JEAN AGAIN

A week passed, and Dorothy heard nothing further about her father’s
business troubles. Tavia’s ankle mended, and she declared that she had
never missed a foot so much in all her life.

The disgrace of Jean and her friends, in having been disciplined for
their escapade, also vanished, and the ringleader was now as fearless
as ever.

Occasionally Tavia would pat herself on her back, and say to Dorothy:

“You can’t imagine our luck! I will never get over it.”

But Dorothy knew no more than before what Tavia referred to, although
she did suggest that Tavia might go up to the stable, and thank Jake
for his part in her escape.

It was one rainy morning, when the girls would not reasonably think
of venturing out of doors, that Jean fixed herself for the storm and
started for the post-office. This meant that she had mail which she did
not wish to go in with that of the school.

She rushed along and in the gully, as she took the shortest cut across
the woods, she saw approaching her a woman–the fortune teller!

In spite of Jean’s hurry the woman overtook her, and, slouching up to
the narrow path, demanded Jean to stop.

“I can’t,” Jean replied, “I have only a few minutes in which to get to
the post-office.”

“But my business is more important than mailing a letter,” said the
woman. “I know you–I know all about you, and if you do not pay me well
with the money which you spend so easily on candy, I will expose you at
your school!”

For a moment Jean was startled, then, recovering her presence of mind,
she said:

“There is nothing that anyone can know of me that would injure my
reputation. Let me pass!”

“No, my fine young lady; I will not let you pass until you give me a
dollar out of that shiny purse,” sneered the woman. “Do you suppose I
do not know enough to have you expelled from Glenwood?”

“I don’t care what you know,” exclaimed Jean with ill temper. “But if
you detain me longer I will let the town officer know what sort of
place _you_ conduct. How did you know about me and my letter? How did
you tell my fortune?”

“From my ball, of course,” said the woman. “How else could I tell? And
I remember it. You are to be careful about the girl you hate. If you
say one word against her, you will be the one who will suffer. Give me
my dollar.”

Jean was now perplexed. Plainly if she did not humor the woman she
would be late for class, and she could not well risk a second offence
after that which had caused her so much indignity.

“Will you promise to tell me how you knew about that letter if I give
you a dollar?” she asked.

“Yes, indeed, I will,” the woman answered.

Jean opened her purse, and handed out a dollar bill.

“Now tell me,” she demanded.

The fortune teller fingered the dollar greedily.

“I knew about it–because I saw it in my ball. Tell the other girls
that and Shebad’s luck will turn.”

Jean scowled at her, but did not deign to answer. She ran on quickly
to the post-office, but her mind went faster than her steps. Somehow,
the woman held an influence over her. She could tell nothing of Dorothy
Dale’s father’s business! What could it matter? What could happen if
she did? Yet she feared to do so.

At the post-office she found, as she expected, a registered letter
awaiting her. She signed the book nervously, and without opening the
missive, raced back through the woods.

If only she could find out where Edna and Tavia were on the night of
the fortune telling! And how had Tavia hurt her foot? Perhaps the
fortune teller knew!

There she was–across the marsh. Jean would just run over and ask her.
She glanced at her watch. Yes, she had fifteen minutes. Picking her
steps through the damp woods Jean hurried to the woman who was sitting
down, evidently nursing that dollar.

The old fortune teller glanced up, as she saw the girl coming.

“What now?” she asked indifferently.

“I want to ask you a question,” replied Jean nervously.

“I have not my ball,” demurred the woman.

“But it is not about myself,” said Jean. “I want to know can you tell
me, how a girl–a brown-haired and brown-eyed girl–hurt her foot on
the night that we–came to your place?”

This was news to Madam Shebad–news that she might turn into money!

“What are her initials?” she asked.

“T. T.,” replied Jean.

The woman looked serious. “Let me see your hand,” she said.

“But it has nothing to do with me,” insisted Jean. “And I have to hurry
back, or I shall be late.”

“Can’t you induce the girl to come to me?” the pretender asked.

“I am afraid not,” said Jean. “She is not a friend of mine.”

“Then I will tell you this. If you come to me any time before nightfall
I will look into my ball, and find out what you want to know. It never
fails.”

Jean ran off without replying. If she should be late!




So many things seemed to detain her. There was that cripple paper-boy.
She had to take his paper, and wait for change. Then, at the little
bridge, there was the cowboy with his cows, and they were so slow in
crossing. After all it was a very nervous thing to do, to disobey
rules. She would not risk it again.

The bell rang as she turned into the gate. She was breathless, and
could not hide her confusion. Cologne had been out getting some
berries. She saw Jean, and, Jean thought, looked at her rather
suspiciously. That is the price of wrong-doing–always suspecting
others.

“Hello! there!” called out Cologne defiantly. “Been out doing
nature-work?”

It was cruel of Cologne, but she could not resist.

“Yes, human nature,” replied Jean sarcastically. “And I found a fine
specimen.”

“Good,” said Cologne. “Be sure to produce it at class for we have gone
stone dry.”

Jean was getting desperate. Everything went wrong with her, and all
her plans to make a great “splurge” at school were falling flat. Her
secret club could not be depended upon–she suspected everyone. While
never the brightest of scholars, she had lately been so distracted that
her lessons were not only neglected, but seemed to be too much for her
tortured mind.

One thing only she never failed in, and that was in the matter of
dress. Her pride in her personal appearance was a part of her very
nature, but Jean, to-day, wished heartily that she could go home!

Home! She rarely thought of that. Her mother–Jean sighed heavily when
the thought pressed itself upon her. Somehow, that fortune teller
always made her gloomy. She would never see her again. With such a
confusion of thoughts she entered the classroom.

Tavia had gotten back, and could not resist giving her a sharp glance.
Dorothy was busy with her books–she was pale, but the sun shone
through her hair, and cast a beautiful glow about her.

Little Zada was so bent over that she seemed a part of her desk. She
had to work hard now to make up for the time lost in worry.

All the girls were in their seats when Jean entered the room. Why did
they all seem to question her with looks?

“Miss Faval,” said Miss Cummings, the English teacher, “you are ten
minutes late. This is a day for hard work, and we cannot afford to lose
a moment. Please get to your lesson at once.”

Jean looked obediently at the teacher’s desk. Yes, she would get to
work at once.

But somehow her head did not feel just right. She took out her books,
and bravely tried to conquer her stupid feelings.

Suddenly the floor moved–her desk moved–and then–Jean Faval fell in
a dead faint!