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Title: When Gretel Was Fifteen
Author: Rhoades, Nina
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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      *      *      *      *      *      *

CURIOUSLY.--_Page 20._]




Illustrated by Elizabeth Withington


Lothrop, Lee & Shepard Co.

Published, August, 1921

Copyright, 1921,
By Lothrop, Lee & Shepard Co.

All rights reserved

When Gretel Was Fifteen

Norwood Press
Berwick & Smith Co.
Norwood, Mass.
U. S. A.


  CHAPTER                              PAGE


    II. EASTER IN WAR TIME               32

   III. BREAKING-UP DAY                  49


     V. OFF FOR NEW LONDON               92

    VI. AT THE CHESTERS’                111



    IX. THE DANCE ON THE FOURTH         177

     X. THE SUMMONS                     197


   XII. LOST                            234

  XIII. SUSPENSE                        260

   XIV. FOUND                           286

    XV. SAFE AT HOME                    309


  More than one pair of eyes looked
    after her curiously                _Frontispiece_

                                          FACING PAGE

  Gretel could not help noticing that the
    young man was regarding her in a
    rather peculiar manner                        144

  Gretel put out a detaining hand                 168

  If he recognized her, he made not the
    slightest sign                                192

  “I believe you are to be trusted in so far
    as that”                                      224

  Of course the two girls had a great deal
    to say to each other                          314

When Gretel Was Fifteen



“War has been declared.”

Miss Minton’s hand trembled slightly, as she laid down the evening
paper, but otherwise she showed no sign of unusual emotion. There was
a moment of dead silence, and every face grew suddenly grave. They all
knew what it meant, those twelve pupils, and five teachers, seated at
Miss Minton’s long supper table. For nearly three years this terrible
thing called war had been devastating Europe, bringing pain and misery
to millions of once happy homes. And now their own country was to cast
in her lot with the Allies, in the great fight for humanity. It was
the first time in the twenty years and more, during which Miss Minton
had been the mistress of her small school for girls, that that lady
had ever been known to look at a newspaper at meal time, but to-night
she had left instructions that the paper should be brought to her the
moment it arrived. For weeks every one had been expecting the war cloud
to burst, and yet now that it had happened, they were all conscious of
a certain shock. Amy Bowring began to cry.

“My brother will have to go,” she sobbed; “he was at Plattsburg all
last summer. Oh, it’s dreadful. I don’t see why the President didn’t
prevent it.”

Ada Godfrey’s black eyes flashed indignantly. Her uncle had gone down
on the _Lusitania_.

“I’m glad he didn’t prevent it,” she said. “We ought to have gone in
two years ago. It’s time those Germans learned they don’t own the whole

“Ada,” said Miss Minton, reprovingly, and she glanced down the long
table to where little Fräulein Sieling, the German teacher, sat
next to Gretel Schiller. Ada bit her lip, and she, too, glanced at
the only two people among them all to whom Germany meant more than
a name. Fräulein had grown very pale, and there was a frightened
look in her blue eyes, but she was buttering a muffin with apparent
calmness. Gretel Schiller had flushed, and her lips were quivering.
Gretel’s father had been a famous German pianist, and although he had
died several years before, and Gretel was living with an American
half-brother and his wife, and was in every way quite as much an
American herself as any of them, they all knew that she worshipped her
father’s memory.

“You remember the Civil War, don’t you, Miss Minton?” Grace Moss asked,
by way of steering the conversation into smoother waters. Grace was
one of the oldest pupils in the school, and felt privileged to ask

“Yes,” answered Miss Minton, with a sigh. “I was only a child, but I
remember many things about that time. My eldest brother was killed at
Gettysburg. Amy, if you can’t control yourself, you will have to leave
the table.”

Miss Minton was always stern, but her tone was kinder than her words,
and Amy made an effort to check her sobs, and go on with her supper.

“Do you remember the Civil War, too, Miss Laura?” Geraldine Barlow
inquired of Miss Laura, Miss Minton’s younger sister, who sat at the
other end of the table.

“No, dear, I was too young. My sister is ten years older than I. I
think she is the only person here who has any memory of what real war
is like. Of course there was the little war with Spain, twenty years
ago, but that was so quickly over.”

“Perhaps this war will be over quickly, too, now that America has gone
in,” said Angel Thayer, who always looked on the bright side of things.
“I don’t believe the Germans can hold out much longer. Perhaps they
will give in, and ask for peace before our boys get over.”

“Not much hope of that,” said Margaret May. “My father writes that
Germany is terribly strong still. He ought to know something about
it, for he has been working in the French hospitals for over a year.”
Margaret spoke confidently. She was very proud of that father of hers,
the poor country doctor, who had left his practice at home, and gone to
tend the wounded boys in France.

At that moment Fräulein pushed back her chair from the table. “May I be
pardoned if I go to my room?” she asked in her slow, careful English,
and she cast an appealing glance at Miss Minton. “I have a very bad

“Certainly,” said Miss Minton, kindly, and as the little German teacher
hurriedly left the room, she added in a reproachful tone to Ada:

“I am afraid you have hurt Fräulein’s feelings, Ada. It is not her
fault that her country is at war with us.”

Gretel’s grave face brightened, and she gave Miss Minton a grateful

“Fräulein is very unhappy,” she said, impulsively. “This dreadful war
has almost broken her heart.”

“A pity it did not break it altogether,” muttered Madame, the French
teacher, but she did not speak loud enough to be heard by either of the
Mintons, for quarrels between different nationalities were strictly
forbidden in the school.

Gretel saw Madame’s expression, even though she did not hear her
words, and a shadow crept into her brown eyes. She was very fond of
Fräulein, who, for more than a year now, had been the only person to
whom she could talk freely of her father’s memory, and of her happy
childhood, which had been spent in the big, shabby studio, among his
German friends. Indeed, Fräulein was the only German she knew, for
since she had gone to live with her American relatives, she had quite
lost trace of all her father’s friends. Her brother and his wife were
very good to her, and she loved them dearly, but those old memories
were very tender ones, and so when, a year and a half ago, she had come
to Miss Minton’s, a rather shy, quiet little girl of thirteen, it was
not strange that her heart should have gone out to the sentimental
little German teacher, who talked to her in her father’s language, and
seemed to understand her as few people had done. Those were the early
days of the war, when many Americans still tried to be neutral, and
Gretel’s family had made no objections, when, in the holidays, she had
asked to invite Fräulein to their home. She had even gone to tea with
Fräulein, at her aunt’s apartment. But as the months passed, things
changed; feeling against Germany grew stronger, and on her last visit
Gretel had heard remarks made by Fräulein’s aunt, that had brought the
hot, indignant blood into her cheeks. Still, she had remained faithful
in her affection for her friend, arguing that, after all, if people
were Germans it was natural they should refuse to believe evil of their
country. She tried to picture herself in Fräulein’s place, a stranger
in a strange land, and she felt sure that whatever people had said
against America, she should still have loved her country, and been
loyal to her.

And now America was actually at war with Germany, and things would
necessarily grow more difficult. Gretel’s face was very grave and
troubled when, some fifteen minutes later, they all rose from the
supper table, and filed out of the dining-room. Her first thought was
to go to Fräulein, and try to comfort her. It was Good Friday, and
there would be no more lessons till the following Tuesday. The girls
had the evening to themselves, and could do what they chose till

As soon as they had left the dining-room Amy began to cry again, and
Angel Thayer, too, who was her room-mate, and best friend, slipped an
arm about her tenderly.

“Don’t cry, Amy,” she soothed. “Perhaps the war will be over before
your brother gets there. Miss Minton says most of the boys will have to
be trained in this country before they are sent overseas.”

“I only wish I had a brother to go,” proclaimed Ada Godfrey. “I would
be proud to give him to my country.”

“You wouldn’t if he were the only brother you had in the world,”
objected Amy, with a sob. “It’s all very well to talk when you haven’t
any brothers, and your father’s dead. There isn’t a soul in your family
to go.”

“It wouldn’t make any difference if I had only one man relative in the
world,” declared Ada, heroically. “I should be proud to send him to
the war, even if I knew positively he would be killed the next month.
We ought to glory in making sacrifices. Think what the English and
French have done. My aunt, who is doing war work in England, says there
is scarcely a family that hasn’t lost at least one member. Oh, I wish
those horrid Germans were all----” Ada checked herself abruptly, for
Miss Minton was still within hearing distance.

Every face grew grave. This idea of sacrifice for their country was a
new one to most of them. So far, Margaret May was the only girl at Miss
Minton’s to whom war had meant anything more than a name. But now----
Even Angel’s bright smile faded, as she suddenly remembered that her
father, whom she adored, was still a young man. Was it possible that
fathers as well as brothers might be called upon to join the colors?

“I can’t help being glad my brothers are little boys,” said Molly
Chester, with a catch in her voice. “Father’s nearly fifty, so of
course he’s too old. I’m afraid I’m selfish, but it is a great comfort.”

“Both my brothers will go,” said Olive Gerard, quietly. “I am glad to
have them, but of course it’s going to be hard for Mother and me.”
Olive was seventeen; a tall girl, with a sweet face, and gentle gray
eyes. She was a great favorite with the younger pupils, who all looked
up to her and admired her very much, and instinctively both Amy and
Angel drew a little closer to her, and Amy slipped a trembling hand
into hers.

“I wish I could be brave,” she whispered, “but I know I am an awful
coward. Jack always told me I was a coward, because I was afraid of
snakes, and mice, and horrid creeping things, but, oh, it’s so terrible
to think of having people we love go away to be killed or wounded! I’m
afraid I can never be brave enough to bear it as I ought.”

“Oh, yes, you will,” said Olive, smiling; “we shall all learn to be
brave. Think of how brave the English and French women have been. An
English friend of my mother’s wrote that all her three boys were at the
front, and that, hard as it was to part from them, there was one thing
that would have been much harder, and that would have been if they
hadn’t wanted to go.”

“Oh, Jack wants to go,” cried Amy, with shining eyes. “He’s been
wanting to for more than a year.” And, suddenly she was conscious of
a sensation of pride in her big, handsome brother, that, with all her
love for him, she had never felt before.

“Where are you going, Gretel?” Geraldine Barlow inquired, as they all
moved off in the direction of the big gymnasium.

“To Fräulein’s room,” Gretel answered. “I think I’ll see if there is
anything I can do for her. She said she had a headache.”

Geraldine looked troubled. She was a year younger than Gretel, whom she
liked very much, but she had never been quite able to understand her
friend’s intimacy with the German teacher.

“Don’t you think perhaps she might prefer being by herself?” she

Gretel shook her head.

“I think she would like to see me,” she said, and turned resolutely in
the direction of the staircase. More than one pair of eyes looked after
her curiously.

“What can she see in that German woman to like so much?” said Kitty
Sharp. “I can’t bear Fräulein myself, she’s so silly and sentimental,
and did you see how she looked when Miss Minton told us war had been
declared? I suppose she’s scared to death now we’ve gone into the war.”

“Gretel likes her because she’s half German herself,” said Ada,
scornfully. “If I were in Gretel’s place I should change my name. I
wouldn’t be called Schiller, it’s so horribly German.”

“Better not let her hear you suggest such a thing,” laughed Molly.
“She’s terribly proud of her father. He really was a great musician,
you know.”

“Well, suppose he was,” scoffed Ada. “Nobody cares about German music
now. If I were in Gretel’s place, I would never mention my father’s
name. Her brother’s name is Douaine. I’m sure she could take it if she
wanted to. If I had a German name I’d change it as quick----” Ada’s
eyes snapped, and her lips tightened.

Meantime Gretel had mounted the stairs, and made her way along the wide
corridor to Fräulein’s room. The door was closed, and she received
no response to her first gentle tap, but after waiting a moment, she
turned the handle, and went in. The room was in darkness, but the light
from the hall dimly revealed a motionless form lying on the bed, and at
the opening of the door, the figure suddenly lifted its head.

“Who is it?” inquired Fräulein, in a choked voice.

“Only I,” said Gretel, and having closed the door, she made her way in
the darkness to the bed. “I came to see if I could do anything for you.
Oh, Fräulein dear, I’m so sorry! I know how unhappy you are.”

Fräulein buried her face in the pillow, with a sob.

“Oh, Liebchen,” she moaned, “it is frightful. My poor, dear country!”

Gretel gave a start, and the color rushed up into her face.

“I--I wasn’t thinking about your country,” she stammered; “I was only
sorry because you are so unhappy.”

“But it is of my poor country that I am thinking,” sighed the German
woman. “My dear ones have suffered so cruelly. My two uncles were
killed the first year, and the cousin to whom I was affianced is a
prisoner in Russia.”

“But the other countries have suffered just as much,” said Gretel,
“and, after all, it was Germany that started the war.”

Fräulein sat up suddenly.

“You say that because you will only listen to one side,” she cried, and
her voice shook with sudden anger. “You, who are a German yourself,
should have a broad mind.”

Gretel’s cheeks grew hotter, and even her heart began to beat rather

“I am not narrow-minded,” she said, indignantly, “and--and, I think you
forget, Fräulein, that I am an American. My mother was an American, and
I was born in New York.”

Fräulein began to cry again.

“You need not fly at me,” she sobbed. “Your father was a German.”

“I know he was,” said Gretel, unsteadily, “and he was one of the best
men who ever lived. If he were alive now, I know he would not approve
of the dreadful things the Germans have done. He was always kind and
good to everybody.”

“So was my cousin Rudolph,” murmured Fräulein, “but when war comes what
can one do? One must obey one’s superiors.”

“I wouldn’t!” cried Gretel, hotly. “I would rather be shot a hundred
times over than do some of the things the Germans have done in France
and Belgium.”

Fräulein threw herself back on the bed, and turned her face to the wall.

“You had better go away,” she said, crossly; “you are not sympathetic
to-night, and my head is bad.”

Gretel moved a few steps nearer to the door.

“Good-night,” she said. “I’m sorry you won’t let me do anything for
you. I didn’t mean to be unsympathetic. I don’t want to hurt your
feelings, or say unkind things about your country, but----”

“It is your country as well as mine,” interrupted the German woman. “I
well remember the time when you were proud to be the daughter of the
famous Hermann Schiller.”

The tears started to Gretel’s eyes.

“I am proud of my father now,” she said, “just as proud as I ever was
in my life, but it is because he was a good man, and a great musician,
not because he was a German.”

Fräulein did not answer, and, having reached the door, Gretel opened
it, and went out. In the hall she met Geraldine.

“Oh, here you are,” said the younger girl, in a tone of evident
satisfaction. “I was going to Fräulein’s room to look for you. Miss
Minton sent me for you. She wants you to play.”

Gretel’s face brightened. Her music was one of the greatest pleasures
of her life, and to be asked to play to Miss Minton was a great
compliment. Five minutes later she was at the piano in the Mintons’
private parlor, touching the keys with loving fingers, while Miss
Minton and her sister knitted socks for the soldiers.

And as she played, all the trouble died out of Gretel’s brown eyes, and
was replaced by the sweet, dreamy expression, which always came with
the music she loved. For the moment, war, discussions with Fräulein,
everything was forgotten, but the grand old masterpiece she was
playing, and which her father had loved. She played uninterruptedly
for nearly an hour, and when she rose at last, in a panic of fear,
lest she had tired her audience, Miss Minton’s “Thank you, my dear,”
was so hearty, that the girl’s heart swelled with pride, for her
schoolmistress seldom paid compliments. Miss Laura said nothing, but as
Gretel left the room, she heard the younger sister remark in a voice
that was not quite steady:

“I suppose I am very foolish, but music like that always makes me cry.
What a gift that child has.”

Gretel smiled. She knew that she possessed a great gift, but the
knowledge had never made her conceited.

“It is Father’s legacy to me,” she often told herself, “the only legacy
he had to leave; poor, kind Father.” And she resolved to do all in her
power to perfect herself in this one talent of hers.

The girls were all in the gymnasium, playing games. Gretel heard their
voices, but somehow she did not feel like joining them that evening.
So, after lingering a moment in the hall, she went up-stairs to the
room she shared with Geraldine. She switched on the electric light,
and, going to the bureau, stood for a long time gazing at the framed
photograph of her father. It was the photograph of the proverbial
German musician, deep-set eyes, and protruding brows, but the eyes were
very kind and gentle, and as she looked at the familiar face, Gretel’s
own eyes suddenly filled with tears.

“Dear Father,” she murmured, bending to kiss the picture; “I think I
am almost glad you are in heaven. It would have made you so unhappy to
know of the terrible things your people have done. But the rest are
not like you; oh, they are not like you!” Gretel’s head drooped, and
putting up both hands to her burning face, she burst into tears.

She was already in bed when Geraldine came up half an hour later, full
of the fun they had been having in the gym. When one is only fourteen,
even the news that one’s country has gone to war cannot altogether
crush the desire for fun.

“The girls all wondered where you were,” she said a little
reproachfully, as she sat down on the edge of Gretel’s bed to unbutton
her boots. “I told them you were playing for the Mintons, but I thought
perhaps you would come in later.”

“I didn’t feel like romping to-night,” said Gretel, “so I thought I
might as well go to bed as do anything else.”

“I’m glad you weren’t with Fräulein all the evening,” said Geraldine.
“Ada said she supposed you were hobnobbing together, and it made me
mad. You know the sarcastic way she has of saying things.”

Gretel sighed.

“I can’t help feeling very sorry for Fräulein!” she said. “Just think
how we should feel if we were in Germany now, and couldn’t go home. It
isn’t her fault that we are at war, nor her family’s fault either.”

“No, of course it isn’t,” Geraldine agreed, “and I’ve always stood up
for her when Ada and the others said disagreeable things. But she did
act rather queerly to-night at supper. Suppose she should turn out to
be a spy, or something dreadful like that.”

Geraldine was romantic, and she and her twin brother had read a great
many detective stories.

“Nonsense,” said Gretel, indignantly. “You ought not to say such things
even in fun.”

“Ada wasn’t in fun,” said Geraldine. “She said--but perhaps I’d better
not tell you if it’s going to make you mad.”

“Tell me,” said Gretel, sitting up in bed. “After all, I suppose Ada
has the right to say what she chooses, even if it is unkind.”

“Well, she said she doubted very much whether Fräulein was loyal to the
United States, and she thought Miss Minton ought not to keep her any
longer.” Two bright red spots were beginning to burn in Gretel’s cheeks.

“Miss Minton wouldn’t be so unkind as to send Fräulein away now,”
she said. “There wouldn’t be any place for her to go except to her
uncle’s, and I’m sure she wouldn’t be happy there. He always makes her
pay board in the vacations, and if she hadn’t any money I’m afraid he
would be very disagreeable. I saw him once, when I went to tea with
Fräulein and her aunt, and he had such a hard, cruel face.”

Geraldine looked grave.

“Well, I hope it won’t happen,” she said, “but most of the girls say
they won’t take any more German lessons now we are at war. I wouldn’t
worry about it, anyhow. Miss Minton is strict, but she is never unjust.
Even if she should send Fräulein away, I’m sure she would pay her for
the rest of the term. Oh, Gretel, isn’t the war exciting? Just think,
lots of people we know may have to go.”

Gretel’s lip quivered.

“I know,” she said, softly. “It’s very terrible. My heart has been so
heavy all the evening that I just couldn’t play games. Geraldine, let’s
say our prayers together, and ask God to take care of our dear ones,
and bring this dreadful fighting and killing to an end before long.”

“All right,” said Geraldine, in a tone of unusual gravity. “Of course
it’s terrible, only at first it seemed so exciting I didn’t think of
anything else. I suppose it’s very selfish, but I can’t help being
thankful Father is over age, and Jerry only fourteen. Molly Chester
said the same thing about her family this evening.”

Gretel smiled indulgently, for, though Geraldine was only a year
younger than herself, she still looked upon her friend as quite a
little girl.

“I’m thankful, too,” she said. “I suppose Percy is over age, too, but I
don’t know what he may decide to do. He thought America ought to have
gone into the war two years ago. Now hurry and undress, and then we’ll
say our prayers, and try to go to sleep.”



It was Easter Sunday. Such a strange Easter, quite unlike any the girls
had ever known before, for though the world was bathed in bright spring
sunshine, and a robin was singing his merriest song in the elm-tree
outside the schoolroom window, there was a strange feeling of solemnity
about everything--a feeling as if something were going to happen, and
the storm might break at any moment.

They had walked to church as usual, but even on the quiet village
street little groups of people were talking earnestly together, and
every face they saw was grave, and a little anxious. The service had
been beautiful, and the village children had sung the Easter carols, as
they always did, but after the regular Easter sermon, the clergyman had
made an earnest appeal to his congregation to do their duty as loyal
Americans, and to be ready for sacrifice now that the call had come.
Gretel had felt her heart thrill as she listened, and she could not
help glancing at her schoolmates for sympathy. Amy Bowring was crying
softly, and Ada looked flushed and excited.

“I’ve been praying all winter that we might not have to go into the
war,” Molly Chester whispered, as they walked down the aisle, while the
organ played “The Star-Spangled Banner,” “but I’m glad we’re in now. I
shouldn’t like to be ashamed of my country.”

They had walked home very quietly, nobody feeling much inclined to
talk, and now the midday dinner was over, and most of the girls had
gathered in the schoolroom to write their weekly letters home. One
of the things which had helped to make Miss Minton’s little school
popular for so many years was the fact that she had always tried to
make it as much as possible like home. There were a few rules, which
must be followed, but in general the girls were allowed to do very
much, out of lesson hours, as they would if they were in their own
homes. Miss Minton always declared that she would not keep a girl in
her school whom she could not trust, and when girls--and boys, too,
for that matter--are put on their honor, it is really surprising how
comparatively seldom they get into mischief. So the girls at Miss
Minton’s were allowed to spend their Sunday afternoons very much as
they would have spent them at home, although there was a general
understanding that Sunday was the day for writing home letters. No one
was obliged to attend afternoon service unless she wished, but in the
evening they sang hymns, and Miss Minton asked Bible questions, which
was quite exciting, as everybody tried to be ready with a correct
answer, and Miss Minton had a disconcerting way of skipping about, so
that it was impossible to guess what question she would ask next. On
this Easter afternoon Grace, Olive, and one or two of the other girls,
had gone to church with Miss Laura, and Miss Whiting, the arithmetic
teacher, but Gretel, Geraldine, Molly, Kitty, Angel, and Ada were all
in the schoolroom writing letters.

For a while it was very quiet, with only the scratching of pens, and
an occasional rustle of paper, to break the silence, but at last Ada
finished her letter, and remarked, as she slipped it into the envelope:

“I’ve written Mother that I don’t intend to take another German lesson.
I know she’ll approve.”

“I envy you,” said Kitty. “I wish I could write the same to my mother,
but I know she’d say I must do as Miss Minton thinks best. I hate

“So do I,” chimed in Amy, “but I suppose we’ve got to study it as long
as Fräulein stays. Did you ever see any one with such a long face as
Fräulein has worn ever since war was declared?”

“I’m sorry for her,” said Molly, sympathetically. “She must hate to
feel how everybody dislikes her country. I should have a long face,
too, if I were in her place.”

“You wouldn’t if you were loyal to America,” declared Ada. “You would
be glad your old country was getting what she deserved.”

“There are some good, loyal Germans in this country,” put in Angel.
“Gretel knew ever so many when her father was alive, and some of them
were lovely; weren’t they, Gretel?”

“I don’t believe all Germans are wicked,” said Gretel, blushing. “Those
musicians who came to Father’s studio were very kind and generous to
each other. I don’t believe any of them would have done the terrible
things we’ve been reading about in the papers.”

“Wouldn’t they, though?” scoffed Ada. “Just give them a chance, and see
what they would do. My mother says she wouldn’t trust a German, not

Ada paused abruptly, as the door opened, and Fräulein herself appeared
on the threshold. The little German teacher was looking flushed and
agitated, and stood for a moment, glancing from one face to another,
until her eye met Gretel’s sympathetic gaze. Gretel was feeling rather
hot and indignant at the moment. Ada’s words had hurt her keenly, and
she was conscious of a sudden access of affection for Fräulein, who
seemed so forlorn and unhappy.

“Would you like to go for a walk, Fräulein?” she asked, kindly. “I’ve
finished my letter, and I’d love to go with you.”

Fräulein shook her head, and her lip quivered.

“I have come to say good-bye to you all,” she said. “I go this evening.”

There was a little stir of excitement, pens were laid down, and all
eyes were turned in surprise towards the German teacher.

“We--we didn’t think you would go,” gasped Molly, and Angel added

“We are very sorry. I hope no one in your family is ill.”

“No,” said Fräulein, “it is not illness that causes me to leave. It is
because Miss Minton thinks it best. She says none of you will wish to
study German any more this year.”

There was a moment of uncomfortable silence, and then Geraldine said,

“It’ll be rather jolly to have a holiday in the middle of the term,
won’t it? I wish I were going to have one; don’t you, girls?”

“I do,” said Angel. “I don’t believe it will be a long holiday, though.
The war will surely be over by next autumn, and then, of course,
Fräulein will come back.”

“I do not think so,” said Fräulein, and there was a sound in her voice
that might have been either pain or anger. “The war will not be over
as soon as you think. Germany is still very strong; she will not give
in for a long time yet. And in the meantime the poor Germans in this
country must starve, I suppose.”

“Oh, no they won’t, I’m sure they won’t!” protested Angel. “It is
very hard for them, I know, and I am dreadfully sorry, but if we were
in Germany now it would be just as hard for us. I don’t believe Miss
Minton meant to be unkind.”

“She thinks herself justified, I suppose,” returned the German woman.
“You all do that, but it does not alter the fact. However, that is
not the question now. I have come to say good-bye. I am taking the
five-thirty train to New York.”

All the girls except Ada rose politely.

“Good-bye, Fräulein,” said Molly, holding out her hand. “I--I hope
you’ll have a pleasant summer.”

The others followed Molly’s example, and they all shook hands. Then
Fräulein turned to Ada.

“Will you not bid me good-bye?” she said. “I know you have never liked
me, but may we not part friends?”

“Good-bye, Fräulein,” said Ada, coldly. “I am sorry you think I have
never liked you. I have always tried to be polite.”

“Actions speak louder than words,” quoted Fräulein, and without another
word, she turned to leave the room.

“I’ll come and help you pack,” said Gretel, and, with a reproachful
glance at Ada, she followed the German woman from the room.

“Well, of all the disagreeable, impertinent people!” burst out Ada, as
the door closed behind them. “To tell me I never liked her! It’s quite
true, of course, but I didn’t suppose she knew it.”

“I don’t see how she could have helped knowing it,” said Geraldine,
bluntly. “I think you might have been polite enough to stand up and
shake hands. None of us cares much about her, but it isn’t necessary to
be rude.”

Ada reddened, and bit her lip.

“I don’t care how rude I am to a German,” she said. “I hate them all,
and all loyal Americans ought to hate them. Think of Belgium and the
_Lusitania_. I’m not like your friend Gretel Schiller.”

Geraldine sprang to her feet; her eyes were flashing.

“Ada Godfrey,” she cried, her voice trembling with rage, “you are
the meanest girl I ever knew. You know perfectly well that Gretel is
as good an American as any one of us. She can’t help the fact that
her father was a German. If you ever say a thing like that again

“Oh, don’t quarrel, girls,” expostulated Molly. “Of course we know
Gretel is all right, and it really was very rude to treat Fräulein as
you did, Ada. Of course, she was rude, too, but then she is in a pretty
hard position. Some Germans are very nice. We had a Fräulein when we
were little, and we all loved her dearly. If we dislike Fräulein, I
think it’s principally because she has never seemed to care much about

“She seemed to care a good deal for Gretel,” muttered Ada, but she said
no more, and Geraldine also relapsed into silence, and went on with the
letter she was writing her twin brother at St. Mark’s. But if any one
had chanced to look over her shoulder, it would have been seen that
Ada was still in her black books. For Jerry Barlow was as devoted in
his allegiance to Gretel as his sister, and Geraldine was sure of his

Meanwhile Gretel had followed Fräulein up-stairs in silence, neither of
them uttering a word until they had reached the German teacher’s room
and closed the door. Then Fräulein spoke.

“Impudent little beast!” she said, and then collapsed in the
rocking-chair, and began to cry.

Gretel was very uncomfortable. She was sincerely sorry for Fräulein,
and angry with Ada, but at the same time she felt convinced that things
could not be quite as bad as Fräulein had represented. So, instead of
putting her arms round her friend’s neck, and comforting her--which was
what Fräulein expected--she remained standing in embarrassed silence,
till the German woman demanded between sobs:

“Have you nothing to say to me? Have you, too, turned against me
because of this cruel war? Ah, I did not expect this of you--I did not
think----” Sobs checked further utterance.

Now, Gretel had a very soft heart, and the sight of this distress was
more than she could bear. In another moment her arms were round her
friend, and she was trying to draw Fräulein’s hands down from her face.

“Oh, Fräulein dear,” she protested, crying herself from pure sympathy,
“I am so terribly, terribly sorry! Do try not to be so unhappy. You
know I haven’t turned against you; I couldn’t do such a thing. I am
your friend; I would do anything I could to help you. You can’t help
being German. You are no more to blame for this dreadful war than
Father would be if he were alive now.”

“Of course I am not to blame,” choked Fräulein, “but people treat me
as if I were. It is cruel and outrageous, and what is more, I will not
endure it.” And suddenly Fräulein’s foot came down with a stamp, that
rather startled Gretel, for she had not realized before that her friend
had a temper.

“I know it is cruel,” she said, soothingly, “but I don’t see how we can
help it. People are sometimes rather unkind to me, too, although I am
only half German.”

“Half German,” repeated Fräulein, scornfully; “yes, that is it, you are
only half German. You will not help the cause, but I am not afraid; I
will work for my country! I----”

“Oh, Fräulein, don’t talk like that,” interrupted Gretel. “It isn’t
right. You are an American citizen. If people heard you say such
things, you might get into dreadful trouble. Perhaps, after all, you
will be happier away from here. I sometimes wish I could go away
myself, when Ada--I mean when people say unkind things about Father’s
being German; but I am afraid it would be cowardly to ask Percy to let
me go home before the end of the term.”

“I have been dismissed,” cried Fräulein, returning to her grievance,
“dismissed for no fault, except that I am a German--one of the hated
race. I am turned out like a dog; I may starve for aught they care.”

“Oh, that is terrible!” gasped Gretel. “Do you mean that Miss Minton
didn’t pay you your salary?”

“Pay! What is pay? Do they think because they offer one a little money
everything is to be forgiven and forgotten? Yes, she has paid me for
the rest of the season, but how long will that money last, and when
it is gone what am I to do? My uncle will only let me share his home
while I have money to pay my board, and who will employ a German now
that this country has gone mad, and joined our enemies?”

“I know it’s going to be very hard for you,” murmured Gretel. “Percy
gives me a very large allowance--much more than I really need--if you
would let me help you----”

Fräulein’s face softened.

“You are a dear, generous child,” she said, “but it would never be
allowed. If your brother were to find out that you were helping a
German, your allowance would be stopped on the instant. Of course, you
might be able to keep him in ignorance. I am not thinking of myself but
of others. Are you obliged to render an account of how your allowance
is spent?”

“No,” said Gretel; “Percy and Barbara are very kind. They never ask
how I spend my money, but I always tell them. I couldn’t do a thing I
thought they might disapprove of without telling them. It wouldn’t be

Fräulein sighed and shook her head.

“Then you may be quite certain you will never be able to help a German
in distress,” she said, “but you have a kind heart, and there are not
many kind hearts in this cruel world now.”

There was something very pathetic in the quiver of Fräulein’s voice,
and in her red, swollen eyes, and all at once Gretel found herself
recalling the dingy little flat, where her friend’s relatives lived.
After all, it was very sad to be alone in an enemy’s country in war
time. Before she quite realized what she was doing, her arms were round
Fräulein’s neck again, and she was kissing her, and murmuring in her
half-forgotten German:

“Dear Fräulein, I love you very much, and if I can ever help you in any
way, indeed, indeed I will try.”

An hour and a half later, Gretel was standing at the hall window,
watching the station bus, with Fräulein and her belongings inside,
disappearing from sight in the gathering dusk. In spite of herself,
she could not help a little sigh of relief.

“Poor Fräulein,” she said to herself, “I’m terribly sorry for her, of
course, but I can’t help feeling rather glad she’s gone. I am sure
she’ll be much happier with her own people, even if she does think she

She was turning to go up-stairs when she encountered Miss Laura,
coming out of Miss Minton’s private sitting-room. Miss Laura was much
more approachable than her sister, and would sometimes condescend to
be quite friendly, even confidential with the girls. On the present
occasion she stopped Gretel to inquire rather mysteriously:

“Has she gone?”

