THE MYSTERIES DISCLOSED

That Jean Gordon would have any personal interest in the mystery
connected with Greta was the last thing she would have guessed until
Greta came back two weeks later and appeared at the door of “Sans
Souci,” as the name over the cottage door now announced.

Gently Greta knocked. Hesitantly she came in, when several girls, who
were doing the morning work after what was a late breakfast, called a
happy, “Come in Greta! Glad you’re back.” Molly ran up and took from
Greta’s hand a suitbox which she was carrying, probably her substitute
for a grip, Molly thought. Impulsive Jean did more, running up and
throwing her arms around Greta. “Why, you look like a twin sister to
the S. P.’s now,” she exclaimed. “Who fixed your hair that pretty way?
My, I wish I had curly hair!”

Greta laughed at this. “I fixed it, as much like yours as I could,” she
replied.

Grace, who had frowned at Jean’s too frank comments, now joined in the
general smiles and added her greeting. “Of course you have come to stay
a while with us, Greta?”

“Just a few days, Miss French, if you haven’t already found some place
for me to start working.”

“There will be no hurry, Greta. You need a little vacation. The boys
say that some one else is moving into your house.”

“And we have seen from the lake that the house is being repaired,” Nan
added.

It took some time for all the explanations. The Klein place had
been taken over by the man who had bought the rest of the farm land
originally attached to the few acres left. It was rented now. Mrs.
Klein and the two children were starting for Idaho, where a sister
lived. “I am free,” said Greta, “though it was a hard way for it to
happen.”

To Molly and Jean alone Greta told the details of her mother’s
revelations. “She was hysterical, as I was told, but by the time I got
there she was glad to have me take care of the children. I think that
she told them I wasn’t her child so that I would have no share in the
little bit of property. She was that way. She did _not_ realize that
all I wanted was to get away!

“Of course, she did not say a word about how her Greta died and I
didn’t tell her what Molly heard. There was no use in making her feel
worse than she did. She said that the night Greta died there was a
dreadful lake storm and more than one boat went down on Lake Michigan.
Jacob Klein felt so terrible about losing Greta that he walked and
walked and walked through the woods and clear across to Lake Michigan
before he knew it. I suppose he did, for it’s only thirty miles or so,
and he may have had the horse or a boat at that. He never told her the
truth about anything. He wanted to get away, and he could have taken
one of the boats and gone out by the river.”

“I think that it’s farther than you think, Greta,” said Molly. “Were
you ever there?”

“No. I wasn’t anywhere! But however that was, he found me out in Lake
Michigan, lashed to something and unconscious. Isn’t it queer that none
of my dreams or flashes of remembering had a boat in them? But I was
afraid of the water at first, till Jacob Klein made me fish and told me
to learn to swim. I found that I did already know how to swim, when I
made up my mind to go into the water.

“We must have come part way through the woods, for I partly remember
being made to walk and it seemed dark, though it must have been just
before daylight, from what Mother said. I shall call her Mother till I
get away from here, Jean.

“Then Jacob told his wife that they would take me in the place of Greta
and that no one would know the difference, even if I did not look like
Greta, for scarcely any one ever came by; and if I didn’t go to school
and they kept me at home to work, nobody would know.

“I think that Mother expected me to ask some questions there, for she
hurried along and made up a lot of things that couldn’t be so, only
that I was sick and they had a doctor come from Milwaukee, instead of
one from the town. Jacob must have been good and scared to do that; but
even then I don’t see how it was managed. If they had had any friends
it couldn’t have been. But it was no wonder people kept away!

“She said that I might be able to find out who my folks were, but she
didn’t know and Jacob tore up the paper that had the names of the
boats lost in the storm. She made over my clothes for the children and
I could wear Greta’s then, but there were some coral beads that she
found inside of my clothes. The string must have broken, she said,
but a few beads were down my neck, and there was a handkerchief in
my coat pocket that she kept. She told me where to find it and I went
right back home to get it. There is E. G. in indelible ink on the
handkerchief. It is a man’s handkerchief, though.”

“G stands for Gordon,” said Jean, who had been looking sober ever since
the story of Greta’s being found in Lake Michigan had been mentioned.
“I’m going to see if my father can not find out something for you,
Greta. It surely will not be hard to find out what boats went down in
that storm. If you were lashed to something it would mean that you were
in some wreck, you see.”

“I wish you had lost a sister, Jean,” smiled Greta, “but I do hope
that there will be somebody. Still a whole family could be lost on a
pleasure boat, you know, and if I can work and learn something along
as I can, I shall be happy. Can’t you learn without going to school,
Molly?”

“Of course you can, Greta. Oh, we ought to give you a new name!”

“An S. P. name,” laughed Jean. “Say, Greta, would you mind? Wouldn’t it
be fun to make up a name for you?”

“I’m sure I don’t mind.”

“Sally, Stella, Serena, Sophia, Sophy, Sophronia, Sara, Sidney,” began
Jean. “Oh, for a dictionary! We forgot to bring one out.”

