Part 3 out of 5
Mrs. Watkins was ladylike in her demeanor. They became used to
her sitting at the table with them and quite governing the trend
of conversation at meals, as she did. Neither Janice nor her
father liked to have the woman bring her tatting, which was her
usual evening employment, into the living-room after dinner, for
that was the only time when daughter and father could be
confidential. But they did not see how they could overcome this
annoyance without offending the woman.
At the end of the month Mr. Day was startled by the increase in
the household bills. Mrs. Watkins had served them rather better
food, it was true, than they had been getting of late; but a good
many cutlets, sweetbreads, chops and steaks, seemed never to have
appeared on the dinner table.
"I always feel the need of a hearty lunch Mr. Day," sniffed Mrs.
Watkins. "I really need it after doing the morning's work. To
keep one's self in condition is a duty we owe ourselves don't you
"You seem to have stocked up pretty well with canned goods, Mrs.
Watkins," was Broxton Day's rejoinder, now scanning the long
memorandum from Harriman's. "Dear, dear! French peas? And
imported marmalade? And canned mushrooms? Do you use all these
things, Mrs. Watkins?"
"Oh, they are most useful, Mr. Day. One never knows when one may
have company or wish to make a special dish. I have been used to
the best, Mr. Day. Of course, if you wish to limit my
purchases--" and she sniffed.
"Humph! I am not a rich man. We are not in the habit of using
imported provisions of this quality. I expect you to buy good
food and all that is sufficient. But such luxuries as these we
Mrs. Watkins merely sniffed again. Broxton Day, when he paid the
bills at the stores, pointed out to Mr. Harriman and to the
butcher that the goods bought seemed to cost considerably more
than they previously had.
"Why, Mr. Day, you are buying a different quality of goods from
what you have been used to," said Harriman. "Here's butter, for
instance. That is our best-- print butter, seven cents a pound
higher than the tub butter you used to buy. Those eggs are
selected white Leghorns, come to us sealed in boxes, and are
fifteen cents more a dozen than ordinary fresh eggs."
The butcher told him something else. "Yes, you are getting the
best grade of everything we carry, Mr. Day. That lady at your
house evidently knows what she wants."
"Look here!" exclaimed Broxton Day, with some heat. "I haven't
suddenly become a millionaire. I can't stand these prices. When
she comes in here to buy, give her the grade of meat we have
always had. And remember that I can't, and won't, pay for
sweetbreads at a dollar and a half a pair."
"Why, bless you!" said the butcher, grinning, "I've never seen
the lady. She always telephones. She's some relative of yours,
isn't she, Mr. Day? She certainly does order high-handed."
"And she wanted to do the marketing herself," groaned Broxton
Day, as he went away after paying the bill. "I wonder what I am
up against? Things do go better at the house; but I wonder if I
can stand the pressure."
He did not know how much Janice had to do with making things at
the house go so much more smoothly. The little girl was
determined that daddy should not be troubled by household matters
if she could help it.
With Olga Cedarstrom or the half-foolish Delia in the house, it
was impossible to keep from daddy's eyes the things that went
wrong. Now it was different. Mrs. Watkins was very sly in
making everything appear all right before Broxton Day. On the
other hand Janice showed an equal amount of slyness (of which she
had been previously accused!) in helping hide the numerous things
that would have troubled daddy.
There was waste in the kitchen. Mrs. Watkins was a big eater,
but a delicate eater. She never wished to see the same thing on
the table twice. A poor family could have been fed fairly well
from what the woman flung into the garbage.
Janice had never been used to seeing such recklessness, even when
only an ignorant servant was doing the work. At those times food
was bought with a less lavish hand. Now there was seldom anything
left, so Mrs. Watkins said, from one meal to warm up for another.
"I don't know what to do--I really don't," Janice confessed to
Any Carringford who, by this time, had become her very closest
friend and confidante. "Daddy has many business troubles, I
know. It bothers him greatly to be annoyed by household matters.
And he ought not to be so annoyed. But that woman!"
"It is too bad, honey," Amy said. "I wish my mother could help
you. She knows everything about housekeeping."
"I know that is so," agreed Janice. "I wish Mrs. Watkins was a
lady like your mother, Amy. Then the house would go all right
and daddy needn't be bothered at all. I feel I ought to do
something; but I don't know what."
Aside from cooking the meals, which she did very nicely, it must
be confessed, Mrs. Watkins gradually allowed most of the
responsibility for the housework to slide on to Janice's young
The young girl got up an hour earlier than usual, and she busied
herself sweeping and dusting and making beds right up to the
minute she had to seize her books and lunch and run to school.
She was quite sure that Mrs. Watkins went back to bed after
breakfast, and really did little towards keeping the house in
order until afternoon.
And if there was any scrubbing, or hard work to do, that was left
until Saturday. Nobody ever saw Mrs. Watkins on her knees,
unless it was at her devotions!
However, Janice Day was too sanguine to be made melancholy by
these affairs. She was of a naturally cheerful nature--an
attribute she inherited from her father. It took more than the
faded-out lady to cause the girl overwhelming anxiety.
The stroke that had been the hardest for her to bear since her
mother's death was the loss of the treasure-box and the heirlooms
in it. Whether or not the Swedish girl, Olga Cedarstrom, had
carried the valuables away with her, Janice felt all the time
that she had only herself to blame because of the loss. And she
realized that the loss of the packet of letters had saddened
"If I had not been careless! If I had put the box back into the
wall-safe before I went to bed! If I had remembered when I saw
Arlo Junior and the cats! Dear me," murmured Janice more than
once, "'If,' 'if,' 'if!' If the rabbit hadn't stopped for a nap
beside the track, the tortoise would not have won the race."
"But, what under the sun," Gummy Carringford asked, "could have
become of Olga and her fella? That is certainly a mystery."
With Amy and her brother, the boy with the odd name, Janice often
discussed the lost treasure-box. She and daddy did not speak so
much together about it as at first. It seemed to be hopelessly
With the Carringfords Janice had become very friendly, as has
been said. In the first place, Mrs. Carringford very much liked
Janice Day. And how could she and her children help but be
grateful to the little girl who lived at Eight-forty-five Knight
The birthday party at Stella Lathams' house was now at hand.
Mrs. Carringford had not yet been able to make over Mr. Day's
clothes to fit Gummy; and he was not invited to the party,
anyway. He was one grade in advance of the three girls in
school, and Stella considered this excuse enough for not inviting
him to her birthday fete. But Amy was radiant in the pink and
white frock Janice had donated.
"Never mind," said Gummy, who was of a cheerful spirit, too.
"I'm glad the party will be on Friday instead of Saturday night.
I'll be out of the store early enough Friday night to come to the
Latham place to beau you girls home."
"Maybe we'll have beaux of our own and won't want you," said Amy
"Don't mind what she says, Gummy," cried Janice. "I won't have
any beau but you. I shall expect you. So don't fail me."
Stella Latham's expectations had been high, indeed, regarding her
party; nor was she disappointed. Her father and mother had done
everything they thought would please their only daughter; and
surely the cost had not been considered.
The house, and the grounds around it, were charmingly
lighted--the outside lamps being those gaudy and curious forms
containing lighted candles, and called Japanese lanterns.
The Latham place on the Dover pike, was one of the show places of
the countryside. Mr. Latham was wealthy and could well afford to
give his daughter's friends an entertainment that might better,
perhaps, have been offered older guests.
Stella was growing up too fast. Because she was aping older and
foolishly fashionable folk, she was becoming an exacting,
precocious girl--not at all the innocent and joyous child she
should have been at fourteen years of age.
Her mother feared that all was not right with Stella; yet she was
too weak and easy-going a woman to correct her daughter with a
strong hand. She had observed Janice Day on two occasions when
the latter had come with other young friends of Stella's to the
house, and had commented favorably upon Janice's character.
"There is a girl you might pattern after, Stella, and it would do
you good," said the somewhat unwise Mrs. Latham.
"Humph! I don't see why you say that, Ma," said Stella. "Janice
Day isn't half as pretty as Mary Pierce. And she dresses in half
mourning because of her mother's death. She hasn't got any style
"She is a very shrewd and sensible young person," declared Mrs.
Latham. "I wish you were more like her."
It was from this remark that Stella had derived the statement
that Janice was "sly." That term, quite justly, might have been
applied to Stella. For Stella would have cared very little if
neither Janice nor Amy Carringford had come to the birthday
Only Mr. Latham had insisted that his daughter should invite
every girl in her grade at school. He was wiser than his wife.
