A CLIMAX

In order to carry out their plans to “strike,” the dissatisfied ones
decided they would tell all they knew about those who were held in high
favor with the teachers. But in this they were forestalled by events
unexpected.

Jean received a letter that seemed to crush her to the very earth. She
would take no part in anything, but simply went through her routine
work like one in a dream.

It was on this same day, very close to the closing exercises for the
holiday term, that Tavia and Dorothy (the latter more despondent than
ever about her father’s business), also received news that changed
their despondency into gladness.

It was Dorothy’s letter from home. As she finished reading it she
exclaimed:

“Tavia! whatever do you think? Mr. Armstrong–our Mr. Armstrong–is
father’s lawyer!”

“_Our_ Mr. Armstrong,” repeated Tavia, “you mean _your_ Mr. Armstrong,”
Tavia finished teasingly.

“Well, father says this case has taken a new turn. That Mr. Armstrong
has discovered some flaws somewhere in the case of the other side. I
could not understand just what they are, but, at any rate, it makes
things look much brighter for father.”

“Good! May his brightness increase with the days,” replied Tavia. “Of
course I knew it would come all right—-”

“But it is not all right yet. It is only brightening up. But a ray of
hope is a great thing, when one is really blue,” admitted Dorothy.

“Then Zada must have had several rays, for I never saw such a changed
girl. She actually went skating with us yesterday. That child was
creepy last Fall,” said Tavia.

Dorothy smiled when she thought of the reason for Zada’s improvement,
but much as Tavia wanted to know the story of the lost picture, Dorothy
could not dream of telling her of Zada’s confession.

“Father knows that we met Mr. Armstrong, and says he wishes to be
remembered to us,” added Dorothy.

“He shall never be forgotten,” said Tavia. “If I really ever felt
foolish enough to marry, I would advertise for a man like him. He is
so real. And how he rode on the hand car! I call that inspiring!”

Dorothy smiled. The relation between riding on a hand car and
inspiration seemed remote.

“Did they find out who took Jean’s purse?” asked Tavia. “I believe Jake
said he would do so, and Jake usually does what he says.”

“Haven’t you heard? Is it possible I have any news that you have been
deprived of?” said Dorothy. “Why, it was the husband of that fortune
teller!”

“Whew!” whistled Tavia. “Bad as that! Jean had better be careful or
they will get _her_ inside that crystal ball.”

“But I do wonder how that woman ever told her the things she did? I
know she told her about the torn letter,” said Dorothy.

Tavia laughed merrily. “Don’t you ever wonder how I strained my foot?”
she questioned in answer.

“Well, yes, of course, but then you did not want to tell me,” Dorothy
replied.

“I will, some day, but just now I want to tell you I had the best time
I ever had in my life that night. But about your father. Dear Major
Dale! How kind he always was to me, and I was such a problem to be kind
to,” said Tavia gratefully.

“We always liked you, Tavia,” added Dorothy equally moved. “But about
father. He says that Mr. Armstrong is a wonderful young lawyer.”

“All things come to her who waits,” put in Tavia. “Now I know what
that chap’s business is. It was really worth while for the investment
company to fail, to get me that news.”

“Don’t joke about so serious a matter,” objected Dorothy. “But you have
no idea how much better I feel. I could sing and dance.”

“That’s Mr. Armstrong,” again teased Tavia. “He made me feel like that
first–before I saw how you made _him_ feel—-”

“Now stop, Tavia,” begged Dorothy, blushing. “Mr. Armstrong has really
proven himself a good friend. First he helped us so much the night we
were traveling; then he came to my assistance at the lunch counter, and
now he is assisting father.”

“You have overlooked the fact that he bound up the sprained arm–whose
was it?”

“I wonder how he came to have a medicine case along?” reflected Dorothy.

“Likely feeling he would need it,” suggested Tavia. “That would be
right in line with his other saintly characteristics.”

“No, I believe he was carrying it for some friend. However, we have our
tests to-day. Oh, I am so glad this term is nearly finished. Not that
I dislike the work so much, but everything has been so upset.”

“I am glad, too,” agreed Tavia. “I suppose you are going to North
Birchland for the holidays?”

“Aunt Winnie may not be home, but, of course, the boys will be, and we
always have Christmas together,” replied Dorothy.

