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´╗┐Title: Betty Wales, Sophomore
Author: Dunton, Edith K. (Edith Kellogg)
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Betty Wales, Sophomore" ***

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[Illustration: THE "SHOW" WAS A TREMENDOUS SUCCESS]

BETTY WALES, SOPHOMORE
A STORY FOR GIRLS

BY MARGARET WARDE

Author of
"Betty Wales, Freshman"
"Betty Wales, Junior"
"Betty Wales, Senior"
"Betty Wales, B.A."


Illustrated by
EVA M. NAGEL

1905



CONTENTS

CHAP
       INTRODUCTION
    I  MOVING IN
   II  ELEANOR'S FRESHMAN
  III  PARADES AND PARTIES
   IV  ELEANOR WATSON, AUTHORESS
    V  POINTS OF VIEW
   VI  ON AMBITION
  VII  ON TO MIDYEARS
 VIII  THE "FIRST FOUR"
   IX  THE COMPLICATIONS OF LIFE
    X  IN THE "ARGUS" SANCTUM
   XI  A PROBLEM IN ETHICS
  XII  A BRIEF FOR THE DEFENSE
 XIII  VICTORY OR DEFEAT
  XIV  A DISTINGUISHED GUEST
   XV  DISAPPOINTMENTS
  XVI  DORA CARLSON'S "SUGARING-OFF"
 XVII  A MAY-DAY RESOLUTION
XVIII  TRIUMPHS AND TROUBLES
  XIX  GOOD-BYES



ILLUSTRATIONS

THE "SHOW" WAS A TREMENDOUS SUCCESS

"DON'T PUT THAT GREEN VASE THERE"

"WELL," SAID MISS FERRIS, "THAT WON'T BE
NEW WORK"

"LET US MAKE A FAIR START," HE SAID

THE GREEN LINE WAS SHOUTING ITSELF HOARSE

ELEANOR DID NOT ANSWER

"NEVER MIND THAT NOW," SAID BETTY



INTRODUCTION

Readers who did not make the acquaintance of Betty Wales and her friends
while they were freshmen may like to know that there were nine girls in
all who spent their first year together at Mrs. Chapin's. Two of them,
however, took very little part in the life of the house and left college
at the end of the year. Katherine Kittredge, "of Kankakee," was the fly-
away of the group, Rachel Morrison its steadiest, strongest member. Shy,
sensitive Roberta Lewis found her complement in a volatile little
sophomore, the only one in the house, named Mary Brooks. Mary had a
talent for practical jokes and original methods of entertainment, and
supplied much of the fun and frolic at the Chapin house. It was she who
put Betty's picture into the sophomore "grind book," who let out the
secret of the Mountain Day mishap, and who frightened not only the Chapin
house freshmen but the whole class with an absurd "rumor" of her own
invention. Helen Adams, Betty's roommate, was a forlorn, awkward little
body, who came to college expecting to study all the time, and was amazed
and disappointed at what she considered the frivolity of her companions.
Betty Wales, in particular, with her fascinating, merry ways, her love of
fun, and her easygoing fashion of getting through her work, was a
revelation to Helen. She began by placing her roommate rather scornfully
in the category of pretty girls, who, being pretty, can afford to be
stupid, and ended by loving her dearly, and fully appreciating what Betty
had done to make her more like other girls and so happier in her
environment.

In spite of her beauty and cleverness, Eleanor Watson was not a favorite
with the Chapin house girls. She was snobbish and overbearing, intent
upon making herself prominent in class and college affairs, and utterly
regardless of the happiness of other people, as well as of the rules and
moral standards of Harding. Betty, who was unreasonably fond of Eleanor,
though she recognized her faults, unconsciously exerted a great deal of
influence over her. How she finally managed at the instigation of her
upper-class friend, Dorothy King, and with the help of Miss Ferris, a
very lovable member of the faculty, to extricate Eleanor Watson from an
extremely unpleasant position, and finally to make her willing and even
eager to finish her course at Harding, is told at length in "Betty Wales,
Freshman." There are also recorded many of the good times that she and
her house-mates and a few other friends had during the first of their
four happy years at Harding College.

The story of what Betty did at Harding and elsewhere will be found
continued in "Betty Wales, Junior," "Betty Wales, Senior," and "Betty
Wales, B.A."

Margaret Warde.



CHAPTER I

MOVING IN


Betty Wales sat down on the one small bare spot on the floor of her new
room at the Belden House, and looked about her with a sigh of mingled
relief and weariness.

"Well," she remarked to the little green lizard, who was perched jauntily
on a pile of pillows, "anyhow the things are all out of the trunks and
boxes, and I suppose after a while they'll get into their right places."

She looked at her watch. Quarter to eight,--that left just about two
hours before ten o'clock. Somebody rapped on the door.

"Come in," sang Betty.

It was Eleanor Watson. Betty leaped over a motley collection of cups and
saucers, knocked down a Japanese screen--which fortunately landed against
a bed, instead of on the cups and saucers--and caught Eleanor in her
arms.

"Isn't it great to be back?" she said when she could speak, meanwhile
setting up the screen again, and moving trunk-trays so they might sit
down on the bed. "Are you settled, Eleanor?"

"A little," said Eleanor, surveying Betty's quarters with amusement.
"Quite settled compared to this, I should say. Why do you take everything
out at once, Betty?"

"Oh, then they're all right where I can get at them," returned Betty
easily. "I hate to keep stopping to fish something out of the bottom of a
box that I haven't unpacked."

"I see," laughed Eleanor. "Did you have a lovely summer?"

"Perfectly lovely. I can swim like a fish, Eleanor, and so can Emily
Davis. You don't know her much, do you? But you must. She's lots of fun.
Did you have a good time too?"

"Beautiful," said Eleanor, eagerly. "Father is coming east before long to
see Jim and me, and he and Jim are coming on together from Cornell.
You'll help me entertain them, won't you, Betty?"

"I should think I would," Betty was saying heartily, when there was
another bang on the door and Rachel and Katherine appeared. Then there
was more leaping over teacups, more ecstatic greetings, and more
readjustment of Betty's belongings to make room for the newcomers.

"Where's Helen?" demanded Rachel, when everybody was seated.

"Coming the first thing to-morrow morning," explained Betty. "You see she
lives so near that she can come down at the last minute."

"It's lucky she's not here now," laughed Katherine. "There's no room for
her, to say nothing of her things."

"I should think not," agreed Betty, tragically. "Girls, these campus
rooms are certainly the smallest places! This isn't half as big as ours
at Mrs. Chapin's. And see the closet!" She picked her way across the
room, and threw open a door, disclosing a five-by-three cupboard. "I ask
you how we're going to get all our clothes into that."

"Helen hasn't many clothes," suggested Katherine, cheerfully.

"She has plenty to put on half those hooks," answered Betty, with
finality, closing the door on the subject, and coming back to sit between
Eleanor and Rachel.

"Isn't the Chapin house crowd scattered this year?" said Katherine. "Let
me see. You and Helen and Mary Brooks are here. Has Mary come yet?"

Betty shook her head. "Her steamer isn't due till to-morrow morning.
Didn't you know she'd been in Ireland all summer?"

"Won't it be fun to hear her tell about it?" put in Rachel.

"You three here," went on Katherine, intent on her census, "and you're at
the Hilton, aren't you, Eleanor?"

"Yes," answered Eleanor with a grimace. "I wanted to be here, of course,
but Miss Stuart wouldn't manage it. Which house are you in, Rachel?"

"I'm off the campus," answered Rachel, quietly, "at the little white
house just outside the gate. It's a dear, quaint place, and delightfully
quiet. Of course, I'd rather have been on the campus, but father couldn't
afford it this year."

"Make way, make way for us!" sang a noisy chorus out in the hall. There
were shouts and shrieks and bangs and more shrieks, and then the din died
away suddenly into an ominous stillness that evidently heralded the
approach of some dreaded power.

"It's lucky one of us lives in a quiet place, where the rest of us can
take refuge occasionally," said Eleanor.

"Isn't it?" chimed in Katherine. "I'm at the Westcott myself, and I never
heard anything like the racket there was, when the girls began to come in
from the eight o'clock train."

"Our crowd seems to have been on hand early," said Rachel.

"You know Betty's father doesn't like her to travel alone," jeered
Katherine, "especially after dark. Did he telegraph the registrar again
this year, Betty?"

"Please don't," begged Betty, blushing prettily. "Weren't we green little
freshmen though, at this time last fall?"

"And isn't it fun to be coming back as sophomores?" asked Rachel.

"We haven't quite finished with the residences of the Chapin house
girls," said Eleanor. "How about Roberta?"

"She's going to stay on at Mrs. Chapin's, I think," answered Katherine.
"She couldn't get in here at the Belden, and she and Mary want to be
together."

"And the Riches aren't coming back, I believe," added Rachel. "And now I,
for one, must go back and finish unpacking."

Katherine and Eleanor rose too, astonished to find how fast the evening
had slipped away, and how little time there was left in which to get
ready for the busy "first day" ahead of them. When they had all three
gone, Betty lay back on the bed, her head pillowed on her arms, to rest
for a moment longer. She was tired. The journey from Rockport had been
hot and disagreeable, and some of her box covers had been nailed on with
disheartening thoroughness. But besides being tired, she was also very
happy--too happy to turn her attention again at once to the trying
business of getting settled. In spite of the "perfectly lovely" summer at
the seashore, she was glad to be back at Harding. She was passionately
fond of the life there. There had been only one little blot to mar her
perfect enjoyment of freshman year, and that was Eleanor's unexplainable
defection. And now Eleanor had come back, fascinating as ever, but
wonderfully softened and sweetened. The old hauteur had not left her
face, but it was in the background, veiled, as it were, by a
determination to be different,--to meet life in a more friendly spirit,
and to make the most of it and of herself. Betty could have hugged her
for her cordial greetings to Katherine and Rachel, and for the kindly
little speech about Rachel's boarding-place. The other girls had been
tactful too, ready to meet Eleanor half-way and to let bygones be
bygones. It was all "just lovely."

Betty was picking herself up, intent upon clearing Helen's half of the
room at least, before she went to bed, when another tap sounded on the
door. "Come in," she called eagerly, expecting to see Roberta, or perhaps
Alice Waite, or even Dorothy King. Instead, a tall, stately stranger
opened the door, and entering, closed it again after her.

"May I come in and talk to you?" she asked. "I live next door--that is,
my trunks aren't here, so I haven't begun living there to any great
extent as yet. Don't stop working. I'll sit and watch; or I'll help, if I
can. There seems to be plenty doing."

And she sat down calmly in the place that Betty had just vacated.

Betty was not easily embarrassed, but the strange girl's perfect
composure and ease of manner disconcerted her. She did not know many
upper classmen in the Belden House, and she could not remember ever
having seen this one before. And yet she surely was not a freshman.

"Yes, I--I am busy," she stammered. "I mean, I ought to be. But I've had
callers all the evening long. Oh, dear! I didn't mean that. I'm truly
glad to have you come, and I will keep on working, if you don't mind."

The stranger's eyes twinkled. "Which class are you?" she asked.

"Sophomore," answered Betty promptly. "And you're an upper-class girl,
aren't you?"

The stranger shook her head.

"No?" questioned Betty in bewilderment. "Why, I'm sure you're not a
sophomore--I know all the girls in my class at least by sight,--and of
course you're not a freshman."

"Why not?" demanded the new girl gaily.

Betty laughed. "I know," she said, "but I don't believe I can explain.
You seem too much at home, and too sure of yourself somehow. Now, are you
a freshman?"

The stranger laughed in her turn. "Technically, yes," she said, "really,
no. This is my first year here, but I've passed up all the French and
Spanish and Italian that the institution offers, and some of the German.
I think myself that I ought to rank as a graduate student, but it seems
there are some little preliminaries in the way of Math, and Latin and
Logic that I have to take before I can have my sheepskin, and there's
also some history and some English literature which the family demand
that I take. So I don't know just how long I may hang on here."

"How--how funny!" gasped Betty. "Where do you live?"

"Bohemia, New York," answered the new girl promptly.

Betty looked puzzled.

"Why, you see," explained her mysterious friend, "it's no use saying one
lives in New York. Everybody--all sorts and conditions of people--live in
New York. So I always add Bohemia."

"Bohemia?" repeated Betty helplessly.

"Yes, Bohemia--the artistic New York. We have a studio and some other
rooms up at the top of one of those queer old houses on Washington
Square--you know it,--funny, ramshackle old place. Father has afternoons,
and mother and I feed the lions and the lesser animals with tea and
strawberry jam. It's very good fun, living in Bohemia."

"And how did you learn so many languages?"

"Oh, a little from tutors, but mostly from living abroad. We're not in
Bohemia, New York, very much. We have a villa near Sorrento--awfully out-
at-elbows, but still a villa; and we've been in Spain a good deal, and
once father illustrated a book on Vienna--that was where I learned my
German. Let me see--oh, it's French that I haven't accounted for. Well, we
have some French relatives. They love to have us visit them at their
funny old chateau, because mother mends their moth-eaten tapestries
beautifully, and father paints the family portraits."

"And what do you do?" inquired Betty, much impressed.

"I? Oh, I teach the girls American slang. It doesn't amount to much,
teaching French girls slang, because they never have any chance to get it
off on the men. But they always like it."

"Don't you know any other languages?"

"No--why, yes I do, too. I know Bengali. When Mademoiselle asked me that
very question this noon I forgot Bengali. I learned one winter in India.
I guess I'll telephone her--or no--I'd rather see her august face when I
remind her of my humble linguistic existence. My name is Madeline Ayres.
Now it's your turn," ended the new girl suddenly.

"But I haven't anything to tell," objected Betty, "except that I'm Betty
Wales, in the sophomore class, and live in Cleveland. Please go on. It
sounds exactly like a fairy tale."

Madeline Ayres shook her head. "It may now," she said, "but when you come
to think it over, you'll decide that I talk too much. Don't put that
green vase there. It belongs on the bookcase. It just litters your desk
and spoils the effect of that lovely water-color. Do you mind my telling
you?"

It was ten o'clock when Miss Ayres took her departure. Between them, she
and Betty had made astonishing progress toward bringing order out of the
chaos that had reigned supreme an hour earlier.

"It's so pretty, too," declared Betty, alone once more with the little
green lizard. "Whatever she touches goes right into place. I suppose
that's because she's always lived with artists. Oh, dear, I wish I could
do something interesting!"

There was a tap on the door, and Betty sprang for her light, for she had
the new girl's terror of breaking the ten-o'clock rule, which is supposed
by outsiders to be kept to the letter on the campus. However, it wasn't
the matron, but only Nita Reese, who had a single room on the fourth floor
and had come to say that the three B's were spending the night with her,
and that they wished Betty to hurry right along and help eat up the food.

[Illustration: "Don't put that green vase there."]

"Lights don't count on the first night, they say," explained Nita, who,
like Betty, had spent her freshman year off the campus. "So we've got to
make the most of it."

"But what are the B's doing over here?" demanded Betty in perplexity.
"Have they moved away from the Westcott?"

Nita laughed. "No indeed, but the rest of their floor hadn't come, and
they felt lonely and came over to see me. They say their matron won't
miss them the first night, and I'm sure I hope ours won't find them here.
They seem to think it's all right."

Betty pulled on her gray kimono, brushed the hair out of her eyes, and
followed Nita through the hall and up-stairs to the fourth floor. There
was a wilderness of trunks in the narrow passages. Every girl must have
three at least, Betty thought. And their owners appeared to be in no
haste about unpacking; the serious business of the hour was conversation.
They stopped to talk with their neighbors to greet newcomers, to help or
hinder other workers with questions and suggestions. Betty and Nita felt
lost and rather friendless in the big house, and were strangely glad to
see one familiar face down the corridor and to get a brisk little nod
from a senior hurrying past them on the stairs. But on the fourth floor
the B's pranced gaily out to meet them.

"Poor little lambs, just come on the campus," sang Babe.

"'Fraid to death of the matron," jeered Bob.

"We've come to cheer you up," ended Babbie.

"Girls," said Betty, when the five-pound box of chocolates that Bob's
father had thoughtfully provided was nearly empty, "wouldn't it be
dreadful if we didn't know each other or anybody? How did we ever manage
last fall?"

"Oh, you can always do what you have to," returned Bob practically.

"One mattress is too narrow for four, though," announced Babbie, somewhat
irrelevantly. "I'm going down to sleep with you, Betty. Come along."

Thus ended Betty's first evening on the campus.



CHAPTER II

ELEANOR'S FRESHMAN


It was early in the afternoon of the great day of the sophomore reception
that Betty Wales ran up two flights of stairs at the Hilton House, and
bursting into Eleanor's "extra-priced" corner single, flung herself, hot
and breathless, into Eleanor's Morris chair.

"Oh, but I'm tired," she said, as soon as she could speak. "And dirty,"
she added, looking ruefully at the green stains on the front of her pink
linen suit.

"You also seem to be in a hurry," observed Eleanor, who was always vastly
entertained by Betty's impetuous, haphazard methods.

"I am," said Betty. "We're awfully behind with the decorating, and I
ought to rush back to the gym. this very minute, but I--" she paused, then
finished quickly. "I wanted to see you."

"That was nice of you," said Eleanor absently, sorting over the pages of
a theme she had just finished copying. "I helped wind the balcony
railings with yellow cheese-cloth all the morning, and I thought I'd
better finish this before I went back. I'm bound not to get behind with
my work this year."

"Good for you," returned Betty, cheerfully. "But I'm glad you're through
now. I was hoping you would be."

"Did the chairman send you after me?" asked Eleanor, fastening her sheets
together, and writing her name on the first one.

"Oh, no," said Betty, quickly. "She didn't at all. I wanted to see you
myself."

Eleanor was too preoccupied to notice Betty's embarrassment. "Who is it
that you're going to take to-night?" she asked. "You told me, but I've
forgotten, and I want to put her name on my card."

"I asked Madeline Ayres--" began Betty.

"You lucky thing!" broke in Eleanor. "She's the most interesting girl in
her class, I think, and she's going to be terribly popular. She's a class
officer already, isn't she?"

"Yes, secretary. I'm glad you like her, because I came over to see if you
wouldn't take her, in my place."

"I?" said Eleanor, in perplexity. "Why, I'm going to take Polly Eastman,
--Jean's freshman cousin, you know. Do you mean you want me to take Miss
Ayres too? Are you sick, Betty?"

"No," said Betty, hastily, "but Polly Eastman is. She's got the mumps or
the measles or something. Jean told me about it, and an A.D.T. boy was
just leaving a note for you--from Polly, I suppose--when I came up.
She's gone to the infirmary."

"Poor child," said Eleanor. "She missed the freshman frolic, and she's
been counting on to-night. I had such a lovely card for her, too. Pity
it's got to go to waste. Well, she can have her violets all the same.
I'll go down and telephone Clarke's to send them to the infirmary. But I
don't see yet why you want me to take Miss Ayres, Betty."

"Because," said Betty, "we've just discovered a left-over freshman. She
lives way down at the end of Market Street, and she entered late, and
somehow her name wasn't put on the official list. But this morning she
was talking to a girl in her Math. division, and when the other girl
spoke about the reception this one--her name is Dora Carlson--hadn't
heard of it. So the other freshmen very sensibly went in and told the
registrar about it, and the registrar sent word to the gym. And then Jean
said that her cousin was ill, so I came over to see if you'd take
Madeline, and let me take Miss Carlson. Now please say 'yes' right off,
so that I can go and change my dress and hurry down and ask the poor
little thing."

Eleanor got up and came over to sit on the arm of the Morris chair.
"Betty Wales," she said, with mock severity, but with an undertone of
very real compunction in her voice, "do you think I'd do that? Have I
ever been quite so mean as you make me out? Did you really think I'd take
Miss Ayres and let you take Miss Carlson? You're absurd, Betty,--you are
absurd sometimes, you know."

"Yes, I suppose I am," began Betty, "but--"

"It's perfectly simple," broke in Eleanor. "You go straight back to the
gym. and work for the two of us, while I go and invite Miss Carlson to go
with me to the reception. Where did you say she lives?"

"Number 50 Market Street. Oh, Eleanor, will you really take her? She's
probably--oh, not a bit your kind, you know," ended Betty, doubtfully.

"Trust me to give her the time of her life all the same," said Eleanor,
decidedly, putting on her hat.

"Oh, Eleanor, you are a gem," declared Betty, excitedly. "I'll go and get
Helen to take your place at the gym. Good-bye." And she was off.

As Eleanor went down the steps of the Hilton House, she looked
regretfully over at the gymnasium. They were dumping another load of
evergreen boughs at the door. The horse was restless. It took three girls
to hold him, and three more, with much shouting and laughter, to unload
the boughs. Through one window she could see Rachel and Alice Waite
stringing incandescent lights into Japanese lanterns. Katherine Kittredge
was standing behind them in her gym suit. She had evidently been hanging
lanterns along the rafters. It had been bad enough to stay at home and
copy her theme. Now the decorating would be finished and the fun almost
over, before she could get back. Eleanor shrugged her shoulders and
turned resolutely away, trying to remember whether Market Street was just
above or just below the station.

Before she had reached the campus gate, she heard some one calling her
name. It was Jean Eastman.

"What's your hurry?" panted Jean. "Did you get Polly's note? And why
aren't you at the gym.?"

"Yes, I got the note," answered Eleanor. "I'm more than sorry for Polly,
and for myself, too. I shall get back to the gym. as soon as I can, but I
have to ask another freshman to the reception first."

"Who?" demanded Jean.

"Miss Carlson," answered Eleanor simply.

"Oh, that! Don't you think, Eleanor, that you're getting a little
quixotic in your old age?"

Her scornful tone was very exasperating, and Eleanor straightened
haughtily. "I don't think either of us need worry about being too
charitable just yet awhile," she began. Then she caught herself up
sharply. "Don't let's get to bickering, Jean. You know I ought to ask
her, and you know how much I want to. But I'm going to do it, and I
expect every girl on my program to help make her have just as good a time
as if she were one of us." And Eleanor was off down the hill, leaving
Jean gazing amazedly after her.

Jean had no clue to the new Eleanor, whose strange toleration of the
world in general annoyed the "Hill girls" (as those who had come from the
Hill School were called) more than her high-handed attempts to run her
own set, and her eventual wrecking of its influence, had done the year
before. But the Hill girls appreciated Eleanor's ability, and they had
resolved among themselves to wait a little and see what happened, before
declaring open war.

Somebody came to call just before dinner, and Betty was consequently late
in dressing for the reception. But in the midst of her frantic efforts to
make her own toilette and help Helen with hers, she had time to wonder
what Dora Carlson was like and how she and Eleanor would get on together.
She knew that Eleanor was equal to any emergency, if she cared to exert
herself, but the question was: would Dora Carlson in the concrete arouse
the best--or the worst--of her nature? Betty loved Eleanor in spite of
everything, but she had to admit to herself that a timid little freshman
might infinitely prefer staying at home from the sophomore reception to
going in Eleanor's company, if she happened to be in a bad mood. And
furthermore, as Betty lost her temper over Helen's girdle, which would go
up in front and down behind, completely spoiling the effect of an
otherwise pretty evening dress, she was in a position to realize that
trying to help is by no means the soul-inspiring thing that it sometimes
seems in contemplation.

But she need not have worried about Dora Carlson, who, having lived alone
with her father on a farm in the environs of a little village in Ohio,
and kept house for him ever since she was twelve years old, was
abundantly able to take care of herself. She was not at all timid, though
she was not aggressive either, and she had a quaint way of expressing
herself that would have interested almost any one. But it was the frank
good-nature with which she accepted her eleventh hour invitation that
appealed most to Eleanor, newly alive to the charm that lies in
courageously making the best of a bad matter. For half an hour Eleanor
devoted herself to finding out something about Miss Carlson and to making
her feel at ease and happy in her company. Then she went off to order a
carriage and twice as many violets as she had sent to Polly Eastman, and
to find a maid who would press out her white mull dress,--this in spite
of her decision, an hour earlier, that the white mull was much too pretty
to waste on a promiscuous crush like the sophomore reception.

As a result of all these preparations, Dora Carlson arrived at the
gymnasium in a state of mind that she herself aptly compared to
Cinderella's on the night of her first ball. She had a keen appreciation
of the beautiful, and she had never seen any one so absolutely lovely as
Eleanor in evening dress. It was pleasure enough just to watch her, to
hear her talk to other people, and to feel that she--Dora Carlson--had
some part and lot in this fascinating being, who had suddenly appeared to
her as from another world. But Eleanor had no intention of keeping her
freshman in the background. All through the reception that preceded the
dancing she took her from group to group, introducing her to sophomores
whom she would dance with later and to prominent members of her own
class. Eleanor Watson might be considered odd and freakish by the Hill
girls, and very snobbish by the rest of the college; but nobody of either
persuasion cared to ignore her, when she chose to make advances. And
there was, besides, a good deal of curiosity about the short, dark little
freshman, with the merry brown eyes, the big, humorous mouth, and the
enormous bunch of Parma violets pinned to the front of her much-washed,
tight-sleeved muslin. Why in the world had the "snob of snobs" chosen to
bring her to the reception? Eleanor knew how to utilize this curiosity
for Miss Carlson's advantage. She took pains, too, to turn the
conversation to topics in which the child could join. She was determined
that, as far as this one evening went, the plucky little freshman from
Ohio should have her chance. Afterward her place in the college world
would of course depend largely on herself.

"Do you dance?" asked Eleanor, when the music for the first waltz began.
And when Miss Carlson answered with a delighted "yes," Eleanor, who always
refused to lead, and detested both crowds and "girl dances," resolutely
picked up her train and started off.

Betty Wales and Jean Eastman, who had taken their freshmen up into the
gallery, where they could look down at the dancers, saw her and exchanged
glances.

"More than she's ever done for me," said Jean, resignedly.

"Isn't it nice of her?" returned Betty, with enthusiasm.

And Jean, meditating on the matter later, decided shrewdly that Betty
Wales was somehow at the bottom of Eleanor's unexplainable change of
heart, and advised the Hill girls to make a determined effort to
monopolize Eleanor's time and interest, before she had become hopelessly
estranged from their counsels. But to all their attentions Eleanor paid
as little heed as she did to the persistent appeals of Paul West, a
friend at Winsted College, a few miles away, that she should give up
"slaving over something you don't care about and come over to our next
dance." To the Hill girls Eleanor gave courteous but firm denials, and
she wrote Paul West that once in three weeks was as often as she had time
for callers.

"And you really had a good time?" said Eleanor, riding down to Market
Street to see Miss Carlson home.

"Splendid!" said Miss Carlson, heartily. "I'm sorry your first partner
was sick, but I guess I enjoyed it fully as much as she would. Your
friends were all so nice to me."

"I'm glad of that," said Eleanor, relieved to find that Dora had not
apparently noticed Jean Eastman's insolent manner, nor the careless self-
absorption of one or two of her other partners. "And now that you've met
the girls," she added practically, "you mustn't let them forget you.
Making friends is one of the nicest things about college."

"Yes, isn't it?" responded the little freshman, quickly. "I quite agree
with you, but I don't expect to make any. I guess it's like other gifts.
It doesn't come natural to some people. But," she added, brightening, "I
came here to learn Greek and Latin, so that I can teach and support my
father in his old age. And the good time I've had to-night is enough to
last me for one while, I guess."

Eleanor put out a slim, white hand and caught Miss Carlson's hard, brown
one impetuously in hers, "Don't," she said. "That isn't the way things
are here. Good times don't have to last, because one always leads to
another. Why, I know another that's coming to you very soon. I've had a
good deal of company for dinner lately and I can't ask for a place again
right away, but the first Sunday that I can arrange it, you're coming up
to have dinner with me at the Hilton House. Will you?"

Jean Eastman had a great deal to say about Eleanor's freshman crush, as
she called Dora Carlson. It was foolish, she said, and not in good taste,
to send a bunch of violets as big as your head to a perfect stranger,
whom you never expected to see again. Later, after Dora's appearance at
the Hilton for Sunday dinner, Jean declared that it was a shame for
Eleanor to invite her up there and make her think she really liked her,
when it was only done for effect, and she would drop the poor child like
a hot coal the minute she felt inclined to.

Even Betty Wales failed to understand Eleanor's interest in the quaint
little freshman, and she and the other Chapin house girls rallied her
heartily about Miss Carlson's open and unbounded adoration.

"Please don't encourage the poor thing so," laughed Katherine, one day
not long after the reception. "Why, yesterday morning at chapel I looked
up in the gallery and there she was in the front row, hanging over the
railing as far as she dared, with her eyes glued to you. Some day she'll
fall off, and then think how you'll feel, when the president talks about
the terrible evils of the crush system, and stares straight at you."

Eleanor took their banter with perfect good-nature, and seemed rather
pleased than otherwise at Miss Carlson's devotion.

"I like her," she said stoutly. "That's why I encourage her, as you call
it. Now, Helen Adams doesn't interest me at all. She keeps herself to
herself too much. But Dora Carlson is so absolutely frank and
straightforward, and so competent and quick to see through things. She
ought to have been a man. Then she could go west and make her fortune. As
it is--" Eleanor shrugged her shoulders, in token that she had no
feasible suggestion ready in regard to Dora Carlson's future.

To Betty, in private, she went much further. "You don't know what you did
for me, Betty, when you made me ask that child to the reception. Nobody
ever cared for me, or trusted me, as she does--or for the reasons that
she does. I hope I can show her that I'm worth it, but it's going to be
hard work. And it will be a bad thing for her, and a worse thing for me,
if I fail."



CHAPTER III

PARADES AND PARTIES


It was surprising how well the girl from Bohemia fitted into the life at
Harding. She had never experienced an examination or even a formal
recitation until the beginning of her freshman term. She had seldom lived
three months in any one place, and she had grown up absolutely without
reference to the rules and regulations and conventions that meant so much
to the majority of her fellow-students. But she did not find the
recitations frightful, nor the simple routine of life irksome. She was
willing to tell everybody who cared to listen what she had seen of French
pensions, Italian beggars, or Spanish bullfights. It astonished her to
find that her experiences were unique, because she had always accepted
them as comparatively commonplace; but her pity for the girls who had
never been east of Cape Cod nor west of Harding,--there were two of them
at the Belden,--was quite untinged with self-congratulation.

She was very much amused and not a little pleased, by her election to the
post of class secretary.

"They did it because I passed up four languages," she explained to Betty.
"Somehow it got around--I'm sure I never meant to boast of it--and they
seemed to think they ought to show their appreciation. Nice of them,
wasn't it? But I fancy I shan't have a large international
correspondence. It would have been more to the point if they'd found out
whether I can write plainly." And the girl from Bohemia chuckled softly.

"What's the joke?" inquired Betty.

"Nothing," answered Madeline, "only I can't. Miss Felton made me spell
off every word of my Spanish examination paper, because she couldn't read
it, and I can't read my last theme myself," and she laughed again
merrily.

"Let's see it," demanded Betty, reaching for the paper at the top of the
pile on Madeline's desk.

"That's next week's," said Madeline. "I thought I'd do them both while I
was at it. But this week's is funnier."

"This week's" proved to be an absurd incident founded upon the
illegibility of Henry Ward Beecher's handwriting. It was cleverly told,
but the cream of its humor lay in the fact that Madeline's writing, if
not so bad as Mr. Beecher's, was certainly bad enough.

"Maybe Miss Raymond can make out what he really wrote, but I've forgotten
now, and I can't," said Madeline, tossing the theme back on the pile.
"And I didn't try to write badly either. It just happened."

Everything "just happened" with Madeline Ayres. Betty had said that
things fell into place for her, and people seemed to have a good deal the
same pleasant tendency. But if they did not, Madeline seldom exerted
herself to make them do her bidding. She admired hard work, and did a
good deal of it by fits and starts. But she detested wire-pulling, and
took an instant dislike to Eleanor Watson because some injudicious person
told her that Eleanor had said she was sure to be popular and prominent
at Harding.

"What nonsense!" she said, with a flash of scorn in her slumberous hazel
eyes. "How it spoils life to count up the chances like that! How it takes
the fun out of everything! The right way is to go ahead and enjoy
yourself, and work your prettiest, and take things when they come. They
always come--if you give them a little time," she added with a return of
her usual serenity.

So it was wholly a matter of chance that Madeline Ayres should have
succeeded in turning Helen Chase Adams into an athlete. Helen had come to
college with several very definite theories about life, most of which had
been shattered at the start. She had promptly revised her idea of a
college in conformity with what she found--and loved--at Harding. She had
decided, with some reluctance, that she had been mistaken in supposing
that all pretty girls were stupid. But she still believed that genius is
an infinite capacity for taking pains--laying no very stringent emphasis
on the "infinite"; and she was determined to prove the truth of that
bold, if somewhat elusive, assertion, at least to the extent of showing
that she, Helen Chase Adams, could make a thoroughgoing success of her
college course.

Success may mean anything. To Helen Adams it had meant, ever since the
day of the sophomore-freshman basket-ball game, the ability to write
something that would interest her classmates. It might be a song that
they would care to sing, or a little verse or a story that Miss Raymond
would read in her theme class, as she had Mary Brooks's version of the
Chapin house freshmen's letters home, and that the girls would listen to
and laugh over, and later discuss and compliment her upon. It was not
that she wanted the compliments, but they would measure her success.

Helen admired the girl from Bohemia because she could write--Betty had
told her about the Henry Ward Beecher theme,--also because she was quick
and keen, seldom hurried or worried out of her habitual serenity, and
finally because Betty admired her. Madeline Ayres, for her part, thought
of Helen chiefly as Betty's roommate, noticed the awkward little forward
tilt of her head just as she had noticed the inharmonious arrangement of
Betty's green vase, and commented upon the one in exactly the same spirit
that she had called attention to the other.

"You ought to go in for gym," she said one afternoon when she had
strolled into Betty's room and found only Helen. "It would straighten you
up, and make you look like a different person. I'm going in for it
myself, hard. I'm hoping that it will cure my slouchy walk, and turn me
out 'a marvel of grace and beauty,' as the physical culture
advertisements always say. Let's be in the same class, so that we can
practice things together at home."

"But I should take sophomore gym and you'd be with the freshmen,"
objected Helen.

"Why don't you take freshman gym too? You can't do the exercises any too
well, can you?"

"No," admitted Helen, frankly. "I cut a lot last year, and I couldn't do
them anyway."

"Don't you hate to struggle along when you're not ready to go?" asked the
girl from Bohemia.

Helen agreed that she did, and a moment later they were comparing
schedules and deciding upon a class which they could both join. It came
directly in the middle of the afternoon, and Helen Adams had always
considered gym at any hour a flagrant waste of time; but she did not say
so. There had been something in Madeline's outspoken reference to her
awkward carriage that, without hurting her, had struck home. Helen Chase
Adams aspired to literary honors at Harding; to this desire was suddenly
added a violent ambition to be what Madeline had termed "a marvel of
grace."

Betty was amazed, when she came in a little later, to find Helen trying
on her gym suit.

"What in the world are you doing?" she demanded. "Gym doesn't begin for
two weeks yet."

"I know it," said Helen, "but the neck of my suit never was right. It's
awfully unbecoming. How would you fix it?"

"You frivolous thing!" laughed Betty, squinting at the unbecoming neck
for a moment. "It's too high behind, that's all. Rip off the collar and
I'll cut it down. And I have an extra blue tie that you can have--it
needs a tie. But I thought you'd manage to get an excuse from gym, when
you hate it so."

"Perhaps I shan't hate it this year," ventured Helen, and neither then
nor later did Betty exactly understand her roommate's sudden devotion to
parallel bars, ropes, the running track, and breathing exercises. But in
time she did thoroughly appreciate the results of this physical training.
Helen Chase Adams was never exactly "a marvel of grace"; but she was
erect and supple, with considerable poise and dignity of bearing, when
she left Harding.

Another thing that Madeline Ayres "happened upon" was the Republican
parade. Presidential elections had been celebrated in various ways at
Harding. There had been banners spread to the breeze, songs and bells in
the night-watches, mock caucuses and conventions, campaign speeches, and
Australian balloting, before election time. But the parade was of
Madeline's invention.

It was about eight o'clock on the evening after election day that she
appeared in Mary Brooks's door--she had made friends with Mary almost as
easily as Betty had.

"I say," she said, dropping off her rain-coat and displaying a suit of
manly black beneath, to match the short brown wig above. "Let's have a
Republican parade. Who'll be the defeated candidate, in chains?"

Then she smiled broadly, displaying rows of even white teeth, and Mary
grasped the situation in a moment.

"I'm with you, Roosevelt," she said. "Nita Reese can be the defeated one.
I'll go and get her."

"And you be leader of the band," said Madeline. "You get combs and I'll
get tin pans."

"Let's take up a collection and have ice-cream later," proposed Mary.

"All right. I'll tell Betty to see to that. I've got to lead a strenuous
life finding clothes for Fairbanks," and "President Roosevelt"
disappeared down the hall.

Promptly at nine the parade assembled on the third floor corridor. The
president elect was drawn in an express wagon, except down the stairs
between floors. Out of consideration for the weight of his chains the
defeated candidate was allowed to ride in a barouche, alias a rocking-
chair. But he objected to riding backward, and the barouche would not
move the other way round, so he accepted the arm of the leader of the
band and walked, chains and all. The vice-president walked from the
start. At intervals of five minutes one or both of the successful
candidates made speeches. The defeated candidate wished to do likewise,
but the other two drowned him out. Between times the band, composed of
all the Belden House who could play on combs or who could find tin pans,
discoursed sweet music. Those who could not do either formed what Mary
Brooks called "a female delegation of the G.O.P. from Colorado," and
closed in the rear of the procession in a most imposing manner.

