Part 1 out of 5
Scanned by Aaron Cannon
Janice Day, The Young Homemaker
by Helen Beecher Long
CHAPTER I. WHEN MOTHER WAS A GIRL
"Why, that is Arlo Junior. What can he be doing out of doors so
early? And look at those cats following him. Did you ever!"
Janice Day stared wonderingly from her front bedroom window at
the boy crossing the street in the dim pre-dawn light, with a cat
and three half-grown kittens gamboling about him. Occasionally
Arlo Junior would shake something out of a paper to the ground
and the cats would immediately roll and frolic and slap playfully
at one another, acting as the girl had never seen cats act
The pleasantly situated cottage belonging to Mr. Broxton Day
stood almost directly across the way from the Arlo Weeks' place
on Knight Street. Therefore Janice often said that, "the days
and nights and weeks are very close together!"
Knight Street, as level as the palm of one's hand, led straight
into Greensboro, where it crossed Market and Hammond Streets,
making the Six Corners--actually the heart of the business
district of this thriving mid-western town.
The Day cottage was a mile and a half from the Six Corners and
the Farmers & Merchants Bank in which Mr. Broxton Day held an
important salaried position. Besides his house and his situation
in the bank, Mr. Day considered another of his possessions very
important indeed, although he did not list it when he made out
his tax return.
This that he so highly valued possessed the very brightest hazel
eyes in the world, wore a wealth of free brown hair in two plaits
over her shoulders, and was of a slender figure without bordering
upon that unfortunate "skinniness" which nature abhors as she
does a vacuum.
Janice possessed, also, even teeth that flashed when she smiled
(and she smiled often), a pink and white complexion that the sun
was bound to freckle if she was not careful, and a cheerful,
demure expression of countenance that went a long way toward
making her good to look upon, if not actually good looking.
In a spick and span blue-checked bungalow apron, she stood at her
window just as Dawn swept a brush of partially-hued color across
the eastern horizon. Having had it in her mind when she went to
bed the night before to arise early, she had of course awakened
long before it was really time to get up to make sure that daddy,
for once, got a proper breakfast.
For the Days, father and daughter, were dependent on hired
service, and such service in the form of Olga Cedarstrom was
about as incapable and stupid as fate had yet produced.
Having caught the first glimpse of that mischievous youngster,
Arlo Weeks, Junior, with the cats, Janice raised her window
softly as far as the lower sash would go, to peer out at the
strange procession. The boy and the cats entered the Day's side
gate and disappeared around the comer of the kitchen ell.
"Now! what can that rascal be about? If he does anything to
bother Olga there will be trouble. And everything here goes
crossways enough now, without Arlo Junior adding to it, I
Janice could very clearly remember when the cottage had been a
real home instead of "just a place to stay"; for her mother had
been dead only a year. The experiences of that year had been
trying, both for the sorrowing widower and the girl who had been
her mother's close companion and confidant.
Janice was old enough and well trained enough in domestic affairs
to have kept house very nicely for her father. But she had to go
to school, of course; an education was the most important thing
in the world for her. And the kind of help that came into the
Days' kitchen often balked at being "bossed by a slip of a
gur-r-rl," as one recent incumbent of the position had said.
Olga Cedarstrom was stupid and often cross in the morning; and
she was careless and slatternly in her ways. But she did not
object when Janice came down early to get her father's breakfast,
and serve it daintily, as her mother had taught her.
Only, Olga could not be taught to do these things. She did not
want to learn. She said she had a "fella" and would be married
soon; and under the circumstances she did not consider that she
needed to learn anything more about domestic work!
Janice did not wish to go down into the kitchen so early, for
that would awaken Olga who would come from her room, bleary-eyed
with sleep and with her temper at a saw-tooth edge, to ask, "why
she bane get oop in de middle of de night?"
Janice had washed and dressed and read her morning Bible chapter,
which she always managed to find time for, even when she did not
get up as early as on this occasion. For her age, and perhaps
because of her mother's death, which still seemed recent to
Janice, she was rather serious-minded. Yet she was no prig, and
she loved fun and was as alert for good times as any girl of her
age in Greensboro.
The talk she had had overnight with daddy had perhaps put her in
a rather more serious mood than usual. The talk had been all
about her mother and the hopes the mother and father had had and
the plans they had made for their little girl's future.
To carry through those plans necessitated the proper schooling of
Janice Day. She was already in the upper grade of the grammar
school. Even if the household affairs were all "at sixes and at
sevens," she must stick to her books, for she had ambitions. She
was quite sure she wanted to teach when she grew up.
There was another reason that spurred Janice Day to the point of
early rising, although daddy had not even hinted that he missed
the comfortable, daintily served breakfasts which he used to
enjoy when Mrs. Day was alive. It was something he had said
about an entirely different matter that started this serious
train of thought in the girl's mind.
She had expressed herself as so many of us do when we are in
difficulties, or when we see conditions we would like to have
changed: "Oh, if things were only different!"
Broxton Day had looked at her with his head held sideways and a
quizzical smile in his eyes as well as on his lips.
"Different? Do you want to know how to bring about a change? Do
something. Don't just talk, or think, or wonder, or wish, or
hope; but do! It is all right to say that good things become a
reality because somebody has a good thought. Actually, thinking
does not bring things about. It is doing. Do something in the
world, my dear. Don't wait for somebody else to set the example,
or to lead. Do what you can yourself while you are waiting for a
leader. Do something.
"Of course thought must precede action, and, furthermore, must
accompany action if action is not to run wild. But in the end
thought must become action and we must all of us--little girls,
as well as adults--do something if the conditions we do not like
are to be changed."
That was really what had got Janice Day out of bed so early on
this morning. Poor daddy! He sometimes had most awful meals
served to him. And the house was usually in a state of confusion
if it was not actually dirty.
Olga had come straight from a peasant cottage in her
country, and her idea of scrubbing the kitchen floor was to dash
pails of water over it and then sweep the water out of the back
door with a broom.
There was a Swedish colony established around the pickle
factories on the northern edge of the town, and Olga went over
there with her "fella" to a dance or downtown or to a picture
show almost every evening. No wonder she was not fit for work in
When Janice had come up to bed the previous evening she had
brought with her the "treasure-box" which daddy usually kept in
the wall safe in the living room. It contained certain heirlooms
and trinkets that had been her mother's, and were now Janice's
most sacred possessions.
She had had to beg daddy for the treasure-box, for he, too,
prized its contents beyond words. But Janice was a careful girl,
and daddy trusted her, and he knew, too, that the mementoes of
her dead mother seemed to bring the woman closer to the little
daughter; and so, in the end, he had allowed Janice to carry the
treasure-box to her room to be kept for the night, but to be
returned to its usual place after the girl had had it by her and
looked at its contents for a while.
There were a few pieces of jewelry--more valuable for their
associations than for their intrinsic worth, the gold framed
photographs of Grandfather and Grandmother Avion, which clasped
like a little book, and the miniature of Janice's mother painted
on ivory when she was a girl by a painter who had since become
This last was the girl's dearest possession--the memento of her
mother which she cared for above everything else. Daddy had put
it into her keeping with a reverence that could not fail to
impress Janice Day, young as she was. Broxton Day had worshipped
his wife for her higher qualities as well as having loved her for
her human attributes.
Something of this attitude toward his dead wife Janice, young as
she was, understood. She knew, for instance, that there was no
other woman in the world as a mate for Broxton Day now that her
mother was gone. All the more must she try, therefore, to fill
her mother's place in his life.
She had taken the miniature out of the treasure-box and was
looking with dimming eyes at it by the window when, shifting her
glance, she had seen Arlo Weeks, Junior, crossing the street.
This was her mother when she was a girl! What a sweet, demure
face it was. Janice did not realize that much of the expression
of the countenance in this miniature was visualized in the flesh
in her own face.
No wonder daddy had fallen in love with such a pretty, pretty
girl! So thought Janice Day. And--
What was Arlo Junior, the mischievous torment of the
neighborhood, doing with those cats? This sudden query shattered
her dream completely. She returned the miniature to the
treasure-box, and closed and latched the cover.
"Goodness knows," murmured Janice Day, "there are cats enough
around this house without Arlo Junior bringing any more upon the
premises. Sometimes I hear them squalling and fighting when I
wake up in the night."
With the treasure-box in her hand, she opened her bedroom door
and crossed the hall to the storeroom. The window of this room
was over the back porch. She heard a step on the porch flooring.
The door of the summer kitchen was seldom locked. Was Arlo
Junior down there?
That boy was constantly getting into trouble with the neighbors.
There was a regular feud between Olga Cedarstrom and Arlo Junior.
Olga had chased him half a block only the other day, threatening
him with a broom.
