Part 4 out of 4
had a man in it.
"Then why don't you begin?" suggested Betty, and the cousin began with
avidity. Dora had absolutely no literary ability; the spontaneous gaiety
that bubbled up in all that she said and did was entirely lacking in the
stiff, sentimental little character-sketch, but it pleased its reader,
and Betty and Eleanor joined in declaring it very interesting.
"Now, Eleanor," said Betty, "you come next."
Eleanor shook her head. "I'm sorry, but I tore mine up before I knew we
were to read them." She held up the crumpled ball of paper.
"Oh, you can smooth that out," said Betty, noticing Dora's
disappointment. "Here, give it to me."
Eleanor surrendered the paper in silence, and without glancing at the
contents Betty smoothed it out and passed it back.
Eleanor looked around the table. Everybody was waiting. There was no
escape. Resolutely she pulled herself together and plunged in.
"You are the soul of truth and honor and generosity. You never think of
yourself, but are always trying to make other people happy. Your noble
nature is shown in your beautiful--" Eleanor's voice faltered and she
flushed painfully. "I can't go on," she said. "It's so--so--" She stopped
in utter confusion.
Dora had been listening with shining eyes. "Oh, please go on," she
begged. "That's the very one I wrote for you. I didn't plan it a bit, but
I hoped you'd get that one."
The matter might have been adjusted easily enough, if Beatrice, who was
sitting between Betty and Dora, had not turned to Betty with her oracular
smile, and murmured, "A keen sense of irony for one so young, isn't it?"
behind her hand.
Betty flushed in spite of herself and looked up to find Dora staring at
them with wide, startled eyes. She had caught the word irony, and
distinctly remembered the succinct definition that she had learned years
before at school--"saying the opposite of what you mean." She looked at
Eleanor who was struggling to regain her composure and attacked the
situation with simple directness.
"Miss Egerton," she said, "I couldn't avoid overhearing you just now. I
don't see why any one should think I didn't mean what I wrote about
Eleanor. Of course I meant it. You know I did, don't you, Eleanor?"
"Of course you meant it," repeated Eleanor, with an unsteady little
laugh. "If you hadn't, I shouldn't have minded reading it. Please forgive
It was all over in a moment. Before the three strangers had had time to
wonder what the trouble was, Betty had plunged gaily into her fortune.
Nettie followed eagerly, and Beatrice had the grace to bring up the rear.
There was the candy to eat after that and the party broke up with a fair
semblance of mirth. But as she washed up the big pile of sticky dishes,
Dora's face was troubled. What could Miss Egerton have meant? Why should
Eleanor's dearest and most intimate friend have said such a thing? How
could she have thought it?
Eleanor walked home wrapped in a silence which Betty's most vigorous
sallies could not penetrate. Long after Dora had finished her dishes and
gone to bed, she sat in her Morris chair in the dark, wide-awake, every
nerve throbbing painfully. She had failed Dora Carlson, spoiled the party
that the poor child had so counted on, made her Beatrice Egerton's butt
and laughing stock. Dora would never wholly trust her again. She would
wonder what Beatrice had meant. By and by she would guess, and the
friendship that Eleanor had meant should brighten her college course,
would be turned to a bitter memory. Whether or not she ever knew the
whole miserable story would make small difference. She, Eleanor Watson,
had made Dora waste her love on a cheat--a thief; she had made Betty
Wales and Miss Ferris help a cheat.
Eleanor's face softened. Betty had been awfully good to Dora. Perhaps,
after all, she had not been the one to tell Mr. Blake. But Betty's
disappointment was not the worst thing. Betty would make other friends--
find other interests. Dora Carlson was different; she had not the talent
for making many friends, and in losing Eleanor she would lose all she
had. For the first time Eleanor realized how mean and contemptible her
action had been, because it did not concern herself alone, but involved
every one of the people who cared about her--Jim and her father, Dora,
Betty, Miss Ferris. It was a short list; perhaps Jean and Kate Denise
cared a little too. She felt no resentment against Beatrice. There was no
room for it in the press of deeper emotions. Her one idea was that she
must do something to save them all. But what? Creep away like a thief in
the night--let them forget that she had ever been a disgrace to them and
to 19--? Eleanor's pride revolted against such a course, and yet what
else was there to do? She had not even arrived at Betty's half answer to
the problem when she undressed in the silence of the great, sleeping
house and, thoroughly tired with her long vigil, forgot the difficult
tangle until morning.
A MAY-DAY RESOLUTION
The spring had been a late one at Harding, but it had come at last with a
sudden rush and a glare of breathless midsummer heat. The woods of
Paradise were alive with fresh young green, gay with bird songs, sweet
with the smell of growing things. The campus too was bright in its new
livery. The tulips in front of the Hilton House flaunted their scarlet
and gold cups in the sunshine. The great bed of narcissus around the side
entrance of college hall sweetened the air with its delicate perfume, and
out on the back campus the apple-trees, bare and brown only a day or so
before, were wrapped in a soft pink mist that presaged the coming glory
of bud and blossom.
It was there, in the square of dappled sunshine and shadow under the
apple-trees, at once the loveliest and most sequestered spot on the
campus, that the Harding girls were holding a May-day fete. It was a
strictly impromptu affair. Somebody had discovered at breakfast the day
before that to-morrow would be May-day, and somebody else had suggested
that as it was also Saturday, there ought to be some sort of celebration.
A May queen was decreed "too old"; a May masque too much trouble. Then
somebody said, "Let's all just dress up as little girls and roll hoops,"
and the idea met with instant favor. It was passed along at chapel and
morning classes, and at three o'clock the next afternoon the whole
college, its hair in waving curls or tightly braided pig-tails, its
skirts shortened, its waists lengthened and encircled by sashes, had
gathered in the space under the apple-trees, carrying hoops, dolls and
skipping ropes, intent on getting all the fun possible out of being
little once more.
There were all sorts of children there; little country girls with checked
gingham aprons and sunbonnets, demure little Puritan maids with cork-
screw curls and pantalets, sturdy little girls in sailor suits, sweet
little girls in ruffled muslins, tall little girls, all arms and ankles.
