E-text prepared by Al Haines
MISS PAT AT SCHOOL
Frontispiece by the Author
[Frontispiece: PATRICIA TOILED ALL AFTERNOON WITH THE ARDOR OF IGNORANCE AND HOPE.]
Philadelphia The John C. Winston Company Publishers
Copyright, 1915, by The John C. Winston Company.
I. THE TWO NEW STUDENTS II. GETTING ACQUAINTED III. ANTICIPATION IV. THE INITIATIONS V. THE GHOST DANCE VI. AFTERMATH VII. DAVID'S TREAT VIII. SMOOTH WATERS IX. THE ACADEMY BALL X. THE PRIZE DESIGNS XI. THE LITTLE RIFT XII. JUDITH'S DISCOVERY XIII. RESTITUTION XIV. NEW QUARTERS AND OLD FRIENDS XV. AFTERNOON TEA XVI. APRIL SHOWERS XVII. FAREWELL TO THE STUDIO
Miss Pat at School
THE TWO NEW STUDENTS
"Isn't it jolly—to be here in a real Academy of Fine Arts, just like all the famous artists when they were young and unknown? Doesn't it make you feel all excited and quivery, Norn?" asked Patricia, as she fitted her key into the narrow gray locker with an air of huge enjoyment. "I don't see how you can look so cool. You are as calm and refrigerated as a piece of the North Pole."
Elinor smiled and her shining eyes traveled down the wide dim corridor with its rows of battered gray lockers, past the confusion of chairs and easels that clustered around the big screen of the composition room, straight into the farthest nook of the great bare work rooms beyond, where an array of heroic-sized white casts loomed conspicuous in the cold north light above the clutter of easels, stools and drawing-boards that encompassed the silent, intent workers.
"I'm not half so calm as I look, Miss Pat," she said, seriously. "I'm more excited than I ever was in my life. It's too deep to come to the surface, I guess. I haven't any words for it."
Patricia nodded approval.
"That's your 'sensitive, artistic temperament,' as Mrs. Hand calls it. It must be awfully trying, though, not to be able to babble when you're pleased. It's such a relief to get it out of your system. I'd simply burst if I tried to keep quiet when I felt excited."
Elinor smiled absently, and then burst out fervently, "Isn't it all gloriously workmanlike—the bare walls and smudged doors and the painty smell, too? It's so serious. Outside, the people regard a picture as a mere luxury, but in here, here," she said, exultantly, "it is absolutely the necessary thing in life."
Patricia shut her door with a snap and turned to her sister with a glowing face, sweeping her stray tendrils back with an eager gesture.
"I know it!" she cried. "It makes even me feel as though I could turn off masterpieces instanter. Merely to look at those lumps of clay in the modeling room made me simply ache to get my hands into them. I was enchanted the moment I came in here with you this morning, never dreaming that I should be so lucky as to be one of the illustrious band myself. You're a perfect duck, Norn, to let me tag along after you here."
"You might as well do that as anything else," said Elinor, rather absently. "The best of it is that we shall be together. It will be such fun to see how we each get along."
"'We!'" echoed Patricia. "You mean how you get along. I shan't count at all. I may have to give up when I actually get at it." Then with a swift change of spirit she added: "All the same, if I couldn't do better than some of those smudgy celebrities in the modeling room were doing, I'd feel pretty sorry for myself. Such forlorn, lop-sided caricatures of human beings I never saw. I don't see how they can do them."
Elinor's soft laugh rippled out. "It's clear that you haven't tried to do it, or you'd see how easy it is to make caricatures instead of portraits," she said. "I didn't think they were so very bad."
"I'd be ashamed to have anyone see them if I'd done them," declared Patricia, unconvinced. "They seemed quite cocky over them, poor idiots. I hope some of them do better than that, or I shan't learn much."
"It would be wonderful if you did make a success of it," said Elinor, beginning to put her newly acquired implements into her locker. "How surprised Bruce will be that you are studying here, too."
"Don't tell him, for the world!" cried Patricia, her brow wrinkling at the thought of that noted artist's surprise. "I shouldn't have dared to take the course if he was ever to see anything I did! I'm only going into it for fun, and I shouldn't have dreamed of doing it if it hadn't been the cheapest course in the whole school. You know I shouldn't have, Elinor dear, so please don't tell."
Elinor gave her a reassuring squeeze. "Don't be afraid, Miss Pat. I won't give away your dark secrets to anyone till you want me to. You'll tell David, won't you?"
Patricia pondered a moment. "I don't believe I'll tell anyone until I see what I can do," she decided. "I'd love to surprise Francis Edward David Carson Kendall, otherwise known as Frad, but I'll wait till I know whether it is to be the sort of surprise he'd welcome before I spring it on him. He wouldn't appreciate a hideous fizzle, like some of those we saw, and I'd hate to inflict a newly discovered twin brother with anything of that sort myself."
"I don't believe Fra—David would be very critical; he's so good natured," said Elinor. "Isn't it hard to get used to him as our brother, after knowing him as David Carson for a whole summer? I can't ever feel sure of what is his right name now. We knew him as David Carson for so long, and now that he wants to be called by his real name, I simply get more twisted all the time."
"That's why I call him Frad," said Patricia, with a twinkle. "Combines the whole and is entirely original, and so suited to his situation. I don't think he ought to drop all the Carson name, particularly while we're all living comfortably on the Carson money. It seems sort of ungrateful to me."
"But you know Mrs. Carson always wanted him to take his own name if he ever found it," said Elinor, closing her locker and dropping the key into her bag.
"Well, he's dear with any name, and I'm glad Judy discovered him when she did, money or no money," said Patricia seriously. "He was so disappointed when Madam Blitz said my voice needed another year to grow in, that I'm awfully glad I've hit on something to do that will fill in the time, and keep me learning. That's really the great thing, isn't it, after all?"
As she spoke a gong sounded from beyond the closed door of a nearby class room; there was sound of movement and subdued voices, then the door swung grudgingly and a number of students of various ages with smudged hands and soiled aprons came straggling out into the dim corridor, laden with canvases and drawings to be stowed in the long line of lockers that stretched on either side of the hallway.
Elinor looked at them with a little quick sigh of excited envy.
"They are all so used to it," she said, with a note of humility in her sweet voice. "They make me feel so green!"
"Poof! You needn't care," said Patricia, breezily. "If Bruce Haydon says you can draw, you shouldn't mind a lot of sloppy students. Wait till you've been here a month—you'll be rearing your crest as high as any."
Elinor shook her head. "To tell the truth, Miss Pat dear, I almost wish Bruce hadn't gotten me into the life and portrait classes without the regular term in the antique rooms. I shouldn't feel half so shivery about going in there and drawing from those big casts, for I know they are all more or less beginners there."
"Stuff!" protested Patricia stoutly. "You know you've been simply crazy to get here. Why spoil it all by squibbling? I think it's perfectly gorgeous. I'm wild to begin myself, and I'm about as green as any old shamrock. Besides, it's a mighty poor way to show your gratitude to Bruce for putting you right slap into the highest classes without slaving your life out for years, perhaps. I'll tell him——"
"Indeed, you'll do no such thing!" cried Elinor, the color rushing to her cheeks and her authority as eldest sister asserting itself promptly. "I don't intend that Bruce shall hear a word until I've had my first good criticism."
Patricia smiled to herself at the effect of her ruse. "All right. I'll be good," she promised. "Now, to come down to earth again—where are we going to feed? I wish we could find the lunch room. It would be such fun to look our future classmates over while we browse."
"I think it's in the basement," said Elinor dubiously, "but I don't believe we can buy things there. We'd have to go out, anyway, I'm afraid."
A blue-aproned girl who had been packing her materials in an adjoining locker turned civilly.
"Are you speaking about the lunch room?" she asked in a pleasant contralto voice. "I can show you where it is, but you'll have to bring your lunch with you. There are gas stoves to cook on in the back room, and tables and chairs in the front one, if you're not too late to get a place."
Elinor thanked her cordially, while Patricia almost dislocated her neck trying to get a glimpse of the big canvas that protruded from the locker while still keeping far enough behind Elinor for her curiosity to pass unnoticed.
"It is down a little iron stairway behind that screen," said the girl, tucking a paper parcel into the capacious pocket of her blue jean paint dress, "and it's only for girls. The men have one on the other side of the building. Come down as soon as you can, for it's fearfully crowded later on."
Patricia watched her disappear behind the big screen of the composition room, and then she turned excitedly to Elinor.
"Isn't she nice?" she asked admiringly. "She's so cock-sure of herself and so calm about it. I like the way her eyebrows meet over her haughty nose, and that superior kink in her nice, crinkly lips. I know she's going to be worth while when we know her."
"For goodness' sake, don't be jumping into admirations wholesale, Miss Pat, darling," said Elinor, gently pulling Patricia's arm through hers as they passed into the narrow entrance to the dressing room. "Don't rush at it so, ducky. You can't know the right people at once, and it saves a lot of bother not to get too familiar with the wrong ones."
"Just as you say, Miss Solomon," rippled Patricia, too happy to be depressed by anything. "I'll be as frigid as you like, and if any of these frivolous young things try to scrape an acquaintance with me, I'll snub them good and hard."
She lowered her voice as two newcomers entered—one a slender, faded young woman with near-sighted pale eyes, and the other a blond girl with a dazzling skin and glorious shimmering hair wound around a shapely head. Both were in aprons, but the younger wore a dull green that set off her fair beauty to perfection, while the checked gingham of the other proclaimed a hopelessly downright taste.
Patricia, at the mirror, paused in the act of pinning on her hat, her eyes riveted on the vision in dull green.
"Isn't she lovely?" she demanded in a thrilling whisper of Elinor, who had slipped into her things and was already at the door.
The girl unmistakably caught the words, for she turned a brilliant, measuring, half-approving look on her while she slowly began to divest herself of the alluring green apron. She was so evidently used to admiration that her smooth cheek showed no change of color, though the panic red of swift confusion flamed on Patricia's bright face.
Pinning on her hat hastily, she fled after Elinor, feeling that she must seem most inexperienced and childish in the eyes of this fascinating creature who at once had eclipsed all previous claimants to her admiration.