And the cats! Here they came from all directions--over
the back yard fences and from the barn. Fat cats, lean cats,
shabby "ash-barrel" cats, and pet cats with ribbons and collars.
Amazedly, Janice Day owned to herself that she had never seen so
many cats gathered in a more or less harmonious group before.
Instead of fighting or "mauling," they approached the back porch
of the Day house as though on pleasure bent. Was that Arlo Junior
giggling down there?
She put down the treasure-box and tried to open the window. But
the sash stuck. She distinctly heard the door below close and
footsteps receding from the porch.
Wishing to make sure that it was Arlo Junior who had been below,
the girl ran back to her bedroom. Yes! there he was scuttling
across the street in evident haste to get under cover.
"Now, isn't that odd?" murmured Janice. Suddenly a sound
floated up from below--an echoing wail that seemed wrenched from
the very soul of a tortured cat. The cry reverberated through the
house in a most eerie fashion.
Fortunately her father slept in the front of the house and there
was a closed door between the front and the back halls on both
floors. But Janice heard Olga's big, flat feet land upon the
floor almost instantly. That feline wail had evidently brought
the Swedish girl out of her dreams, all standing.
That sound sent Janice out of the room on a run. She must reach
the seat of trouble before Olga got to the place! Otherwise, the
trouble was bound to increase and become--what? Even Janice's
imagination, trained, as it was, by the succession of incompetent
and unwilling kitchen helpers, could not picture that.
Before Janice Day could reach the hall, Olga was padding down the
stairs to the kitchen. From the rear arose increasing howls.
The cats may have mysteriously gathered in apparent amity; but so
many of them shut up in that outer kitchen with no escape could
not possibly dwell for long in harmony.
There certainly was no harmony in these mounting wails. The
principle motif seemed to be furnished by the cat that had first
voiced his complaint. But now, as Janice plunged down the stairs
after Olga, the thin, high scream of the initial feline chorister
was crossed, in warp and woof, by basset strains.
The sounds rose and fell, as though proceeding from cats in
torment--an agonizing oratorio like nothing Janice had ever heard
before. She screamed to the Swedish girl, but her voice was
drowned by the caterwauling in the back kitchen. Olga wrenched
open the door. Janice, arriving to look over her shoulder at the
very moment she did so, saw the back kitchen practically filled
When one cat loses its temper it seems as though every other cat
within hearing gets excited. In the corners, out of the way of
the battlefield, kittens and tabbies were rolling and playing
upon the dried twigs and leaves that Janice knew must be catnip
that Arlo Junior had flung upon the floor to bait the cats into
the kitchen. But the cats in the middle of the room were
preparing for the representation of a busy day at Donnebrook
"Them cats! In de clean kitchen what I scrubbed last night only
I bane kill them cats!" And there was not a cat in the lot as
mad as Olga Cedarstrom.
There was a hod of coal beside her. Olga seized the good-sized
lumps of stove coal, one after another, and began volleying with
a strong overhand throw at the excited animals.
Olga proved to be an excellent shot. She hit a cat with almost
every lump of coal she threw. But she could not, after all, have
easily failed to do this, there were so many cats in the kitchen.
"Oh, don't! Don't, Olga! Stop!" shrieked Janice. "You will hurt
"Hurt them?" repeated the girl. "I bane mean to hurt dem" and,
slam! went another lump of coal.
"But they can't get out!" gasped Janice.
"Den how dey get in, huh?" demanded Olga, and threw another lump
with terrific force.
There was a howl, higher and more blood-curdling than any that
had heretofore assailed their ears. One big cat scrambled up the
wall, and up the window panes, seeking an exit. One of the
creature's legs dragged limply.
"Olga Cedarstrom!" shrieked Janice, "you have broken that poor
"I bane break all his legs!" rejoined this quite ferocious girl.
"How dese cats coom here? I bane sure you know!"
She turned to glare at Janice Day so savagely, a lump of coal
poised in her smutted hand, that the girl was really frightened.
She backed away from the angry woman.
Then she thought of something she might do to save the cats and
the back kitchen from complete wreck. Janice darted out of the
room to the porch. In a moment she had unlatched the
summer-kitchen door and flung it wide open.
Instantly there boiled out of the room cats big and cats little,
cats of all colors and every degree of fright. One of the last
to escape was the poor cat with the broken leg. There was
nothing Janice Day could do for it. She did not dare to try to
She ventured back into the house to find Olga Cedarstrom still
breathing out threatenings and slaughter. Olga was in her
nightgown and a wrapper. She had not even stopped for slippers
when she came from her bed. Now she padded to the back stairs,
turning to shake her clenched fist at Janice and cry:
"I leave! I leave! I bane going to pack my troonk. The man pay
me oop to last night, and I leave!"
"I am glad of it!" gasped Janice, finding her voice again. "It
wasn't my fault, and it wasn't the poor cats' fault. I am glad
you are going, so there!"
But she became more serious as she prepared the nice breakfast
she had promised herself the night before her father should have.
She heard Olga go to the telephone in the hall. She called a
number and then talked in Swedish for several minutes to whoever
Janice's father came into the dining room just as his little
daughter brought in the breakfast. When he saw the steaming
coffee pot and the covered dishes and toast-rack his face
brightened. But he had to be told of the domestic catastrophe
"Well," he said cheerfully, "we couldn't get anybody any worse
than Olga, that is sure. I will see what they have at the
intelligence office, and I may send a woman up after you get home
from school this afternoon. I'll 'phone you first, daughter. I
don't have to see Olga, do I? She was paid last night."
No, Janice told him, he need not bother about a servant who was
on the point of going. Before it was time for Janice to leave
for school, a taxicab appeared, driven by a man of Olga's own
nationality. He went upstairs for the girl's trunk.
This he shouldered and carried out to the cab. Olga followed
him, wearing the red hat with the green plume which had so amused
Janice when the Swedish girl had arrived. She drove away in the
cab without even looking back at Janice Day.
The latter had tidied up the kitchen and dining room. The back
kitchen would have to remain as it was until later. And Janice
felt that she would like to get hold of Arlo Weeks, Junior, and
make him clean up that kitchen!
She changed to her school dress, strapped together the books she
had studied the night before, put on her hat, and stood a moment
in the hall, wondering if all would be right until she should
return at three o'clock.
And then for the first time, and suddenly, Janice remembered the
She darted upstairs to her bedroom. How careless of her to have
left it there! She knew the simple combination of the wall safe
in the living room, and She determined to open the safe and put
the box away.
But when she entered her bedroom she found that the treasure-box
was not there. Instantly she remembered having taken it with her
when she ran into the storeroom to see what Arlo Junior was doing
with the cats.
In trying to open the window in the storeroom she had set the box
down on a trunk--on Olga's trunk.
Startled, indeed alarmed and shaking, Janice Day went as fast as
she could to, the storeroom. Olga's trunk was gone. She did not
see the treasure-box anywhere in the room.
She searched the room diligently. She ran from room to
room--Olga's, her own, even the other bedrooms. She halted at
last in her own room, sobbing and alarmed.
The treasure-box was gone. Olga's trunk had gone. Olga herself
And the photographs of Grandfather and Grandmother Avion, the
old-fashioned jewelry, the diary her mother had kept as a little
girl, the miniature Janice thought so much of--all, all the
keepsakes her father had entrusted her with the night before,
seemed to have gone With Olga and the trunk.
CHAPTER II. THE HUNT FOR THE TREASURE-BOX
This was a very tragic happening in Janice Day's life. She had
never been regardless of important matters; that was why daddy
had not even warned her to be careful of the treasure-box.
He assumed that she would consider its precious contents and
guard it accordingly. Why! He had not even mentioned it this
morning, he had been so confident of her good sense.
And because of Arlo Junior and a bunch of cats she had forgotten
all about her mother's miniature and all the other heirlooms in
the treasure-box! Her tears were those of anger at herself as
well as sorrow because of the disappearance of the heirlooms.
Yet at the moment she did not fully appreciate the full weight of
Janice could not stand and cry about it. She had assured herself
that the treasure-box was not where she had left it--was not in
the storeroom at all, as far as she could see. Olga certainly
had not picked it up and placed it in any of the rooms on this
second floor, or anywhere else where it could be easily seen.
Janice could only believe that the Swedish girl, either by
intention or in some involuntary way, had carried the
treasure-box off with her. Yet it did not seem as though Olga
Cedarstrom, bad temper and all, could be a thief! That was an
"Maybe she has done it to plague me," Janice thought. "She is
awfully mad at me. She thought it was my fault that the cats got
into the back kitchen. And now she means to pay me back. She
means to return it."
"But where has she gone? And what shall I do?" were the final
queries formed in Janice Day's mind.
