Betty Wales, Sophomore
Part 3 out of 4
"And you think that would be fair to the one who ought to have had the
"If he was much of a man he didn't paint just for the medal," returned
Madeline quickly. "He painted because he couldn't help it,--because he
meant to make the most of himself,--and a medal more or less--what's that
to him?" She turned upon Betty suddenly. "Don't you see that the great
fault with the life here is that we think too little about living and too
much about getting? These societies and clubs and teams and committees--
they're not the best things in life; they're nothing, except what they
stand for in character and industry and talent. No, I shouldn't worry
because Eleanor Watson got into Dramatic Club, if that's what you mean,
and may get into other things because she cribbed a story. That very fact
will take all the fun out of it, unless she's beneath caring,--but she
isn't beneath caring," Madeline corrected herself swiftly. "No one with a
face like hers is beyond caring. It's the most beautiful face I ever
saw--and one of the saddest."
"Thank you very much, Madeline," said Betty, soberly. "I'm so glad I
could talk it over with you."
Madeline was never serious for long at a time. "I've been preaching
regular sermons," she said with a laugh. "The thing I don't understand is
why this editor of 'The Quiver' hasn't jumped on Miss Watson long ago.
Editors are always reading college magazines--hoping to discover a
genius, I suppose."
"Are they?" said Betty.
A tap sounded on the door.
"Don't worry, whatever else you do,--and hide your magazine," said
Madeline, and was off with a cheerful greeting for Helen Adams, who had
come back from her afternoon at T. Reed's crammed full of Napoleonic lore
and basket-ball news.
"Theresa had made a table of dates and events," said Helen eagerly. "I
copied it for you--it's lots of help. And Betty, she says the teams are
going to be chosen soon, and she is almost sure you will be on."
Madeline Ayres wondered idly, as she dressed for dinner, how Betty Wales
had come into possession of a four months' old magazine which was not to
be had at any library or book-store in Harding. Then, being a person
born, so she herself asserted, entirely without curiosity, she ceased
wondering. By the time dinner was over and she had related a budget of
her Napoleonic stories to a delighted group of anxious students, she had
actually forgotten all about Eleanor's affairs.
A BRIEF FOR THE DEFENSE
"I have thought and thought all the afternoon and I can't do it. I should
"If you are perfectly sure that there is nobody else to go--"
"Don't you think that Mary Brooks or Marion Lawrence would be a lot
better? Mary can always talk--"
"Oh, Dorothy, I don't know what to say--"
Betty had slipped up-stairs to her room the minute dinner was over. The
rest of the Belden House girls still lingered in the parlors, talking or
dancing,--enjoying the brief after-dinner respite that is a welcome
feature of each busy day at Harding. Ida Ludwig was playing for them. She
had a way of dashing off waltzes and two-steps that gave them a perfectly
irresistible swing. As Betty wrote, her foot beat time to the music that
floated up, faint and sweet and alluring, through her half-open door. The
floor around her was strewn with sheets of paper which she had torn, one
after another, from her pad, and tossed impatiently out of her way.
"Such a goose as I am, trying to write before I've made up my mind what
to say!" she told the green lizard, as she sent the seventh attempt
flying after the others. "And I can't make it up," she added
despondently, and shut her fountain pen with a vicious little snap. She
would go down and have a two-step with Roberta, who had been Mary's guest
at dinner. Roberta could lead beautifully--as well as a man--and the
music was too good to lose. Besides, Roberta might feel hurt at her
having run off the minute dinner was over.
A shadow suddenly darkened the door and Betty turned to find Eleanor
Watson standing there, smiling radiantly down at her.
"Eleanor!" she gasped helplessly. Somehow the sight of the real Eleanor,
smiling and lovely, made the deceit she had practiced seem so much more
concrete and palpable, the penalty she must pay at best so much more real
and dreadful. Betty had puzzled over the rights and wrongs of the matter
until it had come to be almost an abstraction--a subject for formal,
impersonal debate, like those they used to discuss in the junior English
classes, in high school days--"Resolved: that it is right to help
plagiarists to try again." Now the reality of it all was forced upon her.
In spite of her surprise at seeing Eleanor, who almost never came to her
room now, and her dismay that she should have come on this evening in
particular, she found time to be glad that she had not yet refused
Dorothy's request--and time to be a little ashamed of herself for being
Her perturbation showed so plainly in her face and manner that Eleanor
could not fail to notice it. Her smile vanished and a troubled look stole
into her gray eyes. "May I come in, Betty?" she asked. "Or are you too
"No-o," stammered Betty. "Come in, Eleanor, of course. I--I was just
writing a note."
Eleanor glanced at the floor, littered with all Betty's futile
beginnings, and her smile came flashing back again. "I should think," she
said, "that you must be writing a love letter--if it isn't a sonnet--
judging by the trouble it's making you. They told me downstairs that you
were cramming history, but I was sure it would take more than a mere
history cram to keep you away from that music. Isn't it lovely?"
"Yes," said Betty. "Would you like--shan't we go down and dance?" It
would surely be easier to talk down there, with plenty of people about
who did not know.
Again her embarrassment and constraint were too evident to be ignored,
and this time Eleanor went straight to the heart of the matter.
"Betty," she said, "don't tell me that you're not glad to see me back
again after all this time. I know I'm queer and horrid and not worth
bothering about, but when you find it out,--when you give me up--you and
Jim--I shall stop trying to be different."
For an instant Betty hesitated. Then the full import of Eleanor's words
flashed upon her. There was no mistaking their sincerity. She knew at
last that she did "really mean something" to somebody. Ethel Hale had
been wrong. Eleanor had not forgotten her old friends--and Betty would go
to New York. With a happy little cry she stretched out her arms and
caught Eleanor's hands in hers.
"I'm so glad you feel that way," she said, "and I shall never stop caring
what you do, Eleanor, and neither will Jim. I know he won't."
"He gave me up once before, and if you knew something--" She broke off
suddenly. "Betty, Jim is coming Friday night. That's one reason why I'm
here. I didn't want him to miss seeing you just because I'd been
disagreeable and was too proud to come and say I'm sorry. I am sorry,
Betty,--I'm always sorry when it's just too late."
"Oh, that's all right. I knew you didn't mean anything," said Betty,
hastily. Apologies always made her nervous, and this particular one was
fraught with unpleasant suggestions little guessed at by its maker.
"You'll be awfully glad to see your brother, won't you?"
Eleanor's assent was half-hearted. "To tell the truth, I'm too tired to
care much what happens."
"Oh, you won't feel tired when he gets here," suggested Betty,
Eleanor shook her head. "I'm tired all through," she said. "I don't
believe I shall ever be rested again."
"What are you going to do to entertain him?" asked Betty, wishing to
change the current of Eleanor's thoughts, since she did not dare to
sympathize with them.
Eleanor detailed her plans, explained that Judge Watson had suddenly been
called home from Cornell and so was not coming with Jim, according to the
summer plan that Betty remembered, and rose to go. "I know you'll like
Jim, Betty," she said, "and he'll like you. He's your kind."
The moment she was left alone, Betty sat down again at her desk and
dashed off her note to Dorothy.
"I have thought it over and seen Eleanor. I am the one to go, and I'll do
"P.S.--I can't start till Wednesday."
She twisted the note into a neat little roll, and slipping out the back
way went down to leave it at the florist's, to be sent to Dorothy--
securely hidden in a big bunch of English violets, lest any martinet of a
nurse should see fit to suppress it--the very first thing in the morning.
On the way back to her room she danced up the stairs in her most joyous
fashion, and when Mary Brooks, coming up from escorting Roberta to the
door, intercepted her and demanded where she had been all the evening,
she chanted, "Curiosity killed a cat," and fled from Mary's wrath with a
little shriek of delight, exactly as if there were no such things in the
world as plagiarism and hard-hearted editors. For had not Eleanor come
back to her, and was not the difficult decision made at last?
And yet, when Betty was a senior and took the course in Elizabethan
tragedies, she always thought of the visit of Jim Watson as a perfect
example in real life of the comic interlude, by which the king of
Elizabethan dramatists is wont to lighten, and at the same time to
accentuate, his analyses of the bitter consequences of wrong-doing. For
close upon her first great relief at finding her decision made, followed
a sudden realization that the incident was not yet closed. Madeline had
read the November "Quiver"; some less charitable person might have done
likewise. If she had been careless in leaving her magazine in sight, so
might one of the three editors have been careless, with disastrous
results. Mr. Blake might write to the college authorities. Everything, in
short, might come out before Jim Watson had finished his week-end visit
to Harding. Helping to entertain him seemed therefore a good deal like
amusing oneself on the verge of a crackling volcano.
Jim's personality made it all the harder; he was so boyishly light-
hearted, so tremendously proud of Eleanor, so splendid and downright
himself, with a flash in his fine eyes--the only feature in which he
resembled Eleanor--and a quiver about his sensitive mouth, that suggested
how deep would be his grief and how unappeasable his anger, if he ever
found out with what coin his sister had bought her college honors.
He "blew in," to use his own phrase for it, on an earlier train than
Eleanor had expected, and marched up to the Hilton House with a jaunty
air of perfect ease and assurance. But really, he confided to Eleanor, he
was in a "blooming blue funk" all the way.
"And what do you think?" he added ruefully, "somehow I got mixed up with
the matron or whatever you call her. I thought, you see, that this was
like a boarding-school, and that I'd got to have some gorgon or other
vouch for me before I could see you. So I asked for her first, and she's
invited me to dinner. Did you say there were thirty girls in this house?
Sixty! I see my finish!" concluded Jim, dolefully.
Nevertheless he rose to the occasion and, ensconced between Eleanor and
the matron he entertained the latter, and incidentally the whole table,
with tales of mountain-climbing, broncho-busting and bear-hunting, that
made him at once a hero in the eyes of the girls. But Jim disclaimed all
intention of following up his conquest, just as he had, though
ineffectually, disclaimed any part in the thrilling escapades of his
"I can talk to a bunch of girls if I have to, but if you leave me alone
with one, I shall do the scared rabbit act straight back to Cornell," he
warned Eleanor. "I came to see you. Dad and I compared notes and we
decided that something was up."
"Nonsense!" laughed Eleanor, but her eyes fell under Jim's steady gaze,
and her cheeks flushed. "Well then, I'm tired," she admitted. "I suppose
I've done too much."
"I should think so," retorted Jim, savagely. "Quit it, Eleanor. If you
break down, what good will it do you to have written a fine story? I
say"--his tone was reproachful--"one of those girls at the dinner you
gave last night said your story was printed somewhere, and you never sent
it to dad and me. You never even told us about it."
