They were in the lavatory hastily fixing up for tea, almost late but thankful to be within the gates before the gong sounded. The adventures of that afternoon had been thrilling indeed, and a few of the girls shared with Jane the suspicions now settling upon the two freshmen, Shirley Duncan and Sarah Howland. Their presence at Dol Vin's shop, the sobbing heard behind doors, and that wild run of the girl who tried to get away from the place by actually scaling a back fence, and who was recognized as the demure little Sarah, all this furnished plenty of material for a mystery story.
But it was the innocent remark of the grateful messenger boy, that put the climax in at the very peak of interest.
"I know the right girl didn't sign the slip," he had told Jane and Judith, "because that black haired one has a queer name and she isn't Sarah Howland."
So the precious package was for little Sarah Howland. And it was being sent to her, care of Dol Vin. Also, and more important than either particular, the delivery of that message had landed Judith Stearns in court.
Was it any wonder ghosts had been crowded out of the day's or night's programme?
"Don't worry," calmly advised the heroic Judith. "What happened this afternoon is only an introduction. The real thriller is yet to come."
"When?" anticipated Velma.
"Oh, it threatens to be a serial. I may be able to give you a reel or two tonight after study hour."
"Come down to my room," begged Janet. "I have such a big couch and a whole raft may pile up on it."
"That's a good idea," agreed Jane as the last towel was tossed into its basket. "Besides, we haven't a thing to eat in our quarters and what's a good yarn without grub? Land sakes, hear the crockery! We'll miss the hash, I fear me," and only the restraining influence of Miss Fairlie in the lower hall saved a third rail flight via ballustrades.
Sweeping into the dining room Jane's eyes seemed attracted to a corner in freshmen's quarters. It might have been her excited imagination or pure incident, but she did look straight into the frightened blue eyes of little Sarah Howland.
For the fraction of a second there was something like a clash. Jane's look was one of indignant question while the other unmistakably showed fear. Then Shirley Duncan said something to Sarah and the connection was severed.
Hash may have been served or even real lamb chops, but no power of special dishes served to distract the students from their delicious excitement.
"What in the world are you watching that door for?" Jane asked Dozia, who seemed hypnotized by a brass door knob.
"Cops," replied Dozia cryptically. "I should hate to go out again tonight."
"That's a fork," Winifred Ayres prompted Judith as the latter pierced her pretty sherbet with a prong.
"I know," answered Judith, "but this mound is so pretty I don't want to spoil it at one gulp. A fork is daintier."
"And leakier," finished the critic.
Altogether the air was charged and surcharged with thrills, but it was Maud Leslie who broke the spell.
"Jane," she whispered as they passed out, "don't forget tonight at Lenox. The girls are depending on you."
"Tonight at Lenox, what for?" puzzled Jane.
"Ghosts," said Maud. Then Jane remembered she had promised to raid the ghosts at Lenox Hall and to bring to the frightened freshmen a whole company of braves with their resistless reinforcements. And she had not yet been able to do a single thing about it!
"We will all be finished with our work by 8:15, Judith," Dozia Dalton announced authoritatively, "then you may recite the adventure of a Wellington in Distress. I'll be prepared to take you down verbatim, in case your counsel should need the confession."
"Janet, please have plenty of cheese, crackers and a few nuts. I'm losing weight," implored Winifred.
"And Jane, will you be so good as to bring a few sample apples that came in that last parcel post from Montana?" suggested Ted Guthrie. "I missed things this afternoon but I don't intend to be overlooked this evening."
Jane clutched Judith's arm to disentangle her from the others.
"I have got to speak to you alone, Judy," she whispered. "It's about the noises and the ghosts. The babes are scared blue, threatening to desert the camp. Get outside the door and we can vanish for a few minutes before study hour." They waited at the foot of the stairs until Janet and Winifred ascended, then Judith nearly fell over Jane as they both tried to go through the door at once, but the escape was successful in spite of too much noise from the loose old brass knocker.
Instinctively the two chums turned from the broad stone steps into the left path that ran away from a brilliant arc light into Elm Shadows. Silently both girls exchanged confidences, for Jane's arm around Judith's waist was comprehensive, and each little hug told a story of its own.
"Dear heart!" breathed Judith. "I would just have died if you hadn't rescued me when you did. And I know the others—ran away."
"Judy, love," returned Jane, "they didn't know where you were, really. And those country officers have threatened us before, you know. I suppose they are a little bit jealous that we girls and not their boys, are scattered over the landscape with yells and other appropriate noises. Sit down" (they had reached a birch bench), "I must tell you about Lenox Hall."
"I know about the noises and I do believe they are really uncanny," said Judith, "but what can we do away over at this end of the campus?"
"Go over to the other end, of course," said straightforward Jane, "and I have promised to lay those ghosts tonight."
"Tonight!" sighed Judith, dropping her head on Jane's shoulder.
"Not you, of course. You shan't come," protested Jane. "I only wanted to plan things with you. A warm bed and a nice cup of malted milk will be about all for you this night, Judy dear." The head, as black as Judith's own in the shadows, tried to fold itself on a cheek if no closer, but the attempt scarcely felt comfortable, and Jane just blew a kiss into Judith's ear, then straightened up again.
"As if I would miss that!" murmured Judith. "I am dog-tired, Dinksy, but ghosts! Oh, boy! Lead me to 'em!" and the courage of youth defied that day's record for Judith Stearns.
"We must hurry; see the lights in the girls' rooms, and you know they are bound to slight work tonight. This is what I suppose we will have to do. A few of us—you, if you insist, Dozia and Winifred, and I will somehow get out after Miss Fairlie has made the rounds. I don't know how we'll do it, but we have got to try. Then over at Lenox we may hide in the shrubbery and wait for the ghosts. I am perfectly sure they will come along the path from the gate keeper's cottage. Either they are inside or permitted to enter, and it isn't likely that ordinary spooks come through such walls as ours."
"All right. I'll be there if I don't fall asleep over my trig. But I do think being arrested is awfully wearying—I could dream here in spite of the howling winds. Jane Allen, do you realize this is a cold, bleak, dreary night, and you are tempting ghosts to parade in- -bathing suits or nighties?"
"It is cold; take an end of my scarf and hurry in. May a kind thought prompt us how to elude the wary Fairlie. Take care you don't seem sociable when she taps. It would be fatal if she should enter for a 'cozy little chat.' She has done it, you know."
"Do I know it? Do you think I shall ever forget the cozy little chat she dropped in for, when my alcohol lamp thrust under the couch threatened to burn down the place? I have never been friendly with the inspector since."
Judith ceased speaking suddenly and Jane clutched her arm as voices were heard somewhere. Yes—two girls were leaving Headley Hall and now came close enough to Jane and Judith to send even their subdued voices ahead in the darkness.
"You're a baby," one said. "And you nearly spoiled it all this afternoon."
"I never thought it would be this way. I'm so sorry I—" said the second voice.
"Goodness sake, stop whimperin'. Aren't you satisfied? Hush, there's someone on the bench."
"Shirley and Sarah," whispered Jane in Judith's ear.
But the two figures on the path had turned, and were now lost in the darkness along the lonely hedged-in walk.
"Imagine!" said Judith indignantly. "Those two little freshmen away over here instead of being at their books!"
"And did you notice Shirley was blaming little Sarah for whimpering? I tell you, Judith, there is something queer about that Shirley. She has money yet she came in on a scholarship. Then, there was the registered package of jewelry that brought disaster upon you and the messenger boy, Tim. He said it was addressed to Sarah. She surely shows a woeful lack of luxury, yet someone was sending her jewelry."
"And Dol Vin was receiving their mail, including the box," Judith summed up.
"I am sure it was Sarah I heard sobbing in that back room," insisted Jane.
"There are the girls looking for us. We will have to plead headaches and need of fresh air, for you know I promised them the real story of my incarceration," sighed Judith, following Jane's lead toward the group of searchers who came down the path calling and whistling for Jane and Judith.
"Do tell it to them, they have been so splendid," pleaded Jane. "Besides, we have a night's work before us if we can escape on the ghost hunt, and a good yarn will do a lot to settle all our nerves. Remember, you are not to come unless you simply can't stay in bed, and if you remain in our building you may be able to allay suspicion when Fairlie comes snooping. 'Lo girls!" to the whistlers. "Here we are! Judy needed the air."
With an all star cast and such headliners as were scheduled for Jane and her constituents on that particular night, it was not easy to anticipate the outcome. If the ghosts would only do their part and appear on time!
A TWICE TOLD TALE
Judith tried to beg off on her story of the great adventure, but the girls were insistent. "Just tell us what happened when you got inside the Beauty Shop," begged Velma, who had secret dreams of C. O. D. dimples and longed to hear of such possibilities.
"It was like a screen comedy," replied Judith, who had been beautifully pillowed up and otherwise made comfortable on Janet's solo-couch. The audience was scattered around on cushions, on the floor, on chairs, and even on the one narrow window sill. Queening it from her pillows Judith looked quite Romanesque, with Jane perched on a cretonne pedestal above the divan's level, waving her riding crop regally. The pedestal really was a specially favored trunk of Jane's which had escaped storage quarters and served many useful and practical purposes, the present being one in point.
"You were saying," Jane reminded Judith, placing a firm hand on the heaving breast solemnly, "that the rush in was like a movie scene."
"I said comedy, dear; there's a difference. First, Dol opened the pigeon holed door, then Sarah Howland tumbled in howling—she was honestly very much frightened, next went Shirley Duncan. She seemed wild to get under cover. Then I tripped along—"
"Not scared or anything?" from Nettie.
"Not a bit scared but mad as fury," declared Judith, "for there was old Sour Sandy at my heels taking such long and such big steps I felt every next foot would crush me into the brand new door mat."