The vice-president elect wanted to make a tour of the campus houses, but
the twenty minutes to ten bell rang, and there was only time to eat the
ice cream.

The fact that Roberta Lewis, who happened to be in Mary's room when the
president made his first call, laughed herself into hysterics over the
parade, proves that it was funny. The further fact that she had firmly
decided to leave college at Christmas time, but changed her mind after
she had seen the parade, shows that even "impromptu stunts" are not
always as silly and futile as they seem.

But before the Republican parade came Hallowe'en, and Hallowe'en on the
campus is not a thing to pass over lightly. Each house has some sort of
party, generally in costume. There is a good deal of rivalry, and as
every house wishes to see and judge of the achievements of its neighbors,
the most interesting encounters are likely to take place midway between
houses, on the journeys from one party to another.

In Betty's sophomore year the Belden had a masquerade ball, under the
direction of Mary Brooks and the girl from Bohemia. The Hilton House
indulged in an old-fashioned country Hallowe'en, with a spelling match,
dancing to "Roger de Coverley" and "Money Musk," apple-bobbing and all
the other traditional methods of finding out about your lover on All
Saints' Eve. The Westcott gave a "spook" party, one of the other houses a
play, still another a goblin dance, to which everybody carried jack-o'-
lanterns, and the rest celebrated the holiday in other characteristic and
amusing ways. The campus resembled a cross between the midway at a
World's Fair and the grand finale of a comic opera; for ghosts consorted
there with ballet dancers and Egyptian princesses, spooks and goblins
linked arms with pirates in top-boots and rosy farmers' daughters in
calico, and nuns and Puritan maidens chatted familiarly with villainous
and fascinating gentlemen, who twirled black mustaches and threatened to
kiss them.

By nine o'clock everybody had seen everybody else, and congratulations
for successful costumes, clever acting, and thrilling ghost stories were
nearly all distributed. Toward the end of the evening there were a good
many small gatherings, met to talk over the fun in detail and enjoy the
numerous "spreads" that had been sent on from home,--for the college
girl's family becomes almost as expert in detecting a festival afar off
as is the girl herself.

Nan never let the Wales household forget its duty in such matters, and a
merry party was assembled in Betty's room to eat the salad, sandwiches,
jelly, olives, cake, candy, nuts, and fruit that her mother had provided.

"How time flies," observed Mary Brooks sagely, helping herself to another
sandwich. "I suppose you gay young sophomores don't realize it, but it's
almost Christmas time."

"And after Christmas, midyears," wailed a freshman from her corner.

"And after midyears what?

"'To be or not to be, that is the question,'" quoted Katherine
Kittredge loudly.

"But for sophomores who survive the midyears," went on Mary, "the next
thing of importance is the society elections."

"That's so," said Betty eagerly. "We can get into your wonderful
societies after midyears, if we're brainy enough. I'd forgotten all about
them."

"Then I'll wager you're about the only sophomore who hasn't thought of
them occasionally this fall," announced Mary. "And now I'm ready for some
candy."

"Tell us how to go to work to get into those societies, can't you?" asked
Bob from her place beside the salad bowl.

"Work hard and write themes," said Mary briefly, and the subject was
dropped.

Betty thought no more about Mary's remark then, but when she and Helen
were alone it came back to her.

"I suppose some girls do think about the societies a lot, and plan and
hope to get in," she said.

"I suppose so," returned Helen. "I shan't have to. I am perfectly safe to
stay out."

"Oh, so am I, as far as that goes," said Betty carelessly.

Helen, watching her closely, wondered how any popular girl could be as
unconscious as Betty seemed. She had overheard a Belden House senior
telling Mary Brooks that Betty Wales was sure to go into a society the
minute she became eligible. Helen opened her mouth to convey this
information to Betty, but stopped just in time.

"For she's not unhappy about it," thought Helen, "and it would be
dreadful if they should be mistaken. But they can't be," concluded Helen
loyally, watching Betty's face as she read a note that her mother had
tucked in among the nuts. Most pretty girls might be stupid, but the best
of everything was none too good for Betty Wales, so thought her roommate.



CHAPTER IV

ELEANOR WATSON, AUTHORESS


Eleanor Watson leaned back in her Morris chair, her eyes fixed absently
on the opposite wall, her forehead knit in deep thought. "Somehow there
isn't enough of me to go round," she reflected. "I don't see why,--the
other girls, no quicker or brighter than I, seem to get on all right. I
wonder why I can't. I can't give up everything in the way of recreation."

It was easy enough for an outsider to analyze her difficulty. Never
before had Eleanor tried to "go round," as she put it. She had always
done what she pleased, and let alone the things that did not appeal to
her. Now she had suddenly assumed responsibilities. She really wanted to
do her college work, all of it, as it deserved to be done, and to do it
honestly, without resort to any of the various methods of deception that
she had employed almost unconsciously hitherto. She wanted to make life
pleasanter for Dora Carlson. She wanted to write the long, newsy letters
to Jim and to Judge Watson; letters that brought characteristic replies,
confidential from Jim, genially humorous from her father, but both
equally appreciative and as different as possible from their cold, formal
notes of the year before. On the other hand, she wanted, both for selfish
and unselfish reasons, to enter into the social life of the college. She
had not lost her worldly ambitions in one summer; and she had not gained,
at a bound, the concentration of mind that enabled other girls to get
through an amazing amount of work and fun with perfect ease. She knew
infinitely less of the value of time than Betty Wales; she had less sense
of proportion than Helen Adams; and she was intensely eager to win all
sorts of honors.

So it was natural that she should stare at the wall opposite for some
little time before she came to the conclusion that sitting empty-handed,
thinking about her troubles, while the morning took to itself wings, was
not the best way to mend matters. And when she did finally come back to
earth, it was only to give an angry little exclamation, pick up a
magazine from the table at her elbow, and go to reading it. At the end of
half an hour, however, she tossed it aside, and sitting resolutely down
at her desk, wrote diligently until lunch time.

"Have you done your theme, Eleanor?" asked Alice Waite, overtaking her on
the way down to the dining-room.

Eleanor nodded curtly. "Did it between twelve and one."

"Really?" Alice's brown eyes grew big with admiration. "Oh, dear, it
takes me days to do mine, and when they're done they're nothing, and
yours are just fine. I do think it's queer--"

"Nonsense," interrupted Eleanor crossly. "You don't know anything about
my themes. You never saw one."

"Oh, but Betty Wales says--" began Alice eagerly.

"Now what does Betty Wales really know about it either?" inquired Eleanor
a trifle more amiably.

"Why, I don't know," returned Alice helplessly, "but I'm sure she's
right. Is your theme a story?"

"Yes."

"Oh, and is it about a man and a girl? Betty says your man-and-girl
stories are great, specially the love parts. Now I could no more write
love-making--"

"Well, there's no love-making in this one," interrupted Eleanor crossly,
"and it's not great at all. It's so poor that I'm not even sure I shall
hand it in. So please don't say any more about it."

All through luncheon Eleanor sat silent, wearing the absent, harassed
expression which meant that she was deciding something--something about
which her better and her worse selves disagreed.

Just as she was leaving the lunch-table, Christy Mason rushed up to her
in great excitement.

"Now, Eleanor," she began, "don't say you can't come, for we simply won't
let you off. It's a construction car ride. Meet at the Main Street corner
at four--right after Lab., if you have it. It's positively the last ride
of the season and an awfully jolly crowd's going,--Betty and Jean and
Kate Denise and the three B's, and Katherine Kittredge and Nita Reese,--
oh, the whole sophomore push, you know. Now, say you'll come, and give me
twenty cents for the supper."

"Give me time to breathe," laughed Eleanor. "Now seriously, Christy, why
should I go off on one of those dirty, hard, bumping flat-cars, on a
freezing night in November--"

"It's moonlight," interrupted Christy, "and we must have your guitar to
help with the singing."

"We shall nickname you dig, if you don't come," declared Bob, who had
danced up in the midst of the colloquy. "Now, how will you like that--Dig
Watson?"

Eleanor laughed good-naturedly. "Don't be ironical," she said. "I'll
come. I hadn't any intention of not coming. I only wanted to know why you
will persist in lugging those horrid flat-cars into all your fun."

"Stunty," explained Christy.

"Different," added Bob.

"But since you're coming, we can argue about it to-night," concluded
Christy, decidedly. "What I want now is your twenty cents."

It was half past three when Eleanor started over to the main building to
deposit her theme in one of the tin boxes which Miss Raymond and her
assistants opened at specified hours on specified days,--not, as Mary
Brooks explained, because they wanted what was in the boxes, but because
they wished to discover what was not in them, in order that they might
make life a burden for those whose themes were late.

Just ahead of Eleanor a little freshman walked up to the box and slipped
in a stamped envelope.

"Pardon me, but this isn't a mail-box," explained Eleanor.

"Why, it says 'Collections made at 6 P.M. Tuesdays and Thursdays,'"
gasped the little freshman. Then she glanced at the heading, "'Themes of
Second Class, L to Z.' Oh, I thought of course that said United States
Mail."

"Evidently you're fortunate enough not to have elected themes. When you
do, remember that the collections are as prompt as the postman's," said
Eleanor. "Come back at six, and you can get out your letter."

But the freshman, blushing as red as her scarlet cap, had vanished down
the hall.

Then, instead of dropping in her theme and hurrying home, as she had
intended, to get into an old skirt and a heavy shirt-waist before four
o'clock, Eleanor sat down on the lowest step of the broad stairway, as if
she had decided to wait there until six o'clock and rescue the freshman's
letter herself. Five--ten--fifteen minutes, she sat there. Girl after
girl came through the hall to deposit themes, or consult the bulletin
boards. Among them were one or two of the "sophomore push," as Christy
had called them.

"Aren't you a lady of leisure, though," called Christy, dashing through
the hall at quarter to four. "I have to go ahead and see about the ice
cream. Don't you be late, Eleanor."

Eleanor looked after her wistfully; Christy was one of the girls who
always "went round." Then she shrugged her shoulders, got up, and dropped
her theme into the box.

"What's the odds, anyhow?" she muttered, as it fell with a soft little
swish on the top of the pile inside. "It's too late to write another
now." And she hurried after Christy down the hill.

The construction car ride was a great success. The night was decidedly
balmy for November, and the moon rode, full and glorious, in a cloudless
sky. If the car bottom made a hard seat, the passengers' spirits were
elastic enough to endure all the bumps and jolts with equanimity.
Hatless, though bundled in ulsters and sweaters, they laughed and sang
and shouted in the indefatigably light-hearted fashion that is
characteristic only of babies and collegians off on a frolic.

Eleanor's story of the absent-minded freshman was the hit of the evening,
and the tinkle of her guitar added the crowning touch to the festivity of
the occasion. As they rounded the last corner on the homeward stretch,
she turned to Betty Wales, her eyes shining softly and her hair blown
into distracting waves under her fluffy white tam.

"It is fun, Betty," she said. "Flat-car and all,--though why it should
be, I'm sure I don't see, and last year it wasn't--for me."

Then her face grew suddenly sombre, and she settled back in her corner,
dropping into a moody silence that lasted until the car had dumped its
merry load, and the "sophomore push" was making its way in noisy twos and
threes up the hill to the campus.

"Come over for a minute, can't you, Eleanor?" asked Betty, when they
reached the Belden House gate.

"Why, yes--no, I can't, either. I'm sorry," said Eleanor, and was
starting across the grass toward home, when Jean Eastman overtook her.

"Come over to the Westcott and warm up with coffee," said Jean.

Eleanor repeated her refusal.

"Why not?" demanded Jean with her usual directness.

"Because I want to see Miss Raymond a minute," returned Eleanor, coolly.

"Well, you can't do that to-night," said Jean. "She's entertaining
Professor Morris of New York. I don't suppose you care to break into
that, do you? She's probably having a select party of faculty stars in
for a chafing-dish supper."

"Oh, dear!" There was genuine distress in Eleanor's voice. "Then I'm
going home, Jean. You're perfectly certain that she'll be engaged? You're
sure this is the night he was coming?"

Having duly assured Eleanor that Professor Morris and Miss Raymond had
taken lunch at the Westcott House and that Miss Mills had been invited
out to dinner with them, Jean went home to inform her roommate that
Eleanor Watson was in more trouble over her English work--that she was
rushing around the campus at nine in the evening, trying to find Miss
Raymond.

Eleanor, left to herself at last, turned and went slowly back to the
Belden House.

Betty looked up in astonishment when she appeared in the door. "How'd you
happen to change your mind?" she asked.

"Fate was against me," said Eleanor shortly. "I wanted to see Miss
Raymond about a theme, but she's busy."

"Won't morning do?" asked Betty, sympathetically.

"Yes, I suppose so, only I wanted to have it off my hands."

"I don't wonder," agreed Betty. "She's none too agreeable about late
themes."

"It's not a late theme. I want to get back the one I handed in to-day. It
ought never to have gone in."

Betty stared at Eleanor for a moment in speechless amazement, then she
danced across the room and pulling Eleanor after her, tumbled back among
the couch cushions. "Oh, Eleanor, you are the funniest thing," she said.
"Last year you didn't care about anything, and now I believe you're a
worse fusser than Helen Chase Adams. The idea of worrying over a theme
that is done and copied and in on time! Come and tell Madeline Ayres.
She'll appreciate the joke, and she'll give us some of her lovely sweet
chocolate that her cousins sent her from Paris."

But Eleanor hung back. "Please don't say anything about it to Miss Ayres.
I'd really rather you didn't. It may be a joke to you, but it's a serious
matter to me, Betty."

So more people than Eleanor were surprised the next afternoon to find
that the clever story which Miss Raymond read with great gusto to her
prize theme class, and commented upon as "extraordinary work for an
undergraduate," should prove to be Eleanor Watson's.

As early in the morning as she dared Eleanor had gone over to get back
her theme "that should never have gone in," and to ask permission to try
again. But Miss Raymond had been up betimes, working over her new batch
of papers, and she met Eleanor's apologies with amused approval of
sophomores, who, contrary to the popular tradition about their cock-
sureness, were inclined to underestimate their abilities, and imagine,
like freshmen before midyears, that their work was below grade. So there
was nothing for Eleanor to do but submit gracefully and leave the theme.
It did not occur to her to caution Miss Raymond against reading it to her
class.

In spite of hard struggles and little disappointments like Helen Adams's,
it really takes very little to make a college reputation. One brilliant
recitation may turn an unassuming student into a "prod."; and on the
strength of one clever bit of writing another is given the title of
"genius." This last distinction was at once bestowed on Eleanor. She was
showered with congratulations and compliments. Her old school friends
like Lilian Day and Jean Eastman hastened to declare that they had always
known Eleanor Watson could write. Solid, dependable students like Dorothy
King and Marion Lawrence regarded her with new respect; awed little
freshmen pointed her out to one another as "that awfully pretty Miss
Watson, who is a perfect star in themes, you know"; and her own class,
who had cordially disliked her the year before, and not known what to
think of her recent friendliness, immediately prepared to make a class
heroine of her and lauded her performance to the skies.

But Eleanor would have none of all this "pleasant fuss," as Mary Brooks
called it. Suddenly and most inexplicably she reverted to her sarcastic,
ungracious manner of the year before. She either ignored the pretty
speeches that people made to her, or received them with a stare and a
haughty "I really don't know what you mean," which fairly frightened her
admirers into silence.

"I hope," said Mary Brooks to Betty, after having received a particularly
scathing retort, "that hereafter Miss Raymond can be induced not to
approve of the lady Eleanor's themes. I've heard that prosperity turns
people's heads, but I never knew it made them into bears. She's actually
more unpleasant than she was before she reformed. And the moral of that
is, don't reform," added Mary sententiously.

Betty Wales was completely mystified and bitterly disappointed by
Eleanor's strange behavior.

"Eleanor dear," she ventured timidly, "don't be so queer and--and
disagreeable about your theme. Why, you even hurt my feelings when I
spoke to you about it, and the other girls think it's awfully funny that
you shouldn't be pleased, and like to have them congratulate you. The
theme must have been good, you see. Miss Raymond knows, and she liked it
ever so much. She told the class about your rushing over to get it that
morning, and she thought it was such a good joke. Do cheer up, Eleanor.
Why, I should be so proud if I were you!"

Eleanor was silent for a moment, then she smiled suddenly, her flashing,
radiant smile. "Well, I'll try to be pleasant, Betty, if you want me to,"
she said. "There's no use crying over spilt milk. I am queer--you know
that--but I hadn't meant to hurt people's feelings. You're going to the
library, aren't you? Well, Dora Carlson's up there. Tell her, please,
that I was tired when she came in just now--that I didn't intend to be
disagreeable, and that I love her just the same. Will you?"

So when, just after Betty had left, Dorothy King came in and plunged at
once into the familiar "I want to congratulate you on that story, Miss
Watson," Eleanor smiled pleasantly and murmured, "It's nothing,--just a
stupid little tale," in conventional college fashion.

"And of course," went on Dorothy briskly, "we want it for the 'Argus.'
I'm not a literary editor myself,--just business manager,--but Frances
West is so busy that she asked me to stop in and see you on my way to a
meeting of the Editorial board. Frances is the editor-in-chief, you
know."

A dull red flush spread itself over Eleanor's pale face. "I'm sorry, Miss
King, very sorry, but--but--I can't let the 'Argus' use my story."

Dorothy stared. "We can't have it? Why--well, of course it's very good.
Were you going to try to sell it to a regular magazine?"

Eleanor shook her head. "No," she said with an odd little laugh. "No, I'm
not going to try to sell it."

Dorothy looked puzzled. "Most people are very glad to get into the
'Argus.' We don't often have to ask twice for contributions. And we want
this very, very much. Miss Raymond likes it so well and all. Can't I
persuade you to change your mind?"

"No," said Eleanor curtly.

In spite of her poise and her apparently even temper, Dorothy King was a
rather spoiled young person, used to having her own way and irritable
when other people insisted, without reason, upon having theirs. She
disliked Eleanor Watson, and now Eleanor's manner nettled her beyond
endurance. She rose suddenly.

"Oh, very well, Miss Watson," she said. "But I really don't understand
why you should raise such a tempest in a teapot over a theme. You make me
quite curious to see it, I assure you. It must be a very strange piece of
work."

Eleanor's face went white instantly. "I beg your pardon, Miss King. I
didn't mean to be either rude or disobliging or even--queer. Here is the
story, and if the 'Argus' can really use it, I shall be delighted, of
course."

On the campus Dorothy met Betty Wales. "I've got it," she cried, waving
the theme aloft in triumph. "She didn't want to give it to me at first,
and I lost my temper--she is so trying--but later she was lovely, and I
apologized, and now we're fast friends."

Betty was on her way to gym, but she stole five minutes in which to run
up and see Eleanor.

"Hurrah for you!" she cried. "I saw Dorothy and she told me the great
news. Eleanor, you'll be on the Argus board yourself, if you're not
careful."

"Would you mind not staying now, Betty?" asked Eleanor, who was lying
buried among her pillows. "I have a dreadful headache, and talking makes
it worse."



CHAPTER V

POINTS OF VIEW


During the first part of their year at the Chapin house Betty and her
friends had taken very little interest in the Harding Aid Society. It had
been to them only a name, about which Mary Brooks, who was a member of
the aid committee of her class, talked glibly, and in behalf of which she
exacted onerous contributions, whenever the spirit moved her. But at the
time of the valentine episode, when Emily Davis and her two friends
suddenly appeared upon Betty's horizon, Betty and Katherine realized all
at once what the Aid Society must mean to some of their classmates.
During the rest of the year they seconded Mary's efforts warmly, and the
whole house got interested and plied Mary with questions about the work
of the society, until, in sheer desperation, she admitted that she knew
very little about it, and set herself to get some definite information.
The head of the committee, pleased with Mary's sudden enthusiasm, sent
her to one of the faculty trustees, and for a few days Mary, who was
entirely a creature of impulse, could talk of nothing but the splendid
work of the Harding Aid Society in helping the poorer members of the
college to meet their expenses.

It was perfectly marvelous how little some girls got along on. To many of
them a loan of twenty-five dollars actually meant the difference between
going home and staying in college a year longer.

"Now fancy that!" interpolated Mary. "It would mean just about the price
of a new hat to me."

And each dollar helped an endless chain of girls; for the society made
loans, not gifts; and the girls always paid up the moment they could get
the money together.

"One girl paid back two hundred dollars out of a five hundred dollar
salary that she got for teaching, the year after she graduated. Imagine
that if you can!" said Mary.

The Aid Society managed the bulletin boards in the gymnasium basement. It
ran an employment agency, a blue-print shop, and a second-hand book-
store. It was astonishing, said Mary, with a mysterious shake of her
head, how many splendid girls--the very finest at Harding--the society
was helping. Confidentially, she whispered to the valentine coterie that
Emily Davis and her two friends had just been placed on the list of
beneficiaries. Her eloquence extorted a ten dollar contribution from
Roberta, and smaller amounts from the rest of the girls. But then came
spring term, and the Harding Aid Society was forgotten for golf,
bicycling, the bird club, and the other absorbing joys of the season.

But it was only natural that Mary, casting about for a "Cause," in behalf
of which to exercise her dramatic talent, should remember the Aid
Society, and the effort it was making to complete its ten-thousand-dollar
loan fund before Christmas. Mary was no longer on the aid committee, but
that was no reason why she should not help complete the fund, for which
everybody,--alumnae, friends of the college, and undergraduates,--were
expected to work. Mary was a born entertainer, never so happy as when she
was getting up what in college-girl parlance is called a "show." She had
discovered how to utilize her talent at Harding, at the time of the
Sherlock Holmes dramatization. It had lain dormant again until the
Hallowe'en party brought it once more to light, and the election parade
kindled it into fresh vigor.

In all her enterprises Mary found a kindred spirit in Madeline Ayres.
Madeline had taken part in amateur theatricals ever since she could talk.

"And I've always been wild to do men's parts," she said. "I hope I can up
here."

"Of course you can," returned Mary, promptly. "Do you know any actors or
actresses?"

"Oh, two or three," answered Madeline, carelessly. "Or at least father
does--he knows everybody that's interesting--and I've talked to them. And
once I 'suped.' It was a week when I'd been to the theatre three times,
and I didn't want to ask father for any more money. So I went to the
manager and got a chance to be in the mob--that's the crowd that don't
have speaking parts, you know. And the people who'd promised to take me
home forgot and went off to supper without me, and the leading lady heard
about it and took me home in her carriage. So mother asked her to tea,
and she came, and was a dear, though she couldn't act at all. I forget
her name. But the family wouldn't let me go on again. They said it
wouldn't do, even in Bohemia."

"Goodness!" exclaimed Mary, excitedly. "Wasn't that a lark! Madeline, do
let's get up a play."

"But how can we?" objected Madeline, lazily. "Hallowe'en is over, there
aren't any more elections or holidays coming, and we're not either of us
on the committee for house plays. We can't just walk in and offer our
services, can we?"

Mary stared at her absently. "That's so," she said. "That's the bother of
being on the campus, where they have committees for everything. Oh, dear!
Isn't there something we can have a play for?" Then her face lighted
suddenly. "The Harding Aid! The very thing!" she shrieked, and seizing
the stately Madeline around the waist, she twirled her violently across
the room.

"I haven't the ghost of an idea what you are talking about," said
Madeline, gravely, when she had at last succeeded in disentangling
herself from Mary's bearish embraces. "But I'm with you, anyway. What
shall it be?"

"Why, a--a play."

"Don't you like vaudeville shows better?" inquired Madeline, "and
circuses, and nice little stunts? Girls can do that sort of thing a lot
better than they can act regular plays. And besides it brings in a bigger
cast and takes fewer bothering old rehearsals."

This time Mary danced a jig all by herself.

"Come over to Marion Lawrence's," she commanded, breathlessly. "She's
chairman of the big Loan Fund Committee. She'll make us two a special
entertainment committee, and tell the rest to let us go ahead and do what
we please."

But Madeline shook her head. "I loathe committees," she explained. "You
go along and see Miss Lawrence and be on your committee, if you like. And
when you want some help with the stunts or the costumes--I have a lot of
drapery and jewelry and such stuff--why, come and tell me, and I'll do
what I can."

And no amount of persuasion on the part of Mary, Marion Lawrence, or the
Loan Fund Committee _en masse_, could induce Madeline to change her
mind. "Why, I can't be on a committee," she said. "I get around to
recitations and meals and class meetings, and that's all I can possibly
manage. You don't realize that I'd never had to be on time for anything
in all my life till I came here, except for trains sometimes,--and you
can generally count on their being a little late. No, I can't and won't
come to committee meetings and be bored. But all that I have is yours,"
and Madeline tossed a long and beautifully curled mustache at Mary, and a
roll of Persian silk at Marion. "For the circus barker," she explained,
"and the Indian juggler's turban. I'll make the turban, if the juggler
doesn't know how. They're apt to come apart, if you don't get the right
twist. And I'll see about that little show of my own, if you really think
it's worth having."

So, though her name did not appear on the list of the committee or on the
posters, it was largely due to Madeline Ayres that the Harding Aid "Show"
was such a tremendous success.

"The way to get up a good thing," she declared, "is to let each person
see to her own stunt. Then it's no trouble to any one else. And you'd
better have the show next week, before we all get bored to death with the
idea."

These theories were exactly in accordance with Harding sentiment, so next
week the "Show" was,--in the gymnasium, for it rapidly outgrew the Belden
House parlors, where Mary and Madeline had at first thought of holding
it. It was amazing how much talent Madeline and the committee, between
them, managed to unearth. The little dressing-rooms at the ends of the
big hall had to be called into requisition, and the college doctor's
office, and Miss Andrews' room, and even the swimming tank in the
basement (it leaked and so the water had all been drained off), with an
improvised roof made by pinning Bagdad couch-covers together. All along
the sides of the gymnasium hall there were little curtained booths, while
the four corners of the gallery were turned respectively into a gypsy
tent, a witch's den, the grotesque abode of an Egyptian sorceress, and
the businesslike offices of a dapper little French medium, just over from
Paris.

You could have your fortune told in whichever corner you preferred,--or
in all four if your money lasted. Then you could descend to the floor
below, and eat and drink as many concoctions as your digestion could
stand, sandwiching between your "rabbits," Japanese or Russian tea,
fudges, chocolate, and creamed oysters, visits to the circus, the
menagerie, the vaudeville, and the multitude of side-shows. "Side-show,"
so the posters announced, was the designation of "a bewildering variety
of elegant one-act specialties." Mary Brooks was very proud of that
phrasing.

Mary herself was in charge of the menagerie. "Not to be compared for a
single instant with the animals of the biggest show on earth," she
shouted through her megaphone, accompanying her remarks with impressive
waves of her riding-whip.

Then the white baby elephant walked forth from its lair. It was composed
of one piece of white cheese-cloth and two of Mary's most ardent freshman
admirers. There was a certain wobbly buoyancy in its gait and a
jauntiness about its waving white trunk,--which was locked at the end, as
Mary explained, to guard against the ferocious assaults of this terrible
man-eater,--which never failed to convulse the audience and put them in
the proper humor for the rest of the performance. The snake-charmer
exhibited her paper pets. The lion, made up on the principle of the one
in "Midsummer Night's Dream" pawed and roared and assured timid ladies
that she was not a lion at all, but only that far more awful creature, a
Harding senior. And finally Mary opened the cage containing the Happy
Family, and there filed out a quartette of strange beasts which no
Harding girl in the audience failed to recognize as the four "class
animals,"--the seniors' red lion, the juniors' purple cow, the green
dragon beloved by the sophomores, and the freshmen's yellow chicken.

"They dance" announced Mary in beatific tones, and the three four-legged
creatures stood on their hind legs and, joining paws and wings with the
chicken, went through a solemn Alice-in-Wonderland-like dance. This was
always terminated abruptly by some animal or another's being overcome by
mirth or suffocation, and rushing unceremoniously back into the cage to
recuperate. When the Happy Family was again reunited, Mary announced that
they could also sing, and, each in a different key, the creatures burst
forth with the "Animal Song," dear to the hearts of all Harding girls:

  "I went to the Animal Fair; the great Red Lion was there.
   The Purple Cow was telling how
   She'd come to take the air.
   The Dragon he looked sick, and the little Yellow Chick,
   Looked awfully blue, and I think, don't you,
   He'd better clear out quick--quick!"

At the end of this ditty, the chick hopped solemnly forward, gave vent to
a most realistic cluck, scratched vigorously for worms, and the Happy
Family vanished amid an uproar of applause, while Mary piloted her
audience into the circus proper, managed by Emily Davis.

Here Mlle. Zita, beautiful in pink tarleton,--only her skirt had been
mislaid at the last moment and she had been compelled to substitute the
Westcott House lamp shade,--Mlle. Zita balanced herself on a chair, and
gave so vivid an imitation of wire-walking, on solid ground all the time,
that the audience was actually fooled into holding its breath. Then Bob's
pet collie did an act, and the juggler juggled, in his turban, and some
gym "stars" did turns on bars and swings. And there was an abundance of
peanuts and pink lemonade, and a clown and a band; and Emily's
introductions were alone well worth the price of admission.

At the end of her performance Emily stated that this circus, being modern
and up-to-date in all respects, had substituted for the conventional
after-concert, "a side-splitting farce which would appeal to all
intelligent and literary persons and make them laugh and cry with mirth."
So everybody, wishing to appear intelligent and literary, went in to see
the little play which Madeline Ayres had written. It was called "The
Animal Fair," and three of the class animals appeared in it. But the mis-
en-scene was an artist's studio, the great red lion was a red-faced
English dramatist, the chick a modest young lady novelist attired in yellow
chiffon, and the dragon a Scotch dialect writer. The repartee was
clever, the action absurd, and there were local hits in plenty for those
unliterary persons who did not catch the essential parody. Everybody was
enthusiastic over it, and there were frequent calls for "Author!" But
nobody responded.

"Who wrote it? Oh, some of the committee, I suppose," said the
doorkeeper, carelessly. "Perhaps Marion Lustig helped--they didn't tell
me. No, the actors don't know either. Did you give me fifty cents or a
quarter? Please don't crowd so. You'll all get in in a minute."

Meanwhile Madeline, having seen through the first performance of her
farce, in her capacity of stage manager, had left the actors to their own
devices, and wandered off to explore the other attractions. Betty met her
at the vaudeville.

"Come and get some fudge and see the sleight-of-hand stunts in the
swimming tank," whispered Madeline. "These songs are all too much alike."

It was half-past nine. The sleight-of-hand performance was being given
for the tenth and last time to an audience that packed the house. When it
was over Betty, who had been a ticket-taker at the circus all the
afternoon and evening, hurried Madeline back to see how much money Emily
had made.

"Fifty dollars," said Emily, with shining eyes. "Think of it! I've helped
to make fifty dollars for the Aid Society that's helping me through
college."

"Splendid!" said Betty, too tired to be very enthusiastic over anything
that night.

Madeline led her to a deserted corner of the gallery, and they sank down
on a heap of pillows that had composed the gypsy queen's throne.

"I suppose I ought to care about the money," said Madeline, when they
were seated, "but I don't much. I care because it's all been so funny and
jolly and so little trouble. We can help to make money for good causes
all our lives, but most of us will forget how to make such good times out
of so little fuss and feathers when we leave here."

Betty looked at her wonderingly. Madeline's philosophy was a constant
source of interest and amazement to all her friends. She had a way of
saying the things that they had always thought, but never put into words.

"That's so," she agreed at last, "but I don't see how you knew it. You
haven't been here a term yet. How do you find out so much about
college?"

Madeline laughed merrily. "Oh, I came from Bohemia," she said, "and the
reason I like it up here is because this place isn't so very different
from Bohemia. Money doesn't matter here, and talent does, and brains; and
fun is easy to come by, and trouble easy to get away from. But not for
everybody," she ended quickly.

Eleanor Watson, still in her gypsy fortune-teller's costume, was hurrying
up to the big pile of pillows, six devoted freshmen following close at
her heels.

"Hop up, girls," she called gaily to Betty and Madeline. "My faithful
slaves have come to empty the throne room."

"Aren't you tired, Eleanor?" asked Betty. "You've been at it since three
o'clock, haven't you? I should think you'd be dead."

Eleanor shrugged her shoulders. "Oh, I'm a bit tired," she answered,
indifferently, "But I couldn't stop. The girls simply wouldn't let me,
though Blanche Norton was willing to take my place. I was a goose to tell
them that I could read palms. Look out for that white satin pillow,
Maudie. Yes, the yellow one is mine, but I can't carry it. I'm too done
up to carry anything but myself."

"Now that," said Madeline, decidedly, as soon as Eleanor was out of
hearing, "that is all wrong,--every bit of it. It's not the fun she
wants. She doesn't even care about the money for the good cause. It's the
honor and the chance to show off her own cleverness that she's after."
Madeline waited a moment. "Is she so clever, Betty?"

"Oh, yes," cried Betty eagerly. "Don't you remember her theme?"

"To be sure." Madeline's eyes twinkled. "I'd forgotten her wonderful
theme. Oh, well, then I suppose she is clever--but I'm sorry for her."

"Why?" asked Betty quickly. Surely Madeline could not know anything about
Eleanor's stepmother, and nowadays her career at Harding was a series of
delightful triumphs. More reason why Madeline should envy, than pity her,
Betty thought.

"Oh, for lots of reasons," answered Madeline easily, "but chiefly because
she's so anxious about getting things for herself that she can't enjoy
them when she's got them; and secondly because something worries her.
Watch her face when she isn't smiling, and when she thinks nobody is
noticing her. It's so wonderfully sad and so perfectly beautiful that it
makes me pity her in spite of myself," ended Madeline with a sudden rush
of feeling. "But I can't love her, even for you, you funny child," she
added playfully, pulling one of Betty's curls.

"I'm not a child," retorted Betty, with great dignity. "I'm a sophomore
and you're only a little freshman, please remember, and you have no
business pulling my hair."

"Lights out in two minutes, young ladies," called the night-watchman from
below, and freshman and sophomore raced for the stairs.



CHAPTER VI

ON AMBITION


"It was awfully good of you to come and take me out for a walk, little
sister. My head ached and I knew I ought to get some fresh air, but I
hadn't the resolution to start off alone."

Betty and Miss Hale, the "faculty" who was an intimate friend of Betty's
older sister, had been for a long, brisk tramp through the woods. Now
they were swinging home in the frosty December dusk, tired and wind
blown, and yet refreshed by the keen air and the vigorous exercise.

Betty turned off the path to scuffle through a tempting bed of dry
leaves. "I think it's you who are awfully good to let me come for you,"
she said, stopping to wait for Miss Hale at the end of her run. "I do get
so tired sometimes of seeing nobody but girls, and such crowds of them.
It's a great relief to have a walk and a talk with you. It seems almost
like going home."

"But you still like college, don't you, Betty?"

"Oh, yes!" assented Betty eagerly. "I just love it." Then she laughed
merrily. "You and Nan told me the summer before I came here that all nice
girls liked college, so it's hardly polite of you to ask me now if I like
it, Ethel."

Then Miss Hale laughed in her turn. "And who are your friends this year?"
she pursued. "Has your last year's crowd broken up?"

"Oh, no! We're all too fond of one another for that. Of course we're in
different houses now, some of us, and we've all made lots of new friends
down on the campus. Do you know Madeline Ayres?"

Miss Hale nodded. "I'm glad you know her, Betty; she's a splendid girl.
And how is your protege, Miss Watson, getting on nowadays?"

"Beautifully." Betty launched into an enthusiastic account of Eleanor's
literary triumph, her softened manner, her sudden popularity, and her
improved scholarship.

Miss Hale listened attentively. "That's very interesting," she said. "I
had no idea that Miss Watson would ever make anything out of her college
course. And do you see as much of her as ever, or has she dropped her old
friends now that she has so many new ones?"

"Oh, dear!" said Betty sadly. "You don't like her one bit, do you, Ethel?
I'm so sorry. Nan didn't like her either. Of course I know she has her
faults, but I do love her so--"

"I'm glad of that," broke in Miss Hale heartily. "She would have left
Harding in disgrace last June, if she hadn't had such a loyal friend in
you. We can't help people unless we care for them, Betty,--and sometimes
not then," added Ethel soberly. "The only way is to take all your
opportunities, and then if you fail with one, as I did with Miss Watson,
you may succeed with some one else. And it's the finest thing in college,
Betty, or in life,--the feeling that you really mean something to
somebody. I wish I'd learned to appreciate it sooner."

They walked on for a while in silence, Betty wondering if she did "really
mean something" to Eleanor or to Helen Adams, Miss Hale harking back to
her own college days and questioning whether she and her set had ever
spared a thought for anything beyond their own fun and ambitions and
successes. She blushed guiltily in the dark, as she remembered how they
had snubbed Nan Wales, until Nan actually forced them to recognize her
ability, and later to discover that they all wanted her for a friend.

"I wonder if Nan's forgotten," she thought. "I wonder if she's told Betty
anything about it, and if that's why Betty is so different."

