Miss Walters took the girls into her
office, looked up the cards she had made out for them-for
of course their names had been sent in some time before
as prospective students at Three Towers Hall-and
then called in another teacher, Miss Ada Dill, who
had part charge of the dormitories.
Miss Dill was tall and thin with sharp
black eyes and white hair drawn severely back from
her forehead. She smiled when Miss Walters introduced
her to the girls, but her smile reminded Billie of
the smile on the face of a Chinese idol which she
and her chums had come upon among the antiques of
the old homestead at Cherry Corners. It was merely
a crack in her face and the beady black eyes remained
“Miss Dill,” Miss Walters
told the girls, “will show you your places in
the dormitories and will give you the hours for meals
and such other information as you will need at first.
Lunch will be served in half an hour, and after that
you may have the rest of the day to yourselves to
become acquainted with Three Towers Hall.”
Then she dismissed them, and Billie
and the other new arrivals found themselves following
the stiff back of Miss Dill through the corridor and
up a broad flight of steps.
They met several girls on their way
to the dormitory, and the latter looked at them curiously.
The girls learned a little later that these students
had spent the summer at Three Towers, although most
of the girls had gone home to relatives and friends
and would not be back until the next day.
It was a rule at Three Towers Hall
that the new students should report the day before
the year formally opened for the purpose of becoming
acquainted with the rules and regulations of the school.
“Wasn’t that a pretty
girl?” Vi whispered to Billie, as Miss Ada Dill
opened the dormitory door and a lovely girl with very
pink cheeks and very black hair stopped for a word
with the teacher and then hurried past the girls on
her way downstairs. “I wonder who she is.”
“If she’s as nice as she
is pretty,” Billie whispered back, “she’ll
be all right.”
Then they stepped into the long, many-windowed
room and looked about them curiously. There were
beds, beds, beds and more beds. Everywhere the
girls looked they seemed to see nothing but beds.
As a matter of fact there were only ten of them, but
the girls could have sworn there were at least twice
“We can put five of you girls
in here,” Miss Dill said in a crisp, dry tone,
almost as if she resented having to say it at all.
“Are there any of you who would particularly
like to be together?”
Of course Billie spoke up for herself
and Laura and Vi, and after regarding her severely
through her glasses for a moment, Miss Dill finally
assigned three beds at the further end of the room
to the chums.
“Then there is room for two
more,” Miss Dill said, and to the horror of
the chums Amanda Peabody came forward, holding Eliza
Dilks by the hand.
Laura uttered a little exclamation
and seemed about to protest when Billie pinched her
arm and made her say “ouch” instead.
“There’s no use in saying
anything,” Billie whispered fiercely. “It
wouldn’t do any good, and we’d only make
more of an enemy of that-those girls.”
They were relieved a little when they
saw that “those girls” were assigned to
beds half way down the room so there would at least
be a few neutral girls in the beds between.
“So if the rest of you will
come with me,” said Miss Dill, “I will
give you places in the other dormitories.”
Then she and the other girls went
out into the hall, the door was shut, and the chums
were left alone in the big room with Amanda Peabody
and Eliza Dilks.
The girls sank down upon their beds
and looked about them curiously. There was a
little wash basin and a towel rack beside each snowy
white bed and on the towel rack hung several small
towels with blue and white borders.
The beds were set at regular intervals
down the long room, and the spaces in between them
were fitted out in such a manner as almost to make
a separate little room for each girl.
Beside the wash basins, there was
a dresser set at the foot of each white bed and under
each bed was a hamper for soiled clothes. Each
girl had a little table with a chair to match.
The woodwork had been painted white
and the walls were a grayish blue color with several
pretty pictures scattered about them to break the
“Why, the room’s all blue
and white,” Billie suddenly discovered delightedly.
“Isn’t that a lovely blue they’ve
painted the wall? And the snowy white woodwork!
Oh, it’s delicious!”
“And just look at the view from
this window!” cried Vi, beckoning to them eagerly.
As the girls looked over her shoulder they fairly gasped
Below them stretched the velvety lawn
dotted with the darker green of shrubbery, while away
through the trees glimmered and gleamed the water
of Lake Molata. The day was warm for autumn, and
a gentle breeze played among the leaves of the great
trees bordering the lake, coming to the girls in a
soft, rustling whisper. The picture was almost
too perfect to be true.
“And she said,” Billie
murmured at last with a sigh of content, “that
we could have all the afternoon to become acquainted
with Three Towers.”
“Yes,” said Laura, turning
from the window, “but I guess she meant only
the inside of Three Towers. I don’t believe
they will allow us off the grounds so soon.”
