THE INTERVIEW

Mrs. Pangborn was sitting in her pretty little office when Dorothy
entered. On her desk were some late, purple daisies, or iron-weed, and
their purple seemed to make the white-haired lady look regal, Dorothy
thought.

After exchanging greetings the principal began with her rather painful
discourse.

“I have sent for you, Dorothy,” she said, “on account of some rather
surprising stories that have come to my ears. I can scarcely credit
them. At the same time I must make sure that these rumors are
groundless. Did you–take charge of that lunch counter at the new
depot, this morning?”

“Why, yes; I did,” replied Dorothy, coloring to the eyes, “but I only
did so to help the young girl who has charge of it. She had to leave,
and called to me to go over there for a few minutes.”

“It seems incredible that a Glenwood young lady should do such a
thing,” Mrs. Pangborn said. “But I have no doubt your motive was
innocent enough. Then about the young gentleman with whom you were seen
walking?”

Dorothy felt like crying. Who could have tattled these stories? And
what a construction to put on her actions!

“He merely walked this way because—-”

She hesitated. What was his reason? And how would it sound?

“Was he a personal acquaintance?” asked the inquisitor.

Again Dorothy hesitated. “I know his mother,” she said finally, “and he
has been very kind. It was he who sent you the message from the train
when we could not get here.”

“Oh, the young man who ’phoned from the station for our car? He
certainly was kind, and I can’t see—-”

It was then Mrs. Pangborn’s time to hesitate. She had no idea of
letting Dorothy know that some one had notified her that Dorothy Dale
was out walking with a young man whom she had met on the train–a
perfect stranger!

“It is a pity,” the principal went on, “that these first days must
be marred with such tattle, but you can readily understand that I am
responsible, not only for the reputation of my pupils, but also for my
school. I must warn you against doing rash things. One’s motives will
not always excuse public criticism.”

Dorothy was too choked to make an answer. She turned to the door.

“One word more,” spoke Mrs. Pangborn, “you know we have a number of new
girls this term, and I would ask you and your friends, as you are so
well acquainted with Glenwood, to do all you can to make them happy and
contented. I don’t like seeing the strangers gathered in little knots
alone. It is not friendly, to say the least.”

“But, Mrs. Pangborn, those girls seem to want to keep by themselves.
They have refused every effort we have made to be friendly,” Dorothy
answered.




“They may be shy. That little one from the South is the daughter of a
friend of mine. Her name is Zada Hillis, and I am most anxious that she
shall not get homesick,” insisted Mrs. Pangborn.

“I will do all I can to make her contented,” Dorothy replied, “but she
seems on such friendly terms with some of the other girls–in fact
Jean Faval has taken her up quite exclusively, and Jean refuses to be
friends with me.”

Dorothy was glad she had said that much, for, somehow, she traced her
unpleasant interview to the sly work of Jean and her chums.

Mrs. Pangborn turned to her books, indicating that was all she wished
to say, and Dorothy left the room.

Tavia was outside waiting for her.

“All right, sis?” she asked, noting that Dorothy was trembling with
suppressed emotion.

Dorothy merely pressed Tavia’s arm. She could not just then trust
herself to speak.

“Come on,” Tavia said. “We’ll go back to our room. Perhaps I can make
you feel better by telling how that thing happened.”

The other girls all seemed to be out of doors–the morning was too
delightful to spend time unpacking and hanging up clothes.

Once in her room Dorothy buried her face in the couch cushions. The
previous excitement had been enough–this new phase of the trouble was
too much.

“Now see here,” began Tavia, “don’t you mind one thing which that crowd
says or does. Jean Faval, of course, is at the bottom of the whole
thing, and she has organized a club they call the ‘T’s.’ It’s secret,
of course, and no one knows what the ‘T’ is for, except the members.
She met you this morning with Mr. Armstrong, and that was just pie for
her. They’re out under the buttonball tree now, planning and plotting.
I’ll wager they are after my scalp,” and she shook her head of bronze
hair significantly. “Failing with the hair tonic, they want the whole
head.”

“But to be accused of–why, Tavia! I cannot see how the little incident
could be made into such a story,” sobbed Dorothy.

“Little incident! You running a lunch cart! Why it’s the very biggest
thing that ever happened in Glen. I am going to apply for the position
permanently.”

Tavia went over to her dresser, and “slicked” things up some. She
missed something, but did not at once speak of it, thinking it had been
mislaid.

“I feel as if my reputation had been run over with a big six cylinder
car,” Dorothy said, trying to cheer up. “It hurts all over.”

“Say,” Tavia broke out, “did you take your picture from here? Now own
up. Did you give it to David Armstrong?”

“Tavia, don’t be a goose,” Dorothy said. “What would I want with my own
picture, after I had given it to you?”

“Well, it’s gone, and I could have sworn I put it right here,”
indicating a spot on the dresser. “If I don’t find it—-”

Tavia made a more frantic search among the things on the dresser. She
opened and shut drawers rapidly. Dorothy watched her chum curiously.

Suddenly, as Tavia paused, rather disheveled and warm, there sounded a
footstep out in the corridor. It seemed to pause at the door.

“Listen!” whispered Dorothy.

Tavia tiptoed to the portal.