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“The first time I ever get tired shopping, I 'm going to stop doing it,” she answered. “Good" laughed Nance. “Then come on. Mr. Crawford won't be here to watch us to-day.” “Did n't you like him?” asked Beth, as they started arm in arm for the court. “Well enough,” answered Nance. “He seemed rather foreign.” But it happened that, even with Mr. Crawford on the high seas, they did not find themselves free from interruption. Before the first ball was served, Elizabeth heard a familiar voice, and turned to find herself facing Roy Thornton. Tanned and ruddy, he strode toward her, with —first of all—a surprised greeting to Nance.
“Mrs. Trumbull said you were up here,” he explained. “I could n't
help coming over, even though—” He paused and studied Elizabeth a moment, as though to learn just what her attitude toward him might be. She looked uneasy, but he caught a smile about the corners of her mouth that encouraged him. “‘Shake, please !' as we boys say. Won't you?” he said, extending his hand; and she obeyed. “I 'm glad to see you again, and I 'm glad to see you out here.” He crossed to Nance. “You, too, Nance " he added. “You both look as though you had been at it all summer.” “And you had a pleasant summer?” Elizabeth asked, anxious to change the subject. “Fine !” he answered enthusiastically. “Wenham, Harden, and I took a walking trip through New England. We covered hundreds of miles.” “That must have been good fun,” said Nance. “Great ' We started without a cent, and worked our way—just to see if we could do it. But—excuse me ! I 'm interrupting your game; I 'll watch a minute, if I may. Do go on " “I'd rather hear more about your trip.” Elizabeth said hastily. “Would n't you, Nance?” Nance, understanding Elizabeth's motive in not wishing to play before Roy, nodded. But the latter would not hear of their giving up the game.
ELIZABETH GOES SHOPPING.
“If you won't play, I'll go,” he said decidedly. “The story can wait, but you are n't always sure of such tennis weather as this.”
There seemed to be no alternative. They had either to play or let him go, so Elizabeth reluctantly picked up the balls. While doing this, however, she found a chance to whisper to Nance:
“Don’t you dare speak, no matter how badly I play !”
(SEE PAGE 790.)
Elizabeth took her position, and with an awkward swoop of her racket, sent the first ball spinning twenty feet out of the court. The next one she served into the net. She made herself as awkward as possible, and, when it came time for Nance to serve, acted just as ridiculously in trying to return the ball. Nance began to laugh, and soon reached a point where she could not control herself. As a result, she played about as badly as Elizabeth. “Oh, look here, Beth,” protested Roy, “take things easier.” This was just after she had run under a gentle lob from Nance, missing it entirely. But Elizabeth was able to keep up the farce no longer. “I don't feel much like playing to-day,” she said. “I 'm not doing at all well.”
“Oh, you must n’t get discouraged, Beth !” Roy said seriously. “I wish you 'd let me come up and play with you some day.” “I 'm afraid I 'd give you as dull a game as poor Nance has had to endure,” she replied. “We 'll arrange for it some Saturday, shall We?” “I 'll see,” she answered, without committing herself. “But I expect to be very busy. School begins Monday, and that, with my housework—” “You ’re going back to school?” he exclaimed. She nodded, though her cheeks turned scarlet, for a second, at the word “back.” “Good that's great l” he went on, and added in explanation, “somehow it made you seem awfully grown up, not being in school.” The three returned to the house by the lane, and there Roy was persuaded to tell more of his Summer adventures.
“We wanted to see if we could n't be as good .
pioneers as our great-grandfathers were,” he said, “so we started from Portland to find out just how far we could work our way. It was easy enough. We chopped wood, helped with the haying, and lived like kings. I guess we could have kept on going clear to the Pacific Ocean, if we 'd had time.” “I’ll wager you could,” agreed Mrs. Trumbull. But it was only bit by bit that he was induced to tell the interesting details of the experiment. In fact, they kept cropping out all winter. “Don't forget about the tennis game,” he said, as he was leaving. “Oh, Beth !” exclaimed Nance, when they were alone, “I—I tried not to laugh.” “I don't know that it was a very nice thing to do,” Elizabeth apologized, “but I did n't want to give away my secret just then. And I won't play with him until after the tournament.” “I would n’t, if I wanted to keep the secret,” laughed Nance. “I don't believe you could play so outrageously a second time.” In many ways, Elizabeth dreaded the ordeal of that first day at school, but when the time came, to her surprise she found it no ordeal at all. Miss Grimshawe greeted her with a cordiality that, in a moment, effaced all memory of the past. Neither in word nor manner did she in any way
refer to it. And little Miss Santier actually wept at sight of Elizabeth. “Cherie 1 cheries" she choked, “the school
was n’t the same without you.” And when Elizabeth answered her in very good French, the little woman was forced once again to wipe her eyes. But with the girls it was another matter. There was a great deal of gossip which, as usual, started Wol. XXXIX. —IOO.
