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Marjorie Dean High School Freshman
by Pauline Lester
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MARJORIE DEAN HIGH SCHOOL SERIES

By PAULINE LESTER

Cloth Bound, Cover Designs in Colors

MARJORIE DEAN, HIGH SCHOOL FRESHMAN. MARJORIE DEAN, HIGH SCHOOL SOPHOMORE. MARJORIE DEAN, HIGH SCHOOL JUNIOR. MARJORIE DEAN, HIGH SCHOOL SENIOR.

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MARJORIE DEAN HIGH SCHOOL FRESHMAN

by

PAULINE LESTER

Author of "Marjorie Dean, High School Sophomore" "Marjorie Dean, High School Junior" "Marjorie Dean, High School Senior"



A. L. Burt Company Publishers New York

Copyright, 1917 by A. L. Burt Company



MARJORIE DEAN, HIGH SCHOOL FRESHMAN

CHAPTER I

THE PARTING OF THE WAYS

"What am I going to do without you, Marjorie?" Mary Raymond's blue eyes looked suspiciously misty as she solemnly regarded her chum.

"What am I going to do without you, you mean," corrected Marjorie Dean, with a wistful smile. "Please, please don't let's talk of it. I simply can't bear it."

"One, two—only two more weeks now," sighed Mary. "You'll surely write to me, Marjorie?"

"Of course, silly girl," returned Marjorie, patting her friend's arm affectionately. "I'll write at least once a week."

Marjorie Dean's merry face looked unusually sober as she walked down the corridor beside Mary and into the locker room of the Franklin High School. The two friends put on their wraps almost in silence. The majority of the girl students of the big city high school had passed out some little time before. Marjorie had lingered for a last talk with Miss Fielding, who taught English and was the idol of the school, while Mary had hung about outside the classroom to wait for her chum. It seemed to Mary that the greatest sorrow of her sixteen years had come. Marjorie, her sworn ally and confidante, was going away for good and all.

When, six years before, a brown-eyed little girl of nine, with long golden-brown curls, had moved into the house next door to the Raymonds, Mary had lost no time in making her acquaintance. They had begun with shy little nods and smiles, which soon developed into doorstep confidences. Within two weeks Mary, whose eyes were very blue, and whose short yellow curls reminded one of the golden petals of a daffodil, had become Marjorie's adorer and slave. She it was who had escorted Marjorie to the Lincoln Grammar School and seen her triumphantly through her first week there. She had thrilled with unselfish pride to see how quickly the other little girls of the school had succumbed to Marjorie's charm. She had felt a most delightful sense of pardonable vanity when, as the year progressed, Marjorie had preferred her above all the others. She had clung to Mary, even though Alice Lawton, who rode to school every day in a shining limousine, had tried her utmost to be best friends with the brown-eyed little girl whose pretty face and lovable personality had soon made her the pet of the school.

Year after year Mary and Marjorie had lived side by side and kept their childish faith. But now, here they were, just beginning their freshman year in Franklin High School, to which they had so long looked forward, and about to be separated; for Marjorie's father had been made manager of the northern branch of his employer's business and Marjorie was going to live in the little city of Sanford. Instead of being a freshman in dear old Franklin, she was to enter the freshman class in Sanford High School, where she didn't know a solitary girl, and where she was sure she would be too unhappy for words.

During the first days which had followed the dismaying news that Marjorie Dean was going to leave Franklin High School and go hundreds of miles away, the two friends had talked of little else. There was so much to be said, yet now that their parting was but two weeks off they felt the weight of the coming separation bearing heavily upon them. Both young faces wore expressions of deepest gloom as they walked slowly down the steps of the school building and traversed the short space of stone walk that led to the street.

It was Marjorie who broke the silence.

"No other girl can ever be as dear to me as you are. You know that, don't you, Mary?"

Mary nodded mutely. Her blue eyes had filled with a sudden rush of hot tears.

"But it won't do any good," continued Marjorie, slowly, "for us to mourn over being separated. We know how we feel about each other, and that's going to be a whole lot of comfort to us after—I'm gone." Her girlish treble faltered slightly. Then she threw her arm across Mary's shoulder and said with forced steadiness of tone: "I'm not going to be a silly and cry. This is one of those 'vicissitudes' of life that Professor Taylor was talking about in chapel yesterday. We must be very brave. We'll write lots of letters and visit each other during vacation, and perhaps, some day I'll come back here to live."

"Of course you will. You must come back," nodded Mary, her face brightening at the prospect of a future reunion, even though remote.

"Can't you come with me to dinner?" coaxed Marjorie, as they paused at the corner where they were accustomed to wait for their respective street cars. "You know, you are one of mother's exceptions. I never have to give notice before bringing you home."

"Not to-night. I'm going out this evening," returned Mary, vaguely. "I must hurry home."

"Where are you going?" asked Marjorie, curiously. "You never said a word about it this morning."

"Oh, didn't I? Well, I'm going out with——Here comes your car, Marjorie. You'd better hurry home, too."

"Why?" Marjorie's brown eyes looked their reproach. "Do you want to get rid of me, Mary? I've oceans of time before dinner. You know we never have it until half-past six. Never mind, I'll take this car. Good-bye."

With a proud little nod of her head, Marjorie climbed the steps of the car which had now stopped at their corner, without giving her friend an opportunity for reply. Mary looked after the moving car with a rueful smile that changed to one of glee. Her eyes danced. "She hasn't the least idea of what's going to happen," thought the little fluffy-haired girl. "Won't she be surprised? Now that she's gone, Clark and Ethel and Seldon ought to be here."

A shrill whistle farther up the street caused her to glance quickly in the direction of the sound. Two young men were hurrying toward her, their boyish faces alight with enthusiasm and good nature.

"It's all O.K., Mary," called the taller of the two, his black eyes glowing. "Every last thing has been thought of. Ethel has the pin. She'll be along in a minute."

"It's a peach!" shouted the smaller lad, waving his cap, then jamming it down on his thick, fair hair. "We've been waiting up the street for Marjorie to take her car. Thought she'd never start."

"I am afraid I hurt her feelings," deplored Mary. "I forgot myself and told her she'd better hurry home. She looked at me in the most reproachful way."

"Cheer up," laughed Clark Grayson, the black-eyed youth. "To-night'll fix things. All the fellows are coming."

"So are all the girls," returned Mary, happily. "I do wish Ethel would hurry. I'm so anxious to see the pin. I know Marjorie will love it. Oh, here comes Ethel now."

Ethel Duval, a tall, slender girl of sixteen, with earnest, gray-blue eyes and wavy, flaxen hair, joined the trio with: "I'm so glad we waited. I wanted you to see the pin, Mary." She was fumbling busily in her shopping bag as she spoke. "Here it is." She held up a small, square package, which, when divested of its white paper wrapping, disclosed a blue plush box. A second later Mary was exclaiming over the dainty beauty of the bit of jewelry lying securely on its white satin bed. The pin was fashioned in the form of a golden butterfly, the body of which was set with tiny pearls.

"Oh-h-h!" breathed Mary. "Isn't it wonderful! But do you suppose her mother will allow her to accept such an expensive gift? It must have cost a lot of money."

"Fifteen dollars," announced Clark, cheerfully, "but it was a case of only fifty cents apiece, and besides, it's for Marjorie. Fifteen times fifteen dollars wouldn't be too much for her. Every fellow and girl that was invited accepted the invitation and handed over the tax. To make things sure, Ethel went round to see Marjorie's mother about it and won her over to our side. So that's settled."

"It's perfectly lovely," sighed Mary in rapture, "and you boys have worked so hard to make the whole affair a gorgeous success. I'm afraid we had better be moving on, though. It won't be long now until half-past seven. I do hope everyone will be on time."

"They've all been warned," declared Seldon Ames. "Good-bye, then, until to-night." The two boys raised their caps and swung down the street, while Mary and Ethel stopped for one more look at the precious pin that in later days was to mean far more to their schoolmate, Marjorie Dean, than they had ever dreamed.



CHAPTER II

GOOD-BYE, MARJORIE DEAN

"Whatever you do, don't laugh, or speak above a whisper, or fall up the steps, or do anything else that will give us away before we're ready," lectured Clark Grayson to the little crowd of happy-faced boys and girls who were gathered round him on the corner above Marjorie Dean's home. "We'd better advance by fives. Seldon, you go with the first lot. When I give the signal, this way," Clark puckered his lips and emitted a soft whistle, "ring the bell."

"Right-o," softly retorted three or four boyish voices.

Clark rapidly divided his little squad of thirty into fives, and moved toward the house with the first division. Two minutes later the next five conspirators began to move, and in an incredibly short space of time the surprise party was overflowing the Dean veranda and front steps. The boy who had been appointed bell ringer pressed his finger firmly against the electric bell. There came the sound of a quick footstep, then Marjorie herself opened the door, to be greeted with a merry shout of "Surprise! Surprise!"

"Why—what—who!" she gasped.

"Just exactly," agreed Clark Grayson. "'Why—what—who'—and enough others to make thirty. Of course, if you don't want us——"

"Stop teasing me, Clark, until I get over my surprise, at least," begged Marjorie. "No, I never suspected a single thing," she said, in answer to Ethel Duval's question. "Here are mother and father. They know more about all this than they'll say. They made me believe they were going to a party."

"And so we are," declared her father, as he and Mrs. Dean came forward to welcome their young guests, with the cordiality and graciousness for which they were noted among Marjorie's friends.

"Come this way, girls," invited Marjorie's mother, who, in an evening frock of white silk, looked almost as young as the bevy of pretty girls that followed her. "Mr. Dean will look after you, boys."

