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HOME > Short Stories > Dorothy Dale's School Rivals > CHAPTER VI CHOCOLATES AND SANDWICHES
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It was past nine o’clock when the Glenwood girls reached the hall, and was, therefore, too late to go in for any of the pranks usually indulged in on the first night. To be sure there was some fun. Cologne managed to lay hold of some small boxes, that looked surprisingly like confections. They were placed on a table, waiting to be claimed, and it seemed no harm for her to claim them. Dorothy refused to take part in the “raid,” but Tavia and Edna did not have to be coaxed.

“They’re Jean’s, I’ll wager,” whispered Tavia, “but the wrapper is off, and we can easily prove an alibi. Let’s see where they’re from, any way.”

“Oh, there’s a note,” declared Cologne. “I’m going to put them back. I’ll have nothing to do with robbing the mails.”

A piece of paper fell from between two of the boxes, as Tavia cut a pink cord that held them together.

“All the more fun,” said Tavia hiding the ill-gotten45 goods in the fold of her blouse as a teacher passed, and said good-night.

“Better get it hid in some place,” suggested Edna. “If Dick comes along she’ll smell the stuff.”

“Put it back! Put it back,” begged Cologne. “Somehow I feel we had better not try to have fun on Jean’s account. She might make trouble for us.”

“Who cares about her trouble,” snapped Tavia. “Besides, we don’t know to whom the stuff belongs. There, I’ll put the note on the table, I guess that’ll be sweet enough for her.”

Scarcely had this speech been finished when a gliding figure, in a gorgeous red kimono, turned into the corridor where the three girls stood. It was Jean Faval. She came directly up to the table, smiled pleasantly, said something about being tired, picked up the note and turned away, with a most surprisingly pleasant and affable good night.

The girls were speechless!

“What do you think of that?” exclaimed Edna, as soon as she could command her tongue.

Tavia carefully took the boxes out of her blouse, and very gingerly set them down again on the table.

“There,” she said, “Miss Jean Faval there’s your candy! I believe it’s poisoned!”

46 “Why Tavia——”

“Yes, I wouldn’t be a bit surprised if she had fixed up those boxes herself, with the idea that we, or my little dog might bite. But we won’t. Let them stay there,” and the three sauntered off to room nineteen—the one occupied by Dorothy and Tavia.

They found Dorothy ready for bed, but Tavia insisted on telling the story of the “poisoned candy.”

“What utter nonsense!” declared Dorothy. “Perhaps it did not belong to Jean Faval at all.”

“But the note,” insisted Cologne. “That seemed to belong to her, and it was in the boxes.”

“At any rate,” spoke Dorothy, “I want to go to bed, and I’ll be glad to excuse the invaders. Tavia, if you so much as drop a handkerchief, I shall report you, for I am not only tired, but have a headache.”

Edna and Cologne got up from the rug they had been sitting on. Cologne had allowed her heavy brown hair to fall to her waist, and Edna had likewise made that same preparation for retiring.

Tavia stifled a yawn. “I’m not a bit sleepy,” she declared. “And I think, after all, I’ll just take a chance at those chocolates. I’m starved for sweets.”

“Oh, Tavia! Don’t!” implored Edna. “I47 think we got off well enough to leave well enough alone.”

But Tavia was already poking her head out of the door.

“There she goes,” she whispered, “I just caught a flash of that fire-alarm kimono. Now wait till we hear her shut her door, and then for the sweets.”

Cologne made a move to grasp Tavia’s skirt but failed. Dorothy sat up and shook her head helplessly. “I may as well give up sleep until that girl knows all about those plagued chocolates,” she said with a sigh. “I can’t see why she is so interested.”

Tavia was back almost instantly.

“They’re gone!” she gasped. “They’re haunted I think—unless the Jean changed her mind and is now howling in throes of suicide. There I heard a howl. You two better not be caught in the corridors, or you may be implicated,” and with this, she, in her careless way, almost brushed the two girls out and locked the door.

But over in her own corner, under her own lamp, Tavia read a name on a slip of paper. Then she put it in her letter box, and turned out the lights.

Two more days and school would formally open. That which followed the arrival of some belated girls from the West dawned as perfect as48 a September day could blaze, and Dorothy was at her window, looking over the hills before Tavia had so much as given a first yawning signal of waking.

A soft, misty atmosphere made the world wonderful under the iridescent blades of light that fell from the sunrise.

“It seems a shame to stay indoors,” reflected Dorothy, “and it will be two hours before breakfast. I’ll just slip into a gingham, and take a walk over to the barns. Jacob will be out with the horses and dogs.”

Few of the girls were awake as she passed lightly through the halls. Maids were already busy with sweepers and brushes.

Dorothy knew many of the help, and bade them a pleasant good morning. From the broad veranda she stopped to look at the growing day.

“I think I won’t go to the stables,” she decided. “I’ll go out and get a bunch of late flowers. Mrs. Pangborn is so fond of them.”

Down the roadway she ran. The whistle of an engine attracted her attention.

“Why,” she mused, “there is the new station, and a train stopping! What an innovation for Glenwood! I must go over and see what the station looks like.”

A narrow path led through the elders and birches. Bluejays were out-doing one another49 with their screeching, while birds that could sing kept a scornful silence. Everything was so heavy with nature. Dorothy almost forgot that it was to-day she had promised to tell Tavia of her troubles!

Passing through the lane brought her out into an open roadway, newly made. A pretty little stone station, the rural and artistic kind, filled in the space beyond, and a high terrace, unfinished, showed that Glenwood station was to be carefully kept.

The train that Dorothy had heard whistling was just coming in. The new station was not yet opened, but a short distance from it was an improvised lunch room, a sort of shack made of unpainted boards, and thin awnings. The train stopped, and the conductor hurried to the little lunch room. Dorothy saw that a girl, alone, stood behind the queer, long, board table, and that beside her was a telegraph instrument. Seeing Dorothy she called to her.

“Could you come here for a few minutes?” she asked. “I have an important train message and no one to leave the shop to.”

“Of course,” replied Dorothy, not comprehending just what was wanted, but hurrying across the tracks to the shanty.

“You see,” began the girl, “father is sick, but we have to keep our contract with the road, or50 lose the privilege in the new station. We have to have a lunch room, and a newspaper stand and also attend to messages. This I just received. I will have to deliver it on my bicycle. I am so glad you came along. No one is apt to be out so early. If any one wants coffee could you serve it?”

Dorothy was taken by surprise. To be left in charge of a country railroad lunch counter!

“I’ll do the best I can,” she answered, noticing that the black-haired girl had a deep line across her brow. “But I’m afraid——”

“Oh, don’t be afraid of anything,” interrupted the girl, who was already mounting her wheel, and handing a bunch of keys to Dorothy. “There’s another train due soon, but I’ll try to be back. In the shed, at the rear, is our dog. He will know you all right when he sees you behind the counter, but he won’t let any one else in. Good-bye for a few minutes, and I can’t tell you how glad I am you came along. I just feel that you have saved the depot for us,” and with one strong stroke her wheel glided down the hill, and a bit of yellow paper, the train message, showed in the small pocket of her red jacket. The first train had already pulled out.

Then Dorothy was alone in the lunch house at 6:15 A. M.

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