with the Brookfield pair. The latter, in new frocks, bought abroad, held their chins high and vouchsafed Elizabeth nothing but a nod in passing. It might have hurt had she not known her chance was coming—a chance which came before a week had passed, with the opening of the fall tennis tournament.
CHAPTER XVI ELIZABETH PLAYS MISS WIN THROP
WHEN the entries for the tournament were posted in the school corridor, and Elizabeth Churchill's name led all the rest, the Brookfield girls could hardly believe their eyes. But there was no denying that her name was there, written in her own firm, round handwriting. They called the attention of several other girls to the strange fact, whereupon there followed much giggling. “It will be worth watching; won't it, Jane?” Helen Observed. “Why, she can't play at all; can she, Helen?” “I call it very bold of her even to try,” anSwered Helen. But if they were surprised that Elizabeth was daring enough to enter the contest, their astonish
ment knew no bounds when, after the drawing,
it was found that she was pitted in the preliminaries against no less a player than Miss Winthrop herself, and intended to fight it out. “I heard her say sol” exclaimed Helen to an excited group of eager inquirers. “I was standing close by when Miss Winthrop came up and asked her if she did n’t mean to forfeit the set. And Elizabeth answered, as cool as you please, ‘No, I mean to play it.' Those were her very words; were n't they, Jane?” Jane nodded. “And Miss Winthrop turned as red as a beet, and said she thought Elizabeth might want to save herself the trouble.” “And Elizabeth said, ‘No trouble at all,’” put in Jane. “Just like that,” nodded Helen. trouble at all, Miss Winthrop.’” A chorus of exclamations and giggles greeted this, interrupted by the arrival of Nance at the bulletin board. As the latter saw the result of the drawing, her face grew serious. “What do you think of that, Nance?” demanded Helen. “Of what?” answered Nance. “Why, of Elizabeth Churchill daring to play Miss Winthrop. She refused to forfeit the set, you know.” “I 'd be ashamed of her if she did,” answered Nance, her spirit and her color rising.
“You don't mean to say she has a chance?” exclaimed Helen. “You can tell better after the game,” replied Nance, hurrying away. She found Elizabeth at her desk, reviewing her morning lessons. “It 's hard luck, Beth,” she said in a whisper. “What is?” demanded Elizabeth. “Drawing Miss Winthrop at the start.” “Pooh I don't mind at all,” Elizabeth answered with a smile. “Do you know she wanted me to back out?” “I know. Helen is spreading it all over the School.” “She is, is she?” answered Elizabeth, her lips growing firm. Then she laughed. “All right. Just you wait, Nancel Honestly, I think I can play better against Miss Winthrop than against any one in school. I’ll be fresh and sure of myself, and she 'll be a little over-confident. You see if she is n't. I 'd rather play her than you.. And I'll beat her.” “Good l good s” exclaimed Nance. but the game will be worth seeing !” When Roy heard the news, he came straight over to the little house by the lane. “They tell me you drew Miss Winthrop in the preliminaries, Beth, and that you are going to play her ‘’’ he exclaimed excitedly. “Why not?” asked Elizabeth, with a smile. “My stars, but you ’re game !” he cried delightedly. “Is n’t it what you would do?” she asked. “Every time !” he answered. “I don't believe in being whipped before you are—no matter what the odds. But, Beth, to-day is Monday and the tournament is n’t until Saturday. If you could get in a little practice before then.” “I shall,” she answered coolly. “Nance has promised to come over every afternoon.” “Then you don't want me?” he asked. “Thank you, Roy. It is good of you to offer, but I 've been playing with Nance all summer, you know.” “Yes, I know,” he answered, somewhat crestfallen. “And I really can play better than I did the other day,” she assured him. “I want you to do your best, Beth,” he replied seriously, and as though he did not have much confidence in that statement. “I 'll do that, anyhow,” she answered lightly. “You 'll be at the game?” “Helen Brookfield invited me,” he answered significantly. Elizabeth flushed. “And Wenham and Harden are coming down for over Sunday with me. But, Beth—”
