Jean now drew up a straight chair and sat down, facing the others from
the other corner of the mantel. Then she began, soberly at first, but
frequently displaying her pretty dimple in smiles, chuckles and even
grins as her story proceeded.
“It’s this way, girls. We just–simply–have to have a club, and I
don’t mean an ordinary club or society, but something different, a
_secret_ club!”
“Sakes!” exclaimed Molly, “something like Grace’s sorority at college?”
“No. That wouldn’t be any fun for us. Well, perhaps. But have you
noticed how mysterious some of the boys have been lately?”
Several girls said that they had not seen anything unusual. Leigh
remarked that she never paid any attention to what they did, except at
parties. But Molly remembered that when they were skating recently “a
knot of the boys” drew together, talking about something and that when
she and Bess happened to skate near them, to avoid a rough place in the
ice, “the bunch” broke up and skated apart.
“How about Jimmy, Nan?” asked Molly.
“He’s in it, but the first I noticed was his new pin, this morning,
though he may have been wearing it before, out of sight. When I asked
him about it, he said, ‘Oh nothing. Bottle up your curiosity, Nan’!”
This called forth various comments on brothers and whether the boys’
club was a senior fraternity or not. Jean waited till the opportunity
“No, it can’t be a real fraternity,” said she, “for they aren’t
allowed. Besides Billy Baxter belongs and he’s only a sophomore, like
us. Nobody wants to know, of course, just what boys do; but this time
they have gotten up some sort of a secret society and feel so snippy
about it that we just ought to do something, too.”
“And be called ‘copy-cats’,” Nan suggested.
“Yes, that’s so,” acknowledged Jean. “But just wait a minute. Perhaps
you won’t think that what I did was so terrible, then; for I thought of
that, too. Billy, you know, comes home my way from school, and tonight
he whistled and called ‘Je-an,’ and caught up with me. Well, in a
minute I knew it wasn’t for anything else than to show me his new pin
and crow over us girls a little. I didn’t know about Jimmy, of course,
and there must be several sophomores in it, I’m sure. We’ll have to
find out how big a crowd belongs.” A wide grin now almost obscured the
dimple in Jean’s cheek.
“Girls, they call themselves ‘The Black Wizards’ and their pin is a
most terrible lookin’ snake in a queer W! Billy was full of it, and
by a few little innocent questions I got a lot of news! I wasn’t
pretending either, when I told him that I was awfully interested,
and that it must be fine and lots of fun. I imagine that they must
have made it up to wear their pins,–they’d just come,–and not keep
_everything_ to themselves any longer.
“So I said, ‘Why isn’t that _grand_,–just like us girls, only, only we
haven’t such a scary sign as a snake, and our pins haven’t come yet!’”
With this Jean looked around with an expression like that of the cat
after it had eaten the canary.
“Oh, you whopper-teller!” cried Molly. “And did you say it after he
told you they wouldn’t keep the fact of their having a club secret any
“Oh, no! I put that in just now. He just said that the boys had a new
club, and told me the name and how they had lots of great plans and
things like that. What I said wasn’t exactly untrue, for I formed a
club of one member then and there, and I felt pretty sure that Nan
would help me out, so I could say ‘girls,’–and Billy was gloating so!
“There isn’t a thing in this little town like Girl Scouts or Camp Fire
Girls or anything, and nobody to start them. Don’t _you_ think that we
ought to have something besides the school societies and the church
things, Molly?”
Molly gave Jean a look of amusement. “It would be fun,” she answered.
“It’s a jolly idea,” said Fran decisively. “Go on, Jean. What else did
you and Billy say?”
“Of course Billy wouldn’t believe me. ‘You’re just kidding,’ he said.
‘But if we get up a secret club, of _course_ you _girls_ would have to
have one, too! What’s the name of yours, if you _have_ one?’ I could
see that he was _real suspicious_, and I didn’t blame him. It did
_look_ suspicious!”
Nan almost fell off the arm of Leigh’s chair at this, and the fudge
plate tilted precariously. “I should think it did!” she cried.
While the girls laughed, Jean dimpled and rose to take the fudge plate
from Nan, passing it around once more. Placing the plate upon the
mantel, she continued:
“‘It isn’t best to tell our name yet,’ I said to Billy. ‘It’s sort of
secret, too’.”
“I should say so!” gasped Leigh.
“Sh-sh,” said Phoebe. “Let Jean tell it.”
“Billy said much the same thing, Leigh,” laughed Jean. “He said, ‘_Yes_
it is!–’cause you haven’t any!’
“‘I’ll tell you the initials,’ I said,–thinking awfully fast, girls!
But I couldn’t seem to think of a thing but ‘Busy Bees’ or ‘Happy
Hearts’ or something like that. Just then we passed a sign that said
‘S. P. Smith,’ so I tossed my head a little and said, ‘They’re S. P.
What do you think of that, now?’ I was getting in deeper and deeper,
you see.”
“‘H’m,’ he said, ‘what are you going to do?’
“‘That,’ I said, ‘is sort of a secret, too. You never heard of a secret
society that told everything, did you? We may tell our name later,
“‘It won’t be long,’ Billy said.
“‘Now isn’t that mean of you?’ I asked.” Jean lifted her chin and
looked sidewise at Leigh as she had doubtless scanned Billy.
“He asked me where our club met and I said, ‘Most anywhere yet, but
headquarters is at our house.’ Billy didn’t say anything for a
minute. Billy is terribly smart, you know, and it looked fishy to
him,–naturally! Still, some of us have been meeting occasionally, you
“Then he said, ‘Well, all I have to say is that it’s awfully funny we
never heard anything of it before this. Girls can’t keep a secret!’”