Tavia fell to thinking. It was rarely she ever looked quite so serious.
“I will stay on here,” she said. “I can’t afford to go to Dalton. And
besides, home is so changed—-”

“You will do nothing of the sort,” exclaimed Dorothy. “You can depend
upon it if I can afford to travel, something will turn up to give you
the same privilege. And here I am talking–how do I know but that
failure may come yet? Then I would have to go–and stay!”

“You are forgetting about David Armstrong,” Tavia said quickly, to
dispel the little blot of gloom. “‘Dave’ will surely win out.”

There was not more time for talking, for, as Dorothy said some of the
mid-year tests were to be prepared for that very day.

Tavia, never fond of study, but doing better than she had expected to
do, worked uneasily over her geometry. Dorothy was making an outline
for a thesis. The morning was dark, and it was plain that the upper
world was burdened with snow.

One more week and Glenwood would be in an uproar, with girls leaving
for home for the Christmas holidays. Everyone seemed happy that
morning, when the classes were called–everyone except Jean. Dorothy
pitied her in her heart, for, though she might have made some mistakes,
still, thought Dorothy, “we all make mistakes in different ways.”




When the day’s work was done and the papers had been examined Dorothy’s
thesis was pronounced the most perfect, and for it she would receive
the usual holiday prize, a gold pin, the gift of the faculty. This was
one of the most desirable tributes that could be bestowed upon a pupil
of Glenwood. It was enamelled with the Glenwood flag and the school
motto.

The next evening, with some pleasant exercises, it was presented, and
every girl, even the “T’s” cheered, for no one could honestly dispute
Dorothy’s right to popularity. Little Zada stole up to her, as they
were leaving the assembly room, and reaching high, put her arms about
Dorothy’s neck, and kissed her affectionately.

Then the Glens held a meeting, and gave her a “shower.” What was not
in that shower could hardly be imagined. Cologne, of course, gave her
a box of perfume, Edna, a silk flag, Tavia, a shoe bag with a little
white dog “Ravelings” painted on. (Tavia did not paint it but that
was of no account.) Other trifles and pretty trinkets came in a real
shower, so that the evening, so close to the end of the mid-year term,
ended most happily.

As there was still some school work to be done this part of the program
had to be “inserted” so to speak, early.

First, because as the holidays drew nearer, the excitement of going
home obscured every other occurrence, and second, because the records
to be made by the teachers for the beginning of the next term occupied
all their time.

“Where is Jean?” asked Dorothy thoughtfully, when, after all the
confusion, she was alone in her room with Tavia.

“I don’t know. No one has seen her to-day. What could have happened, I
wonder? She came out well, and would have received a certificate.”

“I heard Cecilia say she was not well. I wonder should we go over
and see if she is all right? We are her nearest neighbors,” proposed
Dorothy.

“Well, we couldn’t go to-night,” replied Tavia. “But honestly, Doro, I
do feel sorry for her. She seems to have had nothing but scrapes since
she came here. I don’t usually feel that way for a rebel, but maybe
Jean was born that way.”

“It is an unhappy thing to have such a disposition,” said Dorothy, “and
as you say it may be lack of home making–or training. She appears like
a girl who sprang up suddenly.”

“I can sympathize with her in that,” replied Tavia with a sigh. “See
all the trouble I have had! Just because I got to be someone else. I
mean that I had to be made over.”

“Oh, nonsense, Tavia. You were always the best girl in the world. We
were not speaking of polish, but disposition,” insisted Dorothy.

“Well, we will see about Jean in the morning. It appears to be our
duty, since you and I have given her the most cause to be mean,”
decided Tavia, in her queer way of reasoning.

Dorothy smiled as she looked fondly again at the riot of pretty things
about her dresser. “I think it was too much for the girls to give me
all these things,” she remarked. “I wonder how they could spare them
from their home presents?”

“Oh, they were the things they could not get in their boxes,” said
Tavia, plaguing her companion. “But say, let’s snooze. Ned and I walked
all the way to town to-day and I am almost dead.”

“What did you go away in there for?”

“To ask the _Gleaner_ man who gave him your picture.”

“Did he tell you?”

“He said it came by mail, anonymously.”

Then Dorothy smiled as she touched the button that extinguished the
light.