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CHAPTER XVII DEEPENING GLOOM
After the rescue of Ravelings, Dorothy hurried back to the hall. As she was met at the door by Tavia and Edna she was too excited and exhausted to proffer any information. In fact she considered it was due the girls that they look around, and hunt up things on their own account. Why should she be their mediator? They should learn a lesson, and it might be just as well to learn it at this time.

“Where on earth have you been? Crawling through a knot hole?” asked Tavia, noting Dorothy’s disheveled appearance.

“No, I crawled under a knot hole,” she replied, going toward the door.

“But what did you tell Jake? You are not going away that way—leaving us in suspense; are you?” asked Edna.

“Oh, if you want to see the dog you can just go up to the stables,” replied Dorothy easily. “Jake is giving him his bath.”

125 “What? Dorothy Dale! You to tell such a fib!” exclaimed Tavia.

“No, I am telling no fib. I have just left Ravelings in Jake’s arms!”

The two girls were dumbfounded. Dorothy really meant what she was saying, and however could that dog have been found? Edna looked at Tavia, and Tavia glared at Edna.

“And,” gasped Tavia, “the five dollars are all spent! Do you suppose the lady with the sticked-glasses will come up to the hall? Ned, we had better flee!”

“I can’t believe it, and I’m afraid to go up to find out,” said Edna. “Dorothy, please tell us about it, or we shall die of—a new disease. We might call it rabies junior.”

“I can’t tell you anything more,” insisted Dorothy, “but I am sure Jake would be glad to tell you all about it,” this last with a meaning not to be misunderstood.

So Dorothy left them, and proceeded to get ready for her school day.

“What!” asked Edna, all but speechless.

“Which?” gasped Tavia, the one word taking all her breath.

“Could we go up, and peek through the hole in the fence?”

“We could, but it would be very unwise from my view point,” answered the other. “A better126 way would be to crawl around when Jake goes out for the train stuff. He won’t likely take Ravelings with him now. Might lose him again.”

“I don’t feel as if I could live all day, and not know,” Edna insisted. “Couldn’t we bribe someone else to go up? Dick is safe.”

“No one is safe with such a secret,” objected Tavia, “though Dick is nearest to it, she loves news, and just fancy that story getting out. Talk about a Gleaner story! This would get in the big city papers. But, though I am a good guesser, I cannot guess how the dog got back. Of course Dorothy had to do with it. I shouldn’t wonder if she went down to the post-office, laid in wait for our benefactress, and told her Jake was dying, and wanted to see the animal just once more. Something like that, you will find.”

“Well, we have got to get to business,” said Edna with a sigh. “Jean beat me in algebra yesterday, and I can’t let it happen again. By the way, I wonder where she gets all her money?”

“A rich uncle. I heard her tell of him. I don’t believe her own folks are any better off than mine, and land knows where we would have been, if my foreign grandmother did not die, and make it a point to find out where we were before doing so. I cannot never thank her enough,” and Tavia looked heavenward.

“Jean is certainly well off with small change,”127 went on Edna. “I am afraid if some one does not check her, she will turn chocolate color. She just wallows in them.”

“And doesn’t she hate Dorothy? I can’t see why, unless it is she sees herself in the mirror of Dorothy’s goodness. There! Wasn’t that lovely? And from me! I hate to see Jean toting that baby Zada around. She is so innocent she would do anything Jean might suggest—when Jean would be too cute to do it herself. She keeps fixing her up with sweets all the time, and Zada thinks she loves her.”

“And Cecilia Reynolds is another who would not cry if anything unpleasant should happen to Dorothy. Well, we have got to keep our team close, and stick together,” declared Edna, “and I do hope this dog business will not spoil us again.”

“‘Let sleeping dogs lie,’” quoted Tavia. “And, speaking of dogs, there come the Jean set now. They have been to the woods, ostensibly, but really have been down to the lunch cart. Jean never could get along till noon on a Glen breakfast.”

“Did you see her white tennis suit?” asked Edna. “Isn’t it a startler? She’s going to wear it at the match. That’s like her. I suppose she will not even have a ‘G’ on her arm. Well,128 white or black, we can beat them. Did you see how Dick played yesterday?”

“Oh, we’re not afraid of them at tennis,” replied Tavia. “They might do us at the lunch cart, but tennis? Never!”

A few hours later even the returned dog was forgotten in the depths of school work. Dorothy kept her eyes on her books more intently than was necessary, for in doing so she avoided the glances that Tavia was covertly turning on her. She was determined that the two culprits should make their own discoveries, and she was quite correct in her ideas of what Jake would say if they (the girls) happened around the stable again while he was on duty.

The morning went quickly, and at lunch hour Cologne tried to rally the Glen forces to prepare for the tennis match. There would be visitors, and as it was the first big match of the season every one was interested. Some of the new girls proved excellent players, and there was considerable rivalry in the “pick.”

The short session of afternoon study was hardly given the attention that the teachers wanted, for the girls were anxious to get out to practice.

But Dorothy did not seem inclined to take her place. Tavia, always anxious to know her friend’s troubles, asked if there had been any news from home.

129 “Yes,” replied Dorothy slowly, “and if you don’t mind walking to the post-office with me, I would like to mail a reply at once.”

“No sickness? Nothing really serious?” again questioned Tavia.

“Serious it may be, but fortunately not sickness. The girls will have such a time to-day at the practice, making arrangements (most of which will be the others made over), I thought we could get off. You know I don’t like to walk through the woods alone.”

“But the trouble?”

“Joe—has gone to work,” replied Dorothy choking.

“Perhaps he wanted to?”

“Oh, no; I know it is that trouble,” and she sighed deeply. “I have written to say that I—shall——”

“You shall not. It is much easier for a boy to go in an office, even in an emergency, than for you to leave this year,” declared Tavia. “Could I see your letter?”

“Of course,” and Dorothy took a slip of paper from her pocket. “Of course you know dad. He would not tell m............
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