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Title: Greycliff Heroines
Author: Grove, Harriet Pyne
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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                           GREYCLIFF HEROINES



[Illustration: “Get a canoe, Hilary!” called Cathalina as she dived from
the point in hope of catching Isabel in time.]



                         GREYCLIFF HEROINES

                       By HARRIET PYNE GROVE

                             Author of

        “Cathalina at Greycliff,” “The Girls of Greycliff,”
          “The Greycliff Girls in Camp,” “Greycliff Wings”

                         A. L. BURT COMPANY
                      Publishers      New York



                                THE
                       GREYCLIFF GIRLS SERIES

                   A Series of Stories for Girls

                       By HARRIET PYNE GROVE

                    CATHALINA AT GREYCLIFF
                    THE GIRLS OF GREYCLIFF
                    THE GREYCLIFF GIRLS IN CAMP
                    GREYCLIFF HEROINES
                    GREYCLIFF WINGS

                          Copyright, 1923
                       By A. L. BURT COMPANY

                         GREYCLIFF HEROINES

                         Made in “U. S. A.”



                         GREYCLIFF HEROINES



                             CHAPTER I

                         GUESTS ON THE WAY


A blue-eyed, sunburned, slight young man leaped from a boat to the
floating dock at Bath, Maine, and reached back for baggage handed
him by two red-faced boys who were evidently most uncomfortable at
being once more dressed in the garb of civilization. One of them
pulled at his collar, and moved his head uneasily, as he balanced on
the edge of the little launch, and then sprang out with a whoop
which was the vent for his suppressed spirits.

“So long, boys,” said the two, in farewell to two others who
remained in the boat.

“So long.”

“Goodbye, Mr. Stuart.”

“Goodbye, boys.”

The launch chugged away up the river toward Boothbay Camp, and the
tall young camp councillor, with the two boys and their luggage, as
well as his own, started up the slight rise toward the main street
of the quaint New England town.

At the same time, an attractive, well-dressed lady, apparently under
middle age, was walking briskly in the direction of this little
street which led to the dock, and just before starting to cross it
she saw the party of three coming toward her. Whereupon she waited,
smiling a little.

“Well met, Campbell Stuart,” said she.

In pleased surprise, the young councillor stopped and held out his
hand. “So here you are, Auntie! I was wondering when you would get
here! All alone? Too early for the girls, I guess. I didn’t see
anything of the boats from Merrymeeting Camp as we came down the
river. However, that is no sign that they aren’t coming in shortly.
I have to take these kids to the station up here and see that they
make their train. Where shall I meet you and the girls?”

“I just came in on the train from Portland, and we forgot to arrange
by letter just where to meet. So I think I’d better go down to the
dock, don’t you?”

“It isn’t much of a place for you to stay, Aunt Sylvia, but I’ll be
back soon, and you will be sure to catch the girls there. Where’s
the car?—and Phil?”

“In Boston,” replied Mrs. Van Buskirk with a comical look. “I’ll
tell you all about it later. Are these some of the young gentlemen
from the boys’ camp?”

The boys, who had been standing aside, though listening with
interest to the conversation, were introduced and soon hurried off,
while Mrs. Van Buskirk went down to the dock, to which she had been
directed, and sat down on a long bench there, with people who were
waiting for some boat. Presently she saw the boats from Merrymeeting
Girls’ Camp, which she recognized because of their load of happy
girls, and walked across the muddy driveway toward the floating
dock, where she saw that they were about to land. Her first glimpse
of her daughter Cathalina came when the girls began to disentangle
themselves from mass formation, and Cathalina jumped out, shaking
out the wrinkles in her dress and tucking back wisps of hair which
had been blown about by the Kennebec breezes.

“I don’t know where we shall find Mother,” Cathalina was saying, as
Hilary and June Lancaster, Betty Barnes and Lilian North joined her,
“but we can walk on up and look for the car. We forgot to appoint
the spot.” Just then she saw her mother. “Why, Mothery! How nice of
you to come down to meet us! Where’s Phil? Here are the rest of us.”

Mrs. Van Buskirk warmly greeted each girl and they turned away from
the river to join the scattering girls, who made quite a procession
up the short street.

“We have to see June off, you know, Mother,” explained Cathalina.
“She goes straight through with the girls and councillors of that
crowd. A good many of our friends are leaving. Do you care if we
go?”

“Not at all. Where shall we meet?”

“You couldn’t take us to the station?”

“The car isn’t here, dear; it is in Boston.”

“Mercy! What shall we do!” exclaimed Cathalina.

“I have a good plan.” Cathalina and her mother were walking together
and the rest of their group followed. “Do you think that they would
enjoy going by boat to Boston?—at my expense, of course.”

Cathalina hesitated a moment. “Why, I imagine they’d like it. But
why the change?”

“Your father could get away, he found, and we have been up in the
White Mountains for a week and more. Then he went back and I came on
to Portland for a few days. Philip was delayed until your father
returned to New York. The chauffeur was to have the car and Philip
in Boston either today or tomorrow, and I arrived at Bath about an
hour ago—at your service, my daughter!”

Cathalina laughed. “I see. Our house party is to begin on a boat.
You are a dear and a darling. Do you mind coming with us to the
station? I’d like to have you meet some of the girls. Frances
Anderson and Marion Thurman we may not see for a long time. They do
not go to Greycliff, you know.”

“Very well. Campbell just went to the station with two sunburned
boys from camp. I met him as I was coming to the dock. By the way,
your own complexions are of the stylish summer type.”

“Oh, yes! We’re always in the state of being either red, blistered
or brown. The girls with black hair are the only ones that show any
contrast.”

At the station Mrs. Van Buskirk was highly entertained. It had been
a long time since she had seen so many girls abroad together. There
were eager last messages, goodbyes, clusters of happy, laughing
girls, and finally the moving train, bright faces in windows and
waving hands. Campbell had joined the party, and after the train
left they returned to seats in the station while the matter of
getting to Boston was under consideration. Mrs. Van Buskirk
explained the change of plan as she had to Cathalina, to find the
young people quite pleased with the idea of the boat trip to Boston.

“The boat does not leave till somewhere around seven o’clock,” said
Campbell. “I’ll find out the exact time. We can have lunch at the
Colonial on the way down. I don’t know what sort of accommodations
we shall be able to get.”

“That’s so,” said Cathalina. “There are two parties from our camp
taking the trip to Boston, New York and Washington.”

“I took it for granted,” said Mrs. Van Buskirk, “that we’d go by
boat, and telegraphed from Portland for reservations.”

“I might have known,” said Cathalina, with relief, knowing, too,
that the reservations would include the best staterooms on the
steamer.

They left the station, Campbell, with courtesy, accompanying his
aunt; but Mrs. Van Buskirk said that she must talk to Cathalina
about several matters and thus changed the order of march. Betty and
Lilian purposely fell in together, leaving Hilary free for Campbell.

“This house party,” said Campbell, “is one fine plan of Aunt
Sylvia’s.”

“I guess Cathalina thought it up, didn’t she?” replied Hilary.

“Yes, but it takes Aunt Sylvia to give people the time of their
lives!”

“She is too lovely for words,” assented Hilary. “I’ll never forget
my other visit in New York. And she doesn’t seem to be making any
effort, either.”

“She makes kind plans and is fortunate in having the means to carry
them out. But I believe that her house is really the center of
operations for our whole clan, the ‘sisters and cousins and aunts,’
as you said.”

“Shall we see the relatives this time?”

“Ann Maria’s home, I believe, and the Van Nesses. But you are not to
spend too much time with any of them. _I’m_ going to show you New
York!”

“O, indeed!” laughed Hilary. “That sounds interesting. It will seem
different from the wintry days I spent there and will be another new
experience.”

At the Colonial they decided to make their meal a dinner at
Cathalina’s suggestion, “so we won’t have to bother with it on the
boat. I want some beefsteak with French fried potatoes—let’s see!”

“O, Cathalina,” said Hilary, “just ordinary beefsteak with all these
seafood things? I want some sort of a clam broth and some shrimp
salad, and I must have a last New England doughnut—”

There was plenty of quiet fun at that last meal in little Bath. Mrs.
Van Buskirk enjoyed it as much as any of them. Then they strolled
down to the dock to which the City of Rockland would come. “How many
times at camp, girls,” said Lilian, “have we heard that old boat
salute us—three long ‘toots’!”

“I’ve never been on the real ocean before,” said Hilary.

“Neither have I,” said Betty.

“We have good weather,” said Mrs. Van Buskirk, “and it will be
moonlight.”

Moonlight it was, as they all sat well forward on the deck to watch
the moon, the clouds, and the shores of the Kennebec. Then at last
they reached the ocean. Hilary caught her breath a little as they
first felt the ocean swell, but it was calm “on the deep,” and the
ship fairly steady.

“Are you all right?” Campbell inquired with concern, as he drew up
his chair next to Hilary.

“O, yes. I felt a little funny at first, but I love it!”

There was much to tell Mrs. Van Buskirk. Campbell told the most
amusing tales of doings at the boys’ camp and the girls described
the grand finale of the last week in Merrymeeting Camp, the banquet,
the prizes, the last trips and fun, which had not been included in
any of Cathalina’s letters home.

“Probably your last letter is waiting for me at home, Cathalina,”
said Mrs. Van Buskirk. “When I left Boston for this little trip with
your father I left word for the mail to be forwarded to New York.
Our visit to the White Mountains was unexpected, you know, but Mr.
Van Buskirk needed a cooler place to rest than Boston. Your Aunt
Ann, Cathalina, was so disappointed, but it couldn’t be helped, and
I had been there long enough anyway. By the way, what do you girls
want to see in Boston?”

“Speak up, Hilary,” said Cathalina, smiling, as there was a slight
hesitation on the part of the girls addressed.

