Jane Allen: Junior
"Jane Allen of the Sub-Team," "Jane Allen: Right Guard," "Jane Allen: Center," Etc.
Illustrated by—Thelma Gooch
I THE GET-TOGETHER II A SHADOW IN FORECAST III THE MISFIT FRESHMAN IV THRILLING NEWS V THREATS AND DEFIANCE VI JANE AND JUDITH VII A QUEER MIX-UP VIII TO THE RESCUE IX WHAT HAPPENED TO JUDITH X THE INTERLUDE XI A TWICE TOLD TALE XII A WILD NIGHT OF IT XIII THE AFTERMATH XIV PLEADING FOR TIME XV THE PICKET AND THE SPOOK XVI THE HIDDEN CHAMBER XVII "BEHOLD THE GHOST OF LENOX HALL!" XVIII FAITHFUL FROLIC XIX THE MIRACLE XX TOUCHSTONE XXI CRAMMING EVENTS XXII STARTLING DISCLOSURES XXIII THE DANCE XXIV KING PIN OF THE FRESHIES XXV THE DAY AFTER THE BIG NIGHT XXVI A SURPRISE IN RECORDS XXVII THE REAL STORY
THE GET TOGETHER.
The late September day waved back at Summer graceful as a child saying goodbye with a soft dimply hand; and just as fitful were the gleams of warm sunshine that lazed through the stately trees on the broad campus of Wellington College. It was a brave day—Summer defying Nature, swishing her silken skirts of transparent iridescence into the leaves already trembling before the master hand of Autumn, with his brush poised for their fateful stroke of poisoned beauty; every last bud of weed or flower bursting in heroic tribute, and every breeze cheering the pageant in that farewell to Summer.
"If school didn't start just now," commented Norma Travers, "I wonder what we would do? Everything else seems to stop short."
"I never saw shadows come and go so weirdly on any other first day," added Judith Stearns ominously. "I hope it doesn't mean a sign, as Velma Sigbee would put it," and dark eyed Judith waved her arms above her black head to ward off the blow.
"Is it too early to suggest science?" lisped Maud Leslie timidly. "I've been reading about the possible change of climate and its relation to the sun's rays going wild into space. I don't want to start anything, but it might be judicious to buy more furs next Summer. Also it might justify the premonitory fad."
"Don't you dare," warned Ted Guthrie, puffing beneath her prettiest crocheted sweater and rolling down from her chosen mound on the natural steps of the poplar tree slope. "It's bad enough to think of icy days up here, far, far away from the happy laughing world of hot chocolate and warm movie seats," and she rolled one more step nearer the boxwood lined path, "but to tag on science, and insinuate we are to be glazed mummies, ugh!" and the redoubtable Ted groaned a grunt that threatened havoc to the aforesaid handsome sweater.
"There, there, Teddy dear, don't take on so," soothed Maud, rescuing the other's new silver pencil that was rapidly sliding further away from Ted with the pretty open hand bag. "I had entirely forgotten how you despise ice sports. And you so lovely and fat for falling. You should love 'em," insisted the studious Maud.
"Being fat isn't all it's——"
"Cracked up to be," assisted Judith Stearns. "I quote freely. That's one of Tim Jackson's."
"Where have I heard the line before?" mimicked Theodosia Dalton, otherwise Dozia the Fearless. "It has a chummy tone. All of which is as naught to the question. Where is Jane? Never knew her to miss the line up here. And I even tapped at her door. Judy, where is Jane?" demanded Dozia.
"Am I my chum's keeper? Can't Jane attend to her own mortal baggage without incurring the wrath of the multitude?" and Judith sprang up from her spot on the leaf laden lawn. Also she cast a glance of apprehension along the path where Jane Allen should at least now be seen on her way. "Perhaps Jane feels we should forswear this moment of mirth; being juniors and stepping aside from all the others. They call it the Whisper you know; 'count of the whispering poplar above," with a grandiose wave at the innocent tree. "But I would much prefer a chuckle, wouldn't you Ted?"
"There you go again, or rather also," flung back the stout girl. "I must take all the cracks and the chuckles and presently some naive little freshie will amble along and ask me if I happen to be one of the soap bubbles she just blew off her penny pipe," and the pneumatic cheeks puffed out in bubble mockery.
"Now Teddy dear. Don't fret. Everyone is just jealous because you're so lovely and comfy looking," appeased Nettie Brocton, the dimple girl. "But I really do think this 'whisper' is awfully childish. Rather makes the strangers feel we are whispering about them."
"If they only knew!" sighed Ted. "I am the usual back-stop for all frivolity. But if it comes to giving up this lovely loafing hour under our own grandmother poplar, I say girls, go ahead and knock, but spare the whisper. I'd die if I had to go tramping around seeing things and saying hello to that mob," with a sweeping wave of her one free arm, the other was around Janet Clarke's waist.
"You are right, little girl, it is lovely to gather here and let the others do the traipsing. And as for the whisper, anyone within sight may also hear, for this is a shout rather than a whisper. The real point is, we are gathered together while others are scattered apart. But where is Jane Allen? I always look to her to start things, and we can't stay here all day, alluring as is the grandmother poplar. We have 'juties'; girls, 'juties'. "Dozia Dalton had risen to her full height, which measured more feet and inches than her latest kitchen door records verified, and her hair now wound around her head like a big brown braided coffee cake, added a few more inches, in spite of all the flat pinning Dozia took refuge in. It may be attractive to be tall and slender, but somehow old Dame Nature has a way of keeping her pets humble. She loves to exaggerate.
The girls were grouped around the gnarled roots of the big tree. As had been their custom this contingent managed to escape the hum and confusion of the "first day" just long enough to whisper hello and buzz a few unclassified other words. Rooms and corridors were in commotion; the campus was like a bee farm, and it was only over in a remote corner, where a poplar and three hemlock trees formed a protective fortress, that the girls were safe from the first day's excitement.
"I left Jane heading for the office and her head was down," announced Inez Wilson finally. "She didn't see me and her head being down, of course meant——"
"Trouble," finished Katherine Winters. "When Jane Allen goes forward with her red head in advance there is sure to be a collision. What's up? Who knows?"
"Come along and find out," promptly suggested Winifred Ayres. "Can't tell what we're missing. Jane may have lifted the roof when she raised her head."
"Poor old roof," commented Ted Guthrie, dragging Janet Clarke down to earth again in her own attempt at rising. "I suppose we may as well fall in line," she continued good-naturedly. "Janie is still the idol of the mob; anyone can see that, even at this early date," and with a girl tugging on either side the stout one finally heaved ahoy!
"'Tain't that," corrected Inez recklessly, "it's just because we are all too lazy to do the things we know Jane will do. I have been reading up on psychology, and you may now expect me to spoil every dream of childhood with a reason why," and Inez threw her head up prophetically.
"Alluring prospects this year," groaned Velma Sigsbee. "What with Maud gone scientific, and Inez turned psychologist and Jane Allen traveling with her head down—well, all I can say is I still take two lumps of sugar in my tea." Velma was just that way, a pretty girl who loved sugar in spite of restrictions, high prices and the written word.
A solitary figure was now outlined against the low cedars curled around Linger Lane. It was Jane at last.
"Here she comes! Here she comes!" announced Nettie Brocton. "And look, girls! she isn't even whistling. Something is wrong with our sunny Jane."
There was no mistake about it, something was wrong, for Jane Allen swung along the path, calling greetings to friends grouped in knots and colonies with an evident half heartedness foreign to her usual buoyant, cheerful personality.
Espying her own contingent on the poplar slope she threw her arms out in a reckless, boyish sort of gesture to give force to the "Hello girls!" she called, but even that was much too mild for Jane.
"We were in despair," began Judith, Jane's particular friend and school-long companion. "Janie dear, why the clouds? What's up? Let us know the worst, do. We are fortified now, whereas in an hour hence we may be weak from interviews with the new proctor. Sit down Jane. We just rose to go in search of you, and by my new watch I see there is still time before the hour to report. There," and the little spot cleared for Jane in the semi-circle was now covered with a pretty plaid skirt, "do tell us. You really look worried,"
"Not really?" contradicted the gray eyed Jane. "Worried, and on our very first lovely day? You surely wrong me!" she tried to get her arms around more girls than even finger tips might touch. "I'm simply bubbling with joy, as I should be. I was detained in the office longer than I wanted to stay, and you all know how mean it is to have to sit on one particular chair facing the desk while a lot of new girls ask a larger lot of foolish questions. Perhaps that made me a little cross, but do forgive me. I wouldn't spoil this initial hour for worlds. Please tell me everything in one breath. I am just dying to hear."
No one answered. Ted Guthrie did gurgle a bit, and Velma Sigsbee threw a handful of leaves in Nettie Brocton's hair, but the pause was a riot. Why should Jane deceive them? Cross from delay in the busy office indeed, as if she would not have bolted out and left the whole room to the nervous new students! The girls looked from one to the other and finally Judith Stearns saved the situation by proposing that the juniors line up to help the seniors show newcomers about the grounds. On this day at least, class lines were forgotten at Wellington.
"We were just waiting for you Janie," she declared adroitly, "and Mildred Manners has been whoo-hooing her lungs out across the campus. Come along girls, and see you don't waylay all the millionaires. I hear every garage in the village is bursting with classy cars, and the livery stable can't take another single boarder. Ted, you take Velma and Maud, and be careful not to divulge any club secrets; Janet, you tag along with Winifred and just gush to death over that timid little blonde who seems to have a whole bag full of hand made handkerchiefs for weeps. Jane, may I have the honor of your company?"
Judith's black eyes looked into Jane's gray orbs that asked and answered so many questions.
"Thanks, Judy," said Jane aside. "You're a dear. Let's go and do the honors."
The next moment Wellington grounds rang with shouts and laughter, and the voice of Jane Allen defied the criticism her pretty face had so lately invited.
