DEEPENING GLOOM

After the rescue of Ravelings, Dorothy hurried back to the hall. As she
was met at the door by Tavia and Edna she was too excited and exhausted
to proffer any information. In fact she considered it was due the girls
that they look around, and hunt up things on their own account. Why
should she be their mediator? They should learn a lesson, and it might
be just as well to learn it at this time.

“Where on earth have you been? Crawling through a knot hole?” asked
Tavia, noting Dorothy’s disheveled appearance.

“No, I crawled under a knot hole,” she replied, going toward the door.

“But what did you tell Jake? You are not going away that way–leaving
us in suspense; are you?” asked Edna.

“Oh, if you want to see the dog you can just go up to the stables,”
replied Dorothy easily. “Jake is giving him his bath.”

“What? Dorothy Dale! You to tell such a fib!” exclaimed Tavia.

“No, I am telling no fib. I have just left Ravelings in Jake’s arms!”

The two girls were dumbfounded. Dorothy really meant what she was
saying, and however could that dog have been found? Edna looked at
Tavia, and Tavia glared at Edna.

“And,” gasped Tavia, “the five dollars are all spent! Do you suppose
the lady with the sticked-glasses will come up to the hall? Ned, we had
better flee!”

“I can’t believe it, and I’m afraid to go up to find out,” said Edna.
“Dorothy, please tell us about it, or we shall die of–a new disease.
We might call it rabies junior.”

“I can’t tell you anything more,” insisted Dorothy, “but I am sure Jake
would be glad to tell you all about it,” this last with a meaning not
to be misunderstood.

So Dorothy left them, and proceeded to get ready for her school day.

“What!” asked Edna, all but speechless.

“Which?” gasped Tavia, the one word taking all her breath.

“Could we go up, and peek through the hole in the fence?”

“We could, but it would be very unwise from my view point,” answered
the other. “A better way would be to crawl around when Jake goes out
for the train stuff. He won’t likely take Ravelings with him now. Might
lose him again.”

“I don’t feel as if I could live all day, and not know,” Edna insisted.
“Couldn’t we bribe someone else to go up? Dick is safe.”

“No one is safe with such a secret,” objected Tavia, “though Dick is
nearest to it, she loves news, and just fancy that story getting out.
Talk about a _Gleaner_ story! This would get in the big city papers.
But, though I am a good guesser, I cannot guess how the dog got back.
Of course Dorothy had to do with it. I shouldn’t wonder if she went
down to the post-office, laid in wait for our benefactress, and told
her Jake was dying, and wanted to see the animal just once more.
Something like that, you will find.”

“Well, we have got to get to business,” said Edna with a sigh. “Jean
beat me in algebra yesterday, and I can’t let it happen again. By the
way, I wonder where she gets all her money?”

“A rich uncle. I heard her tell of him. I don’t believe her own folks
are any better off than mine, and land knows where we would have been,
if my foreign grandmother did not die, and make it a point to find out
where we were before doing so. I cannot never thank her enough,” and
Tavia looked heavenward.

“Jean is certainly well off with small change,” went on Edna. “I am
afraid if some one does not check her, she will turn chocolate color.
She just wallows in them.”

“And doesn’t she hate Dorothy? I can’t see why, unless it is she sees
herself in the mirror of Dorothy’s goodness. There! Wasn’t that lovely?
And from me! I hate to see Jean toting that baby Zada around. She is so
innocent she would do anything Jean might suggest–when Jean would be
too cute to do it herself. She keeps fixing her up with sweets all the
time, and Zada thinks she loves her.”

“And Cecilia Reynolds is another who would not cry if anything
unpleasant should happen to Dorothy. Well, we have got to keep our team
close, and stick together,” declared Edna, “and I do hope this dog
business will not spoil us again.”

“‘Let sleeping dogs lie,’” quoted Tavia. “And, speaking of dogs, there
come the Jean set now. They have been to the woods, ostensibly, but
really have been down to the lunch cart. Jean never could get along
till noon on a Glen breakfast.”