She must not stand idle. It was nearing school time. Nor could
she neglect the matter until she came home from school at three
o'clock. If Olga Cedarstrom were really dishonest, she might be
getting farther and farther away from Greensboro while Janice
She must do something.
Janice went slowly downstairs. First Of all it was her duty to
communicate with her father at the bank. She hated to tell him
of this happening, for she realized keenly her fault in the
matter. But not for a moment did the girl consider hiding the
unfortunate affair from Broxton Day.
She went to the telephone and called the bank When she asked for
Mr. Day. She could almost see him taking the receiver from the
hook when the bell on his telephone rang.
"Yes?" Daddy's voice sounded clearly and courteously over the
wire. "This is Day."
"Often when he said this over the telephone Janice would respond,
giggling: "And this is Knight--Street! Number eight-forty-five."
But she did not feel at all like joking on this occasion. All in
a rush she told him of the tragic happening.
"And I don't know what to do, Daddy," was the way in which she
ended her story.
Even over the telephone the girl realized that her father was
more startled than she expected him to be, His voice did not
sound at all natural as he asked:
"Do you mean to tell me that everything that was in that box is
lost, Janice? Everything?"
"Oh, Daddy!" choked the girl, "I put everything back before I
closed the box--mamma's picture, and her diary, and all."
"There were other things--"
"Oh, yes! The jewelry and the photographs," said Janice.
"More than those," her father's hoarse voice said quickly. "I
cannot explain to you now, my child. Didn't you know there was a
false bottom in that box?"
"A false bottom to the treasure-box, Daddy?" she cried
wonderingly. "A secret compartment."
"Oh! I didn't know--"
"No, of course not. I blame myself, my dear," he added, and she
knew that he was striving to control his voice. "Do not cry any
more. I will explain when come home."
"Are you sure you have looked carefully for the box?" and he now
spoke more moderately.
"Oh, yes, Daddy."
"Indeed I have."
"Then, daughter, by the face of the clock in front of me, I
advise you to hurry away to school. I will see what can be done.
You say Olga went away in a taxicab?"
"Of course, you did not notice the number of the car?"
"Oh, no, sir. But the man was a Swede like Olga. And he came in
and carried down her trunk." '
"I will see what can be done. Go to school like a good girl and
do not let anxiety spoil your recitations. Good-bye."
He hung up the receiver and Janice followed his example. There
seemed nothing else she could do.
She would have been late for school had not Stella Latham driven
by the Day cottage in her father's car just as Janice came out.
Stella lived some distance out of town, her father being a
well-to-do farmer, and she was driven in daily by either her
brother or one of the farm hands.
Janice saw the automobile coming in the distance and soon
recognized the Latham car.
"Dear me!" she sighed, "I hope Stella will not turn down Hester
Street. If she comes this far she'll be sure to ask me to ride,
and then I can get to school on time"
With rather anxious eyes Janice watched the oncoming car. Yes,
it passed Hester Street and came on down Knight Street to make a
later turn off toward the schoolhouse. The car almost shot past
Janice before the girl inside saw her on the sidewalk. Then the
girl suddenly leaned out of the swiftly moving car.
"Oh, Janice Day!" screamed Stella, warning her driver to stop
with one hand while she beckoned to Janice with the other.
"Hurry! You'll be late. Get in here."
Janice ran after the car, glad of the lift. Stella was a buxom
girl, a year or two older than Janice, but in the latter's grade
at school. "Ever so nice" Janice thought her. But, Janice
thought most of her school friends were "nice." She was friendly
toward them, so they had no reason to be otherwise than kind to
Not that Janice Day was either namby-pamby or stupid. She had
opinions, and expressed them frankly; and she possessed a strong
will of her own. But she not to hurt other people's feelings;
and if she stood up for her opinions, she usually did so without
"You're just the girl I wanted to see, anyway, Janice, before
school," Stella said, as the younger girl hopped into the tonneau
and the chauffeur let in the clutch again.
"Now you see--all of me!" said Janice brightly, trying to put the
trouble of the lost treasure-box behind her.
Her eyelids were just a little red, and she took one more long,
sobbing breath. But Stella was so very much interested in her
own affairs that she noticed nothing at all strange about her
"Oh, Janice!" Stella said, "I'm to have a birthday party. You
know, I told you all about it before." "Yes, Stella, you told
me," agreed Janice.
"Of course I did. And I want you to come. I couldn't really
have a party without you, Janice. But I am not so sure about
some of the girls."
"Oh, dear me!" murmured Janice. "If I was going to have a
regular party I'd invite all the girls in our class--or else none
"Now, that's just like you! You always are so quick. How did you
know I didn't want to invite her?" complained Stella, pouting.
"I didn't know. Whom do you mean to leave out?" Janice asked,
"There! That's what my mother says! You are always so shrewd and
"Oh!" cried Janice not at all pleased, "does your mother think I
"We-ell, she said you were shrewd," admitted Stella, changing
color. "Now, don't get mad, Janice Day. I want you to help me."
"You go about it in a funny way," said Janice, rather piqued. "I
am not sly enough to be of any use to you, I guess."
"Now, don't be angry!" wailed the other girl. "What I mean is,
that you always see through things and can get out of
"I didn't know I got into difficulties--not many anyway," Janice
added, with a little sigh.
"Dear me, Janice! don't split hairs--please," said the very
selfish and self-centered Stella. "I want your help. Do tell me
how to get out of asking that girl to my party without offending
her friends--for she has got friends, curiously enough."
"For goodness' sake!" gasped Janice. "What girl do you wish to
"There you go with your nasty insinuations!" exclaimed Stella,
whiningly. "I don't want to snub anybody. But some people are
"Meaning me?" Janice asked with twinkling eyes.
"Of course not. Why will you so misunderstand me? I wouldn't
snub you, Janice Day. I am speaking of Amy Carringford."
"Oh! It is Amy you wish to snub, is it?" Janice said, with a
change of tone.
Even Stella noted the change. She seized Janice's arm.
"Now, don't! You made me say that. I don't really want to snub
her. I don't want to hurt her feelings. But, of course, I can't
have those pauper children at my party--Amy and Gummy. 'Gummy!'
What a frightful name! And his pants are patched at the knees.
They wouldn't--either of them--have a decent thing to wear, of
Janice said nothing for a long minute. Stella's blue eyes, which
were actually more staring than pretty, began to cloud ominously.
Instinctively she sensed that Janice was not with her in this.
"Amy Carringford is a nice girl, I think," Janice Day said
mildly. "And perhaps she has a party dress, Stella."
"There you go! Always standing up for anything mean or common,"
stormed Stella. "I might have known you wouldn't help me."
"Why did you ask me then?" Janice inquired with some rising
"Because you're always so sharp about things; and you can help me
if you want to."
Stella Latham was certainly much more frankly spoken than
politic. Janice Day excused her schoolmate to a degree. She
usually found excuses for every one but herself.
"I was only trying to help you," Janice said slowly. you haven't
really anything against Amy, have you?"
"She's a pauper--a regular pauper."
"Why, that's not so," interrupted Janice. "A pauper must be one
who is supported at the public expense. We had that word only
the other day in our lesson, you know, Stella. And Amy
Carringford--or her folks-- aren't like that."
"Nobody knows what or who they are. They've only just come here
and from goodness knows where. And they live in that little
tumble-down house in Mullen Lane, and--"
"Oh, dear me, Stella!" interrupted Janice, with a sudden laugh.
"That list of crimes will never send anybody to jail. You are
awfully critical. Amy has awfully pretty manners, and just
wonderful hair. She sings and dances well, too. And
Gummy--'Gumswith' is his full name--"
"'Gumswith!' Fancy!" ejaculated the farmers critical
"Yes, isn't it awful?" returned Janice. "Anybody would be sorry
for a boy with such a name. And he hasn't even a middle one they
can call him by. You know it isn't his fault, Stella, that he
has such a horrid name."
"No, I don't suppose it is. But--"
"And Amy is so nice. She is just about my size, Stella, and if
you promise never to tell--"
"What is it? A secret?" eagerly demanded Stella, as Janice
"Yes. Or it will be a secret if you promise."
"Cross my heart, Janice," declared Stella, who loved secrets.
"Well--now," said Janice Day, most seriously, "if you invite Amy,
and she can't come because she hasn't any party dress, I'll lend
her one of mine that was made for me just before my mother died.
I am wearing only black and white. I've outgrown those new
dresses that were made for me then, I guess. And Amy is just a
weeny bit smaller than I am."
"But Janice Day! you--you're helping Amy Carringford. You're not
helping me at all!"
"Why, yes I am helping you," said Janice warmly. "At least, I am
trying to. If you will invite Amy with the rest of us girls,
I'll see that she has a party dress. I should think that was
helping you a whole lot, Stella Latham. You said you didn't want
to hurt her feelings."
