The Project Gutenberg eBook of The Girl Scouts' Vacation Adventures

This ebook is for the use of anyone anywhere in the United States and most other parts of the world at no cost and with almost no restrictions whatsoever. You may copy it, give it away or re-use it under the terms of the Project Gutenberg License included with this ebook or online at If you are not located in the United States, you will have to check the laws of the country where you are located before using this eBook.

Title: The Girl Scouts' Vacation Adventures

Author: Edith Lavell

Release date: May 12, 2020 [eBook #62105]

Language: English

Credits: Produced by Roger Frank and the Online Distributed
Proofreading Team at (This file was
produced from images generously made available by The
Internet Archive.)



Hanging “The Pansy Tea-Room” sign just outside the hedge.

Author of
The Girl Scouts at Miss Allen’s School,”
The Girl Scouts at Camp,”
The Girl Scouts’ Good Turn,”
The Girl Scouts’ Canoe Trip,”
The Girl Scouts’ Rivals,”
The Girl Scouts’ Motor Trip.”
Publishers        New York
The Girl Scouts at Miss Allen’s School
The Girl Scouts at Camp
The Girl Scouts’ Good Turn
The Girl Scouts’ Canoe Trip
The Girl Scouts’ Rivals
The Girl Scouts on the Ranch
The Girl Scouts’ Vacation Adventures
The Girl Scouts’ Motor Trip
Copyright, 1924
Made in “U. S. A.”


It was spring vacation for the girls of Miss Allen’s school. Easter was late this year, so the holiday had been long in coming; but now it was here—ten delicious, lazy days in the very heart of April—and Daisy Gravers meant to enjoy them.

Until a week ago she had not looked forward to this time with any particular longing, for her mother would be visiting her married daughter Olive, and the house would probably seem lonely. But then came that wonderful invitation from Florence Evans, to spend a whole week with her in New York, to see Marjorie Wilkinson and Lily Andrews who would be home from college, and to attend some of the parties the latter was planning. Daisy’s newer friends had never taken the place of the old ones—the seven girls of that senior patrol from Pansy Troop who had been together the previous summer on the ranch in Wyoming. Any vacation, no matter how brief, which afforded an opportunity for her to see them promised to be most delightful.

So Daisy sat in the comfortable living-room of the Evans home and waited contentedly for her hostess to join her again. The day was beautiful; the prospect of a walk was alluring. It did not matter in the least to Daisy that her spring suit was not this year’s, and that her hat was inexpensive; in her joyous frame of mind New York was a wonderful place to be visiting, even if one’s clothing did indicate one’s country origin. The girl was perfectly happy.

One glance at Florence’s face, however, as she entered the room, told Daisy that her hostess did not share her exultant mood. In fact, she was literally pouting.

“Mother and Edith make me tired!” she exclaimed, “with their everlasting social work! You can’t have a day to yourself, or plan an innocent little walk without their dragging charity into it!”

“What’s the matter now, Flos?” asked Daisy, rather amused at her friend’s petulance.

“Why, instead of going for our nice stroll in the Park, we’ve got to go hunt up some poor female on mother’s church visiting list! She’s sick or something—”

“But what can we do?” asked Daisy, as she drew on her gloves. She was beginning to feel a little reluctant herself; charity work was not in her line.

“‘Investigate the case,’ as mother told me! I wish she’d investigate her own cases—or send Edith! Now if it were a basketball game to referee, I wouldn’t mind.”

“But what’s the matter with the woman?”

“She’s sick, and poor, and has a baby, of course,” replied Florence, as if all three of the things she mentioned were proofs of criminality.

“Poor woman!” sighed Daisy, as they stepped out of the door.

But once they were in the open air, even though it was city air, and felt the soft April wind against their cheeks, both girls forgot all about the distastefulness of their errand, and lapsed into their old, happy, gossipy vein. They began to discuss school—their class affairs, (they were both seniors at Miss Allen’s), and their scout activities. It was Daisy who first mentioned the luncheon to which Lily Andrews had invited them.

“Do you suppose it’s in honor of Marj?” she asked. “You know she’s visiting Lily for a few days during the college vacation.”

“No, not entirely,” replied Florence, “because it’s in honor of somebody whose engagement is soon to be announced. We’re all to send something for the linen shower, you know.”

“And it isn’t possible that Marj is engaged?” laughed Daisy.

“No, I don’t think so. Marj has set her heart on finishing college, and she has three years more. It might more likely be Lily herself.”

“Yes, it might. Oh, I wonder who will be there!”

“As many of the old senior patrol as she can get together, I think. Oh, Daisy!” She stopped suddenly, confronted by a flower vendor. “Let’s buy some violets! We city people can’t go find them like you can, you know.”

Having arranged their bouquets at their waists to their satisfaction, they continued their walk. They were having too good a time to shorten it by riding, and they were not particularly anxious to reach their destination. Indeed, it seemed to them that they arrived all too quickly at the dingy little house corresponding to the address Mrs. Evans had given. Mounting the dirty steps, Florence knocked timidly at the door.

“What is it?” asked a woman, opening the door only an inch or two, and peering cautiously out.

“We’re from St. Andrew’s Church,” said Florence; “and we came to find out whether there is anything they could do to help Mrs. Trawle.”

“Come in,” said the woman, grudgingly, widening the crack only sufficiently to allow the girls to enter singly.

The room presented a most unattractive appearance; even in the dim light of the drawn shades, both girls could see that what furniture there was was disreputable. Soiled clothing and threadbare towels hung about on the chairs, and one small frayed piece of carpet about the size of a window-frame was the only floor covering. In a darkened corner a woman lay on an untidy bed—a woman too sick even to notice the entrance of the strangers.

“That’s her in bed,” said the other, who had admitted the girls; “but she’s that sick she don’t know her own baby.”

“Why doesn’t she go to a hospital?” asked Florence, rather unsympathetically.

“She keeps talkin’ in her delirium about dyin’, and the poor baby a goin’ to an orphan asylum, and somehow she connects that with a hospital. But if she dies, which she probably will, that’s what’s got t’happen, for none of us neighbors could take care of ’er!”

A groan escaped from the lips of the sick woman, as if she were conscious of the portent of their conversation, and a pathetic little sob seemed to come as an echo from the baby. Daisy’s tender heart was touched immediately; she crossed the room and leaned over the bed.

“Mrs. Trawle!” she said, softly. “Please, listen!”

The invalid wearily responded, though she hardly looked capable of taking in what Daisy was about to say.

“We girls will take care of your baby if you will go to the hospital—really we will! Promise me you’ll go!”

The woman’s face brightened for a moment; she seemed to know instinctively that she could trust Daisy. But she shook her head, as another thought crossed her mind.

“But what if I die?” she asked, in a hoarse whisper.

Daisy stretched out her fresh young hand and touched Mrs. Trawle’s wasted one, trying to put comfort and assurance into the grasp.

“Then we will care for the baby.”

“Thank God!” sighed the woman, fervently. “Then I will go to the hospital—the one around the corner. You will take little Betty with you—now?”

“Yes! Yes!” cried Daisy; “if your friend will pack her things.”

“She has nuthin’ but what she’s got on,” put in the other woman; and while Daisy prepared to take the baby, she attended to the sick woman.

It was all arranged in an incredibly short time; within fifteen minutes the ambulance had called for Mrs. Trawle, and the girls, with their charge in Daisy’s lap, were whirling home in a taxi-cab. It was not until they were half way there that Florence expressed her opinion.

“Daisy, I honestly think you’re crazy!” she announced, surveying the baby coldly. She had never cared for children.

But Daisy was ecstatically happy, not only because she was doing something benevolent for someone else, but also because she naturally loved babies. Already she had fallen in love with the helpless little creature.

“You don’t mean to say you wouldn’t have offered, if I hadn’t!” she exclaimed, incredulously.

“Certainly not!” announced Florence, emphatically. “It’s sheer nonsense! But of course we can easily send her to an orphan asylum later on—when the woman dies.”

“Florence! You cruel, heartless girl!”

Daisy held the baby close up in her arms, as if she were afraid it might understand the cold-blooded remark, and be hurt.

“But Daisy, we can’t afford to pay somebody to take care of it—to assume its support. Neither one of our families is rich enough. And you certainly don’t expect to lug it with us back to Miss Allen’s?”

“No,” admitted the other, smiling at the absurdity of such an idea. She was almost beginning to regret her action, viewed from Florence’s common-sense point of view. “Will your mother be angry?”

“No; she and Edith will both think you were wonderful to do it. They’re both dipped on the charity stuff.”

Daisy breathed a sigh of relief; it was something to have Mrs. Evans’s and her oldest daughter’s approval of her impetuosity.

The girls were greeted at the door by all the members of the Evans family. Edith had noticed the taxi from the window, had seen Daisy’s bundle which she identified as a baby, and had rushed out in breathless curiosity.

Daisy entered the hall first, vainly attempting to hide her excitement, while Florence followed in haughty disdain.

“Where did you get the baby?” demanded Edith, in amazement. “Do let me see!”

“Oh, the poor thing needs a bath!” said Mrs. Evans, taking it from Daisy’s arms. “And is probably hungry, too!”

In broken sentences, Daisy managed to tell her story, apologizing profusely for her audacity in bringing the child to her hostess’s home. But both Mrs. Evans and Edith immediately silenced her by assuring her of their sanction of her deed.

“It’s exactly what I would have done myself,” said Mrs. Evans, “and I am so glad you were there to offer, for such a thing never would have occurred to Florence.”

“Hardly!” remarked her younger daughter. “I’m too practical; I’d have counted the cost first.”

“Oh, we’ll get the money somehow!” asserted Daisy, confidently. “I’ll put it up to Marj Wilkinson, and she’ll find a way!” Ever since Marjorie had been so instrumental in uniting her sister Olive with her husband, Daisy had come to regard her as resourceful in a crisis of almost any variety.

“The important thing now,” remarked Mrs. Evans, “is to care for the baby at the present, and let the future take care of itself. If the woman lives, Daisy will be responsible for saving her life; for I am sure she would have died if you had not sent her to the hospital. Now—suppose you girls all get to work! Edith, run across the street and borrow enough of little Bobbie’s clothing to dress the baby clean! Florence, you go to the drug store for a nursing bottle; and Daisy, you help me to bathe her. Once we get her comfortable, we can begin to think about what to buy.”

The girls separated to carry out the older woman’s orders, Daisy secretly delighted that the task she had been assigned kept her there with the baby.

Almost immediately Edith returned with the borrowed outfit, and Mrs. Evans proceeded to undress the child. The state of her clothing was really pitiful; indeed, it could hardly be dignified by that name, but rather resembled rags, held together by safety-pins. Moreover, they were soiled, and little Betty herself was none too clean.

But soap and warm water wrought wonders, and under Mrs. Evans’s skillful handling the little creature was soon snugly tucked in bed, sucking at the bottle of diluted milk which was propped up by her side. All of the girls felt a secret thrill at the transformation they had witnessed, and even Florence began to regret her hastiness in denouncing Daisy’s action.

It was not until the baby was asleep and they were all down in the living room that Mrs. Evans remembered that she had a telephone message for the girls.

“Marjorie Wilkinson phoned,” she said, “and said she would stop here on her way to Lily’s, so I persuaded her to stay to supper. She finally admitted that she was not expected there until after supper, because it seems the Andrews all have to go to a wedding.”

“Oh, Joy!” cried Daisy, jumping to her feet in delight. “Just the very person we want to see! Who ever heard of such luck?”

“Of course it will be great to see Marj,” agreed Florence; “but why do you say she is ‘just the person we want to see’—any more than any other of our best friends?”

“Why, because she’ll be able to help us plan how to take care of little Betty!” replied Daisy, immediately.

They did not have long to wait for their visitor. In less than half an hour, while Mrs. Evans and Edith were out making their purchases, Marjorie arrived.

In spite of the fact that Daisy had not seen her since the previous fall, she found her unchanged; Marjorie Wilkinson was the same sparkling, vivacious girl she had been at Miss Allen’s. A year at college had not even seemed to make her a day older.

“You look wonderful, Marj!” she cried, as both she and Florence embraced her at once. “I don’t have to ask whether college agrees with you!”

“It’s great!” announced Marjorie, smiling from one girl to the other; “and rooming with Lily makes it ten times nicer. I’m so thankful I was able to persuade her to go.”

“You wouldn’t have much trouble persuading me, if I had the money,” remarked Daisy.

“Oh, you’ll get the scholarship,” said Florence, with assurance. Then, turning to explain to Marjorie, “You know we have a college scholarship now at Miss Allen’s, founded by some rich donor. And there isn’t a doubt that Daisy will get it this year!”

“How about you and Alice?” asked Daisy, flushing at the other girl’s tribute.

“We don’t stand a ghost of a chance,” replied Florence.

The mention of Miss Allen’s naturally sharpened Marjorie’s curiosity for news, and both Florence and Daisy told her all they could think of, about the girls she knew, the scout troop, and their new captain.

“And what are the troop’s plans for this summer?” asked Marjorie, secretly envious of the girls who were still active members.

“The usual camping trip, I believe,” replied Daisy. “But Flos and I have decided not to go.”

“Why?” asked Marjorie, her eyes, wide open with astonishment at the thought of losing such an opportunity.

“We’d miss the dear old senior patrol too much,” replied Daisy, sadly. “Girl Scouts will never be the same to me without you and Lily and Doris—”

“And Ethel Todd and Mae Van Horn,” added Florence. “The bunch that was together last summer on the ranch.”

“Well, I guess we’ll see most everybody tomorrow at Lily’s luncheon,” remarked Marjorie. “I understand it’s to be a sort of reunion.”

“And an engagement shower, too,” put in Daisy. “But we don’t know whom it’s for. Not you, Marj?”

“Mercy, no! Far from it! I haven’t the slightest idea—unless it’s Mae or Doris. I haven’t heard from them much during the year.”

“It isn’t Lily herself?”

“Oh, no! Positively not! How about you two?”

Both Daisy and Florence laughed at the suggestion, and the former seized the opportunity to tell Marjorie about the baby. She related the story just as it had happened, omitting, however, any mention of Florence’s opposition.

“So you see I’m dying to keep her,” she concluded: “but of course I can’t afford it. Can you think of any possible way?”

Marjorie was silent for a moment, lost in thought.

“Yes,” she said, finally. “Couldn’t you put it up to Pansy Troop to provide for her as another of their good turns?”

Daisy’s spirits, which had brightened at the intimation of a solution, sank again when she heard the reply. She shook her head sadly.

“Couldn’t be done, Marj! We run on a budget now, and all the money we can possibly raise for charity next year is already pledged. I’m afraid that’s out of the question.”

Marjorie appeared disappointed, and Florence drew down the corners of her mouth to hide a smile. Before anything further could be said they were reminded of the baby’s presence by a sudden cry. Daisy dashed up stairs at once, with Marjorie and Florence at her heels.

“Oh, she’s adorable!” exclaimed Marjorie, for she was a girl who loved babies under any circumstances, even when they cried.

Daisy lifted the little girl tenderly in her arms, and the wails instantly ceased.

“And her name’s Elizabeth—the same as Mrs. Remington’s!” she remarked, referring to the former, beloved captain of Pansy Troop.

“That settles it!” announced Marjorie, emphatically. “Now we have to adopt her. The old senior patrol will do it!”

“Wonderful!” cried Daisy, kissing the baby on both cheeks.

“But how?” demanded Florence, abruptly.

“Earn the money, of course!” answered Marjorie.

“But you know we can’t, Marj!” insisted Florence. “Do be practical. Think how scattered we are.”

“Yes, I know,” admitted the other, slowly. “I’ll think hard, though, and maybe have something to suggest by tomorrow.”

The entrance of Mrs. Evans and Edith put an abrupt end to the conversation, and the girls all turned their attention to the delightful task of unwrapping the dainty wardrobe which had just been purchased. Nor was any further mention of the scheme made during the remainder of Marjorie’s visit; it was only when she was going out of the door that she whispered to Daisy not to despair.

“For I’ll find a way,” she assured her; “at least, if there is one to be found!”

“I believe you will!” replied the other girl admiringly.


As Marjorie rode along in a taxi that evening she was conscious of a pleasant tingling sensation—the exhilaration she always experienced when there was a new problem to be deciphered and solved. Hers was a logical, practical mind, which exulted in difficulties—difficulties which, however, were not insurmountable. She found Daisy’s project just to her liking. At the present moment she had not the slightest idea which might lead to its accomplishment; and yet she felt sure that in some way one would come to her. She would never give up without making a tremendous effort to help Daisy—Daisy, who was always so unselfish, so thoughtful of others. How like the girl it was to care for such a helpless little waif, and, at the same time, to put a dying woman’s fears at rest! When it was a matter of human sympathy and affection, Daisy would never stop to count the cost.

And then Marjorie thought of Lily, and she wondered in what light she would view the matter. She alone, of all the girls in the old senior patrol was in a position to render financial assistance. Would she be likely to be interested? Perhaps not at first; but no doubt Marjorie could win her over to her own point of view, just as she had convinced her that she should insist upon a college education, in spite of the temporary opposition of her parents. Undoubtedly, she concluded, Lily would be with her in this, as in all other undertakings; and the knowledge brought her a fresh source of inspiration and courage.

When she reached Lily’s apartment, she found that her hostess had been home for some time, impatiently waiting for her arrival. The girls greeted each other with the old affection; another year of close companionship had only served to bind them more tightly together.

“Where have you been?” demanded Lily, with the intimacy that admits of no barriers. “I even thought you’d be here for supper, and left word with the maid to get you some.”

“No, I stopped at the Evans’s,” replied Marjorie, “and had supper there.”

“How are they? Is Florence coming to the luncheon?”

“Yes, indeed! So is Daisy Gravers. And we’re just dying to know who is engaged.”

“If you had bought a paper tonight, you would have found out,” laughed Lily. “But see whether you can guess.”

“One of our old bunch—the eight, I mean?” asked Marjorie.


“Then it must be Doris!”

“Righto! I thought you’d know immediately. To Roger Harris.”

“Well! Well! The fellow Jack knows?”

“The very same.”

“Tell me who all are coming to the luncheon day after tomorrow,” begged Marjorie.

“Well,” began Lily, “first there’s Doris, and Marie Louise Harris, Roger’s sister, who is to be maid-of-honor, and—”

But the entrance of Mrs. Andrews into the room interrupted the conversation for a moment, while she greeted Marjorie. The latter, who was sitting on the davenport beside Lily, still wore her hat and travelling coat. She rose as the older woman came in.

“Do take off your things and stay a few minutes, Marjorie,” she said, laughingly. “Or haven’t you time?”

“We haven’t time to stop talking long enough,” explained Marjorie. “We have so much to say. You see I’m hearing all about the luncheon.”

“Then to continue,” went on Lily, “I expect all the other girls of the senior patrol. That’s all.”

“Tell me what everybody is doing,” demanded Marjorie, anxious to hear all the gossip.

“I guess you know about as much as I do,” said Lily. “You know Ethel Todd’s spring vacation comes the same time as ours, so she’s home; and so are the three seniors at Miss Allen’s—Daisy, Florence, and Alice. Mae Van Horn finished her business course and has a position as a stenographer here in the city, and Doris has been playing the society-bud all winter. Now would you like me to tell you about Marjorie Wilkinson?”

“Yes, do!” laughed Marjorie.

“Well, she’s a freshman at Turner College—very popular, of course. Made all the class teams—hockey, basketball, swimming,—was elected class treasurer, is a wizard at her studies—”

“Has a most charming room-mate!” interrupted Marjorie, eager to put in her say.

“What’s all this?” inquired Mr. Andrews, entering the room just in time to hear the end of the conversation. “Two modest little girls who hate themselves—”

“Perhaps it did sound rather funny,” admitted Marjorie. “Now I want to hear all about this wedding you have just been attending.”

There was so much to talk about that the girls were preparing for bed before Marjorie had even found a chance to tell Daisy’s story. But at last she related it to Lily’s astonished ears.

“But what in the world can Daisy do with a baby?” demanded the latter. “She surely can’t expect to take it to Miss Allen’s?”

“Hardly!” replied Marjorie. “She’ll have to pay somebody to take care of it—and you know she can’t afford to do that! The senior patrol has simply got to stand behind her.”

Lily yawned wearily; it was rather tiresome of Marjorie and Daisy to thrust a problem like this into the midst of all their gaiety.

“I suppose so,” she admitted absently, her mind upon the table decorations for the luncheon she was giving.

“It’ll mean quite a good deal of money, too,” added Marjorie; “for the mother will probably die; and if she doesn’t she won’t be strong enough to support her child for a long time.”

“Oh well, if she dies we can put the baby into an orphan asylum,” said Lily. “They’re really awfully nice places now—not a bit like the dreary, old-fashioned kind you read about. Father is on the Board of one, and he says it’s run very decently.”

“But I would hate to put little Betty into one,” objected Marjorie. “And I’m afraid it would break Daisy’s heart, after she promised the mother, you know.”

“I suppose we’ll have to see what we can do. Now then, let’s go to sleep, so we’ll be fresh for tomorrow. But first I want to ask you one thing: have you seen John Hadley since the vacation started?”

Marjorie felt herself flushing at the mention of that young man’s name, and was glad that all the lights, except the tiny boudoir lamp between the twin beds, were extinguished, so that Lily would not notice her agitation.

“Yes, once. Why?”

“Oh, I just wondered. Because you’re going to see him tomorrow night. He and Dick Roberts are going to take us to the theatre.”

“How perfectly wonderful!” exclaimed Marjorie. “But I thought that they were both living in Philadelphia.”

“So they are—and are just coming to New York to see us! Now, isn’t that thrilling?”

“I should say so. Are they coming here for dinner?”

“Yes; they invited us to go to a hotel, but mother put her foot down. I’m just as glad—we’ll have as good a time here, even if we have mother and father to chaperone us.”

“Oh, they’re such good sports!” said Marjorie. “They don’t seem like older people. But say, Lil, it sounds like a lot of gaiety—dinner and theatre tomorrow, luncheon the day after—”

“A dance at Mae’s the next day,” added Lily, “and finally a bridge party at the McAlpin, given by a friend of mother’s, in honor of her daughter.”

“And then we have to go back to college!” sighed Marjorie. “Oh, what a come down!”

“Still, you know you’ll be glad to get back, and see all the girls—and our little Girl Scouts in the village.”

“I suppose so,” admitted Marjorie, thinking of the troop of poor children which she had organized, and over which she and Lily presided. It had been one of her chief sources of happiness that year to be able to continue her active membership in the Girl Scouts by this means, and in some ways she had enjoyed the meetings even more than those of dear old Pansy Troop.

“Come on—let’s go to sleep now!” said Lily, extinguishing the tiny light; “we’ll need every bit of rest we can get.”

Mrs. Andrews, too, realized the girls’ need for sleep, and made no attempt to waken them before they were ready. Indeed, it was almost eleven o’clock when the maid knocked at the door, and brought in their breakfast. The girls ate leisurely, taking up the conversation where they had left off the previous night, and talking as if they had not a minute to lose.

“Did you think of any way to help Daisy while you were asleep?” asked Marjorie, laughingly.

“Mercy, no, Marj! The thing never entered my mind. In fact I would have forgotten all about it, if you had not mentioned it again.”

“You’re cruel, Lil! But then I couldn’t think of anything, either. Unless we renounce all our pleasures for the coming four days, and hand the money over to Daisy!”

“Marj, you’re joking?”

“Partly. But just take tonight, for instance: four theatre tickets—that couldn’t be less than ten dollars—a taxi, maybe flowers! No supper afterward, because your mother disapproves, but no doubt she is providing something for us to eat after we get home. I tell you the money we spend in those few hours might keep Betty two or three weeks!”

“But Marj!” remonstrated Lily, “there will always be orphans and poor people in the world, and we can’t renounce all our pleasures on their account. We had better be nuns—”

“Oh, Lil, I’m not scolding you,” put in Marjorie, noticing the girl’s concern. “Of course I wouldn’t really do that—I only said it was the one and only thing that had occurred to me.”

“I could give her some of my allowance,” Lily continued; “if that would help.”

“You’re a perfect dear, Lil!” cried Marjorie, jumping up and putting her arms around her chum’s neck. “But I don’t think that will be necessary. I’m sure we’ll think up some plan. I intend to ask John tonight.”

“John Hadley?” repeated Lily, in astonishment. “Why John Hadley? What could he do?”

“Well, he and his mother helped so much before—in uniting Olive and Kirk Smith—that I just have a lot of faith in them.”

“All right, go ahead. I’ll see that you two sit next to each other tonight. Of course that’s the only reason why you would wish to!”

“Naturally,” agreed Marjorie, with a blush.

But it did seem as if it were the thing closest to her heart, for that evening, as soon as the party was seated at the dinner table, and the conversation lost its general tone, Marjorie mentioned the matter to John. He listened intently to her story, regarding it seriously, secretly flattered that she confided in him, and turned to him for advice.

“What do Mr. and Mrs. Andrews think of it?” he asked, when she had finished.

“I don’t believe they have given it much thought,” she replied. “They just praised Daisy for her kindness, and I think, secretly smiled at her impetuosity.”

“It is a big job,” remarked John, deliberately. “Especially if the mother dies. It means support the child until she is able to earn her own living, and that ought not to be until she receives a fair education. It comes at a hard time for Daisy, just when she needs a start herself.”

“Oh, Daisy can’t possibly do it herself! The senior patrol must come to the rescue. We’ve got to make some money somehow!”

“What chance is there of your getting together?” asked John.

“Very little—we’re awfully scattered. Lily, Florence, and Mae are here in New York in the summer; Doris will be married and be living in Philadelphia I guess, since Roger comes from there; and the rest of us—Alice, Daisy, Ethel and I are all scattered in small towns.”

“What was that you just said?” cried John. “About Doris and Roger being engaged?” He stopped eating, and looked at Marjorie in amazement.

“Yes, it was in the papers last night,” replied Marjorie. “I’m sure your mother must have noticed it.”

“Aren’t you talking about the engagement?” interrupted Lily, from the other side of the table. “I was so afraid you’d forget to tell John!”

“They’ve had weightier matters to discuss,” teased Dick. “I’ve no doubt they’ve been deciding the fate of the nation. Has your subject been prohibition, or the League of Nations?”

“Nothing like that,” laughed Marjorie. “Only Girl Scouts. And we haven’t finished, either!”

“Well, that can wait till later,” said Dick. “We want to hear all the gossip now.”

At any other time Marjorie would have been only too glad of the chance to discuss such an interesting topic as the engagement of one of her dearest friends, but now she was anxious to get down to the other matter. It was so essential that she have some more or less definite scheme to lay before the members of the senior patrol on the morrow, for it was unlikely that she would have another such opportunity to talk to them all together. She must not disappoint Daisy.

But she found herself unable to return to the subject until they were on their way to the theatre.

“Can’t you suggest anything?” she asked, abruptly, without even explaining her question to John.

The young man shook his head sadly.

“No, because the usual money-making schemes like entertainments, bazaars, dances, food sales, all need people to work them up. And not enough of you live in the same place.”

“No—but can’t you think of something else?” pleaded Marjorie.

“Well, you wouldn’t want to sell things—peddle from door to door—would you? Or take orders for magazines, or something like that?”

Marjorie shook her head. “No, I’m afraid not,” she said.

They had reached the theatre now, and both felt any further discussion would be out of place, in deference to the other two members of the party. So John made the only offer he could think of under the circumstances: to put the proposition up to his mother and to ask for her assistance. Marjorie appeared to be greatly encouraged by the idea.

“But tell her to think fast,” she added; “and I’ll rely upon her!”

Then she gave herself up to the enjoyment of the evening.


Lily and Marjorie slept late again the following morning. Mrs. Andrews had assured them that there was nothing for them to do in preparation for the luncheon, except to be ready to receive the guests when they arrived.

Both girls had selected more or less elaborate costumes—sleeveless models of georgette and chiffon—and were dressing with the utmost care. For what could possibly be more important than the celebration of an engagement of one of their number?

“Doesn’t it sort of make you feel old, Lil?” asked Marjorie, as she applied the final touches of powder to her nose. “I mean the idea of one of our bunch getting married?”

“Yes,” agreed Lily. “I had been thinking of that sort of thing as in the future for us, and here we are in the midst of it.”

“The only thing is—Doris is so awfully young. Most American girls don’t get married in their teens, you know.”

“Well, I certainly hope you won’t, Marj!” remarked Lily. “I’d never go back to college without you.”

“Don’t you worry about that!” returned her chum, laughingly. “I’m going to get my degree, all right!”

Mrs. Andrews’s voice from the other end of the apartment put a stop to this conversation. She was calling to the girls to come and inspect the table.

As they opened the dining-room door a moment later, Marjorie was simply astounded by the beauty and elaborateness of the decorations. She had never seen anything so lovely before, even within the covers of a magazine, and she gazed in speechless admiration.

The general color-scheme was pink—pink roses, pink ribbons, pink candles in profusion. A large pink silk parasol, filled with flowers, hung by streamers from the ceiling, and from each of its points a ribbon, tied to a place-card and a bouquet, fluttered to a plate at the table. The “shower,” too, was literally coming down from the sky, for the packages which had been received ahead of time by Mrs. Andrews, were wrapped in tissue paper and suspended by ribbon from the ceiling to a height a little above the parasol in the center.

“It’s gorgeous!” cried Marjorie, in ecstasy. “The very prettiest thing I’ve ever seen! Doris will remember it for the rest of her life.”

“I’m glad you like it,” smiled Mrs. Andrews. “Is there anything you could suggest?”

“No, it’s perfect as it is!” replied Marjorie. “I sort of feel as if we oughtn’t to disturb it by eating luncheon here.”

“Yes, suppose we eat in the kitchen,” suggested Lily. “And just come in here to admire the table!”

“Now Lil, don’t get sarcastic! Tell me, does Doris have the slightest idea?”

