THE UNSUSPECTEDTHIEF i"L' X! OOK here," said Chalmers hotly, "you cannot take away a young woman's reputation in this easy-go- 'ing fashion. How do you know that T sbe is a thief? Your guests have ;lnissed hundreds of dollars worth of 'stuff. YOU find one watch in Miss Melburne's room and you declare her ;guilty of wholesale robbery." "Circumstantial evidence admitted the manager, "but you must realize ,that when a young woman who ad- •xnits that she has no fixed income ''takes a good room here for the summer and ihen is found to have stolen 'goods in her possession the facts are '.very much against her." "But on that evidence do you brand her a thief?" "We have done nothing of that sort," protested the manager. "We merely have asked Miss Melburne to let us have her room. That is all." All summer the guests of the Shelter Light hotel had complained of robberies from their rooms. No clew lad developed until a chambermaid claimed to have found a lost watch In Jessie Melburne's bureau while replacing some trinkets left on the Wresrsr. Chalmers hastened to Missj Melburne's apartments. She was standing by a table in the center of the room and he could see that she liad been weeping. "I have been thinking over this matter," she said, "ever since i learned of the awful suspicion against me. I must leave the hotel, but I Bhall not leave this town until I can prove my innocence." She was shunned by everyone save Courtney Chalmers. But that had made talk. It was mot right, the gossips declared, that a young millionaire should be so much in the company of the little music teacher. Chalmers gritted his teeth as he overheard a whisper and a moment Hater he so far forgot himself as to administer a kick to the countess' pug as that overfed animal playfully Sought to bite his ankle. The countess favored him with a malignant look. She was a South American with a rather doubtful title and her menagerie (there were a monkey and two parrots in addition to the dog) had bothered him all summer. Hers was the longest and most spiteful tongue and Chalmers hated her for it. He made a curt apology, and went up to his room. It was in the opposite wing from the room Jessie had occupied and faced that side of the hotel, which was built about a quadrangle. It seemed that he was fated to run foul of the countess' pets today for just as he entered his apartments there was a squeak and a scurry and he ran to the window Just in time to see the pet monkey "Bebe" scampering over the roof of the porch toward the countess' apartments. He slipped on a heavier coat, and went down the beach to where Jessie was waiting for him beside his boat. With a few words of greeting he helped her in and presently they were slipping through the blue waters. "How do you like the boarding house?" he asked at length. "Don't you think you would have done better to have gone somewhere else?" "No," said the girl decidedly. "I am going to wait here until that mystery is cleared up." "It's a shame to have your vacation spoiled," he cried hotly. "To think of the way you have saved to have this summer and now this comes up to spoil it all." For three years she had skimped and saved toward this end and the thought of it had kept her up. Now she was virtually under suspicion of being a thief, and the vacation was spoiled. "Have you no ideas about the robberies?" pleaded Chalmers. "Can you give me no clew?" "Nothing," she laughed, "except that this thief is fond' of chocolates. I had some there in the drawer and they were almost all gone when the drawer was examined." Chalmers could see that the talk was depressing her. so he changed the subject.- She was almost gay again as the boat drew up to (he CHALMERS FOUND HER STAXL-1NG IN THE CENTER OF THE ROOM. dock. The countess was holding forth on the porch as he came up the steps and the detested "Bebe" was being shown off for the amusement of her friends. "Bebe" was no longer unleashed, but was fastened to a silk cord. Chalmers stopped for a moment at some distance from the crowd to watch the tricks. Undoubtedly "Bebe" was most accomplished. Her repertoire of tricks was large and called forth applause and praise. " 'Bebe' is very clever," smiled the gratified trainer, "but she is an awful glutton. She would kill herself with chocolate. Here," she added as she handed the beast a bonbon, "that is the last. Now go, 'Bebe' " The maid came for the monkey and led her away and Chalmers went up to his room with an idea forming in his mind. After that his candy bill doubled and the maid who cared for his room wondered at his sudden development of a sweet tooth. His table was always provided with a dish of candy. Later on he took to keeping the candy in his bureau drawer und leaving the drawer open. Much to the surprise of the gossips the robberies continued and gradually there came a change of sentiment. Some of the women who had cut Jessie dead when the developments were first announced nodded to her when they met on the beach—and were cut in turn. As a last resort the manager spread the report, that Jessie had