by Jane Abbott
JANE D. ABBOTT
Author of Keineth, Larkspur and Happy House
With Illustrations by Harriet Roosevelt Richards
Philadelphia and London J. B. Lippincott Company
Copyright, 1920, by J. B. Lippincott Company
Printed by J. B. Lippincott Company At the Washington Square Press
Philadelphia, U. S. A.
THOSE DEAR CHUMS
WRITE A STORY ABOUT SCHOOL, YOU ASKED
ME. WRITE A STORY IN WHICH THE HEROINE
HAS A MOTHER AND A FATHERWE'RE SO
TIRED OF POOR ORPHANS, YOU BEGGED. I
HAVE TRIED TO DO IT, ASKING YOUR FORGIVENESS
FOR ONE LITTLE STEP-FATHER. TO
YOU I AFFECTIONATELY DEDICATE THE STORY
[Illustration: AMID THE UNFORGETTABLE SHOUTS OF THE BOYS AND GIRLS
SHE SLID EASILY ON DOWN THE TRAIL]
Amid the unforgettable shouts of the boys and girls she slid easily
on down the trail
She pointed down to the winding road
One by one, quite breathless with excitement, they climbed to the
Gyp, Jerry, Tibby, even Graham, superintended Isobel's preparations
for the dress rehearsal
CHAPTER III. ON
THE ROAD TO
CHAPTER IV. THE
CHAPTER VI. NEW
CHAPTER IX. THE
CHAPTER X. THE
CHAPTER XI. AUNT
CHAPTER XII. THE
CHAPTER XIV. THE
CHAPTER XVI. FOR
THE HONOR OF THE
THE RAVENS CLEAN
CHAPTER XIX. THE
CHAPTER XX. THE
JERRY WINS HER
CHAPTER XXV. THE
CHAPTER I. KETTLE MOUNTAIN
If John Westley had not deliberately run away from his guide that
August morning and lost himself on Kettle Mountain, he would never have
found the Wishing-rock, nor the Witches' Glade, nor Miss Jerauld
Even a man whose hair has begun to grow a little gray over his ears
can have moments of wildest rebellion against authority. John Westley
had had such; he had wakened very early that morning, had watched the
sun slant warmly across his very pleasant room at the Wayside Hotel and
had fiercely hated the doctor, back in the city, who had printed on a
slip of office paper definite rules for him, John Westley, aged
thirty-five, to follow; hated the milk and eggs that he knew awaited
him in the dining-room and hated, more than anything else, the smiling
guide who had been spending the evening before, just as he had spent
every evening, thinking out nice easy climbs that wouldn't tire a
fellow who was recuperating from a very long siege of typhoid fever!
It had been so easy that it was a little disappointing to slip out
of the door opening from the big sun room at the back of the hotel
while the guide waited for him at the imposing front entrance. There
was a little path that ran across the hotel golf links on around the
lake, shining like a bright gem in the morning sun, and off toward
Kettle Mountain; feeling very much like a truant schoolboy, John
Westley had followed this path. A sense of adventure stimulated him, a
pleasant little breeze whipping his face urged him on. He stopped at a
cottage nestled in a grove of fir trees and persuaded the housewife
there to wrap him a lunch to take with him up the trail. The good woman
had packed many a lunch for her husband, who was a guide (and a close
friend of the man who was cooling his heels at the hotel entrance), and
she knew just what a person wanted who was going to climb Kettle
Mountain. Three hours after, John Westley, very tired from his climb
but not in the least repentant of his disobedience, enjoyed immensely a
long rest with Mother Tilly's good things spread out on a rock at his
At three o'clock John Westley realized that the trail he had chosen
was not taking him back to the village; at four he admitted he was
lost. All his boyish exhilaration had quite left him; he would have
hugged his despised guide if he could have met him around one of the
many turns of the trail; he ached in every bone and could not get the
thought out of his head that a man could die on Kettle Mountain and no
one would know it for months!
He chose the trails that went down simply because his weary
legs could not climb one foot more! And he had gone down such
steep inclines that he was positive he had descended twice the height
of the mountain and must surely come into some valley or otherthen
suddenly his foot slipped on the needles that cushioned the trail, he
fell, just as one does on the iceonly much more softlyand slid on,
down and down, deftly steering himself around a bend, and came to a
stop against a dead log just in time to escape bumping over a flight of
rocky steps, neatly built by Nature in the side of the mountain and
which led to a grassy terrace, open on one side to the wide sweep of
valley and surrounding mountains and closed in on the other by leaning,
It was not the amazing view off over the valley, nor the impact
against the old log that made his breath catch in his throat with a
little surprised soundit was the sudden apparition of a slim creature
standing very straight on a huge rock! His first joyful thought was
that it was a boya boy who could lead him back to the Wayside Hotel,
for the youth wore soft leather breeches and a blouse, loosely belted
at the waist, woolen golf stockings and soft elkskin shoes, but when
the head turned, like a startled deer's, toward the unexpected sound,
he saw, with more interest than disappointment, that the boy was a
How do you do? he said, because her eyes told him very plainly
that he was intruding upon some pleasant occupation. I'm very glad to
see you because, I must admit, I'm lost.
The girl jumped down from her rock. She had an exceptionally pretty
face that seemed to smile all over.
Won't you come down? she said graciously, as though she was the
mistress of Kettle Mountain and all its glades.
Then John Westley did what in all his thirty-five years he had never
done beforehe fainted. He made one little effort to rise and walk
down the rocky steps but instead he rolled in an unconscious heap right
to the girl's feet.
He wakened, some moments later, to a consciousness of cool water in
his face and a pair of anxious brown eyes close to his own. He felt
very much ashamedand really better for having given way!
Are you all right now?
Yesor I will be in a moment. Just give me a hand.
He marveled at the dexterity with which she lifted him against her
Little-Dad's gone over to Rocky Point, but I knew what to do, she
said proudly. I s'pose you're from Wayside?
He looked around. Where is Wayside?
She laughed, showing two rows of strong, white teeth. Well, the way
Little-Dad travels it's hours away so that Silverheels has to rest
between going and coming, and Mr. Toby Chubb gets there in an hour with
his new automobile when it'll go, but if you follow the Sunrise
trail and then turn by the Indian Head and turn again at the Kettle's
Handle you'll come into the Sleepy Hollow and the Devil's Pass and
John Westley clapped his hands to his head.
Good gracious, no wonder I got lost! And just where am I now?
You're right on the other side of the mountain. Little-Dad says
that if a person could just bore right through Kettle you'd come out on
the sixth hole of the Wayside Golf courseonly it'd be an awfully
John Westley laughed hilariously. He had suddenly thought how
carefully his guide always planned easy hikes for him.
The girl went on. But it's just a little way down this trail to
Sunnysidethat's where I live. Little-Dad's my father, she explained.
I'd rather believe that you're a woodland nymph and live in yonder
birch grove, but I supposeyour garments look so very man-madethat
you have a regular given-to-you-in-baptism name?
I should say I had! the girl cried in undisguised disgust.
Jerauld Clay Travis. I hate it. Nearly every girl I know is
named something niceRose and Lily and Clementina. It was cruel to
name any child J-e-r-a-u-l-d.
I think it'snice! It's sodifferent. John Westley wanted to add
that it suited her because she was different, but he hesitated;
little Miss Jerauld might misunderstand him. He thought, as he watched
from the corner of his eye, every movement of the slim, strong, boyish
form, that she was unlike any girl he had ever known, and, because he
had three nieces and they had ever so many friends, he really knew
quite a bit about girls.
Yes, it'sdifferent, she sighed, unconscious of the thoughts that
were running through the man's head. Then she brightened, for even the
discomfiture of having to bear the name Jerauld could not long shadow
her spirit, only no one ever calls me JerauldI'm always just Jerry.
Well, Miss Jerry, you can't ever know how glad I am that I met you!
If I hadn't, well, I guess I'd have perished on the face of Kettle
Mountain. I am plain John Westley, stopping over at Wayside, and I can
swear I never before did anything so silly as to faint, only I've just
had a rather tough siege of typhoid.
Oh, you shouldn't have tried to climb so far, she cried.
As soon as you're rested you must go home with me. And you'll have to
stay all night 'cause Mr. Chubb's not back yet from Deertown and he
won't drive after dark.
If John Westley had not been so utterly fascinated by his
surroundings and his companion, he might have tried immediately to pull
himself together enough to go on to Sunnyside; he was quite content,
however, to lean against a huge rock and rest.
I'm trying to guess how old you are. And I thought you were a boy,
too. I'm glad you're not.
I'm 'most fourteen. Miss Jerry squared her shoulders proudly. I
guess I do look like a boy. I wear this sort of clothes most of the
time, 'cept when I dress up or go to school. You see I've always gone
with Little-Dad on Silverheels when he went to see sick people until I
grew too heavy andand Silverheels got too old. She said it with deep
regret. But I livelike this!
And do you wander alone all over the mountain?
Oh, nojust on this side of Kettle. Once a guide and a man from
the Wayside disappeared there beyond Sleepy Hollow and that's why they
call it Devil's Hole. Little-Dad made me promise never to go beyond the
turn from Sunrise trail. I'd like to, too. But there are lots of jolly
tramps this side. Thiswaving her handis the Witches' Glade and
thatnodding at the rock against which the man leanedis the
John Westley, who back home manufactured cement-mixers, suddenly
felt that he had wakened into a world of make-believe.
He turned and looked at the rockit was very much like a great many
other rocks all over the mountainside and yetthere was
Jerry giggled and clasped her very brown hands around her
I name everything on this sideno one from Wayside ever comes this
way, you see. I've played here since I was ever so little. I've always
pretended that fairies lived in the mountains. She leveled serious
eyes upon him. They must! You know it's magic the way
John Westley nodded. I understandyou climb and you think you're
on top and then there's lots higher up and you slide down and you think
you're in the valley and you come out on a spotlike thiswith all
the world below you still.
Mustn't it have been fun to make it all? Jerry's eyes
gleamed. And such beautiful things grow everywhere and the colors are
so different! And the woodsy glens and ravinesthey're so
mysterious. I've heard the trees talk! And the brookswhy, they
can't be just nothing but brooks, they're sosoalive!
Oh, yes, John Westley was plainly convinced. Fairies must
live in the mountains!
Of course I know nowI'm fourteenthat there are no such things
as fairies but it's fun to pretend. But I still call this my
Wishing-rock and I come here and stand on it and wishonly there
aren't so awfully many things to wish for that you don't just ask
Little-Dad forbig things, you know.
Miss Jerry, you were wishing when Iarrived!
She colored. I was. Little-Dad says I ought to be a very happy girl
and I am, but I guess everybody always has something real big
that they think they want more than anything else.
John Westley inclined his head gravely. I guess everybody does,
Jerry. I think that's what keeps us going on in the race. Does it spoil
your wishto tell about it?
Oh, my, yes! Then she laughed. Only I suppose it couldn't because
there aren't really fairies.
What were you wishing? He asked it coaxingly, in his eyes a
She hesitated, her dark eyes dreaming. That I could just go on
along that shining white roaddown therearound and around tothe
other side of the mountain! She rose up on her knees and stretched a
bare arm down toward the valley. I've always wished it since the days
when Little-Dad used to ride that way and leave me home because it was
too far. I know that everything that's the other side of the mountain
isoh, lots different from Miller's Notch
andschoolandSunnysideand Kettle. Her voice was plaintively
wistful, her eyes shining. I know it's different. From up here
I can watch the automobiles come along and they always turn off and go
around the mountain and never come to Miller's Notch unless they get
lost. And the trains all go that way andand it must be
different! It's like the books I read. It's the world She
sank back on her knees. Once I tried to walk and once I rode
Silverheels, but I never seemed to get to the real turn, it was so far
and I was afraid. At sunset I look at the colors and the little clouds
in the sky and they look like castles and I think it's the reflection
of what's on the other side. That's what I was wishing. She
turned serious eyes toward Westley. Is it dreadfully wicked?
Little-Dad said I was discontented and Sweetheartthat's mothercried
and hugged me as though she was frightened. But some day I've just
got to go along that road.
[Illustration: SHE POINTED DOWN TO THE WINDING ROAD]
For some reason that was beyond even the analytical power of his
trained mind, John Westley was deeply stirred. Little Jerry, child of
the woodshe felt as her mother must have felt! There was a mystery
about the girl that held his curiosity; she could be no child of simple
mountain people. He rose from his position against the rock with
If you'll give me a hand I'll stand on your rock and wish that your
wish may come true, if you want it so very much! But, maybe, child,
you'll find that what you have right here is far better than anything
on the other side of the mountain. Now, suppose you lead the way to
Jerry sprang ahead eagerly. And then you'll meet Sweetheart and
Little-Dad and Bigboy and Pepperpot!
CHAPTER II. SUNNYSIDE
Jerry had led her new friend only a little way down the
sharply-descending trail when suddenly the trees, which had crowded
thickly on either side, opened on a clearing where roses and
hollyhocks, phlox, sweet-william, petunias and great purple-hearted
asters bloomed in riotous confusion along with gold-tasseled corn,
squash, beets and beans. A vine-covered gateway led from this into the
grassy stretch that surrounded the low-gabled house.
Hey-o! Sweetheart! called Jerry in a clear voice.
In answer came a chorus of joyful yelping. Around the corner dashed
a Llewellyn setter and a wiry-haired terrier, tumbling over one another
in their eagerness to reach their mistress; at the same moment a door
leading from the house to the garden opened and a slender woman came
John Westley knew at a glance that she was Jerry's mother, for she
had the same expression of sunniness on her lips; her hair, like
Jerry's, looked as though it had been burnished by the sun though,
unlike Jerry's clipped locks, it was softly coiled on the top of her
This is my mother, announced Jerry in a tone that really said:
This is the wisest, kindest, most beautiful lady in the whole wide
Though the dress that Mrs. Travis wore was faded and worn and of no
particular style, John Westley felt instinctively that she was an
unusual woman; in the graciousness of her greeting there was no
embarrassment. Only once, when John Westley introduced himself, was
there an almost imperceptible hesitation in her manner, then, just for
an instant, a startled look darkened her eyes.
While Jerry, with affectionate admonishing, silenced her dogs, Mrs.
Travis led their guest toward the little house. She was deeply
concerned at his plight; he must not dream of attempting to return to
Wayside until he had restedhe must spend the night at Sunnyside and
then in the morning Toby Chubb could drive him over. Dr. Travis would
soon be back and he would be delighted to find that she and Jerry had
We do not meet many new people on this side of the mountain, she
said, smilingly. You will be giving us a treat!
So deeply interested was John Westley in the Travis family and their
unusual home, tucked away on the side of the mountain, to all
appearances miles away from anyone or anything (though Jerry had
pointed out to him the trail down the hillside that led to Miller's
Notch and the school and the little church and was a mile shorter than
going by the road), that he forgot completely the alarm that must be
upsetting the entire management of the Wayside Hotel over the
disappearance of a distinguished guest. Indeed, at the very moment that
he stepped across the threshold into the sunlit living room of the
Travis cottage, a worried hotel manager was summoning by telegraph some
of the most expert guides of the state for a thorough search of the
neighborhood, and, at the same time, a New York newspaperman, at the
Wayside for a vacation, was clicking off to his city editor, from the
town telegraph station, the most lurid details of the tragedy.
Sunnyside, John Westley knew at once, was a hand-made house; each
foot of it had been planned lovingly. Windows had been cut by no rule
of architecture but where the loveliest view could be had; doors seemed
to open just where one would want to go. The beams of the low ceiling
and the woodwork of the walls had been stained a mellow brown. There
was a piney smell everywhere, as though the fragrant odors of the
mountainside had crept into and clung to the little house. A great
fireplace crowned the room. Before it now stretched a huge Maltese cat.
And most surprising of allthere were books everywhere, on shelves
built in every conceivable nook and corner, on the big table, on the
arm of the great chair drawn close to the west window.
All of this John Westley took in, with increasing wonder, while Mrs.
Travis brought to him a glass of home-made wine. He drank it
gratefully, then settled back in his chair with a little contented
I'm beginning to feellike Jerrythat Kettle Mountain is
inhabited by fairies and that I am in their stronghold!
But there was little suggestive of the fairy in Jerry as she tumbled
through the door at that moment, Pepperpot held high in her arms and
Bigboy leaping at her side. They rudely disturbed the
MalteseDormouse, Jerry called herand then occupied in sprawling
fashion the strip of rug before the hearth.
Be still, Pepper! Shake hands with the gentleman, Bigboy.
They're as offended as can be because I ran away without them,
she explained to John Westley. Do you feel better now? she asked, a
little proprietary note in her voice.
I do, indeed, and I'm glad, too, very glad, that I got lost.
And here comes Little-Dad up the trail! I'll tell him you're here.
Anyway, he'll want me to put up Silverheels. She was off in a flash,
the dogs leaping behind her.
After having met Jerry and Jerry's mother, John Westley was not at
all surprised to find Dr. Travis a most unordinary man, also. He was
small, his clothes, country-cut, hung loosely on his spare frame, his
hair fringed over his collar in an untidy way, yet there was a
kindliness, a gentleness in his face that was winning on the instant;
one did not need to see his dusty, worn medicine case to know that his
life was spent in caring for others.
Widely traveled as John Westley was, never in his whole life had he
met with such an interesting experience as his night at Sunnyside. Most
amazing was the hospitality of these people who seemed not to care at
all who he might beit was enough for them that chance had brought
him, in a moment's need, to their door. Everything seemed to prove that
Mrs. Travis, at least, was a woman educated beyond the ordinary, yet
nothing in their simple, pleasant conversation could let anyone think
that they had not both been born and brought up right there on Kettle.
Everything about the house had the mark of a cultured taste, yet the
cushioned chairs, the rugs, the soft-toned hangings were worn to
shabbiness. And most mystifying of all was Miss Jerry herself, who had
appeared at the supper table in a much faded but spotless gingham
dress, black shoes and cotton stockings replacing the elkskins and
woolen socks, very much a spirited little girl, with a fearlessness of
expression that amused John Westley while at the same time he wondered
if it could possibly be the training of the school at Miller's Notch.
He felt that Mrs. Travis must read in his face the curiosity that
consumed him. He did not know that deep in her heart was a poignant
regret that Jerry should have, in such friendly fashion, adopted this
strangerJerry, who was usually a little shy! Of course she could not
know that it was because he had admitted to Jerry that he, too, found
something in Kettle that approached the magicthat he had stood on the
Wishing-rock and had wished, very seriously, and if Mrs. Travis had
known what that wish was her regret would, indeed, have been real
alarm! After Jerry, with Pepper, had gone off to bed and Dr. Travis
with Bigboy had slipped out to the little barn, John Westley said
involuntarily, as though the words tumbled out in spite of anything he
could do: Of course, you know that I'm completely amazed to find a
spot like thisoff here on the mountain.
Mrs. Travis smiled, as though there were lots of things in her head
that she was not going to say.
Does Sunnyside seem attractive? We haven't any wealthas the world
reckons it, but the doctor and I love books and we've made our little
corner in the world rich with them.
And you have Jerry.
Yes! The mother's smile flashed, though there was a wistful look
in her eyes. But Jerry's growing into a big girl.
You must have an unusually excellent school here. John Westley
blushed under the embarrassment ofas he plainly put itpumping
Her explanation was simple. It's as good as mountain schools are.
When the snow is so deep that she cannot go over the trail I have
taught her at home. You see I have not always lived at Miller's
NotchI came herejust before Jerry was born.
Has she many playmates? He remembered Jerry chattering about some
Rose and Clementina and a Jimmy Chubbs.
A fewbut there are only a few of her own age. And she is
outgrowing her school. A little frown wrinkled Mrs. Travis' pretty
brow. That is the first real problem that has come to Sunnyside fora
very long time. Life has always been so simple here. We have all we can
want to eat and the doctor's practice, though it isn't large, keeps us
clothed, butJerry's beginning to want something more than the school
down thereand these few chums andeven Ican give her!
John Westley recalled Jerry's face when she told her wish: I want
to go along that shining roaddown therearound and aroundto the
other side of the mountain. He nodded now as though he understood
exactly what Mrs. Travis meant by her problem. He understood, too,
though he had no child of his own, just why her voice trembled ever so
We can't keep little Jerry from growing into big Jerry nor from
wanting to stretch her wings a bit and yetoh, the world's such a big,
hard placethere's so much cruelty and selfishness in it, so much
unhappiness! If I could only keep her here always, contented she
stopped abruptly, a little ashamed of her outburst.
John Westley knew, just as though she had told him in detail all
about herself, that life, sometime and somewhere away from the quiet of
Sunnyside, had hurt this little woman.
Dr. Travis and I find company in our books, Mrs. Travis went on,
and our neighbors, though we're quite far apart, are pleasant,
simple-hearted people. Jerry does all the things that young people like
to do; she swims down in Miller's Lake, and skates and skis and she
roams the year round all over the side of Kettle; she can call the
birds and wild squirrels to her as though she was a little wild
creature herself. She takes care of her own little garden. And I do
everything with her. Yet she is always talking as though some day she'd
run away! Of course I know she wouldn't do exactly that, but I
sometimes wonder if I have the right to try to hold her back. I haven't
forgotten my own dreams. She laughed. I certainly never dreamed of
thissweeping her hand toward the shadowy roomand yet this is
better, I've found, than the rosy picture my young fancy used to
John Westley wished that he had read more and worked less hard at
making cement-mixers; so much had been printed in books about this
reaching out of youth that he might repeat now, if he knew it all, to
the little mother. Instead he found himself telling her of his own
three nieces. Then quite casually Mrs. Travis remarked:
Some very pleasant people have opened Cobble House over on Cobble
MountainMr. and Mrs. Will Allan. I met her at church. She'swell, I
knew in an instant that I was going to like her and that she'd help me
about Jerry. I
AllanWill Allan? Why, bless my soul, that's Penelope Everett, the
finest woman I ever knew! They come from my town. He sprang to his
feet in delight. I never dreamed I was anywhere near them! I'll get
Mr. Chubb to take me there to-morrow. Of course you'll like her.
She'swell, she's just like you!
CHAPTER III. ON THE ROAD TO COBBLE
The next day Mr. Toby Chubb's Fly-by-day, as Dr. Travis called the
one automobile that Miller's Notch boasted, chugged busily over the
mountain roads. John Westley started out very early to find his friends
at Cobble; then he had to drive back to Wayside to appease a distraught
manager and half a dozen angry guides and also to pack his belongings;
for the Allans would not let him stay anywhere else but with them at
Cobble. Then, after he had been comfortably established in the freshly
painted and papered guest-room of the old stone house which the Allans
had been remodeling, he coaxed Mrs. Allan to drive back to Sunnyside
that she might, before the day passed, get better acquainted with Jerry
and Jerry's mother.
I couldn't feel more excited if I'd found a gold mine there on the
side of Kettle! John Westley had told his friends. Mrs. Allan, an
attractive young woman, who was accustomed to many congenial friends
about her, had been wondering, deep in her heart, if she was not going
to find Cobble just the least little bit lonely at times, so she
listened with deep interest to John Westley's account of Jerry and
I can't just describe why the girl seems so differentit's that
she's so confoundedly natural! There's a freshness about her that's
like one of these clean, cool mountain winds whipping through you.
Mrs. Allan laughed at his awkward attempt to explain Jerry. She was
used to girlsshe loved them, she understood just what he was trying
to say. He went on: And here she is growing up, tucked away on the
side of that mountain with a mother who's more like a sister, I
guesssays she skates and skis and does everything with the child. And
the most curious fatherdon't believe he's been further away from
Kettle than Waytown more'n three or four times in his life; sits there
with his books when he isn't jogging off on his horse to see some sick
mountaineer, and the kindest, gentlest soul that ever breathed. There's
an atmosphere in that house that is different, upon my
wordmakes one think of the old stories of kings and queens who
disguised themselves as peasantssimple meal, everything sort of
shabby but you couldn't give all that a thought, there was such a
feeling of peace and happiness everywhere. John Westley actually had
to stop for breath. But he was too eager and too much in earnest to
mind the glint of amusement in Mrs. Allan's eyes. When I went to bed
didn't that big, amber-eyed cat of Jerry's follow me upstairs and into
the room and stretch herself across my bed just as though that was what
I'd expect! I never in my life before slept with a cat in the room, but
I felt as though it would be the height of rudeness to chuck her off
the bed! And I haven't slept as soundly, since I've been sick, as I did
in that little room. I think it was the piney smell about everything.
Miss Jerry wakened me at an unearthly hour by throwing a rose through
my window. It hit me square in the nose. The little rascal was standing
down there in the sunshine, in her absurd trousers, with a basket of
berries in her handshe'd been off up the trail after them.
Although John Westley's glowing account had prepared her for what
she would find at Sunnyside, ten minutes after Penelope Allan had
crossed the threshold she could not resist nodding to him, as much as
to say: You were quite right. In such places as Sunnyside little
conventional restraints were unknown and in a very few moments the two
women were chatting like old friends while Dr. Travis was explaining in
his drawling voice the advantages of certain theories of planting, to
which Will Allan listened intently, because he was planning a garden at
Cobble, while John Westley, only understanding a word now and then,
wished he hadn't devoted so much of his time to cement and knew more
Afterwards, as they drove down the rough trail back to Cobble, John
Westley demanded: Honestly, Pen Allan, doesn't it strike you that
there is a mystery about these Travis people?
She hesitated a moment before answering, then laughed lightly as she
spoke. You funny manthe magic of these mountains is getting in your
blood! Of course notthey are just a very happy family who know a
little more than most of us about what's really worth while in this
world. Now tell me about your own niecesIsobel, and that madcap Gyp,
and little Tib. She knew well how fond John Westley was of these three
girls and to talk of them brought to her a breath of what she had known
at home before she had married Will Allan, the spring before.
Oh, they're as bad as ever, he said in a tone that implied exactly
the opposite. Isobel's growing more vain each day and Gyp more
heedless, and Tibby's going to spoil her digestion if her mother
doesn't make her eat less candy and more oatmeal. I haven't seen much
of the youngsters since I was sick.
And Grahampoor boy, stuck in among those girls! He must be in
long trousers now.
Graham can take care of himself, laughed the uncle. Wish I had
the four of them here with me! I wanted to bring them along but Dr.
Hewitt said it'd be the surest way to the undertaker. They are a good
sort butsometimes, I wonder
You are an extraordinary uncle, to take the responsibility of your
nieces and nephew the way you do.
I can't help it; I've lived with them since they were babies and
it's just as though they were my own. And their father's away so much
that I think their mother sort of depends on me. Sometimes I get a
little botheredthey're having the very best schooling and all the
things money can give young people and yetthere's a sort of
shallowness possessing them that makes themwell, not value the
opportunities they're having
You talk like a veritable schoolmaster, laughed Mrs. Allan,
Have you forgotten that when Uncle Peter Westley left Highacres to
the Lincoln School it made me trustee of the school? That's almost as
bad as being the principal. And this year I'm going to take an active
interest in the school, too. The doctor says I must have a 'diversity'
of interests to offset the strain of making cement-mixers and I think
to rub up against two hundred boys and girls will fill the bill, don't
you? They've remodeled the building at Highacres this summer and
completed one addition. There are twenty acres of ground, too, for
What a wonderful gift, mused Mrs. Allan, recalling the pile of
stone and marble old Peter Westley had built in the outskirts of his
city that could never have been of any possible use to himself because
he had been a crusty old bachelor who hated to have anyone near him.
Gossip had said that he had built it just because he wanted his house
to cost more than any other house in the city; unworthy as his motive
in building it might have been, he had forever ennobled the place when
he had bequeathed it to the boys and girls of his city.
There'll be a chance, with the school out there, of offsetting just
what's threatening Isobel and Gypa sort of grownupness they're
putting onlike a masquerade costume!
I love your very manlike way of describing things, laughed Mrs.
Allan, recalling certain experiences of her own when, for six months,
she had undertaken the care of her own niece, Patricia Everett. It's
sovivid! A masquerade make-up, too big and too long, and then
when you peep under the 'grown-up' costume, there's the little girl
stillreally loving to frolic around in the delightful sports that
belong to youth and youth only.
John Westley rode on for a few moments in deep silence, his mind on
the young people he lovedthen suddenly it veered to the little girl
he had found on the Wishing-rock, her eyes staring longingly out into a
dream-world that lay beyond valley and mountain top.
I've an ideaacorker! he exclaimed, just as the
Fly-by-day bounced into the grass-grown drive of Cobble House.
CHAPTER IV. THE WESTLEYS
Gyp Westley, get right down off from that chair! You know
mother doesn't want you to stand on it!
Miss Gyp, startled by her sister's sudden appearance at her door,
fell promptly from her perch on the dainty chintz-cushioned chair.
I was only tacking up my new banner, she answered crossly. Here,
Tib, put the hammer away. What are you going to do, Isobel? Gyp's tone
asked, rather: What in the world have you found to do?
Because Mrs. Hicks' mother had been so inconsiderate as to have a
stroke of apoplexy, much misery of spirit had fallen upon the young
Westleys. Mrs. Hicks was the Westley housekeeper and Mrs. Robert
Westley, who, with her four youngsters, was spending the month of
August at Cape Cod, had declared that she must return home at once, for
Mrs. Hicks' going would leave the house entirely alone with the two
housemaids who were very new and very inexperienced. There had been of
course a great deal of rebellion but Mrs. Westley, for once
hardhearted, had turned deaf ears upon her aggrieved children.
Not a bit of silver packed away or anything, with that
yellow-haired Lizzie! And anyway, it'll only be two or three weeks
before school opens. Which was, of course, scant comfort!
Oh, I thought I'd walk over and see if Ginny's home yet.
Of course she isn't. Camp Fairview doesn't close until September
second. I wish I'd gone there! Where's Graham?
Isobel stretched her daintily-clad self in the chintz-cushioned
chair that Gyp had vacated.
He went out to Highacres to see the changes. Won't it seem funny to
go to school in old Uncle Peter's house?
For the moment Gyp and Tibby forgot to feel bored.
It'll be like going to a new school. I know I shall be possessed to
slide down the banisters. I wish I'd known Graham was going out, I'd
have gone, too.
Barbara Lee's going to take Capt. Ricky's place in the gym, Isobel
further informed her sisters. You know she was on the crew and the
basketball team and the hockey team at college.
Let's try for the school team this year, Isobel. Gyp sat up very
straight. Don't you remember how Capt. Ricky talked to us last year
about doing things to build up the school spirit?
Isobel yawned. It's too hot to think of doing anything right now!
Miss Grimball's always talking about school spirit as though we ought
to do everything for that. This is my last yearI'm going to just see
that Isobel Westley has a very good time and the school spirit can go
Gyp looked enviously at her valiant sister. Isobel was everything
that poor, overgrown, dark-skinned Gyp longed to beher face had the
pink and white of an apple blossom, her fair hair curled around her
temples and in her neck, her deep-blue eyes were fringed by long black
lashes; she had, after much practice, acquired a willowy slouch that
would have made a movie artist's fortune; she was the acknowledged
beauty of the whole Lincoln school and had attended one or two dances
under the chaperoned escort of older boys.
Here comes Graham, cried Tibby from the window. She leaned out to
Graham Westley, who had, through the necessity of defending, for
fifteen years, an unenviable position between Isobel and Gyp, developed
an unusual amount of assertiveness, was what his uncle fondly called
quite a boy. But the dignity of his first long trousers, at one
glance, fell before the boyish mischievousness of his frank face.
His sisters deluged him now with questions.
Why don't you go out there and look at it yourselves? But he was
too enthusiastic about the new school to withhold his information. The
living room and the old library had been built into one big room for a
reference library; the classrooms were no end jolly; the billiard room
had been enlarged and was to be an assembly room. A wing had been added
for an indoor gymnasium. He and Stuart King had climbed way to the
tower, but the tower room was locked.
I remembermother and Uncle Johnny said that Uncle Peter's papers
and books had been put up there. Mother wouldn't have them here.
Isn't it funny, mused Gyp as she balanced on the footboard of her
bed. Everybody hated old Uncle Peter, he was such a cross old thing,
and nobody ever wanted to go to Highacres, and then he turns it into a
school and we'll all just love it and make songs about it
And celebrate Uncle Peter's birthday with an entertainment or
something, broke in Graham. Maybe they'll even give us a holidayto
show respect to his memory. Hurrah for old Bones!
Grahamyou're dreadful, giggled Gyp.
I don't care. It's Uncle Peter's own fault. It's anyone's fault if
nobody in the world likes 'emit's because they don't like anybody
Isobel ignored his philosophy. You want to remember, Graham
Westley, that being Uncle Peter's grandnieces and nephew and having his
money gives us a certain she floundered, her mind frantically
searching for the word.
Prestige, cried Gyp grandly. I heard mother say that. And I
looked it upit means authority and influence and power. But I don't
see how just happening to be Uncle Peter's nieces
At times Gyp's tendency to get at the very root of things annoyed
her older sister.
I don't care about dictionaries. Now that the school's going to be
at Highacres we four want to always be very careful how we speak of
Uncle Peter and act sort of dignified out there
Rats! cut in Graham, with scorn. I say, Gypthat's my
banner! Thereupon ensued a lively squabble, in which Tibby, who adored
Graham, sided with him, and Isobel, in spite of Gyp's tearful pleading,
refused to take part, so that the banner came down from the wall and
went into Graham's pocket just as Mrs. Westley walked into the room.
Why, my dears, all of you in the house this glorious afternoon?
Mrs. Westley was a plump, bright-eyed woman who adored her four
children, and enjoyed them, with happy serenity, except at infrequent
intervals, when she worried herself distracted over them. At such
times she always turned to Uncle Johnny.
Isobel and Gyp had almost managed to answer: There's no place to
go, when the mother's next words cut short their complaint.
I have the most astonishing news from Uncle Johnny, and she held
up a fat envelope.
Oh, when's he coming back? cried Tibby.
Very soon. But what do you think he wants to dobring back with
him a little girl he found up there in the mountainsor rather, she
found himwhen he got lost on a wrong trail. Listen:
'...She is a most unusual child. And she has outgrown the school
here. I'd like, as a sort of scholarship, to send her for a year or two
to Lincoln School. But there is the difficulty of finding a suitable
place for her to liveshe's too young to put in a boarding house.
Could not you and the girls stretch your hearts and your rooms enough
to let in the youngster? I haven't said anything to her mother yetI
won't until I hear from you. But I want to make this experiment and it
will help me immensely if you'll write and say my little girl can go
straight to you. I had a long talk with John Randolph, just before I
came up herewe feel that Lincoln School has grown a little away from
the real democratic spirit of fellowship that every American school
should maintain; he suggested certain scholarships and that's what came
to my mind when I found this girl. Isobel and Gyp and all their friends
can give my wild mountain lassie a good dealand she can give Miss Gyp
and Isobel something, too'
Humph, came a suspicion of a snort from Isobel and Gyp.
Wish he'd found a boy, added Graham.
From the moment she had read the letter, Mrs. Westley's mind had
been working on ways and means of helping John Westley. She always
liked to do anything anyone wanted her to doand especially Uncle
If Gyp would go back with Tibby or
Mother! Gyp's distress was sincerethe spring before she
had acquired this room of her own and she loved it dearly.
And Gyp's things muss my room so, cried Tibby, plaintively.
Then perhaps you'll all help me fix the nursery for her. Everyone
in the household, although the baby Tibby was twelve years old, still
called the pleasant room on the second floor at the back of the house,
the nursery. Mrs. Westley liked to take her sewing or her reading
therefor her it had precious memories; the old bookcase was still
filled with toys and baby books; Tibby's dolls had a corner of their
own; Isobel's drawing tools were arranged on a table in the bay window
and, on some open shelves, were displayed Graham's precious
specimens, all neatly labeled and mixed with a collection of war
trophies. To fix the nursery would mean changes such as the Westley
home had never known! Each face was very serious.
It wouldn't be much to do for Uncle Johnny!
Isobel, Gyp, Graham and Tibby, each in her and his own way, adored
Uncle Johnny. Because their own father was away six months of every
year, Uncle Johnny often stood in the double rôle of paternal
counsellor and indulgent uncle.
And he's been so sick, added Tibby.
I can keep my stuff in my own room. Graham rather liked the idea.
I suppose I can do my drawing in father's studyeven if the light
isn't nearly as good. Isobel, who underneath all her little
affectations had an honest soul, knew in her heart that hers was not
much of a sacrifice, because she had not touched her drawing pencils
for weeks and weeks, but she purposely made her tone complaining.
I s'pose we can play in there just the same? asked Gyp.
Of course we can, declared her mother. We'll put up that little
old bed that's in the storeroom.
What's her name? Gyp's forehead was wrinkled in a scowl.
Mrs. Westley referred to the letter.
Jerauld Travis. What a pretty name! And she's just your age, Gyp!
But Gyp refused to be delighted at this fact.
Then Mrs. Westley, relieved that the children had consented, even
though ungraciously, to the change in their household, slipped the
letter back into its envelope. I'll write to Uncle Johnny right away,
and she hurried from the room, a little fearful, perhaps, of the cloud
that was noticeably darkening Isobel's face.
I think it's horrid, Isobel cried when she knew her mother
was out of hearing.
What you got to kick about? How'd you like it if you was
me with another girl around?
If you was I, corrected Gyp, loftily. I think maybe it'll
You won't when she's here! And probably Uncle Johnny'll like her
better than any of us. Which added much to the flame of poor Isobel's
Well, I shall just pay no more attention to her than's if she was
aa boarder! Isobel had a very vague idea as to how boarders
were usually treated. And it's silly to think that Uncle Johnny will
like her better than usshe's just a poor child he feels sorry for.