“Do you mean Fräulein?” asked Gretel. “Yes, the bus has just left.”

“Well, I must say I am relieved,” said Miss Laura. “I was so afraid she
would make a scene of some sort; those foreigners are so dramatic. She
has quite upset Sister; she was so rude; really almost violent in her
language. I should have been frightened to death, but Sister is always
so calm. She assured the woman there was no reason for her leaving at
once. It was merely a question of discontinuing the German classes
during the war. Fräulein flew into a rage, and declared she would go
by the first train, and that no earthly consideration would induce her
to spend another night under our roof. Downright ungrateful conduct, I
call it, after the care Sister took of her when she was laid up so long
with bronchitis last winter. But then, what else can one expect from a

Again the hot blood rushed up into Gretel’s cheeks, and she hurried
away that Miss Laura might not see the tears that had started to her

“I don’t suppose they mean to be unkind,” she told herself, as she went
up-stairs to her own room. “Perhaps Miss Laura didn’t even remember
that Father was a German, but it does hurt when people say such things,
and I can’t altogether blame Fräulein for being angry, although, of
course, she had no right to be rude to Miss Minton.”



It was the fourteenth of June, and “Breaking-Up” day at Miss Minton’s.
For more than two months the United States had been at war with
Germany, and during that time many things had happened. Even the quiet
little Connecticut village, where Miss Minton lived, had begun to
realize something of what war meant. There was a Service Flag waving
from each of more than a dozen houses, and only the day before there
had been a sad leave-taking at the station, when thirty boys had left
for the nearest training-camp. Registration Day had come and gone, and
more than ten million young men between the ages of eighteen and thirty
had signed their names.

Among the girls at Miss Minton’s, war was also beginning to seem very
real. Amy’s brother had left Harvard, and gone for a month’s training
before being sent overseas. One of Olive’s brothers had joined the
Flying Corps, and the other was already on his way to France. Angel
Thayer’s father had offered his services for foreign duty, and Gretel’s
brother was doing Government work in Washington.

But people cannot always be sad, even in war time, and on that glorious
June morning, when the air was heavy with the fragrance of roses and
honeysuckle, and the birds were singing as birds only do sing in June,
a group of very bright young faces was gathered on Miss Minton’s front
porch, awaiting the arrival of the station bus.

“I’m so excited at the thought of going home I can hardly wait to get
to the station,” said Molly Chester, joyfully. “It seems an age since I
saw my family in March.”

“Haven’t your people gone to the country yet?” inquired Kitty, whose
own family had already moved to their summer home on the Jersey shore.

“Oh, yes, they went up to New London on the first. I’m to meet Father
in town this afternoon, and go up with him.”

“New London will be interesting this summer, with the naval station so
near,” remarked Margaret May. “You and Ada are lucky to have summer
places there.” Margaret spoke a little enviously. Her own home was in
a small town in Vermont, and her hopes of an exciting summer were not

“I dare say we shall see a good deal of the officers,” Molly said. “My
cousin Stephen Cranston is stationed at New London, and I suppose he
will bring some of the boys up to our house. I don’t believe we shall
be allowed to go near the naval station, though; they are so afraid of

“Wouldn’t it be exciting to catch a spy?” said Geraldine, to whom war
still seemed like an exciting game. “Jerry and I used to play spy games
when we were kids. I always loved reading stories about them, didn’t
you, Gretel?”

“Yes,” said Gretel, “when they were only stories, but now when it’s
real!” She gave a little involuntary shudder.

“I hope every spy will be caught and shot,” remarked Ada, the

“German spies, you mean,” corrected Kitty. “Our boys have to be spies
sometimes, too, you know. All spies are not wicked. There were André
and Nathan Hale, for instance.”

Before Ada could reply, somebody announced that the bus was in sight,
and in another moment it had rattled up to the door. Miss Minton
and Miss Laura came hurrying out to say good-bye, and there was a
great deal of chattering and laughter, as the twelve girls and their
belongings were packed into the big stage. They were to be accompanied
to New York by Madame and Miss Brown, the physical-culture teacher,
there to be met by friends or relatives.

       *       *       *       *       *

“School isn’t such a bad place, after all,” said Angel, wiping her
eyes, as the bus turned out of Miss Minton’s gate into the village
street. “I never knew how much I liked Miss Minton until I was saying
good-bye to her, and we have had some jolly times, even if the teachers
were strict, and the lessons hard.”

“People always talk like that on ‘Breaking-Up’ day,” said Ada, with
a superior smile. “You’ll feel differently when September comes. I
thought I never could bear to come back the second year, but Mother
insisted, and I’m not sorry I came now the term is over.”

“I wonder if we shall all come back next year,” said Amy. “I suppose
the war will make a difference in everything. I don’t believe Mother
will let me leave her if Jack is away. She says she can’t bear to be
parted from both of us.”

“Well, don’t let’s bother about next year, or war, or anything else
disagreeable,” said Molly. “Let’s just remember that it’s June, and
that we’re all going home for the summer. You look awfully happy,
Gretel; I had no idea you’d be so glad to leave school.”

Gretel laughed.

“I am glad,” she said, with a long breath of pure delight. “School is
all right, and the Mintons are very kind, but there isn’t any place in
the world like home. It seems as if I could hardly wait to get to New
York and see Percy and Barbara.”

Molly regarded her friend curiously. It was not the first time the
idea had occurred to her that possibly Gretel had not had altogether a
comfortable time during the past few months. She had never complained,
and had been almost always cheerful, but there were times when her
eyes had a sad, hurt look in them, and those were generally the times
when some one had made a sharp or thoughtless allusion to her German
antecedents. Molly was a kind-hearted girl, and really fond of Gretel,
and she made a sudden resolve to try to make up to her friend for some
of the half-unintentional slights she had received.

They were a very merry party on the train, and a source of much
amusement to their fellow-travelers, during the short journey, but
as they drew near to the great city, where they were to separate,
everybody was suddenly aware of feeling just a little sad.

“You’ll be sure to write once a week, won’t you, Angel?” Amy Bowring
whispered to her chum. “It’s going to be terribly lonely without Jack.
We always did so many things together, you know.”

“Of course I will,” promised Angel, “and perhaps your mother will let
you make me a visit. Beverly isn’t so very far from Bar Harbor.”

“I shall expect a visit from some of you,” declared Margaret. “Mother
said I could ask three girls, but the trouble is I want you all, and
don’t know which three to choose.”

“We shall have to draw lots,” laughed Kitty. “Then nobody can possibly
feel slighted. Why, here we are in the tunnel already; we must hurry
and get our things together.”

Five minutes later the suburban train was gliding into the Grand
Central Station.

“There’s Jerry!” cried Geraldine, joyfully, as they hurried along the
crowded platform, and the next moment she was rapturously hugging
a tall schoolboy, whose round, good-humored face displayed an odd
mixture of pleasure and embarrassment.

“Oh, Jerry, you darling, I am glad to see you! When did you get home?”

“Last night,” returned her brother, extricating himself, not without
some difficulty, from her embrace. “School closed yesterday, and I came
home on the Boston Flyer. I say, old girl, you needn’t hug a fellow
like that before people, you know. Where’s Gretel?”

“She was here a minute ago,” said Geraldine. “Oh, there she is, talking
to Molly Chester. Are Mr. or Mrs. Douaine here?”

“I don’t know; I haven’t seen them. Mother sent me in the car, and it’s
waiting outside, so we can drop Gretel at her house just as well as
not. Who’s that girl talking to the man with gray hair?”

“That’s Angel Thayer,” said Geraldine, following her brother’s glance.
“She’s pretty, isn’t she? I’ll introduce you if I get a chance. That
gentleman must be her uncle. Her father has gone to the war. Oh, Jerry,
isn’t the war exciting?”

“I should say it was! I only wish I were old enough to enlist. Some of
the seniors are doing it, but they won’t take a fellow unless he’s over
eighteen, worse luck. Oh, there’s Mrs. Douaine, so Gretel’s all right.
We may as well go along.”

Gretel had stood a little in the background while her friends were
being greeted by their various relatives, but at sight of a very
pretty young woman hurrying towards her through the crowd, her face
brightened, and she ran eagerly forward to greet her sister-in-law.

“I am so sorry to be late, Gretel dear,” Mrs. Douaine said, kissing her
affectionately. “I left home in plenty of time, but we met a regiment
marching down Fifth Avenue, and there was such a block in the traffic,
I thought I should never get here. Did you give your check to the
expressman on the train?”

“Now, do tell me all about everything,” exclaimed Gretel, leaning back
in her brother’s comfortable limousine, as they moved away from the
station. “Is Percy all right?”

“Yes, but frightfully busy. He has entered heart and soul into war
work. By the way, I have a surprise for you. Where do you think we are
going to spend the summer?”

“I haven’t the least idea. Not Bar Harbor or Murray Bay, I suppose?”

“No, indeed; nowhere as cool as Maine or Canada. I am afraid we shall
have to put up with a good deal of hot weather, but it can’t be helped.
You see, Percy expects to be in Washington nearly all summer, and I
couldn’t bear the thought of going so far away from him, so we have
rented a house there, or rather in the suburbs. It is rather prettily
situated, right on the banks of the Potomac, and within very easy
distance of the city. We expect to move down the last of next week. How
do you think you will enjoy spending a summer in Washington?”

“I shall love it, I am sure,” said Gretel, enthusiastically. “And, oh,
Barbara, I want to do some war work, too. It seems as if every one
ought to do something to help just a little.”

“Every one is doing something to help,” said Mrs. Douaine. “You have
no idea what the women had done already. Two of my best friends have
gone over to nurse in Paris hospitals, and three more have joined the
woman’s motor corps, and are learning to drive ambulances. I want to
help Percy all I can, and, oh, I am so thankful it is Washington for
him, and not the trenches. He was determined to go at first, in spite
of his being over age, but they turned him down on account of his eyes.
He is terribly near-sighted, you know. So now he has asked for home
service in Washington, and been accepted.”

Gretel uttered a little sigh of satisfaction, and slipped her hand into
her sister-in-law’s.

“I can’t help being thankful he isn’t going,” she said, “though I
suppose it must have been a great disappointment to him. Some of the
girls’ brothers are going, and it seems so dreadful. Ada Godfrey says
we ought to be glad to give our fathers and brothers to the country,
but Molly Chester says it’s easy for Ada to talk about giving up, when
she hasn’t any one to give herself.”

Mrs. Douaine laughed.

“I am afraid that is the way with a good many people,” she said, “but
I was willing to let Percy go, though the thought of parting from him
almost broke my heart. It must be a wonderful thing to die for one’s
country, Gretel.”

“I think I could die for my country if I were a man,” said Gretel, with
kindling eyes. “I never realized how much I loved it till the war came,
but now every time I see the American flag, I feel as if I wanted to go
right off and do something.”

Then Mrs. Douaine spoke of something else, and nothing more was said
about the war till the car drew up before the house on a quiet, uptown
street, which had been Gretel’s home for the past three years.

“It is glorious to be at home, even if all the furniture is covered
up in brown linen,” cried Gretel, joyfully, as she followed her
sister-in-law up-stairs, after greeting the elderly butler and smiling
parlor maid in the front hall.

“Your room hasn’t been disturbed yet,” said Mrs. Douaine. “I wouldn’t
have it touched till you came home. I thought it would seem more
homelike to find everything just as usual. The rest of the house is
pretty well dismantled, however. There’s so much to be done, and we may
remain in Washington till the war is over.”

“You are a dear, Barbara!” exclaimed Gretel, heartily. “It will be
lovely to find all my things just as I left them. I do love that room
so. I dream about it sometimes at school. But I’d love to help with the
packing. You have no idea what a good packer I have grown to be. The
girls all get me to help them with their trunks. Ah, here’s Dora.” And
she paused to shake hands with a rosy-cheeked maid, who was awaiting
them at the head of the stairs.

There was no doubt of the fact that Dora was pleased to welcome her
young lady home. Her honest face fairly beamed with pleasure, and she
followed Gretel to her room, and insisted on unpacking her suit-case.

“You’ll spoil me if you wait on me too much,” protested Gretel,
laughing. “We have to wait on ourselves at school. I’ve made my own bed
every morning all winter.”

Dora looked rather shocked.

“Well, you won’t make your own bed here, that’s one sure thing,” she
announced, with decision. “I don’t see why young ladies want to do
their own work.”

“I believe you have imbibed some of Higgins’s English ideas about young
ladies,” laughed Gretel. “I never shall forget her horror when Percy
and Barbara said I might go out by myself. ‘Such a proceeding had never
been heard of in the Henglish Haristocracy.’ By the way, has any one
heard from Higgins lately?”

“Yes, Miss, Martha had a letter last week. She’s decided to stay on in
England with her sister, whose two sons have been killed in the war.
She asked to be respectfully remembered to all the family.”

Gretel’s bright face clouded, and she suddenly laid down the brush with
which she had been smoothing her hair, preparatory to going down to

“Two sons killed,” she exclaimed in horror. “Oh, Dora, how perfectly

“Yes, it is dreadful,” agreed the maid, with a sigh, “and now this
country’s gone in, it’s going to be worse still. Peter’s enlisted.”

“Peter! Why, Dora, how could he? He isn’t seventeen yet.”

“They wouldn’t have taken him if they’d known how young he was,” said
Dora, not without some pride in her tone, “but he fibbed about his age,
and they accepted him. Mother’s been crying her eyes out about his
going, but Father says if a boy has got pluck enough to do a thing like
that, he isn’t going to interfere. Peter’s at Camp Schuyler now, and
he expects to be sent over any time. I wish you could see him in his

“I wish I could,” said Gretel, “but it does seem rather queer. Things
are changing so fast. Why, it was only three or four years ago that
Peter was just a mischievous little boy. Do you remember the night he
and Lillie came to play and sing for me at Mrs. Marsh’s, and the grand
row over the cream puffs?” Gretel laughed merrily over the childish
recollection, but she was grave again in a moment.

“I can’t think of Peter going to the war,” she said. “He is the first
person I really know well who is actually going, and it seems to make
it all so much more real. I am very sorry for your mother, Dora, and
for all of you.”

“We’re no worse off than thousands of others,” said Dora,
philosophically. “Now do let me take off those heavy boots, Miss
Gretel. They’re much too thick to wear in the house this hot day, and
there’s a nice pair of slippers in the closet.”

Gretel was still looking rather grave when she joined her sister-in-law
at the luncheon table. But Mrs. Douaine was too busy and preoccupied
herself to notice it.

“I am so sorry to leave you on your first afternoon, Gretel,” she said,
regretfully, “but I have no end of things to attend to before we leave
for Washington. Do you mind staying at home, or would you rather come
out with me?”

“I think I’ll stay at home unless you need me for anything,” said
Gretel. “There is always something rather exciting in going over all my
old treasures when I haven’t seen them for three months, and besides, I
want to play on the dear old piano. I suppose Percy is in Washington.”

“He has been for the past week, but I have just received a telegram,
saying he’s coming home for a few days. He said he would be here this
afternoon, but didn’t mention the train, so I can’t meet him at the

Gretel looked pleased. She was very fond of her brother, and the
thought of his absence had been the one shadow on her home-coming.

“I am so glad,” she said. “Oh, it is good to know we are going to be
all together this summer! You must give me lots of work to do, Barbara;
I want to be busy every minute. Of course we’ve been doing a lot of
knitting at school. I’ve made three pairs of socks for the soldiers
already. I was the only girl who knew how to knit socks, and I taught
Molly and Angel Thayer.”

“And how did you learn yourself?” Mrs. Douaine asked in some surprise.

Gretel laughed and blushed.

“I hardly know how I did learn,” she said. “Old Mrs. Lippheim taught me
to knit when I was nine, and I suppose knitting comes to me naturally.
Ada Godfrey says it comes from my German ancestors.”

Gretel spoke cheerfully, but there was a little embarrassment in her
tone which her sister-in-law did not fail to notice.

“I hope none of the girls have made unkind remarks about your German
ancestors,” she said, rather anxiously.

Gretel’s eyes dropped, and she became suddenly very much interested in
the contemplation of her salad.

“Oh, no,” she answered, evasively, “I don’t think any one meant to be
unkind. Ada has a sharp way of saying things sometimes, but I suppose
she can’t help it. She was very fond of an uncle, who was lost on
the _Lusitania_, and that has made her feel very bitterly towards
the Germans. All the other girls were lovely to me.” And then Gretel
changed the subject by inquiring for some New York friends, and nothing
more was said about Ada or her prejudices.



It was four o’clock, and Gretel was at the piano in the dismantled
drawing-room, playing softly to herself. The afternoon had been, on
the whole, a pleasant one. She had spent an hour looking over her old
treasures, which included a bundle of letters, tied together with a
red ribbon. They were her greatest treasure of all, for they were all
from her father--letters he had written her on his brief absences from
home, when she was sent to stay with their kind old German friend Frau
Lippheim. Gretel always read those letters over at least once during
the holidays, and generally cried a little during the reading, but even
that was not altogether unpleasant, for Gretel possessed just enough
German sentimentality to rather enjoy the luxury of a few comfortable
tears. She had cried rather more than usual to-day, and as she put the
old letters back in the drawer of her desk, had whispered softly:

“Dear Father; you were so good and kind to every one. Surely there must
be other good Germans in the world as well as you.”

Then she had had another little chat with Dora, and been shown the
photograph of the hero Peter--Dora’s younger brother--taken in his
uniform, and now she had gone to the drawing-room for an hour of music.

She had just finished the first movement of Beethoven’s “Moonlight
Sonata,” when she was rather startled by a ring at the front door-bell.
The house had been so quiet all the afternoon, that any sound would
have been startling, and, thinking her brother might have arrived
earlier than he was expected, she paused in her playing to listen. She
heard the front door open, a murmur of voices, followed by approaching
footsteps, and the butler appeared in the doorway.

“A lady to see you, Miss Gretel.”

“To see me, Johnson!” and Gretel sprang from the piano stool in
surprise. The next moment she had caught sight of another figure,
close behind Johnson, and was hurrying forward to meet it.

“Why, Fräulein, how good of you to come so soon! I only got home this

Gretel’s tone was cordial, but she was conscious of a sudden sinking
of her heart. She was glad to see her old friend, she told herself, of
course she was very glad indeed, and yet--and yet--she could not help
wishing Fräulein had not come quite so soon.

“How delightfully cool it is in here!” exclaimed the German woman,
sinking wearily down upon the sofa. “The streets are like an oven. This
American heat is frightful.”

“Let me fan you,” cried Gretel, eager to atone for that slight feeling
of discomfort, and seizing a fan from the table, she began plying it
with rather unnecessary vigor.

“It is refreshing,” murmured Fräulein, half closing her eyes. She was
really looking very worn and tired, Gretel thought. “Oh, it is good to
see you again, my child. Have you missed me?”

“It seemed very strange after you went away,” said Gretel, trying to
evade a direct reply to the question. “I missed my German lessons very
much. How did you know I was coming home to-day?”

“I knew the school was to close on the fourteenth, and felt sure you
would all leave by the morning train, as you did last year. I could not
let the day pass without seeing you; I have missed you so terribly.”

There was gentle reproach in Fräulein’s tone, and it made Gretel
vaguely uncomfortable, although she could not help being flattered as

“I hope you have gotten my letters,” she said, anxiously.

“Oh, yes, and it was good of you to write, but letters are not the same
as speaking face to face, and I have missed my favorite pupil sadly.”

Fräulein put out her hand, and Gretel, supposing she was expected to
take it, did so, and had her fingers squeezed affectionately.

“You wrote that you were going as governess to a German family,” she
said. “I thought you would have left New York before I came back.”

“I did leave,” said Fräulein. “I went to Long Island for a week, but
I did not like the family. The children did not treat me with proper

“And are you back at your aunt’s now?” Gretel asked.

“Yes, and I am happier there than I ever expected to be. There is
nothing to draw people together like a great common sorrow.”

“Oh, has anything dreadful happened in your family?” Gretel’s voice was
full of real concern now.

“Not in our family, but our country--the Fatherland. I was alluding to
the war.”

“Oh,” said Gretel, “of course; I didn’t think. But your uncle is too
old for the draft; he won’t have to go, will he?”

“Certainly not,” said Fräulein, “and thank God for it. You would not
have a German fight against his country?”

“No, of course not, but your uncle has been in this country so many
years. He is an American citizen, is he not?”

“That fact cannot make him untrue to the Fatherland,” said Fräulein,
reproachfully. “What a strange idea you Americans have of patriotism.
Your father would say so if he were living to-day.”

“I don’t think he would,” said Gretel, decidedly. “He might still love
his country, but he would not approve of the terrible things Germany
has done. He would be loyal to America, where he had lived so many
years. Hasn’t your uncle made most of his money here?”

“Money, money,” repeated the German woman, scornfully, “you Americans
are always thinking of money. As if getting rich were the only
important thing in this world. My uncle would not allow such a sordid
consideration to interfere with his duty. He is a true patriot, and his
country comes before everything else.”

“You like him better than you used to, don’t you?” said Gretel,
innocently. “You always said he was so hard and unkind, and did not
make your aunt very happy.”

Fräulein colored and bit her lip.

“I did not understand him as well as I do now,” she explained. “One
sometimes makes mistakes. I have learned many things in these sad

“I am glad you like him better,” said Gretel; “it must make living in
his house much pleasanter. Are you looking for another position?”

“Not just now. Positions for Germans are not easily found in these
days. I shall probably spend the summer with my uncle and aunt. I am
helping them in many little ways, and they seem to enjoy having me with
them. But tell me about yourself, and how it is that all the rugs and
ornaments are put away? Are you leaving town at once?”

“We are going to Washington next week,” said Gretel, and she repeated
what her sister-in-law had told her of their summer plans. Fräulein
looked much interested.

“Washington will be interesting,” she said; “you will meet people and
hear things. I suppose there is no hope of their wanting a governess or
companion for you during the summer?”

Fräulein spoke so eagerly that Gretel felt very sorry to have to
disappoint her hopes.

“I am afraid not,” she said, regretfully; “indeed, I am quite sure they
don’t. I am going to help Barbara all I can in her war work, and I
really don’t need a companion, you know.”

“No, I don’t suppose you do,” agreed Fräulein, with a sigh. “I only
hoped it might be possible. It would be a great joy to me, but alas! I
know it cannot be.”

“Let me ring for tea,” exclaimed Gretel, springing from her seat, with
a sudden inspiration. “I know you would like some tea. Shall we have it
hot or iced?”

Fräulein said she would prefer it iced, and when Gretel returned from
giving the order, her friend asked her if she would not play something.

“You were playing when I came in,” she said, “and it was so beautiful
to hear the dear German music again. My uncle and aunt are not musical,
and I have no money for concerts now.”

Gretel was delighted to comply with this request, and the next half
hour slipped away very pleasantly. When the tea was brought in,
Fräulein sipped hers leisurely, and ate frosted cakes, while Gretel
gave her all the latest school news, in which, however, she did not
appear quite as much interested as her young hostess expected. Only
once did she manifest any particular interest, and that was when Gretel
happened to mention that Molly Chester and Ada Godfrey were both
spending the summer at New London.

“Molly has asked me to visit her,” Gretel prattled on. “I should love
to go, for I like Molly so much, but I may not be able, as Washington
is so far away. Percy and Barbara don’t like to have me travel alone.”

“If they should want some one to travel with you,” said Fräulein, in a
tone of suddenly aroused interest, “I should be very glad to offer my
services. It might not be convenient to send a maid, and I would not in
the least mind going to Washington to meet you.”

Before Gretel could answer, there was another ring at the door-bell,
and quite forgetting her visitor for the moment, she eagerly started to
her feet.

“Please excuse me for a moment,” she said, hurriedly. “I think it may
be my brother, and I am so anxious to see him. Barbara said he would
be here some time this afternoon.” And, without waiting for Fräulein’s
permission, she ran out into the hall, and in another moment was
greeting a tall gentleman, with brown hair, and eyes like her own.

“Well, well!” exclaimed Mr. Douaine, kissing his little sister
affectionately, and then holding her off at arm’s length; “this is a
pleasant surprise. I thought you were not due before to-morrow. How
well you are looking. School life certainly seems to agree with you. Is
Barbara at home?”

“No,” said Gretel; “she had to go out to attend to some things, but she
told me to tell you she would hurry back as early as she could. You
look awfully tired, Percy; did you have a hot journey?”

“Beastly. Between the heat and the dust, we were almost suffocated.
It’s good to get home, though, even if only for a day or two. What do
you think of Barbara’s summer plans?”

“I love them,” said Gretel. “I am sure Washington will be tremendously
interesting. Come in and have some tea. It’s all ready, and iced, too,
just the way you like it. I have a friend here, but you won’t mind her.”

Mr. Douaine said that he certainly would not mind meeting any friend of
Gretel’s, and followed his sister into the drawing-room.

“This is my friend Fräu---- Miss Sieling,” said Gretel, thinking that
possibly her visitor might prefer to drop the German prefix under
present circumstances. “I am sure you have heard me speak of her,
Percy. She was very kind to me when I first went to Miss Minton’s.”

Mr. Douaine smiled, and shook hands with the visitor, while Miss
Sieling blushed, and murmured something ending with “Anything I have
ever done for dear Gretel has been only a pleasure to myself.” Then
they all sat down, but it soon became evident to Gretel that her friend
was not as much at her ease as usual, and in a short time she rose to

“Oh, don’t go yet,” cried Gretel, hospitably. “I haven’t told you half
the school news, and it isn’t more than five o’clock.”

But Fräulein persisted in her intention of leaving at once. The air was
so heavy, she said, she was sure there would be a thunder-storm before

“And you know how nervous I am in a thunder-storm,” she added, “so
don’t urge me to run the risk of being caught out in one.”

Gretel said no more, but accompanied her guest to the front door, after
Fräulein and Mr. Douaine had exchanged a cool farewell.

“Come and see me, Liebchen,” whispered Fräulein, whose manner had
resumed all its old warmth the moment they were out of Mr. Douaine’s
hearing. “My aunt told me to be sure to appoint an afternoon when you
can come to tea.”

Gretel hesitated.

“I am not sure if I can,” she faltered. “We are going to Washington so
soon, you know. I may not have a spare afternoon.”

But Fräulein would not hear of any such flimsy excuses.

“If you do not come I shall be offended,” she protested. “I shall think
you no longer care for me, and that would make me very unhappy. My aunt
would be offended, too. You used to say you liked her German cookies,
and it pleased her so much. Suppose we say next Tuesday. You do not go
to Washington until the last of the week.”

Fräulein was so very urgent that it really seemed impossible to refuse
her invitation without being rude, and, as Gretel had no wish to hurt
her old friend’s feelings, she finally gave a rather half-hearted
consent, and the engagement was made for the following Tuesday

“If anything should happen to prevent, I will either write or
telephone,” Gretel added, by way of a proviso.

“Certainly, but you must not let anything prevent. My aunt is very fond
of you, and she does not like many people.”

Gretel was a little surprised to hear this, for on the one or two
occasions when she had gone to tea at Fräulein’s aunt’s, that lady--a
stout German with a dull, placid expression, had not appeared to take
any particular notice of her. Indeed, Fräulein had once confided in
German that her aunt was “Good, but dull.”

“They must care a great deal more about each other than they used to,”
she reflected, as she stood for a moment on the steps, watching her
friend pass out of sight. “I suppose the war has drawn them together.
It must be very hard for Germans in this country, and I do feel sorry
for them, but I can’t help wishing Fräulein hadn’t urged me so much to
come to tea.”

Mr. Douaine was leaning back in an armchair, comfortably sipping his
second glass of iced tea, when Gretel returned. He certainly did look
tired and a little troubled as well.

“Come and sit down, little girl,” he said, kindly. “I am glad that
friend of yours is afraid of thunder-storms. I want you to myself for a
little while.”

“She--she is very pleasant, don’t you think so?” faltered loyal Gretel,
as she took the seat by her brother’s side.

“I have no doubt she can be very pleasant when she feels inclined,”
Mr. Douaine answered, smiling. “She is a trifle too German to suit my
taste, but that isn’t her fault. I don’t think she took to me any more
than I took to her.”

“She did seem rather stiff,” Gretel admitted. “Perhaps the thunder in
the air made her nervous. She was awfully good to me at school, and I
really am fond of her.”

“Certainly you are fond of her, and there is no reason why you should
not be. I dare say she is all right, but--well, the fact is, I am
afraid I am prejudiced. One hears such dreadful things about the
Germans in these days.”

“Percy,” said Gretel, with a catch in her voice, “if Father were alive,
do you believe he would approve of the things the Germans have done?”

“No, Gretel, I do not,” her brother answered, decidedly. “Your father
was one of the best men I have ever known in my life.”

Gretel gave a long sigh of intense relief.

“I am so glad you feel that way, too,” she said, softly. “I was always
quite sure myself, but one of the girls at school----”

“You don’t mean that some one has been making you uncomfortable on
account of your father!” exclaimed Mr. Douaine, indignantly, as Gretel
paused in some embarrassment. “Such a thing would be simply outrageous.”

“Oh, no,” said Gretel, “at least perhaps she didn’t mean to make me
uncomfortable. Almost every one has been kind, the Mintons, and all the
teachers, even Madame. Most of the girls are kind, too, but Ada Godfrey
hates the Germans more than the rest, because her uncle was drowned
on the _Lusitania_. But, Percy, I can’t help being very sorry for the
Germans in this country. They didn’t cause the war, and people are so
unkind to them. Fräulein was dreadfully unhappy at school.”

“I have no doubt there are many loyal Germans here,” said Mr. Douaine,
“and some of them have probably been treated most unjustly, but I am
afraid the few must suffer for the faults of the many. Since I have
been in Washington I have learned many things, which I would scarcely
have believed possible six months ago. I have no objection to your
seeing your German friend, especially if it gives you both pleasure,
but I wouldn’t advise you to be very intimate. But, hark! isn’t that
a car stopping? It must be Barbara.” And Mr. Douaine hurried away to
greet his wife, leaving his sister looking unusually grave and troubled.

Gretel was still looking grave when she returned to her own room. Her
brother’s words, kind though they had been, had revealed his knowledge
of, and belief in, something of which she had read, and heard people
talk, but had never believed herself. Was it possible that people--her
own father’s people--could be disloyal to the country of their
adoption? Certainly Fräulein had said some strange things, but then
Fräulein was so excitable.

She found Dora waiting for her in her room.

“Oh, Miss Gretel,” began the maid eagerly, “I’ve had such a surprise.
Who do you think is down-stairs in the kitchen?”

“I have no idea,” said Gretel, smiling. “Not Peter?”

“Yes, Peter. They gave the boys a holiday, and Peter came up from the
camp this afternoon. He’s been to see Mother, and just stopped in here
for a minute on his way back. He looks just grand in his uniform.”

“I should love to see him,” said Gretel. “Has he the time to spare?”

“Yes, Miss, and he’s crazy to see you, and say good-bye. He thinks the
regiment may be sent over very soon.”

“I’ll come right down,” said Gretel, good-naturedly, and three minutes
later, she was shaking hands with a tall, red-haired youth in the
uniform of a United States Private.

“I am so glad you waited to see me,” she said. “Why, Peter, how fine
you look, and how you have grown!”

In his pleasure and embarrassment, Peter blushed until his cheeks were
as red as his hair. He stammered out something about hoping he hadn’t
been too bold, and shook Gretel’s hand as if it were a pump-handle.

“Bold!” cried Gretel, indignantly; “what nonsense! I should never have
forgiven you if you had gone away without bidding me good-bye. Why,
Peter, think what old friends we are. Do you remember the cream puffs,
and how you recognized me the day I was run over?”

Peter grinned.

“That was a good while ago,” he said. “I was a kid then.”

“You are not so very old yet,” said Gretel, and there was a tremor in
her voice. “Oh, Peter, I am sorry you are going. Of course I am proud
of you for wanting to, but----”

“I’m all right,” interrupted Peter, gruffly, but blushing more than
ever. “All the fellows are crazy to go. A lot of them got turned down,
but they accepted me because of my size. Don’t you worry, Miss Gretel,
or Dora either. We’ll come back all right, and if we don’t lick them
Germans before the year’s out, my name’s not Peter Grubb.”

Peter paused abruptly, warned by a glance from his sister, and suddenly
grew very much embarrassed.

“I beg your pardon, Miss Gretel,” he said, awkwardly. “I didn’t mean to
say anything about them, but you see----”

“I know how you all feel,” said Gretel, blushing in her turn. “My
father was a German, but I know he would not have approved of this
terrible war. I am sure there must be other good Germans, who feel as
he would have felt.”