taken away her kpy and was stealing back in order to eontinue her theft. At this time the matter was put in the hands of the local police, and the chief of the department came in all seriousness to interview her. Chalmers, coming to call at that time, appeared suddenly on the scene, and after kicking the policeman out of the house through the parlor window followed him out and ended by going to his office. Late that afternoon the chief stole into the hotel by the servants" entrance, and made his way to Chalmers' room. For more than an hour the two men sat there and at the end of that time the chief took his departure with equal secrecy. The next day he strolled over toward the railroad station and found the chief also strolling up and down the platform waiting for the train, and the two Joined a tall soldierly looking man who got off the rear -at the train and went quietly away from the crowded end of the platform.' Chalmers led the way to the hotel and soon they were in his room. Across the way the countess was in her apartments, and it was apparent that Bebe was not enjoying herself. Her mistress held a little whip and she was punishing the animal with this when she did not perform her tricks properly. Just what the trick was it was not easy to perceive, but It appeared to have some connection with the bureau drawer, for when this was pulled open, Bebe was permitted to take from there a chocolate drop. "F think 1 see," said the stranger quietly. "I had heard of the game, but did not know that it was being done here. I think it would be well wait until tonigth." At last, the twilight deepened into night and from the windows across the way a dark shadow stole'out. Down on the piazza there was a band concert being given and most of the guests were either there or on the beach. The monkey climbed up a rain spout, to rooms above and darted into a window. Presently It came out and went Into another room, then another until at last it climbed down to the porch roof again and came running toward the other side of the building. In a moment Bebe jumped lightly through the window. Her cheek pouches were distended, and as she perched on the dresser she relieved her mouth of some glittering objects and replaced them with chocolates from the box in the drawer. Chalmers slipped noiselessly out on the roof -and in a moment he had shut down the window while at the same time the chief and the stranger sprang into the room. Bebe, kicking, squealing and biting, was made a prisoner, and after assuring themselves that she was securely bound the trio departed for the other wing. The maid who answered their knock at the door of the countess' apartment at first refused them admittance, but the sight of the shield on the chief's coat silenced her and the three men moved toward the bureau where, in the open drawer, lay a box of chocolates. "That was the way the trick was worked," cried Chalmers. "Bebe was taught that when she had her pouches full she could exchange her rings for chocolate. When she left the j jewelry in Miss Melburne's room it was because she found chocolate in j the open drawer and supposed that she was performing he trick properly. F have trained her to realize that there were more chocolates in my room and lately she had been banking with me, to the peril of her stomach. The countess allowed her only six. t left the whole box there. That Is why the countess has been training her every afternoon of late. She'thought Bebe was getting careless. Sho dicl not know that she had competition." "f think I want to see this countess." said the stranger. "I think I shall recognize her. Want to come along?" "No, thank you," said Chalmers. "[ want to go and tell Miss Melburne." An hour later he strolled into the police station. "Did you get her?" he asked the chief. The later nodded. "Detective Sanderson recognized her as an old hotel thief. She had a new game, that was all. Did you—" "We are to be married next week." laughed Chalmers. "I got a bigger fee than you did, chief." "You ought, to." admitted the chief. "You did all the work." THE QUEEN'S DOWNFAIsli C a | // ^-ylRLS, listen, please! I want •j m ~f to tell you something." ? \J. Tne loungers in Gene 1 Hunter's room sprang bolt 5 upright at once and obediently fixed their eyes on the blonde young person in the morris chair. A spot of red glowed In her cheeks and her eyes shone blue as the September Bky. "Ready! Fire!" squeaked Vlvtorla Greenloe. "O, please, Victor, don't fool. It's something serious, horribly serious." Indeed, the voice from the morris chair was entirely serious. "I want (to tell you something. It's—it's Bbout Mrs. Morrow." The girls were attentive now, there i tK-as something In the atmosphere. The handsome blonde girl stood up ' end showed that she was tall. ( "Every inch a queen," breathed i Bquatty little Victoria to Theodore SWIlls. "Wtra't she make an elegant i class president, Ted?" ' Theodora drew her face Into a se- ories of lines and puckers intended to i .express skepticism, whereupon Victor promptly pinched