Part 2 out of 4
"Did you?" said Eleanor, carelessly. "Well, I suppose it must be good for
something, to have so much said about it; but I for one am thoroughly
tired of it. I'm going to try to act so well on Saturday that people will
have something else to talk to me about."
"You will," said Betty, with decision. "You made a splendid leading lady
last year in Sherlock Holmes, and you didn't try at all then. Well," she
added quickly, "you said I mustn't stay long, so I must hurry and tell
you what I came for. I want you to have dinner with Will and me to-night
"That's very good of you," said Eleanor formally, "and I'm sorry that I
can't come. But it's quite impossible."
"Oh dear!" There was nothing perfunctory about Betty's regret. "Couldn't
you learn your part this evening? It won't take you any longer to eat at
Cuyler's than it would here, and you can come right back."
"Oh, it's not the play," said Eleanor. "I could manage that; but Beatrice
Egerton is going to be here for dinner."
"Oh, of course if you've asked any one to dinner--" began Betty.
"No," broke in Eleanor, impatiently, "I haven't asked her, but Lil Day
has. She's invited me to sit with them, and she'd be awfully vexed if I
ran off. You know," went on Eleanor, impressively, "Beatrice Egerton is
the most prominent girl in the senior class."
"Oh!" said Betty, blankly.
"And I barely know her," continued Eleanor, "so this is my opportunity,
you see. Lil thinks she'll like me. She's very influential, and she
doesn't seem to have any particular friends in our class. Do you know her
Betty shook her head.
"But you're so solid with Dorothy King," said Eleanor. "She's just about
as prominent as Bess Egerton. We have to look out for those things, don't
"If you mean," began Betty, slowly, "that I like Dorothy King because
she's an influential senior, why, please never think so again, Eleanor. I
like her just as I like any one else, because she's so dear and sweet and
such a fine, all-around girl."
Eleanor laughed scornfully. "Oh, of course," she said, "but you have your
little plans, I suppose, like all the rest of the world. Anyhow, if you
haven't, I have; and I put future honors ahead of present bliss, so I
can't go with you to Cuyler's. Please tell your brother that I'm very
"Yes," said Betty. "He will be sorry, too. Good-bye, Eleanor."
It seemed a long walk back to the Belden House. The snow had turned to
slush, and Betty sank into it at every step. The raw wind blew her hair
into her eyes. The world looked dull and uninteresting all of a sudden.
When she reached home, Helen was getting ready for gym.
"Helen Chase Adams," began Betty, savagely. "Do you see any use in
"Why, yes," gasped Helen.
"What?" demanded Betty.
"Why--it helps you to get things," ventured Helen.
"May be they're not worth getting," snapped Betty.
"Well, isn't it better to try to get foolish things than just to sit
around and do nothing?"
"No," answered Betty with emphasis. "People who just sit around and do
nothing, as you call it, have friends and like them, and aren't all the
time thinking what they can get out of them."
"I'm sorry, but I have to go to gym," said Helen. "I don't think
ambitious people always depend on their friends."
Left to herself. Betty came to a more judicial state of mind. "I
suppose," she said to the green lizard, "I suppose I'm the kind that just
sits around and does nothing. I suppose we're irritating too. It makes
Helen mad when I write my papers any old way, while she's toiling along,
trying to do her best. And she makes me cross by fussing so. She has one
kind of ambition and Eleanor has another. I haven't any, and I suppose
they both wish I'd have some kind. Oh, dear! I don't believe Madeline
Ayres is ambitious either, and Ethel Hale called her a splendid girl.
I'll go and ask her to come to dinner with us."
ON TO MIDYEARS
Exactly a week after Nan and Will left Harding, Betty herself was
speeding west, with Roberta Lewis as traveling companion. Nan had
discovered that Roberta's father was in California, and that she was
planning to spend her Christmas vacation in solitary state at Mrs.
Chapin's, without letting even her adored Mary Brooks know how matters
stood. But Nan's arguments, backed by Betty's powers of persuasion, were
irresistible; and Roberta finally consented to come to Cleveland instead.
It was amusing, and a little pathetic too, to watch the shy Roberta
expand in the genial, happy-go-lucky atmosphere of the Wales household. A
lonely, motherless child brought up by a father who loved her dearly,
treated her as an equal, and was too absorbed in his own affairs to
realize that she needed any companionship but his own, she had been
absolutely swept off her feet by the rush of young life at Harding. The
only close friend she had made there was Mary Brooks; and, though Mary
fully reciprocated Roberta's fondness for her, she was a person of so
many ideas and interests that Roberta was necessarily left a good deal to
herself. During her first year, the sociable atmosphere of the Chapin
house had helped to break down her reserve and bring her, in spite of
herself, into touch with the college world. But now, in a house full of
noisy, rollicking freshmen, who thought her queer and "stuck-up," she was
bitterly unhappy. So she shut herself in with her books and her thoughts,
wondered whether being on the campus would really make any difference in
her feelings about college, and stayed on only because of her devotion to
Mary and her unwillingness to disappoint her father, who was very proud
of "my daughter at Harding."
Roberta loved children, and she and the smallest sister instantly became
fast friends. Will frightened her dreadfully at first, but before the
week was out she found herself chatting with him just as familiarly as
she did with her Boston cousin, who was the only young man she knew well.
And after she had helped Mrs. Wales to trim the smallest sister's
Christmas tree, and been down town with Mr. Wales to pick out some books
for him to give Nan,--"Because you and Nan seem to be cut out of the same
piece of cloth, you see," explained Mr. Wales genially,--Roberta felt
exactly like one of the family, and hoarded the days, and then the hours,
that remained of this blissful vacation.
"It seems as if I couldn't go back," she told Betty, when the good-byes
had all been said, and the long train was rumbling through the darkness
"I'm sorry to leave too," said Betty dreamily. "It's been a jolly old
vacation. But think how we should feel if we couldn't go back at all--if
the family fortune was swept away all of a sudden, or if we were sick or
anything, and had to drop out of dear old 19--."
"Yes," said Roberta briefly.
Betty looked at her curiously. "Don't you like college, Roberta?" she
"Betty, I can't bear it," declared Roberta in an unwonted burst of
confidence. "I stay on because I hate people who give things up just
because they don't like doing them. But it seems sometimes as if I
couldn't stand it much longer."
"Too bad you didn't get on the campus. Perhaps you will this term."
suggested Betty hopefully, "and then I know you'll fall absolutely in
love with college."
"I don't believe that will make a bit of difference, and anyway Miss
Stuart said I hadn't the least chance of getting on this year."
"Then," returned Betty cheerfully, "you'll just have to make the best of
it where you are. Some of the Chapin house freshmen are dear. I love that
cunning little Sara Westervelt."
"Isn't she pretty?" Roberta's drawl was almost enthusiastic. "But she
never speaks to me," she added sadly.
"Speak to her," said Betty promptly. "You probably frighten her to death,
and freeze her all up. Treat her as you did the smallest sister."
Roberta laughed merrily. "It's funny, isn't it, that I can get on with
children and most older people, but not at all with those of my own age."
"Oh, you only need practice," said Betty easily. "Go at it just as you go
at your chemistry problems. Figure out what those freshmen like and give
it to them. Have a party and do the Jabberwock for them. They'd be your
slaves for life."
"Oh, I couldn't," protested Roberta. "It would seem so like showing off."
"Don't think about yourself; think about them. And now," added Betty
yawning, "as we were up till two last night, I think we'd better go to
bed, don't you?"
"Yes," said Roberta, "and--and thank you for telling me that I'm offish,
Betty. Could you come to the Jabberwock party Monday night, if I should
decide to have it?"
Though Rachel was off the campus, her room was far and away the most
popular meeting place for the Chapin house crowd. Perhaps it was because
the quiet of the little white house round the corner was a relief after
the noisy bustle of the big campus dormitories. But besides, there was
something about Rachel that made her quite indispensable to all
gatherings of the clan. Katherine was fun when you were in the mood for
her; Roberta, if she was in the mood for you. Betty was always
fascinating, always responsive, but in many ways she was only a pretty
child. Helen and Eleanor, unlike in almost everything else, were at one
in being self-centred. Rachel was as jolly as Katherine, as sympathetic
as Betty, and far more mature than either of her friends. As Katherine
put it, "you could always bank on Rachel to know what was what."
So it was no unusual thing to find two or three of the "old guard" as
Rachel dubbed them, and perhaps two or three outsiders as well, gathered
in her tiny room, in the dark of the afternoon, talking over the
happenings of the day and drinking tea out of the cups which were the
pride of Rachel's heart, because they were all pretty and none of them
had cost more than ten cents.
One snowy afternoon in January Betty walked home with Rachel from their
four o'clock class in history.
"Come in, children" called a merry voice, as they opened Rachel's door.
"Take off your things and make yourselves at home. The tea will be ready
in about five minutes."
"Hello, Katherine," said Betty, cheerfully, tossing her note-book on the
bed and shaking the snow off her fuzzy gray tam.
"Isn't it nice to come in and find the duties of hostess taken off your
shoulders in this pleasant fashion!" laughed Rachel. "I hope you've
washed the cups," she added, settling herself cozily on the window seat.
"They haven't been dusted for three weeks."
"Indeed I haven't washed them," answered Katherine loftily. "I'm the
hostess. You can be guest, and Betty can be dish-washer."
"Not unless I can wiggle the tea-ball afterward," announced Betty firmly.
Katherine examined a blue and white cup critically. "I think you must be
mistaken, Rachel," she said. "These cups don't need washing. They're
perfectly clean, but I'll dust them off if you insist."
Then there was a grand scramble, in the course of which Betty captured
the tea-ball and the lemons, and Katherine the teakettle, while Rachel
secured two cups and retired from the scene of action to wash them for
Betty and herself. Finally Katherine agreed that Betty might "wiggle the
tea-ball" provided that she--Katherine--should be allowed two pieces of
lemon in every cup; and the three lively damsels settled down into a
sedate group of tea-drinkers.
"Do you know, girls," said Katherine, after they had compared programs
for midyears, and each decided sadly that her particular arrangement of
examinations was a great deal more onerous than the schedules of her
friends,--"Do you know, I was just beginning to like Eleanor Watson, but
I wash my hands of her now."
"Why? What's she done lately?" inquired Rachel.
