JANE ALLEN: RIGHT GUARD
By Edith Bancroft
Author of Jane Allen of the Sub-Team
THE SAALFIELD PUBLISHING COMPANY Akron, Ohio New York
THE SAALFIELD PUBLISHING COMPANY
Jane Allen, Right Guard Made in the United States of America
TABLE OF CONTENTS
I DAY DREAMS 1 II A COUNCIL OF WAR 11 III BAD NEWS 17 IV THE REASON WHY 27 V THE UNKNOWN MISCHIEF MAKER 34 VI THE PLOT THICKENS 42 VII AN UNPLEASANT TABLEMATE 51 VIII A HAPPY THOUGHT 63 IX SEEKERS OF DISCORD 72 X A VAGUE REGRET 82 XI REJECTED CAVALIERS 91 XII NORMA'S "FIND" 101 XIII THE EXPLANATION 111 XIV OPENLY AND ABOVEBOARD 122 XV THE RECKONING 132 XVI PLAYING CAVALIER 140 XVII THE EAVESDROPPER 151 XVIII DIVIDING THE HONORS 157 XIX RANK INJUSTICE 167 XX THE RISE OF THE FRESHMAN TEAM 182 XXI REINSTATEMENT 197 XXII MAKING OTHER PEOPLE HAPPY 210 XXIII A NEW FRIEND 224 XXIV THE LISTENER 241 XXV THE ACCUSATION 258 XXVI THE STAR WITNESS 273 XXVII CONCLUSION 299
JANE ALLEN: RIGHT GUARD
"Come out of your day dream, Janie, and guess what I have for you."
Hands behind him, Henry Allen stood looking amusedly down at his daughter.
Stretched full length in a gaily striped hammock swung between two great trees, her gray eyes dreamily turned toward the distant mountain peaks, Jane Allen had not heard her father's noiseless approach over the closely clipped green lawn.
At sound of his voice, she bobbed up from the hammock with an alacrity that left it swaying wildly.
"Of course I was dreaming, Dad," she declared gaily, making an ineffectual grab at the hands he held behind him.
"No fair using force," he warned, dexterously eluding her. "This is a guessing contest. Now which hand will you choose?"
"Both hands, you mean thing!" laughed Jane. "I know what you have in one of them. It's a letter. Maybe two. Now stand and deliver."
"Here you are."
Obligingly obeying the imperative command, Mr. Allen handed Jane two letters.
"Oh, joy! Here you are!"
Jane enveloped her father in a bear-like hug, planting a resounding kiss on his sun-burnt cheek.
"Having played postman, I suppose my next duty is to take myself off and leave my girl to her letters," was his affectionately smiling comment.
"Not a bit of it, Dad. I'm dying to read these letters. They're from Judith Stearns and Adrienne Dupree. But even they must wait a little. I want to talk to you, my ownest Dad. Come and sit beside me on that bench."
Slipping her arm within her father's, Jane gently towed him to a quaint rustic seat under a magnificent, wide-spreading oak.
"Be seated," she playfully ordered.
Next instant she was beside him on the bench, her russet head against his broad shoulder.
"Well, girl of mine, what is it? You're not going to tell me, I hope, that you don't want to go back to college."
Henry Allen humorously referred to another sunlit morning over a year ago when Jane had corralled him for a private talk that had been in the nature of a burst of passionate protest against going to college.
"It's just a year ago yesterday, Dad," Jane returned soberly. "What a horrid person I was to make a fuss and spoil my birthday. But I was only sixteen, then. I'm seventeen years and one day old now. I'm ever so much wiser. It's funny but that is really what I wanted to talk to you about. Going back to Wellington, I mean. I want to go this time. Truly, I do."
"I know it, Janie. I was only teasing you."
Henry Allen smiled down very tenderly at his pretty daughter.
"Of course you were," nodded Jane. "I knew, though, that you were thinking about last year, when I behaved like a savage. I was thinking of it, too, as I lay in the hammock looking off toward the mountains. Dear old Capitan never seemed so wonderful as it does to-day. Yet somehow, it doesn't hurt me to think of leaving it for a while.
"Last year I felt as though I was being torn up by the roots. This year I feel all comfy and contented and only a little bit sad. The sad part is leaving you and Aunt Mary. Still I'm glad to go back to Wellington. It's as though I had two homes. I wanted to tell you about it, Dad. To let you know that this year I'm going to try harder than ever to be a good pioneer."
Raising her head, Jane suddenly sat very straight on the bench, her gray eyes alive with resolution.
"You don't need to tell me that, Janie." Her father took one of Jane's slender white hands between his own strong brown ones. "You showed yourself a real pioneer freshman. They say the freshman year's always the hardest. I know mine was at Atherton. I was a poor boy, you know, and had to fight my way. Things were rather different then, though. There is more comradeship and less snobbishness in college than there used to be. That is, in colleges for boys. You're better posted than your old Dad about what they do and are in girls' colleges," he finished humorously.
"Oh, there are a few snobs at Wellington."
An unbidden frown rose to Jane's smooth forehead. Reference to snobbery brought up a vision of Marian Seaton's arrogant, self-satisfied features.
"Most of the girls are splendid, though," she added, brightening. "You know how much I care for Judy, my roommate, and, oh, lots of others at Wellington. There's Dorothy Martin, in particular. She stands for all that is finest and best. You remember I've told you that she looks like Dearest."
Jane's voice dropped on the last word. Silence fell upon the two as each thought of the beloved dead.
"Dad, you don't know how much it helped me last year in college to have Dearest's picture with me," Jane finally said. "It was almost as if she were right there with me, her own self, and understood everything. I've never told you before, but there were a good many times when things went all wrong for me. There were some days when it seemed to me that I didn't want to try to be a pioneer. I wanted to pull up stakes and run away. I sha'n't feel that way this year. It will be so different. I'll walk into Madison Hall and be at home there from the start. I'll have friends there to welcome——"
Jane's confidences were suddenly interrupted by the appearance of Pedro, the groom, leading Donabar, Mr. Allen's horse, along the drive.
"I've got to leave you, girl." Mr. Allen rose. "I've an appointment with Gleason, to look at some cattle he wants to sell me. I'll see you at dinner to-night. Probably not before then."
With a hasty kiss, dropped on the top of Jane's curly head, her father strode across the lawn to his horse. Swinging into the saddle, he was off down the drive, turning only to wave farewell to the white-clad girl on the beach. Left alone, Jane turned her attention to her letters.
Those who have read "JANE ALLEN OF THE SUB-TEAM" will remember how bitterly Jane Allen resented leaving her beautiful Western home to go East to Wellington College. Brought up on a ranch, Jane had known few girls of her own age. To be thus sent away from all she loved best and forced to endure the restrictions of a girls' college was a cross which proud Jane carried during the early part of her freshman year at Wellington.
Gradually growing to like the girls she had formerly despised, Jane found friends, tried and true. Being a person of strong character she also made enemies, among them arrogant, snobbish Marian Seaton, a freshman of narrow soul and small honor.
Due to her interest in basket-ball, Jane soon found herself fighting hard to win a position on the freshman team. She also found herself engaged in a desperate struggle to rule her own rebellious spirit. How she won the right to play in the deciding game of the year, because of her high resolve to be true to herself, has already been recorded in her doings as a freshman at Wellington College.
"You first, Judy," murmured Jane, as she tore open the envelope containing Judith's letter and eagerly drew it forth.
She smiled as she unfolded the one closely written sheet of thin, gray paper. Judith never wrote at length. The smile deepened as she read:
"DEAR OLD JANE:
"It's about time I answered your last letter. I hope to goodness this reaches you before you start East. Then you'll know I love you even if I am not a lightning correspondent. I just came home from the beach yesterday. I had a wonderful summer, but I'm tanned a beautiful brown. I am preparing you beforehand so that you will not mistake me for a noble red man, red woman, I mean, when you see me.
"I'm dying to see my faithful roommate and talk my head off. I shall bring a whole bunch of eats along with me to Wellington and we'll have a grand celebration. Any small contributions which you may feel it your duty to drag along will be thankfully received. I'm going to start for college a week from next Tuesday. I suppose I'll be there ahead of you, so I'll have everything fixed up comfy when you poke your distinguished head in the door of our room.
"I've loads of things to tell you, but I can't write them. You know how I love (not) to write letters, themes, etc. You'll just have to wait until we get together. If this letter shouldn't reach you before you leave El Capitan, you will probably get it some day after it has traveled around the country for a while. Won't that be nice?
"With much love, hoping to see you soony soon,
"Your affectionate roommate,
Jane laughed outright as she re-read the letter. It was so exactly like good-humored Judy Stearns. She did not doubt that she was destined presently to hear at least one funny tale from Judith's lips concerning the latter's pet failing, absent-mindedness.
Picking up Adrienne's letter from the bench, Jane found equal amusement in the little French girl's quaint phraseology.
"WICKED ONE:" it began. "Why have you not answered the fond letter of your small Imp? But perhaps you have answered, and I have not received. Ma mere and I have had the great annoyance since we came to this most stupid studio, because much of our mail has gone astray.
"We have finished the posing for the picture 'The Spirit of the Dawn.' It was most beautiful. Ma mere was, of course, the Dawn Spirit, allowed for one day to become the mortal. She had many dances to perform, and was superb in all. I, too, had the dance to do in several scenes. When we meet in college I will tell you all.
"We shall not pose again in these motion pictures for the directors are, of a truth, most queer. They talk much, but have the small idea of art. It became necessary to quarrel with them frequently, otherwise the picture would have contained many ridiculous things. It is now past, and, of a certainty, I am glad. I am longing to make the return to Wellington. It will be the grand happiness to see again all my dear friends, you in particular, beloved Jeanne.