Thinking of Nan finally brought Miss Hale out of her reverie. "Little
sister," she said, "I mustn't forget to ask you about Nan. Isn't that
European trip of hers almost over? She wrote me that she should surely be
back in time for Christmas."

"Yes," assented Betty, "she will. Her steamer is due on the eighth."

"The eighth--why that's to-day," said Miss Hale. "Isn't she going to stop
here on her way west?"

"I'm afraid not," answered Betty, sadly. "Will is going to meet her in
New York, and when I wrote home and wanted them to stop, he wrote back
that he didn't propose to come up here to be the only man among a
thousand girls. And I suppose Nan will be so tired of traveling around
sight-seeing that she won't care about stopping, either."

They had reached Miss Hale's boarding-place by this time, and Betty said
good-night and hurried back to the campus, full of excitement over Nan's
return.

"Just think," she told Helen, as she dressed for the Hilton House dance
to which Alice Waite had invited her that evening, "Nan's ship came in
to-day, and I pretty nearly forgot all about it. Oh, dear! it seems as if
I must see her right off, and it's two whole weeks to vacation."

Just as she spoke, there was a knock at the door, and a maid held out a
telegram. "For Miss Wales," she said.

"Oh, it's from Nan," cried Betty, snatching at the bit of yellow paper.
"And she's coming to-night," she shrieked so loudly that the whole third
floor heard her and flocked out into the corridor to see what in the
world was the matter.

The message was provokingly short:--

"Meet the 7:10 to-night.
"WILL."

"Oh, I wonder if he's going to stop too," said Betty, dropping the
telegram into the wash-bowl and diving under the bed for her gold chain,
which she had tossed there in her excitement. "How long do you suppose
they'll stay?"

"I don't see that you can tell about that till they come," said Helen,
practically. "Are you going to wear that dress to the station to meet
them?"

Betty stopped short in her frantic efforts to fasten her belt, and stared
blankly at her filmy white gown and high-heeled satin slippers. Then she
dropped down on the bed and gave a long despairing sigh. "I haven't a bit
of sense left," she said. "Tell me what else I've forgotten."

"Well, where are they going to sleep?"

"Goodness!" ejaculated Betty. "I ought to go out this minute and hunt for
rooms."

"And what about the Hilton House dance? Oughtn't you to send word if
you're not going?"

"Gracious!" exclaimed Betty. "Of course I ought. Alice has a card all
made out for me."

Just then Mary Brooks and Madeline Ayres sauntered in. "Don't worry,
child. You've got oceans of time," said Mary, when she had heard the
great news. "We'll get you some rooms. I know a place just around the
corner. And Helen can go and tell the gentle Alice Waite that you'll be
along later in the evening with your family. If you want your brother to
fall in love with Harding, you must be sure to have him see that dance.
Men always go crazy over girl dances. And if I was offered sufficient
inducement," added Mary, demurely, "I might possibly go over to the
gallery myself, and help you amuse him--since none of my Hilton House
friends have invited me to adorn the floor with my presence."

So Mary and Madeline departed in one direction and Helen in another,
while an obliging senior who roomed across the hall put Betty's half of
the room to rights--Helen's was always in order,--a freshman next door
helped Betty into a white linen suit, which is the Harding girl's regular
compromise between street and evening dress, and somebody else telephoned
to Miss Hale that Nan was coming. And the pleasant thing about it was
that everybody took exactly the same interest in the situation as if the
guests and the hurry and excitement had belonged to her instead of to
Betty Wales. It is thus that things are done at Harding.

As a matter of fact, Will did not wait until he had seen the Hilton House
dance to become enamored of Harding College. When he and Nan arrived they
announced that they had only stopped over for the evening, and should go
west on the sleeper that same night. But as they were sitting in the
Belden House parlor, while Nan and Betty discussed plans for showing Will
as much as possible of the college in one evening, Mary Brooks sauntered
through the hall, ostensibly on her way to do an errand at the Westcott
House. Of course Betty called her in, and five minutes later Will
announced that he couldn't think of not occupying the room which Miss
Brooks had been good enough to engage for him; and he and Mary went off
to the gymnasium gallery, which is as near as man may come to the joys of
a "girl dance" at Harding. There Betty promised to join them as soon as
Miss Hale arrived to spend the evening with Nan. And Miss Hale had no
sooner appeared than Nan telephoned for her trunks and made a dinner
engagement that would keep her until the next night at least. In the
morning Will remembered that John Parsons was still at Winsted, and
announced that he should spend the following day on an exploring tour
over there. And Mr. Parsons insisted that you could not see Winsted
properly unless you had some Harding girls along, and as the first snow
of the season had just fallen, he organized a sleighing party, with Nan
and Miss Hale as chaperons. Then Will gave a return dinner at Cuyler's,
which took another day, so that a week sped by before Betty's guests
could possibly get away from Harding.

"And now," said Betty to Will on the afternoon before the one set for
their departure, "I think you'd better stay another week and see me."

"Wish we could," said Will absently. "I haven't had time to call on Miss
Waite. I've only been snow-shoeing once with Miss Ayres, and I've got to
have another skate with Miss Kittredge. She's a stunner on the ice. I
say, Betty, you don't suppose she'd get up and go before breakfast, do
you? I'd ask her to cut chapel, only I promised to take Miss Brooks."

"Indeed!" said Betty, with feigned indignation. "I guess that on the
whole it's a good thing you're going to-morrow."

"Now why do you say that? Haven't I behaved like a scholar and a
gentleman?" demanded Will gaily.

"It's your conduct as a brother that I object to," returned Betty
severely. "Nobody pays any attention to me. Nan's gone off sleighing with
Roberta, and you're only enduring my society until Dorothy King finishes
her Lab, and you can go off walking with her. Then I shall be left to my
own devices."

"To your studies you mean, my child," corrected Will. "Do you think that
Nan and I would be so inconsiderate as to come down here and break up the
regular routine of your college work?"

"How about the regular routine of Dorothy King's work?" inquired Betty
saucily. "And Mary Brooks's?"

Will took out a card from his pocket and consulted its entries
industriously. "I have only one date with Miss Brooks to-morrow, and none
at all with Miss King, more's the pity."

"It's queer," said Betty reflectively. "You never can prophesy what girls
men will take to. Now I should have supposed that you'd like Nita Reese
and Eleanor Watson best of all the ones you've met. They're both so
pretty."

"That's all right," said Will severely. "We men don't go so much by looks
as some of you think we do. And anyhow Miss Brooks and Miss King are
good-lookers too. Miss Reese is a nice girl, but she's a little too quiet
for me, and Miss Watson--let's see, she was at that dance the first
night, wasn't she? I didn't see much of her, but I remember she's a
stunner."

"She's one of my best friends," said Betty, proudly. "Oh, here comes
Dorothy," she added, glancing out the window. "I hope you'll have a nice
walk."

"See here, little sister," began Will, blocking Betty's progress to the
door. "You weren't in earnest about my having run off and left you so
much?"

Betty laughed merrily. "I should think not," she said. "If you must know
it, I'm awfully proud of my popular family. I hope you understand that
Mary Brooks and Dorothy King don't take the trouble to entertain
everybody's brother. Now hurry up, or she'll get way into the house
before you can catch her."

"Wait a minute," commanded Will. "Have we anything on for to-night?"

"Nan has, but you and I haven't."

"Then let's eat a nice little dinner at Cuyler's," suggested Will. "Just
you and I and one more for variety. You ask any one you like, and I'll
call for you at six."

"Lovely! Don't you really care whom I ask?"

"Pick out a good-looker," called Will, striding off to meet Dorothy.

Betty had no trouble in choosing the third person to make up the dinner
party. It should be Eleanor Watson, of course. Will would like her--men
always did. She had been tired and not in a mood to exert herself the
night of the Hilton House dance; and one thing or another had interfered
with her joining in any of the festivities since.

"But she'll be all ready for a celebration to-day, with her story just
out in the 'Argus,'" reflected Betty, and started at once for the Hilton
House.

Eleanor was curled up in her easy chair by the window, poring over a mass
of type-written sheets. "Studying my part for a little play we're giving
next Saturday night," she announced gaily, as Betty came in. "So
remember, you're not to stay long."

"I don't believe there's anything you can't do, Eleanor," declared Betty,
admiringly. "I'm awfully proud of knowing such a star. I read your story
in the 'Argus' the first thing after lunch, and I thought it was
perfectly splendid."

"Did you?" said Eleanor, carelessly. "Well, I suppose it must be good for
something, to have so much said about it; but I for one am thoroughly
tired of it. I'm going to try to act so well on Saturday that people will
have something else to talk to me about."

"You will," said Betty, with decision. "You made a splendid leading lady
last year in Sherlock Holmes, and you didn't try at all then. Well," she
added quickly, "you said I mustn't stay long, so I must hurry and tell
you what I came for. I want you to have dinner with Will and me to-night
at Cuyler's."

"That's very good of you," said Eleanor formally, "and I'm sorry that I
can't come. But it's quite impossible."

"Oh dear!" There was nothing perfunctory about Betty's regret. "Couldn't
you learn your part this evening? It won't take you any longer to eat at
Cuyler's than it would here, and you can come right back."

"Oh, it's not the play," said Eleanor. "I could manage that; but Beatrice
Egerton is going to be here for dinner."

"Oh, of course if you've asked any one to dinner--" began Betty.

"No," broke in Eleanor, impatiently, "I haven't asked her, but Lil Day
has. She's invited me to sit with them, and she'd be awfully vexed if I
ran off. You know," went on Eleanor, impressively, "Beatrice Egerton is
the most prominent girl in the senior class."

"Oh!" said Betty, blankly.

"And I barely know her," continued Eleanor, "so this is my opportunity,
you see. Lil thinks she'll like me. She's very influential, and she
doesn't seem to have any particular friends in our class. Do you know her
at all?"

Betty shook her head.

"But you're so solid with Dorothy King," said Eleanor. "She's just about
as prominent as Bess Egerton. We have to look out for those things, don't
we, Betty?"

"If you mean," began Betty, slowly, "that I like Dorothy King because
she's an influential senior, why, please never think so again, Eleanor. I
like her just as I like any one else, because she's so dear and sweet and
such a fine, all-around girl."

Eleanor laughed scornfully. "Oh, of course," she said, "but you have your
little plans, I suppose, like all the rest of the world. Anyhow, if you
haven't, I have; and I put future honors ahead of present bliss, so I
can't go with you to Cuyler's. Please tell your brother that I'm very
sorry."

"Yes," said Betty. "He will be sorry, too. Good-bye, Eleanor."

It seemed a long walk back to the Belden House. The snow had turned to
slush, and Betty sank into it at every step. The raw wind blew her hair
into her eyes. The world looked dull and uninteresting all of a sudden.
When she reached home, Helen was getting ready for gym.

"Helen Chase Adams," began Betty, savagely. "Do you see any use in
ambition?"

"Why, yes," gasped Helen.

"What?" demanded Betty.

"Why--it helps you to get things," ventured Helen.

"May be they're not worth getting," snapped Betty.

"Well, isn't it better to try to get foolish things than just to sit
around and do nothing?"

"No," answered Betty with emphasis. "People who just sit around and do
nothing, as you call it, have friends and like them, and aren't all the
time thinking what they can get out of them."

"I'm sorry, but I have to go to gym," said Helen. "I don't think
ambitious people always depend on their friends."

Left to herself, Betty came to a more judicial state of mind. "I
suppose," she said to the green lizard, "I suppose I'm the kind that just
sits around and does nothing. I suppose we're irritating too. It makes
Helen mad when I write my papers any old way, while she's toiling along,
trying to do her best. And she makes me cross by fussing so. She has one
kind of ambition and Eleanor has another. I haven't any, and I suppose
they both wish I'd have some kind. Oh, dear! I don't believe Madeline
Ayres is ambitious either, and Ethel Hale called her a splendid girl.
I'll go and ask her to come to dinner with us."



CHAPTER VII

ON TO MIDYEARS


Exactly a week after Nan and Will left Harding, Betty herself was
speeding west, with Roberta Lewis as traveling companion. Nan had
discovered that Roberta's father was in California, and that she was
planning to spend her Christmas vacation in solitary state at Mrs.
Chapin's, without letting even her adored Mary Brooks know how matters
stood. But Nan's arguments, backed by Betty's powers of persuasion, were
irresistible; and Roberta finally consented to come to Cleveland instead.

It was amusing, and a little pathetic too, to watch the shy Roberta
expand in the genial, happy-go-lucky atmosphere of the Wales household. A
lonely, motherless child brought up by a father who loved her dearly,
treated her as an equal, and was too absorbed in his own affairs to
realize that she needed any companionship but his own, she had been
absolutely swept off her feet by the rush of young life at Harding. The
only close friend she had made there was Mary Brooks; and, though Mary
fully reciprocated Roberta's fondness for her, she was a person of so
many ideas and interests that Roberta was necessarily left a good deal to
herself. During her first year, the sociable atmosphere of the Chapin
house had helped to break down her reserve and bring her, in spite of
herself, into touch with the college world. But now, in a house full of
noisy, rollicking freshmen, who thought her queer and "stuck-up," she was
bitterly unhappy. So she shut herself in with her books and her thoughts,
wondered whether being on the campus would really make any difference in
her feelings about college, and stayed on only because of her devotion to
Mary and her unwillingness to disappoint her father, who was very proud
of "my daughter at Harding."

Roberta loved children, and she and the smallest sister instantly became
fast friends. Will frightened her dreadfully at first, but before the
week was out she found herself chatting with him just as familiarly as
she did with her Boston cousin, who was the only young man she knew well.
And after she had helped Mrs. Wales to trim the smallest sister's
Christmas tree, and been down town with Mr. Wales to pick out some books
for him to give Nan,--"Because you and Nan seem to be cut out of the same
piece of cloth, you see," explained Mr. Wales genially,--Roberta felt
exactly like one of the family, and hoarded the days, and then the hours,
that remained of this blissful vacation.

"It seems as if I couldn't go back," she told Betty, when the good-byes
had all been said, and the long train was rumbling through the darkness
toward Harding.

"I'm sorry to leave too," said Betty dreamily. "It's been a jolly old
vacation. But think how we should feel if we couldn't go back at all--if
the family fortune was swept away all of a sudden, or if we were sick or
anything, and had to drop out of dear old 19--."

"Yes," said Roberta briefly.

Betty looked at her curiously. "Don't you like college, Roberta?" she
asked.

"Betty, I can't bear it," declared Roberta in an unwonted burst of
confidence. "I stay on because I hate people who give things up just
because they don't like doing them. But it seems sometimes as if I
couldn't stand it much longer."

"Too bad you didn't get on the campus. Perhaps you will this term."
suggested Betty hopefully, "and then I know you'll fall absolutely in
love with college."

"I don't believe that will make a bit of difference, and anyway Miss
Stuart said I hadn't the least chance of getting on this year."

"Then," returned Betty cheerfully, "you'll just have to make the best of
it where you are. Some of the Chapin house freshmen are dear. I love that
cunning little Sara Westervelt."

"Isn't she pretty?" Roberta's drawl was almost enthusiastic. "But she
never speaks to me," she added sadly.

"Speak to her," said Betty promptly. "You probably frighten her to death,
and freeze her all up. Treat her as you did the smallest sister."

Roberta laughed merrily. "It's funny, isn't it, that I can get on with
children and most older people, but not at all with those of my own age."

"Oh, you only need practice," said Betty easily. "Go at it just as you go
at your chemistry problems. Figure out what those freshmen like and give
it to them. Have a party and do the Jabberwock for them. They'd be your
slaves for life."

"Oh, I couldn't," protested Roberta. "It would seem so like showing off."

"Don't think about yourself; think about them. And now," added Betty
yawning, "as we were up till two last night, I think we'd better go to
bed, don't you?"

"Yes," said Roberta, "and--and thank you for telling me that I'm offish,
Betty. Could you come to the Jabberwock party Monday night, if I should
decide to have it?"

Though Rachel was off the campus, her room was far and away the most
popular meeting place for the Chapin house crowd. Perhaps it was because
the quiet of the little white house round the corner was a relief after
the noisy bustle of the big campus dormitories. But besides, there was
something about Rachel that made her quite indispensable to all
gatherings of the clan. Katherine was fun when you were in the mood for
her; Roberta, if she was in the mood for you. Betty was always
fascinating, always responsive, but in many ways she was only a pretty
child. Helen and Eleanor, unlike in almost everything else, were at one
in being self-centred. Rachel was as jolly as Katherine, as sympathetic
as Betty, and far more mature than either of her friends. As Katherine
put it, "you could always bank on Rachel to know what was what."

So it was no unusual thing to find two or three of the "old guard" as
Rachel dubbed them, and perhaps two or three outsiders as well, gathered
in her tiny room, in the dark of the afternoon, talking over the
happenings of the day and drinking tea out of the cups which were the
pride of Rachel's heart, because they were all pretty and none of them
had cost more than ten cents.

One snowy afternoon in January Betty walked home with Rachel from their
four o'clock class in history.

"Come in, children" called a merry voice, as they opened Rachel's door.
"Take off your things and make yourselves at home. The tea will be ready
in about five minutes."

"Hello, Katherine," said Betty, cheerfully, tossing her note-book on the
bed and shaking the snow off her fuzzy gray tam.

"Isn't it nice to come in and find the duties of hostess taken off your
shoulders in this pleasant fashion!" laughed Rachel. "I hope you've
washed the cups," she added, settling herself cozily on the window seat.
"They haven't been dusted for three weeks."

"Indeed I haven't washed them," answered Katherine loftily. "I'm the
hostess. You can be guest, and Betty can be dish-washer."

"Not unless I can wiggle the tea-ball afterward," announced Betty firmly.

Katherine examined a blue and white cup critically. "I think you must be
mistaken, Rachel," she said. "These cups don't need washing. They're
perfectly clean, but I'll dust them off if you insist."

Then there was a grand scramble, in the course of which Betty captured
the tea-ball and the lemons, and Katherine the teakettle, while Rachel
secured two cups and retired from the scene of action to wash them for
Betty and herself. Finally Katherine agreed that Betty might "wiggle the
tea-ball" provided that she--Katherine--should be allowed two pieces of
lemon in every cup; and the three lively damsels settled down into a
sedate group of tea-drinkers.

"Do you know, girls," said Katherine, after they had compared programs
for midyears, and each decided sadly that her particular arrangement of
examinations was a great deal more onerous than the schedules of her
friends,--"Do you know, I was just beginning to like Eleanor Watson, but
I wash my hands of her now."

"Why? What's she done lately?" inquired Rachel.

"Oh, she hasn't done anything in particular," said Katherine. "It's her
manner that I object to. It was bad enough last year, but now--"
Katherine's gesture suggested indescribable insolence.

Betty said nothing. She was thinking of her last interview with Eleanor,
whom she had not seen for more than a casual moment since the day of
Will's dinner, and wondering whether after all Ethel Hale was right about
her, and she was wrong. It did seem amazingly as if Eleanor was giving up
her old friends for the new ones.

"But Katherine," began Rachel soothingly, "you must remember that her
rather dropping us now doesn't really mean much. We should never have
known her at all if we hadn't happened to be in the house with her last
year. It was only chance that threw us together, so there really isn't
any reason why she should keep up the acquaintance unless she wants to."

"Oh, no, not the slightest reason," agreed Katherine, wrathfully. "And on
the same principle let us all proceed to cut Helen Chase Adams. She isn't
exactly our kind. We should never have known her if we hadn't happened to
be in the house with her last year. So let's drop her."

"Oh, you silly child," laughed Rachel. "Of course I don't approve of
Eleanor Watson's way of doing things. I only wanted to explain what is
probably her point of view. I can understand it, but it doesn't follow
that I'm going to adopt it."

"I should hope not," snorted Katherine. "I met my lady this afternoon at
Cuyler's. I was buying molasses candy for this function--by the way, I
forgot to pass it around. Do have some. And she was in there with that
high and mighty senior, Beatrice Egerton, ordering a dinner for to-morrow
night. I had on my green sweater and an old skirt, and I don't suppose I
looked exactly like a Fifth Avenue swell. But that didn't matter; the
lady Eleanor didn't see me."

Rachel laughed merrily. "So that was it," she said. "I knew there was
something personal behind your wrath, and I was waiting for it to come
out. Never mind, K.; Betty and I won't cut you, even in your green
sweater."

"That's good of you," said Katherine, spearing a thick slice of lemon for
her third cup. "Seriously though, my green sweater aside, I do hate such
snobbishness."

"But Eleanor Watson isn't exactly a snob," objected Rachel. "There's Dora
Carlson."

"Dora Carlson!" repeated Katherine, scornfully. "You don't mean that
she's taken you in with that, Rachel? Why, it's nothing but the most
transparent sort of grand-stand play. I suppose the lady Eleanor had more
sense than to think that the Dora Carlson episode would take in any one."

Betty had been sitting quietly in her corner of the window seat, not
taking any part in the discussion, because there was nothing that she
cared to say on either side of it. Now she leaned forward suddenly. "Oh,
Katherine, please don't say that," she begged. "Indeed it isn't so! I
know--Eleanor told me herself that she is awfully fond of Dora Carlson,--
that she appreciates the way Dora feels toward her, and means to be
worthy of it if she possibly can."

"Then I'm sure I beg her pardon," said Katherine heartily. "Only--when
did she tell you that, Betty?"

"Oh, back in the fall, just a little while after the sophomore
reception."

"I thought so, and I don't doubt that she meant it when she said it. But
she's completely changed since then. Don't you remember how we used to
count on her for all our little reunions? Why, she was quite one of the
old guard for a month or two. But ever since that wonderful story of hers
came out in the 'Argus,' she's gone in for the prominent sophomore act
with such a vengeance--" Katherine stopped suddenly, noticing Betty's
distressed expression. "Oh, well," she said, "there's no use going over
it again. I suppose you and Rachel are right, and I'm wrong."

"Only you do resent the injustice done your green sweater," said Rachel,
hoping to close the discussion with a laugh.

But Katherine was in deadly earnest. "I don't care how the lady Eleanor
treats me and my green sweater," she said, "but there are some people
who've done too much for her--Well, what I mean is, I hope she'll never
go back on her real friends," she finished lamely.

"Well, if one prominent sophomore snubs us, we can always comfort
ourselves with the thought that another is going to love us to the end,"
said Rachel, reaching over a mound of pillows to squeeze Betty's hand.
"Did you know you're a prominent sophomore, Betty?"

"I'm not," said Betty, indignantly. "I wouldn't be such a thing for the
world. I hate the word prominent, the way we use it here."

Katherine exchanged rapid glances with Rachel. "Something personal behind
that, too," she reflected. "If the lady Eleanor dares to go back on
Betty, I shall start out after her scalp."

So it was fortunate that Betty and Eleanor did not meet on their
respective homeward ways until Katherine was well inside the Westcott
House, out of hearing of their colloquy. Between the darkness and the
flying snow the two girls were close together before they recognized each
other. Then Eleanor was hurrying on with some commonplace about "the
beastly weather," when Betty stopped her.

"We were just talking about you," she said, "Rachel and Katherine and I,
over in Rachel's room, wondering why you never meet with the old guard
any more."

"Why, I'm busy," said Eleanor, shortly. "Didn't you know that it's less
than a week to midyears?"

"But all this term--" protested Betty, wishing she had said nothing, yet
reluctant now to let the opportunity slip through her hands.

"Well, to tell the truth," broke in Eleanor, impatiently, "our interests
are different, Betty,--they have been from the first. You like to be
friends with everybody. I like to pick and choose. I don't really care
anything about the rest of the Chapin house girls, and I can't see you
without seeing them too."

"But this fall," began Betty.

"Well--the truth is this fall--" said Eleanor, fiercely, "this fall I
forgot who I was and what I was. Now I've come to my senses again." And
without giving Betty time to reply she swept off into the darkness.

Betty wasn't very hungry for dinner. As soon as possible she slipped out
of the noisy dining-room, up to the silence of the deserted third floor.

"What I can't understand," she told the green lizard, "is the way her
voice sounded. It certainly broke just as if she was trying not to cry.
Now, why should that be? Is she sorry to have come to her senses, I
wonder?"

The green lizard had no suggestions to offer, so Betty put on her new
kimono with butterflies in the border and a bewitching pink sash--it was
real Japanese and the envy of all her friends--and prepared to spend the
evening cramming for her history exam, with Nita Reese.



CHAPTER VIII

THE "FIRST FOUR"


Midyears were safely over, and schedules for the new term more or less
satisfactorily arranged. It was Saturday night--the gayest in all the
week--and up on the fourth floor of the Belden House Nita Reese was
giving a birthday spread. Until she came to Harding, Nita's birthday had
always been in August. At the beginning of her sophomore year she
announced that she had changed it to February ninth.

"I told the family," explained Nita, "that just because I happened to be
born in August they needn't think they could get out of sending me a
birthday box. Father wanted to know if that let him off from giving me a
sailing party next August, and I said that I'd leave it to him. I knew he
wouldn't miss that sailing party for anything."

Nita disappeared behind a screen, where, on the wash-stand, in lieu of a
buffet, the good things from the birthday box were arranged on tin-box
covers and wooden plates. There were nine china plates for the twelve
guests, and a cup and a sherbet glass apiece, which is an abundance for
any three-course supper, however elaborate.

"Girls, do you realize what's happening to-night?" said Nita, emerging
from behind the screen with a plate of sandwiches in one hand and a tray
of cake in the other. "Here, Betty Wales, have some cake. Or are you
still on salad and sandwiches?"

"I'm still on salad and sandwiches, but I do want that big piece of
chocolate cake before Madeline Ay--Oh, Madeline, aren't you ashamed?
You've made me spill coffee on Nita's Bagdad."

"I can't help that," said Madeline Ayres, composedly. "You were implying
that I'm a pig. I'm not; I'm only devoted to chocolate."

"What's happening to-night, Nita?" demanded Bob, popping up like a Jack-
in-the-box from behind Madeline's back.

"There!" exclaimed Betty, resignedly. "I've spilled it again! Where have
you been, Bob?"

"Oh, I've just been resting back there between the courses," said Bob,
edging herself to the front of the couch and beginning on the nearest
dish of strawberry ice. (The strawberry ice was not, strictly speaking, a
part of the birthday box.) "I feel quite hungry again now. What's to-
night, Nita?"

"Why, society elections, of course, goosie," answered Christy Mason from
the window where she was cooling a pan of fudge. "Girls, this fudge is
going to be elegant and creamy. Reach me the marsh-mallows, Babe, that's
a dear. Shall I make it all over marsh-mallows, Nita?"

"Yes!" chorused the occupants of the couch, vociferously.

"To hear the animals roar, you wouldn't think they'd been eating steadily
for an hour, would you, Nita?" laughed Christy, sticking in the marsh-
mallows in neat, even rows, like white tents pitched across the creamy
brown field of chocolate.

"It's not that we're hungry, Nita, dear, but we all like it better that
way, because it's newer," explained Alice Waite, who never took a joke
and couldn't bear to have Nita's feelings hurt.

"Hungry!" groaned Rachel, from her corner. "I don't believe I shall ever
be hungry again. Who do you suppose will go in tonight?"

"Go in where, Rachel?" asked Bob, dropping back again on the pillows
behind Madeline and Betty.

"Aren't you a sweet little innocent, Bob Parker?" mocked Babe,
derisively. "As if you hadn't betted me six strawberry ices and three
dinners at Cuyler's that you go into the Dramatic Club to-night, your
ownself."

"When I get you alone," began Bob, wrathfully. Then her tone changed
instantly to one of honeyed sweetness. "No," she said, "you're such an
artistic prevaricator that I'll give you one dinner at Cuyler's as your
well-earned reward."

Christy Mason dropped her pan of fudge, seized a candle from the
chiffonier and held it close to Bob's prostrate form. "Girls," she
shrieked, "it's true. Bob's blushing. She hasn't blushed since the
president spoke to her about spilling salad all over the night watchman."

Then there was a scene of wild commotion. Shouts and laughter drowned out
Bob's angry protests, until in despair she turned her attention to Babe,
who took refuge on the fire-escape and refused to come further in than
the window-seat even when order was partially restored.

"Girls," shouted Katherine Kittredge, as soon as she could make herself
heard, "let's drink to the success of Bob's bet!"

There were clamorous demands for hot coffee, and then the toast was drunk
standing, amid riotous enthusiasm.

"Speech!" called somebody.

"Speech! Speech!" chorused everybody.

"I never bet any such thing," responded Bob, sulkily. "You all know I
didn't--and if I did, it was in fun."

"Never mind, Bob," said Nita, consolingly. "We won't tell any of the
Dramatic Club girls about it. We're all sophomores here, but Madeline
Ayres, and she's as good as a sophomore; so don't worry. You can trust
us."

"What I object to," put in Katherine Kittredge, solemnly, "is the
principle of the thing. It's not true sport to bet on a certainty, Bob.
You know that you're sure to go in to-night, and it's a mean trick to
deprive Babe of her hard-won earnings."

This sally was greeted with shrieks of laughter, for it was a standing
joke with 19-- that Babe was supposed by her adoring mother to be keeping
a French maid at Harding. In October of her freshman year she had packed
the maid off to New York and engaged Emily Davis to do her mending. But
the maid's board and wages were paid unquestioningly by her mother, who
lamented every vacation that she could get no such excellent seamstresses
as her daughter was always able to find at Harding. Meanwhile Babe rented
a riding horse by the term, reveled in dinners at Cuyler's, and stilled
her conscience with the thought that Emily Davis needed the money more
than any maid.

"I wish," said Madeline Ayres, when the tumult had subsided again, "that
you'd explain something to a poor, benighted little freshman. There's
just one thing about Harding that I don't understand. Why should Bob mind
having you know that she hopes she's going into the Dramatic Club?"

"Suppose she doesn't go?" suggested Christy. "Of course there's always a
chance that she won't."

"Seems so nervy, anyhow," muttered Bob, who was still in the sulks.

"I don't see why," persisted Madeline. "When you all say that she's
perfectly certain to go in. But in general, I mean, why will you never
admit that you want a certain thing, or hope to get a certain thing?"

"It is funny, isn't it?" said Rachel. "Wild horses couldn't drag it out
of any junior that she hopes for a place on the 'Argus' board, or the
Senior Play committee."

"Nor out of any sophomore that she hopes to make a society," added
Christy Mason.

"I suppose," said Babbie, "that it's because nothing is competitive here.
You just take what people think you ought to have. You stand or fall by
public opinion, and of course you are never sure how it will gauge you."

"College men aren't that way," said Katherine. "They talk about such
things, and discuss their chances and agree to help one another along
where they can. And if they lose they never seem to care; they joke about
it."

"But we never admit we've lost, because we never admit we were trying for
anything," put in Nita.

"I like the men's way best then," said Madeline decidedly.

"Let's try it," suggested Christy. "Girls, who of us here do you think
will make Dramatic Club in the first two elections?"

There was an awkward silence, then a general laugh.

"It won't work, you see," said Christy. "Well, of those who aren't here,
Marion Lustig will go in to-night of course,--she's our bright particular
literary star. And what do you think about Eleanor Watson?"

"Wouldn't she be more likely to go into the Clio Club next week?" asked
Nita Reese.

"Oh, no," objected Christy. "Didn't you know that Beatrice Egerton is
rushing her? And she's the president of the Dramatic Club."

"I don't care," insisted Nita. "I think Eleanor Watson is more the Clio
Club kind."

"That's another thing I want to know about," broke in Madeline Ayres.
"What is the Clio Club kind? You say the Dramatic Club isn't particularly
dramatic nowadays, but just amusing and literary, and the Clio Club is
the same. Why aren't the members the same sort too?"

"They're not, exactly," answered Christy. "I can't describe the
difference, but you'll notice it by the time you're a sophomore. The Clio
girls--oh, they have more executive ability. They're the kind that know
how to run things--all-around, capable, splendid girls. The Dramatic Club
is more for the stunty, talented, artistic sort."

"But Dorothy King is vice-president of the Dramatic Club," objected
Betty.

"She's the exception."

"Well, I still think," insisted Christy, "that which society a girl goes
into simply depends on where her friends are. Both societies want
executive ability, and they both want people who can write and act and
sing and do parlor stunts. I don't know Eleanor Watson very well, but I
have an idea that after her story in the 'Argus' the Dramatic Club will
be afraid of losing her to Clio, and so they'll take her to-night."

"Oh, I hope so," said Betty Wales under her breath to Madeline.

Later in the evening she told Helen all about the spread.

"It was so exciting," she began.

"How can a spread be exciting?" demanded Helen, sceptically.

"Oh, in lots of ways," responded Betty. "There's excitement about whether
the fudge will be done in time, and whether it will be good, and who's
going to be there, and how much of a box it is. But the most excitement
to-night was about society elections."

"Were they to-night?"

"Dramatic Club's was. It has first choice of the sophomores this year,
you know, and Clio Club has second; and we were guessing who would go in
to-night among the first four."

"Well, you know now, don't you?"

"Know? I should think not," said Betty impressively. "Helen Chase Adams,
haven't you noticed that society elections aren't announced till the next
Monday morning? Don't you remember last year how all that crowd of girls
came up to Mrs. Chapin's after Mary Brooks, and she'd gone down-town to
breakfast with Roberta, and was going to cut chapel; and how we all
rushed down after her, and how I stayed at the Main Street corner, in
case she'd left Cuyler's before the girls got there and come up the back
way? And she did just that, and what a time I had keeping her till the
girls got back!" Betty laughed heartily at the recollection.

"I didn't go down, but I do remember about it," admitted Helen. "Do they
always do it that way?"

"Always, only the four girls who go into each society first--they elect
only four at a time, you know--have about sixty times as much fuss made
over them as the ones who go in later."

"Then you'd better put your part of the room in order to-morrow," said
Helen significantly, glancing at the disorderly pile of books and papers
on Betty's desk, and at the pictures which she had brought back at
Christmas time and which still lay on the floor beside her couch, waiting
for her to find time to hang them.

Betty's glance followed Helen's to the desk and down to the floor. "I'll
hang those pictures this minute," she said, jumping up and rummaging
energetically through her desk drawer. "That is, if I can borrow some
picture wire" she added. "I remember now that mine is all gone. That's
why I've left them on the floor so long. But somebody must have some."
At the door she turned back suddenly. "But, Helen," she said, "I'm not
fixing up for society elections. I shan't go in this time--not for a
long while, if I ever do. And Helen--you know the girls never talk about
going in themselves."

"All right," said Helen submissively. "Who do you think was taken in
to-night?"

"Oh, the girls with one big talent. Didn't I tell you last year that
every Harding girl has to find out her one talent before she can amount
to anything? We think Bob will go in; she can do such beautiful
pantomimes, and she's such a prod. and such jolly fun too. Then Marion
Lustig because of her writing. Writing counts more than anything else,
and so I'm hoping for Eleanor Watson. I can't even guess who the fourth
one will be."

All day Sunday Mary Brooks and the other Dramatic Club juniors and
seniors in the Belden House went about wearing a tantalizing, don't-you-
wish-you-knew air, and after dinner when the whole house assembled in the
parlors as usual for coffee and music, they gathered in mysterious little
groups, which instantly dissolved at the approach of curious sophomores.

It seemed to Betty and Nita, interested on account of Eleanor and Bob,
that Monday morning would never come. But it did dawn at last, and after
an unconscionable delay--for the announcement committee went up to
Marion Lustig's first, and she boarded away off on the edge of the
meadows, and then to Emily Davis's, which was half a mile from the
college in quite another direction--the committee and its escort finally
reached the campus, and, gaining recruits at every step, made its
picturesque and musical way to the Westcott House after Bob. At this
point Betty and Nita joined it, and they had the exquisite pleasure of
seeing Bob blush so red that there was no need for a candle this time,
then turn very white, and clinging to the chairman's arm insist that
there must be some blunder--it couldn't be she that they wanted. Finally,
assured that the honor had indeed fallen to her, she broke into a war-
whoop which shook the house to its foundation and brought the matron on
the run to her door.

"Now Mrs. Alison, aren't you proud of your holy terror?" cried Bob in
tremulous, happy tones, holding out her tie with the Dramatic Club pin on
it. And in spite of the lateness of the hour and the wild desire of the
procession to know where it was going next, Mrs. Alison's delight over
the honor done her "holy terror" was well worth waiting to see.

And then--Betty squeezed Nita's hand till it ached. No--yes--they were
going to the Hilton! They weren't stopping on the second floor. Then it
must--oh, it must be Eleanor! And it was.

Margaret Payson was chairman of the announcement committee, but almost
before she could give Eleanor her note of invitation to the society
Beatrice Egerton had pressed forward and fastened her pin on Eleanor's
shirtwaist.

After seeing Bob's frenzied excitement it was amusing to watch Eleanor
Watson. She was perfectly composed. "Just as if she'd been expecting it,"
said little Alice Waite, who had joined the procession as it passed
through her corridor. "But she was pleased--I never saw her so pleased
before--and didn't it make her look lovely!"

As soon as the pin was safely fastened and the note read, there was
another tumult of congratulations. Then Beatrice Egerton took off the
great bunch of violets she was wearing,--"just till I could bring them
to you," she explained,--and carried Eleanor off to sit among the
seniors at chapel. Just opposite them was Emily Davis, with Dorothy King.
Emily was also wearing violets, and her plain face was almost pretty, it
was so full of happiness.