"It wasn't worth while."
"You might let us decide about that. The girl at the dinner said it was a
corker, and got you into some swell club or other. That's another thing
you didn't write us about."
"No," said Eleanor, wearily. "You can't expect me to write every little
thing that happens, Jim."
Jim, who remembered exactly what his fair informant had said regarding
the importance of a Dramatic Club "first election," knit his brows and
wondered which of them was right. Finally he gave up the perplexing
question and went off to order a farewell box of roses for his sister.
It was at about this time that Betty Wales, going sorrowfully to pay a
book bill that was twice as large as she had anticipated, heard swift,
determined steps behind her, and turned to find Jim Watson swinging after
her down Main Street.
"I say, Miss Wales," he began, blushing hotly at his own temerity,
"Eleanor is off at a class this hour. I'm such a duffer with girls--is it
all right for me to ask you to go for a walk?"
"Of course," said Betty, laughing. "And if you ask me, I'll go."
"Then," said Jim, "I do ask you. You'll have to pick out a trail, for I
don't know the country."
"Let's walk out to the river," suggested Betty. "It's not so very pretty
at this season of the year, but it's our prize walk, so you ought to see
Silently Jim fell into step beside her.
"Have you had a good time?" inquired Betty, who had decided by this time
that Jim really enjoyed talking, only he couldn't manage it without a
good deal of help. She had seen more of him in the three days of his
visit than any one else but Eleanor, but this was their first tete-a-
tete. Hitherto, when Eleanor was busy Jim had gone on solitary tramps or
sought the friendly shelter of his hotel.
"Great," replied Jim, enthusiastically. "Harding College is all right.
I'm mighty glad Eleanor wanted to stay on here."
"You're very fond of Eleanor, aren't you?" asked Betty, sure that this
topic would draw him out.
"You bet." Jim's eyes shone with pleasure. "Eleanor's a trump when she
gets started. She was splendid at home this summer. Of course you know"--
Jim flushed again under his tan-"my mother--I'm awfully fond of her too,
but of course her being so young makes it queer for Eleanor. But Eleanor
fixed everything all right. She made dad and me, and mother too, just
fall dead in love with her. You know the way she can."
Betty nodded. "I know."
"And I guess she's made good here, too," said Jim, proudly, "though you'd
never find it out from her. Do you know, Miss Wales, she never wrote us a
word about her story that came out in the college magazine."
"Didn't she?" said Betty, faintly.
"Nor about getting into some club," continued Jim, earnestly. "I forget
the name, but you'll know. Isn't it considered quite an honor?"
"Why, yes," said Betty, in despair, "that is, some people consider it--
Oh, Mr. Watson, here's the bridge!"
Poor Jim, unhesitatingly attributing Betty's embarrassment to some
blunder on his part, was covered with mortification. "It's evidently a
secret society," he decided, "and that other fool girl didn't know it,
and got me into this mess."
So he listened with deferential attention while Betty tried to tell him
how lovely the snowy meadows and the bleak, ice-bound river looked on a
bright June day, and carefully followed her lead as she turned the
conversation from river scenery to skating and canoeing; so that they
reached home without a second approach to the dangerous topics.
Jim was going back to his work that evening. As he said good-bye, he
crushed Betty's hand in a bear-like grip that fairly brought tears to her
"I'm awfully glad to have met you," he said, "though I don't suppose
you'd ever guess it--I'm such a duffer with girls. Eleanor told me how
you stuck by her last year and helped her get her start. I tell you we
appreciate anything that's done for Eleanor, dad and I do."
As Betty watched him stride off to the Hilton House, she remembered
Madeline's advice. "I guess she isn't enjoying her honors very much," she
thought. "Imagine getting into Dramatic Club and not writing home about
it! Why, I should telegraph! And if I had a thing in the 'Argus'"--Betty
smiled at the absurdity of the idea--"half the fun would be to see Nan's
face. And if I was ashamed to see her face!"
Betty gave a sigh of relief that the comic interlude was over. Under
ordinary circumstances the entertaining of Jim would have been the height
of bliss. Just now all she wanted was to go to New York and get back
again, with her errand done and one source of danger to Eleanor, if
Jim left Harding on Tuesday evening. Wednesday morning bright and early,
Betty started for New York. She went by the early train for two reasons.
It was easier to slip away unquestioned during chapel-time, and
furthermore she meant to reach New York in time to see Mr. Blake that
same afternoon and take the sleeper back to Harding. She thought that
spending the night with any of her New York cousins would involve too
much explanation, and besides she could sleep beautifully on the train,
and she wanted to be back in time for the Thursday basket-ball practice.
The girls played every day now, and very often Miss Andrews dropped in to
watch them and take the measure of the various aspirants for a place on
the official teams, which it would soon be her duty to appoint.
VICTORY OR DEFEAT
During the first part of her journey Betty busied herself with reading
over Mr. Blake's two letters and the lengthy replies that the editors had
composed. These last were as totally unlike as their writers, and Betty
thought that none of them hit the point so well as Madeline's
suggestions, and none was so cogent as the plea that Eleanor and Jim
between them had unconsciously made; but they might all help. From Mr.
Blake's two letters she decided that he must be a very queer sort of
person, and she devoutly hoped that his conversational style would be
less obscure than that of his first letter to Frances West; for it would
be dreadful, she thought, if she had to keep asking him what he meant.
"Well, I guess I shall just have to trust to luck and do the best I can
when the time comes," she decided, putting the letters back into her
suit-case with a little sigh. She admired Helen Adams's way of
deliberately preparing for a crisis, but in her own case it somehow never
seemed to work. For example, how could she plan what to say to Mr. Blake
until she knew what Mr. Blake would say to her? It would be bad enough to
try to answer him when the time came, without worrying about it now.
After a brief survey of the flying landscape, which looked uniformly cold
and uninviting under a leaden sky, and of her fellow-travelers, none of
whom promised any possibilities of amusement, Betty remembered that she
had intended to study all the way to New York, and accordingly extracted
Chaucer's "Canterbury Tales" from her bag. For half an hour she read the
Knight's tale busily. But the adventures of Palamon and Arcite,
deciphered by means of assiduous reference to the glossary, were not
exciting; at the end of the half hour Betty's head drooped back against
the plush cushions, her eyes closed, and her book slid unheeded to the
floor. Regardless of all the elegant leisure that she had meant to secure
by a diligent five-hour attack upon "The Canterbury Tales," Betty had
fallen fast asleep.
Some time later the jolt of the halting train woke her. She glanced at
her watch--it was twelve o'clock--and looked out for the station sign.
But there was no station sign and no station; only snowy fields
stretching off to meet wooded hills on one side and the gorge of a frozen
river on the other. It had been a gray, sunless morning; now the air was
thick with snow, falling in big, lazily-moving flakes which seemed
undecided whether or not the journey they were making was worth their
while. All this Betty saw through small bare spots on the heavily frosted
car windows. She picked up "The Canterbury Tales" from the floor where
they had fallen, found her place and sat with her finger in the book,
anxiously waiting for the train to go on. But it did not start. The other
passengers also grew restless, and asked one another what could be the
trouble. There were plenty of guesses, but nobody knew until Betty
managed to stop a passing brakeman and asked him if they were going to be
late into New York.
"Oh, my, yes, ma'am," he assured her affably. "We're about an hour late
now, and there's no tellin' how long we'll stand here. There's been a big
blizzard and an awful freeze-up in the west--" he waved his hand at the
frosty window. "We do be gettin' a bit of it now ourselves, you see--and
the connections is all out of whack."
This was a cheerful prospect. The train was due in New York at half past
one. Allow half an hour for the present delay and it would be fully half
past three before Betty could reach Mr. Blake's office. Besides, she had
brought nothing to eat except some sweet chocolate, for she had planned
to get lunch in New York. It was most provoking. She settled herself once
more, a cake of chocolate to nibble in one hand and her book in the
other, resolved to endure the rest of the journey with what stoicism she
Finally, after having exhausted the entire half hour that she had allowed
it, the train started with a puff and a wheeze, and ambled on toward its
destination, with frequent brief pauses to get its breath or to
accommodate the connections that were "all out of whack," and a final
long and agonizing wait in the yards. That was the last straw--to be so
near the goal and yet helplessly stranded just out of reach. Wishing to
verify her own calculations, Betty leaned forward and asked a
friendly-looking, gray-haired woman in the seat ahead if she knew just
how long it would take to go from the Forty-second Street station to
The woman considered. "Not less than three-quarters of an hour, I should
say, unless you took a Subway express to the bridge, and changed there.
Then perhaps you might do it in half an hour."
Betty thanked her and sat back, watch in hand, counting the minutes and
wondering what she would better do if she had to stay in New York all
night. In spite of some disadvantages, it would be much the best plan,
she decided, to go to her cousins. But never thinking of any such
contingency as the one that had arisen, she had left her address book at
Harding, and she had a very poor memory for numbers. She remembered
vaguely one hundred twenty-one, and was sure that cousin Will Banning
lived on East Seventy-second Street. But was his number one twenty-one,
or was it three hundred forty-something, and Cousin Alice's one twenty-
one on One Hundred and Second Street? Was that east or west, and was it
Cousin Alice's address before or after she moved last? The more Betty
thought, and the more certain it seemed that she could not reach Mr.
Blake's office by any route before five o'clock, the more confused she
became. She had never been about in New York alone, and she had a horror
of going in the rapidly falling dusk from one number to another in a
strange city, and then perhaps not finding her cousins in the end. Then
there was nothing to do but stay at a hotel. Luckily Betty did remember
very distinctly the name of the one that Nan often stopped at alone. She
leaned forward again and asked the lady in front to direct her to it.
"Yes, I can do that," said the lady brightly, "or if you like I can take
you to it. I'm going there myself. Aren't you a Harding girl?"
"And I'm the matron at the Davidson," said the gray-haired lady.
"You are!" Betty's tone expressed infinite relief. "And I may really come
with you? I'm so glad. I never went to a hotel alone." And she explained
briefly why she was obliged to do so now.
The snow was still failing softly when they finally reached New York and
boarded a crowded car to ride the few blocks to their hotel. It seemed
that Betty's new friend had come down to visit her son, who was ill at a
hospital. She helped Betty through the trying ordeal of registering and
getting a room, and they went to the cafe together for a little supper.
Then she hurried off to her son, and Betty was left to her own devices.
She despatched a special-delivery letter to Helen, explaining why she
could not take the sleeper--Helen had the impression that Betty had gone
to New York to have her hair waved and was ashamed to confess to such
frivolity. Then she yawned for a while over "The Canterbury Tales," and
went to bed early, so as to be in perfect trim for the next day's
interview. She intended to see Mr. Blake as early as possible in the
morning and take a noon train for Harding.