At that moment the door opened and
the pretty girl that had passed them in the hall entered
and shut the door softly behind her. In the bright
light of the room she seemed even prettier than she
had in the hall, but there was something about her-Billie
could hardly have told what, perhaps it was the expression
of her mouth-that made Billie instinctively
The strange girl’s eyes rested
on Amanda and Eliza where they sat in their corner,
talking in whispers, and her lips curled disdainfully.
Then she came over to where Billie and her friends
“Hello!” she said with
a quick smile. “You’re the new girls,
I suppose, and we might as well get acquainted right
away. My name is Rose Belser, and I’m from
Brighting,” mentioning a town several miles the
other side of North Bend.
“We’re awfully glad to
know you,” Billie answered, with her own particular
friendly smile. “I’m Beatrice Bradley,
and these are my two chums, Violet Farrington and
Laura Jordon. We’re from North Bend.”
“Glad to know you,” said
Rose Belser with a quick little nod of her black head.
Then she curled herself on the foot of Billie’s
bed and proceeded to make herself at home.
“I’ve been staying here
for the summer,” she told them. “It’s
an awful place to spend the summer, you know.
First time I ever did it, and I never was so lonesome
in my life.”
“Why, I’d love to spend
the summer here,” said Vi, thinking of the beautiful
country they had glimpsed and the lovely lake where
one might row or canoe to his heart’s content.
“The country’s so pretty, and you have
the lake -”
“Oh, the lake!” the girl
interrupted impatiently. “And the country!
I’m tired to death of the lake and the country.
I want to go to the city where you can wear pretty
clothes and go to parties and things.”
“But I should think you could
wear pretty clothes here,” said Billie, wondering.
“And as to parties-I thought you always
could have parties at boarding school -”
“Maybe you can at some boarding
schools,” the girl interrupted again with that
same impatient toss of her head. “But those
schools don’t have Dill Pickles for guardian
The girls looked at her as though
she had gone crazy, and indeed for a moment they thought
she had. But Rose Belser gave a short little laugh
and went on to explain.
“The Dill Pickles are two old-maid
sisters. One of them brought you up here -”
“Miss Dill!” cried Billie,
beginning to see light. “Oh, has she a
“Yes. And the sister is
worse,” said the girl, with a little grimace.
“They are Miss Ada and Miss Cora, and Miss Cora
is the terror of the Hall. If it weren’t
for Miss Walters -But say, you’d
better hurry,” she interrupted herself suddenly
and jumped to her feet. “It’s almost
time for the lunch gong to ring, and if you’re
late for lunch, Miss Cora will be furious. She
has charge of the dining hall, you know. You’d
better wash and straighten your hair. Miss Cora
looks you through with a gimlet eye.”
She ran over to her wash basin, which
happened to be the next one to Billie’s, and
began to wash her hands vigorously.
“Oh, dear, we forgot all about
lunch, and we must be a sight!” cried Vi, pulling
off her hat and excitedly patting her hair. “Girls,
we haven’t any combs-our trunks haven’t
come up yet. Give me a comb, somebody! Oh,
here’s one in my grip.”
“How strange,” mocked
Billie, dashing cold water on her face till it shone
rosily. “It almost seems to me I have one
in mine also.”
“Well, you’d better get
busy and use it,” Violet retorted, drawing her
own comb through her heavy hair, “or you’ll
get in bad the very first day. Oh, dear! there’s
the gong.” She stopped with her comb in
the air and gazed in horror at the girls. As
for Billie and Laura, they stood as if they had suddenly
“If you’d start in time
you’d be ready in time,” said a nasal voice
from the other end of the room, and the girls glanced
around quickly. They had been so absorbed in
their new experience that for a time they had completely
forgotten Amanda and Eliza. But now they turned
just in time to see the two girls leaving the room.
As she shut the door behind her Amanda gave it a defiant
“Say, who’s your friend?”
asked Rose Belser, looking in astonishment at the
closed door. “She’s pleasant, isn’t
“They’re neither of them
friends of ours,” said Billie, jerking her hair
angrily as though she wished it had been Amanda’s
hair instead. “They just happen to come
from the same town, that’s all.”
“Never mind about Amanda, Billie,”
pleaded Violet, looking uneasily at the door.
“We’re late -”
“Oh, don’t worry,”
interrupted Rose, giving a final pat to her black
hair. “That was only the first gong.
The second one rings five minutes later. There
it goes now. Are you ready?”
The girls were ready, and with quickly
beating hearts they stepped out into the corridor.