"Oh, girls," cried Nora suddenly. "I have a half a dollar."
"Really?" said Jessica. "I didn't suppose there was that much money in Oakdale."
"My sister gave it to me this morning," Nora went on, ignoring Jessica's remark. "I am supposed to buy a new collar with it, but if you are thirsty——"
"I am simply perishing with thirst," murmured Grace.
Five minutes later the four girls were seated in the nearest drug store busily engaged with hot chocolate, while they congratulated Nora on having spent her money in a good cause.
The sophomores smiled to themselves next morning at Marian's motto. It hung in a prominent place in the locker-room and read: "An ounce of loyalty is worth a pound of cleverness."
BURYING THE HATCHET
It was some days before Julia Crosby was able to return to school, but when she did put in an appearance, she lost no time in taking her class in hand and bringing about a much-needed reform. The part played by Grace Harlowe in Julia's rescue had been related by her to various classmates who had visited her during her illness, and Grace found that the older girls were inclined to lionize her more than she cared to be. She received praise enough to have completely turned her head had she not been too sensible to allow it to do so.
After holding a conference with Julia, the two girls sent out notices to their respective classes that a grand reunion of the two classes would take place on the next Saturday afternoon at one o'clock, at the old Omnibus House, providing the weather permitted. A tax of twenty-five cents apiece was levied on the members of both classes. "Please pay your money promptly to the treasurer of your class," ended the notices, "if you wish to have plenty to eat. Important rites and ceremonies will be observed. You will be sorry if you stay away, as an interesting program is promised. Please keep this notice a secret."
"The field back of the Omnibus House is an ideal place for the burial," Julia told Grace. "It was there that the 'Black Monks of Asia' held their revel and were unmasked by the freshmen. Besides, it's quiet and we shan't be disturbed."
Grace agreed with her, and the two girls outlined the proceedings with many a chuckle.
The junior and sophomore classes had been requested to go directly to the Omnibus House.
"It would be great to have both classes march out there, but we should have the whole of Oakdale marching with us before we arrived at the sacred spot," observed Grace, with a giggle.
"If we don't have a lot of freshmen to suppress it will be surprising. I do hope the girls haven't told anyone," Julia answered. "By the way, we have a hatchet at home that will be just the thing to bury. It is more like a battle-ax than anything else, and looks formidable enough to represent the feeling that the juniors and sophomores are about to bury. Now, Grace, you must prepare a speech, for we ought to have representative remarks from both classes. Then Anne Pierson must recite 'The Bridge of Sighs,' after I have made it over to suit the occasion. We'll have to have some pallbearers. Three girls from each class will do."
Julia planned rapidly and well. Grace listened attentively. The junior captain had remarkable energy. It was easy to see why Julia had always headed her class. Julia in turn, was equally impressed with Grace's ability. A mutual admiration society bade fair to spring up between the two, so recently at swords' points.
On Saturday the weather left nothing to be desired. It seemed like a day in late spring, although it was in reality early March. At one o'clock precisely the two classes, with the exception of one member, assembled. Julia Crosby acting as master of ceremonies, formed the classes in two lines, and marched them to the middle of the field. Here, to their complete mystification, they saw a large hole about four feet in depth had been dug.
"Who on earth dug that hole, and what is it for?" inquired a curious sophomore.
"Hush!" said Julia Crosby reverently. "That is a grave. Be patient. Curb your rising curiosity. Soon you shall know all."
"Assistant Master Harlowe, will you arrange the esteemed spectators, so that the ceremony may proceed?"
Grace stepped forward and solemnly requested the girls to form a double line on each side of the opening. The shorter girls were placed in the front rows.
"The sophomores will now sing their class song," directed the master of ceremonies.
When the sophomores had finished, the juniors applauded vigorously. The juniors' song was next in order and the sophomores graciously returned the applause.
"I will now request the worthy junior members Olive Craig, Anne Green and Elsie Todd, to advance. Honorable Assistant Master Harlowe, will you name your trusted followers?"
Grace named Nora, Jessica and Marian Barber who came to her side with alacrity.
"During the brief space of time that we are obliged to absent ourselves, will every guest keep her roving eyes bent reverently on the ground and think about nothing. It is well to fittingly prepare for what is to come."
With this Julia marched her adherents down the field and around the corner of the Omnibus House. She was followed by Grace and her band. There was a chorus of giggles from the chosen helpers that was sternly checked by Julia.
Before their eyes stood a large, open paste-board box lined with the colors of both classes, in which reposed the Crosby hatchet, likened to a battle-ax by Julia. Its handle was decorated with sophomore and junior ribbons, and around the head was a wreath of immortelles. A disreputable looking sheaf of wheat lay across the end of the box.
There was a smothered laugh from Nora, whose quick brain had grasped the full significance of the thing.
"This is not an occasion for levity," reprimanded Grace sternly. "Laughing will not be tolerated."
Three twisted ribbon handles of sophomore colors and three of junior ornamented either side of the box. Each girl grasped a handle.
"We will proceed with the ceremony," directed Julia. "Lift up the box."
This was easier said than done. The handles were so close together that the girls hardly had room to step. The journey was finally accomplished without any further mishap than the sliding off of the wheat sheaf. This was hastily replaced by Jessica before its fall had been marked by the eagle eye of the master of ceremonies, who marched ahead with her assistant.
When the box had been carefully deposited at one side of the "grave," Julia Crosby took her place beside it, and assuming a Daniel Webster attitude began her address.
"Honored juniors and sophomores. We have met together to-day for a great and noble purpose. We are about to take a step which will forever after be recorded among the doughty deeds of Oakdale High School. It will go down in High School history as the glorious inspiration of a master mind. We are going to unfurl the banner of peace and bury the hatchet.
"Since the early days of our class history, war, cruel war, has raged between the august bodies represented here to-day. On this very field many moons ago the gallant sophomores advanced upon the, then, very fresh freshmen, but retreated in wild confusion. It is therefore fitting that this should be the place chosen for the burial of all grudges, jealousies and unworthy emotions that formerly rent our breasts."
Here Julia paused to take breath.
The girls cheered wildly.
Julia bowed right and left, her hand over her heart. When the noise had subsided, she continued. She bewailed junior misdeeds and professed meek repentance. She dwelt upon the beauty of peace and she begged her hearers henceforth to live with each other amicably.
It was a capital address, delivered in a mock-serious manner that provoked mirth, and did more toward establishing general good feeling than any other method she might have tried. In closing she said:
"The hatchet is the symbol of war. The wheat-sheaf represents our elderly grudge; but the immortelles are the everlasting flowers of good will that spring from the planting of these two. We will now listen to a few remarks from the pride of the sophomore class, Assistant Master of Ceremonies Grace Harlowe."
Grace attempted to speak, but received an ovation that made her flush and laughingly put her hands over her ears. When she was finally allowed to proceed, she delivered an oration as flowery as that of the master of ceremonies.
When the cries of approbation evoked by Grace's oration had died away, it was announced that the "renowned elocutionist," Miss Anne Pierson, would recite a poem appropriate to the occasion. Anne accordingly recited "The Bridge of Sighs," done over by Julia Crosby, and beginning:
"Take it up gingerly; Handle with care; 'Tis a relic of sophomore And junior warfare."
The intense feeling with which Anne rendered this touching effusion, caused the master of ceremonies to sob audibly and lean so heavily upon her assistant for support that that dignified person almost pitched head first into the opening, and was saved from an ignominious tumble by one of her attendants. This was too much for the others, who, forgetting the solemnity of their office, shrieked with mirth, in which the spectators were not slow to join.
"I think we had better wind up the ceremony," said Julia with great dignity. "These people will soon be beyond our control."
The attendants managed to straighten their faces long enough to assist in the concluding rites that were somewhat hastily performed, and the master of ceremonies and her assistants held an impromptu reception on the spot.
"Now," said Julia Crosby, "we have done a good day's work for both classes. I only hope that no prying freshmen hear of this. They will be sure to come here and dig up what we have gone to such pains to bury. They have no respect for their superiors. However, you have all behaved yourselves with true High School spirit, and I wish to announce that you will find a spread awaiting you around the corner of the Omnibus House."
There was a general hurrah at this statement, and the guests rushed off to the spot designated.
Grace had held an earnest conference with old Jean, and the result showed itself in the row of tables rudely constructed to fit the emergency. He it was who had dug the "grave." He now sat on the steps waiting to build a fire, over which Grace had planned to make coffee for the hungry girls whose appetites had been whetted by the fresh air.
The money contributed by the classes had been used to good advantage by Grace and Julia, and piles of tempting eatables gladdened the eyes of the guests.
For the next half hour feasting was in order. Juniors and sophomores shared cups; as the supply of these were limited. At the end of that time the last crumb of food had disappeared and the girls stood in groups or walked about the field, discussing the various features of school life.
Some one proposed playing old-fashioned games, and soon "puss in the corner," "pom-pom-pull-away," and "prisoner's goal" were in full swing.
"This brings back one's Grammar School days, doesn't it?" said Nora to Grace. They were deep in a game of prisoner's goal, and stood for a moment waiting for the enemy to move toward them.
"I haven't had such a good, wholesale romp for ages," answered Grace, and was off like the wind to intercept Eva Allen as she endeavored to make a wide detour of their goal.
The hours slipped by on wings.
The start home was made about five o'clock. The juniors and sophomores trooped back to Oakdale arm in arm, singing school songs and making the welkin ring with their joyous laughter.
The people of Oakdale smiled at the procession of happy girls and wondered what particular celebration was in order.
When the center of town was reached the party broke up with a great deal of laughing and chattering, the girls going their separate ways in the best of spirits.
"I've had a perfectly fine time," declared Grace, as she said good-bye to her chums, "and how glad I am that we are all friends again."
She quite forgot when she made that statement that Miriam Nesbit had not honored the reunion with her presence.
AT THE ELEVENTH HOUR
One more excitement was to quicken the pulses of the sophomores before they settled down to that long last period of study between Easter holidays and vacation.
The great, decisive basketball game with the juniors was now to take place.
Grace, in conclave with her team, had gone over her instructions for the hundredth time. They had discussed the strong points of the juniors and what were their own weak ones.