"And I do hope there isn't going to be a blizzard here," she thought, as
she fell asleep to the angry howling of the wind, which dashed the snow,
now frozen, into tiny, icy globules, against her window panes.
But her hope was not destined to be realized. When she woke later than
usual the next morning, with a queer feeling of not knowing where she was
nor what had happened, the storm was still raging furiously. The street
beneath her windows was piled high with impassable drifts, which were
getting higher every minute, while on the opposite side a narrow strip of
roadway was as clean as if it had been swept with the proverbial new
broom. It was snowing so hard that Betty could not see to the corner of
the street, and the wind was blowing a gale.
"I don't care," said Betty philosophically. "Here goes for seeing New
York in a blizzard. I've always wanted to know what it was like." And she
began making energetic preparations for breakfast.
When she got down-stairs she found a hasty note from her friend of the
day before, explaining that her son was worse and she had gone as early
as possible to the hospital. So Betty breakfasted in solitary state on
rolls and coffee,--for her exchequer was beginning to suffer from the
unexpected demands that she had made upon it,--paid her bill, and bag in
hand sallied forth to meet the storm. Before she had plowed her way to
the nearest corner, she decided that a blizzard in New York was no joke.
While she waited there in the teeth of the wind, bracing herself against
it as it blew her hair in her eyes, whipped her skirt about her ankles,
and swept the snow, sharp and cutting as needle-points, pitilessly
against her cheeks, she was more than half minded to give up seeing Mr.
Blake altogether and go straight to the station. But it was not Betty's
way to give up. She brushed back her flying hair, held up her muff as
protection against the wind, and when her car finally arrived, tumbled on
with a sigh of relief and then a laugh all to herself at the absurdity of
the whole situation.
"Mr. Blake will want to laugh too when he sees me," she thought, "and
perhaps that will be a good beginning."
In this cheerful mood Betty presently arrived at the door of "The Quiver"
office. She made a wry face as she shook the snow out of her furs,
straightened her hat and smoothed her hair. It was too bad to have to go
in looking like a fright, after all the pains she had taken to wear her
most becoming clothes, so as to look, and to feel, as impressive as
possible. As a matter of fact, she had never looked prettier than when,
having done her best to repair the ravages of the wind, she stood waiting
a moment longer to get her breath and decide how she should ask for Mr.
Blake and what she should say when she was summoned into his awful
presence. Her cheeks were glowing with the cold, her eyes bright with
excitement, and her hair blown into damp little curls that were far more
becoming than any more studied arrangement would have been. Mr. Richard
Blake would indeed be difficult to please if he failed to find her
She gave a final pat to her hair, loosened her furs, and knocked boldly
on the office door. There was no answer. Betty had reached out her hand
to knock again when it occurred to her that people who came to her
father's office walked right in. So she carefully opened the door and
stepping just inside, closed it again after her. She found herself in a
big, bare room, with three or four desks near the long windows and a
table by the door. Only one desk was occupied--the one in the farthest
corner of the room. The young man sitting behind it--he was very young
indeed, smooth-shaven, with expressionless, heavy-lidded eyes, and a
mouth that drooped cynically at the corners,--barely glanced at his
visitor, and then dropped his eyes once more to the papers on his desk.
Betty waited a moment, while he wrote rapidly on the margin of one sheet
with a blue pencil, and then, seeing that he apparently intended to go on
reading and writing indefinitely, she gave a deprecating little cough.
"Is Mr. Richard Blake in?" she asked.
"Yes," answered the young man behind the desk, without so much as
glancing in her direction.
"Can--may I see him, please?"
"You can," returned the young man, emphasizing the word can in what Betty
thought an extremely disagreeable way.
He made no move to go and get Mr. Blake, and Betty, knowing nothing else
to do, awaited his pleasure in silence.
"Is it so very important as all this?" asked the young man at last,
tossing aside his papers and coming toward Betty with disconcerting
suddenness. "You know," he went on, "I can't possibly read it to-day. I'm
desperately busy. I shall put it in a pigeon-hole and I shan't look at it
for weeks perhaps. So I can't see that it was worth your while to come
out in a storm like this to bring it to me."
"Are you Mr. Richard Blake?" demanded Betty, wishing to get at least one
thing definitely settled.
The young man nodded. "I am," he said, "but pray how did you arrive at
your conclusion--so late?"
"Because," said Betty promptly, "you talk exactly as your letters sound."
"That's interesting," said the young man. "How do they sound?"
"I mean," said Betty, blushing at her own temerity, "that they are hard
The young man appeared to be considering this remark with great
seriousness. "That implies," he began at last very slowly, "that you must
have had either a letter of acceptance or a personal note of refusal from
'The Quiver' So perhaps your story is worth coming out in a blizzard to
bring after all. Anyway, since you have brought it out in a blizzard,
I'll just glance over it, if you care to wait."
Betty stared at Mr. Richard Blake in growing bewilderment. "I think you
must have mistaken me for some one else," she said at last. "You don't
know me at all, Mr. Blake, and you never wrote to me. The letter that I
saw was written to some one else."
"Indeed! And am I also mistaken in supposing that you have brought me a
story for 'The Quiver'?"
"I brought you a story for 'The Quiver'!" gasped Betty. Then all at once
she took in the situation and laughed so merrily that even the blase,
young editor of "The Quiver" was forced to smile a little in sympathy. "I
see now," she said, when she could speak. "You thought I was a writer--an
authoress. I suppose that most of the people who come to see an editor
are authors, aren't they?"
"Yes," said the young man gravely. "The only possible reason that has
ever brought a pretty young woman to 'The Quiver' office is the vain hope
that because I have seen that she is pretty, I shall like her story
better than I otherwise would."
"Well," said Betty, too intent upon coming to the point to be either
annoyed or amused by Mr. Blake's frank implication, "I haven't come about
a story. Or--that is, I have too. I came to see you about Eleanor
Watson's story--the one that is so like 'The Lost Hope' in the November
"Indeed!" The young man's face grew suddenly sombre again. "Won't you
have a seat?" He led the way back to his desk, placing a chair for Betty
beside his own. "Let us make a fair start," he said, as he took his seat.
"You mean the story that was copied from 'The Quiver,' I suppose."
"Yes." Betty hesitated, wondering if she was being led into some damaging
confession. But she had not come to palter with the truth. "I'm afraid
there is no doubt that it was copied from 'The Quiver,' Mr. Blake."
"Did you know that it was a better story than the one in 'The Quiver'?"
[Illustration: "LET US MAKE A FAIR START," HE SAID]
Betty's eyes sparkled with pleasure. "Do you really think so?" she asked
eagerly. "I'm so glad, because I did, too, only I was afraid I might be
prejudiced. But you wouldn't be." Betty stopped in confusion, for Mr.
Blake had abruptly turned his back upon her, and was staring out the
nearest window at the mist of flying snow.
There was a long pause, or at least it seemed oppressively long to Betty,
who had no idea what it meant. Then "To whom have I the honor of
speaking?" asked Mr. Blake in the queer, sarcastic tone that had annoyed
Betty earlier in the interview.
As briefly as possible Betty explained who she was, and why she had come
as special envoy from the editors. She was relieved when Mr. Blake turned
back from his survey of the landscape with another faint suggestion of a
smile flickering about his grim mouth.
"You relieve me immensely, Miss Wales," he said. "I was quite sure you
were not an editor of the 'Argus,' because you seemed so totally
unfamiliar with the machinery of literary ventures; and so I supposed, or
at least I feared, that Miss Watson had come to speak for herself."
Betty flushed angrily. "Why, Mr. Blake, do I look--"
"No, you don't in the least," Mr. Blake interrupted her hastily. "But
unfortunately, you must admit, appearances are sometimes deceitful. Now
suppose that your friend Miss Watson had come herself. Does she look or
act like the sort of person that she has shown herself to be?"
Betty smiled brightly. "Of course not," she said. "She doesn't at all.
But then she isn't that sort of person. I mean she never will be again.
If she was, I can tell you that I shouldn't be here. It's just because
she's so splendid when she thinks in time and tries to be nice, and
because she hasn't any mother and never had half a chance that I'm sorry
for her now. And besides, it's certainly punishment enough to see that
story in the 'Argus,' and know she didn't write it, and to get into
Dramatic Club partly because of it, and so have that spoiled for her too,
and not to be able to let her family be one bit proud of her. Don't you
see that an open disgrace wouldn't mean any more punishment? It would
only make it harder for her to be fair and square again. It isn't as if
she didn't care. She hates herself for it, Mr. Blake, I know she does."
Betty paused for breath and Mr. Richard Blake took the opportunity to
speak. "What, may I ask, is the Dramatic Club?"
"Oh, a splendid literary club that some of the nicest girls in college
belong to," explained Betty impatiently, feeling that the question was
not much to the point.
"Do you belong to it?" demanded Mr. Blake.
"Oh, no," said Betty, with a laugh. "I'm not bright enough. I hate to
stick to things long enough to learn them."
"That's unfortunate, because I was hoping you were a member," said Mr.
Blake, inconsequently. "But to return to the story, do you think that
Miss Watson was so very much to blame for copying it?"
"Of course I do," said Betty, indignantly, wondering what Mr. Richard
Blake could possibly be driving at now.
"But consider," he pursued. "Miss Watson is a very clever girl, isn't
"Yes, indeed" assented Betty, eagerly.
"She finds this story--an unusual story, rather badly written, with a
very weak ending. It strikes her as having possibilities. She puts on the
needed touches,--the finish, the phrasing and an ending that is almost a
stroke of genius. Isn't the story hers?"
Betty waited a moment. "No, Mr. Blake," she said decidedly, "it isn't.
Those little changes don't make any difference. She took it from 'The
"But how about Shakespeare's plays? Every one of them has a borrowed
plot. Shakespeare improved it, added incidents and characters, fused the
whole situation in the divine fire of his genius. But some characters and
the general outline of the plot he borrowed. We don't say he stole them.
We don't call him a plagiarist, Miss Wales."
"I don't know about that," said Betty, doubtfully. "I never understood
about Shakespeare's plots; but I suppose it was different in those days.
Lots of things were. And besides he was a regular genius, and I know that
what he did hasn't anything to do with Eleanor. She oughtn't to have
copied a story. I don't see how she could do it; but I wish you could
feel that it was right to overlook it."
"Miss Wales," said Mr. Blake, abruptly, "I'm going to tell you something.
