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Title: Dorothy Dale and Her Chums
Author: Penrose, Margaret
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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[Illustration: “Stretched out his arms to bar their way” _Page 142_]


DOROTHY DALE AND HER CHUMS

by

MARGARET PENROSE

Author of “Dorothy Dale: a Girl of To-Day,” “Dorothy
Dale at Glenwood School,” “Dorothy Dale’s
Great Secret,” etc.

Illustrated



New York
Cupples & Leon Company


      *      *      *      *      *      *

THE DOROTHY DALE SERIES

  BY MARGARET PENROSE

  Cloth. Illustrated. Price per volume, 60 cts., postpaid

    DOROTHY DALE: A GIRL OF TO-DAY
    DOROTHY DALE AT GLENWOOD SCHOOL
    DOROTHY DALE’S GREAT SECRET
    DOROTHY DALE AND HER CHUMS

    (Other volumes in preparation)

  CUPPLES & LEON COMPANY NEW YORK

      *      *      *      *      *      *


Copyright, 1909, by
Cupples & Leon Company

DOROTHY DALE AND HER CHUMS



CONTENTS


  CHAPTER                              PAGE

      I. STOLEN BIRDS                     1
     II. THE GYPSY GIRL                   8
    III. DOROTHY AT THE CAMP             21
     IV. THE MIDNIGHT ALARM              29
      V. AN AWFUL EXPERIENCE             43
     VI. “THE GOODS”                     59
    VII. A STRANGE GIRL                  72
   VIII. THE RUNAWAY                     77
     IX. MIETTE                          87
      X. A RUMPUS                        98
     XI. “GIRLS AND GIRLS”              104
    XII. A GIRL’S MEAN ACT              112
   XIII. THE TROUBLES OF MIETTE         120
    XIV. DOROTHY TO THE RESCUE          128
     XV. A QUEER TRAMP                  143
    XVI. SURPRISES                      152
   XVII. DOROTHY’S COURAGE              161
  XVIII. TAVIA’S DOUBLE                 171
    XIX. THE CAPTURE                    177
     XX. URANIA IN THE TOILS            187
    XXI. COMPLICATIONS                  197
   XXII. SINCERE AFFECTION’S POWER      206
  XXIII. THE REAL MIETTE                218
   XXIV. THE SEARCH                     231
    XXV. DOROTHY AND HER CHUMS          243



DOROTHY DALE AND HER CHUMS

CHAPTER I

STOLEN BIRDS


“Of all things, to have that happen just now! Isn’t it too mean!”
sighed Dorothy, perching herself on the high shelf at the side of the
pump, and gazing dejectedly beyond the wire fence into the pigeon loft,
where a few birds posed in real “Oh fair dove, Oh, fond dove!” fashion.

“Mean?” repeated Tavia, who was inside the wire fence, calling live
birds, and looking for dead ones, both of which efforts were proving
failures. “It is awful, Dorothy, such a doings as this. They are gone,
sure enough,” and she crawled through the low gate that was intended as
an emergency exit for chickens or pigeons. “I’d just like to know who
took them,” she finished.

“So would I,” and Dorothy shook her blonde head with a meaning clearer
than mere words might impart. “Yes, I would like to know, and I’ve just
a notion of finding out.”

Tavia reached for the clean little drinking pan that rested on the
shelf at Dorothy’s elbow. She held it under the pump spout while
Dorothy worked the pump handle up and down. Then, with the fresh water
in her hand, Tavia crawled inside the wire enclosure again. A few tame
bantams flew across the yard to the treat. Then the doves left their
perch and joined the party around the pan.

“How lonely they look without the others,” remarked Dorothy, as she,
too, crept through the wire gate. “And I did love the Archangels. I
never saw prettier doves. They always reminded me of real Paradise
birds. No wonder they were called by a heavenly name.”

“And to have taken both pairs!” denounced Tavia. “My favorites were the
fantails--they always made me think of--What do you think?”

“Think? I know.”

“What, then?”

“Why, accordion-pleated automobile coats,” teased Dorothy.

“Of course! With such dainty white lingerie! Wouldn’t Nat and Ned look
swell in such coats!”

“Well, if you insist, Tavia, I shall give you my real opinion--memoirs
of the fantails, as it were. They looked exactly like star chorus
girls. But I was loathe to bring up such thoughts in your presence.
Yet, those birds were the purest white--”

“Oh, how I shall miss them! I just enjoyed coming down here every
morning to see them,” and Tavia very gently picked up two of the doves,
placed one on each of her shoulders, and then proceeded to walk “around
the ring,” doing a trick she called “The Winged Venus.”

But there was very little of the Venus type about Tavia. It was rather
early in the morning, and her hair had as yet only received the “fire
alarm brush,” which meant that Tavia, upon hearing the breakfast
bell, had smuggled her brown hair into a most daring knot, promising
to do it up properly later. But it was at breakfast that Dorothy’s
two cousins, Ned and Nat, told of their loss--that the pigeons had
been stolen during the night. The boys made no attempt to hide either
their anger at the unknown thieves’ act, or their genuine grief at the
loss of their fine birds. Dorothy and Tavia were almost as wrought
up over the affair as were the boys, and, as a matter of fact, very
little breakfast was partaken of by any of the quartette that morning.
So Tavia did not get back to her room to give the “back tap” to the
“fire alarm” hair dressing, and as she now marched around the chicken
yard, with the doves on her shoulders, proclaiming herself to be the
Winged Venus, Dorothy suggested it might be well to do away with the
Psyche knot at the back of her head first, and not get her mythology so
hopelessly mixed.

Over in a grassy corner Dorothy was feeding from her hands the bantams.
She looked like a “living picture,” for a pretty girl feeding chicks
always looks like something else, a page from fairy tales, or a colored
plate from Mother Goose.

Tavia had always complained that Dorothy “didn’t have to do” her hair,
she only had to “undo it,” for the blonde waves had a way of nestling
in very close at night, only to be shaken out the next morning. So
Dorothy’s hair looked pretty, and her simple white gown was smooth, not
wrinkled like Tavia’s, for Dorothy’s dress couldn’t wrinkle, the stuff
was too soft to hold creases. Tavia wore a pink muslin slip--it was
intended to be worn as an underslip, with a thin lace or net covering,
but like other things Tavia had cut her dressing down that morning,
so she wore the slip without the cover. And to add to the “misery,”
the pink slip was a mass of wrinkles--it had been making itself
comfortable in a little lump on Tavia’s bedroom chair all the night,
and so was not quite ready (copying its mistress) to be on parade in
the morning sunlight.

“Here come the boys,” suddenly announced Dorothy, as two youths strode
down the path toward the little enclosure.

“Hello there!” called Ned. “What’s the entrance?”

“Reserved seats fifty cents,” answered Dorothy promptly.

“This way for the side show,” called out Tavia, who still had the birds
on her shoulders.

“I’ve seen worse,” declared Nat, the youth who always saw something to
compliment about Tavia. “Say, Coz”--this to Dorothy--“I think I know
who took the pigeons, and I want your help to bring them to--justice.”

“Oh, she’s just aching to go on the force,” declared Tavia, “shooing”
the doves away, as the news of the thievery was promised. “She thinks
those Archangels will ‘telepath’ to her. They were her pets, you know,
and what on earth (or in heaven) would be the use of being Archangelic
if--well, if in a case of the kind the ‘Archs’ couldn’t make good?”

“She’s only jealous,” declared Dorothy. “Her fantails are sure to fly
away to some other country, and so there is no hope for them. They were
such high-flyers.”

“Nat thinks he’s got the game dead to rights,” remarked Ned, with a sly
wink at Dorothy. “But wait until he tries to land it.”

“Exactly!” announced Nat. “Just wait until I do. There’ll be some
doin’s in Birchland, now, I tell you. And if I can’t get the birds
alive, I’ll get their feathers--for the girls’ hats.”

“Oh, I am going to join the Bird Protection Society this very day,” and
Dorothy shivered. “To think that any one can wear real bird feathers--”

“Now that you know real birds--your Archangels, you can see how it
feels,” commented Nat. “We fellows have the same regard for woodcock
or snipe. But just suppose some one should shoot those pretty pigeons,
and give the feathers to a girl for her hat. She’ll wear them, of
course. They were beautiful birds,” and he walked off toward the cage
where only the day previous he had so admired the birds that were now
strangely missing.

“But who took them?” demanded Tavia.

“Of course, if I knew--”

“Said you did,” pouted Tavia, before Nat had a chance to finish the
sentence.

“Now, did I?”

“Well, you said you thought--”

“And I still think. It’s a habit I have. And, by the way, little girl,”
(Nat always called Tavia “little g-ir-l” when he wanted to tease) “it’s
a great thing to think. Try it some time.”

“Well, if I ever get at it, I’ll begin on you,” and Tavia’s Psyche knot
almost fell over on her left ear in sheer indignation.

“Do. I shall be de-lighted. But to be exact,” and he drew from the
pocket of his sweater two feathers, one white and the other copper
color. “Do you recognize these?” and he held the little quills out to
the girls.

“That white one is from a fantail,” declared Tavia promptly.

“And the other--that is certainly from an Archangel,” exclaimed
Dorothy, taking the pretty bit of fluff in her hand, and examining it
closely.

“Well, I found those--”

“Hush!” whispered Ned. “There’s Urania!”



CHAPTER II

THE GYPSY GIRL


With a gait that betokened indolence, and her entire appearance bearing
out that suggestion, a girl with a bright-colored handkerchief on her
head, sauntered along the path in the direction of the little party,
who had been conferring in the “enclosure.” Her feet seemed weighed
down with shoes many sizes beyond her real need, and her dress was so
long that she looked as if she might have been playing grandmother up
in some attic, and had forgotten to leave the things behind after the
game.

“Well, Urania,” began Dorothy, smiling, “you are out early, aren’t you?”

“Haven’t been in yet,” drawled the girl. “So much fussin’ around the
camp last night I just left the wagon to little Tommie, and made a bed
out under the pines.”

“Fussing?” inquired Nat, showing keen interest in the girl’s remarks.

“Yes, comin’ and goin’ and--” She shot a quick glance at the boy who
was listening so intently to her words. Then she peered through the
wire cage over to the dove cote. “What’s the matter?” she asked. “Your
birds sick?”

“Worse,” spoke up Tavia. “They’re gone, stolen!”

“Flew the coop?” said the gypsy girl, with a grim smile. “Them pretty
ones, with the pleated tails?”

“Yes, and those beautiful dark ones,” sighed Dorothy. “Those with all
the colors--like sunset, you know.”

“Too bad,” murmured the strange girl. “Lots of chicken thieves around
here lately. Dad says people will be blaming us. But we’ve been in this
township every summer for ten years, and Dad is just as thick with the
‘cops’ as--the old woman is with the peddlars,” she finished, grinning
at her own wit.

“You didn’t happen to hear any strangers around the camp last night,
did you?” asked Ned, kindly.

“Heard more than that,” answered the girl. “But, say, I came over here
to borrow something. Business is bad, and the old woman wants to know
if you could just lend her a quarter. I didn’t want to ask, as I don’t
forget good turns, and you’ve treated me all right,” with a nod to
Dorothy. “But when the old woman says ‘go’ I’ve got to turn out. She’s
gettin’ awful sassy lately.”

The girl dug the broken toe of her shoe deep into the soft sod.
Evidently she did not relish asking the favor, and as Nat handed her
the coin she looked up with a sad smile.

“Much obliged,” she stammered, “I’ll bring it back the first chance I
get, if I--have to--steal it.”

“Oh, no! I’m making you a present of that,” the youth answered,
pleasantly. “You mustn’t think of bringing it back. But about the
noises at the camp last night? Did you say there were strangers about?”

“Might have been,” answered the girl slowly. “But you know gypsies
never squeal.”

“I don’t expect you to,” followed Nat. “But you see my best birds are
gone, and you, being a friend of ours, might help in the search for
them.”

“So I might,” said Urania. “And if I found them?”

“Why, you would get the reward, of course. I’ve offered a dollar a
piece for them--alive.”

“A dollar apiece?” she repeated. “And how many were swiped?”

“Six--the very best three pairs,” answered the young man. “I’ll have
the reward published in to-night’s paper--”

“No, don’t,” interrupted the girl. “That’s what they’re after. Keep
them guessing for a day or two, and well, maybe the doves will coo loud
enough for you to hear them in the mean time.” At this the gypsy girl
turned away, leaving the party to draw their own conclusions from her
remarks.

And while the others stand gazing after Urania, we may take time to
get acquainted with the various characters who will come and go in
this story, and who have appeared in the other books of this series.
As told in my first volume, called “Dorothy Dale: a Girl of To-Day,”
Dorothy was a daughter of Major Dale, formerly of a little town called
Dalton, but now living with his sister, Mrs. Winthrop White, at North
Birchland. Dorothy’s chum, Octavia Travers, familiarly called Tavia,
was the sort of girl who gets all the fun possible out of life, besides
injecting a goodly portion of her own original nonsense into every
available spot. Dorothy and Tavia had been chums since their early days
in Dalton--chums of the sort that have absolute faith in each other:
a faith sufficient to overcome all troubles and doubts, yes, even
reports that might be sent out by the unthinking or the unkind, for
Tavia naturally got into trouble and kept Dorothy busy getting her out.

Several instances of this kind were told of in the first book of the
series; in the second called, “Dorothy Dale at Glenwood School,” Tavia
developed still greater facilities for finding trouble, while Dorothy
kept up with her in the matter of “development” in smoothing out the
tangles. In the third volume, “Dorothy Dale’s Great Secret,” Tavia came
very near “social shipwreck,” and no one but such a friend as Dorothy
Dale proved herself to be, could have, and actually did, rescue her.

Mrs. Winthrop White, called by Dorothy, Aunt Winnie, was also an
interesting character in the books. She was described by Tavia as a
“society thoroughbred,” and was mother to Ned and Nat, the two jolly
boys whose acquaintance we have just made. These boys were Dorothy’s
cousins, of course, and Tavia’s friends. Tavia was spending part of her
vacation with Dorothy at the Cedars, Mrs. White’s country place. The
boys played an important part in the rescue of Tavia when she tried
to “earn money by going on the stage” with a “barnstorming” company,
when Dorothy herself got into complications at Glenwood School, (trying
to assist a girl who proved entirely unworthy of the interest Dorothy
manifested in her affairs,) it was Tavia who “helped out.” At Glenwood
School we met some of the jolliest sort of boarding school girls, and
were permitted to get a glimpse into the sacred life of those who
consider every boarding school a college junior, and in imitating the
college girl antics actually outdo their elders in the matter of fun
making.

The gypsy girl, Urania, also appeared in a previous volume, and it was
Dorothy’s characteristic wit that then helped the brown-eyed Urania out
of a very unpleasant predicament.

And now this gypsy girl was offered a chance to return a kindness to
Dorothy, for in getting trace of the stolen birds all who lived at the
Cedars, would be relieved of worry, and spared much anxiety, for the
birds had been great pets with the folks there.

But would Urania make her clues clear? Dare she risk gypsy vengeance to
show her gratitude to Dorothy?

“She knows, all right,” remarked Nat, as the girl swung out into the
roadway on her way to the camp.

“But she’ll never tell,” added Ned. “She wouldn’t dare. That Melea, her
stepmother, whom she calls the old woman, is a regular ‘tartar.’”

“I think,” ventured Dorothy, “she might give just a hint. We wouldn’t
want her to do anything that would endanger herself. But if we
guessed--”

“You’re the star guesser, Doro,” put in Tavia. “For my part I never was
any good at that trick. You remember how near I came to the mark at the
Glens’ Donkey party?”

“Then keep away from this tale,” said Nat laughing. “It wouldn’t do for
the clue to be pinned on the wrong party.”

“I must have a talk with Urania alone,” Dorothy said, seriously. “I am
sure she will tell me what she knows about the birds. I’ll go see her
this afternoon--I want to go over to the camp with some things, and
then I will get Urania to walk out with me. It wouldn’t do for Melea to
see our two heads together.”

“Great idea,” commented Ned. “I quite agree with Tavia. You would make
a star detective, Doro. And the best of it is no one would ever suspect
you of being ‘on the rubber.’ Now Tavia--well, she just up and asks,
the most impertinent questions--”

“For instance. Who that nice looking boy is who has been dodging around
here lately?” interrupted Tavia, taking up the young man’s sally, and
adding to the joke on herself. “I must say he is the smartest looking
chap--”

“Oh, the fellow with the red cheeks?” asked Nat.

“Exactly,” answered Tavia, in a serious voice.

“And those deep blue eyes?” questioned Ned.

“I have not seen his eyes--close by,” admitted Tavia, “but with his
hair, they must be deep blue,” and she looked entranced at the very
thought of the “deep blue orbs.”

“Why, I haven’t seen this--Adonis,” said Dorothy, interested. “When
might a body lay eyes on his perfection?”

“He goes along the river road every morning,” Tavia informed her
companion, with great importance.

“And he carries a small leather case, like a doctor’s satchel--only
different?” went on Nat.

“You have certainly observed him closely,” declared Tavia, still
cherishing the importance of her “great find.”

“Yes, I know him,” said Nat.

“So do I,” added Ned.

“Oh, who is he?” implored Tavia, “Do introduce us!”

“Just as you like,” assented Ned, “But he is only a boy--goes to school
in Ferndale every day.”

“I thought so,” and Tavia was more interested than ever. “Where does he
go? He is studying some profession, of course.”

“Hum,” grunted Nat, with a sly wink at Dorothy.

“But just what a hero might be studying, would, of course, not
influence the opinion of such a broad-minded young woman as Tavia
Travers,” challenged Ned.

“I should say--no!” declared Tavia, with mock dramatic effect.

“Well, then, that boy is studying a most remunerative and heroic
profession,” went on Ned.

“I knew it,” cried Tavia, bounding over in front of Ned to get the
important information.

“Yes, he is studying--the plumbing business,” said Ned, and the way he
looked at Tavia--well, she just dropped in a lump at his feet, and when
Nat fetched the wheelbarrow, she still played limp, so they put her in
the barrow, wheeled her up the path, and she “stayed put,” until they
actually carried her indoors.

When she “recovered,” she declared she would waylay the plumber the
very next morning, and have him look over some little jobs that might
be found in need of looking over, by just such an intelligent youth.
The boys seconded this motion, and agreed that a good plumber was a
much more desirable acquaintance than might be a fellow who studied so
many other languages that he necessarily forgot entirely his interest
in English.

“Besides,” said Nat, “A nice little plumber like that, with deep blue
hair and red eyes--”

“And a lunch box that looks like a doctor’s kit,” interrupted Ned.

“Just jealous,” snapped Tavia. “I once knew the loveliest plumber,
never charged me a cent for fixing my bike.”

“And you would forget him for this stranger!” said Dorothy, in tragic
tones.

“No, indeed. I would think of this one in memory of the o-th-er!”
answered Tavia, clapping her hand over her heart, and otherwise giving
“volume” to her assertion.

“Well,” sighed Nat, “If it’s all the same to the ladies, we will
continue our search for the missing birds. Can’t afford to let them
get too far away, and the morning is wasting.”

“Hanged if I’ll tramp another step,” objected Ned, “not for all the
birds in Paradise. My feet are so lame now they feel like the day after
a ball match, and besides, Nat, unless we get an airship and explore
further up, it’s no use. We’ve covered all the lowland territory.”

“All but the swamp,” admitted Nat, “and I have some hopes of the swamp.
That would be just the place to hide a barrel full of stolen pigeons.”

“Or we might look in somebody’s pot-pie,” drawled the brother,
indifferently.

“No, sir,” declared Dorothy, “Those birds would begin to sing when
the pie was opened. Now you boys had better let me take this case. I
have a feeling I will be able to land the game. But I can’t have any
interference.”

“Go ahead, and good luck,” said Ned. “Take the case, the feeling, the
game, the whole outfit. You’re welcome,” and he stretched himself
in the hammock with such evident relish that Tavia could not resist
slipping around the other side, and giving the hammock a push that
“emptied,” the weary boy on the red rug beneath the “corded canopy.” He
lay there--turned up a corner of the carpet for a pillow, and remarked
that in his earlier days, it was said of him that he could roll out
of bed and “finish up on the floor,” and he “guessed he hadn’t quite
forgotten the trick.”

“Now this afternoon I’ll go down to the camp,” announced Dorothy. “So
don’t expect me back--until you see me.”

“Is that a threat?” joked Nat. “Sounds so like the kind of note one
gets pinned to the pillow when there’s been a row. ‘Don’t expect me
back. I am gone out of your life for ever--’” and he pressed his
handkerchief to his eyes, while Ned just rolled around in “agony” at
the thought.

“And she was such a sweet girl!” wailed Tavia, adding her “howl” to the
noise.

Such a racket!

Mrs. White appeared at the French window. “What in the world is the
matter?” she demanded, beholding Ned with his face buried in the
carpet, Nat with his eyes covered in his handkerchief, and Tavia with
both arms “wrapped around her forehead.”

“Oh, mother!” sobbed Nat. “We mustn’t expect her back--”

“And she won’t stand for any interference!” groaned Ned.

“And she’s going with the gypsies,” blubbered Tavia.

“Well,” and Mrs. White joined in the laugh that now evolved from the
reign of terror. “You children do find more ways of amusing yourselves!
But it might not be a bad idea to get ready for luncheon,” with a sly
look at Tavia’s uncovered slip. “Those pigeons seem to have rather
upset the regime.”

“I’m off!” shouted Tavia, with a bound over the low rail of the porch.

“I’m on!” added Nat making himself comfortable on the “tete” beneath
the honey-suckle vines.

“I’m in!” remarked Ned, as he slipped into the hammock.

“And I’m out!” declared Dorothy, with a light laugh, as she jumped off
the steps “out” into the path, then was gone to follow the suggestion
of her Aunt Winnie, for Dorothy had learned that to follow the house
rules was the most important line in the social code of Mrs. Winthrop
White.



CHAPTER III

DOROTHY AT THE CAMP


Under a clump of trees, near a brook and an open meadow, and beside a
broad country road, was pitched the gypsy camp.

This spot was chosen deliberately and with much care. The trees
furnished shade for the tents: the brook furnished water for the horses
and for housekeeping purposes, the meadow furnished pasture for the
cattle, and the roadway furnished trade for the fortune tellers.

Outside the tents were the wagons, with the queer racks, like fire
escapes, running from roof to hub. These racks are used at moving time,
to carry such stuff as might interfere with the inside “berths” during
a long journey, and at other times the racks do service as “store
rooms” for articles not needed in the tents.

In one of the wagons Urania had her sleeping quarters which were shared
by a baby half brother on such occasions as he chose to climb into the
high berth. But little Tommie was a typical gypsy, and often preferred
to cuddle up at the root of a pine tree rather than to “hump” up in hot
pillows in the wagon on summer nights.

So Urania never looked for him--if he were not in bed he must be asleep
somewhere, she knew, so in real Nomad philosophy, Tommie never looked
for Urania, and Urania never looked for Tommie,--the wisdom of living
independently comes very early to members of their class.

Neither do gypsies bother about meal times. They eat when they are
hungry--so it was that Dorothy found Urania eating her dinner at two
o’clock in the afternoon, when she made the promised call at the camp.

There appeared to be no one about the tent but Urania, and when Dorothy
pulled the little camp stool up to the “door” (the opened tent flap)
and seated herself there for a chat with the gypsy girl, she felt she
had chosen an opportune time for the confidential talk with Urania.

“Get the birds?” asked Urania, while eating.

“No,” replied Dorothy, “and I came over to see if you had heard
anything about them.”

“Heard?” sneered the girl, “I thought they were home by this time.”

“Home?” repeated Dorothy, under her breath, for she heard the bushes
rustle close by.

Urania helped herself to more sweet potatoes. She was stretched on a
piece of carpet in the center of the tent, and there spread on the
floor or ground before her was the noon day meal. A huge white cat sat
like an old fashioned chimney corner statue, straight up, at her elbow,
looking over her shoulder in the queerest way.

From a corner of the tent a very small black dog was tugging at its
rope, that just allowed the tiny animal the privilege of drawing in
atmospheric gravy--but the rope was too short to reach the dish. And
the gypsy girl ate her meal with evident relish in such surroundings!

Flashes of the “Simple Life” idea rose before Dorothy’s mind. Was this
what it meant?

Finally the gypsy girl gathered herself up, and without attempting
to remove anything from the ground, not even the remaining
eatables--although there were numbers of chickens about waiting their
turn at the “spread” she came out to where Dorothy sat.

“The old woman’s over there,” she whispered, indicating the back of the
tent. “Suppose we walk along, and talk?”

Dorothy left her parcels down in plain view of the gypsy woman,
Melea, who, upon seeing them, stepped out from her hiding place and
approached the girls.

“I brought you some little things for Tommie,” said Dorothy, “I hope
you can make use of them.”

“Thank you very much, miss,” the woman replied, as she gathered up in
her apron the bundles Dorothy had left in the camp chair. “Tommie does
need things, poor little fellow. And business is awful slow.”

Urania had slipped out to the road side now, and while the woman was
“feasting” on the new things the two girls made their way toward a
quiet path through the woods.

“And the birds are not home yet?” asked Urania, as the barking of the
little dog in the tent became almost beyond hearing.

“No,” answered Dorothy with a question in her voice.

“Well, I saw them leave the swamp, and I thought they would fly
straight home,” declared the gypsy girl.

“Leave the swamp?”

“Hush! Not so loud. Sometimes bushes have ears,” cautioned Urania. “The
birds were tied in the swamp, and--some one cut the cords,” she hissed.

[Illustration: “I brought you some little things for Tommie,” said
Dorothy. _Page 24_]

No need to tell Dorothy who the “some one” was. She glanced gratefully
at the girl walking beside her.

“I must hurry back,” she declared, “and tell the boys. Some one may
trap them.”

Dorothy noticed that Urania stopped often to rub one foot against the
other. She also noticed a frown of pain cover the girl’s brown face,
and now Urania sat down, pulled a torn stocking below her knee, and
attempted to adjust a very dirty rag over her thin limb.

“What is it?” asked Dorothy, seeing in spite of the girl’s evident
attempt to conceal it, that the rag was stained with blood.

“Oh, nothin’” replied Urania, carelessly. “I just scratched my knee,
that’s all,” and she bound the rag about the member as best she could.

“You have torn your limb in the swamp,” declared Dorothy, as the truth
came suddenly to her. “I know that place is full of poison briars--”

“But I don’t poison,” interrupted the girl, getting up to continue her
walk. “Besides it ain’t nothin’,” and she trudged along bravely enough.

“You must have the reward if the birds get back home,” Dorothy said, as
she reached the turn in the path that led to the open roadway.

“Well, money’s all right,” admitted the girl, “but it wouldn’t do for
me to show any just now. You see, there’s a lot of bad gypsies prowlin’
around here. Dad don’t mix in with them, but they’re wise, slick, you
know. And if they should get next, see me limp, and find out I had
fresh scratches, they’d get on to the swamp game quick. So I’ll have to
lay low, and I’ll be much obliged if you will help me out, and tell the
same to the young gents.”

Dorothy could not repress a smile at the girl’s queer way of telling
things, for the slang seemed as natural to Urania as chirping does to a
wood sparrow. Neither did the common expressions sound vulgar, as they
slipped from the full red lips, and became the utterances of the wild
girl of the camps.

“You can depend on me,” whispered Dorothy, pressing Urania’s hand. “And
do be careful to wash those scratches--keep the poison out, you know.”

“Oh, I’m all right,” the other replied. “There comes Tommie, and he’s
got on the new togs. My, but he does look swell!”

Plunging through the bushes came the little gypsy boy, in the “new
togs,” the pretty dark blue sailor suit that Dorothy had bought for
him while in the city a few days before.

“He does look nice,” agreed Dorothy, when the boy stood before her,
waiting for compliments. “And they fit you so nicely,” she continued,
taking a critical look at the blue sailor suit. “But I must hurry off
now. Be a good boy, Tommie, and don’t tear your new clothes in the
bushes,” she cautioned.

“I won’t,” declared the little fellow. “I’m goin’ to town next time dad
goes, and I want to save ’em.”

“That’s right. Good-bye, Urania, look after the scratches,” said
Dorothy, aside, “and if you want any of the reward money, just come
over and tell me. I’ll see that you get it without the others knowing.”

“Much obliged,” stammered Urania. “Come along, Tommie, if you want a
‘piggy-back,’” and she stooped to the ground to allow the boy to climb
on her back. “Now, don’t kick--there. Hold fast!” and at this the
gypsies started down one path, while Dorothy hurried along another, for
it was growing dusk, and the prospect of meeting the “bad gypsies,” the
chicken thieves, that Urania said might be prowling about, was not a
pleasant thought to Dorothy. Fortunately the road was not far away, and
when finally she did reach it, without encountering any “dark figures,”
she breathed a sigh of relief, and then made her way quickly to the
Cedars.



CHAPTER IV

THE MIDNIGHT ALARM


But one week remained now of all the long summer vacation--then school
must be taken up again, and the labor of learning must become both work
and play for our young friends.

Dorothy and Tavia were to go back to Glenwood. Mrs. White had decided
that the girls should not be separated, and consequently she provided
the funds that were lacking on the part of the Travers family; for
Tavia’s father had not been as prosperous in business during the past
summer as he had formerly been, and in spite of many heroic efforts on
his part, it was found impossible to get the necessary money together
to send Tavia back to Glenwood.