The car reached the schoolhouse. Janice was out of it like a
flash with her schoolbooks and lunch. The bell was tolling.
"Now, isn't that just like Janice Day?" grumbled Stella,
following her from the automobile. "She is a sly little thing!"
Mr. Broxton Day felt much more troubled than Janice possibly
could feel about the disappearance of the treasure-box and the
keepsakes it contained. Intrinsically, the value of the articles
that she named was not very great, although nothing could replace
the diary or the miniature of his dead wife. But as he had
intimated to Janice over the telephone there was something else.
There was that lost with the so-called treasure-box that meant
more to him than the mementoes his daughter had known about.
During this lonely year that had passed since his wife's death,
Mr. Day's experiences with domestic help had been disheartening
as well as varied.
Olga Cedarstrom had been with them two months. She had come
rather better recommended than some of her predecessors. Instead
of obtaining her services through an agency, Mr. Day had found
her in "Pickletown," as the hamlet at the pickle works was
There Olga, recently arrived in Greensboro, had been living with
friends. Mr. Day went over there first of all to search for the
But her whilom friends knew nothing about Olga since the previous
evening. They did not know that she contemplated leaving Mr.
Day. And she had not appeared at Pickletown after she had
departed from eight hundred and forty-five Knight Street that
Mr. Day did not wish to put the police on the trail of the absent
Olga. In the first place there was no real evidence that the
Swedish girl had stolen the box of mementoes.
If she had taken them at all, she must have done so just to pique
Janice, not understanding how really valuable the contents of the
box were. If possible, Mr. Day wished to recover the lost box
without the publicity of going to the police, both for Olga's
sake and for his own.
And then as Janice had told him, the taxicab driver had been in
the house. He had gone upstairs to the storeroom for Olga's
trunk--to the very room in which Janice had last seen the
It might be that the driver was the person guilty of taking the
box. Olga might know nothing about it. Yet her disappearance
without informing her friends of her intention to leave
Greensboro looked suspicious.
Mr. Day had to search further. He had two other persons to
discover. One was Olga's "fella"; the other was the Swedish
From people who knew Olga around the pickle factories it was easy
to learn that Olga's friend was a hard working and estimable
young man named Willie Sangreen. Just at this time Willie was
away from home. They could tell Mr. Day nothing about Willie's
absence either at his boarding-house, or where he was employed.
But in both instances they were sure Willie would be back.
In hunting for the Swedish taxicab driver Mr. Day had even less
good fortune. There were two taxicab companies in Greensboro and
less than a dozen independent owners of cabs. Before noon he had
learned, beyond peradventure, that there was not a cab driver in
town of Swedish nationality.
He presumed that the cab must have come from out of town. Where
it had come from, and where it had gone with Olga, and Olga's
trunk, and, possibly, with the treasure-box, seemed a mystery
If Olga or the cab driver had stolen the box of heirlooms it
seemed that all trace of their whereabouts had been skillfully
CHAPTER III. DELIA
In spite of her anxiety Janice fixed her mind upon her
recitations with her usual success. During the past few months
so many, many things had happened to trouble the home pool that
the girl was pretty well used to seeing it ruffled.
"Help" came and went at the Day cottage on Knight Street in a
procession of incompetents. Some incumbents of the domestic
situation remained but a week. Olga Cedarstrom had been longer
than any in Mr. Day's employ.
Often, when they were without a girl, Janice had spent her
Saturday holiday trying to clean house and set things to rights,
and when daddy had come home from the bank he had donned a
kitchen apron and helped.
The house was by no means kept as it had been when Mrs. Day was
alive. For she had been a trained housewife, and she knew how to
make the domestic help do the work properly.
Now there was dust under the furniture and in the corners. Pots
and pans were grimy. Because of the rough methods of cleaning
pursued by Olga, the baseboards of the kitchen were streaked with
a "high-tide" mark of soapy water.
The stove and the gas range were smeared with grease. Scarcely a
cooking utensil but was sticky. The silver went unpolished. The
yolk of egg ("the very stickingest thing there was" Janice
declared,) could be found on the edges of plates and spoons.
And the laundry! The "wet wash," the "flat work" laundry, and
the complete service laundry were all only a little worse than
the attempts of the hired help to wash clothes properly.
Bed and table linen wore out twice as fast as it should, Janice
knew. Nobody would wash and turn socks and stockings as they
should be washed and turned. Fruit stains were never removed.
Either the girls used kerosene in boiling the clothes and the
odor of it clung to them even after they were laid away in the
bureau drawers, or she threw chloride of lime into the water
which ate holes in the various fabrics. Mother used to make
Javelle water to whiten the clothes, but Janice did not know how
it was made, nor had she time to make it.
Indeed, with school-closing in the offing and lessons and
examinations getting harder and harder, the girl scarcely had
time to keep her own clothing neat and mended. She knew that
right now daddy was wearing socks with holes in them.
So, when her mind was not fixed upon her lessons, it was not
likely that even Stella Latham's birthday party occupied much of
Janice's thought. She started home from school as soon as she
was released, considering if she could get the back kitchen
cleaned up before it was time to get supper for daddy. The lumps
of soft coal Olga Cedarstrom had thrown at the cats had made an
awful mess of the place, Janice very well knew.
As she turned the corner into Knight Street there was Arlo Weeks,
Junior, just ahead of her. Arlo Junior, the cause of the
morning's trouble! Arlo Junior, the cause of Olga's leaving the
Days in the lurch! More, Arlo Junior, who was the spring of
Janice Day's deeper trouble, for if it had not been for that
mischievous wight, Olga Cedarstrom could not have run off with
Arlo Junior had black, curly hair like his father. He had
snapping brown eyes, too, and was quick and nervous in his
movements. Of all the Weeks' children (Daddy said there was a
"raft" of them!) Arlo Junior was the worst behaved. He was
forever in trouble.
To report him to his parents was just like shooting cannon balls
into a stack of feathers. His mother, tall, cadaverous, and of
complaining voice and manner, only declared:
"He's too much for me. I tell Arlo that Junior ought to be
locked up, or handcuffed, or something. And that's all the good
To complain to Mr. Weeks of his namesake was quite as
"What? The young rascal!" Mr. Weeks would emphatically say.
"Arlo did that? Well, I tell you what. If you catch him at any
of his tricks, you thrash him. That's what you do--thrash him!
You have my full permission to punish him as though he were your
own boy. That's the only way to deal with a rascal like him."
So, you see, both parents shed responsibility, both for Arlo
Junior's mischief and punishment, just as easily as a duck sheds
rainwater. Under these circumstances
Arlo Junior usually went without punishment, no matter what he
And here he was, swaggering along the walk with some of his
mates, hilariously telling them, perhaps, of how he had tolled
all the cats of the neighborhood into the Days' back kitchen.
Janice Day was a very human girl indeed. The thought of Junior's
trick and all it had brought about made her very, very angry.
She rushed right into the group of boys, all fully as big as she
was, soundly boxed Arlo Weeks' ears, and just as many times as
she could do so before he outran her and left her, panting and
still wrathful, on the curb.
The other boys backed away, leaving Arlo Junior to fight his own
battle--or run, if that seemed to him the part of wisdom, as
evidently it had.
"I hope that will teach you to bring cats into our kitchen, Arlo
Junior!" Janice cried after him.
"No, 'twon't," declared the boy, rubbing the ear that had
received the greater number of her blows. "I knew how to do it
before, didn't I? My, Janice Day! but you can slam a fella."
"I wish I could hurt you more," declared the girl. "You've made
me enough trouble."
She marched on, leaving the scattered crowd of urchins to gather
again about Arlo Junior, but now in a scoffing rather than in an
admiring crowd. The bubble of Arlo Junior's conceit had been
punctured. He had been whipped by a girl!
"Now," thought Janice, as she went along home, "I would not want
Daddy to know I did that. Fighting a boy on the street! I guess
Miss Peckham, who is always peering through her blinds at what I
do, if she had seen me would be sure to say I was misbehaving
because I had no mother to make me mind. As though I wouldn't
behave just as well for Daddy as I used to for dear mother!
"Only I haven't really behaved very well to-day," she went on,
reviewing the matter to herself. "I don't care! Yes, I do too!
No matter what Arlo Weeks, Junior, did, I oughtn't to have fought
him on the street like that. Oh, dear!" mused the girl, "I don't
know whether I am sorry I hit Arlo Junior or am sorry that I'm
not sorry. It's awfully confusing."
She choked back a sob, dashed the tears from her eyes, and
suddenly saw that the hazy object she had been looking at for the
past minute was really a human figure squatting on the side porch
steps of the Day's cottage.
"Why! who can that be?" thought Janice Day, staring with all her
might at the odd-looking creature perched thus on the steps, with
a bulging old-fashioned black oilcloth bag beside her.