“Think up a good one, Jean,” said Molly. “It’s funny that she does look
a little like you with her hair parted on the side, the way you have
yours now.”

“But I’ll never have those natural curls, Molly. It isn’t fair!”

“I’ll give you my hair any time you want it,” asserted Greta, and
although she smiled as she said this, the girls knew that she would
gladly exchange any of her advantages for Jean’s.

“I have it,” said Jean, suddenly, “Sybil, of course. She will be our
S. P. sibyl. It was stupendous stupidity in me not to think of that at
once.” Nan and Phoebe, who had just joined the group of three, agreed
at once with the fact of Jean’s stupidity and Jean pretended to be
deeply offended. But they were interested at once when Jean said that
this sibyl would find her own fates instead of telling other people
theirs.

The story of Greta’s substitution for the real Greta was soon told
to them all, disagreeable facts like those Molly had overheard all
omitted. “He probably worked over me when he found me half drowned in
Lake Michigan, girls,” said Greta, anxious to do justice to poor Jacob
Klein. “So I do owe my life to him, and it was probably the liquor that
made him–the way he was.”

Greta was a happy girl to sleep on an extra cot kept for guests and to
have her sharing in the gay doings taken as a matter of course. She
so insisted upon doing more than her share of little tasks that Jean
dubbed her the “Relief Corps” and told Grace that she might just as
well let Greta help whoever had charge of meals for the week. But they
began to call her Sybil until she said that she knew that magic had
been worked and that she was a different person altogether. “Well,”
said Nan, “since you are really not Greta at all, Sybil is as much your
name as that. You are probably a sort of nice pixy. And that makes me
think, Jean, the boys are now calling us the Sibyl Pixies!”

With the rest Sybil went to a great picnic celebration gotten up by the
boys, and Billy asked Jean what the girls had done to her to make her
look so different.

“We have not done anything, Billy, except to make her have happy times.
It’s that she has some respectable clothes now and doesn’t have to kill
herself working. The village women must have shamed Mrs. Klein into
getting her a decent dress for the funeral and the neat skirt and
middy and sweater that she has for every day is as good as anything
we are wearing out here. She told me that she borrowed the money for
those, but that they didn’t cost much in the little town.”

“Poor kid! Isn’t it awful what some are up against?”

“Yes; and I never thought about it before. I’m always going to think
more about other girls and not take everything for granted after this.
By the way, Billy, I’ve a lot to tell you some time.”

“Why not now?”

“Because we have to play games and things. Wait till we get home. I
have something on hand now that is very exciting. Could you keep a
secret?” Jean’s eyes were dancing and the dimple was in evidence.

“Try me.”

“I haven’t said a word to Molly or Nan or any of the girls, for fear
Sybil might get a hint and then have her heart broken.”

“What on earth do you mean?”

“Right away, Billy, as soon as Sybil said that Jacob Klein took her out
of Lake Michigan, I thought of that awful summer when my uncle’s whole
family were in a dreadful storm and wreck. They were going to visit us
and they never came at all. Don’t you remember about it? Mr. Standish
had a piece in his paper about it. Uncle Everett and Aunt Fanny were
saved and the two little twin boys, but a girl about my age, mind you,
Billy, and a baby, were just swallowed up some way, though they found
the little baby. Wouldn’t it be strange if Sybil were Uncle Everett’s
child? If she is, her name is Ann Gordon.”

“Say! But things don’t happen that way, Jean.”

“_Why_ don’t they? She has to be somebody, doesn’t she? And maybe I was
sent up here to find my cousin. I wrote a letter to Daddy right away,
all about it and when it happened, as nearly as Sybil could tell from
what Mrs. Klein said. I’ll let you know when I hear. Perhaps,” Jean
added impressively, “everybody will know very soon, if it turns out
that way!”

But Jean herself was surprised when, before she thought her uncle could
possibly have heard from her father, out came the Gordon car with a
lady and gentleman whom she had never seen, her uncle and his wife.
Sybil was not there, but Jean was, almost afraid that she had done
something she should not when she finally realized who had come. “Oh,
perhaps I’ve made a big mistake,” she cried, “and then you will be so
terribly disappointed!”

“Jean,” said the quiet gentleman who was Uncle Everett, “for four
years I have gone to every place where I heard of a child’s having
been found and adopted. You would be surprised to know that there have
been several children saved from wrecks on the big lake. This is only
another chance, though, more likely, for we were not so far from that
shore, but there was no report of anything but wreckage found there.
Your father telegraphed. Fanny wanted to come with me, to see if she
knew the beads you mentioned, and here we are.”

There was a little time of waiting before Sybil, the unknown, came in
from the woods with the other girls, all laughing and happy. Never did
she look more like Jean than when with eyes alight, she handed Jean a
branch which held a little humming-bird’s nest, like a lichen-covered
cup. “It was broken off by the storm, Jean,” she said; and then she saw
that they had company. “Oh, excuse me,” she said, stepping back.