It was on the very evening that Dorothy came in from her walk with
Urania, that the school affairs were definitely decided upon.
Mrs. White had received from Mr. Travers an answer to her letter
regarding the school question, and so, when dinner was over, and
stolen pigeons fully and finally discussed (they had not come home,
however), Dorothy, Tavia and Mrs. White--the boys being rigorously
excluded--adjourned to the sitting room to make notes and give notes,
necessary in the formality of getting ready for boarding school.

Mrs. White was a beautiful woman, and her very presence seemed an
inspiration to young girls, she was so gentle, so kind, so charming and
so correct, without being prudish. Even the careless, frivolous Tavia
“went down” beneath Aunt Winnie’s power, and was bound to admit it was
“nice” to be well dressed, and “attractive” to have good manners.

On this particular evening Mrs. White was gowned in the palest
lavender--a delicate orchid shade, and in her hair was a wild flower
that Dorothy had brought in from the woods, the tints of this little
spray toning exactly with the shade of the soft, silky gown.

Dorothy, too, was becomingly dressed. She wore her favorite light
green--the one that Tavia always declared made Dorothy look like a
lily, for her fair head above the “green stalk” easily suggested the
comparison. Tavia, as usual, picked out the first dress that brushed
her face as she entered the wardrobe, but it happened to be a pretty
one, a bright plaid in fine Scotch gingham, that suited Tavia’s high
color and light brown hair admirably.

“Now, my dears,” began Mrs. White, “I think we had best all go to town
together, and then there will be no mistakes made about the sizes of
your school things. The boys will leave for Cadet Hall in a few days,
and after that we will be at liberty to take a whole day in town
without neglecting any one. Major and the little boys” (Dorothy’s
brothers) “will not be home for a week yet, schools do vary so in the
time of opening, so that the thing for us to do now is, first: get Nat
and Ned off, then attend to the shopping. After that we will just have
time for a little reunion with the major and the boys, then it will be
time to pack my girls off. Dear me,” said she, laughing, “I have quite
a large family nowadays, but their care seems to agree with me.”

“You never looked better, Aunt Winnie,” declared Dorothy, with evident
sincerity. “I hope I will grow tall and--straight like you.”

“You are doing your best now, girlie,” her aunt assured her, as she
glanced at Dorothy’s slender form, that made such a pretty picture
against the dark portieres she happened to cling to.

“But I’m getting fat,” groaned Tavia. “My clothes won’t button, and,
oh, I do hate fat!”

“Take more exercise,” said Mrs. White, with a meaning laugh, for
Tavia’s “tom-boy” habits were a confirmed joke among her friends, and
for her “to take more exercise” seemed to mean to climb more fences and
tear more dresses.

The sitting room was on the first floor, just off the side porch,
and the long, low, French windows in the room were draped with a
transparent stuff, but on this evening the shades had not yet been
drawn.

There was a fixed rule at the Cedars that all shades should be drawn
down as soon as the lights were turned on, but the interest in school
talk so occupied our little party that the uncovered windows were
entirely overlooked on this particular evening.

Tavia was seated on a low stool, very close to an open window, and just
as Mrs. White made the remark about the major being away from home,
Tavia fancied she heard a step on the side porch. She was positive
the boys had gone out in their automobile, the Fire Bird, and so was
puzzled as to the sound--it certainly was a step and a very light one,
as well.

But Tavia did not interrupt the talk, in fact, she had no idea of
alarming any one while the boys were away, and perhaps the servants
might be off somewhere, for the evening was a pleasant one, and
everybody seemed to be making the most of these last few fine nights of
summer.

“And about your trunks,” went on Mrs. White, “I think we had better
get larger ones, for you say you did have such a time getting all your
clothes in when leaving school last term. Don’t you think, Tavia--but
what are you listening to?” asked Mrs. White, noting the look on
Tavia’s face. “Do you hear the boys coming? My! we have forgotten to
draw the shades. Dorothy, just draw that one, and, Tavia, close the one
at your elbow. It is never safe to sit by uncovered windows after dark.”

The light from the room fell across the broad piazza and as Tavia put
her arm up to the shade she distinctly saw the line of light outside
crossed by a shadow. She stepped back involuntarily, and at the same
instant Dorothy gave a scream.

“A man!” she called. “He just passed the window. And, oh, he looked at
me so!”

This was all Dorothy could say. Then she sank into a chair trembling
visibly.

“I saw him,” said Tavia, “but I’ve seen him before. I suppose he’s
prowling around for something to eat.”

“There is no need to be so frightened, Dorothy,” said Mrs. White. “We
will just go about and see that things are locked up. I do wish the
boys were in, though, and perhaps you had better call up the stable,
Tavia, and ask John to come down to the house.”

The ’phone to the stable was just at the door of the sitting room, so
Tavia did not have to venture far to call the man. But no answer came
to the summons. John was not in the stable.

“Well, the boys will be back shortly,” Mrs. White said confidently,
“and there is no need for alarm. We will see that the doors are
fastened. You did get a start, Dorothy, but you know, my dear, in the
country people cross lawns and take short cuts without really meaning
to trespass.”

“Oh, I’m all right now,” replied Dorothy, “but it was--sudden. I’ll see
that the shades are drawn at dark after this,” and she laughed lightly
as she followed her aunt and Tavia through the hall to fasten the front
door.

It was strange they should be so alarmed, but they were, and the
measured tread that marked the small procession on its way to the front
door showed plainly that each member of the trio wanted the door
locked, but was not personally anxious to turn the key.

“There,” sighed Mrs. White, when finally her jeweled finger was
withdrawn from the heavy panel. “I have often dreamed of doing
that--and having some one grab me as I turned the key, but I escaped,
luckily, this time. Now we may go back to our school plans. Suppose we
sit in the library, just to get away from the side porch.”

To this welcome suggestion the girls promptly agreed, and if the
intruder who had so disturbed them a few minutes before, chose to
follow them up, and peer through the library windows, he would have had
to cross directly under the electric light that illumined the entrance
to the villa at the Cedars.

But, somehow, Dorothy could not forget the face that she had caught
sight of, and she felt instinctively that the prowler was not a
neighbor “taking a short cut,” for he need not have stepped on the
porch in that case.

So when school matters were settled, and the boys had returned
from their ride in the Fire Bird to hear the account of the little
adventure, and to take extra precautions in locking up the big house,
Dorothy whispered to Ned and Nat her suspicion--that the man who
peeked in at the windows might be one of the bad gypsies, and that he
might know something about the stolen pigeons.

“We ought to set a trap for the rascal,” Ned whispered in answer to
his cousin’s suspicions, “he may be coming back for the rest of the
birds. I wish I had told John to keep his ears open while his eyes were
shut, but it’s too late to do that now,” and then, with every assurance
of safety, and the promise to be up at the slightest alarm, Ned and
Nat said good-night to their cousin, and Dorothy’s fears were soon
forgotten in the sleep that comes to healthy girls after the pleasant
exercise of a lingering summer’s day.

Ned and Nat, too, soon fell into sound sleep, for their evening ride
left in its tracks the pleasant flavor of most persuasive drowsiness,
in spite of the promises made to Dorothy that they would be “on the
lookout” all night, and no intruder should come around the Cedars
without the two youths of the estate being aware of the intrusion.

But alas for such promises! Did boys ever sleep so soundly? And even
Dorothy, though usually one apt to awake at small sounds, “hugged her
pillow” with a mighty “grip,” because, of course, when a girl insists
upon keeping awake just as long as she can keep her eyes propped open,
when the “props” do slip away, sleep comes with a “thud.”

So it was that Tavia, she who made a practice of covering up her head
and getting to sleep in order to avoid trouble (when she heard it
coming)--Tavia it was who heard something very like a step on the side
porch, just after midnight.

Some one has said that it is easier to keep burglars out than to chase
them out: this infers, of course, that it may be wiser to give a false
alarm than to take the opposite course. But true to her principles
Tavia covered up her head, and told herself that it would be very
foolish to arouse the household just because she heard a strange sound.

Yet there was something uncanny about the noise! There it was again!

Tavia raised her head and looked around. Dorothy slept in the alcove
and a light burned dimly from a shaded lamp between the two sleeping
apartments. Tavia could see that her chum was sleeping soundly.

“Dorothy! Dorothy!” she whispered, afraid now to hear her own voice.
“Dorothy! get up! I think I hear some one--”

Crash!

Every one in the house heard that! It came from the dining room and was
surely a heavy crash of glass breaking!

Instantly Dorothy dashed to the door, and putting her finger on an
electric button, flooded the hallways upstairs and down with glaring
light. The next moment she touched another button! The burglar alarm.

And all this time Tavia trembled there, in her bed--she who was wide
awake, and she who usually could boast of some courage!

“Oh!” she kept gasping, “I heard them long ago! They are inside, I’m
sure!”

“Heard them long ago!” Dorothy took time to exclaim, “Then do, for
goodness sake, do something! Get up and make a noise anyway! John will
be in from the stable in a moment. Get up and slip on your robe,” for
Tavia seemed “glued” to the spot.

By this time the boys were out in the hall, Ned with a glittering
revolver clutched firmly in his hand, and his younger brother leading
the way with a night light thrust out like a danger signal.

“Boys! boys!” begged Mrs. White. “Do be careful! Don’t shoot even if
you--Oh, I wish you would wait until John comes. I know I shall faint
if I hear a shot!”

Indeed, the mother was almost in a state of collapse at that very
moment, and Dorothy, meeting her aunt in the hall, quietly put her arm
around her and led her away from the stairway into the secluded alcove.

“Auntie, dear! Don’t be so alarmed,” soothed Dorothy. “They are surely
gone by this time. They never hang around after the lights are turned
on. And when that bell went off, I know they were glad to get off at
that signal.”

“Oh, I’m so--glad--Dorothy, that you turned in the alarm,” gasped Mrs.
White, “for the boys--were determined to go right down upon them--Oh!
I feel some one would surely have been shot--if you had not acted
so quickly!” and the trembling woman sank down on Dorothy’s couch,
thoroughly exhausted.

“There they go! There they go!” called Tavia, throwing up the curtains,
and thrusting her head out of the window.

“See! There’s two men! Running down the path!”

That instant a shot rang out, and then another!

“Oh!” screamed Mrs. White, dashing up and rushing down the stairs with
Dorothy close behind her. “The boys! My boys!” Then she stumbled and
fell into the arms of Ned, who knew how keen would be her anxiety, and
was hurrying to assure her that the shots were only sent out to alarm
the neighborhood, and that John and men from other nearby stables were
now trying to run down the midnight intruders.

“Mother! Mother!” whispered the youth. “Everything is all right. No one
is hurt. Mother, see! Here is Nat now. He didn’t go out. Come, let us
put you to bed.”

“Boys!” breathed Mrs. White, opening her eyes. “I am all right now.
But I was so frightened! Ned--Nat, are you both here? Then I will go
upstairs,” and she rallied bravely. “I do hate so to hear a pistol
shot. It was that--but no one is hurt, and they are gone? No matter
what they took, I am so glad they did get away.”

In spite of the boys’ regard for their mother, it was quite evident
they were not so well pleased at the safe departure of the robbers, but
now they must “put their mother to bed,” and then--

“You girls stay upstairs with her,” whispered Nat to Dorothy, as the
party made its way to Mrs. White’s room. “We may be out for a while. If
she calls us, just say--”

“Oh, leave that to me,” said Dorothy authoritatively. “We can keep the
burglars out now, I guess,” and she laughed lightly at the “guess,”
when there was positive assurance that the burglar scare had entirely
subsided, and that John and the others were on active “picket duty”
about the place.

“What was broken?” Mrs. White asked, more for the sake of saying
something than to express interest in the loss.

“The lamp,” answered Dorothy, “and what a pity. That lamp was such
a beauty. It came as near making moonlight as anything artificial
possibly could.”

“Then we will get a sunshine in place of it,” said Mrs. White,
brightening up.

“Yes, daylight for mine,” added Tavia, with a “scary” face. “Mr. Moon
goes behind a cloud too--”

“Noisily,” finished Dorothy. “At the same time he acted promptly in
this case. It is not a bad idea to have some such safeguard.”

“I always thought the lamp was in the way,” agreed the aunt, “but
as you say, Dorothy, it was in the right way this time. Well,
let us be thankful no one is hurt--it is easy to replace mere
merchandise.”

Dawn was peeping through blinds, and with the first ray of light
quietness again fell upon the Cedars. The servants had gone back to
their rooms, Dorothy and Tavia were again in their “corners,” as Tavia
termed the pretty twin alcoves, allotted the young girls while visiting
at the Cedars, and the young men--well, they did not return to their
rooms. To lose five homing pigeons, and good family silver all within
one week, was rather too exciting for boys like Nat and Ned. There was
something to be done other than sleeping just then.

Even real, daring burglars are only mortal, and sometimes the most
daring are the greatest cowards--when daylight comes and people are
wide awake!



CHAPTER V

AN AWFUL EXPERIENCE


It was two days later, very early in the morning, when Nat went down
to the “enclosure” to feed the lonely birds remaining in the cage,
that he found one of those--a carrier which had been stolen, perched
contentedly on its own particular box!

“Hello!” called out the young man, in delight. “Where did you come
from? So an Archangel did ‘make good,’ as Tavia said. Well, I’m right
glad to see you, Gabriel,” he told the prodigal. “Come down here and
eat. You must be hungry.”

As if the bird understood, it promptly fluttered down to Nat, and came
obediently up to the hand that held some inviting food.

“What’s that on your--A message!” Nat interrupted himself. “Looks like
it. Here, Gabriel, let me get that note off your leg,” and he proceeded
to untie from the bird’s foot a scrap of paper.

“Thought so,” went on the boy, as if the bird had been taking a more
active part in the conversation than that of fluttering its wings and
cooing happily. “A message--from--Let me see,” and Nat sat down on the
edge of the scratch box.

“This is a scrawl, too scrawly for me, I’m afraid. That’s ‘c-o-me’
come,” and he peered through the thin paper at the indistinct letters.
“And next is s-w-a-mp, swamp. ‘Come swamp.’ That’s it, all right. It’s
a message telling us to go to the swamp,” and Nat jumped up, delighted
to have deciphered the queer note.

“Maybe it’s signed,” he reflected, looking over the paper again
carefully. “Yes, there’s a letter, and it’s a ‘U,’ u for--for--why,
Urania, of course,” he decided instantly. “Well, we’ll go to the swamp,
Urania, and see what’s doin’ there. I had an idea right along that we
might find the pigeons around the swamp.”

The pigeon was now strutting around in its own confident way, as if the
hardships through which it had so lately passed were all forgotten, and
only the freedom of the Cedars, with all the good “pickings” and the
brook berries to nibble at, were now questions to be considered.

“Go ahead, Gabriel, help yourself. Take more and plenty of it,” said
Nat, as he started off.

Nat was not long in reaching the house and making his find known to the
folks there. Dorothy read and re-read the message that the bird had
brought, and declared she had been positive all along that a clue to
the two burglaries would come through Urania.

“Now, that’s what I call good, sensible telepathy,” said Tavia, when
her turn came ’round to read the wonder note. “Pencil and paper and
a few words--even though they be rather--well, I should call them
‘spooky,’” and she smoothed the bit of precious paper out carefully on
the palm of her hand.

“But what’s the answer?” demanded Ned. “Why should the girl order us to
the swamp? Couldn’t she as well come here and put us next the game?”

“No,” answered Dorothy decisively. “I have been trying to get a word
with Urania for the last two days--since the night the silver was
stolen, and every time I see her, she darts away like a wild deer. She
seems afraid to speak to me, as if some one were watching her.”

“More like it,” agreed Nat. “She knows about the birds and the goods
and they (the other gypsies) know that she will give them away if she
gets the chance, so they are keeping the chance at a distance. Then,
she was inspired, yes, I would call it inspired” (for both Tavia and
Ned had attempted to faint when Nat grew eloquent). “I say she was
inspired,” he repeated, “to send the message a la pigeon. Now it’s ‘up
to us’ to go to the swamp and do the rest.”

“No, I insist,” said Dorothy, with marked emphasis, “that I must go
first. I must, if possible, see Urania, and by some sign find out from
her how the ground lays. Then, if all is ready, we may proceed to the
swamp.”

“Aladdin and the seven Robbers were not in it with this stunt,”
exclaimed Tavia, with a hearty laugh. “I hope I don’t get locked in the
cave. This is certainly mysterious. I suppose we will have to get out
our boots to go a-swamping. I tried that gully once, and came out wiser
than I went in. Also heavier. I brought back with me a ton of splendid
yellow mud.”

“Now, the thing for you all to do,” advised Dorothy, with much
seriousness, “is to keep this matter very quiet. Don’t say a word about
it to any one, remember, not even to John. Then, I’ll go out and try to
see Urania, and find out what it all means. When I come back, which I
will do in an hour at the most, we can go to the swamp and--”

“And swamp the swampers,” interrupted Nat. “I had made up my mind to
swat the fellow I would find guilty of swiping those birds, but now I’m
content to swamp and swat the swipers.”

“Great,” admitted Ned. “But first catch your bird, that’s the old way,
I believe. After you have the bird, you may turn on the swipsy swampy
swipping.”

“Couldn’t I go with you, Doro?” asked Tavia, “you might need some
protection. There’s no telling what our friends may want to steal next.”

“Oh, I’m not a bit afraid,” replied Dorothy. “I know the folks at the
camp.”

“But just the same,” cautioned Ned, “it might be more prudent to take
Tavia along. I have heard there are other gypsies about than those in
the camp. And two girls are better than one, if it is only a case of
yell.”

“But if Urania sees any one with me she is sure to hide,” protested
Dorothy. “She has been running away from me for days.”

“All the more reason why she might run towards me,” insisted Tavia.
“Now, Doro, we usually let you have your own way, but in this
particular case you may have noticed that a reward is at stake, and I
just love rewards. So I’m going.”

At this Tavia picked up a light parasol that stood in a recess of the
porch, and dashing it up jauntily, started off down the path with the
protesting Dorothy.

The young men waved a “good luck” to the messengers, then they made
their way to the “enclosure,” to fully investigate the “carrier” that
had brought the clue to the captivity of its mates.

The girls had but a short distance to walk to the camp, and before they
reached the grassy sward that surrounded the home of the gypsies, they
had caught sight of Urania.

“There she is,” declared Tavia, as a flash of bright skirts darted
through the bushes.

“Yes,” agreed Dorothy, “that is Urania, but she has seen us and is
getting away.”

“Then I’ll head her off,” said Tavia, making a sudden turn and running
in the direction the gypsy girl was taking.

“But you won’t meet her that way,” called Dorothy. “You can’t cross the
spring. I’ll go this way. She must either stay in the deep brush, or
come out at the end of the path.”

“Oh, I see you know the trail,” answered Tavia. “Well, ‘it’s up to you
then.’ I’ll stand guard. And, besides, your shoes are stronger than
mine, so a dash through the spring will not give you the same brand of
pneumonia that might be ‘handed out’ to me. So long!”

At this the two girls parted, Dorothy taking a roundabout path into
the deep wood, while Tavia serenely sat herself down to enjoy a late
picking of huckleberries, that were hiding on a bush just at her elbow.

For a few minutes Tavia was so engrossed in eating the fresh fruit she
entirely forgot her “picket duty,” and when she finally did straighten
up to see where Dorothy might be going, that young lady was not only
out of sight, but likewise out of hearing!

Alarmed, Tavia shouted lustily, but no answer came to her call.

“She may not be able to call back without fear of arousing the bad
gypsies,” thought Tavia, “All the same, I wish I had seen which way she
went.”

With increasing anxiety Tavia waited at the turn of the path. Every
rustle through the leaves, every chirp of a bird, startled the girl.
Surely this was a deep woods for a young girl like Dorothy to be
entering alone. And after Tavia assuring Dorothy’s cousins she would go
with her, and look out for her!

Finally, as the minutes grew longer, and no trace of Dorothy appeared,
Tavia could no longer stand the nervous strain, and she determined to
go straight to the gypsy camp, and there make inquiries.

“What if it does get Urania into trouble,” she argued. “We can’t afford
to lose trace of Dorothy for that.”

Quickly Tavia made her way through the brush over to the canvas houses,
and there in front of one of the tents she encountered the woman Melea.

“Have you seen Miss Dale?” asked Tavia, without any preliminaries. “She
started through the woods and I can’t find her.”

“Hasn’t been around here lately,” replied the woman with evident
truthfulness. “Last I saw her she came down with some clothes for
Tommie. That was days ago.”

“Where’s Urania?” demanded Tavia next.

“Oh, she ain’t around here any more,” answered Melea. “She got too
sassy--didn’t know which side her bread was buttered on, and her father
just ‘shooed’ her off.”

“Off where?” insisted Tavia, now fearful that Dorothy would fall into
the hands of those who were intent upon punishing Urania, and who,
therefore, might take revenge upon Urania’s friends also.

“I don’t know where she’s gone,” snapped the woman, turning impatiently
to go inside the tent.

“But being a good fortune teller,” said Tavia, “can’t you guess? Didn’t
I see her running through the woods a short time ago?”

“I guess not,” sneered the woman. “If you did, it must have been her
ghost. She ain’t around these parts,” and at this the woman entered the
tent, drawing the flap down as she did so.

“Well!” exclaimed Tavia aloud, “this is interesting. But not altogether
comfortable. I see we will have to get a searching committee out, and I
had better make arrangements promptly.”

A half-hour later Ned, Nat and Tavia reached the spot in the wood where
the two girls had parted.

“Are you sure she took that path?” Ned demanded of Tavia.

“Positive,” replied the frightened girl. “I just sat down here to wait
for her, and she went completely out of sight.”

“It might have been better to watch which way they went--might have
seen the bushes move,” ventured Nat. Then, noting that Tavia was
inclined to become more excited, he added: “Of course, she must be
around here somewhere. There is really no cause for alarm. She may be
hiding, just to give us a scare.”

“Oh, Dorothy would never do that,” sighed Tavia. “I can’t imagine what
could become of her. And Urania is gone, too. They must be together.”

“You take that path and I will work through the bushes,” said Nat to
Ned. “This swamp must open out somewhere, and I’ll bet we find the
girls in that ‘open.’”

Tavia called and whistled, while the boys hunted and yelled. The
“yodle” (a familiar call used always by the boys, Dorothy and Tavia),
was given so often the very woods seemed to repeat the call.

It was becoming more and more discouraging, however, for, in spite of
all efforts, not an answer came back, and no trace of the missing ones
could be obtained.

Finally Nat shouted to his brother to follow him, as he “had struck a
new trail.”

“Come along, Tavia,” Ned called in turn. “This woods may be the
swallowing kind, and you might get gobbled up too. Keep close to us
now.”

There was no need to urge the girl in that direction, for the woods had
indeed a terror for her now, and she felt more inclined to run straight
home than to help further in the search. But this, she knew, would
look cowardly, so she determined to follow the boys into the marshy
wilderness.

It was a rough way--that winding path, for the thick brush grew so
closely over it that only the bend of the bushes showed there had been
a path there, and that it was now seldom, if ever, used, save as a run
for frightened rabbits, or a track for the hounds that followed them.

“There!” exclaimed Nat. “See that open? Didn’t I tell you we would find
one? And there--what’s that over there at the hill? A cave, as I live.
Now we are ‘going some.’”

“But, oh, Nat!” whispered Tavia, who had come up very close to him.
“Look! There are men--over there! See, by that tree! Oh, I shall die, I
am so frightened! They may have guns!”

“Well, so have we for that matter. You just keep your nerve. No danger
that those fellows will attack us,” and the young man clapped his hand
on his hip pocket to indicate the surety of his weapon there.

Ned, at that same time, had caught sight of the men hiding. He came
over to where Tavia and his brother stood.

“Don’t let them see us,” he cautioned. “Just get back of that clump of
bushes, and we will both fire together. They’ll skip then, I guess.”

Without moving a bush, or rustling a leaf, the trio crept behind the
thick blackberry vines, and the next moment two shots rang out through
the gully! The report echoed against the very hill where the men were
crouching.

Instantly they sprang out into the open space. There were two in number
and Tavia recognized them. They were the “bad gypsies,” those turned
out of the camp and away from the camping grounds where the other
families of gypsies had their quarters.

“Gypsies!” she whispered to Ned.

“Hush!” he cautioned, with a finger on his lips.

Only for a moment did the men stay in sight. Evidently they were trying
to locate the direction whence the shots came, but not being able to
do so, they, realizing the “enemy” had the entire advantage of them,
turned and fled!

Up the hill, across the path, out of the woods and even along the
roadside they ran--ran as if a band of constables were at their heels.

“Didn’t I tell you?” said Ned. “Look at them go,” as from the higher
position on the hill side the men could still be seen making their
escape.

“A pity to let them go,” murmured Nat, “but we’ve got to find the
girls.”

“Oh, I would like to go up a tree and stay there,” sighed Tavia, who
was still badly frightened.

“Guess we’re all ‘up a tree’ this time,” answered Nat, lightly. “But
I’m for the cave. Come along, Ned, and keep your gun handy.”

Tavia followed the boys across the open sward although she trembled so,
she could scarcely make one foot step in front of the other. What if
men should be in the cave, and pounce out on them!

“You needn’t worry,” Ned assured her, seeing her white face. “There are
no more gypsies in this hole. They would have answered the shots same
as the others did, if they had been about.”

“Neat little cave,” remarked Nat, as they came nearer the hut. “Didn’t
know we had anything like that around here.”

They were now directly in front of the “hole in the hill.”

The top of this cave was covered with grass and ground, so that from
the upper part of the hill, where the walk was common, the cave would
never be suspected. But that the place was lined with brick and stone
was plain to our friends, for they stood now in front of the opening,
and this was a perfectly shaped door, surrounded by even rows of bricks.

“An old ice house,” declared Ned. “There must have been a big house
around here and this was the ice storage.”

“Yes, there are ruins just over there,” said Tavia, indicating a spot
at some distance down a gully.

“Call,” said Ned. “Tavia you call, they might be frightened at the
sound of a man’s voice if they are in there.”

“Dorothy! Dorothy!” called Tavia, standing as near the door of the
cave-hut as she dared trust herself to go.

Then they waited.

“Someone is moving inside,” said Ned, “I’m going in. She may not be
able to come out.”

“Oh, don’t go in,” pleaded Tavia, “they may only be trying to trap you.”

“Well, I’ll take chances,” insisted the boy.

“And I’m with you,” declared his brother. “We’ve got to see who is
there. Keep your gun handy, Ned.”

So saying, and each with a revolver ready in his hand, the brothers
entered the cave.

Tavia dropped on her knees! It was one of those awful moments when only
Providence seems strong enough to help.

But scarcely had she buried her face in her hands than she heard her
name called.

“Come on, Tavia,” said Nat, appearing at the door of the cave, “We’ve
found her all right, come inside and see!”

Fear fled with the words.

Found Dorothy! Oh, and in that awful place!

The girl sprang from her knees and she, too, entered the dark place.

“Dorothy!” she cried as the lost one fell into her arms. “Oh, Dorothy
dear! What you must have suffered!”

“Yes, but let us get her outside,” insisted Ned. “This is no place to
revive her. Come on Coz. You needn’t be the least bit frightened. We
saw the fellows run over the hill. They’re in another town by this
time. Just hang on to me. There, now I’ve put the gun away, so you
won’t be afraid of that!”

“Oh,” gasped Dorothy, as she breathed the fresh air again. “What an
awful experience! But, oh, I am so glad now--now I’m safe again,” and
she sank exhausted on the grassy field.

“You poor darling,” whispered Tavia, fondling her lovingly. “And to
think that I let you get entirely out of my sight. And I had promised
to take care of you. Oh, Dorothy, how can you forgive me!” and at
this Tavia burst out crying--the nervous strain of the past few hours
summing up now into the girls’ ever ready cure-all--a good cry!

“Now, do you girls think you could stay here without--committing
suicide or being kidnapped, while Ned and I just go in and explore?”
asked Nat. “We saw the ‘goods’ in there, and there’s no time like the
present.”

Dorothy and Tavia promised to “keep out of mischief,” so the two
brothers again entered the cave.



CHAPTER VI

“THE GOODS”


“Nothing develops like developments,” declared Nat when a few minutes
later he emerged from the cave, with a small crate in his arms.

“The pigeons!” cried the girls, and Tavia jumped up to help Nat set the
box down carefully.

“The very goods--note that I delivered them,” said Nat in joyous tones.
“Now, there’s more stuff inside, and we may as well deliver them all on
one trip. Watch that crate, Tavia. Don’t let some fairy fly out of the
tree and carry it off.”

But Tavia was too interested examining the contents of the crate
(through the bars, of course) to notice Nat’s remark.

“Isn’t it splendid to find them!” she asked of Dorothy.

“Yes,” replied the girl, who still lay limp on the grass, “I think
I should have died in there but for their cooing. They seemed to be
telling me to keep up. And as I listened I felt some one was coming--I
guess I heard you long before you found me.”

“But how in the world did you get in there?” asked Tavia.

“Urania showed me the place, and they were after us--but I can’t talk
about it now, Tavia, I feel that even now they may be near.”

“All right dear. Forgive me for asking you,” answered Tavia, now so
eager to make up for the mistake she had made in “losing” Dorothy.

