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CHAPTER V SCHOOL AT LAST
“We just should have left her there,” growled Edna. “I can’t understand why any girl would prefer staying up all night in a stuffy car, to getting this grand ride, and a night’s sleep in bed to boot. Dorothy is too—conscientious.”

“That’s just what I say,” chimed in Tavia, who was next to Edna in the rear of the big three-seated closed touring car, that flaunted the Glenwood flag. “And that she would deliberately refuse to come until the conductor read the list; like a funeral!”

“I was so sorry Mrs. Armstrong couldn’t come with us,” continued Edna. “But her son had the little runabout for her, of course.”

“I should not have minded so much if the son could have come,” teased Tavia. “This is a lovely ride, but fancy talking to Jacob! He’s been the Glenwood runner ever since cars came in, and he thinks he just knows all there is about machines.”

33 “Glad he does, for it’s some dark,” reflected Molly. “I suppose that Jean girl took the outside seat, thinking she could make Jake talk.”

“Or that she would avoid talking to us,” Edna moved her injured arm carefully. “Well, I can see that Nita and Lena, and some of the others are talking to Jean. We’ll have some trouble keeping our club up even. But Tavia, what is the matter with Dorothy? She is not a bit like herself.”

“No, she isn’t. But I think her father is not well, and he is getting old—prematurely old, for his hair is white as snow. You see, it must worry Dorothy to leave him and the two boys alone. Seems to me that veterans always get old—young,” said Tavia evasively.

“Do you really think that is all that is the matter with her?” went on Edna. “It seems to me that it is something more serious.”

“Well, maybe it is,” replied Tavia. “But I’m sure I hope not. Dear Doro does so much for every one else that it would be almost a shame to have her have troubles.”

“It surely would,” came from the other. “Do you suppose she would mind if I asked her?” and Edna looked back to where Dorothy was talking to Cologne. “Or perhaps you had better do it, Tavia. You know her so much better than the34 rest of us, and she won’t mind it—coming from you.”

“That’s right!” cried Tavia with a little laugh. “Blame it all on me! No one minds what I do. I’m the goat, of course. If there’s something unpleasant to be done, let Tavia do it.”

“Oh, I didn’t mean it that way at all!” exclaimed Edna. “You took me up so short——”

“Better be short than long!” went on Tavia, laughing. They could talk rather louder now, as the machine, chugging along, made so much noise that there was no danger of Dorothy hearing.

“No, but seriously,” proceeded Edna. “I do think Doro has some secret trouble. She isn’t at all like her jolly self, and though she has been just as nice as she could be in this trouble, still——”

“Still waters run deep!” interrupted Tavia. “I’m sure I can’t say what it is.”

“Then why don’t you ask?”

“Simply because if Dorothy wanted me to know she’d tell me.”

“She might not. She might be too sensitive. It would be just like her to hold back and not want to tell anyone. Oh, Tavia, I’m almost going to ask her myself if you won’t.”

“Well, I won’t, that’s all there is to it. Let’s start a song. I’m getting dry and lonesome.”

“Oh, Tavia, there’s no use trying to do anything35 with you,” sighed her companion. “Why can’t you be serious for once?”

“I just can’t—that’s all. It isn’t in me. I’m a hopeless case, I’m afraid. But don’t worry so much. Let Doro alone and if she wants help she’ll ask for it. Then we’ll all pitch in, and do all we can for her.”

“Indeed yes,” agreed Edna heartily. “Dear Doro does so much for others that it would be a pity if we could not aid her in some way. Oh dear!”

“What is it now?” asked Tavia, glancing out into the gathering darkness. “Something hurt you? Is it the arm?”

“Yes, a little. I wish Jake wouldn’t drive so fast. It makes me nervous. I’m all unstrung, anyhow, I guess, over what has happened. He seems quite reckless, I think.”

“Nonsense,” retorted Tavia. “This is great, I say! I like to go fast. The faster the better.”

“You always did,” commented Edna, “but I think——”

She did not finish the sentence, for the auto gave a sudden jolt, and came to a quick stop, while Jake, the driver, uttered an exclamation of annoyance.

