.

"Tell me," she whispered, as though it must be a secret between them,
"was she ever unhappy?"

Renée answered very slowly because she was thinking very hard.  She
tried to make the mother know that her own dear mother had been always
cheerful, always singing and telling beautiful stories and playing with
her among the flowers--and was only unhappy when Emile brought out the
father’s tools.

"That was because he had been blind, and I heard her tell Emile once
that his heart had broken because he could not do his work!  For a long
time she guided his fingers for him!  She herself used to take the
things they made to Paris to sell, and, when she couldn’t sell them, she
and Susette used to hide them so he couldn’t know--Susette told me all
that!  I think we were very, very poor, but my mother always seemed
happy.  She used to sew sometimes, until she was very tired.  We never
had anything but the flowers to play with and the games she used to make
up.  And she always talked of the time when she would bring us both to
America!  ’It was my country and it must be yours,’ she used to tell us
over and over!"

"Did she--did she--ever tell you--about me?"

Renée hesitated.  She knew that what she must say would hurt the old
lady deeply.  But before she could speak Mrs. Forrester answered
herself.

"Of course she would not!  I had forbidden it!" and in her voice was the
bitterness of remorse.

Then Renée told her of the cottage at St. Cloud where, since as far back
as she could remember, they had lived with Susette and Gabriel.  She
told, too, of Emile and the days when he had gone to Paris to study with
an old sculptor, and how bravely he had gone away to war with a company
from St. Cloud!

Mrs. Forrester pushed Renée’s hair back and looked intently at her.

"I can see it now!  You are like her--a little! But your eyes are
like--your father’s."

There were voices in the hall and in a moment Mrs. Lee and Aunt Pen
walked into the room.  Aunt Pen was greatly excited and came straight to
Renée.

"I am so glad, my dear," she whispered.

But no one had eyes for anything but the queer old box which Mrs. Lee
had placed upon the bed.

"How old it looks," sighed Mrs. Forrester, caressing for a moment the
worn leather.  Her fingers trembled so that she could not hold the tiny
key and it was Renée who fitted it into the lock and turned it.  It
turned slowly and the lid fell back, revealing packages of papers and
letters, tied neatly together.

Although not knowing exactly what she had always imagined was in the
box, Renée was vaguely disappointed!  But Mrs. Forrester fell to eagerly
sorting over the packages.  Lying loose among them was a folded sheet,
addressed to herself.

"Her writing!" she cried, holding it close to her eyes.  "Read it for
me--I cannot."

"Dearest of mothers," Renée read.  The writing showed that the letter
had been written under stress of deep emotion.  "It was only because he
needed me so much, for the doctors had told him his eyesight was slowly
going, that I could hurt you by acting against your wishes.  And
sometime you may know that I have always loved you dearly and that I
forgive you as I pray you will forgive me."

"Oh, my darling," and a flood of tears dropped on the sheet of paper.
"It is as though she was speaking to me!" she whispered, kissing the
lines. And indeed a great stillness held the room as though each of
those in it felt, too, the spirit of Renée’s young mother among them!

Mrs. Forrester, her eyes still dim with tears, spread out the other
papers and she and Mrs. Lee and Aunt Pen fell to examining them, while
Renée watched, feeling as though it was all a dream.

They found an old journal whose contents explained how John LaDue, who
before his marriage with Amy Forrester had been John Tellers, had gone
with his young bride to Paris where they had taken the name of LaDue.
Living as they did in simple obscurity, and because John Tellers had
been born and brought up among the French-speaking people of New
Orleans, it was very easy for them to pass as a young French sculptor
and his wife. And the friends they made were other young artists,
struggling along like themselves, who could know nothing about the
proud, unhappy woman who was traveling all over the world, seeking her
daughter!

The journal stopped abruptly at the record of Renée’s birth.  Renée
remembered Susette telling her that it was when she had been a tiny baby
that her father had become totally blind and they had moved to St. Cloud
that he might have the benefit of the pure air and the sunshine.