"Oh, she hasn't done anything in particular," said Katherine. "It's her
manner that I object to. It was bad enough last year, but now--"
Katherine's gesture suggested indescribable insolence.
Betty said nothing. She was thinking of her last interview with Eleanor,
whom she had not seen for more than a casual moment since the day of
Will's dinner, and wondering whether after all Ethel Hale was right about
her, and she was wrong. It did seem amazingly as if Eleanor was giving up
her old friends for the new ones.
"But Katherine," began Rachel soothingly, "you must remember that her
rather dropping us now doesn't really mean much. We should never have
known her at all if we hadn't happened to be in the house with her last
year. It was only chance that threw us together, so there really isn't
any reason why she should keep up the acquaintance unless she wants to."
"Oh, no, not the slightest reason," agreed Katherine, wrathfully. "And on
the same principle let us all proceed to cut Helen Chase Adams. She isn't
exactly our kind. We should never have known her if we hadn't happened to
be in the house with her last year. So let's drop her."
"Oh, you silly child," laughed Rachel. "Of course I don't approve of
Eleanor Watson's way of doing things. I only wanted to explain what is
probably her point of view. I can understand it, but it doesn't follow
that I'm going to adopt it."
"I should hope not," snorted Katherine. "I met my lady this afternoon at
Cuyler's. I was buying molasses candy for this function--by the way, I
forgot to pass it around. Do have some. And she was in there with that
high and mighty senior, Beatrice Egerton, ordering a dinner for to-morrow
night. I had on my green sweater and an old skirt, and I don't suppose I
looked exactly like a Fifth Avenue swell. But that didn't matter; the
lady Eleanor didn't see me."
Rachel laughed merrily. "So that was it," she said. "I knew there was
something personal behind your wrath, and I was waiting for it to come
out. Never mind, K.; Betty and I won't cut you, even in your green
"That's good of you," said Katherine, spearing a thick slice of lemon for
her third cup. "Seriously though, my green sweater aside, I do hate such
"But Eleanor Watson isn't exactly a snob," objected Rachel. "There's Dora
"Dora Carlson!" repeated Katherine, scornfully. "You don't mean that
she's taken you in with that, Rachel? Why, it's nothing but the most
transparent sort of grand-stand play I suppose the lady Eleanor had more
sense than to think that the Dora Carlson episode would take in any one."
Betty had been sitting quietly in her corner of the window seat, not
taking any part in the discussion, because there was nothing that she
cared to say on either side of it. Now she leaned forward suddenly. "Oh,
Katherine, please don't say that," she begged. "Indeed it isn't so! I
know--Eleanor told me herself that she is awfully fond of Dora Carlson,--
that she appreciates the way Dora feels toward her, and means to be
worthy of it if she possibly can."
"Then I'm sure I beg her pardon," said Katherine heartily. "Only--when
did she tell you that, Betty?"
"Oh, back in the fall, just a little while after the sophomore
"I thought so, and I don't doubt that she meant it when she said it. But
she's completely changed since then. Don't you remember how we used to
count on her for all our little reunions? Why, she was quite one of the
old guard for a month or two. But ever since that wonderful story of hers
came out in the 'Argus,' she's gone in for the prominent sophomore act
with such a vengeance--" Katherine stopped suddenly, noticing Betty's
distressed expression. "Oh, well," she said, "there's no use going over
it again. I suppose you and Rachel are right, and I'm wrong."
"Only you do resent the injustice done your green sweater," said Rachel,
hoping to close the discussion with a laugh.
But Katherine was in deadly earnest. "I don't care how the lady Eleanor
treats me and my green sweater," she said, "but there are some people
who've done too much for her--Well, what I mean is, I hope she'll never
go back on her real friends," she finished lamely.
"Well, if one prominent sophomore snubs us, we can always comfort
ourselves with the thought that another is going to love us to the end,"
said Rachel, reaching over a mound of pillows to squeeze Betty's hand.
"Did you know you're a prominent sophomore, Betty?"
"I'm not," said Betty, indignantly. "I wouldn't be such a thing for the
world. I hate the word prominent, the way we use it here."
Katherine exchanged rapid glances with Rachel. "Something personal behind
that, too," she reflected. "If the lady Eleanor dares to go back on
Betty, I shall start out after her scalp."
So it was fortunate that Betty and Eleanor did not meet on their
respective homeward ways until Katherine was well inside the Westcott
House, out of hearing of their colloquy. Between the darkness and the
flying snow the two girls were close together before they recognized each
other. Then Eleanor was hurrying on with some commonplace about "the
beastly weather," when Betty stopped her.
"We were just talking about you," she said, "Rachel and Katherine and I,
over in Rachel's room, wondering why you never meet with the old guard
"Why, I'm busy," said Eleanor, shortly. "Didn't you know that it's less
than a week to midyears?"
"But all this term--" protested Betty, wishing she had said nothing, yet
reluctant now to let the opportunity slip through her hands.
"Well, to tell the truth," broke in Eleanor, impatiently, "our interests
are different, Betty,--they have been from the first. You like to be
friends with everybody. I like to pick and choose. I don't really care
anything about the rest of the Chapin house girls, and I can't see you
without seeing them too."
"But this fall," began Betty.
"Well--the truth is this fall--" said Eleanor, fiercely, "this fall I
forgot who I was and what I was. Now I've come to my senses again." And
without giving Betty time to reply she swept off into the darkness.
Betty wasn't very hungry for dinner. As soon as possible she slipped out
of the noisy dining-room, up to the silence of the deserted third floor.
"What I can't understand," she told the green lizard, "is the way her
voice sounded. It certainly broke just as if she was trying not to cry.
Now, why should that be? Is she sorry to have come to her senses, I
The green lizard had no suggestions to offer, so Betty put on her new
kimono with butterflies in the border and a bewitching pink sash--it was
real Japanese and the envy of all her friends--and prepared to spend the
evening cramming for her history exam, with Nita Reese.
THE "FIRST FOUR"
Midyears were safely over, and schedules for the new term more or less
satisfactorily arranged. It was Saturday night--the gayest in all the
week--and up on the fourth floor of the Belden House Nita Reese was
giving a birthday spread. Until she came to Harding, Nita's birthday had
always been in August. At the beginning of her sophomore year she
announced that she had changed it to February ninth.
"I told the family," explained Nita, "that just because I happened to be
born in August they needn't think they could get out of sending me a
birthday box. Father wanted to know if that let him off from giving me a
sailing party next August, and I said that I'd leave it to him. I knew he
wouldn't miss that sailing party for anything."
Nita disappeared behind a screen, where, on the wash-stand, in lieu of a
buffet, the good things from the birthday box were arranged on tin-box
covers and wooden plates. There were nine china plates for the twelve
guests, and a cup and a sherbet glass apiece, which is an abundance for
any three-course supper, however elaborate.
"Girls, do you realize what's happening to-night?" said Nita, emerging
from behind the screen with a plate of sandwiches in one hand and a tray
of cake in the other. "Here, Betty Wales, have some cake. Or are you
still on salad and sandwiches?"
"I'm still on salad and sandwiches, but I do want that big piece of
chocolate cake before Madeline Ay--Oh, Madeline, aren't you ashamed?
You've made me spill coffee on Nita's Bagdad."
"I can't help that," said Madeline Ayres, composedly. "You were implying
that I'm a pig. I'm not; I'm only devoted to chocolate."
"What's happening to-night, Nita?" demanded Bob, popping up like a Jack-
in-the-box from behind Madeline's back.
"There!" exclaimed Betty, resignedly. "I've spilled it again! Where have
you been, Bob?"
"Oh, I've just been resting back there between the courses," said Bob,
edging herself to the front of the couch and beginning on the nearest
dish of strawberry ice. (The strawberry ice was not, strictly speaking, a
part of the birthday box.) "I feel quite hungry again now. What's to-
"Why, society elections, of course, goosie," answered Christy Mason from
the window where she was cooling a pan of fudge. "Girls, this fudge is
going to be elegant and creamy. Reach me the marsh-mallows, Babe, that's
a dear. Shall I make it all over marsh-mallows, Nita?"
"Yes!" chorused the occupants of the couch, vociferously.
"To hear the animals roar, you wouldn't think they'd been eating steadily
for an hour, would you, Nita?" laughed Christy, sticking in the marsh-
mallows in neat, even rows, like white tents pitched across the creamy
brown field of chocolate.
"It's not that we're hungry, Nita, dear, but we all like it better that
way, because it's newer," explained Alice Waite, who never took a joke
and couldn't bear to have Nita's feelings hurt.
"Hungry!" groaned Rachel, from her corner. "I don't believe I shall ever
be hungry again. Who do you suppose will go in tonight?"
"Go in where, Rachel?" asked Bob, dropping back again on the pillows
behind Madeline and Betty.
"Aren't you a sweet little innocent, Bob Parker?" mocked Babe,
derisively. "As if you hadn't betted me six strawberry ices and three
dinners at Cuyler's that you go into the Dramatic Club to-night, your
"When I get you alone," began Bob, wrath-fully. Then her tone changed
instantly to one of honeyed sweetness. "No," she said, "you're such an
artistic prevaricator that I'll give you one dinner at Cuyler's as your
Christy Mason dropped her pan of fudge, seized a candle from the
chiffonier and held it close to Bob's prostrate form. "Girls," she
shrieked, "it's true. Bob's blushing. She hasn't blushed since the
president spoke to her about spilling salad all over the night watchman."
Then there was a scene of wild commotion. Shouts and laughter drowned out
Bob's angry protests, until in despair she turned her attention to Babe,
who took refuge on the fire-escape and refused to come further in than
the window-seat even when order was partially restored.
"Girls," shouted Katherine Kittredge, as soon as she could make herself
heard, "let's drink to the success of Bob's bet!"
There were clamorous demands for hot coffee, and then the toast was drunk
standing, amid riotous enthusiasm.
"Speech!" called somebody.
"Speech! Speech!" chorused everybody.
"I never bet any such thing," responded Bob, sulkily. "You all know I
didn't--and if I did, it was in fun."
"Never mind, Bob," said Nita, consolingly. "We won't tell any of the
Dramatic Club girls about it. We're all sophomores here, but Madeline
Ayres, and she's as good as a sophomore; so don't worry. You can trust
"What I object to," put in Katherine Kittredge, solemnly, "is the
principle of the thing. It's not true sport to bet on a certainty, Bob.