Once she had helped her mother usher the girls into the upstairs sleeping room set aside for their use, Marjorie lost no time in slipping over to the dressing table where Mary stood, patting her fluffy hair and lamenting because it would not stay smooth.

"You dear thing," whispered Marjorie, slipping her arm about her chum. "I'll forgive you for not telling me where you were going. I was terribly hurt for a minute, though. You know we've never had secrets from each other."

"And we never will," declared Mary, firmly. "Promise me, Marjorie, that you'll always tell me things; that is, when they're not someone else's secrets."

"I will," promised Marjorie, solemnly. "We'll write our secrets to each other instead of telling them. Now I must leave you for a minute and see if everyone is having a good time. We'll have another comfy old talk later."

To Mary Raymond fell the altogether agreeable task of keeping Marjorie away from the dining-room, where Mrs. Dean, Ethel Duval and two of her classmates busied themselves with the decorating of the two long tables. By ten o'clock all was ready for the guests. In the middle of each table, rising from a centerpiece of ferns, was a green silk pennant, bearing the figures 19— embroidered in scarlet. The staffs of the two pennants were wound with green and scarlet ribazine which extended in long streamers to each place, and was tied to dainty hand-painted pennant-shaped cards, on which appeared the names of the guests. Laid beside the place cards were funny little favors, which had been gleefully chosen with a sly view toward exploiting every one's pet hobby, while at either end of each table were tall vases of red roses, which seemed to nod their fragrant approval of the merry-making.

"It's quite perfect, isn't it?" sighed Ethel, with deep satisfaction, gently touching one of the red roses. "The very nicest part of it all is that you've been just as enthusiastic as we over the party." She turned affectionate eyes upon Mrs. Dean.

"It could hardly be otherwise, my dear," returned Mrs. Dean. "Remember, it is for my little girl that you have planned all this happiness. Nothing can please me more than the thought that Marjorie has so many friends. I only hope she will be equally fortunate in her new home, though, I am sure, she will never forget her Franklin High School chums."

"We won't give her that chance," nodded Ethel, emphatically. "There, I think we are ready. Clark wants to be your partner, Mrs. Dean, and Seldon is to escort Marjorie to her place. We aren't going to give her the pin until we are ready to drink the toasts. Robert Barrett is to be toastmaster. Will you go first and announce supper?"

There was a buzz of delight and admiration from the guests, as headed by Marjorie and Seldon, the little procession marched into the dining-room. For a moment the very sight of the gayly decked table with its weight of goodies and wonderful red roses caused Marjorie's brown eyes to blur. Then, as Seldon bowed her to the head of one of the tables, she winked back her tears, and nodding gayly to the eager faces turned toward her and said with her prettiest smile: "It's the very nicest surprise that ever happened to me, and I hope you will all have a perfectly splendid time to-night."

"Three cheers for Marjorie Dean! May we give them, Mrs. Dean?" called Robert Barrett.

Mrs. Dean's smiling assent was lost in the volume of sound that went up from thirty lusty young throats.

"Now, Franklin High," proposed Mary Hammond, and the Franklin yell was given by the girls. The boys, who were nearly all students at the La Fayette High School, just around the corner from Franklin, responded with their yell, and the merry little company began hunting their places and seating themselves at the tables.

Marjorie was far too much excited to eat. Her glances strayed continually down the long tables to the cheery faces of her schoolmates. It seemed almost too wonderful that her friends should care so much about her.

"Marjorie Dean, stop dreaming and eat your supper," commanded Mary, who had been covertly watching her friend. "Clark, you are sitting next to her. Make her eat her chicken salad. It's perfectly delicious."

"Will you eat your salad or must I exercise my stern authority?" began Clark, drawing down his face until he exactly resembled a certain roundly disliked teacher of mathematics in the boys' high school. There was a laugh of recognition from the boys sitting nearest to Clark. He continued to eye Marjorie severely.

"Of course, I'm going to eat my salad," declared Marjorie, stoutly. "You must give me time, though. I'm still too surprised to be hungry."

But the greatest surprise was still in store for her. When everyone had finished eating, Robert Barrett began his duties as toastmaster. Ethel Duval came first with "What Friendships Mean to a Schoolgirl," and Seldon Ames followed with a ridiculously funny little toast to "The High School Fellows." Then Mr. and Mrs. Dean were toasted, and Lillian Hale, a next-door neighbor and the only upper-class girl invited, gave solemn counsel and advice to the "freshman babies."

As Marjorie's dearest friend, to Mary had been accorded the honor of giving the farewell toast, "Aufwiedersehen," and the presentation of the pin. Mary's clear voice trembled slightly as she began the little speech which she had composed and learned for the occasion. Then her faltering tones gathered strength, and before she realized that she was actually making a speech, she had reached the most important part of it and was saying, "We wish you to keep and wear this remembrance of our good will throughout your school life in Sanford. We hope you will make new friends, and we ask only that you won't forget the old."

"I can't begin to tell you how much I thank you all," Marjorie responded, her tones not quite steady, her face lighted with a fond pride that lay very near to tears. "I shall love my butterfly all my life, and never forget that you gave it to me. I am going to call it my talisman, and I am sure it will bring me good luck."

But neither the givers nor Marjorie Dean could possibly guess that, in the days to come, the beautiful golden butterfly was to prove anything but a talisman to the popular little freshman.



CHAPTER III

THE GIRL WHO LOOKED LIKE MARY

"It's rather nice to have so much room, but I know I shall never feel quite at home here," murmured Marjorie Dean, under her breath, as she came slowly down the steps of her new home and paused for a moment in the middle of the stone walk which led to the street. Her wistful glance strayed over the stretch of lawn, still green, then turned to rest on the house, a comfortable three-story structure of wood, painted dark green, with lighter green trimmings. Her mother's sudden appearance at the window caused Marjorie to retrace her steps. Luncheon was ready.

"Everything is so different," she sighed, as she climbed the steps she had so lately descended. "I've been here a week, and I haven't met a single girl. I don't believe there are any girls in this neighborhood. I should feel a good deal worse, too, if the Franklin girls hadn't been such dears!" Marjorie's last comment, spoken half aloud, referred to the numerous letters she had received since her arrival in the town of Sanford from her Franklin High School friends, now so many miles away. Mary Raymond had not only fulfilled her promise to write one long letter every week, but had mailed Marjorie, almost daily, hurriedly-written little notes full of the news of what went on among the boys and girls she had left behind.

It had been a busy, yet a very long week for Marjorie. The unpacking of the Deans' furniture, which had been shipped to Sanford a week before their arrival there, and the setting to rights of her new home had so occupied the attention of Mrs. Dean and Nora, her faithful maid-of-all-work, that Marjorie, aside from certain tasks allotted to her to perform, was left for the most part to her own devices. As they had arrived in Sanford on Monday, Marjorie's mother had decided to give her daughter an opportunity to accustom herself to her new home and surroundings before allowing her to enter the high school. So the day for Marjorie's initial appearance in "The Sanford High School for Girls" had been set for the following Monday.

It was now Friday afternoon. Marjorie had spent the morning in writing a fifteen-page letter to Mary, the minor refrain of which was: "I can't tell you how much I miss you, Mary," and which contained views regarding her future high school career that were far from being optimistic. She had not finished her letter. She decided to leave it open until after luncheon and, laying it aside for the time, she had tripped down stairs and out doors.

"What are you going to do this afternoon, dear?" asked her mother as Marjorie slipped into place at the luncheon table.

"I don't know, Mother," was the almost doleful reply. "I thought I might take a walk up Orchard street as far as Sargent's, that cunning little confectioner's shop on the corner. Perhaps, if I go, I may see something interesting to tell Mary. I haven't finished my letter."

Marjorie did not add that her walk would include a last stroll past the towering gray walls of a certain stone building on Lincoln avenue, which bore over its massive oak doors the inscription, "The Sanford High School for Girls." Almost every day since her arrival, she had visited it, viewing it speculatively and with a curious kind of apprehension. She was not afraid to plunge into her new school life, but deep down in her heart she felt some little misgiving. What if the new girls proved to be neither likable nor companionable? What if she liked them but they did not like her? She had just begun the same apprehensive train of thought that had been disturbing her peace of mind for the last four days when her mother's voice broke the spell.

"If you are going that far I wish you would go on to Parke & Whitfield's for me. I should like you to match this embroidery silk. I have not enough of it to finish this collar and cuff set I am making for you."

"I'll be your faithful servant and execute all your commissions, mum," declared Marjorie with a little obeisance, her spirits rising a little at the prospect of actual errands to perform. She was already tired of aimlessly wandering along the wide, well-kept streets of Sanford, feeling herself to be quite out of things. Even errands were actual blessings sometimes, she decided, as a little later, she ran upstairs to dress.

"May I wear my best suit and hat, Mother?" she called anxiously down from the head of the stairs. "It's such a lovely day, I'm sure it won't rain, snow, hail or do anything else to spoil them."

"Very well," answered Mrs. Dean, placidly.

With a gurgle of delight Marjorie hurried into her room to put on her new brown suit, which had the mark of a well-known tailor in the coat, and her best hat, on which all the Franklin High girls had set their seal of approval. She had shoes and gloves to match her suit, too, and her dancing brown eyes and fluffy brown hair were the last touches needed to complete the dainty little study in brown.

"Don't I look nice in this suit?" she asked her mother saucily, turning slowly around before the living-room mirror. "Aren't you and father perfect dears to let me have it, though?" She whirled and descended upon her mother with outstretched arms, enveloping her in an ecstatic hug that sadly disturbed the proper angle of her brown velvet hat.

"Don't be gone too long," reminded her mother. "You know father has promised us tickets for the theatre to-night. We shall have an early dinner."