"La petite Norma will soon finish the engagement with the stock company. We have the hope to meet her in New York, so that she and your small Imp may make the return together to Wellington. Take the good care of yourself, dear Jeanne. With the regards of ma mere and my most ardent affection,
"Ever thy IMP."
Jane gave the letter an affectionate little pat. It was almost as though she had heard lively little Adrienne's voice. How good it was, she reflected happily, to know that this time she would go East, not as a lonely outlander, but as one whose place awaited her. There would be smiling faces and welcoming hands to greet her when she climbed the steps of Madison Hall. Yes, Wellington was truly her Alma Mater and Madison Hall her second home.
A COUNCIL OF WAR
"What does it all mean? That's the one thing I'd like to know."
Judith Stearns plumped herself down on Ethel Lacey's couch bed with an energy that bespoke her feelings.
"It is as yet beyond the understanding," gloomily conceded Adrienne Dupree.
"You'd better go downstairs and see Mrs. Weatherbee at once, Judy," advised Ethel.
It was a most amazed and indignant trio which had gathered for a council of war in the room belonging to Ethel and Adrienne.
"I'm going to," nodded Judith with some asperity. "I have Jane's telegram here with me. I just stopped for a minute to tell you girls. Why, Jane will be in on that four o'clock train! A nice tale we'll have to tell her!"
"Oh, there's surely been a misunderstanding," repeated Ethel Lacey.
Judith shrugged her shoulders.
"It looks queer to me," she said. "You know Mrs. Weatherbee never liked Jane. It would be just like her——"
Judith paused. A significant stare conveyed untold meaning.
"She couldn't do anything so unfair and get away with it," reasoned Ethel. "Jane could take up the matter with Miss Howard and make a big fuss about it."
"She could, but would she?" demanded Judith savagely. "You know how proud Jane is. She'd die before she'd give Mrs. Weatherbee the satisfaction of seeing she was hurt over it. She——"
"Oh, what's the use in speculating?" interrupted Ethel. "Go and find out, Judy. We're probably making much ado about nothing."
"It is I who will go with you," announced Adrienne decidedly. "I am also the dear friend of Jane."
"Let's all go," proposed Judith. "There's strength in numbers. If Mrs. Weatherbee hasn't been fair to Jane it will bother her a whole lot to have three of us take it up."
Adrienne and Ethel concurring in this opinion, the three girls promptly marched themselves downstairs to the matron's office to inquire into the matter which had aroused them to take action in Jane Allen's behalf.
Ten minutes later they retired from an interview with Mrs. Weatherbee, more amazed than when they had entered the matron's office. They were also proportionately incensed at the reception with which they had met.
"I think she's too hateful for words!" sputtered Judith, the moment the committee of inquiry had again shut themselves in Ethel's room.
"She might have explained," was Ethel's indignant cry. "I don't believe that Jane's not coming back to Madison Hall."
"Jane is coming back to Madison Hall," asserted Judith positively. "She said so in her last letter to me. That is, she spoke of our room and all. If she hadn't intended coming back, she'd have said something about it."
"Of a truth she intended to return to this Hall," coincided Adrienne. "This most hateful Mrs. Weatherbee has perhaps decided thus for herself. Would it not be the humiliating thing for our pauvre Jeanne to return and be refused the admittance?"
"That won't happen," decreed Judith grimly.
"We're going to the train to meet her, you know. We'll have to tell her the minute she sets foot on the station platform."
"But suppose we find that it's true?" propounded Ethel. "That she doesn't intend to live at the Hall this year? Something might have happened after she wrote you girls to make her change her mind."
"There's only one thing that I know of and I'd hate to think it was that," returned Judith soberly. "You know what I mean, that Jane mightn't care to room with me."
"That is the nonsense," disagreed Adrienne sturdily. "We, who know Jane, know that it could never be thus. But wait, only wait. We shall, no doubt, prove this Mrs. Weatherbee to be the g-r-rand villain."
Adrienne's roll of r's, coupled with her surmise as to the disagreeable matron's villainy, provoked instant mirth.
Downhearted as she was, Judith could not refrain from giggling a little as her quick imagination visualized in stately, white-haired Mrs. Weatherbee the approved stage villain.
"We'll just have to wait and see," declared placid Ethel. "It's after two now. Let's take a bus into Chesterford and see the sights until train time. We'll be on pins and needles every minute if we sit around here."
"I'm going without a hat. I just can't bear to go back to my room for one. I guess you know why," shrugged Judith.
"It is the great shame," sympathized Adrienne. "I am indeed sad that our Dorothy has not returned. She could perhaps learn from Mrs. Weatherbee what we cannot."
"I wish Dorothy were here," sighed Judith. "A lot of the girls haven't come back yet. I thought I'd be late, but I'm here early after all. Too bad Norma couldn't come on from New York with you."
"It was most sad." Adrienne rolled her big black eyes. "She has yet one more week with the stock company. La petite has done well. She has received many excellent notices. Next summer she will no doubt be the leading woman. She has the heaven-sent talent, even as ma mere."
"Alicia Reynolds is back," announced Judith. "I met her coming in with her luggage about an hour ago. She was awfully cordial to me. That means she's still of the same mind as when she left Wellington last June. She's really a very nice girl. I only hope she stays away from Marian Seaton."
"Neither Marian nor Maizie Gilbert have come back yet. I wish they'd stay away," came vengefully from Ethel. "With Alicia and Edith Hammond both on their good behavior Madison Hall would get along swimmingly without those two disturbers."
"They'll probably keep to themselves this year," commented Judith grimly. "It's pretty well known here how badly they treated Jane last year and how splendidly she carried herself through it all."
"Oh, the old girls at the Hall won't bother with them, but some of the new girls may," Ethel remarked. "We're to have several new ones."
"There'll be one less new girl if I have anything to say about it," vowed Judith. "If there's been any unfairness done, little Judy will take a prompt hike over to see Miss Rutledge."
"Jane wouldn't like that," demurred Ethel.
"Can't help it. I'd just have to do it," Judith made obstinate reply. "As Jane's roommate I think I've a case of my own. If Jane has chosen to room somewhere else—then, all right. But if she hasn't—if she's been treated shabbily,—as I believe she has been—then I'll go wherever she goes, even if I have to live in a house away off the campus."
"Oh, girls, it's good to be back!"
Surrounded by a welcoming trio of white-gowned girls, Jane Allen clung affectionately to them.
All along the station platform, bevies of merry-faced, daintily dressed young women were engaged in the joyful occupation of greeting classmates who had arrived on the four o'clock train. Here and there, committees of upper class girls were extending friendly hands to timid freshmen just set down in the outskirts of the land of college.
Stepping down from the train Jane had been instantly seized by her energetic chums and smothered in a triangular embrace. A mist had risen to her gray eyes at the warmth of the welcome. She was, indeed, no longer the lonely outlander. It was all so different from last year and so delightful.
"It's good to have you back, perfectly dear old Jane!" emphasized Judith, giving Jane an extra hug to measure her joy at sight of the girl she adored.
"What happiness!" gurgled Adrienne. "We had the g-r-r-r-eat anxiety for fear that you would perhaps not come on this train."
"Oh, I telegraphed Judy from St. Louis on a venture," laughed Jane. "I knew she'd be here ahead of me."
"Then you did receive my letter," Judith said with satisfaction. "I was afraid you mightn't."
"I didn't answer it because I was coming East so soon," apologized Jane. "I took your advice, though, about the eats. There was a stop over at St. Louis, so I went out and bought a suitcase full of boxed stuff. Maybe it isn't heavy! We'll have a great spread in our room to-night. Who's back, Judy? Have you seen Christine Ellis or Barbara Temple yet? Is Mary Ashton here? I know Dorothy isn't or she'd be here with you."
As Jane rattled off these lively remarks, her three friends exchanged significant eye messages.
"Then—why—you——" stammered Judith, a swift flush rising to her cheeks.
"What's the matter, Judy?"
Jane regarded her roommate in puzzled fashion. She wondered at Judith's evident confusion.
"Nothing much. I mean something rather queer." Judith contradicted herself. "Let's take a taxi, girls, and stop at Rutherford Inn for tea. We can talk there."
"But why not go straight to Madison Hall?" queried Jane, in growing perplexity. "I'm anxious to get rid of some of the smoke and dust I've collected on my face and hands. We can have tea and talk in our own room and be all by ourselves."
"I wish we could, Jane, but we must have a talk with you before you go to the Hall," returned Judith, her merry features now grown grave.
"What is it, Judy?"
All the brightness had faded from Jane's face. Her famous scowl now darkened her brow. She cast a quick glance from Adrienne to Ethel. Both girls looked unduly solemn.
"Girls, you're keeping something from me; something unpleasant, of course," Jane accused. "I must know what it is. Please tell me. Don't be afraid of hurting my feelings."
"We're going to tell you, Jane," Judith said reassuringly. "Only we didn't want to say a word until—until we found out something. But this isn't the place to talk. Let's hail the taxi, anyway. Then he can stop at the Inn or not, just as you please. We'll tell you on the way there."
Almost mechanically Jane reached down to pick up the suitcase she had placed on the station platform in the first moment of reunion. All the pleasure of coming back to Wellington had been replaced by a sense of deep depression. In spite of the presence of her chums she felt now as she had formerly felt when just a year before she had stood on that same platform, hating with all her sore heart its group of laughing, chatting girls.
"Do not look so cross, cherie." Adrienne had slipped a soft hand into Jane's arm. "All will yet be well. Come, I, your Imp, will lead you to the taxicab."
"And I'll help do the leading," declared Judith gaily, taking hold of Jane's free arm. "Ethel, you can walk behind and carry Jane's traveling bag. That will be some little honor."