You know that you're sure to go in to-night, and it's a mean trick to
deprive Babe of her hard-won earnings."
This sally was greeted with shrieks of laughter, for it was a standing
joke with 19-- that Babe was supposed by her adoring mother to be keeping
a French maid at Harding. In October of her freshman year she had packed
the maid off to New York and engaged Emily Davis to do her mending. But
the maid's board and wages were paid unquestioningly by her mother, who
lamented every vacation that she could get no such excellent seamstresses
as her daughter was always able to find at Harding. Meanwhile Babe rented
a riding horse by the term, reveled in dinners at Cuyler's, and stilled
her conscience with the thought that Emily Davis needed the money more
than any maid.
"I wish," said Madeline Ayres, when the tumult had subsided again, "that
you'd explain something to a poor, benighted little freshman. There's
just one thing about Harding that I don't understand. Why should Bob mind
having you know that she hopes she's going into the Dramatic Club?"
"Suppose she doesn't go?" suggested Christy. "Of course there's always a
chance that she won't."
"Seems so nervy, anyhow," muttered Bob, who was still in the sulks.
"I don't see why," persisted Madeline. "When you all say that she's
perfectly certain to go in. But in general, I mean, why will you never
admit that you want a certain thing, or hope to get a certain thing?"
"It is funny, isn't it?" said Rachel. "Wild horses couldn't drag it out
of any junior that she hopes for a place on the 'Argus' board, or the
Senior Play committee."
"Nor out of any sophomore that she hopes to make a society," added
"I suppose," said Babbie, "that it's because nothing is competitive here.
You just take what people think you ought to have. You stand or fall by
public opinion, and of course you are never sure how it will gauge you."
"College men aren't that way," said Katherine. "They talk about such
things, and discuss their chances and agree to help one another along
where they can. And if they lose they never seem to care; they joke about
"But we never admit we've lost, because we never admit we were trying for
anything," put in Nita.
"I like the men's way best then," said Madeline decidedly.
"Let's try it," suggested Christy. "Girls, who of us here do you think
will make Dramatic Club in the first two elections?"
There was an awkward silence, then a general laugh.
"It won't work, you see," said Christy. "Well, of those who aren't here,
Marion Lustig will go in to-night of course,--she's our bright particular
literary star. And what do you think about Eleanor Watson?"
"Wouldn't she be more likely to go into the Clio Club next week?" asked
"Oh, no," objected Christy. "Didn't you know that Beatrice Egerton is
rushing her? And she's the president of the Dramatic Club."
"I don't care," insisted Nita. "I think Eleanor Watson is more the Clio
"That's another thing I want to know about," broke in Madeline Ayres.
"What is the Clio Club kind? You say the Dramatic Club isn't particularly
dramatic nowadays, but just amusing and literary, and the Clio Club is
the same. Why aren't the members the same sort too?"
"They're not, exactly," answered Christy. "I can't describe the
difference, but you'll notice it by the time you're a sophomore. The Clio
girls--oh, they have more executive ability. They're the kind that know
how to run things--all-around, capable, splendid girls. The Dramatic Club
is more for the stunty, talented, artistic sort."
"But Dorothy King is vice-president of the Dramatic Club," objected
"She's the exception."
"Well, I still think," insisted Christy, "that which society a girl goes
into simply depends on where her friends are. Both societies want
executive ability, and they both want people who can write and act and
sing and do parlor stunts. I don't know Eleanor Watson very well, but I
have an idea that after her story in the 'Argus' the Dramatic Club will
be afraid of losing her to Clio, and so they'll take her to-night."
"Oh, I hope so," said Betty Wales under her breath to Madeline.
Later in the evening she told Helen all about the spread.
"It was so exciting," she began.
"How can a spread be exciting?" demanded Helen, sceptically.
"Oh, in lots of ways," responded Betty. "There's excitement about whether
the fudge will be done in time, and whether it will be good, and who's
going to be there, and how much of a box it is. But the most excitement
to-night was about society elections."
"Were they to-night?"
"Dramatic Club's was. It has first choice of the sophomores this year,
you know, and Clio Club has second; and we were guessing who would go in
to-night among the first four."
"Well, you know now, don't you?"
"Know? I should think not," said Betty impressively. "Helen Chase Adams,
haven't you noticed that society elections aren't announced till the next
Monday morning? Don't you remember last year how all that crowd of girls
came up to Mrs. Chapin's after Mary Brooks, and she'd gone down-town to
breakfast with Roberta, and was going to cut chapel; and how we all
rushed down after her, and how I stayed at the Main Street corner, in
case she'd left Cuyler's before the girls got there and come up the back
way? And she did just that, and what a time I had keeping her till the
girls got back!" Betty laughed heartily at the recollection.
"I didn't go down, but I do remember about it," admitted Helen. "Do they
always do it that way?"
"Always, only the four girls who go into each society first--they elect
only four at a time, you know--have about sixty times as much fuss made
over them as the ones who go in later."
"Then you'd better put your part of the room in order to-morrow," said
Helen significantly, glancing at the disorderly pile of books and papers
on Betty's desk, and at the pictures which she had brought back at
Christmas time and which still lay on the floor beside her couch, waiting
for her to find time to hang them.
Betty's glance followed Helen's to the desk and down to the floor. "I'll
hang those pictures this minute," she said, jumping up and rummaging
energetically through her desk drawer. "That is, if I can borrow some
picture wire" she added. "I remember now that mine is all gone. That's
why I've left them on the floor so long. But somebody must have some."
At the door she turned back suddenly. "But, Helen," she said, "I'm not
fixing up for society elections. I shan't go in this time--not for a
long while, if I ever do. And Helen--you know the girls never talk about
going in themselves."
"All right," said Helen submissively. "Who do you think was taken in to-
"Oh, the girls with one big talent. Didn't I tell you last year that
every Harding girl has to find out her one talent before she can amount
to anything? We think Bob will go in; she can do such beautiful
pantomimes, and she's such a prod. and such jolly fun too. Then Marion
Lustig because of her writing. Writing counts more than anything else,
and so I'm hoping for Eleanor Watson. I can't even guess who the fourth
one will be."
All day Sunday Mary Brooks and the other Dramatic Club juniors and
seniors in the Belden House went about wearing a tantalizing, don't-you-
wish-you-knew air, and after dinner when the whole house assembled in the
parlors as usual for coffee and music, they gathered in mysterious little
groups, which instantly dissolved at the approach of curious sophomores.
It seemed to Betty and Nita, interested on account of Eleanor and Bob,
that Monday morning would never come. But it did dawn at last, and after
an unconscionable delay--for the announcement committee went up to
Marion Lustig's first, and she boarded away off on the edge of the
meadows, and then to Emily Davis's, which was half a mile from the
college in quite another direction--the committee and its escort finally
reached the campus, and, gaining recruits at every step, made its
picturesque and musical way to the Westcott House after Bob. At this
point Betty and Nita joined it, and they had the exquisite pleasure of
seeing Bob blush so red that there was no need for a candle this time,
then turn very white, and clinging to the chairman's arm insist that
there must be some blunder--it couldn't be she that they wanted. Finally,
assured that the honor had indeed fallen to her, she broke into a war-
whoop which shook the house to its foundation and brought the matron on
the run to her door.
"Now Mrs. Alison, aren't you proud of your holy terror?" cried Bob in
tremulous, happy tones, holding out her tie with the Dramatic Club pin on
it. And in spite of the lateness of the hour and the wild desire of the
procession to know where it was going next, Mrs. Alison's delight over
the honor done her "holy terror" was well worth waiting to see.
And then--Betty squeezed Nita's hand till it ached. No--yes--they were
going to the Hilton! They weren't stopping on the second floor. Then it
must--oh, it must be Eleanor! And it was.
Margaret Payson was chairman of the announcement committee, but almost
before she could give Eleanor her note of invitation to the society
Beatrice Egerton had pressed forward and fastened her pin on Eleanor's
After seeing Bob's frenzied excitement it was amusing to watch Eleanor
Watson. She was perfectly composed. "Just as if she'd been expecting it,"
said little Alice Waite, who had joined the procession as it passed
through her corridor. "But she was pleased--I never saw her so pleased
before--and didn't it make her look lovely!"
As soon as the pin was safely fastened and the note read, there was
another tumult of congratulations. Then Beatrice Egerton took off the
great bunch of violets she was wearing,--"just till I could bring them
to you," she explained,--and carried Eleanor off to sit among the
seniors at chapel. Just opposite them was Emily Davis, with Dorothy King.
Emily was also wearing violets, and her plain face was almost pretty, it
was so full of happiness.
"Just to think," she whispered to Dorothy, "that you picked out me, when
you could have any one in 19--. I can't realize it!" She glanced at her
shabby coat, made over from Babe's discarded golf cape, and then at
Eleanor Watson's irreproachable blue walking suit and braided toque to
match. "Here all girls are really created free and equal, aren't they,
"Of course. Don't be silly" said Dorothy, with a queer little catch in
her voice. Dorothy King was not at all sentimental, but the splendidly
democratic spirit of her college sometimes brought a lump into her
Only once that morning did the radiant smiles leave Eleanor Watson's
lovely face. That was when Katherine Kittredge, on the way out of chapel,
rallied her about her famous theme.
"Now aren't you glad Miss Raymond got up early that morning?" she said.
It was the first time that any one had referred to the story in
connection with her election to the Dramatic Club. Eleanor frowned and
turned to Beatrice Egerton, who was standing close beside her.
"Bess," she said, pouting, "did you run me in because of that footless
little story? Wasn't it for myself that you wanted me? Do say that it
Miss Egerton smiled her lazy, enigmatical smile, which her admirers
considered the secret of her tremendous popularity. "Of course we wanted
you for yourself," she said, "but that footless little story, as you call
it, is a rather important asset. We expect you to keep on writing
footless little stories, remember."
"How tiresome!" said Eleanor, with a shrug of her shoulders. "That's the
bother of doing anything up here. What you do once, you are expected to
repeat indefinitely. Now my method is to do one thing as well as I can,
and then go on to something else."
"Just do them all as well as you did the story, and we shan't complain,"
said Miss Egerton. "And now, Eleanor, I must be off to Psychology One. Do
you suppose anybody will give a dinner for you to-night?"
"Yes, Miss Egerton," called Jean Eastman, appearing around the corner.
