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- Mary Louise - 1/30 -


MARY LOUISE

By

Edith Van Dyne

Author of "Aunt Jane's Nieces Series" "The Daring Twins," etc.

TO YOUNG READERS

You will like Mary Louise because she is so much like yourself. Mrs. Van Dyne has succeeded in finding a very human girl for her heroine; Mary Louise is really not a fiction character at all. Perhaps you know the author through her "Aunt Jane's Nieces" stories; then you don't need to be told that you will want to read all the volumes that will be written about lovable Mary Louise. Mrs. Van Dyne is recognized as one of the most interesting writers for girls to-day. Her success is largely due to the fact that she does not write DOWN to her young readers; she realizes that the girl of to-day does not have to be babied, and that her quick mind is able to appreciate stories that are as well planned and cleverly told as adult fiction.

That is the theory behind "The Bluebird Books." If you are the girl who likes books of individuality--wholesome without being tiresome, and full of action without being sensational--then you are just the girl for whom the series is being written. "Mary Louise" is more than a worthy successor to the "Aunt Jane's Nieces Series"--it has merit which you will quickly recognize.

THE PUBLISHERS.

CONTENTS

I JUST AN ARGUMENT

II GRAN'PA JIM

III A SURPRISE

IV SHIFTING SANDS

V OFFICIAL INVESTIGATION

VI UNDER A CLOUD

VII THE ESCAPE

VIII A FRIENDLY FOE

IX OFFICER O'GORMAN

X RATHER QUEER INDEED

XI MARY LOUISE MEETS IRENE

XII A CHEERFUL COMRADE

XIII BUB SUCCUMBS TO FORCE

XIV A CALL FROM AGATHA LORD

XV BUB'S HOBBY

XVI THE STOLEN BOOK

XVII THE HIRED GIRL

XVIII MARY LOUISE GROWS SUSPICIOUS

XIX AN ARTFUL CONFESSION

XX DIAMOND CUT DIAMOND

XXI BAD NEWS

XXII THE FOLKS AT BIGBEE'S

XXIII A KISS FROM JOSIE

XXIV FACING THE TRUTH

XXV SIMPLE JUSTICE

XXVI THE LETTER

CHAPTER I

JUST AN ARGUMENT

"It's positively cruel!" pouted Jennie Allen, one of a group of girls occupying a garden bench in the ample grounds of Miss Stearne's School for Girls, at Beverly.

"It's worse than that; it's insulting," declared Mable Westervelt, her big dark eyes flashing indignantly.

"Doesn't it seem to reflect on our characters?" timidly asked Dorothy Knerr.

"Indeed it does!" asserted Sue Finley. "But here comes Mary Louise; let's ask her opinion."

"Phoo! Mary Louise is only a day scholar," said Jennie. "The restriction doesn't apply to her at all."

"I'd like to hear what she says, anyhow," remarked Dorothy. "Mary Louise has a way of untangling things, you know."

"She's rather too officious to suit me," Mable Westervelt retorted, "and she's younger than any of us. One would think, the way she poses as monitor at this second-rate, run-down boarding school, that Mary Louise Burrows made the world."

"Oh, Mable! I've never known her to pose at all," said Sue. "But, hush; she mustn't overhear us and, besides, if we want her to intercede with Miss Stearne we must not offend her."

The girl they were discussing came leisurely down a path, her books under one arm, the other hand holding a class paper which she examined in a cursory way as she walked. She wore a dark skirt and a simple shirtwaist, both quite modish and becoming, and her shoes were the admiration and envy of half the girls at the school. Dorothy Knerr used to say that "Mary Louise's clothes always looked as if they grew on her," but that may have been partially accounted for by the grace of her slim form and her unconscious but distinctive poise of bearing. Few people would describe Mary Louise Burrows as beautiful, while all would agree that she possessed charming manners. And she was fifteen--an age when many girls are both awkward and shy.

As she drew near to the group on the bench they ceased discussing Mary Louise but continued angrily to canvass their latest grievance.

"What do you think, Mary Louise," demanded Jennie, as the girl paused before them, "of this latest outrage?"

"What outrage, Jen?" with a whimsical smile at their indignant faces.

"This latest decree of the tyrant Stearne. Didn't you see it posted on the blackboard this morning? 'The young ladies will hereafter refrain from leaving the school grounds after the hour of six p.m., unless written permission is first secured from the Principal. Any infraction of this rule will result in suspension or permanent dismissal.' We're determined not to stand for this rule a single minute. We intend to strike for our liberties."

"Well," said Mary Louise reflectively, "I'm not surprised. The wonder is that Miss Stearne hasn't stopped your evening parades before now. This is a small school in a small town, where everyone knows everyone else; otherwise you'd have been guarded as jealously as if you were in a convent. Did you ever know or hear of any other private boarding school where the girls were allowed to go to town evenings, or whenever they pleased out of school hours?"

"Didn't I tell you?" snapped Mable, addressing the group. "Mary Louise is always on the wrong side. Other schools are not criterions for this ramshackle establishment, anyhow. We have twelve boarders and four day scholars, and how Miss Stearne ever supports the place and herself on her income is an occult problem that the geometries can't solve. She pays little Miss Dandler, her assistant, the wages of an ordinary housemaid; the furniture is old and shabby and the classrooms gloomy; the food is more nourishing than feastful and the tablecloths are so patched and darned that it's a wonder they hold together."

Mary Louise quietly seated herself upon the bench beside them.

"You're looking on the seamy side, Mable," she said with a smile, "and you're not quite just to the school. I believe your parents sent you here because Miss Stearne is known to be a very competent teacher and her school has an excellent reputation of long standing. For twenty years this delightful old place, which was once General Barlow's residence, has been a select school for young ladies of the best families. Gran'pa Jim says it's an evidence of good breeding and respectability to have attended Miss Stearne's school."

"Well, what's that got to do with this insulting order to stay in evenings?" demanded Sue Finley. "You'd better put all that rot you're talking into a circular and mail it to the mothers of imbecile daughters. Miss Stearne has gone a step too far in her tyranny, as she'll find out. We know well enough what it means. There's no inducement for us to wander into that little tucked-up town of Beverly after dinner except to take in the picture show, which is our one innocent recreation. I'm sure we've always conducted ourselves most properly. This order simply means we must cut out the picture show and, if we permit it to stand, heaven only knows what we shall do to amuse ourselves."


Mary Louise - 1/30

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