"Just to think," she whispered to Dorothy, "that you picked out me, when
you could have any one in 19--. I can't realize it!" She glanced at her
shabby coat, made over from Babe's discarded golf cape, and then at
Eleanor Watson's irreproachable blue walking suit and braided toque to
match. "Here all girls are really created free and equal, aren't they,
Miss King?"

"Of course. Don't be silly," said Dorothy, with a queer little catch in
her voice. Dorothy King was not at all sentimental, but the splendidly
democratic spirit of her college sometimes brought a lump into her
throat.

Only once that morning did the radiant smiles leave Eleanor Watson's
lovely face. That was when Katherine Kittredge, on the way out of chapel,
rallied her about her famous theme.

"Now aren't you glad Miss Raymond got up early that morning?" she said.

It was the first time that any one had referred to the story in
connection with her election to the Dramatic Club. Eleanor frowned and
turned to Beatrice Egerton, who was standing close beside her.

"Bess," she said, pouting, "did you run me in because of that footless
little story? Wasn't it for myself that you wanted me? Do say that it
was."

Miss Egerton smiled her lazy, enigmatical smile, which her admirers
considered the secret of her tremendous popularity. "Of course we wanted
you for yourself," she said, "but that footless little story, as you call
it, is a rather important asset. We expect you to keep on writing
footless little stories, remember."

"How tiresome!" said Eleanor, with a shrug of her shoulders. "That's the
bother of doing anything up here. What you do once, you are expected to
repeat indefinitely. Now my method is to do one thing as well as I can,
and then go on to something else."

"Just do them all as well as you did the story, and we shan't complain,"
said Miss Egerton. "And now, Eleanor, I must be off to Psychology One. Do
you suppose anybody will give a dinner for you to-night?"

"Yes, Miss Egerton," called Jean Eastman, appearing around the corner.
"Kate and I are giving one, and we want you to come, of course. And
Eleanor," she went on, after Miss Egerton had left them, "we want you to
answer to a toast--'My Story and How I Wrote It.' Now be just as clever
and amusing as you can. I thought I wouldn't spring it on you--"

"Jean," Eleanor broke in suddenly, "I won't answer to anything of the
sort. And if you have that story mentioned--even mentioned, remember--to-
night, I shall get up and leave. Give me your word that I shan't hear of
it in any way,--or give up the dinner."

Jean stared in astonishment. "Why certainly, Eleanor," she said, "but I
thought you had given up being so absurd. Is there any one in particular
that you want asked tonight?"

"Dora Carlson," flashed Eleanor, and hurried off, murmuring something
about a nine o'clock recitation at the other end of the main building.

Jean looked after her for a moment, her mouth twisted into a funny
grimace, and then pursued her way to the college library. At the door she
met Betty Wales. "Your face is one big smile," she said.

"Of course," laughed Betty. "Isn't it perfectly splendid about Eleanor
and Emily?"

Jean grinned cheerfully. "Considering last year I thought it was more or
less amusing to see the two of them sitting up there together on the
front row at chapel. I wonder if Eleanor remembers any of the remarks she
used to let drop about the genius of 19--. See here, Betty," she added
quickly, "have you any idea why Eleanor is so touchy about that story?
She won't even have it toasted tonight at the supper."

"No," said Betty. "I asked her, but she didn't tell me anything except
that she didn't care for it."

"Well, most people would begin to care for it a little, after it had
pulled them into the Dramatic Club among the first four," said Jean,
opening the library door and tiptoeing over to the anthropological
alcove. There she spent the hour, busily engaged in making out a new list
of toasts, that should avoid all mention of the objectionable story.

"But they must have some point," reflected Jean, sadly, as she ran her
pen through "My Story and How I Wrote It," and "The Rewards of
Literature" and "Our Rising Young Novelist," which she had intended for
herself and Kate Denise.

"Bother Eleanor's tantrums!" muttered Jean, as the ten o'clock gong rang,
and she picked up her books and hurried off to recite a French lesson
that, because of Eleanor's "tantrums," she had not learned.

And for Betty Wales Eleanor's election to the Dramatic Club also brought
disappointment. She had hoped that once Eleanor's ambition was gratified
and all her hard work and careful planning rewarded, the anxious lines
would leave her face and the sweeter, softer expression that she had worn
in September would come back. But though Eleanor professed the greatest
pleasure in the election, it did not seem to make her any less haughty or
capricious, or any better content with life. She still snubbed or
patronized her train of adoring freshmen by turns, according to her mood.
She was still a devoted admirer of Beatrice Egerton, and a member of her
very exclusive set. She received Betty's congratulations just as
cordially as she had every one's else,--it was one of Beatrice's
principles to treat everybody well "up to a certain point,"--but she did
not come to the third floor of the Belden House except on errands.



CHAPTER IX

THE COMPLICATIONS OF LIFE


By the middle of February basket-ball practice was in full swing again.
The class teams had not yet been chosen, but every Wednesday and Saturday
afternoon l9--'s last year's "regulars" and "subs" met in the gymnasium
to play exciting matches. Of course there were some changes in the make-
up of the teams. Two of the "sub" centres and a "regular" home had left
college; the guard who sprained her ankle in the great game of the year
before and whose place Katherine Kittredge had taken in the second half,
was not allowed to risk another such injury; and one or two other players
had lost interest in basket-ball and were devoting their energies to
something else. So there was a chance for outsiders, and Betty Wales, who
had almost "made" the freshman sub-team, was one of the new girls invited
to play in the practice matches.

Helen Adams had cut basket-ball all her freshman year, because Miss
Andrews never called the roll on basket-ball days. Now she could not get
enough of it, nor of regular gym. On Wednesday and Saturday afternoons
there were no classes, so she used to put on her gym. suit and go over to
watch the teams. And if some player failed to appear or was late in
arriving, T. Reed or Betty would suggest calling Helen down to take the
absentee's place. Helen was painfully awkward and not very strong, but
she had acquired T. Reed's habit of slipping under the outstretched arms
of the enemy and T. Reed's fashion of setting her teeth and getting the
ball in spite of opposition; and some of her plays were remarkably
effective.

"I believe," Betty said to her one day, as they lay side by side in a
sunny spot on the gym. floor, resting between the halves, "I believe, if
you'd begun last year when the rest of us did, you might have been on one
of the teams yourself."

Helen laughed a pleased little laugh. "Oh, no!" she said. "But I love to
play with you sometimes, and I love to watch Theresa."

"Isn't she a wonder?" said Betty dreamily. "Do you remember that game,
Helen? Wasn't it the most exciting thing? And this year it will be our
turn to win. Bob Parker has seen the picked freshman teams play, and she
thinks they haven't a chance against us."

"I hope you can be on the sub-team, Betty," said Helen.

"And I hope you can write your song for 19-- to sing to its team,"
returned Betty gaily. "You haven't forgotten about our talk the day of
the game, have you, Helen?"

"Oh, no!" said Helen, quickly. Not for worlds would she have let Betty
know how much she counted on that song. She had written another little
verse for her theme class, and that very morning it had come back with
"Good work--charming lilt," scrawled across the margin. So Helen had high
hopes for the song.

Just then the door of the gym. opened, and Lucy Merrifield, the president
of 19--, came in.

"Hello, Lucy," chorused the group of sprawling figures nearest the door.

"You're just in time to see us do up the regular team," called Elizabeth
West, who captained the "subs."

"Thank you," returned Lucy, "but I can't stay to see you do any such
unbecoming thing. I came on an errand to Betty Wales. Isn't she here?"

"Here I am," called Betty, scrambling upright and brushing the hair out
of her eyes.

"I came to tell you that you've been appointed to the Students'
Commission, to serve until Christy Mason gets back," explained Lucy.

"Till Christy gets back?" repeated Betty in bewilderment.

"Yes, she's been called home very suddenly. Her mother is ill, and
Christy is going to keep house and see to the children. She'll be away a
month anyhow and perhaps all this term. And as there are a lot of
important matters coming up just now, we decided that we would better
appoint a substitute on the commission."

"I'm afraid I can't be much help," began Betty, doubtfully.

"Oh, yes, you can," declared Lucy. "Come to the meeting to-morrow at two,
and we'll give you plenty to help about."

"Time's up," called the captain of the regulars, and Lucy ran for the
door, leaving Betty in a state of pleased excitement. Dorothy King was
president of her class this year, and therefore also president of the
Students' Commission. Marion Lawrence was a representative from the
junior class. To be even a temporary member of so august an assembly
seemed to Betty a very great privilege. She was so busy wondering who had
chosen her,--whether Lucy or the whole commission,--and what to-morrow's
meeting would be like, that she deliberately threw the ball twice toward
the wrong basket and never discovered her mistake until Elizabeth West
begged her please to "come to" and help her own side a little just for
variety.

On the way home Betty met Miss Ferris. "Come and have tea with me, little
girl," she said.

"Could I, like this?" asked Betty wistfully, pulling back her rain-coat
to show her gym. suit and the tightly braided pig-tails tucked inside.

Miss Ferris laughed. "I shouldn't mind, but some one else might drop in.
It takes me ten minutes to make tea. Now run!"

Exactly nine minutes and a half later. Betty, looking very slender and
stately in a clinging blue gown and a big plumed hat, her cheeks pink
with excitement and her hair blown into fascinating ringlets from her
brisk run across the campus, knocked timidly on Miss Ferris's door.

"Come in," called Miss Ferris. "You're early. The water hasn't boiled."

"It used to take me half an hour to dress, at the very fastest," said
Betty, slipping into a low chair by the fire, where she could watch Miss
Ferris making tea in a fat little silver pot, and pouring it into cups so
thin and beautiful that Betty hardly dared touch hers, and breathed a
deep sigh of relief when it was safely emptied and out of her hands.

Just as she was leaving, she told Miss Ferris about her appointment to
the Students' Commission.

"Well," said Miss Ferris, "that won't be new work for you. You were an
ex-officio member last year."

Betty looked puzzled.

"What you did for Miss Watson was Students' Commission work," explained
Miss Ferris. "And judging by the position Miss Watson seems to be taking
this year, I should call it very good work indeed."

[Illustration: "WELL," SAID MISS FERRIS, "THAT WON'T BE NEW WORK"]

"But you did it, not I," protested Betty.

"I did my part, you did yours," corrected Miss Ferris. "To be successful
nowadays, you know, you must not only work yourself, but you must get
other people to work for you."

"Yes," said Betty, vaguely. Then she laughed. "I'm afraid that I do the
second more than the first, Miss Ferris. My roommate thinks that I get a
great deal too much out of other people. And when I was at home Nan used
to tell me to be more independent and see how I could get along if I were
left on a desert island."

Miss Ferris smiled across the fire at her dainty little guest. "The best
things in the world,--which fortunately isn't a desert island,--come
about by cooperation," she said. "Be independent; think for yourself, of
course, but get all the help you can from other people in carrying out
your thoughts."

The dinner-bell began to jangle noisily in the hall and Betty rose
hastily. "I've stayed too long," she said, "but I always do that when I
come to see you. I shall tell my roommate what you said. Do you suppose I
shall ever learn to think up arguments for myself?"

"Of course," said Miss Ferris, encouragingly. "That's one thing you're
here for--to learn to argue and to dress in a hurry and to work on
Students' Commissions. You'll master them all in time. Good-bye."

When Betty got back to the Belden House the bell had rung there too, and
as the girls stood about in the halls and parlors waiting for Mrs. Cass,
the matron, to lead them in to dinner, they were all discussing what Mary
Brooks could mean by a "hair-raising."

"It sounds like a house-raising," said a girl from Nebraska. "I mean the
sort of thing they have away out west, where laborers are scarce and the
whole town turns out to help a man get up the timbers of his house."

"But there's no sense to that kind of a hair-raising," objected the
Nebraskan's roommate, who was from Boston. "I think that Mary has
invented a hair tonic and is going to try it on us before she has it
patented."

"I'm sure I hope so," said Madeline Ayres, patting her diminutive twist
of hair tenderly.

"Why, it's some kind of party she's giving for her mother," announced a
stately senior, authoritatively.

"I don't see how that tells what it is, though," said Betty. "Am I
invited?"

"Yes," explained Helen Adams. "Mary came in while you were out and asked
us."

"But she hasn't said anything about expecting her mother."

At this everybody laughed and Marion Lawrence explained that Mary, being
a very busy person, had a habit of putting away her letters unopened,
until she found time to read them.

"And somehow she thought this was a book-bill from Longstreet's--you know
how near-sighted she is--so she stuck it into her desk until she got her
next month's allowance. But to-day she found some money that she'd put in
her collar-case for safe-keeping and forgotten about; so she got out the
bill to pay it, and it turned out to be a letter from her mother, saying
she was coming up tonight. Mary wouldn't have her know for anything, so
she decided to give a hair-raising to-night, as if she'd planned for it
days ahead."

"But what is it?" demanded Betty.

If Miss Lawrence was in Mary's confidence she had no intention of
betraying it; and there was nothing to do but wait for eight o'clock, the
hour which Mary had mentioned in her invitations. Promptly on the moment
all those bidden to the hair-raising made a rush for Mary's room.

"She hasn't come back from taking dinner with her mother," said Helen.
"Her transom is dark."

But "come in, children," called Mary, sociably, and opening the door just
wide enough to admit one girl at a time she disclosed a room absolutely
dark save for a gleam of light from a Turkish lantern in one corner.

"Goodness!" cried Betty, who went in first. "What am I running into? Oh,
it's a skeleton."

"I'm all mixed up with a snake," added Katherine. "I feel my hair rising
already."

"Girls, I want you to meet my mother," said Mary, briskly.

"Here I am," called a sweet voice from the shadows. "Wouldn't you better
turn on the lights for a moment, daughter?"

"No, indeed," retorted Mary, firmly. "They're nothing to see, dear, I
assure you, but if you insist on seeing them you can all go across to
Laurie's room and come back after you've had a general inspection."

So everybody filed over to Marion Lawrence's room, where it was
discovered that Mary's mother was, as Betty Wales put it, "a perfect
little darling." She was small, like Mary, and she looked so young that
Katherine gravely asked Mary if she was quite sure she wasn't palming off
a sister on them instead of a mother. She entered into all the
absurdities of the hair-raising, which proved to be only a particularly
diverting sort of ghost party, with as much zest as any of the girls, and
her ghost stories were the feature of the evening.

"You see, dear," explained Mary, when the lights were finally turned on
and the hair-raising had resolved itself into a spread, "you see I had a
hair-raising because you tell ghost stories so well. Why, ever since I
read your letter I've been planning how I should show you off--Oh,
mother, it's too good to keep." And Mary regaled her mother with the
story of the neglected book-bill.

"Speaking of lost letters," said Marion Lawrence, "there's a letter for
Frances West over on the zoology bulletin board in Science Hall. It's
been there for two weeks."

"What a funny place for it!" said Mary. "Frances never as much as sticks
her head inside Science Hall. She thinks it's wrong to cut up frogs and
angle-worms. How did it get there, Laurie?"

"Postman dropped it, probably, and somebody who didn't know any better
stuck it up there--the janitor, maybe."

"Perhaps Frances dropped it herself," suggested Madeline Ayres.

Marion shook her head. "Anyhow if she did, she hasn't read it. I noticed
that it hadn't been opened."

"Perhaps it's a letter like Mary's, saying that her mother is coming,"
suggested Helen Adams.

"Guess again. It can't be that, because her mother wouldn't direct a
letter to the editor-in-chief of the 'Argus.'"

"Hear that, Dottie," called Mary Brooks to Dorothy King, who was sitting
on the divan below the Turkish lantern, talking busily with Mrs. Brooks.
"There's a letter for your chief over on the zoology bulletin board.
You'd better stop in and get it for her."

"Isn't it funny," said Rachel Morrison, "that, as well as Frances West is
known in college and as many juniors and seniors as look at that bulletin
board, nobody has thought to take her the letter."

"Why didn't you take it to her, Laurie?" asked Mary severely.

"Oh, because I wanted to see how long it would stop there if I didn't
take it," returned Marion easily. "I'm writing a theme on 'What's
everybody's business is nobody's business,' and I want to get the
psychology right. Oh, Mrs. Brooks," she called, getting up and going over
to the divan, "did you know that Mary had set a fashion up here? Ever
since her 'Rumor' story, we're all racking our brains to see if we can't
get up some psychological experiments that will make Professor Hinsdale
think we're clever too."

"And most of you," said Mary loftily, "just succeed in making your
friends uncomfortable. I hope Frances' letter won't upset her the way
mine did."

"Oh, I guess it isn't a hair-raiser," said Marion easily. "It's probably
a bill for printer's ink or paper, or whatever they buy for the 'Argus.'
You get it to-morrow, Dottie, and then you can tell us what is in it."

"I will," said Dorothy.

Just as she spoke the twenty-minute-to-ten bell clanged suggestively in
the corridors, and the hair-raising came to an abrupt end.

"I don't think I care much for hair-raisings," said Betty, as she and
Helen made hasty preparations for bed. "I think you have enough to worry
about and be frightened over, without getting up a lot of extra things on
purpose. I can hear that blood-hound panting under the window this very
minute. Isn't Mrs. Brooks a wonderful story-teller?"

"Yes. I didn't suppose you were ever worried or frightened over things,"
said Helen.

"Well, I am," returned Betty. "I'm worrying this very minute about my to-
morrow's recitations. I'd planned to study tonight but how could I hurt
Mary's feelings by not going to the hair-raising? I suppose," went on
Betty, when Helen did not answer, "I suppose you want to ask why I don't
sit up to study? But if I did I should be breaking a rule, and besides,"
concluded Betty, yawning prodigiously, "I am altogether too sleepy to sit
up, so I am just going to sleep and forget all my troubles." And Betty
suited the action to the word.

A few moments later she roused herself. "Life is just full of things to
decide, isn't it, Helen? And so often you can't tell which one is best--
like me going to the hair-raising to-night, or Marion Lawrence and that
letter."

"I think she ought to have delivered the letter," said Helen.

"But it was such fun not to," objected Betty. "And probably it was only
an advertisement. Now I'm really going to sleep."



CHAPTER X

IN THE "ARGUS" SANCTUM


Dorothy King hurried down the steps of Science Hall and across the campus
to the main building, carrying Frances West's belated letter in her hand.
She stopped for a moment in Miss Stuart's office to tell her that the
Students' Commission wanted to hold a mass-meeting of the whole college
at the end of the month, and waited while Miss Stuart, who was an
enthusiastic supporter of the commission, obligingly hunted up an
available date for the meeting, and promised to hold it open until the
final arrangements could be perfected. Outside the office door Dorothy
hesitated and looked at her watch. Quarter past four; laboratory work was
over for the afternoon, and there would be ten girls to one copy of
Ward's "Poets" in the library.

"I'll go up there this evening," she decided swiftly, "and now for a
skate before dinner," and she swung off toward the Hilton House to get
her skates and her sweater. As she put out her hand to open the door, she
suddenly noticed that she was still carrying Frances' letter, and gave an
impatient little exclamation. "All out of my way," she thought, "so I
might as well take it back now and get rid of it."

The editorial office of the "Argus" was in the Students' Building, over
behind the gym. As she went, Dorothy congratulated herself that it was
this errand, and not the one to Miss Stuart, which she had forgotten; for
the main building was twice as far away. She wondered idly whether
Frances would be in the "sanctum"; she often spent her free afternoons
there, for the big building, which was used chiefly in the evening for
club meetings, plays, and other social and semi-social functions, was
generally silent and deserted earlier in the day; and the quiet and the
view over Paradise river from the west windows of the sanctum appealed to
the poetic soul of the chief editor. Dorothy, who was a very practical
person herself, had a vast admiration for Frances' dreamy, imaginative
temperament, and enjoyed her work as business manager of the "Argus"
chiefly because it brought her into close contact with Frances; while
Frances in her turn admired Dorothy's executive ability, and depended on
her to soften the hearts of obdurate printers, stir the consciences of
careless assistant editors, and in short to stand as a sort of buffer
between her beloved "Argus" and a careless world. Dorothy hoped that
Frances would be in the sanctum; it would be fun to tell her about the
letter. But if not, all responsibility could be fulfilled by dropping it
and a note of explanation into the editorial mail-box.

But Frances was there, and also Beatrice Egerton, who, as exchange editor
of the "Argus," Dorothy had come to know well and to like for her quick
wit and her daring, piquant ways, while she thoroughly disapproved of her
worldly, self-seeking attitude toward college life.

"Hello, Dottie," called Beatrice, when Dorothy opened the door. "We
thought you weren't coming, Frances and I."

"Why should I be coming?" inquired Dorothy curiously, tossing the letter
into Frances' lap.

"Proof!" exclaimed Beatrice, with a funny little grimace.

Dorothy sank down on the long window seat, which ran across two sides of
the sanctum, with a groan and a gesture of despair. "I entirely forgot,"
she said. "I was going skating. Could it possibly wait till to-morrow?"

Frances West looked helplessly at Beatrice. "I'm sure I don't know," she
said. "You told me that to-day was the time. I always depend on you to
keep track."

Beatrice laughed gaily. "I'm so glad I happened in," she said. "It's such
a lovely spectacle to see the methodical Dottie King trying to persuade
the poetical and always-behind-time Frances to put off till to-morrow
what she ought to have done day before yesterday. Come, Dottie, take off
your coat and go to work."

"I'm sorry I'm always late," said Frances, sweetly. "I've decided to try
to be on time now that we've got our new rugs and these lovely green
curtains. So I bought a calendar pad and put down my date for reading
proof with you last week, when you first reminded me of it."

Dorothy had followed Beatrice's instruction to take off her coat. Now she
sat down resignedly before the writing-table, pulled a long strip of
printer's proof off the spindle, and dipped her pen in the ink, ready for
work. "How do you happen to be here, Bess?" she asked.

"Came to read my mail," said Beatrice. "Some of the best exchanges are
out about this time in the month. When you didn't come, I tried to
correct proof with Frances, but we couldn't either of us remember the
printers' marks; and our Webster's dictionary, that has them in the back,
got lost in the shuffle of house-cleaning last vacation."

"Then if the dictionary is lost, you must stay," said Dorothy, "because I
can correct proof, but I can't spell, and neither can Frances. Come,
Frances, here's the copy for you to read."

Frances West's voice had a peculiarly charming quality, and her manner of
reading was so absorbed and sympathetic that she never failed to interest
her auditors; so that even the mechanical drudgery of correcting proof
was endurable with her help. The work went on rapidly, Dorothy bending
over the long printers' galleys, adding mysterious little marks here and
there in the wide margins, Frances reading as expressively as though she
were doing her best to entertain Beatrice Egerton, who curled herself up
on the window-seat, listened, made flippant comments, perused her
exchanges when the "Argus" articles did not interest her, and when
appealed to by Dorothy, acted as substitute for the missing Webster's
dictionary.

"Well, that's over," said Dorothy, at last, straightening in her chair
and stretching out her cramped arms over her head. "Next month will be
Laura Dale's turn again. I wonder if she'll do it."

"Poor Dottie!" mimicked Beatrice. "'Could you do it just once more? I
can't seem to learn the marks.' That's what she'll say. You shouldn't be
so capable, Dottie, and then you could go skating afternoons instead of
doing your own work and the assistant business manager's too."

"Oh, I don't mind," said Dorothy, who was really very tired indeed, and
so preferred not to talk about it. "Laura is a great deal of help with
some parts of the work, and I don't blame any one for not wanting to
correct proof--though I don't mind doing it so long as Frances will read
for me. Aren't our new curtains lovely?"

"Such a cool, woodsy green," said Frances.

"Just right for poets to write behind," supplemented Beatrice, who loved
to tease Frances, though in her heart she admired her as much as Dorothy
did.

"Girls, it's long after six," said Dorothy, rising abruptly, "and I must
go. I have an evening's work still before me."

As she picked up her gloves, she noticed Frances' letter still lying
neglected on the window-seat. "Here, Frances," she said, "do just open
this letter, and tell me that it's dreadfully important. I want to bother
Laurie about it. She saw it on the zoology bulletin board last week and
didn't trouble herself to bring it to you."

"Oh, I presume it's nothing," said Frances, dreamily. She was watching
the sunset glowing gold and scarlet between the green draperies.

"Here, Frances," laughed Beatrice, thrusting the letter into her hands.
"Read it by the light of the dying sun, if you prefer that to good green-
shaded electricity. You owe it to Dorothy to take an interest when she
bothered herself to bring it to you, and so got caught and deprived of
her afternoon's fun. Poor Dottie! can't you go skating tomorrow?"

They were animatedly discussing the possibility of Miss Mills's
neglecting to call for a recitation on Ward's "Poets" the next day, when
Frances gave a little exclamation.

"Why, girls," she began, excitedly. "I don't understand. Isn't to-day the
twentieth of February?"

"Yes, dear," said Beatrice. "You knew from that wonderful calendar pad,
didn't you?"

Frances disregarded the question. "Then--Why, this letter is dated
February second. Where has it been all the time?"

"I just told you," repeated Dorothy, "that Laurie saw it on the zoology
bulletin board last week. Perhaps it was there a week or two before she
saw it. Is it really important, Frances? Laurie supposed from the
direction that it was just a bill or an advertisement. She'll be very
sorry."

"Oh, I don't know what it is," declared Frances, in bewilderment. "Read
it," and she held out the letter to Dorothy.

"Read it aloud," suggested Beatrice.

"Yes, do," added Frances. "I haven't any idea what it means."

   "'The Quiver' Offices,
   "--Fulton St., New York,
   "Feb. 2, 19--.

   "MISS FRANCES WEST,
   "Editor-in-Chief of Harding
   "College 'Argus':

"DEAR MADAME:--It always gives me great pleasure to see the merits of
'The Quiver' recognized, particularly in haunts of high culture, like
your alma mater. Nevertheless, you will readily understand that the
little tribute to the genius of one of our contributors, contained in
your December number, which, owing to my prolonged absence from the city,
has just now come under my observation, is, to speak bluntly, deserving
of some return from me. I have no doubt that you will be glad to offer
the proper explanation. If, however, you insist upon leaving the matter
in my hands, I assure you that I shall not mince matters. College honor
is a point about which I am very sensitive. We go to press on the
twentieth inst. Until that time I am

"Yours confidentially,
"RICHARD BLAKE."

"Well," said Dorothy, folding the letter carefully and putting it back in
its envelope, "what do you make of that, Bess?"

"Nothing," said Beatrice, "nothing at all. Who in the world is Richard
Blake?"

"I don't know. Don't you, Frances?"

Frances shook her head. "But 'The Quiver' is a magazine. I've seen a copy
once or twice."

"Then," said Dorothy, promptly, "Richard Blake must be the editor, or one
of them."

"Well, did we say anything about him in the December number?" pursued
Beatrice. "Or anything about his magazine?"

"No," declared Dorothy, "of course not. 'The Quiver' isn't a college
magazine, is it, Frances? It couldn't be on the list of exchanges?"

"Oh, no," said Frances, wearily. "'The Quiver' is a real magazine,
Dorothy. It's new, I think, but I know Miss Raymond considers it very
clever. I saw a copy once in her room."

"Clever or not clever," said Beatrice, calmly, "I'm sure this editor must
be insane. There is absolutely no sense to his letter."

Dorothy unfolded Mr. Richard Blake's missive, read it through once more,
and passed it without comment to Beatrice. Meanwhile Frances was
rummaging through the files of the "Argus."

"Here it is," she said at last. "Didn't he say the January number?"

"No, December," corrected Beatrice, joining-Frances in her search for the
missing magazine.

"There," said Frances, at last, reading down the table of contents. "'The
Self-government System at Harding'--he wouldn't be mentioned in that. My
poem is next--he certainly isn't in that. Then that story of Eleanor
Watson's, and an essay on 'Sweetness and Light.'"

"Perhaps he's in that," suggested Dorothy, hopefully. "It sounds as if it
might mean almost anything."

Beatrice Egerton giggled. "You didn't take the course in nineteenth
century essayists, I guess, Dottie. He's not in 'Sweetness and Light,'
unless Richard Blake is an alibi of Matthew Arnold's."

"And he couldn't possibly be in any of these sketches," went on Frances,
anxiously, "nor in the editorials, nor in the alumnae notes."

"Of course not," agreed Beatrice, scornfully. "See here, girls," she
added, referring again to the note, "he doesn't tell us the name of his
contributor--the simpleton! That's what we ought to look for. He says we
printed a tribute to the genius of one of his contributors."

"I have it!" declared Dorothy, pulling the December "Argus" out of
Frances' hands. "The contributor is a member of the faculty, and the
article is spoken of in the faculty notes. That's it, of course."

But diligent search of the faculty notes failed to unearth any item about
an article in "The Quiver."

"Besides," added Beatrice, who had returned to the note once more, "that
wouldn't explain what he says about college honor. And what is this about
'offering the proper explanation'? Are people supposed to explain
compliments?"

"I don't know," said Frances. "I suppose I've made some dreadful blunder,
and he noticed it. And to-day is the twentieth; he evidently wanted an
answer by that time. Do you think I ought to telegraph?"

"No," said Dorothy, after a moment's thought "It wouldn't be any use. If
he went to press--or 'The Quiver' went to press--to-day, it's gone hours
ago. You'd better write him to-night. He'll get your letter in the
morning, and then he'll understand."

"But what am I to write?" asked Frances, helplessly.

"Tell him to study Genung on clearness," suggested Beatrice, flippantly.

"Don't, Beatrice," broke in Dorothy. "This is evidently a serious matter.
I should tell him that you didn't know what he meant by his letter,
Frances, and of course explain why you haven't written before."

"Will you two stay while I write it?" asked Frances. "I should never dare
to take the responsibility alone."

Dorothy sat down on the window-seat in silence, and Beatrice followed her
example. There was no sound in the sanctum but the scratching of Frances'
pen, moving swiftly over the paper. When the brief note was finished, the
editor-in-chief handed it to her colleagues.

"That's all right," said Dorothy, reading it through.

"Infinitely better than his," added Beatrice. "His reminds me of that
verse of Marion Lustig's that was more obscure than Browning--the one we
persuaded you not to print."

"Don't you think," began Dorothy hesitatingly, "that, until we know
exactly what Mr. Richard Blake means, it would be better not to mention
his letter?"

"Not even to the rest of the 'Argus' board?" asked Beatrice, who had been
anticipating the sensation that the story of the mysterious letter would
create. "Dottie," she went on, looking keenly at Dorothy, "I believe you
have another idea about what that note means."

"I know just as little about it as you do," said Dorothy quietly, "but I
think eight girls are too many to keep a secret and--it's Frances'
letter. She must decide."

"I think Dorothy is right," agreed Frances. "I believe that we would
better wait before telling the others. If it's some dreadful blunder that
I have made, perhaps I could correct it if only we three knew of it.
Though I don't know whether that would be quite honest," she added sadly.

Beatrice put her arm around Frances' waist and led her to the door.

"You old dear," she said, "you're so proud of your beloved 'Argus.' I
believe you worry over every word that goes into it."

"And over every s that is upside-down and isn't detected by my eagle
eye," laughed Dorothy, locking the door and carefully hiding the key in
the place where half the college knew it was kept.

It was seven o'clock--no use going home to dinner. Dorothy decided to get
an early start with Ward's "Poets," and to dine later in the evening on
ship's biscuit and a glass of milk. The library was very quiet. She read
busily, concentrating her attention upon the pages before her, oblivious
of her surroundings, forgetful even of the mysterious letter and the
theory, which, despite her declaration to Beatrice Egerton, she had
formed concerning it.

Presently some one tiptoed up behind her and clasped two hands tightly
across her eyes.

"Who is it?" whispered a laughing voice.

"I don't know," answered Dorothy a trifle irritably.

"Did you give it to her?" demanded the voice imperturbably.

"Give what to whom?"

"The letter to Frances West."

"It's Mary Brooks," said Dorothy, pulling away the hands and turning to
find Mary and Marion Lawrence standing behind her chair.

"Aren't you nearly through with that book?" asked Marion.

Dorothy nodded. "Leave me in peace for ten minutes and you may have it."

"Well, tell us first about the letter," demanded Mary. "Was it a hair-
raiser?"

"Oh, no," answered Dorothy calmly. "It was--oh, a note of thanks, or
something of the sort from some magazine that the 'Argus' had spoken of."

"Bother!" said Marion. "That's no good for an ending to my theme."

"No good at all," agreed Dorothy. "I shouldn't use it if I were you."

"I certainly shan't," said Marion. "I can invent a nicer ending than
that. Come, Mary, leave her alone, so that I can have Ward. Oh, dear! I'm
dreadfully disappointed about my theme."

The reply to Mr. Richard Blake, presumably editor of "The Quiver," had
been dispatched on the evening of the twentieth. Two days later Frances,
looking as if she had seen a ghost, stopped Dorothy on her way from
morning chapel to her first recitation.

"Can you come to the sanctum right after lunch?" she asked. "Beatrice can
come then."

"Yes," returned Dorothy. "You've got his answer?"

Frances nodded. "And oh, Dorothy, it's just dreadful!"

When Dorothy reached the sanctum that afternoon she found Beatrice and
Frances there before her. Without a word Frances handed her the letter.

"MY DEAR MISS WEST--" it ran:

"Your note is received and the delay in sending it fully explained. I am
sorry you could make nothing of my first letter. I intended to be vague,
for I wanted to test your knowledge of the episode in question; but it
seems I overshot the mark. So let me say, please, since you and your
colleagues evidently do not read 'The Quiver' that a story in your
December number by a Miss Eleanor Watson is practically a copy of one
that appeared in our November issue, which I am sending you under
separate cover. All I ask is that some public acknowledgment of the fact
shall be made, either by you or by me. I have delayed the notice I
intended to insert in our next number, until I hear from you.

"Let me say that I blame neither you nor your associates in the matter.
'The Quiver' is young, and plagiarists will happen.

"Yours very truly,
"RICHARD BLAKE."

"Has the magazine come?" asked Dorothy, without exhibiting the least
surprise at Mr. Blake's startling announcement.

"Yes," said Frances. "There must be some dreadful mistake."

"Can't you find the story he means?"

"Yes, but of course Eleanor Watson didn't copy it. No Harding girl would
do such a thing."

"Eleanor Watson is different," said Dorothy.

"You mean you think she did it?" asked Beatrice Egerton. "You don't think
it was a coincidence? Frances knew of something like it happening once,
entirely by chance."

"This wasn't chance," said Dorothy slowly. "Oh, Beatrice--you know
Eleanor Watson better than I--I don't want to be uncharitable. That was
why I didn't tell you girls the other day, when it occurred to me that
this was what Mr. Blake meant. Can't you see that it explains everything?
Don't you remember I told you how queer she was about giving me the
story; and before that, just after she handed it in, she went over to get
it back."

"Yes," said Frances eagerly. "I remember. We thought it such a good joke.
Oh, let us go and ask her how it was. She will surely be able to
explain."

"But Frances," began Dorothy and stopped, glancing uncertainly at
Beatrice.

"Oh, you needn't mind me," said Beatrice calmly. "If this is true, I wash
my hands of Eleanor Watson." She turned to Frances, and her face
softened. "You dear old idealist," she said, pulling Frances down on the
seat beside her. "Can't you see that appealing to Eleanor Watson wouldn't
do at all? Can't you see that if she is mean enough to plagiarize 'The
Quiver's' story, she is probably capable of lying out of it? And how
should we know whether or not she told the truth?"

"Or suppose that she did convince us," said Dorothy gently, "you see
there is still Mr. Blake. I don't believe Eleanor's denial would satisfy
him."

"Well," said Beatrice resignedly, "next to Eleanor Watson herself, I
suppose I am the person who would profit most by having this whole affair
hushed up. It's going to be mighty unpleasant for me, what with my having
put her up for Dramatic Club and all that. But frankly, I don't see what
there is to do but let Mr. Richard Blake go ahead and say what he
pleases. Eleanor Watson will probably leave college. Some people will
believe the story and some won't. Some won't even hear it--'The Quiver'
seems to be a very obscure magazine. And in nine days every one will
forget all about it."

"But Eleanor Watson will never forget," added Frances softly. To her art
was sacred and the idea of stealing it horrible.

There was a silence broken at last by Dorothy.

"Frances," she said, "you're right, you always are. You divine things
that the rest of us have to reason out. This affair is unpleasant for
everybody concerned, but it isn't a vital matter to us or to Mr. Blake.
The only person to be considered is Eleanor Watson. If the matter is made
public--"

"It would serve her right, and it might be the best thing in the world
for her," broke in Beatrice, who was growing more angry with Eleanor the
longer she thought of the intimacy between them.

"That," said Dorothy, "is the question we have to decide. I for one am
not at all sure what to think. Being publicly humiliated might be a good
thing for her, or it might ruin her whole life."

"Oh, I can't bear to have people know about it," said Frances, her face
white with horror. "Let us go home now and think it over, and let us be
oh! so careful not even to hint at what has happened. We may have to
confide in some others, but let us not give up the chance of keeping our
secret by telling the wrong people now. And let us meet again tomorrow
afternoon."

"In your room," suggested Beatrice. "This place is too conspicuous."

The three editors crept down the stairs like so many conspirators,
separated with soft good-byes in the lower hall, and went their several
ways, each feeling that the weight of the world rested on her shoulders.
To Beatrice the affair was a personal one, involving her judgment and her
status in the college world; Frances mingled pity for Eleanor with
jealousy for the fair name of the "Argus"; Dorothy was going over the
career of Eleanor Watson since she entered Harding, wondering whether it
would be possible, by any method of treatment, to make her over into a
trustworthy member of the student body, and whether she would ever be
worth to the world what her evil influence had cost her college. All at
once a bitter thought flashed upon Dorothy. She herself was partly
responsible for Eleanor's downfall; for had she not persuaded her,
against her will, to give the story to the "Argus"?