Aunt Pen discovered a package of papers that proved to be United States
government bonds.  They had been given to Renée’s mother on her
twentieth birthday, six months before her marriage.  They had not been
touched.  Penelope exclaimed:

"A small fortune!  And they are Renée’s!"

Many thoughts were shaping in poor Renée’s sadly bewildered little head.
She had now, what Peggy always called "folks"--a grandmother and
Elsbeth; even though it was an ugly old house she’d have a real, real
home all of her own!  She would _not_ have to go to the mountain place
with her guardian and the strange French soldier!  And yet that
disturbed her a little.  Emile had, in a way, given her into the
guardian’s keeping and not to a strange old woman!  So, even though
belonging to so many, Renée felt torn and unhappy.  And she looked
almost scornfully at the packet which Aunt Pen held up as though
precious--how _could_ just plain papers like that be a fortune!

Mrs. Forrester, who looked less and less like a sick woman, commenced to
slowly gather up the papers and place them back neatly in the leather
box. When she shut down the lid she turned to Renée.

"I thank God that He has shown me His mercy! I have not deserved to find
my darling.  But I have been punished!  No one knows how I have
suffered! And maybe, even now, I am not fit to have you.  I am an ugly
old woman who has cast everything beautiful out of her life!  Perhaps I
have no right to keep you!  You have good friends--go back to them, only
keep in your heart a kind thought for an old woman----"

"Oh, I’ll _stay_--I’d rather!" and Renée was quite startled that she
could decide so quickly.

"You mean it?  Oh, my baby--my pretty flower!"  Then a sudden resolution
lighted the old woman’s face.  "It will be as though that motherhood I
sacrificed by my wicked pride was given back to me!  Oh, I _know_ how
wicked and wrong I was and how I wanted for my precious one only the
things that my own pride clamored for!  But you shall not stay now--my
pretty flower would wither and fade in these ugly walls.  I am well,
again--and Elsbeth and I will clean out this place!  It shall be made
bright and pretty for my little one!  You must go now, back with your
good friends, then after a little----"

Every one thought that was best.  Elsbeth came in with a tray of
sandwiches and some cocoa.  Every one was hungry because the dinner hour
was long past and, in the excitement, had been forgotten.  And as they
ate, Mrs. Forrester, like a new creature, began energetically to give
Elsbeth orders as to what she must do on the morrow to begin the work of
transforming the ugly old house into a beautiful home for her "pretty
flower."

Then, one by one, they said good-night to Mrs. Forrester, and Renée,
leaning over, kissed her and whispered shyly:

"Good-night, grandmother!  Very soon I will come back--to stay."



                             *CHAPTER XXII*

                              *SURPRISES*


"Dinner is served, Miss Pat!"

"Why, Aunt Pen and Renée are not here," cried Pat, looking up from a
book.

"Miss Everett said that dinner should not wait! It is a quarter past
seven."

"But my father----"

"Mr. Everett is dining out."

"Well, I never!"  Pat threw down her book crossly.  Drawing herself to
her full height, she stalked down the length of the room on into the
dining-room, where, at the end of the long table, alight with the
sparkle of silver, glass and china, one lonely place had been set.

She wanted very much to throw a plate at Jasper who was biting his lip
to keep from laughing at her aggrieved air.  Instead she tossed her head
higher and, in her haughtiest manner, ordered:

"Jasper, will you see at once what Melodia has made for dessert and,
_whatever_ it is, tell her that I want two extra big helpings!"

"_So there!_" she muttered to his retreating back and felt much better!

Pat had really had a very bad afternoon.  She had not liked one bit
having Renée rush away in the midst of all their fun fixing their
costumes!  She had helped Renée and Renée had left her to fix her own.
She had felt decidedly aggrieved.  Of course she was sorry for the sick
old lady, but didn’t Renée love her more than anyone else?  Or didn’t
she?