“No, she thinks it’s just a luncheon for you. Though why I should invite Marie Louise Harris, a girl whom we scarcely know—ought to set her wondering. But you know Doris doesn’t wonder much—she just accepts things. You couldn’t fool Ethel Todd, for instance!”

“Girls,” interrupted Lily’s mother, “I just heard the door-bell—it may be some of your guests. Don’t you think you had better go and receive them?”

The girls ran off and found the butler guiding Doris and Marie Louise Harris into the drawing-room.

“Congratulations, Doris!” they both cried immediately, embracing her affectionately. “We saw it in the paper—picture and all—night before last!”

Doris blushed becomingly.

“And I did keep it a surprise till then, didn’t I?” she asked triumphantly. “Of course Marie Louise knew it, and one or two of the girls I see every day; but I don’t think any of the senior patrol members had the slightest suspicion!”

Lily turned around and winked cautiously at Marjorie; the surprise was going to work beautifully.

“I thought it might shower,” remarked Marie Louise, nonchalantly, “so I brought an umbrella.”

“Yes, wasn’t that crazy!” said Doris, missing the point entirely. “I never saw a clearer day.”

“I think it was exceedingly wise,” asserted Lily; “one can never tell when there will be a shower now.” With difficulty, she restrained a smile.

“I know they always say there is a lot of rain in April,” said Doris. “And if one wears one’s best clothes—”

“Why, here are Florence and Daisy!” interrupted Lily, rushing forward to greet the new arrivals. “And if they haven’t brought umbrellas too!”

“Yes, we thought there might be a shower,” said Florence, suppressing a giggle.

“You girls have me positively scared!” said Doris. “I have on a brand new pair of suede slippers—”

“Oh, I guess we can scrape up enough for a taxi for you, Doris, if the shower lasts,” offered Lily. “But it’s my opinion that it will be over before you go home.”

“I hope so!” sighed Doris, still unsuspecting.

When Mae, Ethel and Alice finally arrived separately, each carrying an umbrella, the girls all thought Doris would have to guess the significance. But she remained innocent until they went into the dining-room.

Just as she entered the room, Lily suddenly cried out:

“The shower at last!”

Doris burst into happy laughter, and the other girls crowded about her as Lily gradually let down the parcels from the ceiling.

“Girls, it’s just too wonderful!” she exclaimed, as she examined one gift after another, her face radiant with joy. Marjorie watched her admiringly, wondering whether her own future held any such thrilling experience for her.

“But there are lots more than eight gifts here!” remarked Doris, overpowered by their lavishness.

“Yes, lots of the girls’ mothers sent them, and even some of the boys,” explained Lily. “And—the biggest surprise of all was Mrs. Hadley’s, wasn’t it?”

“It certainly was!” agreed Doris, turning the pages of an attractive little book about the Wissahickon, illustrated by some charming sketches. “She must have known we expect to live in Philadelphia.”

“Yes, I told her,” replied Lily, “and she asked whether I thought you would like it. I assured her you would.”

“I do—I love it,” said the other.

The maids began to serve the luncheon, and the menu, which was as daintily and as carefully planned as the decorations, did not fail to make its appeal to the guests. Doris alone was too much excited to eat.

“But I don’t see how you ever guessed it,” she said to Lily, as she nibbled at her roll. “It was a secret.”

“A little bird told me,” laughed Lily; “but if he hadn’t, I could have guessed it from your face, Doris. People don’t look so joyous over spring wardrobes and summer plans.”

“Well, maybe you’re right, Lily. I guess I do look rather happy—for I am!”

“Do tell us when it is coming off, Doris,” begged Alice. “And all about it.”

“The date is set for the first of June, and I’m going to have a church wedding—with quite a large reception afterwards. You must all come!”

“Don’t worry!” cried Florence. “We wouldn’t miss it for the world!”

“Marie Louise is to be my maid-of-honor,” continued Doris, “and Mae and Marjorie my bridesmaids—at least if Marj will; for I haven’t had a chance to ask her yet.”

“I’ll be delighted,” said Marjorie, flattered by the invitation.

“And you’re going to live in Philadelphia,” added Lily. “That will be nice for Marie Louise, won’t it?”

“It surely will,” replied the girl, an attractive young woman with blond hair and blue eyes. She looked adoringly at Doris, as if she already regarded her as a sister.

“Have you bought the house yet?” asked Alice.

“No, Roger is looking all around. We want to find a place in the suburbs, not too far away from the family.”

“Imagine the fun of furnishing it—everything all new and shining!” exclaimed Mae, rapturously. “Making curtains, and draperies, and sofa pillows—oh, Doris, no wonder you’re happy!”

The conversation continued along this line until the luncheon was concluded, for all of the girls seemed as interested as Doris in the details. Neither Marjorie nor Daisy made any mention of the baby until they found themselves together on the big divan in the reception room.

“How is Betty?” asked Marjorie, turning eagerly to her companion. “I’ve been dying to ask, but couldn’t make an opportunity without seeming too abrupt.”

“She’s wonderful—gaining every day!” replied Daisy, enthusiastically. “Florence’s mother got a pair of scales, and we weighed her. And a friend is going to lend us a coach, so she can get out every day.”

“Is she still awfully cute?”

“Cuter than ever! Oh, Marj, you just ought to see her in her bath!”

“And—and what is the news of the mother?” Marjorie put the question falteringly, as if she almost dreaded the answer.

“She’s still alive—and apparently doing all right. They are expecting to operate, and if she gets through the operation there is some chance of her living. But it will be long and slow.”

“And meanwhile she will need money,” added Marjorie. “Well, Daisy, we’ve just got to get it, somehow!”

“Have you thought of any plan?”

“No, not yet. I talked the thing over with Lily and John Hadley—he and Dick Roberts were here for dinner last night—but nobody could suggest a thing. Still, John promised to consult his mother, and you know she’s pretty clever about things like that. She’s done a lot of social work.”

“Wasn’t it sweet of her to send Doris that book?” remarked Daisy. “By the way, I wanted to see it.”

Strolling to the table where Doris had brought her presents, Daisy picked up the book and carried it over to where Marjorie was sitting. Idly they turned the pages together.

“It certainly is a picturesque spot,” observed Marjorie, charmed by the sketches of the historic creek and the old buildings in its vicinity. “I wish I could see it.”

“We’ll all have to visit Doris after she gets settled,” said Daisy. “A little reunion for the senior patrol.”

“Daisy!” cried Marjorie, abruptly. “I have it—an inspiration! Why not get permission to run a little tea-room in one of these historic places along the Wissahickon—all summer—taking turns in managing it! We could support Betty!”

“Marvellous!” cried Daisy, so loud that the other girls all stopped talking to inquire what had brought forth the exclamation.

It was then that Daisy told them of her adventure—of the errand upon which Mrs. Evans had sent Florence and herself; of the finding of the sick woman and the temporary adoption of the baby, and of her promise for its future if the mother should die. Before the girls could even ask her any questions, Marjorie followed her explanation with a recital of her own newly thought of plan.

“But you’d never get permission to use the Park, or any of those buildings,” said Ethel, who always saw the practical side of every undertaking.

“The Washington Girl Scouts did something of the sort,” replied Marjorie. “And made a success of it, too!”

“But are we old enough?” asked Florence.

“Yes, for I’m sure Mrs. Hadley would help us. She lives in Philadelphia now, you know.”

“And then I could chaperone you,” laughed Doris; and the girls joined in her merriment at the idea of such a slip of a girl acting in that capacity.

“Really, now, girls, tell me what your plans are for the summer and how much time we could count on from each of you,” urged Marjorie.

“I have only two weeks’ vacation, but I’ll give you one,” offered Mae, immediately.

“And I’ll give as much of my daytime as I can spare from my housekeeping,” said Doris.

“You can have my whole summer!” cried Daisy, generously.

“And mine!” added Alice.

“And a good part of mine!” put in Ethel.

“How about you, Lil?” asked Marjorie, hopefully.

“I don’t know—part, anyway. It will depend upon father and mother. But I’m pretty sure dad will put up the capital to start us off.”

“Oh, that’s great!” exclaimed Marjorie. “Then it’s settled. I’m going to write to Mrs. Hadley tonight.”

Neither Marie Louise nor Florence had said anything during this time, the former because she did not consider it her place to intrude, the latter because she was determined to maintain the attitude of scornful indifference which she had adopted at first. But now Florence felt a little embarrassed because of her own silence; and decided to turn the conversation by teasing Marjorie.

“I see why it appeals to Marj!” she remarked, significantly. “She’ll be able to see John Hadley every single evening all summer!”

But Marjorie was ready with a retort in her own defence.

“Daisy,” she said, appealing to the girl by her side, “I call upon you to witness the fact that I was just as anxious to do something for the baby at the beginning, before I ever thought of Philadelphia, as I am now. Isn’t that true?”

“It certainly is!” replied Daisy, staunchly.

“May I offer a suggestion?” asked Lily. “Let each girl be responsible for little Betty’s support for one week, after Daisy goes back to school, to carry her expenses until we get the tea-room running. What do you say?”

All the girls, even Florence Evans, assented immediately to this proposition, and then Marie Louise timidly made her offer.

“If Marjorie succeeds,” she said, “how would you like to have our house for the summer—to live in, I mean; for you wouldn’t want to live at a tea-house. Papa and mamma are going to Maine and Roger will be married, so I’m sure you’d be welcome to it!”

“Splendid!” cried Marjorie, delighted at each new development in the accomplishment of her plan. “And could you be with us, Marie Louise?”

“Yes, if you didn’t mind having an outsider!”

“You’re not an outsider any more!” protested Lily. “Henceforth we adopt you into the patrol!”

“But I didn’t even go to Miss Allen’s!”

“You’ll be Doris’s sister—so that settles it,” concluded Marjorie. “And with all your art-school experience, you can probably help us a lot with your ideas.”

“I mean to help you in other ways, too,” said Marie Louise.

The girls continued to discuss the thing until it was time to go.

“I knew it would turn out all right!” said Daisy, triumphantly, as she put on her hat. “Because the baby’s name is Betty—after Mrs. Remington.”

“And because Marj is our lieutenant,” added Lily; “and ours is a patrol of Girl Scouts that can’t be defeated!”


The remaining days of Marjorie’s visit sped by with rapidity, packed as they were with engagements and good times. Almost before they realized it, she and Lily were back at college again, following the old routine.

But now Marjorie felt that the time could not pass too quickly. There were only six weeks left before the close of college, but those six weeks made her impatient to begin work on her new project. If only their plans would materialize!

As she had announced at the luncheon, Marjorie had written immediately to Mrs. Hadley, soliciting her help and advice. The older woman’s reply had been most cordial; she had not only promised to look about for a suitable site for the tea-house, but she had extended a week-end invitation to Marjorie to visit her home, so that they might go over the ground together. The prospect seemed delightful.

“What date did Mrs. Hadley set?” asked Lily, one afternoon shortly after their return from the holiday.

“The third Saturday in April,” replied Marjorie. “A week from tomorrow.”

Lily referred to the letter she had just finished reading.

“You’re doubly lucky,” she said. “Doris will be in Philadelphia all that week, visiting Mrs. Harris and buying furniture. I have a letter from her here now, telling me that Roger has succeeded in getting a house.”

“That’s great!” cried Marjorie. “But do you suppose she’ll have any time to see me?”

“Surely! Wait till I write to her—I’ll mention the fact that you are coming.”

“Maybe John will drive me out. You know he has a Ford now.”

“That’s nice,” commented Lily, thinking how much fun she derived from her Rolls-Royce, and making a valiant effort to remember that both were cars. “I see you’re in for a good time this summer.”

“Of course I’m in for a good time,” acknowledged Marjorie. “Isn’t it always a good time where Girl Scouts are included—especially the Girl Scouts of Pansy Troop’s old senior patrol?”

“Right you are! Still, motors never detract. I believe I’ll take mine down if we do live in Marie Louise’s house.”

“Oh, we’ll live there—I’m sure she meant it, or she wouldn’t have offered. I wish I could see it while I’m in Philadelphia.”

“You probably will,” sighed Lily, enviously.

She did not enjoy the prospect of a week-end alone at college while Marjorie was having a good time in the city. Nevertheless it was she who kept her promise to tell Doris of the intended visit, and as a result Marjorie and the Hadleys were invited to dinner at the Harris’s on the Saturday evening of the former’s stay in Philadelphia.

It was a mild spring day, and they found the little party assembled on the porch as John drove up. Marjorie opened the door of the car and jumped out eagerly.

The house was a modern three-story stone one, standing alone, and surrounded by just enough ground to separate it pleasantly from its neighbors. The porch, which was furnished already with wicker chairs and grass rugs, appeared most inviting.

“Oh, this is lovely!” cried Marjorie, as she greeted the girls, and was introduced to Mr. and Mrs. Harris.

In a few minutes they all went inside, and Marjorie continued to admire everything in a most informal manner.

“But I shouldn’t think your father and mother would care to turn it over to a mob of school-girls for the summer,” she remarked.

“Well, we’re not exactly babies,” laughed Marie Louise. “And they said they’d be delighted—it’s so much nicer than closing it up entirely.”

“Much nicer for us, of course,” agreed Marjorie.

“Would you like to see the rest of it?” suggested her hostess, politely.

“Love to!”

They went from room to room, each one of which bore the stamp of newness, the testimony of careful usage. The white paint glistened beneath the gleam of the electric lights, the curtains and draperies appeared to have been put up fresh that morning, the furniture to have recently arrived from the store. Everything was simple, immaculate, and in perfect taste; Marjorie could not imagine a more delightful house for a group of girls to live in.

“But how could we ever keep it in such spotless order?” she asked, after she had expressed her appreciation of its beauty. “Things will get out of place—”

“Oh, we would keep Mrs. Munsen—our housekeeper,” explained Marie Louise. “I wouldn’t think of attempting it without her. Besides, she’s a very superior woman, and could act as a sort of chaperone, you know.”

“Yes; otherwise you couldn’t have the boys come to see you,” put in Doris, who had accompanied them upon their tour of inspection.

“Don’t judge everybody by yourself, Doris,” teased Marjorie. “I don’t expect any callers—I mean to give up all my time to the tea-house.”

“If we get one!” Marie Louise reminded her.

“Well, here’s hoping!” returned the other.

The conversation at dinner hinged upon the two topics of supreme importance to the little group at that time—the wedding, and the operation of the tea-house. Sometimes it was one, sometimes the other; once in a while Mr. and Mrs. Harris, or Mrs. Hadley would introduce a subject of general interest, only to find that it was immediately dropped by the young people for their more personal affairs. At last they abandoned their attempts in amusement, to follow the course of least resistance.

Mr. Harris suggested a fire in the fire-place after dinner, as the night was rather chilly, and while John helped him to make it, the two older women and Marjorie and Marie Louise started to play bridge. Off in a shadowy corner of the room sat the lovers, whispering intimately together over the plans for their new home.

In spite of her interest in the game, however, Marjorie found it impossible to keep from talking. Every few minutes she felt that she simply had to make a remark or to ask a question relative to the project that was uppermost in her mind.

“You’re going with us tomorrow, aren’t you?” she asked Marie Louise, in an interval between hands.

“Going where?” inquired the other, as she shuffled the cards.

“On our search for the tea-house, of course, John is going to drive us up around the Wissahickon, and along the outskirts of the Park, to look for some picturesque barn or old mill.”

“I’d be delighted!” cried Marie Louise, joyfully. She was as much interested in the undertaking as if she had been an original member of the famous patrol.

“Aren’t you going to invite Doris?” remarked John, in a bantering tone; for he knew, as did everyone else in the room, how slight was the probability that she would accept.

“Why certainly!” replied Marjorie, with a sly twinkle in her eye. “Too bad there isn’t room for Roger!”

“Here!” protested Roger. “I’m not going to stand for that. I—”

“Well, we’ll excuse you this time,” laughed Marjorie.

“Tell us about your house, old man,” suggested John; “before you get absorbed again.”

“Nothing much to tell,” replied Roger. “Just an ordinary two-story bungalow type, about as big as a pumpkin-shell. ‘He put her in a pumpkin-shell, and there he kept her very well!’ But wait till it’s all furnished.”

“And how are you getting along?” inquired Mrs. Hadley.

“Beautifully!” answered Doris, her eyes shining with anticipation. “We’re going to have it all fixed and ready for ourselves when we come home.”

“Doesn’t it sound too funny to hear Doris talking about ‘coming home’—to her own home!” laughed Marjorie. “And such a short time ago we were getting ready for that dance where she and Roger met each other. In fact, I feel responsible for this match. It was really all my doing—”

“Jack wouldn’t agree to that!” interrupted John. “He always claims the credit for himself.”

“They’re both wrong!” put in Marie Louise. “For I met Doris at a tea, and would have invited her home with me, for Roger’s sake as well as my own, if she had never met him any other way!”

“I suppose I had nothing at all to do with it,” remarked Roger, meekly; but a timid glance from Doris assured him that he was the only one who mattered.

In spite of the enjoyable evening they were having, the guests departed early; for Marjorie insisted that they would have a strenuous day of house-hunting before them on the morrow. She warned Marie Louise to be ready by ten o’clock in the morning.

The following day, however, Marjorie was up at dawn, and in her impatience to begin, she telephoned Marie Louise at eight o’clock. A surprised and sleepy voice answered her at the other end of the wire, and it became rather indignant when Marjorie begged its owner to be ready an hour earlier.

“Nine o’clock! I can never be ready by then. Why, I’m still in bed!”

“Oh, come on!” coaxed Marjorie. And in the end she had her way.

John, much amused by Marjorie’s superabundance of energy, and under the spell of her enthusiasm, was perfectly willing to forego his customary Sunday-morning sleep.

Promptly at nine o’clock they drove up to the Harris’s door and found Marie Louise finishing a hasty breakfast. Now that she was thoroughly awake, she too was anxious to start, and climbed into the car talking volubly.

It was but a few minutes’ ride from the Harris’s to the park, which they entered upon a highway extending along one of the smaller streams that joined the Wissahickon. Marjorie, who had read and heard much about the natural beauty of the famous stream, was entranced as she beheld it. She clapped her hands in delight, and kept exclaiming and pointing out objects of beauty and interest.

“But the houses—where are the houses?” she asked.

John explained to her that they were in park territory, and that there were no houses, except a few notable ones, and the tiny shelters used by the park guards.

“The places you read about are mostly farther up the stream, where automobiles are not allowed. Only pedestrians, or riders and drivers of horses, are permitted.”

The look of dejection in poor Marjorie’s face was pitiful to see. John realized that she had set her heart on the Wissahickon for a location; the knowledge had given him considerable concern; and while he had been aware all the time of the impossibility of such a thing, he had not the courage to disillusion her, preferring rather that she should see for herself.

They went along the river-drive, Marjorie silent and apparently lost in thought. It was John’s purpose to allow her to collect herself before suggesting a plan he had in mind. Without seeming to turn back, he followed the winding roads which eventually brought them back in the direction from which they had come. Marjorie recognized the landmarks, and coming out of her reverie, looked inquiringly up at him.

“Yes, we are going back again,” he said, understanding her look, “I’m afraid there isn’t much that would interest us in this neighborhood. You can see for yourself the impossibility of locating around here. Some day we will come without the car, and walk up the creek to see some of the places you had in mind. But really, Marj, they are nothing more than ruins that you couldn’t possibly use; and the few that are habitable are at present occupied and utterly impracticable for a tea-house.”

As John paused for breath he saw the tears gather in the girl’s eyes.

“Please don’t be discouraged!” he exclaimed, hastily, taking one hand from the wheel for an instant, and pressing hers reassuringly. “I have a plan in mind: but I want you to see for yourself.”

“T thought it would be so lovely to be on the Wissahickon!” insisted the disappointed girl.

“So it would,” agreed John; “but perhaps not so profitable. Don’t you see, you must be on a much travelled road, one used by automobilists, to make the thing go. Most of the walkers and horsemen are out for exercise; they go home for their luncheon or their tea. And then, yours is a summer project; if you were to choose an obscure location, no matter how lovely, it would take time before your place became known. I may seem awfully practical about it all, but the fact remains—it’s the hungry people you must catch.”

“I guess you’re right,” laughed Marjorie. “But it seems utterly hopeless to me now, for the first time. What do you suggest?”

“Valley Green,” replied John. “Let’s go there and stay for lunch.”

They left the park and approached the vicinity of the famous road-house by a roundabout way. John drew the car up to the roadside as they reached the park boundary again; and they proceeded on foot along the narrow path by the creek side until they reached the bridge above Valley Green, where they crossed over.

“I never saw a more delightful place!” exclaimed Marjorie, when she caught a glimpse of the lovely old house among the trees by the roadside. “Can we have lunch on that nice shady porch? And look at the ducks! And swans, too! Aren’t they beautiful?”

John saw that they were all comfortably seated, and then went inside to arrange for luncheon. In several minutes he returned, laughing.

“I guess they think we’re crazy for wanting to have the lunch out on the porch—just as if it were really summer.”

“Oh!” cried Marjorie, suddenly becoming considerate, and turning to Mrs. Hadley, “I never thought to ask you whether you objected. If it’s too cool—”

“No, I think it will be very comfortable,” smiled the other. “Don’t think of changing for me.”

“Then we can watch the swans, and hear the water bubbling against the rocks, and hear the birds—haven’t you noticed them?—and just have a jolly time all around.”

John beamed to see Marjorie happy again; it was so unusual to see her otherwise that her former depression had been the more noticeable. Before long a waitress appeared and commenced laying a cloth upon one of the round tables. She was young, rosy-cheeked, and wore a freshly starched apron and a dainty white cap.

Marjorie took in all these details with thoughtful eyes. Never before, she realized, had she noticed just how a waitress should act.

“Before long,” she thought, “I’ll be doing the same thing. I wonder how it will feel?” And she laughed aloud, drawing the attention of the others suddenly to herself.

“I was just thinking, Marie Louise, that before long we’ll be serving luncheon to perfect strangers ourselves.”

“That’s funny!” chuckled John. “I was just thinking that myself. I was trying to picture you, Marjorie, with one of those little white affairs on your head, and an apron around your waist.”

“Well, sir? And how shall I look?” asked the girl.

“Oh—very nice!” stammered John, blushing furiously, and glancing slyly in embarrassment at his mother and Marie Louise, as they all laughed at his confusion.

“Let’s go sit at the table,” suggested Marjorie, somewhat confused herself. “I want to see just how it’s done.”

As they left their seat beneath the trees, and took places at the table, the maid reappeared with a tray.

“I never thought to consult you ladies about what to order,” John apologized; “so I hope you’ll find these things to your liking.”

“This toast is delicious,” announced Marjorie.

“And the chicken-salad looks most inviting. Oh, it is a weakness of mine!” commented Marie Louise.

“Gracious!” exclaimed Mrs. Hadley, as the waitress appeared again bearing a fluffy omelette and a plate of hot rolls. “The boy must think we are ravenous!”

“I wanted to please everyone, and I thought if I ordered two or three things, I might hit upon something you all liked. It’s been a long time since we had breakfast, you know—”

“All except Marie Louise!” put in Marjorie.

“Early for me, however!” answered the accused. “And I am ravenous!”

“Then you’ve done very well!” said Marjorie, turning her gaze upon John, who sat next to her, and who smiled happily at her.

“If you two will just stop flirting for a minute, and attend to your lunch,” remarked Marie Louise, “I think you will find this omelette delicious!”

“My dear!” exclaimed Marjorie, indignantly; and then she laughed.

John said nothing; he only blushed again. But he had a happy, satisfied feeling inside somewhere—happy because Marjorie was vivacious again; satisfied because, ever since he had discouraged her so in the morning, he had felt like a brute; and he could now see in her eyes that she bore no resentment.

“We’ve been making so much noise with our laughing we have scared all the birds away!” said Marjorie. “How quiet and peaceful it is!”

They sat in silence while the dishes were being removed, and watched the swans gliding majestically about and curving gracefully their slender necks as they dipped their bills into the water. Afar off down the road they could hear the hoof-beats of an approaching horse. A moment later a young girl rode by.

“Makes me think of last summer when we were on the ranch,” remarked John to Marjorie.

The waitress was placing their dessert before them.

“How wonderful!” cried Marie Louise. “Fresh strawberries and cream! It’s just the right dessert for this luncheon, and this place. Indeed, you have chosen well, John.”

“And it’s all right for me to say that,” she added, in an aside to Marjorie.

“Have you noticed the china?” asked that person. “That is one of the things we will have to give some thought to.”

“Then you still hope to find a place?” said Marie Louise.

“Oh, yes. John has a plan in mind. He’ll tell us when he is ready, I guess.”

“It’s no secret,” said John. “I have in mind a place on the Lincoln Highway just above the park. In my estimation it’s ideally situated; for all automobilists entering the park from that locality have to use that road. It belongs to a friend of mine, Edward Scott, who is in Europe. We grew up together—went to the same schools when we were kids; and while I was at prep school, they moved from our neighborhood because his father built the house I spoke of. Of course we didn’t see much of each other while I was away at school—Ned went to a prep here in this city and entered the University of Pennsylvania when I entered Princeton. I wanted him to go with me, but his father had his mind set on Penn, because he had gone there. Even while we were apart all that time, we kept in close touch—wrote to each other at least once a week—and still do, though he is in England.

“Well, to make a long story short, towards the end of his freshman year, Ned’s father died; and about two weeks after that, his mother followed him. The blow was almost too much for poor Ned. He went back to college, however, and his maiden-aunt came to live with him. She was only there a little over a month, and she too died. He couldn’t stand that house any longer; so he packed up, stored all the furniture, closed the house, and went to Europe for the summer. In the fall he entered Oxford. The last time he wrote he said he liked it so well he didn’t know when he would come back. Not until he completes his course, at any rate; and after that he hopes to travel for a while. Luckily, his father left him piles of money. He has nothing to come home for; he’s the last of his family.”

“How tragic!” exclaimed Marjorie. “Poor fellow!”

“I’m surprised that he hasn’t sold or rented the house,” said Marie Louise.

“He did mention it, but decided he’d hold it for awhile, in case he should suddenly want to come back again, and also because it’s a valuable property, and it would pay to hold it.

“Now, since the place is there and no one is using it, I’m sure Ned will let us have it. I’ve already written to him, and he is to cable his reply, ‘Yes’ or ‘No’ and the amount of the rent. There is nothing to do but to wait for his answer.”

“I thought you had something up your sleeve, John Hadley,” cried Marjorie. “Oh, it’s too wonderful! When should you hear?”

“In a day or so.”

“Can we see it?”

“From the outside.”

Upon learning this, Marjorie was anxious to be off again. Refreshed bodily by the substantial lunch they had eaten, and in spirits by the good news of John’s plan, they went back to the machine, and after riding about ten minutes, a short distance above the park John turned in at an open driveway between two hedges.

“Here we are!”

The two girls uttered little cries of delight.

“Why, this is ever so much more lovely than I had expected!” said Marjorie.

“Yes, it’s perfect!” agreed Marie Louise.

A stone house with white woodwork and green shutters stood before them. It was not a very large house, yet it appeared roomy. Like the ground which it occupied, it was wide, rather than deep, so that the greater part faced the road. The hospitable double doors and spreading fan-light above them gave promise of a wide hallway within. Extending across the entire front and along each side ran a broad covered porch, an ideal place for serving tea in hot weather; and the windows, which were boarded up, reached the floor. A short distance in the rear stood a combination stable and garage.

Marjorie took in the details with sparkling eyes, noticing how admirably situated it was for their purpose. The curving gravel driveway with a double entrance would permit motors to enter and leave without turning around; the house was close enough to the highway to be in evidence, but not too close for privacy. The vines and shrubs growing about the porch, which before very long would be in leaf again, would give just the proper amount of obscurity. Large shade trees were numerous at each side and to the rear; but the front, from the drives to the road, was an expanse of lawn, unbroken save by a few shrubs and flower beds. On the right a continuation of the drive ran back to the garage; on the left, a rose arbor led down to a rustic summer-house in the middle of the lawn. In summer, when the foliage became profuse, it would be impossible for anyone seated on the porch to see the neighboring houses on either side; and the view across the highway was of the gardens of a large private estate.

Marjorie turned to John and said, with a laugh:

“And to think that the most I expected was some old barn! This is heavenly; so nice, in fact, that I can’t believe we shall ever get it.”

They sat in the machine and discussed their plans until a chilliness in the air warned them that it was getting late, and time for them to be starting homeward.


Marjorie returned to college bubbling over with the plans for the new enterprise. Fortunately, she found Lily in her room, and into her interested ears she poured the details.

“John is going to let me know as soon as he hears anything definite,” she concluded, as she finished her description of the attractive place they hoped to rent. “In the meantime I want to study up all I can about tea-room management. I wonder whether there are any books on the subject.”

“I guess so,” said Lily; “but not in the college library. Suppose I write to mother, and ask her to look in some of the New York book-stores?”

“Wonderful!” cried Marjorie, delighted to have her chum enter so heartily into her plans. “Just the thing! Oh, Lil, what would I ever do without you?”

“I’m just as thrilled over the prospect of it as you are,” replied her room-mate. “Only I’m afraid my motives aren’t so altruistic. It’s more because I’m glad of a chance to spend the summer with the old bunch than because I’m anxious to help the woman, I’m afraid.”

“Oh, we’ll have lots of summers together,” said Marjorie. “But this really is going to be an unusual experience.”

“I wish I believed the first thing you said,” returned Lily. “I feel it in my bones that now that Doris has started it, we’ll probably lose one girl every year, at least. And you can’t tell me it’s ever the same after they’re married!”

“Not exactly. But we still have Doris.”

“Never to go away with us again in the summer time, or to do anything much where men aren’t included. We’ve lost her—and when we lose you, I don’t know what I’ll do!”

“Well, you needn’t worry about that, yet,” laughed Marjorie. “I intend to stay single long enough to finish college, anyway.”