"All right, I'll remember, Captain." With a brisk touching of her hand to her hat brim in salute Marjorie vanished through the door, to reappear a moment later at the living-room window, flash a merry smile at her mother, about face and march down the walk in true military style.

Long before when Marjorie was a tiny girl she had shown an unusual preference for soldiers. She had owned enough wooden soldiers to make a regiment and was never at a loss to invent war games in which they figured. Sometimes, when she tired of her stiff, silent armies, which could only move as she willed, she inveigled her father or mother into being the hero, the enemy, the traitor or whatever her active imagination chose to suggest. Her parents, amused at her boyish love of military things, encouraged her in her play and entered into it with as much spirit as the child herself. Her father, who had once been an officer in the National Guard, taught her the manual of arms and she had learned it with a will.

Marjorie's military enthusiasm had been at its height when she met Mary Raymond, who soon became equally fascinated with the stirring play. In time other interests crowded their lives. The hard-worked armies were laid peacefully on their wooden backs to enjoy a long, undisturbed rest, while Marjorie and Mary became soldiers instead, addressing Mr. Dean as "General," Mrs. Dean as "Captain," and bestowing upon themselves the rank of ordinary enlisted soldiers who must earn their promotion by loyal and faithful service.

Mr. Dean had been rather chary of promotions, frequently reminding his little detachment that it is a far cry from the ranks of a private to that of a commissioned officer. So when their parting came, Mary and Marjorie had just received their commissions as second lieutenants, their awards of faithful service in the grammar school.

Lieutenant Marjorie smiled, then sighed, as she started on her walk. The salute she had just given brought a flood of memories of Mary. She felt she would not mind exploring this strange, new, high school territory if Mary were with her. She was sure no girl in Sanford could understand her as Mary had. On two different afternoons she had stood across the street from the school at the time of dismissal. She had eagerly watched the great oak doors open wide and the long lines of girls file out, waking the still October air with their merry voices. She had been particularly attracted toward one tall, lithe, graceful girl whose golden hair and brown eyes made her unusually lovely. At first sight of her, lonely, imaginative Marjorie had named her "The Picture Girl," and had decided that she was a darling. She had noticed that the pretty girl was always the center of a group and she had also noted that one small, black-haired girl with an elfish face, who wore the most exquisite clothes invariably walked at the tall girl's side. There was a pink-cheeked girl, too, with laughing blue eyes and dimples, and a fair-haired, serious-faced girl, who reminded Marjorie of Alice Duval. They usually formed part of the group about the tall girl and her dark companion, and there was also a very short, stout girl who puffed along anxiously in the rear of the group as though never quite able to catch up.

Marjorie had already imagined much concerning this particular knot of girls, and her desire to see them again before entering school was responsible for her walk down Lincoln avenue that sunny fall afternoon. She would do her errands first, she decided, then, returning by the way of the school, pass there just at the time that the afternoon session was dismissed. She went about her far-from-arduous commissions in leisurely fashion, now and then glancing at her chatelaine watch to make sure of the time. Three o'clock saw the daily procession of girls down the high school steps, and released from classes for the day. She did not intend to miss them.

It was twenty minutes to three when Marjorie finished a remarkable concoction of nuts, chocolate syrup and ice cream, a kind of glorified nut sundae, rejoicing in the name of "Sargent Nectar," and left the smart little confectioner's shop. As she neared the school building her eyes suddenly became riveted upon a slim, blue-clad figure that hesitated for on instant at the top of the high steps then ran lightly down and came hurrying toward where she stood.

"The advance guard," declared Marjorie half aloud. Then, as her eyes sought the approaching girl: "Why, she looks like Mary! And she's been crying! I'm going to speak to her." She took an impulsive step forward as the stranger came abreast of her and began:

"Won't you——"

Marjorie's speech ended abruptly. The weeping girl cast one startled glance toward her from a pair of wet blue eyes, lunged by her without speaking and, breaking into a run, turned the corner and disappeared from view. Marjorie surveyed the back of the rapidly vanishing yellow head with rueful surprise. Then she gave a short laugh.

"I should have known better," she reflected. "Of course, she'd hardly care to tell her personal affairs to the first one who asks her. But she made me think of Mary. Oh, dear, I'm so homesick. Not even my new suit and hat can make me forget that. I wouldn't have mother know it for the world. I believe she is a wee bit homesick, too."

Marjorie paused for an instant at her accustomed place on the opposite side of the street, undecided whether to loiter there and once more watch her future companions pass out of school or to go on about her business. Suddenly the school doors swung wide and the pupils began flocking out. The little stranger yielded to the temptation to linger long enough to watch the five girls pass in whom she had become interested. They were among the last to emerge and, the moment they reached the steps, their voices rose in a confused babble, each one determined to make herself heard above the others.

"I knew she wouldn't do it," shrilled the stout girl, as they neared Marjorie. "She's too stingy for words. That's the third time she's refused to go into things with the rest of us."

"Be still," reminded the Picture Girl; "she might have very good reasons——"

"Good reasons," scornfully mimicked the little dark girl, her black eyes glittering angrily. "It was only because the plan was mine. She hates me, and you all know why. I don't think you ought to stand up for her, Muriel. You know how deceitful she is and what unkind things she said about me."

"I'm not standing up for her," contradicted Muriel, but her tones lacked force. "I only felt a little bit sorry for her. She looked ready to cry all the afternoon. I think she went home early to avoid meeting us."

"That proves she is a coward," was the triumphant retort. "Remember——" With a sudden swift movement she rose on tiptoe and, drawing the Picture Girl's head to the level of her mouth, whispered something to her. The fair-haired girl looked annoyed, the fat girl openly sulky and the dimpled girl disapproving. Exchanging significant glances, they walked on ahead of the other two.

Without the slightest intention of being an eavesdropper, Marjorie had heard every word of the loud-spoken conversation. Her eyes were fixed in fascination upon the dark, sharp-featured face so close to the fair, beautiful one. She suddenly recalled a picture she had once seen called "The Evil Genius," in which a dark, mocking face peered over the shoulder of a young man who sat at a table as though in deep thought. This girl's vivid face bore a slight resemblance to that of the Evil Genius, and it was not until the end of Marjorie's junior year in Sanford that this sinister impression faded and disappeared forever.

When the little company had passed on down the street, Marjorie turned and followed them from a distance. For several blocks her way lay in the same direction, but as she turned into her own street she swept a last glance toward the five girls. She wondered whom they had been discussing so freely. She was vaguely disappointed in the Picture Girl, who seemed to her independent mind too easily influenced by the Evil Genius. Marjorie had already begun to think of the small, dark girl as that. She was glad not to be the girl they had discussed. Then, her thought changing, a vision of two wet blue eyes and a tear-stained face set in fluffy yellow curls came to her, and Marjorie knew that she had seen the object of their discussion. A wave of sympathy for the offender swept over her. "I don't believe she could do anything deceitful or horrid," she reflected stoutly. "Her eyes are as true and as blue as Mary's. I'm going to like her and be her friend, if she'll let me, for she certainly seems to need one. I did so want to be friends with the Picture Girl, but I can't help wishing she had been just a little bit braver."

While Marjorie strolled thoughtfully home, deep in her own cogitations, the five girls, having joined forces again, were discussing her.

"Did you see that pretty girl standing across from the school as we came out?" asked Susan Atwell, the girl with the dimples.

"Yes," returned Irma Linton. "I noticed her there the other day, too. I wonder who she can be."

"I don't know," said Muriel Harding. "She is awfully sweet though, and dresses beautifully. She——"

"I know all about her," interrupted Geraldine Macy. "Her father is the new manager for Preston & Haines. They only moved here from the city last week. Her name is Dean. That is, her last name. I don't know her other name."

"I am surprised that you don't know that," was the sarcastic comment of Mignon La Salle, the little dark girl.

"You needn't be," flung back the stout girl. "There are lots of things I don't know that I'd like to know. For instance——"

"Don't be cross, Jerry," interrupted Mignon, hastily. "I was only teasing you." She cast a peculiar glance at the ruffled Jerry from under her heavy lashes which the young woman failed to catch. "Tell us some more about this new girl. I really didn't pay hardly any attention to her to-day."

"There isn't anything more to tell that I know of," muttered Jerry, sulkily, her desire to distribute news quite gone. "Wait until Monday and see. I know she's going to enter Sanford High and that she's a freshman."

"Then as freshmen it's our solemn duty to be nice to her and make her feel at home," stated Muriel, seriously.

Mignon La Salle shrugged her thin shoulders. "Perhaps," she said, without enthusiasm. "I shall wait until I see her before I decide that."

Meanwhile, Marjorie had reached home, and, seated before the library table, was writing for dear life on the letter she had begun to Mary. So far she had had nothing to tell her chum regarding the young women who were to be her classmates. To be sure, what she had seen and heard that afternoon had amounted to nothing, but the girl who looked like Mary had set her to longing all over again to be able, just for one afternoon, to sit side by side on the front steps with her childhood's friend and talk things over.

"You can't imagine, Mary," she wrote, "how sorry I felt when I saw that poor girl crying with your eyes. They were just like yours. I forgot everything except that she looked like you, and asked her what the trouble was. Of course, she didn't answer me, but actually ran down the street. I should have known better, but I felt so terribly sympathetic. 'Terribly' is the only word that expresses it. Right after she had gone the others began to come out of school, and at last the five girls I told you about came out. They were all talking at once, but I heard the horrid, sharp-faced, dark girl say that someone was stingy and deceitful and a lot of other unpleasant things. I thought the Picture Girl was going to stand up for the person, but that mean little Evil Genius wouldn't let her. Then all at once it came to me that it was this Mary girl they were talking about. It was really this one dark girl who said most of the mean things. The others just listened to her. At any rate, I'm going to find out who the Mary girl is and try to be a friend to her just because she looks like you. Don't imagine I could ever like her better than you, because you know I couldn't. But it's a true soldier's duty to stand by his comrades on the firing line, you know, and I am going to be this girl's freshman comrade, and, if she's one-half as nice as you, I'll be ready to help her fight her battles.

