SCHOOL AT LAST

“We just should have left her there,” growled Edna. “I can’t understand
why any girl would prefer staying up all night in a stuffy car, to
getting this grand ride, and a night’s sleep in bed to boot. Dorothy is
too–conscientious.”

“That’s just what I say,” chimed in Tavia, who was next to Edna in the
rear of the big three-seated closed touring car, that flaunted the
Glenwood flag. “And that she would deliberately refuse to come until
the conductor read the list; like a funeral!”

“I was so sorry Mrs. Armstrong couldn’t come with us,” continued Edna.
“But her son had the little runabout for her, of course.”

“I should not have minded so much if the son could have come,” teased
Tavia. “This is a lovely ride, but fancy talking to Jacob! He’s been
the Glenwood runner ever since cars came in, and he thinks he just
knows all there is about machines.”

“Glad he does, for it’s some dark,” reflected Molly. “I suppose that
Jean girl took the outside seat, thinking she could make Jake talk.”

“Or that she would avoid talking to us,” Edna moved her injured arm
carefully. “Well, I can see that Nita and Lena, and some of the others
are talking to Jean. We’ll have some trouble keeping our club up even.
But Tavia, what is the matter with Dorothy? She is not a bit like
herself.”

“No, she isn’t. But I think her father is not well, and he is getting
old–prematurely old, for his hair is white as snow. You see, it must
worry Dorothy to leave him and the two boys alone. Seems to me that
veterans always get old–young,” said Tavia evasively.

“Do you really think that is all that is the matter with her?” went on
Edna. “It seems to me that it is something more serious.”

“Well, maybe it is,” replied Tavia. “But I’m sure I hope not. Dear Doro
does so much for every one else that it would be almost a shame to have
her have troubles.”

“It surely would,” came from the other. “Do you suppose she would mind
if I asked her?” and Edna looked back to where Dorothy was talking to
Cologne. “Or perhaps you had better do it, Tavia. You know her so much
better than the rest of us, and she won’t mind it–coming from you.”

“That’s right!” cried Tavia with a little laugh. “Blame it all on me!
No one minds what I do. I’m the goat, of course. If there’s something
unpleasant to be done, let Tavia do it.”

“Oh, I didn’t mean it that way at all!” exclaimed Edna. “You took me up
so short—-”

“Better be short than long!” went on Tavia, laughing. They could talk
rather louder now, as the machine, chugging along, made so much noise
that there was no danger of Dorothy hearing.

“No, but seriously,” proceeded Edna. “I do think Doro has some secret
trouble. She isn’t at all like her jolly self, and though she has been
just as nice as she could be in this trouble, still—-”

“Still waters run deep!” interrupted Tavia. “I’m sure I can’t say what
it is.”

“Then why don’t you ask?”

“Simply because if Dorothy wanted me to know she’d tell me.”

“She might not. She might be too sensitive. It would be just like her
to hold back and not want to tell anyone. Oh, Tavia, I’m almost going
to ask her myself if you won’t.”

“Well, I won’t, that’s all there is to it. Let’s start a song. I’m
getting dry and lonesome.”

“Oh, Tavia, there’s no use trying to do anything with you,” sighed her
companion. “Why can’t you be serious for once?”

“I just can’t–that’s all. It isn’t in me. I’m a hopeless case, I’m
afraid. But don’t worry so much. Let Doro alone and if she wants help
she’ll ask for it. Then we’ll all pitch in, and do all we can for her.”

“Indeed yes,” agreed Edna heartily. “Dear Doro does so much for others
that it would be a pity if we could not aid her in some way. Oh dear!”

“What is it now?” asked Tavia, glancing out into the gathering
darkness. “Something hurt you? Is it the arm?”

“Yes, a little. I wish Jake wouldn’t drive so fast. It makes me
nervous. I’m all unstrung, anyhow, I guess, over what has happened. He
seems quite reckless, I think.”

“Nonsense,” retorted Tavia. “This is great, I say! I like to go fast.
The faster the better.”

“You always did,” commented Edna, “but I think—-”

She did not finish the sentence, for the auto gave a sudden jolt, and
came to a quick stop, while Jake, the driver, uttered an exclamation of
annoyance.