"It's perfectly all right," she assured Judith, but the latter stuck her chin out in contradiction.
"Can't fool me, Janie," she whispered between handshakes and greetings. "But I'll wait till the picnic winds up. Did you ever see so many new girls? Has some college burned down since last year?"
"No, love, but our reputation has gone forth. This is a glorious day for Wellington and, Judy Stearns, it is going to be a glorious year for us. We are still juniors!" and Jane trailed off to find her place in the long line that was automatically forming around the great old elm. An extension course in special work kept Jane with her junior friends.
"Wellington, dear Wellington!" rang out the then famous strain in hundreds of silvery voices. The college song was echoed from every hill into every grass lined hollow, and if the new girls doubted the spirit of comradeship they were to be favored with there, the consecration brought it home to them, like strong loving arms stretched out in the sea of school day mysteries.
It was hours later, when the pattering of feet in the long corridors died down to a mere trail of sound, that Jane and Judith managed to pair off for a confidential chat.
"You have got to tell me," demanded Judith.
"As if I wouldn't," replied Jane.
"You can't blame us for being curious, Janey. This afternoon was almost a failure, just because your eyes had a faraway look."
"I'm so sorry, really, Jude. What an abominable temper I must have."
"We all know better than that girlie." Judy might now have been charged with harboring a faraway look herself.
"Just give me a little time," smiled Jane, "and if there's anything on my conscience I'll gladly transfer it to yours."
The look in both gray and brown eyes was suddenly changed to intimacy. It was no longer faraway.
A SHADOW IN FORECAST
I thought everyone had been supplied with the anti-tack hammer circular," remarked Jane, falling back where Judith's cushions ought to be. "Just hear that tattoo over in the wing. I'll bet it's Dozia."
"She has a collection of movie queens and I doubt not that is the official coronation. Let us hope the new proctor is deaf on the left, Dozia's room leans that way," replied Judith. Then she tossed a couple of sweaters at Jane's head. "Put those under your ears dear," she ordered, "my pillows aren't unpacked yet and you may find Neddie's last year tacks in that burlap. There now, you look almost human. But the wistful whimper lingers. Jane, what has happened? You are simply smothered in the soft pedal. Tell your Judy all about it," she cooed.
Feet stretched out straight in front of her and arms ending with finger tips laced over her black head, Judith looked longer than she really needed to measure up or down. Also, she looked too stiff to be comfortable, but the wooden pose was Judith's favorite. She rested that way, defying every known law for relaxation. Jane, au contraire, was curled up like a kitten, with one red sweater balled under her ruffled head and the other blue one tangled about her slim ankles. Both girls were tired—justly so, for the opening day at Wellington was ever a time of joyous activity, and the day just closed had roared and yelled itself into an evening still vibrant with bristling energy, tack hammers and movie pictures smashing rules and regulations, until the night gong sounded its irrevocable warning. Then roommates paired off even as did Jane and Judith.
"Has anything happened to your baggage?" prompted Judith, as her companion failed to confide.
Jane teased one small worsted tassel of Judith's blue sweater free from its tangle with her shoe lace, then she poked her dimpled chin forward saucily.
"Can't ever have a secret, I suppose, Pally dear," she mocked the girl sliding slowly but surely out of her chair. "But I don't mind. Shows how truly you love me. There, you will feel better on the rug. I knew you were coming." Judith had landed.
"I believe I'll sleep here," declared Judith, one end of the international carpet sample was bunched up under her ear. "Never was so tired on any other first or last day." The long legs shot out straight again. "And if your secret is really thrilling Janie, pray keep it for a more auspicious occasion. I am apt to snore when I should groan, or even sneeze when I should——" A choking spasm interrupted. "Don't tell me to take quinine, Janie. This is the end. I have had it since August and it is due to depart now, exactly now." A couple of sneezes added punctuation to this.
"But get up from that floor instantly," ordered the girl on the divan. "Nothing worse for colds than rag carpet rugs. There's plenty of room up here out of drafts. Come, lovey. Do try to curl up some. I always fear you will break up in splinters when I see you go wooden."
"Too comfy, Dinks, I can't move."
"Sneeze then and I'll catch you. You have just got to get up off that chilly floor somehow. Besides the oil may be contagious. It still smells gooey."
"Anything for peace. Give me a lift. There," Judith hung over the edge but Jane held on to the black head. "It's not so safe as the floor but I suppose it is more prophylactic. Now I will sleep. The girls seem to have died down. Strange"—yawn and groan—"how they do love to fuss up the rooms."
"Temperment, my dear. Dozia wouldn't sleep a wink with her photograph gallery unhung. What do you think of the crowd this year? Spot any stars?"
"A couple. Did you see that beauty with the shiny gold hair? The one who stood under the hemlock alone during the cheering? Isn't she tragically pretty?"
"Exactly that. One couldn't help seeing her, although she struck me as being shy."
"Scared to death, and so unconscious of her charms. There Janie, my brain is sound asleep this moment. If I say real words they must be coming from another world. This is gone." Judith ducked deeper into the pillowless couch. She plainly was sleepy.
"Why Judith Stearns," called Jane severely, "you are giving me as much trouble as a baby. Don't you dare fall asleep. We have got to make beds yet. That comes of your notion not to have ready-to-wear beds in our suite. And you can just see how much fun it is to drag things out on tired nights." Jane sprang up from the divan and tried to yank the sleepy girl after her. "Come on, Pally," she implored. "I'll do most all the fixing, only I really demur at the disrobing. You know my hatred for buttons and fastenings. I wouldn't leave one snap to meet its partner. Come on Judy," the feet were again on the rug, "we will be simply dead in the morning, and we have got to be very much alive. We do miss the Weatherbee. I don't see why we let her go. Dear, prim, prompt Weatherbee! Now we know we loved her. Her successor is too young to be motherly."
"Jane Allen, you're a pest," groaned Judith. "I can't hear a thing but words, and I suppose you are calling me names. Who's this guy Bed, I heard you mention? Lead me to her," and whether the collapse was assumed or real Judith rolled over twice and once more stretched out on the long runner at Jane's feet.
"Have it your own way. Stay there if you insist and sneeze your head off, but I'm going to bed," decided Jane helplessly.
"That's the girl. Her name is Bed. I want to meet her. Heard so much about her. Jane dear introduce me, there's a dar—link," Judith muttered.
"Someone is coming and I just hope it is Prexy or Proxy. I'll open the door wide as I can," declared the outraged Jane.
She stepped over the long girl but even the tap on the door did not disturb Judith.
"It's I—are you up, Jane?" The voice came as the tap subsided.
"Yes Dozia. Come along in. I can't get Judy to bed. Just look at her!"
"Poor child," commiserated Dozia, surveying the figure on the floor very much as a policeman looks upon an ambulance case. "We ought to help her. Is the day bed translated?"
"Yes, I got it ready. But Judy won't undress," Jane protested.
"Why need she? If I ever slept like that I would murder a disturber. Just get hold of that rug Janie, and we'll dump her into bed."
Judith was actually sleeping when the two compassionate friends picked up the rug, hammock fashion, and proceeded to "dump her into bed." She never moved voluntarily. Judith Stearns knew a good thing when it came her way, and what could be better than this?
"She'll ruin her skirt," suggested Jane as they drew the rug out from under the blue accordion pleats.
"What's a mere skirt compared with that?"
Dozia stood aside to admire the unconscious Judy, but striking a statuesque pose she caught the critical eye of Jane and was rewarded with a most complimentary smile.
"Where did you get that wonderful robe, Dozia?" Jane asked. "You simply look like—like some notable personage in those soft folds and with your hair down. What a pity we must make ourselves ugly to be conventional."
"Ain't it now," mocked Dozia, abusing language to make comedy. She swung the velveteen folds about her and spun around to wind them tighter. "Like this? Do I resemble a movie queen? That's what brought me, Janie. This nocturnal visit is consequent upon a disaster. My hammer, the one I put my queens up with, fell through the mirror. Silly little hammer. You know how this house staff feels about breaking looking-glasses."
"Yes, spoils the set of course. You are not insinuating anyone here might be superstitious? I am awfully sorry you broke the mirror. How did it happen?"
"Sissh!" Dozia sibilated, pointing to Judith who had actually turned over. "Don't wake her, this really is a secret. Girlie," dragging Jane down into a chair, "have you noticed that ugly, fat, common country girl, with the wire hair and gimlet eyes? Well, she came in, pushed her way in really, and squatted down plumb in my best Sheraton chair. The size of her!" (This with seething indignation.) "I was so provoked—why, Jane, what is the matter? You are frightened or nervous or something. Have you seen a ghost anywhere?" broke off Dozia.
"Oh no, but I am so tired," Jane edged away from the suspector. "After all I do believe Judy is sensible, see her slumber."
"Jane Allen, you are a fraud," pronounced the girl in the velveteen robe. "You are smothering some mystery and I must have stepped on the spring," guessed the inquisitive caller. "Was it the tack hammer or the spindle chair or the fat girl? Not she, you have had no chance to do uplift work yet. Land knows that farmer will need your greatest skill, but dear, don't waste it on her. She's incurable."
"Bad as all that?" asked Jane colorlessly. "But what happened? You did not try to hit her with the hammer I hope?"
"I didn't try to hit her, I did hit her. It fell accidentally on her fat head and she tossed it through the mirror. Now what can a girl do in a case like that?"
The haunted look, so foreign to the face of Jane, shaped itself again.
"Is she—did you hurt her?"
"I hope so," dared Dozia. "It would be a charity to send her home. Her name is Shirley Duncan and she's from some country town. But Jane, if she gets really horrid, I mean more horrid than she is now, I want you to stand by me. That's what I came for."
"All right Dozia," said Jane, "but I hope it won't have to go as far as that."