“But you never can tell what a summer will do,” sighed Lily. “Especially when you live in the same city with John Hadley—and see him every day!”

“Which I don’t intend to do. We’re going to be too busy, Lil, to have callers all the time. I want to make five hundred dollars this summer, besides paying back the money we borrow from your father.”

“I hope we do. Now, let’s forget the tea-room for a while, and talk about the wedding. Did you decide upon your dresses?”

“Yes; Mae and I are going to wear pink flowered georgettes, with very pale green hats of plain georgette. And I think Marie Louise is wearing all pale green.”

“And Doris—does she want a train?”

“I suppose so; but I know she can’t have one. I really didn’t hear the particulars about her dress. But what difference does it make—Doris Sands would look lovely in anything!”

“She certainly would,” agreed Lily.

The girls turned to their studies, but both found it hard to concentrate that evening. College, which up to this time had seemed wonderful to Marjorie, appeared dull and uninteresting in comparison with the two great events that loomed before her in the near future. She wished she could skip all the intervening days between then and the first of June, and be about to start on her new venture.

John Hadley’s promised letter, however, did not come so soon as she had expected, and she began to grow impatient of the delay. Each afternoon, after the last mail was in, an overwhelming feeling of despondency would take possession of her at the thought of waiting at least sixteen hours for news.

On the Saturday afternoon following her visit, when she came out of the post-office again empty handed, she began to wonder seriously how she would ever get through Sunday. She walked slowly up to her room and found Lily chatting with Agnes Taylor, another member of the freshman class.

“Marj, what is the matter?” demanded Lily, immediately. “You look as if you had lost your last friend!”

“Not quite so bad as that,” replied her room-mate, making a feeble attempt to smile. “Only I haven’t heard about our tea-house yet, and now there won’t be a mail until Monday morning.”

“What tea-house?” asked Agnes, with interest.

Marjorie explained briefly the scouts’ project for the summer, and concluded by saying that they had a place in mind which a friend of hers was trying to secure for them.

“And I’m so afraid we’re not going to get it—” she was saying, when a sharp knock at the door interrupted her. Lily opened it to find one of the maids holding out a telegram.

“For Miss Marjorie Wilkinson,” she announced.

“Oh!” gasped Marjorie, dashing forward eagerly. “I hope it isn’t bad news.”

Trembling, she tore open the yellow envelope and read the message feverishly. Then a broad smile of content spread over her face.

“Listen, girls!” she cried, exultantly:

“Miss Marjorie Wilkinson:

“Cable rec’d. House yours. Rent free.

“John Hadley.”

“Isn’t that marvellous?”

Marjorie began to execute a happy little dance about the room, every now and then picking up the telegram to re-read the message, and to make sure that it was really true. It was some minutes before the other girls could bring her down to earth and make her talk sensibly. Finally Agnes, who was a Philadelphia girl, asked her the exact location of the house in question, and succeeded in getting a rational reply.

“I believe I know the very house you mean,” she said, after Marjorie had described it and told of its location. “And to whom does it belong?”

“To a young man named Edward Scott—an Oxford student,” replied Marjorie.

“O—oh!” remarked Agnes, very knowingly.

“What’s the matter, Agnes?” demanded Marjorie. “Do you know anything about the place? We haven’t been inside—is it all right?”

“It’s perfectly charming, as far as I know.”

“Then why the mysterious oh?”

Agnes smiled slightly; it was fun to play upon the girls’ curiosity.

“Didn’t four or five people in that family die, one right after the other?” she asked.

“Not four or five—three!” corrected Marjorie. “Why?”

“And they all died in that house?”

“Yes, I guess they did,” admitted Marjorie.

“Oh!” exclaimed Lily, suddenly jumping at the inference. “There’s something peculiar about the house? It’s—haunted?”

“Well, that’s what they say, anyhow. For a while after the owner went abroad, the agent tried to rent the place, I believe, but the story got around—exaggerated, of course—and the prospective tenants were scared off. And then they gave up trying to rent it. You better be careful about sleeping there at night—I understand all the deaths took place in the small hours of the morning.”

“Marj,” said Lily, affected in spite of herself by the story, “don’t you think maybe it would be better to hunt another place?”

“No, certainly not!” laughed Marjorie, greatly amused at the whole idea. “But there is no danger of our sleeping there, for we have a lovely house to live in during the summer.”

If Agnes’s story made any impression upon either of the girls at the time, it was entirely forgotten when the wedding drew near. Indeed, even the tea-room and Daisy’s baby were effaced from Marjorie’s mind by the overpowering importance of this great event.

During the last two weeks of May a number of social events had been planned in Doris’s honor, but Marjorie had been able to attend only a few—those which were scheduled for week-ends; for college activities and studies would not allow her much free time. The one function, however, to which she had been looking forward with as keen anticipation as the wedding itself—the dinner to the bridal party—had been arranged for a time that would be convenient for her.

It was a small affair at Doris’s home, just outside of New York City. Besides Mr. and Mrs. Sands, there were the four girls—Doris, Marie Louise Harris, Mae Van Horn, and Marjorie; the best man—Jack Wilkinson—,the ushers—John Hadley and William Warner; and Roger himself. The party itself was not elaborate; flowers in the center of the table and place-cards at the places were the only decorations. The conversation was gay and light, and yet underneath it all could be perceived the solemnity of the approaching occasion. The most serious step that two young people can take was about to be celebrated.

But though Doris was an only child, and would be greatly missed by her parents, Mr. and Mrs. Sands had evidently decided to allow no parting sadness to spoil the happiness of these days; and, following their example, everyone adopted an exuberant mood. Doris and Roger were happiest of all.

Marjorie sat next to John Hadley, and he seized the first opportunity to speak of the tea-room.

“Mother has no end of plans,” he said; “and she says there’s an awful lot to get ready. So could you girls manage to come to Philadelphia as soon as college closes, and all pitch in and help?”

“I’d love to!” cried Marjorie, her eyes sparkling with anticipation. “And I guess most of the other girls could, too. I don’t think anybody has anything much planned for the first part of June.”

“And bring the capital along, mother said; you ought to keep it in a Philadelphia bank, you know.”

“Naturally. John, do you suppose five hundred dollars will be enough?”

“I don’t think you ought to go in any deeper than that—just for a summer,” replied the young man, gravely. “It would be too much of risk.”

“But can we do it for that?”

“Mother seems to think you can. You can go over it thoroughly with her. And that reminds me, is the baby’s mother still alive?”

“Yes, she had the operation and is still living. And Daisy got a good woman to take care of Betty while she is at school.”

The conversation grew general again, and Marjorie forgot the tea-room temporarily in the gaiety that followed. The rest of the evening was given to dancing; but when the girls separated they reminded each other that their next meeting would be of a very different nature—the solemnization of the marriage ceremony in Doris’s church.

As this was the first wedding among any of her own friends, it was Marjorie’s first opportunity to be a bridesmaid. She kept telling herself that she was not an important person, that no one in the congregation would have eyes for anyone but the bride; yet, as she preceded Marie Louise and Doris down the aisle, she was trembling so that she could hardly walk. She wondered how it would feel to be the bride, to exchange those solemn promises with a man who had once been only a casual acquaintance. She glanced surreptitiously at Doris out of the corner of her eye, but the girl seemed calm and absolutely at her ease; evidently her great happiness had wiped away all her former nervousness.

Marjorie breathed a sigh of relief when the ceremony was finally over, when they had all reached the seclusion of the vestry-room once more, and everybody was kissing and congratulating Doris at once. She was glad too to find the ensuing reception informal; indeed it seemed more like a delightful party at which all her old friends were present than the stately occasion she had been dreading. Doris, too, laughed and talked a great deal, and even made a pretense at eating.

“The really exciting thing,” she said to Marjorie, in an interval after supper, before the dancing began, “is to see who catches my bouquet. I hope it is one of our old bunch.”

“Now, Doris,” remonstrated Marjorie; “we don’t want too many of our girls to get married.”

“Oh, I do!” laughed Doris. “Now, I’m going to stand over the railing and throw it. Please ask Jack to tell everybody to be ready.”

A mad scramble among the girls followed Jack Wilkinson’s announcement, as, almost like children, they crowded about the hall. Doris stood on the stairs, and, closing her eyes, tossed the beautiful bouquet out over the banister. The girls all raised their arms expectantly, but it was Mae Van Horn who grasped it in her outstretched hands. A great shout arose from all the spectators.

“So you’re next!” cried Lily, rapturously. “I’m so glad!” Then, squeezing Marjorie’s arm, she whispered, delightedly, “I so didn’t want it to be you! And as you walked down the aisle on John Hadley’s arm, everybody was making guesses!”

“Oh, Lil!” laughed her chum. “You needn’t worry. The flowers are lovely—but I don’t want them that badly!”


Marjorie, Ethel, and Marie Louise sat on the porch of the latter’s home, awaiting the arrival of the rest of the girls. Alice Endicott would probably come in time for supper, and perhaps Lily Andrews and Florence Evans; but Daisy was delaying her departure until the last moment so that she might spend as long as possible with the baby.

“Do you know I wish Daisy had planned to bring little Betty with her,” remarked Marie Louise. “We could take turns looking after her, and save the money we pay the nurse.”

“We did think of that,” said Marjorie; “but the thing that decided us against it was the baby’s mother. She’s improving right along now, and is able to see Betty on visiting days at the hospital, so it seemed too cruel to take her so far away. And then after awhile Mrs. Trawle may be able to go home and take care of her baby herself.”

“Then our work will be all for nothing?” asked Marie Louise.

“No, indeed! Mrs. Trawle won’t be strong enough to earn any money, if she does live, and will need all the help we can give her.”

“I guess we’re here for the whole summer,” remarked Ethel, settling herself comfortably against the cushions of the hammock. “But I can’t say I’m sorry!” She looked appreciatively towards Marie Louise.

“Well, I’m glad you like it,” returned the latter. “And it’s so nice of you all to take me into your inmost circle.”

The click of the iron gate drew the girls’ attention away from themselves, and they recognized Alice and Florence entering.

“Hello, girls!” cried Alice, half running up the pathway. “I’m that glad to see you!”

“Have you really got a tea-room?” asked Florence, as if she could not believe in the thing till she saw it. “Or are we just here for a good time?”

“Yes to both!” laughed Marjorie. “Wait till you see our tea-house. It can’t be beaten, can it, Marie Louise?”

“It certainly can’t!” agreed the latter, enthusiastically.

“Your house is perfectly lovely, anyhow,” remarked Florence, turning to Marie Louise. “I guess we can stand anything with such a delightful place to come to at night.”

“Don’t be so pessimistic, Flos!” reproved Alice. “It’s going to be the best summer the patrol has ever had!”

“Yes, and I know something nice about tonight, too,” added Ethel.

“What?” demanded Marjorie, eagerly.

“Oh, not that John Hadley expects to drive over and see you—though he does, of course!” replied Ethel. “But something we’ll all enjoy.”

“Chocolate layer cake, I’ll wager!” put in Marie Louise. “I’m sure I smelled one. That reminds me, girls, let’s go out in the kitchen and meet Mrs. Munsen, our housekeeper. She’s been crazy to see you all.”

“Oh, but wait a minute!” pleaded Marjorie. “There’s a car stopping at the gate. It’s probably Lily.”

A moment later the girl ran up the porch steps and greeted them all effusively. Arm in arm they made a tour of the house, visiting the kitchen to make the acquaintance of that motherly person who was to look after them during the coming months; then going on to the second floor to see their bedrooms. Marjorie and Ethel had already selected one together, and Marie Louise still kept her own daintily furnished little boudoir, which she was to share with Lily. Alice and Florence were assigned to the front room, usually occupied by Mr. and Mrs. Harris, and so the remaining one was left for Daisy.

It was only when they were all seated at the supper table that the new-comers began to ask all sorts of questions about the tea-house, which Marjorie and Marie Louise did their best to answer.

“Are we going down to inspect it tonight?” inquired Alice, who had shown perhaps the most animated interest.

“Mercy no!” cried Lily. “Don’t forget the ghost Agnes Taylor told us about!”

“What ghost?” demanded two or three girls at once.

“Oh, there’s nothing to it!” replied Marjorie, contemptuously. “Just because two or three deaths occurred in the house, somebody has to invent the story that the place is haunted.”

“And the ghost comes out only at night,” added Lily, in spite of what Marjorie had just said.

“Then I take it we’re not going down tonight?” asked Alice.

“No, we’re not,” replied Marjorie. “But that isn’t the reason; it’s because we all need to rest. Then tomorrow we’ll begin in dead earnest. We’re to meet Mrs. Hadley there at ten o’clock.”

“I’d laugh if we didn’t have enough money to equip it,” remarked Florence, cynically.

“Don’t worry—we’ll manage somehow!” replied Marjorie. “Now, Ethel, tell us what you meant about that surprise—the one you spoke of before supper!”

“What surprise?” demanded Lily.

Ethel smiled mysteriously; it was fun to tease these girls because they always responded so readily.

“Oh, I’m not going to tell you—it wouldn’t be a surprise then.” She exchanged glances meaningly with Mrs. Munsen, who sat at the head of the table, and who was evidently in the secret.

“Just give us a hint, then!” begged Alice.

“Well, then—I advise that nobody go to bed before—say half-past eight! You might miss some fun!”

“Don’t count much on me,” remarked Marjorie, with a great display of indifference. “I have to go over some work with Mrs. Hadley, before our big Council of War tomorrow.”

“Just as you like!” replied Ethel, adopting the same tone.

After supper the girls scattered in all directions. Marjorie settled herself at the desk in the living-room to go over some accounts; Alice and Florence lingered in the dining-room to help Mrs. Munsen to clear away the supper; Lily departed to take her roadster to a public garage for the night; and Marie Louise and Ethel went out to sit on the porch.

“We’re the only lazy ones in the whole bunch,” remarked Ethel, as she selected a magazine from the wicker table and sank into a cushioned seat beside it; “but if they only knew it, they aren’t going to work long!”

“Ethel, what do you mean?” asked her companion, as she unwound some tatting from a shuttle she took from her pocket. “Please tell me! I won’t breathe it to a soul!”

“Well, we’re going to have some company this evening! Besides the Hadleys, I mean!”

“Oh, now you just have to tell me who! I’m awfully curious. It couldn’t be Roger and Doris—no—they’d have let me know if they had changed their plans about coming home.”

“It isn’t Roger and Doris! But that’s all you’ll get out of me! Now, Marie Louise, be a good girl and let me read my story. It’s a continued one, and this is the last installment.”

By exerting a huge amount of self-control, Marie Louise managed to refrain from asking further questions until Ethel announced that she was finished, and that the growing twilight would prevent her from starting another story.

“Now will you tell me?” asked the younger girl, laying aside her fancy work.

“I don’t need to!” laughed Ethel. “The surprise—or part of it—is arriving already!” Nevertheless, she whispered something illuminating in the other girl’s ear.

At that moment a young man approached the gate, and was opening it while Ethel was speaking. Marie Louise regarded him intently, anxious to identify him, in spite of the diminishing light. But she did not think she had ever seen him before.

“Dick Roberts!” exclaimed a voice from the doorway; and as the young man mounted the steps, Lily, who had been up in her room ever since her return from the garage, stepped out on the porch. Smilingly she introduced him to Marie Louise.

“So this is the surprise you mentioned at supper!” she observed to Ethel. “But when did you two see each other?”

“We didn’t!” laughed Dick, with a significant look at Ethel.

“Will you excuse me, Lily, for a few minutes?” asked Ethel, as the young people seated themselves. “I have a little matter to look after—and you might help me, Marie Louise.”

“Oh, stay!” urged Lily, thinking the excuse was only perfunctory.

“No, really—thanks—but this is important,” said Ethel. “I’m sorry—but I’ll see you later.”

As soon as she was inside the door, she told Marie Louise why she wanted to go.

“I want to go tease Marj,” she whispered. “She pretended to be so indifferent about seeing John, or having company!”

They walked into the sitting-room, and found her still at her desk.

“Who’s out there on the porch?” asked Marjorie, immediately.

“Just a friend of Lily’s,” replied Ethel, provokingly.

“Not John Hadley?”


“That must be he now!” cried Marjorie, jumping up. “I hear voices and steps on the porch.”

Ethel and Marie Louise stood in full sight of the door, and enjoyed Marjorie’s consternation as she rushed forward only to be greeted by two strange young men.

“Is Miss Endicott in?” asked the taller, older one of the two.

“Yes, indeed!” replied Marjorie, taking the card which was extended towards her. “Won’t you come in and sit down?”

“And Miss Evans?” asked the other, also producing a card.

Ethel and Marie Louise had managed to remain concealed in the sitting—room while they were witnessing the situation, and only with a supreme effort stifled the giggles which Marjorie’s perplexity aroused. By the time Alice and Florence had appeared to greet the young men, the other three girls had vanished into the dining-room.

“So this is your surprise!” remarked Marjorie. “Well, it’s very nice—for them. I suppose Mrs. Hadley and I will have to have our conference in the dining-room.”

“Oh, your conference can wait!” replied Ethel, unconcernedly.

“There they are now!” interrupted Marjorie, at the sound of the door-bell. “I’ll go let them in.”

But Marjorie was to receive one more surprise before the Hadleys arrived. The person whom she least expected to see stood before her: her own Brother Jack! Another young man, whom she immediately recognized as William Warner of the wedding party, was with him.

“Jack! Whatever are you doing in Philadelphia?” she gasped.

“I have a job here—so I’ll be near you all summer!” he answered.

“But what is the idea?”

“John Hadley and I had a little scheme to work out—you’ll hear all about it later.”

In another moment John and his mother stepped up on the porch, and Marjorie realized that the gathering, which was no matter of coincidence, but a carefully planned party, was complete. She directed the company into the sitting-room and started the victrola.

“This is to be your formal house-warming!” announced John, when the young people were all together. “A real party—with eats, and dancing, and all. But before the fun begins, Jack and I want to tell you about a little plan we have up our sleeve.”

“Go on!” urged Marjorie, eagerly. “I’m prepared for surprises this evening.”

“Well, it’s simply this,” explained John. “We fellows knew your capital is pretty limited, and we knew too how high labor is. So we figured if you girls could come down here two weeks earlier and do most of the preparation yourselves, you might use some of our help.

“So we fellows—and by the way, Roger is in on this—are banded together to do whatever you want the next two weeks. Our time, whenever we can get away from our jobs, is at your disposal; also my luxurious car—my—er—a—Ford!”

“Oh, it’s too wonderful!” cried Marjorie. “Everybody seems to help us—first Mr. Scott, then Mr. Andrews, Marie Louise and her family—and now you people! How can we ever thank you?”

“By starting the dancing immediately,” replied Jack, practically. “Marie Louise, I claim your first dance.”

And for the rest of the evening Marjorie and all the other girls put aside their responsibilities.


The Scott house was a scene of great activity on the morning following the party. John Hadley, who took upon himself to assume the leadership of the boys, and Jack Wilkinson, an able lieutenant, had put their heads together on the way home the night before. Before taking leave of the other boys, John cautioned them to get excused from work—it was Saturday, and a half holiday—and to be on hand early. “Wear your old clothes,” he warned them. Having the keys in their possession, he and Jack accompanied by Mrs. Hadley, were the first to arrive. Like a good commander, John had planned ahead—in his Ford he had a collection of buckets, scrub-brushes, brooms, and other implements with which to give the place a thorough scouring. The other boys, arriving soon after, and seeing the array of implements lined upon the porch, realized that they had not come to play.

Consequently, when the girls came to the scene of action in Lily’s car about an hour later, they found the work progressing rapidly under the direction of Mrs. Hadley. The windows all over the house were open wide to admit the air and sunshine. A medley of sounds greeted their ears: singing, whistling, the boys’ voices calling back and forth in the empty house. But over all the swish of the broom and the scrub-brush predominated.

The appearance of the girls caused a momentary cessation in the work. John and Jack, who had been removing the barricade of boards from the lower windows and doors and were storing them in the stable, came around to the front of the house; boys’ heads appeared at the windows here and there. And when Marjorie, who was the first out of the car, ran up the porch steps, Mrs. Hadley stepped from the doorway to welcome her. Looking inside, the girl saw the two new boys, Pierce Ellison and Eugene Schofield, grinning out at her, their hands laden with soap, cleaning rags, and scrub-brushes.

“Behold! The Gold Dust Twins!” cried Lily.

“But you have progressed marvellously!” exclaimed Marjorie.

“Regular Brownies, cleaning up while we slept,” said Ethel.

“Girls, before we do another thing, let’s go on a tour of inspection,” suggested Marjorie. “I want to see everything.”

So they went about examining the house, while the boys went back to work again.

The double doors opened upon a wide central hallway, from which the stairway in the rear led to the apartments above; on each side was a large, high-ceilinged room, with windows extending to the floor, and a fire-place in the corner.

“We must certainly take this room on the left, with the side entrance from the garden, for the tea-room,” remarked Marjorie. “The lay-out could not be more suitable. Evidently the Scotts used it for their dining-room, for here is a breakfast room and kitchen adjoining. We could fix up the living-room as a sort of rest-room, where people could sit for awhile after having tea.”

When they passed into the kitchen they examined everything with close attention, almost as if they were practiced housekeepers.

“Isn’t it lucky to find a gas stove!” cried Ethel joyfully. “Of course it’s fearfully dirty—”

“But the boys can clean it!” laughed Florence. “Isn’t that what you were thinking?”

“Yes, I guess it was,” admitted the other.

“But don’t you wish they had left us some pots and pans!” sighed Lily, surveying the empty closet in dismay.

“No, because they’d be terribly rusty,” replied Marjorie. “But I tell you what I do wish—that Doris were home to help us. She could give us so many suggestions—and tell us about prices.”

“I can tell you that much!” remarked Florence. “They’re out of sight!”

“You’re always so optimistic, Flos!” said Alice.

The girls stepped out on the back porch for a minute, and then, returning through the hall, took a peep at the cellar. But it appeared dark and forbidding.

“That must be where the ghost lives!” remarked Marie Louise, with a shudder. “Don’t let’s go down!”

“Just as you say!” laughed Marjorie. “Now for the upstairs.”

After a brief inspection of the second floor they returned to Mrs. Hadley who was waiting for them on the porch, with her notebook in hand. They all grouped themselves about her on the steps.

“Do you like it?” she asked, smiling into their enthusiastic faces.

“Adore it!” cried Marjorie, feeling that no words could be too superlative. “And when it gets fixed up—”

“Well, that is what we’re here for!” replied Mrs. Hadley. “Now let’s get down to business. First of all, I think you ought to elect a treasurer—”

“Oh, we wouldn’t consider anybody but Marj!” interrupted Lily. “Isn’t that so, girls?”

“It certainly is!” shouted two or three at the same time.

“Then that’s settled,” said the older woman. “I do hope you dispose of everything as quickly.”

“We will!” returned Alice. “Just watch us!”

“Well, I have jotted down the things to be considered, and I thought we might give one responsibility to each girl—and vote her so much money. The biggest job of course is furnishing—and dishes; then there is decoration—menus, and sign, and so forth; then hiring a cook and getting the gas and electricity turned on; then advertising; and finally, buying the food and supplies. Can anybody think of anything else?”

“I certainly think you have covered everything,” said Marjorie, admiringly. “Now—do you think five hundred dollars will be enough?”

Mrs. Hadley did not answer immediately, and the girls waited nervously for her opinion.

“It will have to be,” she said. “In fact, four hundred will have to be enough, because you ought to keep a hundred in bank, to run on.”

“But everything is so dreadfully expensive!” Florence reminded them again.

“How many rooms do you plan to furnish?” asked Mrs. Hadley.

“The porch and dining-room with tables and chairs, and the rest-room with wicker furniture and grass rugs,” said Marjorie.

“And that,” observed Ethel, “could use up the four hundred alone!”

“Oh, no!” objected Marjorie. “Surely not! We’ll shop around.”

“A good shingle is expensive, too,” observed Mrs. Hadley. “At least, if it is painted to order.”

“I think I could do that!” offered Marie Louise, shyly. “Provided one of the boys would cut out the wood for me.”

“John will,” said Marjorie. “He loves to do work like that.”

“And you could paint the menu cards, too, couldn’t you?” asked Ethel. “It’s wonderful to have an artist in the crowd, isn’t it?”

They talked for awhile longer, apportioning the duties and the money, but deciding to do nothing about making purchases until Monday morning; for, as Mrs. Hadley reminded them, Saturday was an unsatisfactory day to shop. She herself promised to interview a cook—a girl named Anna Benton—that afternoon; for she wanted to secure her immediately before someone else captured her. And, as she assured them, this girl was just the person they wanted.

They found plenty to do over the week-end, and enjoyed some delightful rides in both Lily’s and John’s machines, but Marjorie was glad when Monday morning came, that she might go into her work in earnest. She and Ethel had been delegated to purchase the furniture, and for this purpose had been assigned the sum of two hundred dollars. It seemed like a fortune to Marjorie.

“It would be nice if we didn’t have to use it all,” remarked Marjorie, as they entered one of the large department stores; “so that we could save some for flowers. I love to see them in a tea-room.”

“Yes, so do I,” agreed Ethel. “And the boys promised to take care of the garden if we get it started.”

“What’s the idea for the tea-room furniture?” asked Marjorie.

“Oh, painted, of course! Some light color—with flower decorations, if possible.”

“It would be nice if we could get pansies,” remarked Marjorie. “Especially since it’s to be called ‘Pansy Tea-Room,’ and Marie Louise is using them on her shingle and her menu cards.”

The girls went happily in search of the furniture department, and, upon locating it, stepped confidently up to a salesman. He showed them charming little breakfast sets of cream, and gray, and canary, decorated with dainty bouquets and flower baskets; and both girls exclaimed in delight. Marjorie was in the act of counting up how many sets they would need, when Ethel casually asked the price. To her utter dismay they heard that one set alone would cost more than they had planned to spend upon the entire furnishings.

“I am afraid it is too expensive,” Marjorie murmured in confusion to the clerk. “We—shall have to look elsewhere.”

When they turned away she was almost in tears.

“Don’t worry, Marj!” said Ethel, reassuringly. “This is one of the most expensive shops in town. We’ll try some place cheaper.”

But though they went from place to place, examining furniture of cheaper grade, they could not find anything to fit in with their pocket-book. At last, dismayed and dejected, they returned to the house. They found Marie Louise designing menu cards at the wicker table on the porch.

“Did you buy the stores out?” she asked, cheerily. “Because Lily and Florence did. I wish you’d see the stuff they brought home in Lily’s car from the five-and-ten-cent store!”

“No,” said Marjorie; “we didn’t buy a single thing!”

“Remarkable girls!” exclaimed Marie Louise. “I don’t know any other girls who could go shopping with two hundred dollars and not spend a cent!”

“We couldn’t find anything cheap enough!” sighed Ethel, dismally.

Marie Louise put down her pencil, and looked about the porch for a minute. Suddenly she was seized with an inspiration.

“I have it, girls!” she cried joyfully. “We didn’t go to an artist for our sign, and pay artists’ prices; we didn’t hire an expensive house-cleaning establishment to put our house in order; we’re not going to engage professional waitresses at big wages—we do all those things ourselves! Why not apply the same principle to the furniture?”

Marjorie regarded Marie Louise in utter amazement. Her suggestion did not sound sensible.

“But we can’t make furniture!” she protested.

“We can buy a cheap grade from a manufacturer, and finish and decorate it ourselves,” explained Marie Louise. “I know how to do it—we studied the method at school. And I’m sure our crew of boys would help in the evenings. As for the rest-room furniture, why not use this from the porch? Nobody would mind doing without it for the summer.”

“Wouldn’t your mother object to our using it?” asked Ethel.

“No, I’m sure she wouldn’t, for we could be careful. Now cheer up! We’ll get the boys on the telephone and have them come over to plan everything.”

Acting upon the suggestion of Marie Louise, they set out the next day to search for a furniture manufacturer. This time the artist went with Marjorie and Ethel. They were able to procure small round tables at eight dollars each, and good looking chairs at three dollars. They were plain, but substantially built, and had what Marie Louise called “good lines.” So they went home happy, having bought six tables and twenty-four chairs, and one extra oblong table, costing ten dollars, to be used as a serving-table.

“Now, Marie Louise,” said Marjorie, “it’s up to you to see that they get fixed up.”

“Don’t worry about that,” replied the other girl. “This is right in my line. I’m going to get more fun out of the old tea-house than I expected.”

“Well, we got more furniture than I ever thought we would,” said Ethel, “and we’ve spent only a hundred and thirty of the two hundred dollars. That’s seventy dollars to the good on this item, Marj.”

“The paint must come out of that yet,” reminded Marie Louise. “But that won’t cost much.”

The days that followed were even busier for the girls than they had anticipated. For the rest of the week the place reeked with the odor of the successive coats of paint which they applied to the furniture. Under the direction of Marie Louise, they finished it in a pale cream-colored enamel, and she decorated it with a charming pansy design. It was work they enjoyed doing; for they took great pride in seeing the bare, unfinished pieces being converted into furniture as beautiful as any they had seen in the shops.

Mrs. Hadley and Ethel made scrim curtains for the windows; and John, poking about one day in the cellar, found a full set of made-to-order screens for the doors and windows, which he freshened up with paint and put in place. He also procured two boards which he cut in the shape of tea-kettles, and which Marie Louise painted and decorated with a large pansy in the center of each, and lettered to read:


John planted two posts outside the hedge by each entrance of the drive and hung the signs in conspicuous positions.

By the time that the two weeks of preparation were up, the outside of the place presented the well-kept appearance of a beautiful home, and inside was cozy and charming. Both the girls and the boys had enjoyed the work, and were pleased with the results. Indeed, they felt sorry for Daisy Gravers, who arrived after everything was in readiness for the opening day.