When a little girl begins to ponder in such a fashion she can soon work
herself into a sad state of blues.  That was what Pat did!  So that when
Aunt Pen returned with a feather duster made of the biggest, brightest
feathers that had ever grown to grace a young Indian princess, Pat
didn’t care whether or not she even went to Keineth’s party!

Then the climax of her unhappiness was reached after Mrs. Lee rushed in
with the story of the locket and the key.  Aunt Pen and Pat had listened
with eyes wide with astonishment.

"Oh, it’s _just_ like a fairy story!" Pat had cried.

"Dear Renée!  It will mean a home of her own for the child!  I will get
the box at once."

Pat was startled--a home of Renée’s own!  She had felt that they might
coax the soldier-guardian to leave Renée with them forever and ever, but
here was a new and much stronger claim!  A real grandmother--even if it
was a terrible old lady who had had a mystery!

Aunt Pen came back wearing her coat and hat. Pat jumped to her feet.

"Wait for me, Aunt Pen!"

"No, no, my dear!  Too many of us may embarrass Mrs. Forrester!  You
must stay here."

"As if _I_ hadn’t found Renée in the first place," thought Pat
resentfully as they went away.

Even the thought that the mystery of the "lost baby" had been
solved--and solved in such an amazing way, brought no comfort--rather a
sense of envy!  All the others had had _such_ exciting things happen to
them!  Sheila had had the lost formulas. And now Renée had the
excitement of finding a grandmother!  Nothing at all ever happened to
her! To console herself she scornfully tore to bits the first four
chapters of her story.  She’d never try to be a famous author--she’d
just grow up and do silly things like Celia always did--they were fun,
anyway!  And Aunt Pen and Renée, when they realized that she was never,
never going to write any more stories, would feel _very_ sorry!

That was Pat’s state of mind when she sat down to eat her lonely dinner.

Then the doorbell rang.  Pat heard a man’s voice talking to Jasper.  She
heard Jasper step toward the library.  She was immensely curious--for
even a very unhappy person can be curious!  Daddy was not at home--it
was too early in the evening for callers--who could it be?  She pushed
her chair back and tip-toed toward the hall.

An hour later Aunt Pen and Renée, returning home, were met at the door
by a wildly-excited Pat. Her blues had disappeared like magic--the
expression of her face, every motion of her body indicated that she had
a secret!  She held her fingers to her lips to forbid a sound.  Then
seizing them both by the elbows she whispered into their amazed ears:

"Oh, the _bestest, grandest_ surprise you ever, _ever_ knew!"  And Pat
danced up and down and giggled deep in her throat to make them know that
grandmothers and lost babies were as nothing compared to the surprise
she had for them within the house!

"Pat Everett, are you _crazy_?" whispered Aunt Pen back.  "Aren’t you
going to let us in?"

"Of course!" answered Pat with importance. "You may walk in and go at
_once_ into the library! But you must shut your eyes _tight_ and promise
not to peek until I count----"

"It’s your mother!" declared Penelope, eagerly.

"Nopey--it’s a bigger surprise than that!  No fair guessing, only you
couldn’t anyway!  Now come in and shut your eyes!"

So they had to do just what Pat told them to do! And Pat, happier than
she had ever been in her life, dancing rather than stepping, led them
into the library.  She had no chance to count--a sudden, quick
exclamation made them both open their eyes!

For some one had said: "Pen--Everett!"  But Renée’s sharp cry drowned
out the sound.  She saw, standing a little behind Capt. Allan, thin in
his shabby French uniform, the empty sleeve pinned to his tunic,
Emile--her beloved Emile!

In an instant she was in the tight clasp of his arm--they were both
crying--poor little Renée’s heart could stand no more!  And as she clung
to him her fingers were feeling across his face and through his hair and
over the cloth of his uniform as though to tell her it was _not_ a dream
but _true_!

Pat was so happy for Renée that she found her own eyes wet and turned
away to keep back the tears. And there was Aunt Pen, the color of a red
poppy, slipping out of Capt. Allan’s arm!