There was even a Topsy, gay in yellow calico, and an almond-eyed Japanese
whose long kimono and high-piled hair prevented her taking part in the
active American games of her mates. The taller girls were necessarily
absurd. Some of the smaller ones were surprisingly realistic. And all,
big and little, danced and laughed and squabbled, tripped over their
skipping ropes, pursued their hoops or played with their dolls under the
apple-trees in true "little girl" fashion and with the utmost zest and
Miss Ferris's room at the Hilton House overlooked the apple orchard, and
presently she and Miss Raymond strolled out together to see the fun. They
were greeted with a shout of joyous welcome from a noisy group in the
farthest corner of the lawn, who immediately joined hands and came in a
long, wavering line, "hippity-hopping" to meet them.
"Oh, Miss Ferris," called Dorothy King from one end of the line, "we want
you and Miss Raymond to be judge. Which of us looks the youngest?"
"We've been disputing about it all the afternoon," added Mary Brooks
breathlessly from the middle of the line. "You see we're all dressed
alike in white muslin and blue sashes. Now Miss Raymond, don't I look
lots younger than Dottie?"
"Stand in a row," commanded Miss Ferris laughingly, and the chattering
group straightened out demurely, with much nudging of elbows and planting
of feet on an imaginary line. Miss Raymond and Miss Ferris considered a
moment, and then held a brief consultation.
"We both decide in favor of Betty Wales," announced Miss Ferris. "She
looks about nine and none of the rest of you are under twelve."
"There! What did I tell you!" shrieked Betty gaily, her curls bobbing,
her sash ends flying.
"I protest," called Katherine Kittredge. "Betty doesn't look over twelve
any of the time, and the rest of us look twenty. We've taken off eight
years and she's only dropped five. 'Tain't fair!" and Katherine burst
into a beautiful "little girl" boohoo.
"Don't you wanter hold my dollie?" said Mary Brooks, tendering a
handkerchief puppet to Miss Raymond with a perfect imitation of childish
"Oh, no, come an' tell us a story," begged Babbie, twisting her white
apron into a roll.
"You'd ruther roll hoops, hadn't you?" said Katherine to Miss Ferris,
"Please tie on my hair-ribbon," demanded Bob, who in spite of a much
beruffled dress and a resplendent array of doll and sash-ribbon, looked
exactly as tomboyish as usual.
Miss Ferris and Miss Raymond appeared to be properly amused by all this
nonsense, and Miss Raymond, escorted by a little crowd of her special
admirers, went on to the crest of the hill to see Alice Waiters doll
party, which was being held on the grass at the top of the dust-pan
slope. But Miss Ferris refused all the invitations. She had only come out
for a moment, she said, and must go straight back to her work.
Betty and Mary Brooks walked over to the Hilton House with her. When she
had gone in Betty seized Mary's hand and pulled her around the corner of
the house. "Let's trill up to Eleanor," she said. "I don't think she's
been out at all."
Mary looked longingly back at the May party. "I believe--yes, they've
found a hurdy-gurdy, Betty. What's the use of bothering if she doesn't
know enough to come down?"
"Just a minute," pleaded Betty. "Here she is. Oh, Eleanor, come out and
watch, even if you haven't dressed up. It's piles of fun."
"Is it?" said Eleanor uncertainly, touched by Betty's constant
thoughtfulness. "Well, perhaps I will come later. I must finish a letter
"Finish a letter," echoed Mary, "with that hurdy-gurdy going! I admire
your concentration. Betty, truly I can't stand it another minute. I'm
"All right. Good-bye, Eleanor. Hurry up and come," called Betty, flying
after Mary down the path.
Eleanor Watson looked after them for a moment and then with a little
despairing sigh sat down again at her desk. She was writing to Jim. It
was almost a month since she had sent off her last letter to him and yet
there seemed to be nothing to say. She added a line or two, dropped her
pen and went back to the window. The girls were dancing to the music of
the hurdy-gurdy. Alice Waite was standing on the edge of the crowd,
hugging a huge rag-doll in her arms as if it was her dearest treasure.
Eleanor shrugged her shoulders impatiently. The whole affair was
perfectly absurd. She had told Alice Waite so at luncheon, in her
haughtiest manner. She picked up a book from the table and began to read,
but in spite of her determination to ignore it, her thoughts would wander
to the pretty picture outside her window. The shouts and laughter, the
gay babel of talk with the undertone of droning music rang in her ears.
She slammed down her window, but still she could hear them.
What a good time they were having! Yes, they were absurd, with the
absurdity that belongs to youth--happy, light-hearted, inconsequent
youth. Eleanor Watson felt that she had left that sort of thing far
behind her. Before the summer when Judge Watson had brought home a gay
young wife to take his daughter's place at the head of his household,
before the night on the river when she had seen herself as Harding
college saw her, before the Indian summer afternoon when she had fought
and lost her battle on the stairway of the main building,--before those
crises she could have been a happy little girl with the rest of them, but
not now. Her heart was full of bitter, passionate envy. How easy life was
for them, while for her it seemed to grow harder and more impossible
every day. In the week that had passed since the sugaring-off she had
seen Dora once, and she had been more hurt by the restraint and
embarrassment that the child could not hide than by all that had gone
before. How was she to win back Dora's confidence and change Betty's pity
She could not stand that music another minute. She would go for a long
walk--far enough at least to escape from hurdy-gurdies and chattering
girls. She got her hat, pulled on a light silk coat, for in spite of the
unseasonable heat the late afternoon would be cool, and hurried down-
stairs. Hastening through the lower hall she almost ran into Miss Ferris,
the last person she wanted to meet.
"My dear," Miss Ferris cut short her apology, "we evidently have too much
to think about, both of us." She looked at Eleanor keenly." Why aren't
you out being a little girl with the rest of them?" she asked.
"I didn't feel like it, Miss Ferris," said Eleanor, turning away from the
searching gray eyes, "I was going for a walk instead."
"Then"--Miss Ferris hesitated--"may I come too, or don't you want me?"
For an astute person Miss Ferris developed all at once an amazing
density. She did not seem to notice the ungracious stiffness of Eleanor's
"Good!" she cried enthusiastically, running off like a girl to get ready.
Eleanor waited, her face set in hard lines of resentful endurance. She
could not openly insult Miss Ferris, who had been kindness itself to her
all the year, but she would be as cold and offish as she pleased.