"I wonder if she is in the modeling class?" she said as she caught up with Elinor in the composition room. "I don't suppose there's any such luck as that. She looks too clean——"
Elinor interrupted her with a little shake. "You hopeless little goose," she said, in laughing despair. "You've just promised me not to, and here you are it, hammer and tongs, under my very eyes."
"My word!" cried Patricia indignantly. "You don't mean I'm not to look at anyone! I can't even express a little tame approval without your accusing me of grabbing a new soul mate. You can't say she isn't simply ravishing, and just because she's alive instead of being a picture or statue or some such made-up thing, you want me to turn up my nose at her. I must say you are getting to be awfully extreme, Elinor Kendall. You'll want me to wear a muzzle next."
Elinor gave her a loving look, and Patricia, appropriating a corner of her big muff, gave her hand a surreptitious squeeze.
"I wish I could kiss you, you old angel," she said, irrelevantly. "Let's lay in our pemmican, and hustle back for a seat in the parquet circle. I'm dying to look them over and see who's who and what's what before I make any more breaks."
"Why, it's like a laundry," exclaimed Patricia in disappointment as she looked about her. The low-ceiled whitewashed apartment into which they had descended from the winding iron stair was sepulchrally bare and empty in the flicker of its noisy gas jets, the rusty gas stoves at its farther end emphasizing its general air of desolation.
Elinor glanced beyond, through the low doorway to the next room.
"Suppose we do without hot things today?" she proposed. "The tables look pretty full in there. We mightn't get a place if we delay too long."
"Suits me to a gnat's heel," declared Patricia eagerly. "Food is a secondary article, anyway, when it comes to character study. I'm not so keen on cookery since I sighted this tasteful apartment."
She followed Elinor into the larger room where a feeble daylight, filtering in through heavily grated basement windows, struggled with the flaring gas jets, and the odor of cocoa and bread and butter mingled with sachet and the fumes of turpentine and paint.
Elinor made her way over the mottled stone floor with as easy a grace as though it were a flowery turf, but Patricia, not so well schooled in concealing her feelings, made a wry mouth.
"If this is where the celebrities eat, I don't wonder they're smudgy," she said in an undertone, as they seated themselves at the last vacant table and spread their purchases on its discolored surface. "This doesn't strike me as being very appetizing."
"It's clean, anyway, Miss Pat," said Elinor, whose practiced eyes had been busy. "It looks soiled because the table-tops are old marble and the floor is mottled cement, but it is really clean, though I can't honestly say it is attractive on first sight."
"One gets used to anything in time," said Patricia airily. "You remember how Sally Lukes missed the doing of those five weekly washes after Johnny got prosperous enough to keep her in comfort. I reckon we'll be just like that after a while—can't eat without smudges on the table and paint-splotches on the dining-room walls."
Her eyes strayed about, resting on one group after another till they lighted with sudden interest.
"There she is," she said ardently. "You can't deny, Elinor, that she's terribly good to look at. Why, the very way she manipulates that frilly napkin reconciles me to my food. I declare I'm twice as hungry as I was before."
The girl certainly did make a charming and refreshing picture in her pretty gown, and with a dainty lunch covering the objectionable table. Opposite to her sat the drab young woman, silently eating while she read hurriedly from a technical magazine. The contrast between the two was so great that it made Elinor wonder.
"She must be unselfish and agreeable," she said, forgetting her momentary prejudice, "particularly when the other doesn't seem to appreciate her society very highly. I fancy that one isn't very diverting. I wonder why they are such chums."
"Relatives, perhaps," hazarded Patricia, reveling in Elinor's conversion. "I hope we get to know her soon, don't you, Norn? She must be awfully popular. See how they all turn when she passes. I'm sorry she's going, though, for I could simply feast my eyes on her for hours."
Their new acquaintance of the corridor stopped at their table as she, too, made her way out.
"I am going into the portrait class when I go up," she said, her dark-fringed eyes smiling frankly down on Elinor. "They tell me you are going to take your first plunge this afternoon. I'll be glad to show you about if you need any chaperoning."
Elinor's eyes met hers gratefully. "I'll be so glad to have you tell me what I should do," she said with relief and instant friendliness in her soft voice. "I'm just a beginner, you know. I've never been in a class in my life and I'm rather scared about it."
The lips that Patricia had designated as "nice and crinkly" widened in a bright smile that held no hint of hauteur.
"I'll be about in the corridor when you come up," she promised. "You don't need to feel that way about it. It's the simplest thing in the world—after you once get settled. You're in great luck to get into life and head classes without ever having gone to school before. I fancy you are a very special brand of genius to have such privileges."
Elinor blushed and shook her head.
"I studied with Bruce Haydon last summer," she said. "He got me in here."
"O—oh," responded the girl, her face suddenly alight. "That is splendid. You know he's the most severe critic we have, but we all adore his work." Then she added as an afterthought: "He's tremendously popular with the men. He studied here, you know."
Patricia opened her eyes wide. "Why, Bruce is the most amiable sort," she protested. "He'll simply eat out of your hand up at home. I didn't know he ever criticized here," she ended, rather suspiciously.
Elinor's new friend smiled good-naturedly. "He only drops in once in a while," she said. "He was here pretty often last month, but he hadn't been here before that for nearly four years, they said. He's abroad now, isn't he?"
Elinor told her that Bruce was in Italy, getting his studies for the Francais Society's panel of early Italian history.
"It must be jolly to know him out of the limelight," said the girl, seriously. "The girls were so crazy over him here that there wasn't a chance for a rational word with him, unless one were a man. He simply evaporated when he saw an apron."
Patricia laughed. "He's not so retiring in private," she declared, gayly. "He was one of our happy family for three months last summer and we never noticed any shyness; did we, Norn?"
Elinor reared her head with dignity. "He was very kind and friendly to us," she explained to their companion, "because he had been very much devoted to my aunt, who left us the house where we now live. He had no mother and Aunt Louise was very fond of him."
"Well, you're awfully in luck, however it is," replied the girl. "I'll see you in about fifteen minutes," and she nodded as she moved off, her dark hair gleaming in the mingled lights as she carried her small fine head proudly on her slender neck.
Patricia was about to make a comment when she suddenly turned and came back to them.
"I forgot to tell you my name," she said, holding out a strong, slender hand. "I am Margaret Howes, and I know you are Elinor Kendall, for I saw it on your locker. I don't know your sister's name—she is your sister, isn't she?"
Patricia was introduced, and Margaret Howes, with promises to meet them later, went off finally, and Patricia and Elinor set to work to dispose of their neglected lunch, enjoying their own comments on the assembled groups more than they did the cakes and fruit.
"Just look at that mournful creature." Patricia motioned with her eyebrows to the opposite side of the room, where a large, stout young woman in somber cloak and wide-plumed hat was eating her way through a chocolate eclair with just such an air of tragic and settled melancholy as one sometimes sees in a child whose grief is momentarily its most cherished possession.
"Isn't she the limit?" said Patricia in disdain. "She oughtn't to eat frivolous things like eclairs. I wonder at her lack of judgment."
"She isn't in mourning," said Elinor, making a discovery. "I wonder who she is. She's impressive enough to be the president of the board, and Bruce says that's the most important person in the place."
"She's rather too collap-y for my taste," volunteered Patricia, gathering up the remains of their repast. "I like the looks of lots of the others far better than hers. Let's ask Miss Margaret Howes about her. No doubt she can tell us what is her secret trouble."
They followed the general exodus upstairs, feeling more and more at home with every step.
"Isn't it funny how familiar that antique room looks?" said Patricia with enjoyment. "I feel quite like an old residenter already. By the time my clay comes I'll have the sensations of the oldest inhabitant."
Elinor was breathing fast as she swept the corridor with anxious glance.
"I hope Miss Howes doesn't forget," she said apprehensively. "I'd so much rather go into the class with her."
A girl sauntered past them as they loitered before their lockers.
"Looking for anyone?" she asked briskly, and hardly waiting for the answer, she raised her voice and called through the door of the next room:
"Hello, Howes! Here's someone looking for you!"
Patricia expected Margaret Howes as she emerged to show some surprise or annoyance at this summary mode of speech, but she was as serene and unconscious as ever.
"I'm busy, Griffin," she began, and then broke off as she saw the girls. "Oh, here you are," she said to Elinor. "I was looking for you in the modeling room."
The newcomer raised her pale eyebrows. "Absent-minded as ever, I see, Howes," she said with a whimsical sort of fondness in her peculiar voice. "Better run off to the head class before you forget where you're due."
She watched Margaret Howes and Elinor till they turned into the screened entrance to the portrait room; then she turned to Patricia with easy friendliness.
"You're fresh meat, aren't you?" she asked with a grin that widened her full mouth to a line. "When'd you come?"
Patricia gave her the brief outlines of her enrolment, and she nodded approvingly.
"Good stuff in the modeling room," she commented briskly. "But don't let old Bottle Green bulldoze you into thinking it's a deaf and dumb asylum or the vestibule to the morgue or any such sequestered spot. She's deadly dull, you know, and she almost faints if you whisper while the model is posing. She's monitor and I will say she enjoys the job."
"What does she do?" asked Patricia, delighted with the ease and candor of this speech. She felt sure this rickety, loose-jointed, pale-colored young woman was going to be worth while.
"As monitor, you mean?" responded the other, opening a locker near by and beginning to assemble her implements from a jumble of all sorts of odds and ends with which the locker was overflowing. "As merely monitor she sees that the models are posed, gets the numbers ready for us to draw when there is a new model, sees to it that we don't riot too loudly through the pose, takes any complaints we may have to make, to the powers above. But as guardian angel of the class, she soars far above our low conception of duty and propriety. Phew! Wait till you see her at it." Here her speech was lost while she delved head first into the welter.
Patricia occupied herself getting her tools from the convenient shelf on her own locker, hoping that the talk was not to end there.
Griffin emerged as suddenly as she had disappeared. "But it's the men that spoil her," she went on as though no interruption had occurred. "They're polite to her because she's so everlastingly gloomy. Same sort of politeness they'd show to a hearse, you know—respectful but not companionable."
Patricia gave an exclamation. "I believe I've seen her!" she cried. "She wears a long cloak and a hat with a big black plume, doesn't she? We noticed her at lunch and wondered what was the matter with her."