"You don't want any ill-feelings among your mates," he told
Janice Day, therefore, whether "shrewd" or "sly," had helped
Stella in the matter of fulfilling Mr. Latham's command. Amy, as
sweet as a rose, appeared in the pretty pink and white dress that
had been made by the dear fingers of Janice's mother.
At first Janice could scarcely look at her friend in the frock
without feeling the tears start to her eyes. But, then,she knew
that mother would have approved fully of this gift she had made.
And Amy Carringford was good and attractive.
There was such a large number of young folks at the Latham place
that evening that when it came time for the refreshments, every
one of the farmer's hired help was called in, either as waiters
or in the kitchen.
It took a good many waiters, too, for there were many steps to be
taken back and forth to the kitchen. Mr. Latham had had a large
canvas canopy stretched out in one corner of the yard, and under
this were set the tables. And pretty, indeed, did they look
under the soft lights of the numerous candles in their shiny
whiteness of heavy napery, polished silver, dainty porcelain, and
What appealed more, however, to the hearty appetites of the young
people were the quantifies of sandwiches, the olives and pickles
and the bowls of salad, the rich cakes, the heaps of ice-cream,
the hot chocolate. The Lathams were lavish at all times, and
when they gave a formal party the table was heaped with the
richest and most delicious food they could provide. No wonder it
took many hands to make things run smoothly.
"Goodness!" said Stella, within hearing of Janice and Amy,
"there's such a crowd in that kitchen you've no idea! And some
of the help are perfectly useless! You know, mother had the
folks come up from both tenant houses to help, and one of the
women--the Swedish one --has just broken one of mother's biggest
"I thought I heard a crash out there," said Janice.
"It is too bad," Amy added. "Of course the woman did not mean
"Well!" sniffed Stella, "that won't make the dish whole. It's
worth money, too."
"Dear me," said Amy reflectively. "I guess Swedish girls must be
bad luck. You know, it was a Swedish girl that stole that box
"What box?" asked Stella, quickly. "A jewel box?"
"All the jewelry I owned," said Janice, with rather a rueful
smile. "But more than that. Mother's miniature --and other
things. At least, we suppose that Olga took the box when she
left us so hurriedly."
"Olga!" exclaimed Stella. "Fancy! You don't mean that was her
"Yes, 'Olga' she was called," Janice said wonderingly.
"That's the name Of this girl that broke the dish."
"Why, how funny!" exclaimed Amy
"That's not funny," rejoined Janice seriously. "Is she named
"Goodness! I don't know her last name. She comes from one of
our tenant houses. It's far away. Mother sent her home with a
flea in her ear, now I tell you, after she had broken that dish."
Janice was disturbed. "I wish you knew her last name. What sort
of looking girl is she? Are you sure she has already left the
"Come on!" cried Amy, jumping up. "Let's run around there and
see. Take us to the kitchen door, Stella."
"Well, yes. We can look. But I guess she has gone," said the
They had been sitting on the front porch. Stella led them
quickly around to the rear of the big house.
CHAPTER XIV. COULD IT BE OLGA?
It was a beautiful evening, this of Stella Latham's birthday
party. It was not often that the climate gave the people of
Greensboro, this early in the season, such a soft and temperate
There was no moon, but the stars plentifully besprinkled the
heavens, and their light bathed the area surrounding the Latham
house, beyond the radiance of the Japanese lanterns, sufficiently
for the three girls to see objects at some distance.
Before they reached the back door of the farmhouse, Amy cried
"Oh, girls! What's that? A ghost?"
"Ghost your granny!" exclaimed Stella. "That is somebody running
along the hedge in a white skirt."
"It is a woman or a girl," Janice agreed, staring at the rapidly
moving figure. "Is there a path there?"
"That is the path to one tenant house. Wait till I ask Anna, the
She hurried to the back door, and her two friends, waiting at the
pasture-lane bars, heard her ask if the woman who had broken the
dish had gone.
"The awkward thing!" exclaimed Anna, the cook. "She's just this
"What is her name, Anna?" asked Stella, knowing that Janice was
"I don't know, Miss. Some outlandish Swedish name."
"Goodness me! Don't ask me what else besides 'Olga' she is
named," said the irritable cook, "for I couldn't tell you. I
couldn't tell you my own name, scarcely, to-night. I'm that
Hearing all this plainly, Janice murmured to Amy: "I wish I dared
follow her. Suppose it should be Olga?"
"Well, she is going right to that small house that belongs to Mr.
Latham. Stella says she lives there, whoever she is."
Just then a figure popped up beside them. Gummy's cheerful voice
"What's the trouble, girls?"
"Oh!" cried Janice.
"Goodness!" said the boy's sister. "How you scare one, Gummy!
Why, it isn't near time to go home."
"I got off earlier than I expected. So I came out and have been
hanging around at the back here for half an hour."
"Oh. Gummy! did you see that woman?" Janice asked, seizing his
"See there?' cried his sister, pointing. "That white thing going
over the hill."
"Yes, I saw her. She came out of the kitchen, and she was
crying. They had a row in there."
"Oh, Gummy! What did she look like?" murmured Janice.
"Yes, Gummy, tell us quick!" urged his sister.
"I tell you she was crying, and she had her handkerchief up to
her face. So I did not see much of it. But her hair was 'lasses
color, and she had it bobbed back so tight that I guess she
couldn't shut her eyes until she undid it," chuckled Gummy.
"Oh, Amy!" ejaculated Janice, with clasped hands, "that is the
way Olga used to do her hair."
"Not Olga, the Swede, who robbed you?" demanded the boy,
interested at once.
"Yes. It might be Olga. If you had only seen her face--"
"I'll see her face all right," declared Gummy, starting off.
"I'll tell you just where she goes and what she looks like.
Don't you girls go home without me."
He was gone on the track of the flying woman like a dart. He was
out of sight, being in dark garments, before Stella came back
from the kitchen door.
"Don't tell her about Gummy," whispered Amy quickly. "She'll
think, maybe, that he's been hanging around like those strange
boys over the fence in front."
"Not a word," agreed Janice, smiling. "I wouldn't give Gummy
"There isn't anybody in the kitchen who knows that girl very
well," said Stella, who was really showing herself interested in
Janice Day's trouble. "I asked them all. This girl, Olga, is
staying with Mrs. Johnson. Mrs. Johnson has a little baby to
care for and couldn't come to-night. So this friend of hers came
up to help. And she helped all right!" concluded Stella, with
emphasis. "That dish is in a thousand pieces."
"Isn't it too bad?" said Amy, sympathetically.
"It's a mean shame," Stella declared. "I bet she'd steal. You'd
better come over here tomorrow and find her. I'll bring you back
in the auto with me after I go shopping, and we'll ride around by
Mr. Johnson's house. He's one of father's farmers, you know."
"I'll tell daddy," Janice said, but in some doubt. "I'm awfully
much obliged to you, Stella. You are real kind."
This pleased Stella Latham. She liked being praised, and as long
as kindness did not cost her much of anything, she was glad to be
The entertainment of her boy and girl friends continued gaily,
despite the breaking of the big cutglass dish. It was almost
eleven o'clock when the party broke up and the guests began to
leave, shouting their congratulations to Stella as they went.
Janice and Amy Carringford found Gummy waiting for them at the
"Oh, Gummy!" whispered Janice, "did you see her?"
"Sure," declared the boy. "That's what I went after, wasn't it?
A sight of the Swedish girl's phisamahogany?"
"Gummy!" remonstrated his sister.
"But was it Olga?" demanded Janice, too deeply interested in the
subject of Olga to be patient with sisterly reproof.
"Oh, say! How can I be sure of that? I never saw her before."
"Tell us all about it, Gummy," urged Janice.
"Why, you see," said the excited boy. "I ran's hard as I could
and I overbrook that girl at the took"
"What? What?" gasped Janice. "Say that again, Gummy."
His sister went off into a gale of laughter. "Oh, Gummy!" she
cried, "you 'overbrook' her at the 'took,' did you? Your
tongue's twisted again."
"Oh, pshaw!" exclaimed Gummy. "Of course, I mean I overtook her
at the brook."
"That's better," giggled Amy. "But you did get awfully 'gummed
up,' Gummy, didn't you?"
"Huh!" he snorted.
"He's the most awful boy you ever saw, Janice. He is always
getting twisted in his talk."
"Like the young man in church who asked the girl if he could
'occupew a seat in this pie?'"
"Even worse than that," cried Amy, much to her brother's disgust.
"Why, years ago when we lived in Napsburg, where the twins were
born, he made an awful mistake--and to our minister, too."
"Aw," objected Gummy, "can't you keep anything to yourself?"