“The same thing only different,” exclaimed Ned, as he came out of
the cave with a big black bag in his arms. “This is our silver,
ladies--Silver, this is our ladies,” he joked, as he brought the bag
over and dropped it at Dorothy’s feet.

“Oh!” exclaimed both girls.

“Isn’t that splendid!” continued Dorothy. “I did not know that was in
there. But do let us go home now, boys. If there is any thing else we
can--you can come back for it, and you will be safer with John.”

“I guess that’ll be about all,” answered her cousin. “Now, how will we
load up! Ned you take the crate, and I’ll put the bag on my back. There
must be coal in the bottom, for our silver didn’t weigh a ton.”

[Illustration: “This is our silver, ladies” _Page 60_]

It took but a few moments to “load up,” and presently the party was
making their way to the open road, having decided to take the longest
way ’round, for the shortest way home.

“Poor little Urania!” sighed Dorothy, as she reached the broad bright
roadway. “I wonder which way she went?”

“A pity we couldn’t find her,” said Nat, “but we’re not through looking
yet. She must be found before night fall.”

“And those awful men,” gasped Dorothy. “I do believe if they found her
they would kill her!”

“Not if we find her first,” grunted Ned, for his load was so heavy he
had to talk in “chunks.”

“Does Aunt Winnie know?” asked Dorothy, anxiously.

“Not a word,” replied Nat as he shifted the crate to a change of hands.
“And she must not know. We can say we were in the woods and found
the stuff all right, but she must not get a word of Dorothy in the
cave. She would never trust us again if she did. And to Doro would be
assigned a special officer as a body guardian the rest of her days.
Now of course, a special officer is all right when a girl picks him
herself, but the mammas always make a point of selecting the least
attractive, I believe.”

The girls tried to laugh at the youth’s attempt to cheer them up, but
it was only a feeble effort that responded.

“All the same, I call it great luck to get the goods,” insisted Ned,
“and only for Doro’s scare the game would be all to the goal.”

“Well I wouldn’t want to go through it again,” answered Dorothy, “but
having it over I, too, think it is a good thing to get the birds and
the silver. I would be almost happy if I only knew about Urania.”

“Now, just as soon as we deposit this stuff safely--the birds in their
nests and the silver in the pantry, we will sneak off somewhere, and
you must give us the whole story. Then, we will know which way to go to
look for the gypsy girl.”

Just as they turned into the path that led up to the Cedars the party
met John. He had been sent out by Mrs. White to look for the “children.”

“Oh, here, John, take this bag!” called Ned as he approached, “my back
is just paralyzed.”

“No take this crate,” demanded Nat. “He’s only got one back paralyzed,
I’ve got two arms broken!”

“Set them down, set them down,” answered the man. “What in the
world--the birds! Well, so you found them?”

“So--we--did!” panted Ned, as he dropped the bag.

“And what’s this?” asked John, taking a look into the black muslin
bundle. “The silver! Well now! Did you raid a pawn shop?”

“No, sir, we raided a hole in the hill,” replied Nat.

“And we pulled the hole in after us,” added Ned.

The man thought the boys only joking, but he promptly took up the crate
with many kind “coos” to the birds, and proceeded with them to their
quarters, telling the boys, as he went, that the “creatures” were both
starved and choked, and that their wants should be attended to at once.

“Then it’s up to me to bag it again,” said Ned, “although I do think,
Nat, you might shuffle for a new deal.”

When the recovered silver had been examined it was found that one
article was missing--a piece of untold value to the White family. This
was an old Indian drinking cup, that Professor White in his travels
through India had acquired. It happened to be the last present Mrs.
White’s husband and the boys’ father had sent home before his sudden
death, and on account of this intimate association with her husband’s
last days Mrs. White prized the old dark cup beyond estimate.

Nat and Ned hesitated to make the loss known to their mother and as a
matter of fact she did not know of it until some time later. In the
meantime they hurried to make all possible search and inquiries but
without any satisfactory result. The old cup could not be found.

John went with the boys back to the cave and all three searched every
crack and crevice in hopes of locating the missing piece of silver, but
it was nowhere to be found. Following this they even visited the gypsy
camp and asked there if an old silver cup might have been seen about
the woods (being careful of course not to mention recovery of the other
things) but Melea with scant ceremony dismissed the boys declaring,
“she didn’t know nothin’ ’bout their old tin cups.”

So they were obliged to let the matter rest, although it was understood
the finding of the cup would mean a very great delight to Mrs. Winthrop
White.

It was still that eventful morning, although the hour was crowding
noon-day, when the boys, with Tavia, insisted on Dorothy at once
telling the story of her “Wild West” adventure as Ned termed it.

“Come out on the side lawn under the trees,” directed Nat. “There no
one will hear us, or suspect us of holding a secret session.”

The plan was agreed upon, and presently Dorothy was made the center of
the interested group, all sitting on the grass under the Cedars.

“I don’t know all the story myself,” insisted the girl, “for you see
Urania ran off and left me without most of the particulars.”

“Speak of angels--there’s Urania now,” Ned interrupted, “she is looking
for you, Dorothy.”

“Urania!” called Dorothy, stepping out on the path. “Come over here.
Oh, I am so glad she’s all right,” she finished, as the gypsy girl
sauntered up to the party.

“Well!” drawled Urania, looking keenly at Dorothy, “so you got back?
Ha! ha! wasn’t they easy--them fellers?” and she laughed heartily at
the thought. “Think of me givin’ them a steer! ha! ha!” and the girl
rolled over on the grass as if the entire affair had been a good joke.

“But I didn’t feel much like laughing when you left me in that cave
alone,” protested Dorothy. “I felt as if my last moment had about
arrived.”

“Well, I couldn’t do any better,” asserted Urania, now realizing that
it might not be polite for her to laugh when Dorothy had had such an
awful experience.

“I’ll tell you,” put in Ned, “Dorothy you tell your part of the story,
and now Urania is here she can tell hers. We are anxious to hear it
all. Talk about Wild West shows! If this isn’t about the limit. Go
ahead Doro.”

At this all made themselves comfortable, Urania sitting in real gypsy
fashion, her elbows resting lazily on her knees and her feet crossed
under her.

“Well,” began Dorothy, “I found Urania some time after I left Tavia.
She was picking berries near the spring. I asked her about the message
the pigeon brought, and she told me that the men who stole the birds
and silver had been arrested this morning, but that she knew where the
things were.”

“And didn’t I?” interrupted Urania, more to confirm Dorothy’s statement
than to ask the question.

“Indeed you did,” went on Dorothy. “Then we went to the swamp.”

“Weren’t you afraid?” asked Tavia.

“Not when Urania declared the men were safe in jail,” explained Dorothy.

“But they were not safe in jail,” insisted Tavia, “didn’t we see them
in the gully?”

“Those wasn’t the guys,” answered Urania, “them was the other fellers’
pals. They didn’t know much about the game, they were just sneaking
around trying to get next.”

“Oh,” replied Tavia, vaguely, in a tone of voice that might have suited
the entire list of interjections with equal indifference.

“To proceed,” prompted Nat.

“Yes,” went on Dorothy, “we went to the hill and Urania showed me the
ice house where she told me the things were put by the men who had
taken them. She said her father knew they were there, but that he would
not touch them.”

“Dad’s no thief,” spoke up the gypsy girl, “but he’s no sneak either,
and he wants me to mind my own business. But I thought I could find
the stuff and wanted to get the things back to you--you had treated me
white, and I--I don’t go back on my friends.”

“Three cheers for Urania!” Nat exclaimed in a hoarse subdued yell, “and
three more cheers for her friends!”

When the “cheering” was over Dorothy again tried to tell her story.

“Where was I at?” she asked.

“At the cave,” replied Tavia, eager to hear the “real hold up,” part of
the play.

“Yes, Urania went in first and assured me it was all right. Then I went
in--and then--”

“Next!” called off Nat. “Now Urania it’s up to you! You’ve got her in
the cave now.”

“That’s right,” answered the gypsy girl, showing her enjoyment at the
little farce. “Yes, she went in and I stayed out. Next moment I sees
them guys over back of the big tree--!”

“Oh, do let me yell?” begged Tavia, “this is all going on without the
least bit of enthusiasm from the audience.”

“I’ll make you yell if you don’t keep still,” threatened Nat. “The
next person who interrupts this performance will be bounced from the
show--and I’m the official bouncer.”

“When I sees them over there,” went on Urania, “first I got
scared--thought it was Clem and Brown, the fellows who were put in the
‘jug’ (jail) this morning. But next thing I sees them better and I knew
it was the strangers. I just told Dorothy to lay low, and not to move
or come out for her life. Then I runs over to the big tree, waving my
hands like a ‘lune,’ making on I was giving the guys the tip. Wasn’t
that easy?”

“What?” asked Nat, “waving your hand like a lune?”

“Yep, and them fellers believing me. Skip! I told them. The cops is
in the cave! Run! ‘They’ve got the goods’ and if they didn’t take the
steer and start out just as you fired the guns.”

“And we were the ‘cops’ on the spot!” interrupted Nat. “What did I tell
you? If this doesn’t beat all the Wild West shows ever wild wested! The
Pretty Girl in the cave--The Kidnapper behind a tree! Then the handsome
young fellow (me) to the rescue. The tip of the gypsy maid! Tavia wants
to sneak. She is calmed by the handsome young fellow. Guns--Bang! Bang!
Bang! The Kidnapper--”

“Oh, ring off!” called Ned. “How many acts in that drama?”

“But isn’t it great? I’ll stage it for the boys next winter. They have
been looking for just such a winner--”

“Better get it copyrighted first,” suggested Ned. “Or some of the boys
might steal the pretty girl.”

“Now who is interrupting?” asked Tavia. “Where is the ‘bouncer’ this
time?”

“Bouncing!” replied Nat, suiting his words to queer antics that greatly
amused Urania.

“You have lots of fun--don’t you?” she ventured aside to Dorothy, while
a wistful look came into her dark face.

“Sometimes,” replied Dorothy kindly. “Don’t you ever have any fun?”

“Nope, fun ain’t for poor folks.”

“But where were you, Urania, when we were getting the things out of the
cave?” asked Tavia, determined to hear all of the story.

“Eatin’ water cress over by the big tree. I saw you was gettin’ along
all right, so I didn’t see any need to mix in.”

“Which reminds me,” said Dorothy, “that it must be lunch time. I’m
famished. Urania, you must stay to lunch. You have worked hard this
morning, and you are up since--”

“Since last night,” finished the girl, “I didn’t bother turnin’ in! I’m
goin’ to quit the camp--this time for good.”

“Well, let us eat first and quit after,” said Nat, as a maid appeared
on the porch to call them to luncheon. “Come along, Urania. You are
entitled to the best there is. Take plenty of it--you’re welcome.”

This was Nat’s kind way of putting the girl at her ease, and when the
others went into the dining room, Dorothy took Urania out into the
kitchen and told the cook to give her a good dinner for “she needed it.”

“I’ll see you after lunch, Urania,” said Dorothy, as she left the girl
smelling the savory dishes that were being served to her.

“All right, miss,” answered Urania, “I’m in a hurry to get away. Some
one might want me at the camp,” with a significant look, that meant she
might be called to explain her queer conduct of the early morning in
the swamp.



CHAPTER VII

A STRANGE GIRL


“Now that it’s all over, and we can think without a guide,” said
Dorothy, coming out from the luncheon table, “we really ought to
consider Urania--we ought to consult Aunt Winnie about her, and see
what would be best to do. She must not run away and be left out in the
world alone.”

“My sentiments exactly,” spoke up Ned, who had taken from the table a
few crackers just to show the pigeons he was glad to have them home
again. “Come along down to the ‘enclosure’ and when we have interviewed
the prodigals on their adventures in the wild west show that ‘busted’
up in a shooting match, then we may be able to ‘get cases’ on Urania. I
notice she had not yet found her way out of the kitchen.”

“The poor child was famished,” said Dorothy. “I never saw any one eat
with such relish.”

“The only real way to eat,” declared Ned. “I believe it would be a good
thing for us all to get starved once in a while--when cook is in good
humor.”

“Well, I feel better at any rate,” declared Nat. “It’s all very well
to travel with a show, but I do like to stop off long enough to get
acquainted with my digestive organs.”

“The proper caper,” agreed Tavia. “I now feel able to discuss anything
from girls to gullies.”

“Girls have it,” declared Nat. “Girls to the bat!”

“Now please don’t waste time,” cautioned Dorothy. “You know what a
sudden sort of affair Urania is. She is just as apt to disappear before
we have a chance to talk to her, as she is to come over to thank us for
her luncheon. I am making a study of her sort of sentiment--I believe
it is more solid and more sincere than any we can work up.”

“Hurrah!” called Nat. “Studying sentiment! That’s better than studying
French. Because sentiment we have always with us, and French only comes
around on the Exams. Dorothy, you are growing older every minute.”

“And you--”

“Handsomer,” he interrupted Tavia. “Tavia I know exactly how you regard
me, but don’t let’s give it away all at once.”

Thus thrown entirely off her guard Tavia had nothing better left to do
than to chase Nat down to the enclosure, where together they fed the
returned birds the crackers that Nat had pilfered from the lunch table.

“Dorothy,” began Tavia, handing out the last crumbs, “certainly is a--”

“Brick!” finished the young man, who had a most satisfactory way of
finishing things generally. “Yes, I agree with you. She certainly went
some in that cave. Jimminnie! But that was creepy!”

“I should say so! I nearly collapsed on the outside. And now she is
going to try to straighten Urania out.”

“And likely she’ll do it too. If I do say so Dorothy has made good use
of the fact that she is a first cousin to Nat White.”

“Of all the conceits!” cried Tavia, and then Dorothy and Ned appeared.

“I’ve been talking to Aunt Winnie,” began Dorothy, in her usual prompt
way, “and she thinks we really ought to do something for Urania. The
girl declares she will never go back to camp, and I really do believe
she has a notion of following us to Glenwood. You know her folks camped
in the mountains there last year.”

“Take her along, take her along,” spoke up Nat, foolishly, “the more
the merrier.”

“Not exactly,” objected Dorothy. “Urania would scarcely enjoy the
regime at Glenwood. But, all the same, there ought to be some place
where she would fit in.”

“And if there is no such place then we will make one,” went on Nat,
still half joking,--but he was the other half in downright earnest.

All this time John and the village constables were searching for the
runaway men, who were suspected of being the actual robbers, although
Urania declared they were not. It was true, as the gypsy girl said, the
men taken into custody were the men she had seen enter the cave, and
those who were seen later in the swamp were members of the same gang,
but were strangers to the cave and the hidden property. Just how Urania
came into possession of the facts was not altogether plain, but likely
her habit of sleeping under trees, at some distance from the tents,
made it possible for her to hear queer conversations, when all in the
dense wood was supposed to be wrapt in the mantle of night.

Her father took no part in the doings of the other gypsies, neither did
he know anything of the robbery, beyond that which was already public
gossip. When therefore he heard his daughter’s name mentioned so
conspicuously in the robbery talk, his wrath was intense, and his anger
almost dangerous.

The whole place was in a commotion, and it was well that Urania kept
away from the swamp and surrounding camp sites for the time being.



CHAPTER VIII

THE RUNAWAY


The excitement of the day had the effect of shortening the hours, and
night came before the young folks at the Cedars realized that the day
was done.

The matter of “doing something for Urania,” had been the all absorbing
topic during the evening meal, when the various plans talked of during
the day were brought up for final consideration.

Mrs. White agreed with Dorothy that the gypsy girl should be sent to
some school, and the boys, Nat and Ned, had formed the committee that
went to the camp to consult with the girl’s father about the matter.

As Urania had warned them, the trip was entirely unnecessary, for the
man seemed to care very little where Urania went.

Such was the report brought back by the “committee.”

But to find a school where Urania would be received was not an easy
task. Mrs. White, as well as Dorothy, had been telephoning to the city
offices during the afternoon, and as Nat said, they had landed one
school where girls would be taken in without reference, but they didn’t
find a place where they would undertake to train circus riders, and
Urania wanted a pony, she said, more than an education.

In fact the girl did not agree to go to school at all, in spite of all
the efforts the others were making “to fix her up.”

Dorothy and Tavia had told her all about the good times she would
have, and had even recalled some of the most exciting incidents that
had marked their own school days at Glenwood, but Urania was not
easily persuaded. Still, all the clothes that could be spared from
the wardrobes of Dorothy and Tavia were taken out, and as only a few
more days remained before the girls would start for Glenwood, it was
necessary to arrange Urania’s affairs as quickly as possible, so that
she would not be left behind when the others were not at the Cedars to
keep track of her.

That night Urania was to stay with John’s wife in her rooms over the
coach house. Dorothy brought her down to the house after supper, and
even gave her one of her own sleeping gowns, besides a comb and brush,
the first the poor girl had ever owned.

“And now good night,” said Dorothy, when she had settled the girl
comfortably, “in the morning you will be all ready to start for
Deerfield. Just think how lovely it will be to go to a real boarding
school.”

“Can I go out when I like?” asked Urania, anxiously.

“Why, of course,” replied Dorothy, “that is, you can when it is
recreation hour--time for play you know.”

“And I will have to sleep on a bed and eat off a table? You know I
never did eat off a table until I came to your house.”

“Oh, but you’ll soon get used to that,” Dorothy assured her, “and you
will like it much better than eating off the--ground. And surely it is
very nice to sleep on a good, soft bed.”

“It’s nice all right,” admitted the other, “but you see it’s different.
I don’t know as gypsies are like other folks about things. My own
mother lived in a house one time, but I never lived in a house.”

“But now you won’t be a gypsy any longer,” said Dorothy. “You are going
to be a nice girl, learn to read and write and then when you get
older, you can go to work and be just like other people.”

“Won’t be a gypsy any more?” asked Urania, evidently not pleased at the
thought.

“Well, I mean you will give up gypsy ways. But now I must go back to
the house. I’ll be up early to go with you. Mrs. White is going to
take us in the Fire Bird. I’ll have all your clothes ready. Be sure to
use plenty of soap and water in the morning,” finished Dorothy, as she
hurried off, well pleased that all arrangements were finally complete,
and that she had had the courage to give the gypsy girl her first
lessons in personal cleanliness.

And it was now time for every one to pack up and make ready to start
off for the new school term. The boys were to leave the following
afternoon, (Urania was to go her way directly after breakfast). Dorothy
and Tavia would leave the next day. Major Dale, and the boys, had not
returned to the Cedars, their trip being lengthened by a visit paid to
the old home in Dalton.

“And now,” said Nat, as late that night the little party gathered in
the dining room for a final “feed,” together, “when we get to Cadet
Hall and I start in to write business letters (with a sly wink at
Tavia) I hope they will be answered promptly by every one who is
honored by receiving one. I remember last year, momsey, you kept me
waiting two whole days for a little check--and you know a thing like
that puts a fellow out dreadfully.”

“But, my dear,” replied the mother, “you should manage your allowance
better. This year I will positively not advance a single dollar to
either of you.”

“Send checks ma, do,” put in Ned. “We ain’t fussy about the currency.”

“Now, we must not stay up too late,” added Mrs. White. “I wish we had
been able to let the Urania matter wait for a few days--it seems I have
quite an institution to clear out all at once, but since the Deerfield
school opens to-morrow, I think it will be best for her to be there on
time. I hope she will get along.”

“So do I,” spoke up Dorothy, with a promptness that signified anxiety
as to the question. “Urania is a queer girl, and has had her own way
always. It will be very different now, especially as Deerfield School
makes a specialty of taking in--odd girls.”

“She’s odd all right,” chimed in Ned, “and not so bad looking either. I
quite took to her in those new togs.”

“Yes,” answered Mrs. White smiling, “she did look well in that little
blue dress of Dorothy’s. Let us hope she will become the clothes as
they become her.”

With more small talk interrupted finally with a decided “Go to bed,”
from Mrs. White, the dining room was empty at last, and the prospective
scholars soon sleeping the sleep that blesses a well-filled day.

A rainy day dawned on the morrow--rainy and dreary as any day in early
fall could be.

Tavia and Dorothy saw the outlook from their window and added to the
misery such groans and moans as girls preparing for a long journey
might be pardoned for making under the circumstances.

“You needn’t care,” said Tavia to Dorothy. “There’s a good tight
shut-in box to the ‘Fire Bird,’ but I wanted to gather some wild flower
roots to take to Glenwood. Those ferns we brought back with us last
year just kept me alive in my ‘glumps,’ and I’m sure to have them bad
as ever when I get there this time.”

“I suppose you miss the boys,” said Dorothy, innocently. Then, seeing
the effect of her words, she tried in vain to make amends.

“I’m sure I miss them,” she hurried to add, “I am always homesick for a
week, but I have to get to work, and that’s the best cure I know of.”

“And it has exactly the opposite effect on me,” declared Tavia. “If I
didn’t have to get to work, I fancy school life would not be such a
bore.”

“But you manage to keep going. I suppose you and Ned Ebony will be as
thick as ever. And you and Nita Brandt will be as--”

“Thin as ever,” finished Tavia, “which means that we will run like
melted butter at ninety degrees. I never could get along with that
splinter.”

“Well, I hope Cologne will be there when we arrive. She always seems to
be the first bell--starts everything up,” continued Dorothy. “I’m going
to work hard this year. There are prizes, you remember.”

“Mine for the ‘booby,’” sighed Tavia. “I hate prizes. Always make
me think of putting your name on the church envelope. Kind of cheap
advertising.”

“Oh, I don’t feel that way about it,” objected Dorothy. “When one wins
a prize it is something to have a remembrance of the contest. That’s
the way I look at it.”

“Well, I always like to forget the contests,” insisted the obdurate
Tavia, “so I don’t mind not having the medal. But say! Isn’t it time
you went down? Urania was to start early. Don’t wait for me. I’m going
to take my time this morning. Last morning I’ll get time to take until
holidays.”

At this Dorothy ran lightly down the stairs, and with a word to Mrs.
White she hurried over to the coach house to make sure that Urania was
ready before she should stop for breakfast.

“I haven’t called the poor thing yet,” apologized John’s wife, Mary, as
Dorothy entered. “She looked that worried and played out I thought to
let her sleep until the last minute. I’ll help her to dress.”

Dorothy entered the little bedroom with the woman.

“She’s gone!” both exclaimed together.

“Ran away!” added Dorothy, as the unruffled bed told the tale.

“And we never heard her move!” declared the woman, in alarm. “How ever
did she get out?”

“After all our trouble!” moaned Dorothy. “Well, perhaps it is better to
happen now than when she got off there alone. I guess there’s no use
trying to make a lady of a gypsy girl,” she finished sadly. “But I did
hope Urania would amount to something.”

“As you say, miss, it’s better now,” put in the woman, “and like as not
she’s gone back to the camp.”

“Oh, no, I’m positive she did not intend to go back there. She really
meant to leave the gypsies, and I suppose she has carried out her plan.
You see, she had some money, and she’s not afraid to travel. Well, I
must go and tell Aunt Winnie. They will all be so disappointed!”

“I hope they won’t blame me,” said the woman, anxiously. “I didn’t
suppose she had to be watched, Miss Dorothy.”

“You are not in the least to blame, Mary. No matter how we watched her,
she could get away if she wanted to. Well, I hope she takes care of
herself.”

“She spoke right smart to me last night,” went on Mary. “She talked of
how good you had been to her, and she said she would make it right some
day. It’s a pity she has no one to guide her.”

As Dorothy said, the folks were disappointed when they heard of the
runaway, but Mrs. White made the best of the affair by declaring that
it was better for the girl to go away as she had done, than to have
made some trouble at the school--perhaps induced other girls to run off
with her.

That afternoon Ned and Nat left for Cadet Hall, and early the next
morning Dorothy and Tavia started off for Glenwood. Little did the
girls dream of under what peculiar circumstances they were to meet
Urania again.



CHAPTER IX

MIETTE


“Oh, have you seen her!” exclaimed Rose-Mary Markin.

“Sweet Ever-lean-er!” chimed in Edna Black.

“What’s so interesting about her?” asked little Nita Brandt, in her
most sarcastic tone.

“Why, don’t you know?” went on Edna, familiarly called Ned Ebony.

“I suppose because she’s French--”

“Not at all, my dear,” interrupted Ned. “It’s because she’s a real
little beauty. Here come Dorothy and Tavia, leave it to them.”

The girls were at Glenwood School--all over the place, as Tavia
expressed it. But the particular group in question happened to be
situated in the broad hall near the “coming in” door--these girls
always formed the reception committee on opening day.

“Oh,” moaned Dorothy, as she sank into a cushioned seat, “I’m dead and
buried--”

“And no insurance,” interrupted Tavia, following Dorothy’s move and
getting into some cushions for her own comfort.

“Mean trip?” asked Rose-Mary.

“Mean!” echoed Tavia, “we stopped at every telegraph pole and backed up
between each pair. Doro made out all right--she had a book. But poor
me! I just doubled up in a heap and now the heap is all doubled up in
me,” and she went through a series of “squirms,” calculated to get “out
of the heap.”

“We were just speaking of the new girl--Miette de--de--what is it?”
asked Cologne.

“Miette de Pain, likely,” said Adele Thomas.

“Miette de Luxe,” put in Lena Berg. “That’s my limit in French.”

“Well, she is de luxe, all right,” went on Cologne, “but I believe she
signs her name Miette de Pleau, a queer name, but Miette suits her
exactly, she is so tiny, like a crumb, surely.”

“Does Miette mean crumb?” lisped Nita Brandt.

“It does,” Cologne told her, “but it is also a pet name for Marie, used
in certain parts of France--see page 167--”

“Or see the angel herself,” interrupted Edna, as the new girl, at that
moment, entered the hall.

All eyes were instantly riveted on the stranger. Certainly she was a
“beauty,” with that rare type of face one might expect to meet only
between the pages of some art work.

And she was tiny--small in figure and small in height. Yet she held her
head so well, and her shoulders were thrown back in such an enviable
poise--no wonder the girls thought this little French girl well worth
discussing.

For a moment she stood there, her brown eyes glistening and her cheeks
aflame.

Dorothy stepped up to her.

“You are Miette, aren’t you?” she began kindly. “Come, let me introduce
you. This is Rose-Mary Markin, we call her Cologne; this is Nita
Brandt, this is Amy Brooks, this is Tavia Travers, and this is Edna
Black, we call her Ned Ebony. You see,” went on Dorothy, as the new
girl finished her graceful bow, “we nick-name everybody. I am afraid
you will not escape.”

“I will not mind,” said Miette, smiling. “I have been called many names
at home.”

“You live in New York?” asked Cologne, attempting to get in the
conversation.

“At present, yes,” answered Miette, “but I have not been long in this
country.”

“Yet you speak English well,” remarked Ned.

“I had a very good English teacher at home,” went on the stranger,
“and my mother was an American.”

“Oh, then you are only some French,” spoke up Nita Brandt, with a look
that meant the other “some” was not of so high a social order.

Miette dropped her eyes. Dorothy glared at Nita. The others saw that
the remark had pained the new pupil.

“Come on,” spoke up Dorothy, “we must show you around. We are rather
lazy to-day--those of us who have been travelling, but as you came
yesterday I suppose you are quite rested, and would like to get
acquainted with everything. Come on, girls. Let’s see if we remember
how to make Glenwood tea.”

“Tea and turn out,” responded Tavia. “I’ll take the tea, but I never
cared for ‘turning out.’”

This sally seemed very funny to Miette, who laughed outright, and
in turn her laugh seemed very funny to the other girls. It was so
surprising to hear the peal of real live laughter ring out through the
place. Of course, all the pupils knew how to laugh, but somehow this
was different--and from the little stranger in her plain black dress
the outburst was entirely unexpected.

“She’s all right,” whispered Ned to Cologne, “any girl with a roar like
that is sound. Just see Nita titter, and listen to Lena giggle. Now,
they’re hopeless.”

The happy party were making their way to the room Dorothy and Tavia
used, numbered nineteen, when, passing the office, Mrs. Pangborn, the
president of Glenwood, called to Dorothy.

“Dorothy, will you step into the office, dear, for just a moment? Then
you may go with the others--I see they are looking for fun, somewhere.”

“Come along, Miette,” and Cologne hooked her arm into the black sleeve.
“No use waiting for the parson. You see, we call Dorothy Dale ‘Parson,’
because she’s a D. D.” she explained.

“O-h-h!” answered the French girl, in the inimitable “chromatic” voice
peculiar to her country.

Then they ran along--to room nineteen.

Meanwhile Mrs. Pangborn was talking to Dorothy.

“This little strange girl has had some sadness in her life lately,”
she said, “and I would like you to be especially kind to her, Dorothy.
I know you are always kind to new pupils,” the president hurried to
add, “but in this case I am most anxious that Miette shall not be
pained, and sometimes girls do not realize the small things that hurt
sensitive strangers. For instance, I would not like the girls to ask
Miette about her relations,” finished Mrs. Pangborn.

“I’ll do all I can,” promptly replied Dorothy, “but, as you say, Mrs.
Pangborn, girls do not realize how easily strangers may be offended,”
she finished, thinking of the pained look that had overspread Miette’s
face when Nita spoke of her parentage.

“Well, my dear, I know I can depend upon you. And should you discover
that any girl might take a seeming dislike--that is, disregard actual
courtesy--I should be obliged if you would report it to me. I must
see that this child is as happy as we can make her,” and at this Mrs.
Pangborn smiled pleasantly and Dorothy went out to join her companions.

