A SCHEME THAT FAILED

A whole week had passed, when, one evening, there was noticeably a
great hurry among the girls to finish supper. Whispering was more
popular than dessert, and glances were being shot like hot fire from
one to another of those near enough to interpret them.

“Oh, she won’t go,” Tavia told Ned. “Better not tell her anything about
it, or we won’t get there either.”

“But she has been so blue—-”

“Ned,” interrupted Tavia, “if you are going to be on my staff do not
argue. I cannot stand insubordination.”

“That means that you are going to get me into more trouble, Tavia,”
Edna got a chance to say. “Really I don’t like the thing at all.”

“Miss it then,” replied Tavia tersely. “But it’s a chance of a
lifetime.”

“And Dorothy not to know—-”

“I tell you that would spoil it all. You know Dorothy’s idea of a
thing like that. Now I’m going upstairs. The ‘T’s’ are making eyes at
one another, until there is danger of eye-lock and that’s as bad as
lock-jaw. Be sure to leave as soon as you seen Jean look at her watch.
I’ll be there.”

It was almost dark, and against the rules for the girls to leave the
grounds at that time, but, in spite of that, a shuffling of feet down
the outside stairway told of a venture unusual.

Not a word was spoken until some of the girls had safely passed outside
the gate.

“Oh, I’m just scared to death,” breathed one.

“Nothing to be afraid of,” came in Jean’s voice. “If you don’t want the
fun you may go back.”

“Oh! what was that?” exclaimed another. “I saw something dart across
the street!”

“Rabbits,” replied the girl in the raincoat.

“Don’t you suppose she will ever tell?” asked Cecilia Reynolds.

“And lose her trade? It isn’t likely,” and they scurried along.

“How do you know she’s good?” asked one as she stumbled over a string
of bushes.

“She has a crystal ball,” said Jean. “_They_ are all good!”

“We’ll be good if we get back before study hour is over. It’s all right
though, when Dorothy Dale did not get to hear of it. I’m just crazy to
know something.”

“We all are–you goose. That’s why we are risking our reports.”

A few minutes later the girls were crowded into a dingy little room
where Madame Shebad had arranged to tell their fortunes.

It was, of course, Jean’s idea, for Glenwood was rather dull for a
girl who had been accustomed to the city life that Jean Faval left to
“finish up” at a fashionable school. Only a musty curtain divided the
parts of the fortune teller’s cabin, and, one at a time of course, the
girls were to go behind this and get dizzy, gazing into the big, glass
ball, made in an Ohio glass factory, but supposed to come from some
other mysterious place, not on the maps of this good government.

“You go first,” begged a girl who was really first in line.

“Come in proper turns, please,” said a voice from inside the curtain,
and the timid one started.

“Let me have your hand,” commanded the same, lazy voice.

The hand trembled visibly, and the fortune teller was clever enough to
say that the girl had a very nervous temperament!

“But you are talented,” she added shrewdly, “and you will get on in
life. I see you on a ship–you are going on a long journey, and when
you return you will be strong and well.”

So she went on, while Tillie (for it was she) shook more every moment,
not alone because of the strained position she sat in, with her hand in
that of the woman’s, and her eyes glued to the ball, but because she
was worrying about getting back to school.




Several other girls went through the same sing-song fortune telling
with the slight variations of letters coming, and light and dark
friends of different grades and different shades.

Then it was Cecilia Reynolds’ turn.

“You are a leader,” the fortune teller told Cissy, noting that she
carried a small purse, “but beware of a very light and pretty girl
(Dorothy, of course). She has a way of making people think she is fond
of them, but this is all for her own ends. I see—-” and she paused
significantly, “a child–a little dark girl. She cries! What is the
matter with her? What has she done?”

Zada! Those who listened back of the curtains were dumbfounded.

“She has done something she regrets very much, and she wants to tell
this light girl. Her home is far away, and she will soon return to it.
Who told her to do that thing?”

The woman gave this chance to take effect, and, while doing so, took a
fresh stick of gum. Cecilia looked on the glass. The woman came back
to it, and almost kissed it, as she pretended to look deeper into its
depths.

“Yes, and there is trouble,” she rumbled, “much trouble. But it isn’t
well to foresee trouble,” and she sighed as if that “trouble” would
break her own heart.

Cecilia was very restless. It would get late in spite of all
calculations.

It was now Jean Faval’s turn. She walked in as if used to such scenes,
had her glove off in advance, and handed out her hand as mechanically
as if offering it to a manicurist.

The woman looked at her very sharply, and it was some moments before
she spoke.

“The lines are crossed,” she said finally, “and so is your life to
be. You have a great will, but you do not allow it to have its proper
control. Your ambition is–money, and what about a letter? Who wrote
the torn letter?”

She looked from the glass ball straight into Jean’s eyes, but the
latter never flinched.

“Have you any questions to ask?” the woman inquired.

Jean hesitated. Then she said: “When will I get my answer to that
letter? Is there anything in it?”

“No,” said the teller sharply. “The answer will surprise you very much.
Don’t be too sure (common advice). But this very night you will dream.
That dream is the answer to your letter.”

There was a perceptible titter from some place.

Then the seance was over!

Such a prattle, and such confusion as reigned among that party of girls
as they hurried back to Glenwood!

Jean alone was silent. How did that woman guess about her letter? And
she had warned her to be careful. Well, she would wait for a time at
least. She would say nothing at school about Major Dale!