It was a woman in a cheap, homemade calico dress, and with rows
upon rows of flounces on the skirt. She sat on the
next-to-the-top step of the porch while her shoes were planted
flat-footed on the walk. She was very short-waisted, while her
limbs, accentuated by the model of the flounced skirt seemed
Indeed, she looked like the halves of two people mysteriously
glued together. Her nether limbs without doubt belonged to a
giantess; her body although broad and sturdy, was almost
dwarflike. Her arms were very short.
Above this strange figure was a fat, baby-like face, with
staring, light-blue eyes and whisps of straw-colored hair laid
flat to her, head under a close fitting hat.
"It's another one," groaned Janice, her heart sinking. "I know
she must be from the intelligence office, because--well--she
looks so unintelligent, I
Janice opened the gate and approached the ungainly woman
doubtfully. Surely daddy could not have seen her before hiring
this very peculiar-looking person. He must have accepted her
services over the telephone, and "sight, unseen."
The newly hired girl wreathed her flabby face in a vacuous smile.
She bobbed up from her seat, bringing the oilcloth bag with her,
and towering over Janice Day in a most startling manner.
"How-de-do! I guess you are after bein' Mr. Day's little girl,
The voice from the giantess made Janice jump. It was high and
squealing, like a bat's voice; and some people's ears are not
attuned to the bat's cry and cannot hear it at all.
"Ye-es. I am Janice Day," admitted the girl.
"Well," squealed the newcomer, "I'm the lady your paw sent up to
do the work. You're a right pretty little girl, ain't you?"
Janice ignored this bit of flattery as she mounted the steps and
drew forth the door key.
"What is your name, please?" she asked the woman.
"Why, I'll tell you," said the other in a most confidential tone,
blundering up the steps after Janice and stooping to get her lips
near the girl's ear. "My real name is Mrs. Bridget Burns; but my
friends all call me Delia. I don't like 'Bridget.' Would you
mind callin' me Delia, or else Mrs. Burns, heh?"
"I think father would prefer to call you by your first name,"
Janice said, trying not to show her surprise and amusement. "We
will call you Delia if that pleases you."
"You're a real nice little girl, I can see that," said Delia,
with a huge sigh of satisfaction, following Janice, bag and all,
into the house.
Janice led the way up the back stairs to the girl's room. It was
just as Olga had left it--as untidy and "mussed up" as ever a
Delia uttered a high, nasal ejaculation. "I guess your last girl
wasn't very clean," she said. "Who was she?"
"She was a Swede," Janice replied wearily.
"Heh! Them Swedes!" sniffed Delia, voicing a pronounced national
"She left in a hurry," Janice explained. "She--she got mad. One
of the neighbor's boys played a trick on her and she left."
"Ye don't be tellin' me? Couldn't she spank the boy? Sure, 'tis
no sinse them foreigners has."
"I hope you will not take offense so easily," Janice rejoined.
"Here is clean linen for your bed. We send the flat work to the
laundry. There is a broom and carpet sweeper in the storeroom,
and plenty of dust cloths. You would better put your own room in
order first. Then you can come down and I will show you about
"Sure, you is very young to be so knowin' about housework. Is
your mother dead?"
"I didn't know but she'd gone off and left you and your
paw," observed this strange creature, "So many of them be's doin'
"Oh!" gasped the girl.
"So that's why your paw did the hirin' through Murphy's Agency!
Well, I like to work where there's no lady boss," said Delia.
"You and me is goin' to get on fine."
Janice wondered if that were so. In no very enthusiastic frame
of mind, she descended the stairs to put away her hat and coat
and to place her books on the table in the living room.
CHAPTER IV. MORE TROUBLES THAN ONE
Janice dreaded to have this new houseworker look into that back
kitchen and see its condition. What Olga had done with the soft
coal ammunition was enough to make Delia depart before she had
even taken up her new duties.
Yet Janice shrank from cleaning the room herself. She had a lot
of home work to do for school, and she would have to show the new
girl, too, just where everything was kept and what was expected
Fortunately the dinner-getting would be a simple matter. There
was a roast already prepared for the oven, potatoes and another
vegetable, and a salad. The latter were in the house. Olga had
been no dessert maker, but there were canned pears in the
refrigerator and some baker's cake (Daddy called it "sweetened
sawdust") in the cupboard.
The girl would have to be told about these things. Fortunately
they had not begun to use the summer kitchen as yet. It was true
that Olga had only the day before cleaned the place, as well as
she knew how, in preparation for the approaching warm weather.
But to put things to rights in that room again, and to remove all
traces of the bombardment of the cats, would take half a day or
more. And Janice Day shrank from the use of the scrubbing brush
and strong soda-water.
She decided that the back kitchen could not be cleaned this
afternoon. She put on her bungalow apron and took the salad from
the icebox where it had lain on the ice in a cheesecloth bag.
She usually prepared the salad herself, for daddy was fond of it
and most of the itinerant help they had had considered "grass
only fit for horses and cows."
She was decanting the oil, drop by drop, into the salad dressing
when Delia appeared in the kitchen. There was one good point
about the giantess; her face and hands looked as though they were
familiar with soap and water. She had removed the ruffled
monstrosity and had put on a more simple frock. It did not serve
to make her look less ungainly; but nevertheless it, likewise,
"Are you doing the cooking?" asked the new incumbent, her weak,
squeaky voice quite above high C. "An' do I help you?"
"I am fixing the salad because my father likes it prepared in a
certain way. I will show you what, else there is to do, Delia."
Janice spoke in rather a grown-up way because she had had so much
experience with a class of houseworkers only too willing to take
advantage of her youth and inexperience.
"Isn't that nice!" sighed Delia, with her rather, foolish smile.
Janice wondered whether the woman was making fun of her, or if
she was quite as silly as she appeared. But if Delia would only
do the work and do it half-way right, Janice told herself she did
not care if Delia was actually an idiot. At least the new girl
And she was not all thumbs! But Janice stuffed the end of a
kitchen towel into her mouth more than once to stifle her giggles
when she chanced to think Of how daddy would look when he caught
his first glimpse of the gigantic Delia.
When the vegetables were peeled and on the stove, and the roast
was cooking in the covered roaster, Janice led Delia through the
lower part of the house. She tried to explain what there was to
do on the morrow when Delia would be alone all day, with daddy at
business and herself at school.
"Yes, ma'am," said Delia, after each item was explained. "And
then what do I do?"
Her vacant face advertised to all beholders that she promptly
forgot what she was told. One particular formula for work drove
the previously explained item immediately out of Delia's head.
"Isn't it a nice house?" was her final whistling comment as they
came back to the kitchen. "And where does this door lead?"
She opened the back kitchen door. She stared at the
coal-littered floor, at the streaked and smutted walls, at the
overturned chairs and a broken flower-pot or two that had come to
ruin during the bombardment.
"Sure! whativer struck the place?" asked Delia in her high,
squeaking voice. "What happened?"
Janice told her. Delia shook her head and slowly closed the
door--slowly but firmly. "If folks will hire them Swedes, 'tis
all they can expect," was her comment.
There was a finality to this that was uncanny. Janice became
sure, right then and there, that Mrs. Bridget Burns would never
clear up the wreck Olga Cedarstrom had made of the back kitchen.
The girl wished with all her heart that she had boxed Arlo
Junior's ears harder.
Miss Peckham, her sharp chin hung upon the top rail of the
boundary fence, called Janice just before daddy came home. As
the Day house was on the corner of Love Street, Miss Peckham was
the nearest neighbor.
She was a weazened little woman, with very sharp black eyes, who
had assumed the censorship of the neighborhood years before.
Living alone with her cats and Ambrose, her parrot, Miss Peckham
rigidly adhered to the harshest precepts of spinsterhood.
Even Janice could understand that Miss Peckham considered daddy
not at all fit to bring up, or have the sole care of, a daughter,
and that Mr. Broxton Day was not to be altogether trusted.
Miss Peckham's nature overflowed with tenderness toward animals,
and it was regarding one of her pets she now called to Janice
"You haven't seen him, have you, Janice? You haven't seen my
"Your Sam?" murmured Janice, rather non-plussed for the moment.
"You don't mean the dog you bought of the butcher, do you, Miss
"No, indeed. That's Cicero. But Sam, the cat. He's got black
and yellow on him, Janice. You've seen him, I know."
And suddenly Janice remembered that she had seen him. He had been
one of those cats tolled into the back kitchen by Arlo Junior.
Worse than all, Sam was the cat Olga Cedarstrom had hurt with a
lump of coal. She remembered that he was the last to escape when
she opened the kitchen door, dragging his injured leg behind him.