"I might have known, Miss Pat, that you and I were old friends--because
I used to think I had a sort of solid claim on this aunt of yours--only
I didn’t know she was your aunt!"

With a triumphant look Pat tried to tell Aunt Pen that she had guessed
it all a long time ago but Aunt Pen, as radiant as a school girl, was
beaming upon Capt. Allan and Capt. Allan was shaking Pat’s hands as
though he had to do something violent.

Then Aunt Pen went to Renée and kissed Emile--for, in spite of the deep
lines that his suffering had carved on his face--he looked like a boy!

"It is just as though God was working miracles," she whispered to Renée.

There was so much to tell that no one knew just where to begin!  They
all knew, now, that Capt. Allan’s French soldier, whom he had found in
the old peasant’s cottage, was Emile.  Then Emile, still holding Renée
in the circle of his arm as though he could not bear to let her go for
one little moment, told how he and the private who had been left by the
scouting party, had had to separate in order to get back to their line.

"I had a presentiment that I was going to be killed--I gave him my
wallet with all my papers and the sketches I had made.  That was why
they thought it was I who had been killed!"

No one wanted to spoil the joy of the evening by asking Emile to tell of
his experiences in the German prison.  It was enough that he was there
with Renée once more--in America!  Everyone’s eyes were very bright and
every now and then everyone was very still, as though the happiness was
too great to be spoken in mere words!

Then Mr. Everett came in and the surprise was a surprise all over again,
and Pat, because it had been her surprise, was allowed to tell him all
about it. He shook hands very warmly with Capt. Allan and Emile, and
laid his arm tenderly over the boy’s shoulder as though to express
things he could not say!

They laughed at Capt. Allan because they caught him so often staring at
Renée!

"What _have_ you done to her?  It’s hard to believe she’s the same
little girl I picked up at St. Cloud!"

"It’s Penelope’s work," answered Mr. Everett; "she’s been doing some
experimenting!"

Renée, indeed, was a different child.  She had grown taller, sturdier,
her face had lost its delicacy of line and color; now she had, too, in
her step and look the spirit and vigor that only healthy, happy living
can give.

Suddenly Aunt Pen exclaimed: "Goodness me, Renée, we’ve forgotten to
tell about----"

"_The Lost Baby!_" cried Pat

So there were new surprises all around!  It seemed more like a fairy
story than ever--to find, in a few hours, a grandmother and a brother!
Emile was deeply interested; he listened gravely.  He knew perhaps more
of his mother’s sacrifices and hardships than Renée had known; for a
moment, deep in his heart, he found it hard to feel kindly toward the
proud woman who had made his mother unhappy. Then as Aunt Pen described
her lonely life in the old house, the dreary days shut in with her grief
and her remorse, just as Renée had, he felt a wave of tenderness.

"She is going to begin right away making the old house bright and pretty
and nice to live in! And think how happy she’ll be to know Emile has
come back!" cried Renée.

"Well, it looks as though _I_ was the one who had lost out all around,"
broke in Capt. Allan, although he did not look one bit unhappy as he
said it.  In fact, his eyes were fastened on Aunt Pen’s face with a sort
of eager questioning in them that kept the blushes coming and going on
her cheeks.  "I thought I had gotten together a nice little family!
However, I shall go on with my plan of fixing up that old place in the
mountains and maybe, sometime, I can induce my ward and her brother and
her grandmother to make a poor, lonely ex-guardian a visit!"

"And me!" put in Pat, eagerly, for she was certain he was in earnest.

"And me!" laughed Aunt Pen with a look that seemed to flash back an
answer to Capt. Allan.

"I think you girlies had better go to bed!"  Mr. Everett had noticed
that Renée’s eyes were looking very tired.  She had had a most exciting
day.  And on the morrow she must go again to the grandmother’s with
Emile.

Pat consented to go to bed only when Capt. Allan and Emile promised to
spend the night with them!

She and Renée whispered together for a long time.  Pat must hear just
how Renée felt the moment she knew the cross old lady was her _very own_
grandmother!