Do you suppose mountain people dress differently from us? asked
Graham promptly answered: Yes, sillyshe'll wear goatskinand
Anyway, Isobel rose languidly, we don't want to forget about
And our prestige, interrupted Gyp, tormentingly. And we can't act
horrid to her 'cause that'd hurt Uncle Johnny's feelings
Tibby suddenly saw a bright side of the cloud.
Say, it'll be fun seeing how she can't do things!
And, strangely enough, such is human nature in its early teens,
little Tibby's suggestion brought satisfying comfort to the three
others. Gyp's face cleared and she tossed her head as much as to say
that she was not going to worry any more about it!
Come on, Isobel, I'll treat down at Wood's.
Let me go, too, implored Tibby.
Gyp hesitated. I only have thirty cents
You owe me ten, anyway, urged Tibby.
Graham, in a sudden burst of generosity, relieved the tension of
their high finance. Oh, let's all goI'll stand for the three of
CHAPTER V. JERRY'S WISH COMES TRUE
Jerry would, of course, never know how very hard Mr. John had had to
work to make her wish come true. Ever afterwards she preferred to
think that it was just standing on the Wishing-rock and wishing and
She had noticed, however, and had been a little curious, that every
time Mr. John had come to Sunnyside he and her mother had talked and
talked together in low tones so that, even when she was near them, she
could not hear one word of what they were saying, and that, after these
talks, her mother had been very pale and had, again and again, for no
particular reason, hugged her very close and kissed her with what Jerry
called a sad kiss.
Then one afternoon Mrs. Allan had come with John Westley, and her
mother, to her disgust, had sent her down to the Notch with a message
for old Mrs. Teed that had not seemed a bit important. After her
return John Westley had invited her to take him and Bigboy and
Pepperpot to the Witches' Glade because, he said, he had something to
It was a glorious afternoon. August was painting with her vivid
coloring the mountain slopes and valleys; over everything was a soft
glow. It was reflected on Jerry's eager face.
John Westley pointed down into the valley where Jerry's shining
road ran off out of sight. They could see an automobile, like a speck,
moving swiftly along it.
Your road, down there, goes off the other side of the mountain and
on and on and after a very long waytakes me back home. I'm going on
Jerry turned a disappointed face. Each day of John Westley's two
weeks near Miller's Notch had brought immeasurable pleasure and
excitement into her life.
Mrs. Allan is going to drive back with meshe lived in my town,
you know. She hasn't been home for months and I shall enjoy her
Jerry was staring at the distant road. After awhile the specks that
were automobiles and that she liked to watch would become fewer and
fewer; the days would grow colder, school would begin, the snow would
come and choke the trails and she and Sweetheart and Little-Dad would
be shut in at Sunnyside for weeks and weeks. Her face clouded.
And now listen very carefully, Jerry, and hold on to my arm so that
you won't fall off from the mountain! You are going with us!
Jerry did hold on to his arm with a grip that hurt. She
stared, with round, wondering eyes.
He laughed at her unbelief. Your wish is coming true! You're going
to ride along that road yonder, in my automobile, which ought to get
here to-morrow, straight around to the other side of the mountain, and
on and onthen you're going to stay all winter with my own nieces and
go to school with them
Jerry's breath came in an excited gasp.
Oh, it can'tbetrue! Mother'd never let me.
It is true! Mothers are always willing to do the things that
are going to be best for their girls. Mrs. Allan and I have persuaded
But Jerry, with a whoop, was racing down the trail, Bigboy and
Pepperpot at her heels. She vaulted the little gate leading into the
garden and swept like a small whirlwind upon her mother, sitting in the
willow rocker on the porch. With a violent hug she tried to express the
madness of her joy and so completely was her face hidden on her
mother's shoulder that she did not see the quick tears that blinded her
That was on Mondaythere were only three days to get her small
wardrobe ready and packed and to ask the thousand questions concerning
the Westley girls (Graham was utterly forgotten) and the school. Then
there were wonderful, long talks with mother, sitting close by her
side, one hand tight in herssolemn talks that were to linger in
Jerry's heart all her life.
I don't ever want to do anything, Mumsey Sweetheart, that'd make
you the least little, little bit unhappy! Jerry had said after
one of these talks, suddenly pressing her mother's hand close to her
On Wednesday afternoon she declared to Mr. John, when he drove over
from Cobble, that she was ready. She said it a little
breathlesslyno Crusader of old, starting forth upon his holy way,
felt any more exaltation of spirit than did Jerry!
I've packed and I've mended my coat and I've finished mother's
comfy jacket that I began winter before last and I've said good-by to
Rose and poor old Jimmy Chubb, who's awfully envious, 'cause he wanted
to go to Troy to work in his uncle's store and he says it makes him mad
to have a girl see the world 'fore he does, but I told him he ought to
keep on at school, even if it was only Miller's Notch. And I've cleaned
Little-Dad's pipes. And I've promised Bigboy and Pepperpot and Dormouse
that they may all sleep on my bed to-night. I'm afraid Pepperpothe's
so sensitiveis going to miss me dreadfully! Jerry tried to frown
away the thought; she did not want it to intrude upon her joy.
That last evening she sat quietly on the porch with one hand in her
mother's and the other in Little-Dad's. Not one of them seemed to want
to talk; Jerry was too excited and her mother knew that she could not
keep a tremble from her voice. At nine o'clock Jerry declared that
she'd just have to go to bed so that the morning would come
quicker. She kissed them both, kissed her mother again and again, then
marched off with her pets at her heels.
Far into the night her mother sat alone on the edge of the porch,
staring at the stars through a mist of tears and prayingfirst that
the Heavenly Father would protect her little Jerry always and always,
and then that He would give her strength to let the child go on the
When the parting came everyone tried to be very busy and very merry,
to cover the heartache that was under it all; John Westley fussed with
the covers and the cushions in the big car and had his chauffeur pack
and repack the bags. Mrs. Allan and Mrs. Travis discussed the lunch
that had been stowed away in the tonneau, as though the whole thing was
only a day's picnic. Jerry, a funny little figure in her coat that was
too small and a fall hat that Mrs. Chubb had made over from one of her
mother's, was, with careful impartiality, bestowing final caresses upon
Bigboy, Pepperpot, Silverheels, and her father and mother alike. Then,
at the last moment, she almost strangled her mother with a sweep of her
strong young arms.
Mumsey Sweetheart, if you want me dreadfullyyou'll send
for me, she whispered, stricken for a moment by the realization that
the parting was for a very long time.
Then, though her heart was almost breaking within her, Mrs. Travis
managed to laugh lightly.
Need youof course we won't need you! Climb in, darling, and she
almost lifted the girl into the tonneau, where Mrs. Allan was already
But at this moment Bigboy tried to leap into the car. When Dr.
Travis gripped his collar he let out a long, protesting howl.
Oh, Bigboyhe knows! Let me say good-by again, cried
Jerry, jumping out and, to everyone's amusement, embracing the dog.
You must be a good dog and take very good care of my Sweetheart and
Little-Dad, she whispered. Then, standing, she looked around.
Where's Pepperpot? she asked anxiously. The little dog had
He'll think that I love Bigboy more than I do him, she explained,
as she climbed back in.
The car started down the rough road. Jerry turned to wave; as long
as she could see her mother and father she kept her little white
handkerchief fluttering. Then she faced resolutely forward.
You know, she explained to John Westley, with shining eyes, when
you've been wishing and wishing for something, you must enjoy it as
hard as you can.
Even the familiar buildings of the Notch seemed different now to
Jerry, as she flew past them, and she kept finding new things all along
the way. Then, as they turned from the rough country road into her
shining road, which was, of course, the macadam highway, she looked
back and up toward Kettle to see if she could catch a glimpse of
Sunnyside or the Witches' Glade and the Wishing-rock. They were lost in
a blaze of green and purple and brown.
Isn't it funny? If I was up there watching I'd see you
moving like a speck! And in a moment you'd disappear around the corner.
And now I'm the speck andI don't know when we reach the
corner. But I'mgoing, anyway!
Then upon her happy meditations came a sudden, startling
interruption in the shape of a small dog that leaped out from the dense
undergrowth at the side of the road and hailed the automobile with a
Pepperpot! cried Jerry, springing to her feet.
The chauffeur had brought the car to a sudden stop to avoid hitting
the dog. At the sound of Jerry's voice the little animal made a joyous
leap into the car.
He came on aheadthrough the Divide! Ohthe
darling, and Jerry hugged her pet proudly.
John Westley looked at Penelope Allan and she looked at him and the
chauffeur looked at them bothall with the same question. In Jerry's
mind, however, there was no doubt.
He'll have to go with us, Mr. John, because I know he'd just
die of a broken heart if Itook him back!
Then, startled by John Westley's hesitation, she added convincingly,
He's awfully good and never bothers anyone and keeps as still as can
be when I tell him to and I'llI'll
No one could have resisted the appeal in her voice.
Very well, JerryPepperpot shall go, too.
CHAPTER VI. NEW FACES
Ten miles more... three miles more ... five blocks more, Mr. John
had been saying at intervals as the big car rolled along, carrying
Jerry nearer and nearer to her new home.
For the two days of the trip Jerry had scarcely spoken; indeed, more
than once her breath had caught in her throat. Each moment brought
something new, more wonderful than anything her fancy had ever
pictured. She liked best the cities through which they passed, their
life, the bustle and confusion, the hurrying throngs, the rushing
automobiles, the gleaming railroad tracks like taut bands of silver,
the smoke-screened factories with their belching stacks, the rows upon
rows of houses, snuggling in friendly fashion close to one another.
John Westley had found himself fascinated in watching the eager
alertness of her observation. He longed to know just what was passing
back of those bright eyes; he tried to draw out some expression, but
Jerry had turned to him an appealing look that said more plainly than
words that she simply couldn't tell how wonderful everything seemed to
her, so he had to content himself with watching the rapture reflected
in her face and manner.
But when, after leaving Mrs. Allan at her brother's, Mr. John had
said five blocks more, Jerry had clutched the side of the car in an
ecstasy of anticipation. From the deep store of her vivid imagination
she had drawn a mental picture of what the Westley home and Isobel,
Gyp, Graham and Tibby would be like. The house, in her fancy, resembled
pictures of turreted castles; however, when she saw that it was really
square and brick, with a little iron grille enclosing the tiniest scrap
of a lawn, she was too excited to be disappointed.
Two small carved stone lions guarded each side of the flight of
steps that led to the big front door; their stony, stoic stare drew a
sharp bark of challenge from Pepperpot, snuggled in Jerry's arms.
Hush, Pepper, admonished Jerry. You mustn't forget your manners.
As John Westley opened the door of the tonneau his eyes swept the
front of the house in a disappointed way. He had expected that great
door to open and his precious nieces and nephew to come tumbling out to
He could not knowbecause his glance could not penetrate the crisp
curtains at a certain window of the second floorthat from behind it
Gyp, Graham and Tibby had been watching the street for a half hour.
Isobel had resolutely affected utter indifference and had sat reading a
book, though more than once she had peeped covertly over Gyp's shoulder
down the broad avenue.
There they are! Tibby had been the first to spy the big
IsobelGyp screamedlook at her hat!
I wish she was a boy, groaned Graham again. Doesn't Uncle Johnny
look great? I saycome on, let's go down!
It had been a prearranged pact among the young Westleys not to greet
the little stranger with any show of eagerness.
Tibby welcomed the suggestion. Ohlet's! she cried.
It was at that moment that Pepperpot had barked his disapproval of
the weather-worn lions. Graham and Gyp gave a shout of delight.
Look! Looka dog! Hurray!
Maybe now mother will have to let us keep him, Graham added. Come
on, girls, he raced toward the stairs.
Their voices roused Mrs. Westley. She had not expected Uncle Johnny
for another hour. She flew with the children; there was nothing wanting
in her welcome.
John Westleyyou look like a new man! And this is our little girl?
Welcome to our home, my dear. Did you have a nice trip? Did you leave
Pen Allan at the Everetts? How is she? As she chattered away, with one
hand through John Westley's arm and the other holding Jerry's, she drew
them into the big hall and to the living-room beyond. Jerry's round,
shining eyes took in, with a lightning glance, the rich mahogany
woodwork, the soft rugs like dark pools on the shiny floor, the long
living-room with its amber-toned hangings, and the three curious faces
staring at her over Mr. John's shoulder.
Gyp, my dear, John Westley untangled long arms from around his
neck, here's a twin for you. Jerry, this boy is my nephew Grahamhe's
not nearly as grown-up as he looks. And this is Tibby!
Jerry flashed a smile. They seemed to herthis awkward, thin,
dark-skinned girl whom Uncle Johnny had called Gyp, the tall,
roguish-faced boy, and little Tibby, whose straight braids were black
like Gyp's and whose eyes were violet-bluemore wonderful than
anything she had seen along the way; they were, indeed, the best of
Oh, she stammered, in a laughing, excited way, it's just
wonderful toreallybebe here. Before her glowing enthusiasm the
children's prejudice melted in a twinkling. Gyp held out her hand with
a friendly gesture and Pepperpot, as though he understood everything
that was happening, stuck his head out from the shelter of Jerry's arm
and thrust his paw into Gyp's welcoming clasp.
Everyone laughedGraham and Tibby uproariously.
Goodness mea dog! Mrs. Westley cried, with a
startled glance toward John Westley.
Let him down, commanded Graham, as though he and Jerry were old
friends. Jerry put Pepperpot down and the four children leaned over
him. Promptly Pepperpot stood on his hind legs and executed a merry
He cut through the woods and headed us off, miles away from the
Notchwe couldn't do anything else but bring him along, Uncle Johnny
whispered to Mrs. Westley under cover of the children's laughter. For
Heaven's sake, Mary, let him stay.
There had been for years a very fixed rule in the Westley household
that dogs were not allowed. They bring their dirty feet and their
greasy bones and things on the rugs and the chairs, was the standing
complaint, though Mrs. Westley had never minded telltale marks from
muddy little shoes nor the imprint of sticky fingers on satin
upholstery; nor had she ever allowed painters to gloss over the
initials that Graham had carved with his first jackknife on one of the
broad window-sills of the library. When he's a grown man and away from
the nestI'll have that, she had explained.
I don't know what Mrs. Hicks will say, she answered rather
helplessly, knowing, as she watched the young people, that she would
not have the heart to bar Pepper from their midst.
I say, Jerry,Graham had Pepper's nose in his handcan I have
him for my dog? Nearly all the fellows have dogs, but mother he
glanced quickly in her direction.
Graham might just as well have asked Jerry to cut out a part of her
heart and hand it over; however, his face was so wistful that she
answered, impulsively: He can belong to all of us!
Where's Isobel? cried Uncle Johnny, looking around.
Isobel had been listening from the turn of the stairway. She had
really wanted, more than anything else, to race down the stairs and
throw herself in Uncle Johnny's arms. (He was certain to have some
pretty gift for her concealed in one of his pockets.) But she must show
the others that she would stick to her word. So, in answer to
his call, she walked slowly down the stairway, with a smile that
carefully included only Uncle Johnny.
Jerry thought that she had never in her whole life seen anyone quite
as pretty as Isobel! She stared, fascinated. To Uncle Johnny's
introduction she answered awkwardly, uncomfortably conscious that
Isobel's eyes were unfriendly. She wished, with all her heart, that
Isobel would say something nice, but Isobel, after a little nod, turned
back to her uncle.
Gyp, take Jerry to her room. Graham, carry her bags up, directed
Pepper, too? cried Tibby.
But Pepper had dashed up the stairs, and had turned at the landing
and, standing again on his hind legs, had barked. Even Mrs. Westley
laughed. Pepper's answering that question himself, she replied. She
turned to Uncle Johnny. If it comes to a choice between Mrs. Hicks and
that dog I plainly see Mrs. Hicks will have to go.
John Westley declared he had not known how good it would feel to
get home again. Though he really lived in an apartment a few blocks
away, he had always looked upon his brother's house as home and spent
the greater part of his leisure time there. Mrs. Westley ordered tea.
Uncle Johnny slipped Isobel's hand through his arm and followed Mrs.
Westley into the cheery library.
Above, Jerry was declaring that her room was just wonderful. She
ran from one window to another to gaze rapturously out over the
neighboring housetops. The brick, wall-enclosed court below, with its
iron gate letting into an alleyway, was to her an enchanted battlement!
Graham's trophies, Tibby's dolls, Isobel's drawing tools had
disappeared; a little old-fashioned white wooden bed had been put up in
one corner; its snowy linen cover, with woven pink roses in orderly
clusters, gave it an inviting look; there was a pink pillow in the deep
chair in the bay-window; a round table stood near the chair; on it were
some of Gyp's books and a little work-basket. And the toys had been
left in the old bookcase, so that, Mrs. Westley had decided, the room
would look as if a little girl could really live in it! Little wonder
that Jerry thought it all wonderful.
When Gyp heard the rattle of tea-cups below, they all tore
downstairs again, Pepper at their heels. They gathered around Uncle
Johnny and drank iced tea and ate little frosted cakes and demanded to
be told how he had felt when he knew he was lost on that big
mountain. They were all so nice and jolly, Jerry thought, and, though
Isobel ignored her, she must be as nice as the others, because Uncle
Johnny kept her next to him and held her hand. The late afternoon sun
slanted through the long windows with a pleasant glow; the rows and
rows of books on the open shelves made Jerry feel at home; the great,
deep-seated chairs gave her a delicious sense of refuge.
It was Uncle Johnny who, after dinner, sent Jerry off to bed early;
though she declared she was not one little bit tired, he had noticed
that the brightness had gone from her face. Gyp and Tibby went upstairs
with her; Graham disappeared with Pepperpot.
What do you think of my girl? John Westley asked his
sister-in-law. They had gone back to the library. Isobel sat on a stool
close to Uncle Johnny's chair.
She seems like an unusually nice, jolly child. But Mrs.
Westley looked a little distressed. May she not be homesick here,
Johnso far from her folks? She hated to think of such a possibility.
I thought of that, John Westley chuckled. I said something about
it to her. What do you think she said? She waited a moment before she
answered meas though she was carefully considering it. 'Well,' she
said, 'anyway, one wouldn't be homesick for very long, would one?' As
though it'd be like measlesor mumps. This is an Adventure to her;
she's been dreaming about it all her life! He told, then, about the
I tell you, Mary, there's some sort of spirit about the girl that's
unusual! It must come from some fire of genius further back than her
hermit-parents. I'm as certain as anything that there's a mystery about
the child. I've knocked about among all sorts of people, but I never
found such a curious family beforein such a place. Dr. Travis is one
of those mortals whose feet touch the earth and whose head is in the
clouds; Mrs. Travis is a cultured, beautiful woman with a look in her
eyes as though she was always afraid of somethingjust behind. And
then Jerrylike them both and not a bit like 'emher head in the
clouds, all righta girl who sees beauty and a promise and a vision in
everythinga girl of dreams! You can imagine almost any sort of a
story about her.
As Mrs. Allan had done, Mrs. Westley laughed at her brother-in-law's
She's probably just a healthy girl who has been brought up in a
simple way by very sensible parents. Her matter-of-fact tone made John
Westley feel a little foolish. She's a dear, sunny child and I hope
she will be happy here.
What got me was her utter lack of self-consciousness and her faith
in herself. Not an affectation about herthat's why I wanted her at
No one'll look at her thereshe's so dowdy! burst out
Her uncle turned quickly, surprised and a little hurt at the
pettishness of her tone.
Isobel, dear protested her mother.
Then Uncle Johnny laughed. I rather guess, from my observation of
the vagaries of you young people, that sometimes one little thing can
make even a 'dowdy' girl popularthen, if she has the right stuff in
her, she can be a leader. What is it starts you all wearing these
little black belts round your waists, or this mousetrap, poking the
puffs of pretty silk hair that hid her ears; it's a psychology that's
beyond most of us! Maybe my Jerry will set a new style in Lincoln.
Isobel blazed in her scorn.
Well, I'd die before I'd look like her! she cried.
I'm going to bed. She felt very cross. She had wanted Uncle Johnny to
tell her that she looked well; she had on a new dress and her hair was
combed in a very new way; she had grown, too, in the summer. Instead he
had talked of nothing but Jerry, Jerryand such silly talk about her
eyes shining as though they reflected golden visions within! She
stalked away with a bare good-night.
Uncle Johnny might have said something if Isobel's mother had not
given a long sigh.
I can'talwaysunderstand Isobel now, she said. She has grown
so self-centered. I'll be glad when school begins. Mrs. Westley, like
many another perplexed parent, looked upon school as a cure for all
Jerry and Gyp had been busily unpacking Jerry's belongings and
putting them away in the little white bureau.
Where's Pepper? asked Jerry, in sudden alarm. The children had
been warned to keep the little dog from under Mrs. Hicks' feet. In a
flash Jerry had a horrible vision of some cruel fate befalling her pet.
I'll just bet Graham has him, declared Gyp, indignantly.
They tiptoed down the hall and up the stairs to Graham's door.
Graham lay in bed, sound asleep; beside him lay Pepper, carefully
tucked under the bedclothes. One of Graham's arms was flung out over
Some instinct told Jerry that a long-felt yearning in this boy's
heart had at last been satisfied. And Pepper must have felt it, too,
for, though at the sight of his little mistress a distressed quiver
shot through him, he bravely pretended to be soundly sleeping.
Let him have him, whispered Jerry.
But, for a long time, Jerry, under the pink and white cover, blinked
at the little circle of brightness reflected from the electric light
outside, trying hard not to wish she had Pepperpot with her to keep
away the lonesomes. The night sounds of the city hummed in eerie
cadences in her ears. She resolutely counted one-two-three to one
hundred and back again to one to keep the thoughts of mother and
Sunnyside out of her head; then, just as she felt a great choking sob
rise in her throat, she heard a little scratch-scratch at her door.
Oh, PepperI'm so glad you came! She caught the
shaggy little form to her. She could not let him lie on the
pink-and-whiteness, so she carefully spread it over the footboard and
folded her own coat for him to sleep on.
How magically everything changedwhen a shaggy terrier snuggled
against her feet. The haunting shadows fled, the sob gave way to a
contented little sigh and Jerry fell asleep with the memory of Gyp's
dark, roguish face in her thoughts and a consuming eagerness to have
the morning come quickly.
CHAPTER VII. HIGHACRES
Old Peter Westley had made up his mind, so gossip said, to build
Highacres when he heard that Thomas Knowles, a business rival, had
bought a palatial home on the most beautiful avenue of the city.
Poufthat was Uncle Peter's favorite expression and he had a way of
blowing it through his scraggly mustache that made it most impressive.
Pouf! I'll show him! The next morning he drove around to a
real estate office, bundled the startled real estate broker into his
car and carried him off to the outskirts of the city, where lay a
beautiful tract of land advertised as Highacre Terrace, and held
(with an eye to the growth of the city) at a startling figure. In the
real estate office it had been divided into building lots with
restrictions, which meant that only separate houses could be built on
the lots. Peter Westley struck the ground with his heavy cane and said
he'd take the whole piece. The real estate man gasped. Uncle Peter said
pouf again and the deal was settled.
Then he summoned architects from all over the country who, to his
delight, spent hours in the office of the Westley Cement-Mixer
Manufacturing Company trying to outdo one another in finesse and
suavity. Fortunately he decided upon a man who had genius as well as
tact, who, without his knowing it, could quietly bend old Peter Westley
to his way of thinking. Under this man's planning the new home grew
until it stood in its finished perfection, a mass of stone and marble
surrounded by great trees and sloping lawns. Gossip said further that
Highacres so far surpassed the remodeled home of Thomas Knowles that
that poor gentleman had resigned from the Meadow Brook Country Club so
that he would not have to drive past it!
What sentiment had led Peter Westley to leave Highacres to the
Lincoln School no one would ever know; perhaps deep in his queer old
heart was an affection for his nephew Robert's children, who came
dutifully to see him once or twice a year, but made no effort to
conceal the fact that they thought it a dreadful bore.
I think, Isobel said seriously to her family, as they were
gathered around the breakfast table, a few days after Jerry's arrival,
that it'd be nice if Gyp and I put on black
Black cried Gyp, spilling her cocoa in her
Yes, black. We should have worn it when Uncle Peter died and now,
going to school out there, it would show the others that we
Mrs. Westley laughed, then when she saw the color deepen on Isobel's
cheeks she added soothingly: Your thought's all right, Isobel dear,
but it will be hardly necessary for you and Gyp to put on black now to
show your respect. I think every pupil of Lincoln can best do it by
building up a reputation for scholarship that will make Lincoln known
all over the country.
Isobel just wants everybody to remember she's Uncle Peter's
Hush, Graham. Mrs. Westley had a way of saying hush that cleared
a threatening atmosphere at once.
Oh, isn't it going to be fun? cried Gyp. Mother, can't we
take Jerry out there this morning?
But I have to use the car
If you girls were fellows, we could walk, broke in Graham.
We canwe can! It's only two miles and a half. Simpson watched on
the speedometer the last time we drove out.
Graham looked questioningly at Jerry and Jerry, suddenly recalling
the miles of mountain trail over which she had climbed, laughed back
Because a new world, that surpassed any fairy tale, had opened to
Jerry in these last few days, it seemed only fitting to go to school in
a building that was like a palace. She thrilled at the thought of the
new school life, the girls and boys who would be her classmates, the
new teachers, the new studies. For years and years, back at the Notch
she had always sat in front of Rose Smith and back of Jimmy Chubb; she
had progressed from fractions to measurements and then on to algebra
and from spelling to Latin with the outline of Jimmy's winglike ears so
fixed a part of her vision that she wondered if now she might not find
that she could not study without them. And there had always been, as
far back as she could remember, only little Miss Masten to teach
multiplication and geography and algebra alike; she and the other
children who made up the advanced grade of the school at Miller's
Notch always called her Miss Sarah. Would there be anyone like Miss
Sarah at Lincoln?
As they walked along, Gyp bravely measuring her step to Jerry's
freer stride, Gyp explained to Jerry all about Uncle Peter.
He's father's uncle. Father's fatherthat's my grandfatherwas
his youngest brother. He died when he was just a young man and Uncle
Peter never got over it. Mother says my grandfather was the only person
Uncle Peter ever really liked. He always lived in the same funny little
old house even after he made lots of money, until he built Highacres.
He was terribly queer. I used to be dreadfully afraid of him because he
always carried a big cane and had the awfullest way of looking at you!
His eyes sort of bored holes right through you, so that you turned cold
all over and couldn't even cry. I'm glad he's dead. He was awfully old,
anywayor at least he looked old. We used to just hate to have to go
to see him. The old stingy wouldn't ever even give us a stick of
The poor old man, Jerry said so feelingly that Gyp stared at her.
My mother always said that such people are so unhappy that they punish
themselves. Maybe he really wanted to be nice and just didn't know how!
Anyway, he's given his home to the school.
If Peter Westley, looking down from another world, was reading that
thought in a hundred young hearts he must surely be finding his reward.
There it is! cried Graham, who was walking ahead.
School could not really seem a bit like school, Jerry thought, as
she followed the others through the spacious grounds into the building,
when one studied in such beautiful rooms where the sun, streaming
through long windows framed in richly-toned walnut, danced in slanting
golden bars across parqueted floors. Gyp's enthusiasm, though, made it
all very real.
Here, Jerry, here's where the third form study room will be. Look,
here's the geom. classroom! Oh, I hope we'll be put in the same
class. Let's go down to the Gym. Ohlook at the French roomisn't it
darling? The trees outside were casting a shimmer of green through the
sunshine in the room. Mademoiselle will say: 'Young ladies, it ees
beau-ti-ful!' Aren't these halls jolly, Jerry? Oh, I can't wait
for school to begin.
On their way to the gymnasium, which was in the new wing of the
building, the girls met another group. One of these disentangled
herself from the arms that encircled her waist and threw herself into
Gyp's embrace. The extravagance of her demonstration startled Jerry,
but when Gyp introduced her, in an off-hand way: This is Ginny Cox,
Jerry, Jerry found herself fascinated by the dash and camaraderie
in the girl's manner.
There were other introductions and excited greetings; each tried to
tell how scrumptious and gorgeous and spliffy she thought the new
school. Like Gyp, none of them could wait until school opened. Then the
group passed on and Jerry, breathless at her first encounter with her
schoolmates-to-be, remembered only Ginny Cox.
She's the funniest girlshe's a perfect circus, Gyp explained in
answer to Jerry's query. Everybody likes her and she's the best
forward we ever had in Lincoln. All of which was strange tribute to
Jerry's ears, for, back at the Notch, poor Si Robie had always been
dubbed the funniest child in the school and he had been
simple. Jerry did not know exactly how valuable a good forward was
to any school but, she told herself, she knew she was going to like
In the gymnasium the girls found Graham with a group of boys. Gyp
greeted them boisterously. Jerry, watching shyly, thought them all very
Do you see that tall boy down there? Gyp nodded toward another
group. That's Dana King. Isobel's got an awful crush on him. She won't
admit it but I know it, and the other girls say so, too. He's a
The boy turned at that moment. His pleasant face was aglow with
Come on, fellows, he cried to the other boys, let's give a yell
for old Peter Westley. And the yell was given with a will!
Rah! Rah! Rah!
Peter Westley! Pe-ter! West-ley!
Jerry tingled to her finger-tips. Gyp had yelled with the others, so
had Ginny Cox, who had come back into the room. What fun it was all
going to be. Dana King was leading the boys in a serpentine march
through the building; out in the hall the line broke to force in a
laughing, remonstrating carpenter. Jerry heard their boyish voices
gradually die away.
Before we go back let's climb up to the tower room. That was the
name the children had always given to the largest of the turrets that
crowned Highacres' many-gabled roof. A stairway led directly to it from
the third floor. But the door of the room was locked.
How tiresome, exclaimed Gyp, shaking the knob. Not that she did
not know just what the tower room was like, but she hated locked
doorsthey always made her so curious.
It's the nicest roomyou can see way off over the city from its
windows. She gave the offending door a little kick. They put all of
Uncle Peter's old books and papers and things up heremother wouldn't
have them brought to our house, you see. I remember she told Graham the
key was down in the safety-deposit box at the bank. Well
disappointed, Gyp turned down the stairs. I've always loved tower
rooms, don't you, Jerry? They're so romantic. Can't you just see the
poor princess who won't marry the lover her father has commanded her to
marry, languishing up there? Even chained to the wall!
Jerry shuddered but loved the picture. She added to it: She's got
long golden, hair hanging down over her shoulders and she's tearing it
in her wretchedness.
And beating her breast and vowing over and over that she will
not marry the horrible wicked prince
And refusing to eat the dry bread that the ugly old keeper of the
drawbridge slips through the door
At this point in the heartrending story the two laughing girls
reached the outer door. Gyp slipped an affectionate hand through
Jerry's arm. She forgot the languishing princess she had consigned to
the prison above in her joy of the bright sunshine, the inviting slopes
of Highacres, velvety green, and the new friend at her side.
I'm so glad Uncle Johnny found you!
CHAPTER VIII. SCHOOL
In the Westley home each school day had always begun with a rite
that would some day be a sacred memory to Mrs. Westley, because it
belonged to the precious childhood of her girls and boy. Graham called
it inspection. It had begun when the youngsters had first started
school, Isobel and Graham proudly in the grades, Gyp in kindergarten.
The mother had, each morning, laughingly stood them in a row and looked
them over. More than once poor Graham had declared that it was because
his ears were so big that mother could always find dirt somewhere;
sometimes it was Isobel who was sent back to smooth her hair or Gyp to
wash her teeth or Tibby for her rubbers. But after the inspection there
was always a good-luck kiss for each and a carol of good-by, mother
from happy young throats.
So on this day that was to mark the opening of the Lincoln School at
Highacres, Jerry stood in line with the others and, though each young
person was faultlessly ready for this first day of school, Mrs. Westley
laughingly pulled Graham's ears, smiled reminiscently at Isobel's
primness, smoothed with a loving hand Gyp's rebellious black locks and
thought, as she looked at Jerry, of what Uncle Johnny had said about
her eyes reflecting golden dreams from within. And when she called
Tibby littlest one none of them could know that, as she looked at
them and realized that another year was beginning, it stirred a little
heartache deep within her.
Aren't mothers funny? reflected Gyp as she and Jerry swung down
the street. They had preferred to walk.
Oh Jerry had to control her voice. I think they're
I meanthey're so fussy. When I have children I'm just
going to leave them plumb alone. I don't care what they'll look like.
You will, though, laughed Jerry. Because you'll love them. If our
mothers didn't love us so much I suppose they'd leave us alone. That
would be dreadful!
Jerry had slept very little the night before for anticipation. And
now that the great moment was approaching close she was obsessed by the
fear that she wouldn't know what to do. The fear grew very acute when
she was swept by Gyp into a crowd of noisy girls, all rushing for space
in the dressing-rooms. Then, at the ringing of a bell, she was hurried
with the others up the wide stairway. She caught a glimpse of Gyp
ahead, surrounded by chums, all trying to exchange in a brief moment
the entire summer's experiences. She looked wildly around for a
familiar face. She caught one little glimpse of Ginny Cox, who smiled
at her across a dozen heads, then rushed away with the others.
In the Assembly room a spirit of gaiety prevailed. The eager faces
of the boys and girls smiled at the faculty, sitting in prim rows on
the stage; the faculty smiled back. There was stirring music until the
last pupil had found her place. Then, just as Dr. Caton, the dignified
principal, rose to his feet, a boy whom Jerry from her corner
recognized as Dana King, leaped to the front, threw both arms wildly in
the air with a gesture that plainly commanded: Come on, fellows, and
the beamed ceiling rang with a lusty cheer.
Dr. Caton greeted the students with a few pleasant words. There were
more cheers, then everyone sang. Jerry thought it all very jolly. She
wondered if assembly was always like this. She recalled suddenly how
agitated poor Miss Sarah always became if there was the slightest noise
in that stuffy schoolroom, back at the Notch.
Lookthere's the new gym. teacheron the endBarbara Lee,
whispered Jerry's neighbor, excitedly.
Jerry looked with interest. In the entire faculty she had not found
anyone who resembled, even ever so slightly, poor Miss Sarah. Miller's
Notch, of course, had no gymnasium, therefore it had not needed any
gymnasium assistant. Jerry had imagined that a gym. teacher must,
necessarily, be a sort of young Amazon, with a strong, hard face. Miss
Lee was slender and looked like one of the schoolgirls.
It had always been the custom at Lincoln School, on the opening day,
to assign the new pupils to the care of the Seniors. These assignments
were posted on the bulletin boards. Jerry did not know this: she did
not know that Isobel Westley had been appointed her guardian. Before
assembly, Isobel had read her name on the lists and had promptly
declared: I just won't! Let her get along the best way she
can. So, when assembly was over, Jerry found herself drifting
helplessly, forlornly elbowed here and there, too shy to ask questions,
valiantly trying to beat down the desire to run away. She envied the
assurance with which the others, even the new girls, seemed to know
just where they ought to go. She had not laid eyes on Gyp after that
one fleeting glimpse on the stairs.
Suddenly a hand touched her arm and, turning, she found Barbara Lee
beside her. The kind smile on Miss Lee's face brought a little
involuntary quiver to her lips.
Lost, my dear?
II don't knowwhere
You are a new girl? What is your name?
Ohyes. Where is your guardian? As she spoke Miss Lee stepped to
the bulletin board that hung in the corridor. She read Isobel's name.
You were assigned to Isobel Westley. It is strange that she has
left you alone. Come to the library with me, Jerauld.
Jerry realized now why it had been so easy for all the other new
girls to find their placesthey had had guardians. She tried
to smother a little feeling of hurt because Isobel had deserted her.
The library, gloriously sunlit on this golden morning, was empty.
Miss Lee pulled two chairs toward a long table.
Sit here, Jerauld. Now tell me all about your other schoolso we
can place you. And she patted Jerry's hand in a jolly encouraging way.
It was very easy for Jerry to talk to Miss Lee. She told of the work
she had covered back at the Notch. Miss Lee listened with interest and,
knowing nothing of Jerry's home life and Jerry's mother, some
I believe you could go straight into the Junior class though
Oh, can't I be in Gyp's room? cried Jerry in dismay. Gyp
Westley, I mean. You see she's the only girl I know real well.
Barbara Lee, for all that she was trying to look very grown-up and
dignified, as a teacher should, could remember well how much it meant
in school life to be near one's chum. So she laughed, a laugh that
warmed Jerry's heart.
I thinkperhapsthat can be arranged, she said in a tone that
indicated that she would help. We will go to see Dr. Caton.
Even after the long consultation with Dr. Caton, Miss Lee did not
desert Jerry. As they walked away from the office, she whispered
assuringly to Jerry: Dr. Caton thinks you had better go into the Third
Form roomfor a term, at least. Accordingly she led her into one of
the smaller study rooms. And there was Gyp smiling and beckoning her to
an empty desk beside her. But Miss Lee took Jerry to her classrooms;
she introduced her to Miss Briggs, the geometry teacher, then to Miss
Gray of the English department, and on to the French room and to the
Ancient History classroom. Bewildered, Jerry answered countless
questions and registered her name over and over.
There, my dear, you're settled for this term, at least, declared
Miss Lee as they left the last classroom, Now go back to your
study-room and take that desk that Gyp Westley's saving for you.
Assigned to classes and with a desk of her ownand with Gyp close
at handJerry felt like a real Lincolnite and her unhappy shyness
vanished as though by magic. During the long recess that followed, the
bad half-hour forgotten, with a budding confidence born of her sense of
belonging, she sought the other new girls. Among them was Patricia
Everett, who came directly to Jerry.