“Maybe there are,” Peter admitted, reluctantly, “but they’ve got to be
licked all the same. I guess I’ve got to go now; we were told to be
back at camp before nine.”

A lump rose in Gretel’s throat, as she held out her hand to her old
friend. Peter was the first person she knew who was actually going to
the war. What if she were never to see him again? She had read of the
dead and wounded lying in the trenches for days. Oh, war was very, very

“Good-bye, Peter,” she said: “you are a brave boy, and--and--God bless
you, Peter, and bring you back safely.”

Gretel was crying softly when she went up-stairs, leaving Dora to
have a few last words with her brother. She was very quiet at dinner,
although Percy and Barbara did their best to make her first evening
at home a pleasant one. She could not banish the vision of Peter’s
bright, confident young face. She had never before thought of freckled,
red-haired Peter Grubb without a smile, but to-night her old playmate
had suddenly appeared in the character of a hero. How many brave
young heroes there were, all going, like Peter, with light, confident
hearts, “to lick the Germans.” They would not all come back. It was a
very hot, sultry evening, and they sat in the drawing-room with all
the windows open, chatting pleasantly, but always with that strange,
new undercurrent of sadness. Once the silence of the quiet street was
broken by the shrill cry of an Extra. Mr. Douaine bought the paper,
which told of a German victory, and of a long list of casualties. By
and by Mr. Douaine asked for some music, and his wife went to the
piano. For a few moments her fingers wandered idly over the keys, and
then she began to play. At the first notes Gretel’s heart gave a great
bound, and the grateful tears started to her eyes. Barbara was playing
her father’s Sonata, and Gretel knew that it was for her sake.

“How good she is,” the girl said to herself; “oh, how good she and
Percy have always been to me!”

Later, Gretel took her turn at the piano, and as usual, forgot
everything else in the music she loved, but when she had kissed her
brother and his wife good-night, and found Dora waiting for her in her
room, she remembered Peter again, and the troubled look came back to
her eyes. Dora’s own eyes were red, but she was smiling proudly.

“Didn’t the kid look fine?” she inquired eagerly, as she unfastened
Gretel’s dress.

“Yes, indeed he did,” responded Gretel, heartily; “I don’t wonder you
are proud of him, Dora. He looks years older than when I saw him last
Christmas. Do you think he realizes what it all means? He is so young,
you know.”

“Yes, Miss, I think he does,” said Dora, with unusual gravity. “He
doesn’t talk much about such things--boys don’t, you know--but just the
last minute before he left, he kissed me, a thing he hasn’t done since
he was a little fellow, and said, ‘If I shouldn’t ever come back, Dora,
you’ll take care of Mother, won’t you?’ He said it so serious, and
there was a look on his face that most broke my heart to see, but I was
proud of him all the same.”

Gretel fell asleep thinking of Peter, and awoke with a start, aroused
by a heavy peal of thunder. The storm, which had been threatening all
the evening, had broken at last, and rain was pouring in torrents.
Gretel sat up in bed, shaking from head to foot. Then came a bright
flash of lightning, followed by another peal of thunder, and she lay
down again, with a sigh of relief.

“It’s only a thunder-storm,” she murmured; “oh, I’m so glad. I thought
for a minute it might be--oh, if the Germans in this country should do
anything terrible, as they have done in France and England! I wonder
what Percy meant when he said he had found out things in Washington.”



It was on the following Monday morning that the invitation came. Gretel
found it awaiting her on the breakfast table, and at once recognized
Molly Chester’s rather straggly handwriting. Mr. Douaine had returned
to Washington the previous day, and Gretel and her sister-in-law were
alone at breakfast.

“Who is your correspondent, dear?” Mrs. Douaine asked, glancing up from
her own pile of letters, at the sound of an exclamation from Gretel.

“Molly Chester,” Gretel answered. “She wants me to visit her this week.
May I read her letter to you?”

“Yes, do. I like Molly; she is such a genuine, unaffected girl. My
own mail isn’t a bit interesting this morning; nothing but bills and
appeals for war charities.”

“It’s a wonderful invitation,” said Gretel, “but I don’t know whether
I ought to go away just now when you are so busy, and I might be some
help in the packing.”

“Let us hear what Molly says, at any rate,” said Mrs. Douaine, as she
poured her coffee, and Gretel began to read:


  “I am in a frightful hurry, as I want to post this letter on the
  way to church, so please excuse an awful scrawl, but I simply
  can’t wait another minute, because there isn’t any time to spare.

  “Mother wants to know if you can come to us this week Tuesday,
  and stay until after the Fourth. Kitty is coming, and I am
  writing to ask Geraldine and her brother. I know she won’t stir
  in vacation without her twin, and my brother Paul has taken
  a tremendous fancy to Jerry Barlow. You know they both go to
  Groton, and although Paul is only twelve, it seems Jerry has been
  awfully good to him, so Paul is just wild to have Jerry asked for
  a visit. I am sure we four girls can have lots of fun together,
  so be sure to come, and send me a telegram, saying you will meet
  Father at the Grand Central on Tuesday afternoon, in time to
  take the three o’clock train for New London. I know your family
  don’t like to have you travel by yourself, and that is why we
  decided on Tuesday, as Father doesn’t expect to be in town again
  next week.

  “It seems rather soon to ask you to visit me, when school only
  closed last Thursday, but Mother expects a lot of visitors in
  July, and in August I expect to go to my Aunt Maud’s at Magnolia.
  I do hope you won’t mind leaving your family so soon, but it
  really can’t be helped. If they make a fuss about letting you go,
  tell them you can be with them all the rest of the summer, and I
  really must have you now.

  “I have seen Ada once since I came here. The Godfreys have a
  lovely place right out on the Point. I haven’t been inside the
  house yet, but expect to soon, for Mrs. Godfrey has organized
  a branch of the Red Cross, and we are to meet at her house two
  mornings a week. Ada is tremendously excited over the naval
  station and the submarine base. We see sailors everywhere, and
  yesterday afternoon a submarine did ‘stunts’ right in front of
  our place. It was very interesting to watch, but I must say, I
  shouldn’t have liked to be on board. My Cousin Stephen dined with
  us last evening, and brought a friend with him--a nice boy from
  Virginia, who speaks with a fascinating Southern accent.

  “Mother is calling me to hurry, so I must close. Be sure not to
  disappoint me by saying you can’t come on Tuesday, and, with
  heaps of love, believe me,

        “Your sincere friend,
                “MOLLY CHESTER.”

“I would love to go,” said Gretel, “but I wish Molly had asked me for
later in the summer.”

“I think, on the whole, that this may be rather the best time for
you to go,” said Mrs. Douaine. “You will be spared that long journey
from Washington, and by the time you join us there, we shall be all
settled. Percy expects to be going back and forth between New York and
Washington all summer, so I am sure we can arrange to have you meet him
here at the end of your visit. Do you suppose the Barlows will go?”

As if in answer to Mrs. Douaine’s question, the butler appeared at
that moment, to announce that Miss Gretel was wanted on the telephone.
Gretel hurried away, returning in a few moments with the joyful news
that Jerry and Geraldine were both going to accept Molly’s invitation,
and would be ready to join Mr. Chester at the station on Tuesday

“Geraldine says she wouldn’t have gone if they hadn’t asked Jerry,
too,” Gretel added, laughing. “I wonder if all twins are as devoted as
the Barlows?”

“Well, then, it is all settled, I suppose,” said Mrs. Douaine, “so we
may as well get that telegram off to Molly as soon as possible. I am
glad you are going to have a couple of weeks of sea air before settling
down to the Washington heat.”

The day that followed was a very busy one. Mrs. Douaine good-naturedly
put aside all her own many engagements, and devoted herself and her
time to Gretel’s affairs. There was a delightful shopping expedition
in the morning, which resulted in the purchase of various additions to
Gretel’s wardrobe, including a pretty sport suit, and a jaunty sailor

“It seems as if I had about everything in the world that a girl could
possibly want,” said Gretel, gratefully, as they left the milliner’s
shop. “Do you really think you ought to spend any more money on me just
now, when so many people are suffering?”

Gretel was very much in earnest, but Mrs. Douaine declared that she was
not spending any more money than she considered necessary, and Gretel,
who was a very human girl, after all, and loved pretty clothes, stifled
her scruples, and thoroughly enjoyed the morning’s shopping. In the
afternoon they attended a bazaar in aid of the Belgian sufferers, and
in the evening Mrs. Douaine took her sister-in-law to hear a French
woman talk of her work in the devastated regions. The next morning
there was Gretel’s trunk to be packed, and a few last purchases to be
made, and almost before she realized it, the girl found herself in the
car with her sister-in-law, on the way to the station.

“Wasn’t that Dora’s sister I saw you talking with in the hall?” Mrs.
Douaine asked, as she settled back in the car for a short rest.

“Yes,” said Gretel, “it was Lillie. She came to tell Dora they had
received a postal from Peter. His ship is off. You know the boys are
only allowed to notify their families after they have sailed. Poor
Lillie was quite upset. She is devoted to Peter.”

“Poor boy,” said Mrs. Douaine, with a sigh; “he seems so young to go. I
am surprised that his father did not prevent it. He’s under age.”

“He isn’t seventeen yet,” said Gretel, the tears starting to her eyes.
“Oh, Barbara, it seems almost wicked to be going away to have a good
time, when so many people we know are in such dreadful trouble. I
almost wish I wasn’t going.”

“Don’t be morbid, dear,” Mrs. Douaine said, kindly, laying her hand on
Gretel’s as she spoke. “Remember Dr. Townsend’s sermon last Sunday. We
must keep sane; it is the only way to help. I want you to be just as
cheerful and happy as you can on this visit. We none of us know what
may be before us, and we must be strong and ready to bear whatever may
happen, but in the meantime there is no reason why we should not be
reasonably happy.”

Gretel felt somehow comforted by her sister-in-law’s words, and it was
a very bright face which greeted the Barlow twins and their mother at
the station. They had been watching for her at the entrance to the big

Mrs. Barlow was a pale, nervous little woman, and when Gretel and
her sister-in-law arrived, she was in the midst of a long list of
admonitions to the twins, who, truth to tell, were not paying very much
attention to their mother’s warnings.

“You will be careful about bathing, won’t you, Jerry?” she pleaded,
“and promise me not to swim out too far? I am so afraid of those
motor-boats, too. I know the Chesters must have one, so many people do.
I wish you would promise not to go in it, but I suppose there isn’t
any use asking you to. Aren’t you afraid of motor-boats, Barbara?” she
added, turning to Mrs. Douaine.

“Not a bit,” her friend answered, cheerfully. “Besides, both the twins
swim like fish, so why worry? I am sure the Chesters will take good
care of their guests.”

Mrs. Barlow looked somewhat relieved, but not altogether satisfied.

“I hate to have the children go away again so soon,” she complained.
“I never would have given my consent if Mr. Barlow hadn’t been so busy
with war work that I don’t see much prospect of our getting out of town
for ages.”

“I do wish Mother hadn’t given up Mental Science,” Geraldine whispered
to Gretel. “We were all so comfortable while she was a Mental
Scientist. She gave it up after Jerry had pneumonia. She said he never
would have had it if she had taken better care of him, and made him
wear rubbers in bad weather. Oh, here comes Mr. Chester. I saw him at
Molly’s party last Christmas.” And Gretel hurried forward to announce
their arrival to her friend’s father.

Mr. Chester, a gray-haired gentleman with spectacles, greeted the party
very pleasantly, and after a few moments of chatting with the ladies,
carried the three young people off to the waiting train. As they passed
through the ticket gate, Mrs. Barlow’s last “Now do be sure to take
good care of yourselves, children,” was still ringing in their ears.

It was just as the train was moving out of the station that a sudden
recollection caused Gretel to utter an exclamation of dismay.

“Good gracious!” she gasped. “I forgot all about Fräulein.”

“What about her?” inquired Geraldine in surprise.

“Why, I was to have gone to tea at her aunt’s this afternoon. I never
once thought of it since Molly’s invitation came. Oh, what shall I do?”

“I don’t see that you can do anything about it except write a note,
telling her you are sorry you forgot,” said Geraldine. “Don’t look as
if something tragic had happened. It isn’t such a terrible crime to
forget an invitation to afternoon tea.”

“I think it is rather tragic, though,” said Gretel, smiling ruefully.
“I ought to have telephoned yesterday. Fräulein is so sensitive; she
will be sure to think I did it on purpose. The worst of it is, I really
didn’t want to go in the first place, and I am afraid she noticed it.”

“Well, it can’t be helped now, anyway,” said cheerful Geraldine. “You
can write a note this evening, and she’ll have it to-morrow. Isn’t it
great to be off on a journey by ourselves, and going to Molly’s? I’d
rather visit Molly Chester than any girl I know except you. Wasn’t it
dear of them to ask Jerry?”

Gretel said no more on the subject, but she still looked rather grave
and troubled. She had a very kind heart, and the thought of having
hurt any one’s feelings by any carelessness or neglect of her own,
was really painful to her. But it was impossible to resist the high
spirits of the Barlow twins, and she was soon chatting and laughing as
much as any of the party. The journey proved a very pleasant one, for
Mr. Chester was a most agreeable traveling companion. He seemed what
Geraldine described in a letter to her mother, “A very understanding
person.” He told amusing stories, bought chocolates from the man who
sold candy on the train, and treated them all to ginger-ale from the
dining-car. Before they reached their destination, Jerry had confided
to his sister that their host was “a jolly good sort,” and that he
considered Paul Chester a mighty lucky fellow to have “such a sport”
for his father.

It was six o’clock when they reached New London, and found Molly
waiting for them at the station.

“This is just too nice for words,” she exclaimed, leading the way to
the Chesters’ big touring-car, after giving her friends a rapturous
greeting. “I was so afraid you wouldn’t be able to come at such short
notice. Kitty is coming to-morrow. Her family are going to motor her
over from Stockbridge. You have no idea how excited Paul is about your
coming, Jerry. He would have been at the station, but he has to study
with a tutor every afternoon from four to six. He had scarlet fever in
the spring, you know, and it put him back in his lessons.”

The Barlows had been to New London before, but it was Gretel’s first
visit to the old town, and she looked about her with eager eyes, as the
car rolled through the narrow streets.

“I love the salt, fishy smell,” she declared. “It makes me think of
ships, and traveling, and all sorts of interesting things.”

“I hope you don’t think it’s all as ugly as this,” said Molly. “It’s
quite different out at the Point, where our house is.”

It certainly was quite different, and as they turned in at the
Chesters’ gate, and saw the beautiful harbor lying almost at their
feet, not only Gretel, but the twins as well, uttered an exclamation of

“I didn’t know any house could be quite so close to the water,” said
Gretel. “Why, one could almost throw a stone off the piazza into the

“Is that a battle-ship right out there?” Jerry inquired, with deep

“Yes,” said Molly. “She has been there since yesterday, and it’s very
interesting, for we can hear the bells on board, and the bugle calls,
too, and see the sailors drilling. There are Mother and Paul on the

Mrs. Chester was a bright, sweet-faced woman, with a cordial, winning
manner, which put people at their ease at once, and her greeting to
the three guests was so hearty that, even if they had been disposed
to feel shy, their shyness would have been speedily dispelled. Jerry
was promptly carried off to the third floor by Paul Chester, a
bright-looking boy of twelve, and his younger brother Frank, and Molly
took her two girl friends to their room.

“We are going to have you room together,” she said, pausing at the door
of a large, pleasant room on the second floor. “The house isn’t very
large, so we have to double up. Kitty will room with me, and Paul is
to be with the boys in their own special sanctum up-stairs. There is
another guest-room, but we are expecting Aunt Dulcie on Saturday.”

“Is that the aunt who writes books?” Gretel asked.

“Yes, and she is the dearest person in the world. I know you will both
be crazy about her. She is Stephen’s mother, you know, and she is
coming here so as to be near him while he is at the naval station. She
is so full of fun, and so interested in everything we do, you would
never suppose she was so awfully clever.”

“Mother has just been reading her new book,” said Geraldine--“the
one that went into so many editions, you know--and she said it was
wonderful. I have never met a real author in my life, have you, Gretel?”

“No,” said Gretel, “but I have met a good many musicians, and they
are not very different from other people, so I don’t suppose authors
are, either, when one gets to know them. I shall be very glad to meet
Molly’s aunt, for everybody says her books are delightful.”

“How far is the Godfreys’ house from here?” Geraldine inquired, going
over to the open window for another look out on that fascinating

“Only a few houses away,” Molly answered, “but you can’t see it from
here. Ada stopped in for a minute this morning, to find out if you
girls were coming. You will see her to-morrow when we go over there to
do Red Cross work. Mother said she was sure you wouldn’t mind helping.”

“Of course we won’t mind,” declared Geraldine, and Gretel added:

“I am so glad there is some work we can do.”

“Oh, there is plenty to do,” Molly assured her. “Everybody is doing
something. One old lady knitted all through the sermon last Sunday, and
the clergyman didn’t object at all. They say he gave out in church a
few Sundays ago that if the ladies wanted to knit during the service,
he was quite willing, but Mother says if we work in the mornings we
may have the afternoons free to do just what we like. She thinks we
are entitled to a little fun after studying so hard all winter. Now I
am going to leave you to wash up while I change my dress for dinner.
We dine at seven, and Steve is coming over from the naval station. I’m
crazy to have you both meet him; he is such an old dear.”

“Aren’t you glad you’re here, Gretel?” exclaimed Geraldine, drawing in
a long breath of the delicious salt breeze, as she joined her friend
at the window a few minutes later. “It reminds me a little bit of Old
Point, doesn’t it you?”

“A little, but not very much. Geraldine, do you suppose the men on that
ship out there really want to give their lives for their country?”

“I don’t know, but I suppose a good many of them do. How plainly we can
see them. It’s very interesting, but if we were Germans I don’t suppose
we would be allowed to come here. We might find out things, you know.
I read in the paper the other day that the Germans are to be debarred
from all water-fronts.”

Gretel was silent, but stood gazing out over the water to the opposite
shore. It was all very lovely and peaceful, but those men on the
battle-ship--were they going to kill and be killed? Involuntarily she
gave a little shudder.

“What’s the matter?” Geraldine inquired in surprise.

“Nothing, only--Geraldine, I’m afraid I’m a dreadful coward.”

“Nonsense,” laughed Geraldine. “Jerry wouldn’t have any use for a
coward, and he thinks you the nicest girl he knows. What ever put such
a silly idea into your head?”

“I don’t know. I hope I should be brave when the time came, but if I
had a father or brother going to the war, I don’t believe I could bear
it. Why, even saying good-bye to Peter Grubb made me terribly unhappy.
I don’t like even to think of those strange sailors out there going
to fight. I’ve been a coward all my life about everything. Why, don’t
you remember when I was a little girl, and found out that I had taken
Barbara’s opera ticket, I was afraid to confess, but wrote a silly
letter, and tried to run away.”

“You were only a kid then,” said Geraldine. “A kid might do anything
silly. You may think you’re a coward, and perhaps you aren’t very brave
in little things, but if anything really big ever happened, and you had
to show courage, I am perfectly certain you’d be all right. Here comes
the express wagon with our trunks. I’m so glad, for now we shall be
able to change our dresses before dinner.”



The Chester family were all gathered on the broad piazza when Gretel
and Geraldine came down-stairs dressed for dinner. Jerry had also
reappeared and was deeply absorbed in conversation with Paul and Frank
on the subject of various kinds of fish bait. Molly was the eldest of
the four children, the boys came next, and the youngest, Daisy, was a
pretty golden-haired child of five, who, at the present moment, was
comfortably settled on her father’s knee, listening entranced to a
story about a princess and a dwarf.

“Father always tells her a story before bedtime,” Molly told her
friends. “I’m afraid we all spoil her dreadfully, but she is so much
younger than the rest of us, and it was such a joy to have a baby in
the house again.”

“I am glad her name is Daisy,” said Geraldine. “When I was little my
two great unfulfilled desires were that my name should be Daisy, and
that I should have golden curls. I hope your little sister will make
friends with me; I adore babies.”

“Oh, she will, never fear. You may find her altogether too friendly
before you have been here many days. Her real name is Margaret. She was
named for a sister of Mother’s, who died when she was a young girl, but
she was always called Daisy, so our baby is Daisy, too.”

At that moment the story came to an end, and Miss Daisy was sent off
to bed, much against her will, and then dinner was announced, and they
all rose to go indoors, Mrs. Chester remarking that there was no use in
waiting for Stephen, as just as likely as not he might not be able to
get off at all.

“He did get off, though, for here he comes,” said Molly, as the sound
of an approaching automobile fell upon their ears, and in another
moment a small two-seated car had turned in at the gate.

Molly had talked so much about this cousin of hers that it was not
surprising that Gretel and Geraldine both felt considerable curiosity
about him. Indeed, Geraldine had privately informed Gretel while they
were dressing for dinner that she was quite prepared to be disappointed
in him, because people one heard so much about generally did prove
disappointing. But when the tall young ensign sprang from the car, and
came bounding up the steps, even Geraldine was forced to admit that
Molly had not said too much in his favor. He certainly was one of the
handsomest, most distinguished-looking young men she had ever seen.

Stephen Cranston was the son of a sister of Mrs. Chester’s, and as
they were very devoted, their children had been brought up almost like
brothers and sisters. Consequently, Stephen was very much at home in
his aunt’s house, and not only never hesitated to descend upon the
family at any moment himself, but frequently brought a friend or two
along as well. He had a friend with him this evening, another young
ensign of about his own age, who appeared to be already known to the
Chesters, and was presented as Mr. Jimmy Fairfax of Virginia.

Mr. Jimmy Fairfax was not so good-looking as his friend, but he had a
pleasant, refined face, and spoke with a delightful Southern accent,
which at once captivated Geraldine. Mrs. Chester greeted both guests
cordially, and Molly hastened to present her two friends.

“These are the girls I told you I was expecting,” she said; “Geraldine
Barlow and Gretel Schiller.”

At the name Gretel Schiller, young Fairfax gave a slight start, and
Gretel noticed that he looked at her rather keenly as they shook hands.

“It’s because of my German name,” she told herself uncomfortably, but
the young man’s manner was perfectly calm and polite, and she soon
recovered from her slight embarrassment. In the meantime Stephen was
saying in a teasing undertone to his cousin:

“So you’ve got your little Pumpernickel friend here at last.”

Molly flushed indignantly, but before she could reply, Mrs. Chester
called them all to come in to dinner.

The Chesters were charming hosts, and before dinner was over all their
guests were feeling very much at home. Even Jerry--who was generally
painfully shy with strangers--quite forgot to be embarrassed, and found
himself sending Molly--who sat next to him--off into irrepressible
giggles over the story of a school scrap, in which he had figured as
one of the chief delinquents. They were all so happy and merry; there
was nothing but the uniforms of the two young men to remind them that
things were not all as they used to be. But it was impossible to keep
the conversation altogether away from the war, and before the meal was
half over Mr. Chester and Stephen were discussing submarines and the
possibility of a German blockade.

“Not much danger,” Stephen declared confidently. “When Uncle Sam once
takes a hand things are pretty sure to go right.” At which piece of
“Americanism” everybody laughed except Gretel, who suddenly became
aware of the fact that Mr. Jimmy Fairfax was looking at her again in
that same sharp, almost suspicious manner that she had noticed once

“He doesn’t like me,” she said to herself. “I suppose he’s one of those
people who hate everything German.”

Just then her ear was caught by something Molly was saying to her

“Is it true, Steve, that they have passed a law forbidding Germans to
come near the water-fronts?”

“Quite true, and a very good thing, too,” young Cranston answered.
“It’s about time we began to look after things a little better in this
country. We have been altogether too lenient. I don’t suppose people
have any idea of the amount of spy work that has been going on right
under our very noses.”

Gretel remembered what her brother had told her, and, for some
unaccountable reason, her heart began to beat rather uncomfortably
fast. It was foolish, of course, but somehow she couldn’t help being
almost glad she had not been able to keep that appointment with

After dinner they all went out on the piazza and watched the lights
in the harbor until some one proposed to sail up the river in the
motor-boat. The suggestion was eagerly accepted, and in less than ten
minutes the whole party, with the exception of Mrs. Chester, who was
tired, and Frank, who, being only eleven, was still considered too
young to be up after nine o’clock, were gliding up the river in the
Chesters’ comfortable launch.

“This is the Thames, where they have the big Harvard-Yale boat-race
every June,” Molly told Gretel. “There won’t be any race this year,
though, on account of the war. Steve was on the Harvard crew last year,
and it was tremendously exciting.”

Gretel could not repress a sigh. Those boys seemed so young, so much,
more fitted for college boat-races than for the grim work of war.

“Were you sorry to leave college?” she asked Stephen, impulsively.

“Sorry!” cried the young man; “you bet I wasn’t sorry. I’ve been wild
to get into this war ever since the invasion of Belgium. It’s about
time we Americans did something to lick the Germans.”

“Take care what you say, Steve,” warned his friend from the opposite
seat. “Miss Schiller may not care to hear about licking Germans.”

The words were courteous, but the tone reminded Gretel of Ada
Godfrey’s. She opened her lips to speak, but before she could utter a
word Jerry’s clear treble had broken in on the conversation.

“Gretel isn’t any more German than you are, even if she has got a
German name,” he declared. “She’s just as good an American as any of
us; aren’t you, Gretel?”

“Yes,” said Gretel; “at least I hope I am. My father was a German,
though,” she added truthfully.

“Well, he’s been dead for ever so long,” maintained Jerry, “and,
anyhow, he wasn’t like these Germans nowadays. I’ve seen his picture,
and he looks so kind you wouldn’t believe he could hurt a fly.”

“He was kind,” said Gretel, a little tremulously. “He was one of the
best and kindest men who ever lived.”

Nobody spoke for a moment, and there was a rather uncomfortable pause,
which Mr. Chester broke by asking Jimmy Fairfax a question on some
irrelevant subject. They were soon chatting pleasantly again, but
several members of the party did not forget the little incident.

“Well, how do you like Steve?” demanded Molly, coming into her friend’s
room when their guests had left and they all had gone up-stairs. “Did I
say too much about his good looks?”

“Not one bit too much,” Geraldine assured her. “He’s one of the
handsomest boys I have ever seen. I like him, too; he’s so pleasant
and doesn’t treat me like a kid, just because my hair isn’t up yet.
Didn’t you like him, Gretel?”

“Very much, indeed,” responded Gretel, with a vivid recollection of the
kind, understanding look Stephen Cranston had given her as he helped
her out of the motor-boat.

“And the best of it is,” continued Molly, “Steve is just as nice as he
looks. He takes after his mother. Wait till you see Aunt Dulcie.”

“She’s a widow, isn’t she?” inquired Geraldine, who had heard something
of Molly’s literary aunt.

“Yes; Stephen is her only child. Her husband died when Steve was a
little boy, and he and his mother are everything to each other. Uncle
George didn’t leave much money, and at first Aunt Dulcie had a rather
hard time. She had to keep house for Uncle George’s father, who was a
very cross, disagreeable old gentleman, and things were quite horrid,
but Mother says Aunt Dulcie never once lost her grit. Of course,
Mother and Aunt Maud helped her all they could, but Aunt Dulcie was
very proud, and she hated taking things from people, even her own
sisters. It was a long time before the publishers realized how talented
she was, but now they are all crazy to get her things, and I saw in
a newspaper last spring that she is spoken of as one of the leading
novelists of the day. Steve is tremendously proud of his mother, as,
indeed, we all are.”

“It must be terribly hard for your aunt to let her son go to the war,”
said Gretel.

“Of course it is, frightfully hard, but Aunt Dulcie isn’t the kind
of person to shirk what she considers her duty. I believe she would
rather see Steve dead than have him not want to go. Her eyes look
dreadfully sad sometimes, but she’s always so bright and full of fun
that strangers wouldn’t suppose she had a care in the world. You’ll see
what I mean when she comes.”

“It must be wonderful to be brave,” remarked Gretel, breaking a rather
long silence, when Molly had gone away to her own room and she and
Geraldine were preparing for bed. “I’m afraid I could never be like
that aunt of Molly’s.”

“We never know what we may do till we are tried,” said Geraldine,
practically. “If a time ever comes when you have to be brave I guess
you’ll manage all right. But I don’t see any use of worrying about
things that may never happen.”

Gretel laughed in spite of herself. Geraldine always did her good when
she was disposed to be sentimental or morbid.

“I don’t believe you ever worry about anything,” she said a little

“No, I don’t,” returned Geraldine. “Mother worries enough for the whole
family put together. What are you going to do now? Not write a letter
at this time of night? It’s long after ten.”

“I must write just a few lines to Fräulein,” said Gretel. “I’m afraid
she thinks me very rude. I would like to get my letter off in the
morning mail.”

“Oh, yes; I suppose you will have to explain,” said Geraldine, yawning.
“Don’t make it too long, though, for I’m sleepy, and I never can get to
sleep till the light is out.”

“Shall I say you send your love?” Gretel asked, as she seated herself
at the desk and selected a pen and a sheet of note paper.

Geraldine hesitated.

“You can say I send kindest remembrances,” she compromised. “I hate
sending love to people I really don’t love at all.”

Gretel laughed.

“No one can ever accuse you of being anything but honest, Geraldine,”
she said. “Poor old Fräulein; I really don’t see why you never cared
more about her. It does worry me to think I should have forgotten about
this afternoon.”

Notwithstanding her “worrying,” however, Gretel slept very well, and
awoke next morning quite ready to enjoy life.

“We have to spend the morning working for the Red Cross,” Molly
explained at breakfast, “but this afternoon we can bathe and either
play tennis or go for a motor ride. Kitty wrote she wouldn’t be here
before six, at any rate. It’s a long ride from Stockbridge over here.
Her family are going to spend a couple of weeks at Narragansett and
will drop her here as they go through.”

It was a lovely summer morning, and soon after breakfast Mrs. Chester
and the three girls started for the Red Cross meeting at the Godfreys’.
A five minutes’ walk brought them to the house, which, like the
Chesters’, was close to the water. Ada was watching from the piazza,
and came running across the lawn to greet her friends.

“I am so glad you were able to come,” she said, kissing Geraldine
affectionately. “I am going to have a house party next week, and
there’s lots of fun going on. Did Molly tell you about the dance at The
Griswold on the Fourth? Mother says I can go and take my party, and
Mrs. Chester is going to take all of you. They say a lot of boys from
the naval station will be there, and it will be very gay.”

Ada’s manner was very cordial, but sensitive Gretel could not help
fancying that there was a difference in her manner when she turned
from Geraldine to herself, and particularly when presenting her to her
mother as “my friend, Gretel Schiller.”

Mrs. Godfrey, a stout, energetic woman, with a loud, decided voice,
received the visitors kindly, and the girls were introduced to several
other ladies who had already arrived for the morning’s work. More
people appeared, and they were soon all busy folding bandages and
making surgical dressings.

Gretel was skillful with her fingers and eager to learn, and before
the morning was over she had won golden opinions from many of the
workers. It would all have been very pleasant if Mrs. Godfrey and one
of the other ladies had not begun entertaining the party with stories
of German atrocities, ending in what they both declared to be a true
account of ground glass having been found in some surgical dressings
which had been sent in by a branch of the Red Cross.

“Of course, some German did it,” Ada’s mother stated positively.
“People should be more careful whom they allow to work. I have heard of
one branch who will not accept any work done by a person even having a
German name.”

Gretel felt her cheeks tingle, but kept her eyes steadily bent on her
work, and so quite failed to notice the quick, warning glance that Ada
cast at her mother. But the next words she heard were in Mrs. Chester’s
kind voice.

“That seems to me a little unfair. Many people with German names are
quite as good Americans as we are.”

“I wouldn’t trust one of them,” declared another lady, who, to do
her justice, had no idea there was any one present having a German
name. And she immediately launched forth into another story of German
treachery, if possible, even more shocking than the last.

“Well, it wasn’t so bad, after all, was it?” remarked Molly,
cheerfully, as they were walking home to luncheon.

“I liked it,” said Geraldine. “It’s nice to feel we are doing
something, even if it’s only a little. I’m afraid I was very stupid
and clumsy, though. You did wonderfully, Gretel.”

“She did, indeed,” chimed in Mrs. Chester. “Is this your first
experience, Gretel?”

Gretel admitted modestly that it was.

“Gretel is very clever,” said Molly. “You should have seen the socks
she knit at school. I suppose it’s Ger---- I mean some people are
cleverer with their fingers than others.”

