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   Chapter 22 CAN IT BE A CLUE

Ruth Fielding At College; or, The Missing Examination Papers By Alice B. Emerson Characters: 5306

Updated: 2017-12-01 00:02


Ruth gave the matter of Maggie's photograph very little thought. Not at that time, at least. She merely handed the print over to Miss Cullam and forgot all about it.

These were busy days, both in the classroom and out of it. The warmth of late spring was in the air; every girl who felt at all the blood coursing in her veins, tried to be out of doors.

The whole college was eager regarding the coming boat races. Ardmore was to try out her first eight-oared crew with three of several colleges, and two of the trials would be held upon Lake Remona.

There were local races between the class crews every Saturday afternoon. Jennie Stone had to choose between basket ball and rowing, for there were Saturdays when both sports were in ascendency.

"No use. I can't be in two places at once," declared Jennie, regretfully resigning from the basketball team.

"No, honey," said Helen. "You're not big enough for that now. A few months ago you might have played basket ball and sent your shadow to pull an oar with us. See what it means to get thin."

"My! I feel like another girl," said the fleshy one ecstatically. "What do you suppose my father will say to me in June?"

"He'll say," suggested Helen, giggling, "'you took so much away, why do you bring so little back from college?'"

It was several days before Miss Cullam returned to Ruth the picture she had borrowed; and when she did she made a statement regarding it that very much astonished the girl of the Red Mill.

"I will tell you now, my dear; why I wished to keep the photograph," the teacher said. "I showed it to Dr. Milroth and to several of the other members of the faculty."

"Indeed?" responded Ruth, quite puzzled.

"Some of them agree with me. Dr. Milroth does not. Nevertheless, I wish you would tell me all about this Maggie who works for your aunt--"

"Maggie!" gasped Ruth. "What do you mean, Miss Cullam? Was it because her face is in the picture that you borrowed it?"

"Yes, my dear. I think, as do some of the other instructors, that Maggie looks very much like the Miss Rolff who last year occupied the room you have and who left us so strangely before the close of the semester."

"Oh, Miss Cullam!"

"Foolish, am I?" laughed the teacher. "Well, I suppose so. You know all about Maggie, do you?"

"No!" gasped Ruth.

Eagerly she explained to the mathematics teacher how the strange girl had appeared at the Red Mill and why she had remained there. Miss Cullam was no less excited than Ruth when she heard these particulars.

"I must tell Dr. Milroth this," Miss Cullam declared. "Say nothing about it, Ruth Fielding. And she says her n

ame is 'Maggie'? Of course! Margaret Rolff. I believe that is who she is."

"But to go out to housework," Ruth said doubtfully.

"That doesn't matter. We must learn more about this Maggie. Say nothing until I have spoken to Dr. Milroth again."

But if this was a clue to the identity and where-abouts of the girl who had left Ardmore so abruptly the year before, Ruth learned something the very next day that, unfortunately, put it quite beyond her ability to discover further details in the matter.

A letter arrived from Aunt Alvirah and after reading it once through Ruth hurried away to Miss Cullam with the surprising news it contained.

Maggie had left the Red Mill. Without any explanation save that she had been sent for and must go, the strange girl had left Aunt Alvirah and Uncle Jabez, and they did not know her destination. Ben, the hired man, had driven her to the Cheslow railway station and she had taken an eastbound train. Otherwise, nothing was known of the strange girl's movements.

"Oh, my dear!" cried Miss Cullam. "I am certain, then, that she is Margaret Rolff. Even Dr. Milroth has come to agree that it may be that strange girl. I hoped there was a chance of learning what really became of those missing examination papers-and, of course, the vase. But how can we discover what became of them if the girl has disappeared again?"

"Well, it's a very strange thing, I am sure," Ruth admitted. "Of course, I'll write the folks at the Red Mill that if Maggie-or whatever her real name is-ever turns up there again, they must let me know at once."

"Yes, do," begged the teacher. "Now that the subject has come up again I feel more disturbed than ever over those papers. Were they lost, or weren't they? My dear Ruth! you don't know how I feel about that mystery. All these girls whom I think so highly of, are still under suspicion."

"I hope nothing like that will happen this year, dear Miss Cullam," Ruth said warmly. "I feel that we freshmen all want to pass our examinations honestly-or not at all."

"That is exactly what I believe about the other girls," groaned the teacher. "But the sorority members admit that Margaret Rolff was instructed to remove the Egyptian vase from the library as a part of the stunt she was expected to do during the initiation ceremonies.

"And in that vase were my papers. Of course, the girls did not know the examination papers were there before the vase was taken. But what became of them afterward?"

"Why, Miss Cullam," Ruth said thoughtfully, "of course they must still be in the vase."

"Perhaps. Then, perhaps not," murmured the teacher. "Who knows?"

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