TEACHERS

Mrs. Pangborn was not a woman to allow her pupils too much liberty–she
felt the very responsibility of a mother, and, following Jean’s
break-down, she at once started a personal investigation of the girl’s
doings on the morning when she came late into the classroom.

She found out that Jean had gone to the post-office. One of the
gardeners had seen her cross to where the fortune teller sat in the
woods. Then, someone else remembered that she had seen her run all the
way up the path. Mrs. Pangborn determined that this fortune teller
should be put out of the place, as she was plainly an evil influence.

Taking the simplest and most reasonable course first, the principal of
Glenwood found her way to the cabin of the alleged fortune teller.

Her dignity seemed offended, as she stepped into the ill-smelling
room. Madam Shebad was not so stupid as to think that she had, in the
white-haired woman, a customer, but, nevertheless, she was equal to
the occasion.

“I have come to complain,” began Mrs. Pangborn without preliminaries,
“about your receiving my pupils here for the purpose of telling
fortunes. Those young ladies are in my charge. I am responsible for
them to their parents, and if you again allow them to come here I shall
have to make known your business to the proper officials. I suppose you
know it is against the law.”

“I never told any fortunes to your girls,” said the woman. “I told them
the truth. If they would tell you the truth, they would bear me out.”

“I did not come to discuss your methods,” said the principal, “but just
to say to you that I will not allow my girls to visit this place—-”

“But I would like to tell you,” interrupted the woman, “that I only
told those girls what I really knew. I did not tell any fortunes.”

Mrs. Pangborn stopped to realize what the woman meant. How could
she know, this stranger, such things as she had told those girls,
for, since the happening, bit by bit, information was coming to the
principal that aroused her suspicion. She had heard, for instance, that
the torn letter was mentioned to Jean Faval. Mrs. Pangborn had handled
that letter when it came to Jean, in the regular mail. A maid had
reported that she had seen a letter at Dorothy’s door, but, believing
it to be left there for some one, she had not carried it off in her
cleaning. That was how Tavia came to get it.

“Will you tell me who informed you of my pupils’ affairs?” Mrs.
Pangborn asked.

“No, I cannot do that,” replied the woman, “but you may know that some
one did tell me of them.”

Here was a new problem–some one had come to this woman, and told her
what to tell the girls! Who could it be, and what could have been their
motive in doing so?

“You see,” said the woman, “you have no charge against me. I did _not
tell any fortunes_!”

As she understood that this was why the woman had argued simply to
clear herself, Mrs. Pangborn left the place.

It would not be well, she decided, to make any inquiry just then,
as the girls had been through so many little troubles in the short
term. But she, of course, would have to have them guarded–especially
Jean, Zada and Tavia. She had no fear that Dorothy would do anything
dishonorable.

Entering the classroom, the greatly respected principal looked about
her. She saw Dorothy busy at her work, she saw Tavia bent over her
books, with one eye on them and the other roaming about.

The visit of the principal was always regarded as a matter of
importance. Now every pupil sat up straight, and took that opportunity
of resting her eyes from letters.

“I just want to say, young ladies,” began Mrs. Pangborn, “that I have
been surprised at the liberty some of you have taken, from this school.
I have never felt it necessary before to give out such positive orders.
I do not know who may be to blame, but I will not again excuse any
girl for such lax order and discipline, as might seem to her a fitting
reason for her to visit a common fortune teller!

“You must all know that there is no such thing as the possibility
of any human being telling of future events. If such a thing were
possible do you not see what a wonderful advantage it would be in the
world’s greatest happenings? I do not think I need go further into
this subject, other than to say that I positively forbid any member of
Glenwood Hall from going to any fortune teller. If I find that any girl
has disobeyed this rule I shall be obliged to dismiss her.”

A dead silence followed these few words. Tavia’s eyes only might be
seen to show a glow of satisfaction. And yet Tavia had under her
mattress a letter with this Madam Shebad’s name on the corner!

And no one had yet found out where Tavia and Edna had been when Tavia
sprained her ankle.

Dorothy’s eyes glowed nervously. Zada looked directly out of the
window, and, as she bit her lips, Mrs. Pangborn wondered why she should
seem so strained. Edna settled all her movements on Tavia, and if the
teachers had called a fire drill, likely Edna would have asked Tavia
what to do before she did anything.

Jean was still suffering from her collapse, and was not in the
classroom.