CHAPTER XI

A PROBLEM IN ETHICS

Betty Wales sat in Dorothy King's big wicker easy chair, an expression of
mingled distress and perplexity on her usually merry face. Dorothy had
sent word that she was ill and wanted to see her little friend, and Betty
had hurried over in her first free period, never guessing at the strange
story that Dorothy had summoned her to hear. The story was told now. It
remained only for Betty to decide what she should do about it.

"It's the most annoying thing," Dorothy was saying from the bed where she
lay, pale and listless, among the pillows. "I've heard of girls being ill
from overwork, and I always thought they were good-for-nothings, glad of
an excuse to stay in bed for awhile. But I can't get up, Betty. I tried
hard this morning before the doctor came, and it made me so sick and
faint--you can't imagine. So there was nothing to do but submit when she
insisted upon my going to the infirmary for two weeks."

"I'm so sorry," murmured Betty sympathetically.

"She tried to make me promise not to see any one except the matron before
I was moved," went on Dorothy, "but I told her I must talk to you for
half an hour. I promised on my honor not to keep you longer than that,
and we haven't but ten minutes left. Now won't you decide to go and see
Mr. Blake?"

"Oh, I don't know what to decide!" cried Betty in despairing tones. "It's
so dreadful that Eleanor should have done it. That's all I can think of."

"But listen to me, Betty," began Dorothy patiently. "Let me show you just
how matters stand. Frances can't go down to New York alone--you can see
that. She doesn't know the city, and she'd get lost or run over, and ten
to one come home without even remembering to see Mr. Blake. You can't
believe how absent-minded she is, till you've worked with her as I have.
Besides, she is too dreamy and imaginative to convince a man of Mr.
Blake's type.

"And Bess Egerton mustn't go; Frances and I are agreed about that. She's
too flighty. She'd be angry if Mr. Blake didn't yield his point
immediately, and say something outrageous to him. Then she'd go off
shopping and come back here in the best of spirits, declaring that there
was nothing to be done because Mr. Blake was 'such a silly.' And I can't
go."

"If you only could!" broke in Betty. "Then it would be all right. Isn't
there any chance that you might be able to by the end of next week?"

Dorothy shook her head. "I couldn't get leave, on top of this two weeks'
illness, without telling Miss Stuart exactly why I needed to go, and I
don't want to do that. Miss Raymond knows all about it and approves, and
we don't want to confide in any one else. Besides, I doubt if Mr. Blake
will wait so long."

"Well then, Dorothy, why not write to him?"

Dorothy shook her head again. "We tried that. We wrote one letter, and
when his answer came we tried again, but eight pages was the least we
could get our arguments into. No, it's a case where talking it out is the
only thing to do. You could take him unawares and I'm sure you'd bring
him round."

"That's just it," broke in Betty eagerly. "I know you're mistaken,
Dorothy. I couldn't think of a thing to say to him--I never can. It would
be just a waste of time for me to try."

Dorothy took a bulky envelope from under her pillows and held it out to
Betty. "Here," she said. "These are the letters we wrote. We all three
tried. Here are arguments in plenty."

"But I should forget them all when I got there."

"You mustn't."

"Besides, it would look so queer for me to go, when I'm not on the
'Argus' board, and have nothing to do with the trouble."

"Didn't I tell you why we chose you?" exclaimed Dorothy. "No? I am so
stupid to-day; I put everything the wrong way around. Why, there were two
reasons. One is because you are so fond of Eleanor and understand her so
well. Nobody on the 'Argus' staff, except Beatrice and myself, has more
than a bowing acquaintance with her, whereas you can tell Mr. Blake
exactly what sort of girl she is, and why we want to save her from this
disgrace. The other reason is that, while Christy is away, you are one of
the two sophomores on the Students' Commission; Eleanor is a sophomore
and either you or Lucy Merrifield is the proper person to act in her
interests in a case of this kind. Because you know Eleanor best, we chose
you--and for some other reasons," added Dorothy, truthfully, remembering
the confidence they had all felt in Betty's peculiar combination of
engaging manner and indomitable pluck and perseverance, where a promise
or a friend was concerned.

"Oh, Dorothy!" sighed Betty, feeling herself hopelessly entangled in the
web of Dorothy's logic.

"There is a third reason," went on Dorothy, inexorably, "just between you
and me. Of course you understand that I feel personally to blame about
this trouble. If I hadn't lost my horrid temper and said something
disagreeable to force her hand, Eleanor Watson might never have allowed
the story to be printed and the worst complications would have been
avoided. Now I personally ask you, as the person I can best trust, to go
to Mr. Blake for me. You know Eleanor. You agree with us that it is very
likely to spoil her whole life if this is made public--"

"But, Dorothy, I'm not sure it's right to keep it a secret," broke in
Betty.

"I believe you will feel sure when you have had a chance to think over
all sides of the question," resumed Dorothy, "and to see how much to
blame I am. Then you are a typical Harding girl, the right sort to
represent the college to Mr. Blake, who seems to be very much interested
in knowing what sort of girl Harding turns out."

"Oh, no!" demurred Betty. "I'm not the right kind at all."

"Besides, you have a way of getting around people and persuading them to
do what you want," concluded Dorothy.

"Never," declared Betty.

Dorothy smiled faintly. "You have the reputation," she said. "Of course I
don't know how you got it; but now that you have it you're bound to live
up to it, you know. And if you don't go, we shall have to risk writing
and I am perfectly certain that no letter will keep Mr. Blake from
publishing his notice next month, whereas I think that if he were to talk
over the matter with you, he might very easily be persuaded to give it
up."

Dorothy lay back on her pillows and closed her eyes. "It does certainly
seem like shirking to be ill just now," she said.

Betty rose hastily and came over to the bed. "Dorothy," she began, "I
must go this minute. You are all tired out. I wish I could promise now,
but I must think it over--whether I can do what you want of me and
whether I ought. I'll tell you what," she went on eagerly, "I can't see
you again, but I'll send you a bunch of violets the first thing in the
morning, and I'll tuck in a note among the flowers, saying what I can do.
And it will be the very best I can do, Dorothy."

"I know it will," said Dorothy. "Don't think that I don't realize how
much we're asking of you."

"I like to be trusted," said Betty, ruefully, "but it seems to me there
are hundreds of girls in college who could do this better than I. Good-
bye--and look out for the violets, Dorothy."

A moment later she opened the door again. "Of course Eleanor doesn't know
that you've found out?"

"No," said Dorothy. "We've told no one but you and Miss Raymond. We
thought it would only complicate matters and hurt her needlessly to tell
her now. I suppose she will have to know eventually, to guard against a
repetition of the trouble, if for no other reason; but we haven't looked
so far ahead as that yet."

It was fortunate that Betty was not called upon to recite in her next
class. Refusing the seat that Bob Parker had saved for her between
herself and Alice Waite, she found a place in the back row where a pillar
protected her from Bob's demonstrations, and leaning her head on her hand
she set herself to work out the problem that Dorothy had given her. But
the shame of Eleanor's act overcame her, as it had in Dorothy's room; she
could not think of anything else. She woke with a start at the end of the
hour to find the girls pushing back their chairs and making their noisy
exit from the room, and to realize that she might as well have learned
something about Napoleon's retreat from Moscow, since she had decided
nothing about her trip to New York.

"I say," said Bob, joining her outside the door, "why are you so
unsociable?"

"Headache," returned Betty, laconically, and with some truth.

"Too bad." Owing to the fact that she had never had a headache in her
life, Bob's sympathy was somewhat perfunctory.

"When you have the written lesson to study for, too," mourned Alice.

"Written lesson?" questioned Betty, in dismay.

"Yes. Didn't you hear Professor White giving it out for to-morrow? All of
Napoleon--that's five hundred pages."

Betty gasped. "I suppose he made a lot of new points to-day. I didn't
hear a word."

"Next time," said Bob, severely, "perhaps you'll be willing to sit down
among people who can see that you keep awake."

"Don't tease her," begged Alice. "She must have an awful headache, not to
have heard about the written lesson. What did you think we were all
groaning so about, Betty?"

"I didn't hear that, either," said Betty, meekly. "Will one of you lend
me a notebook?"

Betty could have hugged Helen Adams when immediately after luncheon she
announced that she was going down to study history with T. Reed and
should stay till dinner time. Betty hung a "Busy" sign on her door--the
girls would think that she too was studying history madly--and set
herself to read over the original of Eleanor's story in "The Quiver" that
Dorothy had lent her. It was the same and yet not the same. Plot and
characters had been taken directly from the original, but the phrasing--
Betty knew Eleanor's story almost by heart--was quite different, and a
striking little episode at the end that Miss Raymond had particularly
admired was Eleanor's own.

"I like hers best," thought Betty, stoutly. "I wonder if the resemblance
couldn't have happened by chance. Perhaps she read this story a long
while before and forgot that she had not thought it up herself."

Betty looked at the date of the magazine and then consulted her calendar.
The November "Quiver" had come out just two days before the afternoon of
the barge ride, which had also been "theme afternoon." Betty remembered
because her monthly allowance always came on the third. She had borrowed
her quarter for the ride of Helen and paid her out of the instalment that
arrived the very next morning. That settled it,--and as Dorothy had
pointed out, all Eleanor's seemingly inexplicable queerness about the
story was now explained.

Betty threw the magazine on the table and going to the window gazed
drearily out at the snow-covered campus. The next thing to settle was
whether it were right to help Eleanor to cover up her deceit? Dorothy
felt, from the little she knew of Eleanor, that open disgrace would take
away her last chance of being honest and upright. "She is terribly
sensitive," Dorothy argued, "and if she feels that nice people don't
trust her, she will go as far as she dares to show them that they are
right. Perhaps she can be led, but she certainly can't be driven. She
isn't strong enough to meet disgrace and down it." That might be true,
but there was the mathematics examination of the year before. Miss Hale
had argued as Dorothy did. In the hope of ultimately winning Eleanor by
kindness, she had not let Miss Meredith know that Eleanor had told her an
untruth. For a while afterward Eleanor had been scrupulously honorable,
but now she had done something infinitely more dishonest than the
deception of Miss Meredith. No doubt Dorothy regarded the affair of the
story as a first offense, and Betty could not tell her that it wasn't.
She had been glad enough to help save Eleanor from the consequences of
her foolish bragging, the year before; but saving her from the
consequences of deliberate dishonesty was a different matter. Betty had
been taught to despise cheating in any form, and to avoid the least
suspicion of it with scrupulous care. And now Dorothy wanted her to aid
and abet a--a thief. Betty flushed hotly as she applied the hard name.

All at once the memory of her last interview with Eleanor flashed upon
her. "I was an idiot last fall. Now I have come to my senses--" that was
what she had said. When her voice broke, it must have been because she
was sorry for the change--sorry that the old, shifty, unreliable self had
come back to take the place of the strange new one whose ideals had
proved too hard and too high to live by. The sad, hunted look that
Madeline had spoken of was explained too. Eleanor was sorry. But was she
sorry, as she had been in the case of the mathematics examination, only
because she was afraid of being found out, or did she honestly regret
having taken what was not her own, and used it to gain honors that she
had not earned?

There was another point that Dorothy had not spoken of--perhaps had not
thought of. What about the Dramatic Club election and the other college
honors that had come or would come to Eleanor, one after another, all
because, at the beginning of her sophomore year, she had made a
reputation for brilliant literary work? Eleanor had been right, when she
was a freshman, in insisting that it was the start which counted. Then,
despite her first abject failure, she had compassed the difficult
achievement of a second start. How proud Betty had been of her! And now
all her fair hopes and high ambitions had crumbled to dust and ashes. Was
it right to help her cover up the ruin? Was it fair to girls like Helen
Adams, who worked hard and got no recognition, that Eleanor should get
recognition for work which was not her own?

Anyway, she was not going to New York. Those three editors could choose
some one else. And yet if she refused--oh, it was all dreadful! Betty
flung herself on the couch and buried her face in the pillows. A moment
later the door opened stealthily, and Madeline Ayres stuck her head in.
In spite of her caution, Betty heard her and sat up with a nervous start.

"I hope you weren't asleep," said Madeline, settling herself comfortably
at the other end of the couch. "I didn't mean to wake you; that was why I
came in without knocking."

"I wasn't asleep," returned Betty faintly. "I was just resting."

"You look as if you needed to," said Madeline cheerfully. "Does your head
ache now?"

"Not--not very much," stammered Betty.

"Have you read over all this?" Madeline reached out a long arm for the
life of Napoleon that lay on the table.

"No, hardly any of it," confessed Betty, reddening as she remembered the
"Busy" sign.

But Madeline remarked briskly, "That's good. Neither have I. I don't feel
a bit like cramming, so I shall bluff. When father was studying art in
Paris, he knew a man who had been one of Napoleon's guards at St. Helena.
He was old and lame and half blind and stunningly homely then, and an
artist's model. He used to tell merry tales about what a tiger of a man--"
Madeline stopped short in the act of replacing the life of Napoleon on
the table and stared at Betty in unfeigned admiration.

"Betty Wales," she said at last, "you are certainly a splendid actress. I
never dreamed that you knew."

Betty's eyes followed Madeline's to the table, and then to "The Quiver,"
lying in full view where she had dropped it an hour before. There was one
chance in a thousand that Madeline meant something besides Eleanor's
story, and Betty resolved to make sure.

"Knew what, Madeline?" she asked steadily, trying not to blush but
feeling the tell-tale red spread over her cheeks in spite of all she
could do.

It was no use. Madeline picked up the magazine and flipped over the pages
carelessly till she came to Eleanor's story. "That," she said, holding it
out for Betty to see. Their eyes met, and at sight of Betty's frightened,
pleading face, Madeline's hand dropped to her side.

"I beg your pardon," she said quickly. "I didn't mean to hurt you, Betty.
I see now how it is. You didn't know before; you've just found out, and
when I came in you were mourning for your fallen idol. Shall I go?"

Betty stretched out a detaining hand. "No," she said, "tell me,--quick
before Helen comes,--how did you know?"

"Read it in 'The Quiver,' away back last fall, before Miss Watson's story
came out in the 'Argus.' It's been--oh, amusing, you know, to hear people
rave over her wonderful theme."

"Does any one else know?"

"I doubt it. 'The Quiver' isn't on sale up here. Father thinks it's
clever and he sends it to me. I suppose he knows the editor. He's always
knowing the editors of little, no-account magazines and having to sit up
nights to do them cover-designs or something; and then they send him
their magazines."

"But--I mean--you haven't told any one?" stammered Betty.

Madeline shook her head. "It wouldn't make a pretty story, do you think?"

"Madeline"--Betty's voice thrilled with earnestness--"did you ever think
you ought to tell?"

Madeline stared at Betty for a moment in silence. Then her gray eyes
twinkled. "You absurd little Puritan," she said, "is that what you're
bothering your head about? I know you don't want to tell. Why aren't you
satisfied to let matters take their course?"

"Because," Betty hesitated, "because if they take their course,--suppose,
Madeline, that somebody else knows and wants to tell? Ought I to
interfere with that?"

Madeline spread out her hands with a gesture that suggested helpless
resignation. "My dear, how should I know? You see in Bohemia we're all
honest--poor, but honest. We never have anything like this to settle
because we're all too busy enjoying life to have time to envy our
neighbors. But I think"--Madeline paused a minute--"I think if a man
stole a design and got, say a medal at the water-color exhibit, or a
prize at the Salon, I'd let him have it and I'd try to see that he kept
it in a conspicuous place, where he'd be sure to see it every day. I
think the sight of his medal would be his best medicine. If he was
anything of a man, he'd never want another of the same sort, and if he
was all cheat, he'd be found out soon enough without my help. So I'd give
him the benefit of the doubt."

"And you think that would be fair to the one who ought to have had the
medal?"

"If he was much of a man he didn't paint just for the medal," returned
Madeline quickly. "He painted because he couldn't help it,--because he
meant to make the most of himself,--and a medal more or less--what's that
to him?" She turned upon Betty suddenly. "Don't you see that the great
fault with the life here is that we think too little about living and too
much about getting? These societies and clubs and teams and committees--
they're not the best things in life; they're nothing, except what they
stand for in character and industry and talent. No, I shouldn't worry
because Eleanor Watson got into Dramatic Club, if that's what you mean,
and may get into other things because she cribbed a story. That very fact
will take all the fun out of it, unless she's beneath caring,--but she
isn't beneath caring," Madeline corrected herself swiftly. "No one with a
face like hers is beyond caring. It's the most beautiful face I ever
saw--and one of the saddest."

"Thank you very much, Madeline," said Betty, soberly. "I'm so glad I
could talk it over with you."

Madeline was never serious for long at a time. "I've been preaching
regular sermons," she said with a laugh. "The thing I don't understand is
why this editor of 'The Quiver' hasn't jumped on Miss Watson long ago.
Editors are always reading college magazines--hoping to discover a
genius, I suppose."

"Are they?" said Betty.

A tap sounded on the door.

"Don't worry, whatever else you do,--and hide your magazine," said
Madeline, and was off with a cheerful greeting for Helen Adams, who had
come back from her afternoon at T. Reed's crammed full of Napoleonic lore
and basket-ball news.

"Theresa had made a table of dates and events," said Helen eagerly. "I
copied it for you--it's lots of help. And Betty, she says the teams are
going to be chosen soon, and she is almost sure you will be on."

Madeline Ayres wondered idly, as she dressed for dinner, how Betty Wales
had come into possession of a four months' old magazine which was not to
be had at any library or book-store in Harding. Then, being a person
born, so she herself asserted, entirely without curiosity, she ceased
wondering. By the time dinner was over and she had related a budget of
her Napoleonic stories to a delighted group of anxious students, she had
actually forgotten all about Eleanor's affairs.



CHAPTER XII

A BRIEF FOR THE DEFENSE


"DEAR DOROTHY--
  "I have thought and thought all the afternoon and I can't do it. I should
only--"

"DEAR DOROTHY--
  "If you are perfectly sure that there is nobody else to go--"

"DEAR DOROTHY--
  "Don't you think that Mary Brooks or Marion Lawrence would be a lot
better? Mary can always talk--"

"Oh, Dorothy, I don't know what to say--"

Betty had slipped up-stairs to her room the minute dinner was over. The
rest of the Belden House girls still lingered in the parlors, talking or
dancing,--enjoying the brief after-dinner respite that is a welcome
feature of each busy day at Harding. Ida Ludwig was playing for them. She
had a way of dashing off waltzes and two-steps that gave them a perfectly
irresistible swing. As Betty wrote, her foot beat time to the music that
floated up, faint and sweet and alluring, through her half-open door. The
floor around her was strewn with sheets of paper which she had torn, one
after another, from her pad, and tossed impatiently out of her way.

"Such a goose as I am, trying to write before I've made up my mind what
to say!" she told the green lizard, as she sent the seventh attempt
flying after the others. "And I can't make it up," she added
despondently, and shut her fountain pen with a vicious little snap. She
would go down and have a two-step with Roberta, who had been Mary's guest
at dinner. Roberta could lead beautifully--as well as a man--and the
music was too good to lose. Besides, Roberta might feel hurt at her
having run off the minute dinner was over.

A shadow suddenly darkened the door and Betty turned to find Eleanor
Watson standing there, smiling radiantly down at her.

"Eleanor!" she gasped helplessly. Somehow the sight of the real Eleanor,
smiling and lovely, made the deceit she had practiced seem so much more
concrete and palpable, the penalty she must pay at best so much more real
and dreadful. Betty had puzzled over the rights and wrongs of the matter
until it had come to be almost an abstraction--a subject for formal,
impersonal debate, like those they used to discuss in the junior English
classes, in high school days--"Resolved: that it is right to help
plagiarists to try again." Now the reality of it all was forced upon her.
In spite of her surprise at seeing Eleanor, who almost never came to her
room now, and her dismay that she should have come on this evening in
particular, she found time to be glad that she had not yet refused
Dorothy's request--and time to be a little ashamed of herself for being
so glad.

Her perturbation showed so plainly in her face and manner that Eleanor
could not fail to notice it. Her smile vanished and a troubled look stole
into her gray eyes. "May I come in, Betty?" she asked. "Or are you too
busy?"

"No-o," stammered Betty. "Come in, Eleanor, of course. I--I was just
writing a note."

Eleanor glanced at the floor, littered with all Betty's futile
beginnings, and her smile came flashing back again. "I should think," she
said, "that you must be writing a love letter--if it isn't a sonnet--
judging by the trouble it's making you. They told me downstairs that you
were cramming history, but I was sure it would take more than a mere
history cram to keep you away from that music. Isn't it lovely?"

"Yes," said Betty. "Would you like--shan't we go down and dance?" It
would surely be easier to talk down there, with plenty of people about
who did not know.

Again her embarrassment and constraint were too evident to be ignored,
and this time Eleanor went straight to the heart of the matter.

"Betty," she said, "don't tell me that you're not glad to see me back
again after all this time. I know I'm queer and horrid and not worth
bothering about, but when you find it out,--when you give me up--you and
Jim--I shall stop trying to be different."

For an instant Betty hesitated. Then the full import of Eleanor's words
flashed upon her. There was no mistaking their sincerity. She knew at
last that she did "really mean something" to somebody. Ethel Hale had
been wrong. Eleanor had not forgotten her old friends--and Betty would go
to New York. With a happy little cry she stretched out her arms and
caught Eleanor's hands in hers.

"I'm so glad you feel that way," she said, "and I shall never stop caring
what you do, Eleanor, and neither will Jim. I know he won't."

"He gave me up once before, and if you knew something--" She broke off
suddenly. "Betty, Jim is coming Friday night. That's one reason why I'm
here. I didn't want him to miss seeing you just because I'd been
disagreeable and was too proud to come and say I'm sorry. I am sorry,
Betty,--I'm always sorry when it's just too late."

"Oh, that's all right. I knew you didn't mean anything," said Betty,
hastily. Apologies always made her nervous, and this particular one was
fraught with unpleasant suggestions little guessed at by its maker.
"You'll be awfully glad to see your brother, won't you?"

Eleanor's assent was half-hearted. "To tell the truth, I'm too tired to
care much what happens."

"Oh, you won't feel tired when he gets here," suggested Betty,
cheerfully.

Eleanor shook her head. "I'm tired all through," she said. "I don't
believe I shall ever be rested again."

"What are you going to do to entertain him?" asked Betty, wishing to
change the current of Eleanor's thoughts, since she did not dare to
sympathize with them.

Eleanor detailed her plans, explained that Judge Watson had suddenly been
called home from Cornell and so was not coming with Jim, according to the
summer plan that Betty remembered, and rose to go. "I know you'll like
Jim, Betty," she said, "and he'll like you. He's your kind."

The moment she was left alone, Betty sat down again at her desk and
dashed off her note to Dorothy.

"Dear Dorothy:

"I have thought it over and seen Eleanor. I am the one to go, and I'll do
my best.

"Yours ever,

"Betty.

"P.S.--I can't start till Wednesday."

She twisted the note into a neat little roll, and slipping out the back
way went down to leave it at the florist's, to be sent to Dorothy--
securely hidden in a big bunch of English violets, lest any martinet of a
nurse should see fit to suppress it--the very first thing in the morning.
On the way back to her room she danced up the stairs in her most joyous
fashion, and when Mary Brooks, coming up from escorting Roberta to the
door, intercepted her and demanded where she had been all the evening,
she chanted, "Curiosity killed a cat," and fled from Mary's wrath with a
little shriek of delight, exactly as if there were no such things in the
world as plagiarism and hard-hearted editors. For had not Eleanor come
back to her, and was not the difficult decision made at last?

And yet, when Betty was a senior and took the course in Elizabethan
tragedies, she always thought of the visit of Jim Watson as a perfect
example in real life of the comic interlude, by which the king of
Elizabethan dramatists is wont to lighten, and at the same time to
accentuate, his analyses of the bitter consequences of wrong-doing. For
close upon her first great relief at finding her decision made, followed
a sudden realization that the incident was not yet closed. Madeline had
read the November "Quiver"; some less charitable person might have done
likewise. If she had been careless in leaving her magazine in sight, so
might one of the three editors have been careless, with disastrous
results. Mr. Blake might write to the college authorities. Everything, in
short, might come out before Jim Watson had finished his week-end visit
to Harding. Helping to entertain him seemed therefore a good deal like
amusing oneself on the verge of a crackling volcano.

Jim's personality made it all the harder; he was so boyishly light-
hearted, so tremendously proud of Eleanor, so splendid and downright
himself, with a flash in his fine eyes--the only feature in which he
resembled Eleanor--and a quiver about his sensitive mouth, that suggested
how deep would be his grief and how unappeasable his anger, if he ever
found out with what coin his sister had bought her college honors.

He "blew in," to use his own phrase for it, on an earlier train than
Eleanor had expected, and marched up to the Hilton House with a jaunty
air of perfect ease and assurance. But really, he confided to Eleanor, he
was in a "blooming blue funk" all the way.

"And what do you think?" he added ruefully, "somehow I got mixed up with
the matron or whatever you call her. I thought, you see, that this was
like a boarding-school, and that I'd got to have some gorgon or other
vouch for me before I could see you. So I asked for her first, and she's
invited me to dinner. Did you say there were thirty girls in this house?
Sixty! I see my finish!" concluded Jim, dolefully.

Nevertheless he rose to the occasion and, ensconced between Eleanor and
the matron he entertained the latter, and incidentally the whole table,
with tales of mountain-climbing, broncho-busting and bear-hunting, that
made him at once a hero in the eyes of the girls. But Jim disclaimed all
intention of following up his conquest, just as he had, though
ineffectually, disclaimed any part in the thrilling escapades of his
stories.

"I can talk to a bunch of girls if I have to, but if you leave me alone
with one, I shall do the scared rabbit act straight back to Cornell," he
warned Eleanor. "I came to see you. Dad and I compared notes and we
decided that something was up."

"Nonsense!" laughed Eleanor, but her eyes fell under Jim's steady gaze,
and her cheeks flushed. "Well then, I'm tired," she admitted. "I suppose
I've done too much."

"I should think so," retorted Jim, savagely. "Quit it, Eleanor. If you
break down, what good will it do you to have written a fine story? I
say"--his tone was reproachful--"one of those girls at the dinner you
gave last night said your story was printed somewhere, and you never sent
it to dad and me. You never even told us about it."

"It wasn't worth while."

"You might let us decide about that. The girl at the dinner said it was a
corker, and got you into some swell club or other. That's another thing
you didn't write us about."

"No," said Eleanor, wearily. "You can't expect me to write every little
thing that happens, Jim."

Jim, who remembered exactly what his fair informant had said regarding
the importance of a Dramatic Club "first election," knit his brows and
wondered which of them was right. Finally he gave up the perplexing
question and went off to order a farewell box of roses for his sister.

It was at about this time that Betty Wales, going sorrowfully to pay a
book bill that was twice as large as she had anticipated, heard swift,
determined steps behind her, and turned to find Jim Watson swinging after
her down Main Street.

"I say, Miss Wales," he began, blushing hotly at his own temerity,
"Eleanor is off at a class this hour. I'm such a duffer with girls--is it
all right for me to ask you to go for a walk?"

"Of course," said Betty, laughing. "And if you ask me, I'll go."

"Then," said Jim, "I do ask you. You'll have to pick out a trail, for I
don't know the country."

"Let's walk out to the river," suggested Betty. "It's not so very pretty
at this season of the year, but it's our prize walk, so you ought to see
it anyhow."

Silently Jim fell into step beside her.

"Have you had a good time?" inquired Betty, who had decided by this time
that Jim really enjoyed talking, only he couldn't manage it without a
good deal of help. She had seen more of him in the three days of his
visit than any one else but Eleanor, but this was their first tete-a-
tete. Hitherto, when Eleanor was busy Jim had gone on solitary tramps or
sought the friendly shelter of his hotel.

"Great," replied Jim, enthusiastically. "Harding College is all right.
I'm mighty glad Eleanor wanted to stay on here."

"You're very fond of Eleanor, aren't you?" asked Betty, sure that this
topic would draw him out.

"You bet." Jim's eyes shone with pleasure. "Eleanor's a trump when she
gets started. She was splendid at home this summer. Of course you know"--
Jim flushed again under his tan--"my mother--I'm awfully fond of her too,
but of course her being so young makes it queer for Eleanor. But Eleanor
fixed everything all right. She made dad and me, and mother too, just
fall dead in love with her. You know the way she can."

Betty nodded. "I know."

"And I guess she's made good here, too," said Jim, proudly, "though you'd
never find it out from her. Do you know, Miss Wales, she never wrote us a
word about her story that came out in the college magazine."

"Didn't she?" said Betty, faintly.

"Nor about getting into some club," continued Jim, earnestly. "I forget
the name, but you'll know. Isn't it considered quite an honor?"

"Why, yes," said Betty, in despair, "that is, some people consider it--
Oh, Mr. Watson, here's the bridge!"

Poor Jim, unhesitatingly attributing Betty's embarrassment to some
blunder on his part, was covered with mortification. "It's evidently a
secret society," he decided, "and that other fool girl didn't know it,
and got me into this mess."

So he listened with deferential attention while Betty tried to tell him
how lovely the snowy meadows and the bleak, ice-bound river looked on a
bright June day, and carefully followed her lead as she turned the
conversation from river scenery to skating and canoeing; so that they
reached home without a second approach to the dangerous topics.

Jim was going back to his work that evening. As he said good-bye, he
crushed Betty's hand in a bear-like grip that fairly brought tears to her
eyes.

"I'm awfully glad to have met you," he said, "though I don't suppose
you'd ever guess it--I'm such a duffer with girls. Eleanor told me how
you stuck by her last year and helped her get her start. I tell you we
appreciate anything that's done for Eleanor, dad and I do."

As Betty watched him stride off to the Hilton House, she remembered
Madeline's advice. "I guess she isn't enjoying her honors very much," she
thought. "Imagine getting into Dramatic Club and not writing home about
it! Why, I should telegraph! And if I had a thing in the 'Argus'"--Betty
smiled at the absurdity of the idea--"half the fun would be to see Nan's
face. And if I was ashamed to see her face!"

Betty gave a sigh of relief that the comic interlude was over. Under
ordinary circumstances the entertaining of Jim would have been the height
of bliss. Just now all she wanted was to go to New York and get back
again, with her errand done and one source of danger to Eleanor, if
possible, eliminated.

Jim left Harding on Tuesday evening. Wednesday morning bright and early,
Betty started for New York. She went by the early train for two reasons.
It was easier to slip away unquestioned during chapel-time, and
furthermore she meant to reach New York in time to see Mr. Blake that
same afternoon and take the sleeper back to Harding. She thought that
spending the night with any of her New York cousins would involve too
much explanation, and besides she could sleep beautifully on the train,
and she wanted to be back in time for the Thursday basket-ball practice.
The girls played every day now, and very often Miss Andrews dropped in to
watch them and take the measure of the various aspirants for a place on
the official teams, which it would soon be her duty to appoint.



CHAPTER XIII

VICTORY OR DEFEAT


During the first part of her journey Betty busied herself with reading
over Mr. Blake's two letters and the lengthy replies that the editors had
composed. These last were as totally unlike as their writers, and Betty
thought that none of them hit the point so well as Madeline's
suggestions, and none was so cogent as the plea that Eleanor and Jim
between them had unconsciously made; but they might all help. From Mr.
Blake's two letters she decided that he must be a very queer sort of
person, and she devoutly hoped that his conversational style would be
less obscure than that of his first letter to Frances West; for it would
be dreadful, she thought, if she had to keep asking him what he meant.

"Well, I guess I shall just have to trust to luck and do the best I can
when the time comes," she decided, putting the letters back into her
suit-case with a little sigh. She admired Helen Adams's way of
deliberately preparing for a crisis, but in her own case it somehow never
seemed to work. For example, how could she plan what to say to Mr. Blake
until she knew what Mr. Blake would say to her? It would be bad enough to
try to answer him when the time came, without worrying about it now.

After a brief survey of the flying landscape, which looked uniformly cold
and uninviting under a leaden sky, and of her fellow-travelers, none of
whom promised any possibilities of amusement, Betty remembered that she
had intended to study all the way to New York, and accordingly extracted
Chaucer's "Canterbury Tales" from her bag. For half an hour she read the
Knight's tale busily. But the adventures of Palamon and Arcite,
deciphered by means of assiduous reference to the glossary, were not
exciting; at the end of the half hour Betty's head drooped back against
the plush cushions, her eyes closed, and her book slid unheeded to the
floor. Regardless of all the elegant leisure that she had meant to secure
by a diligent five-hour attack upon "The Canterbury Tales," Betty had
fallen fast asleep.

Some time later the jolt of the halting train woke her. She glanced at
her watch--it was twelve o'clock--and looked out for the station sign.
But there was no station sign and no station; only snowy fields
stretching off to meet wooded hills on one side and the gorge of a frozen
river on the other. It had been a gray, sunless morning; now the air was
thick with snow, falling in big, lazily-moving flakes which seemed
undecided whether or not the journey they were making was worth their
while. All this Betty saw through small bare spots on the heavily frosted
car windows. She picked up "The Canterbury Tales" from the floor where
they had fallen, found her place and sat with her finger in the book,
anxiously waiting for the train to go on. But it did not start. The other
passengers also grew restless, and asked one another what could be the
trouble. There were plenty of guesses, but nobody knew until Betty
managed to stop a passing brakeman and asked him if they were going to be
late into New York.

"Oh, my, yes, ma'am," he assured her affably. "We're about an hour late
now, and there's no tellin' how long we'll stand here. There's been a big
blizzard and an awful freeze-up in the west--" he waved his hand at the
frosty window. "We do be gettin' a bit of it now ourselves, you see--and
the connections is all out of whack."

This was a cheerful prospect. The train was due in New York at half past
one. Allow half an hour for the present delay and it would be fully half
past three before Betty could reach Mr. Blake's office. Besides, she had
brought nothing to eat except some sweet chocolate, for she had planned
to get lunch in New York. It was most provoking. She settled herself once
more, a cake of chocolate to nibble in one hand and her book in the
other, resolved to endure the rest of the journey with what stoicism she
might.

Finally, after having exhausted the entire half hour that she had allowed
it, the train started with a puff and a wheeze, and ambled on toward its
destination, with frequent brief pauses to get its breath or to
accommodate the connections that were "all out of whack," and a final
long and agonizing wait in the yards. That was the last straw--to be so
near the goal and yet helplessly stranded just out of reach. Wishing to
verify her own calculations, Betty leaned forward and asked a
friendly-looking, gray-haired woman in the seat ahead if she knew just
how long it would take to go from the Forty-second Street station to
Fulton Street.

The woman considered. "Not less than three-quarters of an hour, I should
say, unless you took a Subway express to the bridge, and changed there.
Then perhaps you might do it in half an hour."

Betty thanked her and sat back, watch in hand, counting the minutes and
wondering what she would better do if she had to stay in New York all
night. In spite of some disadvantages, it would be much the best plan,
she decided, to go to her cousins. But never thinking of any such
contingency as the one that had arisen, she had left her address book at
Harding, and she had a very poor memory for numbers. She remembered
vaguely one hundred twenty-one, and was sure that cousin Will Banning
lived on East Seventy-second Street. But was his number one twenty-one,
or was it three hundred forty-something, and Cousin Alice's one twenty-
one on One Hundred and Second Street? Was that east or west, and was it
Cousin Alice's address before or after she moved last? The more Betty
thought, and the more certain it seemed that she could not reach Mr.
Blake's office by any route before five o'clock, the more confused she
became. She had never been about in New York alone, and she had a horror
of going in the rapidly falling dusk from one number to another in a
strange city, and then perhaps not finding her cousins in the end. Then
there was nothing to do but stay at a hotel. Luckily Betty did remember
very distinctly the name of the one that Nan often stopped at alone. She
leaned forward again and asked the lady in front to direct her to it.

"Yes, I can do that," said the lady brightly, "or if you like I can take
you to it. I'm going there myself. Aren't you a Harding girl?"

Betty assented.

"And I'm the matron at the Davidson," said the gray-haired lady.

"You are!" Betty's tone expressed infinite relief. "And I may really come
with you? I'm so glad. I never went to a hotel alone." And she explained
briefly why she was obliged to do so now.

The snow was still falling softly when they finally reached New York and
boarded a crowded car to ride the few blocks to their hotel. It seemed
that Betty's new friend had come down to visit her son, who was ill at a
hospital. She helped Betty through the trying ordeal of registering and
getting a room, and they went to the cafe together for a little supper.
Then she hurried off to her son, and Betty was left to her own devices.
She despatched a special-delivery letter to Helen, explaining why she
could not take the sleeper--Helen had the impression that Betty had gone
to New York to have her hair waved and was ashamed to confess to such
frivolity. Then she yawned for a while over "The Canterbury Tales," and
went to bed early, so as to be in perfect trim for the next day's
interview. She intended to see Mr. Blake as early as possible in the
morning and take a noon train for Harding.

"And I do hope there isn't going to be a blizzard here," she thought, as
she fell asleep to the angry howling of the wind, which dashed the snow,
now frozen, into tiny, icy globules, against her window panes.