"Just a case of permanent glooms, if you ask me," replied Griffin airily. "She loves melancholy, though she is an awfully good sort, too. She gets on my nerves, though, she's so brittle."
Patricia puckered her brow inquiringly.
"Breaks a bone every time anyone looks hard at her," explained the other, shoving the protruding conglomeration of her locker inside and snapping the door quickly on it. "She's more bones than the average, and she breaks them regularly every time she learns the name of a new one. I think she oughtn't to be allowed in the dissecting room for any consideration. She's just out of splints now for a right arm fracture, and, believe me, she worked all the time with her left."
"How could she?" wondered Patricia, feeling awed by this devotion to art.
"She couldn't," grinned Griffin. "That's the point. She's so taken up with her pose as suffering martyr that she overlooks a trifle like good work. Heavens, there's the gong! I've kept you here gassing when I know you're crazy to get to work. Come along in, and I'll help you set up your stand before the model poses again."
Patricia followed her into the big, clay-soiled, dusty room, clutching her new smooth wooden tools with nervous fingers.
On the large revolving model stand in the center sat a dark, slender Russian-looking young man, indifferent to the group that with their tall-wheeled stands were circled about him. He sat with his narrow blue eyes sleepily fixed on the wall, regardless alike of the sturdy smocked men and slender boys in full blue-paint jackets, as of the equally silent and clayey girls and women that scrutinized him with earnestly squinting eyelids. The only creature in the room that seemed to evoke the slightest responsive flicker of intelligence was the black-robed, gray-aproned, redundant figure of the monitor.
Patricia's stand, with its heavy curved iron head-piece and some lengths of copper and lead wire, was waiting for her in the clay room, and together they wheeled it into the modeling room, where the gloomy Miss Green scanned them with kind but somber eyes, plainly regarding their entrance as an interruption.
"You've got to make butterflies of the wire-loops, you know, to hold the clay up, or it'll slump down off the iron headpiece soon as you get your head set up," explained her instructor in an agreeable tone. "It's easier to set up a head than a figure, I can tell you——"
"Miss Griffin!" came the dreary voice of the monitor, as with a fat and dimpled finger she pointed solemnly to the sign on the door, "No TALKING."
Griffin grinned amiably at the reproving finger. "Only the necessary instructions to a novice, Green dear," she protested smoothly. "I'm saving you the trouble of showing her how. You really ought to thank me instead of holding me up to scorn."
Miss Green, with a kindly glance at Patricia, puckered up her lips in the circle that only fat, soft-fleshed people can accomplish and laid the impartial finger on them as a sign that no more words were to be wasted, and the class, temporarily attentive to the newcomers, became absorbed again.
A heavy-shouldered dark man, whose workmanlike appearance was heightened by the torn and spotted linen apron he wore, came quietly over to Patricia, and, taking the wire from Miss Griffin's thin, nervous hands, silently and swiftly finished the work she had begun, while she, with a nod of acquiescence, went to her own stand and began to thump lumps of clay into shape about her own iron head-piece.
Patricia accepted the help as silently as it was offered, and when he brought her clay and, still mute, showed her how to block the rough clay into a semblance of a human head, she smiled at him with ready gratitude, not daring more for fear of the omnipotent Miss Green.
"How do you like it now?" asked Griffin, as the gong released them for the rest, and they slipped out in the corridor to look for Elinor.
"Perfectly fine and dandy!" cried Patricia, glowing. "My word, but that Miss Green is severe! I never heard such silence as in that room. Why, an ordinary schoolroom is a perfect Babel compared to it."
"You'll get used to old Bottle Green, all right," said Griffin reassuringly. "Her bark is a whole lot worse than her bite. She's a trump at heart, though she is awful fool on the outside."
Elinor was waiting for them, and Patricia could see that she was in a state of great agitation. She hurried to her, while her companion dropped behind to exchange notes with one of the men from the composition room.
"What is it, Norn? Didn't you get along all right?" she asked breathlessly.
Elinor dropped on a stool and raised her face to her sister, and Patricia was surprised to see that her eyes were shining with joy instead of tears.
"Oh, Miss Pat!" she cried in an ecstasy. "I've made good, and I can write to Bruce and tell him!"
"What, already?" exclaimed Patricia rapturously. "You duck! Tell me all about it instantly."
She swept Elinor off the stool, away from the crowded dressing room, and at last found a deserted corner behind a big cast.
"Now," she demanded, "tell me all about it, or I'll simply die of ingrowing curiosity."
Elinor rippled and dimpled in a surprisingly sparkling fashion as she recounted her experience in the portrait room, and Patricia, while she listened, marveled at the change in her placid sister.
"And so," concluded Elinor, "when I had just gotten ready to come out to see you, some more of them came over and looked at it. And one of them said, 'Dorset's right. It's a pace-maker all correct,' and then they brought some other men, and I left."
Patricia, greatly excited, patted her hard on the shoulder. "I told you you'd be a winner," she crowed. "I guess Bruce knew what he was talking about."
Elinor's face clouded. "But I have only started the outline," she confessed. "And I'm awfully weak on putting in the tones. I'm afraid I'll make a fizzle of it."
"See here," said Patricia, facing her severely. "I'm tired of your deceptive timidity. Just let someone else say you can't do it, and you'd feel mighty mad about it, but you're willing to scare me out of my feeble senses by croaking."
Elinor jumped up laughing, and hugged her. "I'll be as conceited as you like, if you'll stop scolding," she promised, gayly. "It doesn't look well to be too much under the thumb of a younger sister, even if she is a promising sculptor. By the way, how are you getting on? I hear that Miss Griffin is a wonderful worker. Did you see anything of her work?"
Patricia gave her a brief outline of the class and its chief characters, as far as she had observed, dwelling on Miss Green with great satisfaction.
"I know she's going to be a treat," she declared. "I hope she keeps whole for a while at least, until I get better acquainted."
"And do you know," she went on, "that the model is a Russian refugee, and he tried to kill himself because he was so homesick. He's just out of the hospital, and he has a great red scar across his breast. Isn't it exciting to be among such different sort of people? We've always been so sort of tabbified."
"We've had enough ups and downs, I am sure," said Elinor vaguely. It was evident that her mind was not on either their varied past nor even the fascinating present, but was busy with a future of progress and achievement.
"Wake up, old lady," cried Patricia. "There's the gong, and we must fly."
Patricia toiled all that afternoon with the ardor of ignorance and hope. The others looked at her with occasional interest, but otherwise paid little attention to her. In the rests she went out to visit Elinor, or Elinor came in to watch her progress. Her head fairly swam with the delightful novelty of this new and quick-flowing life. When the last gong rang she heard it with regret.
"It's better than I ever dreamed," she said to the amiable Griffin as she was showing her how to put the wet cloths about her work. "It's not half so hard as I thought it would be, either."
"Wait till Saturday, when old Jonesy lights on you," warned her new friend. "You won't find life so lightsome when his eagle eye discovers you."
"Pooh, I shan't mind how criss-cross he is," declared Patricia valiantly. "I'm only the rankest greenhorn, anyway. He can't expect me to be a Rodin."
She washed her tools in the grimy tanks of the clay room, more in love with it every minute, and when she joined Elinor at their lockers, she was fairly bursting with enthusiasm.
"It's simply heavenly, and I don't know how we got along without it!" she cried, rapturously. "It makes me wild to think of the months we've wasted this fall."
Elinor laughed her low ripple. "We didn't find Francis Edward David till the middle of December, and it's now the third week in January. I don't think we've let much grass grow under our feet."
"I wish this were the night for night life," said Patricia fervently. "I'd stay and watch you begin——"
"No, you wouldn't," said Elinor, promptly. "They don't allow other people in the life-class rooms. You'd have to go home and see that Judith was all right. We can't leave her too much to her own devices, even if she is the best little thing in the world."
"Bless her heart!" cried Patricia, with a laugh. "I'd clean forgot that I had any relatives in the world. It's a good thing I have you to keep me straight, Norn. Mercy, what a jam! I don't believe we'll ever get a place at the wash-stands."
The dressing room was crowded to its limit, paint brushes were being washed and stained hands scrubbed at the line of faucets that occupied two sides of the room; girls were hurrying into their street clothes, while others, coming in for the night life, were getting into aprons and paint dresses; some few who were staying for the night life were curled up on the wide couches, exchanging comments with their friends among the hurrying crowd while they refreshed themselves with crackers or cakes.
Patricia, with her cheeks glowing and twin lights dancing in her big eyes, loitered so over her dressing that they were among the last to leave.
"I hate to go, don't you?" she said, as they came out into the corridor, which was dimmer than ever in the sparsely lit twilight. "I love— Oh, how you made me jump!" she cried, starting back as a figure stepped from the alcove by the street entrance.
The girl, who was unknown to them both, addressed them impartially.
"The Committee on Initiation hereby notify you that your initiation will take place on Friday of this week, and you are instructed to produce the usual initiation fee, or answer to the committee for the failure."
Patricia gasped. "My word!" she cried. "They don't postpone things much around here, do they? What is the fee?"
"Three pounds of candy for the modeling and composition class, four for the head and illustration class, and five for the life," was the prompt response.
Patricia giggled. "You're in for it, Norn. You have to pony up for the head and the night life, too. I'm in luck to be in the mudpie department."
"What is the initiation itself?" asked Elinor, as the girl turned away.
"You'll find out when it happens," she replied, over her shoulder. "They never know themselves till the last moment. The day classes are tame—just a speech when you turn in your candy or some such mild diversion, but the night life is more sporting, and they may put you through a course of sprouts, but they're good-natured idiots on the whole. None of us are as outrageous as we seem."
Elinor looked after her thoughtfully.
"I hope they won't be too hard on me," she said slowly. "I'd be sorry to begin my term with anything that left the least bitter taste. Everything here is so free-spirited and high-minded that I want it to keep on being so for me always."
Patricia's eyes narrowed. "I believe I'll make my candy up in as attractive a way as I possibly can, and I'll spring it on them first thing, so they'll be in too good a humor to want to haze me very hard. Don't you think that might work for you, too?"
"Indeed I do," replied Elinor, heartily. "I'm getting an idea already, and if I can put it through, I don't believe the committee will have so much fun with me as they may think."
"What a pack of mail," said Judith.