“Oh, your mother will know where we ought to go. Of course I’d like
to see the Bunker Hill Monument, and the place where the Boston Tea
Party was, and if it isn’t too much trouble to drive there,
Lexington and Concord—and the Harvard buildings are in Cambridge,
aren’t they? And, Oh, I do want to see the place where Miss Alcott
wrote ‘Little Women’!”

“You have chosen well, Hilary. Of course we shall drive out through
Cambridge, Lexington and Concord. I think that I shall rest in the
hotel in the morning and let the boys take you girls around the
city. But after lunch we shall start early, and I believe I can tell
you many interesting things about the different places. Nearly
everything is historic or has literary associations. I love Concord
myself, Hilary, and the Alcott home will delight you girls.”

It was late, indeed, when the party sought their staterooms. Mrs.
Van Buskirk had one to herself, and had arranged for Cathalina and
Betty to be together, Hilary and Lilian next door.

“My, this is different from the lake trip, isn’t it?” Betty
commented, as the boat rolled about a little and she occasionally
took hold of something to steady herself.

“Does it make you feel sick?”

“Not a bit, just funny.”

But both the girls, their chaperone, and the contented Campbell were
soon in deepest slumber till time to rise and watch the boat come in
to Boston Harbor.

“I do hope that Phil will be there!” said Cathalina.

“If he is not,” said Mrs. Van Buskirk, “we shall not waste any time.
He knows the hotel at which I shall stop, and if our own car has not
arrived we can take a taxi around the city, and, indeed, one of the
motor trips out to Lexington and Concord.”

“But you wouldn’t get your rest, Mrs. Van Buskirk,” said Lilian.

“I was tired yesterday, but I believe that I shall go with you this
morning anyway. It is going to be a fine day to drive. We shall see.
I must get in a little time to take you all around to Aunt Ann’s,
for she would be heart-broken if Cathalina and Phil were here and
she did not see them.”

Mrs. Van Buskirk believed in having plans ready for any emergency,
but Philip, to whom one of his mother’s telegrams had gone, was not
only in the city, but at the dock with the car. This he left with
the chauffeur, while he chose a place of vantage to see the people
come off the boat, for Philip Van Buskirk was not going to miss any
of this visit with Lilian North.

“Oh, there’s Philip now, Mothery,” exclaimed Cathalina, as Mrs. Van
Buskirk and the girls, following the crowd which was crossing the
gangplank, reached the outer air and made ready to cross. Lilian had
seen him, but made no comment as she caught a welcoming glance from
Philip’s dark eyes.

It was no time at all before they were leaning back on comfortable
cushions in a luxurious car, while Philip and Mrs. Van Buskirk
conferred a little with the chauffeur, who touched his cap and
departed.

“Boston is the home of our chauffeur,” explained Mrs. Van Buskirk to
the girls as Philip helped her into the machine. “He is to have a
short vacation while Philip and Campbell drive us home.”

Philip Van Buskirk and Campbell Stuart were of about the same
height, tall, slight and active, but of contrasting complexions,
though Philip’s skin was clear and smooth.

“Phil is the handsomest,” thought Lilian, as she looked at the two
boys in front, and she regretted her own present complexion, rather
sunburned from the camp experience, though not as bad as Cathalina
had extravagantly indicated. For Lilian was recalling a remark of
Philip’s, in the pine grove at camp, when he looked at her
admiringly while he said something about liking “golden-haired,
blue-eyed, lovely-faced girls.”

At the same time, Hilary of the dark brown locks was admiring
Campbell’s fairness and contrasting him favorably with the graceful,
stylish Philip. Both youths had the square shoulders and fine
carriage which their early years at the military school in the South
had given them.

Cathalina, whose spiritual face and dreamy, sky-blue eyes had not
changed much in spite of the practical experiences of the last two
years, was thinking, “I’ll soon be in New York,” and visualized a
call from a strong, well-built young officer with sunny brown hair
about the shade of her own, a wave in one front lock, deep-set brown
eyes, and a serious, kind face.

Betty, whose coloring was like Cathalina’s, but on whose rounder
face two dimples chased in and out, was not thinking at all of any
young man, but of Boston and the sights she was to see immediately,
for her knight of the Hallowe’en mirror was far away, and she would
not see Donald Hilton till school began.



                             CHAPTER II

                           CHICKEN SENSE


So far, the weather had been ideal for the drive to New York. It was
warm but not too warm. The roads were well dried off from recent
showers, but not dusty, and the country looked fresh and green. They
had stopped in some of the most delightful places their guests had
ever seen, and the young people had made one long picnic of the
whole trip, after their exciting day in Boston. Philip joked
Campbell in private about the “Hilaryous” time he was having and
Campbell retorted with a conundrum, “Why are you like a sailor?”

“The answer has something to do with ‘North,’ I suppose?”

Campbell nodded.

“Because my compass always points to the ‘North’?”

“That would be very good,” assented Campbell, “but I was
thinking—because you always know where the North is.”

“What a pity that Aunt Sylvia and the girls have to miss our
brilliant punning!”

But in spite of the special attraction which Hilary had for
Campbell, and Lilian had for Philip, the gentlemen of the party were
attentive to all the ladies, as they should be, and cheerfully
performed the duties which naturally fell to them in the absence of
the chauffeur.

On this occasion they were picnicking. They had stopped at a
farmhouse to buy corn and melons, and had also found fresh cookies
and a big, warm apple pie. Philip, Campbell and the girls came back
to the car with hands full.

“I got some of the thickest cream, Mother,” called Cathalina, “and
the farmer’s wife made fresh coffee for us.” Cathalina held up two
thermos bottles with triumph, and began to sing, “The farmer in the
dell, the farmer in the dell! High, ho, the Derry, O, the farmer in
the dell!” She had never been real sure of the words, but that made
no difference!

“Hush, Kittens,” said Philip, who was always evolving some new
nickname for his sister. He was beginning to hand his bundles to
Lilian, who had climbed into the car. “The man directed us, Mother,
to a place where there is spring water that he says is all right.
Say! Campbell, why didn’t I think to buy a chicken?”

“Oh, we don’t want one,” said Mrs. Van Buskirk. “It would take too
long to cook it. You can roast or boil the corn in a jiffy. By the
way, did they have fresh butter?”

“Oodles,” said Philip. “I saw them doing up a little pat for
Cathalina in a clean cloth and some oiled paper!”

“If I hadn’t seen those chickens in time up the road—” began
Campbell, and the rest started to laugh.

“That fat old hen that decided to cross the road just before we got
to her would have been about the right size.”

“Too tough, Campbell,” said Betty, laughing.

“I saw a man just out of Boston,” remarked Philip, “that had chicken
sense.”

“What sort of sense is that?” inquired his mother.

“Same kind that Campbell tells about. Concluded he wanted to cross
just before we got there, couldn’t have waited till we passed, and I
honked and put on the brakes just in time! It’s a sort of
disturbance of the mental gearing, I guess. Seeing the machine makes
them think of trouble.”

“I remember the incident,” said Mrs. Van Buskirk. “But we have to be
ready for things like that. It’s the easiest thing in the world to
blame the pedestrian. But I was brought up in the good old days of
the carriages that we had up to about ten years ago, and we were
trained to protect the people on foot.”

“Hear, hear!” said Philip as he started the car. “Everybody hold on
to the lunch. It’s just around the curve in the road, I believe.”

In a few minutes, Philip turned the machine into the shade of some
trees and bushes by the roadside, while they looked up a gently
rising little hill to a tangled wood and a succession of ravines and
hills.

“This looks good, plenty of wood for a fire, a cleared space in
front, and stony. I suppose the spring is back farther. Think you
can get up there, Mother?”

“It will certainly be a pity if I can’t,” replied his mother. “You
just watch me! Come on, Campbell, give me a hand and we will hunt
for the spring. I can carry that little hamper, too.”

“Indeed not, Mother,” replied Philip. “I’m convinced. You need not
prove your prowess further! We’ll bring all the stuff up while you
hunt for water. This is the Swiss Family Robinson! Can you tell,
Hilary, by the bark, whether a banana tree is bearing cocoanuts this
year or not?”

“One thing we can do, Philip,” said Betty—“make clothing for the
family out of the skins of all the wild animals you and Campbell
catch!”

“Look out, there!” cried Philip suddenly, and he reached out a hand
to pull Lilian toward the car. She had gotten out on the side next
the road and was gathering together some of their wraps and
packages. With one wild honk, a car whizzed around the corner,
balanced on its outer wheels, continued a little further and
stopped. It was a large car like their own, with only one occupant,
a man who was having trouble with his engine. It puffed and snorted
for a while, but the girls and Philip did not wait to see the
outcome when they saw that the car had not turned over. With their
lunch, and various comforts in the way of robes and wraps to sit on,
they pursued their way toward the woods, after Philip had closed and
locked the car.

“Did you find the spring, Mother?” asked Philip. “I must needs bathe
my fevered brow.”

“It is only a few steps down the side of the ravine,” replied Mrs.
Van Buskirk, pointing. “All of you will want a cool drink, as
Campbell and I did. This is a beautiful place for a picnic. I’m glad
we came around this way. How did you happen to know about this road?
It isn’t on the map.”

“Pat pointed it out as we came from home and said that there was a
way to get through here, but not many tourists used the road because
it was not good in some places, and especially bad in wet weather.
If it had rained, I would not have brought you here. But I thought
we could just about do it and make our next stopping place by
night.”

While this conversation was going on the girls were preparing the
eatables and the boys gathering sticks for the fire. All the
accompaniments for a picnic lunch were contained in the Van Buskirk
car. It was an easy matter to serve it. But to save time, most of
their meals on the way were taken in hotels or tea rooms along the
roads.

As the picnickers were enjoying their lunch, the man of the car
below came up the hill with a cup, and inquired of Philip where the
spring was located. Philip rose and showed him the place, asking if
he needed any help on his car.