"Poor Judy," soothed Jane. "And no one to say thee nay!"
"Say me nix," moaned Judith. "I would have had thee say other things than that. But to the tale. Have you ever seen a mouse run from a cat and a dog after the cat and a boy after the dog? You know that famous picture, I see. Well, when the messenger boy got away somewhere about Dol's establishment, and Sarah went next, then went Shirley and, Little Me, followed by that giant Sour Sandy! Well, girls, I have to admit that for a few minutes I couldn't see a thing but Dol Vin's eyes. She had me hypnotized," and Judith paused to make sure of the dramatic impression.
"I can see her glare!" declared Jane. "Dol's eyes were made for nobler tasks than matching hair shades."
"And mixing flesh tints," contributed Dozia, who just then managed to purloin a sample of the fudge.
"Are you girls sure that keyhole is sealed and the door still impregnable?" demanded Judith the narrator, with a sweeping glance about the room.
Winifred Ayres dropped to the door sill and spread herself across it while Dozia moved her chair to the jam in order to plank her shoulders over the keyhole.
"Air tight," announced Jane, "and every girl here is pledged, Judy. You may proceed with absolute safety."
"The responsibility is yours, Jane, for we had an awful time for a brief interval under the doughty Dol's roof. Things flew—"
"Hair brushes and sponges?" prompted Janet, eager for sensation.
"Can't say as to the missiles," replied Judith, showing signs of relaxing into indifference, "but the way that black head yelled, and Sarah sobbed, and Shirley—I guess she shouted. I know her noise was next loudest to Sour Sandy's and that was some racket!"
"But what was it all about?" demanded Janet.
"About the precious box—jewelry or something valuable. When I saw the big boy take it from Tiny Tim and heard Tim yell, I knew there was mischief brewing if nothing worse, but I never expected to see Shirley Duncan jump into it. She aided and abetted the thief, for she caught that box on a fly and would have escaped if little Judy Stearns had not been right there Judy-on-the-spot."
"But why did old Sour Sandy lay hands on you?" asked Jane, somewhat bewildered by the maze into which Judith was leading her audience.
"Oh, there was such a perfectly wild time of it," replied Judith, "and of course Dol and Shirley had it all their own way—two to one, you know."
"But didn't—little Sarah try to help you?" pressed Jane.
"Little Sarah was having a fit out in the kitchen, and the black maid wanted to pour water over her, said she was in hysterics, only the word she used was somewhat impaired."
"What a perfectly rip-roaring time you must have had," commented Dozia, eyeing the fudge. "And I suppose you were taken in by Sour Sandy because you seemed easiest to convey to the Town Hall. Just like the old detective stories, arrest someone, anyone, and depend upon the evidence to do the rest."
"Yes, I was handiest, nearest the door and dry eyed. Besides, I kept kicking around on a jog trot all over the place because I could not make any other sort of noise. Honestly, girls, it was too funny for words!" and Judith doubled up in the pillows like a human jack- knife.
"I am suspicious, Judy Steams, that you tempted old Sour Sandy to do his worst; sort of defied him," suggested Jane, dragging a Columbia cushion from Judith's convulsed arms. "Did you really want to be arrested?"
"I did not!" shouted Judith, springing up straight and almost upsetting the entire scene. "It was Dol Vin who insisted that we Wellingtons were spoiling her business, interfering with her customers and—she said this—'now this creature actually tries to steal my parcels from a messenger boy!' Can you fancy that accusation on this poor head?"
"But you didn't have the box?" asked Janet.
"Certainly not. Dol knew that, but old Sandy didn't. I could easily have escaped when he ordered me to 'come along, girl,' but I knew to resist arrest might bring real trouble upon us, whereas now the whole thing is a farce, and whisper!" (she put her finger to her lips) "it must never be told of within this campus. News from the village rarely gets in here unless we bring it, and it would be a shame to worry prexy with that sort of thing. She would never understand it."
Applause, silent but visible, followed this. Heads were wagged, arms waved and even feet waggled in approval, but no unseemly sounds escaped the secret chamber.
"Never a word!" prompted Jane in a whisper with both hands uplifted.
"Never a word!" repeated the conclave in appropriate response.
"And that will be about all," finished Judith. "I am too tired to move but I can't allow you to carry me. No, don't, please" (no one had offered). "I'll just toddle along—it's lots better than keeping step with Sandy."
"But the treat," wailed Janet. "I have fudge and cheese sticks."
"Please deliver mine," drawled Judith. "I am unable to collect in person—I simply am—tired."
"And you should be," agreed Jane, glad that Judith had been wise enough to break up the party early. In fact Jane was not sure whether genuine fatigue or possible ghost hunts, had inspired the heroic Judy to leave that buzzing bevy of students. At any rate Janet counted out four squares of fudge and measured three ink wells of cheese tid-bits (the well was glass and only used for refreshments), all of which was folded in a paper napkin and handed to Jane.
"Sorry you must leave," murmured Janet, "but Judith has had a trying day. Come again and I'll treat you better."
"We had a perfectly lovely time," insisted Jane, "but I must put Judy to bed. She is apt to walk in her sleep when overtired. Come, dearie, toddle along. Good night, girls. Pleasant dreams," and those who were not too interested in the fudge and tid-bits responded appropriately.
"Oh," moaned Jane, when the two finally reached their own quarters, room 19, "wasn't that an ordeal?"
"Rather," replied Judith, kicking her shoes off. "How did I make out?"
"Wonderfully. You tied them all up in knots without leaving an end to follow. Neither clues nor climax—just a jumble of sounds, but thrilling for all that. I was so fearful they would ask more about the unfortunate Shirley but you veered them off beautifully. Now, Pally dear, tumble in, and I'll slip out and get Dozia. Lenox seems far away just now, and those babes are trembling while we dare to enjoy ourselves."
"Jane dear," interrupted Judith, "I do not believe you should risk going over there tonight. Really I am getting nervous of the whole thing."
"Just reaction," said Jane, her own eyes sparkling. "You have gone through enough today to give you nerves, and I want you to shut your eyes as soon as ever you can. After all I may just—do something else. Leave it to me and Dozia the Fearless. You know what a brave she can be in an emergency."
"And I know what a star you can be in a pinch. But Lenox at midnight—"
"Hush, dear, and let me put out your light. There, you will be asleep before the party winds up. There's the honor ring. Ten minutes more to all lights out. I love an honor system with a warning gong and an inspection. So complete."
Judith required little coaxing to enter dreamland, and when Jane heard Miss Fairlie's step in the hall, on that tripping little inspection tour, the light in room 19 was out.
Also, Jane under the coverlets was fully dressed for her ghost raid at Lenox Hall.
Miss Fairlie's step paused at the door! Jane tittered, but Judith breathed the regular tones of sleep.
For a moment it seemed the inspector would knock! She must want something!
Someone else came along the corridor and directly at that door they chose to whisper!
Jane felt her hour had come, but it was merely the fear of a troubled mind, for presently Miss Fairlie laughed lightly, and the pair journeyed on.
It was a full hour before the coast was safely clear for Jane's venture.
A WILD NIGHT OF IT
It was a beautiful night, with the Hunter's Moon set high and bright in its ocean of flickering stars, like nothing else than moon and stars in the same old blue canopy, brocaded and embossed with incorrigible little gray clouds, ducking in and out of lacy paths and shadowy skyscapes.
Beneath, on Wellington campus, the dormitories stood up like tiny cottages here and there, the more important building, Madison Hall, towering pompously over the smaller flock. It was in Madison that Jane and Judith as juniors were housed, while over in a west corner grouped about the big walled entrance was, among the lesser landmarks, Lenox, one of the first erected of the Wellington buildings; quaint, roomy and just now decidedly "spooky."
The scene was fascinating in its silence, for only the dimmest of path lights seemed alive over the big place, and not a breath of wind stirred the tenacious oak leaves or other rugged foliage, too sparse to be counted, now that winter had given warning and was on his ruthless way.
The two figures creeping along like some elfin prowlers were Jane and Dozia, and they made straight through that bold moonlight for Lenox Hall.
"Doesn't it seem silly?" Jane took time to remark. "The very idea of expecting trouble on such a night."
"It's all your doing, Lady Jane," Dozia retaliated, "and if I don't see a ghost after all this I'll never forgive you."
"There was no guarantee, Dozia. But I did promise to appease the fears of those youngsters. What time is it?"
"When I left my nice cozy room for this, it was twenty minutes to twelve. I believe you were on time at the fire escape, so I would say it is now about ten minutes of. Hold my hand, Jane. This may be thrilling but it's awfully weird."
"Don't you like it? Look at that moon, and all the sparklers!"
"But think of those hedges, ugh! I'm wobbly at the knees already, and we're not half way across. Never knew a campus could be so— oceanic. I shall be striking out with my arms presently, feet seem unable to carry all the responsibility," and the tall girl cuddled into Jane's cape as far as the garment would accommodate her.
"You are not really nervous, Dozia the Fearless," Jane rebuked. "Why, I'm just tingling with the spirit of adventure."
"You may, and the spirit of adventure is a lot more attractive than the spirits we're out gunning for. Do you expect to get off scot- free if you smash anything with that golf stick? What do you think Miss Rutledge will say?"
"I shan't bang unless there is nothing else to do, and then I'm sure I can explain. A Montana girl from a real ranch ought to have some credit for field work." Jane was twirling her capable brassie with rather a dangerous swing and the odd weapon now seemed formidable indeed.
"What's that?" exclaimed Dozia, as a shadow almost tripped them. "It's an animal I know but—"
"A frightened little rabbit," replied Jane. "They have a lovely time when the thoughtless girls are safe behind doors. But, Dozia, honestly I think I do see something else—bigger than—a rabbit!"