I don't care a snap of my finger for Miss Watson. I don't really believe
she's worth much consideration, though her having a friend who will go
around New York for her on a day like this seems to indicate the
contrary. But what I'm particularly interested in is the moral tone of
Harding College. That's a big thing, a thing worth thought and effort and
personal sacrifice to maintain. Now tell me frankly, Miss Wales, how
would the Harding girls as a whole look at this matter?"
"If you knew any," returned Betty, swiftly, "you wouldn't ask. Of course
they'd feel just the way I do."
"Perhaps even the way I do?"
"Y-yes," admitted Betty, grudgingly. "But I believe I could bring them
round," she added with a mischievous smile.
"Then how did Miss Watson happen to do such a thing?"
"Because," explained Betty, earnestly, "she doesn't feel the way the rest
of the girls do about such things. I'm awfully fond of her, but I noticed
the difference almost the first time I met her. Last year she--oh, there
was nothing like this," added Betty, quickly, "and after she saw how the
other girls felt, she changed. But I suppose she couldn't change all at
once, and so she did this. But she isn't a typical Harding girl, indeed
she isn't, Mr. Blake."
"And yet she is a member of the Dramatic Club," said Mr. Blake, taking up
a telegram from his desk.
"Don't you suppose she wishes she wasn't?" inquired Betty.
Mr. Blake made no answer. "Well, Miss Wales," he said, at last, "I fancy
we've talked as much about this as is profitable. I'm very glad to have
seen you, but I'm sorry that you found us in such disorder. The office
boy is stuck in the drifts over in Brooklyn, and my assistant and the
stenographer are snowed up in Harlem. I only hope you won't get snowed in
anywhere between here and Harding. You're going back to-day, you said?"
Betty nodded. "And I should like--"
"To be sure," Mr. Blake took her up. "You would like to know my answer.
Well, Miss Wales, I really think you deserve it, too; but as it happens,
I find I'm going up to Harding next week, and I want to look over the
ground for myself,--see what I think about the moral tone of things, you
"You're coming up to Harding!" said Betty, ruefully. "Then I needn't have
come down here at all."
"Oh, but I didn't know it till to-day," explained Mr. Blake, soothingly.
"I got the telegram while I was breakfasting this morning. I can't
telegraph my answer, because the wires are all down, so you might tell
them I've written, or you might post my answer for me in Harding. I have
the greatest confidence in your ability to get through the drifts, Miss
"Are you"--Betty hesitated--"are you coming up about this, Mr. Blake?"
For answer he passed her the telegram. It was an invitation from the
newly-elected president of the Dramatic Club--Beatrice Egerton had gone
out of office at midyears--to lecture before an open meeting of the
society a week from the following Saturday.
"Goodness!" said Betty, returning the telegram. "I didn't know you were a
lecturer too, Mr. Blake."
"Oh, I'm not much of one," returned Mr. Blake, easily. "I suspect that
the man they had engaged couldn't come, and Miss Stuart--you know her, I
presume--who's an old friend of mine, suggested me as a forlorn hope. You
see," he added, "'The Quiver' is a new thing and doesn't go everywhere
yet, as your friend Miss Watson was clever enough to know; but before I
began to edit it, I used to write dramatic criticisms for the newspapers.
Some people didn't like my theories about the stage and the right kind of
plays and the right way of acting them; so it amuses them now to hear me
lecture and to think to themselves 'How foolish!' 'How absurd!' as I
"I see," laughed Betty. "I'm afraid I don't know much about dramatic
"Well, it doesn't amount to very much," returned Mr. Blake, genially.
"That's why I stopped doing it. Shall you come to hear me lecture, Miss
Betty laughed again. "I shall if I can get an invitation," she said. "I
suppose it's an invitation affair."
"And Miss Watson will be there?"
Betty nodded. "Unless, of course, she knows that you are the editor of
"She won't," said Mr. Blake, "unless you or the editors of the 'Argus'
tell her. Miss Stuart doesn't know, and she is probably the only other
person up there who's ever heard of me. Good-bye, Miss Wales, until next
Betty got her bag from the elevator boy, into whose keeping she had
trustfully confided it, and went out into the snow. She was very much
afraid that she had not done her full duty. Dorothy had told her to be
sure to pin Mr. Blake down to something definite. Well, she had tried to,
but she had not succeeded. As she thought over the interview, she could
not remember that she had said anything very much to the point. It
seemed, indeed, as if they had talked mostly about other things; and yet
toward the last Mr. Blake's manner had been much more cordial, if that
meant anything. Anyway it was all over and done with now, and quite
useless. Dorothy and Beatrice and Frances could do their own talking next
week. And--she had stood on the corner for ten minutes and still there
was no car in sight. A few had crawled past on their way to the Battery,
but none had come back. It was frightfully cold. Betty stamped her feet,
slapped her arms, warmed first one aching ear and then the other. Still
no car. A diminutive newsboy had stopped by her side, and in despair she
appealed to him.
"Isn't there some other way to get up town?" she asked. "These cars must
have stopped running, and I've got to get to the Central station."
"Take de L to de bridge and den de Subway. Dat ain't snowed in,"
suggested the little newsboy. "C'n I carry your bag, lady?"
It was only a few blocks, but it seemed at least a mile to Betty, too
cold and tired to enjoy the tussle with the wind any longer. When she had
stumbled up the long flight of stairs and dropped herself and her bag in
the nearest corner of the waiting train, she could scarcely have taken
The Central station, like the whole city, wore a dejected, deserted
appearance. Yes, there would be a train for Harding some time, a guard
assured Betty. He could not say when it would start. Oh, it had been due
to start at ten-thirty, and it was now exactly twelve-five. There was
nothing to do but wait. So Betty waited, dividing her time between "The
Canterbury Tales"--she had not money enough to dare to waste any on a
magazine--and a woman, who was also waiting for the belated ten-thirty.
Her baby was ill, she told Betty; she feared it would die before she
could get to it. Betty's own weariness and discouragement sank into
insignificance beside her companion's trouble, and in trying to reassure
her she became quite cheerful herself.
At half past eleven that night Madeline Ayres heard something bang
against her window and looked out to find Betty Wales standing in the
drifts, snowballing the front windows of the Belden House with an
impartiality born of despair.
"I thought I should never wake any one up," she said, when Madeline had
unlocked the door and let her into the grateful warmth of the hall. "The
bell wouldn't ring and I was so afraid out there, and I've been ten hours
coming from New York, and I'm starved, Madeline."
When, after having enjoyed a delicious, if not particularly digestible
supper of coffee and Welsh rarebit in Madeline's room, Betty crept softly
to her own, and turned up the gas just far enough to undress by, Helen
woke and sat straight up in bed.
"Why, Betty!" she said, "I'm awfully glad you've come. We all worried so
about you. But--why, Betty, your hair isn't waved a bit. Didn't you have
"Helen, were you ever in New York in a blizzard?" enquired Betty, busily
unlacing her shoe-strings.
"No," said Helen. "Did it take out the curl?"
"Would it take out the curl!" repeated Betty scornfully. "It would take
out the curliest curl that ever was in thirty seconds. It was perfectly
awful. But, Helen, don't say anything about it, but I didn't go to New
York for that."
"Oh!" said Helen.
The next day Betty woke up with a splitting headache and a sore throat.
The day after the doctor came and called it a mild case of grippe. It was
a week before she felt like playing basket-ball, and that very day the
teams were chosen and Babbie had the position as sub-centre that Betty
had coveted. One thing she gained by being ill. By the time she was able
to be up and out even Mary Brooks, with her "satiable curiosity," had
forgotten to ask why she went to New York.
A DISTINGUISHED GUEST
"It's going to be lots of fun. They can't any of them act at all, of
course, and their plays are the wildest things, Babe says. She and Bob
went once last winter. This one is called 'The Hand of Fate'--doesn't
that sound thrilling? I say, Betty, I think you might be a true sport and
come along. You know you don't care a straw about 'The Tendencies of the
Katherine Kittredge sat cross-legged on Betty's couch, with Betty's
entire collection of pillows piled comfortably behind her back, while she
held forth with eloquent enthusiasm upon the charms of the "ten-twenty-
thirty" cent show which was giving its final performance that evening at
the Harding opera house.
"I don't know anything about them, so how can I tell whether I care or
not?" retorted Betty, who was sitting before her desk engaged in a
desperate effort to bring some semblance of order out of the chaos that
littered its shelf and pigeon-holes.
"Well, even if you do care, you can probably read it all up in some
book," continued Katherine. "And, besides," she added briskly. "you would
get a lot of points to-night. Isn't 'The Hand of Fate' a modern drama, I
should like to know?"
Betty gave a sudden joyous exclamation. "Why, I'm finding all the things
I've lost, Katherine. Here's my pearl pin that I thought the sneak
thieves must have stolen. I remember now that I put it into an envelope
to take down to be cleaned. And,"--joy changing abruptly to despair,--
"here's my last week's French exercise, that I hunted and hunted for, and
finally thought I must have given to some one to hand in for me. Do you
suppose mademoiselle will ever believe me?"
Katherine chuckled. "She would if she knew your habits better. Now
listen, Betty. Nita's coming to-night, and Babe and Babbie--Bob would,
only she doesn't dare cut the lecture when she's just gone into Dramatic
Club--and Rachel and Roberta, and I've about half persuaded Mary Brooks.
We're going to sit in the bald-headed row and clap all the hero's tenor
solos and sob when the heroine breaks his heart, and hiss the villain.
How's that for a nice little stunt?"
"I just love ten-cent plays," admitted Betty, obviously weakening.
"Then come on," urged Katherine.
Betty shook her head. "No, I don't believe I will this time. You see
Emily asked me to the lecture, and I accepted."
"Well, so did most of us accept," argued Katherine. "You needn't think we
weren't asked. Emily won't care. Just give your ticket away, so there
won't be too many vacant seats, and come along."
"But you see," explained Betty, "I really do want to hear the lecture,
and I can go off on a lark with you girls almost any time."
"I never knew you to be so keen about a lecture before," said Katherine
indignantly. "I believe Helen Adams is turning you into a regular dig."
"Don't worry," laughed Betty. "You see one reason why I--"
There was a tap on the door, and without waiting for an answer to her
knock Eleanor Watson entered. She was apparently in the best of spirits;
there was no hint in face or manner of the weariness and nervous
depression that had been so evident at the time of Jim's visit.
"Have you both tickets for Mr. Blake's lecture?" she asked with a
careless little nod for Katherine. "I have one left and Beatrice has one,
and she sent me out hunting for victims. I've asked you once already,
haven't I, Betty?"