The good news that she brought with her added another drop to their already brimming cup of happiness. Mrs. Trawle, the baby’s mother, was out of the hospital now, and able to take care of little Betty herself, though not yet strong enough to earn any money towards their support. And so the scouts faced their opening day with only one anxiety: the fear that the tea-room would not have the patronage they hoped for, that it would not warrant their expenditure of the four hundred dollars they had borrowed. But in this, as in all of their other undertakings, they lived up to the law that a Girl Scout is cheerful, and hoped for the best.


It was the opening day of the tea-house, and Marjorie awakened early and ran to the window to see whether the sun was rising. All night she had been dreaming of dark, rainy weather and a gloomy, unsuccessful beginning; perhaps this sense of anxiety was the cause of her early awakening. She almost laughed out loud when she saw the glowing light over the tree-tops in the east.

“Ethel!” she cried exultantly to her companion. “Do wake up! We’re going to have a perfect day to start!”

The other girl opened her eyes sleepily and looked across at Marjorie.

“Oh, dear! We do have to begin work today, don’t we?” she remarked, making no attempt to suppress a yawn.

“I should say we do! Aren’t you thrilled? Oh, Ethel, do you suppose any people will come in?”

“Of course,” replied the other, in a matter-of-fact tone. “Don’t forget Marie Louise’s sign.”

“Yes, they can’t help seeing that. And don’t you really think that if they come once they’ll be back again?”

“Yes, Marjorie—for the fiftieth time—yes!”

Marjorie laughed good-naturedly at Ethel’s teasing, and both girls started to dress. They entered the dining-room long before breakfast was ready; in fact, Mrs. Munsen and Florence, who was helping her that day, were only taking in the milk bottles.

“Go out and get some flowers for the table, girls,” suggested the housekeeper, evidently not too anxious to have so many in the kitchen at once. “There are some lovely roses over near the fence.”

Marjorie was only too delighted to go upon so pleasant an errand, and skipped joyfully out of the door, with Ethel following her in a more sedate manner.

“And just what is our menu going to be today?” asked the older girl, as she began to cut some roses.

“Sandwiches, iced and hot tea, ice-cream, and cake,” replied Marjorie. “But I hope we can branch out to more elaborate things later on.”

“Still, that will probably keep us busy. And what is the schedule for work?”

“Alice, Daisy and I are to help Anna prepare things this morning; Marie Louise, Florence and you serve this afternoon; and Lily and I go on at supper until closing time.”

“And then somebody will have to buy the stuff for tomorrow,” added Ethel, a little wearied by the thought of so much housekeeping.

“Yes, I hope we sell so much that we have to buy more supplies,” laughed Marjorie. “But that’s easy to do over the telephone.”

The girls lingered so long out in the garden that when they returned breakfast was almost ready. Most of their companions were strolling about the porch, but Lily and Marie Louise had not yet put in an appearance.

“It’s a bad idea to let those two sleepy-heads room together,” remarked Marjorie, as the breakfast bell rang. “I suppose I’ll have to go rout them out!”

“No, you won’t, either!” cried a voice from the stairs, and, looking up, the girls saw the late-comers descending, buttoning their dresses as they approached.

The talk at the breakfast table was of little else than the tea-house; even the boys, and the good times they had been having were forgotten. Everyone felt optimistic; with such a day, such a menu, such workers, the opening could not be anything but a success. It was Lily who first introduced a discordant note into the conversation.

“Marj, you said you and I were on as waitresses after six o’clock. Shall we be alone?”

“Oh, no,” replied Marjorie. “Anna will stay until we go, if we want her to.”

“But she isn’t going to sleep there?” asked the other, with concern.

“No—though really it wouldn’t be a bad place to sleep, you know. Only that we have no beds, except the two army cots.”

“I don’t want anybody to take a chance after that story Agnes told us,” said Lily. “So don’t you think you ought to warn Anna?”

Several of the others laughed aloud at her fears, but Daisy and Mrs. Munsen took the matter more seriously.

“It isn’t well to fool with such things,” said the older woman. “Not that I actually believe in ghosts, but there may be some power—perhaps human power—that works for evil in that house. But I don’t think I would scare Anna by telling her.”

“Mercy no!” cried Marjorie. “She’d leave us, and then where would we be? No, girls, let’s make up our minds to forget it—it’s all silly, anyhow. Imagine how the boys would laugh at such nonsense!”

“All right!” agreed Lily, obediently, “I’ll promise to face the music in silence—even if I am to be the first to serve night duty this evening.”

“Till half-past seven in the evening isn’t ‘night duty’!” protested Marjorie. “And by the way, John said he would drive down and get us, so you needn’t be afraid.”

“Oh!” remarked Lily, with a significant look at her chum. “Is this ‘John Business’ going to be an every-day matter?”

“Now, listen, Lil; you’re a poor one to tease,” retorted Marjorie; “when you were the first girl in this house to have a caller!”

“The first, but not the last!” laughed Lily, triumphantly.

“Well, I thought it would be nice to have John’s help tonight, for I hope our day is going to be so strenuous that we’ll all be very tired. It will save you the trouble of taking your car back to the garage after you come home. And by the way, girls, will you all jot down any suggestions that you think of during the day in that notebook in the desk at the tea-house? And whoever is there last each night, must take a careful inventory of the supplies left on hand!”

“Marj,” said Alice, admiringly, as she started to clear the table, “you certainly are some executive! I wouldn’t be surprised to see you president of the United States some day.”

“Thanks, Alice—but I don’t aspire to the job. I prefer something easier.”

“The president’s wife?” suggested Lily, in the same bantering tone.

“I see,” said Marjorie, solemnly, “that we shall have to institute some system of kitchen police as punishment for too much frivolity. I had thought it would not be necessary with girls of our age and responsibility, but I guess I will have to install it in self-defense.”

“It seems to me,” remarked Lily, archly, “that some people do a lot of bossing!”

“I guess I was made a lawful lieutenant last summer!” returned Marjorie, haughtily.

“I guess I’m a scout lieutenant, too!” laughed Lily. “Don’t forget our little troop at college!”

“Girls!” interrupted Florence, “if you don’t stop fooling and get out of our way, we’ll make you both serve as kitchen police!”

This speech had the desired effect, and both girls rose hastily and pushed back their chairs. A few minutes later, Marjorie started for the tea-house.

The girls found Anna already at work in the kitchen, and, tying on their big gingham aprons that hung there in a row, they plunged right into their duties. The task proved to be so pleasant, amid such congenial companionship, that the morning was gone almost before they realized it. Marjorie went into the front room, and then out to the porch, surveying the effect with satisfaction.

“It does look lovely!” she commented, out loud. “Those pansies add just the right touch—Oh, if we only have some people!”

“And just think,” remarked Alice, as she drew off her gingham apron, “that we shan’t know until supper time, what success the girls have!”

“Oh, I’ll know!” announced Marjorie. “You don’t suppose I’d be able to stand that suspense all afternoon?”

“You mean you’re coming down—to work?” asked Daisy. “You’ll be dead, Marj, if you expect to go at a pace like that!”

“Well, I can’t help it today! I’d be miserable away from here. I’ve just got to come!”

When she declared her intention at luncheon, the other girls denounced it with equal ardor. But Marjorie was not to be desisted.

“We may have so many guests that you need an extra waitress,” she said.

“I hope so,” replied Ethel. “But don’t set your hopes too high, Marj. We really can’t tell by the first day.”

Long before the clock struck two, which time the girls had agreed upon for the opening, the four waitresses, in their linen dresses and stiffly starched white aprons, stood at the windows of the tea-house, watching for their guests to arrive. They talked and laughed a great deal, joking often about the crowds they expected, and speculating as to where they would seat them all. For an hour or more automobiles continued to go by, one after another, without stopping, but no one allowed herself to express any concern. They all acted as if they felt sure that business would improve.

As four o’clock approached, Marjorie reassured the others by telling them that now people would undoubtedly come in.

“Philadelphians are too fashionable to drink tea at the wrong hour, aren’t they, Marie Louise?” she asked.

“Yes, indeed!” agreed the girl, heartily. Then, as if to forestall despondency for the next hour, she added, “And they seldom have it before five.”

With characteristic self-control, Marjorie was able to appear outwardly calm during this sickening time of waiting; but inwardly she was growing increasingly nervous. When five o’clock passed and still no one had come, she was ready to surrender to despair. Suddenly the sound of a machine in the driveway made her heart beat wildly with excitement. Breathlessly, she rushed to the window.

“Our luck’s changed!” cried Ethel, triumphantly. “Our first patron is coming!”

“Oh, it’s wonderful!” gasped Marjorie. “But do come away from the window, girls! We mustn’t appear curious.”

“Right you are, Marj!” agreed Marie Louise, stationing herself behind a chair, and adopting the correct attitude of a waitress.

Then the door opened and two girls stepped into the room. A second later, everyone broke into hilarious laughter: the guests were Alice and Lily!

“Oh, you wicked, wicked girls!” cried Marjorie. “If you knew how you’ve raised our hopes—”

“But we’re here as patrons!” protested Lily, holding up her purse for inspection. “And I guess our money’s as good as anybody else’s!”

“And you really did save the day by giving us a good laugh,” observed Ethel. “Now, then—” she assumed a professional manner—“what would you ladies care to have?”

“Sandwiches, ice-tea, ice-cream, and chocolate cake!” replied Lily, in one breath. “I intend to stay here—not go home for supper—because we go on duty at six, you know.”

“Yes, so we do,” agreed Marjorie.

“You take off your apron and come eat with me, Marj!” urged Lily, and the other decided to comply with her request.

While they were thus occupied, their first real guests finally arrived. A large machine drove up behind Lily’s, and a party of six girls got out. They proved to be Agnes Taylor and five of her friends.

They sat down at the tables, and, while they were waiting to be served, admired everything extravagantly. Agnes promised to talk the enterprise up among her friends.

“Then the ghost didn’t scare you away, did it?” she asked, laughingly.

“Sh!” warned Marjorie. “We don’t want to scare our cook—she’s too good to lose! So please don’t talk about it.”

“Oh, there’s really no danger,” said Agnes, rather seriously, “unless somebody sleeps here. I guess nothing would happen in broad daylight. Ghosts only come at night, don’t they?”

Several of the girls smiled at the conversation, though one or two were nevertheless impressed by it.

“I’m going to prove that’s nonsense before the summer’s over,” replied Marjorie.

“How?” demanded Agnes.

“By staying here myself!” she answered, confidently.

“You’d better not!” warned Agnes, shaking her head.

It was six o’clock now, and all the girls except Marjorie and Lily were preparing to leave. The latter insisted that Ethel drive her car home, for she would be able to go back with John Hadley.

As soon as they had gone, Marjorie told Anna that she too might leave. Then she and Lily went out on the porch to wait and to hope for new arrivals. Again they were rewarded, this time by a pedestrian,—an elderly man—with a dog. Instantly the girls were all courteous attention.

“Could I have a little supper, ladies?” he inquired, politely.

Marjorie directed him to a table by the window, and handed him the menu. When she went out to fill his order, he turned to Lily.

“This is not my dog,” he remarked; “just a stray one that followed me, but he seems hungry. I wonder whether you have some crusts—”

“Yes, indeed!” replied Lily.

She called the poor scrawny animal into the kitchen, and gave him what to him was no doubt a feast. When she returned, the stranger thanked her profusely.

“I understand that you have just opened the tea-house?” he remarked, as he ate his supper.

“Yes,” replied Marjorie. “We are Girl Scouts, and we are doing it for charity.”

“Very good! Very good!” murmured the old man. “The house is familiar to me—I used to know Mr. Scott before he died.”

“Indeed!” remarked Lily.

“I suppose you’ve heard tales about its being haunted, and all that,” he continued. “Just because of so many deaths, I suppose. I did know a man, however, who wanted to put the saying to a test—that no creature can live through a night here—and he left his horse in the stable, not very long ago.”

“And what happened?” demanded Lily, her eyes bright with excitement.

The old man fingered his spoon for a moment before replying. He had not intended to frighten the girls.

“It was dead in the morning!”

“Oh, it must have been sick when it came,” said Marjorie, lightly; but she noticed that in spite of herself Lily had been impressed.

The sun was setting, and after the old man left, with a promise to come back often, the girls began to get ready to leave. A little after seven they heard the welcome rattle of John’s Ford in the drive.

“What shall we do with the dog?” asked Lily, as she bent to lock the door.

“Let him sleep in the stable if he wants to,” replied Marjorie. “He will be a sort of protection.”

“And we can test out the ghost theory!” added Lily. “If he’s alive tomorrow morning, I’ll promise never to mention it again!”

“Good!” cried Marjorie, with satisfaction.


It was Marjorie’s turn to work in the afternoon the following day, so she decided to sleep late in the morning, in order to rest from the excitement of the previous day. Not desiring any breakfast, she was still in bed at ten o’clock when Marie Louise burst into her room with a startling piece of news.

“Marj!” she cried, breathlessly, “your little dog is dead!”

“What little dog?” demanded Marjorie, entirely forgetting the stray animal that had come to the tea-house with the stranger.

“That little dog you fed yesterday, and allowed to sleep in the garage!”

“What’s that?” asked Marjorie, recalling the creature vaguely. “Tell me about it.”

Marie Louise sat down on the bed and made a great effort to speak calmly.

“Well, you know Lily and Florence and I were scheduled to be down at the tea-house this morning to make sandwiches, and Lily decided to go get the car at the garage. While she was waiting for the man to finish washing it, a dog came in, and that reminded her of the little stray one that came to you yesterday.”

“Yes—yes—go on!” urged Marjorie. “It wasn’t the same dog, was it?”

“Oh, no indeed! But she told us the story of the old man, and the dog he picked up, and his weird tale about the horse.”

“I’m glad she told you before you got to the tea-house where Anna could hear!” remarked Marjorie. “If you girls scare her away with all this rubbish—”

“But it isn’t rubbish, Marjorie!” interrupted Marie Louise. “When we got to the tea-house, Lily suggested that we go out to the garage just for fun to see whether the dog was still there—or whether anything had happened to him. And, as I said before, we found him dead!”

“Really?” asked Marjorie, incredulously. “Had he been shot, or hurt in any way?”

“No, we looked closely, and we couldn’t find a single mark on his body. He must have died of heart failure!”

“Poor little fellow!” murmured Marjorie. “Well, I’m glad he got one good square meal before he died.”

“Marj,” asked Marie Louise in surprise, “aren’t you concerned with the reason for his death?”

“I can pretty well guess it,” replied the other, lightly. “He probably was starving when he came to us yesterday, and then all that food was just about too much for his stomach—all at once. We ought to have had better sense, and fed him more gradually. But he seemed to enjoy it so!”

“Marj, look me straight in the eyes and tell me you don’t believe there was any other reason for his death!”

Marjorie smilingly acquiesced; she really was sincere in her refusal to attach any significance to the incident.

“I honestly don’t believe one word of all that supernatural stuff!” she said, with assurance. “Now—what did you do with the dog?”

“Left him there, of course. Wouldn’t one of the boys come and bury him?”

“Yes, I guess Jack could run over during his noon hour, if I phoned him. But tell me, Marie Louise, how much of this does Anna know?”

“Not a single word of it! We knew that you would be anxious to keep it from her, so we didn’t say a thing about the ghost story. Of course she knows the little dog is dead.”

“Naturally,” observed Marjorie.

Sleep was out of the question now, so, after persuading Marie Louise to return to her work at the tea-house, Marjorie thoughtfully began to dress. She did not for one moment share the other girl’s fears in regard to the little creature’s death, but she could not help wondering at the coincidence. It was too bad, she thought, that it had to happen, for it would make Lily and Marie Louise and all of the timid girls more timid. She longed to make some experiment, to prove to them that there was nothing to it, and yet she did not know what to do. For obvious other reasons it would not be safe for her to stay there alone all night—in a house so near a public highway, where automobiles passed by with such frequency. And yet she knew of no other way to prove the harmlessness of the place to the girls.

At the end of that day—a day more successful in every way than the preceding one,—she talked the matter over with John Hadley, and decided to do nothing at all. He was naturally of the same opinion as she was, that the thing was merely one of those strange coincidences which so often occur, and did not consider it worth any notice. The affair would blow over more quickly, he said, if ignored; in the busy days that the girls had before them, they would not have time to worry over such silly matters. And so the thing was dropped—for the time being.

By the time that two weeks had passed, each day bringing more and more patrons to the tea-house, and thus demanding more work from the girls, most of them had forgotten the little incident of the dog’s death, and the stories which were associated with the place. On one occasion, several of the girls drove there with John Hadley after dark, but they found the house exactly like other houses, and laughed at their former superstitions. Had it not been for Anna, who came to Marjorie one day with a request, the matter might have been dropped for the rest of the summer.

It was one morning in the first week of July that Marjorie, coming to the tea-house early, found the girl busily mixing one of those maple cakes for which they had already become famous. She looked up smilingly as she saw Marjorie enter the kitchen alone.

“Good morning, Miss Wilkinson,” she said, cheerily. “I am glad to see you by yourself, because I want to ask you a favor. Could our crowd of girls have the loan of this house next Saturday night for a party for our friends? Of course we’d clean up afterwards, and not disturb anything.”

Marjorie hesitated a moment, in doubt as to the right thing to do. It was not that she did not want Anna to use the house—there was no reason in the world why her faithful service should not be rewarded—but she wondered whether an evening affair of this sort would look well for the tea-house. People were so critical; they might not believe that the party was an innocent one.

“Would you have a chaperone or two, Anna?” she asked.

“Oh, yes, of course—if you wanted us to. My aunt was coming anyhow, and perhaps Mrs. Munsen would help us out.”

“I’m sure she would,” said Marjorie. “All right, then, I’m perfectly willing. But we couldn’t very well close the tea-house early that evening—Saturday night’s a rather important one, you know.”

“Oh, there will be plenty of time!” said Anna. “We wouldn’t want to start the party before nine o’clock—or even half-past. Thanks so much, Miss Wilkinson.”

When Marjorie related the incident at lunch time, it instantly brought to the girls’ minds the stories connected with the tea-house.

“Maybe we’ll find out whether there’s anything to them,” remarked Lily.

“No, we can’t, either!” said Marie Louise. “Because, don’t you remember, it’s early morning—just before dawn—when the ghost is supposed to walk. And the party will be over before then.”

“Let us hope so!” put in Mrs. Munsen. “As long as I’m to be a chaperone, I’d like to get in bed before morning.”

“Oh, the party will have to break up at midnight,” said Marjorie. “It wouldn’t look well for the tea-house to have it last late. You see everybody knows it is run by Girl Scouts—and that we’re not very old—”

“Mere babies!” laughed Alice.

“You mean for a baby!” corrected Daisy. “I don’t want you to forget Betty!”

“We aren’t likely to, with you around,” teased Florence. “By the way, I had a letter from mother and she wrote that she went to see Mrs. Trawle. Everything’s fine, she says, very neat and clean, and the baby’s growing beautifully.”

“Then our work is really worth while, isn’t it?” asked Alice.

“Yes, I think so,” said Marjorie; “I know the cause is worth while, but I can tell you better later on whether we are actually making money. It’s hard to judge so soon—after so big an outlay.”

She looked a little anxious as she spoke, and Lily, who could always read her chum’s face like a book, wondered whether she were not more worried over the proposition that she let the others see.

“Well, we’re having a good time, anyway!” she remarked, gaily. “And we should worry whether dad ever gets his five hundred back!”

“Oh, Lil!” said Marjorie, reproachfully. “You know we’d never do that!”

Lily, however, was not satisfied by Marjorie’s manner, and noticed that she asked frequently for her car, so that she might do her marketing at the more economical stores, and spent more and more time each evening over her accounts. John, too, found her unusually preoccupied, and hardly ever succeeded in getting her thoughts entirely away from the tea-house.

On the following Saturday evening, however, she consented to go to see a moving picture with him, more because she wanted to stay up until Mrs. Munsen came home from Anna’s party than because she wanted recreation. They drove into town in the car, to attend one of the larger theatres; so, during their ride through the park they found plenty of time for conversation.

“Are you beginning to be worried about your finances, Marjorie?” John asked.

“Well, I really don’t know,” she replied. “We spend money as fast as we make it, but of course our business is increasing. But now the girls are beginning to talk about vacations, and that may mean hiring extra help.”

“Oh, you’ll be all right, I’m sure. By the way, that cook you have is a jewel, isn’t she? She certainly concocts some of the most delicious mixtures!”

“Yes; everything Anna cooks turns out well. And I have only to read her a recipe once, and she makes it to perfection. I sincerely hope we can keep her.”

“Well, I guess you can. Isn’t she having a party at the tea-house tonight?”

“Yes,” answered Marjorie. “And that reminds me, I would like to stop for Mrs. Munsen—she’s chaperoning them, you know—on our way back.”

“Certainly,” replied John, always glad to be of service.

Marjorie found the evening more enjoyable than she had anticipated; sitting in the artificially cooled theatre, watching a good picture, and listening to the full tones of a pipe organ, she forgot her anxieties. John insisted upon ice-cream after the performance was over, for, as he reminded her, they would not want to get to the party too early.

They found the young people still dancing when they drove into the yard, but Anna assured them that refreshments had been served, and that the festivities would end in a few minutes. The girl’s aunt was still there, so Mrs. Munsen felt justified in leaving.

“The only thing I don’t approve of,” remarked the housekeeper, when they were on their way home, “is for Anna and her aunt to stay there all night. I had to give my permission—there was no real reason why they shouldn’t—”

“They’re sensible people!” remarked Marjorie. “At least if they don’t mind those cots. Because they’ll be right there in the morning to start clearing up!”

“But if there is anything to those stories—”

“Oh, Mrs. Munsen!” protested Marjorie. “You surely don’t believe them!”

“No, but I’d just as soon nobody stayed there all night. Of course I didn’t say anything—I didn’t want to frighten Anna—”

“I should hope not!” cried Marjorie. “For you know she’s priceless!”

So late was the hour that she did not invite John to come in, but hurried immediately to her own room. She was very tired, and wanted to get as much sleep as possible; she crawled into bed very quietly, in order that she might not arouse Ethel. She sincerely hoped that she would not be disturbed until morning.

But her hopes were short-lived, for less than an hour had passed when she was sharply awakened by the continued ringing of the door-bell. She sat up immediately, reaching for her slippers and kimona. But by the time she arrived at the head of the stairs, she heard the door being opened.

“Oh, Mrs. Munsen!” cried a shrill, female voice. “Something’s happened to Anna! Something awful! She’s gone!”

“Gone where?” asked the terrified housekeeper, in a hoarse voice.

“I don’t know where!” gasped the woman.

By this time all of the girls were awake, and had gathered at the foot of the stairs. The visitor sank suddenly to the floor in a faint.

“Bring some water—and aromatic spirits!” directed Mrs. Munsen, as Florence and Alice raised the woman to the couch. “It is Anna’s aunt,” she explained. “She and Anna planned to stay at the tea-house all night!”

“The ghost!” whispered Lily, in a tone of deepest woe.

“No, no! It can’t be!” cried Marjorie, suddenly taking the blame upon herself for not warning Anna. “Oh, I can’t believe it!”

“But how are we to know what did happen?” demanded Florence.

“We won’t know till morning,” replied Mrs. Munsen. “The woman is regaining consciousness, but she needs to be put to bed immediately.”

“But what about Anna?” asked Marjorie.

“She’s gone!” gasped the woman, partially taking in the girl’s words. “Too late! Too late!”

“We better dress immediately and go down to the tea-house!” said Marjorie, desperately.

“No,” said Ethel, “I’ll phone the police to go—they could do a great deal more than we could!”

Marjorie acquiesced; and when, half an hour later, they called to say that they had searched the place thoroughly, and found no traces of the missing girl, the scouts went to bed. But though quiet reigned throughout the house, no one slept very much.


Marjorie hurried with her dressing and rushed downstairs on Sunday morning, eager to hear the explanations of Anna’s aunt. The previous night the occurrence had appeared wild, but plausible; now, in the clear morning light, it seemed absurd. She felt sure that either she or the woman had been dreaming.

Although most of the girls put in an early appearance in the dining-room, they were disappointed to find that Mrs. McCreedy was still in bed. They tried to allay their curiosity by discussing the affair from all possible angles.

“I really believe,” announced Lily, “that there is some superhuman power in that house that is responsible for this deed!”

“And I agree with you,” said Mrs. Munsen, firmly. “We have plenty of proof of spirits’ manifesting themselves in the Bible—so it is not a subject to be laughed at, or put aside as childish.”

“Lots of other people—older and wiser than we are—think the place is haunted!” put in Marie Louise.

“Well, I simply don’t believe it!” said Marjorie. “It’s much more likely that Anna has been kidnapped.”

“But why would anybody want to kidnap a poor servant girl?” asked Florence, practically. “There wouldn’t be any hope of ransom.”

“Maybe it was a rejected suitor,” suggested Alice, always looking for the romantic.

“It really is a waste of time to make all these conjectures,” remarked Ethel, “before we have heard the facts in the case. The woman may have been dreaming, or Anna sleep-walking.”

“Let’s take the car and go down to the tea-house right away!” interrupted Lily. “Maybe we have had all our fears for nothing.”

“No, let’s wait till the aunt appears,” said Marjorie; “and then go.”

All this time Ethel had been scanning the newspaper for news, but she did not find even the slightest report from the police.

“You see the papers didn’t have sufficient facts to warrant a story,” she remarked. “So I should think—”

“Good morning, girls! Has Anna been heard from?” interrupted a woman’s voice from the stairs, and, looking up, they saw Mrs. McCreedy enter the room. She was a middle-aged person, of stolid build, not at all the type one would expect to find nervous or imaginative.

“Good morning, Mrs. McCreedy,” said Mrs. Munsen, pleasantly. “No news yet; but we are expecting to hear any minute. You met the girls last night. How do you feel this morning?”

“Much better,” replied the other. “In fact, I’d feel all right, if I wasn’t worried about Anna.”

“Let’s have breakfast,” suggested Mrs. Munsen; “and you can tell us the whole story.”

They all sat down at the table, and the girls turned expectant, questioning faces towards their visitor. They were more interested in hearing what she had to say than in eating their food.

“Well,” began Mrs. McCreedy, “you remember Mrs. Munsen and the young lady left the tea-house just about twelve o’clock—and the party broke up right away. Two or three of the fellows wanted to hang around and help put the things back in place, but Anna wouldn’t hear of it. She said her orders was twelve o’clock, and she meant to stick by them.

“After everybody was gone, we gathered up the food and put it away, and then went straight up stairs to the room where the army cots are, and spread out our blankets. We took off our good dresses, and put on our work dresses which we had brought with us, for we didn’t want to be bothered with night clothes.

“It was pretty hot, so we opened all the windows where there was screens, and we could hear the automobiles passing plain in the public road. They was getting fewer and fewer, and I was just dropping off to sleep, when Anna set up sudden in her bed, and reached over and touched me on the arm.

“‘Hear that, Aunt Mary?’ she whispered.

“‘What?’ says I.

“‘That moving around—in the stable!’

“‘Pshaw! Anna! That ain’t nothing!’ I says. ‘Go to sleep!’

“But she wouldn’t lie down.

“‘Aunt!’ she says again, ‘I wonder if I locked the back door.’

“‘Oh, I guess so!’ says I. I was that sleepy I didn’t care.

“But she was standing up now, putting on her pumps. And before I could say a word, she was creeping quiet like down the steps.”

“Oh!” gasped Lily, who had not eaten a mouthful during this recital. “And you followed her?”

“No—not at first,” replied Mrs. McCreedy. “I heard her unbolt the back door—you see, she had locked it after all, just as I suspected. A minute later I heard her bolt it again, and first thing you know, I was off in a doze again.”

“But if she locked the door again, how did she get out of the house?” demanded Ethel. “Did somebody drag her through a window?”

“That’s just what I can’t tell you!” replied Mrs. McCreedy. “When I wakened up again—it must have been about half an hour later, judging from when I got here—and I missed her, I got up and searched the house. Both doors was locked and bolted on the inside, and all the screens was still hooked in the windows—from the inside. But Anna had entirely disappeared!”

“It’s the ghost! I told you so!” whispered Marie Louise, her face as white as the table cloth.

“Maybe she fell down the cellar,” suggested Marjorie, unwilling to accept the supernatural theory.

“I thought of that,” said Mrs. McCreedy, “because the door was open—I think one of the boys went down cellar for a joke, during the party, and forgot to close the door. So I took a candle and went down—not that I enjoyed doing it much, but I didn’t want to leave Anna there unconscious if she fell down—but there wasn’t a sign of her!”

“And evidently the police didn’t find her, from the message they gave over the telephone,” said Florence.

“You left the door open when you came out?” asked Marjorie. “So that the police surely got in?”

“You bet I did!” replied the older woman. “The minute I was certain Anna was gone, I knew there was something queer about the house, and I opened the door and ran as fast as I could. It never entered my head to shut it!”

The girls were all trembling as they listened to the conclusion, and Daisy and Marie Louise were sobbing. Marjorie, on the other hand, was eager for action.

“It must have been robbers!” she cried, jumping up from her chair in excitement. “They probably bound and gagged Anna, and by this time our tea-house is in ruins! There isn’t a minute to lose—”

“Wait a second, Marjorie!” cautioned Ethel, grasping the other girl’s hands, and holding her still. “If those things had happened the police would have found out and let us know. But I will telephone headquarters again—and you and Lily get the car and go down to the tea-house.”

“Yes, you’re right, Ethel,” admitted Marjorie, struggling to get control of herself again, “and we’ll do as you suggest.”

The walk to the garage where Lily kept her car and the ride to the tea-house were just enough to restore Marjorie’s equilibrium. By the time they had reached their destination, she was conversing in quite her usual manner.

“We’ll have to close for today, won’t we?” asked Lily, as they turned into the drive.

“That all depends upon the state in which we find things,” answered Marjorie. “If we have been robbed of much, of course it will be impossible—”

“Hold on, there, girls!” interrupted a somewhat gruff, masculine voice. “We want to examine the driveway for tracks.”