I know you're Jerry Travis. I'm Aunt Pen Everett Allan's niece. I'm
crazy to go and visit Cobble Mountain. That's very near your home,
isn't it? So sincere was her interest that Jerry felt as though she
was suddenly surrounded by a wealth of friendship. Patricia seemed to
know everyone elsethey were nearly all Girl Scouts in her troop; she
introduced Jerry to so many girls that poor Jerry could not remember a
Ginny Cox, spying Jerry from across the room, bolted to her.
You're going to sign up for basketball, aren't you? Of course you
are. Wait right hereI'll call Mary Starr. She rushed away and before
Jerry could catch her breath she returned with a tall, pleasant-faced
girl who carried a small leather-bound notebook in her hand.
She wrote Jerry's name in it and went away.
Miss Travis, will you sign up for hockey? Jerry, on familiar
ground, eagerly assented to this. Her name went into another book.
Another girl waylaid her. She signed for swimming. She noticed that the
others around her were doing the same thing. Patricia brought a girl to
her whom she introduced as Peggy Lee. Peggy carried a notebook, too.
Will you sign up for the debating club, Miss Travis? she asked
with a dignity that was belied by her roguish eyes.
Jerry was quite breathless; she had never debated in her lifebut
then she had never played basketball either.
Oh, do sign. We're all joining and it's awfully exciting, pleaded
Patricia. So Jerry signed for the debates.
When_ever will I find time to study Latin and geometry? I know I'm
going to be dumb in that, cried Jerry, that evening, to the Westley
family. She spoke with such real conviction that everyone laughed.
Uncle Johnny had dropped in. He was as eager as though he was a
schoolboy, himself, to hear the children's experiences of the day.
Though they all talked at once, he managed to understand nearly all
that they were telling.
And you, Jerry-girl, what did you think of it all?
Because she had felt like one little drop in a very big puddle,
Jerry simply couldn't tell. But her eyes were shining. Gyp broke in.
Jerry could be a Junior if she wanted to, but she's going to stay in
my study-room for awhile. And they've signed her up for every single
Jerry, ignorant of Lincoln traditions, did not know that this was a
Then she had wondered when, with everything else, she would find
time for her Cicero and geometry.
Who you got? Speck-eyes?
Graham cried Mrs. Westley. I will not have you
speaking in that way of your teachers!
Graham colored; he knew that this was a point upon which his mother
had always been very firm.
Oh, Miss Briggs is all rightI like her, but all the
fellows call her that.
Do you suppose they'll nickname Miss Lee?
To Jerry it seemed that that would be sacrilegeshe was too
dear! Uncle John had, then, to hear all about her. He was much
interested, he had not realized that she was grown-up enough to teach.
But she really doesn't seem a bit so, Gyp explained.
Then quite suddenly Graham asked Jerry: Say, Jerry, who was your
Jerry's face turned very red. She caught a defiant look from Isobel.
She did not want to answer; even the ethics of the little school at
Miller's Notch had had no tolerance for a telltale.
Aa Senior. She couldn't find me.
Poor JerryGraham's careless inquiry had dimmed her enthusiasm. Why
hadn't Isobel found her? With the friendliness of spirit that was such
a part of the very atmosphere of Lincoln, why had Isobel, alone, stood
aloof? She looked at Isobelshe was so pretty now as she talked, with
animation, to Uncle Johnny. Jerry thought, as she watched her, that
she'd rather have Isobel love her than any of those other nice girls
she had met at HighacresPatricia Everett, Ginny Cox, Peggy Lee,
I'll just make her, she vowed, gathering up her shiny new
school-books. And that solemn vow was to help Jerry over many a rough
spot in the schooldays to come.
CHAPTER IX. THE SECRET DOOR
The routine of Jerry's new life shaped into pleasant ways. She felt
more like Jerry Travis and less like a dream-creature living in a
golden world she had brought around her by wishing on a wishing-rock.
She could not have found a moment in which to be homesick; twice a week
she wrote back to Sweetheart and Little-Dad long scrawly letters that
would have disgraced her in the eyes of Miss Gray of the English
department, but expressed such utter happiness and contentment that
Mrs. Travis, with a little regret, dismissed the fear that Jerry would
be lonely away from her and Sunnyside.
After the first week of school the girls and boys settled down to
what Graham called digging. Geometry looked less formidable to Jerry,
Cicero was like a beautiful old friend, Gyp was with her in English and
history, Ginny Cox was in one of her classes, too, and Jerry liked her
better each day. Patricia Everett was teaching her to play tennis until
basketball practice began.
There were the pleasant walks to and from school through the city
streets, whose teeming life never failed to fascinate Jerry; the jolly
recess, breaking the school session, when the girls gathered around the
long tables and ate their lunch; and then the afternoon's play on the
athletic field at Highacres.
Had old Peter Westley ever pictured, as he sat alone in his great
empty house, how Highacres would look after scores of young feet had
trampled over its velvety stretches? Perhaps he had liked that picture;
perhaps, to him, his halls were echoing even then to the hum of young
voices; perhaps he had felt that these young lives that would pass over
the threshold of the house he had built out into the world of men and
women would belong, in some way, to him who had never had a boy or
One afternoon Gyp and Jerry lingered in the school building to
prepare a history lesson from references they had to find in the
library. Gyp hated to study; the drowsy stillness of the room was
broken by the pleasant shouting from the playground outside. She threw
down her pencil and stretched her long arms.
Oh, goodness, Jerrylet's stop. We can ask mother all these
Jerry was quite willing to be tempted. She, too, had found it hard
to hold her attention to the Thirty-one Dynasties.
Gyp leaned toward her. I'll tell youlet's go exploring. There are
all the rooms in the back we've never seen.
During the past six months workmen had been rebuilding the rear wing
of Highacres into laboratories. The changes had not been completed. Gyp
and Jerry climbed over materials and tools and little piles of rubbish,
poking inquisitive noses into every corner. Now and then Gyp stopped to
ask a workman a few questions. They stumbled around in the basement
where in a few weeks there would be a very complete machine-shop and
carpentry room. Then they found a stairway that led to the upper floors
and scampered up it.
Oh, Jerry Travis, I wish you could see yourself, laughed
Gyp as they paused on the third floor.
Your face is dirty, too, Jerry retorted.
Isn't this fun? It doesn't seem a bit like school, does it? I
wonder if they're ever going to use these rooms. Let's play
hide-and-seek. I'll blind and count twenty and you hide and we mustn't
make a sound! which, you know, is a very hard thing to do when
one is playing hide-and-seek.
Gyp's charmand there was much charm in this lanky girllay in her
irrepressible spirits. Gyp was certainand every boy and girl of her
acquaintance knew itto find an opportunity for fun in the most
unpromising circumstances. No one but Gyp could have known what fun it
would be to play hide-and-seek in the halls and rooms of the third
floor of Highacresespecially when one had to step very softly and
bite one's lips to keep back any sound!
It was Jerry's turn to blind. She leaned her arm against the narrow
frame of a panel painting of George Washington that was set in the wall
at a turn in the corridor. As she rested her face against her arm she
felt the picture move ever so slightly under her pressure. Startled,
she stepped back. Slowly, as though pushed by an invisible hand, the
panel swung out into the corridor.
Gyp cried Jerry so sharply that Gyp appeared from her
hiding-place in a twinkling. Lookwhat I did! Jerry felt as though
the entire building might slowly and sedately collapse around her.
For goodness' sake, cried Gyp, staring. She swung the panel out.
It's a door! Jerry Travis, it's a secret door! She put
her head through the narrow opening. Jerry she reached back an
eager hand. Lookit's a stairwaya secret stairway!
Jerry put her head in. Enough light filtered through a crack above
so that the girls could make out the narrow winding steps. They were
very steep and only broad enough for one person to squeeze through.
Come on, Jerry, let's
Gyp, you don't know where it'll take you Jerry suddenly
remembered their poor princess in her dungeon.
Sillynothing could hurt us! Come on. Close the panelthere, like
that. I'll go first. She led the way, Jerry tiptoeing gingerly behind
The door at the top gave under Gyp's push and to their amazement the
girls found themselves in the tower room.
It was a square room with a sloping ceiling and narrow windows;
there was nothing in the least unusual about it. Gyp and Jerry looked
about them, vaguely disappointed. It might have been, with its litter
of old furniture, chests of books, piles of magazines and papers, an
attic room in any house. The October sunshine filtered in thin bars
through the dust-stained windows, cobwebs festooned themselves
fantastically overhead. The opening that led to the secret stairway
appeared, on the inside of the room, to be a built-in bookcase on the
shelves of which were now piled an assortment of hideous bric-a-brac
which Mrs. Robert Westley had refused to take into her own home.
Well, it's fun, anyway, just having the secret stairway, decided
Gyp, scowling at what she mentally called the junk about her. Why
do you suppose Uncle Peter had it built in?
Jerry could offer no explanation.
Hadn't we ought to tell someone?
Gyp scorned the thoughtpart with their precious secretlet
everybody know that that imposing portrait of George Washington hid a
secret door? Why, even mother and Uncle Johnny couldn't know itit
was their very own secret!
I should say not. At least she added, not for awhile.
I guess I'm a Westley and I have a right to come up here. Which
argument sounded very convincing to Jerry.
Oh, I have the grandest idea, Gyp dragged Jerry to the faded
window-seat and plumped down upon it so hard that it sent a little
cloud of dust about them. Let's get up a secret societylike the
horrid old Sphinxes.
Fraternities and sororities were not allowed in Lincoln School, but
from time to time there had sprung up secret bands of boys and girls,
that held together by irrevealable ties for a little while, then passed
into school history. One of these was the Sphinxes. They were
annoyingly mysterious and dark rumors were current that their antics,
if known, would not meet, in the least, the approval of the Lincoln
faculty. Isobel was a Sphinx, most faithful to her vows, so that all
the teasing and bribing that Graham's and Gyp's fertile brains could
contrive, failed to drag one tiny truth from her.
Of course Jerry had been at Lincoln long enough to know all about
the Sphinxes. And she knew, too, that Gyp meant to suggest a society
that would be like the Sphinxes only in that it was secret. She could
not be one of that Third Form study-room without sharing the general
scorn of the Sophomores for the Senior Sphinxes.
We can meet up here, you seeonce a week. And let's have it a
secret society that'll stand ready to serve Lincoln with their very
liveslike those secret bands of men in the Southafter the Civil
Jerry declared, of course, that Gyp's suggestion was wonderful.
We'll have a real initiation when we'll all swear our allegiance to
Lincoln School forever and ever and we'll have spreads and it'll be
such fun making every one wonder where we meet. And we'll have terribly
What'll we call it? asked Jerry, ashamed that she could offer
nothing to the plan.
Let's call it the Ravens and Serpentsthat sounds so awful and we
won't be at all. And a crawly snake is such a dreadful symbol and it's
easy to draw. Gyp's brain worked at lightning pace in its initiative.
What girls shall we ask?
Gyp rattled off a number of names. They were all girls who were in
the Third Form study-room.
Can't we ask Ginny Cox?
Gyp considered. No, she answered decidedly. She'd be fun but
she's too chummy with Mary Starr and Mary Starr's a Sphinx. We can't
Gyp was right, of course, Jerry thought, but she wished Ginny Cox
might be invited to join.
Let's go down now. Oh, won't it be fun? Swear, Jerauld Travis, that
burning irons won't drag our secret from you!
Nothing will make me tell, promised Jerry. They stole down the
stairway, moved George Washington carefully back into place, tiptoed to
the main floor and out into the sunshine.
Thus did the secret order of the Ravens and Serpents have its
birth. Gyp assembled various symbols, impressive in their terribleness,
that, during the study hours of the next day, conveyed, with the help
of whispered explanations and a violent exchange of notes, invitations
to six other girls to join the new order. And after the close of school
eight pupils elected to remain indoors, ostensibly to study; eight
heads bent diligently over the long oak table in the library until a
safe passage into the deserted halls above was assured. Then Gyp and
Jerry led the new Ravens to the secret door where, in a sepulchral
whisper, Gyp extracted a solemn promise from each that she would not
divulge the secret of the hidden stairway. One by one, quite breathless
with excitement, they climbed to the tower room where Gyp with
ridiculous solemnity called to order the first assembly of the Ravens
and Serpents of Lincoln School.
[Illustration: ONE BY ONE, QUITE BREATHLESS WITH EXCITEMENT, THEY
CLIMBED TO THE TOWER ROOM]
All the Ravens agreed with Gyp that their secret society must pledge
itself to protect and serve the spirit of Lincoln; then, having
disposed of that they fell, eagerly, to discussing plans for spreads.
Let's take turns bringing eats.
How often shall we meet?
Let's meet every Wednesday. Melodia always makes tarts on Tuesday
and maybe I can coax her to make some extra ones, offered Patricia
And the dancing class is in the gym. then and no one will notice
We ought to have knives and forks and things like a regular club!
And a president and a secretary.
I ought to be president. Gyp's tone was final.
The other Ravens assented amicably. Of course you ought to be. And
Jerry can be secretary because she helped find this spliffy room.
Girls, at the next meeting let's each bring a knife, fork, spoon,
plate and cup.
Oh, won't it be fun? A Raven pirouetted on her toes in a
most unparliamentary and unbird-like fashion.
Pat and I'll bring the eats next Wednesday, declared Peggy. Some
one has to start.
If we've decided everything we have to decide this meeting's
adjourned, and without further formal procedure Gyp summarily brought
to an end the first meeting of the Ravens. After a merry half-hour they
tiptoed down the secret stairway, George Washington went back into his
place on the wall and the eight girls scattered, each to her own home,
with hearts that were fairly bursting with excitement.
That evening at the dinner table Gyp, very obviously, made a secret
sign to Jerry. She brought one hand, with a little downward, spiral
movement, to rest upon the other hand, the first two fingers of each
Oh! Oh! That's a secret sign you made, cried Tibby.
Well, maybe it is, answered Gyp, putting her spoon in her soup
with assumed indifference.
Some silly girls' society, I'll bet, put in Graham with a
Gyp had passed beyond the age when Graham's teasing could disturb
her. She smiled to show how little she minded his words.
You'll know, my dear brother, sometime, whether we're silly
or not, she answered with beautiful dignity. We're not a
society that's organized just for fun! Which was, of course, a
slap at the Sphinxes. Isobel roused suddenly to an active interest in
You're just copy-cats, she declared, with a withering scorn that
brought Graham to Gyp's defence.
No wonder Jerry never found a moment in the Westley home dull!
You needn't think, he shot across the table at Isobel,
that 'cause you have waves in your hair you're the whole ocean!
Funny little boy, Isobel retorted, trying hard to hold back her
anger. Mother, I should think you'd make Graham stop using his horrid
That's not slangthat's idiotmatic English, added Graham,
smiling mischievously at his mother. He chuckled. You should have
heard Don Blacke in geom. class to-day. He got up and said: 'Two
triangles are equal if two sides and the included angle of one are
equal respectfully to two sides,' and when we all laughed he got
sore as a cat!
CHAPTER X. THE DEBATE
Gypwhat do you think has happened? Jerry frantically
clutched Gyp's arm as they met outside of the study-room door. Jerry
did not wait for Gyp to think. My name's been drawn for the
debatethis Friday night! Miss Gray just told me. I'm taking Susan
Jerry had wanted sympathy. Not fun at all! I am scared to death.
A bell rang and Gyp scampered off to her classroom, leaving Jerry to
go to her desk, sit down and contemplate with a heavy heart the task
that lay before her. She had never so much as spoken a piece in her
life; since coming to Highacres she had listened, with fascination, to
the weekly discussion of current topics, envying the ease with which
the boys and girls of the room contributed to it. She had wondered
whether she could ever grow so accustomed to large groups of people as
to be able to talk before them. Now Miss Gray, waving in her face the
little pink slip that had done all the damage, was driving her to the
However, there had been a great deal in Jerry's simple childhood,
spent on the trails of Kettle Mountain, that had given to her an
indomitable courage for any challenge. Real fearthat horrible funk
that turns the staunchest heart cowardly, Jerry had never knownwhat
she had sometimes called fear had been only the little heartquake of
Once, when she was twelve years old, she had ventured to climb Rocky
Point, alone, in search of the first arbutus of the year. Spring had
come to the lower slopes of the mountain but its soft hand was just
breaking the upper crusts of ice and snow. As she climbed up the trail
a deep rumble warned her that a snowslide was approaching. She had only
the briefest moment to decide what to doif she retraced her steps she
must surely be overtaken! Near her was a tall crag of rock that jutted
out from the wooded slope of the trail; on this she might be safe. With
desperate haste she climbed it and, as she clung to its rough surface,
tons of ice and snow thundered past her, shaking her stronghold,
uprooting the smaller trees, piling in fantastic shapes against the
sturdier. As Jerry watched it had been fascination, not terror, that
had caught the breath in her throat; she had not recognized the threat
of Death; she had glimpsed only the picture of her beloved Kettle
angrily shaking old Winter from his mighty shoulders.
So, as Jerry sat there in the study-room, her frowning eyes focussed
on a spot straight ahead of her, her spirit slowly rose to meet the
challenge of the debate. These others had all had to live through their
first, ease had come to them only with practice, she reminded
It was pleasantly exciting, too, to be surrounded, after school, by
a group of interested schoolmates, each with a suggestion.
Just keep your hands tight behind your back, offered one.
I 'most choked to death in one debate, recalled Peggy Lee,
laughing. I had a cough-drop in my mouth to make my voice smooth and
when it came my turn I was so scared I couldn't swallow it and there I
had to talk with that thing in my cheek, and every minute or two it'd
get out and 'most strangle me! Oh, it was dreadful. I don't believe
that story about Demosthenes and the pebble.
I'd get some famous orator's speeches and practice 'em. It makes
what you say sound grand!
Don't look at anybodyjust keep your eyes way up, declared
Pat Everett, whose experience went no farther than reciting four French
verses before a room full of fond parents, at Miss Prindle's
All of this advice Jerry took solemnly to heart. Gyp volunteered to
help her. Gyp was far more concerned that she should practice the arts
of oratory than that she should build up convincing arguments for her
side of the question. From the Westley library Gyp dug out a volume of
Famous Speeches by Famous Men. Curled in the deep rocker in Jerry's
room she searched its pages.
Listen, Jerryisn't this grand? 'Let us pause, friends, let us
feel the fluttering of the heart that preceded the battle, let us hear
the order to advance, let us behold the wild charge, the glistening
bayonets, the rushing horses, the blinding'
But, Gyp, that's nothing about the Philippine Islands!
Of course notat least all that about the horses and the
bayonetsbut you could say, 'Let us pause' and wave your
handlike this! Here, he's used it again, her finger traced another
line, it sounds splendid; soso sort ofcalm.
Jerry pounced upon anything that might sound calm. So, after she
had compiled arguments that must convince her listeners that the
Philippine Islands should be given their independence, she tried them
out behind carefully-closed doors, with Gyp as a stern and relentless
Wave your hand out when you say: 'Let us pause and
consider' Oh, that's splendid! Try it again Jerryslower. You're
going to be great! Gyp's loyal enthusiasm strengthened Jerry's
There was for her, too, an added inspiration in the fact that Uncle
Johnny was to be one of the judges. She wanted to do her very best
for him. As the school weeks had flown by, each full of joys that Jerry
could realize more than any of the other girls and boys, her gratitude
toward John Westley had grown to such proportions that she ached for
some splendid opportunity to serve him. She had told Gyp, one day, that
she wished she might save his life in some way (preferably, of course,
with the sacrifice of her own), but as Uncle Johnny seemed
extraordinarily careful in front of automobiles and street cars, as the
Westley home was too fireproof to admit of any great fire and there
could not be, in November, any likelihood of a flood, poor Jerry pined
vainly for her great opportunity. Once, when she had tried to tell
Uncle Johnny, shyly, something of how she felt, he had drawn her
affectionately to him.
Jerry-girl, you're doing enough right here for my girls to pay me
back for anything I have done. Which Jerry could not understand at
all. She could not know that only the evening before Mrs. Westley had
told Uncle Johnny how Gyp and Tibby had both moved their desks into
Jerry's room, and had added:
Gyp and Tibby never quarrel since Jerry came. She has a way of
smoothing everything overit's her sunniness, I think. Gyp is less
hasty and headstrong and Tibby isn't the cry-baby she was.
The day before the debate Isobel asked Jerry to show her the
arguments she had prepared.
Perhaps I can add some notes that will help you, she explained
Poor Jerry went into a flutter of joy over Isobel's apparent
interest. She ran to her room and took from her desk the sheets of
paper upon which were neatly written each step of her argument. She
hoped Isobel would think them good.
May I look over them in school? Isobel asked as she took them.
Jerry would have consented to anything! All through that day her
heart warmed at the thought of Isobel's friendliness. Like a small
cloud across the happiness of her life at the Westleys had been the
consciousness that Isobel disliked her; Gyp was her shadow, Tibby her
adoring slave, between her and Graham was the knowledge that they two
shared Pepper's loyalty, Mrs. Westley gave her exactly the same
mothering she gave her own girls, but Isobel, through all the weeks,
had maintained a covert indifference and coldness that hurt more than
sharp words. NowJerry told herselfIsobel must like her a little
Jerry discovered, when Friday night came, that the Lincoln debates
were popular events in the school life. Every girl and boy of Lincoln
attended; on the platform the faculty made an imposing background for
the three judges. Six empty chairs were placed, three on each side, for
the debaters who were to come up upon the stage at the finish of the
violin solo that opened the program.
In the back of the room Cora Stanton, a Senior, stood with Jerry and
the boy who made up the affirmative side of the debate. Cora was
prettily dressed in blue taffeta, with a yellow rose carelessly
fastened in her belt. Her hair had been crimped and Jerry caught a
whiff of perfume. Then she glimpsed a trim little foot thrust out the
better to show a patent leather pump and a blue silk stocking. For the
first time since she had come to Highacres, Jerry grew conscious of her
own appearance. Over her, in a hot wave of mortification, swept the
realization of what a ridiculous figure she would present, walking up
before everybody in her brown poplin that she knew now was different
from any other dress she had seen at school. And Jerry could not get
that shiny pump out of her mind! Her own feet, in their sturdy black,
square-toed shoes, commenced to assume such elephantine proportions
that, when the signal came for the debaters to go forward, she could
scarcely drag them along!
How much more weighty could her arguments be if she only had on a
pretty dresslike Cora Stanton's; if she could only sit there in her
chair smilinglike Cora Stantondown at the girls she knew instead of
crossing and uncrossing her dreadful feet!
After an interval that seemed endless to Jerry, Cora Stanton rose
and made a graceful little bow, first to the judges, then to the
audience. The speakers had agreed among themselves how much ground in
the argument each should cover; Cora Stanton was to outline the
conditions in the Philippine Islands before the United States had taken
them over, Jerry was to show what the United States had done and how
qualified the Islands were, now, to govern themselves, and Stephen
Curtiss was to conclude the argument for the affirmative by proving
that, in order to maintain a safe balance of power among the eastern
nations of the world it was necessary that the Philippine Islands
should be self-governing.
A hush followed the burst of applause that greeted Cora. Jerry
settled back in her chair with something like reliefthe thing had
begun. She caught a little smile from Uncle Johnny that gave her
courage. She must listen carefully to what Cora said.
But as Cora, prettily at ease, began speaking, in a clear voice,
Jerry grew rigid, paralyzed by the storm of amazement, unbelief and
anger that surged over her. For Cora Stanton was presenting, word for
word, the arguments she had prepared and written on those sheets of
And in the very front row sat Isobel, with Amy Mathers, their
handkerchiefs wadded to their lips to keep back their laughter.
It was very easy for poor Jerry to recognize the treachery. She was
too angry to feel hurt. And, more than anything, she was too
confusedfor, when it came her turn, what was she going to say?
Wildly she searched her mind for something clear and coherent on the
hideous subject and all that would come was Gyp's let us pauselet us
feel the fluttering of the heart that preceded the battle, let us hear
the order to advancethe wild charge
She did not hear one word that the first speaker on the negative
side uttered, but the clapping that followed brought her to a pitiful
She rose to her feet, somehowthose feet of hers still twice their
sizeand stepped out toward the edge of the platform. A thousand spots
of black and white that were eyes and noses and hats danced before her;
she heard a suppressed titter from the front row. Then, out of it all
came Gyp's strained face. Gyp was leaning a little forward, anxiously.
Jerry gulped convulsively. From somewhere a voice, not in the least
like her own, began: You have been shown what the United States has
done (no, noCora Stanton had said that!) I mean we must go
back (that was quite new) toI meanthe ideals of America have been
transplanted to (oh, Cora Stanton had said that)! Jerry
choked. Out of the horror strained Gyp's agonized face. She lifted her
chin, she must say something
Let us pause (ah, familiar ground at last)let us pause There
was a dreadful silence. Let us pause andandlet us pause
With the last word all power of speech died in Jerry's throat! With
a convulsive movement she rushed back to her seat. If they'd only
laughthat crowd out there in the room. But that silence
Then, before anyone could stir, Dana King, the second speaker on the
negative side, leaped to his feet with a burst of oratory that was
obviously for the sole purpose of distracting attention from poor
Jerry. And something in the good nature of his act, in his reckless
wandering from the subject of the debate to gain his end, won
everyone's admiration. As one wakes from a consuming nightmare so poor
Jerry roused from her stupor of ignominy; she forgot Isobel, in the
front row, and clapped with the others when Dana King finished.
Then came a determination to redeem herself in the rebuttal! She had
caught something of the fire of Dana King's tone. She was conscious,
now, of only two persons in the room, Gyp and Uncle Johnny. She turned,
as she rose again to speak, so that she might look squarely at Uncle
Johnny. Now she had no clamor of words jingling in her brain; very
simply she set against the arguments of her opponent the full weight of
those she had herself preparedCora Stanton, who had learned them at
the last moment, parrot-fashion, had found herself, in rebuttal, left
floundering quite helplessly.
Dana King, speaking again, referred to the convincing way Miss
Travis had cleverly upset the arguments of the negative side, leaving
him only one premise to fall back uponand Jerry had decided then,
with something akin to worship, that he was the very nicest boy she had
ever, ever known.
There was tumultuous applause when the judges announced that the
affirmative had won. And there was a little grumbling that Dana King
had sold his side.
Jerry, wanting to hide her ignominy, contrived to get away without
seeing Uncle Johnny. She could not, of course, escape Gyp, who declared
valiantly and defiantly that she had been splendid.
Gyp had not closely followed Cora Stanton's address, so she had not
guessed the truth, and Jerry could not tell herJerry could not tell
anyone. For, if she did, it must be traced to Isobel, and Isobel was
Uncle Johnny's niece. At that very moment Uncle Johnny was talking,
down in the front of the Assembly room, to Isobel and Amy Mathers, and
he stood with one arm thrown over Isobel's shoulder.
But, alone in her own room, the pent-up passion that had been
searing poor Jerry's soul burst; with furious fingers she tore off the
brown poplin dress and threw it into a corner.
Uglyhorridhideousoldthing! I hate it! It was not,
of course, the brown poplin alone she hated! The offending shoes
followed the brown dress. I hate everything about me! I wishI
wishto-morrow would never come! I wish Jerry threw herself face
downward upon her bed. I wish Iwashome!
CHAPTER XI. AUNT MARIA
A letter from Aunt Maria, announced Graham, appearing at the door
of his mother's little sitting room, a large, square lavender envelope
in his hand. He carried it gingerly between a thumb and finger, and as
far as he could from his upturned nose, I'd suggest, mother, that you
put on my gas-mask before you open it!
Gyp and Tibby laughed uproariously at his wit. Mrs. Westley reached
for the envelope.
Poor Aunt Maria, she must be so glad that the war is over and she
can get her favorite French sachet.
Isobel perched herself upon the arm of her mother's chair.
Hurry, read it, mother.
I'll bet she's coming to visit us, groaned Gyp.
Don't expect us to throw away money, sis! She never writes 'cept
when she is coming. Break the news, mum; is it to be a little
stay of a year or more?
Mrs. Westley lifted laughing eyes from the open letter.
She says she will come next Wednesday to spend a few days with us.
She is very sorry that that must be allshe is on her way to New York
to consult a famous nerve specialist. She sends love to 'the beautiful
Jerry was very curiousno one had ever mentioned an Aunt Maria! So
Gyp and Graham hastened to explain that Aunt Maria wasn't a real
aunt but was only Isobel's godmother and something of a nuisanceto
the younger Westleys.
She doesn't give us presents, Graham concluded.
She's forgotten all the things she 'did promise and vow' when
Isobel was baptized. She had a fad, then, for godchildren; she used to
go around picking out the girl babies who had blue eyes. She was a
friend of Grandmother Duncan's and mother couldn't refuse her. She has
nine altogether and always gives them the same things.
And every time you see her she has a new fad, added Graham. Once
she was a suffragist but she switched because the suffs didn't serve
tea at their meetings and the antis did. One time she was building a
home for Friendless Females and another time she was organizing the
poor underpaid shop girls, and the next
Mother, listen, broke in Isobel. She had taken the letter from her
mother and had been re-reading it. She says she's going to France next
spring and she's thinking about taking one of her godchildren with her.
She's studying French and she wants us to talk French to her while she
Well, I guess not! I'll eat in the kitchen, vowed
Gyp commenced to chuckle. Let's say a whole lot of funny things in
Frenchlike when Sue Perkins translated 'the false teeth of the young
man' and Mademoiselle sent her out of class.
Mother! Isobel's brain was working rapidly. I ought to be
the goddaughter she picks out. She did not consider it necessary to
explain to her family the process of reasoning by which the other eight
were eliminated. Wouldn't it be wonderful? But her beautiful vision
was threatened by the mischief written in every line of Gyp's and
Graham's faces. Mother, won't you make the children promise to
Children snorted Graham.
if they act dreadful the way they always do when Aunt Maria's
here, they'll spoil all my chances! Isobel was sincerely distressed.
My dear, her mother laughed. Don't build your castles in
Spainor Francequite so fast. I am not sure I would let you
go over with Aunt Maria. But Gyp and Graham must promise to be very
nice to Aunt Maria because she is an old lady
But, mother, she's not exactly old; she's justfunny!
Anyway, Gyp, she will be our guest.
Make them promise, mother
Oh, you're just thinking of yourself declared Graham.
Children, let's not spoil this Saturday by worrying over Aunt
Maria. Even though, sometimes, she is very trying, I know each one of
you will help make her visit pleasant and we'll overlook her little
oddities. Who wants to drive down to the market with me?
Gyp and Jerry begged eagerly to go; Tibby had to take a swimming
lesson; Graham was going out to Highacres to practice football; Isobel
said she preferred to stay home; one of the girls had promised to
call up, she explained, a little evasively.
Mrs. Westley smothered the tiniest of sighs behind a smile; Isobel
was living so apart from the rest of the family, she never seemed, now,
to want to share the activities of the others. Her mother had always
enjoyed, so much, taking her biggest girl everywhere with her; she had
not believed that the time could come when Isobel would refuse to go.
Driving through the city with Jerry and Gyp beside her, Mrs.
Westley, still thinking of Isobel, turned suddenly to Jerry.
How your mother must miss you, dear, she said. Jerry
Oh, do you think so? she answered, anxiously.
I meanI was just thinkingmother love is such a hungry
Well Jerry, very thoughtful, tried to recall the exact words
her mother had once used. When I was little, mother used to tell me a
story. She said that her heart was a little garden with a very high
wall built of love and that I lived there, as happy as could be, for
the sun was always shining and everything was bright and the wall kept
away all the horrid things. But there was a gate in the wall with a
latch-way high up; I had to grow big before I could lift the latch and
go through the walland she made lovely flowers grow over the little
gate, too, so that perhaps I might not find it! I always liked the
story, but once I asked mother what she'd do if I found the gate and
went out of the garden for just a little while and she answered me that
the garden would be very quiet, but the sun would go on shining because
our love was there. Now I'm older I think I understand the story, and
maybe coming here was like going through the gate. But if it is
like the story, then mother knows how much I love her, so she won't be
dreadfully lonelyonly a little bit, maybe.
What a beautiful story, Mrs. Westley's eyes glistened. I would
like to hear her tell it! Some day I want to know your mother, Jerry.
That was such a pleasant thoughther dear mother meeting Mrs.
Westley, who was almost as nice as her motherthat Jerry's face grew
bright again. She answered the pressure of Mrs. Westley's fingers with
an affectionate squeeze.
Except for the first dreadful ordeal of facing her schoolmates and
the hurt of Isobel's unkindness, Jerry had suffered little from the
ignominy of the debate. And she had found that the girls, instead of
laughing at her, envied her because Dana King had so gallantly come to
You should have seen Isobel Westley's faceshe was furious, Ginny Cox had confided to her. And Jerry would not have been human if
she had not felt a momentary thrill of satisfied revenge.
The attention of the younger Westleys was centered, during the
intervening days, on Aunt Maria's approaching visit. Isobel was much
disturbed over the dire hints which Gyp and Graham dropped at different
times. One of Graham's friends had a pet snake and Graham had asked to
borrow it just over Wednesday.
It'll strengthen her nerves better'n any old doctor, Graham
Mother, do you hear them appealed Isobel, almost in
Isobel had been building for herself a rosy dream; she had even,
casually, told a few of the girls at school that in June I'm going
abroad with my godmother, Mrs. Cornelius Drinkwateryou know her
mother was a second cousin to the Marquis of Balencourt and the family
has a beautiful château near Nice. Of course we'll stay there part of
the time A very little fib like that, Isobel had decided, could
hurt no one! She had lain awake at night, staring into the
half-darkness of her room, picturing herself sauntering beside Aunt
Maria through long hotel corridors, to the Opera, to the little French
shops, driving beside Aunt Maria through the Bois de Boulogne and
walking on the Champs Élysées, admired everywhere, envied, too. And
perhaps, through Aunt Maria's relatives (it was very easy in the dark
to pretend that there was a Marquis of Balencourt) she might
meet a handsome, dashing young Frenchman who would go quite crazy about
her, and it would be such fun writing home to the girls
Graham, and Mrs. Westley made her voice very stern. You must not
play a single trick on Aunt Maria!
But, mother, she may stay on and on
If you'll be very good, Mrs. Westley blushed a little, for she
knew she was buying her children, while Aunt Maria's here I'll take
you all to see 'The Land o'Dreams.'
We promise! We promise! came in an eager assent.
I'll tell Joe I don't want his snake, said Graham.
I won't laugh all the while she's here, declared Gyp.
We'll be angelic, mother, they chorused, and they really meant it.
Aunt Maria's arrival, an hour before dinner, was nothing short of
majestic. The taxi-driver (by a slight effort of the imagination easily
transformed into a uniformed lackey) unloaded a half-dozen bags and
boxes; next there alighted from the taxi a trim little maid in black
with a rug over her arm, a hamper in one hand, a square leather box,
books and magazines in the other. Then, by degrees, Aunt Maria emerged,
first a purple hat, covered with nodding purple plumes, then a very red
face, turned haughtily away from the driver, whom she was calling
robber; yards and yards of purple velvet hung and swished about her,
while a wide ermine mantle, set about her shoulders, added the royal
touch without which the picture would have been spoiled!
Isn't she gor-ge-ous? whispered Gyp to Jerry as they peeped
over Mrs. Westley's shoulder.
Jerry thought Aunt Maria very grandshe was like the picture of the
Duchess in her old Alice in Wonderland, only much more regal. It seemed
to her that the entire Westley family should bow their heads to the
floorinstead Mrs. Westley was embracing the purple and ermine in the
most informal sort of a way!
such a traina disgrace to the government, but
then the government is going all to pieces, I believe! And that
miserable robber of a taxi man! Mon Dieu! She suddenly
remembered her French, Ma chere amie Beaux Infants! She sputtered her
newly-acquired phrases with little guttural accents. She beamed upon
them all, graciousness (as became a duchess) in every nod of the purple
plumes. With the tips of her fat, jeweled fingers she touched Isobel's
cheek. Plus jolie que jamais, ma chere!
Nous sommes si heureux de vous avoir ici, chere Aunt Maria,
answered Isobel, falteringly.
Aunt Marie, my dear. I have forsaken the good name that was
given to me in baptism. One must keep apace with the times, and
though Maria might be good enough for my greatgrandmother, my parents
did not foresee that it was scarcely suitable for me! The
purple folds swelled visibly. Peregrine, carry my bags upstairs.
That was plainly more than one Peregrine could do. It was the
welcome signal for a general movementnone too soon; one glance at Gyp
and Graham told that a moment more must have broken their pretty
Peregrine took one bag, Graham seized two, Gyp and Jerry tugged one
between them. The procession marched up the stairway to the guest-room.
Gyp and Jerry heard Aunt Maria, behind them, explaining that
Peregrine's name was really Sarah!
I changed itPeregrine is so much more 'chic.' I'm teaching her
French myself; in a little while she'll pass as a French maid and she
will have all the plain common-sense of her Hoosier bringing-up which
those fly-by-night French maids don't. A very good arrangement
Thereafter, Peregrine, to the girls, was always Peregrine-Sarah.
Mrs. Westley, at dinner, looking down the table at the prim, sober
faces of her youngsters, had an irresistible desire to laugh. Graham's
solemn eyes were glued to his plate, Gyp, spotlessly groomed, spoke
only in hoarse whispers, Jerry looked a little frightenedwhat would
she do if the Duchess should speak to her. (Not that there was
much danger; Aunt Maria, except for a from the wilds of our mountains,
how interesting, had scarcely noticed her.) Isobel sat next to Aunt
Maria and was nervously attentive.