"Go on," urged Janice.
"Now, I say!" again protested the boy.
"Listen, Janice!" giggled Amy. "It's awfully funny. The minister
met Gummy on the street and asked him what we had decided to call
"'You know, I expect to christen them, Gumswith,' he said to
Gummy, 'and I want to be sure to get the names right. What are
"And what do you suppose Gummy said?"
"I am sure I couldn't guess," Janice declared. "Let's see: the
twins are Sydney and Kate, aren't they?
"That is right," giggled Amy. "But Gummy told the minister we
had decided to call them 'Kidney and Steak'!"
Janice herself was convulsed with laughter at this. Gummy was
annoyed about it.
"Why don't you keep something to yourself once in a while, Amy?"
he growled to his sister. "Janice will think I'm a perfect
"Come on now, Gummy," Janice interrupted cheerily. "You are
keeping something to yourself that I very much want to know."
"Oh! About that Swede! Amy knocked it clear out of my head,"
declared the boy.
"Well, let us hear about it," urged Janice.
"Why, I overtook the girl at the brook," said Gummy, getting the
statement right this time. "She might be just the girl you are
looking for, from what you told me about her looks. I saw her
face plainly when I passed her."
"Where did she go?"
"To that little house at the end of the farm road, just where it
opens into the turnpike. Oh, I've seen the place before. I
drove out past there the other day for Mr. Harriman."
"That must be the Johnson's house," Janice said. "That is what
Stella said the tenant's name was."
"Well, she went in there," said Gummy. "She seemed in a dreadful
hurry. She pounded on the door, and she called to them in
Swedish. I waited behind the hedge until she got in and the
family was quieted down again."
"That's good! It's 'most sure to be Olga, Janice, and you can
see her to-morrow and get your box back--at least, find out where
it is," said Amy encouragingly.
"Well, I'll tell daddy," sighed Janice. "It may be the same
Olga. I hope so. And if she has got my box of treasures--well!
I'll forgive her anything if I only get back mother's picture and
CHAPTER XV. THE LOST TRAIL
Mr. Day had not yet gone to bed when the young folks reached the
house; but Mrs. Watkins had long since retired. The light in the
living room assured Janice that her father awaited her return,
and bidding Amy and Gummy good-night at the gate, she ran into
the house in great excitement.
"Oh, Daddy! Daddy! Guess!" she cried to him. "Just think! She
broke a big cutglass dish, and I'm 'most sure it's Olga--"
"Wait!" exclaimed Mr. Day, putting up both hands. "Mercy, I
pray, my dear. I don't know what you are talking about."
"But you know Olga, Daddy."
"To my sorrow," he groaned, "It can't be that you have found out
anything about that Swedish girl? I have been searching
Pickletown again this evening."
"Oh, Daddy!" she cried, "maybe Olga is just where you can find
her to-morrow. And she did break one of Mrs. Latham's very best
"Let us hear all about this in due order," laughed Broxton Day.
"I can see that you are far too much excited to go promptly to
bed. Explain yourself, my dear."
When he had heard it all, he did not appear to be as much
impressed as Janice expected him to be. It was a small chance,
in his opinion, that the girl who had broken Mrs. Latham's dish
was the same Olga who had for two months held sway in the Day
"But we will make a pilgrimage to the cottage on the back of the
Latham farm," Daddy promised. "If I can get away from the bank
early to-morrow afternoon, we will go. I know the place, and
there is a family of Swedish people living there. Of course, by
chance, it might be Olga your friend Gummy followed home."
"Oh, no! It would be providential, Daddy," Janice declared,
smiling. "You say yourself that Providence is not chance."
"True," he agreed, with gravity. "If we get back the
treasure-box, with all in it, I shall be very, very thankful
indeed, and shall consider it a Providential happening."
"Daddy, dear!" whispered Janice.
It was at these times, when they spoke of the lost treasures,
that Janice was so heart-stricken because of daddy's expression
of countenance. Those letters from her dear, dead mother, which
her father prized so highly, were continually in Broxton Day's
mind. She realized it was a loss that time would hardly mend.
"And all my fault! All my fault!" she sobbed when she was alone
in her bedroom. "Had I not been so dreadfully careless Olga
would never have got hold of that box when she was mad and run
off with it. And suppose she doesn't think the things in it are
worth much? She might throw them away!"
So, despite the good time they had had at Stella Latham's party,
Janice went to bed in no happy frame of mind.
Saturday was bound to be a very busy day; and Janice did not wake
up early. Daddy left a note for her on the table saying he would
be at home with some kind of a conveyance not long after the bank
closed at one o'clock.
She knew what that meant. They were to ride out to the Johnson
house and make inquiries for the girl, Olga. Janice was sorry she
had slept so late, for Mrs. Watkins expected her to do what she
termed "her share" of the work.
"If your pa lets you sit up till all hours, so that you're not
fit for anything in the morning, should I be blamed?" complained
the faded-out lady. "I'm sure I have enough to do every day, and
all day. I have got to have some help on Saturdays and that is
all there is to it."
Janice knew well enough that the reason the work piled up so upon
the last day of the week was because it was allowed to accumulate
through the other days. But the kitchen floor did have to be
scrubbed. It was a sight!
If the woman would only mop it every other day it would not be so
bad; but it seemed to Janice that Mrs. Watkins would just wade
through dirt to her knees in the kitchen before she would use
either mop or scrubbing brush.
It was true that daddy did not often look into the kitchen, now
that there was somebody supposedly capable of keeping the room,
as well as the rest of the house, in order. And Janice was glad
he did not look around the house much.
Such training as she had enjoyed under her mother's eye had made
Janice thorough. Mrs. Day had been a thoroughly good
And she had always kept so well up with her housework that there
were never any difficult jobs left to haunt one, and her house
looked always neat. Nor was she obliged to keep half her
prettily furnished rooms shut up to keep them clean!
Janice did all she could on this short Saturday morning. She had
first of all to he sure that daddy's room was dusted--every bit.
Then there were the halls and stairs to do. After those, the
porches must be swept.
"For you know," sighed Mrs. Watkins, "it looks so much better for
a child like you to be out sweeping the porch and paths than what
it would me."
Janice could not quite understand this reasoning. But she knew
it must be a deal easier for Mrs. Watkins to rock in a chair in
the house than to wield the broom. That went without saying.
She did not think of lunch, although the faded-out lady did not
neglect her own. Janice was down on her hands and knees, with
scrubbing brush and pail, when the housekeeper carried some
savory dish or other into the dining room.
"I presume since you had your breakfast so late you will not care
to eat now," said the woman. To tell the truth, a tear or two
dropped into the strong soda water in the pail.
"Though I don't believe salt will help start the grease-spots on
this floor," Janice thought, rubbing her eyes with the wrist of
one hand. "There! I am a regular cry-baby. I said I would do
something to relieve daddy of bothering about the housework. And
if scrubbing a floor is the best I can do--"
Suddenly a shadow appeared at the door. Janice looked up and
squealed. There was daddy himself--at least an hour and a half
"Well, well!" exclaimed Broxton Day, rather sternly, "what is
the meaning of this?"
"Dirt on the floor boards--scrubbing brush--elbow grease,"
retorted his daughter, making vigorous explanatory motions.
"Didn't you ever see a 'scrub lady' before, Daddy?"
"Humph! so there is a Cinderella in the house is there?" he said.
Mrs. Watkins opened the dining-room door. She was swallowing a
mouthful which seemed to go down hard. Mr. Day's unexpected
appearance disturbed her.
"Oh, Mr. Day," she cried, feebly, "have--have you had your
"I have, Mrs. Watkins," he replied. Then to Janice: "No matter
how much you may like to scrub floors, my dear, you will have to
leave this one for Mrs. Watkins to finish. There is a car at the
door. I have borrowed it for a couple of hours, and you must
make haste and put on something different and come with me to
look for Olga."
"Well," Janice got up from her knees slowly.
"Hurry," said daddy sternly. And he stood and waited until
Janice went out of the room.
"So you will not have lunch, Mr. Day?" asked Mrs. Watkins coolly.
"No. But there is one thing I will have, Mrs. Watkins," he said
sternly. "I will have you attend to your work, and not put it on
Janice, while you remain here!"
"I do not understand you, sir," said the woman, her nose in the
"Let me make myself plain then," said Broxton Day. "I will not
pay you wages to shift such work as this," pointing to the
scrub-pail, "upon my daughter. I want that understood here and
now. I can no longer give you carte blanche at the grocery and
provision store. I will do the marketing myself hereafter. You
will furnish the lists."
"Sir?" ejaculated Mrs. Watkins haughtily.