But her hope was not destined to be realized. When she woke later than
usual the next morning, with a queer feeling of not knowing where she was
nor what had happened, the storm was still raging furiously. The street
beneath her windows was piled high with impassable drifts, which were
getting higher every minute, while on the opposite side a narrow strip of
roadway was as clean as if it had been swept with the proverbial new
broom. It was snowing so hard that Betty could not see to the corner of
the street, and the wind was blowing a gale.

"I don't care," said Betty philosophically. "Here goes for seeing New
York in a blizzard. I've always wanted to know what it was like." And she
began making energetic preparations for breakfast.

When she got down-stairs she found a hasty note from her friend of the
day before, explaining that her son was worse and she had gone as early
as possible to the hospital. So Betty breakfasted in solitary state on
rolls and coffee,--for her exchequer was beginning to suffer from the
unexpected demands that she had made upon it,--paid her bill, and bag in
hand sallied forth to meet the storm. Before she had plowed her way to
the nearest corner, she decided that a blizzard in New York was no joke.
While she waited there in the teeth of the wind, bracing herself against
it as it blew her hair in her eyes, whipped her skirt about her ankles,
and swept the snow, sharp and cutting as needle-points, pitilessly
against her cheeks, she was more than half minded to give up seeing Mr.
Blake altogether and go straight to the station. But it was not Betty's
way to give up. She brushed back her flying hair, held up her muff as
protection against the wind, and when her car finally arrived, tumbled on
with a sigh of relief and then a laugh all to herself at the absurdity of
the whole situation.

"Mr. Blake will want to laugh too when he sees me," she thought, "and
perhaps that will be a good beginning."

In this cheerful mood Betty presently arrived at the door of "The Quiver"
office. She made a wry face as she shook the snow out of her furs,
straightened her hat and smoothed her hair. It was too bad to have to go
in looking like a fright, after all the pains she had taken to wear her
most becoming clothes, so as to look, and to feel, as impressive as
possible. As a matter of fact, she had never looked prettier than when,
having done her best to repair the ravages of the wind, she stood waiting
a moment longer to get her breath and decide how she should ask for Mr.
Blake and what she should say when she was summoned into his awful
presence. Her cheeks were glowing with the cold, her eyes bright with
excitement, and her hair blown into damp little curls that were far more
becoming than any more studied arrangement would have been. Mr. Richard
Blake would indeed be difficult to please if he failed to find her
charming.

She gave a final pat to her hair, loosened her furs, and knocked boldly
on the office door. There was no answer. Betty had reached out her hand
to knock again when it occurred to her that people who came to her
father's office walked right in. So she carefully opened the door and
stepping just inside, closed it again after her. She found herself in a
big, bare room, with three or four desks near the long windows and a
table by the door. Only one desk was occupied--the one in the farthest
corner of the room. The young man sitting behind it--he was very young
indeed, smooth-shaven, with expressionless, heavy-lidded eyes, and a
mouth that drooped cynically at the corners,--barely glanced at his
visitor, and then dropped his eyes once more to the papers on his desk.
Betty waited a moment, while he wrote rapidly on the margin of one sheet
with a blue pencil, and then, seeing that he apparently intended to go on
reading and writing indefinitely, she gave a deprecating little cough.

"Is Mr. Richard Blake in?" she asked.

"Yes," answered the young man behind the desk, without so much as
glancing in her direction.

"Can--may I see him, please?"

"You can," returned the young man, emphasizing the word can in what Betty
thought an extremely disagreeable way.

He made no move to go and get Mr. Blake, and Betty, knowing nothing else
to do, awaited his pleasure in silence.

"Is it so very important as all this?" asked the young man at last,
tossing aside his papers and coming toward Betty with disconcerting
suddenness. "You know," he went on, "I can't possibly read it to-day. I'm
desperately busy. I shall put it in a pigeon-hole and I shan't look at it
for weeks perhaps. So I can't see that it was worth your while to come
out in a storm like this to bring it to me."

"Are you Mr. Richard Blake?" demanded Betty, wishing to get at least one
thing definitely settled.

The young man nodded. "I am," he said, "but pray how did you arrive at
your conclusion--so late?"

"Because," said Betty promptly, "you talk exactly as your letters sound."
"That's interesting," said the young man. "How do they sound?"

"I mean," said Betty, blushing at her own temerity, "that they are hard
to understand."

The young man appeared to be considering this remark with great
seriousness. "That implies," he began at last very slowly, "that you must
have had either a letter of acceptance or a personal note of refusal from
'The Quiver.' So perhaps your story is worth coming out in a blizzard to
bring after all. Anyway, since you have brought it out in a blizzard,
I'll just glance over it, if you care to wait."

Betty stared at Mr. Richard Blake in growing bewilderment. "I think you
must have mistaken me for some one else," she said at last. "You don't
know me at all, Mr. Blake, and you never wrote to me. The letter that I
saw was written to some one else."

"Indeed! And am I also mistaken in supposing that you have brought me a
story for 'The Quiver'?"

"I brought you a story for 'The Quiver'!" gasped Betty. Then all at once
she took in the situation and laughed so merrily that even the blase,
young editor of "The Quiver" was forced to smile a little in sympathy. "I
see now," she said, when she could speak. "You thought I was a writer--an
authoress. I suppose that most of the people who come to see an editor
are authors, aren't they?"

"Yes," said the young man gravely. "The only possible reason that has
ever brought a pretty young woman to 'The Quiver' office is the vain hope
that because I have seen that she is pretty, I shall like her story
better than I otherwise would."

"Well," said Betty, too intent upon coming to the point to be either
annoyed or amused by Mr. Blake's frank implication, "I haven't come about
a story. Or--that is, I have too. I came to see you about Eleanor
Watson's story--the one that is so like 'The Lost Hope' in the November
'Quiver.'"

"Indeed!" The young man's face grew suddenly sombre again. "Won't you
have a seat?" He led the way back to his desk, placing a chair for Betty
beside his own. "Let us make a fair start," he said, as he took his seat.
"You mean the story that was copied from 'The Quiver,' I suppose."

"Yes." Betty hesitated, wondering if she was being led into some damaging
confession. But she had not come to palter with the truth. "I'm afraid
there is no doubt that it was copied from 'The Quiver,' Mr. Blake."

"Did you know that it was a better story than the one in 'The Quiver'?"

[Illustration: "LET US MAKE A FAIR START," HE SAID]

Betty's eyes sparkled with pleasure. "Do you really think so?" she asked
eagerly. "I'm so glad, because I did, too, only I was afraid I might be
prejudiced. But you wouldn't be." Betty stopped in confusion, for Mr.
Blake had abruptly turned his back upon her, and was staring out the
nearest window at the mist of flying snow.

There was a long pause, or at least it seemed oppressively long to Betty,
who had no idea what it meant. Then "To whom have I the honor of
speaking?" asked Mr. Blake in the queer, sarcastic tone that had annoyed
Betty earlier in the interview.

As briefly as possible Betty explained who she was, and why she had come
as special envoy from the editors. She was relieved when Mr. Blake turned
back from his survey of the landscape with another faint suggestion of a
smile flickering about his grim mouth.

"You relieve me immensely, Miss Wales," he said. "I was quite sure you
were not an editor of the 'Argus,' because you seemed so totally
unfamiliar with the machinery of literary ventures; and so I supposed, or
at least I feared, that Miss Watson had come to speak for herself."

Betty flushed angrily. "Why, Mr. Blake, do I look--"

"No, you don't in the least," Mr. Blake interrupted her hastily. "But
unfortunately, you must admit, appearances are sometimes deceitful. Now
suppose that your friend Miss Watson had come herself. Does she look or
act like the sort of person that she has shown herself to be?"

Betty smiled brightly. "Of course not," she said. "She doesn't at all.
But then she isn't that sort of person. I mean she never will be again.
If she was, I can tell you that I shouldn't be here. It's just because
she's so splendid when she thinks in time and tries to be nice, and
because she hasn't any mother and never had half a chance that I'm sorry
for her now. And besides, it's certainly punishment enough to see that
story in the 'Argus,' and know she didn't write it, and to get into
Dramatic Club partly because of it, and so have that spoiled for her too,
and not to be able to let her family be one bit proud of her. Don't you
see that an open disgrace wouldn't mean any more punishment? It would
only make it harder for her to be fair and square again. It isn't as if
she didn't care. She hates herself for it, Mr. Blake, I know she does."

Betty paused for breath and Mr. Richard Blake took the opportunity to
speak. "What, may I ask, is the Dramatic Club?"

"Oh, a splendid literary club that some of the nicest girls in college
belong to," explained Betty impatiently, feeling that the question was
not much to the point.

"Do you belong to it?" demanded Mr. Blake.

"Oh, no," said Betty, with a laugh. "I'm not bright enough. I hate to
stick to things long enough to learn them."

"That's unfortunate, because I was hoping you were a member," said Mr.
Blake, inconsequently. "But to return to the story, do you think that
Miss Watson was so very much to blame for copying it?"

"Of course I do," said Betty, indignantly, wondering what Mr. Richard
Blake could possibly be driving at now.

"But consider," he pursued. "Miss Watson is a very clever girl, isn't
she?"

"Yes, indeed," assented Betty, eagerly.

"She finds this story--an unusual story, rather badly written, with a
very weak ending. It strikes her as having possibilities. She puts on the
needed touches,--the finish, the phrasing and an ending that is almost a
stroke of genius. Isn't the story hers?"

Betty waited a moment. "No, Mr. Blake," she said decidedly, "it isn't.
Those little changes don't make any difference. She took it from 'The
Quiver.'"

"But how about Shakespeare's plays? Every one of them has a borrowed
plot. Shakespeare improved it, added incidents and characters, fused the
whole situation in the divine fire of his genius. But some characters and
the general outline of the plot he borrowed. We don't say he stole them.
We don't call him a plagiarist, Miss Wales."

"I don't know about that," said Betty, doubtfully. "I never understood
about Shakespeare's plots; but I suppose it was different in those days.
Lots of things were. And besides he was a regular genius, and I know that
what he did hasn't anything to do with Eleanor. She oughtn't to have
copied a story. I don't see how she could do it; but I wish you could
feel that it was right to overlook it."

"Miss Wales," said Mr. Blake, abruptly, "I'm going to tell you something.
I don't care a snap of my finger for Miss Watson. I don't really believe
she's worth much consideration, though her having a friend who will go
around New York for her on a day like this seems to indicate the
contrary. But what I'm particularly interested in is the moral tone of
Harding College. That's a big thing, a thing worth thought and effort and
personal sacrifice to maintain. Now tell me frankly, Miss Wales, how
would the Harding girls as a whole look at this matter?"

"If you knew any," returned Betty, swiftly, "you wouldn't ask. Of course
they'd feel just the way I do."

"Perhaps even the way I do?"

"Y-yes," admitted Betty, grudgingly. "But I believe I could bring them
round," she added with a mischievous smile.

"Then how did Miss Watson happen to do such a thing?"

"Because," explained Betty, earnestly, "she doesn't feel the way the rest
of the girls do about such things. I'm awfully fond of her, but I noticed
the difference almost the first time I met her. Last year she--oh, there
was nothing like this," added Betty, quickly, "and after she saw how the
other girls felt, she changed. But I suppose she couldn't change all at
once, and so she did this. But she isn't a typical Harding girl, indeed
she isn't, Mr. Blake."

"And yet she is a member of the Dramatic Club," said Mr. Blake, taking up
a telegram from his desk.

"Don't you suppose she wishes she wasn't?" inquired Betty.

Mr. Blake made no answer. "Well, Miss Wales," he said, at last, "I fancy
we've talked as much about this as is profitable. I'm very glad to have
seen you, but I'm sorry that you found us in such disorder. The office
boy is stuck in the drifts over in Brooklyn, and my assistant and the
stenographer are snowed up in Harlem. I only hope you won't get snowed in
anywhere between here and Harding. You're going back to-day, you said?"

Betty nodded. "And I should like--"

"To be sure," Mr. Blake took her up. "You would like to know my answer.
Well, Miss Wales, I really think you deserve it, too; but as it happens,
I find I'm going up to Harding next week, and I want to look over the
ground for myself,--see what I think about the moral tone of things, you
know."

"You're coming up to Harding!" said Betty, ruefully. "Then I needn't have
come down here at all."

"Oh, but I didn't know it till to-day," explained Mr. Blake, soothingly.
"I got the telegram while I was breakfasting this morning. I can't
telegraph my answer, because the wires are all down, so you might tell
them I've written, or you might post my answer for me in Harding. I have
the greatest confidence in your ability to get through the drifts, Miss
Wales."

"Are you"--Betty hesitated--"are you coming up about this, Mr. Blake?"

For answer he passed her the telegram. It was an invitation from the
newly-elected president of the Dramatic Club--Beatrice Egerton had gone
out of office at midyears--to lecture before an open meeting of the
society a week from the following Saturday.

"Goodness!" said Betty, returning the telegram. "I didn't know you were a
lecturer too, Mr. Blake."

"Oh, I'm not much of one," returned Mr. Blake, easily. "I suspect that
the man they had engaged couldn't come, and Miss Stuart--you know her, I
presume--who's an old friend of mine, suggested me as a forlorn hope. You
see," he added, "'The Quiver' is a new thing and doesn't go everywhere
yet, as your friend Miss Watson was clever enough to know; but before I
began to edit it, I used to write dramatic criticisms for the newspapers.
Some people didn't like my theories about the stage and the right kind of
plays and the right way of acting them; so it amuses them now to hear me
lecture and to think to themselves 'How foolish!' 'How absurd!' as I
talk."

"I see," laughed Betty. "I'm afraid I don't know much about dramatic
criticism."

"Well, it doesn't amount to very much," returned Mr. Blake, genially.
"That's why I stopped doing it. Shall you come to hear me lecture, Miss
Wales?"

Betty laughed again. "I shall if I can get an invitation," she said. "I
suppose it's an invitation affair."

"And Miss Watson will be there?"

Betty nodded. "Unless, of course, she knows that you are the editor of
'The Quiver.'"

"She won't," said Mr. Blake, "unless you or the editors of the 'Argus'
tell her. Miss Stuart doesn't know, and she is probably the only other
person up there who's ever heard of me. Good-bye, Miss Wales, until next
week, Saturday."

Betty got her bag from the elevator boy, into whose keeping she had
trustfully confided it, and went out into the snow. She was very much
afraid that she had not done her full duty. Dorothy had told her to be
sure to pin Mr. Blake down to something definite. Well, she had tried to,
but she had not succeeded. As she thought over the interview, she could
not remember that she had said anything very much to the point. It
seemed, indeed, as if they had talked mostly about other things; and yet
toward the last Mr. Blake's manner had been much more cordial, if that
meant anything. Anyway it was all over and done with now, and quite
useless. Dorothy and Beatrice and Frances could do their own talking next
week. And--she had stood on the corner for ten minutes and still there
was no car in sight. A few had crawled past on their way to the Battery,
but none had come back. It was frightfully cold. Betty stamped her feet,
slapped her arms, warmed first one aching ear and then the other. Still
no car. A diminutive newsboy had stopped by her side, and in despair she
appealed to him.

"Isn't there some other way to get up town?" she asked. "These cars must
have stopped running, and I've got to get to the Central station."

"Take de L to de bridge and den de Subway. Dat ain't snowed in,"
suggested the little newsboy. "C'n I carry your bag, lady?"

It was only a few blocks, but it seemed at least a mile to Betty, too
cold and tired to enjoy the tussle with the wind any longer. When she had
stumbled up the long flight of stairs and dropped herself and her bag in
the nearest corner of the waiting train, she could scarcely have taken
another step.

The Central station, like the whole city, wore a dejected, deserted
appearance. Yes, there would be a train for Harding some time, a guard
assured Betty. He could not say when it would start. Oh, it had been due
to start at ten-thirty, and it was now exactly twelve-five. There was
nothing to do but wait. So Betty waited, dividing her time between "The
Canterbury Tales"--she had not money enough to dare to waste any on a
magazine--and a woman, who was also waiting for the belated ten-thirty.
Her baby was ill, she told Betty; she feared it would die before she
could get to it. Betty's own weariness and discouragement sank into
insignificance beside her companion's trouble, and in trying to reassure
her she became quite cheerful herself.

At half past eleven that night Madeline Ayres heard something bang
against her window and looked out to find Betty Wales standing in the
drifts, snowballing the front windows of the Belden House with an
impartiality born of despair.

"I thought I should never wake any one up," she said, when Madeline had
unlocked the door and let her into the grateful warmth of the hall. "The
bell wouldn't ring and I was so afraid out there, and I've been ten hours
coming from New York, and I'm starved, Madeline."

When, after having enjoyed a delicious, if not particularly digestible
supper of coffee and Welsh rarebit in Madeline's room, Betty crept softly
to her own, and turned up the gas just far enough to undress by, Helen
woke and sat straight up in bed.

"Why, Betty!" she said, "I'm awfully glad you've come. We all worried so
about you. But--why, Betty, your hair isn't waved a bit. Didn't you have
it waved?"

"Helen, were you ever in New York in a blizzard?" enquired Betty, busily
unlacing her shoe-strings.

"No," said Helen. "Did it take out the curl?"

"Would it take out the curl!" repeated Betty scornfully. "It would take
out the curliest curl that ever was in thirty seconds. It was perfectly
awful. But, Helen, don't say anything about it, but I didn't go to New
York for that."

"Oh!" said Helen.

The next day Betty woke up with a splitting headache and a sore throat.
The day after the doctor came and called it a mild case of grippe. It was
a week before she felt like playing basket-ball, and that very day the
teams were chosen and Babbie had the position as sub-centre that Betty
had coveted. One thing she gained by being ill. By the time she was able
to be up and out even Mary Brooks, with her "satiable curiosity," had
forgotten to ask why she went to New York.



CHAPTER XIV

A DISTINGUISHED GUEST


"It's going to be lots of fun. They can't any of them act at all, of
course, and their plays are the wildest things, Babe says. She and Bob
went once last winter. This one is called 'The Hand of Fate'--doesn't
that sound thrilling? I say, Betty, I think you might be a true sport and
come along. You know you don't care a straw about 'The Tendencies of the
Modern Drama.'"

Katherine Kittredge sat cross-legged on Betty's couch, with Betty's
entire collection of pillows piled comfortably behind her back, while she
held forth with eloquent enthusiasm upon the charms of the "ten-twenty-
thirty" cent show which was giving its final performance that evening at
the Harding opera house.

"I don't know anything about them, so how can I tell whether I care or
not?" retorted Betty, who was sitting before her desk engaged in a
desperate effort to bring some semblance of order out of the chaos that
littered its shelf and pigeon-holes.

"Well, even if you do care, you can probably read it all up in some
book," continued Katherine. "And, besides," she added briskly. "you would
get a lot of points to-night. Isn't 'The Hand of Fate' a modern drama, I
should like to know?"

Betty gave a sudden joyous exclamation. "Why, I'm finding all the things
I've lost, Katherine. Here's my pearl pin that I thought the sneak
thieves must have stolen. I remember now that I put it into an envelope
to take down to be cleaned. And,"--joy changing abruptly to despair,--
"here's my last week's French exercise, that I hunted and hunted for, and
finally thought I must have given to some one to hand in for me. Do you
suppose mademoiselle will ever believe me?"

Katherine chuckled. "She would if she knew your habits better. Now
listen, Betty. Nita's coming to-night, and Babe and Babbie--Bob would,
only she doesn't dare cut the lecture when she's just gone into Dramatic
Club--and Rachel and Roberta, and I've about half persuaded Mary Brooks.
We're going to sit in the bald-headed row and clap all the hero's tenor
solos and sob when the heroine breaks his heart, and hiss the villain.
How's that for a nice little stunt?"

"I just love ten-cent plays," admitted Betty, obviously weakening.

"Then come on," urged Katherine.

Betty shook her head. "No, I don't believe I will this time. You see
Emily asked me to the lecture, and I accepted."

"Well, so did most of us accept," argued Katherine. "You needn't think we
weren't asked. Emily won't care. Just give your ticket away, so there
won't be too many vacant seats, and come along."

"But you see," explained Betty, "I really do want to hear the lecture,
and I can go off on a lark with you girls almost any time."

"I never knew you to be so keen about a lecture before," said Katherine
indignantly. "I believe Helen Adams is turning you into a regular dig."

"Don't worry," laughed Betty. "You see one reason why I--"

There was a tap on the door, and without waiting for an answer to her
knock Eleanor Watson entered. She was apparently in the best of spirits;
there was no hint in face or manner of the weariness and nervous
depression that had been so evident at the time of Jim's visit.

"Have you both tickets for Mr. Blake's lecture?" she asked with a
careless little nod for Katherine. "I have one left and Beatrice has one,
and she sent me out hunting for victims. I've asked you once already,
haven't I, Betty?"

"Yes, you did," said Betty, "but Emily asked me before that."

"And I'm going to 'The Hand of Fate,'" said Katherine stiffly, picking up
a book from the table and turning over its pages with an air of studied
indifference. She had no intention of being patronized by Eleanor Watson.

"But she's given away her ticket, Eleanor," said Betty pacifically, "so
you needn't worry about empty seats."

"Oh, we're not worrying," returned Eleanor loftily. "The subject is so
attractive"--Katherine winked at Betty from behind the shelter of her
book. "And then Miss Stuart knows Mr. Blake, and she says that he's a
splendid speaker. Miss Stuart is ill to-day, so Miss Ferris is going to
have Mr. Blake up to dinner. Of course we Hilton House girls are
dreadfully excited about that."

"Of course," said Betty, with a little gasp of dismay which neither of
her friends seemed to notice.

"Miss Ferris has asked the Dramatic Club girls to sit at her table," went
on Eleanor impressively, "and she wants me to be on her other side, right
opposite Mr. Blake. Just think of that!"

"Splendid!" said Betty, feeling like a traitor. And yet what else could
she say, and what difference would it make, since Eleanor did not know
that Mr. Blake was the editor of "The Quiver," and Mr. Blake, in the
general confusion of introductions, would probably not catch Eleanor's
name.

"I hope you know a good deal more about the tendencies of the modern
drama than I do," said Katherine drily, "if you're in as deep as all
that." She slid off the couch with a jerk. "Good-bye, Betty. Are you sure
you won't change your mind?"

"I guess not this time, Katherine," said Betty, following her guest to
the door.

Eleanor went off too, after a moment, and Betty was left free to bestow
her undivided attention upon the rearrangement of her desk. But even
several "finds" quite as important and surprising as the pearl pin and
the French theme did not serve to concentrate her thoughts upon her own
affairs. The absorbing question was, what did Mr. Blake mean to do, and
how would a dinner with Eleanor in the seat opposite affect his
intentions? He had said that he wasn't interested in Eleanor, but he
couldn't help being influenced by what she said and did, if he knew who
she was. For the hundredth time Betty questioned, did Eleanor deserve the
consideration that was being asked for her? Was it fair to set aside the
gay, self-absorbed Eleanor of to-day in favor of the clinging, repentant
Eleanor of the week before? Why, yes, she thought, it must be fair to
judge a person at her best, if you wanted her to be her best. She sighed
over the perplexities of life, and then she sighed again, because of her
tiresome desk and the Saturday afternoon that was slipping away so fast.
It was half-past four already, and at five she had promised to meet
Madeline Ayres in the college library for a walk before dinner.

She put the papers that she had sorted into their proper pigeon-holes,
swept the rest of the litter into a pile for future consideration, and
made a hasty toilette, reflecting that she should have to dress again
anyway for the lecture. As she put on her hat, she noticed the ruffled
plume and smoothed it as best she could. "That blizzard!" she thought
ruefully. Reminded again of Mr. Blake, she wondered if he had taken an
early train from New York. If so he must have reached Harding long ago.
Perhaps he was closeted with the editors--Frances hadn't heard from him
about an interview when Betty saw her last. Or perhaps he was
investigating the moral tone of the college. Betty wondered smilingly how
he would go about it, and looked up to find Mr. Richard Blake himself
strolling slowly toward her from the direction of the front gateway. At
the same instant he saw her and came quickly forward, his hat in one
hand, the other stretched out for Betty to take.

"So you didn't get stuck in the snow," he said, gravely.

"Not so deep that I had to stay stuck for a week," laughed Betty.
"Haven't the office-boy and the stenographer got out yet?"

"Yes, but they didn't have so far to go," returned Mr. Blake, calmly.
"May I walk on with you?"

"Of course," agreed Betty, "but you weren't going my way, were you?"

Mr. Blake smiled his slight, cynical smile. "To tell the truth, Miss
Wales, I haven't the least idea which way I am going--or which way I
ought to be. I'm supposed to turn up for five o'clock tea with one Miss
Raymond, who lives at a place called the Davidson House. My friend Miss
Stuart is ill, and I escaped the escort of a committee by wickedly
hinting that I knew my way about."

"Well," said Betty, "you were going the right way when I met you. The
Davidson is straight down at the other end of that row of brick houses."

"Thank you," said Mr. Blake, making no move to follow Betty's directions.
"I detest teas, and I'm going to be as late as I dare. But perhaps I
shall be in your way."

Betty explained that she was bound for the college library to meet a
friend.

"Ah," said Mr. Blake, "I think I should like to see that library. You
know I have theories about libraries as well as about plays. Is this a
nice one?"

"Of course," said Betty. "Everything at Harding is nice. Don't you think
so?"

Mr. Blake shook his head uncertainly.

"I hardly feel competent to speak of everything yet, Miss Wales."

"Well, how about the moral tone?" inquired Betty demurely. She had a
feeling that more direct questions would not help Eleanor's cause.

Mr. Blake shook his head again. "I haven't gone very far with that yet,
Miss Wales. I mean to make them talk about it at the tea."

They had climbed the stairs to the library and Betty pushed back the
swinging doors and stepped inside, wondering vaguely whether she should
call the librarian or take Mr. Blake from alcove to alcove herself, when
Madeline Ayres looked up from her book, and catching sight of them
started forward with a haste and enthusiasm which the occasion, Betty
thought, hardly warranted.

"I'm afraid I don't know enough about the books to take you around," she
was saying to Mr. Blake, when Madeline descended precipitately upon them
and, paying not the slightest attention to Betty, said in a loud whisper
to Mr. Blake, "Dick, come outside this minute, where we can shake hands."

"Come on, Miss Wales," whispered Mr. Blake. "It will be worth seeing,"
and Betty, not knowing what else to do, followed him into the hall.

"Why, Dick Blake," Madeline went on enthusiastically, "you don't know how
good it seems to see one of the old Paris crowd again. Have you forgotten
how we used to hunt chocolate shops together, and do the Latin Quarter at
night, and teach my cousins American manners?"

"Hardly," laughed Mr. Blake. "We were a pair of young wretches in those
days, Madeline. But I thought you were all for art and Bohemia. What on
earth are you doing up here?"

"Completing my education," returned Madeline calmly. "The family suddenly
discovered that I was dreadfully ignorant. What are you doing up here
yourself, Dick?"

"Helping to complete your education," returned Mr. Blake serenely. "Is it
possible that the fame of my to-night's lecture hasn't reached you,
Madeline?"

Madeline laughed merrily. "To think that we've come to this, Dick. Why, I
never dreamed that was you. I've been refusing tickets to that lecture
all day--I abhor lectures--but of course I shall go now." She turned to
Betty. "Why didn't you tell us that you knew Mr. Blake, Betty?"

Betty blushed guiltily. "Why, I--because I don't know him much," she
stammered.

"To be exact, Madeline," interposed Mr. Blake, "this is only our second
meeting, and of course Miss Wales didn't want to stand for me in the
critical eyes of the Harding public."

"Well, but--" Madeline looked from one to the other sharply. "Dick, whom
are you writing for now?" she demanded.

"For myself. I'm running a magazine."

"'The Quiver'?"

Mr. Blake nodded. "Yes, have you seen it? I've sent one or two numbers to
your father on the chance of their finding him in some far corner of the
earth."

"So that's it," said Madeline enigmatically, ignoring the question. "Now
I understand. I--well, the point is, Dick, do whatever Betty Wales wants
you to. You may depend upon it that she knows what she's about.
Everything she tells you will be on the straight."

Mr. Richard Blake threw back his head and laughed a hearty, boyish laugh.
"You haven't changed a bit, Madeline," he said. "You expect me to be your
humble chessman and no questions asked, exactly as you did in the old
days. I can't promise what you want now," he added soberly, "but I
heartily subscribe to what you say about Miss Wales. See here"--he
reached hastily for his watch--"I was going to a tea, wasn't I? Do I dare
to cut it out?"

Betty hesitated and looked at Madeline, who shook her head decidedly.
"Never. This isn't Bohemia, you know. Run along, Dick. I'll see you
to-night if I can get a chance, and if not you'll surely be round at
Easter?"

"Rather," said Mr. Richard Blake, striding hurriedly down the hall.

Madeline watched him go with a smile. "Nice boy," she said laconically.
"We used to have jolly times together, when he was Paris correspondent
for the something or other in New York. Have we time to take our walk,
Betty?"

"Madeline," said Betty solemnly, "you are a jewel--a perfect jewel. Do
you think he'll do it?"

"Of course," said Madeline coolly. "He'll keep you on tenter-hooks as
long as he can, but his bark is always worse than his bite, and he'll
come round in the end."

"Oh, I hope so," said Betty anxiously.

Madeline smiled lazily down at her. "It's no good worrying, anyhow," she
said, "You can't pursue him to his tea. Besides, ten minutes before you
met him you'd almost decided that it would be better to let the whole
thing out, and be done with it."

"Madeline," demanded Betty in amazement, "how do you guess things?"

"Never mind how," laughed Madeline. "Come and dress for the lecture."

Betty answered Helen's eager questions about the discovery of the pearl
pin in absent-minded monosyllables. After all, things were turning out
better than she had hoped. Indirectly at least the trip to New York had
counted in Eleanor's favor. She need not reproach herself any longer with
carelessness in letting Madeline into the secret, and she could feel that
it was not for nothing that she had lost her chances of being on the
"sub" team.

As she entered the lecture hall that evening with Helen and Alice Waite,
Dorothy King, who was standing by the ticket taker, accosted her.

"I wanted to tell you that Christy is coming back before long," she said.

Having drawn her aside on that flimsy excuse, Dorothy grew suddenly
earnest.

"What's he going to do, Betty?" she demanded.

"Why, I don't know," said Betty, blushing at thought of Madeline, "any
more than you do. Haven't you seen him?"

"No," explained Dorothy. "He wrote to say that it would be wasting time
to argue any more--that he was sure he understood our point of view from
you, and now he meant to see for himself and decide."

"Then I suppose he'll tell Miss West tonight."

"We hoped he'd told you this afternoon."

"How did you know I'd seen him?" inquired Betty evasively.

"Eleanor Watson told me that she saw you together in the library."

Betty gave a little cry of dismay, then checked it. "But she doesn't know
who he is," she said.

"Yes, she does know now," said Dorothy quickly.

"How?"

"He told her himself. He was at dinner this evening with Miss Ferris, you
know. Eleanor sat up at his end of the table looking like a perfect
queen, and she talked awfully well too--she is certainly a very brilliant
girl. He talked to her a good deal during dinner and as we were leaving
the table he asked Miss Ferris again who she was."

"What did he say when she told him?"

"He just said 'Indeed!' in that queer, drawling voice of his. Afterward
Miss Ferris made coffee for us, and what do you suppose he did? He began
to ask everybody in the room about the code of honor at the college."

"Well?"

"After one or two of the girls had said what they thought, he turned
straight to Eleanor Watson. 'And you, Miss Watson,' he said, 'what do you
think? Is this fine moral feeling strong enough to stand a strain? Would
you be willing to risk one thoroughly dishonest student not to overthrow
it?' She got awfully white, and I could see her cup shake in her hand,
but she said very quietly, 'I quite agree with what has already been
said, Mr. Blake.'"

"And then?"

"Then he said 'Indeed!' again. But when the girls got up to go and he bid
them each good-bye, he managed to keep Eleanor on some pretext about
wanting to finish an argument that they'd begun at dinner. Miss Ferris
kept me to know about a Hilton House girl who was down at the infirmary
when I was and finally had to be sent home; and as we stood talking at
the other side of the room, I distinctly heard Mr. Blake say, 'The editor
of "The Quiver," Miss Watson.'"

"Did Miss Ferris hear it too?"

"Probably not. Anyway it wouldn't mean anything to her. The next minute
Eleanor Watson was gone, and then I went too. Betty, we must run back
this minute. He's going to begin."

As far as her information about "The Tendencies of the Modern Drama" was
concerned, Betty Wales might quite as well have been enjoying herself at
"The Hand of Fate." She sat very still, between two girls she had never
seen before, and apparently listened intently to the speaker. As a matter
of fact, she heard scarcely a word that he said. Her thoughts and her
eyes were fixed on Eleanor, who was sitting with Beatrice Egerton, well
up on the middle aisle. Like Betty, she seemed to be absorbed in
following the thread of Mr. Blake's argument. She laughed at his jokes,
applauded his clever stories. But there was a hot flush on her cheeks and
a queer light in her eyes that bore unmistakable evidence to the struggle
going on beneath her forced attention.

After the lecture Betty was waiting near the door for Helen and Alice,
when Eleanor brushed past her.

"Are you going home, Eleanor?" she asked timidly, merely for the sake of
saying something friendly.

Eleanor turned back impatiently. "You're the tenth person who's asked me
that," she said. "Why shouldn't I be?"

"Why, no reason at all--" began Betty. But Eleanor had vanished.

Once in her own room she locked the door and gave free rein to the fury
of passion and remorse that held her in its thrall. Jim's visit had
brought out all her nobler impulses. She had caught a glimpse of herself
as she would have looked in his eyes, and the scorn of her act that she
had felt at intervals all through the fall and winter--that had prevented
any real enjoyment of her stolen honors and kept her from writing home
about them,--had deepened into bitter self-abnegation. But Jim had come
and gone. He still believed in her, for he did not know what she had
done. Nobody knew. Nobody would ever know now. It was absurd to fear
discovery after all these months. So Eleanor had argued, throwing care
and remorse to the winds, and resolving to forget the past and enjoy life
to the full.

Then, just at the moment of greatest triumph, had come Mr. Blake's
startling announcement. He had not told her what he had done or meant to
do, nor how he had found out about the story, nor who shared his secret;
and Eleanor had been too amazed and frightened to ask. Now, in the
solitude of her room, she drew her own swift conclusions. It was a plot
against her peace of mind, his coming up to lecture. Who had arranged it?
Who indeed but Betty Wales? She knew Mr. Blake intimately, it seemed, and
she had such horribly strict ideas of honesty. She would never forgive
her own sister for cheating. "She must have seen 'The Quiver' on my
table," thought Eleanor, "and then to use it against me like this!" No
doubt she or Mr. Blake had told that hateful Madeline Ayres, who knew him
too. No doubt all the editors had been told. It was to be hoped that
Dorothy King, with her superior airs, realized that it was mostly her
fault. A dull flush spread over Eleanor's pale face, as it suddenly
flashed upon her that Beatrice Egerton was an editor.

Well, if Beatrice was in the secret, there was no telling how many she
had confided in. Eleanor's devotion to Miss Egerton had been utterly
without sentiment from the first. She realized perfectly that Beatrice
was flippant and unprincipled, swayed only by selfish considerations and
by a passion for making a sensation. If she did not mind being associated
with the story, she would tell it; only regard for her own reputation as
Eleanor's "backer" might deter her.

Swiftly Eleanor laid her plan. After all, what did it matter who knew?
Mr. Blake, Betty and Dorothy, Beatrice--the whole college--what could
they prove? Nothing--absolutely nothing, unless she betrayed herself. No
doubt they thought they had brought her to bay, and expected her to make
some sort of confession. They would find there was no getting around her
that way. There was no danger of discovery, so long as she kept her head,
and she would never show the white feather. She would write another
story--she could do it and she would, too, that very night. But first she
would go back to the Students' Building. The Dramatic Club was giving a
reception to Mr. Blake and the members of the faculty. She had been
unpardonably stupid to think of missing it.

As she crossed the shadowed space in front of the big building, she
caught sight of three dimly outlined figures clustered about one of the
pillars of the portico, and heard Frances West's voice, so sweet and
penetrating as to be quite unmistakable.

"Yes, he leaves it entirely to us," she was saying. "He said he thought
we could be trusted to know what was best."

"I wish he hadn't made the condition that no one should say anything to
her," objected a second speaker. "It doesn't seem to me quite wise to let
things just drift along the same as ever."

"Nonsense," broke in a third voice, sharp with irritation. "You know
perfectly well--"

Eleanor had walked as slowly as she dared. Now there was nothing for it
but to open the door without waiting to find out the identity of the last
two speakers, or risk being caught eaves-dropping.

She hurried on up the stairs to the society rooms on the second floor,
and devoted herself for the rest of the evening to the dullest and most
unpopular members of the faculty with an ardor that won her the heart-
felt gratitude of the president of the club.

"I can be agreeable," she thought, as she sat down at her desk an hour
later. "I can do whatever I make up my mind to. I'll show them that I'm
not going to 'drift along!'"

It was six o'clock in the morning when, stiff and heavy-eyed, she turned
off her light and crept into bed.

"I've driven a coach and four through their precious ten o'clock rule,"
she thought, "but I don't care. I've finished the story."

