THE STORY OF RAVELINGS

“This was how it was,” began Tavia, when, as she said, she and Dorothy
were behind closed doors that were locked. “I heard a little lady with
glasses on a stick, ask the postman if he had ever heard of a dog. I
knew at once it was our dog, because she said she had come all the way
from some place, because she fancied her pet had been lost out of her
car, in a place on the road near here somewhere. Then I knew the whole
story, and I waited until I got her outside. I told her I _might_ be
able to find the pup, but the person who had him loved him dearly.
Then she fell on my neck, and it was all over. Of course I had to take
Ned in on the kidnapping part, to help decide where the money would be
left, and where and how the lady would get her Cyrus back. That’s how
Ned happened. It all has gone off so splendidly, I feel quite qualified
to go into the dog-snatching business,” and Tavia helped herself to one
of Dorothy’s wafers.

“But Jake will surely find it out,” Dorothy insisted, “besides, it
seems a shame to have him posting notices all over, when—-”

“The best thing that ever happened to Jake,” interrupted Tavia. “I have
heard it is the first time in ten years that he tried to write his
name.”

“Tavia, you know poor Jake has always been kind to us, and I feel this
is a shame.”

“Then I’ll write him an anonymous letter, and tell him his dog has gone
home, and is much obliged for his attention, etc,” Tavia went on.

“You should have done it openly–told the lady where her dog was, and
let her come and claim him—-”

“And lose the five? Dorothy, you have no more business tact than a
kitten. Now do let us change the subject. Be assured if I am hauled up
for dog-kidnapping I’ll get out of it as gracefully as I got into it.
Will you help me select Jake’s pipe? He’s quite particular I know, for
he left his on the fence one night, and I heard–of course I cannot be
sure of it–but I just _heard_, that he put a cross of red paint on the
fence, to mark the spot where he found it.”

A knock at the door interrupted them. Dorothy opened the portal and
faced one of the maids.

“Miss Dale,” she said timidly, “Jake’s outside, and wants to speak with
you. He would not ask at the office, but got me to come in for him.”

“All right, Ellen, and thank you,” Dorothy said. “I’ll be out directly.”

“He’s on the west porch,” went on the maid. “Jake’s not himself since
he lost that dog,” and with that remark echoing she went down the red
carpeted halls.

“Now, Tavia,” demanded Dorothy, “I know it’s about the dog, and I feel
I should tell him the truth.”

“You dare!” snapped Tavia. “Doro, let me tell him the truth,” she
added, in a pleasanter tone.

“Oh, will you? Then do come along with me! You can wait off a little
way, and I’ll let you know if you can help any. Really, of all our
difficulties, I feel worse about this. It is so hard to deceive a good,
honest man,” and Dorothy went out after the maid.

“Thanks,” said Tavia following. “I suppose it’s fun to fool foolish
girls. Now let me show you the difference. I choose the good, honest
men.”

It was plain that the girls would not agree. Tavia stopped in the
wisteria corner, and Dorothy went on to the man standing near the steps.

“What is it, Jake?” she asked kindly.

He lifted his cap, and ran his fingers through his hair.

“I don’t know as I should trouble you, miss,” he said hesitatingly,
“but I do feel that them girls know about my dog, and I’ve come to ask
you if you–if you couldn’t get them to tell.”

This was a difficult situation for Dorothy. Why did those girls do the
absurd thing?

“Jacob,” she began seriously, “if you knew that the real owner of the
dog had him, would you be satisfied?”

He did not answer. His long brown fingers went over the balcony rail
nervously.

“If I saw the owner have him, I would,” he said with a choke. “But
there’s owners, and–thieves.”

“I am quite sure he was not stolen,” Dorothy ventured. “And I do feel
that he is with his real owner. Here comes one of the teachers. If you
like I’ll run over to the stable to-morrow morning, and see what I can
find out in the mean time.”

With a bow of his head he went off, knowing that the teacher
approaching would criticize his presence there.

Tavia was laughing when Dorothy joined her. “Well, he didn’t eat you
did he, dear?” she asked. “I rather thought he enjoyed talking to you”;
this with a teasing toss of her head.

“Now Tavia, Jake has simply got to know that story. I cannot see how we
are to go about it, and save the–honor of–our clan, but we have got
to think it up. We have got until to-morrow morning, and you and Ned
must help. Personally I am ashamed of the whole proceedings.”

Dorothy went inside without waiting for her companion. She was in no
mood for laughing over the matter, and it seemed impossible to get
Tavia to realize how serious it had turned out to be. If Jacob went to
Mrs. Pangborn with the story, after all the other annoyances that had
occurred, in so short a time of the school term, Dorothy feared that
even that mild and sweet-tempered lady might find the girls from Dalton
too troublesome.

Tavia hurried to look for Edna. She found her with Molly Richards and
Nita Brant, trying to solve the problem of making a slipper bag out of
a raffia hat.




“See here, Ned,” began Tavia, “I have got to speak to you alone at
once.”

“The sheriff this time?” asked Molly, laughing, and pricking her finger
with the long needle she was trying to use.

“Worse, I’m afraid it will be the undertaker, if we are not
miraculously careful and clever. Come along, Ned,” dragging her from
her chair, “you are in on this autopsy.”

But the clever plans hoped for did not develop. All Edna did was to
blame Tavia for getting into the scrape, and Tavia’s arguments ran
along the same line. After study hour Dorothy called the girls to her
room.

“Well,” she said, “what are you going to tell Jake? Don’t you think it
will be best to tell it all, and have it over? If you don’t you will be
in constant dread of it popping out, and spoiling something better than
can be hurt just now.”

“Well, we have been in so much trouble,” sighed Ned, “it does not seem
that another stroke would be much worse. All I care about is that we
took the money.”

“Why not hand that over to Jake?” suggested the wise little Dorothy,
who was really assuming more sense than she felt she rightfully knew
how to handle. The other girls were so devoid of anything like sense
that she appeared almost like the proverbial Minerva, and her aviary,
besides Tavia and Edna.

“Oh, I never could stand Jake’s scorn on that,” declared Tavia. “It
would be worse than owning up to dog-snatching.”

“Did you find out where the lady lives? She who claimed the dog?”
Dorothy questioned.

“Nope,” said Tavia, “I was so scared when I took the five dollars that
I almost ran. Ned stood just twenty feet away. She feared the usual
bomb.”

“Then all we can do is to go to bed early, and think it over,” decided
Dorothy. “Sometimes an inspiration comes in the dark you know.”

“Yes, that’s how I got the inspiration to get Ravelings out through a
hole in the fence back of the stables,” said Tavia. “And I think the
ghost that got me into the trouble can do no less than help me out.
Besides I’m that tired,” and she yawned. “I feel if I do not soon get
sleep I shall turn somnambulist.”

“And that’s how you are going to think it out,” finished Dorothy.
“Well, I am going to see Jake early in the morning. See that you are
ready to go with me.”

“I’ll do all I can,” volunteered Edna. “But I never imagined it would
be as bad as this. Mercy, dog-snatching!” and she went off with the
words sissing on her lips.

“Say, Doro,” said Tavia between yawns, “I got your picture back to-day.”

“You did!”

“Yep, it came by mail, and was in the envelope of the _Gleaner_. I’ve
got that to clear up, and I like it better than Jake’s little fuzzy
dog.”