It was Friday morning, and the three girls were the last in the dining-room. The sun was slanting brightly in over the table and fell across the pile of letters with a prophetic shimmer, making the little red and green patches of the stamps flame into gay prominence.
Patricia sorted them over rapidly before Elinor had reached the table.
"Here's one for you from Frad," she announced, "and one for me from Miss Jinny, and there are two for Judy from Rockham—looks like Mrs. Shelly and Hannah Ann, but I'm not sure—and the rest are only circulars. Atkins' Diablo Water and Bartine's Foreign Tours."
"I do wish they wouldn't send those circulars to us. They're so disappointing, for half the time they look like real letters," said Judith, reaching an eager hand for her own mail. "I think they ought to keep them for older people who don't care so much. Oh, it is Mrs. Shelly, Miss Pat," she broke off, as she tore open the first envelope and began eagerly to scan the sheets.
Patricia, absorbed in her own letter, merely grunted "Uh-huh" and turned the page. Then she burst out joyfully, "Well, of all people in the world! Listen, Norn. Miss Jinny is coming to town next week to stay four or five days, and she wants to know if we can get her a place here. Isn't that jolly!"
Elinor, who had lifted her eyes perfunctorily, gave real attention.
"How splendid!" she cried. "Now we'll have a chance to give back a few of the kindnesses she showered on us last summer. Of course we can find a place, and we won't let her come except as our guest, and we'll give her the very best sort of a time we can, to show how glad we are to have her here."
"If Mrs. Hudson hasn't any other room, she can have mine," said Judith promptly. "She never would let us make up for all those afternoons that she kept the library for us, and I'd love to be dreadfully uncomfortable if I could help make her comfortable."
Elinor laughed and patted the slender hand that pressed the table with such nervous force.
"I don't think Miss Jinny'd want any of us to suffer for her pleasure, Ju dear," she said gently. "I'm sure Mrs. Hudson has a good front room that we can get. I heard that Miss Snow had left and her room wasn't to be filled till next week; so we are just in the nick of time, you see."
"Isn't it lucky?" cried Patricia radiantly. "You'll see about it right away, won't you, Elinor? It has a splendid view of the park. I know she'll love that. You know how she hates 'bricks and mortar.'"
Elinor nodded, picking up her letter again. "You don't seem at all keen about David," she began, when Judith broke out excitedly, holding up her letter.
"Mrs. Shelly wants me to come with Miss Jinny and stay over Sunday. Please, please let me go, Elinor, for she says she'll get out all her old stories and letters, and we'll have a splendid time!"
Patricia and Elinor swept a swift, remembering glance at the pale, eager face, and the memory of that scene in the old bookroom at Greycroft, when Judith had the vision of her future, flashed into each mind. They had had no laughter then for Judith's prophecy of her literary career, and so now they had only instant sympathy with their little sister's enthusiasm.
"Of course you shall go, Ju dear," said Elinor, warmly. "It's sweet of Mrs. Shelly to ask you, and you'll have a lovely time in that dear little old-fashioned house with her and Miss Jinny."
"Won't it seem queer to you to be anywhere but at Greycroft, though?" mused Patricia, her eyes wide and absent. "Although we've only had the place not quite a year, I feel as though we'd always been there, and I can't imagine how it would seem to have to live anywhere else now."
"That's because it is the first real home you've known," said Elinor. "One always feels that way about a home."
Judith cocked her blond head thoughtfully.
"Don't you think it's the house, too?" she asked critically. "Some houses seem to be so alive and to belong to some people. Greycroft just fitted Aunt Louise, and when she left, it was lonesome till it found someone who liked the same things she did, and then it opened its eyes and waked up again. I don't believe it would be itself with Mrs. Hand in it, or even with the Halls, though they are so sweet and fine-mannered."
"Wise Judy," commended Patricia. "You've discovered half the secret. But here's Elinor, like patience on a monument, with David's letter in her lily-white paw. What does he say, Norn? Is he coming to town this month as he promised? Does he like Prep as well as he did——"
"Do let her read it to us," begged Judith. "You chatter so, Miss Pat, that no one can get a word in edgewise."
Patricia made a laughing face.
"Fire away, Scheherezade," she commanded, folding her arms in eager attention. "Unfold the tale of the letter of the long-lost twin brother of the three lovely sisters of——"
Judith, who had muffled the sparkling stream of Patricia's nonsense, drew her hand away with a little squeal.
"Ouch!" she cried reproachfully. "That's not fair. You bit."
"Not hard," Patricia reassured her gravely. "Just enough to turn you loose. 'Twas not so deep as a grave nor so wide as a church door, but it did answer. Go on, Elinor, love, it's getting late."
Judith had picked up the envelope and was examining the seal.
"Isn't the frat paper lovely?" she sighed. "I do hope I shall go to college—or else have a husband who belongs to a lot of——"
"Silence!" thumped Patricia.
Elinor, who had been quietly going on with her breakfast, laid down her fork.
"Read it for yourselves," she smiled, tossing the sheet across the table. "My time's about up. It's criticism morning in the portrait class, and I want to get a lot more done before Mr. Benton comes."
Patricia grabbed the sheet before Judith could set down her glass, and she read it aloud, with great enjoyment.
"'Dear Elinor'—begins well, doesn't it, Judy? I couldn't have done much better myself—'Tom Hughes and I are coming to town next Saturday, and we are going to blow ourselves, for his birthday.' Not very enlightening as to Tom Hughes—never heard of him before; but that's neither here nor there, of course."
"Do get on, Miss Pat," urged Judith, folding her napkin. "I've got to get to school sometime this morning, you know."
"Thus admonished, I return to the manuscript," said Patricia gravely. "Where is it? 'His birthday.' Oh, yes. 'Don't you three girls want to go to the matinee with us and have lunch at some swell joint? Write me at once if you can go. We will be in on the eleven-fifteen at the Terminal and have to leave on the 4.30. Yours,' et cetera and so on, and all that stuff. Hallelujah, good gentleman, what a lark!"
"I think you ought to use better language, Miss Pat, now that you are going to be a sculptor," said Judith severely, and then broke into open delight. "We'll go, won't we, Elinor? We wouldn't disappoint David, would we? On his birthday, too."
"It must be Tom Hughes' birthday," said Elinor. "But whose ever it is, we are going to celebrate, since we're invited. I'll write 'immejit,' as Hannah Ann says."
"But how do you know it isn't David's?" persisted Judith, as she gathered up her letters. "We never asked David when his birthday came, did we?"
Patricia rolled her eyes in mock agony.
"Did it occur to your massive mind that David Francis Edward had a twin sister with whom you were fairly well acquainted?" she asked in smooth and oily tones. "Twins, you know, have a quaint custom of celebrating their birthdays on the same date. Don't swoon, Infant; it is overpowering news, but you'll get over it in time."
Judith tossed her head, with a little giggle at her own expense.
"I forgot," she said. "I never can remember that you're both the same age. You are always saying that he is so young, Miss Pat."
"So he is," replied Patricia, promptly. "No end younger than I am; but boys are that way. Who's your other letter from, Ju?"
Judith's face assumed a smooth blankness that passed unnoticed by both Elinor and Patricia, now intent on finishing their breakfast and getting off.
"Hannah Ann just says that the house is all right and Henry is as well as usual," she replied, with an uneasy flush on her clear cheek.
"What in the world did Hannah Ann write to you for?" queried Elinor absently. "She usually sends her weekly reports to me."
"She's all right," repeated Judith, with an apprehensive glance at Patricia, who, however, was entirely oblivious, her attention now being wholly concentrated on her breakfast and Bartine's Tours.
"I must see Mrs. Hudson," said Elinor, rising. "I'll meet you at the Academy, Squibs. Have you your candy all done up? I shan't take my life-class stuff till this afternoon."
"But you've got to turn in the head-class fee this morning, you know," reminded Patricia, coming back from Italy with a jump. "I have my junk all ready, and I'll tell you when I'm going to spring it on them, so you can have a peep at the fun."
"And I won't forget to let you know just when I'm ready to give in mine, so we both can see how they take it," said Elinor from the door.
Patricia laughed as she too rose.
"I'll see to it that you don't forget, miss," she said gayly. "Good-bye, Judy; don't be late for lunch, for it's short and sweet with us real artists. We can't potter over our food like you idle Philistines, you know."
Judith gulped the last mouthful and flung down her napkin.
"I'll be there on time," she promised, eagerly. "Miss Hillis said I could go five minutes earlier, as it was a holiday afternoon. I'll get the rolls and oranges on my way."
"We'll meet you at the door on Charter Street," Elinor reminded her, as she kissed her. "Be sure to be there on time."
"I'll remember," laughed Judith, her anticipation of the delights of lunching at the Academy with grown-up artists shining in her starry eyes. "I'm perfectly crazy over it. I'm going to write all about it in my diary."
"Then we shall be handed down to fame!" cried Patricia, giving Judith a very hard squeeze and pinching her thin cheeks into color. "Look us over well, Judy-pudy, and see how much you can make of your two illustrious sisters; for I feel sure that I, for one, will never have a chance to be 'writ up' again."
"Oh, go along, Miss Pat! You'll be awfully late," said Judith, wriggling away, flushed and happy.
Patricia watched, flying up the stairs two steps at a time, and she turned to Elinor, with her hand on the door.
"Ju's a clever young monkey, in spite of her grannified airs," she said, warmly. "If we can only get some of the starch out of her by the time she's old enough to take notice, her dream of being a great writer may come half-way true."
"If she's going to be a writer, she'll drop her dignified pose soon enough," predicted Elinor easily. "She'll be too much interested in other people and things to remember herself too vividly."
"That's so," admitted Patricia readily. "You always hit the nail on the head, old lady. Now I must run. See you later," and closing the door behind her, she ran down the steps and hurried off through the tingling morning air, with her parcel tight under her arm and a kindling light on her mobile face.
"I do hope they like it and won't be too hard on me," she thought, as she hastened on. "It took a lot of trouble to make all the little figures, but if they'll only let me off from speechifying, I'll feel it was worth it."
There was no one in the modeling room but Naskowski, the silent, heavy-shouldered Slav who toiled early and late making up for his lost youth. Him Patricia held to be as impersonal as any of the other furnishings of the room, and she readily took him into her plan.