Both girls stopped suddenly and drew back in the shadow of a tall lilac bush. They were well across the campus and now, at the end of the path, near the gate and not far from Lenox Hall, something moved in and out of the moonlit way. It seemed to cross from the big stone wall and glide into the grove of magnolia.
Jane dropped Dozia's arm and stepped out to peer after the shadow. They were scarcely near enough to hear footfalls even had the padding of leaves and heavy grass not actually deadened that possibility.
"Lively ghost!" she whispered. "Let's head it off through the grove."
"But, Jane, it may be some dangerous prowler—"
"How could he get in here? Besides we are protected." She had the golf club firm in her right hand and seemed to depend on it to lay ghosts or prowlers. "Come on, Dozia. Of course that is not a bona fide ghost but it may be the noise maker."
Dozia followed Jane, although she did hang on to an end of the blue cape and pulled back whenever the darkness seemed too uncertain of penetration. The little thickets of ornamental evergreens suddenly loomed up into proportions of veritable forests, and every baby Christmas tree was swelled out like a circular blue fir, thick and prickly.
But Jane headed straight as the foliage allowed, across the campus to the magnolia grove, where the eucalyptus trees shot up bare and leafless, ghostly, spectral in the searching moonlight.
A crisp snapping of some dry brambles sent out an alarm from the hedges close to Lenox Hall and the girls listened anxiously.
"Human," whispered Jane, "and rather dainty. Hardly a masculine foot to that light touch. Don't be alarmed, Dozia. We are two to one and evidently that other one is a female." She said this with assumed confidence, for she feared Dozia might turn and run at any moment.
They were almost in the little grove and it was between there and the boxwood that touched the side porch of Lenox that this hidden thing must be. Jane was by no means as brave as her carefree manner indicated, and every time she held a bush from brushing Dozia's face she took occasion to listen intently for vagrant noises.
Stumbling over low underbrush in their rubber soled tennis shoes was not like walking out in the open, and just as Dozia breathed a sigh of relief that the landscape gardening went no further, a wild scream, shrill and piercing, cut the night like an arrow!
Speechless, the girls stood terrified, while the wail seemed to linger suspended somewhere!
"Oh, what was it?" gasped Dozia, but Jane clung to her arm in silence.
The next instant a clanging of chains and rattling of metals broke out from Lenox Hall.
"Quick," exclaimed Jane, almost dragging her companion forward, "we must locate it, we must reach the dormitory!" But before they could even gain the pathway, the big fire bell pealed out its alarm and; suddenly every window in Lenox Hall blazed with light at a single flash—the answer of that electric button pressed by the matron, who now swung open the big oaken door and stood summoning her frightened charges to "come out" in the order of fire drill.
"Don't hurry, be calm!" she called out in the voice of authority, and by now the freshmen who lined the halls and stairways, had recovered their composure and even courage in the face of rescue.
Jane and Dozia rushed up to Miss Gifford, the matron, and asked about the outside alarm. At her word Jane jumped to the fire box, smashed the glass with her golf club and then turned the key.
By this time the students were outside the building, and in their night robes the seventy-five freshmen shivered from fear and exposure, while Miss Gifford, Jane and Dozia tried to reassure them.
"Where's the fire?" asked Jane, as the local brigade of volunteer citizens dashed in the grounds through the main gateway.
"Where is it?" demanded Miss Gifford of the students. There was no smoke, no blaze, not even an odor of things burning could be distinguished.
"It must have been in the big attic," someone said, "for it was the old brass bell that rang first."
"Who gave the alarm?" demanded the matron.
No one answered this, and the momentary pause was broken now by the wild rush of the fire department along the roadway.
First the hose cart, the "hook and ladder" jerked up to the porch where the girls waited, breathless but calmer now that men and means had come to their rescue.
"One side! One side!" shouted the chief, and to the credit of that department it must be said his men stretched their line of hose along from the hydrant and up those steps, even through the crowd of trembling students, in regular fire drill time. Jane stepped inside the hall and was sniffing audibly.
"Wait a minute!" she commanded. "We haven't located the fire yet and it may not be very much. The house is equipped with extinguishers," she informed the alert chief. "They may answer without water."
The rubber coated men held their hose high and were ready to shout in signal to the man at the hydrant, while Jane took the chief upstairs. He never spoke but tramped ahead as if a word would imperil the dignity of the Wide Awake Hose Company. Neither did Jane venture further remarks for she was "gunning" for the fire and thinking of ghosts!
Doors to right and left were promptly pushed open but no evidence of fire could be found.
"Try the attic," said the chief finally, "rubbish might catch from a flue."
At his order Jane turned into the narrow box stairway, lighted only by a flash in the hands of Chief Murry.
The actual panic of that yell and its subsequent fire alarm was now subsiding in Jane's mind, and instead of Fire the whole situation assumed an aspect of Ghosts. In spite of her courage she was very glad the chief was at her heels, and when she finally reached the last narrow step and stood under the rafters, Jane Allen sent a sweeping eye over that dark attic.
"Not here!" declared the fireman before she could see more than the inky blackness of the old garret, with only that one spot of moonlight pasted on the slanting roof by an invisible window.
As he turned Jane felt obliged to follow, although she would have been glad to go further in and see what it was that moved over by the patch of moonlight. Something did move—she was sure of that, but a fireman and a chief could not be asked to investigate anything but smoke or flame, and neither element was discernible, so she followed down the box stairway to confront the waiting brigade.
"Who pulled that box?" demanded Chief Murry, angrily.
"I did," replied Jane. "But the alarm came from within and the students were out before I did so."
"Well, there's no fire here!" he announced witheringly. "And you young 'uns better get indoors. Been in all the sheds and corners, Ben?" to his assistant.
"Every inch, and there being no kitchen here, 'tain't likely a fire would be tucked away in a closet, though we looked thoroughly. Queer how the thing happened."
Miss Gifford was now trying to march her charges back, but a good sized contingent refused flatly to comply with her orders. They answered her quietly but firmly.
"They would never sleep another night in Lenox Hall. If it wasn't haunted it was surely queer."
With the courage of juniors Jane and Dozia attempted to laugh the whole thing off, but the freshmen were determined.
"How did YOU get over here?" suddenly demanded little Nellie Saunders of Dozia. '"I thought it was a rule to stay in your own dorm when a first alarm fire gong sounded in another building?"
"'We were visiting," replied Jane so quickly Nellie thought the reply meant something, and was too absorbed in the crisis of the situation to further press her question.
"But you children will be ill!" wailed Miss Gifford helplessly. "You simply must come indoors."
"Come into the recreation room," insisted Jane. "We won't ask you to go back upstairs yet."
"We just wouldn't go," declared Daisy Blaire. "If I can't sleep in another cottage I shall telegraph mamma to come and take me home this very night or day, whichever it is."
This resolve met with hearty approval, for it was seconded from many quarters until open revolt or general mutiny seemed imminent.
The firemen were driving out with the jog trot of a false alarm, and ghosts or no ghosts, Jane, Dozia and Miss Gifford, each and all realized that those frightened children must be persuaded to go indoors. Their bare feet alone made the matter imperative, if bath robes did somewhat lessen the danger from a cold night's exposure.
The sudden tingling of the telephone shot another bolt of terror through them.
"There, that's the hall," said Miss Gifford. "At least make it possible for me to report you are all safe in Lenox."
Jane and Dozia wound arms around a few leaders and this with the matron's appeal firmly broke their deadlock and a thin stream of frowzy heads and pretty boudoir robes dripped into the old walnut hall.
Miss Gifford used the telephone at the foot of the circular staircase. She was giving a very tactfully worded account of the incident to the president, and it was very evident the whole occurrence would be conspiciously free of sensation if the matron's verbal report were embodied in official records.
A long drawn out and happily intoned reply floated from Miss Gifford's lips as she half turned from the telephone and surveyed Jane and Dozia.
"Oh, yes indeed, they are both here, perfectly safe," she announced, "and I don't know what I should have done without their assistance."
So the raiders had been "found missing" at Madison Hall!
There was another panic over in Madison," explained Miss Gifford, after leaving the telephone; "when Miss Allen and Miss Dalton were found missing it is a wonder someone over there didn't send out a second fire alarm. Miss Fairlie was much relieved to know her charges were safe and sound here, and I obtained a leave of absence for you for the remainder of the night," she finished. The very much perturbed matron had no idea of being left alone with a flock of obstreperous freshmen.
"Lovely!" exclaimed Jane, dancing around with a group of barefoot girls who threatened to turn the occasion into a Greek playlet.
"Scrumbunctious!" sang out the ballet de chambre, dancing in wild glee now that danger of ghosts and firemen had actually passed.
"But girls," spoke Dozia, "did you notice the little fat fireman who held that big hose nozzle? I do verily believe he was so disappointed he wanted to hit someone. Just see where his old hose scraped my best silken hose. I don't mean that for a parody, but honestly, girls, these were the last and final gift from mater. She has condemned me to wear ordinary lisle hereafter, and just look at that—stock!"
"Only dry dust, it will brush off," soothed Jane. "But I say, girls, how about beds!"
"Beds!" shrieked a chorus.
"Not a bed!" spoke Nellie Saunders for her entire class. "We wouldn't mind cuddling up here on blankets and cushions, but I for one shall not mount those spooky stairs, this night."
"Silly child," scolded Dozia, her own eyes heavy with the ordinary common garden variety of sleep. "Would you expect company to do all the lugging? Who's to set up the billet?" "Volunteers?" called Jane, and from somewhere not before observed stepped out little Sarah Rowland.
"I shall be glad to help," she said timidly, and instantly a volley of eyes challenged her.
"Oh, Sally!" exclaimed Dolly Lloyd. "Don't you dare! The spooks would just eat you up. You look exactly like a cream puff."
Laughter of the most chummy sort followed this, and it was evident Sally, in her cream and white striped robe with her yellow hair flowing over her shoulders, was a popular girl with her companions.