"Now which way shall we go?" asked Miss Ferris eagerly as they started
"It makes no difference to me, Miss Ferris." Eleanor's tone was frigidly
"Then suppose we go to Paradise. It's always lovely there."
Almost in silence they climbed down the steep slope that leads to the
water path, crossed the sunny stretch of meadow land and came out into
the dim, silent wood beyond. Here the path widened and Miss Ferris, who
had led the way, waited for Eleanor to come up with her.
"Isn't it beautiful?" she said with a little catch in her voice. "There's
nothing quite like the woods in spring, is there? Oh, I'm so glad I ran
"Ran away?" questioned Eleanor.
"Yes, from my work and my worries and myself out into this big,
beautiful, new world. Doesn't it make you wish you could send out fresh
shoots and blossoms yourself, and help make the world glad?"
"I'm afraid not," said Eleanor coldly, and again she felt the gray eyes,
keen and yet very kindly, fastened on her face.
A turn in the path brought the end of the grove into view. "Oh, dear!"
exclaimed Miss Ferris sadly. "I'd forgotten that Paradise was so very
small. Let's go back to that big pine-tree with the great gnarled roots
and sit down by the water and forget that we aren't lost in a lovely
Eleanor followed her in silence and they found seats on the roots of the
big tree, Eleanor choosing one as far as she dared from her companion.
"And now," said Miss Ferris, as soon as they were settled, "tell me all
"About what?" inquired Eleanor steadily.
"What you were running away from."
Eleanor flushed angrily. "Miss Ferris, did any one ask you to--"
"No," said Miss Ferris quickly. "No one told me that you were in trouble.
I wish some one had. I'm afraid I've been very blind. I've let you worry
yourself almost ill over something and never asked you if I could help.
I've been so busy being proud of you this year that I've never even
noticed how tired and worn out you were getting."
"Proud!" repeated Eleanor, scornfully.
"Yes," said Miss Ferris, firmly, "proud. You've made a splendid record,
Miss Watson,--a remarkable record, considering last year."
"Please don't. You wouldn't say that if you understood."
Miss Ferris looked puzzled. "Don't tell me anything that you'd rather
not," she said, "but there is one thing that a friend always wants to
know. Do you see your way out, Miss Watson?"
"There isn't any way out."
"Oh, but I think there is always one somewhere," said Miss Ferris,
brightly. "You're quite sure we couldn't find it between us?"
"If you ever change your mind--"
"Thank you," said Eleanor, curtly.
There was a little silence. "We runaways mustn't be gone too long. Have
you any idea what time it is?" asked Miss Ferris.
Eleanor did not answer, and Miss Ferris looked up to find her crying
softly, her face hidden in one hand, her shoulders shaking with
suppressed sobs. For a moment Miss Ferris watched her without speaking.
Then she moved nearer and stretched out her hand to take Eleanor's free
"I'm very, very sorry," she said kindly. "I wish I could have helped."
[Illustration: ELEANOR DID NOT ANSWER]
To her surprise Eleanor's sobs ceased suddenly. "I'd rather tell any one
else," she said wearily. "I hate to have you despise me, Miss Ferris."
For answer Miss Ferris only gave the hand she held a soft, friendly
Then it came out--the sad, shameful story in a fierce, scornful torrent
of words. When it was told, Eleanor lifted her head and faced Miss Ferris
proudly. "Now you know." she said. "Now you can see that I was right--
that there isn't any way out."
Miss Ferris waited a moment. "Miss Watson," she said at last, "I can't
feel quite as you do about it. I think that if you honestly regret what
you did, if you are bound to live it down, if you know that in all your
life long you are never going to do anything of the sort again,--never
going to want anything badly enough to play false for it,--why then the
way out is perfectly plain. That is the way out--to let this time teach
you never to do anything of the sort again."
Eleanor shook her head hopelessly. "But don't you see that I can't put it
behind me--that I can't live it down, as you say. The girls won't let me
forget that I was taken into Dramatic Club the first time. They won't let
me forget that I am the only sophomore who is practically sure of a place
on the 'Argus' board. I tried--" Eleanor gave a pitiful little history of
her efforts to establish her literary reputation on a fair basis with the
song and the story.
"I see," said Miss Ferris, thoughtfully. "Miss Watson, if I understand
you correctly, you find yourself in the position of a man who, having
stolen a precious stone, repents and strains every nerve to pay for his
treasure. But as he is commonly supposed to be the lawful owner of the
stone, his neighbors naturally resent his eagerness to gain more riches
and consider him grasping. It's going to be very hard for you to earn
that stone, isn't it?"
"The thing to do," said Eleanor with quick decision, "is to give it
Miss Ferris waited.
"I don't know that you will believe me," Eleanor went on after a minute,
"because it seems so unlikely; but this is the first time I ever thought
of resigning from Dramatic Club."
"You must remember," said Miss Ferris, quietly, "that if you should
resign now, you would never be voted into the society again, no matter
how much your work might deserve recognition."
"Yes," said Eleanor.
"And that so unusual a proceeding will create comment. People who don't
understand will be likely to say unpleasant things."
"I don't believe I should mind--much," said Eleanor, unsteadily. "It's
the people who do understand that I care about--and myself. I want to
feel that I've done a little something to repair damages. Of course this
won't make things just right. Some other girl in 19-- ought to have been
in the first four, but it will be something, won't it?"
"Yes," said Miss Ferris, soberly. "I should say it would be a great
The walk back through the green aisle of wood and thicket was almost as
silent as the walk out had been, but there was a new spring in Eleanor's
step and an expression of resolute relief on her face that had not been
there an hour before.
As they turned into the campus Eleanor broke silence. "Miss Ferris, if
the man should return the stone, do you think he ought to confess to
having stolen it?"
Miss Ferris looked up at the orchard on the hill where the girls were
dispersing with much talk and laughter, with gay good-byes and careless
snatches of song, and then back to the girl beside her. "No," she said at
last. "If we were all old in the ways of this world and wise and kind
enough, it might do, but not now, I think. I agree with the girls who
have been keeping your secret. I believe you can accomplish more for
others and for yourself, in the large sense, by stating no reason for
your action. I know we can trust you."
