Grace Harlowe's Third Year at Overton College
By JESSIE GRAHAM FLOWER, A. M.
Author of The Grace Harlowe High School Girls Series, Grace Harlowe's First Year at Overton College, Grace Harlowe's Second Year at Overton College, Grace Harlowe's Fourth Year at Overton College.
PHILADELPHIA HENRY ALTEMUS COMPANY Copyright, 1914
I. The Last Evening at Home
II. The Arrival of Kathleen
III. First Impressions
IV. Getting Acquainted with the Newspaper Girl
V. Two Is a Company
VI. An Unsuspected Listener
VII. An Unpleasant Summons
VIII. Elfreda Prophecies Trouble
IX. Opening the Bazaar
X. The Alice in Wonderland Circus
XI. Grace Meets With a Rebuff
XII. Thanksgiving at Overton
XIII. Arline Makes the Best of a Bad Matter
XIV. Planning the Christmas Dinner
XV. A Tissue Paper Tea
XVI. A Doubtful Victory
XVII. Hippy Looks Mysterious
XVIII. Old Jean's Story
XIX. Telling Ruth the News
XX. Elfreda Realizes Her Ambition
XXI. Alberta Keeps Her Promise
XXII. Grace's Plan
XXIII. What Emma Dean Forgot
LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS
The Eight Originals Were Spending a Last Evening Together.
The Emerson Twins Looked Realistically Japanese.
"Here is the Letter You Wrote the Dean."
"She was Standing Close to the Door."
Grace Harlowe's Third Year at Overton College
THE LAST EVENING AT HOME
"Now, then, everyone join in the chorus," commanded Hippy Wingate. There was an answering tinkle from Reddy's mandolin, the deeper notes of a guitar sounded, then eight care-free young voices were raised in the plaintive chorus of "My Old Kentucky Home."
It was a warm night in September. Miriam Nesbit and seven of the Eight Originals were spending a last evening together on the Harlowes' hospitable veranda. They were on the eve of separation. The following day would witness Nora's and Jessica's departure for the conservatory. Grace and Miriam would return to Overton at the beginning of the next week, and the latter part of the same week would find the four young men entered upon their senior year in college.
"Very fine, indeed," commented Hippy, "but in order to sing properly one ought to drink a great deal of lemonade. It is very conducive to a grand opera voice," he added, confiscating several cakes from the plate Grace passed to him and holding out his empty lemonade glass.
"But you haven't a grand opera voice," protested David. "That is only a flimsy excuse."
"We won't discuss the matter in detail," returned Hippy with dignity. "I am prepared to prove the truth of what I say. I will now render a selection from 'Il Trovatore.' I will sing the imprisoned lover's song—"
"Not if I have anything to say about it," growled Reddy.
"Suit yourself, suit yourself," declared Hippy, shrugging his shoulders. "You boys will be sorry if you don't let me sing, though."
"Is that a threat?" inquired Tom Gray with pretended belligerence.
"A threat?" repeated Hippy. "No, it is a fact. I am contemplating a terrible revenge. That is, I haven't really begun to contemplate it yet. I am just getting ready. But when I do start—well, you'll see."
"I think it would be delightful to hear you sing, 'Ah, I Have Sighed to Rest Me,' Hippy," broke in Nora sweetly, a mischievous twinkle in her eyes.
"Can I believe my ears? The stony, unsympathetic Nora O'Malley agrees with me at last. She likes my voice; she wishes to hear me sing, 'Ah, I Have Sighed to Rest Me.' 'Tis true, I have sighed to rest me a great many times, particularly in the morning when the alarm clock put an end to my dreams. It is a beautiful selection."
"Then, why not sing it?" asked Nora demurely.
"Because I don't know it," replied Hippy promptly.
"Just as I suspected," commented Nora in disgust. "That is precisely why I asked you to sing."
"What made you suspect me?" inquired Hippy, apparently impressed.
"I suspected you on general principles," was the retort.
"If you had had any general principles you wouldn't have suspected me," parried Hippy.
"I won't even think about you the next time," was the withering reply. Nora rose and made her way to the other end of the veranda, perching on the porch railing beside Tom Gray.
"Come back, Nora," wailed Hippy. "You may suspect me."
"Isn't he too ridiculous for anything?" whispered Nora, smothering a giggle and trying to look severe. Her attempt failed ignominiously when Hippy, with an exaggeratedly contrite expression on his fat face, sidled up to her, salaamed profoundly, lost his balance and sprawled on all fours at her feet. A shout of merriment arose from his friends. Hippy, unabashed, scrambled to his feet and began bowing again before Nora, this time taking care not to bend too far forward.
"You are forgiven, Hippy," declared Miriam. "Nora, don't allow your old friend and playmate to dislocate his spine in his efforts to show his sorrow."
"You may stop bowing," said Nora grudgingly. "I suppose I'll have to forgive you."
Hippy promptly straightened up and perched himself on the railing beside Nora.
"I didn't say you might sit here," teased Nora.
"I know it," replied Hippy coolly. "Still, you would be deeply, bitterly disappointed if I didn't."
"Perhaps I should," admitted Nora. "I suppose you might as well stay," she added with affected carelessness.
"Thank you," retorted Hippy. "But I had made up my mind not to move."
"Had you?" said Nora indifferently, turning her back on Hippy and addressing Tom Gray. Whereupon Hippy raised his voice in a loud monologue that entirely drowned Tom's and Nora's voices.
"For goodness' sake, say something that will please him, Nora," begged Tom. "This is awful."
Hippy babbled on, apparently oblivious of everyone.
"I have something very important to tell you, Hippy," interposed Nora slyly.
Hippy stopped talking. "What is it?" he asked suspiciously.
"Come over to the other end of the veranda and find out," said Nora enigmatically.
Hippy accepted the invitation promptly, and followed Nora to the end of the veranda, unmindful of Tom Gray's jeers about idle curiosity.
Those who read "Grace Harlowe's Plebe Year at High School," "Grace Harlowe's Sophomore Year at High School," "Grace Harlowe's Junior Year at High School" and "Grace Harlowe's Senior Year at High School" will have no trouble in recognizing every member of the merry party of young folks who had taken possession of the Harlowes' veranda. The doings of Tom, Hippy, David, Reddy, Nora, Jessica, Anne and Grace have been fully narrated in the "High School Girls Series." There, too, appeared Miriam Nesbit, Eva Allen, Eleanor Savelli and Marian Barber, together with the four chums, as members of the famous sorority, the Phi Sigma Tau.
With the close of their high school days the little clan had been separated, although David, Reddy and Hippy were on the eve of beginning their senior year in the same college. Nora and Jessica were attending the same conservatory, while Grace, Anne and Miriam Nesbit were students at Overton College.
During their freshman year at Overton, set forth in "Grace Harlowe's First Year at Overton College," the three girls had not met with altogether plain sailing. There had been numerous hitches, the most serious one having been caused by their championship of J. Elfreda Briggs, a freshman, who had unfortunately incurred the dislike of several mischievous sophomores. Through the prompt, sensible action of Grace, assisted by her friends, Elfreda was restored to favor by her class and became one of Grace's staunchest friends.
"Grace Harlowe's Second Year at Overton College" found the three friends sophomores, and wholly devoted to Overton and its traditions. Their sophomore days brought them a variety of experiences, pleasant and unpleasant, and, as in their freshman year, Grace and Miriam distinguished themselves on the basketball field. It was during this year that the Semper Fidelis Club was organized for the purpose of helping needy students through college, and that Eleanor Savelli, the daughter of a world-renowned virtuoso, and one of the Phi Sigma Tau, visited Grace and helped to plan a concert which netted the club two hundred dollars and a substantial yearly subscription from an interested outsider. The difficulties that arose over a lost theme and the final outcome of the affair proved Grace Harlowe to be the same honorable, straightforward young woman who had endeared herself to the reader during her high school days.
"Why doesn't some one sing?" asked Grace plaintively. A brief silence had fallen upon the little group at one end of the veranda, broken only by Nora's and Hippy's argumentative voices.
"Because both the someones are too busy to sing," laughed Jessica, casting a significant glance toward the end of the veranda.
"Hippy, Nora," called David, "come over here and sing."
"'Sing, sing, what shall I sing?'" chanted Hippy. "Shall it be a sweetly sentimental ditty, or shall I sing of brooks and meadows, fields and flowers?"
"Sing that funny one you sang for the fellows the night of the Pi Ipsilon dinner," urged David.
"Very well," beamed Hippy. "Remember, to the singer belongs the food. I always negotiate for refreshments before lifting up my voice in song."
"I will see that you are taken care of, Hippy," smiled Mrs. Harlowe, who had come out on the veranda in time to hear Hippy's declaration.
"Hello, Mother dear," called Grace, "I didn't know you were there."
The young people were on their feet in an instant. Grace led her mother to a chair. "Stay with us awhile, Mother," she said. "Hippy is going to sing, and Nora, too."
"Then I shall surely stay," replied Mrs. Harlowe. "And after the songs you must come into the house and be my guests. The table is set for seven."
"How nice in you, Mother!" exclaimed Grace, kissing her mother's cheek. "You are always doing the things that make people happy. Nora and Hippy, please sing your very best for Mother. You first, Hippy, because I want Nora to sing Tosti's 'Serenata,' and a comic song afterward will completely spoil the effect."
Hippy sang two songs in his own inimitable fashion. Then Nora's sweet, high soprano voice began the "Serenata" to the subdued tinkling accompaniment of Reddy's mandolin. Two years in the conservatory had done much for Nora's voice, though its plaintive sweetness had been her natural heritage. As they listened to the clear, rounded tones, with just a suspicion of sadness in them, the little company realized to a person that Nora's hopes of becoming known in the concert or grand opera world were quite likely to be fulfilled.