“There is some mystery,” Dorothy told herself, “about the pretty little
Miette. I don’t relish playing spy, but, of course, as Mrs. Pangborn
says, she must be allowed to be happy.”

At room nineteen the girls were having the first fun of the season,
which meant that the fun should be of the very jolliest character.
Tavia had brewed the tea, and the others insisted upon drinking it
without ceremony, each declaring she was choked, and apologizing for
the lack of courtesy in not having waited for Dorothy, on the plea that
Nineteen’s teapot didn’t hold enough, anyhow, in spite of a “keg” of
hot water that was being drawn from for each cup, so that, according to
Ned, Tavia should make fresh tea for Dorothy, and incidentally pass it
around.

“My brand of tea is not for loafers,” declared Tavia, jokingly, “and I
refuse to open the bag until you girls have earned a treat. I expected
to have a regular affair Wednesday night.”

“Well, just give us a sample copy,” begged Ned. “You always did have
the very best tea--”

“Positively the most delicious,” put in Cologne.

“Without question the most aromatic--” added Molly Richards, while,
at a sly wink from Ned, Tavia was seized, placed on the divan, bound
with the big Bagdad cover, while the girls not engaged in keeping her
there, proceeded to get at Tavia’s cupboard, and not only did they get
the tea, but a box of bonbons, a box of crackers, and the choicest of
school girl dainties--a half dozen of real sour pickles!

Tavia only moaned. She could not move, and she knew it was useless to
argue.

Miette sat there in evident delight. She was still too timid to take
any other part in the proceedings.

“But, girls,” begged Dorothy, “you really ought to leave her the
pickles. We almost missed our train in getting them--”

“Oh, yes,” followed Tavia. “Take anything else. ‘Take, if you must,
this poor gray head, but spare my pickles, do,’ she said,” she quoted.

“But this is our last chance,” persisted Ned, burying her lips in
the largest green “cucumber” she could select from the bag. “Whew!”
and she made a very sour face, “these certainly would keep--they’re
briny enough. Perhaps you girls had better not take any,” and she
continued to devour the sample. “These would be lovely for a picnic.
I can’t see--why pickles,” and she paused for breath that seemed to
go with each swallow, “are eliminated from the bill of fare of this
establishment.”

“They are very bad for the teeth,” ventured Miette, “we do not eat them
in--France.”

“French people not eat pickles?” spoke up Nita, “why, I always
understood--”

“Not French people, but French girls,” corrected Dorothy, immediately
on the defensive. “Ned, when you have finished with your ‘dessert,’
perhaps you will hand around some of these crackers.”

“De-lighted!” responded Edna, swallowing the stem of her pickle. “But,
honest, Tavia, I never did taste or experience anything so deliciously
sour. I believe I’m embalmed,” and she doubled up in apprehension.

“Sour things I have known,” remarked Adele Thomas. “The new teacher,
Miss Bylow, for instance.”

“Oh, she certainly is the real thing in sours,” chimed in Amy Brooks.

“And what a name--Bylow. It ought to have been ByGeorge or Bygosh,”
declared Cologne. “Never ‘Bylow’ in hers. But we had best be cautious,”
with a finger on her lips, “I understand the new lady is scientific.
There’s a tube in the hall, you will remember, and she may have
attached some little old phonographic wax plate and be taking us ‘all
in.’”

“And she squints,” Nita informed them.

“That’s a mercy,” declared Edna, “for she won’t be able to tell whether
we’re winking or blinking. And sometimes it’s very convenient to wink
and call it a blink, eh, Tavia?”

As the refreshments had been served, Tavia was allowed to sit up and
have her own share, and now insisted upon Miette finishing the last of
the tea with her.

“The others were too--too, you would call it naughty, I suppose,
Miette,” she said, “but here when we are all alone we sometimes call a
thing like that ‘fresh,’” and she gave her very worst glare to Edna.

“Now, girls,” began Rose-Mary quite solemnly, “I’m going to invite you
to my Lair night after to-morrow. I’m going to have a little surprise.
All hands will be welcome, please bring--”

“Frappe smiles,” broke in Edna. “We ought to have something ‘frappe,’
and smiles are real nice at a party.”

“But the committee on initiation?” asked Tavia, “we may as well appoint
them this minute, while we are not ‘Bylowed.’ I move we expel Ned Ebony
from the committee. She was the ring leader in this daring hold-up.”

“Oh, you and your old pickle!” laughed Ned. “I’ll make that all right
when my box comes,” with a sly wink at Tavia, for Edna and Tavia were
great chums.

“If retribution does not overtake you before that time,” prophesied
Tavia.

“Or Bylow,” reminded Cologne. “I rather have a premonition concerning
the new teacher.”

“Mine’s worse than that,” declared Tavia. “It’s like a Banshee’s howl.”

“Well, we’ll have our ‘jinks,’ anyhow,” promised Edna, “and if she--”

“Butts in--pardon me, ladies,” and Tavia bowed profusely, “but when
I say ‘butts in’ I mean, of course, any other word in the English
language that may suit the case. Help yourselves.”

So the first afternoon at Glenwood had slipped by, and now the new
girls, as well as the old, realized they were away from home, and must
miss all the little fireside loves as well as the after-dinner nonsense
that youth is accustomed to indulge in among the dear ones at home.
At school it was very different. And the heroic efforts that so often
resulted in surprising ventures were really nothing more than brave
attempts to cover up these losses.

But would the new teacher regard the girls’ tricks from this viewpoint?



CHAPTER X

A RUMPUS


“Now, I must tell you girls,” began Dorothy, an afternoon later, when
the “committee” on initiation was in session, “you will have to be
gentle with Miette. She has only lately lost her mother, and she is
really in deep grief. Mrs. Pangborn asked me to tell you all this, so
when it comes Miette’s turn we will just ask her to do a few simple
things, and then let her enjoy watching the others.”

“Hum!” sniffed Nita, “I suppose she’s going to be the pet now.”

“No danger of her cutting you out any--with a few, at least,” retorted
Edna, who never had patience with Nita Brandt.

“It’s a great thing to be pretty,” fired back Nita.

“But very small to be jealous,” flung in Rose-Mary.

“Girls!” exclaimed Dorothy, “I am quite sure I never intended to make
this row. There is no need to quarrel. Mrs. Pangborn just asked me
to--”

“Snoop,” growled Nita, who was plainly looking for trouble.

“Not exactly,” replied Dorothy, the color mounting to her cheeks.

“Now, see here, Nita Brandt,” said Tavia sharply, “I won’t stand for
another word along that line. We all know perfectly well that Dorothy
Dale is no ‘snoop.’ She’s been here long enough to have her reputation
for squareness firmly established.”

“Three cheers for Dorothy!” called Cologne, and this was taken up by
most of the other girls.

But with Nita Brandt, Lena Berg took sides, as well as Amy Brooks. This
trio always “went together,” and could be depended upon to “stick to
each other” in all school “rows.”

The present agitation, however, really mattered little to Dorothy, but
the antagonism it was creating against Miette was what worried her.
Several times later in the session she attempted to appease Nita, but
the effort was met with prompt defiance. Certainly it was early in the
term for quarrels, but when a girl has her pride hurt, as Nita did, she
is apt to seek revenge.

“Poor little Miette,” thought Dorothy. “It will be hard to make her
happy if those girls try to make her unhappy. I wish Mrs. Pangborn had
given her to some one else.”

“Suppose we give up the initiation,” proposed Tavia to Dorothy, when
they sat talking the affair over alone that evening.

“I don’t think that would mend matters,” replied Dorothy, “for they
would keep up the trouble anyway, and perhaps do worse if they thought
we were afraid of them.”

“Then why don’t you just tell Mrs. Pangborn? She told you to,” went on
Tavia.

“But I do hate to tattle. Besides, they haven’t really done anything
wrong.”

“But just wait. That Nita is getting more lispy, and more sneaky every
day. I hate her.”

“Tavia!” exclaimed Dorothy. “Surely you don’t really hate anybody!”

“Then I _perfectly_ hate her, Doro. If you knew how she even tried to
make trouble for you last year, you wouldn’t take her part so quickly.”

“I’m not taking her part at all,” replied Dorothy. “I’m only trying to
take yours. You should not say you hate any one.”

“All right. I’ll just think it after this. But, all the same, I’d like
to initiate Nita Brandt over again. I think I would manage to get the
old pump in working order for the occasion.”

“Lucky for Nita she came early,” said Dorothy pleasantly. “But, now
don’t you think we had better turn out the light? We seem to have the
record for getting caught after dark, and you know about Miss Bylow.”

“Why not keep up our record?” teased Tavia. “Not such a bad thing to
come out unscratched as we have done through all past battles.”

“Well, if it’s all the same to you, I would rather withdraw. I’ve got
about all the rows on hand I feel capable of manipulating,” and at this
she touched the light button and left the room in darkness.

“S’long!” called Tavia out of the depths of her pillows. “I’m rather
surprised that your nerve should go back on you. If you need me in the
faction row, I am at your service,” and she, too, prepared to take the
sleep of the young and healthful.

But just across the hall in a very small room, eighteen by number,
little Miette lay with eyes wide open in the darkness. She was
beginning to feel that the wonderful joys of school girl life might
have their accompanying sorrows. Never, since her own dear mother had
last kissed her good-night, had Miette felt that life held any further
blessings for her, until she came to Glenwood. Then it seemed that the
happy young girls and their unlimited resources for fun-making, would
be something after all.

But now those other girls did not like her. She could see that plainly,
and feel it keenly, in spite of what might be said and done by those
who were kind and thoughtful.

“And what must I have done to so anger them?” she kept asking herself.
“Certainly I said not a word, nor did I do anything--They must be
strange, perhaps they know I--”

A shudder ran through the form that hid itself in the coverlets. “No,
how could they know that? No one knew it, not even the kind, gentle
Mrs. Pangborn!”

“And I might be so happy to forget it, too,” went on the girl’s
thoughts. “If only it would never come back, and I might stay at this
lovely place, even the rude girls would not worry me.”

Then she turned her eyes straight up in the darkness.

“Oh, Mother!” she breathed. “Hear Miette! Watch your Miette, and save
her!”

But the dreaded specter of her past experiences would come up and
haunt the child. She prayed and prayed, but somehow those girls in
their nonsense brought back to her a taunt--the wound was not new, it
was only deepened.

“But I must never tell,” she sighed, “not even dear, sweet Dorothy
Dale!”



CHAPTER XI

“GIRLS AND GIRLS”


A letter from the Cedars, that arrived the next morning, brought
strange news to Dorothy and Tavia. It was about Urania.

Mrs. White wrote that the police were looking for the gypsy girl, as
well as for the men who had robbed Birchland, and wanted the girl on a
charge of robbery!

“I cannot believe it true,” wrote Dorothy’s aunt, “but I imagine it may
be a part of the men’s revenge against Urania for giving us back our
silver and the birds. By the way, I have to tell you that four of the
pigeons died last week, and John declares they were poisoned!”

“There!” exclaimed Dorothy, who had been reading the letter aloud
to Tavia, “I know it is all those bad men. They have poisoned
our beautiful birds just for spite,” and she stopped to hide her
indignation, and to otherwise suppress her feelings.

“Let me read it?” asked Tavia, who was impatient to hear all of the
story. She took the missive and continued where Dorothy had stopped.

“They accuse Urania,” she read, “of breaking and entering a house on
the outskirts of Fernwood.”

“The idea!” interrupted Dorothy, “How could that little thing ‘break
and enter’?”

“Well, she might,” considered Tavia, “but I don’t believe she ever did.
But let’s hear it all.” Then she attempted to finish the letter again.

“The people of Ferndale are so wrought up over the affair they have had
all the gypsies expelled from this township,” read Tavia, “and if the
gypsies find Urania now I am afraid it will go hard with her, for they
blame her for all the trouble.

“There is no telling where she may turn up,” continued the missive, “so
keep your eyes and ears open, and let me know if there should be any
clue to her whereabouts around Glenwood.”

There were other news items of more or less importance--all about
Dorothy’s brothers, Joe and Roger, how well they got along at school,
and how grieved they were to find that Dorothy had left for Glenwood
before they had had a chance to see her again. Mrs. White went on to
say in the letter that Major Dale was much improved in health, and
that his trip during the summer had made “a new man of him.”

So the missive concluded, and after going over it again, Dorothy was
unable to find another word “between the lines.”

“Where can poor Urania be hiding?” she added, when at last she folded
up the precious letter from home and put it in her leather case. “I
do hope she will escape those cruel men. Oh, when I think of that
cave--but--”

“You are reminded that you should forget it,” interrupted Tavia. “Do
you know, Dorothy Dale, it is time for class?”

This announcement ended the discussion of affairs at the Cedars,
although Dorothy could not so easily disengage her thoughts from the
home scenes mentioned and suggested by the letter from Aunt Winnie.

Rose-Mary slipped up to her as they passed in to take their places.

“The ‘rowdies’ are up to some scheme,” she whispered, meaning by
“rowdies” the girls who usually succeeded in making trouble, the
present attack being aimed at Miette. “I heard them plotting last
night.”

There was neither time nor opportunity for reply, but what Dorothy
did not say with the glance she bestowed on Cologne was not at all
difficult to guess at. She had shot a challenging look out of her deep
blue eyes, such as she very seldom indulged in.

“She’ll stand pat for Miette, all right,” Cologne concluded within her
own mind, “and the others had best not be too sure of themselves.”

At class Miette looked very pale, and hardly raised her eyes from her
books. In fact, her chiseled features looked like marble in the deep,
black setting of her heavy hair.

“Poor child!” sighed Dorothy to herself, “I wonder what can be her
trouble? It is surely not all grief for her mother, for even that would
hardly deepen as the days go on, and she seemed actually jolly at
first.”

Miss Bylow had the English class. There was plainly an air of
expectancy in the school room. Miss Bylow was that angular sort of
a person one is accustomed to associate with real spectacles and
dark scowls. She wore her hair in a fashion that emphasized her
peculiarities of features, and a schoolgirl, turnover collar finished
the rather humorous effect.

“Valentine,” whispered Tavia to Edna.

“Bird,” muttered Edna in reply.

“Now, young ladies,” began the new teacher, as the class was opened,
“I have one absolute rule, the violation of which I never condone.
That is, in my class there shall be no notes passed. If a pupil must
send a message to a girl during study hour she may ask the privilege
of doing so. But under no circumstances will she write or pass a note
surreptitiously. One assisting another with such deception is equally
blamable. Now, you may go on with your work.”

This order fell upon the English class like a threat--how in the world
were the girls to get along without ever writing a note? There are
times when a girl feels something will happen if she cannot tell some
one about the joke she sees, the chance for some fun later, or ask some
one for the particular word that has deserted her and has to be found.

Never write a note in the English class? As well say, never whisper in
the ranks!

And at that very moment every girl in the room wanted to do that
very thing--write a note to another girl about the new rule, and
incidentally, about the new teacher!

But no one dared venture--not even Edna or Tavia, who hitherto had
little regard for “absolute rules.”

Miette sat two seats behind Nita Brandt, but Nita managed to sit so
that she could occasionally take a look at the little French girl.
Miette was very busy with her pad and pencil. She was plainly nervous,
and Nita could see from her half-turned-round position that the new
pupil was writing something without taking notes from her English book.
The class were all busy--all but Nita, and she kept her eyes over her
book and on the new pupil.

A slip of paper fluttered to the floor under Miette’s desk. Nita saw
it instantly, but Miette did not miss it, for she made no attempt
to rescue the fluttering slip of paper that actually caught up with
a slight breeze from an open window, and then stole along in the
direction of Nita Brandt’s desk!

The class gave their recitation and shortly that study period was over.

Then the girls filed out into the hall, for ten minutes’ recreation.

Nita lost her place in the ranks. She stopped a moment to pick up the
scrap of paper that had dropped from Miette’s desk. It took but a
moment to slip it into her book: then she joined the girls in the hall.

“Didn’t you sleep well?” asked Dorothy of Miette, as quickly as she
could get an opportunity.

“Not so very,” admitted the other, with a faint smile.

“Perhaps you are not used to being indoors--we have to do considerable
studying here.”

“Oh, but I like that very much,” replied the other, “but sometimes I
have headache.”

“Then you must go out all you can,” cautioned Dorothy, having noticed
that Miette was not with the class on the previous afternoon, when they
went for a delightful walk over the hills.

“Yes,” responded the stranger. “I love to walk, but yesterday I
had--some letters to write.”

Over in the corner Nita Brandt, Lena Berg and Amy Brooks were talking
with their heads very close together.

Then Nita was noticed to leave them and re-enter the classroom, where
Miss Bylow still remained.

“That means something,” said Cologne aside to Dorothy, “and this is the
time I forgot my handkerchief, and I must go back for it,” and with
this Rose-Mary hurried into the room where Nita had just entered.

Nita stopped half way to Miss Bylow’s desk.

“I’ve forgotten my handkerchief,” explained Rose-Mary, as the other
paused, and the teacher looked up for an explanation.

It took Cologne quite some time to search for the “missing” article.

Miss Bylow looked to Nita for her explanation. Nita was now forced to
go to the desk.

“I found this on the floor,” Rose-Mary heard her say in a low voice, as
she handed to the teacher a slip of paper.

Miss Bylow glanced at some written words.

“To whom does it belong?” she asked. Cologne felt obliged to make her
way out of the room, so she heard no more of the conversation. But she
noticed that all the recreation period had elapsed before Nita came out
of the classroom.

“That’s queer,” Rose-Mary told herself, “but I’d like to wager the note
has to do either with Dorothy or Miette. Strange that the very nicest
girls always are picked out for trouble. I must see Dorothy before the
initiation to-night.”



CHAPTER XII

A GIRL’S MEAN ACT


“There is only one thing to be done,” said Rose-Mary, when early that
same evening she managed to get a word alone with Dorothy, “we must
call off the ‘jinks.’ If we don’t they will simply fall upon poor
little Miette, and land knows, she looks as if a straw would knock her
over now.”

“But that would be acknowledging our fear,” protested Dorothy. “I think
we had better go on with it and defy them.”

“But suppose Nita should be chosen by the ‘Pills’ as moderator? No
telling how she would treat our candidate.” By “Pills” she meant the
Pilgrims, their secret society.

“But you are to be Chief for the Nicks, and you can offset anything
they may attempt,” answered Dorothy, meaning by “Nicks” the
Knickerbockers, another society.

“Well, if you think so, of course,” agreed Cologne, “I’m willing to go
on with it, but it looks risky.”

“I’ll run over and speak to Miette,” went on Dorothy, “we have barely
time to get ready. You are awfully good, Cologne, to be so anxious. I
am sure it will come out all right. We can only try, at any rate.”

Later, when the two Glenwood clubs, the Knickerbockers, or “Nicks,”
representing the faction from New York way, and the Pilgrims, or
“Pills” standing for the New England girls, met in the Assembly room to
have the annual initiation of new pupils into the clubs, the candidates
included Miette de Pleau.

She, like the others to be initiated, were hidden in a corner all under
one sheet, and the first “number of the programme” was The Sheet Test.
This was not funny, but, according to the committee that had designed
the feature, it was “tragic.”

There were four girls under the sheet. Each “head” was marked with a
red cross, and the idea was that the sheet should remain absolutely
still during the period of five minutes. Now, as the girls under the
cover were on their knees, and in a bent posture, that “act” was not so
easily carried out. Should a head move, of course, the committee could
tell to whom the offending member belonged by the particular cross that
stirred.

Miette happened to be the shortest of all four candidates, and so she
had some advantage. The other girls were Wanda Volk, a jolly German
“machen,” Lily Sayre, a “real aristocrat,” according to Glenwood
opinion, and Minna Brown, “the blackest Brown that ever happened,”
Tavia declared, for she had coal-black hair and eyes like “hot tar.”

The sheet test had also to be carried on while all sorts of things were
said against the candidates, in fun, of course.

To keep from laughing while Cologne discussed an imaginary visit to
Wanda Volk, telling of the most luxurious surroundings that schoolgirl
tongue could make words for, was not easy.

This was thought to be very simple, for Wanda was known to laugh every
time she met the letter “J” just because it stood for joke. But now
Wanda did not titter, neither did she giggle; in fact, she seemed to be
“praying” under the sheet. Finally Tavia, as Ranger, called out:

“The Chief has raised her finger!”

At this Wanda moved, then trembled, and finally broke into a lively
laugh, and had to be led in “disgrace” from her corner.

“The idea,” she exclaimed, as she laughed louder and louder, “of
thinking I must laugh every time one raises her finger.”

“Well, didn’t you?” asked the Ranger, as she led Wanda off captive.

All sorts of tricks were resorted to with the intention of making the
other girls follow Wanda, but they remained firm, and the sheet test as
a “curtain raiser” was considered a failure.

The leaders of both clubs who had the candidates in hand, wore masks
and long black gowns. These gowns had served many purposes at Glenwood,
and were an important part of the girls’ private paraphernalia.

When the candidates were given a first view of the leaders (after
being allowed to come from under the sheet), it seemed to Miette she
had never beheld anything so strangely funny, and she laughed heartily
enough when the penalty for laughing was “raised.” But she was not
allowed to speak to the others, and she soon became serious, wondering
what was to happen next.

“Number four,” called the Ranger, “make love to the sofa cushion!”

Miette was number four. She looked up inquiringly.

“How?” she asked timidly.

“As they do it in France,” replied the leader.

“But I do not know,” she faltered.

“You must guess,” commanded the one behind the mask.

“In France,” began Miette, “they do not make love at all, I believe.”

This brought forth all kinds of calls and suggestions. Finally, Nita,
for it was she who was leading this number, said in a strained voice:

“Tell us what they do--how do they get acquainted?”

There was a hum of excitement as Miette stood up and faced the audience.

“In France,” she began, “when it is time for a young lady to marry,
her parents make it known to her friends. Then, if some young man also
wishes to marry, he has told his friends. After that the young lady
is taken out by her chaperon, or maid, or perhaps her mother, and the
young man is told that at a certain hour he may see her pass some place
mutually agreed upon. She ‘knows _he_ is looking, but she does not look
at him.’”

“Oh, her opinion doesn’t count,” interrupted some one.

“Silence!” called the Ranger. “Proceed.”

“Of course,” continued Miette, who was plainly much embarrassed, “I do
not exactly know.”

“Just make a guess,” commanded the leader.

“After that, should the young man approve of the young lady, they meet
at a dinner or some function.”

“Is that all?” queried Nita, for the audience seemed quite interested
in the recital which had turned from a matter of nonsense into French
customs.

“Well, I suppose after a month or two--they marry!” finished Miette,
much relieved to have gotten off so easily.

“And that is French love-making?” exclaimed one of the committee. “See
a man, go to a dinner, then become engaged and marry in a few months! I
call that--something better than our boasted rush. America is not the
only place in the world where the big wheel moves past the speed limit,
then.”

“We are getting along without trouble,” whispered Dorothy to Tavia, “I
am glad we did not stop the fun.”

“Not out of the woods yet,” Tavia replied in an undertone. “Just like
Nita to put some one else up to do the mean part.”

“But that ought to be enough for Miette. She told quite a story.”

“It ought to be, but that rests with the committee. However, no need
to look for trouble,” and then the two directed their attention to the
programme.

Minna Brown and Lily Sayre were next called upon. They were ordered to
play tennis with tooth picks and putty balls. This caused no end of
merriment, but as the candidates were not allowed to join in the laugh,
every time either girl did so, she was obliged to get down on the floor
and “wipe off her smile.” Minna had many smiles to wipe off, for she
was a jolly girl and laughing was as natural to her as was breathing.

It certainly was funny to see the girls stand there on the chalk-lined
floor and try to hit the putty balls with tooth picks. Of course,
it was all “Love,” although Lily Sayre did manage to strike a ball,
whether with her finger or the tooth pick, no one could tell.

After five minutes of this nonsense the “Ladies’ Single” was called
off, and then it came time for Miette and Wanda to do their last “turn.”

“Number four!” called the leader, who was Adele Thomas.

Miette stepped up to the “throne.”

“Now,” began the mask, “you understand you are to answer truthfully
every question?”

Miette assented.

“Did number four write a note in the English class the other day when
the rule had been made against notes?”

“No!” replied Miette unhesitatingly.

The leader turned to Nita for prompting. Then she asked:

“Did number four drop a note in the classroom?”

“N-o-!” came the answer again, this time in a startled voice.

More prompting from Nita.

“Does number four know any one in New York named--Marie Bloise?”

“Marie Bloise!” Miette almost shouted. She put her white hand to her
head, as if trying to think. Then suddenly she exclaimed:

“Lost a note? Yes, to Marie? Oh, where--where--Why did you not give it
to me? Where is it? I must have it at once! My note to Marie! Oh, you
could not be so cruel!” and with her hands to her face, she turned and
rushed from the room as if ready to collapse from stifled emotion!



CHAPTER XIII

THE TROUBLES OF MIETTE


Dorothy and Rose-Mary followed Miette, leaving the others in
consternation.

“How dare you do such a thing, Nita Brandt?” exclaimed Tavia, as masks
and gowns were immediately discarded.

“Do what?” asked Nita, her face blazing, and her voice trembling.

“Pry into that girl’s affairs. You were told as well as the rest of
us that we were to be most careful of her feelings. She does not
understand American boarding schools,” said Tavia, with a sarcastic
emphasis on the “boarding schools.”

“Is she any better than the rest of us?” fired back Nita.

“Better than some of us, surely,” fought Tavia.

“If you mean that for me, Miss Octavia Travers,” flamed up Nita, “I
shall demand an apology. My family record cannot be questioned.”

“I said nothing about your family, I was talking about you. And if you
demand an apology, I guess you’ll have to take it out in demanding.”

“We shall see about that. Miss Bylow will be able to settle this.”

“Miss Bylow, indeed! Since when did she become head of Glenwood?
Oh, I see. You have taken her into your confidence. Perhaps you
have--exactly! I see it as clearly as if I had been there. Miette lost
a note and you gave it to Miss Bylow!”

At this direct accusation Nita turned scarlet.

A chorus of “Ohs!” went up from the others.

“You didn’t really do that?” asked Edna Black.

“This is not an investigating committee,” Nita found words to say. “And
I can’t see that what I may do is any of your business,” and at this
she, too, fled from the room.

Meanwhile Dorothy and Rose-Mary were doing their best to console
Miette, who lay on her bed weeping bitterly.

“But I was not to tell any one,” she wailed, “and I should not have
written to Marie. But Marie was so good, and I thought she ought
to know. But now--oh, you cannot understand!” and she wept again,
bewailing the lost note.

“I am sure,” insisted Dorothy, “It cannot do so much harm as you
think, Miette. I will see Mrs. Pangborn myself--”

“Oh, please do not do that. Mrs. Pangborn was not to know,” sobbed the
girl on the bed.

Neither Dorothy nor her chum knew what to say now. It was all very
mysterious, and Dorothy wished ardently she had taken her friend’s
advice and not gone in for the initiation.

But it was too late for regrets--it was time for action.

“Could you tell me in what way I could help you?” asked Dorothy, very
gently.

“I can see no way. And, oh, I was so happy until that awful girl--Yes,
it was she who did it all! She hates me! But why? What have I done?”
and the little French girl continued to cry.

“Now, I’m going to get you a cup of chocolate,” said practical
Rose-Mary, “and when you feel stronger you will see things in a
different light.”

Then Dorothy was left alone with Miette. The girl pulled herself
together and sat up.

“I would so like to tell you,” she began, “but I have been forbidden.
Oh, if my own dear mother had not left me--” she sobbed, but tried
bravely to restrain her tears. “You see, it is nothing so very wrong,
only they--oh, I cannot tell you. I must do the best I can, and if I
have to go away--then I must go!”

“But you have done nothing wrong?” ventured Dorothy. “Why should you
have to go away?”

“That is what I cannot tell you,” sighed Miette, and then Cologne
entered with the tray and chocolate.

“Now, doesn’t this smell good?” she asked, putting the tray on Miette’s
stand. “I’m just choked myself. I always hate initiation night. I just
think we ought to stop them. Seems to me girls have queer ideas of fun
lately,” declared Cologne.

It was only ten minutes until bed time, so the chocolate had to be
partaken of hurriedly.

“It does taste splendid,” approved Dorothy, as she sipped the steaming
beverage.

“I like it very much. You are so kind,” said Miette, as tears still
welled into her dark eyes.

“Glad you think I can make chocolate,” answered Rose-Mary. “Ned and
Tavia declare I’m too stingy with the stuff, and that I only let the
pot look at the sugar. That’s why I took the trouble to bring along
some squares. I usually keep that kind of sweetness for company.”

It was safe to guess that few of the Glenwood girls got to sleep on
time that night. There had been too much excitement at the initiation
to calm down immediately, besides, there was a prospect of more
trouble--and even trouble is not always unwelcome to boarding school
girls--those who are not actually concerned, of course.

The commotion continued during the day following. Miette did not appear
in the classroom, and there was much speculation as to just what had
happened after she left the Assembly Room.

Some of the girls refused to speak to Nita, while others were equally
disagreeable with Tavia. Dorothy and Rose-Mary kept their own counsel,
but a few of the girls did see Dorothy coming out of Mrs. Pangborn’s
office.

Certainly something had happened, or would happen, shortly, was the
prevailing opinion.

But while the pupils were all eagerness for developments the teachers
were weighing matters carefully. Mrs. Pangborn was a prudent woman, and
was never known to have to rescind an official action.