"Yes, you did," said Betty, "but Emily asked me before that."
"And I'm going to 'The Hand of Fate,'" said Katherine stiffly, picking up
a book from the table and turning over its pages with an air of studied
indifference. She had no intention of being patronized by Eleanor Watson.
"But she's given away her ticket, Eleanor," said Betty pacifically, "so
you needn't worry about empty seats."
"Oh, we're not worrying," returned Eleanor loftily. "The subject is so
attractive"--Katherine winked at Betty from behind the shelter of her
book. "And then Miss Stuart knows Mr. Blake, and she says that he's a
splendid speaker. Miss Stuart is ill to-day, so Miss Ferris is going to
have Mr. Blake up to dinner. Of course we Hilton House girls are
dreadfully excited about that."
"Of course," said Betty, with a little gasp of dismay which neither of
her friends seemed to notice.
"Miss Ferris has asked the Dramatic Club girls to sit at her table," went
on Eleanor impressively, "and she wants me to be on her other side, right
opposite Mr. Blake. Just think of that!"
"Splendid!" said Betty, feeling like a traitor. And yet what else could
she say, and what difference would it make, since Eleanor did not know
that Mr. Blake was the editor of "The Quiver," and Mr. Blake, in the
general confusion of introductions, would probably not catch Eleanor's
"I hope you know a good deal more about the tendencies of the modern
drama than I do," said Katherine drily, "if you're in as deep as all
that." She slid off the couch with a jerk. "Good-bye, Betty. Are you sure
you won't change your mind?"
"I guess not this time, Katherine," said Betty, following her guest to
Eleanor went off too, after a moment, and Betty was left free to bestow
her undivided attention upon the rearrangement of her desk. But even
several "finds" quite as important and surprising as the pearl pin and
the French theme did not serve to concentrate her thoughts upon her own
affairs. The absorbing question was, what did Mr. Blake mean to do, and
how would a dinner with Eleanor in the seat opposite affect his
intentions? He had said that he wasn't interested in Eleanor, but he
couldn't help being influenced by what she said and did, if he knew who
she was. For the hundredth time Betty questioned, did Eleanor deserve the
consideration that was being asked for her? Was it fair to set aside the
gay, self-absorbed Eleanor of to-day in favor of the clinging, repentant
Eleanor of the week before? Why, yes, she thought, it must be fair to
judge a person at her best, if you wanted her to be her best. She sighed
over the perplexities of life, and then she sighed again, because of her
tiresome desk and the Saturday afternoon that was slipping away so fast.
It was half-past four already, and at five she had promised to meet
Madeline Ayres in the college library for a walk before dinner.
She put the papers that she had sorted into their proper pigeon-holes,
swept the rest of the litter into a pile for future consideration, and
made a hasty toilette, reflecting that she should have to dress again
anyway for the lecture. As she put on her hat, she noticed the ruffled
plume and smoothed it as best she could. "That blizzard!" she thought
ruefully. Reminded again of Mr. Blake, she wondered if he had taken an
early train from New York. If so he must have reached Harding long ago.
Perhaps he was closeted with the editors--Frances hadn't heard from him
about an interview when Betty saw her last. Or perhaps he was
investigating the moral tone of the college. Betty wondered smilingly how
he would go about it, and looked up to find Mr. Richard Blake himself
strolling slowly toward her from the direction of the front gateway. At
the same instant he saw her and came quickly forward, his hat in one
hand, the other stretched out for Betty to take.
"So you didn't get stuck in the snow," he said, gravely.
"Not so deep that I had to stay stuck for a week," laughed Betty.
"Haven't the office-boy and the stenographer got out yet?"
"Yes, but they didn't have so far to go," returned Mr. Blake, calmly.
"May I walk on with you?"
"Of course," agreed Betty, "but you weren't going my way, were you?"
Mr. Blake smiled his slight, cynical smile. "To tell the truth, Miss
Wales, I haven't the least idea which way I am going--or which way I
ought to be. I'm supposed to turn up for five o'clock tea with one Miss
Raymond, who lives at a place called the Davidson House. My friend Miss
Stuart is ill, and I escaped the escort of a committee by wickedly
hinting that I knew my way about."
"Well," said Betty, "you were going the right way when I met you. The
Davidson is straight down at the other end of that row of brick houses."
"Thank you," said Mr. Blake, making no move to follow Betty's directions.
"I detest teas, and I'm going to be as late as I dare. But perhaps I
shall be in your way."
Betty explained that she was bound for the college library to meet a
"Ah," said Mr. Blake, "I think I should like to see that library. You
know I have theories about libraries as well as about plays. Is this a
"Of course," said Betty. "Everything at Harding is nice. Don't you think
Mr. Blake shook his head uncertainly.
"I hardly feel competent to speak of everything yet, Miss Wales."
"Well, how about the moral tone?" inquired Betty demurely. She had a
feeling that more direct questions would not help Eleanor's cause.
Mr. Blake shook his head again. "I haven't gone very far with that yet,
Miss Wales. I mean to make them talk about it at the tea."
They had climbed the stairs to the library and Betty pushed back the
swinging doors and stepped inside, wondering vaguely whether she should
call the librarian or take Mr. Blake from alcove to alcove herself, when
Madeline Ayres looked up from her book, and catching sight of them
started forward with a haste and enthusiasm which the occasion, Betty
thought, hardly warranted.
"I'm afraid I don't know enough about the books to take you around," she
was saying to Mr. Blake, when Madeline descended precipitately upon them
and, paying not the slightest attention to Betty, said in a loud whisper
to Mr. Blake, "Dick, come outside this minute, where we can shake hands."
"Come on, Miss Wales," whispered Mr. Blake. "It will be worth seeing,"
and Betty, not knowing what else to do, followed him into the hall.
"Why, Dick Blake," Madeline went on enthusiastically, "you don't know how
good it seems to see one of the old Paris crowd again. Have you forgotten
how we used to hunt chocolate shops together, and do the Latin Quarter at
night, and teach my cousins American manners?"
"Hardly," laughed Mr. Blake. "We were a pair of young wretches in those
days, Madeline. But I thought you were all for art and Bohemia. What on
earth are you doing up here?"
"Completing my education," returned Madeline calmly. "The family suddenly
discovered that I was dreadfully ignorant. What are you doing up here
"Helping to complete your education," returned Mr. Blake serenely. "Is it
possible that the fame of my to-night's lecture hasn't reached you,
Madeline laughed merrily. "To think that we've come to this, Dick. Why, I
never dreamed that was you. I've been refusing tickets to that lecture
all day--I abhor lectures--but of course I shall go now." She turned to
Betty. "Why didn't you tell us that you knew Mr. Blake, Betty?"
Betty blushed guiltily. "Why, I--because I don't know him much," she
"To be exact, Madeline," interposed Mr. Blake, "this is only our second
meeting, and of course Miss Wales didn't want to stand for me in the
critical eyes of the Harding public."
"Well, but--" Madeline looked from one to the other sharply. "Dick, whom
are you writing for now?" she demanded.
"For myself. I'm running a magazine."
Mr. Blake nodded. "Yes, have you seen it? I've sent one or two numbers to
your father on the chance of their finding him in some far corner of the
"So that's it," said Madeline enigmatically, ignoring the question. "Now
I understand. I--well, the point is, Dick, do whatever Betty Wales wants
you to. You may depend upon it that she knows what she's about.
Everything she tells you will be on the straight."
Mr. Richard Blake threw back his head and laughed a hearty, boyish laugh.
"You haven't changed a bit, Madeline," he said. "You expect me to be your
humble chessman and no questions asked, exactly as you did in the old
days. I can't promise what you want now," he added soberly, "but I
heartily subscribe to what you say about Miss Wales. See here"--he
reached hastily for his watch--"I was going to a tea, wasn't I? Do I dare
to cut it out?"
Betty hesitated and looked at Madeline, who shook her head decidedly.
"Never. This isn't Bohemia, you know. Run along, Dick. I'll see you to-
night if I can get a chance, and if not you'll surely be round at
"Rather," said Mr. Richard Blake, striding hurriedly down the hall.
Madeline watched him go with a smile. "Nice boy," she said laconically.
"We used to have jolly times together, when he was Paris correspondent
for the something or other in New York. Have we time to take our walk,
"Madeline," said Betty solemnly, "you are a jewel--a perfect jewel. Do
you think he'll do it?"
"Of course," said Madeline coolly. "He'll keep you on tenter-hooks as
long as he can, but his bark is always worse than his bite, and he'll
come round in the end."
"Oh, I hope so," said Betty anxiously.
Madeline smiled lazily down at her. "It's no good worrying, anyhow," she
said, "You can't pursue him to his tea. Besides, ten minutes before you
met him you'd almost decided that it would be better to let the whole
thing out, and be done with it."
"Madeline," demanded Betty in amazement, "how do you guess things?"
"Never mind how," laughed Madeline. "Come and dress for the lecture."
Betty answered Helen's eager questions about the discovery of the pearl
pin in absent-minded monosyllables. After all, things were turning out
better than she had hoped. Indirectly at least the trip to New York had
counted in Eleanor's favor. She need not reproach herself any longer with
carelessness in letting Madeline into the secret, and she could feel that
it was not for nothing that she had lost her chances of being on the
As she entered the lecture hall that evening with Helen and Alice Waite,
Dorothy King, who was standing by the ticket taker, accosted her.
"I wanted to tell you that Christy is coming back before long," she said.
Having drawn her aside on that flimsy excuse, Dorothy grew suddenly
"What's he going to do, Betty?" she demanded.
"Why, I don't know," said Betty, blushing at thought of Madeline, "any
more than you do. Haven't you seen him?"
"No," explained Dorothy. "He wrote to say that it would be wasting time
to argue any more--that he was sure he understood our point of view from
you, and now he meant to see for himself and decide."
"Then I suppose he'll tell Miss West tonight."
"We hoped he'd told you this afternoon."
"How did you know I'd seen him?" inquired Betty evasively.
"Eleanor Watson told me that she saw you together in the library."
Betty gave a little cry of dismay, then checked it. "But she doesn't know
who he is," she said.
"Yes, she does know now," said Dorothy quickly.
"He told her himself. He was at dinner this evening with Miss Ferris, you
know. Eleanor sat up at his end of the table looking like a perfect
queen, and she talked awfully well too--she is certainly a very brilliant
girl. He talked to her a good deal during dinner and as we were leaving
the table he asked Miss Ferris again who she was."
"What did he say when she told him?"
"He just said 'Indeed!' in that queer, drawling voice of his. Afterward
Miss Ferris made coffee for us, and what do you suppose he did? He began
to ask everybody in the room about the code of honor at the college."