"How I wish Anne were here to-night," lamented Grace, after having vigorously applauded Nora's song. "She loves to hear you sing, Nora."
"I know it," sighed Nora. "Dear little Anne! I'm so sorry we can't see her before we go back to the conservatory. While we have been sitting here singing and enjoying ourselves, Anne has been appearing in her farewell performance. I am glad we had a chance to visit her this summer, even though we had to cross the state to do it."
"She will be here to-morrow night, but we shall be at the end of our journey by that time," lamented Jessica. "I wish we might stay and see her, but we can't."
"Never mind, you will meet her at Christmas time, when the Eight Originals gather home," comforted Miriam.
"But we'd like to see her now," interposed David mournfully. "What is Oakdale without Anne?"
At that moment Mrs. Harlowe, who, after Nora's song, had excused herself and gone into the house, appeared in the door.
"Come, children," she smiled, "the feast is spread."
"May I escort you to the table?" asked David gravely, offering her his arm. Heading the little procession, they led the way to the dining room, followed by Reddy and Jessica, Hippy and Nora, Grace, Tom and Miriam.
There for the next hour goodfellowship reigned supreme, and when at last the various members of the little clan departed for home, each one carried in his or her heart the conviction that Life could never offer anything more desirable than these happy evenings which they had spent together.
"I can't tell you how much I missed Anne to-night," said Grace to her mother as, arm in arm, they stood on the veranda watching their guests until they had turned the corner of the next street.
"We all missed her," replied her mother, "but I believe David felt her absence even more keenly than we did. He is very fond of Anne. I wonder if she realizes that he really loves her, and that he will some day tell her so? She is such a quiet, self-contained little girl. Her emotions are all kept for her work."
"I believe she does," said Grace. "She has never spoken of it to me. David has been her faithful knight ever since her freshman year at high school, so she ought to have a faint inkling of what the rest of us know. I am sorry for David. Anne's art is a powerful rival, and she is growing fonder of it with every season. If, after she finishes college, she were to marry David, she would be obliged to give it up. Since the Southards came into her life she has grown to love her profession so dearly that I don't imagine she would sacrifice it even for David's sake."
"It sounds rather strange to hear my little girl talking so wisely of other people's love affairs," smiled Mrs. Harlowe almost wistfully.
"I know what you are thinking, Motherkin," responded Grace, slipping both arms about her mother and drawing her gently into the big porch swing. "You needn't be afraid, though. I don't feel in the least sentimental over any one, not even Tom Gray, and I like him better than any other young man I know. I am far more concerned over what to do once I have finished college. I simply must work, but I haven't yet found my vocation. Neither has Miriam. Jessica thinks she has found hers, but she found Reddy first, and he does not intend that she shall lose sight of him. Hippy and Nora are a great deal fonder of each other than appears on the surface, too. Their disagreements are never private. Nora said the other day that she and Hippy had had only one quarrel, and—this is the funniest bit of news you ever heard, Mother—it was because Hippy became jealous of a violinist Nora knows at the conservatory. Imagine Hippy as being jealous!"
Grace talked on to her mother of her friends and of herself while Mrs. Harlowe listened, thinking happily that she was doubly blessed in not only her daughter, but in having that daughter's confidence as well.
THE ARRIVAL OF KATHLEEN
"There is a whole lot in getting accustomed to things," remarked J. Elfreda Briggs sagely, as she stood with a hammer and nail in one hand, a Japanese print in the other, her round eyes scanning the wall for an appropriate place to hang her treasure.
"It's a beauty, isn't it?" declared Miriam, passing over her roommate's remark and looking admiringly at the print, which her roommate had just taken from her trunk.
"What, this?" asked Elfreda. "You'd better believe it is. Goodness knows I paid enough for it. But I wasn't talking about this print. I was talking about our present junior estate. What I wonder is, whether being a junior will go to my head and make me vainglorious or whether I shall wear the honor as a graceful crown," ended the stout girl with an affected smile, which changed immediately to a derisive grin.
"I should say, neither," responded Miriam slyly. "I don't believe anything would ever go to your head. You're too matter-of-fact, and as for your graceful crown, it would be over one ear within half an hour."
Both girls laughed, then Elfreda, having found a spot on the wall that met with her approval, set the nail and began hammering. "There!" she exclaimed with satisfaction. "That is exactly where I want it. Now I can begin to think about something else."
"I wonder why Grace and Anne haven't paid us a call this morning?" mused Miriam, who sat listlessly before her trunk, apparently undecided whether to begin the tedious labor of unpacking or to put it off until some more convenient day.
"I'll go and find them," volunteered Elfreda, dropping her hammer and turning toward the door. "They must be at home." Five minutes later she raced back with the news that their door was locked and the "out indefinitely" sign was displayed.
"That is very strange," pondered Miriam, aloud. "I wonder where they have gone?"
"Why on earth didn't they tell us they were going? That's what I'd like to know," declared Elfreda.
"Perhaps Mrs. Elwood knows something about it," suggested Miriam.
The mere mention of Mrs. Elwood's name caused Elfreda to dart through the hall and downstairs to the living-room in search of the good-natured matron. Failing to find her, she walked through the kitchen to the shady back porch, where Mrs. Elwood sat rocking and reading the newspaper which the newsboy had just brought.
"Oh, Mrs. Elwood," she cried, "have you seen Grace and Anne? We can't find them."
"Didn't Miss Dean tell you?" asked Mrs. Elwood in a surprised tone.
"Miss Dean," repeated Elfreda disgustedly. "No wonder we didn't know what had become of them. With all Emma's estimable qualities, she is the one person I know whom I would not trust to deliver a message. I beg your pardon, Mrs. Elwood, I didn't mean that you were in any sense to blame. We ought to have warned you, only Emma is such a splendid girl that one hates to mention a silly little thing like that. Just forget that I said it, will you?"
Mrs. Elwood smiled. "I quite understand, Miss Briggs," she said gravely. "The message Miss Harlowe left with me was this: 'If the girls ask where we have gone, tell them that we received a telegram and had to go to the station. All explanations when we come back.'"
"That settles it," groaned Elfreda. "We know only enough to whet our curiosity. And we can't find out more unless we follow them to the station. We can't do that, either. It would not look well. Besides, we are not invited." Elfreda had been rapidly reflecting aloud, much to Mrs. Elwood's amusement. "I'll have to go back and tell Miriam," she finished.
"But why did they lock their door?" asked Miriam, when Elfreda had repeated her information.
"I don't know," returned Elfreda thoughtfully. "Yes, I do know!" she exclaimed with sudden inspiration. "I think Grace was afraid she might have a repetition of last year's performance."
"'Last year's performance,'" repeated Miriam in a puzzled tone.
"Yes, don't you remember the Anarchist?" retorted Elfreda, with a reminiscent grin.
"Of course!" exclaimed Miriam, laughing a little at the recollection. "Wasn't she formidable, though, when she slammed the door in our faces?"
Elfreda nodded. "She is all right now. At least she was when she visited me. I never saw a girl blossom and expand as she did. Pa liked her. He thought she was smart. She is, too. She has lived so entirely with that scientific father of hers that she has absorbed all sorts of odds and ends of knowledge from him. That is why college and girls and the whole thing terrified her."
"Terrified her," said Miriam incredulously. "I thought matters quite the reverse."
"That was precisely what I thought until she told me that, no matter how vengeful she looked, she was always afraid of the girls. She never seemed to be able to say the right thing at the right moment. That was why she used to scowl so fiercely when any one spoke or looked at her."
"I don't think it was altogether fear of the girls that caused her to lock us out that day," observed Miriam, a gleam of laughter appearing in her black eyes.
"I don't suppose it was," retorted Elfreda good-humoredly. "She says she knows her disposition to be anything but angelic. But she is trying, Miriam. You wait and see for yourself how the new Laura Atkins behaves."
"But to go back to the subject of the door, what makes you think Grace locked it on account of last year?" persisted Miriam.
"Oh, I don't know," answered Elfreda vaguely. "I just thought so, that's all."
"We'll ask her when she comes, just for fun," declared Miriam. "Why not go downstairs and sit on the back veranda with Mrs. Elwood? We can hear the girls as soon as they come into the yard."
"All right," agreed Elfreda. "Do you care if I take my magazine along? I am not quite through with an article I began this morning."
"I object seriously," smiled Miriam. "I shall expect you to entertain me. You can finish reading your article later."
Elfreda glanced up quickly from the magazine she held in her hand. Then, catching sight of her friend's smiling face, she tucked her magazine under one arm, linked her free arm through Miriam's and marched her toward the stairs. They had reached the foot of the stairs and were half way down the hall when the sound of voices caused both girls to stand still, listening intently.
"That sounds like Grace's voice!" exclaimed Elfreda. With one accord they turned about, hurrying to the veranda at the front of the house in time to see Grace and Anne approaching. Both girls were laden with luggage, while between them walked an alert little figure, tugging a bag of golf sticks, a fat, black leather hand bag and a camera.
"What manner of woman have we here?" muttered Elfreda, regarding the newcomer with quizzical eyes.
But before Miriam found time to reply the newcomer set her luggage in the middle of the walk, and running up to Miriam and Elfreda, said with a frank laugh: "This is Miriam and this is Elfreda. You see I know both of you from Mabel's description."
"Who—what—" began Elfreda.
"Girls," said Grace, who had by this time come up with the animated stranger, "this is Miss West, a friend of Mabel Ashe's. My telegram was from Mabel asking me to meet Miss West, and as Anne and I were on the porch when it came, and the train we were to meet was due, we didn't stop for explanations or hats, but raced down the street as fast as we could go."
While Grace was talking, Kathleen West was shaking hands vigorously with Miriam and Elfreda. "I'm so glad to know you," she said, "and I think I'm going to like you. I'm not so sure about liking college, even though I've worked so hard to get here. I hope to goodness I don't flunk in the exams."