"Thank you," said Eleanor. Then all at once a strong revulsion of feeling
overcame her. "But I haven't promised to resign. I don't believe I can do
it. Think what it will mean to drop out of things--to be thought queerer
"Caught red-handed!" cried a mocking voice behind them, and three
stealthy figures bounded out from a tangle of shrubbery. Betty, Madeline
and Mary Brooks had come down the hill by the back path and, making a
detour to leave Rachel at the gate nearest her "little white house round
the corner," had discovered the truants and stolen upon them unaware.
"We're sorry you both had so much to do," said Betty, demurely.
"And that you don't appreciate May parties," added Mary.
"And haven't a proper feeling for hurdy-gurdies," finished Madeline.
"Ah, but you can't tell what deep philosophical problems we may have been
working out answers for down in Paradise," said Miss Ferris, playfully.
Betty slipped a soft arm around Eleanor's waist. "I'd rather go for a
walk with her than to any May party that was ever invented," she
whispered. "Isn't she just splendid?"
"Yes," agreed Eleanor, solemnly, "so splendid that I guess I can't live
up to her, Betty."
"Nonsense! That's the very reason why she is splendid--that she makes
people live up to her, whether they can or not."
And then, feeling that she was treading on delicate ground, Betty hastily
changed the subject.
"I wonder," she asked the green lizard that night, "I wonder if she could
have been telling Miss Ferris about it, and if they were talking it over
when we three big blunderers rushed up to them. Oh, dear!"
Then she added aloud to Helen, who was vigorously doing breathing
exercises before her mirror, "I guess I'll go and see Mary Brooks. I feel
like being amused."
Helen let her breath out with a convulsive gasp. "I saw her go out," she
said. "She went right after supper."
"Then," said Betty, decidedly, "you've got to stop breathing and amuse me
TRIUMPHS AND TROUBLES
"Aren't you going to have any breakfast, Betty?" Helen Chase Adams coming
up from her own hasty Monday morning repast, paused in the door to stare
at her roommate, who stood in a cleared space in the middle of the floor
with diaphanous clouds of beflowered dimity floating about her feet.
"Breakfast!" repeated Betty, mournfully. "It just struck eight, didn't
it? I don't know how I'm going to have any now unless I cut chapel and go
down town for it. On Mondays I have classes all the morning long, and I
haven't half studied anything either, because of that hateful May party."
"Then why did you begin on your dress?" inquired Helen with annoying
"Helen," said Betty, tragically, "I haven't a single muslin to my name,
since I tore my new one and the laundry tore my old one, and I thought if
I could only get this hung then I could be putting in the tucks at odd
minutes, when people come in, you know. I didn't think it would take a
minute and I've been half an hour just looking at it."
"Isn't it rather long?" asked Helen, with a critical glance at the filmy
pile on the floor.
"Why, that's the tucks," explained Betty, impatiently. "And the only
reason I had tucks instead of ruffles was because I thought they'd be
easier. Shouldn't you have thought tucks would be easier, Helen?"
"I shouldn't have known."
"Well, I guess they're both bad enough," agreed Betty, gloomily. "I was
foolish to try to make a dress, but I thought if Nita and the B's could,
I could. The waist wasn't any trouble, because Emily Davis helped me, but
it isn't much use without a skirt."
"Let me know if I can do anything," said Helen, politely, opening the
volume of Elizabethan lyrics which had succeeded "The Canterbury Tales"
as pabulum for the class in English Literature II.
Betty kicked at the enveloping cloud savagely. "If only it would stay
down somewhere, so I could tell where the bottom ought to be." She gave a
little cry of triumph,--"I have it!" and reaching over to her bookshelves
she began dropping books in an even circle around her feet. An instant
later there was a crash and the thud of falling books.
"There!" said Betty, resignedly. "That bookcase has come to pieces again.
It's as toppley on its legs as a ten-cent doll. Never mind, Helen. I can
reach them beautifully now and I will truly pick them all up afterward."
She dropped a Solid Geometry beside a "Greene's History of the English
People," and stooped gingerly down to move "Alice in Wonderland" a trifle
to one side, so that it should close the circle.
Then she looked doubtfully at Helen, who was again deep in her lyrics.
"Helen," she said at last, "would you mind awfully if I asked you to put
in some pins for me? If I stoop down to put them in myself, the books
move and I can't tell where the pins ought to go."
Helen had just put in the last pin with painful deliberation, and was
crawling around her necessarily immovable model to see that she had made
no mistakes, when the door opened with a flourish and Mary Brooks
"What in the world!" she began, blinking near-sightedly at Betty in her
circle of books, at the ruins of the "toppley" bookcase lying in a
confused heap beside her, and at Helen, red and disheveled, readjusting
pins. Then she gave a shriek of delight and rushing upon Betty fastened
something to her shirt-waist.
"Get up!" she commanded Helen. "Hurry now, or you'll certainly be
In a twinkling the room was full of girls, shrieking, laughing, dancing,
tumbling over the books, sinking back on Betty's couch in convulsions of
mirth at the absurd spectacle she presented and getting up to charge into
the vortex of the mob and hug her frantically or shake her hand until it
ached. It was fully five minutes before Betty could extricate herself
from their midst, and with her trailing draperies limp and bedraggled
over one arm, make her way to Helen, who was standing by herself in a
corner, quietly enjoying the fun.
"Helen," she cried, catching the demure little figure in her arms,
"Helen, just think of it! I'm in Dramatic Club. Oh, Helen Chase Adams,
how did it ever happen?"
The room cleared out gradually after that, and the nicest part, Betty
thought, was having the people you liked best tell you in intelligible
English and comparative quiet how very glad they were.
"I never in all my life saw anybody look so funny as you did when we came
in," said Mary Brooks at last. "What were you doing, anyway?"
"Hanging a skirt," explained Betty, with great dignity.
"Was it going to have a court train all the way around?" inquired Mary.
"Tell her, Helen," commanded Betty.
"That was tucks, Mary," repeated Helen, obediently, and then everybody
Under cover of the mirth Betty sought out Dorothy. "Where's Eleanor?" she
"She went off for Sunday with Polly Eastman," Dorothy explained. "And
Betty, she's a trump after all. She--but I think perhaps she'd rather
tell you herself."