"I have kept tabs on the accounts this last week. In no seven
days since I was married have the expenses for the table been
half what they have been this week."
"I am not used to a poverty-stricken household, Mr. Day!" sneered
"But you soon will be," Broxton Day told her grimly, "if I let
you have a free hand in this way. I am not a rich man, and I
soon will be a poor one at this rate."
"I want you to understand, Mr. Day, that no lady can demean
"Wait a moment," said the man, still grimly. "I did not hire you
to be a lady. I hired you to do the housework. I can't have you
here unless you keep your share of the contract. Please remember
He left her abruptly and walked through to the front of the
house. He saw that at her place on the dining table was the
remains of a broiled squab-chicken--a very tasty bit for a hard
working woman like Mrs. Watkins.
"Are you ready, daughter?" he called up the stairway.
"Just a minute or two, Daddy," replied Janice.
She felt that they were in trouble again. All she had tried to
do to keep him from knowing just how badly things about the house
were going had been for naught.
But she winked back the tears and "practised a smile" in her
looking glass before she ran down to join daddy on the porch.
There was a big touring car out in front. Janice knew it
belonged to the vice-president of the Farmers ad Merchants Bank.
"Oh, what a fine car, Daddy!" she whispered, clinging to his
hand. "Let's play it is ours--while we are in it, of course."
"Would you like to have a car my dear?" he asked her, as they
settled themselves in the tonneau, and the driver started the
"Oh!" she cried. "I could just jump out of my skin when I think
of it! Every time I ride with Stella
Latham I'm just as covetous as I can be. I guess I am real
"I shouldn't be surprised," he returned, smiling. "It would be
nice to have all the comforts and the luxuries of the
rich--without their troubles."
"M-mm!" said Janice. "But even their troubles can't be so bad.
Not as bad as poor people's troubles."
"Like ours?" he returned, smiling down at her.
"It is a fact that we cannot keep a hired girl. We're not as
lucky as the man I heard of who was boasting of having kept a
cook a whole month. But it seemed that this month his house was
quarantined for scarlet fever."
"Oh, Daddy!" giggled Janice. "Let's get a yellow, or a red, card
from the Board of Health, and tack it up outside the door."
"And so keep Mrs. Watkins, whether or no? I am not sure that we
can stand her, my dear."
"We-ell, there are worse," Janice confessed. "And we have had
them," commented her father rather grimly. "Ah, that's the little
house where the Johnsons live!"
"Oh, dear me! If it should be our Olga!"
"We'll know about that pretty soon," said Mr. Day comfortingly.
"Stop here, Harry."
The car was halted, and Mr. Day jumped out and went up to the
house. When he knocked a tall, pale woman, with a little baby in
her arms, opened the narrow door. It took but a glance to reveal
"You bane want my hoosban'?" asked the Swedish woman.
"No, Mrs. Johnson," replied Mr. Day. "I came to inquire about a
young woman that I believe is staying here."
"No vooman here but me," declared the other, shaking her head
"What? Haven't you a friend here named Olga?"
"Olga bane gone," declared the woman sullenly.
"Gone away? exclaimed Mr. Day. "Since last evening?"
"She bane gone."
"Are you Mrs. Johnson?" asked the man, earnestly.
"My name bane Yonson--yes," she agreed. "I don't know nottin'
'bout Olga. She bane gone. She did not mane to break dish,
"Oh!" exclaimed Mr. Day, remembering what Janice had told him
about the accident at the Latham's the evening before. "We have
not come about the dish. It is for another matter entirely that
we wish to find Olga."
"I not know where Olga bane go," pursued Mrs. Johnson, shaking
her head vigorously.
"She went away this morning, then?"
"Yah. She bane go dis mornin'."
"Is her name Olga Cedarstrom?".
"No! No!" exclaimed Mrs. Johnson, shaking her head vigorously.
"You not b'know dis Olga. She 'nudder girl."
"Where is your husband?" asked Mr. Day hopelessly. "Perhaps he
can tell me more about her."
"Yon Yonson gone to Dover," declared his wife, suddenly shutting
the door and leaving Mr. Broxton Day outside on the step.
CHAPTER XVI. A LETTER FROM POKETOWN
"It looks as though we had come upon a fool's errand," said Mr.
Day, coming back to the car and his daughter. "Mrs. Johnson says
that girl was not named Cedarstrom, and that she has already gone
"Do you suppose it is the truth, Daddy?" asked the anxious
"Well, it is probably the truth. All Olgas are not named
'Cedarstrom,' of course. And I fancy the girl was frightened
because of the broken cutglass dish and escaped early this
"Why? Would Mrs. Latham try to make her pay for it?"
"Perhaps. At least, this mysterious Olga thought she would be
made to pay for the dish. Or perhaps she feared arrest.
Sometimes these foreigners are very ignorant regarding our laws.
She might easily have been frightened away."
"But if she is our Olga--"
"This woman here is stubborn. She will probably tell us nothing
more about her friend. And she said flatly that the name was not
"Oh, dear!" sighed Janice, "it is too, too bad."
"It is too bad that the trail seems lost. I will try to see Mr.
Johnson himself. We will make sure that the girl was not the one
we are after. But, you see, we are inquiring for Olga for a
reason that is likely to frighten her and her friends. I think
some of those people over in Pickletown might tell me more than
they do about Olga and that Willie Sangreen."
"It is just too bad!" half sobbed Janice. "I hoped we should
find the treasure-box this time."
"Have patience. Rome was not built in a day," said her father.
"We're not building Rome," the girl retorted, but trying to smile
again. "I guess even that was an easier job than finding a lost
Swedish girl." "Don't
"But I can't help worrying," said Janice, sobbing again.
"You are overwrought, my dear. Don't let your mind run upon
unpleasant things. That treasure-box.
"Will never be found, Daddy!" cried his little daughter. "I am
sure! And if it isn't found I don't --don't--know--what
He put his arm about her and hugged Janice tight against his
side. "Don't lose hope so easily. And see here! Here is
something new I forgot to tell you."
"What is it, Daddy?" she asked, as he began to search an inner
pocket of his coat.
"A letter. From your Aunt Almira. Just listen to it."
"Oh, Daddy! From Aunt Almira in--in Poketown?"
"Yes. My half-brother's wife--and a good soul she
He drew the letter from its envelope and unfolded it. He began to
read the epistle with a smile wreathing his lips, for Aunt
Almira's communication was unintentionally funny:
"'Jase won't never get around to writing you, far as I see, so I
had better do so before you get the suspicion that we are all
dead. We might as well be and buried, too, here in Poketown--for
it is right next door to a cemetery for deadness, I do believe.
You know what it was when you was lucky enough to get out of it
twenty years ago. Well, it is worse now. There has been nothing
new in Poketown since you went away, excepting the town pump's
been painted once.
"That time you came to see us with Laura, when Janice was a
"Why, Daddy!" interrupted Janice, her eyes round with wonder, "I
don't remember Poketown at all."
"You were too little to recall that visit. I have only been back
there once since you and your dear mother and I visited Jase and
Almira." Then he went on, reading aloud:
"'You remember the house needed painting and the front gate hung
by one hinge. Well, it still needs painting and that one hinge
has give up the ghost now. So you see, there hasn't been many
changes. You're the only Day, I guess, that ever had any "get up
and get" to them.
"'But my heart has been full of thoughts of you since we heard of
poor Laura's death. We often speak of you and wonder how you and
that little girl get on all stark alone. I know how I should
feel if Jase and Marty was left as you and Janice be.'"
"Oh," gasped Janice, "she'd be dead!"
"Well," mused her father, "Almira, living in such a dead place as
Poketown, evidently considers that she knows about how she would
feel in her grave."
"Is it such an awful place, Daddy?" Janice asked seriously.
"What do you mean?" he inquired, in surprise. "Oh, Poketown, I
mean, of course.
"It is a lovely place. But it must be confessed that it is a
good deal behind the times. It is not as bad as Aunt 'Mira makes
it out to be, I guess. Only, the old Day house has pretty well
gone to rack and ruin."
"Well. Let's hear the rest," urged Janice.
"'Jase says to be mighty careful if you should have to go down to
that Mexico place. He reads in his Ledger that sometimes there
is shooting down there and that the Mexicaners don't care who
"Oh, Daddy!" cried Janice, "you don't mean you are going to
"I wrote them when I thought it might be necessary," he
"And you would send me East if you went? Oh, Daddy, please!"
"Well, my dear, that seemed the wisest thing to do."