“I was going to ask you if you can loan me a few tools,” replied the
man, “but I did not like to call you away till you had finished your
lunch.”

“Oh, that is no matter,” and Philip went down hill to find one or
two small implements that the man told him he lacked. “Just leave
them on the step,” said Philip, “when you are through.”

“Funny looking customer,” remarked Campbell, when Philip came back.

“He was real polite, though,” said Betty.

“Do you suppose he will put the tools back?” asked Mrs. Van Buskirk.

“I guess so. He had almost everything he needed himself. His tire
seems to be punctured and he is fixing it up.”

“Why doesn’t he put on a new one?” inquired Cathalina.

“Possibly he hasn’t any, or wants to be economical. Shall I go down
and ask him?”

“You seem to be getting sarcastic, Philly,” was Cathalina’s comment.
“I don’t blame you, though. Who can eat this last ear of corn?
Going, going—gone!” and Cathalina put it on Philip’s picnic plate.
“We ate more while you were gone. Now it’s time for pie. Mother,
there’s more coffee for you, and, Lilian, you positively must finish
up this marmalade you like. Campbell, _can’t_ you eat another
cookie? A New England cookie? a spice cookie? a crisp brown cookie?”

“Sounds like lines from the ‘Old Oaken Bucket,’” said Campbell, “but
if I am to eat a piece of apple pie, I must positively refuse to
take anything else. The ‘little birdies’ will eat it, Cousin.
Lilian, can’t you compose an ode to ‘The Last Cookie’?”

“’Twas the last cookie in the hamper,” began Lilian in song, “left
cru-hum-bling a-a-a-a-lone! All its—I fear me that the tune of the
‘Last Rose of Summer’ is a little intricate at this stage! May I
have my piece of pie?”

“Pie it is,” answered Philip, as he took Lilian’s plate.

The party took its time over the dessert, much spring water, and the
gathering up of impedimenta. While they were thus engaged, they
heard the engine of their neighbor below start, a honk from his
horn, and looked up to see him wave and call, “Thank you.” He looked
back once with a broad grin upon his face, then disappeared in a
cloud of gasoline smoke.

“That was a funny performance,” said Mrs. Van Buskirk. “I thought
his face ugly enough before, but that grin was positively malicious.
I suppose he has gone off with your tools, Philip.”

Philip was really annoyed at this implication of his carelessness,
but was too courteous always to his mother to show it much.

“I guess we’ll find ’em all right, Mother,” he replied.

As they went down the hill to the car, they noticed a decided
cooling of the atmosphere with the passing of the afternoon.

“Do you think that we will get in early enough, Philip?”

“Yes, Mother, and the night will be beautiful, moonlight still. We
ought to make a hundred miles easily after we get out on the main
road, and that will take us into a good town, though there are some
fair little villages along. No, thanks, Campbell, I’ll drive till we
get out of this hilly place. I know the car a little better.”

Everybody climbed in but Philip, who had picked up the borrowed
tools from the step with an air of triumph, and paraded them before
his mother and Cathalina. He took a last look at the tires and
stepped around behind the car—when they heard him exclaim in
surprise. “The scoundrel!” he said.

“Why, what’s the matter, Philip?”

“That thief has helped himself to our extra tire! _That_ is why he
gave us that farewell grin! Wait till I catch up with him!” Philip
hurried into the car and made ready to start.

“Wait, Philip,” said Campbell. “Are you sure that our tires are all
right? He would know, of course, that the first thing you would want
to do would be to catch him or get to a telephone.”

“Telephoning would not do any good. He’ll keep to out of the way
places and go around the towns. I bet that his car is a stolen one!”

Both Campbell and Philip got out, and went around to look closely at
tires and wheels. “I can’t find a thing out of the way,” said
Campbell.

“I thought they were all right when I looked before,” said Philip.

“Do be sure about it,” said Mrs. Van Buskirk anxiously, and the
girls leaned out with faces showing concern.

“Maybe he has put a few tacks around,” suggested Campbell, beginning
to look along the ground. “Perhaps he thought we would start,
though, without finding out about the theft. The back of the car was
so concealed by those bushes.”

“I wish I had thought to have the whole car where we could see it
from where we were! Chicken sense! Chicken sense!”

At this the girls exploded into laughter, while Mrs. Van Buskirk
reached out to pat Philip’s sleeve and say “Never mind, son, we
can’t think of everything.”

“Oh, yes, Mother, you are very fine about it, but I know you are
thinking how I just shook those tools in your face!” Philip was
rather enjoying the joke on himself now. “That chap thought that
we’d never notice if he left the tools all right.”

“Drive carefully, Philip, for fear the man did do something to the
car.”

“I will, Mother.”

They started down the hill, around curves, across little bridges,
where the narrow road like a ribbon wound in and out.

“Suppose the man had trouble again and we _should_ catch up with
him,” suggested Betty. “What would we do?”

“Not a thing, Betty,” replied Philip. “He would have a gun. The only
way we could really catch him and get our tire would be to get the
police after him at some place on the route. You girls need not
worry. We are not anxious to take you into trouble. I only want to
get on the main road before we have anything happen to a tire.”

“And we are one hundred miles from a town!” said Mrs. Van Buskirk.

“Oh, no, Mother. You are thinking of what I said; but, remember, I
mentioned villages. It isn’t that far from a place where we could
stay, and I think that it is only a few miles from a village where I
could get a tire, or have something fixed if necessary. See, we are
in sight of the main road now.”

Philip had scarcely spoken when there was a loud report—then a
second.

“There are the tacks, Philip,” said Campbell. “The villain’s plot is
bared!”

“Melodrama!” said Lilian.

The girls as well as the boys left the car to examine the road where
the two tires had been punctured. “Glass and all sorts of sharp
things,” said Philip. “He must go prepared for occasions like this.
See? All this never came here by chance.”

Campbell walked over to the other side of the road. “Nothing here,”
he reported. “But it was made sure that on the other side we
couldn’t miss it.”

“Perhaps since we had been kind,” suggested Mrs. Van Buskirk, “he
wouldn’t leave us stranded up in the hills, and let us come nearer
civilization before our tires were punctured.”

“You would be bound to find some good in him, Mother,” said Philip.
“Do we go forward on rims, or do we patch up? Two tires!”

Campbell was already getting out the “first aid” equipment. “He knew
we’d need the things he borrowed, all right!” said he. “Come on,
Phil, we may as well get to work. You ladies can enjoy the beauties
of nature for the next hour or so. Get out your field glasses,
Hilary. I heard a grasshopper sparrow over in that field.”

The girls scattered, Hilary and Lilian with the field glasses,
Cathalina and Betty to look for wild flowers, while Mrs. Van Buskirk
hunted out a book from the luggage. The two young mechanics worked
busily, having taken the machine on beyond the possibility of
another puncture. The “villain” had contented himself with preparing
the one place for trouble.

“Say, Phil,” said Campbell, suddenly, “have you looked to see
whether we have enough gas?”

“You haven’t forgotten, have you, that we just got a supply at the
little town before we struck this road?”

“No, I haven’t, but you forget our friend who needed the tire.
Perhaps he needed some gas, too.”

Philip finished the particular detail he was on with only the
laconic remark, “Chicken sense,” and then started an investigation
of the tank, with Campbell as an interested spectator and assistant.
“You’re right. He needed almost all of it. But I think that there is
enough, with that little can that Mother always insists we take
along, to get us where we can fill up again. Mother, here is where
your forethought gets the applause.”

Mrs. Van Buskirk smiled and placidly read on.

Finally the work was done. Philip and Campbell gave the whistles of
their college fraternity, to call the wandering girls, and the party
once more were off. The car ran easily, and the gasoline lasted
until they reached the first town, which, fortunately, happened to
be of a fair size, and Philip thought that he could find another
tire there to replace the stolen one. But just as they turned into
the street where they had been told the shop they were seeking was
located, they saw a small crowd gathered about a machine a short
distance ahead.

“It’s our man!” exclaimed Philip, and he brought up his car to the
curb not far from the source of excitement. He and Campbell lost no
time in arriving on the scene, while the girls and Mrs. Van Buskirk
watched with interest.

“They’re taking him out of the car!” said Betty.

“Yes; see those two policemen?”

“I suppose that is the sheriff.”

“Philip’s talking to him. I wonder if we’ll have to wait for a trial
or anything.”

“Mercy, no. At least, I hope not.”

“Look, there is a nice looking gentleman there—I wonder who he is.”

Thus ran the comments on the moving picture before them, which
lacked the usual printed information. “I suppose it wouldn’t be
proper for us to go any nearer,” said Cathalina, whose interest had
reached the point of curiosity.

“Certainly not,” replied her mother. “Always keep away from anything
like that. I think that the car probably was stolen and that the
owner is identifying it.”

In a few minutes Philip came back to the car, while Campbell was
helping the other gentleman unfasten the Van Buskirk’s tire from the
back of the stolen machine. Philip brought his car up close, the
tire was transferred to the place where it belonged, and the journey
was resumed.

“Yes,” said Philip, in answer to the questions. “They caught the
fellow outside of town and brought him in. This gentleman had
telephoned to the police and by good luck had just arrived on the
trolley car. He had had other business there and just happened to
stop, had telephoned several towns. The man confessed to having
stolen our tire, and the other man knew it was not his, so it was
quickly attended to. It seems that this fellow is wanted on several
charges. The police seemed to know him. He had a gun, as we thought
he would, and tried to use it when they caught him.”

“He was an ugly customer,” remarked Campbell.

“We are very fortunate to have escaped so well,” said Mrs. Van
Buskirk. “If you had not closed the windows and locked the car,
Philip, I suppose he might have stolen more.”

The rest of the journey was pursued without any hindrance or
unpleasant experiences. It seemed to the girls who were the guests
that it was a beautiful dream of passing trees, hills, water and
sky, seen from the midst of comfort and good companionship. Then
came New York and the handsome home of the Van Buskirks.