How could Janice tell her of this awful thing that had happened
to Sam? The poor cat had probably dragged himself off into some
secret place to lick his wounds --to die, perhaps.
"You've seen him! I know you have, Janice Day," cried the shrewd
maiden lady. "What have you done to poor Sam?"
"Why, Miss Peckham! I haven't done a thing to him," declared
Miss Peckham, however, had read the girl's face aright. She saw
that Janice knew something about the missing cat.
"You tell me what you know!" she stormed, her clawlike hands
shaking the top rail of the fence. "I wouldn't trust none of you
young ones in this neighborhood. You are always up to some
"But really, honestly, I haven't done a thing to your Sam,"
Janice said, shrinking from telling all she knew about the
"You know where he is?" Miss Peckham accused.
"Oh, I don't, either."
"When did you see him last?" probed the other, sharply.
"What time this morning?"
"Before breakfast. Early," gasped Janice, wondering what she
would say next.
"Humph! Something funny about the way you answer," said the
suspicious spinster. "where was Sam when you saw him that
"Running across our back yard," Janice gasped, telling the exact
truth--but no more.
"Ha!" exploded the other, "What made him run?"
After all, Janice Day did not want to "tell on" Arlo Junior.
Arlo Junior was the child of all others in the neighborhood whom
Miss Peckham carried on guerrilla warfare with. She had
threatened to go to the police station and have Arlo Junior
locked up the very next time he crossed her path in a mischievous
Janice knew that Miss Peckham was a very active member of the
Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, and if she knew
that Arlo Junior had been in any way connected with Sam's injury,
she would be all the more bitter toward the young rascal.
And really, after all, it was Olga Cedarstrom who had hurt the
cat. But to tell Miss Peckham that, and how it all came about,
would do little to pacify the spinster. So Janice kept silent.
It seemed to her that she had gone about as far in the path of
deceit as she could go.
"You saw him running; what made him run?" repeated Miss Peckham.
"He--he was frightened, I guess, Miss Peckham. There were other
cats. It was early this morning before anybody else was up
around here. The cats all ran out of our yard."
"And I warrant you'd done something to make 'em run," declared
the tart-tongued neighbor. "Oh, I know all you young ones around
here. You ain't no better than the rest of 'em, Janice Day."
"Oh, Miss Peckham!" murmured the girl.
"And if I find out that you done something outrageous to those
cats--to my Sam, 'specially--it'll be the sorriest day of your
life. Now, you see if 'tisn't!"
She turned and flounced into her house. Janice came slowly back
to the kitchen door where she found the new houseworker frankly
"Guess she's a sharper, ain't she?" squeaked the woman. "Well, I
won't tell her 'bout the cats in the back kitchen. But o'
course, if folks will hire them Swede--"
CHAPTER V. FATHER AND DAUGHTER
It did seem to Janice Day at this time as though trouble after
trouble was being heaped upon her young shoulders. Miss Peckham
and her search for her Sam was, of course, a small matter
compared to the loss of the treasure-box and the heirlooms in it.
Janice waited eagerly for daddy to come home and report on this
matter; and his report, when he did come, sunk Janice's heart
fathoms deep in an ocean of despair.
"Oh, Daddy, it can't be!" she cried, sobbing against his coat
sleeve in the hall. "Olga wouldn't be so wicked! How could
"It is pretty sure that she has left town and has left no address
behind her. It looks as though she had deliberately tried to
efface herself from the community," said Mr. Broxton Day slowly.
"Are you sure, Janice, that the box cannot be found?"
"Oh, Daddy! I've looked everywhere. Dear Mamma's picture that I
loved so much! And her, diary I"
"More than that, daughter, more than that," said her father, his
own voice breaking. "I should have been more careful about
allowing you to take the box. There was something else--"
"Oh, Daddy! what? I didn't know there was a secret compartment
in the treasure-box," she added wonderingly.
"You would scarcely understand, my dear," he told her with a
heavy sigh. "It was but a shallow place. There were letters in
it--letters which I treasured above everything else in the box.
Letters your Mamma wrote me before you were born, when I was away
from home and she thought she might never see me again. We were
young, then, my dear; and we loved each other very much."
His voice trailed away into silence. The girl, young as she was,
was awed by his grief. She suddenly realized that her own sorrow
over the lost treasure-box was shallow indeed beside her father's
It was some time later that she told him just how well she had
searched for the missing box. She narrated, too, all the
particulars of the early morning cat episode and the trouble
brought about by the mischief-loving Arlo Junior, which she had
been unable to tell him earlier in the day.
"It would seem, then," Mr. Day observed, not unamused by the
account of the neighbors' boy's practical joke, "that if Olga
took the box it was on the spur of the moment. She certainly had
not planned to leave us, but lost her temper and went because she
was in a rage."
"Yes, sir. I suppose so," admitted Janice. "And she was mad at
me, too. I could see she thought I had shut the cats in the back
"Yet Olga's going," said Mr. Broxton Day, still thoughtfully,
"was skillfully planned--just as though she had everything
arranged for it before the row this morning. Don't just
"Oh, Daddy! You don't suppose Olga was one of those awful crooks
we read of in the papers?"
Mr. Broxton threw back his head and laughed in his very heartiest
"Whatever else she was," he said, finally, "I don't think she was
a lady buccaneer. Olga Cedarstrom appeared to be almost as
stupid a person as I ever saw. But she was bad tempered--no doubt
"Yes, Daddy, her disposition was not very sweet,"
admitted Janice, with a sigh.
"But it looks queer," her father pursued. "Sending for an
out-of-town taxi, and all I say, daughter which way did it
"Toward town, Daddy. Right along Knight Street."
"Humph! might have gone right through town and taken the Napsburg
pike. Yet, they could have turned off at Joyce Street and got
into the Dover pike. Or gone to Clewitt, or Preston. Oh, well,"
finished Broxton Day, "that cab could have come from, and
returned to, any one of a dozen places within a few miles of
"But how do you know she was not driven right to the railroad
station, as long as you are sure she did not go to Pickletown?"
"I found out," said Mr. Day, quietly, that there isn't a Swede in
town who drives a taxi. And you say the driver was a Swede, and
that it was a regular taxicab."
"Oh, yes, Daddy. He was one of her own kind of folks. I heard
them talking together when he went up for her trunk. I wish I
had taken the number of that cab!" cried Janice woefully.
"Never mind. Don't blame yourself too harshly, girly."
"But I do blame myself, Daddy," she cried, wiping her eyes.
"Those dear pictures and the diary! And most of all mother's
miniature! Why, Daddy Day! I'd give a million dollars rather
than have lost the treasure-box."
"No use crying over the spilled milk," he said, reflectively.
"It does seem to me as though Olga was not just the sort of
person who would steal--I say! You told me she telephoned for the
"Yes. At least, she telephoned and talked to somebody over the
'phone in Swedish."
"You don't say!" repeated Mr. Day thoughtfully using a Yankeeism
that betrayed his birthplace if nothing else did, although he had
long since come from New England to the Middle West. "Then in
all probability she telephoned to a friend, and the friend sent
the taxicab. I wonder if that Willie Sangreen is in this?
"I tell you!" he exclaimed finally. "In the morning I will go
and see the superintendent of our telephone exchange personally.
Perhaps, when I explain the case, he will tell me the number Olga
"Oh, Daddy! can you do that?"
"There is a record made of every call," he told her. "Now don't
worry more than you can help, Janice. We'll do something about
it. Never fear."
His encouraging "do something" was bound to cheer his little
daughter. She hurried away to see if dinner was not ready, and
caught Delia frankly listening at the door.
"Why, Delia, why didn't you knock or speak?" Janice asked.
But Delia was absolutely unruffled. She drawled:
"I didn't know but you wanted to talk to your Paw some more, and
the dinner could wait."
When, a little later, they were seated at table and Delia
appeared with the first hot dishes, it must be confessed that her
appearance somewhat startled Mr. Broxton Day.
Their anxiety about the lost treasure-box had precluded his
having asked any questions regarding the new houseworker; her
appearance was as startling as though she had come straight from
Janice put her napkin to her lips to hide their trembling. But
her eyes danced. Daddy's amazement was quickly smothered. He
was silent, however, until Delia was out of the room again.
"What do you think of her, Daddy?" giggled the little girl.
"I certainly did not see her before hiring her. In fact, I did
my business over the phone with the manager of the intelligence
office. I gathered from him that
she was a woman of middle age, and "settled," whatever that may
mean. If it means that she can work and stay settled here-- But
what a queer looking creature! How does she seem to take hold,
Janice? Does she seem intelligent?"
"I haven't made up my mind yet," murmured his little daughter.
"She doesn't look as though she knew anything at all. But maybe
she does. You said yourself that we couldn't have anybody worse
"I don't know about that," he retorted. "I may have to take that
back. Sh! Here she comes again."
