To tell the truth the young ladies
of the West Dormitory who attended Helen’s sub-rosa
supper looked pretty blue when the rest of the school
filed out of chapel and left them sticking, like limpets,
to their seats. Mrs. Tellingham looked just
as stern as Helen imagined she could look, when she
ended a whispered conference with Miss Picolet, and
stood before the culprits.
“Being out of bed at all hours,
and stuffing one’s self with all manner of indigestible
viands, is more than a crime against the school rules,
young ladies,” she began. “It is
a crime against common sense. Besides, I take
a pride in the fact that Briarwood Hall supplies a
sufficient and a well-served table. Fruit at
times between meals is all very well. But a
sour pickle and a piece of angel cake at eleven or
twelve o’clock at night would soon break down
the digestive faculties of a second Samson.
“However,” she added grimly,
“that will bring its own punishment. I
need not trouble myself about this phase of the matter.
But that distinct rules of the school have been broken
cannot be ignored. Each of you who were visitors
at the study of Misses Fielding and Cameron last evening
after hours will have one demerit to work off by extra
exercises in Latin and French.
She spoke so sharply that The Fox
hopped up quickly, knowing that she was especially
“It is reported to me by Miss
Picolet that you spoke to her in a most unladylike
manner. You have two demerits to work off, instead
Mary Cox ruffled up instantly.
She flounced into her seat and threw her book aside.
“Miss Cox,” repeated the
Preceptress, sharply, “I do not like your manner.
Most of these girls are younger than you, and you
are their leader. I believe you are all members
of the Up and Doing Club. Have a care.
Let your club stand for something besides infractions
of the rules, I beg. And, when you deliberately
insult the teacher who has charge of your dormitory,
you insult me.”
“I suppose I’m to be given
no opportunity of answering Miss Picolet’s report,
or accusation?” cried Mary Fox. “I
don’t call it fair ”
“Silence!” exclaimed the
Preceptress. “You may come to me after
session this afternoon. Miss Cameron may work
off a full demerit, and before the Christmas Holidays,
for being the prime mover in this orgy, I am told
about,” said Mrs. Tellingham, bitingly.
“I understand there are some extenuating circumstances
in the case of Ruth Fielding. She will have
one-half mark against her record to be worked
off, of course. And, young ladies, I hope this
will be the last time I shall see you before me for
such a matter. You are relieved for classes.”
Two unexpected things happened to
Ruth Fielding that morning. As they came out
from breakfast she came face to face with Mary Cox,
and the older girl “cut” her plainly.
She swept by Ruth with her head in the air and without
returning the latter’s nod, and although Ruth
did not care much about Mary Cox, the unkindness troubled
her. The Fox had such an influence over Helen!
The second surprising happening was
the receipt of a letter from Mercy Curtis, the lame
girl. Dr. Davison’s protege wrote:
“Mrs. Kimmons, next door, is
trundling her twin babies awfully homely
little mites up and down her long piazza
in my wheel-chair. To what base uses have the
mighty fallen! Do you know what your Uncle Jabez Dusty
Miller has done? He had waiting for
me when I got home from the sanitarium a pair of the
loveliest ebony crutches you ever saw with
silver ferrules! I use ’em when I go out
for a walk. Fancy old miserable, withered, crippled
me going out for a walk! Of course, it’s
really a hobble yet I hobble-gobble like
a rheumatic goblin; but I may do better some day.
The doctors all say so.
“And now I’m going to
surprise you, Ruth Fielding. I’m coming
to see you not for a mere ‘how-de-do-good-bye’
visit; but to stay at Briarwood Hall a while.
Dr. Cranfew (he’s the surgeon who helped me
so much) is at Lumberton and he says I can try school
again. Public school he doesn’t approve
of for me. I don’t know how they are going
to ‘rig’ it for me, Ruth such
wonderful things happen to me all the time!
But Dr. Davison says I am coming, and when he says
a thing is going to happen, it happens. Like
my going to the Red Mill that time.
“And isn’t old Dusty Miller
good to me, too? He stops to see me every Saturday
when he is in town. They miss you a lot at the
Red Mill, Ruthie. I have been out once behind
Dr. Davison’s red and white mare, to see Aunt
Alviry. We just gabbled about you all the time.
Your pullets are laying. Tell Helen ‘Hullo!’
for me. I expect to see you soon, though that
is, if arrangements can be made to billet me with
somebody who doesn’t mind having a Goody Two-Sticks
“Now, good-bye, Ruthie,
“From your fidgetty friend,
This letter delighted Ruth, and she
went in search of Helen to show it to her. The
chums were due at their first recitation in a very
few moments. Ruth found Helen talking with Mary
Cox and Belle Tingley on the steps of the building
in a recitation room in which Ruth and Helen were
soon to recite. Ruth heard Belle say, earnestly:
“I believe it, too. Miss
Picolet wasn’t downstairs in her room at all.
When she caught me she came from upstairs, and that’s
how I didn’t give any warning. I didn’t
expect her from that direction and I was looking downstairs.”
“She had been warned, all right,”
said the Fox, sharply. “It’s plain
enough who played the traitor. Nasty little cat!”
“I believe you,” said
Belle. “And she only got half a demerit.
They favored her, of course.”
“But why any demerit at all,
if she was a spy for Miss Picolet?” demanded
Helen, in a worried tone.
“Pshaw! that’s all for a blind,”
declared the Fox.
And then all three saw Ruth at the
bottom of the steps. The Fox and Belle Tingley
turned away without giving Ruth a second glance, and
went into the building. But Helen smiled frankly
on Ruth as her chum approached, and slipped an arm
within her own:
“What have you got there, Ruthie?”
she demanded, seeing the open letter.
“It’s from Mercy.
Read it when you get a chance,” Ruth whispered,
thrusting it into her chum’s hand as they went
in. “It’s just as you said Dr.
Davison is going to bring it about. Mercy Curtis
is coming to Briarwood, too.”
Helen said nothing at all about The
Fox and her room-mate. But Ruth saw that the
Upedes especially those who had been caught
in the French teacher’s raid on Duet Number
2 whispered a good deal among themselves,
and when they looked at Ruth they did not look kindly.
After recitation, and before dinner,
several of the girls deliberately cut her as Mary
Cox had. But Helen said nothing, nor would Ruth
speak first. She saw plainly that The Fox had
started the cabal against her. It made Ruth feel
very unhappy, but there was nothing she could do to