                            CHAPTER III

                          THE HOUSE PARTY


Lilian and Betty were as much impressed as Hilary had been, upon her
first visit, with the beauty and quiet elegance of Cathalina’s home.
Betty shared Cathalina’s room with its blue, silver and white
fittings, while Hilary and Lilian occupied the rose room, which had
been Hilary’s upon that memorable Christmas time. “I thought it
would be more fun for us to be close together,” Cathalina said, “but
if any of you would like to be alone, it can just as well be
arranged.”

“Who would want to be alone?” replied Lilian. “This is delightful.”

The baggage had come through safely, and the girls found their
prettiest frocks all pressed and hanging in the closets. Cathalina’s
maid was a different one from the girl Hilary remembered, and
Cathalina laughed as she explained what Phil called her
“alliterative succession” of maids, Etta, Edna, Ethel and now Edith,
“my ‘French’ maids,” said Cathalina. “The last ones did not stay
long. Mother did not think they were good, but Edith is fine. She is
English.”

Hilary and Lilian found another maid appointed to answer their bell,
and confided to each other that they hoped not to make any mistakes
in their own deportment regarding her. “Oh, it does not make any
real difference,” said Hilary. “If we are simple and nice, as we
ought to be, I guess we shall not make any very bad mistakes. I
think, Lil, that you might as well get used to one!”

Lilian blushed, for Hilary’s meaning was not hard to understand, and
the state of Philip’s feeling toward Lilian had been quite apparent
on their automobile trip. However, within the next twenty-four hours
Lilian’s ideas were to change somewhat.

Cathalina and Philip were as busy as could be in those first hours
after their arrival, making arrangements for different sorts of good
times.

“You will excuse me, won’t you, girls, while I call up the family
and get things started. I want some of them to come over tonight and
I must find out who of the friends are in town.” Cathalina, fresh
from her bath, her soft brown hair prettily arranged by her maid, a
cool, light summer dress floating about her, was an attractive
picture as she sat by the little table to telephone.

“Is that you, Ann Maria? Good! I thought you girls would be back in
time for us to see you. Did you have a great time? Yes, we had a
wonderful summer at camp—more fun! Yes, we just came in an hour or
so ago. How are Uncle and Aunt Knickerbocker? Oh, is that so? Well,
why can’t you stay all night here, then—you and Louise? We want you
all to come after dinner tonight, to meet the girls. I’m going to
call up Louise and Nan and Emily. Robert Paget will get in before
dinner, Phil thinks. I’m calling Rosalie and Lawrence Haverhill,
too. Anybody else that you can think of? Somebody we could ask on
short notice. Oh, yes. I’ll get Phil to call him. We’ll have light
refreshments. Come early.”

Cathalina danced away and over to Philip’s room, where she knocked.

“That you, Kitsie? All right, come in. That’s all, Louis. There are
the letters to be mailed.”

Philip was as freshly attired as Cathalina and making great plans
for happy hours with Lilian. “Be seated, Miss Van Buskirk!”

“No, thanks, Phil—I just had a little matter to speak to you about.
If Mother thinks it’s all right, would you mind calling up a young
man I met at school last year—if he’s in town—and can come—”

“Lots of ‘ifs’ in the way, it seems,” said Philip, his eyes
sparkling. Why should Philip worry about anything? Was not the
sweetest girl in the world in the same house with him?

“Yes, Philly, that’s so. I’m not sure it’s proper to be so informal
with him, but Mother will know about that. It’s the Captain Van
Horne that was nice to me at school last year, you know. We
exchanged addresses and he asked me if he could call, or I invited
him to call, I don’t remember which. He is an instructor in the
military school.”

“I remember about him. Of course it’s proper for me to ask him to
come around, and if he can’t come tonight, shall I ask him for the
other party, or to call to see us?”

“Yes, please. You’re a good brother.”

“By the way, Cathalina, after the telephoning could you manage to
let me have Lilian to myself a while—out on the veranda or
somewhere? I’ll find the place, if I can get the girl!”

“Yes, Philly, indeed I will. You’ve hardly had a good visit with
Lilian since we started from Boston.” Cathalina gave Philip a
roguish glance as she whirled out of the room. Phil mischievously
winked, put his hand over his heart and said, “I now call up the Van
Horne at his ancestral abode, but I was saving you for Bob Paget.”

“Oh, let Betty have him,” Cathalina called as she disappeared down
the hall in the direction of the girls’ room. “Boys always like
Betty.”

“What is that, Cathalina?” asked Betty. “Seems to me I heard my
name.”

“You did. I was just making the wise remark to Philip that boys
always like you.”

“How horrid! That doesn’t sound like you, Cathalina.”

“You don’t know the circumstances. We were planning who was for whom
at our party and I mentioned you for a certain young man and made
that remark. You are always lovely and pretty and the boys do like
you.”

The girls had been having a confab in the rose room in Cathalina’s
absence. Lilian was looking in the mirror to see if the maid’s hair
dressing had been effective. “Oh, Cathalina,” said she, “please tell
me about some of your relatives that will be here. Remember that we
haven’t been here before, like Hilary.”

“You’ll not have such a time as poor Hilary had,” said Cathalina
with a laugh. “She had to meet the whole clan, aunts, uncles and
cousins, at our regular Christmas gathering, and had a great time to
straighten us all out. Campbell insisted on giving her the whole
family history.”

“Probably that was just as well,” said Betty, with meaning.

“Tonight,” continued Cathalina, “there’ll just be the young folks.
Campbell will bring his sisters over, or at least Emily. Sara is
younger. Emily is about a year older than Campbell. Then Louise Van
Ness, who is about Phil’s age, and Nan Van Ness, who is my age, will
be here. Rosalie Haverhill is an old friend of mine, and her brother
Lawrence, who has been attending the same school as Phil, has been
one of his best friends. Oh, yes, Ann Maria Van Ness is the niece of
Uncle and Aunt Knickerbocker, who lives with them. She and Louise
have been great chums, and in the same set of young folks with Phil
and Lawrence. Robert Paget is Phil’s friend, you know, who is coming
today. Phil had a telegram from him not long ago. He’s going to the
station in the car pretty soon to meet him. He and Phil and Campbell
and Lawrence are all in the same fraternity. Ann Maria suggested
another friend of hers and Philip’s, but he had another engagement.
This will be a very informal affair indeed, gotten up on the spur of
the moment, as it were. There’ll not be enough boys to go around, of
course, but we can all have a jolly talk, and I’m going to have a
real party before you leave.”

By this time the girls were on their way downstairs. Philip was in
the hall with some fresh roses just picked, which he proceeded to
give to the girls, saving Lilian’s till the last. He was so
evidently waiting for her that the other girls kept on, out upon the
wide porch with its fine columns, while Philip drew Lilian into the
library, and put the rose in her hair. “I want to show you the gem
of our whole place,” said he; “Dad’s library.” Many, many times in
days to come was Lilian to remember that cool, beautiful room, the
quiet talk with Philip, the rose in her hair and the look in
Philip’s eyes.

They walked around looking at the books, then sat down on the
window-seat to talk, more about the music, of which they were both
so fond, than of the books.

“Your voice, Lilian, is wonderful. It has a quality in it that holds
your audience. You’ve felt it yourself, I suppose.”

“I love it when I can hold them,” replied Lilian, “but I’m usually
not thinking about them, only of what I’m singing.”

“You ought to be studying with some big New York teacher. We have
better teaching right here in America than they have in Europe, and
have had for years, so my professor at school said.”

“Oh, wouldn’t I love to study here!”

“Are you going back to Greycliff after this year?”

“I can’t tell. We all love Greycliff so, but Hilary thinks that her
people may plan for her to go somewhere else, and if our ‘quartette’
is broken up we may not be so crazy about staying. We are going to
have this year together, anyhow.”

“Campbell and I get through college this year. You remember what I
said about the war—when we were in the pine grove at camp?”

“Yes, indeed,” said Lilian soberly.

“Well, we have promised the folks to finish this year at college, if
possible, or at least not to go without their consent if we do get
into the war. And you will write all year to me, won’t you, as you
promised?”

“Oh, yes.”

“There is such a lot of us that I thought I’d better make sure to
remind you. And, Lilian, did you mind what I said about——”

But Lilian did not hear the rest of this remark, for at this point
Mrs. Van Buskirk entered the library and smilingly informed Philip
that he would scarcely have time to reach the station before Robert
Paget’s train arrived. Philip looked at his watch.

“You’re right, Mother! Excuse me, Lilian. I’m trying to persuade
Lilian that she ought to have her voice cultivated right here in New
York,” and Philip dashed off.

While Lilian and Mrs. Van Buskirk were chatting, Cathalina came in.

“I’ve been seeing to the refreshments for tonight, Mother. I believe
you will have to plan for the real party with the housekeeper.”

“Very well. You want something more elaborate, I suppose.”

“Oh, yes; just as elaborate as I can have it.”

“Will it be very formal?” asked Lilian, who was thinking of her
somewhat limited wardrobe. The girls had not taken much to camp
except the regular camp attire.

“Oh, no. The boys would hate it. It is too hot for dress suits. They
can wear their white flannels or palm beach suits or anything they
like. I’ll have Phil call up all the boys and tell them ‘informal.’
There isn’t time to send written invitations ‘with propriety,’ as
Aunt Katherine says, and it will not be such a big party. But I want
to have everybody that we are indebted to, if they are in town.”

“What will the girls wear?”

“Their thin silks or lace and net, or sheer cotton stuffs. Your pink
organdy will be just the thing, or that little silk that you sing
in.”

“I guess I’d better wear the organdy tonight and the silk frock at
the party. How would that do, Mrs. Van Buskirk?”

“Nicely, my dear. Anything that you have at school is quite suitable
for all our occasions.”

“How comfortable and dear your mother is, Cathalina,” said Lilian
after Mrs. Van Buskirk had left the room.