Miriam Nesbit was sullen at these meetings; but in the practice game she had played with her usual agility and skill, so the girls felt that she was far too valuable a member of the team for them to mind her humors.
"Everybody is coming to-morrow to see us play," exclaimed Nora in the locker-room, at the recess on Friday. "I don't believe the President's visit would create more excitement, really," she added with a touch of pride.
"Did you know," interposed Anne, "that the upperclass girls are calling Grace and Julia Crosby 'David and Jonathan'?"
This was also an amusing piece of news at which the other girls laughed joyously. In fact, there was no such feeling of depression before this game as had affected the class when the first game was played. The sophomores were cheerful and confident, awaiting the great battle with courage in their hearts.
"Be here early, girls," cautioned Grace, as they parted after school that day. "Perhaps we may get in a little practice before the people begin to come."
Grace hurried through her own dinner as fast as she could, on the eventful Saturday.
"I shall be glad when this final game is over, child," exclaimed Mrs. Harlowe anxiously, "I really think you have had more athletics this winter than has been good for you, what with your walking, and skating, dancing, and now basketball."
"You'll come, won't you, mother?" cried Grace, seizing her hat and rushing off without listening to Mrs. Harlowe's comments. "We are sure to win," she called as she waved her a good-bye kiss.
There was no one in the school building when Grace got back; that is, no one except the old janitress, who was sweeping down the corridor, as usual. The other girls had not been so expeditious and Grace found the locker-room deserted.
With trembling eagerness she was slipping on her gymnasium suit and rubber-soled shoes, when she suddenly remembered that she had left her tie in the geometry classroom. She had bought a new one the day before, placed it in the back of her geometry and walked out of the classroom, leaving book, tie and all behind.
"I'll run up and get it right away, before the others come," she said to herself.
Running nimbly up the broad stairway, she entered the deserted classroom and hurried down the aisle to the end of the room where she usually sat during recitation.
"Here it is," she murmured, taking it out of the book and tying it on. Then, sitting down at the desk, she rested her chin in her hands. The quiet of the place was soothing to her excited nerves, and since it was so early she would rest there for a moment and think.
Grace might have dreamed away five minutes when she heard the distant sound of voices below.
"Dear me," she exclaimed, laughing, "they'll scold me for not being on time. I must hurry." So she hastened up the aisle to the door, which was shut, although she had not remembered closing it after her.
She turned the knob, still smiling to herself, but the door stuck fast. It was locked!
Grace was so stunned that for a moment she hardly comprehended what had happened. She sat down and tried to collect her thoughts. Locked up in an upper classroom on the afternoon of the great game!
She tried the one other door in the room. It also was locked. As for the great windows, they were too large for her to push up without a pole.
"I'll try calling," she said. "They may hear me."
But her calls were fruitless, and beating and knocking on the door panels seemed nothing but muffled sounds in the stillness.
"Oh! Oh!" she cried, rushing wildly from doors to windows and back again. "What shall I do! What shall I do?"
In the meantime, it was growing late. The sophomores had assembled and were confidently waiting for their captain.
"She's late for the first time," observed one of the girls, "but we'll forgive her under the circumstances."
"Maybe she's in the gymnasium," suggested Anne, hurrying off to look for her friend. In spite of herself she felt some misgivings and she meant to lose no time in finding her beloved Grace.
The gallery was already half full of people. Anne moved about looking for David, or some one who could help her. Just then Mrs. Harlowe appeared at the door.
"Where is Grace, Mrs. Harlowe?" Anne demanded eagerly.
"I don't know, dear," answered Mrs. Harlowe "She ate her dinner and went off in such a hurry that I hardly had time to speak to her. She told me she wanted to get back to meet the girls."
Anne ran back to the locker-room.
"Grace left home hours ago," she cried. "I just felt that something had happened."
Jessica opened Grace's locker.
"Grace must be in the building," she exclaimed "Here are her clothes."
The girls began to rush about wildly, looking for their captain in the various rooms on the basement floor.
In a few moments a junior came to the door.
"The game will be called in ten minutes," she said. "Are you ready?"
"Yes," answered Nora calmly. "Be careful," she whispered. "Don't let them know yet."
Anne ran again to the gymnasium.
"I'll get David this time," she said to herself. "Something will have to be done if Grace is to be found in time."
David was sitting at one side of the gallery with Reddy and Hippy.
He looked very grave when Anne whispered the news to him. The place was packed with impatient spectators. The junior team was already standing on the floor talking in low voices as they waited impatiently for their opponents to appear at the opposite end.
"She must be somewhere in the building," David ejaculated. "That is if she has on her gymnasium suit. Have you looked upstairs yet?"
"No," replied Anne, "but we have been all through the downstairs' rooms."
As they ran up the steps they heard the shrill whistle that summoned the players to their positions.
"Come on," cried Nora. "Miriam, you will have to take Grace's place, and Eva Allen will substitute for you."
It still lacked a few moments of the toss up; the whistle having been blown sooner to hurry the dilatory sophomores, who seemed determined to linger, unaccountably, in the little side room.
But in that brief time a remarkable change had taken place in the demeanor of Miriam Nesbit. Two brilliant spots burned on her cheeks, and her black eyes flashed and glowed with happiness. The other girls were too downcast and wretched to notice the transformation. They walked slowly into the gymnasium and stood, ill at ease and downcast, at their end of the hall.
A wave of gossip had spread quickly over the audience, that sat waiting with breathless interest for the appearance of the tardy sophomore.
What had happened? Had there been an accident?
No; it was all a mistake. There they were. And tremendous applause burst forth, which died down almost as soon as it had begun. Where was Grace Harlowe, the daring captain of the sophomore team, who had boasted that her team would win the game if it took their last breath to do it?
There was a great craning of necks as the spectators looked in vain for the missing Grace.
Hippy dropped his chin upon his breast disconsolately.
"I feel limp as a rag," he groaned. "Where, oh, where, is our gallant captain? I'll never believe Grace deserted her post."
In the meantime poor Grace, locked in the upper classroom, had concentrated all her thoughts and mental energies on a means of making her escape in time. She sat down quietly, and, folding her hands, began to consider the situation. In looking back long afterwards upon this tragic hour, it seemed to her that it was the blackest moment of her life. The walls were thick. The doors heavy and massive. The ceilings high. There was no possibility of her cries being heard below. It is true she might break a window, but what good would that do? She couldn't jump down three stories into a stone court below. She went to the window and looked out.
"If I hung by this window sill," Grace said aloud, "I believe my feet would just reach the cornice of the second-story window."
Seizing a heavy ruler from one of the desks, she ran to the window and deliberately smashed out all the plate glass in the lower sash. Then, hoisting herself onto the sill, she looked down from what seemed to be rather a dizzy height. But nerve and determination will accomplish anything, and Grace turned her eyes upward.
"I shall do it," she kept saying to herself over and over.
Clinging to the window sill, she gradually let herself down until her feet touched the top of the cornice underneath. Then, steadying herself she looked down. The cornice ledge was quite broad; broad enough to kneel on, in fact. She was glad of this, for she had intended to kneel on it, whatever its width.
With infinite caution, she gradually slipped along the ledge until she was kneeling. Resting her elbows on the stone shelf, she lowered herself to the next window sill. There she stood for a moment, looking in at the empty classroom.
The door into the corridor stood open, and as she clung to the narrow ledge, her face pressed against the window, she wondered how she was going to get in.
"Unless I butt my head against this plate glass," she exclaimed, "I really don't think I can make it. I can't kick in the glass, for fear of losing my balance."
Suddenly she heard her name called.
"Grace! Grace! Where are you?"
First it was David's voice, and then Anne's, and then the two together, echoing through the empty corridors and classrooms.
"I'm here," she answered. "Help! Help!"
Fortunately, they were passing the door at that instant and heard her muffled cries.
"Here," she cried again, and they saw her at last, clinging desperately to the window ledge.
"I don't dare open the window," exclaimed David, thinking aloud. "The slightest jar might make her lose her balance. Grace," he cried, "I'll have to break out the upper sash. Lower your head as much as possible and close your eyes."
Another instant, and Grace was crouching in a shower of broken glass, which fell harmlessly on her back and the top of her head. David knocked off the jagged pieces at the lower end, and Grace climbed nimbly over the sash.
"There's no time for explanations now," she cried. "I was mysteriously locked in. Has the game been called?"
David looked hurriedly at his watch.
"You have just a minute and a half," he exclaimed, and the three ran madly down the steps and into the gymnasium just as the whistle blew and the girls took their places.
When Grace, covered with dust, a long, red scratch across one cheek, rushed into the gymnasium, wild applause shook the walls of the building, for the honor of the sophomore class was saved.
THE GREAT GAME
It was a pitched battle from the very beginning.
The junior team was in splendid trim, and they played with great finish and judgment; but the sight of Grace, one side of whose face was tinged with blood that had risen to the surface from the deep scratch, seemed to spur the sophomores to the most spectacular and brilliant plays.
Only one girl lagged, and was not in her usual trim. It was Miriam Nesbit, whose actions were dispirited and showed no enthusiasm. Her shooting was so inaccurate that a wave of criticism spread over the audience, and the members of her own class watched her with deep anxiety. When the first half ended, however the sophomores were two points to the good.
"Grand little players!" cried Hippy, expressing his joy by kicking both feet against the wooden walls as hard as he could, while he clapped his hands and roared with all his might.
"The gamest little team I ever saw," answered Reddy.
But David, who had resumed his seat beside them, made no reply. He rose presently and went to find his sister, who was sitting somewhat apart from the other girls in gloomy silence.
"What's the matter with you, sister?" he asked gently. "You are not playing as well as usual. I expected you, especially, to do some fine work to-day. On the contrary, you have never played worse."
Miriam looked at her brother coldly.
"Why should I help them when they have dishonored me?" she demanded fiercely.
"How have they dishonored you, Miriam?" asked David.
"By making me the last in everything; putting me at the foot," she said, stifling a sob of anger.
David looked at his sister sorrowfully. He saw there was no reasoning with her in her present state of mind; yet knowing her revengeful spirit, he dreaded the consequences.
"Miriam," he said at last, speaking slowly, "perhaps, some day, you will learn by experience that the people who give a square deal are the only ones who really stay at the head. They always win out; and those who are not on the level——" He stopped. A sudden suspicion had come into his mind.