"I am sure that any friend of Mabel's is bound to be ours also," said Miriam courteously. She had not made up her mind regarding the newcomer.
"Thank you. From what she said I should imagine that you and she were on very good terms," returned the stranger lightly. "Of course you know who I am and all about me."
Grace smiled. "Not yet, but we are willing to hear anything you wish to tell us."
"Oh, that's so!" exclaimed the stranger. "Mabel wrote about me, but her letter hasn't reached you yet, and, of course, telegrams can't be very lengthy unless you wish to spend a fortune or the office has a franchise. There I go again about the office. I might as well tell the truth and have done with it: I'm a newspaper woman."
Miriam smiled involuntarily, Grace looked surprised, Elfreda indifferent, and Anne amused. The word "woman" seemed absurdly out of place from the lips of this girl who looked as though she had just been promoted to long dresses.
"Oh, yes, I know I look not more than eighteen," quickly remarked Kathleen West, noticing Miriam's smile. "But I'm not. I'm twenty-two years old, and I've been on a newspaper for four years. Why, that's the way I earned my money to come here. I'll tell you about it some other time. It's too long a story for now. Besides, I'm hungry. At what time are we to be fed and are the meals good? I have no illusions regarding boarding houses."
"The meals are excellent," replied Anne. "You must have dinner with us. Then we will see about securing a room for you. I think you will be able to get in here. This used to be considered a freshman house, but all those who were freshmen with us have stayed on, and if last year's freshmen stay, too, then Wayne Hall will be full and—"
"I won't get in," finished the young woman calmly.
"Come into the house now and meet Mrs. Elwood," invited Grace. "Then you can learn your fate."
"Yes, I can just make room for you," Mrs. Elwood was saying a few minutes later. "Miss Evans is not coming back, and Miss Acker is going to Livingstone Hall. Her two particular friends are there. Miss Dean wishes to room alone this year, so that disposes of the vacancy left by Miss Acker. But the half of the room Miss Evans had is not occupied. It is on the second floor at the east end of the hall."
"Then I'll take it," returned Kathleen promptly, "and move in at once. I may not stay here long, but at least I'll be happy while I stay. But if I should survive all these exams, there will be cause for rejoicing and I'll give a frolic that you will all remember, or my name's not Kathleen West. Is there any one who would love to help me upstairs with my things?"
"Well, what do you think of her?" asked Elfreda abruptly. Having helped Kathleen to her room with her luggage they had left her to herself and were now in their own room. Miriam stood looking out the window, her hands behind her back. At Elfreda's question she turned, looked thoughtfully at her roommate, then said slowly: "I don't know. I haven't decided. She's friendly and enthusiastic and hard and indifferent all in the same moment. I think her work has made her so. I believe she has hidden her inner self away so deep that she has forgotten what the real Kathleen is like."
"I believe so, too, Miriam," agreed Elfreda. "I could see that you weren't favorably impressed with her. I could see—"
"You see entirely too much," laughed Miriam. "I haven't even formed an opinion of Miss West yet. I wonder how long she has known Mabel Ashe? Not very long, I'll wager."
An hour later Grace appeared in the door, waving a letter. "Here's Mabel's letter!" she cried. "Come into my room, and we will read it."
"The letter was not far behind the telegram," remarked Anne, as she closed the door of their room and seated herself on the couch beside Miriam.
"Do hurry, Grace, and read us what Mabel has to offer on the subject of Kathleen Mavourneen—West, I mean," corrected Elfreda with a giggle.
Grace unfolded the letter and began to read:
"MY DEAR GRACE:—
"Please forgive me for neglecting you so shamefully, but I am now wrestling with a real job on a real newspaper and am so occupied with trying to keep it that I haven't had time to think of anything else. Father is deeply disgusted with my journalistic efforts. He wished me to go to Europe this summer, but the light of ambition burns too vividly to be quenched even by my beloved Europe. When next I go abroad it will be with my own hard-earned wages.
"I haven't done anything startling yet; I have been chronicling faithfully the doings of society. As most of the elect are out of town, my news gathering has not been in the nature of a harvest. However, I am still striving, still hoping for the day when I shall leave society far behind and sally forth on the trail of a big story.
"But, I am diverging from one of the chief purposes of this letter. It is to introduce to you Kathleen West, an ambitious and particularly clever young woman, who is a 'star' reporter on this paper. It seems that she and I have changed ambitions. I sigh for journalistic fame, and she sighs for college. She has done more than sigh. She has been saving her money for ever so long, determined to take unto herself a college education. I admire her spirit and have praised Overton so warmly—how could I help it?—that she has decided to cast her lot there. Hence my telegram, also this letter. Please be as nice with her as you know how to be, for I am sure she will prove herself a credit to Overton.
"I shall hope to see you some time during the fall. I am going to try to get a day or two off and run down to see you. Tell Anne the Press is greater than the Stage, and tell Elfreda and Miriam that I am collecting the autographs of famous people and that theirs would be greatly appreciated, particularly if attached to letters. I must bring this epistle to an abrupt close, and go out on the trail of an engagement, the rumor of which was whispered to me last night. With love to you and the girls.
"P. S. Frances sails for home next week."
"What a nice letter," commented Elfreda. "It is just like her, isn't it!"
"Yes," replied Grace slowly. "Girls, do you suppose Mabel and Miss West are really friends?"
"Not as we are," replied Miriam, with a positive shake of her head. "Elfreda and I were talking of that very thing while you were in your room. Elfreda said she didn't believe that Mabel had known Miss West long."
"What is the matter with us?" asked Grace, a trifle impatiently. "Here we are prowling about the bush, trying to conceal under polite inquiry the fact that we don't quite approve of Miss West. We would actually like to dig up something to criticize."
"There is nothing like absolute freedom of speech, is there?" said Elfreda, with a short laugh.
"It is true, though," said Grace stoutly. "It isn't fair, either. She has done nothing to deserve it. Besides, Mabel likes her."
"Mabel doesn't say in her letter that she likes her," reminded Anne. "She says Miss West is clever and that she admires her spirit."
"You, too, Anne?" said Grace reproachfully.
"I don't like her," declared Elfreda belligerently. "If it weren't for Mabel's letter I'd leave her strictly to her own devices."
"We ought to be ashamed of ourselves!" exclaimed Grace. "We have met Miss West with smiles, and here we are discussing her behind her back."
"I didn't meet her with smiles," contradicted Elfreda. "I was as sober as a judge all the time we stood talking to her. She is too flippant to suit me. She doesn't take college very seriously. I could see that."
"There goes the dinner bell!" exclaimed Grace, with sudden irrelevance to the subject of the newspaper girl. "Let us stop gossiping and go to dinner."
At dinner Grace was not sorry to note that Kathleen West had been placed at the end of the table farthest from her. Through the meal she found her eyes straying often toward the erect little figure of the newcomer, who, exhibiting not a particle of reserve, chatted with the girls nearest to her with the utmost unconcern. "I suppose her newspaper training has made her self-possessed and not afraid of strangers," reflected Grace. But she could not refrain from secretly wondering a little just how strong a friendship existed between Kathleen West and Mabel.
GETTING ACQUAINTED WITH THE NEWSPAPER GIRL
"It was just this way," began Kathleen West, setting down her tea cup and looking impressively from one girl to the other, "Long before I graduated from high school I had made up my mind to go to college. Now that I have passed my exams and have become a really truly freshman, I'll tell you all about it."
Elfreda and Miriam were giving a tea party with Grace, Anne and Kathleen West as their guests. It was a strictly informal tea and both hostesses and guests sat on the floor in true Chinese fashion, kimono-clad and comfortable. A week had passed since Kathleen's advent among them. She had spent the greater part of that time either in study or in valiant wrestling with the dreaded entrance examinations, but she had managed, nevertheless, to drop into the girls' rooms at least once a day. In spite of the almost unfavorable impression she had at first created, it was impossible not to acknowledge that the newspaper girl possessed a vividly interesting personality. As she sat wrapped in the folds of her gray kimono, arms folded over her chest, she looked not unlike a feminine Napoleon. Elfreda's quick eyes traced the resemblance.
"You look for all the world like Napoleon," she observed bluntly.
"Thank you," returned Kathleen with mock gratitude. "I can't imagine Napoleon in a gray kimono at a tea party, but I feel imbued with a certain amount of his ambition. By the way, would any of you like to hear the rest of my story?" she asked impudently. "I'm rather fond of telling it."
"Excuse me for interrupting," apologized Elfreda. "Go on, please."
"Where was I?" asked Kathleen. "Oh, yes, I remember. Well, as soon as I had fully determined to go to college, I began to save every penny on which I could honestly lay hands. I went without most of the school-girl luxuries that count for so much just at that time. You girls know what I mean. Mother and Father didn't wish me to go to college. They planned a course in stenography and typewriting for me after I should finish high school, and when I pleaded for college they were angry and disappointed. They argued, too, that they couldn't possibly afford to send me there. As soon as I saw that I was going to have trouble with them, I kept my own counsel, but I was more determined than ever to do as I pleased. At the beginning of the vacation before my senior year in high school I went to the only daily paper in our town and asked for work. The editor, who had known me since I was a baby, gave me a chance. Father and Mother made no objection to that. They thought it was merely a whim on my part. But it wasn't a whim, as they found out later, for I wrote stuff for the paper during my senior year, too, and when I did graduate I turned the house upside down by getting a position on a newspaper in a big city. Father and Mother forgave me after awhile, but not until I had been at work on the other paper for a year.
"At first I did society, then clubs, went back to society again, and at last my opportunity came to do general reporting. I was the only woman on the staff who had a chance to go after the big stories. I have been doing that only the last two years, though.