“‘Oh, _can’t_ we?’ I asked. Then Billy looked at me and laughed, and
I laughed, and he broke a peanut chocolate bar into two pieces and
gave me the biggest,–bigger, I mean; so he wasn’t mad, of course. But
by this time Danny Pierce was coming along on the other side of the
street, and looked over with a grin,–and that finished Billy. You know
how he feels about being seen with a girl! So he never said goodbye or
anything but bolted across to Danny. I’m sure he’ll tell Danny about
our club, so you see what I’ve gotten us into. But there’s one thing
that will save you, if you don’t want to come to my rescue,–Billy
didn’t ask me who belonged.
“I rushed home and asked Mother if I could have the finished room in
the attic for a club room and that is all right. Now will any of you
stand by me, or do I have to be a club all by myself?”
“You forget me, Jean,” Nan reminded her. “I promised to be a S. P. S.
P. forever!”
Molly jumped to her feet. “All in favor of being an S. P. stand up!”
Every girl responded and Leigh, of whom Jean had been most in doubt,
laughingly announced that she wouldn’t miss it for anything. “Let’s
have _sweet_ pins,” she added. “A snake would be dreadful,–Ugh!”
“No, really, Leigh, their pins are pretty,” said Nan, “gold with a
little black enamel, and Jim said that when they could afford it they
might have rubies for the snakes’ eyes. That was when I looked at his
“The ‘Black Wizards!’ Wow!” exclaimed Bess. “Let’s elect Jean
president, and Nan secretary, and Leigh would make a good treasurer, as
her father’s president of the bank now. I’m a nominating committee!”
The girls agreed that Bess’s suggestions were good. Bess, Fran and
Phoebe were appointed a committee on what the club should do, and every
one was to consider herself a committee to determine what S. P. should
represent. “S. could stand for Sophomore,” Molly suggested. Molly had
begged off from any office, as she had so many church organizations to
“Sophomore is too common, Molly,” said Phoebe. “There are exactly seven
of us, too, and seven is a lucky number. But I think that we can tell
better after we think up what would be fun to do. Could we see the
attic, Jean?”
“Yes. I’ll ask Mother, though, first. And don’t you think that we are
enough right now, or would you rather ask more girls at once?”
For several minutes the girls talked that matter over, finally
concluding that for the present, though they had many other friends,
it would be better to keep the number as it stood. The sophomore class
was not large. If they wanted to mix the group, as the boys were doing,
there would be time enough. As Jean well knew, these were the leading
girls of her class.
She slipped out to consult her mother, who gave permission at once for
the girls to visit the attic and “view the landscape o’er,” as Molly
said. Mrs. Gordon came into the living room to meet the girls and
advised them to wear their coats into the cold regions and to look out
for dust. “We do not dust the attic every day,” she added, with a smile
like Jean’s.
The seven S. P.’s accordingly trooped up the two flights of stairs
to the attic, or third floor. As they rounded the post at the top of
an enclosed stairway, they found themselves in a large space dimly
lighted by one window at the head of the stairs. The whole attic, to
the farthermost corners, stretched before them. Dusty, shrouded shapes
stood here and there. A great chimney went up through the middle,
showing some of the sooty dust that had also sprinkled down from
somewhere upon draped furniture or old trunks. Jean warned the girls
again about dust, but no one cared.
At the front of this third floor a gable and a room of good height had
been finished, separated by partitions and a door from the rest of
the “attic.” The door was not far from the stairs and Jean explained
that her father intended to make a hall there some day, shutting off
the unfinished part by another partition and door. “But there’s no use
in doing it, Mother says, for we’ll never need to use this room, and
that’s why it will be just the thing for us. I suppose we can use the
whole attic if we want to. We could have a lovely party up here some
day. And I never even thought of it before!”
“Before your necessity became the ‘mother of invention,’ Jean.”
“That’s so, and ‘one thing leads to another’!”
Keen young eyes surveyed the proposed club room and found
possibilities. A covered couch ran along one wall. Several good
pieces of furniture stood about. The room was about fifteen feet
in one direction, though it would have been hard to give its actual
dimensions, so broken up was it into nooks and corners. Jean threw open
the door of an immense closet and explained that the house had once
been a big country house and that this room had been occupied by two
“It is the very place, Jean!” cried cheery Fran. “How soon can we fix
it up? I have a lot of ideas already!”

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“Mother will have to see if the heat will turn on, though there is a
place for a little stove, you see, if the furnace won’t heat us. I’ll
let you know; but we ought to have another meeting soon.”
“Come to our house Saturday, girls,” Leigh invited. “We haven’t
a lovely attic like this, but we can meet in my big room all to
This was a good suggestion. Leigh was warming up, the girls thought,
and Phoebe knew that it was the opportunity Leigh wanted to do
something for them without appearing to thrust herself into their
affairs, a thing about which she was sensitive. A club would be just
the thing for Leigh.
Nan suggested that it would be a good thing to make no reference to S.
P. affairs, or appear to be concerned about anything private, to “show
Billy that girls could have something going on without their making a
great fuss about it.”
Fran took a little exception to this. “Don’t you think that once or
twice we ought to be saying something and then stop suddenly till we
get past some of the boys?” she asked.
“Fran, if you will do that, I’ll be–a–vindicated, and your friend
forever! Thanks muchly, girls, for going into this! Now do rack your
brains to think of a good S. P. name, even if we should want to change
it after a while.”
“Don’t worry, Jean. S. P. can mean something, I’m sure. We’ll put on
our thinking caps till Saturday and longer if necessary. Still, Jean,
if we can’t think of anything, nobody will know the difference!” And
this was Leigh Dudley, over inviting whom Jean had hesitated, not sure
that Leigh would be at all interested!