"Monday is the great day. I dread it, and yet I am looking forward to it. I like the outside of the school, but will I like the inside? Mother is going to the principal's office with me. I hope I sha'n't have to try a lot of tiresome examinations. I have forgotten everything I ever knew, and the weather has been too pleasant to study. This is such a pretty town, with plenty of nice walks. If only you were here it would be quite perfect. I do hope you can come and visit me at Easter. Must stop now, as I hear mother calling me. We are going to walk down to meet father. With my dearest love. Write soon.

"Yours always,

"Marjorie."

Marjorie folded, addressed and stamped her letter, then catching her hat from the hallrack ran out the front door to overtake her mother who had walked on ahead.

"I finished my letter to Mary," she held it up for inspection, "and I've something to report, Captain."

"I am ready to hear you," smiled her mother, as they walked on arm in arm.

For the second time Marjorie related her little adventure, ending with her resolve to learn to know and befriend, if necessary, the girl who looked like Mary. Nor did she have the slightest premonition of how much this readily-avowed championing of a stranger was to cost her.



CHAPTER IV

SANFORD'S LATEST FRESHMAN

"Will you tell me the way to the principal's office, please?"

A clear voice broke in upon the conversation of two girls who had paused before the broad stairway leading to the second floor of the Sanford High School for a last word before separating for their morning recitations.

At the sound of the soft, interrupting voice, which contained a touch of perplexity in its tones, both girls turned quickly to regard the owner. They saw an attractive little figure, wearing a dainty blue cloth gown, which was set off by hand-embroidered cuffs and an open rolling collar of sheerest white. From under a smart blue hat escaped a wealth of soft, brown curls, while two brown eyes looked into theirs with an expression of appeal that brought forth instant reply.

"Miss Archer's office is the last room on the east side of the second-floor corridor. I am going there now and shall be glad to show you the way," was the quick response of the taller of the two girls, accompanied by a cheery smile that warmed Marjorie Dean's heart and made her feel the least bit less of a stranger in this strange land which she was about to explore.

"Thank you," she returned gratefully, trying to smile in an equally friendly manner.

Marjorie's first day of school had begun far from propitiously. She had not reckoned on making her initial appearance in Sanford High School alone. It had been planned that her mother should accompany her, but when Monday morning came, her beloved captain had awakened with a racking headache, which meant nothing less than lying in bed for a long, pain-filled day in a darkened room.

Torn between sympathy for her mother and her own disappointment, Marjorie had experienced a desire to go to her captain's room and cry her eyes out, but being fashioned of sturdier stuff, she made a desperate effort to brace up and be a good soldier. This was just another of those miserable "vicissitudes" that no one could foresee. She must face it without grumbling. Her father had already telephoned for a physician when she entered her mother's room, and Marjorie put on her sweetest smile as she kissed her mother and assured her that she didn't in the least mind going to school alone.

As she followed the young woman up the stairs and down the long corridor Marjorie felt her heart beat a little faster. Her low spirits of the early morning began to rise. How good it seemed actually to be in school again! And what a beautiful school it was! Even Franklin would appear dingy beside it. She gazed appreciatively at the high ceiling and the shining oak wainscotings of the wide corridor through which she was passing. When her guide, who was tall, thin and plain of face, opened the last door on the right and ushered her into a beautiful sunshiny office which seemed more like a living-room than a place wherein business was transacted, Marjorie uttered an involuntary, "Oh, how lovely!"

"Yes, isn't it though," returned the tall girl. "This is Miss Archer's own idea, and, so far, it's proving a brilliant success. That is, we all think so. Is Miss Archer in her private office?" she asked the young woman who had risen from her desk near the door and came forward to receive them.

Marjorie would have liked to ask her new acquaintance what she meant, but at that moment a door at the farther end of the room opened and a stately, black-haired woman, with just a suspicion of gray at her temples, emerged. She turned a pair of grave, deep-set eyes upon the tall girl and said, pleasantly: "Well, Ellen, what can I do for you this morning?"

"Oh, Miss Archer!" exclaimed the tall girl, eagerly, with an impulsive step forward, "you haven't forbidden basketball this year, have you? Stella and I couldn't believe our ears when we heard it this morning!" It was evident that the impetuous Ellen was on the best possible terms with her principal.

"I don't remember having issued an order to that effect," smiled Miss Archer. "Where did you hear that bit of news?"

Ellen Seymour's plain face flushed, then paled. "It was just a rumor," she replied with reluctance. "I'd rather not mention names. Still, when I heard it, I could not rest until I had asked you. The sophomores hope to do something wonderful this year. We couldn't bear to believe for a minute that there would be no basketball. We had planned to have a tryout some day this week, after school. I'm so glad," she added fervently. "Thank you, Miss Archer. Oh, pardon me," she turned to Marjorie, "this is Miss Archer, our principal. Miss Archer, this young lady wishes to see you. I met her in the corridor downstairs and volunteered my services as guide."

With a courteous nod to Marjorie, the tall girl left the room and the principal turned her attention toward the prospective freshman.

At the calm, kindly inquiry of the gray eyes Marjorie's feeling of shyness vanished, and she said in her most soldierly manner, as though speaking to her mother: "Miss Archer, my name is Marjorie Dean, and I wish to enter the freshman class of Sanford High School. We moved to Sanford from the city of B——. We have been here just a week. I was a freshman in Franklin High School at B——."

Miss Archer took the young girl's hand in hers. Her rather stern face was lighted with a welcoming smile. Marjorie's direct speech and frank, honest eyes had pleased the older woman.

"I am glad to know that we are to have a new pupil," she said cordially. "The freshman class is smaller than usual this year. So many girls leave school when their grammar school course is finished. I wish we could persuade these mothers and fathers to let their daughters have at least a year of high school. It would help them so much in whatever kind of work they elected to do later."

"That is what mother says," returned Marjorie, quickly. "My mother intended to come with me to-day, but was unable to do so." She did not go into details. Young as she was, Marjorie had a horror of discussing her personal affairs with a stranger. "She will call upon you later."

"I shall be pleased to meet your mother," Miss Archer made courteous answer. "The first and most important matter to be considered this morning is your class standing. Let me see. B—— is in the same state as the town of Sanford. I believe the system of credits is the same in all the high schools throughout this state, as the examinations come from the state board at the capital. What studies had you begun at B——?"

"English composition, algebra, physiology, American history and French," recited Marjorie, dutifully.

Miss Archer raised her eyebrows. "You are ambitious. We usually allow our pupils to carry only four subjects."

"But these are quite easy subjects," pleaded Marjorie; "that is, all except algebra. I am not especially clever in mathematics. I am obliged to study very hard to make good recitations. Still, I should like to continue with the subjects I have begun. Won't you try me until the end of the first term?" she added, a coaxing note in her voice.

"I will at least try you for a week or two. Then if I find that you are not overtaxing your strength you may go on with them."

"Thank you." Marjorie's relieved tone caused the principal to smile again. It was not usual for a pupil to show concern over the prospect of losing a subject. Many of the students rebelled at having to carry four subjects.

"Have you your grammar school certificate with you?" asked Miss Archer, the smile giving way to a businesslike expression.

Marjorie handed the principal the large envelope she had been carrying. Miss Archer drew forth a square of thick white paper, ornamented with the red seal by which the state board of school commissioners had signified their approval of Marjorie Dean and her work in the grammar school.

The older woman read it carefully. "Yes, this is, as I thought the same form of certificate. From this moment on you are a freshman in Sanford High School, Miss Dean. I trust that you will be happy here. Sanford has the reputation of being one of the finest schools in the state. I am going to assign you to a seat in the study hall at once. Miss Merton is in charge there. She will give you a printed form of our curriculum of study. School opens at nine o'clock in the morning. The morning session lasts until twelve o'clock. We have an hour and a quarter for luncheon, and our last recitation for the day is over at half past three o'clock. We have devotional exercises in the chapel on Monday and Friday mornings, and the course in gymnastics is optional. There are, of course, many other things regarding the regulations of the school which you will gradually come to know."

"Miss Arnold," the thin-faced, sharp-eyed young woman, who had been covertly appraising Marjorie during her talk with Miss Archer, came languidly forward. "This is Miss Dean." The two girls bowed rather distantly. Marjorie had conceived an instant and violent dislike for this lynx-eyed stranger. "Take Miss Dean to the locker room, then to Miss Merton. Say to Miss Merton that Miss Dean is a freshman, and that I wish her assigned to a desk in the freshman section."

With a last glance of pleasant approval, which Marjorie's pretty face, dainty attire and frank, yet modest bearing had evoked, the principal retired to her inner office, and Marjorie obediently followed her guide, who, without speaking, set off down the corridor at almost unnecessary speed. "This way," she directed curtly as they reached the main corridor. They passed down the corridor, descended a second stairway and brought up directly in front of long rows of lockers. Within five minutes Marjorie's hat had been put away, and she had received a locker key. This done, her companion hurried her upstairs and down the wide corridor through which they had first come.