Aunt Maria was more duchessy than ever in her dinner dress. Jewels
shone in the great puff of snowy hair that lay like a crown about her
head. (Graham had always wanted to poke his finger into this marvel to
see if it would burst and flatten like a toy balloon.) Jewels shone in
the laces of her dress and on her fingers. She sat very straight, as
even a make-believe duchess should, and led the conversation. To do so
was very easy, for everyone agreed with everything she said, remarked
Isobel with pathetic enthusiasm. Behind her smile Mrs. Westley was
thinking that Maria Drinkwater was a very silly woman!
Aunt Maria spent most of her time berating the government. That
was why, she explained, she was going to France. The officials in
Washington were just sitting there letting everything go to the dogs!
Look at the prices! We're being robbed by Laboractually
robbed, every moment of our lives! She clasped her hands and rolled
her eyes tragically upward. A crêpe de chine chemisehardly good
enough for Peregrinefifteen dollars! And Congress just talking
about the League of Nations! Ah, mon Dieu!
Graham, catching a fleeting glint of laughter in his mother's eyes,
slowly and solemnly winked, then dropped his glance back to his plate.
Let's say we have to study, whispered Gyp to Jerry, when the
family moved toward the library. Even Graham welcomed the suggestion.
As they approached Aunt Maria to say good-night, she poked each in the
Not going to wait to have coffee with us? So sensibleit
hurts the complexion! Nice children! Bon soir, Editha. Bon soir,
Elizabeth. What's your name, child? Jerauld? A nice name.
Bon soir, Graham!
She's the only creature in the whole world that calls me Editha and
Tibby Elizabeth, cried Gyp disgustedly. That's why I just
can't endure her!
Safe in Jerry's room, Gyp cast off her company manner by a series
of somersaults on the pink-and-white bed.
Hurray, Jerry, we needn't see her again until to-morrow night! That
Peregrine-Sarah will take her breakfast up on a tray. Wasn't Isobel
funny, trying to be a nice little goddaughter? For goodness' sake,
For there was a wild rush through the hall, then sharp shrieks from
Out of consideration for Aunt Maria, Pepperpot had been shut on the
third floor. He would have found the separation from his beloved master
and mistress most irksome if he had not discovered, on Graham's table,
the box of white mice which Graham had brought from the garage during
the afternoon. To pass the time Pepper amused himself by tormenting the
imprisoned mice. When Graham startled him at his pleasant occupation he
jumped so hurriedly from the table that he sent the box tumbling to the
floor. The fall broke the box; the poor mice, mad to escape from their
persecutor, went scampering down the stairs and through the hall,
Pepper in pursuit and Graham frantically trying to catch them all. Of
course the chase led straight to the library!
Aunt Maria, at the startling interruption, dropped a precious vase
she had been examining to the floor, where it lay in a hundred pieces.
With a shriek and an amazing agility she climbed to the safety of the
davenport. The mice circled the room and fled through another door,
Pepper and Graham after them. In the pantry Graham caught Pepper; Mrs.
Hicks, aided by her broom, succeeded in capturing two of the mice, but
the third escaped. Gyp and Jerry listening from the banisters, their
hands clapped over their mouths to suppress their laughter, heard
Isobel and Mrs. Westley in the library, trying to quiet poor Aunt
We didn't promise we'd make Pep behave, grumbled Graham as
they shut Pepperpot, for punishmentand protectionin Jerry's clothes
An hour later Jerry heard Isobel, outside of the guest-room door,
bidding Aunt Maria good-night. Jerry thought that she did not blame
Isobel for wanting to go abroad with Aunt Maria; it would be very
wonderful to travel with such a fine lady and with Peregrine! She hoped
Pepper had not spoiled everything!
Quiet settled over the Westley home. A door opened and shut and
uncertain footsteps came down the hall. Jerry, half asleep, thought it
must be the faithful and sensible Peregrine-Sarah, groping her way to
the third floor after having put the Duchess to bed. Then, across the
quiet pierced the wildest shriekinga shrieking that brought back a
frightened Peregrine-Sarah, Graham, leaping in two bounds down the
stairway, Isobel, Mrs. Westley, Gyp and Jerry to the guest-room door!
In the middle of the room, her hands clasped tragically over her
heart, her mouth open for another shriek, stood Aunt Maria, trembling.
Stripped of her regal trappings she made an abject picture; the snowy
puff lay on her bureau and from under a nightcap, now sadly awry,
straggled wisps of yellow-gray hair. Her round body was warmly clad in
a humble flannelette nightdress, high-necked and long-sleeved. And,
strangest of all, her face was covered with squares and strips of
Sarah! (It was not Peregrine now.) Stupidstanding there
like an idiotmy smelling salts! Won't anyone call a
doctor? My heart She shrieked again. This miserable place!
Maria Drinkwater, will you calm yourself enough to tell us what has
happened? Mrs. Westley shook ever so slightly the flanneletted
Happened snapped Aunt Maria. Is it not enough
to have my digestion spoiled by dogs and mice and boys butoh, my poor
heart, to find a mouse under my pillow
If the children had not been struck quite dumb by Aunt Maria's
grotesque face, with its wrinkles, they must surely have shouted aloud!
The third little mouse had sought refuge in Aunt Maria's bed!
Peregrine-Sarah and Mrs. Westley spent most of the night ministering
vainly to Aunt Maria's nerves. The next day, unforgiving, she departed,
bag and baggage.
Poor Isobel, thus burst the pretty bubble of her dreams! I don't
care, they've spoiled my whole life, she wailed, tears reddening her
Who spoiled itwho did anything? laughed Graham.
What's this all about? asked Uncle Johnny coming in at that
Gyp told him what had happened. She talked too fast to permit of any
interruption; her story was Gyp-like.
You say, Uncle Johnny, did we break our promise just
'cause a poor little mouse hid under her pillow?
If it hadn't been for that miserable dog Isobel saw an
opportunity for sweet revenge. Mother, why don't you send it away? You
made Graham give back that Airedale puppy Mr. Saunders sent him; I
don't think it's fair to keep this horrid old mongrel!
Jerry's face darkened. Graham came hotly to Pepper's rescue.
He's not a mongrelhe's better'n any old Airedale!
He's got more sense in his tail than Aunt Maria's got in her
whole body! If he goes I'llI'llgo, too!
Children, protested Mrs. Westley, giving way to the laughter that
had been consuming her from the first moment of Aunt Maria's arrival.
Let's all feel grateful to Pepper. She's a poor, silly, selfish, vain
old woman, and if she ever comes here again I'm afraid that I
won't promise to be good myself! Isobel Westley, dry your eyesdo you
think I'd let any girl of mine go to France with her? She can take her
eight other goddaughters, if they want to stand her quarreling with
every single person in authorityI won't let her have my girl.
Why, she turned to John Westley and her face was very earnest, she's
such a wasteof human energy, of brainsof just breath! How
terrible to grow old and be likethat.
Gyp was furtively feeling of her firm cheeks. I'd rather be ugly,
mother, than wear those funny things. Look, mummy, she ran to
her mother's chair and touched her cheek. You've got a wrinkle!
ButI love it. With passionate tenderness she kissed the spot.
I'll take you to France myself some day, laughed Uncle Johnny,
patting Isobel's hand.
And can we go to see the 'Land o' Dreams'? asked Graham,
Indeed we willas a celebration, assented his mother.
CHAPTER XII. THE PARTY
The Christmas holidays brought a welcome respite from the steady
grind of school work. And there was every indication, in the Westley
home, that they were going to be very merry! Mrs. Westley had one fixed
rule for her youngsters: Work while you work and play while you play.
So she and Uncle Johnny, behind carefully closed doors, planned all
sorts of jolly surprises for the holiday week.
But Jerry had a little secret, too, all of her own. She had written
to her mother begging to be allowed to go home just for Christmas.
She had had to write two letters; the first, with its burst of longing,
had sounded so ungrateful that she had torn it up and had written
another. Then she waited eagerly, hopefully, for the answer.
It came a few days before Christmas, and with it a huge pasteboard
box. Something told Jerry, before she opened the envelope, what her
mother had written. Her lips quivered.
...It will be hard for us both, dear child, not to be together on
Christmas, but it seems unwise for you to go to the trouble and expense
of coming home for such a short stay. We are snowed in and you would
not have the relaxation that you need after your long weeks of study.
Then, darling, it would be all the harder to let you go again. I want
you to have the jolliest sort of a holiday and I shall be happy
thinking each day what my little girl is doing. I have had such nice
letters from Mrs. Westley and Mr. John telling all about youthey have
been a great comfort to me. We are sending the box with a breath of
Kettle in it. The bitter-sweet we have been saving for you since last
When Jerry opened the box the room filled with the fragrant odor of
pine. In an ecstasy she leaned her face close to the branches and
sniffed delightedly; she wanted to cry and she wanted to laughit was
as though she suddenly had a bit of home right there with her. Her
disappointment was forgotten. She lifted out the pine and bitter-sweet
to put it in every corner of her room, then another thought seized her.
Except for Gyp, practicing in a half-hearted way downstairs, the house
was empty. On tiptoe she stole to the different rooms, leaving in each
a bit of her pine and a gay cluster of the bitter-sweet.
The postman's ring brought Gyp's practice, with one awful discord,
to an abrupt finish. In a moment she came bounding up the stairs, two
little white envelopes in her hand.
Jerrywe're invited to a real partyPat Everett's. She tossed
one of the small squares into Jerry's lap. Hope to die invitations,
just like Isobel gets!
Jerry stared at the bit of pasteboard. Gyp's delight was principally
because it was the first real evening party to which she had been
invited; it was a milestone in her lifeit meant that she was very
Jerauld Travisyou don't act a bit excited! It will be
heaps of fun for Pat's father and mother are the jolliest peopleand
there'll be dancing and boysand spliffy eats.
I never went to a partylike that. Jerry, with something
like awe, lifted the card.
Oh, a party's a party, anywhere, declared Gyp loftily, speaking
from the wisdom of her newly-acquired dignity.
AndI haven't anything to wear, added Jerry, putting the card
down on her desk with the tiniest sigh.
Gyp's face clouded; that was too true to be disputed. Her own
clothes would not fit Jerry but Isobel's
We'll ask Isobel to let you
Nono! cried Jerry vehemently. Her face flushed. Don't
Gyp looked aggrieved. I don't see why not, but if you feel like
thatonly, it'll spoil the whole party. Oh she suddenly sniffed.
What's that woodsy smell? Where did you get it?
And the pine and the berries made Gyp and Jerry forget, for the
moment, the Everett party.
The holiday frolics began with the appropriate ceremony of
consigning all the school books to the depths of a great, carved chest
in the library, turning the curious old key in the lock and handing it
over to Mrs. Westley. Jerry had demurred, but she recognized, behind
all the fun, a real firmness. Every book, my dear! Not one of you
children must peep inside of the cover of even astory, until I give
back the key. Mrs. Westley pinched Jerry's cheek. I want to see red
rosies again, my dear girl.
Christmas eve brought a glad surprise to the family in the
unexpected arrival of Robert Westley. Jerry had wondered a little about
Gyp's father; it was very nice to find him so much like Uncle Johnny
that one liked him at the very first moment. He had, it seemed,
resorted to all sorts of expedients to get from Valparaiso to his own
fireside in time for Christmas, but everyone's delight had made it very
That's one thing that makes up for father being away so much,
explained Gyp. He 'most always just walks in and surprises us and
brings the jolliest things from queer places.
On Christmas morning Jerry opened sleepy eyes to find soft flurries
of snow beating against her windows, a piney odor in her nostrils and
Gyp in a red dressing-gown by the side of her bed.
Merry Christmas! In her arms Gyp carried some of the contents of
her own Christmas stocking. Wake up and see what Santa has brought
On the bedpost hung a bulging stocking; queer-shaped packages, tied
with red ribbon, were piled close to it, and across the foot of Jerry's
bed lay a huge box.
Open this first. What is it? I don't know. Gyp was as
excited as though the box was for her. Jerry untied the cord and lifted
the cover. Within, beneath the folds of tissue paper, lay two pretty
dresses, a blue serge school dress and a fluffy, shimmery party frock;
beneath them a gay sweater and tam o'shanter. Upon a card, enclosed,
had been written, plainly in Uncle Johnny's handwriting: From Santa
Jerry did not know that ever since the eventful debate there had
been much secret planning between Uncle Johnny and Mrs. Westley over
her wardrobe. He had realized that night, for the first time, that
Jerry, in her queer, country-made clothes, was at a disadvantage among
the city girls and boys. It was all very well to argue that fine
feathers did not make fine birdsUncle Johnny knew the heart of a girl
well enough to realize how much a pretty ribbon or a neat new dress
could help one hold one's own! He had wanted to buy out almost an
entire store, but Mrs. Westley had held him in restraint. You may
offend her and spoil your gift if you make it seem too much, she had
Jerry knew too little of the price of the materials that made up her
precious dresses to be distressed with the gift. In rapture she kissed
the shimmering blue folds. And Gyp executed a mad dance in the middle
of the room.
Now you've just got to go to the Everett party.
On Christmas afternoon Mrs. Allan walked into the Westley home. She
and her husband had come to the Everetts for the holidays. She brought
a little gift to Jerry from her mother. It was a daintily embroidered
set of collar and cuffs. Jerry pictured her mother in the lamplight of
the dear living-room at Sunnyside, working the shining needle in and
out and loving every stitch! Oh, it was much nicer than the
grandest gift the stores could offer.
Christmas past, Gyp and Jerry thought of nothing but the Everett
party. Isobel, flitting here and there like a pretty butterfly, divided
her enthusiasm. She indulged in a patronizing attitudeshe would go,
of course, to the Everetts', though it was a kids' party and she'd
probably be bored to death.
But within a few hours of the Great Event a horrible realization
overtook Gyp's and Jerry's golden anticipation. Santa Claus had
forgotten to put any dancing shoes in the Christmas box!
The two girls shook their heads dolefully over Jerry's three pairs
of square-toed shoes.
I just can't wear one of them, cried Jerry.
Gyp would not be disappointed. Then you'll have to squeeze
your feet into my last summer's pumps. They won't hurt very much, and
anyway, when the party begins you'll forget them!
Jerry wanted so much to wear the new blue dress that she was
persuaded. Gyp helped her get them on and Jerry stumped about in
themto get used to them!
Now, do they hurt awfully? Gyp asked, in a tone that said,
Of course they don't, and Jerry, fascinated by the strange girl she
saw in the mirror, answered absently: Oh, they just feel queer!
Anyway, going to a real party was too exciting to permit of
thinking of one's feet. Jerry moved as though in a dream. Like Gyp, she
felt delightfully grown-up. The spacious, old-fashioned Everett home
was gay with holiday greens, in one corner an orchestra played,
Patricia with her mother and her older sister greeted each guest in
such a jolly way that one felt in a moment that one was going to have
the best sort of a time.
For awhile, very happily, Jerry trailed Gyp among the young people,
exchanging merry greetings. Then suddenly dreadful pains began to cut
sharply through her feet; they climbed higher and higher until they
quivered up and down her spine. Poor Jerry found it hard to keep the
tears from her eyes. She limped to a half-hidden corner near the
orchestra, and slipped off the offending pumps.
Isobel spied her in her hiding-place. Isobel did not know about the
pumpsshe thought Jerry had retreated there from shyness. A disdainful
smile curled her pretty lips. She had had moments, since the debate,
when her conscience had bothered her, the more so because Jerry had not
told what had happened; but, as is sometimes the way, after such
moments, she had hardened her heart all the more toward Jerry. She was
savagely jealous, too, over Uncle Johnny's Christmas box to Jerry; she
had figured that the dresses had cost a great deal more than the
bracelet he had given her! So into her head flashed a plan that should
have found no place there, for Isobel was indisputably the prettiest
girl in the room and the most-sought-for dancing partner.
She beckoned gaily to Dana King. She would kill two birds with one
stone, she thoughtthough not in just those words; she would have the
pleasant satisfaction of seeing Jerry make a ridiculous figure of
herself trying to dance (for Jerry had told her she only knew the
old-fashioned dances) and she would see Dana King embarrassed before
all the others! Isobel had never forgiven him for championing Jerry the
night of the debate.
Will you do me a favor, Dana? she asked sweetly. Dance with that
poor Jerry Travis over there. She's perfectly miserable.
Dana hastened, politely, to do what Isobel asked. He had never
exchanged a word with Jerry; however, after the debate, no introduction
seemed necessary. When Jerry saw him approach a flood of color dyed her
cheeksnot from shyness, but because she did not know what to do with
her unshod feet!
Will you dance this, Miss Travis?
Jerry lifted eyes dark with laughter. She did not look in the least
perfectly miserable. IIcan't! She put out the tips of her
unstockinged toes. Then she told him how she had had to wear Gyp's
pumps. And they hurt so dreadfully that I slipped them off and now
nothing'll get them back on. I guess I've got to stay here the rest
of my life.
There was something so refreshing in Jerry's frankness and
unaffectedness that Dana King sat down eagerly beside her.
Let me sit here and talk, then. Say, what on earth was the matter
with you the night of the debate? Was it your shoesthen? You
could have talkedI know!
He spoke with such conviction that Jerry's eyes shone.
No, it wasn'tentirelymy shoes. Something did happenbut
I can't tell. Isn't this the jolliest party? I never went to one
beforelike this. There aren't this many people in all Miller's
Isobel, watching Jerry's corner, grew very angry when she saw that
Dana King lingered with Jerry. She wondered what on earth Jerry could
be saying that made him laugh so heartily; they were acting as though
they had known one another all their lives.
Just as Dana King was asking Jerry what she would do if the midnight
hour struck and found her slipperless, Mrs. Allan discovered them.
She had to hear about the pumps, too.
You blessed child, I'll get a pair of Pat'sthey'd fit anything!
She returned in a few moments, two shiny, patent-leather toes
protruding from the folds of her spangled scarf. Pat's pumps slipped
easily over Jerry's poor swollen feet.
There, now, Cinderella, let's go and get some ice cream. And Dana
King led Jerry through the dancers, past Isobel and a fat boy whose
curly red head only reached to her shoulder, to the dining-room where,
around small tables, boys and girls were devouring all sorts of
The party was spoiled for Isobel; not so for Gyp who, besides having
had the jolliest sort of a time herself, was bursting with satisfaction
because Jerry had captured the most popular boy in the room.
He sat out six dances with youI counted! He took you to
supper I heard him ask you, Jerry Travis, if you were going out to
the school Frolic. And why did he call you Cinderella? asked Gyp as
the young people rode homeward.
Jerry had no intention of telling Isobel of the ignominy of the
pumps, so she answered evasively: Because it was my first party, I
guess, then, with a long, happy sigh, she cuddled back against Gyp's
shoulder and watched the street lamps flash past. Oh, surely the
Wishing-rock had opened a wonderful new world to little Jerry!
Did you tell him it was your first party?
Ohnothing. I wouldn't have been honest 'nough toI'd have
pretended I'd gone to lots.
I'm not going to the Frolic, Isobel broke in. I'm too old
for such things.
Gyp straightened indignantly.
Too old to coast? Well, I hope I never grow as old as
that! she cried.
You never will! was Isobel's withering answer.
CHAPTER XIII. HASKIN'S HILL
Jerryit's perfect! Come and look. Gyp, shivering in her
pajamas, was standing with her small nose flattened against Jerry's
cold window. Downstairs a clock had just chimed seven.
Jerry sprang from her bed with one bound. She peeped over Gyp's
shoulder. A thaw the day before had made the girls very anxious, but
now a sparkling crust covered the snow and the early sun struck coldly
across the housetops.
This was the day of the Lincoln Midwinter Frolic.
Bring your clothes into my room and we'll dress in front of the
fire. Uh-h-h, isn't it cold? But won't it be fun? Don't you wish
it was ten o'clock now? It's going to be the very best part of the
Jerry thought so, too, when, a few hours later, she and Gyp joined a
large group of the Lincoln girls and boys at the trolley station. A
special car, attached to the regular interurban trolley, was to take
them and their sleds and skisand lunchout to Haskin's Hill where
the Midwinter School Frolic was always held.
Jerry had not caught a glimpse of the country since arriving with
Uncle Johnny at the Westley home. As the car sped along she sat quiet
amid the merry uproar of her companions, but her eyes were very bright;
these wide, open stretches of fields, with the little clusters of
buildings and the hills just beyond, made her think of home.
The founders of Lincoln School had wanted to thoroughly establish
the principle of co-education. These young people, one of them had
said, will have to live and work and play in a world made up of both
men and women; let them learn, now, to work and play together. The
records of the school showed that they worked well together and one had
only to give the briefest glance at the merry horde that swarmed over
Haskin's Hill on that holiday morning to know that they played well
It's most like Kettle, cried Jerry, excitedly, for at Haskin's
station, where the picnickers left the trolley, the hills pressed about
so close that they, indeed, seemed to Jerry like her beloved mountains.
But how horrid to call a lovely place like this Haskin's!
It's named after a funny little hermit who lived for years and
yearsthey say he was 'most one hundred and fifty when he diedin the
little cabin at the foot of the hill where we coast. He used to write
poetry about the wind and the trees and he'd wander around and sit in
his door playing a violin and singing the verses he'd written.
Then his name could be any old thing, declared Jerry, delighted at
the picture Gyp had drawn, if he did such lovely things! Let's us
call it the Singing Hill.
The scent of pine on the frosty air and the knowledge that her new
sweater and tam-o'shanter were quite as pretty as the prettiest there,
transformed Jerry into a new Jerry. She felt, too, that out here in the
open she was in her element; a familiarity with these sports that had
been her winter pastime since she was a tiny youngster gave her an
assurance that added to her gay spirits.
Thanks to long hours of play with Jimmy Chubb she could steer the
bob-sled with a steadier hand than any of the others; Barbara Lee,
looking more like a schoolgirl than ever in a jaunty red scarf and cap,
declared she'd trust her precious bones to no one but Jerry!
The morning passed on swift wings; only the pangs of hunger
persuaded the girls and boys to leave their fun. They gathered in front
of the picturesque old cabin about a great bonfire over which two of
the older boys were grilling beefsteak for sandwiches. And from a huge
steaming kettle came a delicious odor of soup.
Imagine Isobel saying she's too old for all this fun,
exclaimed Gyp as she stood in the chow line with her mess tin ready
in her hand. Why, a lot of these girls and boys are older than she is!
The trouble with Isobel isand her voice was edged with scornful
pityshe's afraid of mussing her hair!
Skiing was a comparatively new sport among the Lincoln boys and
girls. Only a few of the boys had become even fairly skillful at it,
yet there had been much talk of forming a team to defeat Lincoln's
arch-enemythe South High. While the young people ate their lunch
their conversation turned to this.
We haven't anyone that can touch Eric Hansen, thoughhe learned
how to ski, I guess, in the cradle, declared Dana King, frowning
thoughtfully at the long hill that stretched upward from where they
During the morning Ginny Cox had borrowed Graham Westley's skis and
had, after many tumbles, succeeded in one thrilling descent. She
declared now to the others, between huge mouthfuls of sandwich, that it
was the most exciting thing she'd ever doneand Ginny, they all knew,
had done many! Jerry, next to her, had agreed, quietly, that skiing
wasvery exciting. Ginny's head was a bit turned by that one
moment of victory when she had stood flushedand uprightat the foot
of the hill, trying to appear indifferent as the boys showered laughing
congratulations upon her for her feat, so, now, she turned amused eyes
Can you ski? There was a ring of derision in her voice.
Jerry nodded. Then I dare you to try it from the very top!
The face of Haskin's Hill was divided by a road that wound across
it. Because of the steep descent of the upper part and because the
level stretch of the road made a jump too high for anyone's liking,
only one or two of the boys had attempted to ski from the very top, and
they had met with humiliating disaster.
Jerry looked up to the top of the hill. Ginny's tone fired her. She
was conscious, too, that Ginny's dare had been followed by a hushthe
others were waiting for her answer.
If someone will lend me their skis She tried to make her tone
Jerry Travis, you never would!
Take Dana King's skis. They're the best.
The very top commanded Ginny.
May I use your skis, Dana?
Let her use your skis, King.
Jerry, don't implored Gyp.
Jerry put down her plate and cup. Miss Lee was in the little cabin,
so she did not know what was happening. The girls and boys pressed
about Jerry, watching her with laughing eyes. Not one of them believed
that she had the nerve to accept Ginny Cox's dare.
But when, very calmly, she shouldered Dana King's skis and started
off up the hill alone, their amusement changed to wonder and again to
alarm. Jerry looked very small as she climbed on past the level made by
Oh, she'll fall before she even gets to the jumpthat
part's awfully steep, consoled one boy, speaking the fear that was in
If she kills herself you'll be her murderer, cried Gyp
passionately to Ginny Cox.
Ginny was wishing very much that she hadn't made that silly,
boastful daretrying to make someone else do what she was afraid to
try herself! She was very fond of Jerry. The red faded from her face;
she clenched her hands tightly together.
Tibby commenced to cry hysterically. One of the older girls declared
they ought to call Jerry back. The boys shouted, but Jerry, catching
the sound faintly, only waved her hand in answer.
At the top of the hill Jerry turned and looked down the long
stretch. She had skied over many of the trails of Kettle, but none of
them had had jumps as difficult as this. Quite undaunted, however,
she told herself that she needed only to keep her head. She adjusted
her skis, then tried the weight of her pole, carefully, to learn its
balance. She began to move forward slowly, her eyes fixed on the narrow
tracks before her, her knees bent ever so little, her slim body tilted
forward. Only for one fleeting moment did she see the group below,
standing immovable, transfixed by their concernthen their faces
blurred. The sharp wind against her face, the lightning speed sent a
thrill through every fibre of Jerry's being; her mind was intensely
alert to only one thingthat moment when she must make the jump! It
cameinstinctively she balanced herself for the leap, her back
straightened, her arms lifted, her head went upas though she was a
bird in flight she curved twenty feet through the air ... her skis
struck the snow-crusted tracks, her body doubled, tilted forward ...
then, amid the unforgettable shouts of the boys and girls she slid
easily, gracefully, on down the trail.
Ginny Cox was the first to reach her. She threw her arms about her
and almost strangled her in a passionate hug.
You wonder! Oh, if anything had happened to you
The boys were loud and generous in their praise.
Now we've found someone that can put it all over Hansen, shouted
one of them. Let's challenge South High right off!
Who'd ever believe a little kid like you could do it,
exclaimed Dana King with laughable frankness, but he stared at Jerry
with such open admiration that any sting was quite taken from his
Jerry could not know, of course, that, all in a moment, she had
become a person in Lincoln School. Uncle Johnny, that afternoon in
the Westley library, had said very truly that it was usually some
unexpected little thing that set a style or made a leader. He had not,
of course, foreseen this episode of Haskin's Hill, but he had known
that Jerry had determination with her sunniness and a faith in herself
that could never be daunted.
Come on, fellows, let's us try it. We can't let little Miss
Travis beat us, challenged one of the boys.
There was general assent to this. Half a dozen picked up their skis.
But Jerry lifted an authoritative handJerry, who, until this moment,
had been like a little mouse among them all!
Oh, boys, don't try it. Unless you can ski very well,
a jump like that's awfully dangerous. I've skied all my life and I've
jumped, too, but never any jump as high as that andand I was a
little scaredtoo! And, because Jerry was a person now, they
listened. She had spoken with appealing modesty, too, not at all with
the arrogance that comes often with success and can never be tolerated
Miss Travis is right, fellows, broke in Dana King. Let's learn to
ski a little better before we try that jump. This very minute we'll
begin practice for the everlasting defeat of South High! You can use my
skis, Jerry. Come on, Ginnythe All-Lincoln Ski Team! He led the way
up the hill followed by a number of the boys and Ginny Cox and
JerryJerry with a glow on her cheeks that did not come entirely from
the wintry air; she belonged now, she was not just a humble student,
struggling along the obscure pathsshe was one of those elected ones,
like Ginny and Dana King, to whom is given the precious privilege of
guarding the laurels of the school at Highacres!
CHAPTER XIV. THE PRIZE
Good-morning, Mr. Westley!
Barbara Lee's demure voice halted John Westley in a headlong rush
through the school corridor.
Ohgood-morning, Miss Lee. If a stray sunbeam had not slanted at
just that moment across Miss Lee's upturned face, turning the curly
ends of her fair hair to threads of sheen, John Westley might have
passed right on. Instead, he stopped abruptly and stared at Miss Lee.
I declareit's hard to believe you're grown-up! And a teacher!
Why, I could almost chuck you under the chinthe way I used to do. I
suppose I'd get into no end of trouble if I ever tried it
Well, her face dimpled roguishly, I don't think it's ever been
done to anyone in the faculty. I don't know what the punishment is.
Anyway, I'm trying so hard to always remember that I am very
much grown-up that it is unkind of you to even hint that I am failing
I thinkfrom what my girls saythat you're succeeding rather
tremendously, here at Highacres.
That is nice in youand them! I wonder if I can live up to what
they think I am. Miss Lee's face was very serious; she was really
Miss Lee, can you give me half an hour? I was on my way to Dr.
Caton's office when
You nearly knocked me over!
Yesthinking you were one of the school children
We can go into my library ordown in my office.
Your office, by all means. John Westley was immensely curious to
see Miss Lee's office.
It was as business-like in its appearance as his own. A flat-topped
desk, rows of files, a bookcase filled with books bearing formidable
titles, and three straight-backed chairs against the wall gave an
impression of severity. Two redeeming things caught John Westley's
eyea bowl of blooming narcissi and a painting of Sir Galahad.
I brought that from Paris, explained Barbara Lee. I stood for
hours in the Louvre watching a shabby young artist paint it andI
had to have it. It seemed as if he'd put something more into it
than was even in the originala sort of light in the eyes.
Strange John Westley was staring reflectively at the picture.
Those eyes are likeJerry Travis!
Yesyes! I had never noticed why, but something familiar in that
child's expression has haunted me.
Though John Westley had come to Highacres that morning with an
important matter on his mind and had, on a sudden impulse, begged Miss
Lee to give him a half-hour that he might talk it over with her, he had
to tell her, now, of Jerry and how he had found her standing on the
Wishing-rock, visioning a wonderful world of promise that lay beyond
Her mother had made an iron-clad vow that she'd always keep the
girl there on Kettle. Why, nothing on earth could chain that spirit
anywhere. She's one of the world's crusaders.
Barbara Lee had not gone, herself, very far along life's pathway,
yet her tone was wistful.
No, you can't hold that sort of a person back. They must always go
on, seeking all that life can give. But the stars are so very far off!
Sometimes even the bravest spirits get discouraged and are satisfied
with a nearer goal.
John Westley, sitting on the edge of the flat-topped desk, leaned
suddenly forward and gently tilted Miss Lee's face upward. There was
nothing in the impulsive movement to offend; his face was very serious.
Child, have you been discouraged? Have you started climbing
to the starsand had to halton the way?
The girl laughed a little shamefacedly. Oh, I had very big
dreamsI have them still. And I had a wonderful opportunity and had to
give it up; mother wanted me at home. She isn't wellso I took this
position. She made her little story brief, but her eyes told more than
her words of the disappointment and self-sacrifice.
Well, mothers always come first. And maybe there's a different
way to the stars, Barbara.
There was a moment's silence between them. John Westley was the
first to break it.
I want your advice, Miss Lee. I believe you're closer to the hearts
of these youngsters out here than anyone else. I've something in my
mind but I can't just shape it up. I want to build some sort of a
scholarship for Lincoln that isn't founded on books.
The trouble is, he went on, that every school turns out some real
scholarsboys and girls with their minds splendidly exercised and
storedand what else? Generally alwaysbroken bodies, physiques that
have been neglected and sacrificed in the struggle for learning. Of
what use to the world are their mindsthen? I've foundand a good
many men and women come under my observationthat the well-trained
mind is of no earthly value to its owner or to the rest of the world
unless it has a well-trained body along with it.
That's my present business, laughed Miss Lee. I must agree with
So I want to found some sort of a yearly award out here at
Highacres for the pupil who shows the best record in workand
That will be splendid! cried Miss Lee, enthusiastically.
Will you help me? John Westley asked with the diffidence of a
schoolboy. Will you tell me if some of my notions are ridiculousor
impossible? He picked up one of the sharpened pencils from the desk
and drew up a chair. Now, listen and he proceeded to outline the
plan he had had in mind for a long time.
One week later the Lincoln Award was announced to the pupils of the
school. So amazing and unusual was the competition that the school
literally buzzed with comments upon it; work for the day was abandoned.
Because the award was a substantial sum of money to be spent in an
educational way, most of the pupils considered it very seriously.
Ginny Cox has the best chance 'cause she always has the highest
marks and she's on all the teams.
It isn't just being on teams, contradicted another girl,
studying one of the slips of paper which had been distributed and upon
which had been printed the rules covering the competition. It's the
number of hours spent in the gym, or in out-of-door exercise. And you
get a point for setting-up exercises and for walking a mile each day.
And for sleeping with your window open! Easy!
And for drinking five glasses of water a day, laughed another.
And for eating a vegetable every day. And for drinking a glass of
That lets me out. I just loathe milk.
Of courseso do I. But wouldn't you drink it for an award like
Look, girls, you can't drink tea or coffee, chimed in another.
And you get a point for nine hours' sleep each school night!
That'll catch Selma Rogersshe says she studies until half-past eleven
I suppose that's why it's put in.
And a point for personal appearanceand personal conduct in and
out of school! Say, I think the person who thought up this award
had something against us all
Patricia Everett indignantly opposed this. Not at all! Miss Lee,
and she's the chairman of the Award Committee, said that the purpose of
the award is to build up a Lincoln type of a pupil whose physical
development has kept pace with the mental development. I think
it will be fun to try for it, though eating vegetables will be lots
worse than the bridge chapter in Cæsar!
Jerry Travis, too, had made up her mind to work for the award. She
had read the rules of the competition with deep interest; here would be
an opportunity to make her mother and Little-Dad proud of their girl.
And it ought not to be very hard, eitherif she could only bring up
her monthly mark in geometry! She had, much to her own surprise, lived
through the dreaded midwinter examinations, though in geometry only by
the skin of her teeth, as Graham cheerfully described his own
Jerry found that Gyp had been carefully studying the rulesGyp who
had never dreamed of trying for any sort of an honor! But poor Gyp
found them a little terrifying; like Pat Everett she hated vegetables
and she despised milk; there was always something awry in her dress, a
shoelace dangling, a torn hem, a missing button. But if one could win a
point for correcting these little failings just the same as in
chemistry or higher math., was it not worth trying?
Who_ever do you s'pose thought of it all? Gyp asked Jerry and
Graham. The name of the Lincoln friend who was giving the award had
been carefully guarded.
Not one of the younger Westleys suspected Uncle Johnny who sat with
them and listened unblushingly and with considerable amusement to their
Well, I'll try for it, conceded Graham. Who wouldn't? Even
Fat Sloane says he's goin' to and he just hates to move when he doesn't
have to! But five hundred dollars for washing your teeth and
walking a mile
And standing well in Cicero, added Uncle Johnny, mischievously.
Do you s'pose Cora Stanton will be marked off in personal
appearance 'cause she rouges and uses a lipstick? asked Gyp, with a
sly glance toward Isobel, who turned fiery red. I know she
does, 'cause Molly Hastings went up and deliberately kissed her cheek
and she said she could taste itawfully!
Cora's a very silly girl. Anyway, if she lives up to the rules of
the competition she won't need any artificial colorshe'll have a
bloom that money couldn't buy!
Well, I'm not going to bother about the silly award,
declared Isobel. Grind myself to deathno, indeed! I don't even want
to go to college. If you're rich it's silly to bother with four whole
years at a deadly institutionsome of the girls say you have to study
awfully hard. Amy Mathers is going to come out next year and I want to,
too. Isobel talked fast and defiantly, as she caught the sudden
sternness that flashed across Uncle Johnny's face.
Mrs. Westley started to speak, but Uncle Johnny made the slightest
gesture with his hand.
Into his mind had come the memory of that half-hour with Barbara Lee
and something she had saidthe stars are very far off! Her
face had been illumined by a yearning; he was startled now at the
realization that, in contrast, Isobel's showed only a self-centered,
petty vanityhis Isobel, who had been so pretty and promising, for
whom he had thought only the very noblest things possible.
But although he saw the dreams he had built for Isobel dangerously
threatened, he clung staunchly to his faith in the good he believed was
in the girl; that was why he lifted his hand to stay the impulsive
words that trembled on the mother's lips and made his own tone
Making plans without a word to motheror Uncle Johnny? But you'll
come to us, my dear, and be grateful for our advice. I don't believe
just a lot of dances will satisfy my girleven if they do Amy Mathers.
And after they're overwhat then? Will you really be a bit different
from the other girl because you've 'come out'? What do you say to
taking up your drawing again and after a few years going over to Paris
The defiant gleam in Isobel's eyes changed slowly to incredulous
delight. Uncle Johnny went on:
And even an interior decorator needs a college training.
John Westley, you're a wonder, declared Mrs. Westley after the
young people had gone upstairs. You ought to have a half-dozen
youngsters of your own!
He stared into the fire, seeing visions, perhaps, in the dancing
flames. I wish I did. I think they're the greatest thing in the world!
To make a good, useful man or woman out of a boy or girl is the best
work given us to do on this earth!
CHAPTER XV. CUPID AND COMPANY
The curfew tolls the knell of parting day,
The lowing herd wind slowly o'er the lea
scanned Gyp in a singsong voice. Then she stopped abruptly; she
realized that Miss Gray was not hearing a word that she was saying!