“But we must manage it,” she had told Dorothy in the morning interview.
“Of course it might have been better if you had acquainted me with the
fact that this antagonism had been shown, but I cannot blame you for
refraining from seeming unnecessary ‘tattling.’ However, I am very
glad you have come to me now. You must assure Miette that no harm has
been done, and I am sure I can adjust the matter for her. I think it
best I should not talk to her myself at present, as she might feel
called upon to give me the information she is so desirous of keeping
secret.”

Dorothy was greatly relieved that Mrs. Pangborn did not blame her, and
after the talk she felt that perhaps, as Mrs. Pangborn said, it would
be all satisfactorily settled for Miette.

But Miette continued to worry, and it was two days before she could be
induced to leave her room and go back to school work.

Dorothy was accustomed to helping those in difficulties. Her father,
the major, used to call her his little Captain, and even as a child
she went naturally to those who were in distress, and in a child’s
confident way, often brought comfort where those of experience failed
to give solace. This habit was the result of her early training, as
well as the consequence of a loving heart. Now Dorothy, as a young
girl, found the talent she had so successfully developed most useful,
and with the power she was well equipped, not only to carry her own
difficulties to some satisfactory termination, but to see deep down
into the heart of those unable to cope with their own trials, weaker
in character than Dorothy, and consequently more easily discouraged.

In little Miette, however, she found a strange problem. The child
seemed willing enough to confide her story to Dorothy, but was withheld
from doing so by some unknown reason. And not knowing the real
circumstances, Dorothy could do as little “in the dark” as a lawyer
might be expected to do when a client refuses confidence.

But in spite of this Dorothy felt that it was Miette who needed her
now, and Miette whom she must assist in some way, although the mystery
surrounding the little stranger seemed as deep to-day as it was the day
she entered Glenwood.

The note that Nita Brandt picked up from the floor in the class room
and gave to Miss Bylow was in the hands of Mrs. Pangborn, but that lady
had not thought of such a thing as reading the child’s scrawl. She
knew it was intended for some friend of Miette and no matter what the
contents might be she could see no necessity of reading it, as the note
was not to be sent away.

The transgression of which Miette was accused was that of having
written this note after, and _directly_ after, Miss Bylow had announced
that no notes were to be written in the class room.

Mrs. Pangborn had intended calling Miette to her office and charging
her with this complaint, made by Miss Bylow, when the unhappy ending
to the pranks on initiation night almost threw the child into nervous
prostration. This postponed the investigation.

So, as the matter rested only Nita Brandt, and perhaps Miss Bylow, knew
the contents of the disastrous note. If Dorothy only could know it she
felt she would be able to do something to “mend matters.” But how was
she to find out? She could not ask Nita Brandt, neither could she think
of asking Miss Bylow.

So Dorothy turned the matter over and over in her busy brain. Finally
she made a resolve: she would ask Miette.



CHAPTER XIV

DOROTHY TO THE RESCUE


The cloud that had so persistently floated over the head of Miette
since the girls of Nita’s clique showed their disapproval of the new
pupil, now seemed to have settled down upon her with a strange, sullen
gloom.

She attended her classes, recited her lessons, but beyond the mere
mechanical duties of school life she took no part in the world of girls
about her. Even Dorothy did not feel welcome in Miette’s room. The
little French girl wanted to be alone, that was painfully evident.

Neither had she received any letters. This fact struck Mrs. Pangborn
as strange, as usually the first week of the new term is marked by an
abundance of mail, concerning things forgotten, things too late to go
in with the packing, things that thoughtful mothers wished to remind
their daughters of lest some important health rule should be laid aside
in the school and so on; but to Miette no such message came. The
girl had come to Glenwood under rather strange arrangements, as only
an aunt who brought with her a line of introduction from a business
acquaintance of Mrs. Pangborn came with the new pupil.

But the girl was so eager to enter the school, and appeared so gentle
and refined that Mrs. Pangborn accepted the pupil upon the word of this
business friend in whom, however, she had unquestionable confidence.

So it happened that the president of Glenwood knew practically nothing
of Miette’s home life. This aunt, a Mrs. Huber, had told Mrs. Pangborn
of the recent death of Miette’s mother, and also that she had charge of
the girl and she wished her to try one term at Glenwood. Her tuition
was paid in advance, and so Miette stayed. But Mrs. Pangborn could
not help observing that no show of affection passed between the niece
and aunt at parting, but this she attributed to a possible foreign
conservatism or even to personal peculiarities.

But now Mrs. Pangborn began to wonder--wonder why the child should
make such a fuss over dropping a note in the class room. Wonder why
no letter came; wonder why Miette refused her confidence, and wonder
still why some of the girls had taken an unmistakable dislike to the
French girl.

Slow to act, but keen in her system of managing girls, Mrs. Pangborn
decided to wait,--at least for a few days longer.

In the meantime school work and school play continued. The tennis court
at Glenwood was one of the proud possessions of that institution, and
barely had the pupils of the fashionable boarding school assembled each
term, before a game would be arranged to test the effect of the very
latest possible advantages, in the way of fresh markings, and expert
rolling, as the proprietress of the Glenwood School believed in the
right sort of outdoor athletics for her pupils, and was always eager to
make such exercise as enjoyable as possible.

Tennis in early fall is surely delightful sport, and when Dorothy,
Rose-Mary, Edna and Tavia claimed the privilege of the first game the
event took on the importance usually characteristic of an “initial
performance.”

It was a perfect afternoon and “every seat was taken” which meant, of
course, that the rustic benches about the court were fully occupied by
the Glenwood girls, and the prospect of an interesting game had keyed
every young lady up to the very height of enthusiasm.

Rose-Mary was chosen server, and as she stood with her racket gripped
firmly ready to serve the ball, and incidentally put it out of the
reach of Tavia, who was her opponent, Dorothy and Rose-Mary being
partners and Tavia playing with Edna, she looked every inch an athlete.

To begin well was ever interpreted to mean “good luck” with the
Glenwoods, and when Rose-Mary delivered the ball and Tavia in her
anxiety to make a good return, vollied it back a shout for Rose-Mary’s
side went up from the lookers-on. But Edna was not to be disheartened.
In fact she was “in fine form,” according to popular opinion, and it
kept Dorothy and Rose-Mary “sprinting” about to keep up with her “hits.”

This determination and good playing on the part of Edna scored for her
side the first two points, but when Dorothy and Rose-Mary realized that
it was Edna’s skill and not the strong arm of Tavia they would have to
play against, the game immediately became so exciting that all four
girls went at it like experts. Dorothy had something of a reputation as
a “jumper,” and could “smash” a ball, just when the “smash” would be
needed to save the opponent victory.

Tavia’s pride was in her underhand stroke and with this ability she
would drive back the balls hard and fast when ever she got the chance.

The game had reached the most exciting point--tied at 40 (deuce) when
Dorothy jumped to make her famous “smash” and although she hit the ball
in the air she came down on a turned ankle--and dropped in a heap as if
her foot were either badly sprained or actually broken.

The play stopped immediately, and Dorothy was carried to a bench.

“Is it sprained, do you think?” inquired Tavia anxiously.

“Oh, I think--it’s broken,” replied the suffering girl, whose face
showed the agony she was enduring.

“We must carry her in,” cried Rose-Mary, and then as many girls as
could join hands in emergency cot fashion, supported Dorothy in a
practical first-aid-to-the-injured demonstration even carrying her
up the broad stone steps of the school building without allowing the
slightest jar to affect the painful ankle.

But the ankle was not sprained, neither was it broken, but a very
severe strain kept Dorothy off her feet for several days. She could
not even go to class, but had a visiting “tutor” in the person of Miss
Bylow, who came every morning and afternoon to hear Dorothy’s work, so
that Tavia declared when she would meet with an accident it would not
be of that nature--“no fun in being laid up with a sore ankle and hard
work complications,” was that girl’s verdict.

But the week wore by finally, and the ankle mended, so that only some
very sudden or severe test of the muscle brought back pain.

Miette’s troubles assumed a more serious aspect in Dorothy’s opinion,
as during the week when she was unable to be about among the girls,
hints had reached her of trifling but at the same annoying occurrences
to which the little French girl had been subjected.

So the very first day that Dorothy could leave her room, and attend
class, she determined to go straight to Miette, and use all her
persuasive powers to make the girl understand how much better it might
be for her to have a real confidant at Glenwood.

The day’s lessons were over, and the time was free for recreation.
Dorothy went at once to Miette’s room. She found the girl dark-browed
and almost forbidding, her foreign nature showing its power to
control, but not to hide, worry.

Miette was mending a dress but dropped her work as Dorothy entered.

“I came to take you for a walk,” began Dorothy pleasantly. “This is too
lovely an afternoon to remain in doors.”

“You are very kind,” answered Miette with unmistakable gratitude in her
voice, “but I am afraid I cannot go out. I must do my mending.”

“But it will likely rain to-morrow, and then you will be glad to have
mending to do. Besides, we have a little club we call the Wag-Tale
Club, and we meet once a month. When we do meet we all bring our
mending and allow our tongues to ‘wag,’ to our hearts’ content. It’s
quite jolly, and we often have races in mending articles when some one
else can match the holes. I would advise you to save up your mending
and come in with the Wags,” ventured Dorothy.

“I am afraid of clubs,” said Miette with a faint smile, “and besides, I
am sure my clothes are different now. I had pretty things when--mother
was--with me.”

“But now do come for a walk,” insisted Dorothy, anxious to change the
train of Miette’s thoughts. “We will go all alone, and the woods are
perfectly delightful in autumn. I can show you something you never see
in France, for I believe, the European countries have no such brilliant
autumn as we have here in America.”

“No, that is true,” assented Miette. “I have already noticed how
beautiful it is. Our leaves just seem to get tired and drop down
helpless and discouraged, but yours--yours put all their glory in their
last days, like some of our wonderful kings and queens of history.”

“Then do let me show you how wonderful the woods are just now,” pleaded
Dorothy, “for the next rain will bring down showers of our most
brilliant colors.”

The temptation was strong--Miette wanted to go out, she needed the
fresh fall air, and she needed Dorothy’s companionship. Why should she
not go? Surely she could trust Dorothy?

For a moment she hesitated, then rose from the low sewing chair.

“I believe I must go,” she said with a smile. “You tempt me so, and it
is so lovely outside. I will leave my work and be--lazy.”

“I knew you would come,” responded Dorothy with evident delight. “Just
slip on your sweater, and your Tam O’Shanter, for we won’t come back
until it is actually tea time.”

Passing through the corridor they encountered Edna and Tavia. Both
begged to be taken along, but Dorothy stoutly refused, and she carried
Miette off bodily, hiding behind trees along the forks in the path to
deceive the girls as to the route she was taking. Once outside of the
gates Dorothy and Miette were safe, the girls would not follow them now
although Edna and Tavia had threatened to do so--in fun of course.

Dorothy wanted to begin at once with her dreaded task--that of
unravelling the mystery. Miette was continually exclaiming over new
found wood beauties, and was perfectly delighted with the antics of
the red and gray squirrels. The pleasures had certainly restored her
long-lost good humor.

“And you never have any such beauties in France?” began Dorothy,
lightly.

“Nothing like this,” answered Miette, seizing a huge bunch of sumac
berries.

“And would you like to go back?” asked Dorothy.

“It is very nice here,” replied her companion, “but I do not at all
like New York.”

“Then you are not homesick at Glenwood?”

“Homesick?” she repeated in a shocked voice. “How could I be?”

“But you are unhappy--the girls have been so mean.”

“Because I was foolish--I should have been more careful.”

“About the note you mean?”

“Yes,” replied Miette.

“You won’t mind if I ask you something,” said Dorothy bravely, “because
you know I only do so to help you. I am continually having to do things
that may be misunderstood--but I hope you understand me.”

“Your motive is too plainly kind,” replied Miette, “I could not
possibly misunderstand a girl like you.”

“I am so glad you feel that way,” followed Dorothy. “I really felt
queer about speaking to you of the affair. But you see I have been at
Glenwood School several terms and I know most of the girls and have
some influence with them. If you could only tell me about it--I mean
the note--”

“Have you not heard? Did not that girl tell every one?” asked Miette,
in a scornful voice.

“Why no, of course not. Our girls are not babies,” replied Dorothy with
some feeling.

“I supposed it was all over the school--”

“I am positive that no one, not even Mrs. Pangborn to whom the note
was turned over--even she would not think of reading it.”

Miette gazed at Dorothy in utter astonishment. She seemed pleased as
well as bewildered.

“Then it is not so bad,” she faltered, “and perhaps I could get it
back?”

“You might, certainly,” responded Dorothy, “if you went directly to
Mrs. Pangborn and explained it all.”

“Oh, but I cannot explain it all,” demurred Miette. “That is just what
annoys me.”

Dorothy was disappointed but not discouraged. She determined to urge
the French girl further.

“Now, Miette,” she said in gentle but decided tones, “we will just
suppose this was my affair and not yours. I will place myself in your
place, and perhaps we may find some plan to overcome the difficulty in
that way. They do it in lawsuits, I believe,” she parenthesized, “and I
just love to try law tactics.”

The idea seemed to amuse Miette, and both girls soon found a
comfortable spot under a big chestnut tree, where Dorothy promptly
undertook to propound the “hypothetical question.”

“You see,” she began, “I wrote a note to a girl friend during class,
and after Miss Bylow had forbidden us to write notes in class--”

“But I did not do that!” interrupted Miette. “I wrote my note long
before study hour!”

“Did you really?” asked Dorothy in surprise. “Why then what have you
done wrong at all? It was only of writing during class time that you
have been accused.”

“Who has accused me of that?” demanded Miette, indignantly.

“Why,” stammered Dorothy. “I thought you knew--that is, I thought you
understood that Nita brought the note to--”

“I understood it not at all,” declared the French girl, much excited.
“Nobody told me and I cannot guess what such girls do.”

She had risen from her seat beside Dorothy, and stood before her now,
her cheeks aflame and her eyes sparkling. Dorothy thought she looked
wonderfully pretty, but she did not like her excited manner--the girl
seemed ready to go into hysterics.

She rubbed her hands together and shrugged her shoulders, just as she
did the night of the “crash” during the initiation.

“Now you must be calm,” suggested Dorothy. “You know we can never do
anything important when we are excited. Just sit down again and we will
talk it all over quietly.”

“There is not much to talk over,” declared Miette, dropping down beside
Dorothy. “I simply wrote a note to Marie--she worked in the store--”

She stopped as if she had bitten her tongue! Her cheeks burned more
scarlet than before. She glared at Dorothy as if the latter had
actually stolen her secret.

“There!” she exclaimed finally. “Now I have told it--now you know--”

“What harm can there be in my knowing that you wrote a note to a
girl who worked in a store?” asked Dorothy, whose turn it was to be
surprised. “Surely you are not too proud to have friends who work for a
living?”

“And would you not be?” replied Miette, a strange confidence stealing
into her manner.

“Indeed I would not!” declared Dorothy, in unmistakable tones. “Some of
my very best friends work.”

“And would you--like--me just as well if--I worked?”

“Why, certainly I should. It takes a clever girl to earn money.”

“Then--perhaps--I should tell you. But you see I have been forbidden--”

“You must not tell me anything now, Miette, that you might regret
after. I only want to help you, not to bring you into more trouble.”

“But if you knew it you could help me,” she said with sudden
determination. “You see in France if a girl works she is--_bourgeois_.”

“We have no such distinction of classes here,” replied Dorothy proudly.
“Of course, there are always rich and poor, proud and humble, but among
the cultured classes there is absolute respect for honest labor.”

“That sounds like a meeting,” remarked Miette with a smile. “I went to
a meeting with mother once, and a lady talked exactly like that.”

“Was she an American?” asked Dorothy, good humoredly.

“Yes. She belonged to a Woman’s Rights League.”

“I have read of them,” Dorothy said simply. “But we are drifting
from our subject, which is also the way they talk at meetings,” she
added with a smile. “You were saying I could help you if I knew all
the circumstances. And you have told me you did not write the note
during class. I am so glad to know that at least, for I can tell Mrs.
Pangborn--”

“If you think I should not go directly to her myself?”

“I do think that would be very much better,” quickly answered Dorothy.
“I am positive if you trust her you will never be sorry--but who is
that hiding over there? See! Behind the oak! We had better get to the
road, there might be tramps about.”

At this Miette and Dorothy hurried toward the road, but just as they
were about to reach the open path a boy deliberately jumped out from
the bushes, and stretched out his arms to bar their way!



CHAPTER XV

A QUEER TRAMP


For an instant the girls halted, then Dorothy attempted to go on.

“Let us pass,” she demanded. “What do you mean by this?”

“I mean to get some money,” said the boy, scowling. “I need it.”

“But we have none to give you. You can see we have only stepped--”

Dorothy stopped. Something about the boy startled her. Where had she
seen that face? How queerly the boy’s hair was cut!

At the same moment the boy started--he looked at Dorothy for an
instant, then turned and started to run through the brush.

“Oh, don’t run away,” called Dorothy after him. “I know you! Surely you
can trust me!”

The rustling in the leaves ceased--the runner stopped. Dorothy saw this
and hurried to add to her entreaties. “Do come over and let me talk to
you. I am glad I found you. You surely do need help.”

At this the boy again appeared on the path. What a forlorn creature!
Tattered clothes that never were intended for so small a form, a cap
that bent down the child’s ears, old rubbers tied on the feet for
shoes, and a face so dirty!

“Don’t say my name,” begged the boy, “you know they are after me.”

“But you need not fear us,” replied Dorothy, “we will help you all we
can. Come right along with me. I will see that you are not caught, and
that you get something to eat. Certainly you must be hungry.”

“Starved,” replied the other. “I have been living on stuff I picked up
all over--even in ash cans. I was afraid to ask for things lately.”

“You poor child,” exclaimed Dorothy. “Have you been in the woods long?”

“Since I heard they were after me.”

“Well, come. This is Miette, a great friend of mine,” Miette had been
watching in wondering silence, “she will keep our secret safe.”

They started off, the boy shuffling along after them. Dorothy could not
hide her pleasure--she was plainly glad to have come across this queer
boy, and he seemed glad, too, to have met Dorothy. Occasionally he
would ask a question as they walked along, but in answering those put
by Dorothy he seemed very cautious.

“This is Glenwood School,” she said, as the big brown building on the
hill rose up before them.

“I--I can’t go there,” objected the child.

“Only to the basement,” Dorothy replied, “I will have you cared
for without bringing you where the pupils are. The president, Mrs.
Pangborn, is a very kind woman, and when I tell her your story I am
sure she will help take care of you, until we can arrange something
else.”

Miette seemed speechless. What in the world could Dorothy be doing?
Dragging this dirty boy along, and talking as if he were an old friend?
Surely Dorothy Dale was a strange girl. Someone had told her that when
she came to Glenwood. Now she understood why.

At the gate they met Tavia and Edna. The two had been after hazel nuts
and were returning with hats full of the knotted green burs.

“’Lo there!” called Tavia, “want some hazels? Good mind not to give you
one, you were so stingy about your old walk.”

The boy lowered his head, and pulled the ragged cap down on his eyes.

“You need not be afraid of Tavia,” spoke up Dorothy, as Tavia came up
and stood staring at the strange boy.

“Well, of all things--” she began.

“No, not of all things,” interrupted Dorothy with a wink at Tavia. “You
see we found a hungry boy and are bringing him along to get something
to eat. He came near scaring us at first, but turned out more harmed
than harmful.”

Tavia looked from one to the other. Then she seemed to understand.

“Well, if he can get anything worth eating here,” she said, “I hope
he’ll be good enough to pass on the tip. I’m about famished myself, and
these nuts are too green for regular diet.”

“I’ve been eating them for days,” said the stranger, “but a change
would go good.”

Edna looked mystified. She saw that Dorothy acted queerly--to talk so
familiarly to a strange boy! But then Dorothy always tried to make
people feel comfortable, she reflected; perhaps this was the case at
present.

Further along they encountered other girls coming in from their
exercise. All cast wondering eyes at the group with Dorothy, but the
questions asked were answered vaguely--without really imparting any
information, concerning the strange boy. Some of the girls were
inclined to sneer, of course, but when Tavia fell back and whispered
that the poor boy was almost starved, and the girls should not make fun
of him, even Nita Brandt looked on with pity.

“We’ll go around the kitchen way,” said Dorothy to the stranger, as
they reached the building. “We’ll see you later girls,” she told Tavia
and Miette, “but this is a good time to talk to the cook.”

Miette had almost forgotten her own troubles, so absorbed was she in
the plight of the poor boy.

“He ran out and tried to frighten us,” she told Tavia. “At first we
were very much afraid. But Dorothy called to him--she seemed to know
him--”

“Oh, Dorothy knows most every poor person around here,” interrupted
Tavia. “I shouldn’t like to have to keep up her charity list.”

“Indeed she is a very kind girl,” Miette hastened to add. “I should
call her a wonderful girl.”

“Sometimes she is,” admitted Tavia, “but once she gets on your track
you might as well give up, she is a born detective. I don’t mean that
against her,” Tavia said quickly, noting the look that came into
Miette’s face, and realizing that the French girl was not accustomed
to her sort of jokes. “But one time I had a secret--or I thought I had
one. But when Dorothy Dale scented it I was a goner--she had me ‘dead
to rights’ before I knew whether it was my secret or hers.”

This brought a smile to Miette’s eyes and lips, and she tossed her head
back defiantly.

“Well she is welcome to all my secrets,” she said suddenly. “I think it
is very nice to have some one willing to share them.”

This remark surprised Tavia, but she did not look at Miette to question
the sincerity of her words.

“I hope we have something hot for tea,” said Tavia, as they entered
the hall. “I am starved for a good hot feed of indigestible buns or
biscuits,--or even muffins would answer.”

“I am thankful if I have hot chocolate,” replied Miette, lightly.

“Hot chocolate,” repeated Tavia, “what an incorrigible you are on that
drink! I suppose that is why you have such lovely red cheeks.”

Miette blushed. Certainly she did have “lovely red cheeks.”

“And your walk has done you so much good,” added Tavia. “Nothing like
Dorothy Dale and fresh air to cure the blues. You should repeat the
dose--every day. It’s a great thing for the nerves.”

“I agree with you,” said Miette, smiling with more reality than she had
been noticed to assume since her very first day at Glenwood. “I think
your autumn air would cure almost anything,” she finished.

“Except poverty,” joked Tavia. “It never puts a single cent in my
purse, much as I coax and beg. I have even left my pocketbook wide open
on the low bough of a tree all night, and in the morning went to find I
was slighted by the woodland Santa Claus. And lots of girls had passed
and looked deep down into that poor pocketbook’s sad, empty heart.”

“And so you got nothing?” asked Miette, laughing.

“Oh, yes, I got a poor scared treetoad, and I’ve got him yet. If you
come over to room nineteen after tea I will show him to you. He is a
star treetoad, and I’m teaching him tricks.”

Miette thought Tavia the funniest girl--always joking and never seeming
to take anything--not even her lessons--seriously.

“I must wash up,” said Tavia, as they reached the turn in the corridor.
“And I’m so torn--I don’t believe it will pay to try to patch up. They
all match this way,” indicating the rents, one in her sleeve, one in
her blouse, and a series of network streaks in her stockings.

“You should wear boots when you go in the woods, your briars are so
affectionate.”

“But I have no boots,” answered Tavia, “except the big rubber kind I
use at home when I go a-water-cressing.”

At this moment a group of girls espied the nuts Tavia was carrying in
her Tam O’Shanter. With a most unlady-like whoop they descended upon
her, and almost instantly succeeded in scattering the nuts about the
hall.

“You thieves!” Tavia almost shouted. “I call that a mean hold-up--not
to give any warning. But here comes Miss Bylow. Now you may have the
old nuts, and you may also tell her how they came upon the floor,” and
at this Tavia, more pleased than offended, at the turn the incident
had taken, hurried off, leaving the surprised girls to explain to Miss
Bylow.

“Why, young ladies!” the teacher exclaimed, shocked at their attitudes,
as well as perplexed at the sight of the scattered nuts. “You surely
were not bringing such things to your rooms? You would not think of
eating that green stuff!”

“Oh, no,” replied Rose-Mary, “We were only gathering them for Hallow
E’en. They make a lovely blaze in the Assembly hearth when they’re dry.”

“Oh,” replied the teacher. “But how came they to be all scattered--”

“We ran into Tavia,” answered Cologne, truthfully enough, “and she had
them in her Tam.”

“Well, see that they are all picked up,” ordered the much-disliked
teacher, “and say to Miss Travers that she is to put them in the
storeroom--not in her own room.”

“Huh!” sneered Rose-Mary with a comical face, as Miss Bylow turned away.

“Also ha!” added Adele Thomas, who was on her knees picking up the nuts.

“I’d like to throw this at her,” said Ned, holding up a particularly
large bunch of the green, fringy nuts.

“Dare you,” came a chorus.

“She’s just under the stair,” whispered Lena Berg. “Drop it down,
heavy.”

The temptation was too great. Edna slipped over to the rail, took aim,
and let the bunch of green burs go!



CHAPTER XVI

SURPRISES


“We’ll be caught!”

“Run! Run!”

“It will do no good,” said Rose-Mary. “Miss Bylow knows we had the
burrs.”

This statement was true, and the girls in the upper hallway looked at
each other in consternation. Then one of them, quick of wit, leaned
over the railing.

“Oh, Miss Bylow,” she said. “Did that hit you? How provoking!”

“Very!” cried the teacher tartly. She was about to say more, when
somebody called her from a rear door. She hesitated, then walked away
to answer the summons.

“What an escape!” breathed Edna.

“The next time, think before you throw,” said Rose-Mary.

“Indeed, I will,” was the quick reply. And then, as the crowd passed
on, Edna continued: “But where in the world is Dorothy? I haven’t seen
her since she came along dragging that dirty youth into the sacred
precincts of Glen.”

“Hush!” ordered Wanda Volk, “that was the first boy I have seen since I
came here. Don’t scare him off the premises.”

“Don’t!” followed in the usual girlish chorus.

“But I was talking of Dorothy,” continued Edna.

“She was at the tea table,” Cologne remarked.

“But left before jelly,” added Adele Thomas.

“And Tavia ate her share,” Lena Berg declared.

“I suppose,” went on Rose-Mary, “Dorothy is about this moment trimming
the hair of her hero. Did you notice the cut?”

“Notice it!” shrieked Ned. “Why, it called to us--wouldn’t let us pass.
That cut is termed ‘Christy,’ after the man who discovered maps.”

The girls had congregated in the alcove of the upper hall. It was a
pleasant fall evening and some proposed a game of “hide and seek” out
of doors.

This old-fashioned game was always a favorite pastime with the Glenwood
girls, and as the grounds afforded ample opportunity for discoveries
and hiding places, “hide and seek” ever had the preference over other
games as an after-tea amusement.

Promptly as the word had been passed along, the girls raced to the
campus, and were soon engrossed in the sport.

But Dorothy and Tavia were not with their companions. Instead, they
were walking with the strange boy along the quiet path, that was
separated from the school grounds by a row of close cedars. Dorothy was
urging, and so was Tavia.

“But if you go away from here, and out into the woods again,” said
Dorothy, “you will run a greater risk. Why not stay around, and help
with the outside work, as Mrs. Pangborn had proposed, until we can hear
from Aunt Winnie. Then, if everything is all right, you could go back
to the--”

“I’ll never go back!” interrupted the boy. “I would starve first.”

“No need to starve,” said Tavia. “Surely, with Dorothy anxious to help
you, you ought to listen and be reasonable.”

“Yes, I know that,” assented the boy, “but if you had to run and sneak
the way I have been doing, for the past two weeks, you wouldn’t--feel
so gay, either.”

“I know how you must feel,” answered Tavia, “but you see, we are right.
The only thing for you to do is to go back and have it all cleared up.”

“Perhaps,” said Dorothy, “I could go with you.”

“Then I wouldn’t be afraid,” promptly answered the stranger. “I know
you would see that I had fair play.”

“Good idea,” exclaimed Tavia. “Dorothy could do a lot with the people
out there. And everyone knows Mrs. White.”

“In the meantime I will have to wait to see what Aunt Winnie says,”
remarked Dorothy.

“Then I’m to stay at the garden house to-night?” asked the boy.

“Yes, and in the morning put on the things I have brought down there
for you. You can help the gardener’s wife around the house, and come up
to the grounds to see us about ten o’clock. We will come out here where
we can talk quietly.”

It was quite dusk now, and the game of “hide and seek” was over. Tavia
and Dorothy walked down towards the garden house, then said good-night
to the stranger, and hurried back, to be in with the others.

“What a queer thing?” remarked Tavia, all excitement from the meeting.

“I thought so, too, when I was ‘held up’ in the woods,” replied
Dorothy. “But, after all, it was a very lucky meeting.”

“And I think Miette looks so much better--she was quite cheerful when
she came in,” went on Tavia.

“Yes, I found out that she never wrote the note in the classroom, and I
mean to tell Mrs. Pangborn so, first thing in the morning. Miette was
willing to go to her, herself, but I think it may be best for me to
speak to Mrs. Pangborn first.”

“What on earth would Glenwood girls do without you?” asked Tavia,
laughing. “You are a regular adjustment bureau.”

“Some one has to do it,” replied Dorothy simply.

“Why don’t you let them, then?” asked Tavia, just to tease her friend.