Then she suddenly opened a door, and Marjorie found herself in an enormous square room, which contained row upon row of shining oak desks, occupied by what seemed to her hundreds of pupils. In reality there were not more than two hundred and forty persons in the room, but in the eyes of the little stranger everything was quadrupled. How different it was from Franklin! So this was the study hall, one of the things on which the school prided itself. In front of the rows of desks was one large desk on a small raised platform, reminding Marjorie of an island in the midst of a sea. At the desk sat a small, gray-haired woman, who peered suspiciously over her glasses at Marjorie as she was lifelessly introduced by Miss Arnold.

"I don't like her at all," was the young girl's inward comment as she walked behind the stiff, uncompromising, black-clothed back to a desk almost in the middle of the last row of seats on the east side. But Marjorie experienced a little shiver of delight as she seated herself, for directly in front of her, and gazing at her with reassuring, smiling eyes, was the Picture Girl.



CHAPTER V

GETTING ACQUAINTED WITH THE PICTURE GIRL

"Welcome to Sanford," whispered the girl, "and to the freshman class. I was sure when I saw you the other day you couldn't be anything other than a freshman."

Marjorie flushed, then smiled faintly. "I didn't think any of the girls would remember me," she confessed.

"Oh, I remember you perfectly. You were across the street from school on three different days, weren't you?"

Marjorie nodded. "I just had to come down and get acquainted with the outside of the school. I was awfully curious about it."

"Miss Harding," a cold voice at their elbows caused both girls to start. So intent had they been on their conversation that they had not noticed Miss Merton's approach, "you may answer any questions Miss Dean wishes to ask regarding our course of study here as set forth in our curriculum." She laid a closely printed sheet of paper before Marjorie. "This does not mean, however, the personal conversation in which, I am sorry to say, you appeared to be engrossed when I approached. Remember, Miss Dean, that personal conversation will neither be excused nor tolerated in the study hall. I trust I shall not have to remind you of this again."

Marjorie watched with unseeing eyes the angular form of the teacher as she retreated to her platform. If Miss Merton had dealt her a blow on her upturned face, it could have hurt no more severely than had this unlooked-for reprimand. She was filled with a choking sense of shame that threatened to end in a burst of angry sobs. The deep blush that had risen to her face receded, leaving her very white. Those students sitting in her immediate vicinity had, of course, heard Miss Merton. She glanced quickly about to encounter two pairs of eyes. One pair was blue and, it seemed to the embarrassed newcomer, sympathetic. Their owner was the "Mary" girl, who sat two seats behind her in the next aisle. The other pair was cruelly mocking, and they belonged to the girl that Marjorie had mentally styled the Evil Genius. Something in their taunting depths stirred an hitherto unawakened chord in gentle Marjorie Dean. She returned the insolent gaze with one so full of steady strength and defiance that the girl's eyes dropped before it and she devoted herself assiduously to the open book which she held in her hand.

"Don't mind Miss Merton," whispered Muriel, comfortingly. "She is the worst crank I ever saw. No one likes her. I don't believe even Miss Archer does. She's been here for ages, so the Board of Education thinks that Sanford High can't run without her, I guess."

"I'm so mortified and ashamed," murmured Marjorie. "On my first day, too."

"Don't think about it," soothed Muriel. "What studies are you going to take? I hope you will recite in some of my classes. Wait a moment. I'll come back there and sit with you; then we'll make less noise. Miss Merton told me to help you, you know," she reminded, with a soft chuckle.

The fair head and the dark one bent earnestly over the printed sheet. Marjorie whispered her list of subjects to her new friend, who jotted them down on the margin of the program.

"How about 9.15 English Comp?" she asked. "That's my section."

Marjorie nodded her approval.

"Then you can recite algebra with me at 10.05, and there's a first-year French class at 11.10. That brings three subjects in the morning. Now, let me see about your history. If you can make your history and physiology come the first two periods in the afternoon, you will be through by three o'clock and can have that last half hour for study or gym, or whatever you like. I am carrying only four subjects, so I have nothing but physical geography in the afternoon. I am through reciting every day by 2 o'clock, so I learn most of my lessons in school and hardly ever take my books home. If I were you, I'd drop one subject—American History, for instance. You can study it later. The freshman class is planning a lot of good times for this winter, and, of course, you want to be in them, too, don't you?"

"I should say so," beamed Marjorie. "Still," her face sobering, "I think I won't drop history. It's easy, and I love it."

"Well, I don't," emphasized Muriel. "By the way, do you play basketball?"

"I played left guard on our team last year, and I had just been chosen for center on the freshman team, at Franklin High, when I left there," was the whispered reply.

"That's encouraging," declared Muriel. "We haven't chosen our team yet. We are to have a tryout at four o'clock on Friday afternoon in the gymnasium. You can go to the meeting with me, although you will have met most of the freshman class before Friday. Oh, yes, did Miss Archer tell you that we report in the study hall at half-past eight o'clock on Monday and Friday mornings? We have chapel exercises, and woe be unto you if you are late. It's an unforgivable offense in Miss Merton's eyes to walk into chapel after the service has begun. If you are late, you take particular pains to linger around the corridor until the line comes out of chapel, then you slide into your section and march into the study hall as boldly as though you'd never been late in your life," ended Muriel with a giggle, which she promptly smothered.

"But what if Miss Merton sees one?"

Muriel made a little resigned gesture. "Try it some day and see. There's the 9.15 bell. Come along. If we hurry we'll have a minute with the girls before class begins. All of my chums recite English this first hour. You needn't stop at Miss Merton's desk. It'll be all right."

Marjorie walked down the aisle behind Muriel, looking rather worried. Then she touched Muriel's arm. "I think I'd rather stop and speak to Miss Merton," she said with soft decision.

"All right," the response came indifferently as Muriel, a bored look on her youthful face, walked on ahead.

Marjorie walked bravely up to the teacher. "Miss Merton, I have arranged my studies and recitation hours. Miss Harding is going to show me the way to the English composition class."

Miss Merton stared coldly at the girl's vivid, colorless face, framed in its soft brown curls. Her own youth had been prim and narrow, and she felt that she almost hated this girl whose expressive features gave promise of remarkable personality and abundant joy of living.

"Very well." The disagreeable note of dismissal in the teacher's voice angered Marjorie.

"I'll never again speak to her unless it's positively necessary," she resolved resentfully. "I wish I'd taken Miss Harding's advice."

"Well, did she snap your head off?" inquired Muriel as Marjorie joined her.

"No," was the brief answer.

"It's a wonder. There goes the third bell. It's on to English comp for us. I won't have time to introduce you to the girls. We'll have to wait until noon. Miss Flint teaches English. She's a dear, and everyone likes her."

Muriel's voice dropped on her last speech, for they were now entering the classroom. At the first flat-topped desk in one corner of the room sat a small, fair woman with a sweet, sunshiny face that quite won Marjorie to her.

"Miss Flint, this is Miss Dean," began Muriel, as they stopped before the desk. "She is a freshman and has just been registered in the study hall by Miss Merton."

A long, earnest glance passed between teacher and pupil, then Marjorie felt her hand taken between two small, warm palms. "I am sure Miss Dean and I are going to be friends," said a sweet, reassuring voice that amply made up for Miss Merton's stiffness. "Are you a stranger in Sanford, my dear? I am sure I have never seen you before."

"We have lived here a week," smiled Marjorie. "We moved here from B——."

"How interesting. Were you a student of Franklin High School? I have a dear friend who teaches English there."

"Oh!" exclaimed Marjorie, her eyes sparkling, "do you mean Miss Fielding?"

"Yes," returned Miss Flint. "We were best friends during our college days, too. Hampton College is our alma mater."

"That is where I hope to go when I finish high school. Miss Fielding has told me so many nice things about Hampton," was Marjorie's eager reply. Then she added impetuously, "I'm going to like Sanford, too. I'm quite sure of it."

"That is the right spirit in which to begin your work here," was the instant response. "I will assign you to that last seat in the third row. We do not change seats. Each girl is given her own place for the year."

Marjorie thanked Miss Flint, and made her way to the seat indicated. The sound of footsteps in the corridor had ceased. A tall girl in the front row of desks slipped from her seat and closed the door. Miss Flint rose, faced her class, and the recitation began.

After the class was dismissed Miss Flint detained Marjorie for a moment to ask a few questions regarding her text and note books. Muriel waited in the corridor. Her face wore an expression of extreme satisfaction. It looked as though the new freshman might be a distinct addition to the critical little company of girls who had set themselves as rulers and arbiters of the freshman class. She was pretty, wore lovely clothes, lived in a big house in a select neighborhood, had played center on a city basketball team, and was the friend of Miss Flint's friend. To be sure, Mignon La Salle might raise some objection to the newcomer. Mignon was so unreasonably jealous. But for all her money, Mignon must not be allowed always to have her own way. Muriel was sure the rest of the girls would be quite in favor of adding Marjorie Dean to their number. They needed one more girl to complete their sextette. To Marjorie should fall the honor.

"I'll introduce her to the girls this noon, and let them look her over. Then I'll have a talk with them to-night and see what they think," planned Muriel as she went back to the study hall at Marjorie's side.

There was a hurried exchange of books, then Marjorie was rushed off to her algebra recitation. Here she found herself at least two weeks ahead of the others, and was able to solve a problem at the blackboard that had puzzled several members of the class, thereby winning a reputation for herself as a mathematician to which it afterward proved anything but easy to live up to.

While in both her English and algebra classes Marjorie had searched the room with alert eyes for the girl who looked like Mary. She felt vaguely disappointed. She had hoped to come into closer contact with her. She liked Muriel, she decided, but she did not altogether understand her half-cordial, half-joking manner. She was rather glad that she was to go to her French class alone. She had told Muriel not to bother. She could find the classroom by herself.