"Betty," broke in Nita Reese, "you must hurry and get dressed. You'll
have to appear at chapel, if you never get that skirt hung."
"Yes," said Betty, meekly.
"And I'll go and bribe the new maid, who hasn't learned the rules yet, to
send you up some breakfast," put in Madeline, the watchful.
Nita went off to make her bed and Dorothy to see Mary's prom. dress which
had just been sent on from home. Presently the new maid appeared with
toast and coffee and regrets that "the eggs was out, miss," and Betty sat
down at her desk to eat, while Helen, the Elizabethan lyrics quite
forgotten, rocked happily beside her.
"Helen," said Betty, a spoonful of hot coffee held aloft in one hand,
consternation hiding her dimples, "what in the world shall I do? I told
you I hadn't studied anything, and I can't flunk now."
"Oh, they won't call on you to-day," said Helen hopefully, counting the
Dramatic Club pins that made Betty's shirt-waist look like a small
section of a jeweler's window.
"Aren't they pretty?" said Betty, touching them lovingly. "I hope the
girls know which is which, because I don't. The one with the pearl gone
is Bob's, of course, and Dorothy's is marked on the back, and that's
Mary's, because she always pins it on wrong side up. One of the others is
Christy's, and one is that sweet Miss West's--she writes poetry, you
know, and is on the 'Argus.' Wasn't it lovely of her to pin it on me?"
"I should think anybody would be glad to have you wear their pin," said
Helen loyally, if ungrammatically.
"But to think the society wanted me!" said Betty in awe-struck tones.
"Helen, you know they never do take a person unless she amounts to
something, now do they? But what in the world do I amount to?"
"Does being an all-around girl count?" asked Helen. "Because the senior
that is such a friend of Eleanor Watson's said you were that, and that's
what you wanted to be, isn't it? But I think myself," she added shyly,
"that your one talent, that we used to talk about last year, you know, is
being nice to everybody."
The journey to chapel was a triumphal procession. The girls said such
pleasant things. Could they possibly be true, Betty wondered. Nan would
be pleased to know that she was somebody at last, even if she had missed
the team both years, and was always being mistaken for a freshman.
Sitting beside Dorothy, with the eight pins on her shirtwaist, and a
guilty consciousness that Miss Mills, who taught "Lit. II" was staring at
them from the faculty row, Betty resolved that she was going to be
different--to keep her room in order, not to do ridiculous things at
ridiculous times, and always to study Monday's lessons.
"I have tried harder lately," she thought, but it was reassuring outside
chapel to have Miss Mills stop to shake hands and Miss Hale say something
about being glad that Betty had turned out a thoroughly good student.
Mary Brooks said the same thing. "It's funny, Betty, how your innocent,
baby airs belie you. If we'd guessed what a splendid record you'd made
this year, we'd have taken you in even sooner."
Wherefore Betty was glad that she had looked up all the history
references and stayed at home from the Westcott House dance to write a
zoology report that Professor Lawrence himself had called excellent, and
done her best with the "Canterbury Tales."
"I have done better than I used to last year," she thought happily, "but
it wasn't for this, not one bit. It was because a person is ashamed not
to do her best up here."
"Will you take a few notes, please?" said Miss Mills in crisp,
businesslike tones, and Betty woke up to the fact that she had not
answered to her name in the roll.
"She saw you, though," whispered Christy, "and she was properly amused."
Miss Mills had finished her lecture and the class in "Lit. II" was making
its leisurely exit, when Jean Eastman caught up with Betty.
"Glad you've gone into the great and only," she said with a hearty hand-
shake. "And what do you think about the Lady Eleanor's latest escapade?"
"I don't know what you mean, Jean," said Betty quickly, remembering
Dorothy's hint, and wondering why Eleanor hadn't come to chapel, since
Polly was there, and she and Eleanor would surely have come back
"Why, resigning from Dramatic Club, of course. Didn't she consult you
"Jean, do you mean that Eleanor--has resigned--from Dramatic Club?"
Pleasure and bewilderment struggled for the mastery of Betty's face.
"Yes," said Jean carelessly. "Funny you hadn't heard of it, because it's
the talk of the whole college. She sent a note in Saturday night, it
seems, but nobody outside heard of it till this morning, and now we're
all speculating over the whys and wherefores. The Clio girls say that if
she did it because she thought she'd rather go into that, she will be
doomed to everlasting disappointment. For my part I don't think that washer
reason." Jean's tone hinted of deep mysteries.
"Of course not," said Betty indignantly. "Can't they see, Jean, that a
girl has got to have a big, splendid reason for doing a thing like that?"
"A big reason all right, but I don't know about the splendor," returned
Jean cheerfully, shouldering her way across the stream of girls in the
hall to join Beatrice Egerton.
To Jean's disappointment Beatrice had nothing to say about the
resignation, except that it was Eleanor's own affair and that all the
talk about it was utter nonsense. Then Jean, warming to her work,
ventured a direct attack.
"But Miss Egerton, wasn't there something queer about that story of
Eleanor's--the one that got her in? You were going to tell me once, but
you never did."
"I was going to tell you once, but I never did?" repeated Beatrice with
an extreme affability which those who knew her better than Jean would
have recognized as dangerous. "Go and ask Eleanor Watson that question if
you care to, Miss Eastman. I admire her far too much to wish to discuss
her private affairs with you. Thank you, I should like to go to your
house-play, but I have another engagement. The night isn't set? But
really, I'm so busy just now I can't promise, you know."
Beatrice Egerton had not spent four years at Harding College for nothing.
She was incapable of heroism herself, but she could appreciate certain
types of it in others, and she was bitterly ashamed of the part she had
played in Eleanor's affairs.
"Miss Wales," she said an hour later, when her path from class to class
crossed with Betty's, "where is Eleanor? I can't wait another minute to
Betty explained that Eleanor had not appeared at chapel or morning
"Then I suppose," said Beatrice impulsively, "that I am one of the people
she's trying to avoid. Go and see her the first chance you have, Miss
Wales, and tell her that I admire her grit--and that I'm too much ashamed
of myself to come and say so. Now don't forget. Did you ever see such
duds as the pickle heiress wears? Perfect rags!"