“Yes, isn’t she? And you ought to hear the things she says about
you. I believe she likes you even better than Betty and Hilary, but
I oughtn’t to say that. Her heart is big enough for our whole
quartette. Come on, let’s get the other girls and see what flowers
we can find for the rooms.”

“Imagine your having such lovely roses at this time in the year. How
do you manage it?”

“They have special care, and some of them are from our little
hothouse.”

The four girls were still outdoors when Philip returned with Robert
Paget, and turned to look, as “Pat,” back from Boston, took out two
bags and a suitcase, and three young men stepped out of the car.

“_Three_,” said Cathalina in surprise. “I wonder who the other one
is. That is Robert in the light grey suit.”

“Why, that looks like Dick!” exclaimed Lilian. “It is Dick! How in
the world did Dick——” Lilian started toward the house; then,
recollecting that Dick was not the only young man there, drew back.
The three young men did not see the girls and went up the steps and
into the house.

“Let’s go in and fix the flowers,” said Cathalina, “and by that time
the boys will be downstairs, I think, and Mother will know about it
at least.”

Mrs. Van Buskirk met the girls in the hall. “Why, Lilian,” said she,
“we have a great surprise for you.”

“I saw him,” replied Lilian. “How did it happen?”

“He came to New York on business again, Phil said; did not know that
you were here, and he and Robert Paget were on the same train. Phil
saw him get off just in front of Robert and, as he said, ‘nabbed
him.’”

“He and your father were here while we were in camp, weren’t they?”
said Betty, recalling some news of Lilian’s.

“Yes; for years one of Father’s old friends has been wanting to get
him into a law firm here in New York, and now that Dick is starting
Father is more interested, though he can’t bring himself to leave
the old town.” So Lilian explained to Mrs. Van Buskirk and the
girls. “He always laughs and says ‘Better be a big toad in a small
puddle than a little toad in a big puddle.’”

“I believe your father would be a ‘big toad’ anywhere,” said Mrs.
Van Buskirk. “We enjoyed him so much that time he and Richard were
out for dinner with us.”

“Oh, wouldn’t it be _lovely_ if your people would move to New York!”
exclaimed Cathalina. “Why haven’t you said something about it
before?”

“I never thought of it, because Father never gave us any reason to
think he would do it. And it didn’t occur to me till now that it
might be the reason for this summer’s visits. But I feel
sure—almost—that it must be now that Dick is here again. Perhaps he
will come if Father does not.”

“That makes another young man for tonight!” and Cathalina waved a
hand full of flowers. “Is Dick engaged? Will he be bored at
company?”

“No, to both your questions. Dick likes a good time as well as
anybody. Oh, there he is!”

“Go on down and meet your sister,” said Philip from the landing, and
Robert Paget, who was in the lead, stopped to let Richard North
pass. Dick embraced his sister, and turned to greet Mrs. Van
Buskirk. As by this time the others had reached the foot of the
stairs, general introductions followed.



                             CHAPTER IV

                     THE HOUSE PARTY—CONTINUED


Dinner had been concluded some time ago. The girls were settling
themselves in the swing, or wicker chairs, near one corner of the
veranda.

“Lilian, you look like a rose in that pink organdy,” said Betty.

“That’s sweet of you to say, Pansy Girl.” Betty had sometimes been
called that since she had worn the pansy dress in the masquerade.
“But you look more like forget-me-nots tonight in blue. And
Cathalina is like a lily—lilies of the valley and English violets.”

“My white and coral are not much like violets,” said Cathalina.

“Sweet peas, then. They have every color.”

“What’s Hilary, if we must all be flowers?”

“Oh, Hilary’s all the fresh spring flowers that we are glad to see
in the spring, hyacinths and lilacs and syringas——”

“Fresh! I like that.”

“Don’t try to put a wrong construction on what I say. Heliotrope and
mignonette, that is it.”

“Nonsense,” said Hilary. “I’ll be a sturdy old red geranium that
lasts all the year around, and even if you hang it up by the roots
in the cellar it grows leaves and flowers the next year.”

“All right, Hilary—our little red geranium!” The girls laughed at
this nonsense and looked up in surprise to hear another laugh near
by. Mr. Van Buskirk had come out on the porch and stood leaning
against a pillar behind them.

“If you want my opinion,” said he, “I should say that this is as
pretty a cluster of roses as we ever had at this house, Hilary quite
as blooming as the rest.”

“We thank you,” said Betty, rising and curtseying deeply, while the
rest followed her example.

“Are you expecting company soon?” inquired Mr. Van Buskirk.

“We told them to come early,” said Cathalina. “I think I see
Campbell and Emily now. Do we stay out here or go inside?”

“Out here—why not?” said Philip appearing in the doorway and
sauntering out toward them. “There come the Van Nesses. Come on out,
Bob. Where’s Dick? Oh, here he comes,” added Philip as the rapid
toe-tapping of some one running down stairs was heard, and Richard
North followed Robert and Philip. Mrs. Van Buskirk made her
appearance before Campbell and Emily had reached the top of the
steps. The guests arrived at very nearly the same time and were
cordially greeted. Robert Paget had been there before and knew
Philip’s relatives, but everybody had to be introduced to Richard
North, as well as to his sister and Betty. Mr. and Mrs. Van Buskirk
were particularly interested in meeting Captain Van Horne, of whom
Cathalina had written. Who was this young man who had succeeded in
making an impression on their little girl? He disclaimed the title
of captain as he was introduced, saying that it was only appropriate
when he was a part of the military school organization, but the
Greycliff girls continued to address him as Captain Van Horne.

Campbell’s sister Emily was glad to see Hilary again, and after a
little chat with her, passed her over to Campbell, who, she guessed,
was hoping to have a good visit with her. And as Cathalina was busy
welcoming the different ones, Emily tried to make Captain Van Horne
feel at home by chatting with him. It was like Emily, fine girl that
she was, unconscious of herself and interested in every church and
public or private enterprise to help others. Both were more mature
than the rest of the young people.

“And here’s my dear cousin Philip!” exclaimed Ann Maria, handing her
wrap and scarf to one of the maids who had come out to assist at
this informal affair, and then holding out both hands to Philip.
“Come and give an account of yourself. I’ve scarcely seen you all
summer.”

“Naturally not, my dear young lady, when you have not been within
calling distance. Come and meet our guests.”

Ann Maria Van Ness was as straight as Aunt Katherine, who had
brought her up—graceful, with an assured manner and a handsome,
striking face. Her voice had a pleasant quality and her dress a
style which made Hilary and Lilian feel countrified at once. She
fairly took possession of Philip, and claimed considerable attention
from the other young gentlemen, all without a single unladylike act.

Philip, upon request, brought out his guitar, and the young company
sang the well known songs of the year. When they started the pretty
and sentimental song so familiar, then, among college students, “Why
I Love You,” Lilian’s voice was so beautiful that all with one
accord stopped singing and let Lilian’s soprano and Philip’s tenor
finish the last two stanzas. But Ann Maria was fidgety and
complained of mosquitoes.

“All right; let’s go in, folks,” invited Philip. “Ann Maria, I want
to hear your latest recital number.”

Accordingly, all trooped into the large front room, where Ann Maria
sat down at the piano, dashed off the latest popular tunes and
finally entered the classical realm, playing a difficult composition
exceedingly well.

“She can play well!” exclaimed Hilary, in surprise, to Campbell and
Lilian, with whom she happened to be grouped. Robert Paget was near,
also, and replied, “Yes, but she can not equal Phil. Wait till I get
the old boy started.”

But it was not necessary for Robert to ask Philip. Ann Maria herself
made the request, as she rose from the piano. “I have to get in my
playing before Philly begins,” said his cousin. “Come and give us
your latest composition.”

Philip rather protested, saying, “It is not for the host to play; it
is for the guests.” But, seeing they all wanted to hear him, he took
his place at the baby grand, played the different compositions they
asked for, then placed some music before him and beckoned to
Cathalina. After a few words with Philip, she went over to escort
Lilian to the piano, Philip rose and said, “We promised several of
the family that they shall hear you sing, Lilian. Will you please
come now?”

“Yes, indeed,” replied Lilian, “but when I think of the music you
people can hear in this city, I do hesitate to sing for you.”

“Oh, but we love your voice,” said Cathalina.

Lilian had scarcely ever found it so hard to sing. She knew that
there was at least one listener who was critical, and she felt her
own youth and lack of training. But Lilian was always ready to help
make the social machine run smoothly, and now moved to the piano
with much grace and sweetness. In a few minutes she had forgotten
herself in singing to Philip’s sympathetic and beautiful
accompaniment, and felt that exaltation which often held her and her
hearers as well. A murmur of appreciation greeted her at the end of
the first song and they kept her singing for a while, Philip so
happy and proud, and Mrs. Van Buskirk leaning forward to listen and
watch the flushed face and rapt eyes of the young singer.

Captain Van Horne managed to sit by Cathalina during the music, and
in the intervals between numbers she entertained him by telling
about the people present or their fun at camp, and asked him about
his busy summer.

“My ‘attic’ has been quite warm,” said he, “but I have studied and
read in different cool spots, attended my law classes and have
filled up my time in other ways.”

Cathalina knew that he was doing something to help make his way, but
she did not refer to that. She thought that he looked worn and
wished that she might put a little cheer into his dull days.
Cathalina was learning much sympathy, as she began to realize the
responsibilities that some of her friends had to carry. The old
self-centered little girl that knew nothing of life’s serious
interests had long since disappeared.

Richard North was becoming acquainted with pretty, plump, fair
Louise Van Ness, with Emily, and, of course, with the vivacious Ann
Maria.

Nan Van Ness was the cousin of Cathalina’s age who used to copy Ann
Maria, whom she greatly admired, as younger girls do admire the
older ones sometimes. But Nan, now, had been away to school herself,
and like Cathalina, had become interested in many things on her own
account. She and Betty were having great fun with Lawrence Haverhill
and Robert Paget. Rosalie Haverhill had not come.