As she clicked down the short, left-hand, third floor corridor, she saw just ahead of her a little blue-clad figure passing through the very doorway for which she was making. An instant and she too had entered the room. She stared about her, then walked to a seat directly opposite to the one now occupied by the girl that looked like Mary. For a brief moment the girl eyed Marjorie indifferently, then something in the scrutiny of the other girl evidently annoyed her. She drew her straight dark brows together in a displeased frown, and deliberately turned her face away.

By this time perhaps a dozen girls had entered, and, as the clang of the third bell echoed through the school, an alert little man with a thin, sensitive face and timid brown eyes, bustled into the room and carefully closed the door. Hardly had he taken his hand from the knob when the door was flung open, this time to admit a sharp-featured girl with bright, dark eyes and a cruel, thin-lipped mouth. Smiling maliciously, she swung the door shut with an echoing bang. The meek little professor looked reproachfully at the offender, who did not even appear to see him.

"The Evil Genius," recognized Marjorie. Her eyes strayed furtively toward the Mary girl, who had not paid the slightest attention to this late arrival. "What a hateful person that black-eyed girl is," ran on Marjorie's thoughts. "I know it was she who made that nice girl cry the other day. I wish she wasn't quite so distant. The nice girl, I mean. Oh, dear. I forgot to go up to the professor's desk and register. That's his fault. He came in late. He'll see me in a minute and ask who I am."

To her extreme surprise, the little man paid no particular attention to her, but, opening his grammar, began the giving out of the next day's lesson. This he explained volubly and with many gestures. Marjorie's lips curved into a half smile as she compared this rather noisy instructor with Professor Rousseau, of Franklin. Later, when he called upon his pupils to recite, however, he was a different being. His politely sarcastic arraignment of those who floundered through the lessons, accompanied by certain ominous marks he placed after their names in a fat black book that lay on his desk, plainly showed that, despite his mild appearance, he was a force yet to be reckoned with.

"I hope he doesn't notice me until class is over," fidgeted Marjorie. "It surely must be time for that bell to ring." She began nervously to count those who were due to recite before her turn came. It would be so embarrassing to do her explaining before this group of strange girls, particularly before the Evil Genius. Ah, she had begun to read! And how beautifully she read French! The critical professor was listening to the smooth flow of words that tripped from her tongue with approbation written on every feature. "She must have studied French before," speculated Marjorie, as the professor directed the next girl to go on with the exercise; "or else she is French. I believe she is. Oh, dear, only two more girls."

Clang! sounded the bell.

"Thank goodness," breathed the relieved freshman.

There was a general closing of books. "To-morrow I shall geev you a wreetten test," warned Professor Fontaine. Then the second bell rang, and the class filed out of the room.

"Eet ees not strange that I haf overlooked you, Mademoiselle," explained Professor Fontaine five minutes later, after listening to Marjorie's apology for not presenting herself to him before class. "The freshmen like to make so many alterations in their programs. They haf soch good excuses for changeeng classes, but, sometimes, too, they do not tell me. Eet maks exasperation." He waved his hands comprehensively. "I am pleased," he added, with true French courtesy, "to haf another pupil. Ees eet that you like the French, Mademoiselle Dean?"

"It is a beautiful language, Professor Fontaine," Marjorie assured him. "I have only begun learning it, but I like it so much."

"C'est vrai," murmured the delighted professor. "La Francais est une belle langue. If, then, you like it, you weel study your lessons, n'est pas?"

"I'll try very hard to make good recitations. I will bring my books to-morrow. We used the same grammar at Franklin High School."

Marjorie hastened back to the study hall to find it empty. The clock on the north wall pointed significant hands to ten minutes past twelve. The Picture Girl had said that she wished Marjorie to meet her friends, but she was not waiting. It was disappointing, but her own fault, thought the lonely freshman as she left the study hall and went slowly downstairs to the locker room. She gave an impatient sigh as she pinned on her hat. Exploring new territory wasn't half so interesting as she could wish. Then a light footstep sounded at her side. A dignified little voice said, stiffly, "Will you please allow me to get my hat?"

Marjorie whirled about in amazement. Could she believe her eyes? The voice belonged to the Mary girl; they were to share the same locker.



CHAPTER VI

THE PLEDGE

"Oh, I am so glad we are to have a locker together!" exclaimed Marjorie, impulsively. "I've been very anxious to know you. I really owe you an apology. I spoke to you in the street the other day. I don't know what you thought of me, but you look so much like my dearest chum in B—— that I called to you before I realized what I was doing."

The other girl regarded Marjorie with the suspicious, uneasy eyes of a cornered animal. Then, without answering, she reached for her hat and was about to go silently on her way, when something in Marjorie's gracious words seemed to touch her and she said, grudgingly, "I remember you."

"That's nice," beamed Marjorie. "I was afraid you wouldn't. Let me tell you about my chum." She launched forth in an enthusiastic description of Mary Raymond and of their long friendship. "I wrote Mary about having seen a girl that looked like her. She will be very curious to see you. She's coming to visit me some time during the year. So I hope you and I will be friends. But I haven't even told you who I am. My name is Marjorie Dean. Won't you please tell me yours?" She offered her hand winningly, but the strange, self-contained young girl ignored it.

"My name is Constance Stevens." Her voice was coldly reluctant, carrying with it an unmistakable rebuff.

Marjorie drew back, puzzled and hurt. She was not used to having her friendly overtures rejected. The blue-eyed girl saw the shrinking movement, and, stirred by some hitherto unknown impulse, stretched forth her hand. "Please forgive me for being so rude," she said contritely. "It is awfully sweet in you to tell me about your chum and to say that you wish to be my friend. You are the first girl, who has been so nice with me since I came to Sanford. How I hate them!" Her expressive face darkened and her blue eyes became filled with brooding, sullen anger.

"Are you going home to luncheon now?" asked Marjorie, with a view toward keeping away from disagreeable subjects.

The other girl nodded, then, pinning on her hat, the two left the building. Marjorie wished to ask questions, but she did not know how to begin with this strange, moody girl. There were so many things to say. "Do you play basketball?" she asked, almost timidly, when they had traversed three blocks in silence.

Constance shook her head. "I don't even know the game, let alone trying to play it. Do you play?"

"Yes. I have played every position on the team. I was chosen for center of the freshman team at Franklin High just before I came here. One of the freshmen has asked me to go to the tryout on Friday."

The Mary girl looked wistfully at Marjorie. "I'm going to tell you something," she announced with finality. "Truly, it's for your own good. You mustn't try to be friends with me. If you do, you'll be sorry. We, my father and I, are nobodies in this town. Father's a broken-down musician who teaches the violin for a living. I've a little lame brother, and we take care of a poor old musician, who, people say, is crazy. He isn't, though. He's merely childish.

"People call us Bohemians and gypsies and even vagabonds. They don't understand that our greatest crime is just being poor. The girls in the freshman class make fun of me and call me a tramp and a beggar behind my back. One girl did try to be the least bit pleasant with me, but she soon stopped. We've been in Sanford only two months, but it seems like a hundred years. At first I was glad to think I was going to high school. How I hate it now! But they sha'n't drive me away. I'll get my education in spite of everything." Her lips drew together with resolute purpose.

"So, you see," her voice grew gentle, "you mustn't waste your time upon me. The girls won't like you if you do, and you don't know how dreadful it is to be left out of everything. Of course, you can speak to me, but——" She paused and looked eloquent meaning at Marjorie. Her late aloofness had quite vanished. Her small face was now soft and friendly, making the resemblance to happy-go-lucky Mary Raymond more apparent.

Marjorie laughed. Those who knew her best would have understood that her laughter meant defiance. "I don't choose my friends because they are rich or because others like them. I choose them because I want them myself," she declared with a proud lift of her head. "I knew that someone had been horrid to you the first day I ever saw you. I heard several girls talking of you afterward. At least, I think they were talking of you. I said to myself then that they had misjudged you. So I went home and wrote my letter to Mary. I told mother all about you, too, and that I was going to be your friend, if you would let me. I want you to come and see me and meet mother and father. As for the girls in the freshman class, I'd like to be friends with them, too, but I couldn't do anything so contemptible and unfair as to dislike a girl just because they thought they did. Now, you know what I think about it. Are we going to share our locker and our troubles and our pleasures?"

The tears flashed across Constance Stevens' eyes. Her hand slid into Marjorie's, and thus began a friendship between the two freshmen that was to defy time and change.

They separated on the next corner and, throwing dignity to the winds, Marjorie raced up the long walk and into the house to see if her captain was better.

"I came to report, Captain," she said gently as she tiptoed up to her mother's bed. "How are you, dear?"

"Better, Lieutenant," returned her mother, kissing the pretty, flushed face. "Now for the report."

"You are sure I won't make your head ache with my chatter?"

"No, dear; it is ever so much better now."

Marjorie went faithfully through with the events of the morning. "I had to stand by my colors, Captain. I wouldn't be fit to be a soldier if I didn't know how to stand fast. Just as though it makes any difference whether a girl is rich or poor if she's a dear and one likes her. How can some girls be so silly? They wouldn't be if they had Mary's and my military training. When in doubt ask your captain."

She laughed gaily, then her merry glance changed to one of dismay. "Good gracious! It's fifteen minutes to one. I'll have to eat my luncheon in a hurry." With a hasty kiss Marjorie flitted from the room and down the stairs to the dining-room.

After luncheon she lingered for a brief moment with her mother, then set off for the afternoon session of school. But she could not help wondering as she walked just how it would seem to be in the freshman class but not of it.