“Yes,” said Elizabeth as he hesitated. “I won't come if you ’d rather I would n't.” “You ’re afraid I may disgrace myself?” He turned away, more embarrassed than he had ever been in his life. Then he faced her again with his hand extended. “No,” he said. “Because I know you 'll do your best, and when a fellow does that, he 's done all he can.” “Then you 'd better come,” she answered with a smile. The day of the tournament turned out to be fair and crisp-ideal weather for playing. The whole school was present, for the stand Elizabeth had taken was the chief topic of discussion throughout the week. The Brookfield girls arrived late, and took positions on the side-lines next to Roy and his two friends; but after the greetings were over, Roy gave his whole attention to the field and forgot the girls. He was decidedly worried. Even admitting that Elizabeth could play better than he had seen her play, even admitting the fighting blood in her which would lead her to play her best, it did n’t seem within the bounds of possibility that she could offset the skill and experience of as clever a player as Miss Winthrop. And, when the latter stepped out on the court, he knew that Elizabeth could expect no mercy. It was certainly plucky of Beth to stick to her determination to play, but also, it seemed to Roy, decidedly foolhardy. For one thing, he knew that, in her first attempt, she would take a beating very much to heart, and it might destroy her confidence for a long time to come. He wished sincerely that she had drawn a less experienced antagonist. When Elizabeth appeared, however, he led the applause, and urged Wenham and Harden to do their best. The crowd, always, if unconsciously, in sympathy with the weaker, took it up, and gave Beth a brave greeting. But if she heard it, she gave no sign. Her face was tense, and her lips tightly closed. She showed no trace of nervousness as she took her position, but it was evident that she was under a strain. Miss Winthrop won the toss, and chose the serve, there being no advantage in either court. She began with a vicious cut that sent the ball off to one side, where it bounded at a sharp angle. It was slower and more baffling than anything Nance served, and bothered Elizabeth. She missed the first three points, which made the score forty love. “Too bad,” muttered Roy. Harden, who had been watching her carefully, heard him. “She 's studying that out,” he said. “I have a notion she 'll master it in a moment.” Elizabeth stepped in a little closer, and nearer the middle of the court, where she could jump either to the right or left, the ball having invariably struck close to the side-lines. This time she returned it without, however, a very close calculation as to direction. Miss Winthrop ran up to the net and volleyed back, but Elizabeth was ready, and sent it along the side-lines for a meat pass. “Good good l’exclaimed Roy, and led a vigorous applause. Miss Winthrop changed her next serve to a swift, straight ball, but this was the kind that Nance had been using largely, so that it was easier for Elizabeth than the cut. As Miss Winthrop ran to the net, Elizabeth lobbed the ball over her head. Miss Winthrop reached it, but, by that time, Elizabeth herself was at the net and turned it one side at a sharp angle, thereby winning her second point. Somewhat nettled, Miss Winthrop returned to her cutting serve, and succeeded in winning her final point and the game. But both Miss Winthrop and the gallery began to realize that this was not to be quite the farce that both had anticipated. When it came Elizabeth's turn to serve, she sent a straight line ball, hitting it with a full-arm swing that gave it great speed. Miss Winthrop was not looking for this. It sped past her before she had even swung for it. On the second ball, she moved farther back, but that time Elizabeth, with the same motion, served one of her easy ones, which barely dropped over the net. Once again Miss Winthrop was taken completely by surprise. Mortified by having been so deceived, she lost her head at the next serve, and, swinging wildly for it, sent it into the net. She did better on the fourth ball, but, with a pretty return, slow and accurate, Elizabeth placed the ball just out of her reach, making the score in games one to One. But this was only the beginning of one of the hardest-fought and most exciting contests that the school ever witnessed. The experience of Miss Winthrop helped her to win the first set, but she was forced to use every trick and every ounce of strength at her command. And when she began the second set, it was like having to begin all over again, for she found her antagonist just as fresh, just as steady, just as determined as at the start. Elizabeth was neither disheartened nor excited. She proceeded to take advantage at once of all she had learned in the first set, correcting the faults she had then made, and forcing Miss Winthrop hardest where she had discovered the latter's weakness. She was