"I don’t believe she’ll be cross when she’s happy," confided Renée.
"She laughed and it sounded real jolly!  And even Elsbeth looked
different after that."

And wasn’t it _wonderful_ to have a brother come back?

"I don’t mind his losing his arm," Renée whispered, "for I love him so
much I want to do things for him and now he’ll have to let me!"

Long after Renée had fallen asleep Pat lay wide awake.  There was so
much to think about she was sure she could not ever shut her eyes again.
And she could hear the steady murmur of voices downstairs--she wished
she knew what they were talking about!  Then a queer little disturbing
thought commenced to eat at her heart.  Renée, alone in the world, had
been very close to her.  She had seemed to feel that, because she had
found Renée, Renée belonged to her--was something even closer than a
friend or a sister!  And now Renée had suddenly acquired a family and a
home!  As the tiny thought grew bigger and bigger and into a real Fear
she sat up very straight and leaning across to Renée’s bed, shook her
violently.

"Ren!  Ren!" and her voice rang tragically. "Promise me, on your scout’s
honor, that you’ll _always_ love me more’n--everybody--except Emile!"

Renée thought she was dreaming but she promised sleepily.

"Of course--I’ll love you--more’n everybody--’cept Emile--on my scout’s
honor!" and just as, on that other night, months before, when Aunt Pen
had tip-toed into their room to see that the little stranger was
comfortable, they fell asleep, clasping hands.



                            *CHAPTER XXIII*

                           *THE BEST OF ALL*


To Pat it seemed as though everything exciting was happening at once!
For the next morning’s mail brought a letter from Mother saying that she
and Celia would start north in a day or two.

Pat and Renée had wakened very early.  The first thought in each mind
was to know if it was all true--that Emile had come back--or was it a
dream?

Outside of their window a friendly robin was trilling a gay song as
though the joy of the spring-time was bursting his proud little throat.
Through the window the sun shone with added brightness and warmth and
delicious earthy smells greeted the girls.

"Oh, isn’t it just _grand_ to be alive?  Let’s dress fast and be the
first ones down!"  And Pat, because the sun and the birds and the spring
freshness made her very happy, also burst into a gay snatch of song.
Aunt Pen and Capt. Allan were late for breakfast. When the others had
almost finished they came in from a brisk walk through the park, with
red cheeks and amazing appetites.

Aunt Pen, dropping into the chair next to Pat, slipped a roll of paper
into her hand and whispered:

"There’s something that belongs to you, Patsy! I’m ashamed that I didn’t
return it before.  But now you can write the last verse!"

Pat, immensely curious, peeped at the paper.  It was the lost ballad!
And what _did_ Aunt Pen mean about the last verse?  Both Aunt Pen and
Capt. Allan were looking at her with eyes full of laughter. Pat felt her
color creeping to her eyebrows and crushed the innocent verses in her
hand.  But Aunt Pen checked her rising indignation.

"Patsy, dear, I found ’The Secret Sorrow’ on the floor of the library
one night after we had had a pow-wow.  I recognized the heroine--by a
guilty conscience, I guess--my hair is not exactly ’of raven hue’ or my
eyes ’pellucid blue’!  But I loved it, my dear, and I tucked it away,
for I couldn’t bear to have you write the sad ending that was coming!
_What_ if you had made her thrust a steel dagger into her breast!  Or
have had her leap from one of those mighty crags over which the knight,
her brother hunted!"

Capt. Allan had been furiously scribbling some words on the back of an
envelope.  Now he looked up, very seriously.

"Will you forgive Aunt Pen if I write the last verse for you?" he asked,
and then, not waiting for an answer, read with dramatic emphasis:

    "Back came the lover, wise and bold,
    To snatch his lady, grown cross and old,
    To a mountain cave he’ll carry his prey,
    And there they’ll be happy for ever and aye!"

Everyone laughed at Pat’s disgust.