CHAPTER VII

THE WARNING

The afternoon session of school passed uneventfully for Marjorie. She had returned too late from luncheon to hold more than a few words of conversation with the Picture Girl. In spite of the watchful espionage of Miss Merton, whose eyes seemed riveted to her side of the room, Muriel managed to convey to Marjorie the news that the girls were dying to meet her and were so sorry they had missed her at noon.

"We waited for you more than ten minutes," Muriel whispered guardedly. "Mignon saw you stop at Professor Fontaine's desk. We knew what that meant. It always takes him forever to explain anything. Do you remember a black-haired, black-eyed girl in the French class this morning? She wore the sweetest brown crepe-de-chine dress. Well, that's Mignon La Salle. Her father is the richest man in Sanford. Mignon could go away to school if she liked, but she doesn't care about it. Tell you more later."

Muriel faced front with a sudden jerk that could mean but one thing. Marjorie cast a fleeting glance at Miss Merton. The teacher was frowning angrily, as though about to deliver a rebuke. Luckily for the two girls, the first recitation bell rang and they stood not upon the order of their going, but went with alacrity. Once outside the study-hall door they were safe.

"I don't know what ails Miss Merton," complained Muriel. "She has never said a word to me before. That's twice to-day she has shown her claws."

"She doesn't like me," said Marjorie, calmly, "and I don't like her. I think she is the rudest teacher I ever knew. It was I, not you that she meant that scolding for this morning."

"Nonsense!" scoffed Muriel. "She likes you as well as she likes the rest of us. I don't believe she is awfully, terribly, fearfully fond of girls. When she was young she must have been one of those stiff, prim goody-goodies; the distressingly snippy sort that made all her friends so tired." Muriel laughed softly.

Marjorie smiled at Muriel's unflattering description of Miss Merton's youth, then her face sobered. In her heart she knew that Miss Merton disliked her, and the knowledge was not pleasant. She made an earnest resolve to overcome the teacher's prejudice. She would make Miss Merton like her.

Muriel went with her as far as the door of the history room, which was in charge of Miss Atkins, a stout, middle-aged woman, who beamed amiably upon Marjorie, entered her name in the class register, motioned her to a front seat and promptly appeared to forget her existence. But though Miss Atkins exhibited small personal interest in her new pupil, such was not the case with regard to the subject which she taught. The lesson dealt with the coming of the Virginia colonists, their settlement in Jamestown and the final burning of the town. Miss Atkins' vivid description of the colonists' determined struggles to gain a foothold in the New World was well worth listening to. The reading of extracts from special reference books pertaining to that gallant expedition into the treacherous forests of an unknown, untried country made the lesson seem doubly interesting. When the recitation was over Marjorie went back to the study hall congratulating herself on the fact that she had not dropped history, and reflecting that no one would ever have suspected Miss Atkins of being so fascinating.

As she groped in her desk for her textbook on physiology, she looked about her for some sign of Constance Stevens. She recollected that she had not seen her in her seat when the afternoon session began. The moment her recitation in physiology was over she hastened to the locker room. No, her new friend's hat was not there. She had not returned to school after luncheon. Marjorie reached for her own hat, vaguely wondering what had happened to keep Constance away from school.

She stood meditatively poking her hatpins in and out of her hat, when the sound of footsteps on the stairs came to her ears. School was over for the day. She put on her hat in a hurry, took a swift peep at herself as she passed the one large mirror that hung at the end of the freshmen's lockers, and ran up the stairs. She would not disappoint Muriel's friends again.

This time she was first on the scene, standing on the identical spot where she had stood the day Constance rushed weeping past her. Why didn't her class come out? Surely she had heard their footsteps on the stairs. But it was fully five minutes before the stream of girls began to issue from the big doors. Then Muriel appeared, surrounded by her friends, and in another instant the girl with the dimples, the fair-haired girl, the stout girl and the Evil Genius were, with varying degrees of friendliness, telling Marjorie Dean that they were glad to meet her.

Susan Atwell said so frankly with a delightful show of dimples. Irma Linton looked the acme of gentle friendliness. Geraldine Macy's face wore an expression of open admiration. Mignon La Salle's greeting, however, was distinctly reserved. To be sure, she smiled; but Muriel, who had been furtively watching her, knew that the French girl was not pleased with the idea of admitting another girl to their fellowship.

"The rest of the girls like her," thought Muriel. "Mignon will find she'll have to give in this time." Purposely, to make sure she was right, she said boldly: "Miss Dean, will you go to the basketball tryout with us on Friday afternoon?"

"Yes, do," urged Geraldine Macy, eagerly.

"We'd love to have you," came from Susan Atwell. "We understand that you are a star player."

"Of course you must," smiled Irma Linton.

The French girl alone hesitated. Her eyes roved speculatively from one face to another, then she said suavely, "Come by all means, Miss Dean. It will be quite interesting."

"Thank you. I shall be pleased to go with you." Marjorie ignored Mignon's slight hesitation, although she had noted it. "I wonder if you are all as fond of basketball as I," she went on quickly. "It's a splendid game, isn't it?"

Her new acquaintances answered with emphasis that it was certainly a great game, and, the ice now broken, they began to ply their new acquaintance with questions. How did she like Sanford? Did it seem strange to her after a big city high school? What subjects had she selected? Had she met any other girls besides themselves?

Marjorie answered them readily enough. She was glad to be one of a crowd of girls again.

"Have you met any other girls?" asked Geraldine Macy, abruptly.

"I met a Miss Seymour before I had even gone as far as Miss Archer's office. She is a delightful girl, isn't she?"

No one of the five girls made answer. The little freshman regarded them perplexedly.

"Mm!" ejaculated Muriel Harding. "You wouldn't think her quite so nice if you knew as much about her as we do. Wait until you see her play basketball. She plays center on the sophomore team, and she makes some very peculiar plays. She's always creating trouble, too. She and some of her sophomore friends seem to have a particular grudge against Mignon. They are forever criticising her playing. They have even gone so far as to say that we don't play fairly; that we are tricky. The idea!" Muriel looked highly offended at the mere idea of any such thing.

Marjorie listened without comment. Muriel's ready tirade against the pleasant-faced sophomore who had willingly offered her services that morning made her feel decidedly uncomfortable. Then Miss Seymour's straightforward speech to Miss Archer came back to her. The sophomore had been generous to her enemies, if they were enemies, in that she had refused to mention any names. Marjorie wondered if Muriel or Mignon would be equally generous in the same circumstances. She resolved to say nothing of what she had been privileged to hear. It was not hers to tell.

Suddenly she divined, rather than saw, Mignon's elfish eyes fixed upon her. "You met another girl, at noon, did you not, Miss Dean?" asked the French girl, with an almost sarcastic inflection.

"Yes; Miss Stevens," was the composed answer. "We share the same locker. She is a nice girl, too, and I like her very much, so, please, don't say anything against her," she ended, in half-smiling warning.

Mignon La Salle's face grew dark. She recognized the challenging note in the new girl's tone. Muriel, too, frowned. Susan Atwell sidled up to Mignon, Irma Linton looked distressed and Geraldine Macy calmly curious as to what would come next. It came in the way of a small tempest, for the French girl lost her temper over Marjorie's retort.

She stamped her foot in childish rage, saying vehemently: "She is a nobody, that Stevens person, and her family are vagabonds. You will make a great mistake if you choose her for your friend." Then, her rage receding as suddenly as it had come, she shrugged her shoulders deprecatingly. "Pardonnez moi." She bowed to Marjorie. "I spoke too strongly. It is not for me to choose Miss Dean's friends." Slipping her arm through Muriel's, she drew her ahead of the others. Susan Atwell took a hurried step forward and caught her other arm, leaving Marjorie to walk between Irma and Geraldine.

"Don't mind her," said Jerry, in a low voice. "She has it in for that Miss Stevens. She, the Stevens girl, did something, no one knows what, to make Mignon angry with her. Mignon says Miss Stevens talked about her and Muriel and Susan believed it, but Irma and I are not so silly."

Two blocks further on Marjorie bade good-bye to the five girls. She said it without enthusiasm. Their carping, quarrelsome attitude had taken all the pleasure from knowing them. She made mental exception in favor of Irma and Jerry. The gentleness of the one and the sturdy, outspoken manner of the other had impressed her favorably. But she was sorely disappointed in Muriel.

Should she tell her mother of the disagreeable ending of her first day? She decided not to do so. She would carry nothing save pleasant tales to her captain to-day. And so that night, when she entered the living-room and found her mother, in a becoming negligee, occupying the wide leather couch by the window, she saluted, like a dutiful soldier, and included in her report only the pleasant happenings of her first, never-to-be-forgotten day in Sanford High School.



CHAPTER VIII

STANDING BY HER COLORS

When Marjorie took her seat in the study hall the next morning, Muriel's greeting was as affable as it had been before the disagreement of the previous afternoon. She even went so far as to whisper, "Don't take Mignon too seriously. She is really dreadfully hurt over the unkind things Miss Stevens has said of her."

Marjorie listened in polite silence to the Picture Girl's rather lame apology in behalf of her friend. She could think of nothing to say. Muriel had turned about in her seat, her eyes fixed expectantly upon the other girl. But just then came an unexpected interruption.

"Miss Dean," shrilled Miss Merton's high, querulous voice, "who gave you permission to leave school before the regular hour of dismissal yesterday afternoon?"

"I did not——" began the astonished girl.

"Young woman, do you mean to contradict me?" thundered Miss Merton.

Marjorie had now risen to her feet. Her pretty face had turned very white, her brown eyes gleamed like two angry flames. "I had no intention of contradicting you, Miss Merton." Her low, steady tones were full of repressed indignation. "What I had begun to say was that I did not know I was expected to return to the study hall after my last class. In the high school which I attended in B—— we went from our last class to our locker rooms. It is, of course, my fault. I should have inquired about it beforehand." The freshman quietly resumed her seat.