"Me too," responded the carefree Dozia. "But there's no telling what Shirley may do."
For some moments after Dozia glided out Jane stood there, her gray eyes almost misty.
"Of all the tragedies!" she was thinking. Then with a jerk she pulled herself up. "But I guess I can handle it," she declared finally, and when she succeeded in rousing Judith no one would have suspected anything new amiss.
Jane Allen might have worries but they could not dominate her. Sunny Jane, with sunny hair and gray eyes, was no mope. It would take fight to conquer this new condition, she realized, but Jane could fight, and her dreams on this first night back in college were strangely confused with school-day battles.
More than once she awoke with a start, as if some danger were impending, and a sense of uneasiness possessed her. Each time it seemed more difficult to fall back into slumber, and all this was new, indeed, to happy Jane.
"Daddy!" she murmured. "It's because of daddy's——"
She was finally sound asleep.
THE MISFIT FRESHMAN
Yes, they were back in college and work was waiting. This thought invaded confused brains and stood out like a corporal of the guard, shouting orders into lazy ears on Wellington campus next morning.
Jane Allen threw first one slipper and then another at Judith Stearns' bed across the room from her own. But still Judith's hand ignored the hair brush on the chair at her elbow.
"Judy," called Jane, "the warning bell has warned. Turn down the corner on that dream and wake up." Each word of this climbed a note in tone until the last was almost a shout. Then Judith's hand moved to Jane's slipper on her own (Judith's) forget-me-nots, the little floral pieces that adorned a very dainty garment with the embroidery on Judith's chest—arms and neck ignored in the pattern.
"What say?" she muttered sleepily.
"Up," answered Jane. "Ever hear that little word before?"
"Yep, pony riding," drawled Judith. "Up, up, one, two, three, go!" and at this Judith sprang up with such vigor and volume (in point of scope) that she sprang over the neighboring bed and swooped down on Jane's hat box! Her black hair now fell fearlessly over the embroidered forget-me-nots, and her bare feet shot in their usual skating strike.
"Good thing that hat box is the new kind," commented Jane, "but even at that it will hardly serve as a divan. Still, I am glad you are up. Do you know where you are, Judy Stearns? And what you are expected to do today?"
"All of those things and additional horrors are seething through my poor brain," moaned Judith, "but a moment ago I was having a fast set of tennis with adorable Jack St. John—Sanzie they call him. Have I told you about him, Jane darling?" Judith gathered herself and her feet up from the black enameled box and glided over to her own corner.
"No, Judy, I do not recall Sanzie," replied Jane, who was already armed with soap and towel for the lavatory. "But keep the story. I shouldn't like to get interested in boy tennis just now. We must forget—" proclaimed Jane in tones so dramatic a poet calendar on the wall trembled in the vocal waves. "Forget! forget——" and Jane was outside the door with a sweeping wave of her big fuzzy towel and a rather alarming thrust of her fist full of soap.
"Ye-eah," groaned Judith, "forget is the word, Sanzie and tennis." She glanced at the tiny clock on a shelf of the bracket type. It was Jane's idea the clock should not be cluttered with surroundings.
"Gee-whiz! It is late, and this the first day. Glad the others on this corridor are all nice and punctual."
In bathrobe and slippers Judith soon followed Jane down the long hall. Neither dallied long in the plunge, for Judith was wide awake now, and presently, after dressing and patting herself and belongings into place, she confronted Jane with this: "I heard Dozia Dalton last night. And I know there will be trouble about the farmer girl. Jane, tell me, is she the scholarship?"
"Yes," almost gasped Jane the irreproachable. "And to think that I, in any way, should be responsible for bringing her to college!"
"But you are not, Janie dear," soothed Judith. "That your father should give this college a scholarship each year is a noble thing, and how can you tell who may win it? That girl is—well, a bit raw," she ground her mouth around the word, "but we have nothing to do with that. She doesn't belong among the juniors, and just leave it to little Judy to steer her off. Don't go trying any uplift; just cut her dead and watch her wilt. From the ashes there may arise a nice little green thing, even if it is of the common garden variety of onion. Now Jane, you have got to do exactly that. Keep Shirley Duncan on her own grounds. Shoo her out of junior haunts."
"You are right, Judy. I have been tortured with the idea that I would have to play fairy godmother to that—that 'hoodlum.' Honestly, did you ever see so ordinary a girl in Wellington?"
"Never. But then she may be a genius. I have read such descriptions of them. There's the first breakfast bell. Smile now and disappoint the horde. They think you have been crossed in love and the old maid depression has settled upon you. You acted that way yesterday," teasingly.
Jane's laugh pealed out at this. It was like ragging a down scale, that rippling crescendo, and Judith needed no other assurance of her friend's good humor.
But the day's tasks left little time for trifles. College work is serious and exacting, each day's programme being carefully and even scientifically marked out to make the round year's schedule complete. Jane and Judith, juniors, with a reputation made in their previous years, "buckled" down to every period with that intelligence and determination for which both had been credited.
Everything was so delightful and the autumn air so full of promise! Jane could not find a true reason for the haunting fear that seemed to follow her in the person of that crude country girl, who somehow had won the Alien scholarship.
It was in free time late the next afternoon that this fear took definite shape. Jane and her contingent were leaving the study hall when Shirley Duncan brushed up through their arm linked line.
She was garbed in a baronet satin skirt of daring hue with an overblouse of variegated georgette. This as a school frock! At first glance Jane almost recoiled, then the possibility of delayed baggage suggested itself and softened her frown.
"Don't notice her," whispered faithful Judith.
Jane's glance just answered when the unpopular freshman broke through the line, grasped Jane's hand and deliberately forced a folded slip of paper into it. Then, with a mocking smile that ran into an audible sneer, she turned and sped away. Her awkward gait and frank romping so close to Wellington Hall brought questioning glances from the line of juniors.
"What's that, Jane Allen?" asked Janet Clarke good-naturedly. "I hope you are not doing uplift for anything like that this year?"
"The merry little mountain maid," mocked Inez Wilson, doing a few skips and a couple of jumps in demonstration.
"How on earth did she ever make Wellington?" demanded the aristocratic Nettie Brocton, disapproval spoiling her leaky dimples.
"Girls, you are horrid!" declared Judith to the rescue. "You all know the freaks love Jane. It's her angel face," and Judith playfully stroked the cheek into which streaks of bright pink threatened admission of guilt—that Jane really knew the uncouth country girl.
"She's a stranger to me," said Jane truthfully, "but in spite of that I must respect her confidence." The crumpled note was thereat securely tucked into the pocket of Jane's blouse.
Winifred Ayres tittered outright, but the advent of Dozia Dalton furnished a welcome interruption.
"Girls," she panted, "what ever do you think? Dol Vincez, our dangerous adversary of last year, runs the beauty shop beyond our gate! Can you comprehend the audacity?"
"We can when you say Dolorez," replied Jane. "Do you actually mean to say she has set up the College Beauty Shop at our very door?"
"She has!" declared the excited Dozia. "Who would dare trust a live and workable phiz to that—traitor?"
"Not I," said Velma Sigsbee.
"Nor I," from Maud Leslie.
"My face must serve me this term," added Inez Wilson, twisting her features to make sure they worked well.
"All the same," demurred Judith, "the temptation is not to be laughed at. Just imagine real dimples speared in," with a finger poked in Maud Leslie's cheek, "and long silky lashes tangles in one's violet gaze——" This was too much even for staid juniors and the race that followed almost justified Shirley's much criticised romp. With this difference: Wellington Hall was now out of the shadows made by the swaying stream of laughing students darting in and out of the autumn sunshine that lay like stripes of panne velvet on the sward, but Shirley's run had begun at the very steps.
Recreation had its limits and that day was counted lost into which a race over the pleasure grounds had not been crowded. It might be for tennis, or even baseball, or yet to the lake, but a run was inevitable. And so they ran.
Did you read your note, Dinksy?" Judith asked Jane, using the particular pet name adopted because of its very remote distance from the original.
"You know I did, Pally." This was from Pal, of course.
"A bomb threat?"
"Not quite." Jane's hair was rebellious this morning and just now received a real cuffing at its owner's hands.
"How perfectly peachy you would look bobbed, Dinksy. That color and those smooth silky curls! How the angels must have loved you. Know this line?
"'Methinks some cherub holds thee fair, For kissing down thy sunny hair I find his ringlets tangled there!'"
"You would," interrupted Jane sacrilegiously. "More than his ringlets tangled here this morning," with a final jab of the strongest variety of golden bone hair-pin. "Aunt Mary always said my mood (she meant temper) affected my hair. And I am sure she was always right about it."
"Well, you don't have to tell me about the note if you don't want to, Janie," pouted Judith. "But my idea is, you need counsel and I am as ever the expert."
"Fair Portia, thou shalt be my counsel ever. I had no thought of hiding the little note," insisted Jane, "but it is horribly disappointing. Wait until I rescue it from the basket. There's always a charm about the original." "Don't bother, please, Jane," begged Judith. "We are almost late and I hope for a set of tennis before class. I need it every day to keep off the heartbreak. Darlink Sanzie," she sniffled. "To think he will nary again bat a ball in my black eye."
"Why never again? There are other vacations."
"But no more Jacks like Sanzie. He is unique and has opened a law office by now. Can't you see his stenographer kicking his shapely shins as he dictates? They always do that in the movies, and Sanzie is so up to date, even as to shins. Now, Janie dear, let's along. En route you may tell me about the bomb threat. The corridors are clear."
"She simply wants a chance to talk to me, that's all——"
"But she can't have it," declared Judith. "As your counsel I forbid it. Just give that girl a chance and she will bind you over, body and soul; refined blackmail, you know. Don't you dare answer that note until I dictate the reply," Judith swung her arm around Jane's waist in the most all-embracing manner. "Please, Dinksy," she almost whispered, "wait until we are free this afternoon."