“What is it?” called out Dorothy. “Has anything happened?”

“Something surely has,” voiced Tavia. “This trip is a hoodoo from the
start.”

There were a few half-suppressed screams, many alarmed inquiries, and
any numbers of “Ohs!”

“What is it, Jake?” asked Dorothy again.

“Tire’s gone back on me,” replied the driver with characteristic
brevity. “I was afraid it would play out, and I wanted to stop and put
on a new one, but Mrs. Pangborn told me to hurry, and I did. Now I’ve
got to go slow. Hum! No fun, either, putting on one of these tires.”

“More haste the less speed,” commented Tavia. “Pile out, girls, and
we’ll walk in the woods while Jake puts a new rubber shoe on this duck
of an auto. It can’t go out without rubbers you know, or it might catch
cold in its gasolene tank!”

“What talk!” cried Molly Richards, with pretended horror to Dorothy.

“Yes, I’m afraid she’ll never get over it,” agreed our heroine. “Still,
it’s like most of what Tavia does–harmless, for she really has a kind
heart.”

“Which is more than a coronet or even a violin,” commented Molly with a
laugh. “But she is getting out.”

“Come on!” cried Tavia again. “No use sitting still and waiting for
Jake. Besides, we’ll make the machine lighter if we get out; won’t we
Jake?”

“Oh, well, I’ve got to jack the wheel up anyhow,” spoke the driver,
“and one or more young ladies like you, Miss Travers, won’t make much
difference. Stay in if you like.”

“Thank you! Glad to know I’m light!” cried the irrepressible Tavia.
“Hope it wasn’t my head you referred to.”

“No–er–not exactly–that is–Oh, well, get out if you like, miss,”
said the puzzled Jake, who did not exactly understand Tavia’s
chattering.

“I’m going to,” she retorted, “come on, girls.”

“In those dark woods, with horrid, creepy, crawling things!” cried
Edna. “Never. I can almost see a snake now! Oh!”

“Silly!” snapped Tavia, as she made her way out of the car. She stood
watching Jake make his preparations for replacing the damaged tire, and
even offered to help him work the lifting jack.

“I wonder why she likes to do that?” asked Nita of Dorothy.

“I don’t know, I’m sure,” was the answer, while Tavia actually did work
the handle of the implement that raised the auto wheel clear from the
ground.

“I guess it’s because ‘Jake’ is a boy’s name, and Tavia is so fond of
the boys–in a nice way, of course,” Nita made haste to add. “You know
what I mean, Doro.”

“Yes, of course,” laughed Dorothy. “You needn’t have explained. Tavia
is such a–problem.”

“I fancy we all are–in different ways,” came the remark. “I know my
people say I am. But Tavia!”

“There is only one!” laughed Dorothy softly.

“And a good thing there are no more,” spoke Nita, as she looked closely
at her chum, wondering, as others had done that day, what was troubling
Dorothy.

For that something was troubling our heroine was evident. It plainly
showed on her face, though she tried to hide it and be her usually
jolly self–jolly, however, in a way different from Tavia.

“Want me to hold the jack?” came from Tavia, in business-like tones, as
she watched Jake deftly go about the work.

“No, thank you, miss. It’s a self-regulating one,” he replied. “It’ll
hold itself. But you might hold one of the oil lanterns so I can see to
unscrew these lugs.”

“I knew there was something queer about this auto,” came from Tavia
with a laugh. “It’s been putting on ‘lugs,’ as the boys say. It got too
gay, and had a puncture. Isn’t that it, Jake?”

“Yes, miss, I guess so, but if you wouldn’t mind, please, holding that
light a little more over this way, I could see better.”

“That’s the time Tavia got a ‘call-down,’ to use some of her own
slang,” commented Molly. “But, Doro, what are ‘lugs,’ pray tell?”

“I guess Tavia used it meaning ‘airs,’ or something like that,” was the
reply. “Will you be much longer, Jake?”

“No, I’ll soon have it on,” the man said, and he was as good as his
word. Then Tavia scrambled up to her seat, after insisting on helping
Jake to put away his tools, and the car started off again, amid
heart-felt murmurs of thanks from the rather tired young ladies.