"Don't worry now. We have engaged a new superintendent at the
mines, and I guess things will go on all right. Listen to what
your Aunt 'Mira says:
"'Of course, if you have to go down there on business, you send
Janice right to us. I'm speaking for Jase as well as myself. We
ain't rich, of course; but there's enough to fill another mouth
yet awhile, so don't be bashful.
"'Hoping this finds you and Janice in health, it leaving us all
the same, I will close,
"'Your, sister-in-law and Janice's aunt, "'ALMIRA DAY.'"
"I hope you won't have to go, and that I won't have to go,
Daddy!" exclaimed the girl anxiously.
"She's a good soul--Almira. She'd do her best by you."
"I don't want anybody to do their best by me--only you, Daddy."
"But you see, my dear, I couldn't leave you alone at home here.
Certainly not with a woman like Mrs. Watkins."
"Why, she would be imposing upon you all the time. No, indeed.
I feel that she is not the woman for our house, after all."
"Oh, dear, Daddy! isn't it funny how many people there are in the
world who don't just fit?"
"Right you are, my dear," he agreed, laughing again. "'Round pegs
in square holes.' The woods are full of them."
"That Mrs. Watkins never should have gone out to work.'
"I guess not."
"And people like Mrs. Carringford have got their own families and
their own troubles. So we can't get them."
"What put Amy's mother in your mind?"
"I wish you could see their house, Daddy."
"I have," he said, rather grimly. "And it is sight!"
"Not inside! Oh, not at all, Daddy!" she cried. "It is as neat
as wax. Mrs. Carringford is just a love of a housekeeper. I
wish you could see how neat everything is kept," and she sighed.
The automobile soon brought them to the house at Eight Hundred
and Forty-five Knight Street. Mr. Day had become serious again
as they came in sight of the cottage in which so much of a
disturbing nature had happened of late.
For a few days, it was true, Broxton Day had hoped the new
housekeeper would prove an efficient and trustworthy employee,
but what he had seen on coming unexpectedly home this Saturday
noon, had caused doubt to rise in his mind.
Experience had taught him that domestic servants are the most
independent of laborers. To dare call one to account--especially
one like Mrs. Watkins--was to court disaster.
He had felt this to be the case at the time, yet he was unwilling
to see Janice made a drudge of by the too ladylike Mrs. Watkins.
If the kitchen floor had to be scrubbed, and the houseworker
would not scrub it, he would do it himself!
In this mood he entered his home. All was quiet. There was
nobody in the living room or dining room. On the table in the
latter room were the dirty dishes and the remains of Mrs.
"Oh! where is she?" gasped Janice, following her father through
Mr. Day led the way to the kitchen. The pail stood where Janice
had left it, the scrubbing brush beside it. The fire in the
range had gone out.
With a smothered cry Janice darted upstairs. In a moment her
voice reached his expectant ear:
"Oh, Daddy, she's gone!" she cried.
CHAPTER XVII. MISS PECKHAM WASHES HER HANDS
"It seemed that Mrs. Sophronia Watkins had never sent for her
trunk; so all she had to do was to pack her bag and walk out of
the house. And she had done that very thing.
"'What can't be cured, must be endured,'" quoted Daddy. "Here is
a nice little island of clean floor where you scrubbed, Janice.
I will build the fire, heat water, and finish the job."
'"Oh, no, Daddy! Let me. Your poor knees--" "My knees are not
poor, I'd have you know," he retorted, laughing. "You dust
around and make the house presentable for Sunday. 'Thus endeth
the lesson.' No more 'lady' housekeepers, Janice, for us."
"No-o. I s'pose not. But who shall we get?"
"That is on the knees of the gods, my child," answered Daddy, who
often used quotations that Janice did not altogether understand,
but which she thought were very fine, just the same.
"I guess you mean that nobody knows unless he's omniscient," she
said now. "That's a big word, Daddy, but we had it in our lesson
the other day. And I guess only somebody who knows everything
could guess who will work for us next. Oh, dear!"
"These three weeks have been an expensive experience," said her
father, ruefully enough. "Besides the addition to our household
bills, Mrs. Watkins asked me the other evening for her month's
wages. 'Salary,' she called it. She was about ten days ahead of
time; but I gave it to her.
"So we can figure that our month's expenses have been about
doubled. We could not stand that for long, Janice. Perhaps it
is a blessing that Mrs. Watkins has taken herself off."
"Just the same, Daddy, I'm sorry you came home and caught me
scrubbing the floor," Janice sighed. "We were getting along
without your being bothered--after a fashion."
"At your cost," he said grimly. "No; we'll hobble along
"But it's such a hobble, Daddy! It seems to me that I'm not much
of a 'do something' girl or I'd manage better than I do." And
"You do wonders, daughter, for a girl of your age. Maybe it is
daddy who fails."
"Oh, Daddy, never!"
Janice hurried to do the things Mrs. Watkins had left undone.
And so she forgot some little purchases that had to be made,
until it was almost dark.
Remembering these, she put on her hat and jacket in haste, and
telling her father where she was going, ran out to the street.
There were the "Weeks' tribe," Junior in the lead, with most of
the other children of the neighborhood, running through Love
Street in a noisy and excited throng.
"What can be the matter now? A fire?" wondered Janice.
Her errand took her in an opposite direction. But she saw people
standing at their gates and chatting to each other as though
there was some neighborhood interest that she did not know about.
"What is the matter with everybody?" Janice asked one girl whom
"Why, didn't you see it?" was the surprised answer.
"Maybe I did, only I didn't know what it was," laughed Janice.
"A dancing bear. A great, big, brown fellow. You never saw the
like," said her acquaintance.
"Well," thought Janice, "we cannot hire a dancing bear to do our
housework, that is sure. So I don't believe he interests me."
She did the errand and hastened home, for daddy and she had not
yet had supper. She ran in at the side door, and as she did so
she heard voices in the kitchen. She halted, listening; for one
of the voices she recognized as Miss Peckham's and it was
high-pitched and angry.
"I wash my hands of you both--I can tell you that? exclaimed the
spinster from next door. "I don't know why I should have put
myself out to help you, Broxton Day, in any case."
"I do not see why you should," Daddy replied rapidly. "Yet I
believe you meant well, and I thank you."
"'Meant well'?" sniffed the visitor. "I don't know what that's
got to do with it. I gave you both--both Sophrony and you--the
chance of your lives. And neither of you appreciate it. I wash
my hands of you
Janice pushed open the door quietly and stepped in, closing it
after her. Miss Peckham, with flashing black eyes and more color
in her face than usual, had drawn herself up commandingly in the
middle of the kitchen floor and was staring at Mr. Day angrily.
"There's that gal!" exclaimed the spinster. "She's the one to
"I assure you to the contrary, Janice was doing her best to hide
Mrs. Watkins' shortcomings from me," said Mr. Day, smiling warmly
at his daughter.
"It don't matter. 'Twas over her you and Sophrony quarreled.
You admit it."
"I certainly do not admit that I quarreled with Mrs. Watkins," he
said firmly. "She evidently took offense
at what I said to her, and she left. Now she cannot come back.
Under no circumstances would I consider it."
"Well, I wash my hands of you both!" exclaimed Miss Peckham
again, and she turned sharply toward the back door--the door
opposite the one by which Janice had just entered.
The matter of washing her hands seemed important, if only a
figure of speech. She repeated it angrily as she jerked open the
kitchen door. And then she uttered a strange, squeaking cry that
startled Janice and her father before they caught sight of what
had caused the woman's fright.
Miss Peckham seemed transfixed with terror. She threw up her
hands stiffly and toppled over backward. She fell just as though
she had not a joint in her body, and she fell so hard that her
feet sprang up into the air when her shoulders and the back of
her head struck the floor.
Standing upright, framed by the doorframe, was a huge, shaggy,
ragged looking bear, and he was snuffling and whining as bears do
when they want something. Really the bear was begging, but none
of those in the kitchen for a moment realized that fact.
Mr. Day grabbed the poker. Janice squealed and hid behind him.
But her single affrighted cry was all the sound Miss Peckham
made. She really had collapsed in what Janice thought was a
Before Mr. Day could attack the creature, a whining voice from
the darkness behind the bear said:
"Bread-butter, please, Signore--Signora. Pietro no bite. He
gooda bear. Give supper, please. Pietro lika bread-butter."
The bear came down upon his forepaws, still whining. They could
see, then, the chain by which a very dark man, with little gold
rings in his ears, held the animal in leash. The trainer smiled
very broadly while Pietro snuffed curiously at the soles of Miss
And Miss Peckham kicked the harmless Pietro on the nose.