"After one or two of the girls had said what they thought, he turned
straight to Eleanor Watson. 'And you, Miss Watson,' he said, 'what do you
think? Is this fine moral feeling strong enough to stand a strain? Would
you be willing to risk one thoroughly dishonest student not to overthrow
it?' She got awfully white, and I could see her cup shake in her hand,
but she said very quietly, 'I quite agree with what has already been
said, Mr. Blake.'"
"Then he said 'Indeed!' again. But when the girls got up to go and he bid
them each good-bye, he managed to keep Eleanor on some pretext about
wanting to finish an argument that they'd begun at dinner, Miss Ferris
kept me to know about a Hilton House girl who was down at the infirmary
when I was and finally had to be sent home; and as we stood talking at
the other side of the room, I distinctly heard Mr. Blake say, 'The editor
of "The Quiver," Miss Watson.'"
"Did Miss Ferris hear it too?"
"Probably not. Anyway it wouldn't mean anything to her. The next minute
Eleanor Watson was gone, and then I went too. Betty, we must run back
this minute. He's going to begin."
As far as her information about "The Tendencies of the Modern Drama" was
concerned, Betty Wales might quite as well have been enjoying herself at
"The Hand of Fate." She sat very still, between two girls she had never
seen before, and apparently listened intently to the speaker. As a matter
of fact, she heard scarcely a word that he said. Her thoughts and her
eyes were fixed on Eleanor, who was sitting with Beatrice Egerton, well
up on the middle aisle. Like Betty, she seemed to be absorbed in
following the thread of Mr. Blake's argument. She laughed at his jokes,
applauded his clever stories. But there was a hot flush on her cheeks and
a queer light in her eyes that bore unmistakable evidence to the struggle
going on beneath her forced attention.
After the lecture Betty was waiting near the door for Helen and Alice,
when Eleanor brushed past her.
"Are you going home, Eleanor?" she asked timidly, merely for the sake of
saying something friendly.
Eleanor turned back impatiently. "You're the tenth person who's asked me
that," she said. "Why shouldn't I be?"
"Why, no reason at all--" began Betty. But Eleanor had vanished.
Once in her own room she locked the door and gave free rein to the fury
of passion and remorse that held her in its thrall. Jim's visit had
brought out all her nobler impulses. She had caught a glimpse of herself
as she would have looked in his eyes, and the scorn of her act that she
had felt at intervals all through the fall and winter--that had prevented
any real enjoyment of her stolen honors and kept her from writing home
about them,--had deepened into bitter self-abnegation. But Jim had come
and gone. He still believed in her, for he did not know what she had
done. Nobody knew. Nobody would ever know now. It was absurd to fear
discovery after all these months. So Eleanor had argued, throwing care
and remorse to the winds, and resolving to forget the past and enjoy life
to the full.
Then, just at the moment of greatest triumph, had come Mr. Blake's
startling announcement. He had not told her what he had done or meant to
do, nor how he had found out about the story, nor who shared his secret;
and Eleanor had been too amazed and frightened to ask. Now, in the
solitude of her room, she drew her own swift conclusions. It was a plot
against her peace of mind, his coming up to lecture. Who had arranged it?
Who indeed but Betty Wales? She knew Mr. Blake intimately, it seemed, and
she had such horribly strict ideas of honesty. She would never forgive
her own sister for cheating. "She must have seen 'The Quiver' on my
table," thought Eleanor, "and then to use it against me like this!" No
doubt she or Mr. Blake had told that hateful Madeline Ayres, who knew him
too. No doubt all the editors had been told. It was to be hoped that
Dorothy King, with her superior airs, realized that it was mostly her
fault. A dull flush spread over Eleanor's pale face, as it suddenly
flashed upon her that Beatrice Egerton was an editor.
Well, if Beatrice was in the secret, there was no telling how many she
had confided in. Eleanor's devotion to Miss Egerton had been utterly
without sentiment from the first. She realized perfectly that Beatrice
was flippant and unprincipled, swayed only by selfish considerations and
by a passion for making a sensation. If she did not mind being associated
with the story, she would tell it; only regard for her own reputation as
Eleanor's "backer" might deter her.
Swiftly Eleanor laid her plan. After all, what did it matter who knew?
Mr. Blake, Betty and Dorothy, Beatrice--the whole college--what could
they prove? Nothing--absolutely nothing, unless she betrayed herself. No
doubt they thought they had brought her to bay, and expected her to make
some sort of confession. They would find there was no getting around her
that way. There was no danger of discovery, so long as she kept her head,
and she would never show the white feather. She would write another
story--she could do it and she would, too, that very night. But first she
would go back to the Students' Building. The Dramatic Club was giving a
reception to Mr. Blake and the members of the faculty. She had been
unpardonably stupid to think of missing it.
As she crossed the shadowed space in front of the big building, she
caught sight of three dimly outlined figures clustered about one of the
pillars of the portico, and heard Frances West's voice, so sweet and
penetrating as to be quite unmistakable.
"Yes, he leaves it entirely to us," she was saying. "He said he thought
we could be trusted to know what was best."
"I wish he hadn't made the condition that no one should say anything to
her," objected a second speaker. "It doesn't seem to me quite wise to let
things just drift along the same as ever."
"Nonsense," broke in a third voice, sharp with irritation. "You know
Eleanor had walked as slowly as she dared. Now there was nothing for it
but to open the door without waiting to find out the identity of the last
two speakers, or risk being caught eaves-dropping.
She hurried on up the stairs to the society rooms on the second floor,
and devoted herself for the rest of the evening to the dullest and most
unpopular members of the faculty with an ardor that won her the heart-
felt gratitude of the president of the club.
"I can be agreeable," she thought, as she sat down at her desk an hour
later. "I can do whatever I make up my mind to. I'll show them that I'm
not going to 'drift along!'"
It was six o'clock in the morning when, stiff and heavy-eyed, she turned
off her light and crept into bed.
"I've driven a coach and four through their precious ten o'clock rule,"
she thought, "but I don't care. I've finished the story."
The story was a little sketch of western life, with characters and
incidents drawn from an experience of Jim's. Eleanor was an excellent
critic of her own work, and she knew that this was good; not so unusual,
perhaps, as the other one had been, but vivid, swinging, full of life and
color, far above the average of student work. It should go to Miss
Raymond the first thing in the morning. She would like it, and the
"Argus" perhaps would want it--Eleanor closed her tired eyes, and in a
moment was fast asleep.
It was the day of the great basket-ball game. In half an hour more the
gymnasium would be opened to the crowd that waited in two long, sinuous
lines, gay with scarfs, banners and class emblems, outside the doors. Now
and then a pretty girl, dressed all in white, with a paper hat, green or
yellow as the case might be, and an usher's wand to match, darted out of
one of the campus houses and fluttered over to the back door of the
gymnasium. The crowd watched these triumphal progresses languidly. Its
interest was reserved for the other girls, pig tailed and in limp-hanging
rain-coats, who also sought the back door, but with that absence of
ostentation and self-consciousness which invariably marks the truly
great. The crowd singled out its "heroes in homespun," and one line or
the other applauded, according to the color that was known to be sewed on
the blue sleeve beneath the rain-coat.
The green line was just shouting itself hoarse over T. Reed, who had been
observed slinking across the apple orchard, hoping to effect her entrance
unnoticed, when Eleanor Watson hurried down the steps of the Hilton
House, carrying a sheet of paper in one hand. Hearing the shouting, she
shrugged her shoulders disdainfully and chose the route to the Westcott
House that did not lead past the gymnasium doors. As she went up the
steps of the Westcott, she met Jean Eastman coming down, her white skirts
rustling in the wind.
Jean looked at her in surprise. "Why, Eleanor, you're an usher too.
Aren't you going to dress? It's half past two this minute."
"Yes," said Eleanor curtly, "I know. I'm not going to usher. I have a
headache. Jean, where is my basket-ball song?"
"How should I know?" said Jean, smoothing the petals of the green
chrysanthemums that were festooned about her wand. "On the paper with the
rest, isn't it?"
[Illustration: THE GREEN LINE WAS SHOUTING ITSELF HOARSE]
"No," said Eleanor, "it's not. I didn't go to the class 'sing' last
night, but this noon somebody left a song sheet in my room. You said they
chose mine, Jean."
"I said," corrected Jean, "that I thought they chose it. I was on the
song committee, but I didn't go to the meeting. From your description I
thought it must be one of those that Kate said was taken."
Eleanor held out the paper to Jean. "Whose are these?"
Jean glanced hastily down the page. "Why, I don't know," she said, "any
more than you do--except that first one to the tune of 'St. Louis.'" She
hummed a lilting measure or two. "That's our prize song all right, and
who do you think wrote it?"
"Who?" demanded Eleanor fiercely.
"That little Adams girl--the one who rooms with Betty Wales. T. Reed told
me she'd been working on it for weeks."
Eleanor's eyes flashed scornfully. "I should think it ought to be fairly
decent then," she said.
"Well, it's considerably more than fairly decent," said Jean cheerfully.
"I'm freezing here, Eleanor, and it's late too. Don't bother about your
song. Come over to the gym. with me and you can go in the back way."
"No, thank you," said Eleanor in frigid tones, and went back as she had
To be beaten, and by Helen Chase Adams, of all people! It was too
humiliating. Six basket-ball songs had been printed and hers rejected. No
doubt the other five had been written by special friends of the
committee. She had depended on Jean to look after hers--although she had
not doubted for a moment that it would be among the very best submitted--
and Jean had failed her.
Worse yet, the story on which she had staked her hopes had come back from
Miss Raymond, with a few words of perfunctory, non-committal criticism.
Miss Raymond had not read it to her class, much less sent the "Argus"
editors after it.
"Does she know, too?" questioned Eleanor. "Does she think that because
I've cheated once I can't ever be trusted again, or is it just my luck to
have them all notice the one thing I didn't write and let alone the
things I do?"
It was two weeks since Mr. Blake's lecture, and in that time she had
accomplished nothing of all that she had intended. Her idea had been to
begin over--to blot out the fact that once she had not played fair, and
starting on a clean sheet, repeat her triumph and prove to herself and
other people that her position in college affairs was no higher than she
deserved. But so far she had proved nothing, and every day the
difficulties of her position increased. It was almost more than she could
manage, to treat the girls whom she suspected of knowing her secret with
exactly her accustomed manner. She had not been able to verify her
suspicions except in the case of Beatrice Egerton. There was no doubt
about her. When the two were alone together she scarcely took pains to
conceal her knowledge, and her covert hints had driven Eleanor into more
than one outburst of resentment which she bitterly regretted when it was
too late. It was absolutely impossible to tell about Betty. "She treats
me exactly as she did when Jim was here," reflected Eleanor, "and just as
she did last year, for that matter. If she doesn't know it's no
particular credit to her, and if she does--" Eleanor could not bear the
idea of receiving kindness from people who must despise her.