“A natural inclination to meddle,” remarked Dorothy, “keeps me going. I
suppose I really should not monopolize the interesting work.”

“Oh, you’re welcome. I don’t happen to know any one who objects.”

But the work with which Dorothy was at present engaged was not so
simple as she would have her friend believe.

In the first place, Miette’s troubles were not at all easy to handle.
The girl was naturally secretive, and with the obligation of keeping
her affairs entirely to herself (as she had explained to Dorothy those
were her orders from someone) it was a difficult matter to understand
just why she should “go to pieces” over the small happening of having
lost a note.

Now Dorothy had at least found out that the note was not written
contrary to school orders, so that would be one fact to Miette’s
credit, whatever else might remain to her discomfort in the actual loss
of the note.

Dorothy tried to think it out. She had a way of putting her brain to
work on important matters, and in this way she now went at the question
seriously.

To be alone she left her room and slipped down to the chapel, which was
deserted.

“I simply must think it out,” she told herself. “I must have some clear
explanation to offer Mrs. Pangborn.”

Then she went over it all, from beginning to end.

Miette had suddenly become almost hysterical over the announcement made
on initiation night. Then she tried to get back the note and found
Nita had handed it over to Miss Bylow. This added to her anxiety. She
declared she would have to leave Glenwood if the contents of the note
became known. Then Dorothy learned that the charge against Miette was a
mistake--that the note had been written before class time. But that was
as far as Dorothy’s investigation went. Miette hinted that her friend
was a working girl, but what could that matter? Dorothy had assured
Miette that many of her own friends belonged to the working class.

So Dorothy pondered. The chapel was silent, and an atmosphere of
devotion filled the pretty alcoved room.

“I will go directly to Mrs. Pangborn,” concluded Dorothy. “There is no
use of my trying to think it out further.”

But Dorothy had not reached the office when Miette came upon her in the
hall. She was excited and looking for Dorothy.

“Oh, do come to my room!” she begged. “I am in such trouble! I know
of no one to go to but you,” and she took Dorothy’s hand in her own
trembling palm, and drew her over to the room across the hall.

“I have had a letter,” began Miette, “from Marie--the girl the note
was written to. And now I must tell you--for I do not know what to do
myself.”

Miette looked into Dorothy’s eyes with a strange appealing expression.

“I will do all I can for you,” answered Dorothy, dropping into the
cushioned tete beside Miette.

“You know I lived with my aunt--that is, she was my father’s brother’s
wife, not my real aunt,” explained Miette, with careful discrimination.
“When I came to New York my uncle was at home, but he soon went away.
Then my aunt was not so kind, and I--had to go to work!”

Miette said this as if she had disclosed some awful secret.

“What harm was it to go to work?” Dorothy could not help inquiring
abruptly.

“Harm!” repeated Miette, “When my mother was not poor, and she
sent me to my uncle to be educated? They must have used my money,
and--and--Don’t you see?” asked Miette, vaguely.

“But why, then, did they send you to Glenwood?” asked Dorothy, still
puzzled.

“Perhaps to--get rid of me,” answered Miette. “That is what I wanted to
talk to you about. I have written two letters and received no answer.
Now, Marie, the girl who worked in the store with me, has written that
my aunt is no longer living in the brick house.”

“She may have moved--that would not have to mean that she has--gone
away.”

“Oh, but I am sure,” replied Miette, still agitated. “First my uncle
goes, now she is gone, and they have left me alone!”

Dorothy was too surprised to answer at once. Miette seemed very much
excited, but not altogether distressed.

“Suppose we go together to Mrs. Pangborn?” suggested Dorothy, “she will
know exactly what to do.”

“If you think so,” replied Miette. “You see, I had to be so careful
about keeping the working part secret, for my aunt--said she would put
me in an institution if I ever told that. She said it was a disgrace,
and that I had to go to the store because I was--stupid, and did not
learn all the American ways at once. Now, I do not believe her, for I
got along well here, and the girls here are surely--refined.”

Dorothy thought this a very strange story--too strange for her to draw
reasonable conclusions from.

“Mrs. Pangborn is always in her office at this hour,” she told Miette.
“Come at once. We will feel better to have her motherly advice.”



CHAPTER XVII

DOROTHY’S COURAGE


Mrs. Pangborn listened first to Dorothy, and then to Miette. That the
little French girl had been abandoned by her relatives, as Miette
claimed, was hard to believe, but it was also a fact that Mrs. Pangborn
had received no reply to a letter she had written to the address of
Miette’s guardian. In her story all the wrongs that Miette had been
trying in the past so assiduously to hide were now poured out in a
frenzy of indignation. She declared her aunt had brought her out to
Glenwood “to get rid of her,” and that all her mother’s money had
been stolen by this relative. She repeated the wrong she was made to
endure while acting as “cash girl” in a New York department store, and
declared that “only for Marie, she would have died.”

“And now it is Dorothy who helps me,” finished the girl, “and if
she had not so insisted on being my friend I should have run right
away--why should I stay here now? Where shall I go after the term
is finished? I must at once let my own aunt in France know how these
people in America have treated me!”

“But, my dear,” counseled Mrs. Pangborn, “we must wait. You are not
at all sure that your aunt has gone away. And if she has, you need
not worry--we can take care of you nicely until some of your other
relatives come.”

“But my money!” wailed Miette, “they have it all!”

“Perhaps it is all safely put away for you,” replied Mrs. Pangborn.
“You must not be too quick to judge.”

“But they made me work, and I knew it was my money that bought all the
new things.”

“Well, my dear, you must try now to be calm, and we will attend to all
your troubles at once. I am sorry you did not trust me before--”

“But I dared not tell,” insisted Miette. “My aunt particularly said I
should go to some awful place if I told. And that is why I should not
have written the note to Marie. But I do so love Marie.”

When Miette left the office Dorothy stayed to speak alone with Mrs.
Pangborn.

“I would like,” said Dorothy, “to take a little trip down to North
Birchland. I need to see my aunt about--”

“The funny little boy,” interrupted the president of Glenwood. “Well,
I do think he is a queer chap, and only for your recommendation I
should be quite afraid to have him around Glenwood,” said Mrs. Pangborn
good-naturedly.

“Then you haven’t seen--”

“Oh, indeed, I have, but I must still call him a queer little chap,”
went on the president. “I think the disguise rather clever, but of
course it was dangerous.”

“And may I go to North Birchland?” asked Dorothy.

“If you think it necessary, of course,” replied Mrs. Pangborn, “but you
cannot afford to leave your school work unless it is necessary,” she
finished.

“I will make it up,” agreed Dorothy. “I feel I must talk to Aunt
Winnie. She will know exactly what is best to do.”

“I am sure I can depend upon you to do your best,” replied the
president.

“I suppose,” ventured Dorothy, “it would not be possible to take Miette
along? She has been almost ill, you know, and if she could do better
work after the change--”

“Oh, you dear little schemer!” said Mrs. Pangborn, smiling. “Here, you
have arranged it all. You are to carry Miette off to North Birchland,
and then you are to fix it up for the queer boy. Why, my dear, I do
not see why you take other people’s troubles so seriously,” and Mrs.
Pangborn gave her a reassuring glance. “But I must not forget,” she
hurried to add, “that it was I who imposed Miette’s worries upon you.”

“I am sure it was no trouble at all,” declared Dorothy, “and I love to
do what I can--”

“Exactly. It is a case of willing hands. Well, my dear, if you really
must go to North Birchland, I can’t see but the trip would serve
to--straighten out Miette. In fact, you will be near New York, and it
might be just possible that Mrs. White would be kind enough to make
some inquiries for me. It is really quite impossible for me to go to
New York at present.”

“I am sure she would be glad to,” answered Dorothy. “We always go to
New York when I am home.”

So the interview ended, and Dorothy found herself plunged deeper than
ever into the mysteries of others’ affairs.

“But no one else can just do it,” she argued to herself, “and surely I
can spare the time--I’ll work at night, if necessary, to make it up.”

The prospect of a trip to the Cedars was pleasant in itself to Dorothy,
and then to have Miette with her, to show her to Aunt Winnie, besides
being assured that no one could so wisely act in the case of lost
relatives as could Aunt Winnie--Dorothy could scarcely sleep that night
thinking of it all.

She simply told Tavia she was going to the Cedars “on business.”

“And why can’t I go?” demanded Tavia, always ready for a trip,
especially with her chum.

“Why, you have already got work to make up,” explained Dorothy, “and
how could you expect to leave now?”

“I’ve a mind to, anyway,” declared Tavia. “We are all going to strike
if that ‘Bylow--baby-bunting’ does not come to terms. She’s perfectly
hateful, and not a girl can get along with her.”

“I’ve managed to keep out of trouble,” remarked Dorothy abstractedly.

“Oh, you!” exclaimed Tavia, “you don’t go in for that kind of trouble
lately. But I notice you have plenty of other domestic brands.”

“Yes,” sighed Dorothy, “I have some--just now.”

“Well, I may as well sleep it off,” answered Tavia. “But I surely would
like a trip just now--to cut that ‘condition’ I have to make up. Seems
to me school days get harder every twenty-four hours,” and she turned
away, without any apparent worry, in spite of her declaration of “too
much to do.”

But Dorothy did not turn over to rest. Instead, she lay wide awake, the
“Hunter’s Moon” shining full in her window, and making queer pictures
on the light-tinted walls.

To take Miette--and to take Urania (for my readers must have guessed
that the “queer boy” was none other than the gypsy girl), now seemed
to Dorothy something more than a mere matter of going from Glenwood to
North Birchland. Miette would be no trouble, of course--but Urania?

A reward had been offered for the capture of the gypsy girl. And
country officers are “keen” where a cash reward is in question.
Certainly Urania would have to be disguised. She could not wear the old
torn boy’s clothes in which she had come to Glenwood--Dorothy could
not travel with her in that garb. She was too small to be dressed
as a woman--anyone could see that disguise, thought Dorothy. But one
thing seemed possible to do to work out the plan of getting into North
Birchland without detection. Urania must impersonate Tavia, she must
dress in Tavia’s clothes, and look as much as she could be made to look
like Tavia Travers.

That much settled, Dorothy bade the “Hunter’s Moon” good-night, and
passed from the realm of waking dreams into the depths of slumber
visions.

It was a very early morning call that Dorothy made at the room across
the hall with her news for Miette.

“You are to come to the Cedars with me,” Dorothy told the surprised
little French girl, “and perhaps Aunt Winnie will take us over to New
York.”

“Oh, how splendid!” exclaimed Miette, clapping her hands. “I may then
see Marie?”

“Well, I cannot tell, of course,” replied Dorothy, “but I always go to
New York when I am at the Cedars, and I am sure Aunt Winnie will want
to go,” she added, thinking of Mrs. Pangborn’s message to Mrs. White.
“Perhaps we will all go together.”

“It will be splendid,” declared Miette. “I can hardly do anything until
I am sure--about my aunt.”

“That is the reason Mrs. Pangborn has been so good and lets you have
the holiday,” said Dorothy. “I promised we would both work doubly hard
when we came back.”

“Indeed I will!” assented Miette. “But what time must we start?” she
asked, all eager for the journey.

“On the ten o’clock train. You see, I have to bring back with me the
other girl--she whom we found in the woods.”

“And she is a girl? I thought so. I saw her yesterday in girl’s
clothes--”

“We must not talk about that now,” interrupted Dorothy. “I have to do
a great deal for her before we start. And I am trembling lest Mrs.
Pangborn might change her mind--think it all too risky.”

At this Dorothy was gone, and Miette began to make ready for the trip.

And Dorothy was right--Mrs. Pangborn was apt to change her mind: in
fact, a call for Dorothy to come to the office directly after breakfast
confirmed her suspicion.

“I am almost afraid, Dorothy,” said the president of Glenwood, in the
after-breakfast interview, “that I was rather too hasty in agreeing
with you that you should take the trip to the Cedars. I would not mind
you going alone, or even taking Miette. But this gypsy girl--I don’t
quite like all that.”

“But, Mrs. Pangborn,” pleaded Dorothy, “I am perfectly safe. And if I
do not take her back I am afraid some officer may find her--”

“But if she is such an unruly girl--”

“Indeed, she is not,” declared Dorothy. “Urania has never done anything
really wrong. I have known her for a long time, and she has done
many good turns for us. I really feel that I can do this, and not be
detected, whereas anyone else might--spoil it all.”

“Well, my dear, I like your courage. And I also believe there are quite
as important things as book lessons in life for young girls to learn,
and helping their fellow creatures is certainly one of these. And,
besides, I would not like to disappoint you. So if you will promise to
follow my advice carefully, in regard to telegraphing either to your
aunt or to me at once, should you get into any difficulty, I will give
my permission.”

Dorothy willingly agreed to these conditions, and then Mrs. Pangborn
gave her a note for Mrs. White.

“This will explain all I can tell her about Miette’s affair,” said Mrs.
Pangborn, “and if she can possibly attend to it personally for me, I
shall be greatly obligated. I will be so glad to know about the child’s
relatives.”

Dorothy took the note, and thanking Mrs. Pangborn for the privileges
she had given her, hurried off to “fix up Urania.”



CHAPTER XVIII

TAVIA’S DOUBLE


“Come, hurry,” said Dorothy to Urania, as the gypsy girl gazed
in wonder at the new clothes she was to put on. They were in the
gardener’s little room, an apartment allowed Urania by the gardener’s
wife since her stay at Glenwood.

“You see,” explained Dorothy, “I must make you look as much like Tavia
as I can. If they should recognize you they might--”

“Take me away?” asked Urania, alarmed.

“Well, I guess they will not know you when we are all through,” said
Dorothy, brushing the tangled hair that had been chopped off in spots,
and rolled up with hairpins. “It’s lucky you did not cut all your
hair,” she added, “for by letting this down I can cover that which is
short.”

But it took considerable pinning and brushing to coax the black hair
over the bare spots.

“And now, let me show you--see, I can make your black hair brown--like
Tavia’s.”

At this Dorothy produced a “make-up box” (the one that Tavia had
saved after her experience before the footlights, as told in “Dorothy
Dale’s Great Secret”), and with a queer “puff” she began the process of
turning black hair into brown. Urania gazed into the little mirror like
one enchanted.

“I like that hair best,” she said, with undisguised admiration, “I
always hated black hair.”

“Well, you can try this shade to-day, at any rate,” answered Dorothy,
“but I do not think it would wear very well--just in powder.”

With deft fingers Dorothy patted the bronze powder all over the black
head.

“There,” she exclaimed finally, “who would ever know you now?”

“Not even Melea,” replied Urania, “I look--very nice.”

“But wait until you get Tavia’s red cheeks on,” Dorothy told her,
laughing. “Tavia has such lovely red cheeks.”

“Yes,” sighed the girl. “I wonder why gypsies never have any red
cheeks?”

“Probably because you all take after your own people,” Dorothy said.
“Now, don’t let me get this too near your eyes.”

The gardener’s wife, attracted by the conversation, now joined them
before the looking-glass.

“Well, I do de-clare!” she exclaimed. “If that is the same girl! Why,
Miss Dorothy, you are quite an artist!”

“Yes, I always loved painting,” answered Dorothy, putting a good dab on
Urania’s cheek. “There! I guess that will do.”

“Perfect!” declared the gardener’s wife. “I never saw anything better
outside of a--show.”

“Now for the clothes,” said Dorothy, hurrying on with her work. “We
must get the ten o’clock train, you know.”

Tavia’s pretty brown dress was then brought out. Over fresh underskirts
(a perfect delight to Urania), the gown was arranged on the gypsy girl.
It fit her “perfect” the gardener’s wife declared, and Dorothy was
pleased, too, that the clothes went on so nicely.

How wonderfully Urania was changed! And how pretty she really looked.

“Guess you ain’t used to good things,” said the gardener’s wife,
kindly. “It’s a pity you don’t give up the gypsy life and be like these
girls. See how becoming it all is?”

“Oh, yes, but they have money,” demurred the girl. “I am so poor!”

“But you need not always be poor,” Dorothy told her. “There are plenty
of chances for bright young girls to better themselves. But, of
course, they must go to school first.”

It was “school” that always halted Urania. She “drew the line at
school,” as Tavia expressed it.

Finally the shoes were on, and all was ready, even the big white summer
hat was placed on the “golden curls,” and certainly Urania looked like
Tavia!

“Let me get a good look at you out in the light,” said Dorothy, “for
make-up is a treacherous thing in daylight. No, I can’t see the paint,
and the powder sinks well into your hair. I think it is all right.
Here, you are to carry this bag--but put your gloves on!”

It was not time for class yet, and Dorothy called Tavia out to the side
porch.

Urania was smiling broadly. Tavia at first did not actually know her.
Then she recognized her own clothes.

“Oh, for--good--ness sake!” she gasped. “That isn’t Urania! Well, I
never--It’s too good. I’ve just got to go. I’m going to run away. I
can’t stay here in this old pokey hole and miss all that fun,” and she
pretended to cry, although it was plain she would not have to try very
hard to produce the genuine emotion.

“I hope it will all be fun,” reflected Dorothy, “but it does seem
risky--in spite. Can you tell her hair?” she asked Tavia.

“Never,” declared Tavia. “You make up so well--it’s a pity to waste
yourself on Glenwood.”

“I’m glad you think it’s all right,” replied Dorothy. “You know,
travelling in a train, with people right near you--”

“You might rub a touch of powder over the complexion,” suggested Tavia.
“I always did after I was all made up. Dear me!” she sighed, “it makes
me think of ‘better days.’”

“Better?” queried Dorothy, recalling all the trouble Tavia had
experienced when “made up” for her brief stage career.

“Well, perhaps not,” answered Tavia, “but different, at least.”

“Now, stay right here,” said Dorothy to Urania, “while I go and fetch
Miette. I hope she is all ready. It did take so long to get you done.”

“But she certainly is ‘done to a turn,’” remarked Tavia, walking
around the new girl in evident admiration. “I’d just like to call
Ned--wouldn’t she enjoy this?”

“But you must not,” objected Dorothy, as she started off for Miette.
“If you make any uproar we will all have to stay at Glenwood.”

Dorothy found Miette all ready--waiting for the carriage that was to
take them to the depot.

Dorothy hurried to the office to say good-bye to Mrs. Pangborn, and
after receiving more warnings, directions, and advice, she soon
“collected Miette and Urania,” and was seated with them in the depot
wagon, that rumbled at the usual “pace” of all boarding-school wagons
over the hills of Glenwood, down the steep turn that led to the little
stone station, and at last reached the ticket office just as the ten
o’clock train whistled at the Mountain Junction.



CHAPTER XIX

THE CAPTURE


Once on the train, and out among strangers, Dorothy felt as if all eyes
were upon Urania. Was her disguise really good? Might some one know her
from the published descriptions, that had appeared in the newspaper
from North Birchland?

“Now, you must not talk aloud,” she whispered to Urania. “Someone might
suspect, and listen to our conversation.”

Of course, Miette was all excited over her own affair. Would she really
see Marie? she asked Dorothy, and when did Dorothy think her aunt would
take them to New York?

Dorothy found it difficult to take care of the two girls. She was
so anxious about Urania she could scarcely keep up with Miette’s
questions. Urania in turn settled down rather awkwardly in her new
outfit. She wanted to remove the big stiff hat, but Dorothy said she
should not. Then she insisted on taking off the thin silk gloves, and
Dorothy warned her to keep her hands well down in her lap, as they
were very brown, and rather “suspicious” looking.

A woman opposite attempted to get into conversation with Urania, but
Dorothy felt obliged to take the gypsy down the aisle for a drink of
water, in order to have a chance to tell her she positively must not
talk to strangers.

They had to change cars at another junction. Dorothy wanted to go out
of the train both first and last, but with human limitations she was
obliged to be content with leading the way for her two charges.

A wait of fifteen minutes in the little way station added to Dorothy’s
discomfort. Urania must not talk to the station agent--why did every
one speak to her? Was she too attractive?

The task Dorothy had undertaken now seemed more and more difficult.
If she only could get on the train for North Birchland safely! But
there would be one more change, at Beechville. There was a strange man
waiting in the station. He got on the train at Glenville, and seemed
interested in the three girls. Perhaps Dorothy only imagined it, but he
certainly was watching them.

He took a seat in the North Birchland car directly opposite Dorothy and
Urania (Miette occupied a separate seat), Dorothy was plainly nervous,
and she handed Urania a book and whispered to her to pretend to be
reading it.

The man finally spoke to Dorothy.

“Aren’t you Miss Dale?” he inquired, “Major Dale’s daughter?”

“Yes, sir,” replied Dorothy promptly, feeling a relief since her dear
father’s name had been mentioned.

“And these other girls?” he asked pointedly.

“Friends of mine from the Glenwood Boarding School.”

“You were friends with that gypsy girl,” he said, fixing his eyes on
Urania, “You know she got away--I know your folks out at the Cedars,”
he went on, seeing the surprise on Dorothy’s face, “and I thought you
might be able to tell me something about the girl--I’d first-rate like
to find her.”

Urania turned around and almost gasped! Her eyes showed plainly her
confusion, and in spite of Dorothy’s tugging at her skirt, she was in
imminent danger of making her identity known. This frightened Dorothy,
and, of course, the man saw at once that both girls were agitated.

Whether he had been suspicious, or whether Urania’s sudden change
of attitude led to his conclusions, it was now apparent that he did
suspect the identity of the girl with the big white hat turned down so
closely over her brown hair.

Dorothy tried to speak, but she only succeeded in smiling faintly, and
her effort to take the situation as a joke was an utter failure.

The man left his seat and stood directly in front of them.

“You don’t happen to know the runaway gypsy girl?” he asked Urania.

“N-o,” she stammered, while the blood in her cheeks burned through
Dorothy’s clever make-up.

“H’m!” he asked again, pressing nearer the frightened girl.

Dorothy was stunned--bewildered! Surely he must know. She could not say
that this was Tavia Travers, in fact, to tell the untruth did not occur
to her--he would be able to see through that if he had penetrated the
disguise.

The train was whistling for a stop at Beechville. Here they must change
cars--oh, if only he would get off there and go away, then, perhaps,
some one would help her!

Miette, quick to discern the change in Dorothy, looked on, trembling
with fear. Perhaps the man had been sent out by her aunt--perhaps he
would take her, too, as well as Urania! She had suffered so many
strange experiences, that now she dreaded and feared everything!

“We all change cars here,” coolly said the man. “I guess I had better
take you little girls in hand--you need not be afraid. I’m a regular
officer, and I will take good care of you.”

“Oh!” screamed Urania, “I will not go! I won’t be arrested!”

“Hush!” exclaimed Dorothy, “You are not going to be arrested, but you
must be quiet or they may think we--think something is wrong. Sir,” she
said, looking up at the big man with the slouch hat, “I will not go
with you unless I know who you are.”

“That’s easy settled,” he replied, pulling back his coat and displaying
a badge, “I’m head constable of North Birchland.”

“And what do you want of us?” asked Dorothy, bravely.

“Don’t know as I want anything with you,” he replied, “But I am after
that gypsy girl, and I have an idea this is the girl I am looking for,”
touching Urania on the shoulder.

“But I cannot let her go with you unless I go along, too,” spoke up
Dorothy, now prepared to stand by Urania in this new difficulty.

“Then you may come along, too,” he said, good-naturedly enough. “Here
we are. This is the Beeches--and you know the Borough lock-up is out
here.”

“Lock-up!” almost shrieked Miette.

An elderly gentleman a few seats back noticed the girls’ plight. He
stepped forward and spoke to the constable:

“What’s the matter?” he asked.

“Nothing,” replied the constable, resenting the interference.

“But these young girls--what do you want of them?”

“We change cars here,” spoke the constable, ignoring the man’s
question, as the train came to a stop.

“So do I, then,” declared the man, looking kindly at Dorothy, and
following the party out of the car.

Miette clung to Dorothy’s skirt--the constable had taken Urania by
the arm. She struggled to get away, and no doubt would have given the
officer a lively chase could she have freed herself from his hold.

“I must telegraph my aunt,” declared Dorothy, as they reached the
platform.

“Office is closed,” said the constable, looking into the ticket office
that was really deserted.

“Oh, what shall I do?” wailed Dorothy, now dreadfully alarmed at their
plight.

“Don’t you worry, little girl. I’ll see that nothing happens to you,”
said the gentleman who had left the train with them.

“I can’t see the necessity,” interfered the constable. “I’m a regular
officer of the law, and I guess I’m about able to take care of a little
thing like this.”

“No doubt,” replied the other, “but even an officer of the law
may--overstep his authority. Have you a warrant for any one of these
little girls?”

Dorothy looked her thanks, but the constable did not give her a chance
to speak.

“Perhaps that will satisfy you,” said the officer, handing the man a
paper.

The gentleman glanced at it--then looked at Urania.

“I can’t see how this description fits?” the man said, with a sharp
look, first at Urania and then at the constable.

“But I can,” declared the officer. “See that scar?” pointing to a long,
deep ridge on Urania’s cheek.

Certainly the mark agreed with the mark mentioned in the description.

“Let me go!” cried Urania, making a desperate effort to free herself.

“Now! Now!” spoke the officer. “Just you go easy, little girl. Nobody’s
goin’ to hurt you. But you must not make too much trouble.”

“Can’t we go?” pleaded Miette, thoroughly frightened and plainly
anxious to get away from the scene.

“I will not leave Urania,” declared Dorothy, firmly, “and you could not
find your way to North Birchland alone. I am sure Aunt Winnie will come
as soon as she receives my telegram--the office must surely open before
train time.”

“I don’t fancy old Baldwin’s much good on sending messages over the
ticker,” said the officer, with an uncomfortable smile, “and Miss
Blackburn’s off somewhere--wasn’t here last night.”

“Do they not employ a regular operator?” asked the strange gentleman.

“Not at this junction,” replied the constable, “don’t have many
messages here.”

“Oh,” exclaimed Dorothy, “Isn’t that awful? What shall we do?”

“I said before, young lady, you can do as you please, but I’m wasting
good time standing here talking. I’ll just be movin’ along. Come along,
Urania.”

But Urania would not move. She put her two feet down so firmly against
the planks of the platform that even the strong constable saw he would
have to drag her, if he insisted on her going along.

Miette began to cry. Dorothy stepped aside and spoke to the gentleman
who had so kindly offered to help her. The thought that she had
not sent word to the Cedars that she was coming--that she was not
expected--just flashed across her mind.

What if Mrs. White should not be at home? But the major--and yet, in
her last letter to Glenwood Mrs. White told that Major Dale was gone
away on a business trip, about some property that had to be settled up.

What a predicament? But this was no time to speculate on possible
troubles--there were plenty of certainties to worry about.

Urania still defied the officer. And Miette was over on a bench crying.

“Couldn’t you--let these girls go--on my bond?” asked the gentleman,
crossing to the officer’s side. “I will be responsible--”

“I have said before those two can go--but there ain’t a bond strong
enough in the county to stand for this one--she’s too slippery.”

“Then we must all go together,” declared Dorothy. “I will stay with--my
friend.”

“Just’s you say,” replied the officer, “But I’m going to make a start.
See here, young lady”--this to Urania--“if you want fair play, no new
troubles, you had better step along here, and lively, too.”

“Yes,” said Dorothy to the gypsy girl, “we had better go. I’ll go with
you.”



CHAPTER XX

URANIA IN THE TOILS


The Vale City express came whizzing along, and the kind gentleman who
had left the train with the girls was obliged to board this to get to
his destination.

“I am so sorry to leave you,” he told Dorothy, “but, as you say, you
are not far from your aunt’s place, no doubt you will be able to
communicate with her soon. I assure you, if there was another train to
Vale City this afternoon, I would not leave you alone in this plight.”

Dorothy thanked him heartily--he was so kind, and his assurance
gave her courage, if it did not altogether extricate them from the
constable’s clutches.

“I am sure I will be able to telegraph soon,” she told him, “and then
my Aunt Winnie will come out directly in the automobile.”

So he left them, and then they followed the constable sadly to the
lock-up.

Dorothy now fully realized the responsibility she had undertaken. She
must stand by Urania--she fully believed in her innocence, and she must
see that this unfortunate girl was honestly dealt with. It was hard to
go to a country jail--perhaps street boys would run after them, and
perhaps it might even get in the newspapers.

“If Urania was not so stubborn,” Dorothy whispered to the tearful
Miette, “I believe she would get off easier. But I’m afraid she will
not even tell the story, and clear herself. She seems not to be afraid
of going to jail.”

“Oh!” wailed Miette, “I do think we ought to go--I wish I had not
come--”

“Now, Miette,” said Dorothy, “you must not feel that way. You must have
more courage. I am willing to help you, and we should both be willing
to help this poor girl.”

There was a reproof in Dorothy’s voice, but Miette was obdurate, and
continued to bewail the situation.

Urania trudged along--her fine clothes making a queer mockery of her
predicament.

“There’s our quarters,” announced the constable, pointing to a small,
new brick building a few squares away.

Miette shuddered.

“It is only to make a record,” Dorothy assured her.

“Then you have been--arrested yourself?”

Dorothy could not restrain a smile. “No, I have never been arrested at
all. But I know something about court work,” she answered.

As Dorothy feared, the small-boy element did discover them. No sooner
had they caught sight of the officer than they seemed to swarm from
nowhere to a solid group directly about the disgraced girls.

This added to Miette’s alarm, but it only annoyed Dorothy.