It was “a nice party,” as Lilian said to herself, and she wondered
why she could not seem to enjoy it more, for Lilian was a
gay-hearted girl, at the head of most of the fun among her chums at
school. In her heart she knew that it was the relation of Ann Maria
to Phil that troubled her. But she went right on, taking part in all
the visiting and fun. By chance she was with Louise and Ann Maria
when the cooling ices and pretty cakes and fresh fruit were served
and Philip himself waited on both her and Ann Maria, with the same
courtesy to both!

“He is that way with all the girls,” she thought. “His attention to
me hasn’t meant a thing. His ‘musical wife,’ indeed! Ann Maria
plays, and I sing.” Lilian was thinking of Philip’s conversation in
the pine grove at camp, when he “seemed so serious,” spoke of
planning for a musical wife, and first asked her to write to him.
And now jealousy whispered that it had not been earnest. All this
ran through her mind while she talked to the girls, told of their
most thrilling experiences in camp, and laughed with the rest. Ann
Maria did not stay all night, as Cathalina had urged her to do. No,
indeed. She handed her wraps to Philip to put on for her, and Philip
took her home. To be sure, there were others in the car, Campbell,
Emily, Louise and Nan, but Ann Maria sat in front with Phil, who
drove. And Lilian did not know that Philip had asked his mother if
he might not take Lilian, too. “You may, but it isn’t best,” Mrs.
Van Buskirk had answered. “Since all the girls can’t go, you’d
better not ask any of them.”

The days were few for all the good times. There was so much of the
city to be seen, lunches to be taken in odd places, drives here and
there, an entertainment or two on Broadway, a dinner at the
Stuarts’, and as a climax the “real party.” For this, each lass had
a lad, each lad a lass to escort to the tables for the elaborate
meal served by Watta and a capable group of waiters. As Mrs. Van
Buskirk had decided that there would be time to issue invitations,
they had been sent out to all the more intimate circle of
Cathalina’s and Philip’s friends.

Philip insisted that he was to have Lilian. Hilary, of course, was
assigned to Campbell. Their friendship proceeded on its calm and
apparently unsentimental way, but Campbell was there and with Hilary
as much of the time as possible. There was quite a discussion
between Cathalina and her mother about Captain Van Horne.

“Now, Mother dear,” said Cathalina, “if Captain Van Horne is invited
for Emily or Louise, he’ll have to go for her, send her flowers, I
suppose, and he hasn’t any car, and I would be right here, and it
would be all right if he did not think of flowers.”

Her mother laughed. “You are greatly concerned, Cathalina.”

“Indeed I am. I like him, though I like Robert Paget, too. But
Captain Van Horne is older and I think it would be all right for him
to take me out to supper, don’t you? He’s a teacher, too.”

“How would you arrange it, then?”

“Let Bob take Betty, or would it be better to have him take Ann
Maria?”

“Ann Maria would rather have one of our house guests, I think——”

“Since she can’t have Phil,” finished Cathalina.

“Don’t say that, Cathalina.”

“All right, then; Bob for Ann Maria, and Dick for Louise. They can
go for the girls together in our car. Lawrence Haverhill can have
Betty. Oh, yes, I had forgotten; he asked Phil if he might not.”

The girlish guests were quite excited when the fateful night
arrived. Lovely bouquets had arrived for them. “Look at Cathalina!”
said Betty. “With all the flowers she has, she is as excited as any
of us over her roses.”

“Well, who sent them?” asked Cathalina. “Wouldn’t you be excited if
a distinguished officer in a military school sent you flowers?”

“I _am_ excited,” said Lilian, holding to view the most beautiful
roses of all. “And I’m sure nobody could be more gifted than the
young gentleman who sent these.”

“Listen to ’em rave,” said Betty to Hilary in pitying tones. “I
fancy I hear Lilian sing ‘I Dreamt That I Dwelt in Marble Halls.’”

At this Lilian pretended to advance threateningly upon Betty, who
fled behind Hilary. Hilary warded both off, and laughingly warned
them that with their nonsense they might easily spoil all the
bouquets.

“Don’t worry, Hilary, none of us ever really do anything. We just
threaten. I can’t bear any physical nonsense or tricks.”

“Nor I, Lilian,” said Betty.

This social occasion was a much happier one to Lilian than the
first, for while Philip was the attentive and gallant host, each
lady was provided with an especial escort, and he had at last an
opportunity to devote himself to Lilian. But Lilian was an uncertain
quantity since she had observed Ann Maria with Philip. Her gay,
though friendly, manner rather put a damper on any approach to the
sentimental or serious, and she kept to the groups of young friends
with whom they were surrounded. Mrs. Van Buskirk had engaged several
professional musicians, in whose performance Lilian was especially
interested. “You have _everything_, Philip,” she said once, “and you
ought to be thankful!”

“I am,” said Philip, “but I haven’t _everything_ I want. And
sometimes I think I shall have to do without what I want most.”

That speech troubled Lilian for a moment, but just at that point Ann
Maria and Robert Paget came up, with Nan Van Ness and her escort,
and Philip turned a smiling face upon Ann Maria, as he replied to
one of her sallies. “I need not worry about him,” thought Lilian.

As she and Hilary crept into bed late that night, too tired to
sleep, she asked Hilary if Ann Maria were Cathalina’s first cousin.

“Oh, no,” replied Hilary. “I believe her father was a first cousin
of Mrs. Van Buskirk’s. Oh, Lilian, wasn’t it fine to have a maid
pick up after you? I’m getting spoiled in the lap of luxury. It’s a
good thing I’m leaving. How convenient for you, too, that your
brother could stay. I believe he had a good time, and now he can
take you home.”

“Yes, we’ll have a good chat tomorrow on the train and I’ll have a
better chance to find out what he and Father are going to do. Good
night, Hilary.”

“Not so very closely related. Then Phil could marry Ann Maria if
he—they—wanted to.”



                             CHAPTER V

                          IN CLASSIC HALLS


A third year at Greycliff begun! Could it be possible? Where had the
time gone? When the girls thought of their studies, they realized
that there had been hard work enough to account for time, but when
they thought of their frolics! And now they were in the collegiate
classes. After all it was jolly to be a junior collegiate at
Greycliff instead of a college freshman somewhere else. The senior
collegiates were paying them a great deal of attention because of
the society “rushing” which began at once. Most of these girls in
the upper class they knew very well, because they had been senior
academy students when some of our Lakeview corridor girls first
entered as juniors in the academy.

Greycliff was as beautiful as ever, with its ivied buildings, velvet
front campus, its “high hill” back of Greycliff Hall, its beaches,
cliffs, windswept lake and tiny river. A new “Greycliff,” a larger
launch than the one which had been wrecked the previous year, rocked
on the water at the dock, to be raved over by the enthusiastic
girls.

“I’m glad they didn’t change the name, aren’t you?” observed Hilary.
“It’s so appropriate.”

“I don’t know but I’d rather have a new name. It’s hard for me to
forget that time when we were all in the water, and afterward when
we didn’t know whether Dorothy and Eloise would ever come to or
not.”

“Oh, that’s just nerves, Betty. You’ll be all right after your first
ride in this one. Think of bobbing up and down on the lake once
more! I made myself get over it. It’s never going to happen again. I
love the water and I’m going to be in it and on it as much as
possible. Besides I’ve learned to swim so much better at camp this
summer.”

“Yes,” acknowledged Betty, “we feel perfectly at home in water now,
and that would make a difference even in a storm, I suppose.”

“I don’t intend to lose what I’ve gained, either,” added Cathalina.
“I don’t suppose I’ll ever have the endurance that some folks have,
but I can keep active, and, as you say, Betty, be at home in the
water. No matter how heavy my school work is, I’m going to keep in
the swimming classes, either in the lake, river or pool, as they
have them.”

“Now, then,” said Lilian, “doesn’t Betty make a nice mummy? I’ve
even put a pillow for her head.”

“Look out, and don’t get any sand in my eyes,” said Betty, winking,
as Lilian patted the sand around her slender figure. “Now you’ve
gotten my sandal loose,” and the “mummy” wiggled her sandaled feet
free from the sand coverlet and sprang up. “Come on; one more dive
and then we’ll go up and get ready for the Psyche Club meeting.”

The September day had been warm and ideal for beach parties and
swimming. The sandy beach was well occupied by water sprites in
bathing suits of different colors. Classes had closed earlier than
usual that Friday afternoon, to let the girls take advantage of the
unusually warm day so late in September. Miss Randolph herself, and
most of the women teachers, were down, and were having a teachers’
beach party. But it was now almost time for dinner and some of the
parties were beginning to break up.

“If the teachers are having such a big beach party, the dinner will
be light, I’m afraid,” said Lilian, as the girls went up to the
hall.

“You forget the men,” said Isabel Hunt, who had joined them. “They
didn’t have any beach parties, and will be as hungry as we are.
Trust the matron to remember that.”

“Anyhow we are going to have eats at the Psyche Club. We have a
birthday cake for Virgie, you know. You didn’t hint a word to her,
did you, Isabel?”

“Not I, and she has forgotten that we said our first feast would be
in her honor.”

“Don’t be too sure of that. Remember, she said she never had a
birthday celebrated in her life.”

“Well, she thinks we have forgotten, then; nobody has said a word
about her birthday.”

“Yes, there has,” said Betty. “You know she came right on to
Greycliff from camp, and I asked her if they celebrated her
birthday, on the first, you know, and she said that she hadn’t told
anybody about it, so of course nobody did.”

“Oh, they don’t celebrate birthdays at Greycliff!”

“No, but there were several girls here the latter part of the
summer, and I thought perhaps they had had some fun.”

“Anyway, no one has called this a ‘feast,’ and I’m sure she can’t
suspect about the cake.”