Miss Gray had asked Gyp to come to her after school. It was a
glorious winter day and Gyp's friends were playing hockey on the little
lake. Gyp had faced Miss Gray resentfully.
Please scan three pages, Miss Westley, Miss Gray had said, putting
a book into Gyp's hands. And now, in the middle of them, Miss Gray was
staring out across the snowy slopes of the school grounds, not hearing
one word, and blinking real tears from her pale-blue eyes!
Little Miss Gray, for years, had come and gone from Lincoln in such
a mouse-like fashion that no one ever paid much attention to her; upon
her changing classes, as an individual, she left scarcely any
impression; as a teacher she was never cross, never exacting, gave
little praise and less censure; she worked more like a noiseless,
perfect machine than a human being.
Gyp had never noticed, until that moment, that she had blue
eyesvery pretty blue eyes, fringed with long, dark lashes. No one
could see them because she was nearsighted and wore big, round,
shell-rimmed glasses, but now she had removed these in order to wipe
her tears away. Gyp, fascinated by her discoveries, stared openly.
Gyp's heart never failed to go out to the downtrodden or oppressed,
beast or human. Now she suddenly saw Millicent Gray, erstwhile teacher
in Second-year English, as an appealing figure, very shabby, a pinched
look on her oval-shaped face that gave the impression of hunger. Her
hair would really be very pretty if she did not twist it back quite so
tight. She was not nearly as old as Gyp had thought she was. And her
tears were very pathetic; she was sniffing and searching in a pocket
for the handkerchief that was probably in her knitting bag.
T-that will d-do, Miss Westley, she managed to say, still
searching and sniffing.
But Gyp stood rooted.
I'm sorry you feel bad, Miss Gray. Will you take my handkerchief?
It's clean, and Gyp, from the pocket of her middy blouse, proudly
produced a folded square of linen.
You wouldn't believe that just that could open the
flood-gates of a broken heart, she exclaimed later to Jerry and Pat
Everett, feeling very important over her astonishing revelation.
Who'd ever dream that Miss Gray could squeeze out the littlest
tear, laughed Pat, at which Gyp shook her head rebukingly.
Teachers are human and have hearts, Pat Everett, even if they
are teachers. And romance comes to them, too. Miss Gray is very
pretty if you look at her real close and she's quiet because her bosom
carries a broken heart.
Sympathetic Jerry thought Gyp's description very wonderful. Pat was
What did she tell you, Gyp?
Gyp hesitated, in a maddening way. Well, I suppose it was giving
her the handkerchief made her break down and I don't believe she
thought I'd come straight out here and tell you girls. And I'm only
telling you because I think maybe we can help her. After she'd taken
the handkerchief and wiped her nose she took hold of my hand and
pressed it hard and told me she hoped I'd never know what loneliness
was. And then I asked her if she didn't have anyone and she said
nonot a soul in the whole wide world cared whether she lived or died.
Isn't that dreadful? And she said she didn't have a home anywhere, just
lived in a horrid old boarding house. Well, she was beginning to act
more cheerful and I was afraid she was recovering enough to tell me to
go on with the scanning, so I got up my nerve and I asked her
point-blank if she'd ever had a lover
Gyp Westley screamed Pat.
Well, there wasn't any use beating 'round the bush and I knew we'd
want to know and I read once that men were the cause of most
heartaches, so I asked her
What did she say? Wasn't she furious?
NoI think she was glad I did. Maybe, if you didn't have any
family and lived in a great big boarding house where you couldn't talk
to anyone except 'bout the weather and the stew and things, you'd even
like to confide in me. She just blushed and looked downright pretty,
but dreadfully sad. She said she'd had a very, very dear friendyou
could tell she meant a loverbut that it was all past and he had
forgotten her. I suppose I should have said to her that it's 'better to
have loved and lost than never to have loved at all,' but I just asked
her if he was handsome, which was foolish, because she'd think he was
if he was as homely as anything.
And was he?
She said he was distinguisheda straight nose and a firm chin and
black hair with a white streak running straight down through the
middle, like Lee's black-and-white setter dog, I guess. Girls, mustn't
it be dreadful to have to go on day after day with your heart
like a cold stone inside of you and no one to love you and to teach
Each girl, with her own life full to brimming with love, looked as
though they felt very sorry, indeed, for poor little Miss Gray.
Let's do something to make her happy, suggested Pat.
Do you suppose we could find the man? They must have quarreled and
maybe, if he knew
There can't be many men with white streaks in their hair and if we
get the other girls to help us, perhaps by watching real closely, we
can find him.
And I thought, too, we might send her some flowers after a few days
without any name or any sign on them where they came from. She'll be
dreadfully excited and curious and then in a week or so we can send
Aren't flowers very expensive? put in Jerry. Gyp understood her
concern; Jerry had very little spending money.
I knowPat and I'll buy the flowers and maybe some of the others
will help, and you write some verses to go with them, Jerry.
Though to write verses would, ordinarily, to Jerry be a most
alarming task, she was glad of anything that she could do to help Miss
Gray and assented eagerly.
Peggy Lee was enlisted in the cause, and the next day the
conspirators made a trip to the florist's shop. They were dismayed but
not discouraged by the exorbitant price of flowers; they scornfully
dismissed the florist's suggestion of a neat little primrose
plantthey were equally disdainful of carnations. Patricia favored
roses, and when the florist offered them a bargain in some rather
wilted Lady Ursulas, she wanted to buy them and put them in salt and
water overnight, to revive them. Finally they decided upon a bunch of
violets, which sadly depleted their several allowances. And Jerry
attached her verses, painstakingly printed on a sheet of azure-blue
notepaper in red ink. Blue's for the spirit, you know, and the red ink
is heart's blood. Listen, girls, isn't this too beautiful for words?
Gyp read in a tragic voice:
Only to love thee, I seek nothing more,
No greater boon do I ask,
Only to serve thee o'er and o'er,
And in thy smile to bask.
Only to hear thy sweet voice in my ear,
Though thy words be not spoken for me,
Only to see the lovelight in thy eyes,
The love of eternity.
They're wonderful, Jerry! And so sad, too.
Do they sound like a lover? asked Jerry anxiously.
Exactly, declared Pat, solemnly. Oh, won't it be
fun to see her open it? And she'll think, of course, that it comes from
the black-and-white man.
And we must each one of us pledge to keep our eyes open for the
Think of it, girlsif we could make Miss Gray happy again it would
be something we could remember when we're old ladies. Mother told me
once that things we do for other people to make them happy come back to
us with interest.
In the English class, on the following day, four girls sat very
demurely in the back row, their eyes riveted on their books. When
presently there was a knock at the door (Gyp had timed carefully the
arrival of the messenger), Pat Everett exclaimed, my goodness aloud,
and Jerry dropped her book to the floor. But their agitation passed
unnoticed; Miss Gray's attention was fixed upon the little square box
that was brought to her.
Jerry had a moment of panic. She scribbled on the top of a page in
her text-book: What if she's angry? To which Gyp replied: If your
life was empty, wouldn't you jump at a crumb?
Only for a moment was the machinelike precision of the English class
broken. Miss Gray untied the cord, and peeped under the cover. The
girls, watching from the back row, saw a pink flush sweep from her
small nose to the roots of her hair, then fade, leaving her very white.
Please continue, Miss Chase.
When the class was dismissed even Gyp had not the courage to linger
and watch Miss Gray open the box. She might suspect you, Patricia had
warned. But at recess she rushed to the girls, her eyes shining.
Jerry! Pat! She's crazy about 'em! I went in after
the third hour and pretended I was hunting for my book. The violets
were sitting up on her desk and she had a few of them fastened in her
old cameo pinand she looked differentalready! Let's keep up
our good work! Let's swear that we'll leave no stone unturned to find
the black-and-white man!
CHAPTER XVI. FOR THE HONOR OF THE
Oh, I'm sick of winter! I wish I was a cannibal living on a
tropical island eating cocoanuts.
Missionaries, you mean, laughed Isobel.
Virginia Cox threw her skates over her shoulder; Isobel, Dorrie Carr
and herself were the last to leave the lake. The school grounds were
Oh, look at the snowman someone's started, cried Ginny, as they
walked through the grounds. Say, this is spliffy snow to pack! Let's
finish up the work of art. In her enthusiasm over her suggestion her
ennui was forgotten. I know, let's make him into a snowlady.
Ginny's fingers were clever. Her caricatures, almost always drawn in
ridicule of the faculty or her fellow-classmates, were famous. If, in
her make-up, she had had a kindlier spirit and a truer sense of the
beautiful, she might have become a great artist or sculptor.
Now she worked feverishly, shaping a lifelike figure from the huge
cakes of snow that the others brought to her. As she stood back to view
her handiwork a naughty thought flashed into her mind.
Girlsit's going to be Miss Gray! And mother's got a funny old
lavender crocheted shawl like that thing Miss Gray wears when it's
cold, that the moths won't even eat. And I can fix a hat like the
dreadful châpeau of hers that came out of the ark. And glasses,
Isobel and Dorrie laughed delightedly.
How can you get them out here?
Oh, I'll find a way! Ginny always could! Do you think that
nose is pug enough? She deftly packed it down on each side with a
finger, then gave it a quick, upward touch. Isn't that better?
Her companions declared the likeness perfectas far as snow could
And I can hunt up two blue glass allies for eyes. There was,
plainly, no end to Ginny's resourcefulness. You just wait and see what
you'll see in the morning.
During the night King Winter maliciously abetted Ginny in her work,
for a turn in his temper laid a sparkling crust over everythingand
especially the little snowlady who waited, immovable, on a little rise
of ground near the main entrance of the school.
The pupils, arriving at Highacres the next morning, rubbed their
eyes in their amazement. Not one failed to recognize the English
teacher in the funny, shawl-draped figure, with enormous glasses
framing round blue eyes, shadowed by a hat that was almost an exact
counterpart of the shabby one Miss Gray had hung each morning for the
past three winters on her peg in the dressing-room. But there was
something about the rakish tilt of the hat that was in such strange
contrast to the severe spectacles and the thin, frosty nose, that it
gave the snowlady the appearance of staggering and made her very funny.
All through the school session groups of pupils gathered at the
windows, laughing. There was much speculating as to who had built the
snowlady; the three little sub-freshmen who had begun the work Ginny
had finished were vehement in their assertions that they had not.
Gradually it was whispered about that Ginny Cox had done it.
We might have known that, several laughed, thinking Ginny very
Then, over those invisible currents of communication which convey
news through a school faster than a flame can spread, came the rumor
that trouble was brewing. One of the monitors had told Dorrie Carr that
Miss Gray had had hysterics in the office; that, in the midst of them,
she had written out her resignation and that, after the first period,
not an English class had been held!
Another added the information that Barbara Lee had quieted Miss Gray
with spirits of ammonia and that Dr. Caton had refused to accept her
resignation and had been overheard to say that the culprit would be
Ginny's prank began to assume serious proportions. Ginny was more
thoughtless than unkind; it had not crossed her mind that she might
offend little Miss Gray. But she was not brave, eithershe had not the
courage to go straight to Miss Gray and apologize for her careless,
There had been, for a number of years, one well-established
punishment at Lincoln; privileges were taken away from offenders, the
term of the sentences depending upon the enormity of the offence. And
privileges included many thingssitting in the study-room, mingling
with the other pupils in the lunch rooms at recess, sharing the school
athletics. This system had all the good points of suspension with the
added sting of having constantly to parade one's disgrace before the
eyes of the whole school.
If Ginny Cox is found out, she can't play in the game against the
South High, was on more than one tongue.
Gyp, deeply impressed by the criticalness of the situation, summoned
a meeting of the Ravens. Her face was very tragic.
Girlsit's the chance for the Ravens to do something for the
Lincoln School! We've had nothing but spreads and good times and now
the opportunity has come to test our loyalty.
Not one of the unsuspecting Ravens guessed what Gyp had in mind!
Ginny Cox did build that snowladyIsobel saw her. But if she gives
herself up she'll be sent to Siberia!
Well, it'll serve her right. She needn't have picked out poor
little Miss Gray to make fun of.
Gyp frowned at the interruption. Of course not. We know all
about Miss Gray and feel sorry for her, but Ginny doesn't. And, anyway,
that isn't the point. I was talking about loyalty to Lincoln. Gyp made
her tone very solemn. Disgraceeverlasting, eternal, black disgrace
threatens the very foundations of our dear school! She paused,
Next week, Tuesday, our All-Lincoln girls' basketball team plays
our deadly enemy, South High. And what will happen without Ginny Cox?
Who else can make the baskets she can? Defeatignominious
defeat will be our sad lot Her voice trailed off in a wail that
found its echo in every Raven's heart.
I'd forgotten the game! What a shame!
Why couldn't Ginny have thought of that?
Maybe Doc. Caton will just let her play that once.
Not hehe's like iron. Didn't he send Bob Morely down for three
whole days just before the Thanksgiving game 'cause he got up in Cæsar
class and translated 'bout the 'Garlic Wars'?
Gyp sensed the psychological moment to strike.
Never before in the history of our secret order has such an
opportunity to serve our school been given to us
What can we do?
One of us can offer ourself on the altar of loyalty
Her meaning, stripped of its eloquent verbage, slowly dawned upon
six minds! A murmur of protest threatened to become a roar. Gyp hastily
dropped her fine oratory and pleaded humbly:
It's so little for one of us to do compared to what it
means, and if we didn't do it and South High beat us, why, we'd
suffer lots more with remorse than we would just taking Ginny's
punishment for her. Anyway, what did the promise we solemnly made
mean? Nothing? We're a nice bunch! I'm perfectly willing to
take Ginny Cox's place, but I think each Raven ought to have the chance
and we should draw lots
Yes, that would be the fairest way, agreed Pat Everett in a tone
that suggested someone had died just the moment before.
I always draw the unlucky number in everything, shivered Peggy
There'll have to be two this time, then, for I always do, too,
groaned a sister Raven.
Shall we do it, girls? Shall we prove to the world that we Ravens
can make any sacrifice for our school?
Yesyes, came thickly from paralyzed throats.
In a dead silence Gyp and Pat prepared seven slips of paper. Six
were blank; upon the seventh Pat drew a long snake with head uplifted,
ready to strike. The slips were carefully folded and shaken in Jerry's
hat. Gyp put the hat in the middle of the room.
Let's each one go up with her eyes shut tight and draw a slip. Then
don't open it until the last one has been drawn. They all agreedif
they had to do it they might as well make the ceremony as much of a
torture as possible!
So horrible was the suspense that a creaking board made the Ravens
jump; a shutter slamming somewhere in another part of the building
almost precipitated a panic. After an interval that seemed hours each
Raven sat with a white slip in her nervous fingers.
Now, onetwothreeopen! cried Gyp.
Another moment of silence, a sharp intake of breath, a rattle of
paper, then: OhI have it! cried Jerry in a small, frightened
CHAPTER XVII. DISGRACE
Will the young gentleman or lady who built the snow-woman that
stood on the school grounds yesterday morning go at once to my office?
Dr. Caton's tone was very even; he might have been asking the owner
of some lost article to step up and claim it, but each word cut like a
sharp-edged knife deep into poor Jerry Travis' heart.
She sat in the sixth row; that meant that, to reach that distant
door, she must face almost the entire school! Her eyes were downcast
and her lips were pressed together in a thin, bluish line. She heard a
low murmur from every side. Above it her steps seemed to fall in a
heavy, echoing thud.
Not one of the Ravens dared look at poor Jerry; each wondered at her
courage, each felt in her own heart that had the unlucky slip fallen to
her lot she could never have done as well as Jerry had
Then, instinctively, curious eyes sought for Ginny CoxGinny, who
had been unjustly accused by her schoolmates. But Ginny at that moment
was huddled in her bed under warm blankets with a hot-water-bag at her
feet and an ice-bag on her head, her worried mother fluttering over her
with a clinical thermometer in one hand and a castor-oil bottle in the
other, wishing she could diagnose Ginny's queer symptoms and wondering
if she had not ought to call in the doctor!
Jerry had had a bad night, too. At home, in her room, Gyp's eloquent
arguments had seemed to lose some of their force. Jerry persisted in
seeing complications in the course that had fallen to her lot.
It's acting a lie, she protested.
The cause justifies that, cried Gyp, sweepingly. Anyway, I
don't believe Dr. Caton will be half as hard on you as he would have
been on Ginny Cox. It's your first offence and you can act real sorry.
How can I act real sorry when I haven't done anything?
You'll have toyou must pretend. The harder it is the
nobler your sacrifice will be. And some day everyone will know what you
did for the honor of the school and future generations will
And I was trying so hard for the Lincoln Award! Real tears sprang
to Jerry's eyes.
Oh, you can work harder than ever and win it in spite of this,
comforted Gyp, who truly believed Jerry could do anything.
And I can't play on the hockey team in the inter-class match this
Of course it's hard, Jerry. Gyp did not want to listen to
much moreher own conviction might weaken. But nothing matters except
the match with South High. That's why you're doing it! Now if
you want to just back out and bring shame upon the Ravens as well as
dishonor to the schoolall right! OnlyI've told Ginny.
I'll do it, answered Jerry, falteringly. But long after Gyp had
gone off into dreamless slumber she lay, wide-eyed, trying to picture
this sudden and unpleasant experience that confronted her. Her whole
life up to that moment when, in Mr. John's automobile, she had whirled
around her mountain, bound for a world of dreams, had been so simple,
so entirely free from any tangles that could not be straightened out,
in a moment, by Sweetheart that her bewilderment, now, made her
lonely and homesick for Sunnyside and her mother's counsel. The glamour
of her new life, happy though it was, lifted as a curtain might lift,
and revealed, in the eerie darkness of the night, startling
contraststhe rush and thronging of the city life against the peaceful
quiet of Jerry's mountain. It was so easy, back there, Jerry thought,
to just know at once, what was right and what was wrong; there
were no uncertain demands upon one's loyalty to the little old school
in the Notchone had only to learn one's lesson and that was all; even
in her play back there there had not been any of the fierce joy of
competition she had learned at Highacres!
And mother, with wonderful wisdom, had brought her so close to God
and had taught her to understand His Love and His Anger. Jerry dug her
face deep into her pillow. Wouldn't God forgive a lie that was for the
honor of the school? Wouldn't He know how Ginny was needed as forward
on the Lincoln team? It was a perplexing thought. Jerry told herself,
with a sense of shame, that she had really not thought much about God
since she had come to the Westleys. She had gone each Sunday with the
others to the great, dim, vaulted church, but she had thought about the
artists who had designed the beautiful colored saints in the windows
and about the pealing music of the organ and not about God or what the
minister was saying. Back home she had always, in church, sat between
her mother and the little window where through the giant pines she
could see a stretch of blue sky broken by a misty mountain-top; when
one could see that and smell the pine and hear, above the drone of the
preacher's voice, the clear note of a bird, one could feel very close
to the God who had made this wonderful, beautiful world and had put
that sweet note in the throat of a little winging creature.
Then Gyp's words taunted her. You can back outif you want to!
Oh, noshe would not do thatnow; she would not be a coward, she
would see it through; she would measure up to the challenge, let it
cost what it might she would hold the honor of the schoolher
school (she said it softly) above all else!
Jerry had never been severely punished in her life; as she sat very
quietly in Dr. Caton's office waiting for assembly to end she wondered,
with a quickening curiosity, what it would seem like. Anyway,
nothing could be worse than having to walk out of the room before
all those staring boys and girls.
But Jerry found that something was! Barbara Lee came into the
room, looking surprised, disappointed and unhappy.
Jerry, she exclaimed, I can't believe it.
Jerry wanted to cry out the truthit wasn't fair. Miss Lee sat down
next to her.
If you had to make fun of someone, why didn't you pick out
meanyone but poor little Miss Gray! I think that if you knew how
unhappy andand drab poor Miss Gray's life has been, how for
years she had to pinch and save and deny herself all the little
pleasures of life in order to care for her mother who was a helpless
invalid, you'd be sorry you had in the smallest measure added any to
I wouldn't hurt her feelings for the world, burst out Jerry. Did
she not know more about poor little Miss Gray than did even Barbara
Then why But at this dangerous moment Dr. Caton walked
into the room.
Jerry's sentence was very simple. She listened with downcast eyes.
She was to lose all school privileges for a week; during that time she
must occupy a desk in the office, she must eat her lunch alone at this
desk, she must not share in any of the school activities until the end
of suspension. She must apologize to Miss Gray.
In Jerry's punishment there was an element of novelty that softened
its sting. It was very easy to apologize to Miss Gray, partly because
she was really innocent and partly because a fresh bunch of violets
adorned Miss Gray's desk toward which Jerry had contributed thirty-four
cents. Then a message from the Ravens was spirited to her.
You're wonderful! We're proud of you. Keep up your
is the lot of the martyr when for honor he has suffered.
P. S. Coming out of history I heard Dana King say to another
that he didn't believe you did it at allthat you are
SOME ONE else!
Your Adoring Gyp.
Too, Jerry found the office a most interesting place. No one glanced
toward her corner and she could quietly watch everything that happened.
And on the second day Uncle Johnny happenedin a breezy fashion,
coming over and pinching her cheek. Uncle Johnny did not know of her
disgrace; by tacit agreement not a word of it had been breathed at
home. Dr. Caton, annoyed and disapproving, crisply intimated why Jerry
was there. Uncle Johnny tried to make his lips look serious but his
eyes danced. Over Dr. Caton's bald head he winked at Jerry.
Uncle Johnny had come to Highacres to talk over some plans for an
enclosed hockey rink. For various reasons, of which he was utterly
unconscious, he was enjoying mixing school interests with the demands
of his business. He lingered for half an hour in the office, talking,
while Jerry watched the back of his brown head and broad shoulders.
Before leaving he walked over to her corner.
My dear child, he began in a severe tone. He leaned over Jerry so
that Dr. Caton could not hear what he said. A trustee had privileges!
I wouldn't give a cent for a colt that never kicked over the
traces! Which, if Jerry had really been guilty of any offence, would
have been very demoralizing. But she was not and she watched Uncle
Johnny go out of the room with a look of adoration in her eyes.
A sense of reward came to Jerry, too, when Ginny Cox returned to
school. Having fully recovered from the funk that had laid her,
shivering and feverish, in bed, that first day she came back in gayer
spirits than ever, declaring to many that she thought Miss Gray a
pill to make such a fuss over just a little joke and, to a few, that
it was fine in Jerry to shoulder the blame so that she might play in
the game against South High. But her gaiety covered the first real
embarrassment she had ever suffered, for Ginny, who had always, because
of her peculiar charm, coming from a sense of humor, a hail-fellow
spirit, an invariable geniality and an amazing facility in all
athletics, exacted a slavish devotion from her schoolmates, and was
accustomed to dispense favors among them, hated now to accept, even
from Jerry, a very, very great one! And Jerry sensed the humility that
this embarrassment called into being.
Ginny waylaid Jerry going home from school. Jerry was carefully
living up to the terms of her sentence; each day, directly after the
close of school, she walked home alone.
Jerry, II haven't had a chance to tell youoh, what a peach
you are, Ginny's words came awkwardly; she knew that they did not in
any way express what she ought to be saying.
Jerry did not want Ginny's gratitude. She answered honestly: I
didn't want to do it. I had toI drew the unlucky slip, you
see. And you were needed on the team.
It's all so mixed up and not a bit right. Can I walk along with
you? Who'd ever have thought that just building that silly snow-woman
would have made all this fuss!
Dr. Caton says thoughtlessness always breeds inconsiderateness and
inconsiderateness develops selfishness, selfishness undermines good
fellowship and good fellowship is the foundation of the spirit of
Lincoln, quoted Jerry in a voice so exactly like Dr. Caton's that both
He's dead right, answered Ginny, with her characteristic
bluntness. I just wanted to amuse the others and make them think I was
awfully clever and that was plain outright conceit and selfishness. I
guess that's the way I do most things. Well, I've learned a lesson. And
there isn't anything I wouldn't do for you, Jerry Travis. If I don't
play better basketball Friday night than I ever have in my life, well,
you can walk all over me like dirt. There was a humble ring in Ginny's
voice that had surely never sounded there before!
But the hard part of Jerry's punishment came when the others,
without her, trooped off to the game against South High, the blue and
gold colors of Lincoln tied on their arms. It promised to be the most
exciting game of the season; if Lincoln could defeat South High it
would win the Interschool cup.
There had, alas, to be practiced a little more deception to explain
why Jerry remained at home. Gyp had announced that Jerry had a headache
and Mrs. Westley had been much concernedJerry, who never had an ache
or a pain! She had gone to Jerry's room, had tucked her in bed and had
sat by the side of the bed gently smoothing Jerry's guilty forehead.
When I get through this I'll never, never tell a lie for anybody or
anything, vowed Jerry in her heart, as she writhed under the loving
Two hours later Gyp tiptoed to her door, opened it softly and peeped
in. Jerry, expecting her, sat bolt upright. Gyp bounded to the exact
centre of the bed.
We won! We won! But, oh, Jerry, it was a
squeak! Honest to goodness, my heart isn't beating right yet.
Tied, Jerryat the half. Then Muff Bowling on the South High made
two spliffy basketsthey were great, even if she made 'em! Our
girls acted as though they were just dummies, but didn't they wake up?
You should have seen their passing then. Why, honest, Midge
Fielding was everywhere! Caught a high ball and passed it
underbefore you could wink! And, oh, Ginnyshe was
possessed. She could make that basket anywhere. And,
listen, Jerry, with only two minutes more to play if they
didn't make another and then Ginny fellflat,
Jerry, with the South High guard right on her chest and her
wrist doubled under herand she got up like a flash and her
face was as white as that sheetand she made a basket! And
we won! And Gyp, drawing a long, exultant breath, dropped her chin
on her knees.
Diddid they all cheer, then, for Ginny?
I should say so. With a long yawn Gyp uncurled her legs.
I'm dead. I'm going to bed. She turned toward the door. Oh, say, I
most forgot. Ginny told me to tell you that the reason she played the
way she did to-night was 'cause she kept thinking of you and what you'd
done for her and she wanted to prove that she was worth it. Ginny is
a good sort, isn't she?
CHAPTER XVIII. THE RAVENS CLEAN THE
The Ravens, now enjoying a pleasant distinction among the Lincoln
students because of Jerry's suffering, the truth of which had become
known after a few weeks to nearly everyone in the school, except, of
course, the faculty, decided to admit more members to their circle.
This necessitated an elaborate ceremony of initiation, and an
especially elaborate spread.
Let's us clean the tower room, suggested Gyp one afternoon, with
this in mind. I don't mean sweep or scrub or anything like
that'cause the dust and the cobwebs make it lots more romantic. I
mean just shove things further back. We'll need more room.
Jerry agreed. So the two pushed George Washington aside and climbed
the little stairway. A sharp wind howled around the tower room, making
weird, wailing sounds.
Isn't it spooky up here this afternoon? whispered Gyp. Let's
hurry. Here, I'll hand you these books and you pile them over there in
Gyp tossed the books about as though they were bricks. Jerry handled
them more carefully. From her infancy she had been brought up to
respect any kind of a book; those at home had seemed almost a part of
her dear mother and Little-Dad; these had belonged to Peter Westley. He
must have spent a great deal of his time reading, she thought, the
volumes were worn about their edges, the pages thumbed. She peeped into
one or two. Peter Westley, who had shunned the companionship of his
fellow-mortals, had made these his friends.
Gyp divined what was passing in Jerry's thoughts.
These books look all dried up and drearyjust like Uncle Peter
was, she exclaimed, throwing one over.
Jerry opened it at random.
Oh, this isn't! Listen, isn't it beautiful?
Now morn, her rosy steps in th' eastern clime,
Advancing, sow'd the earth with orient pearl
It makes me think of a sunrise from Rocky Point. Often Little-Dad
takes me up there and we sleep all night rolled in blankets.
I wish I could do things like that, sighed Gyp longingly. I hate
just doing the regular sort of things that everyone else is doing.
Jerry regarded her in astonishment; that Gyp might, perhaps, envy
her the childhood she had had on Kettle had never occurred to her!
Perhaps sometime you can visit me in Sunnyside. Her eyes shone at
the thought. Don't you love poetry? She read again:
If 'chance the radiant sun with farewell sweet
Extend his ev'ning beam, the fields revive,
The birds their notes renew, and bleating herds
Attest their joy, that hill and valley ring
It's like thatat sunsetin the Witches' Glade, Jerry said
slowly. She closed the book. I think Peter Westley must have had
something nice in him to like this. There used to be an old, old lady
who lived in a funny little house in the Notch; I always pretended she
was old Mother Hubbard who lived in the cupboard. Jimmy Chubb used to
throw apples at her roof to make her run out and chase him. But her
garden was the loveliest anywhere aroundmother used to beg seeds from
her. And she'd talk to her flowerssometimes when we'd hide behind the
hedge next door to her house we'd hear her. And mother said that there
must be something lovely in her soul if she cared so much for flowers.
Perhaps that's the way it was with your Uncle Peter and his books.
Gyp frowned as though she was trying very hard to think this
possible. She lifted a huge Bible and dusted it thoughtfully with her
I don't knowI heard Uncle Johnny say once to my father that Uncle
Peter was as hard as rocks when it came to driving a bargain and he'd
never give a cent to anyone. Mother said that riches that came like
that only brought unhappiness and she was sorry we had any of it,
though Gyp laughed. Money's funny. It wouldn't matter how much of
an allowance father gave Graham or me we'd never have any and I don't
know where it goes. And Isobel always has a lot. Maybe she's going to
be like Uncle Peter There was horror in Gyp's voice.
Jerry sat on the table, the huge Bible on her knees. Her eyes stared
out through the dusty window-glass.
She wouldn't be like him because she won't have to
work hard to get the money the way he did! Mother says Jerry had a
way of saying mother says as though it was precious, indisputable
wisdom. Mother says that sometimes when a person sets his heart on
just one thing in this world and thinks about it all the time, he kills
everything else in him. Doesn't that seem dreadful? Not to enjoy all
the beautiful, jolly things in the world?
Jerry's philosophy was beyond Gyp's practical mind. What would you
do if you had lots and lots of money, Jerry?
This was a stupendous question and one Jerry had often liked to ask
of herself. Her answer was prompt.
I'd keep going to school just as long as ever I could. And then I'd
go all over the worldto Japan and Singapore and India and to the Nile
and Venice and Switzerland and Gibraltar her tongue stumbled in
its effort to circle the globe. Oheverywhere. I'd want to see
How many young hearts have dreamed of such adventure!
And yet, Jerry went on, if I had all the gold in the world right
in my hand I don't believe I could make myself go so far away from
Sweetheart and Little-Dad and the dogs andand Sunnyside!
Oh, Gyp quickly settled such an obstacle. If you had all the gold
in the world you could take 'em with you.
At that moment they were startled by a loud thud in the hall beneath
them. The Bible crashed to the floor. Each girl instinctively clapped
her hand to her mouth to smother a cry. Then they laughed.
What ever do you suppose it was? HarkI hear footsteps.
Gyp spoke in sepulchral tones.
They're going away, whispered Jerry, relieved. Goodness, how it
frightened me! Jerry leaned over to lift the poor Bible. From its
pages had dropped a long envelope. It lay, white and smooth, the
address side upward, on the dusty floor.
Look, Gypa letter! It must have been in this Bible.
Gyp took the envelope gingerly.
It's addressed to father! It's never been opened. It looks as
though it had just been written! Jerrythat's Uncle Peter's
Jerry stared at the envelopeexcept that the letter had been
pressed very flat, it did indeed look as though it had just been
Isn't it creepy? Gyp shivered. Do you believe in ghosts?
Could Uncle Peter Westley have come here and written
thatjustmaybe, last night?
It was a horrible thoughtJerry tried not to entertain it. But the
wailing wind made it seem possible!
What'll we do with it? Gyp had laid it on the table.
Let's put it back in the Biblethat seemed a safe placeand
take it home. Maybe there is an important message in it that someone
ought to see! But I wish we'd never come here this afternoon.
And see how dark it isit's getting late. Let's let these other
things go. Jerry's voice, betraying her eagerness to quit the tower
room, made Gyp feel creepier than ever.
Each took a corner of the ghostly envelope and slipped it between
the pages of the Bible.
Thereit's safe enough now. We can take turns carrying it. The
girls hurriedly donned their outer wraps. Then, without one backward
glance, they tiptoed down the narrow stair. But, to their amazement,
the panel at the foot of the stair would not budge. Vainly they shoved,
and pressed their shoulders against the solid oak. Breathless, Gyp sat
down on the Bible.
What'll we do?
We'll have to shout and bring someone'cause we can't open the
Then Old Crow will know our secret, wailed Gyp.
But we don't want to stay here all night!
Gyp gave one swift, backward glance up the secret stairway to the
haunted tower room.
Nono! Well, let's shout together.
They shouted and shouted, with all the strength of their young
lungs. But Old Crow, who really was Mr. Albert Crowe, for many years
janitor of Lincoln School, had gone, ten minutes earlier, in his Sunday
best, to attend the annual banquet of the Janitors' Association and his
assistant had made his last rounds of the School, so that the shouts of
the girls echoed and re-echoed vainly through the deserted halls of
Jerry leaned, exhausted, against the wall.
I don't believe it's a bit of usenot a soul can hear us.
What'll we do? asked Gyp againGyp, who was usually so
resourceful. If we only hadn't found that old letter we never'd have
thought of ghosts and we wouldn't have minded a bit being shut in
the tower room.
Jerry commenced to laugh nervously. Gyp, maybe you don't know
you're sitting on the Bible! Gyp sprang up.
I don't think it's anything to laugh about! Not me, I mean,
butbut having to stay all nightup there!
Jerry started back up the stairway.
Come on, she encouraged. I'm not afraid. If there are
ghosts I want to see one. Gyp followed with the Bible. The tower room
was shadowy in the fast-falling twilight. The girls tried to open each
of the small windows; though they rattled busily enough they would not
Gyp sat down resignedly on the window-seat. We'll just sit here
until we're rescued. Onlyno one will guess where we are.
I think it's a grand adventure, declared Jerry valiantly.
If we only hadn't begun to think about ghosts! You never can
see them, anywayyou just feel them. Is that the wind? Sit close to
Jerry sat very close to her chum and they gripped hands; it was
easier, that way, to endure the dreadful silence.
I'm hungry, whispered Gyp, after awhile. Then, a moment later,
Did you hear something, Jerrylike a long, long sigh?
Jerry nodded and Gyp drew closer to her, shivering.
Of course, she murmured in a voice lowered to the etiquette of a
haunted room. You're not frightened because you didn't know
Uncle Peter. If I was afraid of him when he was alive what
Sh-h-h! commanded Jerry. Uncle Peter's ghost might be hovering
very close to them and might hear! Gyp's words did not sound exactly
Jerry tried to talk of everyday things but it was of no usewhat
mattered the color of Sue Knox's new sweater when the very air tingled
Oh-h! Gyp clutched Jerry in a spasm of fright.
Something grabbed my elbow her voice was scarcely audible.
Jerrytrue as I livecross my heart!
Longbonyfingersjust like Uncle Peter's used to feelOh-h!
CHAPTER XIX. THE LETTER
I don't understand Mrs. Westley lifted anxious eyes from her
soup-plate. Gyp always telephones! And both of them
I saw Peggy Lee and Pat Everett coming home from the dressmaker's
and she wasn't with them, offered Isobel. But she's all right,
Such dreadful things happen
I'd like to see anyone try to kidnap Gyp, laughed Graham.
Then he added, in an off-hand way: The ice broke on the lake out at
Highacres to-day. Guess the skating's over.
Graham! cried Mrs. Westley, springing to her feet so precipitously
that her chair fell backward with a crash. Her face was deathly white.
Graham, frightened by his careless remark, went to her quickly.
MotherI didn't mean to frighten you! Why there's only one chance
in a hundred the girls were on the ice. If they'd been skating some
of us would have seen them!
Where are they? groaned the mother. They might have gone
on the lakeafterwardsand not knownand broken throughandno one
wouldknow She shuddered; only by a great effort could she keep
back the tears.
Mother, please don't worry, begged Isobel. Let's call up every
one of the girls and then we'll surely find them.
Not one of them wanted any more dinner. They went to the library and
Graham began telephoning to Gyp's schoolmatesa tedious and
discouraging process, for each reported that she had not seen either
Gyp or Jerry since the close of school.
I can't bear it! We must do something Mrs. Westley
sprang to her feet. Graham, call Uncle Johnny and tell him to come
Something of the mother's alarm affected Isobel and Graham. Graham's
voice was very serious as he begged Uncle Johnny, whom he found at his
club, to come over at once. Then he slipped his arm around his mother
as though he wanted her to know that he would do anything on earth for
Uncle Johnny listened to the story of Gyp's and Jerry's
disappearance with a very grave face. He made Graham tell twice how the
ice had broken that afternoon on the lake, frightening the skaters
What time was that?
Ohearly. About three o'clock. There were only four or five of us
on the lake. You see, hockey practice is over.
But I remember Gyp saying this morning that she was going to have
one more skate! cried Isobel suddenly.
Before we report this to the police, Mary, we'll go out to
Highacres, Uncle Johnny said. And the thought of what he might find
there made Mrs. Westley grip the back of a chair for support. Come
with me, Graham. Isobelstay with your mother.
Graham went off to the garage to give such directions as Uncle
Johnny had whispered to him. Just then Barbara Lee, whom Isobel had
reached on the telephone, came in, hurriedly.
I talked to the girls for a moment after the close of school. They
were standing near the library door. They had on their coats and hats.
Her report was disquieting.
May I go with you? she asked John Westley. He turned to
hersomething in her face, in her steady eyes, made him feel that if
out at Highacres he found what he prayed he might not findhe
would need her.