Aside from the fact that she served cold plates for the roast and
vegetables, and hot ones for the salad; that from her great
height she was almost certain to spill food on the table before
she got a dish set down before them; and that she kept bouncing
in and out of the dining room to ask them if they were ready for
dessert; she managed to get through the meal without making Mr.
Day and Janice any great discomfort.
In the living room, later, when Mr. Day was in his comfortable
chair and Janice had her school books spread out upon the table
under the reading lamp, the father said softly:
"Well, my dear, it is not the sort of life I hoped we would lead
when we built this house. Your dear mother was such a wonderful
housekeeper, and could manage so well. I never had a thought or
a care about the housekeeping affairs. But now--"
"I know, Daddy," broke in Janice earnestly. "If only I didn't
have to go to school!"
"That is something that cannot even be discussed," he rejoined,
smiling at her gravely. "As I told you last night, my dear, what
your mother and I planned regarding your education must be
carried through if possible."
"But college is a long way ahead," said Janice wistfully. "And
meanwhile you are not comfortable and the house is going to rack
and ruin, just as Miss Peckham says."
"Did the old girl say that?" he wanted to know, with rather a
rueful smile on his lips.
"Yes. She was in here the other day and she is so nosey. She
was bound to go all through house, although I did not want her
to. I know it doesn't look spick and span as it should--"
"That is not your fault, Janice," her father said quickly.
"Don't let it worry you. You must stick to your books. And if
we can get nobody better than this woman--or Olga--to help, we
must expect things to be in rather bad shape about the house.
"I suppose there are good housekeepers for hire--somewhere.
They certainly do not seem to be in Greensboro. And, then, I
cannot afford to pay a very high wage. You see, my dear, we are
"No, Daddy," Janice agreed. "I quite know that. But we have
enough, and to spare, I am sure."
"So far we have managed to pull along," he said smiling at her
quizzically. "And perhaps we shall be even better off in time.
I am up to my neck, as the boys say, in an investment in Mexican
mines. I was able to get into it before your dear mother died,
and she quite approved. Several Greensboro men have invested in
the same string of mines and there is ore being got out--ore of
"But thus far there have been no dividends. Rather, we have had
to put in more money for improvements. But when once we get
started producing, you and I may have something like riches."
"Oh, won't that be nice, Daddy!" she exclaimed, wide-eyed and
red-cheeked in her excitement. "To be really rich!"
"Well, we shall be able to engage somebody better fitted perhaps
for the position of housekeeper," sighed Mr. Day, turning to his
"That's all right, Daddy," she said. "But meanwhile I am going
to do all I can to make things go smoother. Just as you said last
night, it can only be brought about by somebody's doing
something. I'll do something, you see if I don't."
She made this declaration cheerfully. But when she closed her
books, kissed daddy, and went up to bed, her countenance was
overcast with an expression far from cheerful.
Only the evening before she had sat here and looked her treasures
over. The diary which mother had kept when she was a little
girl--all the innocent little secrets she had written on the
pages which Janice so delighted to read!
And the lovely miniature, with mother in the very dress she wore
the evening she and Broxton Day were betrothed. Janice knew all
about that. Her mother had talked freely of her courtship and of
what a splendid young man daddy had appeared to be in her eyes.
Her mother's frequently expressed admiration for the young man
who came from New England to win his fortune in the Middle West
was doubtless the foundation of Janice Day's unusual fondness for
That by her carelessness she should have brought about the loss
of the treasure-box and those things which both she and daddy
considered of such personal value, was the thought that weighed
most heavily on the girl's heart.
Without turning on her light, she went to the window and looked
out into the soft spring darkness! Daddy's letters! Mother's
miniature! The treasured old diary that Janice so loved!
Her troubled little heart overflowed. She flung herself down
with her face hidden in her arms folded upon the window sill,
while ungovernable sobs shook her body.
The loss of the treasure-box was a disaster for, which she could
not easily forgive herself.
CHAPTER VI. THE CARRINGFORDS
Janice Day was a friendly little soul; but she was not a girl who
made those close friendships that so many girls make during their
schooldays. There was no one girl from whom she was almost
Janice was just as good friends with Amy Carringford as she was
with Stella Latham; only Amy had been attending the grammar
school a much shorter time than had the farmer's daughter.
Now circumstances attending Stella's proposed birthday party
caused Janice to become much better acquainted with Amy
Carringford. In seeking to do something for Stella, Janice was
determined to do something for Amy.
The Carringford family had taken up their residence during the
winter in Mullen Lane; and it must be confessed that Mullen Lane
was not considered an aristocratic part of the town. Of course,
poor people have to live where living is cheap; but it was said
that Mrs. Carringford, who was a widow, had bought the little
cottage--not much better than a hut--in which she and her little
family had taken up their dwelling.
Why people like the Carringford, manifestly well bred and
intelligent, had chosen Mullen Lane to live in puzzled not only
the busybodies, like Miss Peckham, of this part of Greensboro,
but amazed other people as well.
Wherever Mrs. Carringford appeared--at church, Or in the
neighborhood stores on Knight and Cassandra Streets--people saw
that she was a well bred woman, though plainly, even shabbily,
There were several children besides Amy and the
Unfortunately-named Gumswith, and they dressed poorly, too. But
even if Gummy's trousers were patched at the knees, as Stella
Latham had pointed out, they were patched neatly, and his linen
Of course, nobody called on Mrs. Carringford; at least, almost
nobody. The rickety little cottage in Mullen Lane did not
attract callers by its outward appearance, that was sure. That
it was a shelter for a family that had been sorely tried by fate,
none of the neighbors knew.
It was Janice Day, when she made a frank attempt to know Amy
Carringford better, who began first to learn particulars about
the Carringford family. There was not much queer or mysterious
about them; merely they were people who failed to advertise their
private affairs to the community at large.
Janice had gained Stella Latham's promise that she would not tell
the secret of the party dress, if Amy should consent to borrow
it, before she sounded Amy as to whether she was going to accept
the invitation to
the party or not. According to Stella, who was really very silly
about such things, the birthday party was to be a very "dressy"
affair. Stella talked about this phase of it in season and out.
First of all, Janice demanded that one of the highly ornate
invitations Stella's mother had had printed in the Greensboro
Bugle printing office should be sent to Amy. There should be no
hedging, Janice determined, after that. Amy was to be asked like
the other girls and boys of their grade.
"But if she hasn't got a decent dress?" murmured Stella, when she
was mailing the invitation to Amy.
"I told you I'd see that she did have a party dress," Janice said
sharply. "I can't agree to find whole trousers for Gummy," and
she giggled; "so you needn't invite him if you don't want to.
But Amy will be all right."
"Maybe she will be too proud to wear your dress, Janice Day!"
"Then she won't come," rejoined Janice. "But you are not to tell
a soul that the dress is mine, if she does wear it."
"We-ell," sighed Stella, somewhat relieved.
The farmer's daughter knew that there would be much comment if
she left Amy off the invitation list. She was glad to leave the
matter in Janice Day's hands. And she did not remark again, at
least, not openly, upon Janice being "so sly."
Without being at all sly, Janice did go about doing something for
Amy Carringford with considerable shrewdness. She had never
walked home with Amy from school. She did not like the purlieus
of Mullen Lane. But this afternoon she attached herself to Amy
with all the power of adherence of a mollusk, and they were
chattering too fast to stop abruptly when they came to the comer
of Knight Street, where usually Janice turned off.
Mullen Lane touched Love Street at its upper end, so Janice could
go all the way to the Carringford house without going much out of
her way. She went on with Amy, swinging her books; and at first
Amy did not seem to notice that Janice was keeping with her right
into the muddy, littered lane on which she lived.
"Why, Janice!" said Amy, finally, "you are away out of your way."
"Oh, I can go up the lane to Love Street," returned Janice
carelessly, and just as though she were used to doing that.
Amy, who was a pretty, blonde girl, gazed at her companion rather
curiously; but Janice was quite calm.
"That is the house where I live," said Amy, in a changed tone, as
they came in sight of the cottage.
"Oh, yes," replied Janice.
Aside from the fact that the house needed paint and new window
shutters, and a new roof, and new planks for the piazza, and
numerous other things, it was not such a bad looking house.
Janice noticed something at first glance: it was only things that
poor people could not get or that a boy could not tinker that was
needed about the Carringford house to make it neat and
The fences were on the line, had been braced, and there were no
pickets missing. The gates hung true. The walks were neatly
kept and there were brilliant flower beds in front, for flower
seeds cost little. What the Carringford could do to make the
place homelike without spending money, had certainly been done.
"It's an awful place to live," ventured Amy, still gazing
sidewise at Janice.