“Don’t notice them,” she told Miette, as the urchins asked insulting
questions. “We will soon be indoors.”

Indoors!

In a station house!

A huge man in dismal uniform sat in the doorway. The constable greeted
him familiarly.

“Here we are, Cap,” he said, “I’ve got some pretty girls here. Any room
inside?”

Dorothy frowned and looked up at him sharply.

“I did not know that officers joked at the expense of--innocent girls!”
she spoke up, with a manner that almost surprised herself.

“Hoity-toity!” exclaimed the officer, “but you have some spirit. Related
to Major Dale, all right.”

“Yes, and I think you should have given me a chance to communicate with
him,” she followed up, making good use of the opportunity to assert her
rights.

“No objection whatever,” replied the officer. “Cap, have you got a
’phone to North Birchland?”

Dorothy’s heart jumped! A telephone to the Cedars!

“Yep,” answered the stout man, disturbing himself reluctantly, and
stepping inside to allow the others to enter.

“There you are miss,” said the constable, pointing to the telephone.
“I don’t mind who you talk to or what you say now--I’ve got this girl
safe here,” indicating Urania. “Some times a little girl can make more
trouble than some one twice her size.”

Dorothy flew to the telephone. She was so eager to “get the Cedars” she
could scarcely give the number correctly.

She waited--and waited.

“Trying to get your party,” came the answer to her ear from the central
office.

How strange that they did not answer at once.

“Can’t you get them?” she asked the operator, impatiently.

“I think their wire is down,” came the answer. “I’ll give you
‘information.’”

“Information,” or the young lady in the telephone office who held that
title answered promptly. Dorothy made known her need--to reach the
Cedars, North Birchland.

“Wire’s down from the wind,” replied the telephone girl.

Dorothy almost jerked the receiver off its cord--she dropped it so
suddenly.

“Isn’t that awful?” she exclaimed, with a very white face.

“Can’t get your party?” asked the constable, coolly.

“No,” she answered, “Could I telephone the depot to send a telegram?”

“Nope,” replied the man designated as “Cap.” “They can’t collect
charges over the telephone.”

“But I could send the message collect,” argued Dorothy, feeling her
courage slip away now with each new difficulty.

“They only send them that way when they happen to know who you are,”
replied the man in an insolent tone, “and it ain’t likely they know a
parcel of boarding-school girls.”

Dorothy sank into the carpet-seated chair at her side. She was
discouraged now.

Miette waited as close to the door as she could “squeeze” without
actually being on the outside of the sill.

Urania did not appear frightened now--she seemed ready to fight!

All the gypsy blood within her resented this “outrage,” and when she
“resented” anything it was revenge that filled her heart. She would get
even!

But what was one poor unfortunate girl to do when big burly officers of
the law opposed her?

“I suppose I will have to go back to the station,” stammered Dorothy.
“Have you no matron here?” she asked, suddenly realizing that “girl
prisoners,” must be entitled to some consideration.

“Matron?” laughed the captain.

“Oh, I don’t know,” and the constable winked at his brother officer,
“there might be a woman--Cap, couldn’t you--get some one?”

At this the two men held a whispered conversation, and presently the
constable remarked:

“I’ve got to go back to North Birchland now, and if you two young
ladies want to go I’ll take you along.”

“No, thank you,” replied Dorothy promptly. “We are not ready to leave
yet.”

“Don’t stay on my account,” spoke up Urania suddenly, breaking her
sullen silence. “I’ll be all right here,” and she glanced at the open
window.

“But I shall not leave you--that is, unless I have to,” insisted
Dorothy, “I brought you away from Glenwood, and I am going to get you
home if I can to-night. There must be some way.”

The constable was waiting.

“Now I’ll tell you miss, since you seem so set,” and he smiled broadly
at Dorothy, “I’m going back to see about--well to fix things up--”
(Dorothy felt sure he meant he was going back to claim the reward,)
“then if everything is all right perhaps we can take bail for her--you
could get bail?”

“Indeed I could,” Dorothy assured him. “All our folks know and like
this girl.”

“Well, it’s a good thing to have friends. And now I’m off--I may see
you later in the afternoon, Miss Dale, and in the meantime let me
compliment you--you’re game all right.”

Dorothy felt too grieved to thank the man for his rough compliment,
and she only glanced at him as he left the place.

The police captain settled down near the door again. Evidently he did
not care just what his prisoner did so long as she did not attempt to
run away. He paid not the slightest attention to any of the girls, but
sat down in that lazy, heavy way, characteristic of officers who have
nothing else to do. He refilled his pipe and started in to smoke again
as if he were just as much alone as he had been before the noon train
came in with the interesting trio of much-perplexed girls.

“I think I had better go back to the station now,” said Dorothy
to Urania. Miette simply stared about her and seemed incapable of
conversing. “Do you wish to come, Miette?” she asked of the girl over
at the door.

“Oh, yes, certainly! I should be so glad to go!” replied Miette,
showing too plainly her eagerness to get away from the place.

“Can you call the woman you spoke of?” Dorothy said to the officer. “I
must go to the station, and do not think I should leave my friend here
all alone.”

“All alone? Don’t I count,” and he grinned in a silly fashion. “Oh, I
see--of course. Young ladies like you must have a--what do you call
it? A ‘chapperton?’”

Dorothy was too annoyed to laugh at the man’s queer attempt to use a
big word.

“I have always heard that there should be a matron in every public
place where young girls or women are detained,” she said with a brave
and satisfactory effort.

This quite awed the officer. “I’ll call Mary,” he said getting up from
the seat by the door. “She’ll kick about leavin’ off her housework, but
I suppose when we’ve got swells to deal with--why we must be swell,
too.”

He dragged himself to the stone steps outside and called into a
basement next door. But “Mary” evidently did not hear him. Urania had
her eyes fixed on that door like an eagle watching a chance to spring.
The man stepped off the stoop, but kept his hand on the rail.

“Mary!” he called again, and as he did so Urania shot out of the door,
past the officer, and down the street before he, or any one else, had
time to realize what she was doing.

Dorothy stood like one transfixed!

The officer first attempted to run--then he yelled and shouted--but of
course Urania was putting plenty of ground between herself and the
officer’s voice. Dorothy and Miette had hurried out to the side walk.

“Here!” he shouted, grabbing both girls roughly by the arm, “this
is all your doing. You’ll pay for it too. Do you know what it means
to help a prisoner to escape? Get in there,” and he shoved the two
terrified girls back into the little room, “I’ll see to it that you
don’t follow her,” and at this he took a key from his pocket, unlocked
the door of a cell, and thrust Dorothy and Miette within.



CHAPTER XXI

COMPLICATIONS


Miette screamed--Dorothy felt she would faint.

The man had actually banged the heavy door shut after them.

“Oh! I shall die!” screamed Miette, “why did you ever bring me here?”

“I did not bring you here,” replied Dorothy, showing some indignation,
in spite of her stronger emotions. “Just be as quiet as you can, and
I am sure it will all come right. This place is new and clean at any
rate, and we need not die here. There is air coming through that barred
window.”

“But we must get out! I tell you I will choke!” and the French girl
was certainly stifled, both with excessive nervousness and the close
confines of the place.

Dorothy was hoping to hear a step outside--she was sure the officer had
gone after Urania, and that they were alone in the building. It seemed
hours--but it could not be more than a half hour at most until she did
hear a step at the door. The next moment the outside door of the cell
was opened leaving the bars between the fair prisoners and the outside
room.

“M’m!” sneered the police officer, looking through the bars, “how do
you like it in there? Think you’ll try that trick again?”

“I tried no trick,” declared Dorothy, “and if you do not at once let us
out of this place it will be the worse for you. My father is Major Dale
of North Birchland--”

“What!” interrupted the man, with his hand on the door.

“Yes, he is,” repeated Dorothy, seeing the effect her words had on the
old officer, “and I know something about false imprisonment. What did
we do that you should put us in a cell?”

“You helped that girl escape and there’s a big reward out for her. What
do you suppose Constable Stevens will say when he comes back and finds
the prize gone?”

“I don’t care what he says,” Dorothy almost shouted. “But I do care
about being shut up here, and if you do not liberate us at once I’ll
see what the Borough of North Birchland thinks of you as an officer.”

It was plain the man was scared--the very name of Major Dale had
startled him.

He had his hand on the big black lock.

“And how am I to know that it was not a put-up job?” he asked foolishly.

“By the usual method--a trial,” ventured Dorothy, feeling no hesitation
in saying anything to this ignorant man.

All this took time, and it was getting late in the afternoon.

Miette’s hands as she clutched Dorothy’s were as cold as ice!

“You must hurry,” demanded Dorothy. “This girl is going to faint!”

At this the man unlocked the door--just as Miette fell senseless on the
floor.

[Illustration: Miette fell senseless on the floor _Page 199_]

“There!” gasped Dorothy, “are you satisfied now? Get me some water,
quick! Then call that woman--tell her she must come in here or--or I’ll
have both of you tried for this!”

Dorothy scarcely knew what she said. Miette had fainted--and she must
be revived!

What did it matter what she said to that cruel old man?

He shuffled off to the door and again called “Mary.” Presently a stout
and rather pleasant-looking woman appeared at the door.

“My good gracious!” she exclaimed, dropping down beside the unconscious
girl. “What in the world does this mean? Father what have you been
doing?”

“He has made a mistake, that is all,” replied Dorothy, with her usual
alertness. “This girl has fainted--we must get her outside.”

The young woman picked up the limp form as if it was that of a baby.
She laid Miette gently on the old sofa near the door.

“Telephone for a doctor, dad, quick,” she directed.

“If it’s only a faint,” the officer objected, “why can’t--”

“I said a doctor, and quick,” called the woman again. “Do you want to
have a dead girl on your hands?”

This roused the man to a sense of duty. It was hard to call in Doctor
Van Moren, under these circumstances, (the doctor happened to be mayor
of the borough) but it would be better than having “a dead girl” in the
station house.

Miette was stirring and Dorothy felt she would soon rally--but it would
be well to have a doctor, he might help get them out of the place.
Certainly Dorothy needed some help, and needed it badly.

Both Dorothy and the woman worked over Miette--one chafing her hands
and the other dropping cold water between the pale lips.

Finally, while the officer was talking over the telephone, Miette
opened her eyes.

Instantly she threw her arms around Dorothy.

“Oh, take me away!” she begged, “don’t let that awful man come near
me--let us go!” and she tried to raise herself on the arm of the bench.

“Now be quiet,” commanded the woman, in a gentle voice, “you are all
right--no one is going to hurt you.”

But Miette’s eyes stared wildly at Dorothy. The latter was smoothing
the black hair that fell in confusion over the temples of the sick girl.

“We will go soon, dear,” said Dorothy, “but you must get strong first.
Do you feel better?”

“Yes, I am all right. Do let us go!” and the French girl sat upright
in spite of all efforts to keep her head down, which is the important
position to be maintained when the face is pale.

“Now dearie,” said the woman, “you must try to be quiet. The doctor
will be here directly, and if he says you may go home we will help you
all we can.”

Dorothy thanked the woman--she even felt inclined to forgive the old
father, so timely was the attention that the daughter gave--perhaps
the old man knew no better: perhaps he was afraid of losing the
position that he had held many years. As if divining Dorothy’s thoughts
the woman said:

“I hope you will hold no ill will to father, he is old and not able to
do things as he should. If he was rough I hope you will excuse him.”

“He was rough,” answered Dorothy, “and I did feel that he had done us a
grave injustice. But since you are so kind--”

“Here comes the doctor. For goodness sake don’t tell him anything
against father,” interrupted the woman, just as a gentleman in an
automobile outfit entered the place.

“Well, I declare!” he exclaimed, “what’s all this?”

“My friend fainted,” said Dorothy, before anyone else had time to
speak, “and we are trying to revive her. We are anxious to start off
for North Birchland in time for the five-twenty train, we thought we
had better have your assistance.”

“I’ll tell you how it was, Doc,” started the police officer, in an
unsteady voice. “These girls--”

“Dad, do be quiet,” interrupted the daughter. “The doctor has no time
to listen to stories. He wants to see what the young girl needs.”

The doctor felt of Miette’s pulse, listened to her heart, and asked
some questions.

Dorothy saw how delicate the child looked--it was that ethereal beauty
that so attracted the Glenwood girls, but they had not attributed the
unusual daintiness to ill health.

“You are not her sister?” the doctor asked of Dorothy.

“No, but she is a very dear friend of mine.”

“And you belong at the Cedars--Mrs. White’s niece?”

“Yes,” replied Dorothy, “I live there. I am Major Dale’s daughter.”

“Then I’ll see the child over there later to-night,” he said. “Were you
going back by train?”

“Yes,” answered Dorothy, with a glance at the woman who was shaking her
head back of the doctor--motioning to Dorothy to say “Yes.”

“Then I think you might ride back in my auto. I have a call that way,
and it will be much easier for the sick girl than taking a train ride.”

“Oh, that would be so very kind of you,” said Dorothy, her gratitude
showing as clearly in her eyes as in her voice. “I am sure Aunt Winnie
will be so thankful--”

“No trouble at all,” replied the doctor. “Plenty of room in my machine.
Come, little girl,”--to Miette,--“Let us see what some fresh air will
do for you.”

And they were going away at last! Dorothy felt almost like collapsing
herself--the day had been strenuous indeed.

The old officer touched Dorothy’s arm as she was passing out.

“See here, girl,” he whispered, “don’t hold this again me. I was
wrong--foolish. But if the doctor got hold of it--I’d be turned out,
and then--it would soon be the poorhouse for me.”

Tears glistened in the deep set eyes. His hands were trembling.

“I will do the best I can,” Dorothy promised, “but father will have to
know the circumstances--”

“Oh, Major Dale!” and the old man fell into his chair. “Girl, I never
knew who you was, and that constable from the Birches, he gave me such
a story. Well if you’ll only try to make the major see the way it was--”

“I’ll do all I can,” said Dorothy, hurrying to get away, for Miette
was in the car at the door and the chauffeur was ready to start. The
police officer stood at the door, and his daughter was on the walk,
making sure that the girls were in the auto safely.

“Good-bye,” called Dorothy as the machine began to puff. Miette smiled
to the woman, then she looked timidly at the old man. Suddenly another
tall figure stepped up to the police station--that of a tall man, with
slouch hat--

“The constable!” exclaimed Miette to Dorothy.

But the automobile was off, and the two men on the steps of the
country jail were gazing after the cloud of smoke and dust left in the
automobile’s track--while Dorothy and Miette were safely flying away to
the Cedars.



CHAPTER XXII

SINCERE AFFECTION’S POWER


It was two days later, and Miette had almost forgotten to “be
careful”--she felt so strong and well in her pleasant surroundings at
the Cedars.

As Dorothy expected, Mrs. White took the lonely girl to her heart at
once, and it was only a matter of time--that of waiting for Miette’s
convalescence,--that now withheld them from taking the trip to New York
in search of the girl’s friends or relatives.

Nothing had been seen or heard of Urania. The other girls’ experience
in the country jail had been discussed and settled amicably through the
charitable interference of Dorothy, who insisted that the old officer
was not responsible, that he did not mean to treat them so harshly, but
was frightened into taking the extreme measure of holding them through
the “story” given by the constable who was working so assiduously for
the reward.

Major Dale was at first inclined to deal summarily with the man, but
Dorothy pleaded his case so ardently that she finally “won out,” as
the major expressed it and so the old officer was let off with an
unmistakable “curtain lecture.”

He declared he had taken enough from the Birchland constable to pay
for all his other mistakes, for indeed the wrath of that officer when
he found his “prize” had escaped was not of the sort that is easily
allayed.

All this, “added to what he got,” made enough, Dorothy declared.

Miette’s frail health, her tendency to faint in any unusual excitement,
caused Mrs. White apprehension as time for the proposed journey to New
York arrived. If only Miette would be satisfied to wait at the Cedars
while Dorothy and Mrs. White could go, then, Mrs. White told her,
she could take another trip, when some key to the situation had been
obtained.

But Miette was so anxious--she wanted above everything else to see
Marie, and then she felt assured she would be able to learn all the
particulars about her aunt leaving New York.

As days passed Mrs. White got into communication with Mrs. Pangborn.
Letters passed to and from Glenwood daily, and Dorothy’s aunt told her
they would have some business with Miette’s attorneys when they reached
New York.

Finally one particularly bright day, Miette came down to the dining
room with the regular request “to go to-day,” pleading from the depths
of her wonderful dark eyes.

“I feel so well,” she declared, “and if we could only go and have it
all settled--”

“Well,” agreed Mrs. White, “I guess we can go to-day.”

How the color came and went in Miette’s cheeks! How excited she was to
get started, every moment seeming to add to her impatience.

“Now, my dear,” cautioned Mrs. White, “you have promised me to keep
calm, and not get any more spells. If you are so excited now, before
we leave at all, how do you expect to keep calm when you get into the
bustle of busy New York?”

So the girl tried to appear less agitated, but Dorothy could see that
every nerve in the child’s frame was a-quiver with anticipation.

At last they were on the train. They would be in New York in one hour.
Miette talked incessantly. What she would tell Marie--she would like
to buy her a little present before she went to her store; then perhaps
they could take Marie out to lunch--it was Marie, Marie, until both
Mrs. White and Dorothy marvelled at this girl’s extreme affection for
a little cash girl, when she professes such strong dislike for being
considered one of the working class.

“Now,” said Mrs. White, as the train rolled into the great Grand
Central station, “we will go first to the lawyers’. A day in New York
passes quickly, and we have considerable to attend to during business
hours.”

It seemed to Dorothy that even New York had grown busier and
noisier--she used to think it impossible to add to these conditions,
but surely at eleven o’clock on a business morning nothing could be
more active than the great metropolis.

They boarded a subway car. This underground travel always excited
Dorothy’s interest, “to think that little human beings could build
beneath the great solid surface of New York, could fortify these
immense caves with walls of huge stones,” she exclaimed to Miette,
“don’t you think it marvelous?”

“Yes,” replied Miette simply, without evincing the slightest admiration
for that part of the wonders of the nineteenth century’s achievements.

Then the tall buildings--like slices of another world suspended between
the earth and sky. Dorothy had seen New York before, but the great
American city never failed to excite in her a truly patriotic pride.

“Have you such things in France?” she asked Miette, by way of
emphasizing the wonders.

“Some of them,” replied the French girl, “but what seems to me a pity
is that you have nothing old in New York, everything is new and shiny.
There is no--no history, you tear everything down just when it gets
interesting. Marie told me one day that this is because there are so
many insurance companies here. When people die you get a lot of money,
then you buy a lot of new things.”

Mrs. White laughed outright at this girlish speech. She had often heard
the objection made to new “shiny things,”--that they looked as if
some one had just died and left an insurance policy--but to apply the
comparison to tall buildings was a new idea.

A crowded elevator brought them to the office of a law firm. Mrs. White
wrote something on her card, and when the messenger returned from an
inner room the lady was immediately ushered in--Dorothy and Miette
remained outside, looking down on New York from a ten-story view point.

The legal business seemed of small consequence to Miette--she wanted
to get out and look for Marie.

Finally the door to the inner room was opened and the two girls were
asked to step inside.

“This is the young lady,” said Mrs. White to a man who sat at a desk
that was littered with papers.

“Oh, yes,” he answered, looking first at Miette then at a document in
his hand, as if making some comparison.

“And she left the boarding school with this young lady?” the lawyer
asked, indicating Dorothy.

“Yes, my niece undertook to assist the child,” answered Mrs. White. “We
are accustomed to Dorothy’s ventures, but she is young, and we have
to be careful sometimes,” she added, with a look that Dorothy did not
exactly understand.

“I see,” replied the gentleman, also smiling significantly, “Well, she
is quite a--philanthropist. She ought to study law.”

Dorothy blushed at the compliment. Miette merely looked puzzled at
the proceedings. What could this man mean? What did he know of her
business? her eyes were asking.

“And just how old are you?” inquired the man turning to the French
girl.

“Fifteen,” she answered simply.

“And you came to New York last year?” he continued.

“Yes,” answered Miette, wondering why she should be thus catechised.

Then he unrolled a great packet of papers. From an envelope in the
packet he took a small picture.

“Whose picture is this?” he asked Miette.

“Oh,” she exclaimed, “My own mother’s--the one we had at home. Where
did you get it?” and she reverently pressed the small glass-covered
miniature to her lips.

“There can be no question as to identity,” the lawyer said to Mrs.
White, without appearing to notice Miette’s emotion. “Of course the
legal technicalities will have to be complied with, but this is without
question the child in the case.”

Miette allowed Dorothy to look at the miniature. What a beautiful
face--yes, Miette was like this sweet sad-faced woman.

The lawyer was talking aside to Mrs. White.

“I will be very glad to make some arrangements,” Dorothy heard him
say. “Of course, the child is in our charge, and we thought everything
was going on satisfactorily. It is a strange thing what important
developments some times may evolve from the simple matter of one
child’s affection for another. The president of Glenwood school has
written me that it was entirely due to the interest of Miss Dale that
this child’s plight was actually discovered,” he said aloud, intending
that both girls should hear the remark.

“Dorothy has been very good--” Miette felt obliged to say, although
she feared to make her own voice heard in the serious matter that the
lawyer was evidently discussing.

“For the present then,” said the lawyer, “this is all we can do. I will
be glad to call at the Cedars as soon as I can thoroughly investigate
the details, and then we will see what better plan may be arranged.”

Mrs. White was ready to leave.

“Just one minute,” said the lawyer. “I neglected to ascertain what was
the name of the firm which you say you had been employed by?” he asked
Miette.

“Gorden-Granfield’s,” she replied, a deep flush overspreading her face
at the mention of the “store,” where she had spent such miserable hours.

“And who worked with you, near you?” he asked further, putting down on
his paper a hurried note.

“Marie Bloise,” answered Miette promptly.

“Very well,” he said, putting the paper back on his desk. “I am
entirely obliged, Mrs. White,” he continued, “and very glad indeed to
have met this little heroine,” he smiled to Dorothy. “Our young girls
of to-day very often display a more commendable type of heroism than
characterized the Joans of former days,” he declared. “The results of
their work are more practical, to say the least.”

Then they entered the elevator, and Miette, still carrying the envelope
with the miniature (the lawyer gave the picture to her) stepped
impatiently ahead of Dorothy and Mrs. White when they reached the
sidewalk.

“I feel foolish with such compliments,” Dorothy whispered to her aunt.
“I can’t see what I have done to deserve them?”

“You discovered Miette,” replied her aunt, simply, “and that seems to
be more than even the smartest lawyers in New York had been able to do.”

Dorothy did not exactly understand this remark, but they were downtown
now, and within sight of Gorden-Granfield’s establishment.

Through the great department store Miette led Mrs. White and Dorothy to
the basement--where, the French girl said, Marie worked.

“She is sure to be on the floor now,” exclaimed Miette, displaying a
strange familiarity with “store terms.”

Down in the basement people crowded and fought to get closer to
the bargain counters. Dorothy was not accustomed to this sort of
shopping--she was almost carried off her feet with the rush and crush.
Mrs. White bit her lips--

“And did you actually work here?” she whispered to Miette.

“Yes,” replied the child, “Is it not terrible?”

“Awful! There is absolutely not a breath of air.”

“That was what made me sick,” said Miette. “I could not stand--the
atmosphere.”

“No wonder. I cannot see how anyone could stand it.”

“There is a girl I know!” exclaimed Miette, as a child in a somber
black dress, with a black lined basket in her hand, made her way
through the crowds.

“Where is Marie?” asked Miette, when she could get close enough to the
cash girl to ask her the question.

“Gone,” replied the other, glancing curiously at Miette. “Where’re you
workin’?” she asked in turn.

“I am not working,” said Miette, not unkindly. “I am at boarding
school.”

“Gee!” exclaimed the girl in the black dress.

Then the clerk called: “Here check!”

“But tell me about Marie,” insisted Miette, keeping as close to the
cash girl as she could under the circumstances.

“I guess she’s in the hospital,” answered the girl. “She was awful
sick--had to be carried out of the store.”

“Here check!” yelled the clerk again. “If you don’t mind your business
and get these things wrapped I’ll report you.”

The little girl made no reply, but simply took the parcel in her
basket. Then the clerk espied Miette.

“Oh, hello, Frenchy,” she exclaimed, while Miette’s cheeks flamed as
the people around stared at her. “Sportin’ now?”

Miette did not reply, but turned and made her way to where Mrs. White
and Dorothy waited in a secluded corner.

“Marie is not here,” she told them. “She is sick--gone away.”

“Come,” directed Mrs. White, anxious to get out of the ill-ventilated
basement. “We can talk about it upstairs.”

Up in the marble lined arcade Miette told what she had learned. She was
“broken hearted.” She did so want to find Marie.

“Well, it seems we must be disappointed in something,” Mrs. White told
her, “all our other business has been so satisfactory, we cannot expect
everything to go along as if some magic clock ticked out our time in
New York.”

But Miette could not be cheered--she was so sorry to know that Marie
was sick, then to think she had no time to go to her home--Mrs. White
insisted she must do some shopping and then leave on the five o’clock
train.

“Couldn’t we go while you shop,” suggested Miette.

“No, indeed, my dear,” replied Mrs. White. “I could not think of
trusting you two children in New York alone.”

So they were obliged to “shop” and then to leave New York without
Miette fulfilling her promise to Dorothy--that of making her acquainted
with the “sweetest girl in all New York, Marie Bloise.”

“But I shall write to her--and at once,” said Miette. “I must hear from
her in some way.”



CHAPTER XXIII

THE REAL MIETTE


“And now, my dears,” said Mrs. White, a day or two after the trip to
New York, “you must soon be thinking of returning to Glenwood. You have
had quite a vacation, and it is too early in the season to lay aside
school work.”

“Yes, and I will have plenty to do to pull up,” replied Dorothy. “I am
working for a prize this year.”

“I shall feel more like doing my part now,” spoke Miette, in whose
cheeks the tint of health was beginning to show itself. “And I do
believe I shall be very glad to see the girls, also,” she said.

“Well, I am sure the little change has done you both good,” remarked
Mrs. White, with an approving look. “After all, there are many
important things in life to be learned--and they are not all to be
found in books. This afternoon we may expect to see the lawyer from New
York, and then I hope all the troublesome business will be settled.”

A letter from Tavia brought the news that Nita Brandt was miserable
over the part she had taken in the “persecution” of Miette. She said,
in her letter, that even Miss Bylow had spoken to the class in “a near
apology,” and that when the two “runaways” did return there would be a
welcome committee waiting to receive them.

“So, you see,” Dorothy told Miette, “American school girls are not as
mean as they may appear. I was positive they would want you back as
soon as you left--and it is a great thing to be missed, you know.”

“But I am sure it is you who are missed,” replied Miette, who did not
attempt to conceal her pleasure at the tone of Tavia’s letter. “I do
not see how they get on without you at all.”

“Oh, indeed,” replied Dorothy, “Glenwood girls are quite capable of
taking care of themselves, and they have a particular faculty of being
independent of persons and things.”

“I hope I shall be able to stay--allowed to stay, I mean,” said Miette,
thoughtfully. “I am so nervous about the lawyer’s visit.”

“No need to be,” Dorothy told her. “I am sure everything will be
all right--I can tell by Aunt Winnie’s manner that she expects some
pleasant news.”

“And if I do stay at Glenwood, and have the pleasure of visiting with
you again,” said Miette, “will you come again with me to New York to
look for Marie?”

“I’ve got a better plan,” replied Dorothy, “but you mustn’t ask about
it yet--the plans are not fully developed.”

“Oh, do tell me?” pleaded Miette, “If it’s about Marie I cannot wait
for plans to develop.”

“Well, it includes Marie--I hope,” said Dorothy, with a mischievous
shake of her pretty head. “The fact is, I am begging Aunt Winnie to
let me turn the Cedars into a Social Settlement--ask some lonely and
otherwise ‘abused’ girls to spend their vacation here.”

“Oh, how splendid!” exclaimed Miette, “I know two other very nice girls
who worked in the store--they are poor, but--”

“Poverty is no objection,” declared Dorothy. “The fact is, Dad says I
have made so many acquaintances in the past few years we ought to have
a reunion. I have always loved the social settlement idea, and I’m
going to try it on.”

“We would be so happy now,” said Dorothy, “if only we could get some
tidings of Urania.”

“Do you think she will come back?” asked Miette.

“I am sure she will,” replied Dorothy. “If we only could get some word
to her, wherever she is. Sometimes I wake in the night and fancy she is
calling me.”

“You love her, I am sure,” said Miette, “and she is such a queer little
creature!”

“Yes, I do love her,” declared Dorothy. “She almost risked her life for
me, and I will never believe that she did anything wrong--she might be
very foolish, but she is not wicked.”

“It is well to have such a friend as Dorothy Dale,” said Miette, with a
meaning smile. “I am sure I should have fared very poorly without her
aid myself.”

“Now, come,” interrupted Dorothy, “when a girl talks that way I am
always certain she wants to borrow something--and all my needles, pins,
thread, and even darning ball are at school.”

Miette laughed merrily--she had a way of laughing that might be
properly termed infectious, for its ring never failed to bring forth an
echo.

It was that laugh that had won for her the heart of Dorothy, when alone
she attempted to become one of the “Glens,” and Tavia, with Ned, helped
to make the fun on opening day.