As they approached the house Gretel fell behind with Mrs. Chester,
while Molly and Geraldine hurried on to join the boys, who were just
finishing an exciting game of tennis. There was something she felt she
must say, but it was not easy to begin.

“Do you play tennis?” Mrs. Chester asked, merely for the sake of saying
something, for she noticed that the girl looked troubled.

“Yes, a little, but--but, Mrs. Chester, may I ask you something?”

“Certainly, dear; anything you like,” said Mrs. Chester, kindly. “What
is it?”

“It’s about--about what those ladies were talking of,” faltered
Gretel, with crimson cheeks. “Do you believe any German really did that
dreadful thing--about the ground glass, you know?”

“I try not to believe such stories,” Mrs. Chester answered gravely.
“I know that many of them are entirely untrue and others grossly
exaggerated. Still, dreadful things have undoubtedly happened.”

“I know,” said Gretel, simply. “I have been thinking of what Mrs.
Godfrey said about people with German names. Perhaps they would rather
not have me work with them. I shouldn’t like to do anything that would
make you or Molly uncomfortable.”

“My dear child, you surely don’t attach any importance to such foolish
talk!” said Mrs. Chester, smiling. “We all know that many of our most
loyal citizens have German names.”

Gretel looked very much relieved.

“Thank you,” she said, earnestly. “I was just a little afraid----” she
did not finish her sentence, for at that moment Molly called to them
that it was only half-past twelve, and if they hurried there would be
time for a sea bath before luncheon.

The afternoon that followed was a very pleasant one, and in her healthy
enjoyment of her new surroundings Gretel soon forgot the discomfort of
the morning. They did not see the Godfreys again that day, but Kitty
Sharp arrived in time for dinner, and the four friends spent a very
merry evening together. Mrs. Chester had heard of Gretel’s music, and
after dinner she asked her to play, which the girl was always pleased
to do, and for nearly an hour she sat at the piano, playing the dear
old things she loved, while Mr. and Mrs. Chester listened with real
pleasure and admiration.

“You are a very talented young lady,” Mr. Chester said, smiling kindly,
as Gretel rose from the piano. “Very few girls of your age play as well
as you do. You must have had excellent teachers.”

“I have studied for the past three years at school,” said Gretel, “but
my father gave me my first lessons before I was six. I always feel as
if I owe everything I know to him.”

“Your father was a great musician,” said Mrs. Chester; “you have reason
to be proud of him.”

“I am proud of him,” said Gretel, with shining eyes, and she suddenly
felt happier than she had done all day.

“I like that little girl, Molly,” Mr. Chester said to his wife, when
Gretel had gone to join her friends on the piazza. “There is something
so honest and straightforward about her, and she is remarkably modest
for a girl with so much talent.”

“Poor child,” sighed Mrs. Chester; “I am afraid she is painfully
sensitive. Some of the women at the Red Cross meeting to-day were
telling stories of those horrible atrocities--you know the sort of
thing I mean--and Gretel evidently took them very much to heart. It
really is unfortunate that she should have such an unmistakably German

“Come and listen to the music,” said Molly, as Gretel stepped out on to
the cool piazza. “The men on the battle-ship are singing war songs,
and we can hear them quite plainly; it’s so still to-night. They’ve
just finished ‘The Long, Long Trail.’”

It was very still, as Molly had said, and in a few moments the singing
began again, the chorus of men’s voices sounding out sweet and clear
over the silent harbor. The four girls sat listening to one well-known
song after another: “Tipperary,” “Bid Me Good-Bye With a Smile,”
and “Keep the Home Fires Burning.” It was too far away for them to
distinguish the words, but they all knew the tunes, and by and by they
began to sing themselves. But though Gretel was fond of singing, and
had a fairly good little voice of her own, she did not join in the
choruses, as usual.

“Why don’t you sing, Gretel?” Geraldine asked at last. “You know ‘Over
There,’ don’t you?”

“Yes, I know it,” Gretel answered, softly; “but I don’t feel just like
singing to-night. I’m thinking about those boys on the ship. They sound
so merry and happy, just as if war were nothing but a big joke. And
yet, in a little while, they may all be fighting, and perhaps----”
Gretel paused, abruptly, with an only half-suppressed sob.

“I don’t believe they think very much about serious things,” said Kitty.

“Some of them do, I am sure,” said Gretel, unsteadily, “but when people
are brave they can pretend not to mind things, and help others by being
cheerful. I think to be brave is one of the grandest things in the

“Even greater than being a great musician like your father?” Kitty

“Yes, even greater than that,” said Gretel, gravely.

Just then Jerry and Paul, who had been spending the evening at one of
the neighbors’, returned, and in a few minutes Mrs. Chester called them
all indoors.

When they awoke the next morning the big battle-ship was no longer to
be seen. She had slipped quietly out to sea during the night.



“Mother wants to know if any one would like to go into New London with
her,” said Molly, coming into Gretel’s and Geraldine’s room, on the
following Saturday afternoon. “She’s going to the station to meet Aunt
Dulcie, and has a little shopping to do first. She thought perhaps you
might like to go with her.”

“I’m going fishing with the boys,” said Geraldine. “I promised Jerry.
He says he hasn’t seen anything of me since we came here.”

“I’d like to go,” said Gretel, looking up from her knitting. “I want
to get some more wool for this helmet I’m making for your cousin. I’m
afraid I haven’t enough to finish it.”

“All right; I’ll tell Mother. I’d like to go myself, but Kitty has a
headache, and I’ve promised to stay at home with her. You and Steve
seem to be great friends, Gretel.”

“I like him,” said Gretel, simply. “He’s so kind and polite, and when
he asked me to make a helmet for him, I was glad to do it.”

Molly laughed.

“It’s rather a joke,” she said, “considering the way he used to tease
me about you.”

“Why did he tease you about me?” Gretel inquired, in surprise.

Molly looked a little embarrassed.

“Oh, it was all nonsense, of course,” she said. “It was on account of
your name, you know. You see, I used to talk a good deal about you, and
he got into the way of calling you--you won’t be offended if I tell
you, will you?”

“Not a bit,” promised Gretel, laughing. “What did he call me?”

“Well, I’m afraid it wasn’t a very pretty name, but then, you know, he
had never seen you, and hadn’t any idea what you were like. He always
spoke of you as ‘Miss Pumpernickel.’”

Gretel and Geraldine both laughed heartily, and Gretel declared Stephen
might call her “Miss Pumpernickel” as often as he liked, because she
was sure he didn’t mean anything unkind.

“It’s different when people say things in a disagreeable way,” she
added, growing grave again.

“I know what you mean,” said Molly, understanding. “I think Ada Godfrey
was perfectly disgusting the way she spoke to those girls yesterday
afternoon, when we were over at her place playing tennis. It sounded as
if she were apologizing for your name being German. Kitty and I both
noticed it.”

“I noticed it, too,” said Geraldine, “and I felt like giving Ada a
piece of my mind afterwards. I would have done it, if Gretel hadn’t
begged me not to.”

“Oh, where is the use?” said Gretel, smiling a little sadly. “We can’t
help it if people like to say disagreeable things, and it only makes
it worse if we seem to notice. How soon is your mother going to start,

“In about half an hour. Aunt Dulcie is coming on the Boston train that
gets here at half-past five. She’s been staying with Aunt Maud in
Magnolia. I’ll tell Mother you’ll be ready to go with her,” and Molly
hurried away.

“You really are a very broad-minded person, Gretel,” remarked Geraldine
when Molly had left the room. “Things don’t seem to make you angry, as
they do other people, and you always make allowances.”

“I often feel angry inside,” Gretel admitted, honestly, “but I try not
to let people see it. After all, every one has a right to express an
opinion, and it’s only natural Ada should hate the Germans.”

Gretel had only been at the Chesters’ four days, but she already felt
thoroughly at home with the whole family. She had taken a great fancy
to kind, cheerful Mrs. Chester, and the thought of the short drive with
her was very pleasant. So it was with a very light heart that she ran
down-stairs half an hour later to join her hostess at the front door.

The drive was as pleasant as she had anticipated, but it was a very hot
afternoon, and as they neared the town the little sea breeze, which
had prevented people on the Point from realizing quite how hot it was,
entirely died out.

“This heat is really unbearable,” Mrs. Chester declared, as the car
turned into the crowded main street. “We will hurry with our shopping,
and perhaps have time for a little turn before the train comes.
Motoring is about the pleasantest thing one can do on a day like this.
You may stop the car right here in the shade, Thomas, and Miss Gretel
and I will get out. Now, dear, suppose you do your errand while I
attend to a little Saturday marketing, and then we can both come back
here. I think you may find your wool at one of those shops on the other
side of the street.”

New London streets had seldom been more crowded than on that Saturday
afternoon. Besides the usual number of Saturday shoppers, there were
many strangers, who had motored into town, and a goodly sprinkling of
sailors from the naval station. The streets were lined with motors, and
people pushed and jostled each other on the narrow sidewalks. It was a
good-natured crowd, however, and Gretel found it rather entertaining.
She was obliged to try several shops before finding what she wanted,
and was just coming out of a big dry-goods store, with her parcel, when
she almost collided with a man who appeared to be lounging idly against
the open doorway. He moved aside, murmuring a word of apology, and at
the same moment something vaguely familiar in his face caused Gretel to
look at him more attentively. In another second she had uttered a cry
of joyful recognition, and was holding out both hands to the stranger.

“Fritz, Fritz Lippheim, is it really you?”

In the excitement of that recognition, Gretel had forgotten the war,
Germany, everything in the world except the one joyful fact that here
was her father’s dear old friend, the man who had been so kind to her
when she was a little girl. At the sound of her voice, however, the
stranger had drawn back suddenly, and was now regarding her with an
expression of mingled surprise and embarrassment.

“I beg your pardon,” he said, stiffly; “I think you are under a
mistake. My name--good heavens! I believe it’s little Gretel Schiller!”

“Of course it is!” laughed Gretel. “Oh, Fritz, you don’t know how glad
I am to see you. I’ve been wanting to hear something about you and dear
Mrs. Lippheim for years and years. My sister-in-law and I tried to find
you once, but you had moved, and no one could give us your address. Do
tell me about everything. How is your mother?”

A shade of sadness crossed the man’s troubled face.

“My mother is dead,” he answered. “She died nearly three years ago.”

“Oh, Fritz, I am so sorry!” The tears started to Gretel’s eyes. “I
always hoped I should see her again some time. She was so good to me
always, especially after Father died. I wanted to thank you both for
all you did for me then, and so did my brother and sister-in-law.”

Fritz Lippheim glanced uneasily up and down the crowded street.

“I would never have recognized you if you had not spoken, Gretel,” he
said. “Why, you are quite grown-up.”

“I am fifteen,” said Gretel. “I was only ten when you saw me last, but
I would have known you anywhere. Can’t we go somewhere where it isn’t
quite so crowded? I want to ask you about so many things. I have just
seen the lady I am with go into that market, so I know she won’t be
through her shopping for a few minutes longer.”

For a moment the man hesitated; then he led the way round a corner,
into one of the quiet side streets.

“Now that I look at you more closely,” he said, “I can see a strong
resemblance to the little Gretel of five years ago. Are you living in
New London?”

“No,” said Gretel; “I am only visiting here. I live in New York, with
my brother and his wife. You remember my half-brother, Percy Douaine,
who was in China when Father died. He came home the next year, and
took me to live with him. It was all quite like a Cinderella story,
for I wasn’t very happy with Mrs. Marsh and her daughter, and Percy
made everything so wonderful and beautiful for me. Now he is married to
one of the dearest women in the world, and I am just as happy as I can
be--or would be if it were not for this terrible war.”

“Oh, yes, the war; the war has changed many things,” said Fritz
Lippheim, with a sigh. “I am sometimes glad to think the little Mother
did not live to see these sad days. I suppose you are quite an American

“Oh, yes,” said Gretel; “we are all good Americans, of course. But I am
afraid I mustn’t stand talking any longer. My friend may be looking
for me. Can’t we meet again somewhere?”

Fritz Lippheim shook his head.

“I fear not,” he said. “War changes many things, as I said before. My
business here is of rather a private nature, and--may I ask a favor of
you, little Gretel?”

“Certainly,” said Gretel, her face falling. “I will do anything I can
for you, Fritz, for the sake of the dear old days.”

“It is merely that you will not mention to any of your friends that you
have met me. We may meet again in happier times, when I can explain,
but at present I cannot say any more.”

Gretel’s heart gave a great bound of fear, and then sank down, down
like lead. She hoped her old friend would not notice how startled she

“I won’t tell any one,” she said in a low, embarrassed voice. “I’m
sorry I spoke to you, if you didn’t want to be recognized, but I had no
idea----” Gretel paused abruptly, fearing the man would hear the tremor
in her voice.

Fritz Lippheim caught her hand impulsively.

“It isn’t that I am not pleased to see you, Gretel,” he said earnestly.
“Indeed, I am glad to find my little friend again, and to know that she
has not forgotten me, but there are reasons, important reasons, which
I cannot explain at present. Will you try to believe that, Gretel, and
not think too unkindly of poor old Fritz?”

His voice was so kind, and his smile reminded her so strongly of the
old friend of her childhood that Gretel’s face brightened.

“All right, Fritz,” she said in a very different tone. “Now, I must
hurry, or Mrs. Chester will be waiting for me.”

“Good-bye, little girl, and if we meet again here, or anywhere, you
will remember that we do not know each other?”

Gretel nodded; she could not trust herself to speak, and in another
moment she was hurrying back to the main street in quest of Mrs.

Mrs. Chester had finished her shopping, and was already in the car,
chatting with Jimmy Fairfax, who stood on the curb.

“Oh, I’m afraid I have kept you waiting!” apologized Gretel, rather
breathlessly. “I just went round the corner for a minute, and didn’t
see you come out of the market.”

“There is no hurry,” said Mrs. Chester, good-naturedly; “I have only
just finished my errands. Mr. Fairfax is telling me about the dance
they are going to have at The Griswold on the Fourth. All the sailors
from the station are to be there, and all the proceeds are to go for
the French Ambulance Corps. I must see about getting tickets at once.”


Mr. Fairfax and Gretel shook hands, but though pleasant enough in his
manner, Gretel could not help noticing that the young man was regarding
her in a rather peculiar manner. She was very silent during the short
drive that followed. Try as she might to fix her attention on what Mrs.
Chester was saying, her thoughts would insist on wandering back to
Fritz Lippheim and his strange request. There had never been anything
strange or mysterious about Fritz in the old days, when he came
to play his violin at her father’s studio. He had been just a kind,
simple young man, who loved children, and was devotedly attached to his
old mother. She had stayed with the Lippheims for a short time after
her father’s death, and would never forget their goodness to her. But
now--ah, it was quite true, war had indeed changed many things. What
could Fritz be doing here in New London that was of such a private
nature that he must not be recognized? Fritz was a German, born in
Berlin. Oh, what did it all mean? Gretel felt suddenly cold and sick
with apprehension.

“I think that is one reason why we sisters have been so very close to
each other all our lives,” Mrs. Chester was saying in her cheerful,
placid voice, and Gretel came back to her present surroundings with the
realization that she had not the slightest idea what her companion was
talking about.

“Yes, of course, it must be very lovely to have sisters,” she faltered,
as Mrs. Chester paused, evidently expecting a comment of some kind.
“Molly has told us about some of the funny times you used to have when
you were little girls. You knew Mr. Chester then, too, didn’t you?”

“Yes; he was a sort of connection of ours, and used to come and stay
at the old house on Washington Square. His grandmother had married our
grandfather, and we lived with her for some years after our mother
died. I shall never forget the day my sister Dulcie lured Paul and me
off to try to rescue a stolen child.” And Mrs. Chester was off again,
on another story, during which I fear Gretel’s thoughts wandered more
than once.

They reached the station just as the train was coming in, and in the
bustle and interest of meeting her sister Mrs. Chester quite forgot
Gretel’s inattentiveness, which, indeed, she had scarcely noticed.

Mrs. Chester’s “Literary Sister” was a tall lady, with a strong, clever
face, and a crisp, rather abrupt manner, but her eyes and voice were
kind, and her greeting to Gretel was a very hearty one.

“I am always so glad to meet any of Molly’s friends,” she said, as she
took her seat in the car, between her sister and Gretel. “You know,
Molly and I are great chums, despite the difference in our ages. We
keep up a steady correspondence all winter, and I really feel quite
intimate with all the girls at Miss Minton’s.”

“You will find two more of the Minton girls at the house,” said Mrs.
Chester; “Kitty Sharp and Geraldine Barlow. Geraldine’s twin brother is
with us, too.”

“I am glad; I like young people. How’s Steve?”

“Very well, and coming to dinner to-night. He would have been at the
station to meet you, but couldn’t get off duty. I hope you had a
comfortable journey.”

“It was broiling in the train, but I didn’t particularly mind. I was
absorbed in a book all the way, and there was an electric fan directly
over my seat, which gave some relief. What luxuries all these modern
inventions are!”

“They certainly are,” Mrs. Chester agreed. “I sometimes wonder how
people lived without the telephone.”

“Do you remember the first time we ever heard of a telephone?” Mrs.
Cranston said, smiling. “It was Paul who informed us that there was a
telephone at his home in Boston, and that his mother could talk to his
father at his office. We decided that it was a great pity such a nice
little boy as Paul should be so untruthful. I think Daisy prayed for
him.” Mrs. Cranston laughed over the old childish reminiscence, but her
face softened at the thought of the little sister who had died so many
years ago.

“I remember it well,” said Mrs. Chester, “and I also remember that
wonderful story you invented about the princess who possessed a magic
music-box that could sing as well as play. Paul has given me a new
victrola, by the way; the best we have ever had.”

The sisters chatted on pleasantly, but Gretel scarcely heard what
they said. Her thoughts were back in her father’s studio, and she was
recalling scene after scene, in which Fritz Lippheim had played his
part. As soon as she reached home she slipped away to her own room and,
sitting down in a rocking-chair by the open window, sat with folded
hands, staring straight before her, for the next half hour. She was
aroused at last by the entrance of Geraldine.

“Did you have a good time?” Gretel asked, trying to speak quite
naturally, as if nothing unusual had happened.

“Yes, fine,” Geraldine answered, tossing her hat on the bed and
subsiding wearily into a chair. “It was pretty hot, but I didn’t mind.
Jerry caught a three-pounder; pretty good, wasn’t it? I didn’t get a
bite myself, but I enjoyed sitting in the boat and watching the others.
I suppose you’ve seen the authoress?”

“Oh, yes, and she is very pleasant. She and Mrs. Chester reminisced all
the way home.”

“Did you succeed in getting your wool?”

Gretel gave a little start.

“Yes, I got it,” she said, “but--but I don’t seem to remember bringing
it home. It isn’t here anywhere, is it?” And she glanced anxiously
around the room.

“I don’t see it anywhere,” said Geraldine, rising. “Perhaps you put it
away when you came in.”

Gretel opened several bureau drawers, but there was no package to be

“I must have dropped it, or left it in the car,” she said. “Oh, I am
sorry, for it was hard work getting what I wanted, and I had to try
several shops.”

Geraldine looked puzzled.

“It isn’t a bit like you to forget things,” she said. “If it were I,
now; but you, of all people! And you were so anxious to get that wool,
too. What ever were you thinking about?”

Before Gretel could answer, there was a knock at the door and a maid
appeared with a small parcel in her hand.

“This was left in the car,” she explained. “Thomas found it, and Mrs.
Chester thinks it belongs to Miss Gretel.”

“Well, you didn’t lose it; that’s one comfort,” said Geraldine,
glancing at her friend’s flushed, troubled face, when the maid had left
the room. “You needn’t look so solemn about it. It isn’t a crime to
forget a parcel. I hope nothing disagreeable happened while you were
out. You didn’t meet Ada, did you?”

“Why, no,” said Gretel; “what made you think I had?”

“Oh, I don’t know. I just thought you might have met her, and she
might have been in one of her patriotic moods. She seems to think that
because she can’t go and shoot the Germans, it’s her duty to say all
the awful things about them that she can think of. I don’t suppose any
American approves of the dreadful things Germany has done, but we don’t
think it necessary to be rude to every one who happens to have a German
name. She’s got a boy cousin staying with her now, and Jerry and Paul
say he’s an awful kid; spoiled to death, by his mother, and thinks
he’s of more importance than anybody else, because his father was lost
on the _Lusitania_.”

“Poor boy,” said Gretel, with a sigh; “I don’t blame him for hating the
Germans. Oh, Geraldine, I think I realize more and more every day how
horribly cruel war is!” And, to Geraldine’s utter astonishment, Gretel
suddenly burst into tears.

Geraldine’s arms were round her friend’s neck in a moment.

“You poor darling!” she cried, kissing her; “I knew somebody had been
hurting your feelings; I just knew it! As if it were your fault that
your father happened to be a German! I’d just like to kill the people
who say unkind things to you.”

“Oh, hush, hush, Geraldine,” soothed Gretel, smiling through her tears.
“You mustn’t get so excited about nothing. No one has said anything
unkind. That isn’t why I’m crying. It’s because--oh, I can’t talk about
it, but war is so terrible! It makes even good people do things they
would be ashamed of at any other time. I’m frightened, Geraldine; I
suppose it’s foolish, but I can’t help being frightened.” Gretel laid
her head on her friend’s shoulder with a sob.

Geraldine soothed and comforted her as best she could, and in a few
minutes Gretel dried her eyes and began to dress for dinner. But though
she asked no more questions, Geraldine was not satisfied.

“Something did happen this afternoon,” she told herself with
conviction. “Gretel would never have cried like that for nothing.
Perhaps she’ll tell me about it by and by, but I don’t believe I’d
better say any more just now.”

But Gretel did not “tell her about it by and by.” She was very quiet
all the evening, and her friend’s efforts to discover the cause of the
trouble met with so little response that Geraldine began to feel a
little hurt. It was the first time in all the years of their friendship
that Gretel had ever had a secret in which Geraldine had not shared.



“Come down here, Jerry; I want to talk to you.”

Jerry Barlow swung himself down from the piazza railing, from whence
he had been watching the departure of a sailboat filled with Sunday
pleasure-seekers, and joined his sister on the lawn.

“What’s up?” he demanded curiously, for Geraldine’s face was serious.

Geraldine did not answer at once, but led the way across the lawn to a
little rustic summer-house, covered with blooming honeysuckle.

“I didn’t want to talk where any one could hear,” she explained. “Sit
down, and I’ll tell you. I’m worried about Gretel.”

“Worried about Gretel,” repeated Jerry, incredulously. “Why, there
isn’t anything the matter with her, is there? She looks all right to

“Oh, I don’t mean that she’s ill, or anything like that,” said
Geraldine. “I know she’s in some trouble, and she won’t tell me what it
is. It began yesterday afternoon, when she went to New London with Mrs.

“Why don’t you ask her what the matter is?” Jerry inquired,
practically. “I thought you two always told each other everything.”

Geraldine reddened.

“We always have,” she said; “at least, I always tell her everything,
and I thought she told me, but she won’t tell me about this. I’m afraid
she’s very unhappy.”

“What makes you think so?” asked Jerry, his own face sobering, for he
was almost as devoted to Gretel as his sister.

“Well,” said Geraldine, slowly, “it’s all rather queer, and I don’t
understand it. She was all right till yesterday afternoon. She went
shopping with Mrs. Chester, and she has been different ever since. She
cried dreadfully, and she scarcely ate any dinner, and once in the
night I woke up and heard her tossing and moaning in her sleep. I saw
her wiping her eyes in church this morning, and now she’s gone up to
her room to write letters. She’s trying awfully hard to be cheerful,
and act as if nothing had happened, but she can’t deceive me.”

Jerry’s eyes flashed indignantly.

“I guess I know what the trouble is,” he said. “Somebody’s been making
disagreeable remarks about her being German. It’s a beastly shame,
that’s what it is.”

“I thought of that,” said Geraldine, “but who could it have been? Not
Mrs. Chester or that nice Mrs. Cranston, I am sure. I asked her if she
had happened to meet Ada Godfrey, and she said no. I can’t think of any
one else who would do such a mean thing.”

“Well, I wish I could catch whoever it was,” declared Jerry. “I’d say
what I thought pretty quick. That kid over at the Godfreys’ makes me
sick, the way he goes on about the Germans. Suppose his father did
get drowned on the _Lusitania_. It was an awful thing, of course, but
he needn’t put on such grand airs, and talk about never touching the
hand of a German. Wouldn’t eat with one, he said, any more than he’d
eat with a negro. Paul and I told him to shut up, and then he got
mad, and wouldn’t speak to us. He’s only thirteen, but you should see
him swagger. I’d like to give that kid a ducking, and--I say, here he
comes, and the Godfrey girl along with him.”

It was true; Ada Godfrey and her cousin Archie Davenport were coming up
the path from the gate. Geraldine uttered a smothered exclamation of

“I believe Molly did ask them over,” she said; “I had forgotten all
about it. I hope they won’t say anything to upset Gretel more than she
is upset already. You must be polite to that boy, Jerry, even if he
is a cad. Remember we are the Chesters’ guests, and we can’t be rude
to people who come to their house.” With which final warning to her
brother, Geraldine went forward to welcome the visitors.

Archie Davenport was a pale, undersized boy, with a shrill, childish
voice, and the manners of a man of the world. He was an only
child, and since his father’s tragic death, two years before, had
been completely spoiled by his doting mother. In response to Ada’s
introduction, he greeted Geraldine with a grown-up manner, which almost
made her laugh in his face, and, before they reached the house, had
inquired, with the air of a bored clubman:

“Any sport going on this afternoon?”

“I don’t know just what you call sport,” said Geraldine, her eyes
beginning to twinkle. “I dare say you and the boys will find some way
of amusing yourselves. You might like to see Frank’s rabbits.”

Jerry chuckled appreciatively, but before Archie could express his
contempt of such juvenile pastime, Molly and Kitty--who had seen their
approach--came out to meet them.

“It was good of you to walk over here in this heat,” said Molly, as she
led the way to the coolest corner of the piazza. “We are expecting some
more visitors later, but we can have a nice little chat by ourselves
before they come.”

“Who are coming?” Ada inquired with interest.

“My cousin Stephen Cranston and that nice Virginia friend of his, Mr.
Fairfax. Steve comes over from the station as often as he can get
leave, now his mother is here, and we all like Jimmy Fairfax very much.”

Ada’s face brightened perceptibly. She was nearly sixteen, and not at
all averse to the society of young men.

“May I go up to your room for a minute to smooth my hair?” she asked.
“All the crimp has come out in the heat, and I should like to look
respectable when your friends come.”

“Oh, I don’t believe they care how anybody looks,” said innocent Molly.
“They are only too thankful to get away for a little rest. Steve says
they work like dogs at the submarine base. But, of course, you can come
up to my room if you want to.” And she led the way indoors.

“Where’s Gretel?” Ada inquired, on the way up-stairs.

“In her room, writing letters,” said Molly. “She’ll be down by and by.”

Ada lowered her voice. “Do you know, Molly, I think it’s a great pity
Gretel hasn’t given up that horrid German name. She could call herself
Douaine just as well as not, and it would be so much less embarrassing.”

“Embarrassing,” repeated Molly, “I don’t see anything embarrassing
about it. What do you mean?”

“Why, in introducing her to people, of course. Nobody wants to meet
a person named Schiller in these days, and some people even think it
unusually kind of your father and mother to have Gretel here just now.
Mrs. Appleton was speaking to Mother about it the other day, after the
Red Cross meeting.”

“I never heard of anything quite so silly in my life,” exclaimed Molly,
indignantly. “Gretel is just as much an American as any of us. Lots of
Americans have German names.”

“Oh, I’m not saying anything against her,” protested Ada. “I only
said it was a pity she wasn’t willing to be called Douaine instead
of Schiller. Is this your room? How pretty it is.” And Ada, possibly
judging from Molly’s expression that she had said enough on the subject
of German names, hastened to lead the conversation into smoother

Gretel, in her own room, was finishing a long letter to Barbara. It
was a pleasant, cheerful letter, telling of the little every-day
happenings, and containing no word that would lead Mrs. Douaine to
suppose her sister-in-law had a care in the world. And yet, as Gretel
finished the last page, and addressed her envelope, her heart was far
from being as light as Barbara imagined.

“If I could only tell her and Percy about it,” she said with a sigh,
“it would be so much easier. Percy is so wise and broad-minded, he
would be sure to know what to do. But Fritz asked me not to mention him
to any one, and he was Father’s best friend. Oh, I can’t believe that
Fritz is doing anything wrong, and yet why should he object to people
knowing who he is?”

It was a very perplexing question, and Gretel leaned her chin in her
hands, and thought long and earnestly. She heard the voices of visitors
on the piazza, but felt in no hurry to go down-stairs and join her
friends. It was a relief to be alone for a little while. Oh, why
had she gone shopping with Mrs. Chester? Why had she ever met Fritz
Lippheim? She resolved that, if possible, she would keep away from the
town during the remainder of her visit.

At last the clock on the stairs struck five, and Gretel roused herself
with an effort.

“I must go down,” she told herself reluctantly. “They will think me so
queer and unsociable if I stay up here any longer. Ada’s voice sounds
as if she were holding forth about something.”

Ada certainly was “holding forth,” and even before she reached the
piazza, Gretel could hear her declaring in a loud, decided voice:

“I think it’s the duty of every one of us to do it. A person who didn’t
would be acting disloyally to the United States.”

“Here comes Miss Gretel,” said Stephen Cranston, rising, and going
forward to meet the newcomer, in his kind, courteous way. “You are just
in time to hear Miss Godfrey deliver a lecture on loyalty. She is very
eloquent on the subject.”

Gretel smiled faintly as she dropped into the chair Stephen pushed
forward for her, and, turning to Ada, asked what the lecture was about.

“I’m not delivering a lecture at all,” said Ada, rather crossly. “I
was only saying something that every one knows. We were talking about
spies, and Kitty said she wondered what a person would do who found out
some one she knew was a suspicious character. I said of course a loyal
American would inform at once. It’s the only thing to do in war time.”

“But I didn’t mean an ordinary person,” objected Kitty. “I meant a
friend, some one you really cared about. Just think of having to
inform against a cousin, or----”

“I would inform against my own brother if I thought he were disloyal to
my country,” interrupted Ada, heroically. “Don’t you think I am right,
Mr. Fairfax?”

“I do,” agreed the young ensign heartily. “Any one acting against the
United States Government is a traitor, and we all know what should be
done with traitors.”

“But suppose you were not sure,” objected Kitty. “Suppose you only
suspected some one, and had no real proof, what would you do then?”

“This is no time to wait for proof,” Jimmy Fairfax asserted. “Let the
United States Secret Service look up the proofs. Our duty would be
to give the information, and put the right authorities on the scent.
Did you read about those ammunition works that were blown up the
other day in New Jersey? More than a hundred people were killed. That
was undoubtedly the work of the Germans. I tell you we can’t be too

“Well, we are none of us likely to be called upon to inform against any
of our friends,” said Stephen, good-naturedly. “I don’t believe we have
any German spies among our acquaintances, do you, Miss Gretel?”

“I hope not, I am sure,” said Gretel, trying to speak quite naturally,
but conscious of a sound of embarrassment in her voice.

Stephen looked at her more attentively.

“Have you a headache?” he asked, kindly.

“No,” said Gretel. “What made you think I had?”

“I thought you were looking a little seedy. This heat is enough to give
any one a headache. My mother has had a bad one all day. Ah, here comes
some iced tea; that will refresh us all. Aunt Molly knows what people
like on a hot afternoon.”

“I wonder where the boys are,” remarked Molly, getting out of the
hammock and preparing to take command of the tea-tray. “Jerry adores
this chocolate cake.”

“Here comes one boy, at any rate,” said Stephen. “He doesn’t look very
cheerful. Perhaps the heat has used him up.”

“It’s Ada’s cousin,” said Molly. “Come up here, Archie, and have some
tea. Where are the others?”

“Down at the barn, amusing themselves with rabbits,” answered Archie,
in a tone of extreme disgust. “I stayed as long as I could stand it.
I’ve come to see if Ada isn’t ready to go home.”

“You don’t care about pets, then,” said Molly, with difficulty
preserving her gravity.

“Not much. I think I’m rather too old to waste my time over rabbits.
There’s a kid down there, too, and the boys are making such a silly
fuss over her. I can’t stand babies.”

“That’s my little sister Daisy,” said Molly. “We think she’s quite
adorable. I’m sorry you don’t like her.”

“I prefer older people,” replied Archie, with his most grown-up air,
and then, catching sight of the tea-tray, he added in quite a different

“I say that cake looks good. Can a fellow have some?”