CHAPTER XVIII. ALL IN THE DAY'S WORK
The huge brown bear whined again and seemed grieved that his
innocent attentions should be so ungratefully received. The
hysterical Miss Peckham kicked again and Pietro backed away and
left space for his suavely smiling master in the doorway of the
"I--I wash my hands of you!" moaned the prostrate spinster.
"What--How did you come to bring that bear into my yard?"
demanded Mr. Day, finally recovering his voice.
"Boy tella me you give Pietro supper," said the man with the very
engaging smile. "Bread-butter. Pietro lika heem."
"That Arlo Weeks Junior!" cried Janice suddenly. "Oh, Daddy,
there he is outside."
There was a loud explosion of laughter back of the bear and his
trainer, on the dark porch, and then the clatter of running feet.
Junior's proclivity for practical jokes was too well known for
the Days to doubt his connivance in this most surprising
"No maka troub', Signore," whined the Italian master of the bear
in about the same tone Bruin himself had begged.
Mr. Day was helping the overwrought Miss Peckham to her feet.
"Of all things!" he muttered, "Take her out the other way,
"I wash my hands of you!" repeated the spinster, scarcely aware
yet of what had happened. Then she suddenly descried the bear
again. She shrieked in a most ear-piercing tone:
"There it is! I know Janice Day did that! Don't talk
to me! She's the plague of the neighborhood. No wonder Sophrony
couldn't stand it here. Bringing bears into the house!"
"Oh! Oh, Miss Peckham! I never!" cried Janice.
"Don't deny it. You--you horrid child!" declared the spinster;
and repeating again that she "washed her hands" of them all, she
ran out of the house by the other door and quickly disappeared in
the direction of her own cottage.
"Well, I never!" exclaimed Mr. Day, falling into a chair. Then
he burst into uproarious laughter.
The Italian, who had been about to withdraw, and was tugging on
the bear's chain, began to smile again. He foresaw leniency when
the master of the house could laugh like this.
Janice gave way to merriment, too. It was funny. Much as she
was sorry for Miss Peckham's fright, the situation altogether was
one to amuse her.
Pietro waddled into the kitchen and sat up like a dog to beg. A
bear is a foolish looking beast at best, unless it becomes
ill-tempered; and this big brown thing, so his smiling master
said, "had the heart of a child."
"And the stomach of an ostrich!" declared Janice, after almost
every cold scrap in the house had followed several slices of
"bread-butter" down Pietro's cavernous maw.
The old fellow was as good-natured as he could be. After the
feast he went through his little repertoire of tricks with little
He "played soldier" and went through his own particular manual of
arms with his master's stick as a gun. He "played dead," but
with his little pig-like eyes twinkling all the time.
Finally he danced with his master, and with such abandon, if not
grace, that the dishes rattled on the shelves in the kitchen
"There, that will do. He's paid for his supper. Next thing
he'll have the house down about our ears," declared Mr. Broxton
"Grazias, Signore; grazias, Signora," said the bear trainer, over
and over again, and bowing deeply as he jerked Pietro by the
chain toward the door.
His eyes, his teeth, and the little gold rings in his ears, all
twinkled together. Janice thought he was a very polite man.
"And I hope he is always kind to Pietro," she said, when the
foreigner and his strange pet were gone. "But, Daddy! Don't we
have the greatest happenings in our house?"
"Right you are, my dear. An aristocratic lady has left us flat;
the neighborhood censor has washed her hands of us; and we have
entertained a highly educated bear, all in a single day. As you
might say, all these astonishing happenings are 'all in the Days'
work.' The Days certainly do entertain the most astonishing
"Oh, my! Don't we?" giggled his daughter.
"And now, if Pietro the bear has left us anything in the house to
eat, let us have supper, Janice. I expect that hereafter Miss
Peckham's opinion of us will be too acrimonious for speech."
"Oh, she never did like me much," sighed Janice. "And now Arlo
Junior has made it worse again. Just think! The bear on top of
"Scarcely that, my dear," laughed her father. "But if she really
believes you introduced that bear for the praise of scaring her,
her poor Sam's getting hurt over here will be a small incident
compared with this ursine hold-up. The neighbors are going to
hear about this, I feel sure."
Nor was he mistaken on that point. Before forty-eight
hours had elapsed it was noised around the neighborhood that
"that very ladylike person, Mrs. Watkins" had been obliged to
leave the Days and had returned to Marietteville, because of the
treatment accorded her in "that house, which she had entered only
as a favor."
It was told that Janice had invited a tramp with a dancing bear
into the house and that "no lady who deemed herself such" could
endure rudeness of that character. Somehow, the neighborhood
censor did not figure in the story of the dancing bear; perhaps
she feared to be ridiculed.
But Janice told Mrs. Carringford all about it. That good woman
had serious troubles of her own; but she was not so selfish that
she could not sympathize with Janice.
"I do wish I could do something to help you and your father, my
dear," said the woman. "When people have as nice a house as you
have Amy has told me all about
--it does seem too bad that it can't be kept as a home should be
"Like yours, Mrs. Carringford," said Janice.
"My dear," sighed Mrs. Carringford, "I don't know how long we'll
have our home, poor as it is. We owe a lot of money on it. I am
afraid I did wrong in trying to buy this place," and she shook
her head sadly.
Janice did not feel like asking the friendly woman pointblank
what she meant; but Amy afterward explained.
"You see, Janice, Mr. Abel Strout, of Napsburg, owned this house.
It was he who advised mother strongly to
buy a home with father's insurance money. We didn't know how
much it cost to keep up a house after you get possession of it.
"Mr. Strout took part of our money in payment and mother gave a
mortgage to him for the balance of the price. And that mortgage
is troubling mother greatly."
"I guess mortgages are bad things," Janice observed, with a wise
nod of her head.
"They are when poor folks have 'em, anyway. You see, mother held
back some money to live on. But taxes and repairs and
assessments have to come out of that, as well as the interest on
the mortgage that comes due half-yearly. And that isn't all."
"No?" asked Janice, interested.
"Now it seems that Mr. Strout only wrote that mortgage
for a year and he can do what he calls 'call it in' a month from
now. Of course, mother can't pay the mortgage; it is hard enough
to pay the interest on it. And so Mr. Strout says he will just
take the house back and we--we'll lose our money, and all,"
finished Amy with almost a sob.
"Why, I think that is too mean for anything!" cried her friend.
"Can't he be stopped?"
"I don't know how. And I guess mother doesn't. He says he would
accept a payment on the principal--that's
the mortgage, you know. But mother doesn't dare give up any more
of our money. There is nobody earning any but Gummy. And how
far do you suppose his three dollars a week goes in buying food
for all us children, for instance?"
Janice had no answer for this; but she determined to tell daddy
the particulars of Mrs. Carringford's trouble. Besides, she had
in her mind, and had had for a long time, a desire to bring her
father and Amy's mother together. She wanted them to know each
other, and for a very definite reason.
CHAPTER XIX. A FLARE-UP
At school the first of that week there was little talked about,
of course, save the glories of Stella's party. No girl in the
grammar grade had ever celebrated her birthday with such
magnificence. The commendation she heard on all sides made
Stella very proud.
Because so many of the girls tried to show her their appreciation
of the nice time they had had at the Latham farm, Stella began to
feel quite puffed up. She considered herself to be the most
important person in her grade, at least, if not in the whole
It was a privilege to be taken up by the Latham car after school
and set down at one's door; and Stella distributed such favors
with no lack of shrewdness. She meant such rides to bring her
popularity. Janice had often been the recipient of these
kindnesses, and as she had told her father, it did delight her to
ride in an automobile.
But since she had become so friendly with Amy Carringford, Janice
had frequently walked home with her, or Amy had accompanied her
to the Day house after school.
Stella was shallow enough when it came to displaying her own
friendship for another girl; but suddenly it struck the farmer's
daughter that a girl who had once been much in her company was
showing a preference for somebody else.
"That Janice Day is sly," she muttered to herself, passing Janice
and Amy as they wended their chattering way homeward. "She
thinks I don't notice what she's doing. I'll give it to her
to-morrow, see if I don't!"
This threat she proceeded to put into practice. And it came most
unexpectedly both to Janice and Amy.
Janice, of course, was perfectly innocent and quite unsuspicious
of any attack, and Amy did not dream that Stella did not like
her. Had not the farmer's daughter invited Amy to her party? In
fact Amy was liked by almost everybody, teachers and pupils
In arithmetic Stella always was dull, and on this particular
morning she was more than ordinarily careless in recitation.
Miss Marble gave her a sharp word and propounded the same
question to Amy Carringford. The latter returned the correct
answer, and then gave the red-faced Stella a deprecatory smile.