The mocking, insolent Beatrice was back again, the more debonnaire for
the effort that her confession had cost.
Betty meditated cutting her eleven o'clock class, decided that with those
eight pins on it would never do, and tried not to be glad that a severe
headache prevented Mademoiselle from meeting her French division at
twelve. She walked down to the Hilton House with a chattering little
freshman, one of Polly Eastman's chums and a devoted admirer of
"It's too bad that Eleanor Watson felt she ought to give up Dramatic
Club, isn't it?" said the girl. "Some of the girls think it was an
awfully queer thing to do, but I think it's fine to put your work first
when you don't feel strong enough to do everything."
"Yes, indeed," agreed Betty cordially, glad to be able to meet her on her
"Polly is afraid," volunteered the little freshman, "that Eleanor is
going to break down. She's had to drop themes, too, you know. Polly said
they almost missed their train Saturday night because Eleanor would wait
to write to Miss Raymond about it, when anybody could see that Monday
would have done just as well. And she was so tired that she cried while
she was writing the note."
Betty shook off her loquacious companion by stopping on the second floor
to see a girl who was sure to be out, and went on up the back stairway to
There was no answer to her knock, and after a second trial she
deliberately opened the door and went in. Eleanor lay in a forlorn
disheveled little heap on her couch. Her cheeks were flushed with crying,
her eyes rimmed with dark circles that made them look bigger and brighter
"Oh, I thought the door was locked," she cried, when Betty appeared.
"But luckily for me it wasn't." Betty took her up brightly, dropping
sociably down to the couch beside her. "You dear old Eleanor," she went
on quickly, "I've come to tell you that Dorothy thinks you're a trump and
Beatrice Egerton thinks you're a brick and I'm so proud of you I don't
know what to do. There now!"
"Oh, Betty, you can't be, after everything." Eleanor shook off the
clinging arms and sat up among the pillows. "Listen," she commanded. "It
isn't fair for me to take anything from you after what I've thought. I
had a letter from Mr. Blake this morning. He has been very nice to me
about the story, Betty. And he said he felt that he ought to tell me what
good friends I had here. So now I know all about it, but oh, Betty! I'd
thought such horrid things--"
"Never mind that now," said Betty. "Please don't tell me. It would only
hurt both of us, and it wouldn't be any use that I can see."
[Illustration: "NEVER MIND THAT NOW," SAID BETTY]
"I'm a coward, too," Eleanor went on steadily. "I was afraid to see
Beatrice, and now I'm afraid to see Jean and all the rest of them. Oh,
Betty, I can't bear to have people think I'm a freak. If I could take
those two notes back I would this minute. I hate giving things up. There,
now you know just how mean I am."
"No," said Betty, gently, "I only know how tired you are and how much you
needed some one to come in and tell you that we are all ready to stand by
Eleanor waited a minute before she answered. "Betty," she said at last,
an uncertain little smile fluttering about her mouth, "shall you be glad
when you've got me through college?" Then she straightened with sudden
energy. "This is your day, Betty,"--she pointed to the pins,--"and I
won't spoil another minute of it. Of course there isn't any use in hiding
up here. I promise to go down to lunch and to take what's coming to me,
and do the best I can. Now run and let the rest of the college
"And if the Chapin house girls should have a spread to-night over at
Rachel's--" began Betty, doubtfully.
"I'll come. I'll even be the life of the party. Only you're not to worry
about me one instant longer."
Eleanor kept her word to the letter for the rest of the day, but the
weeks that followed were necessarily full of ups and downs, of petty
humiliations and bitter discouragements, and Betty uncomplainingly shared
them all. The editors did what little they could, and Madeline and Miss
Ferris and Katherine and Rachel helped without understanding anything
except that Betty wanted them to; but the brunt of it all fell on her.
"I can't bother Miss Ferris with my blues," said Eleanor one afternoon,
"and I know I oughtn't to bother you with them."
"Nonsense!" laughed Betty. "I like being bothered," and did not mention
that she had given up the golf tournament because the practice would have
interfered with her position as Eleanor's confidante.
There were nice things to share too. Miss Raymond wrote a prompt and
cordial answer to Eleanor's note about the theme course. "After your
action of last week, I see no reason why you should not continue in my
classes on the old, pleasant footing. Please don't deprive me of the
privilege of seeing your work."
There was a note from the Dramatic Club too. Dorothy had managed to get
herself and Beatrice and Frances made a special committee to consider the
resignation--the first in the annals of the society,--and they decided to
accept it for one year from its date. After that, they said, they saw no
reason "to deprive the society of a valued member."
Betty was delighted, but Eleanor shook her head. "I may not have earned
it even then," she said gloomily.
"Leave it to Miss Ferris," suggested Betty. "She'll be a perfectly fair
judge. If she says you can take it then, you will know it's all right."
And to this arrangement, after some hesitation, Eleanor consented.
A week or two later Bob came to Eleanor, in a sad state of embarrassment.
"It's about the basket-ball song, Eleanor. The committee never saw it.
Babe was chairman, you know, and she put her shoulder out of joint
playing hockey the day the songs were called in, so I emptied the box for
her. I remember I stopped in my room on the way back and I must have
dropped yours there. Anyhow it turned up to-day in my top drawer. I'm
Eleanor took the song and read through a stanza or two, while Bob
wriggled, blushed and waited for the storm to burst. She had heard a good
deal about Eleanor Watson's uncertain temper.
But at first Eleanor only laughed. "Goodness! What jiggly meter! It's
lucky you lost it, Bob."
"No," said Bob, sturdily. "It was a dandy song, one of the best that came
in. Babe said so too. I am really awfully sorry. I'm too careless to
"Well, you were lucky not to have found it a month ago," said Eleanor,
with a sudden flash of anger, and Bob departed, wondering.
"Little things do make a big difference," said Betty, when she heard the
story. "If they'd chosen it and everybody had said how clever it was--"
"I should have felt that I'd squared my account--proved that I could do
what I hadn't done, and I should never have owned up to anybody."
"Then you really ought to have been nicer to Bob," laughed Betty,
"because she helped you to come to the point."
"Yes, that helped," Eleanor admitted, soberly, "just as Dora helped and
Beatrice in her way and Jim in his; but you were the one who meant to
help, Betty. You got me the chance to begin over, and you made up my mind
for me about taking it, and you've kept me to it ever since."