Thus they separated; Judith for her tennis and Jane for a turn on Bowling Green.
But Jane had a deeper problem to solve than even her chum suspected. There was the broken mirror in Dozia's room and the fact that Dozia had actually hit Shirley on the head with a hammer!
"A pretty record that—and made on the first night in college," Jane reflected.
Undoubtedly the freshman's demand that Jane "see her at once" had to do with the outrage. And the interview would be granted, of course, that very afternoon unless Judith interfered.
Incidentally Judith was turning the situation over in her own good- natured mind.
"I would just like to see that gawk get Jane wound up in her miseries," she told herself, while Janet Clarke hunted for stray tennis balls in the hedge. "Jane is such a dear with sympathy that this girl's very crimes would appeal to her—in compassion. No-sir- ree!" She volleyed a vicious ball—"Jane will not see the impossible Shirley alone just yet."
Meanwhile news of Dolorez Vincez's Beauty Shop had spread over the college like a holiday notice. Dolorez was the South American girl who had been expelled from Wellington the previous year because of irregularities in many things but particularly in basket ball games. As told in the book, "Jane Allen: Center," this young lady was really a teacher of athletics, and had been posing as an amateur. Being forced to leave college after opening a prohibited beauty shop she vowed vengeance, and many of the students now felt the Beauty Parlor, opened at the very gates of Wellington and widely advertised, was about to assume the dangers of a golden spider web.
The girls were fairly quivering with excitement, when Dozia Dalton, herald of the sensation, condescended to tell everybody all she knew about the whole thing.
Velma Sigsbee would insist upon interrupting with silly questions, such as the price of a bob or the possible pain of operating for double dimples, but eventually Dozia told the story while Ted Guthrie held Velma's hand in a compelling grip. It was over on the long low bench by the ball field where practice should have been kicking up a dust. But Dol's Beauty Parlor outrage was too delectable to forego even for a final ball game,
"It's perfectly darling," confided the idolized Dozia (any girl with that story on her person would be idolized although Dozia was individually popular). "The place, I mean. It's fitted up——"
"Were—you in?" gasped Winifred Ayres.
"No, of course I was not in," disdained Dozia. "No one who ever knew the trickery of Dolorez Vincez would enter that place."
"Why?" asked the innocent Nettie Brocton. "Would she really do something dreadful——"
"She would, really," declared Jane, her tone not easy to interpret. "She could turn your hair a bright red like mine by mere chemical action of her ventilating system."
"Really!" implored the dimply girl.
"Pos-i-tive-ly!" declared Jane. "But don't attempt it dear. She would send your dad an awful bill for doing a stunt like that. Think of the price of hair like mine!"
That suggestion brought disaster to Jane, for Ted Guthrie swayed at the very end of the bench and the whole line almost went over backwards. It was in Ted's attempt to punish Jane for her vanity that the sudden sweep, like a current in physics, jerked feet from the ground and upset balance generally. Some seconds elapsed (and each was precious) before things again settled down, including Velma's crochet balls, Janet's book, pad, and pencil, Dozia's small bottle of salted peanuts as well as other sundries and supplies.
"Please finish the yarn," implored Nettie Brocton. "Do tell us, Dozia, how the place is fitted up."
"First tell us, please," insisted judicial Judith, "how do you know how it is fitted up? Does our plumber plumb there?"
During all this nonsense Jane cast many a furtive glance along Linger Lane, expecting the obnoxious Shirley to loom up large and lanky by the way, but as yet she had not darkened the shadowy path. If Jane could run off to the Rockery, that landmark between freshman and later college campus lines, there to meet and have done with the demands of her erstwhile tormentor. But no, Judith was openly demanding Jane's concentration on the bench, and every point made by Dozia in her tale of the beauty shop Judith flung at Jane in direct challenge for stricter attention. She was not going to escape if Judith Stearns knew it, and she surmised the intention.
It had finally been told to tingling ears that the poisoned beauty shop, as Winifred Ayres, the writer, had already dubbed the place, was done in wonderful mirrors, and shiny faucets, windy wizzing hair fans and electric permanent wavers and curlers; and when the full description had been given, more girls than one sighed, groaned and grumbled.
"To think it has to be taboo," spoke Ted Guthrie. "Dol was always a wizard, and now thus equipped she might have a lovely way of fanning me thin."
"And fattening me nice and fluffy with the same fan," sighed Winifred.
"My freckles might float away like powder from the butterfly's wings," with a weird fluttering of Dozia's long arms.
"But hair!" exclaimed Judith. "Think of turning me into a golden blonde with eyes like blue-bells under dewiness——"
"It cannot be! It cannot be!" moaned Dozia. "Instead we must raid the place and banish the traitor. How about that for stunt night with the sophs?"
"Wonderful!" sang out Juliette De Puy. She had listened and waited with a certain reserve for which this capable Juliette was famous, but now that the story was told she deigned to add that one word "wonderful." Everyone looked at her suddenly.
"And have you tell the sophs," blurted out Nettie Brocton. "Dozia Dalton you have spoiled it all. Didn't you see we had company?"
"Never noticed the lovely Juliette. Never mind Julie, you may tell the crowd all you've heard," condescended the redoubtable Dozia. "We enjoyed having you and it is perfectly all right."
"Thanks. Come over to our camp some night and I'll do as much for you. I just came in this afternoon, you know, to sub on the ball team."
"Instead of which you subbed on the gossip club," finished Jane, jumping up. "I've got to go back to my room. Don't let me hurry anyone," she said indifferently. Then, just as a strange figure turned from the big boxwood bumper into the lane, Jane escaped.
She hurried to meet Shirley Duncan.
THREATS AND DEFIANCE
The girl approaching was not so easy to appraise as her unusual costume proclaimed her to be. Jane realized this; country girls are apt to make such mistakes, and even dinner gown tags on school day togs would hardly be proof positive of inferiority, Jane reflected.
Shirley Duncan swung along with a careless stride, but even the pose might cover embarrassment. Jane sent a welcome smile out to meet her and the stranger jerked her head rather saucily in recognition.
"Have I kept you waiting?" asked Jane in the best of humor.
"Well, rather," replied the freshman, "but I knew better than to break in on that crowd," with an arm sweep toward the ball field. "Can we go up to your room for a few minutes?"
Jane thought quickly. To go to her room might mean an interruption from Judith; also it might mean the danger from an undisciplined voice.
"I have been indoors so much today," she replied, "and our lovely days are flying so, suppose we go over to the rose summer house? We won't be interrupted there and we will both have the benefit of a longer time out of doors. I suppose you feel it, freshmen usually do." They were moving toward the rustic house that looked rather desolate in its coat of faded rose leaves.
"Oh, freshmen feel everything, I suppose," replied the other, "but I can't see why we should be openly abused for all that. I heard there was no more hazing allowed in colleges?"
"We have never hazed at Wellington," Jane said rather indignantly, "and Miss—Miss Duncan, I am sure no one will ever attempt the least abuse even in a spirit of fun at this college."
"They won't, eh?" type broke out in that challenge. "Well, that is just what I wanted to see you about. I suppose I'm not good enough to go to your rooms." Lip curled, nostrils quivered and head jerked up impertinently with that accusation.
"Why, Miss Duncan—" floundered Jane.
"Why don't you call me Shirley? Isn't that a swell enough name?" interrupted the other.
Jane dropped down on the summer house seat with a thud. Here was a problem surely. Antagonism fairly blazed in the girl's dark eyes. Yet she was a stranger—actually Jane's guest.
"Shirley is a very sweet name and I have always loved it," replied Jane frankly. "But my dear young lady, we must not quarrel. We shall never get acquainted that way."
"Oh no, the juniors may do all the quarreling. We freshies must just turn the other cheek of course. But I suppose you know that long lanky friend of yours, they call some foolish name like Doses, hit me on the head with her hammer the other night?"
"You mean Dozia Dalton—yes, she told me her hammer slipped—"
"Slipped indeed!" more scorn and lip curling. "She deliberately dropped it on my head—"
"And you threw it at the mirror," broke out Jane, weary of acting the angel without gaining the slightest return from this rude girl.
"Yes, I broke it and I'm glad of it! Now what are you going to do about it?" Two hands not really pretty, dug deep into the satin skirt pockets, and Shirley Duncan towered over Jane Allen defiantly.
"What am I going to do about it?" repeated Jane. But the irony was lost on her companion. "You did not ask to see me just to be offensive?" parried Jane.
"No indeed, I wanted to remind you I am in this college because your father gave a scholarship, and I suppose that would mean you might be nice to me at least."
"I'm sure I want to be," Jane quickly toned down. "But no girl can make friends with another when she insists on quarreling. I am willing to pay for the broken mirror—"
"You don't need to trouble yourself; if it is to be paid for I'll do it myself. My folks wouldn't let me—sponge on anybody."
"Sponge," repeated Jane, frowning with something like disgust. "Please don't use such horrible slang."
"Oh my! I suppose a scholarship girl must be a mouse or a kitten. Well, when I took it I understood no one in Wellington was to know about it and that the scholarship girl had equal rights with every other girl."
"So she has and no one here does know who wins the scholarship." Somehow Jane stumbled over the word. It was fraught with terror in the hands of this impossible creature.
"Well, I don't believe it" (no regard for Jane's veracity), "but I'll hold on awhile and see." (Condescending, thought Jane.) "My folks always wanted me to go to college and I just came to satisfy them. I don't give a snap for all the high brow stuff and I might as well tell you I am nearly dead with homesickness." (She didn't look it, Jane observed.) "But I'm no quitter, so I intend to stick. Now let's get back to the girl who hit me. Can you make her apologize?"
