ZADA

When Tavia reached Dorothy in her room she found her chum in a state of
excitement.

“Whatever is the matter?” Tavia asked in surprise.

“Why, Zada has been in here, and you never saw such a time,” replied
Dorothy. “I cannot imagine what ails the child. She came to the door,
looked in, and finally came in. Then she burst into tears, and declared
she had done something dreadfully wrong. As if that baby could do
wrong,” and Dorothy closed her books that had been lying on her table
evidently not much used within this study hour.

“Why didn’t you ask her what was the matter?” Tavia inquired. “I know
that something has been worrying her, and she thinks so much of you she
surely would have told you.”

“She wanted to do so. Then, when I saw how much it was going to cost
her, I determined to quiet her nerves by showing her I did not believe
she had done anything wrong. She said if she did tell me she would
leave school, and I am sure I don’t want her to do that.”

“Perhaps you are right,” Tavia answered. “Here is your mail. I was at
the office and brought it up.”

Dorothy glanced over the two missives. “One is from Nellie Burke, in
Dalton, and the other is from Aunt Winnie. I did hope to hear from
father,” she said. “Aunt Winnie says all are well, and the boys send
regards to you. Strange she does not mention the financial trouble,”
Dorothy said folding up the papers.

“‘No news is good news,’” quoted Tavia. “I got a bill from the paper
store for that old crepe paper we used on ‘rumpus night’. I had almost
forgotten it.”

The crumpled piece of paper that held tidings of Dorothy’s trouble
Tavia thrust deeper into her pocket. Surely, she concluded, if
Dorothy’s own aunt, the Major’s sister, did not wish to tell her about
the investment company Tavia would not do so. At least not just then.

“Let’s go hunt up some of the girls,” Tavia suggested. “Cologne says
you have almost given her up, and Dick is so hurt about our neglect of
the Glens, that she refused my fudge this noon. That dog business–Oh,
my Dorothy Dale!” she broke in suddenly, “sit right down there, and
tell me that dog story. Jake got the reward!”

“I’m glad of it—-”

“And I only had five dollars!”

“But I warned you to do that openly, and not steal the little thing,
as you did. I think five dollars was quite a good sum for that sort of
thing.”

“But if you had only told me I might have shared the big one hundred,”
persisted Tavia.

“Tavia,” said Dorothy quite severely, “when you do things that
seriously concern people, as that did Jake, I can’t see why you expect
anything but trouble to come from it. I tell you, it gave _me_ a lot
of worry. Suppose Jean, or Cecilia, or some of the other girls, heard
about it? You know what they would do, and say.”

“Oh, yes. I would surely have _my_ picture in the _Gleaner_,” Tavia
admitted. “Well, Doro, you got Ned and me out of the scrape, and I
thank you for it. I never want to see a small, white silky dog again
as long as I live. But will you come over to room ten, and break in?
I know Cologne and Annette are conspiring. Jean has her crowd in the
music room, no less. She has an idea she can play the banjo. But it
sounds to me like one of the things you might hear in a laundry–I mean
the tink–tink–tink that the chink–chink–chink plays.”

“Well, they are determined to do something at any rate, and it occurs
to me that you might pick up your piano work a little closer. We have
to take part in the musicale as well as they.”

“No, indeed,” Tavia answered, shaking her already tossed head. “I read
the other day that more children become deaf from piano work than from
any other cause, and I’ll take no chance. Besides that, I knew a man in
Dalton who was almost stone deaf from working in a boiler factory, and
if that music room isn’t worse than a boiler factory I’d like to know
it. Well, if you won’t go, I must. I know I’m missing something now,”
and she flitted off as if there was but one thing for a girl to do, and
that was to enjoy herself.

When there was no danger of her being discovered Dorothy made her way
to Zada’s room, and listened at the door. Yes, she was still sobbing
bitterly, and with a whisper, and a slight knock, Dorothy asked to be
admitted.

There was the little one–the smallest girl in the school–packing up
her things!

“What are you doing, Zada?” asked Dorothy in surprise. “You must not
think of leaving school!”

“But I can’t stay,” she sobbed. “I am going to write a letter to Mrs.
Pangborn and–I–am going–to run away!”

“Zada! Run away!”

“Yes. I know how to get home if it is away down South. And I never
would have believed,” she rubbed her eyes, “that there could be such
treacherous school girls! If only I had known you better, first.”




It flashed before Dorothy’s mind that the Jean Faval club had perhaps
made a tool of this child. But how to remedy it now? How to convince
her that even at Glenwood all things might be made right? Had not
Dorothy studied to save Tavia from serious trouble through a number
of terms? Now Tavia was able, or ought to be able, to take care of
herself, and here was poor little Zada rubbing her eyes out!

“I’ll tell you, dear,” Dorothy began, “I have found that some girls
cannot get along away from home without keeping up trouble for other
girls. They do not mean to have things go so wrong. It’s almost a
habit–this plotting and scheming against those of the other sets. Do
be sensible, and just rest your head down there, while I hang up your
things again. You will feel entirely different in the morning.”

The small, dark head did fall back on the pillow, and Dorothy talked
cheerily as she put the things in the closet, and closed the trunk.

“Perhaps if I told you,” began Zada, starting to sob again.

“No, you are not to tell me,” insisted Dorothy. “You have worried
enough. If necessary I will ask to have you excused from class
to-morrow, so don’t think about your lessons.”

[Illustration:

“WHAT ARE YOU DOING, ZADA?” ASKED DOROTHY IN SURPRISE.
_Dorothy Dale’s School Rivals Page_ 147]

There was something so comforting about Dorothy. Perhaps a great deal
of charm came from her pretty personality, for Dorothy was not the sort
of girl to “peach,” in the usual sense of the word, and, in spite of
that, she did help so much.

“Oh, I do feel better,” admitted Zada. “I guess I was lonely. I can’t
bear to go with the other girls, and since I started in with them, I
feel I have no right to be with the Glens.”

“Indeed you have, and I am going to see that you join at the very next
meeting. The Glens are the originals–the others ‘break out’ every
year, as Tavia would say.”

The eyes that were red from tears now looked weary, and Dorothy knew
that in a little while perhaps even dreams of her trouble would not
disturb Zada. She waited until the Southern girl was ready to retire,
and then left her, wondering what could be the worry that would work
such havoc in her friend’s mind.