"Don't you grin at me, you pauper!" hissed Stella, and so loudly
that several of the girls near by heard her words.
Even Miss Marble took notice of Stella's speech, although she
could not overhear what she said.
"No communicating during recitations, Stella," she said sharply.
Amy had paled to her very lips and the tears sprang to her eyes.
Janice was too far away to understand; but she was
interested--she could not fail to be.
None who heard the unkind remark of Stella Latham but felt sorry
that one of their mates should be so rude and ungracious.
"Of course, we all know Amy Carringford is poor--just as poor as
poverty," one of them said at recess. "But that is no reason for
telling her so!"
This girl was quite energetic in saying this--and more--to the
"Just because you ride in an automobile, and your father owns a
farm, you need not think that you are better than anybody else in
our class--for you're not, Stella Latham! Amy Carringford is
every whit as good as you are."
"Is that so?" snapped Stella. "She's a poverty stricken thing.
She hasn't got a decent thing to wear--"
"What nonsense, Stella," drawled another and older girl,
shrugging her shoulders. "I noticed particularly the other
night. Amy had as pretty a frock on as anybody at your party."
"Yes! And where did she get it?" flared out Stella.
"Her mother made it, I fancy," said the same girl, laughing.
"That dress was given her by Janice Day. Amy couldn't have come
to my party otherwise--so now! You just ask Janice if what I say
isn't so," cried Stella, stamping her foot.
"I don't believe it," said the first speaker shortly.
"So I'm a story-teller, am I?" almost shrieked Stella. "You just
Just then Janice strolled into the room where the girls were
gathered at this lunch hour. Amy, of course, had run home for
her lunch--and run home in tears, Janice knew. The latter knew
that Stella was the cause of Amy's trouble, but up to this point
she had not discovered the exact reason for the flare-up.
"You think I don't tell the truth," pursued Stella, in a loud and
angry voice. "I suppose you'll believe what Janice Day says.
You just ask her who gave that nasty Amy Carringford the dress
she wore to my party."
Janice stopped stock still for a moment. Her schoolmate's
statement was like a blow in the face. Mean of disposition as she
knew Stella Latham to be, she had not thought the girl would tell
the secret of Amy's pretty dress.
After the ban of silence Janice had put upon the farmer's
daughter, and the latter's promise to obey that mandate and tell
nobody about the pink and white frock, this deliberate breaking
of Stella's word astounded Janice Day. Her face flushed, then
paled, and she looked as though she were the person guilty of the
outrage, rather than Stella.
"What nonsense!" exclaimed the older girl, but looking at Janice
curiously. "Why put it on Janice, Stella? You are saying
something you do not know anything about."
"Oh! I don't?" exclaimed the farmer's daughter. "You just ask
Janice, I tell you."
"Do your own asking," said another. "Janice doesn't look very
pleasant," and she laughed.
"You tell 'em!" commanded Stella, starting toward Janice
threateningly. "Didn't you give Amy that dress so she could come
to my party? Didn't you?"
Janice had begun to recover her confidence--and her good sense,
too. She could not deny the accusation; but she determined to
put Stella before her fellow schoolmates in just the right light.
"I do not know that it is a crime for one girl to help another,"
Janice said quietly, and still very pale. "If I did what Stella
claims I did, it was nothing shameful I am sure--either for Amy
or for me."
"Of course it wasn't!" murmured one of the other girls.
"Bully for you, Janice!" said another, in commendation.
"It really was only our business--Amy's and mine. But Stella knew
about it. In fact, Stella came to me about Amy in the first
place. She wanted to invite Amy and she feared--so she
said--that Amy would not have a
party dress. I undertook to find her one, and hard
enough time I had getting Amy and her mother to agree
to use the dress.
"But that," said Janice scornfully, "is a purely personal matter
between them and me. I want to ask you girls, though, what you
think of a person who, after having given her word to keep the
matter a secret, deliberately taunts Amy with the fact that she
took the dress from me? That is what I want to know."
The other girls were silent for the moment. Janice Day's
scornful question was too pointed to be ignored. Stella broke out
again in anger, her voice high and shrill:
"I don't care! So there! She is a dowdy little thing, and she
had no business to come to my party, anyway."
"Stella," said the older girl grimly, "you're making yourself
awfully ridiculous. And worse. You can't keep a secret. And
you don't keep your word. I guess there will be more than Amy
Carringford who will be sorry that they ever went to your old
party. Now, stop yelling. Here comes Miss Marble."
The flare-up was only the beginning of a very unhappy time at
school for Amy Carringford. Nor could Janice escape being
unhappy, too, with her new friend.
That Stella was unable to raise any cabal against Janice and Amy,
but quite the contrary, made the situation only a degree more
bearable for the two friends. Although the other girls did not
join Stella Latham in mourning the poor girl who lived in Mullen
Lane, the latter felt deeply the fact that she was considered
different from her schoolmates.
"Oh, I wish mother would let me go to work," Amy sighed, on more
than one occasion, and to Janice's sympathetic ear. "I declare!
I'd go out as a servant in somebody's home, if mother would let
me. We need the money so."
"Goodness! Don't say such things," pleaded Janice. "We need a
servant right now, bad enough. But you would not want to come
and scrub and sweep and wash and iron even for daddy and me--you
know you wouldn't."
"I don't care. Mother says she must go to work somewhere. I'll
then have to come to school on part time only. Somebody must
look after the twins and Edna May."
"Oh, Amy! what will your mother do?"
"She doesn't know. She has tried to get work to do at home. But
all the sewing machine work she can obtain is so heavy. And so
poorly paid! What do you suppose she gets for stitching those
great, heavy motorman's coats--putting them all together except
making buttonholes and sewing on buttons, which is done in the
"I have no idea," said Janice.
"Thir-ty-sev-en-cents!" exclaimed Amy, tragically. "Think of it!
And they almost kill her, they are so heavy to handle."
"Oh, my dear! I wouldn't let her do them."
"I guess we wouldn't--Gummy and I--if we could help it," sobbed
Amy. "But something must be done by the Carringford family to
help out. When Mr. Strout comes over from Napsburg next week he
will make us pay off something on that mortgage, or turn us out
of the house --such as it is."
"Dear Amy, I wish I could do something for you," sighed Janice.
She said nothing more than that at the time. But that very
evening she did not at once open her schoolbooks when she and her
father sat down finally in the living room, the supper dishes
washed and put away and the kitchen swept.
They had remained without any help since the departure of Mrs.
Sophronia Watkins. Mr. Day had gone every day to the
intelligence offices and brought back the most discouraging
"But, Daddy, isn't there any person in the whole of Greensboro or
in the county any more who has to work for her living?" asked
"That man, Murphy, at whose office I engaged Delia, says that
there are no good houseworkers any more. He says the girls who
come to him for situations are all 'specialists,'" said daddy,
"Special dunces, I guess," Janice rejoined rather tartly, "if
Delia was a sample."
"But she wasn't," said daddy, with a smile. "At any rate, he
tells me he has good cooks, and good chambermaids, and good
laundresses; but he has no combinations of those trades."
"Girls do not like to go out to service in families where
'general housework' is expected. It seems," he added grimly,
"that to get good help we should engage two or three girls, and
then have a lady, like Mrs. Watkins, to superintend."
"I guess we'll have to give up and go to boarding, then," sighed
Janice. "Only I am sure I should just detest a boarding house,
"I am afraid we should both dislike such a life as that. Your
dear mother gave us too good and comfortable a home."
"But we ought to be used to the discomforts of housekeeping by
this time," said Janice. "But, oh, Daddy! There are other folks
who have worse times than we do."
"So I believe," he agreed, nodding, as he unfolded his paper.
"Wait, Daddy?' she begged. "I want to tell you."
"About other people's troubles?" he asked, with a quizzical
"Yes, I do. It's about the Carringfords."
"Ah-ha! You were saying once that they were in trouble over their
home, were you not? I looked that place up. A fellow named
"And he's so mean!" declared Janice with vigor.
"Yes. That seems to be his middle name," agreed her father
quietly. "I am afraid Mrs. Carringford got into the hands of a
sharper when she undertook to buy that cottage in Mullen Lane of
"Oh, dear, Daddy! isn't there any way of helping them out of
their trouble?" Janice asked disappointedly.
"I cannot tell that until I know all the particulars."
"Oh! Let me tell you--"
"Do you know them, my dear?" he asked, interrupting her.
"Well, I know some of them," she confessed, with less vehemence.
"I think you had better ask Mrs. Carringford to come to see me.
