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CHAPTER IX THE INTERVIEW
Mrs. Pangborn was sitting in her pretty little office when Dorothy entered. On her desk were some late, purple daisies, or iron-weed, and their purple seemed to make the white-haired lady look regal, Dorothy thought.

After exchanging greetings the principal began with her rather painful discourse.

“I have sent for you, Dorothy,” she said, “on account of some rather surprising stories that have come to my ears. I can scarcely credit them. At the same time I must make sure that these rumors are groundless. Did you—take charge of that lunch counter at the new depot, this morning?”

“Why, yes; I did,” replied Dorothy, coloring to the eyes, “but I only did so to help the young girl who has charge of it. She had to leave, and called to me to go over there for a few minutes.”

“It seems incredible that a Glenwood young lady should do such a thing,” Mrs. Pangborn70 said. “But I have no doubt your motive was innocent enough. Then about the young gentleman with whom you were seen walking?”

Dorothy felt like crying. Who could have tattled these stories? And what a construction to put on her actions!

“He merely walked this way because——”

She hesitated. What was his reason? And how would it sound?

“Was he a personal acquaintance?” asked the inquisitor.

Again Dorothy hesitated. “I know his mother,” she said finally, “and he has been very kind. It was he who sent you the message from the train when we could not get here.”

“Oh, the young man who ’phoned from the station for our car? He certainly was kind, and I can’t see——”

It was then Mrs. Pangborn’s time to hesitate. She had no idea of letting Dorothy know that some one had notified her that Dorothy Dale was out walking with a young man whom she had met on the train—a perfect stranger!

“It is a pity,” the principal went on, “that these first days must be marred with such tattle, but you can readily understand that I am responsible, not only for the reputation of my pupils, but also for my school. I must warn you against doing71 rash things. One’s motives will not always excuse public criticism.”

Dorothy was too choked to make an answer. She turned to the door.

“One word more,” spoke Mrs. Pangborn, “you know we have a number of new girls this term, and I would ask you and your friends, as you are so well acquainted with Glenwood, to do all you can to make them happy and contented. I don’t like seeing the strangers gathered in little knots alone. It is not friendly, to say the least.”

“But, Mrs. Pangborn, those girls seem to want to keep by themselves. They have refused every effort we have made to be friendly,” Dorothy answered.

“They may be shy. That little one from the South is the daughter of a friend of mine. Her name is Zada Hillis, and I am most anxious that she shall not get homesick,” insisted Mrs. Pangborn.

“I will do all I can to make her contented,” Dorothy replied, “but she seems on such friendly............
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