"Now let's not argue about it," laughed Eleanor. "I only wanted to say
that I'm going to try to be nice to you to the extent of 'staying put'
this time. I don't mean that you shall have to waste your junior year
"Oh, Betty Wales, what's your hurry?"
Betty, who had strolled up Main Street with Emily Davis and now was
walking back alone, turned to see Eleanor and Dora Carlson coming down
the steps of the house behind her.
"We're hunting rooms," explained Eleanor, gaily, "the most systematic
hunt you ever heard of. We went to every possible house on the other side
on the way up, and then we came back on this side, doing the same thing.
So if you want any pointers--"
"But you're not going off the campus, Eleanor," asked Betty anxiously.
"Oh, no, it's a room for me," interposed Dora, with an adoring glance at
Eleanor. "I've always longed to live up among the elm-trees of Main
Street, but I knew its glories were not for me until--"
"Dora," warned Eleanor, laughingly, "I told you not to mention elm-trees
again this afternoon." She turned to Betty. "They all come down to two
possibilities. Which should you prefer, a big room with a microscopic
closet or a microscopic room with an enormous closet?"
"Oh, the one with the big closet," said Betty, decidedly. "I've tried the
other, you know."
"And unknown horrors are always preferable to familiar ones," laughed
Dora left them at the next corner and as soon as she was out of hearing
Betty turned upon Eleanor. "Well," she said, "I've caught you in the act,
and I think it's perfectly lovely of you. College will be a different
place to her if she can live up here somewhere near things."
"It will be nicer for her, I think," said Eleanor, simply. "But Betty,
I'm not doing much,--just making her a little present of the difference
between Mrs. Bryant's prices and the very cheapest ones up here. I can do
as much as that, I hope, after spoiling her sugaring-off party; and I
really don't need that extra-priced room again."
"You mean," said Betty, in amazement, "that you're going to give up your
corner-room with the three windows and the lovely burlap hangings?"
Eleanor nodded. "It wouldn't be much of a present from me if I just asked
father for the money."
"Eleanor," said Betty, solemnly, "I don't believe I could do it."
"But it's really all your doing, Betty. If it hadn't been for you, I
shouldn't have known Dora Carlson, and I shouldn't be here now. Besides,
you set the example with Helen. So if you don't like it, there's only
yourself to thank, you see," ended Eleanor, playfully.
"No, I don't see,--not one bit," declared Betty. "You'll be telling me
that I'm responsible for the way you recite next."
"Well, you are, partly," laughed Eleanor, turning off to the Hilton.
Betty went up-stairs behind two strange girls who were evidently
expecting to be in the Belden House next year.
"Of course the fourth floor is a long way up," one was saying, "and I
suppose it's hot sometimes. But if I can get a single room there, I'd
rather have it, wouldn't you?"
"Well, perhaps," answered the other doubtfully.
"No perhapses about it, my friend," thought Betty, turning off to her own
quarters. Rooms and roommates--the air was full of them! And to-morrow
was the day that the Belden House matron had appointed for settling all
such matters. Betty could have a single room, if she wanted it, on the
other side of Madeline Ayres, and she had almost made up her mind to take
it. To be sure, it did seem a little hard on Helen. Nobody in the house
had approached her on the subject of roommates, Betty felt sure of that;
she would have to be "assigned" with some outsider. Well, why not? If she
didn't take the trouble to make friends, of course she would have to
suffer the consequences. And yet--if Eleanor had really been influenced
by what she had tried to do for Helen, wouldn't it be mean to back out
now? "But Eleanor has decided already," thought Betty, "and there's no
reason why I should keep on bothering with Helen forever. I don't believe
she's one bit happier for it."
Helen looked up expectantly when Betty came in. After all she was a sweet
little thing; her face lighted up wonderfully at times.
"What's the news, Helen?" Betty asked. "You look as if something extra
nice had happened."
"Why no," answered Helen, "unless you count that I've learned my Latin
The answer was just like her, Betty reflected with a sigh. She might
improve a great deal, but she would be a "dig" to the end of the chapter.
As she dressed, Betty tried to lead up gradually to the subject of rooms
by telling about the two strange girls she had met in the hall. But it
was no use; Helen preserved the same gentle, obtuse silence that had kept
Betty from opening the subject before. Little by little her courage oozed
out, and with the ringing of the supper-bell she surrendered.
"I can't do it," she told the green lizard savagely. "She thinks we're
settled here forever and I can't bear to disappoint her. It's not
generosity though; it's just hating to make a fuss."
At supper all the girls were talking about rooms. "I'm first on the
waiting list for singles," Nita Reese announced, "but I might as well be
first on the waiting list for a trip to the moon, I suppose. Nobody ever
gives up a chance at a single."
Betty opened her mouth to tell Nita the sad truth, saw Helen looking at
her queerly, and shut it again. It would be time enough for Nita to hear
of her good fortune to-morrow.
After supper Helen hurried back to her work and Betty joined a merry
party on the piazza, went for a moonlight stroll on the campus, helped
serenade Dorothy King, and finally, just as the ten o'clock bell was
pealing warningly through the halls, rushed in upon Helen in a state of
"Helen," she cried, "T. Reed's coming into the Belden and you never told
"I didn't know till this afternoon."
"Then that was the piece of news I saw in your face. Why didn't you tell
"Why, I don't know--"
"Helen," cried Betty, with a sudden inspiration, "you and T. Reed want to
"Oh, Betty, Theresa couldn't have gone and said so!" Helen looked the
picture of distress.
"Nobody went and said so till you did just now," laughed Betty. "Oh,
Helen, why didn't you tell me?"
"Why didn't you tell me that you'd rather room alone?"
Then they both laughed and, sitting close together on Helen's bed in the
dark, talked it all over.
"You've been just lovely," Helen said. "You've given me all the good
times I've had--except Theresa. But you couldn't make it any different
from what it is. I never shall know how to get along the way other girls
do, and Theresa is a good deal the same way, except that she can play
basket-ball. So I guess we belong together."
"You needn't think you'll be rid of me," said Betty. "I shall be just two
doors away, and I shall come in and bother you when you want to work and
take you walking and ask you to hook up my dresses, just as I do now.