her. "Hush!" she said, as If Teddy had jrat her doubts in words, "don't you jhear the queen talking?" The big girl was standing at the table now, nervously fingering Gene's ' 5>et, a hideous red iron lobster. I "You know, girls," she began, "I <have told you about Mrs. Morrow and fcow much I am Indebted to her. You all know that It is she who is send- flng me to college. Of course, she Is •only a laundress, and it hurts my 3>ride to have to be supported by her, jbut for the present I must suffer it to fee. When I graduate I shall more jthan repay the good woman for all ehe has done for me. What I wanted tto tell you is that she has asked me jto let her come to the Harvest Home Jiomorrow night." "Well. it.._ isn't Brownelle that's heen building a fence round," mur- Snured Victor, the Irrepressible. The poor little joke was lost, for the queen went on hastily. "She has never been here and she is very curious about our life and doings. She imagines college must be a wonderful place. I happened to mention the Harvest Home in one of my letters and she wrote back to know If she might come out just for an hour or two and look on. She will go back on the 9:30 train. "Of course, as there is no earthly reason why she should not come, I am going to let her. I shall show her every attention myself, but you will understand that I cannot very well introduce her round. I am telling you this, so you will understand —BO you will—well, so you won't think it strange, you know." VICTORIA. The finish was rather lame, but the murmur that went around was full of encouragement and appreciation. She breathed a sigh of relief, put the toy down and smiled into the friendly faces. She was so obviously a leader and moreover, as Victor laid down the law to Teddy, going along the corridor, "she's so full of ideas. And that's what we're paying for in a class president—ideas. Why, this whole Harvest Home business for the freshies was her idea. Invented and patented by her, exclusive rights sold to the sophs. And look how she bears having nobody in the world of her own and only a washerwoman for a guardian. Look how she bears it, I say." "But I don't make her out. just the same," grumbled Teddy. "And then her everlasting personal histories—" "Well, but," Victor fairly took the words out of Teddy's mouth, "think how hard it must be on a girl like Ernestine Morrow, with nobody in the world who is any relation to her. She just explains out of consideration for our feelings, and the woman's feelings. It shows her magnanimous spirit all the more. Do you hear, Teddy Wills?" "0, yes, my hearing's good yet, more's the wonder," returned Teddy, with a crushing look. "But mark you, Victor, I still hold my orignal opinion. There's cotton wool here, somewhere." The reception parlor in Stetson hall was gorgeous with sumac and golden rod. But undeniably Ernestine Morrorw was queen of the Harvest Home. In her soft gown of sheerest white, wearing her hair like "a natural golden coronet," as the ardent Victoria declared, remembering her Lowell, she was the girl people wanted to know about. Industrious little Victoria, who worked for her candidate in season and out, was busy. As she walked to and fro, her eyes out for every sophomore she had not already buttonholed and her thoughts upon a certain slip of paper of "fors" and "againsts" which she carried in her waist front, somebody touched her arm. . Victoria returned to her social duties with a start. "0, Mrs. Wellington! How do you do? Let me get you an ice." The guest shook her head smilingly. "Not just now, thank you. But I want you to sit down here a minute and tell me about some of the girls. 1 am especially interested in the big girl with yellow hair." Victoria stifled a sigh and sat i down, only to see a powerful sopho- I more for whom she had been waich- I ing. walk serenely into the room. Then she rallied and answered the question in Mrs. Wellington's eyes, by saying: "O, that's the queen. Her nar.-.e is Ernestine Morrow. We want her for class president, some of us, awfully. Isn't she splendid? And she has a most romantic story. She has told it to our crowd often, but I don't suppose it is generally known. "It seems that she was born in a hotel while her father and mother were traveling, and as her mother died at the time the baby was given into the care of the hotel laundress. In the midst of the excitement the father disappeared, wandered away in a frenzy of grief, as was supposed, forgetting all about his baby. "So the laundress took the child home and brought her up as well as she could. And I should say she has done pretty well, for Ernestine is as charming and refined as if she had grown up in her father's home. "And she says, the queen does, that she has a sincere affection for this good woman, but she says she can never quite forgive her for not, at least, trying to find the relatives. "She says she used to call the woman 'mama' when she was a child, but when she came to know her own history she felt, that she could never do so again. She always speaks of her as 'Mrs. Morrow.' She is here tonight, somewhere. I saw her with the queen a while ago. Perhaps I can point her out to you." As Victoria was craning her neck to look around the guest caught her arm suddenly. "Does it seem close here, Miss Greenloe?" she asked. "That lady in front of us Is acting queerly, as if she were faint, or something. O. my! O, Miss Greenloe. she is fainting! 