Jean ran on to the gym., shivering in her thin dress, and muttering
savagely over Eleanor's "beastly temper."
As she passed the sophomore-senior line, one and another of her friends
shouted out gay greetings.
"Hurry up, Jean, or we shall get in before you do."
"You sophomore ushers look like a St. Patrick's Day parade."
"Tell the people in there that their clocks are slow."
"All right," said Jean, hanging on to her unmanageable paper hat.
As she passed the end of the line, Beatrice Egerton detached herself from
it, and followed her around the corner of the gym. "Oh, Miss Eastman,"
she coaxed. "Won't you let me go in with you? I shall never get a place
to see anything from way back there in the line."
Jean eyed her doubtfully. She wanted to oblige the great Miss Egerton.
"I'm afraid all the reserved seats are full by this time," she objected.
"Oh, I don't want a seat," said Beatrice easily. "I'll stand on the steps
of the faculty platform. There's no harm in that, is there?"
"I guess not," said Jean. "Come on."
The doorkeeper had gone up-stairs for a moment, and the meek little
freshman who had her place only stared when Jean and Miss Egerton ran
past her without exhibiting their credentials.
"Thanks awfully," said Miss Egerton, sitting down on a pile of rugs and
mattresses that had been stacked around the fireplace. Jean went off to
get her orders from the head usher. There was really nothing to do but
walk around and look pretty, the head usher told her. The rush to the
gallery had begun, but the janitors and the night-watchman were managing
that. Of course when the faculty began to come--
"Oh, yes," said Jean, and hurried back to Beatrice.
"Good-looking lot of ushers," she said.
Beatrice nodded. "You have a lot of pretty girls in 19--."
"To say nothing of having the college beauty," added Jean.
"Of course," said Beatrice. "Nobody in college can touch Eleanor Watson
for looks. There she is now, talking to Betty Wales and Kate Denise."
"No," chuckled Jean, "that's Laura Perkins. Their back views are
amazingly alike, but wait till you see Laura's face. No, the lady Eleanor
wouldn't come to the game. She's in the sulks."
"Seems to be her chronic state nowadays," said Beatrice. "Talking to her
is like walking on a hornet's nest. What's the particular cause of
"Oh, the committee didn't accept her basket-ball song," said Jean, "and I
was on the committee."
Beatrice lifted her eyebrows. "She actually had the nerve to write--to
hand one in?"
"Oh, that wasn't nervy," said Jean. "The girls wanted her to--l9--is
awfully shy on poets. What I don't admire is her taste in fussing because
it wasn't used."
Beatrice smiled significantly. "Did she tell you about her story?"
"Oh, a new one that she handed in for a theme a week or so ago."
"What about it?"
"Why, Miss Raymond didn't notice it particularly, and Eleanor was fussed
to death--positively furious, you know. I was with her when she got it
"How funny!" said Jean. "But don't they say that Miss Raymond is pretty
apt to like everything a girl does, after she's once become interested? I
suppose Eleanor was taking it easy and depending on that."
Beatrice's face wore its most inscrutable expression. "But, my dear," she
said, "if you knew all about that other wonderful story--the famous
There was an unusual commotion at the door opposite them. By flower-
bedecked ones and twos the faculty had been arriving, and had been
received with shouts and songs from the galleries and escorted by excited
ushers across the floor to their seats on the stage. Miss Egerton had
stopped in the midst of her sentence to find out whose coming had turned
the galleries into pandemonium and brought every usher but the phlegmatic
Jean to the door.
"Oh, it's Prexy and Miss Ferris and Dr. Hinsdale, all in a bunch," she
said at last. "How inconsiderate of them not to scatter the fireworks!"
She turned back to Jean. "As I was saying, if you knew all about that
Betty Wales, hurrying to help escort her dear Miss Ferris to the
platform, caught sight of the two on the mattresses, noticed Jean's look
of breathless interest and Beatrice's knowing air, and jumped to exactly
the right conclusion. With a last despairing glance at Miss Ferris she
turned aside from the group of crowding ushers, and dropped down beside
Jean on the mattings.
"Have you heard the latest news?" she asked, trying to make her tone
perfectly easy and natural. "The freshman captain was so rattled that she
forgot to wear her gym. suit. She came in her ordinary clothes. They've
sent an usher back with her to see that she gets dressed right this time.
Isn't that killing?"
"Absurd," said Beatrice, rising. "Jean, you haven't done anything yet;
you're too idle for words. I'm going up to jolly Dr. Hinsdale."
In her heart she was glad of the interruption. She had said just enough
to pique curiosity. To tell more would have been bad policy all around.
Betty Wales had arrived just in the nick of time.
But Jean was naturally disappointed. "Betty Wales," she said, "do you
know what you interrupted just now? Beatrice Egerton was just going to
tell me the inside facts about Eleanor's story in the 'Argus.'"
"Was she?" said Betty steadily. "If there are any inside facts, as you
call them, don't you think Eleanor is the one to tell you?"
"Oh, I don't know," said Jean carelessly. "Eleanor's so tiresome. She
wants to be the centre of the stage all the time. Shouldn't you think
she'd be willing to give other people a little show now?"
"Why, she is," returned Betty vaguely.
"Not much," asserted Jean with great positiveness. "She's sulking in her
tent this very minute because the girls aren't singing her basket-ball
song. Anybody who wasn't downright selfish would be glad to have girls
like Helen Adams get a little chance."
"Eleanor's tired and doesn't think," suggested Betty.
"You'd better go down to the door," said the head usher. "The 'green'
faculty are coming in swarms."
The game went on much as last year's had done. First one gallery shook
with forbidden applause, then the other. Sophomores sang paeans to their
victories, freshmen pluckily ignored their mistakes. T. Reed appeared as
if by magic here, there, and everywhere. Rachel Morrison played her
quiet, steady game at the sophomore basket. Katherine Kittredge, talking
incessantly to the bewildered freshman "home" whom she guarded, batted
balls with ferocious lunges of her big fist back to the centre field,
where a dainty little freshman with soft, appealing brown eyes, half
hidden under a mist of yellow hair, occasionally managed to foil T.
Reed's pursuit and sent them pounding back into the outstretched arms of
a tall, ungainly home who tossed or dropped them--it was hard to tell
which--into the freshman basket. It was a shame to let her play, the
sophomores grumbled. She was a giantess, not a girl. But as the score
piled up in their favor, they grew more amiable and laughed good-
humoredly at the ineffectual attempts of their guards to block the
Betty watched it all with keen interest and yet with a certain feeling of
detachment. It was splendid fun, but what did it matter after all who won
or lost? The freshman centres muffed another ball. Up in the "yellow"
gallery she saw a tall girl standing behind a pillar unmistakably wink
back the tears. How foolish, just for a game!
It was over at last. Miss Andrews announced the score, congratulating
victor and vanquished alike on clean, fair play. Betty joined in the mad
rush around the gym., helped sing to the team and to the freshman team
and finally retired to a quiet corner with Christy Mason, who had come
back to see the game and get a start with her neglected work before
vacation. Betty gave her the Students' Commission key with a little sigh
"It's a good deal of responsibility, isn't it?" she said.
Christy nodded. "If you take it seriously. But then isn't life a
Helen was sitting alone in their room when Betty got back, her eyes
shining like stars, her plain, angular little face alight with happiness.
"I say, Helen," began Betty, hunting for the hat-pins that still fastened
a remnant of her once gorgeous paper hat to her hair, "your song was
great. Did the girls tell you?"
"Some of them," said Helen, shyly. "Some of them didn't know I wrote it.
One asked me if I knew."
Betty laughed. "Did you tell her?"
"No, I didn't," said Helen, blushing. "I--I wanted to, awfully; but I
thought it would seem queer."
"Well, plenty of them knew," said Betty, mounting a chair to fasten her
wand over a picture.
"Of course,"--Helen's tone was apologetic,--it's a very little thing to
care so much about. I suppose you think I'm silly, but you see I worked
over it pretty hard, and I don't have so very many things to care about.
Now if I were like you--"
"Nonsense!" said Betty, descending suddenly from her lofty perch. "I
couldn't write a line of poetry if I tried from now till Commencement."
"Oh, yes, you could," said Helen, eagerly. "Well, if I were like Eleanor
"Helen," said Betty, quickly, "you're not one bit like her."
Helen waited a minute. "Betty," she began again shyly.
"Yes," said Betty, kindly.
"I'm awfully sorry you couldn't have your wish, too."
"My wish!" Betty repeated. "Oh, you mean about being on the team. I don't
mind about that, Helen. I guess I was needed more just where I was."
Helen puzzled over her answer until the supper-bell rang.
Betty's problem stayed with her all through the bustle of last days and
on into the Easter vacation. Even then she found only a doubtful
solution. She had thought that Mr. Blake's decision, of which Dorothy had
told her as soon as possible, would close the incident of the story. Now
she saw that the affair was not so easily disposed of. Beatrice Egerton
was an incalculable source of danger, but the chief trouble was Eleanor
herself. Somehow her attitude was wrong, though Betty could not exactly
tell how. She was in a false position, one that it would be difficult for
any one to maintain; and it was making her say and do things that people
like Jean, who did not understand, naturally misinterpreted. Why, even
she herself hated to meet Eleanor now. There was so much to hide and to
avoid talking about. And yet it would certainly be worse if everybody
knew. Betty puckered her smooth forehead into rows and rows of wrinkles
and still she saw no way out. She thought of consulting Nan, but she
couldn't bear to, when Nan had always been so pessimistic about Eleanor.
It was not until the vacation was over and Betty's train was pulling into
Harding that she had an idea. She gave a little exclamation. "I've got
"Got what?" demanded her seat-mate, who was a mathematical prodigy and
had been working out problems in calculus all the way from Buffalo.
"Not one of those examples of yours," laughed Betty, "only an idea,--or
at least about half an idea."
"I don't find fractions of ideas very useful," said the seat-mate.
"I never said they were," returned Betty irritably.
It had occurred to her that if there was any way to get Eleanor to
confide in Miss Ferris, perhaps matters might be straightened out.
The missing half of the idea, to which Betty had not the faintest clew,
was--how could it be done?
