NEWS AND A NEWSPAPER

“Tavia!” gasped Dorothy, “I knew it! We must get a paper.”

“We shall,” assented Tavia. “I must see one, myself. But please,
Dorothy, do not distress yourself so. It may only be some idle gossip,
among the school notes.”

“Did you see the reporter, when he came up for the opening notices?”
asked Dorothy.

“No,” was the slow reply, “I guess we were out. We can stop at the
paper store now. The others are on ahead.”

Tavia and Dorothy were skating slowly back to Glenwood. Jean Faval’s
cutting remark had exactly the effect she intended it should–it had
shocked Dorothy.

Her first thought was of her father. Had he lost all? Would she have to
leave Glenwood, and go to work?

But Tavia’s suspicions were of a different character. She feared some
blow had been aimed at Dorothy, directly through the public prints.

“Here’s the stand,” Tavia said, “but it’s closed!”

“Is there no other place?” asked Dorothy in distress.

“The one at the depot, but that, too, may be closed between trains,”
replied Tavia. “Had we better try it?”

“Oh, yes; we must. I can never go in the school building, until I know
what it all means.”

“We cannot skate over there. Let us call to Ned that we will be back
presently. Better not excite any more suspicion.”

Tavia funnelled her hands to her lips, and gave the message to those on
ahead, and, with the order to “fetch them some good things” the ways
parted.

Skates over their arms the two girls hurried along. Neither spoke for
some moments. Then Dorothy broke the silence.

“Of course you have not heard yet from Nat, Tavia?”

“Only that first letter that I showed you. Surely if anything were
wrong he wouldn’t have written in that monkey-strain.”

“And I have not heard from father. Well, if it is only money, it cannot
be such a great disgrace,” and Dorothy’s sigh belied her words.

They were within sight of the depot newsstand now.

“Closed!” exclaimed Dorothy. “The shutter is down!”

“Well, then,” said Tavia desperately; “I’ll get a _Gleaner_ from
Cecilia Reynolds. I saw her have one at lunch.”

Dorothy was getting more and more nervous as they neared the hall.
She slipped her arm in Tavia’s, and the latter gave her a reassuring
press. Truly these two, who all their girlhood days had shared each
others’ joys, and sorrows, were best fitted now to face the new trouble
together, whatever it might be.

The afternoon was shading, but the air was delightful and the red
maples were already losing their leaves.

“Suppose you sit here on the bench, Doro,” suggested Tavia, “while I go
get the paper.”

Only too glad Dorothy assented, and Tavia ran off.

The time seemed hours to Dorothy before Tavia returned, and, when
she did so, the color, that very rarely left her healthy cheeks, was
missing.

“What is it?” asked Dorothy.

“A meeting of the entire school has been called–suddenly,” replied
Tavia, “and I have been asked to have you come up at once. There is
nothing but excitement. Even the new teachers are in the assembly room.
I could not get a word from anyone, but was met at the door with the
order to go and get you. We had better go.”

Then as Tavia’s color faded Dorothy’s rushed to her cheeks. There must
be something very serious, indeed, when a school meeting was called for
that hour in the afternoon.

In the assembly room Mrs. Pangborn sat at her desk, and, as Tavia and
Dorothy entered, there was a subdued murmur of surprise.

“Be seated,” said the principal, “and Miss Cummings will please read
that–article.”

It was the Glenwood _Gleaner_!

The teacher began. The heading was enough:

“PLUCKY GLENWOOD GIRL SAVES THE
DAY FOR TRAINMEN.”

Dorothy shrank as if she had been struck!




Then the teacher continued:

“RUSH AT THE LUNCH WAGON, DUE
TO PRETTY GIRL’S ATTRACTIONS–DO
YOU BLAME THEM–SEE
HER PICTURE.”

“Picture!” exclaimed Tavia without waiting to ask permission to speak.
“That is _my_ picture of Dorothy! It was stolen from my dresser!”

“Be silent,” commanded the principal. “Miss Dale, if this ordeal is too
much for you–you may leave the room!”

Dorothy was shaking and sobbing. Even permission to leave the room
sounded to her like her expulsion in disgrace from Glenwood.

Miss Higley, one of the teachers, saw Dorothy’s plight, and took her
arm as she left the room. Then the investigation was continued. The
article was read through, and at each new paragraph Tavia gasped
audibly. Who could have written, or said such things about dear, quiet,
kind Dorothy? The article fairly reeked with flashy insinuations.

When the teacher finished Mrs. Pangborn arose from her chair. Her face
was paler than ever.

“I feel,” she began, “that the honor of Glenwood has been besmirched,
and I demand to know at once who is responsible in any way for the
publication of such libelous nonsense!”

There was no answer made to the peremptory order.

“Octavia Travers, as you are Dorothy’s most intimate friend, I will
call upon you first to ask if you know anything of this?”

“All I know,” replied Tavia in a trembling voice, “is that when I
unpacked, I had a picture of Dorothy. I placed it directly back of a
cushion on my bureau. When I went out of the room it was there; when I
came back half an hour later it was gone.”

“And you think this,” showing Tavia the likeness in the paper, “is
taken from that?” asked Mrs. Pangborn.

“I am sure of it, for it is the only picture in that pose that Dorothy
had. She had three taken and two were sent to relatives at a distance.”

“You heard no one ask questions about it that morning at the station?”

“No, Mrs. Pangborn,” said Tavia bravely. “Had I any suspicion that such
a thing as this could have happened I should have gone to you at once,
both to save my best friend, who is now all but prostrate, and to save
you this great annoyance.”

The ring in her voice was unmistakable. Not one who heard her doubted
the sincerity of her remarks.

“Thank you,” said Mrs. Pangborn, thus dismissing her questions.

“Now I must call upon those who are known to oppose the club known as
the Glens,” she said further. “I believe Miss Faval is their leader?”

Jean Faval stood up.

“I know nothing about it,” she declared, “and the first time I ever saw
a picture of Miss Dale was in the paper you have there. I can prove to
anyone that the morning Miss Travers claimed that picture was taken
from her room I was not in the hall from dressing time until luncheon.”

There was a murmur as she sat down. Evidently something else was
expected when the rival leader underwent her questioning.

“This need go no further,” said Mrs. Pangborn, “unless anyone will
volunteer information.”

She waited, but no one spoke.

“The meeting is dismissed,” she said wearily, and in five minutes the
big room was emptied.