"Kate and I are giving one, and we want you to come, of course. And
Eleanor," she went on, after Miss Egerton had left them, "we want you to
answer to a toast--'My Story and How I Wrote It.' Now be just as clever
and amusing as you can. I thought I wouldn't spring it on you--"
"Jean," Eleanor broke in suddenly, "I won't answer to anything of the
sort. And if you have that story mentioned--even mentioned, remember--to-
night, I shall get up and leave. Give me your word that I shan't hear of
it in any way,--or give up the dinner."
Jean stared in astonishment. "Why certainly, Eleanor," she said, "but I
thought you had given up being so absurd. Is there any one in particular
that you want asked tonight?"
"Dora Carlson," flashed Eleanor, and hurried off, murmuring something
about a nine o'clock recitation at the other end of the main building.
Jean looked after her for a moment, her mouth twisted into a funny
grimace, and then pursued her way to the college library. At the door she
met Betty Wales. "Your face is one big smile," she said.
"Of course," laughed Betty. "Isn't it perfectly splendid about Eleanor
Jean grinned cheerfully. "Considering last year I thought it was more or
less amusing to see the two of them sitting up there together on the
front row at chapel. I wonder if Eleanor remembers any of the remarks she
used to let drop about the genius of 19--. See here, Betty," she added
quickly, "have you any idea why Eleanor is so touchy about that story?
She won't even have it toasted tonight at the supper."
"No," said Betty. "I asked her, but she didn't tell me anything except
that she didn't care for it."
"Well, most people would begin to care for it a little, after it had
pulled them into the Dramatic Club among the first four," said Jean,
opening the library door and tiptoeing over to the anthropological
alcove. There she spent the hour, busily engaged in making out a new list
of toasts, that should avoid all mention of the objectionable story.
"But they must have some point," reflected Jean, sadly, as she ran her
pen through "My Story and How I Wrote It," and "The Rewards of
Literature" and "Our Rising Young Novelist," which she had intended for
herself and Kate Denise.
"Bother Eleanor's tantrums!" muttered Jean, as the ten o'clock gong rang,
and she picked up her books and hurried off to recite a French lesson
that, because of Eleanor's "tantrums," she had not learned.
And for Betty Wales Eleanor's election to the Dramatic Club also brought
disappointment. She had hoped that once Eleanor's ambition was gratified
and all her hard work and careful planning rewarded, the anxious lines
would leave her face and the sweeter, softer expression that she had worn
in September would come back. But though Eleanor professed the greatest
pleasure in the election, it did not seem to make her any less haughty or
capricious, or any better content with life. She still snubbed or
patronized her train of adoring freshmen by turns, according to her mood.
She was still a devoted admirer of Beatrice Egerton, and a member of her
very exclusive set. She received Betty's congratulations just as
cordially as she had every one's else,--it was one of Beatrice's
principles to treat everybody well "up to a certain point,"--but she did
not come to the third floor of the Belden House except on errands.
THE COMPLICATIONS OF LIFE
By the middle of February basket-ball practice was in full swing again.
The class teams had not yet been chosen, but every Wednesday and Saturday
afternoon l9--'s last year's "regulars" and "subs" met in the gymnasium
to play exciting matches. Of course there were some changes in the make-
up of the teams. Two of the "sub" centres and a "regular" home had left
college; the guard who sprained her ankle in the great game of the year
before and whose place Katherine Kittredge had taken in the second half,
was not allowed to risk another such injury; and one or two other players
had lost interest in basket-ball and were devoting their energies to
something else. So there was a chance for outsiders, and Betty Wales, who
had almost "made" the freshman sub-team, was one of the new girls invited
to play in the practice matches.
Helen Adams had cut basket-ball all her freshman year, because Miss
Andrews never called the roll on basket-ball days. Now she could not get
enough of it, nor of regular gym. On Wednesday and Saturday afternoons
there were no classes, so she used to put on her gym. suit and go over to
watch the teams. And if some player failed to appear or was late in
arriving, T. Reed or Betty would suggest calling Helen down to take the
absentee's place. Helen was painfully awkward and not very strong, but
she had acquired T. Reed's habit of slipping under the outstretched arms
of the enemy and T. Reed's fashion of setting her teeth and getting the
ball in spite of opposition; and some of her plays were remarkably
"I believe," Betty said to her one day, as they lay side by side in a
sunny spot on the gym. floor, resting between the halves, "I believe, if
you'd begun last year when the rest of us did, you might have been on one
of the teams yourself."
Helen laughed a pleased little laugh. "Oh, no!" she said. "But I love to
play with you sometimes, and I love to watch Theresa."
"Isn't she a wonder?" said Betty dreamily. "Do you remember that game,
Helen? Wasn't it the most exciting thing? And this year it will be our
turn to win. Bob Parker has seen the picked freshman teams play, and she
thinks they haven't a chance against us."
"I hope you can be on the sub-team, Betty," said Helen.
"And I hope you can write your song for 19-- to sing to its team,"
returned Betty gaily. "You haven't forgotten about our talk the day of
the game, have you, Helen?"
"Oh, no!" said Helen, quickly. Not for worlds would she have let Betty
know how much she counted on that song. She had written another little
verse for her theme class, and that very morning it had come back with
"Good work--charming lilt," scrawled across the margin. So Helen had high
hopes for the song.
Just then the door of the gym. opened, and Lucy Merrifield, the president
of 19--, came in.
"Hello, Lucy," chorused the group of sprawling figures nearest the door.
"You're just in time to see us do up the regular team," called Elizabeth
West, who captained the "subs."
"Thank you," returned Lucy, "but I can't stay to see you do any such
unbecoming thing. I came on an errand to Betty Wales. Isn't she here?"
"Here I am," called Betty, scrambling upright and brushing the hair out
of her eyes.
"I came to tell you that you've been appointed to the Students'
Commission, to serve until Christy Mason gets back," explained Lucy.
"Till Christy gets back?" repeated Betty in bewilderment.
"Yes, she's been called home very suddenly. Her mother is ill, and
Christy is going to keep house and see to the children. She'll be away a
month anyhow and perhaps all this term. And as there are a lot of
important matters coming up just now, we decided that we would better
appoint a substitute on the commission."
"I'm afraid I can't be much help," began Betty, doubtfully.
"Oh, yes, you can," declared Lucy. "Come to the meeting to-morrow at two,
and we'll give you plenty to help about."
"Time's up," called the captain of the regulars, and Lucy ran for the
door, leaving Betty in a state of pleased excitement. Dorothy King was
president of her class this year, and therefore also president of the
Students' Commission. Marion Lawrence was a representative from the
junior class. To be even a temporary member of so august an assembly
seemed to Betty a very great privilege. She was so busy wondering who had
chosen her,--whether Lucy or the whole commission,--and what to-morrow's
meeting would be like, that she deliberately threw the ball twice toward
the wrong basket and never discovered her mistake until Elizabeth West
begged her please to "come to" and help her own side a little just for
On the way home Betty met Miss Ferris. "Come and have tea with me, little
girl," she said.
"Could I, like this?" asked Betty wistfully, pulling back her rain-coat
to show her gym. suit and the tightly braided pig-tails tucked inside.
Miss Ferris laughed. "I shouldn't mind, but some one else might drop in.
It takes me ten minutes to make tea. Now run!"
Exactly nine minutes and a half later. Betty, looking very slender and
stately in a clinging blue gown and a big plumed hat, her cheeks pink
with excitement and her hair blown into fascinating ringlets from her
brisk run across the campus, knocked timidly on Miss Ferris's door.
"Come in," called Miss Ferris. "You're early. The water hasn't boiled."
"It used to take me half an hour to dress, at the very fastest," said
Betty, slipping into a low chair by the fire, where she could watch Miss
Ferris making tea in a fat little silver pot, and pouring it into cups so
thin and beautiful that Betty hardly dared touch hers, and breathed a
deep sigh of relief when it was safely emptied and out of her hands.
Just as she was leaving, she told Miss Ferris about her appointment to
the Students' Commission.
"Well," said Miss Ferris, "that won't be new work for you. You were an
ex-officio member last year."
Betty looked puzzled.
"What you did for Miss Watson was Students' Commission work," explained
Miss Ferris. "And judging by the position Miss Watson seems to be taking
this year, I should call it very good work indeed."
[Illustration: "WELL," SAID MISS FERRIS, "THAT WON'T BE NEW WORK"]
"But you did it, not I," protested Betty.
"I did my part, you did yours" corrected Miss Ferris. "To be successful
nowadays, you know, you must not only work yourself, but you must get
other people to work for you."
"Yes," said Betty, vaguely. Then she laughed. "I'm afraid that I do the
second more than the first, Miss Ferris. My roommate thinks that I get a
great deal too much out of other people. And when I was at home Nan used
to tell me to be more independent and see how I could get along if I were
left on a desert island."
Miss Ferris smiled across the fire at her dainty little guest. "The best
things in the world,--which fortunately isn't a desert island,--come
about by cooperation" she said. "Be independent; think for yourself, of
course, but get all the help you can from other people in carrying out
The dinner-bell began to jangle noisily in the hall and Betty rose
hastily. "I've stayed too long," she said, "but I always do that when I
come to see you. I shall tell my roommate what you said. Do you suppose I
shall ever learn to think up arguments for myself?"
"Of course," said Miss Ferris, encouragingly. "That's one thing you're
here for--to learn to argue and to dress in a hurry and to work on
Students' Commissions. You'll master them all in time. Good-bye."
When Betty got back to the Belden House the bell had rung there too, and
as the girls stood about in the halls and parlors waiting for Mrs. Cass,
the matron, to lead them in to dinner, they were all discussing what Mary
Brooks could mean by a "hair-raising."
"It sounds like a house-raising," said a girl from Nebraska. "I mean the
sort of thing they have away out west, where laborers are scarce and the
whole town turns out to help a man get up the timbers of his house."
"But there's no sense to that kind of a hair-raising," objected the
Nebraskan's roommate, who was from Boston. "I think that Mary has
invented a hair tonic and is going to try it on us before she has it
"I'm sure I hope so," said Madeline Ayres, patting her diminutive twist
of hair tenderly.
"Why, it's some kind of party she's giving for her mother," announced a
stately senior, authoritatively.
"I don't see how that tells what it is, though," said Betty. "Am I
"Yes," explained Helen Adams. "Mary came in while you were out and asked
"But she hasn't said anything about expecting her mother."