"_I_ think that’s very silly and Aunt Pen _isn’t_ cross and old a bit
and----" she stopped suddenly. "Do you mean that’s _true_?" she
demanded.

It was Aunt Pen now who grew very red.  But she nodded and turned toward
her brother.

"_We_ have a surprise!  A long time ago Will and I were engaged--my last
year in college!  Then we let foolish things come between us and we have
lost a good many years of happiness, but----"

"Now we’re going to make up for it!" put in Capt. Allan.  "And I won’t
be lonely in that place in the mountains, after all!"

"Oh, Aunt Pen, I’m so glad!" and Pat threw two strong young arms around
Penelope’s neck. Everyone talked at once.  Renée, looking at Emile and
then at the other happy faces about her, thought that all the joy in the
world must have crowded there within the four walls of the sunny
dining-room!

"It’ll be just as though we were really related," she put in, shyly.
"For I’ll always feel that Capt. Allan _is_ my guardian and Emile
belongs to me and Pat belongs to Aunt Pen!"

"Don’t leave _me_ out, Mouse!"

"Oh, no!" and Renée’s contrition was tragic. "For you are the very best
man in the world and belong to all of us!"

Pat, who had been performing a sort of ceremonial dance among them all,
stopped in dismay.

"Oh, Aunt Pen, _what_ about school?"

"Then you will be sorry to lose your teacher, Patsy?  But it is almost
the first of May and with a little home study you girls can get along.
Anyway, mother will be here to decide what is best."

Pat’s face was serious.

"I am glad mother’s coming home!  And Celia, too!  But I _have_ loved
our school, Aunt Pen!  You’ve made me just like to study all sorts of
things!  When mother comes I’m going to tease her to let us go next fall
to the Lincoln school with Peggy and Sheila and the other girls--and
then go to college."

Aunt Pen nodded toward Pat’s father.  Pat, of course, didn’t know that
she was trying to say: "There--_that’s_ a real girl talking--who wants
to be of some service, some day, in this world!"

Then Pat insisted that Capt. Allan tell them more about the old house in
the Adirondacks.

"Somehow, I can’t imagine him keeping you up there very long, Penelope,"
laughed her brother. "He doesn’t know you as well as I do!"

Capt. Allan described to them the old rambling house built half way up
the wooded slope of Cobble Mountain.  From its many windows, he
remembered, a wonderful view could be had of a sweep of valley, river
and surrounding slopes.

"Will has promised me that I may go on with all my experiments and fads
just the same!  There’ll be lots of room there!" she retorted to her
brother. "And some day I shall turn Cobble House into a school for
girls."

"Like _our_ school, Aunt Pen?"

"Yes, and I hope that all my girls there will work as faithfully as you
have, Pat!"

"And I’ll be the man-of-all-work around the place and chief executioner,
when you need one!" declared Capt. Allan, mischievously.

Mr. Everett shook hands gravely with his sister.

"All I say is success to you--my dear, whatever you try to do!"

There seemed to be so much to talk about that no one wanted to break up
the little circle.  However, the hands of the old clock over the
fireplace were climbing rapidly toward noon and Renée was eager to take
Emile to the grandmother’s.  Pat begged to go, too.  As they started
away, Renée holding tightly to Emile’s hand, Aunt Pen, watching the boy,
wiped a suspicion of a tear from her eye.

Capt. Allan saw it and answered the thought that was in her mind.

"He’s a brave boy and has a strong will--he’ll learn to do his work with
his one arm!  But before anything else he must stay in the open until he
has built up his strength and wiped from his mind forever the horror of
all he has gone through!"

The old stone house did not look at all ugly and gloomy in the bright
morning sunshine!  And for Renée and Emile it took on a new interest--it
was to be their home!  There were signs of life, too, about the place.
The windows had been opened and from the back of the house came sounds
of vigorous beating.  As they walked slowly up the brick path Renée
suddenly darted in among the wild honeysuckle growing close on either
side of the door.

"Emile--_see_!  A daffodil!"