"Let's wheel all the stands into a circle around the model stand," she said briskly. "You see, I want them all to get them at once if I can work it. I'll put the figures in under the cloths, beside each head, so they won't show."
Naskowski slowly shook his head.
"They will approach at different times—not? It will be more better to place them during the first rest."
"But how can I?" insisted Patricia. "They don't all go out at the rests, you know."
He held up his finger.
"Listen," he said, impressively. "I make a figure that they all wish to see, but I have not shown him. Well, when I show him, at the rest, all, all go out to the clay room to see."
Patricia clapped her hands.
"And I stay in and slip the figures on the stands! How nice! It's awfully good of you." She broke off with a sudden clouding of her gayety. "But perhaps you don't really want them to see your figure? I couldn't have you——"
He interrupted her with an upheld hand.
"I was to exhibit it today, and I am pleased to be serviceable to a newcomer at once," he said gravely.
Patricia was only too glad to give in. "That makes it perfectly simple, then," she said gratefully. "I'm tremendously obliged to you for helping me out."
"It iss nothing," said Naskowski stolidly as he went back to the clay room, but Patricia could see that he was pleased at the ardor of her gratitude.
"He's an awfully good sort, if he is queer and stubby," she said, pausing to hide her parcel beneath her stand until the propitious moment.
The first half hour seemed longer than any that Patricia had spent in the modeling room. The students straggled in at various times, and when the gong rang there were still several of the usual number who had not appeared. Naskowski, as the class broke up for the brief interval, found chance to whisper a suggestion that she postpone it till the next rest, and Patricia eagerly agreed.
"I'll go look up my sister and tell her," she said. "We can smuggle her into the clay room, too, to see your work, can't we? I know she'd be crazy to get a glimpse of it, and then she might get a snap-shot at the fun in here."
Naskowski nodded a pleased assent, and Patricia sped away.
She found Elinor perturbed and excited beyond her wont.
"Isn't it horrid? Mr. Benton's come already, and I won't have a chance with my candy before criticism, as I hoped. I don't know what to do about it. I did so want to get it off my mind before I got my criticism, for I'm scared stiff about both of them."
"Why, you goose! Don't you see that it makes it easy for you!" cried Patricia, her eyes dancing. "You can simply put your nice big box of candy on the model stand during a rest, and they won't dare ask you to do any stunts with him in the room."
Elinor laughed helplessly. "I don't know what is the matter with my brain," she said in relieved contempt of her own confusion of mind. "Of course, it is ever so much easier. What a stupid I am not to see it for myself!"
Patricia squeezed her hand surreptitiously. "You're so far up in the clouds these days that the commonplace side of life doesn't exist. You'll be all right after you get used to it," she soothed. "You're going to be pretty free to inhabit cloudland for this winter, and I'm willing to bet any reasonable amount that Hannah Ann will see to it that the housekeeping doesn't distract you next summer. She's perfectly crazy over your painting, since it's like Aunt Louise. And there won't be any boarders or any other money-making schemes this year to harrow our souls."
"It seems too good—after all those years at the boarding schools, and the scrimmage we had when the mortgage was foreclosed—to feel secure at last," said Elinor gratefully. "Everything seems to be heaping up to make us happy."
"Time's up!" cried Patricia, jumping up. "Be on hand at the next rest, angel child. Come in the clay room 'immejit' the gong rings," and she hurried off, humming a gay little song.
The gay little song persisted, much to the dissatisfaction of the severe monitor, Miss Green, whose fat and lugubrious countenance took on a deeper shade of gloom at every hushed note that trembled in Patricia's rounded throat.
After casting a martyr-like glance of reproach at her, as she worked on, all unconscious of the mental agony she was inflicting, Miss Green cleared her throat slushily, and in the most subdued tone possible addressed Patricia.
"Miss Kendall will not disturb the class, I am sure, if she realizes that her humming is a source of annoyance," she said, her own really musical voice fluting in melodious minor cadences.
Patricia started and looked up with a sunny smile.
"Was I humming?" she asked genially. "I didn't know I was making any noise at all. I'm awfully sorry to have gotten on your nerves. I was thinking about some exercises, and I must have thought out loud."
Miss Green, much mollified by Patricia's ready acknowledgment, beamed over her round spectacles.
"I am sure Miss Kendall has the best intentions possible to any agreeable young lady," she said in a hushed though ceremonious manner.
She paused so long, regarding Patricia with her head on one side, that Patricia was afraid she was going to orate further, and visions of a premature initiation flitted uneasily through her nimble mind. Miss Green, however, said nothing further, taking up her tools and going on with her work with a complacent and benignant smile in her little pink mouth.
Griffin, who was just behind her, winked solemnly at Patricia and then shook her head sadly, as if to indicate that the monitor was in her opinion hopelessly incorrigible.
"Doesn't Greeny make you a bit weary?" she asked, as she slipped over beside Patricia as the gong was about to sound. "She's so drearily ornate."
"Oh, I don't know," replied Patricia easily. "She's kind, anyway. I think if she were thin, people wouldn't find her half bad. Fat people never seem quite as human as the rest of us."
"Stuff!" said Griffin energetically. "She'd be simply awful if she were thin. Aren't you coming in to see Naskowski's lion-tamer? He's showing it in the clay room."
"I'll be along later. I've got something to attend to first," promised Patricia, inwardly quaking lest the other should offer to wait for her; but she went off with the crowd that was hurrying into the clay room, and Patricia was free to arrange her surprise.
Diving under her stand, she fished out the bundle and opened it with trembling fingers.
"If I can only get them all placed before they come back," she said to herself, as she unwrapped each little bulky parcel. "I hope Naskowski gives me time."
"Wasn't it the flattest thing you ever saw?" said Patricia, disgustedly, as they waited for Judith at the side door. "I thought it was going off well when Griffin opened the ball by finding her little figure poked away there on the stand back of her head, and made such a cute speech to it, but the rest of them certainly behaved like tame tabbies. I was never so disappointed in my life."
"I thought Miss Green was really quite clever," said Elinor brightly. "She certainly read the verse attached to her's with a lot of expression. I didn't think she could be so sprightly."
Patricia drummed on the railing. "She was well enough," she admitted grudgingly. "But after I had modeled those figures and tried to get something appropriate for each one—and it was hard to get the candy into the inside of them, too, without spoiling it—they go and accept them as though they were a cup of afternoon tea. I thought they'd show more spirit. Don't talk to me about artists being gay and Bohemian after this."
"It was a little quiet," acknowledged Elinor, "but, at least, they were very pleasant about it. They all agreed that it was the cleverest thing that had been done in that line."
Patricia gazed gloomily at the door of the life-class room.
"I wish I were in the night life," she said resentfully. "I envy you, Norn, being among live people."
Elinor smiled ruefully. "And I'd like to swap with you," she said. "I'd much prefer a quiet time like I had in the head class this morning, or an agreeable time like you had, to anything riotous."
Patricia sighed and stirred restlessly. "Isn't that like life?" she commented, her face clearing as the thought took hold on her. "We're all hankering after something that we haven't got—or we think we are. Maybe—maybe we'd not like the other thing any better if we did get it, though one's own things always seem awfully commonplace, don't they?"
Before Elinor could respond, she started to the door with an exclamation.
"Here's Judy! On time to the dot!" she cried. "Come on in, Ju; drop your plunder into my strong arm and let us introduce you to the Academy."
Judith, with her hat rather on one side and her cheeks flushed from the wind and swift walking, kissed them both breathlessly and tumbled her bundles into Patricia's capacious apron.
She followed them into the dressing room with her eyes busy but without a single word, and it was not until they had taken her through the various class rooms, deserted at this noon hour, and were on their way down to the lunch room that she found speech.
"I must say, Elinor," she began, in response to a question, "that it's very different from what you girls led me to expect."
"Did we draw such rosy pictures?" asked Patricia in surprise. "I thought we told you it was remarkably spotty and just as smelly."
"But," continued Judith with emphasis, "I must say that, dirt and all, it is more glorious-ified than I thought it would be. That big-winged angel or whatever it is at the top of the stairs looks as if it would soar right up to the top of heaven—it's so white and strong!"
Patricia's eyes filled with the ready tears as she caught the look on Judith's thin face, raised in adoring admiration to the great Winged Victory that stood poised at the top of the wide flight of stone stairs, showing triumphant in the misty light that seems to fill all great indoor spaces.
"That's the part that makes up for all the soil and smudge, Ju darling," said Elinor softly. "Paint and charcoal and clay are dirty things, but when they're wielded with the force of an Ideal, they can illuminate the world."
Judith swept her adoring gaze from the Victory to her sister's face.
"Oh, oh," she breathed, "I didn't know you could talk like that, Elinor. It sounds like some beautiful book."
Elinor blushed and laughed. "I can't, usually," she said, gayly. "It is the Victory that did it. She must have handed down some of the thoughts of the old Greek that carved her out of the white marble under that blue, blue sky of ancient days."
Patricia nodded her quick appreciation. "I wonder how many she has spoken to, in all the centuries?" she mused, her eyes growing wide and absent. "Think of them, Norn—those people who felt her spell and heard the message. What a glorious company!"
It was Elinor's turn to raise misty eyes to the Messenger of the Ideal, and, like Judith, she was silent, busy with this thought.
"Do you know," Patricia went on, the peculiarly sweet, clear tone that marked her best self growing as she spoke, "I've come to care a lot about that glorious company. 'The kings of the earth shall bring their glory and honor into it,' and I don't see why we all shouldn't have some chance to add our tiny scrap to the splendor. I know I shan't ever do much—only commonplace, humdrum things, but if I can come at last with the least, tiniest bit of a radiant snip to add to the glory and honor, I'll be more than satisfied."
She broke off suddenly, smiling a wistful smile at the two others.
"I oughtn't to envy you, but I do," she said, softly. "You'll both come in simply glittering, and I'll have to brag that you're my near relatives. I'm such an ostentatious beast that I'd have to show off even there."
"Patricia!" gasped Judith, shocked out of her dreamy calm. "You oughtn't to say things like that. It's—it's not religious!"
Patricia dropped back instantly to her usual manner.
"Well, anyway, I'm fearfully hungry," she said airily. "I can't stand any more palaver. Come along to the cave and let us feed while there is time."