Knowing precisely how Jane felt, Judith affected a cheeriness she was far from feeling. She heartily wished that she had not been obliged to say a word to rob her roommate of the first joy of meeting.
While traversing the few yards that lay between the station and the point behind it where several taxicabs waited, both she and Adrienne chattered lively commonplaces. Jane, however, had little to say. She was experiencing the dazed sensation of one who has received an unexpected slap in the face.
What had happened? Why had Judy insisted that they must have a talk before going on to the Hall? Surely some very unpleasant news lay in wait for her ears. But what? Jane had not the remotest idea.
"Now, Judy," she began with brusque directness the instant the quartette were seated in the taxicab, "don't keep me in the dark any longer. You must know how—what a queer feeling all this has given me."
Seated in the tonneau of the automobile, between Adrienne and Judith, Jane turned hurt eyes on the latter.
"Jane," began Judith impressively, "before you went home last year did you arrange with Mrs. Weatherbee about your room for this year?"
A flash of amazement crossed Jane's face.
"Of course I did," she went on. "Mrs. Weatherbee understood that I was coming back to Madison Hall."
"Humph!" ejaculated Judith. "Well, there's just this much about it, Jane. About nine o'clock this morning a little, black-eyed scrap of a freshman marched into my room and said Mrs. Weatherbee had assigned her to the other half of my room. I told her she had made a mistake and come to the wrong room. She said 'no,' that Mrs. Weatherbee had sent the maid to the door with her to show her the way."
"Why, Judy, I don't see how——" began Jane, then suddenly broke off with, "Go on and tell me the rest."
"I didn't like this girl for a cent. Her name is Noble, but it doesn't fit her. She has one of those prying, detestable faces, thin, with a sharp chin, and she hates to look one straight in the face," continued Judith disgustedly. "I went over to see Adrienne and Ethel and told them. Then we all went downstairs to interview Mrs. Weatherbee. She said you weren't coming back to Madison Hall this year."
"Not coming back to Madison Hall!" exclaimed Jane, her scowl now in fierce evidence. "Did she say it in just those words?"
"She certainly did," responded Judith. "I told her that I was sure that you were and she simply froze up and gave me one of those Arctic-circle stares. All she said was, 'I am surprised at you, Miss Stearns. I am not in the habit of making incorrect statements.' Adrienne started to ask her when you had given up your room and she cut her off with: 'Young ladies, the subject is closed.' So that's all we know about it, and I guess you don't know any more of it than we do."
"So that was why you didn't want me to go on to the Hall until I knew," Jane said slowly. "Well, I know now, and I'm going straight there. Mrs. Weatherbee has never liked me. Still it's a rather high-handed proceeding on her part, I think."
"If she did it of her own accord, I don't see how she dared. I'm not going to stand for it. That's all," burst out Judith hotly. "Miss Howard won't either. As registrar she'll have something to say, I guess. If she doesn't, then on to Miss Rutledge. That's going to be my motto. I won't have that girl in your place, Jane. I won't."
"I won't let her stay there if I can help it," was Jane's decided answer. "I'd rather the affair would be between Mrs. Weatherbee and me, though. If she has done this from prejudice, I'll fight for my rights. It won't be the first time she and I have had words. It seems hard to believe that a woman of her age and position could be so contemptible."
"That's what I thought," agreed Judith. "Well, we'll soon know. Here we are at the edge of the campus. Doesn't old Wellington look fine, though, Jane?"
Jane merely nodded. She could not trust herself to speak. The gently rolling green of the wide campus had suddenly burst upon her view. Back among the trees, Wellington Hall lifted its massive gray pile, lording it in splendid grandeur over the buildings of lesser magnitude that dotted the living green.
She had longed for a sight of it all. It was as though she had suddenly come upon a dear friend. For a moment the perplexities of the situation confronting her faded away as her gray eyes wandered from one familiar point on the campus to another.
"It's wonderful, Judy," she said softly, her tones quite steady. "Even with this horrid tangle staring me in the face I can't help being glad to see Wellington again. Somehow, I can't help feeling that there's been a mistake made. I don't want to pass through the gates of Wellington with my heart full of distrust of anyone."
"You're a dear, Jane!" was Judith's impulsive tribute. "Adrienne says Mrs. Weatherbee may turn out to be 'the grand villain.' Let's hope she won't. Anyway, if things can't be adjusted, wherever you go to live I'll go, too. I won't stay at the Hall without you."
"Thank you, Judy." Jane found Judith's hand and squeezed it hard. She had inwardly determined, however, that her roommate should not make any such sacrifice. It would be hard to find a room anywhere on the campus to take the place of the one the two had occupied at Madison Hall during their freshman year.
"I'm glad there's no one on the veranda," presently commented Jane.
Having dismissed the taxicab, the three girls were now ascending the steps of the Hall.
"Better wait here for me, girls, I'd rather have it out with Mrs. Weatherbee alone," she counseled. "I hope I sha'n't lose my temper," she added ruefully.
Mentally bracing herself for the interview, Jane crossed the threshold of the Hall and walked serenely past the living-room to the matron's office just behind it. She was keeping a tight grip on herself and intended to keep it, if possible. She knew from past experience how greatly Mrs. Weatherbee's calm superiority of manner had been wont to irritate her.
Jane loathed the idea of having a dispute with the matron the moment she entered Madison Hall. She had begun the first day of her freshman year in such fashion. Afterward it had seemed to her that most of the others had been stormy, as a consequence of a wrong start.
She reflected as she walked slowly down the hall that this new trouble, was, at least, not of her making. She had the comforting knowledge that this time she was not at fault.
THE REASON WHY
Primed for the momentous interview, Jane was doomed to disappointment. The matron's office was empty of its usual occupant.
"Oh, bother!" was her impatient exclamation. "I'll either have to wait for her or go and find her. I'll go back to the veranda and tell the girls," she decided. "Then I'll come here again. Mrs. Weatherbee may not be in the Hall for all I know."
"Back so soon. What did she say?"
Judith sprang eagerly from the wicker chair in which she had been lounging.
"She is not there," returned Jane with a shadow of a frown. "I'm sorry. I wanted to see her and get it over with. Where's Ethel?"
"Oh, she forgot that she had an appointment with Miss Howard. She rushed off in a hurry."
"Mrs. Weatherbee has perhaps gone to make the call," suggested Adrienne. "Why do you not ring the bell and thus summon the maid?"
"A good idea."
Standing near the door, Jane's fingers found the electric bell and pressed it.
"Where is Mrs. Weatherbee?" she inquired of the maid who presently came to answer the door. "Isn't Millie here any more?" she added, noting that a stranger occupied the place of the good-natured girl who had been at the Hall during Jane's freshman year.
"No, miss. She's gone and got married. Did you want Mrs. Weatherbee? She's upstairs. I'll go and find her for you."
"Thank you. If you will be so kind. Please tell her Miss Allen wishes to see her."
Disturbed in mind, though she was, Jane replied with a graciousness she never forgot to employ in speaking to those in more humble circumstances than herself. It was a part of the creed her democratic father had taught her and she tried to live up to it.
"Wish me luck, girls, I'm going to my fate. Wait for me," she said lightly and vanished into the house.
"She's taking it like a brick," Judith admiringly commented.
"Ah, yes. Jane is what mon pere would call 'the good sport,'" agreed Adrienne. "She is the strange girl; sometimes fierce like the lion over the small troubles. When come the great misfortunes she has calm courage."
Re-entering Mrs. Weatherbee's office, Jane seated herself resignedly to wait for the appearance of the matron. When fifteen minutes had passed and she was still waiting, the stock of "calm courage" attributed to her by Adrienne, began to dwindle into nettled impatience.
She now wished that she had not given her name to the maid. It looked as if Mrs. Weatherbee were purposely keeping her waiting. This thought stirred afresh in Jane the old antagonism that the matron had always aroused.
After half an hour had dragged by Jane heard footsteps descending the stairs to the accompaniment of the faint rustle of silken skirts. She sat suddenly very straight in her chair, her mood anything but lamb-like.
"Good afternoon, Miss Allen," greeted a cool voice.
Mrs. Weatherbee rustled into the little office, injured dignity written on every feature of her austere face.
"Good afternoon, Mrs. Weatherbee."
Courtesy to an older woman prompted Jane to rise. Her tone, however, was one of strained politeness. There was no move made toward handshaking by either.
"I was greatly surprised to learn that you wished to see me, Miss Allen," was the matron's first remark after seating herself in the chair before her writing desk.
Mrs. Weatherbee's intonations were decidedly accusing. Jane colored at the emphasis placed on the "you."
"Why should you be surprised?" she flashed back, an angry glint in her gray eyes. Already her good resolutions were poised for flight.
"I am even more surprised at the boldness of your question. I consider it as being in extremely bad taste."
"And I am surprised at the way I have been treated!" Jane cried out passionately, her last remnant of patience exhausted. "I understand that you have seen fit to ignore the arrangement I made with you last June about my room. Miss Stearns has informed me that you have given it to an entering freshman. It's the most unfair proceeding I've ever known, and I shall not submit to such injustice."
This was not in the least what Jane had purposed to say. She had intended to broach the subject on the diplomatic basis of a mistake having been made. She realized that she had thrown down the gauntlet with a vengeance, but she was now too angry to care.
"Miss Allen!" The older woman's expression was one of intense severity. "Such insolence on your part is not only unbecoming but entirely uncalled for. You appear to have forgotten that you gave up your room of your own accord. I reserved it for you until I received your letter of last week."
"Of my own accord!" gasped Jane, unable to believe she had heard aright. "My letter of last week! I don't understand."