“To be sure,” laughed Molly. “Come up and meet my friends. This is my
cousin Mr. Cranston, and this other young man is Mr. Fairfax. These
girls are Geraldine Barlow, Kitty Sharp, and Gretel Schiller. You’ve
met Geraldine and Kitty already, but I don’t think you’ve seen Gretel

Archie had reached the top of the piazza steps by this time, but at the
mention of Gretel’s name, he suddenly drew back and thrust both hands
into his pockets.

“That’s the German girl,” he announced in his shrill, aggressive voice.
“I don’t speak to Germans. Ada told me you had one here, and I said I
wouldn’t speak to her.”

“You little cad!” exclaimed Stephen, angrily; “you deserve a good
thrashing, and I’d like to give it to you!”

He half rose from his chair as he spoke, but Gretel put out a detaining

“Please don’t make a fuss,” she said in a low voice. “He’s only a
little boy, and--and I’m afraid a good many people feel that way about

“Archie, you are a very naughty boy,” expostulated Ada. “You ought to
be ashamed of yourself. If you can’t be a gentleman, you had better go
back to the rabbits.”

“Well, I like that!” cried Archie, indignantly. “You’re a nice one to
scold me, after saying----”

“Archie Davenport, stop this very minute. If you say another word I’ll
tell Aunt Agnes, and you will be severely punished.” Ada’s cheeks were
crimson, and she was looking decidedly uncomfortable.

“Don’t mind him, please, Ada,” pleaded Gretel. “It really isn’t worth
while to let a boy like that spoil Molly’s tea-party. Let’s give him
some cake, and perhaps it will keep him quiet.”

Gretel spoke cheerfully, but her voice was not quite steady, and there
was a hurt look in her eyes that it pained her friends to see.

[Illustration: GRETEL PUT OUT A DETAINING HAND.--_Page 167._]

“He doesn’t deserve any cake,” declared Ada, rising. “I’m going to
take him home. It’s time I went, anyway; I promised Mother to be
back by half-past five. Good-bye, everybody. Oh, Mr. Cranston, don’t
you and Mr. Fairfax want to come over to play tennis at our place some
afternoon? The courts are pretty good. You can bring any friends you
like.” And, having cast a rather coquettish glance in the direction
of the two young ensigns, Ada hurried down the steps, followed by the
reluctant Archie.

“I’ll walk home with you if you don’t mind,” said Jimmy Fairfax. And as
Ada certainly did not mind, the two walked down the path together very
amicably indeed.

For the next few minutes everybody talked fast and rather nervously.
Molly plied Gretel with tea and chocolate cake, and Geraldine changed
her seat so as to sit next to her friend, and give Gretel’s hand a
surreptitious squeeze. Kitty began to sing, “When the Boys Come Home,”
and Stephen plunged into a funny story, which made them all laugh. No
further allusion was made to Ada or her cousin, and it was evident
that every one was anxious to be especially kind to Gretel. Gretel
understood, and her heart glowed with gratitude, but Archie Davenport’s
foolish behavior had left a sting, nevertheless, and then there was
that talk about informing against suspects, to add still more to her
trouble and perplexity. Jimmy Fairfax came back to supper, and in the
evening they all went out in the launch, with Mrs. Cranston to chaperon
the party.

“Why so pensive, Miss Gretel?” Stephen asked, taking the vacant seat
beside Gretel, as the little motor-boat carried them swiftly up the
river towards Norwich.

Gretel roused herself with a start.

“I didn’t know I was pensive,” she said, smiling. “I was thinking how
lovely and peaceful it was out here on the water.”

“You looked as if your thoughts were about a thousand miles away from
the rest of us,” said the young man. “I want to say something but I’m
half afraid you may not like it.”

“Try and see,” said Gretel. “I don’t believe it is anything I shall
object to.”

“It’s about the nonsense that little beast talked this afternoon.
I’m afraid it hurt your feelings and it’s rather silly to mind those
things, you know.”

“I know it is,” said Gretel. “I try not to be silly and I really don’t
mind half as much as I did at first. I know a great many people feel
very bitterly against the Germans, and I don’t suppose they can help
it. I am an American, of course, but my father was a German and I loved
him very dearly. It does hurt sometimes to hear people talk about his
country as they do.”

“Of course it hurts,” said Stephen. “I can just imagine how I should
feel about people who talked against the United States. The Germans
have done some outrageous things and I hope they are going to be
thoroughly licked, but it isn’t necessary to throw mud at people just
because they happen to have had German ancestors. I’m awfully glad you
look at the thing so sensibly.”

“Mr. Cranston,” said Gretel abruptly, “do you agree with Ada and Mr.
Fairfax in what they said this afternoon about--about informing
against people?”

Stephen hesitated for a moment and his merry, boyish face grew grave.

“That is a hard question to answer,” he said. “To inform against a
friend is a pretty rotten thing to do, and yet these are very serious
times. I think it would depend a good deal upon the circumstances in
the case. One would have to be pretty sure one wasn’t mistaken.”

Gretel’s face brightened, but before she could speak again, Mrs.
Cranston called to her son from the other end of the boat.

“Sing something, Steve; the girls want to hear you.”

There was no more war talk that evening, but Stephen could not help
noticing that Gretel seemed more cheerful than she had been all the
afternoon, and when they reached the landing he detained Molly for a
moment on the pier to say in a low tone:

“I hope you are not going to let your friend Miss Godfrey bring that
brat of a cousin of hers over here again. He upset Gretel Schiller a
lot, and she’s a nice girl, too. I say, do you happen to know if she
has many German friends?”

“I know she hasn’t,” said Molly, confidently. “She told us that with
the exception of our Fräulein at school, she hadn’t spoken to a single
German since she was a little girl. Why do you want to know?”

“Oh, I was only wondering,” returned her cousin carelessly. “It would
be pretty hard for her if she had German friends in these days, that’s
all. That Godfrey girl hasn’t much tact.”

“Gretel is very sensitive,” said Molly, “but she hasn’t any German
friends, so there isn’t anything to worry about.” And Molly tripped
away to join the rest of the party.

Stephen Cranston was not Gretel’s only champion, as she discovered a
little later that evening. The visitors had gone and the family were on
their way up-stairs to bed, when Jerry waylaid her in the front hall.

“Wait a minute, Gretel,” he said in a low voice. “I just want to tell
you that I’m going to punch that kid’s head to-morrow.”

“What kid’s head?” demanded Gretel, pausing with her foot on the lowest

“The little rat who insulted you this afternoon. Geraldine has been
telling me about it. I only wish I’d been there to give him what he

“See here, Jerry,” said Gretel, sternly, “you must promise me
faithfully to do nothing of the kind. You will make me very
uncomfortable and unhappy if you do.”

Jerry looked very much surprised, and a little disgusted as well.

“You don’t like being insulted, do you?” he inquired incredulously.

“No, of course not. It was all rather horrid, and I was awfully upset
for a few minutes, but that boy is just silly and spoiled, and besides,
he’s smaller than you. He has a reason for hating the Germans; his
father was lost on the _Lusitania_. He doesn’t know I am an American;
he only knows my father was a German. Now, Jerry, will you promise me
to let him alone, and not say another word about it?”

Gretel spoke pleadingly, and Jerry was somewhat mollified. He moved
uneasily from one foot to the other.

“Well, if you put it in that way,” he said, reluctantly, “I suppose
I’ve got to promise, but it really would be a great satisfaction to
punch that kid’s head.”

Gretel could not help laughing.

“Thank you, Jerry dear,” she said. “I know you are my friend, and want
to help me when you can, but if you were to make any more trouble about
this silly business, I should feel very badly indeed. I wouldn’t for
the world have anything happen to make things uncomfortable for the
Chesters. I’m as good an American as any of you, you know that, but I
can’t help having a German name, and if people say disagreeable things,
I’ve just got to make the best of it, and try not to mind.”

“A very sensible conclusion,” said a pleasant voice close behind them,
and Mrs. Cranston slipped an arm round Gretel’s waist. “I couldn’t
help overhearing what you were saying, dear,” she added, as they went
up-stairs together. “Steve has told me about that little episode this
afternoon, and I think you acted with a good deal of dignity, and
showed real common sense.”

Gretel found Molly, Kitty, and Geraldine all eagerly discussing the
events of the afternoon.

“I really can’t stand Ada Godfrey,” Geraldine was declaring, as Gretel
entered the room. “She must have said something horrid; that boy hinted
as much.”

“Oh, please don’t let’s talk any more about that,” urged Gretel,
cheerfully. “Let’s forget all about it, and talk of something else.
Molly, I see why you are so fond of your aunt. She is perfectly lovely
and the most understanding person I’ve met in a long time.”



It was the glorious Fourth. The boys had been celebrating since early
morning, when they had aroused the household by setting off a pack of
giant crackers on the front lawn. There had been a picnic lunch in
the woods, an exciting tennis tournament at the Country Club in the
afternoon, and now they were dressing for the principal event of the
day: the big subscription dance at the summer hotel, for which all the
neighborhood had bought tickets.

“It’s the first really grown-up party I’ve ever been to,” remarked
Geraldine, as she stood before the bureau, brushing out her long hair.
“I suppose I shall be the youngest girl there, and the boys won’t even
look at me. Don’t you think, Gretel, I might try putting up my hair? I
could take it right down again if it looked queer.”

“I wouldn’t if I were you,” advised Gretel. “You are only fourteen, you
know, and I don’t believe your mother would like it. You’ll have plenty
of partners, I’m sure, even if your hair isn’t up. Stephen has promised
to look after you, and as soon as people find out what a good dancer
you are, they’ll all want to dance with you.”

Geraldine sighed, but submitted to her friend’s superior judgment. As
a rule, she was quite indifferent to her personal appearance, but this
was a very particular occasion, and besides, Geraldine had been growing
up rather fast during the past few weeks.

“I wish Jerry were going,” she said, regretfully. “He’d dance with me
if nobody else did, but he hates parties; and Mrs. Chester thinks he’s
too young to have a good time. Your dress is lovely, Gretel, and I
never saw you look prettier.”

Gretel flushed with pleasure. It is pleasant to be admired, even by
a girl a year younger than one’s self. Those weeks of sea air had
certainly done Gretel good. There was a color in her cheeks, and a
light in her eyes, that had not been there during her first few days
at the Chesters’. Since that Sunday afternoon, now more than a week
ago, nothing had occurred to trouble or annoy her. She had not seen
Fritz Lippheim again, and Ada Godfrey, as if to atone for her cousin’s
rudeness, had been unusually kind and tactful. The Chester family all
liked her, and she had found a real friend in Mrs. Cranston. She had
good news from her own family in Washington, and altogether her days
had been very happy ones.

“I’m so glad you like my dress,” she said. “Barbara bought it for me
that last day in New York, and there wasn’t any time for alterations.
If my hair were as long and thick as yours, I’m sure I shouldn’t mind
having people see it. Let me help you on with your dress. I think we
ought to hurry a little; it’s after eight.”

At that moment Molly, already dressed for the evening, appeared in the

“How nice you both look!” she exclaimed admiringly. “If you knew how
becoming your long hair was, Geraldine, you would never want to put it
up. Oh, Gretel dear, I’m so sorry you’re going away to-morrow.”

“You’re not any sorrier than I am myself,” said Gretel. “I’ve had a
perfectly lovely visit, and would give anything to stay till Monday,
and go home with the Barlows. But it couldn’t be arranged. Percy
doesn’t know when he may be in New York again after to-morrow, and he
and Barbara don’t want to let me travel alone.”

“I know,” said Molly, “but that doesn’t make it any easier to let
you go. You’ll have a long time to wait in New York, if your brother
doesn’t leave till the night train. Is your house open?”

“Oh, yes, there’s a caretaker in charge, and Percy often spends the
night there when he is in New York. I shall manage very comfortably,
and Percy will take me out to dinner.”

“You might go to see Mother,” Geraldine suggested. “She’d love to see
you and you could tell her all about us. But be sure not to mention
that the rowboat upset the other day, and Jerry and I had to swim
ashore. She’d be sure to think we had both been drowned, and you were
trying to break it to her gently.”

“We have had some pretty jolly times together, haven’t we?” remarked

“You ought to have heard some of the nice things Mother and Aunt Dulcie
were saying about you two girls this afternoon. Here comes Kitty;
doesn’t she look grand? I say, Kit, that dress is the most becoming
thing you ever wore. Let’s go down and show ourselves to Mother and
Aunt Dulcie before we put on our wraps.”

Mr. and Mrs. Chester and Mrs. Cranston were awaiting the young people
on the piazza, and ten minutes later they were all in the motor-boat,
crossing to the opposite shore where stood the big hotel--a landmark
for miles around.

“What a lovely night it is,” remarked Mrs. Cranston, as the boat moved
away from the pier. “I feel just like going to a party. I haven’t been
to one in ages.”

“I don’t believe you will ever grow old, Dulcie,” her brother-in-law
said, smiling. “Molly and I have reached the age when dances rather
bore us, except for the pleasure of watching our young people have a
good time.”

“I sometimes feel as if I were younger now than when I was twelve,”
said Mrs. Cranston. “I used to think then that I had the cares of the
world on my shoulders, with three younger sisters to look after. We
didn’t have many parties in those days, did we, Molly? Do you remember
our birthdays, and the queer presents we gave each other?”

“Yes, indeed,” her sister answered, “and how wonderful the first
Christmas seemed after Papa married again, and we went to live with him
and Mama.”

“Oh, do tell us about it,” urged Geraldine. “I love hearing about your
experiences when you were little girls.”

Mrs. Cranston laughed, and began a story, which lasted till they
reached the landing. She was a great favorite with young people, and
her stories, whether written or told, were always fascinating.

“How gay The Griswold looks with all the lights,” said Geraldine,
as they walked up the path to the hotel. “Just look at that line of
automobiles. Everybody must be here.”

“Listen to the music!” cried Kitty. “Doesn’t it sound gay? I want to
begin dancing right off. Do you think it’s wicked to want to dance in
war time, Mrs. Cranston?”

“Not in the least,” Mrs. Cranston assured her, smilingly. “Young people
should enjoy themselves while they can. Ah, here comes Steve. I was
sure he would be looking for us.”

Stephen was looking for them, and so were Jimmy Fairfax and several
other young sailors, whose acquaintance the girls had made since coming
to New London, and in a very few minutes they had all made their way to
the ballroom, and even Geraldine had been provided with a partner.

Gretel was fond of dancing, and moreover, she danced exceedingly well.
Before the evening was half over, she had decided that she was having
the “time of her life.”

“I have hardly seen anything of you,” Stephen complained, coming up to
her, where she stood fanning herself by his mother’s side. “I’ve looked
for you several times, but you were always dancing. Have you a partner
for the next?”

Gretel admitted that she had not.

“Then dance it with me, and let me take you in to supper afterwards.
I say, Mother, just look at Geraldine. She’s danced every dance. The
fellows are all crazy about her; she’s so jolly and unaffected.”

“I’m so glad Geraldine is having a good time,” said Gretel, as she and
Stephen moved away to the music of a lively one-step. “She was afraid
no one would notice her because her hair wasn’t up. It was awfully good
of you to introduce so many boys to her.”

Stephen laughed.

“Geraldine’s all right,” he said. “I’m sure the fellows like her much
better than that affected Ross girl, staying at the Godfreys’. By the
way, your friend Ada is more patriotic than ever to-night. I’ve heard
her lecturing three separate partners on their duty to their country.”

“Poor Ada,” said Gretel, laughing, “she really is tremendously in
earnest. Molly says Ada’s greatest fault is an absence of the sense of

At that very moment Ada, at the other end of the ballroom, was
remarking to her partner, Jimmy Fairfax:

“Gretel Schiller seems to be having a good time. I believe she has
danced every dance.”

“Well, why shouldn’t she?” Jimmy inquired innocently.

Ada, who had herself sat out several dances for lack of partners,
pursed her lips solemnly.

“Oh, no reason at all,” she said, “as long as she can enjoy it. I can’t
see how people can care about such frivolous things in these serious
times. I wouldn’t have come to-night if it hadn’t been for those girls
I have staying with me. Mother didn’t think it would be right to
deprive them of the pleasure.”

“Well, I suppose we may as well enjoy ourselves while we can,” young
Fairfax said, apologetically. “There won’t be much enjoyment for us
when we get overseas. Miss Gretel seems to be a great favorite.”

“Oh, Gretel’s all right,” Ada admitted. “Everybody likes her. I was
only wondering how she can take pleasure in anything when she remembers
that her father was a German. If I had only one drop of German blood in
my veins I should bow my head in shame.”

“It is pretty rough on Miss Gretel,” said Jimmy, “especially if
she has German relatives. The Government is getting more severe on
German-Americans every day.”

“Oh, Gretel hasn’t any German relatives; at least none in this
country,” Ada explained. “You see, her mother was an American, and she
lives with her half-brother, Mr. Douaine. He’s doing Government work
in Washington, and Gretel is going there when she leaves here. I have
heard her say she doesn’t even know any Germans except our teacher at

“Indeed!” exclaimed the young man in a tone of so much surprise that
Ada inquired curiously:

“Why do you say ‘Indeed’ in that incredulous way? You don’t know
anything about Gretel’s friends, do you?”

“Nothing whatever, except----”

“Except what?” demanded Ada, sharply.

“Oh, nothing worth mentioning. I happened to see her talking to a man
the other day, that’s all. I thought he looked like a German, but I may
have been mistaken, of course.”

Ada’s eyes grew round, and her cheeks flushed.

“Where did you see her?” she inquired. “You ought to be willing to tell
me all about it now you’ve begun.”

Jimmy Fairfax was beginning to look decidedly uncomfortable.

“It was in New London,” he said, “one afternoon about ten days ago.
They were standing in front of one of the shops, and seemed to be
talking very earnestly together. Miss Gretel didn’t see me, but I was
just going to speak to her when they turned down one of the side
streets. Afterwards I met Mrs. Chester, and she told me she was waiting
for Gretel Schiller, who had left her to do some shopping. When she
joined us a few minutes later, I thought she was looking rather flushed
and excited.”

Ada looked very serious.

“It sounds queer,” she said. “Didn’t Gretel say anything about having
met a friend?”

“Well, no, she didn’t,” Jimmy admitted, reluctantly, “but then I left
them in a moment, and she may have told Mrs. Chester later.”

“Why didn’t you ask her about it the next time you saw her?”

“I didn’t think it was exactly my business. Miss Gretel had a right to
speak to a friend in the street, even if he did happen to be a German.”

“Everything is our business in war time,” said Ada, virtuously. “We
ought to investigate everything that seems in the least suspicious.”

“But there may not have been anything suspicious about this,” Jimmy

“Not if she had mentioned it afterwards, of course, but I think her not
saying anything to Mrs. Chester about having met a friend was decidedly
queer. I shall ask her to explain the next time we meet.”

“Please don’t do anything of the sort,” urged the young man, reddening.
“She would have every right to consider me an impertinent meddler. I am
sorry I ever mentioned the matter at all.”

Jimmy was looking very much distressed, and Ada--who was not without a
goodly share of coquetry in her nature--began to see an opportunity for

“Perhaps I won’t say anything to Gretel,” she conceded, “if you are
very nice to me all the rest of the evening, but if you dance any
more with that silly little Geraldine Barlow, who is really much too
young to be here at all, I won’t promise what I may do. Of course I
know Gretel is really all right, but I am terribly curious about that

Having finished their dance, Gretel and Stephen made their way to the
crowded supper room. They were very warm, and rather tired, and the
prospect of ices and lemonade was very alluring.

“You’d better wait here, and let me see what I can get,” said Stephen,
pausing in the doorway. “There is such a crowd around the tables, I
think I can manage better alone.”

Gretel agreed, and having found a chair for her, her partner hurried
away and was speedily lost to sight in the crowd. It was rather amusing
to watch the hurrying, chattering throng, and Gretel was enjoying the
novel experience thoroughly, when her attention was suddenly attracted
by the sight of a gentleman in evening clothes, who had just entered
the room. In an instant all her pleasure was gone; her heart gave
a great bound and began beating very fast, for the man was Fritz
Lippheim. He was evidently alone, but appeared quite at home in his
new surroundings, and was moving leisurely towards one of the tables.
He passed so close to Gretel that she could have put out her hand and
touched him, but if he recognized her, he made not the slightest sign,
and Gretel, flushing and trembling, sank back in her seat, wishing with
all her heart that she had never come to the dance.

It was just at that moment that another man paused in passing Fritz to
say in a friendly tone:

“Good-evening, Martin. Glad to see you here to-night.”

“Good-evening,” responded Fritz Lippheim, who did not look at all
surprised or embarrassed by his new name, and then the two passed on,
and Gretel heard no more of their conversation.

“Here I am at last,” said Stephen. “I began to think it was hopeless,
but I managed to secure some ice-cream and a couple of glasses of
lemonade. How warm you look. It is stifling in here. Let’s go out on
the piazza. A lot of people are eating there.”

“Yes, oh, yes, let’s go out,” said Gretel, rising, and speaking in
a tone of such unmistakable relief that her companion regarded her
rather curiously.

“I was sorry to be so long,” he said. “You weren’t frightened or
uncomfortable, were you?”

“Not frightened exactly,” said Gretel, trying to laugh, “but--but it
was a little uncomfortable. There was such a crowd, you know, and I was
all alone.”

Stephen could not help laughing.

“I didn’t know you were so timid,” he said. “I will be careful how I
leave you alone again, even for the purpose of getting ice-cream.”

He spoke jestingly, but Gretel’s face was very grave.

“I am a coward,” she said; “I have been a coward all my life, and I am
afraid I shall always be one.”

SIGN.--_Page 191._]

But Stephen refused to take her seriously, and made so merry over the
little episode that Gretel found herself laughing, and in a few minutes
had regained her usual self-possession. It was much less crowded on the
piazza, and having secured a table to themselves, they were soon
enjoying ice-cream and lemonade, while the distant dance music fell
softly on their ears, mingling with the sound of the water lapping
against the pier.

“We have had a jolly two weeks all together, haven’t we?” Stephen
remarked, as he set down his empty lemonade glass. “It’s a shame you
can’t stay over till Monday, and go back with the Barlows.”

“I wish I could,” said Gretel, “but I must meet my brother in New York
to-morrow. He goes back to Washington by the night train, and I’m to go
with him. I’ve had a lovely visit, but I’m afraid I’ve been very lazy.
It doesn’t seem as if any one ought to be just having a good time now,
when there is so much work to be done. My sister-in-law writes that she
is busy from morning till night, and I want to help her all I can.”

“Well, I suppose you are right,” Stephen admitted, “but I hate to have
the party break up. I have an idea that I shan’t be here very much
longer myself.”

Gretel gave a little start.

“You mean that your ship is going across?” she asked, with a sudden
catch in her voice.

Stephen nodded.

“I haven’t said anything to my mother about it yet, but I think we
shall have our sailing orders in a week or two. It will be hard on the
mater--I’m her only son, you know, and we’ve always been a lot to each
other--but if it were not for her sake, I should be glad to be off.
There is plenty of work to be done over there, and it’s quite time we
Americans got busy.”

Gretel was silent. Somehow she could not say what she wanted to say
just then, and before she had steadied her voice a waiter was asking if
he could bring them anything. He appeared so suddenly that it seemed to
Gretel as if he must have been standing in the shadow all the time.

“Will you have anything more?” Stephen asked.

Gretel shook her head.

“I couldn’t possibly eat any more,” she said, but as she spoke her
eyes were following the waiter, who was gliding quietly away.

“Then let’s go back to the ballroom and have another dance. What are
you looking at so intently?”

“It’s--it’s that waiter,” faltered Gretel. “I’ve seen him somewhere
before, but I can’t remember where.”

Stephen laughed.

“Nothing very surprising about that,” he said. “You may easily have
seen him at some hotel or restaurant. I didn’t notice anything
remarkable about his appearance.”

Gretel admitted that such might have been the case, but she did not
look altogether satisfied. Somehow the man’s face seemed to haunt her.
She had seen it somewhere, and she did not think it was at a hotel or
restaurant. Then there was Fritz Lippheim. What was Fritz doing there,
and why had that other man addressed him as Martin? She was sure he
had recognized her. If he were merely a guest at the dance, why had he
avoided speaking to her? It was all very strange and disquieting. In
spite of the fact that her visit had been such a pleasant one, Gretel
felt suddenly glad that she was leaving New London in the morning. She
wanted to be in Washington with Percy and Barbara.



Notwithstanding the unusually late hours of the night before, the
Chester household was astir early the next morning. Mr. Chester and
Gretel were to take the eight-thirty train for New York, which meant an
early breakfast for everybody, for it had been decreed that they should
all go to the station to see them off.

“I just can’t tell you how I hate to have you go,” Molly declared,
hovering over Gretel, as she put the last things into her suit-case. “I
wish you would come back and make us another visit later in the season.
They say Washington is frightfully hot in August.”

“I know it is,” said Gretel, “but if Percy and Barbara can stand the
heat, I guess I can. It’s dear of you to want me, though, and I’ve had
a perfectly beautiful time. It doesn’t seem as if I could have been
here more than two weeks.”

“I do wish you could have waited till Monday, and gone down with Jerry
and me,” grumbled Geraldine. “It’s perfectly dreadful to think I shan’t
see you again till we come to Washington in September. Jerry and I
wouldn’t mind the heat a bit if Mrs. Douaine could have us in August

Gretel laughed, and said she would speak to Barbara on the subject, and
then they all hurried away to the waiting automobile.

“Good-bye, dear,” Mrs. Cranston said, kissing Gretel affectionately. “I
shall never forget the pleasure your music has given me. You must be
sure to come and see me in New York next winter.”

Then Mrs. Chester kissed her, and told her how much they should all
miss her, and Paul and Frank shook hands, and little Daisy--who was
devoted to her--began to cry, and was only comforted when Gretel
promised to come and tell her more fairy tales next winter.

The four girls and Jerry crowded into the automobile, and the ride to
the station was a very merry one. The train was a few minutes late,
and it was while they were standing chatting on the platform, awaiting
its arrival, that Gretel caught another glimpse of Fritz Lippheim. He
came sauntering through the station, smoking a cigar, and carrying a
suit-case, and was evidently, like themselves, waiting for a train. At
sight of her old friend, Gretel could not resist a little involuntary
start, and Geraldine--who was standing close beside her--inquired

“What’s the matter, Gretel? You look as if you were scared about

“There isn’t anything the matter,” answered Gretel. “I was only--oh,
there’s a whistle; the train must be coming.”

The train was coming, and in another moment it had thundered into the
station. Gretel had one more glimpse of Fritz Lippheim getting into one
of the coaches, as she and Mr. Chester mounted the steps of the parlor

“Good-bye, Gretel, good-bye!” cried her friends in chorus, as the train
began to move. “Be sure to write as soon as you get to Washington.”

And Gretel returned the good-byes, and promised to write to everybody,
and kept her head craned out of the car window till the platform, with
the group of familiar faces on it, had disappeared from sight. Then she
sank back in her chair, with a little sigh that was half regret and
half relief.

“It has been a lovely visit,” she said to herself. “I wonder when I
shall see them all again.”

The train was crowded, but Mr. Chester had secured seats in advance so
that he and Gretel were very comfortable. Gretel felt a little uneasy
at first, and glanced anxiously about, in quest of her German friend,
but she did not see him again, and there was a good deal of amusement
in watching her fellow-passengers. Mr. Chester was very kind and
talked pleasantly to her for more than an hour, before going away to
the smoking-car, after providing his charge with an interesting book.
Gretel tried to read, but found it impossible to fix her attention on
the story, and finally gave it up in despair, and took out her knitting
instead. Several ladies were also knitting, and as her fingers flew,
Gretel’s thoughts were very busy. They had nearly reached New York
before she had finally come to a decision, which proved a great relief
to her.

“I shall tell Percy about Fritz to-night,” she told herself, and she
suddenly felt happier than she had felt since the evening before. She
opened the bag of pop-corn Jerry had thrust into her hand just as the
train was starting, and was placidly munching a ball when Mr. Chester

It was noon when they reached the Grand Central. Mr. Chester hailed a
taxi and in it they drove to the Douaines’. Gretel had suggested going
home by herself, but her companion refused to leave her until he had
seen her safely inside her brother’s door.

“The house looks rather deserted,” Mr. Chester said, as the cab
stopped, and the driver ran up the steps to ring the bell.

“There is a caretaker,” Gretel explained, “and some of the rooms
up-stairs are open. Percy spends his nights here when he is in New
York. He goes out for his meals, as all the servants are in Washington.”

“I am afraid you will have a rather dull day by yourself,” said Mr.
Chester, regretfully. “I wish I could take you somewhere to lunch, but
I must hurry downtown.”

Gretel thanked him, but assured him she would not be at all dull, and
by this time the door was opened by a stout, good-natured looking Irish
woman, who greeted Gretel with a broad, welcoming smile. Mr. Chester
hurried away in his taxi, quite satisfied that his charge was in safe
hands, and Gretel sat down on the hall chair to read a note her brother
had left for her.

It was only a hasty line to say that Percy expected to be very busy all
day, but had secured reservations on the night train for Washington,
and would call for her at about seven and take her out to dinner.

“I have told Mrs. Murphy to give you some lunch,” he added. “I am sorry
to leave you alone all the afternoon, but it cannot be helped.”

The house felt cool and comfortable, and Gretel wandered from one
room to another, rather enjoying the quiet and the unusualness of
everything. She decided that she would stay indoors till late in the
afternoon, when it would be cooler, and then go to see Mrs. Barlow. At
one o’clock Mrs. Murphy called her to luncheon.

The caretaker was an old acquaintance, who often came to the house
to do extra work, and Gretel had many questions to ask her about the
family of grandchildren, of whom Mrs. Murphy was extremely proud.
Gretel was a great favorite with all the servants, and Mrs. Murphy
babbled on all the time she was eating her simple luncheon. Her
youngest son was at a training camp, and she had a great deal to say
about “them dirty Germans,” having apparently no idea that Gretel was
in any way connected with the enemy race.

“There’s no end to their wickedness,” she declared, “and the slyness
of them, even the American ones. My Jim says they caught a feller the
other day trying to put a bomb under a train full of soldiers, and he’d
lived in this country since he was eight years old. What do you think
of that?”

“It is very terrible,” Gretel admitted, “but there are some loyal
German-Americans,” she added, timidly.

“Maybe there is, and maybe there ain’t. I wouldn’t trust one of them, I
know that. Have some more raspberries, do, now. They’re real good, and
I bought the cream on purpose.”

Gretel allowed Mrs. Murphy to fill her plate for a second time, but
the Irish woman’s talk had rather added to her uneasiness, and she was
thankful that she had decided to tell Percy about her meeting with
Fritz Lippheim.

After luncheon she went into the drawing-room, and, opening the piano,
practised dutifully for the next two hours. There had been little time
for practising in New London, and she was anxious not to fall behind
with her music during the vacation. But the afternoon was hot and
sultry, and by half-past three Gretel began to feel decidedly tired and

“I’ll lie down for a little while,” she decided, “and then I’ll go to
see Mrs. Barlow. I don’t believe late hours agree with me.”

Accordingly, she curled herself up comfortably on the library sofa, and
in a very few minutes had fallen into a comfortable nap.

How long she had slept Gretel did not know, but she was aroused by the
sharp ringing of the telephone bell.

“It’s probably Percy,” she told herself, as she rubbed her eyes and
rose to answer the summons.

It was evident that Mrs. Murphy had not heard the bell, for there was
no sound of approaching footsteps, and the house was very still. Gretel
took down the receiver, and began the conversation with the customary

“Is Miss Gretel Schiller there?” inquired a man’s voice, certainly not
her brother’s, for it had a decidedly foreign accent.

“I am Gretel Schiller.” Gretel did not know why her heart was beating
so fast, or why her voice trembled.

“Ah, that is good. I have a message from my niece, Anna Sieling.”

Gretel gave a little gasp of relief. It was only Fräulein, after all,
not Fritz.

“Is Fräulein there?” she asked. “Does she want to speak to me?”

“She is here, but she cannot come to the telephone. She is very ill.”

“Very ill!” repeated Gretel, in a tone of real distress. “Oh, I am so
sorry! Is there anything I can do for her?”

“If you could come to see her this afternoon? She is most anxious to
see you. She is to undergo a serious operation, and fears she may never

“I’ll come, of course; I’ll come right away,” cried Gretel. “But--but
how did you know I was in town?”

“We did not know; we only hoped. You wrote my niece that you would
probably leave New London on the fifth, and we thought you might be
remaining over a few hours in New York. There could be no harm in
inquiring. Anna has been asking for you all day.”