There it was--lifting its bright head through the tangle of undergrowth
as though it knew that sunshine and happiness had come to the neglected
home!  And there were more, too, and Renée, hunting eagerly, found
hundreds of tiny blades of bright green grass and beyond a rose vine
climbing toward the old stone wall.

"Oh, it _is_ going to be nice!" she cried to Emile. "We can have a
garden like Susette’s."

Emile, with the soul of an artist, was already mentally transforming the
entire house and garden. It would be very pleasant to do nothing for
awhile but work out among the growing things with Renée! Mrs. Forrester,
eager to see again her "little flower," had roused Elsbeth very early in
the morning that she might be in readiness.  She had insisted upon
putting on her old black silk dress; she had folded a soft net fichu
around her neck and had fastened it with a lavender ribbon.

"Now _don’t_ stand and stare at me like that silly," she had rebuked the
old servant.  "Can’t you understand that I’m not sick any more?  Watch
me!" and holding her head very high she walked slowly across the room
out into the hall.

So it was in the living room they found her. God had given back to her
so much that she was not even startled when Renée very simply told of
Emile’s coming.  She could not speak a word as she reached up her arms
to embrace the boy, for he looked so much like his mother that it
brought a choking sob to her throat.

And if in Emile’s heart there had lingered any hardness toward the
grandmother it disappeared when he saw her!  She looked so little and
fragile, sitting in the big walnut chair, that it roused all the
chivalry in the boy’s soul.  He kissed her tenderly on each wrinkled
cheek.

Then Pat was introduced; Renée had to tell, too, of finding the
daffodils.  Elsbeth, her face twisted into a comical expression of
bewilderment, listened in the doorway, and from all parts of the house
there was a rumble of furniture and the tread of feet.

"In a very little time this place will all be changed," Mrs. Forrester
said, patting Renée’s hand.  "We will have flowers growing all around
us--and we will be very happy, we three!"

It was a very busy day!  Emile must be admitted to the secrets of the
Eyrie; he was shown the account book of LaDue and Everett and some of
Renée’s work.  Then he had to hear the story of Paddy and the lost
formulas, of Sheila and Peggy and Garrett and Hill-top, of Troop Six and
the scout work, and of Keineth and the coming party!  Surely never in
the world did a tongue wag faster that Pat’s nor did eyes shine more
brightly than Renée’s as Emile was made acquainted with all that had
brought so much happiness into her life during the past winter.

Downstairs Aunt Pen, Capt. Allan and Daddy were talking, too.  Pat with
her remarkable instinct for sensing "when plans were in the making"
exclaimed, as she entered the room:

"Daddy Everett, you look _just_ as though you had a secret!"

Her Daddy assumed a very important air.

"I have!  I have a surprise!  You’ve all had one but me!  And I am sure
you will think that _mine_ is best of all!  And I thought of it all
myself!"

"Oh, what _is_ it?  If much more happens I’ll be walking on my _head_!
What _can_ it be!"  Pat looked from one to another.  "Aunt Pen, you’re
giggling so silly I believe it’s something about your wedding! It is!
_It is_!  May Ren and I be bridesmaids, Aunt Pen, and wear gauzy dresses
and big hats and carry bouquets?"

"You’re warm, Pat!" teased her father.

"_Please_, Aunt Pen!" implored Pat in an agony of curiosity.

"Mother has suggested in a note to me that your Aunt Pen and I bring you
and Renée to Atlantic City and meet them there----"

"But _I’m_ determined to make Aunt Pen marry me right away, you see; I
can’t even wait for gauzy hats and big dresses--we’ve wasted so much
happiness, already!" cut in Capt. Allan.

"So _I_ said let’s _all_ go and meet Mother, and we can have the wedding
down there where the breaking waves dash high----"

"Oh, _Daddy, Daddy_, that’s the _bestest, grandest_ surprise of all!  A
_wedding_ in Atlantic City!  Only the waves can’t dash very high--’cause
there’s no stern and rock-bound coast--only sand!  But we’ll trim the
room with flowers----"

"And you and Renée _shall_ be my bridesmaids, no matter what dresses you
wear!"