"Naturally, I made more money on the paper than I would as a stenographer. I saved it, too. It was ever so much harder to hang on to it in the city. There were so many more ways to spend it. But I kept on putting it away, and, now, by going back on the paper every summer, I will have enough to see me through college."
"But why do you wish so much for a college education when you are already successful as a newspaper woman?" asked Elfreda.
"Because I want to be an author, or an editor, or somebody of importance in the literary world, and I need these four years at college. Besides, it's a good thing to bear the college stamp if one expects always to be before the public," was the prompt retort.
"Suppose you were to find afterward that you weren't going to be before the public," said Elfreda almost mischievously.
"But I shall be," persisted Kathleen, setting her jaws with a little snap. "I always accomplish whatever I set out to do. On the paper they used to say, 'Kathleen would sacrifice her best friend if by doing it she could scoop the other papers.'"
"What do you mean by 'scoop the other papers'?" queried Elfreda interestedly.
"Why, to get ahead of them with a story," explained Kathleen. "Suppose I found out an important piece of news that no one else knew. If I gave it to my paper and it appeared in it before any other newspaper got hold of it then that would be a scoop."
"Oh, yes, I see," returned Elfreda. "Then a scoop might be news about anything."
"Exactly," nodded Kathleen. "The harder the news is to get, the better story it makes. People won't tell one anything, and when one does find out something startling, then there are always a few persons who make a fuss and try to keep the story out of the paper. They generally have such splendid excuses for not wanting a story published. I never paid any attention to them, though. I turned in every story I ever ran down," she concluded, her small face setting in harsh lines.
"But didn't that make some of the people about whom the stories were written very unhappy?" asked Miriam pointedly.
"I suppose so," answered Kathleen. "But I never stopped to bother about them. I had to think of myself and of my paper."
"How long have you known Mabel Ashe?" asked Grace, abruptly changing the subject. Something in the cold indifference of Kathleen's voice jarred on her.
"Just since she appeared on the paper," returned Kathleen unconcernedly. "She is very pretty, isn't she? But prettiness alone doesn't count for much on a newspaper. Can she make good? That is the question. She imagines that journalism is her vocation, but I am afraid she is going to be sadly disillusioned. She seems to be a clever girl, though."
"Clever," repeated Grace with peculiar emphasis. "She is the cleverest girl we know. While she was at Overton, she was the life of the college. Everyone loved her. I can't begin to tell you how much we miss her."
"It's very nice to be missed, I am sure," said Kathleen hastily, retreating from what appeared to be dangerous ground. "I hope I shall be eulogized when I have graduated from Overton."
"That will depend largely on your behavior as a freshman," drawled Elfreda.
"What do you mean?" asked Kathleen sharply. "I thought freshmen were of the least importance in college."
"So they are to the other classes," returned Elfreda. "They are of the greatest importance to themselves, however, and if they make false starts during their freshman year it is likely to handicap them through the other three."
"Much obliged for the information," declared Kathleen flippantly. "I'll try not to make any false starts. Good gracious! It is half-past ten. I had no idea it was so late. I've had a lovely time at your tea party. I'm going to send out invitations for a social gathering before long." She rose lazily to her feet, and carefully set her cup on the table. "I suppose Miss Ainslee will be sound asleep," she remarked, yawning. "Lighting the gas will awaken her and she will be cross. She goes to bed with the chickens."
"Don't light it, then," suggested Grace. "You can see to undress with the blind up. There is full moon to-night."
"Why shouldn't I light it?" asked Kathleen. "Half of the room is mine. I wouldn't grumble if the case were reversed. She will soon grow used to the light. I intend occasionally to read or study after hours. Don't tell me it is against the rules. I know it. But circumstances, etc. I'll see you to-morrow. I wish I were a junior. The freshmen I have met so far are regular babies. I'm going to study hard next summer and see if I can't pass up the sophomore year. There is nothing like having a modest ambition, you know."
With this satirical comment the newspaper girl nodded a pert good night and left the room.
No one spoke after she had gone.
"I must go to bed," said Grace, breaking the significant silence that had fallen on the quartette. "Come, Anne, it's twenty minutes to eleven. Good night, girls."
"What do you think of Miss West, Anne?" asked Grace a little later as they were preparing to retire.
"I don't like to say," returned Anne slowly. "She's remarkably bright—" Anne paused. Her eyes met Grace's.
"I know," nodded Grace understandingly. "We will try to keep a starboard eye on her. She is going to find college very different from being a newspaper woman." Grace smiled faintly. The word "woman," as applied to Kathleen West, seemed wholly amusing.
"I don't think she showed particularly good taste in speaking as she did of Mabel Ashe," criticized Anne, a moment later. "I didn't intend to say that, but I might as well be perfectly frank with you, Grace."
"I was sorry she spoke as she did, too," agreed Grace. She did not add that the newspaper girl's half slighting remarks about Mabel Ashe still rankled in her loyal soul. It was chiefly to please Mabel that she and her friends had hospitably received this stranger into their midst, prepared to do whatever lay within their power to make her feel at home with them. And she had dared to speak almost disparagingly of the girl who was beloved by every student in Overton who knew her. In spite of her resolution to keep a "starboard eye" on the freshman, Grace felt infinitely more like leaving the ungrateful freshman to shift for herself.
"Well, what about her?" Elfreda asked bluntly of Miriam, as she piled the tea cups one inside the other.
"What about who?" returned Miriam tantalizingly.
"You know very well" declared Elfreda; "but, if I must be explicit, what do you think of Miss West now?"
"What do you think?" counter-questioned Miriam.
"I think she has more to learn than I had when I came here," said Elfreda speculatively, "and unless I am very much mistaken it will take her longer to learn it."
TWO IS A COMPANY
"Grace! Grace Harlowe!" called a clear, high voice. On hearing her name, Grace, who was on the point of entering the library, turned to greet Arline Thayer, who came running up the walk, flushed and laughing.
"Did you say you had won prizes as a champion fast walker?" she inquired laughingly. "I saw you clear across the campus, and I've been running at top speed ever since. I had just breath enough left to call to you. Where have you been hiding? I haven't seen you for ages. Ruth thinks you have deserted her. Don't bother going to the library now. Suppose we go down to Vinton's and have luncheon. Have you eaten yours? I never eat luncheon at Morton Hall on Saturday afternoon."
"I'll answer your questions in the order they were asked," laughed Grace. "No, I am not a champion fast walker. I haven't been hiding, and I still live at Wayne Hall, though a certain young person I know has evidently forgotten it. Ruth owes me a visit, and I haven't had my luncheon. You mustn't tempt me from my duty, for I am on the trail of knowledge. I must spend at least two hours this afternoon looking up a multitude of references."
"Come and have luncheon first and look up your references afterward," coaxed Arline. "Then, perhaps, I can help you," she added artfully.
"Perhaps you can," returned Grace dubiously. Their eyes meeting, both girls laughed.
"Come with me, at any rate, then," declared Arline.
"All right. Remember, I must not stay away from work over an hour. I really have a great deal to do. Isn't it a glorious day, though? Elfreda and Miriam went for a five-mile tramp. Elfreda is determined to play basketball in spite of her junior responsibilities, therefore she is obliged to train religiously."
"Who is going to play on the junior team this year?" asked Arline.
"Elizabeth Wade, and that little Tenbrook girl, Marian Cummings, Elfreda and Violet Darby make the team. Neither Miriam nor I intend to play. Elfreda begged hard, but we thought it better to stay out of the team this year. We have played basketball so long, and having been in two big games, it is time we resigned gracefully; besides, I want to see Elfreda reap the benefit of her faithful practice and distinguish herself. She has tried so hard to make the team."
"I am glad Elfreda is to have her chance," smiled Arline. "We are sure to see her make the most of it. I'm sorry now that I never went in for basketball."
"It is a wonderful old game!" exclaimed Grace with enthusiasm. "Last year was my sixth year on a team. I was captain of our freshman basketball team at home. That reminds me, Arline, aren't you and Ruth coming home with me for the Easter vacation? I am asking you early so no one else will have a chance. I know it is useless to ask you to come for Christmas."
"I think I can come for Easter," replied Arline, "and I don't know of any reason why Ruth can't. I shall write to Father at once and ask him if we can go. I want to tell you something, Grace—confidentially, of course. Father is very fond of Ruth. He and I had a talk this summer, and he wishes to adopt her. Just think of having Ruth for my very own sister!" Arline paused, her eyes shining.
Grace nodded understandingly. "What does Ruth say?" she asked.
Arline's face clouded. "She doesn't say anything except that she thinks it better for her to go on in her own way. She is the queerest girl. She seems to think that it wouldn't be right to allow Father to adopt her and take care of her. She says she has everything she needs now, and that I have been far too good to her. Father and I simply made her spend the summer with us."
"Wouldn't it be wonderful if Ruth should find her father?" said Grace musingly.
"I don't believe she ever will," returned Arline. "It's too bad." Her flower-like face looked very solemn for a moment, then brightened as she exclaimed: "Oh, I almost forgot my principal reason for wishing to see you. The Semper Fidelis Club hasn't held a meeting this year, and we must begin to busy ourselves. I have heard of five different girls who need help, but are too proud to ask for it. I am sure there are dozens of others, too. We must find some way to reach and help them. We have plenty of money in our treasury now, and we can afford to be generous. Here we are at Vinton's. Shall we sit in the mission alcove for luncheon? I love it. It is so convenient when one wishes to indulge in strictly confidential conversation."
Once seated opposite each other in the cunning little alcove furnished in mission oak, Arline continued animatedly:
"Last spring, when we talked about giving an entertainment, you proposed giving a carnival in the fall. Well, it is fall now, so why not begin making plans for our carnival! What shall we have, and what do we do to draw a crowd?"
"We held a bazaar in Oakdale that was very successful," commented Grace. "We held it on Thanksgiving night and half the town attended it. We made over five hundred dollars. I think a bazaar would be better than a carnival." Grace did not add that the money had been stolen while the bazaar was at its height and not recovered until the following spring, by no other person than herself.
