A MEETING OF THE BOARD

“Jean is gone!”

It was Dorothy who gave this news to Tavia.

“Gone where?”

“Gone home!”

“So early?”

“Gone, not to come back? Poor Jean!”

“Don’t cry over it. Likely she was glad to get away from the work,”
said Tavia, although she knew that something unexpected must have
happened.

“She left a note for me and said I might read it to you,” Dorothy
continued. “In fact she said she would be glad if I would tell all the
girls that she–had done–foolish things–through jealousy. But, of
course, I won’t. She seems to be heartbroken.”

A messenger appeared at the open door. It was the boy from the
post-office, and he held in his hand a special delivery letter for
Dorothy. This interrupted the story of Jean.

Dorothy opened it nervously. She had been hoping for good news that
might come before the courts closed for the holidays.

Tavia watched her closely as she read. Then she saw the change in her
expression, and there was scarcely need to tell her that the good news
had come.

“Oh Tavia! It is all right! Father has recovered all his money!
And–what do you think? It was Jean’s uncle who was at fault! He had
committed a forgery, and was keeping the funds for his own use! That is
why Jean left!”

Both girls were speechless with excitement after this startling
information was realized. It was Dorothy who spoke first.

“I am so sorry for her,” she said. “Think, if it had been _father_ who
lost all!”

“But your father would not commit a forgery,” said Tavia, in her own
way.

“Yes, but neither did Jean,” objected Dorothy.

“Well, at any rate, let us be glad,” insisted Tavia. “Here is the first
act,” and she tried to do a tom-boyish somersault over Dorothy’s hat
box.

Then there was a rush through the hall. It meant that the girls were
coming to Room Nineteen. The rush continued until Dorothy was placed on
the floor, and Cologne occupied her chair while Tavia had been, not too
carefully, lifted to the top of the chiffonier, from which all things
had previously been removed.

The “T’s” were there as well as the Glens, but Cologne was “spokesman.”

“We have come—-” she began.

“You don’t say,” interrupted Tavia.

“For that you shall be gagged–if you do it again,” threatened Cologne.

Molly Richards, or Dick as we know her, fell off the upturned
jardiniere upon which she had been vainly trying to balance herself.

“This is awful,” said the chairman, “and I may have to postpone—-”

“Never!” came a shout. “We came for a full meeting of the board, and we
demand it.”

“Then let the Tarters elsewhere speak first. They are our–visitors,”
decided Cologne.

Cecilia Reynolds was not as merry as the others, but she had come to do
her part, and was determined not to flinch.

“Well,” she began, “we feel we made a mistake in having a club opposed
to the Glens.”

“Splendid feeling,” put in Tavia again. “Hurray!”

“And we did–some things–that now we see were not as funny–as we
thought they might be,” went on Cecilia, with an effort. “We voted, at
a meeting, to have Dorothy’s story of the lunch wagon published. We did
not think it would amount to so much, and we decided that the smallest
member–the one least to be suspected, should take the picture off
Tavia’s bureau. Zada was the smallest.”

Tavia could not stand this. She jumped up, and although she was only
joking now, since all things had turned out so well, she did throw a
scrap basket at Cecilia. It hit another member of the Tarters, Nell
Dean, and when the latter tossed it back it landed nicely over Tavia’s
head, and extinguished her, for which all were thankful.

“Then Jean,” went on Cecilia, “thought we could get ahead of the older
members, and we tried all sorts of tricks to do so.”

“We will not talk of those absent,” said Cologne, kindly. “Let us hear
from the Glens. Tavia and Ned, where were you the night of the fortune
telling racket?”

Tavia stretched out her hands in mock entreaty.

“Oh spare me!” she gasped. “Spare me the shame of my bare foot.”

“Tell us,” demanded Cologne.

“Help, Ned!” begged Tavia.

“No, we have questioned you,” insisted the chairman.

“Well, then, I will tell the story of the mystery of the crystal ball,”
said Tavia, making her way to the center of the group, and knocking
over a few girls who were squatted on the floor in doing so. “That
night we, Ned and I, heard of the fortune-telling scheme. So we made up
our minds we would have her tell the truth for once. We hurried off,
and gave the old lady a dollar. Ned chipped in, though I had to take it
from her, and we gave her all the information she needed. We had the
girls marked so she could easily tell them apart, and we, Ned and I,
had the delightful, pleasurable excitement, of listening at the broken
window, while the old lady fulfilled her contract. Then, when we were
scurrying home, I slipped—-”

The uproar that followed this confession could only be described as
a human earthquake. Dorothy was supposed to have known of the fraud,
although she did not, and she was not spared in the efforts of the
fooled ones, those who had paid money to have their fortunes told–by
Tavia!




“But we had a good time,” said Ned, timidly, when some of the
excitement had subsided.

“Anything else?” asked Cologne. “Remember we are consolidating now–no
more secrets?”

“Yes. I know how that man knew about Jean having her check,” said Nita
Brant. “The old fortune teller used to wait for Jean and that day she
had seen her go to the post-office, and get the letter. She kept Jean
talking on her way back until the man got farther up in the woods, to
wait for her. Jake got her purse back yesterday from a place where the
Shebad woman had pawned it. And we learned, too, that Jean purposely
dropped that scrap of paper near Dorothy’s door to worry her.”

This was nothing to laugh at. And the bright faces turned serious.

“Now, Dorothy,” and Cologne looked into the blue eyes of her friend,
“you have a letter to read to us.”

Dorothy had not yet read Jean’s note, and she objected to doing so
first in public.

“But Jean left a note to me saying she insisted on her letter being
read,” went on Cologne.

Then Dorothy was compelled to yield.

Everyone sat up quietly while the message from Jean, like a sad note
from another world, was read.

Dorothy began:

“_My Dear Companions_:

“I am going away. I can no longer be a pupil of any boarding
school, and I deeply regret that I made such poor use of my time
while I had the chance to do better. While I had plenty of money
I felt no responsibility, but since my uncle’s failure, and the
showing to me of his true character, I feel more like a woman
than a girl. I want to apologize for any disturbance I made at
Glenwood, particularly to Dorothy Dale, whom I thought it was
sport to distress. It is I, and not Dorothy, who will now have to
go out into the world to work. But perhaps in that I may be able
to give up the nonsense I have been lately plunged into, and in
which, my own dear mother never took part. I could say much more
but take this message and–good-bye.

“JEAN.”

There was not a dry eye when Dorothy ceased. The coming of Mrs.
Pangborn saved them from actual weeping.

“Young ladies,” she said, “I have a surprise for you. I guessed in
which room I would find you. I have received a letter from Major Dale,
Dorothy’s father, sending me a check with which to give you all a merry
time before parting. As the snow is so beautiful to-day I thought you
might like a full, school sleigh ride. So I have hired some vehicles,
and—-”

“Hurrah! Hurra! Hurroo!” shouted the girls, forgetting all dignity in
face of such a treat.

And on the hills of Glenwood, in three big sleighs, with Jake leading
in the _Glenwood_, its plumes flying, let us leave our friends, to meet
them again, in another volume, to be called, “Dorothy Dale in the City.”

“Well, ‘all is well that ends well,’” murmured Tavia, as they flew
along the snowy road, the sleighbells jingling merrily.

“Yes, and I am glad of it,” answered Dorothy. “But poor Jean, I am so
sorry for her!”

“We all are,” came from Edna.

Then came a burst of song from the sleigh ahead. And with that song we
will say good-bye.