Jane did not relish yielding; she had passed that childish stage, when “to give in” seemed noble; it was now a question of expediency, which was best? Should she go on and unburden her own conscience just because she had decided to do so, or should she follow the pleadings of this girl without having an intelligent reason?
Something stronger than psycho-analysis (Jane’s new field of study) forced her to look deeply into the tear-stained blue eyes of Sarah Howland, and that same mystic power, older and surer than theory, compelled Jane to reply:
“All right, Sally. I’ll wait a while. It’s all very queer but even queer things are sometimes reasonable,” and she threw an affectionate arm about the little freshman as she turned her back on the judicial office in the big, gray stone building.
THE PICKET AND THE SPOOK
Not going to bed at all, Janey?” queried Judith, letting her hair fall over her shoulders and shaking her head like a happy care-free Collie. “This bed is too inviting to slight that way. I never knew that old spooky Lenox was so gorgeously equipped.” Judith was testing the comforts of the big double bed in the guest chamber of Lenox Hall, the same that welcomed Jane and Dozia on the night previous.
“I am not going to run the risk of missing anything,” Jane answered from her place in the big cushioned steamer chair. “This is very comfortable and I am all dressed ready to dive after the least suspicious sound. Besides, I’m not a bit sleepy—gone past my sleep, as Aunt Mary would say.”
“I don’t want to desert you,” volunteered Judith, “and it doesn’t seem just the thing for me to turn into this downy bed while you sit there like a sentinel. But truth to tell I am shamefully human and just counting on thirty winks before the ghost walks. Be sure to call me at the very first hint. Of course you will want to bag him personally, Jane, but I’ll be glad to help you pull the draw string.”
It was drawing close to the tainted hour, and Jane sat there wondering how one single day could seem as long as that just past. She had no idea of admitting what part actual fatigue can play in one’s perspective, neither would she have owned to nerves as the cause of her unnatural wakefulness; nevertheless these were both factors in her almost painful alertness.
“At least now I have a chance to think,” she temporized, “and I wish I could solve the mystery of Sally Howland’s peculiar connection with Shirley Duncan.”
They were so unlike, so foreign in disposition and character; not relatives, and Sally even disclaimed any previous acquaintance with the country girl. Then Sally’s attempt to forestall the midnight noises by taking the shunned room at the very foot of the dreaded attic stairs—what could that mean?
Jane pondered feebly, and feeling just the least bit drowsy she left her place in the steamer chair to get a drink of water in the lavatory. It would not do to actually fall asleep “at the switch.”