At this everybody laughed and Marion Lawrence explained that Mary, being
a very busy person, had a habit of putting away her letters unopened,
until she found time to read them.
"And somehow she thought this was a book-bill from Longstreet's--you know
how near-sighted she is--so she stuck it into her desk until she got her
next month's allowance. But to-day she found some money that she'd put in
her collar-case for safe-keeping and forgotten about; so she got out the
bill to pay it, and it turned out to be a letter from her mother, saying
she was coming up tonight. Mary wouldn't have her know for anything, so
she decided to give a hair-raising to-night, as if she'd planned for it
"But what is it?" demanded Betty.
If Miss Lawrence was in Mary's confidence she had no intention of
betraying it; and there was nothing to do but wait for eight o'clock, the
hour which Mary had mentioned in her invitations. Promptly on the moment
all those bidden to the hair-raising made a rush for Mary's room.
"She hasn't come back from taking dinner with her mother," said Helen.
"Her transom is dark."
But "come in, children," called Mary, sociably, and opening the door just
wide enough to admit one girl at a time she disclosed a room absolutely
dark save for a gleam of light from a Turkish lantern in one corner.
"Goodness!" cried Betty, who went in first. "What am I running into? Oh,
it's a skeleton."
"I'm all mixed up with a snake," added Katherine. "I feel my hair rising
"Girls, I want you to meet my mother," said Mary, briskly.
"Here I am," called a sweet voice from the shadows. "Wouldn't you better
turn on the lights for a moment, daughter?"
"No, indeed," retorted Mary, firmly. "They're nothing to see, dear, I
assure you, but if you insist on seeing them you can all go across to
Laurie's room and come back after you've had a general inspection."
So everybody filed over to Marion Lawrence's room, where it was
discovered that Mary's mother was, as Betty Wales put it, "a perfect
little darling." She was small, like Mary, and she looked so young that
Katherine gravely asked Mary if she was quite sure she wasn't palming off
a sister on them instead of a mother. She entered into all the
absurdities of the hair-raising, which proved to be only a particularly
diverting sort of ghost party, with as much zest as any of the girls, and
her ghost stories were the feature of the evening.
"You see, dear," explained Mary, when the lights were finally turned on
and the hair-raising had resolved itself into a spread, "you see I had a
hair-raising because you tell ghost stories so well. Why, ever since I
read your letter I've been planning how I should show you off--Oh,
mother, it's too good to keep." And Mary regaled her mother with the
story of the neglected book-bill.
"Speaking of lost letters," said Marion Lawrence, "there's a letter for
Frances West over on the zoology bulletin board in Science Hall. It's
been there for two weeks."
"What a funny place for it!" said Mary. "Frances never as much as sticks
her head inside Science Hall. She thinks it's wrong to cut up frogs and
angle-worms. How did it get there, Laurie?"
"Postman dropped it, probably, and somebody who didn't know any better
stuck it up there--the janitor, maybe."
"Perhaps Frances dropped it herself," suggested Madeline Ayres.
Marion shook her head. "Anyhow if she did, she hasn't read it. I noticed
that it hadn't been opened."
"Perhaps it's a letter like Mary's, saying that her mother is coming,"
suggested Helen Adams.
"Guess again. It can't be that, because her mother wouldn't direct a
letter to the editor-in-chief of the 'Argus.'"
"Hear that, Dottie," called Mary Brooks to Dorothy King, who was sitting
on the divan below the Turkish lantern, talking busily with Mrs. Brooks.
"There's a letter for your chief over on the zoology bulletin board.
You'd better stop in and get it for her."
"Isn't it funny," said Rachel Morrison, "that, as well as Frances West is
known in college and as many juniors and seniors as look at that bulletin
board, nobody has thought to take her the letter."
"Why didn't you take it to her, Laurie?" asked Mary severely.
"Oh, because I wanted to see how long it would stop there if I didn't
take it," returned Marion easily. "I'm writing a theme on 'What's
everybody's business is nobody's business,' and I want to get the
psychology right. Oh, Mrs. Brooks," she called, getting up and going over
to the divan, "did you know that Mary had set a fashion up here? Ever
since her 'Rumor' story, we're all racking our brains to see if we can't
get up some psychological experiments that will make Professor Hinsdale
think we're clever too."
"And most of you," said Mary loftily, "just succeed in making your
friends uncomfortable. I hope Frances' letter won't upset her the way
"Oh, I guess it isn't a hair-raiser," said Marion easily. "It's probably
a bill for printer's ink or paper, or whatever they buy for the 'Argus.'
You get it to-morrow, Dottie, and then you can tell us what is in it."
"I will," said Dorothy.
Just as she spoke the twenty-minute-to-ten bell clanged suggestively in
the corridors, and the hair-raising came to an abrupt end.
"I don't think I care much for hair-raisings," said Betty, as she and
Helen made hasty preparations for bed. "I think you have enough to worry
about and be frightened over, without getting up a lot of extra things on
purpose. I can hear that blood-hound panting under the window this very
minute. Isn't Mrs. Brooks a wonderful story-teller?"
"Yes. I didn't suppose you were ever worried or frightened over things,"
"Well, I am," returned Betty. "I'm worrying this very minute about my to-
morrow's recitations. I'd planned to study tonight but how could I hurt
Mary's feelings by not going to the hair-raising? I suppose," went on
Betty, when Helen did not answer, "I suppose you want to ask why I don't
sit up to study? But if I did I should be breaking a rule, and besides,"
concluded Betty, yawning prodigiously, "I am altogether too sleepy to sit
up, so I am just going to sleep and forget all my troubles." And Betty
suited the action to the word.
A few moments later she roused herself. "Life is just full of things to
decide, isn't it, Helen? And so often you can't tell which one is best--
like me going to the hair-raising to-night, or Marion Lawrence and that
"I think she ought to have delivered the letter," said Helen.
"But it was such fun not to," objected Betty. "And probably it was only
an advertisement. Now I'm really going to sleep."
IN THE "ARGUS" SANCTUM
DOROTHY KING hurried down the steps of Science Hall and across the campus
to the main building, carrying Frances West's belated letter in her hand.
She stopped for a moment in Miss Stuart's office to tell her that the
Students' Commission wanted to hold a mass-meeting of the whole college
at the end of the month, and waited while Miss Stuart, who was an
enthusiastic supporter of the commission, obligingly hunted up an
available date for the meeting, and promised to hold it open until the
final arrangements could be perfected. Outside the office door Dorothy
hesitated and looked at her watch. Quarter past four; laboratory work was
over for the afternoon, and there would be ten girls to one copy of
Ward's "Poets" in the library.
"I'll go up there this evening," she decided swiftly, "and now for a
skate before dinner," and she swung off toward the Hilton House to get
her skates and her sweater. As she put out her hand to open the door, she
suddenly noticed that she was still carrying Frances' letter, and gave an
impatient little exclamation. "All out of my way," she thought, "so I
might as well take it back now and get rid of it."
The editorial office of the "Argus" was in the Students' Building, over
behind the gym. As she went, Dorothy congratulated herself that it was
this errand, and not the one to Miss Stuart, which she had forgotten; for
the main building was twice as far away. She wondered idly whether
Frances would be in the "sanctum"; she often spent her free afternoons
there, for the big building, which was used chiefly in the evening for
club meetings, plays, and other social and semi-social functions, was
generally silent and deserted earlier in the day; and the quiet and the
view over Paradise river from the west windows of the sanctum appealed to
the poetic soul of the chief editor. Dorothy, who was a very practical
person herself, had a vast admiration for Frances' dreamy, imaginative
temperament, and enjoyed her work as business manager of the "Argus"
chiefly because it brought her into close contact with Frances; while
Frances in her turn admired Dorothy's executive ability, and depended on
her to soften the hearts of obdurate printers, stir the consciences of
careless assistant editors, and in short to stand as a sort of buffet
between her beloved "Argus" and a careless world. Dorothy hoped that
Frances would be in the sanctum; it would be fun to tell her about the
letter. But if not, all responsibility could be fulfilled by dropping it
and a note of explanation into the editorial mail-box.
But Frances was there, and also Beatrice Egerton, who, as exchange editor
of the "Argus," Dorothy had come to know well and to like for her quick
wit and her daring, piquant ways, while she thoroughly disapproved of her
worldly, self-seeking attitude toward college life.
"Hello, Dottie," called Beatrice, when Dorothy opened the door. "We
thought you weren't coming, Frances and I."
"Why should I be coming?" inquired Dorothy curiously, tossing the letter
into Frances' lap.
"Proof!" exclaimed Beatrice, with a funny little grimace.
Dorothy sank down on the long window seat, which ran across two sides of
the sanctum, with a groan and a gesture of despair. "I entirely forgot,"
she said. "I was going skating. Could it possibly wait till to-morrow?"
Frances West looked helplessly at Beatrice. "I'm sure I don't know," she
said. "You told me that to-day was the time. I always depend on you to
Beatrice laughed gaily. "I'm so glad I happened in," she said. "It's such
a lovely spectacle to see the methodical Dottie King trying to persuade
the poetical and always-behind-time Frances to put off till to-morrow
what she ought to have done day before yesterday. Come, Dottie, take off
your coat and go to work."
"I'm sorry I'm always late," said Frances, sweetly. "I've decided to try
to be on time now that we've got our new rugs and these lovely green
curtains. So I bought a calendar pad and put down my date for reading
proof with you last week, when you first reminded me of it."
Dorothy had followed Beatrice's instruction to take off her coat. Now she
sat down resignedly before the writing-table, pulled a long strip of
printer's proof off the spindle, and dipped her pen in the ink, ready for
work. "How do you happen to be here, Bess?" she asked.
"Came to read my mail," said Beatrice. "Some of the best exchanges are
out about this time in the month. When you didn't come, I tried to
correct proof with Frances, but we couldn't either of us remember the
printers' marks; and our Webster's dictionary, that has them in the back,
got lost in the shuffle of house-cleaning last vacation."
"Then if the dictionary is lost, you must stay," said Dorothy, "because I
can correct proof, but I can't spell, and neither can Frances. Come,
Frances, here's the copy for you to read."