"I am at a loss to understand you," acidly retorted the matron. "I know of only one possible explanation for your call upon me this afternoon. I should prefer not to make it. It would hardly reflect to your credit."
"I must ask you to explain," insisted Jane haughtily. "We have evidently been talking at cross purposes. You say that I gave up my room of my own accord. You mention a letter I wrote you. I have not given up my room. I have never written you a letter. You owe me an explanation. No matter how unpleasant it may be, I am not afraid to listen to it."
"Very well," was the icy response. "Since you insist I will say plainly that it appears, even after writing me a most discourteous letter, you must have decided, for reasons of your own, to ignore this fact and return to Madison Hall. Not reckoning that your room would naturally be assigned to another girl so soon, you were bold enough to come here and attempt to carry your point with a high hand. I am quite sure you now understand me."
"I do not," came the vehement denial. "I repeat that I never wrote you a letter. If you received one signed by me, it was certainly not I who wrote it. I am not surprised at your unfair opinion of me. You have never liked me. Naturally you could not understand me. I will ask you to let me see the letter."
Mrs. Weatherbee's reply was not made in words. Reaching into a pigeon-hole of her desk she took from it a folded letter minus its envelope and handed it to Jane.
Her head in a whirl, Jane unfolded it and read:
"MRS. ELLEN WEATHERBEE, "Madison Hall, "Wellington Campus.
"Although I regret leaving Madison Hall, it would be highly disagreeable to me to spend my sophomore year in it with you as matron. Your treatment of me last year was such that I should not like to court a second repetition of it. Therefore I am writing to inform you that I shall not return to the Hall.
THE UNKNOWN MISCHIEF MAKER
"This is too dreadful!"
Springing to her feet, Jane dashed the offending letter to the floor, her cheeks scarlet with outraged innocence.
"That was precisely my opinion when I read it," Mrs. Weatherbee sarcastically agreed.
"But I never wrote it," stormed Jane. "That's not my signature. Besides the letter is typed. I would never have sent you a typed letter. Have you the envelope? What postmark was stamped upon it?"
"It was postmarked 'New York.' No, I did not keep the envelope."
"New York? Why, I came straight from Montana!" cried Jane. "I haven't been in New York since last Christmas."
"I could not possibly know that. A letter could be forwarded even from Montana to New York for mailing," reminded the matron with satirical significance.
"Then you still believe that I wrote this?"
Jane's voice was freighted with hurt pride. Something in the girl's scornful, fearless, gray eyes, looking her through and through, brought a faint flush to the matron's set face. The possibility that Jane's protest was honest had reluctantly forced itself upon her. She was not specially anxious to admit Jane's innocence, though she was now half convinced of it.
"I hardly know what to believe," she said curtly. "Your denial of the authorship of this letter seems sincere. I should naturally prefer to believe that you did not write it."
"I give you my word of honor as a Wellington girl that I did not," Jane answered impressively. "I cannot blame you for resenting it. It is most discourteous. I should be sorry to believe myself capable of such rudeness."
"I will accept your statement," Mrs. Weatherbee stiffly conceded. "However, the fact remains that someone wrote and mailed this letter to me. There is but one inference to be drawn from it."
She paused and stared hard at Jane.
Without replying, Jane again perused the fateful letter. As she finished a second reading of it, a bitter smile dawned upon her mobile lips.
"Yes," she said heavily. "There is just one inference to be drawn from it—spite work. I had no idea that it would be carried to this length, though."
"Then you suspect a particular person as having written it?" sharply inquired the matron.
"I do," came the steady response. "I know of but one, perhaps two persons, who might have done so. I am fairly sure that it lies between the two."
"It naturally follows then that the person or persons you suspect are students at Wellington," commented the matron. "This is a matter that would scarcely concern outsiders. More, we may go further and narrow the circle down to Madison Hall."
Jane received this pointed surmise in absolute silence.
"There is this much about it, Miss Allen," the older woman continued after a brief pause, "I will not have under my charge a girl who would stoop to such a contemptible act against a sister student. I must ask you to tell me frankly if your suspicions point to anyone under this roof."
"I can't answer that question, Mrs. Weatherbee. I mean I don't wish to answer it. Even if I knew positively who had done this, I'd be silent about it. It's my way of looking at it and I can't change. I'd rather drop the whole matter. It's hard, of course, to give up my room here and go somewhere else. I love Madison Hall and——"
Jane came to an abrupt stop. She was determined not to break down, yet she was very near to it.
"My dear child, you need not leave Madison Hall unless you wish to do so." Mrs. Weatherbee's frigidity had miraculously vanished. A gleam of kindly purpose had appeared in her eyes.
For the first time since her acquaintance with Jane Allen she found something to admire. For the sake of a principle, this complex, self-willed girl, of whom she had ever disapproved, was willing to suffer injury in silence. The fact that Jane had refused to answer her question lost significance when compared with the motive which had prompted refusal.
"You might easily accuse me of unfairness if I allowed matters to remain as they are," pursued the matron energetically. "As the injured party you have first right to your old room. Miss Noble, the young woman now occupying it with Miss Stearns, applied for a room here by letter on the very next day after I received this letter, supposedly from you.
"I wrote her that I had a vacancy here and asked for references. These she forwarded immediately. As it happens I have another unexpected vacancy here due to the failure of a new girl to pass her entrance examinations. Miss Noble will no doubt be quite willing to take the other room. At all events, you shall have your own again."
"I can't begin to tell you how much I thank you, Mrs. Weatherbee." Jane's somber face had lightened into radiant gratitude. "But I can tell you that I'm sorry for my part in any misunderstandings we've had in the past. I don't feel about college now as I did last year."
Carried away by her warm appreciation of the matron's unlooked-for stand in her behalf, Jane found herself telling Mrs. Weatherbee of her pre-conceived hatred of college and of her gradual awakening to a genuine love for Wellington.
Of the personal injuries done her by others she said nothing. Her little outpouring had to do only with her own struggle for spiritual growth.
"It was Dorothy Martin who first showed me the way," she explained. "She made me see myself as a pioneer, and college as a new country. She told me that it depended entirely on me whether or not my freshman claim turned out well. It took me a long time to see that. This year I want to be a better pioneer than I was last. That's why I'd rather not start out by getting someone else into trouble, no matter how much that person is at fault."
During the earnest recital, the matron's stern features had perceptibly softened. She was reflecting that, after all, one person was never free to judge another. That human nature was in itself far too complex to be lightly judged by outward appearances.
"You know the old saying, 'Out of evil some good is sure to come,'" she said, when Jane ceased speaking. "This affair of the letter has already produced one good result. I feel that I am beginning to know the real Jane Allen. You were right in saying that I never understood you. Perhaps I did not try. I don't know. You were rather different from any other girl whom I ever had before under my charge here."
"I kept up the bars," confessed Jane ruefully. "I didn't wish to see things from any standpoint except my own. I'm trying to break myself of that. I can't honestly say that I have, as yet. I shall probably have a good many fights with myself about it this year. It's not easy to make one's self over in a day or a month or a year. It takes time. That's why I like college so much now. It's helping me to find myself.
"But that's enough about myself." Jane made a little conclusive gesture. "I hope there won't be any—well—any unpleasantness about my room, Mrs. Weatherbee. I'd almost rather take that other vacancy than make trouble for you."
"There will be no trouble," was the decisive assurance. "If Miss Noble objects to the change there are other campus houses open to her. I see no reason why she should. She only arrived this morning. She will not be kept waiting for the room. The girl who failed in her examinations left here at noon. I will see about it now."
Mrs. Weatherbee rose to put her promise into immediate effect.
"If you don't mind, I'll join Judith and Adrienne on the veranda. I am anxious to tell them the good news," eagerly declared Jane, now on her feet.
Glancing at the disturbing letter which she held she handed it to Mrs. Weatherbee with: "What shall you do about this letter?"
"Since the star witness in the case refuses to give testimony, it is hard to decide what to do," smiled the matron. "I might hand the letter to Miss Rutledge, yet I prefer not to do so. It is purely a personal matter. Suppose I were to prosecute an inquiry here at the Hall regarding it. It would yield nothing but indignant protests of innocence. If the writer were one of my girls she would perhaps be loudest in her protests."
Though Jane did not say so, she was of the private opinion that the person she suspected would undoubtedly do that very thing.
"A girl who would write such a letter would be the last to own to writing it," she said dryly.
"Very true. Still things sometimes work out unexpectedly. If we have a mischief maker here, we may eventually discover her. Girls of this type often overreach themselves and thus establish their guilt. I shall not forget this affair." The matron's voice grew stern. "If ever I do discover the writer, she will not be allowed to remain at Madison Hall."
THE PLOT THICKENS
"And Mrs. Weatherbee's gone to oust the disturber of our peace! Oh, joy!"
To emphasize further her satisfaction Judith gave Jane an ecstatic hug.
"You can't be any gladder than I am."
Jane returned the hug with interest.
"But how did it thus happen so beautifully?" questioned Adrienne eagerly.
"It was a mistake——No, it wasn't either. It was——"
Jane paused. She wondered if she had the right to put her friends in possession of what she had so lately learned. Mrs. Weatherbee had not enjoined silence. Adrienne and Judith were absolutely trustworthy. They had forewarned her of the situation. It was only fair that they should be taken into her confidence.
"I've something to tell you girls," she went on slowly. "You must wait to hear it until we are in our room. I'd rather not go into it out here on the veranda."
"All right. We'll be good. I hope the noble Miss Noble will hurry up and move out," wished Judith. "I can imagine how delighted she'll be."
"She may care but little," shrugged Adrienne. "Of a truth, she has not been here so long. But a few hours! It is not much!"