"No," said Jane flatly, "and what's more I have no intention of trying to. You brought trouble on yourself by going into Dozia's room without being invited. You should know that the younger girls, the freshmen, are not supposed to take such privileges. Then when you annoyed my friend" (Jane almost kissed the word) "she told you outright she was busy and did not want to be bothered. Next thing, you deliberately sat under her stepladder. Do you like to get in the open path of tack hammers?"
"Love to," sneered Shirley. "And I'm crazy about playing ball with them when mirrors are up for back stops. All right, go ahead, as far as you like. I believe now what I heard about the Jane Alien crowd. A lot of goody goodies, too stuck up to bother with country girls." Jane jumped from her seat and gasped at an interruption but did not succeed in sustaining it. "But I've got friends around here who know the ropes. They are not freshies either, so don't bother about me, Miss Allen. I'll see about the looking-glass and the girl who hit me with her hammer."
Jane let her go, was actually glad to see the last of the satin skirt as it swished out into the winding path, nor did she immediately follow it. Instead she sat there, tearing little red rose hips from the tenacious vines and tossing them away regardless of their artistic value as decorative winter berries.
"Tragic," she muttered, "positively tragic. And that is what my darling dad wasted a perfectly good scholarship on." Thoughts of "dad" mercifully intervened and saved the girl's temper further violence. "But what puzzles me is how that girl ever won the scholarship?" Jane silently questioned, and in that unspoken sentence she unconsciously shaped the key to fit the mystery.
How did this girl win the scholarship? For some moments longer Jane sat there. She went over again the incident of Dozia's tack hammer. That she could depend absolutely on Dozia, and knew this strange girl had done more than sit in the path of the showering tack hammer was irrefutable.
"Dozia was a little bit reckless of course," admitted the mentor, "and she did seem to coddle the fact that her hammer fell on Shirley's head. I recall she even said she was glad it hit her and hoped the blow would send the freshie home to her 'maw.'"
Jane wanted to laugh but she refrained. There was a strange proctor in office this year to be considered. If dear old Miss Weatherbee were still in charge it might be much easier to explain the accident.
"And that girl defied me with a threat of friends! She has friends who are not in the freshman ranks? I remember she said that. Who can they be? My enemies naturally," decided Jane.
How these enemies would fill that foolish head with nonsense, and how far they might urge her on to mischief if not to actual danger, Jane Allen did not venture to estimate.
"But Dozia tried first shot to send her home to her 'maw!'"
The humor of the situation now struck Jane like a blow on the funny bone, and she burst out laughing in the very face of the thorny rose bush.
"After all it is too delicious!" she told herself. "And even if she is my dad's scholarship girl there's a heap of fun in the ridiculous situation. I'll find Judy and tell her the whole thing. Too good to keep; too funny to spoil," and the blue serge skirt that fanned the boxwood a moment later never swished a swish. Jane did not give it tune to do so.
JANE AND JUDITH
Oh, do tell me, Janie. I was watching behind the big elm the whole time. Couldn't hear a word of course, but I could have seen any attempt at violence. That girl, I tell you, is no ordinary 'critter.' I fully expected she would draw something from that broad satin belt. But do tell? What was it all about?"
"Thank you for the chance, Judy, I was just wondering when you would take breath. It is funny—so funny I am laughing all over," and the gray eyes sent out sparks of mirth, as a senior might have put it.
"Isn't it!" howled Judith, pegging a pillow at Jane's head to keep the fun a-going or the "pot a-boiling" as you will.
"I don't know where to begin Judy. At first I was sort of awe- stricken. Considering the handicaps poor Shirley has loaded herself up with——"
"Including the name. Have you analyzed that?"
"Yes, love, I have. Some maiden aunt with a paper covered library must have inflicted her with that. It doesn't suit at all, although she seems very proud of it."
"And no chance of her growing into it either. Like a chauffeur named Claude or Clarence. Her last name now would be much snappier for her. Duncan makes a topping Dunny," suggested Judith.
"But the girl would never believe that," sighed Jane. "She asked me to call her Shirley and I tried to; now, Judith, listen. Here are a few difficult facts. Shirley Duncan is bound to fight. She has been brought up in the school of affectionate antagonism, and with her it is a case of getting the best of everyone and everything. I did not say getting the better, I mean best."
"I savvy, as our old friend cow-boy Pedro would say. Have you heard from home lately, Dinks?"
"Yes, Judith. All well and lonely. But please concentrate. This matter is serious. Shirley threatened me with friends—says she has friends here who are not freshies. Can you guess who they may be?"
"Never saw a girl speak to her a second time unless she, Shirley, stepped on the other's toes or knocked her hat off. Then the conversation was naturally brief and snappy. It happened to Mabel."
"I can't imagine whom she means, but they are somewhere ready to pounce on us, so let us beware. Next point is: she seems to have money: offered to pay for the broken mirror. In fact she sort of lorded it over me."
"Dozia should strike for a new vanity dresser. One with three side glasses big enough to reflect her wonderful, long flowing locks. A rare chance for Dozia."
"But how could a girl coming in on scholarship have money to squander?" reflected Jane.
"That maiden aunt with the paper covered novels would love good looking-glasses. It might be the salvation of this Shirley girl, if she did have access to a true mirror."
Judith snapped the top on her fountain pen and slammed shut her note-book. Indifferent work was worse than none, she seemed to have decided.
"Had you finished your Lat? Isn't it awful to have to work off a condition? Please don't let me bother you ever, Jude, when you have that task on hand," said Jane seriously.
"I have and it is, if you kept your two questions properly tabulated. You see I am straining for mental stuff. I want to improve the old condition of forgetfulness. That was what knocked friend Virgil, or was it Cicero? I loved the stories and forgot the period. But I am finished for this evening, dear, and you know we have some initiation stunts to take part in. I am glad they are so simple. It seems to me each year the nonsense gets more rational."
"It really does, and I think, as you do, that shows progress. We can all enjoy better fun than that of afflicting the innocent. Of course we still have to have some ceremony or the young 'uns wouldn't think they were really in college. I just wonder how it will strike our rebel Shirley?"
"That interests me too, Dinksy. Let's go and see. We have some lovely little babes this year. That ivory blonde, the timid one with a most atrocious name, Sarah Something, I just love her, don't you?"
"Sarah Howland, I saw Inez marking her card. Yes, she is sweet in spite of her name. Rather a pity sponsors cannot show discrimination. Here is your sweater. Better take it; the wind whistles. I'll pull my riding cap down as a disguise. It takes in most of this-wig," Jane was struggling to stuff her bright tresses into the pocket of her black velvet jockey cap. The effect towered like a real English derby and Judith danced in delight.
"I'll try that with my tarn," she declared. "One's hair is always the surest give-away. Here are the masks—hanging neatly on the nail of last year's tenants. I call that thoughtful."
Mysterious calls and whistles were now creeping in under doorways and through transoms. The sophs were ready to initiate the frightened little freshmen. Tales of "they will do this and they won't do that" had little effect on the individual candidate, but served to keep up the collective nerve by way of distraction.
"If they hold us under the pump I'll be glad of it," sang out Shirley the Rebel. "Haven't had a decent drink of water since I left home, and I suppose the pump has a spring."
"And it's warm enough to enjoy a dip in the lake if they abduct us in canoes," added Jessie Whitely. "I'm almost suffocated in this big thing," with an impatient jerk at the criminal's black robe.
"Say your prayers, say your prayers!" chanted another of the group, seconded by moans and groans. They were waiting like prisoners jammed into the gym lobby, and a guard of sophs patrolled the entrance.
Noticeable in the assemblage was little Sarah Howland-noticeable because she sat on a window sill all alone and dangled her feet contentedly. She actually appeared to be enjoying the prospect of being "roughed." Shirley was noisy as usual, and for once her raillery seemed appropriate. The more timid girls had taken shelter about her, as if expecting she would easily and even gaily vanquish the attacking foe.
Friends had the strong girl now if never before, and she fairly expanded under the compliment. She would show the sophs what country training did for a girl in the way of self-protection, and a few stories of real or fancied battles at High School (no town mentioned) also served to thrill her audience until Shirley came near being popular for the once.
"Of course we shall have to do foolish things," mused Eleanor Meed, "but I won't mind as long as I am not forced to eat something I hate or drink vinegar—"
"Don't worry on that score," spoke up Marie Coeyman. "Nothing like that is apt to be attempted. I heard some of the sophs say—"
"Because they knew you were listening," discerned another. "Don't take any stock in what you overheard. They are apt to do directly contrary to loudly whispered plans."
"But whatever it is to be, I do wish they would get at it and let's have it over," growled Shirley. "It's no fun being cooped up here—"
"Hush, don't let the guards hear you complaining," cautioned Marie. "It's like a trial, you get more for contempt of court if you don't accept your sentence gracefully."
The shuffling of many feet along the stone walk put an end to further speculation.
"Here they come! Here they come!" went a tremor through the crowd of candidates, and when the doors were thrown open a masked committee confronted them.
Orders, all kinds and volumes of them, poured in quickly as tag numbers could be singled out. Some were taken in little groups of four "outside to cool off." Others were commanded to hop around in circles, while still more were given such individual commands as seemed most antagonistic to their particular propensities.
Shirley was still unmolested. She stood bravely awaiting her turn, now and then flinging out a wild arm to make sure its muscles were in good shape for the fray.
Finally someone (we hope it was not Judith) called her number— sixty-eight, and she sprang to the chalk line with what is usually termed alacrity, but it really sounded much more ominous.
"Does your head hurt?" asked the voice, and Shirley nodded. She thought that might be safest.
"What hit you?" went on the prosecutor.
"A hammer!" responded Shirley.
"A nice hard tack hammer?" came the query again.
"Lovely," spoke the bewildered girl.
"What did you do with it?" asked the inquisitor.
There was no response. The Rebel was getting indignant.
"Quick," demanded a second member "of the firing squad."