Frances West's voice had a peculiarly charming quality, and her manner of
reading was so absorbed and sympathetic that she never failed to interest
her auditors; so that even the mechanical drudgery of correcting proof
was endurable with her help. The work went on rapidly, Dorothy bending
over the long printers' galleys, adding mysterious little marks here and
there in the wide margins, Frances reading as expressively as though she
were doing her best to entertain Beatrice Egerton, who curled herself up
on the window-seat, listened, made flippant comments, perused her
exchanges when the "Argus" articles did not interest her, and when
appealed to by Dorothy, acted as substitute for the missing Webster's
"Well, that's over," said Dorothy, at last, straightening in her chair
and stretching out her cramped arms over her head. "Next month will be
Laura Dale's turn again. I wonder if she'll do it."
"Poor Dottie!" mimicked Beatrice. "'Could you do it just once more? I
can't seem to learn the marks.' That's what she'll say. You shouldn't be
so capable, Dottie, and then you could go skating afternoons instead of
doing your own work and the assistant business manager's too."
"Oh, I don't mind," said Dorothy, who was really very tired indeed, and
so preferred not to talk about it. "Laura is a great deal of help with
some parts of the work, and I don't blame any one for not wanting to
correct proof--though I don't mind doing it so long as Frances will read
for me. Aren't our new curtains lovely?"
"Such a cool, woodsy green," said Frances.
"Just right for poets to write behind," supplemented Beatrice, who loved
to tease Frances, though in her heart she admired her as much as Dorothy
"Girls, it's long after six," said Dorothy, rising abruptly, "and I must
go. I have an evening's work still before me."
As she picked up her gloves, she noticed Frances' letter still lying
neglected on the window-seat. "Here, Frances," she said, "do just open
this letter, and tell me that it's dreadfully important. I want to bother
Laurie about it. She saw it on the zoology bulletin board last week and
didn't trouble herself to bring it to you."
"Oh, I presume it's nothing," said Frances, dreamily. She was watching
the sunset glowing gold and scarlet between the green draperies.
"Here, Frances," laughed Beatrice, thrusting the letter into her hands.
"Read it by the light of the dying sun, if you prefer that to good green-
shaded electricity. You owe it to Dorothy to take an interest when she
bothered herself to bring it to you, and so got caught and deprived of
her afternoon's fun. Poor Dottie! can't you go skating tomorrow?"
They were animatedly discussing the possibility of Miss Mills's
neglecting to call for a recitation on Ward's "Poets" the next day, when
Frances gave a little exclamation.
"Why, girls," she began, excitedly. "I don't understand. Isn't to-day the
twentieth of February?"
"Yes, dear," said Beatrice. "You knew from that wonderful calendar pad,
Frances disregarded the question. "Then--Why, this letter is dated
February second. Where has it been all the time?"
"I just told you," repeated Dorothy, "that Laurie saw it on the zoology
bulletin board last week. Perhaps it was there a week or two before she
saw it. Is it really important, Frances? Laurie supposed from the
direction that it was just a bill or an advertisement. She'll be very
"Oh, I don't know what it is," declared Frances, in bewilderment. "Read
it," and she held out the letter to Dorothy.
"Read it aloud," suggested Beatrice.
"Yes, do," added Frances. "I haven't any idea what it means."
"'The Quiver' Offices,
"--Fulton St., New York,
"Feb. 2, 19--.
"MISS FRANCES WEST,
"Editor-in-Chief of Harding
"DEAR MADAME:--It always gives me great pleasure to see the merits of
'The Quiver' recognized, particularly in haunts of high culture, like
your alma mater. Nevertheless, you will readily understand that the
little tribute to the genius of one of our contributors, contained in
your December number, which, owing to my prolonged absence from the city,
has just now come under my observation, is, to speak bluntly, deserving
of some return from me. I have no doubt that you will be glad to offer
the proper explanation. If, however, you insist upon leaving the matter
in my hands, I assure you that I shall not mince matters. College honor
is a point about which I am very sensitive. We go to press on the
twentieth inst. Until that time I am
"Well," said Dorothy, folding the letter carefully and putting it back in
its envelope, "what do you make of that, Bess?"
"Nothing," said Beatrice, "nothing at all. Who in the world is Richard
"I don't know. Don't you, Frances?"
Frances shook her head. "But 'The Quiver' is a magazine. I've seen a copy
once or twice."
"Then," said Dorothy, promptly, "Richard Blake must be the editor, or one
"Well, did we say anything about him in the December number?" pursued
Beatrice. "Or anything about his magazine?"
"No," declared Dorothy, "of course not. 'The Quiver' isn't a college
magazine, is it, Frances? It couldn't be on the list of exchanges?"
"Oh, no," said Frances, wearily. "'The Quiver' is a real magazine,
Dorothy. It's new, I think, but I know Miss Raymond considers it very
clever. I saw a copy once in her room."
"Clever or not clever," said Beatrice, calmly, "I'm sure this editor must
be insane. There is absolutely no sense to his letter."
Dorothy unfolded Mr. Richard Blake's missive, read it through once more,
and passed it without comment to Beatrice. Meanwhile Frances was
rummaging through the files of the "Argus."
"Here it is," she said at last. "Didn't he say the January number?"
"No, December," corrected Beatrice, joining-Frances in her search for the
"There," said Frances, at last, reading down the table of contents. "'The
Self-government System at Harding'--he wouldn't be mentioned in that. My
poem is next--he certainly isn't in that. Then that story of Eleanor
Watson's, and an essay on 'Sweetness and Light.'"
"Perhaps he's in that," suggested Dorothy, hopefully. "It sounds as if it
might mean almost anything."
Beatrice Egerton giggled. "You didn't take the course in nineteenth
century essayists, I guess, Dottie. He's not in 'Sweetness and Light,'
unless Richard Blake is an alibi of Matthew Arnold's."
"And he couldn't possibly be in any of these sketches," went on Frances,
anxiously, "nor in the editorials, nor in the alumnae notes."
"Of course not," agreed Beatrice, scornfully. "See here, girls," she
added, referring again to the note, "he doesn't tell us the name of his
contributor--the simpleton! That's what we ought to look for. He says we
printed a tribute to the genius of one of his contributors."
"I have it!" declared Dorothy, pulling the December "Argus" out of
Frances' hands. "The contributor is a member of the faculty, and the
article is spoken of in the faculty notes. That's it, of course."
But diligent search of the faculty notes failed to unearth any item about
an article in "The Quiver."
"Besides," added Beatrice, who had returned to the note once more, "that
wouldn't explain what he says about college honor. And what is this about
'offering the proper explanation'? Are people supposed to explain
"I don't know," said Frances. "I suppose I've made some dreadful blunder,
and he noticed it. And to-day is the twentieth; he evidently wanted an
answer by that time. Do you think I ought to telegraph?"
"No," said Dorothy, after a moment's thought "It wouldn't be any use. If
he went to press--or 'The Quiver' went to press--to-day, it's gone hours
ago. You'd better write him to-night. He'll get your letter in the
morning, and then he'll understand."
"But what am I to write?" asked Frances, helplessly.
"Tell him to study Genung on clearness," suggested Beatrice, flippantly.
"Don't, Beatrice," broke in Dorothy. "This is evidently a serious matter.
I should tell him that you didn't know what he meant by his letter,
Frances, and of course explain why you haven't written before."
"Will you two stay while I write it?" asked Frances. "I should never dare
to take the responsibility alone."
Dorothy sat down on the window-seat in silence, and Beatrice followed her
example. There was no sound in the sanctum but the scratching of Frances'
pen, moving swiftly over the paper. When the brief note was finished, the
editor-in-chief handed it to her colleagues.
"That's all right," said Dorothy, reading it through.
"Infinitely better than his," added Beatrice. "His reminds me of that
verse of Marion Lustig's that was more obscure than Browning--the one we
persuaded you not to print."
"Don't you think," began Dorothy hesitatingly, "that, until we know
exactly what Mr. Richard Blake means, it would be better not to mention
"Not even to the rest of the 'Argus' board?" asked Beatrice, who had been
anticipating the sensation that the story of the mysterious letter would
create. "Dottie," she went on, looking keenly at Dorothy, "I believe you
have another idea about what that note means."
"I know just as little about it as you do," said Dorothy quietly, "but I
think eight girls are too many to keep a secret and--it's Frances'
letter. She must decide."
"I think Dorothy is right," agreed Frances. "I believe that we would
better wait before telling the others. If it's some dreadful blunder that
I have made, perhaps I could correct it if only we three knew of it.
Though I don't know whether that would be quite honest," she added sadly.
Beatrice put her arm around Frances' waist and led her to the door.
"You old dear," she said, "you're so proud of your beloved 'Argus.' I
believe you worry over every word that goes into it."
"And over every s that is upside-down and isn't detected by my eagle
eye," laughed Dorothy, locking the door and carefully hiding the key in
the place where half the college knew it was kept.
It was seven o'clock--no use going home to dinner. Dorothy decided to get
an early start with Ward's "Poets," and to dine later in the evening on
ship's biscuit and a glass of milk. The library was very quiet. She read
busily, concentrating her attention upon the pages before her, oblivious
of her surroundings, forgetful even of the mysterious letter and the
theory, which, despite her declaration to Beatrice Egerton, she had
formed concerning it.
Presently some one tiptoed up behind her and clasped two hands tightly
across her eyes.
"Who is it?" whispered a laughing voice.
"I don't know," answered Dorothy a trifle irritably.
"Did you give it to her?" demanded the voice imperturbably.
"Give what to whom?"
"The letter to Frances West."
"It's Mary Brooks," said Dorothy, pulling away the hands and turning to
find Mary and Marion Lawrence standing behind her chair.
"Aren't you nearly through with that book?" asked Marion.
Dorothy nodded. "Leave me in peace for ten minutes and you may have it."
"Well, tell us first about the letter," demanded Mary. "Was it a hair-
"Oh, no," answered Dorothy calmly. "It was--oh, a note of thanks, or
something of the sort from some magazine that the 'Argus' had spoken of."
"Bother!" said Marion. "That's no good for an ending to my theme."
"No good at all," agreed Dorothy. "I shouldn't use it if I were you."
"I certainly shan't," said Marion. "I can invent a nicer ending than
that. Come, Mary, leave her alone, so that I can have Ward. Oh, dear! I'm
dreadfully disappointed about my theme."
The reply to Mr. Richard Blake, presumably editor of "The Quiver," had
been dispatched on the evening of the twentieth. Two days later Frances,
looking as if she had seen a ghost, stopped Dorothy on her way from
morning chapel to her first recitation.