"I don't believe she'll relish it a bit," prophesied Judith. "She looks to me like one of those persons who get peeved over nothing. Isn't it funny, though? Mrs. Weatherbee made a mistake last year about your room, Jane. Do you remember how haughty you were when you found out you were to room with little Judy?"
"Yes. I was a big goose, wasn't I?" Jane smiled reminiscently. "It wasn't Mrs. Weatherbee's fault this time. That's all I'll say until we three go upstairs."
"Wish she'd hurry," grumbled Judith, referring to the usurping freshman. "This evacuation business isn't going along very speedily. I wonder if she's unpacked. She hadn't touched her suitcase when I left her. Her trunk hadn't come yet. Maybe it came while we were out. I hope not. Then there'll be that much less to move."
"Had this Miss Noble examinations to take?" asked Jane.
"No, she told me she was graduated from a prep school last June. Burleigh, I think she said. I really didn't listen much to her. I was so upset over having her thrust upon me, I didn't want to talk to her."
Jane bestowed a sympathizing pat upon Judith's arm.
"All the time I was thinking 'poor Jane,'" laughed Judith. "Oh, dear! Why doesn't Mrs. Weatherbee come back. I'm crazy to hear the weird story of your wrongs, Janie."
It was at least fifteen minutes afterward before the matron descended the stairs, looking far from pleased.
Watching for her, Jane stepped inside the house and met her at the foot of the stairs.
"You may move in as soon as you please, Miss Allen," she informed Jane, her annoyed expression vanishing in a friendly smile.
"Thank you. I sha'n't lose any time in doing it."
Jane returned the smile, thinking in the same moment that it seemed rather odd but decidedly nice to be on such pleasant terms with the woman she had once thoroughly disliked.
"Did you notice how vexed Mrs. Weatherbee looked when she came downstairs?" was Judith's remark as the door of her room closed behind them. "I'll bet she had her own troubles with the usurper."
"First the disturber, then the usurper. You have, indeed, many names for this one poor girl," giggled Adrienne.
"Oh, I can think of a lot more," grinned Judith. "But what's the use. She has departed bag and baggage. To quote your own self, 'It is sufficient.' Now go ahead, Jane, and spin your yarn."
"It's no yarn. It's sober truth. You understand. I'm speaking in strict confidence."
With this foreword, Jane acquainted the two girls with what had taken place in the matron's office.
"Hm!" sniffed Judith as Jane finished. "She's begun rather early in the year, hasn't she?"
"I see we're of the same mind, Judy," Jane said quietly.
"I, too, am of that same mind," broke in Adrienne. "I will say to you now most plainly that it was Marian Seaton who wrote the letter."
"Of course she wrote it," emphasized Judith fiercely. "It's the most outrageous thing I ever heard of. You ought to have told Mrs. Weatherbee, Jane. Why should you shield a girl who is trying to injure you?"
"I could only have said that I suspected her of writing the letter," Jane pointed out. "I have no proof that she wrote it. Besides, I didn't care to start my sophomore year that way. When I have anything to say about Marian Seaton, I'll say it to her. I'm going to steer clear of her if I can. If I can't, then she and I will have to come to an understanding one of these days. I'd rather ignore her, unless I find that I can't."
"You're a queer girl," was Judith's half-vexed opinion. "I think, if I were in your place, I'd begin at the beginning and tell Mrs. Weatherbee every single thing about last year. I'd tell her I was positive Marian Seaton wrote that letter. She'd be angry enough to tax Marian with it, even though she made quite a lot of Marian and Maizie Gilbert last year. If Marian got scared and confessed—good night! She'd have to leave Madison Hall. We'd all be better off on account of it."
"No, ma chere Judy, you are in that quite wrong," disagreed Adrienne. "This Marian would never make the confession. Instead she would make the great fuss. She would, of a truth, say that Jane had made the plot to injure her. She is most clever in such matters."
"I'm not afraid of anything she might say," frowned Jane. "I simply don't care to bother any more about it. I have my half of this room back and that's all that really matters. If Marian Seaton thinks——"
The sudden opening of the door cut Jane's speech in two. Three surprised pairs of eyes rested on a sharp-chinned, black-eyed girl who had unceremoniously marched into their midst. Face and bearing both indicated signs of active hostility.
"Did I hear you mention Marian Seaton's name?" she sharply inquired of Jane.
Jane gazed levelly at the angry newcomer.
"Which of these two girls is Miss Allen?"
This question was rudely addressed to Judith, whose good-natured face showed evident disgust of the interrogator.
"I am Jane Allen. Why do you ask?"
Jane spoke with curt directness.
"I supposed that you were." The girl smiled scornfully. "I only wished to make sure before telling you my opinion of you. It did not surprise me to learn that it was you who turned me out of my room. I had already been warned against you by my cousin, Marian Seaton. No doubt you've been saying spiteful things about her. I know just how shabbily you treated her last year. If she had been here to-day, you wouldn't have been allowed to take my room away from me. She has more influence at Wellington than you have. She will be here soon and then we'll see what will happen. That's all except that you are a selfish, hateful troublemaker."
With every word she uttered the black-eyed girl's voice had risen. Overmastered by anger she fairly screamed the final sentence of her arraignment. Then she turned and bolted from the room, leaving behind her a dumbfounded trio of young women.
"Brr!" ejaculated Judith. "What do you think of that? I'm sure I could have heard that last shriek, if I'd been away over on the campus. Marian Seaton's cousin! Think what Judy escaped!"
"You are very funny, Judy," giggled Adrienne. "And that girl! How little repose; what noise!"
"Yes, 'what noise,'" Judith echoed the giggle. "Really, girls, am I awake or do I dream? First a strange and awful girl comes walking in on me. Then I learn the pleasant news that Jane's deserted me. Along comes Jane, who doesn't know she's lost her home. Enter Marian Seaton as a letter writer. Result Jane and Mrs. Weatherbee become bosom friends. Jane is vindicated and her rights restored. Right in the middle of a happy reunion in bounces the tempestuous Miss Noble. Quite a little like a nightmare, isn't it?"
"It has the likeness to the movie plot," asserted Adrienne mirthfully. "Very thrilling and much mixed."
"I never dreamed coming back to Wellington would be like this."
Jane smiled. Nevertheless the words came with a touch of sadness.
"Don't let it worry you, Jane," counseled Judith. "I was only fooling when I said this afternoon had been like a nightmare. You may not have another like this the whole year. Things always happen in bunches, you know. I move that we re-beautify our charming selves and go down to the veranda. We'll be on hand if any of the girls arrive. There's a train from the east at five-thirty. Dorothy may be on that."
"I hope she is," sighed Jane.
Mention of Dorothy Martin made Jane long for a sight of the gentle, whole-souled girl whom she so greatly loved and admired.
"Go ahead, Jane, and change your gown. I'll unpack your bag for you," offered Judith. "Beloved Imp here may help, if she's very good."
"Thank you, Judy."
Jane began an absent unfastening of her pongee traveling gown, preparatory to bathing her throat, face and hands, dusty from the journey.
While her two friends laughed and chattered as they unpacked her bag, she gave herself up to somber reflection. The events of the afternoon had left her with a feeling of heavy depression. Why, when she desired so earnestly to do well and be happy, must the ancient enmity of Marian Seaton be dragged into her very first day at Wellington. Was this a forerunner of what the rest of her sophomore days were destined to be?
AN UNPLEASANT TABLEMATE
Despite the unpropitious events of the afternoon, evening saw a merry little party in full swing in Judith's and Jane's room.
Barbara Temple and Christine Ellis came over from Argyle Hall. The five-thirty train had brought not only Dorothy Martin but Mary Ashton as well. Eight o'clock saw them calling on Judith and Jane, along with Adrienne and Ethel. Of the old clan, Norma Bennett alone was absent, a loss which was loudly lamented by all.
So swiftly did time fly that the party ended in a mad scurry to comply with the inexorable half-past ten o'clock rule.
Jane went to bed that night considerably lighter of heart. Reunion with the girls who were nearest to her had driven the afternoon's unpleasantness from her thoughts, for the time being at least. The friendly presence of those she loved had proved a powerful antidote.
A night's sound sleep served to separate her further from the disagreeable incidents of the previous day. She had two things, at least, to be glad of, she reflected, as she dressed next morning. She was back in her own room. More, she now stood on an entirely different footing with Mrs. Weatherbee than heretofore.
This last was brought home to her more strongly than ever when, in going down to breakfast, she passed the matron on her way to the dining-room and received a smiling "Good morning, Miss Allen."
It was at decided variance with the reserved manner in which Mrs. Weatherbee had formerly been wont to greet her.
"Well, we are once again at the same table," remarked Adrienne as Jane slipped into the place at table she had occupied during her freshman year. "Until last night I ate the meals alone. It was triste."
Adrienne's profound air of melancholy made both Jane and Dorothy laugh.
"What made you come back to college so early, dear Imp?" questioned Dorothy, smiling indulgently at the little girl.
"I had the longing to see the girls," Adrienne replied simply. "This past summer I have greatly missed all of you."
"We've all missed one another, I guess," Jane said soberly. "Often out on the ranch I've wished you could all be with me. Next summer you must come. I'm going to give a house party."
"What rapture!" Adrienne clasped her small hands. "I, for one, will accept the invitation, and now."
Somewhat to Jane's surprise Dorothy said not a word. She merely stared at Jane, a curiously wistful expression in her gray eyes.
"Don't you want to come to my house party, Dorothy?"
Though the question was playfully asked it held a hint of pained surprise.
"Of course I'd like to come. I will—if I can." This last was added with a little sigh. "Did you bring Firefly East with you, this year, Jane?" she inquired with abrupt irrelevance.