Lily stopped the car instantly, and, looking back towards the garage, distinguished two policemen, intently studying the sandy gravel of the drive.

“There are the tracks of the Ford we came in last night,” remarked Marjorie, as she jumped out of the car. “And they have not been disturbed!”

“You got the woman’s story from one of our party?” asked Lily, approaching the policeman.

“Oh, yes,” he replied. “And we searched everything thoroughly last night after you phoned, but we couldn’t find a thing. Have you a picture of the girl?”

“No,” replied Marjorie, “but I think I can get you one. You want it for the papers?”

“Yes—and to help us locate her, and get her back.”

“Then you don’t think she is dead?” Marjorie’s voice trembled so that she could scarcely speak.

“No—I think she’ll turn up. It’s more than likely some love-affair,” said the policeman, indifferently. “Because, as far as we can see, there has been no robbery.”

“Thank goodness for that!” breathed Marjorie.

The girls hurried anxiously into the house, and searched it from cellar to attic; but they found no traces of Anna. Everything was just as it had been at the party the previous night; even the food was where Anna had put it; the silverware, the china, the furnishings were untouched. Marjorie uttered a sigh of relief.

“I begin to think that policeman is right,” she said hopefully. “Maybe it is only an elopement, after all.”

“But how could she get out?” questioned Lily.

“Oh, lovers have all sorts of devices,” replied Marjorie. “I mean to put that suggestion up to Mrs. McCreedy when I see her again.”

By the time that the rest of the scouts arrived, Marjorie felt entirely confident that she had guessed at the solution. The policeman had gone and the girls began to straighten up the house and prepare the menu for the afternoon. But they had so much to talk about that their progress was hampered.

There were two prevailing opinions as to the explanation of the strange occurrence: the theory that Marjorie held in regard to an elopement—a theory which was shared by Ethel, Florence, and Alice; and the supernatural hypothesis, held by Lily, Daisy, and Marie Louise. Both the older women—Mrs. Munsen and Mrs. McCreedy—who arrived at the tea-house during the course of the morning, subscribed to the latter view.

Upon Marjorie’s urging, however, Mrs. McCreedy promised to call up one or two of the young people to request that they get in touch with the others and question them about the possibilities of an elopement. But when, an hour later, she reported that all the boys had been located, and that no one suspected such an intention on Anna’s part, the girl’s spirits visibly fell.

By noon everything at the tea-house appeared as usual, in readiness for the afternoon. With the publicity which the affair would undoubtedly bring them, Marjorie felt that it would be unwise to close the place. Even if Anna were ill or dead, it would not help her in any way for the girls to be idle.

When they returned after dinner they found the porch already crowded with patrons whose curiosity had brought them there. Marjorie smiled grimly as she thought of the financial assistance such a boom would produce at a time when they so sorely needed it. Late in the afternoon she was obliged to send out for additional food, and all of the girls stayed right through supper time to help.

As closing time drew near, Marjorie had a short conference with Ethel, and both girls agreed that it would be best to send again for the police. The same men came who had been there in the morning, and both girls were again impressed by their indifference.

“What would you advise us to do?” asked Marjorie of the superior officer.

“Do?” he repeated, woodenly. “There’s nothing to do, Miss!”

“But don’t you think we ought to take definite steps to find the missing girl?” she persisted.

“We’re doing all we can,” he replied, sullenly.

“Oughtn’t we to hire a detective?” asked Ethel.

The policeman shrugged his shoulders in contempt.

“My dear young lady, detectives are seldom any good—except in books. And besides—they’re mighty expensive!”

Marjorie’s brow clouded; she knew they could not afford to spend much money, for they were not yet out of the woods financially. Nevertheless, regardless of her personal feeling in the matter, she believed that, as the girl’s employers, they should do all within their power to find her.

“If you could suggest anything—” she began.

“Would one or two of your men be willing to spend a night here?” interrupted Ethel.

“Maybe,” replied the officer. “I guess so. When?”

“Tonight, if possible!” urged Marjorie. “We mustn’t delay!”

“All right; but it won’t do no good. It ain’t likely anybody’s come around now. I’ll ask the sergeant.”


None of the boys heard anything about the exciting events which were taking place at the tea-house until John Hadley and Jack Wilkinson dropped in on Sunday evening about closing time. They were startled to find two policemen on the steps.

“What has happened?” cried Jack, jumping immediately to the conclusion that the place had been robbed.

At that moment Marjorie appeared at the door and called them in, preferring to make her explanation herself. In a few words she related the facts.

“But why didn’t you call on us?” asked John, in a hurt tone.

“Simply because we have been too busy,” she replied, smiling. “Every minute has been taken up with something or other. But I did mean to call you both tonight, when I got home.”

“And what are you planning to do about it?” asked Jack.

“The policemen are staying here all night tonight, and we are giving the thing the widest publicity possible. Every paper in the city is coming out with the story, and a picture of Anna; and we have offered a reward for her return.”

“I wish we could stay here!” muttered John. “We’d take more interest than those fat, sleepy policemen would!”

“Oh, I don’t think anything interesting will happen tonight,” said Marjorie. “Of course, one or two of the girls cling to the theory of the supernatural; and if that were the case, something would be likely to happen. But I don’t believe that.”

“But what could the motive be?” persisted John.

“I don’t know—I’m all at sea. Now you boys sit down while I go finish my work. It’s harder to get through without any cook, and with our increase in business.”

“And wait till tomorrow, after the people see the papers!” remarked Jack. “Come on, Hadley, let’s go inside and help. Give us a job, Sis.”

“Delighted!” assented Marjorie.

With this added assistance, the girls were able to finish earlier. Marjorie was particularly glad of the protection of the car in returning home, for her cash box was heavy from the receipts of the day, and Lily had been too tired to wait for her.

“You girls need a bit of fresh air,” remarked John, turning about to the three in the back seat. “Couldn’t we go for a spin?”

“That would be great!” cried Daisy, who felt worn out from the day’s excitement.

“But we mustn’t go far, or we’ll worry the people at home,” cautioned Marjorie. “Marie Louise would be sure that the ghost had translated us to another world.”

“Let’s stop and change seats,” suggested Jack. “I know Hadley is dying for your society, Sis, and I can’t deny that I’d like to be in the back seat with Ethel and Daisy.”

They rode for half an hour, both boys making a valiant effort to distract the girls’ thoughts from their anxiety, but succeeding only partially, for the affair was uppermost in the minds of all.

When they got back to the house, they found all the rest of the scouts on the porch.

“Any news?” asked Florence, eagerly.

“Just the question I was going to ask you,” returned Marjorie, laughingly.

“Yes, we have some news,” put in Alice. “Doris and Roger are home, and stopped in to see us.”

“Doris and Roger? When did they come back? And why didn’t they stay a while?”

“Oh, they only got back yesterday,” said Marie Louise; “and they have a lot to do.”

“Doris was rather keen about helping with the tea-room until we told her about last night,” said Florence, laughingly. “Then she made some excuse about being awfully busy with the house—”

“And Roger encouraged her,” added Alice. “He didn’t seem to like the idea a bit of having his little wife in danger.”

“Can’t blame him for that!” muttered John, sympathetically.

“Marjorie,” said Lily, very seriously, “I have a suggestion to make. We’ve been talking it over here before you got back, and Marie Louise and Doris and Florence all approved—that it would be best to close the tea-house before anything else happens. I know dad doesn’t care a thing about his loan; so we could just keep all the money we made and give it to Daisy for the baby. I think we’d have enough, and there wouldn’t be any danger of any of us following Anna.”

“No! No!” cried Marjorie. “I couldn’t give up now, Lil! Your father’s awfully generous, I know, and would be willing to give us the money; but I couldn’t accept it. And I feel as if we just have to solve this mystery!”

“At the price of some girl’s life?” asked Marie Louise. “No, Marjorie, it isn’t worth it!”

“And all sorts of problems are going to arise,” added Florence. “First of all, we have no cook—and with these stories going around it isn’t likely that anyone will want the job; then, there’s the difficulty of the different girls’ vacations—they’re already arranged for; and without being able to hire extra people we’ll all be dead tired most of the time. And, last of all, there’s our mothers.”

“Our mothers?” repeated Marjorie. “I don’t see—”

“Why, when they read about all these wild doings in the papers they’re going to write us to come home immediately. Indeed, I expect to get a telegram tomorrow.”

Marjorie was silent; the arguments seemed conclusive; the majority overwhelmingly against her. And when Lily was among the opponents, then she felt beaten indeed.

But she had forgotten Ethel Todd.

“Girls,” said the latter; “I do not believe you are right. I think we would be cowards to run away now, to think only of ourselves, and not at all of Anna. The best way to get her back is to stick to our jobs and keep on the trail. Of course, we want to take every precaution; but I really don’t see any danger. We’re not babies—and we have the boys to help us.”

“Indeed you have!” cried Jack, staunchly.

Marjorie cast Ethel a grateful look; she felt already as if the battle were won.

“Let us help you out in the evenings,” offered John. “In the kitchen—doing the rough work, and the cleaning. What are we here for, anyhow?”

“Do you mean it?” cried Marjorie, joyfully.

“We certainly do!” said Jack. “And let the girls go on their vacations as they had planned.”

“Just for a little while, then,” urged Marjorie. “To await developments. It would mean so much to me! Will you, girls?”

“I will!” announced Daisy.

“And I!” added Ethel.

“I will too,” said Lily, after some hesitation.

“You can count on me,” remarked Alice.

“And Florence and Marie Louise start on their vacations tomorrow, anyhow,” said Marjorie. “So I guess we’re all right. I think I’ll put an ad in the paper tomorrow for a new cook. We may get an answer if I don’t mention the tea-house till I see the applicant.”

“I—don’t—think—you’ll—need—a new cook!” remarked Ethel, slowly, with her eyes fixed on a distant point. “If I’m not mistaken, I see your old cook coming back!”

“What?” cried Marjorie, jumping up in excitement. “Ethel, is it—can it be—?”

“Yes, it is Anna!” she replied. “She’s opening the gate now!”

All the girls rushed with one accord down the porch steps, towards the girl in a white dress, who slowly, falteringly, made her way up the walk. She walked uncertainly, as if she were weak or ill, and scarcely acknowledged their noisy welcome. Marjorie and Ethel hastened to her support, one on each side of her.

“Where have you been?” demanded Lily, breathlessly.

“What happened?” asked Alice.

But Anna only half closed her eyes and sighed. Even in the darkness the girls could see how pale and tired she was.

“I’m very hungry!” she said, at last.

Florence and Alice ran into the house to find Mrs. Munsen to prepare food and a stimulant, while the others almost carried the exhausted girl to the couch. They were so impatient in their curiosity that they could not refrain from asking one question after another. But Anna maintained an indifferent silence.

In a few minutes Mrs. Munsen returned with some broth, and, for the first time, Anna manifested interest. She ate and drank greedily, as if she had been fasting for the last twenty-four hours.

At last, when she seemed partially satisfied, she leaned back against the cushions of the davenport and began to talk.

“How long have I been gone?” she asked.

“Not quite a day,” replied Marjorie. “Your aunt said it all happened about one o’clock last night.”

“Where have you been?” demanded Florence, too impatient to wait for the story.

“In the cellar at the tea-house!”

“But you haven’t!” cried two or three of the girls at once.

“We searched every corner of it, and so did the policemen!” explained Lily.

“Then I don’t know where I was,” said Anna, as if she resented the contradiction.

“Well, where did you come from tonight?” inquired Ethel.

“From the cellar, I tell you! I came up stairs and let myself out of the front door. I saw your sleepy old policemen smoking in the rose arbor, but they never noticed me come out of the house. That’s all the good they are!”

“I never did think much of them!” remarked Ethel.

“Tell us everything—please—from the beginning!” begged Marjorie, unable to repress the excitement she felt in finding Anna really alive.

“I’ve told you about all there is to tell,” said Anna, wearily. “Except that I had a warning from the spirit world—for you girls!”

“A warning?” repeated Marie Louise, her eyes wide open in amazement. “Oh, girls, what did I tell you!”

“Go on—go on, Anna!” urged Marjorie.

“Well, I guess my aunt told you that I went down stairs to make sure we had locked the back door, because I thought I heard some noises back by the stable. Well, when I found that it was surely locked, I started through the hall to the stairs again. I got to the cellar—”

“You didn’t go down the cellar!” cried Alice, in horror. “Not alone?”

“No! I fell down the cellar!” announced Anna. “Some of the boys had been joking about looking for ghosts down the cellar, and had gone down during the evening. They must have left the door all the way open, and I guess I walked into the cellarway instead of coming back through the hall, and tumbled full length to the bottom.”

“Heavens!” exclaimed Mrs. Munsen; “it’s a blessing you weren’t killed!”

“Did you scream?” demanded Marjorie.

“I don’t know—I honestly don’t remember anything clear till I woke up at the bottom of the steps, right before I came here!”

“But Anna, you couldn’t have been there all the time!” protested Ethel. “The policemen searched the place thoroughly last night, and two of the girls went over the whole house this morning!”

“All right, then,” said Anna, sulkily; “I dreamt it!”

“But tell us about the message,” pleaded Marie Louise, longing to hear more of the weird story the girl had hinted at.

“But you won’t believe that either!” muttered Anna.

“Yes, yes, we will!” cried Lily. “Please tell us!”

“Well,” said Anna, “once I seemed to be roused up from my trance or sleep or whatever you call it by a series of knocks. I opened my eyes, but it was so dark that I couldn’t see nothing. Then I heard a hollow voice say:


“What kind of voice?” demanded Marjorie, in a hoarse whisper.

“A spirit’s voice, I tell you! Now—I’ve told you everything I know—won’t you please let me go to bed?”

“Oh, you poor girl!” exclaimed Mrs. Munsen, in a motherly tone. “How selfish we have been! How thoughtless! You shall go to bed right away!”

As soon as the girl was gone, John Hadley offered to drive over to Mrs. McCreedy’s with the good news; and the others settled down to talk the whole thing over.

“She couldn’t have been down the cellar all that time!” said Marjorie. “Lily and I know that!”

“Could she possibly have been covered up by some of the packing—or hidden away in a dark corner,” suggested Ethel.

“No—we searched everywhere!”

“Then you don’t think she is telling the truth?” asked Alice.

“No, I don’t!” said Marjorie. “She has been some place that she doesn’t want us to know about!”

“How suspicious you are, Marj!” laughed Jack.

“The spirit explanation isn’t possible?” asked Lily.

This opened a new topic of speculation, and the young people continued to discuss the affair from every possible angle, until Marie Louise, who had been summoned to the telephone soon after Anna went to bed, returned to the room and interrupted the conversation by a startling announcement.

“That phone call,” she said, “was from a reporter, and I gave him the whole story.”

“Yes,” said Marjorie. “But how did you put it—what explanation did you give?”

“I told him,” replied the girl calmly, “the facts just as Anna stated them—with the haunted house as the explanation.”

“Oh!” gasped Marjorie, sinking limply back into her chair. “Now we are ruined!”

“But how?” asked Marie Louise, in astonishment.

“Every paper in the city will get the story tomorrow, and it will be the end of our business!”

“On the contrary, Sis,” put in Jack, “it will be the beginning of business! Just wait and see the flock of curious people that come—”

“Marjorie,” interrupted Lily, in a most serious tone, “I think we ought to do something to unravel this mystery!”

“Yes,” added Marie Louise; “let’s get a spiritualist—a medium—to help us!”

“Not much!” cried Jack. “Give us fellows a chance. We can do more with a little team-work than all the mediums in the world!”

“Suppose,” said Marjorie, “we decided all that tomorrow. We need rest as well as Anna—so—I move we adjourn!”

“And I second that motion,” said Ethel, with a yawn.


A WEEK passed by, and no discoveries were made, no clues found that might lead to the explanation of Anna’s strange disappearance. The policemen, who had slept at the tea-house regularly every night, were resigning their posts in disgust. Even Marjorie began to wonder whether the mystery would ever be solved.

Aside from the shock to Anna’s nerves, there had been no evil effects from the unusual episode. The wide publicity given by the newspapers had produced the same results as an expensive advertising campaign; indeed, the girls were now making money so fast that Marjorie found herself in a position to pay back a hundred dollars of the loan to Mr. Andrews. Her one serious problem was help in the kitchen.

After a great deal of persuasion, Anna had been induced to resume her office as cook, providing, however, that she be excused from night duty, that she never be obliged to remain at the house alone, and that the cellar be kept permanently locked. Marjorie had been only too glad to comply with these requests, and rejoiced greatly in having her again. But, even with her return, they were handicapped; they needed more waitresses.

The boys, true to their word, came to the tea-house every evening as soon as they had finished supper, and took their posts in the kitchen, acting in whatever capacity they were needed, and remaining, after the girls went home, to put the place to rights, and to lock up for the night. Without their assistance Marjorie felt that the work could not have gone on; for everyone of the five remaining scouts had to serve both afternoon and evening, since Florence and Marie Louise had gone on their vacations.

“We’ve simply got to get a couple of maids,” remarked Marjorie, one evening when she lay on the bed in her own room, particularly exhausted from a strenuous day’s work. “We can’t keep this up much longer.”

“No, it’s a terrible strain never to have a single afternoon off,” agreed Lily. “And that reminds me—what shall we do about that dinner invitation from Doris?”

“When is it?” asked her companion.

“Next Wednesday. And she wants you and me and Ethel all to go.”

“Of course that’s out of the question!” sighed Marjorie. “Unless we could engage two waitresses.”

“Is it because of the added expense that you haven’t done it before?” asked Lily.

“Partly. But you know I did put in an ad early this week; and two or three applicants showed up, but were scared off because of the ghost story. In that way our publicity has hurt us.”

“But you really can’t blame them for that.”

“No—I suppose not. But I do wish we could clear up the mystery, and go ahead on the reputation we’ve made.”

“Yes, I do too,” agreed Lily. Then, gathering up her fancy-work, she said, “I guess you need to go to sleep, Marj, so I’ll clear out. Oh, here comes Ethel, anyhow!”

“Hello, girls!” said Marjorie’s room-mate, as she entered through the open door. “What’s the trouble, Marj?”

“Just tired—that’s all!”

“Well, I’m sorry to say you’ll be more tired next week,” remarked the other girl, in a matter-of-fact tone. “Because Marie Louise writes that she can’t come back.”

“Marie Louise isn’t coming back from her vacation?” repeated Marjorie. “But she’ll have to—it’s Lily’s and Daisy’s turn to go!”

“Exactly—so we’ll be three girls short—four waitresses instead of five.”

“Oh!” gasped Marjorie. “We can’t do it! Unless somebody answers the advertisement right away.”

“Have you put it in the papers again?” asked Ethel, with her usual display of practicality.

“No, I haven’t,” admitted her room-mate.

“Then I’ll go phone it now!” announced Ethel, leaving the room immediately.

“She certainly is a jewel,” remarked Marjorie, after Ethel had gone.

“Marj,” said Lily, slowly, as if she had been considering the offer she was about to make, “I will give up my vacation if you don’t get any hired help. That will make up for Marie Louise.”

“Really, Lil?” cried Marjorie, jumping up and throwing her arms about her chum. “Do you honestly mean it?”

“Yes, of course I do!”

“But you’ll be too tired to go back to college in the fall!”

“Not if we close the tea-house right after Labor Day as we have planned. I’ll still have two weeks before the term begins.”

Marjorie felt thankful for such staunch friends; and when, the following day, Daisy also offered to give up her vacation if necessary, and Agnes Taylor and two of her friends insisted upon substituting as waitresses so that the girls could go to Doris’s dinner party, she felt elated indeed. Her one disappointment was her failure to hire any help.

In the course of the three days following Ethel’s insertion of the advertisement in the papers, half a dozen girls applied for the positions, but none of them accepted it. As soon as they learned that the tea-house was the scene of the strange events which had been recounted in the newspapers, and that it was reported to be haunted, they all refused to consider Marjorie’s generous offer. If only, the girl thought, the reporters had not gone so into detail, had not recalled to the public mind the series of deaths that had occurred there several years before!

When the time for Doris’s party arrived, however, Marjorie made up her mind not to allow her anxieties to mar the pleasure of the event for herself or for the others. She was lucky enough to be able to go away with a free conscience, and she meant to enjoy her brief holiday to the fullest extent.

John Hadley drove over for the girls in his Ford a little before six and found all three of them waiting on the porch. Marjorie’s brother Jack was in the front seat beside him.

“I wonder who is to be the third man?” observed Marjorie, as she climbed into the place Jack vacated.

“But do you have to ask?” teased John, with a sly glance at Lily.

“Oh, Dick Roberts, I suppose!” laughed Marjorie. “Well—where is he?”

“He’s coming out from work on the train,” replied John. “I told him there wouldn’t be room in my poor little Ford.”

The drive to Doris’s house was a short one, although on such an evening as this, Marjorie would not have been sorry to have it much longer. She was glad, however, to see Doris again.

The bride was waiting for them in the hammock, her adoring husband beside her.

“It certainly is lovely to be here again,” said Marjorie, as the girls followed their hostess up stairs. “We haven’t seen as much of you as we would like, Doris.”

Doris blushed guiltily.

“I know—I’m positively ashamed of myself. But housekeeping does take a good deal of time—I only have Ella one day a week, you know, and on special occasions like this—and then Roger is sort of afraid of that place for me. I know it’s silly—”

“Oh, I don’t blame him a bit!” Marjorie hastened to reassure her. “Nobody wants to take chances like that. But you just wait! I resolved today that we’ve got to solve that mystery!”

“How?” asked Doris, in breathless interest.

“I don’t know. Let’s wait till we get down stairs and talk it over with the boys. Maybe they can suggest something.”

“All right!” Then, turning to Lily, “That’s the most adorable dress, Lil! I’ll wager it came straight from Paris!”

“The modiste claimed it did!” laughed Lily, pleased at the other girl’s admiration. “And since this is our first party in Philadelphia, I felt as if I had to wear it.”

“I’m awfully glad you did,” replied her hostess, beaming. Doris was perfectly happy in her new surroundings.

When the girls came down stairs again, they found that Dick Roberts had arrived, and, before they even had a chance to be seated, dinner was announced.

The dining-room table, with its candles, its flowers, and its shining new silver, looked as attractive as the rest of the furnishings, and the girls could not help exclaiming informally at its beauty. From the very beginning of the affair, the party promised to be a success. The dinner was as appetizing as if it had been prepared by a French chef; the hostess was at her best; and the guests entered heartily into the general gaiety. They talked of everything under the sun except the strange occurrences at the tea-house; everyone seemed loath to mention a subject that even bordered on the unpleasant.

“I’m going to be very informal,” announced Doris, as they finally rose from the table, “and ask you what you would like to do. Dance—play bridge—have the radio—?”

“No!” interrupted Marjorie, laughingly. “Those things are all nice, but let’s just talk! It’s so warm, and your porch looks alluring.”

“All right—fine!” agreed Doris. “At least if that plan suits everybody.”

“Admirably,” said Jack, lighting the cigarette his host had just offered him.

When they were all comfortably seated on the porch, Roger himself brought up the subject of the tea-house mystery.

“Any more excitement at the tea-house?” he asked, carelessly.

“Not a bit!” sighed Marjorie. “And the policemen have given us up as hopeless.”

“I imagine they thought Anna was hysterical, and dreamed it all,” said Ethel.

“Maybe she did!” laughed Jack.

“By the way,” put in Lily, “I forgot to tell you that our elderly friend—the man who came on opening day, you remember, Marj—was in yesterday, and said he had passed by late one night last week and heard some queer noises. He said he and another man walked around to the garage, but they couldn’t get in.”

“Rubbish!” exclaimed Ethel, in contempt.

“All I know is,” said Marjorie, “that I wish we could find some explanation to come out with in the newspapers. The story is so common all over the city that I can’t induce any maids to take the positions as waitresses.”

“And we certainly do need them!” sighed Ethel.

“Do you know that I think those policemen weren’t much good after all!” observed Lily. “Now, if we could induce our old friend to watch for us some night—”

“I wouldn’t take a chance,” said Marjorie. “For he sort of half believes the stories—”

“But if there are strange goings-on, as he said—”

“Sis!” interrupted Jack seized by a sudden inspiration. “Let us fellows—”

“Which fellows?” asked Marjorie, sure of what he was about to suggest.

“Why, all of us—”

“No,” replied Marjorie, “I know what you are going to say—you want to stay all night at the tea-house. But Roger is a married man, and John is an only son—”

“Well, then, the rest of us!”

“I might consider that,” replied Marjorie, thoughtfully. “But of course you would need revolvers.”

“Naturally,” agreed Jack, his face alight with excitement at the prospect of the adventure. “I’ll call up the other fellows tomorrow morning.”

“One thing I insist upon, though,” added Marjorie; “if you people get through the night without any adventures, some of us are going to do it later on!”

“Oh, no!” protested John, in horror.

“Is it a bargain?” asked Marjorie, appealing to her brother.

“Yes,” agreed Jack, finally. “It wouldn’t be fair not to let you.”

“Oh, Marj, don’t!” pleaded Doris. “Something dreadful might happen.”

But Marjorie only smiled at her fears.

“I know mother wouldn’t want me to miss the fun,” said John; “but of course I’ll consult her. Still, I think you can count on me, Wilkinson.”

Much as Roger would have enjoyed the adventure, he was too thoughtful of Doris to suggest going in for it. And so the party of six were arranged for.


The six boys who were preparing to spend the night at the tea-house stopped at Harris’s early after supper on the day selected for their adventure. All the girls except those who were on their vacations were waiting on the porch to see them.

“Tell us what you are taking!” begged Marjorie, as they came up on the porch.

“Well, let’s see,” said John. “Not a whole lot—a blanket apiece—”

“Oh, I don’t mean that kind of things!” interrupted Marjorie. “I mean interesting things!”

“Oh—well, a revolver apiece, flash-lights, cigarettes, matches, and so forth. By the way, is anybody going to get us any breakfast tomorrow morning?”

“We’ll all be down early,” said Lily. “I for one don’t expect to sleep a wink!”

“Just watch her!” laughed Marjorie.

“Well, I hope we do get a little excitement out of it,” remarked Jack. “I’ll certainly be disappointed if nothing more happens to us than to those cops.”

“Jack, you oughtn’t to talk that way,” remonstrated Daisy, who in reality was as worried as Lily and Doris. “Suppose something awful does happen!”

“Suppose we see spirits, like Anna!” remarked Jack. “And make you girls fiddle with ouija boards and go to seances in darkened rooms—”

“At least it would be thrilling,” remarked Ethel. “But I never will believe anything till I see for myself.”

“Your turn’s coming, Ethel,” said Marjorie. “You and I are going to spend a night there soon.”

“Oh, please don’t!” begged Lily; but both girls laughed at her.

The boys stayed until ten o’clock, and Marjorie and Ethel told all the gruesome, ghostly stories they could think of; but without any effect whatever, for the boys went off as cheerful as ever and as light-hearted.

It was a still night. A full moon, which seemed to be suspended in an inanimate sky, made the road before them easily distinguishable in the darkness. There was something peculiar in the appearance of the moon, and even the sky looked strange. The boys commented upon it. But they could not make up their minds that it was a feeling of suppressed excitement within them, and not the moon and the sky, which made them feel that something was about to happen.

“I’ll bet it rains tomorrow,” remarked John. “Maybe tonight. Look at those clouds up there—hardly moving. It’s sultry, too; not a leaf stirring.”

“Guess you’re right,” assented Jack. “Once we get inside the house, let it come, say I; and the spirits can bring their umbrellas with them. Gee! but it’s hot!”

“You speak the truth,” said Bill Warner, who was rather stout. “Let’s walk a little slower; the ghosts will wait.”

“Yes; this blanket of mine is getting unwieldy.”

“Let’s take our coats off,” suggested Dick. “We’re not likely to meet any one between here and the tea-house at this time of night.”

They followed his suggestion, and walked along in silence for awhile, with their hats in their hands and their jackets across their arms. Then Pierce Ellison said:

“Too bad we didn’t come in your tea-pot, Hadley.”

“Too much noise,” replied John. “I don’t know what all of your opinions are about this mystery, but it’s mine that it’s a human agency. Have any of you fellows anything in the back of your heads that you haven’t spoken of—for fear of alarming the girls, or any other reason? It might give us a clue, you know. Something to work on.”

“Not a glimmer,” answered someone.

“I agree with Hadley,” said Jack. “What was the cause of those three deaths in close succession in the Scott family? Pure coincidence. Then there’s the stories of the horse and the stray dog. They may be coincidence, too; yet, I confess it seems funny that they happened as they did. But this business of Anna is different. I, for one, believe that something actually happened to the girl; but I can’t guess what. She’s too muddled herself to know much about it.”

“So do I,” agreed John. “I believe her; I had a talk with Anna. Her eyes looked right when she told me about it. And she showed me great black and blue marks on her arms, that could only have been made by strong hands—human hands! I believe her.”

“Yes; but Marjorie has an idea that she was galavanting around somewheres.”

“I don’t think,” said John, “that it is so much that Marjorie believes that herself as it is that she wants the others to believe it. Marjorie’s one thought is to remove suspicion from the tea-house.”

Jack, who was walking next to John, glanced hastily at him, surprised at this insight into the mind of his sister.

“I hadn’t thought of that,” he admitted. “Well, we’re here, fellows. Let’s get into the house as quietly and as quickly as possible. I’ll go first with the key.”

They paused in the road and looked over the hedge.

The tea-house lay silent in the moonlight, which emphasized the roof and chimneys and was reflected in the upper windows, but left the lower part in shadow.

They passed swiftly into the house, and without making a light, entered the rest-room and tossed their blankets into a corner. Their footsteps and subdued voices sounded strangely in the closed house. John turned on his pocket flash and examined the rooms downstairs. Apparently everything remained as the girls had left it. He tried all the windows and doors, and found them locked; then returned to the others.

