Chapter XXVI. Dorothy's Courage
 

"Dorothy," said the major, when all the news from Aunt Winnie's had been told and retold to Joe and Roger, "I want you to come to my study after tea. I have something to say to you."

The major was seated in his favorite chair at the open window. Dorothy thought he looked handsomer every day, as his hair became whiter, and now as she came to him for the business talk, she wondered who in all the world could have so loving and so noble a father.

"I had expected to go to Rochester in the morning," he began, as Dorothy dropped to the stool at his feet, "but that dear old meddling doctor says no. I feel well enough--"

"But you are not, daddy dear," interrupted Dorothy. "You have been working too hard, I should not have left you."

"Tut, tut, child, it is you who have been working too hard. I did not realize it until I picked up the loose ends. But we must not play pot and kettle. We must talk business."

Major Dale went across the room and opened his desk. The letter he wanted was at his hand and he glanced at it hurriedly.

"Yes, it is to-morrow morning," he said. "I was to appear in court to identify Anderson."

"They have him then?" Dorothy could not refrain from asking.

"Yes, your man--Squire Travers--refunded him up, so you see he has returned your compliment, he has captured your enemy."

"But how could you identify Anderson? You have never seen him."

"Yes, I had that pleasure once. I saw him with Burlock and I could identify him. Travers did some fine work on the case, walked right over the detectives, and he deserves credit. He will get it too, in the way of a second term as squire, for he has completely broken up the factions--it seems like one party now."

"I am so glad," said Dorothy. "They did have such a hard time of it."

"Yes, but about to-morrow. Do you think Ralph could identify Anderson? Ralph is out of town and I have wired him to be back to-night."

"I don't think he ever saw the man," Dorothy answered thoughtfully. "But I saw him very distinctly. Wouldn't I do?"

"You? Why, child, could you go into a big police court and say: 'There, that's the man;' without fainting from fright?"

"Indeed, I could," declared the girl. "I could do more than that to find Nellie Burlock."

"If I really thought so--"

"But you must know it," said Dorothy, quick to take advantage of the major's hesitation. "If you just give me instructions I will carry them out to the letter. And oh! if we can only give that money to its rightful owner at last."

"Yes, if we only could, I think I would feel like a new man. It has weighed heavily upon me, particularly since that rascal attacked you at the falls."

"I have it!" and Dorothy's eyes flashed in unison with her brain. "Telegraph to Mr. Travers to meet us, and let Tavia and me go. Tavia has an aunt in Rochester, you know, and she will take care of us when we have finished with the other business. Indeed, I can hardly wait."

"I cannot seem to think that you should go," objected the major. "It is a big city, and suppose Travers should fail to meet you?"

"Then I'll meet him," promptly answered Dorothy. "Just give me all the directions and I will find any police station in Rochester. Besides, I'll have Tavia, and she has been there--through the city--often."

"Well, it does seem the only way, for if we fail to identify Anderson he may be released, and I fancy he would never walk into our hands again."

"Now, not another thought, but how we are to go?" and Dorothy drew her chair up to his desk. "Tell me all about it now, so I can have it all settled in my mind to-night. Then to-morrow, all we will have to do is depart. My! we are becoming famous travelers!"

Very late that night Major Dale still sat at his desk. It was a serious matter for him to allow his only daughter to go into a strange city and then to a police court to identify a criminal. But how else could he carry out his sacred obligation to Burlock? How else could he fulfill his duty to the lost child?

And Dorothy too, was troubled that night. Would she really have courage to undertake the trip to a big city and then--?

But she, too, had made a promise, and she, too, felt the voice of the dead father and the voice or the neglected child crying for justice.

Dorothy Dale did not hesitate--she would go.

Next morning Tavia bounced around like a toy balloon. To think of going to Rochester, and into a police court--what could be more delightfully sensational? And perhaps they would have their names in the papers, their pictures, she ventured to suggest. "The two girls from Dalton!" "A striking scene in the police court!" These and other "striking things" she outlined to serious Dorothy, who now in the early morning sat so close to the car window, and seemed to hear nothing of the foolish prattle, as the train rattled on.

"Don't be a funeral, Doro," objected Tavia. "It's the best fun I ever dreamed of. Wait till they call on me to testify! Ahem! Won't I make a stir!"

"But we are not going to testify at all--"

"Same thing. We are to go before a lot of handsome officers, and they will be so careful of our feelings, of course. I hope I blush! It's always so nice to blush in print!"

Whether her nonsense was all frivolity, or somewhat calculated to distract the over serious Dorothy, would have taken an expert in human nature to decide, and there were many other things about Tavia quite as bewildering; but Dorothy was patient, she knew Tavia would not disappoint her when the test came.