"Yes. Pedro started East ahead of me with Firefly. They haven't arrived yet. Are you going to ride this year, Dorothy?"
Jane was wondering what had occasioned in Dorothy this new, wistful mood. It was entirely unlike her usual blithe, care-free self.
"I'm afraid not." The shadow on Dorothy's fine face had deepened. "Frankly, I can't afford to keep a riding horse here. I don't mind telling just you two that it was a question with me as to whether I ought to come back to college. We were never rich, you know, just in comfortable circumstances. This summer Father met with financial losses and we're almost poor. Both Father and Mother were determined that I should come back to Wellington on account of it being my last year. So I'm here. I've not brought any new clothes with me, though, and I shall have to be very economical."
Dorothy smiled bravely as she made this frank confession.
"Who cares whether your clothes are new of old, Dorothy?" came impulsively from Jane. "It's having you here that counts. Nothing else matters. I'm ever so sorry that your father has met with such misfortune."
"Ah, yes! I too, have the sorrow that such bad luck has come to your father. We are the lucky ones, because you have come back to us," Adrienne agreed impressively.
"You're dears, both of you. Shake hands."
Her eyes eloquent with affection, Dorothy's hand went out to Jane, then to Adrienne.
"We try to be like you, ma chere," was Adrienne's graceful response.
"That's very pretty, Imp," acknowledged Dorothy, flushing. "I'll have to watch my step to merit that compliment. Now that you've heard the sad story of the poverty-stricken senior, I call for a change of subject. Did you know that Edith Hammond isn't coming back?"
Jane looked her surprise at this unexpected bit of news.
"No. Edith is going to be married," Dorothy informed. "She was heart-whole and fancy-free when she left here last June. Then she went with her family to the Catskills for the summer. She met her fate there; a young civil engineer. They're to be married in November. She wrote me a long letter right after she became betrothed. Later I received a card announcing her engagement."
"I hope she'll be very happy," Jane spoke with evident sincerity. "I'm so glad we grew to be friendly before college closed last June. It was awfully awkward and embarrassing for us when we had to sit opposite each other at this table three times a day without speaking."
Tardy recollection of the fact that there had also been a time when the wires of communication were down between herself and Dorothy, caused a tide of red to mount upward to Jane's forehead.
The eyes of the two girls meeting, both smiled. Each read the other's thoughts. Such a catastrophe would not occur again.
"I wonder how many new girls there will be at the Hall," Dorothy glanced curiously about the partially filled dining-room. "Let me see. We had four graduates from Madison. Edith isn't coming back. That makes five vacancies to be filled. Do you know of any others?"
The approach of a maid with a heavily laden breakfast tray, left the question unanswered for the moment.
"You forget, la petite," reminded Adrienne as she liberally sugared her sliced peaches. "She will no longer live at the top of the house. She has already made the arrangements to room with Mary Ashton. So there are but four vacancies. I would greatly adore to be with my Norma, but Ethel is the good little roommate. I am satisfied."
Adrienne dismissed the subject with a wave of her hand.
"Norma can have Edith's place at our table," suggested Dorothy. "That will be nice. I'll speak to Mrs. Weatherbee about it right after breakfast."
"Perhaps we should not wait until then."
Adrienne half rose from her chair. Noting that the matron's place at another table was vacant she sat down again.
"Here she comes now!"
Jane followed her announcement with a muffled "Oh!" Mrs. Weatherbee was advancing toward their table and not alone. Behind her walked the aggressive Miss Noble.
"Miss Noble, this is Miss Martin." The matron placidly proceeded with the introductions and rustled off, unconscious that she had precipitated a difficult situation. Her mind occupied with other matters, she had failed to note the stiff little bows exchanged by three of the quartette.
It had not been lost upon Dorothy, however. Greeting the newcomer in her usual gracious fashion, she wondered what ailed Jane and Adrienne.
"Have you examinations to try, Miss Noble?" she asked pleasantly, by way of shattering the frigid silence that had settled down on three of the group.
"No, indeed." The girl tossed her black head. "I am from Burleigh."
"Oh! A prep school, I suppose?" Dorothy inquired politely. The name was unfamiliar to her.
"One of the most exclusive in the Middle West," was the prompt answer, given with a touch of arrogance. "I must say, Wellington doesn't compare very favorably with it in my opinion."
A faint sparkle of resentment lit the wide gray eyes Dorothy turned squarely on the freshman.
"That's rather hard on Wellington," she said evenly. "I hope you will change your mind after you've been with us a while."
"I hardly expect that I shall, judging from what I've already seen of it. That is, if Madison Hall furnishes a sample of the rest of the college."
Turning petulantly to the maid who had come up to attend to her wants she ordered sharply:
"Bring me my breakfast at once. I am in a hurry."
A dead silence ensued as the maid walked away. Signally vexed at the stranger's disparaging remarks, Dorothy had no inclination to court a fresh volley.
Jane and Adrienne were equally attacked by dumbness. They were devoting themselves to breakfast as if in a hurry to be through with it.
"I didn't intend to speak to you ever again," the disgruntled freshman suddenly addressed herself to Jane. "I suppose you think it's queer in me to sit down at the same table with you after what I told you yesterday. I was going to refuse, then I decided I had a perfect right to sit here if I chose. If you don't like it you can sit somewhere else."
"Thank you. I am quite satisfied with this table." Jane's reply quivered with sarcasm. "I sat here at meals last year. I have no intention of making a change."
"It is, of a truth, most sad, that we cannot oblige you," Adrienne cut into the conversation, her elfish black eyes snapping. "It is not necessary, however, that we should say more about it. We are here. We shall continue to be here. It is sufficient."
She made a sweeping gesture as if to brush the offensive Miss Noble off the face of the earth.
The latter simply stared at the angry little girl for a moment, too much amazed to make ready reply. Adrienne's calm ultimatum rather staggered her.
Too courteous to show open amusement of the situation, Dorothy resorted to flight. With a hasty "Excuse me" she rose and left the table. Jane and Adrienne instantly followed suit, leaving the quarrelsome freshman alone in her glory.
Straight toward the living-room Dorothy headed, her friends at her heels. Dropping down on the davenport she broke into subdued laughter.
"You naughty Imp," she gasped. "I know I oughtn't laugh, but you were so funny. Wasn't she, Jane?"
"Yes." Jane was now smiling in sympathy with Dorothy's mirth. A moment earlier she had been scowling fiercely.
"What's the answer, Jane?"
Dorothy's laughter had merged into sudden seriousness.
"Marian Seaton's cousin," returned Jane briefly. "I didn't intend to mention it," she continued, "but under the circumstances I think you ought to know the truth."
Briefly Jane acquainted Dorothy with the situation.
"The whole affair is contemptible," Dorothy's intonation indicated strong disapproval of the cowardly attempt to deprive Jane of her room.
"It looks as though Marian were guilty," she continued speculatively. "She's the only one at Wellington, I believe, who would do you a bad turn."
"You forget Maizie Gilbert," shrugged Jane.
"Oh, Maizie, left to herself, would never be dangerous. She's too lazy to be vengeful. She only follows Marian's lead."
"This Marian well knew that with Mrs. Weatherbee Jane could not agree," asserted Adrienne. "She had the opinion that when Jane arrived here Mrs. Weatherbee would listen to nothing she might say. So she had the mistaken opinion."
"Mrs. Weatherbee always means to be just," defended Dorothy. "She has rather prim ideas about things, but she's a stickler for principle. I am glad she's over her prejudice against you, Jane."
"So am I," nodded Jane. "About this whole affair, Dorothy, I don't intend to worry any more. I'm going to be too busy trying to be a good sophomore pioneer to trouble myself with either Marian Seaton or her cousin. Nothing that she did last year to try to injure me succeeded. As long as I plod straight ahead and keep right with myself I've nothing to fear from her."
A HAPPY THOUGHT
During the week that followed Jane became too fully occupied with settling down in college to trouble herself further about Marian Seaton. Neither the latter nor Maizie Gilbert had as yet returned to Wellington, a fact which caused Jane no regret.
She did not doubt that as soon as Marian put in an appearance she would hear a garbled tale of woe from her belligerent cousin. Whether Marian would take up the cudgels in her cousin's defense was another matter.
Firm in her belief that Marian had written the disquieting letter, Jane was fairly sure that the former's guilty conscience would warn her against making a protest to Mrs. Weatherbee that her cousin had been shabbily treated.
As it happened she was quite correct in her surmise. When, late one afternoon at the end of the week, Marian and Maizie Gilbert arrived at Madison Hall they were treated to a sight that disturbed them considerably.
To a casual observer there was nothing strange in the sight of two white-gowned girls seated in the big porch swing, apparently well pleased with each other's society. To Marian Seaton, however, it represented the defeat of a carefully laid scheme. Sight of Jane Allen, calmly ensconced in the swing and actually laughing at something Adrienne Dupree was relating with many gestures, filled Marian Seaton with sullen rage, not unmixed with craven fear.
"What do you think of that?" she muttered to Maizie as the driver of the taxicab brought the machine to a slow stop on the drive. "I never expected to see her here."
"Maybe Mrs. Weatherbee didn't receive it," returned Maizie in equally guarded tones.
"Something's gone wrong," was the cross surmise. "Watch yourself, Maiz, when you talk, to Mrs. Weatherbee."
"Oh, she couldn't possibly know," assured Maizie. "This Allen snip has just managed to have her own way. You know what a hurricane she is when she gets started."
"Just the same you'd better be on your guard," warned Marian.
"Madison Hall, miss."
The driver was impatiently addressing Marian. Deep in considering the unwelcome state of affairs revealed by Jane's presence on the veranda, neither girl had made any move to alight.
