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HOME > Short Stories > Dorothy Dale's School Rivals > CHAPTER XXV TEACHERS
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Mrs. Pangborn was not a woman to allow her pupils too much liberty—she felt the very responsibility of a mother, and, following Jean’s break-down, she at once started a personal investigation of the girl’s doings on the morning when she came late into the classroom.

She found out that Jean had gone to the post-office. One of the gardeners had seen her cross to where the fortune teller sat in the woods. Then, someone else remembered that she had seen her run all the way up the path. Mrs. Pangborn determined that this fortune teller should be put out of the place, as she was plainly an evil influence.

Taking the simplest and most reasonable course first, the principal of Glenwood found her way to the cabin of the alleged fortune teller.

Her dignity seemed offended, as she stepped into the ill-smelling room. Madam Shebad was not so stupid as to think that she had, in the white-haired 186 woman, a customer, but, nevertheless, she was equal to the occasion.

“I have come to complain,” began Mrs. Pangborn without preliminaries, “about your receiving my pupils here for the purpose of telling fortunes. Those young ladies are in my charge. I am responsible for them to their parents, and if you again allow them to come here I shall have to make known your business to the proper officials. I suppose you know it is against the law.”

“I never told any fortunes to your girls,” said the woman. “I told them the truth. If they would tell you the truth, they would bear me out.”

“I did not come to discuss your methods,” said the principal, “but just to say to you that I will not allow my girls to visit this place——”

“But I would like to tell you,” interrupted the woman, “that I only told those girls what I really knew. I did not tell any fortunes.”

Mrs. Pangborn stopped to realize what the woman meant. How could she know, this stranger, such things as she had told those girls, for, since the happening, bit by bit, information was coming to the principal that aroused her suspicion. She had heard, for instance, that the torn letter was mentioned to Jean Faval. Mrs. Pangborn had handled that letter when it came to Jean, in the regular mail. A maid had reported that she had seen a letter at Dorothy’s door, but, believing187 it to be left there for some one, she had not carried it off in her cleaning. That was how Tavia came to get it.

“Will you tell me who informed you of my pupils’ affairs?” Mrs. Pangborn asked.

“No, I cannot do that,” replied the woman, “but you may know that some one did tell me of them.”

Here was a new problem—some one had come to this woman, and told her what to tell the girls! Who could it be, and what could have been their motive in doing so?

“You see,” said the woman, “you have no charge against me. I did not tell any fortunes!”

As she understood that this was why the woman had argued simply to clear herself, Mrs. Pangborn left the place.

It would not be well, she decided, to make any inquiry just then, as the girls had been through so many little troubles in the short term. But she, of course, would have to have them guarded—especially Jean, Zada and Tavia. She had no fear that Dorothy would do anything dishonorable.

Entering the classroom, the greatly respected principal looked about her. She saw Dorothy busy at her work, she saw Tavia bent over her books, with one eye on them and the other roaming about.

188 The visit of the principal was always regarded as a matter of importance. Now every pupil sat up straight, and took that opportunity of resting her eyes from letters.

“I just want to say, young ladies,” began Mrs. Pangborn, “that I have been surprised at the liberty some of you have taken, from this school. I have never felt it necessary before to give out such positive orders. I do not know who may be to blame, but I will not again excuse any girl for such lax order and discipline, as might seem to her a fitting reason for her to visit a common fortune teller!

“You must all know that there is no such thing as the possibility of any human being telling of future events. If such a thing were possible do you not see what a wonderful advantage it would be in the world’s greatest happenings? I do not think I need go further into this subject, other than to say that I positively forbid any member of Glenwood Hall from going to any fortune teller. If I find that any girl has disobeyed this rule I shall be obliged to dismiss her.”

A dead silence followed these few words. Tavia’s eyes only might be seen to show a glow of satisfaction. And yet Tavia had under her mattress a letter with this Madam Shebad’s name on the corner!

And no one had yet found out where Tavia and189 Edna had been when Tavia sprained her ankle.

Dorothy’s eyes glowed nervously. Zada looked directly out of the window, and, as she bit her lips, Mrs. Pangborn wondered why she should seem so strained. Edna settled all her movements on Tavia, and if the teachers had called a fire drill, likely Edna would have asked Tavia what to do before she did anything.

Jean was still suffering from her collapse, and was not in the classroom.

It was a bea............
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