YesI want you, he answered simply, wondering a little why, at
this distressed moment, he should feel such an absurd sense of comfort
in having her with him.
They drove away, two long poles and a coil of rope in the tonneau.
In the library Isobel sat holding her mother's hand, wishing she could
say something that would drive that white look from her mother's face.
But her distress left room for the little jealous thought that Uncle
Johnny had told her to stay at home and then had taken Barbara
Lee! And she wondered, too, if it were she who was lost, and not
Gyp, would mother care as much?
At that moment Mrs. Westley threw her arms about her and held her
I just must feel you, dear, safe here with meor I
* * * * *
Jerry! Look! That flashit comesand goes! Gyp's voice, scarcely
a whisper, breathed in Jerry's ear.
The two girls were huddled in the little window of the tower room.
Gyp was almost hysterical; Jerry had had all she wanted of ghosts. Gyp
had felt thin fingers grip her elbow, her shouldereven her ankle.
Someone had breathed in her ear. Jerry, too, had admitted that she had
heard sounds of irregular breathing from a corner of the room near the
secret door. And there had been a constant tap-tapping! And something
had laugheda horrible, thin, ghost laugh, though Jerry said
afterwards that it might have been the wind.
Gyp had seen white figures floating about outside, too. Uncle Peter
had brought spirit-cronies with him! And now the ghostly flash of
Gyp Jerry suddenly spoke aloud. It's aflashlight!
See, someone is swinging it as they walk. Oh Inspired to
action, Jerry seized a huge book and sent it crashing through the
window. Help! Help! she screamed, through the broken glass.
Startled, Uncle Johnny, Graham, Barbara Lee and the assistant
janitor, whom they had aroused, halted. Graham, dropping the coil of
rope, pointed excitedly to the tower.
Lookthey're in the tower room! Well, I never That the
tower room and its mysteries should remain under lock and key had been
a grievance to Graham.
Uncle Johnny shouted to the girls; a great relief, surging through
him, made his voice vibrate with joy. And in the light of the electric
flash he saw that Barbara Lee's eyes were glistening with something
suspiciously like tears.
Now, to rescue the imprisoned maidens, he laughed, turning to the
It took but a few moments for the little party to reach the third
floor. Then from above came a plaintive voice.
If you'll just touch George Washington on the left-hand side of
thethe framehe'll moveand
For a moment, John Westley, staring at the panel, wondered if he
were crazy or if Gyp and Jerry
We got inthat way, the voice explained. You can't open the
other door! And please hurryit's dreadfully dark
The truth flashed over Graham. Of all things! A secret
door! he shouted. He put his shoulder to the huge box of books that
had been shoved close to the picture, until it could be unpacked. Give
a hand here! he commanded excitedly.
They all obeyed himeven Barbara Lee, next to Uncle Johnny, shoved
with all the strength of her muscular arms. And Uncle Johnny commenced
to chuckle softly.
The imps, he muttered. Trapped in their lair.
The box well out of the way, Graham pressed the left-hand side of
the panel picture and it swung out under his amazed eyes, revealing a
white-faced Gyp standing in the narrow aperture, and Jerry close
behind. Their big, frightened eyes blinked in the flashlight.
Uncle Johnny managed to embrace both at once. He wisely asked no
explanations, for he could see that tears were not far away. Barbara
Lee hugged them, too, and the assistant janitor, who had a girl of his
own and at the suggestion of dragging the lake, had been startled out
of a year's growth as he said afterwards (though he was six feet tall,
then), beamed on them as though he would like to caress them,
too. Graham was excitedly swinging the panel back and forth and peering
longingly up the dark, narrow stairway.
How'd you find it? Does it open right into the tower room? Were you
scared? he asked.
I'm hungry, declared Gyp.
Let's hear all about it on the way home, suggested Uncle Johnny.
And we'll put George Washington back in placethere's no use letting
the entire school know about this. His words were directed to Graham
and to the janitor. Now, my girlieswhat in the world have you got?
For Jerry had picked up the huge Bible.
It's aa letter we foundin the Bible
So you brought the whole thing? Uncle Johnny laughed. Lead the
way, Miss Lee.
In the automobile Gyp had to have an explanation of the poles and
the rope. When she heard of their fears her face grew troubled.
Ohhow mumsey must have worried! As the automobile drew up
at the curb she sprang from it and rushed into the house, straight into
her mother's armsMrs. Westley had heard the car stop and had walked
with faltering steps to the door.
Mother, I didn't want you to be worriednot for the
world! But we couldn't help it.
With the girls safe at home the horrible fears that had tortured
them all seemed very foolish. The entire family listened with deep
interest while Gyp told of that first afternoon when she and Jerry had
discovered the secret stairway and of the subsequent meetings of the
Ravens in the tower room.
Please, Uncle Johnny, make Isobel and Graham promise they won't
tell anybody! It ought to be ours 'cause we found it and we're
Westleys, begged Gyp.
Whatever in the world possessed Peter Westley to build a secret
stairway in his house? Mrs. Westley asked John Westley. Who ever
heard of such a thing in this day and age?
It's not at all surprising when one recalls how persistently he
always avoided people. He planned that as a way of escaping from
anyoneeven the servants. Can't you picture him grinning down from
those windows upon departing callers? Doubtless many a time I've walked
away myself, after that man of his told me he couldn't be found.
I think it's deliciously romantic, exclaimed Isobel, and I have
just as much right to use it as Gyp has.
My girlsI am afraid the whole matter will have to go to the board
of trustees. RememberUncle Peter gave Highacres to Lincoln Schoolwe
have nothing to say about it.
Wasn't it dark up there? asked Graham.
Gyp looked at Jerry and Jerry looked at Gyp. By some process of
mental communication they agreed to say nothing about Uncle Peter's
ghost. Back here in the softly-lighted, warm living-room, those weird
voices and clammy fingers seemed unreal. However, there was the
letterGyp reached for the Bible.
We were looking through some booksand we found this. Holding the
envelope gingerly between her thumb and forefinger, she handed it to
He read the address, turned the envelope over and over in his hand.
How strangeit has never been opened. It's addressed to Robert.
I'll give it to you. He handed it to Mrs. Westley.
She took it with some of Gyp's reluctance. It's Uncle Peter's
handwritingbut how fresh it looks. It's dated two days before he
died, John! I suppose he put it in that Bible and it was never found.
She tore the envelope open and spread out the sheets. It's to both you
and Robertread it.
My Dear Nephews:
It won't be long before I go over the river, and I'm gladfor
an old man and I've lived my life and I can't do much more,
better be through with it. But I wish I could live long enough
right a few things that are wrong. I mean things that I've
especially one thing. Lately there isn't much peace of mind
I've tried to find it in the Bible, but though there's a lot
forgiveness I can't figure out what a man ought to do when
waited almost a lifetime to get it. I've always been hard as
I thought a man had to be to make money, but now it all don't
worth while, for what good is your money when you're old if
conscience is going to torment you?
Right now I'd give half I possessed if I could make up to a
fellow for a contemptible wrong I did him. So I'm writing this
ask you to do it for me, and then I guess I'll rest
easierwherever I am.
Neither of you knew, I suppose, just what made the Westley
Mixer a success; it came near not being one. Back there when
were just starting it up, Craig Winton, a young, smart-looking
chap, came to me with a mechanical device he'd invented that
believed we needed in our cement-mixing machine. We didI
right off that that invention was what we had to have to make
business a success; without it every cent the other
and myself had put into the thing would be lost. I offered the
young fellow a paltry amount, and when he wouldn't accept it,
him go away. Our engineers worked hard to get his idea, but
couldn't. After a few months he came back. He looked ill and
shabby and low-spirited. I told him we wouldn't give him a
more, that I didn't think his invention would help us much,
let him go away again. The directors were all for paying him
amount, but I told them that if we'd wait he'd come back and
good as give the thing to us or I couldn't read signs, for I'd
something mighty like desperation in the chap's eyes. Even
the directors talked a lot about failure, I thought the gamble
worth a try, and I made them wait. I was rightyoung Winton
back, looking more like a wreck than ever, and he took just
offered him, which was a little less than my first price. And
made him sign a paper waiving all future claims on the patents
the stockholders of the firm. That little invention made all
money. But lately I can't get the fellow's eyes out of my
mindthey were queer eyes, glowing like they were lighted,
that last time they had a look in them as though something was
I'm too old to face this thing before the world, but I want you
find Craig Winton and give him or his heirs a hundred thousand
dollars, which I've figured would be something like his
of the profits if I had drawn an honorable contract with him.
time he came to me he lived in Boston. I've always laughed at
that talked about honor in business, but now that I'm looking
from the end of the trail I guess maybe they're right and I've
CHAPTER XX. THE FAMILY COUNCILS
Uncle Johnny laid Peter Westley's letter down. A silence held them
all; it was as though a voice from some other world had been speaking
to them. Mrs. Westley shivered.
How I hate money, she cried impulsively. Then, the very comfort
and luxury of the room reproaching her, she added: I mean, I hate to
think that wherever big fortunes are made so many are ground down in
Graham was frowning at the letter.
Of course you're going to hunt up this fellow? he asked,
anxiously, a dull red flushing his cheeks. Wasn't that as bad as
Maybe he's dead now and it's too late, cried Gyp, who thought the
whole thing full of intensely interesting possibilities.
Uncle Peter cannot defend himself, now, Graham, so let us not pass
judgment upon what he has done. And I don't suppose I can act on this
matter until your father comes home.
Oh, John, I know he will want to carry out his Uncle Peter's wish!
You need not wait; too much time has been lost already, urged Mrs.
Graham was standing in front of the fire, his back to the blaze. It
struck Uncle Johnny and his mother both that there was a new manliness
in the slim, straight figure.
I want to help find him. It's when you know about such
tricks and cheating andand injustice that you hate this trying to
make money. I think things ought to be divided up in this world and
every fellow given an equal chance.
John Westley laid his hand on the boy's shoulder. Real justice is
the hardest thing to find in this world, sonny. But keep the thought of
it always in your mindand look out for the rights of the other
fellow, then you'll never make the mistakes Uncle Peter did.
Poor old man, all he cared about in the world was making money, and
then in his old age it gave him no joyonly torment. And he'd killed
everything else in him that might have brought him a little happiness!
I'm glad you and Robert aren't like him, Mrs. Westley added.
I am, too, cried Gyp, so fervently that everyone laughed.
How do you find people? put in Tibby, who was trying very hard to
understand what it was all about.
It will be somewhat like the needle in the hay-stack. Boston
is a big placeand a lot can happen inlet me see, that must have
been fifteen years ago.
Will you hire detectives? Gyp was quivering with the desire to
help hunt down the mysterious Craig Winton.
I don't want to; I've always had a sort of distrust of detectives
and yet we may have to. We have so little to start on. I'll get Stevens
and Murray together to-morrowperhaps they can tell me more about the
buying of the patent. And I'll have Watkins recommend some reliable
Boston attorney. Uncle John's voice sounded as though he meant
Isobel had said nothing during the little family council. She
suddenly lifted her head, her eyes dark with disapproval.
Won't giving this person all that money make us poor?
Something in her tone sent a little shock through the others.
My dear protested her mother.
Oh, you'd go on cheating himjust like Uncle Peter! That's
like youjust think about yourself, accused Graham, disgustedly.
Do you want tainted money? cried Gyp grandly.
Isobel's face flamed. You're hateful, Graham Westley. I don't like
money a bit better than you doyou'd be squealing if you
couldn't get that new motorcycle and go to camp and spend all the money
you do. And I think it's silly to hunt him up after all this
time. He's probably invented a lot of things since and doesn't need any
money, and if he hasn'twell, inventors are always poor, anyway.
Isobel tried to make her logic sound as reasonable to the others as it
did to her.
Bonnie, dear That was the name Uncle Johnny had given to her
in nursery days; he had not used it for a long time. There are two
reasons why we must carry out the wish Uncle Peter has expressed in
this letter. One is, because he has asked it. He thought he
would have time to give the letter to us himselfperhaps tell us more
about it; he did not dream that it would lie for two years in that
Bible. The other reason is that it is the honorable thing to doand it
not only involves the honor of Uncle Peter's name but your father's
honor and mineyour mother's, yours, Graham'seven little Tibby's. We
would do it if it took our last cent. But it won't
Oh, Uncle Johnny, you're great Graham suddenly turned his face
to the fire to hide his feeling. When I'm a man I want to be just like
Isobel would not let herself be persuaded to accept her family's
point of view. In her heart there still rankled the thought that Uncle
Johnny had taken Barbara Lee with him to Highacres and had made her
stay at home. And it had been silly for them all to get so excited and
make such a fuss over Gyp and Jerrythey might have known that they'd
turn up all right. When she had seen Uncle Johnny pull Jerry down to a
seat beside him on the davenport she had hated her!
Mrs. Westley followed John Westley to the little room that was
always called father's study.
Won't it be exciting hunting up this Craig Winton? Gyp asked the
others. Isn't it an interesting name? Maybe he'll have a lot of
children. I hope there'll be some girls. Gyp hugged her knees in an
ecstasy of anticipation. If they're dreadfully poor it'll be like
their finding a fairy godmother. Think of all they can have with that
All I hopeIsobel's voice rang cruelly clearis that
Uncle Johnny won't want to bring any more charity girls here!
She rose, then, and without looking at any of them, walked from the
Gyp opened her lips to speak, then closed them quickly. Whatever she
might say, she knew, instinctively, would only add to the hurt Isobel
had inflicted. She could not even throw her arms around Jerry's neck
and hug her the way she wanted to do, because the expression of Jerry's
face forbade it. It was a very terrible expression, Gyp thought, a
little frightenedJerry's eyes glowed with such a fierce pride and yet
were so hurt!
After a moment Jerry said slowly, II am going to bed. Gyp wished
that Graham would say something and Graham wished Gyp would say
something, and both sat tongue-tied while Jerry walked out of the room.
Do you think we ought to tell mother? Gyp asked, in a hushed
N-no, Graham hated the thought of tale-bearing. But Isobel's an
awful snob. It's her going around with Cora Stanton and Amy Mathers.
To think this gave some comfort to Graham and Gyp.
WellI don't know what Jerry will do, sighed Gyp
The door of Jerry's room was shut and Gyp had not the courage to
open it. She listened for a moment outside itthere was not a sound
from within. She went into her own room and undressed slowly, with a
vague uneasiness that something was going to happen.
There had been no sound in Jerry's room because she had been
standing rigid in the window, staring with burning, angry eyes out into
the darkness. Her beautiful, happy world, that she had thought so full
of kindness and good-fellowship, had turned suddenly upside down!
Charity girl She did not know just what it meant, but it made her
think of homeless, nameless, unloved waifsmotherless, fatherless,
dependent upon the world's generosity. Her hand went to her throat
charity girlwas not her beloved Sunnyside, with Sweetheart and
Little-Dad, richer and more beautiful than anything on earth? And
hadn't she always hadLike a flash, though, she saw herself in the
queerly-fashioned brown dress that had seemed very nice back at
Miller's Notch, but very funny when contrasted with the pretty, simple
serge dresses that the other girls at Highacres wore. Perhaps they had
all thought she was a charity girl, a waif brought here by
Uncle Johnny. To be sure, her schoolmates had welcomed her into all
their activities, but perhaps they had felt sorry for her and, anyway,
it had been after Uncle Johnny had given her the Christmas
She looked down at the dress she woreit was the school dress that
had been in the box. Perhaps she should not have taken ittaking it
may have made her a charity girl. She should never have come here. It
was costing someone money to send her to Highacres and to feed her; and
often Mrs. Westley gave little things to herand none of this could
With furious fingers Jerry unfastened and tore off the Christmas
dress. From its hook in her clothes closet she took down the despised
brown garment. Her only thought, then, was to sort out her very own
possessions, but, as she collected the few things, the plan to go
awayanywheretook shape in her mind. She would go to Barbara Lee
until her mother could send for her!
Then her door opened slowly. On the threshold stood Gyp in her red
dressing-gown. It was not so dark but that Gyp could see that Jerry
wore her old brown dress and that she held her hat in her hand. With
one bound she was at her friend's side, holding her arm tightly.
Jerry, you're not going away! You're not
I'vegotto. I won't be
You're not awhatever Isobel said! She's horridshe's
jealous of you because Dana King andand everybody thinks
you're the most popular girl at Lincoln. Peggy Lee said she heard a
crowd of girls saying sothat it was 'cause you're always nice to
everybody and 'cause you like to do everythingI won't let you
go! There was something very stubborn in Gyp's dark face; Jerry wished
she had not come in. Just before it had seemed so easy to slip away to
Barbara Lee's and now
I never should have come here. I never should have let you all
Gyp gave her chum a little shake.
Jerry Travis, Uncle Johnny brought you 'cause he said he knew you
could give Lincoln School and Isobel and me a lotoh, of
somethingmother read it in his letterI remember. He said it was
like a sort of scholarship. And I heard mother tell him the day I was
teasing her to let me cut my hair short like yours, that she'd be
willing to let me do anything if I could learn to be as sunny as you
areI heard her, 'cause I was listening to see if she was going to let
me. So you've more than paid for everything. There's something
more than just money! You're too proud; you're prouder
than Isobel herself
Jerry dropped her hat on the bed. Gyp took it as a promising sign
and she closed her arms tight around Jerry's shoulders.
If you go away it will break my heart, she declared. I love you
more'n any chum I ever hadmore than anybodyexcept my family,
of course, and I love them differently, so it doesn't count. And mother
loves you, too, and so does Tibby, and so does Uncle Johnny. And if you
don't tell me right off that you won't go away I'll go straight to
mother and then we'll have to tell her how nasty Isobel was, and
that'll make her unhappy. And I mean it. There was no doubt of
Gyp's concluding argument broke down Jerry's determination to go.
No, she could not; as Gyp had said, if she went away Mrs. Westley and
Uncle Johnny must know why. She could not do a single thing that would
make either of them the least unhappy. That would be poor gratitude.
Perhaps Gyp was right, toothat she was too proud! Surely her
mother would never have let her come if it was going to bring the least
humiliation to her.
Gyp with quick fingers began to unbutton the brown dress. Let's
just show Isobel that we don't care what she says. I think it's that
horrid Cora Stanton and Amy Mathers that makes her act so, anyway.
They're horrid! Amy Mathers puts peroxide on her hair and Cora Stanton
cheated in the geometry exameveryone says soI know what let's do,
Jerry, there were some cup cakes left; I saw them in the pantrylet's
go down ever so quietly and get themand we'll have a spliffy spread.
As she spoke she caught up Jerry's warm eiderdown wrapper and threw it
Gyp's devotion was very soothing to poor distraught Jerryso, too,
was the suggestion of the cup cakes. But half-way down the stairs Jerry
stopped short and whispered tragically in Gyp's ear:
Gypwe can't eat them! Our school recordno sweets between
meals! And at the thought of school Jerry's world suddenly righted
Oh, well Gyp would have liked to suggest missing a point. We
can eat crackers and peanut butterinstead.
CHAPTER XXI. POOR ISOBEL
The rawness of March gave way to a half-hearted April, days of
pelting rain with a few hours now and then of warm sunshine. Patches of
grass showed green against the dirty snowbanks lingering stubbornly in
sheltered corners; here and there a tiny purple or yellow crocus put up
its bright head; a few brave robins started their nest-keeping and,
perched shivering on bare boughs, valiantly sung the promise of spring.
There were other signs to mark the changing of the seasonsan
organ-grinder trundled his wagon down the street, rag-pickers chanted,
small, scurrying figures darted in and out on roller-skates, marbles
rattled in ragged pockets, and the Lincoln boys and girls at Highacres
turned their attention from basketball and hockey to swimming and the
Isobel Westley had been chosen to play the part of Hermia in A
Midsummer Night's Dream. Her family shared her pleasurethey felt
that a great distinction had come to them. Gyp and Jerry, particularly,
were immensely excited. Jerry, who had only been to the theatre twice
in her life, thought Isobel far more wonderful than the greatest
actress who ever lived. Both girls sat by the hour and listened
admiringly while Isobel rehearsed her lines before them.
Mrs. Westley, who had never quite outgrown a love of amateur
dramatics, gave her approval to Isobel's plans for her costume. The
other girls, Isobel explained, were making theirs, but Hermia's should
be especially niceso couldn't Madame Seelye design it? Madame Seelye
did design itIsobel standing patiently before the long mirror in the
fashionable modiste's fitting-room while Madame, herself, on her knees,
pinned and unpinned and pinned again soft folds of pink satin which
made Isobel's face, above it, reflect the color of a rose.
You'd think the whole world revolved 'round your old play,
exclaimed Graham, not ill-humoredly. He had asked to be allowed to use
the car to take a crowd of the fellows out to see if any sap was
running in the woods and Mrs. Westley had explained that Isobel had to
have her last fitting, stop at the hair-dresser's to try on a wig, and
then go on to Alding's to match a pair of slippers.
It does, laughed Isobel back, her eyes shining. She was very
happy, and when she was happy she was a gay, good-natured Isobel and a
very beautiful Isobel. All through the school year her spirit had
smarted under the prominence attained by her schoolmates in the various
school activitiesGinny Cox was conspicuous in everything and on the
honor roll, besides; Peggy Lee played hockey and basketball, Dorrie was
in the Glee Club, Pat Everett was a lieutenant in her scout troop, Cora
Stanton was editor of the school paper, Sheila Quinn was the class
presidenteven Gyp was a sub on the all-school basketball team, and
Jerrysince that day she had skied down Haskin's Hill she had
pushed her way into everything (that was the way Isobel thought of it);
she played on the hockey team and had subbed on the sophomore
basketball team and it was certain she would be picked on the swimming
team. Though Isobel scorned all these activities because they were not
any fun, according to her creed, deep in her heart she had envied the
girls who could enjoy them. But now her vanity was soothed and
satisfied; anyone could play basketball or skate or swim, but no one
could be the Hermia that she was going to be! Miss Gray had
complimented her upon the interpretation she gave the rôle and her eyes
told her what she saw in Madame Seelye's mirror.
And Dana King was playing Lysandera fine Athenian lad he made.
Isobel could afford now to forget the grudge she had nursed against him
ever since the Christmas party. He looked so really grown-up that it
pleased her to be a little shy with him, as though she had just met
himto forget that they had been schoolmates since kindergarten days.
She read admiration in his eyes. What would he think, she said to
herself, with a little flutter, when he saw the rose-pink costume?
Isobel Westley, what fun to have a rehearsal every
afternoon, had cried one of a group of girls which surrounded her.
Does Lysander walk home with Hermia every day? asked another, with
a meaning laugh.
Tell us all about it, coaxed Amy Mathers. It's too romantic for
Isobel blushed and laughed and pushed them away. She knew that they
all envied hershe wanted them to envy her. She knew that
anyone of them would gladly change places with her. Even Gyp and Jerry
had sighed and begged their mother to help them get up some sort of a
play in which they could take part. Gyp had asked Miss Gray to be
allowed to help in the make-up room, even if she did nothing more than
pass the little jars of cream and sticks of paint. And to Jerry had
been assigned the especial task of shoving Puck, who was sadly
rattle-brained, upon the stage, when the cues came.
[Illustration: GYP, JERRY, TIBBY, EVEN GRAHAM, SUPERINTENDED
ISOBEL'S PREPARATIONS FOR THE DRESS REHEARSAL]
The play was to be given on Saturday evening. On Friday evening a
full-dress rehearsal was called. Hermia's costume was finished and was
spread, in all its ravishing beauty, across the guest-room bed. On the
floor from beneath it peeped the slippers which had been made to order.
It'll make all the others look cheap, declared Isobel, thrilling
at the pretty sight.
Mrs. Westley looked troubled. Certain doubts had been disturbing her
ever since that first moment of enthusiasm when she had yielded to
Isobel's coaxing. Isobel had said that the other girls were making
their own costumesshe knew that the faculty disliked any extravagance
or great expenditures of money in any of the school affairsmight it
not have been better to have helped Isobel fashion something simple and
pretty at home? Then when she watched Isobel's flushed, happy face,
radiantly pretty, she smothered her doubt.
Pride goeth before a fall, daughter mine. Take care that your
costume doesn't make you forget your part, she laughed. After all,
Isobel was so pretty that she would outshine the others, anywaylet
her costume be ever so dowdy!
Gyp, Jerry, Tibby, even Graham, superintended Isobel's preparations
for the dress rehearsal. Gyp sat back on her heels and declared that
Hermia was good enough to eat. Jerry thought so, too, though she had
not the courage to say so. Graham straddled the footboard of the bed
and passed scathing remarks concerning girls' duds, but his eyes were
proudly admiring and in his pocket he treasured a ticket for the first
row that he had bought from another fellow at an advanced price. Isobel
ready, they all squeezed merrily into the automobile, taking care not
to crush the rose-pink finery, and whirled off to Highacres.
Isobel, who loved dramatic situations in real life quite as well as
in make-believe, planned to conceal her radiance until her first
appearance on the stage, when she would startle them all, and
especially Lysander, with her dazzling loveliness. She stood in a
shadow of the wings with her coat wrapped about her. Except for Jerry,
waiting to do her humble part, she was alone. She listened to the
ceaseless chatter in the dressing-room with a happy smile. She heard
Mr. Oliver, the coach, giving sharp orders. There was some trouble with
the curtain. She took a quick step forward to see what it was; the high
heel of her satin slipper caught in a coil of rope from the staging and
she fell forward to her knees. With the one thought to save the satin
gown, she jerked her body quickly backward.
Oh, Isobel, are you hurt? Jerry was at her side in a moment.
N-no, only Isobel managed to get to her feet, but she leaned
dizzily against the scene propping. Whoever left that old rope here!
They ought to be reported! She glared angrily at poor Jerry as though
the fault must be hers. I'veI've ruined my dress, she sobbed.
Jerry examined the satin skirt. There isn't the tiniest spot,
Isobel. But are you sure you are not hurt? Please try to walk.
That was exactly what Isobel did not want to do, for there was a
horrible aching pain around her knee. Then she heard Mr. Oliver's voice
again. The curtain had been fixed; in a moment
Leave me alone! You'd just like it if I couldn't go
Isobel! Oh, here you are. Dana King stuck his head around the
corner. Isobel let her cape drop to the floor. The whiteness of her
face only added to the pleasing effect. Whew! Lysander
whistled. Some class! Say, you're great! Come onold Oliver's
throwing a fit.
With Jerry's anxious eyes and Dana King's admiring gaze upon her, it
was possible for Isobel to walk out upon the stage. Somehow or other
she got through her partmiserably, she knew, for again and again Mr.
Oliver made her repeat her lines and once, in despair, stopped
everything to ask her if she was ill, and did not wish to have Miss Lee
take her part. Isobel did not intend giving up her part to anyone; she
gritted her little white teeth and went on.
Upon arriving home she declined the hot cocoa Mrs. Westley had
waiting for her and hurried to her room on the plea of being very
tired. She sat huddled in her dressing gown waiting, with a white,
strained face, until she heard the girls' steps on the stairs. Then she
Close the door, she whispered, without further greeting. I want
you to promise not to tell mother oror anyone thatI hurt myself. I
didn't hurt myselfmuch, and, anyway, I'm going to be in that
play if I die! Isobel had hard work to keep back the tears.
Jerry was all sympathy. I won't tell anyone, Isobel, if you don't
want me to. And let me look at your kneeit is your knee, isn't it? I
know a lot about those things 'cause Little-Dad's a doctor, you see.
Jerry knelt by the side of Isobel's chair and gently drew aside the
dressing gown. Oh, Isobel! she cried softly. The knee was badly
swollen and the flesh had discolored. That looksmaybe you ought
Isobel jerked away from her. If you're going to make a fuss you can
go to bed! But if you know anythingoh, it hurtsterribly
Without another word Jerry went after hot water and towels. Half
through the night she sat by Isobel's bed, her eyes heavy with sleep,
patiently administering pack after pack. Gradually the pain subsided
and Isobel dropped off into slumber.
All the next day Isobel's secret weighed heavily on Jerry's
conscience; with it, too, was an uncertain admiration for Isobel's
grit. But Jerry wondered if she, even though she might be the Hermia
that Isobel was and wear the rose satincould want it enough to endure
the pain silently.
Isobel had begged to be allowed to stay in bed all day and rest
and her mother had willingly acquiesced, carrying her meals to her room
and chatting with her, unsuspecting, while she nibbled at what was on
Jerry helped Isobel dress. The pain caused by the effort to stand on
the injured leg brought a deep flush to Isobel's cheeks and tiny
purplish shadows under her pretty eyes, so that she made even a
lovelier Hermia than on the evening before. That knowledge, the murmur
of admiration that swept through the crowded hall, the envy she read on
the other girls' faces, the shy, boyish wonder in Lysander's lingering
glance, helped her through the agony of it all until the very end when,
quite suddenly, she crumpled into Lysander's quickly-outstretched arms!
The last scene had a touch of reality not expected; no one had the
presence of mind to ring down the curtain; the girls and boys rushed
pell-mell upon the stage.
Graham and Dana King carried Isobel to an empty classroom where she
quickly regained consciousness. Her first sensation was a deep
thankfulness that the play was over and that she could tell about her
injured knee. Jerry had already done so, a little conscience-smitten,
and Uncle Johnny had rushed away for a doctor. Isobel looked at her
crumpled rose-pink skirts with something akin to loathing and clung
tightly to her mother's hand. Graham, in a voice that sounded far off,
was assuring her that he could carry her out to the car without hurting
her the least bit! And Dana King was asking, at regular intervals, and
in an anxious voice, if she felt better. Oh, it was nice to have
them all careit made the pain easier
...She liked the funny bright lights swimming all around her and the
quick steps and the hushed voices.... Mrs. Hicks' little round eyes
blinking at her ... the feel of the soft sheets and the doctor's cold
touch on her poor, swollen knee ... the swinging things before her eyes
and the far-off hum of voices that were really very close and the tiny
star of light over the blur in the other end of the room ... the
million stars ... the slippery taste of the medicine someone gave her
... and always mother's fingers tight, tight about her own....
This is very serious, came in a small voice that couldn't be the
doctor's because he spoke with a deep boom ... then she went to
CHAPTER XXII. JERRY WINS HER WAY
Poor, pretty Hermiatrying days followed her little hour of
triumph. While the whole school buzzed over the gorgeousness of her
costume, over the satin and silver-heeled slippers, over her prettiness
and how she had really acted just as well as Ethel Barrymore, she lay
very still on her white bed and let one doctor after another do
things to her poor knee. There were consultations and X-ray
photographs, and all through it old Doctor Bowerman, who had dosed her
through mumps and measles, kept saying, at every opportunity, with a
maddening wag of his bald head: If you only hadn't been such a little
fool as to walk on it! Finally, after what seemed to Isobel a great
deal of needless fuss, the verdict was givenin an impressive
now-you'll-do-as-I-tell-you manner; she had torn the muscles and
ligaments of her knee; some had stretched, little nerves had been
injured; she must lie very quietly in bed for a few weeks and
I know what he means, Isobel had cried afterwards, in a passion of
fear; he means he can tell then whether I will ever be able toto
dance again or not! The thought was so terrible that her mother had
difficulty soothing her.
If you do what he tells you now you'll be dancing again in less
than no time, reassured Uncle Johnny. Dr. Bowerman wants to frighten
you so that you will be careful.
The first week or so of the enforced quiet passed very pleasantly;
mother had engaged a cheery-faced nurse who proved to be excellent
company; every afternoon some of the girls ran in on their way home
from school with exciting bits of school gossip and the whispered
inquiryof which Isobel never weariedhow had it felt to faint
straight into Dana King's arms? Uncle Johnny brought jolly gifts,
flowers, books, puzzles; Gyp tirelessly carried messages to Amy Mathers
and Cora Stanton and back again.
But as the days passed these pleasant little excitements failed her,
one by one. Mother decided that the nurse was not neededthere was no
medicine to be givenand a tutor was engaged, instead, to come each
morning. Her school friends grew weary of the details of Isobel's
accident and the limitations of her pink-and-white room; other things
at school claimed their attentiona new riding club was starting, and
the Senior parties; they had not a minute, they begged Gyp to tell
Isobel, to playthey were awfully sorry and they'd run in when they
could. Gyp and Jerry, too, were swimming every afternoon in preparation
for the spring inter-school swimming meet. The long hours dragged for
the little shut-in; she nursed a not-unpleasant conviction that she was
abused and neglected. She consoled her wounded spirit with morbid
pictures of how, after a long, bedridden life, she would reap, at its
end, a desperate remorse from her selfish, inconsiderate family; she
refused to be cheered by the doctor's assertion that she was making a
tremendously nice recovery and would be as lively on her feet as
she'd ever beenthough he never failed to add: You don't deserve it!
One afternoon, three weeks after the accident, Isobel looked at her
small desk clock for the fourth time in fifteen minutes. A ceaseless
patter of rain against the window made the day unusually trying. Her
mother had gone, by the doctor's orders, to Atlantic City for a week's
rest, leaving her to the capable ministrations of Mrs. Hicks. That lady
had carried off her luncheon tray with the declaration that a body
couldn't please Miss Isobel anyways and if Miss Isobel wanted anything
she could ring, and Isobel had mentally determined, making a little
face after the departing figure, that she'd die before she asked old
Hicks for anything! It was only half past twoit would be an hour
before even Tibby would come, or Gyp or Jerry. What day was it?
When one spent every day in one small pink-and-white room it was not
easy to remember! Thursdayno, Wednesday, because Mrs. Hicks had said
the cook was out
A door below opened and shut. Footsteps sounded from the hall;
quick, bounding, they passed her door.
Gyp! Isobel called. There was no answer. Someone was moving in the
nursery; it was Jerry, then, not Gyp.
Jerry! Still there was no answer. Jerry was too busy turning the
contents of her bureau drawer to hear. She found the bathing-cap for
which she was hunting and started down the hall. A sudden, pitiful,
choky sob halted her flight.
When she peeped into Isobel's room Isobel was lying with her face
buried in her pillow.
Isobel Jerry advanced quickly to the side of the bed. Is
anything wrong? What is the matter?
II wish Iwere dead!
So would you if you had to lie here day in and day out aa
helpless cripple and left all alone
Jerry looked around the quiet room. There was something very lonely
about itand that patter of the rain
Isn't Mrs. Hicks
OhHicks. She's just a crosspatch! You all leave me to
servants because I can't move. Nobody loves me the least little bit.
II wish I were dead.
To Jerry there was something very dreadful in Isobel's words. What
if her wish came true, then and there? What if the breath suddenly
stoppedand it would be too late to take back the wish
Oh, don't say that again, Isobel. Can't I stay with you?
Isobel turned such a grateful face from her pillow that Jerry's
heart was touched. Of course poor Isobel was lonely and she and Gyp
had selfishly neglected her. Even though Isobel did not care very
much for her, she would doubtless be better company thanno one. She
slipped the bathing-cap in her pocket and slowly drew off her coat and
Do you mind staying? Isobel asked in a very pleading voice.
Jerry might reasonably have answered: I do mind. I cannot stay;
this is the afternoon of the great inter-school swimming meet and I am
late, now, because I came home for my cap, but she was so thrilled by
the simple fact of Isobel's wanting herher, that everything
else was forgotten.
Of course I don't. It's horrid and stupid for you to lie here all
day long. Shall I read?
Oh, noafter that dreadful tutor goes I don't want to see a
Let's think of something jollyand different. Would you like to
play travel? It's a game my mother and Little-Dad and I made up. It's
lots of fun. We pick out a certain place and we say we're going there.
We get time-tables for trains and boats and we decide just what we'll
packall pretend, of course. Then we look up in the travel books all
'bout the place and we have the grandest timemost as good as though
we really went. Last winter we traveled through Scotland. It made the
long evenings when we were shut in at Sunnyside pass like magic.
Little-Dad has a perfect passion for time-tables and he never really
goes anywhere in his lifeexcept in the game.
What fun, cried Isobel, sitting up against her pillows. A few
weeks before Isobel would have scorned such a babyish suggestion from
anyone. Where shall we go?
I've always wanted to go to Venice. We got as far as Naples and
then 'Liza Sloane's grandson got scarlet fever and Little-Dad went down
and stayed with him. I'd love to live in a palace and go everywhere in
Then we'll go to Venice and we'll travel by way of Milan and
Florence. Jerry, down in father's desk there are a whole lot of
time-tables and folders he collected the spring he planned to go
abroad. And you can get one of Stoddart's books in the libraryand a
Baedeker, too. We ought to have a whole lot of clothesit's warm in
Italy. Bring that catalogue from Altman's that's on mother's sewing
table and we'll pick out some new dresses. What fun!
Jerry went eagerly after all they needed for their game. She sat
on the other side of Isobel's bed and spread the books out around her.
First, they had to select from the colored catalogue suitable dresses
and warm wraps for shipboard; then they had to fuss over sailing dates
and cabin reservations. In the atlas Jerry traced from town to town
their route of travel, reading slowly from Baedeker just what they must
see in each town. She had a way of reading the guidebook, too, that
made Isobel see the things. It was delightful to linger in Florence;
Jerry had just suggested that they postpone going on to Venice for a
few days, and Isobel had decided to send back to America for that pale
blue dotted swiss, because it would blend so wonderfully with the
Italian sky and the pastel colors of the old, old Florentine buildings,
when they were interrupted by Gyp and Uncle Johnny.
Gyp was a veritable whirlwind of fury, her eyes were blazing, her
cheeks glowed red under her dusky skin, every tangled black hair on her
head bristled. She confronted Jerry accusingly.