“While you fellows make yourselves comfortable, I’ll step outside and take a look around,” he said. “If you hear me poking around, don’t take me for a ghost.”

Outside, he found the atmosphere hot and oppressive. He walked leisurely beneath the trees, looking about him. Around at the back, everything seemed right enough; the stable was a deep black shadow, barely distinguishable beneath the low-hanging branches of intervening trees. John strolled around to the rose arbor, where the air was heavy with an odor of sweetness from the blooms, and stood for a minute considering whether it would be advisable for him to sit there while he smoked a cigarette. The others would miss him, and would probably come searching for him. He decided against it, turned, and went in.

The boys had spread several of the army blankets upon the floor, and were lying flat on their backs side by side, telling each other the most harrowing tales they had ever read or heard of. This Jack discovered when he almost fell over them; for in the darkness he could not see the prostrate forms. They were so absorbed in a weird story Eugene Schofield was telling that they failed to take notice of his return, except to make room for him as he felt his way among them and stretched himself upon the blankets. John smiled to himself as he listened to the hushed, tense voice of the narrator, and realized that, boylike, they were working themselves up to a fine pitch of excitement for spending the night in such a place.

“That was a corker!” commented one, as Eugene finished his story amid murmurs of approval from the other boys. “Did they ever find out what became of him?”

“Say, fellows,” interrupted Jack, “it’s as close as the deuce in here. Let’s have some air.”

The boy nearest the windows opened them. Then someone else commenced another story. John listened for awhile, watching the glow of Jack’s cigarette, until a feeling of drowsiness, which he was unable to cast off, came over him, and he slept.

He dreamed that he was pursued. He knew that he was dreaming, for he could still hear the murmur of the boys’ voices, very far off. He could not have explained what it was that was after him; it was formless, indescribable. And yet it seemed to have form, too, or at least bulk; and as he fled it seemed to roll after him with an overwhelming presence. He could feel himself escaping, as if into a narrow cavern which became smaller and smaller, while he too diminished in size; yet all the while the presence was after him, and he could feel, rather than see, a mass like a great ball, which appeared to grow larger and more overpowering as it approached. As it was attempting to cram itself into the entrance of the cavern, oppressing him horribly, he woke up.

He knew that a door had blown shut, and that the noise had wakened him. A strong wind which smelt of rain was blowing in through the open windows, and it chilled him. He got up and closed the windows, and going over to the fire-place, tossed in some chips and set a match to them thinking it would be more cheerful to have even a tiny fire. As the chips caught, the dim light showed the boys lying in the middle of the floor, several of them asleep, and the rest still listening to ghost stories. John lay down again and watched the grotesque shadows, cast by the fire, flickering about on the ceiling. But the effect upon him was like hypnotism, and he could feel himself again sinking into slumber, when a faint noise outside brought him suddenly to his feet, wide awake. He stood there, alert and listening. The others seemed not to have noticed anything, except his sudden rising, and looked up at him inquiringly. John merely placed a finger to his lips, and listened. He could now hear distinctly the steps of someone approaching up the driveway. They were coming toward the house. Who could it be, he wondered. Not one of the girls, at this time of the night? No, it was a man’s firm tread. An officer, who had noticed their light from the road, and was coming to investigate? What a fool he was to have made a light! These thoughts flashed through his mind with lightning rapidity.

“Don’t move!” he commanded. “Someone is coming!”

They waited, rigid with expectancy.

The heavy tread sounded upon the porch; there was an instant’s pause, and then came a knocking at the screen door.

John strode across the room, shot back the heavy bolt, and opened the door.

“I saw your light,” said a rough voice, apologetically.

“Well, what do you want?” demanded John, sharply; for he noticed that the man was trying to look past him, into the room beyond.

“I want to know whether Bill Smith lives here,” said the rough voice, a little louder than before.

“No,” answered John; “he doesn’t.”

“He don’t? Well, he lives around here somewheres, and I thought it was here.”

In the dim light John could just make out, beneath a slouch hat, that the man had a large nose and a heavy moustache. He also noted that his breath smelled strongly of liquor.

“I’m very sorry. I don’t know anyone of that name,” repeated John—“as common as the name is,” he added, as an afterthought.

He could see that the man was grinning as he turned away.

“All right!” he called out over his shoulder. “Sorry I troubled you fellows!”

John watched the retreating figure pass out of the drive. When he reached the road, the man paused for a moment, looked back towards the house, then up and down the road, and finally walked away.

John stood at the open door for several minutes, waiting to see whether the man would return. When he turned back into the room his brows were drawn together and he was thinking hard.

“Now I wonder what he really wanted?” he asked.

“Wanted? You heard what he said, didn’t you?” said Bill Warner. “He wanted Bill Smith.”

“Bah!” exploded Jack. “The first name on the tip of his tongue—Bill Smith! He wanted to see what was going on in here, most likely.”

“I’m an ass not to have followed that fellow,” announced John. “Of course, he might have wanted Bill Smith; but there was something about the look of him that made me doubt it, even while he was standing there.”

“What did he look like?”

“Oh, a stage villain. Big nose and moustache—and a funny grin. But I couldn’t see much through the screen door.”

“A tramp?” suggested one.

John shook his head.

“Too well dressed—or ‘dressed up,’ if you know what I mean. More like a rough-neck.”

“Then what the deuce could he want here, if not to find Bill Smith?” persisted Bill Warner.

John only shrugged his shoulders, and thrusting his hands into his trousers’ pockets, commenced pacing up and down the room. The rest sat quite still, turning the occurrence over in their minds.

“Do you suppose he figured on robbing the place?” inquired Jack.

John stopped pacing to consider the suggestion.

“People can’t help but see that this tea-room is taking in money,” continued Jack. “If this fellow knew about it, perhaps he thought the girls might leave the money here overnight.”

“Maybe,” said John. “But I doubt it. If he came to burgle he would have sneaked in, and seeing a light, would have gone away again. No, he came up boldly enough.”

“Maybe he thought there were nothing but girls in here.”

“True,” admitted John. “It was my first thought that he might be the human agency we are looking for.”

“But what would the motive be?”

“Search me! Well, there’s no use of our speculating about it; we’re not getting anywhere. But just the same, I think I was a fool not to follow the fellow,” concluded John; and he stretched out before the fire again.

The boys were quiet for some time, each occupied with his own thoughts. Several had already dozed off when Jack finally got up and threw more wood on the fire.

“He sure did have some breath on him,” said John.

Jack started and stared down at him.

“Heh? Are you talking in your sleep?”

“No,” laughed John. “I merely remarked that that tramp, or whatever you want to call him, had some breath on him. It smelt so strong of alcohol, I’ll bet if you held a lighted match under his chin, he’d breathe a blue flame.”

“Aw, you go on!” growled Dick Roberts. “Say, aren’t you chaps ever going to sleep? Why don’t you quit thinking about such things?”

“That’s pretty good advice,” yawned John. “I guess I will turn in.”

He rummaged in the corner for his own blanket, rolled up in it, and prepared to sleep. Jack followed his example, lying down beside him. Then Pierce Ellison and Eugene Schofield, the only ones who were still sitting up, decided to join them.

“Why don’t you two fellows go upstairs and use the army cots,” suggested John. “It’s silly to let them go to waste.”

“Never thought of it,” answered Pierce. “What do you say, Gene?”

“I don’t mind—if none of the others want them.”

“There’s no one left,” said John. “Go to it!”

“How about you, Jack?” offered Pierce.

“I wouldn’t move for the world,” replied that person. “Half of me is asleep already.”

“All right then. Good night! Call us if you need any help.”

“No such luck! Good night!”

When John lay down he had every intention of going to sleep; but he found that it was not so easy as he thought. He envied Jack, who was already breathing regularly by his side. No doubt the nap he had earlier in the evening took the edge from his fatigue; but he was also conscious of an inward state of excitement which was far from conducive to sleep. He smiled to himself as he analyzed his own feelings: he had always regarded himself as a steady, common-place sort of creature, not a bit excitable; in fact, at school he had had a reputation of being particularly reliable, a cool hand in a tight place. When he had pitched on his school nine, his team-mates learned that there was no danger of his becoming rattled simply because there was three men on base at a time when an additional run would lose the game for them; in such situations John Hadley always pitched his best.

He knew that his present restlessness was not due to fear of anything, either natural or supernatural, that might happen; he even longed for action as a means of relieving the tension. He was surprised at the number of strange sounds a house will make during the night; at every creak and rattle he would prick up his ears. One noise in particular, which seemed to come from upstairs, startled him; but he exerted his will power, and refrained from investigating; for he could hear Eugene Schofield clear his throat from time to time, and knew thereby that he too was still awake.

“I am entirely too anxious for something to happen,” he told himself.

So he forced himself to think of other things, tried to relax as much as possible, and to lie perfectly still. It was then that he realized how much the other boys were tossing about, even though they slept. Occasionally someone would murmur inarticulately.

“Too many ghost stories for you,” thought John. “Yet you sleep, while I stay awake. Well, I guess I’m just as well satisfied at that. Why should I care whether I go to sleep or not? If I stay awake, so much the better if anything does happen; it’s what I’m here for, anyway. And this certainly is better than having a nightmare.”

It was after he took this attitude that he finally dozed off. The next thing he knew he was standing up, wide awake. He could not tell how long he had slept, but it was evidently not long; for the coals in the fire-place were still glowing, and giving off enough light for him to distinguish the sleeping form of Jack. He could not remember the act of getting up; yet he was standing upright when consciousness had come to him. Was it a condition of over-wrought nerves, or had some unusual sound aroused him?

Without the wind was blowing in sudden gusts, rattling the sashes in the windows. At intervals a pale light shone through the panes for an instant, and a few seconds after came the distant rumble of thunder.

“Just as I thought,” reflected John. “The storm’s coming this way—coming fast!”

He was suddenly aware of a peculiar sound of something grinding and straining, which terminated in a hollow thud. Instantly he became alert, straining his ears for a repetition of the noise. It came again, in a strange creaking, as if someone were trying to pry open a shutter. Then he thought he could hear a step on the back porch. John was sure, this time, that the moment for action had come. But he hesitated, thinking quickly. The sound was at the back of the house.

He put his hand upon the revolver in his hip pocket. Should he awaken the others, or go alone? He must act quickly. If he went prowling about by himself, the others might hear him, and become alarmed; they might even mistake him for an intruder, and fire at him.

While he stood there considering, the noise occurred again; there was a movement at his feet, and he looked and saw Jack’s head raised in a listening attitude. Then Jack turned to look at the place where John had been lying, and beheld him standing over him, and he sat up quickly.

“I heard something!” he whispered.

John nodded his head.

“Let’s wake the others,” he said, stooping down and putting his mouth close to Jack’s ear. “Then let’s you and me investigate. It’s around back—sounds as if somebody’s trying to jimmy a shutter as quietly as possible. We’ll go out the front and surprise them from the rear.”

“How shall we wake the others without making a noise?” asked Jack.

“Put your hand over their mouths and say ‘Sh!’ as soon as they move.”

Jack signified that he understood; and they tip-toed about the room arousing their unconscious comrades, succeeding in doing so without causing one surprised exclamation. Nevertheless, they were surprised, but too dazed by the sudden awakening to understand anything.

“Don’t talk! Don’t move! unless we call,” ordered John, in a hoarse whisper.

And without further explanation, he and Jack slipped quietly out the front door. Each had a revolver in his hand. As they stepped out into the driveway their feet crunched alarmingly upon the gravel. John caught Jack’s arm and drew him beneath the lilac bushes at the corner of the house. Then they commenced a stealthy advance towards the rear, keeping as much as possible within the shadows. When they had circled about the rear wing, John dropped on his hands and knees and peered cautiously around the corner, commanding a view of the back door and part of the tea-room. In the darkness he could not see anything; for the moon had been obscured by a mass of heavy black clouds. He stepped back and consulted with Jack in a whisper, and together they waited to see whether the next flash of lightning would reveal anything to their straining eyes. It came soon, a sharp jagged fork of light which seemed to trickle across the sky, followed almost instantly by a peal of thunder; for the storm was almost upon them. For a moment everything was as bright as in daylight; then was immediately plunged into darkness. But the flash had lasted long enough for them to see that no one was about. As the thunder died away in the distance, the only sound they could hear was the soft patter of the coming rain upon the leaves of the trees.

“Let’s go out in the open,” said Jack. “Let’s take a hasty look around and then beat it in again. We’ll soon be soaked if we don’t.”

They darted quickly here and there, examining dark corners of the lawn, looking into bushes, and behind tree trunks. The rain was coming faster, the lightning flashed incessantly, and the continuous roll of the thunder made talk impossible.

“Here she comes!” cried John, as the rain descended in torrents. “Let the stable go. Run for the back door!”

In another moment they were under cover.

“We’ll have to knock!” shouted Jack, raising his voice above the storm.

“Yes. But wait a minute; there’s one place we didn’t look.”

John fumbled for his flash and turned it on, pointing it out into the rain. Jack could not see a yard through the downpour, but he was suddenly aware that John was referring to the sloping door which covered the steps leading from the cellar out into the yard at the rear of the tea-room.

“Ye Gods!” cried Jack. “I never thought of it. And it’s never locked—the bolt’s off!”

“But we mustn’t go in from the outside. It’s too much of a risk. We’ll get the fellows to let us in; then we’ll go down from the inside. If there’s anyone down there, they could never get away so fast that we won’t get them.”

“Right!” agreed Jack.

They pounded on the door. Once inside the doorway, the excited boys crowded around them.

“We were just thinking about going out to look for you two,” said Dick Roberts. “What news?”

“None! The rain cut short our search.”

“Some rain!”

“A couple of you fellows watch that back cellar-door,” said John. “We’re going to look down there.”

Leading the way, and followed by Jack and the others, he descended the cellar-stairs from the hall, holding his flash-light before him. He felt a chill run up and down his spine as he entered that gloomy place. But an intruder, had there been one, would have been up against it, opposed to these youths, each armed with flash-light and revolver.

They made a thorough search, and not discovering anything, went upstairs again, where the two boys watching the back door reported that no one had made an exit that way. John and Jack removed their wet outer clothing, and wrapped up in blankets, while the others built up a hot fire with which to dry them.

“We might as well all stay up now; it will be light pretty soon,” remarked Dick. “And we could never sleep through this storm.”

“Four o’clock,” announced Bill Warner, after looking at his watch.

“What did you fellows hear?” asked Dick.

The two adventurers grinned rather sheepishly.

“Ghosts! I guess the place is haunted after all,” admitted Jack, reluctantly.

“What gets me,” said John, “is this: what explanation are we to make to the girls in the morning?”

“None!” cried Jack. “They’d have the laugh on us! Don’t tell them anything. Tell ’em we never slept better in our lives!”


After the boys’ report of their unfruitful night at the tea-house, Marjorie felt less desirous of making the experiment herself. When she had called up the newspapers and explained to them that she now considered herself in possession of conclusive proof against the existence of anything unusual at the tea-house, she found them singularly indifferent. The reporters had been only too ready to print the story Marie Louise had given them over the telephone—that made good copy—but Marjorie’s account of the boys’ experience was too uninteresting and common-place to merit attention. She was disappointed to meet with such apathy; she felt that in failing to get the desired publicity, the boys’ efforts had been partially wasted.

And yet their experiment had not been wholly in vain, for Marjorie somehow felt a subtle change of attitude among the more timid girls, and an increase of courage on Anna’s part. Everything was going better now, for Marie Louise had come back and Mae Van Horn had come down to help during her vacation. Moreover, the girls who had already had vacations—Florence, Alice, and Marie Louise—seemed to work with redoubled energy.

Ever since Anna’s strange experience, the tea-room had continued to thrive financially. Now, with half of their loan paid off, and a substantial balance in bank, the scouts faced a month of probable prosperity. Marjorie felt satisfied and happy.

She postponed her own adventure at the tea-house until after the first of August. Daisy was going on her vacation then, and Lily had consented to take one week; so Marjorie felt that it would be easier with the more nervous girls away. She wanted Ethel Todd as her sole partner.

“Marj, I wish you would give up that wild scheme of yours,” begged Lily; as she said goodbye to her. “So many things may happen—leaving ghosts out of the question, I mean!”

“Oh, we’ll take Jack’s revolver along,” said Marjorie. “You needn’t worry about Ethel and me—we can take care of ourselves.”

“Well, be sure to write to me as soon as it is over! I can’t help being worried.”

“All right,” agreed Marjorie, laughingly; “I will.”

True to his promise, however, Marjorie’s brother Jack made no attempt to dissuade her from her purpose, and refrained from writing his parents anything about it. When the evening for the event arrived, he drove over with John Hadley in the Ford to take the girls down to the tea-house and to see that they were comfortably established for the night.

Since Mrs. Hadley happened to be with them, and could act as chaperone, the girls invited the boys to come in for refreshments. While Marjorie was making some lemonade in the kitchen, John and Jack went all over the house, examining every corner to make sure that there was no one in concealment. In the dim candle-light the cellar appeared forbidding, but upon examination it proved to be as harmless as the rest of the house.

“Any ghosts?” asked Marjorie, as they returned.

“No—not a sign of one!” replied John. “You aren’t the least bit scared, are you, Marj?”

“Mercy no!” laughed the girl, lightly. “Jack, come crack some ice! And tell me, would you boys rather have sandwiches or fudge-layer cake?”

“Both!” replied her brother immediately, as he searched for the ice-pick.

When the refreshments were ready the little party adjourned to the porch to enjoy the delightful breeze that was blowing. Neither girl felt the least bit nervous about the approaching adventure, but as the minutes passed and everything grew quieter, Mrs. Hadley showed increasing concern.

“Marjorie,” she said, as she listened to a near-by clock toll out eleven strokes, “won’t you please let us all stay all night here? The boys wouldn’t mind finding a place on the floor down stairs, and we three could put the two cots together upstairs.”

Marjorie smiled at the suggestion; there would be no possible reason for her remaining there over night if she had the protection of the boys.

“No, thanks, Mrs. Hadley—though it’s awfully kind of you to offer. But the boys had their chance, and didn’t discover anything—now Ethel and I want to see what we can do.”

“Then let me stay!” urged the older woman, “Without the boys.”

“Oh, no, really!” replied both girls at once.

“It would be too uncomfortable,” added Ethel. “You know those army cots aren’t especially soft—”

“And if we had to share them, we’d never get any sleep!” put in Marjorie. “Please, please, don’t worry! We’ll be all right.”

Seeing that further argument would be of no avail, Mrs. Hadley finally decided to go away and let the girls carry out their wishes. But she did not look any too content as she said goodbye.

Marjorie and Ethel bolted both doors on the inside, and made their way upstairs, laden with two flash-lights, some pillows, and a revolver. Since there were no shades at the windows, they did not turn on the light, but crept into their cots after removing only their shoes.

“My brother is the most sensible one of the bunch,” observed Marjorie, as she lay still, gazing through the window at the tree-tops. “I know John and Mrs. Hadley were about as nervous as Marie Louise.”

“Yes,” returned Ethel; “and isn’t it all absurd?”

“What do you honestly think did happen to Anna that night?” asked Marjorie. “Do you think she made the whole story up?”

“No, I don’t,” replied Ethel, with sincerity. “I think she actually dreamed the whole thing—and walked in her sleep, and got out of the house somehow.”

“But how?”

“That I don’t know. But I have read strange instances of people making discoveries in their sleep—things they could never find out when they were awake. So she may have found some hidden door, or loose window, or something like that.”

“Well, I hope we don’t do anything queer like that,” observed Marjorie, beginning to be influenced in spite of herself by the loneliness of the place. “You don’t walk in your sleep, do you Ethel?”

“Gracious, no!” laughed the other girl. “And by the way, if either of us does get awake, let’s make a promise to wake the other. There’s no use lying here feeling lonely.”

“Agreed!” replied Marjorie.

Notwithstanding her courage, it took Marjorie longer to go to sleep than she had expected. Unconsciously, as she lay there, she listened to every noise; but as they all came from without, she was not in the least fearful. Her mind seemed to be unusually active, so she began to plan out some menus, and to reckon up their financial status at the present moment. There was no doubt about it, the outlook was good; unless something unforeseen turned up to stop their business, the scouts would probably make enough money to support Mrs. Trawle and her baby in an economical manner all winter.

She thought of other summers—pleasant, useful summers in which their time had not been wasted—but she realized that no vacation had ever been so filled with service as this one. And, in consequence, she knew that it was her happiest.

Then her mind returned to John Hadley and his mother, and she recalled with gratitude how much they had done for her enterprise, how priceless their help had been. She began to dream of the associations this summer would hold for her with this loyal young man, and from her dreams she drifted peacefully into sleep.

Neither girl awakened until just before dawn—when a faint light was beginning to come in through the windows, making the outline of the objects in the room just barely visible. Marjorie was slowly aroused out of her sleep by a mechanical, repeated knocking. She sat up in her cot, wondering what it could be.

The sound seemed to come from below, and her first thought was that someone was trying to get in. It went on for another full minute; surely, she thought, Ethel must soon awaken. But her companion continued to sleep.

Summoning all her courage, she got out of her cot, and stepped noiselessly to the window, unhooked the screen, and leaned out. All was very still outside; not an automobile was passing, not a pedestrian stirring. But to her amazement, she realized that the rapping, though still audible at intervals, was not nearly so plain now as it had been in the room. What was the significance? Her heart fluttered wildly as she thought of the only possible interpretation: the knocking must come from within!

Thoroughly terrified now, she turned back into the room and wakened her sleeping companion. Ethel testified to the reality of the knocks—now coming only at stated intervals—but nevertheless still sounding.

“What can it be?” whispered Marjorie.

“I don’t believe in spirit rappings,” said Ethel, “but from what I’ve read of them, these knocks fit in remarkably well with their description.”

“Oh, Ethel, it can’t be! Somebody must be playing a joke on us!”

“Nobody would do that,” replied the older girl. “It’s too serious a matter!”

“But what shall we do?” Marjorie was dangerously near to tears.

“Oh, we won’t do anything till it’s light,” said Ethel. “Then we’ll go home.”

“But what can it be?”

“I think it must be a rat gnawing something, or a cat—or even a bat. There, how’s that for a rhyme!”

Marjorie laughed a little, and felt better for the joke. Then Ethel crawled over into the cot beside her, and, with their arms entwined about each other, they tried to go to sleep. But though the rapping continued at less frequent intervals, it was still audible, and neither girl was able to forget it.

For half an hour they lay very still, watching the light grow more distinct, and rejoicing secretly at the approach of day. When it was bright enough for Ethel to see her watch, they resolved to get up. They had not heard a knock for the space of five minutes or so, and were beginning to make light of their fears when three sounded in succession.

“Oh!” whispered Marjorie, who was now at the top of the stairs, “I do believe it comes from the cellar!”

“Yes, so do I!” agreed Ethel. “Got the revolver?”

“Yes—shall—we go down?”

“No,” said Ethel; “but we’re going to open the door and listen. I wouldn’t be surprised if we heard a scurry of little feet.”

“No doubt! No doubt!” muttered Marjorie.

They descended the staircase and went to the front door and unbolted it. Everything without was peaceful and beautiful in the soft morning light, and both girls breathed a sigh of relief. They were glad that the night was over.

“Now for the cellar!” said Marjorie, turning back into the hall. “What do you say if I shoot my revolver down once?”

“No! No!” objected Ethel. “It might frighten the neighbors.”

“All right—unless I hear something,” said Marjorie. “Now—come on!”

They stepped up to the cellar-door and unfastened it, thrusting their heads cautiously into the blackness. A moment later they heard the same rapping—distinct, menacing, ominous. Ethel grasped Marjorie’s hand in terror.

“Marj!” she whispered. “Oh—”

But a hollow, monotonous voice, like one from the spirit world, froze the sentence on her lips.


Ethel grabbed again at Marjorie’s arm, as if to draw her forcefully away. But now Marjorie was the braver.

“Take that!” she cried, firing three shots in succession aimlessly into the cellar. “Whoever you are!”

But to both girls’ astonishment, there was no reply. Turning about swiftly, they fled wildly through the hall, and out the door, never stopping until they had reached the gate. There they almost bumped into a car, stationed, with its engine running, across the very entrance.

“Marj! Ethel!” cried two very familiar voices, and the girls fairly dropped into the arms of Jack Wilkinson and John Hadley, who had just descended from the latter’s Ford.

“Tell us! Quick!” demanded John. “Are you hurt?”

“Who was it?” asked Jack. “Who shot?”

“I did,” replied Marjorie. “But I don’t know at whom. But—where were you?”

“We slept here in the Ford all night after we took mother home,” John explained. “The shots awakened us—we were just across the road behind a tree—and so we pulled right over.”

“Do you want us to go in to the house?” asked Jack.

“No!” replied Marjorie. “Take us home while we tell you the story. Then you can come back and search, if you like.”

“Suppose John takes you home, and I go in with the revolver?” suggested her brother.

“No! No!” pleaded Ethel, very near to hysterics now. “Nobody must go in alone. And I want to get away! Oh, please—”

“Certainly,” said John, sympathetically, as he helped the girls into the car.

But when the boys returned, half an hour later, they found, just as they had expected, no traces of any living creature in the cellar, or in fact in any part of the house.


When the boys drove Marjorie and Ethel into the yard of the Harris house, they found everything absolutely quiet. The doors were still locked, the occupants evidently still asleep.

“Have you a key?” asked John of the girls.

“No, not with us,” replied Ethel. “But we’re going to wake everybody up anyhow. They’ll surely want to hear what happened.”

“Just wait till Marie Louise hears about it!” said Marjorie, now able to laugh at the incident. “My, but she’ll hold it over us!”

“Do you intend to inform the police?” asked John.

“No, I’d rather not,” answered Marjorie. “Because they wouldn’t believe us any more than they did Anna.”

They all got out of the car and Jack ran up the steps to ring the bell. In a minute or two Mrs. Munsen answered it—fully dressed. She was just about to come downstairs to start her preparations for the day.

“Jack Wilkinson!” she exclaimed, in apprehension. Then, a moment later, she caught sight of Ethel and Marjorie and her fears vanished.

“Will you take in two wanderers?” asked Jack, with a smile. “We must go right back to the tea-house.”

As soon as Mrs. Munsen looked into the girls’ faces, she knew that they had been through an unpleasant experience. Her motherly heart went out to them instantly, and she put her arms about their shoulders.

“You’re neither of you hurt?” she asked, first of all.

“No! No!” replied Marjorie, reassuringly. “But we have been frightened a little.”

“Come out in the kitchen while I make you some coffee,” she suggested; “and then you can tell me the whole story.”

While Mrs. Munsen busied herself with the preparations for breakfast, Marjorie related the incidents of their adventure—the strange knocking, the voice of warning, and finally their own flight after she had fired three times into the cellar. She mentioned their surprise and relief in finding the boys waiting for them, and their joy at being home again.

The older woman listened to the story with an increasing sense of alarm; now she was wholly convinced that the tea-house was overshadowed by some evil presence. She could not find words strong enough to express her opinions.

“Girls, you must take this warning,” she said, her voice full of anxiety. “From now on, we must do nothing foolish. It is positively unsafe to tamper with matters like this.”

Marjorie did not make any attempt to oppose her; in fact both girls were too perplexed and too exhausted to know what they really thought. They drank their coffee gratefully in silence.

By the time the other scouts were downstairs and breakfast was ready, the boys returned from their trip to the tea-house, but without evidence. Mrs. Munsen asked them to remain for the meal—an invitation which they both instantly accepted.

Ethel related the incidents over again for the benefit of those who had not heard them, and the girls listened in terrified amazement. It seemed all the more incredible because two such self-possessed girls as Ethel Todd and Marjorie Wilkinson had been participants.

“Now maybe you will believe Anna!” remarked Marie Louise, triumphantly.

“Yes, I believe something happened to Anna, all right!” assented Marjorie. “But I still don’t acknowledge that a spirit is the cause.”

“Oh, Marjorie,” exclaimed Mrs. Munsen, in a pained tone. “How can you doubt so—with such facts as these before you?”

“Well, the main question,” said Florence, “is—what are we going to do about it?”

“Yes. Shall we close the tea-house?” asked Alice.

“I should say not!” announced Marjorie, vehemently. “We’re going to stick it out till we solve this mystery!”

“But if anybody really is afraid, I think she better go home,” put in Ethel. “It’s too serious a thing to force any girl to go through with—”

“Oh, certainly!” Marjorie hastened to add.

“Anyway,” remarked Alice, “whatever we decide to do later, there’s only one thing to do now—let Ethel and Marjorie get some rest. And that reminds me, don’t forget our picnic today. We’ll go just the same, won’t we?”

“Oh, certainly!” replied Ethel, immediately.

The picnic, which had been arranged through the generosity of Agnes Taylor and a group of her friends who had offered to substitute for the girls, was to be held at an outlying pleasure park. All of the scouts who were not Philadelphians had been anxious to visit this renowned spot, but, on account of the rush of business, had been unable to find a time. Marjorie happened to express her regret one day in Agnes’s presence, and the girl cheerfully offered to serve with her friends in the scouts’ places.

Since both Marjorie and Ethel felt sure that nothing unusual would happen at the tea-house during the hours of daylight, they resolved to say nothing of their early morning adventure to the girls in charge. There seemed to be no reason to arouse their fears unnecessarily.

After several hours’ good sleep, Marjorie and Ethel appeared at the luncheon table as bright and as fresh as if they had gone through no harrowing experience. Both girls even insisted upon helping with the preparations for the picnic supper.

“The boys still want to go,” remarked Alice, as she packed the waxed-paper sandwiches into a basket. “John made one more plea as he left the house this afternoon.”

Marjorie was amused at his persistence, but she showed no signs of relenting.

“Nobody but Roger!” she said, firmly. “He has to come or Doris would pass away.”