Jane noticed, however, that her face, usually prettily flushed with pink, was now deadly white, and also that the child's eyes shifted in a peculiarly nervous manner.
"It's lovely of you, Sally, and we'll just set a good example while Miss Gifford is searching for that miscreant fire. Come along and get the swaddling clothes for these babes. Aren't they an unruly lot?" and she tossed off her blue cape preparatory for the lugging of couch quilts, pillows and whatever else might seem useful.
Sally tripped up the stairs and Jane was after her.
"Do they really mean to sleep in the recreation room?" asked the freshman, waiting at a landing for Jane.
"Land knows," replied Jane, "but I thought we had best humor them at least past the pneumonia point. I am thankful they did not all break away over the campus to some other building. We will probably shame them into going back to bed when they see how much trouble they are giving. Where might we find the bed clothes storeroom?"
"Just here to your left. But wait until I switch that light." She reached a button and gave the side light its current. Then she stepped back to Jane.
"Miss Allen," she began in more subdued voice, "I just wanted to tell you it was I who rang—the fire bell!"
"Oh, did you?" said Jane lightly, following the hushed tone of voice, "but where did you think the fire was?"
"I knew there was no fire," she confessed, "but I had to do it to cover those other noises."
Jane was mystified, but she realized by Sarah's manner that a complete explanation was not possible just then. Here and there a step or a voice threatened the snatched confidence.
"Did you hear that scream?" whispered Jane.
"Yes, and I—had my room changed to over at the foot of the attic stairs just yesterday, but—but—oh, Miss Allen, it is too dreadful!" she gasped, dropping into a window seat and bursting into tears.
"Don't, dear! Don't, Sally!" begged Jane. "You are all unnerved. Tomorrow you can tell me your fears, if you wish," Jane qualified. "But now let us get back to the girls. They will think something dreadful HAS happened to us."
"But I can't tell you, Miss Allen. If I did I should have to leave dear old Wellington and this—opportunity means so much to me," and again she sobbed convulsively, while Jane put an affectionate arm around the little stranger.
Clapping of hands and calling out foolish warnings from below checked Jane's flow of sympathy, and presently she stumbled back to the recreation room propelling a mountain of blankets and comfortables.
"There. Just see what you have done," she charged the students who were instantly struggling for the blankets to the extent of practically disrobing the accommodating Jane. "Leave me my blouse, please do. It's the only real Jersey I possess. But aren't you ashamed to treat juniors this way?"
"Dreadfully!" drawled a girl already rolled like a cocoon in a pretty blue "wooley" and coiling up on a rug in the farthest corner. "Jane Alien, you're a perfect lamb, and I hope you'll stay with us forever."
"I am sure I have a congestive chill," chattered a fraud of a girl who almost upset Jane in the blanket rush. "Give me the pink one. It's my color," and another tug freed "the pink one" from its company of neatly folded coverlets.
"It is a shame," confessed someone else. "Come on upstairs, girls. Let's defy the ghosts. I have always heard they shun a crowd. Where's the crowd? Let's make them shun us."
"Second the motion and hurrah!" added Nellie Saunders. "Also we should put a price on that ghost's head—offer a reward for the capture. I'm willing to chip in, although as usual I'm a little short this week."
Dozia had been going over the house with Miss Gifford and just then both returned to the recreation room.
"Does anyone know where Miss Duncan is—Miss Shirley Duncan?" asked the matron, keeping her pencil at that name on her report pad.
Jane started involuntarily at the question. She had been secretly wondering where the rebellious Shirley was during all the excitement.
"Oh, yes," spoke up Margie Winters. "She is outside visiting with her folks. She told me this afternoon she had obtained permission."
"Not from me," declared Miss Gifford. Then as if fearing complications she added more tactfully, "But of course I might not have been within reach and someone else may have given permission. Will you just step in here, dear?" to Margie. "I want to note what you say of Miss Duncan's absence," and while the reclaimed mutineers were being actually driven up the stairs by Jane, Dozia and the braver element, Miss Gifford was obtaining what clue she might as to Shirley Duncan's whereabouts.
Herded successfully to second floor the visiting juniors set about distributing their charges into beds—any beds in any rooms but "under covers" was the order.
"I can just about picture the parade trooping into the infirmary tomorrow," said Dozia. "Here, Betty, this solo cot for yours. It is just your cute little size. And those tosies," with a playful thrust at a pair of shivering feet, "I think nervous freshies should wear slippers about their necks at night—like we used to have our mittens on a tape, you know. There," finished the querulous Dozia. "You would have to roll down stairs if another alarm sounded. You're a perfectly sealed packet." Just the tip of Betty's head stuck out of the package.
Somehow all were finally settled and it was Sally—Sarah Howland, who came to the rescue of the visitors.
"But you must rest," she insisted, only a tell-tale pink rim around her blue eyes betraying the hysterical collapse she had so lately experienced.
"We are not the least bit afraid," declared Dozia. "In fact, we are rather anxious to meet said spook. Which room might be one in proximity? Where does the big noise seem to come from?"
"No more shows tonight, Dozia," spoke Jane before Sally could answer. "How much do you want for your money? Isn't a fire and a volunteer fireman's comedy enough?"
"But I am dreadfully keen on spooks," she was pinching Jane's arm cruelly, "and I thought it was—something weird that set off the original alarm."
Sally winced. "Here is a nice big bed," she told them nervously, pushing back a door and disclosing a tranquil untrammelled room, all neat and orderly as if nothing unusual had happened in old Lenox. "We call it the guest room but rarely have company to occupy it. I am sure Miss Gifford will want you two juniors to make yourselves at home in it," finished Sally with a quaver. She could not entirely hide the fact of her anxiety to get Jane and Dozia behind a closed door. Jane might have understood but Dozia was perplexed.
"It's a lovely room," faltered Dozia, "but I feel more like camping out. What time is it, anyhow?"
"About two-thirty A. M.," said Jane, "and since the youngsters are safely tucked in, I believe we should take Sally's advice. This is quite sumptious," folding down the extra white shams and coverlet. "Rather a pity to spoil it for such a sliver of sleep."
Miss Gifford was at the door when Sally glided off. "I am so glad you girls are getting to bed," she commended. "What a night we have had? And what a mercy you happened to be within call? I'm sure I don't know how you got here but I am not worrying about the details. Sufficient unto the day is the evil, etc., and"—with a readjustment of her glasses and a closer fold into the soft night shawl—"this condition is dreadful. I have tried to fathom the mystery without troubling the office, but I know now I should have reported it before." (She referred to the nocturnal disturbances, of course.) "Don't fear any further alarm, midnight is always the chosen hour."
"Yes," blurted Dozia, "we know about it, Miss Gifford, and my friend Jane inveigled me into this midnight raid. That is really how we got over here, but I can't say we have to report progress—'stampede' would be more accurate."
"But this is only one night," Jane insisted, "and our fire brigade spoiled every possibility of investigation. But, Miss Gifford, since we have undertaken the task, I should like to propose that you give us an opportunity to try our skill at it. Suppose" (Jane had in mind the tearful face of little Sally) "you give us one more night before you turn the alarm in to Miss Rutledge? I am sure we can control your girls and get them to agree to our plan. In spite of everything, you know, they just adore the fun and sensation of it all."
"Well," faltered Miss Gifford, weakening, "of course I could not risk a repetition of this night's experience; at the same time I do like to keep my records free from appeals to headquarters. It is so much more efficient to manage each cottage independently, subject to a general system. Well, go to bed children and thank you for your moral and physical support. We shall discuss future plans on the morrow," she said sweetly. Truth to tell Miss Agnes Gifford was a very sweet girl—woman, and at the moment both Jane and Dozia fell loyally under the spell of her charms.
"Say, Dinks!" whispered Dozia from her side of the big double bed, "what do you think Judy will say to all this?"
"Judy had her own fun and shouldn't complain. Wasn't she all nicely arrested and tried at a regular police court? What's a spook and a fire to that!"
But Jane knew better. That night at Lenox was a "thriller" indeed, and Judith Stearns might well envy her chums its experiences.
Then while Dozia slept Jane wondered.
What did little Sally Howland mean about taking a room at the attic stairs? And how was that charming little thing implicated with the ghost of Lenox Hall?
The plot was thickening. Sally did not in any way answer to the deceitful type, but some mysterious force seemed to overshadow her.
"Pretty little thing, with such appealing eyes and so honest—"
PLEADING FOR TIME
It's a very large order, Jane, but you're the merchant. How on earth do you expect to obtain permission to stay at Lenox without giving the whole thing away?"
"I haven't an idea, but depend on old friend Circumstances to bob something up. It is wonderful how very simple it is to flim-flam a philosopher. They never seem to suspect intrigue and walk right into the trap. I've tried it before with Rutledge! she's a lamb if you watch your ba-as."
It was "the morning after" and that trite phrase surely fitted the occasion. Jane had dragged Dozia from her dreams in spite of threats and defiance, and now both juniors were on their way back to the dining hall at Madison.
"Rather different from the last tramp we took over this prairie," said Jane, "but as a thriller you can't beat midnight moonlight."
"Not that I'd care to," Dozia answered witheringly. "I can't see that the adventure 'got us anywhere' as brother Tom would say. I haven't any brother, you know, Jane dear, but it always sounds better to blame one's slang on him, don't you think?"
"I'm positive," said Jane, "but I have a trick of blaming mine on Judy. Wonder will she sleep all day because I, the faithful alarm clock, did not go off at her ear. There's the bell! I'm not very hungry. As an appetiser I think a night such as the last rather a flivver."
"Isn't it? I have that widely advertised gone feeling myself. Here's a chance to duck in without being noticed."