Helen, how fast things are getting settled."
"They'd better be," said Helen. "There's only two weeks left of our
For a long time Betty lay awake, staring at the patch of moonlight on the
floor beside her bed. "How mean I should have felt, if I'd told her when
she wouldn't tell me," she thought. "I wonder if it's all right now. I
wonder if next year is going to be as perfect as it seems. I wonder--"
Betty Wales was asleep. Five minutes later she woke from a cat-nap that
had turned her last thoughts into a very realistic dreamland. "No," she
decided, "it won't be quite perfect. Dorothy will be gone."
Those are the good-byes that count--the ones you must say to the seniors.
Dorothy would come back to visit the college, of course, and to attend
class reunions, but that would not be the same thing as living next door
to her all through the year. Betty was not going to stay to Commencement.
Sophomores were only in everybody's way then, she thought, and she
preferred to say good-bye to Dorothy before the onslaught of families
alumnae and friends should have upset the regular routine of life and
made the seniors seem already lost to the college world. Packing was
worse than ever this year, and examinations could not have been more
inconveniently arranged, but in spite of everything Betty slipped off on
her last evening for a few minutes with Dorothy.
The Belden House was a pandemonium, the piazzas deserted, the hot rooms
ablaze with lights, the halls noisy with the banging of trunk-lids and
the cries of distracted damsels; but the Hilton, either because it had
more upper-class girls who were staying to Commencement, or because its
freshmen and sophomores were of a serener temperament, showed few signs
of "last days." The piazza was full, as it always was on warm nights, and
a soft little crooning song was wafted across the lawn to Betty's ears.
Dorothy was singing. Her voice was not highly cultivated, but it was the
kind of voice that has a soul in it--which is better than much training.
As Betty stole softly up to the piazza, so as not to interrupt the song,
and found a place on the railing, she remembered her first evening in
Harding. How forlorn and frightened she had been, and how lovely Dorothy
was to her. Well, she had been just as lovely ever since.
Dorothy's song stopped suddenly. "Girls, I can't sing to-night," she
said. "It's--so--warm. And besides, Betty Wales has come to see me on a
very particular errand, haven't you, Betty, dear?"
Up in Dorothy's room, in the dusk, nobody said much of anything. There is
never much left to say at the last. But Dorothy had a way of putting
things and of looking at things that was like nobody's else, Betty
thought; and when she said, "I know I can trust you to work for the
democratic, helpful spirit and to keep down cliques and snobbishness and
see that everybody has a fair chance and a good time," Betty felt more
pleased than she had about her election to Dramatic Club. She had been
Dorothy's lieutenant. Now she must be Dorothy's successor, and it was a
great honor and a greater responsibility--but first she must pack her
On the way home she overtook Roberta. "I'm in the Belden, Betty," she
announced, breathlessly, "and there are a lot of things I want to ask you
and Mary about, but I can't stay long, because those dear little freshmen
are going to give me a good-bye spread."
"Those snippy freshmen?" laughed Betty.
"Oh, but they came around after the Jabberwock party, just as you said
they would. It was an impromptu party, Betty. I did it the night Sara
Westervelt was there, and somebody stole the ice cream. That's why you
Up-stairs the rest of the "old guard" were sitting on boxes, trunks and
the floor, waiting to say good-bye to Betty and meanwhile being
entertained by Madeline Ayres, who was giving a lively account of her
experience with a washwoman.
"She said, 'It's twinty white skirruts Oi have to do up now, me dear,'
and I said, 'But I can't go without a skirt, Mrs. Mulvaney, and everybody
who doesn't wear white to chapel will be expelled, and then where will
your goose that lays the golden eggs be?' 'Shure, I kape no geese, me
dear,' said she, and--oh, here's Betty."
"Finish up," demanded Katherine.
"Oh, there isn't any more," said Madeline, "except that she's just sent
the skirt home, and it isn't mine, but it fits rather well, doesn't it,
and I can't possibly return it before chapel, now can I?"
"Is that the way they do in Bohemia?" said Mary, severely. "Betty, I've
got to have half your bed to-night. An alum, who came on from San
Francisco got mixed in her dates and appeared a day too early. And as she
is a particular pal of the matron and I am notoriously good-natured,
she's got my room."
"To think of it," said Katherine, impressively, "and you a senior next
"And we juniors next week!" said Rachel. "It doesn't seem possible, does
it? Here's to hoping we shall all be back next year."
"What a forlorn toast!" said Katherine, who knew better than the rest how
hard it was for Rachel to make both ends meet. "Here's to hoping that we
all go on as splendidly as we've begun!"
"You have done tolerably well so far, children," said Mary, beaming
around the group.
"See the society pins bristle in our midst!" said Katherine, with
melodramatic gestures in the direction of Mary, Betty, and of Rachel, who
wore the Clio Club insignia proudly.
"And we've got the college beauty," added Betty quickly.
"And the Jabberwock," put in Eleanor.
"Please don't forget the basket-ball stars," suggested Katherine, with
"Nor the basket-ball song," added Rachel, smiling at Helen.
"So many honors," laughed Betty. "Do you suppose we've left anything for
"The song of the classes talks about 'jolly juniors,'" said Rachel. "That
sounds as if there would be plenty of fun in it."
"There is; junior year is the nicest one in college," declared Mary.
"It can't be," objected Katherine, "because each year has been as nice as
it possibly could."
"Unless you were foolish enough to spoil it," whispered Eleanor in
Roberta suddenly remembered her waiting freshmen, Mary offered to escort
her to Mrs. Chapin's, and the other three declared they must go home to
their packing. Betty and the girl from Bohemia went to the head of the
stairs to see them off. It was not exactly good-bye, because there were
chances of meeting at chapel and the station, but it was near enough to
it to be a little sad.
"Oh, dear, I hate endings," said Betty, waving her hand to Eleanor.
"Do you?" said the girl from Bohemia. "You'd get used to them if you
lived my scrappy, now-here-and-now-there kind of life. You'd find out
that one thing has to end before another can begin, and that each new one
is too good to miss."
"Um--perhaps," said Betty, doubtfully. "Any how we've got to take the
chance. So here's to junior year!"