"You don't mean to say that it was you who——"
But he didn't finish. Instead, he turned on his heel and walked away. In one glance he had read Miriam's secret. Now he understood that look of wild appeal, baffled rage, mortification and disappointment, all jumbled together in her turbulent soul.
"Did she really want it so badly as all that?" he thought, "or was it only her insatiable desire never to be beaten?"
In the meantime, Grace, surrounded by a circle of her school-fellows, was telling them the history of her imprisonment. Miss Thompson and Mrs. Harlowe had made their way across the floor to the crowd of sophomores; Mrs. Harlowe to find out whether her daughter's cheek had been seriously cut, which it had not, and the principal to ask a few questions.
"Did it look like a trick, Grace?" she asked when she had heard the story.
"I hardly know, Miss Thompson. I feel certain that I left the door open when I went in. The janitress may have locked it without seeing me."
"Perhaps," answered Miss Thompson thoughtfully, "but the rule of locking the larger classrooms after school hours has never been followed that I know of. There is really no reason for it, and it might cause some delay in the morning, in case Mrs. Gunby were not around to unlock the doors."
"You will have to send a bill to father for all the broken glass," laughed Grace. "I shouldn't have been here at this moment if I hadn't done some smashing."
Miss Thompson smiled.
"You were perfectly right to do it, my dear. It was an exhibition of good judgment and great courage. As for the bill, certainly the victim of an employe's stupidity should not be held accountable for costs. But we won't disturb you now with any more questions. You deserve to win the game and I hope with all my heart you will."
There was still a little time left and Grace determined to improve those shining moments by having a talk with Miriam.
Miriam never looked up when Grace approached her. Her dark brows were knit in an ugly frown and her eyes were on the floor.
"Miriam, aren't you glad I got out of prison in time?" asked Grace cordially.
"I suppose so," answered Miriam, looking anywhere but at Grace.
"Is there anything the matter with you to-day?" continued Grace.
"No," answered Miriam shortly.
"Your playing is not up to mark. The girls are very uneasy. Won't you try to do a little better next half?"
There was a childlike appeal in Grace's voice that grated so on Miriam's nerves, at that moment that she deliberately turned and walked away, leaving Grace standing alone.
"Wait a minute, Miriam," called Nora, who, with some of the other sophomores, had been watching the scene. "You aren't ill to-day, are you?"
"No," replied Miriam angrily.
"Because, if you are really ill, you know," continued Nora, "your sub. could take your place. Anna Ray can play a great deal better game than you played the first half."
Miriam turned on Nora furiously, and was about to make one of her most violent replies, when the whistle blew and the girls flew to their places.
Julia Crosby and Grace smiled at each other in the most friendly fashion as they stood face to face for the last time that season. There was nothing but good-natured rivalry between them now.
The referee balanced the ball for an instant, her whistle to her lips. Then the ball shot up, her whistle sounded and the great decisive last half had begun.
Grace managed to bat the ball as it descended in the direction of one of her eager forwards who tried for the basket and just missed it. The juniors made a desperate attempt to get the ball into their territory, but the sophomores were too quick for them, and Nora made a brilliant throw to goal that caused the sophomore fans to cheer with wild enthusiasm.
It was a game long to be remembered. Both teams fought with a determination and spirit that caused their fans in the gallery to shout themselves hoarse. The juniors made some plays little short of marvellous, and five minutes before the last half was over the score stood 8 to 6 in favor of the sophomores.
"This game will end in a tie if they're not careful," exclaimed Hippy. "No, Nora has the ball! She'll score if anyone can! Put her home, Nora!" he yelled excitedly.
Nora was about to make one of the lightning goal throws for which she was noted, when like a flash Miriam Nesbit seized the ball from her, and attempted to make the play herself. But her aim was inaccurate. The ball flew wide of the basket and was seized by a junior guard. The tie seemed inevitable.
A groan went up from the gallery. Then a distinct hiss was heard, and a second later the entire sophomore class hissed Miriam Nesbit.
Miss Thompson rose, thinking to call the house to order, but sat down again, shaking her head.
"They know what they are about," she said, for Grace herself did not know the game any better than the principal. "It was inexcusable of Miriam, inexcusable and intentional. In attempting to gratify her own vanity she has prevented her side from scoring at a time when all personal desire should be put aside. She really deserves it."
But the score was not tied after all, for the junior guard fumbled the ball, dropped it and before she could regain possession of it, it was speeding toward Marian Barber, thrown with unerring accuracy by Grace. Up went Marian's hands. She grasped it, then hurled it with all her might, straight into the basket. Five seconds later the whistle blew, with the score 10 to 6.
The sophomores had won.
The enthusiastic fans of both classes rushed out of the gallery and down the stairs to the gymnasium. Two tall sophomores seized Grace and making a chair of their hands, carried her around the gymnasium, followed by the rest of the class, sounding their class yell at the tops of their voices.
The story of Grace's imprisonment and escape out of the third story window went from mouth to mouth, and her friends eagerly crowded the floor in an effort to speak to her. There were High School yells and class yells until Miss Thompson was obliged to cover her ears to deaden the noise.
Miss Thompson made her way through the crowd to where Grace was standing in the midst of her admiring schoolmates. The principal took the young captain in her arms, embracing her tenderly.
Surely no one had ever seen Miss Thompson display so much unrestrained and candid emotion before. There were tears in her eyes, her voice trembled when she spoke.
"It was a great victory, Grace, I congratulate you and your class. You have fought a fine, courageous battle against great odds. Many another girl who had climbed out of a third-story window, without even a rope to hold by, would have little strength left to play basketball much less to win the championship. I am very proud of you to-day, my dear," and she kissed Grace right on the deep, red scratch that marred her cheek.
"She is a girl after my own heart," Miss Thompson was thinking, as she hurried to her office. "Grace has faults, of course, but on the other hand, she is as honest as the day, modest about her ability, unselfish and with boundless courage. Certainly she is a splendid influence in a school, and I wish I had more pupils like her."
It was with difficulty that Grace extricated herself from her admiring friends and, accompanied by her chums, made for the locker room to don street attire.
Now that it was all over the reaction had set in, and she began to feel a little tired, although she was almost too happy for words. She walked along, dimly alive to what the girls were saying.
Nora was still upset over Miriam Nesbit's lawless attempt to score, and sputtered angrily all the way down the corridor. "I should think Miriam Nesbit would be ashamed to show her face in school, again, after this afternoon's performance," Nora declared.
"Did you see what David did?" queried Jessica.
"Yes, I did," said Anne.
"What was it?" asked Grace, coming out of her day dream.
"The minute the girls began to hiss Miriam, he got up and walked out of the gymnasium," Jessica replied. "I believe he was so deeply ashamed of what she did that he couldn't bear to stay."
"Well, he found Grace, and rescued her in time for the game," said Anne. "That must be some consolation to him. I don't see how you got locked in, Grace. Are you sure you didn't close the door after you. It has a spring lock, you know."
"I thought I left it open," mused Grace, "but I might have unconsciously pulled it to."
"It is very strange," replied Anne, in whose mind a vague suspicion had taken root. Then she made a mental resolve to do a little private investigating on her own account.
When Grace reached home that night she found two boxes awaiting her.
"Oh, what can they be?" she cried in great excitement, for it was not every day that she found two imposing packages on the hall table, at the same time, addressed to her.
"Open them and see, little daughter," replied Grace's father, pinching her unscratched cheek.
The one was a large box of candy from her classmates, the contents of which they helped to devour the next day.
The other box held a bunch of violets and lilies of the valley. In this were two cards, "Mrs. Robert Nesbit" and "Mr. David Nesbit."
"Poor old David!" thought Grace, as she buried her nose in the violets. "He is trying to atone for Miriam's sins."
A PIECE OF NEWS
After the excitement of the famous game came a great calm. The various teachers privately congratulated themselves on the marked improvement in lessons, and were secretly relieved with the thought that basketball was laid on the shelf for the rest of the school year.
Miriam Nesbit left Oakdale for a visit the Monday after the game, and did not return for two weeks. The general opinion seemed to be that she was ashamed of herself; but the expression on her face when she did return was not indicative of either shame or humility. She was more aggressive than before, and looked as though she considered the whole school far beneath her. She refused to even nod to Grace, Nora, Anne or Jessica, while Julia Crosby remarked with a cheerful grin that she guessed Miriam had forgotten that they had ever been introduced.
During the Easter holidays, Tom Gray came down and his aunt gave a dinner to her "adopted children" in honor of her nephew. Nora gave a fancy dress party to about twenty of her friends, while Grace invited the seven young people to a straw ride and a moonlight picnic in Upton Wood.
The days sped swiftly by, and spring came with her wealth of bud and bloom. During the long, balmy days Grace inwardly chafed at schoolbooks and lessons. She wanted to be out of doors. As she sat trying to write a theme for her advanced English class, one sunny afternoon during the latter part of April, she glanced frequently out the window toward the golf links that lay just beyond the High School campus. How she wished it were Saturday instead of only Wednesday. That very day she had arranged to play a game of golf with one of the senior class girls, who had made a record the previous year on the links. Grace felt rather flattered at the notice of the older girl, who was considered particularly exclusive, and rarely if ever paid any attention to the lower class girls. She had accidentally learned that Grace was an enthusiastic golfer, and therefore lost no time in asking her to play.
"I was awfully surprised when she asked me to play," confided Grace to her chums on the way home from school that afternoon.
"Oh, that's nothing," said Jessica. "She ought to feel honored to think you consented. You are really an Oakdale celebrity, you know."
"Please remember when you are basking in the light of her senior countenance that you once had friends among the sophomores," said Nora in a mournful tone.
"I consider both those remarks verging on idiotic," laughed Grace. "Don't you, Anne?"
"Certainly," replied Anne. "But let me add a word of caution. Don't allow this mark of senior caprice to turn your head. Remember you are——"
"You're worse than the others," cried Grace, "Let's change the subject."
Saturday proved a beautiful day, and with a light heart Grace started for the links with her golf bag strapped across her shoulder. The senior whose name was Ethel Post, sat waiting for her on one of the rustic benches set under a tree at one side of the starting place. She greeted Grace cordially and the two girls set to work without delay to demonstrate their prowess as golfers. The caddies, two small boys of Oakdale, who could be hired at the links by anyone desiring their services, carried the girls' clubs and hunted lost balls with alacrity.
