DOROTHY’S ADVICE.

For days after John Hadley had seen Marjorie’s brother at the dance, he
could think of little else. Marjorie would have heard about it by now
he reasoned, and he wondered what she would think.

It was not that he considered himself bound in any way to Marjorie;
he certainly was not in a position to consider such a thing, even if
the girl herself were willing; but he hated to have her hear through a
third person that he had been spending an evening with another girl,
after their little misunderstanding. She had always known that he was
not the sort of man to go about much with a number of girls, for the
simple reason that he hated to waste time with persons for whom he did
not sincerely care. With the exception of Marjorie Wilkinson, he seldom
paid any attention to the members of the opposite sex, in order that he
might give all the more time to his work.

In the last year John Hadley had made rapid progress. Entering the
company as a “man of all jobs,” he had steadily climbed his way up,
until now, as an expert on radio outfits, he was often sent to inspect
or install some of the larger, more expensive ones. The expansion of
the plant, due to the increased demand for this new modern invention,
had created a splendid opportunity for the ambitious young man to
rise; and he had been one of the first among the company’s employes to
benefit by it.

Although he regretted the circumstances under which he had seen Jack
Wilkinson, he did not regret the growing friendship between himself
and Dorothy Snyder. When he visited his mother on the following
week-end, and found the girl happily going about her work, she seemed
more friendly than before, more like a normal human-being. There was
something very appealing about her blue eyes, with the dark shadows
under them, and her wistful way of keeping the conversation away
from herself. Her voice, her manner, her very walk, proclaimed her
well-bred; her gratitude to his mother was pleasant to see. John
watched her as she moved about the house or sat in the living room with
her fancy-work, so unobtrusive in her quiet way; and he wished that he
might do something to help her, to take her out of her loneliness, just
as his mother had helped her.

Dorothy would be busy all of Saturday afternoon and evening; but John
succeeded in engaging her time for himself on Sunday afternoon, and
he went to bed pleased with the turn affairs had taken. If the girl
did not actually like him, at least she did not dislike him, and the
prospect of her companionship at the end of each week was something to
look forward to.

Soon after dinner the next day the couple set out for the beach. The
sky was a deep blue, and there was a delightful sea-breeze; the water
was just rough enough to be pretty. The quiet of the Sunday afternoon,
interrupted only by the monotonous breaking of the waves near the
shore, seemed very restful to Dorothy. She sighed peacefully.

John had resolved, if possible, to make the girl talk about herself.
It would not only be interesting, but it would serve to keep his own
thoughts away from Marjorie. But he realized that he must be very
tactful.

“And do you like your work, Miss Snyder?” he asked, casually.

“Yes–and no,” she replied, thoughtfully. “I want to earn some money to
pay my debts, but I shall be dreadfully sorry to leave your mother.”

John started; he had not considered this possibility. He had taken it
for granted that the girl would remain with his mother as long as she
had the cottage.

“Leave mother?” he repeated. “But why should you?”

“Why, I don’t know. I never thought of anything else.”

“But you’re such company for her!” objected the young man. “And you
needn’t be under any obligations to her–you can pay board, if you
wish.”

“Yes, of course. But she might need the room–”

“Nonsense!” interrupted John. “Nobody wants an attic room! Mother
couldn’t offer it to anybody her own age, and she never has young
guests. And you probably couldn’t get another so cheaply anywhere else.”

“Yes, that’s true. But do you suppose she wants me?”

“Of course she does! And so do I!” he added, with sincerity.

Dorothy gave a little gasp, and looked sideways at her companion. Then,
dropping her eyes, she remarked, quietly,

“Then I can’t stay.”

“You can’t stay–because we want you!” John repeated, in astonishment.

“No! I mustn’t have young men friends. I’m–I’m not free!”

“You mean you’re–engaged–or–married?”

“No, not that!” she cried, hastily. “I–I–” her eyes filled with
tears–“I can’t explain, but I’m–well–I’m just not free, that’s all!”

John feared a return of her nervousness, and hated himself for making
her cry. He tried to be reassuring.

“My dear girl,” he said, in an almost fatherly fashion, “for that
matter, I’m not really free myself. I’ve cared for one girl ever since
I was in high school, and I don’t believe I’ll ever care in that way
for anybody else. She doesn’t seem to think much of me; but that
doesn’t matter–my feelings won’t change. So couldn’t you just sort of
adopt me as a big brother, and tell me your troubles when you want to?
I promise not to bother you one bit!”

Dorothy looked up gratefully, and put her hand on John’s arm. She was
thankful to be away from the dangerous topic of herself, and glad of
the chance to accept this friendship so frankly offered.

“Oh, I do thank you!” she said. “And it will mean so much to be able to
go on living with your mother. But will you promise not to talk about
my affairs to anybody? I’m just a girl your mother is helping!”

“Why, certainly,” replied John. “Just as you wish.” Nevertheless he was
mystified by her desire to hide from the world.

They walked along silently for awhile; then John talked of indifferent
things until Dorothy seemed quite in control of herself again. At last
she said,

“Can’t you tell me more about this girl? I’m so interested.”

“Why, yes, of course,” replied the young man. “Only I’d rather not tell
you her name.”

“Naturally,” agreed Dorothy.

It was an interesting subject to John, and he spoke glowingly of the
girl’s courage, her sincerity, her integrity. He told of her career
as a Girl Scout, of the prizes and merit-badges she had won, of
her distinction in being selected patrol leader of the troop which
represented the United States scouts at the World Conference in Canada.
Her record would not be complete, he thought, if he did not mention
some of the difficulties and trials she had encountered during her
boarding school life, and so he told Dorothy about Ruth Henry, and her
mean actions against Marjorie; and as he related these incidents, he
noticed that his companion listened with blazing eyes. Probably the
story would do her good; in her interest in the other girl, she could
forget her own troubles for a time.

“Why, she’s wonderful!” she cried, admiringly, when John had finished.
“And she’s a Girl Scout officer now?”

“Yes, a Girl Scout lieutenant!” said John, proudly.

Dorothy seemed to be lost in thought.

“I used to know some Girl Scouts,” she said, more as if she were
talking to herself than to her companion, “but I can’t remember their
names now. If they come to me, I’ll tell them to you, so you can ask
your friend, when you write, whether she knows them.”

“But I never write to her,” said John, softly.

“Why not?” asked Dorothy, in amazement.

“Well, she promised to spend part of her vacation at some resort with
mother and me, and she suddenly changed her mind, left me out of the
question, and went out on a ranch instead. But it wasn’t just that–I
didn’t blame her a bit for liking that better–only she didn’t take the
trouble to explain, even after her plans were made. She simply waited
for me to find out through somebody else–and then she practically
laughed at my chagrin!”

“Oh, no!” protested Dorothy. “You misunderstood her! If she’s the kind
of girl you’ve been telling me about, she couldn’t do that. She was
waiting for a special opportunity to tell you all about it.”

“I wonder!” mused John. “I wish I believed that. But she has never
written!”

“Naturally–if you haven’t! Girls don’t write first.”

John was silent for a moment; that aspect of the situation had never
occurred to him.

“Perhaps you’re right,” he admitted, finally. “Do you think I ought to
write, Dorothy?”

“I do!” replied the girl emphatically, so absorbed in her thought that
she had not noticed his use of her first name.

“Then I will!” he said.

That night he wrote a friendly, but impersonal letter to Marjorie,
ignoring their silence. But in spite of the fact that he knew Jack had
told about the dance, he never mentioned Dorothy Snyder’s name, or
alluded to her in any way.

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