"We were out for early exercise," prompted Jane significantly, "and don't be too intelligent about that fire when they ask."
"'Deef' and dumb," quibbled Dozia. "Thank you for the party, Jane. I had a lov-el-ly time."
"Don't mention it," whispered Jane, as the line of students swallowed the two adventurers.
But the day was "fraught with questions," as Judith Stearns put it, deploring her own inability to obtain any "intelligent account of the whole performance." It became known early that the two juniors who had been searched for during the night, were not others than Jane and Dozia, but even a veritable grilling at the hands of a picked corps of sophs brought nothing more definite from the wayfarers than "they were over visiting Lenox and the 'fire' was a false alarm."
"And of course we couldn't put our heads out, for fear of panic," grumbled Nettie Brocton.
The day passed somehow, and it was conspicuous by an entire absence of freshmen from the usual intermingling between periods. Even to Jane the reason for this was not clear until, in a burst of confidence with Judith, she outlined her plan of staying over at Lenox "until the ghost business was disposed of."
"Oh, I know," she explained while Judith pondered. "Miss Gifford is keeping them home to prevent them gabbing. That's darling of her. She wants to give me—the newly discovered spook sleuth—a decent chance. Are you coming over with me tonight, Judy?"
"Cables couldn't hold me back. Dinksy, you bribed me into staying home last night but I'll never again 'list' to your blarney. But it wasn't goblins I believe; however, we'll decide that when we trap 'em. Your benign influence has worked well thus far. I promised to help a freshie with some Latin prose and she never came to collect. Now I suppose I have to spoil my pretty hands with basket ball. Don't you wonder how it was we used to love that unladylike game?" Judith assumed a most sedate attitude, but did not succeed in hiding a forlorn rent in her skirt even with a very broad palm plastered over it.
"'Ye strangers on my native sill tread lightly for I love it still,'" quoted Jane. "Seems to me you take about as much pleasure in the big game as you ever did, Judy. But let's away! We need it. I'm all stiffened up with—"
"Your night of terror," finished Judith. "I don't wonder. Anyone might be sore and achey from running that Bingham Fire Brigade. I would love to have seen Dozia at the spigot," and Judith went through some fire antics. "Come along, Jane; we'll give the recruits a try-out," she decided the next moment, "but don't ask me to put them through the paces again tomorrow, for that's to be an afternoon off, if I can arrange it."
"Oh," said Jane tritely.
"Yes, oh," repeated Judith most impressively and with a grimace that supplied more than mere punctuation.
Jane laughed and pushed the big girl ahead of her with sudden playful force.
"Choo-choo! the fire is out and we're going home," she laughed. "This is just about the speed of the little red hose cart."
"Wait a minute!" called Judith, halting so suddenly she almost threw Jane. "I would rather be the driver if you don't mind."
"Young ladies!" protested one of the faculty, Miss Roberts, she who taught English and looked the part. "Is not that rather boisterous for indoor play?"
The culprits choked an appropriate reply and resumed the usual "indoor" behavior.
"One thing I hate knowledge for," remarked Jane, "it makes one so inhuman."
"Yes, doesn't it? We may break our precious necks in the gym and be buried with military honors but we 'dassent' skin a shin anywhere else. System, of course," witheringly from Dozia.
"Quick!" exclaimed Jane. "There are Nettie and Janet heading this way. They'll want me to tell the whole of last night's experience over again. Let's get at practice and preclude the recitation. I feel like singing the story to the tune of the 'Night Before Christmas,' it's getting so monotonous." "You have no appreciation for thrills, Jane Alien," eluded Judith. "That yarn will stand telling for months to come. I've noticed your variations, however, and can see the effort wearies you. But say, Dinksy, tonight is the night and Lenox is the place. After that, if you like, I'll take up the thread of your famous ghost story, and you may refer all inquiries to me." The last word of this peroration was all but lost on stone walls, for the oncoming horde seized Jane and, exactly as she feared, demanded further details of the big night.
"And did you really see a ghost?" begged Winifred Ayres with a perfectly flagrant relish of the sordid details.
"Packs of 'em," evaded Jane.
"Safety in numbers," remarked Nettie Brocton. "That's my mother's argument for large gatherings. All right, Jane, we'll let you off, but we have our opinion of such utter selfishness. There's the scrub team all lined up outside the gym. I suppose they also are waiting to hear the story."
"Save me from my audience!" wailed Jane, falling into convenient arms. "Why not install a ghost in Madison if you are all so keen on it? I can't see how you expect one paltry spook to cover the entire campus."
"Oh, Jane! Miss Allen, Jane!" called the girls from that basketball line. "We've decided to beg off from practice this afternoon, if you don't mind. We all want to go to the village to see the sights." It was Inez Wilson who acted as spokesman and Inez was quite capable of organizing "a lot of fun" in seeing the village sights.
"What's new?" demanded Judith.
"Oh, something," insinuated Mabel Peters.
"Are we debarred? Too old and cranky or something like that?" teased Jane. Her hair was bursting from her cap like an over-ripe thistle, and her cheeks were velvety in a rich glow of early winter tints. She hardly looked too old even for skipping rope just then.
"Of course everyone may come who wants to," Inez condescended, "but juniors usually don't enjoy henning (shopping)."
"I adore it," insisted Jane. "Do let us tag on and we'll buy the peanuts. But this really was to be an important afternoon at the baskets. However do you children expect to maintain the honor of Wellington if you do not keep fit? Now when I was center—"
"Hear! Hear! Hear!" interrupted Mabel. "Remember that famous song, 'I know a girl and her name was Jane'!"
"A rebold ribald rowdy!" shouted a chorus.
But Jane was escaping—running down the walk with hands clapped over her ears to shut out the memories of her earlier years when that refrain was quite too popular to be enjoyable.
Outside the big gate an auto horn honked, and the students drew back to give the big car approaching full sweep of the country roadway. Then another horn sounded, and from the opposite direction a smart little run-about was seen cutting in at high speed. Both drivers saw their danger and both jammed brakes. The big car rolled to the gutter while the runabout picked up speed and shot by safely. This brought the touring car to the curb where the Wellingtons stood watching, and a glance at the seats showed these occupants:
Dol Vin driving, Shirley Duncan at her side, and a rather elderly country couple spread over the big back seat.
"Shirley's folks!" whispered Inez. "We heard they were in town seeing the sights, and hoped we would run across them." This was evidently the "something" hinted at in the soph's outline of the "henning" party.
Dolorez Vincez was too clever to show embarrassment, and Shirley Duncan was too cruel to hide it. She plainly was urging the driver on.
"That's your college, darter, ain't it?" the girls could hear the elderly woman ask Shirley, but they did not hear the latter's answer. Dolorez called, "Hello, girls," as she swung her car out again in the dusty roadway, and the "darter" deprived that little woman of her coveted information.
"She said hello!" announced Judith.
"Sweet of her," remarked Jane, but she was thinking of Shirley's absence from Lenox on the night of the fire, and wondering if the indifferent freshman had been absent during all the day as well?
"Hurry, hurry!" begged Mabel Peters. "What a lark to meet them at the drug store. They'll be sure to want hot chocolate."
"I would guess at tea," drawled Judith, "but it's sure to be some sort of drink. Come along and we may get a chance to return that cordial hello."
"I'm not going," suddenly determined Jane. "All go along if you like but I'm not going to lap up any more of that sickening chocolate. I've taken the pledge until next allowance day," and she turned back to Wellington entrance.
Judith, quick to interpret Jane's moods, knew the excuse covered a more serious consideration and stepped back to ask "why?"
"That daughter is ashamed of those country parents," Jane made chance to answer Judith, "and it would be horrid to spoil their opinion of us. Delay the girls a while and Dol will have gone through town safely."
"But isn't it dreadful she has such influence over that rebel freshman?" commented Judith, slowly following the flock of students headed for the village. "How are we going to stop it?"
"I don't know," confessed Jane, "but we must stop it some way. Just because she has a claim on my—patronage is no reason why she should disgrace Wellington. You go along with the youngsters, Judy, and I'll go right up to the office now and unburden my conscience." Jane's red haired disposition was asserting itself. "Think of the hair bleaching, then the police farce, and now out riding with that traitor. I'm going to tell Miss Rutledge the whole thing!" and no argument of Judith's could dissuade her.
She turned back into the college grounds and struck a gait calculated to bring her up to that office in short order, and was more than half way through the campus when a small voice called out her name.
She turned to a side path, following the call, and faced Sally Howland.
"Just a minute, Miss Allen, please," pleaded the strange little freshman. Jane waited till she reached her, then smiled into the serious face of Sally.
"Hello, girlie," Jane greeted her. "What's the excitement?"
"You were so splendid last night, Miss Allen," panted Sarah Howland, "and I am so ashamed to have to deceive you as you must see I am doing." A flush suffused her pale face and she dropped her eyes in pained self-consciousness. "But just—now—for this little while—I can't see what else I am going to do!" she stopped and her hands twitched miserably at her knitted scarf. Evidently the attempt at confession was more difficult than she had anticipated.
"Don't distress yourself, dear," Jane soothed. "I realize you know something of the queer happenings at Lenox, and I can see you have some strong motive for withholding the explanation. There is a reason, of course, and I have faith in your sincerity. After all, Wellington is quite a little city in itself, and we are bound to meet queer problems here. I am on my way to the office now to get one off my mind."
"Oh, please, Miss Allen, don't report—Shirley Duncan," she stumbled and stuttered over the name. "I know she is doing queer things but she is such a—a country girl, and has never had any chances—"
"Did you know her before she came to Wellington?" asked Jane directly.
"No, yes, that is I knew her just before we came," replied the girl, very much confused and plainly embarrassed.
"I have noticed you seem to be friends," Jane pressed.