"I threw it away," faltered sixty-eight.
"What did it hit?"
"A looking-glass." This reply came quickly enough.
"And the glass smashed?"
"Yes, madam," prompted a guard.
"Yes, madam," repeated Shirley with a quiver.
"For which show of temper you are to dust that room every day for a full week, and you may come along now and get your first lesson."
Shirley straightened up defiantly.
"Go on! Go on!" begged the little freshman recognized as the pretty Sarah Howland. "Hurry or they will make it worse."
The leader marched out and Shirley followed. Those who had heard the sentence realized the misery it inflicted that the strongest girl should be denied the pump, the lake, tree climbing and even boxing possible or gym work, for a mean little contemptible stunt like dusting Dozia's room!
Arrived at the room someone stuck something on Shirley's nose. She attempted to brush it off but was warned not to do so. Presently she realized it was a feather, and it seemed to stick in glue on the very point of her nose!
We will spare the reader an account of Shirley's agony as she vainly tried to "dust" with that feather on her nose. It was too humiliating, but a freshman should not have shown such temper, and there was still the cracked mirror to accuse her!
Every piece of furniture in the room had to be "dusted," that is it was brushed with the evil feather, which somehow or other did stay on the candidate's nose; and if the spectators clapped and laughed Shirley could scarcely blame them, for Dozia Dalton had a foolish lot of truck to be dusted. More than once she halted, but was promptly prodded on until finally the humiliating task had been accomplished.
"Good girl!" called out a voice from behind a mask and Judith quickly stepped up to take off the duster. Juniors favor the freshman in spite of such conditions.
"O—uch!" protested the culprit. "It is hard!"
"Wait a minute!" cautioned Jane's voice. "This will remove it. Sit down, sixty-eight."
The unhappy candidate fell into a chair, while someone applied the alcohol cloth and presently the tiny feather fell with its bit of sticky felt into the palm awaiting to catch it.
"Keep your hands down," insisted someone, for Shirley never knew before the glory of a free nose and she just wanted to pet it a little. But her tormentors intended to fix up any damage they might have inadvertently perpetrated on the feature, and what coating didn't come off with the alcohol was quickly covered with Dozia's powder, until the freshman was made to look even better than nature had intended she should.
This fixing up was almost as hateful to Shirley as was the abominable dusting, but she kept her temper-the lesson seemed profitable already.
Jane was arranging the disordered hair, and as she attempted to stroke it with a wet brush Shirley put up a detaining hand.
"Please don't wet it," she begged in a whisper, and Jane stopped short with her brush raised for action.
"Not wet it?" she thought quickly. "That must mean treatment, and treatment meant the forbidden beauty shop!"
This girl had been visiting that shop. More danger ahead, decided Jane, as she lay down the brush and proceeded to finish the dressing dry.
Judith had overheard the request and pinched Jane's arm to admit it, but a loud demand for the freshman from the group rounding up candidates saved further delay and when Shirley left Dozia's room the latter patted her affectionately.
"Don't worry, dear," said Dozia, "I'll be careful not to raise too much dust next week."
But her sentence was not the most serious thing in prospect for the rebel Shirley Duncan. Not even the good times prepared for the candidates served to allay the dread she struggled against, and only her natural delight in the rollicking fun, and the really fine spread served them by the juniors, helped bring the girl back to a happy frame of mind.
Woe unto the freshie who shows ill will at an initiation!
She may be obliged to walk in the gutter for the full first half year, or wear a baby blue ribbon under her chin!
But Shirley had heeded the warnings.
A QUEER MIX-UP
"Jane, the girls are frightened to death. Can you imagine ghost stories having that effect in this staid, solid, absolutely reliable old college?" asked Maud Leslie.
"It is absurd," admitted Jane, "but Maudie, all students are not scientifically inclined as you are. What about the ghost? Who is he and who saw him?"
"He is the usually uncanny weird noise, nothing even original about him. One would expect more of a college ghost. And just as trite and commonplace is the fact that these nocturnal howls come at safe hours when we cannot be expected to go through a fire or panic drill. I call the whole thing disgusting."
"So do I," assented Jane. "But don't worry, Maud. If there is one line of action I like better than another it is that of laying ghosts. Whizz, whack, bang! I'll make the bones rattle if they come my way."
Jane was punching a bag in the gym when Maud unfolded the story of the ghost scare. It was not really news, for Wellington had been buzzing the spirit's ears for days and not until some of the younger students appealed to the older girls did Jane and other juniors give heed to the fear epidemic.
"I'm glad you're still a junior, Jane," commented Maud, taking breath after vaulting a horse or two. "We should never dare to bring such trivial troubles to you were you a senior."
"And I'm glad to be a junior still," replied Jane. "Judith and I decided on this extra year to specialize. But even were I a senior, Maud, I would be happy to hear your heartbreaks," with a twist of her mouth that took care of the paradox.
"Thanks a lot." Blanco, the wooden horse painted white on a former "sorority spree," was cleared by Maud the scientific, and she came up to Jane, a question in the sudden jerk of her bobbed head. "Jane, will you help us organize a ghost raid? We cannot have the freshies all scared blue by someone's nonsense, and Dozia, Inez, Winifred and I have done all we could in the way of investigation. That's a trick ghost, Jane, I am convinced of that much, and it will take a double trick to lay it."
"Certainly I'll organize a raid squad, Maud. I'd love to lead the charge myself. Do we have outposts, and pickets, and-trench companies? Or would a bathrobe drill answer as well?"
"Jane, I am serious," Maud pouted. "I tell you some of the girls are asking to have their quarters changed, and if all were given transfers I am sure Lenox Hall would be abandoned to the ghost. Rather shabby of him to choose the babes' quarters."
"Spooks are cowardly as a rule," replied Jane. "And Maudie dear, I realize you are serious. But I can hardly organize a raiding squad instanter. I must at least have time to round up a few reliable girls. No use going after the 'sperit' with a band of cowards. You know yourself what fun that would be for his spookship." "Oh yes, of course, Jane. I did not mean to be impatient, but the girls just begged me to enlist your leadership. You have always been such a— successful leader."
"Thanks again, girlie. But failure is sure to come to him who tries once too often. Not that I should mind failure, except for the sake of those excited children. Really I hate to think how the ghost will feel when we get through rattling his bones." A sudden dash at a pair of ceiling rings set the whole line dangling along the gym and served to illustrate a possible way of rattling spectral dry bones, although Jane's graceful figure, as she swung to and fro, did much to soften the effect.
"When can we make the raid?" persisted Maud. "I have promised to bring a definite answer."
Jane dropped to the mattress and sat with hands clasped over her knees. "Is this ghost a person of regular habits? Does he take exercise every night?"
"The noise was perfectly dreadful last night, and Velma Sigsbee was visiting Lenox night before and she almost went into hysterics when the rattling began. You know what Velma is for signs. Won't wear a thing green and all that."
"And I suppose she attempts to explain it all on purely reasonable grounds of modern thought. The brand that credits the dead with all power, and limits the living with a very flexible and convenient practical faith. The two work together beautifully, of course, for what we can't understand we must put down to faith, and what we want to believe we are inspired to by our friends on the other side. Dovetails perfectly, sort of a fidele de convenance. Well, Maudie, you may tell the babes that we juniors, their natural guardians, will take care of his ghostship if possible this very night; if not tonight then tomorrow at M. I suppose midnight is the time of clangs and rattles?"
"Yes, the girls say it is always midnight. And I just want to say, Jane, that the big country girl, Shirley Duncan, is the only one not terrified. But I suppose country girls are accustomed to wild things." Everyone seemed loath to add further criticism to Shirley's rather unenviable reputation.
"Oh yes; haunted wells and spooky attics, to say nothing of barnyard 'sperits' that roam about to scare the cows into giving buttermilk and cream cheese," replied Jane. "It might just be—" she hesitated, then jumped to her feet with a little gleeful bounce—"it might be a ghost from Shirley's own home town. Strange we never had one at Wellington before."
"Velma said something like that," admitted Maud. "She said Shirley was so—so antagonistic that her presence here might disturb some friendly communication, and—"
Jane's laugh finished the hypothesis.
"How delicious of Velma!" she exclaimed. "But we must be careful not to bring any more trouble upon poor Shirley. She's only a freshman and has apparently enjoyed few home opportunities," finished Jane.
"But why does she tell the girls such horribly weird stories?" objected the scientific Maud. "She seems to delight in getting an audience for the wildest sort of yarns. And just now naturally they go to the youngsters' heads. Honestly, Janie, no less than three freshmen have begged me to crowd into their quarters tonight. They seem to think a soph might keep off this animated Jinks."
"I can just imagine Shirley telling country ghost stories," reflected Jane, "and I agree with you, dear child, she is very inopportune with them, but it would be worse than useless for me to attempt to interfere. In fact, I think if I did so she would take up Irish Folk Lore to keep stories going. Running out of ghosts she might fall back on fairies. She really seems the queerest girl we have had in a long time."
"Except Dolorez Vincez, she was still more curious," recalled Maud, referring to the South American character in Jane Allen: Center, who still kept within the shadow of Wellington by now running that protested beauty shop just outside the college gates.
"But Dol is something of a foreigner, while Shirley seems to be all American," replied Jane. "Just fancy Americanizing an American born and bred! But this Shirley girl surely needs some sort of treatment. Her week of dusting Dozia's room is up today. I hope the lesson brought down her hoity-toity a peg or two. There come the girls from the village. Be prepared for more ghost stories for I see Ted Guthrie gasping, even at this distance. And behold the windmills— Dozia's arm! Something very exciting must have happened."
"Jane! Jane!" shouted Janet Clarke, the advance guard of the line of girls marching in from the village. "Oh, you missed it! Hello, Maud," seeing Jane's companion. "You girls will stick around a stuffy old gym, will you? Well, then, you have got to miss things. Come on in, children, and watch Jane's hair shoot sparks. Inez, you take the first two paragraphs while I get my breath, and, Winifred, don't forget those adjectives you hit me with under the oaks."