The story was a little sketch of western life, with characters and
incidents drawn from an experience of Jim's. Eleanor was an excellent
critic of her own work, and she knew that this was good; not so unusual,
perhaps, as the other one had been, but vivid, swinging, full of life and
color, far above the average of student work. It should go to Miss
Raymond the first thing in the morning. She would like it, and the
"Argus" perhaps would want it--Eleanor closed her tired eyes, and in a
moment was fast asleep.



CHAPTER XV

DISAPPOINTMENTS


It was the day of the great basket-ball game. In half an hour more the
gymnasium would be opened to the crowd that waited in two long, sinuous
lines, gay with scarfs, banners and class emblems, outside the doors. Now
and then a pretty girl, dressed all in white, with a paper hat, green or
yellow as the case might be, and an usher's wand to match, darted out of
one of the campus houses and fluttered over to the back door of the
gymnasium. The crowd watched these triumphal progresses languidly. Its
interest was reserved for the other girls, pig tailed and in limp-hanging
rain-coats, who also sought the back door, but with that absence of
ostentation and self-consciousness which invariably marks the truly
great. The crowd singled out its "heroes in homespun," and one line or
the other applauded, according to the color that was known to be sewed on
the blue sleeve beneath the rain-coat.

The green line was just shouting itself hoarse over T. Reed, who had been
observed slinking across the apple orchard, hoping to effect her entrance
unnoticed, when Eleanor Watson hurried down the steps of the Hilton
House, carrying a sheet of paper in one hand. Hearing the shouting, she
shrugged her shoulders disdainfully and chose the route to the Westcott
House that did not lead past the gymnasium doors. As she went up the
steps of the Westcott, she met Jean Eastman coming down, her white skirts
rustling in the wind.

Jean looked at her in surprise. "Why, Eleanor, you're an usher too.
Aren't you going to dress? It's half past two this minute."

"Yes," said Eleanor curtly, "I know. I'm not going to usher. I have a
headache. Jean, where is my basket-ball song?"

"How should I know?" said Jean, smoothing the petals of the green
chrysanthemums that were festooned about her wand. "On the paper with the
rest, isn't it?"

[Illustration: THE GREEN LINE WAS SHOUTING ITSELF HOARSE]

"No," said Eleanor, "it's not. I didn't go to the class 'sing' last
night, but this noon somebody left a song sheet in my room. You said they
chose mine, Jean."

"I said," corrected Jean, "that I thought they chose it. I was on the
song committee, but I didn't go to the meeting. From your description I
thought it must be one of those that Kate said was taken."

Eleanor held out the paper to Jean. "Whose are these?"

Jean glanced hastily down the page. "Why, I don't know," she said, "any
more than you do--except that first one to the tune of 'St. Louis.'" She
hummed a lilting measure or two. "That's our prize song all right, and
who do you think wrote it?"

"Who?" demanded Eleanor fiercely.

"That little Adams girl--the one who rooms with Betty Wales. T. Reed told
me she'd been working on it for weeks."

Eleanor's eyes flashed scornfully. "I should think it ought to be fairly
decent then," she said.

"Well, it's considerably more than fairly decent," said Jean cheerfully.
"I'm freezing here, Eleanor, and it's late too. Don't bother about your
song. Come over to the gym. with me and you can go in the back way."

"No, thank you," said Eleanor in frigid tones, and went back as she had
come.

To be beaten, and by Helen Chase Adams, of all people! It was too
humiliating. Six basket-ball songs had been printed and hers rejected. No
doubt the other five had been written by special friends of the
committee. She had depended on Jean to look after hers--although she had
not doubted for a moment that it would be among the very best submitted--
and Jean had failed her.

Worse yet, the story on which she had staked her hopes had come back from
Miss Raymond, with a few words of perfunctory, non-committal criticism.
Miss Raymond had not read it to her class, much less sent the "Argus"
editors after it.

"Does she know, too?" questioned Eleanor. "Does she think that because
I've cheated once I can't ever be trusted again, or is it just my luck to
have them all notice the one thing I didn't write and let alone the
things I do?"

It was two weeks since Mr. Blake's lecture, and in that time she had
accomplished nothing of all that she had intended. Her idea had been to
begin over--to blot out the fact that once she had not played fair, and
starting on a clean sheet, repeat her triumph and prove to herself and
other people that her position in college affairs was no higher than she
deserved. But so far she had proved nothing, and every day the
difficulties of her position increased. It was almost more than she could
manage, to treat the girls whom she suspected of knowing her secret with
exactly her accustomed manner. She had not been able to verify her
suspicions except in the case of Beatrice Egerton. There was no doubt
about her. When the two were alone together she scarcely took pains to
conceal her knowledge, and her covert hints had driven Eleanor into more
than one outburst of resentment which she bitterly regretted when it was
too late. It was absolutely impossible to tell about Betty. "She treats
me exactly as she did when Jim was here," reflected Eleanor, "and just as
she did last year, for that matter. If she doesn't know it's no
particular credit to her, and if she does--" Eleanor could not bear the
idea of receiving kindness from people who must despise her.

Jean ran on to the gym., shivering in her thin dress, and muttering
savagely over Eleanor's "beastly temper."

As she passed the sophomore-senior line, one and another of her friends
shouted out gay greetings.

"Hurry up, Jean, or we shall get in before you do."

"You sophomore ushers look like a St. Patrick's Day parade."

"Tell the people in there that their clocks are slow."

"All right," said Jean, hanging on to her unmanageable paper hat.

As she passed the end of the line, Beatrice Egerton detached herself from
it, and followed her around the corner of the gym. "Oh, Miss Eastman,"
she coaxed. "Won't you let me go in with you? I shall never get a place
to see anything from way back there in the line."

Jean eyed her doubtfully. She wanted to oblige the great Miss Egerton.
"I'm afraid all the reserved seats are full by this time," she objected.

"Oh, I don't want a seat," said Beatrice easily. "I'll stand on the steps
of the faculty platform. There's no harm in that, is there?"

"I guess not," said Jean. "Come on."

The doorkeeper had gone up-stairs for a moment, and the meek little
freshman who had her place only stared when Jean and Miss Egerton ran
past her without exhibiting their credentials.

"Thanks awfully," said Miss Egerton, sitting down on a pile of rugs and
mattresses that had been stacked around the fireplace. Jean went off to
get her orders from the head usher. There was really nothing to do but
walk around and look pretty, the head usher told her. The rush to the
gallery had begun, but the janitors and the night-watchman were managing
that. Of course when the faculty began to come--

"Oh, yes," said Jean, and hurried back to Beatrice.

"Good-looking lot of ushers," she said.

Beatrice nodded. "You have a lot of pretty girls in 19--."

"To say nothing of having the college beauty," added Jean.

"Of course," said Beatrice. "Nobody in college can touch Eleanor Watson
for looks. There she is now, talking to Betty Wales and Kate Denise."

"No," chuckled Jean, "that's Laura Perkins. Their back views are
amazingly alike, but wait till you see Laura's face. No, the lady Eleanor
wouldn't come to the game. She's in the sulks."

"Seems to be her chronic state nowadays," said Beatrice. "Talking to her
is like walking on a hornet's nest. What's the particular cause of
grievance to-day?"

"Oh, the committee didn't accept her basket-ball song," said Jean, "and I
was on the committee."

Beatrice lifted her eyebrows. "She actually had the nerve to write--to
hand one in?"

"Oh, that wasn't nervy," said Jean. "The girls wanted her to--l9-- is
awfully shy on poets. What I don't admire is her taste in fussing because
it wasn't used."

Beatrice smiled significantly. "Did she tell you about her story?"

"What story?"

"Oh, a new one that she handed in for a theme a week or so ago."

"What about it?"

"Why, Miss Raymond didn't notice it particularly, and Eleanor was fussed
to death--positively furious, you know. I was with her when she got it
back."

"How funny!" said Jean. "But don't they say that Miss Raymond is pretty
apt to like everything a girl does, after she's once become interested? I
suppose Eleanor was taking it easy and depending on that."

Beatrice's face wore its most inscrutable expression. "But, my dear," she
said, "if you knew all about that other wonderful story--the famous
one--"

There was an unusual commotion at the door opposite them. By flower-
bedecked ones and twos the faculty had been arriving, and had been
received with shouts and songs from the galleries and escorted by excited
ushers across the floor to their seats on the stage. Miss Egerton had
stopped in the midst of her sentence to find out whose coming had turned
the galleries into pandemonium and brought every usher but the phlegmatic
Jean to the door.

"Oh, it's Prexy and Miss Ferris and Dr. Hinsdale, all in a bunch," she
said at last. "How inconsiderate of them not to scatter the fireworks!"
She turned back to Jean. "As I was saying, if you knew all about that
wonderful story--"

Betty Wales, hurrying to help escort her dear Miss Ferris to the
platform, caught sight of the two on the mattresses, noticed Jean's look
of breathless interest and Beatrice's knowing air, and jumped to exactly
the right conclusion. With a last despairing glance at Miss Ferris she
turned aside from the group of crowding ushers, and dropped down beside
Jean on the mattings.

"Have you heard the latest news?" she asked, trying to make her tone
perfectly easy and natural. "The freshman captain was so rattled that she
forgot to wear her gym. suit. She came in her ordinary clothes. They've
sent an usher back with her to see that she gets dressed right this time.
Isn't that killing?"

"Absurd," said Beatrice, rising. "Jean, you haven't done anything yet;
you're too idle for words. I'm going up to jolly Dr. Hinsdale."

In her heart she was glad of the interruption. She had said just enough
to pique curiosity. To tell more would have been bad policy all around.
Betty Wales had arrived just in the nick of time.

But Jean was naturally disappointed. "Betty Wales," she said, "do you
know what you interrupted just now? Beatrice Egerton was just going to
tell me the inside facts about Eleanor's story in the 'Argus.'"

"Was she?" said Betty steadily. "If there are any inside facts, as you
call them, don't you think Eleanor is the one to tell you?"

"Oh, I don't know," said Jean carelessly. "Eleanor's so tiresome. She
wants to be the centre of the stage all the time. Shouldn't you think
she'd be willing to give other people a little show now?"

"Why, she is," returned Betty vaguely.

"Not much," asserted Jean with great positiveness. "She's sulking in her
tent this very minute because the girls aren't singing her basket-ball
song. Anybody who wasn't downright selfish would be glad to have girls
like Helen Adams get a little chance."

"Eleanor's tired and doesn't think," suggested Betty.

"You'd better go down to the door," said the head usher. "The 'green'
faculty are coming in swarms."

The game went on much as last year's had done. First one gallery shook
with forbidden applause, then the other. Sophomores sang paeans to their
victories, freshmen pluckily ignored their mistakes. T. Reed appeared as
if by magic here, there, and everywhere. Rachel Morrison played her
quiet, steady game at the sophomore basket. Katherine Kittredge, talking
incessantly to the bewildered freshman "home" whom she guarded, batted
balls with ferocious lunges of her big fist back to the centre field,
where a dainty little freshman with soft, appealing brown eyes, half
hidden under a mist of yellow hair, occasionally managed to foil T.
Reed's pursuit and sent them pounding back into the outstretched arms of
a tall, ungainly home who tossed or dropped them--it was hard to tell
which--into the freshman basket. It was a shame to let her play, the
sophomores grumbled. She was a giantess, not a girl. But as the score
piled up in their favor, they grew more amiable and laughed good-
humoredly at the ineffectual attempts of their guards to block the
giantess's goals.

Betty watched it all with keen interest and yet with a certain feeling of
detachment. It was splendid fun, but what did it matter after all who won
or lost? The freshman centres muffed another ball. Up in the "yellow"
gallery she saw a tall girl standing behind a pillar unmistakably wink
back the tears. How foolish, just for a game!

It was over at last. Miss Andrews announced the score, congratulating
victor and vanquished alike on clean, fair play. Betty joined in the mad
rush around the gym., helped sing to the team and to the freshman team
and finally retired to a quiet corner with Christy Mason, who had come
back to see the game and get a start with her neglected work before
vacation. Betty gave her the Students' Commission key with a little sigh
of satisfaction.

"It's a good deal of responsibility, isn't it?" she said.

Christy nodded. "If you take it seriously. But then isn't life a
responsibility?"

Helen was sitting alone in their room when Betty got back, her eyes
shining like stars, her plain, angular little face alight with happiness.

"I say, Helen," began Betty, hunting for the hat-pins that still fastened
a remnant of her once gorgeous paper hat to her hair, "your song was
great. Did the girls tell you?"

"Some of them," said Helen, shyly. "Some of them didn't know I wrote it.
One asked me if I knew."

Betty laughed. "Did you tell her?"

"No, I didn't," said Helen, blushing. "I--I wanted to, awfully; but I
thought it would seem queer."

"Well, plenty of them knew," said Betty, mounting a chair to fasten her
wand over a picture.

"Of course,"--Helen's tone was apologetic,--"it's a very little thing to
care so much about. I suppose you think I'm silly, but you see I worked
over it pretty hard, and I don't have so very many things to care about.
Now if I were like you--"

"Nonsense!" said Betty, descending suddenly from her lofty perch. "I
couldn't write a line of poetry if I tried from now till Commencement."

"Oh, yes, you could," said Helen, eagerly. "Well, if I were like Eleanor
Watson then--"

"Helen," said Betty, quickly, "you're not one bit like her."

Helen waited a minute. "Betty," she began again shyly.

"Yes," said Betty, kindly.

"I'm awfully sorry you couldn't have your wish, too."

"My wish!" Betty repeated. "Oh, you mean about being on the team. I don't
mind about that, Helen. I guess I was needed more just where I was."

Helen puzzled over her answer until the supper-bell rang.

Betty's problem stayed with her all through the bustle of last days and
on into the Easter vacation. Even then she found only a doubtful
solution. She had thought that Mr. Blake's decision, of which Dorothy had
told her as soon as possible, would close the incident of the story. Now
she saw that the affair was not so easily disposed of. Beatrice Egerton
was an incalculable source of danger, but the chief trouble was Eleanor
herself. Somehow her attitude was wrong, though Betty could not exactly
tell how. She was in a false position, one that it would be difficult for
any one to maintain; and it was making her say and do things that people
like Jean, who did not understand, naturally misinterpreted. Why, even
she herself hated to meet Eleanor now. There was so much to hide and to
avoid talking about. And yet it would certainly be worse if everybody
knew. Betty puckered her smooth forehead into rows and rows of wrinkles
and still she saw no way out. She thought of consulting Nan, but she
couldn't bear to, when Nan had always been so pessimistic about Eleanor.

It was not until the vacation was over and Betty's train was pulling into
Harding that she had an idea. She gave a little exclamation. "I've got
it!"

"Got what?" demanded her seat-mate, who was a mathematical prodigy and
had been working out problems in calculus all the way from Buffalo.

"Not one of those examples of yours," laughed Betty, "only an idea,--or
at least about half an idea."

"I don't find fractions of ideas very useful," said the seat-mate.

"I never said they were," returned Betty irritably.

It had occurred to her that if there was any way to get Eleanor to
confide in Miss Ferris, perhaps matters might be straightened out.

The missing half of the idea, to which Betty had not the faintest clew,
was--how could it be done?



CHAPTER XVI

DORA CARLSON'S "SUGARING-OFF"


Dora Carlson pulled back the heavy oak door of the Hilton House and
stepped softly into the hall. With bright, darting glances, such as some
frightened wild creature might bestow on an unfamiliar environment, she
crept past the parlor doors and up the stairs. Dora was not naturally
timid, and her life on a lonely farm had made her self-reliant to a
degree; but there was something about these big campus houses that awed
her--mysterious suggestions of a luxurious and alien existence, of
delightful festivities and dainty belongings, that stimulated her
imagination and made her feel like a lawless intruder if she met any one
in the passages.

Of course it was foolish. Nettie Dwight, who lived next door to her on
Market Street, had not a single friend on the campus, and yet she had
been into every one of the dwelling houses and explored them all from top
to bottom. Where was the harm, she asked. All you had to do was to step
up and open the door, and then walk along as if you knew where you were
going. When you had seen as much as you wanted to, you could stop in
front of some room of which the door stood open so that you could tell
from the hall that it was empty, and turn around and go away again.
Everybody would think that the person you had come to see was out. It
sounded perfectly simple, but Dora had never been anywhere except to
Eleanor's room at the Hilton House and once, at Betty Wales's invitation,
to the Belden.

She hated to hurry through the halls. She would have liked to turn aside
and smell the hyacinths that stood in the sunny bay-window of the long
parlor; she wanted desperately to read through all the notices on the
house bulletin-board at the foot of the stairs; but instead she fled up
the two flights and through the corridor, like a criminal seeking
sanctuary, and arrived at Eleanor's room in a flurry of breathless
eagerness. The door was open and Eleanor sat by the window, staring
listlessly out at the quiet, greening lawns. The light was full on her
face and Dora, who had had only a passing glimpse of her divinity since
before the spring vacation, noticed sadly how pale and tired she looked.

"May I come in, Miss Watson?" she asked.

"Of course, but you mustn't call me that," said Eleanor, turning to her
with a charming smile. Beatrice Egerton had said that she should be over
in the course of the afternoon, and Eleanor had been dreading her coming.
The necessity of keeping up appearances with Beatrice and the rest was
wearing Eleanor out. It was a distinct relief to talk to Dora, with whom
no artifices were necessary. Whoever else knew her secret, Dora certainly
did not; she was as remote from the stream of college gossip as if she
had lived in another world.

"I am so glad to see that you're resting," said Dora brightly. "I take it
as an omen that perhaps you'll be able to do what I want."

"I hope I can," said Eleanor. "What is it?"

"Why, I'm going to have a sugaring-off tonight," announced Dora
impressively, "and I should be very pleased to have you come."

For a moment Eleanor hesitated, then her better nature triumphed. This
was the first thing the child had ever asked of her, and she should have
it, even at the cost of some trifling annoyance.

"How nice," she said cordially. "I shall be delighted to come. Just what
is a sugaring-off, Dora?"

Dora laughed gleefully. "It's amazing to me how few people know what it
is. I'm not going to tell you the particulars, but I will excite your
interest by saying that it has to do with maple sugar."

"How did you happen to think of having one?" inquired Eleanor curiously.

"Why, you see," explained Dora, "we have a sugar orchard on our farm.
Ohio is a great maple-sugar state, you know."

"Oh!" said Eleanor. "No, I didn't know."

"Sugaring time used to be the delight of my childish heart," went on Dora
quaintly. "So many people came out to our farm then. It was quite like
living in the village and having neighbors. And then I do love maple
sugar. My father makes an excellent quality."

"And he's sent you some now?"

"Yes," assented Dora eagerly, "a whole big pailful. I suppose my dear
father thought it would console me for not having been home for my spring
vacation. It came this morning, and yesterday Mrs. Bryant went to pass a
week with her son in Jersey City, and she told me I could use the kitchen
for a sugar-party if I wanted to while she was gone--I told her that I
was expecting to have a party--and this is the only night for a week that
Nettie Dwight can come, because she teaches in a night-school." Dora
paused for breath.

"Who is Nettie Dwight?" asked Eleanor idly.

"Oh, she is a Market Street girl. There will be three Market Street girls
and you and Miss Wales, if she can come. Miss Wales asked me to a play at
her house last fall and I am so glad to have a chance to return it. I was
afraid I never could."

"Hello, Eleanor. Good-afternoon, Miss Carlson." Beatrice Egerton threw
her books and then herself unceremoniously on to Eleanor's couch.

Beatrice could hardly have told why she persisted in inflicting her
society upon Eleanor Watson. In her shallow way she was fond of her, and
she felt vaguely that considering her own careless code of morals it
would be inconsistent to drop Eleanor now, just because she had followed
similar standards. At the same time she was angry at what she looked upon
as a betrayal of her friendship, and considered that any annoyance she
might inflict on Eleanor was no more than she deserved. As for Dora
Carlson, she amused Beatrice, who, being thoroughly self-seeking herself,
could not imagine why the exclusive Eleanor should choose to exhibit a
freakish tendency toward philanthropy in this one direction. Beatrice
would have liked, for the satisfaction there is in solving a puzzle, to
get at the root of the matter. Accordingly she always took pains to draw
Dora out.

"I've met you before this afternoon, Miss Carlson," she said, thumping a
refractory pillow into place. "What are you doing up on the campus?"

It was the most casual remark, but Dora answered it with the naive
frankness that was her peculiar charm.

"I am giving out my invitations for a sugaring-off," she said.

"A sugaring-off!" repeated Miss Egerton gaily. "Now I haven't the
faintest idea what that is but it sounds very festive."

Dora looked at her questioningly and then at Eleanor. "Miss Egerton," she
said at last, "I should be very pleased to have you come too, because you
are Eleanor's dear friend."

Beatrice gave a little shriek of amusement. "Are you really going,
Eleanor?"

Eleanor nodded.

"Then I shall certainly come too," declared Beatrice, merrily, "to see
that you don't eat too much sugar."

As Dora danced down the Belden House steps a few moments later, her face
was wreathed in smiles. Miss Wales was coming too. They were all coming.
"I guess my father would be pleased if he could look in on us to-night,"
thought the little freshman happily. Then, as the college clock chimed
out the hour, her brow wrinkled with anxiety. The kitchen must be swept,
--Dora had decided views about Mrs. Bryant's housekeeping,--and the
"surprise," which was to eke out the entertainment afforded by the
sugaring-off proper, had yet to be prepared. The unaccustomed
responsibilities of hostess weighed heavily upon Dora Carlson as she
traversed the long mile that stretched between the campus and 50 Market
Street.

It was an odd little party which gathered that night in Mrs. Bryant's
dingy kitchen. The aggressive Nettie Dwight, two hopelessly commonplace
sophomores, cousins, from a little town down the river, and Dora composed
the Market Street contingent. They were all very much in awe of Eleanor's
beauty, and of Beatrice's elaborate gown and more elaborate manner. Betty
Wales, enveloped in one of Mrs. Bryant's "all-over" kitchen aprons,
vigorously stirring the big kettleful of bubbling, odorous syrup, tried
her best to put the others at their ease and to make things go, as
affairs at the college always did. But it was no use. Everything
progressed too smoothly. Nothing burned or boiled over or refused to
cook,--incidents which always add the spice of adventure to a chafing
dish spread. Nobody had come in a kimono. There was no bed to loll back
on, no sociable sparcity of plates, no embarrassing interruptions in the
way of heads of uninvited guests poked in the door and apologetically
withdrawn; and the anxious pucker of hospitality on the face of the
little hostess imposed an added restraint and formality upon the oddly
assorted company of guests. Beatrice Egerton played with her rings,
yawned without dissimulation, and wished she had stayed at home; Eleanor
bravely parried Nettie Dwight's incisive questions about "her set"; and
Betty, stirring and talking to the cousins and Dora, had time to admire
Eleanor's self-control and to wonder pityingly if there were many girls
in Harding College so completely "out of it" as these four seemed to be.
And yet they were not unhappy; they were enjoying Dora Carlson's
sugaring-off as though it had been a delightful college spread instead of
a dull and dreadful party.

When the biscuits, that Dora had made herself, were done and the sugar
boiled to the right consistency, everybody began to brighten up, and the
refreshment feature bade fair to be a real success. It was too late in
the spring for snow, so Dora had provided some little cakes of ice on
which to wax the sugar. They were not quite so good a substitute as might
have been desired, for they had a fashion of slipping dangerously over
the plates, and then the hot sugar slipped and spread on the ice and had
to be dexterously coaxed to settle down in one place and melt out a cool
bed for itself, as it does easily enough in snow. But all this only added
to the interest of the occasion. One sophomore cousin lost her cake of
ice on the floor, and she showed more animation than she had in all the
rest of the evening together, in spite of Betty's valiant efforts. Then
Nettie Dwight suggested that they grain part of the sugar, so, when
everybody had eaten as much as possible of the waxed variety, spread on
as many crisp little biscuits as Dora could force upon them, Dora brought
saucers full of the hot syrup and there was a stirring contest, with
results in the shape of creamy maple candy, which Dora put out to cool,
ready to be eaten later.

"And now," she said, with a little quiver of eagerness in her voice,
"there is one course more. Look under your plates."

Search revealed a carefully folded square of white paper at each place.
Beatrice got hers open first and muttered, "What perfect nonsense!"
before Eleanor could stop her with an imploring glance.

"Such a bright idea!" cried Betty Wales, hurrying to the rescue. "They're
fortunes, aren't they? Oh, dear, I'm afraid mine doesn't fit. It's much
too grand."

Dora laughed gleefully. "That's the fun, you see,--to notice how they
fit."

"How'd you ever think of it?" giggled one of the cousins. "There's a man
in mine all right."

"Oh, I didn't think of it myself," explained Dora, modestly. "I found it
in a magazine. I don't suppose any of you see the 'Farmer's Friendly
Counsellor.'"

"No," said Betty, quickly, "I don't believe we do."

"It's a fine magazine," continued Dora, "with quantities of good reading
matter of all kinds. There's always one page for farmers' wives, with
recipes and hints for home dressmakers. Last winter I read about giving a
luncheon, and it sounded so pretty that I cut it out, though I never
expected to use it. Right in the middle of it was one course like these
fortunes, only they were to be put into stuffed peppers, instead of
stuffing, and when the guests took the covers off their peppers, there
they would find their fortunes."

"But Miss Carlson," began Beatrice, impatiently, "don't you see that the
whole point--"

"I like this way just as well," broke in Betty Wales. "What you really
care about is the fortune, and it doesn't matter whether it's in a pepper
or under your plate."

"Not a bit," agreed Eleanor, crumpling up her fortune nervously.

"And now," said Dora, "we'll all read them out loud and see how they fit.
I put them around without looking at them, and I didn't know where any of
you were going to sit."

"I guess mine fits pretty well," said the giggling cousin, whose fortune
had a man in it.

"Then why don't you begin?" suggested Betty, and the cousin began with
avidity. Dora had absolutely no literary ability; the spontaneous gaiety
that bubbled up in all that she said and did was entirely lacking in the
stiff, sentimental little character-sketch, but it pleased its reader,
and Betty and Eleanor joined in declaring it very interesting.

"Now, Eleanor," said Betty, "you come next."

Eleanor shook her head. "I'm sorry, but I tore mine up before I knew we
were to read them." She held up the crumpled ball of paper.

"Oh, you can smooth that out," said Betty, noticing Dora's
disappointment. "Here, give it to me."

Eleanor surrendered the paper in silence, and without glancing at the
contents Betty smoothed it out and passed it back.

"Now, Eleanor."

Eleanor looked around the table. Everybody was waiting. There was no
escape. Resolutely she pulled herself together and plunged in.

"You are the soul of truth and honor and generosity. You never think of
yourself, but are always trying to make other people happy. Your noble
nature is shown in your beautiful--" Eleanor's voice faltered and she
flushed painfully. "I can't go on," she said. "It's so--so--" She stopped
in utter confusion.

Dora had been listening with shining eyes. "Oh, please go on," she
begged. "That's the very one I wrote for you. I didn't plan it a bit, but
I hoped you'd get that one."

The matter might have been adjusted easily enough, if Beatrice, who was
sitting between Betty and Dora, had not turned to Betty with her oracular
smile, and murmured, "A keen sense of irony for one so young, isn't it?"
behind her hand.

Betty flushed in spite of herself and looked up to find Dora staring at
them with wide, startled eyes. She had caught the word irony, and
distinctly remembered the succinct definition that she had learned years
before at school--"saying the opposite of what you mean." She looked at
Eleanor who was struggling to regain her composure and attacked the
situation with simple directness.

"Miss Egerton," she said, "I couldn't avoid overhearing you just now. I
don't see why any one should think I didn't mean what I wrote about
Eleanor. Of course I meant it. You know I did, don't you, Eleanor?"

"Of course you meant it," repeated Eleanor, with an unsteady little
laugh. "If you hadn't, I shouldn't have minded reading it. Please forgive
me."

It was all over in a moment. Before the three strangers had had time to
wonder what the trouble was, Betty had plunged gaily into her fortune.
Nettie followed eagerly, and Beatrice had the grace to bring up the rear.
There was the candy to eat after that and the party broke up with a fair
semblance of mirth. But as she washed up the big pile of sticky dishes,
Dora's face was troubled. What could Miss Egerton have meant? Why should
Eleanor's dearest and most intimate friend have said such a thing? How
could she have thought it?

Eleanor walked home wrapped in a silence which Betty's most vigorous
sallies could not penetrate. Long after Dora had finished her dishes and
gone to bed, she sat in her Morris chair in the dark, wide-awake, every
nerve throbbing painfully. She had failed Dora Carlson, spoiled the party
that the poor child had so counted on, made her Beatrice Egerton's butt
and laughing stock. Dora would never wholly trust her again. She would
wonder what Beatrice had meant. By and by she would guess, and the
friendship that Eleanor had meant should brighten her college course,
would be turned to a bitter memory. Whether or not she ever knew the
whole miserable story would make small difference. She, Eleanor Watson,
had made Dora waste her love on a cheat--a thief; she had made Betty
Wales and Miss Ferris help a cheat.

Eleanor's face softened. Betty had been awfully good to Dora. Perhaps,
after all, she had not been the one to tell Mr. Blake. But Betty's
disappointment was not the worst thing. Betty would make other friends--
find other interests. Dora Carlson was different; she had not the talent
for making many friends, and in losing Eleanor she would lose all she
had. For the first time Eleanor realized how mean and contemptible her
action had been, because it did not concern herself alone, but involved
every one of the people who cared about her--Jim and her father, Dora,
Betty, Miss Ferris. It was a short list; perhaps Jean and Kate Denise
cared a little too. She felt no resentment against Beatrice. There was no
room for it in the press of deeper emotions. Her one idea was that she
must do something to save them all. But what? Creep away like a thief in
the night--let them forget that she had ever been a disgrace to them and
to 19--? Eleanor's pride revolted against such a course, and yet what
else was there to do? She had not even arrived at Betty's half answer to
the problem when she undressed in the silence of the great, sleeping
house and, thoroughly tired with her long vigil, forgot the difficult
tangle until morning.



CHAPTER XVII

A MAY-DAY RESOLUTION


The spring had been a late one at Harding, but it had come at last with a
sudden rush and a glare of breathless midsummer heat. The woods of
Paradise were alive with fresh young green, gay with bird songs, sweet
with the smell of growing things. The campus too was bright in its new
livery. The tulips in front of the Hilton House flaunted their scarlet
and gold cups in the sunshine. The great bed of narcissus around the side
entrance of college hall sweetened the air with its delicate perfume, and
out on the back campus the apple-trees, bare and brown only a day or so
before, were wrapped in a soft pink mist that presaged the coming glory
of bud and blossom.

It was there, in the square of dappled sunshine and shadow under the
apple-trees, at once the loveliest and most sequestered spot on the
campus, that the Harding girls were holding a May-day fete. It was a
strictly impromptu affair. Somebody had discovered at breakfast the day
before that to-morrow would be May-day, and somebody else had suggested
that as it was also Saturday, there ought to be some sort of celebration.
A May queen was decreed "too old"; a May masque too much trouble. Then
somebody said, "Let's all just dress up as little girls and roll hoops,"
and the idea met with instant favor. It was passed along at chapel and
morning classes, and at three o'clock the next afternoon the whole
college, its hair in waving curls or tightly braided pig-tails, its
skirts shortened, its waists lengthened and encircled by sashes, had
gathered in the space under the apple-trees, carrying hoops, dolls and
skipping ropes, intent on getting all the fun possible out of being
little once more.

There were all sorts of children there; little country girls with checked
gingham aprons and sunbonnets, demure little Puritan maids with cork-
screw curls and pantalets, sturdy little girls in sailor suits, sweet
little girls in ruffled muslins, tall little girls, all arms and ankles.
There was even a Topsy, gay in yellow calico, and an almond-eyed Japanese
whose long kimono and high-piled hair prevented her taking part in the
active American games of her mates. The taller girls were necessarily
absurd. Some of the smaller ones were surprisingly realistic. And all,
big and little, danced and laughed and squabbled, tripped over their
skipping ropes, pursued their hoops or played with their dolls under the
apple-trees in true "little girl" fashion and with the utmost zest and
abandon.

Miss Ferris's room at the Hilton House overlooked the apple orchard, and
presently she and Miss Raymond strolled out together to see the fun. They
were greeted with a shout of joyous welcome from a noisy group in the
farthest corner of the lawn, who immediately joined hands and came in a
long, wavering line, "hippity-hopping" to meet them.

"Oh, Miss Ferris," called Dorothy King from one end of the line, "we want
you and Miss Raymond to be judge. Which of us looks the youngest?"

"We've been disputing about it all the afternoon," added Mary Brooks
breathlessly from the middle of the line. "You see we're all dressed
alike in white muslin and blue sashes. Now Miss Raymond, don't I look
lots younger than Dottie?"

"Stand in a row," commanded Miss Ferris laughingly, and the chattering
group straightened out demurely, with much nudging of elbows and planting
of feet on an imaginary line. Miss Raymond and Miss Ferris considered a
moment, and then held a brief consultation.

"We both decide in favor of Betty Wales," announced Miss Ferris. "She
looks about nine and none of the rest of you are under twelve."

"There! What did I tell you!" shrieked Betty gaily, her curls bobbing,
her sash ends flying.

"I protest," called Katherine Kittredge. "Betty doesn't look over twelve
any of the time, and the rest of us look twenty. We've taken off eight
years and she's only dropped five. 'Tain't fair!" and Katherine burst
into a beautiful "little girl" boohoo.

"Don't you wanter hold my dollie?" said Mary Brooks, tendering a
handkerchief puppet to Miss Raymond with a perfect imitation of childish
innocence.

"Oh, no, come an' tell us a story," begged Babbie, twisting her white
apron into a roll.

"You'd ruther roll hoops, hadn't you?" said Katherine to Miss Ferris.

"Please tie on my hair-ribbon," demanded Bob, who in spite of a much
beruffled dress and a resplendent array of doll and sash-ribbon, looked
exactly as tomboyish as usual.

Miss Ferris and Miss Raymond appeared to be properly amused by all this
nonsense, and Miss Raymond, escorted by a little crowd of her special
admirers, went on to the crest of the hill to see Alice Waiters doll
party, which was being held on the grass at the top of the dust-pan
slope. But Miss Ferris refused all the invitations. She had only come out
for a moment, she said, and must go straight back to her work.

Betty and Mary Brooks walked over to the Hilton House with her. When she
had gone in Betty seized Mary's hand and pulled her around the corner of
the house. "Let's trill up to Eleanor," she said. "I don't think she's
been out at all."

Mary looked longingly back at the May party. "I believe--yes, they've
found a hurdy-gurdy, Betty. What's the use of bothering if she doesn't
know enough to come down?"

"Just a minute," pleaded Betty. "Here she is. Oh, Eleanor, come out and
watch, even if you haven't dressed up. It's piles of fun."

"Is it?" said Eleanor uncertainly, touched by Betty's constant
thoughtfulness. "Well, perhaps I will come later. I must finish a letter
first."

"Finish a letter," echoed Mary, "with that hurdy-gurdy going! I admire
your concentration. Betty, truly I can't stand it another minute. I'm
going back."

"All right. Good-bye, Eleanor. Hurry up and come," called Betty, flying
after Mary down the path.

Eleanor Watson looked after them for a moment and then with a little
despairing sigh sat down again at her desk. She was writing to Jim. It
was almost a month since she had sent off her last letter to him and yet
there seemed to be nothing to say. She added a line or two, dropped her
pen and went back to the window. The girls were dancing to the music of
the hurdy-gurdy. Alice Waite was standing on the edge of the crowd,
hugging a huge rag-doll in her arms as if it was her dearest treasure.
Eleanor shrugged her shoulders impatiently. The whole affair was
perfectly absurd. She had told Alice Waite so at luncheon, in her
haughtiest manner. She picked up a book from the table and began to read,
but in spite of her determination to ignore it, her thoughts would wander
to the pretty picture outside her window. The shouts and laughter, the
gay babel of talk with the undertone of droning music rang in her ears.
She slammed down her window, but still she could hear them.

What a good time they were having! Yes, they were absurd, with the
absurdity that belongs to youth--happy, light-hearted, inconsequent
youth. Eleanor Watson felt that she had left that sort of thing far
behind her. Before the summer when Judge Watson had brought home a gay
young wife to take his daughter's place at the head of his household,
before the night on the river when she had seen herself as Harding
college saw her, before the Indian summer afternoon when she had fought
and lost her battle on the stairway of the main building,--before those
crises she could have been a happy little girl with the rest of them, but
not now. Her heart was full of bitter, passionate envy. How easy life was
for them, while for her it seemed to grow harder and more impossible
every day. In the week that had passed since the sugaring-off she had
seen Dora once, and she had been more hurt by the restraint and
embarrassment that the child could not hide than by all that had gone
before. How was she to win back Dora's confidence and change Betty's pity
to respect?

She could not stand that music another minute. She would go for a long
walk--far enough at least to escape from hurdy-gurdies and chattering
girls. She got her hat, pulled on a light silk coat, for in spite of the
unseasonable heat the late afternoon would be cool, and hurried down-
stairs. Hastening through the lower hall she almost ran into Miss Ferris,
the last person she wanted to meet.

"My dear," Miss Ferris cut short her apology, "we evidently have too much
to think about, both of us." She looked at Eleanor keenly. "Why aren't
you out being a little girl with the rest of them?" she asked.

"I didn't feel like it, Miss Ferris," said Eleanor, turning away from the
searching gray eyes, "I was going for a walk instead."