“Let’s hope so.”

“What else are you going to have?” asked Isabel.

“Sandwiches and lemonade,” replied Hilary. “They are going to let us
have some ice. And we are going to have ice-cream delivered from
Greycliff Village at exactly eight-thirty, and we have a box of
candy for Virgie. Cathalina had Philip send it. That’s all beside
the cake. We have permission to stay up till ten o’clock if we are
quiet.”

“I think it would be fun if we all gave Virgie something.”

“It might make her feel uncomfortable,” said sensible Hilary. “We
did think of getting some ten-cent store things, just for fun, but
decided not to. Remember how dignified we are getting to
be—collegiates!”

“And we have a lot of business to transact, too. Aren’t we going to
elect officers, and maybe a new member or two?”

“I don’t know, Isabel. For my part I’d rather just have a social
meeting. We might talk things over, of course.”

“Oh, yes, Hilary,” said Betty; “let’s not have any business this
time.”

“Why bother to make any plans at all?” remarked Lilian; “no hurry
about anything.”

“True,” said Hilary; “but we’ve got to straighten up our little
suite before dinner. It’s a sight. We’ve been letting things go all
week in the excitement of getting started in classes and everything
else. Besides we have forgotten how to live at Greycliff. First we
had simple living and taking turns at the little bit we had to do at
camp. Then we had luxury at Cathalina’s with nothing to do, and if
the rest of you were like me at home you did little but scramble
around for some school clothes to wear, and visit with your folks. I
followed Mother around and helped a little, while we talked _all_
the time—so much to tell about the whole summer, and so little time
to tell it in. One morning it was too funny. We had a regular
procession. The maid was away, and I wiped the dishes for Mother and
talked, while Gordon, Tommy, June and Mary were all in the kitchen,
listening and putting in a little occasionally, especially June
about camp. Then, when we went in another room, they all followed,
and when Mother and I went out into the yard to hang up a few towels
to dry, Father saw us, coming out in line, and nearly perished with
mirth.”

“Imagine the dignified Dr. Lancaster’s ‘perishing with mirth’!” said
Isabel.

“That was poetic exaggeration,” admitted Hilary.

After dinner and the usual stroll outdoors till darkness fell and
the bell for study hours rang, the Psyche Club began to gather in
the suite occupied by Cathalina and Betty, Hilary and Lilian, for
there was the same arrangement which had been made the year before.
Juliet Howe, Pauline Tracy, Eloise Winthrop and Helen Paget, also,
were together. Isabel Hunt and Avalon Moore had moved into a suite
with Virginia Hope and Olivia Holmes, but Isabel and Virginia roomed
together, and Avalon was with Olivia. Whether Virginia and Olivia
should now be taken into the Psyche Club was a question to be
settled. Evelyn Calvert, who had been with the girls at camp, was
invited to this gathering, but Helen Paget was to go after her, and
Isabel was to bring the other girls at the proper time.

“Are we all here?” asked Hilary at last. “Let’s have a brief
business meeting and get the elections over. What do you say,
girls?”

“All right,” came from various quarters, and the president tapped
for order.

“Has the nominating committee a report?”

“Yes, Madam President,” replied Isabel, its chairman. “We offer the
names of Cathalina Van Buskirk for president and Lilian North for
secretary and treasurer.”

“How shall we elect the officers? Are there any other names
suggested? Sit down, Cathalina and Lilian. Nobody can refuse an
office in the Psyche Club except when in—incapacitated!”

“I move that we elect by acclamation.”

“Is this motion seconded?”

“I second the motion.”

“It has been moved and seconded that Cathalina and Lilian be
president and secretary, respectively. Any remarks? If any one has
anything to say let him say it now or else forever after hold his
peace!—except Cathalina or Lilian; they can’t say anything till
afterward.”

The girls were all laughing at this high-handed proceeding.

“All in favor say ‘Aye!’” A chorus of “Ayes” responded.

“All opposed, ‘No.’” Silence.

“Cathalina and Lilian are unanimously elected.”

“We will now regard the place where Cathalina is as the ‘chair.’ My
place is too comfortable to give to anybody.”

Cathalina gave smiling thanks to the girl for her “high honor,” and
suggested that remarks about election of members were in order if
some one would make a motion.

“I move, Madam President, that, considering our experience last
year, we do not elect any members until their sentiments toward the
Psyche Club be sounded out.”

“Hear, hear!” said Eloise. “I think that Isabel’s idea is good. Do
you remember how we felt when Dorothy and Jane refused?”

“There were special influences there, and we might have known!”

“That’s so, Lilian. Did we ever tell you how we appreciated your
being the victim?”

“Oh, I didn’t mind asking them, and I tried to take it gracefully.
Shall we try to get them this year?”

“I was sure they hated to refuse, so let’s wait and see if they are
as intimate with that other crowd as they were last year. And when
the invitations are out for the collegiate literary societies it may
make a difference, too.”

“How about Virginia and Olivia and Evelyn? I think it would be
lovely to invite them tonight if we are going to do it.”

“Does anybody know how they feel about it?”

“I should say we do!” said Isabel and Avalon in one breath. “Of
course they haven’t _said_ a thing about it, but we can tell by
looks and little remarks about the pins or compliments to you girls
that they would be tickled to death if we asked ’em.” This was
Isabel who spoke. “_I’m_ sure that we’ll be proud to have Virginia
wear our pin, and while Olivia isn’t quite so good a student, she is
a sweet, generous girl. Is there anybody that doesn’t like her?”
Isabel looked around the circle, while the girls shook their heads.

“This is all out of order, girls,” said the new president. “There is
no motion before the house! And Isabel’s motion, which was not
seconded, was negative so I can’t put it.”

“I move, Madam President,” said Isabel, very formally, “that we
elect the guests who are coming tonight.”

“I second the motion.”

Cathalina put the motion and it was carried, the girls mentioning
the names of Olivia, Virginia, and Evelyn Calvert. “Go for them,
girls,” said Cathalina, “and spread the feast. Won’t it be fun?”

“Hurry up, Hilary, and get the cake out in the middle of the table.
Where are the candles?”

“In it, Betty. Isn’t it a beauty? Virginia’s name in red cinnamon
drops just like the kiddies at camp!” The sandwiches were set out,
the ice fixed in the lemonade, and by that time the guests were
heard coming down the hall and excited voices drew nearer.

“Who do you suppose is here?” cried Isabel, leading the way, and
ushering in Diane Percy, while the other guests, all smiles, waited
in the doorway.

“Diane!”

“Diane!”

“The other sweet P!”

“Why, Diane! You never told me you were coming!” cried Helen Paget.
“My darling ‘Imp’!”

Virginia and Olivia were the only ones who would not have understood
who Diane was, and it had been explained to them on the way, as with
Isabel they had met Evelyn, Diane and Pauline. They were much amused
to hear that Diane and Helen had been dubbed the “Imps” by some
offended collegiates in their first year at Greycliff and had also
been known as the sweet P’s—Percy and Paget.

After Diane had been duly embraced and welcomed, Cathalina called
the girls to order for a moment and they dropped where they were,
either into chairs or on the floor. Cathalina had had a brilliant
thought, and explaining that she had a Psyche Club message to
deliver which would not be a secret but for a few moments, she
called Betty to her, whispered a moment, something which made Betty
laugh and wave her hand in approval. Betty then made the rounds of
the members, whispered a question, which was answered in every case
with a fervent “Yes, indeed!” and returned to Cathalina with the
report, announced publicly: “Your question, O most worthy President,
is answered in the affirmative by every member of the club.”

“So be it,” said Cathalina. “Dear guests of the Psyche Club, a short
time before you were summoned a motion was presented and passed
electing _our guests_ to membership in the Psyche Club. I have the
honor, then, to ask Miss Olivia Holmes, Miss Virginia Hope, Miss
Evelyn Calvert and Miss Diane Percy if they will join us.”

The girls enjoyed the surprised and happy expressions of Virgie and
Olivia. Diane had not heard of the Psyche Club, but rose and said,
“Whatever that club may be, beloved sisters, I am yours. Oh, isn’t
this fun? Girls, I don’t see how I stood it not to come back last
year!”

Evelyn told the girls that she had been aching for one of the
butterfly pins, to say nothing of the honor of belonging to the
club. Virgie and Olivia expressed their pleasure in a modest way,
and Cathalina rapped for order again.

“There is one more happy event which I have the pleasure to
announce. Part, indeed a great part, of this celebration is in honor
of the birthday of one of our number.” Here the guests were
wondering whose it was. “The day itself is past, but we were not
here to celebrate it, so we are having a little spread in honor of
Miss Virginia Hope. Minions, bring forward the banquet table!”
Hilary and Betty were the minions who carried the table from behind
a screen to the middle of the floor.

Virginia blushed deeply and stood dumbly while this was done, then
lit the tapers as she was told. The girls joined hands and sang the
camp birthday song as they circled around Virgie and the birthday
cake. “Oh, it’s perfectly lovely of you! I’ll never get over it!”
Isabel pretended to support her when the box of candy was presented
by Lilian, and then the girls settled down to the joys of eating and
talking, both of which they seemed to be able to do at the same
time.

Eloise looked a bit sober. Lilian said afterward that she thought
she saw tears in her eyes, and wondered why. But she soon brightened
up and took her plate over close to Diane, where she sat down. As
soon as she had opportunity, she said to Diane, “You used to room
with Helen, you know, and I have been waiting to get a chance to
tell you that I’ll not stand in your way. _I’m_ sure that Miss
Randolph can arrange something for me, and you can have your place
with Helen back. I suppose we can’t do it tonight, but just as soon
as it can be arranged.”

“Aren’t you a dear!” exclaimed Diane. “It is just like you, Eloise,
but I wouldn’t _think_ of letting you do it. It is all arranged, my
dear girl. My trunk was just brought up to Evelyn’s room tonight.
She and I, with Dorothy Appleton and Jane Mills, have a suite
together.”