If she will tell me about it, I may be able to advise her, at
least. I know Strout is a sharper."
"Oh, my dear! That is so good of you," Janice cried. "I'll tell
"She can bring her papers here, instead of to the bank," added
Mr. Day on second thought. "Perhaps she will like that better.
Any evening that she chooses, my dear."
Janice could scarcely wait until the next day to tell her friend,
Amy what her father had said.
CHAPTER XX. STELLA KEEPS ONE SECRET
It was on this evening, too, that Daddy told Janice he had made a
point of seeing and talking with Johnson, Mr. Latham's tenant.
The man had a small account in the Farmers and Merchants Bank,
for, like most of his nation, "Yon Yonson," as his wife had
called him, was a frugal man.
"He came into the bank and I inquired about the girl who visited
his wife and who broke Mrs. Latham's cutglass dish," said Mr.
Day. "Johnson says he knows little about the girl--not even
where she lives, or really who she is. Only he told me her last
name was not Cedarstrom."
"So that, I fear," added Mr. Day, shaking his head, "is another
lost trail. It does seem that the mystery of the disappearance
of our treasure-box, Janice, is likely to remain a mystery.
"At least, that girl at the Latham's was another girl than our
Olga. Johnson says she was only visiting his wife for a day or
two. She was a friend of has wife's. I think they believe Latham
wants to find the girl to make her pay for that broken dish, so
they are less willing to talk about her than might otherwise be
"Just the same," sighed Janice, "I do wish Gummy had known just
how our Olga looked."
"How is that?"
"Then he would have known for sure whether it was Olga Cedarstrom
or not. Just his seeing that her hair was strained back from her
face doesn't prove anything."
"I should say it did not," laughed her father. "That manner of
wearing the hair seems to be a common failing with these Swedish
women. Besides, didn't I tell you that Johnson says that girl is
not named 'Cedarstrom?'"
"We-ell, it is awfully funny, Daddy. It doesn't seem as though a
girl could disappear so completely--wiped right off the map--"
"Vigorously expressed, I admit," her father interrupted. "But we
must not begin to doubt everybody's word about it. I guess
Johnson is honest."
"And those other people who knew her in Pickletown?"
"They simply don't know what has become of her. Or of Willie
Sangreen, either," Daddy admitted. "That does seem strange. Of
course the two have gone off somewhere to be married and have not
told their friends."
"It proves that Olga did take dear mother's miniature --and--and
those letters," said Janice excitedly. "Or she would not hide
"Yes. I thought we had already agreed on that," her father said.
It was evident that he did not wish uselessly to discuss the
matter of the lost keepsakes. Janice, young as she was, realized
that her father was growing more grave and more serious every
day. She did not believe that this change was altogether due to
business anxieties, or even to their household vexations.
At night, after she was supposed to be in bed and sound asleep,
the girl heard him walking back and forth the length of the
living room; or, sometimes, now that the weather was so mild, he
tramped up and down the front porch until very, very late.
There was surely some trouble on his mind that he did not care to
confide to his little daughter. Broxton Day sighed more often
than had been his wont even during those hard, hard days
immediately following the death of Janice's mother. His hearty
laugh was not so spontaneous nor heard as often as before.
Janice could not speak about this change in her father. She
believed she knew why he was so grave and why some of his nights
Broxton Day had loved his wife with a passionate devotion. He
must miss her presence more and more as the days went on. In
spite of all the companionship Janice could give him, the man's
existence was a lonely one.
"And, too, her heart told her that she had been the unwitting
cause of this new burden which had come upon daddy's mind. Those
letters which Janice had never seen--the presence of which she
had not even suspected in the secret compartment of the lost
treasure-box--had been Broxton Day's most precious possession.
Janice had lost them! Her carelessness had given the angry Olga
the opportunity to take the box away with her.
The letters had been written at a time when Janice's father and
mother were very close together in spirit, if not in actual
contact. Even Janice could understand that Laura Day must have
revealed her very soul to her husband in those epistles.
Oh, if she could only bring them back!
So sorrow began to be entertained in the Day house on Knight
Street, as a continual guest. It did seem, too, that Janice
could do very little to relieve her father of any of the
embarrassments of their situation. She
worked as hard as she could before she went to school and after
she came home, but she could not begin to do all that was needed
to be done. And she was so tired sometimes after supper that she
fell asleep over her homework.
Their meals became, too, a mere round of bacon-and-egg breakfasts
and delicatessen suppers. Shop-cooked meats and potato salads
were on the bill of fare too often to tempt the appetite of
either Mr. Day or his daughter, and the latter began to depend a
good deal upon "baker's stuff" for her lunch.
With the unfortunate experiences they had had with help, however,
Janice did not wonder that daddy found nobody to suit him at the
agencies. Olga, Delia, Mrs. Watkins--and all those who had come
and gone before --were enough to fill the mind of any person with
Janice did not forget to tell Mrs. Carringford what Mr. Day had
said regarding her trouble, and that on the very next day.
"He'll be sure to see some way out for you, Mrs. Carringford,"
the girl assured her friend's mother, with much confidence.
"Daddy is always doing things for folks. He doesn't just advise;
he is sure to do something."
"Yes, I should not be surprised if Mr. Broxton Day was a
do-something man," said Mrs. Carringford, smiling. "He must be
when he has such a do-something daughter."
"And you really will come up to see him this evening?" urged
Janice, blushing rosily at what she considered a compliment.
"I--I--well, my dear, I could not accept any financial
favor from your father. I would not have a right to do
so. The Carringfords must be independent."
"But, Mrs Carringford, you mustn't feel that way! I have no idea
Daddy could give you much money, even if you, would let him.
But, you see, he knows so much more about such things as
mortgages, and loans, and real estate, that he can give you good
advice. And he says that Mr. Abel Strout's middle name is
Mrs. Carringford laughingly agreed to that, and in the evening
she came to the house with Gummy, Amy being left at home to take
care of the little ones.
Mr. Day had already met and quite approved of Mrs. Carringford's
two older children, Gummy and Amy, for he had seen them both at
the house. But he had had no idea, in spite of Janice's
enthusiastic praise, that Mrs, Carringford was quite the woman
He saw now a very gentle, pretty woman whose soft, wavy hair was
becoming prematurely gray, with an intelligent countenance and
eyes that fixed one's attention almost immediately. Here, Mr.
Day saw, was a capable, energetic spirit--a woman who would carry
through whatever she undertook could it be carried through at
all, yet who was not objectionably self-assertive-like
Miss Peckham, for instance.
If Mrs. Carringford had made a mistake in her purchase of the
property in Mullen Lane, it was because she had been badly
advised, if not actually cheated, by the sly old fellow who had
for years owned the property which he had taken for a bad debt.
Abel Strout had doubtless been glad to get rid of the Mullen Lane
place, and for the first payment made upon it by Mrs.
Carringford. But he had been foxy enough to make a hard and fast
bargain with the widow. He had her tied up in a contract that,
if she failed to meet her obligations in a small way, even, would
enable him to walk in and take the place away from her.
And he had done more than that. For some reason best known to
himself he had first transferred the property to one John
Jamison--a farm hand of that section-- and had then had this
Jamison transfer the property to Mrs. Carringford, he paying the
difference represented by the mortgage he held.
"He said Jamison had grown tired of his bargain a week after he
bought it," Mrs. Carringford explained. "He wanted Mr. Strout to
take it back. Strout said by making the transfer he would be
aiding both Mr. Jamison and me."
And now a change was coming. Since the transfer Mullen Lane
property had begun to look up. A factory was going to be built
in the vicinity, and that part of Greensboro was likely to offer
a better field for real estate operations.
Broxton Day knew all this, which Mrs. Carringford did not. He
saw that what Strout wanted was to get the property back into his
own hands again. He would refuse to renew the mortgage and
frighten Mrs. Carringford into giving up her home.
The way the matter figured out, the expense of paying interest
and taxes on the Mullen Lane property was no greater than rental
would be elsewhere for the Carringford family. In the end, if
the widow held on, the place might really be more valuable than
it now was, and would sell for considerably more than she had
agreed to pay Abel Strout for it.
"I tell you what you do," Broxton Day finally said, having
thought the matter over. "Strout has told you he will accept a
small payment on the mortgage, and will then renew the balance
for another year."
"Yes. But ought I to spend any more of the little sum I have
left in that way, when my children may need it for food?" asked
the anxious widow.
"You show me by these papers that you are fixed fairly well for
another year. You and your son will both earn something, of
course, during the next twelve months. So if I were you, I would
throw a sprat to catch a herring, and he smiled.
"You mean?" the widow asked doubtfully.