Gretel’s face was very grave as she hung up the telephone, after
obtaining Fräulein’s address, for, somewhat to her surprise, she
learned that the family had moved during the past week. They were now
occupying an apartment on the upper East Side, Fräulein’s uncle told
her, whereas their former home had been on the West Side, not far from
Central Park. It seemed a little odd that Fräulein should not have
written her of this change of address, but at the moment Gretel had
only one thought; poor, dear Fräulein--who had always been so kind to
her--was ill, and longing to see her. How thoughtless and unkind she
had been to forget her engagement of two weeks ago. Fräulein had never
answered her letter of apology, and Gretel had feared her friend’s
feelings had really been hurt.

It was only just four o’clock, and without a moment’s hesitation
Gretel ran up-stairs for her hat. There would be plenty of time to
see Fräulein and be back again before her brother arrived. Mrs.
Murphy was nowhere to be seen, but judging from the sound of voices in
the kitchen, Gretel decided that the caretaker must be entertaining
company. Going to the top of the basement stairs, she called to the
Irish woman that she was going out for a little while, to which
information Mrs. Murphy responded with a cheerful:

“All right, dearie; have a nice time.”

Two minutes later Gretel had closed her brother’s front door behind her
and was walking rapidly down the street.

The address Fräulein’s uncle had given was much further uptown, as
well as being farther east, and Gretel, anxious not to lose time,
decided to take a car, and, having pushed her way on board a crowded
open trolley, she was soon being carried rapidly to the upper part of
the great city. She felt very anxious about Fräulein, but found some
comfort in the recollection that her friend was apt to make a good deal
of slight illnesses. Perhaps, after all, things were not quite as bad
as Fräulein’s uncle had represented.

A ride of fifteen minutes brought her to a part of the city with which
she was quite unfamiliar, and, alighting at a corner of a rather shabby
street, she turned her face eastward. She was not at all afraid of
not finding her way. She had been accustomed to going about the city
by herself since she was a little girl, although of late years Percy
and Barbara had insisted on having a maid accompany her when going
any distance from home. She walked on briskly for several blocks,
the neighborhood growing shabbier and more squalid as she proceeded.
There was no doubt that this was a poorer part of the city than where
Fräulein’s family had lived before. She was afraid her uncle must have
met with business reverses lately. Poor Fräulein, how she must hate
this neighborhood; she was so fond of luxury and comfort.

The sidewalks were swarming with shabbily dressed children, who
screamed and shouted, and at times impeded her progress.

She paused at last before a dingy apartment house, and going up the
steps began looking for the name she wanted. Yes, there it was:
“R. Becker; third floor back.” Gretel rang Mr. Becker’s bell, and
waited. In a moment the latch clicked, and Gretel--who knew the way of
apartment houses--pushed open the door and stepped into a dark, narrow
hall. There was no one to be seen, but a mingled odor of onions and
cabbage proved that the house was inhabited, and Gretel made her way up
the steep, not very clean stairs to the third floor.

She had reached the top of the first flight, when a voice inquired over
the banisters:

“Is it Mees Schiller?”

“Yes,” said Gretel. “Is that you, Mrs. Becker?”

“It ess. Come right up, if you please.”

Gretel quickened her steps, and in another moment was shaking hands
with a stout, middle-aged woman, whom she at once recognized as
Fräulein’s aunt.

“Mr. Becker telephoned me,” she explained, “and I came as quickly as I
could. I am so sorry about Fräulein. Is she suffering a great deal?”

“Come in,” said Mrs. Becker, and she led the way to her apartment, the
door of which stood open.

Gretel followed her down the narrow hall to the parlor, a small room,
furnished in very bad taste.

“Sit down,” said the hostess, motioning to the plush-covered sofa, but
Gretel did not sit down.

“I haven’t long to stay,” she apologized. “Couldn’t I see Fräulein now?”

Mrs. Becker heaved a deep sigh.

“Our dear Anna is not here,” she said, solemnly; “they have taken her
away to the hospital.”

“Oh,” cried Gretel, “is she really so ill as that? Mr. Becker said
she was to have an operation, but I didn’t think it was to be this
afternoon. He said she wanted to see me. Did she get worse after he

“Our dear Anna is very ill,” said Mrs. Becker, speaking as if she were
repeating a lesson. “They have taken her to the hospital. Will you not
sit down and take coffee with us? I will bring it in at once.”

“You are very kind,” said Gretel, “but I don’t think I can wait.
Perhaps I might be able to see Fräulein at the hospital. Mr. Becker
said she was so very anxious to see me, and I am going to Washington
with my brother to-night.”

“You cannot go to the hospital,” said Mrs. Becker, in the same
dull voice; “it would not be allowed. Even I, Anna’s aunt, cannot
go. My husband will explain.” And once more motioning towards the
plush-covered sofa, Mrs. Becker left the room.

Gretel sat down on the edge of the sofa. There seemed nothing else to
do, but she was beginning to feel very uncomfortable. She was afraid
her old friend must be very ill, Mrs. Becker spoke and looked so
strangely. Perhaps Fräulein had died suddenly, and they did not like to
tell her. There was a moment of silence; then the sound of approaching
footsteps, and Fräulein’s uncle came into the room.

“I beg a thousand pardons for bringing you here under false pretenses,”
he said, apologetically, “but when I telephoned an hour ago my dear
niece--what is it, my dear young lady--are you not well?”

With a little inarticulate cry, Gretel had sunk back on the sofa, and
every particle of color had left her face. As the light from the one
window fell on Mr. Becker’s face, she recognized it. She knew now why
the face of that waiter at the New London hotel had seemed so familiar.
That waiter was Fräulein’s uncle!



Gretel started to her feet, with a wild, half-formed idea of making her
escape, but the portly form of Mr. Becker stood between her and the
door, and she sat down again, feeling suddenly cold, and rather sick.

“Do not agitate yourself so much,” Mr. Becker was saying, soothingly.
“It is true that our beloved Anna is very ill, but the doctors have
great hopes for the result of the operation. I am sorry that you have
had your trip for nothing, but it could not be helped. Now that you are
here, you will surely stay and have coffee with us. My wife will have
it ready in a few moments.”

“I am afraid I can’t possibly stay,” protested Gretel. “I only came to
see Fräulein because you said she wanted me. My brother will be waiting
for me. I went out in such a hurry that I forgot to mention where I
was going.”

Mr. Becker glanced at the clock on the mantelpiece.

“There is plenty of time to spare,” he said; “it is not yet five
o’clock. Surely you will not deprive Mrs. Becker and me of the great
pleasure of offering hospitality to Hermann Schiller’s daughter?”

His manner was so kind and courteous that Gretel was beginning to feel
rather ashamed of her first suspicion. So she made no further effort to
rise, and even forced a faint smile.

“Did you know my father?” she asked, stiffly. It was the first time in
her life that praise of her adored father had not caused her heart to
swell with pride.

“I did not have the honor of his personal acquaintance,” Mr. Becker
admitted, “but his art! Oh, Miss Schiller, what an artist he was!” Mr.
Becker heaved a deep sigh, and raised his eyes to the ceiling.

Before Gretel could speak again, there was a rattling of crockery, and
Mrs. Becker reappeared, bearing a tray containing hot coffee and thick
slices of brown bread and butter. Setting the tray on the centre table,
she requested her husband and Gretel, in the same dull tone as before,
to “come and eat.” Gretel was very uncomfortable, and very anxious to
get away, but she dared not refuse the invitation, and Mrs. Becker
poured her out a cup of the steaming coffee.

“This is indeed a great pleasure,” remarked Mr. Becker, smiling
benignly. “We are proud, are we not, Gertrude, to have the daughter of
the great Hermann Schiller drink coffee with us?”

“Certainly we are proud,” murmured Mrs. Becker, obediently, but the
expression of her face did not change in the slightest, and Gretel,
knowing how anxious she must be about her niece, felt very sorry for
her. She was also a good deal surprised by Mr. Becker’s manner, for on
former occasions when she had gone to see Fräulein, that gentleman had
taken very little notice of her.

“Your father was not only a great artist, Miss Schiller,” the host
went on, sipping his coffee. “He was a great patriot as well. If there
were more men like him alive to-day, it might be better for our poor

Gretel’s face brightened. Perhaps, after all, she had been mistaken.
The likeness was certainly startling, but then people sometimes did
look alike.

“I am sure this war would have made Father very unhappy,” she said. “He
was so kind and gentle; he hated everything cruel.”

“All good Germans hate what is cruel,” Mr. Becker assured her. “All war
is terrible, but there are times when stern methods must be used. The
sterner the method, the sooner the fighting will be over.”

Gretel could not repress a slight shudder; Mr. Becker’s voice sounded
so fierce and determined. She glanced at Mrs. Becker, but her
expression remained unchanged.

“Your father loved his country better than anything else in the world,”
Mr. Becker went on, solemnly. “I once had the pleasure of hearing him
speak at a dinner given for the German Ambassador, and it was one of
the most stirring speeches I have ever listened to in my life. I wish I
possessed a copy, that I might read it to you.”

“I should like to hear anything Father ever said,” said Gretel, with an
uneasy glance towards the clock.

“I am sure you would, but, alas! I fear it is impossible. That speech
was delivered more than ten years ago, but I am convinced that Hermann
never wavered in his love and allegiance to the Fatherland. I hope his
daughter loves her country as well.”

“I hope I do,” said Gretel, blushing. “I would love to help my country,
but there isn’t much a girl of my age can do, except knit for the
soldiers, and make bandages and surgical dressings for the Red Cross.”

Mr. Becker’s face was fairly beaming at her across the table.

“You cannot be sure about that,” he said. “In these days there is work
for all to do. No one is too young or too ignorant to help. You may
not realize it, but you have a great opportunity before you.”

“I!” cried Gretel, opening her eyes in genuine astonishment. “Why, what
can I do?”

Mr. Becker smiled a rather peculiar smile.

“You are going to Washington,” he said, “and you have been visiting
in New London. One often sees and hears things that might be of great
service to the Government, and which should be reported.”

Gretel remembered Fritz Lippheim, and her cheeks grew crimson. Was it
possible that Fräulein’s uncle knew of that meeting, and was going to
reprove her for not betraying her old friend? She did not speak, and in
a moment Mr. Becker went on.

“Your brother, I understand, holds an important position in Washington.
You are likely to meet many interesting people, and may hear things
which will be very valuable to us. You understand what I mean, do you

Gretel gave a violent start, and her heart began to beat very fast.

“I don’t think I do understand,” she said. “Do you mean that I should
tell my brother everything I see and hear? I would do that naturally,
of course, but sometimes one happens to meet an old friend, just by
accident, and----”

Gretel paused, abruptly, struck by the altered expression of Mr.
Becker’s face. He still smiled, but his smile had changed.

“I think perhaps you do understand a little better than you care to
show,” he said, mysteriously. “I must give you credit, my dear young
lady, for being much cleverer than I supposed.”

Gretel pushed back her chair from the table, and rose.

“I really cannot stay any longer,” she said, hurriedly. “I am afraid my
brother will be anxious about me. Good-bye, Mrs. Becker. I am terribly
sorry about Fräulein. Perhaps you will send me a line to let me know
how she gets on. My address is----”

“Sit down!” thundered Mr. Becker, in a voice so changed that Gretel
dropped back into her chair, shaking from head to foot.

“I think we are misunderstanding each other,” the man went on, in a
quieter tone, but with eyes fixed sternly on Gretel’s face. “When I
ask Hermann Schiller’s daughter if she wishes to help her country, I
naturally suppose she knows what country I mean.”

“I thought you meant my own country,” faltered Gretel. “I am an

“An American!” repeated Mr. Becker, scornfully. “Hermann Schiller’s
daughter an American! It is impossible! I will not believe it.”

“My mother was an American,” said Gretel, “and I was born here in New
York. I have always loved Germany, for my father’s sake, but if he
were alive now, I know he would not approve of the dreadful things the
Germans are doing.” Gretel was horribly frightened, and yet, oddly
enough, she had never felt so truly an American as she did at that

There was a moment of intense silence, during which Mr. Becker
continued to regard his visitor with stern, incredulous eyes. Then the
man said, slowly:

“I see. You have been deceived, like so many others. You have been told
only one side of this great question. Otherwise, nothing will persuade
me to believe the daughter of a German patriot would turn her back on
the Fatherland in her hour of need. Listen, and I will try to explain
the truth to you. Germany is fighting for her existence. She has been
cheated, deceived--do you understand?”

Mr. Becker talked on steadily for the next ten minutes, but Gretel
scarcely heard a word he said. Her eyes were on the clock, and her sole
thought was of making her escape. Oh, why had she ever come here, even
for Fräulein’s sake? Would that dreadful man never stop talking, and
let her go home? At last Mr. Becker paused.

“Have I made the situation any more clear to you?” he inquired,

“I--I don’t know,” faltered Gretel. “I know you think Germany is in the
right--I suppose all Germans do--but I am an American. Now will you
please let me go? It is getting very late.”

Mr. Becker turned furiously upon his wife.

“What did that fool Anna mean by telling us this girl was a German?” he
demanded. “She gave us to understand the child could be useful to the

“Oh, Rudolph,” protested Mrs. Becker, beginning to cry, “it is not my
fault, I am sure. I only told you what Anna said. Indeed, I am not to

“Not to blame!” her husband repeated, fiercely; “but where is the use
in blaming fools? As to you, young lady, I find I have made a mistake.
I thought I was speaking to a German, but I see you have no desire to
help your father’s people. But there is one thing you must and shall do
before you leave this room. You shall solemnly swear never to repeat
to a living soul one word of what has passed here this afternoon. You
must swear not even to mention having been to this house. Otherwise, I
shall not let you go.”

Gretel was very white. She felt sick and faint, and more frightened
than she had ever been in her life. But through all her terror she
seemed to hear Ada Godfrey’s clear voice proclaiming:

“Any one who doesn’t report a suspect is a disloyal American citizen.”

“I can’t be disloyal to my country,” she told herself, desperately.
“Perhaps I shall be killed, but it would be better to die than be

Mr. Becker went into an adjoining room, whence he returned, carrying a
large German Bible, which he laid upon the table.

“Are you prepared to swear?” he demanded, sternly. “Even if you are not
willing to help Germany, I scarcely suppose you are willing to have
your father’s people punished through any fault or mistake of yours. I
believe you are to be trusted in so far as that. Will you swear?”

THAT.”--_Page 224._]

Gretel’s white lips moved, but no sound came from them. She resolutely
shook her head. Mrs. Becker clasped her hands, with an exclamation of

Mr. Becker laid a heavy hand on the girl’s trembling shoulder.

“Do you realize what you are doing?” he asked, and his voice shook a
little, but whether with anger or fear Gretel did not know.

“I can’t swear not to tell,” she whispered. “It would be disloyal to my
brother, and--and to my country.”

“Then,” said Mr. Becker, sternly, “you will not be allowed to leave
this house. Do you understand what that means?”

Gretel gave a little frightened sob. She glanced towards the open
window, with some wild idea of screaming for help, but as if
anticipating her intention, Mr. Becker sprang across the room and
closed the window with a bang.

“Now,” said the man, turning fiercely upon her again, “perhaps you will
realize that I am in earnest. I will give you one more chance. Will you
solemnly swear not to mention to any human being where you have been
this afternoon, or repeat one word of what has passed?”

Again Gretel shook her head.

“I can’t swear,” she whispered, in a voice so unlike her own that it
startled her.

Mr. Becker seized her roughly by the arm. His eyes were blazing with

“You little fool!” he cried. “You little obstinate fool!”

He half led, half dragged her out of the room, down the narrow hall of
the apartment.

“Go in there!” he commanded, “and, remember, if you make one sound,
try in any way to attract attention, you will have a gag put into your
mouth. That will not be pleasant, so you had best do as I say. There
are other Germans in this house, besides myself, and they know what
loyalty to their country sometimes requires.”

In another moment Gretel found herself in a small dark room; the door
was closed, and she heard the turning of the key in the lock. She was a

It had all been so sudden, so unexpected, that for the first few
minutes Gretel scarcely believed it was true. It seemed so much more
like the things that happened in bad dreams that she half expected to
wake up suddenly and find herself on the library sofa, where she had
been dozing when Mr. Becker’s summons came. But gradually the awful
truth began to dawn upon her, and then she sank down in a little heap
on the floor, and lay there, moaning in a terror greater than any she
had ever known in her life.

How long she lay there she did not know, but at last she raised her
head and began to look about her. The room had no window, but was
lighted from a skylight, and although very hot and stuffy, it was
not without air. It was evidently used as a storeroom, for the only
furniture it contained were several trunks and boxes, and everything
was plentifully sprinkled with dust. There was light enough to enable
her to look about, but she could see no means of escape, or even of
attracting attention, had she dared to do so after Mr. Becker’s
dreadful threat. It must be after six o’clock by this time, she was
sure, and Percy would soon be coming for her. Oh, what would he
think?--what would everybody think? She got up off the floor, and began
walking rapidly up and down the narrow limits of her prison. She felt
along the wall with her hands, in the wild hope of finding some means
of escape, but, alas! there was only the one door, and that was locked.
With a cry of despair, she sank down on one of the trunks and burst
into an agony of tears.

She cried until she was utterly exhausted, and then sat, leaning her
head against the wall, in a kind of hopeless despair. She had no
means of knowing what time it was, but from the diminished light she
felt sure it must be getting dark. Percy would be waiting for her by
this time--growing more anxious every moment. He would telephone the
Barlows, but they would know nothing. Oh, why had she not told Mrs.
Murphy where she was going? In that case Percy might have found her,
but now----

Gretel’s reflections were cut short by the turning of the key; the door
swung open and revealed Mr. Becker standing on the threshold, and his
wife close behind him. Mrs. Becker carried a tray.

“My wife has brought your supper,” said the man, shortly. “You may
bring in the tray, Gertrude.”

Mrs. Becker came in and set the tray down on one of the trunks. There
was a gas-jet in the room, and the woman struck a match and lighted
it. Gretel noticed that Mrs. Becker’s eyes were red and swollen. She
also noticed that the tray contained a well-filled plate of some kind
of stew, as well as several slices of bread and butter, and a glass of

“I will come back in half an hour to take away the things,” Mr. Becker
announced, “so you had best eat at once.”

Gretel clasped her hands imploringly.

“Please, please let me go!” she cried, tremulously, but the man only
shook his head, and in another moment the door was closed again, and
the key turned in the lock.

In spite of Mr. Becker’s advice to “eat at once,” Gretel did not begin
her supper. Indeed, she felt no desire for food of any kind. The smell
of the steaming stew, plentifully seasoned with onions, made her so
sick that she moved as far as possible from the tray, and sat down on
a box in the corner. She was growing more and more frightened every
moment. If they kept her there all night she was sure she should die
of fright. And yet, strange to say, even at that moment, the idea of
securing her liberty by making the required promise never entered her

At the end of the stipulated half hour Mrs. Becker returned, but this
time she came alone. She glanced at the untouched food, and then at

“Don’t you like your supper?” she inquired, not without some surprise
in her tone. “The stew is good. I made it myself.”

“I am not hungry,” said Gretel. “Oh, Mrs. Becker,” she added, eagerly,
“can’t you persuade your husband to let me go home? My brother will be
so terribly worried.”

Mrs. Becker softly closed the door and stood with her back against it.

“You ought not to have made Rudolph so angry,” she said in a frightened
whisper. “You should have done what he asked. I never disobey him,

“But I couldn’t do what he asked,” cried Gretel. “Oh, Mrs. Becker,
don’t you see I couldn’t? I am an American.”

“Well, what does that matter? Your father was a German; you should be
a German, too. Now you have made my husband angry, and Heaven knows
what will happen. Rudolph is a great patriot; he is working for the
Fatherland. No one suspects, but if you told what he said to you, it
would do terrible harm to the cause. Rudolph’s life might be in danger,
and his friends’ lives, too. He has two friends in there with him now.”
Mrs. Becker opened the door a crack as she spoke, and Gretel caught the
sound of men’s voices. They were not talking loud, but their voices
sounded excited, and she could even distinguish a few German words she

“You hear?” said the woman, and heaved a long sigh.

Gretel burst into tears.

“Oh, what shall I do? what shall I do?” she sobbed. “No one has any
idea where I am. They will never be able to find me. Mrs. Becker, for
the love of Heaven, help me to get away.”

“It is indeed terrible,” sighed Mrs. Becker, “but it is all your own
fault. If you had obeyed my husband, you would have been at home hours
ago. I am very sorry, but there is nothing I can do. Rudolph says I may
bring in a mattress and a pillow, and in the morning I will bring your
breakfast, and some water, so that you may wash.”

She was turning to leave the room when Gretel suddenly remembered

“Oh, Mrs. Becker,” she said, anxiously, “have you heard anything from
the hospital yet?”

“The hospital,” repeated Mrs. Becker, looking puzzled; “why should I
hear from a hospital?”

“Why, about Fräulein, of course,” gasped Gretel. “You said they had
taken her to the hospital for an operation.”

“Oh, Anna, you mean,” said Mrs. Becker, her dull face lighting with
comprehension. “Rudolph told me to say Anna was in a hospital, but it
was not true. She is in New Jersey, governess to two little boys. She
left nearly two weeks ago, just before my husband and I moved here.”

“But--but why did you send for me, then?” questioned the astonished
Gretel. “I thought it was because Fräulein was ill and wanted to see

“My husband sent for you,” said Mrs. Becker, slowly, “because Anna had
told us you were a good German. He thought you might be of use to him,
but he made a mistake, and so he is very angry.”



They were having a merry evening at the Chesters’. Stephen Cranston
and Jimmy Fairfax had come to dinner, and later, Ada Godfrey and
her friends, including the objectionable Archie, had strolled over,
in response to a telephone message from hospitable Molly. They had
sat on the piazza for a while, the girls comparing notes about last
evening’s dance, the boys discussing the latest German air raid, and
then Stephen--who was generally the chief mover in every party--had
suggested impromptu charades.

“We won’t have to dress up, or anything like that,” he exclaimed.
“We’ll just divide, and one side will act out a word, while the other
side guesses it.”

Several words had been successfully acted and guessed, and the audience
was puzzling over the second syllable of “July,” represented by Jerry
lying flat on his back, while Paul and Geraldine used their united
efforts in an endeavor to raise him, when a servant appeared with
a whispered message to Mrs. Chester, who immediately rose and went

“It can’t be ‘Mule,’” said Molly, still intent on the word, “though
Jerry certainly does act like one, lying there, and falling back every
time they try to make him get up. I’m sure the first syllable was
‘Stingy’ or ‘Mean,’ but then that wouldn’t make sense. What do you
think the word is, Aunt Dulcie? You generally guess everything.”

“Wait till we see the next syllable,” said Mrs. Cranston. “I never
commit myself too soon.”

The actors had gone into the house to prepare for the acting of the
whole word, and at that moment Stephen appeared in the doorway.

“Hurry up, Steve,” called Molly. “We’re all waiting.”

“Aunt Molly wants to speak to you, Mother,” said Stephen, and, to
everybody’s surprise, his voice sounded grave and a little startled as
well. “She would like to speak to you, too, Molly.”

Mrs. Cranston and her niece rose hurriedly, and went into the house.
Stephen also disappeared, and the others were left to form their own

“What do you suppose has happened?” questioned Kitty, anxiously. “I
hope it isn’t bad news for any of us. My family were all right this
morning when Mother telephoned, but things do happen so suddenly

“I don’t believe it’s anything important,” said Ada, cheerfully.
“Perhaps it’s a message from Mrs. Cranston’s publisher, offering her an
enormous price for her next book.”

Everybody laughed at this suggestion, and Jimmy said he had never heard
of publishers sending communications to their clients at night. “It’s
probably a message from Mr. Chester. I hope the Germans haven’t sunk
another ship.” Just then Jerry and Paul appeared, and Kitty inquired,

“Is anything the matter?”

“I don’t know,” said Jerry. “They’ve all gone into the library, and
shut the door. I heard Mrs. Chester talking on the ’phone, but couldn’t
make out what she was saying. We’ve decided not to act the rest of the
word till they come out. Here comes Molly now. Is it all right, Molly?
Shall we go on?”

But one glance at Molly’s pale, startled face was sufficient to
convince them all that it was not all right. Without answering Jerry’s
question, she hurried across the piazza and seized Kitty by the arm.

“Something dreadful has happened,” she gasped. “Gretel is lost.”

“Lost!” cried several voices, in a tone of incredulous amazement. And
Ada added, impatiently:

“What on earth are you talking about, Molly?”

“It’s true,” said Molly, in a low, frightened voice. “She went out
early this afternoon, and hasn’t come back yet. Nobody knows where she
is. Her brother has been telephoning everywhere, and now Father has
called up here to find out if any of us heard her say what she intended
doing. Geraldine says she asked Gretel to go and see her mother, but
they’ve telephoned the Barlows, and they don’t know anything about her.
She hasn’t been there at all. Come in, Kitty. Geraldine’s in an awful

The two girls hurried away, followed by Jerry, and the others sat
looking at each other in silent astonishment. It seemed as if a pall
had suddenly fallen on the merry little party.

“It’s the most awful thing I ever heard in my life!” declared Ada’s
friend, Betty Ross, in a tone of mingled horror and excitement. “Why,
it’s after nine o’clock. Think of a girl staying out till this time and
not letting her family know where she is. She’s German, isn’t she?”

“Her father was,” said Ada, “but her brother is an American. He is
doing Government work in Washington, and Gretel was to go home with
him on to-night’s train. Oh, I hope nothing dreadful has happened to
her.” And Ada--who was really not a hard-hearted girl--looked very much

“Perhaps she’s a spy, and gone off to tell the Germans things she’s
found out here in New London.” The words made every one jump. They
were uttered in Archie Davenport’s shrill, aggressive voice, and that
objectionable small boy--who had been a rather bored spectator of the
charades--now made himself heard for the first time.

“Hush, Archie; for shame!” cried his cousin, indignantly. But Archie
was not to be easily put down.

“Things like that do happen,” he maintained stoutly. “I was reading a
book the other day, all about a girl spy, and she wasn’t any older than
this one, either. So why----”

“Archie, hold your tongue, I tell you.” In the excitement of the
moment, Ada quite forgot that she was a young lady, and brought her
foot down on the piazza floor with a decided stamp. “He reads such
trashy books, he gets his head full of nonsense,” she added by way
of explanation to the others. “People we know don’t do things of that
kind. Besides, Gretel isn’t really German herself. She doesn’t even

Ada paused abruptly. She had suddenly remembered something. Jimmy
Fairfax also remembered, and the two exchanged a startled glance.
Neither spoke, however, and in a few minutes Ada rose and walked away
to the end of the piazza, where she was quickly joined by her indignant

“I don’t see what makes you so cross,” complained the injured Archie.
“I didn’t say anything I oughtn’t to. You know there are a lot of
German spies, just as well as I do, and you said the other day you were
surprised they let the Schiller girl go to the naval station with the
others, because of her German name.”

“I never said Gretel was a spy,” snapped Ada. “I never thought of such
a thing. You mustn’t talk about such dreadful possibilities. Gretel is
a friend of mine.”

“I wouldn’t have a German friend,” began Archie, patriotically, but
he got no further, for at that moment Jimmy Fairfax joined them, and
he deemed it prudent to keep his ideas to himself, remembering Stephen
Cranston’s remarks on a similar occasion. Jimmy was looking both grave
and troubled.

“May I speak to you for a moment alone?” he asked Ada, in a rather low

“Certainly. Run away, Archie; I want to talk to Mr. Fairfax. Go and see
what they are doing about Gretel. They may have heard something more.”

Archie retired obediently, but he did not join the rest of the party.
Neither did he go as far away as Ada expected.

“I’m a good deal worried about what I told you last night,” Jimmy
began, as soon as Ada’s small cousin was supposedly out of hearing.
“Of course, the man I saw talking to Gretel Schiller may not have been
a German, or even if he were one, Mrs. Chester may know all about the
matter. But if the girl has really disappeared, do you think it is my
duty to tell Mrs. Chester what I saw that day?”

Ada hesitated. She did not want to injure Gretel, and yet Gretel was a
German, and there were so many strange stories going about.

“I think perhaps we’d better wait a little while,” she compromised.
“Gretel may come home all right, and everything be explained. But if
she really has disappeared, I suppose we shall have to tell all we
know.” Ada’s voice was solemn, but she was not quite free from a little
thrill of excitement at the prospect of possibly being the means of
unearthing some deep-laid German plot.

“It’s a horribly uncomfortable position,” said Jimmy, regretfully. “I
hate to tell tales, and yet what I saw might furnish a clue. Besides,
our duty as loyal Americans----”

“Of course, it will be our duty to tell, if Gretel isn’t found this
evening,” interrupted Ada. “We must think of our country before
everything else in these days, you know. I wish the Chesters hadn’t
taken Gretel to visit the submarine base. No German is allowed near the
place, but they felt so sure she was a loyal American, and Stephen
vouched for her. You don’t suppose she could have found out any
important secrets, do you?”

Jimmy shook his head.

“I don’t see how that could be possible,” he said. “She might imagine
she had found out something, though. Oh, I dare say it’s all perfectly
right and we shall hear in a few minutes that Miss Gretel has been to
see a friend, and stayed later than she intended. Such scares generally
end in nothing.”

“Let’s go in and find out what is happening,” suggested Ada, and the
two moved away towards the front door. Neither of them noticed a
small figure standing in the shadow of one of the windows, or heard a
malicious chuckle from Archie as they passed his hiding-place.

The scene in the library was anything but reassuring. Molly and
Geraldine were both crying; Kitty was twisting her handkerchief into
knots and looking decidedly frightened, and Mrs. Chester, Mrs. Cranston
and Stephen were talking together in low, anxious voices.

“She’s been run over and killed, I know she has,” wailed Geraldine.
“She was run over once before, when she was a little girl, but she
got well that time. Now it’s different. Oh, Gretel, Gretel, it’s too
dreadful!” And poor Geraldine broke down completely, and sobbed on
Molly’s shoulder.

Mrs. Cranston left her sister and her son and put a protecting arm
round the trembling girl.

“Don’t, dear,” she said, soothingly. “Things may not be as bad as you
think; Gretel may soon be found. We must all try to have a little
patience. Mr. Douaine and Mr. Chester are doing all they can.”

“Does any one know what happened?” Jimmy Fairfax asked Stephen, in a
low voice.

“Nothing beyond the fact that Gretel went out alone early in the
afternoon, and has not come home since. She left no message beyond
telling the caretaker that she was going out for a little while. Mr.
Douaine reached home a little before seven, and when he found his
sister had not come in, he telephoned to every place where he thought
it possible she could have gone. He finally succeeded in getting my
uncle, who told him he had left Gretel at home about noon. They thought
it possible she might have mentioned to some one here how she intended
spending the afternoon, but it seems the only thing she spoke of doing
was calling at the Barlows’, and she never turned up there.”

Jimmy looked very grave.

“Is there anything we can do?” he asked.

Stephen shook his head.

“Uncle Paul has promised to call us up again in an hour,” he said, “to
let us know if anything has been discovered. I shall stay here till
then. You can take the car back to the station, if you like. I don’t
mind walking.”

“I think I will wait, too,” said Jimmy, quietly.

The hour that followed was a very trying one for everybody. No one
even remembered the unfinished charade. Ada and her friends went home,
after exacting a promise from Molly to call up the moment there was
any news, and the others sat on the piazza in the starlight and waited.
Geraldine had stopped crying, but sat close to Mrs. Cranston, holding
her hand, as if finding comfort in the mere fact of being near one so
kind and sensible as Stephen’s mother. Paul and Frank were sent to
bed, but Jerry refused to go and sat on the steps at his twin sister’s
feet, perhaps finding more comfort there than he would have cared to
admit. Jerry was not a demonstrative boy, but he loved Geraldine better
than any one else in the world, and Gretel also held a very warm place
in his heart. Molly and Kitty whispered together in the hammock and
Stephen and his aunt walked up and down the piazza, arm in arm.

“It’s ten o’clock!” exclaimed Geraldine, as the chiming of the
grandfather’s clock on the stairs fell upon their ears. “It’s more than
an hour since Mr. Chester telephoned.”

“We shall hear something in a few minutes, I am sure,” Mrs. Cranston
said. “It often takes some time to get long distance, you know. Ah, I
thought so. There’s the telephone now.”

It was Stephen who reached it first, and was talking when the others
entered the library.

“Is that you, Uncle Paul? Yes, I can hear you all right. Any news?”