"Yes, sort of. But I do not agree with her in her attitude toward college life," replied Sarah hurriedly—markedly so. She was trying to shift the subject, Jane saw that plainly.
"It's good of you to plead for her," commented Jane, "but you see, my dear, juniors are quite grown up and are expected to uphold the college traditions. We really can't consider an individual where a college principle is concerned." Jane had her eye on Madison and was shifting to move that way. The freshman laid a detaining hand on her arm.
"If you could just—be persuaded to wait until after mid-year," she said, "perhaps then—things might look differently."
"But Sally, you know I saw you run out of that prohibited beauty shop, and you must know we Wellingtons in good standing do not patronize that place!"
This accusation startled Sarah. She dropped Jane's arm and all but gasped: "When did you see me there?"
"The day of that absurd police business when my friend Miss Stearns was so humiliated," Jane said severely.
"Oh, Miss Allen," and tears welled into Sarah's eyes. "I can't explain, and I am so miserable. Perhaps—perhaps I should not try—" Tears choked the wretched girl, and Jane relented at sight of her misery.
"Really, Sally," she changed her tone, "I do feel awfully sorry to see a freshman in distress, and I am sure I do not want to add to it. I won't go to the office now, if that will make you feel better, but I simply must do all I can to solve the mystery of the horrible night noises at Lenox. Here come the girls from their hike; dry your eyes and try to look pleasant."
Jane did not relish yielding; she had passed that childish stage, when "to give in" seemed noble; it was now a question of expediency, which was best? Should she go on and unburden her own conscience just because she had decided to do so, or should she follow the pleadings of this girl without having an intelligent reason?
Something stronger than psycho-analysis (Jane's new field of study) forced her to look deeply into the tear-stained blue eyes of Sarah Howland, and that same mystic power, older and surer than theory, compelled Jane to reply:
"All right, Sally. I'll wait a while. It's all very queer but even queer things are sometimes reasonable," and she threw an affectionate arm about the little freshman as she turned her back on the judicial office in the big, gray stone building.
THE PICKET AND THE SPOOK
Not going to bed at all, Janey?" queried Judith, letting her hair fall over her shoulders and shaking her head like a happy care-free Collie. "This bed is too inviting to slight that way. I never knew that old spooky Lenox was so gorgeously equipped." Judith was testing the comforts of the big double bed in the guest chamber of Lenox Hall, the same that welcomed Jane and Dozia on the night previous.
"I am not going to run the risk of missing anything," Jane answered from her place in the big cushioned steamer chair. "This is very comfortable and I am all dressed ready to dive after the least suspicious sound. Besides, I'm not a bit sleepy—gone past my sleep, as Aunt Mary would say."
"I don't want to desert you," volunteered Judith, "and it doesn't seem just the thing for me to turn into this downy bed while you sit there like a sentinel. But truth to tell I am shamefully human and just counting on thirty winks before the ghost walks. Be sure to call me at the very first hint. Of course you will want to bag him personally, Jane, but I'll be glad to help you pull the draw string."
It was drawing close to the tainted hour, and Jane sat there wondering how one single day could seem as long as that just past. She had no idea of admitting what part actual fatigue can play in one's perspective, neither would she have owned to nerves as the cause of her unnatural wakefulness; nevertheless these were both factors in her almost painful alertness.
"At least now I have a chance to think," she temporized, "and I wish I could solve the mystery of Sally Howland's peculiar connection with Shirley Duncan."
They were so unlike, so foreign in disposition and character; not relatives, and Sally even disclaimed any previous acquaintance with the country girl. Then Sally's attempt to forestall the midnight noises by taking the shunned room at the very foot of the dreaded attic stairs—what could that mean?
Jane pondered feebly, and feeling just the least bit drowsy she left her place in the steamer chair to get a drink of water in the lavatory. It would not do to actually fall asleep "at the switch."
Voices from the end of the hall near Sally's room forced their way into the corridor as she glided past, and the unmistakable tone of Shirley Duncan riveted Jane's attention.
"You're too silly," she was insisting, no doubt to little Sally. "Don't I give you enough? Here's something daddy gave me. You may have it. Now do be a good, sensible little girl."
A pause, perhaps a remonstrance, for the voice took up its cue again.
"Of course you must have plenty of use for it. Don't be a goose, Kitten. You know how much I care about the old moldy college. But I'm bound to get something for my money."
Jane was at the lavatory door now but she did not at once enter. Surely, under the circumstances it was permissible to listen to the unguarded voice of Shirley Duncan. And she called Sally "Kitten!"
"For mercy's sake don't start to howl," it came again. "I can stand anything but that. It is all working beautifully and I guess before I quit I'll be able to show them that a country girl isn't such a simp as they imagine."
"Miss Allen is here tonight," Jane next heard Sally say, "and you know what that means, Bobbie."
"As if I care for her," and a scornful laugh made the meaning clearer. There were other words but Jane had heard enough. The mention of her own name seemed to charge her honor, and the belated drink of refreshing water was quickly drawn.
Back in the steamer chair Jane had new cause to ponder. What was the threat or power Shirley held over little Sally? And to bribe her with money? Also the affectionate "Kitten" and "Bobbie"?
The wind was stirring, but everything human now seemed withdrawn from activity around Lenox. Jane was waiting, listening for what? The frightened freshmen seemed secure tonight in their dormitories, assured of protection by Jane and Judith, two of the bravest girls in all Wellington. Also they had been promised a solution of the noise mystery and was not that in itself sufficient alleviative?
The clock in the hall tingled a chime, sweet almost playful music for the elves of midnight and a challenge to baser intruders. Jane must have dozed when she suddenly became conscious of something—
Was it a noise? She listened, alert and all but quivering in anticipation. There never had been any question of actual danger surrounding the weird happenings, but now that she faced the mystery something very like panic seized her.
Yes—again! That was surely something metallic!
"Quick, Judy!" she roused the sleeping girl on the bed. "Follow me. There it is—beginning."
"Where! What!" Judith sat up and snatched her robe.
"I'm going to the attic. I am sure it is up there!" and Jane flew out quietly, in fact noiselessly, into the dimly lighted hall.
A queer rumbling sound came from somewhere. Jane could not locate it for it seemed shut in, walled up! It was mechanical yet muffled!
Judith reached Jane as she stood listening.
"Where is it?" she whispered.
"I—can't tell," Jane replied. "Pass around the turn into the linen room. We can reach the stairs that way."
"Not—going up alone!" breathed Judith.
"Why not? It's some lark of the girls, you may be sure, and I'm going to find out what it is now."
"But it's dark," cautioned Judith.
"I have my flash. Listen!"
"Oh," groaned Judith, clutching Jane's arm, for a rattling of something like chains was now distinctly audible.
"Hush!" breathed Jane, laying her fingers lightly on the door knob of the boxed in stairway. The next moment there was a crash and both girls darted up the stairs.
"It was over that way!" insisted Judith, but in the darkness, with nothing but Jane's flash to guide them, it was impossible to tread safely through the attic, which was stored with all sorts of discarded materials.
"Wait a minute," whispered Jane, her heart pounding and nerves almost jumping.
They stood breathless, but not a move answered the silence.
"Come down; do, Jane," begged Judith, shivering in actual fear.
"Wait a few minutes," insisted Jane. "Whatever it is they know we are here!"
"Jane!" breathed the other, "I am honestly ready—to faint."
"Nonsense, just a few minutes." Jane could feel her companion tremble as she clung to her arm.
But not a sound nor a move rewarded their brave defiance.
"If only this place had a light," Jane whispered. "I suppose there is a bulb somewhere." She remembered that the fireman found none, however, and tonight even the patch of moonlight was not there. It really would have been foolhardy to attempt to go further into the low-beamed room, at the risk of running into attack, and evidently the noise had not been heavy enough to arouse anyone else in the Hall, for no sound of moving about came from the lower floors.
"Do come down," begged Judith again, taking two steps herself on the stairs.
"No, I shan't," insisted Jane. "I can wait as long as they can."
As if that gave a cue for action a rope—surely it was a rope— creaked and groaned and the rumbling heard first sounded again— somewhere, it seemed from the very roof.
"There!" said Jane. "They're gone and they went by that rope. Come on down. We can't do anything in this darkness," and, now satisfied that the "ghost" had been scared off, she followed Judith's precipitous escape down, and into the lower hallway.
"What was it? Did you catch him? We heard it? Where is it?"
To the astonishment of the two juniors the halls were dotted with heads thrust out of half closed doors, and the alarmed freshmen opened this volley of questions before Jane and Judith had recovered their breath.
"No, we did not get it," replied Judith, "but we scared it off, and I have my opinion of a ghost afraid of two unarmed juniors." Judy was very brave now, and rather proud of it.
"Young ladies! Young ladies!" Miss Gifford was expostulating. "You promised to stay in your rooms tonight."
"Oh, they are very good girls, Miss Gifford," Jane attested, "and I can assure them that friend spook is a rank coward and has gone by way of a pulled rope. Any pulleys loose around this place?"
"No, we have looked for such things," declared the matron. "But please, girls, go back to bed, and if anything else happens I promise to call you." This was a rash promise for Miss Gifford to make, but she felt the urgency of getting those questioning heads back on their respective pillows and so was willing to make concessions.
"Come in my room," she said aside to Jane and Judith, and they both followed her to the open door.
"That certainly is a noise made by someone who gets up to that attic," insisted Jane without waiting for inquiries, "and I am sure the sounds are made by metal chains."
"That's the weird part of it," interposed Judith.
"Why are chains more formidable than ropes?" asked Jane. "And in an old place like this is it would not be hard to pick up a chain or two, and you know, Judy, one old chain could make a fearful noise."
"Yes—but—how does anyone get up there?" demanded Judith.
"That's the mystery," admitted the matron, who had insisted on the girls remaining while the students quieted down and were safe once more until daylight. "We have looked all over the place, of course, and have not been able to find any hidden way of making ascent to that attic."