“What is it?” called out Dorothy. “Has anything happened?”

36 “Something surely has,” voiced Tavia. “This trip is a hoodoo from the start.”

There were a few half-suppressed screams, many alarmed inquiries, and any numbers of “Ohs!”

“What is it, Jake?” asked Dorothy again.

“Tire’s gone back on me,” replied the driver with characteristic brevity. “I was afraid it would play out, and I wanted to stop and put on a new one, but Mrs. Pangborn told me to hurry, and I did. Now I’ve got to go slow. Hum! No fun, either, putting on one of these tires.”

“More haste the less speed,” commented Tavia. “Pile out, girls, and we’ll walk in the woods while Jake puts a new rubber shoe on this duck of an auto. It can’t go out without rubbers you know, or it might catch cold in its gasolene tank!”

“What talk!” cried Molly Richards, with pretended horror to Dorothy.

“Yes, I’m afraid she’ll never get over it,” agreed our heroine. “Still, it’s like most of what Tavia does—harmless, for she really has a kind heart.”

“Which is more than a coronet or even a violin,” commented Molly with a laugh. “But she is getting out.”

“Come on!” cried Tavia again. “No use sitting still and waiting for Jake. Besides, we’ll37 make the machine lighter if we get out; won’t we Jake?”

“Oh, well, I’ve got to jack the wheel up anyhow,” spoke the driver, “and one or more young ladies like you, Miss Travers, won’t make much difference. Stay in if you like.”

“Thank you! Glad to know I’m light!” cried the irrepressible Tavia. “Hope it wasn’t my head you referred to.”

“No—er—not exactly—that is—Oh, well, get out if you like, miss,” said the puzzled Jake, who did not exactly understand Tavia’s chattering.

“I’m going to,” she retorted, “come on, girls.”

“In those dark woods, with horrid, creepy, crawling things!” cried Edna. “Never. I can almost see a snake now! Oh!”

“Silly!” snapped Tavia, as she made her way out of the car. She stood watching Jake make his preparations for replacing the damaged tire, and even offered to help him work the lifting jack.

“I wonder why she likes to do that?” asked Nita of Dorothy.

“I don’t know, I’m sure,” was the answer, while Tavia actually did work the handle of the implement that raised the auto wheel clear from the ground.

“I guess it’s because ‘Jake’ is a boy’s name, and Tavia is so fond of the boys—in a nice way,38 of course,” Nita made haste to add. “You know what I mean, Doro.”

“Yes, of course,” laughed Dorothy. “You needn’t have explained. Tavia is such a—problem.”

“I fancy we all are—in different ways,” came the remark. “I know my people say I am. But Tavia!”

“There is only one!” laughed Dorothy softly.

“And a good thing there are no more,” spoke Nita, as she looked closely at her chum, wondering, as others had done that day, what was troubling Dorothy.

For that something was troubling our heroine was evident. It plainly showed on her face, though she tried to hide it and be her usually jolly self—jolly, however, in a way different from Tavia.

“Want me to hold the jack?” came from Tavia, in business-like tones, as she watched Jake deftly go about the work.

“No, thank you, miss. It’s a self-regulating one,” he replied. “It’ll hold itself. But you might hold one of the oil lanterns so I can see to unscrew these lugs.”

“I knew there was something queer about this auto,” came from Tavia with a laugh. “It’s been putting on ‘lugs,’ as the boys say. It got too gay, and had a puncture. Isn’t that it, Jake?”

39 “Yes, miss, I guess so, but if you wouldn’t mind, please, holding that light a little more over this way, I could see better.”

“That’s the time Tavia got a ‘call-down,’ to use some of her own slang,” commented Molly. “But, Doro, what are ‘lugs,’ pray tell?”

“I guess Tavia used it meaning ‘airs,’ or something like that,” was the reply. “Will you be much longer, Jake?”

“No, I’ll soon have it on,” the man said, and he was as good as his word. Then Tavia scrambled up to her seat, after insisting on helping Jake to put away his tools, and the car started off again, amid heart-felt murmurs of thanks from the rather tired young ladies.