Luncheon was particularly gay, much to Judith's delight. Margaret Howes joined Patricia as she carried Judith off to the them, and Griffin with a kindred spirit had the next table. Doris Leighton, the pretty girl whom Patricia had so ardently admired on her first day and who had not been visible since then, appeared without her pale companion, and took the table on the other side of them, and when Margaret Howes, at Patricia's entreaty, introduced them, she brought her chair over to their table and made one of their merry party.
Judith was silent for the most part, but her eyes glowed like live coals and she kept tossing her pale, straight mane in the way she had when pleasantly excited.
"Well, what do you think of Bohemia?" asked Griffin, as they climbed the narrow iron stair again, the time having come for Judith to say good-bye.
Judith was equal to the occasion, as usual.
"I like it better than the land of the Amorites and the Hittites," she responded so promptly that the other gaped.
"Upon my word, you're a classy young 'un," she grinned. "Come again soon and give us some more."
Patricia as she carried Judith off to the dressing room for her wraps, was moved to inquiry.
"How in the world could you answer her so pat?" she asked, twinkling at Judith's superior air.
"Oh, I heard you say this morning that outside people were Philistines, and when I tried to look it up in the Old Testament, I read a lot of hard names, and I remembered them," she said, triumphantly. "I didn't think, though, that I'd be able to use them so soon."
Patricia shook her head.
"You certainly are the limit," she said, gravely. "What makes you care so much about words and names and such like things?" she asked, trying to get at a clearer understanding of her little sister's mental processes.
Judith was entirely unconscious of the probe.
"Why, because they're the very nicest things in the world, of course," she replied spiritedly. "I love to get new ones and see how they work. It's such fun. Like archery practice, when you hit the bull's eye. Only words are somehow different, too. They sort of taste when you say them—sometimes sweet and sometimes tingly and queer, like the Amorites and Hittites," and she giggled at the memory.
Patricia shook her head.
"Don't go tasting too many new ones around here," she cautioned with a kiss. "You might hit on the wrong one, and they wouldn't understand that it was merely a game with you."
"Well, I just guess it isn't any game," retorted Judith with a toss of her mane. "It's the most important thing in life to me," and she stalked off towards the door with great dignity.
Patricia groaned as she watched her walk primly down the corridor and out of the side entrance. "That infant," she said to Elinor who had been leaving Judith out, "is trembling on the brink of becoming a little prig. We've got to see to it, Norn, that she doesn't get too satisfied with herself."
"I don't believe she'll get spoiled," returned Elinor, easily. "She is clever, you know, and I think it's rather nice that she can enjoy it a bit. She isn't pretty, and it makes up to her for that."
"All the same," said Patricia, darkly, "she needs to drop a peg in her own esteem. Conceit is mighty crippling to the runner in the race that Ju's picked out for herself. I'd hate her to be a fizzle, and I'm going to see to it that she gets rid of it."
"Very well; only don't be too hard on her," said Elinor, easily. "Come help me with the candy for the night life, won't you? I can't get it in shape."
"Lots of time for it," said Patricia, yawning and flinging herself down on the wide couch. "The men aren't through in there for more than an hour yet."
"But I've got to get it tied inside the lantern while no one is about," insisted Elinor. "And the hall is absolutely deserted now. Come along, do, and be useful."
Patricia, protesting, dragged herself from the restful nest, but by the time they had begun to arrange the gay little bags of candy in the big red Japanese lantern, she was as enthusiastic as Elinor could wish.
"Aren't the bags perfect ducks?" she laughed, handling the gauzy bundles with dexterous fingers. "And those verses are too cute for words. What a time we all had over them! Ju's are the best, though she mustn't know it; funny without being personal. It was terribly hard to get such a mob, too. How many are there altogether, Norn?"
"Seventeen," replied Elinor, counting. "I hope it will work all right when I pull the string. I've fixed the bottom of that lantern so it ought to fall out when I give a hard jerk, and all the bags will tumble down in a shower."
"You can't try it, of course," said Patricia. "But I'm dead certain it'll be all right. What is the matter?" she asked, looking up as the door of the life room opened and the men began to come out carrying their canvases and drawing-boards as though the pose were over. "It can't be four o'clock, surely. Ju hasn't been gone a half hour."
Naskowski, on his way to the modeling room, paused to answer Patricia's question.
"There iss a demonstration in the living anatomy, for all students—a man who can dislocate his joints at will and do other methods of showing muscle action," he explained. "So the life iss dismiss. You will come—not?"
Patricia and Elinor exchanged a swift glance.
"We'll be along in a little while," replied Patricia easily. "Save a seat for us if you can."
When he had moved on she whispered excitedly:
"Now's your chance, Norn! I'll skirmish for laggards and report."
She came back in a moment, triumphant.
"There isn't a soul in sight," she announced. "Hustle while the coast's clear. Someone may come back at any moment."
They hurried into the deserted room, and with eager haste they swung the big lantern up to the circle of electric fixtures above the model stand, the stout cord that Elinor had fastened to its bottom hanging concealed among the drapery of the screen that stood behind the model's chair.
"It's all ship-shape now," whispered Patricia as they scrambled down from the stools whereon they had perched to accomplish their purpose. "Aren't we in luck? Not a soul even saw us come in."
"Now for a sight of the dislocated gentleman," said Elinor gayly. "And then for the great event."
The anatomical wonder appealed to them so little that they gave up the seats that the kind Slav had saved for them, and went out, rather sickened by such limberness, to wait the gong of the night life in the seclusion of the print room.
The hall and corridor were dim and the circle of lights above the model stand was twinkling brightly when Patricia peeped in at the crack of the door during the first rest.
"Nothing seems to be happening," said Elinor to her in an undertone as she joined her. "I believe I'll wait till later, unless I see signs of action."
"Don't keep me hanging on here in the dark too long," protested Patricia. "I'm worn to a bone already."
When she returned to her post after a brief nap on the wide couch, everything was quiet, much to her disgust.
"Why in the world doesn't Elinor loosen up?" she thought, impatiently.
As she moved nearer she gave a start of surprise. The lights in the night-life room were out. The transom showed black and empty above the massive folded doors.
Patricia drew in her breath with a gasp. She put her hand on the knob of the door and noiselessly turned it.
"I'll slip in behind the door screen," she thought, "and see what's going on. Elinor may need me."
THE GHOST DANCE
The room was very dark at first, and little whispers ran all about in the gloom. There was a rustling and shuffling and a sound of hurried, muffled steps. Patricia, from her hiding place behind the door screen, could make out nothing but the dim oblong of the transom above her head and the long pale mass of the skylight.
Suddenly a match flared and the twinkling tip of light grew at a candle end and she saw a ghostly figure, its white hand busy with the candle wick and its hollow, black eyes fixed on the tiny growing flame. Instantly other matches flickered and more candles glimmered in ghostly fingers, until the room was flashing with tiny points of light, while the masses of heavy shadow trembled and surged about an array of white-clad, mysterious, skull-faced figures that slowly formed in line and, two by two, moved to the center of the room, chanting a low, monotonous song as they walked in solemn procession.
"My word!" breathed Patricia, stirred and chilled in spite of herself. "They're doing it brown this time!"
As her eyes grew accustomed to the flicker and motion, she searched for Elinor, and saw her at last, the center of the weird procession, standing quietly beside the chair from which she had risen, holding her head with a sweet and gracious dignity that went straight to Patricia's chilled heart.
"Dear old Norn," she thought with a returning glow. "They can't scare her, bless her heart!"
Elinor stood smiling a little at the gruesome company as they slowly paced about her in a narrowing circle, and when the leader took her hand and led her to the model stand, motioning to her to mount it, she acquiesced with graceful alacrity.
Standing high above them in the semi-gloom, with that faint smile still on her lips, she watched them calmly as they danced the famous Ghost Dance of the Academy about her, omitting no gruesome detail that would be calculated to affright the dismayed beholder, chanting and groaning horribly the while.
At a sign from the leader the dance stopped as suddenly as it had begun, and the leader once more approached Elinor, followed by four of the foremost ghosts.
They mounted the platform and, seating Elinor in the chair, filed before her, presenting one after another a grisly hand and cadaverous cheek for her salute.
"The horrid things!" murmured Patricia to herself, with her wrath beginning to rise. "I'd pinch their noses for them if they made me kiss them! Elinor's too gentle with them. I wonder why she doesn't pull the string? She could reach it easily now."
But Elinor, far from showing rancor, shook the bony hands and kissed the sunken cheeks with as good grace as though she were receiving her dearest friends. She even made some little speech to each, though Patricia was too far away to catch more than a word or two.
Her sweetness of temper, nevertheless, did not seem to appease the ghosts, for, when the ceremony of salutation was finished, the four seated themselves cross-legged on either side of her, while the leader proceeded to catechize her.
"What is your name?" she asked, in a high, squeaking voice that Patricia failed to recognize.
Elinor responded promptly.
"Where do you live?" was the next question, to which Elinor again replied good-naturedly.
"Pooh! they're as stupid as the rest," thought Patricia contemptuously, and she let her attention wander, studying the various ghosts, making mental notes as to height and size for future reference.
She was brought back to the center of interest by a sharp hiss from a ghost on the edge of the assembly and a muffled cry of "No fair!" from another nearer the stand.
The leader raised a grisly hand and swept the assembly with her cavernous eye sockets.
"I repeat," she piped, turning to Elinor with a jerky bow, "I repeat my question. Why were you admitted to our class without having worked in any antique or life classes before?"
"Oh, that's too personal," said a ghost in a disgusted tone. "I protest! This isn't a Board meeting."
There was a general murmur of laughter at this, but the leader stood rigid, awaiting Elinor's reply.
"I have told anyone who asked me," said Elinor, evenly, though her cheeks were beginning to burn. "I came in on Bruce Haydon's recommendation."
There was a rustle of approval at her quiet tone and a stir as of the assembly breaking up, but again the leader motioned for silence.
"The other four sisters will make their investigation after I have finished," she announced in her shrill tones. "I have but three more questions to put to the novice."
There was a silence that made the next question come with more insulting force, while Patricia again wondered why Elinor did not seize this moment for her broadside of bonbons.
"How much," squeaked the leader, more shrilly than ever, "did Bruce Haydon bribe the Board to let you in?"