"Oh," said the latter brightly, "you don't mean that! You are all
together and are all well."
"Yes, there are a lot of us." And Amy said it with a sigh. "It
seems as though there were an awful lot of children, now that
"Did you lose your father recently--just as I did my mother?"
asked Janice softly.
"Year and a half ago. That is why we came here, There was some
insurance money. Somebody persuaded mother to buy a home for us
with it. I don't know whether it was good advice or not; but she
bought this place because it was cheap. And she could not pay
for it all, at that; so I don't know but we're likely to lose the
money she put into it, and the old shack, too."
Amy spoke rather bitterly. Janice, with natural tact, thought
this was no time to probe deeper into the financial affairs of
the Carringfords. She saw Gummy, who was a year older than Amy,
in the yard. He had got home from school first, and he stared
when he saw Janice.
"Hullo, Gummy!" the latter called to the boy with the patched
trousers. "What are you doing there? Are you laying sod for a
border to that garden-bed?"
"No. I'm trimming an opera cloak with green ermine," said the
boy, but grinning. "What are you doing around here in Dirty-face
"Oh, Gummy!" exclaimed Amy.
"What a name to call the street!" objected Janice.
"Well, that's what it is," returned the boy, continuing to pound
the sod into place. "Nobody in this street ever washes his
"Why Gummy Carringford!" exclaimed his sister again.
"I'm sure Amy washes her face whether you do or not," chuckled
"Oh, me!" sniffed the boy, but his eyes still twinkling. "I'm
Janice's laughter was a silver peal that brought three or four
younger Carringfords, including the twins, to the side door.
They peered out at their sister and the girl with her, but were
"What a jolly lot of little ones!" sighed Janice. "You know, Amy,
I'm all alone. I haven't any brothers or sisters."
"Don't you want to adopt me?" asked Gummy, who overheard her.
"I certainly would have to change your name," declared Janice.
"No," and he shook his head, his freckled face becoming grave.
"Got to stick to the old name--just like gum sticks."
"Oh, my dear, is that you?" cried Mrs. Carringford, coming to the
door, her brown face flushing pink. "And one of your
She came out on the porch. She had a very pleasant smile, Janice
thought, and her brown eyes were as bright as a woodpecker's.
"This is Janice Day. She's in my class, Mother," said Amy,
rather hesitatingly, it must be confessed.
"Yes, I know her name," said Mrs. Carringford, and now Janice was
near enough to take the hand of Amy's mother. "How do you do, my
dear? I have seen you before. I am always glad to meet Amy's
Had it not been for the warmth of the good woman's greeting
Janice would have felt that she was unwelcome at the little
cottage on Mullen Lane. Amy seemed to hang back, and not invite
her schoolmate into the house.
"Here is something the postman brought you, Amy," her mother went
She reached inside the door to a shelf and brought forth an
object that Janice recognized. It was the big white envelope
containing the invitation to Stella Latham's party.
"Hi! I know what that is," cried Gummy, rising to look at the
envelope. "Lots of the fellows got 'em. That Latham girl that
lives out on the Dover pike is going to have a party. Crickey!
I didn't suppose she would invite us."
"She hasn't invited you I guess," his mother told him. "It is
addressed to your sister."
"Oh! I see."
Amy had flushed brightly, and her eyes sparkled. She was tearing
open the envelope eagerly.
"Oh!" she sighed, "I didn't expect this. Did you get yours,
"Yes, Stella asked me. But she didn't send out: all the
invitations at once," said Janice slowly,
"You'll go of course, won't you?"
Then suddenly Amy's voice stopped. She looked at her mother.
The glow went out of her face. She let one of the smaller
children take the invitation out of her hand.
"I don't know," she said slowly. "I'll have to see."
"Won't you come in, Janice?" asked Mrs. Carringford, seeking to
cover her daughter's embarrassment.
"I will for a minute, thank you," was Janice Day's smiling reply.
"You know, I like Amy, Mrs. Carringford, and I have never been to
her house before, and she has never been to mine."
Her speech helped to cover her friend's hesitation. Amy tripped
in behind Janice and suddenly gave her a hearty squeeze.
"She's an awfully nice girl, Mumsy!" she said to her mother.
Janice laughed. But her bright eyes were taking in much besides
the smiling expression on her friends' faces. The Carringford
kitchen was like wax. Mrs. Carringford had been washing in one
comer of the room, and there was a boiler drying behind the
stove. But there was nothing sloppy or sudsy about the room.
The woman had whisked off the big apron she had worn when Janice
entered, and now the latter saw that her work dress was spotless.
"Oh, dear me!" thought Janice, "how nice it would be if our
kitchen--and our whole house--were like this. How delighted Daddy
But there was something else she did not at first see. She had to
get acquainted with all the younger Carringfords. She must talk
with Mrs. Carringford. Gummy came in after washing his hands and
rubbing his shoes clean on the doormat to talk to the caller.
Then Amy carried Janice off upstairs to her own tiny room under
There was no carpet on the stairs. The matting on the floor of
Amy's room was much worn. There was nothing really pretty in the
room. Janice suddenly realized that this spelled "poverty."
Yet it was cheerful and speckless, and there were pictures of a
kind, and little home-made ornaments and a few books.
The window curtains were of the cheapest, but they were looped
back gracefully. There was a workbox and stand that Gummy had
made for Amy, for the brother was handy with tools.
Altogether there was something about the room, and about the ugly
little house as well, that Janice Day realized she did not have
at home. She had had it once; but it was not present now in the
Day house. In the Carringford dwelling the magic wand of a true
homemaker had touched it all.
The two girls chatted for almost an hour. It was mostly about
school matters and their friends and the teachers. Amy talked,
too, about friends in Napsburg, where the Carringfords had lived
before moving to Greensboro. Janice was adroit in keeping the
conversation on rather general topics, and did not allow the
question of Stella's party to come to the fore and never once did
she speak of what any of the girls would wear on that occasion.
The time to leave came, and then Janice felt she should enter the
wedge which would afterwards gain for her the desired end.
"You'll go to Stella's party, won't you?" asked Janice as she
prepared to go home.
"Oh, I don't know. I'll see," Amy hurriedly said.
"Of course you will go," Janice declared firmly. "I want you to
go with me. I sha'n't feel like going at all if you stay away,
They kissed each other on the stairway, and then Janice ran home,
swinging her books. She thought the Carringford were very
pleasant people. But there were several mysteries about them.
First of all she wanted to know how Gummy came to have such an
awful, awful name!
CHAPTER VII. ARLO JUNIOR AGAIN
Just as Janice was running in at the Love Street gate she was
halted by Arlo Junior. Junior kept well out of the way at first,
but his tone was confident well as ameliorating.
"Aw, I say, Janice?' he begged, "you ain't mad at me, are you?"
"Why shouldn't I be?" she demanded, her face flushing and the
hazel eyes sparking in an indignant way.
"Well, I mean-- Well, I hope you ain't," stammered Arlo Junior,
unable entirely to smother a grin, and yet plainly anxious to
pacify Janice. "You see, Janice, my mother was coming up from
downtown and she Saw you whacking me the other day."
"Yes, she saw you," said Junior, nodding. "So I had to tell her
something of what made you do it."
"Indeed?" demanded Janice scornfully. "And what did you tell
"I told her about the cats. Anyway, I told her left your back
kitchen door open and that the cats got in there and fought. Oh,
Je-mi-ma, how they did fight! didn't they? I heard 'em after I
got back into the house that morning," and Junior began to
"They didn't fight," said Janice shortly. "What you heard was
Olga pitching coal at 'em. And then she up and left us. We had
to get another girl. And this new girl won't clean up the mess
in the back kitchen. That's what you did Arlo Weeks and I've got
to clean up that room because of you."
"Oh, Je-mi-ma!" gasped Junior, giggling no more now. "Is that how
Miss Peckham's Sam-cat got hurt?"
"What do you know about that?" demanded Janice quickly.
"Miss Peckham's been all over the neighborhood talking about it.
She found the cat with a broken leg. Got a veterinary. Put it
in a plaster cast. Did you ever?"
"Well!" murmured Janice.
"I tell you what; don't let's say anything about it," begged
Junior eagerly. "I tell you what I'll do. I'll come over
Saturday and help you clean up all the mess the cats and the girl
made. But don't say a word."
"Well," said Janice again.
"Now you promise, Janice," wheedled Junior. "If my mother learns
all about the cat business, there will be a big row. And all I
did--really--was to open that back kitchen door and then shut it
again after the cats got inside."
"They would never have gone in if you hadn't thrown the catnip in
there," declared Janice warmly. "You know that very well,
"Well, you won't say anything about it, will you, Janice, if I
come and clean up the kitchen?"
"Well," said Janice for a third time, "let's see you do it. I