0, quick! Call somebody!" The slender woman in front had evidently tried in vain to battle off the strange feeling that was creeping '.over her. And then she slid quietly I from her chuir to the floor, i Of course it was the queen that I Victoria thought of first, and she ran j at oni-c to say. •'Somebody's fainted I —over there—one of the guests— j See where those people are standing." I The queen started without hesitation. And it was like her forethought to seize a pitcher of ice water from a small stand on her way. "Let me pass, please, girls," she commanded, as she approached the group. They saw her face go white. A little cry escape her. Instantly she was down on her knees beside the woman. Then as the woman's eyelids (witched she bent down and whispered something. The woman tried to smile, but a quivering sigh came through her lips, instea-'. Presently the queen stood up. tucked her white skirts under one elbow and gathered the frail form into her strong young arms. With steady steps and downcast eyes she walked in the path they opened for her. "I will take her up to my room. Prof. Leonard," she said, as she passed. It was very late but the set had stolen into Gene Hunter's room to talk things over. There was no gay chuff tonight, however, no burlesque rehearsals of one another's blunders. They had felt the breath of a mystery and were subdued by It. Even Victoria's strident tones were hushed as she repeated: "Why, you know, I was telling Mrs. Wellington about the queen; she had asked about her, as most everybody did, when all at once she noticed that the lady in front of us was acting as if she couldn't get her breath—" Vivtoria stopped suddenly and looked around in consternation. It was the queen, but. how changed! She looked little enough like the striking girl who had queened it in the room below. "Girls." she began, but she scarce!;• raised her eyes to the frightened little group. "I have something to tell you, if you will let me. It isn't pleasant to tell and it won't be pleasant to hear, perhaps. But I owe it to you and to myself more than all to —to—Mrs Morrow. "I am a fake, a make-believe. I have lied to you. Some of you suspected." It seemed as If her eyes were going to Teddy Wills' corner, but she controlled herself and looked steadily at the rug. "I have lied to you many times. I lied to you last year. Everything I ever told you about myself was a lie. Girls," she suddenly flung back her head and challenged them with her straight gaze. "Mrs. Morrow is my mother!" THE QUEEN. Each tried to keep from looking at another. And when the strained voice began to speak again it was a distinct relief. "I know what you think of me and I deserve it all. And more, 0, unspeakably more. My father was in the Spanish war and he was killed. He was a poor man, but an honest one and a gentleman. I was named for him, but none of his courage and uprightness came to me with his name. "My mother has been doing fine laundry work because she knew how to tio that and she did not know how to do anything else well. She is an expert with fine laces and makes good pay, but I was ashamed of the work she did, although it was not only keeping life in me, but giving me privleges that do not come to every girl. "I wanted you girls to think that I was rich and distinguished. I thought if you knew, you would despise me. That is why I lied to you, and my lies have broken—her— heart." It seemed for a moment as if the girl were going to be overcome, but she swallowed resolutely and went on. "I know now that my views of life have all been wrong. That fearful minute when I thought my mother was dead taught me what I never knew before. I am proud of her. I will be true toiler and perhaps sometime she can believe in me again. "I had thought," she went on, dropping her voice, "that I would leave college when I found out that she knew. But afterward I decided that I had been a coward long enough. I will do the hardest thing. Stay right here and fit myself to lift her burden and help her. I—I—I don't expect your friendship any more. I don't deserve it. But—I had to tell you." She stood with downcast eyes before them, as if waiting for their verdict. Then she who had been their queen went with bowed head to the door. She had already turned the handle, when a boyish voice stopped her. "Hold on. Ernestine." said Teddy Wills earnestly, "I want to shake with you, queen." The queen grasped the hand and looked Into the honest eyes of the girl who had never been her friend. Perhaps she divined Teddy's thought —that she had never come so near being truly queenlike as she did in. that time of her humiliation. "B OB, dear, I wish you would, write a little business