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Grace Harlowe's Senior Year at High School - or The Parting of the Ways
by Jessie Graham Flower
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"It's easy to see who is first in the hearts of Oakdale," returned Eva. "Grace won't be able to begin this evening if they don't stop it."

The moment that Grace had risen to deliver her address the commotion began, and it was not until Miss Thompson rose and smilingly held up her hand for silence that the noisy reception accorded Grace died away.

Anne, as valedictorian, was only a trifle less warmly received, and her eyes grew misty as she remembered how she had come to Oakdale poor and unknown, and entirely without friends, until Grace had so nobly championed her cause.

The bestowal of the freshman prize followed the graduates' addresses. Then came the announcement of the winners of the scholarships. There were two of these and every one of Anne's friends listened anxiously for her name. They were not disappointed, for Anne's name was the first called. She had won the Upton Scholarship of two hundred and fifty dollars a year, at whatever college she should decide to enter.

After the scholarships had been disposed of, a representative of each of the three lower classes in turn, beginning with the freshmen, presented the gymnasium money to Miss Thompson.

The freshmen had collected over three hundred dollars, the sophomores five hundred and the juniors six hundred and fifty dollars. Lastly, Grace rose from her place among her class and presented Miss Thompson with a check for the two thousand dollars, part of which had figured in the limelight of publicity. And there was one girl in the row of graduates whose heart beat uncomfortably faster for a moment as she thought of how differently it might have all ended for her had it not been for the fearless energy of Grace Harlowe.

It was over at last, the graduates received their diplomas and were admonished as to their future careers by the president of the Board of Education, whose speech concluded the exercises.

As they were leaving the stage, Jessica, whose eyes had been anxiously searching the audience from the beginning of the exercises, gave a little cry and hurrying down the steps, rushed straight into the arms of a brown-eyed girl in a traveling gown who stood waiting at the foot of the steps.

"Oh, you dear Mabel," cried Jessica joyously. "Where did you come from!"

"Mother and I didn't get in until almost nine o'clock, so we came here at once," replied Mabel Allison. "Mother is over there. Come and see her."

"I have been so disappointed," declared Jessica. "We hoped you would be here for class day, and when you didn't come to-day I gave up in despair."

"We intended to start last Friday, but mother was ill for a day or two, and that delayed us. You know it is quite a journey from Denver here."

Jessica and Mabel quickly made their way to Mrs. Allison, and a moment or two later were surrounded by the Phi Sigma Tau, and marched off in triumph to Mrs. Gray, who was in the midst of a group of her intimate friends.

After a great deal of handshaking and general greeting, the entire party of guests, young and old, set off for Mrs. Gray's beautiful home.

The young people had elected to walk and strolled along through the white moonlight, care free, the world before them.

The older members of the party who had ridden to the house were awaiting them on the veranda. Soon after they all repaired to the dining room, where a collation was served them at two long tables, at the close of which toasts were in order, and every one was "drunk down" in the fruit punch provided for the occasion.

When the gamut of toasting had been finally run, Mr. Harlowe arose and said:

"I have been appointed as spokesman by a committee composed of the fathers, mothers, brothers and sisters of the eight young women who are the cause of all this celebration. The committee of which I speak may not in any sense compare with that august body known as the Phi Sigma Tau, but nevertheless it can boast of at least having held several secret sessions, the result of those sessions being this:

"A long time ago I promised my daughter Grace that my graduation gift to her should be a trip to Europe. Knowing what an addition to the trip the society of her young friends would be, I interviewed those responsible for the welfare of the Phi Sigma Tau, and it was decided that her sorority should accompany her.

"As certain members of the aforesaid committee also feel entitled to vacations, it is quite probable that the Phi Sigma Tau will sail with at least a round dozen of chaperons. In fact, I have seriously considered chartering a liner. Now I have done my duty and any one who wishes may make remarks."

Then a perfect babble arose, and every one tried to express their opinion at once. As for the Phi Sigma Tau, they were in the seventh heaven of rapture.

Even Anne, who in spite of Mr. Harlowe's assurance, knew that for her the trip was practically impossible, rejoiced for her friends' sake.

"Come here, Anne," commanded Mrs. Gray from the head of the table.

"Anne is my own dear child," said the old lady. "In the past four years she has been not only my secretary, but a daughter as well. As her foster mother, I claim the privilege of sending her to Europe. It shall be my graduation gift to her."

"Three cheers for Mrs. Gray," proposed Hippy, rising, and they were given with a will.

"And are all of you boys going, too?" Grace asked delightedly of Tom Gray.

"Going? Well, I rather think so," he replied with emphasis.

"We are going all at once and with both feet foremost," declared Hippy. "First we shall all be sea sick. After that we shall prowl about Westminster Abbey and ruin our eyesight reading inscriptions on tombs. After that we shall be arrested in France for our Franco-American accent. We shall break our collar bones and bruise our shins doing strenuous Alpine stunts, and we shall turn a disapproving eye upon Russia and incidentally expose a few Nihilists. We shall fish in the Grand Canal at Venice and wear out our shoes prancing about Florence on a still hunt for old masters.

"Last, and by no means least, we shall sample everything to eat from English muffins to Hungarian goulash."

"I knew he'd end with something like that," sniffed Nora contemptuously.

"I am surprised that he ended at all," laughed David.

Those who have followed Grace Harlowe through her four years at High School, will hear from her again in college.

In "Grace Harlowe's First Year at Overton College" are set down the eventful happenings of her freshman year, and her many friends will find her to be the same generous, warm-hearted young woman who won their admiration and respect during her High School days.

THE END.

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