Those who have read "Grace Harlowe's Senior Year at High School" will remember the mysterious disappearance of the bazaar money and the untiring zeal with which Grace worked until she found a clew to the robbery, which led to the astonishing discovery that she made in an isolated house on the outskirts of Oakdale.
During the progress of the luncheon Grace gave Arline a detailed account of the various attractions of which their bazaar had boasted.
"We can ask some girl who sings to preside at the Shamrock booth and sing Irish songs as Nora O'Malley did," planned Grace. "We can't have the Mystery Auction, because we don't care to ask the girls for packages, and we can't have the Italian booth, either, it would be too hard to arrange, but we can have a gypsy camp and a Japanese booth and an English tea shop and two or three funny little shows. The best thing to do is to call a meeting of the club and put the matter before them. Almost every girl will know of some feature we can have."
"I suppose the dean will allow us to use the gymnasium," mused Arline. "We had better get permission first of all. Then we can call our meeting."
Grace looked at her watch. "I've stayed ten minutes over my hour, Arline," she reminded the little curly-haired girl.
"Never mind," was the calm reply, "you can stay ten minutes longer in the library. Oh, Grace, don't look at her now, but who is that girl just sitting down at that end table? I am sure she lives at Wayne Hall. Some one told me she was a freshman."
"If you had been calling faithfully on the Wayne Hall girls, you wouldn't need to be told the names of the new ones," flung back Grace. Then, allowing her gaze to slowly travel about the room, her eyes rested as though by chance on the girl designated by Arline. An instant later she had bowed to the newcomer in friendly fashion.
"Who is she?" murmured Arline, her eyes fixed upon Grace.
"Her name is Kathleen West," returned Grace in a low tone. "Don't say anything more. Here she comes."
Kathleen was approaching their table, a bored look on her small, sharp face. "How are you?" she said nonchalantly. "I thought I'd come over here. Having tea alone is dull. Don't you think so?"
Arline's blue eyes rested on the intruder for the fraction of a second. She resented the intrusion.
"Miss West, this is Miss Thayer, of the junior class," introduced Grace good-naturedly. Both girls bowed. There was an awkward silence, broken by Kathleen's abrupt, "I knew I had seen you before, Miss Thayer," to Arline.
"That is quite possible," said Arline, rather stiffly. "I believe I remember passing you on the campus."
"Oh, I don't mean here at Overton," drawled Kathleen. "I saw you in New York with your father last summer."
"With my father?" was Arline's surprised interrogation.
"Yes. Isn't Leonard B. Thayer your father?"
"Why, how did you know? Have you met my father?" Arline's blue eyes opened wider.
"I've seen him," said Kathleen laconically. "I tried to interview him once, but couldn't get past his secretary."
"Miss West is a newspaper woman, Arline," explained Grace. "That is, she was one. She has deserted her paper for Overton, however."
"How interesting," responded Arline courteously. "Do you like college, Miss West?"
"Fairly well," answered Kathleen. "It doesn't really matter whether I like it or not. I am here for business, not pleasure. Perhaps Miss Harlowe has told you how I happened to be here."
"Miss Thayer and I had some weighty class matters to discuss," said Grace, smiling a little. "We weren't talking of any one in particular. Miss Thayer did inquire your name when she saw me bow to you. I answered just as you came toward us," added Grace honestly.
"I knew you were talking about me," declared Kathleen flippantly. "One can always feel when one is being discussed."
A quick flush rose to Grace's cheeks. Usually tolerant toward everyone, she felt a decided resentment stir within her at this cold-blooded assertion that she and Arline had been gossiping.
Arline's blue eyes sent forth a distinctly hostile glance. "You were mistaken, Miss West," she said coldly. "What was said of you was entirely impersonal."
"Oh, I don't doubt that in the least," Kathleen hastened to say. She had decided that the daughter of Leonard B. Thayer was worth cultivating. "I am sorry you misunderstood me; but do you know, when you made that last remark you looked as your father did the day he wouldn't tell me a thing I wanted to know." Kathleen's sharp features were alive with the interest of discovery.
Despite their brief annoyance Grace and Arline both laughed. Kathleen took instant advantage of the situation. "Suppose we order another pot of tea," she said hospitably.
It was fully half an hour later when the three girls left Vinton's.
"Oh, my neglected references," sighed Grace. "I must not lose another minute of the afternoon. Which way are you girls going?"
"I think I'll go as far as the library with you, Grace," decided Arline. The interruption by Kathleen had greatly interfered with her plans.
"I might as well go with you," remarked Kathleen innocently. "I have nothing to do this afternoon."
A little frown wrinkled Arline's smooth forehead. Grace, equally disappointed, managed to conceal her annoyance. Then, accepting the situation in the best possible spirit, she slipped her hand through Arline's arm, at the same time giving it a warning pressure. During the walk to the library Kathleen endeavored to make herself particularly agreeable to Arline, a method of procedure that was not lost upon Grace. Later as she delved industriously among half a dozen dignified volumes for the material of which she stood in need, Kathleen's pale, sharp face, with its thin lips and alert eyes, rose before her, and, for the first time, she admitted reluctantly to herself that her dislike for the ambitious little newspaper girl was very real indeed.
AN UNSUSPECTED LISTENER
"Those in favor of giving a bazaar on the Saturday afternoon and evening of November fifteenth say 'aye,'" directed Arline Thayer.
A chorus of ayes immediately resounded.
"Contrary, 'no,'" continued Arline.
There was a dead silence.
"Carried," declared the energetic little president. "Please, everyone think hard and try to advance an idea for a feature inside of the next ten minutes."
The twelve young women known as the Semper Fidelis Club were holding a business meeting in Grace Harlowe's and Anne Pierson's, room. The two couch beds had been placed in a kind of semicircle and eight members of the club were seated on them. The other three young women sat on cushions on the floor, while Arline presided at the center table, which had been placed several feet in front of the members.
"The meeting is open for suggestions," repeated Arline after two minutes had elapsed and not a word had been said. "If any one has a suggestion, she may tell us without addressing the chair. We will dispense with formality," she added encouragingly. "Of course, we know we are going to have the gypsy encampment and the Irish booth and the Japanese tea room, but we want some really startling features."
"We might have an 'Alice in Wonderland' booth," suggested Elfreda. "'Alice' stunts always go in colleges. The girls are never tired of them."
"What on earth is an 'Alice in Wonderland booth'?" asked Gertrude Wells curiously.
"I don't know what it is yet," grinned Elfreda. "The idea just came to me. I suppose," she continued reflectively, "we could have all the animals, like the March Hare, for instance, and the Dormouse. Then there's the Mock Turtle and the Jabberwock. No, that's been done to death. Besides, it's in 'Through the Looking Glass.' We could have the Griffon, though, and then, there's the Duchess, the King, the Queen, and the Mad Hatter. I'd love to do the Mad Hatter." Elfreda paused, eyeing the little group quizzically.
"I think that's a brilliant idea, Elfreda!" exclaimed Grace warmly.
"Great!" exulted three or four girls, in lively chorus.
"I'll tell you what we could have," cried one of the Emerson twins. "Why not make it an 'Alice in Wonderland Circus,' and have all the animals perform?"
"We are growing more brilliant with every minute," laughed Arline. "That is a positive inspiration, Sara."
"A circus will exactly fill the bill. It is sure to be the biggest feature the Overton girls have ever spent their money to see," predicted Elfreda gleefully. "Ruth Denton, you will have to be the Dormouse."
"Oh, I can't," blushed Ruth.
"Oh, you can," mimicked Elfreda. "I'll help you plan your costume."
"Will the club please come to order," called Arline, for a general buzz of conversation had begun. "We shall have to choose part of our animals from outside the club. We can't all be in the circus. Grace and Miriam are going to dress as gypsies. Julia and Sara," smiling at the black-eyed twins, who looked precisely alike and were continually being mistaken for each other, "are going to be Japanese ladies, aren't you, girls?"
The twins nodded emphatically.
"Those in favor of an Alice in Wonderland Circus please say 'aye,'" dutifully stated Arline. The motion was quickly carried. "That is only one feature," she reminded. "This meeting is open for further suggestions. Let us have the suggestions first, then we can discuss them in detail afterward."
After considerable hard thinking, a "bauble shop," a postcard booth, and a doll shop were added. The latter idea was Ruth Denton's. "Now that it is fall, Christmas isn't so very far off. Almost every girl has a little sister or a niece or a friend to whom she intends to give a doll," she said almost wistfully. "We could pledge ourselves to contribute one doll at least, and as many more as we please. Then we could draw on the treasury for a certain sum and invest it in dolls. We could dress a few of them as college girls, too. I'm willing to use part of my spare time to help the good work along. Perhaps it wouldn't be a success," she faltered.
"Success!" exclaimed Arline, stumbling over Gertrude Wells's feet and treating Ruth to an affectionate hug. "I think it's perfectly lovely. We can have a live doll, too. Do any of you know that exquisite little freshman with the big blue eyes who rooms at Mortimer Hall?"
"I do. Her name is Myra Stone," responded Julia Emerson. "She looks like a big doll, doesn't she!"
"She does," commented Arline. "That is precisely what I was thinking. Dressed as a live doll and placed on exhibition in the middle of the booth, she would prove a drawing card. Will you ask her to meet us at the gymnasium on Monday at five o'clock? We will try to see the others we want for the bazaar before Monday. We had better decide now just who is going to be left over for the circus."
"There is only one objection to little Miss Stone," said Gertrude Wells thoughtfully. "She is a freshman. I am afraid this mark of upper class favor may cause jealousy."
"The freshmen ought to be glad one of their class is to have the honor of being chosen," retorted Grace, opening her gray eyes in surprise.