“That’s just what Jack and John denounced as unfair,” continued Alice. “They said if Roger could come, they could!”

“But Roger’s married. And besides, even he isn’t expected for supper.”

“I’m putting in a little extra,” observed Mrs. Munsen, “in case he should turn up unexpectedly. You don’t want the poor boy to go hungry!”

“Oh, Mrs. Munsen, you’re entirely too kind-hearted!” said Marjorie. “Let the man go to a restaurant for once; it wouldn’t hurt him!”

“What’s all this I hear about my husband?” inquired Doris, from the kitchen. “Don’t you dare abuse him!”

“Nobody’s abusing him,” laughed Ethel. “Come on, girls, hurry! It’s after two, and if we don’t get to the park early, we won’t have time to try all the amusements before supper.”

“And if we don’t try them before we eat, I’m sure we won’t want to afterwards,” remarked Alice.

“And no matter which way we do it, we’ll all probably see Marj’s ghost tonight,” added Florence. “At least if we succeed in making away with all this food Mrs. Munsen is providing.”

The preparations were finished at last, and the girls, each laden with a basket or a box of some sort, walked to the trolley-car which was to take them on their excursion. In vain John had offered his car, suggesting that they also make use of Lily’s, which was at their disposal during the latter’s absence; but all the scouts announced their preference for the more plebian mode of travel. They felt as if they would enjoy the park better if they adopted the usual method in reaching it.

They arrived shortly after three o’clock, and after selecting a big picnic table under the trees, and establishing Mrs. Munsen there with a magazine and her knitting, and piling the packages around her, the merry party of seven went off to take in the amusements. Forgetting their years and their dignity as proprietresses of a business and sponsors of a baby, they entered as joyously into the fun as if they were children—singing on the airships and carousels, screaming at the breath-taking descents of the scenic railways. They made the rounds thoroughly, spending money extravagantly, in order not to miss a single sensation. At last, when it was nearly six o’clock, they returned tired but happy to Mrs. Munsen’s table.

“Well, you look as if you had a good time!” she said, smiling at their flushed faces. “It does me good to see you drop your worries for a while.”

“We did have a good time!” announced Marjorie. “We didn’t miss a single thing!”

“And here you have supper all ready, too!” remarked Ethel. “Really, Mrs. Munsen, that is too much! Why didn’t you wait?”

“Oh, my dear, there was nothing much to do. I enjoyed it. And we’re going to have coffee, too! I made arrangements for that!”

“Wonderful!” exclaimed Alice. “I move we start right in now—immediately. I’m as hungry as a bear!”

For twenty minutes or so they were so occupied with the business of serving themselves and each other, and eating the delicious food they had brought, that there was no concerted effort at conversation. At last, when their hunger showed signs of being satisfied, they began to go into detail about the afternoon’s amusement.

It was Doris who first mentioned the boys, regretting the fact that they were not there to enjoy the supper.

“It certainly is a pity,” she said, “to think of their eating in restaurants and boarding-houses with all this marvellous food going to waste. For we can never eat it all!”

“Yes, I have to admit that Marjorie was hard-hearted,” said Mrs. Munsen.

“Oh, the food won’t be wasted!” replied Marjorie, undisturbed by the accusation. “I mean to take it home with me. We can feed it to the girls at the tea-house.”

“It’s possible,” observed Doris slowly, keeping her eyes fixed on a distant point near the entrance of the park, “that you may not have to take it home.” Suddenly she jumped up and waved her arms in ecstasy.

“Doris, are you having a fit?” asked Ethel, watching her motions in perplexity.

“I presume,” said Marjorie, “that the young lady’s husband is coming.”

“He is! He is!” cried the happy bride. “And it’s only twenty-five after six—so I guess he didn’t wait to get his supper.”

Marjorie uttered a groan of mock distress.

“I thought we couldn’t run away—” she began; but Mrs. Munsen hastened to interrupt her by assuring Doris that there was still plenty to eat.

“But I do believe he has two men with him,” continued Doris, who had not been listening to the remarks which had just been made for her benefit. “It must be—yes—it is—Jack Wilkinson and John Hadley!”

“Well, of all the nerve!” cried Marjorie. “That beats everything! I wonder who they think invited them!”

“Roger probably,” answered Doris, meekly.

Marjorie relented a little at the other girl’s penitence, for she seemed to consider herself to blame. It was impossible to be angry with Doris for any length of time.

The boys let out a joyous war-whoop as soon as they caught sight of the girls, and Roger, reaching the group first, boldly kissed his blushing bride in front of them all.

“It seems as if it is impossible to get away from some people!” remarked Marjorie, with a significant glance at her brother and John Hadley.

“Oh, we intended to come, all along,” remarked Jack, calmly. “Hope you have plenty for us to eat!” He sat down between Marie Louise and Ethel.

“Yes, indeed, plenty!” said Mrs. Munsen, cordially. “The girls have stopped already, and there is lots of salad, and sandwiches, besides two big cakes and some fruit for dessert.”

“It’s a good thing!” observed Jack, helping himself liberally to chicken salad, “for Dick Roberts said he might drop over, and bring Warner and Ellison. So you see, Sis, you might as well have invited us anyhow.”

Marjorie laughed good-naturedly, and gave up trying to squelch her irrepressible brother.

When, a few minutes later, not only Dick and Bill Warner and Pierce Ellison, but also Eugene Schofield arrived and announced that they too had come for supper, the party was complete. Marjorie admitted herself entirely outwitted, and Mrs. Munsen beamed with joy at seeing her good food so well appreciated.

“But you boys are too late for the amusements,” said Ethel. “We did them all this afternoon.”

“Not too late for dancing, though, are we?” asked Pierce.

Mrs. Munsen wrinkled her forehead in doubt.

“I don’t know,” she replied, in uncertainty; “it may be all right—and it may not. But so long as this is a public park, let’s stay on the safe side, and dance when you get home.”

“Agreed!” cried Marjorie, cheerfully. “We’ll go listen to the first concert in the music pavilion, and then make an early departure.”

During all this merry, care-free time, there had been no reference to the girls’ early morning experience; indeed, it seemed almost as if the incident had been forgotten. But on their way to the pavilion, Jack and John joined Marjorie and Ethel, and instantly the subject was brought up again.

“You still don’t think it was a ghost?” asked John of Marjorie.

“No, I don’t! If it was, why did Anna and Ethel and I hear the voice—and not you boys or the policemen?”

“Of course that’s true,” admitted John. “Though they do say women and girls are more sensitive, and therefore more susceptible to spiritual influences—”

“Nonsense!” cried Marjorie. “It’s somebody—some person who wants to scare us girls! And I mean to sift the thing to the bottom!”

“But how?” asked Jack, a little alarmed at his sister’s daring.

“I’m not sure,” replied Marjorie. “But I think I have a plan—”

“And Marj’s plans always work!” exclaimed Ethel, admiringly.

“And—your plan—involves just girls?” asked John, in a disappointed tone.

“My plan,” announced Marjorie, “involves at least three people—and maybe more—myself, and my brother, and another boy!”

“Bravo!” cried Jack, grasping Marjorie’s shoulder in approval. “I’m with you to the end, Sis!”

“And so am I!” added John, quietly.


It was not until the following day, when Marjorie faced a free morning, that she had an opportunity to go over the events of the previous day and weigh their significance. Then, with the excitement of the picnic behind her, she was able to think calmly.

The more she thought of the strange voice she and Ethel had heard in the cellar, the more anxious she was to learn its source. Now she felt angry with herself for running away; she wished that she had accepted the boys’ offer to return immediately and explore the cellar. It had been ridiculous to allow such an opportunity to pass.

She took her fancy-work and went down on the porch, hoping that Ethel, who was also free that morning, would join her. She longed to talk the matter over with her, and to tell her of the plan she was formulating.

She did not have to wait long, for in a few minutes Ethel appeared, with two or three magazines. But Marjorie had no intention of allowing her to read.

“I’m so glad you came out,” said Marjorie. “For I’ve been dying to talk the whole thing over without the other girls. And of course last night we were too tired—”

“Yes, I didn’t even give it a thought after I got into bed, I was so sleepy,” said Ethel. “But I certainly have been trying to figure it out this morning. I positively can’t make head or tail of it.”

“Neither can I. And yet we didn’t dream it—we certainly wouldn’t both dream it—”

“Don’t you think it could possibly have been a spirit?” asked Ethel.

“No, I don’t. I think somebody wants to get us out of that house—though for what reason under the sun, I can’t imagine—and is using this method to frighten us. Because, otherwise, why should only we girls experience it, and never the men?”

“You don’t think the boys could have heard something of the kind and refrained from telling us for fear of scaring us?”

“If they had, Ethel,” replied Marjorie, convincingly, “Jack and John never would have consented to letting you and me stay alone in the house all night—even with their watching as close as they were. No, I know them both too well for that!”

“I guess you’re right,” admitted Ethel. “Well, Marj, what are we going to do about it—just ignore it all? We have nearly a month yet—”

“No, I really mean to do something, as I said last night to the boys, to get to the bottom of it. I have a plan—rather vague, I’ll admit—but still, it’s a plan.”

“Tell me about it!” urged her companion.

“Well, it’s based on this idea: whoever they are that want to frighten us away, they plan their attacks for only the times when we girls are alone in the house. Evidently, then, there is no hope of using the boys to help catch them. Neither do I think there is any chance of our doing anything, against men; we’d only get into trouble. So our one salvation lies in getting two or three of the boys to disguise themselves as girls, and go after them.”

“Splendid!” cried Ethel, approvingly. “But wouldn’t they recognize their voices?”

“Yes, if it is necessary to do any talking. I thought we might work out some such scheme as this—have Jack, disguised as a girl, and me sleep all night at the house; and have John and maybe one or two of the others,—either hidden or disguised—outside. I really haven’t worked out the details of the plot a bit, because I thought Jack and John could do much better than I could.”

“It’s wonderful!” cried Ethel, in growing admiration. “I’m sort of jealous of you, though—being the only girl—”

“I’d include you, Ethel, if I thought it were wise. But it seems to me we better not have too many, and of course it would be best for me because Jack is my brother. But we won’t decide anything definitely until I talk it over with Jack and John at the tea-house this evening.”

The girls continued to discuss the subject until Marie Louise and Florence came up on the porch, and then they dropped it for discretion’s sake. The whole effectiveness of the plan would be lost if the disguise were to be common knowledge.

At luncheon the scouts all asked Marjorie what she intended to do in regard to the warning she had received.

“I don’t know yet,” she replied, truthfully. “I want to talk it over with the boys and make some arrangements for staying again all night at the tea-house.”

“No! No! Marjorie!” cried Marie Louise, aghast at the idea. “Oh, please take the warning seriously, and stay away from there at night!”

Marjorie smilingly shook her head.

“No, Marie Louise; it’s our duty as truth-loving Girl Scouts to get to the bottom of this thing. But I won’t be foolish—I’m going to proceed very carefully.”

“Well, in the meanwhile, I hope nothing dreadful happens,” she observed.

“How are we working today?” asked Ethel, abruptly. “I’ve had so many other things to think about that I’ve almost forgotten there is such a thing as work.”

“Everybody’s on all afternoon,” replied Marie Louise. “But Alice and I go off at four o’clock because we worked this morning. And you and Marjorie are supposed to stay latest, and close the house.”

“Suits me!” announced Marjorie. “Jack and John will surely be down this evening, and it will give us a chance to talk things over.”

The business at the tea-house was as gratifying as ever that afternoon; perhaps because it was particularly warm and sultry, a larger number of patrons than usual came in to enjoy the ice-cream and the ice-tea, and to rest beneath the electric fans; for as soon as the money had begun to pour in with greater rapidity, Marjorie had installed them in the tea-room and in the rest-room. The girls themselves were so busy and so happy in their service that they did not notice the heat. Indeed, it was only after Marie Louise and Alice made their departure that they began to feel fatigued.

About six o’clock the rush seemed to be over, and Marjorie insisted that all except Ethel and herself go home for supper. Then, in the lull that followed, they found something to eat, and waited impatiently for the coming of the boys. When they finally arrived, Marjorie lost no time in putting her new plan up to them.

“But let’s wait several days,” she concluded, “while you people figure it out to the best advantage. We want to lay a regular Sherlock Holmes trap, and catch the enemy without any slips. So—think as hard as you can.”

“We certainly will!” cried both boys, in excitement.

They fell so heartily into Marjorie’s proposition, and seemed so confident of success, that for the first time since the opening of the tea-house, the girls really felt as if most of the obstacles were behind her. She was naturally disgruntled therefore to be greeted, upon reaching home, with the news of a fresh disaster.

“Marie Louise and Alice have disappeared!” announced Florence, almost before the girls were out of John’s car.

“What?” cried Marjorie, standing perfectly still on the step of the Ford. “What did you say?”

“Marie Louise and Alice have not been seen since this afternoon!” repeated Florence. “And what is more—the last person who saw them was Anna—and she thinks they went down the cellar of the tea-house!”

“Oh, no! No!” protested Marjorie. “Oh, not that!”

“Well, she really isn’t a bit sure,” said Mae Van Horn. “But it was rush hour, you know, and she says the girls were going off duty and came back to the kitchen for something to eat. You know we just got in that barrel of apples—the first of the season—and Marie Louise said they each wanted one. And Anna told them the barrel was down the cellar.”

“And they went down?” asked Marjorie, incredulously. “You can’t make me believe that Marie Louise braved the terrors of that cellar just for the sake of an apple!”

“Well, I don’t know,” said Mae. “Anna didn’t see whether they went or not. Anyway, they expected to be back for supper—and they’re not here yet—and it’s almost eight o’clock!”

“John,” said Marjorie, descending from the step of the car and taking the tea-house key from her pocket, “you and Jack go back and search that cellar. And I’ll go call up Doris and all Marie Louise’s other friends I can think of.”

In fifteen minutes Marjorie came out to the porch again and reported no success.

“Of course not!” said Mrs. Munsen, who was even more anxious than any of the girls. “Marie Louise is always thoughtful about telephoning when she expects to miss a meal.”

“She may be at the tea-house,” observed Ethel.

“Oh, I hope not!” sighed Mrs. Munsen. “Then surely something dreadful would have happened to them!”

But in a few minutes the boys also returned to tell of their failure. They had searched the tea-house carefully, from top to bottom, without any results.

“Did you get a warning from the spirit world?” asked Florence, half mockingly.

“No; the house was as silent as a tomb,” replied John.

“The poor ghosts have to sleep sometime!” remarked Mae, lightly.

“Girls!” reproved Mrs. Munsen; “this is serious—it’s no time for joking! We must do something to find Marie Louise and Alice.”

“But what?” asked Marjorie. “Go to the police again?”

“Oh, they’re no good!” said Jack, contemptuously. “We’d better hunt the girls ourselves.”

“I honestly think they’ll show up soon,” declared Ethel. “Maybe they went for a walk, and got lost—”

“But Marie Louise is a Philadelphian,” protested Florence.

The sharp, insistent ring of the telephone interrupted the conversation, and Marjorie hurried off to answer it. In a moment she was back again.

“They’re safe—and all right!” she announced, joyously. “They’re waiting for a taxi, and will be here in about twenty minutes.”

“But where are they, and where have they been?” demanded Mrs. Munsen.

“Somewhere in town—I couldn’t understand just where. They were unavoidably detained; they said they’d explain when they get here.”

The girls put in the next twenty minutes of waiting in discussing Alice’s and Marie Louise’s possible reason for being away. At last they all agreed that the ghost at the haunted house could have no possible connection with this adventure, and generally agreed that the girls must have gone to a show. Nevertheless, when Alice and Marie Louise actually reached the porch steps, this was the first question they were greeted with:

“Did the ghost kidnap you girls?” It was Mae who asked it.

“No,” answered Marie Louise, dropping into a chair, and removing her hat; “no, the ghost didn’t get after us—we went after the ghost!”

“What do you mean?” cried two or three of the girls at once.

“Tell us the whole story!” urged Florence.

“Well,” began Marie Louise, “after Marj talked at lunch time about spending another night at the tea-house in spite of that warning which she and Ethel received, I began to be worried. I thought we ought to know whether there was anything to it—if the spirits really were opposed to our using the house. So I decided to find out.”

“To find out!” repeated Marjorie in surprise. “But how did you experiment?”

“No, not experiment!” corrected Marie Louise. “We went straight to the proper source for information. Alice and I consulted a medium!”

“So that is what you were doing in town!” remarked Mrs. Munsen. Then, her mind suddenly switching from the mental to the physical. “And haven’t you had any supper?”

“We had ice-cream while we were waiting for the taxi,” replied Alice.

“You poor dears!” cried the older woman, rising. “I’ll hear the rest later, and go fix your something to eat.”

As soon as she was gone, Marie Louise went on with her story.

“I had the name of a medium a friend of mine went to see in the city,” she said; “so as soon as I knew we would be off at four o’clock, I persuaded Alice to go with me.”

“I really was crazy to go,” put in her companion.

“Naturally!” remarked Florence.

“Well,” continued the narrator, “we didn’t have any trouble getting there, but we found we had to wait. There were several other clients before us in her office.”

“What sort of woman was she?” asked Marjorie.

“Oh, quite ordinary,” replied Marie Louise. “Thin and scrawny—”

“And a little dirty,” added Alice.

“Did she use cards, or those other devices fortune-tellers have?” asked Ethel.

“No, she looked at us steadily for about five minutes—it wasn’t dark in the room—and then began to ask questions and tell us things.”

“How much of the story did you tell her?” inquired Marjorie.

“Practically everything. Then she went off in a trance for about five minutes.”

“Yes—yes?” The interest was intense now.

“Finally she opened her eyes and said it is the spirit of the young man’s mother that is haunting the house. She—or it—can’t bear to have any young people around except him.”

“Then what are we to do?” asked Mae, breathlessly.

“She said she thought it might be safe to go on with the tea-house, as that is strictly for charity, but that under no condition should we have parties or entertain in any way, or stay all night in the house.”

“That’s all rubbish!” cried Marjorie, jumping up impatiently. “She just made that up! Anyone of us could have told you as much—”

“And what did she charge you for this precious bit of information?” asked Ethel, cynically.

Marie Louise did not answer, but suddenly began to sob hysterically.

“You girls are mean!” cried Alice. “After all our trouble—”

“Oh, Marie Louise!” said Marjorie, instantly apologetic; “I’m so sorry if I hurt your feelings! I honestly didn’t mean to—”

“Neither did I!” added Ethel. “Do forgive us!”

“Your supper’s ready, girls!” interrupted a kindly voice from the doorway, and the whole party adjourned to the dining-room.

This little adventure did not have the slightest influence upon Marjorie; she continued to go on with her arrangements for spending another night at the tea-house.


It was the end of the first week in August. Marjorie had just returned from taking Mae Van Horn to the station in Lily’s car, and now she was waiting for the time to arrive when she might go to meet Lily herself. She was, as usual, happy over the prospect of seeing her chum again.

“I’ve never seen you so excited over seeing John Hadley as you are over meeting Lily,” remarked Ethel, who was sitting on the porch with Marjorie. “I wish you showed as much love for me!”

“Why, Ethel—” began her room-mate, reproachfully.

The other girl laughed good-naturedly.

“But you seem anxious to get rid of me—to make me take a vacation—”

“That’s because I think you need it!”

“But you need one yourself!”

“You know I can’t go, Ethel, till I help the boys clear up this mystery.”

“Sometimes” remarked her companion, “I think it would be just as wise not to bother. We have only three weeks more—we’re out of debt now—and everything we make is clear profit. Why not let well enough alone?”

“Oh, Ethel, I couldn’t do it! My curiosity has the best of me. Besides, I have a new scheme up my sleeve!”

“A new scheme? What?” demanded Ethel. It seemed as if Marjorie’s brain were never idle.

“Why, we have done so well this summer in establishing a business, that I think we could ‘sell out.’ We have proved that the thing pays, so perhaps some ambitious woman might buy our trade and our equipment, if we advertise.”

“Good gracious, Marj! That’s a splendid idea! It ought to net us quite a comfortable little sum!”

“That’s what I think. But don’t you see that it would be wrong—almost dishonest—to sell a business with such a shadow hanging over it? Suppose something dreadful were to happen—wouldn’t you feel responsible?”

“Yes, I suppose I would,” Ethel admitted.

“So you see how necessary it is for us to clear the name,” explained Marjorie. “And therefore I can’t very well take a vacation. But you must—for a week, at least!”

“Well, then, I will. Come on—isn’t it time to go to meet Lily?”

“I guess it is,” replied Marjorie, consulting her watch.

The girls reached the station just as the train pulled in. Marjorie was thankful to see it on time; she hated waiting, particularly when she had so much to tell Lily.

“Aren’t you crazy to drive your car again?” asked Marjorie, when the three girls were in the roadster, with the former still at the wheel.

“Yes, but you may drive,” replied Lily. “Provided you don’t get arrested.”

“I’ll try not to,” laughed Marjorie. “Now—tell us all the news!”

“No, you tell me first! I’m terribly excited about the ghost at the tea-house. Of course I got your letter, describing your night there. Has anything happened since?”

“No, we haven’t done anything. But we are laying the plot for Saturday night.”

“Oh, Marj, you aren’t going to stay there again—all night!” gasped Lily, with a shudder at the very idea of the thing.

“Yes, I am, too!”

“And are you, too, Ethel?”

“No; I’ve just promised Marj to take a week’s holiday, so I’ll miss out this time.”

“Then who is going to stay there with you?” demanded Lily.

A naughty twinkle came into Marjorie’s eyes.

“I am counting on you, Lily!”

“Oh, no, Marj! Oh, I just couldn’t! I wouldn’t be one bit of use! I—”

“You’re very brave, Lily!” teased her chum.

“Well, I will if you want me to!” she sighed, meekly.

“No, Lil dear, I don’t want you to,” Marjorie reassured her. “In fact, I don’t want any girl to! I’m going to make use of my brother—and perhaps some of the other boys. But don’t say a word about that part of the scheme. It’s a dead secret.”

“All right,” agreed Lily. “I really do feel relieved, though.”

They talked of other things for a while—Lily’s trip; her visit to Mrs. Trawle, whose health was still improving; the picnic; and the outlook for the tea-house. Lily said that her father felt immensely proud of the scouts for being able to repay that loan so quickly.

“He said you were such a capable little business woman, Marj, that it would be pity for you to get married,” she added.

“I’m not thinking of getting married,” replied Marjorie. “In fact, the only time I do think of it is when you mention it.”

“No, Marj has stuck pretty closely to business this summer, I will say that for her,” remarked Ethel. “Of course she sees John every day or so, but it’s all very matter-of-fact.”

When the girls reached home, Lily found a cordial reception awaiting her. Mrs. Munsen and Mrs. Hadley had offered to go down to the tea-house during the supper hour so that the scouts might have the meal together.

“Lily,” said Alice, after they were seated at the table, “I know you like parties, so, if you and Marj are willing, I want to arrange one for Friday night.”

“Yes, I love parties,” replied Lily, enthusiastically. She was thinking of the house-warming in the beginning of the summer, and of the picnic supper she had just missed.

“Well, this one would be a little out of the ordinary, but everybody likes the idea—except Marie Louise. And I think we can win her over!”

“Oh, we can’t possibly have a party that Marie Louise doesn’t approve of,” objected Marjorie. “Why, this is her house—”

“But it isn’t to be held here,” said Alice. “We thought of using the tea-house!”

“Yes! Yes!” cried Marjorie, her eyes sparkling with delight at the prospect of something adventurous.

“Not after that warning!” protested Lily in horror.

“I guess if Marj can plan to spend another night there—practically alone,” said Alice, “we could afford to take a chance in a crowd. Besides we might make some discoveries.”

“Tell us your idea, Alice!” urged Marjorie.

“Well, I’d like for us all to go down to the tea-house after supper Friday night—with Mrs. Hadley and Mrs. Munsen, but not any of the boys—and invite that medium that Marie Louise and I consulted, and try some table-moving and spirit-rapping stuff. She ought to be able to tell whether it is all a fake. And then, if nothing happens, we can end up just like an ordinary party, with ice-cream and cake.”

“What fun!” cried Florence, in delight. “I think that’s a great idea, Alice.”

“But can you get the medium?” asked Ethel.

“Yes, I’m sure we can, if we pay her enough. And we can all put together.—What do you, say Marj?”

“I’m game!” replied the latter, instantly.

Accordingly, Alice went ahead with her arrangements as soon as she was able to win Marie Louise and Mrs. Munsen to agreement. She was sorry to have Ethel miss the party by leaving the day before for her vacation, but fortunately Daisy Gravers arrived to take her place. The time was set for half-past eight on Friday evening.

The girls managed to close the tea-room rather early that night, but encountered severe opposition in attempting to chase the boys away.

“Please let us stay—if we have to hide somewhere!” begged Jack.

“No,” replied Marjorie, firmly. “And don’t think that because you won out at the picnic supper that you will again. I’m not going to relent.”

“But if nobody knew that we were there”—pleaded Jack.

“No! Your turn’s coming tomorrow night! Be satisfied with that!”

“Do you want my revolver, then, Sis?” asked Jack, giving up in despair.

“Yes, I would like to have it,” replied Marjorie. “Because if we hear anything from the cellar, I’m going to lead a party down to investigate.”

“Do be careful, Marjorie!” warned John.

“And don’t solve the whole mystery, so that there’s nothing left for us fellows to do tomorrow night,” added Jack.

“Don’t worry!” laughed his sister.

The rest of the girls arrived at the tea-house about eight o’clock, and the medium came soon after. One of the larger tea-tables had been moved into the rest-room for the use of the party and the young people gathered about it.

“Must we turn the lights down low?” asked Marjorie, respectfully, as if she had full faith in the proceeding.

The medium shook her head.

“Not necessarily,” she replied. “It is more important that everyone be in sympathy.”

The girls laid their hands upon the table as the woman directed, their finger-tips barely resting on its surface. They sat perfectly quiet for nearly ten minutes; no one broke the spell by so much as a smile. Then the medium passed one hand lightly across her forehead, saying:

“I am getting in touch with the spirit world. When the table begins to move, you may ask questions. The table’s moving up and down three times will signify ‘yes’; once, ‘no.’ Do not ask your questions too quickly after the table first moves; give me time to establish perfect communication.”

Marjorie, who sat across the table from the medium, kept her gaze fixed intently upon the woman’s face. She, for one, was not in sympathy with her, and was watching closely for some evidence of quackery.

For some moments more they waited patiently. At last they were rewarded by a faint rocking of the table. The motion was repeated several times, and then Marjorie spoke.

“Are we wrong to be here tonight?” she asked.

Before there was any answering movement from the table, the sound of three distinct knocks was heard. Instantly the girls became alert, tense, apprehensive; and Marjorie, whose gaze had never left the medium’s face, saw her start violently and open her eyes for an instant.

“One knock for ‘No,’ three for ‘yes’”; announced the medium, in a solemn tone.

Marjorie continued the questioning. She was anxious to find out whence the sound was coming. From all indications, she believed its source to be the cellar.

“Will it be dangerous for the girls to sleep here tomorrow night?”

Again, to their terrified ears, came three distinct rappings. More than one of the scouts gasped in fear, and Marie Louise began to sob quietly.

“Is this house haunted?”

Knock! Knock! Knock!

Two or three other questions, whose answers threw the girls into greater terror, only made Marjorie more suspicious, more eager to investigate the whole matter. The medium shivered slightly, looked about her in a dazed fashion, and leaned limply back in her chair.

In the lull that followed an idea occurred to Marjorie, and she startled the others by the matter-of-fact tone in which she made a request. But in making it, she knew that her request was a reasonable one; for she had read and heard a great deal of the professed power of mediums, and thought that, if this one were not a fake, she should consent to it.

“Would you be kind enough,” she asked, addressing the medium, “to let me write the questions, instead of asking them out loud?”

The woman hesitated a moment.

“It is a very unusual demand,” she replied, “but I will try it, if you wish. What is it you want to ask?”

Marjorie produced a pencil and a piece of paper from her pocket, wrote something, folded the paper several times with the writing inside, and placed it upon the center of the table.

“Of course,” continued the girl, “it will not be necessary for you to look at what I have written, since the spirit with whom you communicate will know what it says.”

Several of the girls gasped at her audacity.

Again the medium hesitated.

“Very well,” she replied; and closed her eyes.

They waited while communication was being reestablished, listening intently for an answer. This time, however, instead of the distinct knocks from the direction of the cellar, it was the table which rocked three times, denoting the affirmative.

Marjorie’s face wore a look of triumph. She reached forward hastily, picked up the question she had written, and thrust it into her pocket.

The medium opened her eyes suddenly, and pushed back her chair.

“That is all I can do tonight,” she said, rising. “But I hope I have answered your questions satisfactorily,” she added, darting a look at Marjorie.

No sooner was she gone than Marjorie jumped to her feet in wildest excitement.

“She’s a fake, girls, of course,” she cried. “But those other knocks—not the table-tippings—are from an entirely different source, I’m sure, oh, I’m positive, there was somebody down the cellar listening and answering the questions. The woman was surprised herself. Didn’t you notice the difference in the reply when I wrote the question? Come on! Everybody! Come on down!”

“Oh, no!” pleaded Mrs. Munsen. “Don’t take a chance, Marjorie!”

“Yes! Yes! I must! Who’s coming?”

She rushed madly to the cellar-door, with Lily at her heels; and Florence, Alice and Daisy followed. A moment later she opened the door and turned her flash-light into the darkness.

The cellar was absolutely empty!

“There! Listen! What’s that noise?—that rattle?” she demanded, as they descended the steps.

“The spirit saying farewell,” suggested Alice, half in earnest.

But Marjorie stored the impression away in her brain, deciding to account for it later.

Bravely, but with the revolver in full evidence, they searched every corner of the cellar, and, finding nothing, returned to the rest-room where refreshments were hastily being served. The whole party seemed anxious to get away.