"Oh, keep quiet!" exclaimed Marian rudely. "We'll get out when we are ready."
"Charge you more if you keep me waiting," retorted the man. "Time's money to me."
This threat resulted in the hasty exit of both girls from the machine. Provided with plenty of spending money, Marian thriftily endeavored always to obtain the greatest possible return for the least expenditure.
As the luggage-laden pair ascended the steps, some hidden force drew Marian's unwilling gaze to the porch swing. A quick, guilty flush dyed her cheeks as her pale blue eyes met the steady, inscrutable stare of Jane's gray ones.
Immediately she looked away. She could not fathom the meaning of that calm, penetrating glance.
In consequence Marian could not know that Jane had been seeking confirmation of a certain private belief, which the former's guilty confusion had supplied.
"Do you think she's found out anything?" Marian asked nervously of Maizie, the instant they had entered the house.
"Mercy, no. If she had she'd have glowered at you," reassured Maizie. "She just looked at you as though you were a stranger. You needn't be afraid of her. She's too stupid to put two and two together."
"She must know about the letter, though. What I can't see is how she managed to stick here in spite of it. Every room here was spoken for last June. Mrs. Weatherbee told me so. I'll bet Elsie's had to go to another campus house. It's a shame! That letter was meant to do two things. Get Jane Allen out of the Hall and Elsie in. Don't stop to talk with old Weatherbee, Maizie," was Marian's injunction. "We'll just say 'How do you do. We're back,' and hustle upstairs. Be sure to notice if she seems as cordial as ever. If she is, it will be a good sign that we're safe."
Meanwhile, out on the veranda, Adrienne was remarking under her breath to Jane:
"Did you observe the face of Marian Seaton? Ah, but she is the guilty one!"
"I noticed," replied Jane dryly. "I was determined to make her look at me, and she did. It upset her to see me here. She wasn't expecting it."
"It is the annoyance that she has returned," sighed Adrienne. "All has been so delightful without her."
"I'm going to forget that she's here," avowed Jane sturdily. "Come on, Imp. Let's go over to the stable and see Firefly. I promised him an apple and three lumps of sugar yesterday. I must keep my word to him."
Rising, Jane held out an inviting hand to Adrienne. The little girl promptly linked her fingers within Jane's and the two started down the steps, making a pretty picture as they strolled bare-headed across the campus to the western gate.
"Hello, children! Whither away?"
Almost to the wide gateway they encountered Dorothy Martin coming from an opposite direction.
"We're going to call on Firefly. Want to come along?" invited Jane.
"Of course I do. Firefly is a very dear friend of mine."
"I must stop at that little fruit stand below the campus and buy Firefly's apple," Jane said as the trio emerged from the campus onto the public highway. "I have the sugar in my blouse pocket."
She patted a tiny bulging pocket of her white silk blouse.
"Marian Seaton and Maizie Gilbert have returned," Adrienne informed Dorothy, with a droll air of resignation. "But a few moments past and we saw them arrive. We made no effort to embrace them."
"Miss Howard isn't pleased over their staying away so long," confided Dorothy. "She told me yesterday that every student had reported except those two. She asked me if I knew why they were so late. She hadn't received a word of excuse from either of them. Too bad, isn't it, that they should so deliberately set their faces against right?"
"They walk with the eyes open, yet are blind," mused Adrienne. "I have known many such persons. Seldom is there the remedy. I cannot imagine the reform of Marian Seaton. It would be the miracle."
"You may laugh if you like, but I've wondered whether there mightn't be some way to find the good in her. Dad says there's some good in even the worst person, if one can only find it."
Silent from the moment Adrienne had mentioned Marian's name, Jane broke into the conversation.
"After I read that miserable letter, I felt as though I hated Marian Seaton harder than ever," she went on. "When I saw her to-day I despised her for being what she was. All of a sudden it came to me that I was sorry for her instead. It's a kind of queer mix-up of feelings."
Jane gave a short laugh.
"You have the right spirit, Jane. I'm proud of you for it. You make me feel ashamed. While I've been merely saying that it's too bad about Marian, you've gone to the root of the matter," assured Dorothy earnestly.
"Yet what could one do thus to bring about the reform?"
Adrienne's shrug was eloquent of the dubiety of such an enterprise.
"Begin as Jane has, by being sorry for her," replied Dorothy thoughtfully.
"I am French," returned Adrienne simply. "The Latin never forgets nor forgives."
Having now reached the fruit stand where Jane had stopped to purchase a large red apple for her horse, the subject of Marian Seaton was dropped.
Arrived at the stable the three girls spent a merry session with Firefly, who demanded much petting from them.
"He's the dearest little horse I ever saw, Jane!" glowed Dorothy when they finally left him finishing the apple which Jane had saved as a good-bye solace. "If ever I owned a horse like Firefly I'd be the happiest girl in the whole world."
"There aren't many like him."
Jane turned for a last look over her shoulder at her beautiful pet. Pursing her lips she whistled to him. Instantly he neighed an answer.
"Is he not cunning?" cried Adrienne.
Dorothy admiringly agreed that he was.
Jane smiled in an absent manner. An idea had taken shape in her mind, the pleasure of which brought a warm flush to her cheeks.
In consequence she suddenly quickened her pace.
"What's the matter, Jane? Training for a walking match?" asked Dorothy humorously.
"I beg your pardon," apologized Jane, slowing down. "I just happened to think of a letter I wanted to write and send by the first mail."
"Run on ahead, then," proposed Dorothy. "We'll excuse you this once."
"Oh, it's not so urgent as all that. I just let my thoughts run away with me for a minute."
Nevertheless there was a preoccupied light in Jane's eyes as the three returned across the campus to the Hall.
The instant she gained her room she went hastily to work on a letter, a pleased smile curving her lips as she wrote. When it was finished she prepared it for mailing and ran lightly down the stairs and across the campus to the nearest mail box. She gave a happy little sigh as it disappeared through the receiving slot. How glad she was that the idea had come to her. She wondered only why she had never thought of it before.
SEEKERS OF DISCORD
Fifteen minutes after the arrival of Marian and Maizie a disgruntled trio of girls sat closeted in the room belonging to Marian and Maizie.
"It's all your fault," stormed Elsie Noble, her sharp black eyes full of rancor. "If you'd come here as you promised instead of being a week late you could have used the wonderful influence you say you have with Mrs. Weatherbee to let me keep that room. It's forty times nicer than the one I have."
"I couldn't get here any sooner. Howard Armstead gave a dinner dance specially in honor of me and we had to stay for it."
Marian crested her blonde head as she flung forth this triumphant excuse.
"Of course you did. You're so boy-struck you can't see straight. I might have known it was because of one of your silly old beaux. I'm glad I have more sense."
"You don't show any signs of it," sneered Marian.
"Stop quarreling, both of you," drawled Maizie. "Go go ahead, Elsie, and tell us what happened about the room. That's the thing we want to know. For goodness' sake keep your voice down though. You don't talk. You shout."
"I'd rather shout than drawl my words as if I were too lazy to say them," retaliated Elsie wrathfully.
"All right, shout then and let everybody in the Hall know your business," was Maizie's tranquil response.
"If you came here to fuss, Elsie, then we can get along very well without you. If you expect to go around with us, you'll have to behave like a human being."
Marian's cool insolence had an instantly subduing effect on her belligerent relative. She knew that Marian was quite capable of dropping her, then and there.
"I don't know what happened about the room," she said sulkily, but in a decidedly lower key. "I came here at nine o'clock in the morning. Mrs. Weatherbee sent the maid with me to the room. That Stearns girl said I must have made a mistake. I knew that she wasn't exactly pleased. She said hardly a word to me. She went out and stayed out until just before luncheon. Then she came in for about ten minutes and went downstairs. I didn't see her again."
"She was probably running around the campus telling her friends about it," lazily surmised Maizie. "I'll bet she was all at sea. Wonder if she went to Weatherbee with a string of complaints."
"What happened after that?" queried Marian impatiently.
"What happened?" Elsie pitched the question in a shrill angry key. "Enough, I should say. I unpacked part of my things, then finished reading a dandy mystery story I'd begun on the train. About four o'clock Mrs. Weatherbee sailed in here and made me give up the room."
"What did she say?" was the concerted question.
"She said there'd been a misunderstanding about Miss Allen's coming back to the Hall. That Miss Allen was not to blame and so must have her own room. I said I wouldn't give it up and she said it was not for me, but her, to decide that. She said I could have the other room if I wanted it. If I didn't then she had nothing else to offer me. I said I'd go to the registrar about it. She just looked superior and said, 'As you please.' I knew I was beaten. If I went to the registrar, then Mrs. Weatherbee would have a chance to show her that letter. If I gave in, very likely she'd let the whole thing drop. As long as she'd offered me another room here, I thought it was best to take it."
"I didn't think it would turn out like that," frowned Marian. "Weatherbee couldn't bear Jane Allen last year. I was sure she'd be only too glad to get rid of her. That letter was meant to make her furious, enough so that she wouldn't let this Allen girl into the Hall again. Something remarkable must have happened."
"Weatherbee didn't suspect you, anyway," chimed in Maizie. "She was all smiles when we went into her office."
"Yes, she was sweet as cream. She could never trace it to me anyway. I took good care of that."
"Who wrote it for you?" asked Elsie curiously.
"That's my affair," rudely returned Marian. "If I told you all my business you'd know as much as I do. I'm sorry the scheme didn't work, but, at least, you got into the Hall. I'm certainly glad that girl failed in her exams. As for Jane Allen—well, I'm not through with her yet. Who is your roommate?"
"A Miss Reynolds. She's a soph——"
"Alicia Reynolds!" chorused two interrupting voices.