"Can you come to the sanctum right after lunch?" she asked. "Beatrice can
"Yes," returned Dorothy. "You've got his answer?"
Frances nodded. "And oh, Dorothy, it's just dreadful!"
When Dorothy reached the sanctum that afternoon she found Beatrice and
Frances there before her. Without a word Frances handed her the letter.
"MY DEAR MISS WEST--" it ran:
"Your note is received and the delay in sending it fully explained. I am
sorry you could make nothing of my first letter. I intended to be vague,
for I wanted to test your knowledge of the episode in question; but it
seems I overshot the mark. So let me say, please, since you and your
colleagues evidently do not read 'The Quiver' that a story in your
December number by a Miss Eleanor Watson is practically a copy of one
that appeared in our November issue, which I am sending you under
separate cover. All I ask is that some public acknowledgment of the fact
shall be made, either by you or by me. I have delayed the notice I
intended to insert in our next number, until I hear from you.
"Let me say that I blame neither you nor your associates in the matter.
'The Quiver' is young, and plagiarists will happen.
"Yours very truly,
"Has the magazine come?" asked Dorothy, without exhibiting the least
surprise at Mr. Blake's startling announcement.
"Yes," said Frances. "There must be some dreadful mistake."
"Can't you find the story he means?"
"Yes, but of course Eleanor Watson didn't copy it. No Harding girl would
do such a thing."
"Eleanor Watson is different," said Dorothy.
"You mean you think she did it?" asked Beatrice Egerton. "You don't think
it was a coincidence? Frances knew of something like it happening once,
entirely by chance."
"This wasn't chance," said Dorothy slowly. "Oh, Beatrice--you know
Eleanor Watson better than I--I don't want to be uncharitable. That was
why I didn't tell you girls the other day, when it occurred to me that
this was what Mr. Blake meant. Can't you see that it explains everything?
Don't you remember I told you how queer she was about giving me the
story; and before that, just after she handed it in, she went over to get
"Yes," said Frances eagerly. "I remember. We thought it such a good joke.
Oh, let us go and ask her how it was. She will surely be able to
"But Frances," began Dorothy and stopped, glancing uncertainly at
"Oh, you needn't mind me," said Beatrice calmly. "If this is true, I wash
my hands of Eleanor Watson." She turned to Frances, and her face
softened. "You dear old idealist," she said, pulling Frances down on the
seat beside her. "Can't you see that appealing to Eleanor Watson wouldn't
do at all? Can't you see that if she is mean enough to plagiarize 'The
Quiver's' story, she is probably capable of lying out of it? And how
should we know whether or not she told the truth?"
"Or suppose that she did convince us," said Dorothy gently, "you see
there is still Mr. Blake. I don't believe Eleanor's denial would satisfy
"Well," said Beatrice resignedly, "next to Eleanor Watson herself, I
suppose I am the person who would profit most by having this whole affair
hushed up. It's going to be mighty unpleasant for me, what with my having
put her up for Dramatic Club and all that. But frankly, I don't see what
there is to do but let Mr. Richard Blake go ahead and say what he
pleases. Eleanor Watson will probably leave college. Some people will
believe the story and some won't. Some won't even hear it--'The Quiver'
seems to be a very obscure magazine. And in nine days every one will
forget all about it."
"But Eleanor Watson will never forget," added Frances softly. To her art
was sacred and the idea of stealing it horrible.
There was a silence broken at last by Dorothy.
"Frances," she said, "you're right, you always are. You divine things
that the rest of us have to reason out. This affair is unpleasant for
everybody concerned, but it isn't a vital matter to us or to Mr. Blake.
The only person to be considered is Eleanor Watson. If the matter is made
"It would serve her right, and it might be the best thing in the world
for her," broke in Beatrice, who was growing more angry with Eleanor the
longer she thought of the intimacy between them.
"That," said Dorothy, "is the question we have to decide. I for one am
not at all sure what to think. Being publicly humiliated might be a good
thing for her, or it might ruin her whole life."
"Oh, I can't bear to have people know about it," said Frances, her face
white with horror. "Let us go home now and think it over, and let us be
oh! so careful not even to hint at what has happened. We may have to
confide in some others, but let us not give up the chance of keeping our
secret by telling the wrong people now. And let us meet again tomorrow
"In your room," suggested Beatrice. "This place is too conspicuous."
The three editors crept down the stairs like so many conspirators,
separated with soft good-byes in the lower hall, and went their several
ways, each feeling that the weight of the world rested on her shoulders.
To Beatrice the affair was a personal one, involving her judgment and her
status in the college world; Frances mingled pity for Eleanor with
jealousy for the fair name of the "Argus"; Dorothy was going over the
career of Eleanor Watson since she entered Harding, wondering whether it
would be possible, by any method of treatment, to make her over into a
trustworthy member of the student body, and whether she would ever be
worth to the world what her evil influence had cost her college. All at
once a bitter thought flashed upon Dorothy. She herself was partly
responsible for Eleanor's downfall; for had she not persuaded her,
against her will, to give the story to the "Argus"?
A PROBLEM IN ETHICS
Betty Wales sat in Dorothy King's big wicker easy chair, an expression of
mingled distress and perplexity on her usually merry face. Dorothy had
sent word that she was ill and wanted to see her little friend, and Betty
had hurried over in her first free period, never guessing at the strange
story that Dorothy had summoned her to hear. The story was told now. It
remained only for Betty to decide what she should do about it.
"It's the most annoying thing," Dorothy was saying from the bed where she
lay, pale and listless, among the pillows. "I've heard of girls being ill
from overwork, and I always thought they were good-for-nothings, glad of
an excuse to stay in bed for awhile. But I can't get up, Betty. I tried
hard this morning before the doctor came, and it made me so sick and
faint--you can't imagine. So there was nothing to do but submit when she
insisted upon my going to the infirmary for two weeks."
"I'm so sorry," murmured Betty sympathetically.
"She tried to make me promise not to see any one except the matron before
I was moved," went on Dorothy, "but I told her I must talk to you for
half an hour. I promised on my honor not to keep you longer than that,
and we haven't but ten minutes left. Now won't you decide to go and see
"Oh, I don't know what to decide!" cried Betty in despairing tones. "It's
so dreadful that Eleanor should have done it. That's all I can think of."
"But listen to me, Betty," began Dorothy patiently. "Let me show you just
how matters stand. Frances can't go down to New York alone--you can see
that. She doesn't know the city, and she'd get lost or run over, and ten
to one come home without even remembering to see Mr. Blake. You can't
believe how absent-minded she is, till you've worked with her as I have.
Besides, she is too dreamy and imaginative to convince a man of Mr.
"And Bess Egerton mustn't go; Frances and I are agreed about that. She's
too flighty. She'd be angry if Mr. Blake didn't yield his point
immediately, and say something outrageous to him. Then she'd go off
shopping and come back here in the best of spirits, declaring that there
was nothing to be done because Mr. Blake was 'such a silly' And I can't
"If you only could!" broke in Betty. "Then it would be all right. Isn't
there any chance that you might be able to by the end of next week?"
Dorothy shook her head. "I couldn't get leave, on top of this two weeks'
illness, without telling Miss Stuart exactly why I needed to go, and I
don't want to do that. Miss Raymond knows all about it and approves, and
we don't want to confide in any one else. Besides, I doubt if Mr. Blake
will wait so long."
"Well then, Dorothy, why not write to him?"
Dorothy shook her head again. "We tried that. We wrote one letter, and
when his answer came we tried again, but eight pages was the least we
could get our arguments into. No, it's a case where talking it out is the
only thing to do. You could take him unawares and I'm sure you'd bring
"That's just it," broke in Betty eagerly. "I know you're mistaken,
Dorothy. I couldn't think of a thing to say to him--I never can. It would
be just a waste of time for me to try."
Dorothy took a bulky envelope from under her pillows and held it out to
Betty. "Here," she said. "These are the letters we wrote. We all three
tried. Here are arguments in plenty."
"But I should forget them all when I got there."
"Besides, it would look so queer for me to go, when I'm not on the
'Argus' board, and have nothing to do with the trouble."
"Didn't I tell you why we chose you?" exclaimed Dorothy. "No? I am so
stupid to-day; I put everything the wrong way around. Why, there were two
reasons. One is because you are so fond of Eleanor and understand her so
well. Nobody on the 'Argus' staff, except Beatrice and myself, has more
than a bowing acquaintance with her, whereas you can tell Mr. Blake
exactly what sort of girl she is, and why we want to save her from this
disgrace. The other reason is that, while Christy is away, you are one of
the two sophomores on the Students' Commission; Eleanor is a sophomore
and either you or Lucy Merrifield is the proper person to act in her
interests in a case of this kind. Because you know Eleanor best, we chose
you--and for some other reasons," added Dorothy, truthfully, remembering
the confidence they had all felt in Betty's peculiar combination of
engaging manner and indomitable pluck and perseverance, where a promise
or a friend was concerned.
"Oh, Dorothy!" sighed Betty, feeling herself hopelessly entangled in the
web of Dorothy's logic.
"There is a third reason," went on Dorothy, inexorably, "just between you
and me. Of course you understand that I feel personally to blame about
this trouble. If I hadn't lost my horrid temper and said something
disagreeable to force her hand, Eleanor Watson might never have allowed
the story to be printed and the worst complications would have been
avoided. Now I personally ask you, as the person I can best trust, to go
to Mr. Blake for me. You know Eleanor. You agree with us that it is very
likely to spoil her whole life if this is made public--"
"But, Dorothy, I'm not sure it's right to keep it a secret," broke in
"I believe you will feel sure when you have had a chance to think over
all sides of the question," resumed Dorothy, "and to see how much to
blame I am. Then you are a typical Harding girl, the right sort to
represent the college to Mr. Blake, who seems to be very much interested
in knowing what sort of girl Harding turns out."
"Oh, no!" demurred Betty. "I'm not the right kind at all."
"Besides, you have a way of getting around people and persuading them to
do what you want," concluded Dorothy.
"Never," declared Betty.
Dorothy smiled faintly. "You have the reputation," she said. "Of course I
don't know how you got it; but now that you have it you're bound to live
up to it, you know. And if you don't go, we shall have to risk writing
and I am perfectly certain that no letter will keep Mr. Blake from
publishing his notice next month, whereas I think that if he were to talk
over the matter with you, he might very easily be persuaded to give it
Dorothy lay back on her pillows and closed her eyes. "It does certainly
seem like shirking to be ill just now," she said.