But “Greta Klein” had not changed so much in four years that her own
mother did not know her. “Ann,–Ann-girl,” said Mrs. Everett Gordon,
rising at once from her chair and walking across the big room as if
there were no one there but herself and the girl who was staring at her
with startled eyes. “Oh, what have they done to my little girl all this
while! Don’t you remember, Ann?”




One by one the girls began to slip out of the room. It was very
confusing to the girl who had been Greta Klein as she thought. Even
Jean deserted her, and here were a gentle lady and a kind man, who held
her close by turns and scarcely said more than her new name, Ann, Ann
and Ann again. Best of all she knew them for her own. “Oh, yes, it’s
you, Mother! I know! Please take me home, Father!”

It was not necessary to look for the identifying beads and
handkerchief. Ann had changed very much, her mother said, in height
and expression, but the face could not be mistaken. Nothing but some
disfigurement could have made her hard to recognize at once. Mr. and
Mrs. Gordon could scarcely bear to have her out of their sight. Jean
protested against her being taken away at once, but Ann drew Jean’s arm
within her own as she said, “Suppose you had just found your father and
mother again, Jean, wouldn’t you want to see home with your own eyes?
I’ll never forget what you girls have done for me and my father says
I may come back; but I have two little brothers, Jean. Think of it! I
will write you all about it.”

With this Jean was satisfied. In a whirl of cheery goodbyes the Gordon
car took them all back to town and the train. “My,” said Jean, “doesn’t
it seem lonesome without Sybil?”

“Yes,” Grace answered, “yet she was here only two weeks. Do you
realize, girls, that the time I have to spend here is getting short?”

The vacation was flying, as Grace said, but when Grace felt that
she must go back, there were several tired mothers that thought a
short vacation would do them considerable good. They were welcomed
as chaperons by the S. P.’s and not allowed to cook or lift anything
but an admonishing finger. By this time, moreover, the S. P.’s could
“really cook,” as Jean put it. The advent of the mothers, one by one,
prolonged the camping until within a few weeks before school began;
then the beloved cottage was dismantled and the caravan of campers
returned. The boys had gone first, but some of them came back to help
the girls pack up.

Billy persuaded Jean to ride on the truck which Jimmy drove, with
Grace beside him. He fixed a safe perch and sat beside her to hear the
latest, he said.

“Well, Billy, the latest is that we are really the Social Progress
Club, announcing our name to everybody, and that we think the Sibyl
Pixies a clever idea of you boys. The only thing secret will be our
initiations; so that that mystery is over. But the great mystery of
the S. P.’s was the one we didn’t expect at all, the one that made Ann
Gordon out of Greta Klein! Sure enough, I _did_ go up there to find a
cousin. Suppose we hadn’t gone camping. Suppose we hadn’t had a S. P.
Club!”

“You would have gone East with your father and mother, and Leigh would
have gone somewhere with hers, and Molly,–well, you would have been
scattered.”

“And oh, Billy, I’ve something to confess to you. I’ve just dreaded
doing it, but I have to, for the sake of my little conscience!” Then
Jean started in to tell Billy all the details about how she started the
S. P.’s. Fortunately, Billy did not take it as seriously as she feared,
though she did not spare herself. He doubled over with mirth when she
told him how she saw the S. P. on a sign as they passed.

“You can tell the other boys if you want to. I deserve it. There was a
real club, though, by the time they heard of it. But I made you think
that _there had been one_. It’s taken me a long time to bring myself
to telling you, but I had to be straight with myself, anyway. Whatever
happens, I’m going to stick to the straight up and down truth forever!”

Billy was a little embarrassed by Jean’s earnestness, but as Molly had
once said, he was both level-headed and fair.

“So far as I’m concerned, it’s all right, Jean. You’ve fixed it up
with your little conscience, so forget it. I don’t blame you, for I
suppose I was blowing about our pin that I was showing you. I had to
show somebody or ‘bust,’ I reckon. Jimmy’s taken a lot of that out of
me this summer. Let’s draw a long breath and start in, Wizards and S.
P.’s, to raise money for the new library. You’re great on thinking
things up, Jean. Get up some good schemes and I’ll back you.”

“Thanks, Billy. It’s a great relief that you don’t think that so
terrible. And speaking of schemes, Uncle Everett says that he will
give a contribution to the S. P.’s for any cause they like. My cousin
Ann writes to me, you know. They are not rich, but so happy. I’m to go
there on my Christmas vacation and Ann is going to be an S. P. So are a
lot of other girls if they will join us.”

But Billy was laughing over a thought of his own. “Think of all the
names we boys made up for you, and all the time you were trying to fit
something to S. P. and rousing our curiosity!”

“I’m sorry about that, Billy, but the S. P. mysteries are all over,
though it is almost a pity. And our greatest find was Greta-Sybil-Ann.
I’m not so sorry, after all that I started the S. P.’s. Even if Ann
might have found her parents in her own way, she would never have known
the ‘why,’ if it hadn’t been for Molly, and we hurried up the happy
ending, or beginning, just by being on hand. My! You never can tell
what’s going to happen when you start _anything_!”