So here's where you are! Her words rang shrilly.
Herefooling 'round with Isobel and you let the South High beat us by
two points! You know you were the only girl we had who could
beat Nina Sharpe in the breast stroke. They put in Mary Reed and she
was like a rock. And you swam thirty-eight strokes under water
the other day. I saw youI counted. Andand the South High girl only
got up to twenty! That's all you cared.
Jerry turned, a little frightened. She had hated missing the
swimming meetcontests were such new things in her life that they held
a wonderful fascination for herbut she had not dreamed that, through
her failure to appear, Lincoln might be beaten! She faced Gyp very
Isobel was alone
Gyp turned on her sister.
You're the very selfishest girl that ever lived, Isobel Westley,
and you're getting worse and worse. You never think of anyone in this
whole world but yourself! You never would have hurt your knee so badly
only you wanted to save your precious old dress, and you wouldn't give
in and let Peggy Lee take your part! Maybe you are lonely and
get tired lying here and everyone's sorry 'bout that, but that's not
any reason for your keeping Jerry here when we needed her so badlyand
she missed all the fun, too!
Isobel drew herself back into her pillows. She was no match for her
indignant sister. And she was aghast at the enormity of her selfish
I didn't knowhonestly, Gyp. I thought the match was on
It was. This is Thursday, scornfully.
Oh, it's Wednesday. Isn't it Wednesday? Mrs. Hicks said cook
was out and
As if the calendar ran by the cook! Cook's sister's niece's sister
was married to-day and she changed her day out. If you'd think of
Jerry took command of the situation.
It's my fault, Gyp. I could have told Isobel butI didn't. I sort
of realized how I'd feel if I had to lie there in bed day after day
when everyone else was having such a good time andwell, the swimming
match didn't seem half as important as making Isobel happy andI don't
believe it was! There was triumphant conviction in Jerry's voice, born
of the grateful little smile Isobel flashed to her.
Gyp turned disgustedly on her heel. From the doorway where Uncle
Johnny had been taking in the little scene came a chuckle. As Gyp
walked haughtily out of the room he came forward and laid his hand on
Right-o, Jerry-girl. There's more than one kind of a victory, isn't
there? Now run along and make peace with Miss Gypsy and let me get
acquainted with my Bonniefour whole days since I've seen you. There
was a suspicious crackling of tissue-paper in his pocket. One hand
slowly drew forth a small, blue velvet box which he laid in Isobel's
Oh, Uncle Johnny! For, within, lay a dainty bracelet set with
small turquoise. Quite unexpectedly Isobel's eyes filled with tears.
What is it, kitten?
It's lovely onlyonlyeverybody's too good to me forI
guessI'mwhat Gyp said I was!
There was everything in Isobel's past experience to warrant her
expecting that Uncle Johnny would vehemently protest the truth of her
outburst and assure her that no one could do enough for her. She
wanted him to do so. But, alas, she read in his face that he, too,
thought what Gyp had said was very true.
Isobel, dearI think I ought to try and make you see
somethingfor your own good. Have you ever pictured the fight that's
going on in the human blood all the timethe tiny warriors struggling
constantly, one kind to kill and the other to keep alive? The same sort
of fight's going on in our natures, too. Every one of us is born with a
whole lot of good things; they're our heritage and it's our own fault
when we don't keep 'em. I don't mean outward things, dearlike your
golden hair and those sky-blue eyes of yoursI mean the inside things,
the things that grow and make our lives. But they've got to fight to
live. If vanity and selfishness get the upper handwhere do they lead
you? Well, he laughed, I can't make you understand any more clearly
what I mean than just to point to poor old Aunt Maria!
Isobel had turned her face away; he could not see how she was taking
his clumsy little lecture.
She's just a pathetic waste of God's good claymoulded once
as He wants His children, but what has she done? She's livedno one
knows how many yearsonly to feed her own body and glorify her own
nest; she's grown in instead of out; she's never given an
honest thought to making this world or anyone in it one bit better for
her having lived in it. She's stealing from God. And what's done
itvanity, that years ago mastered all the good things in her. Poor
old soulshe was once a young, pretty girl, like you
Isobel jerked her head petulantly. The blue velvet box lay neglected
on the counterpane.
I think you're horrid to lecture me, Uncle Johnny. Mother and
Uncle Johnny smiled whimsically at the childish face.
Mothers and fathers sometimes don't see things as clearly as mere
unclesbecause they're so close. And Bonnie, dear, it's because we all
want so much of you! Let me tell you something elsethis isn't a
lecture, either. It's a little thing that happened when you were a baby
and I've never forgotten it. I didn't see you until you were a year
oldI was abroad, studying, when you were born. When I went up to your
nursery that first time, and looked at you, I thought you were the most
wonderful thing God ever made. You lay there in your little white crib
and stared at me with your round, blue eyes, and then you smiled and
thrust out the tiniest scrap of a hand. I didn't dare breathe. And
everything around you was so perfectwhite enamel, blue and yellow and
pink birds and squirrels and dogs and things painted on your walls, the
last word in baby furniture and toilet things. That very day a friend
of mine asked me to help drive the orphans of the city on their annual
outing. I was glad to do something for someoneyou see, having a new
niece made me feel as though I was walking on air. They loaded up my
car with kids of all sizes and then the last moment someone snuggled a
bit of humanity into the front seat between two older youngstersa
poor little mite with big, round, blue eyes like yours and the lower
part of her face all twisted with a great scar where she'd been burned.
I couldn't see anything on the whole ride but that little faceand
always, back in my mind were your two blue eyes and your dimpled smile.
I wanted to get through with the whole trip and hurry back to your
nursery to see if you were all right. But I stopped long enough at the
orphanage to ask about the poor baby. She'd been found in a filthy
cellar where she'd been abandonedthat's all they knew. How's that
for a heritage? Stripped of everythingexcept the soul of herto
fight through life with, and horribly disfigured in the bargain. I
asked what they did for such children and they told me that they'd keep
her until she was fourteenthen they'd have taught her some sort of
workprobably domesticand she could make her own way. God help
herfourteen, a little younger than our Gyp! I went back to your
mother's. She was out and I rushed up to your nursery. Your very
professional nurse thought I was mad. I sent her out. I took you in my
arms. I had to hold you to feel that you were safe and sound and had
all the arms and legs you needed and your face not half scarred away.
And sitting there I sort of talked to GodI begged Him to let you keep
the blessings you had at that moment and to make you worthy of them.
You're a beautiful girl, Isobel, and you have every advantage that love
and thought and money can give you, butso was Aunt Maria beautiful at
your age, before vanity and selfishness
Uncle Johnny, I've known for a long timethat you didn't love me!
That's why I've been so nasty to Jerry. You love her
Bonnie! Uncle Johnny's arm was around her now. He half shook her.
Foolish girl! I love you now just the way I loved that mite of a baby.
I've always been fonder of you than any of the others and I'm mighty
fond of them. But you were the firstthe most wonderful one.
But you'd like to have melike Jerry?
Yes, he answered, very decidedly. I'd like to have youthat kind
of a girl, who walks straight with her head upand sees big
visionsand grows toward them.
I hate goody-goody girls, sighed poor Isobel.
So do I! laughed Uncle Johnny. But you couldn't hate a girl who
would rather make someone else happy than win in a swimming match?
N-no, and I wouldn't blame Jerry if she'd just enjoy seeing me
miserableI've been so nasty to her. And she isn't goody-goody,
either! She's just
A very normal, unspoiled, happy girl who's always been so busy
thinking of everything else that she's never had a moment to think of
herself. Now to show that you forgive my two-a-penny lectures, will you
let me eat dinner with you off your tray? And what are you doing with
these books? And did you know Dr. Bowerman's going to let you try
crutches on Sunday?
Two hours later, when Jerry, a little shyly, tiptoed into Isobel's
room to say good-night, Isobel impulsively pulled her head down to the
level of her own and kissed her. She wanted to tell Jerry what Uncle
Johnny had made her feel and see but she could not find the right
words, and Jerry wanted to tell her that she wouldn't for the world
trade the jolly afternoon they had had together for any swimming match,
but she couldn't find the right words, so each just kissed the
other, wondering why she was so happy!
I'm going to walk on crutches Sunday, Jerry.
Oh, great! It will only be a little while before you're back in
CHAPTER XXIII. THE THIRD VIOLINIST
Hello! Is that you, Gyp? I want Centre 2115, please. Is this Mr.
Westley's house? Is that you, Gyp?.... This is Pat Everett.
Listen came excitedly over the wire, though Gyp was listening
as hard as she could. Peg and I've found the black-and-white man!
Gyp declared, afterwards, that the announcement had made her tingle
to her toes! Immediately she corralled Jerry, whom she found
translating Latin with a dictionary on her lap and a terrible frown on
her brow, and together they hurried to Pat's house. It was a soft May
eveningthe air was filled with the throaty twitter of robins, the
trees arched feathery green against the twilight sky. Pat and Peggy sat
bareheaded on the steps of the Everett house, waiting for them. A great
fragrant flowering honeysuckle brushed their shoulders. A more perfect
setting could not have been found for the finish of their conspiracy.
Pat plunged straight into her story.
Peg and I were coming back from Dalton's book store and we ran bang
into the manhe'd taken his hat off 'cause it was so warm and was
fanning himself with it. We both saw it at exactly the same moment and
we just turned and clutched each other and almost yelled.
And then, what? Why didn't you grab him?
As if we could lay our hands on a perfect stranger! Anyway, we've
got to be tactful. But I'm sure it's the onethere was a white
streak that ran right back from the front of his face. And he was very
handsome, tooat least we decided he would be if we were as old as
Miss Gray. I thought he was a littleoh, biggish.
And to think how we've hunted for him and he was right here
Then Gyp realized that Pat did not have the gentleman in her
But how will we find him again?
We followed himand he went into the Morse Building and got into
the elevator and we were going right in after him when who pops out but
Dr. Caton, and he looked so surprised to see us that we hesitated, and
the old elevator boy shut the door in our faces. But we asked a man who
was standing there in a uniform, like a head janitor or something, if
that gentleman in a black coat and hat and lavender tie had an office
in the building, and he said, Yes, seventh floor, 796. He leered at
us, but we looked real dignified, and Peg wrote it down on a piece of
paper and we walked away. So now all we've got to do is to just go and
see him, and Pat hugged her slim knees in an ecstasy of satisfaction.
The girls stared meditatively at a fat robin pecking into the grass
in search of a late dinner. To just go and see him was not as simple
to the conspirators as it sounded, slipping from Pat's lips.
Who'll go? Gyp put the question that was in each mind.
Perhaps it would be too many if all four of us wentso let's draw
lots which two
Oh, no! cried Jerry, aghast.
The others laughed. It'd be fairest to leave Jerry out of the
I'll go, cried Gyp grandly, if Pat or Peggy will go with me and
do the talking.
What'll we say? Now that the Ravens faced the fulfillment of their
plans they felt a little nervous.
I know Gyp's puzzled frown cleared magically. Mother has five
tickets for the Philadelphia Symphony to-morrow nightI'll ask her to
let us go and invite Miss Gray to chaperone us. Then we'll write a note
and tell this man that if he'll go to the concert and look at the third
box on the left side he'll see the lady of his heart who has been
faithful to him for years in spite of her many other suitorswe'll put
that in to make him appreciate what he's getting. It'll be much easier
writing it than saying it.
Gypyou're a wonder, cried the others, inspired to action. Let's
go in and write the note now.
The Ravens, who met now at Pat Everett's house, had neglected Miss
Gray of late. Carnations had succeeded the violets, then a single rose.
Pat had even experimented with a nosegay of everlastings which she had
found in one of the department stores. It had been weeks since they had
sent anything. For that reason a little feeling of remorse added
enthusiasm now to their plotting.
Mrs. Westley was delighted at Gyp's desire to hear the concert and
to include Miss Gray in the party. And Miss Gray's face had flushed
with genuine pleasure when Gyp invited her.
Everything's all ready, Gyp tapped across to Pat Everett, and Pat,
nodding mysteriously, pulled from her pocket the corner of a pale blue
Directly after the close of school Gyp and Pat, with Jerry and Peggy
Lee close at their heels, to bolster their courage, walked briskly
downtown to the Morse Building. If any doubts as to the propriety of
their action crept into any one of the four minds, they were quickly
dispelledfor the sake of sentiment. It, of course, would not be
pleasant, facing this stranger, but any momentary discomfort was as
nothing, considering that their act might mean many years of happiness
for poor, starved, little Miss Gray!
To avoid the leering elevator man the two girls climbed the six
flights to the seventh floor. Pat carried the letter. Gyp agreed to go
746748 read Pat.
It's the other corridor. They retraced their steps to the other
side of the building. 784-788-792 Gyp repeated the office numbers
aloud. 7-9-6! Wilbur Stratman, Undertaker!
Pat Everett! Gyp clutched her chum's arm.
Aundertaker! I won't go infor all the Miss Grays in the
Pat was seized with such a fit of giggling that she had difficulty
in speaking, even in a whisper. Isn't that funny? We've got
to go in. The girls are waitingwe'd never hear the last of it!
He can't bury us alive. Oh, d-dear She wadded her handkerchief to
her lips and leaned against the wall.
If Miss Gray wants an undertaker she can have him! For my
part I should think she'd rather have a policeman oror the
iceman! Come on Gyp's face was comical in its disgust. She turned
the knob of the door.
A thin, sad-faced woman told them that Mr. Stratman was in his
office. She eyed them curiously as, with a jerk of her head, she
motioned them through a little gate. As Gyp with trembling fingers
opened the door of the inner office, a man with a noticeable white
streak in his hair pulled his feet down from his desk, dropped a cigar
on his pen tray and reached for a coat that lay across another chair.
Isis this Mr. Stratman? asked Gyp, wishing her tongue would not
cling to the roof of her mouth.
He nodded and waited. These young girls were not like his usual
customers, probably they had some sort of a subscription blank with
them. He watched warily.
Our errand isis private, stumbled Gyp, who could see that Pat
was beyond the power of speech. It'sit's personal. We've come, in
fact, ofour own accordshe doesn't know a thing about it
MissMiss Gray. Gyp glanced wildly around. Oh, she was making a
dreadful mess of it! Why didn't Pat produce the letter instead
of standing there like a wooden image?
Being an undertaker, Mr. Wilbur Stratman met a great many women whom
he never remembered. H-m, Miss Grayof course, he nodded.
Encouraged, Gyp plunged on, with the one desire of getting the ordeal
She's dreadfully unhappy. She's been faithful to you all these
years and she's lived in a little boarding house and worked and worked
and wouldn't marry anyone else and
With an instinct of self-defense Mr. Stratman rose to his feet and
edged ever so little toward the door. Plainly these two very young
women were stark mad!
I am very sorry for Miss Gray butwhat can I do?
Oh, can't you marry her now? She's still very
pretty Gyp was trembling but undaunted. The precipice was
thereshe had to make the leap!
The undertaker paused in his contemplated flight to starethen he
laughed, a loud, hoarse laugh that sent the hot blood tingling to Gyp's
Who ever heard the beat of it! A proposal by proxy! Ha! ha!
My business is burying and not marrying! Ha! Ha! Pretty
good! I don't know your Miss Gray. Even if I did I can't get
away with a husky wife and six children at home!
Pat pulled furiously at Gyp's sleeve. A chill that felt like a cold
stream of water ran down Gyp's spine.
I don't get on to what you're after, Miss what-ever-your name is,
but you're in the wrong pew. I never knew a Miss Gray that I can
remember and I guess somebody's been kidding you.
Pat suddenly found her tonguein the nick of time, too, for a
paralysis of fright had finished poor Gyp.
We must have made a mistake, Mr. Stratman. We are very sorry to
have bothered you. We are in search of a certainparty thatthat
hasa white streakin his hair.
O-ho, the undertaker clapped his hand to his head. So that's
the ticket, hey? Well, I've always said I couldn't get away from much
with that thing always there to identify mebut I never calculated
it'd expose me to any proposals! He laughed againdoubling up in what
Pat thought a disgustingly ungraceful way. She held her head high and
pushed Gyp toward the door. We will say good-by, she concluded
Say, kids, who are you, anyway? His tone was quite unprofessional.
It is not necessary to divulge our identity, and with Gyp's arm
firmly in her grasp Pat beat a hasty retreat. Safe outside in the
corridor they fell into one another's arms, torn between tears and
With mingled disgust and disappointment the Ravens decided then and
there to let love follow its own blind, mistaken course.
Miss Gray can die an old maid before I'll ever face another
creature like that! vowed Gyp, and Pat echoed her words.
No one ever gets any thanks for meddling in other people's affairs,
anyway, Peggy Lee offered.
Nice time to tell us that, was Gyp's irritable retort.
That evening Miss Gray, charming in a soft lavender georgette dress,
which her clever fingers had made and remade, wondered why her four
young charges were so glum. There was nothing in the world she
loved so much as a symphony orchestra. She sat back in her chair, close
to the edge of the box, with a happy sigh, and studied her program.
Everything that she liked best, Chopin, Saint-Saëns, and
WagnerSiegfried's Death. Gyp, eyeing her chaperon's happy
anticipation, indulged in a whispered regret.
Doesn't she look pretty to-night? If that horrible creature only
hadn't been The setting would have been so perfect for the
dénouement. She sprawled back, resignedly, in her chair, smothering a
yawn. A flutter of applause marked the coming in of the orchestra.
There was the usual scraping of chairs and whining of strings. Then
suddenly Miss Gray leaned out over the box-rail, exclaiming
incoherently, her hands clasping and unclasping in a wild, helpless
An opening crash of the cymbals covered her confusion. The four
girls were staring at her, round-eyed. They had not believed Miss Gray
capable of such agitation! What ever had happened
An old friend, she whispered, her face alternately paling and
flushing. A very dearoldfriend! Thethe thirdviolin She
leaned weakly against the box-rail. The girls looked down at the
orchestra. Thereunder the leader's armsat the third violinistand
a white streak ran from his forehead straight back through his coal
As though an electric shock flashed through them the four girls
straightened and stiffened. A glance, charged with meaning, passed from
one to another. Gyp, remembering the moment of confidence between her
and Miss Gray, slipped her hand into Miss Gray's and squeezed it
Not one of them heard a note of the wonderful music; each was
steadying herself for that moment when the program should end. Their
box was very near the little door that led behind the stage. Gyp almost
pushed Miss Gray toward it.
Of course you're going to see him! Hurry. You look so
nice Gyp was so excited that she did not know quite what she was
saying. Ohhurry! You may never see him again.
Then they, precipitously and on tiptoe, followed little Miss Gray.
Though it did not happen as each in her romantic soul had planned, it
was none the less satisfying! In a chilly, bare anteroom off the stage,
at a queer sound behind him resembling in a small way his name, the
third violinist turned from the job of putting his violin into its box.
Milly, he cried, his face flaming red with a pleased
George Miss Gray held back, twisting her fingers in a helpless
flutter. II thoughtwhen you senttheflowersand the
versesthat maybe, youyou still cared!
Just for a moment a puzzled look clouded the man's facethen a
vision in the doorway of four wildly-warning hands made him exclaim
Caredidn't I tell you, Milly, that I'd never care for anyone
He took her right in his arms, four tongues explained at once,
when, the next day, the self-appointed committee on romance reported
back to the other Ravens. Of course, he didn't know we were peeking.
He isn't exactly the type I'd go crazy over, but he's so much
better than that undertaker! And going home Miss Gray told us all about
it. It would make the grandest movie! She had to support her mother and
he didn't earn enough to take care of them both, and she wouldn't let
him wait all that time; she told him to find someone else. But you see
he didn't. Isn't love funny? And then when her mother finally died she
was too proud to send him word, and I guess she didn't know where he
was, anyway, or maybe she thought he had gone and done what she
told him to do and married some one else. And she believed all the time
that he sent her those flowersI s'pose by that
Oh, I hope she'll wear a veil and let us be bridesmaids!
But little Miss Gray did not; some weeks later, in a spick-and-span
blue serge traveling suit, with a little bunch of pink roses fastened
in her belt, she slipped away from her dreary boarding house and met
her third violinist in the shabby, unromantic front parlor of an
out-of-the-way parsonage; the parson's stout wife was her
bridesmaidso much for gratitude!
CHAPTER XXIV. PLANS
Oh, dearhow dreadfully fast time passes. It seems only a little
while ago we were planning for the winter and now here comes Mrs. Hicks
about new summer covers for the furniture, and Joe Laney wants to know
if there's going to be any painting done and I haven't thought of any
summer clothesand with those two great growing girls! I suppose if
we're going to the seashore we ought to make some reservations,
too and Mrs. Westley concluded her plaint with a sigh that came
from her very toes.
John Westley, from the depths of the great armed chair where he
stretched, laughed at her serious face. But the expression of his own
reflected the truth of what she had said.
It's the rush we live in, Mary. Why don't you cut out the seashore
and find a quiet placeout of this torrent? Somethinglike Kettle.
The mention of Kettle brought him suddenly to a thought of Jerry.
Well, my Jerry-girl's year of school is almost up. What next?
Mrs. Westley laid down her knitting. Yeswhat next? she asked.
Somehow, I can't picture Jerry going back to Miller's Notch
That's itI've thought of it often. Have we been doing the girl a
kindness? After all, John, contentment is the greatest thing in this
world, and perhaps we've hurt the dear child by bringing her here and
letting her have a taste ofthis sort of thing.
John Westley regarded his sister-in-law's plump, kindly face with
amusement. She had the best heart in the world and the biggest, but she
had not the discernment to know that there were treasures even in
Miller's Notch and Sunnyside, and, anyway
Isn't contentment, Mary, a thing that depends on something inside
of us, rather than our surroundings?
She nodded, speculatively.
And I rather think my girl from Kettle will be contented anywhere.
She's gone ahead fast here. I was talking to Dr. Caton about her. He
says she is amazingly intense in her work. I suppose that has come from
her way of living there at Sunnyside. But what can the school there at
Miller's Notch give her now?
And what is there for a girl, living in a small place like that,
after school? Contentment does depend upon our state of mind, I
grant, but one's surroundings affect that state of mindso there you
are! How is a girl going to be happy if she knows that she is far
superior mentally to everything that makes up her life? Jerry will grow
to womanhood in her little mountain villagemarry some native and
Uncle Johnny ignored the picture.
We can trip ourselves up at almost every turn, Mary. Aren't places
really big or small as we ticket them in our own minds? If you think of
Miller's Notch and Kettle by figures of the census, they are
smallbut, maybe, reckoning them from real angles they're bigvery
big, and it's our cities that are small. To go back to Jerrywhen I
think of her I always think of something I said to Barbara Leethat
nothing on earth could chain a spirit like that anywhereshe was one
of the world's crusaders. Ohyouth! If nothing spoils my Jerry, she'll
always go forward with her head up! But that's what has made me
worry, more than once, during my experiment. Have we risked
the girl to the danger of being spoiled? Will our little
superficialities, so ingrained that we don't realize them, taint her
splendid unaffectedness? I don't knowI can't tell until I see her
back at Kettlein that environment the like of which I've never found
anywhere else. If she isn't the same shining-eyed Jerry plus
considerable wisdom gleaned from her books and her school friends, I'll
have it on my conscienceif she's the same, well, the winter's been
worth a great deal to all of us! When I see her and watch her back
thereI'll know. And that leads me to what I really came here to tell
you. John Westley drew a letter from his pocket. I had word from
Trimmerthe Boston attorney. He's found traces of a Craig Winton who
was a graduate of Boston Tech. He lived in obscure lodgings in a poorer
part of Boston and yet he seemed to have quite a circle of friends of
an intellectual sort. Some of them have given enough facts to be pieced
together so as to prove, I think conclusively, that this chap is the
one we're looking for. He was an inventor and of a very brilliant turn
of mind, but unpracticalthe old storyand desperately poor. He
married the only daughter of a chemist who lived in Cambridge. His
health broke down and he took his wife and went off to the country
somewherehis Boston friends lost track of him after that. Later one
received a letter telling of the birth of a son.
How interesting! Robert will be home in two weeks and then we can
make the settlement.
But, Marythe search hasn't ended. He left Boston for the
'country'that is very vague. And I don't like the tone of Trimmer's
communication. He advises dropping the whole matter. He says that
sufficient effort has been made to meet the spirit of the letter left
by the late Peter Westley
You will not drop it, will you?
Indeed not. I wired him to put all the men he could find on the
case. And I am going to do some work on my own account.
YesI have a clue all of my own. He laughed, folding the letter
and putting it away.
Yesa foolish sort of a clueI can scarcely tell it to a man like
Trimmer. It's only a pair of eyes
I suppose if you're like all other sleuths you will not tell me
anything more, said Mrs. Westley, wondering if he was really in
earnest. When and where will your personal search begin?
I'd like to start this moment, but I happened to think I could
drive Jerry home, and then I can make the test of my experiment.
Drive Jerry home his words reached the ears of the young
people, coming into the hall. It was Friday evening and they had been
at the moving-pictures.
Who's going to drive Jerry home? You, Uncle Johnny? Can't I
go, too? Oh, please, please Gyp fell upon him, pleadingly.
Oh, I wish the girls could go, added Jerry.
Why not? Uncle Johnny turned to Mrs. Westley. Then you wouldn't
have to worry your head over clothes and hotel space at the seashore!
And Mrs. Allan's up there across at Cobble with a house big enough for
But they must stay at Sunnyside, protested Jerry, her face
Always, now, at the back of her head, were persistent thoughts of
home. She had counted the days off on her little calendar; she saw, in
the bright loveliness with which the springtime had dressed the city,
only a proud vision of what her beloved Kettle must be like; she hunted
violets on the slopes of Highacres and dreamed of the blossoming
hepaticas in the Witches' Glade and the dear sun-shadowed corners where
the bloodroot grew and the soft budding beauty of the birches that
lined the trail up Kettle. She longed with a longing that hurt for her
little gardenfor the smell of the freshly-turned soil, for the first
strawberries, for the fragrance of the lilacs that grew under her small
window, for the clean, cool, grass-scented valley wind. And yet her
heart was torn with the thought that those very days she had counted on
her calendar marked the coming separation from Gyp and the schoolmates
at HighacresHighacres itself. She must go away from them all and all
that they were doing and they would in time forget her, because they
would know nothing of Sunnyside. And now, quite suddenly, a new and
wonderful possibility unfoldedto have Gyp at home with mother and
Little-Dad, sleeping in the tiny room under the gable, climbing the
trails with her, working in the garden, playing with Bigboy, sharing
all the precious joys of Kettle, meant a link; after that, there could
be no real separation.
And she wanted Isobel, too. Between the two girls had sprung a
wonderful understanding. Isobel was grateful that Jerry had not
humiliated her by mentioning the debate, or the many other little
meannesses of which she had been guilty; Jerry was glad that Isobel had
not raked them upit was so much nicer to just know that Isobel liked
her now. Isobel was a very different girl since her accidentperhaps
Uncle Johnny, alone, knew why. She had decided very suddenly that she
did want to go to college. The week before she had squeezed
through the college entrance examsluck she did not deserve, she had
declared with surprising frankness. And after college she planned to
study interior decorating.
Everyone wondered why they had not thought before of such wonderful
summer plans. Mrs. Westley would go with Tibby to Cousin Marcia's at
Ocean Point in Mainequiet enough there; Graham was going to a boys'
camp in Vermont, and Isobel and Gyp could divide their time between
Sunnyside and Cobble.
We are not consulting Mrs. Travis, laughed Mrs. Westley.
Oh, she'd love them to be there, cried Jerry with
And anyway, if she frowns, we'll move on to Wayside, and we
know the trail in between, don't we, Jerry?
Say, Jerry, Graham thought it the psychological moment to spring a
request he had been entertaining in his heart for some time. Will you
let me take Pepper to camp? Lots of the boys have dogs but none of them
are as smart as Pep.
Jerry could not answer for a moment. In her picture of her
homegoing, Pepper had had his part; butit would be another link
Of course you may take him. He'll lovebeing with you. Long ago
she had reconciled herself to sharing Pepper's devotion with Graham.
Oh, I think that's the wonderfulest plan ever made, exclaimed Gyp
rapturouslyGyp, who with her mother had visited some of the most
fashionable summer and winter resorts. I want to sleep up onwhere is
it, Jerryand see the sunrise. How will we ever exist until
Examinations will help us do that, laughed Isobel.
And Class-day and Commencement. And who's going to win the Lincoln
CHAPTER XXV. THE LINCOLN AWARD
Who's going to win the Lincoln Award?
That question was on every tongue at Highacres. That interest
rivaled even the excitement of Class-day and its honors; of the Senior
reception, Commencement itself. It shadowed the accustomed interval of
alarm that always followed examinations. Everyone knew that the contest
was close; no one could conjecture as to whom the honor would fall,
for, though one student be a wizard in trigonometry, he might have
failed dismally in the simple requirement of setting-up exercises or
I've eaten spinach until I feel just like a cow out at pasture,
declared Pat Everett disgustedly, and what good has it done! For I was
only eighty-five in English!
But think of all the iron in your system, comforted Peggy Lee. I
hope Jerry wins the prize, but I'm afraid it is going to Ginny Cox. She
was ninety-nine in Cicero. I wish I had her brains
And her luck! Ginny says herself that it is luckhalf the time.
Look how she got out of that scrape last winter spoke up
The Ravens, who were in the group, suddenly looked at one another.
It won't be fair if Ginny wins the Award, was the thought
The records for the contest were posted the day before
Class-daythe last day of the examinations. A large group of boys and
girls, eagerly awaiting them, pressed and elbowed about the bulletin
board in the corridor while Barbara Lee nailed them to the wall. Gyp's
inquisitive nose was fairly against the white sheet.
Vir-gin-i-a Cox! she read shrilly. Jerauld Travis only
two points behind! And Dana King third
An uncontrollable lump rose in Jerry's throat. She had hopedshe
had dared think that she was going to win! She was glad of the babble
under which she could cover her moment's confusion; she struggled
bravely to keep the disappointment from her face as she turned with the
others to congratulate Ginny.
The plaudits of the boys and girls were warm and whole-hearted. If
any surprise was felt that it had been Ginny Cox and not Jerry Travis
who had won the Award it was carefully concealed.
We might have known no one could beat you, Coxie.
It was that ninety-nine in old Cicero.
Hurrah for Ginny!
Dana King trooped up a yell. LincolnCox! LincolnCox!
Through it all Ginny Cox stood very still, a flush on her face but a
distressed look in her eyes. The Ginny Cox whom her schoolmates had
known for years would have accepted the hearty congratulations with a
laughing, careless, why-are-you-surprised manner; the Ginny Cox whom
Jerry had glimpsed that winter afternoon preceding the basketball game
was honestly embarrassed by the turn of events. She had not dreamed she
could winit had been that ninety-nine in Cicero.
Ginny Cox, you don't look a bit glad, accused one
Alas, Ginny was not brave enough to clean her troubled soul with
confession then and there; she tried to silence the small voice of her
conscience; she made a desperate effort to be her own old self, evoking
the homage of her schoolmates as she had done time and time again. She
answered, uneasily, with a smile that took in Jerry and Dana King:
I hate to beat anyone like Jerry and Dana. It's so close
Whereupon the excited young people yelled again for Travis and
again for King. The crowd gradually dispersed; little groups,
arm-in-arm, excitedly talking, passed out through the big door into the
spring sunshine. A buoyance in the very air proclaimed that school days
In one of these groups were Ginny Cox, Gyp, Jerry, Pat Everett,
Peggy Lee and Isobel. Among them had fallen a constraint. Isobel broke
Ginny Cox, you haven't any more right to that Award than I have!
You know you built the snowman and Jerry took the blame so's you
could play basketball. She's the winner!
Each turned, surprised, at Isobel's defence of Jerry's right,
marveling at the earnestness in her face.
Ohdon't, implored Jerry. I'm glad Ginny won it.
Ginny stamped her foot. I'm notI wish I hadn't. I never
dreamed I wouldhonest. What a mess! I wish I'd just turned and told
them all about it, but I didn't have the nerve! I'm just yellow.
Thatfrom Ginny Cox, the invincible forward! Breathless, the girls
paused where they were on the grassy slope near the entrance of
Highacres. A great elm spread over them and through its shimmering
green a sunbeam shot across Ginny Cox's face, adding to the fire of its
Girls she spread out her hands commandingly, I don't know
what you thinkbut I think Jerry Travis is the best ever
at Lincoln! She's made me show up like a bad old copper penny 'longside
of her. A year ago I could have taken this old Award without a flicker
of my littlest eyelash, but just knowing her makes
itimpossible! Nowwhat shall we do?
Jerry's remonstrancea little quivery, because she was deeply moved
by Ginny's unexpected tributewas drowned out in a general assent and
a clamorous approval of Ginny's words.
I know declared Isobel, feeling that, because she was a
Senior, she must straighten out this tangle. Let's tell Uncle Johnny
all about it. Uncle Johnnyto whom had been carried every hurt, every
problem since baby days.
The others agreedHe's a trustee, anyway, Gyp explainedthough
just how much a trustee had to do with these complicated questions of
school honor none of them knew.
And, as though Uncle Johnny always sprang up from the earth at the
very instant his girls needed him, he came up the winding drive in his
red roadster. They hailed him. He brought the car to a quick stop.
Uncle Johnny, we want you to decide something for us! Please get
out and come over here.
He stared at the serious faces. What tragedy had shadowed the
customary gladness of the last day of school? He let them lead him to
the old elm.
If you'll please sit down andand pretend you're notour
uncle but sort of aa judgeand listen, we'll tell you.
Dear me, Uncle Johnny murmured weakly, sitting down on the slope.
This is bad for rheumatism and gray trousers butI'll listen.
Isobel began the story with the building of the snowman; Gyp took it
up. Dramatically, with an eloquence reminiscent of that meeting of the
Ravens when the ill-fated lot had fallen to Jerry, she explained how
for the honor of the school Jerry had shouldered Ginny's punishment.
Peggy Lee interrupted to say that she thought Miss Gray had made an
awful fuss about nothing, but Ginny hushed her quickly. Then the story
came to the winning of the Award.
Two pointsJerry only needed two points. And she lost ten as a
punishment about the snowman. Don't you seeshe's really the winner?
Uncle Johnny had listened to the story with careful gravity;
inwardly he was tortured with the desire to laugh. But he could not
affront these girls so seriously bent on keeping unsullied that pure
white thing they called honor. Oh, youthyouth! he thought, loving
them the more for their precious earnestness.
Andit's such a mix-up, we don't know what to do. If I knew
who had given the prize I'd go straight to him, exclaimed Ginny
Uncle Johnny straightened his immaculately gray-trousered legs and
laid his straw hat down on the grass.
If that'll help things anyI'm he, he explained with a little
You? You? ReallyUncle Johnny? came in an excited chorus.
Yes, me, with a fine scorn for grammar. I'm the one who's to
blame for all the carrots, pinching Gyp's cheek. But you have
sort of mixed things up.
But we had to win that basketball game, cried Gyp, and we
couldn't unless Ginny played.
Yesyou had to win the basketball game, he nodded with a
You see, Lincoln got the cup for the series.
And Jerry paid the priceyes.
For the honor of the school!
ThenI'm afraid this is the last payment. You see, girlies,
everything we dono matter what it isis fraught with consequences.
If I were to go over to yonder lake and throw in a pebblewhat would
we see? Little ripples circling wider and widerfurther and further.
That's like lifeour everyday actions are so many pebbleswe have to
accept the ripples. It's sometimes hardbut I guess Jerry sees the
There was no doubt from the expression of Jerry's face but that she
saw the truthUncle Johnny's homely simile had made it very clear.
But I won't take itthat wouldn't be fair. It was the new
Ginny who spoke. So it'll go to Dana King.
Yes, it will go to Dana King. Uncle Johnny was serious now. Ginny
should not have accepted Jerry's sacrifice. Girls, there's a simple
little thing called 'right' that we find in our hearts if we search
that's finer than even the precious honor of your schooland Gyp, you
speak very truly when you say that that is something you must
valiantly always uphold. Now if you'll let me tell this story of yours
to the committee I think it can all be straightened outand we'll feel
better all around.
And I'm glad it's Dana King, exclaimed Peggy Lee. Garrett said he
had had to give up his plans to go to college next fall and he was
terribly disappointed and now maybe he won't have to
Jerry and Ginny linked arms as they walked away with the others
behind Uncle Johnny. The shadow dispelledin youth the sun is always
so happily close behind all the little cloudsthe girls' spirits went
forth, joyously, to meet the interests of the moment, the class
oration, the class gift, the class song, Isobel's graduating dress, the
Senior bouquetsthe hundred and one exciting things about the proud
class of girls and boys who were, in a few days, to pass forever from
the school lifegraduates.
Uncle Johnny watched his girls join others and troop away, with
light step, heads high. He chuckled, though behind it was a little
Doc, my boy, you were rightit has made me ten years
younger to mix up with these youngsters.
As he turned to go into the building he met Barbara Lee coming out.
He suddenly remembered that the business of the Award had to do with
Barbara Leesomehow, he almost always had, nowadays, to consult her
about something! Very sweetly she went back with him to her office. He
told her what the girls had told him. She listened with triumph in her
I knew Jerry Travis did not do that. But, oh, aren't they
funny? However, her tone said that these funny girls were very dear
to her. It will take something very real out of my life when I leave
What do you mean? John Westley's voice rang abruptly.
Of courseyou haven't heard. I have had a wonderful offer from a
big export house in San Francisco. It's the same firm to which I
expected to go last summerbefore I came here. You see the road I
chose to climb to the stars wasn't entirely alongphysical training.