DORA CARLSON'S "SUGARING-OFF"
Dora Carlson pulled back the heavy oak door of the Hilton House and
stepped softly into the hall. With bright, darting glances, such as some
frightened wild creature might bestow on an unfamiliar environment, she
crept past the parlor doors and up the stairs. Dora was not naturally
timid, and her life on a lonely farm had made her self-reliant to a
degree; but there was something about these big campus houses that awed
her--mysterious suggestions of a luxurious and alien existence, of
delightful festivities and dainty belongings, that stimulated her
imagination and made her feel like a lawless intruder if she met any one
in the passages.
Of course it was foolish. Nettie Dwight, who lived next door to her on
Market Street, had not a single friend on the campus, and yet she had
been into every one of the dwelling houses and explored them all from top
to bottom. Where was the harm, she asked. All you had to do was to step
up and open the door, and then walk along as if you knew where you were
going. When you had seen as much as you wanted to, you could stop in
front of some room of which the door stood open so that you could tell
from the hall that it was empty, and turn around and go away again.
Everybody would think that the person you had come to see was out. It
sounded perfectly simple, but Dora had never been anywhere except to
Eleanor's room at the Hilton House and once, at Betty Wales's invitation,
to the Belden.
She hated to hurry through the halls. She would have liked to turn aside
and smell the hyacinths that stood in the sunny bay-window of the long
parlor; she wanted desperately to read through all the notices on the
house bulletin-board at the foot of the stairs; but instead she fled up
the two flights and through the corridor, like a criminal seeking
sanctuary, and arrived at Eleanor's room in a flurry of breathless
eagerness. The door was open and Eleanor sat by the window, staring
listlessly out at the quiet, greening lawns. The light was full on her
face and Dora, who had had only a passing glimpse of her divinity since
before the spring vacation, noticed sadly how pale and tired she looked.
"May I come in, Miss Watson?" she asked.
"Of course, but you mustn't call me that," said Eleanor, turning to her
with a charming smile. Beatrice Egerton had said that she should be over
in the course of the afternoon, and Eleanor had been dreading her coming.
The necessity of keeping up appearances with Beatrice and the rest was
wearing Eleanor out. It was a distinct relief to talk to Dora, with whom
no artifices were necessary. Whoever else knew her secret, Dora certainly
did not; she was as remote from the stream of college gossip as if she
had lived in another world.
"I am so glad to see that you're resting," said Dora brightly. "I take it
as an omen that perhaps you'll be able to do what I want."
"I hope I can," said Eleanor. "What is it?"
"Why, I'm going to have a sugaring-off tonight," announced Dora
impressively, "and I should be very pleased to have you come."
For a moment Eleanor hesitated, then her better nature triumphed. This
was the first thing the child had ever asked of her, and she should have
it, even at the cost of some trifling annoyance.
"How nice," she said cordially. "I shall be delighted to come. Just what
is a sugaring-off, Dora?"
Dora laughed gleefully. "It's amazing to me how few people know what it
is. I'm not going to tell you the particulars, but I will excite your
interest by saying that it has to do with maple sugar."
"How did you happen to think of having one?" inquired Eleanor curiously.
"Why, you see," explained Dora, "we have a sugar orchard on our farm.
Ohio is a great maple-sugar state, you know."
"Oh!" said Eleanor. "No, I didn't know."
"Sugaring time used to be the delight of my childish heart," went on Dora
quaintly. "So many people came out to our farm then. It was quite like
living in the village and having neighbors. And then I do love maple
sugar. My father makes an excellent quality."
"And he's sent you some now?"
"Yes," assented Dora eagerly, "a whole big pailful. I suppose my dear
father thought it would console me for not having been home for my spring
vacation. It came this morning, and yesterday Mrs. Bryant went to pass a
week with her son in Jersey City, and she told me I could use the kitchen
for a sugar-party if I wanted to while she was gone--I told her that I
was expecting to have a party--and this is the only night for a week that
Nettie Dwight can come, because she teaches in a night-school." Dora
paused for breath.
"Who is Nettie Dwight?" asked Eleanor idly.
"Oh, she is a Market Street girl. There will be three Market Street girls
and you and Miss Wales, if she can come. Miss Wales asked me to a play at
her house last fall and I am so glad to have a chance to return it. I was
afraid I never could."
"Hello, Eleanor. Good-afternoon, Miss Carlson." Beatrice Egerton threw
her books and then herself unceremoniously on to Eleanor's couch.
Beatrice could hardly have told why she persisted in inflicting her
society upon Eleanor Watson. In her shallow way she was fond of her, and
she felt vaguely that considering her own careless code of morals it
would be inconsistent to drop Eleanor now, just because she had followed
similar standards. At the same time she was angry at what she looked upon
as a betrayal of her friendship, and considered that any annoyance she
might inflict on Eleanor was no more than she deserved. As for Dora
Carlson, she amused Beatrice, who, being thoroughly self-seeking herself,
could not imagine why the exclusive Eleanor should choose to exhibit a
freakish tendency toward philanthropy in this one direction. Beatrice
would have liked, for the satisfaction there is in solving a puzzle, to
get at the root of the matter. Accordingly she always took pains to draw
"I've met you before this afternoon, Miss Carlson," she said, thumping a
refractory pillow into place. "What are you doing up on the campus?"
It was the most casual remark, but Dora answered it with the naive
frankness that was her peculiar charm.
"I am giving out my invitations for a sugaring-off," she said.
"A sugaring-off!" repeated Miss Egerton gaily. "Now I haven't the
faintest idea what that is but it sounds very festive."
Dora looked at her questioningly and then at Eleanor. "Miss Egerton," she
said at last, "I should be very pleased to have you come too, because you
are Eleanor's dear friend."
Beatrice gave a little shriek of amusement. "Are you really going,
"Then I shall certainly come too," declared Beatrice, merrily, "to see
that you don't eat too much sugar."
As Dora danced down the Belden House steps a few moments later, her face
was wreathed in smiles. Miss Wales was coming too. They were all coming.
"I guess my father would be pleased if he could look in on us to-night,"
thought the little freshman happily. Then, as the college clock chimed
out the hour, her brow wrinkled with anxiety. The kitchen must be swept,
--Dora had decided views about Mrs. Bryant's housekeeping,--and the
"surprise," which was to eke out the entertainment afforded by the
sugaring-off proper, had yet to be prepared. The unaccustomed
responsibilities of hostess weighed heavily upon Dora Carlson as she
traversed the long mile that stretched between the campus and 50 Market
It was an odd little party which gathered that night in Mrs. Bryant's
dingy kitchen. The aggressive Nettie Dwight, two hopelessly commonplace
sophomores, cousins, from a little town down the river, and Dora composed
the Market Street contingent. They were all very much in awe of Eleanor's
beauty, and of Beatrice's elaborate gown and more elaborate manner. Betty
Wales, enveloped in one of Mrs. Bryant's "all-over" kitchen aprons,
vigorously stirring the big kettleful of bubbling, odorous syrup, tried
her best to put the others at their ease and to make things go, as
affairs at the college always did. But it was no use. Everything
progressed too smoothly. Nothing burned or boiled over or refused to
cook,--incidents which always add the spice of adventure to a chafing
dish spread. Nobody had come in a kimono. There was no bed to loll back
on, no sociable sparcity of plates, no embarrassing interruptions in the
way of heads of uninvited guests poked in the door and apologetically
withdrawn; and the anxious pucker of hospitality on the face of the
little hostess imposed an added restraint and formality upon the oddly
assorted company of guests. Beatrice Egerton played with her rings,
yawned without dissimulation, and wished she had stayed at home; Eleanor
bravely parried Nettie Dwight's incisive questions about "her set"; and
Betty, stirring and talking to the cousins and Dora, had time to admire
Eleanor's self-control and to wonder pityingly if there were many girls
in Harding College so completely "out of it" as these four seemed to be.
And yet they were not unhappy; they were enjoying Dora Carlson's
sugaring-off as though it had been a delightful college spread instead of
a dull and dreadful party.
When the biscuits, that Dora had made herself, were done and the sugar
boiled to the right consistency, everybody began to brighten up, and the
refreshment feature bade fair to be a real success. It was too late in
the spring for snow, so Dora had provided some little cakes of ice on
which to wax the sugar. They were not quite so good a substitute as might
have been desired, for they had a fashion of slipping dangerously over
the plates, and then the hot sugar slipped and spread on the ice and had
to be dexterously coaxed to settle down in one place and melt out a cool
bed for itself, as it does easily enough in snow. But all this only added
to the interest of the occasion. One sophomore cousin lost her cake of
ice on the floor, and she showed more animation than she had in all the
rest of the evening together, in spite of Betty's valiant efforts. Then
Nettie Dwight suggested that they grain part of the sugar, so, when
everybody had eaten as much as possible of the waxed variety, spread on
as many crisp little biscuits as Dora could force upon them, Dora brought
saucers full of the hot syrup and there was a stirring contest, with
results in the shape of creamy maple candy, which Dora put out to cool,
ready to be eaten later.
"And now," she said, with a little quiver of eagerness in her voice,
"there is one course more. Look under your plates."
Search revealed a carefully folded square of white paper at each place.
Beatrice got hers open first and muttered, "What perfect nonsense!"
before Eleanor could stop her with an imploring glance.
"Such a bright idea!" cried Betty Wales, hurrying to the rescue. "They're
fortunes, aren't they? Oh, dear, I'm afraid mine doesn't fit. It's much
Dora laughed gleefully. "That's the fun, you see,--to notice how they
"How'd you ever think of it?" giggled one of the cousins. "There's a man
in mine all right."
"Oh, I didn't think of it myself," explained Dora, modestly. "I found it
in a magazine. I don't suppose any of you see the 'Farmer's Friendly
"No," said Betty, quickly, "I don't believe we do."
"It's a fine magazine," continued Dora, "with quantities of good reading
matter of all kinds. There's always one page for farmers' wives, with
recipes and hints for home dressmakers. Last winter I read about giving a
luncheon, and it sounded so pretty that I cut it out, though I never
expected to use it. Right in the middle of it was one course like these
fortunes, only they were to be put into stuffed peppers, instead of
stuffing, and when the guests took the covers off their peppers, there
they would find their fortunes."
"But Miss Carlson," began Beatrice, impatiently, "don't you see that the
"I like this way just as well," broke in Betty Wales. "What you really
care about is the fortune, and it doesn't matter whether it's in a pepper
or under your plate."
"Not a bit," agreed Eleanor, crumpling up her fortune nervously.
"And now," said Dora, "we'll all read them out loud and see how they fit.
I put them around without looking at them, and I didn't know where any of
you were going to sit."
"I guess mine fits pretty well," said the giggling cousin, whose fortune
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