THE ROADSIDE ROBBERY

Two whole weeks passed and Dorothy heard nothing but indefinite news
from her father. The legal “hearing” had been postponed, he wrote, on
account of some of the stockholders being away from the city. Just what
“hearing” meant Dorothy did not know, but she did know that at least
her father had not been deprived of his liberty.

Meanwhile Jean Faval became morose. All her defiance seemed to have
turned into sulkiness, and except for Cecilia Reynolds, who was her
very close friend, she scarcely noticed any of the girls.

Tavia she absolutely refused to speak to, much to the delight of the
Dalton pupil, who said that was a positive evidence of guilt.

One afternoon, when Winter first showed its power, Jean again made her
way to the post-office. She was thinking of what Mrs. Pangborn had said
about the contents of the torn letter. She was thinking that, after
all, it might have been as well for her to have paid no attention to
that fortune teller, and to have told what she knew about the troubles
of the Dales.

But the threat hung about her. She was somewhat superstitious, and,
although she had only told it to Cecilia (who was so much a part of
herself, that Jean denied to Mrs. Pangborn that she had told “anyone”),
still now, that she had been blamed, and realizing that Dorothy still
held her high place, a spirit of jealousy again made itself felt within
Jean’s heart.

“If I could only find out how that old witch knew all she told me–if I
could only induce her to tell,” Jean was thinking.

As was her custom, the fortune teller did not miss sight of anyone
going to or from the post-office, and when she espied Jean she smiled
sardonically.

“Now,” she muttered, “we will look for trade.”

Jean did not see her, as the fortune teller pulled her scarf over her
head, and got into a position in the roadway where she might startle
the girl as she passed along.

Two letters were in Jean’s hand–one of which she was reading with
wrapt attention.

As she reached the white rock, the woman spoke, and as she expected,
Jean gave a start.

“My dear,” began the imposter, “I have news for you. I have been
waiting to see you for a whole week.”

“News for me?” repeated Jean.

“Yes. The other night, at the full of the moon, I took my crystal out,
and asked the moon to tell who your enemies were. A flash came from the
sky, and almost blinded me.” Here she stopped for effect. “But I can
not give in to the planets. So I again asked.”

“What answer did you get?” inquired Jean.

“I saw the letters ‘T. T.,’” replied the woman.

“Tavia Travers!” exclaimed the foolish Jean aloud.

“And she is rather dark, roguish, full of mischief, but a dangerous
enemy!” This last was said in the most dramatic way, and had the
desired effect upon Jean.

“How could she do me harm?” asked the startled girl.

“In many ways. Already she has done you harm by—-”

“By what?”

“I cannot tell you all this for nothing. Shebad has to live.”

So interested was the girl that she took out her purse, and handed the
woman a silver quarter. The latter fingered it gleefully, and then
looked deep into the girl’s dark eyes.

“You are anxious about something.” What news that is to any mortal!
“But do not worry. Shebad will watch the ball, and when a danger comes
she will let you know in time. The other girl–your best friend–she
has short, thick hair” (this was Cecilia). “Why does _she_ not come?”

“We are not allowed to visit your place,” replied Jean. “We would be
expelled from school.”

“Bah!” sneered the woman. “That’s all because the white-haired woman
wants all your money. She does not want an honest truth-seeker to live.
For years she has threatened her girls. But they come, for they know
Shebad tells the truth.”

“I must go,” exclaimed Jean, realizing that the time was not waiting
for fortunes. “I thank you, and will remember your kindness.”

“You are a good girl–one who will be famous some day,” and, with these
flattering words, the fortune teller bowed as Jean hurried off.

“So my enemy was Tavia,” thought Jean. “Well, I have always known that
Tavia spilled that glass of water down my neck purposely. I’ll show
her, however, that I’m no coward, and won’t be interfered with by a
giggling country girl.”

So deep in thought was Jean that she did not notice, in the thicket
that lined the path, a villainous looking man. As she reached him he
stepped out in front of her.

“Oh!” she screamed. “What do you want?”

“Your purse,” he replied calmly, placing a dirty hand on her arm.

“My purse? There is nothing in it! I have no money!”

“Gave it all to the old woman?” he sneered. “Well, I’ll be satisfied
with the purse, and the money order you have in that letter. I need it
all.”

“You cannot have it,” cried the girl. “Let me go or—-”

“Take it easy,” he said in that mocking way. “_I_ might tell your
fortune too. You–you won’t _always_ get checks from–the investment
company!”

At this Jean shrank back. Did every one know about that? As he
tightened his hold on her she pulled the purse from her belt, and held
it out to him.

“Here, take it,” she said. “It is solid gold, and worth a lot of money.”

“Then that check?” he demanded.




“What check?”

“The one you took out of the yellow envelope. Can’t let that go. It’s
too handy,” and he attempted to snatch the letter from her free hand.

With a scream the girl flung the letter into the roadway, and, as she
did so, the man, still sneering, allowed her to go free.

Almost too frightened to move, Jean forced herself to run, but when
she reached the hill–Glenwood hill, she could go no farther. Feeling
a sudden faintness, she managed to reach a spot where a roadside bench
was constructed. Here she threw herself down, moaning and sobbing.

“Oh, my letter,” she cried, “he has all–my letter!”

How long she lay there seemed of no importance to one so weak. At that
moment she did not care whether she lived or died. She hated Glenwood!
She hated the girls! She hated everything as she sobbed hysterically.

Jake came out to gather up some leaves. He saw the girl lying there.
At first he thought it was only some prank, but, as he looked into her
face, he knew something was wrong.

“What is it, miss?” he asked kindly.

“I have been robbed–robbed of my purse, of my check, of my letter!”
she moaned.

“And who did it?” inquired the man in astonishment.

“A ruffian in the woods. Oh, this horrible place!” and again she burst
into tears.

“’Taint horrible at all,” objected Jake. “The young ladies have been
going that path for years, and have never even been spoken to. Could
it be any one who knew–you had money?”

“How would any one know?” Jean asked, and now she sat up. “Can’t you go
and catch him? He’s in a thicket by the elm. Oh, I shall die!”

“Just you come right up to the hall with me, miss, and they’ll attend
to you. Then, I look after the fellow. No tramps around here. Never saw
one yet, but never mind. Come,” and he got her on her feet.

Staggering and leaning on Jake’s arm she managed to reach the school–a
very much frightened girl.

Jake had his suspicions as to who her assailant might be, but he was
too cautious to make them known just yet.