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CHAPTER XVIII LETTERS
What could Jean Faval have to do with that investment company?

Dorothy wondered, bewildered at the sudden discovery. Perhaps this was why Jean showed such hatred for her. Perhaps—but Major Dale could never do anything to defraud one—he could have nothing to do with the possibility of a Faval’s loss, if the family did lose.

Tavia bounded around the room as if in high glee. “Now Doro, we’ve got it,” she declared. “Jean knows about the company, and, my word for it if there is anything wrong it’s among her folks, not with your father. Makes me feel more positive than ever that it will come right for the Major, for they have got to come to light. I am just waiting for Jean to be lighted up here. Wait!” and Tavia gave Dorothy a hug, “wait until her uncle stops sending money. Then we will see where the haughty Jean will be!”

But Dorothy was stunned. “She knows my position,”137 she said dolefully. “Perhaps she has already begun to shun me as one too poor to be in her set.”

“Doro!” Tavia was determined to turn the matter into hope instead of anxiety. “You know perfectly well that she never had a set. Also you know that she—couldn’t even use the single letter ‘D’ that belongs to a Dale.”

Dorothy smiled. “You are improving, Tavia. By essay day you will be able to do something surprising. But I cannot sit moping. There’s study to do.”

Turning to her little table, Dorothy got out her books and note book. Her head was not very clear for her work, but it would work when she wanted it to, and she set about her task willingly. Not so with Tavia. Anything but to do a thing on time. Always that just one minute more, for Tavia.

“I’ll run out for a few minutes,” she said. “I am afraid Ned has gone into joyful hysterics over the doggie.”

Closing the door, Tavia noticed a bit of paper in plain sight on the floor outside. She never could resist reading another person’s letters. Picking it up she saw it was a torn envelope addressed to Jean Faval.

“Whew!” she breathed. “More news!” and she crushed it in her hand.

138 In a safe spot she looked at the contents of the torn envelope. What she read caused her to gasp.

There was no beginning, neither was there an end, for the superscription as well as the signature had been torn off.

But the few sentences were legible!

She read.

“Everything’s gone, but we’ll have Dale——” Then there was a break, and another bit could be read.

“In court within a few days!”

“In court! Major Dale!” gasped Tavia. “It’s an outrage!” and she breathed hard, as if to control the emotion she felt.

“I won’t tell Dorothy,” she concluded. “Talk about school rivals! Ugh! That Jean!”

Dorothy had helped Tavia through many a hard problem in her life. In fact whatever was reasonable in the girl had been developed through Dorothy’s efforts, or Tavia’s love for Dorothy, since it is said nothing new can be put into a character, but the good or bad there simply developed. Now it was Tavia’s turn. She knew exactly what Dorothy would do had she been in the other’s place.

“I’ll look this up,” decided Tavia, in true detective fashion. “That Jean might be writing letters to herself.”

139 Then it occurred to her that Dorothy’s mail might bring the same news. Could she intercept that?

Quick as a flash she thought of the evening post. She could get Ned to go with her, and reach the office before the carrier started out. Ned would have to go, or Tavia would tell all about the dog. Tavia didn’t care, but Ned did.

Without any explanation, she physically dragged the other girl from the porch and started her along the path.

“Come on! You have got to go. Why? Because you must!” was the way she accomplished the feat, all but the dragging. That she did with a strong and determined arm.

“What on earth——” began Edna, as soon as they were out of hearing distance of the others.

“No, it isn’t the dog. He’s gone, and good riddance! But it’s Jean. She is not gone, and bad riddance,” said Tavia. “I’m not afraid to go to the post-office now for I know the woman won’t be there with the sheriff. All the same, Ned,” and she lowered her voice appropriately, “I do think there is some mystery in that miniature hound. Dorothy never jokes that far.”

“No,” said Ned, in her economical way.

“I’d love to tell you, Neddie,” said Tavia excitedly, “but you are such a dunce.”

“Thanks,” said Ned. “I’m a dunce, surely,140 for getting into your scrapes. Now I’m going back. I know it’s another hold-up, or kidnapping, and I refuse——”

“Oh, Ned dear, yo............
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