Every pair of eyes in the room was turned upon Marjorie.

Miss Merton, however, had no intention of letting her off so easily. "The rules and regulations of another high school do not, in the least, interest me, Miss Dean," she said, with biting sarcasm. "It is my business to see that the rules of Sanford High School are enforced, and I propose to do it. You have been a pupil in this school for only one day, yet I have been obliged to reprimand you on two different occasions. If you annoy me further I shall consider myself fully justified in sending you to Miss Archer."

The ringing of the first recitation bell put an end to the little scene. Marjorie rose from her seat and marched from the study hall, her head held high. If Miss Merton expected her to break down and cry she would find herself sadly mistaken. Muriel overtook her in the corridor. "My, but Miss Merton hates you!" she commented cheerfully, as though enjoying her classmate's discomfiture.

Marjorie made no reply. Her proud spirit was too deeply crushed for words. She went through her recitation in English that morning like one in a dream. Several times during her French hour she gazed appealingly at Constance, but the Mary girl kept her fair head turned resolutely away. She did not appear at her locker either at noon or after school was over, although Marjorie lingered, in the hope that she would come.

So successfully did she manage to steer clear of Marjorie, who was too proud to make advances in the face of Constance's marked avoidance, that, when Friday came and the afternoon session was over, Marjorie was escorted to the gymnasium by the Picture Girl and her friends, who, even to Mignon, believed that the newcomer had been wise and taken their brusque advice.

At least half of the freshman class had elected to try for a place on the team. Miss Randall, the instructor in gymnastics, and several seniors had been chosen to pick the team, and when the six girls arrived on the scene the testing had begun. Mignon La Salle was the first of their group to play. Her almost marvelous agility, her quick, catlike springs and her fleetness of foot called forth unstinted praise from Marjorie. Muriel, too, played a skilful game; so did Susan Atwell. When Marjorie was called upon to play left guard on a team composed of the last lot of aspirants for basketball honors, she advanced to her position rather nervously. Muriel, Mignon, Susan Atwell and two freshmen, whom she did not know, were to oppose her. She wondered if she could play fast enough to keep up with her clever opponents. Then, as she caught the French girl's elfish eyes fixed upon her, mocking incredulity in their depths, she rallied her doubting spirit and resolved to outplay even Mignon.

Fifteen minutes later Marjorie Dean had been chosen to play left guard on a team of which Mignon was center, Muriel, right guard, Susan Atwell, right forward, and a freshman named Harriet Delaney, left forward. Muriel had also been made captain, and several girls were chosen as substitutes.

"Hurrah for the new team!" cried Muriel Harding. "Let's call ourselves the Invincibles. You certainly can play basketball, Miss Dean. How lucky in you to come to Sanford just when we need you. By the way, 'Miss Dean' is too formal. Please let us call you Marjorie. You can call us by our first names. What's the use of so much formality among team-mates?"

Being merely a very human young girl, Marjorie could not help feeling a little bit pleased with herself. She was glad she had played so well. She felt that she had really begun to like her new associates very much. Even Mignon must have her good points; and how wonderfully well she played basketball! Perhaps Constance Stevens had been just a little bit at fault. Certainly she had acted very queerly after that first day when they had pledged their friendship. Had she, Marjorie, been wise to avow unswerving loyalty to a stranger, and all because she looked like Mary Raymond? Marjorie's disquieting reflections were interrupted by something the French girl was saying.

"It was too funny for anything, wasn't it, Muriel?" Mignon laughed with gleeful malice.

"Yes," nodded Muriel. "We gave the sophomores a bad scare."

"What did you do?" asked Irma Linton, curiously.

Seeing that she had the attention of her audience, the French girl began.

"You remember the practice game we played against the sophomores last week? According to my way of thinking, the sophomores played a very rough game. I complained to Miss Seymour, their captain. She laughed at me," Mignon scowled at the remembrance, "so I decided to teach her a lesson."

"I told Muriel about it, and between us we made up a dialogue. It was all about the sophomores' unfair playing, and how surprised they would be when they found themselves forbidden to play basketball. Then we managed to walk out of school behind two girls that always tell everything they know, and recited our dialogue. The next morning Muriel saw one of the girls talking to Miss Seymour for all she was worth, so we know that she faithfully repeated everything she heard. Miss Seymour wouldn't dare go to Miss Archer with it for fear Miss Archer would ask too many questions. You know Miss Archer said last year when Inez Chester made such a fuss about her sprained wrist that if ever again one team reported another for rough playing she would disband the accused team and have Miss Randall select a new one. So I imagine we gave our friends the sophs something to think about."

"But who told you the sophomores would be forbidden to play?" demanded candid Jerry.

"No one told us, silly," retorted Muriel, her color rising. "We simply said they would be surprised when they found themselves forbidden to play. 'When' may mean next week or next month, or next year or century, or any other time. We were only talking for their general edification."

"Then nobody actually said a word about it?" persisted Jerry. "You just made up all that stuff?"

"It didn't do any hurt," began Muriel. "We thought——"

"Don't be such a prig, Jerry," put in Mignon, impatiently. "It isn't half so wicked to play a joke on those stupid sophomores as it is to ask one's mother for money for a fountain pen, and then use the money for candy and ice cream."

There was a chorus of giggles from the girls, in which Jerry did not join. She was eyeing Mignon steadily. "See here, Mignon," she said with offended dignity. "I just want you to know that I told my mother about that money that very same night. I may have my faults, but I certainly don't tell things that aren't true." Jerry punctuated this pertinent speech with emphatic nods of her head, and, having said her say, walked on a little ahead of her friends, the picture of belligerence.

"Now, you've made Jerry angry, Mignon," laughed Susan Atwell.

Mignon merely lifted her thin shoulders. "I can't please every one. If I did, I should never please myself."

"I don't know what ails Jerry all of a sudden," commented Muriel to Marjorie. "She isn't usually so—so funny."

Again Marjorie kept her own counsel. She, alone, knew that the object of the rumor which Muriel and Mignon had started had failed. Ellen Seymour had gone frankly to headquarters with it, and Miss Archer had asked no questions. Marjorie wondered what these girls would say if they knew the truth. She did not like to criticize them, but were they truly honorable? For a moment she wished she had refused to play on the team with them. Muriel and Mignon, in particular, seemed so careless of other people's feelings.

Her sympathies were with Jerry, and quickening her pace she slipped her arm through that of the fat girl, saying, "Don't you think to-morrow's algebra lesson is hard?"

Jerry viewed her companion's smiling face rather sulkily. Then succumbing to the other's charm, she said in a mollified tone: "Of course it's hard. They're all hard. I know I shall never pass in algebra."

"Oh, yes, you will," was Marjorie's cheerful assurance. "It's my hardest study, too; but I'm going to pass my final examination in it. I've simply made up my mind that I must do it."

"Then I'll make up my mind to pass, too," announced Jerry, inspired by Marjorie's determined tones. "And, say, it would be splendid if we could do our lessons together sometimes. My mother likes me to bring my school friends home."

"So does mine," returned Marjorie, cordially. "She says home is the place for me to entertain my schoolmates. I hope you will come to see me soon. It's your turn first, you know. Oh, please pardon me a moment, I must speak to this girl!" The cause of this sudden exclamation was a young woman in a well-worn blue suit who was coming across the street directly ahead of them.

"Oh, Constance!" hailed Marjorie, "I have been looking for you. Stop a minute!" Marjorie stood waiting for her friend with eager face and outstretched hand. By this time the four other girls had come abreast of the trio and had passed them, Irma Linton being the only one of them who bowed to Constance. Jerry stood beside Marjorie for an instant, then walked on and overtook her chums.

"Please don't stop," begged Constance, her face expressing the liveliest worry. "Really, you mustn't try to be friends with me. I wish to take back my part of our compact. You've been chosen to play on the team, and those girls seem to like you. I can't stand in your way, and my friendship won't be worth anything to you, so just let's forget all we said the other day."

Marjorie stared hard at the other girl, the pathetic droop of whose lips looked for all the world like Mary's when things went wrong. "You don't mean that, and I won't give you up," she said with fine stubbornness. "I haven't time to talk about it now. I must catch up with those girls. Wait for me at our locker to-morrow noon, please, please."

With a hasty squeeze of Constance's hand, Marjorie raced on up the street to overtake her companions. They were so busily engaged in discussing her, however, that they did not hear her approach, and consequently did not lower their voices.

"I will not speak to her; I will not play with her on the team!" she heard Mignon La Salle sputter angrily.

"We certainly don't care to bother with her if she's going to take up with all sorts of low people." This loftily from Muriel, who was afraid to cross the French girl.

"My mother told me never to speak to any of those crazy Stevens persons," added Susan Atwell, with a toss of her curly head. "I don't care so very much for this Dean girl, either."

"Oh, you make me tired, the whole lot of you," cried Jerry, with angry contempt. "Marjorie Dean is nicer than all of you put together, and if she likes that little white-faced Stevens girl, then the girl is all right, even if her family were ragpickers. I'm ashamed of myself for being so silly as to listen to any of Mignon's complaints against her. You can do as you like, but if it's a case of being your friend or Marjorie's, then I guess I'd rather be hers."

"Thank you, Geraldine." Marjorie's quiet voice caused the party to turn, then exchange sheepish glances. "I don't wish you to quarrel over me," she went on. "I should like to be friends with all of you, but none of you can choose my friends for me any more than I can choose yours for you."

"You can't chum with us and be the friend of that Miss Stevens," muttered Mignon. "She is my enemy. Do you understand?"

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