Read CHAPTER XVII - GOODY TWO-STICKS of Ruth Fielding at Briarwood Hall / Solving the Campus Mystery, free online book, by Alice B. Emerson, on

To tell the truth the young ladies of the West Dormitory who attended Helen’s sub-rosa supper looked pretty blue when the rest of the school filed out of chapel and left them sticking, like limpets, to their seats.  Mrs. Tellingham looked just as stern as Helen imagined she could look, when she ended a whispered conference with Miss Picolet, and stood before the culprits.

“Being out of bed at all hours, and stuffing one’s self with all manner of indigestible viands, is more than a crime against the school rules, young ladies,” she began.  “It is a crime against common sense.  Besides, I take a pride in the fact that Briarwood Hall supplies a sufficient and a well-served table.  Fruit at times between meals is all very well.  But a sour pickle and a piece of angel cake at eleven or twelve o’clock at night would soon break down the digestive faculties of a second Samson.

“However,” she added grimly, “that will bring its own punishment.  I need not trouble myself about this phase of the matter.  But that distinct rules of the school have been broken cannot be ignored.  Each of you who were visitors at the study of Misses Fielding and Cameron last evening after hours will have one demerit to work off by extra exercises in Latin and French.

“Miss Cox!”

She spoke so sharply that The Fox hopped up quickly, knowing that she was especially addressed.

“It is reported to me by Miss Picolet that you spoke to her in a most unladylike manner.  You have two demerits to work off, instead of one.”

Mary Cox ruffled up instantly.  She flounced into her seat and threw her book aside.

“Miss Cox,” repeated the Preceptress, sharply, “I do not like your manner.  Most of these girls are younger than you, and you are their leader.  I believe you are all members of the Up and Doing Club.  Have a care.  Let your club stand for something besides infractions of the rules, I beg.  And, when you deliberately insult the teacher who has charge of your dormitory, you insult me.”

“I suppose I’m to be given no opportunity of answering Miss Picolet’s report, or accusation?” cried Mary Fox.  “I don’t call it fair ­”

“Silence!” exclaimed the Preceptress.  “You may come to me after session this afternoon.  Miss Cameron may work off a full demerit, and before the Christmas Holidays, for being the prime mover in this orgy, I am told about,” said Mrs. Tellingham, bitingly.  “I understand there are some extenuating circumstances in the case of Ruth Fielding.  She will have one-half mark against her record ­to be worked off, of course.  And, young ladies, I hope this will be the last time I shall see you before me for such a matter.  You are relieved for classes.”

Two unexpected things happened to Ruth Fielding that morning.  As they came out from breakfast she came face to face with Mary Cox, and the older girl “cut” her plainly.  She swept by Ruth with her head in the air and without returning the latter’s nod, and although Ruth did not care much about Mary Cox, the unkindness troubled her.  The Fox had such an influence over Helen!

The second surprising happening was the receipt of a letter from Mercy Curtis, the lame girl.  Dr. Davison’s protege wrote: 

“Dear Ruth: 

“Mrs. Kimmons, next door, is trundling her twin babies ­awfully homely little mites ­up and down her long piazza in my wheel-chair.  To what base uses have the mighty fallen!  Do you know what your Uncle Jabez ­Dusty Miller ­has done?  He had waiting for me when I got home from the sanitarium a pair of the loveliest ebony crutches you ever saw ­with silver ferrules!  I use ’em when I go out for a walk.  Fancy old miserable, withered, crippled me going out for a walk!  Of course, it’s really a hobble yet ­I hobble-gobble like a rheumatic goblin; but I may do better some day.  The doctors all say so.

“And now I’m going to surprise you, Ruth Fielding.  I’m coming to see you ­not for a mere ‘how-de-do-good-bye’ visit; but to stay at Briarwood Hall a while.  Dr. Cranfew (he’s the surgeon who helped me so much) is at Lumberton and he says I can try school again.  Public school he doesn’t approve of for me.  I don’t know how they are going to ‘rig’ it for me, Ruth ­such wonderful things happen to me all the time!  But Dr. Davison says I am coming, and when he says a thing is going to happen, it happens.  Like my going to the Red Mill that time.

“And isn’t old Dusty Miller good to me, too?  He stops to see me every Saturday when he is in town.  They miss you a lot at the Red Mill, Ruthie.  I have been out once behind Dr. Davison’s red and white mare, to see Aunt Alviry.  We just gabbled about you all the time.  Your pullets are laying.  Tell Helen ‘Hullo!’ for me.  I expect to see you soon, though ­that is, if arrangements can be made to billet me with somebody who doesn’t mind having a Goody Two-Sticks around.

“Now, good-bye, Ruthie,
  “From your fidgetty friend,

This letter delighted Ruth, and she went in search of Helen to show it to her.  The chums were due at their first recitation in a very few moments.  Ruth found Helen talking with Mary Cox and Belle Tingley on the steps of the building in a recitation room in which Ruth and Helen were soon to recite.  Ruth heard Belle say, earnestly: 

“I believe it, too.  Miss Picolet wasn’t downstairs in her room at all.  When she caught me she came from upstairs, and that’s how I didn’t give any warning.  I didn’t expect her from that direction and I was looking downstairs.”

“She had been warned, all right,” said the Fox, sharply.  “It’s plain enough who played the traitor.  Nasty little cat!”

“I believe you,” said Belle.  “And she only got half a demerit.  They favored her, of course.”

“But why any demerit at all, if she was a spy for Miss Picolet?” demanded Helen, in a worried tone.

“Pshaw! that’s all for a blind,” declared the Fox.

And then all three saw Ruth at the bottom of the steps.  The Fox and Belle Tingley turned away without giving Ruth a second glance, and went into the building.  But Helen smiled frankly on Ruth as her chum approached, and slipped an arm within her own: 

“What have you got there, Ruthie?” she demanded, seeing the open letter.

“It’s from Mercy.  Read it when you get a chance,” Ruth whispered, thrusting it into her chum’s hand as they went in.  “It’s just as you said ­Dr. Davison is going to bring it about.  Mercy Curtis is coming to Briarwood, too.”

Helen said nothing at all about The Fox and her room-mate.  But Ruth saw that the Upedes ­especially those who had been caught in the French teacher’s raid on Duet Number 2 ­whispered a good deal among themselves, and when they looked at Ruth they did not look kindly.

After recitation, and before dinner, several of the girls deliberately cut her as Mary Cox had.  But Helen said nothing, nor would Ruth speak first.  She saw plainly that The Fox had started the cabal against her.  It made Ruth feel very unhappy, but there was nothing she could do to defend herself.