My last year in college I specialized in export work. There was a
fascination in it to meit's such a growing thing, such a
challenging work, and it carries one into new and untried fields.
There's an element of adventure in it her eyes glistened. I shall
spend a year at the main office, then they're going to send me into
Chinabecause I can speak the Chinese language.
John Westley stared at hershe seemed like such a slip of a girl.
And mother is so much better now that there is no reason why I
Though they had yet to straighten out the matter of the Award she
quite involuntarily held out her hand as she spoke, and John Westley
took it in both of his.
I hope thisis the road to the stars. That did not sound
properly congratulatory, so he added, lamely: I'm gladif you want to
go. But what will we do without you here?
CHAPTER XXVI. COMMENCEMENT
Commencements declared Gyp, wise with her fifteen years, are
like weddingsall sort of weepy.
What do you know of weddings, little one? from Graham.
I guess I've been to five, Graham Westley! And some one is always
crying at them. Why, when Cousin Alicia Stowe was married she cried
Did you cry, mother? asked Tibby curiously.
Mrs. Westley laughed. I didreally. And I cried at my
Commencement. There were only twelve of us graduated that spring from
Miss Oliver's Academy and none of us went to college, so you see it
really was the end of our school days. I was very happy until it
was all overthen, I remember, as I walked down the aisle in my
organdie dresswe wore organdie then, too, girlswith a big bouquet
of pink roses on my arm and everyone smiling and nodding at all of us,
it came over me with a rush that my school days were all over and that
they'd never come back. So I criedfor a very weepy half-hour I wanted
more than anything else to be a little girl again with all childhood
before me. I was afraidto look ahead into life
But there was fatheryou knew him then, didn't you?
A pretty color suffused Mrs. Westley's cheeks. Yesthere was
father. I said I only cried for half an hour. Two years afterward I was
marriedand I cried again. Of course I was very, very happybut I
knew I was going away forever from my girlhood.
Mother protested Isobel. You make me feel dreadfully sad. I
wanted to cry yesterday when Sheila Quinn spoke at the Class-day
exercises. Wasn't she wonderful when she said how Lincoln School had
given us our shield and our armor and that always we must live to be
worthy of her trust! I thrilled to my toes. But if it makes one cry to
Darlingand Mrs. Westley took Isobel's hand in herswe leave
our childhood and again our girlhood with a few tears, perhaps, but
always there is the wonder of the bigger life ahead. I think even in
dying there must be the same joy. And though we do shed tears over the
youth we tenderly lay aside, they are happy tearstears that sweeten
and strengthen the spirit, too.
Well, I'm glad I have two more years at Highacres, cried
Gyp, looking with pity at Isobel's thoughtful face.
And I'm glad, Isobel added, slowly, that I decided to go
to college. It must be dreadful to know that school is all over. I
wouldn't be Amy Mathers for anything. It sounds so silly to hear
her talk of all she's going to do next wintersuch empty
things! Isobel, in her scorn, had forgotten that only a few weeks back
she had wanted to do just what Amy Mathers was planning to do!
Well,Graham stretched his armsschool's all right but I'm
mighty glad vacation has come.
Through their talk Jerry had sat very still. To her the Class-day
exercises of the school had opened a great well of sentiment. All
through her life, she thought, she would strive to repay by worthiness
the great debt of inspiration she owed to the school. She had not
thought of it in just that grand way until she had heard Sheila Quinn,
until Dana King had given the class prophecy, until Ginny had read the
school poem, until Peggy Lee had presented the class gift to the
school. A young alumna of the preceding class had welcomed the proud
graduates. Dr. Caton had presented the Lincoln Awardto Dana King. A
murmur had swept the room when he announced that, through a mistake in
the records, the Award went to Dana King instead of either Miss Cox or
Miss Travis. Jerry sat next to Ginny and, as Dr. Caton spoke, she
squeezed Ginny's hand in a way that said plainly, If I had it all to
do over again I'd do the same thing! Afterward Dana King had shaken
her hand warmly and had declared that he couldn't understand such good
fortune and it meant a lot to himfor it made college possible.
It seemed to Jerry as though they were all standing on a great
shining hill from which paths divergedattractive paths that beckoned;
that precious word collegeIsobel, Dana King, Peggy Lee were going
along that path; Sheila Quinn was going to study to be a nurse. Amy
Mather's had chosen a more flowery way. Would her happiness be more
lasting than the pretty flowers that lured her? Jerry's own path was a
steep, narrow, little path, and led straight away from Highacresbut
it led to Sunnyside! So with the little ache that gripped her when she
thought that she must very soon leave Highacres forever, was a great
joy that in a few days now she would see her precious Sweetheartand
Gyp and Isobel would be with her.
The whole family was in a flutter over the Commencement. Graham's
class was to usher; the undergraduates were to march in by classes, the
girls in white, carrying sweet-peas, the boys wearing white posies in
the lapels of their coats.
Mrs. Westley inspected her young people with shining eyes.
You look like the most beautiful flowers that ever grew, she cried
in the choky way that mothers have at such moments. I wish I could hug
you allbut it would muss you dreadfully.
Thank goodness, mammy, that you don't find any dirt on me,
exclaimed Graham, whose ruddy face shone from an extra party
Am I all right, mother? begged Isobel, pirouetting in her
Uncle Johnny rushed in. He was very dapper in a new tailcoat and a
flower in his buttonhole. He was very nervous, too, for he was
to give the address of the day. He pulled a small box from his pocket.
A little graduating gift for my Bonnie. It was a circlet pin of
sapphires. He fastened it against the soft, white folds of her dress.
You know what a ring is symbolic of, Isobel? Things
eternaleverlastingnever ending. That's like my faith in you. He
lifted the pretty, flushed, happy face and kissed it. Come on,
If they had not all been so excited over the Commencement they must
have noticed that there was something very different in Uncle Johnny's
mannera certain breathless exaltation such as one feels when one has
girded one's self for a great deed.
He had made up his mind to something. The day before, while
he had been preparing the Commencement address, all kinds of thoughts
had haunted himthoughts concerning Barbara Lee. That half-hour with
her in her little office, when she had told him she was going away, had
opened his eyes. He had cried out: What will we do without you? He
had really meant, What will I do without you?
Absurdhe tried to reason the whole thing calmlyabsurd that this
slip of a girl, who knew Chinese, had become necessary to his
happiness! How in thunder had it happened? But there is no answer to
thatand he was in no state of mind to reason; she was going awayand
he could not let her go away.
So all the while he was dashing off splendid things about loyalty
(John Westley had won several oratorical contests at college) his brain
was asking humbly, Will she laugh at an old bachelor like meif I
tell her? He had hated the face he saw in the mirror, edged above his
ears with closely-clipped gray hair. Thirty-six years old; he had not
thought that so very old until now; contrasted with Barbara Lee's
splendid youth it seemed like ninety.
I'll tell herjust the same, was his final determination; she was
on her way to the stars, but he wanted her to know that he loved her
with a strength and constancy the greater for his thirty-six years.
From the platform he stared out over the sea of serious young
facesand saw only the one. He stood before them all, speaking with an
earnestness and a beauty of thought that was inspirednot by the
detached group of graduates, listening with shining eyes, but by
Barbara Lee, sitting with a rapt expression that seemed to separate
herself and him from the others and bring them very close.
Loyalty was his theme; loyalty to God, loyalty to one's highest
ideals, loyalty to one's country, to one's fellowmen.
After he had finished there was the stir which always marks, in a
gathering of people, a high pitch of feeling. Then someone sang, clear,
soprano notes that drifted through the room and mingled with the spring
gladness. The air was fragrant with the sweetness of the blossoms which
decked the big room; through the long windows came the freshness of the
June world outside. It was a day, an hour, sacred to the rites of
youth. More than one man and woman, worn a little with living, sat
there with reverence in their hearts for these young people who, strong
with the promise of their day, stood at the start
Then the school sang their Alma Materthe undergraduates singing
the first two verses, the graduates singing the last. The dear,
familiar notes rang with a truer, braver cadenceone voice, clearer
than the others, broke suddenly with feeling.
Wasn't it all perfectly beautiful? cried Gyp as the
audience moved slowly after the files of graduates. You couldn't
tell which was best of the program and it was sad, wasn't
it? Wasn't Uncle Johnny splendid? And didn't the girls look
fine? You know Sheila Quinn was just sick over her dressit was so
plainand she looked as lovely as any of the others. Oh,
goodness, think how you'd feel if we were graduating. But I hope
our Commencement will be just as nice! There's Barbara Lee, let's
hug herthink how dreadful to have her go away. And Dana
King's just waiting for you, Jerry Gyp ended her outburst by
rushing to Miss Lee and throwing her long arms about her shoulders.
John Westley advanced upon themwith the strange new look still in
Gypyou're wrinkling Miss Lee's pinkness. He tried to make his
tone light. Will you come into the library for a moment, Miss Lee?
There's a book I want you to find for me. His eyes pleaded. Wondering
a little, Barbara Lee walked away with him.
Well, I never declared Gyp, disgusted. Then, in the stress of
saying good-by to some of her schoolmates, she forgot Uncle Johnny and
John Westley had felt that the library would be quite deserted.
Standing in the embrasure of the window through which the June light
streamed, he told Barbara Lee in awkward, earnest words all that was in
his heart. There was a humility in his voice, as he offered her his
love, that brought a tender smile to the corners of her lips.
I wanted you to know, he finished, simply. I don't supposewhat
I can offercan find any place in your heart alongside of your
splendid dreamsbut, I wanted you to know that you have
There's more than one way to the stars she interrupted,
lifting glowing eyes to his.
Gyp had said good-by to everyone she could lay a finger on. Then she
remembered Uncle Johnny.
Do you s'pose they're in the library yet?
She and Jerry tiptoed along the corridor and peeped in the door. To
their embarrassed amazement Uncle Johnny and Barbara Lee were standing
looking out of the windowwith their hands clasped.
Gyp cougheda cough that was really a funny sputter.
Diddid you find your book, Uncle Johnny?
Uncle Johnny turnedwithout a blush.
Hello, Gyp! (As though he'd never seen her before!) I
didn't find the bookbecause I wasn't really after a book. But I
did find what I wanted. What would you say, Gyp and Jerry, if I
told you that your Barbara Lee is not going away?
CHAPTER XXVII. CRAIG WINTON
Ka-a-a-a-a-a-a echoed through the wooded slopes of Kettle.
Startled, birds winged away from the treetops, little wild creatures
skurried through the undergrowth, yet in the care-free, silvery tinkle
of those merry voices there was no note to alarm.
Jerry was leading Isobel and Gyp down the trail from Rocky Top.
Baskets, swinging from their shoulders, told of the jolly day's outing.
Isobel and Gyp were dressed in khaki middies and short skirts; Isobel's
hair was drawn back simply from her face and bound with a bright red
ribbon; Gyp's cheeks were tanned a ruddy brown, against which her lips
shone scarlet. Jerry wore the boyish outfit in which John Westley had
found her. Three happier, merrier girls could not have been found the
A weeka week of hourly wonders, had passed since the girls had
arrived at Sunnyside with Uncle Johnny. To Jerry the homecoming was
even sweeter than she had dreamed. And to find her precious mother
exactly the same, she whispered in the privacy of a close hug,
dispelled a little fear that had tormented her.
Why, darling, did you think I'd be different?
I don't know Jerry had colored, but tightened the clasp of her
arms. It's been so dreadfully long! I thought maybeI'd
And Little-Dad had not changed a bit, nor the house, nor the garden,
nor Bigboynot a thing, Jerry had found on an excited round. The old
lilac bushes were in full leaf, the syringas were in blossom, there
were still daffodils in the corner near the fir-tree gate; glossy,
spiky leaves marked a row of onions just where her onions had always
grownLittle-Dad had put in her seed; the sun slanted in gold-brown
bars across the bare floor of the familiar, low-ceilinged living-room,
softening to a ruddy glow the bindings of the familiar books
everywhere. Her own little room was just as she had left it. Oh, the
wonder, the joy of coming back! How different it would have been if
there had been any change. What if Sweetheartshe rushed
headlong to hug her mother again.
Then there was the fun of taking Gyp and Isobel everywhere. They
were genuinely enraptured with all her favorite haunts; the magic of
Kettle caught them just as it had caught Uncle Johnny that day he ran
away from his guide. Every morning they were up with the birds and off
over the trail to return laden with the treasures of Kettle, wild
strawberries, lingering trillium, wild currant blossoms, moist baby
ferns. Together these girls brought to quiet Sunnyside a gaiety it had
not known before. To Mrs. Westley, after her lonely winter, it was as
though a radiant summer sun had flooded suddenly through a gray mist.
And Jerry had to tell her mother everything that had happened all
through the winter. She saved it all for such moments as she and her
mother stole to wander off together; it was easier to talk to mother
alone, and then there were so many things she wanted only mother to
knowconcerning most of them she had written, to be sure, but she
liked to think it all over again, herselfthose first days of school,
the classes, the teachers, the Ravens, basketball and hockey and that
never-to-be-forgotten day at Haskin's Hill, the Everett party, the two
real plays, the great vaulted church where music floated from hidden
pipesonly concerning the debate and that stormy evening when she had
discarded her charity clothes did she keep silent. School, school,
school; Mrs. Westley, listening intently, smiling wistfully at her big
girl, in spirit lived with her through each experience, happy or
trying, rejoicing that she had had them. And yet in her eyes there
lingered a furtive questioning. Jerry, reveling in her own happiness,
did not realize that her mother was watching her every expression with
the anguishing fear that her Jerry might have changed. And she had
changed; she had grown, though she was still as straight as one of
Kettle's young fir trees; her winter's experience had left its mark on
her sunny face in a new firmness of the lips, a thoughtfulness behind
the shining eyes.
Will these new friends, Jerry, these fine times you have had make
you love Sunnyside lessor be discontented here? Her mother had
interrupted her flood of confidences to say.
Jerry stared in such astonishment that her mother laughed, a shaky
laugh, and kissed her.
Because, my dear, remember you are only Jerauld Travis of Kettle
Mountain, and your life must lie just here. Oh, my precious, I thank
God I have you back! she added with an intensity of emotion that
startled and puzzled Jerry.
Why, mother, honest truly there's never been a moment when I wasn't
glad I was only Jerauld Travis, and I wouldn't trade places with a
soul, only and Jerry could not finish, for she did not know just
what she wanted to say. She was oddly disturbed. Did her mother
begrudge her those happy weeks at Highacres? Had she been afraid of
something? And was she the same Jerry who had wished on the
Wishing-rock to just see the world which lay beyond her
mountain? Didn't she want to go away againsometime, to college? And
what would her mother say if she told her that?
Jerry managed to lock away these tormenting thoughts while she and
the girls were roaming Kettle. Certainly there was not a shadow in the
face she lifted now to the caress of the mountain breeze nor in the
voice that caroled its Ka-a-a-a-a and laughed as the echoes answered.
From the Witches' Glade where the trail sloped down between white
birches, the girls ran fleetly, leaped the little gate through the
fringe of fir trees and, laughing and panting, tumbled upon the veranda
of the bungalow straight into Uncle Johnny's arms!
Uncle Johnny had only stopped at Kettle long enough to unload his
girls and their baggage, then he had hurried on to Boston to consult
the lawyers who were tracing Craig Winton. He had not expected to
return for three or four weeks. Not until I have this thing off my
mind, he had explained to Isobel and Gyp.
Isobel, though she now looked at it from another angle, still
thought it very foolish to pursue the search for this Craig Winton. The
Boston men had reported that their search had led them to a blank wall
and that there was little use spending more money on it. But in spite
of this, Uncle Johnny had persisted in going ahead on some clue of his
own and wasting precious time away from Barbara Lee. Both Isobel and
Gyp, from thinking that no woman in the world was good enough for Uncle
Johnny, had now veered around to the happy conviction that heaven had
patterned Barbara Lee especially for Uncle Johnny's pleasure. They
beamed upon the engagement with such approval that even Uncle Johnny,
head over heels in love as he was, grew a little embarrassed by their
enthusiasm. Gyp also became reconciled to the school library as a
setting for the proposal and declared that, thereafter, the library at
Highacres would be enshrined in her heart as something other than a
room to make one's head ache. But both girls were disgusted that
Uncle Johnny could cheerfully leave the lady of his choice and go off
on a search that appeared so useless! It was contrary to all their
rules of romance.
Something in Uncle Johnny's face and his unexpected appearance drew
an exclamation from each of the girls. Almost in the same voice, with
no more greeting than to vigorously grasp him by shoulder and arm, they
cried: Did you find her? Have you come to stay?
He hesitated just a moment and glanced questioningly at Mrs. Travis.
Then for the first time the girls noticed that Mrs. Travis was very
pale, that her eyes burned dark against the whiteness of her skin as
though she had been racked by a great agitation and her hands clasped
tightly the back of a chair. She nodded to John Westley.
Yes, my search is ended. You see I had the right cluethough it
was only the mention of a pair of eyes. Do you remember in Uncle
Peter's letter about Craig Winton's eyes? 'They were glowing like they
were lighted within.' Well, have you ever seen a pair of eyes like
that? I haveonly where Craig Winton's were sad with disappointment,
these others glow from the pure joy of being alive
Jerry? interrupted Gyp, in a queer, tangled voice.
The girls stared at Jerry and Jerry stared at John Westley. Was he
just joking? How could it be? She turned to her mother. Her
mother nodded again.
Yes, dear, you are Jerauld Winton. Butwe gave you your
stepfather's namehe was so good to us!
In that moment of unutterable surprise Jerry's loyal little heart
went out quickly to Little-Dad.
Oh, even if he is a stepfather I love him just the same!
she exclaimed, wishing he was there that she might hug him.
You see, beginning at this end made my search quicker. It was
hindered a little, though, because the county courthouse at Waytown,
where the records of Jerry's birth and Craig Winton's death were filed,
burned a few years ago with everything in it. But I stumbled on an old
codger who used to be postmaster at Waytown and he told me more in a
few moments than all the Boston detectives had found in months. I went
on to Boston to interview those old friends the lawyers there had found
and then came back.
There was a puzzled look on each face. Hesitatingly, Jerry put the
question that was in each mind.
But, mother, why didn't you ever tell? Were youashamed?
Her mother's face flared with color. She stepped forward and laid an
entreating hand on Jerry's. Oh, nono! she cried. You must
not think thatno one must. Heyour fatherwas the finest man that
ever lived. But he made me promise, when you were a wee, wee baby, that
I would try to protect you from the bitterness of the world that
hadbroken his heart. Oh, he died of a broken heart, a broken spirit.
He lived in his dreams, his inventions were a part of himlike his
right arm! When they failed he suffered cruelly. Then he had one that
he knew was good. But she stopped abruptly, remembering that these
people were Westleys. But he could never have been happy. He was not
practical oror sensible. His brain wore out his bodyit was always,
always working along one line. And before hedied, he seemed to have
the fear that you might grow up to be like him'a puppet for the
thieves to fleece and feed upon,' he used to say. After hedied, we
stayed on in Dr. Travis' cabin, where he had sheltered and cared for
your father. He moved down into the village but, oh, he was so good to
us! When, two years later I married him and we built this home, I vowed
that I would keep only the blessed peace of Sunnyside for you. So I
never told you of your own father and those dreadful years of poverty.
But I was not ashamed!
Jerry, not knowing exactly why, put one arm around her mother's
shoulder in a protecting manner. Poor, brave Sweetheart, she
whispered, laying her cheek against her mother's arm.
Isobel and Gyp were held silent by a disturbing sense of
embarrassment. That it should have been Jerry's father whom their Uncle
Peter had fleecedthe horrible word which had slipped reminiscently
from Mrs. Travis' lips burned in their ears! But a sudden delight
finally broke loose Gyp's tongue.
Oh, Jerry, isn't it exciting to think we've been
hunting everywhere and all the time it's you! I'm glad'cause
it sort of makes you a relation. And her logic was so extremely
stretched that everyone laughed.
I'd rather you got the money than anyone in the world, added
The moneyJerry had not thought of that! Her face flushed scarlet,
Oh, I don't want it, she cried. You've done so much for me.
My dear, Uncle Johnny's voice was very business-like. It is
something you have not the right to decline, because it was given by a
dying man to purchase a peace of mind for his last moment on earth. And
now let me look you over, Jerry-girl. He tilted her chin and studied
her face. Then he glanced approvingly down her slim length, smiling at
her boyish garments. I guess my experiment hasn't hurt you, he said,
though no one there knew what he meant.
The evening was very excitingwhy would it not be when Jerry had
found the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow right in her very own
lap? Uncle Johnny stayed on overnight; some repairs to a tire were
necessary before he started homeward.
Do you remember what you said once, Jerry, when I asked you what
you would do if you had a lot of money? Gyp had asked as they sat out
on the veranda watching the stars. And you said you'd go to school as
long as ever you could and then
Jerry had raised suddenly to an upright position from the step where
she was curled.
Ohshe cried, her voice deep with delightnow I can go back to
Then, at the very moment of her ecstasy, she was strangely disturbed
by the quick touch of her mother's hand laid on her shoulder.
CHAPTER XXVIII. HER MOTHER'S STORY
Sometime after she had gone to sleep, Jerry wakened suddenly with
the disturbing conviction that someone needed her. At the same moment
her ear caught a sound that made her slip her bare feet quickly to the
floor and stand, listening. It had been a soft step beneath her
windowa little sigh.
In a flash Jerry sped down the narrow stairway, past the open door
of the room where Little-Dad lay snoring, and out across the veranda.
In the dim light of the moon that hung low in the arc of the blue-black
sky, Jerry made out the figure of her mother, standing near the rough
bench that overlooked the valley.
Jerry, child, and in your bare feet!
I heard you out here. Isn't it dreadfully late? Can't you sleep?
Mother, look at me, for Mrs. Westley had kept her face averted.
Mother, darling, why do you look sosort ofsad? Jerry's voice was
reproachful. We're so happy now that we are together, aren't we? And
it will be nice to have lots of things and Little-Dad won't ever
have to worry and
Mrs. Travis lifted her hand suddenly and laid it across Jerry's
lips. Child, I am not sad. I have been out here fighting away forever
the foolish fears that have stalked by my side since you were a very
little girl. Some day, when you're a mother, you'll know how I've
felthow I've dreaded facing this moment! How often I've sat with you
and watched the baby robins make their first flight from the nest and
have laughed at the fussy mother robin scolding and worrying up in a
But, mamsey, you've always told me how the mother robin pushes
the little ones out of the nest to make them know that they can
Mrs. Travis accepted the rebuke in silence. Jerry slipped her hand
into her mother's. Her mother held it close.
Jerry, dear, I've never told you much about myself because I could
not do that without telling you of your own father. I was a very lonely
little girl; I had no brothers or sistersno near relatives. My mother
died when I was eight years old, and a housekeepergood soulbrought
me up. My father was a professor of chemistry in Harvard, as you know,
and he was a queer man and his friends were peculiar, toonot the sort
that was much company for a young girl. But I was very fond of my
father and I was very content with my simple life until I met Craig
Winton. He was so different from anyone else who had ever crossed our
threshold that I fell in love with him at once. My father died suddenly
and Craig Winton asked me to marry him. It was the maddest follyhe
had nothing except his inventive genius and he should never have tied
himself to domestic responsibilities; they were alwayssuch as they
werelike a dreadful yoke to his spirit. But we were happy, oh, we
were happy in a wonderful, unreal way. Sometimes we didn't have
enough to eat, but he always had so much faith in what he was going to
do that that somehow, kept us going. But when his faith began to
dieit was dreadful. It was as though some hidden poison was killing
him, right before my eyes.
What made his faith die? asked Jerry, curiously.
Because he grew to distrust his fellowmen. That second visit to
Peter Westley Mrs. Travis spoke quickly to hide her bitterness.
He was so sure that what he had made was goodan inventor has always,
my dear, an irrational love for the thing he has createdand to have
it spurned! He was supersensitive, supereverything. Then my
own health went to pieces. I suppose I simply was not getting enough to
eat to give me the strength to meet the mental strain under which I had
to liveand you were coming. From his last visit to Peter Westley he
returned with a little money, but he was as a crushed, broken manhis
bitterness had unbalanced his mind. He said that it was for my health
that he came away with me, but I knew that it was to get away from the
world that he hatedand to hide his failure! Your Little-Dad took us
in. He knew at once that your father was a very sick man and he brought
him to his cabin here on Kettle. But even here your father suffered,
and after you were born he feared for you. He was obsessed with the
thought that you had all life to face
How dreadfully sorry you must have felt for him, whispered Jerry,
shyly, trying to make it all seem true.
I felt sorry for him, child, not that he had been so disappointed
but because he had not the strength to rally from it. I don't believe
God made him that way; I think he sacrificed too much of himself to his
genius. This world we live in demands so much of ussuch different
things, that, if we are to meet everything squarely, we cannot develop
one side of our minds and let the other side go. I am telling you all
this, Jerry, that you may understand how I have feltabout you. The
months after your father died were sort of a blank to meI lived on
here because I had nowhere else to go. Gradually my gratitude to John
Travis turned to real affectionnot like what I had given your father,
but something quite as deep. And the years I have lived with him here
have been very happyas though my poor little ship had found the still
waters of an inland stream after having been tossed on a stormy sea.
And I've tried to make myself think that in these still waters I could
keep you always, that you would grow up here andperhapsmarry
someone she laughed. Mothers always dream way ahead, darling. But
as you grew older I could see that that was not going to be easy.
You've so quickly outgrown everything I can give youor that
anyoneherecan; you have grown so curious, your mind is always
reaching out. What is here, what is there, what is this, where is
thatquestions like these always on your tongue! And you are
like your fathervery.
Jerry shivered the least little bit, perhaps from the night air,
warm as it was, perhaps from the thought that she was like poor, poor
Craig Winton, who did not seem at all like a real father.
In a moment her mother had wrapped her in the soft shawl she
carried. Something in the loving touch of her hands broke the spell of
unreality that had held Jerry.
I don't understand, mamsey, she whispered, cuddling close, if you
felt likethatand worried, why did you let me go away?
Because, my child, there was something triumphant in her mother's
voice, some inner sense made me believe that though you look like your
father and act like him in many ways, you have a nature and a character
quite of your own. I tried to put away the fears I had had which I told
myself were foolish and morbid. John Westley's arguments helped me. I
knew immediately that he was related to the Peter Westley who had
crushed your father, but I felt certain he knew nothing of itand I
was glad; to bury the past entirely was the only way to bury forever
the bitterness that had killed your father. And when John Westley made
the offer to give you a year of school, I thought it was only justice!
I had known school life in a big city where I had many schoolmates and
I lived for several years in the shadow of a great university, though
the life in it only touched me indirectly, and when the opportunity
opened, I wanted you to have the same experience; I felt it might solve
the problem that confronted me. And I told myself that I was sure
of you that you could go away to school, go anywhere, and come back
again and be my same girl! Jerry, these people have been very, very
good to you; out of pure generosity they have given you a great deal,
do you nownow that you know the truthfeel any bitterness toward
Never had Jerry associated Uncle Johnny and Mrs. Westley, nor the
younger Westleys, nor the charming, hospitable home, with the Peter
Westley she had pictured from Gyp's vivid descriptions. And, too,
remembering the pathetic loneliness of the old man's last days, she
felt nothing but pity.
Oh, no, she answered, softly, decidedly. Anyway, he made up for
everything he'd done when he gave beautiful Highacres to Lincoln
School, she added, loyally.
Then Jerry fell silent. I was sure of you, her mother's words
echoed. Had she not glimpsed more, in those months at Highacres, than
her mother dreamed? A promise of what college might hold for hernew
worlds to conquer?
Mother, amam I thesame girl? She put the question slowly.
No, Jerryand that's what I've been fighting out hereall by
myself. For I realize that it was only selfishness made me dread
finding a change! A mother's selfishness! That you should grow and go
on and forward, even though you leave me behind, darling, I know must
be my dearest wish. But oh, my dear, I understand how the poor mother
robin feels just before she shoves her babies out of the nest! For
don't you think she hates an empty nest as much as any human
mother? Do you remember the little story I used to tell you when you
were small enough to cuddle your whole self on my lap? How yours and my
love was a beautiful, sunny garden where you dwelt and that the garden
had a very high wall around it?
I love that story, mamsey. I told it once to Mrs. Westley and she
loved it, too. And you used to say that there was a gate in the wall
with a latch but the latch was quite high so that when I was little I
could not find it!
And then you grew bigger and your fingers could reach the
latchyou wanted to open it to go out and see what was outside. I had
made the little garden as beautiful as I knew how and it was very sunny
and the wall was so high that it shut out all troublebut you wanted
so much to open the gate that I knew I must let you!
And then I went away to Highacres put in Jerry, loving the
story as much as ever.
And I was alone in the garden our love had built, but I was not
lonelyI will not be lonely, forwherever you goyou are my
girl and I love you and you love me! Nothing can change that.
And I shall leave the gate openit will always be open! She said it
slowly; her story was finished.
Jerry's face was transfigured. You meanyou meanshe
spoke softlythatif I want to goback to Highacresyou'll let
me? I can go to college? Oh, mamsey, you're wonderful!
Mothers are the grandest things. And the gate will always be
open so's I can always come back? And you won't be lonely for I'll
always love you most in the world of anybody or anything. And when I'm
very grown-up and can't go to school any more we'll travel, won't we?
You and me and Little-Dadwon't we, mamsey?
Yes, dear. But the mother's eyes smiled in the darknessshe was
thinking of the empty nest.
Jerry laid her cheek against her mother's arm. She drew a long
The world's so wonderful, isn't it? It's dreadful to think of
anyone in it, like myfather, who's set his heart so hard on just one
thing that he can't see all the other things he might do! I shall
never be like that! And it's dreadfulshe frowned sorrowfully out
over the starlit valleyto think of girls who haven't mothers and who
can't go to school. Why, I'm the very, very richest girl in the world!
Then she blushed. I don't mean that money, mamsey, I mean
having you andSunnyside and Kettle and just knowing aboutour
CHAPTER XXIX. THE WISHING-ROCK
Three girls sat on the Wishing-rock, beating their heels against its
mossy side. And the world stretched before them. It was the end of a
momentous daymomentous because so many things had been decided and
such nice things! First, Uncle Johnny had said that he'd fix it with
Mrs. Westley that Isobel and Gyp should remain at Kettle a month
longer, then Mrs. Allan had driven over from Cobble and announced that
she was going to have a house-party and her guests were going to be Pat
Everett, Renée La Due and her brother, and Peggy and Garrett Lee, and
Garrett Lee was going to bring Dana King. And Jerry and Uncle Johnny
had prevailed upon Little-Dad to accept an automobile.
You can keep Silverheels for just fun and work in the automobile
and then we can go over to Cobble and to Wayside and
Little-Dad had not liked the thought at first. Somehow, to bring a
chugging, smelling, snorting automobile up to Sunnyside to stay seemed
an insult to the peace and beauty and simplicity of his little
tucked-away home. But when Jerry pleaded and even Mrs. Travis admitted
it would be nice and reminded him that Silverheels was growing old, he
yielded, and Uncle Johnny promised to order one immediatelyhe knew
just the kind that would climb Kettle and run as simply as a
But the best of all that had been decided since sunrise was that
Jerry should go back to Highacres
Pinch me, Gypsy Editha Westleypinch me hard! she
cried as she sat between Gyp and Isobel. I don't believe I'm me. And
really, truly going back to Highacres! I can't be Jerauld
Clay Travis who used to sit on this rock and watch the little specks
come along that silver ribbon road down there and disappear around the
mountain and hate them because they could go and I
couldn't. But it used to be fun pretending I knew just what the world
Isobel stared curiously at Jerry. Hadn't you really ever been
Oh, yes, in books I'd been everywhere. But that isn't the same as
being places and seeing things yourself.
Gyp laid her fingers respectfully on the rough brown surface of the
Do you suppose it really is a 'wishing-rock'?
Goodness, no. But when I was little I used to play here a lot and I
pretended there were fairiesfern fairies and grass fairies and tree
fairies. We'd play together. And when I grew older and began to wish
for things that weren'there, I'd come and tell the fairies because I
did not want my mother to know, and, anyway, just telling about them
made it seem as nice as having them. So I got to calling this my
wishing-rock. Sometimes the wishes came truewhen they were just
Well, it's funny if it wasn't some sort of magic that made
Uncle Johnny get lost on Kettle and slip right down here in the glade
when you were wishing! And your wish came true. And if he
hadn'twhy, you'd never have come to Highacres and we'd probably never
have found that secret stairway nor the Bible nor the letter and
wouldn't have known that you were really Jerauld Winton. Oh, it
Neither Isobel nor Jerry answered, nor did they smileafter all,
more than one name has been given to that strange Power that directs
the little things which shape our living!
So, I say, girls, let's wish now, each one of us! A great big wish!
It's so still you could 'most believe there were fairies hiding
'round. I'll wish first.
Gyp sprang to her feet and stood in the exact centre of the flat top
of the rock. She stretched her arms outward and upward in ceremonial
fashion. She cleared her throat so as to pitch a suitably sepulchral
I wish, she chanted, I wish to make the All-Lincoln basketball
teamI wish that dreadfully. I wish that I can get through the
college entrance exams.I don't care how much. I wish to get through
college without busting. Then I wish that I'll have a perfectly
spliffy position offered to me somewhere which I shall refuse because a
tall man with curly yellow hair and soulful, speaking gray eyes has
asked me to marry him. Then I'll marry him and have six children and
I'll bring them to the mountains to live. Thenshe paused for
breathif I'm not asking too much I wish that my hair'll get curly.
Did I remember everything? she asked anxiously, jumping down from
the rock. Who's next?
Jerry politely waved Isobel to the top.
Isobel laughed in her effort to frame all that she wanted to wish.
I just want to be the most famous decorator in the country. I want
to have women coming to me from all over, begging me to do their
houses. And if the women are cross and ugly I'll make everything pink
to cheer them up and if they're smug and conceited I'll make their
houses dull gray, and if they are too frivolous I'll make things a
spiritual blue. Oh, it will be fun! And I want to go to Paris to
study just as soon as I get through college, and I don't want to get
married for a long, long time, maybe never.
It was Jerry's turn. Isobel and Gyp stood aside. Jerry's eyes were
shiningit was fun to pretend that, maybe, a shadowy, spectral
Fate waited there in the valley to hear what they were saying!
I wishoh, it seems as though just going back to Highacres is all
anyone could wish! I want to go to school as long as ever I can
and then I want to go all around the world, and then I want to study to
be a doctor like Little-Dad and take care of sick people and make them
well, so they can enjoy things. And I want to marry a man who's jolly
and always young-acting and loves dogs and has light brown hair and a
very straight nose and
Jerry Travis, that's just like Dana King, cried Gyp, accusingly.
Jerry flushed scarlet. It isn't anything of the sort! I meancan't
there be lots of men with light brown hair and straight noseshundreds
of them? And anyway, loyalty blazed, Dana King is the nicest
boy I've ever known!
And he thinks you're the nicest girl, Gyp laughed back. I
know ithe told Garrett Lee and Garrett told Peggy. So there
You've interrupted my wish and I don't know where I left off,
Jerry rebuked. Oh, I wish most of all that I can always, no matter
where I am, come back to Sunnyside and Sweetheart and Little-Dad
andmy garden! There, I've wished everything!
The distant tinkle of a cowbell sounded faintly; a thrush sang; the
sun, dropping low toward the wooded crest of the opposite mountain,
cast a golden glow over valley and slope. The air was filled with the
drowsy hum and stirring of tiny unseen creatures, the birches that
fringed the glade leaned and whispered. The three girls sat silent,
staring down into the valley, each visioning a golden future of her
own. But a thoughtfulness shadowed the radiance of Jerry's face.
Yesterday she had been just Jerry Travis of Kettle, now she was another
Jerry; on a page far back in her life's book, opened to her, she had
glimpsed the tragedy of disappointment, of blighted hope, of
defeather own young, undaunted spirit cried out that none of this
must come into her life! Or, if it did, she must be strong to
Gyp roused. For her the golden spell was broken. She yawned and
Isn't school funny? You think you hate it and then when vacation
comes you keep thinking about going back. And you bury geometry and
Cæsar forever and try to forget them and then first thing you're
thinking about what you're going to take next year and whom you'll get
and what new girls will come and what sort of a team we'll have! We've
just got to train a forward who'll be as good as Ginny when she
graduates and I believe, Jerry Travis, you're it.
Jerry and Isobel turned promptly from their dreaming.
I wonder who'll take Miss Gray's placeand Barbara Lee's
And, oh, Jerry hugged them both. I'll be there! I'll be
there! I hated to think of your all going on without me. It
would have broken my heart! Dear old Highacres!
To thy golden founts of wisdom,
Alma Mater, guide our step
caroled the young voices, softly.
* * * * *
BY JANE ABBOTT
There is something of Louisa May Alcott in the way Mrs. Abbott
unfolds her narrative and develops her ideals of womanhood; something
refreshing and heartening for readers surfeited with novels that are
mainly devoted to uncovering cesspools.Boston Herald.
STORIES FOR GIRLS
'Keineth' is a life creationwithin its covers the actual spirit
of youth. The book is of special interest to girls, but when a grown-up
gets hold of it there follows a one-session under the reading lamp with
'finis' at the end.Buffalo Times.
Mrs. Abbott takes her story writing seriously and the standards she
sets up in the actions of her characters must help to shape the
judgment and ideals of those who read her books.Christian
Saturated with the spirit of youth, and written in the happy vein
characteristic of Mrs. Abbott's previous stories and which is endearing
the author with her growing army of youthful readers.Brooklyn