"Airship," suggested Judith foolishly.
"See how quickly the noise ceased," remarked Jane. "Someone recognized us, Judy, and has flown before our vengeance."
"Be that as it may," added Miss Gifford with a smile of assurance, "I am convinced this thing is being done out of jealousy or even revenge. You see, I am a new matron here, and when I came I put into execution such rules as I have been trained to follow. That made changes in our staff and a few dismissals. Such action is sure to stir up the wrath of someone, but even with that as a basis, and with all the detective skill I have been able to operate, I must confess I am baffled. This very minute our janitor would be found in his quarters over the stables, for I have phoned him there. And for the past week I have gone over the ground with him personally, he and his wife when they lock up. She is one of the day workers here," explained Miss Gifford.
Jane felt urged to tell of the shadowy figure she and Dozia had seen creeping about the evergreens, but quickly decided the indefinite detail would add little actual explanation. Instead she said:
"We could do nothing in the dark, but just wait until daylight. I have to sleep, of course, we are getting ready for our midyear exams, but just wait until two-thirty tomorrow afternoon after logic. Then expect me over here with perhaps a shotgun if I can find such a weapon on the premises!"
"But what would you shoot in daylight?" asked Judith, half jokingly,
"Even suspicion," replied Jane, "but my chief concern would be to find the way friend spook gets up into that attic and where he comes from. Good night, Miss Gifford, we will follow the freshies now, and I'm so sleepy it would take more noise than that first bombardment made to arouse me."
"Good night, my dears, and thank you so much for your wonderful support," said Miss Gifford.
"Support!" repeated Judith, back again in the guest room. "I suppose she considers the ghost her opponent?"
"I don't," said Jane cryptically. "I consider it the opponent of all Wellington."
"And I suppose, Janie, you are blaming me for holding you back in the attic?" sleepily from Judith.
"No, I'm not, Judy. You have no idea what a coward I am at heart; but somehow you girls have taken a notion I should do things and I can't bear to disappoint you. I must admit this is fascinating. I like it better even than golf, and will also give up my canter on Firefly this afternoon to see it through."
"Oh Jane, don't do that!" objected Judith. "We were all going out to Big Rock and have the horses engaged."
"I'm sorry, Judy, but I've gotten into this thing and I have just got to get out of it or I'll begin to believe in real spooks. I simply can't let it drag me down another twenty-four hours." She brushed her wavy red gold hair viciously. "You may take Firefly. He knows your saddle and will behave, I'm sure. That will give someone else your horse."
"Maud Leslie is crazy to ride but has no habit here," commented Judith significantly.
"Help her to mine," responded Jane promptly. "She isn't far from my size."
"But I wouldn't want to go galloping for nuts while you stay here alone hunting for spooks," Judith said loyally. "Better let two girls take our places if you insist on staying out."
"Oh, no, dear. I'm only going to look around for some sort of trap entrance to Lenox. Besides, you know Dozia doesn't ride, and she'll be here."
"All right, love, I'll leave you with Dozia if you insist. She's big enough to take care of you at any rate. Do you imagine Miss Gifford has materialized some domestic enemy in her change of staff? And that this super-conscious fired janitor or furnace man is operating against her?"
"I don't know, Judy," sighed Jane. "Looks to me more loosely organized than that. Besides, even a fired furnace man would keep union hours at one fifty per. No, I think you'll find the eternal female back of that racket, it's too temperamental for masculine action."
THE HIDDEN CHAMBER
Was this Wellington and was Jane Allen, the darling of the gym and the record maker for basket-ball, now so prone on solving a perplexing noise mystery that her games were cancelled and even her riding hours filled in with mundane matters, while her companions flew away to gather mountain nuts and wonderful complexions?
Jane's defiant laugh answered this very personal question. She was proud and she was fiery, and someone had been trying to discredit her father's scholarship. Of course that "someone" was Dolorez Vincez, the expelled junior of the previous year. Every clue pointed its accusing finger at Dol Vin. She it was who brought those two freshmen, Shirley and Sarah, together at her beauty shop. It was she also who "took care" of Shirley's folks when they came in to see the "darter," and everyone who knew Dol knew, also, that these little attentions must have been rather costly to the country folks, for Dol always made things pay.
In the back of Jane's mind there was growing the germ of suspicion toward that same triangle in the spook alarms. Dol, Shirley and Sarah must be somewhere in that demonstration, but Jane had to admit the clues were not developing with such speed as she usually counted on in college mysteries.
But perhaps this one more day would unearth something tangible. At any rate, the parties and teas and sorority dances were getting into swing, and even a fascinating ghost would soon have to be turned over to the proper authorities, thought Jane, if he did not quickly become more co-operative with the juniors.
Work was serious and exacting. Every period had a record of its own, and while Jane was specializing in sociology she was also keeping up with the regular college course for her A. B. degree.
Promptly after logic dismissed, at two-thirty, she sought out Dozia. "Come along, Doze," begged Jane, "don't let us waste a moment. The girls are all busy now, and perhaps we can make a survey without having a ballet de follies dancing around." Dozia made her notebook safe and swung into Jane's trot for Lenox. Warburton Hall, one of the larger buildings, was just emptying a class from lecture but Jane and Dozia made a complete detour of it to escape attention.
Lenox was deserted, but in less than half an hour it was sure to be swarmed with freshmen running in after classes for a change of blouse, or some other requirement of the day now three-fourths spent.
"Let us get a line on that old tower," suggested Jane, surveying the secretive old building. "I know the racket was in that wing, and see how the round tower begins here and shoots up past all that outside plumbing? I know Lenox was one time a show building here, but freshies have got to have some place to sleep, hence the retrogression."
"Things are pretty well trodden down around here," reported Dozia, sending a critical eye over the little terrace that supported the old stone tower. "Squirrels do not usually wear French heels. See those footprints, Jane?"
In the strong sun a film of soft earth showed the impress of something quite like the pivoted French heel. This was in a small space from which floral bulbs had been removed and where the sheltering round tower had kept off the early winter frosts.
"Seems to me," said Jane, "there is some sort of cubby hole under here." She was poking around the vine-roped foundation.
"Oh, you see they take cellar stuff out that window," explained Dozia. "It saves steps. See the trail of ashes over there?"
"Yes, but that doesn't come from this point, that does come from the window. But I mean this spot here," she was tapping on a frame in which the squares formed the foundation of the building, and where the wooden arches had been originally painted a contrasting color for the sake of trimming.
"You can always push those lattice pieces in," said Dozia. "That was the charmed spot for hide and seek I'll guess, when Wellington was in rompers."
"Just look here!" ordered Jane in a very definite tone of voice. "This is more than a cubby hole." She was pulling at a piece of rope strung through a broken staple. Nothing remained but the iron loop over which the old time outside padlock was usually snapped. Jane pulled so vigorously she opened the hidden door and toppled over backward with the broken rope in her hand. Dozia was in front of the opening before Jane could get to her feet.
"Well, of all—things!" she drawled. "If here isn't some sort of old elevator!"
"A dumb-waiter!" cried Jane. "There are my groaning ropes. Pull, Doze, and let's see if it carries a car."
A couple of jerks at the big cables and the car came down to earth with a bump.
"Now!" exclaimed Jane gleefully. "There's the mystery. This airship goes right up into that tower!"
"But don't you dare ask me to make the ascent," warned Dozia. "The tower may be thick with ghosts as a chimney with swallows."
"But think of it," rattled on Jane. "That old hidden dumb-waiter! Why have we never discovered it before?"
"Didn't need it," said Dozia. "Wouldn't have a bit of use for it now except to save you from getting gray headed and daffy over spooks. Come along indoors and look at the tower from the other end. This elevator must have a 'last stop, all out' platform some place," drawled Dozia, as calmly as if a great part of the mystery had not just been successfully cleared up.
"But I'm not afraid to go up," declared Jane, almost dancing with excitement, "and the elevator works by pulling the ropes from the inside."
"Don't you dare, Jane Allen!" cautioned the imperturbable Dozia. "You might get half way up and stick in a smoke stack, or a rope might break or anything of a large variety of possibilities might occur. I can't be a party to your suicide pact. Walk right up the red carpeted stairs with little bright-eyed Dozia, and view the tower from the objective." She took Jane's arm and dragged her around to the side door, which stood invitingly opened.
By way of the red carpeted stairs they went as far as the attic flight, and from that point tramped plain unvarnished and well worn "treads" which Dozia took two at a time.
In the attic, daylight dispelled many of the night's fancies. For instance, the big black things in the corner were only stored trunks, those shadowy forms hanging from rafters were Miss Gifford's best summer togs in their tailored moth bags, and the thing that glistened in the moonlight like horrible eyes in a ghastly face, were almost that very thing, for some hallow'een trappings hung right under the window, a veritable trap for spectral moonlight.
Jane smiled. "These things had Judy and me scared blue last night. They actually seemed to point long bony fingers at us, but behold! nothing more sinister than a lot of storage stuff."
Dozia was over in the other end of the low raftered room looking for the dumb-waiter "objective," but there appeared to be nothing of the sort either in bricked chimney wall or along weather-boarded partitions.
"I can't see where that tower ends," she said, "See, Jane, this is nothing but a straight wall, and the tower surely is built round."
Jane surveyed the brown boarded wall. "But this is not all the attic," she exclaimed. "See how narrow this room is and gauge the size of the building. There must be another attic back of those boards and that fire brick wall. Now, how do you suppose one reaches the other side?"
"Via dummy," said Dozia. "But no little jaunt in that flivver for me. No indeed, Janie, not even to bag a real, live, active, untamed spook." They were both tapping along the boarded partition but had found no evidence of an opening. "Say, Jane," whispered Dozia, her brown eyes wide with pretended fright, "suppose some awful creature is hidden in there and that she has her meals served from the old dumbwaiter?"