The machine was gliding over the hills through the moonlight, and soon the towers of Glenwood would be seen. The “Light House,” the girls always called the big light in the tower that gleamed until the village bell struck midnight.

Cologne was in the rear seat with Dorothy. Molly Richards made the trio, while next came Nita, Lena, and a little frightened girl, all the way from Georgia. It was her first term, and all the escapades did not help to make her impression of school life in the North any the less mystifying.

“What’s up now?” asked Molly, as the big machine came to another sudden stop.

40 “Jake sees something,” replied Dorothy. “He has the queerest habit of seeing things that no one else can see.”

“Yes, there he is getting out. A chicken likely,” put in Nita.

For a few moments the girls waited rather anxiously. Then the chauffeur came back to the car.

“What is it?” called a chorus.

“Can’t just say yet,” answered Jacob, “but I think it’s one of them velvet poodles that someone has dropped out of a car.”

“Oh, do let me have it,” begged Jean, who, being with Jake naturally felt the best right to his find.

“I’ve got to look him over, and see as he isn’t hurt,” replied the driver. “A little fluff of a thing like this doesn’t lie in the road, when he’s got the use of his legs.”

“Let us see him, Jake,” implored Tavia. “You know I always take good care of the Glen dogs—when there are any.”

“So you do—so you do. Well, here it is, as I must be getting on. But be careful he doesn’t snap. Can’t tell about toy dogs. They’re not hounds, you know,” and he handed first to Dorothy and she in turn handed back to Tavia, the little, silken animal that Jake had picked up on the lonely road.

Jean was piqued. She intended to conquer even41 Jake, and she really did like a white toy dog. First she had been obliged to go to Glenwood in the motor, when she had been all settled for the night, and wanted to wait for the morning train. Next, she sat outside with the driver and he refused her simplest request.

“It’s all because of that Dale girl,” she muttered to herself, while she smiled at Jake. “Won’t you let me drive the car a little way, please?” she asked. “I am used to motors, and I love to drive on these hard clean roads.”

Jake looked at her keenly. “I’ve no doubt but you can drive,” he replied, “but you see I’m responsible to Mrs. Pangborn, and it would be a queer story for me to tell, if anything happened, that I had let a school-girl run the big car at this hour of the night.”

Of course the front windows being down, and Jake speaking with unmistakable distinctness, everyone in the car heard the reply to Jean.

Tavia was too busy with the poor little white dog to notice. She had made a bed for him, and indeed the little thing unmistakably needed rest. He sighed and panted, then he licked the girl’s hands.

“Poor, little thing,” said Edna, “do you suppose some chauffeur dropped him, and never missed him?”

“They go so fast, over country roads at42 night that there is no telling what happens,” replied Tavia. “But he’s mine, or Doro’s. She has a dog so much like him at home that he may help to cheer her.”

“But won’t Jake want him?” whispered Edna.

“Jake would eat out of Doro’s hands,” answered Tavia in low tones. “Don’t you remember, last Winter, how she saved his children from that fire in the auto house? How she went up the ladder——”

“Oh, of course, but we all helped,” objected Edna.

“We helped when Dorothy showed us how. Now look here Edna. I don’t want you to think that I believe Dorothy Dale to be perfect, but the fact is—I have my first flaw to discover.”

“Hurrah! Hurray! Horroo!” Edna said quietly. “Tavia, you have, after all, something tangible. It’s love!”

“If you wake my dog it will not be love for you,” threatened the other.

“Say, look at Jean! I think she’s asleep on Jake’s shoulder. Won’t that be a leader for our—hazing!”

“There’s the lights!” called a quartette, for indeed the tower light of Glenwood shone brightly at the next turn.

Suddenly all the balcony lights were flashed on!

43 Then such cheers! Jake clung to the wheel as if the car might shy at the noise.
“Glenwood! Glenwood! Rah! Rah! Rah!
Back again, back again, Margery Daw!
Left the boys behind us! Hah! Hah! Hah!”

It was a school cry.

“Careful, careful!” cautioned Jake. But Mrs. Pangborn was there to welcome one and all.
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