“Did you see her white tennis suit?” asked Edna. “Isn’t it a startler?
She’s going to wear it at the match. That’s like her. I suppose she
will not even have a ‘G’ on her arm. Well, white or black, we can beat
them. Did you see how Dick played yesterday?”

“Oh, we’re not afraid of them at tennis,” replied Tavia. “They might do
us at the lunch cart, but tennis? Never!”

A few hours later even the returned dog was forgotten in the depths
of school work. Dorothy kept her eyes on her books more intently than
was necessary, for in doing so she avoided the glances that Tavia was
covertly turning on her. She was determined that the two culprits
should make their own discoveries, and she was quite correct in her
ideas of what Jake would say if they (the girls) happened around the
stable again while he was on duty.

The morning went quickly, and at lunch hour Cologne tried to rally
the Glen forces to prepare for the tennis match. There would be
visitors, and as it was the first big match of the season every one was
interested. Some of the new girls proved excellent players, and there
was considerable rivalry in the “pick.”

The short session of afternoon study was hardly given the attention
that the teachers wanted, for the girls were anxious to get out to
practice.

But Dorothy did not seem inclined to take her place. Tavia, always
anxious to know her friend’s troubles, asked if there had been any news
from home.

“Yes,” replied Dorothy slowly, “and if you don’t mind walking to the
post-office with me, I would like to mail a reply at once.”

“No sickness? Nothing really serious?” again questioned Tavia.

“Serious it may be, but fortunately not sickness. The girls will have
such a time to-day at the practice, making arrangements (most of which
will be the others made over), I thought we could get off. You know I
don’t like to walk through the woods alone.”

“But the trouble?”

“Joe–has gone to work,” replied Dorothy choking.

“Perhaps he wanted to?”

“Oh, no; I know it is that trouble,” and she sighed deeply. “I have
written to say that I–shall—-”

“You shall not. It is much easier for a boy to go in an office, even in
an emergency, than for you to leave this year,” declared Tavia. “Could
I see your letter?”

“Of course,” and Dorothy took a slip of paper from her pocket. “Of
course you know dad. He would not tell me more than he had to.”

Tavia glanced over the note. “Why,” she exclaimed, “that’s nothing. Joe
had a good chance to get in the bank, and he wanted to try it. I can’t
see the need of you taking _that_ so seriously.”

“Oh, I know I may be too anxious, but, at the same time, I feel, being
the oldest, that I should be there to help in some way,” finished
Dorothy dolefully.

“Yes, you might pose as a beauty. I believe there is a great demand for
the sylph,” Tavia said facetiously.

Dorothy did not reply. She stood there in her pretty white linen dress,
with her unruly hair getting into ringlets in spite of the braids that
tried to restrain it.

“Don’t mail your letter,” begged Tavia. “Come over to the court. I
expect trouble between Cologne and Cecilia, and if there is anyone in a
scrap, I would hate to miss it.”

“All right, you run along. I’ll join you later,” Dorothy conceded, and
Tavia left her.

“She may be right,” thought Dorothy, “but I must tell the folks that I
am willing to do all I can. I _have_ to mail the letter.”

The girls on the tennis court were all too busy to notice her as she
walked out of the grounds, and made her way to the post-office. Through
the woods, she was so occupied with the thoughts of home, that she
reached the office before she realized the lonely part of her walk had
been covered.

At the window, waiting for stamps were a number of persons, and taking
her place Dorothy looked about at the written notices, such as usually
decorate the walls of a country post-office.

One, written differently from the others, attracted her. It was this:

“REWARD. One hundred dollars, for the return of a small, white
dog, answers to the name of Cyrus. Lost from an automobile on
the main road, some time yesterday. The dog is a thoroughbred
St. Charles, and the only companion of a lonely woman. When he
left the car he wore a bow of Paris blue ribbon. Leave word with
postmaster.”

Dorothy read in wonderment! That was surely Ravelings! And Jake would
get that reward!

She dropped her letter in the box, and hurried away never stopping to
speak to the girls, who were now well on in their tennis game, but
going straight up to the stables to tell Jake.