Jane howled at this and danced around in cruel imitation of a possible "awful creature." That she tore a hole in her skirt from contact with an unfriendly nail mattered little, for the dance took in the length of the attic between trunks, boxes, disabled chairs and even dodged an ancient sewing machine.
"An attic party is attractive under certain conditions," Jane repeated. "I thought once I saw something move over this way. Let me look there more carefully."
"Look away," replied Dozia, falling limply into a very uncertain old willow porch rocker.
Jane pulled aside some curtain stretchers, then pried from its corner an old Japanese screen.
"There!" she yelled. "There's the door, now we're getting to it. Dozia, look, a real door into the other attic," and she paid no attention to the noise of falling articles swept aside in her wild rush to open the low door, so completely hidden by the old Japanese screen.
"Jane! Jane!" begged her companion. "Really do go carefully. How can you tell what's in that other place?"
"I can't till I see," insisted Jane, her hand on the iron latch that held the door in place.
"At least wait until I get a club or something," begged Dozia inadequately. "I've heard of queer animals being shut up in such quarters and they have often made splendid ghosts of themselves, too."
But Jane had no ears for warnings, and while Dozia held on to the blue plaid skirt Jane yanked away into the great unknown!
"Oh, look!" she cried in that tragic way girls discover things. "Just look!"
They had opened up a big storeroom forgotten and abandoned, and in it—were all sorts of college paraphernalia, such as is used in theatricals. The room literally groaned with the stuff, and from the mass one object stood out boldly and significantly:
It was a suit of Japanese armor!
Jane yelled in delight at the discovery and pointed it out to Dozia.
"Don't touch it!" whispered Dozia. "It may be inhabited!"
"Bosh!" roared Jane, laying hold of a dangling armlet.
As she did so the chains rattled! The metallic clangings clanged and the whole array of ghostly noises sounded out in the unholy hour of three o'clock broad daylight!
"The ghost! The ghost!" boomed Jane. "Dozia, see, this thing is hung so it goes off at a touch. Oh, isn't it delicious! To have found it and this way."
"I'm nervous watching that disappearing door," whined Dozia. "Suppose we should get walled up in here, just two babes in the tower?"
"I'm going to get this thing down and show it to the girls," defied Jane. "Oh, Dozia, look there—a companion. One for you and one for me. Let's get into them and go down stairs. The girls will be there and—"
"Say, little girl!" drawled Dozia. "Do you expect me to get in under that scrap iron works?"
"It's all padded," interrupted the excited Jane. "Here," she had the armor off its big hook and simply made Dozia hold the tumbling parts. "There's the helmet, the visor and these—-"
"The trunks," said Dozia. "Cute little rompers, aren't they?"
"Called tonlets," said the intelligent Jane, sighing under the weight of the outfit she was trying to shift to a trunk and a couple of boxes.
"I'd hate to have to get in that for a fire," remarked Dozia. She was, however, trying on the scaly breastplate, and attempting to poke her head into the helmet. "Are you sure this stuff is no world's war relic? I wouldn't care to rub shoulders with some old Prussian guard."
"Why, girlie, aside from bagging the ghost, I think we have made a great discovery. Think of this acquisition to Wellington!" and then Jane proceeded to dress up.
But things rattled and fell off almost as often as they were put on, and it was not an easy matter to get inside of anything pertaining to this dilapidated costume.
When an old sword dropped from its hook on a rafter, Jane danced in glee and declared "a ghost did it," although Dozia insisted she had cut a piece of cord on that very hook. Finally Jane was "canned," as Dozia described the state of being inside of tin things, and an attempt was made to move.
"If we should fall—" suggested Jane.
But they didn't.
"BEHOLD THE GHOST OF LENOX HALL!"
Dozia insisted on carrying the "tin rompers" down stairs in her hands and donning them in a convenient place to avoid possible disaster.
"Yours are shorter and jauntier than mine, Jane," she argued. "Besides, you have a better figure for tonlets. Come along, I'll stop at the landing and buckle into the things. Give me a couple of chains. Don't they chime beautifully?"
"Wait a minute," Jane ordered. "I just discovered the usual slip of paper." She was extracting it from an armlet. "It's quite new and very modern, in fact regular typewriting kind—"
"Oh, tuck it away and come along," Dozia moaned. "I hear the horde howling and the sooner I get this stuff off the better I'll feel. Pickles! but it's heavy."
Jane folded the slip of paper and made it secure some place, then they proceeded to forge their way into the recreation room on the second floor, whither the students had been hastily summoned by the matron.
"Now I know how the baby tanks felt in the big war," panted Jane, who was valiantly leading the way. "I mean those big human machines that rolled over the earth and ploughed things down, as they went."
"Say, Janie, just wait a minute," begged Dozia at the first landing. "This looks a little like a joke but who is the joker? Who got up in that place and rattled these nightly? Also, who let out that wild scream we heard on that first night?" She was talking quickly and in a subdued voice. "We may be breaking the spell by raiding the secret chamber, but suppose the old spook breaks out in a new spot?"
"I've thought of all that," confessed Jane, her smile threatening to unhinge the visor. "But we must give the youngsters their show first. The details will be lost in their joy of rescue."
"They come! They come!" called out Miss Gifford in an uncertain treble. She had been waiting to give this signal.
"Land, I'm losing the panties," groaned Dozia, trying to hold up the tonlets with one hand while she made wild grabs all over the outfit with the other. Dozia's artistic effect was surely in jeopardy. Majestically the two big, black walnut doors swung back, and the crusaders passed between them.
"Behold the ghosts of Lenox Hall!" cried out Jane tragically.
"Behold, behold!" echoed Dozia, raising her arm in its chained gusset and attempting to salute at the peak of her helmet.
Shouts from the girls spoiled further efforts at the theatrical, and presently it was no longer a question of holding the old armor in place, but rather that of getting out of it safely, for what those freshmen didn't say and do to those ghosts!
"Nothing but strung up dishrags," sneered Maud Leslie. "They must have looted every hardware store in town for these. Look!"
She sacrilegiously yanked from their wire strings the metal dishcloths such as are used for scouring purposes, and truth to tell there was indeed a big collection in the string of armor.
"Let's try the breastplate," begged Nellie Saunders. "I've always longed to be a Joan of Arc." And she got her pretty hair inside the head cage with the mouth trap under her chin, then she corseted on the breastplate.
"And THAT'S the ghost?" scoffed Margie Winters, sitting far off in the corner safe from "spiritual" infection.
"Disappointed?" asked Jane.
"Of course I am," growled Margie. "I expected a holiday at least to fumigate, and here we have nothing but a lot of perfectly sanitary junk."
"And I thought we would find a beautiful maniac walled up there," sighed Velma Sigsbee. "It's a perfect shame to have the thing end so unromantically."
"Hard to suit you youngsters," commented Jane. She had fully divested herself of the trappings, and now stood aside while the freshmen surveyed the wreck. Someone suggested getting up surprise theatricals and bringing before the whole college the "ghosts of Lenox," This was a fuse to the bomb of excitement, and presently the roll was called, secrecy pledged, and a committee of arrangements appointed. Prompt freshmen!
"Give Sally Howland a part," called out Ruth Lawrence. "She's just suited for something angelic."
"We'll transpose Othello and sprinkle it with cherubs," said Nellie Saunders, who had been made chairman of the cast. "But the one thing to remember, girls, is secrecy," she announced loftily. "No one outside of Lenox must know what the ghosts are, or anything about the show."
"You'll find tons of stuff up there to fit out the entire performance," Jane informed the excited students. "It seems to me the things have been stored there for ages, and perhaps were the remains of some very grand affair in the early history of Wellington. Now, girls, are you fully satisfied the ghost is annihilated?"
"Perfectly," spoke up Nellie. "And we just don't know how to thank you juniors. Cheers, girls, for our rescuers."
They cheered with the freshmen's dirge.
"One, two, button my shoe; three, four, knock at the door" (they knocked at everything).
"Five, six, pick up sticks" (wild grabs).
"Sticks, sticks, freshies can's mix."
"Rawr! rawr! freshies all sore" (moans and groans).
"Gore, sore, r-o-a-r" (and they roared)!
"Thanks," responded Jane when the roar died down, "and we're glad to be initiated in your sorority. Have a lovely time and be sure to let us know if you need help with the spook revue."
Dozia chimed in feebly and slipped out after Jane.
"They were actually disappointed," she remarked. "I believe they hoped for real gore."
"To tell the truth," admitted Jane, "it did seem a bit commonplace after all the symptoms. But I almost forgot the little note. Did you ever yet meet a case in which the written word played no part? Where did I put that piece of paper?"
"In your shoe?" suggested Dozia as Jane exhausted all other possibilities.
"No, here it is in my sleeve. Sit down and we'll decipher it." They dropped to the nearest bench and smoothed out the paper.
"It's part of a letter," said Dozia, "and written by a boy! Oh, joy, now we will have some fun—a love letter!" and she pored over the torn page.
"Neither the beginning nor the end," said Jane, "but the climax." She read: "'You are a brick if not a wizard, and oh, boy! how that two hundred dollar check did look to me!'"
"Two hundred!" Dozia repeated. "No girl around these diggings ever handled that tidy little sum. Read on, Jane, it may be a will or something, and we may come in for a share—reward, you know."
"Here's our clue," announced Jane. "The name Shirley! Read that." She did so herself. "'Shirley, however did you do it, I know you neither stole nor borrowed, so it is all right and'—wait," interposed Jane, "that's torn." She lay the paper on her knees and fitted in the damaged parts. "Here it is. 'I'm back in college and in the big dorm, after the scare, and it's wonderful to have a little sis like you.'"