It was a beautiful autumn day, and when she had given her positive
instructions, Mrs. Pangborn thought it might be as well for her classes
to go out into the woods, for the last of the season’s nature work, as
to remain in the room struggling with technicalities.

Miss Cummings, Miss Hays and Miss Boylan were told to take the classes
to the woods. They were to bring back specimens of the dogwood, the
late flowers of the underbrush, and such varieties of outdoor life as
make the Autumn famous.

Dorothy was with Zada, Tavia of course was with Edna, and Cologne was
so close to Molly Richards that one could scarcely tell whose sleeves
were blue or whose white.

“Does any young lady know where to find iron-weed?” asked Miss
Cummings, who was leading the party.

Iron-weed was as common in Glenwood as the grass itself, and therefore
every girl wanted to go for it in a different direction. Finally it
was agreed that the swamp, near the station, might furnish the best
specimens.

Cecilia Reynolds and Hazel Mason rushed on ahead, without any regard to
the teacher’s talk, as she tried to instruct the class on varieties of
vegetation, and its relation to humanity.

Reaching the swamp, all sorts of nature “weeds” were discovered. The
girls, glad to be entirely free from the schoolroom for that beautiful
day, set to digging up roots and bulbs, hunting out frogs and snails,
and doing all the absurd things that students usually do when allowed a
day in the woods.

“Isn’t it too bad Jean could not be with us,” said Cecilia to Hazel.

“Yes,” replied Hazel rather doubtfully. “But what makes Jean so bitter
toward the Glens? I think the best girls are in the older club.”

“Then why don’t you go with them,” replied Cecilia sarcastically.

“I would if I were eligible. I think Rose,–Mary and Dorothy the very
nicest girls in the school,” said Hazel, just as Molly Richards found a
little red lizard, not more than an inch long, and just cute enough for
a stick pin.




The lizard was placed upon a flat stone and was, for the time being,
the centre of all attraction. So beautifully red, so small, so
perfect, and just like a pattern for an alligator!

“It must not be killed,” said Miss Cummings. “We will put it in our
aquarium.”

“I’ll take it,” offered Tavia, for whom a bug, that could crawl, creep
or fly, had no terrors.

“Thank you,” said Miss Cummings frigidly, “but I prefer to take care of
it myself.”

With this she took the tiny terra-cotta crawler on a bit of paper, and
carefully placed it in her handbag.

Fearful that the insect might die the teacher did not close the bag.

Have you ever seen a lizard in the woods in Autumn? Do you think you
could keep one in an open handbag?

The woods were explored to the satisfaction of the teachers, and the
delight of their pupils. Then they all started for the Hall.

At a little spring house, a shed built over a crystal spring, they
stopped for a drink. Tavia, of course dipped her very nose in the
water; and those who did not intend to do likewise did so without
intending.

But how beautiful that little strip of woodland road was! No wonder
teachers and pupils lingered.

Just at the old water-wheel, every one stopped again. Falling leaves
made the spot a painting, and Miss Cummings undertook to explain what
the wheel had been, and what its ruins meant.

Suddenly she squirmed. Dorothy was nearest her and asked if she could
help her.

“It’s the lizard!” the instructor declared. “He has gotten out of my
bag and is just now crawling up my arm, inside my sleeve to my collar
bone!”

“Mercy!” exclaimed Dorothy instinctively! “Do you suppose we can catch
him?”

“If you do not,” said Miss Cummings, “I shall have a spasm of nerves. I
have heard of fleas, but a lizard—-!”

Her remarks were cut short by the necessity for tracing the progress of
the reptile. He was just under her left arm now.

“We will have to take your waist off,” said Tavia, overjoyed at the
prospect.

“Do it quickly,” begged the teacher. “The thing is eating my cuticle.”

“Which part is that?” asked Tavia, as if she didn’t know.

They sat the teacher on a tree stump, and it did seem as if more girls
wanted to help get that lizard than could possibly handle just one
woman.

“Here it is!” shouted Cologne, grabbing something small and soft.

Miss Cummings was now almost hysterical.

“It’s worse than a mouse,” muttered Zada.

“Much worse,” sobbed the afflicted one.

“Did you get it, Cologne?” asked Dorothy.

“No, that was a sachet bag. I thought I had it though,” Cologne
answered.

“Here!” yelled Tavia, as she held out, on the palm of her hand, the
pretty little red lizard.

“_You_ may bring it back to the aquarium,” said Miss Cummings calmly,
as the three girls tried to hook up her waist.