"Do tell?" begged Jane. "Whatever has happened and where is Judith?"
"Arrested!" gasped Inez.
"What? What are you talking about?" demanded Jane. The girls really seemed frightened.
"Yes—she is gone—gone with an officer," panted Inez.
"There, you have had your two paragraphs," interposed Janet. "They were short but complete and I have recovered my breath. It is so exciting, Jane, and so confusing—"
"If you will just be coherent enough to tell me where Judith is we might wait for the emotional details," snapped Jane. "If Judith is in any trouble we have no right to stand around gasping."
"Right, Jane," assented Dozia. "But I did not want to take all the responsibility from Inez. This is what happened. We were coming along Cobble Lane when Judith espied two messenger boys on the rail fence. They were apparently squabbling about something, and just as we came along by the wild cherry tree, a few hundred yards from them, the big fellow gave the little fellow a punch and sent him sprawling in the bushes. Then the big fellow took to his heels—"
"He had something—a package he grabbed from Tim, the little fellow," interrupted Inez.
"Yes, I know, but that is not essential now, we must get to Judith," declared Dozia, showing irritation. "Judith ran—"
"But the policeman darted out from the elderberry clump—"
"Winifred, please!" implored Dozia. "I will not forget to tell that, but if you think you can do it all more intelligently or quickly—"
"Pardon me, Dozia, please, I am just too excited—"
"Did Judith go to help the officer?" demanded Jane impatiently.
"No," fired back Dozia. "It was old Sour Sandy, who always declares we are up to mischief, and when the big boy ran, Judith chased after him while Cop Sandy ran after both. We stood still—"
"He was muttering and threatening so," ventured Janet.
"Were you afraid of him?" charged Jane.
"No, but we could not decide instantly that we should run after Judith. It was all so sudden," said spokesman Dozia. "And of course we realized any more commotion would really get us all in trouble; that old officer is such a crank."
"But to let Judith face it all alone," challenged Jane.
"I really haven't told the one important detail," Dozia vainly attempted to explain. "I was walking with Judith and two other girls were just a little ahead. They were Shirley Duncan and that pretty little thing, Sarah—something—"
"Howland," Jane flung in.
"Yes," went on Dozia. "And Judith seemed so intent on watching them she hardly answered me intelligently."
"There is something up between those two," declared Winifred Ayres. "I know it, and I guess Judy knows it too."
"But what have they to do with the fighting messengers?" demanded Jane, now utterly bewildered from the snarled account.
"The messenger, who got the package from Tiny Tim, shouted at Shirley and she waited. Then, when he could get near enough he threw the paper box to Shirley and she raced off toward the Beauty Shop. When we saw the last of it we couldn't tell whom Judith was chasing, but she ran right into Dol Vin's shop," declared Dozia, "and of course Cop Sandy was not long in doing the same thing. We knew we would be helpless to do anything there if Dol were in, so we came back to see what you would suggest," ended Dozia with a trail of relief in the last few words.
"I suggest that we go after Judith," promptly ordered Jane, and if precious time had been wasted in the recital, the loss was atoned in the pace taken by that rescuing squad as they followed Jane in her race toward Dol Vin's Beauty Shop.
TO THE RESCUE
The Beauty Shop was presently besieged by an excited crowd of girls, and to give due credit to the purely human element it must be admitted the girls were delighted to be there—at the forbidden post.
"Thrilling!" whispered Velma Sigsbee, and she "said it" for all the others.
The redoubtable Dol Vin (short for Dolorez Vincez) appeared at the quaint square paned door. She was gowned in a very close fitting and striking black satin "clinger" gown. Her hair was done in the most modern of styles, like a window show for her hair dressing parlor, and her foreign face, with its natural olive tones, was very much fixed up with many touches of peach and carmine, as well as darker hints under the eyes; and her lashes—well, perhaps Dolorez had been crying inky tears; that was the effect one gathered from a glance at the vampish make-up.
"Is Miss Stearns here?" asked Jane authoritatively. She and Dol had clashed glances before, and Jane had no idea of condescending to the apostate of Wellington.
"Miss Stearns here!" repeated the highly colored lips. Then shoulders shrugged and scorn fairly sizzled through an indescribable sneer. "I do not check up the patrons. She may be in a chair within. Will you enter?"
The girls surrounding Jane tittered audibly. Since when had plain Dol Vin become so foreign?
"En—ter!" drawled Dozia. "Yes, let's," to Jane. This little hiss was intended as a reactionary simper.
"Miss Stearns would not be here on professional business," retorted Jane. "And she would never occupy one of your treatment chairs." Jane hated to dignify anything in the beauty shop with that description, but acid terms were elusive just then; and besides Jane was now getting anxious about Judith.
"Oh, indeed!" more shoulder shrugging and a futurist pose of the black satin "clinger," "What else, then, might the Lady Stearns be doing at my place?"
"Dol Vincez, you just stop that nonsense," flared Dozia Dalton, stepping up to the fancy little door defiantly. "We saw Judith Stearns run in here after Shirley Duncan, and you know very well that old officer Sandy came in after her. Now where is Judith?"
"Isn't it lovely to have you all here? And begging me for something?" Hands on hips, then a shift of the right hand to a very black ball of hair bunched out where the human ear usually reposes. "I am delighted I am sure with this visitation, and I'd love to ask you all in only I'm busy. You will have to excuse me," and with a very Frenchy bow, the Queen of the Beauty Shop got behind the squared glass door and pushed it shut till the latch clicked.
"Shut the door in our faces," growled Velma, as if everyone had not seen the insulting act.
Jane stood for a moment, thinking seriously and swiftly. She was not concerned with the girls about her; neither had she any of their curiosity about the interior of the shop. She was wondering what it all meant, and how she could trace Judith. A brilliant thought captured her. Why not go inside for a shampoo?
She turned to her companions. "I suppose it is perfectly proper under the circumstances to go inside—somehow. I'll apply for a shampoo!"
"But the rest of us?" wailed the curious Velma.
"Ask for something else," suggested the resourceful Jane.
"Perhaps she won't answer the ring," parried Janet.
"Then we'll knock," threatened Jane, as she pressed the little button over the "treatment hours" sign.
They waited. There were Jane, Dozia, Velma, Winifred, Janet and Inez, six palpitating girls, each taking inventory of her possible beauty spots that might need touching up. Even Dol Vin would succumb to such an onslaught of orders, but—
"Suppose she charges us some dreadful price—like five dollars each?" gasped Velma.
"Can't do it," declared Jane. "We'll go by her price list. But no one seems to answer."
"Peeking out, I'll bet," whispered Janet. "Ring three times, Jane, and she'll know we mean business."
Jane followed that advice, but still no answer.
"There's a side door," suggested Dozia, critically inspecting the long, low old stone building that had been put up originally as a rendezvous for Wellington faculty who might want to get away from the buzz of girls and college. It seemed no one had that sort of disease, however, and the rest cure "went to the wall" for want of patronage. Just what company was now financing the rather expensive venture of Dol Vin no one knew, but it must have taken a lot of money even to buy the window scrim, the porch cretonne and the gold lettering on window and door glass. These details were visible from the exterior, and what, oh, what might the interior look like to correspond?
"The side door," agreed Jane, "for all but one or two. Then perhaps we'll get an answer here."
The ruse worked beautifully, for hardly had the tread of feet—eight of them, four pairs—passed down the steps than in answer to a very lady-like ring of Jane's a colored maid drew open the door.
"May I get a shampoo?" asked Jane sweetly, stepping inside as she spoke and covertly motioning Dozia to follow.
"This way, please," said the white-capped and white-frocked, black- faced maid. And behold! Jane and Dozia were within the mysterious parlor!
Neither spoke. Both were listening. Someone was sobbing in the next room and Dol Vin's voice was remonstrating.
As if suddenly realizing the situation the colored maid hurried out. The sobbing ceased instantly and so did the talking. A step through the hall indicated the coming of Dolorez.
"What does this mean?" she demanded angrily, stepping up to Jane with blazing eyes. "How dare you force your way in here?"
"Is not this a public shop?" fired back Jane, equally angry. "Have you not openly solicited Wellington patronage?"
"As if you came for that! If you do not leave at once I shall phone the police!"
"Do," dared Jane. "And I shall demand that they search the place. Someone is hidden here."
A laugh, empty of mirth but bursting with scorn, followed Jane's accusation. It ran down a falsetto scale like pebbles off a tin roof. Then Dolorez turned to summon her maid.
"Yolande!" she called. "Show these persons out."
The perplexed darky muttered, "Yes'm," and proceeded to obey, but Jane and Dozia never moved. They were listening now to noise of another sort. The girls on the side porch seemed to be having a good time of it.
"Come," demanded the inexorable Dolorez. "My time is precious and I must have this room. If you do not both leave I'll phone the college."
"How perfectly absurd you are, Dolorez," said Jane, more alarmed now that no hint of Judith's whereabouts had leaked out. "You know perfectly well we can explain all this, and you also know we are here to find Judith Stearns and we will not leave until you have told us where she is or where she went? May I use your telephone?"
"Judith Stearns is not here," snapped the South American. "And what's more I don't know nor care where she is. I can't spend my time with wild college girls who try to run down poor messenger boys."
"Very well," said Jane, deciding no more time could be wasted in argument. "But I warn you if our friend has been placed in any compromising position, or has been misrepresented to that hateful officer, we shall hold you responsible, for our girls saw her come here."