"And Emile shall be my best man!"

"And, oh, _won’t_ mother and Celia be surprised? You see _I_ had guessed
all about Capt. Allan because Aunt Pen acted so funny when we spoke of
him, but Mother doesn’t know a single thing!  Was there ever such a
nice, jolly wedding planned before?"

Renée’s face was a little clouded.  It would be wonderful to go to the
sea, but ought she and Emile to leave the little grandmother?

"Bless you, she shall come, too!  Ocean air will finish up the good work
that her happiness has started!  I can’t have my plan spoiled--not even
if we have to charter a whole train!"

Pat wanted to begin packing immediately.

"When will we go, Daddy?" she cried.

"Day after to-morrow," he answered with the promptness of decision that
was characteristic.

"I’m glad that you give me _that_ much time! I’ll have to get ’something
old and something new, something borrowed and something blue,’" laughed
the bride-to-be.

"And we can go to Keineth’s party and tell them all about it!"  Pat was
silent for a moment.  Then going to her Daddy she laid her cheek
coaxingly against his arm.

"Daddy, as long as there are so many going--and weddings are jollier
when there are a lot of people--can’t we take Sheila, too?  She’s never
been any further from the city than Hill-top and she’s always so
contented and happy and’s never teasing for things the way I am!  Just
_think_ how she’d look when she saw the ocean!  I have so much more fun
than she does, Daddy, I’d just as soon stay home if she could go in my
place!"

And Pat, thinking how Sheila’s face _would_ look when she first beheld
the great sweep of deep, blue sea, was very much in earnest.

Mr. Everett patted the pleading face.  He did not smile for he had been
deeply touched by Pat’s generosity.

"Yes, daughter, Sheila shall go, too."

"Oh, Daddy, you _are_ the best daddy in the world!  Let’s run straight
over and tell her, Ren! _Think_ how happy she’ll be!"

From the library window Aunt Pen and Mr. Everett watched the two girls,
arms interlocked, swing down the walk that led from the Everett house to
the street.  There was pride in Aunt Pen’s face as she watched.  Her
girls had learned generosity and unselfishness as well as Latin and
Algebra! And they had found, too, the joy of fellowship! They were
hurrying now to share their happiness!

Mr. Everett was thinking the same thoughts as his sister, but looking
slyly at her from the corner of his eye, he repeated teasingly:

    "Mary, Mary, quite contrary, how does your garden grow?
    Silver bells and cockle shells----"


Aunt Pen laughingly interrupted: "And larkspur all in a row!  But won’t
this world’s garden be richer and more beautiful for healthy, happy
girls like ours, Daddy Everett?"



           *      *      *      *      *      *      *      *



                         *THE SUNNY BOY SERIES*

                        *By RAMY ALLISON WHITE*


Children!  Meet Sunny Boy, a little fellow with big eyes and an
inquiring disposition who finds the world at large a wonderful place to
live in.  There is always something doing when Sunny Boy is around.

In the first book of the series he visits his grandfather in the country
and learns of many marvelous things on a farm, and in the other books
listed below he has many exciting adventures which every child will
enjoy reading about.

SUNNY BOY IN THE COUNTRY
SUNNY BOY AT THE SEASHORE
SUNNY BOY IN THE BIG CITY
SUNNY BOY IN SCHOOL AND OUT
SUNNY BOY AND HIS SCHOOLMATES
SONNY BOY AND HIS GAMES
SUNNY BOY IN THE FAR WEST
SUNNY BOY ON THE OCEAN
SUNNY BOY WITH THE CIRCUS
SUNNY BOY AND HIS BIG DOG
SUNNY BOY IN THE SNOW
SUNNY BOY AT WILLOW FARM
SUNNY BOY AND HIS CAVE
SUNNY BOY AT RAINBOW LAKE

                *GROSSET & DUNLAP, PUBLISHERS, NEW YORK*





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