“You surely won’t go on with your plan for tomorrow night?” asked Mrs. Munsen of Marjorie.

“I surely will!” replied the girl, determinedly. “And I think I am going to find out something!”

She had come to the conclusion that the rattle she had heard as she entered the cellarway was the result of the closing of the outside cellar-door—and the agency a human hand!

“And the question you asked—the one you wrote on the paper?” inquired Lily. “What was it?”

Marjorie smilingly drew the paper from her pocket, and, unfolding it, handed it to the other.

“Don’t forget the table answered it as ‘yes,’” she reminded her.

Lily gazed at it in amazement, and read out loud:

“Are you trying to fake us?”


After the excitement of the previous night, Marjorie found it exceedingly difficult to keep her attention upon the routine duties of the tea-room. The day seemed endless; but the promise of the coming adventure buoyed up her spirits and kept her from becoming too impatient.

At last, however, the guests had all left the tea-house and the place was deserted; Eugene Schofield and Pierce Ellison closed and locked the doors and the girls went home. There were only two hours to wait now until Marjorie should return to spend the night at the haunted spot. She resolved, if possible, to pass them in sleep.

Shortly after ten o’clock, she was awakened by a knocking at her door.

“Come in!” she called; and Daisy entered the room.

“The boys are here!” she announced. “Wake up, Marj!”

Marjorie sat up and rubbed the sleep from her eyes.

“Don’t say boys,” she cautioned. “I’ve got to accustom my mind to the fact that they are girls—for tonight.”

“But John is dressed as a boy!” laughed Daisy.

“Oh, of course he is! I forgot! But how about Jack?”

“He’s too funny for words! He’s down stairs in the living-room smoking a cigarette and practicing walking like a girl. He has an idea he has to make his skirt switch, like the flappers.”

“Does he look like a girl?”

“He’s perfect! He has on Ethel’s uniform, and it fits beautifully. Ethel does have broad shoulders, you know; and they are both about the same height. It’s lucky you thought to have him wear the uniform; the fullness of the middy hides his form.”

Marjorie was dressing while she listened to Daisy’s description. When she reached for her pumps, she stopped short in dismay.

“What about his feet?”

“Oh, they’re fine!” laughed Daisy. “I noticed that right away. Jack has small feet for a boy, you know—”

“I never noticed,” interrupted his sister.

“Now imagine never having noticed whether your own brother had large feet or small ones! You’re a funny girl, Marj! Well, he managed to squeeze into Ethel’s brown sport-shoes. He looked ridiculous when he wanted a match to light his cigarette; he hitched up his skirt to get at his trousers-pockets—he has his trousers rolled up above his knee.”

Marjorie chuckled as she gave the finishing pats to her hair.

“Now I’m ready,” she announced. “What time is it?”

“Ten-fifteen,” replied Daisy, consulting her wristwatch. Then, throwing her arms impulsively about Marjorie, “Oh, I wish you weren’t going, Marj! Promise me nothing will happen to you!”

“There! there! Don’t worry, Daisy!” she said patting the girl’s shoulder. “You know nothing will happen to me with John and Jack along.”

“No, I hope not. I have great confidence in those two boys.”

“Now let’s go downstairs; the boys will be getting impatient.”

Marjorie paused on the stairway and looked around for Jack. Several other girls had on scout uniforms, so she did not identify him immediately. Then she saw a strange girl whom she recognized, upon closer inspection, to be Jack; and she burst out laughing.

“How do I look?” cried the masquerader, pirouetting in the middle of the room. “Hadn’t you better come powder my nose, Sis?”

“You’re splendid! You had me guessing for a moment. Your wig is great! Who fixed you up?”

“Lily. She’s a dandy lady’s maid.”

“Well, I’ll tell you what, Lily wouldn’t,” said his sister. “You must pull your tie tighter, and hide your neck. Girls don’t have necks like that. And Jack, couldn’t you swallow your Adam’s-apple?”

“Oh, I know I’m a scare-crow,” laughed Jack, good-naturedly. “But if the fellow we’re after gets close enough to see all those things, I’ll let him know in another way that I’m not a girl!”

“You’ll do, Jack,” commented Mrs. Hadley, who had driven over with the boys. “If you just stop trying to put your hands into your pockets!”

“I hope you’ve re-read Tom Sawyer lately,” remarked Alice, “and don’t make any of those blunders he did when he was trying to pass off for a girl.”

The young people all laughed as they recalled the situation; notwithstanding the mystery and possible danger of the occasion, the whole thing struck them as decidedly funny.

Mrs. Munsen, however, looked exceedingly grave as she kissed Marjorie goodbye.

“I shall be thankful when I see you safely home in the morning,” she said. “Do come as early as possible.”

“We probably shall,” laughed Marjorie. “I am taking a key this time, so that if anything happens in the middle of the night I needn’t disturb you.”

She sat in the back of the car between Mrs. Hadley and Jack, while Dick Roberts, who was to share with John in the adventure, took the seat up front.

“From now on,” announced Marjorie, “we’re acting. Not a single word of the real situation must be mentioned.”

“Agreed!” replied John. “And you want to go in boldly—letting them know you are there?”

“Absolutely!” said the girl.

“And don’t forget to call me Ethel,” warned Jack.

The night was clear and still; the stars were shining, but there was no moon. The boys were glad of this; it would be easier for John and Dick to conceal themselves in the darkness.

“Well, here we are!” said John, as he turned into the drive. “Shall I stop right here at the steps?”

“I wish,” said Marjorie as she descended from the machine, “that you would go all around the outside of the place and listen. Of course, we have Jack’s revolver, but still, I’d feel a little safer to know that there is no human-being about.”

“Hadn’t you girls better change your minds, and let me sleep downstairs?” suggested John, in a clearly audible tone.

“No, indeed!” replied Marjorie. “It’s evident the ghost has a hatred of men, because he never shows himself when they’re around.”

“Displays a lot of good taste,” remarked John, “in his preference for the ladies. Now—you and mother and Ethel wait here on the porch till I come back! I don’t want you entering that empty house alone!”

“But we aren’t a bit afraid!” protested Marjorie. “Ethel and I both have our revolvers.”

Taking his own out from his hip pocket, John started around to the rear of the house, thinking all the while of the previous night at the tea-house, when he and Jack had searched so cautiously for the cause of the sounds that must have been imaginary, or produced by the storm. As before, he found nothing. Nevertheless, his time was not wasted; for he decided upon his own and Dick’s place of hiding for the night. After Marjorie’s two experiences with voices, which seemed both times to come from the cellar confirming what Anna had said of her own experience early in the summer—John was convinced that whatever it was that threatened the girls, it actually did originate there. But each time, he remembered, upon exploration Marjorie had found the cellar empty. It was only logical to conclude, therefore, that the tormentor had some method of escape.

Now upon his previous examination, John had come to the conclusion that there was only one plausible escape to the outside—for the windows were too high and too small to be of any use—and that place was the outside slanting cellar-door, which he had first thought of as an exit on the night he and the other boys spent at the tea-house.

Not far from this door, but on the opposite side of the fence dividing the Scott property from the one next door would be a good hiding-place. A dense honey-suckle vine covered the fence and hung over in profusion; and John noticed that there were two places where he and Dick could easily conceal themselves.

He was glad now that they had refused to allow the other boys to take part in the adventure, much as they had wished to. Someone would have been sure to talk, or make a noise, and thus defeat their own purpose; but he felt he could rely upon Jack and Dick Roberts.

When he returned to the porch, he found the women talking volubly. Marjorie seemed to have so much to say that there was scarcely opportunity for Mrs. Hadley to put in a word. “Ethel” remained discreetly silent.

“Any ghosts?” asked Marjorie.

“Not a sign!” replied John. “Everything’s very quiet.”

“I guess they won’t be along till after midnight,” remarked Marjorie, lightly. “Well, come on in—we want you people to go home and get some sleep. Ethel is yawning her head off!”

“Yes, I haven’t heard her say a word since we’ve been on the porch,” put in Mrs. Hadley, anxious to play her part in the little comedy, which she bravely hoped would not turn out to be a tragedy.

Marjorie unlocked the door and they entered and turned on the lights. They found everything as usual, just as the boys had left it upon locking up for the evening.

“If only you had a telephone!” sighed Mrs. Hadley. “It would make matters so much easier.”

“Yes,” agreed Marjorie; “but you know the company offered so many objections that we decided not to bother just for the summer. But do you know, I often think that if we had one right here, we might never have had all this opposition!”

“Unless the house really is haunted,” remarked Mrs. Hadley.

The suggestion of a telephone, however, was a new one to John, and he resolved to make use of it immediately. On his way past the house next door, as he drove his mother home that night, he stopped and explained what was going on at the tea-house, and told where he and Dick expected to hide.

“And if somebody—probably a girl—comes over to use your telephone to get the police, will you let her in?”

“Certainly,” replied the neighbor, courteously.

In the meantime Marjorie and Jack went up to their cots without the slightest idea of going to sleep. Both were much too excited to consider such a thing; Marjorie’s nap had entirely refreshed her, and Jack’s weariness was merely feigned.

“Do you honestly think anything will happen?” asked Marjorie, as she sat down upon one of the army cots.

“I really don’t think so,” whispered Jack. “It’s not my luck. There’s never anything but false alarms when I’m around.”

“But you’re Ethel now,” she muttered, between her teeth. Then, aloud:

“But come, Ethel, you’re dreadfully sleepy, I mustn’t keep you awake. Spread out your blanket!”

Jack placed both blankets upon the couches, and fussing inarticulately about his hair, stretched himself out at full length. But they found that they could not go to sleep; they continued to toss about for nearly an hour, even though there were no sounds to disturb them. Then Jack grew exasperated.

“I’m dying for a smoke, Sis!” he whispered. “Do you suppose—?”

“No! No!” protested Marjorie. “Ethel doesn’t—no Girl Scouts do!”

“Well, I wish she did!” growled the boy, lying down again.

And yet in spite of his impatience Jack fell asleep before Marjorie. Long after he was breathing regularly she was listening for the noises outside the tea-house, wondering whether John and Dick were safely in their hiding-place, and above all, keeping her ear alert for the cellar. Once or twice she thought she heard someone in the yard or back by the stable, and she even sat up to listen. But each time she decided it was nobody—unless perhaps it might be one of the watchers, creeping to his place of concealment in the honey-suckle. At last, she too dozed off, and slept through the small hours.

As in her previous experience, Marjorie was awakened just before dawn by a repetition of the same continued, regular knocking which she had heard twice before. Instantly she sat up in bed; but this time it was joy rather than fear that took possession of her. She was so excited that she almost called her sleeping companion by his right name. She just recovered herself in time.

“Ethel! Ethel!” she cried, taking hold of Jack’s arm, and shaking him as violently as she could. “The ghost!”

Her brother came sharply back to consciousness.

“Yes! Yes! What is it, Marj?” he whispered, sitting up immediately.

To his fascinated ears came the welcome sound he had so often heard described:


Marjorie was almost breathless in the intensity of her excitement.

“It’s coming from the cellar! Hear it?” she demanded.

Jack nodded silently.

The knocking came again.

“Decidedly!” he remarked. “Now for the signal!”

“You mean—” Both brother and sister were standing upright now, and waiting.

“I arranged with John that I would blow this if we heard anything,” replied Jack, taking a scout whistle from his pocket. “That will waken him if he is asleep; and he and Dick will rush to the cellar-door—to catch the fellow as he comes out!”

“Wonderful!” cried Marjorie. “But wait till we get downstairs—I don’t want to miss the fun!”

“No, we can’t,” answered Jack. “He might get away—like he did when you girls got to the cellar steps!”

Without another moment’s hesitation, Jack blew the whistle out the window; and then, picking up his skirts, flew down the stairs three at a time, with Marjorie close behind. They reached the back door and threw it open just in time to see a figure start to raise the cellar-door when John, with a flying leap, landed upon it with both feet and sent it crashing shut again.

“Hurray!” yelled Jack. “We’ve got ’im! Some team-work!”

John sized up the situation quickly.

“Dick, you keep your eye on that inside cellar-door! He won’t get out those small windows, so this is the only other place. Jack, you watch this door; but stand clear of it—he might take it into his head to shoot through the door.

“Marjorie, I’ve changed my mind about having you telephone; if there are any accomplices hidden around, as Dick and I were, they might stop you. You’re much safer here with Jack and Dick. Now I’ll run along and do the telephoning myself; the people know me. I won’t be long.”

And he dashed out of the yard and up the road at top speed.


John had no sooner disappeared from view than a slight figure emerged from the stable and came timidly towards them. It was a woman; and as she approached through the gray light of the early morning, Marjorie thought it might be one of the scouts.

It was Anna!

She seemed not to notice the others, but making straight for Marjorie, threw herself upon her knees at the girl’s feet and clutched at her skirt.

“Please let him go! Oh, please let him go, Miss Marjorie!”

Marjorie stiffened instantly.

“Let him go? Of course not! Why should we let him go?”

“Oh, please! Please!” begged the frantic girl.

“But what does he have to do with you? Who is he?”

“He’s my father!”

“Your father!” cried the astonished captors.

“Yes,” sobbed Anna. “Now won’t you let him go?”

Marjorie commenced to waver.

“But if he is your father,” thundered Jack, “what’s he doing down there?”

“I’ll tell you—I’ll tell you all. Only let him go!”

“Well, get up! You’ll catch cold on the damp ground.”

“You tell us first!” said Jack; “then we’ll decide whether we’ll let him go or not.”

Anna stood there nervously clasping and unclasping her hands.

“And you’ll have to be quick about it,” he added. “One of us has already gone to telephone the police.”

This piece of information added to the look of fear in the girl’s face.

“I’ll tell!” she said. “My father used to be caretaker for Mr. Scott before he died. When the son closed up the house, he told father he would not need him any longer; but he wanted him to keep an eye on the place, and he would pay him for doing it. So he let father keep the set of keys he had always had.

“So father was out of work. My mother is dead, and we’re pretty poor. I have an older brother, but he was never able to keep a job long. Until prohibition—then he started boot-legging and made lots of money. He worked on father to let him make the stuff back there in the Scott’s stable. Father held out for a while; he didn’t want to do it, but he needed the money; so he finally gave in. He could work around the place, and nobody in the neighborhood would suspect anything, because they thought he was still caretaker here.

“My brother made a good business of it; the people he sold it to would come in the middle of the night and stop their machines there in the road; and Tom—that’s my brother—Tom would give them the stuff he made. He fixed it up with the policemen on this beat, who were friends of his.

“Everything went fine for awhile, and we made lots of money. Then you came and opened a tea-house. My brother was back in the stable the first day you came in. When he saw you there the second time, he was sure you was going to rent the house; so that night he moved all the things he had there—”

“Then nothing really did happen to you—the way you said—the night you stayed here with your aunt?” interrupted Jack.

“No. That was all made up. It was Tom’s idea for me to have the party, and he thought it was a pretty smart plan; because it gave me an excuse for staying here all night—with Aunt Mary, too, who really didn’t know what was going on.”

“Anna, you’re a selfish, unfeeling girl!” cried Marjorie. “Aren’t you ashamed of yourself for scaring your aunt and all of us that way?”

“But we had to do it, Miss Marjorie!” argued Anna. “Tom didn’t have any place to carry on his business, and he was losing all his trade while you stayed here. And instead of frightening you away that first time, it only brought you more business....”

“So you tried it again,” said Jack.

“Yes. We knew that you had heard about the place being haunted, and Tom had an idea that if we kept it up long enough, and some of you girls heard the ghost in the house, we’d scare you away. So every time any girls stayed at night, he tried to frighten them—”

“But never when any of the boys were here,” interrupted Jack, again.

“Yes, once. Tom saw a light in here one night, and thought it was the girls; but it happened to be the boys. He didn’t think he could frighten the boys.”

“Was that the night of the storm?” asked Jack.

Anna thought a minute, and then said:

“Yes, I guess it was. Tom did start to go down the cellar; but he changed his mind. He was afraid of the boys.”

Jack smiled to himself as he thought of that night. He and John had been standing a good deal of kidding from the other fellows; now they could tell them a thing or two.

“Who was down there the night we girls had a party?” questioned Marjorie.

“Tom was. I overheard Alice say you were going to have one of them spirit—what d’you call ’em—persons there, and I told him. So he was on the job in the cellar until you girls started to look around. He could hear all you said; so he left in a hurry. He said he didn’t want to wait for that girl with a pistol—meanin’ you. But he thought sure you’d leave the place after that! Now will you let pa go, if we promise not to do it any more?”

“You say it’s your father down there?” said Jack, pointing to the cellar. “Where’s your brother?”

“He had to be away last night, but he was down by them bushes earlier in the evening, and saw you come in; and thought two girls was going to be here all alone; so he got pa to take his place. But he never would have risked it if he had known that one of you was a boy. I got so anxious about pa myself that I came here to bring him away—but just as I got here I heard the three whistles. Won’t you please let him go?”

“What could we tell the police?” asked Jack, looking at Marjorie. “They will be here any minute now.”

“Oh, tell them anything! Tell them it was me, startin’ to work extra early,” said Anna, her fear of the law sharpening her wits.

“He ought to be in jail!” muttered Jack. “However, let him come up, anyhow. We’ll see what John says when he comes back. Go pull the door open, will you, Dick?”

As a precautionary measure, Jack stepped clear of the others, with his revolver ready. Anna ran to the door before Dick could reach it, had it open, and called down:

“Come out, Pa! It’s all right.”

An elderly man, with a half-eaten apple in one hand, came blinking into the daylight.

As soon as Marjorie saw him, she started violently.

“Why, he’s the old man who warned us, that first day!” she exclaimed in an undertone to Jack. “The tea-room’s first guest!”

When he espied Marjorie, he nodded his head.

“Good morning, Miss! I hope you’ll excuse the liberty—I just had to have one of those apples. I’m Anna’s father. She told me what prime apples you had down there.” And he waved his hand towards the cellar. Then, catching sight of Jack with a revolver, a twinkle appeared in his eyes.

“Expecting an attack, sir?” he asked, respectfully.

Jack bit his lips, and glared.

“Well, of all the cheek, you take the cake!” he murmured, to himself. “I’ve a good mind to settle your hash!”

Aloud he said:

“Suppose you come over here and sit down on the porch and have a talk—until the police come!”

For he knew they must come; and while he had not yet made up his mind what he would say to them, he had decided that he would not let this man get away before John returned.

“The police?” said the man with a surprised air. “What are the police coming for, may I ask?”

“You know as well as I do! Don’t try to pull off that kind of stuff!” exploded the boy. “Anna’s told us all about it.”

The man cast a reproachful look at his daughter.

“I had to, Pa! They were going to turn you over to the police,” she explained.

“But you say the police are coming,” said the father, turning to Jack.

The boy nodded.

“Yes, Mr. Benton,” answered Marjorie. “And we’re sorry we didn’t catch your son, instead of you. He seems to be the principal offender; but we sent for the police before we knew who it was, and—”

She stopped, and listened. A motor had stopped at the entrance.

“And they are probably here now!” said Jack, finishing the sentence for her.

“What about me?” asked the man, starting to rise.

“Just sit still and keep quiet!” ordered Jack, sharply; “and you’ll see! Show the cops around here, will you, Dick?”

“I wonder what has happened to John?” said Marjorie, nervously. “I thought he’d be back long before the police arrived.”

“So did I,” said Jack. “Maybe he waited for them.”

A man in plain clothes appeared with Dick around the side of the house. When he beheld Jack in a skirt and middy-blouse, twirling a girl’s wig on one of his fingers, he had difficulty in repressing a laugh.

“What’s the trouble?” he asked, gazing from one to another. “Who telephoned? I am a special officer.”

For a moment no one spoke. Then Jack said:

“I’m afraid it’s all a mistake!” And he looked up at the officer with far more calmness than he felt inwardly.

“A mistake?” inquired the other, suspiciously, elevating his eyebrows.

“Yes,” answered Jack. “You see, it was like this: we thought we heard something....”

“Oh ... I see ... the ghost again!”

“Exactly! At least, if it wasn’t a ghost—”

“Well, what then?”

But Jack never completed the sentence. An exclamation from Marjorie and his own staring eyes caused them all to turn in the direction toward which he was gazing so intently.

A man was doing his best to climb over the back fence, and to hold both his hands above his head at the same time; and he was having some difficulty; for in one of his hands he held an oblong package wrapped in paper. Immediately behind him stood John, and with him a strange man.

“Now walk up to those people, and stop!” they could hear John command. “And don’t move too fast! Keep your hands up!”

The man did as he was ordered. As the strange procession came towards them they had ample time to look it over. First there came the one with upraised hands. He had a black moustache, and wore a felt hat pulled down over his eyes, and a light check suit. Next came John, with a revolver in his hand, a look of grim determination on his face. At his side walked a well-dressed, good-looking man of middle-age, obviously a gentleman.

When John’s prisoner saw Anna’s father, he came to a stand and greeted him.

“Hello, Pop! I thought I’d stop and see how you were getting along!” he blustered, with a grin.

“Hello, yourself, Tim Kelley!” called the officer in plain clothes. “What’s that you have in your hand?”

The other turned pale, and looked hard at his questioner.

“Just a few personal belongin’s,” he muttered. “What’s that to you?”

“I’ll have a look at your ‘personal belongin’s,’ if you please!” answered the officer, turning the lapel of his coat and displaying a shining badge. “Come on Tim, hand it over! I know you—and a good deal more about you than you think!”

And he walked up to him and took the package from his hand.

“Now you can put your hands up again!” he added. “You’ll be well taken care of.”

The sound of a powerful machine stopping in the road came to their ears. The officer stepped out into the middle of the yard and made a megaphone of his hand.

“Come on back here, men!” he shouted.

Four burly policemen walked up the drive.

“Just keep an eye on that fellow while I have a look at this, will you?” said the plain clothes man; and he proceeded to break the string of the package, opened one end, and sniffed at the contents. Then, he closed the paper and nodded his head at the prisoner.

“Just as I thought!” he said. “I’ve caught you with the goods this time. The wagon’s outside, so you come along with us. Put the cuffs on him, Morgan!”

Then, turning to Anna’s father, he added:

“And you’d better come along, too, Mr. Kelley. Now, don’t explain; anything you say will be used against you! You can do the explaining later on. I know all about you, as it happens, anyhow. You young people will hear from us later on. I congratulate you upon your capture. I am a detective on the force. I have been working on this case for some time. You may have thought we were asleep; but we didn’t have sufficient evidence to act sooner. The fact that a couple of the men on the force were in cahoots with these boot-leggers only complicated matters. Well, there was no harm done; and you’ve covered yourselves with glory! But let me say this to you, young man: don’t ever try to shield the guilty; it doesn’t pay!”

And with this parting shot at Jack, and a hearty laugh at the boy’s make-up, he departed.

So many amazing things had happened in such a short space of time, that those who remained could only stand and gaze after the departing figure and then at each other in stupefaction. Jack was the first to come to.

“Gosh!” he exclaimed, with a gulp. “Just like that!”

The stranger standing at John’s side laughed.

“I beg your pardon!” said John, suddenly remembering his presence. “Marjorie, I have the honor of presenting Mr. Emerson, who lives next door, and whose telephone I used. Mr. Emerson was good enough to insist on coming back with me. And it’s a good thing he did. He happened to be awake and heard Jack whistle three times; so he guessed that something was going to happen. When he looked out the window while I was telephoning he saw that fellow Tim Kelley skulking across the fields towards the tea-house, and became suspicious. So instead of coming back by the road, as I would naturally have come if I had been alone, we cut across the field together and followed the fellow. We found him hiding behind the stable, spying on you; so we thought that was enough evidence to take him prisoner on. And you know the rest. That’s how it was, wasn’t it, Mr. Emerson?”


“Oh, how can we ever thank you for helping us?” exclaimed Marjorie.

“Don’t try! It was nothing. This young man did it all!” he said, placing his hand upon John’s arm. “But let me congratulate you, Miss Wilkinson. You have done a fine thing; and I know it took courage to stay in this house all night!”

John introduced the other boys to Mr. Emerson, calling Jack “Ethel” when his turn came.

“By the way, Jack,” he suddenly asked. “Do you know who my prisoner was?”

“Sure!” replied Jack. “Anna’s brother!”

“Anna’s brother!” exclaimed John. “I didn’t know that!”

“Who did you think he was?”

“Why, the man who was looking for Bill Smith!”

“No! Really?” cried Jack. “Well, he’s Anna’s brother, anyhow—and the old man was her father!”

And he looked over to the corner of the porch where Anna sat silently looking on. Going over to her, Jack put his hand rather wistfully upon her shoulder.

“I’m sorry, Anna! You saw it couldn’t be helped. I never meant to tell on your father. Then, when they brought your brother up, he gave everything away himself. But the detective knew all about it, anyhow.”

Anna answered him quite calmly.

“I don’t blame you, Mr. Jack. It couldn’t be helped, as you say.”

“There’s one thing I don’t understand,” continued Jack. “Your name is Anna Benton. Those two men answered the name of Kelley. How is that?”

“Mr. Kelley was only my step-father,” replied Anna. “Tom was my half-brother.”

“Oh!” said Jack. “I see.”


When Marjorie realized that the excitement was all over, she left the keys of the tea-house with her brother and hurried back to tell the scouts the good news. It was still very early in the morning; the sun was just making its appearance above the horizon when she opened the door of the Harris house. Instead of trying to enter silently, she made every effort to signify, by her noisy cheer, the success of her undertaking.

“Hurrah for the Girl Scouts!” she sang out as she reached the foot of the stairs. “Hurrah for their loyal helpers, the boys!”

She was rewarded by a general stir on the floor above; one by one the girls slipped out of their beds, donned their kimonas, and came to the top of the stairs. Lily rushed down and threw her arms around Marjorie.

“You’re safe! You’re safe!” she cried joyously. “Oh, Marj, I’m so thankful!”

“What happened? Tell us!” demanded two or three other girls at the same time.

“Wait till I come up,” replied Marjorie, as she and Lily started to ascend together. “I’ll tell you the whole story, as we finally got it from the chief boot-legger himself—and from Anna!”

“The boot-legger? Anna?” repeated all the astonished girls at once.

Marjorie nodded and led the way into her own room, surrounded by the scouts and Mrs. Munsen, who had joined the group. They all climbed upon her bed, and listened while she recounted, as fast as she could talk, the thrilling details of the capture and confession. They leaned forward breathlessly, admiring her more every moment for her courage and persistence.

“Suppose you had taken our advice and closed the tea-house!” remarked Marie Louise. “We’d never have discovered the real cause of all those mysterious knocks.”

“And that old boot-legger and his family would have gone on getting richer and richer, in opposition to the government!” added Florence.

“I always thought Anna was too good to be true,” put in Daisy. “Most girls of her ability get more than we could afford to pay her.”

“And besides, now that I think of it,” said Mrs. Munsen, “we really ought to have considered it very strange for her to go on working in a place where she had such a dreadful experience as she claimed to have had. You wouldn’t find one man in a hundred willing to take a chance like that—let alone a girl!”

“Well, it’s all right now!” said Marjorie, getting up from the bed. “Now—how about some breakfast?”

“Yes, you must be starved, you poor child!” said Mrs. Munsen. “If you go down and start things, Marjorie, I’ll be with you in five minutes.”

“And put something on for those noble boys,” said Daisy. “They’ll probably be along soon!”

The girls separated to dress, but they could not stop talking about the event; indeed, they discussed it at breakfast, dinner, and supper, upon every occasion—during their duties at the tea-house and their leisure at home in the evening.

Nor did they confine their talking to their own party, for Marjorie, anxious to clear up the suspicion that was attached to the place, immediately informed all the newspapers; and when the report was confirmed by the police and even by the Chief Dry Agent of the city, it received substantial publicity. As a natural result, business increased as the days went by; the tea-house became more and more widely known to Philadelphians and their friends, and more generally patronized. As the time for closing drew near, Marjorie realized that her enterprise was an overwhelming triumph.

She would have considered the sale of the business and the fine little sum which she handed into Daisy’s keeping the culmination of their success, had it not been for an occurrence that took place on Labor Day—their last day at the tea-room. The whole thing came as a complete surprise.

It was supper time, and the tea-room was filled with guests. All the Girl Scouts in their uniforms were serving as waitresses; the boys were working in the kitchen under the direction of Mrs. Munsen; and even Mrs. Hadley had insisted upon taking a hand in the work. Just as Marjorie was wondering what they would do if any more patrons arrived, a motor drew up to the steps, and stopped while an impressive-looking man got out. He strode across the porch and opened the screen door in a manner that proclaimed him a person of dignity and authority.

“Is this the Girl Scout Tea-room?” he asked, in a tone clearly audible in every part of the room.

“Yes,” replied Ethel, who happened to be standing nearest to the door. “I am sorry that there are no vacant tables this minute, but if you will be kind enough to wait in the rest-room, we will try to serve you as soon as possible.”

“I am sure your supper would be delicious,” replied the man, courteously, still in the same distinct tone; “but I came for another purpose than for food. I am the Chief Dry Agent in the city.”

“Yes,” said Ethel, trembling in spite of herself.

“And who is your superior officer?” continued the official.

“Miss Wilkinson,” replied Ethel, as Marjorie came forward.

“Then, Miss Wilkinson, I want to tell you that I am here to congratulate your troop for catching a notorious boot-legger, who has been baffling the police for some time. In recognition of this service, we beg to present you with a written vote of thanks, bearing the seal of our department beneath the signature. You girls have not only performed a noteworthy service for the locality, but you have aided in the enforcement of an important Federal law. Because of your courage and perseverance, prohibition is one step nearer to becoming an established fact.”

Amid the applause that followed from every corner of the tea-room as Marjorie graciously accepted the tribute, the joyous shouts of their staunch comrades in the kitchen could be heard—those untiring helpers who had worked so loyally all summer—that splendid band of boys, led by John Hadley and his assistant, Jack Wilkinson!