Instantly there was a storm of hisses and protests; the four next inquisitors jumped to their feet and down from the model stand with one motion, crying that it was a shame that the fun was spoiled and that they had all had enough for one night.
"Initiation's over!" shouted someone in a voice of authority, and suddenly the candle-lights vanished into a tumultuous darkness, while there was a confusion of scurrying noises that made Patricia's head swim for a moment.
Then the lights flashed on, and she saw clearly the disheveled, excited assembly hastily hiding bundles of white cloth in any available spot, while hair and dress were hurriedly arranged and order generally restored. Elinor still stood on the model stand under the brilliant circle of lights, her wide eyes gleaming and her head uplifted.
"I haven't been asked for a speech," she began clearly. "But I do want to say a word or two, if you'll let me."
She paused for some sign, and Patricia in her corner was delighted at the Babel which answered her. Cries of "Of course we will!" "Dee-lighted!" "Take all the time you want!" mingled with applause and stamping, until Elinor could not forbear a laugh.
"I won't wear out your patience," she promised, as quiet was restored and her voice could again be heard. "I haven't any oration to deliver. I only want to say that I don't know who it was asked me those questions, and I hope I never shall know. You've all been very kind to me, and I'd hate to think that any of you wanted to make me uncomfortable. I'm sure it was simply an initiation stunt, and I for one shall never think of it again."
She paused with a bright, friendly glance on the upturned faces.
"This is my real introduction to the night-life class," she said, with a sweeping gesture that, unseen to all but the anxious Patricia, caught the cord from its hiding place among the draperies. "And I want this evening to be a sweet memory to us all."
She stepped aside with a swift movement, and the big red lantern swayed and threatened to topple as the cord tightened.
"Why, what's that?" cried a voice, and all eyes were turned to the gaudy swaying globe. Before anyone could speak, Elinor gave another hard tug, tearing out the bottom of the lantern, and down came the shower of gay little gauze bags with their cargoes of bonbons, pell-mell on the heads of the crowd!
"Hallelujah! It's the fee!" cried Griffin, with a green and gold packet in her hands. "Hurrah for Kendall Major! She's the stuff!"
"Verses, too!" cried Margaret Howes. "Verses on every one of them. Read them aloud, everybody in turn. Hurry up and get them all together."
"Silence, will you?" shouted Griffin, pounding like mad. "Keep still till the exercises are over. The first little girl to speak her piece is Miss Doris Leighton. Come up, Doris, dear. Don't put your finger in your mouth, and speak so we can all hear you. Fire away."
Patricia thought Doris Leighton looked pale as she stood up on the model stand to read the nonsense verse that was on her candy bag, but her loveliness wrought the same spell on the others as it always had, and they listened to her silvery voice in appreciative silence, and applauded her warmly at the end.
One after another, the girls mounted the stand beside Elinor, and read the little verses, while the assembly listened, and even the model, decorously cloaked, came from her little room, and with her crocheting in hand sat smiling at the nonsense.
When the last verse had been read and the laughter died down, Griffin raised her voice again.
"Nobody's asked me for a speech," she began and paused.
"Didn't think you had to be asked," came from the crowd in a laughing voice.
Griffin looked sadly in the direction of the voice.
"Nobody's asked me," she repeated more firmly, "and so I'm not going to make any. So there!"
Groans of relief sounded from the side of the room whence the voice had come, and there was a general giggle.
"I merely raised my voice above the general clamor," Griffin went on with an icy stare towards her hidden critic, "to suggest that we show our appreciation of the delightful entertainment Miss Kendall has so thoughtfully provided us by giving her the Night Life Song, or the Academy Howl, whichever she prefers." She bowed to Elinor with exaggerated politeness. "Which shall it be, Miss Kendall? Each is equally diverting, but the Howl has the merit of greater brevity. No extra charge for the choice, you know, so speak up and name it."
Elinor glanced about at the circle of laughing, friendly faces and her eyes shone.
"I'll choose the song," she announced, gayly. "I've heard a lot of howling already this evening."
"The song it is," cried Griffin, stepping on a chair and beginning to beat time with a big paint-brush. "Now then, all together, my children. Warble!"
Patricia, thrilled by the sweetness of the rippling, crooning song, and before the verse was half done, joined unconsciously in with the others, forgetting the need of words in the melody of the lilting song.
"Creatures of the night are we, Sisters of the glow-worm dim, Comrades of the hooting owl, Toilers when the sunset's rim Overflows with shadows deep; Harken to our even-song, Night it is that makes us strong."
The chorus swelled, with Griffin's thrilling treble soaring high and clear:
"Glorious night that makes us strong, Drowning day and ending strife; Guide the skilful hand and eye, Shape our efforts into life."
Patricia's heart beat hard with the beauty of the woven word and melody, and she gave a little gulp to keep back the tears that sprang so readily.
"I didn't dream those uproarious creatures could be so serious. I wonder where they got that song," she said to herself as she slipped unnoticed out into the twilight of the corridor.
She put the question to Griffin when she met her in the hall after the class had broken up in disorder to celebrate the initiation by a general gambol through the deserted halls and corridors. Patricia and Griffin were seating themselves on a drawing-board at the top of the short flight of stone steps that connected the back corridor with the exhibition rooms above.
"That? Oh, Carol Lawton wrote that for us before she left. She was a corker, I can tell you." A shade flitted over Griffin's face as she settled herself more firmly on the board. "She died last fall, and we've sung that song ever since. Ready now! Let her go!"
Away they sped down the stony stairs with a great clatter of board and flutter of skirts, winding up at the bottom with a final heavy thump.
"Phew! That's great!" cried Patricia, springing lightly to her feet. "It's more like flying than anything else."
"Yes, it's going some," returned Griffin nonchalantly, as she started up the stair again, dragging the board after her. "The March Hare originated it back in the dark ages, and we've been doing it off and on—when the authorities don't get on to us."
"The March Hare?" queried Patricia, much elated by this exhilarating society, and wishing more ardently than ever that she were fitted for this fascinating class.
Griffin nodded. "Tabby March, you know. The young woman who paints pussies. Used to go here three years ago, before she'd arrived. She was a wild one, I can tell you."
"Do you mean Elizabeth March, who got the Tassel prize this year?" asked Patricia in surprise. "Why, I saw her last week at the exhibition and she was awfully prim looking."
Griffin chuckled. "It's fame that tames them, mark my words. Soon's they get known they grow into a pattern. Ready now. Let her r-r-r-rip!"
Elinor intercepted them at the bottom just as they were preparing for a third flight.
"I've been looking for you everywhere, Miss Pat," she said radiantly. "There's going to be a spread in the cave, and I've phoned home to Judy not to wait for us, as we won't be there for dinner."
"Am I asked?" demanded Patricia with eager eyes.
"Of course, or I'd have sent word by you instead of phoning," said Elinor quickly. "Come along down, both of you. Everything is ready, and Margaret Howes is making Welsh rarebit just specially for you—she heard you say you adored it. Hurry, hurry."
The feast was half over when Patricia, who sat between Margaret Howes and Griffin and opposite to the adorable Doris Leighton, got a distinct shock.
The girls had been talking of the initiation and the part that Elinor had played.
"Your sister has covered herself with glory by the way she took her hazing," said Margaret, deftly winding a long string of the rarebit around a bread stick and popping it in her mouth.
"She certainly saved us from a fluke by the nice fashion in which she turned the popular attention from that idiot who was leading the band," added Griffin, reaching for the mustard.
Patricia longed to ask a question, but Margaret Howes saved her the necessity.
"Who was it, do you know, Griffin?" she inquired in a lowered tone.
"Can't be certain, of course, but I have my doubts," replied Griffin, in the same pitch. "I think that I recognized the silvery tones of a fair one who is not too far away from us," and she glanced significantly across the table to where Doris Leighton sat with the candle-light shining in her bright hair and a little smile curving her pink lips.
Patricia caught the look, and was instantly both astonished and indignant.
"I don't see how you can think that!" she cried hotly, and then hastily lowering her voice, she added: "You must have known who they chose for leader, even if you both were at the tail of the march."
Griffin grinned good-naturedly. "Keep your righteous wrath for the right fellow, young 'un. When you've been in the night life as many years as I have, you'll know that we don't choose a leader—she simply elects herself by taking the head of the procession. We never know who's who after we rig up. That's part of the game. So, you see, it may have been the charming Doris, or Howes here, or my unworthy self, that put those obnoxious questions to your sister—no one knows for sure, and the mean cuss won't tell."
"Why should she want to be horrid to Elinor?" persisted Patricia, frowning a little in her earnestness. "We don't know her very well yet, but she's been perfectly sweet to us both."
"That describes her to a T, doesn't it, Howes?" grinned the imperturbable Griffin. "That's the way we find her—so sweet that she is sickening, eh?"
"Hush, she'll hear you!" warned Howes, laughing a little, nevertheless, whereupon Patricia instantly decided that she had been mistaken in Margaret Howes' character, and that she was less open-minded and warm-hearted than she had believed.
"I can't see why you should pitch on her," insisted Patricia, kneading her cake into pills in her agitation. "What could she have against Elinor?"
Griffin yawned elaborately and then addressed Margaret Howes with lifted eyebrows.
"This young person, though evidently of an investigating turn of mind, has not quite fathomed the nature of the reigning beauty of our little coterie. Being of a candid and affable nature herself, she fails to comprehend how the fangs of the green-eyed monster, once fastened in the tender heart of said beauty, make the said beauty so mortally uncomfy that she's bound to take it out on somebody—and who so natural or convenient as the critter who sicked the serpent on her."
"You mean that she is jealous of Elinor?" asked Patricia, opening her eyes very wide. "Why, Elinor is only a beginner, and she's studied abroad!"
"All the same, she sees that Kendall Major is about to snatch the laurel wreath from all our heads, and she doesn't want to do without any of her ornaments."
"But Elinor didn't even get a criticism in the head class yet," protested Patricia, unconvinced. "Mr. Benton didn't get around to her this morning, and she doesn't get any criticism in the night life till tomorrow afternoon. I don't see how she could be jealous."
Griffin made a face over a sip of over-heated cocoa. "Just as you please," she murmured benevolently. "Make the best of it, like a good child. Charity is the chief Christian virtue and an ornament to all. Are you going in for the prize design, Howes? I hear that it's open to the whole class."