Miss Post found that Grace was a foeman worthy of her steel. The young girl's arm was steady, and she delivered her strokes with decision. Grace came out two holes ahead.
Miss Post was delighted. "I hope you will golf with me often, Miss Harlowe," she said cordially. "It is so seldom one finds a really good player."
"I am fond of all games and outdoor sports," replied Grace, "but I like basketball best of all. Did you attend any of our games during the winter, Miss Post?"
"No," answered the senior. "I am not much interested in basketball. I really paid no attention to it this year, and haven't attended a game since I was a freshman. Speaking of basketball," continued Miss Post, "I picked up a paper last fall with a whole lot of basketball plays written on it. It was labeled 'Sophomore basketball signals,' and I turned it over to one of the girls in your class. She happened to be on the team, too, and seemed very glad to get it. I presume it was hers, although she didn't say so."
At the mention of the word signals, Grace pricked up her ears. As Miss Post innocently told of finding the list, Grace could hardly control herself. She wanted to get up and dance a jig on the green. She was about to learn the truth at last.
Trying to keep the excitement she felt out of her voice, Grace asked in a low tone, "Whom did you return it to, Miss Post?"
"Why, Miss Nesbit," was the answer. "I was inside the campus when I found it, and just then she passed me on the walk. I knew she was a sophomore, and thought it best to get rid of it, as I would probably have forgotten all about it, and it never would have been returned."
"Quite true," Grace replied, but she thought to herself that a great deal of unhappiness might have been avoided if Miss Post had only forgotten.
The talk drifted into other channels. Miss Post told Grace that she expected to sail for Europe as soon as school was over. In the fall she would return and enter Wellesley. She had crossed the ocean once before, and had done the continent. This time she intended to spend all of her time in Germany. Grace decided her new acquaintance to be a remarkably bright girl. At any other time she would have listened to her with absorbed interest, but try as she might, Grace could not focus her attention on what was being said. One thought was uppermost in her mind, that Miriam was the real culprit.
What was to be done about it? She would gain nothing by exposing Miriam to her classmates. There had been too much unpleasantness already. If there was only some way that Miriam could be brought to see the folly of her present course. Grace decided to tell Anne the news that night and ask her advice.
ANNE AND GRACE COMPARE NOTES
During the walk home from the links, Grace kept continually thinking, "I knew it was Miriam. She gave them to Julia." She replied rather absent-mindedly to Miss Post's comments, and left the older girl with the impression that Miss Harlowe was not as interesting as she had at first seemed.
Grace escaped from the supper table at the earliest opportunity, and seizing her hat, made for Anne's house as fast as her feet would take her. Anne opened the door for her.
"Oh, Anne, Anne! You never can guess what I know!" cried Grace, before she was fairly inside the house.
"Of course, I can't," replied Anne, "any more than you can guess what I know."
"Why, do you know something special, too?" demanded Grace.
"I do, indeed. But tell me your news first, and then I'll tell you mine," said Anne, pushing Grace into a chair.
"Mine's about Miriam," said Grace soberly.
"So is mine," was the reply, "and it's nothing creditable, either."
"Well," began Grace, "you know I went over to the golf links to-day with Ethel Post of the senior class."
"We were sitting on a bench resting after the game, and the subject of basketball came up. Before I knew it, she was telling me all about finding the list of signals you lost last fall. She gave them to one of our class, you can guess who."
"Miriam," said Anne.
"Yes, it was Miriam. I always suspected that she had more to do with it than anyone else. She gave Julia the signals, because she wanted to see me humiliated, and fastened suspicion on you to shield herself. She knew that I had boasted, openly, that my team would win. When Julia gave me the statement that cleared you in the eyes of the girls, she told me that she was under promise not to tell how she obtained the signals. But I'm sure she knew that I suspected Miriam. What do you think we ought to do about it?"
Grace looked anxiously at Anne.
"I don't know, yet," Anne replied. "Now listen to my news. I have felt ever since the game that your getting locked up was not accidental. I don't know why I felt so, but I did, nevertheless. So I set to work to find out if any one else had been around there that day. I went to the janitress and asked her if she had noticed any one in the corridors before halfpast one. That was about the time that people began to come, you know. She said she hadn't. She was down in the basement and didn't go near the upstairs classrooms until after two o'clock. But when she did go up there she found this."
Anne held up a curious scarab pin that Grace immediately recognized. It was one that Miriam Nesbit often wore, and was extremely fond of.
"It's Miriam's," gasped Grace. "I wonder why——" She stopped. The reason Miriam had not made her loss known was plain. She was afraid to tell where and when she had lost her pin.
"I see," said Grace slowly. "It looks pretty bad, doesn't it? But why didn't the janitress take it straight to Miss Thompson? That's what she usually does with articles she finds."
"She missed seeing Miss Thompson that Saturday," said Anne. "When I hunted her up early Monday morning, in order to question her, she asked me if I had lost a pin. She said she had just returned one to Miss Thompson, and told me where she found it. I asked her to describe the pin, and at once recognized it. Every girl in school knows that scarab of Miriam's. There is nothing like it in Oakdale.
"For a minute I didn't know what to do. Don't you remember when Miriam first had it? She showed it to Miss Thompson, and Miss Thompson spoke of how curious it was. I knew that Miss Thompson would not be apt to forget it. I hurried up to her office and found her with the pin in her hand. She had sent for Miriam, but the messenger came back with the report that Miriam wasn't in school. She laid the pin down and said, 'What is it, Anne?' So I just asked her if she would let me have the pin. Of course, she looked surprised, and asked me if I knew to whom it belonged. I told her I did. Then she looked at me very hard, and asked me to tell her exactly why I wanted it. But, of course, I couldn't tell her, so I didn't say anything. Then she said: 'Anne, I know without being told why you want this pin. I am going to give it to you, and let you settle a delicate matter in your own way. I am sure it will be the right one.'"
"Anne Pierson, you bad child!" exclaimed Grace. "To think that you've kept this to yourself ever since the game. Why didn't you tell me?"
"I wanted to think what to do about it, before telling even you," Anne replied. "Yesterday I had a long talk with David. He knows everything that Miriam has done since the beginning of the freshman year. He feels dreadfully about it all. I think you and I ought to go to her and tell her that we are willing to forget the past and be her friends."
"It would do no good," said Grace dubiously. "She would simply laugh at us. I used to have dreams about making Miriam see the evil of her ways, but I have come to the conclusion that they were dreams, and nothing more."
"Let's try, anyway," said Anne. "David says she seems sad and unhappy, and is more gentle than she has been for a long time."
"All right, we'll beard the lion in her den, the Nesbit on her soil, if you say so. But I expect to be routed with great slaughter," said Grace with a shudder. "When do we go forth on our mission of reform?"
"We'll call on her to-morrow after school," Anne replied, "and don't forget that you once made the remark that you thought Miriam had a better self. You told me the day you read Julia Crosby's statement to the girls that you wouldn't give her up."
"I suppose that I shall have to confess that I did say so," laughed Grace. "But that was before she locked me up. She is so proud and stubborn that she will probably take the olive branch we hold out and trample upon it. After all, it really isn't our place to hold out olive branches anyway. She is the one who ought to eat humble pie. I feel ashamed to think I have to tell her what I know about her."
"So do I," responded Anne. "It's horrid to have to go to people and tell them about their misdeeds. I wouldn't propose going now if it weren't for David. He seems to think that she would be willing to behave if some one showed her how."
"All right," said Grace, "we'll go, but if we encounter a human tornado don't say I didn't warn you."
"That's one reason I want to go to her house," replied Anne. "If we approach her at school she is liable to turn on us and make a scene, or else walk off with her nose in the air. If we can catch her at home perhaps she will be more amenable to reason. But, if, to-morrow, she refuses to melt and be forgiven, then I wash my hands of her forever."
A RESCUE AND A REFORM
It was with considerable trepidation that Anne and Grace approached the Nesbit gate the following afternoon.
"I feel my knees beginning to wobble," Grace observed, as they rang the bell. "This business of being a reformer has its drawbacks. How had we better begin?"
"I don't know, the inspiration to say the right thing will probably come, when we see her," said Anne.
"If she behaves in her usual manner, I shall have a strong inspiration, to give her a good shaking," said Grace bluntly.
To their relief, the maid who answered the bell informed them that Miriam had gone out for a walk.
"Do you know which way she went?" Grace asked.
"I think, miss, that she went toward Upton Wood. She often walks there," replied the maid.
The girls thanked her and started down the walk.
"Miriam ought never to walk, alone, in Upton Wood, especially this time of year," remarked Grace. "There are any amount of tramps lurking around. If David knew it he would be awfully provoked."
"Let's walk over that way, and perhaps we'll meet her," suggested Anne. "Now that we've started, I hate to turn back. If we don't see her to-day, we'll keep on putting it off and end up by not seeing her at all."
"That's true," Grace agreed.
The two girls strolled along in the direction of Upton Wood, thoroughly enjoying their walk. Occasionally, they stopped to gather a few wild flowers, or listen to the joyous trill of a bird. They were at the edge of the wood, when Grace suddenly put up her hand.
"Hush!" she said. "I hear voices."
Just then the cry Help! Help! rang out.
"That's Miriam's voice," cried Grace.
Glancing quickly about for a weapon, Grace picked up a good-sized stick she found on the ground, and ran in the direction of the sound, Anne at her heels.
Miriam was struggling desperately to free herself from the grasp of a rough, unkempt fellow who had her by the arm and was trying to abstract the little gold watch that she wore fastened to her shirtwaist with a chatelaine pin.
The tramp stood with his back to the approaching girls. Before he was aware of their presence, Grace brought her stick down on his head with all the force she had in her strong, young arms.
With a howl of pain he released Miriam, whirling on his assailant. Grace hit him again, the force of her second blow knocking him over.
Before the man could regain his feet the three girls were off through the wood. They ran without looking back until fairly out in the open field.
"I don't see him," panted Grace, halting to get her breath. "I guess he's gone."
Anne was pale and trembling. The run out of the woods had been almost too much for her. As for Miriam, she was sobbing quite hysterically.