“One hundred dollars!” he gasped. “If I get that miss, I’ll go halves
with you, for it was you who found him.”




“Oh, I don’t want any share,” said Dorothy. “But you had better take
the dog right down to the post-office, for as soon as people read of
that reward they will fetch all sorts of dogs to make claims. Likely
the woman will come to enquire just about mail time.”

Jake was a man of few words, and he turned with a pull at his cap as a
salute to Dorothy, and was soon getting himself and the dog ready for
the trip to the post-office.

Dorothy called “good luck,” as she left him, and said she hoped her
news would not be disappointing. But even the excitement of this did
not cause her to forget her worries of home, and when Tavia came in
from the tennis court, she found Dorothy sitting dejectedly in her room.

“I knew there would be trouble,” cried Tavia. “Dick and Cecilia almost
came to blows. Sissy declared the ball had not bounded, and every one
could see that it had, and it was our score—-”

She stopped suddenly. Edna was calling her. “I have to go I suppose,”
she said finally. “Dear me. I am all ashake,” and without any further
explanation she ran off again.

A half hour later she returned, with a very broad smile on her flushed
face.

“Dorothy Dale!” she exclaimed. “How ever could you have played such a
trick on us. There is no more white dog in the barn than there is in
this room!”

“Isn’t there?” asked Dorothy, realizing that Jake had taken Ravelings
off before the girls had a chance to see him. “Then he must have been
spirited away. That dog has had a great time of it.”

“Spirited away, indeed!” said Tavia indignantly. “I have almost gone
gray over the thing, and it was all a—-”

“Mistake,” finished Dorothy for her. “Well, then you feel better I
suppose,” and she determined not to tell the story of the dog’s second
return to its owner. It was too good a joke to spoil now.

“Well, at any rate, I’ll sleep to-night,” Tavia went on. “I have been
expecting to go to jail for that five dollars.”

“And you won’t be afraid to go to the post-office?” Dorothy asked. “I
am glad of that, for I hate to go alone.”

“And I’m going to the _Gleaner_ office first chance I get, and see if I
can’t clear up the picture mystery. I have a faint suspicion, now, how
that got off my dresser. But don’t ask me about it, for it is the very
merest suspicion.”

“Just as you like, but I would love to know,” Dorothy said. “If I go
away—-”

“You are _not_ going away! I’d do the whole of Glenwood darning to save
you that.”

“Thank you, my dear,” Dorothy said, “but I am afraid I will have to
do _your_ darning. I noticed quite a bunch of something very like
stockings in your bag.”

“Say, Doro, you have got to cheer up. Really, everything in the club is
going to pieces, and Cologne says she will resign if someone does not
help her keep the place,” Tavia declared.

“Oh, I’ll do all I can,” Dorothy agreed, “but don’t ask me just yet.”

“And Jean Faval is flaunting around, as if she owned the earth and
Mars. Even some of her own friends are getting too much of it. Zada
won’t look at her.”

“Poor little Zada! She is such a baby. I have noticed her eyes very
red, lately,” Dorothy remarked.

“Yes, but I don’t believe it’s homesickness altogether,” Tavia said. “I
think it’s something on her mind.”

“What could she be worrying about?” Dorothy questioned.

“Why don’t you ask her? She thinks a lot of you,” suggested Tavia.

“I will,” replied the other, “the first chance I get. Mrs. Pangborn
wants her to be happy. She’s a friend of her family’s, you know.”

Tavia pulled out her dresser drawer in search of something, and there
dropped to the floor a torn envelope. She picked it up quickly.

“There!” she exclaimed, “that’s the piece of paper I lost the day my
picture went. Do you want to see it?” handing it to Dorothy.

“The Marsall Investment Company!” Dorothy gasped. “Where ever did that
come from?”

“That’s the company your father has his money in; isn’t it?” Tavia
questioned.

“Yes,” Dorothy replied, her eyes still on the envelope.

“Well, my dear I found that in the memorable box of poisoned
chocolates, that Jean Faval wasted her hair tonic on the day we
arrived,” Tavia said.