Jane and Dozia turned to the door. The maid was evidently well pleased with the move, for she showed glittering teeth in an inopportune smile. Dolorez had gained a very high natural color that cut in streaks through her make-up. She was breathing hard, and Dozia, usually fearless, thought it best not to anger her further. She followed Jane without even throwing out a look of defiance or challenge, and when the door closed on their heels both Jane and Dozia felt and really looked pale.
The situation was growing more complicated every moment, and now the girls from the side porch pounced upon the others with frivolous inquiries about that beauty shop.
"Hush," ordered Jane. "Do you realize Judith may have been taken to that horrible old station house? You three go back to college and make sure she has not returned. We, Dozia, Janet and I, will go into the town hall. You can phone us there in twenty minutes. Now hurry and be prudent. Don't spread any sensational stories."
Jane acted like a senior now, but the emergency was sufficiently exacting to demand such forceful means.
Where was Judith Stearns and what was the meaning of Dolorez Vincez' sinister statement, about running down poor messenger boys? Also who could have been sobbing in the room back of the parlors?
"Look!" exclaimed Jane as they left the tanbark walk. "Who is that running from the back driveway?"
"Little Sarah Howland," replied Dozia in amazement. "Whatever can that innocent little thing be doing around here?"
"I—wonder," sighed Jane as they hurried off to the old town hall.
"Jane," murmured Dozia, halting her companion for a moment as a sudden calling was heard through the fields, "do you think that baby can be implicated with those unscrupulous shop keepers?"
"She was in there, and we saw her run," replied Jane. "I would like to doubt my own eyes—"
Dozia grasped her arm and again they hurried on.
"Find Judith!" That was their slogan.
WHAT HAPPENED TO JUDITH
In that mysterious way peculiar to girls, the students knew, without the facts being apparent, that something strange and perhaps even desperate had happened to Judith.
They had not been told any of the details, but when the party walking in from the village was suddenly broken up, first by the incident of the messenger boys' quarrel and then by Judith's disappearance into Dol Vin's beauty shop, with officer Sandy twirling his club and "gum-shoeing" after her, the whole situation was as clear as if the pieces had been patched together on a movie screen.
Judith, fighting for justice, had been ranged with the culprits!
There was no possibility of her return to the college grounds without her companions' knowledge; neither was it probable she had gone to take a youngster's part at the emergency court in the Town Hall without first having notified Jane or some of the other girls. She would have dragged them along with her, for Judith believed in team play for all things, even at trials and courts of alleged justice.
So it was that the girls' anxiety was not so thinly supported as the mere record of events might have indicated; they knew there was something wrong, knew it instantly and knew it positively; and they were right about it, too.
The outstanding fact was a weighty argument. Dolorez Vincez had been expelled from Wellington the year previous; she had vowed vengence against Jane Allen and her friend, Judith Stearns (although both girls had actually interceded for the culprit with the college faculty), and now was the time and this was the place to wreak her vengeance.
In a shorter time than occupies this explanation Jane and Dozia and Janet reached the Town Hall. The ancient building of dingy brick filled a conspicuous spot facing the Square; its carriage stone was a revolutionary relic and two reliable cannon set off the much trampled green diamond in front with something of a stately significance. It was fast growing dark in the early autumn evening, but the excitement of an arrest had drawn a crowd from the few business offices and from the passersby at the supper hour, flanked and reinforced by boys, boys who seem to go with excitement—always, at all times and in all places.
The students made their way into the hall with its sputtering gas light, and while Janet went to the telephone booth, Jane and Dozia hurried to the office of the chief of police.
Both girls had uttered the name and both now elbowed their way through the curious crowd up to the rail, where stood the disconsolate Judith.
"Keep back, keep back," ordered an officer. He was the second and only other active member of "the force" besides Sandy Jamison, he who had "taken Judith in."
Jane and Dozia urged forward in spite of orders, however, and now Judith saw them! She flashed a look first defiant then hopeless. It had defiance for the charge, but was hopeless to make that country court understand. Jane and Dozia answered the code with unwavering determination fairly emitting from their every feature.
But the chief was talking or muttering, and he had been pompously rapping for order.
Officer Sandy was trying desperately to tell his story, but between twirling his club and chewing tobacco he was sorely pressed for a chance to say anything.
"This here girl," he mumbled, "was racin' after a boy with a package of joo-ell-ry. It was joo-ell-ry I know, for them boys from the city store was called to deliver——"
"Never mind about the boys," interrupted the chief, "tell us what the charge is against this girl."
Jane and Dozia exchanged a look complimentary to that chief. He had some sense they privately admitted.
"Yes, yer honor, I'm comin' to that," defended Sandy. "She ran first after a boy, then after a girl, and I seen the package go through the air——"
"Flyin'? Had it wings or was it a toy balloon?" Chief Hadfield was not a man to disappoint his audience, and the laugh that thanked him for this quip set Sandy twirling and chewing more vigorously than ever.
"It was pegged, throwed, fired," shouted Sandy, and his club just touched Judith's sleeve, electrifying her into open indignation.
"Keep that—stick down," ordered the chief, while Judith's indignation subsided.
How pretty she looked standing there in those sordid surroundings! Contrast, the maker of all standards, outlined the tall dark-haired girl in her brilliant red junior cap and definite red sweater, like the central figure in some old time country picture, where urchins and queer men gave her the middle of the stage and plagiarized the scene, "At the Bar of Justice."
"You caught this here flying joo-ell-ry?" demanded the chief.
"Oh no, oh no," parried Sandy. "Someone else caught that," and he waddled his head from side to side in amplification.
"Who? Where is it?" The chief was not playing the gallery now.
"The propri-e-tor of that there beauty institooshun has it, and it's hers. It had her name and address on it."
A sneering titter from the audience followed that foolish statement. Old Sour Sandy had balled things up considerably this time.
"Then what's the charge and who makes it?" shouted and rapped Chief Hadfield.
"Loiterin' and disturbing and I make th' charge!" Sandy put his cap on in the excitement of that speech but quickly yanked it off again in respect to the court.
Jane and Dozia could not remain longer silent. Evidently Judith had been educated in the absurd proceedings before they came. Janet was now in from the telephone booth and stood beside her companions, while Jane attempted to interrupt.
"May I speak?" she called out in the most musical tone her voice would accept.
"Certainly, miss," replied the chief. He evidently did not share the opinion of his subordinate on Wellington girls' character.
"This arrest is an outrage—a frame-up," declared Jane, glad to recall the vernacular. "There are three witnesses here who saw the trouble and we'll find others if you want them. The fact is Officer Jamison is always cross with us students" (she put it mildly), "and he was, perhaps, too willing to listen to our enemies. The proprietor of the beauty shop is a former Wellington student who was asked to withdraw last spring" (again the modification), "and this afternoon she saw her chance to retaliate—to get even." Jane made sure of being understood and now suddenly ceased speaking. She had learned the maxim, "When you say a good thing, stop."
The chief stroked his beard lines (no beard showed just now), then pushed his cap back officially. Judith slid her white hands along the brass rail playfully and even smiled at the man behind it. He was a man if also an officer, and he must know by her manner that Judith Stearns was just a very nice little girl being dreadfully imposed upon.
"Sit down, young lady. We'll be through in a few minutes," said the considerate chief; and Judith dropped to the bench beside Jane, Janet and Dozia. All three could not squeeze her hands at once, but all three managed to do something affectionate, if Janet did have to be content with a mere pluck at the white sweater sleeve.
"Now see here," spoke the chief in a tone of irritated finality. "Sandy, what do you mean by disturbin' and loiterin'?"
"By loiterin' I mean that racin' after them little boys who was going about their business, and by disturbin' I mean—I mean that— that them college girls is allus raisin' a rumpus."
"Discharged!" sang out the chief and he did sing it. The tune of that single word embraced at least three whole tones and suggested several more.
A tumult followed the announcement but the chief rapped again for order.
"I want you people and Officer Sandy to listen to me," he thundered. "Because girls go to a college ain't no reason why they should be pestered" (his errors were truly elegant), "and next time I hear any such fool complaint there'll he some shiftin' of badges. Clear the court!"
And could you blame the Wellingtons present for shaking hands with Chief Hadfield?
Making their way out finally the girls smiled to those in the curious throng who waited to sympathize or congratulate, and just at the end of the dingy hall Judith felt a small, warm hand grasp her own.
"I want to thank you, miss," spoke a hesitant voice. "You saved me from that 'guy' this after-noon, but I'm awful sorry you got into a scrape."
It was Tiny Tim, the messenger boy.
"Oh, that's all right," declared Judith heartily. "I was glad to be on hand and that doesn't matter. Did you manage to deliver the box safely?"
"I got it into the shop but the right one didn't sign for it. I know that 'cause that black haired one has a queer name and the box was for some Sarah Something. But I guess she'll get it all right," he finished with a professional air of certainty. "She comes there a lot."
"A box of jewelry for little Sarah Howland," said Jane to Dozia.
"And the sobbing in the back room," whispered Dozia in answer.
"That was she who ran out the back way," concluded Jane while Judith and the others were busy taking leave of the messenger boy.
"Some experience!" exhaled Judith, stronger and braver for her recent incarceration.
"That, and something else," paraphrased Jane. "But someone please run to that phone and tell the proctor we are coming. They may send the guards out after us. It wants only ten minutes of tea time. Run!"
The command was followed out to the letter.
Talk about antagonism," glowered Janet. "I call the whole proceedings an outrage, and if you want to know what I would do about it, I would ask a Wellington official to sue this dinky little town for damages." She snapped out the words as if each syllable were a blow on the very heads of the offenders.
"Don't you get excited, Janet," cautioned Jane. "We have our lady- like hands very full at the moment, and to run into more trouble would be positively rash. Besides, here is Judy, unrumpled as a babe from its cradle; seems to have enjoyed the whole thing and I can guess why."
"So can we," quickly followed Dozia. "She will put the experience down in her field work for Social Service. This extra year promises to turn out at least two stars in that course."