"Don't cry, Miriam," soothed Grace, putting her arm around the frightened girl. "He can't hurt you now. I am so glad that we happened along. You ought never to go into Upton Wood alone, you know."
Miriam gradually gained control of herself. Wiping her eyes, she asked, "How did you ever happen to be out here just at the time I needed help?"
"To tell the truth, we were hunting for you," Grace replied. "Your maid said that you had gone toward Upton Wood. We walked on, expecting every minute to meet you. Then we heard you scream and that's all."
"It's not all," said Miriam quickly. "I know I have been a wretch. I have made things unpleasant for you two girls ever since we started in at High School. I made fun of Anne, and tried to make her lose the freshman prize. I sent her that doll a year ago last Christmas, knowing that it would hurt her feelings. But the things I did last year aren't half as bad as all I've done this year, I gave——"
"That's just what we came to see you about, Miriam," interrupted Grace. "We know that you gave the signals to Julia, and we know that you locked me in the classroom the day of the big game."
Miriam flushed with shame and her lip quivered.
Seeing her distress, Grace went on quickly:
"The janitress found your scarab pin just outside the door on the day of the game. Anne has it here for you."
Anne fumbled in her purse and drew out the pin.
"But how did you get it?" asked Miriam faintly, as she took the pin with evident reluctance.
"Miss Thompson gave it to me," Anne answered.
Miriam looked frightened. "Then she knows——"
"Nothing," said Grace softly. "As soon as Anne heard that Miss Thompson had your pin and knew where it had been found, she went right to the office and asked Miss Thompson to give it to her. Miss Thompson thought from the first that I had been the victim of a trick. Anne knew that the finding of your pin would make her suspect you. She had already sent for you when Anne reached the office. Luckily you weren't in school. Anne asked permission to return the pin to you. She wouldn't give any reason for asking. Finally Miss Thompson handed it to her, and told Anne she was sure she would do what was right."
"You owe a great deal to Anne, Miriam," Grace continued, "for if she had not gone to Miss Thompson I am afraid you would have been suspended from school. Miss Thompson would have had very little mercy upon you, for she knew about those examination papers last June."
Miriam looked so utterly miserable and ashamed at Grace's words, that Anne hastened to say:
"I would have given you your pin at once, Miriam, but you were away from school. Then David told me how unhappy you seemed. I hadn't said a word to any one about the pin until I told Grace. We decided to come and see you, and say that we were willing to 'let bygones be bygones' if you were. We thought it was right to let you know that we knew everything. There is only one other person who knows. That person is your brother."
"He knew I locked you up the day of the game," faltered Miriam, "The way he looked at me has haunted me ever since. He thinks me the most dishonorable girl in the world." She began to cry again.
Anne and Grace walked along silently beside the weeping girl. They thought it better to let her have her cry out. She really deserved to spend a brief season in the Valley of Humiliation.
They had now left the fields and were turning into one of the smaller streets of Oakdale.
"Miriam," said Grace, "try and brace up. We'll soon be on Main Street and you don't want people to see you cry, do you? Here," extracting a little book of rice powder paper from her bag, "rub this over your face and the marks of your tears won't show."
Miriam took the paper gratefully, and did as Grace bade her. Then she straightened up and gave a long sigh, "I feel like that man in Pilgrim's Progress, after he dropped his burden from his back," she said. "The mean things I did never bothered me until just lately. After I saw that my own brother had nothing but contempt for me, I began to realize what a wretch I was, and the remorse has been just awful."
It was David, after all, who had been instrumental in holding up the mirror so that his stubborn sister could see herself as others saw her. Although she had quarreled frequently with him, she had secretly respected his high standard of honor and fine principles. The fear that he despised her utterly had brought her face to face with herself at last.
"Anne has always wanted to be friends with you, Miriam," Grace said earnestly as they neared the Nesbit home. "You and I used to play together when we were little girls in the grammar school. It's only since we started High School that this quarreling has begun. Let's put it all aside and swear to be friends, tried and true, from now on? You can be a great power for good if you choose. We all ought to try to set up a high standard, for the sake of those who come after. Then Oakdale will have good reason to be proud of her High School girls."
They had reached the gate.
Miriam turned and stretched out a hand to each girl. There was a new light in her eyes. "My dear, dear friends," she said softly.
A shrill whistle broke in upon this little love feast and the three girls looked up. David was hurrying down the walk, his face aglow.
"I whistled to attract your attention. I was afraid you girls would go before I could reach you. Mother wants you girls to come in for dinner. She saw you from the window. Don't say you can't, for I'm going to call on the Piersons and Harlowes right now and inform them that their daughters are dining out to-night. So hurry along now, for mother's waiting for you."
A minute later he had mounted his motorcycle and was off down the street, going like the wind.
The girls entered the house and were warmly greeted by Mrs. Nesbit. She and David had viewed the little scene from the window. She had deeply deplored Miriam's attitude toward Grace and her chums. It was with delight that she and David had watched the three girls stop at the gate and clasp hands. She therefore hurried her son out to the girls to offer them her hospitality.
Anne had never before entered the Nesbit home. She thought it very beautiful and luxurious. Miriam put forth every effort to be agreeable, and the time passed so rapidly that they were surprised when dinner was announced.
After dinner, Miriam, who was really a brilliant performer for a girl of her age, played for them. Anne, who was a music-hungry little soul, listened like one entranced. David, seeing her absorption, beckoned to Grace, who stole softly out of the room without being observed.
Once out in the hall the two young people did a sort of wild dance to express their feelings.
"You are the best girl a fellow ever knew," said David in a whisper. "How did you do it?"
"I'll tell you some other time," whispered Grace, who had cautioned the girls to say nothing of the adventure for fear of frightening Miriam's mother. "Let's go back before they notice we're gone."
"Anne is too wrapped up in music to pay any attention to us. Come on up to my workshop. I want to show you something I'm working at in connection with my aeroplane. We can talk there, without being disturbed. I want to know what worked this transformation. It is really too good to be true. I've always wanted Miriam to be friends with Anne, but I had just about lost all hope."
Grace followed David up the stairs and through the hall to his workshop, which was situated at the back of the house.
"Now," said the young man, as he pushed forward a stool for his guest, "fire away."
Grace began with their call at the house, their walk in search of Miriam, and their adventure with the tramp, modestly making light of her own bravery. When she had finished, David held out his hand, his face glowing with appreciation "Grace," he said, "you've more spirit and courage than any girl I ever knew. You ought to have been a boy. You would have done great things."
Grace felt that this was the highest compliment David could pay her. She had always cherished a secret regret that she had been born a girl.
"Thank you, David," she said, blushing, then hastily changed the subject. "Tell me about your aeroplane. Is it still at the old Omnibus House?"
"Yes," David answered. "I had it here all winter, but I moved it out there again about a month ago."
"I should like to see it again," said Grace. "I didn't have time to look at it carefully the day you invited us out there."
"I'll take you over any time you want to go," said David. "Oh, better still, here's a duplicate key to the place. You can take the girls and go over there whenever you please, without waiting for me. You are the only person that I'd trust with this key, Grace," he added gravely. "I had it made in case old Jean or I should lose those we carry. I wouldn't even let the fellows have one, for fear they might go over there, get careless and do some damage."
"It's awfully good of you, David," Grace replied as she took the key. "I'll be careful not to lose it. I'll put it on my watch chain. It's such a small key it is not likely it will be noticed."
Grace took from her neck the long, silver chain from which her watch was suspended. She opened the clasp, slid the key on the chain and tucked both watch and key snugly into her belt.
"There," she said, patting it, "that can't get lost. My chain is very strong. I prefer a chain to a pin or fob, because either one is so easy to lose."
"That's sensible," commented David. "Girls wouldn't be eternally losing their watches if they weren't so vain about wearing those silly little chatelaine pins."
"Why, David Nesbit!" exclaimed Grace, glancing up at the mission clock on the wall. "It's almost nine o'clock! I had no idea it was so late. Let's go down at once."
They returned to the parlor to find Anne and Miriam deep in some foreign photographs that Miriam had collected during her trip to Europe the previous summer.
"How I should love to see Europe," sighed Anne. "I'm going there some day, though, if I live," she added with a sudden resolution.
"Mother and father have promised me a trip across as a graduation gift. Maybe you'll be able to go, too, by that time, Anne," said Grace hopefully.
"Perhaps I shall, but I'm afraid it's doubtful," said Anne, smiling a little.
"We've had a fine time, Miriam," said Grace, "but we really must go. Mother will worry if I stay any later."
"Please come again soon," said Miriam, kissing both girls affectionately. "I have a plan to talk over with you, but I can't say anything about it now. I must consult mother first. You'll like it, I'm sure."
"Of course we shall," responded Grace. "Good night, Miriam, and pleasant dreams."
"They are the nicest girls in Oakdale, and I shall try hard to be like them," thought Miriam, as she closed the door. "David is right. It certainly pays to be square."
GRACE MEETS A DISTINGUISHED CHARACTER
June had come, bringing with it the trials and tribulations of final examinations. The days grew long and sunny. Roses nodded from every bush, but the pupils of Oakdale's two High Schools were far too busy to think about the beauty of the weather. Golf, tennis, baseball and other outdoor sports were sternly put aside, and the usual season of "cramming" set in. Young faces wore an almost tragic expression, and back lessons were reviewed with desperate zeal.
Grace Harlowe had crammed as assiduously as the rest, for a day or two. She was particularly shaky on her geometry. She went over her theorems until she came to triangles, then she threw the book down in disgust. "What's the use of cramming?" she said to herself. "If I keep on I won't even be able to remember that 'the hypotenuse of a right-angled triangle is equal to the sum of the squares of the other two sides.' I'm in a muddle over these triangles now. I'll find the girls and get them to go to the woods with me. I really ought to collect a few more botany specimens."
Grace's specimens were a source of keen delight to her girlish heart. She didn't care so much about pressing and mounting them. It was the joy she experienced in being in the woods that, to her, made botany the most fascinating of studies. She poked into secluded spots unearthing rare specimens. Her collection was already overflowing; still she could never resist adding just a few more.