letter for me while you are there at your desk. You know so much better than I how to •word a letter of that kind. I want to send for some samples of organdies and other summer dress goods. Will you please write the letter for me?" Bob was obliging, and before he •went downtown he handed his wife the following letter, saying as he did eo: "That will fetch them, I guess." "Gentlemen—Will you please send rue some samples of organdies and other thin summer dress goods, and oblige. Very sincerely yours, "R. L. BROOKER." Mrs. Brooker read the letter, and said to herself: "That sounds dreadfully indefinite. , I'll just add a postscript to make it a i little clearer." This is the postscript: "My husband wrote the above letter for me, as I thought that he being a business man and accustomed to writing a great many business letters, would know better than I just how to word the letter, but he wrote it somewhat hurriedly, being anxious to get to his office early this morning because of a special engagement with one of his customers, and I do not think he has made it quite clear in regard to what I want. I want samples of the latest thing you have in organdies and other thin dress goods—something with rather small figures and pretty well covered that would look dressy at a summer hotel, as I am expecting to spend the month of August at a hotel of that kind and find myself in need of at least one light dress, if not two. If the samples you send are satisfactory and your prices are not too high. I may order two dress patterns. Ii will depend somewhat on whether the dress- i maker I have engaged can give me time enough to make up the two dresses, and I fear she cannot because of the demands on her time at this season. You might send samples of something in a fine lawn or thin white goods, but as I already have two white dresses I think It probable that I will be more likely to select the organdie if the samples are satisfactory. A friend of mine received a large number of beautiful samples from you about a year ago, and that Is 'how I happen to be sending to you for some, although I would probably have sent anyhow as I know yours to be a reliable store. I do not want any of last year's patterns, and I hope you will not forget to send only samples of the newest things you have, preferably pink and white, or a soft lavender and white, or even a black and white, as black and white seems to be worn a great deal this year. I would like the samples as soon as possible as I have my dressmaker engaged for the lath and this is the 3d, so you see there is not much time to spare. Then, too, I would like her to see the samples before I order the goods and have her suggest something in regard to the trimmings although I think that I shall have the dress made rather simply, for a real handsome organdie does not require a great deal of trimming. In fact, too much trimming is apt to spoil the effect of the goods itself. So, kindly send the samples as soon as you can and if- 1 like them I will be almost sure to send for a dress pattern, although they have some really handsome organdies here and I would not feel like obliging myself to ordering a dress from your samples. Kindly send at once and be sure and send samples of your newest patterns. "R. L. B." BOB, THE OBLIGING ONE. If— Poet—May I read you my last poem? Critic—You may, if it really is. HELP! HELP! An Iowa paper tells of a city physician who received the following urgent appeal for aid from a country doctor: "Dere Dock: I have pashunt whos phisical sines sho that his windpipe was ulserated of, and his lung hav dropped into his stummick. He is unable to soller and I fere his stummick tube is gon. I hav giv hym evrythlng under heven without effeckt, his father is wealthy, onerabul and in- fluenshal, he is a actlv member of the m. e. church and god nos I don't want to lose hym. what shal I do ans by return male yours in nede." HOW TO PROPOSE. Mrs. Hunks — I wish you wouldn't be so positive. There are two sides to every question. Old Hunks (with a roar) — Well, that's no reason why .vou should «1- ways be on the %vrong side. A Hindu father recently received the following letter asking for the hand of his daughter: "Dear Sir—> It is with a flattering penmanship that I write to have communication with you about the prospective condition of your damsel offspring. For some remote time to past, a secret passion has firing my bosom internally with loving tor your daughter. I have navigated every channel in the magnitude of my extensive jurisdiction to cruelly smother the growing love knot that is being constructed in my within side, but the humid lamp of affection still nourishes my love-sickened heart. Hoping that you will concordantiy corroborate in espousing your female progeny to my tender bosom and thereby acquire me into your famil" circle. Your dutiful son-in-law."
What members have found on this page
Get access to Newspapers.com
- The largest online newspaper archive
- 11,200+ newspapers from the 1700s–2000s
- Millions of additional pages added every month