There was a breathless pause while Mr. Chester talked at the other end
of the wire. Then Stephen hung up the receiver. One glance at his face
was enough to tell them there was no good news.

“They haven’t found her yet,” he said. “They don’t think she has met
with an accident, though, for Mr. Douaine has telephoned all the
hospitals, and no one answering her description has been brought in.
Mr. Douaine has put the case in the hands of the police. Uncle Paul
says he will call up again early in the morning.”

“Mrs. Chester, may I speak to you a moment?”

Mrs. Chester--who had been trying to soothe the hysterical
Geraldine--turned at the sound of the voice, and found Jimmy Fairfax
standing by her side.

“Certainly,” she said, and followed the young man out into the empty

“I have something to tell you which may possibly throw some light on
this affair,” Jimmy said, hurriedly. “Do you happen to know whether
Miss Gretel had any German friends here in New London?”

“I know she had not,” Mrs. Chester answered positively. “Gretel had no
German friends whatever. Would you mind telling me what you have to say
as quickly as possible? I am afraid Geraldine is getting hysterical.”

When Mrs. Chester returned to the library, she was looking more puzzled
and perplexed than ever, and there were two bright red spots burning in
her cheeks.

There was little sleep for any one at the Chesters’ that night. The
two young men were obliged to return to the naval station, but Mrs.
Cranston promised to telephone her son the moment there was any news.
Then Mrs. Chester insisted on their all going to bed. Nothing could
be gained by sitting up, she said, and they were not likely to hear
anything more before morning.

“There is a telephone switch in my room,” she added, “and if a message
should come during the night I will let you know at once.”

Geraldine--who still clung passionately to Mrs. Cranston--begged not
to be left alone, and Stephen’s mother readily promised to come and
sleep with her. Molly and Kitty went quietly away to their room, and
Jerry stumbled up-stairs to the third floor, devoutly hoping that no
one would notice the tears, which, big boy though he was, refused to be
kept back any longer.

Mrs. Cranston was in her room, preparing for the night, when there was
a tap at the door, and her sister came in.

“I want to speak to you, Dulcie,” she said. “That Fairfax boy has been
telling me a story, which has made me very uncomfortable. It seems
he saw Gretel talking with a man--he is sure he was a German--in New
London one afternoon. It was the day you came and Gretel and I went to
the station to meet you. We both had shopping to do, and she left me to
buy some wool. I had to wait a few minutes for her, and Jimmy Fairfax
joined me. We were talking when Gretel came back. She apologized for
keeping me waiting, but did not mention having met any one she knew.
Young Fairfax says she seemed to be talking very earnestly with this
man, and before he could speak to her they had turned down one of the
side streets together. Now, Molly has told me that Gretel had no German
friends. It seems rather strange, don’t you think so? Do you think we
ought to mention this story? It might possibly throw some light on the
child’s disappearance.”

“I imagine the whole thing is mere nonsense,” declared Mrs. Cranston,
decidedly. “Probably the man was not a German at all. Even if he were,
nothing will ever make me believe that girl has done anything wrong or
deceitful. I should as soon think of doubting Steve as doubting her.”

Mrs. Chester looked very much relieved.

“I am glad you feel that way,” she said. “I cannot doubt Gretel either,
she is so honest and straightforward about everything, but I thought
she might possibly have met some old German friend, and----”

“Well, so she may have done. It is even possible that he may have asked
her not to mention the meeting, though I scarcely think that likely.
But whatever happened, I am sure the child was not to blame, and I do
not believe it has any connection with her disappearance. Of course, it
may become necessary to tell her brother what we have heard. We have no
right to keep anything back under the circumstances, but I always trust
my instincts, and I liked Gretel from the first moment I saw her. I am
positive that girl is not in any way to blame for what has happened.”

More than once Mrs. Cranston repeated those words to herself during the
hours of the long, wakeful night. Geraldine cried herself to sleep at
last, but her companion lay awake for hours, thinking with an aching
heart of the girl she had grown to love, over whose disappearance
there hung such a dark curtain of mystery.

Geraldine was awake again almost as soon as it was light, begging to be
allowed to get up and go down-stairs.

“Mr. Chester promised to telephone the first thing in the morning,” she
pleaded feverishly, “and I want to be there when the message comes.”

Mrs. Cranston, seeing the uselessness in trying to keep the girl
in bed, yielded to her persuasions, and Geraldine was on her way
down-stairs when the clocks were striking five. But early as she was,
some one else was before her, for on entering the library she found
Jerry curled up on the sofa, fast asleep.

At Geraldine’s exclamation of surprise, her twin sat up and rubbed his

“Hello!” he said, staring about him sleepily. “Oh, it’s you, Geraldine.
I must have just dropped off for a minute.”

“How long have you been down here?” his sister inquired.

“I don’t know exactly,” answered Jerry, with a yawn. “I kept waking up
all the time, and I got tired of listening to Paul snore, so thought
I might as well get up and come down here, just in case the telephone
should ring, you know.”

Geraldine sat down on the sofa and laid her head on her brother’s

“That’s what I came for, too,” she said. “It’s only just five, but Mrs.
Cranston said I might get up if I liked. After all, I remember there
is a telephone switch in Mrs. Chester’s bedroom, but I’m glad I came,
anyway, now you’re here, too. Oh, Jerry dear, I’m so terribly unhappy.
Gretel is my best friend, and I’m sure something dreadful has happened
to her.”

Jerry and Geraldine were not the only people in the house who listened
anxiously for the sound of the telephone bell, but it was eight o’clock
before the long-expected message came, and then, alas! it brought no
good news. The police had been working on the case all night, but as
yet they had found no clue. Indeed, there was very little to go upon.
It seemed as if Gretel had been swallowed up in the earth. Sorely
against her will, but feeling it the only thing to be done under the
circumstances, Mrs. Chester repeated to her husband the story Jimmy
Fairfax had told her.

“Neither Dulcie nor I believe one word against the child,” she
finished, “but it is just possible she may have met some old German
friend and been ashamed to mention the fact to us.”

Mr. Chester said that he would tell Gretel’s brother, but agreed with
his wife in the opinion that the story was not likely to throw much
light upon the girl’s mysterious disappearance.

The effect of Mr. Chester’s message was very depressing. Geraldine
begged to be allowed to go home at once.

“I can’t stay here till Monday,” she told Mrs. Chester. “It will seem
nearer to Gretel if I am in New York. Jerry wants to go, too.”

Mrs. Chester and her sister talked the matter over and it was decided
that if the twins wanted to go, it would be best to let them have
their way. It was quite impossible that they could enjoy themselves
any longer in New London. So a telegram was dispatched to Mrs. Barlow,
and Geraldine went up to her room to pack, accompanied by Molly, who
was only a trifle less miserable than herself. They were in the midst
of folding dresses when Kitty appeared, with the announcement that Ada
Godfrey had come over to inquire for news.

“She’s on the piazza,” she added, “talking to Mrs. Cranston, and that
horrid Davenport boy is with her.”

“I hate that boy,” declared Molly. “I should think Ada would know
enough to keep him away from here. Do you remember how rude he was to
Gretel that Sunday afternoon? Tell Ada I’ll be right down. You won’t
want to come, I know, Geraldine.”

“I don’t think I could talk to Ada to-day,” said Geraldine, “and as for
that Davenport boy, I hope he’ll go home before Jerry sees him. Jerry
wanted to punch his head before, for being horrid to Gretel. If they
should meet to-day I don’t know what would happen.”

Molly and Kitty departed, leaving Geraldine to finish her packing, with
the assistance of Mrs. Chester’s maid. They found Ada on the piazza,
but Archie Davenport was nowhere to be seen.

“Where’s your cousin?” Molly asked, mindful of Geraldine’s fears.

“Gone off somewhere to look for the boys, I think,” Ada answered
indifferently. “Oh, girls, isn’t it terrible about Gretel? What do you
suppose has become of her?”

Before either Molly or Kitty could answer, they were all startled by
the sound of shouting, and little Frank Chester came running round
the corner from the stable, flushed and breathless from haste and

“Oh, come, come quick!” he implored. “Jerry’s killing Archie Davenport.
He’s got him down on the ground, and he’s rolling him over and over and
pummelling him like everything.”

With an exclamation of horror, the three girls sprang to their feet,
and at the same instant Stephen Cranston’s “Ford” came dashing up to
the front door, and that young gentleman himself sprang out.

“Any news?” he demanded eagerly, but nobody answered him. Molly seized
his arm.

“Come, Steve,” she cried, “don’t wait to ask any questions. Jerry is
beating Archie Davenport, and we’ve got to stop them before Archie is

Archie was not killed, but he presented a very forlorn-looking
appearance when the party arrived at the scene of action. Covered
with dust, one eye closed and blood pouring from his nose, he sat
ignominiously on the ground, while Jerry--his own nose bleeding
profusely--towered above him, his eyes blazing with wrath.

“Apologize,” Jerry commanded, “apologize this minute, or I’ll do it

“I--I apologize,” faltered Archie, beginning to cry. “You’re a wicked
boy, though, and I’ll have you arrested for treating me like this, see
if I don’t.”

“What was the trouble, Jerry?” Stephen inquired, while Ada fell upon
her cousin with a torrent of mingled sympathy and reproach.

“He said something he had no business to,” returned Jerry. “I’d rather
not repeat it, if you don’t mind. It was a lie, and that’s enough for
anybody to know.”

“Archie, you didn’t say anything horrid about Gretel!” cried Ada,
indignantly. “If you did I’m not a bit sorry he made your nose bleed.”

“I only said----” began Archie, but Jerry cut him short.

“None of that now, do you hear? You say one more word, and you’ll
get something more from me. I’d kill any fellow who dared say a word
against Gretel, even if he were twice my size.”

“Jerry, you’re a trump!” cried Stephen, giving the boy a sounding slap
on the back. “I honor you. Now go into the house and wash your face. As
for you, you little cad,” he added, turning to the crestfallen Archie,
“you deserve ten times more than you’ve got, and I hope I shall
never see you on this place again.” And, quite regardless of Ada’s
reproachful glances, he turned and followed Jerry back to the house.



“Don’t you really think, Geraldine, that you could manage to sit still
for at least five minutes?”

Mrs. Barlow’s tone was plaintive, as she lifted her head from the
sofa cushions in her darkened bedroom. Geraldine turned from the open
window, where she had been trying to peep through the closed blinds,
and came over to her mother’s side.

“I’m sorry I bother you, Mummy,” she said. “I really am trying to keep
quiet, but it’s so hard to settle down to anything. I suppose I’m

“Nervous!” repeated Mrs. Barlow, with a sigh; “I should think you
were! We are all nervous, for that matter, and who can wonder at it. I
haven’t had a good night’s sleep since it happened, and if it were not
for the bromide Dr. Trevor gives me, I’m sure I don’t know where I
should be now. As it is, my head is splitting.”

“Let me bathe it with cologne,” proposed Geraldine, eager for any
occupation, “or else let me fan you.”

“The scent of the cologne makes me ill, but you may fan me if you like.
This heat is frightful. I am sure the thermometer must be up to ninety.
Don’t you want to go and look?”

“Where’s the use? You’ll only feel worse if you know how hot it is.
It’s cooler in this room than anywhere else. The sun doesn’t come here
till afternoon. Then you can go into the library.”

“I’d rather stay here. The noise in the front of the house drives me
frantic. I was never in town at this season before in my life. If it
doesn’t get cooler in a day or two, I shall have to persuade your
father to take us to the shore.”

“You wouldn’t go away now, Mother, would you?--not before Gretel is

Mrs. Barlow sighed again, and passed her hand wearily across her

“If there were only a chance of the dear child’s being found,” she
murmured, “but it all seems so hopeless. A week yesterday since she
disappeared, and not the faintest clue yet. Oh, Geraldine, darling,
just think, it might have happened to you!”

“Well, it didn’t happen to me, Mother,” said Geraldine, a little
impatiently. “Of course they’ll find Gretel; they’ve got to find her.”
Geraldine’s voice broke in a quickly suppressed sob.

“There you go again,” moaned her mother, reproachfully. “I can’t say a
word without your beginning to cry. I don’t care what your father says;
I shall insist on giving you a dose of bromide to-night. Your nerves
are completely unstrung.”

“I’m all right, Mummy,” said Geraldine, tremulously; “don’t bother
about me. I’ll fan you, and if you lie still, perhaps you’ll fall
asleep. I’m sure a nap will do you good.”

“I dare say it would,” her mother admitted, “but it seems as if I
couldn’t sleep. Every time I drop off I have such frightful dreams. I
can’t get the thought of that poor child out of my mind for a moment.
It’s so horrible to think that no one knows what has become of her.
Sometimes I almost wish I could believe she had run away of her own

“Mother!” cried Geraldine, indignantly. “How can you say such a thing?
You know Gretel wouldn’t run away. She loved us all dearly; she
wouldn’t have worried her brother for the world. Oh, Mother, how can
you?” Geraldine’s voice shook ominously.

“There, there, dear,” Mrs. Barlow said, soothingly, “of course I know
she didn’t. Gretel is a dear child; she always was. I only mean that
almost anything would be better than this terrible suspense.”

“Mother,” said Geraldine, abruptly, “do you suppose any one believes
Gretel went away on purpose?”

“My dear child, how should I know? Whom have I seen, shut up here all
this week? Not a living soul except your father and you children.
Of course, your father says there has been some talk, which is only
natural, under the circumstances. It was unfortunate that Gretel’s
father should have been a German, but no one who really knew the child
could possibly believe a word against her.”

Geraldine sprang to her feet.

“I’m going away for a few minutes,” she said, hurriedly. “You won’t
mind, will you, Mummy? I’ll be right back.”

“Oh, no, I won’t mind,” her mother answered, languidly. “I think
perhaps I might drop off to sleep if I were alone. Go and try to amuse
yourself. You were going to do so much knitting for the soldiers, and
you haven’t taken a stitch in a week.”

“Would you mind if I went out for a little while?” Geraldine asked,
pausing in the doorway.

“Out in this awful heat! How can you? But if you want to go, I suppose
you can. Be sure to keep in the shade, though, and don’t stir one step
without Eugenie. I shall never let you go out by yourself again. I
suppose you want to go to the Douaines’.”

“I should like to if I may, just for a few minutes. They might have
heard something this morning.”

“Don’t deceive yourself with false hopes,” her mother advised. “Barbara
Douaine will let us know the moment there is any news. But if it
comforts you to go there I have no objection. Give my love to Barbara,
and tell her I would come myself if I were able to lift my head.”

Geraldine hurried away, thankful for any occupation that would keep her
moving. The past week had been the saddest of her bright young life,
and as the dreadful days dragged on, bringing no relief--no news of the
absent Gretel--the girl had grown perceptibly thinner and paler. To-day
was the worst day of all, for Jerry, her constant comfort and standby,
had gone up the Hudson with his father, who had Government business to
transact at West Point. Geraldine herself had been urged to make one of
the party, but had refused so decidedly that her father had deemed it
useless to persist. Jerry would have remained at home, too, but that
she would not allow.

“Jerry loves Gretel almost as much as I do,” she told herself, as she
mounted the stairs to her own room, “but boys are different from girls.
They’ve got to have something to do. They can’t stand just sitting
still and waiting for things to happen. I’m glad Jerry can enjoy
himself, but I couldn’t have a good time anywhere in the world just

Ten minutes later Geraldine, accompanied by Eugenie, the French
maid, was hurrying along the sun-baked streets in the direction of
the Douaines’. Eugenie, who, of course, knew all about Gretel’s
disappearance, was both voluble and sympathetic.

“Has Mademoiselle seen the morning paper?” she wanted to know.
Geraldine said she had not looked at it.

“There is a picture of Mademoiselle Gretel on the front page,” Eugenie
informed her. “Any one would know her; the likeness is perfect.”

Geraldine swallowed a lump in her throat, and asked a question.

“What do people think has become of Miss Gretel, Eugenie?”

Eugenie lowered her voice to a mysterious whisper.

“They think the Boche have something to do with it,” she said.

“The Boche?” repeated Geraldine. “Oh, you mean the Germans. But Gretel
isn’t a German, she is an American.”

“Her father was a German,” said Eugenie, “and it is said she had German

“Who says so?” demanded Geraldine, and she spoke so sharply that the
maid looked rather frightened.

“I know nothing,” she murmured apologetically, “nothing whatever. My
friends know nothing. I only repeat what I read in the papers.”

“The papers!” repeated Geraldine, incredulously. “You mean the papers
say the Germans took Gretel away?”

“They do not say that exactly, but they think it possible. The young
lady was seen talking with a Boche--I mean a German--one day about a
week before she was lost. It was in New London. Those Germans will stop
at nothing that is wicked.”

Geraldine stamped her foot impatiently.

“That little wretch Archie Davenport made up the story,” she said,
indignantly. “There isn’t a word of truth in it. Gretel didn’t know any
Germans, and if one had spoken to her, she would have told me about
it. We always tell each other everything. Oh, wouldn’t I like to wring
that boy’s neck? Jerry gave him a black eye, and made his nose bleed,
for saying that same thing, but that wasn’t half punishment enough. I
suppose he has gone on talking, and now the newspapers have gotten hold
of it. Father says they get hold of everything they can. Oh, it’s too
awful!” Geraldine checked a rising sob, and did not speak again till
they reached the Douaines’.

The house was no longer closed, as it had been on the morning of
Gretel’s return from New London. Many of the blinds and windows were
open, and in answer to Geraldine’s ring, the door was opened, not by
Mrs. Murphy, but by a young woman with red eyes.

“Why, Dora,” cried Geraldine in surprise, “I didn’t know you were here.
When did you come up from Washington?”

“Last night, Miss Geraldine,” the girl answered. “Maggie came, too. Mr.
Douaine sent for us. They think we may be needed, especially if Miss
Gretel should be ill when they find her.”

“When they find her,” the words made Geraldine’s heart leap with sudden

“Have they any news?” she demanded, breathlessly.

Dora shook her head and began to cry.

“Oh, Miss Geraldine, isn’t it awful?” she sobbed. “Whatever can have
happened to her? It’s the most dreadful thing that ever was. It just
breaks my heart to look at Mr. and Mrs. Douaine. If those wicked
Germans had anything to do with it, I hope they’ll be killed, every

“The Germans had nothing to do with it,” said Geraldine, impatiently.
“Is Mrs. Douaine up-stairs? Do you think I could see her?”

“Yes, Miss, she’s in the library, writing letters, and I’m sure she’d
be glad to see you. Mr. Douaine is out most of the time, working with
the police, and she hardly sees any one. Those newspaper reporters keep
calling up on the telephone about every hour, and Mrs. Douaine always
answers them so patiently. Do go up and see her, Miss Geraldine. Maybe
you can cheer her up a little.”

Leaving Eugenie in the hall with Dora, Geraldine hurried up-stairs to
the library, where she and Gretel had spent so many pleasant hours
together. Mrs. Douaine was writing at her desk, but on the visitor’s
entrance she laid down her pen, and rose.

“I am so glad you have come, dear,” she said, kissing Geraldine. “I
thought you would be here this morning. How is your mother?”

“Just about the same. She says she can’t sleep, and her head aches all
the time. Oh, dear, dear Mrs. Douaine, isn’t there any news yet--not
the very slightest clue?”

“I am afraid not yet, dear, but we must try and be patient. The
detectives say there is every reason to hope that something may be
discovered this week. Come and sit down, and let me have a good cry on
your shoulder. I try to keep up before Percy--he has enough to bear
himself, poor fellow--but I think it does me good to break down once in
a while.”

“Oh, you poor dear!” cried Geraldine, throwing her arms round her
friend’s neck, and they clung to each other in silent grief.

“Mrs. Douaine,” said Geraldine, abruptly, when they were both calmer,
and were sitting together on the sofa, “did you see Gretel’s picture in
the _Times_ this morning?”

“No, dear, but Percy told me about it.”

“Eugenie told me,” said Geraldine, “and she says--she says there is
something else, too. Some people think Gretel may have run away on
purpose. You don’t believe any such nonsense, do you?”

“Certainly not,” Gretel’s sister-in-law answered, with so much decision
that Geraldine’s face brightened perceptibly.

“I knew you didn’t,” she said in a tone of relief, “but it’s ever so
comforting to hear you say it.”

“It is all a great mystery,” said Mrs. Douaine, sadly, “but of one
thing Percy and I are absolutely certain, and that is that Gretel was
not to blame in any way. She is as true as steel, and devoted to us
all. Something terrible must have happened, but it was through no fault
of hers.”

“Then you don’t believe that silly story about talking with a strange
man in the street?”

“I think there was probably some mistake. The man may merely have
stopped to ask Gretel a question. I am sorry such a story should have
been started, for, of course, people will talk. There is such a strong
feeling against all Germans just now, and poor Gretel’s German name
tells against her, but I am sure that none of the child’s friends will
ever believe anything wrong about her. I have had several such dear
letters from the schoolgirls. I was just answering a beautiful one from
Miss Minton herself. We had no idea what a favorite Gretel was; she was
so gentle and modest, and never put herself forward in any way. I have
kept all the letters, thinking you might like to read them.”

“I should love to,” said Geraldine, “but--but, Mrs. Douaine, there is
something that I think perhaps I ought to tell you first. I am afraid
something did happen to Gretel one afternoon in New London.”

Mrs. Douaine looked very much startled.

“Why do you think so?” she asked. “Oh, Geraldine, you haven’t been
keeping anything back that might have helped us, have you, dear?”

Geraldine hid her face on her friend’s shoulder.

“I don’t think it could have helped,” she whispered. “I had forgotten
all about it till this morning, when Eugenie told me what was in the
paper. It was one day when Gretel went shopping with Mrs. Chester. I
was in our room when she came home, and she seemed rather queer and
excited. She cried about the war, and kept saying how terrible it was,
and that night I heard her crying, too. I thought some one had hurt her
feelings by saying something about her being German. But she wouldn’t
tell me when I asked her, and I was a little provoked because we always
tell each other everything. She seemed all right again the next day,
but I spoke to Jerry about it and he thought, as I did, that some one
had been rude or unkind. Afterwards we both forgot about it, and I
don’t suppose I should ever have remembered it again if it hadn’t been
for that horrid story. There was a horrid little boy--a cousin of Ada
Godfrey’s--who said something about Gretel having run off with the
Germans, but nobody paid any attention to him, and Jerry punched his
head for telling such stories. You don’t suppose it could have been
a German she met that day, and that he could have carried her off and
shut her up somewhere, do you?”

Mrs. Douaine hesitated.

“I scarcely think it likely,” she said. “What possible object could
any German have in doing such a thing? I will tell Percy when he comes
in, though, and he will do what he thinks best about informing the
police. We must not keep anything back that may prove a possible clue.
Of course, it is possible that Gretel might have met some old German
friend of her father’s, and not mentioned the fact to any one, but I
don’t for a moment believe it had the slightest connection with what
has happened.”

“I suppose we shall have to tell everything,” sighed Geraldine, “but
I can’t bear to have people saying and thinking horrid things about

“My dear,” said Mrs. Douaine, gently, “when we know a thing to be
untrue ourselves, why should we mind what foolish people may say? We
know positively that Gretel did not go away on purpose, that whatever
happened was through no fault of hers, so let us try to forget all the
unkind things people may say, and just keep on hoping and praying all
the time. What is it, Dora?”

“A lady to see you, ma’am,” announced Dora in the doorway. “I told her
you couldn’t see anybody, but she seems awful upset and says she must
see either you or Mr. Douaine. I think”--lowering her voice--“I think
she’s German.”

“Show her up,” said Mrs. Douaine, with sudden eagerness. “It may be a
clue,” she added to Geraldine, as Dora left the room.

There was a moment of silence; then the sound of approaching footsteps.

“I’ll go and meet her,” Mrs. Douaine said, rising, but before she could
reach the door, the visitor was already on the threshold.

“Fräulein!” cried Geraldine, springing to her feet, “why, it’s
Fräulein.” And she hurried forward, both hands outstretched.

Fräulein it was, but a Fräulein so changed--so pale and agitated that
it really was surprising that Geraldine should recognize her in that
first moment.

But the German woman scarcely noticed her old pupil. Pushing past
Geraldine, she rushed to Mrs. Douaine, and, to that lady’s utter
astonishment, suddenly dropped on her knees.

“Oh, I have heard!” she cried, “I have heard the terrible news! I knew
nothing until this morning. I never read your American newspapers
now, but this morning the family where I am living were talking at
the breakfast table, and I caught the name. I nearly fainted, and
afterwards I read what was in the paper. Oh, it is too horrible--too
horrible!” And Fräulein began to sob hysterically.

“I came as fast as I could,” she gasped; “I took the very first train.
I am living in New Jersey, and it took some time, but I did not lose a

“I am sure you did not,” said Mrs. Douaine, kindly. “I know how fond
you and Gretel were of each other. We have been trying to find you, but
we did not know your address. I hoped you would come when you heard.
Oh, do try to control yourself a little. I am afraid you will be ill.
Geraldine dear, bring Fräulein a glass of water.”

“German sentimentality,” muttered Geraldine to herself, as she hurried
away to the pantry. “I don’t believe she cares half as much as the
rest of us do, and yet by the way she goes on, one might think she was
Gretel’s own mother.”

Fräulein sipped the water, and was induced to rise from her knees, but
she still continued to sob, and clung convulsively to Mrs. Douaine’s

“I am not to blame, indeed I am not!” she declared between sobs. “It
is not my fault that this frightful thing has happened. It is not my

“Of course it is not your fault,” Mrs. Douaine assured her. “No one has
ever thought for a moment of blaming you in any way. The only reason we
have been trying to find you was that we thought it just possible that
you might have communicated with Gretel that day, and that she might
have been on her way to see you when--when it happened.”

Fräulein shook her head.

“I had nothing to do with it,” she said. “I was not here. I have been
governess to a family in New Jersey for the past month. She was coming
one day, before she went to New London, but she forgot. She wrote to
apologize to me for forgetting, and I thanked God on my knees that she
had not come.”

Geraldine gave a little gasp of astonishment, and the color faded from
Mrs. Douaine’s face.

“Why were you glad she had not come?” Gretel’s sister-in-law asked,
sharply. “Why were you so thankful?”

Fräulein did not answer; she only moaned, and wrung her hands

“I loved the child,” she wailed; “you may not believe me, but it is
true, I loved her dearly. I could not bear that any harm should come to
her through my fault.”

“And why did you fear that harm might have come to the girl through
your fault?”

It was not Mrs. Douaine who asked the question. In their excitement,
none of them had heard approaching footsteps, and now Mrs. Douaine and
Geraldine turned with a start, and discovered Gretel’s brother and
another man standing in the doorway. It was Mr. Douaine’s companion
who had spoken. He was a quietly dressed man, with a strong, clever
face, and Geraldine noticed with surprise that he spoke with a slightly
foreign accent. As for Fräulein, at sight of the two gentlemen, she
uttered a little frightened scream, and collapsed in a heap on the sofa.

The stranger waited a moment, and then repeated his question.

“And why did you fear that harm might come to the girl through your

“Who--who is he?” inquired Fräulein, in a tremulous whisper.

“I don’t know,” said Mrs. Douaine. “The other gentleman is my husband.
This is Gretel’s friend, Percy, Fräulein Sieling; you remember her.”

She glanced anxiously at her husband, but Mr. Douaine did not seem to
notice either the words or the glance. His eyes were fixed steadily on
his companion’s face.

“Do you know this lady, Mr. Douaine?” the stranger asked.

“I have only met her once, but my sister knew her well. She was the
German teacher at the girls’ school in Connecticut, which Gretel has
been attending for the past two winters.”

“Ah, I see. Well, Fräulein, perhaps you have something to tell us,
which may be of service to us in this sad business?”

“No, indeed, indeed I have not!” cried Fräulein, with a fresh burst
of tears. “I would give all I have in the world to be able to help
you, for the child is as dear to me as if she were my own sister. But
my uncle, he is a great patriot. He asked me to do something to help
my dear country, and there was so little I could do. I knew how dear
Gretel had adored her father, and I thought--I thought, perhaps for
his sake, and for the sake of the Fatherland, that she might--she
might----” Choking sobs finished the sentence.

“You mean you thought my sister might be of service to your uncle?” Mr.
Douaine asked sternly.

Fräulein nodded.

“He only asked me to give him the opportunity of speaking to her,” she
moaned. “I--I asked her to come that afternoon, but she did not come,
and my heart was full of thankfulness. I never dreamed of harm coming
to her until this morning, when I heard that terrible news.”

Mr. Douaine and his companion exchanged glances.

“Then,” said the stranger, quietly, “you mean us to understand that you
know nothing of what has happened since Miss Gretel went to New London?”

“Nothing, nothing whatever,” declared Fräulein, and there was a ring of
sincerity in her tone that they could not doubt. “I would give my life
to find her.”

“In that case,” said the man in the same quiet voice, “you will
certainly have no objection to answering any questions we may ask. In
the first place, will you please give us your uncle’s name and address?”

Fräulein started violently and covered her face with her hands.

“I cannot do that,” she protested, trembling. “My uncle is a German
patriot. It might not be safe for him if his address were known.
Besides, he has nothing to do with the child’s disappearance--I am sure
he has not.”

“If he has not, he will have nothing to fear from his address being
known to us,” the stranger said, reassuringly. “You say you love this
poor girl. Is it possible that you will refuse to do all in your power
to help us to find her?”

“I have said that I would give my life to find her,” affirmed Fräulein,
indignantly, and she lifted her tear-swollen face from her hands.

“We are not asking for your life; we are only asking for your uncle’s
name and address. He may have no more to do with the affair than you
have, but in this terrible business we must leave no stone unturned.
Come, Fräulein, you are a good woman, I am sure, and want to help us
all you can. If your uncle is innocent, there can be no objection to
our interviewing him.”

For a moment longer the woman continued to struggle against her better
nature. Then she said slowly:

“He is not my own uncle; he is only the husband of my aunt. Yes, I will
tell you his name. It is Rudolph Becker, and he lives----” she murmured
an address.

“Rudolph Becker,” repeated the stranger, and although his voice was
still quiet, there was a note of suppressed excitement in it, which
caused Mrs. Douaine’s heart to leap with sudden hope. “Thank you,
Fräulein, that is all I shall require of you.” And without another
word, he turned and left the room, followed by Gretel’s brother.

“What have I done?--Oh, what have I done?” wailed Fräulein, wringing
her hands, and rocking herself back and forward in her distress. “My
uncle had nothing to do with Gretel’s disappearance, I would swear he
had not, but there are other things--he is a patriot.”

“You have done nothing wrong, my dear,” said Mrs. Douaine, gently, “and
you may have done good. If anything you have said proves a help in
finding our dear little girl, we shall love you, and be grateful to you
all our lives.”



How long she had lived in that dark, stifling little room and slept
on that hard mattress on the floor, Gretel had no idea. Was it days,
months or years? Sometimes she felt as if it must be years, but she had
ceased to count time. She had almost ceased wondering whether she was
ever going to be set free. At first she had lived in constant terror,
but as time dragged on, and nothing happened, and as the close air
and confinement began to tell more and more upon her, she had sunk
into a kind of dull stupor, which made her indifferent to most things.
Sometimes she would wake up with a sudden feeling of terror, and then
for a little while she would be very miserable, thinking of Percy and
Barbara, and how they must be suffering on her account, but as she grew
physically weaker, even the thought of home and friends grew less
painful, and she lay most of the time with closed eyes, thinking of
nothing in particular, and only longing for a breath of fresh air, or a
drink of cold water.

Several times each day Mrs. Becker appeared with food, from which she
generally turned with loathing, but she was always glad of a drink of
milk, and would occasionally take a few spoonfuls of soup. Mrs. Becker
always looked worried, and as if she had been crying, but she never
talked much, and was always careful to lock the door again when she
went away. Sometimes Mr. Becker came and looked at her, but he never
spoke. Once she had ventured to glance at his face, but its expression
had frightened her so much that for hours afterwards she had shivered
and moaned, in a renewal of all the old terrors of the beginning of her

Would they keep her there until she died? That was the one thought
which occasionally pierced through her half-benumbed faculties. She was
so weak and her head ached so, she did not think she would mind dying
very much. Perhaps God would let her go to her father, and they would
be happy again, as they used to be in the old studio days. How happy
those days were, when Mrs. Lippheim and Fritz came to tea, and she was
allowed to make the toast. But that was so long ago, and now Fritz
was--was--her confused thoughts would wander off into a feverish dream,
in which she and Stephen Cranston seemed to be dancing together, only
mingled with the gay dance music she could always hear Ada Godfrey’s
voice talking about loyalty to one’s country.