"Haven't heard of it," replied Margaret Howes, with eager interest. "What is it? And who's giving it?"
"Roberts, the big New York decorator. He's offering a hundred dollars for the best design for a panel for a library—originality to be the chief feature. Popsy Brown told me. I thought it had been announced."
"It wasn't on the bulletin board this afternoon," said a girl across the table, who had been listening to this last speech. "Tell us about it, Griffie dear. We're all dying to hear."
"Spout it out loud!" called another from the end of the table. "We can't catch your muffled accents down here."
The announcement of the prize was received with such lively interest that it routed all other subjects, and even Patricia caught the enthusiasm.
"I hope Elinor tries for it," she said excitedly. "She'll say she's too green, I suppose."
"Tell her to make a hack at it anyway," urged Margaret Howes earnestly. "Originality is the thing that counts, and she's got as good a chance as any of us there."
"Better," said Griffin tersely. "We're so filled with other people's ideas that we've degenerated into regular copy-cats. I can't undertake any subject but that I have a lot of designs by famous painters popping into my mind and mixing me up horribly."
"I wish I could draw," mused Patricia, absently sugaring her Frankfurter. "I've got tons of ideas already."
"That reminds me," broke out Griffin. "There's a prize for the mud larks, too. I've forgotten what it is, but it'll be posted in the morning. There's your chance, young 'un. You're eligible for it."
Patricia was about to speak, but there was a general stir and a voice cried, authoritatively:
"Eight o'clock. Time to break up! Three cheers for Kendall Major and her candy toys. The Academy Howl, ladies, if you please!"
A space was hurriedly cleared at the other end of the table, a chair placed and Patricia saw Elinor, blushing and protesting, thrust into it by a dozen laughing students.
Patricia stood to one side, as they formed a hasty group in the open space by the door, and, with Griffin beating time, stretched their mouths to the utmost and gave the Academy Howl with a vim that was deafening, drawing out the final deep growling notes to a weirdly wailing finish that sent Patricia and Elinor into gales of mirth.
"How in the world did you make up such an unearthly yodel?" demanded Elinor, preparing to descend from her chair of state. "I hope I'm not expected to answer in kind."
"You don't budge from there, young lady, till you've given us a song," declared Griffin, vigorously. "We know your dark secrets. We've heard that you can warble a bit."
Elinor sat down in surprise. "Oh, but I can't," she protested. "I can't sing at all. Miss Pat——"
A glare from Patricia stopped her, but it was too late. A chorus of laughing voices took up the demand, "A song, Miss Pat!" "Don't be stingy, Kendall Minor; tune up!" "Give us a sample, Miss Pat!" until Griffin, with a bow, offered her arm to the rebellious Patricia and led her, protesting and abashed, to the chair whence Elinor had escaped.
Once on the impromptu platform, Patricia's embarrassment dropped from her, and she smiled a ready acknowledgment to the shouts that demanded a dozen different songs at once.
"I can't sing them all at once," she said, gayly. "But if you'll settle on one that I know, I'll do my best for you. You've given me an awfully good time tonight, and I'm only too glad to sing for you."
After a great deal of good-humored bickering and sifting of requests to suit Patricia's repertoire, the tumult gradually quieted and Patricia rose.
"I'll sing 'Mary of Argyle' first, and then a new little song, but it won't sound very well without any accompaniment," she said simply, and then, folding her hands before her and tilting her head like a bird, she began to sing, softly at first and then louder till her voice soared and rang echoing through the bare, empty rooms that flanked the lunch rooms.
"I have watched thy heart, my Mary, And its goodness was the wile, That has made me thine forever, Bonnie Mary of Argyle."
Patricia's voice swelled and sank on the last lines of the old song, and the girls broke into hearty applause, which was startlingly reinforced from the doorway of the lumber cellar. The janitor's sallow face appeared from the gloom and his deep voice boomed an encore.
"Fine! Fine!" he cried, nodding his head approvingly. "That beats them all! My wife, she used to sing that song, and I liked it fine, but you beat them all!"
Patricia blushed with pleasure, and Griffin called out heartily, "Bring her in, Eitel. There's going to be another!"
As the janitor padded away to the domestic portion of the basement to fetch his smiling wife, Griffin added to Patricia, "They're an awfully good sort. You don't mind, do you?"
"No, indeed!" cried Patricia. "It's sweet of them to like it!"
Doris Leighton smiled at Elinor in the crowd and murmured a word of praise for the singing, adding, however, that she was afraid that the janitor could hardly appreciate it.
"What's that?" asked Griffin, whose quick ear had caught the last words. "Not appreciate it? Why, do you know that Eitel used to be butler for Patti in his youth? Fie, fie, my child; likewise, go to."
Patricia caught her breath. "I hope he likes the next one," she said anxiously, whereat Griffin chuckled.
"Don't be too scared," she said in a quick undertone. "It's forty years since he served the Diva, and he only stayed a month. I merely exploited him musically to bluff off the Class Beauty. Hush! here they are, large as life. Now, warble your prettiest, for Mrs. Eitel really knows good stuff when she hears it."
So Patricia flung her whole self into the sparkling "April Girl," and at the finish had the reward of an ovation. The students clapped and the Eitels applauded with hands and feet, and cried "Encore!" till they were red in the face.
"I'll sing just one more, and then I'll have to stop," she said with eager brightness. "My voice isn't strong enough to do much, you know, though I'm awfully glad you like the songs."
So she sang another, a lullaby, that sank to its finish in flattering silence. Not a word was spoken as she stepped to the floor, but Elinor put out her hand and gave Patricia's a hard squeeze.
Mrs. Eitel broke the silence. "That music has made me strong," she declared, beaming. "These dishes I will now wash up for the reward of those songs. Go along now, young ladies, and think nothing about the disorder and the scrappishness, for it is I who will make them to come to order."
There were a few feeble protests, but Mrs. Eitel bore them down, and the students trooped off upstairs to their lockers and the dressing room, well pleased to escape the prosaic end to their fun.
On the way home Patricia told Elinor of the suspicions that had been whispered about Doris Leighton's part in the initiation, and, much to her satisfaction, Elinor was as indignant as she had been.
"I can't see how they can be so unfriendly to her," she said warmly. "She is so kind and agreeable. Of course, she doesn't associate with everybody, but neither does Margaret Howes nor Griffin either, for that matter. So far from being jealous, she's been specially sociable with me, and I felt quite flattered by it."
"I knew you'd feel just that way about it," said Patricia, relieved and triumphant. "I told them she'd been awfully sweet to us."
"I think it more likely that it was Griffin herself," said Elinor with spirit. "She's such a wild, harum-scarum thing, and she does love to tease."
Patricia was silent, weighing this suggestion. They both broke into negation at once as they reached their own front door.
"It couldn't be Griffin," said Patricia earnestly. "She was too disgusted with it."
"No, I didn't really mean that," cried Elinor, repentantly. "It wasn't a bit like her teasing. Her's always has a good flavor."
"I wonder who it could have been," they both murmured as they went upstairs to their rooms.
Judith was deeply interested with their recital of the whole affair, and grew quite excited in the discussion as to the identity of the leader of the Ghost Dance.
"If I were there enough to know the different girls, I'd know who it was without much trouble," she declared.
"How would you manage it, Sherlock?" asked Patricia. "Give us a hint of your method, and we may be able to locate the fiend ourselves."
Judith tossed her head.
"Oh, you may laugh, Miss Pat. But all the same, I'd know. I could tell by the little things that you grown-ups don't notice."
"Mercy, Judy!" cried Patricia in genuine consternation. "You mustn't examine us all with your private microscope. It isn't fair!"
Elinor put an end to the discussion by pointing to the clock.
"Do you see the hour, infants?" she demanded. "Tomorrow is a full day, and we must get to our beds. Toddle, Judy dear. If you aren't asleep in ten minutes you'll have to take a nap in the afternoon."
"Oh, but Miss Jinny's coming at five, and David won't leave till half-past four!" protested Judith, horrified at such a prospect, and beginning to scramble out of her clothes with lively haste. "And you promised to show me the night-life room, too, when all the students were there and the model wasn't posing! Oh, dear Elinor, you're a very agitating person! I'm twice as wide-awake as I was a minute ago!"
When Elinor and Patricia were alone, Patricia opened the subject that had been occupying her thought for the last few minutes.
"You'll try for that library panel prize, won't you, Norn?" she asked, pleadingly. "Griffin and Margaret Howes both say you ought. I know you could do something worth while."
Elinor paused in her hair brushing, and sank down on the stool, absently propping her chin on her brush.
"It doesn't seem worth while," she began, but Patricia broke in impatiently:
"You never know what you can do till you try. I'd try for anything I was eligible for, if I couldn't draw a stroke, just to be in with the rest."
Elinor smiled and pulled Patricia down beside her on the stool.
"Don't be too hard on your lazy old sister, Miss Pat," she said with a kiss. "I'll promise to go in for it if you won't scold any more. If I disgrace the family, you mustn't cast it up to me."
Patricia tossed her bright head scornfully.
"'Disgrace!'" she repeated hotly. "Why, do you know, Elinor Kendall, that they're all saying already that you're a wonder?" Then with a swift change, she broke into a giggle. "Wait till you lay eyes on my contribution to the modeling competition. You'll have the treat of your young life then!"
"What's it to be?" asked Elinor, releasing her and beginning to braid her dark hair.
"Don't know," replied Patricia gayly. "Don't care, either. Whatever it is, I'm going into it tooth and nail. I'll show them that I'm on the turf even if I can't win a ribbon."
Judith's voice came plaintively from her room.
"I don't think it's fair," she faltered. "You girls keep chattering so I can't go to sleep, and the ten minutes are up long ago."
"Bless your heart, Infant, you're a martyr to our long tongues!" cried Patricia, jumping up and putting out the light. "Go to sleep now. We won't chirp a single note. Good-night, and happy dreams!"
"I haven't had my criticism yet, and if I don't get it next pose, you'll have to go to the station without me," said Elinor to the other two girls as she met them in the corridor the next morning. "Mr. Benton's awfully slow, but I can't miss this first criticism, you know."
"David'll be fearfully disappointed," remarked Judith dispassionately. "It's his first family spree, and I think it's your duty to go, Elinor."