She was doomed to disappointment as far as Nora and Jessica were concerned. Both girls mournfully shook their heads when invited to specimen-hunting, declaring regretfully they were obliged to study. Anne was at Mrs. Gray's attending to the old lady's correspondence. This had been her regular task since the beginning of the freshman year, and she never failed to perform it.
"Oh, dear, I wish examinations and school were over," Grace sighed impatiently. "I can't go to the woods alone, and I can't get any one to go with me. I suppose I'll have to give it up and go home. No, I won't, either. I'll go as far as the old Omnibus House. There are lots of wild plants in the orchard surrounding it, and I may get some new specimens."
With her basket on her arm, Grace turned her steps in the direction of the old house. She had not been there since the day of their reunion. She smiled to herself as she recalled the absurdities of that occasion.
After traversing the orchard several times and finding nothing startling in the way of specimens, Grace concluded that she might as well have stayed at home.
She walked slowly over to the steps and sat down, placing the basket beside her. "How lonely it seems here to-day," she thought. "I wonder where old Jean is? I haven't seen him for an age." Then she fell to musing over the school year so nearly ended. Everything that had happened passed through her mind like a panorama. It had been a stormy year, full of quarrels and bickerings, but it was about to end gloriously. Anne and Miriam had become the best of friends, while she and Julia Crosby were daily finding out each other's good qualities There was nothing left to be desired.
Grace started from her dream and looked at her watch. It was after six o'clock. She had better be getting back.
She rose and reached for her basket.
Suddenly a figure loomed up before her. Grace started in surprise, to find herself facing a tall, thin man with wild, dark eyes. He stood with folded arms, regarding her fixedly.
"Why, where——" but she got no further, for the curious new-comer interrupted her.
"Ah, Josephine," he said, "so I have found you at last."
"My name isn't Josephine at all. It's Grace Harlowe, and you have made a mistake," said Grace, endeavoring to pass him. But he barred her way, saying sadly:
"What, do you, too, pretend? Do you think I do not know you? I, your royal husband, Napoleon Bonaparte."
"Good gracious," gasped Grace. "He's crazy as can be. How ever shall I get away from him?"
The man heard the word "crazy" and exclaimed angrily: "How dare you call me crazy! You, of all people, should know I am sane. I have just returned from Isle of St. Helena to claim my empire. For years I have been an exile, but now I am free, free." He waved his arms wildly.
"Yes, of course I know you, now," said Grace, thinking to mollify him. "How strange that I didn't recognize you before."
Then she remembered reading in the paper of the preceding night of the escape of a dangerous lunatic from the state asylum, that was situated a few miles from Oakdale. This must be the man. Grace decided that he answered the description the paper had given. She realized that she would have to be careful not to anger him. It would require strategy to get clear of him.
"It's time you remembered me," returned Napoleon Bonaparte, petulantly. "They told me that you had died years ago, but I knew better. Now that I have found you, we'd better start for France at once. Have you your court robes with you? And what have you done with your crown? You are dressed like a peasant." He was disdainfully eyeing her brown, linen gown.
In spite of her danger, Grace could scarcely repress a laugh. It all seemed so ludicrous. Then a sudden thought seized her.
"You see, I have nothing fit to travel in," she said. "Suppose you wait here for me while I go back to town and get my things? then I can appear properly at court."
"No you don't," said Napoleon promptly, a cunning expression stealing into his face. "If you go you'll never come back. I need your influence at the royal court, and I can't afford to lose you. I am about to conquer the world. I should have done it long ago, if those villains hadn't exiled me, and locked me up."
He walked back and forth, muttering to himself still keeping his eye on Grace for fear that she might escape.
"Oh, what shall I do?" thought the terrified girl. "Goodness knows what he'll think of next. He may keep me here until dark, and I shall die if I have to stay here until then, I must get away."
Grace knew that it would be sheer folly to try to run. Her captor would overtake her before she had gone six yards, not to mention the fit of rage her attempted flight would be likely to throw him into.
She anxiously scanned the neighboring fields in the hope of seeing old Jean, the hunter. He was usually not far away. But look as she might, she could discover no sign of him. There was only one thing in her favor. It would be light for some time yet. Being June, the darkness would not descend for two hours. She must escape, but how was she to do it!
She racked her brain for some means of deliverance, but received no inspiration. Again she drew out her watch. Then her eye rested for a second on the little key that hung on her watch chain. It was the key to the lean-to in which David kept his aeroplane. Like a flash the way was revealed to her. But would she be able to carry out the daring design that had sprung into her mind? She would try, at any rate. With an unconcern that she was far from feeling, Grace walked carelessly toward the door of the lean-to.
The demented man was beside her in a twinkling He clutched Grace by the arm with a force that made her catch her breath.
"What are you trying to do!" he exclaimed, glaring at her savagely. "Didn't I tell you that you couldn't go away!"
He held her at arm's length with one hand, and threateningly shook his finger at her.
"Remember, once and for all, that I am your emperor and must be obeyed. Disregard my commands and you shall pay the penalty with your life. What is the life of one like you to me, when I hold the fate of nations in my hands? Perhaps it would be better to put an end to you now. Women are ever given over to intriguing and deception. You might betray me to my enemies. Yet, I believed you loyal in the past. I——"
"Indeed I have always been loyal, my emperor," interrupted Grace eagerly. "How can you doubt me?"
Her situation was becoming more precarious with every minute. She must persuade this terrible individual that she was necessary to his plans, if she wished to get away with her life.
"I have your welfare constantly at heart," she continued. "Have you ever thought of flying to our beloved France? In the shed behind me is a strange ship that flies through the air. Its sails are like the wings of a bird, and it flies with the speed of the wind. It waits to carry us across the sea. It is called an aeroplane."
"I have heard of such things," said Napoleon. "When I was in exile, a fool who came to visit me showed me a picture of one. He told me it could fly like a bird, but he lied. I believe you are lying, too," he added, looking at her suspiciously.
"Let me prove to you that I am not," Grace answered, trying to appear calm, though ready to collapse under the terrible strain of the part she was being forced to play. "Do you see this key? It unlocks the door that leads to the flying ship. Would you not like to look at it?" she said coaxingly.
"Very well, but be quick about it I have already wasted too much time with you. I must be off before my enemies find me."
"You must release my arm, or I cannot unlock the door," Grace said.
"Oh, yes, you can," rejoined Napoleon, not relaxing his grip for an instant. "Do you think I am going to run any risk of losing you?"
As she turned the key he swung her to one side, and, opening the door, peered cautiously in. For a moment he stood like a statue staring in wonder at David's aeroplane, then with a loud cry that froze the blood in Grace's veins, he threw up his arms and rushed madly into the shed, shouting, "We shall fly, fly, fly!"
With a sob of terror Grace slammed the door and turned the key. She was not an instant too soon. Napoleon Bonaparte reached it with a bound and threw himself against it, uttering blood-curdling shrieks. The frightful sounds came to Grace's ears as she tore across the field in the direction of Oakdale. Terror lent wings to her feet. Every second was precious. She did not know how long the door would stand against the frantic assaults of the maniac.
She had reached the road, when, to her joy and relief, she beheld half a dozen men approaching. Stumbling blindly toward them, she panted out: "The crazy man—I—locked—him—in—the Omnibus House. Here—is—the key." She gave a long, shuddering sigh, and for the first time in her life sturdy Grace Harlowe fainted.
The men picked her up tenderly.
"Here, Hampton," said one of them, "take this child over to the nearest house. She is all in. By George, I wonder whether she has locked that lunatic up? Something has certainly upset her. We'd better get over there right away and see what we can find out."
The man addressed as Hampton picked Grace up as though she had been a baby and carried her to a house a little further up the road.
Meanwhile the men hurried on, arriving at the Omnibus House just as Napoleon succeeded in breaking down the door. Before he could elude them, he was seized by five pairs of stalwart arms. He fought like a tiger, making it difficult to bind him. This was finally accomplished though they were obliged to carry him, for he had to be tied up like a papoose to keep him from doing damage. He raved continually over the duplicity of Josephine, threatening dire vengeance when he should find her.
When Grace came to herself she looked about her in wonder. She was lying on a comfortable couch in a big, cheerful sitting room. A kindly faced woman was bathing her temples, while a young girl chafed her hands.
"Where am I?" said Grace feebly. "Did Napoleon get out?"
"Lie still and rest, my dear," said Mrs. Forrest, "Don't try to exert yourself."
Grace sat up and looked about her. "Oh, I know what happened. I fainted. How silly of me. I never did that in my life before. I had a terrible scare, but I'm all right now."
The man who had carried her to the house came forward.
"My name is Hampton, miss. I am a guard over at the asylum. Those other men you saw are employed there, too. We were looking for one of our people who escaped night before last. He nearly killed his keeper. He's the worst patient we have out there. Thinks he's Napoleon. Judging from your fright, I guess you must have met him. Did you really lock him in that old house?"
"Indeed I did," answered Grace, who was rapidly recovering from the effects of her fright. "He took me for the Empress Josephine." She related all that had happened, ending with the way she locked his emperorship in.
"Well, all I've got to say is that you're the pluckiest girl I ever came across," said the man admiringly, when Grace had finished.
But she shook her head.
"I never was so frightened in my life before. I shall never forget his screams."
It was after eight o'clock when Grace Harlowe arrived at her own door. The man Hampton had insisted on calling a carriage, so Grace rode home in state. As she neared the house she saw that the lawn and porch were full of people.
"What on earth is the matter!" she asked herself. As she alighted from the carriage her mother rushed forward and took her in her arms.
"My darling child," she sobbed. "What a narrow escape you have had. You must never, never wander off alone again."
"Why, mother, how did you know anything about it?"
"When you didn't come home to supper I felt worried, for you had not told me that you were invited anywhere. Then Nora came down to see you, and seemed surprised not to find you at home. She said you had gone on a specimen hunt after school. I became frightened and sent your father out at once to look for you. He met the keepers with that dreadful man," said Mrs. Harlowe, shuddering, "and they described you, telling him where you were and how they had met you. Your father went straight out to the Forrests. I suppose you just missed him."
Grace hugged her mother tenderly. "Don't worry, mother. I'm all right. What are all these people standing around for?"
"They came to see you, of course. The news is all over town. Everyone is devoured with curiosity to hear your story."