"They ought to, but they won't be," predicted Gertrude dryly. "There are a number of revolutionary spirits among the freshmen this year. That queer little West girl, who styles herself a 'newspaper woman' and looks like a wicked little elf, is the ringleader."
"She is very bright, Gertrude, and she deserves a great deal of credit for the way she has worked and studied to fit herself for college," defended Grace, her old love of fair play coming to the surface.
"That may all be so. I believe it is, if you say so, Grace, but why doesn't she display common sense enough to settle down and obey the rules of the college? She doesn't transgress the study rules, but she is lawless when it comes to the others. Besides, she runs roughshod over traditions, and all that they imply. She—well—" Gertrude hesitated, then, flushing slightly, stopped.
"You mean she is tricky, don't you?" asked Elfreda promptly. "I could see that before I talked with her five minutes."
Grace shook her head disapprovingly at Elfreda. Something in her glance caused Elfreda to subside suddenly.
"If there is no further business of which to dispose, will some one make a motion that we adjourn!" asked Arline quietly.
The motion was made and seconded, but before any one had time to step into the hall, a slight figure flitted from her position before the almost closed door, and disappeared into the room at the end of the hall.
"We must be sure and see the dean as soon as we can, Arline," called Grace after Arline, who was hurrying down the hall to overtake Ruth.
"I'll see her to-morrow afternoon," assured Arline, with a parting wave of her hand as she disappeared down the stairs.
"And I'll make it my business to see her to-morrow morning," muttered Kathleen West vindictively, who, standing well within the shadow of her own door at the end of the hall, had heard the remark and the reply. "Who knows but that the Semper Fidelis Club may not be able to give their great bazaar after all. They certainly won't if I can prevent them. I'll never forgive them for discussing me as they have this afternoon." There was an unpleasant light in the newspaper girl's eyes, as, closing the door of her room, she went to her desk and opening it, sat down before it, picking up her pen. After a little thought she began to write, and when she had finished what seemed to be an extremely short letter, she slipped it into the envelope with a smile of malicious satisfaction. She had found a way to retaliate.
AN UNPLEASANT SUMMONS
"Here's a letter for you, Grace," called Elfreda, who had run downstairs ahead of Grace to survey the contents of the house bulletin board before going in to breakfast.
Grace surveyed the envelope critically, tore it open and unfolded the sheet of paper inside. In another moment a little cry of consternation escaped her.
"What's the matter?" asked Elfreda curiously, trying to peer over her shoulder.
"It—it's a summons from the dean," said Grace a trifle unsteadily. "What do you suppose it means?"
"Nothing very serious," declared Elfreda confidently. "How can it? Think over your past misdeeds and see if you can discover any reason for a summons."
Grace shook her head. "No," she said slowly. "I can't think of a single, solitary thing."
"Then don't worry about it," was Elfreda's comforting advice. "Whatever it is, you are ready for it."
As Grace entered the dean's office that morning a vague feeling of apprehension rose within her. The dean, a stately, dark-haired woman with a rather forbidding expression, which disappeared the moment she smiled, glanced up with a flash of approval at the fine, resolute face of the gray-eyed girl who walked straight to her and said firmly, "Good morning, Miss Wilder."
"Good morning, Miss Harlowe," returned the dean quietly. Then picking up a letter that lay on the middle of her desk, she said gravely: "I received a very peculiar letter this morning, Miss Harlowe, and as it concerns not only you, but a number of your friends as well, I thought it better to send for you. You may throw light upon what at present seems obscure."
Grace mechanically stretched forth her hand for the open letter and read:—
"When giving an entertainment in any of the halls or in the gymnasium, is it not usually customary, not to say courteous, to ask permission of the president of the college or the dean beforehand? The young women whose names appear on the enclosed list evidently do not consider any such permission necessary. For the past week preparations for a bazaar have been going briskly forward, to be held in the gymnasium on the evening of November ——. For inside information inquire of Miss Harlowe.
"A WELL WISHER."
Grace read the note through twice, then, looking squarely at the dean, she said: "May I see the enclosed list?" The dean handed her a smaller slip of paper on which appeared the names of the girls who had been present at the meeting in her room. Grace scanned the slip earnestly. Her color rose slightly as she returned it to Miss Wilder.
"The names on this list are the names of the young women who belong to the Semper Fidelis Club. After the concert last spring it was partly decided to give a bazaar the following autumn. The other day the club met in my room to talk over the matter. As we were all in favor of giving one, the meeting was open for the discussion of ideas for attractive features. Finally something was proposed that was so very clever we couldn't help adopting it. I assure you, Miss Wilder, we had no thought of doing anything definite about the bazaar without first obtaining proper permission to give it and to use the gymnasium as our field of operation. In fact, Miss Thayer promised me on the afternoon of the meeting that she would see you the following afternoon. She is the president of the club. I haven't seen her since then." Grace paused, looking worried.
"Miss Thayer has not been here," returned Miss Wilder kindly. "However, your explanation is sufficient, Miss Harlowe. I am reasonably sure that the writer of this letter has either misunderstood the situation, or has been misinformed. To be candid, very little credence can be placed on the information contained in an anonymous letter. In fact, my reason for sending for you had to do with that, rather than the implied charge the letter makes. I wish you to examine this handwriting," she touched the letter which Grace still held in hand. "Do you recognize it?"
There was a slight interval of silence. Grace devoted herself to the examination of the letter and the slip of paper. Then, handing it to the dean, she said frankly: "I have no recollection of having seen this handwriting before to-day."
The dean folded the letter, placed the list of names inside its folds and returned it to the envelope. "This is the first anonymous letter that has ever been brought to my notice," she said gravely. "I trust it will be the last. It is hard to believe that a student of Overton would resort to such petty spite, for that seems to be its keynote. It is practically impossible, however, to find the writer among so many girls."
Grace would have liked to say that this was not the first anonymous letter that had been brought to her notice. The ghost of a disturbing, unsigned note that had almost wrecked Elfreda's freshman happiness rose and walked before her. Could it be possible that the same hand had written the second note? Grace was startled at her own thought.
"May I see the note again, Miss Wilder?" she asked soberly. This time she scrutinized the writing even more closely. There was something familiar, yet unfamiliar, about the formation of the letters. Finally she handed it back. "It is a mystery to me," she said, with a little sigh. "I am so glad you understood about the bazaar."
Before the dean could reply the click of approaching heels was heard. A moment later a light knock sounded on the door. At a nod from the dean, Grace opened it, and stood face to face with Arline Thayer.
"Why, Grace Harlowe!" she exclaimed in her sweet, high voice. "I didn't know you were here. Did you get my message? Good afternoon, Miss Wilder," she added, following Grace inside the office.
"Good afternoon, Miss Thayer," smiled Miss Wilder, indicating a chair, which Arline accepted.
"I owe you and the Semper Fidelis Club an apology for not having delivered their message. I spent yesterday nursing a headache and was not able to attend any of my classes. Miss Harlowe has already asked your permission to hold a bazaar in the gymnasium, I believe."
"Yes," returned Miss Wilder pleasantly. "I am willing to allow the Semper Fidelis Club carte blanche for one night. I approve warmly of both the club and its object. I shall, of course, ask formal permission of the president, but that need not necessarily delay your plans. The concert given by your club last year was a most enjoyable affair and proved very profitable to the club, did it not?"
Grace answered in the affirmative. "We were fortunate in being able to secure Savelli, the virtuoso," she replied. "It was by the merest chance that he happened to have that one evening free. His daughter, Eleanor, who is one of my dear friends, and I telephoned to New York City to ask him to play for us. We saved him until last as a surprise number."
"The audience fully appreciated his playing," returned Miss Wilder. "To hear the great Savelli was an unexpected privilege. I shall look forward to your bazaar with pleasurable anticipation and I wish you success."
Grace looked searchingly into the smiling, dark eyes of the dean.
"Thank you so much, Miss Wilder," she said earnestly. "I felt sure you would understand."
"We should like Professor Morton to open the bazaar, and would appreciate a speech from you also," added Arline.
"I shall be pleased to help the club in any way I can," assured Miss Wilder graciously as the two girls were about to leave the office. "I am certain that Professor Morton will echo my sentiments." Something in the older woman's quiet tones made Grace feel that the anonymous letter had entirely failed in its object.
ELFREDA PROPHESIES TROUBLE
Not until the two girls were well outside did either venture to speak. Then their eyes met. "Did you receive my message?" asked Arline abruptly.
"Your message," repeated Grace. "No, I didn't receive any message. By whom did you send it?"
"Emma Dean," declared Arline. "She was at Morton House yesterday for luncheon, and I ran across her in the hall. I asked her to ask you if you would see Miss Wilder after classes yesterday afternoon."
"Emma Dean again," laughed Grace. "Didn't you know, Arline, that the Dean messenger service is absolutely unreliable? Emma is always perfectly willing to deliver a message, but never remembers to deliver it. Only last week Elfreda made an engagement with a dressmaker who sews for Emma. In the meantime Emma went to the dressmaker's house for a fitting, and the woman asked her to tell Elfreda to come for her fitting on Thursday instead of Friday night. Emma forgot it before she was a block from the dressmaker's, and poor Elfreda dutifully trudged off to her fitting instead of accepting an invitation to a theatre party that the girls got up on Friday afternoon. The dressmaker wasn't in and Elfreda went home angry. Emma delivered the message the next day."
"No wonder you didn't receive mine then," laughed Arline.
"How did you happen to find me?" asked Grace.
"Oh, I wasn't looking for you," replied Arline. "I thought as long as I felt better, I had better call on Miss Wilder, too. But," said Arline, a puzzled look creeping into her eyes, "if you didn't receive my message, how did you happen to be in the dean's office?"