The time slipped by like the fleeting autumn clouds that added their
gentle reflection to the glorious tints of tree and bush. It might be
pleasant to get back with the girls at Glenwood, but it could scarcely
be more pleasant than this wonderful day at the Cedars, Dorothy
thought. She had many delightful hours with her brothers, Roger and
Joe, as well as with the others.

“I think, Miette, you ought really to put on one of my white gowns this
afternoon--you look so somber in black, and all white is just as deep
mourning as black, you know,” said Dorothy.

“If you would like me to, I shall do it,” replied Miette, “although I
shall feel very strange to wear anything but black.”

“It will really be good for you,” urged Dorothy. “You know, they say
that black is actually hard on the nerves.”

So it happened that when the lunch bell rang it was a new Miette that
came down with Dorothy.

Even Major Dale remarked upon the improvement.

“Well, you see,” said Miette, “when Dorothy wants anything she is sure
of getting it. I have often heard that some people have fairies helping
them, and I am sure Dorothy’s fairy is very good to her.”

Mrs. White reminded the girls they were not to go off the grounds
after lunch, “for the lawyer may want to see you,” she told them.

The early afternoon train brought the expected gentleman--Mr. Pierce by
name, of the law firm of Pierce & Sloan, New York City.

He was the same gentleman whom Mrs. White had met in the city, and when
he recognized Miette he remarked upon her improved appearance.

“You have gained in the few days,” he said kindly, “I am sure these new
friends know how to take care of--lost girls,” he finished with a smile.

Major Dale was present and showed his usual kindly interest in
Dorothy’s friends. In fact, he evinced a pardonable pride in the way
his daughter won her friends, as he did, too, Mr. Pierce’s statement
that Dorothy was a very smart little girl.

Dorothy naturally disliked such compliments, and always maintained she
had done nothing more than any other girl would have done under the
circumstances. This might have been almost true, or true in a sense,
but when men like Lawyer Pierce are initiated into the girl realm, and
discover that the members of that realm are not all “silly, giggling
school girls,” surprise is natural as well as excusable.

In how many homes to-day are not young girls doing things quietly and
almost unconsciously to help the entire family, not alone to obtain
bread and butter, but to secure real peace and happiness?

Think of the numberless girls who are assisting good mothers with the
trying details of the household, taking from tired heads and shoulders
a generous share of the burden that would otherwise make life miserable
for these same long-taxed mothers!

There are Dorothy Dales in almost every home--but we have not written
their story yet. The “Home Girl” is one of the great unwritten volumes
that writers hold so sacred in their hearts, scarcely is pen or paper
deemed worthy to make the picture.

But we are telling one Dorothy’s story, that those who read may see the
others by reflection.

In the library at the Cedars sat the group--Major Dale and his sister,
Mrs. White, Lawyer Pierce, and Dorothy with Miette. They were now to
learn the story of the real Miette--from the lips of her attorney.

“This young lady,” began the lawyer, indicating Miette, “was the
daughter of Marquis de Pleau, a Frenchman of title, and of an American
lady, before her marriage, Miss Davis, of Albany.”

“Oh,” exclaimed Mrs. White, in surprise, her tone indicating that she
knew the mother of Miette, and that the memory was one of pleasant
associations. Miette herself evinced some surprise, but Dorothy was too
interested to take her eyes off Mr. Pierce.

“The marquis died suddenly,” continued the lawyer, “and the young
mother was left with this precious inheritance,” laying his hand on
Miette’s shoulder.

“Some years later the mother herself was called away,” he resumed, “and
then it was that the child was sent to relatives in this country. Her
allowance had been received through our house, we having been appointed
by the marquis’ estate, and we in turn had been paying the allowance to
an aunt by marriage--Mrs. Charles Huber.”

Miette shrugged her small shoulders in true French fashion. Evidently
she had no pleasant thoughts about Mrs. Charles Huber!

“We had no reason to suspect any misuse of this orphan’s money,”
continued Mr. Pierce, “until a letter sent from Glenwood school to a
girl named Marie Bloise, employed by the firm of Gorden-Granfield, came
into the possession of the superintendent of the firm, Mr. Frederic
Freeman, who happened to be a personal friend of my own.”

“But I sent no letter!” interrupted Miette in surprise.

“No,” answered the lawyer, “the letter was signed Dorothy Dale!”

All eyes were turned on Dorothy.

“I sent it--” she stammered, “to Gorden-Granfield’s because Miette was
so anxious to write to Marie, and had lost the letter.”

“And how did you get it?” asked Miette, more surprised than ever.

“Mrs. Pangborn gave it to me, and said I might add a line, and send
it to the girl if I wished, but I was not to tell Miette until all
the trouble was straightened out. It has not been all settled yet,”
finished Dorothy.

“But we are about to finish it,” said the lawyer, smiling. “This letter
was turned over to Mr. Freeman because it is against the rules of the
house for employes to receive mail through the office.”

“But how did you come to know this letter had to do with your client?”
asked Major Dale, much puzzled at the complications.

“Because Dorothy Dale has a very business-like habit of putting the
sender’s name on the corner of her letters. This being written by
Miette de Pleau, had that name neatly penned in the upper left-hand
corner. This caught the eye of Mr. Freeman, and as he had heard me make
some remarks about my little client, had even suspected that a girl
employed as cash girl in his own store under the name of Marie Varley,
might be the very girl I was so anxious to interview personally, he
immediately forwarded the letter to me.”

“Yes, they called me that name--to hide who I was. Auntie said I should
not let anyone know I was in a store,” said Miette.

“A remarkable case,” said Major Dale.

“Very,” assented the lawyer. “Of course, we have cases with queer
phases, but this has been, as you say, Major, remarkable. To think that
we should have a client in our own city whom we were never able to see
personally. The aunt insisted the child was at boarding school, and it
was very likely a fear of detection that prompted her to send the girl
to Glenwood finally.”

“And was the woman actually--wicked?” asked Mrs. White.

“No,” replied Mr. Pierce, “and I should have explained that earlier.
Her mind was unbalanced, and she is now in a sanitarium.”

“Oh,” exclaimed Miette, “I often thought that! She was so different at
times, but after my uncle went away she was very strange.”

“Yes,” said Mr. Pierce, “we have learned that her peculiar mania for
money was not considered--well, dangerous by her husband, and when he
went to the East Indies on a business trip he had no reason to fear
that anything would go amiss with his niece. It was then that Mrs.
Huber sent Miette to work--she explained that the girl would get an
American education in that way.”

“The daughter of a marquis?” exclaimed Mrs. White.

“Exactly,” answered Mr. Pierce. “But we all know the cunning of those
afflicted with mania. She was so adroit that she managed well to keep
this little girl entirely out of our reach.”

“And now?” prompted Mrs. White.

“Now we must, of course, appoint a new guardian for Miette,” went on
the lawyer, “and I have a request from Mr. Huber that some one be
appointed who has had children to deal with. His wife was a person
brought up singularly alone.”

“Could I choose?” asked Miette, innocently.

“You might suggest,” answered the lawyer.

“Then I would so like--Dorothy’s Aunt Winnie--”

“My dear child!” expostulated Mrs. White. “I have a veritable
institution on my hands now--”

“Oh, do, Aunt Winnie!” begged Dorothy, throwing her arms about the
lovely woman without regard for the presence of the stranger. “I am
sure Miette will help take care of me, and I will help take care of
Miette.”

“I have always had a sacred love for the orphan,” spoke up Major Dale.
“In fact, I do honestly believe that when a helpless child comes to
our home, in need of a strong arm to guide and lead the way through
life, that such a one is heaven sent. And if there is no technical or
legal objection, I would urge you, sister, to listen to the cry of the
children here,” pointing to Dorothy and Miette.

“I have been requested to make just this appeal,” said Mr. Pierce. “I
had written to Mr. Huber of the circumstances surrounding the rescue of
his niece, and he begged me to ask Mrs. White to continue her interest.
If ever Mrs. Huber grows strong enough, of course, she may want to take
back the charge, but her husband is determined to take her on a long
voyage as soon as she shall be strong enough to endure it. This, the
doctors think, will be the best kind of treatment for her case.”

“You will, auntie?” pleaded Dorothy.

“Oh, I suppose so,” said Mrs. White happily. “My daughters are
multiplying wonderfully of late.”

At the word “daughter,” Miette arose and very solemnly touched her lips
to Mrs. White’s forehead.

“You will be a mother to me, I am sure,” she said, “and I will try to
be a dutiful daughter to you!”



CHAPTER XXIV

THE SEARCH


“But I cannot just exactly understand about that letter,” said Miette,
the next day, as she and Dorothy began their packing for Glenwood.

“What more do you want to know?” asked Dorothy archly.

“Whatever did you say to Marie?”

“Why, I just added a line, as Mrs. Pangborn said I might. I said that
you were in distress, and if she knew where your aunt lived, should she
go there and see if she still was at the same place. Then I asked if
she would send me your aunt’s address.”

“What for?” asked Miette.

“Well, I cannot just exactly tell you,” stammered Dorothy, “but I knew
if Aunt Winnie went to New York she would not mind calling on your
aunt.”

“So,” said Miette, giving Dorothy a gentle hug (everything Miette did
was gentle), “you had really decided to have me investigated?”

“I knew you needed some attention.”

“And I was so ashamed to have worked in a store,” reflected Miette
aloud.

“That was because you were really a ‘somebody,’” answered Dorothy. “I
do believe in inheritance. You see, you inherited a perfectly honorable
pride. And do you realize you are very rich?”

“I know it, but I do not realize it,” said Miette. “Like the pride, I
suppose I consider that my lawful right.”

Dorothy saw how different can be a foreign girl to one accustomed to
our delightful American independence.

“Now, if Tavia ever fell into such luck,” said Dorothy, “I can scarcely
imagine what would happen.”

“I hope Tavia will not think I have taken her place in your heart,”
remarked Miette, at that moment snapping the spring on her suitcase. “I
dearly love Tavia myself.”

“Oh, she is one of Aunt Winnie’s ‘found daughters,’ too,” said Dorothy.
“We are all very fond of Tavia.”

“I am going to give a real party when we get back to Glenwood,”
announced Miette. “I will have it done in style--pay for the very best
we can get there, with Mrs. Pangborn as--patroness.”

“Oh, that would be lovely,” commented Dorothy. “We have very few
real affairs out there. But I know we could have them if the girls’
allowances would permit.”

“I have plenty,” responded Miette, “and I would like to show the
girls that I do not hold any malice. It is only natural to have
little--squabbles, as you call them?”

“Well,” sighed Dorothy, “I do believe I would sleep soundly to-night if
I only knew about Urania.”

“Yes,” answered Miette, “It is a pity we cannot let her share our
happiness. She surely needs some happiness.”

It may seem to the reader that such things only happen in books, but is
not truth actually stranger than fiction?

At that very moment Major was down in the library, reading a letter
from one of the town officials, in which was stated the fact that the
gypsy girl, Urania, had been entirely cleared of all suspicion--that
the wicked men who had stolen the goods from Mrs. White’s home had
planned to circulate the story against the girl who had foiled them,
and that now the Borough would transfer the reward placed for the
capture of the girl to the finding of her--to make right, if possible,
the harm done a helpless, innocent creature.

“And furthermore,” continued the official communication, “inasmuch
as your daughter has helped this girl at very great personal risks
(as we have learned through careful investigation), you may tell your
daughter that if she knows anything of the whereabout of this gypsy
girl, she need not hesitate in communicating to her this proclamation.”

Major Dale called Dorothy, and told her the good news.

“But how can we find poor Urania,” sighed Dorothy.

“I’ve never known you to have to look for anything in vain, daughter,”
said the Major, with his arm about Dorothy, and his wrinkled face
pressed close to her flushed cheek.

This was Thursday evening. The girls were to leave for Glenwood the
next day.

“I would like to stay over one day more,” pleaded Dorothy to Mrs.
White, “I feel in that time we may hear some news from Urania.”

“Well, just one day, remember. I will not extend the time,” answered
Mrs. White, smiling.

Miette was impatient to hear from her beloved Marie. She had sent a
letter to Marie in care of the department store, and, by Mrs. White’s
direction, had marked it “important.” At last came a letter in return,
which caused the French girl much delight.

“It is from Marie, my Marie!” she cried, running up to Dorothy. “She
is out of the hospital, and she and her folks have moved to Boston.
Her folks are doing better--earning more money--and Marie is to go to
school!”

“I am glad to hear that,” replied Dorothy.

“I shall write again--and tell her about my good fortune,” went on the
French girl. “Some day I want her to visit me.”

“Yes, for I’d like to know her,” was Dorothy’s answer.

In the Major’s own room, later that evening, he and Dorothy discussed a
plan of search for the missing gypsy girl.

“It is more than likely,” said the Major, as Dorothy sat on the stool
at his feet, and he re-lighted his Christmas pipe of briar (Dorothy had
sent all the way to New York for that pipe), “that the poor girl is
hiding somewhere in the woods. She knows every inch of the land about
here, and there are still to be found nuts and berries she might try to
exist on.”

“Yes,” replied Dorothy, “that was how she lived in the Glenwood woods.
And now that there are no gypsies in this township, she would feel safe
to hide around here.”

“Well, I’ll tell you, daughter, to-morrow morning you and I can start
off on a little tramp. It is a long time since I’ve gone through the
woods with you, and we may take our lunch just as we used to, insist
upon having our own little holiday all to ourselves, and then--then we
will find Urania.”

“My same old darling dad!” exclaimed Dorothy, throwing her arms about
the Major. “I was afraid you would be too busy to give me all that
time--you have so much more land to attend to now--”

“But there’s one estate that is always first, Little Captain,” he
replied, and for some moments Dorothy rested like a babe in her
father’s arms.

It was not a difficult matter to persuade Miette to remain at the
Cedars the next day, instead of accompanying the Major and Dorothy on
their tramp. In fact, Miette would have refused to go had she been
invited, for she had a fear now of the woods, and the gypsies. She
remained indoors to pen another letter for her beloved Marie.

So Dorothy and the Major started off, Dorothy with the dear old lunch
basket that had served so many pleasant meals under Dalton trees in her
earlier days, and the Major with his trusted stick, the blackthorn,
that almost seemed to anticipate his steps, so well acquainted was it
with the Major’s travels.

“We had better take the path along the mountain,” suggested the Major,
“as I am sure there are many secluded spots and lots of good nuts along
the way.”

“Very well,” replied Dorothy. “Surely we will find her. If she can only
see us--you and I together, she will be certain that no harm could come
to her through us.”

“Poor child!” said the old gentleman, “What if my little daughter--But,
of course, she is very different to the girl of the woods.”

“Oh, I don’t think, father, that Urania is really untamed. I have known
her to do such good, thoughtful acts--surely she must have a generous
heart.”

“No doubt of it, daughter. But take care there,” as the path neared
the edge of a precipice. “I know you are sure-footed, but that’s a
dangerous pass.”

Dorothy clung to some low branches and gained the broader path without
mishap. Then, from the height of the hill, they stopped to call and
look over the surrounding slope of woodland.

Dorothy called and called, but only the echo of her own voice against
the hills came in answer.

“How I do wish we could find her,” she exclaimed, some discouragement
in her tone. “I am sometimes afraid--she might be dead!”

“No fear,” replied the Major, confidently. “Good, strong girls like
Urania have business living, and they do not die without just cause. We
had best sit down here, and take our lunch,” he went on. “Perhaps those
chicken sandwiches may give you new courage. Isn’t there a spring over
there near that rock?”

“I can see water trickling down,” answered Dorothy. “I’ll get the cups
out and go over.”

In the little lunch basket Dorothy had placed the cups of the
automobile lunch set, and with these in her hands she ran over to the
rock by the hillside. Major Dale helped lay out the things. It was
delightful to be out there in the woods, to hear the birds sing a
welcome, and to feel the cool breezes of the autumn air brushing his
cheeks.

“I hardly blame the gypsies,” he said to himself. “The outdoor life is
the only life, after all.”

Dorothy returned now with the two cups full of fresh spring water, and
the little luncheon was soon being made a most enjoyable meal.

“Just like dear old days in Dalton,” said Dorothy, helping the Major to
another lettuce sandwich. “I am glad of the holiday. I will have a dear
memory to take back to Glenwood now.”

How “glorious” the Major looked. Glorious because his snowy hair fell
so gently on his fine, high forehead, because in his rugged cheeks
could be plainly seen the glow of health satisfied, because his eyes
were so bright--and, oh, how lovely he did look, thought Dorothy, as
he sat there in the flickering autumn sunlight, with the great rugged
hills behind him and the whole wide world before him!

“It’s a queer picnic,” remarked Dorothy, feeling obliged to keep ever
before her the one thought of the miserable Urania.

“But a most delightful one,” replied the Major. “The kind that
compensates in ending well. I am perfectly sure we will find your
little protégé.”

“Then I think we had better hurry our dessert,” said the daughter,
passing the tiny, frosted cakes. “How good everything does taste out of
doors!”

“First-rate,” assented the Major between mouthfuls, “but don’t close
that basket until I have the one lone sandwich I saw you smuggle in
there.”

“And another cup of water?”

“Don’t care if I do,” replied the Major, imitating the boys in his
careless manner. “I could eat as much again--Bring it next time.”

After the last crumbs had been disposed of they started off again--this
time in the direction of a high rock.

Some boys looking for nuts happened along, and Dorothy asked if they
had seen a girl anywhere in the woods.

“What girl?” asked a rather saucy fellow, without raising his cap.

“Any girl,” replied Dorothy, defiantly.

“Plenty of them out here after nuts,” answered the urchin. “I saw one
a while ago--looked as if she had never seen a real nut in her life.
Guess she hadn’t much to eat lately.”

Dorothy was interested instantly. The Major had gone on ahead, and she
called to him to wait while she made further inquiries.

The description seemed to Dorothy to answer to that of Urania, Dorothy
thought, and when the boy directed her to a “big chestnut tree, over
on the mountain road,” she and the Major promptly took up their
travels in that direction.

Dorothy felt she would now find Urania--she must find her--and soon the
afternoon would be lapping over into twilight!

“Can you hurry a little, father?” she asked, as the Major trudged
bravely along. “It is quite a distance to the hillside.”

“And maybe a ‘wild goose’ chase at that,” replied her father. “I didn’t
just exactly like the look on that boy’s face. He may have fooled you.”

“Do you think so!” exclaimed Dorothy, instantly allowing her spirits to
flag.

“Well, we may as well look,” answered her father, “but I wouldn’t take
too much stock in the word of a youngster of his type.”

Then, in their haste, they forgot conversation, and for some time
neither spoke. The road seemed very rough, and the path very uncertain.
Dorothy glanced at her father, and was at once concerned for his
comfort.

“Are you tired, Daddy?” she asked. “Perhaps I am asking too much of
you.”

“Oh, I guess I can stand it,” he replied. “It won’t take much longer to
make that hill.”

The great grove of chestnut trees now towered above them. Yes, there
were voices--girls’ voices, too!

“I hear someone,” announced Dorothy, as she stepped over a small
rivulet.

“Yes, so do I,” said the Major. “But it is hardly likely our little
friend would be with a crowd of school girls--see, there is the
teacher!”

Dorothy’s heart sank. There was the teacher, sure enough, and the
girls--

Urania was not one of them!



CHAPTER XXV

DOROTHY AND HER CHUMS


The disappointment was keen--Dorothy had felt Urania must be near, but
instead of finding a lonely girl, she and the Major encountered a group
of school girls on a nutting party, all joyous and seemingly filled
with the very enthusiasm of the autumn day itself.

No need to make inquiries of them--Urania would never allow herself to
be seen by this party.

“I suppose we will have to go home,” said Dorothy sadly, as Major Dale
showed plainly signs of fatigue.

“If you are satisfied we have looked thoroughly,” answered the Major.
“But I am not willing to give up the search until you say so.”

“I don’t know where else we can look,” replied Dorothy, with a catch in
her voice.

“But there may be spots nearer home,” suggested Major Dale. “You know
we made sure of the faraway places, but how about those in our own
neighborhood?”

“Oh, yes. We never looked in the swamp!”

“And there is a cave there?”

“Indeed there is. Oh, do let us hurry before it gets too dark. How
queer I should never think of that cave!”

“Not so very queer, either,” replied the father, “considering the good
reason you had to forget it. However, we will make just one more look.”

It seemed to Dorothy that the shadows of night came down
immediately--she wanted the light so much!

Over small hills and along winding paths they went, Major Dale keeping
up with small effort to the light step of his daughter beside him.

“I would be frightened to death if you were not along,” Dorothy took
breath to say. “I think this is the most lonely part of all our
woodlands.”

“Is that the swamp?” asked the Major, looking toward a deep ravine that
indicated a drop in the grade of the forest land.

“Yes,” replied Dorothy, “and the cave is at the other end.”

“Why, there are the ruins of the old Hastings homestead. Queer I never
explored these parts, as long as I have been around here. We used to
tramp through the Hasting’s farm years ago, but of late I had entirely
forgotten the place.”

“The cave is the old ice house, I believe,” said Dorothy. “See, there
it is, against that hill.”

“And I just thought I saw something dart through those bushes. See that
brush move?”

“Oh, do you suppose it might be tramps?” asked Dorothy, trembling.

“Not likely. Tramps, as a rule, do not move with that speed. It might
be a young deer, or--a young girl!”

They were but a few feet away from the cave now, and Dorothy drew back
while her father advanced.

“Anybody in there?” he asked gently, fearing that a male voice might
alarm the gypsy girl, were she in the old ice house.

There was no answer.

“I could almost say that darting figure went in there,” said Major
Dale. “Suppose you call, daughter.”

“Urania!” called Dorothy, “Urania, it is only Dorothy and Major Dale.
You need not be afraid!”

The Major was close to the door of the cave. It made Dorothy think of
the dreadful hour she had hidden there, and how she then feared to
answer the call of her friends.

“I heard something. I’ll just take a look--”

Major Dale put his head under the brick arch at the door. “Well,
girl--” he exclaimed. “Come out, we are friends.” And the next instant
Dorothy, too, was in the cave, standing beside the speechless gypsy
girl!

“Oh, come! Hurry, do!” pleaded Dorothy, but the girl neither spoke nor
moved.

“Are you ill?” asked the Major, looking around the dark place, hoping
to find some means of making a light.

“Urania!” Dorothy kept pleading, holding the hand of the girl who was
now crouching on the damp ground. “Do try to come outside. No one will
harm you. We came to tell you that it was all a mistake, and that you
are free to come and go as you please. You will even be given some
money. The men know they have wronged you--” She was talking hurriedly
without regard to word or sentence. She was trying to make Urania
understand--to rouse her to some consciousness.

“Have you any sort of light?” asked the Major, for he had searched in
vain, and it was now really dark.

Urania crawled over to a huge stone, then she put her hand up to the
brick wall that lined the place. For a few moments she fumbled about,
but seemed too weak to make further effort.

“I can’t,” she said at last. “There is--a candle there--behind the lose
brick!”

It took but a second for Major Dale to locate the spot, and but a
moment longer to have the candle lighted.

Then they could see Urania! And they could see that place!

“Oh, you poor, dear child!” sobbed Dorothy. “Why did you not let me
know?”

The dark eyes flashed and Urania showed she was not yet too weak to
smile.

“And it is all safe?” she asked, wearily.

“All entirely safe,” answered Major Dale. “But you are not safe here.
It is a wonder you have lived--hurry! We must get across the swamp
quickly to reach the road before it is dangerously dark.”

“Can you walk?” asked Dorothy, anxiously.

“Oh, yes--I can now,” replied Urania, “but I was so scared at first,
and I have been--out looking for some berries. I can’t believe I will
not have to run--any more.”

“And I can’t believe that I have really found you,” said Dorothy. “We
have been looking all day long.”

“Come, come,” urged the Major, “you young ladies may talk after we get
home.”

They made their way to the door, and the Major extinguished the candle.

“Oh, wait!” exclaimed Urania, “I must go back. I forgot something.”

“Can you see?” asked the Major.

“I don’t believe I can,” replied Urania. “Would you mind holding the
light?”

The Major re-lighted the candle and again entered the cave. Urania
walked over to the far corner and took some bricks out of the wall.
Major Dale held the candle close to her shoulder.

“It was here to-day,” she said. “Oh, yes, I have it. Just move that
brick--”

Dorothy pressed closely to Urania, and she drew away the brick that now
threatened to fall in on the hand of the gypsy girl.

“There!” said Urania, “Do you know what this is?”

“Oh!” screamed Dorothy, “Aunt Winnie’s East Indian cup!”

“Well--I give--up!” was all Major Dale seemed able to say, as he took
from the hand of the gypsy girl the treasured relic.

“And you hid it there?” asked Dorothy, taking the cup from her father
and holding it up to the candle light.

“No, indeed,” answered the girl. “I found it there. The men had the
hole in the wall for their stuff, I suppose, and they saved the cup to
drink out of.”

“Oh, how delighted Aunt Winnie will be,” exclaimed Dorothy. “Do let us
hurry. She has been constantly worrying over the loss of this--it was
to be given to Ned when he came of age.”

“That cup was the gift of an East Indian nobleman,” remarked Major
Dale. “Urania, you have repaid us now for all our trouble.”

An hour later Urania had been bathed, dressed and fed by her friends
at the Cedars. Mrs. White personally helped the maid to look after
the girl’s wants, while Dorothy and Miette brought from their own
belongings such articles as seemed fitting to make the poor, miserable,
haunted gypsy girl comfortable at last.

Mrs. White had already telephoned to the boys at Cadet Hall, telling
them the cup had been found. Major Dale took delight in imparting the
same news to the local authorities.

“And now,” said Mrs. White, “since we have found Urania, and she has
found the cup, I suppose I shall have to give her that brand new
one-hundred-dollar bill I have been saving as the cup reward.”

Dorothy and Miette tried to make Urania understand--she seemed so
queer, stunned, or shocked.

“Won’t that be wonderful?” said Miette, smiling.

“And won’t we have great times?” went on Dorothy, slightly lowering the
head of the steamer chair in which Urania was pillowed.

Urania looked around her, in a strange, startled way. Then she took
Dorothy’s hand. “I think I’ll like to go to school now,” she stammered.

“Of course you will,” spoke Mrs. White. “You want to be just like the
other girls, smart, clean and--pretty. Then you, too, may be one of
Dorothy’s chums!”

“Yes! yes! always!” murmured Urania. “She is so good!”

Here let me add a few more words, and then bring my tale to a close.

Some days later Dorothy and Miette returned to Glenwood and were
royally received by both teachers and scholars. Miette gave her party,
and never had the school seen a better time.

On the same day that the girls returned to their studies word came
in that the last of the thieving gypsies had been captured and put in
jail. When Urania heard this she breathed a sigh of satisfaction.

“I want never to see them again--never!” she told Mrs. White.

At the school, Dorothy was also glad the men had been captured. She ran
to tell Tavia.

“Well, that ends all your troubles, Dorothy,” said Tavia. “Now you can
study--and win that prize you are after!”

“I trust my troubles are over,” answered Dorothy. But she could not
look into the future. Many things were still to happen, and what some
of them were I shall relate in another book, to be called, “Dorothy
Dale’s Queer Holidays.” Queer indeed were the doings of those days--and
wonderful as well.

“It is such a grand thing to have you back at Glenwood!” cried
Rose-Mary, one day, as she caught Dorothy in her arms and hugged her.
“When you were away--it was just as if something was missing!”

“We moped and moped,” said Edna. “Just like hens in wet weather.”

“We can’t do without our Dorothy!” finished Tavia. “We want her with
us--always!”

And then the girls joined hands in a circle and began to caper and
dance; and thus let us leave them.



      *      *      *      *      *      *



Transcriber’s note:

Punctuation has been standardised. Other changes made to the original
publication are as follows:

  Page 23
    hugh white cat sat _changed to_
    huge white cat sat

  Page 28
    the the road was not far away _changed to_
    the road was not far away

  Page 41
    easy to replace mere mercandise _changed to_
    easy to replace mere merchandise

  Page 44
    is a srawl, too scrawly for me _changed to_
    is a scrawl, too scrawly for me

  Page 46
    Alladin and the seven Robbers _changed to_
    Aladdin and the seven Robbers

  Page 46
    wtih much seriousness _changed to_
    with much seriousness

  Page 81
    two whole days or a little check _changed to_
    two whole days for a little check

  Page 127
    Mrs. Panghorn had intended calling _changed to_
    Mrs. Pangborn had intended calling

  Page 135
    sweater, and your Tam O’shanter _changed to_
    sweater, and your Tam O’Shanter

  Page 136
    a hugh bunch of sumac berries _changed to_
    a huge bunch of sumac berries

  Page 145
    were so stingy about you old walk _changed to_
    were so stingy about your old walk

  Page 151
    bunch of green burrs go _changed to_
    bunch of green burs go

  Page 183
    about able to take of a little _changed to_
    about able to take care of a little

  Page 189
    exclaimed he officer _changed to_
    exclaimed the officer

  Page 209
    caves with walls of hugh stones _changed to_
    caves with walls of huge stones

  Page 212
    Fron an envelope in the packet _changed to_
    From an envelope in the packet

  Page 214
    met this little heroine,” she smiled _changed to_
    met this little heroine,” he smiled

  Page 220
    with a michievous shake _changed to_
    with a mischievous shake

  Page 234
    of the wherabout of this gypsy _changed to_
    of the whereabout of this gypsy

  Page 234
    look for anything inn vain _changed to_
    look for anything in vain





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