"It looks as though I had become a celebrity at last," laughed Grace.
She was obliged to tell the story of her adventure over and over again that night to her eager listeners. Her chums hung about her adoringly. Hippy, Reddy and David were fairly beside themselves.
"Oh, you lunatic snatcher," cried Hippy, throwing up his hat to express his feelings.
"You never dreamed that the little key you gave me would prove my salvation," said Grace to David, as her friends bade her good night. "It surely must have been fate."
Examinations had ceased to be bug-bears and kill joys to the young idea of Oakdale. The last paper had been looked over, and the anxious hearts of the majority of the High School pupils had been set at rest. In most cases there was general rejoicing over the results of the final test. Marks were compared and plans for the next year's course of study discussed.
The juniors were about to come into their own. When the present seniors had been handed their diplomas, and Miss Thompson and Mr. Cole had wished them god-speed, the present juniors would start on the home stretch that ended in commencement, and a vague awakening to the real duties of life.
The senior class stood for the time being in the limelight of public attention. It was the observed of all observers. Teas were given in honor of its various members, and bevies of young girls in dainty summer apparel brightened the streets of Oakdale, during the long sunny afternoons.
It was truly an eventful week. Grace Harlowe gave a tea in honor of Ethel Post, which was a marked social success. The two girls had become thoroughly well acquainted over their golf and had received great benefit from each other's society. Miss Post's calm philosophical view of life had a quieting effect on impulsive Grace, while Grace's energy and whole-hearted way of diving into things proved a stimulus to the older girl.
It was Tuesday afternoon and class day. High School girls in gala attire were seen hurrying up the broad walk leading to the main door of the school building.
It was the day of all days, to those about to graduate. Of course, receiving one's diploma was the most important feature, but class day lay nearest the heart.
The exercises were to be held in the gymnasium.
The junior and senior classes had brought in half the woods to beautify the big room, and Oakdale gardens had been ruthlessly forced to give up their wealth of bud and bloom in honor of the occasion.
It was customary for the seniors to invite the junior class, who always sat in a body at one side of the gymnasium; while the seniors sat on the opposite side. The rest of the space was given up to the families of the seniors and their friends. Lucky, indeed, were those who could obtain an invitation to this most characteristic of class functions.
The four girl chums had been among the fortunate recipients of invitations. A very pretty picture they made as they followed the usher, one of the junior class, to their seats.
Grace wore a gown of pale blue organdie that was a marvel of sheer daintiness. Jessica, a fetching little affair of white silk muslin sprinkled with tiny pink rosebuds; while Anne and Nora were resplendent in white lingerie gowns. Anne's frock was particularly beautiful and the girls had exclaimed with delight over it when they first caught sight of her.
It was a present from Mrs. Gray, Anne told them. She had fully expected to wear her little white muslin, but the latter had grown rather shabby and she felt ashamed of it. Then a boy appeared with a big box addressed to her. Wrapped in fold after fold of tissue paper lay the exquisite new gown. Pinned to one sleeve was a note from Mrs. Gray, asking her to accept the gift in memory of the other Anne—Mrs. Gray's young daughter—who had passed away years ago. There were tears in Anne's eyes as she told them about it, the girls agreeing with her that there was no one in the world quite so utterly dear as Mrs. Gray.
"I'm glad we're early," whispered Nora. "We can watch the classes come in. See, that place is for the juniors. It is roped off with their colors and the other side belongs to the seniors."
"How fine the gym. looks," remarked Anne. "They certainly must have worked hard to fix it up so beautifully."
"Julia Crosby is largely responsible for it," answered Grace. "She has the most original ideas about decorations and things. You know the juniors always decorate for the seniors. It's a sacred duty."
"Did you know that Julia was elected president of her class?" asked Jessica.
"Oh, yes," said Grace, "she told me about it the other day. Oh, girls, here they come! Doesn't Ethel Post look sweet? There's Julia at the head of her class."
"It is certainly great to be a graduate," sighed Nora.
"Speaking of graduation," said Grace, "did you know that David has put off his graduation for another year! He wished to finish school with Hippy and Reddy. They have planned to enter the same college. So our little crowd will be together for one more year."
"How nice of him," cried the girls.
"Yes, isn't it! I'll be awfully sorry when my turn comes," responded Grace. "I'm sure I shall never care for college as I do for this dear old school."
"You can't tell until you've tried it," said Nora wisely.
The two classes had now seated themselves, and an expectant hush fell upon those assembled. The first number on the program was a song by the senior glee club. This was followed by the salutatory address, given by a tall dignified senior. The class poem came next, and was received with enthusiasm. The other numbers followed in rapid succession, each being applauded to the echo. The class grinds were hailed with keen relish. Each girl solemnly rose to take her medicine in the form of mild ridicule over some past harmless folly.
The class prophecy provoked ripples of merriment from the audience.
Grace chuckled with glee at the idea of exclusive Ethel Post becoming the proprietor of a moving-picture show at Coney Island. The futures prophesied for the other members of the class were equally remarkable for their impossibility.
At last nothing remained but the senior charge and the junior reply. The president of the senior class rose, and facing the juniors poured forth her final words of advice and counsel. She likened them to a baby in swaddling clothes, and cautioned them to be careful about standing on their feet too early. It was the usual patronizing speech so necessary to class day.
Julia Crosby smiled a little as the senior exhorted her hearers to never forget the dignity of their station. She was thinking of the day she crashed into that young woman, in the corridor. The senior president had manifested the dignity of her station then.
Julia straightened her face and stepped forward to make her reply. She thanked the president for her solicitude and tender counsel. She humbly acknowledged that the juniors were helpless infants, entirely innocent of the wicked world. They realized that they needed proper nourishment and exercise. There was one consolation however, they were daily growing larger and wiser, and their lungs were strong. If all went well they hoped to be healthy, well-grown seniors, capable of giving sage advice to those who would follow them.
Grace's face was full of eager appreciation as she listened to Julia's clever speech. How greatly she had changed, and what a power she would be in her class during the senior year. Grace felt that her sophomore year, though dark in the beginning, was about to end in a blaze of glory.
Julia sat down amid demonstrations of approval. Then the first notes of "Auld Lang Syne" sounded on the piano, and the entire audience, led by the senior glee club, rose to their feet to join in that sweetest of old songs whose plaintive melody causes heart strings to tighten and eyes to fill.
The four chums silently joined hands as they sang, and mentally resolved that with them "auld acquaintance" should never "be forgot."
There was a second's pause after the song was done. Then clear on the air rose the senior class yell. That broke the spell. Those who had felt lumps rising in their throats at the music, laughed. A buzz of conversation began, and soon the graduates were surrounded by their families and friends.
The gymnasium gradually cleared. The seniors hurried off to their banquet on the lawn and one more class day glided off to find its place with those of the past.
"Wasn't it perfectly lovely?" sighed Jessica, as they made their way out.
"I think commencement week has even more thrills in it than Christmas," Nora replied. "Wait till we have our class day. You shall write the class poem, Anne, and Jessica the song."
"I speak for the class prophecy," said Grace.
"That leaves nothing for me but the grinds. But that job would be greatly to my taste," said Nora.
"What about the rest of the class?" inquired Anne, smiling at this monopoly of class honors. "Are we to carry off all the glory!"
"Without a doubt," Jessica answered. "After us there are no more."
"Be sure to come to my house for supper Thursday evening," said Grace. "We are to go to commencement together, you know. The boys are coming, too."
The chums parted with many expressions of satisfaction over the pleasant afternoon's entertainment.
Thursday evening found them impatiently awaiting the boys.
"I suppose they all stopped to fuss and prink," said Nora, as she peered through the vines that screened the porch. "Men are, truly, vainer than girls. There they come around the corner, now. I really believe Hippy is growing fatter. He looks awfully nice to-night, though," she hastily added.
Hippy had a friend in Nora.
"Did you know that Tom Gray is in town?" asked David, as he took his place beside Anne and Grace. The latter carried an immense bouquet of red roses to give to Ethel Post.
"Oh, how nice!" exclaimed Grace. "I suppose he'll be there to-night with dear Mrs. Gray."
"Yes, they are going," said David. "I don't believe Mrs. Gray has missed a commencement for the last twenty years."
"I wonder who'll get the freshman prize this year?" mused Grace. "I hope it goes to some girl who really needs it. I know one thing; there will be no claimant for the hundred dollar prize this year. Anne broke the record."
"Indeed she did," said David, looking fondly at Anne. "To be in company with Oakdale's star prize winner is a great honor."
"Oh, don't," said Anne who hated compliments.
"Very well, if you spurn the truth," replied David. "By the way, I have an invitation to deliver. Miriam wants all of you to come up to our house the minute the exercises are over to-night. Never mind if it is late. Commencement comes but once a year."
"De-lighted," chorused the chums.
"Hush," said Hippy. "Make no uproar. We are about to enter the sacred precincts of Assembly Hall. I feel that on account of my years of experience I must make myself responsible for the behavior of you children. Smother that giggle, Nora O'Malley," he commanded, looking at Nora with an expression of severity that set oddly on his fat, good-natured face.
This made the whole party laugh, and Hippy declared, disgustedly, that he considered them quite ignorant of the first principles of good behavior.
They were seated in the hall at last, and for the next two hours listened with serious attention to the essays and addresses of the graduates.
Grace had sent Ethel Post her roses as soon as she entered the hall, and had the pleasure of seeing them in her friend's hands.
The diplomas were presented, and the freshman prize given out. It was won by a shy-looking little girl with big, pleading, brown eyes. Grace watched her closely as she walked up to receive it and resolved to find out more about her.
"She looks as though she needed friends," was her mental comment.
Anne, too, felt drawn toward the slender little girl. She recalled her freshman commencement and her total collapse after the race had been won.
"I hope that little girl has friends as good and true as mine," she whispered to Grace.
"Don't you think she looks lonely?" Grace asked.
"She surely does," returned Anne. "Let's find out all about her."
"Done," Grace replied.
As soon as the exercises were over the young people hurried over to where Tom Gray and his aunt stood talking with friends.
"Well, well," sighed the old lady joyously, "here are all my own children. I am so glad to see you. I understand that I am too late with my invitation for an after gathering. Miriam has forestalled me," she added, placing her arm around Miriam, whose face glowed with pleasure at the caress.