Betty rose hastily and came over to the bed. "Dorothy," she began, "I
must go this minute. You are all tired out. I wish I could promise now,
but I must think it over--whether I can do what you want of me and
whether I ought. I'll tell you what," she went on eagerly, "I can't see
you again, but I'll send you a bunch of violets the first thing in the
morning, and I'll tuck in a note among the flowers, saying what I can do.
And it will be the very best I can do, Dorothy."
"I know it will," said Dorothy. "Don't think that I don't realize how
much we're asking of you."
"I like to be trusted," said Betty, ruefully, "but it seems to me there
are hundreds of girls in college who could do this better than I. Good-
bye--and look out for the violets, Dorothy."
A moment later she opened the door again. "Of course Eleanor doesn't know
that you've found out?"
"No," said Dorothy. "We've told no one but you and Miss Raymond. We
thought it would only complicate matters and hurt her needlessly to tell
her now. I suppose she will have to know eventually, to guard against a
repetition of the trouble, if for no other reason; but we haven't looked
so far ahead as that yet."
It was fortunate that Betty was not called upon to recite in her next
class. Refusing the seat that Bob Parker had saved for her between
herself and Alice Waite, she found a place in the back row where a pillar
protected her from Bob's demonstrations, and leaning her head on her hand
she set herself to work out the problem that Dorothy had given her. But
the shame of Eleanor's act overcame her, as it had in Dorothy's room; she
could not think of anything else. She woke with a start at the end of the
hour to find the girls pushing back their chairs and making their noisy
exit from the room, and to realize that she might as well have learned
something about Napoleon's retreat from Moscow, since she had decided
nothing about her trip to New York.
"I say," said Bob, joining her outside the door, "why are you so
"Headache," returned Betty, laconically, and with some truth.
"Too bad." Owing to the fact that she had never had a headache in her
life, Bob's sympathy was somewhat perfunctory.
"When you have the written lesson to study for, too," mourned Alice.
"Written lesson?" questioned Betty, in dismay.
"Yes. Didn't you hear Professor White giving it out for to-morrow? All of
Napoleon--that's five hundred pages."
Betty gasped. "I suppose he made a lot of new points to-day. I didn't
hear a word."
"Next time," said Bob, severely, "perhaps you'll be willing to sit down
among people who can see that you keep awake."
"Don't tease her," begged Alice. "She must have an awful headache, not to
have heard about the written lesson. What did you think we were all
groaning so about, Betty?"
"I didn't hear that, either," said Betty, meekly. "Will one of you lend
me a notebook?"
Betty could have hugged Helen Adams when immediately after luncheon she
announced that she was going down to study history with T. Reed and
should stay till dinner time. Betty hung a "Busy" sign on her door--the
girls would think that she too was studying history madly--and set
herself to read over the original of Eleanor's story in "The Quiver" that
Dorothy had lent her. It was the same and yet not the same. Plot and
characters had been taken directly from the original, but the phrasing--
Betty knew Eleanor's story almost by heart--was quite different, and a
striking little episode at the end that Miss Raymond had particularly
admired was Eleanor's own.
"I like hers best," thought Betty, stoutly. "I wonder if the resemblance
couldn't have happened by chance. Perhaps she read this story a long
while before and forgot that she had not thought it up herself."
Betty looked at the date of the magazine and then consulted her calendar.
The November "Quiver" had come out just two days before the afternoon of
the barge ride, which had also been "theme afternoon." Betty remembered
because her monthly allowance always came on the third. She had borrowed
her quarter for the ride of Helen and paid her out of the instalment that
arrived the very next morning. That settled it,--and as Dorothy had
pointed out, all Eleanor's seemingly inexplicable queerness about the
story was now explained.
Betty threw the magazine on the table and going to the window gazed
drearily out at the snow-covered campus. The next thing to settle was
whether it were right to help Eleanor to cover up her deceit? Dorothy
felt, from the little she knew of Eleanor, that open disgrace would take
away her last chance of being honest and upright. "She is terribly
sensitive," Dorothy argued, "and if she feels that nice people don't
trust her, she will go as far as she dares to show them that they are
right. Perhaps she can be led, but she certainly can't be driven. She
isn't strong enough to meet disgrace and down it." That might be true,
but there was the mathematics examination of the year before. Miss Hale
had argued as Dorothy did. In the hope of ultimately winning Eleanor by
kindness, she had not let Miss Meredith know that Eleanor had told her an
untruth. For a while afterward Eleanor had been scrupulously honorable,
but now she had done something infinitely more dishonest than the
deception of Miss Meredith. No doubt Dorothy regarded the affair of the
story as a first offense, and Betty could not tell her that it wasn't.
She had been glad enough to help save Eleanor from the consequences of
her foolish bragging, the year before; but saving her from the
consequences of deliberate dishonesty was a different matter. Betty had
been taught to despise cheating in any form, and to avoid the least
suspicion of it with scrupulous care. And now Dorothy wanted her to aid
and abet a--a thief. Betty flushed hotly as she applied the hard name.
All at once the memory of her last interview with Eleanor flashed upon
her. "I was an idiot last fall. Now I have come to my senses--" that was
what she had said. When her voice broke, it must have been because she
was sorry for the change--sorry that the old, shifty, unreliable self had
come back to take the place of the strange new one whose ideals had
proved too hard and too high to live by. The sad, hunted look that
Madeline had spoken of was explained too. Eleanor was sorry. But was she
sorry, as she had been in the case of the mathematics examination, only
because she was afraid of being found out, or did she honestly regret
having taken what was not her own, and used it to gain honors that she
had not earned?
There was another point that Dorothy had not spoken of--perhaps had not
thought of. What about the Dramatic Club election and the other college
honors that had come or would come to Eleanor, one after another, all
because, at the beginning of her sophomore year, she had made a
reputation for brilliant literary work? Eleanor had been right, when she
was a freshman, in insisting that it was the start which counted. Then,
despite her first abject failure, she had compassed the difficult
achievement of a second start. How proud Betty had been of her! And now
all her fair hopes and high ambitions had crumbled to dust and ashes. Was
it right to help her cover up the ruin? Was it fair to girls like Helen
Adams, who worked hard and got no recognition, that Eleanor should get
recognition for work which was not her own?
Anyway, she was not going to New York. Those three editors could choose
some one else. And yet if she refused--oh, it was all dreadful! Betty
flung herself on the couch and buried her face in the pillows. A moment
later the door opened stealthily, and Madeline Ayres stuck her head in.
In spite of her caution, Betty heard her and sat up with a nervous start.
"I hope you weren't asleep," said Madeline, settling herself comfortably
at the other end of the couch. "I didn't mean to wake you; that was why I
came in without knocking."
"I wasn't asleep," returned Betty faintly. "I was just resting."
"You look as if you needed to," said Madeline cheerfully. "Does your head
"Not--not very much," stammered Betty.
"Have you read over all this?" Madeline reached out a long arm for the
life of Napoleon that lay on the table.
"No, hardly any of it," confessed Betty, reddening as she remembered the
But Madeline remarked briskly, "That's good. Neither have I. I don't feel
a bit like cramming, so I shall bluff. When father was studying art in
Paris, he knew a man who had been one of Napoleon's guards at St. Helena.
He was old and lame and half blind and stunningly homely then, and an
artist's model. He used to tell merry tales about what a tiger of a man--"
Madeline stopped short in the act of replacing the life of Napoleon on
the table and stared at Betty in unfeigned admiration.
"Betty Wales," she said at last, "you are certainly a splendid actress. I
never dreamed that you knew."
Betty's eyes followed Madeline's to the table, and then to "The Quiver,"
lying in full view where she had dropped it an hour before. There was one
chance in a thousand that Madeline meant something besides Eleanor's
story, and Betty resolved to make sure.
"Knew what, Madeline?" she asked steadily, trying not to blush but
feeling the tell-tale red spread over her cheeks in spite of all she
It was no use. Madeline picked up the magazine and flipped over the pages
carelessly till she came to Eleanor's story. "That," she said, holding it
out for Betty to see. Their eyes met, and at sight of Betty's frightened,
pleading face, Madeline's hand dropped to her side.
"I beg your pardon," she said quickly. "I didn't mean to hurt you, Betty.
I see now how it is. You didn't know before; you've just found out, and
when I came in you were mourning for your fallen idol. Shall I go?"
Betty stretched out a detaining hand. "No," she said, "tell me,--quick
before Helen comes,--how did you know?"
"Read it in 'The Quiver,' away back last fall, before Miss Watson's story
came out in the 'Argus.' It's been--oh, amusing, you know, to hear people
rave over her wonderful theme."
"Does any one else know?"
"I doubt it. 'The Quiver' isn't on sale up here. Father thinks it's
clever and he sends it to me. I suppose he knows the editor. He's always
knowing the editors of little, no-account magazines and having to sit up
nights to do them cover-designs or something; and then they send him
"But--I mean--you haven't told any one?" stammered Betty.
Madeline shook her head. "It wouldn't make a pretty story, do you think?"
"Madeline"--Betty's voice thrilled with earnestness--"did you ever think
you ought to tell?"
Madeline stared at Betty for a moment in silence. Then her gray eyes
twinkled. "You absurd little Puritan," she said, "is that what you're
bothering your head about? I know you don't want to tell. Why aren't you
satisfied to let matters take their course?"
"Because," Betty hesitated, "because if they take their course,--suppose,
Madeline, that somebody else knows and wants to tell? Ought I to
interfere with that?"
Madeline spread out her hands with a gesture that suggested helpless
resignation. "My dear, how should I know? You see in Bohemia we're all
honest--poor, but honest. We never have anything like this to settle
because we're all too busy enjoying life to have time to envy our
neighbors. But I think"--Madeline paused a minute--"I think if a man
stole a design and got, say a medal at the water-color exhibit, or a
prize at the Salon, I'd let him have it and I'd try to see that he kept
it in a conspicuous place, where he'd be sure to see it every day. I
think the sight of his medal would be his best medicine. If he was
anything of a man, he'd never want another of the same sort, and if he
was all cheat, he'd be found out soon enough without my help. So I'd give
him the benefit of the doubt."