especially successful in teasing her opponent with slow balls. Miss Winthrop could not resist the temptation that they offered to attempt kill shots, and, being accustomed to fast playing, almost invariably made a fault. By the middle of the set, which stood four-two in Elizabeth's favor, the latter resorted almost wholly to this game, returning the balls slowly, but with rare accuracy and judgment, and waiting for Miss Winthrop to beat herself. Roy fathomed Elizabeth's tactics and glanced at Harden. The latter nodded his appreciation. “That 's great head-work,” he said. “And it 's head-work that wins any game !” exclaimed Roy. “Miss Winthrop is getting rattled.” It certainly looked that way, and the fact that she knew that, after all, she was playing with an inferior player, added to her confusion. In the last three games, she went to pieces completely, while Elizabeth, steadily and coolly, took full ad
vantage of her opponent's slightest faults. The
set went to Elizabeth at six-two. Roy could hardly contain himself. “It 's wonderful l’’ he exclaimed. “I don't
understand how she does it !” “I think she has been very lucky,” suggested Helen. “Lucky 1’’ returned Roy, hotly. “There 's no luck in such playing as that ' If there 's anything besides clean tennis, it 's grit !” For the third and final set, Elizabeth once again took her place with no trace either of fatigue or nervousness, while Miss Winthrop looked decidedly worried and a trifle exhausted. She was paying for her wildness with both mental and physical fatigue. But now she went to another extreme and played with such excessive caution as to place her strictly on the defense. Elizabeth, on the other hand, in this third set played more aggressively than she had at any time before. She used more speed and took chances as she had not dared to do before. She kept Miss Winthrop running from one end of the court to the other, until the latter was in utter rout. The set went to Elizabeth at six-two, the last game being a love game. Elizabeth hurried up to Miss Winthrop to shake hands. “I’m glad I won,” she said heartily; “but I'm sorry you lost.” “I did n't expect to lose, but I know I deserved to,” answered Miss Winthrop. Roy, Wenham, and Harden rushed up to Elizabeth with congratulations, with Nance close at their heels. Through eyes shining with joy, Elizabeth thanked them in some way, and then, with Nance's arm about her, sought the club-house. “Beth, you did wonderfully l’exclaimed Nance.
(To be continued.)
THERE was once a prince whose robes and mantle were always of gorgeous, scarlet silks. Upon his head he wore a crown of rubies, and his golden belt and sword-hilt flashed with the same splendid, red stones. He rode a milk-white horse, and could be seen miles away, a shining spot of red and white. But when the people of his father's kingdom saw him coming, they ran into their houses, or hid behind trees; and as he rode proudly up to the palace, no one cheered him, not even the small boys. Even his father, the king, was afraid of him, and his sisters, who were little girls, hid beneath the table rather than speak to him. For this Prince Scarlet, as he was called, was mean and cruel; his eyes were narrow and sly, and his voice harsh and loud. The king knew that he was growing old, and that soon this son would be king in his place. That thought worried him a great deal, for he knew what a wicked ruler the prince would make. So the old king sent for the forest fairies, who had always been his friends, begging them to come and advise him in his trouble. In answer to his summons, they all flew in at the palace window one bright morning; and when they had folded their rainbow wings, and settled
2 Mary Stewart
in a circle around the king, they looked very serious. They knew why they were needed, and the night before, in the forest, they had discussed the problem by the light of a full moon. There they had come to one decision: before Prince Scarlet became king, he must be taught how to behave in a kingly fashion. The king agreed to this. “But how?” he asked sorrowfully; “how can such a cruel man be taught?” And the fairies answered together, “He must become the bird he is most like.” “What is that?” questioned the king, and the chorus of fairies answered: “A crow !” “I do not see how that will teach him anything,” moaned the king. But the fairies promised that if the prince were left entirely in their hands, they would teach him to wish to be kind; and the king promised. When the prince awoke the next morning and looked for his scarlet clothes, they were gone. In their place lay a mantle of black feathers. Angry and puzzled, he kicked it aside, but immediately it sprang up, and folded itself around him. He became an ugly crow, and crying, “Cawl Cawl" flew right out of the palace window to the forest beyond. He was furious; but anger was of no use.