“Judith Stearns is not here,” snapped the South American. “And what’s more I don’t know nor care where she is. I can’t spend my time with wild college girls who try to run down poor messenger boys.”
“Very well,” said Jane, deciding no more time could be wasted in argument. “But I warn you if our friend has been placed in any compromising position, or has been misrepresented to that hateful officer, we shall hold you responsible, for our girls saw her come here.”
Jane and Dozia turned to the door. The maid was evidently well pleased with the move, for she showed glittering teeth in an inopportune smile. Dolorez had gained a very high natural color that cut in streaks through her make-up. She was breathing hard, and Dozia, usually fearless, thought it best not to anger her further. She followed Jane without even throwing out a look of defiance or challenge, and when the door closed on their heels both Jane and Dozia felt and really looked pale.
The situation was growing more complicated every moment, and now the girls from the side porch pounced upon the others with frivolous inquiries about that beauty shop.
“Hush,” ordered Jane. “Do you realize Judith may have been taken to that horrible old station house? You three go back to college and make sure she has not returned. We, Dozia, Janet and I, will go into the town hall. You can phone us there in twenty minutes. Now hurry and be prudent. Don’t spread any sensational stories.”
Jane acted like a senior now, but the emergency was sufficiently exacting to demand such forceful means.
Where was Judith Stearns and what was the meaning of Dolorez Vincez’ sinister statement, about running down poor messenger boys? Also who could have been sobbing in the room back of the parlors?
“Look!” exclaimed Jane as they left the tanbark walk. “Who is that running from the back driveway?”
“Little Sarah Howland,” replied Dozia in amazement. “Whatever can that innocent little thing be doing around here?”
“I—wonder,” sighed Jane as they hurried off to the old town hall.
“Jane,” murmured Dozia, halting her companion for a moment as a sudden calling was heard through the fields, “do you think that baby can be implicated with those unscrupulous shop keepers?”
“She was in there, and we saw her run,” replied Jane. “I would like to doubt my own eyes—”
Dozia grasped her arm and again they hurried on.
“Find Judith!” That was their slogan.
WHAT HAPPENED TO JUDITH
In that mysterious way peculiar to girls, the students knew, without the facts being apparent, that something strange and perhaps even desperate had happened to Judith.
They had not been told any of the details, but when the party walking in from the village was suddenly broken up, first by the incident of the messenger boys’ quarrel and then by Judith’s disappearance into Dol Vin’s beauty shop, with officer Sandy twirling his club and “gum-shoeing” after her, the whole situation was as clear as if the pieces had been patched together on a movie screen.