"I received a summons," answered Grace quietly. "The dean wished to see me about—well—" Grace hesitated. "I should like to tell you about it," she went on. "Miss Wilder did not ask me to keep the matter a secret. That was understood, I suppose. But, Arline, I think it would be better to ask her permission before telling even you."
"Is it anything about me or about the club?" asked Arline curiously.
"It is something about the club," replied Grace enigmatically.
"Then suppose we go back and ask her now," proposed Arline.
"No," negatived Grace wisely, "it wouldn't do. Wait a little. I shall see her again in a day or two. Then I may have a chance to ask her."
"All right," sighed Arline disappointedly. "Now that we have permission we must go to work with a will. The 'Circus' must meet and plan the costumes. Each girl will have to furnish her own. Ruth said she thought she could design them all, and cut them out if the girls could do their own sewing."
"Ruth is doing too much," demurred Grace. "Remember she is going to help dress dolls for the doll shop."
"I know it," responded Arline, "but, thanks to the Semper Fidelis Club, she doesn't have to burden herself with mending. Besides, I keep her so busy with my clothes she doesn't have time to do anything for outsiders. Some of the girls were so provoking. They used to give her their work at the eleventh hour, and then send for it before she had half a chance to finish it. They didn't exert themselves to pay her, however. It was weeks, sometimes, before they gave her the money. They usually forgot about it and spent their allowance money for something else. I think I have already told you that Father would adopt Ruth if she would consent to it. But she is a most stiff-necked young person. She says she must work out her own salvation, and that too much comfort might spoil her for doing good work in the world."
"Do you suppose her father is really dead?" asked Grace thoughtfully.
"Oh, I think he must be," returned Arline quickly. "Even if he isn't dead, there is only one chance in a thousand of her finding him. When I went home last June I had one of my famous talks with Father. We decided that I needed a competent person to look after me in college, and Father asked Ruth to accept the position of companion. Then she could room with me and be free from this hateful sewing. But she wouldn't do it, the proud little thing! I like her all the better for her pride, though," concluded Arline in a burst of confidence.
"I think she is right about making her own way," declared Grace. "If I were placed in her circumstances I imagine I should look at the matter in the same light. Really, Arline, I often think that girls as happily situated as you and I do not half appreciate our benefits."
"I know it," agreed Arline. "Still, I am wide awake to the fact that a single room, pretty clothes and a generous allowance are not to be despised. I have grown so used to my way of living that to adopt Ruth's wouldn't be easy. I'd be worse off than she, for I don't know how to mend or sew or do anything else that is useful. I wonder if the girls would like me as well poor as rich," she said almost wistfully.
"Goose!" scoffed Grace. "Of course they would. How could any one help liking you? To change the subject, when shall we call a meeting of the bazaar specialists? We might as well post a notice on the big bulletin board. It will do more to advertise the bazaar than anything else."
"Grace, you are a born advertiser," cried Arline. "There will be a crowd around that bulletin board all day. Will you write the notice to-night? Oh, did I tell you? I'm going to have my horse here this year. Father wants me to ride."
"How lovely!" exclaimed Grace with a little sigh. "How I wish I had a horse. I'd willingly use all my allowance to feed one, if Father could afford to buy him for me."
"Mabel Ashe has the handsomest horse I ever saw," said Arline. "He is black as jet. You know I often see her in New York during vacations. We have ridden together several times."
"You mean Elixir," returned Grace. "I have never seen him, but I have heard of him. That reminds me, Mabel is coming down here for Thanksgiving. I received a letter from her yesterday."
"I wish she could come down for the bazaar," sighed Arline regretfully.
"So do I," responded Grace heartily.
At the corner above Wayne Hall Arline left Grace with a warning, "Don't forget to post that notice." As Grace reached the steps of the Hall the front door opened and two girls stepped out on the porch, followed by an alert little figure whose small face wore an expression of malicious amusement. "Do come again," she was saying in clear, high tones. "I've heard some very interesting things this afternoon." Looking down, simultaneously, three pairs of eyes were leveled on Grace and conversation instantly ceased. Grace walked quietly up the steps and, with a courteous "good afternoon," passed into the house and up the stairs to her room. Her face was unusually sober as she slowly pulled the hatpins from her hat. "How did Miss West happen to meet them?" she said half aloud.
"Meet whom?" asked Elfreda, who had come into the room in time to hear Grace's half musing question.
"Oh, Elfreda. How you startled me!" exclaimed Grace.
"How did Miss West meet whom? That's what I am curious to know," returned Elfreda, regarding Grace with lively interest.
"Alberta Wicks and Mary Hampton, Inquisitive," answered Grace.
"Where did you see them?" asked Elfreda, exhibiting considerable excitement.
"On the front porch. They had evidently been making a call on Kathleen."
"Then look out," predicted Elfreda. "They began back in the freshman year with me. Last year it was Laura Atkins and Mildred Taylor. This year it will be Kathleen West, and you mark my word, she won't reform at the end of the year as the rest of us did."
"'Quoth the raven, "nevermore",'" laughed Grace.
"Well, you'll see," declared Elfreda gloomily. "I'm sorry Kathleen West lives here. I thought we were going to have a peaceful year. But every fall apparently brings its problem. Really, Grace, I can't help feeling terribly remorseful to think that it is I who have caused all this trouble. If I hadn't been such an idiot when I first came here, you and Alberta Wicks and Mary Hampton might at least be on speaking terms."
"You mustn't think about such ancient history, Elfreda," admonished Grace. "We all do things for which we are afterward sorry. I daresay I should have offended those two girls in some other way before my freshman year was over. Both sides were to blame. I suppose we were naturally antagonistic."
"That is one way of putting it," muttered Elfreda, scowling over her past misdeeds.
"Come, come, Elfreda, don't glower over what has been forgotten," smiled Grace, patting Elfreda's plump shoulder.
"You may forget," declared the stout girl solemnly, "but I never shall."
OPENING THE BAZAAR
It was Saturday afternoon, and the Semper Fidelis bazaar had just been opened. Grace Harlowe, attired in her gypsy costume, for which she had sent home, stood watching the gay scene, her eyes glowing with interest and pleasure. Professor Morton, the president of the college, had set his seal of approval on the bazaar by making a short speech. Then the dean had added a word or two, and the applause had died away in a pleasant hum of conversation that arose from the throng of students and visitors that more than comfortably filled the gymnasium.
"I don't see how those girls managed to accomplish so much in so short a time," remarked the dean to Miss Duncan. "I understand Miss Harlowe was a prime mover in the work."
"Yes," replied Miss Duncan. "Miss Harlowe seems to have plenty of initiative. She is one of the most active members of this new club, who have taken upon themselves the responsibility of helping needy students through college. I understand their treasury is already in a flourishing condition, thanks to their own efforts and a timely contribution they received after their concert last spring. I consider Miss Harlowe the finest type of young woman I have encountered during all my years of teaching," replied Miss Duncan warmly, which was a remarkable statement from this rather austere teacher.
"The junior class is particularly rich in good material," replied the dean. "I could name at least a dozen young women whom I consider splendid types of the ideal Overton girl."
Utterly unaware of the approval of the faculty, Grace had paused for a moment outside the gypsy encampment to cast a speculative eye over the crowd, which seemed to be steadily increasing.
"It is a brilliant success," she said to Arline gleefully, who had come up and now stood beside her. "I am so glad, but so tired. I do hope everyone will like the bazaar, and have a good time this afternoon and to-night. Everything has gone so beautifully. There hasn't been a sign of a hitch. Oh, yes, there was one." Her face clouded for a second. Then she looked at Arline brightly. "I'm not going to think of it. There are so many nice things to remember that one little unpleasantness doesn't count, does it?"
"I think it counts," declared Arline stubbornly. "I shall never forget it as long as I live. Why, it nearly spoiled our bazaar. It was dreadful to have some one spread the story of our circus, and just what we intended to have, when we wanted the whole thing to be a surprise."
"Really, I think the person who told the tales did us a good turn after all," laughed Grace. "The girls were ever so much more anxious to attend the bazaar after they heard of the circus. Every girl loves 'Alice in Wonderland,' I think. And then the Sphinx is a first-class surprise."
"Isn't it funny?" chuckled Arline, who, in her short, white, embroidered dress, pale blue sash, blue silk stockings and heelless blue kid slippers, her golden hair hanging in curls, tied up on one side with a blue ribbon, looked exactly as Lewis Carroll's immortal Alice might have looked if she had been inspired with life.
"Alice" was allowed to show herself to the public before the performance, and on catching sight of Grace had run across the gymnasium to her in true little girl fashion.
Never before had Overton's big gymnasium been so peculiarly and gayly arrayed. At one end a numerous band of gypsies had pitched their tents and here Grace and Miriam, garbed in the many-colored raiment of the Zingari, jingled their tambourines in their familiar but ever-popular Spanish dance, and read curious pink palms itching to know the future.
Adjoining the gypsy encampment was a doll shop, over which the cunning freshman, Myra Stone, dressed as a sailor doll, presided. Then came the Japanese tea shop, with the Emerson twins as proprietors, looking so realistically Japanese that Arline declared she didn't believe they were the Emerson twins, but two geisha girls straight from Japan. At intervals, when their patrons had all been served, they sidled up to the center of the shop and performed a quaint Oriental dance for the entertainment of their guests.
Violet Darby had been asked to preside at the Shamrock booth instead of Arline, as had first been suggested, Arline having been elected to portray the world-renowned Alice. As an Irish colleen, Violet, however, proved a distinct success, and thrilled her hearers with "Kathleen Mavourneen" and "The Harp that Once Through Tara's Halls." Her voice held that peculiarly sweet, plaintive quality so necessary to bring out the beauty of the old Irish melodies, and Grace and Anne both agreed that there was only one who could surpass her. There was only one Nora O'Malley.