"She has invited me, too, so I am not to complain. As many as there are room can ride in my carriage. The rest will have go in Tom's."
"Tom's?" was the cry, "When did he acquire a carriage?"
"Come and see it," was Tom's reply.
They all trooped out, Hippy leading the van.
"I wish to be the first to look upon the miracle," he cried.
"It's a peach," he shouted, as the others came up, and he was right.
"O Tom, isn't it great?" Grace exclaimed.
Directly in front of Mrs. Gray's carriage stood a handsome Packard car.
"Aunt Rose gave it to me, to-day," he explained, his face glowing. "It has been waiting a week for me. Come on, everybody, and we'll get up steam and fly to Nesbit's."
Of course every one wanted to ride in the new car. David and Anne decided, however, to go with Mrs. Gray, and with a honk! honk! the automobile was off.
The Nesbit home was ablaze with light. Mrs. Nesbit stood in the wide hall waiting to receive Miriam's guests.
"The first thing to do is to find food," declared David, leading the way to the dining room.
The whole party exclaimed with admiration at the tastefully decorated table. A huge favor pie in the shape of a deep red rose ornamented the center, the ribbons reaching to each one's place. There were pretty, hand-painted place cards, too, tied with red and gold, the sophomore colors.
Mrs. Gray occupied the place of honor at the head of the table. She was fairly overflowing with happiness and good cheer, as she beamed on first one and then another of her children.
The young people did ample justice to the delicious repast served them. The favor pie created much amusement, as the favors were chosen to suit the particular personality of each guest. After every one had finished eating, a season of toasts followed.
"Here's to dear Mrs. Gray," said David, raising his glass of fruit punch, "May she live to be one hundred years old, and grow younger every day. Drink her down."
Mrs. Gray proposed a toast to Mrs. Nesbit, which was drunk with enthusiasm. Presently every one had been toasted, then Miriam rose and begged permission to speak.
It was unanimously granted.
"I suppose you all think I invited you here to-night for the express purpose of having a good time," she said. "So I did. But now that you are here, I want to talk to you about a plan that I hope you will like. It rests with you whether or not it materializes. You know that we have a cottage at Lake George, although we do not always spend our summers there. But I want to go there this year, and you can make it possible for me to do so."
"We'll carry your luggage and put you on the train, if that will help you out any," volunteered Hippy.
Miriam laughed. "That isn't enough," she said. "I want every one of you to go, too, Now don't say a word until I'm through. Mother has given her consent to a house party, and will chaperon us. Don't one of you refuse, for I shall pay no attention to you. You simply must come. We are to start next Tuesday, and stay as long as we like. So you'll have to make your preparations in a hurry. We'll meet at the station next Tuesday morning at 9.30. That's all."
Then what a babble arose. Grace and Nora were in high glee over the proposed trip. They were sure of going. Anne was rather dubious at first, but Grace overruled her objections, and made fun of Jessica for saying she had promised to visit her aunt.
"Go and visit your aunt afterwards, Jessica. Remember, she is a secondary matter when compared to us," she said laughingly.
"I shall take my car," said Tom. "That will help things along."
"Mother has promised me one," remarked David, "so we'll have plenty of means of conveyance.
"How sorry I am that you can't go, too, Aunt Rose," exclaimed Tom regretfully.
"Nonsense," replied his aunt, "you don't want an old woman at your heels all the time. Besides, I must visit my brother in California this summer. I haven't seen him for several years."
"Let's drink to the success of the house party," cried Reddy, "and pledge ourselves to be on time next Tuesday morning. Drink her down."
When next we meet our Oakdale boys and girls, they will have returned to their books after a long happy summer. In "GRACE HARLOWE'S JUNIOR YEAR AT HIGH SCHOOL"; Or, "FAST FRIENDS IN THE SORORITIES," the girl chums will appear as members of a High School sorority. Here the reader will make the acquaintance of Eleanor Savell, a clever but exceedingly wilful girl, whose advent in Oakdale High School brings about a series of happenings that make the story one of absorbing interest. The doings of a rival sorority, organized by Eleanor, the contest for dramatic honors between Eleanor and Anne Pierson and the mischievous plot against the latter originated by the former and frustrated by Grace Harlowe, are among the features that will hold the attention and cement the reader's friendship for the girl chums.
* * * * *
HENRY ALTEMUS COMPANY'S
The Best and Least Expensive
Books for Real Boys and Girls
* * * * *
Really good and new stories for boys and girls are not plentiful. Many stories, too, are so highly improbable as to bring a grin of derision to the young reader's face before he has gone far. The name of ALTEMUS is a distinctive brand on the cover of a book, always ensuring the buyer of having a book that is up-to-date and fine throughout. No buyer of an ALTEMUS book is ever disappointed.
Many are the claims made as to the inexpensiveness of books. Go into any bookstore and ask for an Altemus book. Compare the price charged you for Altemus books with the price demanded for other juvenile books. You will at once discover that a given outlay of money will buy more of the ALTEMUS books than of those published by other houses.
Every dealer in books carries the ALTEMUS books.
* * * * *
Sold by all booksellers or sent postpaid on receipt of price
Henry Altemus Company
1326-1336 Vine Street, Philadelphia
* * * * *
The Motor Boat Club Series
By H. IRVING HANCOCK
The keynote of these books is manliness. The stories are wonderfully entertaining, and they are at the same time sound and wholesome. No boy will willingly lay down an unfinished book in this series.
1 THE MOTOR BOAT CLUB OF THE KENNEBEC; Or, The Secret of Smugglers' Island.
2 THE MOTOR BOAT CLUB AT NANTUCKET; Or, The Mystery of the Dunstan Heir.
3 THE MOTOR BOAT CLUB OFF LONG ISLAND; Or, A Daring Marine Game at Racing Speed.
4 THE MOTOR BOAT CLUB AND THE WIRELESS; Or, The Dot, Dash and Dare Cruise.
5 THE MOTOR BOAT CLUB IN FLORIDA; Or, Laying the Ghost of Alligator Swamp.
6 THE MOTOR BOAT CLUB AT THE GOLDEN GATE; Or, A Thrilling Capture in the Great Fog.
7 THE MOTOR BOAT CLUB ON THE GREAT LAKES; Or, The Flying Dutchman of the Big Fresh Water.
Cloth, Illustrated Price, per Volume, 50c.
* * * * *
The Range and Grange Hustlers
By FRANK GEE PATCHIN
Have you any idea of the excitements, the glories of life on great ranches in the West? Any bright boy will "devour" the books of this series, once he has made a start with the first volume.
1 THE RANGE AND GRANGE HUSTLERS ON THE RANCH; Or, The Boy Shepherds of the Great Divide.
2 THE RANGE AND GRANGE HUSTLERS' GREATEST ROUND-UP; Or, Pitting Their Wits Against a Packers' Combine.
3 THE RANGE AND GRANGE HUSTLERS ON THE PLAINS; Or, Following the Steam Plows Across the Prairie.
4 THE RANGE AND GRANGE HUSTLERS AT CHICAGO; Or, The Conspiracy of the Wheat Pit.
Cloth, Illustrated Price, per Volume, 50c.
* * * * *
Submarine Boys Series
By VICTOR G. DURHAM
These splendid books for boys and girls deal with life aboard submarine torpedo boats, and with the adventures of the young crew, and possess, in addition to the author's surpassing knack of story-telling, a great educational value for all young readers.
1 THE SUBMARINE BOYS ON DUTY; Or, Life on a Diving Torpedo Boat.
2 THE SUBMARINE BOYS' TRIAL TRIP; Or, "Making Good" as Young Experts.
3 THE SUBMARINE BOYS AND THE MIDDIES; Or, The Prize Detail at Annapolis.
4 THE SUBMARINE BOYS AND THE SPIES; Or, Dodging the Sharks of the Deep.
5 THE SUBMARINE BOYS' LIGHTNING CRUISE; Or, The Young Kings of the Deep.
6 THE SUBMARINE BOYS FOR THE FLAG; Or, Deeding Their Lives to Uncle Sam.
7 THE SUBMARINE BOYS AND THE SMUGGLERS; Or, Breaking Up the New Jersey Customs Frauds.
Cloth, Illustrated Price, per Volume, 50c.
* * * * *
The Square Dollar Boys Series
By H. IRVING HANCOCK
The reading boy will be a voter within a few years; these books are bound to make him think, and when he casts his vote he will do it more intelligently for having read these volumes.
1 THE SQUARE DOLLAR BOYS WAKE UP; Or, Fighting the Trolley Franchise Steal.
2 THE SQUARE DOLLAR BOYS SMASH THE RING; Or, In the Lists Against the Crooked Land Deal.
Cloth, Illustrated Price, per Volume, 50c.
* * * * *
The College Girls Series
By JESSIE GRAHAM FLOWER, A.M.
1 GRACE HARLOWE'S FIRST YEAR AT OVERTON COLLEGE.
2 GRACE HARLOWE'S SECOND YEAR AT OVERTON COLLEGE.
3 GRACE HARLOWE'S THIRD YEAR AT OVERTON COLLEGE.
4 GRACE HARLOWE'S FOURTH YEAR AT OVERTON COLLEGE.
5 GRACE HARLOWE'S RETURN TO OVERTON CAMPUS.
Cloth, Illustrated Price, per Volume, 50c.
* * * * *
Pony Rider Boys Series
By FRANK GEE PATCHIN
These tales may be aptly described as the best books for boys and girls.
1 THE PONY RIDER BOYS IN THE ROCKIES; Or, The Secret of the Lost Claim.—2 THE PONY RIDER BOYS IN TEXAS; Or, The Veiled Riddle of the Plains.—3 THE PONY RIDER BOYS IN MONTANA; Or, The Mystery of the Old Custer Trail.—4 THE PONY RIDER BOYS IN THE OZARKS; Or, The Secret of Ruby Mountain.—5 THE PONY RIDER BOYS IN THE ALKALI; Or, Finding a Key to the Desert Maze.—6 THE PONY RIDER BOYS IN NEW MEXICO; Or, The End of the Silver Trail.—7 THE PONY RIDER BOYS IN THE GRAND CANYON; Or, The Mystery of Bright Angel Gulch.