The machine was gliding over the hills through the moonlight, and soon
the towers of Glenwood would be seen. The “Light House,” the girls
always called the big light in the tower that gleamed until the village
bell struck midnight.

Cologne was in the rear seat with Dorothy. Molly Richards made the
trio, while next came Nita, Lena, and a little frightened girl, all the
way from Georgia. It was her first term, and all the escapades did not
help to make her impression of school life in the North any the less
mystifying.




“What’s up now?” asked Molly, as the big machine came to another sudden
stop.

“Jake sees something,” replied Dorothy. “He has the queerest habit of
seeing things that no one else can see.”

“Yes, there he is getting out. A chicken likely,” put in Nita.

For a few moments the girls waited rather anxiously. Then the chauffeur
came back to the car.

“What is it?” called a chorus.

“Can’t just say yet,” answered Jacob, “but I think it’s one of them
velvet poodles that someone has dropped out of a car.”

“Oh, do let me have it,” begged Jean, who, being with Jake naturally
felt the best right to his find.

“I’ve got to look him over, and see as he isn’t hurt,” replied the
driver. “A little fluff of a thing like this doesn’t lie in the road,
when he’s got the use of his legs.”

“Let us see him, Jake,” implored Tavia. “You know I always take good
care of the Glen dogs–when there are any.”

“So you do–so you do. Well, here it is, as I must be getting on. But
be careful he doesn’t snap. Can’t tell about toy dogs. They’re not
hounds, you know,” and he handed first to Dorothy and she in turn
handed back to Tavia, the little, silken animal that Jake had picked up
on the lonely road.

Jean was piqued. She intended to conquer even Jake, and she really did
like a white toy dog. First she had been obliged to go to Glenwood in
the motor, when she had been all settled for the night, and wanted to
wait for the morning train. Next, she sat outside with the driver and
he refused her simplest request.

“It’s all because of that Dale girl,” she muttered to herself, while
she smiled at Jake. “Won’t you let me drive the car a little way,
please?” she asked. “I am used to motors, and I love to drive on these
hard clean roads.”

Jake looked at her keenly. “I’ve no doubt but you can drive,” he
replied, “but you see I’m responsible to Mrs. Pangborn, and it would be
a queer story for me to tell, if anything happened, that I had let a
school-girl run the big car at this hour of the night.”

Of course the front windows being down, and Jake speaking with
unmistakable distinctness, everyone in the car heard the reply to Jean.

Tavia was too busy with the poor little white dog to notice. She had
made a bed for him, and indeed the little thing unmistakably needed
rest. He sighed and panted, then he licked the girl’s hands.

“Poor, little thing,” said Edna, “do you suppose some chauffeur dropped
him, and never missed him?”

“They go so fast, over country roads at night that there is no telling
what happens,” replied Tavia. “But he’s mine, or Doro’s. She has a dog
so much like him at home that he may help to cheer her.”

“But won’t Jake want him?” whispered Edna.

“Jake would eat out of Doro’s hands,” answered Tavia in low tones.
“Don’t you remember, last Winter, how she saved his children from that
fire in the auto house? How she went up the ladder—-”

“Oh, of course, but we all helped,” objected Edna.

“We helped when Dorothy showed us how. Now look here Edna. I don’t want
you to think that I believe Dorothy Dale to be perfect, but the fact
is–I have my first flaw to discover.”

“Hurrah! Hurray! Horroo!” Edna said quietly. “Tavia, you have, after
all, something tangible. It’s love!”

“If you wake my dog it will not be love for you,” threatened the other.

“Say, look at Jean! I think she’s asleep on Jake’s shoulder. Won’t that
be a leader for our–hazing!”

“There’s the lights!” called a quartette, for indeed the tower light of
Glenwood shone brightly at the next turn.

Suddenly all the balcony lights were flashed on!

Then such cheers! Jake clung to the wheel as if the car might shy at
the noise.

“Glenwood! Glenwood! Rah! Rah! Rah!
Back again, back again, Margery Daw!
Left the boys behind us! Hah! Hah! Hah!”

It was a school cry.

“Careful, careful!” cautioned Jake. But Mrs. Pangborn was there to
welcome one and all.