She had been dreaming a queer, confused dream, all about Ada and
Stephen and Fritz Lippheim, when she was roused by the sound of Mrs.
Becker’s voice, and opened her eyes to find the woman standing beside
her with a cup of soup in her hand.

“You must take this,” Mrs. Becker said, in a tone of unusual decision.
“My husband says you are to take it. He will be angry if you refuse.”

Gretel turned her face to the wall.

“I am not hungry,” she said, impatiently. “Please go away. I want to go
to sleep again.”

“But you must not sleep all the time,” Mrs. Becker protested. “You must
get up after you have taken the soup. Rudolph wants to talk to you.”

Gretel lifted her head with more animation than she had shown in days.

“Is he going to let me go home?” she demanded eagerly.

Mrs. Becker shook her head.

“You know he cannot do that,” she said, crossly. “Your friends would
ask questions, and you would tell them things that must not be told. It
is very hard for Rudolph; he had no wish to keep you here. You should
have obeyed him and he would have let you go at once. Rudolph is not a
wicked man. He is so worried that he cannot sleep at night. You have
brought awful trouble upon us.”

“It wasn’t my fault,” said Gretel, wearily, pressing her hot hand to
her aching forehead. “I couldn’t swear not to tell. It would have been
disloyal to my country. I am an American.”

“You are a fool, that is what you are!” burst out Mrs. Becker angrily.
“We are all in terrible trouble. If you are found here what will
be done to us? And yet how can we let you go? You are to blame for
everything, and you ought to be ashamed of yourself.”

Gretel said nothing. There did not seem to be any use in talking, and
she felt so very tired and confused. She only wanted to be left alone.
But Mrs. Becker’s next words aroused her completely.

“Besides, what good have you done by being so obstinate? You might as
well have obeyed Rudolph, since your friends think you have run away on

“My friends think I have run away on purpose?” repeated Gretel,
incredulously. “But they don’t; they couldn’t think such a thing.”

“Very well, come and look at the paper Rudolph has to show you. But
first you must drink this good soup. I have taken great trouble in
making it for you.”

Gretel took the cup and hastily swallowed a portion of the contents.
She was trembling with weakness and excitement, but she suddenly felt
wide awake.

“I can’t swallow any more,” she said, setting the half-emptied cup on
the floor. “May I go to your husband now?”

“Yes, he is waiting for you in the sitting-room.”

Gretel rose feebly. She was so weak that she almost fell against the
wall, and was forced to clutch Mrs. Becker’s arm for support. The woman
looked a little frightened.

“That comes because you will not eat,” she said, reproachfully. “I have
told you that it is necessary to eat.” But she put her arm round the
trembling girl not unkindly and led her along the narrow hall to the
room where she had taken coffee with the Beckers on that afternoon,
which seemed such ages ago.

It was the first time that Gretel had been allowed to leave her prison,
and the sudden change from the dark little trunk-room to the sunlit
parlor made her so giddy that she instinctively closed her eyes and
leaned more heavily on Mrs. Becker’s arm.

“She is going to faint,” she heard a voice say, which sounded as if it
came from somewhere a long way off, and then she found herself lying on
the sofa with Mrs. Becker bathing her forehead, and Mr. Becker looking
down at her, with stern, angry eyes.

“Do you feel better?” Mrs. Becker inquired anxiously.

“I--I think so,” faltered Gretel, sitting up, and pushing the wet hair
out of her eyes. She was dimly conscious of being very untidy and
dishevelled. She had never undressed since that day, ages ago, when she
left New London; neither had her hair been combed or brushed.

“She needs more air,” Mrs. Becker said to her husband in German. “The
air in there is stifling.”

“I know it,” returned her husband, “but it cannot be helped.” Then,
turning to Gretel, he added:

“Did my wife tell you why I wished to see you?”

Gretel shook her head.

“It was because I thought you might enjoy reading the morning paper,”
said the man, with a disagreeable laugh. “There is something in it that
I am sure will interest you.”

Gretel was silent. The better air was beginning to revive her a little,
but she still felt very dizzy and confused. Mr. Becker picked up a
newspaper from the table, and held it out to her.

“You can find it easily,” he said. “What I want you to read is on the
front page.”

Gretel took the paper and sat gazing blankly at it. She could make
nothing of the letters that danced before her eyes.

“Shall I read it to you?” Mr. Becker asked, and without waiting for a
reply, he began reading in the same sneering, disagreeable voice.

“It is now generally believed that Gretel Schiller, the
fifteen-year-old girl, whose mysterious disappearance on July fifth
has caused such widespread interest and excitement, left her home
voluntarily to join some German friend or friends. She is known to have
been seen in earnest conversation with a man, supposed to have been a
German, in New London, about ten days previous to her disappearance.
The girl was at that time visiting in New London, and her friends, Mr.
and Mrs. Paul Chester, well known in this city, admit that she never
mentioned this clandestine meeting, although Mrs. Chester was in the
town at the same time, and they had only separated for a few minutes.
This evidence is likely to throw an entirely new light upon the affair,
and it is said that Miss Schiller’s own family are now inclined to
believe that her disappearance was a voluntary act.”

Mr. Becker paused. Gretel was staring at the paper with wild, horrified

“It isn’t true,” she gasped. “I don’t believe it. Percy and Barbara
would never think such a thing.”

“Read for yourself,” said Mr. Becker, pushing the paper towards her.
But Gretel did not read. She only covered her face with her hands and
burst into an agony of tears. They were the first she had shed in days.

“It can’t be true, oh, it can’t be true!” moaned the poor child. “They
know I wouldn’t; everybody knows it.”

“You are a German,” said Mr. Becker, coldly. “People will believe
anything against a German in these days. Is it true that you talked to
a man in the street, and did not mention the fact to your friends?”

“It was only for a moment with Fritz Lippheim,” sobbed Gretel. “He was
one of Father’s oldest friends and he was so good to me when I was a
little girl.”

“Fritz Lippheim,” repeated Mr. Becker, in a startled tone. “You mean
Lippheim the violinist?”

“Yes,” said Gretel. “He and his mother were great friends of ours, but
I hadn’t seen him in years till that day in New London. He asked me
not to mention having met him, and I didn’t like to refuse. It made me
uncomfortable afterwards, but I never dreamed----”

Mr. Becker started to his feet, and began rapidly pacing the floor. It
was evident that something had put him out very much.

“I saw that fellow Lippheim in New London myself,” he muttered. “He was
at that dance where I--I never thought of it at the time, but I believe
he was up to some mischief. Gertrude, take that girl back where she
belongs, and lock her in. Her snivelling makes me nervous.”

“But Rudolph,” ventured Mrs. Becker, timidly, “the air in there is so
bad. Let the child stay here for a little while. There can be no harm.”

“Do as I tell you,” shouted her husband. “All my nerves are on edge. I
cannot stand anything more.”

Mrs. Becker laid a trembling hand on Gretel’s arm.

“Come,” she whispered. “Don’t you see you are making him angry?”

With an effort, Gretel dragged herself to her feet, and allowed Mrs.
Becker to lead her back to her prison. Twice she stumbled and almost
fell, but the woman’s strong arm supported her until she reached the
little dark room, where she dropped on her hard mattress on the floor.
In another moment the door was again shut and locked, and she heard
Mrs. Becker’s retreating footsteps. She wondered vaguely why the woman
was crying. It was not possible Mrs. Becker really cared, and was sorry
for her. Nobody cared any more--not even her own family.

With a sharp cry, Gretel started up. They must not think dreadful
things about her. They must learn the truth. It was only a wicked
newspaper story, of course, but how had people learned of her meeting
with Fritz? Some one she knew must have seen them talking together,
but she could not remember meeting any one that afternoon until she
rejoined Mrs. Chester, and then there was Jimmy Fairfax. Could Jimmy
have seen her talking with Fritz? Fritz certainly did look like a
German, but if Jimmy had seen them together, why had he not questioned
her about it? Oh, she could not die there in that dreadful place, and
let people go on thinking she had run away. They would always believe
it; not Percy and Barbara, perhaps, or even the Barlows, her oldest
friends, but other people--Miss Minton, and the girls at school,
and Mrs. Cranston and Stephen. It was Stephen who had vouched for
her loyalty the day they went to visit the submarine base. She must
get away somehow, and let them know she had not done that dreadful
thing. She sprang to her feet, and beat against the door, with a wild,
desperate hope of making some one hear. But the only sound she heard
was Mr. Becker’s heavy tread coming down the hall. Outside her door the
footsteps paused.

“Stop that noise this instant,” the stern voice commanded.

“Let me out,” shrieked Gretel, almost beside herself with terror and
despair. “Let me out. I must--I must----” Suddenly her strength failed
her, and with a choking cry, she sank back in a little heap on the
dusty floor.

Mrs. Becker was sitting in the rocking-chair, crying softly, when her
husband returned to the sitting-room. He did not speak at once, but
stood looking down at her, his face very dark and stern. Mrs. Becker
herself was the first to break silence.

“What are we to do, Rudolph?” she questioned timidly. “The child eats
nothing; she cannot go on like this. She will die, and then what will
happen to us?”

“Confound the girl!” burst forth the man furiously--both he and his
wife spoke in German--“Confound the whole business! I could kill
that niece of yours, with her idiotic talk about the girl’s love for
Germany. Now listen to me, and don’t let me hear any snivelling,
either. Pay attention to every word I say, and mind you do exactly as I
tell you.”

“Yes, Rudolph,” murmured Mrs. Becker, obediently.

“I am going away, going away on important business. I want to get off
as soon as possible, so go and pack my valise.”

“But, Rudolph, you will not leave me here alone with her? Oh, surely
you will not do that! Let me go with you; I will carry the valise. I
will not be any trouble.”

“Nonsense! you don’t know what you are talking about. I am sorry to
leave you, but it cannot be helped. This is war time, and I am working
for my country. You are to do as I say, and if you disobey my orders
you will live to regret it. You are not to let the girl out after I am
gone, do you understand? You are to let her suppose I am still here.
When I have been away two days, you may do as you please. I don’t care
what happens then. I shall have accomplished what I have to do, and I
can take care of myself after that. The girl may say what she chooses.”

“But what will become of me, Rudolph?” cried Mrs. Becker, piteously.
“They will hold me responsible--they----”

“Now, see here, Gertrude,” interrupted her husband in a somewhat
milder tone, “I am sorry, very sorry, but, as I said before, it cannot
be helped. I am working for a great cause. I cannot have all my work
ruined by a silly child.

“After all, it was your own niece who caused all the trouble. It is
only just that you should suffer something for being the aunt of such
an idiot. I would not leave you if it were not absolutely necessary for
me to get away just now. Something that girl said has made me uneasy.
That man Lippheim that she mentioned; we have been suspicious of him
for some time. I saw him myself in New London, swaggering about at that
dance I told you of. I had no idea he knew the Schiller girl. If he
should track her here--ha! what’s that?”

“It’s the bell, Rudolph,” said Mrs. Becker, wiping her eyes.

Mr. Becker--who had given a violent start, and turned rather
pale--pulled himself together with an effort.

“Go to the door,” he said. “If it’s any one to see me, say I’m out.
Don’t let any one in, on any account.”

Mr. Becker’s tone was firm, but the color did not return to his face,
and while his wife went to obey his commands, he glanced about the room
nervously, as if for some means of escape, should occasion require it.
There was a moment of silence, while the door was being opened, then a
suppressed scream from Mrs. Becker, followed by approaching footsteps,
and two men walked quietly into the room.

“You are Rudolph Becker, I believe,” remarked the foremost of the two
strangers, and he glanced keenly about the room as he spoke.

“That is my name, certainly. To what do I owe the honor of this visit,
Mr.--Mr. Lippheim, is it not?”

The visitor nodded.

“Quite correct,” he said. “Fritz Lippheim is my name. I suppose you
are aware of the fact that, for several months, you have been under
suspicion of being in the pay of the German Government?”

Mr. Becker changed color, but his voice, though less steady than usual,
was still calm.

“I believe you are a German yourself,” he said, quietly.

“I was born in Germany,” the other answered, without the slightest
hesitation, “but my family moved to this country when I was six years
old. I am an American citizen, and for the past few months I have been
a member of the United States Secret Service. I and my colleagues have
been watching you since this country entered the war. We lost track of
you for a few days after you left New London, but I was fortunate in
learning your address this morning. Now, Becker, there is no use in
making a row. Your game is up. There are two policemen waiting for you
on the stairs, and as this is the third floor, you have no chance of
escaping by the window.”

Whatever Rudolph Becker was, he was no coward. He drew himself up and
folded his arms.

“What I have done was for my country,” he said. “I am not ashamed. If I
am a spy, so are you, only with a difference. I have been working for
Germany, and you--a German born--are in the service of her enemies.”

Fritz Lippheim shrugged his shoulders, and turned to his companion.

“Will you tell those men they may come in, Mr. Douaine?” he said.

Mr. Douaine left the room for a moment, and when he returned he was
accompanied by two stout policemen. Mrs. Becker was nowhere to be seen.
At the first sign of danger, she had fled to her room, and locked
herself in.

“Arrest this man,” commanded the secret service agent. The policemen
obeyed. Mr. Becker offered no resistance, but stood quietly while the
handcuffs were fastened on. He was evidently resigned to the inevitable.

“The next thing is to make a thorough search of the apartment,” said
Fritz Lippheim.

For the first time the prisoner showed signs of embarrassment.

“I beg that you will not consider that necessary,” he said. “I have
surrendered without a struggle. I am prepared to give up all the papers
in my possession.”

“Search the apartment,” ordered Fritz, and began opening table-drawers,
while Mr. Douaine and one of the policemen left the room together.

There was a moment of tense silence while Fritz emptied several
drawers, and ran his eye hastily over the contents. Then the policeman

“The door of one of the bedrooms is locked, sir,” he announced. “There
is a woman in there; we can hear her crying.”

“Order her to come out,” said Fritz, imperturbably. “If she refuses,
break in the door.”

“It is my wife,” protested Becker, “my poor, delicate wife. Surely,
gentlemen, you will respect her feelings. I will go away quietly with
you, but do not disturb my wife.”

But the police officer had already left the room, and in another moment
he could be heard knocking at Mrs. Becker’s door.

“I say, ma’am, unlock that door, will you? We’ve got to get in there.
We don’t want to use violence, but it may be necessary if you don’t
obey the orders of the police.”

There was the sound of a door being flung violently open, and Mrs.
Becker, pale and wild-eyed, rushed into the sitting-room and flung
herself on her knees at Fritz Lippheim’s feet.

“Oh, spare me, spare me!” she implored. “It isn’t my fault. I haven’t
done anything, indeed I haven’t. I begged my husband to let the child
go, I implored him to do it, but he said it was for the cause, and----”

“Hold your tongue, Gertrude,” shouted Mr. Becker. “No one is going to
hurt you. They can all see you are too big a fool to do any harm.”

Mrs. Becker relapsed into low, frightened sobbing. Fritz Lippheim,
whose face had suddenly brightened, turned eagerly to the policemen.

“Search every corner of this apartment,” he said. “Break open any door
you find locked.”

       *       *       *       *       *

With a long sigh Gretel opened her eyes. Some one was bending over her,
holding strong smelling-salts to her nose, and some one else was trying
to force something between her lips. She felt utterly bewildered, and
for the first moment had no idea where she was, or what had happened.
But as she gazed up into the two anxious faces, remembrance came back
with a rush.

“Percy,” she whispered, “is it really you? And--why, it’s Fritz
Lippheim, too. Oh, Percy dear, have you come to take me home?”

“Yes, dear,” her brother answered gently. “Don’t try to talk. Just
swallow this; it will make you feel better. You are quite safe, and Mr.
Lippheim and I have come to take you home to Barbara.”

Gretel swallowed the contents of the spoon Percy was holding to her
lips, and though it made her cough and choke, it seemed to revive her,
and when she spoke next, her voice was stronger.

“I’m loyal. I’m an American. I didn’t run away on purpose. Oh, Percy,
you don’t believe it, even if the paper did say that dreadful thing?”

“Of course, I don’t believe it, dear. You have been a brave loyal
little American. We know everything, and I am prouder of you than if
you had won the _croix de guerre_. But you mustn’t talk any more just
now. You are not very strong, you know. Lie still till you feel a
little better, and then we will go home.”

Gretel gave a great gasp of joy and relief, and then her eyes closed,
and she slipped away again into unconsciousness.



It was very pleasant in the Douaines’ garden that lovely September
afternoon, and so Gretel thought, as she lay back in her steamer-chair,
under the big apple-tree, and gazed out across the wide stretch of
lawn to the broad Potomac, sparkling in the afternoon sunshine. She
had been reading, but her book had fallen unheeded into her lap,
and her thoughts were busy with many things. She was a very pale,
fragile-looking Gretel, a mere shadow of the rosy-cheeked girl who had
waved good-bye to her friends at the New London station, a little more
than two months earlier. The long nervous illness, which had followed
that terrible week of imprisonment, had told cruelly upon her strength.
All that love and care could do had been done, but for days the poor
child had lain in an only half-conscious condition, varied by fits of
hysteria, very painful to witness.

As soon as she was able to be moved, the Douaines had taken her to
a quiet little place on the Jersey shore, and there she and Barbara
had remained for weeks, while Mr. Douaine made flying trips between
Washington and the cottage by the sea. As Gretel’s strength returned
her nerves grew calmer, and those weeks by the sea had been very
restful and pleasant. It was only a week since they had returned to
Washington, and Gretel, although improving a little each day, was still
far from strong, and found lying in a steamer-chair under the trees
more agreeable than any more active occupation. The very thought of
tennis or long walks made her head ache, but she was very happy, and as
she lay there, gazing out over the wide river, she smiled contentedly
to herself. For had not Barbara gone to the station to meet Jerry and
Geraldine, who were coming for their long promised visit to Washington?

It was all so quiet and peaceful; it seemed impossible to realize that
only a few miles away the fate of nations was being discussed, and
that in France guns were booming, and men dying by thousands every
day. The American boys were fighting for their country, and to save
civilization, and at that moment Gretel’s heart swelled with pride.
She knew now, more than ever before in her life, what it meant to love
one’s country.

Her reflections were interrupted by the sight of her brother, in his
white flannels, strolling across the lawn in her direction. She knew
that Percy was taking a much-needed holiday from the war office, and
had been playing golf all the afternoon.

“Feeling pretty fit to-day, little girl?” Mr. Douaine asked, kindly, as
he threw himself into the empty chair by Gretel’s side.

“Oh, yes,” his sister assured him, cheerfully. “I am ever so much
stronger. I am sure I shall be able to go back to school the first of

Mr. Douaine smiled and shook his head.

“No school till after Christmas,” he said, decidedly. “Don’t you think
you can manage to be happy with us till then?”

“I am always happy with you and Barbara,” Gretel answered, “but I shall
hate to get behind with my lessons. Don’t you really think I shall be
well enough to go back next month?”

“I am afraid not, dear. The doctors say you must have a good long rest
before you begin to study again. You have had a terrible strain, you
know, and people don’t get over such things in a week. You may begin
practising before long, but that is really all we can allow.”

Gretel sighed resignedly. After all, there was something rather
pleasant in the thought of just drifting along like this, day after
day, and being taken care of by the people she loved best in the world.

“I am afraid I shall be dreadfully spoiled if I stay here much longer,”
she said. “Every one is so kind to me. Did you see those lovely roses
that nice Mrs. Allen sent? And that dear old lady in the house across
the way has sent some delicious hothouse grapes. Then I keep getting
such wonderful letters from all my friends. I wonder what makes people
so kind.”

“There are a good many kind people in the world,” her brother said,
smiling, “and then you must remember that you are quite the heroine
of the hour. You and Fritz Lippheim are sharing the honors of having
unearthed that gang of spies.”

Gretel laughed.

“I really don’t see what I had to do with it,” she said. “It was all
Fritz. You can’t think, Percy, how happy it makes me to know there at
least is one German who is working for the United States. I feel quite
sure that if Father were alive he would be on our side, too, and so
does Fritz. He told me so the other day.”

“Fritz is a splendid fellow,” Mr. Douaine said heartily; “I only wish
we had more like him. I met him this afternoon, by the way, and he has
promised to come to dinner to-morrow, and bring his violin.”

Gretel’s face was radiant.

“I love to hear Fritz play,” she said. “It always makes me think of
Father, and the old days in the studio. If I shut my eyes I can almost
see it all as it used to be.”

“You are a loyal little soul, Gretel,” her brother said, giving her
hand an affectionate pat. “You never forget the old friends or the old
times. But hark! isn’t that the motor? I shouldn’t be surprised if the
twins had arrived.”

The twins had arrived, and in a very few minutes Gretel and Geraldine
were hugging each other rapturously, while Jerry stood by, grinning
with satisfaction, but boylike, quite unable to express his feelings as
his more excitable twin was expressing hers.

Of course the two girls had a great deal to say to each other, for,
except for a passing glimpse on the day Gretel was brought home, they
had not met since their parting at the New London station.

EACH OTHER.--_Page 314._]

“It’s the grandest thing in the world to be together again,” declared
Geraldine. “I was never quite so happy in my life as when Mrs.
Douaine’s letter came, saying you were well enough to have us. And
isn’t Washington wonderful? We saw such interesting things coming from
the station. I’m so glad you are in the country, though; it’s so much
nicer than being in that hot, crowded city. It’s lovely here, and that
view of the river is just perfect. Mrs. Douaine says we can go to Mount
Vernon some day, and see the house where George Washington lived. You
are looking ever so much better than I expected, Gretel.”

“I am almost well,” said Gretel. “You are looking wonderfully well,
too, and so is Jerry. Camp life must have agreed with you both.”

“It was great!” Jerry affirmed. “I say, Gretel, did Geraldine write you
about that six-pound trout she caught? I wish you could have seen her
hauling it in. She’s a real sport, and no mistake.”

Mr. and Mrs. Douaine went indoors, leaving the young people to

“We will have tea out here in half an hour,” Mrs. Douaine said, “and in
the meantime I know you have a great deal to say to each other.”

“Your sister-in-law always does just the right thing,” remarked
Geraldine, admiringly, as their host and hostess walked away to the
house. “She’s lovely, and so is your brother, but it’s ever so much
pleasanter not to have grown-ups about, listening to everything we say.
Oh, I am so glad to see you looking more like yourself, Gretel dear.
I never shall forget how you looked that day you came home, and Mr.
Douaine carried you up-stairs. I thought you were dead at first, but
Mr. Lippheim said you had only fainted, and then you opened your eyes,
and smiled at us, and it was such a relief. Do you remember it all?”

“Not very well,” said Gretel. “I only remember seeing Barbara’s face,
and being so thankful to be at home, but it’s all rather vague and
confused. It was days before I really began to understand all that had

“I wish I could see that Lippheim chap,” said Jerry. “I’ve always
wanted to talk to a Secret Service man.”

“You will have your wish soon, then,” said Gretel, “for Fritz is
coming to dinner to-morrow. He often brings his violin, and he and
Barbara play duets together. He’s doing splendid work, Percy says, but
of course it’s all secret, and he never mentions it.”

“Of course not,” said Jerry. “Oh, I say, I think it’s a shame I’m only
fourteen. I’d give my head to be in the thick of it all.”

Gretel and Geraldine looked rather grave, and Gretel said gently:

“It isn’t all just excitement and adventure, Jerry. Peter Grubb has
been wounded. He has lost his left arm. His family only heard it this
week, and poor Dora is so upset.”

A shadow crossed Jerry’s bright face.

“Poor chap,” he said, regretfully; “it’s pretty tough to lose an arm,
but to lose a leg would be worse. Anyhow, he’s fought for his country,
and that’s something.”

“Yes, it is something,” Gretel agreed, “and Peter is such a clever boy
I am sure he will get on. But it is all very sad. I wish this dreadful
war would end.”

“Not till Germany is thoroughly licked,” protested Jerry. “We can’t
stop fighting till then, even if it takes ten years.”

“Jerry,” said Gretel, abruptly, “there’s something I want to know, but
nobody will talk to me about it. What has become of the Beckers?”

The twins exchanged glances, and Geraldine shook her head warningly at
her brother.

“I don’t believe you’d better ask, Gretel dear,” she said. “If your
family wanted you to know I guess they would tell you.”

But Gretel was not to be put off. She was only fifteen, and had a fair
amount of curiosity.

“I think I have a right to know,” she said a little impatiently.
“After spending a whole week in that dreadful place, I don’t see why I
shouldn’t be told what happened afterwards.”

“We don’t know ourselves exactly what did happen,” Jerry admitted. “You
see, that man Becker was a German spy. He was arrested, and--well, they
never tell what happens to spies in war time; they just disappear.”

Gretel shuddered, and hid her face for a moment on Geraldine’s shoulder.

“You don’t mean they--oh, it’s too horrible! He was a dreadful man, of
course, but I don’t like to think--oh, I don’t like to think----” and
Gretel, who was still far from strong, burst into tears.

Geraldine’s arms were round her in a moment.

“You ought not to have said it, Jerry,” she said, reproachfully; “Mr.
and Mrs. Douaine will be very angry. There, there, Gretel darling,
don’t cry. We really don’t know anything; perhaps they only put him in
prison. Anyhow, Mrs. Becker and Fräulein are all right. You know it
was Fräulein who gave Mr. Lippheim the Beckers’ address. Everybody was
grateful to her, and Mr. Douaine gave her the money to take her aunt
out to Milwaukee, where they have some relatives, who are quite well
off, and will take care of them. I saw poor old Fräulein the day before
they went, and she did look dreadfully. She was so worried about you,
and so ashamed of what had happened. I don’t believe she will ever
brag about the Fatherland again.”

“Poor Fräulein,” sighed Gretel, drying her eyes. “It was all very
terrible for her, and she was always kind to me at school. I hope Percy
has her address, for I should like to write to her, and tell her I
understand. She never meant to do wrong.”

“I had a letter from Molly Chester yesterday,” said Geraldine, anxious
to change the subject. “She knew Jerry and I were coming to Washington,
and sent lots of love to you. She says Stephen Cranston is somewhere
on a submarine chaser, but of course they don’t know where, because no
one is allowed to tell. Jimmy Fairfax has left, too, and they think he
is on his way overseas. Molly says Mrs. Godfrey and Ada are coming to
Washington for a few days, so we may see them. It seems that Davenport
boy is still with them, but he has behaved much better lately, and he
and Paul get on quite well together.”

“I had a lovely letter from Mrs. Cranston,” said Gretel. “It was
just as bright and cheerful as could be, but I know how hard it must
have been for her to let Stephen go. I’ve had wonderful letters from
everybody, but Barbara won’t let me answer many of them yet. She says
I am not strong enough. I’ve kept some of the letters to show you,
Geraldine. Miss Minton’s was the biggest surprise of all; it made me
cry, it was so kind. I had no idea she liked me so much. Miss Laura
wrote, too, and all the teachers.”

“Of course they did,” said Jerry. “You are a heroine, you know. People
always write to heroines.”

“I’m not a heroine at all,” protested Gretel, blushing. “I didn’t
do anything more than any one else would have done under the
circumstances. There really wasn’t anything else to do. I had to be
loyal to my country; we all do.”

“The thing that beats me,” remarked Jerry, reflectively, “is the way
you used to call yourself a coward.”

“Well, and so I am,” said Gretel innocently. “I am a terrible coward,
and the worst of it is, I am afraid I always shall be.”

Jerry burst into a peal of derisive laughter, and Geraldine gave her
friend an ecstatic hug.

“You are a goose, Gretel,” remarked Jerry, when he had recovered
himself sufficiently to speak. “You are the first person I ever heard
of who didn’t even know when she had been brave.”

“But I wasn’t brave,” protested Gretel; “I was terribly frightened
all the time. Oh, Jerry, it’s beautiful to have people say such kind
things, but I’m afraid they aren’t true, for I really don’t deserve
them. It wasn’t brave to refuse to swear not to tell what that man had
said. It was just my plain duty. I am an American, you know.”

       *       *       *       *       *

It was half an hour later. Mr. and Mrs. Douaine had rejoined the young
people on the lawn, and they were all having a merry tea together.
Gretel looked very happy as she lay back in her steamer-chair, and
watched her companions with shining eyes.

“Are you tired, pussy?” her brother asked, anxiously, as he brought
her her tea. “You must tell us the moment you begin to feel tired, you

“Not one bit,” Gretel declared heartily. “Oh, Percy, it’s so wonderful
to be with you all again, and know that I am safe, and that nothing
dreadful is going to happen!”

“You are quite safe,” her brother assured her, smiling, “and you are
not a bit happier to know it than we are. So drink your tea while it’s
hot, and try not to think about anything except that the Barlows are
here, and we are all going to have some good times together. Hello!
here comes Dora with the card-tray. Visitors, I suppose. What a bother.”

“I think these must be some people to see you, Gretel,” said Mrs.
Douaine, glancing at the cards Dora handed her. “Miss Ada Godfrey and
Master Archie Davenport. Isn’t Ada Godfrey one of the Minton girls?”

“Yes,” said Gretel, “and Geraldine said she was coming to Washington,
but I didn’t expect to see her so soon. May they come out here,

“Certainly, dear. Show them out, Dora, and bring some fresh tea.”

“I didn’t know the Davenport boy would come with Ada,” remarked
Geraldine, looking a little troubled, as Dora tripped away. “He and
Jerry weren’t very good friends. Now, Jerry, you will behave, won’t

Geraldine’s tone was pleading, and she looked so grave that Mrs.
Douaine inquired in some surprise:

“Why shouldn’t Jerry behave?”

“I punched that fellow’s head once,” explained Jerry, calmly, “but you
needn’t worry, Geraldine, I sha’n’t do it again. I guess he’s learned
his lesson all right.”

The conversation was cut short by the sight of two approaching figures,
and Mrs. Douaine rose, and went forward to greet the visitors.

“You have come to see Gretel, I know,” she said, holding out her hand
in her kind, cordial way. “She will be delighted to see you, but she
isn’t very strong yet, so please be just a little careful not to excite
her by talking of what has happened. We are trying to keep her from
thinking too much about her terrible experience.”

“We’ll be careful,” promised Ada, “and we can only stay a few minutes.
Mother and my aunt are waiting for us in the car. We only reached
Washington this morning, but we couldn’t wait any longer without seeing

“Well, here she is,” said Gretel’s sister-in-law, smiling, and leading
the way to the big apple-tree. “She isn’t quite as fat as we would
like, but she is improving every day. The Barlow twins are here, too;
they have come to make us a visit.”

The three girls greeted each other heartily, and Ada kissed Gretel with
more affection than she had ever shown before. Jerry nodded to Archie
in a friendly manner, as though to imply that bygones were bygones,
but Archie Davenport did not return the greeting. He was very red, and
looked so uncomfortable and embarrassed, that Jerry suddenly found
himself feeling rather sorry for him.

“We are going to be in Washington a week,” Ada was explaining, as she
held Gretel’s hand, and looked anxiously into her pale face. “Mother
and Auntie came to see some old friends, and brought Archie and me
along. They thought it would be a nice little trip for us before we go
back to school. Miss Minton’s opens on the first, you know, and Archie
is going to Pomfrey. Mother thought we ought to have telephoned before
coming to see you, but Archie and I simply couldn’t wait. You said you
must see Gretel this afternoon, didn’t you, Archie?”

Archie had grown redder than ever, but with a mighty effort, he pulled
himself together and stepped forward.

“I--I want to apologize,” he stammered, holding out his hand to
Gretel. “I thought you were a Hun--I mean a German--and I said things
I oughtn’t to about you, but I made a mistake. You’re an American all
right, and--and a bully one, too, and--and if you’ll shake hands, and
say you forgive me for being such a beast, I’ll be terribly glad.”

“Well, of all the funny things that ever happened!” ejaculated Jerry,
flinging himself at full length on the grass, when the visitors had
left. “Who would ever have believed that little cad would have turned
out so decent after all! I’m rather sorry I gave him quite such a
dressing down, but perhaps it helped to bring him to his senses.”

“It wasn’t that that did it,” said Geraldine; “it was finding out what
a mistake he had made about Gretel. But Mrs. Douaine says we are not
to talk about disagreeable things to-day, so Gretel and I are going up
to her room, and you needn’t expect to see us again till dinner-time,
because we’ve got a great deal to say to each other that wouldn’t
interest a boy at all.” And Geraldine twined her arm round her friend’s
waist, and led her resolutely away to the house.




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      *      *      *      *      *      *

Transcriber’s note:

Punctuation has been standardised; spelling, and accented characters,
have been retained as they appear in the original publication.

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