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Title: Peggy Parsons a Hampton Freshman
Author: Sharp, Annabel
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Peggy Parsons a Hampton Freshman" ***

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FRESHMAN ***



                             PEGGY PARSONS
                           A HAMPTON FRESHMAN

                                   BY
                             ANNABEL SHARP

                AUTHOR OF “PEGGY PARSONS AT PREP SCHOOL”

                        M. A. DONOHUE & COMPANY
                            CHICAGO—NEW YORK

              MANUFACTURED IN THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA



Contents


  · CHAPTER I—MAKING AN IMPRESSION

  · CHAPTER II—SUITE 22

  · CHAPTER III—PEGGY’S MASTERPIECE

  · CHAPTER IV—NEW PAINT AND POETRY

  · CHAPTER V—MORNING GLORY

  · CHAPTER VI—AS OTHERS SEE US

  · CHAPTER VII—CINDERELLA

  · CHAPTER VIII—INDIAN SUMMER

  · CHAPTER IX—THE HOUSE DANCE

  · CHAPTER X—TINSEL AND SPANGLES

  · CHAPTER XII—THE AUCTION

  · CHAPTER XIII—FEET OF CLAY

  · CHAPTER XIV—SPRING TERM



                              INTRODUCTION



Last year Peggy Parsons and Katherine Foster were room-mates at Andrews
Preparatory School.

Their escapades and their hunger for good times and adventure kept them
from being great favorites of the principal there, but they were loved
by the girls of the school and were soon invested with a degree of
leadership.

“Peggy Parsons at Prep School,” the first book in this series, tells how
much happiness they managed to crowd into a single year.

A would-be charitable enterprise of Peggy’s is recounted, also. And if
she had never undertaken it, mistaken though she was, she could not have
gone to Hampton, and the present volume would never have been written.

Mr. Huntington, a rich old man, whom people believed to be
poverty-stricken because of the way he lived, became a great friend of
Peggy’s as the result of a Thanksgiving dinner party she arranged for
the cooking-class of her school to give him.

She and Katherine were instrumental, through an adventure in playing
amateur detectives, in finding Mr. Huntington’s grandson, of whom he had
lost track.

The grandson—the “Jim” of the present book—was an Amherst student about
Peggy’s own age.

Katherine Foster had planned to go to Hampton College, but Peggy could
not see her way clear. The room-mates were broken-hearted at the
prospect of not being together for another year. After Katherine had
been assigned another room-mate, Gloria Hazeltine, Peggy gave up hope of
going and could not plan with any interest for any other kind of year.

Mr. Huntington then stepped in and turned over for Peggy’s use the
income from a dear little group of bungalows which he had named “Parsons
Court.”

So Katherine and Peggy were enabled to look forward to college together
just as they had their prep school.



                             PEGGY PARSONS
                           A HAMPTON FRESHMAN



CHAPTER I—MAKING AN IMPRESSION


“Katherine Foster!”

“Peggy Parsons!”

Two suit-cases went banging down on the wooden platform and two radiant
figures hurled themselves into each other’s arms, oblivious of the
shriek of departing trains, the rattling of baggage trucks, and the
jostling crowds who were at liberty to laugh at their impulsiveness.

For this was Springfield, where East meets West on its way to half a
dozen New England colleges, and where every fall the same scenes of
joyous greeting are enacted with the annual accompaniment of little
squeals of delighted welcome and many glad kisses.

“Well, Peggy, you look just the same as ever!”

“It’s been a perfect _century_, Katherine! Going right up to Hampton?
Taking the 9:10? So am I. Oh, so _much_ to talk about——”

Breathlessly chattering all the while, the two girls in blue serge, who
had been room-mates last year at preparatory school, gathered up their
suit-cases again and crossed the tracks to the other side of the station
to wait for the Hampton train. Engines steamed along before and behind
them, but neither looked away from the other’s glowing face during the
crossing, nor did they cease both to talk at once until they were
actually seated in their train some time later, packed in with a mob of
laughing and attractive girls with suit-cases in the aisles, in the
racks over their heads, and in their laps.

“Isn’t it wonderful that we met this way?” cried Katherine, while Peggy
was trying to hand the remaining untraveled bits of their tickets to the
perspiring conductor. “We’ll see our new rooms for the first time
together, and we’ll make a very nice impression on the inhabitants of
Ambler House because we can plan out some kind of grand entry to appeal
to them.”

Peggy laughed. “It’s an awfully _big_ place we’re going to,” she said,
looking about at the swaying crowds of girls. “I’m just beginning to
realize it. It will take more than our planning to make any impression
at all, I think. And maybe nobody will _ever_ notice us. It won’t be
like Andrews.”

“You’re still Peggy Parsons, aren’t you? And I’m still your room-mate,
Katherine Foster. _And_ we’re going to live in one of the grandest
suites on campus—oh, I don’t believe they will pass us by altogether.”
And Katherine gave a little swaggering motion of her head that sent
Peggy into gales of laughter.

“You’re conceited and snobbish, friend room-mate,” she giggled. “The
summer has spoiled you.”

But Katherine smiled back complacently into her eyes.

Suddenly there was a curious stir all about them. The girls who had been
standing in the aisle were all pushing toward the end of the car, and
those seated were struggling up from under their luggage, their faces
bright with anticipation.

“Katherine,” whispered Peggy, “I think we’re there!”

Oh, the world of meaning in that one sentence. The hopes, the
expectations, the pleasures and good times for four whole years were
summed up in it, and Katherine silently nodded her head, unable to
speak.

The brakeman was already calling out something that he meant for
“Hampton,” and he rounded out his shout with the long-drawn wail, “Don’t
leave any articles in the car!”

As if any of those precious and bulky suit-cases could be forgotten! The
stampede began in earnest as soon as the train stopped, and Peggy and
Katherine found themselves swept out to the platform and jostled down
the steps and thrust forward toward the station of their own college
town.

The girls from the train rushed this way and that, and other girls from
the college rushed to meet them. Katherine spied a taxi that had still
two vacant seats.

“Come, taxi,—quick,” she gasped in Peggy’s ear. And the two went running
forward, their suit-cases bumping and thumping against their knees.
Before they reached the machine they saw that they were racing with a
mob of other girls, all frankly eager to be the first to secure places
in the last cab with a vacancy.

In every direction other taxis were whirring off, filled to overflowing
with girls and bags, and here and there the rumble of hoofs mixed in, as
a pair of horses drawing an old-fashioned cab likewise laden dashed off.

Peggy and Katherine were panting. It had become a very exciting race. A
taller girl, with a lighter suit-case, sprinted ahead of them and
reached the taxi first. But she stopped to ask the driver his price, and
while she was doing so Katherine and Peggy piled in.

The taller girl turned to take her rightful place and saw two hot and
beaming young ladies in the exact corner she had run so hard to claim.

She stepped back with a chagrined laugh, and Peggy and Katherine laughed
too, with the utmost good nature, now that they had attained what they
sought. They heard the other two occupants of their car murmuring the
names of college houses to the chauffeur, and with a thrill of pride
Peggy said, “Ambler House.”

“And you, miss?” the driver asked Katherine.

“Why, Ambler House, too, of course,” she said, and then blushed scarlet
for fear the other girls would think her an idiot, for at the moment it
had indeed seemed to her that even a taxi-cab driver ought to know that
she was going to live in college wherever Peggy was.

The quaint, prim streets of the New England town were nothing but so
much colored confusion to the eyes of the four in the cab. Each one had
a consciousness that this perhaps was the height of life: that they
would never touch anything better than this again. Riding along thus,
packed tight in a taxi, through Hampton, to college for the first time.

They felt as if all previous experiences were washed away—and all future
ones unknown and unguessed at. Everything was before them—the glory of
being young singing in their hearts and going to their heads like
wine—what wonder that they felt life had been made just for them and was
already beginning to yield its fruits into their eager hands!

The cab went grating up a hill, and in a moment there was a bright
stretch of green before them, with any number of red brick buildings on
it, some of them covered with ivy. Hampton College was spread before
their gaze without any warning to prepare them. But each girl knew, as
if she had seen it often, that this was really College.

Katherine and Peggy craned their necks quite frankly out of the window,
and when they drew their heads in, the other girls followed their
example shamelessly.

“It looks—nice,” ventured Peggy, with a long sigh of satisfaction.

“It looks just—the way I thought it would,” answered one of the
strangers, and then gave a little embarrassed laugh because her voice
had sounded so thrilled.

The taxi made a sharp turn, and they were actually inside the sacred
precincts of Campus—there on each side were the rows of college houses,
and in the distance was a magnificent structure of stone. The morning
sun shone over it all. A sense of homelikeness and a strange comfortable
feeling of love for it came, even at this first view, into their hearts.

“We are to live in one of these houses,” Peggy rapturously reminded
Katherine. “In a moment the taxi will stop and it will be _our_ house.
Katherine, pinch my arm. It all seems so queerly familiar, maybe I’m
just dreaming it after all.”

But the taxi did stop in a minute or two, and the driver was opening the
door and saying “Ambler House” in a matter-of-fact tone. The two other
girls nodded good-bye to Peggy and Katherine. Katherine stepped down and
was handed her bag. Peggy was conscious that the long porch of the brick
house before which they had drawn up was filled with girls interestedly
watching for freshman newcomers. She thought of their plan to make a
good initial impression, and descended as gracefully as might be, with a
charming little smile of eagerness and anticipation that was not assumed
at all.

The driver was lifting down her heavy suit-case. And then quite
unexpectedly came the fall that follows pride. Only, while the pride had
been Peggy’s, the fall was her suit-case’s.

Thump! Thud! it went smashing down to the ground, and its bulging sides
flew apart, and hair-brushes, mirrors, nightgown, kimono, and powder
boxes and tooth paste all shot out in every direction and rolled
ignominiously about on the campus lawn, in full view of the crowded
porch of Ambler House.

Peggy’s crimson ears caught shrieks of laughter, her tear-filled eyes
saw girlish figures doubling up in mirth—and under her feet and round
about, the ground was white with powder, redolent with oozing perfume
and strewn with her most intimate belongings.

There was something about it all that had the awful publicity of a
nightmare. Such things couldn’t really happen. Oh, if she could only
melt away—or wake up or even crawl back into the taxi and hide.

“Shall I help you pick the things up?”

“I’m afraid this powder can never be scraped up again. I’ve put some
back into the box, but there’s quite a bit of grass and gravel mixed
with it.”

She was completely surrounded by helpful girls, who had flown out from
the porch, their laughter still on their lips, and were now kneeling and
stooping everywhere about the scene of the catastrophe.

“Your clean shirtwaist,” cried one of these helpers sympathetically, as
she pulled a fragile bit of dimity and Cluny lace from under the
taxi-cab where it had fluttered. “It won’t be good for very much now
until it’s laundered.”

Into the suit-case the things were tumbled with despatch but not
neatness. The taxi driver was contrite, but he did not offer to touch
any of the scattered feminine luggage and insisted quite audibly that
there had been “too many things in there anyway.”

Katherine paid him, eying him reproachfully, and he chugged away,
leaving the two heart-broken freshmen greatly discomfited by the mishap.

Thus it was that the two girls who had hoped to make so attractive an
impression slunk into Ambler House with a straggling procession of merry
followers behind them carrying odds and ends that refused to be crammed
back into the damaged suit-case. And thus it came about also that they
looked about Suite 22 with blind eyes and failed to realize that it was
one of “the grandest suites on Campus” and overlooked Paradise.

Peggy sat down in a little heap on the window seat in their living-room
and didn’t even appreciate that it _was_ a window seat, and one of very,
very few at college.

“I’m glad it—didn’t happen in Springfield,” was the first thing Peggy
said.

“Ye-es,” admitted Katherine, standing uncertainly in the middle of the
room. And then she added irrelevantly: “I think there are awfully nice
girls in this house.”

Peggy buried her little burning face in the upholstery of the window
seat. “Do—you?” she asked in muffled tones. “I didn’t dare look at
them.”

“I thought they seemed a very—_jolly_ set,” pursued Katherine
tentatively.

She was rewarded by a rueful chuckle from the figure on the window seat.

“And anyway,” Katherine followed up her advantage, “they _did notice_
us,—more than they do most freshmen. Paid rather particular attention,
in fact.”

That was too much for happy-go-lucky little Peggy and she laughed until
she shook, even while the contradictory tears ran forth from her swollen
eyes and trickled through her fingers onto the green leather
seat-cushion.

“I—I’ll—never go down to luncheon, Kathie,” she protested between a
laugh and a sob. “I’ll never go outside this room again. I can’t
possibly bear to look them in the face.”

Rap-tap-tap!

Katherine whirled toward the door and Peggy sat up.

Rap-tap-_tap_! It was more insistent this time, and the knob of the door
turned even as Peggy called out a none too cordial “Come” that broke
pathetically in the middle.

A dark-haired girl entered impetuously, a sparkle in her friendly eyes.
Peggy remembered her with an inward qualm as one of the most
appreciative spectators on the porch a few moments ago.

“Aren’t you folks _crazy_ about your rooms? Have you seen the view over
Paradise? It’s wonderful. I’ve been wondering who would have these. I
live right across the hall—and I—I——”

Those sparkling eyes fairly danced now, and Peggy became aware of a tiny
package being thrust forward by the pretty visitor.

“I saw yours was trampled, so I brought you some tooth-paste!” finished
the girl, to their amazement.

She had scarcely left them, swinging mentally between indignation and
bewildered gratitude, when a pair of girls came unceremoniously in upon
them without knocking at all, and stood hesitating before them, arms
entwined about each other and holding something half out of sight.

“I always think it’s a ghastly thing to be without powder,” one of them
finally mustered the courage to say, “and I came away with two boxes.
It’s rice powder, flesh tint,—I hope you like that as well as white; and
I brought you some—and a chamois. Yours was muddy. I picked it up, but I
parted with it again. I knew you wouldn’t possibly want it,—it couldn’t
make your face anything but _black_.”

“And here’s a—waist.” The other was speaking now. “I thought you might
be—traveling light, and—since nobody’s trunks have come, please wear
this down to luncheon. It’s my _best_ one, so I won’t deprecate it at
all. I think it’s a darling, and if you’ll give it its first wearing,
I’ll be only too happy.”

Katherine glanced across at Peggy and smiled. Her room-mate was wiping
away the last gleam of moisture from her eyes, and the inner sunlight of
her spirit was beginning to shine through the gloom.

She rose and went toward the girls, but they laid their offerings on a
chair and withdrew. While Peggy was looking after them appreciatively,
another stranger entered on a similar mission.

For fifteen minutes, while Peggy and Katherine were making themselves
presentable for luncheon, the gift-bearers kept coming, leaving their
present on the dressing-table in the bedroom or the window seat in the
living-room, sometimes saying nothing at all, and sometimes a great
deal.

“You won’t mind going down now?” Katherine asked.

“N-not so much,” admitted Peggy, putting dabs of perfume out of various
bottles here and there on her cheered-up countenance, on her fluffy
gold-brown hair, and on the new waist, contributed.

For at least six girls had brought perfume and loyal Peggy meant to have
one represented just as truly as another, so she followed this neutral
course of using all,—with a resulting odor that was anything but
neutral.

As she went into the big dining-room, each giver could distinctly
discern the pervading sweetness of her own scent bottle and was
satisfied.

It seemed to Peggy that every face was lifted and turned toward her as
she and Katherine came in. There was a temptation to walk with lowered
eyes, and sink into the seat the head waitress might indicate, without
meeting a single person’s gaze.

But casting this desire aside, she went in bravely, her eyes taking in
the whole room. And every girl smiled back at her with the very essence
of friendship and proprietorship, for there was hardly a girl in the
room who had not contributed something that the radiant freshman was
even then wearing, or had just made use of.

So Peggy did not have to wait until the others in her house had learned
to love her, but she was taken from the first day into their hearts. And
she felt the warmth of their love around her even while she went through
so prosaic a ceremony as the partaking of a meager college luncheon.



CHAPTER II—SUITE 22


It was right in the middle of Freshman Rains.

The faces of the new girls appeared white and mournful, pressed against
the dormitory windows, or flushed and laughing from between rubber
helmets and slickers out on the campus, according to their dispositions.

Up and down the second floor corridor of Ambler House trooped the usual
forenoon procession, umbrella tips clicking on the polished boards:
those who were going out to classes making a flapping sound with their
rubber garments, those returning giving out a sloshing noise that
advertised the weather outside in an unfavorable manner.

Before several of the doors wet umbrellas were open on the floor to dry,
while tiny rivulets trickled steadily from the steel prongs. They looked
like big black bats which had flown in to seek shelter from the outer
torrents and might be expected to take wing again at any minute.

It was not a hilarious atmosphere at best, but, to add to its dripping
depression, two wails of a most long-drawn and lugubrious sort began to
be wafted down the length of the hall over the tops of the wet
umbrellas, drifting in heart-brokenly through the students’ doors, and
dying away in receding cadences whenever a disconsolate head lifted
itself from a cushion to listen or a helmet strap was shoved back from a
surprised and inquisitive ear.

“M—MMm-MO-O-Oh,” went the wail, and then “Moo-oo-oo,” with a pastoral
significance that was particularly mystifying.

No use for any girl to tell herself that this was the wind howling—or
the rain dejectedly descending on a tin roof—for no wind ever howled so
precisely up and down scales with such sobbingly human and barnyard
notes, and no rain was ever known to be so surprisingly vocal, nor so
loud and threatening one moment and so tremulously broken and far away
the next.

“Go! Gug-gug-go! Gug-gug-GO-go-go!” screamed the dual wail, apparently
expressive of the utmost suffering, and yet, through it all, maintaining
a baffling rhythmical quality and a monotony of utterance that sent a
shuddering wonder in its wake as it coursed down the hall.

But during such a disheartening season as Freshman Rains the spirit of
investigation is not keen, and the residents on the second floor
preferred to distract their attention by lessons that must be learned or
by long and rambling letters home that ended with vague hints that
somebody in their house was being killed down the hall.

It was not until the voices broke out into wild and mirthless laughter
that their apathetic spirits were aroused to protest.

“Goodness, girls, what’s that awful noise?” an indignant brown head
poked itself out from one of the umbrella-guarded doors and sent its
peevish remonstrance down the corridor. In an instant every door framed
a face—or two faces—and a babble of questions was echoed back and forth.

But triumphantly right through the shrill notes of their eager queries
rang the weird and displeasing sound that had so disturbed them.

“Ha-HA! Ho-HO! He-HEE! Haw-HAW!”

“It’s too much!” averred the girl who had spoken first. “_Where_ is that
sound being made? And _what_ is it? Seems to me as if it were from Suite
22—do you think somebody is torturing those freshmen?” It was just what
everybody did think, but they dreaded the admission. “Let’s go in
there,” the girl continued, “and—and find out.” She ended rather weakly,
shrinking before the task of investigating so unearthly a sound as that.

The girls were flocking forth, some still in their damp slickers, the
rain glistening on them; others all immaculate just as they were ready
to start out to recitations: and still a lazy third contingent, who had
not yet had any classes or who were wantonly cutting them, as sweet as
flowers in Japanese silk kimonos and little pattering slippers.

Together they made the charge on Door 22.

Crowding in at the breach as it swung open, they gasped in sudden
bewilderment at the sight that met their eyes.

Standing rigidly side by side like two soldiers on parade, but with
their hands solemnly placed upon their diaphragms while they emitted
simultaneously the weird noises that had alarmed the house, were Peggy
Parsons and Katherine Foster, the idols of Ambler House!

Their eyes widened at the wholesale intrusion and their hands fell
limply to their sides, and then, as the indignant chorus broke out
around them, they looked at each other in crimson confusion and burst
out laughing.

“Why—c-could you h-h-hear us, g-girls?” cried Katherine incoherently
through her shaking spasms of mirth.

“Hear you?” echoed Hazel Pilcher, who had led the charge upon them.
“Hear? Well, my _dears_, did you think you were exactly whispering? I
never listened to so awful a concert in my life. It’s a wonder I didn’t
call the house-matron. Oh, you incorrigible youngsters, what in the
world was it?”

Peggy’s face assumed an aggrieved expression immediately.

“It was only our lesson,” she responded somewhat sulkily.

“Lesson! My goodness, what are they giving the freshmen now that their
lessons turn out to be imitations of a menagerie? Why, when I was a
freshman”—(with a very superior air, for Hazel Pilcher was now enjoying
all the glory of a sophomore’s exalted position)—“we had Latin and
French and math and history, but I never heard of a course in ghostly
noises. I’m sure that in my year they at least spared us that.”

“Just the samey that was our lesson,” Peggy persisted, “that was our
practice work for to-morrow’s yell.”

“Do you mean——?” Hazel began to understand, for one cannot be a
sophomore without knowing most of the abbreviations in which college
terminology abounds.

“Elocution, if we have to simplify it,” said Peggy. “I suppose you girls
didn’t take that course. Well, Katherine and I are just—taking it for
all it’s worth. I guess we want to learn to speak correctly and place
our voices right from the diaphragm and make full and open tones——”

“Spare muh!” interposed a senior who was known to be already practicing
up for dramatics. “I hear nothing but that sort of thing all day long
these days. I might have guessed what your vocal gymnastics meant—but
they were so particularly horrible——”

“Well, the worse they sound the better they are,” murmured Peggy,
deprecatingly. “And I thought myself we did it rather well.”

Elocution, or, as the girls called it with enthusiasm, yellocution or
yell, was an elective course that entailed no studying, but a vast deal
of labor along a different line. The victims who were beguiled into
taking it, thinking to gain an easy course minus mental effort, that
would count nevertheless a perfectly good two hours a week for their
degree, were often mere tearful wrecks after the first few days when
they were stood up before an enormous, gaping class and put through test
after test to the running accompaniment of wounding comment on their
enunciation, their manner, their throats, their gestures—everything.

They became acquainted for the first time with all the distressful
mystery of larynxes and pharynxes—which most of them had always supposed
were the names of diseases—they learned about diaphragms, too, and were
forced to breathe in different ways and shout and cry “Ha-ha,” all the
time feeling for the muscular hammer stroke at their waist lines. It was
so embarrassing to Peggy at first that she couldn’t make any sound at
all when they told her to say “Ha-ha,” and it was only after three
attempts that she managed a faint and disheartened squeak.

“Your voice is little and thin,” criticised the teacher sharply. “I
shall give you exercises to round it out.”

And that’s what she had done, and these were what Peggy and her faithful
room-mate were practicing at the moment of the inrush of visitors.

She explained to her guests how little and thin her voice was, but they
laughed scornfully and said if she had any more of a one, they’d see
that she was put off campus, that, as far as they were concerned, they
believed she had the biggest and the fattest voice on record, which
seemed to restore Peggy’s self-respect in a way marvelous to behold.

“A person can be happy,” she assured them conversationally, “just so
long as she doesn’t know anything about herself—how she talks, how she
looks or how she impresses other people. But the minute you get her
conscious of all these larynx-pharynx-diaphragm machines inside her
she’ll never know another happy minute until she conquers them all and
can speak just like a Nazimova with ’em. Though Nazimova is rather
sobby, I’m told—maybe I’d better train myself up after Blanche Ring
instead.”

“Peggy,” Katherine put in at this point questioningly, “don’t you think
we might set the water over and give the girls some tea?”

At this delightful prospect many of the girls—especially the little lazy
kimonoed ones—sat right down wherever they happened to be, in a chair or
on the floor, with such looks of blissful anticipation on their faces
that they were a pleasant sight. It wasn’t often tea was served in the
middle of a rainy forenoon and the two Andrews freshmen were already so
practiced in little parties before they came to college, that even a cup
of tea served by them had a grace and an added interest, that it could
not have possessed in the rooms of girls who were just tasting their
first bit of life away from home.

Peggy looked in some consternation at the comfortable crowd with its
expectant and gleeful expression, and demurred slowly.

“I just _have_ to train my voice,” she said, “but I suppose, even with
them here, I can go right on?”

A groan greeted this proposal that was anything but complimentary.

Peggy looked hurt. “Oh, you just wait,” she said vindictively, but with
a laugh struggling for utterance at the same time. “Some day you’ll pay
to hear me—see if you won’t—and I mean to work at it right along all
through four years and then—and—then——” her voice grew dreamy and her
eyes stared off into a heavenly future, “and then maybe I can be in the
mob at senior dramatics!”

The senior of the party laughed at the pretty compliment, for she
herself was only in the mob, and her classmates didn’t think she had
such a marvelous success either—so it was pleasant to have the adoration
of a popular freshman.

“I’m sure you will be,” she said graciously, “and with one accord we all
accept the future mob member’s invitation to tea.” And she sat down with
the rest and waited patiently.

With a sigh, Peggy lit the little alcohol lamp under the tea kettle and
Katherine dived mysteriously under the desk to emerge a moment later
with something that sent a general shout of approval through the entire
group.

“A box! A box!” they cried, “Katherine has a box from home!”

Nothing else in life possesses quite the wonder and the satisfying
delight of a real box from home. If the parents at home only knew of the
wide-eyed envy of all the girls as they cluster around one of these
brighteners of college existence as it is being opened, there would be a
continuous procession of expressmen tramping in at the back door of all
the college houses, week in and week out, and every single closet shelf
would hold its quota of jam jars, home-made cookies, and fine large
grape-fruit so that the same glow of satisfaction and sense of being
loved would abide in each girl’s heart all the time.

The tea ball was being daintily dipped in and out of the steaming cups,
the cold chicken was being eagerly passed down the line of girls, when
the door of suite 22 opened again and a confused and blushing stranger,
tall, with wonderful reddish hair and baby-blue eyes, stepped inside and
asked in a voice that was so full of fright that it would never have
passed in that elocution class of Peggy’s, if this was Miss Katherine
Foster’s room.

“I’m trying to find Miss Foster,” the scared voice went on, “because I
was to have roomed with her this year. I’m Gloria——”

With a single bound, the impulsive Peggy had reached the beautiful
stranger and had thrown her arms around her neck. It was all her fault,
she was thinking, all her fault that this nice, nice girl had been
deprived of the finest room-mate on campus, for while Peggy and
Katherine were at Andrews Preparatory School, Peggy had not known that
she herself could go to college until the last minute, and Katherine had
already been assigned another room-mate. When Peggy had been given the
money to come, however, by old Mr. Huntington, her friend, Katherine had
written to Gloria Hazeltine—who stood before them now—and had explained
that she just must room with her own Peggy, and would Gloria mind and
she could easily find somebody else.

Neither of the girls had seen Gloria before, but at this first glimpse
of her, Peggy’s heart was warm with a sense of wanting to make up to her
for having taken her place, and hence the smothering arms she wrapped so
quickly around the newcomer’s neck.

All the embarrassment of the new guest fled at this surprisingly eager
reception. She drew back from Peggy’s arms and smiled happily down into
her face.

“Oh, oh,” she cried, “I wish more than ever that you were my room-mate!
Which is Peggy Parsons that has taken you away from me?”

Peggy at once saw the other’s mistake and flushed. “I’m the guilty
party,” she admitted. “I’m Peggy. But I want you please to like me a
little—anyway. And now——” suddenly changing to a business-like tone of
hospitality, “sit right down and have some tea. Girls, this is Morning
Glory, Katherine’s and my best friend. You don’t mind my calling you
that?” she inquired anxiously. “That’s the way Katherine and I spoke of
you to ourselves and you—your looks bear it out so well,” she faltered.

Gloria, very much taken into the Ambler House set, and already being
plied with tea and wonderful beaten biscuit, didn’t mind anything, and
in a few minutes the whole room seemed to glow with a pervading
happiness and content that took no account of the gloomy weather
outside, and for this season at least the bugaboo ghost of the Freshman
Rains was laid.



CHAPTER III—PEGGY’S MASTERPIECE


Peggy was bending absorbedly over her desk one evening biting her pen
and then writing a bit and now and then crossing out part of what she
had written, all with a kind of seraphic smile that puzzled Katherine
more and more until she finally just had to speak about it.

“What are you doing, room-mate?” she demanded; “that look is so—so
awfully unlike your usual expression.”

“Hush,” said Peggy, glancing up and waving her pen solemnly toward the
other. “It’s a poet’s look.”

“A——? Peggy Parsons, you’re rooming with me under false pretenses. If
you’re going to turn into a genius I’m going home. You know I perfectly
hate geniuses and there are so many funny ones around college. I always
thought that at least you——” her tone was scathing and beseeching at the
same time, “at least you were immune.”

“Maybe I am,” said Peggy speculatively. “What is it?”

“What’s what?”

“Immune. Could a person be it without knowing it, do you suppose?”

Katherine had thrown herself across the room and had kissed Peggy
fervently and repentantly at this remark. “Oh, I take it all back,
Peggy,” she cried, “you’re not a genius. They always understand every
word in the dictionary and you are—you are just a dear little dunce,
after all!”

“Well, I like that!” exclaimed the injured young poet. “Let me read you
this, Katherine,” she continued with shining eyes, “and then you’ll
see—oh, Katherinekins, Katherinekins, what a bright room-mate you have,
and how proud you’ll be of me to-morrow when Miss Tillotson reads this
out in English 13.”

Katherine glanced toward the inky manuscript suspiciously.

“Is it very long?” she inquired.

Peggy only shot her a reproachful glance and began to read in a sweet,
thrilly voice, that already showed the effects of strenuous elocution
training and would have made the veriest nonsense in the world seem
beautiful by reason of its triumphant youth and its perfect conviction.

    “Dreams that are dear—of night—of day—
    All I could think or hope or plan:
    Naught is so sweet in that dream world’s sway
    As this wonderful hour of the Present’s span.

There was a silence in the room when she had finished, and Peggy folded
her manuscript up tenderly and laid it away on her desk with an air that
was little short of reverent.

“How did you do it?” breathed Katherine, carried away by the magic of
the voice rather than by any clear idea of what the voice had read. But
she had a great deal of faith in Peggy, and anything she would read like
that must be very fine. So Katherine passed her judgment on it
immediately.

“Do you like it?” Peggy pleaded, “oh, do you? Oh, I’m so glad. It’s—it’s
just a piece of my soul, Katherine.”

Katherine accompanied her room-mate to English 13 next day with a
pleasant sense of exhilaration in her heart, for wasn’t this the day
Peggy was to be praised before them all—freshmen, sophomores, juniors
and seniors alike—for her wonderful poem?

There was a little stir and flutter through Recitation room 27 as the
bright-eyed young literary lights of the college trooped in.

English 13 had to be held in the largest recitation room on campus, for
it was the one class that everybody would rather go to than not. It was
purely elective with a number of divisions and you could walk by and
decide whether or not you wanted to go in—and you always decided to go
in.

Grey sweaters over the backs of chairs, a blur of black furs, youthful
heads with hair all done alike, lolling arms along the chair-tops, slim
white hands toying with pencils or sweater buttons—a gigantic, lazy,
comfortable, enjoying-life sort of a class when you came in from the
back of the room, but as you went down toward the front and glanced
back, there was a light of eager anticipation shining in every face, a
universal expression of intelligent interest such as it is the fortune
of few college professors, alas, to behold in this world.

Peggy and Katherine had dropped the wonderful poem in the 13 box outside
the door—it being written on pale-blue paper so that Peggy would
recognize it at once in the bundle that would soon be brought in, in
Miss Tillotson’s arms.

They sat as near the front as they could get, and that queer,
unaccountable, crimson uneasiness that affects authors when their work
is about to be read in public—part pleasurable but mostly agony—swept
Peggy in a miserable flood and she sat deaf, dumb and blind to all that
was going on around her until she heard the bell strike that announced
the opening of class.

Miss Tillotson at this minute came in, her arms full of manuscript, as
usual, her glance moving lightly over the rustling audience of girls,
who were beginning to sit up straight with that eager interest flaming.
Miss Tillotson was always sure of a response. From the moment she
fingered the first manuscript and began to read in her wonderful voice
that made the good things seem so much better than they were and the bad
things so much worse, every pause she made, every raised-eye-brow query,
every slight little twist of amused smile was received with a collective
long-drawn breath, a murmur of appreciation or a small, sudden sweeping
storm of laughter that convulsed the entire giant class at once, only to
drop away suddenly to still attention as her voice again picked up the
thread of narrative or resumed the verse.

It is a pity but true that Peggy heard absolutely nothing of her adored
13 to-day until her own blue-folded poem was lifted up. She had gone
through a hundred different emotions in the few minutes that she had
already spent in this classroom. Every time Miss Tillotson’s fingers
lingered near her manuscript in selecting what next to read, a shiver of
despair went up and down her spine. Oh, why had she done such a thing?
She, only a freshman, to have had the effrontery to write a poem when
all these upper-classmen—and even the Monthly board members—were in the
class—and had written such wonderful things! Of course there was the
approval of Katherine by which she had set so much store a short few
hours ago. But—she glanced at Katherine now sitting so tranquilly beside
her. Katherine was only a freshman herself! What did her approval mean?
She hated herself for the disloyalty of the thought, but still she could
not help wishing that she had never shown the poem to Katherine and then
she could make out it was some one else’s and not have to suffer the
awful humiliation——

Miss Tillotson was reading! Oh, it had actually come—this horrible
calamity! Nothing could happen to save her now. Her poor little blue
poem was being read out to all these wonderful girls of Hampton and she
could not prevent it. Drowning, drowning in a sea of confusion, there
drifted hazily through Peggy’s mind a pathetic story she had once read
in a newspaper about a man whose ship was sinking and who had put a note
in a bottle, “All hope gone. Good-bye forever.”

When the smooth voice of Miss Tillotson stopped there was a slight
rustle over the class, and then with one accord the girls burst out into
a laugh.

It was the merest ripple of enjoying titter, but in Peggy’s crimson ears
it roared and echoed until the mocking sound of it was the one thing in
the world. She lifted her swimming eyes and kept them on Miss
Tillotson’s face and even achieved a somewhat ghastly smile on her own
account, believing, poor child, that she could thus keep secret the
awful fact of her identity as the writer of that “thing”—the poem had
already descended to this title in her mind—and that neither Miss
Tillotson nor the girls need ever know.

“If all that the writer could ‘think or hope or plan’ is expressed in
this particular—flight,” smiled Miss Tillotson, with that dear little
quirk to her mouth that Peggy had loved so many times but which hurt
now, oh, beyond words to tell, “I should think that dream world of hers
would resemble a nightmare.”

Another gale of laughter swept the class, fluffy heads leaned back
against the chairs in abandon and shirt-waisted shoulders shook.

Peggy felt that if Katherine looked at her or ventured a pat of sympathy
she would die. But Katherine, when Peggy’s miserable glance sought her
face, was gazing interestedly around the room from literary light to
literary light as if to determine which could have been guilty of the
blue manuscript. It certainly was a brilliant way to ward off detection
from her room-mate and Peggy was grateful.

Peggy hardly knew how she got home that day. She and Katherine did not
speak until they had gained the safety of their own suite and then they
put a “Busy” sign on the door, and sat down on their couch.

“Katherine,” said Peggy at last, “one of two things must happen now.
Either I shall never touch pen to paper again or I’ll keep at writing
until I make a success of it and show Miss Tillotson that I can after
all.”

“Yes, room-mate,” agreed Katherine solemnly, “that’s the only
alternative open to you now.”

The tragic whiteness of Peggy’s face deepened.

“Never again, or—never give it _up_ until I’ve made good,” she murmured.
“It might mean—more times like this, Katherine, if I kept on,” she
reminded tentatively.

“Yes, Peggy,” Katherine answered slowly, “I think it _would_ mean more
times like this.”

“And nothing but my own determination to go on,—no reason to think I
have any particular talent or ability—she has already taken away all
that notion. Just the will to do it whether I can or not—to show her
that I can.”

“Yes,” agreed Katherine once more, “that’s all you’d have to go on. _I_
think you are good at writing, but then I think you can do anything. I
can’t write myself, so my opinion really isn’t so very valuable. You’d
have to do it without encouragement.”

“I want her respect, Katherine; I want to have her think in the end that
I’m the best writer that ever took Thirteen, but—it would mean giving
most of my time and all my energies to my English—and I might not turn
out any good in the end.”

“True,” Katherine again attacked her room-mate’s problem, “and if you
never touch pen to paper again” (the phrase had them both) “you can soon
forget this hurt to-day and you need not put yourself in a similar
position again, and your main work can go to—well, to math or anything
else.”

Peggy paced up and down the room and Katherine, never doubting but that
this was the most serious problem that had ever been fought out in
college, followed her room-mate’s figure with eyes that brimmed with
sympathy and a heartful of affectionate loyalty that longed to be of
help and could not.

“Say, Peggy,” she said suddenly, “I want to take a note over to the
note-room for one of the girls in my Latin class. Don’t you want to come
along? This doesn’t have to be decided all at once, does it?”

Peggy silently slipped on her sweater again and the girls ran across the
campus to the big recitation hall and thence down the basement steps to
the note-room. Crowds of girls were swarming into and out of this place
where, on little boards—one to each class—the girls left their
communications for each other under the proper initials. In so large a
college it was necessary to have some easy and direct means of reaching
each other without delay or the expense of telephone or postage. Every
girl went to the note-room once every day—and a particularly popular one
ran down after each class to gather in the sheaves of invitations,
business notes, and club meeting announcements that were sure to be
hers.

Peggy and Katherine squeezed through the crowds, greeting many other
freshmen as they were suddenly brought face to face, and at length they
stood before the freshman bulletin and Katherine stuck her note in the
rack at the letter R, while Peggy glanced, from habit, back to her own
initial. There were many little important-looking notes stuck upright
over the letter P, and Peggy fingered them over listlessly. Delia
Porter, Helen Pearson, Margaret Perry and so on, until all at once from
the most inviting looking of all leaped her own name, Peggy Parsons, in
perfectly unfamiliar writing—writing almost too assured to be that of a
freshman at all.

Wonderingly she unfolded the little square, and then, jammed in by the
other girls as she was, she flung her arms around Katherine’s neck and
cried out with a sob of joy, “Oh, kiss me, Katherine!—they want my poem
for the _Monthly_!”

From dull gray the world leaped to glowing radiance. For a freshman to
be invited to give a poem to the _Monthly_! Her great problem was solved
automatically, and Peggy would be an author from that time forth until
she should be graduated.

“Let’s see your note,” urged Katherine, when they were out of the crowd
once more. “I want to look at it myself.”

Peggy eagerly unfolded the precious thing again and read, while
Katherine looked over her shoulder:

    “_My dear Miss Parsons_—or wouldn’t it be more like college to
    say Peggy?—I’m writing to ask you if we may not have for the
    _Monthly_ that little poem of yours that was read in Thirteen
    to-day? There are some changes in four of the lines, and if
    you’ll come over to my room this afternoon, I want you to make
    them yourself so that there will be as little as possible of my
    scribbling in it. Hoping to see you,


                                 _Ditto Armandale_, _Monthly Board_,
                                        _Room 11, Macefield House_.”



“Why, Peggy, do you remember that Ditto Armandale we met that day last
year while you were standing under the waterfalls? And it was the sight
of her and all those other Hampton girls that first made you want to
come here! Miss Armandale invited me to come and see her that day, when
I should get to Hamp, and she said you were just the sort that ought to
come here—oh, isn’t it _fine_, Peggy!”

“Yes, but look here,” said Peggy, who was still reading over her note,
“she says ‘changes in four of the lines.’ There were only four lines
_in_ it, Katherine, you remember.”

“That’s queer. But I’d go anyway.”

“Of course I will,—I don’t suppose she’ll remember me, but I’m glad
she’s the one, she looked so nice and considerate that day.”

“What are you going to wear?”

“It’s an invitation house. I suppose a person ought to be awfully
dressy,” Peggy said doubtfully.

“I don’t know,” murmured Katherine. “I shouldn’t think it would be
necessary to dress much if you were just one of the multitude like me.
But being one of the youngest authors in college, it’s different with
you.”

With arms around each other’s shoulders, the room-mates strolled back
across the campus toward Ambler House. The sunlight shone over the
campus and over the moving army of girls going in every direction across
it, for it was just at the end of recitation hour. None of them wore
hats, so that the light gleamed down on their hair. Most of them wore
white sweaters or sport coats, and under the arm of each was tucked a
notebook or a stack of study volumes.

All of them walked in pairs, as Katherine and Peggy were doing, or in
laughing groups that gathered numbers as they went on.

Peggy and Katherine began to have an intimate sense of belonging to it
all. Hampton was becoming _their_ college in a way it had not been
before. This campus and those red brick buildings, those laughing crowds
of girls, their hair blowing in the wind—these things were to represent
their whole world for four years, and, tightening their hands on each
other’s shoulders, they were glad it was to be so.

And Peggy held crushed in her free hand a tiny wad of paper, the
tangible evidence that this first year promised success to her.



CHAPTER IV—NEW PAINT AND POETRY


A summons to visit an invitation house!

And on such a gratifying mission! Peggy smiled as she slipped into her
rose-colored taffeta, and Katherine, watching her with pride, decided
that “the poet’s look” had come back.

“Well, good luck, room-mate,” she called as Peggy went out the door, and
she received one radiant glance in answer from the departing young bard.

The pleasantly warm tone of the rose-colored taffeta buoyed up the new
genius’ spirit all across the campus until she came out into Green
Street and beheld the imposing reality of Macefield House directly
before her.

She had the fleeting and snobbish wish that all the girls of her class
could see her turning thus assuredly up the walk to the famous senior
house. To be sure, she couldn’t help casting a cold look of disapproval
at the porch—it was the messiest porch she had seen anywhere in Hampton,
but she supposed the celebrity inhabitants of Macefield were all too
busy with their dinners and dances and social duties generally to notice
how careless and extremely—impromptu—the approach to their home
appeared.

The campus house porches all had chairs out on them and comfortable
magazine tables—there were still a lot of hot fall days to look forward
to—but on the Macefield House porch there was nothing. And somebody had
carelessly left an old ladder lying down right in front of the steps!
Peggy had a very hard time scrambling over it. Perhaps it was just as
well the other Freshman girls weren’t there to see her after all. She
must admit there was considerable loss of dignity involved in scrambling
over an old paint-specked ladder that was so completely in her way.

Her face was flushed to the color of her dress when she finally climbed
the steps. Even in her confusion she noticed that the porch floor looked
strangely _new_ and that it seemed to have a tendency to cling a little
and impede her footsteps.

“It’s probably because I’m getting scared that I imagine my feet stick
to the boards,” she mused uncomfortably. “I don’t know how a person
should act at an invitation house. Whether you’re supposed to walk right
in or——”

That part of her problem was settled immediately, for she found the door
locked. Gathering what self-confidence she could, she pressed the bell.

Uneasily she shifted from one to the other of the sticking feet. No one
came. She knew it was rude to ring twice, but she felt she would never
have the heart to come again if she didn’t see the great editor of the
Monthly now and get everything arranged. So she pressed a shaking finger
nervously against the bell, and held it so until she heard a rustling
inside the house. The door opened—just a crack—and a surprised head
poked itself into view. Peggy had a jumbled and confused impression all
at once. She was aware of the speechless amazement in the eyes, also
that the face was not that of a girl at all, but belonged to a rather
severe looking and decidedly middle-aged woman.

With a little jump of her heart she realized that she was meeting the
gaze of the matron of Macefield House. Campus house matrons were
regarded in the light either of common enemies or motherly souls, whose
hearts responded to all college-girls’ troubles. But what might the
matron of an invitation house be like? Peggy thought she must be
something incomparably greater.

“Is Miss Armandale in?” she asked weakly.

“She may be, but she’d be up in her room,” answered the head
ungraciously enough, while its owner apparently did not intend to admit
the enemy within the fortifications, since no move was made to open the
door wider.

“Well——” murmured Peggy, with a sudden realization that she was standing
in wet paint,—“shall I—go up—and—and find out?”

“By the back door if you wish,” said the head witheringly. “If you came
in this way, you’d _Track in the Paint_.”

Peggy’s heart leaped. A crimson tide went over her. She shut her eyes
before the accusing and indignant gaze of the matron.

So that was what the ladder had been for, and any stupid but she would
have known! With dread she looked back along the porch the way she had
come and there, sure enough, was a procession of marring footprints in
the new grey of the flooring!

She had climbed with great difficulty over the barrier that had been
deliberately placed there to prevent such a thing.

And Ditto and the other girls of the house would have to have the porch
all done over on account of a silly freshman. For the girls in the
invitation houses carried their own expenses, leasing their houses and
then conducting them like any tenants.

“I will go ’round the back way, then,” she gasped to the glowering
matron. Her one thought was to escape the baneful glare of those eyes.

Her feet stuck firmly when she tried to go and as she was lifting them
up with a generous accompaniment of Macefield House paint, the door
banged behind her and she was left to make her humiliating way back as
she had come, with the ladder to be surmounted again, and her eyes so
full of tears of embarrassment that she could hardly see to walk.

She had no intention of going around the back way. Her only desire was
to get home.

She must face again the guns of the enemy—for that wonderful poem
mustn’t be lost to the _Monthly_—but she would make her charge after she
had rested once more in the trenches of Suite 22, and had equipped her
army of one with a new uniform.

For that was the plan that was already taking shape in her mind. She
would return in disguise. She had sallied forth in her brightest and
best. Well, she would go back as meek as a freshman should, in plain
clothes—and who would know she was the young stupid who had scaled the
step-ladder and marred the new grey paint of the invitation house?

“Well,” said Katherine, yawning up at her lazily from the couch, when
she was once more within the home walls, “how did it go, room-mate?”

“How did what go?” inquired Peggy, kicking off her pumps hastily and
sliding them out of sight, under the dressing table.

“Why, the interview with the great Ditto. You make me tired,
Peggy—acting just as though you were bored by the best thing that’s
happened to either of us yet. And really and truly, you’re just as glad
as I am for you. Admit that you are.”

“Not—so wildly,” Peggy made a little grimace, as she flung the
rose-colored silk dress into a corner. A moment later her muffled voice
came from the bed room, where she was fumbling among her dresses. “I
never can find anything I want.”

“Are you looking for your kimono? Going to rest a while, before we get
dressed for dinner? Your kimono’s under the bed, Peggy; I saw the blue
edge sticking out. Hurry back in here and tell me the news; I’m consumed
with curiosity.”

Peggy came back into the study, wearing a blue serge skirt, her head
lost to view in a middy blouse in the process of being slipped on. She
struggled to the top at last and peered out with pleading eyes.

“Will you go over there with me, Katherine?” she said in a tone she
strove to make indifferent.

“Go over there with you? Haven’t you been?”

“I want your company,” Peggy stammered with difficulty, unable to tell
the fib that would have been a direct answer to her room-mate’s
question.

“Well,” said Katherine, getting up slowly and stretching her arms, “I
should say I will.”

And so Peggy, her army reinforced, began her march on Macefield House a
second time.

If Katherine was surprised at her simplified costume, she made no
comment, but held her arm chummily all the way over, and Peggy felt that
victory was in sight.

“Look, they’ve painted their porch,” she said in assumed surprise, when
they came in sight of the fateful ladder.

“So they have,” cried Katherine, “and we can’t get up _that_ way.”

And then she began to titter.

“What’s the matter?” demanded Peggy quickly.

“Somebody—somebody—_did_ go up anyway,” Katherine laughed delightedly.
“There are footprints all over it! Oh, mustn’t the Macefield House girls
be furious?”

Peggy was silent.

“Don’t you think that’s funny?” her room-mate insisted, still laughing.

“Perfectly _simple_,” returned Peggy. “Some people haven’t a bit of
sense. I imagine it was some—some delivery boy, don’t you?”

“More likely a freshman. Delivery boy with those little feet? How
ridiculous—as if he’d wear high heels!”

“Katherine, you’re a regular Sherlock Holmes,” Peggy protested.

“I believe I could ferret out the criminal,” persisted Katherine. “I’ve
thought of a good clue.”

“How would you do it?” Peggy’s voice was little more than a whisper.

“Look on the bottoms of all the freshmen’s shoes for paint,” announced
her friend.

“Katherine!”

“Yes?”

“Last year you and I were detectives and we found out things together,
which did people good. But do you think—after our partnership then, it
is right for you to go—looking things up all by yourself without me,
now?”

“How perfectly silly of you,” laughed Katherine; “of course you’d have
to help. You could look at the shoes of the girls on one side of the
campus, and I’d take our side. Anyway it’s all in fun. I suppose we’d
better go around the back way, don’t you think so?”

Peggy thought so, decidedly. In a few moments they were climbing the
dark back stairs to the room of the great _Monthly_ editor on the second
floor.

The door of Number 11 stood part way open and showed a delightful and
luxurious confusion within. Peggy and Katherine got a glimpse of tall
red roses, Oriental couch cover, and a profusion of pillows, old bronze
bric-a-brac, green leather banners, scattered books and manuscripts,
with the inevitable Mona Lisa enigmatically smiling down at it all from
the opposite wall of the room.

Peggy and Katherine, after a light knock, advanced into the room and
seated themselves on the inviting couch.

“A book-case and a dictionary,” murmured Peggy. “Such funny things to
have at college.”

“But there’s a tea table, too,” reminded Katherine. “In fact, I never
saw a room that had such a varied assortment of things—and all in
harmony.”

“I like that leather peacock screen,” Peggy went on.

“Oh, I love it all—but don’t you think it’s the least bit oppressive?
That incense smell lulls my senses to sleep. I don’t see how Ditto can
be the fresh, breezy sort she is,—perfectly matter-of-fact and
everydayish,—and live in an opium den of a room like this.”

“It isn’t just what her character would lead you to expect,” admitted
Peggy.

Just then, a girl drifting aimlessly by in the hall paused at the door,
and glanced in curiously at the two freshmen sitting so stiffly, toes
out, hands clasped in their laps, awaiting the all-important Ditto.

“Dit know you’re here?” she asked, with friendly brevity.

Both girls shook their heads.

“I’ll get her,” said the other, disappearing, and an instant later they
heard, up and down the hall, the loud cry, “_Dit-to! Di-i-t Armandale_!
Somebody to see you!”

From the third floor came a scrambling noise, then the sound of light
feet tapping on the stairs.

“Well, you really did come, you children,” gasped the owner of the room,
coming in flushed from her hasty descent and blowing a wavy strand of
golden hair from her face.

She plumped down between them on the couch and looked from one to the
other with an air of delighted proprietorship.

“And you’re beginning just right, too, as I knew you would. Thirteen is
the open road to glory, here, and you certainly were courageous, handing
in a poem first thing.”

Her hand reached for Peggy’s knee. “How do you like everything, now
you’re here, and why haven’t you been over before?”

“We didn’t think you’d remember us,” said Peggy.

“There was so much water that day you saw us, at the picnic last year——”

Ditto threw back her head and laughed. “Yes, there was plenty of that,”
she agreed. “I never saw anything so moist as you were. And
you—Katherine Foster—yes, I remember your names, too,—I chose you for a
friend of mine that day. And I’m positively insulted that neither of you
accepted my invitation to come to see me, until I dragged you here on
business. Your poem, Peggy,—here it is, I kept it out for you——”

She had risen and lifted the blue-folded paper from a pile of thick
stories and “heavies” on the table. And Peggy, watching the nonchalant
way she handled the sacred _Monthly_ material, felt her admiration
increasing.

“Now,” said Ditto, bending over the page with complete concentration,
“let’s see just what we want to do—I thought that possibly——”

And her sturdy little blue pencil crept mercilessly through word after
word, while Peggy felt the blood pounding into her face and tried not to
mind the kindly criticism of her effort.

Peggy was consulted tactfully about each change and asked for
suggestions, until, under the skilful guidance of the more experienced
writer, the fledgling really developed a verse that would not mar the
_Monthly_ pages. Then Ditto gave her a pen and some paper to write it
all out again, in the copy that was actually to go to the printer.

Katherine talked to Ditto about her room-mate, while the latter was
carefully rewriting her masterpiece.

“You know you’ve got good material for freshman president, there,” said
Ditto with something of senior condescension. “An Andrews girl usually
has it, and she’s the right type. She isn’t very self-conscious, she’s
lots of fun and ready for anything. You can tell that. Why don’t you put
her up? Your elections are this week, aren’t they? Honestly, I’ve heard
of nothing but Peggy Parsons, Peggy Parsons, from all the freshmen
protégées of the girls in this house.”

Katherine caught fire. “It would be great,” she said. “Think of rooming
with the class president. Oh, I did a clever thing in bringing her to
Hampton. I can shine in reflected glory through the whole four years.”

“You do it,” urged Ditto, “get her elected, I mean. I’ll help.”

She nodded carelessly toward the huge vase of roses. “I have quite a few
little freshmen friends whom I’ll—tell about Peggy.”

When Peggy handed back the poem with a rueful smile at its many changes,
Katherine got up from the couch and took her room-mate’s arm. It would
never do to linger, though it was hard to leave the great Presence.

Peggy’s look as they left the house held simply pleasure and gratitude,
but Katherine’s brimmed with meaning.

“You don’t know what I know,” she hummed.

“Then why not tell me?” laughed Peggy.

“I know who’s going to be freshman president!”

“Who?”

“Shan’t tell you—but I suppose you’ll find out when it happens.”

“Well,” retorted Peggy unexpectedly, “I know already.”

“What’s—her—name?” gasped Katherine.

“Gloria Hazeltine,” answered Peggy.

Katherine stopped and caught her shoulders. Facing her, she studied her
calm expression of certainty.

“Why, Peggy,” she couldn’t help saying, “it was going to be _you_, and I
was going to start this very day to campaign for you.”

“Me!” scoffed Peggy. “I couldn’t even _look_ like a president. The
freshman president stands for the whole class, and the sophs and juniors
and seniors are apt to judge us a good deal by the one we choose for
that office. They’d think what flyaways the freshmen are if you had any
one like me. Or rather they’d never notice us at all, but would sever
diplomatic relations. But Gloria now——”

The vision of the tall, radiant young Westerner, with her red-gold hair
and her wide, laughing, blue eyes—the way she talked, the way she wore
her clothes, her charm and sincerity of manner—rose vividly in
Katherine’s mind. She compared this vision with the actual striking
little figure of her room-mate, with the flickering dimples showing and
disappearing and the warm light that always lay in the depths of her
black eyes.

“I—don’t—know,” she said honestly. “Gloria is wonderful—but you, Peggy,
you’re so dear.”

“I’ll give all I have to the class,” cried Peggy, opening her arms, as
if to embrace every girl of the four hundred and fifty freshmen, “but I
don’t have to be set up in the post of honor to do it.”

“But Andrews usually has the presidency,” ventured Katherine in a
troubled tone. “Ditto Armandale reminded me that our school has always
carried off everything, Freshman year. It’s _expected_.”

“We’re not Andrews now, we’re Hampton,” said Peggy gravely. “Don’t you
remember the signs in the moving picture shows, from Wilson’s
proclamation? Something about ‘whatever country you came from, you are
an American now.’”

“Well, the president-elect is dead, long live the president-elect,”
capitulated Katherine reluctantly.

“Good. I really feel that I owe her an awful lot for taking you away
from her,” smiled Peggy, grown light-hearted once more. “Being president
wouldn’t half make up.”

Katherine laughed her gratified surprise and began to plan how to draw
the solid Andrews vote, in favor of a girl who was not from Andrews.

“I’m going to have a party for Gloria,” Peggy mused, “and invite every
single freshman in the catalogue. You’ll have to help me write the notes
to stick up on the bulletin board. And we’ll say, ‘To meet the freshman
class president,’ and freshmen are such sheep, they’ll think she’s as
good as elected.”

“Sheep yourself,” flared Katherine. “I think putting anything like that
in would be terribly crude. But the rest of the plan I like.”

“And I’ll dress in my very best and make an impression for her sake,”
Peggy went on, thinking aloud.

“Wear that rose-colored dress and those cute pumps,” suggested
Katherine, interestedly.

“No, _not_ the rose-colored dress, and _not_ the pumps,” Peggy returned
with a slight shiver.

The first thing she did, when they reached their room, was to drag the
pumps from their hiding place and wrap them carefully in a sheet of
newspaper.

“What in the world——?” began Katherine.

“I’m—I’m going to take them to be resoled,” murmured Peggy hastily.



CHAPTER V—MORNING GLORY


Freshman elections began with a babble.

Everywhere the insistent voices of the lobbyists were heard. Upper-class
girls had come in to impress the freshmen as to the proper name to write
on the voting slips.

“She’s a _dandy_ girl,” was shouted confidentially into Peggy’s ears so
many times, while she didn’t know _who_ was nor _why_ she was, that she
couldn’t help having a high opinion of her class altogether. Every girl
in it seemed to be “dandy” in somebody’s judgment.

“Will you vote for Myra Whitewell?” some friend was imploring.

“No,” said Peggy, suddenly, “let me alone. Every one is after me so hard
to vote for other people that I haven’t had any time to work for my own
candidate.”

And she forced her way through the throng, shouting into each bewildered
and crimson ear, “Vote for Gloria Hazeltine! She’s a _dandy_ girl.”

“Peggy, _Peggy_, listen a moment,” said Katherine’s agonized voice.
“What do you think the Andrews girls are doing? Going back on us at the
last minute. They say they will put up Florence Thomas for president if
neither of us will run, and that you and I are traitors to try to elect
some one not from our own prep school.”

“Well,” said Peggy, gritting her teeth, “we can elect Gloria without
Andrews.”

“Oh, but, Peggy, we will be voting against our own school! If they
insist on putting her up this way, won’t we have to vote for Florence?”

Peggy shook her head and went on through the thick crowds of freshmen.
“She’s a _dandy_ girl,” Katherine heard in Peggy’s clear tones.

Here in this giant recitation room was assembled a class in the process
of being welded together into an organization having one heart and one
mind. It was a conglomeration of more or less uncertain and dazed girls
now. Some were actively working up sentiment, but for the most part they
stood in groups, each group a stranger to the others, four hundred and
fifty girls, many of whom had never seen each other before this day,
trying to realize that they were of one college flesh and that out of
this roomful must be made the dearest friendships of a lifetime.

There was nothing coherent about them as yet. They held aloof from each
other, partly in timidity and partly in pride, and their interests were
in conflict rather than in unison.

Once pledged to a name for president, they clung to it desperately as if
that particular girl had been their best and oldest friend. And they
hated all the other girls who had been put up.

Slips of paper were passed around and, with a feeling of deep
importance, each freshman wrote the name of the girl she wanted for her
president.

With much rustling the slips were collected in hats by freshmen
appointed by the pretty Junior who presided.

Then with more rustling they were counted, while the freshmen’s eyes
popped out of their heads in eagerness to learn how good a showing their
favorite was making.

The silence was most respectful when the pretty Junior took up the
counts the freshmen had made and read in her sweet, serious voice, “Myra
Whitewell 200, Gloria Hazeltine 101, Florence Thomas 99, Corinne Adams
50.”

The ignorant freshmen remained breathless, waiting to be told whether
any one was yet their president or not.

“It is necessary, according to the by-laws, to have a two-thirds
majority for a candidate before she can receive office,” the presiding
Junior informed them in those dainty and precise tones of hers.
“Therefore another vote will be cast, in the hope of bringing about more
unanimity.”

With joy the freshmen wrote again on slips of paper. But the vote came
in again identically the same! The pretty Junior, whose name was Alta
Perry, raised her eye-brows in surprise. Tirelessly the appointed
freshmen passed out new voting slips.

“When a candidate has too few votes to be really in the running,”
protested the Junior mildly, “the voting would get on faster to give
those votes elsewhere. The idea is not to show your loyalty to any one
girl, but to elect a president for the freshman class.”

Peggy took council with her henchman, Katherine.

“If those Adams votes go to Florence Thomas, I suppose Gloria will be
sacrificed sooner or later,” she said. “If they go to Myra Whitewell—I
think she’s the haughty little thing yonder wearing the Mrs. Castle
head-ache band,—why, then Gloria’s out, too. The only thing to do is to
get them for Gloria.”

She sped away to the Andrews group, where Florence Thomas, who had
always taken life pleasantly and coolly, was the flushed and eager
center of ninety-nine supporters, both those from her own school and the
others who had rallied to her cause.

“Girls,” said Peggy, “we’re two ahead of you. Please be reasonable——”

But she saw the curious star-like quality of Florence’s eyes. And she
hadn’t the heart to go on.

The plain, kindly, everyday, comfy Florence to light up and shine like
that! Well, if she had known in time how honors could bring that girl
out, perhaps Peggy would have considered her a perfectly suitable
president from the beginning.

“If _you_ had wanted it, Peggy, I wouldn’t have stood a chance,”
Florence breathed down to her from the window seat on which she was
perched so as to overlook her adherents. “The girls only put me up
because you and Katherine failed them.”

Failed them! Peggy’s heart skipped a beat. The cold glances of the other
girls let her guess only too plainly how she was viewed by the Andrews
contingent, the members of her own school.

“If you give up something that most anybody would want and feel just
right about it, then somebody comes and takes the joy out of life by
seeing you as a villain still,” mused Peggy aloud.

She didn’t try to get the Corinne Adams votes for Gloria, she didn’t
argue with a single Myra Whitewell enthusiast.

And the vote came in again so nearly the same that the pretty Junior was
vexed, and looked at her wrist watch and thence out to the waning
sunlight over the campus. Really an afternoon spent with her own
somewhat intelligent juniors would be greatly preferable to this
monotonous and stubborn concourse of freshmen who seemed to have set
their hearts on making an election impossible. Corinne Adams had lost
seven votes to Myra, and now tragically arose and announced her
withdrawal from the contest. Many voices murmured protestingly “no, no,”
as she came forward and went toward the door, but these sympathizers had
not voted for her when they had the chance.

“I never knew anything so heart-breakingly mixed up,” said Peggy. “That
Junior’s mad, the freshmen are near to tears and the candidates are all
wobbly.”

And then suddenly an idea lifted her right up out of the depression and
doubt that was settling over the room. She stepped over to the desk and
held a confab with the Junior and the freshmen vote-collectors.

Alta Perry snatched eagerly at the chance to bring order out of chaos.

She arose and rapped for attention. Immediately all the despairing
whispers ceased.

“Some one has suggested that the girls would like to see the
candidates,” she said, “so that they’d know who they’re voting for.”

A wave of approval swept her audience.

“So I’ll ask the girls who are still up to come forward to the platform
so that—everybody may see them.”

The crowd parted, while from three corners of the room the candidates
came.

The Junior smiled apologetically as she ranged them before the class.
This was vastly amusing to her, but she realized that all the voters
were staring forward with hero-worship in their eyes waiting to see
which was the girl for whom each had been so religiously voting, ballot
after ballot.

“Myra Whitewell,” introduced Alta Perry, nodding toward the first girl.

The girl acknowledged the introduction with an abrupt lifting of her
chin. She was small and dark, with snapping brown eyes and a fine,
slender, somewhat selfish face with no color in it. Her lips were full
and red.

A pretty, wilful, egotistical picture this first candidate presented to
the freshman class. Myra was the sort of girl who would always have
blindly devoted followers willing to put up with her whims and
ill-tempers because they believed her to be of finer clay than the rest
of the world.

She herself was superbly conscious of this extra fineness. She scanned
the eager faces of the crowd with quick glances, haughty, like a young
princess reviewing her humble but faithful subjects.

“And this is Florence Thomas,” continued the Junior, her eyes sparkling
just a bit with the fun of the little drama.

And the class saw Florence Thomas for just what she was—a nice,
ordinary, typical girl like most of them; possessed of a good deal of
executive ability if it was forced into action, neither markedly
self-centered nor self-sacrificing.

She had a little round face, with wavy dark-brown hair around it. They
got no very distinct impression of the second candidate further than
this. She was without the rare gift of personality that “gets across,”
and hence her undoubted, sterling qualities had little opportunity for
appeal.

Her face was flushed with her sudden prominence, and there was a trace
of embarrassment in her smile.

Peggy’s thought raced back over Florence’s characteristics while at
Andrews. Florence was just the type to have an important place in a
small school, where each individual girl could get to know her and love
her. But here among these hundreds there was nothing about her striking
enough to hold their attention at first glance.

A warm feeling of affection surged up in Peggy’s heart for her last
year’s comrade.

Just for a moment she would have forced Florence down their throats
whether or not, if she could, without regard for the fact that she
believed another girl was infinitely better fitted for the post.

That other girl’s name was now being spoken by the Junior.

“This is Gloria Hazeltine,” she announced to the monster class.

And just as the moon and stars fade out of view when the sun comes up,
so the less vivid attraction of Myra and Florence dimmed into
insignificance beside the appealing radiance that was Gloria’s.

“O-oh, isn’t she sweet!” breathed a girl near Peggy. “I never saw
anything like that hair in my life. For goodness’ sake, somebody lend me
a knife to sharpen my pencil so that I can vote all over again for her!”

If she were nothing besides sweet, argued Peggy to herself, she would
never have been put up. Most of the girls were that. But she understood
that the rapturous tribute of her neighbor meant far more than the words
she had chosen.

The quality of graceful and unconscious leadership seemed stamped in
Gloria’s face, as she smiled out on the freshmen, who were all beginning
to go wild over her at once.

The slips were passed again while the three candidates faced their
different constituents.

All anxiety had passed from Peggy’s mind. She was _sure_ who had won.

The slips rustled triumphantly when they had been sorted after the
voting and were passed up to the Junior again.

“Twenty for Florence Thomas,” she read aloud without raising her eyes
from the papers. “Fifty for Myra Whitewell, and—all the rest for Gloria
Hazeltine—Miss Hazeltine is elected president of your class!”

With that announcement something happened to the class. Instantaneously
the fusion took place.

There were no longer separate groups, shy and a little suspicious of
each other: they were one class. They had elected a president. She was
the president of all alike.

At the same instant they all burst forth into the same song:

    “Oh, here’s to Morning Glory,
    Drink her down!
    Oh, here’s to Morning Glory,
    Drink her down!
    Oh, here’s to Morning Glory,
    Whom we’ll love till we are hoary;
    Drink her down, drink her down,
    Drink her down, DOWN, down!
    Balm of Gilead, Gilead,
    Balm—_Of—Gilead_—
    Way down on the Bingo Farm!”

And then they turned and looked at each other with wonder, for the
little rhyme in the middle had come with unanimous harmony to all, and
each had sung this cheer song just as loudly as she could, although a
few minutes before many would have said they didn’t even know the tune.

Peggy was thrilled to her finger tips. She squeezed Katherine’s arm.
Gloria’s beauty and ability had been enhanced twenty fold, for every
girl present, by this spontaneous tribute. And Peggy could think of
nothing more desirable in the world than that she should some time hear
this song laden with her own name.

The other officers were elected with expedition, the vice-presidency
being offered to Myra Whitewell, who indignantly refused it, declaring
she would be first or nothing—thus maintaining a single discordant note
in the general happiness and good humor. The despised office was then
hesitatingly tendered to Florence Thomas, who was almost too pleased to
speak, but made the remark in acceptance that this office, while still
too big for her, was nearer her size and she’d do just everything she
could to deserve their trust and faith in her.

Myra Whitewell edged her way out of the room, with a slight sneer
distorting her pretty lips.

But Florence shook hands with all who came forward and received their
kisses with pleasure that made every one love her.

The class went singing home in every direction from its election. An
enormous hysterically happy crowd flocked in the wake of Gloria. Peggy
and Katherine were in the outskirts of this crowd, and they looked from
the heroine of their making into each other’s radiant faces.

“Well, thank goodness, her looks elected her,” sighed Peggy thankfully.
“As soon as I thought of a ‘seeing is believing’ test, I knew we’d won.”

“All the girls are saying she’s the prettiest president a freshman class
ever had,” laughed Katherine, “and the joke on them is that they have a
regular person as well as just a beauty.”

“We’ve certainly done our duty by the class,” agreed Peggy.

Katherine turned and looked consideringly at her room-mate.

“You _know_, Peggy, that you could have been the center of that crowd
this minute, if you had wanted to. Dit Armandale did a good deal to work
up sentiment and—you are the best known freshman of any—or were an hour
or so ago. I think you’d have been just as good a president as
Gloria,—and if I do say it myself, a lot better even—and—and just as
pretty——”

“No matter who you room with,” trilled Peggy remindingly and
ungrammatically, “you’re for Hampton now.”

“That Wilson idea again?”

“The very same.”

“_Well_, anyway, Peggy, you _could_——”

“Don’t!” said Peggy suddenly and almost sharply. “Do you think I am some
kind of _angel_?”

“Ye-es,” drawled Katherine affectionately with a slow smile, “sort of.”

But Peggy looked away from her laughing eyes, and shook her head quickly
as if she expected to shake out of it some unwelcome thought.

Later in the day—just before dinner time, she and Katherine gathered in
the quantities of notes and invitations that had come to Gloria and
Florence Thomas. It seemed that every girl in college, no matter what
class she was in, had taken immediate occasion to sit down and write her
congratulations to the freshman president.

When they stopped to deliver their burden at Gloria’s door, they found
her room fragrant with American beauty roses, and sweet with violets and
spicy with pink carnations. A huge orchid nodded coolly in a Japanese
vase which the girls had never seen before, and an array of dainty
little leather-covered books on every subject from “Friendship” to
“Ibsen” were strewn on the table by the window.

Three new pictures in black walnut frames stood leaning against the
couch with the waiting picture wire beside them.

Gloria came to meet them, flushed with pleasure.

“Oh, I never knew it would be like this,” she exclaimed, quite frank in
her delight. “And what have you brought me? Oh, so many notes—aren’t
they all _dear_? I didn’t imagine college—or anything—could be so nice.”

She sat down on the couch while Katherine and Peggy poured their harvest
of congratulations into her lap. Her fingers felt them over and sifted
them before she unfolded any, and she looked up to laugh her happiness
into her friends’ eyes.

“Your room looks wonderful,” breathed Katherine, looking around, “just
like a senior’s, all of a sudden.”

“Doesn’t it?” echoed Gloria. “I’ve solved the mystery of Ditto
Armandale’s room seeming so unlike her, as you said it did,—her
furnishings are all gifts from people for getting elected to things.”

Two dimples of satisfaction dented Peggy’s piquant little face. She
ached from head to foot from the hours of standing and of forcing her
way back and forth through the crowds while she made her brief campaign
appeals. But it had turned out wonderfully. Her candidate had won, and
was this same radiant and beautiful Gloria looking so joyously at her
now.

“Listen to this,” Gloria was saying, reading one of the tributes from
the note-room; “this is a darling one:

    “‘_Dear First Lady of the Freshmen_:

    “‘Please allow an old, old Junior to express her joy over you
    and her envy of you. Once a long time ago—two whole years—she
    herself heard the Balm of Gilead song in honor of her own
    election to the heights you have attained to-day.

    “‘I don’t think I ever felt so lofty over anything. And all the
    college experiences that have come since have never dimmed the
    thrilling feeling of that day or made it seem one bit less the
    best thing that ever happened to me.

    “‘But I was afraid as well as glad: afraid that maybe I wouldn’t
    know how to do everything just as I should and that I might in
    some way disappoint the girls who were mentally carrying me
    about on their shoulders. In case you ever feel that way, little
    First Lady—and this is the reason for my note being written—I
    want you to know that you’ll be very welcome to come to the
    veteran—and get the advice or bolstering up she may be able to
    give you as a result of having learned from her own mistakes.

    “‘Remember the juniors are just in college to be big sisters to
    the freshmen, and I hope you will come and claim the
    relationship the first free minute you have.


                                         “‘Love and congratulations,
                                              “‘_Mary Marvington_.’”



“Oh,” said Peggy, clasping her knees, “isn’t that a lovely one?”

“Well, it’s hard to realize that you are one of the great ones, now,
Morning Glory,” sighed Katherine whimsically, “so that even
ex-presidents will be flattered when you go to see them. And the
condescension is all yours! Because a brand new freshman president is
more in the college public eye than an ‘old’ junior who used to be once
what you are now.”

“Great ones,” Gloria was repeating to herself.

“Do you suppose I really am?” she asked artlessly.

“Yes, you are,” Katherine said. “A few hours ago you weren’t half as
much as Peggy—and didn’t have the outlook she had, but now——”

Peggy and Gloria simultaneously clapped their hands over Katherine’s
mouth, and in her quick movement Gloria’s mass of folded notes scattered
over the floor like a sudden storm of Luther Burbank snow-flakes.

When they had gathered these together again and had helped Gloria sort
out the most interesting-looking ones to read first, they each kissed
her and went home, leaving her well absorbed in her overwhelming
correspondence before they were even out of sight.

There was a reception in honor of the officers that evening in the
Students’ building. The freshmen were tired from their strenuous day,
but they looked charming, nevertheless, in their soft silks and batistes
as they drifted down the walk to the scene of festivities.

“There’s Peggy Parsons!” a cry went up as soon as the pair from Suite
22, Ambler House, entered the building.

Peggy was immediately surrounded and borne off toward the receiving
line, down which she was marched with nearly all the Andrews crowd and
ever so many others in her wake. It did her heart good to hear every
Andrews girl telling Gloria Hazeltine that each had voted for her from
the beginning—and they believed it, the happy enthusiasts, Peggy could
see that.

Then Peggy was swept on by the mob and was soon in the middle of a
seethe of dancers, all girls, fox-trotting, one-stepping, waltzing and
bumping into each other in brilliant lavender, pink, blue and white
confusion. How many dances she danced, nor what they were, she never
could remember afterwards. For as soon as one girl left her another
carried her off; juniors, seniors, sophomores and freshmen, she couldn’t
tell which. But every one knew her name and hailed her as Peggy as if
they had known her all their lives.

“I never knew anything so funny,” she said, when she was limping home
later, with Katherine in the moonlight. “It was just all a kaleidoscope.
I feel a good deal like a moving-picture that has been run too fast.”

“I think you were the director of the picture,” smiled Katherine,
glancing affectionately at her dishevelled room-mate. “You wrote the
scenario for the election, and directed it, even if you did have to be
in the picture yourself.”

“Katherine, you’ve got an awfully horrid room-mate,” mused Peggy in
answer to this eulogy.

“I’ve got Peggy Parsons,” Katherine refuted.

“Well, she’s the one I mean,” Peggy laughed.

“You’d be ashamed of her if you knew. Katherine, what do you think I
almost wished when we were taking all those notes over to Gloria?”

“It wouldn’t be so strange if you’d realized they might all have been
for you,” Katherine defended her. “They might, you know. It was just
your crazy generosity that gave them up and deprived me of rooming with
a freshman president. Did you really wish you were president? I hope you
_did_, because if you didn’t you’re more than human and I don’t like
such people.”

“There!” cried Peggy, abruptly stopping in her homeward limp, and
throwing her arms around her room-mate’s neck, “I’m not half so ashamed
of it now that it’s been dragged out into the light of day—the light of
moon, I mean. It’s funny how much better it makes a person feel to
confess something mean and be sympathized with for it.”

“Anyway,” said Katherine, as their tired feet climbed the steps of their
house, “you were the _dea ex machina_, Peggy Parsons.”

“The—the what?” demanded Peggy, startled. “Oh, it’s mean to spring
anything like that on a trusting room-mate who hasn’t any Latin
dictionary along. I’ll be driven to using a trot for your remarks, if
you keep on.”

Their laughs rang out inside the huge dimly lighted hall, and the
matron, in curl-papers and a purple wrapper, strode forth from her room
noiselessly and confronted the culprits.

“Hush, hush,” she said. “At this time of night! Please go up to your
room without any more of this unseemly laughter.”

“Yessum, yessum,” whispered Katherine and Peggy meekly, and together
they stole up the broad stairway to their rooms, where they snapped on
the light and looked at each other and laughed again—but this time
silently.



CHAPTER VI—AS OTHERS SEE US


Bang! Bang!

“My-y goo-oodness, is it time to get up?” Katherine sat up sleepily the
morning after the freshmen officers’ reception, and tried to get some
response from the little log-like Peggy in the bed across the room. But
Peggy’s face was toward the wall and she presented a perfect picture of
deep sleep.

The banging continued and Katherine felt it incumbent upon her to locate
it. Gertie Van Gorder, who had kindly taken upon herself the task of
waking up the entire second floor at whatever hours its individual
inhabitants specified, never thumped like that. She always came quietly
in and laid icy cold wet wash cloths over their faces, and informed them
calmly, “Your tub is ready, girls; I’ve left my violet ammonia in there
for you.”

So it wasn’t Gertie.

“Peggy,” yawned Katherine fretfully, “can’t you wake up and help me
think what that is?”

But Peggy, accustomed to so much more efficient means of awakening,
never stirred.

“Come in,” invited Katherine unwillingly and experimentally to the
banging, and Hazel Pilcher entered, with Myra Whitewell in her wake.

“Lazy!” cried Hazel. “You’ve missed breakfast!”

Katherine moaned and hunched her shoulders in her pink-ribboned
nightgown. “What’s become of Gertie?” she demanded. “We can’t wake up by
ourselves, can we?”

“Gertie’s in Boston; didn’t you know? Went for the week-end,” and Hazel
sat down on the foot of the sleeping Peggy’s couch and laughed until she
was hoarse. “Now that just shows that what Myra and I are getting up is
a real necessity,” she giggled. “If there wasn’t a crack o’ doom of some
kind, I suppose the whole second floor of Ambler House would snooze
right through the three days until Gertie gets back. It’s—it’s
ludicrous,” she finished, after fishing around for a good word.

“You’re sitting on Peggy,” pointed out Katherine lackadaisically when
the laughter of her guests had died down.

“Wake up, Peggy,” cried Hazel, shaking the rounded shoulder. “Wake up
and quit being sat on.”

“You spoke of a plan,” drawled Katherine, when all had seen that the
only effect on Peggy was a tossing of her golden curls on the pillow.
“Was it something to take Gertie’s place? If it were, I don’t think
anything could; Gertie will get up at any hour to call us, and says she
likes it, too. I’m too loyal to Gertie——”

“Nonsense,” snapped Myra Whitewell, who had not forgotten that one of
the room-mates had been largely instrumental in electing her opponent at
elections the day before. “This is a fault party that we’re going to
have to-night, in Hazel’s room. Just freshmen, except Hazel. You two
must be sure to come.”

“A fault party?”

“Yes, every house ought to have one. Hazel says this house did last
year. Each person tells the others their faults, you know, and then we
can improve. Everybody is very frank and it really is good for you to
know.”

Myra glanced somewhat bitterly at the inattentive form of Peggy, and
Katherine hastily turned a little surprised laugh into a sneeze.

“Oh, so she wants to tell Peggy her faults,” mused Katherine. “Peggy of
all people! Why, she hasn’t any.”

“I don’t want to come,” a muffled voice came from the erstwhile sleeper.
“It hurts people’s feelings.”

“It shouldn’t,” interposed Myra sharply. “If it does, _that’s_ a fault,
and somebody can bring up that. Everybody ought to be glad to know
what’s the matter with them. Why, the idea!” she burst out, “there isn’t
one of us who hasn’t seen something to correct in the others, and
instead of just keeping it to ourselves and being hypocrites, isn’t it a
thousand times better to tell the person right out?”

“I don’t think the person would like that,” the muffled voice protested.

“Well, all the freshmen must come,” Myra persisted. “Come at nine-thirty
to-night, in case we don’t have another chance to tell you.”

“That’s a funny thing,” said Peggy, rubbing her eyes when the two had
gone. “Do you know any faults of any of the girls, Katherine? I don’t.
Let’s see, there are eight freshmen in this house altogether,—and Hazel
taking part makes nine. Why, Katherine, I think we have wonderful people
here.”

“That part won’t matter so much,” hinted the wise Katherine. “They want
to do the telling, I think.”

“I’ll watch the girls all day whenever I’m not at class, and if I see
anything the matter with any of them, I’ll have something to report on.”

“I know some for Myra myself.”

“Some way I hadn’t thought of that,” answered Peggy. “I believe I do,
too. But here’s a good idea, Katherine,—you and I live together, and did
all last year, and we ought to know _slews_ of faults about each other.
So when we are called on we can just show each other up at a great
rate—drag each other out to be ridiculed”—Peggy rocked in bed with the
merriment of the thought. “We can make up the most wild faults of all,
and please everybody,” she laughed.

“You wouldn’t be gloating over foolish things like that if you knew we’d
missed breakfast,” interrupted Katherine. “And, my goodness, woman,
there’s the chapel bell!”

The room was a confusion of flying clothes, waving hair-brushes and
dodging figures, for some ten minutes thereafter. Then the pink and
white cretonne bed covers were smoothed quickly over two couches that
had each been made up in a single swooping motion, including sheet,
blankets, comforter and all. The fat pillows were stuffed into their
cretonne covers and thrown at the head of the beds, and then two
well-dressed, well-groomed appearing girls, with their notebooks under
their arms, emerged and tore down the broad stairway, flying across the
campus lawn, just in time to be shut out of chapel, while the first
welling notes of the organ came out to them, as they stood panting at
the door.

“You know that girl down the hall who keeps saying ‘all things work
together for good,’” said Katherine. “Well——”

“What do you mean?” asked Peggy, but she had already cast one fleeting
glance towards the Copper Kettle just outside the campus.

“It’s just a question of whether we can get breakfast in twenty minutes
and be in time for our first class,” went on Katherine. “And I’m
starved, and I—don’t mind having missed chapel, after all. That’s what I
mean.”

Laughing, Peggy caught her arm and the two took a short cut out of
campus and across the road to the little tea room.

“Nothing is served till nine o’clock,” they were informed, for provision
was made against just such a feeling as Katherine had expressed. The two
ran around the corner to the nearest drug store, and regaled themselves
with two egg chocolates each.

“Goodness,” murmured Peggy on their way back to recitation, “I certainly
wish Gertie were back, bless her heart. If anybody at the meeting
to-night finds any fault with _her_, while she’s away, they’ll have me
to deal with.”

But when the freshmen were assembled that evening, no word was said
against Gertie, nor was her name so much as mentioned, for there is
little satisfaction in scoring an absent friend, when you have just
received license to make a present one squirm.

Two candles were lit in Hazel’s rose-and-old-blue room. There was no
other light. On the couch and here and there about on the floor sat the
Ambler freshmen, in silk kimonos of Japanese or French design. Florence
Thomas was wearing a pale blue with big gold dragons, Peggy noticed as
soon as she came in, for the candle light flickered over it, and the
dull gold threads gleamed.

Myra’s kimono was of midnight blue crepe de chine without any relieving
color tone whatever. Her face shone above it more pale and proud than
usual.

“The reason we are here,” began Myra, rising and standing gracefully
before them, with her dark eyes taking in every one of the group, “is to
see if we can’t be of some help to each other in weeding out the most
glaring faults of the Ambler House freshmen. Hazel is here as a sort of
referee, and each girl is to tell—quite without reservation—any
criticisms she may have for the rest of us. Now begin, somebody.”

She sat down again with a little silken rustle, and Florence Thomas
leaned forward, her pleasant face serious with the weight of her
self-imposed task.

“There’s one thing I’ve noticed,” she said slowly. “Doris Winterbean and
May Jenson don’t seem to mingle with the rest of the house as they
might. Now I don’t want you two girls to get mad,” turning to her
victims, “but you have an awfully ungracious air when any one comes to
your door, and you always lay a book face down as if you could hardly
wait to take it up again. You aren’t exactly snobs,—maybe it’s only that
you’re too studious. You never have any eats in your room, and yet you
are always going to call on other people when you hear they have. And
that’s about the only way any of us can entice you into our rooms——”

Doris and May wilted perceptibly under this attack, and their mouths
opened in astonishment to see the way they had been impressing these
girls whom they had supposed were their generous friends. But instead of
making them more gentle when it came their turn to uncover faults, they
threw discretion to the winds, and heaped up accusations, forgetting
that another morning was coming and they must go on living among these
girls throughout the year.

The atmosphere of friendship which prevailed when the girls arrived in
Hazel’s room, was changed now to one of animosity.

One after another, the girls criticized each other’s gowns, table
manners and personality. Each new victim of attack blanched, drew a
sharp breath of horror and surprise to see in what esteem she had been
held, and then bided her time to “get back.”

Faith in friendship died in that college room. Listening to the deeply
serious voice of her critic, each girl had some fleeting memory of that
same critic—bursting laughingly into her room for an exchange of
confidences, or protesting admiration and liking in a sunny, hearty
fashion.

A girl named Lilian Moore came in for the worst of the drubbing. Hardly
a girl present but had discovered some glaring defect in her.

“You’ll pardon me, but your clothes have absolutely no style, and Ambler
House can’t help wishing you were a little more modern. It hurts a house
to have to claim a girl that will not dress properly—it destroys the
tone of the whole house.”

“Your hair—this is awful—but it really ought to be washed more. It ought
to be fluffy and done with some care, and not—just wadded up as you do
it.”

“We like you—Doris and I were saying the other day what a nice girl you
were—but we both said we’d like you so much better if you didn’t say
‘indeed’ all the time.”

“You have absolutely no faculty for making friends.”

“Your room is so unattractive—there’s nothing in it, really, and you
can’t expect girls to want to go to see you.”

“You don’t walk right—you stoop.”

Those were some of the things that these dainty freshmen had been
thinking about her since the first day she had appeared among them,
shining-eyed and shy, anxious for their approval, fearful lest she, with
such limited advantages, should fail to measure up to their wonderful
standard! And then, oh, glory of life, and happiness undeserved, they
had seemed to care after all! They had seemed to want to talk to her,
had passed her their candy, had often come to her to be helped with
difficult algebra problems!

No one even asked her if she had any fault to find in return. What could
she have found to criticize about _them_? So she was passed over at
last, and allowed to sink back in silence, miserably conscious of her
cotton crepe kimono that she and her mother had made with such pride and
such appreciation of its becomingness. Her cheeks burned a tortured red,
but there was nobody to notice her.

The hilarity with which Peggy and Katherine had meant to accuse each
other of colossal faults had died. They sat quietly in the candle dusk,
holding each other’s hands while indignation showed in their faces.

“And Peggy Parsons——”

It was the cold, diamond-hard voice of Myra Whitewell speaking. “Peggy
Parsons, I’ve felt it my duty for quite a while to tell you how
thoroughly conceited you are——”

Katherine, who had shifted uneasily when the speech began, gasped now
and would have laughed in her relief, for it seemed to her that if there
was one thing in the world everybody must know that Peggy was _not_, it
was conceited. Myra was wide of the mark, Katherine felt, and she did
not even press her room-mate’s hand that still lay passively in hers.

“You feel as if you have to dip into everything,” went on Myra, with a
voice in which spite was veiled in a grave tone of carrying out a
disagreeable duty. “You felt you must run the elections——”

“Ah,” thought Katherine, “I knew that was the reason.”

“As if the freshman class couldn’t get along without you! You made
yourself very forward and, it seemed to some of us, bold, by going up
and advising Alta Perry how to do things. And Alta the junior president!
It wasn’t respectful, and it was taking a good deal on yourself!”

Here Florence Thomas, astonished that any one should dare arraign Peggy,
got up, the golden dragons flaming in the dim light, and moved
deliberately toward the door.

She found the door locked, and the key gone. She turned angrily.

“Until we’re through, nobody ought to go,” explained the high-handed
Myra Whitewell. “As I was saying, Peggy, your egotism——”

“Back it up, back it up,” protested Doris Winterbean.

“Well,” Myra accepted the challenge, “that poem of yours in the
_Monthly_——”

“How did you know?” cried Peggy and Katherine, simultaneously.

“Why, I read the foolish thing in the _Monthly_,” snapped Myra,
surprised.

Peggy, her eyes alight, and Katherine, dawning credulity in her face,
turned and met each other’s gaze in slow triumph.

“It’s _in_?” asked Peggy breathlessly.

“Of course—how else——?” murmured Myra.

“Girls!” cried Peggy, radiantly, “my poem is in the _Monthly_! I didn’t
suppose they’d really use it—oh, I would have told you all, if I’d been
sure. Are the new _Monthlies_ down on the table now, Myra?”

“Yes, they’re downstairs.”

“I’m going to sneak down just as I am and get mine,” breathed Peggy,
“and then shall I read it to you, girls?”

Faults, depression, lost faith—all forgotten in the frank joy that was
Peggy’s.

She pattered across the floor, begged prettily for the key, took it from
Hazel Pilcher’s reluctant hand, and fitted it in the lock.

A moment later they heard her trailing down the hall.

There was complete silence while she was gone.

The outraged feelings were subsiding, and the girls, who a few moments
before were almost hating each other, now waited in pleasant
anticipation the reading of the poem.

There was no warning of her return. They were simply watching the door,
which she had left open, and all of a sudden she stood framed in it, the
soft candle glow lighting her lovely face and blue-clad figure, and the
tan cover of the _Monthly_ which she held clasped to her heart.

“I—can’t come back in,” she whispered. “I met our house-mother on the
stairs, and she made me promise to go right to my own room if she’d let
me creep down and get the _Monthly_ from the table. It’s after ten, and
all the lights are out down the hall. Good-night, girls; I’ve had a
lovely time,” and she really believed she had.

Katherine followed her, with a backward wave of the hand, and what more
fault finding went on after their departure they never knew.

“I s’pose it isn’t much to any one else,” said Peggy deprecatingly, “but
I just feel as if this was the nicest number of the _Monthly_ ever
gotten out!”

And Katherine answered loyally, “I do too.”

The cretonne couch covers they had smoothed up in such haste that
morning were carefully folded back, and Katherine climbed into her bed,
and with a little tired sigh was fast asleep; but Peggy, after carefully
fixing the screen around her room-mate’s couch so that the light
shouldn’t trouble her, propped herself up with pillows in her own bed,
the College _Monthly_ on her knees.

She found her name in the index, “Margaret Parsons,” and was thrilled by
the formality of that. Then she fluttered the leaves over—just as any
one might, she told herself, until she came, to her intense surprise, of
course, to her poem.

This she proceeded to read. And when she had finished, she tried to read
one of the stories or a poem by some one else, but somehow nothing
seemed interesting after that—nothing had for her quite the vividness or
charm, so she shamefacedly yielded to the temptation to read hers all
over again.

But before she had finished, a curious sound disturbed her.

From somewhere down the hall came the unmistakable sobs of a person
crying out her heart in heedless abandon. It was not very loud, but was
penetrating and alarming.

Peggy listened, hardly able to believe her ears. When she and Katherine
were so happy in college, was it possible any girl would have cause to
cry like that?—right here in Ambler House?—the nicest dorm on Campus?

Sighing, she slid her feet into her slippers, dipped her arms into her
kimono again, laid the precious _Monthly_ on the dressing-table, turned
out the light and was soon in the fearsome hall, with those sounds
echoing down it, and no light but the tiny globule of red at the other
end, which indicated the fire-escape.

She went on toward the unwinking light, until she was sure she stood
before the door through which the crying emanated.

It was Lilian Moore’s room. She had a small single room and was
apparently drowning herself in tears there.

The recklessness of the crying, the absolute indifference as to who
heard or knew, made Peggy hesitate for just a minute before she turned
the knob of the door and went in. She was not exactly afraid, and yet
she felt very much alone with something too painful for her to cope
with, as she felt her way into the darkness.

She felt her foot sink into a soft pile of clothing, then immediately
after, she stumbled against some large and solid object that she never
remembered having seen in the middle of Lilian’s room, and for which she
failed utterly to account.

Lilian was throwing herself about on the bed now, and Peggy did not know
whether she realized there was any one in the room or not. She felt for
the light, and, after much fumbling, found it, and snapped it on.

The freshman’s room was in a state of complete confusion. An open trunk
half packed was what she had run against in the darkness. Piles of
clothing and books were strewn round about it on the floor, ready to go
in. Lilian, herself, fully dressed, started up from the bed with a cry,
as the glare of light flooded everything, and dropped back moaning when
she saw that it was Peggy who had come.

“Now,” said Peggy quietly, sitting down on the bed beside the tossing
figure, “let’s be real still or the matron will hear us.”

This obvious common sense thrown like cold water over her misery had an
immediate effect on the other girl, who had expected sympathy.

The sobs shuddered down to long-drawn painful breaths, and Lilian
covered her swollen eyes with two weak hands.

“I’m sure it isn’t just the way you think,” said Peggy, after a few
minutes. “It couldn’t be as bad as all that.”

“What couldn’t?”

“Why, whatever is the matter.”

There was a pause and then came a smothered, “Yes, it could. It is. Oh,
and I wanted to come to college so—I wanted to come!”

“Well—and you came, and here you are with all of us,” Peggy reminded.

“That’s just it,” the confidences came now pouring over each other for
utterance. Lilian clasped Peggy’s cool fingers with a fevered hand. “I
wish to goodness that I hadn’t ever come. I don’t belong. The girls
showed me that to-night. Oh, when I think of how my mother kissed me
good-bye—and—and gave me up for all this year—just for—this——”

“For what?” helped out Peggy.

“To have the girls make fun of my room, my clothes—and me. Listen, Miss
Parsons. We lived in a small town where nobody was very well-to-do. And
mother—wanted something better for me than she had ever known. When she
was a girl she used to dream of going to college——”

Sobs choked the narrator and she struggled for a moment before she could
go on.

“And—when I began to grow up, she decided that I should go—oh, Miss
Parsons, when I came away she said to remember that I was going for both
of us!”

Peggy’s fingers tightened around the feverish hand, and she could see
very clearly in her mind the face of this girl’s mother with its wistful
yet self-sacrificing expression, and the tears came suddenly to her
eyes.

“She saved, my mother did, for years so that there would be enough—for
me—to come on Campus like the other girls,” a trace of bitterness crept
in here. “But I didn’t know how they dressed at a place like this and
how they all fixed up their rooms. I didn’t realize there would be
anything besides the tuition and board—and—I—didn’t—know—they
couldn’t—love me——”

Peggy tore her hand from the other’s grasp and went and stood by the
desk with her back to the bed. Her eyes fell on a blotted and
tear-stained letter which began, “Dear Mother.”

“Listen, Lilian,” she said, going back to the couch, “I haven’t any
mother at all. That will seem strange to you, who have seen me laughing
around here, happy and singing most of the time. But I haven’t,—and I
know that nothing ever will quite make up. That letter you have
begun—just try to realize that no matter what happens to me,—whatever
hard thing I may have to go through, I can’t write such a letter as
that.”

Lilian stared at Peggy in surprise. Why, she had supposed the little
Miss Parsons had _everything_.

“You are the one to be envied after all,” said Peggy. “No matter how
many of the girls like you, or how much they care, it isn’t anything to
the way a person’s own mother cares. And if you want them to, the girls
will care, too. We’ll begin now to _make_ them.”

“It’s too late—I’m going home.”

“Going home after your mother saved to send you?—going home without the
least little bit of a try to bring things your way?—going home and
taking away your mother’s chance to enjoy college through you?—oh, no,
you’re not going home!”

“Well,” hesitancy showed in Lilian’s manner, “I’ve been packing my
trunk. I made up my mind that the girls would never have to see my
homely clothes any more.”

“Stay a week and—try, will you?” pleaded Peggy. “Katherine and I would
miss you awfully if you went home now.”

“You and Katherine? Would you really?”

“Yes, really and truly. Why, when we first knew you here, we said you
were the kind of girl we wanted for a friend, and that we were sure we
were going to like you,” fibbed kind little Peggy, striving to find in
her memory a record that they had noticed her at all.

“Then it isn’t everybody in the house that feels as some of those girls
do?”

“Nobody really,” stoutly maintained Peggy. “Even the ones who talked too
much didn’t feel that way. They had all just been rubbed the wrong way
by some one else—and you were an unresisting object to fire away at in
their turn. And don’t you suppose some of the rest had just as horrid
things said to them as you did? And they aren’t crying about it either.
They are protected by being more egotistical and sure of themselves and
they’re just thinking ‘how ignorant that critic of mine was,’ that’s
all.”

“If you want me to,” said Lilian suddenly, “I’ll stay—for you.”

“Stay for the mother,” corrected Peggy, “and for your own satisfaction,
too.”

“Very well, I will,” came the determined voice at last.

“Then good-night,” said Peggy, “and don’t you think about it again
to-night—will you?”

“No,” said Lilian sturdily, “I’ll think only about to-morrow when maybe,
if I come to see you, you’ll read me your poem in the _Monthly_.”

“Why, you _dear_,” said Peggy, and, since she was a very human little
girl, she made her way back to her room in a state of pleasant warmth
and contentment.



CHAPTER VII—CINDERELLA


As a college morning dries all tears and wipes out all resentments of
the night before, the freshmen were only slightly haughty in their
demeanor toward each other next day, and none of the upper classmen had
reason to suspect that they had been going through a period of stress
and disillusionment all by themselves.

Lilian came down to breakfast, ate hurriedly and scurried off to class,
after casting one quick glance of adoration toward Peggy.

Peggy and Katherine became conspirators as soon as she was well out of
the house.

“You have time this first hour to-day, and I have the third,” said
Peggy. “So you go down and buy some green and white cretonne and some
silk for pillow tops, and I’ll sew them up when I come in.”

In the afternoon they hung a “Busy” sign on their door for the first
time, set the percolator perking coffee to inspire them and plunged into
the green and white material in earnest.

“These cretonne curtains will be nearly as pretty as ours, don’t you
think so?” asked Peggy, “and ours were made at the store. I’m getting
very proud of us as seamstresses, Kathie.”

The plain silk was made into pillow tops of red, blue and yellow.

“The red one will brighten things so,” approved Katherine, when she came
to stitch it over a plump pillow, one of three that the room-mates
hadn’t needed this year for themselves.

Like culprits, they sneaked down the hall, their gay offerings wadded as
closely as possible in their arms, and knocked in fear and trembling at
Lilian’s door. If she had called “Come in,” they would have run. But
they received no answer, so Peggy cautiously opened the door, and thrust
her curly head inside.

“It’s all right,” she whispered in relief to Katherine a moment later,
when she saw that Lilian had not returned from class.

The friends worked quickly, and soon the green and white curtains were
hung at the windows, and the three bright pillows were ranged along the
couch.

“But she hasn’t any couch cover at all,” wailed Peggy, standing off to
look at the result “And the white bedspread does look so hopeless
showing through those gay cushions. What shall we do, room-mate?”

Katherine’s forehead was wrinkled. “You know that old green denim
curtain that hangs before the clothes closet in our bedroom, Peggy?
Don’t you suppose that would be better than nothing? It was there when
we came, but it isn’t so very ancient looking, and it would be
inconspicuous anyway—and just about the kind of thing you see in lots of
rooms.”

With ruthless hands they tore down the big green curtain in their own
suite, snipped off the rough end with scissors, and bore it back in
triumph to Cinderella’s apartment.

“I’m going to run over to Gloria’s,” said Peggy then, “and ask her to
part with one or two of those pictures she got for being elected. She
has two Home-keeping Hearts that I know of, and several pictures that
look like photographs that can’t mean much to her, and would just cheer
up our protegee wonderfully, and make her room pass muster with any
guest.”

Peggy’s tireless feet carried her blithely across the campus to Gloria’s
room, and it didn’t take her twenty minutes to pick out what she wanted,
with Gloria’s help.

“Of course I’m glad to have your little friend have them,” said the
obliging freshman president. “And if you want me to, I’ll come over and
see her some time and bring a lot of girls from my house—junior
celebrities and senior dramatists and people like that, and it might
have a good effect on those Amblerites that tried to snub her.”

“It looks like a different place,” Peggy and Katherine congratulated
themselves later when they had done what they could in the way of
changes. “It’s changed from a poor little apology of just a place to
sleep, into an inviting and cozy college room—with the brightest
cushions a person could imagine,” they summed up boastfully.

Lilian came dragging home from classes, tired circles under her eyes
after the strain of the evening before, and a return of hopelessness
toward her situation. She had Peggy and Katherine for her friends, but
after all these two joyous freshmen went very much their own way, and
were too busy with engagements with more important people, to think of
her much—the girl with the horrid clothes and the wadded-up hair—and the
unattractive room. So she reasoned disconsolately.

She opened her own door listlessly and entered the room.

And then she thought that she had made a mistake. It couldn’t be her
room—of course it wasn’t—and yet, when she turned in bewilderment to
leave it she beheld her own books on the rickety little table.

Well, it was magic! However it had happened, she accepted it with a
queer choking sense that she was really to live in a room like other
rooms hereafter. College had suddenly come close.

She parted the green and white cretonne curtains and looked out on a new
world; she stroked the bright silk cushions with a new sense of comfort
and luxury.

Then she went over to the dresser and drew out the tear-stained letter
that began “Dear mother,” and tore it into bits. A few minutes later her
pen was flying over some clean, fresh sheets in a glowing description of
college, of her room, of her friends.

It was the sort of letter to make a mother think with a sigh of gladness
when she read it, “Well, she is having it all. How nice, that my
daughter can draw about her such friends. How lovely, that she is so
pleasantly situated in such a delightful room—and how, best of all, that
she should not have been deprived of college.”

An interested group of girls clustered around the house bulletin board
on the stair landing, and read many times the latest sign that was
pinned there:

“Looks like a nice party to me,” speculated Doris Winterbean. “But May
and I haven’t a chafing-dish. May, go and borrow one from some
sophomore, because I’m curious, and after last night I certainly want
something cheerful.”

Peggy herself knocked at Lilian’s door a few minutes later.

“I’ve got a sign up for a party to-night,” she said as soon as a
welcoming voice had called to her to enter, “and I thought maybe you’d
like Kay and me to fix your hair for it—it’s pretty hair—and I
thought——”

Lilian tried to say something about the benefits she had already
received at their hands, but Peggy hurried on.

“We have a new electric hair dryer, and Kay has some marcel irons—an
amateur kind, you know—and if you’d like to have us practise them on
you,—I think the result would surprise the girls and send them right
down to Gibot to have theirs done.”

“I can’t let you,” stammered Lilian. “I never _could_ fix my hair well,
but I wouldn’t let you bother with it for the world.”

“Just time before dinner,” Peggy insisted, whipping a towel from the
dresser and beginning to fasten it around the reluctant shoulders of the
other freshman.

She was led down the hall and Peggy experimented with all the Suite 22
hair-dressing implements. Egg shampoo, alcohol, bay rum, electric dryer,
special French orris powder, and finally the hot curling iron.

Then Katherine dexterously did it up for her—not in an original style at
all, but in the mode that had swept the entire college: so that when
their work was finished and the victim was handed an oval ivory mirror,
she exclaimed with wonder, for there was reflected a nice-looking-girl
just like a hundred others in Hampton, with wonderful ripples of soft
gleaming hair, that made you want to follow the waves with your fingers.

“Is that me?” asked Lilian.

“We’ll forgive you for being ungrammatical, since it’s all in
recognition of our efforts,” said Peggy delightedly. “It is very much
you—the way you ought to have been all along, and will, I hope, continue
to be, now that we’ve shown you the way. Mercy, Kay, she does look
wonderful! If you and I ever get poor, we’ll know of one talent we have
at least whereby we can hope to make an honest living.”

So Lilian came that night to the party, very much elated, and entirely
self-confident, instead of shrinking and conscious of making an inferior
appearance.

Those who had chafing-dishes had brought them, those who had not had
borrowed them. Beside each chafing-dish, the hostesses had arranged a
little set of materials.

“Now, two chafing-dishes are prepared to make fudge, one sea-foam, and
one chocolate marshmallow. Will the freshmen kindly pair off and choose
what they want to make? Here are the materials for white taffy over
here, as a prize for the ones that get done first.” Peggy made the
announcement, and the girls lit the chafing-dishes and started in with
great zeal.

This was the kind of party to please them all. Nothing but candy—and all
they could make and eat of that!

“This is an anti-climax party,” explained Katherine, when the fudge was
bubbling with its rich delicious odor, in the chafing-dish chosen by
Florence Thomas and herself. “Peg and I thought of the awful faults we
all found in each other last night”—_they_ hadn’t done any of the
finding, but the others didn’t notice that they painted themselves
blacker than they were—“and we have a suggestion to make as to how to
cure them.”

The girls were a little displeased—more of that criticism business? they
wondered. Even the tempting odor of the cooking candy couldn’t quite
appease them.

“It’s just a way to wipe out the faults as soon as possible,” said Peggy
with her funny and irresistible little smile. “I thought if we each
cured the faults of the others in our own minds, why—where would they
be?”

There was an alarming simplicity to this.

Doris dropped her fudge spoon.

“What do you mean, Peggy?” she demanded.

“Well,” laughed Peggy gleefully, delighted with the discovery she and
Katherine had made, “that party last night did no good, some way.
Everybody went home feeling disgruntled and out of sorts—and overwhelmed
more or less with their own imperfections. If each fault-finder
just—doesn’t find fault, you know,—even in her own mind, there won’t be
any fault pretty soon to be found.”

“Don’t see it,” said Myra Whitewell.

“If _you_,” Peggy turned to her patiently, “if _you_ just wiped out the
notion you had about me—and stopped letting it torment you—that I wanted
to run things, you know,—why, why—then you wouldn’t see me like that,
would you? Pretty soon every one in Ambler House would be praising every
one else, and loving every one so much that the other houses would begin
to notice, and would catch the infection. I think it’s better to let our
enemies find fault with us, if they must, but not our friends.”

“Ambler House would get a wonderful reputation for having the best
freshmen on Campus if we all boosted our house and our classmates
everywhere, I can see that,” ventured Florence Thomas eagerly.

“Well, shall we try?” urged Peggy, “shall we just try it out as an
experiment?”

Because it was Peggy, and because the idea was new, and because the
candy was just ready to eat now, and very tempting, the good-natured
freshmen light-heartedly promised to try her plan—and to follow it
faithfully until it had had time to show either some result—or no result
at all.

This was the beginning of an attitude of mind that later became habitual
with that group of freshmen. It wasn’t many weeks after this
anti-fault-finding party in Peggy’s room that, if a first-year girl
heard that another lived in Ambler House, she was filled with wistful
envy; for the good times the Amblerites had, their gay and loyal
friendship became matters of common college discussion.

Myra Whitewell would not have worked into the system if she could have
helped it. But the others, very much in earnest under the stimulus of
Peggy’s sunny example, refused to give heed to her grouches, or to be
hurt at her snubs,—and they never failed to speak well of her outside,
so that this praise of theirs came to her ears at last, and filled her
heart with warmth in spite of herself, and she could not do less than
give them her friendship—yes, and even her warped and selfish love,—in
the end.

There was candy enough left after the spread that night for each
freshman to take a plateful to her particular junior or senior friend.

As they were leaving, their faces glowing with appreciation of the
pleasant evening they had just spent, and in anticipation of the
junior’s or senior’s delight at their offering, Doris Winterbean drew
Peggy aside and whispered in her ear:

“Well, I don’t know, Pegkins, it’s rather wonderful, but I’ve tried your
plan ever since you spoke of it and it’s had an uncanny effect. Why, do
you know, I already see the greatest difference in that Lilian girl?
Honestly! Peggy, her hair looks _pretty_ to me now, and I thought it was
horrid last night. And her face and manner—she just seemed as happy and
confident as anybody, instead of so shy and uncomfortable. It’s—magic,
Peggy, and you may not believe me, but I really do see her altogether
differently.”

And Peggy burst out into a little laugh of enjoyment, and her eyes
followed Lilian with pride. But she did not think it was necessary to
disabuse the mind of Lilian’s new admirer by telling her that the
“magic” had a very material foundation.



CHAPTER VIII—INDIAN SUMMER


Glory lay over the whole college world.

The sun blazed upon an earth more beautiful than Peggy and Katherine
ever remembered to have seen it. The woods, when the two took their
walks, were as red with burnished leaves as if they had been on fire.

And a golden haze came in the morning and at sunset.

The mystery, the still power, and the vague melancholy of autumn, crept
through the veins of the Hampton girls, and they walked and picnicked on
Leeds rocks, and sang away the glorious afternoons far into the
twilight, when the sudden coolness warned them of what they would
forget—that these days were going, and that winter would soon be upon
them.

Peggy and Katherine saw their first autumn at college dissolving in that
golden haze almost before they had begun to enjoy it and to realize that
all this was really theirs—this life among seventeen hundred girls, all
young, all having identical interests, all happy and congenial.

There came a Saturday afternoon too lovely to be spent at home.

“What shall we do to-day, Katherine?” Peggy asked. “Let’s just go
somewhere by ourselves. Do you want to drive, or walk, or have a bacon
bat or take some books down by Paradise and read?”

A day like that one suggests many ways for enjoyment, but if there is
one thing more absolutely satisfying than another, and
just-the-thing-to-do on such a Saturday afternoon, it is to tramp over
to the cider mill, with a jug and a capacity-appetite for new cider and
ginger cookies.

So it was inevitable that Peggy and Katherine should decide on this as
the ideal adventure, after they had exhausted all the possibilities.

“That cider mill seems just as much a part of the college as Seelye
Hall,” laughed Katherine. “Peggy, can’t you taste that wonderful cider
now? Let’s go right away,—I think we can walk over and back, don’t you?”

That would mean about a nine-mile jaunt.

Somebody in the house had a gallon jug, and the room-mates promptly and
unceremoniously “borrowed” this and, with silk sweater coats, and a
ribbon tied around their heads to keep their hair from blowing, started
off into the wonder of Indian summer, their hearts full of joy over
every one of the nine miles that lay before them.

The road was dusty, the jug was heavy, the day was hot. After two miles
they were warm and thirsty—and hungry, too, and their feet dragged a
little.

“Oh, that cider, that cider,” laughed Katherine. “I wish it could come
part way to meet us!”

“Never mind, room-mate,” cheered Peggy, with mock heroism; “only a mile
and a half to go now, and then the lovely cider will be running into our
jug, and we can get several glassesful to drink there. And ginger
cookies to your heart’s content, Kay.”

“Can’t we—speed up a little?” urged Katherine on the strength of that;
“if we just double our steps, we’ll get there sooner.”

So the dust clouded up more thickly under their hastening footsteps, and
the mile and a half dwindled and disappeared, until there before them
was the cider mill itself, keeping guard over a little stream that
gurgled into the mill and out again.

“At last, room-mate!” hailed Katherine.

“Katherine,” hesitated Peggy, right in sight of their goal, “have
you—have you thought how much heavier the jug will be to carry back when
it is full?”

Katherine cast at her one withering glance, seized her arm, and the two
ran now, the jug bumping as it would against their knees, and the
perspiration bright on their foreheads.

“It looks like a deserted castle,” panted Peggy when they turned up the
worn pathway to the entrance of the mill. “And isn’t it quiet? Doesn’t
it usually make some kind of noise?”

“You’re thinking of the planing mill, infant,” mocked Katherine.

“Well,—I—anyway, Katherine, the door is shut.”

“It won’t be hard to open,—why can’t you—?”

“Yes, I can open it,” Peggy answered, stepping into the entrance hall
where the glasses of cider and the little packs of ginger cookies were
usually sold, “but there’s no one here now that we’re in, and it looks
more deserted than ever and there isn’t even a _crumb_ of a ginger
cooky—and I’m starved, nor a _sip_ of cider—and I’m _thirsty_!”

“Why, this is Saturday, too. What do you suppose is wrong, Peggy? I’m
absolutely dead, if I must confess it. I can’t possibly walk home
without a cool drink of cider to brace me up. I never was so hungry and
tired in my life.”

“That’s his house, I think,” Peggy nodded across the road toward a
comfortable-looking farm house.

“Do you suppose the cider man would be home?”

“Anyway,” Peggy said faintly, “his wife would, and she might have some
ginger cookies.”

They hurried down the walk and shuffled across the dusty road, feeling
that if they were disappointed now they could scarcely bear it.

They went to the side door of the farm house and knocked timidly.

“Oh, Peggy, they’re _eating_!” gasped Katherine. “I feel like a tramp. I
almost wish I was one, too, and then maybe they’d invite us in. But
isn’t it a late time to be having dinner?”

The cider man’s wife stood in the doorway now, smiling at them somewhat
impatiently.

“Did you come for cider?” she asked. “Well, about ten others have been
here before you to-day, on the same errand, but he didn’t make any
to-day. And there aren’t any ginger cookies. We didn’t have anything for
the other girls, either. I never saw anybody like you college girls—a
person feels guilty if he rests one day,—what with you all being hungry
and thirsty just the same. I’m real sorry.”

“We—we brought a jug,” said Peggy pathetically.

“Brought a jug? Ernie!” (raising her voice, and calling back into the
room where the table was). “They brought a jug.”

Ernie called back something, and a smile flitted across his wife’s face.

“He says if you want to wait till he’s through dinner, he’ll go over and
make some,” she interpreted. “We’re very late getting dinner
to-day—we’ve had so many interruptions. But if you want to wait———?”

“We’ll wait!” cried Peggy and Katherine in the same breath.

“It will be about an hour,” said the woman, closing the door.

“An hour!” Peggy and Katherine exchanged glances with deep sighs, and
trudged down the steps, and slowly back toward the mill.

The cider mill was an important institution to Hampton girls—and to
Amherst boys, if they cared to walk so far. The man who owned it seemed
to feel an especial responsibility toward college girls—as every one
does near a college town—and so he kept a counter in the entrance hall
over which he sold as much cider as a girl wanted to drink, for five
cents. One of his stalwart young helpers would fill her glass as many
times as she wished, for the single first payment.

Then there were the ginger cookies, done up in oiled paper, in packages
of a dozen, that his wife had made, and these the hungry young invaders
could purchase at ten cents a package. They seemed so much a part of it
all that cider never tastes quite perfect to Hampton graduates, to this
day, without ginger cookies. Any of the Hampton girls would have been
surprised to visit any other cider mill and find that their order for
ginger cookies was not understood.

Opposite the mill, on the same side as the farmer’s house, but farther
back, and screened all around by a circlet of trees, so that it sparkled
in the midst of them like a Corot painting, was the cool mill-pond, with
reeds and rushes growing out into it, and shady branches overhanging it.

Drawn toward this now in their search for something of interest to while
away the time, Peggy and Katherine parted the bushes and young birch
trees, and found themselves looking into the very heart of beautiful
things, with all the world of dust and disappointment and fatigue behind
them.

“That water looks cool,” murmured Peggy gladly.

“Yes; I don’t know as it’s safe drinking water, but I think we might
_wade_ in it.”

“If we have time.”

“An hour?—why of course there’s time. What else can we do to amuse
ourselves?”

They were as entirely hidden from the road and the farm house as if they
had been in another world. Without more argument, the two sat down and
Katherine slipped out of her grey pumps, and flung her grey silk
stockings after them. Peggy was wearing tan oxfords and tan stockings.

“O-oh, who would dream there could be anything so cold on such a warm
day?” gasped Peggy, trying it with her toes.

“I like this reedy, weedy part,” laughed Katherine, her feet dipping in
up to her ankles.

They sat, thus, side by side, dangling their feet like happy children,
seeking to fathom with their eyes how soon the water got deep enough to
drown them, should they step out farther, and watching idly the patterns
made by the sea-weed strands near the shore.

“What if a fish should come?” cried Katherine suddenly, and laughed at
the expedition with which Peggy’s feet came glistening up out of the
water. “Don’t be silly, Peggy,” she giggled, “fish can’t bite anything
but flies and worms.”

“Maybe the kind that would live in a mill-pond could,” said Peggy,
comfortably sliding the reassured feet back into the still water. “And
anyway, who wants to dispute habitation with a fish?”

With all manner of the gayest and most idiotic prattle they whiled away
that endless hour, and if any one had stood just outside the fringe of
little trees and had heard their voices without seeing them, he would
never in the world have guessed that such inconsequential conversation
was being indulged in by two freshmen in good standing of the largest
woman’s college in America; girls who would be candidates for the degree
within four years and who were even now in the process of being moulded
into “intelligent gentlewomen.”

“Hasn’t that bird a funny whistle?” asked Katherine suddenly. “Listen!
He whistles just like a person!”

And as soon as the words were out of her mouth, she was covered with
confusion, for the realization came to her that it was a
person,—somebody going by on the road, probably, and they had so far
forgotten the world outside their own green hedge that it had startled
them.

“I’m going to peek out,” said Peggy. Thrusting the leaves aside, she
made a tiny opening,—large enough for her eyes to get a clear view of
the road.

And then all of a sudden she sprang up, her face hot with excitement,
and made as if to burst through the thicket to the road itself. She
would have accomplished this had not Katherine caught her dress and
dragged her back so violently that she sat down, breathless, on the bank
of the pond, exclaiming over and over in gladness, “It’s Jim! Katherine,
it’s Jim!”

“Your shoes and stockings, child,” urged Katherine. “Put them on,
quick.”

But Peggy seized one grey and one tan stocking and on they went over her
wet feet. Then she stepped into her tan oxfords and flew out from
shelter.

Katherine looked helplessly after the retreating Peggy, and then down at
the assorted pair of stockings left for her. “There seems to be nothing
to do but put them on,” she sighed resignedly. In a few minutes she
emerged from the shadows with as much dignity as she could assume.

And there down the road was Peggy, the full blaze of the autumn sun on
her golden head, her eager face uplifted and aglow, and towering above
her two good-looking young men, apparently oblivious to everything
except this strange and vivacious little apparition that had burst so
suddenly upon them.

One, Katherine recognized at once as Jim Huntington Smith, the grandson
of old Mr. Huntington, whom they had known last year at Andrews, and
through whose generosity Peggy had been enabled to come to college.

The two girls had been the means of discovering Jim’s relationship to
the owner of “Gloomy House,” as the old Huntington place was known, and
of re-uniting these two members of the same family.

So they regarded Jim as very much their property; as they might look
upon some handsome older cousin.

Peggy was waving an arm back towards the pond, and the boys were
laughing. Then as she went on with her gesticulations they looked up and
saw Katherine.

Katherine had been shrinking back against the trees that lined the
water, very conscious of the one tan stocking and the other grey one.
She was trying to make up her mind whether to go forward and divert
Peggy some way so that she would let these boys go, and would come back
and change stockings, or whether she should go back and hide, and run
the risk of having the whole joyous trio down the road charge upon her
unexpectedly.

It was all settled for her now.

Jim swung his cap in the air and started toward her, while Peggy and the
other young man followed more slowly. And even at such a time Katherine
couldn’t help noticing the funny little way Peggy’s eye-lashes kept
sweeping down and up again, and how pretty and pink her face was.

“Oh,” smiled Katherine to herself, “if she should suddenly wake up and
notice her own feet.”

“Well, Katherine Foster, how are you?” Jim was saying, wringing her hand
heartily. “This is certainly fine. Bud and I walked over from Amherst to
get some cider, but found there was none to be had. But meeting you
people compensates for it all.”

“Oh, but there’s going to be some cider, too,” Katherine informed him;
“that’s what we’re waiting for. The man is just finishing his dinner and
he promised to come over and make some for us. I hope he’ll let us watch
him—I never saw any cider made.”

“We’ll stick around.”

“Do—and maybe———”

“Well?”

“Maybe you’ll help us carry our jug home. It’s just inside the trees
there.”

“I should say we will. It turns out to be mutually lucky that we met; we
have the advantage of cider being made and you get your jug carried
home. How’s Hampton anyway? Like it as well as you thought you would?
Peggy has sent me a post-card now and then, but they all say the
regulation thing: ‘Having a glorious time, the cross is our room,’
‘Perfectly lovely up here, nice weather for ducks,’—you know the kind.”

Katherine laughed. She remembered the day she and Peggy had picked out a
complete set of post-cards with Hampton views, and how they had been in
the habit of dispatching them with the most bromidic messages they could
think of, to their friend at Amherst.

“We just did it for fun,” she told him now. “We wanted to embarrass you
before the other fellows by having a perfect flood of the usual type of
post-cards coming in from a girls’ college. We thought you’d know. Why,
we even signed them all sorts of different things—‘Essie,’ and ‘Jennie’
and ‘Millicent’ and——”

“And Marmalade,” added Jim with a twinkle in his eye. “I have them all,
making a border around my room. The other boys are green with envy.
They——”

At this moment Peggy and her companion reached them, and Peggy
interrupted Jim in perfect unconcern.

“Katherine, I want you to meet Mr. Bevington, of Amherst college; Mr.
Bevington, this is Miss Foster, my room-mate.”

“Awfully pleased to meet you,” murmured the Bevington youth over
Katherine’s hand.

“You may not be when you know what your friend, Jim, has volunteered for
you,” laughed Katherine.

“It couldn’t make any difference.”

“He’s promised that you and he will carry our cider jug home for us when
we get it filled.”

“Has he?” cried Peggy delightedly. “Oh, that’s going to be lovely. It
was awfully heavy, Mr. Bevington, when we were dragging it over here. At
first it seemed as light as a feather, but before we had traveled a mile
it became as heavy and awkward as a cannon ball.”

“So you see,” Katherine turned and laughed up at Bud Bevington, “there’s
an awful task ahead of you.”

But of course both young men were delighted to carry any burden for two
such charming young ladies, and as they started back toward the mill the
talk veered to other subjects and ranged from sports to house dances,
when the owner of the mill came up to them.

“Are you the college girls that wanted the cider?” he asked jovially.

“Two of us are,” Peggy answered primly. “But all of us would like to
come and watch you make it if we may.”

“You can help,” answered the man.

So with that delightful prospect ahead of them, they entered the
rambling building, dim except where the sunlight found a crack between
the dusty boards and streamed weakly in.

They followed the man up a winding stairway, that was like climbing to
some quaint old attic. There was one place where they could look down
and see the black, gold-specked water rushing away under the stairs. It
gave Peggy a creepy feeling. The specks of gold were dots of light that
fell into its darkness.

“It—makes an awful roaring noise—kind of subterranean sound,” murmured
Katherine, but nobody heard her, because of the rush of the stream.

When they reached the loft above, they stood to one side waiting for the
man to begin.

“The young ladies are going to make the cider,” he said.

“Oh,” cried Peggy, “that’s fine, but how do we begin?”

The man hauled over several large sacks of apples, lifted a round cover
in the floor, bringing to view a kind of chute.

“Pour them apples down there,” he invited.

With the assistance of the boys, they lifted the sacks and the apples
went tumbling down through the opening. But Peggy and Katherine were
aghast to see what kind of apples they were.

“Why, some of those I poured down were just—_awfully_ bad,” declared
Peggy. “In fact, quite decomposed,” she added facetiously.

“Don’t they get sorted out down below?” Katherine inquired anxiously
when the last of the sacks had been emptied.

But the cider man only laughed.

When they went down, the apples fell into a kind of wagon without
wheels, which moved slowly by machinery, till it reached a certain
place, where heavy weights came down from above and slowly crushed the
fruit. Very soon a small stream of clear amber juice ran down a trough
and into a large hogshead.

The cider man filled their jug, and then gave them each a glass, and
told them to drink all they wanted from the hogshead, without additional
charge, since he had made the cider just for them.

Sweet, clear and refreshing as any cider in the world, this came to
their thirsty lips. And yet—the girls thought they had never enjoyed
cider less. The memory of that collection of apples that had gone
hurtling down the chute!

The boys, however, were enthusiastic, because Peggy and Katherine had
made it, and they praised it highly enough so that the kindly owner of
the mill did not notice the heroic efforts of his two feminine guests to
seem appreciative.

Out into the sunlight again the little party came, Jim carrying the jug
nonchalantly on his shoulder.

“Rebecca at the well,” he laughed; “here she is in moving pictures.”

And the others laughed, too, and began the long walk toward Hampton, as
refreshed as if they were just starting out for the day.

The farmer stood in the doorway of his mill, and watched the departure
with a friendly smile.

There is nothing so wonderfully satisfying as college Saturday
afternoon, with all lessons forgotten—and only a restful Sunday in the
immediate future. And such a perfect fall day as this!

The friends strolled leisurely along, enjoying the brilliant coloring of
the trees, and the beautiful golden sunlight of a late October
afternoon.

They had nearly reached Hampton village and Katherine was beginning to
think that Peggy would reach Ambler House without discovering her
mistake about the stockings when, with a thrill of horror, she heard her
say, “Look at my feet, how _dusty_ they are—you couldn’t tell _what_
color shoes I had on.”

“But, oh, dear, if they aren’t blind they can tell what color
_stockings_,” moaned Katherine to herself.

Politely Jim and their new friend glanced down at the dusty oxfords.

Jim gave a start and was about to speak, when Katherine saw him suddenly
look at her feet, too. His eyes twinkled.

“Is that a—new fad?” he asked finally. “A fellow would never dare adopt
anything so radical.”

“Is what a new fad?” demanded the unconscious Peggy, and then she looked
down and saw.

Her face burned with a quick red, but she laughed infectiously. “We—we
went wading, and I suppose I did this when I saw you, Jim, so it’s all
his fault. Kay dear, can you forgive?”

Jim and Bud laughed with her, and of course the devoted Katherine
forgave on the spot.

Young men are not allowed to linger in the grounds at Hampton, so the
adieus were quickly said and Peggy and Katherine hurried across the
campus to Ambler House.

No sooner had they reached their room than word went down the hall that
there was cider in room 22, and one by one the girls on the second floor
found excuses to drop into Peggy’s and Katherine’s room. They were most
generously supplied with cider, as they hoped they would be, and Peggy
and Katherine had no wish to keep any of it for themselves, after they
had seen the sort of apples that went into it.

“Funny thing,” said Peggy sadly as they were dressing for the evening
later, “I don’t believe I’ll ever like cider so very much again.”

“No,” agreed Katherine, “the safest way to do, if you want to keep your
enthusiasm for anything, is not to know how it’s made.”

“You’re right. I’ll shut my eyes more after this,” laughed Peggy, “but
anyway, dear room-mate, we had an awfully nice time, didn’t we?”

“Oh, so, so,” answered Katherine noncommittally.



CHAPTER IX—THE HOUSE DANCE


It seemed no time at all to Peggy, after the Indian summer passed, that
winter rushed upon them and shriveled them up on their way to classes,
and blew powdered snow in their faces when they went for their walks.

“There’s only one thing I can think of to brighten things up,” wailed
Doris Winterbean one day, “so that we’ll all carry away pleasant
memories of the place for Christmas.”

“Well, what’s that?” asked Peggy, without interest, for each day of hers
was as full of good times as it could be, and she thought she wouldn’t
need pleasant things to remember over the holidays anyway, because she
would be enjoying herself so much during them that it would crowd all
thoughts of past and future, too, out of her head.

“A house dance,” said Doris thrillingly.

Peggy was all interest now.

“Would they—could we get one up before Christmas?” she asked. “But
then,” the brightness faded from her eyes, “I have to lead half of the
time and I’m not tall enough, so it really doesn’t matter as much to me
as it might.”

“Oh, pshaw,” exclaimed Doris, “I didn’t mean that kind of a dance. Not
just girls, you know.”

“No-o?” said Peggy cautiously.

“Of course not.”

“Well, whom then?”

“Oh, people from Amherst or Williams—or Dartmouth or wherever we can get
them.”

“You mean a _man_ dance?”

“Yes.”

“Well, let’s have it right away.”

“I don’t know anybody to ask, except a young prep school boy, but——”

“Oh, I’ll have Jim bring over a lot of people from Amherst, and we can
decorate the room with purple in their honor, and then we can all sing
their songs when the dancing is over.”

The plans for the dance were soon being elaborately laid by every
Amblerite. The matron said it must be in the afternoon. So they set a
convenient Saturday, and dispatched their invitations informally over
the telephone. Jim responded so nobly to the appeal Peggy made to him,
that he rounded up half a dozen football stars and glee club men for the
partners of the girls who didn’t know anybody within telephoning
distance.

“I’ll bring the whole frat, if you say so,” came Jim’s cheerful voice
over the wire. “Half of them can’t dance to amount to anything, but they
can stand around and be ornamental—and fetch and carry ices.”

“Well, our dancing isn’t a thing of beauty and a joy forever either, but
that won’t keep us off the floor. Bring anybody you like, that is, of
the kind I mentioned, but they must be willing.”

“_Willing_? Can you take care of all Amherst if I bring it?”

“_Yes_,” responded Peggy enthusiastically. “_We_ could, but there
wouldn’t be ices enough.”

“Oh, well,” laughed Jim, “you can’t expect us to come without ices.”

“I suppose not.”

“Well, you expect us Saturday. Six of us anyway. I’ll bring the crowd
over in my machine.”

“Oh, _Jim_! Have you a machine?”

“Better believe I have. And some day, when the weather is fine, I’ll
take you riding.”

“Oh, goody! What kind is it?”

“A Ford.”

And Peggy hung up the receiver on the laugh that drifted to her over the
wire.

She climbed to her room and sank silently down on the window seat.

All the recitations of Saturday morning dragged unaccountably whenever
an Ambler House girl was called on.

They were too eager for classes to be over and the time for the dance to
come, to take a great interest in dative and accusative cases, or in the
sum of the angles of right angle triangles.

“I’m going to dress as carefully as I _can_,” said Peggy, scrubbing her
happy face until it shone.

“Yes, do, dear, and please take time to put on stockings that are
mates,” laughed Katherine as she laid a dainty afternoon dress upon the
bed and removed her pumps from their shoe-trees.

After many little pats on ruffles and curls Peggy and Katherine were
dressed at last, and stood before their mirrors almost satisfied.

Then Katherine went downstairs to see if the girls needed any last help
with the decorations.

Hazel Pilcher stuck her head in at Peggy’s door.

“Ready?” she called.

Peggy swung from the mirror and bowed to her, laughing.

“As ready as I can be,” she said. “Hazel, you look simply wonderful. You
look—like somebody in the movies or on the stage.”

“Well,” said Hazel easily. “_You_ might look prettier than you do,
Peggy; you don’t make the most of yourself.”

Peggy turned her disappointed gaze back to the mirror.

“Come down to my room and I’ll just fix you up a little,” said Hazel.

Now Hazel’s ideas of dress, and those of the rest of the girls in the
house, widely differed. For she always bought the most extreme styles in
hats and suits, and she always adopted the most exaggerated new
mannerisms of walking and talking.

So Peggy was inclined to be doubtful of the value of her assistance, but
Hazel urged her, so she finally went down to her room.

Here, Hazel uncorked several delightful-looking little jars.

“You’d better shut your eyes,” warned she, and a minute later something
cool was sliding along Peggy’s eye-lashes, and then she felt it again,
going over her eye-brows.

She knew in a horrible moment just what was happening, but the foolish
wish to look as wonderful as possible, held her silent, and prevented
the protest that had sprung to her lips.

“And now,” said Hazel, in a matter-of-fact way, “your lips.”

And Peggy watched fascinatedly in a hand-glass while the dainty, scented
little red pencil made its crimson imprint on her mouth.

“And—just a touch on your cheeks,” said Hazel again.

“No,” said Peggy, “that would be too absurd; I won’t——”

“Well,” conceded Hazel, laughing, “you don’t really need it; your face
is as red as fire now. You seem to think your looks are very much
changed. But they’re just improved. Everybody will still _recognize_
you, you know, Peggy, infant.”

“They’re here; they’re here,” an excited buzz went through the second
floor, at the word of some generous messenger, who had run up for a
minute from below, to spread the news.

Peggy forgot everything in the haste she made to get down to greet the
boys, for she was responsible for the coming of a large number of the
guests, and she thought how peculiar Jim would think it if she were not
even there to welcome them.

“Jim,” she cried, holding out her hand. “I’m awfully glad to see you.
And Mr. Bevington, too. No, you’re not a bit early. We’ve been upstairs
twiddling our thumbs and wondering why in the world—we thought the Ford
must have broken down, you know,” she added as she opened the door into
the big reception room, which looked very lovely with its many purple
banners.

With the handsome Amherst contingent at her heels, Peggy carried her
small curly head high while a pardonable pride shone in her eyes.

A gasp went up from the groups of girls, who were standing about in
different parts of the big room, talking to the few guests who had
arrived before the Amherst men.

“Look what Peggy Parsons has with her,” murmured Doris Winterbean to
Florence Thomas, while the small princess advanced, chatting with her
subjects.

Never had such a fine set of young men descended upon Ambler—or any
other campus house, for any occasion except the incomparable annual
occasion of Junior prom.

“Doris, let me present Mr. Bevington, who plays on the football team;
and Mr. Mason, the president of the dramatic club, and Mr. Brown, the
one who wrote that article we were all so crazy about in their paper.”

Thus the introductions went on, and the girls who met these heroes would
have been tongue-tied before such greatness had not Peggy, before she
left them, raised them also to eminence. Miss Winterbean was the one who
had invented the Lilian Walker waltz the girls would teach their guests
that afternoon; Miss Thomas, of course, was the vice-president of the
freshman class—“the best class——” Peggy leaned over and whispered it, so
that the girls who were not members of it shouldn’t hear,——“the best
class that had ever come to Hampton.” Miss Pilcher was the house
entertainer, and could play anything that was written, for a piano.

Hearing themselves thus praised, the girls took heart and laughed
happily up into the faces of the men as the music began.

“My Little Dream Girl” caught them up into its delightful, sweet rhythm,
and with such partners as they had not enjoyed before in college, the
Hampton girls were swung out across the floor.

To Peggy, laughing up at Bud Bevington, it seemed that the whole world
was dancing. He knew so many funny steps, and threaded his way so
dangerously among the other couples, doubling the time, and then going
even faster, until their one-step was simply a run-step as fast as they
could go.

“You—you think—this is a football field,” gasped Peggy, when she could
speak at all. “I—I’m half dead—I know now how it feels to be a
football.”

“You mean I’ve been kicking you,—did I hit your foot, really?”

Bud was contrition itself.

“N-no, certainly you didn’t; how could you when they went so fast? I
mean you have been making a goal with me.”

“I hope the goal is a long way off,” laughed the football man.

They had gone around nearly twice more, when he bent and said suddenly
in Peggy’s ear, “Who is our cross-looking friend in the doorway with the
Charley Chaplin scowl?”

“Man or woman?” asked Peggy.

“Woman,” he answered.

“Well, I see quite a group of our house-matron in the doorway—but she is
probably only one, but if you don’t stop running with me so fast I can’t
be really sure whether there are ten of her or just one.”

Noticeably slackening his pace, he glanced again toward the matron.

“Still looks ominous,” he warned.

“You must come over and meet her—but let’s go very slowly for a while,
till the atmosphere clears a little.”

When they finally approached the matron, she smiled at Bud Bevington—who
could help it? And Peggy was able to get her breath, while the two
talked for a few minutes.

Peggy danced every dance, sometimes in the large reception room with all
the others, and sometimes in the alcove parlor off at one end, where new
steps could be tried without any onlookers, if failure resulted.

She noticed that several of her partners looked at her rather intently,
and she fervently hoped it was because she looked very nice. But there
was usually a fleeting smile that baffled her. No, it was something
besides admiration—or a new kind of admiration or something—oh, she
would give up trying to account for it, and just have a good time.

So she danced with every guest and enjoyed her ices, and said good-bye
to the boys with great reluctance, and pressed her nose against the
window pane to see the last of them.

Jim, glancing back, as he started the machine—which wasn’t a Ford at
all—saw her and waved.

The machine chugged off, and she went upstairs with a happy sigh and a
little regretful that their house dance was over.

When she reached her room, Katherine, who had preceded her, gave her one
startled glance, and then burst out laughing.

“Oh, you look awful, child,” she said, “whatever happened to you?”

And Peggy rushed to the mirror.

Horror of horrors—what—and then she remembered! Those eye-lashes and
eye-brows that Hazel had put on so carefully—and those lips, too—had
run! The black wavered down greasily from her eyes, making weird dark
lines. The mouth with which she had so carelessly eaten ices was—a good
deal to one side now.

“I forgot,” murmured Peggy, and that was all she was able to say, and
this she repeated miserably at intervals, while Katherine dipped a towel
in the water pitcher and began applying it to the beautifiers.

“Don’t tell me until you want to,” said Katherine, trying to keep the
giggles back, and to speak sympathetically. “It isn’t so very bad—just
kind of—wavy.”

“Well,” moaned Peggy, “Hazel Pilcher put it on. I can’t think how I came
to let her, and—it must have been awfully poor make-up and got
so—warm——!”

Her explanation ended in a sob and she jerked away from Katherine’s
ministrations, and flung herself a crying heap upon the couch.

“Oh, Katherine! and I thought I looked so nice! Oh, they all saw and
_knew_, and the ones I just met to-day couldn’t know but I marked up my
face like that always. It’s—it’s awful—I wish I had never come to
college—I wish I’d never seen an Amherst man—or Hazel Pilcher either.
What shall I do?”

“Jim knows,” Katherine soothed.

“B-but he’ll be ashamed of me,” moaned Peggy.

“He won’t either. He’ll just think it’s funny,” Katherine tried to
comfort her.

“Funny! Oh, dear, and I suppose it is—but not to me. And Bud
Bevington—every time he’s seen me there’s been something—r-ridiculous
about me!”

Peggy shook with sobs, and hid her face in the cushions of the window
seat, sure that she would never take any pleasure in life again.

She wouldn’t go down to dinner, so Katherine had it sent up on a tray,
and though Peggy felt that she really wasn’t the tiniest bit hungry, she
ate all that was brought to her, and almost wished she had decided to go
down after all, because then she might have asked for a second helping.

Katherine and the other freshmen made up an impromptu party to go to a
picture show that evening, but Peggy could not be persuaded to join
them.

“I never knew her to sulk before,” said Florence Thomas. “What in the
world is the matter with her?”

“Sulk,” cried Katherine indignantly, “why Peggy doesn’t know how to
_sulk_. She—she just had a very sad thing happen to her, and you’d cry,
too, if it happened to you, only you wouldn’t get over it as soon as
Peggy will.”

The picture show wasn’t a great deal of fun for Katherine when most of
her thoughts were drifting back to her poor room-mate. The rest of the
girls laughed and cried at little Mary Pickford’s pathos and drollery,
but she felt it difficult to keep her attention on the screen, and was
almost glad when it was over, and they could hurry back to Ambler House.

The door of Suite 22 stood open, all the lights blazed forth, the sound
of happy laughter came to her ears and the unmistakable perfume of
American beauty roses greeted her nostrils.

“Peggy!” she cried, as she entered the room, to find every available
vase full of the most gorgeous roses she had ever seen, and an
appreciative sophomore and junior court listening to the tale of Peggy’s
sad experiences of the afternoon.

“You little wretch,” she said, shaking her fist at her room-mate in mock
rage, “when you get _me_ to sympathize with you again, you’ll know it.
It’s just a joke now, isn’t it, but, girls, she was crying her eyes out
over it an hour or so ago.”

“Th-that’s just what I’ve been telling them,” cried Peggy, “and now I
can’t think how I could.”

“Well, what’s made the change?” Katherine demanded.

Iva Belmington and Hazel Pilcher waved magnificently toward the
overladen vases and water pitchers. “Those,” they said simply.

And at the same time Peggy poured a shower of cards into her lap, and,
taking them up, she read, one after the other, the names of all the six
boys from Amherst who had come to their dance that afternoon.

“Wasn’t it _lovely_?” cried Peggy. “They evidently left the order at the
florist’s when they drove through the town. Look at Jim’s card,
Katherine, he wrote something on it.”

From the assortment in her lap, Katherine selected the card which read
Mr. James Huntington Smith, and there sure enough across the top of it
were the words in pencil, “With appreciation for a very jolly
afternoon.”

“Well,—but they must have seen, just the same,” hinted the practical
Katherine.

“Oh, but they didn’t _mind_!” returned her radiant room-mate.



CHAPTER X—TINSEL AND SPANGLES


“My mother is coming.”

Lilian Moore made the announcement to Peggy in a tone of mingled joy and
reluctance.

The Christmas holidays were over and the fearsome midyear examinations
were things of the past. The dullest of the three terms had settled into
full swing—day after day of white earth and grey sky.

The Ambler House girls had been having a Wednesday evening frolic down
in the parlor, with the piano banging and gay voices shouting out their
musical defiance of dullness in general.

“She writes that she’s coming for just a day to see a little bit of
college for herself,” went on Lilian. “Peggy—she’ll—be disappointed
in—my grandeur. You see, I raved so about everything when I was home at
Christmas time. I guess it may hurt her feelings to see that I’m not—one
of the foremost people in my class.”

Lilian essayed a laugh that broke into a sob.

Myra Whitewell, who stood near, impatiently turned away. “I never knew
anybody to be so incessantly humble in my life. You really do make me
tired, Lilian. Haven’t we all liked you for a long time——? You young
Stupid, don’t you know that we all have to take _some_ steps toward
popularity ourselves? Don’t you know that we are _all_ outsiders when we
come here, and it depends at least _partly_ on ourselves whether we ever
become insiders? You are always bringing up the same thing.”

Peggy laughed at these two who had never learned to become entirely
reconciled to each other even after all the close association of living
together in the same house. Myra was so impatient and so proud; so well
equipped with a good opinion of herself, while Lilian was almost
maddeningly willing to be trodden under foot on every occasion.

“Mother says maybe she can absorb a little of college for herself,”
Lilian mused, not heeding Myra’s cutting comment, for she had grown used
to them.

“When is she coming?” asked Katherine, who glanced around the room of
singing girls, and tried to imagine what impression it might make on one
who was not a girl any longer, and was seeing it for the first time.

“To-morrow,” answered Lilian, with that same note of doubt in her voice.

“Well,” said Katherine, her eyes still on the shouting young women who
rocked to the music they sang, while the piano did its best to be heard
above them, “I think we can show her a good time.”

“Will you help me, girls?” cried Lilian, brightening in sudden
gratitude.

“Why, of course,” said Katherine, “any guest of any of us is a guest of
the house—that is, if the one who is entertaining wants it to be so.”

“I haven’t much for to-morrow,” said Peggy quickly. “I know you have
several recitations, Lilian,—we’ll see that she is taken care of every
minute from the time she arrives until she leaves us, weeping.”

Peggy’s enthusiasm was beginning to carry her away.

“Let’s go and plan out the hours,” she said to the rest of the
group—“just like those schedules they publish in the papers of the way
certain great people—and criminals—spend their days: thus, 9 a. m., has
breakfast on tray; 10 a. m., sees dressmakers and milliners; 11 a. m.,
rides in automobile, under guard——”

Lilian was laughing, all her doubts vanished.

Even Myra entered into the plans with spirit.

And never had a celebrity been met by a more enthusiastic crowd than was
gathered at the Hampton station to meet the frail and fluttering little
woman who stepped down from the 9:10.

Her eyes, shy and yet full of anticipation, were searching for Lilian,
who fairly flew down the platform, the happy bevy of girls keeping close
behind.

After Lilian had kissed her mother, each girl, as her name was spoken,
wrung her hand with such goodwill and welcome that poor little Mrs.
Moore realized that she would probably have rheumatism in her fingers
for days, as a result. But her worn cheeks flushed with pleasure.

Whose would not, at such a reception when she had expected to be merely
a spectator during her single day’s stay?

She was borne first to Lilian’s room.

Entering Ambler House, her eyes glowed, and she turned her head to look
after a merry group that came running down the steps, their books under
their arms. Through the great hall, the floor shining and smooth, with
handsome rugs to give color here and there—and up the broad stairs the
little procession wended its way.

And Lilian could hardly restrain a cry of surprise as she and her
mother, followed by the faithful escort, stepped inside her room.

On the dresser was an adorable bunch of violets with inviting purple
pins beside it.

“Some one has sent you flowers?” cried little Mrs. Moore, noticing
these, even before she took note of the dainty green and white curtains,
and the green denim couch cover, that Peggy and Katherine had been
inspired to supply.

“No, they didn’t,” cried Peggy from the doorway. “They didn’t send _her_
the flowers,—look on the card!”

And when Mrs. Moore picked up the card that lay beside the pins, she
read aloud, “For Mrs. Moore; welcome to Hampton, from one of Lilian’s
friends, Myra Whitewell.”

If you could have seen the look of pleasure with which the little woman
lifted those fragrant flowers, and with shaking fingers fastened them to
her girdle! Oh, precious first impression of college! How it crept into
her heart with the fragrance of those violets—quite the nicest thing
that had ever come to her in her care-worn, workaday life!

Lilian’s own face was suffused.

That Myra, of all people, should have been so dear and thoughtful! And,
a moment since Lilian had been harboring a rather bitter and unkind
thought against the black-haired freshman.

For Myra was the only one of the Ambler House “crowd” who had not been
at the station to meet her mother. Lilian felt hurt. But now, she
remembered Myra’s chemistry laboratory, that was in full session at this
moment—and to her, also, a new feeling came with the odor of those
violets.

She thought, with quick gratitude, that nothing she could ever do for
Myra would be too much now to repay her for that glad and surprised
light in her mother’s eyes.

“And now, Mrs. Moore, you’re going to be handed from one to another of
us, hour by hour,” laughingly explained Peggy. “Your daughter has some
classes that she really feels she _must_ attend. Ordinary classes we
could all cut with pleasure, but Lilian’s this morning happen to include
math, and Lilian is—well, she doesn’t know a triangle from a piece of
fudge, Mrs. Moore——”

She broke off, giggling, and fled down the corridor to escape Lilian,
who pursued with pretended rage, at her daring thus to lay bare her
mathematical shortcomings to her trusting mother.

“So,” Katherine took up the story of the adventures that were to form
Mrs. Moore’s great day, “you are to walk with me, please,—if you will,
down Elm street and down West street a bit, and Green street, and then
you will have seen all the part of town that belongs to college life
that is outside Campus—invitation houses, undesirables and all. Then at
eleven I shall turn you over to Peggy and Hazel Pilcher, at the campus
gate, and they will show you through the new library and chapel and the
Art building annex. That’s as far into the future as you are allowed to
peep.”

“It sounds very alluring,” murmured Mrs. Moore, whose eyes were still
bulging, from the sight of her staid and quiet Lilian pursuing and
pounding the fair-haired Peggy.

The company of the girls was more to her than the sightseeing itself,
and she found herself swept along by the gay hilarity of whoever
happened to be her escort. She forgot that her hair was as grey as
theirs was black or golden; she forgot that she had believed her time
for gaiety was over.

In the big library she paused, hushed, before the sight of many graceful
figures bending in silent absorption over the volumes that lay in their
laps or before them on the massive tables. She could not guess, in her
awe of such an intellectual atmosphere, that fully a third of these
diligent readers were bowed over Arnold Bennett and Gilbert Parker,
instead of the volumes of deep learning she fancied.

“I wonder if the matron will let me ask Mother to the House to lunch,”
puzzled Lilian, a little later, when she met them, after the tour of the
campus was complete. “I haven’t had time to ask her and there may not be
a place.”

“There will be lots of places, but your mother and we won’t be there to
fill them,” said Peggy quickly. “Gloria has invited us down to Boyd’s
for a real party.”

“Beef steak and French fried potatoes—and peas?” cried Hazel. “A real
one?”

“That’s just it,” said Peggy, slightly disappointed that her friend had
been so quick to guess. “How did you know? I was the only one with
Gloria when she telephoned the order.”

“How did I know!” scoffed Hazel, “as if anybody that knew what was best
would dream of ordering anything else at Boyd’s.”

Boyd’s was the popular restaurant, where the girls trooped in to
luncheon whenever the allowance from home seemed to justify such a
luxury, where they sat on Saturday evenings, their white shoulders
gleaming above the white silk, green chiffon and blue crêpe de Chine of
their very best dresses.

“Are we really—invited by—Gloria?” questioned Lilian, halting before the
luminous name of the freshman president. “Isn’t that wonderful of her to
give a party for Mother!”

Gloria, adorable in white furs, met them at the doorway of Boyd’s, and
greeted Mrs. Moore with her own delightful impulsiveness.

“I’m so glad to know you, Mrs. Moore,” she said with that pretty
earnestness for which Gloria was famed throughout the freshman class.
“It was awfully good of the girls to let me have you for a luncheon
party. You know, mothers are scarce around these parts, and if we can’t
have our own, we lie awake nights planning the best way to ensnare
somebody else’s, whenever one comes visiting. So please excuse us if we
act as if you belonged to us all instead of just to Lilian.”

And Mrs. Moore looked straight into the clear-blue eyes of the tall
red-haired idol of the freshmen, and said she was only too glad to be
adopted by any and all of her daughter’s friends.

Something went grey and blank in Gloria’s wonderful eyes before her
searching gaze, and the lashes swept down. The tall, graceful figure
drew itself more erect, as if she were on guard in some way. And Mrs.
Moore dropped the warm hand she had been holding, with a sigh.

The beautiful hostess led the way upstairs into the dining room and was
shown to a long table that had been reserved for her.

With much throwing aside of velvet coats and furs, the friends seated
themselves around the guest of honor and leaned forward, their elbows
quite frankly on the table.

Every girl was laughing and talking, with the single exception of Gloria
herself. As the little luncheon progressed, with the whole table in a
happy uproar, Gloria’s abstraction became more and more noticeable.

Celebrities are entitled to their moods. So no one spoke of Gloria’s for
some time.

Then Peggy leaned over and whispered, “Come back to us, won’t you?”

And Gloria’s face was swept with sudden color.

She turned startled eyes on Peggy’s laughing face. Then she shook her
shoulders as if she might free herself from some unpleasant thought.

“I—wouldn’t be anywhere else—for a farm,” she said.

“Oh, well,” murmured Peggy to herself, “it wasn’t anything but my
imagination. What could Gloria possibly have to bother her? Maybe she
didn’t have her history or her Greek to-day. She’s just the one to mind
it a lot, if she didn’t always excel in the classroom.”

After the wonderful ice-cream and the dear little French pastries had
been consumed, with much delight by the girls and with wistful enjoyment
on the part of Mrs. Moore, the check was laid by Gloria’s plate, with
the deferential air the waitresses always used to a very good customer.

Gloria, without glancing at the total, motioned for a pencil, and
scribbled her name and the name of her house across it.

Then she slid into the soft coat Katherine held for her, and while Peggy
and Hazel and Myra were still busy patting Mrs. Moore into her things,
she moved idly toward the stairs, her eyes glancing over the crowded
dining-room as listlessly as if she were not a celebrity at all. Hushed
groups watched her pass and admiration and affection shone in fifty
pairs of eyes.

“Honestly, girls,” she caught a distinct murmur, “I just can’t talk
while she’s going by. Did you ever see anything so wonderful?”

“She’s the best-looking girl in college,” came the rapt answer from
another girl at the same table.

But this incense drifted past Gloria without making any particular
impression.

The first few days of her presidency she had enjoyed with a frank
egotism that had pleased Peggy and had caused Katherine many amused
smiles.

But she was accustomed to it all now. There is no class in college so
breathlessly eager to bestow devotion as the first class, and when the
admired person is one of their very own, an added quality of loyalty and
unswerving devotion creeps in.

“I just don’t believe that girl ever did a mean or silly thing in her
life,” the voice followed Gloria as she started downstairs, with the
rest of her party in her wake.

“I don’t believe she’d have any use for a _minute_ for a girl who didn’t
live right up to her ideals. You know, she’s one of the advantages of
college,—she and girls like her—we can see what we _might_ be anyway,
even if few of us really come within a mile of it.”

Was there a trace of bitterness about that vivid and gracious mouth of
Gloria’s? Did she really hurry a little to be out of earshot of those
praises that, however ridiculous, would once have been sweet?

At the foot of the stairs she waited for Mrs. Moore. She bade her
good-bye prettily, saying she must remain downtown for some shopping,
and that she hoped they’d all see Mrs. Moore in Hampton again—a great
many times.

“My dear, I want to thank you for a _beautiful_ luncheon,” Mrs. Moore
smiled up into the lovely face with that quaint way she had. “I do
indeed wish I might stay right now, and live in town somewhere so that I
could get to know the girls better. And I think a sort of
Everybody’s-Mother would be a good thing for many of the students.”

But if she had hoped to bring a hint of the desire for confidence from
Gloria she was disappointed.

Gloria’s eyes took on that odd grey blankness again, and though she
nodded politely and pressed Mrs. Moore’s hand warmly, there was not a
trace of that electric circuit between them which it was so easy to
establish with Peggy and Katherine or most of the other girls.

“She’s very cold—and proud,” mused Mrs. Moore, glancing in a puzzled way
at the retreating back of Gloria.

Lilian was the sort of girl any one could understand. When she felt
badly she would cry, when she didn’t she’d laugh. If she liked any one,
she showed it, and if she disliked any one she nearly made faces at
them, her distaste was so apparent.

Gloria Hazeltine was a new specimen to Lilian’s mother. She discovered
with her woman’s intuition that something was troubling the young girl.
She wanted so much to help her. But she could do nothing before such icy
reserve.

“What—happens to me now?” she turned to Peggy and said, as they went to
the outer door of the restaurant. “I suppose we go back to the college?”

“No,” said Peggy, peering anxiously down the street outside. “No, your
sightseeing goes on from here. But I don’t see—what ought to be here.”

“Have you ordered a machine, Peggy?” asked Lilian in awe and happy
expectation.

Peggy’s laugh rang out. “Well, not exactly ordered it,” she explained,
“but hinted for it. It’s Jim’s, and he promised to bring it over from
Amherst and meet us here at 2 o’clock. He’s five minutes late.
That’s—oh, there he is. Come on, Mrs. Moore, come on, Lilian and
Katherine and Myra Whitewell and Doris Winterbean. Hazel, I’m sorry you
have classes.”

Unselfishly she handed Mrs. Moore into the front seat beside Jim, sure
that it would add to the interest of everything for her, to have this
good-looking young man explain things and deferentially point out new
attractions.

“Only an hour and a half, Jim. I want to get Mrs. Moore back to go to
Thirteen with me, and Lilian has biology at that time. You don’t think
that’s so good a show class as Thirteen, do you, Lilian?”

“Mercy, no,” hastily answered Lilian. “Not so good a show class as any
other. You don’t want to see grasshoppers cut up, do you, Mother?”

Mrs. Moore protested that she had no interest in grasshoppers under any
circumstances, so the plan to hear Thirteen stood.

“We just want to show you as many of the dear places we love to visit as
possible,” said Katherine, crossing her arms on the back of the seat
Mrs. Moore occupied. “We could never walk to more than one, but with the
machine you can see a number. Only you mustn’t suppose that we have
machines when we see them. No, indeed, we walk or we hire a nice old
poky horse and runabout from the livery stable. The horse may be almost
an extinct animal in other places, but he’s still a great favorite up
here.”

Thus she was whirled along the river road, through their favorite picnic
spots, from hamlet to hamlet while tea-house after tea-house flashed
into view and were pointed out with accompanying tales of affectionate
or funny reminiscences by the Hampton girls.

At one, a large and ugly cat was always to be expected at every party.
The woman who ran the tea-house had taken for her motto, “Love me, love
my cat,” and its baleful green eyes watched hungrily every mouthful that
passed through the patrons’ lips.

Doris remembered an afternoon when she and Gloria and the great Mary
Marvington, of the Junior class, had taken tea there, and Gloria had
unwittingly put her foot on the cat’s tail under the table, the cat
howled, and Gloria sat stonily, her face white, trying to think what
that _awful_ sound could be.

“The cat _wouldn’t_ stop howling, of course, because Gloria _didn’t_
lift her foot, and Mary Marvington was in _hysterics_, so I leaned under
the table and removed poor Gloria’s foot from the poor cat’s tail, and I
think old Tabby is running yet.”

Lilian, Katherine and Peggy screamed with delight at Doris’ very much
embellished story.

Mrs. Moore’s eyes were sparkling now, and she almost had to pinch
herself to realize that she was, for the first time in her life, in
college.

When Jim set them down outside the big recitation hall, where she was
actually to attend class with Peggy, she smoothed her coat with happy
anticipation, and perhaps the full wonder of Thirteen came to this
shabby little woman, with grey in her hair, as radiantly as it came
twice a week to these Hampton girls, who picked up snatches of
everything under the sun, and who learned without the miserable grind,
an easy style of writing that set them apart from the girls who had
never had Thirteen.

“If all their classes are like this,” thought Mrs. Moore, “I should
think they’d rave in their letters about the school part of it more than
anything else.”

But alas! Their classes all like that! Only one was like it. The others
were too apt to be nightmares of mathematics or agonies of Greek tragedy
and Lyric poets or merciless written lessons in medieval history.

Dinner at Ambler House was the next thing on Mrs. Moore’s program, and
she listened to that roar of conversation and laughter that always began
as soon as grace had been said in the dormitory dining-rooms.

Fifty-four girls, all talking and joking at once, and yet one never
heard a loud voice.

“They are nice girls,” thought Mrs. Moore.

After dinner it had been planned that Lilian should have her mother
alone until theater time, when they were all going to a musical comedy
which happened to be in town that night, direct from New York.

But Mrs. Moore, who noticed that Peggy was already dressed for the
theater, asked her quietly to come also.

“It’s about your friend; I hoped I’d have a word with you,” little Mrs.
Moore began when she and her daughter and Peggy were comfortably propped
against the cushions.

“Myra?” asked Peggy, doubtfully, for she was the only person who might
possibly occasion the sad and foreboding expression in the older woman’s
eyes.

“Myra!” echoed Mrs. Moore in astonishment, fingering the violets at her
waist, which had been revived for wear to the play. “Myra! No, indeed.
No, it was Gloria Hazeltine I was troubling over.”

Peggy laughed. “Oh, it would be very foolish troubling over _her_,” she
said; “she’s freshman president, you know——”

“Yes, I know.”

“And the prettiest girl in Hampton.”

“Undoubtedly.”

“And she’s the best dressed——”

“Of course, my notions of dress are old fashioned, but even I could see
that.”

“And she’s rich——”

“Well, I can’t help it, Peggy; I saw into that girl’s heart to-day—a
mother can—even though I’m not her mother—and she’s not happy.”

“Mother!” cried Lilian. “Why, Gloria is simply bubbling with happiness.
Don’t you think anybody would be perfectly _radiant_ who had all she
has?”

“I wonder if you couldn’t find it out, Lilian, and see if you couldn’t
help her in some way—she——”

Peggy brushed away the thought of the incongruity of Lilian Moore, very
much one of the masses in Hampton, acting as confidante and comforter to
the lofty Gloria, whose position set her up to twinkle before the
worshipful freshmen, star fashion.

“I don’t think anything is really bothering Gloria,” she said gently,
“and there’d be no way for any of us to find out what it was if there
were.”

And she changed the subject to the entertainment before them.

Ambler House had taken the first row in the balcony, for from this
vantage point the girls, their bare arms leaning on the polished rail,
could stare down and pick out their faculty friends and their celebrity
acquaintances, and, also, they got a better view of the stage, and could
hear the music to better advantage than from any other seats.

One of the girls of the house was given an orchestra ticket and was thus
bought off from her position in the theater’s “rubber row,” as their
chosen place was most inelegantly called.

“Now, Mrs. Moore, I’ll just take your coat and then you lean over and
look at anybody you like. Nobody minds being stared at. Everybody’s used
to it, and if a girl downstairs is wearing an especially good-looking
dress, she’ll stand up and turn around and gaze about the audience for a
moment so that we can be sure to get its effect. That’s what _always_
happens,” Peggy explained blithely to their guest.

Mrs. Moore hadn’t been to the theater often, anywhere. So that, in
itself, was a pleasure. But to sit in a theater crowded with girls, all
in evening dress as they would have gone to a ball, their throats and
arms white in the glare of the electric lights, was a
never-to-be-forgotten experience.

The play was a dashing affair, all beauty and melody, and the
irrepressible audience hummed the catchy airs between acts.

Also there was the customary promenade during the intermission.

The girls from the balcony went downstairs, and, threading their way
through the crowded aisles in which the girls were chatting, found the
seat of some friend and leaned gracefully near her for a few moments.

And the talk usually ambled along something like this:

“My dear! Aren’t you crazy about it? Honestly I never heard anything
like that chorus—hm, hm, hm, hm,——”

“Those costumes! My dear, did you ever see anything so fragile?
Perfectly hectic! But the colors—I’d give anything to have a winter suit
made on that grey and silver _motif_——”

“Her voice!”

“His eyes!”

“That step they did was perfectly beautiful—don’t you think we could
work it out by ourselves? Watch carefully if they bring it in again; I
can follow it all up to that little kick she does and the half turn in
the air——”

“What a perfectly stunning gown! Why in the world didn’t you save it for
Junior Prom? Well, you may have others, but I’m sure I never saw you in
anything more becoming—it’s a _darling_, Dotty; look at Helen’s _cute_
gown!”

“They say this made an awful hit in New York—do you think it’s true that
May Hastings is really going on the stage when she graduates? Why, I
should think her people would feel terribly. But it would be a thrilling
life, wouldn’t it?”

With a final burst of music, the entire company crowded the stage in one
of those hurrahing finales, and the girls from Ambler House gathered up
their wraps and made all haste for the stairs.

Outside Peggy summoned a taxi, and Mrs. Moore, Lilian, Katherine and
herself climbed in.

“The station in time for the 11:10!” she called to the chauffeur, and in
an instant Mrs. Moore was being whisked away from her one bright day of
college.

For she had not felt like incurring the extra expense of staying longer,
and Peggy and Katherine had been unable to think of a tactful means of
arranging that part of it themselves. So they had simply crowded all
they could for her into one day so that she would have a typical picture
of the rush of college life to take back to her small town with her.

“Well,” said Peggy, holding up her face to be kissed just as the train
came in, “how did you like college? What impression did it make on you?”

And little faded Mrs. Moore clasped her hands before her while her eyes
shone mistily.

“Why, I think”—her voice came huskily mingled with the throb of the
engine—“it is better than any of my dreams, and you dear girls have been
the best of all.” And then she kissed Peggy.

CHAPTER XI

A SERIOUS DISCUSSION

    “Just one college,
    And that’s the college we sing to:
    Just one college,
    And that’s the college for us!”

The egotistical song of Hampton came out to Peggy from the door of
Myra’s room when she stopped before it on her way home from class.

A comfortable fudge-eating group looked up from the Morris chair and the
couch as she entered.

“’Lo, Peggy,” said Gertie Van Gorder, interrupting the song and waving
with a piece of fudge towards an unoccupied chair. “Sit down, Peg.”

“Can’t,” said Peggy. “Is Katherine here?”

“Nope,” said Katherine’s voice from behind a pillow. “I’m up at gym
having a—c-c—brr-r—” the pillow was made to shiver—“a cold shower!”

“Come on home, Kat, you wretch,” laughed Peggy; “I’ve had a present from
Mr. Huntington.”

“_Who_,” demanded Gertie, impertinently, “is Mr. Huntington?—and why
didn’t you have him to our house dance?”

Peggy and Katherine laughed.

“He’s an old man, silly,—and one of my very best friends; in fact, he
sent me to college, and his grandson is Jim that you all met, because I
_did_ have him to the house dance.”

“Well, then,” pursued Gertie still inquisitive, “what was his present?”

“Something good?” inquired Myra, sliding to the edge of her seat.

“If it is, we’re all coming,” smiled Gertie graciously.

“Well,” Peggy admitted, “it’s—salted almonds. Five pounds of them—I
suppose———”

But she was the last one in the room. The group had fled with a rushing
sound down the hall and were already murmuring their appreciation in
Suite 22.

“Save _some_ for me,” mocked Peggy, when she overtook them.

“Nice Mr. Huntington,” said Gertie amiably, “nice, poor cheated Peggy.
Her shall have one—just one, mamma said,—slap your wrists———”

“Gertie, I’m going to put you up on the hill one of these days,” laughed
Peggy. On the hill was a certain state institution which visitors to the
town were always annoyingly mistaking for the college.

“But then, visitors are always funny,” as Gloria had once explained.
“One of them asked me where I came from and I said Iowa. She looked at
me a minute and then said, ‘Will you please say that again?’ Obligingly
I repeated ‘Iowa.’ ‘Isn’t that odd?’ she said then. ‘How strangely you
_do_ pronounce it. Now _I’ve_ always heard it called Ohio.’”

At the thought of Gloria, the salted almonds became bitter in Peggy’s
mouth, and she made a little face of distress.

“Kaddie, _do_ you think Gloria isn’t as happy as she might be?” she
inquired of her room-mate.

With the quick facility of college girls for jumping from the most inane
and frivolous pleasantries to the most serious attitude of mind,
Katherine answered thoughtfully.

“Peggy, how could she help being happy?”

This question certainly appeared a staggerer on the face of things.

“Happy?” trilled Doris Winterbean, “Why, I saw her yesterday going to
vespers in the _loveliest_ Belgian blue velvet suit mine eyes have ever
beheld. Happy! My _dear_! I’m free to say that if my own friend Self had
been clad in such Consider-the-Lilies raiment, _I’d_ have gone to
vespers _dancing_!”

“Don’t be silly,” said Peggy.

“Well,” finished Doris defiantly. “Please satisfy our curiosity and show
us how such a suspicion ever crept into that woolly little head of
yours.”

She dodged Peggy’s pillow as it came hurtling at her with good aim, and
then sat pensively with hands clasped over her knees as if to listen to
a tearful tale.

“I’d never have noticed it, I admit,” said Peggy.

“Of course not,” chorused the nut-eaters.

“You know,” interposed Katherine, “sometimes I think people who aren’t
in college, you know,—like Mrs. Moore, just can’t imagine a life like
ours, all happy and independent and so arranged that nothing serious
could _possibly_ creep in to trouble us. So if a girl seems abstracted,
or just resentful of too close scrutiny, as perhaps Gloria was, she is
apt to jump———”

“No, no, I can’t believe that,” said the foolish voice of Doris. “Mrs.
Moore wouldn’t jump. Anything that is less a tax on our credulity,
Kathie, but not that,—not _jump_.”

“Take the nuts away from that girl. They are beginning to have a bad
effect, in fact, nutty,” shrilled Peggy.

“As I was going to say,” continued Katherine imperturbably, “people like
Mrs. Moore jump at conclusions———”

“O-oh,” murmured Doris. “That explains it. I wish you’d said that
before. It’s quite all right, Kathie, now that you’ve made yourself
clear. The fault was all mine.”

“Doris,” snapped Myra Whitewell, pinching her, “will you be serious?”

“I’m so serious, I’m going home. You hurt.”

“Oh, Doris, do come back; don’t act like—like———”

“Like a freshman, I suppose? Well, I am a freshman. And I guess I will
go back to my room and be serious all by myself.”

“You needn’t go and be mad, Doris.”

“Well, you needn’t pinch me.”

Such comic dismay was registered on the faces of the group that Doris’
intention to play the spoilsport fled in a burst of laughter from her
pouting lips.

“_Gooses_!” she cried at them.

“Doris, you mean geese,” corrected Myra, “but it is no term to apply to
a group of perfect ladies anyway.”

They were back again in the favorite freshman style of badinage, and the
atmosphere that had threatened to become tense was eased perfectly.

“To go back———” began Peggy.

The rippling notes of irresponsible song came from Gertie.

“Do you think there’s any intelligence in this group of highly cultured
persons?” complained Peggy. “Because I don’t. I wanted to have you girls
help me about a real problem——”

“But not our problem, Peggy,” reminded Katherine; “in fact it’s none of
our business.”

“It’s Glory’s, Glory’s, hallelujah’s,” chanted Doris as an apropos
contribution to the talk.

“Oh, I never heard anything so perfectly baffling as you people,” cried
Peggy in despair. “Here I was going to have a serious discussion——”

“Serious discussion!” gasped Gertie Van Gorder. “Quick, girls, pass
Peggy some more of her own nuts.”

Even while the box was being passed, the irrepressible roomful took up
the Hampton song where Peggy had interrupted them when she found them in
Myra’s room.

    “Just one college,
      And that’s the college we sing to:
      Just one college,
    And that’s the college for us.
    There’s neighbor Holyoke over the way—
    There’s just one college for us!
      But she can neither dance nor play,—
    There’s just one college for us.
    Just one college,
    And that’s the college we sing to.
      Just one college,
    And that’s the college for us.
    Oh, Vassar has a noble site—
    There’s just one college for us!
      But men, men, men are her delight—
    There’s just one college for us!”



CHAPTER XII—THE AUCTION


“Peggy, look at that sign!”

The room-mates were standing before the students’ bulletin board down in
the note-room.

“It’s bridge, I suppose,” said Peggy idly.

“Bridge! No, it isn’t. Look! it isn’t that kind of auction.”

Breathlessly then they read the alluringly artistic letters, and made
out with difficulty:


                                Auction!
                              Big auction.
                            Everybody come.



    Beautiful clothes, evening dresses, lingerie, furs, everything
    for the wardrobe of the college girl to be auctioned off
    positively second-hand. Money must be paid on the spot.

                                      ———— _The Weldon House Girls._

“That’s Gloria’s house,” said Peggy.

“Yes,” said Katherine, “and all of those girls have so many clothes they
don’t know what to do with them. I think it is an awfully good idea to
sell some of them this way.”

“I’ve never been to one of those auctions before. Usually it’s just kept
in the house. Each girl sells what she doesn’t want, and any other girl
in the same house who has seen and envied that particular garment can
buy it. Donna Anderson got some lovely evening slippers that way in her
house for fifteen cents, and when they were cleaned they were just as
good as new.”

“I can think of lots of Gloria’s things I’d like.”

“Yes, especially that Belgian blue velvet suit the girls were talking
about.”

Both girls laughed at the idea of Gloria selling her new things.

“Don’t you worry about those girls,” said Katherine finally, “they’ll
just auction rags and tatters and get good prices for them, too.”

“Have you got some spare money to go with?”

“A little—about seven dollars. At the rate some of those sales are made,
I ought to be able to get quite a complete outfit for that.”

“And I’ve a little. I haven’t counted just how much. But of course we
can get some more from the bank.”

When they trailed into Ambler House for luncheon they found the greatest
interest and excitement reigning.

The auction was in the air, and nobody could think of anything else.

“Just little tiny no-account auctions,—why, some house is having one
every day, but who ever heard of a wholesale kind like this?” cried
Doris. “I certainly will be there.”

Since the sign, for all its artistic printing, had neglected to say what
day the auction would be held, Ambler House sent a deputation over to
Weldon to find out.

Weldon House sent back word, “Saturday afternoon, of _course_,” so that
part of it was settled, and approved by everybody.

Peggy and Katherine went in no small state of excitement. It was a new
kind of amusement so far as they were concerned.

The freshmen from Ambler House were almost the only members of the first
class to attend.

The freshmen in other campus houses were not so precocious as this
singularly self-confident crowd, and did not feel like rushing in where
something was going on that was beyond their experience.

As soon as the Amblerites stepped inside of Weldon House, they noticed a
conspicuous poster with a hand inked on it pointing, and the single
word, “Upstairs.”

The matron of Weldon House was standing before the sign with a curious
expression puckering her lips, when the gay little group swept by.

Once upstairs, there was another poster, a more helpful one, this time,
“Go to Room 27.”

The upper hall was full of other anxious buyers plodding their way in
the direction indicated by the guide-post. Room 27 belonged to a most
gracious Junior, Zelda Darmeer.

It was characteristic of Zelda that her walls were decorated with the
mottoes, “No studying aloud,” and “Never let your studies interfere with
your regular college course.”

The auction was already in progress when Peggy, Katherine and their
companions stepped inside.

It was being conducted on the most informal lines. Whenever a girl had
anything to auction, she acted as her own auctioneer, and when the
others thought she had taken enough time, one of them serenely set up in
competition.

The chairs were piled with soft blue chiffons, dainty white
under-garments, and plumed hats and mangey furs.

“Put this up, somebody. Who belongs to this? Put this up. I want to bid
on it!” One of the guests was rudely waving a silver-spangled scarf that
had slipped from a chair nearby and fallen at her feet.

“Yes, in a minute,” came a business-like voice, “that’s mine. Only been
worn three years, and has got over two hundred perfectly good spangles
left on it. Only eight hundred came off.”

Peggy and the others joined the guests already there, sitting quietly
down on the floor in their midst. For floors are vastly more used at
college than anywhere else except, perhaps, in the nurseries. Few people
realize the solid comfort there is in floors. They are not simply
objects lying flatly and dispiritedly beneath our feet to be trodden
upon, but they make the most delightful divans and seats in the world,
and possess a superior seating capacity.

At least that was the way the Hampton girls found it, and during
vacation time they often outraged a parent or relative by proceeding to
sit down and be comfortable, if it chanced that every real chair was
taken.

That the goods to be sold should repose in the chairs, and the customers
should sit on the floor, seemed highly natural to Peggy and Katherine,
and a very satisfactory economy of space all round.

“Now this,” Zelda was standing on the wabbly heap of cushions that
constituted the platform, “_this_ is my well-known blue chiffon dress.
Everybody knows and can testify to its wearing qualities. This dress has
appeared at every dance and reception since the opening of the term. It
has shown up regularly about four times a week, and has been universally
admired.

“Now this dress”—she held it up conscientiously so that the light shone
through it and it was seen to be more or less in shreds in certain
places, but still presenting a pleasing ensemble, nevertheless.

“There are the marks of honorable service about this dress. It has lots
of good times to remember. I was never unhappy in it once, and that’s a
boast that any gown might be proud of. Now, girls, I got this in Boston
just before I came to college at the beginning of this year, and I went
to Hollander’s for it and I paid eighty dollars. I’m tired of the dress
now, but there are at least five good more wears out of it. It always
_looks_ dear and _sweet_ once it gets on. The price of this dress is
four dollars,” she wound up.

There were two ways of auctioning. According to them, you either set
your own price and the bidders’ contest simply went on to see which
would be the first, or you offered the object after the approved auction
custom and the bidders ran up the price as high as it would go.

Zelda had a conscience. Had she not held the gown before the light in
that frank fashion, the beauty of the frayed garment might have turned
some freshman’s head to the extent of fifteen dollars or more, and it
had served its purpose for Zelda—she wanted a few dollars spending
money, and getting rid of her old things was a quick method of obtaining
it.

When the price of the blue chiffon was named, Lilian Moore nearly fell
over on the floor. She had been straining forward across Katherine
Foster’s knee, her eyes covetous and hungry.

She had not come expecting to buy anything. She had merely “been dragged
along,” as the girls said, and she had hoped to find enough pleasure in
watching the others purchase the wonderful second-hands.

But that pleasure was gone now. Suddenly, as she realized that this
wonderful, shimmering blue butterfly of a dress was within her reach,
she burned with a sudden fire to have it.

For Lilian, who, under the Ambler girls’ teaching, had come to get
together a fairly good school-day wardrobe at small cost, had never yet
possessed a real evening dress.

She had gone to party after party, reception after reception and dance
after dance, always meekly and shamefacedly arrayed in the white
simplicity that had been her graduation dress at high school the spring
before. Now, staring her in the face with soft blue intensity, was
Opportunity, and she meant to seize upon it.

“Me,” she cried out, like a child in her eagerness. “I want it, Miss
Darmeer. _Here’s_ the four dollars!”

Her spending money for weeks was poured extravagantly into Zelda’s hand,
and the wonderful gown was thrown lightly over her trembling arm.

For a little while at least—until the gorgeous thing actually dropped to
pieces—she would appear as well-dressed, as beautiful and as fragile as
the other girls, with her hitherto covered shoulders glistening
charmingly into view and her arms bare and bright almost to the
shoulder.

At this moment Gloria came in from her own room, her fair face flushed,
and her arms laden. There was a curious hauteur, that was foreign to her
accustomed manner, clinging about her, somehow.

And the very first thing that she put up was the wonderful suit of
Belgian blue!

As she mounted the swaying pile of cushions, her expression never
softened to the hilarity that the occasion had held up till now.

The light gleamed over the wonderful blue of the thing in her arms.

“A suit,” she began, in that voice the freshmen worshipped, “a blue
suit. Tailored to fit me. Do for any tall girl. The lining is, as you
see, a good quality taffeta,” she turned the coat conscientiously inside
out, “and a blue silk underskirt goes with the skirt. I’ve worn this
three times. I don’t think very many people saw it, for it was only to
chapel and vespers and——”

A laugh interrupted her. That was rather scathing of her, those of her
classmates who were present thought. For they were required to attend
chapel and vespers and didn’t like the implication that they neglected
their duty.

“Kaddie,” whispered Peggy, “do you suppose she’s got so many
clothes—that—that three wearings is—enough?”

She gasped at the very idea of such a thing. The condition of the
chiffon gown that Zelda had sold was more like her own things by the
time she had done with them. She could not fancy any one parting with
something they had scarcely become even used to yet.

“Maybe it isn’t becoming to her.”

“Oh, Kaddie!”

Katherine looked again at the figure of Gloria with her blue burden over
her arm and saw that she had spoken carelessly.

The blue of the suit brought out the blue of the eyes in a dazzling
fashion. The triumphant red and gold of Gloria’s hair and eye-lashes
flamed more like those of a Norse goddess than ever.

“What am I offered? I can’t advertise”—(the ghost of a smile did quirk
her lips here for an instant)—“as Zelda did, that this suit has known
only happy times. It’s—had to take its chances. But such as it is—it’s
ready for your offers.”

She stood expectantly, the suit lifted a little on her arm.

“Twenty-five,” lazily called a senior from the back of the room.

“I’m offered twenty-five,” said the auctioneer, “and I’m—still
listening.”

“Thirty,” piped Hazel Pilcher eagerly.

“Forty,” jumped the senior’s voice from the back of the room.

“Forty-one,” hesitated Doris Winterbean.

There was no more bidding. Doris opened her check-book and wrote the sum
which had purchased the shining wonder that had lately been the property
of the freshman president. She knew that suit had never cost less than a
hundred, and she was more than satisfied. Its former wearing rather lent
it grace than detracted from its value, considering who the wearer was.

“I was going to buy a new suit and a spring coat for next term,” said
Doris, “but this will have to do instead of both now,—and I’d rather
have it.”

But nothing else that was put up by the others, or by Gloria herself,
brought anything like that price—none even yielded so high a percentage
of its original cost.

Gloria offered waists, which went for prices such as fifty cents, or, at
the highest, a dollar. Then she held up an adorable kimono, direct from
Japan, that all the girls had envied and coveted. But beautiful kimonos
are luxuries, whereas suits of some kind are necessities. So her
sacrifice met with no such fortune as the blue suit had called forth.
Most of the girls didn’t attend college auctions with their check-books.
Doris Winterbean was a single foresighted exception.

“Isn’t it terrible to see those beautiful things going for a few
pennies?” said Peggy.

“It is,” nodded Katherine. “What can that girl be thinking of?”

“Thinking of turning into a savage, I should say,” Peggy speculated in
answer. “You can see she isn’t going to have many clothes left.”

“She looks as picturesque as ever, anyway,” sighed Katherine. “It’s too
bad there are not more of our classmates here to see her.”

“Yes, she was certainly a lucky choice for president,” agreed Peggy.

“Your choice.”

“Well, my choice first and the class’s afterwards, and I’m sure we’re
both proud of our good taste.”

The radiant one was again holding up an article of apparel before their
interested gaze.

“Now, this,” she began her advertisement, “is all of handmade lace——”

An imperative knock sounded on the door.

Every girl in the room started nervously. For auctions, while not
against any college regulation, were not exactly the sort of thing that
would meet with a matron’s approval when indulged in to the wholesale
extent of this one at Weldon House.

Perhaps that puzzled and anxious matron they had seen downstairs had
followed the directions on the sign and was even now upon the threshold.
How annoying, when there were many delectable and unsold articles still
lying negligently over the chair backs.

“Well,” cried Gloria, in the midst of her harangue, “come in.”

But the door opened only a crack and a muffled voice came through it.

Zelda Darmeer felt a certain responsibility since it was her room, but
she would literally have had to wade through six rows of husky girls to
get to the door.

She stood up anxiously.

“Peggy Parsons, go and see what it is, will you, please?” she begged,
her face dark with annoyance.

Peggy, by clutching at the knees and then the shoulders of the girls on
either side, arose with difficulty and went out into the hall.

What she saw there made her shut the door behind her.

The matron, just as they had feared, was outside the door. But there was
another woman with her. A horrid-looking woman, Peggy thought, very
different from any one usually seen in campus houses.

The matron’s face was troubled, and Peggy felt instinctively that it was
something more than their reckless auction that was causing her
uneasiness.

The other woman’s expression was sullen and aggressive.

She came forward threateningly as Peggy came out, but in a moment fell
back with a scowl, as the light from the window at the end of the hall
streamed more clearly over the little figure.

“That’s not Miss Hazeltine,” she said snappishly.

“No,” murmured the matron, still with that look of doubt and distaste.
“This isn’t one of my girls at all. Are you—perhaps—a friend of Miss
Hazeltine’s?”

“I hope I’m one of her best friends,” said Peggy quickly. “And”—with a
quick smile that said it all—“I’m a freshman.”

“Well, I—don’t know,” hesitated the matron.

The other woman frowned. “I want my money to-day,” she demanded.

Peggy shivered as if she had suddenly been brought in touch with
something ugly and sordid, something meant to remain without her share
of experience.

She was torn between the feeling that she had no business, in justice to
Gloria, to listen to any more—and the desire, the need to keep Gloria
away from the menace of this woman’s eyes.

She felt that Gloria was even less able to meet and cope with this
strange un-college-like situation than she, Peggy.

For Gloria seemed of finer clay, and she herself—what was she but just
an everyday young person, glad to be alive and curious about everything
that life might hold,—happy or otherwise?

Perhaps Gloria would hate her for stumbling upon a situation like this
which didn’t concern her.

“I think,” she said to the pained matron, “I think I’d better get
Gloria. She’s in there——” Then, with an inspiration, she turned suddenly
upon the unpleasant woman.

“Won’t you go down to her room,” she questioned, “Number 20, and wait
until she comes? I’m sure that would be better; then if she cares to see
you, she can find you there.”

“Oh, she won’t want to see me,” retorted the woman. “I’ll just wait
here. There ain’t any other door to that room she’s in, is there?”

Peggy’s heart turned sick.

“I will send her out to you,” she said quietly. “What is your name,
please?”

“I’ll tell _her_ my name,” answered the woman ungraciously.

“I think,” observed Peggy in a low tone, “that you had better tell
_me_—wouldn’t that be best, Mrs. Ormsby?”

She appealed to the matron for confirmation.

“Certainly,” agreed Mrs. Ormsby, catching a little of Peggy’s quiet
fire. “You shall at least send in your name.”

“Well,” grudged the woman, with a hateful smirk, “just tell Miss
Hazeltine it’s Hart and Bates’ Dressmaking Establishment.”

“All right,” murmured Peggy, and laid her hand on the door.

The matron bit her lip uneasily, and Peggy turned the handle and went
back into the babble of bidding that was going on inside.



CHAPTER XIII—FEET OF CLAY


“My Morning Glory,” thought Peggy, in her heart as she stood among the
auction guests.

A feeling of loyalty filled her as she found with her glance the subject
of the disagreeable conversation that had just taken place outside the
door.

The freshman president, all unconscious of impending disaster—or at
least of its nearness—was in the act of taking off the wonderful high
button shoes that she wore because one of the girls had expressed a
desire to buy them.

She was laughing at the incongruity of it, and the light was dancing in
her rose-shadowed blue eyes.

“The clothes off our backs,” she was saying gayly, “anything to please
our customers——”

And Peggy looked at the beautiful silk stockings that gleamed on her
feet when the shoes were removed.

“Look out, Morning Glory,” shouted a merry Junior, “there are some of
your freshmen worshippers present—and they say all idols have clay
feet!”

Peggy’s heart skipped a beat, and Gloria seized the shoes uncertainly as
if to put them on again. The room burst into a shout of laughter, and
Gloria ducked her flaming head gracefully and laughed with the rest.

“My shoes!” she cried, with the laughter still in her voice, as she held
them up for sale, “right off the clay feet——”

“Gloria!” cried Peggy reluctantly.

“In just a minute,” answered the beautiful girl, “I’m busy selling
_these_. Do you want to bid something? Then——”

“Gloria,” urged Peggy again, for she had caught a faint but impatient
tap on the door at her back. She held the knob, and she felt it turn
under her grasp. She knew she was not as strong as the horrible woman
outside.

“There’s—somebody waiting to see you.”

Gloria paused, swaying on the uncertain heap of cushions, with a flush
of annoyance coloring her face. Then all at once she looked directly
into Peggy’s eyes, and understood.

“I’ll come,” she said, quickly, dropping the shoes with a thud on the
floor, and descending from the teetering platform.

“You haven’t sold those shoes to any one yet,” reminded Zelda Darmeer;
“they still belong to you.”

“That’s so,” assented Gloria abstractedly, and slipped into them.

With their button sides loose and flapping grotesquely against her
silken ankles, she shuffled with what dignity she might towards the
door. Peggy took her hand from the knob, and Gloria disappeared into the
corridor.

There was silence in the room for a second after she had gone.

Then the babble began again, not of bidding this time, but of
conjecture, laughter and jests.

“Mystery!” observed Zelda Darmeer, hunching up her shoulders.

“Who _is_ out there, Peggy?” some one demanded. “Don’t keep us in
suspense.”

“Yes, who’s there?” cried the others.

“The—the matron,” said Peggy, truthfully. “She came up and——”

“Well, she needn’t blame Morning Glory for this auction,” Zelda Darmeer
started up; “I got up this auction, with two of the people from the
first floor, to sell off our old duds. We didn’t even know Glory was
coming into it, but when she heard it she seemed to be keen about it,
so—but it isn’t her fault and I’ll tell Mrs. Ormsby so——”

She was forcing her way through the crowd in good earnest. The six rows
of girls were stepped on and trodden under foot ruthlessly as she
proceeded towards the door.

Peggy again sprang into position as guard. “Don’t,” she cried out, and
then added in a more natural voice: “You’ve got us all here, now go on
with the auction.”

“Oh,” said Zelda, mystified, but amenable, “all right. I suppose she’ll
be back in a minute, and Ormsby can’t do much anyway.”

The auction went merrily forward, but Gloria didn’t come back.

After an hour or so, when Peggy was sure the woman must have gone and
the trying interview, whatever it was, must be over, she slipped from
the room and went fearfully down the hall toward Number 20.

She knocked on the door, and entered when a cold “Come” sounded.

Gloria was seated shoeless on the couch, her red-gold hair in disarray,
a frightened, harassed look in her wide eyes.

“Gloria,” stammered Peggy, “do you want to talk to me?”

Gloria shot her a quick glance, searching, appealing and yet at the same
time resentful.

“It depends,” said Gloria. “Do you like me very much?”

“Very much,” returned Peggy simply.

“Well, then,” flung out Gloria unexpectedly, “I sha’n’t tell you.”

“Sha’n’t tell me—because I like you?” cried Peggy indignantly. “Why, I
never heard of such a thing!”

“Do you like me as well as you do Katherine?” the strange girl pursued.

A vision of Katherine, familiar, dear, loyal,—her own room-mate, rose
mistily before Peggy’s eyes.

“No,” she said, truthfully, “of course not.”

“Oh,” Gloria answered, “then it isn’t like the rest. Perhaps I can talk
to you anyway. I know that it was your efforts that made me president,
though, in the first place. Why did you do that?”

“Because I knew you were the girl for the place.”

“But I wasn’t.”

“I think you have proved yourself to be all we hoped, and more.”

“But you don’t—know about things.”

“I know a good deal. The freshmen swear by you. They would follow your
example——”

“My example!”

“Yes, and they couldn’t have a better pattern, Gloria.”

“Oh, well, you are as bad as the rest. Please go and leave me. There’s
no use. I haven’t anybody—go quickly, please——”

“Now, Gloria, you’ve been saying the strangest things. From your very
odd remarks I gather that if I—didn’t like you much, you’d think that
made me a better confidante. Now, I can’t hate you even to please you. I
like you—awfully much—and did from the moment you came into our room at
the beginning of the year——”

“It has nothing to do with my being president?”

“Not a thing in the world!”

With a little shuddering sob, Gloria reached for Peggy’s hand, and in an
instant her shaking shoulders were held fast in Peggy’s reassuring
clasp.

“Everybody looks up to me so——”

“Yes,” said Peggy, “and they ought.”

“They ought not! Peggy, it wasn’t good for me, such sudden prominence!
At home where I lived I was just one of a good many. I went abroad and
traveled around and did not have an opportunity to establish much of a
place for myself with any group. My father and mother are indulgent, but
I’ve often heard my mother say she wished I didn’t have red hair. And
here the girls are crazy about it——”

Peggy smoothed the radiant hair in question, while a sudden smile curved
her crooked little mouth.

“Oh, Gloria, child,” she laughed, “I can see your trouble isn’t going to
be such a bugaboo after all. Go on and tell me now.”

“And I’ve never managed my own money——”

“Now we’re coming to it,” thought Peggy.

“And, Peggy, you may not believe it, but we aren’t so very rich, after
all. I know that everybody says I’m a millionaire, but—we haven’t
anything so very much, really. And I was always the first one asked to
contribute to everything—and I had to give quite a bit as president——”

“Ye-es,” mused Peggy, “I never thought of that side of it.”

“And I was expected to wear the most wonderful clothes—I heard the girls
make the remark that Glory Hazeltine never wore the same evening dress
twice—and—and I was vain. I’ve seemed indifferent, Peggy, I know, but in
my heart I was vain. I’m just beginning to find myself out.”

“You’ve found yourself out wrong,” mused Peggy aloud, “and you are no
vainer than any other girl would be in your position and with your
assets.”

“Well, then, I’m sorry for the others.”

“Your story is that you were fiendishly extravagant, isn’t that all?”

“All? Oh, Peggy!”

“Well, most of us have that failing to fight—and some have reasons to
make it harder to win. But anyway, girlie, that doesn’t seem very awful,
after all. You know how the stores are? The dressmaking shops run after
the popular girls and beg for their trade and offer them special prices
and say, ‘Oh, my dear, I shouldn’t bother about paying now—just let it
go on the account.’ And the account seems so elastic—and you just order
a gown or suit whenever you imagine you need one, and they are forever
calling you up by phone and saying they have something extra nice——”

“I don’t know,” said Peggy thoughtfully; “I’ve found most of the stores
in this town wonderfully lenient. They will carry an account on and on,
and if you pay once a year they’re satisfied. It must be a great
inconvenience to them to handle such erratic accounts, but they know the
college girls are _all_ honest and will pay sometime.”

“And I could have paid _sometime_—but I dare not tell dad. He would
think running such accounts was awful. This dressmaking place is not
like the other concerns. They—they hound—you——”

Terror filled the baby-blue eyes.

“Well, you should have told somebody when you found it getting beyond
you. I have quite a bit of money each month, and I don’t know anything
I’d rather——”

“Oh, but I shall not need it now.” Gloria even smiled in her
realization. “You see, I’ve sold everything I had for what it would
bring, and—it made enough, I am thankful to say.”

“Did you tell the woman?”

“Not how I got it, no. I endorsed Doris’ check and handed it over to her
as if I had been a princess——”

“I know your manner. Was she properly overcome?”

“Well, no. In fact she said, ‘This is but a drop in the bucket. I’ll
have you persecuted.’”

“She must have said ‘prosecuted,’ Gloria.”

“Well, one or the other, the effect is the same. She _has_ been
persecuting me.”

“Well, and then did you give her the rest?” asked Peggy, desirous of
hearing all of the story.

“Yes, I poured into her hands the full amount the bidders had given me
in return for all my beautiful kimonos, gowns, waists and underwear.”

“Sounds like an elevator call in a department store.”

“Doesn’t it? But she didn’t know. She counted it out and returned me two
dollars and said I’d given her too much. I was thankful there had been
enough. Oh, Peggy, Peggy, Mrs. Ormsby saw it all. She is a brick. But I
feel so mean, so mean——”

“You needn’t. Now you’ve learned, and you can go around here in
sackcloth and ashes and you will be the ‘freshmen’s handsome president’
still. That’s what the upperclass girls call you. So it will come out
all right. And nobody guessing anything.”

“You know,” Gloria was laughing through her tears, “the reason I
wouldn’t tell you was because I couldn’t bear to risk seeing your stare
of disillusionment and loss of faith—in case you felt about me as some
of the others do. I don’t know why they should, but they act as if I
were sort of superhuman. And all my worry about your attitude for
nothing! I’ve just been plain Gloria Hazeltine to you all the time,
haven’t I, Peggy? And to Katherine. I’m—kind of glad. It’s awful to have
people holding such ridiculous ideals about you.”

“No, it isn’t. When you’re graduated, you will look back on it as
something very precious—and very wonderful. It is one of the best things
that can come to any one—such idealization as you have met with at the
hands of our class. And the only way to do is to live up to it, to make
it as true as truth.”

“That’s what I was doing, in a way,” explained Gloria woefully. “But
only to the most material side of it. I wanted to live up to their ideal
of me in wonderful clothes—in generous subscriptions, and all that kind
of thing.”

“Well, young lady, now you right-about face and live up to the other
side of it. They would follow you and love you if you were as shabby as
our wash-lady. So you can go as simply dressed as you want, and they
will do nothing but imitate you. It’s a wonderful power you have,
Gloria.”

Gloria brushed back the straying hair from her tear-stained face.

“I never thought of that, really, Peggy,” she said. “Do you suppose
there is really a little something worth while in me to call forth such
feeling on the part of the class?”

“A good deal,” said Peggy. “But not—exactly what they think. You can be
even finer than they believe, though, if you’ll set about it.”

“I wish I were like you, Peggy,” wailed Gloria.

“Like me! Now, Gloria Hazeltine, you know you don’t. Nobody expects me
to be anything very remarkable. They love me but they have to love a lot
of faults along with me. So they love me and look _down_, and you and
look _up_.”

“You’ve helped, Peggy. Instead of being sorry and ashamed of myself and
realizing that I’m not as nice as they think, I’m going to turn that
energy to _being_ as nice. Do you think I can do it?”

“I’m not from Missouri—but I cling to their motto, and I do believe you
can fulfill it for me.”

“All right, I _will_ show you. You and all of them. I’m going to
surprise you, Peggy Parsons!”

Peggy left her room with a little sigh.

“I’ve come to collect Katherine,” she poked her head into Zelda
Darmeer’s abode and said.

Katherine came hastily out to her, and the two made their way to Ambler
House, the several purchases they had made carried loosely in their
arms.

When they were comfortably enwrapped in the dear, restful, homelike
atmosphere of their own suite, Peggy gave Katherine a sketchy report of
her interview with Gloria.

“We’ve had to have our finger in two college pies of very different
flavors, Kathie,” she mused when the tale was done. “Our first case was
a girl who didn’t have recognition _enough_—was swamped under the weight
of indifference and criticism that met her here. The other has too much
and couldn’t stand it. She fell to pieces under the burden of worship
the girls insisted on placing on her. It’s funny, isn’t it, Katherine?”

“Such weeps, such weeps,” laughed Katherine, not without sympathy in her
tone. “If only everybody in college could have things evened up for them
as we have. We’re neither too high nor too low. We have a lovely
suite—each of us has a—nice room-mate” (Katherine smiled as she flung
this little inclusive compliment at herself), “and people like us a good
deal, but not so much that they expect more of us than is humanly
possible.”

“But I don’t think we’d be any different in any situation,” judged
Peggy. “Do you know, friend room-mate, I’m afraid we’re hopelessly
commonplace.”

“I believe you’re right,” Katherine agreed stoutly, “and I’m glad _of_
it!”



CHAPTER XIV—SPRING TERM


It is worth while having come through months of winter, full of varying
fortunes, to wake at last in the glory of Spring Term.

Spring Term! Those of us who have had it,—what wouldn’t we give to be
able to drift backward for a moment and feel the wonder of Spring Term
around us again? Sweet with its apple-blossoms, prodigal of its
sunshine, giving away New England in a strange manner, showing that she
possesses a wildness and radiance of youth that for three-fourths of the
year she denies.

For Spring Term is satisfaction. There is enough of it. When its magic
first comes to the freshman she thinks there will be eons more of Spring
Terms.

But there will not be. Only four of them in a lifetime—during those
years when the newness of life is fresh, when the power to respond sings
through every girl’s heart its most exultant tune.

A more or less bony livery horse, perked up for spring, with the
inevitable runabout, stood before each campus house’s back door in those
days.

When his hirers came down from their rooms, they undid the knot about
the hitching post and, picking up the reins, slapped them on the beast’s
back and careened away, out into the wonderworld their Hampton had
become.

Red canoes began to flash across the bright and shallow waters of
Paradise.

Rubber-soled shoes slapped their way to the tennis courts, and their
wearers sat for hours without any alleviating shade, just to have
possession of a court at last for sixty minutes.

“I don’t know _what_ I’ve ever done to deserve it,” said Peggy, leaning
on her window-sill beside Katherine, while the two looked out on it all.

“I’ve heard the upperclass girls tell some of our freshmen when they
were homesick, ‘Wait till Spring Term.’ Now I understand what they
meant,” returned Katherine slowly.

“Oh, room-mate, I am glad I belong to such a world. Wouldn’t it
be—wouldn’t it be _terrible_ to have Spring Term come along and be a
senior—or an _alum_?”

“Seniors graduate—I suppose they don’t realize it’s all for the last
time—maybe they do, though. But alums!” Katherine caught her arm and
pressed it in an odd panic. “Do you suppose we will actually some day
be—that?” she asked with a shudder.

Peggy laughed out into the sunshine. “Not for ages and ages. Three years
more—why, that’s almost the same as forever. Katherine,” she changed the
subject suddenly, “I wish we had a canoe! Watch those adorable ones on
Paradise—see the drops sparkle off that paddle—oh, Kathie, let’s have
one, h’mm?”

Katherine was immediately beside herself with joy.

“We can get one second-hand from a girl down at Weldon House,” she said
joyously. “I heard about it the other day.”

Peggy demurred. “I don’t want a second-hand one,” she declared
decidedly. “I want a new one, that nobody has ever adventured in before
us. I don’t know how to paddle though, do you?”

“No, except that the girl at Weldon that wants to sell this one I
mentioned took me out in hers and sort of advertised it by letting me
experiment with the paddle awhile. I nearly tipped us over and she was
so anxious to have me buy the boat she never said a word.”

Within the next few days Peggy and Katherine wrote to Canada to see
about the prices of canoes. They labored long and hard in the gymnasium
pool and took the swimming tests that were necessary for a college
permit for canoe ownership.

And then, sad, and sickening disappointment, they found that freshmen
weren’t allowed to own canoes at all!

They left the boat-house with downcast eyes, but the glory of the day
soon made them lift their gaze, and the first thing they saw was a
joyous crew of their classmates going to sea in a moist-floored
row-boat.

In a moment life was as full of promise as ever and the two plunged down
the boat-house steps and gave their gymnasium numbers in to charter the
first craft of a similar kind that came along.

“The water’s just as—wet, under this,” laughed Peggy as they finally
pushed off.

“And the oars are just as hard to use as a paddle,” cried Katherine, who
had just dropped one overboard. “Oh, thank you,—yes, we can manage it
all right; yes, _indeed_, we’ve had our swimming test!” This last was to
the boat-house boy who rescued the oar and who seemed overly concerned
for their safe voyage.

“Paradise,” breathed Peggy softly, a little while later, as they drifted
under the shade of the overhanging trees and looked up toward the
glowing green campus and the bright and exotic botanical gardens of
Hampton. “Only the river is named that—but it’s _all_ paradise. Oh,
Katherine, Katherine, I think we’ve had a happy year, don’t you?”

But Katherine was not inclined at the moment to be either poetical or
retrospective. “Mercy!” she cried out sharply, “now I’ve caught my oar
on a root!”

The bright days sped all too fast. A few walks around Hospital Hill, a
climb up Mt. Tom, a number of evening street-car rides when the girls
sat on the front seat outside the car just back of the motorman with the
wind blowing through their hair, a jaunt or so to a distant tea-house, a
drive behind one of the bony mares, a few negligible recitations and
examinations—and—poof!—they were gone like smoke.

The freshmen were urged to gather up their belongings and hasten home as
soon as possible so that the campus rooms would be vacant for that
greatest drama of the spring soon to be staged at Hampton—the
commencement exercises for the senior class.

“And you and I aren’t to see a bit of it,” grieved Peggy to her
room-mate. “I suppose they are keeping it all a mystery from us until we
get nearer it ourselves. Don’t forget to write to me often and _often_
this summer, Kathie,—it seems strange I’m not going to see you for so
long a time.”

“Yes, I’ll write, of course, child. I’ll miss you and I’ll miss Hamp,
but I’ll be glad to be home for a while, at that. My mother wants me and
so do the rest of the dear folks. I’m so eager to get there I don’t know
what to do—and yet my eyes are all full of tears at leaving, at the same
time.”

“Well, we ought to be laughing instead of crying—neither of us got any
conditions or low grades except——”

“Now you needn’t remind me of that. I got that low grade in botany
because I couldn’t draw, not because I didn’t know the lessons. It’s
funny if you have to be an artist for every course——”

“Never mind, Kathie, I barely came out on the safe side of math. I’m
going to have a bonfire of my trigonometry and my old higher algebra as
soon as I get off the train at home. _They_ shall never cause anybody
else such misery.”

“I’ll give you my botany book to throw in with them.”

“All right, your botany book is elected to the conflagration.”

“I know one thing that _won’t_ go in.”

“What’s that, my dear?”

“A certain number of the _Hampton College Monthly_.”

A quick color swept over Peggy’s face.

Laughingly she caught her room-mate’s arm and started with her on an
expedition to round up the freshmen of the house for a last half day
together while they still enjoyed their lowly state.

Florence Thomas, Myra Whitewell, Doris Winterbean, Gertrude Van Gorder,
Lilian Moore and May Jenson they summoned out onto the campus where they
were all content to stroll, arms intertwined, meeting other groups who
were, like themselves, bidding Hampton farewell for the summer.

It was late afternoon, with the sun streaming over everything and the
houses and trees casting their long quiet shadows over the grass, when
there drifted by a group of seniors, singing idly one of their senior
songs.

The music of it caught Peggy’s heart and she shut her eyes against the
tears. There were senior celebrities in that group—girls whom she had
known very well by sight—whom she would never see again. Part of college
they had been, and now they were humming their senior song for the last
time across that dear old campus.

How could they bear to leave—when it was to be shut on the outside of
the college gates always—except as they flitted back through the years
in the doubtful and unenviable role of alumnæ?

With a full heart Peggy was glad she was just beginning, glad that she
would shout for her class’s red lion emblem at basketball matches and
polo ground for three years more, glad that she was to return and buy,
in the pride of her sophomoreship, her little red canoe, glad that
college was still brimming over with experiences for her, as yet untried
and unguessed.

“Come quickly, Peggy,” cried Gloria Hazeltine, passing the Ambler girls
on a run, “Glee club’s having a sing over by Seelye Hall. Hurry, or
you’ll miss some of it.”

Glad of the opportunity to be with so great a number of girls once more
before vacation, the Ambler freshmen began to run too, and soon the
voices of the glee club carried to them.

Through the crowd that had gathered they caught glimpses of the singers’
white dresses.

“They’re singing ‘Where-oh-where,’” cried Katherine.

And as the words of the familiar song were wafted out to them, Peggy and
Katherine smiled their queer pride and happiness into each other’s eyes,
since for the first time the song applied to _Them_.

    “Where, oh, where are those verdant freshmen?
    Where, oh, where are those verdant freshmen?
    Where, oh, _Where_ are those verdant freshmen?
    Sa-afe _now_ in the Soph’more Class!”





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About ISYS® Search Software
Established in 1988, ISYS Search Software is a global supplier of enterprise
search solutions for business and government.  The company's award-winning
software suite offers a broad range of search, navigation and discovery
solutions for desktop search, intranet search, SharePoint search and embedded
search applications.  ISYS has been deployed by thousands of organizations
operating in a variety of industries, including government, legal, law
enforcement, financial services, healthcare and recruitment.



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