"Well of all things!" Marian's pale eyes widened with surprise. "What do you think of that, Maiz?"
"You're in luck, Marian," Maizie averred with a slow smile. "You stand a better chance of getting in with Alicia again. Elsie can help you if she doesn't go to work and fuss with Alicia the first thing."
"What are you talking about? Who is this Alicia Reynolds?" inquired Elsie curiously.
"Oh, we chummed with her last year. She didn't like this Jane Allen any better than we did. Then last spring she went riding and fell off her horse and our dear Miss Allen picked her up and brought her home on her own horse. Alicia wasn't hurt. She thought she was and that the Allen girl was a heroine," glibly related Marian. "She listened to a lot of lies Jane Allen told her about us and now she won't speak to either of us. It's too bad, because we are really her friends and this Allen person isn't. Some day we hope to prove it to her."
"This Jane Allen must be a terrible mischief-maker," was Elsie's opinion. "I told her what I thought of her the afternoon she came."
"You did?" exclaimed Marian.
"Yes, sirree. I went straight to her room and spoke my mind. I was so furious with her. The very next morning Mrs. Weatherbee put me at the same table with her. It was my first meal at the Hall. I went to Rutherford Inn for luncheon and dinner. I was hungry and thought maybe the meals wouldn't suit me. They're all right, though. When I saw her at the table I was going to balk about sitting there, then I changed my mind. I had as much right to be there as she. I told her that, too."
"Some little scrapper," murmured Maizie.
There was cunning significance, however, in the slow glance she cast at Marian.
"What did she say to you?"
Marian had returned Maizie's glance with one of equal meaning.
"Not much of anything. I didn't give her a chance," boasted Elsie. "That little French girl snapped me up in a hurry. She's awfully pretty, isn't she?"
"She's a little cat," retorted Marian. "Look out for her. She's too clever for you. Her mother's Eloise Dupree, the dancer. She dances too. They're friends of President Blakesly's. She's awfully popular here and afraid of nobody. She's devoted to Jane Allen, though, so that settles her with me."
"Is Dorothy Martin at your table?" asked Maizie.
"Yes. I don't like her."
"She's a prig," shrugged Maizie.
"Edith Hammond used to sit there. Do you know her?" queried Marian of Elsie.
"She's not here any more. She's going to be married. I heard this Dorothy talking about her yesterday to Miss Dupree."
"Glad's she's gone. She was another turncoat. Hated Jane Allen and then started to be nice to her all of a sudden."
"This Jane Allen seems to have a lot of friends for all you girls say about her," Elsie asserted almost defiantly. "I detest her, but I notice she's never alone. The first night she came there was a crowd of girls in her room. I heard them laughing and singing."
"They didn't come to see her," informed Marian scornfully. "It's Judith Stearns that draws them. She's very popular at Wellington. Can't see why, I'm sure. Anyway Jane Allen has pulled the wool over her eyes until she thinks she has a wonderful roommate."
"Jane Allen hasn't so many friends," broke in Maizie. "Dorothy Martin, Judith, Adrienne Dupree, Ethel Lacey, she's Adrienne's roommate, and Norma Bennett. That's all. Lots of girls in the sophomore class don't like her."
"Yes, and who's Norma Bennett," sneered Marian. "She used to be a kitchen maid; now she's a third-rate actress. She's a pet of Adrienne's and Jane Allen's. I think we ought to make a fuss about having her here at the Hall. If we could get most of the girls to sign a petition asking Mrs. Weatherbee to take it up it would be a good thing."
"But would she do it?" was Maizie's skeptical query.
"She might if we worked it cleverly," answered Marian. "Adrienne and her crowd would probably go to President Blakesly. We'd have to work it in such a way that Norma wouldn't let her. This Bennett girl is one of the sensitive sort. False pride, you know. Beggars are usually like that. Of course, I don't say positively that we can do it. We'll have to wait and see. Some good chance may come."
"It would be a splendid way to get even with Jane Allen and Adrienne Dupree, too," approved Maizie. "They would have spasms if their darling Norma had to leave Madison Hall and they couldn't help themselves."
"I think it would be rather hard on this Norma," declared Elsie bluntly.
She had pricked up her ears at the word "actress." Unbeknown to anyone save herself she was desperately stage struck. The idea of having a real actress at the Hall was decidedly alluring.
"You don't know what you're talking about," angrily rebuked Marian. "It's hard on the girls of really good families to have to countenance such a person. I've lived at Madison Hall a year longer than you have. Just remember that."
"What we ought to do is to get as many girls as we can on our side," suggested crafty Maizie. "There are forty-eight girls at the Hall, most of them sophs. Last year we let them alone, because they weren't of our class. This year we'll have to make a fuss over them. Lunch them and take them to ride in our cars and all that. It will be a bore, but it will pay in the end. Once we get a stand-in with them, we can run things here to suit ourselves."
"That's a good idea," lauded Marian. "We'll begin this very day."
So it was that while Jane Allen and her little coterie of loyal friends entered upon their college year with high aspirations to do well, under the same roof with them, three girls sat and plotted to overthrow Wellington's most sacred tradition: "And this is my command unto you that ye love one another."
A VAGUE REGRET
"WELL, Jane, it's our turn to do the inviting this year," announced Judith Stearns, as she pranced jubilantly into the room where Jane sat hard at work on her Horace for next day's recitation.
"When is it to be?"
Jane looked up eagerly from her book.
"A week from to-night. The notice just appeared on the bulletin board. You know my fond affection for the bulletin board."
Judith boyishly tossed up her soft blue walking hat and caught it on one finger, loudly expressing her opinion of her own dexterity.
"Sit down, oh, vainglorious hat-thrower, and tell me about it," commanded Jane, laughing.
"That's all I know. It's to be next Wednesday night. I suppose our august soph committee has met and decided the great question. It's the usual getting-acquainted-with-our-freshman-sisters affair. After that comes class meeting, and after that——"
Judith plumped down on her couch bed and beamed knowingly at Jane.
"Guess what comes after that," she finished.
Jane gave a long sigh of pure satisfaction. There was a pleasant light in her eyes as she made the guess. She was anxiously looking forward to making the sophomore team.
Judith echoed the sigh. She also hoped to make the team.
"We'll have to get busy and invite our freshmen to the dance," she said wagging her brown head. "The freshman class is large this year; about a third larger than last year's class. That means some of the juniors and seniors will have to help out. I'm glad of it. It will give Norma a chance to go too."
"There are only four freshmen in this house," stated Jane. "One of them is out of the question for us."
"I get you," returned Judith slangily. "Undoubtedly you refer to the ignoble Miss Noble. Noble by name but not by nature," she added with a chuckle.
Jane smiled, then frowned.
"Honestly, Judy, I'd give almost anything if she weren't at our table. I don't mind her not speaking to any of us. But she always listens to every word we say and acts as if she was storing it up for future reference. Even Dorothy feels the strain."
"It's too bad," sympathized Judith. "There's only one consolation. When it gets too much on your nerves you can always fall back on Rutherford Inn."
"I'm going to fall back on it to-night," decided Jane suddenly. "Let's have a dinner party."
"Can't go. I am the proud possessor of one dollar and two cents," Judith ruefully admitted.
"This is to be my party," emphasized Jane. "I haven't touched my last check yet. I've been too busy studying to partify. Now don't be a quitter, Judy. I want to do this."
Jane had observed signs of objection on Judith's good-humored face.
"All right," yielded Judith. "Go ahead. I'll give a blow-out when my check comes. It'll be here next week."
"We'll invite Norma, Dorothy, Adrienne, Ethel, Mary, Christine Ellis, Barbara Temple, and oh, yes—Alicia Reynolds. We mustn't forget Alicia."
"Yes, she needs a little recreation," grinned Judith. "Chained to the ignoble Noble! What a fate for a good little soph! Some roommate!"
"You'd better be careful about the pet name you're so fond of giving that girl," warned Jane, laughing a little in spite of her admonition. "You know your failing. You'll say it some time to someone without thinking. Then little Judy will be sorry."
"Oh, I only say it to you and Imp," averred Judith cheerfully. "You're both to be trusted."
"If we're going to have the party to-night we'll have to hurry up about it. How are we going to get word to Alicia? I hate to go to her room on account of Miss Noble. And what about Christine and Barbara?"
Jane laid down her book and rose from her chair.
"I'll go over to Argyle Hall and invite them. Tell Ethel to go in and invite Alicia," suggested Judith. "She's almost as obliging as I am. She rooms next to Alicia and our noble friend. It will be only a step for her. She won't mind doing it."
"I guess I'd better. Tell Christine and Barbara to be at the Inn by six-thirty."
Jane turned and left the room. Walking down the long hall she passed Alicia's door. It was open a trifle. She was tempted to peep in and see if Alicia might perhaps be within and alone. Second thought prompted her to go on without investigating.
Rapping smartly on Ethel's door, her knock was followed by the sound of approaching footfalls from within. Nor was she aware that through the slight opening in Alicia's door a pair of sharp black eyes peered out at her.
"Why, hello, Jane!" greeted Ethel. "Come in."
"Can't stop but a minute."
Jane stepped into the room, careful to close the door behind her.
"I'm giving a dinner party at Rutherford Inn to-night," she briskly began. "All of our crowd are going, I hope. I'm just starting out to invite them. Where's Imp?"
"Downstairs on the trail of her laundry," laughed Ethel. "It went out white linen skirts and silk blouses. It came back sheets and pillow cases. You should have seen her face when she opened the package. She threw up her hands and said: 'What stupidity! Must I then appear in my classes draped like the ghost?'"
Jane joined in Ethel's merry laughter. She had a vision of petite Adrienne trailing into classes thus spectrally attired.