“But you wouldn’t! That’s the point, you see. And you always think things are going to be all right. That’s fine—because about half the time we can control the things that happen to us. If we think everything will come right in the end, we can usually make them work out our way. But if we start in thinking that nothing is going to be right, why, then we’re licked before we begin, and there’s not much use trying at all. Now, you didn’t say Zara would feel differently if things came out right. You said she would when everything was straightened out. And that’s the spirit that wins. Try to put some more of it into her, and try to make her tell you what happened, too.”
But all of Bessie’s efforts to win Zara’s confidence that day were in vain. Zara, however, seemed to be all right. She was brighter and livelier than she had been since Bessie had known her. All day long she laughed and burst into little snatches of song, and Miss Mercer was delighted.
Nevertheless Bessie wasn’t satisfied, and she kept a close watch on Zara all day. It seemed time wasted, however. Zara made no attempt to keep away from her; seemed anxious, indeed, to be with her chum, that they might talk over their plans for winning enough honors as Camp Fire Girls to become Fire-Makers.
Had Bessie’s eyes and her perceptions been less keen she would have thought her first idea, the one she shared with Charlie Jamieson, a mistaken one. But more than once, when Zara thought she was unobserved, and was therefore off her guard, Bessie saw the corners of her mouth droop and a wistful look come into her eyes. There was fear in those eyes, too, though of what, Bessie could not imagine.
It was long after midnight that night when Bessie was aroused, she scarcely knew how. Some instinct led her to turn on the light—and she could scarcely repress a scream when she saw that Zara’s bed was empty!
For a moment she stood in the middle of the room, dazed, wondering what could have happened. The door was closed. Bessie rushed to it, and looked out, but there was no sign of Zara in the hall. She listened intently. The house was silent, with the silence that broods over a well regulated house at night, when everyone is or ought to be asleep. But then there was a noise from outside—a noise that came through the windows, from the street.
Bessie rushed back into the room and over to the window. She knew now that the noise she heard was the same one that had awakened her.
And, looking out of the window, Bessie saw what had made the noise—a big, green automobile, that, even as she looked, was gliding slowly but with increasing speed away from the Mercer house. She stood rooted to the spot, unable to cry out, or to make a move. But somehow, though she could never explain afterward how it happened, since the importance of it did not strike her at all at the time, Bessie managed to get a mental photograph of one thing that was to prove important in the extreme—the number of the automobile, plainly visible in the light of the tail lamp that shone full upon it. The figures were registered in her brain as if she had studied them for an hour in the effort to memorize them—4587.