Farther on four pretty sophomores, dressed as Norman peasant girls, were dispensing cakes and ices to a steadily increasing patronage. There was a postcard and souvenir booth, around which a crowd seemed perpetually stationed. The souvenirs consisted mainly of small black and white or water color sketches contributed by the artistic element of Overton.
Occupying one entire end of the room was the circus ring, and on this public attention was centered. A gayly decorated poster at the door bore the pleasing information that there would be four performances, at two-thirty, four-thirty, eight-thirty, and nine-thirty, respectively, in which would appear the "Celebrated Alice in Wonderland Animals."
The club had originally planned to keep the matter of the circus as a surprise until the patrons of the bazaar should enter the gymnasium, but in some mysterious manner the secret had leaked out. Even the identity of certain animals was known, and when this unpleasant news had reached the ears of the "animals" themselves a meeting was called, which almost put an end to the circus then and there. After due consideration the performers agreed to go on with the spectacle, but many and indignant were the theories advanced as to the manner in which the news had traveled abroad. That the information had gone forth through a member of the club or any one taking part in the circus no one of them believed. Complete ostracism threatened the offender or offenders provided she or they, as the case might be, were discovered. Later the members of the club were forced to admit that, although the principle of the act was reprehensible, the act itself had served only as a means of advertising, and had aroused the curiosity and interest of the public.
After several earnest discussions on the part of the club, the admission fee had been fixed at twenty-five cents, and the public had been invited. As a college town Overton's "public" was largely made up of the classes rather than the masses, and many of the visitors claimed Overton as their Alma Mater. The students, however, were the hope on which the club based its dreams of profit. "No girl could walk around the gymnasium without spending money. She couldn't resist those darling shops. They are all too fascinating for words," Arline had declared rapturously as she and Grace were taking a last walk around the great, gayly decorated room before going to luncheon that day.
Now, as they stood side by side anxiously watching the steadily increasing tide of visitors, they agreed that their efforts were about to be rewarded.
"Isn't it splendid!" exulted Arline. "And, oh, have you seen the Sphinx, and isn't she great! How did Emma happen to think of her, let alone getting her up?"
"S-h-h!" cautioned Grace in a warning tone. "Some one might hear you."
"Oh, I forgot. Sphinxes are supposed to be shrouded in mystery, aren't they?"
"This one is," smiled Grace. Then her face sobered instantly. "I hope no one else besides ourselves finds out. We ought to keep her identity a secret. I think the idea is simply great, don't you?"
Arline nodded. "Come on over and see her," she coaxed.
A moment later they stood before the entrance to a small tent, hung with a heavy curtain. Pushing the curtain aside, Arline stepped into the tent. A burnoosed, turbaned Arab standing inside salaamed profoundly. The two girls giggled, and there was a stifled, most un-Arab-like echo from the bronzed son of the desert. Then they paused before a platform about four feet in height on which reposed what appeared to be a gigantic Sphinx, her paws stiffly folded in front of her.
"Ask me a question." This sudden, mysterious croak that issued from inside the great head caused Arline to start and step back. "Ask me a question. I am as old as the world. I am the world's great riddle, the one which has never been solved. Ask me a question, only one, one only." The eerie voice died away into yards of drapery that extended in huge folds from the back of the head and far out on the platform.
"How on earth did you ever get into that affair, and who made it?" asked Arline curiously.
"Mystery, all is mystery," croaked the Sphinx.
"But you said you would answer my question!" persisted Arline.
"Which one?" plaintively inquired the voice.
"Both," declared Arline boldly.
"Only one, only one," was the provoking reply.
"Then, who made it?" asked Arline.
"It was made ages ago." Emma Dean's familiar drawl startled both Grace and Arline. "My brother had it made for a college play called 'Sphinx.' When we began to plan for the bazaar I sent home for it. I was so afraid it wouldn't arrive on time. My brother hired an old man who does this wonderful papier mache work to make it. I made the paws. Rather realistic, aren't they? All this drapery came with the head. I am inside the head, sitting on a stool. It's rather dark and stuffy, but it's lots of fun, too. I can appear before the audience at any moment. The head is built over a light frame. There is an arrangement inside the head that makes promenading possible. In fact, I had practiced an attractive little dance—"
"Hurrah!" cried Arline. "Another feature. When shall we have it! Won't that be splendid?"
"Not this afternoon. Late in the evening," counseled Emma. "I don't wish to dance more than once, and you know what a college girl audience means. Now, is there anything else you want to know?"
There was a sudden murmur of voices outside which silenced Emma immediately. Then Alberta Wicks, Mary Hampton and Kathleen West were ushered into the tent.
"I am the Sphinx," began the far-away voice again in the mammoth head. "Ask me a question."
Bowing to the newcomers rather coldly, Grace and Arline turned to leave the tent. But Grace reflected grimly as she lifted the tent flap that if any one of the trio had been the all-wise Sphinx, instead of her friend Emma Dean, there were several questions she might have asked that would have been disconcerting to say the least.
A little later she strolled back to the Sphinx's tent, only to find that amiable riddle besieged by an impatient throng of girls who were eager to spend their money for the mere sake of hearing the Sphinx's ridiculous answers to their questions, and incidentally to try if possible to discover her identity. Emma had succeeded in changing her voice so completely that the far-away, almost wailing tones of the Egyptian wonder had little in common with her usual drawl. She and her faithful Arab had thoroughly enjoyed the attempts of the various girls to discover who was inside the great head and voluminous drapery.
"I would never have known who was in there if Emma herself had not told me. I don't believe any one outside the club knows either," was Grace's conclusion as she returned to her own booth. But in this she was mistaken.
THE ALICE IN WONDERLAND CIRCUS
The Alice in Wonderland Circus went down in the annals of Overton as the most original "stunt" ever attempted by any particular class. 19— bore its honors modestly, but was inordinately proud of the achievement of the Semper Fidelis Club.
The animals' costumes had been designed by Ruth and Elfreda. After much poring over half a dozen editions of "Alice," the original illustrations by "John Tenniel" had appealed most strongly to them, and these had been copied as faithfully as possible in style and color. The only important dry goods store in Overton had been ransacked for colored cambrics, denim and khaki, and under the clever fingers of Ruth, who seemed to know the exact shape and proportion of every one of the Wonderland "animals," the Dormouse, the Griffon and the Rabbit had been fitted with "skins." Elfreda had skilfully designed and made the Mock Turtle's huge shell and flappers, the Griffon's wings, not to mention ears for at least half the circus, and Gertrude Wells, whose clever posters were always in demand, obligingly painted bars, dots, stripes or whatever touch was needed to make the particular animal a triumph of realism. The King and Queen looked as though they might have stepped from the pages of the book, and the Duchess, as played by Anne, was a masterpiece of acting.
The circus opened with a grand march of the animals. Then followed the "Mad Hatter Quadrille," called by the Mad Hatter and danced by the March Hare, the Dormouse, the Rabbit, the Griffon, the Mock Turtle, the Dodo, the Duchess and Alice. Then the Mad Hatter stepped to the center of the ring, flourished his high hat, bowed profoundly, and made a funny little speech about the accomplishments of the animals, each one walking solemnly into the middle of the ring as his name was called and clumsily saluting the audience.
Then the real circus began. The Dormouse skipped the rope, the Rabbit balanced a plate on his nose, the Griffon, with a great flapping of wings, laboriously climbed a ladder and jumped from the top rung to the ground, a matter of about six feet, where he bowed pompously and waved his long claws to the audience. Then the Mock Turtle sang "Beautiful Soup," and wept so profusely he toppled over at the end of the song and lay flopping on his back. The Mad Hatter and the Griffon hastily raised him only to find he had made a dreadful dent in his shell. This did not hinder him from joining his friend, the Griffon, in "Won't You Join the Dance?" which stately caper they performed around Alice, while the other animals stood in a circle and marked time with their feet, solemnly waving their paws and wagging their heads in unison.
The Cheshire Cat, who had a real Chessy Cat head which Gertrude Wells had manufactured and painted, and who wore Arline's long squirrel coat with a squirrel scarf trailing behind for a tail, executed a dance of quaint steps and low bows. The Dodo jumped or rather walked through three paper hoops, which had to be lowered to admit his chubby person. The King and Queen gave a dialogue, every other line of which was "Off with her head," and the Mad Hatter performed an eccentric dance consisting of marvelous leaps and bounds that took him from one side of the ring to the other with amazing rapidity. When he made his bow the audience shouted with laughter and encored wildly, but with a last nimble skip the panting Hatter made for the Griffon's ladder and, seating himself upon it, refused to respond beyond a nod and a careless wave of his hand. Later he left his perch and proceeded to convulse his audience by sitting on his tall hat and taking a bite from his teacup, the three-cornered bite having been carefully removed beforehand and held temporarily in place with library paste until the proper moment.
As the Mad Hatter, Elfreda was entirely in her element. Her unusually keen sense of humor prompted her to make her impersonation of the immortal Hatter one long to be remembered by those who witnessed the performance given by the famous animals. She was without doubt the feature of the circus and the spectators were quick to note and applaud her slightest movement.
The circus ended with an all-around acrobatic exhibition. The Dodo performed on the trapeze. The Mock Turtle and the Cheshire Cat took turns on a diminutive springboard. The March Hare and the Dormouse energetically jumped over a small barrel. The Queen and the Duchess had a fencing match, the Queen using her sceptre, the Duchess the rag baby she carried, and to which she had sung the "Pepper Song" at intervals during the performance. The King tossed four colored balls into the air, keeping them in motion at once. The Rabbit went on balancing his plate until it slid off his nose, but being tin it struck the ring without breaking. The Griffon lumbered up and down his ladder, while the King and Alice, stepping down to the front of the ring, sang their great duet, "Come, Learn the Way to Wonderland," while, one by one, the animals left off performing their stunts and, surrounding Alice and the King, came out strongly on the chorus: