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Title: Marjorie Dean College Freshman
Author: Lester, Pauline
Language: English
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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.

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[Illustration: The next day’s recitations hastily prepared, the
Lookouts had gathered in Ronny’s room for a spread.]



                             MARJORIE DEAN
                            COLLEGE FRESHMAN

                           BY PAULINE LESTER

                               AUTHOR OF
          “Marjorie Dean, College Sophomore,” “Marjorie Dean,
           College Junior,” “Marjorie Dean, College Senior,”
                                  and
                  The Marjorie Dean High School Series

                           A. L. BURT COMPANY
                          Publishers New York



                                  THE
                      Marjorie Dean College Series
          A Series of Stories for Girls 12 to 18 Years of Age

                           By PAULINE LESTER

                    Marjorie Dean, College Freshman
                    Marjorie Dean, College Sophomore
                     Marjorie Dean, College Junior
                     Marjorie Dean, College Senior

                            Copyright, 1922
                         By A. L. BURT COMPANY

                    MARJORIE DEAN, COLLEGE FRESHMAN
                           Made in “U. S. A.”



MARJORIE DEAN, COLLEGE FRESHMAN



CHAPTER I.—A LONELY LOOKOUT.


“Oh, dear! I wish Jerry would come home! I want to see her! I’ve always
missed her terribly during vacations, but this summer I’ve missed her
more than ever. I’m simply starved for a sight of her dear jolly face!
Here it is, the twenty-fourth of August, and no Jerry Jeremiah Geraldine
Macy!”

Marjorie Dean had addressed this little series of wistful remarks to no
one in particular. She stood at one of the long French windows of the
living room, her nose flattened against the pane, little-girl fashion,
watching a very wet outdoors. All morning, the rain had been beating
down with a sullen persistency which Marjorie found distinctly
disheartening. She was as near to having a case of the blues as was
possible to one of her care-free, buoyant nature. Wet weather did not
often interfere with her happiness. Given her particular girl friends
within telephone call and she could discount a rainy day.

Today she was without that source of entertainment and consolation. None
of her chums had returned to Sanford from their summer outings. Susan
Atwell, Irma Linton, Muriel Harding, Constance Stevens, Jerry Macy—all
were missing from the town into which Marjorie had come, a stranger, but
of which she now was, to use her own expression, “a regular citizen.”

Marjorie’s thoughts were dwelling on her absent schoolmates as she
pensively watched the rain. She wondered if, wherever they were, they
were penned in by the rain too. It seemed rather queer to her that she
should be the only one of the sextette of girls, who had founded the
Lookout Club, to be spending the summer in Sanford. She was not a real
Sanfordite by birth. With the exception of Constance Stevens, the others
claimed Sanford as their native town.

Readers of the “Marjorie Dean High School Series” have already an
acquaintance with Marjorie Dean, and have followed her course as a
student at Sanford High School. They have seen her through both sad and
happy days, the events of which have been chronicled in “Marjorie Dean,
High School Freshman,” “Marjorie Dean, High School Sophomore,” “Marjorie
Dean, High School Junior,” and “Marjorie Dean, High School Senior.”

“There goes that old mail carrier and he isn’t going to stop here!” This
time Marjorie’s tones were not wistful. Their disgusted energy indicated
her patent disappointment. Her red lips drooped in dejection as she saw
the unfeeling object of her hopeful anticipation plod stolidly past the
gate without so much as a glance at the mailbox at the foot of the
driveway.

“Not one single solitary letter,” mourned the watcher. “Why doesn’t
Jerry write?”

“When did you hear from Jerry last, Lieutenant?” Mrs. Dean had entered
the room in time to hear Marjorie’s plaint.

“Oh, Captain, I’m _so_ glad you came to the rescue! I was _so_ lonely!
You asked me when last I heard from Jerry. Why, it’s almost two weeks.
She wrote me it was awfully hot at the beach and—Are you going to stay
here awhile and talk to me, Captain?”

Marjorie interrupted herself with this question. Her downcast face had
begun to brighten.

“If you are,” she continued, “I’ll run up to my house and get Jerry’s
last letter. I’d love to read it to you.”

“I’ll oblige you by staying awhile.” Mrs. Dean sat down in her own
particular wicker rocker, her eyes resting fondly on Marjorie.

“You’re a dear. Be back in a minute.” A rush of light feet on the stairs
proclaimed that Marjorie had gone to her “house,” as she chose to call
her pretty pink and white room, for her letter.

“I can’t find it,” presently announced a disappointed voice from above
stairs. “Have you seen a square gray envelope with large writing on it
anywhere in the living room, Captain?”

“I am looking straight at one now,” came the reassuring information.
“You left it on the mantelpiece, Lieutenant.”

“Oh, thank you.” A moment and Marjorie was heard making a vigorous
descent of the stairs.

“I came down stairs at a positive gallop,” she said lightly, as she
crossed the room and secured her letter. “I was afraid I had left it in
the table drawer in the pagoda. If I had, that would have meant a wading
trip for me. I suppose I’d have gone after it, but I am glad it’s here.”

“You are overflowing with repressed energy, Marjorie,” Mrs. Dean said,
looking a trifle anxious. “I wonder if a quiet summer at home has really
been best for you. While there is no place I know more comfortable than
our own home, the change would have been beneficial to you. I believe we
should have spent, at least, two weeks at the beach or in the
mountains.”

“Please don’t feel that you haven’t done the very best for me, Captain!”
was Marjorie’s instant response. “You know it was my fault that we
didn’t go away this vacation. I said I had rather stay at home. We
didn’t care to go anywhere for an outing without General, and, so long
as he couldn’t be with us, we decided that home was nicest. That’s the
way things were. How can you say you were to blame?”

Marjorie was hanging over her mother’s chair now, soft hands patting the
face she loved most in the world.

“I wanted particularly to be at home this summer on account of my going
to college in the fall. Ever since we came to Sanford to live I have had
one long succession of good times. Most of them have taken me away from
you. If I had a party, then I had to be with my guests. If I was invited
to one, that took me away from you.”

“But my own dear lieutenant, your captain wished you to have these good
times with your school friends,” reasoned her mother. “I could hardly
expect to keep you tied to my apron string.”

“I know you have been the most unselfish mother in the whole world,”
stoutly asserted Marjorie. “I know I haven’t appreciated you half so
highly as I ought. It all comes over me now just because it is growing
nearer the time to go to college. I can’t bear to think about it.”

The merry light had faded from Marjorie’s features. Her lips had begun
to quiver. Her two hands dropped inert to her captain’s shoulders and
rested there. She had no words for all that was in her heart.

Leaving her captain to go to Hamilton College was bound to be the
greatest cross Marjorie had, thus far in her happy young life, been
called upon to bear. She always missed her general keenly when he went
away on long business trips. This in the warm shelter of her mother’s
devotion. But to part from Captain! Not to see her every day; not to
hear her beloved voice! Marjorie sometimes tried to dwell on this sad
feature of entering college. She found it unendurable and frequently
entertained the desperate wish that her parents might suddenly discover
that they could not afford to send her to college. That would be a
legitimate excuse for staying at home.

A brief interval of silence followed her woeful declaration. It was
broken by a stifled sob. The little lieutenant had struggled hard to
keep back her tears, but had failed. Without a word she bundled herself
in to her mother’s arms. Heavy showers were due to fall indoors as well
as out.



CHAPTER II.—A TALK WITH CAPTAIN AND A SURPRISE.


Presently clearance came. With a long sigh, Marjorie raised her head.
She was just in time to see her mother wiping her own eyes and making a
valiant effort to smile. It pulled the little lieutenant together as
nothing else could have done.

“Oh, Captain, forgive me!” she cried out in contrition. It was unusual
to see tears in her mother’s soft eyes. “I’m a nice kind of soldier!”

“No harm done,” was the tender response. “This little tear shower was
bound to fall, sooner or later. I am all right now.” Her mother’s
wavering smile steadied itself.

“I’ve tried to keep away from the sad side of going away to college,”
Marjorie said somberly, “but how many girls are there who have the dear
beautiful home life that I have? And this summer alone with you! It’s
been great happiness and sadness all jumbled together. Every once in
awhile when I am very happy, I suddenly remember that there’s a shadow.
I have to stop for a minute to think what it is. Then I know—I am going
away from my captain before long.”

“You must also stop to remember that you can’t go through life only half
educated,” practically reminded Mrs. Dean, with a view toward lightening
the lieutenant’s pessimistic views. “At least, General and I do not
propose that you shall. Suppose you wished more than all else to go
through college and we could not afford to send you? That would really
be a case for lamentation.”

“I’ve thought of all that,” Marjorie returned soberly. “I know it is
splendid that I have the opportunity. I am thankful for all my benefits,
truly I am. I ought to be glad I haven’t Lucy Warner’s problem to
solve.”

“I don’t believe either General or I could truly accuse you of being
ungrateful.” Mrs. Dean smiled down upon the flushed face so near her
own. “Do you think Lucy Warner will try to enter Hamilton College this
fall?” She asked this question with a double object in view. First, to
take Marjorie’s mind off herself. While on the subject of college, she
wished also to draw from Marjorie, if possible, Lucy’s present attitude
toward the world in general. When, occasionally, Marjorie had
entertained Lucy at the house that summer at luncheon or dinner, Mrs.
Dean had accorded her the same friendly courtesy she would have extended
to Jerry or Muriel. She had never quite forgiven Lucy for the
unhappiness she had caused Marjorie during both her junior and senior
years at high school. She had not yet come to a point where she could
repose faith in the odd, green-eyed girl of whom Marjorie had grown so
fond.

“She would like to, but she is worried about the expenses. They are so
high at Hamilton.” Marjorie’s face clouded momentarily. “She could draw
whatever sum of money she needs from the Lookouts’ treasury, but she
won’t. I may tell you, Captain, but no one else—Lucy feels dreadfully
yet, over that misunderstanding we had last year. She blames herself for
not having believed in me. She says the other girls would not have
doubted me, and she had no right to be so hard on me. She thinks she
isn’t worthy of help from the club. She told me this, privately, because
she felt it was my right to know.”

Mrs. Dean’s long-harbored sense of injury against Lucy Warner took
sudden flight. She understood at last the peculiar girl’s innate honesty
of character, and could not do else than respect her for her drastic
stand.

“Lucy feels afraid she may not find any kind of work at Hamilton to help
her out with her personal expenses,” Marjorie continued. “She can tutor
in either Latin or mathematics. She has saved nearly two hundred dollars
from her work last year and this summer. If she should enter Hamilton
this fall her mother will do practical nursing. Then she will be earning
quite a good deal of money and she won’t be so lonely. That’s the way
things are with Lucy. I wish she would enter college with the rest of
us. It would be easier for her and nice for us to be freshmen together.”

“Would Lucy accept financial help from you? You may offer it to her if
you think best, Lieutenant.” Mrs. Dean’s generous proposal arose from a
relieved mind. She could make it with absolute freedom of spirit.

“No, Captain. I am the last one Lucy would allow to help her. If Ronny
were here she might be able to make Lucy see things in the right light.
Ronny is the only one, I feel sure, who could convince her. She would
not give up until she had. But goodness knows when we shall see Ronny
again!”

An anxious little pucker appeared between Marjorie’s brows. Not since
the first of July had she heard word from Veronica Lynne, Miss Archer’s
God-child. Ronny had left Sanford a few days after Commencement, and had
written her a lengthy train letter, en route for California. This
Marjorie had answered, using a San Francisco address Ronny had given
her. For one reason or another, Ronny had not replied to it.

“I wish Ronny would write me,” she said. “She promised me she’d write
_me_ if she didn’t write anyone else. I know she will keep her word; but
when?”

During their confidential talk, Marjorie had remained seated on her
mother’s lap. Tardy recollection that she was altogether too heavy for
comfort brought her to her feet.

“Poor, dear Captain!” she exclaimed. “You can’t help but be tired from
holding a great, heavy elephant like me! We had so much to talk about. I
forgot everything except how nice it was to snuggle close to you and be
comforted. That’s the very hardest part of being away from you. I won’t
have my superior officers near by to report to.”

“You will have to tuck your reports away in your mind and have a
reporting session when you come home on your vacations,” her mother
suggested.

“Yes; and I promise you, Captain, that all my vacations will be spent
with _you_.” Marjorie pointed an emphatic finger at her mother. “I’ll
never desert my Captain and my General when I have a furlough. No, sir!”

“I think I shall hold you to that promise, Lieutenant. You have made it
of your own accord. I would rather have it a free will promise. You will
be away the greater part of the year. Those precious vacations belong to
us. I know General feels the same.”

“I wish you both to be very stingy of me. Then I shall be sure you love
me a lot,” Marjorie replied with playful emphasis. She no longer felt
like crying. While outdoors the rain continued to beat down; indoors the
sun had broken through the clouds.

“Once, oh, very long ago, you spoke of reading me Jerry’s letter,” Mrs.
Dean presently reminded. “Then the rain descended and the floods came,
and——”

“We forgot all about it,” supplemented Marjorie. “All right, my dearest
Captain, I will proceed to read it to you this minute.” This time she
picked it up from the floor. It had dropped from her hand when she had
briefly descended into the valley of woe. Settling herself in an easy
chair, she unfolded the letter and promptly began:

“‘Magnificent Marjoram:

“‘I want to go home! It is hot here. This part of the globe is getting
ready to burn down. The beach is hot; the hotel is hotter and the sun is
hottest. It was nice and cool here until about a week ago. Then the sun
came rambling along and started to smile. After that he beamed. Now he
is on the job all day with a broad grin. Maybe we don’t notice it! Still
our family love to linger in this hot berg. Hal hates to give up the
bathing. Mother and Father are deep in a series of old-fashioned whist.
They meet the same friends here each year, and they always play whist.
They are anxious to stay for the last game in the series.

“‘I’m the only one who longs for home. I offered to go home by myself
and keep Lonesome Hall. Mother said, “Nay, nay!” I pleaded that you
would feed and nourish me and let me sleep in your garage until she came
home. That didn’t go. Here I languish while some of the Macys swim in
the surf and others of them hold up a hand at whist.

“‘Everyone at Severn Beach is growling about the heat. It has never been
like this before. While I’m sitting squarely in front of an electric
fan, I’m moderately cool. The minute I move off from it, I’m wilted. The
last leaf of the last rose of summer was beautiful as compared to me at
the end of a perfect day down here.

“‘Next year, we are going to the mountains. I don’t know which mountains
the folks intend to put up on, but I know where Jeremiah is going. I’m
going straight to the top of Mount Everest, which our good old geography
used to inform us was the highest peak on earth. Five miles high! Think
of it! I shall go clear to the top and roost there all summer. I shall
have my meals brought up to me three times a day. That means five miles
per meal for somebody. I certainly shall not go after them myself. It
will be a wonderful vacation! So restful! Tell you more about it when I
see you. You may go along if you happen to need perfect peace and rest.

“‘Oh, Marjorie, I am so anxious to see you and talk my head off! There
isn’t a single girl at the beach this year that amounts to a handful of
popcorn. They are so terribly grown-up and foolish; idiotic I might
better say. They make eyes at poor old Hal and he gets so wrathy. Every
time he sees one coming towards him, when he is down on the main
veranda, you ought to see him arise and vanish. Sometimes, when he gets
so disgusted he has to talk, he comes around and tells me how silly he
thinks they are. Then, to tease him, I tell him he shouldn’t be so
beautiful. You ought to hear him rave. If there is anything he hates it
is to be called “beautiful.”

“‘By the way, how are you enjoying this letter? Great, isn’t it? I am
trying to tell you all the news, only there is none to tell. Oh, I
almost forgot. I must tell you of the lovely walk I had one day last
week. I came in from bathing one morning and thought I would take a walk
around the town. It had been raining early in the morning and then had
grown quite cool for this furnace.

“‘I dressed up in a new white pongee suit, which is very becoming to
Jeremiah, and I wore my best round white hemp hat. It is imported and
cost money.

“‘I started out and walked briskly up one avenue and briskly down
another. Fast walking is supposed to be good exercise for people who
weigh one hundred and forty pounds, when they are hoping to weigh one
twenty-five. I won’t speak of myself. The streets of this town were
paved just after paving was invented, as an advertisement, I suspect,
and they have never been touched since. With this explanation, as Miss
Flint was fond of remarking, I will proceed with my story.

“‘I was about half way across one of these ancient, hobblety-gobble
outrages, when I came to grief. My feet slipped on a slimy brick and I
landed flat on my back in a puddle of dirty water. I hit my poor head an
awful bang. I’m speaking of myself all right enough now. I was so mad I
couldn’t think of anything to say. All my choicest slang flew away when
I whacked my head. My nice round hemp hat was saved a ducking. It jumped
off my head and almost across the street. Some little jumper, that hat!
An obliging breeze caught it, and it scuttled off around the corner and
would have been home ahead of me if it hadn’t collided with a horse
block. It sat down with a flop and waited for me.

“‘The spectators to Jeremiah’s fall were three children, a horse, and an
old green and yellow parrot. The kiddies weren’t impressed, but the
parrot yelled and ha-ha-ed and enjoyed himself a whole lot. He was in a
cage hung on a porch right near where I fell. I don’t know what the
horse thought. He behaved like a gentleman, though. He didn’t either
rubber or laugh. That’s more than I can say of the other witnesses to my
disaster.

“‘But, on with my narrative. I’ll leave you to imagine how I looked. My
white pongee suit was no longer suitable. It was a disgrace to the noble
house of Macy. I had to get home, just the same, so I faced about and
hit up a pace for the hotel. I had gone about two blocks when I met a
jitney. I never enjoyed meeting anyone so much before as that jitney
man. Of course the hotel verandas were full of people. It was just
before luncheon and folks were sitting around, hopefully waiting for the
dining rooms to open.

“‘Fortunately it was my back that had suffered injury from the mud. I
gave one look to see who was behind me. There was no one but an old man
in a wheel chair and a couple of spoons. They were so busy beaming on
each other that I was a blank to them. I made a dash for the side
entrance to the hotel and caught the elevator going up. I went with it.
Thus ends the tale of Jeremiah’s fateful walk. Thus ends my news also.
When you hear from me again, it will probably be in person. I shall hit
the trail for Sanford, first chance I have. I must stop now and go to
dinner. I send you the faithful devotion of a loyal Lookout. That is no
mean little dab of affection. Remember me to your mother and pat Ruffle
for me. Now that I’m ending this letter, I can think of a lot of things
to tell you. Oh, well, I’ll write ’em another day or else say ’em.

                                                 “‘Lovingly your friend,
                                                         “‘Jerry Macy.’”

Marjorie had stopped reading to laugh more than once at Jerry’s droll
phrasing. “Isn’t Jerry funny, Mother?” she exclaimed. “Hal is funny,
too. Still he isn’t so funny as Jerry. I think——”

Whatever Marjorie might have further said regarding Jerry’s letter
remained unspoken. Her gaze chancing to travel to a window, she sprang
to her feet with an exclamation of surprise. Next she ran to the window
and peered curiously out. A taxicab from the station had stopped before
the gate. From the house it was not easy to distinguish, through the
driving rain, the identity of the solitary fare, for whom the driver had
left his machine to open the gate. It was a slim girlish figure, too
slender to be Jerry. Through the mist Marjorie caught the smart lines of
a navy blue rain coat, buttoned to the chin and a gleam of bright hair
under a tight-lined blue hat.

Could it be? Marjorie’s heart began a tattoo of joy. It didn’t seem
possible—yet the blue-clad figure, making for the house at a run, was
unmistakable.

“Captain, it’s Ronny!” she shrieked in a high jubilant treble. “She just
got out of a taxicab and she’s here!”

Without stopping to make further explanation, Marjorie rushed to the
front door to welcome the last person she had expected to see on that
stormy morning, Veronica Lynne.



CHAPTER III.—THE REAL RONNY.


“Ronny Lynne, who would have expected to see you?” rejoiced Marjorie. “I
can’t believe my own eyes.” Two welcoming arms embraced the beloved
visitor, regardless of her dripping rain coat.

“Oh, I know I’m the great unexpected,” laughed Veronica, warmly
returning Marjorie’s embrace. “Now break away, reckless child, before
you are quite as wet as I. See what you get for hugging a rushing
rivulet. Oh, Marjorie Dean, but I’m glad to see you! I can’t begin to
tell you how much I have missed you. I received your letter and meant to
answer at once. Then I——”

Veronica broke off in her abrupt fashion. This time it was to greet Mrs.
Dean, who, after leaving the two girls together during the first
enthusiasm of meeting had now come forward to welcome Ronny.

“A bad day for traveling, but a happy one for us,” she said, as she
affectionately kissed Miss Archer’s God-child. “Help Ronny out of that
wet rain coat, Lieutenant. Better go straight upstairs with Marjorie,
Veronica. She will soon make you comfortable with one of her negligees
and house slippers. I will bring you a cup of consommé. I know you must
be hungry.”

“I am hungry, and I would love to dress up in some of Marjorie’s
clothes,” Ronny made reply. Marjorie was already busy undoing the
buttons of her friend’s coat.

“Come right along upstairs then,” Marjorie invited. “I’ll soon have you
fixed all nice and comfy. I am so happy, Ronny. I’ve been thinking of
you as away off in California, and here you have been hustling across
the continent to visit me.”

“And all the time I have been congratulating myself on the blessed fact
that I would really have a chance to be chummy with you when I finally
arrived,” exulted Ronny, as she ran lightly up the wide open staircase
behind her hostess. Mrs. Dean had already hurried kitchenward to see to
the consommé.

“We will be the best chums ever!” Pausing on the top step, Marjorie
stretched forth a hand. “Welcome to my house and heart,” she said.
Tucking her friend’s hand within her arms she drew her down a short hall
and into her own particular domain. The door of Marjorie’s “house” stood
open as though hospitably awaiting the arrival of the guest. Its dainty
pink and whiteness shed a light and beauty, infinitely cheering on a
dark day.

“And now to give you something to dress up in.” Loosing Veronica’s hand,
Marjorie crossed the room and threw open the door of a large dress
closet. “Yours to command,” she offered with a hospitable gesture.
Pressing a button in the wall the wardrobe sprang alight, disclosing the
finery of girlhood in all its rainbow hues.

“Oh, you choose a garment for me to luxuriate in,” Ronny returned. “I
don’t know the whys and wherefores of your clothes.”

Marjorie peered thoughtfully at her array of gowns and selected a
half-fitted negligee of old-rose silk. A moment’s search in a cunningly
contrived shoe cupboard at one side of the closet, and she held up
quilted satin slippers to match.

“Thank you, hospitable one.” Veronica was already clear of her dark blue
bengaline frock and reaching for the silken comfort of the negligee. Her
wet pumps soon removed, she donned the soft slippers and settled back in
a willow rocker with a sigh of satisfaction. “I can’t begin to tell you
how comfortable I am,” she said. “I had to change cars this morning
before eight, and in the rain. All I had to console me was the thought
that I would be in Sanford before noon. God-mother doesn’t know I am
east. I didn’t write her because I was anxious to give her a surprise.
I’ll go to see her tomorrow. I wanted to come to you first. I never had
much chance to be here when I was ‘Miss Archer’s servant.’”

Ronny’s tones rippled with amused laughter. An answering smile rose to
Marjorie’s lips. Memory recalled the sedate, reserved girl she had known
as Veronica Browning. She was now beginning to glimpse the real Ronny;
brilliant, high-spirited, sure of herself, with the independence of
those who have known the bitterness of poverty.

“You are so different, Ronny,” she said. “I mean from last year. Once in
a great while I used to see flashes of you as you are now. I remember
the night you danced that wonderful butterfly number at the Campfire.
You seemed happy and so much more like a real girl than as I saw you in
school each day. You are like a butterfly who is so glad to be free of
the chrysalis.”

“How nice in you to compare me to anything so beautiful as a butterfly.
I am glad to be free of the part I played last year. I am not sorry I
played it, though. Is Mignon La Salle going to Hamilton College?” she
asked, with an abrupt change of subject. “I hope not. I think I can
never forgive her for the trouble she made you. I never minded in the
least the way she treated me.”

“No; Mignon is going to Smith College. She is all right now, Ronny,”
Marjorie earnestly assured. “When she faced about last spring she truly
meant it.”

“You deserve the credit for having hauled her through,” was Ronny’s
blunt opinion. “I never would have had the patience. A good many times
last year I was tempted to tell you who I really was. I did not care to
have the other girls know, and Jerry was so curious about me. I was
afraid it might make trouble for you if you knew and they didn’t. The
Lookouts would have been likely to ask you about me. Then, if I had
pledged you to secrecy, it would have meant your refusal to answer any
questions concerning me. This year——”

Veronica broke off in the old way which had always been so baffling to
Marjorie. For an instant a vague sense of disappointment visited her. It
was as though Ronny had once again suddenly dropped the curtain of
mystery between them.

Her brown eyes fixed with unconscious solemnity on her guest, she became
aware that Veronica was laughing at her. “I know what you are thinking,”
Ronny declared. “You think I am the same aggravating old mystery who
used never to finish a sentence. Good reason why I chopped off a remark
I was about to make. I almost told you a secret.” Her tone was now
purposely tantalizing. “Had I best tell you now or wait awhile?”

The entrance into the room of Mrs. Dean, bearing a lacquered tray, on
which was a steaming cup of consommé and a plate of small crisp rolls,
interrupted any confidence Ronny might have been on the point of making.
Lingering for a few minutes’ talk with Veronica, Mrs. Dean left the two
girls with the reminder that the luncheon bell would soon ring.

Marjorie, meanwhile, had learned something new of Ronny. She realized
that now her friend was only playing at secrecy. Ronny would never again
be a mystery to her as in the past.

“I’ve learned something about you, Ronny Lynne,” she commented in merry
accusation. “You love to tease. Well, you can’t tease me. As for your
old secret you may do just as you please. You may tell me now or after
while. I’m not a bit curious. Ahem! I won’t say I am not _interested_.
Wouldn’t you like to tell me now?”

She laid a coaxing hand on Ronny’s arm. The latter’s radiant face was an
index to pleasant news.

“Would I? Perhaps.” Ronny pretended to deliberate. “Well, listen hard.
Once upon a time there was a person named Ronny who decided to go to
college. She had heard about a college named Hamilton, and——”

“You’re going to Hamilton! You’re going to Hamilton!” Marjorie had
sprung from her chair and was performing a dance of jubilation about
Veronica. “It is the best old secret I ever heard!”

“I hoped you would be pleased.” There were tears just back of Ronny’s
eyes. She loved Marjorie with the great strength of a first friendship.
Naturally she was moved by the hearty reception of her news.

“_Pleased!_ That doesn’t express it! This morning I was lonesome and
wished something pleasant would happen. The girls are all away from
Sanford. Lucy Warner and I are the only Lookouts at home. Lucy is
secretary to Mr. Forbes, a Sanford lawyer, so I don’t see her very
often. I never dreamed that the rain would bring me you. And now comes
the crowning happiness! You are going to be with me at Hamilton. I think
I am a very lucky Lookout.” Marjorie had paused in front of Veronica,
hands resting lightly on the arms of the latter’s chair. “When you left
Sanford last June, Ronny, had you any idea then of entering Hamilton?”

“No.” Ronny shook a decided head. “I was not sure of coming east again
for a long while. Father missed me dreadfully last year. I could tell
that from his letters. I thought he would ask me to stay at home and
engage a tutor for me. After I had been at home awhile we went on a pony
riding trip over some of his fruit ranches. We had lots of long talks
and I told him a great deal about you. He was much interested in the
Lookouts and asked a good many questions about the club. He asked which
college you expected to enter, and if I would like to go east again to
college. I found that he really wished me to go to an eastern college,
provided I was of the same mind. He always gives me the privilege of
choice. Of course, I chose Hamilton. So here I am. I shall divide my
visits between you and God-mother until time to go to Hamilton, and then
we’ll journey into the far country of college together along with as
many of the Lookouts as shall decide for Hamilton.”

“Jerry is going to be a Hamiltonite,” returned Marjorie, her bright face
showing her happiness. “Muriel Harding, too. I am not sure about Lucy
Warner, Ronny. She may have to wait until next year to enter college.
She won’t let anyone help her with her personal expenses.”

“I expected some such hitch in her plans,” was Ronny’s almost grim
reply. “I would have offered her personal aid last June, but knew it
would not be best then. I intended to write you about it. When I decided
for college I knew I could talk things over with you and plan how to
help Lucy while on this visit.”

“If anyone can persuade her that she really ought to enter Hamilton,
this year, it will be you,” Marjorie asserted confidently.

“I will do my best,” promised Ronny. “I ought to have made that
scholarship cover everything in the way of expense down to a shoestring.
I was positive Lucy would win it. She is so proud. I merely tried to
save her dignity by offering the regulation scholarship.”

The musical tinkle of a bell from below stairs announced luncheon.
Marjorie caught Ronny’s hands and drew her up from her chair.

“There’s the luncheon bell,” she announced. “Come along, Ronny. We have
some glorious news to tell Captain.”

Their arms twined about each other’s waists, the two friends walked
slowly toward the half open door. There they stopped to talk. A second
and louder jingling of the bells soon informed them that they were
loiterers.

“That’s Captain,” laughed Marjorie. “She knows we’ve stopped to talk.
Delia rang the bell first time. She only tinkled it a little.”

Accelerating their pace, the two gaily descended the stairs. More fully
the joy of the occasion was borne upon Veronica. It was wonderful to her
to be so near and dear to a girl like Marjorie. More, this happy state
of affairs would continue all year. There would be no cloud of mystery
between them as had been at high school. She was determined also that no
clouds should obscure Marjorie’s college sky if she could prevent their
gathering. If Marjorie’s strict adherence to truth and justice brought
her the disfavor of the unworthy, she would not have to contend against
them single-handed.



CHAPTER IV—CONCERNING JEREMIAH.


Luncheon proved a merry little meal. When one has been suddenly lifted
out of the dumps by the arrival of a friend from afar, and afterward
doubly cheered by exceptionally good news, the dreariness of a rainy day
is soon forgotten.

Returned to the living room after luncheon, Marjorie drew forward a
deep, soft-cushioned chair with wide padded arms.

“Take this chair, Ronny,” she invited. “It’s the most comfortable old
thing! In winter it is my pet lounging place at twilight. I love to curl
up in it and watch the firelight. Captain likes that wicker chair near
the table. General and I always fight over this one. If he gets it
first, I try to tip him out of it. I might as well try to move a
mountain. He braces his feet and sits and laughs at me. Ruffle, my big
Angora cat, claims it, too. He always looks so injured if I lift him
from it.”

“An extremely popular chair,” commented Ronny, smiling. Settling back in
it, she added: “I don’t wonder you all fight for it. I shall enter the
lists, too.”

“You are welcome to it. You’re company. It’s only the Deans who won’t
respect one another’s claims, Captain excepted. By the Deans, I mean
General, Ruffle and me.”

“Much obliged for clearing me of the charge,” her captain remarked with
twinkling eyes. “You should hear those squabbles, Veronica. They are
noisy enough to bring the house down.”

Veronica laughed, yet into her gray eyes sprang a wistful light. “My
father loves to tease me like that,” she said. “We had such good times
this summer at Mañana. That is the name of our largest ranch. We live
there most of the time.”

“Mañana?” Marjorie looked questioningly at Ronny. “That means ‘morning’
in Spanish, doesn’t it? I know a few Spanish words. General speaks the
language. His trips often take him to Mexico.”

“Yes, it also means ‘tomorrow,’” Ronny answered. “The full name of our
Mañana is ‘Lucero de la Mañana.’ It means ‘Star of the Morning.’ I named
it. Father bought it when I was twelve years old. The first time I saw
it was one morning before seven. We were on a riding trip and could look
down on it from a height. It was so beautiful, I asked Father to find
out if it were for sale. It belonged to a Spanish woman, Donna Dolores
de Mendoza. She was willing to part with it, as she wished to go to
Spain to live. So Father bought it. I hope someday you will visit me
there. I shall never be satisfied until the Dean family are under the
Lynnes’ roof tree.”

“Someday,” Marjorie made hopeful promise. “General has said he would
take us on a western trip sometime.”

“I hope that ‘sometime’ will be next summer,” returned Ronny. “When I
grow to know your worthy General well, I shall interview him on the
subject.”

Veronica’s allusion to her far western home furnished Marjorie with an
opportunity she had long desired. She was anxious to hear more of
Ronny’s life prior to her advent into Sanford. She had, therefore, a
great many interested questions to ask which she knew Ronny would now be
willing to answer. Formerly, while Ronny had been securely wrapped in
her cloak of reserve, Marjorie had never attempted to question her
personally.

Ronny, in turn, had an equal number of questions to ask regarding
Sanford and the Lookouts. The afternoon slipped away before either of
the reunited friends was aware that it had gone.

“Do you suppose we’ll ever catch up in talking?” Ronny asked in
pretended despair, as the three women lingered over the dessert at
dinner that evening.

“Oh, after a long while,” easily assured Marjorie. “You see I couldn’t
get you to talk about yourself last year, so we lost a good deal of
time. I am actually ashamed for asking you so many questions, Ronny.
Still there were so many things I wanted to ask you last year and did
not feel free to. Wait until you see Jerry. She will ask you more
questions than I have. She said in her last letter to me that she had no
news to tell. Well, I shall have some news to tell her when she comes
home. She will be so surprised when she——”

“_Surprised?_ Well, yes; _quite_ a lot.”

The familiar voice that gave utterance to this pithy affirmation
proceeded from the doorway leading into the reception hall. It
electrified the placid trio at the table. Three heads turned
simultaneously at the sound. Marjorie made a dive for the doorway.

“Jeremiah!” she exclaimed, with a joyful rising inflection on the last
syllable. “Wherever did you come from? This is my third splendid
surprise today. You can see for yourself who’s here. You’ve had one
surprise, at least.” Marjorie clung to Jerry with enthusiastic fervor.

“I have, I have,” agreed Jerry, putting two plump arms around Ronny, who
had come forward the instant she grasped the situation. “Now how in the
world do you happen to be here, mysterious Mystery? You are the last
person I thought would be on the job to welcome me to our city.”

“How long have _you_ been here? That is what I should like to know,”
Marjorie interposed, patting the hand she held between her own.

“Long enough to hear all you said about me. I’m simply furious. No; I am
perfectly delighted, I mean. Now what do I mean?” Jerry showed her white
even teeth in a genial grin.

“We didn’t say anything about you that would either delight you or make
you furious. I know you didn’t hear a single thing we said, except maybe
the last sentence. How did you get in? Not by the front door or we would
have heard the bell. Now confess: Delia let you in by the back door.”
Marjorie waved a triumphant finger before Jerry’s nose as she made this
conjecture.

“I’ll never tell how I came in. No; that won’t do, Geraldine. You must
try to be civil to these Deans. They may ask you to stay a few days and
you——” Jerry paused significantly, then sidled up to Mrs. Dean. “I’m so
pleasant to have around,” she simpered. “You will positively adore me
when you get used to my ways.” She put both arms around Mrs. Dean and
gave her a resounding kiss.

“You may stay as long as you please, and the longer you stay the better
pleased we shall be.” Her invitation thus extended, Mrs. Dean was now
assisting Jerry to remove her long coat of tan covert cloth. “How did
you manage to keep so dry, Jerry?” she inquired. “It has been raining
steadily all evening. Veronica came to us thoroughly drenched.”

“The beautiful truth is, Delia hung my coat in front of the range and
dried it. I had an umbrella, too, and I ran like a hunter the minute I
left the taxi. I made the driver stop at the corner below the house and
I ducked in at the side gate. I landed on your back porch just as Delia
was going to serve the dessert. I asked her not to tell you I was here.
It’s a great wonder she didn’t laugh and give me away.”

“I noticed she had a broad smile on her face when she came into the
dining room. I thought it was in honor of Ronny. Here she was aiding and
abetting _you_, Jeremiah Macy! She knows I have been anxiously waiting
for you to come home. Just wait till I see her!”

Marjorie chuckled in anticipation of her interview with Delia. The
latter would regard Jerry’s stealthy arrival as a huge joke in which she
had played an important part.

“I thought a relative had come to see you,” Jerry continued. “Delia said
it was a young lady from away off. That’s all she seemed to want to tell
me. I didn’t quiz her. It was none of my business.”

“That is the time Delia fooled you,” Ronny asserted. “Delia knows me.
She wanted to surprise you, too.”

“All right for Delia. Wait until _I_ interview her for keeping so quiet
about you.” All of which pointed to a lively session for Delia. “Anyhow
I had some cherry pudding with whipped cream. I saw it the minute I
struck the kitchen. I hoped it wouldn’t give out before it got around to
me. There was enough, though, for Delia and me. We emptied the dish.”

“All this going on behind my back!” Mrs. Dean made an unsuccessful
effort to look highly displeased. “I shall have to discipline the
commissary department for smuggling vagrants into the house under my
very nose. Not to mention distributing pudding with a free hand!”

“Vagrants! She means me.” Jerry rolled her eyes as though greatly
alarmed. “I see I’ll have to swallow the insult. If I make a fuss I may
be put out.”

“Promise good conduct in future and we’ll try to overlook the past,”
Marjorie graciously conceded.

“Thank you, kind lady! I wasn’t always like this. Once I had a home——”
Jerry gave vent to a loud snivel. “I lost it. Now all I can say is:

  “Into your house some tramps must fall,
  Some Deans must be made aweary.”

Sobbing out this pathetic sentiment, Jerry endeavored to lean on
Marjorie, with disastrous results. They were saved from toppling over by
landing with force against Veronica.

“Here, here!” expostulated Ronny. “Don’t add assault and battery to
vagrancy. Have some respect for me. I’m a real guest. I arrived by the
front door.”

“Excuse me and blame Marjorie for being an unstable prop. Try to regard
me as your friend.” Jerry leered confidently at Ronny.

“I’ll think it over. You are the funniest old goose ever. I’ll try to
prevail upon the Deans to let you stay.”

“Oh, I think I can manage them,” Jerry returned in a confident stage
whisper.

“Yes, we are going to be kind to our tramp now.” Marjorie gently
propelled Jerry to the table and shoved her, unresisting, into a chair.
“You had dessert. Now you had better have the rest of the dinner. While
Delia is getting it ready you can tell us how it all happened. How did
you get away from the beach before your folks were ready to come home?”

“I teased Mother good and hard and she finally said ‘yes.’ It took me
about two hours to pack and wish the beach good-bye. The folks will be
home Saturday. I’ll have three whole days with you girls. I hadn’t
figured on the distinguished presence of Miss Veronica Browning Lynne.”

“Neither had I,” smiled Marjorie. “The best part of Ronny’s visit is
that it is going to last until the very day I start for Hamilton. Ronny
is going to Hamilton, too, Jerry.”

“Did I get that right?” Jerry placed an assisting hand to one ear. “Say
it again, will you? Hooray!” Jerry picked up a dessert fork and waved it
jubilantly. “The three of us; and Muriel Harding as a fourth staunch
supporter! We can teach the Hamilton faculty how to act and
revolutionize the whole college. Oh, yes! Lucy Warner makes a fifth.
Ummm! She will have to be supported until she gets on her ear. Then
she’ll freeze solid and support herself.”

Neither Ronny nor Marjorie could refrain from laughing at this view of
Lucy. It was so precisely like her.

“Thank goodness there won’t be Mignon to reform.” Jerry sighed
exaggerated relief. “Any more sieges like the four years’ siege of
Mignon ahead of me, and I’d stay at home and go to night school for a
change. Talk about the wars of the Trojans! They were simple little
scraps compared with the rows we’ve had at Sanford High with various
vandals.”

Delia appearing from the kitchen with a heavily laden tray, the three
girls greeted her with a concerted shout. Not in the least dismayed, she
only beamed more broadly, as each of the trio attempted to take her to
task, and refused to commit herself.

After Jerry had made a substantial repast, she was triumphantly
conducted to her room by Ronny and Marjorie.

“Have you a kimono or negligee in your bag, Jerry? If you have, put it
on and be comfy. If you haven’t, speak now and you can have one of mine.
Captain will be on guard duty in the living room this evening. If any
one calls they won’t have the pleasure of seeing us. We are going to
have an old-time talking bee in my house. Come along as soon as you are
ready.”

“I have a kimono in my traveling bag. It has probably acquired about a
thousand wrinkles by this time,” returned Jerry. “Wrinkled or no, I
shall hail it with joy. You may expect me at your house in about fifteen
minutes.”

“All right,” Marjorie called over her shoulder, as she and Ronny left
Jerry. “Don’t be longer than that. Remember we have weighty matters to
discuss this evening. If we began early enough we may have the affairs
of the universe settled before midnight.”

When within the prescribed fifteen minutes Jerry joined her chums, it
was their own personal affairs that came up for discussion. Enough had
happened during the summer in their own little sphere to keep them
talking uninterruptedly all evening.

“There is one thing we must do before we leave Sanford for college and
that is pass the Lookout Club on to the senior class at Sanford High.
You know we planned to do so when we organized the club, Jeremiah,”
Marjorie reminded.

“That’s so,” Jerry agreed, “but how do we go about it? If we just hand
it to the senior class, they may not carry it on as we would wish them
to. It was really our own little private club. I’m not crazy to continue
it as a sorority.”

“We ought to, Jerry, just the same. The Lookouts have been a credit to
Sanford High, and the influence we have tried to exert should be carried
on each year by fifteen seniors.” Marjorie spoke with conviction. “I
have thought a good deal about it this summer. I believe the best way
for us to do is for each of the Lookouts to propose the name of one
member of the present senior class. As soon as the other girls come home
we will have a meeting. The names of the candidates can be written on
slips of paper and read out to the club in turn. If any one of us
objects to another’s choice, she must say so and state her reason. If it
is sufficient, the name will be dropped and the Lookout who proposed it
may propose another.”

“That’s a good idea. While we can be trusted, I hope not to pick lemons,
slackers and shirkers, still it makes our choice surer to have it
approved by the gang. So long as we are to be the ones to do the
choosing, I begin to see light.” Jerry had begun to show more
enthusiasm.

“It’s really organizing what one might call a new Lookout chapter. We
are the charter members and will continue to run our chapter as we like.
Next year the girls we choose will select their fifteen members for a
new chapter, and so on, indefinitely,” said Veronica.

“We need these new girls, Jerry,” Marjorie earnestly pointed out. “We
can’t look after the day nursery and go to college, too. While we have
hired help there, and Miss Allison, you know, is always ready to do all
she can to help keep it running smoothly, we need the personal influence
of the seniors at the nursery. There should be two club members to take
their turn each day from four to six, as we did.”

“Who has been looking after that part of it this summer?” Jerry demanded
abruptly, her keen eyes on Marjorie. “I wrote and asked you that and you
never answered my question. You are the one who has probably been making
a slave of yourself at that same nursery while the rest of us have been
having a lovely time.”

“I have been down there twice a week from four to six,” Marjorie
replied. “Sometimes Captain went with me. Thanks to _that_ generous
person,” she indicated Ronny, “we could afford to engage some one to
amuse the children. Ronny put five hundred dollars in bank for a
vacation fund and never said a single word about it. When she was half
way to California I received a note from Mr. Wendell asking me to call
at the bank. You can imagine what a surprise it was to me. It was fine
in you to think of it, Ronny. The girls were worried, for we found out
that all of the Lookouts except me, were going to be away from Sanford
at about the same time.

“While we had quite a good deal of money in the treasury we didn’t think
of engaging anyone from outside,” she continued. “It worked beautifully.
Miss Stratton, a kindergarten teacher, needed the work on account of
having an invalid sister to support. Then, Nellie Wilkins, one of the
mill girls, had been sick for a long time and when she was well enough
to go back to her work as a weaver there was no position for her. She is
a very sweet girl and knows all the children. She was a great help to
Miss Stratton and I would like her to have the position permanently at
the nursery. She knows all the songs and games now that Miss Stratton
taught the children and is the best person one could have there.”

“Whew!” whistled Jerry. “Things have certainly been happening at the
nursery. You are simply splendid, Ronny. You are always thinking of some
way to help people. Just wait until I take my presidential chair as
chief boss of the Lookouts. I will publish your noble deed abroad.”

“If you _don’t_, I _will_,” emphasized Marjorie. “There isn’t much we
can say to tell you how grateful we are to you, Ronny.”

“Don’t say anything.” A bright flush had risen to Ronny’s cheeks. “I
knew the girls would be away. I thought you would be quite apt to worry
about the nursery and spend a lot of time there for conscientious
reasons. I was thinking more of you I presume than the nursery.”

“It was a great relief,” Marjorie made honest response. “Besides, it
helped two splendid girls along.”

“Then let it rest at that. Never mind about publishing my, thus-called,
noble deed at a club meeting. I prefer not to let my right hand know
what my left happens to be doing,” declared Ronny. “What we must think
of is getting the new Lookout chapter started. We ought to have it
organized by the fifth of September so it will stand on its own feet.
After the fifth you know what a rush there will be. We shall be going to
farewell teas, luncheons and parties. At least I hope so. Last year I
had very good times. This fall things have changed. Now I’d love to
dance and be happy with the crowd of Sanford boys and girls who were so
friendly with me when I was a senior. Marjorie said today, Jerry, that I
was like a butterfly that had won free of the chrysalis. The butterfly
is anxious to spread its wings for a few last delightful flights around
Sanford.”



CHAPTER V.—THE BREAKING UP OF THE OLD GUARD.


“This saying good-bye business is growing harrowing,” complained Jerry
one hazy September morning. She stood with her chums on the station
platform, waving farewell to Florence Johnston, who was leaving for
Markham College, a western university. “This is the third time for us at
the station this week. Monday it was Mignon, Daisy Griggs and Gertrude
Aldine, all bound for Smith. Wednesday it was Esther, Rita, Susan and
Irma. I am not over the blues yet on account of losing Susan and Irma. I
wish they had chosen Hamilton instead of Wellesley.”

The seven Lookouts still left in Sanford were strolling soberly across
the green station yard to the drive behind the station where Jerry had
parked the Macys’ ample touring car. She had elected to drive it that
morning because of its capacity.

“Harriet and I are going to be the lonesome ones before long,” remarked
Constance Stevens, her blue eyes roving somberly from friend to friend.
The private conservatory Constance and Harriet were to enter did not
open until the latter part of October. This would make them the last to
leave Sanford. “It is going to seem awfully queer for us without you
girls, isn’t it, Harriet?”

“Yes.” Harriet was looking unduly solemn. “Still we knew long ago that
it would have to come sometime; this breaking up of the old crowd.”

“We must try to be together a lot during vacations. Most of us will be
home for Thanksgiving, and all of us for Christmas and Easter,” was
Marjorie’s philosophical consolation.

“Well, we’re going to have one last good old frolic at Connie’s tonight,
anyway,” was Jerry’s cheering reminder.

“I can’t come tonight, Constance,” Lucy Warner announced in her brusque
fashion. “I must give these last few evenings to Mother. Besides, I
don’t feel at home in your crowd when the boys are there. I don’t care
much about young men. I never know what to say to them,” she added,
coloring slightly.

“I understand the way you feel about it,” Constance returned with a
smile. She had once been visited by the same discomfiture in the first
days of her friendship with Marjorie. The others were laughing at Lucy’s
blunt avowal. “I’ll forgive you for turning down my party. You know we
would love to have you with us, but if you were not at ease it would be
hard for you.”

“Yes, it would. Much obliged.” Lucy’s terse agreement provoked fresh
laughter.

Ronny had promised Marjorie to take Lucy in hand and try to overcome her
objections to entering Hamilton College that fall. Three times she
besieged Lucy before success came. On the third interview, Ronny learned
the real difficulty. Very solemnly Lucy told her the story of the
Observer and her subsequent ingratitude toward Marjorie. Ronny had felt
righteous anger flame within her as she had listened. She had almost
wished she had never offered a scholarship in behalf of such an ingrate.
Her brain clearing of its hasty resentment, she had been visited by the
same divine pity for poor, embittered Lucy that had swayed Marjorie on
the occasion of the Observer confession.

Very cleverly Ronny had seized upon the confession to move Lucy from her
torturing resolve. She argued that, as it was Marjorie’s wish to see
Lucy enter college with herself and friends, she therefore owed it to
Marjorie as an amend honorable. Her point gained, Ronny managed also to
persuade Lucy to accept financial help from her if necessary. This she
reluctantly promised to do, provided she were allowed to repay her young
benefactor when in position to do so. Thus Lucy became the fifth
Lookout, Hamilton-bound, greatly to Marjorie’s delight.

“What you ought to do is practice hanging around with our gang until you
are not the least bit scared at Hal or Laurie or the rest of our boys,”
Jerry advised. “They aren’t ogres and hob-goblins. There is really
nothing very awe-inspiring about a young man. If you had lived in the
same house with Hal as long as I have, you would know how to talk to him
all right enough.”

“I haven’t; therefore I don’t,” Lucy returned concisely, but with an
open good nature which showed how greatly she had emerged from her shell
since becoming a Lookout.

“There goes Flora Frisbee,” suddenly called out Muriel, as she exchanged
a gay salute with a girl who had just passed in an automobile.

“Where?” inquired three or four voices. A particularly well liked
senior, Flora had acquired a further high standing with the Lookouts as
the president of the new chapter.

“Too late. She is out of sight. I just happened to see her as she
flashed by in her brother’s roadster. I think she is going to make a
dandy president. Don’t you?”

“The very best.” It was Jerry who answered. “I am certainly glad the new
chapter is going so nicely. They have settled down to that nursery
detail like veterans.”

“I was so proud of them that day at Muriel’s when we organized the new
chapter,” praised Ronny.

“They did as well as we when we began,” commented Muriel. “If only they
keep it up. We picked the best of the seniors.”

Following a meeting at Jerry’s home, at which the Lookouts had selected
the candidates for the new chapter, a second meeting had been held at
Muriel’s. Each charter Lookout had gallantly escorted her choice there.
Fifteen gratified seniors had listened to the rules of the club and
promised to live up to them. They had pledged themselves to faithfully
carry on the work of their absent elder sisters at the day nursery and
be always ready to help those in need of friendly aid. They had then
capably taken up the pleasant task of electing their officers and
performed it with business-like snap.

Soon after their organization they had accompanied the charter members
to the nursery and spent a merry afternoon getting acquainted with the
little ones. From then on they had begun their regular duty tours
accompanied, at first, by one of the old guard on each tour. Soon
accustoming themselves to the routine, their elder sisters breathed more
freely and set about attending to their own manifold affairs.

“We hope we picked fifteen winners. If we didn’t we’ll soon know it with
a bang. That nursery will run on wheels, minus one trouble maker. Just
one will throw the whole concern up in the air. While I don’t doubt our
new sisters, let time do its perfect work. So says Jeremiah. She says
further, get into the car all of you. I’m going to take you straight
home. I’m going to a party tonight and I have no time to waste standing
talking on the corner. There will be young men at that party!” Jerry
dropped her voice to a hoarse melodramatic whisper and stared wildly at
Lucy, chin thrust forward.

“I can’t help that. I—I should worry. I’m no buttinski.” Lucy’s
unexpected use of slang raised a gale of laughter.

“I am afraid you learned that from me. You are growing up precautious.
You need a guardian.” With this Jerry bundled Lucy into the tonneau of
the machine and turned her over to Marjorie and Muriel who had already
climbed into the car.

In her usual energetic fashion she proceeded to drive her chums to their
various homes, where she dropped them with scant ceremony. “I know you
are all in a hurry to get home,” she sweetly assured them. “If you
aren’t, I am. It’s all one. Good-bye. Shall I see you this evening? You
had better believe it.”

The informal gathering at Gray Gables would comprise the remaining
Lookouts of the charter and six or seven of the Sanford boys whom
Constance knew best and who were intimate friends of Laurie Armitage’s.
Marjorie, in particular, was happy in the invitation. She thought it so
beautiful that Connie, who had known the bitterest want, should be the
hostess at their last frolic, commemorative of their high school days.

As she dressed for the party that evening, her thoughts traveled back to
the eventful night of the freshman dance when Constance had worn the
blue gown and made her entrance into the social side of high school
under difficulties. At that time she had been a very humble person. Now
she was perhaps the most admired young woman in Sanford on account of
her beautiful voice. Things had changed a good deal in four years for
Connie, Marjorie reflected. She took a special pride in her appearance
that night, not only in honor of Constance, but because she owed it to
herself to look her best on that last happy evening with her friends.

When Veronica entered Marjorie’s house, attired in her white lace
Commencement Day frock, a pale blue evening cape composed of many
ruffles of chiffon hanging over one arm, she found a pensive little
figure in white occupying the pink and white window seat. Marjorie was
also wearing her graduation gown and looking utterly lovely in it.

“I’m mooning,” she announced, turning her curly head as Ronny entered,
her eyes very bright. “It’s a perfect night, Ronny. Almost warm enough
to go without a wrap. Hal will be here for us. I forgot to tell you. He
called me on the ’phone yesterday to ask me if he might take us over in
his car.”

Veronica smiled slightly at this frank announcement. It contained not a
trace of self-consciousness. Long ago Ronny had glimpsed Hal Macy’s mind
regarding Marjorie. She knew the latter to be the likable young man’s
ideal and had seen boyish worship of Marjorie more than once in his
clear blue eyes. She also understood that Marjorie was wholly fancy
free. While she valued Hal as a near friend, any awakening to a deeper
sentiment on her part belonged to a far distant day.



CHAPTER VI.—THE BOWKNOT OF AFFECTION.


That evening as Hal assisted the two girls into the tonneau of the
limousine, he was of the romantic opinion that he had merely persuaded a
couple of stray moonbeams to ride with him. The light of the fair,
increasing moon endowed the duo with a peculiar ethereal beauty which
gave him a feeling of reverence. Girls were mostly like flowers was his
boyish comparison. The most beautiful flower of them all was Marjorie.
Someday he would dare tell her so, but not for a long time.

Arrived at Gray Gables Hal had no further opportunity to “moon.” The
rest of the company had arrived and were impatiently awaiting them. The
limousine had hardly come to a stop on the drive when out of the house
they trooped, shouting the Sanford and Weston High School yells by way
of welcome. Danny Seabrooke and the Crane then broke into the “Stars and
Stripes” on mouth organs. Miles Burton rattled out a lively
accompaniment on little Charlie Stevens’ toy drum.

“I had no idea I was so popular.” Hal bowed his thanks to the noisy
musicians.

“You are not,” the Crane hastened to inform him. “That choice selection
we just rendered was in honor of the girls. Don’t credit yourself with
everything. It’s horribly conceited.”

“I’m glad you named it as a ‘selection,’” Hal made scathing retort.

“What, may I ask, would you name it?” queried Danny with a dangerous
affability.

“Making night hideous, or, a disgraceful racket, or, the last
convulsions of a would-be jazz band. Any little appellation like that
would be strictly appropriate.” Hal beamed ironically on the three.
“Nice little drummer boy you have there.”

Supposedly offended, Danny could not repress a loud snicker at this
fling. Miles Burton stood six feet, minus shoes. With Charlie’s toy drum
strung round his neck on a narrow blue ribbon, he was distinctly
mirth-inspiring.

“Throw any more remarks like that about me and you’ll find out my real
disposition,” warned Miles in a deep bass growl.

“Come ladies; let us hasten on before trouble overtakes us—me, I mean.
Back, varlets. Grab your instruments of torture and begone.” Hal grandly
motioned the objectionable varlets out of the way.

“That’s what I say,” called Jerry from the top step. “For once I agree
with Hal. Let the girls come up on the porch, can’t you? You four
sillies can stay outside and rave. Notice how well Laurie and Harry are
behaving. Try to be a little like them, if you can.”

“You can’t know them as I do,” rumbled Miles.

“No; I _guess not_,” emphasized Hal. “Well, I’d rather be called a silly
than a varlet.”

“That will do from all of you.” Jerry ran down the steps and with a few
energetic waves of the arms drove the masculine half of the guests up
onto the brightly-lighted veranda. There the entire company lingered to
talk, presently strolling into the long old-fashioned drawing room which
Constance used for dancing purposes when entertaining her friends.

“Be happy and make yourselves at home,” she said in her pretty, graceful
fashion. “Father and Uncle John will soon be here to play for us. They
are helping Mr. Beaver, the leader of the Sanford orchestra, organize
some of the Sanford working boys into an orchestra. It’s a fine idea. I
think Father and Uncle John will help him all they can whenever they are
at home.”

Marjorie cast a quick, inquiring look toward Constance. Her eyes
luminous with affection, she asked: “Has it come at last, Connie?”

“Yes, Marjorie,” Constance answered, in a proud, happy tone. “I would
like you to know,” she continued, turning to the others, “that Uncle
John is to be a first violin in Father’s symphony orchestra. You can
understand just how glad we feel about it.”

Connie’s news met with an echoing shout. All present cherished the
warmest regard for gentle Uncle John, who had ever been so willing to
play for them. Far removed from poverty, he had gradually regained the
lost faculty of memory and could now be relied upon for symphony work.

“Oh, just wait until he gets home!” promised Hal. “Won’t he get a
reception, though?”

“Surest thing in the world!” Laurie’s dark blue eyes were darker from
emotion. Laurie had known for a very long time that, if Constance’s
adopted family were not his own, some future day, it would not be his
fault.

“That explains why we haven’t seen Charlie,” smiled Marjorie. “He is
actually helping, at last, to organize a big band. I meant to ask for
him. There was so much sarcasm being hurled back and forth, my voice
would have been lost in the uproar,” she slyly added.

“He took his violin and music. The music was a lot of old stray song
sheets. He will play them and put everyone out, if he has a chance,”
Constance predicted with an infectious little giggle.

The entrance of Miss Allison into the drawing room brought the young
folks to their feet. Her fondness for youth made her a welcome addition
at their parties. She particularly enjoyed Danny Seabrooke’s antics and
the sham penalties they invariably brought on him.

“You young gentlemen will soon be leaving for college as well as our
girls,” she remarked to Hal. “I am glad Laurie has decided to go through
college before making music his profession. He really needs the college
training. Constance, on the contrary, will do as well to begin her
training for grand opera at once. She must study Italian and Spanish.
That, with her vocal practice, will keep her fully occupied. How I shall
miss my boys and girls! They have been life to me.” Miss Allison’s
delicate features saddened unconsciously.

A muffled sob, too realistic to be genuine, rent the air at her right.
Her sad expression vanished as her eyes lighted upon the mourner.
Slumped into the depths of a big velvet chair, Danny was struggling
visibly with his sorrowful emotions.

“To see us all here tonight, who would dream of the parting to come so
soon-n; s-o s-o-o-o-on-n!” he wailed, covering his freckled,
grief-stricken countenance with both hands. No one arising to assuage
his sorrow, his gurgles and sobs grew louder.

“Won’t some one please choke off that bellow?” Laurie viewed the
perpetrator of the melancholy sounds with a cold, unrelenting eye.

“_De_-lighted.” Hal rose from a seat on the davenport beside Marjorie
and advanced with threatening deliberation upon Danny.

“You needn’t mind. I am getting used to the idea of parting now.” The
“bellow” ceased like magic. Danny spoke in a small, sad voice that might
have belonged to a five-year-old girl. “Soon I shall be able to
contemplate it without a single tear. I could part from _you_,” he
suddenly recovered his own voice, “or that ruffian of an Armitage, and
smile; yes, sir; actually _smile_. I’d rather part at any time, and from
anybody than to be murderously ‘choked off’ by you two bullies.”

Danny hastily arose, after this defiant declaration, and retreated to
the lower end of the room. Crowding himself into a small rocking chair
belonging to Charlie, he rocked and smirked at Hal, who had followed him
to the chair and now stood over him.

“Move back a trifle, Mr. Macy. I refuse to be responsible for other
people’s shins. I have all I can do to take care of my own. If I were to
kick you, _accidentally_, I should be _so_ sorry!”

“Oh, undoubtedly! Wouldn’t you, though?” Bending, with one swift
movement of the arm, Hal upset the rocker and its grinning occupant.
“Now will you be good?” he inquired sarcastically. Leaving the
struggling wag to right himself, Hal strolled back to Marjorie.

The room rang with laughter at Danny’s upheaval, nor did it lessen as he
went through a series of ridiculous attempts to rise from the floor. In
the midst of the fun Charlie Stevens marched into the drawing room, his
little leather violin case tucked importantly under one arm, his music
under the other. Behind him were Mr. Stevens and John Roland.

“What for is he doing to my chair?” Charlie asked very severely.

“He’s trying to part with it, Charlie, and he’s either stuck in it or
pretending he is,” Harry Lenox replied to the youngster.

“You mustn’t ever sit in a chair that don’t look like you, Danny,”
reproved Charlie. “That chair looks like me. You ought to know better.”

This was too much for the erring Daniel. With a shout of mirth he
slipped free of the chair, and, catching up the little boy, swung him to
his shoulder. “You’re the funniest little old kid on creation!” he
exclaimed.

“That’s what I think,” returned Charlie, with an innocent complacency
that again brought down the house. From that on Charlie divided honors
with Uncle John, who was due to receive the sincere congratulations of
the young folks he had so often made happy by his music. To see the
white-haired, patient-faced old musician surrounded by his young friends
was a sight that Miss Allison never forgot. When, a little later, she
led Charlie from the room, bedward bound, there was thankfulness in her
heart because she had found the lonely people of the Little Gray House
in time.

With the musicians on the scene, dancing was promptly begun and
continued unflaggingly until a late supper was served in the dining
room. There a surprise awaited Marjorie. While the company were engaged
in eating the dessert, she had a dim idea that something unusual was
pending. She dismissed it immediately as a vague fancy.

Next she became aware that a silence had settled down upon the supper
party. Then Hal Macy rose from his chair and said in his clear, direct
tones: “I am going to read you a little tribute to a very good friend of
ours. I know you will agree with me that Marjorie Dean is largely
responsible for a great many pleasant times we have enjoyed since we
have known her. By that I mean, not only the merry evenings we have
spent at her home, but the happiness that has been ours because of her
fine influence. As well as I could, for I am no poet, I have tried to
put our sentiments into verse. While the meter may be faulty, the
inspiration is flawless.”

Applause greeted this frank, graceful little preamble. When it had
subsided, Hal read his verses. They fitly expressed, to the amazed, and
all but overcome, subject of them, the strength of her friends’
devotion. When he had finished she had no words with which to reply. She
was grateful for the fresh round of approbation that began. It gave her
time to force back her tears. She did not wish to break down if she
could help it. She felt that she owed it to Hal to thank him with a
smile.

Hardly had quiet been restored when Constance took the floor. In her
right hand she held an oblong box of white velvet. When she began to
speak, it was directly to Marjorie.

“What Hal has said to you, tonight, Marjorie, is so true and beautiful
that I couldn’t better it if I tried. He has expressed just the way we
feel about you, and what your sunny, dear influence has been to us. We
are afraid that someday you may run away and leave us, so we wish to tie
you to us with a bowknot of affection.”

Constance flitted the length of the table and around the end to the side
opposite from her seat. Pausing behind Marjorie’s chair, she slid a bare
white arm over her chum’s shoulder and gently dropped the velvet box in
front of her.

“I—I think I am going to cry,” quavered Marjorie, “and I don’t—want—to.
Please—I—don’t think—I—deserve——”

“I would advise you not to weep, Marjorie, or you may be treated as I
was,” warned Danny’s bland tones. “It’s not safe to sob around here.”

Marjorie gave a half tremulous giggle that was the forerunner of
recovery. Her tears checked, her hands trembled as she opened the white
velvet box. Then her emotion became that of sheer wonder. Resting on its
satin bed gleamed a string of graduated pearls from which hung a pearl
pendant in the form of a bowknot.

“What made you do this?” she faltered. “It isn’t _I_ who have ever done
anything to make you happy. It’s _you_ who have done everything to make
me happy. I don’t know what to say, only you are all so dear to me and
thank you.”

Constance standing beside Marjorie, an arm over her shoulder, Marjorie
turned and childishly hid her flushed face in the frills of Connie’s
white organdie gown. While her thoughts were far from collected, she was
experiencing a gladness of spirit because Constance could thus be her
refuge at a time of overwhelming happiness.



CHAPTER VII.—ON THE THRESHOLD.


The day after Constance’s party brought Marjorie her General. With her
father at home, after a lengthy absence, the sorrow of leaving her dear
ones came forward again. Marjorie tried earnestly to keep all locked
within and succeeded in a measure. Her General was not blind to the
situation, however, and exerted himself on all occasions to keep his
somewhat sober-faced lieutenant in good spirits.

On the morning of the day before Marjorie’s departure for college, he
announced his firm intention to help her pack. Nor did he swerve for an
instant from his self-imposed duty. Breakfast over, he chased the
lieutenant, screaming with laughter, up the stairs, landing in the
middle of her “house” with a flying leap which an acrobat might have
envied.

Regardless of his giggling daughter’s ideas on the subject of packing,
he swept down upon whatever lay nearest at hand and stowed it into one
of the two open trunks. His efforts at being helpful were brief. Three
determined pairs of hands intercepted his bold attempt to safely caché a
small taboret, a large embroidered doyley, a satin chair cushion, a cut
glass scent bottle and a Japanese vase. The energetic general’s services
were summarily dispensed with. He was banished from the room and the
door shut in his face with a bang. In less than fifteen minutes he
announced his return by a tattoo which threatened demolishment to the
door. He was not re-admitted until he had given his word not to meddle
with the packing. When Marjorie cautiously opened the door to him she
found him staggering under a load of pasteboard boxes. He dumped them at
her feet with a bow so profound that he all but stood on his head.

“There you are, unfeeling child!” he exclaimed. “How shocking to have a
daughter who doesn’t scruple to turn her poor old father out of her
house!”

“Well, I let you into my house again, didn’t I? Just please recall why
you were turned out.” Marjorie clasped both arms about her father’s neck
and swung on him gleefully. No one could be the least bit sad when
General elected to be funny. Mrs. Dean and Ronny had already busied
themselves with straightening the pile of boxes which had scattered when
dumped to the floor.

“It’s a good thing for you that you did,” retorted Mr. Dean
significantly. “I might have gone away from the door and never NEVER
have come back again. Then think what you would have missed.”

“Oh, you would have had to come back sometime,” was the serene
assurance, as Marjorie plumped down on the floor to explore her
newly-acquired riches.

They were all the heart of a girl could wish. One box contained a white
chiffon evening scarf, thickly embroidered with tiny pink daisies. It
draped itself in graceful folds to the waist, the ends reaching to the
hem of her gown. Another held a white velour sports coat, the cut and
design of it being particularly smart. From another box tumbled a dozen
pairs of kid gloves. There was also a box of silk hosiery, another of
fine linen handkerchiefs with butterfly and bowknot corners, her
favorite designs, a box of engraved monogrammed stationery, and a pair
of black satin evening slippers.

One long wide box she had left until the last. The lid removed and the
folds of white tissue paper lifted, Marjorie breathed a little “Oh!” She
stared in admiration at an exquisite evening frock of delicately shaded
Chinese crêpe. It might have represented a spring dawn, shading as it
did from creamy white to pale, indeterminate violet, and from violet to
faintest pink. It was fashioned with a cunning simplicity of design
which made it of the mode, yet strikingly individual. About the hem of
the skirt, around the square neck and short sleeves and on the ends of
the separate sash trailed shadowy clusters of violets, stamped upon the
crêpe with an art known only to the Chinese.

“Where did you find it, General?” she gasped, as she held up the lovely,
shimmering frock for her captain and Ronny to see. “I never expected to
own a dream gown like this.”

“It is a spring poem in shades,” declared Ronny, lightly touching an end
of the sash. “I can guess where it came from. Only a high-grade Chinese
bazaar could furnish a gown of its kind. There are a few such shops west
of the Mississippi. I never saw a gown so beautiful as this one even in
San Francisco.”

“It did not come from a shop. A Chinese merchant sent to China for it as
a gift to Marjorie. In Denver I have a good friend, Mah Waeo, the last
of an ancient Chinese house. He looks like an Eastern nobleman in carved
ivory. He is a fine elderly man of irreproachable business and social
reputation. He is a tea merchant and has great wealth. He lives very
simply and spends most of his business gains in trying to educate and
uplift his own people. We have been fast friends for fifteen years.”

“I am familiar with that type of Chinese,” Ronny spoke eagerly. “At
home, Father and I have a good Chinese friend, too; Sieguf Tah. He lives
alone on the smallest of his fruit ranches and acts as a benevolent
father to all the China boys around there. The China boys, as they like
to be called, are faithful, wise, intelligent and industrious. Best of
all, they are strictly honest.”

“I hope Mah Waeo will sometime make us a visit. I suppose you must have
often invited him, General. He was a perfect dear to take such pains for
a present for me.” Marjorie raised a radiant face to her father. “All
this is about the nicest surprise you ever gave me. I can’t help liking
my spring poem gown best of all. I shall write to Mah Waeo and tell him
so and ask him myself to please make us a visit someday.”

“I don’t see how we are going to pack all these new treasures in your
two trunks,” Mrs. Dean practically interposed. “We shall have to do some
skilful managing.”

“They simply all _must_ go,” decreed Marjorie. “I couldn’t leave one
behind.”

“Which reminds me that I have something for you and Captain which I
brought from the Golden West and have been saving until an appropriate,
moment. With your gracious permission, I will retire and return anon, as
the old-style novelists loved to write.”

Attired in a full, half-fitted morning gown of soft white silk, Ronny
spread her arms, bowed down to the floor, East Indian fashion, and made
a quick backward exit from the room.

“I am going to make Ronny dance for us tonight,” planned Marjorie. “She
isn’t going to pack that frock she has on. It will be a perfect dancing
costume. We will have a little home party tonight; just the four of us.
No; five. I want Delia to be with us, too. I’ve grown up under Delia’s
wing. She has always worked so hard to do her best for me whenever I
have had a party, and she’s been so good to me in all ways.”

“By all means let us have Delia at our party,” heartily indorsed Mr.
Dean. “I shall ask her to dance the minuet with me. Do you think there
will be music? I hope some one will be able to play a minuet fit to be
heard. Did I hear you say that you had practised occasionally this
summer?”

“No, you didn’t, you old tease!” Marjorie sprang to her feet and made a
rush at her general.

“Careful! I’m very fragile,” he protested. Then he caught her in his
strong arms and held her close. Her face buried against his shoulder,
Marjorie knew that her father had loosed one arm from around her and
drawn Captain into the circle of it

Thus Veronica found them when she returned with her love offerings. She
halted in the doorway, her face alight with tenderness for these three
who had succeeded more nearly than any other persons she had ever known
in living the ideal family life.

In her hand Ronny held two small black leather cases. The one contained
a ring of pure gold, artistically chased with a running vine, and set
with one large, perfect sapphire. This was intended for Marjorie. For
Mrs. Dean she had bought a gold and pearl pin of ancient Peruvian
handiwork. Both pieces of jewelry were from an old Spanish collection.
She had bought them at a private sale in San Leandro for her friends and
now delighted to add her tribute to Marjorie’s happiness.

Standing very still in the doorway, her eyes meditatively sought the
cases in her hand. Then she turned and stole noiselessly away from the
little scene of adoration. Ronny knew that Marjorie was taking her real
farewell of her general and captain.



CHAPTER VIII.—THE FIVE TRAVELERS.


“Hamilton, did you say? Lead me to it.” Jerry Macy opened her eyes and
peered through the car window with revived interest. For an hour or more
she had been leaning back against the high green plush car seat dozing
lightly. It was now five o’clock in the afternoon and active Jerry was
feeling the strain of sitting still, hour after hour.

“No; I didn’t say Hamilton.” Muriel gently tweaked Jerry’s ear. “Wake
up, sleepy head. That station we just passed was Harcourt Hill. What
comes next?” Muriel opened a time table and frowningly perused it. “It’s
hard to remember the names of these little stations. Now where was I at?
Oh, yes; Harcourt Hill. Next comes Palmer; then Tresholme. After that,
West Hamilton, and then Hamilton. Hamilton is the first stop this
express makes, thank goodness!”

“Muriel, you have really been invaluable to us on this journey. Allow me
to decorate you.” Ronny leaned forward and pinned a huge lace-paper
rosette on the obliging Lookout. “Wear this for my sake.”

While Muriel had been industriously engaged in calling out the stations,
Ronny had hastily ripped a piece of decorative lace-paper from a half
emptied box of candied fruit, which the travelers had shared, and busied
herself with it. The result of her effort she now generously tendered
Muriel.

“I will—not.” Muriel intercepted the rosette before it found a place on
the lapel of her brown taffeta traveling coat and crumpled it in her
hand. “No such decorations for me when I’m so near Hamilton. Suppose I
forgot about it and wore it off the train. Some college wag would be
sure to see it and post me in the grind book. Freshmen are good material
for grinds. Remember that and keep your old rosettes out of sight.”

“What would be written about you?” asked Lucy Warner curiously. “I can’t
see anything in that to write about.”

“Don’t think for a minute that enough couldn’t be found in one foolish
old paper rosette to make me feel silly for a half term, at least. I
don’t know what the method of teasing me would be. I do know that I am
not going to give strange students a chance to try it.”

“Then I shall hardly dare answer anyone, even if I am first addressed.”
Lucy fixed her green eyes on Muriel with an expression of alarm.

Muriel burst out laughing as she met the steady stare. She had never
taken prim Lucy seriously. Lucy’s austere solemnity always had an
hilarious effect on keen-witted Muriel. Coupled with a direct stare from
those peculiar greenish eyes, Muriel invariably felt a strong desire to
laugh when in her presence. As a result, there was no strain between the
two, as was the case with the majority of the Lookouts and Lucy.

“You had better be very, _very_ careful,” warned Muriel with simulated
cautiousness.

“I intend to be. I may not even speak to you, once I am on the campus,”
was the retort.

“Oh, it will be safe to speak to me,” Muriel assured. “You may even
speak to others when you are spoken to and be safe. You are not strictly
of the information-bureau type. Don’t worry about being afraid of the
Hamiltonites. They will probably stand in awe of you.”

“What is all this advice you are giving Lucy?” From across the aisle
Marjorie leaned toward the quartette in the double seat. “Since it was
my turn to be exiled across the aisle, I’ve lost a lot of pearls of
speech.”

As only four could occupy the double seat, the five girls had arranged
on entraining, to take turns sitting in the seat opposite their own.
This was somewhat lonely for the fifth member of the party. The
exclusive isolation of the chair car had not found favor with them. They
preferred the more democratic day coach where they could be together.
While Marjorie could catch little of Muriel’s remarks to Lucy, she knew
by the half-amused smile on Lucy’s face that she was being chaffed and
enjoying it.

“Oh, I am simply reassuring Lucy. Now that we are almost in sight of our
Mecca, she is beginning to be scared.”

“A nice kind of reassurance,” scoffed Lucy. “She just finished telling
me the grind hunters would lie in wait for me and to look out for them.”

“We’ll protect you, Lucy,” promised Marjorie lightly. “When we leave the
train we will walk two on each side of you. Then you will be safe
from——”

“Stretch-your-necks, wags and grind hunters,” supplied Jerry, now
sufficiently aroused to join in the conversation.

“Something like that. So glad to have you with us again, Jeremiah. We
must have bored you terribly or you wouldn’t have gone to sleep.”
Marjorie had adopted Muriel’s methods.

“Oh, I can’t say I was bored more than usual,” drawled Jerry, with a
languid wave of her hand. “You are all about the same as ever. No relief
in sight before next June. I must do the best I can. In the words of
good old Proffy Fontaine: ‘No wan can do mo-rr-rr!’” Jerry’s imitation
of the sorely-tried French professor evoked a chorus of reminiscent
giggles.

“Much obliged for your high opinion of our society,” said Veronica. “All
we can do is to trail around after you, hopeful that someday you will
discover how brilliant we really are.”

“You may hope,” graciously permitted Jerry. “If I discover signs of
brilliancy sprouting in any of you, I’ll let you know instantly. I won’t
keep the precious knowledge to myself. There’s nothing stingy about me.”

“Thank you, thank you,” was the united, grateful answer, ending in a
burst of low-toned laughter which caused several older persons to smile
indulgently upon the bevy of merry-faced girls.

Nine o’clock that morning had seen the five travelers to Hamilton
playing their parts at the Sanford station, surrounded by their families
and a number of devoted friends. It was not a large crowd that had
gathered at the nine-twenty train, but it was a loyal one.

Marjorie had felt very sad and solemn during that last brief wait for
the train which was to bear her from home and her own. When it had
arrived she had made brave farewells to her captain and general. She had
fought hard to keep a smile on her face. Complete control of her
emotions returned from a sudden mishap to Jerry. An unexpected jarring
of the train threw Jerry off her balance as she was about to deposit a
traveling bag in the rack above her head. With a forward lurch, she
described a wavering semi-circle in the air with the bag. Banging it
down on Muriel’s lap, she sprawled helplessly between Muriel and
Veronica.

Her timely spill turned the tide of mourning into mirth. Marjorie forgot
her sadness, for the time being, in listening with laughter to Jerry’s
scathing remarks on the subject of trains.

Now, after the greater part of the day spent on the cars, the somewhat
tired Lookouts were nearing their journey’s end. Fifteen minutes and the
town of Hamilton would be reached. Marjorie was wondering, as she idly
glimpsed the passing scenery from the car window, if there were many
other Hamilton-bound girls on the train. There were only one or two
young girls besides her party in the car they were occupying.

“West Hamilton, children,” announced Muriel oracularly. “Observe, if you
please, the charming beauty of this little burg.” She took on the tone
of a hired guide. “One of the most picturesque spots in the United
States. We will pretend it is, anyway.”

“Nothing like having a vivid imagination,” murmured Ronny.

“Quite true Miss Lynne,” beamed Muriel. “So glad you appreciate my
abilities. You are so different in that respect from some girls.” She
fixed a significant eye upon Jerry, who merely grinned lazily. “Before I
go further in expiating on the scenery of this place, one quarter,
please, all around. You pay me another quarter after you’ve seen the
town. Just recall that it takes breath and patience to be a successful
guide.”

“Yes, I guess so,” scoffed Jerry. “Kindly tell me where you get the word
_guide_ as applying to you. A guide is one who guides. All your guiding
is done in your mind. I wouldn’t pay ten cents to see this town at
present. I can see it later for nothing. On to Hamilton! That’s my
watchword.”

“I couldn’t see much of it, guide or no guide,” remarked Lucy. “The
train went so fast, I’m amazed that Muriel could see it well enough to
describe the scenery.”

“That’s something we will let Guide Muriel explain before she collects
any of our precious quarters,” decreed Jerry.

“I’ll do no explaining, and don’t you call me Guide Muriel. Start that
and it will stick to me. I can’t shake it off as I did that old rosette.
I see that you and Ronny are determined to make trouble for me. I think
I had better keep very quiet from now on.”

“Just think what a restful time we might all have had if you had only
decided to do that an hour or two earlier,” declared Jerry regretfully.
“As it is, we are so tired. I suppose you must be tired, too?” She
beamed questioningly on Muriel, who beamed on her in satirical return,
wholly unabashed.

“We are five weary travelers,” said Veronica, “about to be dumped down
in the strange country of college.”

“I like that idea,” approved Lucy Warner, with the sudden crispness
which marked her speech. “I like to fancy us as five travelers in the
country of college. We might call ourselves that.” Her eyes darkened
with the interest of her own suggestion. “I mean, just in private. There
is a certain touch of romance about it that pleases me.”

“I like it, too, Lucy,” commended Muriel. “I know something we could do
as the five travelers, too. Once a week we could meet in one another’s
rooms, in the evening, and we could each tell how everything has been
for us during the week. Whatever happens, we could agree to keep
strictly to ourselves until then. That is, unless it were something that
had to be settled at once. In that way we would be certain to keep clear
of any silly misunderstandings among ourselves. Close friends that we
are, none of us is infallible, you know. We know we are not going to
quarrel, of course, but a misunderstanding is different. It crops up
when you least expect it.”

“I’m filled with admiration for you, clever Muriel,” praised Veronica.
“I wish you hadn’t ruined that pretty rosette I made you. I would
decorate you all over again. Shall we become the United Order of the
Five Travelers? We shall. Our rooms will serve as a wayside inn where we
shall gather to tell our tales of joy, woe or adventure. Do tell
Marjorie about it. There she sits by her sweet little self, with no idea
of the great work going on under her very nose. Here, I’ll tell her
myself.”

Slipping past Muriel, Ronny crossed the aisle and touched Marjorie on
the shoulder. Unable to hear with comfort what was being said by her
chums, Marjorie had briefly leaned back in her chair and closed her
eyes. The excitement of the day was beginning to tell on her. She was
feeling dispirited. What a long time it had been since she had said
good-bye to Captain and General! And yet it was now only late afternoon
of the same day.

“Move over,” genially ordered Ronny. “I’ve something to report,
Lieutenant, and only about five minutes to report it in. We are in sight
of the fateful town of Hamilton.”

Marjorie obeyed the order, brightening visibly at Ronny’s invasion. “I
saw you four with your heads together,” she returned. “I knew something
was stirring.”

“I beg to inform you that you are now a member of the United Order of
the Five Travelers,” Ronny announced, dropping her arm over Marjorie’s
shoulder. Rapidly she repeated what had been talked over across the
aisle. Marjorie listened in absorption. Her quick brain instantly
grasped the value of the project from its ethical side. It would be good
for all of them, she thought, to have these little confidence sessions.
It would be the very best thing in the world for Lucy.

“Hamilton! Hamil-lton-n-n!” The stentorian call echoed through the car.
Their interest centered on the new idea, both girls were startled by the
brakeman’s loud tones.

“I must gather up my luggage.” Ronny sprang up and hurriedly sought her
own seat with: “More later about the Five Travelers.”

Marjorie nodded and began mechanically to gather up her own luggage. It
consisted of a suit case and a smart leather hand bag across the aisle.
The box of candied fruit, presented to her by Mr. La Salle, was going
the rounds for the last time. It had been mischievously started by
Muriel and smilingly declined by three canny freshmen.

“You don’t catch me marching out of the train with my mouth full of
candy, looking as though I were about seven years old,” was Jerry’s
decided stand. “Go ahead. Eat some yourself, Muriel.”

“I don’t think it would be polite to eat all of Marjorie’s candy,”
declined Muriel.

“The delicate consideration of that girl! Ahem! Here’s your candy, Sweet
Marjoram.” Reaching over, Jerry deposited it on Marjorie’s seat. “Now
for a first timid look at Collegeburg!” As the train began to slow down
for a dead stop, Jerry peered curiously out of the car window.

From her own window, Marjorie was also casting her first glances at the
Hamilton station. Like the stations of exclusive suburban towns,
adjacent to large cities, this one had two separate station buildings;
one for outgoing and the other for incoming trains. The two connected by
a stone passage-way underneath, ascent or descent made possible by a
short flight of stone steps at each end of the passage.

As it happened, Marjorie had been sitting on the side of the car that
faced toward the outgoing trains. In consequence, her first impression
of Hamilton was a blank. She had expected to see groups of girls in
white and light-colored gowns walking up and down the platform. She had
looked forward to a scene of moving color and young life. Now all she
saw was a platform, empty save for an elderly man, who was leading a
little boy of perhaps five or six years along it. This surely was not
the Hamilton of her dreams.



CHAPTER IX.—A DISAPPOINTMENT AND A FRIEND.


A moment later she was moving out of the train with her chums, smiling
over her recent flat sense of disappointment. A glance out of a window
on the opposite side of the car had proved reassuring. On the platform
toward which she and her friends were directing their steps were girls
in abundance.

“Look at the mob!” Jerry made this low-tone exclamation over her
shoulder as she went down the car steps.

Soon the Five Travelers had left the car behind them and become a part
of the throng on the station platform. Unconsciously they drew together
in a compact, little bunch, somewhat as a quintette of homeless kittens
might have done, who had been thrown out on a very big, inhospitable
world to wonder what was going to happen to them next.

There they continued to stand for at least three minutes, each busily
forming her own opinions of this particular feature of college life. Two
girls who had left the train just ahead of them had already been pounced
upon by a group of their friends and whisked off the platform. At the
right of them a tall, dignified girl in glasses was shaking hands warmly
with three welcoming friends. She looked as though she might be a
senior. It was not until long afterward that Marjorie learned that she
was a prospective freshman who failed ignominiously in her entrance
examinations and left Hamilton, disconsolate.

The longer they stood and watched what went on around them, the more it
became enforced upon them that there was a welcome for everyone but
themselves.

“I am afraid they didn’t get our telegram,” commented Jerry, with a
degree of sarcasm that bespoke her contempt for everything she had ever
heard or read of college hospitality and tradition.

“Our telegram? Why, did you send a——? Oh, I see.” Muriel Harding
shrewdly surveyed the scene before her, a glint of belligerence in her
eyes.

“Of course I didn’t send a telegram. Can’t you tell when I am sarcastic?
I supposed I was extremely sarcastic just then. I’ll have to try again.”
The fact of being ignored by the upper class students of Hamilton had
not disturbed Jerry’s ever ready sense of humor.

“Come on, girls.” Ronny spoke almost authoritatively. “We know our
destination is Wayland Hall and it is on the campus. We can find a
taxicab easily enough. We don’t have to wait for a reception committee,
apparently not on duty today.”

“Shades of the Students’ Aid where art thou?” declaimed Marjorie, the
tiniest touch of satire in the remark.

“Humph! I must say that I am not so particular about that minus welcome.
Fortunately we are neither children nor idiots. I think we can find our
way without any help.”

With this sturdy assertion Jerry lifted her suitcase from the platform
and gazed defiantly about her. The others followed her example, and the
five girls headed for a short set of stone steps at the back of the
platform which formed an exit from the station premises. In order to
reach the steps they had to wind their way in and out of the groups of
young women which filled the platform. Several pairs of bright eyes were
turned on them for the conventional, well-bred second, yet none came
forward to speak to them.

As Veronica had predicted, it was no trouble to find a taxicab. Two or
three dark blue cabs, belonging to the railroad company, were drawn up
in the open space behind the station. Selecting the first one they came
to, Veronica gave the driver the address, and the Five Travelers stepped
into the automobile.

As they drove out of the station yard they passed a large gray car
driving in. It was filled to overflowing with girls, all of them in high
spirits. Marjorie noted as the car glided by her that the girl at the
wheel was particularly attractive. Even a passing glance revealed that
fact. A little ache tugged at her heart. It seemed rather hard that they
should have been so utterly ignored.

“Now that I’ve seen some of these dear little children of our Alma
Mater, I’m better pleased with myself than ever. Let me tell you one
thing and that isn’t two,” Jerry paused impressively, “they need
reforming badly. But don’t you ask me to tackle the job. I feel in my
aristocratic bones that I owe it to myself to be very exclusive this
year; and _I am going to be it_.”

“I don’t care to know anyone except you girls.” Lucy Warner looked
almost pleased at the prospect of forming no new acquaintances at
college.

“I don’t like the idea of being slighted,” Muriel complained. “I can’t
say that I expected to have a fuss made over me. Still, we Lookouts have
been at the head of things so much in Sanford High that it hurts to be
passed by entirely. Besides, I wish to like college. I would not be
content to go on all year without meeting _some_ pleasant girls with
whom I could be friendly. You know what I mean.”

Muriel looked almost appealingly about her. The five girls had tucked
themselves into the tonneau of the machine, three on the main seat and
two occupying the small chair-like stools opposite. Her eyes rested last
on Marjorie whose meditative expression promised support.

Thus far, none of the travelers had paid the slightest attention to the
clean, well laid out town of Hamilton through which they were passing.
They were too wholly concerned at the utter lack of courtesy which had
been accorded them. It brushed Veronica least of all. Her experience of
the previous year had made her case-hardened. While Lucy was not anxious
to make new acquaintances, she did not like to see the others ignored.
Jerry, Muriel and Marjorie had, however, been cut to the quick.

“I feel queer over it,” was Marjorie’s candid admission. “It is just as
though some one had given poor old Hamilton College a hard slap. It is
not according to the tradition of any really fine college to forego
hospitality. Why, you will recall, Ronny, Miss Archer was telling us
that one of the oldest traditions of Hamilton was ‘Remember the stranger
within thy gates.’ I thought that so beautiful. Different girls I know,
who have gone to college, have told me that there was always a committee
of students to meet the principal trains and make things comfortable for
entering freshmen.

“We didn’t go about matters scientifically,” Jerry asserted. “We should
have seen to it that the railroad company posted a large bulletin in
front of the station announcing us something like this: ‘Sanford High
School takes pleasure in announcing the arrival at Hamilton, on the
five-fifty train, of the following galaxy of shining stars: Veronica
Browning Lynne, Millionairess; Lucy Eleanor Warner, Valedictorian, i.
e., extra brilliant; Muriel Harding, Howling Beauty and Basketball
Artist; Marjorie Dean, Marvelous Manager of Everyone; Jeremiah Macy,
Politician and Fat Girl. A full turn out of all college societies and
classes is requested in order to fitly welcome this noted quintette.
Orchestra take notice. Brass Band must be present in dress uniform.’”

Jerry drew a long breath as she concluded, then giggled softly as the
absurdity of her own conception struck her.

“Honestly, Jerry Macy, you are the limit. Do you or do you not care that
nobody has cared enough for us to show us the ordinary college
courtesies?” Muriel’s question was half laughing, half vexed.

“Oh, I am not made of wood,” Jerry retorted. “Still I am not so grieved
that I won’t be able to eat my dinner, provided the doors of Wayland
Hall aren’t slammed in our faces. By the way, what does this town look
like? I have been so busy with our united sorrows that I forgot to
inspect it.”

Jerry turned her attention to the broad, smooth street through which the
taxicab was passing. They were traveling through the prettiest part of
Hamilton, the handsome stone residences on each side of the street with
the close-cropped stretches of lawn, denoting the presence of luxury.
Against the vivid green of the grass, scarlet sage flaunted its gorgeous
color in carefully laid out bed or border. Cannas, dahlias and caladiums
lent tropical effect to middle-state topography. Here and there the
early varieties of garden chrysanthemums were in bloom, their pink,
white and bronze beauty adding to the glorious color schemes which
autumn knows best how to paint. Nor did the little piles of fallen
leaves that dotted the lawns, brown heaps against the green, detract
from the picture.

Continuing for some distance along the street which was now claiming
their attention, the car turned into another street, equally ornamental.
Soon they noticed that the houses were growing farther apart and more
after the fashion of country estates. There were immense sweeps of
velvety lawn, shaded by trees large and small of numerous variety. The
residences, too, were veritable castles. Situated far back from the
thoroughfare, they were often just visible through their protecting
leafy screen.

“We can’t be far from Hamilton.” It was Veronica who broke the brief
silence that had fallen on them as their appreciative eyes took in the
beauty spread lavishly along their route. “The Hamilton bulletin says
the college is a little over two miles from the station. These beautiful
country houses, that we have been passing, belong to what is called the
Hamilton Estates, I imagine. The bulletin speaks of the Hamilton Estates
in describing the college, you know.”

“Yes; it said that Brooke Hamilton, the founder of Hamilton College,
once owned all the country around here. One of these estates is called
Hamilton Arms,” supplemented Marjorie. “It said so little about this
Brooke Hamilton. I would have liked to know more of his history. He must
have been a true gentleman of the old school. It mentions that many of
the finest traditions of Hamilton College were oft repeated sayings of
his. So he must have been a noble man.”

“Well, I am only sorry that he wasn’t on hand to welcome us,” regretted
Jerry, the irrepressible. “Now you needn’t be shocked at my levity. I
meant seriously that he was really needed today.”

“Look!” The single word of exclamation from Lucy centered all eyes to
where she was pointing.

Upon their view had burst the wide, gently undulating green slopes of
Hamilton Campus. While the grounds surrounding the majority of
institutions of learning are laid out with an eye to the decorative,
Hamilton campus has a peculiar, living charm of its own that perhaps
none other has ever possessed. It is not that its thick short grass
grows any greener than that of other campuses. Still it is more pleasing
to the eye. The noble growth of elm, beech and maple, shading the lawns
at graceful distances apart carries a personality that one feels but can
hardly express by description.

Ornamental shrubs there are in tasteful plenty, but not in profusion. It
is as though nothing grows on that immense, rolling tract of land that
is not necessary to the picture formed by natural beauty and intensified
by intelligent landscape-gardening. Even the stately gray stone
buildings, which stand out at intervals on the broad field of green,
bear the same stamp of individuality.

“It is wonderful!” Lucy spoke in an awed voice. The majesty of the scene
had gripped her hard.

“How beautiful!” The spell was on Ronny, too. She was gazing across the
emerald stretches with half-closed, worshipping eyes. “My own dear West
is wonderful, but there is something about this that touches one’s
heart. I never feel quite that way when I look out at the mountains or
the California valleys, dear as they are to me.”

“I love it all!” Marjorie’s wide brown eyes had grown larger with
emotion. She was meeting for the first time one that would later be her
steadfast friend, changing only from one beauty to another—Hamilton
Campus.



CHAPTER X.—AN AMIABLE SOPHOMORE.


“I cannot really help but feel that there must have been a mistake about
our being ignored at the station.” Marjorie made this hopeful remark
just as the taxicab passed through a wide driveway and swung into a
drive that wound a circuitous course about the campus. “It is hard to
believe that any student of this beloved old college wouldn’t be ready
and willing to look after freshman strays like us.”

“I am afraid times have changed since Mr. Brooke Hamilton laid down the
laws of courtesy,” Veronica made sceptical reply. “Beg your pardon,
Sweet Marjoram, I should not have said that. I am just as much in love
with Hamilton Campus as you are. I regret to say, I haven’t the same
generous faith in Hamilton’s upper classmen. There has been a shirking
of duty somewhere among them. I know a receiving committee when I see
one, and there was none on that station platform, for I took a good look
over it. I saw a number of students greeting others that they had come
to the station purposely to meet, but that is all. Sounds disagreeably
positive, doesn’t it? I do not mean to be so, though.”

“I can’t blame you for the way you feel about the whole business,
Ronny,” Marjorie returned. “We had all looked forward to the pleasure of
being taken under the wing of a friendly upper class girl until we knew
our way about a little. Well, it didn’t happen, so there is no use in my
mourning or spurting or worrying about it. I am going to forget it.”

“‘’Twere wiser to forget,’” quoted Ronny. Her brief irritation
vanishing, her face broke into smiling beauty. “‘Don’t give up the
ship.’ That’s another quotation, appropriate to you, Marjorie. You
aren’t going to let such grouches as Jeremiah and I spoil your belief in
the absent sophs and juniors. The seniors usually leave the welcoming
job to them. Of course, there are a few seniors who have the freshmen’s
welfare upon their consciences.”

The taxicab was now slowing down for a stop before a handsome four-story
house of gray stone. It stood on what might be termed the crest of the
campus, almost on a level with a very large building, a hundred rods
away, which the newcomers guessed to be Hamilton Hall. An especially
roomy and ornamental veranda extended around three sides of the first
story of the house. Its tasteful wicker and willow chairs and tables,
and large, comfortable-looking porch swings made it appear decidedly
attractive to the somewhat disillusioned arriving party. Their new home,
at least, was not a disappointment.

The lawns about the house were no less beautiful with autumn glory than
those they had already seen. Marjorie in particular was charmed by the
profusion of chrysanthemums, the small, old-fashioned variety of garden
blooms. There were thick, blossoming clumps of them at the rounding
corners of the veranda. They stood in the sturdy, colorful array as
borders to two wide walks that led away from entrances to the Hall on
both sides. At the left of the Hall, toward the rear of it, was an
oblong bed of them, looking old-fashioned enough in its compact
formation to have been planted by Brooke Hamilton himself.

The drive led straight up to the house, stopping in an open space in
front of the veranda, wide enough to permit an automobile to turn
comfortably. It was here that the Five Travelers alighted, bag and
baggage.

“I wonder if we are early at college. The place seems to be deserted.
Maybe our fellow residents are at dinner. No, they are not. It is only
twenty minutes past six.” Jerry consulted her wrist watch. “The Hamilton
bulletin states the dinner hour at Wayland Hall to be at six-thirty
until the first of November. After that six o’clock until the first of
April; then back to six-thirty again.”

“It would not surprise me to hear that a good share of the students who
live at Wayland Hall had not yet returned. According to our valued
bulletin,—we have to fall back on it for information,—Wayland Hall is
the oldest campus house. That would make it desirable in the eyes of
upper class girls. We were fortunate to obtain reservations here.”

They had crossed the open space in front of the house and mounted the
steps. As they reached the doorway a girl stepped out of it. So sudden
was her appearance that she narrowly missed colliding with the arrivals.
She had evidently hurried out of a reception room at the left of the
hall. Passing through the hall or coming down the open staircase she
would have seen the group before reaching the door.

“Oh, I beg your pardon,” she apologized, viewing the newcomers out of a
pair of very blue, non-curious eyes. “I never pay proper attention to
where I am going. I was so busy thinking about an examination I must
take tomorrow that I forgot where I was. I’ll have to stop now for a
second to remember what I started out to do,” she added ruefully, her
face breaking into a roguish smile which displayed two pronounced
dimples.

Instantly the hearts of the Five Travelers warmed toward her. Her
dimples brought back fond memories of Susan Atwell. She was quite a tall
girl, five feet, seven inches, at least, and very slender. Her hair was
a pale flaxen and fluffed out naturally, worn severely back from her low
forehead though it was. Her one-piece frock of white wash satin gave her
a likeness to a tall white June lily, nodding contentedly on a sturdy
stem.

“I wonder if I can be of service to you,” she said quickly. Courtesy had
not deserted her. _She_ could, it seemed, pay proper attention to the
needs of the stranger.

“I wish you would be so kind as to tell us where we will find Miss
Remson. We are entering freshmen, and are to live at Wayland Hall.”
Marjorie introduced herself and friends to the other girl, stating also
from whence they had come.

“Oh, you are the Sanford crowd!” exclaimed the girl. “Why, Miss Weyman
was to meet you at the train! She went down to the garage for her car.
Two sophomores from her club, the Sans Soucians, were to go down with
her to the five-fifty train. They left here in plenty of time for I saw
them go. They must have missed making connections with you somehow. I
forgot to introduce myself. I am Helen Trent of the sophomore class.”

The Lookouts having expressed their pleasure in meeting this amiable
member of the sophomore class, Miss Trent led the way inside and ushered
them into the reception room. It was a medium-sized room, done in two
shades of soft brown and furnished with a severely beautiful set of
golden oak, upholstered in brown leather. The library table was littered
with current magazines, giving the apartment the appearance of a
physician’s receiving room.

Seized by a sudden thought, Jerry turned to their new acquaintance and
asked: “Does the Miss Weyman you spoke of drive a large gray car?”

“Why, yes.” Helen Trent opened her blue eyes a trifle wider in patent
surprise. She was speculating as to whether it would be within bounds to
inquire how the questioner had come by her knowledge.

Jerry saved her the interrogation. “Then we saw her, just as we drove
out of the station yard. She was driving this gray car I mentioned. It
looked to me like a French car. There must have been seven or eight
girls in it besides herself.”

“It was Natalie you saw. There isn’t another car like hers here at
Hamilton. It is a French car.”

Jerry turned to Marjorie, a positive grin over-spreading her plump face.
“Right you were, wise Marjorie, about the mistake business. Perhaps time
may restore our shattered faith in the Hamiltonites. What did you say
Veronica?” She beamed mischievously at Ronny.

“I did not say a single word,” retorted Ronny. “I am glad Marjorie was
right, though.”

Helen Trent stood listening, her eyes betraying frank amusement at
Jerry, her dimples threatening to break out again.

“We were a little bit disappointed because not a soul spoke to us after
we left the train. We had looked forward to having a few Hamilton upper
classmen, if only one or two, speak to us. Perhaps we were silly to
expect it. To me it seemed one of the nicest features of going to
college. I said I thought there must have been a mistake about no one
meeting us. That is what Geraldine meant.”

Marjorie made this explanation with the candor of a child. Her brown
eyes met Helen’s so sweetly and yet so steadfastly, as she talked, that
the sophomore thought her the prettiest girl she had ever seen. Helen’s
sympathies had enlisted toward the entire five. Even Lucy Warner had
struck her as a girl of great individuality. A slow smile touched the
corners of her lips, seemingly the only outward manifestation of some
inner cogitation that was mildly amusing.

“I am glad, too, that it was a mistake,” she said, her face dropping
again into its soft placidity. “We wish our freshmen friends to think
well of us. We sophs are only a year ahead of you. It is particularly
our duty to help the freshmen when first they come to Hamilton. I would
have gone down to the station today to meet you but Natalie Weyman took
it upon herself. I have this special exam to take. I have been preparing
for it this summer. It is in trigonometry. I failed in that subject last
term and had to make it up this vacation. I only hope I pass in it
tomorrow. Br-r-r-r! the very idea makes me shiver.”

“I hope you will, I am sure.” It was Ronny who expressed this sincere
wish. She had quickly decided that she approved of Helen Trent.
Certainly there was nothing snobbish about her. She showed every mark of
gentle breeding.

“I am afraid we may be keeping you from what you were about to do when
we stopped you.” Lucy Warner had stepped to the fore much to the secret
amazement of her friends. A stickler for duty, Lucy’s training as
secretary had taught her the value of time. During that period that she
spent in Miss Archer’s office, her own time had been so seriously
encroached upon that she had made a resolution never to waste that of
others.

“Oh, no; I can pick up my own affairs again, later. None of them are
important except my exam, and I am not going to worry over that. If you
will excuse me, I will go and find Miss Remson. She will assign you to
your rooms. Dinner is on now. There goes the bell. It is later this one
week; at a quarter to seven, on account of returning students. It’s on
until a quarter to eight. Beginning next week, it will be on at
precisely half-past six and off at half-past seven. After that you go
hungry, or else to Baretti’s or the Colonial. Both are quite near here.
No more explanation now, but action.”

With a pleasant little nod the sophomore left the reception room in
search of Miss Remson, the manager of Wayland Hall. She left behind her,
however, an atmosphere of friendliness and cheer that went far toward
dispelling the late cloud of having been either purposely or carelessly
overlooked.



CHAPTER XI.—SETTLING DOWN AT WAYLAND HALL.


“Yes; to be sure. I have the correspondence from all of you Sanford
girls. I think there has been no mistake concerning your rooms. Just a
moment.”

Miss Remson, a small, wiry-looking woman with a thin, pleasant face and
partially gray hair, bustled to a door, situated at the lower end of the
room. Thrown open, it disclosed a small, inner apartment, evidently
doing duty as the manager’s office. Seating herself before a flat-topped
oak desk, she opened an upper drawer and took from it a fat, black,
cloth-covered book. Consulting it, she rose and returned with it in her
hand.

“Miss Dean and Miss Macy made application for one room together, Miss
Harding for a single room, provided a classmate, who expected to enter
Wellesley, did not change her mind in favor of Hamilton. In that case
she would occupy the room with Miss Harding. Miss Lynne applied for a
single and afterward made request that Miss Warner might share it with
her. Am I correct?”

The manager spoke in an alert tone, looking up with a slight sidewise
slant of her head that reminded Marjorie of a bird.

“That is the way we meant it to be. I hope there have been no changes in
the programme.” Jerry had constituted herself spokesman.

“None, whatever. I have a request to make of Miss Harding.” Unerringly
she picked out Muriel, though Marjorie had only gone over their names to
her once by way of general introduction. “Would you be willing to take a
room-mate? We have so many applications for Wayland Hall to which we
simply can pay no attention save to return the word ‘no room.’ This
particular application of which I speak has been made by a junior, Miss
Hortense Barlow. She was at Wayland Hall during her freshman year, but
left here to room with a friend at Acasia House during her sophomore
year. Her friend was a junior then and was therefore graduated last
June. Miss Barlow is most anxious to return to this house.”

Muriel looked rather blank at this disclosure. She was not at all
anxious for a room-mate, unless it were a Lookout, which was out of the
question.

“I hardly know yet whether I should care to take a room-mate,” she said,
with a touch of hesitation. “I will decide tonight and let you know
tomorrow morning. Will that be satisfactory?”

“Perfectly, perfectly,” responded Miss Remson, and waved her hand as
though urbanely to dismiss the subject. “I will show you young women to
your rooms myself. Dinner, this week, is from a quarter to seven until a
quarter to eight.” She repeated the information already given them by
Helen Trent. “That means that no one will be admitted to the dining room
after a quarter to eight. We are making special allowances now on
account of returning students.”

With this she led the way out of the reception room and up the stairs.
Down the hall of the second story she went, with a brisk little swishing
of her black taffeta skirt that reminded Marjorie more then ever of a
bird. At the last door on the left of the hall she paused.

“This is the room Miss Lynne and Miss Warner are to occupy,” she
announced. “Directly across find the room Miss Macy and Miss Dean are to
occupy.” She turned abruptly and indicated the door opposite. “Miss
Harding’s room is on the third floor. I will conduct you to it, Miss
Harding. I trust you will like your new quarters, young ladies, and be
happy in them.”

Immediately she turned with “Follow me, Miss Harding,” and was off down
the hall. It was a case of go without delay or lose her guide. Making a
funny little grimace behind the too-brisk manager’s back, Muriel called,
“See you later,” and set off in haste after Miss Remson. She had already
reached the foot of the staircase leading to the third story.

“She’s the busiest busybody ever, isn’t she?” remarked Jerry. Marjorie,
Ronny and Lucy at her back, she opened the door of her room and stepped
over the threshold. “Hmm!” she next held forth. “This place may not be
the lap of luxury, but it is not so bad. I don’t see my pet Circassian
walnut set or my dear comfy old window seat, with about a thousand, more
or less, nice downy pillows. Still it’s no barn. I only hope those couch
beds are what they ought to be, a place on which to sleep. They’re more
ornamental to a room than the regulation bed. I suppose that’s why
they’re here.”

“Stop making fun of things, you goose, and let’s get the dust washed off
our hands and faces before we go down to dinner. I am smudgy, and also
very hungry, and it is almost seven o’clock,” Marjorie warned. “We
haven’t a minute to lose. A person as methodical as Miss Remson would
close the dining room door in our faces if we were a fraction of a
minute late.”

“Don’t doubt it. Good-bye.” Veronica made a dive for her quarters
followed by Lucy.

“You and I _will_ certainly have to hurry,” agreed Jerry, as she
returned from the lavatory nearly twenty minutes later. Marjorie, who
had preceded her, was just finishing the redressing of her hair. It
rippled away from her forehead and broke into shining little curls about
her ears and at the nape of her neck. Her eyes bright with the
excitement of new surroundings and her cheeks aglow from her recent
ablutions, her loveliness was startling.

“I won’t have time to do my hair over again,” Jerry lamented. “It will
have to go as it is. Are you ready? Come on, then. We’ll stop for Ronny
and Lucy. What of Muriel? Last seen she was piking off after Miss Busy
Buzzy. Hasn’t _she_ the energy though? B-z-z-z-z! Away she goes. I hope
she never hears me call her that. I might go to the foot of the stairway
and howl ‘Muriel’ but that would hardly be well-bred.”

“She will probably stop for us. You can’t lose Muriel.” Marjorie was
still smiling over Jerry’s disrespectful name for the manager. “For
goodness’ sake, Jerry, be careful about calling her that. Don’t let it
go further than among the Five Travelers. We understand that it is just
your funny self. If some outsider heard it and you tried to explain
yourself—well, you couldn’t.”

“I know that all too well, dear old Mentor. I’ll be careful. Don’t worry
about me, as little Charlie Stevens says after he has run away and Gray
Gables has been turned upside down hunting him. I presume that is Muriel
now.” A decided rapping sent Jerry hurrying to the door. About to make
some humorous remark to Muriel concerning her late hasty disappearance,
she caught herself in time. Three girls were grouped outside the door
but they were not the expected trio of Lookouts.



CHAPTER XII.—UNEXPECTED CALLERS.


“Good evening,” Jerry managed to say politely, amazed though she was at
the unlooked-for callers.

“Good evening,” came the prompt response from the foremost girl, spoken
in a cool velvety tone that somehow suggested patronage. “Are you Miss
Dean?”

“No, I am Miss Macy. Miss Dean is my room-mate. She is here. Will you
come in?”

“Thank you.” The caller stepped into the room, her two companions at her
heels. She was a young woman of about the same height as Marjorie and
not unlike her in coloring, save that her eyes were a bluish gray,
shaded by long dark lashes, her eyebrows heavily marked. Her hair, a
paler brown than Marjorie’s, suggested in arrangement a hairdresser’s
art rather than that of natural beauty, pleasing though the coiffure
was. Her frock of pale pink and white effects in silk net and taffeta
was cut short enough of sleeve and low enough of neck to permit the
white shapeliness of her arms and shoulders to be seen. While her
features might be called regular, a close observer would have pronounced
her mouth, in repose, a shade too small for the size of her face, and
her chin a trifle too pointed.

Standing as she was where the electric lights, which Jerry had recently
switched on, played upon her, she made an undeniably attractive picture.
Marjorie recognized her instantly as the girl she had seen driving the
gray car. One of her companions was a small, dark girl with very black
eyes and a sulky mouth. She was wearing a gown of Nile green pongee,
heavily trimmed with expensive ecru lace. It gave her the appearance of
being actually weighed down. The third of the callers Marjorie took an
instant dislike toward. She represented a type of girl that Marjorie had
rarely seen and never encountered at Sanford High School.

While her companions were attired in evening frocks, she was wearing a
sports suit of a white woolly material that was a marvel as to cut and
finish. The white silk velour sports hat, the heavy white silk stockings
and fine, stitched buckskin ties that completed her costume were the
acme of distinctive expense. Despite her carefully chosen apparel, she
was very near to possessing an ugliness of face and feature which no
amount of smart clothes could mitigate. Her hair, such as could be seen
of it from under her hat, was coarse and black. Small, shrewd brown
eyes, which had a trick of half closing, high cheek bones, a rather
retroussé nose and a large, loose-lipped mouth completed an outer
personality that Marjorie found unprepossessing in the extreme. Last of
the three to enter the room, she had closed the door and now stood
almost lounging against it, eyeing Marjorie with a smile that suggested
bored tolerance.

“I am Marjorie Dean.” Immediately she heard her name, Marjorie had come
forward. She guessed that the girl of the gray car had come to offer an
apology for her non-appearance. Memory furnishing her with the
spokesman’s name, she held out her hand courteously, saying: “Your are
Miss Weyman, are you not? Won’t you and your friends sit down?”

Into Natalie Weyman’s darkening eyes flared an expression of affronted
surprise. The little dark girl also showed surprise, while the girl in
the sports suit drew down the corners of her wide mouth as though she
had heard something funny but dared not laugh outright.

“Yes, I am Natalie Weyman.” Whatever her thoughts were her tones were
still velvety. “I am a sophomore and these are my sophy pals, Miss Vale
and Miss Cairns.” She indicated first the small girl, then the lounger.
Both sophomores bowed nonchalantly and lightly clasped the hand Marjorie
extended to each in turn.

“This is my room-mate and very dear friend, Geraldine Macy.” Marjorie
now took her turn at introducing.

Jerry bowed and shook hands with the trio, but exhibited no enthusiasm.
She was inwardly raging at them for having chosen a time so inopportune
for making a call. She felt like shouting out in a loud, terrifying
voice: “Have you had your dinner? Well, we haven’t had ours. Now beat
it, all of you!”

Introductions over, the callers sat down. Miss Weyman dropped gracefully
into the nearest easy chair, of which the room could count two. The
others seated themselves, side by side, on one of the couch beds. Hardly
had they done so when a second rapping was heard. This time it was
Veronica, Lucy and Muriel. Marjorie opened the door and said quickly:
“Come in, girls. I wish you to meet three members of the sophomore class
who have done us the honor to call.”

Involuntarily Veronica’s eloquent eyebrows went up in surprise. Lucy’s
green eyes took on a peculiar gleam, and Muriel felt displeasure rising
within her. It seemed too bad that, after being neglected, they should
be thus sought before they had had time to get their dinner. The long
ride on the train had left them hungry. Still, there was nothing to be
done save make the best of it. How long the callers had been in
Marjorie’s and Jerry’s room, Muriel could not know. If they took prompt
leave the Sanford five could still get into the dining room before it
closed. It was twenty minutes to eight. She had looked at her watch
while Ronny was rapping on the door.

After further introductions Miss Weyman said sweetly: “I have an apology
to make Miss Dean. Consider it as being made to all of you. I was to
meet you at the train today, and unfortunately I started a little later
than I had intended. I belong to a club which a few of the freshmen
started last year. All the girls who are members were friends of mine
before I entered Hamilton. We attended a very private preparatory school
and entered college together. We call ourselves the San Soucians and our
club is limited to eighteen members. We do not intend to pass it on
after we are graduated from Hamilton. It is really only a little social
club of our own. Of course, we _try_ to be considerate toward the other
students here, as in the case of welcoming the freshmen.”

“Every one was so perfectly sweet to us last year when we entered
Hamilton.” Miss Vale now raised a voice in the conversation. “You see we
came from New York to Hamilton in my father’s private car. My father is
president of the L. T. and M. Railroad. We had not thought much about
being met at the train by the upper classmen. I _wish_ you might have
_seen_ the crowd that was there to meet us! Girls from _all three
classes_ turned out. We had a smart old celebration, I can tell you.”
Her sulky mouth lost its droop as she went on to describe boastingly the
glories of that particular reception. She ended with: “What prep. school
do you come from?”

Informed by Jerry that the Five Travelers were graduated from high
school, she glanced pityingly about the Sanford group, and subsided
with: “I really know nothing at all about high schools. I did not
suppose you could enter college from one.”

“Of course one can.” Veronica spoke with an energy that her friends
understood, if the callers did not. “Let me ask you a question. Were you
obliged to try entrance examinations to Hamilton College?”

“Ye—s.” The reply came a little slowly.

“We are not obliged to take examinations. The senior course in our high
school comprises collegiate subjects. Our diplomas will admit us to any
college in the United States. So you see that high school has at least
that advantage,” Ronny concluded evenly.

“I have heard that some of those high schools are really excellent,”
drawled Miss Cairns. “I have heard too that they turn out a lot of digs
and prigs. Girls, you understand, that have to get all they can out of
high school because college is out of the question for them. I feel
sorry for them. I never knew any of that sort, though. In fact, you are
the first high school girls I have ever met. What?” She turned to
Natalie Weyman.

The latter, however, was paying little attention to the conversation.
Her gaze had rested almost uninterruptedly on Marjorie since she had
entered the room. From the discomfited lieutenant’s lovely face to her
slender, graceful figure, clothed in a one-piece frock of dark blue
crêpe de chine, the other girl’s eyes wandered, only to turn themselves
away for a moment, then begin a fresh inspection.

Meanwhile time was flying, the Five Travelers were growing minutely
hungrier, yet the visitors made no move to go. Miss Weyman had gone no
further than to explain that she had started for the train a little
late. This apology did not coincide with what Helen Trent had said. None
of the Lookouts had forgotten _her_ remarks on the subject. It was in
each girl’s mind that she preferred to believe Helen. This did not argue
well as to a future friendship with Natalie Weyman. None of them could
endure even the shadow of untruth.

“Please pardon me for breaking into my apology with an explanation of
our club.” Her inspection of Marjorie over for the present, Natalie
returned to the original object of her call. “I meant to say that by the
time I had reached the station you had gone on to Wayland Hall, I
suppose.”

“We drove away from the station in a taxicab just as your car drove into
the yard.” Muriel fixed the lamely apologetic sophomore with a steady
gaze. Her brown eyes appeared to be taking the other’s measure.

“Did you, indeed,” Natalie returned somewhat hastily. It was beginning
to dawn upon her that she did not in the least like any of these
freshmen. They were entirely too independent to suit her. Recalling that
which she had been aching to ask when Marjorie had asked her if she were
Miss Weyman, she now questioned almost rudely: “How did you know who _I_
was when you saw me at the station?”

“We did not know who you were then,” explained Muriel. “We merely saw a
gray car full of girls. Miss Macy said it looked like a French car.
Afterward, we met a delightful sophomore, Miss Trent. In talking with
her, she mentioned that you had gone to the station to meet us.”

“Oh, yes. Miss Trent. She was on the veranda when we left here.” She
looked toward Miss Cairns for corroboration. The latter nodded slightly
and made an almost imperceptible gesture with her left hand.

“We are so sorry we missed you, at any rate.” Miss Vail took it upon
herself to do a share of the apologizing. At the same time she rose from
her seat on the couch bed. “How do you like the table here?” she queried
condescendingly. “We find it better than last year. Remson has a new
cook now. She can see the other cook silly when it comes to eats.”

A peculiar silence ensued as Miss Vale’s high-pitched tones ceased. It
had been forced upon the Lookouts to defer an opinion of said “table”
until the next day. They were certainly at present in no position to
make a statement.

“As we have been here so short a time we can’t pass an opinion on a
thing at Wayland Hall yet.” Marjorie answered for her friends, not
daring to look toward any of them.

“Naturally not,” agreed Miss Cairns suavely. “Mind if we leave you now?
We really must go, Nat. We had our dinner at Baretti’s tonight. Some of
the Sans are waiting at the Colonial for us. We are going on there for
dessert.”

“Yes, the gang will wonder what has become of us.” Natalie now got to
her feet. She favored the Lookouts with a smile, which was intended to
be gracious, but utterly lacked sincerity. Her pals already at the door,
she joined them. This time there was no handshaking. While it would not
have been necessary, a truly sincere bevy of girls would have
undoubtedly shaken hands and enjoyed that act of fellowship.

“Thank you for remembering us at the station today, even though we did
miss connections. We appreciate your coming to call on us this evening,
too. Freshmen are very lowly persons at college until they have won
their spurs on the field of college honors. We shall try not to be an
annoyance to our sophomore sisters.”

Marjorie tried conscientiously to put aside all trace of irritation as
she made this little speech. She realized that her chums had left it to
her to handle the situation. While they had all exchanged a certain
amount of conversation with the visitors, they had run out from sheer
lack of sympathy. The callers had aroused belligerence in Jerry, Ronny
and Muriel. Lucy Warner had fairly congealed with dislike. Marjorie had
alone stayed on an even keel.

Perhaps the unfailing courtesy of the tired, hungry lieutenant made some
slight impression on the departing sophomores. Halfway out the door as
Marjorie answered, Natalie Weyman had the grace to say: “You really
haven’t anything to thank us for, Miss Dean. Wait until we do something
for you, worth while. We will drop in on you again when we have more
time. Good night.”

She had been on the point of offering her hand at the last, stirred out
of her usual self-centeredness by Marjorie’s gentle manners. Then she
had looked again at the freshman’s exquisite face, and fellowship had
died before birth. Natalie Weyman was considered a beauty at home, in
New York City, and at Hamilton College. She had at last seen a girl whom
she considered fully as pretty as herself. As a result she was now very,
very jealous.



CHAPTER XIII.—ON THE TRAIL OF DINNER.


“Can you beat it? Uh-h-h-h!” Jerry dropped with angry force into the arm
chair which Natalie Weyman had so recently vacated. “What was the matter
with those girls, anyway? How could they help but know that we hadn’t
had our dinner? It was after six o’clock when we reached here. It took
time to get hold of Busy Buzzy and be assigned to our rooms, and more
time to make ourselves presentable. Why couldn’t they have figured out
that much? Next step in our process of deduction; they came to the door
about twenty minutes past seven. Now how could we have had time to go
down stairs, eat our dinner and be back in our room again?”

“The answer is, they didn’t do any deducing,” declared Muriel. “I
suppose they simply chose their own time to call.”

“A very inconvenient time, I must say,” grumbled Jerry. “Here’s another
point that needs clearing up. If that Miss Weyman drove her car down to
the station, expecting to bring the five of us back in it, why was it
cram-jam full of girls?”

“They may have been friends of hers who merely wanted to ride down to
the station, Jerry,” surmised Ronny. “Why trouble your brain about our
callers now? Let us think about where we are going to have our dinner.
The dining room is closed, of course. We shall have to call on the
hospitable Baretti for sustenance. He’s hospitable if his restaurant is
still open. Otherwise, I don’t think much of him.”

“First thing to do is to find out where he holds forth. I hope the place
is not far from here. I’m so hungry and so tired.” Marjorie spoke with a
tired kind of patience that ended in a yawn. “We had better start out at
once. We’ll probably find some one downstairs who can direct us.”

The others no less hungry, the Five Travelers lost no more time in
getting downstairs, preferring to leave the subject of their recent
callers until a time more convenient for discussion. At the foot of the
stairs they encountered two girls about to ascend.

“Good evening. Will you please direct us to Baretti’s?” It was Ronny who
asked the question in a clear, even tone that, while courteous, was so
strictly impersonal as to be almost cool. Having just encountered a trio
of girls whom she had instantly set down as snobs, Ronny had donned her
armor.

“Good evening.” Both girls returned the salutation. The taller of the
two, a sandy-haired young woman with sleepy gray eyes, a square chin and
freckles now became spokesman. “You will find Baretti’s about a square
from the west wall of the campus. Turn to your right as you pass out the
main gate.”

“There is the Colonial, too, about two squares beyond Baretti’s,”
informed the other, a pretty girl in a ruffled gown of apricot organdie
that accentuated the black silkiness of her hair which lay off her low
forehead in little soft rings.

“Thank you.” Ronny modified the crispness of her tone a trifle. “We
shall not care to go further than Baretti’s tonight. May I ask what time
the restaurant closes?”

“Ten o’clock.” The gray-eyed girl seemed on the point of volunteering a
remark. She half-opened her lips, then closed them almost tightly as if
repenting of the impulse.

With a second “Thank you” a shade cooler than the first, Ronny concluded
the brief interview. The four Lookouts had walked toward the Hall door,
which stood open, and there paused to wait for her. Ordinarily, Ronny
would have addressed the strangers with a certain graciousness of manner
which was one of her charms. She had relaxed a little from her first
reserve on the strength of their apparent willingness to direct her to
Baretti’s. She had not missed, however, the gray-eyed girl’s deliberate
checking of her own purposed remark. While she forebore to place an
adverse construction upon it, nevertheless it had annoyed her. Trace of
a frown lingered between her dark brows as she joined the others.

“I noticed you didn’t get very chummy with that pair,” greeted Jerry.
“Just so you located our commissary department, Baretti. He’s our star
of hope at present.” Jerry led the way across the veranda and down the
steps.

“I know the way to Baretti’s, never fear,” Ronny assured. “It is one
square from the west wall of the campus. Just how much of a walk that
means, we shall see. It may be anywhere from a quarter to three-quarters
of a mile to the west wall. We turn to our right as we go through the
gateway.”

“We will have to walk it, even if it is a mile,” decreed Muriel. “I’d
walk two miles for something to eat. I am about as hungry as I can ever
remember of being. Our introduction to Hamilton! _Good night!_”

“I can’t get it through my head that we are actually students at
Hamilton College,” declared Muriel. “I feel more as though I had just
arrived at a summer hotel where people came and went without the
slightest interest in one another.”

“It is missing dinner at the Hall that makes it seem so. If we had had a
fair chance at the dining room we would have felt more——” Jerry paused
to choose a word descriptive of their united feelings. “Well, we would
have felt cinched to Hamilton. That nice Miss Trent helped us, of
course, but she faded away and disappeared the minute she turned us over
to Miss Remson. I don’t believe we can be, what you might call,
fascinating. No one seems to care to linger near us. Wouldn’t that be a
splendid title for one of those silly old popular songs? ‘No one cares
to linger near,’ as sung by the great always off the key vocalist, Jerry
Macy. Wh-ir-r! Bu-z-z-z! What has happened to you swe-e-etart, that you
do not linger near-r-r? I am lonele-e-e——”

Jerry’s imitation of a phonograph rendering a popular song of her own
impromptu composition ended suddenly. Muriel placed a defensive hand
over the singer’s mouth. “Have mercy on us, Jeremiah,” she begged. “You
are at Hamilton now. Try to act like some one. That’s the advice I heard
one of the mill women give her unruly son at the nursery one day last
winter.”

“I trust no one but ourselves heard you,” was Veronica’s uncomplimentary
addition, delivered in a tone of shocked disapproval.

“I don’t blame anyone for not caring to linger near such awful sounds.”
Lucy’s criticism, spoken in her precise manner, produced a burst of
low-keyed laughter. It appeared to amuse Jerry most of all.

By this time they had passed through the gateway, flanked by high,
ornamental stone posts, and were following a fairly wide, beaten
footpath that shone white in the light shed by the rising moon. On their
right hand side, the college wall of matched gray stone rose
considerably above their heads.

“This wall must be at least ten feet high and about three or four
thick.” Jerry calculatingly appraised the wall. “It extends the whole
around the campus, so far as I could tell by daylight. I was noticing it
as we came into the grounds today.”

“We are not so far from the end of it now.” Marjorie made the
announcement with a faint breath of relief. “You can see the corner post
from here. I think it about a quarter of a mile from the gate.”

“And only a square from it lies our dinner, thank goodness! Let’s run.”
Muriel made a pretended dash forward and was promptly checked by Jerry.
“You wouldn’t let me sing. Now you need a clamp. I’ll give you a piece
of advice I heard last winter at that same old nursery: ‘Walk pretty.
Don’t be runnin’ yourse’f all over the place.’”

“There is Baretti’s across the road.” Marjorie pointed down the road a
little, to where, on the opposite side, two posts, topped by cluster
electric lights, rose on each side of a fairly wide stone walk that was
the approach to the restaurant. It stood fully a hundred feet from the
highway, an odd, one-story structure of brown stone, looking like an inn
of a bygone period. In sharp contrast to the white radiance of the guide
lights at the end of the walk, the light over the doorway was faint and
yellow, proceeding from a single lamp, set in a curious wrought-iron
frame, which depended from a bell-like hood over the door.

Through the narrow-paned windows streamed the welcome glow of light
within. It warmed the hearts of the Five Travelers even as in departed
days it had gladdened the eyes of weary wayfarers in search of purchased
hospitality.

“What an odd old place!” Lucy Warner cried out in admiration. “It is
like the ancient hostelries one reads of. I wonder if it has always been
an inn. It must be considerably over a hundred years old.”

“I suppose it is. A good deal of the country around here is historic, I
believe. You remember the bulletin said Brooke Hamilton was a young man
at the time of La Fayette’s visit to America. That was in 1824. He and
La Fayette met and the Marquis was so delighted with him that he invited
him to join his suite of friends during his tour of the country. I wish
it had said more about both of them, but it didn’t,” finished Marjorie
regretfully.

“Perhaps the old Marquis de la Fayette and young Brooke Hamilton walked
down the very road we walked tonight and supped at the same old inn,”
Veronica said, as they approached the two wide, low steps that formed
the entrance to the restaurant.

“Quite likely they did,” agreed Jerry. The foremost of the party, she
opened the heavy, paneled door of solid oak.

A faint, united breath of approbation rose from the visitors as they
stepped into a room of noble proportions. It was almost square and as
beautiful an apartment as the girls had ever seen. Beam ceiling,
wainscoting and floor were all of precisely the same shade and quality
of dark oak. So perfectly did every foot of wood in the room match that
it might have all come from one giant tree, hewn out and polished by
gnomes. There was something about its perfection that suggested a castle
hall of fairy lore. On each side of the room were three high-backed,
massive oak benches. The tops of these were decorated by a carved oak
leaf pattern, the simplicity of which was the design of genius itself.
The heavy, claw-legged oak tables, oval in shape and ten in number, all
bore the same pattern, carved in the table top at about two inches from
the edge. There was no attempt at placing the tables in rows. They stood
at intervals far enough apart to permit easy passage in and out among
them. Yet each table seemed fitted into its own proper space. Moved two
inches out of it, the whole scheme of artistic regularity would have
been spoiled.

“It’s evident that Signor Baretti never furnished this room,” commented
Ronny in a voice just above a whisper. “I never saw anything like it,
before! never! Lead me to a seat at one of those beautiful tables.”

“Yes; do let us sit down as soon as we can,” echoed Muriel eagerly. “I
am dying to look and look and look at everything in this adorable old
room. I am glad it is almost empty. We can sit and stare and no one will
be here to resent it.”

This time it was Muriel who took the lead and made a bee-line for a
table at the far end of the room on the right. The others followed her,
quickly slipping into the oak chairs, each with its spade-shaped, high
back and fairly broad seat. That these chairs were built for comfort as
well as ornament the Lookouts soon discovered.

“Oh, the joy of this comfy chair,” sighed Ronny. “It actually fits my
back. That’s more than I can say of those train seats. I am going to
turn in the minute I am back at Wayland House. I am _so_ tired, and a
little bit sleepy.”

Marjorie and Ronny shared one menu, while each of the others had one to
herself. After the usual amount of comment and consultation, all decided
upon consommé, roast chicken, potatoes au gratin, and a salad, with
dessert and coffee to follow. Their order given to a round-faced,
olive-tinted Italian girl, the Five Travelers were free to look about
them for a little.

Directly across from them at a table which formed a wide obtuse angle
with theirs were four girls. While the quartette had appeared to be
occupied in eating ices on the entrance into the restaurant of the
Sanford party, no move of the strangers had been lost on them. Four
pairs of young eyes covertly appraised the newcomers. That the Five
Travelers interested the other girls was clearly proven by the frequency
of their glances, discreetly veiled. Deep in the exploration of the
menu, the Sanford quintette were unaware that they had attracted any
special attention from the diners at the one other occupied table in the
room. Nevertheless, while they were busy with the ordering of their
dinner, they were being subjected to a most critical survey.

By the time the consommé was served, the other group had finished the
eating of their ices and risen to depart. As they left the table
Marjorie glanced impersonally toward them. A sudden wave of color
deepened the pink in her cheeks as she encountered four pairs of
unfamiliar eyes all fastened on her. Immediately she looked away,
annoyed with herself, rather than them for staring. Nor had she gained a
definite idea of the appearance of any one of them, so keen was her own
momentary discomfiture.

Regarding herself and her chums, the departing diners had a very clear
idea. Hardly had they stepped outside the restaurant when a low buzz of
conversation began.

“Leila Harper, did you ever see anyone lovelier than that brown-eyed
freshie?” inquired one of the quartette, a tall, stately girl with pale
gold hair and a rather thin, interesting face. “The one in dark blue, I
mean.”

“No; I see a certain someone’s finish, don’t you?” The girl who made the
reply smiled as though signally amused. In the light cast by the
powerful post lights, the faces of her companions reflected that amused
smile. “I could have shrieked for joy when that crowd of freshmen walked
in with Beauty in their midst,” she continued. “They were all very
pretty girls, Selma. I really think we ought to take up the matter and
have some fun over it.”

“Incidentally, it would pull someone off a pedestal where she never
truly belonged. I never considered Natalie Weyman a _real_ beauty. She
is pretty, but rather artificial, I think.” The author of this criticism
was an attractive young woman with wavy chestnut hair and deep blue
eyes, the beauty of which was partly obscured by eyeglasses.

“I don’t admire Miss Weyman’s style of good looks, either, Nella.” This
from the fourth member of the party, a small girl with pale brown hair,
pale blue eyes, with very dark brows and lashes, and a skin dazzlingly
white. Standing five feet one in high heels, Vera Mason was noticeable
for her doll-like daintiness of form and feature. She was not beautiful,
so far as regularity of feature went, for her small nose turned up a
trifle and her mouth was too wide to be classically perfect. She was,
however, singularly charming.

“I had rather call you a beauty any time than apply it to her, Midget,”
was Leila Harper’s quick return. Her eyes of true Irish blue twinkled as
she said this. Suddenly she threw back her head and laughed aloud,
showing white even teeth, their very soundness matching the rest of her
strong-featured face and blue-black hair. Leila was of old Irish stock
and very proud of it.

“Oh, girls, I have it; a plan I mean!” she exclaimed. “Now listen to the
wise Irish woman and you’ll agree with me that there’s nothing that
could fit the occasion more nearly than what I have in mind. It will do
wonders in the way of curing Nat Weyman’s swelled head and no one can
possibly say it isn’t fair.”

Four abreast in the moonlight, the sophomores who had so heartily
admired Marjorie strolled back to the campus, listening as they went to
a plan Leila was unfolding which appeared to afford them much
anticipatory delight.

Meanwhile at the quaint old inn the Five Travelers were hungrily
disposing of a comforting meal, wholly unconscious of being already a
subject for discussion among a certain group of sophomores. It was as
well for Marjorie’s peace of mind that she did not know she had already
been acclaimed a beauty at Hamilton College. Neither could the four
sophomores, who were thoughtlessly planning the merited discomfiture of
one girl through the raising up of another, know what a difference the
carrying out of that plan would make in Marjorie Dean’s life at Hamilton
College.



CHAPTER XIV.—A SILENT DECLARATION OF HOSTILITY.


Not very long after the Five Travelers returned to Wayland Hall the
half-past ten o’clock bell sounded. Desirous of complying with the rules
of the college from the start, they had prepared for sleep in much
greater haste than usual, a proceeding which Veronica deplored most of
all. Accustomed to making leisurely preparations for retiring, she had
known beforehand that this would be her chief annoyance when at college.

For fully twenty-five minutes after the penetrating clang of the house
bell had ceased, sound of voices and light footsteps in the hall
indicated that a few students, at least, were not taking the ten-thirty
rule very seriously.

“What was that?” Jerry, who had dropped to sleep almost on the instant
her head had found the pillow, started up in the darkness, awakened by
the sharp slam of a door further down the hall.

“Oh, someone slammed a door,” Marjorie replied sleepily. “I was almost
asleep, but not quite. It startled me, too. There seems to be very
little attention paid to the retiring bell in this house. I’ve heard the
girls talking and laughing in the halls ever since it rang. It’s quieter
now. I imagine next week it will be different. College doesn’t really
open until Monday, you know.”

“Busy Buzzy doesn’t look as though she would stand for much noise.
She’ll begin laying down the law about next week. I hope whoever slammed
that door hasn’t the habit. Well, what now!”

From somewhere out on the campus the musical rhythm of chimes had begun.
They played the quarter, the half, the three-quarters of the hour, then
sweetly and clearly the stroke of eleven followed. Listening to it,
Marjorie felt a strange new peace of mind steal over her. Longfellow’s
understanding lines:

  “The night shall be filled with music,
    And the cares that infest the day,
  Shall fold their tents like the Arabs,
    And silently steal away.”

The silvery tones had a vastly soothing effect upon her troubled spirit.
Altogether, it had been one of the most dispiriting days she had ever
lived. She now hailed the ringing of the chimes as a kind of lullaby to
her cares. Here was a second friend of whom she was sure she could never
grow tired.

“That’s eleven o’clock. Didn’t those chimes sound pretty? I suppose
that’s the end of the limit bell here at Hamilton. If you aren’t in bed
when the chimes play eleven, you are a disgrace to your Alma Mater. If
you aren’t asleep by that time, well—you can hear ’em. I’ve heard them,
I’m going to sleep this minute. Night, Sweet Marjoram.”

“Good night, Jeremiah.” Marjorie lay awake for a little, her thoughts on
her father and mother. She knew that they were thinking of her and a
sense of soothing warmth enfolded her, born of the knowledge of their
steadfast adoration.

Marjorie awakened next morning to find the sun in her eyes and herself
not quite certain of where she was. She glanced across the room to where
Jerry’s couch was situated. It was without an occupant. “Oh!” she
exclaimed in consternation. Her eyes hastily sought the mission wall
clock. It was only ten minutes to seven. Reassured, she lay still and
viewed the room by broad daylight. The furnishings were pretty and
comfortable. The color scheme of the room was delft blue. The walls were
papered in a white mica-stripe with a plain white ceiling. A wide,
ragged border of bachelor’s buttons added vastly to the dainty effect.
The two wash-stands, chiffoniers and dressing tables had Japanese covers
of white stamped in blue figures. The hard-wood floor was covered by a
velvet rug in three shades of blue, and the couch covers were also in
indeterminate blues. There were two easy chairs, one willow rocker and
two straight cane-seated chairs. A good sized library table occupied the
center of the room. It was of black walnut and an antique. At each end
of the room was a door opening into a closet, large enough to permit the
hanging of wearing apparel without crowding. All the necessary effects
having been provided, it remained to the occupants to supply their own
individual decorations.

The entrance into the room of Jerry, her round face rosy from her
morning scrub, brought Marjorie’s inspection of her new “house” to an
end.

“I’ve been looking at our new room ever since I woke up,” saluted
Marjorie. “It is pretty, I think. I am not used to blue, though. It
matches you better than me, Jerry.”

“Yes, I see it does. It’s large enough for the furniture, without
crowding. That’s what I like about it. I believe——”

The silver-tongued chimes cut into Jerry’s speech, ringing out a live
little prelude before striking seven. Came the striking of the hour, a
slow, measured salute to the sunny autumn morning.

“You may politely say ‘excuse me,’ next time you butt into my
conversation.” Jerry nodded an admonishing head in the direction from
whence the musical sounds had come. “Funny I didn’t hear those chimes at
six o’clock. I was awake.”

“Maybe they don’t play them every hour,” suggested Marjorie. “I remember
when we were living in B—— an Episcopal Church near where we lived had a
set of chimes installed. They started out by having them played every
hour. It annoyed the nearby residents so much that they finally rang
them only at six o’clock in the evening and on special occasions. They
never bothered General and Captain and me. We were sorry to lose them.
It was like meeting some one I hadn’t heard of in a long while to hear
those good old bells last night. There are two things I love already
about Hamilton. One is the campus; the other is the chimes.”

“I agree with you about the campus. I don’t know yet about the chimes.
Familiarity with them may breed anything but admiration.” Jerry was only
jesting. Such was her nature that she shied at the proximity of
sentiment. She had it in her to be sure, but she kept it hidden far
beneath the surface.

“You had better hurry along to your bath,” she now advised. “By
half-past seven the lavatory will become suddenly very popular.”

“I’m going this minute.” Marjorie had already donned a negligee and was
hastily thrusting her feet into quilted satin slippers.

As she stepped from her room into the hall, a door on the opposite side,
above the room occupied by Lucy and Ronny, swung open with a jerk. On
the threshold appeared Natalie Weyman. She was evidently in a bad humor,
for her heavy brows were sharply drawn in an ugly scowl. Her eyes
happening to light on Marjorie, her face grew perceptibly darker. With a
smothered exclamation, she disappeared into her room again, banging the
door. She had not even attempted a “good morning,” but had stared at
Marjorie as though she had never seen her before.

Not in the least impressed, Marjorie continued imperturbably toward the
lavatory. She had made two discoveries, however. She knew now who had
slammed the door on the previous night. She knew, too, that Natalie
Weyman had no real feeling of friendliness toward her. She had heard
enough from the three callers of the evening before to arraign them in
her mind as leaning very hard toward snobbishness. If they were snobs,
she wished to keep far away from them. Further, she had no intention of
regarding Miss Weyman’s call as anything but a duty-prompted affair. Not
one of the three young women had extended an informal invitation to the
Five Travelers to visit them in their rooms. If the select Sans Soucians
expected to see herself and chums go out of their way to please, they
would be disappointed.



CHAPTER XV.—THE GIRLS OF WAYLAND HALL.


In the lavatory she encountered the two students of whom Ronny had made
inquiry regarding Baretti’s. The black-haired girl looked at her, then
nodded pleasantly. Marjorie returned the salutation with a half-shy
smile which the square-chinned, sandy-haired girl shrewdly noted.
Regarding Marjorie intently for an instant, very deliberately she
stretched forth a hand.

“Good morning,” she said, in a rather deep voice for a girl. “Did you
have any trouble finding Baretti’s?”

“Not a bit, thank you.” This time Marjorie’s smile broke forth in all
its sunny beauty. “We might have lost our way if we had not met you. We
saw some girls in the rustic house as we left the Hall, but we met no
others. If we had tried to find it ourselves, and turned to the left
instead of the right, I don’t know where we would have landed.”

“Not anywhere near food; I can tell you that.” It was the tall girl’s
turn to smile. Marjorie liked her instantly. She admired her capable
chin and direct, honest expression. “You would have gone rambling along
toward the Hamilton Estates.”

“We saw them yesterday as we drove to the college from the station. They
are so artistically laid out. I am anxious to see Hamilton Arms. I have
been interested in what the bulletin says of Brooke Hamilton. We loved
Baretti’s. It must have been an inn, long ago. That is what we thought.”

“It was,” answered the brunette. She now offered her hand. “It used to
be called ‘Comfort Inn.’ You and your friends are freshmen, I know. Miss
Remson told us that there were to be five freshmen from the same town at
the Hall this year. You see the Hall was fairly well filled last June
with prospective sophs and a few juniors and seniors. I think only two
other freshmen besides yourselves were able to get in here, this year.
We mustn’t keep you standing here. I am Martha Merrick, and this is my
pal, Rosalind Black. We are sophomores. We are not so very much inflated
over our high estate. You may look at us, of course, and even speak to
us.”

“I will try not to overstep bounds,” Marjorie promised. “I am Marjorie
Dean, and I am glad to meet you. I haven’t yet learned a freshman’s
prerogatives. I must rely upon my high and mighty sophomore sisters to
enlighten me.”

“We will, never fear. You may expect to see us in your room before long;
perhaps this evening, if you are not busy.”

“You will be welcome. We have nothing special to do this evening. We
shall look forward to seeing you, and treat you with proper respect, you
may be sure.”

All three laughed merrily at Marjorie’s assurance. The two sophomores
then left her to her morning ablutions.

“‘The sweetest flower that grows’” sang Martha Merrick softly, the
minute the door closed between them and Marjorie.

“Isn’t she, though,” quietly agreed her companion. “She isn’t a snob,
Martha. She has gentle manners.”

“Oh, I know it! What a relief to see a beauty who isn’t wrapped up in
herself. Did you ever see anything more gorgeous than that head of brown
curls. If I wished to be further poetical I could quote numerous lines
that would apply to her.”

“She is lovely enough to inspire them, but she is more than that. She is
a very fine girl. Depend upon it, Martha, her friends are worth knowing
or they wouldn’t be her friends. That’s the way I read our stunning
freshie. I hope I am right. A few staunch democratics besides ourselves
and Nella and Leila are needed here to offset Millionaire Row.”

Meanwhile Marjorie was luxuriating in her morning scrub, a happy little
smile playing about her lips. It was so cheering to meet friendliness at
last. Miss Merrick and Miss Black were far more according to her college
ideals. Before she had completed her toilet several girls dropped into
the lavatory. Long before this, her curls had been fastened up, close to
her head. Nevertheless the strangers stared more or less politely at
her. Two of them she thought she recognized as among the four she had
seen at Baretti’s.

About to leave the lavatory, one of the towels on her arm slid to the
floor as she essayed to open the door. Some one behind her recovered it
and handed it to her. Turning to thank the doer of the courtesy, she
caught a flash of white teeth and the steady regard of two bright blue
eyes. This was Marjorie’s first impression of Leila Harper.

“I am ever so much obliged to you,” she said.

“You are welcome.” The other girl betrayed no special interest in
Marjorie. Nevertheless Leila Harper was interested to the point of
deliberately endeavoring to draw her into conversation. About to turn
away, Leila spoke again. “I believe I saw you last night at Baretti’s.”

“I thought I recognized you as one of the students who sat at a table on
the right,” Marjorie instantly replied. Not a word more did she
volunteer. Instinctively she recognized a difference in the stranger’s
manner from that of the two students with whom she had recently talked.

“Baretti’s is a quaint old place, is it not?” remarked the other, a
shade more cordially.

“We admired it. We were too late for dinner at the Hall last night, so
we were directed there.” Marjorie could not bring herself to be too
casual.

“It’s a good place to eat when you have a brand new check from home in
your pocket. Toward the last of the month I am generally to be found at
the Hall at meal-time.” Her blue eyes twinkled in true Irish fashion and
her white teeth again flashed into evidence.

“I suppose it will be the same with me before I have been here long. At
home my chums and I used to part with our pocket money at a tea-room
called Sargent’s. Now we shall undoubtedly do our best to make Baretti
rich.”

“Where do you come from?” The question was asked with abrupt directness.

Marjorie answered in quietly even tones, adding a few more explanatory
sentences concerning herself and chums. It had occurred to her that this
latest acquaintance had engaged in conversation with her for a purpose
of her own. Realizing that time was on the wing, and Jerry probably
impatient at her non-return, she excused herself and pattered down the
hall to her room.

“I thought you would never come back,” greeted Jerry. “Have you seen the
girls?”

“No; not one of them. I met those two girls who directed us to Baretti’s
last night. They are sophomores. I like them. Miss Remson mentioned us
to them.

“Now I told you Busy Buzzy was on the job all the time. She ought to be
our press agent. Only we don’t need one. True worth will always be
discovered, sooner or later. Who else knows our home town and past
history as given out by our little Buzz-about?”

“No one else, so far as I know.” Marjorie was forced to smile at Jerry’s
nonsense. She did not altogether approve of Busy Buzzy and Buzz-about as
names for the odd little manager. She doubted if Miss Remson would hail
either with joy. “I met another girl, too. One of those we saw at
Baretti’s last night.” Marjorie briefly described her and the
circumstances of the meeting.

“Yes; I remember her. I took a good look at those four. They were
watching us, too. They were very clever about it, though.”

Marjorie said nothing for a little. Engaged with her hair at the
dressing table, a decided frown shadowed her forehead.

“What’s the matter?” Seated where she could see her chum’s face in the
mirror, Jerry had instantly noted the shadow.

“Oh, nothing much. It seemed to me this girl didn’t care about being
friendly. She acted more as if she were trying to find out what sort of
person I was. It wasn’t what she said to me, but her manner that made me
think it. I felt toward her as I might have toward a stranger I had
chanced to meet somewhere in public and exchanged courtesies with.”

“She was probably trying to find out your principles and so forth. She
may be either a snob or a snob-hater. It wouldn’t surprise me if that
were the main issue here,” was Jerry’s shrewd guess. “In either case she
would be anxious to know how to class you. According to Miss Archer’s
friend, Miss Hutchison, the snob proposition has become a grand nuisance
here. Who knows? Before long we may be taking part in a regular fight
against ‘our crowd.’ Maybe both sides are looking for freshman
recruits.”

“Well, if it’s a fight based on money, you and Ronny are eligible to
‘our crowd,’” retorted Marjorie mischievously. “The rest of us can’t
qualify.”

“It’s a good thing,” Jerry said sarcastically. “Any time you catch me
toddling along with that foolish aggregation you may discard me
forever.”

The measured raps on the door turned the attention of both girls to it.
Jerry answered it, admitting Muriel.

“Top of the morning,” she saluted. “Ready to go down to breakfast? Have
you seen Ronny and Lucy yet?”

“I am ready and Marjorie soon will be. No; the girls haven’t appeared.
We have loads of time for breakfast this morning. No danger of getting
left.”

Muriel at once began to recount her meeting in the lavatory with two
freshmen. She was in the midst of it when more rapping announced Ronny
and Lucy.

“I was afraid you had gone down stairs,” were Ronny’s first words. “I
slept until the last minute as usual. Lucy was up long before me. She
set off for the lavatory, bold as you please. When she opened the door
and saw half a dozen strangers, she took fright and hustled back to our
room. Then she sat around like a goose until I woke up.”

Lucy merely smiled a little at this exposé. “I needed Ronny’s moral
support,” she said whimsically. “Afterward I was sorry I didn’t brave it
out. The second time the lavatory held twice as many girls.”

“We landed in the middle of ‘our crowd,’” reported Veronica, looking
extremely bored. “They paid no attention to us, for which I was duly
thankful. Like myself, I suppose they hate to get up early. I didn’t
mind it at home, for I can take my time. I often get up at five o’clock
when Father and I are going for a long ride over the ranch. But to rise
early, then have to hurry!” Ronny made a gesture eloquent of disfavor.

“Miss Weyman said there were eighteen girls in their sorority,”
interposed Jerry. “I wonder how many of them room in this house?”

“A dozen at least; perhaps the whole eighteen,” replied Ronny. “There
were eight or nine of them in the lavatory. I heard them asking where
Florence and Lita were, so I daresay they are among the elect. Miss
Weyman wasn’t there nor Miss Cairns. I saw and heard Miss Vale, she was
talking at the top of her lungs.”

“Did that Miss Vale speak to you?” Jerry questioned abruptly.

“I happened to catch her eye and she gave me a wee little nod and a
sickly smile,” Ronny answered, in satirical amusement.

“Marjorie and I have an inkling that there are two factions at the Hall.
If that’s the case—Good-bye to a peaceful college life,” predicted
Jerry. “While we may think we can keep clear of both factions, we can
never do it. Mark my words, within six weeks from now we’ll be all out
of patience with ‘our crowd.’ Then look out for fireworks.”



CHAPTER XVI.—CULTIVATING CLASS SPIRIT.


Following Jerry’s ominous prophecy, nothing of any special moment
occurred to mar the Five Travelers’ peace of mind during their first
week at Hamilton. So occupied were they in choosing their subjects,
arranging their recitation periods and adapting themselves to the new
life that they paid small attention to the comings and goings of the
coterie of millionaire’s purse-proud daughters which Wayland Hall
housed.

The Sans Soucians were deep in a round of sociabilities, to which it
appeared that only a few juniors and seniors were eligible. To the other
girls of the sophomore class, they accorded a cool shoulder. A handful
of moneyed freshmen found favor with them and were therefore made much
of. The Lookouts, however, were not among these. They had been privately
rated by their quondam callers as plebians and dropped.

While Marjorie and Muriel had chosen the classical course, Lucy and
Jerry had decided on the scientific and Ronny on the philosophical. As
they had arrived at Hamilton three days before the official opening of
the college, they had plenty of time to discuss together the respective
merits of their chosen courses and arrange satisfactorily their
recitation periods.

The making of these necessary arrangements, together with unpacking
their trunks and attention to the countless details relative to their
physical comfort, left them little time during those first busy days for
social amenities outside their own intimate circle.

With Helen Trent, Martha Merrick and Rosalind Black they had become
fairly friendly. Helen, in particular, had already become a welcome
visitor to their rooms. She had a habit of dropping in on one or another
of them with a bit of lively, but harmless, college gossip, that was
infinitely diverting. She never prolonged her visits to the wearisome
point. She was never in the way. In fact, she was usually in a hurry.
The difficulty lay in trying to hold her, never in wishing for her to
depart.

Thanks to Miss Remson, the five girls had been given places at one table
in the dining room. At meal time they were, therefore, a close
corporation. Muriel’s acquaintance with the two freshmen, Mary Cornell
and Eva Ingram, both from New York City, had flourished to the extent
that they had made her one evening call which she had returned. Like
herself, they had made no acquaintances outside the Hall since their
arrival and relied on each other for company.

Toward the end of the Sanford girls’ second week at Hamilton a number of
things happened. First of all, Muriel acquired a room-mate as a result
of persistent “buzzing” on the part of the manager. When first asked to
share her room with the dissatisfied junior, Miss Barlow, Muriel had
thought it over and decided in the negative. Miss Barlow was not to be
thus easily balked of her desire. She persisted with Miss Remson and
Miss Remson persisted with Muriel until the latter finally revoked her
earlier refusal.

“Anything to have the subject off my mind,” she confided to her chums.
“I’m tired of being waylaid by Miss Remson. I don’t blame Jeremiah for
calling her Busy Buzzy. Just wait until you see my room-mate! Her name
is Hortense. It ought to be Moretense. She is the stiffest person I ever
saw. She walks as though she were wired and then starched for the
occasion. I had a lovely conversation with her last night. She moved in
after classes yesterday. I talked quite a lot. All she said was ‘Yes,’
‘Do you?’ and ‘I believe not.’”

The name “Moretense” found instant favor with Jerry, while the other
three Lookouts had hard work to keep their faces straight when they
chanced to encounter dignified Miss Barlow about the Hall. Very tall and
straight to rigidity, her set features never seemed to relax. Even an
abundant head of blue black hair, loosely coiffed, did not serve to
soften the wax-like immobility of her rather broad face. Whether her
disposition and temperament matched her peculiar physical presence was
something Muriel had not had time to fathom.

Muriel’s room-mate, nevertheless, was of more interest to the Five
Travelers than the notice of the class election which was to take place
at the beginning of their third week at Hamilton. They had long since
learned that the majority of the freshmen had made harbor at Acasia
House and Silverton Hall, both noted as freshmen domiciles. Recitations
had familiarized them with the other members of their class, which was a
small one for Hamilton, numbering only eighty-two students. Still they
had not become much acquainted with their classmates and they had not
yet reached a stage of active interest in their class.

Summoned to election one windy Tuesday afternoon, following recitations,
the Lookouts began to experience the beginning of class enthusiasm. The
majority of 19— were bright-faced, bright-eyed girls who reminded
Marjorie of her class at Sanford High. It was seeing them together that
brought to her a tardy realization that she had been too entirely
wrapped up in her own affairs to cultivate a proper class spirit. Had
she entered Hamilton College alone, she would have made acquaintances in
her class more quickly. Surrounded by four of her intimate friends, her
hours of leisure were always spent with them. Of the five girls, she had
the peculiar personality which invites friendship. Muriel came next in
this, Ronny was not interested in acquiring new friends. Jerry was hard
to please, and Lucy was too reserved. A large number of freshmen at
Wayland Hall would have also made a difference. As this was not the
case, the Lookouts were obliged to admit among themselves that they had
been lacking in class spirit.

The freshmen from Silverton Hall, about thirty in number, were, to all
appearances, taking the lead in the class election. Three of the
candidates nominated for office who won, respectively, the presidency,
vice-presidency and secretaryship were from there. As the candidates
were obliged to come up to the front of Science Hall where the meeting
was held, the Lookouts had at least the opportunity to see the nominees
and judge their fitness, as nearly as they could, from their personal
appearance. All five approved in particular the new president, Miss
Graham, a fair-haired, pink-cheeked young woman with sparkling brown
eyes and a ready, sunshiny smile.

The treasurer-elect was an Acasia House girl, while the various
committees were about equally divided between the two houses. While the
Lookouts were entirely satisfied with the result of the election, they
felt, nevertheless, a trifle out of things. They had had no part in the
merry electioneering which had evidently gone on under their very noses.
More, it appeared that another class meeting had been held before this,
of which they had seen no notice on the Hall bulletin board, neither had
they received a written or verbal summons to it.

During a recess after the election granted for the purpose of shaking
hands with the officers, Marjorie found the golden brown eyes of the
president fixed very kindly on her.

“You are at Wayland Hall, aren’t you? I know you are Miss Dean, for I
saw you on the campus over two weeks ago and made inquiry about you. It
is too bad we don’t have any of the same recitation periods. I would
have met you before this. I thought you would be at our other class
meeting, but neither you nor your four friends came. I haven’t time to
talk any more now. Observe that line of congratulators. After the
meeting, if you will wait for me, several of the Silverton girls would
like to meet you and your friends.”

“Of course we will wait, and feel highly honored.” Marjorie flashed the
president a winsome smile, albeit she was nonplussed as to why pretty
Miss Graham had been so anxious to meet her, in particular. She was also
bent on learning more of the other class meeting from which they had in
some strange manner been cut out.

The meeting over, the Sanford quintette stood off to one side, waiting
for Miss Graham. She presently came up to them, accompanied by half a
dozen freshmen, evidently close friends of hers. An introducing session
ensued, punctuated by laughter and gay pleasantries. It produced a more
comforting effect on the Five Travelers than had anything since the day
when Helen Trent, by her kindly manner, had taken the strain off their
arrival.

“What do you think of that, girls? Miss Dean and her friends did not
know a _thing_ about the other class meeting we held here! We sent
notices to all the campus houses, requesting them bulletined. There was
a notice on the big bulletin board, too. The one outside Hamilton Hall,
you know.”

“Why, Portia, don’t you remember? It was awfully windy that day and some
one came into the Hall and said that there wasn’t a sign of our notice
on the large board. It must have blown away. That was at noon. We were
to put out another and I believe it was forgotten.” This information
came from a small girl with very wide-open gray eyes and brown hair,
cropped close to her head. She had the face of a mischievous, small boy.

“Yes, Robin, I do recall it, now that you have reminded me. Much
obliged. That explains, perhaps, why you did not see it on the main
bulletin board. It seems strange that the notice we sent to Wayland Hall
was not posted there. Miss Remson, I understand, is always particularly
careful to post the notices sent her.”

“If Miss Remson received it, she would not fail to post it,” asserted
Marjorie. “Was it mailed or delivered by a freshman messenger?”

“I took it to Wayland Hall.” It was the girl Miss Graham addressed as
Robin who answered. “I handed it to a maid in a sealed envelope,
addressed to Miss Remson.”

“Perhaps some of the sophs saw it on the bulletin board and nabbed it
for a joke,” suggested a tall, handsome brunette who had been introduced
to the Lookouts as Miss Scott.

“A poor sort of joke, I should say,” Robin Page said, a trifle
contemptuously.

“Well, we were told we might expect——” Blanche Scott broke off short,
with a significant twitch of compressed lips.

“It was unfortunate, of course,” Portia Graham hastily remarked, “but
we’ll hope no more notices go astray. You freshmen at the Hall had
better keep in closer touch with us. That means come over to our house
and be sociable. How many more freshmen besides yourselves live at
Wayland Hall?”

“Two; Miss Cornell and Miss Ingram.” Muriel supplied this information.
“They were sitting toward the back of the hall when the meeting began.
There they are!” She located the two at a short distance from them,
talking earnestly to the student who had been elected to the
vice-presidency. She bore a slight resemblance to Irma Linton. The
Lookouts often saw her on the campus and during recitation periods, but
did not know her name.

“Oh; I see them. They are in good hands.” Miss Graham looked relieved.
“Elaine Hunter is the sweetest girl in the whole world, I believe. Just
to be in the same house with her is to love her.”

“She reminds us of a friend of ours at home.” Jerry glanced very
approvingly toward the pretty freshman. “We have noticed her on the
campus. If she is as fine as Irma Linton, our friend, she is worth
knowing. We were sorry that Irma didn’t choose Hamilton, but her mother
was a Wellesley graduate and anxious for Irma to enter Wellesley.”

“I know how that goes,” nodded Miss Graham. “My dearest friend was
packed off to Smith College to please her family. She didn’t care to
enter Smith, but went as a matter of duty.”

At this juncture, Elaine Hunter, accompanied by Miss Cornell and Miss
Ingram, joined the group around the president and more introducing
followed. Presently the whole party trooped out of Science Hall and
across the wide campus together, making the still autumn dusk ring with
their clear young voices.

From the Silverton Hall girls the Lookouts learned that the regular
freshman dance, which the sophomores gave each year to their younger
sisters, was soon to take place. The date had not yet been given out. It
was the autumn event at Hamilton. The juniors and seniors could come to
it if they chose. On St. Valentine’s night the juniors always gave a
masquerade to all three of the other classes. Washington’s birthday the
seniors claimed as theirs and gave either a play or a costume dance. To
the freshmen belonged the Apple Blossom hop, a dance given by them each
spring in the time of apple blossoms.

When the seven freshmen bade their congenial classmates good-bye, and
struck off across the campus for Wayland Hall, it was with a new and
delightful sense of fellowship and cheer. Like the Lookouts, the two
girls from New York City had been disappointed at the lack of cordiality
they had met with at Hamilton. Neither had known of the first class
meeting until after it had been held, and both were a trifle hurt at
having been ignored. As the Lookouts had known nothing at all about it,
they at least could not be blamed for not having passed word of it
along.

“Well, we are at last beginning to meet the folks,” Jerry said with a
certain touch of grim satisfaction, as the five girls settled themselves
in Ronny’s and Lucy’s room for a few moment’s private chat before the
dinner bell sounded.

“If we were living at Silverton Hall or Acasia House we would be far
more in touch with college matters,” commented Ronny reflectively.

“You may blame me for choosing Wayland Hall,” Marjorie reminded. “I
liked the picture of it better than the others.”

“Yes; you picked this stately old lemon and we followed your lead.”
Jerry favored her room-mate with a genial grin which the latter returned
in kind. “We forgive you for it. How could you guess who else beside
Busy Buzzy lived here? I like the Hall. The rooms are good, the meals
are gooder, and the conveniences are goodest of all. It has the
prettiest lawn and veranda of them all, too.”

“It’s a blue-ribbon place or Moretense wouldn’t have besieged Miss
Remson to let her in here. I decline to say Busy Buzzy for fear of
getting the habit. I am too careless to apply it to her only in privacy.
I’m likely to come to grief,” Muriel said lightly.

“It’s no worse than ‘Moretense,’” argued Jerry. “You say that all the
time. I hope, for your sake, you won’t get caught saying _that_.”

“It sounds so much like ‘Hortense’ that I could get away with it,”
retorted Muriel. “Anyway, I like to name people according to their
lights and so do you. Long may we wave with no embarrassing accidents.”
Whereupon Jerry and Muriel solemnly shook hands.

“Isn’t it time we had a meeting of the Five Travelers?” Lucy Warner
broke in irrelevantly. “On the train we said we would have one once a
week. This is our third week here and we haven’t had even one.”

“Quite true, Lucificus Warneriferous, sage and philosopher,” agreed
Jerry, with a gravity which would have been admirable on any other
occasion.

“Jeremiah is all taken up with the naming habit,” put in Ronny slyly.

“Ain’t I jist,” chuckled Jerry. “Our cook always says that when I ask
her if she is going to the movies on Saturday night.”

“We are away off the subject.” Marjorie had done little but laugh since
the five had sat down to talk.

“Certainly, we are.” Lucy regarded Jerry with pretended severity. “We
never keep to a subject when Geraldine Macy is present.” Though she
spoke in jest there was a curious light in Lucy’s green eyes which no
one present except Marjorie understood. It always appeared when Lucy was
anxious to impart a confidence.

“You have something special to tell us, haven’t you, Lucy?” Marjorie
quietly asked.

“Yes, I have, but I wish it to be a confidence made to the Five
Travelers,” Lucy said with stiff positiveness. “While what I have to
tell you is not anything which touches us personally, it is something
which should be brought to your attention. I don’t wish to tell you
until we have a meeting. I think we had better have that meeting no
later than tomorrow night.”



CHAPTER XVII.—A HOUSE DIVIDED AGAINST ITSELF.


The result of Lucy’s strong plea for an official meeting of the Five
Travelers was a gathering, in hers and Ronny’s room, on the next
evening. As all had agreed to prepare for tomorrow’s recitations first,
it was nine o’clock when they assembled to hear what Lucy had to say.

What Marjorie said, however, the next moment after Ronny had turned the
key in the door was: “Girls, I’d like to have Ronny take charge of this
meeting. While there are only a handful of us, someone ought to be at
the head.”

Veronica demurred vigorously. She was overruled and found herself
mistress of ceremonies whether she would or no.

“Very well,” she at last accepted, “I will do the best I can to be an
illustrious head to this noble organization. To begin with, I will say
that I admire Lucy’s policy. What we report here weekly is official. If
we merely talked it over in our rooms it would sometimes seem like
gossiping, even though we did not intend it to be such. I don’t know
that I have anything special to tell. I will say this: Much as I like
Wayland Hall and Miss Remson, I do not like the atmosphere of it. It is
a house quietly divided against itself. There is no unity here of the
better element of girls. There ought to be. I am ready to say how such
unity might be brought about. I am not sure that I wish to make it my
business. I am not sure that it would come under the head of being a
Lookout. As the Five Travelers we have made no pledges, thus far,” she
concluded with her strange, flickering smile.

“While I was anxious to carry out the plan we made on the train about
the Five Travelers, what I have to tell you really comes under the head
of being a Lookout.” Lucy paused and glanced around the uneven
semi-circle into which the girls had drawn their chairs. “Someone I know
is in great need of help, or rather protection, and that is Miss
Langly.”

“In need of protection,” repeated Muriel Harding in a surprised tone.
“What awful calamity hangs over that quiet little mouse’s head?” The
other three girls also looked in mild amazement. Katherine Langly, a
quiet little sophomore, was the one acquaintance Lucy had made by
herself.

“It is those hateful sophomores from whom she needs protection,”
explained Lucy, smiling faintly at Muriel’s question. “They torment her
in all sorts of sly ways. I mean the ones Jerry named ‘our crowd.’ They
wish her to leave the Hall as a friend of theirs, a freshman, is trying
to get in here. You see she won a Hamilton scholarship. I mean one
offered by Hamilton College. She tried special examinations made up by
the Hamilton faculty of years ago. Her papers were considered so nearly
perfect that she was awarded the special scholarship which no one had
won for twenty years. It covers every expense. Mr. Brooke Hamilton
founded it and laid aside a sum of money for it. It is still in bank. So
few have won this scholarship, the money has accumulated until it is now
a very large sum.”

“How interesting!” the four listeners exclaimed in the same breath.

“Truly, I shall never rest until I have dug up a lot of Mr. Brooke
Hamilton’s history,” asserted Marjorie. “He was almost as interesting as
Benjamin Franklin, who was the most interesting person I ever heard of.
Pardon me, Lucy. I am the one who is off the subject tonight.”

“What does ‘our crowd’ do in the way of ragging Miss Langly?” demanded
Jerry, bristling into sudden belligerence. “They make me weary! The idea
of insulting a girl who has more mind in a minute than the whole bunch
will have in a century.”

“They never speak to her, although this is her second year at the Hall.
You see, the scholarship mentions a certain room in each of four campus
houses which the winner may have the use of. She cannot share it with
anyone. The terms state that a young woman brilliant enough to win the
scholarship has the right to exclusive privacy.”

“Wasn’t that dear in Brooke Hamilton?” Ronny cried out involuntarily. “I
adore the memory of that fine gentleman. I shall certainly join you in
the history-digging job, Marjorie.”

“Now let Brooke Hamilton rest,” ordered Jerry. “I am the only one of you
who really has a mind to the subject.”

“Give me credit,” emphasized Muriel. “I haven’t said a word. I’ve
listened hard. What else do these millionaires do, Lucy?” Muriel wagged
her head proudly at Jerry to show the latter how closely she had been
paying attention.

“Oh, they make remarks about her clothes and snub her dreadfully at
table. She sits at the same table as that Miss Cairns and Miss Vale.
They take turns staring steadily at her, sometimes, until they make her
so nervous she can scarcely eat. She said it wasn’t so bad last year for
she sat at a table with Miss Harper and Miss Sherman. Besides, these
girls weren’t trying to get her room. It has been worse this year. One
day last week Miss Myers, she is a ringleader among them, stopped her in
the hall and asked her if she would not be willing to trade rooms with
Miss Elster, the freshman they are working to get into the Hall. Miss
Langly explained that, on account of her scholarship, she had no choice
in the matter. She was angry, and she also said that if she were free to
make the exchange she would not do it. Then she walked away. That
evening Miss Myers reported her to Miss Remson for burning her lights
late, walking noisily about her room and slamming her door after the
ten-thirty bell had rung.”

“Why, that is simply outrageous!” cried Marjorie, her brown eyes
sparkling with indignation. “Surely, Miss Remson did not credit it.”

“No; she told Miss Langly to pay no attention to it. She called her
privately into her office and told her about the report soon after it
had been made. She said that she had simply informed Miss Myers that the
person who slammed her door so frequently and late was Miss Weyman, not
Miss Langly. That if Miss Langly burned her lights after the bell had
rung it was because she had had permission to do so. That if a number of
the other young women at the Hall would pattern after Miss Langly, it
would save her an infinite amount of trouble.”

“Good for Busy Buzzy,” cheered Jerry, standing up and waving her arms.

“Less noise or some one will report us,” warned Ronny laughingly. “These
millionairesses will be out for our scalps when they know us a little
better. I think the whole thing is shameful. It is just the way the
girls at Miss Trevelyn’s used to be. Only there were no poor girls
there. They used to act spitefully to one another. Of course Miss Langly
knows that you have told us this, Lucy?”

“Yes; I asked her if she cared if you girls knew it. I said I was sure
you would fight for her. She said she did not wish you to do so, but she
did not care if I told you. She supposed almost every one at the Hall
knew it.

“There isn’t much we can do at first,” said Marjorie thoughtfully. Every
pair of eyes were turned on her sweet face as she began speaking. “Our
best plan is the old way we have always done; take her under our wing.
There is room at our table for another plate. I will ask Miss Remson to
make that change. That will help a good deal. The rest of the time she
can keep out of those girls’ way.”

“We ought to do a little press-agenting. I mean, tell everybody how
brilliant Miss Langly is and about the scholarship,” was Muriel’s
inspiration. “We’ll start the Silverton Hall crowd to eulogizing her. If
these bullies find most of the college admires her, they will be a
little more careful. They aren’t crazy to take a back seat. They love to
be popular and have the mob follow them about.”

“Lucy, you must tell Miss Langly to be sure and attend the reception.
She owes it to herself to be there.” This from Ronny, in decided tones.

“She said she would like to invite me,” Lucy colored with shy
embarrassment, “but she was afraid we would not be well-treated. So many
of those girls are sophomores. She thinks they will run the reception.”

“You tell _her_ to go ahead and invite you,” commanded Jerry. “We’ll be
there to stand behind you. We may not have a special escort. If not, we
can go in a bunch. Has she a family, or is she an orphan, or what about
her?”

“She’s an orphan. She worked her way through high school. She lived with
an old lady and worked for her board. She has had a very sad life.”

“I am proud to know her,” Ronny said simply. “If I had known her long
ago I would have helped her.”

“We will make her our close friend and see what happens,” planned
Marjorie. “If the Sans Soucians choose to become offended with us on
that account, we shall understand better how to deal with them. It may
be as well to let them know our principles. They will then set us down
as prigs and leave us alone.”

This sentiment having been approved, Ronny inquired if there was
anything else to be reported by anyone present. Nothing of an adverse
nature happened to the Lookouts since the evening of their arrival,
neither had anything especially pleasant occurred which they had not
shared. The official confidence session was therefore closed until the
next week, and the girls fell to discussing the coming dance and what
they intended to wear. None of them except Lucy were likely to have a
special escort, was the modest opinion.

Two days after their private conclave, the date of the dance was
announced on all the bulletin boards. All freshmen were earnestly urged
to be present. Followed the happiness of special invitation for all of
the Lookouts. Helen Trent invited Jerry. Leila Harper invited Marjorie,
greatly to the latter’s amazement. Vera Mason requested the pleasure of
becoming Ronny’s escort. As for Muriel, she held her breath when stolid
Miss Barlow made offer to become her escort on the eventful night.
Muriel accepted ceremoniously and escaped from the room immediately
after being invited for fear of disgracing herself by laughing. Later,
Nella Sherman invited her, but Muriel had to decline, with some regret,
in favor of her odd room-mate.

The dance was to take place in the gymnasium on Thursday evening one
week after the first announcement had been made. For three afternoons
and evenings before the festivity, the majority of the sophomores were
to be found in the gymnasium, following classes, industriously engaged
in beautifying the spacious room for the affair. It may be said that the
Sans Soucians were strictly on the scene. In fact, they endeavored to
take charge. As they contributed a wealth of decorative material in the
way of small velvet rugs, expensive satin and velvet cushions and velour
draperies, they appeared to consider themselves of vital importance to
the affair.

The laborious part of the decorating, however, they took good care to
portion out to the sophomores outside their own intimate circle. Joan
Myers, as president of the sophomore class, had called a special meeting
and appointed a special committee on decorations for the dance. This
committee comprised Leila Harper, Helen Trent, Nella Sherman, Vera
Mason, Hortense Barlow, Martha Merrick and Selma Sanbourne. The Sans
Soucians were generous in the extreme in contributing luxurious effects,
but they were niggardly in offering to help with the hard work attending
the disposal of them. They lounged about the gymnasium and criticized
freely, but they did very little actual labor.

The odd part was to see the stolidity of the hard-working committee, as
assisted by the willing element among the sophomores, they toiled on,
paying scarcely more attention to their indolent classmates than if they
had been a few ubiquitous flies. On the first afternoon of the three
preceding the hop, the committee hired a light wagon and went to the
Hamilton Forest, a piece of woods situated about two miles south of the
college. They returned at dusk laden with the fragrant spoils of the
woods. On the second afternoon and evening the work of transforming the
gymnasium into an autumn bower was skilfully performed. A creditable
number of juniors and seniors did diligent service on this hard detail.
On the third afternoon they arranged the cushions, draperies, chairs and
like effects. Fortunately for them the Sans were absent. They were
bending their valuable energies toward beautifying themselves for the
evening.

The Sans Soucians numbered eighteen sophomores, but their sympathizers
numbered as many more. In a class of ninety-two, at least twenty took
small interest in class matters. This left a trifle less than half of
the class to uphold democracy. As freshmen, the nobler element of girls
had made some effort to stem the rising tide of snobbishness in their
class. Utterly disgusted, they had at length, quietly withdrawn from
association with an unworthy enemy. Now at the beginning of their
sophomore year, indications marked no change for the better.

“Well, sophies, the job is done, and be-utifully done!” sang out Leila
Harper. Unfastening the voluminous blue bungalow apron she had worn
while at work, she whipped it off and stood surveying her scratched and
dusty hands.

“The whole thing is a positive dream!” admired Vera Mason, clasping her
small hands. “I can’t help saying the gym looks much finer than last
year.”

“You may say it. Don’t let the junies hear you.” Leila’s voice carried
the peculiar inflection that marks the Celt the world over. “It remains
to be seen who will claim the credit,” she added with a touch of satire.
“Never mind, wait until the evening is over. There will be a grand
surprise for some folks.” She laughed softly, in anticipatory enjoyment
of the surprise she was predicting. “I must hurry along. Remember, I am
to escort Beauty to the hop.”

“Do try to be on time, Leila,” counseled Selma Sanbourne. “You’re always
late, you know.”

“That I am, Swede,” retorted Leila, in good-humored agreement.

While Vera Mason rejoiced in the nickname “Midget,” Selma, being a
Scandinavian, had received that of “Swede.” She occasionally retaliated
by calling Leila “Ireland,” the latter having been the one to apply the
two aforesaid nicknames to her chums.

“Don’t be disappointed if I’m not the first one here,” warned Leila.
Rolling up the apron and tucking it under one arm, she prepared to
depart.

“That means Leila is going to walk in at the last minute with our
rosebud girl on her arm,” Martha Merrick declared. “Honestly, mates,
it’s going to be so funny, if all works out as it should. It will be the
first definite blow we have attempted to strike. After the way Natalie
Weyman behaved on the day she volunteered to meet that Sanford crowd,
she _needs_ a lesson.”

“What possessed her, do you suppose?” Nella Sherman asked. “As nearly as
I can remember, she insisted upon going to the train to meet them. Then
she missed them, although she had plenty of time to reach the station
before their train arrived. Afterward, she went to one of their rooms, I
don’t know which, to apologize for her non-appearance. Result, they had
their dinner at Baretti’s.”

“What do you mean, Nella?” Martha Merrick looked nonplussed. “I don’t
see the connection between your last two remarks.”

“I’ll enlighten you. You are the one who told me that our five Sanford
freshmen asked you to direct them to Baretti’s that night. It was after
six o’clock when they arrived at the Hall. Naturally it took them time
to scrub and generally freshen after an all day’s ride on the train.
What did Natalie Weyman do but decide to make them an apology call
precisely at the time when they should have gone down to dinner. Miss
Cairns and Dulcie Vale were with her. They stayed until after the dining
room had closed. We didn’t find this out, all in a minute, Martha. It
took Leila, Midget, Selma and I to piece it together. You helped by
remarking to us about you and Rosalind meeting them.”

“Yes, and since then Natalie Weyman hardly speaks to those girls,” added
Selma.

“There is only one explanation for such contemptible conduct,” Martha
said scornfully, “and you know it as well as I. This is the first I have
heard of Natalie’s call. Last year she was quite friendly with me until
I said to her that I thought it was ill-bred to base social values on
money. She cut me after that. I was not sorry.”

“She is very malicious and if she had known those five girls beforehand
I would say that she had an object in playing dog in the manger about
meeting them and keeping them from their dinner afterward,” Leila Harper
said. “As it happens, they knew no one here. They are thoroughbred to
the bone. Not one word have they ever said to anyone of that night.”

“It was a case of selfishness and lack of consideration, I imagine,”
surmised Vera Mason. “I mean, on Miss Weyman’s part.”

“Whatever prompted such inconsideration, I am sick of it,” was Leila’s
vehement utterance. “Why should the fine traditions of this college be
trodden under by such vandals? That’s precisely what they are. We should
have gone to the train to meet those girls. When it was distinctly given
out that Natalie Weyman intended to go, what was our conclusion? That
they belonged to her circle. I made acquaintance very warily with them,
on that account. They dress as well as any of the Sans ever dreamed of
dressing. Miss Warner dresses more plainly, but her gowns are pleasing.
They may be the daughters of millionaires, for all we know, but they are
not snobs. Have you noticed the way they have taken up nice little Miss
Langly? She has actually been abused by the Sans. Why? They were
determined to make her give up her room to that obnoxious little
freshie, Miss Elster. I despise the ultra-sophisticated type of girl she
is. She boasts that she rides to hounds, enters dachshunds at bench
shows, plays billiards and so on. She swaggers about like a detestable
young man instead of a young girl.”

“Really, Leila, you are certainly a successful information gleaner,”
Nella regarded her room-mate with an amused smile. “You know how to keep
it to yourself, too. I hadn’t heard that Miss Langly had been abused by
the Sans, or, that a freshman who rode to hounds was conspiring with the
Sans to snatch her room.”

“You’ve heard now,” returned Leila, the twinkle in her eye evident.
“After tonight, oh, how many things we shall be hearing! After the ball
is over we shall be at one, I hope, with the Sanford five. If so, then
the crowd of us ought to be able to work together for a more congenial
condition of affairs at the Hall. The Sans are trying hard to run it and
overrun us. They make it hard for Miss Remson, and it is a shame. If
enough of us stand together for our rights, they will have to respect
them. They won’t like us, but, then, do we admire them?”

“If things turn out tonight as we have planned, the Sans will be raving.
Do you think it is perfectly fair to Miss Dean, Leila?” Vera’s tones
carried a slight anxiety.

“Yes, I do, Midget,” came the instant reply. “She won’t like it,
perhaps. Still it can’t do anything more than make her unpopular with
the Sans. She is that, already, as I happen to know. If she is the girl
I think her, she will simply pay no attention to them. Set your mind
easy. We are doing her a service.”



CHAPTER XVIII.—A DISCOMFITED SAN SOUCIAN.


When, at eight o’clock, Leila Harper knocked on Marjorie’s door, the
vision who opened it brought a gleam of triumph to her bright blue eyes.
Marjorie was wearing the frock of Chinese crêpe and looking her
beautiful, young-girl best in it. The dress was exquisite enough in
itself. Worn by her it seemed invested with fresh beauty. In turn, it
lent to her a certain soft loveliness which no other frock she had ever
possessed had brought out.

“Oh, my stars, what a dream you are, little Miss Dean!” praised Leila,
laughingly adopting a touch of brogue which she used to perfection.
Inwardly she was so delighted she could have squealed for joy. Her
appraising eyes instantly picked Marjorie’s frock as unique.

Veronica, who was talking animatedly to Vera, her escort, as she drew on
her long gloves, looked equally charming in her own way. She was attired
in an imported gown of pleated French chiffon in two shades of silvery
gray. It was banded about the square neck and very short pleated sleeves
with black velvet ribbon on which were embroidered a Persian pattern of
silver stars. The wide black velvet ribbon sash was also thickly
star-studded, as were her black satin slippers.

Jerry, who had gone on with Helen, was wearing a stunning gown of old
gold satin with deeper gold embroideries. Lucy, thanks to Veronica, had
had the severity of her white organdie graduation gown transformed by a
fine white lace overdress which Ronny had fairly forced upon her,
together with a pale green satin sash with fringed ends, a pair of
embroidered white silk stockings and a pair of white satin slippers.
Muriel, who had also gone ahead with her ceremonious escort, was the
true Picture Girl, as Marjorie loved to call her, in a pale lavender
silk net over lavender taffeta. At her belt she wore a huge bunch of
lavender orchids, for which gallant Moretense had sent to New York.

The gymnasium was not far from Wayland Hall, therefore the democratic
element of sophomores who lived there had not favored taking their
freshmen to the dance in automobiles. Leila Harper, Hortense Barlow and
Vera Mason had their own motor cars at Hamilton, in a near-by garage,
but common sense smiled at using them in preference to the short walk
under the twinkling autumn stars.

“Don’t forget your violets, Marjorie,” called Veronica over her
shoulder, as she went out the door. “I’ll wait for you downstairs.
Pardon me, I forgot I was being escorted,” she made laughing apology to
Vera. “We’ll wait for you, I should have said.”

“As if I could forget these darlings!” Marjorie took an immense bunch of
single, long-stemmed violets from a vase of water and wiping them gently
re-rolled the stems in their sheath of silver and violet paper. “They
are my favorite flower,” she told Leila. “They go perfectly with this
frock.” She pinned them securely against her sash with a quaint silver
clasp pin. “There, I won’t be likely to lose them!”

“Would you mind telling a poor Irish girl where under the stars that
gown grew?” Leila had not been able to remove her eyes from it long at a
time.

Marjorie obligingly complied, going further to tell of the happy
surprise which had attended the receipt of it.

“Your father must love you oceans,” Leila said almost sadly. “My father
died when I was three. I have a step-father. He is not so much to my
liking. My mother and he maintain a residence in the United States, but
they are in England most of the time. I live with my father’s sister
when I am home on vacations. She is keen on clubs and welfare work. She
allows me to do as I please. What kind of life is that for a young
girl?” Leila shrugged her white shoulders with true Irish melancholy.
Dressed in a beautiful gown of old rose Georgette with a partial
over-frock of frost-like white lace, she was a magnificent study. The
combination of fine, strong features which went to make up her face,
made it striking rather than beautiful.

Suddenly her brooding features broke into smiling light. “Pay no
attention to me. Let’s be off to the dance. Just a word before we go. I
wish you would feel that I am your true friend. If, when we first met,
you thought me, well—not quite frank, it was because I wished to be sure
that I liked you. That’s all, except, remember what I have just said
about being your friend.”

“I will,” Marjorie promised gravely. “I shall hope always to prove
myself your true friend.” She offered her hand.

Leila took it and shook it vigorously. “Now we have a bargain,” she
said. “Never forget it.”

In the lower hall they found Ronny and Vera Mason waiting, and the four
stopped only long enough to cover their fine raiment, temporarily, with
evening capes. During the short walk through the soft fall night Leila
made them all laugh with her funny sallies. She had apparently lost her
recent pensive mood. Nevertheless at intervals that evening the hopeless
melancholy of her tone came back to Marjorie. She thought Leila must
have been born in Ireland, for she was at times utterly un-American in
her manner of speaking.

The scene of festivity upon which they presently came was one of color
and light. The great room was already well-filled with merry-makers,
each in her prettiest gown. From a corner of the room, screened by palms
and huge branches of red and yellow autumn leaves, an orchestra was
playing a _valse lente_. That the sophs had outdone anything for several
years in the way of artistic decorations was the opinion of the faculty,
present almost to a member. Though they graciously lent their presence
to an affair, such as the freshmen’s frolic, they obligingly left the
dance early, rarely remaining more than an hour.

The San Soucians were well represented in the receiving line, the
majority having been appointed to it by their ally, Joan Myers. Lined
up, they made a gorgeous appearance. The majority of them were attired
in frocks of striking colors and displayed considerable jewelry. Looking
up and down the long row, it seemed to Marjorie that she glimpsed the
white fire of diamonds on every girl that composed it. It struck her as
rather ridiculous that, so long as the Sans Soucians snubbed the
majority of the students, they should wish to be on a committee to
receive the very girls they affected not to know.

“Be easy,” remarked Leila, in a tone which only Ronny, Vera and Marjorie
heard. “We are to run the one-sided gauntlet, it seems. Let us be about
it and have it done. Follow your leader and not too much cordiality.
They have none for us, though they will be sweet on the surface.”

These being the first remarks of the kind Marjorie had heard Leila make,
she glanced at the latter rather searchingly. Leila was not looking at
her. Her eyes were playing up and down the receiving line, a world of
veiled contempt in their blue depths.

As the quartette approached the row of brightly-garbed young women, Joan
Myers, who stood at its head, bent a steady stare upon Marjorie. Next
she turned to the girl on her left and muttered in her ear. The latter
chanced to be Natalie Weyman, resplendent in an apricot satin frock,
with over panels of seed pearls on satin and a garniture of the same at
the very low bodice. The gown was sleeveless, and smacked more of the
stage than of a college frolic. A cluster of peculiar orange and white
orchids trailed across one shoulder. These Marjorie could honestly
admire. Of Natalie’s gown she did not approve.

At sight of Marjorie, Natalie’s face grew dark. Nor did the further
sight of Veronica improve her sulky expression. How she managed to smile
and murmur a few words of welcome she hardly knew. She was literally
seething with jealous rage at the two freshmen. Her eyes did not deceive
her as to the distinction of their frocks. She knew after a first
appraising glance that there were no others in the room to compete with
them. They were the unobtainable so far as money went. They were the
kind of frocks that only proper influence might secure. She forgot her
earlier grudge against Marjorie’s loveliness in jealousy viewing her
later offense.

Piloted by Leila, the quartette made short work of being received by as
chilly a lot of young patronesses as jealousy could furnish. When they
had won clear of the receiving line, Leila indulged in a subdued ripple
of laughter.

“Oh, my heart, but were they not icy?” she inquired, her eyes dancing.
“Vera, did you see Nat Weyman’s face? She used to be jealous of you. Now
she has other trouble to worst.”

“Don’t mind Leila’s outbreak,” Vera turned to Marjorie and Ronny who
were looking eagerly about them, charmed by the animated scene. “She
can’t endure Natalie Weyman, and neither can I. This is not the place to
say such things, but we are not fond of the Sans and we had rather you
knew it. It will help you to understand much that may happen later on.”
Vera colored as she said this. She felt that it would in a measure
mitigate any displeasure that Marjorie in particular might afterward
feel for Leila.

“We do not know much of the Sans Soucians, but we are not in favor of
snobs,” Ronny made steady utterance. She had seen the dark glance
Natalie Weyman had leveled at Marjorie, and quite understood Leila’s
comments. She could also understand why Vera had aroused the vain
sophomore’s jealousy. Vera’s white chiffon frock over pale green
taffeta, made her look like a fairy queen who might have stepped from
the heart of a white flower to attend the frolic.

“We know that. Otherwise you might be escorting yourselves here for all
Vera and I should care,” returned Leila with a genial smile that was
irresistible. “Let us bury them deep, as we say in Kilarney, and have a
good time. I wish you to meet two or three pets of mine among the
seniors. Then off to the dance we shall wend. I tell you now, I am a
fine Irish gentleman when it comes to playing the part at a hop.”

With Leila doing the honors, the two Lookouts had a lively time for the
next half hour. Though the dancing had begun, she insisted upon parading
the three girls from one end of the gymnasium to the other. She appeared
to have a wide acquaintance among the juniors and the seniors.
Consequently Ronny and Marjorie met girls they had seen on the campus,
but whom as upper class young women they had hardly hoped to meet.

When they finally joined in the dancing, which both had been longing to
do, they were soon besieged with invitations. It was such a complete
surprise to both, which they refused mentally to stop and think about
it, preferring to drift comfortably along on the tide of youthful
enjoyment. It was an hour after their arrival before they had an
opportunity to talk with Jerry, Lucy and Muriel. All three had been
enjoying themselves hugely. Lucy had had an interesting, though short,
talk with Professor Wenderblatt, the director of the biology department,
whose daughter, Lillian, was a freshman. She had met them both through
Katherine. The latter and herself were now rejoicing in an invitation to
dinner at the Wenderblatts on the following Sunday.

Jerry, according to her own enthusiastic version, was simply falling all
over herself with happiness. Helen was the “Prince of Hamilton” when it
came to playing escort. Muriel was no less pleased. She gigglingly
confided to her chums that Moretense was considerably less tense when
she danced than she had expected to find her.

The delightful evening had winged its way toward eleven o’clock when,
after a spirited fox trot, the bell in the gymnasium clanged out the
five strokes which stood for “attention” at Hamilton. Instant with the
last stroke, a breathless silence fell. It was broken by a high-pitched
call from one side of the gymnasium. From an ante room a figure in a
page’s costume of hunter’s green darted out and ran to the center of the
floor. Trumpet to her lips, the sophomore page played a lively little
rondelay. It was answered from the ante room on the oppo-side and
another page, similarly clad, joined the first. Another fanfare of
trumpets and three figures in dark brown robes with immense snow-white
wigs appeared from the left-hand ante-room.

“Hear ye! Hear ye! Comes now a friende to Beautye brighte. An ye are
fair, O, maid, the Beautye crowne shall win ye! Mayhap, mayhap! An ye
are fair!”

The voice of the central be-wigged figure echoed through the room. The
owner was a senior who sang bass in the Idlehour Glee Club, hence the
robust tones.

“What is it to be? I don’t understand,” was whispered about the room.



CHAPTER XIX.—THE GIFTE OF BEAUTYE.


“Oh, I know what this is going to be,” Helen Trent informed Jerry under
her breath. “It’s an old Celtic beauty contest. Away back in the history
of the Celts, they set aside one day in the year for games and contests.
Just at sunset came the beauty contest. The Brown Judges, there are
always three, who were in charge of all ethical matters, for the Celts
had their own ideas about ethics, came down from their writing in the
court tower and made this proclamation. All the pretty girls and women
in the village would enter it. The judges would take their places on the
fiddler’s platform and the beauty line had to pass them three times in
slow succession. As they knew everyone in their village, I suppose it
wasn’t very hard for them to pick the winner! She was accorded
thereupon,” Helen quoted from memory, “‘the acclamation of her people,
and, added to the joy of knowledge of Beauty, a silver purse, containing
three heavy gold pieces, together with a solemn adjuration to do well,
breed no vanity of the mind and say a prayer of thankfulness at even for
the gift of Beauty, by the grace of God.’”

“How pretty,” Jerry said softly. “Well, if this is a beauty contest, I
hope the judges won’t be partial. I know whom I think ought to win it.”

“You mean Marjorie?” Helen asked guardedly. “I think so too. Now listen
to this charge to the contestants. I know it pretty well. Leila Harper
let me take a book on the Celts. She brought it with her from Ireland.
She was born in Dublin and came to this country when she was twelve. She
is at the bottom of this and I know why. The clever maneuverer that she
is!” Helen laughed, then her face suddenly sobered. She glanced
anxiously at Marjorie, who stood not far away, her brown eyes riveted on
the three judges. The conditions of the contest were about to be laid
down by one of them.

“One makes this charge to winsome maids, not all may win the crowne! All
ye who are to Beautye bent have had the assurance long. No mirrore
’flects a fairness back there be no fairenesse there. The twisted eye,
the fanged tooth, the loose-lippede mouth, the mottlede skin, the
unclassike nose, the sharpenede chin are not of Beautye’s kin. Beare
this in mind and venture not ’fore the Judges’ critike heighte an ye are
cursede with these. Now not too talle, nor yet too lowe; e’re be ye
passinge faire. The heighte of man, five feete and nine, is not our
favore gainede. Nor is the midge of four feete teyne, more than the
olde, olde childe. Of grace we thinke on heavilye and note the free
lighte step, the slendyre carriage of the budding flower, whiche she of
grace does have. Of frank sweete looke, yet not so bolde, we rank as
beautied worth. No countenance is perfecte yet when guile lurkes backe
its eyese. So shalle ye rate yourselvese in mind upon our honeste scale,
spokyne in hones klaryte to save the injuryede feeling of the sex, and
we who judge ye much of vexede delaye and crude annoye. Beare last of
all this sacrede truthe, goode Beautye needs no artifyce. The cosmetykes
of cheatynge maides are instante knowne to use to be abhorrede.”

With this pointed laying down of entrance conditions to the contest, His
Honor, the center judge, and the tallest of the three, fell back a
little, to allow his companion on the left to speak. With a dramatic
wave of the arms he began:

“Upon yon heighte we now shalle stand to sighte ye as ye passe.” A
second sweep of the arm designated a small platform profusely decorated
in hunter’s green, the freshman class color, and old gold, that of the
sophomore class. It stood near the big Japanese lemonade bowl and had
excited considerable curiosity during the evening, as no one seemed to
know its purpose.

The third judge, who had thus far been silent, now called out in a
veritable town-crier voice: “Heede ye! Heede ye! Beautye waites her
worthynge. Lyne ye single fylinge. Passe ye once before us! Passe ye
twice before us! Passe ye thryce before us! Walke ye to slowe measure.”

Having delivered himself of these succinct directions, the speaker
joined his companions in bowing low to the enthralled assemblage.
Whereupon, all three turned and strode majestically toward the fateful
platform. Luckily the builders of the stand had not forgotten to place
two makeshift steps of soap boxes, carpeted in green. The august judges
had also been cautioned beforehand to tread upon them lightly or run a
chance of disgracing their high and mighty personages by an ignominious
tumble.

While they were disposing themselves on the platform with as much
dignity as a wary ascent would allow, their hearers were fascinatedly
considering the proclamation. Hardly a young girl who does not take a
pardonable interest in a beauty contest. While she may be honestly sure
that she would never be chosen the winner, she has a secret desire to
enter it simply because she is a young girl.

From all parts of the gymnasium a subdued murmur of voices now arose,
mingled with much soft laughter. Thus far the proclamation was too new
to court action. Besides, it took temerity, after hearing the
conditions, to walk boldly forth, an aspirant for beauty honors. Finally
a knot of juniors, who had been loitering near the Judges’ stand
exchanging pleasantries with the brown-robed critics, obeyed a
mischievous impulse to start the ball rolling. Forming into line, these
six, none of whom had a claim to more than fairly good looks, marched
solemnly out onto the floor and approached the stand at an exaggeratedly
slow walk. A shout of mirth arose, which they acknowledged with wide
smiles. The ice was broken, however, and the line began to grow
amazingly. At each end of the room, the two pages had now taken up their
station in order to direct the progress of the beauty line.

“Catch me joining that line,” declared Jerry. “I know just how beautiful
I am without any opinions from those three old wigs.”

“You goose!” exclaimed Helen, in an undertone. “Come on. There’s Muriel
just going into line with Miss Barlow.” She giggled at the idea of stiff
Moretense courting beauty honors. “If Marjorie sees all of us in it she
will join, too. Otherwise she will stay out of it, and Veronica along
with her. Either one of them are positively stunning types. Only I would
vote for Marjorie. She really is the prettiest girl I ever saw. Why, on
the campus now, the really worth-while girls rave over her.”

“Maybe the judges won’t see it that way,” deprecated Jerry. “Do you know
them?”

“Yes, I do. They are all right. Leila picked them and she is always
fair. I told you this was her work. Now come on.” Helen slipped an arm
into Jerry’s and towed her, unresisting, into the long line that was now
moving decorously around the gymnasium. Needless to say, the Sans had
joined it. Even Lola Elster, accompanied by Leslie Cairns, had swaggered
into line. Both had arrived late, attired in expensive, but somewhat
flashy fall sports suits and hats. Neither removed her hat when dancing,
a proceeding which many of the juniors and seniors present regarded with
no leniency. The Sans appeared to consider this rude ignoring of
convention a huge joke. Lola Elster’s impudent face bespoke her
satisfaction in having thus defied the canons of good taste.

By the time the entire procession had passed the judges’ stand once,
fully two-thirds of the company had joined it. Marjorie had been among
the last to do so. Even then she would have preferred to stay out of the
contest, had not Leila insisted that she must take part in it, pointing
out to her Jerry, Muriel, and greatly to her surprise, Ronny, among the
aspirants.

“It is only for fun, modest child,” argued Leila, in her most persuasive
tones. She had foreseen this very snag in the way of her plan. Already
the line had passed the stand for the second time. “Ah, come on!” she
implored, catching Marjorie by the hand.

With a half sigh of reluctance, Marjorie yielded. Next second, Leila was
hurrying her across the lower end of the room where the last of the
procession was just rounding a corner. At least a third of the guests
had elected to stay out of the contest. From different points of the
gymnasium arose an energetic clapping of hands as Marjorie and Leila
caught up with the line. Leila chuckled under her breath. Marjorie’s
reluctance had only served to strengthen her chances for winning. Leila
knew that the judges’ decision could not be attacked. She had been
careful to select three seniors whose word was law at Hamilton. If they
pronounced Marjorie Dean the most beautiful girl present, then,
undoubtedly, she was.

As for Marjorie, she felt her face flame until it seemed to her that it
must be bright vermilion. She experienced a momentary desire to upbraid
Leila for thus bringing her into such undesired notice. She had not
realized how conspicuous their cutting across the corner had made them
until the applause had begun. Walking ahead of Leila, she was so
chagrined at her own stupidity that she moved along mechanically, hardly
cognizant of what was happening.

It seemed a long time to her before the line completed its third tour of
the room. Came an echoing order from one of the judges to halt and the
contestants obeyed with admirable alacrity. Part of them were viewing
the beauty judges with smiles, perfectly content in knowing they would
not be chosen. To a number, however, the contest had taken on a serious
aspect. Two very pretty freshmen, pets of the Sans, stood looking at the
judges as though determined to force their approval. Among the Sans
Soucians there was an element of alertness that pointed to a smug belief
in their claim to beauty.

Of the contestant, none was more concerned in the decision than Natalie
Weyman. For a whole college year she had been acclaimed as the Hamilton
College beauty. While considerable of this reputation had been built up
for her by the Sans, it had gained ground, for one reason or another.
She had taken care to live up to it, spending time and money in the
cause of her personal adornment. Now, after having fought hard for it,
she did not propose to relinquish it. She was inwardly furious over the
contest. There were half a dozen girls whom she feared, all looking
radiantly lovely. Vera Mason had never looked prettier. Martha Merrick
was simply stunning in that maize tissue gown. More than once that
evening Natalie had watched Muriel with a frown. But those other two
hateful girls! Her envy had been thoroughly aroused by Marjorie’s and
Ronny’s gowns. Her jealousy was rampant because of the beauty of their
wearers. Though nothing could have forced from her the truth, she knew
that the palm belonged to Marjorie.

Standing a little in front of a group of her friends, where she might be
plainly seen by the judges, she assumed an attitude in which a portrait
painter had posed her for a portrait the previous winter. Having slyly
loosened one of the orchids from the cluster she was wearing, she began
picking it to pieces, her head slightly bent. Falling into the pose with
consummate art of the practiced deceiver, she really made an attractive
study.

Marjorie and Leila had halted almost the length of the gymnasium from
Natalie, to Leila’s inward vexation. She had hoped to see the two
brought close together. She was sternly determined to see the false
colors stripped from Natalie Weyman, whom she despised for a just reason
which no one but herself knew.

“Let us have faith that the judges have good eyesight,” she muttered, as
the judge who had delivered the charge to “Beautye brighte” held up a
brown-winged arm for silence.

If the single gesture had been a wizard’s charm, it could hardly have
taken effect more quickly. A hush, almost painful, ensued. The roll of
the spokesman’s announcing tones fairly jarred the absolute stillness.

“Upon our queste of Beautye brighte, we have not soughte in vaine. So
manye maides of faire young pryde make hard the chosynge then. Nor had
the taske been done e’en yet, walkyede Beautye not amongst ye. On
Mystresse Marjorie, of the Deans, our critike favor falles. Beautye has
she to bless the eye and satisfye the heart.”

A murmur of acclamation began with the announcement of Marjorie’s name.
It increased in volume until it drowned the judge’s speech. “Delighted,”
that dignitary managed to shout so as to be heard, and, with a profound
bow, waited for the noise to subside.

Standing beside Leila, who was applauding vigorously, a positive
Cheshire-cat grin on her usually indifferent face, Marjorie fervently
wished that she might suddenly drop through the floor. Her embarrassment
was so great that she hardly knew in which direction to look or what to
do. When quiet again descended the judge went on with the rest of a very
complimentary speech. It ended in a summons to come to the stand and be
acclaimed Beautye and receive Beautye’s guerdon.

At this Marjorie absolutely balked. Neither could Leila nor several
other students, who had gathered round her, persuade her to go forward.
It ended by a flushed and half indignant Beautye being forcibly marched
up to the stand by a crowd of laughing girls. The guerdon was an immense
bunch of long-stemmed American Beauty roses. Marjorie made a
never-to-be-forgotten picture, as surrounded by her body guard, she
stood with her arms full of roses and listened to the quaint adjuration
to Beautye.

Unbidden tears crowded to her eyes as the judge ended with fine dramatic
expression: “Brede ye, therefore sweete maids, no vanitye of the mind,
but, say ye raythere, at even, a prayer of thankfulnesse for the gifte
of Beautye, by the grace of God.” The emotional side of her nature
touched by the fineness of the sentiment, she forgot herself as its
object.

A group of Silverton Hall girls, headed by Portia Graham and Robin Page,
gathered to offer their warm congratulations. Entirely against her will,
Marjorie Dean, Hamilton College freshman, had been accorded an honor
which she had neither expected nor desired.



CHAPTER XX.—LIVING UP TO TRADITION.


To be ignored on one’s arrival at Hamilton and in less than six weeks to
be acclaimed the college beauty seemed the very irony of fate to
Marjorie. The week following the freshman frolic was a hard one for her.
Used to going unostentatiously about with her chums, she now found
herself continually in the limelight. Whenever she appeared on the
campus she had the uncomfortable feeling that every movement of hers was
being watched.

“You may thank your stars that you are at college where the newspapers
aren’t allowed to trespass,” Ronny had laughingly assured her when she
complained. Nevertheless she was far from pleased when a prominent
illustrator wrote her a polite note asking permission to make sketches
of her. Worse still, she received later a letter from a New York
theatrical manager offering her an engagement in a musical comedy he was
about to launch. How either man had come into knowledge of her name she
could not imagine.

While she had been deeply annoyed at the artist’s note, she grew angry
at the temerity of the theatrical manager and promptly tore the letter
into shreds. How she wished that she had never allowed herself to be
dragged into that foolish beauty contest. Afterward Leila had candidly
owned to Marjorie her part in the affair. While Marjorie had been
obliged to laugh at the Irish girl’s clever move against the Sans, she
had wondered whether she really liked Leila. Instead of being pleased
over her triumph, she was distinctly put out about it.

“I never saw you so near to being really downright cross as you’ve been
since that old beauty contest,” observed Jerry one afternoon in late
October, as Marjorie entered the room, a frown between her brows, a
tired droop to her pretty mouth.

“I _feel_ like being downright cross,” emphasized Marjorie, accompanying
the last three words with three energetic slams of her book on chemistry
on the table. “I wish this popularity business were in Kamchatka. I
thought I would like to take a walk around the campus today, all by
myself, and think about what I would write this evening. I have to write
a theme for poetics to be handed in tomorrow morning. I wasn’t allowed a
minute to myself. There are some awfully nice girls here, but I wasn’t
anxious for company today. I haven’t the least idea what I shall write
and I wanted to save time by choosing my subject this afternoon.”

“Go and ask Ronny for a subject,” calmly advised Jerry. “She loves
poems, poets and poetics in general. She is in her room writing to her
father. She fired me out, but you may have better luck. She may have
finished writing. It seems a long while since she inhospitably requested
me to make myself scarce. My, but you are sympathetic!” Marjorie was
already half way through the door, regardless of Jerry’s plaint.

“Come in,” called Ronny, in response to Marjorie’s two measured raps.
“Oh, Marjorie, I was just coming to see you. I have a piece of news for
you.”

“Come along,” invited Marjorie, “but first give me a subject for a theme
for poetics. I need one in a hurry. Jerry said you were authority on the
subject.”

“I am amazed at her charity,” chuckled Ronny, “after the way I shooed
her away from my door.”

“She mentioned it,” returned Marjorie significantly, whereupon both
girls laughed.

“Let me see,” pondered Ronny. “Why don’t you write on the genius Poe as
above that of any other American poet? Illustrate by quoting from other
poets and then comparing the excerpts with his work. Read his essay on
poetry tonight before you begin to write. It will give you inspiration.
I brought a five volume set of Poe from home. Here’s the volume
containing the essay you need.”

Ronny took from a near-by book-case the desired volume and handed it to
Marjorie.

“Thank you.” Marjorie accepted it gratefully. “I believe I _can_ write a
fairly good theme on that subject. I have always admired Poe’s work.”

“I adore his memory,” asserted Veronica solemnly. “I have read every
scrap I could find concerning him. He ranked next to Shakespeare in
genius. I know he was an earnest worker and a good man. I am sure that
he was not a drunkard, but a terribly maligned genius. He was purposely
kept down through jealousy and had to sell the products of his genius
for a copper. He suffered terribly, but I imagine he had the inner
happiness of knowing that not one brilliant emanation of his master mind
could be snatched from him by the unworthy.”

Veronica’s gray eyes flashed in sympathy for the misunderstood man whose
transcendental genius made him an outlander among the writers of his
period.

“Again I thank you. This time for your lecture.” Marjorie bobbed up and
down twice in quick succession. “I’ll try to put some of it into my
theme. Now for my room, and the news.”

Jerry pretended not to see Ronny until she was well inside the room. She
then rose up, and, in a purposely gruff voice, ordered her out. Needless
to say, Ronny was not to be intimidated.

“No, Jeremiah, I shall not budge an inch. Here you sit doing nothing.
Why shouldn’t I come in and sit on Marjorie’s side of the room? I have
news to impart—n-e-w-s,” spelled Ronny.

At this Jerry pricked up her ears and became suddenly affable.

“I heard today,” began Ronny impressively, “that there will be a basket
ball try-out next Friday afternoon in the gym, at four-thirty.”

“That’s cheering news!” Marjorie’s sober features lightened. “Where did
you hear it, Ronny?”

“Miss Page told me. The notices will appear in a day or two. She played
on a team all the time she was at Wildreth, a prep school she was
graduated from. Naturally she is anxious to make the team this year.”

“I’d like to play,” Marjorie said wistfully. “I suppose I won’t stand
much chance among so many, though.”

“Well, you won the Beauty contest,” cited Jerry wickedly. “That was a
case of one in a multitude.”

Marjorie rose and going over to where Jerry sat, waved her book
menacingly over her room-mate’s head. “Dare to say another word about
that hateful old contest and I’ll disown you,” she threatened. “I want
to forget all about it, if I can. Basket ball is different, thank
goodness. If I make the freshman team, I have actually achieved
something.”

“I hope you make it.” Jerry spoke with a sudden sincerity arising from
her devotion to Marjorie. “Muriel will try for it. Moretense is too
tense to make a startling player. Shall you try for it, Ronny?”

“No, indeed,” Ronny answered. “You and Lucy and I will be fans. I am not
very partial to basket ball unless the game happens to move fast. Then I
grow interested. Miss Page says the seniors are managing the sports.
They usually do. A senior told her of the try-out.”

“Did Miss Page say anything else about it?” quizzed Jerry.

“No; she heard only that. She said she thought the sports committee were
purposely keeping back the information. The senior who told her
overheard the two of the committee talking to Miss Reid, the physical
instructor. She happened to be in the gymnasium at the time. She was not
asked to keep it secret, so she felt at liberty to mention it to me.”

Jerry regarded Ronny in silence for a moment. “This college makes me
weary,” she burst out in an impatient voice. “There are too many
undercurrents here. Why should the sports committee keep back
information about basket ball? To suit their own pleasure, of course.
Very likely they are banded into a clique like those silly Sans
Soucians. If it happens to be the same kind of clique, then look out for
trouble at the try-out.”

“Perhaps they have a good reason for not giving out the information
until a certain time,” argued Ronny. “Maybe they don’t approve of the
Sans. As seniors, they should be on the heights, so far as college
ethics are concerned.”

“I trust they are,” Jerry returned, in a prim voice, rolling her eyes at
Ronny. “Just the same, I doubt it. I’ll tell you more about ’em after
the try-out. They’ll have to show me.”

It was on Monday that Ronny heard of the try-out. Not until Thursday
afternoon did the notices of it appear on the various bulletin boards.
Their advent led to a certain amount of jubilation on the part of those
freshmen who were fond of the game. When, at four-thirty, the next
afternoon, the committee appeared in company with Miss Reid, they found
at least thirty-five of the freshman class as aspirants to the team. A
part of the unaspiring members had come to look on. There was also a
large percentage of sophomores on the scene. Outside the committee there
was only a sprinkling of juniors and seniors.

Marjorie and Muriel had put on their gymnasium suits at the Hall and had
arrived at the gymnasium shortly after four o’clock. Jerry, Ronny and
Lucy did not appear until almost half-past four. They were accompanied
by Vera Mason, Nella Sherman and Leila Harper. In the meantime Marjorie
and Muriel had been watching, with some longing, a number of freshmen
who were out on the floor practicing with the ball. Prominent among them
was Lola Elster, who seemed to know the game, or thought she did, better
than her companion player. She was quite in her element, and was issuing
frequent orders, in a rather shrill voice, as she darted about in
pursuit of the ball. The “pick-up” squad with whom she was playing
appeared to be completely under her domination.

“I don’t care to make a team that Miss Elster is on,” Muriel confided to
Marjorie in a disgusted tone. “She is altogether too fond of her own
playing. Besides, she is inclined to be tricky and I wouldn’t trust her.
She’d elbow her best friend out of the way if they were both after the
ball.”

“Those girls seem to like her,” commented Marjorie. “I should say none
of them were very good players. It is conceited, perhaps, to say that we
know the game better than they, but if that is a sample of their work,
we are stars compared with them. They couldn’t make more than a scrub
team at Sanford High.”

“I know it,” agreed Muriel. “They aren’t quick enough. That’s their
greatest trouble.” Glancing from the players to the audience, who stood
in groups about the room, she exclaimed: “There are the girls! Let’s go
over and see them.”

“Only for a minute,” Marjorie stipulated. “This affair is going to begin
soon.”

They had no more than exchanged a few words with their chums when the
bell rang for a clear floor. Incidental with it the senior manager of
basket ball interests stepped forward to make the usual announcements
for the try-out and lay down the conditions which the players must
observe. Those wishing to try for a place on the regular freshman team
were then requested to come forward on the floor. About thirty-five
girls responded and enough of them to make two squads were selected.
These were ordered to the floor for a twenty-minutes’ test. Their work
was carefully noted by Miss Reid, three seniors, including the manager,
and a Mr. Fulton, a professional coach.

Altogether, four sets of players were tried out. Several of the freshmen
who had worked on the first squads did duty again. Among these was Lola
Elster. It was among the third round of players that Marjorie and Muriel
appeared, and only half-heartedly at that. Both felt the utter futility
of trying for the team, after they had looked on for a little. They did
not like the methods of either the coach or Miss Reid. Neither were
expert in proper knowledge of the game. Worse, their sympathies were
plainly with Miss Elster, who, when not on the floor, stood between
them, talking animatedly, now indicating one or another of the players,
or expressing an opinion to which both agreed by nodding affably.

Both Lookouts made a conscientious effort to play their best, but their
team-mates were fit only for scrub players. The result was the slowest
twenty-minutes’ work that either ever remembered. Try as they might,
they could not overcome the disadvantage under which they were laboring.
Hardest of all was the knowledge that they could make a good showing if
they but had the opportunity.

When their time was up both gladly hurried from the floor to where their
group of friends awaited them. The expressions of the five girls varied
only in the degree of contempt each registered for what they had just
witnessed.

“Why didn’t you wait to see whether you made the team?” inquired Jerry
with gentle sarcasm.

“A-h-h-h!” was Muriel’s reply, expressive of her feelings.

“We couldn’t make that team in a century.” Marjorie was smiling a
whimsical little smile which contained no bitterness.

“I guess not. You might as well have played for twenty minutes with a
bunch of nine-pins. Anyway, you were dead before you ever set foot on
the floor. That Miss Elster has the coach, Miss Reid and several others
right on her side. This is the Sans inning, n’est ce pas? Uh-huh! No
mistake about it.” Jerry bowed and smirked as she carried on this bit of
conversation with herself.

“Cast an eye upon the Sans just now,” Leila said scornfully. “Are they
not pleased with themselves? Do you think they would have let you or
Muriel make that team? Not so long as they could influence those in
charge. The seniors are not to blame. They kept the date of the try-out
to themselves until the last to prevent the Sans from fixing things for
their freshman friends. It did small good.” Leila shrugged her
shoulders.

“They shouldn’t be allowed to run things,” Jerry asserted stoutly. “The
trouble is everyone stands back and allows them to take the lead. Their
cast-iron nerve is what helps them out. Besides they are an unscrupulous
lot. They boast that they are the daughters of millionaires. Well, the
rest of us are not paupers. Only we are above trading upon our folks’
money as a means of influence. That is ignoble and should be stamped out
of Hamilton.”

“It never will be unless we all work together for a new spirit of
democracy,” broke in Ronny’s resolute tones. “We must establish it in
our class regardless of these unfair sophomores and their false notions,
so detrimental to nobility of character.”

“Unfair indeed.” Leila smiled wryly. “Vera and I know. You should have
seen us last year. We had a disagreeable freshman cruise, thanks to the
Sans. They thought for a short time that we were perhaps poor. We found
it out and let them think so to their hearts’ content. You should have
seen their scorn of us. At Thanksgiving we had our cars sent on to us.
Then they were in a quandary! We were not poor, so it seemed, but how
wealthy were we? They never found out. They tried so hard.”

A blast of the manager’s whistle signalled attention. The names of the
successful contestants were about to be read out by the coach. Lola
Elster had been awarded center. Two of her particular friends had won
right and left guard. Robin Page had achieved right forward. At this,
none watching wondered. She had played in the first squads and done good
work. Left forward fell to a Miss Burton, a freshman Dulcie Vale had
been rushing and whom she had escorted to the frolic.

“I am glad it is over. I am not sorry I tried for a place on the team,”
soliloquized Marjorie aloud. “Neither Muriel nor I had a fair chance. I
was hurt and disappointed for a minute or so after I saw the way things
were going. I am not now. I shall wait until next year,” she announced,
in a calm, determined voice, “then I shall make the team. That means we
will all have to work together to bring about a happier state of affairs
at Hamilton. None of us can be free or happy with this shadow hanging
over us. There can be no true class spirit unless we base it on the
traditions which Mr. Brooke Hamilton wished observed by the students of
Hamilton College.”



CHAPTER XXI.—ON THE EVE OF THE GAME.


Following the basket ball try-out, which the Sanford five agreed was the
tamest attempt at playing basket ball that they had ever witnessed,
little of moment befell them as the days slipped by and the Thanksgiving
holiday drew near. As they would have four days’ vacation, all were
determined on spending them in Sanford. Ronny was going to Miss
Archer’s, as she had promised her God-mother this holiday before leaving
for college.

Lucy Warner was the only one of the Five Travelers who intended to
remain at Hamilton during the holiday. She had flatly refused to allow
Ronny to defray her expense home.

“There is no use in my going home. I would not see Mother except for a
very short time. She is nursing a fever patient and won’t be able to
leave her for at least three weeks. Yes, I know I could be with you
girls. I’d love to, but Katherine has no place to go. I might better
stay here with her. I am going home for Christmas and she has promised
to spend those holidays with me.” This was Lucy’s view of the matter.

The day of their departure for home was typical Thanksgiving weather,
fairly cold, and marked by snow flurries. If the trip to Hamilton had
seemed long, the journey home was longer. With all four impatiently
counting the miles between Hamilton and Sanford, time dragged. Their
train having left Hamilton at eleven o’clock that morning, it was after
dark when it pulled into Sanford. A fond company of home folks were on
the station platform to greet the travelers, who for the first time
since leaving for college, separated, to go in different directions.

Marjorie thought the most beautiful sight she had ever looked upon were
the lights of her own dear home. Encircled by her captain’s arm, they
blinked her a mellow, cheery welcome as the automobile sped up the
drive. She never forgot the wondrous happiness she experienced in
returning to her father and mother after her first long absence from
them.

It was after dark on the Sunday evening following Thanksgiving when four
of the Five Travelers alighted from the train at Hamilton station. Tired
though she was, and a little sad, Marjorie thrilled with an odd kind of
patriotism as the lights of the campus houses twinkled on her horizon.
There was, after all, a certain vague joy in having returned to college.

Ronny, Jerry and Muriel all agreed with her in this, as the Lookouts
gathered in hers and Jerry’s room after Sunday night supper to tell Lucy
the news of home. Mrs. Warner had called at the Deans on Saturday and
intrusted a letter and package to Marjorie for Lucy. The package, when
opened, revealed a pretty knitted sweater and cap in a warm shade of
blue. Lucy’s mother had knitted them during intervals while her patient
slept.

“How have things been here?” queried Jerry, after the admiring comments
relative to Lucy’s cap and sweater had subsided.

“It has been so blissfully quiet,” sighed Lucy. “There were only five
girls here over Thanksgiving. Miss Remson says she has experienced a
spell of heavenly calm. We had a fine Thanksgiving dinner. Two of Miss
Remson’s nephews were here for the day. They brought their violins and
Miss Remson plays well on the piano. We had music Thanksgiving evening.
Friday evening we were both invited to Professor Wenderblatt’s home. Mr.
Henry Arthur Bradburn, a friend of his, who has made a number of Arctic
journeys is visiting him. There were about twenty-five guests. You can
imagine how proud Kathie and I were. Lillian came over on Friday morning
and invited us.”

“You may go to the head of the class,” commented Jerry. “You’re
graduated from the stay-in-your-shell period. I never before heard of
such a sudden and unparalleled blossoming into the high-brows’ garden.”

The Five Travelers lingered to talk that evening until the last minute
before the ten-thirty bell rang. The next day was not characterized by
particularly brilliant recitations on the part of any of the returned
students.

On the third day of December notices appeared on the bulletin board
announcing the first basket ball game of the season. The sophomores had
challenged the freshmen to meet them on the second Saturday in the
month, which fell on the fourteenth. The sophomore team was composed
entirely of Sans Soucians. Natalie Weyman, Dulcie Vale, Joan Myers,
Adelaide Forman and Evangeline Heppler were the select five who were to
wrestle with the freshmen for the ball.

“Can they play basket ball?” was Muriel Harding’s pertinent question put
to her room-mate, Miss Barlow, who had just finished naming the players
on the sophomore team. The two girls had met outside Hamilton Hall and
stopped as was their wont to consult the main bulletin board.

“They are fairly fast players, but,” Miss Barlow’s eyebrows went up,
“they are so tricky. They composed the freshman team, last year.
Gratifying, isn’t it, to be able to head basket ball two years in
succession?” The question was freighted with sarcasm.

“Very,” returned Muriel, inwardly amazed at this new attitude on the
part of her reserved room-mate. It was the first time Moretense had ever
grown personal in regard to any of the students.

“I am positive the juniors won’t play them this year,” Hortense
continued. “They had enough of them last. Really, the umpire nearly wore
herself out shrieking ‘foul’ during that game. My word, but they worked
hard—cheating. It did them not a particle of good. They lost by ten
points.”

“Do you like basket ball?” Muriel was further astonished at her
companion’s apparent interest in the sport.

“Yes, I do, when it is well and fairly played. I have never yet seen a
really clever game played at Hamilton.”

Similar information drifted to the Lookouts concerning the sophomores’
work at basket ball, during the few days that preceded the game. Far
from the usual amount of enthusiasm which attends this sport was
exhibited by the upper class students. The freshmen, however, were duly
excited over it. While many of them had disapproved the partiality shown
at the try-out, they could only hope that the freshman team would rally
to their work on the day of the game and vanquish the sophs. The team
was practicing assiduously. That was a good sign. The sophomores were
not nearly so faithful at practice.

“If ‘our crowd’ can play even half as well as the scrub teams could at
Sanford High they can whip this aggregation of geese, Robin Page
excepted,” Jerry asserted scornfully to her chums on the evening before
the game. The next day’s recitations hastily prepared, the Lookouts had
gathered in Ronny’s room for a spread.

“I feel sorry for Miss Page,” remarked Ronny, without lifting her eyes
from their watch on the chafing dish in which the chocolate had begun to
bubble.

“So do I. I told her so yesterday,” confessed Muriel. “I met her in the
library and we had quite a long talk. She said she would have resigned
after the first day of practice, but she felt that it would be cowardly.
She knows the game as it should be played, but the other four girls are
quite shaky on some points of it and they won’t let her correct them
when they make really glaring mistakes. She tried it twice. Both times
she just escaped quarreling with them. So she quit.”

“I think she is so plucky to stay on the team under such circumstances.”
Marjorie looked up from her sandwich-making labors, her face full of
honest admiration for Robin. “She is such a delightful girl, isn’t she?”

“She makes me think of a small boy,” was Jerry’s comparison. “Tell you
something else about her when I get this tiresome bottle of olives
opened. If I don’t extract the treacherous old cork very gently, I’m due
to hand myself a quarter of a bottle of brine in the eyes or in my lap
or wherever it may happen to land. There!” She triumphantly drew forth
the stubborn cork without accident. “Now about Robin Page. She asked me
to ask you girls to go to the game with the Silverton Hall crowd. Then
she wants us to be her guests at dinner at the Hall and spend the
evening with her and her pals. I’ve accepted for us all, so make your
plans accordingly.”

“I’ve already asked Moretense to go to the game with us.” Muriel looked
briefly perplexed. “I don’t think anyone will care if I ask her to go
with us to meet the Silverton Hall girls. I can’t go with you folks to
dinner, for my estimable room-mate has invited me to the Colonial and
engaged a table ahead. I am to meet Miss Angier and Miss Thompson,
juniors and friends of hers.”

“When did you make all these dates and right over our heads?” Jerry
quizzed, trying to appear offended and failing utterly.

“Oh, the other day,” returned Muriel lightly. “It shows you that I am
well thought of, too, in high-brow circles.” She cast a sly glance
toward Lucy. The latter was happily engaged in cutting generous slices
from a fruit cake which had come by express that day. Mrs. Warner had
made it early in the fall and had put it away to season. It had arrived
at an opportune time, and Lucy had gladly contributed to the feast.

She chuckled softly over Muriel’s good-natured thrust, but made no
reply. It was her chief pleasure to listen to her chums, rather than
talk. While she had expanded wonderfully as a result of association with
a fun-loving, talkative quartette of girls who had taken pains to draw
her out, she still had spells of the old reserve. She was gradually
growing used to the gay badinage, which went on constantly among her
chums, and on rare occasions would convulse them by some dry remark of
her own.

While the Five Travelers were preparing their little feast in the utmost
good fellowship, in a room two doors farther up the hall five other
girls sat around a festal table, arguing in an anything but equable
manner. Four of them were members of the sophomore team. The fifth was
Leslie Cairns.

“It’s not fair to the kid if you girls don’t give her a chance to win.”
Leslie Cairns’ shaggy eyebrows met in a ferocious scowl. “Don’t be
stingy. You won enough games last year. Have a heart!”

“Honestly, Les, you talk like an idiot!” exclaimed Natalie Weyman
impatiently. “You have a crush, and no mistake, on that little Elster
simpleton. I don’t care whether you like what I say or not. You think
she is a scream because she behaves more like a jockey than a student. I
think she is so silly. You will get tired of her swaggering ways before
long. See if you don’t.”

“She’s a game little kid, and I like her,” flung back Leslie with
belligerent emphasis. “Why did you put me to all the trouble to fix
things so that she could make the team if you didn’t intend to give her
a showing. That cost me time and money.” Her voice rose harshly on the
last words.

“Shh!” Dulcie Vale held up a warning finger. “You are almost shouting,
Les. Lower your voice.”

“I should _say_ so.” Natalie Weyman’s face was a disagreeable study.
Before the arrival of Lola Elster at Hamilton, she and Leslie had been
intimate friends. Now Leslie had in a measure deserted her for the bold
little freshman she so detested.

“Beg your pardon.” Leslie’s tones dropped back to their usual drawl.
“Sorry you girls have decided you must break the record tomorrow. Why so
strenuous? You haven’t Beauty and her gang to fight. They haven’t had
even a look-in. I hear they are really _players_, too. The trouble with
you, Nat, is you are two-faced. You pretended that you were anxious for
Lola to make the team because you thought she would make a fine record
for herself on the floor. You said her pals ought to be on the team,
too. So they are, the three of them. I worked that. Now you didn’t say
that you wanted these three freshmen on the team so as to keep those
Sanford upstarts off. I caught that, too, and fixed it. I didn’t mind. I
can’t see them. What you wanted was a crowd of freshmen your team could
whip easily.”

“That is absolutely ridiculous and unkind in you, Leslie!” Natalie’s
face was scarlet. “How could I possibly know beforehand just how well
the freshmen we—that is—you——” Natalie stammered, then stopped.

Leslie Cairns’ upper lip drew back in a sneering smile. “How could you
know? Well, you dragged them over to the gym and set them at work with
the ball. This was before the try-out. What? You took good care not to
ask me along that day. Joan is as deep in it as you are. Then you came
back puffing about what wonderful players these kids were and so forth.
Would I fix it for them. I did. The day of the try-out I was pretty
sore. You can’t fool me on a basket ball. They are not much more than
scrubs; except Lola. She is O. K. I saw you and Joan had put one over on
me, but it was too late to make a fuss. Think I don’t know you, Nat? Ah,
but I do!”

Natalie sat biting her lip, her eyes narrowed. She was well aware that
Leslie knew her traitorous disposition. For selfish reasons she did not
wish to quarrel with her.

“All right, Leslie,” she shrugged. “Have it your own way. Go on thinking
that, if it will be any satisfaction to you. You must remember we have
our own end to hold up as sophomores. Why, if we _tried_ to favor Lola
during the game, it would be noticed and we would have trouble over it.
Ever since that Beauty contest, I’ve noticed a difference in the way I
am treated. I used to be _It_ on the campus. I’ve lost ground, somehow.
We Sans have worked too hard for first place here to give way now. We
must keep up our popularity or be at the dictation of the common herd.
Our team simply _has_ to make good tomorrow.”



CHAPTER XXII.—A HARD ASSIGNMENT.


When the chimes rang out a melodious Angelus at six o’clock that
evening, the sophomore-freshman game was over and the freshman had
received the most complete whitewash on record at Hamilton. The score at
the end of the game was 26-4 in favor of the sophs. In the freshman
quarters, just off the main floor of the gymnasium, Lola Elster sat
weeping tears of sheer fury, with Miss Cairns alone to comfort her.

“They told me they wouldn’t work hard! They told me it would be a walk
away!” she reiterated vengefully. “You wait. I’ll be even with that Joan
Myers!” The bulk of her spite was directed against Joan, with whom she
had come most into contact during the game.

On the way to their respective campus houses, groups of indignant
freshmen freely discussed and deplored the disgrace that had fallen upon
them. At least thirty-five girls were bound for Silverton Hall, walking
five abreast, their clear voices rising high in the energy of
discussion. Among these were Marjorie, Ronny, Jerry and Lucy. All four
were separated, each walking in a different group.

In the foremost rank were Robin Page, Portia Graham, Elaine Hunter,
Blanche Scott and Marjorie. Four of them were engaged in trying to
console Robin, who was feeling the disgrace keenly.

“You should have resigned from that team, Robin, the minute you saw what
they were at practice,” Blanche Scott said energetically. “It was fine
in you to stick for the honor of the class. You did your best today,
under the circumstances. You were the only one who scored.”

“Yes; you need not feel bad, Robin,” consoled Portia Graham. “I know one
thing. There is going to be a new freshman team before long, and I hope
you will play center.”

“You believe, then, Portia, that we ought to raise a real fuss and
demand a new team?” Elaine Hunter’s blue eyes were alight with
anticipation. She was glad to have some one else express her own
thought.

“Yes; don’t you? It is the only way to wipe our escutcheon clear. Don’t
you agree with us, Miss Dean? We should all stand together in a matter
of this kind. We can only guess as to why such a team was picked in the
first place. Good players ignored and ‘flunks’ taken on, with the
exception of Robin. Miss Reid, I understand, favors a certain element of
students here. The management of the sports is in her hands, but it
should not be. It really belongs to the senior sports committee. I hear,
that, for two or three years, they have been positive figureheads. She
has done all the managing. It is time there was a change.”

“Two of the senior committee did not care much, I believe. The manager,
Miss Clement, told me that she was simply overruled. She objected, but
that was all the good it did,” informed Blanche Scott.

Portia had gone on talking, without giving Marjorie a chance to agree
with her. She now laughingly apologized and again solicited an opinion.

“I think a new team should be chosen,” Marjorie said evenly. Her eyes
were sparkling in the darkness like twin stars. Here, at last, were
girls like the Lookouts. She was so glad that the matter was to be taken
up and threshed out she could have shouted. A definite blow for
democracy was about to be struck at Hamilton. “My friends and I thought
the try-out very unfair. We are considered good players at home, but we
were not even chosen to sub.”

She went on a little further to explain why, in her estimation, the team
chosen were so unfit for the responsibility. Her short talk proved
conclusively that she understood basket ball as only an expert could.

“Won’t you and Miss Harding please enter the lists again, when we have
the new try-out?” coaxed Elaine Hunter.

“No.” Marjorie’s refusal was quietly emphatic. “Not this year. I am
willing to do all I can to help the good work along, but I don’t care to
play. Muriel feels the same. Next year we hope to make the team. There
are some good players among the freshmen who had no chance at the
try-out. I would like to see them play. I would like to see Miss Page
play center. She plays a wonderful game.”

“Thank you.” Walking beside Marjorie, Robin gave her arm a grateful
little squeeze. “You and I are going to be great friends,” she laughed.
“How did you guess my pet ambition?”

“I didn’t guess it. I only said what I thought about it. You deserve the
position.”

“Yes; and she is going to have it, if there is any such thing as fair
play at Hamilton, and I think there is.” Portia Graham spoke with a
sternness that presaged action. “After dinner, tonight, I am going to
call a meeting in the back parlor. We can all get into that room without
crowding. Then we will see what happens.” True to her word, Portia saw
to it, the moment she reached the Hall, that every freshman in the house
was notified of the meeting.

The ringing of the dinner gong shortly afterward was a pleasing sound to
the hungry girls. Dinner at Silverton Hall was served at two long tables
set lengthwise in a pretty green and white dining room. The Lookouts
found the meal as appetizing as any they had eaten at Wayland Hall,
though no better. They liked the line-up of merry girls, with most of
whom they now had some acquaintance.

Dessert did not receive its usual attention that night. The excited
freshmen finished their dinners in some haste and promptly repaired to
the back parlor. The same thirty-five who had walked five abreast across
the campus were gathered again for action. While the murmur of
conversation, mingled with frequent laughter, went on until Portia
Graham took up her station near the old-fashioned fireplace where she
could be seen and heard. Immediately the buzzing subsided, to be
succeeded by a total silence.

Her freshman honor stung by the whitewashing the freshman team had
received, she made an address that came straight from her injured
feelings. It was not long, but it was convincing and evoked loud
approbation. Her suggestion was that a letter of protest be written to
Miss Reid and signed by every freshman in sympathy with the movement.

“That excludes four members of the team and a few of their supporters,
but we can’t help that,” she said. “I think a committee of three had
best draw up the letter. Then it can be passed around for approval and
signatures. Be very sure to read it carefully. This letter is going to
make Miss Reid very angry, for she will have to know that we considered
her methods unfair. I do not believe she will take up the matter with
Doctor Matthews. If she should, we will stand our ground. We are going
to stamp out favoritism if we can. After the letter leaves here with our
signatures it will be handed to the freshmen at Acasia House. I will
obtain their signatures. There are six at Wayland Hall and all are in
sympathy. That leaves about twenty-four, including the team. The
majority of the twenty besides the team are doubtful. Elaine, I am going
to ask you and Miss Dean if you will accept the delicate task of
obtaining the signatures of any of the twenty whom you think are with
us.”

“I will do the best I can. That is no simple undertaking, Portia
Graham,” Elaine reminded, her gentle face rather blank at the mission.
Marjorie also looked a trifle anxious. Then her face cleared and she
expressed her willingness to comply with Portia’s request.

Jerry’s lips puckered as though about to emit a whistle when she heard
Portia commission the two freshmen to the difficult task. She was about
to set Portia hastily down in her mind as on the order of a shirker. She
had passed the hardest task to some one else. Then it suddenly dawned
upon her that, among the freshmen, there were no two better able to
diplomatically perform that task than Marjorie and Elaine.



CHAPTER XXIII.—A FRESHMAN REVOLT.


The committee of three, which included Portia Graham, Veronica and Ethel
Laird, an Acasia House freshman, duly met on the following evening.
After two hours of good hard work they succeeded in preparing a letter
of protest which suited them. It was a drastic letter, written out of
the adamant hardness of youth against injustice. The Silverton Hall
freshmen hailed it with acclamation and vowed that it ought to be placed
on record with the world’s great documents. The Acasia House contingent
were no less enthusiastic. There were twenty of them, which, with the
six at Wayland Hall, swelled the number of protestants to fifty-eight.
This represented two-thirds of the class.

It was a week from the time the letter was written and copied before it
was signed by the loyal two-thirds. Portia made haste prudently, never
allowing the precious document to be out of her sight during the signing
process. Each freshman was also pledged not to mention it outside the
class. During that period of time, Marjorie and Elaine were carefully
scouting about for signers among the doubtful contingent. It was indeed
a hard detail.

She and Elaine made a list of the names of the twenty doubtfuls and
divided it between them. That made only ten apiece, but, oh, that ten!
She finally managed by dint of inquiry to obtain three signatures from
three girls who lived off the campus and did their own light
house-keeping. They appeared to be pleased with her call, which she made
one snowy December afternoon, and became willing signers. She promptly
told Ronny of them, who as promptly pricked up her ears. These were the
very girls Ronny was always ready to help. This brought her list down to
seven. Five of these she learned were devoted supporters of Lola Elster.
Thus, only two of her original ten were left. One of these two was a
Miss Savage, who lived at Alston Terrace, the most distant house from
Hamilton Hall on the campus. She roomed with her sister, a junior, and
recited French in Marjorie’s class. The other, a Miss Greene, Marjorie
knew only by sight. She lived in the town of Hamilton and a chauffeur
brought her and came for her with a limousine every afternoon.

How to get in touch with them she did not know. She was certain that
Leila Harper could help her in this, but she was under promise of
silence. The freshmen signers were growing a trifle impatient, as they
wished to have the affair out of the way before going home for
Christmas. Elaine had secured six of her ten signatures. The other four
she reported as hopeless. She volunteered to see Miss Savage, whom she
had met socially on several occasions.

“I don’t believe I will be able to get that Miss Greene’s signature,”
Marjorie confided to Ronny. “I am never anywhere near her. I never see
her with any of the Sans or Miss Elster’s friends. She is not chummy
with them. Still, I dislike going up to her and asking her to sign when
I don’t know her even to bow to.”

“I would not trouble myself about her,” advised Ronny. “I do not like
her looks. I heard, quite a while ago, that she was very distant. It is
too bad you had to bother with that list. Still, I would have accepted
it had I been asked to do so. The end is worth the pains in this case.”

Marjorie nodded. “Oh, I didn’t much mind. I am glad I slid through
without any fussing. Right is right, only one can’t always make the
other person see it. I will go over to Silverton Hall today after
classes and tell Portia I can’t get hold of Miss Greene. Perhaps she
can.”

Shortly after four that afternoon, Marjorie walked slowly down the main
drive, intending presently to strike off across the campus in the
direction of Silverton Hall. She had not gone far when she heard the
crunch of a footstep behind her. Involuntarily she turned her head to
encounter the cold stare of two pale blue eyes. “Oh!” was her
soft-breathed interjection. The eyes belonged to Miss Greene. More, Miss
Greene was about to address her.

“Are you Miss Dean, the young woman who is getting signatures for a
protest against Miss Reid’s management of basket ball?” she asked icily.

“Yes,” Marjorie unhesitatingly answered, measuring the questioner with a
calm, uncritical glance. “I have not your signature. Do you wish to sign
the paper we shall presently send Miss Reid?”

“Where is this paper?” counter-questioned Miss Greene. “I wish to see
it. I have never heard of anything more outrageous! Miss Reid is a dear
friend of mine.”

Marjorie colored hotly at the other’s tone. Raising her head she coolly
stared Miss Greene straight in the eye. “I have not the paper with me.
In any case you would not care to sign it. It is in the form of a letter
to Miss Reid and is just. The outrageous part of the affair lies in Miss
Reid having shown favoritism, not in the freshmen having resented it.
Good afternoon.” She continued on down the drive, leaving an angry
freshman behind her.

Portia Graham received the account of the interview with troubled eyes.
“Who do you suppose told her?” she asked Marjorie. “We were anxious to
send the letter before news of it reached Miss Reid. She deserves it,
you know. My sister graduated from here last June and she could not
endure Miss Reid. Of course, Miss Greene will tell her, if she hasn’t
already. We had best send the letter at once. A little early for a
Christmas greeting, but it will give her food for reflection,” Portia
finished sarcastically.

“There are no games to be played before Christmas, anyway,” returned
Marjorie. “What we wish to prevent is another exhibition of how not to
play basket ball as given by that limping team. Suppose Miss Reid
ignores our letter?”

“Then we will take it higher,” was the quick response. “She won’t. She
will probably send for the committee which I informed her in the letter
would meet her to discuss the matter. I did not mention any names. Will
you go with me if she sends for us? I would like Miss Lynne and Miss
Harding, Elaine and Miss Cornell.”

“I will go and so will Ronny and Muriel.” Marjorie gave the promise for
herself and friends.

Miss Greene now out of the question, and Elaine having obtained Miss
Savage’s signature, there was no further time wasted. The letter was
sent and the freshmen rested their case until a reply came. Reply,
however, was not forthcoming. Up to the day when college closed for the
Christmas holidays Miss Reid had made no sign save to haughtily ignore
the justice-seeking freshmen when she encountered them on the campus.
The six girls, who formed the committee for final action, quietly agreed
that as soon as they returned from their holiday vacation they would
immediately wait upon Miss Reid and demand justice.

Occupied with this matter, Marjorie had allowed her own affairs to slide
for a time. The day before going home, she recalled with regret that she
had intended to invite Leila Harper to spend the holidays with her. It
was too late now. Still, there would be the Easter vacation. She would
invite Leila for that, before going home. Leila’s bright blue eyes
filled with tears when Marjorie delivered her invitation.

“You are a darling,” she said unsteadily. “I would accept in a minute,
but I am going home with Vera. Easter, now you have asked me, I will
accept with loud Irish rejoicing. Vera is almost as much of a stray as
I. Her father is Roderick Mason, the portrait painter. They have a
whopping old apartment in the Glendenning, on Central Park, west. It is
part studio. Her mother died when she was three weeks old. Her father
brought her up. He’s a fine man, but erratic. Whatever she asks him for
he says: ‘Yes, yes; but don’t annoy me with it.’ He loves her when he
happens to recall that he has a daughter,” Leila ended half bitterly.

“I wish Vera would spend Easter with us, too,” Marjorie said quickly. “I
shall invite her before I go home. Come along. We will ask her now. I am
going home on that eight-ten train in the morning, so I won’t have time
then to see her.”

Leila’s face was aglow with a new-found happiness as she and Marjorie
ran up the stairs to Vera’s room. There was that in Marjorie’s sweet
cordiality which thawed the ice about her heart. Next to Vera, she had
received Marjorie into her affections. In consequence, she was more in
touch with Marjorie’s college affairs than the latter dreamed. Leila was
in possession of the news of the freshman revolt against Miss Reid, but
she kept it strictly to herself. She also honored Marjorie and her chums
for being able to keep a secret. The news, in reality, had been
published abroad by Miss Reid herself, who had showed the letter to
Natalie Weyman, Leslie Cairns and even Lola Elster. These three had been
furiously angry over the attempt to “put one over,” as Leslie Cairns had
expressed herself.

“Let it go until we come back from our vacation. Don’t see any of them,”
she stolidly advised Miss Reid. “I will find a way to settle them. Lola
stays on the team. I heard this Miss Dean, Beauty, you know,” she
sneered, “was trotting around with the paper. I know a way to even up
scores with her. Leave it to me. Oh, yes. I’ll tell you one thing you
may do. Write that snippy Miss Page and demand her resignation from the
team. That will make the revolutionists wild. As soon as we come back
make the freshies challenge us to play. I’ll see that they win next time
and don’t you flunk, either. The soph’s team will have to do as I say.
They all owe me money.”

Miss Reid entertained great respect for the Cairns money, though at
heart she was not fond of Leslie and her bullying ways. She was obliged
to admit that Leslie Cairns was a born politician. This was not strange.
Her father was Peter Cairns, the hardest-headed tyrant among a group of
financiers who based all values on money.

“I believe you are right, Leslie, about the freshman team challenging
the sophomore team directly after the holidays,” she reluctantly
conceded. “If the freshman team should win, it would put a stop to this
nonsense. I shall put a stop to it, at any rate, by simply ignoring it.”
Miss Reid was carefully ignoring all recognition of the fact that Leslie
had the upper hand and was dictating to her. This fact was not lost on
Leslie.

“The freshman team must win,” she said, looking hard at the physical
instructor. “If you can’t manage it, I will send for a coach who can. I
can have him here for two weeks before the game. He can live in town and
I’ll run him out here in my car every day to coach the team. I don’t
mean Fulton. He is too namby-pamby. I mean a coach who will really train
the team and at the same time keep off any freshmen who start to
interfere.”

“That will not be necessary, Leslie.” Miss Reid’s tones were freighted
with annoyance. “I believe I can be trusted to coach the freshman team
so that they will—well, make a good showing at the next game.”

“Win the game?” was the significant question.

“Yes, win the game,” repeated Miss Reid. “Please recall that I selected
that team; not the coach. It doesn’t include any of your pet aversions.
I hope I am equal to this emergency.”

“I hope so,” returned Leslie, without enthusiasm. “Anyway, I shall keep
an eye on the team myself. Now if Nat comes raving to you about Lola or
me pay no attention to her. She wants to be a basket ball star and it’s
an inconvenient time to aspire to it. Understand? What?” With this final
characteristic interjection, Leslie sauntered out of the instructor’s
room without troubling to say good-bye. It had not occurred to her to
say “Merry Christmas” or wish Miss Reid the season’s compliments,
although the conversation took place between them not more than two
hours before Leslie left Hamilton to go to New York for the holidays.

Happily unconscious of any dark conspiracies against her welfare,
Marjorie’s last night at the Hall was congenially spent. The Five
Travelers had packed in the afternoon and were free to spend the evening
together. They had decided to use the time in wrapping and directing a
number of packages, containing simple remembrances for a few of the
Hamilton students whose home addresses they had secured. These they
could mail at the station the next morning. While the five girls talked
and worked, their old friend, the chimes, entertained them with his ever
beautiful Christmas repertoire. “Hark the Herald Angels Sing,” “Silent
Night,” “Little Town of Bethlehem,” “Cheerful Adoration,” and other
Yuletide favorites rang gloriously out on the still snowy air. The
concert ended with “God Rest You, Merry Gentlemen,” which had been
Brooke Hamilton’s pet carol.

“Thank you ever so much, old dear,” Marjorie made a childish little bow
in the direction of her friend as the little prelude before the striking
of eleven began. The ten-thirty rule was not being observed that night
and no one cared.

“Yes; much obliged chimes,” echoed Jerry. “It will be quite awhile
before we hear your melodious voice again. There, that’s my last
package.” She laid an oblong bundle on a pile beside her with an audible
sigh of satisfaction.

“Mine, too. Come on, Lucy, we must turn in. Shoo, shoo, Muriel. Go right
straight to your room. It’s late. Didn’t you know it.” Ronny made a
playful attempt to drive Muriel to the door. The latter braced her feet
and stood her ground. Both girls were laughing as were also the three
onlookers. The sound of mirth could be faintly heard in the hall.

Coming in from a motor ride with several of the Sans, Natalie Weyman
heard the laughter as she passed Marjorie’s room on the way to her own.
Her face clouded perceptibly. What a lot those girls seemed to find to
laugh at, was her resentful thought. She was always hearing sounds of
laughter from both Marjorie’s room and that of her friend across the
hall. It was evident they did not quarrel much. For an instant Natalie
wished she knew them better. Leslie and Dulcie were always so
disagreeable unless they could have their own way. Remembering her
grudge against Marjorie, her lips tightened. What she really wished was
not to know Marjorie better; only to be even with her for what she
considered an irreparable injury done her.



CHAPTER XXIV.—THE FIRST VICTORY.


After two weeks of undiluted happiness at home, Marjorie’s return to
Hamilton was a wrench, keenly felt by all immediately concerned.
According to her own ideas it was like a plant; nicely rooted in one
soil, only to be jerked up by the roots and transplanted. Once returned
to Wayland Hall, it took her longer to settle down than at Thanksgiving.
She had little spells of yearning for her father and mother which only
time dimmed.

For a week following the return of the Five Travelers to Hamilton, they
heard nothing of basket ball interests save that Miss Reid had still
made no reply to the letter sent her. Another week passed, during which
the fall term ended and two days of written tests ensued. Then came one
day of vacation which was always given the students of Hamilton at the
closing of a term. It was on the afternoon of this holiday that the
freshman class, minus fourteen members, who had purposely been left out,
met in the living room of Silverton Hall. It was a tight squeeze, but
every one of the sixty-eight girls managed to crowd into the room.
Portia Graham stood on a chair backed against the wall to address them.
When she had finished speaking the room rang with cheers. She had
advocated a committee to wait on Miss Reid and insist on fair treatment.

“In the event that Miss Reid refuses us justice, are you in favor of
taking our grievance higher?” she questioned in purposeful tones.

“YES!” was the unanimous shout.

“Contrary?” she inquired sweetly, but there were no contrary members
present.

“Are you satisfied with the choice of the following members as a
committee? Their names are: Veronica Lynne, Marjorie Dean, Muriel
Harding, Elaine Hunter, Mary Cornell, Portia Graham.”

Another resounding affirmative, followed by no dissenting voices, was
immediately forthcoming.

“That settles it,” she declared grimly. “We will call on Miss Reid
tomorrow evening at eight o’clock. For the benefit of any one not yet
familiar with Hamilton, I will say that Miss Reid lives at Randolph
House. If she is not in, we will make another call on the next evening.
I ask you on your honor as freshmen of 19— not to speak of this to
anyone after you leave here.”

At ten minutes to eight the next evening the committee met in front of
Wayland Hall and proceeded across the campus toward the north to
Randolph House which was devoted to faculty. They walked briskly along
on the frozen lawn, almost in silence. Portia was to be spokesman, and
she was mentally framing her remarks as she went. She was not in the
least diffident when it came to facing Miss Reid, and she intended to
drive home her point.

The assurance of the maid who answered their ring that Miss Reid was in,
sent a queer little thrill over them all. Marjorie smiled to herself as
she entered the reception room. This was not the first disagreeable call
she had been obliged by duty to make.

A ten-minutes’ wait, during which they conversed a little in low tones,
and Miss Reid appeared. She was a tall woman, rather attractive at first
glance, but not as one studied her features. Her small black eyes were
shrewd and furtive, while the expression of her full face in repose was
self-satisfied rather than agreeable.

“Good evening,” she saluted, in an uninterested tone. She looked from
one to another of her visitors as though nonplussed by the invasion.
Both tone and look were intended to deceive. Miss Reid guessed the
nature of the call.

“Good evening,” was the united salutation. The committee viewed the
instructor with a gravity which nettled her.

“We called this evening, Miss Reid,” Portia began sternly, “because you
have paid no attention to the letter we sent you before the holidays. It
was signed by more than two-thirds of the freshman class and merited a
reply which you did not make. We were serious in our intent, and
expected you would treat our complaint with traditional courtesy. You
did not. We have, therefore, come here to ask you if you intend to grant
us the justice of a new team.”

“Certainly not.” A tide of dull color had risen to Miss Reid’s face as
she listened to Portia’s blunt arraignment. Her eyes had begun to snap
and her pronounced black brows were drawn together. “You are insolent,
Miss Graham. I simply will not discuss the matter with you. I will say
only that the present team remains, with the exception of Miss Page. I
have requested her resignation. Her team-mates complain she is not fast
enough for the work. I mailed her a note this afternoon. You must
understand that you cannot fly in the face of a member of the faculty
and hope to gain by such an act. I am amazed at freshman—we will
say—temerity.”

A sinister stillness followed Miss Reid’s caustic retaliation. A battery
of scornful eyes was leveled at the disgruntled instructor. The very air
was thick with the committee’s displeasure. This latest piece of
injustice, directed against Robin Page, capped the climax. It was two
minutes, at least, before Portia could trust her voice in a reply. She
was angry enough to wrathfully denounce Miss Reid, then and there.

“It will not be necessary for Miss Page to resign from the team. She has
already been sufficiently humiliated by having been identified with a
set of scrub players. There will be a new freshman team and Miss Page
will play on it. I am certain that Doctor Matthews will understand that
something of unusual unfairness has happened to stir the majority of the
freshman class into revolt.” Every word Portia uttered cut clearly on
the stillness of the room.

“Oh, not the majority of the freshman class, Miss Graham.” Miss Reid’s
intonation was that of one correcting a glaring exaggeration. It was
accompanied by a smile of malicious incredulity.

“If you will refer to the letter sent you before the holidays, you will
find that it was signed by sixty-eight freshmen. The class numbers
eighty-two. A meeting of the sixty-eight freshmen who resent your
unfairness was called yesterday. The result—we are here tonight.”
Portia’s retort was laden with cold, uncompromising dignity.

It was distinctly chilling to the physical instructor’s audacious stand.
For the first time since her entrance into the room she became ill at
ease. The force with which she had to deal was altogether too active for
comfort. She knew that Portia would keep her word. With sixty-eight
incensed freshmen at her back, Doctor Matthews would not only listen but
investigate. An investigation would be decidedly humiliating to her, and
also jeopardize her position at Hamilton. She found herself caught
between two fires. She had promised Leslie Cairns that Lola Elster’s
team would win. It would not be easy to pacify Leslie if she acceded to
the committee’s demand. Self-preservation must be considered first,
however. After the high hand she had just taken in answering Portia, she
hardly knew what to say.

“I—that is——” she began, stopped, then said with as much of an attempt
at offended dignity as she could muster: “I cannot talk further with you
concerning this matter tonight. I have an engagement with two members of
the faculty and am already late. If you will come to the gymnasium at
four o’clock tomorrow afternoon I will see what I can do to pacify the
freshman class. I would prefer resigning all interest in basket ball
rather than be the center of a freshman quarrel.” She rose from her
chair, as though determined to end the uncomfortable interview.

“Very well,” Portia coldly inclined her head. “We shall expect to see
you in the gymnasium at four o’clock. We will not detain you longer.”

She rose. Her companions immediately followed suit. Portia’s “good
evening” was echoed by the others as they filed through the door, their
soft, young faces set in cold contempt.

Not a word passed among them until they were well away from the house.
Elaine Hunter was the first to speak. “Did you ever see anyone more
upset than Miss Reid was toward the last?” she asked her companions in
general.

“She had good reason to be,” returned Portia grimly. “We have won our
point. I hope she does resign basket ball management. A senior told me
recently that she has always been a bugbear to the teams. She insists on
managing everything and everybody who will let her. Miss Reid has had
the reputation for years of favoring money and fighting principle. She
has repeatedly used basket ball favors as means of ingratiating herself
with wealthy students. If she really makes good what she said about
resigning it will be the first important victory for democracy at
Hamilton.”



CHAPTER XXV.—A NEW CONSPIRACY.


Not daring to break the appointment she had made with the freshman
committee, Miss Reid met them the next afternoon in the gymnasium at the
time she had set. She had been very careful, in the meantime, not to
come in contact with Leslie Cairns or Lola Elster. Deep in her soul, she
was raging at the choice which had been forced upon her. Fear of losing
her position of years’ standing at Hamilton, and the even more active
fear that perhaps her connivance with Leslie Cairns was known in
college, urged her to shun campus publicity. Resignation was the one way
out of her difficulties with both parties. It would check all freshman
activities against her. As for Leslie, what could she say or do in the
face of it? She would be angry, of course, and insulting. Insults,
however, broke no bones. Leslie could not circulate malicious reports
about her without implicating herself. To resign also meant a saving of
dignity. Miss Reid determined, therefore, to resign, but without
appointing a time for a new try-out. She would slide from under and let
the freshmen straighten the snarl as best they might.

A plan is not a success until it has been carried out. This Miss Reid
learned at her second interview with the committee. Portia, backed by
the other members of the committee, insisted that Miss Reid should sign
a notice of her own composition, announcing a new try-out.

“You may say, if you choose, that, owing to the dissatisfaction of the
preponderance of the freshman class with the work of the present basket
ball team, you have been requested by a committee, representing freshman
interests, to call another try-out for the purpose of selecting another
team, composed of players, adequate to the work.”

“But no such thing has ever been heard of, much less done, here at
Hamilton,” objected Miss Reid, when Portia coolly outlined the notice.

“It has been heard of now and must be done,” came the instant answer. “I
assure you, Miss Reid, that you will go further toward gaining the
respect of the students by being impersonal in this affair. You have
been severely criticized for allowing so inadequate a team to take the
floor. On the day of the first try-out good players were ignored and
unskilful ones chosen. You will gain more by rectifying this error. You
owe it to yourself to do so before you resign. We freshmen prefer the
seniors as managers of our college sports. You have not been just with
us and we have resented your injustice.”

Portia’s denunciation of the physical instructor’s methods was,
undoubtedly, candid. It had the desired effect, however. Miss Reid wrote
and posted the notice. Further, she sent a frigid little note to the
senior manager of college sports, whom she had treated so discourteously
on the day of the try-out, renouncing all voice and interest in basket
ball.

The victorious committee’s next move was to get in touch with the senior
sports committee of three, which included Miss Clement, the senior
manager, and notify them of the complete revolution of affairs. The two
who had sided with Miss Reid agreed quite meekly now with the
committee’s ideas. The try-out was held in the gymnasium shortly after
the notice had been posted, and, for once, a team was made up on its
merits. Robin Page again made good and won the coveted position of
center. The request for her resignation from the other team had not
specially troubled Robin, knowing that a shake-up was imminent.

Four released and exasperated freshmen, headed by Lola Elster and
reinforced by the ten classmates in sympathy with the ex-team besieged
Miss Reid, demanding re-instatement. She very quickly thrust the burden
on the shoulders of the senior sports committee. She made it plain to
her favorites, also, just who was responsible for the affair. As they
had no case they dared not take their grievance higher. What they
proceeded to do was seek the consolation of the Sans, all fourteen of
them being at least eligible to association with these exclusives. Their
domineering sophomore sisters obligingly promised them vengeance against
the obnoxious committee.

Leslie Cairns’ receipt of the movement against collusion was a fit of
temper such as she seldom gave way to. Spying the notice on the bulletin
board, she deliberately ripped it off and tore it to bits. Then she set
off for the gymnasium at a pace quite foreign to her usual leisurely
gait. Luckily for Miss Reid, she happened to be elsewhere at the time.
Thus, when she and Leslie came to classes on the following afternoon,
the latter had calmed considerably. She did not spare the older woman’s
feelings, but scored her sharply for “bungling” and then leaving her
friends in the lurch in order to save herself.

“You may say what you please, Leslie, but it would have done no good to
defy them,” the instructor defended. “The freshman class this year is a
collection of young anarchists. I would advise you to be very careful
what you do. There has not been such a class in years at Hamilton. A few
more like it and Hamilton will lose its reputation as a really exclusive
college.”

“What Hamilton ought to lose is some of its freshie freshmen,” retorted
Leslie. “I have a friend who knows a lot about one of them, at least,
and she probably knows enough about some others to queer them here. I
mean those ninnies from that little one-horse town of Sanford. The whole
five of them are an eyesore to me. The only one who hates ’em harder
than I do, is Nat. She never will forgive that moon-eyed Miss Dean for
putting it over her at the Beauty contest. Leila Harper was back of
that. She is another I could see leave Hamilton without going into
mourning.”

“You can place the blame upon the Silverton Hall crowd, with Miss Graham
and Miss Page as ringleaders,” informed Miss Reid sourly.

Leslie shrugged sceptically. “Oh, I don’t know,” she differed. “Nat
thinks Miss Dean’s crowd started it. They took up the cudgels for that
dig, Miss Langly. The minute we started to rag her for being so
bull-headed about her room, this crowd of sillies started in rooting for
her. Now old Proffy Wenderblatt and his family have taken her up and
they make a fuss over her. She and the green-eyed Sanford dig are _so
chummy_. They make me sick. We have to be careful now about ragging her.
Wenderblatt is a terror when he isn’t pleased. He would report us to
Doctor Matthews. Ragging is forbidden here, same as hazing. I’d do both
to any one I didn’t like, if I thought I could get away with it.”

Despite Leslie Cairns’ threats, made not only to Miss Reid but to
Natalie Weyman and a few others, life slid along very peacefully for the
Five Travelers. The holidays past, they found enjoyment in settling down
for the winter term to uninterrupted study, lightened by impromptu
social gatherings, held in one another’s rooms. Occasionally they made
dinner engagements at Silverton or Acasia House or entertained at
Baretti’s, their favorite haunt when in search of good cheer. Once a
week they spent an hour together as the Five Travelers, and found the
little confidential session helpful. No misunderstandings had crept in
among them. Often their talks branched off into impersonalities, of
interest to all.

Neither Marjorie nor Muriel had entered the second basket ball try-out.
Both had decided to wait until their sophomore year. Fond of the game,
they dropped into the gymnasium occasionally for an hour’s work with the
ball by way of keeping up practice. There were always plenty of subs
willing to make up a team.

February came, bringing with it St. Valentine’s day, and the masque
which the juniors always gave on St. Valentine’s night. A Valentine post
box was one of the features. For days beforehand the girls spent odd
moments in making valentines, the rule being that all valentines posted
must have been hand wrought. Marjorie, remembering the cunning
little-girl costume Mary Raymond had worn to Mignon La Salle’s fancy
dress party, shortened a frilled pink organdie gown of hers and went
back to childhood for a night. With pink flat-heeled kid slippers and
pink silk stockings, an immense pink top-knot bow tying up a portion of
her curls, she was a pretty sight. Ronny went as a Watteau shepherdess,
Lucy as a Japanese girl, Muriel as Rosalind in Shakespeare’s “As You
Like It,” and Jerry as a clown.

The valentine party was always a delightful feature of the college year,
for the reason that it was a masquerade. Though the Sans had been
holding themselves rigidly aloof from all but a few students since the
downfall of Lola Elster as a basket ball star, they could not resist the
lure of a masquerade. They took good care to keep together until after
the unmasking, presumably for fear of mingling with what they considered
as “the common herd.”

“Anyone with a good pair of keen eyes can tell the precious Sans though
they should be happening to wear a dozen masks,” Leila Harper had
derided. “They wear such silks and satins and velvets and jewels! They
are wearying to the sight with their fine clothes. Look at me. A poor
Irish colleen with nothing silk about me but one small neckerchief.”

Following the masquerade by only a few days came the excitement of the
first game between the new team and the sophomores. The latter had not
challenged the freshman team after its reorganization, as Leslie Cairns
had voiced against it and neither Natalie nor Joan Myers cared to oppose
her. Leslie possessed a very large fortune in her own right. In
consequence she always had money in abundance. While the former had
large allowances, they managed usually to overstep them. In such case
they fell back on Leslie and were invariably in her debt.

Later Leslie changed her mind about not wishing the sophomores to play
against the “upstarts,” as she termed them. Having overheard on the
campus that the sophs were afraid to meet the freshies, she accordingly
urged Joan to challenge the freshman team.

When the game came off on the third Saturday in February, the freshmen
gave the sophomores a drubbing they would not soon forget. It was not a
whitewash, but it was painfully near it. The sophomore players took the
defeat with very poor grace. The freshman class had gone wild when the
game had ended 26-10 in favor of the freshmen. While the sophs had not
expected a walk-away victory, they had confidently expected to win.
Further, Leslie had promised them a dinner at Baretti’s that should
outdo anything she had given that year. Now that they had lost the game,
she obstinately refused to keep her word.

“Why spend my good money on a crowd of no accounts like you?” she had
roughly queried. “I said if you _won_ I’d give the dinner. You did not,
so what’s the use in celebrating. The fault with you girls is you’ve
been slackers about practicing. You’ve gone motoring when you should
have been in the gym and after the ball.” This rebuke was delivered in
the sophs’ dressing room after the game, whence the team had hurried to
hide their diminished heads.

“Do you know what I heard out on the floor?” she continued, with intent
to hurt. “I heard that the sophs might have won if they had practiced
once in a while.”

“Just the same the freshies had coaching all the time and we didn’t,”
Dulcie Vale asserted. “Miss Dean and Miss Harding are both expert
players. It seems that they play basket ball a lot at these high
schools. These girls get to be very clever at it. Like the Indians, you
know, who make such good foot ball players. They showed the team
different plays to use against us. That’s why they won. They have been
over to the gym almost every day.”

Dulcie’s comparison of Muriel and Marjorie to the Indians raised a
laugh, as she intended it should. Even Leslie laughed in her peculiar
silent fashion. Next instant she frowned. She had again been thwarted by
the girls she despised. Things were not going rightly at all. Born a
bully, she looked upon even her friends as created only for her
amusement. She had the insatiable desire for power, and could not bear
defeat. Tucked in an inner pocket of her tweed top coat was a letter she
had recently received. It was not the first one she had received from
the same source. This particular letter had appeared to afford her great
satisfaction on reading. Her hand strayed to the pocket which held it.

“I have a letter here I would like to read to you girls,” she drawled.
“On second thoughts I’ll take back what I said. I’ll stand for that
blowout at Baretti’s. That would be a good place to read you the letter.
Then I would like your advice on it.”



CHAPTER XXVI.—FRIENDS GOOD AND TRUE.


“Do you see anything about me to laugh at?” demanded Marjorie one snowy
afternoon in early March, as she walked into her room, eyes sparkling,
cheeks aglow, not only from the winter air, but from annoyance as well.

Jerry looked up from an illustrated magazine she was interestedly
perusing. “No; I don’t. I’ll laugh if you say so. Ha, ha! Ha, ha!” This
obligingly and without a smile.

“You needn’t mind. That laugh of yours has a hollow sound. It’s not what
I would call true mirth.”

“No wonder it has a hollow sound. I’m hungry,” Jerry complained. “It is
almost an hour until dinner, too. Tell me what’s bothering you. It will
take my mind off my hungry self.”

“Oh, nothing startling, only every time I meet any of the Sans or those
few freshmen who go around with them, they look me all over and then
they do everything from smiling just the least bit, a hateful sarcastic
smile, to laughing outright. Just now, as I came across the campus, I
met Miss Cairns. Miss Elster, Miss Myers and Miss Weyman were with her.
As soon as they saw me, they began to talk among themselves, quite
loudly. I didn’t hear what they said. I know it was about me. Then they
all laughed. The other day I met the same girls and they simply smiled.
I know they are doing it purposely; but why?”

“Humph!” ejaculated Jerry, her blue eyes widening in sudden
belligerence. “I know why! They have started out to rag you. That’s a
nice proposition! I suppose they are sore at you because you were on
that committee.”

“But that was quite a while ago. This making fun of me has only been of
late. I noticed it first the Sunday after the game. I met a crowd of
those girls as I came from chapel. I felt just a little hurt. I had had
such a peaceful time in chapel. It was the Sunday you had a cold and did
not attend chapel. If they keep it up, I shall probably grow so used to
it that it won’t trouble me.”

“Well, if they confine themselves to snickering, smirking, ha-ha-ing and
te-he-ing, let ’em enjoy themselves. If they start to say anything to
you, for that’s the next stage in ragging, give them one lovely
call-down that will settle them for good. You can do it. I’ve heard you
speak straight from the shoulder. Will you ever forget the day you and I
had the fuss with Rowena Fightena Quarrelena Scrapena?”

“No; I will not.” Marjorie never could resist giggling at the long name
which Jerry had applied to Rowena Farnham on account of the latter’s
quarrelsome disposition. “I hope none of those Sans will try her
tactics. I don’t wish to come to bitter words with any of those girls.
They are set against me on account of having served on that committee,
perhaps. Maybe because Muriel and I went over to the gym occasionally
and helped the team along. They have not liked us, you know, from the
night Miss Cairns, Miss Weyman and Miss Vale called and privately rated
us as nobodies. It is queer they never tried to take Ronny up, for she
has made no secret of her name this year. They must surely have heard of
Alfred Lynne, her father. Leila says that Miss Cairns is always writing
her father and asking him to have this or that student’s parents looked
up financially.”

“Contemptible!” Jerry’s scorn of such tactics was sweeping. “If ever
they try to look me up and I hear of it, even long afterward, I will get
them together and give them such a call-down their hair will stand on
end and stay that way for a week. If you should happen to see the Sans
switching around the campus with their coiffures resembling that of
Feejee Islanders, you will know what has occurred to the dear creatures.
I shall probably do that, anyhow, if they don’t let you alone.”

“No.” Marjorie’s negative was decided. “You must never fuss with them on
my account. I daresay they will grow tired before long of making fun of
me. All I can do is this. Appear not to see them at all.”

“I would just as soon fuss with them as look at them,” Jerry declared
valorously. “Now who are they, pray tell me? One thing is certain to
come to pass. Sooner or later we will have to tell that crowd where they
get off at. I have seen it coming ever since the freshman dance. Miss
Weyman is so mad at you she can’t see straight. She expected to win that
contest. Helen Trent called my attention to her that night. She was
posing to beat the band for the judges’ benefit. Helen was worried a
little. She thought Leila ought not to have pitted you against Miss
Weyman. That is what she did, you know. Afterward Helen said she guessed
you would have been unofficially declared the college beauty anyway, for
so many of the girls were already raving over you. Now don’t rave at me
for telling you that. You are such an old sorehead about that contest. I
hardly dare think of it in the same room with you.”

Marjorie sat very still, an expression of blank amazement on her lovely
face. She now recalled her own vexation on the night of the dance when
Leila had brought her into too prominent notice by hurrying her across
one end of the gymnasium to join the line. So Leila had purposely
dragged her into that contest! For a moment or two she wavered on the
verge of indignation at Leila. Then the Irish girl’s face, brooding and
wistful, as she had seen it so many times when Leila was referring to
her own affairs, rose before her. No; it was too late to be angry with
Leila. Marjorie was tempted to laugh instead at the clever way in which
Leila had managed the whole affair.

“You have told me some news,” she said at last. “I had no idea Miss
Weyman was anxious to win the contest. I didn’t know, either, that Leila
had a hand in it. She didn’t say much about it after it was over, except
to congratulate me. I don’t think she has ever mentioned it since.”
Marjorie had begun to smile.

“She is a clever one.” Jerry grinned appreciation of the absent Leila.
“Why, Marjorie, she arranged that contest! She took it from an old book
on the Celts. She brought the book with her from Ireland. She got up the
contest to score one against the Sans and take a rise out of Miss
Weyman. I would have told you this before, but Helen told me in
confidence. She said the other day she didn’t care if I told you, for
she felt that you understood Leila well enough now not to be cross with
her. She was afraid of making trouble in the beginning if she said
anything.”

“It’s past now. I don’t care. Miss Weyman is nothing to me. I am glad I
know about it, though.” Marjorie considered for a brief space. “Perhaps
that is why those girls are acting so queerly toward me. They may think
me very much elated over winning the contest. If that’s the case, all
the more reason why I should pay no attention to them.”

Jerry agreed that this was so and the subject was dropped for the time
being. Having resolved to appear oblivious to any ill-bred acts on the
part of the Sans, Marjorie proceeded to carry out her resolution. For a
week or more she presented a strictly impersonal face whenever she
chanced to encounter any of the Sans or their friends in going about the
college premises. She was greatly annoyed to find that this method
seemed to have no effect. Instead, their derision of herself was growing
more pronounced. Several times she thought she detected a difference in
the salutations of certain upper class students who had formerly shown
cordiality of greeting. Late one afternoon she met Miss Kingston, one of
the seniors on the sports committee, on the steps of the library, and
received from her merely a blank stare. Marjorie went on to the Hall,
feeling very much crushed. To be sure she was not particularly
interested in Miss Kingston. She had sided with Miss Reid at the
try-out. Since the freshmen had regulated matters, however, Miss
Kingston had been quite affable to her when they had chanced to meet in
the gymnasium.

In the growing dusk of the hall, for the maid had not yet turned on the
lights, she ran plump into another girl who had just come from upstairs.
“I beg your pardon,” she apologized.

“Ex-cuse me!” exclaimed a familiar voice. “Blame the maid for no light,
but never yours truly. And where may you be hurrying to, Miss Marjorie
of the Deans?”

“Oh, is that you, Leila? I didn’t know you in the dark until you spoke.”

“Nor I you,” returned Leila. “I have been to your room twice looking for
you. I was just going back to see if Miss Remson knew where you were.
Ronny is in my room. I am needing you there, too. Will you come up with
me now?” Leila turned toward the stairs.

“Certainly, I will. What has happened, Leila?”

“Nothing, dear heart. Only Vera and I have something to talk over with
you and Ronny.” Leila spoke in the friendliest kind of tones. Marjorie
followed her up the stairs to the third floor where Leila and Nella
Sherman roomed. Nella was absent, but Vera and Ronny greeted their
entrance with expressions of satisfaction.

“I had the good fortune to bump into Marjorie in the hall,” Leila said,
as she ranged herself beside Marjorie, who had taken a seat on Leila’s
couch bed. “Now for the talk I must give you. Some of it will make you
laugh and some of it will not. May I ask you, Ronny, do you spell your
name L-y-n-n or L-i-n-d?”

“Neither way. It is spelled L-y-n-n-e,” responded Ronny. “It is an old
English name.”

Leila and Vera both broke into laughter. Marjorie and Ronny regarded
them with mild wonderment.

“Oh, my gracious! Did you know, Ronny, that the thick-headed Sans call
you Lind? They are walking about on the campus proclaiming that you are
a poor Swedish servant girl who lived with the principal, Miss Someone,
I have not the name, of Sanford High School. She pays your expenses
here. You are not much, Ronny, so never think you are.” Again Leila
broke into laughter. “Do poor Swedish servant girls have imported gowns
of gray chiffon? I am remembering one of yours.”

“They do not, as a rule.” Ronny’s whole face was alive with mirth. “Now
who could have started that absurd tale?” She turned to Marjorie.

“I don’t know.” Marjorie looked troubled. Incidental with Leila’s
recital, Jerry’s remarks concerning being “looked up” by the Sans had
returned to her. “Part of that amazing information must have come from
some one in Sanford who wanted to be malicious. Not the Lind part. That
is funny.” Her sober features relaxed into an amused smile. “You had
better explain to the girls about the servant girl part, Ronny.”

“O-h-h!” sighed Ronny. “You tell them, please, Marjorie.”

“All right; glad to.” Marjorie’s revelation of the part Ronny had played
during the previous year at high school was received with absorbed
attention. When she went on to say that Ronny’s father was Alfred Lynne,
the noted western philanthropist, Leila gave a sharp little whistle of
surprise.

“Oh, the poor Sans!” she chuckled. “Might not your father be able to buy
out all their fathers and still have a dollar left?”

“He might,” emphasized Ronny, with a companion chuckle. “I haven’t made
a secret of my identity this year. Oh, those simpletons! Well, I shall
not disabuse them of their beliefs concerning me. Let them hug them to
their hearts if they choose.”

“That is not all, girls.” Leila’s features grew suddenly grave. “The
rest has to do with you, Marjorie. We can’t get at it. A sophomore
friend of ours told Vera and me this. She asked us to pass it on to you.
The Sans are talking you over among the upper class girls. Those who
will listen, I mean. Our friend heard it from a soph who is about half
snob, half democrat. One of the Sans received a letter from someone who
seems to know all about your town and you, Marjorie. The letter is
making mischief. There is something against your high school record in
it. We have found out that much. We believe in you. We would like to
know what you wish done concerning it.”

As Leila continued speaking, Marjorie had turned very white. It was the
white of righteous wrath. “There is only one person I know in Sanford
who would write such a letter,” she said, her voice thick with anger. “I
mean Rowena Farnham, Ronny. How she happens to be in touch with the Sans
I do not know. It isn’t surprising. She is ill-bred, unfair and
untruthful; a girl, who, without knowing me, tried to make trouble for
me on her very first day at high school. I will find out who has that
letter and make the person read it to me. Then I shall post a notice on
the bulletin board saying that an untruthful, injurious letter is being
circulated at Hamilton about me. I will not allow such a letter to gain
headway!” Her tones rose in passionate protest.

“Easy, now. Don’t worry.” Leila’s hand, warm and reassuring, closed over
Marjorie’s clenched fingers. “You can’t make the Sans give up the
letter, Marjorie. The ring king of ’em has it. Leslie Cairns is carrying
this outrage on. I believe you are right about this Farnham person.
Where is she now?”

“At boarding school, I suppose. She went away to school last year. The
Farnhams have a cottage at the sea shore. It is about ten miles from
Severn Beach. That’s where the Macys always go. Maybe Miss Cairns met
Rowena there,” Marjorie speculated. “I am going to tell you the whole
story of my trouble with Rowena Farnham. Then you will see for
yourselves the sort of a person she is.”

It was a long story Marjorie had to tell. It was listened to with deep
interest. Ronny had already heard the details of it from her God-mother.

“Whatever she has said against me she has made up. That doesn’t remedy
things; just to know yourself that it is all untrue,” she concluded
almost piteously. “I didn’t wish such troubles to creep into my college
life like hideous snakes.”

“It remedies matters when you have some one to fight for you,” asserted
Ronny, her gray eyes steely with purpose. “I am going to make an ally of
Miss Remson. Now this is my plan. I shall ask her to notify all the
students that she wishes them to come to the living room at a certain
time, on a certain evening. They will all respond for they will think it
is something concerning their own welfare. Then I shall rise and lay
down the law. You won’t need to resort to the bulletin board, Marjorie.
We will quash the whole thing right in the living room of Wayland Hall.”

“That will be best,” nodded Vera. “Miss Remson will be there and she
won’t stand any nonsense from the Sans. She doesn’t need to accept their
applications for rooms at the Hall next year.”

“Well they know it,” put in Leila. “Remember we shall all be there to
support you, Ronny. We will rage like lions at your command.”

“I shall not need it. I mean I can forge through alone. I shall love
your support.” Ronny’s face had taken on the old mysterious expression.
Too much engrossed in her own sense of injury, Marjorie did not notice
this.

“My advice to you, Marjorie, is—act as though you had never seen any of
the Sans when you meet them,” counseled Vera. “The sooner we can call
the house together the better. It is easier to spread scandal than to
crush it. We must lose no time.”

“This is Monday,” mused Ronny. “Friday night will be best, I think.”

“That is late, Ronny,” objected Leila. Marjorie also regarded her chum
with somber anxiety.

“It must be then,” Ronny made firm reply. “Trust me in this. I have my
own reasons for setting the date for Friday. There is one little item in
my plan that I am not going to speak of just yet. All I can say is that
it will be of great help when the time comes.”



CHAPTER XXVII.—THE SECOND VICTORY.


That particular week seemed the longest to Marjorie she had ever spent.
While she could only guess that the damaging letter held by Leslie
Cairns was from Rowena Farnham, she was quite positive that there was no
one else who would be mean-spirited enough to write it. Her high school
record entirely clear, still it would have to be proven. She had been
vilified by Rowena, and lies about her published among the students of
Hamilton. Unchecked, there was no telling how wide a circulation it
might gain.

Jerry, who had been told of the trouble, was ready to descend upon the
entire college and vanquish it single-handed. Muriel and Lucy were no
less incensed. As for Miss Remson, she was for vindication on Friday
night. Being as shrewd as she was good, she merely posted a notice on
the house board requesting every student at the Hall to meet her in the
living room at eight o’clock on Friday evening. All attempts to find out
from her the nature of the meeting were fruitless. She kept her own
counsel. The Sans, not wishing to curtail their chances for next year’s
accommodations, prudently decided to attend in a body.

“It is better to meet her, girls,” Natalie Weyman urged. “She won’t keep
us long. She has some idiotic bee in her bonnet that is aching to buzz.
We had best humor her.”

“It isn’t my policy to humor anyone,” objected Leslie Cairns.

“Except Lola Elster,” cut in Natalie with jealous sarcasm.

“That will be about all from you,” retorted Leslie, insolence animating
her heavy features.

“Oh, really!” flashed back Natalie, ready for battle. “How long since
you acquired any authority over me?”

“Forget it,” advised Joan Myers wearily. “All you two have done this
evening is quarrel. I thought we were to meet in Nat’s room for a good
time, not a general row.”

“Nat is to blame,” muttered Leslie. “Let her be a little less waspish
and I will try to get along with her. This is no time for us to fuss. I
have been a good friend to Nat. She forgets that.”

“I don’t,” icily contradicted Natalie. “Only I won’t take dictation from
my father and mother, let alone my friends.”

“Drop it, then, and listen to me.” Leslie still continued to dictate,
but in a modified tone. This was not lost on Natalie. She bore it,
however, in discreet silence. “It is time to start on that Dean girl. I
mean, to do some talking. We must catch her out on the campus and rag
her a little. Leave it to me. I know how to begin on her. The rest of
you, who happen to be along, can join in. Notice what I say and how I
say it.”

By the merest chance, Marjorie’s path did not cross that of the Sans
during the early part of the week. On Wednesday, after classes, she saw
a number of them far down the drive, hurrying toward the Hall. Within a
few yards of the steps, she entered the house and was opening the door
of her room when she heard their voices in the lower hall. She tried not
to think of the blight which hung over her, but she could not throw off
a sense of heavy-heartedness such as she had not experienced since the
time when Lucy Warner had chosen to disbelieve her word. Of all her
chums, Lucy longed most to help her. She was understanding now how much
her disbelief had made Marjorie suffer. Nothing could be done until
Friday night, and the work of clearance lay in Veronica’s capable hands.

Friday dawned, clear and sunshiny. Marjorie hailed the day with relief.
That evening would end her suspense. It was time it ended, she thought.
She had received signs of what might lead to partial coventry on the
part of a number of upper class students. She mentally set them down as
girls whom she would take a just pleasure in avoiding, later on, when
the smudge had been erased from her escutcheon.

From Ronny she had learned that Miss Remson expected a full attendance
in the living room that evening. The brisk little manager was up in arms
at the affair and declared that she would lend every effort to stamp out
the rumor. “These young women are becoming insufferable,” she confided
to Ronny. “Between you and me, they are not going to room at Wayland
Hall next year unless the management should change hands.”

On Friday afternoon Marjorie hurried from the laboratory, where she had
been at work during the last recitation period of the afternoon, and set
off at a rapid walk across the campus. Her hands were stained from
experimentations, and she was anxious to bathe and dress for the evening
before dinner. She had thought of wearing a dark green cloth gown,
fur-trimmed, as the most inconspicuous dress she owned. She was greatly
depressed at the idea of being dragged again into prominence.
Nevertheless, no one could have persuaded her not to go on and thresh
the matter out with those who had sought to injure her.

Influenced by her thoughts, her face showed a sternness which seldom
visited it. A fairly strong east wind which had risen and blew against
her caused her to bow her head to it a trifle. Enwrapped in her somber
reflections, she was over half way to the Hall when the sound of voices
smote her ears. Looking up quickly, she saw a bevy of girls coming
toward her. She recognized them as Sans. More, that she was their
objective. She could not avoid them, nor did she wish to do so. She
simply kept on walking until within a few feet of them.

“Steady there, Joan!” suddenly drawled a voice Marjorie knew and
disliked. “Be careful. Don’t walk over the college beauty. Why, _good
afternoon_, Miss Bean! Oh, I beg your pardon; Dean, I believe is
correct. A fine day, isn’t it? I imagine it is much colder in Sanford. A
fine little town, I hear. It has such a splendid high school. One has to
have a high standard of honor to be admitted to it. If one cheats in
examinations or does anything dishonest one is expelled from school.
Just like that!” Leslie struck her hands smartly together. “One really
should be very careful. Even if one has been expelled and then happened
to get back into this wonderful high school, through influence, the
story of one’s dishonesty is likely to travel into college.”

“Yes, I have heard that, too,” chimed in Natalie Weyman. “We should be
delighted to hear your opinion, Miss Dean. Don’t be in a hurry. We have
been told that you can make the prettiest little speeches. Make a speech
now.”

“Speech! Speech!” chorused the others, simulating avid enthusiasm. Very
innocently they drew nearer, as though partially to hem her in.

“Oh, she _doesn’t care_ to make a speech now, girls,” sneered Dulcie
Vale. “Too bad! We really ought to take her down to the Colonial and
blow her off to one of our real dinners. I doubt if you could get one
like these specials to the San Soucians in Sanford. We haven’t yet had
the honor of escorting the college beauty about the campus.”

“She has _so_ many studies,” sighed Leslie Cairns, “and with committee
meetings and team work, too, her valuable time is _just simply all taken
up_! What I would advise, Miss Bean; no, Dean, is a little less interest
in——”

Up to this point Marjorie had listened with calm serenity to the Sans’
attempts to follow out an old English school custom of “ragging.” The
instant she noted the change from sarcasm to belligerence in Leslie
Cairns’ tones, she became ready to speak and act.

“How utterly silly you all are,” she said with the utmost composure.
“You have no wish to know me. I have no wish to know you. As for the
things you are attempting to insinuate against me, what possible harm in
the end can such untruths do? Good afternoon.”

Her steady brown eyes turned searchingly on her tormentors for an
instant, Marjorie made a detour, passed the momentarily speechless group
and continued steadily across the campus.

“What?” Leslie Cairns uttered her usual expression blankly. “What?” she
said again. This time with growing displeasure.

“Well, I never!” exclaimed Natalie Weyman’s high cold voice. “Of all the
insolence! One might think we were peasants and she a princess!”

“Why didn’t somebody say something before she got away?” demanded Joan
Myers wrathfully. “I was speechless when she said that about our being
silly. She might as well have called us all liars.”

“Are you sure your friend Rowena is right about that high school
trouble, Les?” Natalie anxiously inquired.

“Yes, she is,” Leslie snapped, irritated out of her customary drawl.
“She saw the whole thing. Then this Dean girl tried to lay it to her.
Her father was so enraged over it that he took Rowena out of high school
and sent her to Miss Alpine’s School for Girls. That is an expensive
school, too. The Farnhams have millions. You ought to see their place at
Tanglewood! An English duke built the house and then went broke. It’s a
humming little palace, I will say. Cost a million at least.”

“Is that so?” returned several impressed satellites, who, while eligible
to the Sans, could not boast of million dollar summer homes, built by
English dukes.

“Why don’t you invite your friend Rowena down here for a day or so,
Les?” asked Dulcie Vale. “It would be good sport to see her and that
little Dean prig meet. I am so furious to think we let her stand there
and have her say without simply extinguishing her before she had said
three words.”

“Oh, yes; this is a nice time to tell it,” grumbled Leslie. “Why didn’t
you do it while you had the opportunity?”

“Why didn’t you?” pertly queried Lita Stone. “You had the same
opportunity.”

“What?” Leslie cast a withering look at Lita, then deliberately turned
her back on the questioner and began talking to Natalie in an undertone.
She had not given up her intention to continue to rag Marjorie. Next
time, she planned, she would dispense with the company of all but
Natalie and Dulcie. The three of them would not bungle matters.

As for Marjorie, the reaction had set in. Divided between anger and the
nervous shock attending the sudden attack, she trembled a little as she
continued her way to the Hall. She was glad that she was to be cleared
of the shadow that night. If Ronny had not insisted on taking up the
cudgels for her, she would have braved Leslie Cairns in the latter’s
room and fought her own fight for honor.

Not knowing that Natalie Weyman was jealous of her, Marjorie resolved to
look her prettiest, with a view toward exasperating the vain sophomore.
In her wardrobe hung a frock she had not yet worn at Hamilton. It was a
one-piece frock of fine wisteria-colored broadcloth which her captain
had designed and made. It had a wide bertha, cuffs and over panels of
wisteria panne velvet. The velvet was further beautified by a two inch
appliqué of silk violets on an old gold background. It was the most
becoming of her afternoon gowns, and stunning enough to make the Sans
wonder if it were imported.

She reached her room to find Jerry out. She sat down limply in one of
the easy chairs. After ten minutes of absolute quiet, she felt better
and rose to prepare for the evening in her usual methodical manner. An
hour later Jerry entered to find Marjorie, looking exceptionally
charming, seated at the table, deep in her trigonometry theorems for
next day’s class.

“You look _perfectly_ sweet, Marjorie,” was Jerry’s honest praise. “I’m
glad you chose that dress. I was afraid you wouldn’t dress up much. I am
going to wear that dark blue velvet gown you like so well. It’s my best
outside my evening dresses. Ronny is going to wear her black taffeta.
You know how stunning she is in black. I haven’t seen Muriel today, and
I don’t know what Lucy will wear. I know that frozen expression of hers
will be there. If it doesn’t scare the Sans it ought to. I must hustle
along to get togged out before dinner.”

It took Jerry until the last minute before the bell rang to dress for
the momentous evening. She and Marjorie went down to dinner without the
latter having told her of the afternoon’s disagreeable occurrence. When
the Five Travelers sat down at their table there was a peculiar gleam of
satisfaction in Ronny’s eyes. She had the air of one who had
accomplished something which greatly pleased her.

“I had a little trouble with the Sans this afternoon,” Marjorie quietly
informed her chums as they began their dessert. She had waited until
this moment rather than distract their attention from the substantial
part of the dinner. “I wish you would come to Jerry’s and my room after
we leave the dining room. You ought to know of it before we meet the
rest of the students in the living room. I hope those Sans will all be
there.” Into her eyes leaped stern resentment of the afternoon’s
insults.

“Miss Remson thinks they will all be on hand,” Muriel replied. “Oh,
won’t I enjoy watching their faces when they hear why she called them
together!”

“They may turn on you Ronny, and me, too,” warned Marjorie. “If they do,
don’t give way a particle to them.”

Ronny smiled on Marjorie in the rare wonderful fashion she so loved.
“You don’t know what a good fighter I am,” she returned. “Wait until you
see my defenses.”

There was no sign of a smile on Ronny’s face when she listened with the
others to Marjorie’s recital of the Sans ill-bred act of the afternoon.
Her face registered an austerity which gave her the expression of an
offended deity. Jerry and Muriel sputtered angrily over it and Lucy’s
green eyes gleamed threateningly enough to promise any of the offenders,
who chanced to meet their concentrated stare, an uncomfortable moment.

“It is five minutes to eight.” Jerry pointed to the clock. “Let’s go
down. On where victory points the way!” she declaimed humorously.

“And it will be victory,” said Veronica, with a sureness of tone that
was vastly comforting to Marjorie.

She walked down the stairs and into the living room with Veronica. Lucy,
Muriel, Katherine Langly and Jerry were directly in their wake. Chairs
from the dining room had been brought into the living room and placed in
regular rows facing the west wall. These chairs were already occupied by
the house students. Of the thirty-six girls who lived at Wayland Hall,
the Lookouts and Katherine were the last to enter. At the west end of
the room were three chairs. Miss Remson occupied one. She was talking
busily to a dark-haired, fine-featured woman who sat in the chair next
to her own. The third chair was still vacant. Five of the six girls
seated themselves on a large oak bench at the back of the room, which
was still vacant on their arrival. Ronny walked serenely up the
improvised side aisle to where Miss Remson and her guest were seated.
Very demurely she slipped into the vacant chair.

A united gasp arose from four of the occupants of the oak bench as their
eyes lighted upon Miss Remson’s guest. A great wave of unexpected joy
swept over Marjorie. She realized how much the presence of that beloved
guest meant to her. She felt Lucy’s hand slip into hers. The two girls
clasped hands in an expression of silent thankfulness and rejoicing.

Conversation died out as Miss Remson rose to address the assemblage.
Aside from Vera, Leila, Katherine and the Lookouts, no one present had
an inkling of Miss Remson’s purpose in calling them together.

“I wish to introduce to you Miss Archer, principal of the Sanford High
School for Girls, of Sanford, New York. She has come to Hamilton College
to right a wrong that has been done a student here, a most estimable
young woman who lives among you at Wayland Hall. Had Miss Archer been
unable to leave her work to come here, I should have seen justice done.
However, as the case in hand comes so entirely under her jurisdiction, I
am very glad of her presence tonight in that respect as well as the
pleasure to be derived from her society.”

Miss Remson resumed her chair and Miss Archer rose, a gracious,
dignified figure in a dark brown broadcloth traveling gown. Speech for
the time being was impossible. The students in the room, with the
exception of the Sans, were applauding vigorously. The nature of Miss
Archer’s errand alone had aroused their finer sentiments. As for the
Sans, they were in a quandary. The words “Sanford High School” and
“right a wrong” pointed to trouble for some of them, at least. Natalie
Weyman half rose from her chair. A sharp tug at her gown from Leslie
Cairns and she resumed her seat. Common sense had warned Leslie that it
was too late to run. The Sans were fairly caught.

“Sit still,” she whispered. “Remson won’t stand for our leaving. We must
brazen this out. Pass the word along.”

“I am going to tell the young women of Wayland Hall a little story,”
Miss Archer began in her direct fashion, when quiet was once more
restored. “This story is about two girls. One of these two girls was
entering her junior year at Sanford High School. The other girl wished
to enter the sophomore class. The time of this occurrence which I shall
relate was on the first day of high school. The girl who wished to enter
the sophomore class reported to my office in order to take the entrance
examinations. I chanced to be without a secretary at the time and was
not in my office when the prospective sophomore entered it. While she
waited for me she amused herself by going over the private papers on my
desk. Among them was a set of examination papers marked ‘Sophomore’
which she would be obliged to take. She was interested in these and did
not scruple to go over them.

“While she was engaged in this dishonesty, another girl entered the
office. She was the bearer of a note to me from her mother. Seeing the
stranger at the desk she naturally surmised her to be my new secretary,
my former secretary having left me the previous June when she was
graduated from high school. The young woman with the note asked the
other frankly if she were not the secretary. She did not answer the
question with a direct ‘yes’; she merely smiled and made it appear that
she was. She continued to stand at the desk as though she had permission
to be there.

“Presently she engaged the junior, who was waiting for me, in
conversation about an algebra problem on one of the papers. She
pretended that she was interested in the problems as review work. This
was nothing strange, as my secretary always takes charge of the special
examination papers. The junior had long since finished algebra and was
not thinking much about the other’s apparent interest in a certain
problem in quadratic equations which she pointed out on one of the
papers.

“To make a long story short the one girl tricked the junior into showing
her how to solve the problem. The junior, believing the other to be
simply amusing herself by solving a few of the printed problems during
my absence, worked out the one for her which she could not solve. During
this time several girls entered the office. In each case they were
interviewed and sent about their business by my supposed secretary.
Rather to the surprise of the junior the other girl finally picked up
the papers containing the finished problem and walked out of the office
with them. Still the junior did not suspect her of trickery. She
continued to wait for me. I did not return to the office for some time
after that and she left without seeing me.”

Miss Archer went on to tell of the trouble which had ensued as a result
of the junior having learned that the girl she had talked with was not
the secretary. Also of her own misjudgment of the innocent junior. She
told of the anonymous report of the affair sent her in a letter which
had been written by one of the students who had seen the two at work
over the problem and misjudged the junior as being a willing party to
the other’s dishonesty.

Her denunciation of Rowena Farnham, for at the last she named her and
Marjorie as the principals in the affair, was sharp and merciless. Her
openly expressed contempt for the malicious attempt on Rowena’s part to
blacken Marjorie’s fair name at Hamilton cut deeply into the courage of
the Sans. Under the weight of evidence presented they dared not say a
word. Her final remark: “My deep regard for Miss Dean as a former pupil
and personal friend has made it a pleasure for me to come to Hamilton to
defend her integrity,” was received with acclamation on the part of
Marjorie’s loyal supporters.

When Ronny could make herself heard she rose and said: “I wish it
understood by all present that I am the person responsible for Miss
Archer’s presence here tonight. No one except Miss Remson and Miss
Warner knew that I had sent for her. I would like also to say that my
name is _Lynne_, not _Lind_, and that I am not Swedish, but English. Any
reports concerning me I should prefer to have authentic. That’s all.”
Ronny left her station and sought the oak bench where Marjorie sat
quietly crying, her head against Jerry’s plump shoulder.

Following Ronny’s example more than half of the assemblage left their
seats and made for Marjorie. Under their warm expressions of sympathy
and loyalty, her tears soon disappeared. The lesser portion of the
students made their exit the moment they conveniently could, hoping not
to attract too much attention. Going directly to their rooms, they came
forth again in hats and coats, leaving the Hall by twos and threes. An
indignation meeting at the Colonial was their objective. For once Leslie
Cairns was out of favor all around for having accepted the word of her
friend, Rowena Farnham, against Marjorie, without having been sure of
her ground.

While the Sans were engaged in one of their futile altercations Miss
Remson, assisted by the two maids, was engaged in passing around
strawberry ice cream and thick-layered chocolate cake to Marjorie and
her supporters.

“We have won our second victory for democracy!” exclaimed Leila
triumphantly from her place on the oak bench beside Marjorie. She had
made Jerry give it to her. Miss Archer sat at her beloved pupil’s other
side.

“I can’t be sorry it happened now,” Marjorie said happily. “It brought
me my Miss Archer. Besides it is a real victory. We have shown those
trouble makers, thanks to Ronny, first of all, that we are not going to
be talked about at their pleasure.”

“They certainly slid out of here in a hurry,” commented Jerry. “They
didn’t dare stay.”

“They did not,” agreed Leila. “They will not be bothering us for some
time to come. They will have to hunt well for trouble. Now, with spring
here, they will be motoring and forgetting us for awhile. Do not believe
they are done forever. Leslie Cairns will try again if she sees her
chance. We may not see much of them the rest of this year, but look out
for them as juniors. The poor, simple earth will not hold them.”

“Really, I don’t know where the year has gone,” sighed Muriel Harding.
“We are almost into the spring term and it seems to me that I haven’t
been here but a few weeks. We were going to try to find out a lot about
the founder of this college, Brooke Hamilton. Have any of you ever
looked up his history outside of what it says of him in the college
bulletin?”

“I tried to find more about him at the library, but the librarian said
there wasn’t a single thing about him there that was of any importance.
He didn’t appear in books, I suppose, because he was a private
gentleman. I would love to go to Hamilton Arms some time. His private
library is there, they say, just as it was in his time. If we were
allowed to look through it, we might find out a little about him from
his collection of books. His tastes and so on, I mean.” Marjorie spoke
with the eagerness she always betrayed when on the subject of Brooke
Hamilton. Never in a student had the departed philanthropist possessed a
more generous admirer.

“If that is your heart’s desire, I will be the one to tell you it is not
easily obtained. A niece of his, a very old lady, lives there. She will
see no one. She is not in sympathy with the college. They say she has no
liking for girls,” was Leila’s dampening information.

“Then there is no use in sighing for the unattainable,” smiled Marjorie.
“Oh, well, I can keep on admiring his traditions, anyway, and help, as
much as I can, to keep them green at Hamilton.”

When the little feast of rejoicing was over and the Loyalites, as Leila
named the participants, had sought their rooms, Marjorie’s earnest
words, “and help, as much as I can, to keep them green at Hamilton,”
rang in their ears. Each vowed in her heart to do likewise.

How Marjorie left her freshman estate behind, and traveled on into the
broader realm of the sophomore, will be narrated in “Marjorie Dean,
College Sophomore.”

                                THE END.





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