"Alone?"

"Yes."

"Then"--Miss Ferris hesitated--"may I come too, or don't you want me?"

For an astute person Miss Ferris developed all at once an amazing
density. She did not seem to notice the ungracious stiffness of Eleanor's
assent.

"Good!" she cried enthusiastically, running off like a girl to get ready.
Eleanor waited, her face set in hard lines of resentful endurance. She
could not openly insult Miss Ferris, who had been kindness itself to her
all the year, but she would be as cold and offish as she pleased.

"Now which way shall we go?" asked Miss Ferris eagerly as they started
off.

"It makes no difference to me, Miss Ferris." Eleanor's tone was frigidly
courteous.

"Then suppose we go to Paradise. It's always lovely there."

Almost in silence they climbed down the steep slope that leads to the
water path, crossed the sunny stretch of meadow land and came out into
the dim, silent wood beyond. Here the path widened and Miss Ferris, who
had led the way, waited for Eleanor to come up with her.

"Isn't it beautiful?" she said with a little catch in her voice. "There's
nothing quite like the woods in spring, is there? Oh, I'm so glad I ran
away!"

"Ran away?" questioned Eleanor.

"Yes, from my work and my worries and myself out into this big,
beautiful, new world. Doesn't it make you wish you could send out fresh
shoots and blossoms yourself, and help make the world glad?"

"I'm afraid not," said Eleanor coldly, and again she felt the gray eyes,
keen and yet very kindly, fastened on her face.

A turn in the path brought the end of the grove into view. "Oh, dear!"
exclaimed Miss Ferris sadly. "I'd forgotten that Paradise was so very
small. Let's go back to that big pine-tree with the great gnarled roots
and sit down by the water and forget that we aren't lost in a lovely
primeval wilderness."

Eleanor followed her in silence and they found seats on the roots of the
big tree, Eleanor choosing one as far as she dared from her companion.

"And now," said Miss Ferris, as soon as they were settled, "tell me all
about it."

"About what?" inquired Eleanor steadily.

"What you were running away from."

Eleanor flushed angrily. "Miss Ferris, did any one ask you to--"

"No," said Miss Ferris quickly. "No one told me that you were in trouble.
I wish some one had. I'm afraid I've been very blind. I've let you worry
yourself almost ill over something and never asked you if I could help.
I've been so busy being proud of you this year that I've never even
noticed how tired and worn out you were getting."

"Proud!" repeated Eleanor, scornfully.

"Yes," said Miss Ferris, firmly, "proud. You've made a splendid record,
Miss Watson,--a remarkable record, considering last year."

"Please don't. You wouldn't say that if you understood."

Miss Ferris looked puzzled. "Don't tell me anything that you'd rather
not," she said, "but there is one thing that a friend always wants to
know. Do you see your way out, Miss Watson?"

"There isn't any way out."

"Oh, but I think there is always one somewhere," said Miss Ferris,
brightly. "You're quite sure we couldn't find it between us?"

"Quite sure."

"If you ever change your mind--"

"Thank you," said Eleanor, curtly.

There was a little silence. "We runaways mustn't be gone too long. Have
you any idea what time it is?" asked Miss Ferris.

Eleanor did not answer, and Miss Ferris looked up to find her crying
softly, her face hidden in one hand, her shoulders shaking with
suppressed sobs. For a moment Miss Ferris watched her without speaking.
Then she moved nearer and stretched out her hand to take Eleanor's free
one.

"I'm very, very sorry," she said kindly. "I wish I could have helped."

[Illustration: ELEANOR DID NOT ANSWER]

To her surprise Eleanor's sobs ceased suddenly. "I'd rather tell any one
else," she said wearily. "I hate to have you despise me, Miss Ferris."

For answer Miss Ferris only gave the hand she held a soft, friendly
little squeeze.

Then it came out--the sad, shameful story in a fierce, scornful torrent
of words. When it was told, Eleanor lifted her head and faced Miss Ferris
proudly. "Now you know." she said. "Now you can see that I was right--
that there isn't any way out."

Miss Ferris waited a moment. "Miss Watson," she said at last, "I can't
feel quite as you do about it. I think that if you honestly regret what
you did, if you are bound to live it down, if you know that in all your
life long you are never going to do anything of the sort again,--never
going to want anything badly enough to play false for it,--why then the
way out is perfectly plain. That is the way out--to let this time teach
you never to do anything of the sort again."

Eleanor shook her head hopelessly. "But don't you see that I can't put it
behind me--that I can't live it down, as you say. The girls won't let me
forget that I was taken into Dramatic Club the first time. They won't let
me forget that I am the only sophomore who is practically sure of a place
on the 'Argus' board. I tried--" Eleanor gave a pitiful little history of
her efforts to establish her literary reputation on a fair basis with the
song and the story.

"I see," said Miss Ferris, thoughtfully. "Miss Watson, if I understand
you correctly, you find yourself in the position of a man who, having
stolen a precious stone, repents and strains every nerve to pay for his
treasure. But as he is commonly supposed to be the lawful owner of the
stone, his neighbors naturally resent his eagerness to gain more riches
and consider him grasping. It's going to be very hard for you to earn
that stone, isn't it?"

"The thing to do," said Eleanor with quick decision, "is to give it
back."

Miss Ferris waited.

"I don't know that you will believe me," Eleanor went on after a minute,
"because it seems so unlikely; but this is the first time I ever thought
of resigning from Dramatic Club."

"You must remember," said Miss Ferris, quietly, "that if you should
resign now, you would never be voted into the society again, no matter
how much your work might deserve recognition."

"Yes," said Eleanor.

"And that so unusual a proceeding will create comment. People who don't
understand will be likely to say unpleasant things."

"I don't believe I should mind--much," said Eleanor, unsteadily. "It's
the people who do understand that I care about--and myself. I want to
feel that I've done a little something to repair damages. Of course this
won't make things just right. Some other girl in 19-- ought to have been
in the first four, but it will be something, won't it?"

"Yes," said Miss Ferris, soberly. "I should say it would be a great
deal."

The walk back through the green aisle of wood and thicket was almost as
silent as the walk out had been, but there was a new spring in Eleanor's
step and an expression of resolute relief on her face that had not been
there an hour before.

As they turned into the campus Eleanor broke silence. "Miss Ferris, if
the man should return the stone, do you think he ought to confess to
having stolen it?"

Miss Ferris looked up at the orchard on the hill where the girls were
dispersing with much talk and laughter, with gay good-byes and careless
snatches of song, and then back to the girl beside her. "No," she said at
last. "If we were all old in the ways of this world and wise and kind
enough, it might do, but not now, I think. I agree with the girls who
have been keeping your secret. I believe you can accomplish more for
others and for yourself, in the large sense, by stating no reason for
your action. I know we can trust you."

"Thank you," said Eleanor. Then all at once a strong revulsion of feeling
overcame her. "But I haven't promised to resign. I don't believe I can do
it. Think what it will mean to drop out of things--to be thought queerer
than ever--to--"

"Caught red-handed!" cried a mocking voice behind them, and three
stealthy figures bounded out from a tangle of shrubbery. Betty, Madeline
and Mary Brooks had come down the hill by the back path and, making a
detour to leave Rachel at the gate nearest her "little white house round
the corner," had discovered the truants and stolen upon them unaware.

"We're sorry you both had so much to do," said Betty, demurely.

"And that you don't appreciate May parties," added Mary.

"And haven't a proper feeling for hurdy-gurdies," finished Madeline.

"Ah, but you can't tell what deep philosophical problems we may have been
working out answers for down in Paradise," said Miss Ferris, playfully.

Betty slipped a soft arm around Eleanor's waist. "I'd rather go for a
walk with her than to any May party that was ever invented," she
whispered. "Isn't she just splendid?"

"Yes," agreed Eleanor, solemnly, "so splendid that I guess I can't live
up to her, Betty."

"Nonsense! That's the very reason why she is splendid--that she makes
people live up to her, whether they can or not."

And then, feeling that she was treading on delicate ground, Betty hastily
changed the subject.

"I wonder," she asked the green lizard that night, "I wonder if she could
have been telling Miss Ferris about it, and if they were talking it over
when we three big blunderers rushed up to them. Oh, dear!"

Then she added aloud to Helen, who was vigorously doing breathing
exercises before her mirror, "I guess I'll go and see Mary Brooks. I feel
like being amused."

Helen let her breath out with a convulsive gasp. "I saw her go out," she
said. "She went right after supper."

"Then," said Betty, decidedly, "you've got to stop breathing and amuse me
yourself."



CHAPTER XVIII

TRIUMPHS AND TROUBLES


"Aren't you going to have any breakfast, Betty?" Helen Chase Adams coming
up from her own hasty Monday morning repast, paused in the door to stare
at her roommate, who stood in a cleared space in the middle of the floor
with diaphanous clouds of beflowered dimity floating about her feet.

"Breakfast!" repeated Betty, mournfully. "It just struck eight, didn't
it? I don't know how I'm going to have any now unless I cut chapel and go
down town for it. On Mondays I have classes all the morning long, and I
haven't half studied anything either, because of that hateful May party."

"Then why did you begin on your dress?" inquired Helen with annoying
acuteness.

"Helen," said Betty, tragically, "I haven't a single muslin to my name,
since I tore my new one and the laundry tore my old one, and I thought if
I could only get this hung then I could be putting in the tucks at odd
minutes, when people come in, you know. I didn't think it would take a
minute and I've been half an hour just looking at it."

"Isn't it rather long?" asked Helen, with a critical glance at the filmy
pile on the floor.

"Why, that's the tucks," explained Betty, impatiently. "And the only
reason I had tucks instead of ruffles was because I thought they'd be
easier. Shouldn't you have thought tucks would be easier, Helen?"

"I shouldn't have known."

"Well, I guess they're both bad enough," agreed Betty, gloomily. "I was
foolish to try to make a dress, but I thought if Nita and the B's could,
I could. The waist wasn't any trouble, because Emily Davis helped me, but
it isn't much use without a skirt."

"Let me know if I can do anything," said Helen, politely, opening the
volume of Elizabethan lyrics which had succeeded "The Canterbury Tales"
as pabulum for the class in English Literature II.

Betty kicked at the enveloping cloud savagely. "If only it would stay
down somewhere, so I could tell where the bottom ought to be." She gave a
little cry of triumph,--"I have it!" and reaching over to her bookshelves
she began dropping books in an even circle around her feet. An instant
later there was a crash and the thud of falling books.

"There!" said Betty, resignedly. "That bookcase has come to pieces again.
It's as toppley on its legs as a ten-cent doll. Never mind, Helen. I can
reach them beautifully now and I will truly pick them all up afterward."
She dropped a Solid Geometry beside a "Greene's History of the English
People," and stooped gingerly down to move "Alice in Wonderland" a trifle
to one side, so that it should close the circle.

Then she looked doubtfully at Helen, who was again deep in her lyrics.

"Helen," she said at last, "would you mind awfully if I asked you to put
in some pins for me? If I stoop down to put them in myself, the books
move and I can't tell where the pins ought to go."

Helen had just put in the last pin with painful deliberation, and was
crawling around her necessarily immovable model to see that she had made
no mistakes, when the door opened with a flourish and Mary Brooks
appeared.

"What in the world!" she began, blinking near-sightedly at Betty in her
circle of books, at the ruins of the "toppley" bookcase lying in a
confused heap beside her, and at Helen, red and disheveled, readjusting
pins. Then she gave a shriek of delight and rushing upon Betty fastened
something to her shirt-waist.

"Get up!" she commanded Helen. "Hurry now, or you'll certainly be
killed."

In a twinkling the room was full of girls, shrieking, laughing, dancing,
tumbling over the books, sinking back on Betty's couch in convulsions of
mirth at the absurd spectacle she presented and getting up to charge into
the vortex of the mob and hug her frantically or shake her hand until it
ached. It was fully five minutes before Betty could extricate herself
from their midst, and with her trailing draperies limp and bedraggled
over one arm, make her way to Helen, who was standing by herself in a
corner, quietly enjoying the fun.

"Helen," she cried, catching the demure little figure in her arms,
"Helen, just think of it! I'm in Dramatic Club. Oh, Helen Chase Adams,
how did it ever happen?"

The room cleared out gradually after that, and the nicest part, Betty
thought, was having the people you liked best tell you in intelligible
English and comparative quiet how very glad they were.

"I never in all my life saw anybody look so funny as you did when we came
in," said Mary Brooks at last. "What were you doing, anyway?"

"Hanging a skirt," explained Betty, with great dignity.

"Was it going to have a court train all the way around?" inquired Mary.

"Tell her, Helen," commanded Betty.

"That was tucks, Mary," repeated Helen, obediently, and then everybody
laughed.

Under cover of the mirth Betty sought out Dorothy. "Where's Eleanor?" she
whispered.

"She went off for Sunday with Polly Eastman," Dorothy explained. "And
Betty, she's a trump after all. She--but I think perhaps she'd rather
tell you herself."

"Betty," broke in Nita Reese, "you must hurry and get dressed. You'll
have to appear at chapel, if you never get that skirt hung."

"Yes," said Betty, meekly.

"And I'll go and bribe the new maid, who hasn't learned the rules yet, to
send you up some breakfast," put in Madeline, the watchful.

Nita went off to make her bed and Dorothy to see Mary's prom. dress which
had just been sent on from home. Presently the new maid appeared with
toast and coffee and regrets that "the eggs was out, miss," and Betty sat
down at her desk to eat, while Helen, the Elizabethan lyrics quite
forgotten, rocked happily beside her.

"Helen," said Betty, a spoonful of hot coffee held aloft in one hand,
consternation hiding her dimples, "what in the world shall I do? I told
you I hadn't studied anything, and I can't flunk now."

"Oh, they won't call on you to-day," said Helen hopefully, counting the
Dramatic Club pins that made Betty's shirt-waist look like a small
section of a jeweler's window.

"Aren't they pretty?" said Betty, touching them lovingly. "I hope the
girls know which is which, because I don't. The one with the pearl gone
is Bob's, of course, and Dorothy's is marked on the back, and that's
Mary's, because she always pins it on wrong side up. One of the others is
Christy's, and one is that sweet Miss West's--she writes poetry, you
know, and is on the 'Argus.' Wasn't it lovely of her to pin it on me?"

"I should think anybody would be glad to have you wear their pin," said
Helen loyally, if ungrammatically.

"But to think the society wanted me!" said Betty in awe-struck tones.
"Helen, you know they never do take a person unless she amounts to
something, now do they? But what in the world do I amount to?"

"Does being an all-around girl count?" asked Helen. "Because the senior
that is such a friend of Eleanor Watson's said you were that, and that's
what you wanted to be, isn't it? But I think myself," she added shyly,
"that your one talent, that we used to talk about last year, you know, is
being nice to everybody."

The journey to chapel was a triumphal procession. The girls said such
pleasant things. Could they possibly be true, Betty wondered. Nan would
be pleased to know that she was somebody at last, even if she had missed
the team both years, and was always being mistaken for a freshman.
Sitting beside Dorothy, with the eight pins on her shirtwaist, and a
guilty consciousness that Miss Mills, who taught "Lit. II" was staring at
them from the faculty row, Betty resolved that she was going to be
different--to keep her room in order, not to do ridiculous things at
ridiculous times, and always to study Monday's lessons.

"I have tried harder lately," she thought, but it was reassuring outside
chapel to have Miss Mills stop to shake hands and Miss Hale say something
about being glad that Betty had turned out a thoroughly good student.

Mary Brooks said the same thing. "It's funny, Betty, how your innocent,
baby airs belie you. If we'd guessed what a splendid record you'd made
this year, we'd have taken you in even sooner."

Wherefore Betty was glad that she had looked up all the history
references and stayed at home from the Westcott House dance to write a
zoology report that Professor Lawrence himself had called excellent, and
done her best with the "Canterbury Tales."

"I have done better than I used to last year," she thought happily, "but
it wasn't for this, not one bit. It was because a person is ashamed not
to do her best up here."

"Will you take a few notes, please?" said Miss Mills in crisp,
businesslike tones, and Betty woke up to the fact that she had not
answered to her name in the roll.

"She saw you, though," whispered Christy, "and she was properly amused."

Miss Mills had finished her lecture and the class in "Lit. II" was making
its leisurely exit, when Jean Eastman caught up with Betty.

"Glad you've gone into the great and only," she said with a hearty hand-
shake. "And what do you think about the Lady Eleanor's latest escapade?"

"I don't know what you mean, Jean," said Betty quickly, remembering
Dorothy's hint, and wondering why Eleanor hadn't come to chapel, since
Polly was there, and she and Eleanor would surely have come back
together.

"Why, resigning from Dramatic Club, of course. Didn't she consult you
about it?"

"Jean, do you mean that Eleanor--has resigned--from Dramatic Club?"
Pleasure and bewilderment struggled for the mastery of Betty's face.

"Yes," said Jean carelessly. "Funny you hadn't heard of it, because it's
the talk of the whole college. She sent a note in Saturday night, it
seems, but nobody outside heard of it till this morning, and now we're
all speculating over the whys and wherefores. The Clio girls say that if
she did it because she thought she'd rather go into that, she will be
doomed to everlasting disappointment. For my part I don't think that was her
reason." Jean's tone hinted of deep mysteries.

"Of course not," said Betty indignantly. "Can't they see, Jean, that a
girl has got to have a big, splendid reason for doing a thing like that?"

"A big reason all right, but I don't know about the splendor," returned
Jean cheerfully, shouldering her way across the stream of girls in the
hall to join Beatrice Egerton.

To Jean's disappointment Beatrice had nothing to say about the
resignation, except that it was Eleanor's own affair and that all the
talk about it was utter nonsense. Then Jean, warming to her work,
ventured a direct attack.

"But Miss Egerton, wasn't there something queer about that story of
Eleanor's--the one that got her in? You were going to tell me once, but
you never did."

"I was going to tell you once, but I never did?" repeated Beatrice with
an extreme affability which those who knew her better than Jean would
have recognized as dangerous. "Go and ask Eleanor Watson that question if
you care to, Miss Eastman. I admire her far too much to wish to discuss
her private affairs with you. Thank you, I should like to go to your
house-play, but I have another engagement. The night isn't set? But
really, I'm so busy just now I can't promise, you know."

Beatrice Egerton had not spent four years at Harding College for nothing.
She was incapable of heroism herself, but she could appreciate certain
types of it in others, and she was bitterly ashamed of the part she had
played in Eleanor's affairs.

"Miss Wales," she said an hour later, when her path from class to class
crossed with Betty's, "where is Eleanor? I can't wait another minute to
see her."

Betty explained that Eleanor had not appeared at chapel or morning
classes.

"Then I suppose," said Beatrice impulsively, "that I am one of the people
she's trying to avoid. Go and see her the first chance you have, Miss
Wales, and tell her that I admire her grit--and that I'm too much ashamed
of myself to come and say so. Now don't forget. Did you ever see such
duds as the pickle heiress wears? Perfect rags!"

The mocking, insolent Beatrice was back again, the more debonnaire for
the effort that her confession had cost.

Betty meditated cutting her eleven o'clock class, decided that with those
eight pins on it would never do, and tried not to be glad that a severe
headache prevented Mademoiselle from meeting her French division at
twelve. She walked down to the Hilton House with a chattering little
freshman, one of Polly Eastman's chums and a devoted admirer of
Eleanor's.

"It's too bad that Eleanor Watson felt she ought to give up Dramatic
Club, isn't it?" said the girl. "Some of the girls think it was an
awfully queer thing to do, but I think it's fine to put your work first
when you don't feel strong enough to do everything."

"Yes, indeed," agreed Betty cordially, glad to be able to meet her on her
own ground.

"Polly is afraid," volunteered the little freshman, "that Eleanor is
going to break down. She's had to drop themes, too, you know. Polly said
they almost missed their train Saturday night because Eleanor would wait
to write to Miss Raymond about it, when anybody could see that Monday
would have done just as well. And she was so tired that she cried while
she was writing the note."

Betty shook off her loquacious companion by stopping on the second floor
to see a girl who was sure to be out, and went on up the back stairway to
Eleanor's corner.

There was no answer to her knock, and after a second trial she
deliberately opened the door and went in. Eleanor lay in a forlorn
disheveled little heap on her couch. Her cheeks were flushed with crying,
her eyes rimmed with dark circles that made them look bigger and brighter
than ever.

"Oh, I thought the door was locked," she cried, when Betty appeared.

"But luckily for me it wasn't." Betty took her up brightly, dropping
sociably down to the couch beside her. "You dear old Eleanor," she went
on quickly, "I've come to tell you that Dorothy thinks you're a trump and
Beatrice Egerton thinks you're a brick and I'm so proud of you I don't
know what to do. There now!"

"Oh, Betty, you can't be, after everything." Eleanor shook off the
clinging arms and sat up among the pillows. "Listen," she commanded. "It
isn't fair for me to take anything from you after what I've thought. I
had a letter from Mr. Blake this morning. He has been very nice to me
about the story, Betty. And he said he felt that he ought to tell me what
good friends I had here. So now I know all about it, but oh, Betty! I'd
thought such horrid things--"

"Never mind that now," said Betty. "Please don't tell me. It would only
hurt both of us, and it wouldn't be any use that I can see."

[Illustration: "NEVER MIND THAT NOW," SAID BETTY]

"I'm a coward, too," Eleanor went on steadily. "I was afraid to see
Beatrice, and now I'm afraid to see Jean and all the rest of them. Oh,
Betty, I can't bear to have people think I'm a freak. If I could take
those two notes back I would this minute. I hate giving things up. There,
now you know just how mean I am."

"No," said Betty, gently, "I only know how tired you are and how much you
needed some one to come in and tell you that we are all ready to stand by
you."

Eleanor waited a minute before she answered. "Betty," she said at last,
an uncertain little smile fluttering about her mouth, "shall you be glad
when you've got me through college?" Then she straightened with sudden
energy. "This is your day, Betty,"--she pointed to the pins,--"and I
won't spoil another minute of it. Of course there isn't any use in hiding
up here. I promise to go down to lunch and to take what's coming to me,
and do the best I can. Now run and let the rest of the college
congratulate you."

"And if the Chapin house girls should have a spread to-night over at
Rachel's--" began Betty, doubtfully.

"I'll come. I'll even be the life of the party. Only you're not to worry
about me one instant longer."

Eleanor kept her word to the letter for the rest of the day, but the
weeks that followed were necessarily full of ups and downs, of petty
humiliations and bitter discouragements, and Betty uncomplainingly shared
them all. The editors did what little they could, and Madeline and Miss
Ferris and Katherine and Rachel helped without understanding anything
except that Betty wanted them to; but the brunt of it all fell on her.

"I can't bother Miss Ferris with my blues," said Eleanor one afternoon,
"and I know I oughtn't to bother you with them."

"Nonsense!" laughed Betty. "I like being bothered," and did not mention
that she had given up the golf tournament because the practice would have
interfered with her position as Eleanor's confidante.

There were nice things to share too. Miss Raymond wrote a prompt and
cordial answer to Eleanor's note about the theme course. "After your
action of last week, I see no reason why you should not continue in my
classes on the old, pleasant footing. Please don't deprive me of the
privilege of seeing your work."

There was a note from the Dramatic Club too. Dorothy had managed to get
herself and Beatrice and Frances made a special committee to consider the
resignation--the first in the annals of the society,--and they decided to
accept it for one year from its date. After that, they said, they saw no
reason "to deprive the society of a valued member."

Betty was delighted, but Eleanor shook her head. "I may not have earned
it even then," she said gloomily.

"Leave it to Miss Ferris," suggested Betty. "She'll be a perfectly fair
judge. If she says you can take it then, you will know it's all right."

And to this arrangement, after some hesitation, Eleanor consented.

A week or two later Bob came to Eleanor, in a sad state of embarrassment.
"It's about the basket-ball song, Eleanor. The committee never saw it.
Babe was chairman, you know, and she put her shoulder out of joint
playing hockey the day the songs were called in, so I emptied the box for
her. I remember I stopped in my room on the way back and I must have
dropped yours there. Anyhow it turned up to-day in my top drawer. I'm
awfully sorry."

Eleanor took the song and read through a stanza or two, while Bob
wriggled, blushed and waited for the storm to burst. She had heard a good
deal about Eleanor Watson's uncertain temper.

But at first Eleanor only laughed. "Goodness! What jiggly meter! It's
lucky you lost it, Bob."

"No," said Bob, sturdily. "It was a dandy song, one of the best that came
in. Babe said so too. I am really awfully sorry. I'm too careless to
live."

"Well, you were lucky not to have found it a month ago," said Eleanor,
with a sudden flash of anger, and Bob departed, wondering.

"Little things do make a big difference," said Betty, when she heard the
story. "If they'd chosen it and everybody had said how clever it was--"

"I should have felt that I'd squared my account--proved that I could do
what I hadn't done, and I should never have owned up to anybody."

"Then you really ought to have been nicer to Bob," laughed Betty,
"because she helped you to come to the point."

"Yes, that helped," Eleanor admitted, soberly, "just as Dora helped and
Beatrice in her way and Jim in his; but you were the one who meant to
help, Betty. You got me the chance to begin over, and you made up my mind
for me about taking it, and you've kept me to it ever since."

"But El--"

"Now let's not argue about it," laughed Eleanor. "I only wanted to say
that I'm going to try to be nice to you to the extent of 'staying put'
this time. I don't mean that you shall have to waste your junior year
over me."



CHAPTER XIX

GOOD-BYES


"Oh, Betty Wales, what's your hurry?"

Betty, who had strolled up Main Street with Emily Davis and now was
walking back alone, turned to see Eleanor and Dora Carlson coming down
the steps of the house behind her.

"We're hunting rooms," explained Eleanor, gaily, "the most systematic
hunt you ever heard of. We went to every possible house on the other side
on the way up, and then we came back on this side, doing the same thing.
So if you want any pointers--"

"But you're not going off the campus, Eleanor," asked Betty anxiously.

"Oh, no, it's a room for me," interposed Dora, with an adoring glance at
Eleanor. "I've always longed to live up among the elm-trees of Main
Street, but I knew its glories were not for me until--"

"Dora," warned Eleanor, laughingly, "I told you not to mention elm-trees
again this afternoon." She turned to Betty. "They all come down to two
possibilities. Which should you prefer, a big room with a microscopic
closet or a microscopic room with an enormous closet?"

"Oh, the one with the big closet," said Betty, decidedly. "I've tried the
other, you know."

"And unknown horrors are always preferable to familiar ones," laughed
Eleanor.

Dora left them at the next corner and as soon as she was out of hearing
Betty turned upon Eleanor. "Well," she said, "I've caught you in the act,
and I think it's perfectly lovely of you. College will be a different
place to her if she can live up here somewhere near things."

"It will be nicer for her, I think," said Eleanor, simply. "But Betty,
I'm not doing much,--just making her a little present of the difference
between Mrs. Bryant's prices and the very cheapest ones up here. I can do
as much as that, I hope, after spoiling her sugaring-off party; and I
really don't need that extra-priced room again."

"You mean," said Betty, in amazement, "that you're going to give up your
corner-room with the three windows and the lovely burlap hangings?"

Eleanor nodded. "It wouldn't be much of a present from me if I just asked
father for the money."

"Eleanor," said Betty, solemnly, "I don't believe I could do it."

"But it's really all your doing, Betty. If it hadn't been for you, I
shouldn't have known Dora Carlson, and I shouldn't be here now. Besides,
you set the example with Helen. So if you don't like it, there's only
yourself to thank, you see," ended Eleanor, playfully.

"No, I don't see,--not one bit," declared Betty. "You'll be telling me
that I'm responsible for the way you recite next."

"Well, you are, partly," laughed Eleanor, turning off to the Hilton.

Betty went up-stairs behind two strange girls who were evidently
expecting to be in the Belden House next year.

"Of course the fourth floor is a long way up," one was saying, "and I
suppose it's hot sometimes. But if I can get a single room there, I'd
rather have it, wouldn't you?"

"Well, perhaps," answered the other doubtfully.

"No perhapses about it, my friend," thought Betty, turning off to her own
quarters. Rooms and roommates--the air was full of them! And to-morrow
was the day that the Belden House matron had appointed for settling all
such matters. Betty could have a single room, if she wanted it, on the
other side of Madeline Ayres, and she had almost made up her mind to take
it. To be sure, it did seem a little hard on Helen. Nobody in the house
had approached her on the subject of roommates, Betty felt sure of that;
she would have to be "assigned" with some outsider. Well, why not? If she
didn't take the trouble to make friends, of course she would have to
suffer the consequences. And yet--if Eleanor had really been influenced
by what she had tried to do for Helen, wouldn't it be mean to back out
now? "But Eleanor has decided already," thought Betty, "and there's no
reason why I should keep on bothering with Helen forever. I don't believe
she's one bit happier for it."

Helen looked up expectantly when Betty came in. After all she was a sweet
little thing; her face lighted up wonderfully at times.

"What's the news, Helen?" Betty asked. "You look as if something extra
nice had happened."

"Why no," answered Helen, "unless you count that I've learned my Latin
for tomorrow."

The answer was just like her, Betty reflected with a sigh. She might
improve a great deal, but she would be a "dig" to the end of the chapter.
As she dressed, Betty tried to lead up gradually to the subject of rooms
by telling about the two strange girls she had met in the hall. But it
was no use; Helen preserved the same gentle, obtuse silence that had kept
Betty from opening the subject before. Little by little her courage oozed
out, and with the ringing of the supper-bell she surrendered.

"I can't do it," she told the green lizard savagely. "She thinks we're
settled here forever and I can't bear to disappoint her. It's not
generosity though; it's just hating to make a fuss."

At supper all the girls were talking about rooms. "I'm first on the
waiting list for singles," Nita Reese announced, "but I might as well be
first on the waiting list for a trip to the moon, I suppose. Nobody ever
gives up a chance at a single."

Betty opened her mouth to tell Nita the sad truth, saw Helen looking at
her queerly, and shut it again. It would be time enough for Nita to hear
of her good fortune to-morrow.

After supper Helen hurried back to her work and Betty joined a merry
party on the piazza, went for a moonlight stroll on the campus, helped
serenade Dorothy King, and finally, just as the ten o'clock bell was
pealing warningly through the halls, rushed in upon Helen in a state of
breathless excitement.

"Helen," she cried, "T. Reed's coming into the Belden and you never told
me."

"I didn't know till this afternoon."

"Then that was the piece of news I saw in your face. Why didn't you tell
it?"

"Why, I don't know--"

"Helen," cried Betty, with a sudden inspiration, "you and T. Reed want to
room together."

"Oh, Betty, Theresa couldn't have gone and said so!" Helen looked the
picture of distress.

"Nobody went and said so till you did just now," laughed Betty. "Oh,
Helen, why didn't you tell me?"

"Why didn't you tell me that you'd rather room alone?"

Then they both laughed and, sitting close together on Helen's bed in the
dark, talked it all over.

"You've been just lovely," Helen said. "You've given me all the good
times I've had--except Theresa. But you couldn't make it any different
from what it is. I never shall know how to get along the way other girls
do, and Theresa is a good deal the same way, except that she can play
basket-ball. So I guess we belong together."

"You needn't think you'll be rid of me," said Betty. "I shall be just two
doors away, and I shall come in and bother you when you want to work and
take you walking and ask you to hook up my dresses, just as I do now.
Helen, how fast things are getting settled."

"They'd better be," said Helen. "There's only two weeks left of our
sophomore year."

For a long time Betty lay awake, staring at the patch of moonlight on the
floor beside her bed. "How mean I should have felt, if I'd told her when
she wouldn't tell me," she thought. "I wonder if it's all right now. I
wonder if next year is going to be as perfect as it seems. I wonder--"
Betty Wales was asleep. Five minutes later she woke from a cat-nap that
had turned her last thoughts into a very realistic dreamland. "No," she
decided, "it won't be quite perfect. Dorothy will be gone."

Those are the good-byes that count--the ones you must say to the seniors.
Dorothy would come back to visit the college, of course, and to attend
class reunions, but that would not be the same thing as living next door
to her all through the year. Betty was not going to stay to Commencement.
Sophomores were only in everybody's way then, she thought, and she
preferred to say good-bye to Dorothy before the onslaught of families,
alumnae and friends should have upset the regular routine of life and
made the seniors seem already lost to the college world. Packing was
worse than ever this year, and examinations could not have been more
inconveniently arranged, but in spite of everything Betty slipped off on
her last evening for a few minutes with Dorothy.

The Belden House was a pandemonium, the piazzas deserted, the hot rooms
ablaze with lights, the halls noisy with the banging of trunk-lids and
the cries of distracted damsels; but the Hilton, either because it had
more upper-class girls who were staying to Commencement, or because its
freshmen and sophomores were of a serener temperament, showed few signs
of "last days." The piazza was full, as it always was on warm nights, and
a soft little crooning song was wafted across the lawn to Betty's ears.
Dorothy was singing. Her voice was not highly cultivated, but it was the
kind of voice that has a soul in it--which is better than much training.
As Betty stole softly up to the piazza, so as not to interrupt the song,
and found a place on the railing, she remembered her first evening in
Harding. How forlorn and frightened she had been, and how lovely Dorothy
was to her. Well, she had been just as lovely ever since.

Dorothy's song stopped suddenly. "Girls, I can't sing to-night," she
said. "It's--so--warm. And besides, Betty Wales has come to see me on a
very particular errand, haven't you, Betty, dear?"

Up in Dorothy's room, in the dusk, nobody said much of anything. There is
never much left to say at the last. But Dorothy had a way of putting
things and of looking at things that was like nobody's else, Betty
thought; and when she said, "I know I can trust you to work for the
democratic, helpful spirit and to keep down cliques and snobbishness and
see that everybody has a fair chance and a good time," Betty felt more
pleased than she had about her election to Dramatic Club. She had been
Dorothy's lieutenant. Now she must be Dorothy's successor, and it was a
great honor and a greater responsibility--but first she must pack her
trunks.

On the way home she overtook Roberta. "I'm in the Belden, Betty," she
announced, breathlessly, "and there are a lot of things I want to ask you
and Mary about, but I can't stay long, because those dear little freshmen
are going to give me a good-bye spread."

"Those snippy freshmen?" laughed Betty.

"Oh, but they came around after the Jabberwock party, just as you said
they would. It was an impromptu party, Betty. I did it the night Sara
Westervelt was there, and somebody stole the ice cream. That's why you
weren't invited."

Up-stairs the rest of the "old guard" were sitting on boxes, trunks and
the floor, waiting to say good-bye to Betty and meanwhile being
entertained by Madeline Ayres, who was giving a lively account of her
experience with a washwoman.

"She said, 'It's twinty white skirruts Oi have to do up now, me dear,'
and I said, 'But I can't go without a skirt, Mrs. Mulvaney, and everybody
who doesn't wear white to chapel will be expelled, and then where will
your goose that lays the golden eggs be?' 'Shure, I kape no geese, me
dear,' said she, and--oh, here's Betty."

"Finish up," demanded Katherine.

"Oh, there isn't any more," said Madeline, "except that she's just sent
the skirt home, and it isn't mine, but it fits rather well, doesn't it,
and I can't possibly return it before chapel, now can I?"

"Is that the way they do in Bohemia?" said Mary, severely. "Betty, I've
got to have half your bed to-night. An alum, who came on from San
Francisco got mixed in her dates and appeared a day too early. And as she
is a particular pal of the matron and I am notoriously good-natured,
she's got my room."

"To think of it," said Katherine, impressively, "and you a senior next
week."

"And we juniors next week!" said Rachel. "It doesn't seem possible, does
it? Here's to hoping we shall all be back next year."

"What a forlorn toast!" said Katherine, who knew better than the rest how
hard it was for Rachel to make both ends meet. "Here's to hoping that we
all go on as splendidly as we've begun!"

"You have done tolerably well so far, children," said Mary, beaming
around the group.

"See the society pins bristle in our midst!" said Katherine, with
melodramatic gestures in the direction of Mary, Betty, and of Rachel, who
wore the Clio Club insignia proudly.

"And we've got the college beauty," added Betty quickly.

"And the Jabberwock," put in Eleanor.

"Please don't forget the basket-ball stars," suggested Katherine, with
becoming modesty.

"Nor the basket-ball song," added Rachel, smiling at Helen.

"So many honors," laughed Betty. "Do you suppose we've left anything for
next year?"

"The song of the classes talks about 'jolly juniors,'" said Rachel. "That
sounds as if there would be plenty of fun in it."

"There is; junior year is the nicest one in college," declared Mary.

"It can't be," objected Katherine, "because each year has been as nice as
it possibly could."

"Unless you were foolish enough to spoil it," whispered Eleanor in
Betty's ear.

Roberta suddenly remembered her waiting freshmen, Mary offered to escort
her to Mrs. Chapin's, and the other three declared they must go home to
their packing. Betty and the girl from Bohemia went to the head of the
stairs to see them off. It was not exactly good-bye, because there were
chances of meeting at chapel and the station, but it was near enough to
it to be a little sad.

"Oh, dear, I hate endings," said Betty, waving her hand to Eleanor.

"Do you?" said the girl from Bohemia. "You'd get used to them if you
lived my scrappy, now-here-and-now-there kind of life. You'd find out
that one thing has to end before another can begin, and that each new one
is too good to miss."

"Um--perhaps," said Betty, doubtfully. "Any how we've got to take the
chance. So here's to junior year!"

THE END





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