“Dorothy Appleton and Jane Mills!” exclaimed Eloise.

“Why do you exclaim over that?”

“Nothing, only—I’ll tell you some time. They are fine girls—and,
Diane, it is lovely of you to let me stay with Helen.”

“I wanted to surprise Helen, so I did not write to anybody except to
Evelyn after Miss Randolph suggested this arrangement. I’ve known
Evelyn for a long time, though we were not very chummy that first
year, and we shall be as happy as can be. You see I did not know
whether I could come this year or not, and did not dare make
arrangements till I was sure.”

Diane told Helen and some of the other girls about Eloise’s intended
sacrifice, and Cathalina happened to repeat the story to Miss
Randolph in one of her talks with her; for Miss Randolph never
forgot to have an occasional visit with the niece of her firm
friend, Katherine Knickerbocker. Not long afterward, Miss Randolph
gave her first monthly address to the girls in the chapel. She had
chosen as her subject “Heroines,” and in the course of her remarks
referred to a girl who was willing to give up her cherished place in
one of the best suites in school for the happiness, as she thought,
of two friends. “A girl who does any act, great or simple, which
requires courage and unselfishness, physical or spiritual, is a
heroine. We want our girls to get so into the habit of doing the
brave, noble thing, and of making the higher choice, that nothing
else will ever occur to them. We want to train heroines in
Greycliff!”



                             CHAPTER VI

                         A LITTLE “RUSHING”


“Mercy sakes!” exclaimed Lilian, putting her books upon the table
and inviting Isabel and Pauline to take seats by a wave of her hand.
Cathalina, Betty, Hilary, Olivia and Eloise entered at the same
time.

“Here’s Cathalina wanting me to take a duty in the Latin Club,”
continued Lilian, “Hilary rooting for the French Club, Isabel for
the Dramatic Club, everybody for the Collegiate Glee Club, to say
nothing of the collegiate orchestra and the literary societies, if
we get invited. I see what is ahead of me. When I am going to get
time for mere studies is a question!”

“Nonsense, Lilian,” said Pauline, “you don’t have to prepare much
for these clubs. The glee club practice and the different meetings
only come at times when we’d be visiting or fooling around outdoors.
The glee club will be adorable, and the girls always give one
concert at Greycliff Village, and perhaps we are going to the
military school this year, and to Highlands, too.”

“Listen!” said Lilian. “I have two hours of practice every day, two
lessons in voice a week, and one in violin.”

“So have I,” said Eloise, “only it is piano instead of violin.”

Lilian went on without paying any attention to the remark of Eloise.
“I have three hours of recitation on Mondays, Wednesdays and
Fridays, two hours on Tuesdays and Thursdays, Lab. on Saturdays,
beside swimming, riding and any other athletics in which I may wish
to indulge.”

“You need a printed schedule, Lilian, worked out to every five
minutes of your time,” said Isabel.

“Worked out to seconds,” insisted Lilian. “I’ll have to take my
books to the table.”

“And what would Miss Randolph do to you?”

“Indeed, what wouldn’t she?”

“Oh, Lilian, you are just having the usual brainstorm that girls
have when they think of their work all together. I have one every
fall, regularly,” said Hilary. “You’ll work it out. Put the work on
your lessons first, and if you have to neglect anything, miss an
occasional practice hour or one of the society meetings, or some of
the athletics. I’m not going to play basketball this year.”

“Oh, Hilary!” came in dismay from Pauline. “When we have so good a
chance to beat the academy with you in the team these two years!”

“Well, I’ll see. I haven’t decided surely, but it does _not_ look as
if I’d have time.”

“How do you work out a schedule?” asked Olivia. “You girls always
seem to get along so well, and last year I’d forget and get behind.”

“Take Lil’s work, for instance,” said Hilary. “Monday’s lessons have
to be attended to on the week end. I usually get in a little work on
Friday afternoon, sometimes study a while before society meeting
that evening. Saturday isn’t a very successful day in lessons. You
always think that you will get so much done, but there are things
about your room and clothes to see to. I always ‘mend and things’ on
Saturday, as Jane says. But there is some time, and study hours in
the evening. Sunday I absolutely rest, and visit, in the afternoon,
and write letters home. Then I get up early on Monday, look over
lessons and get in what study I can in between classes. Probably
Lilian can get ahead a little on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Her Monday
evening will account for the two recitations of Tuesday, and so will
the Wednesday evening take care of Thursday. I try to read ahead in
the language courses whenever I have the next day’s lessons
prepared, so that I’m not rushed to death at the end of the week.”

“Don’t you ever study a bit on Sunday?”

“Not a bit, Olivia, and I get along all the better. Miss Randolph
doesn’t want us to, any more than Father and Mother at home, and I’m
always thankful that there is one day when I don’t feel I ought to
be studying every minute!”

“I never feel that way,” laughed Olivia.

“But Sunday is always a busy day at home with church doings, and I
used to feel a lot of responsibility. That is why they sent me away
to school, so I’d have a chance like other girls. I liked it,
though.”

“Will you help me make out a schedule, Hilary?” asked Olivia.

“Indeed I will. Just go and get your list of studies and we’ll do it
now.”

“I can just see Hilary, the handsome, grey-eyed, brilliant Hilary,
as the future instructor of youth—can’t you?” said Pauline, her own
grey eyes shining affectionately upon Hilary as she pushed back her
black locks and settled her plump self more comfortably in her
chair.

“I could,” replied Lilian, “if there were not other indications.”

“Oh, yes!” said Pauline; “that mysterious Eastern youth of whom we
have had an inkling. But Hilary distinctly said in her first year at
Greycliff that she did not think of marrying. And, speaking of
marriage, I wonder when Dr. Norris and Miss West are going to be
married.”

“By the way, Lilian,” said Cathalina, “the reason I want you girls
to help in the next Latin Club program is that Patty has to get it
up and said she wished we would help her.”

“That changes it,” said Lilian promptly. “Of course I’ll help.”

“The time till Christmas is always the hardest,” said Cathalina,
“because the studies are new, I guess, and there is so much to
start. I’m doubling on Latin again, Vergil to Patty and De
Senectute, as you know, to Dr. Carver. But I’m beginning to get the
hang of Latin poetry and can find the adjective six or seven lines
away from the noun, or the verb any old place, just as easily as
putting together a puzzle. And _I’d_ love Cicero’s essay, if it were
not for Dr. Carver.”

“We’ll all be together at last in her class,” said Hilary.

“Lovely thought,” said Isabel. “Oh, to be a junior collegiate and
sit with the rest of you before the gentle Dr. Carver! Honestly,
though, I’m just beginning to think how awful it will be here when
you girls are through. Maybe I won’t stay.”

“Don’t think about it yet, Isabel, we’re here still.”

“The collegiate society invitations are to be out today or tomorrow,
they say,” said Pauline.

“They will be soon, I’m sure, for the dear senior girls have just
been living here for the last few days.”

“Not quite that, Lilian,” said Betty.

“Almost. In fact, this is the longest time outside of study hours
that _I’ve_ been in the suite without at least one of them. There!
That is probably one of them now.”

But it was only Juliet, who was lonesome in her suite and came to
see where her girls were, this, naturally, being the first place to
be thought of. “What is this?” she asked. “Anything special?”

“No,” replied Eloise. “We’re just visiting. Where’s Helen?”

“Around somewhere with Diane and Evelyn, or was when I came
upstairs.”

“We were just talking about the senior-junior societies and the
rushing,” said Betty.

“It is too killing for words.”

“Oh, don’t say that. It is very flattering when they want you. I
don’t think that the girls are hypocritical, as Jane Mills says.
They really want you to join their particular society, and if they
rather overdo the attentions it is real pleasant anyway.”

“Wait till some of them won’t speak to you if you join the other
society,” said Isabel.

“How do you know that?” inquired Betty.

“Watched ’em last year and year before. I believe that each girl in
a society thinks the girls in the rival societies will scarcely get
into heaven!”

“Oh, Isabel!”

“I’ll probably feel that way, too, if I ever get into one. Whatever
one you girls go into I’m going to join, if I get a chance when I’m
a junior collegiate!”

“Wouldn’t it be dreadful if some of us would be invited for one and
some for the other!”

“Why, then we needn’t join any!”

“That wouldn’t do, I’m afraid,” said Hilary; “but what do you think
about not worrying till the time comes?”

“Sensible idea,” said Juliet.

At that point in the conversation there came a knock upon the door.
It was one of the senior girls, and Lilian gave a little glance at
Hilary, as if to say, “You see that we are not left alone long.”

The visitor gave a comprehensive glance around the room to see who
were there and said, “This is good—I’m saved a visit to your suite,
girls, and you can tell Helen Paget for me. Why, we—some of us are
having a little get-acquainted party tonight and are inviting some
of the junior collegiates to come. We have permission, and the party
will begin at eight-thirty. You will all come, won’t you?”

“That is lovely of you,” said Cathalina; “is it in your suite?”

“Oh, yes—silly of me not to say. Be sure to come.”

“Can’t you sit down and visit a while?” asked Lilian, naughty girl
that she was.

“I can’t this time, but I may drop in later in the day,” and the
visitor departed.

“She is really a dear,” said Cathalina, “but I think she was a
little embarrassed.”

“They ought to have sent that friend of Myrtle’s. _She_ wouldn’t
have been embarrassed and would have had a separate and definite
acceptance from every one of you before she thought of leaving.” So
said Isabel.

“Oh, does that girl belong to this society?”

“The same.”

“Mercy, what a drawback!”

“But she’s a g-r-e-a-t worker for her society.”

“What are we going to do, girls? Won’t it seem like pledging
ourselves if we go to this feast?”

“Better not go, unless you really like this crowd best,” said
Isabel.

And Isabel had scarcely ceased speaking when two more visitors
arrived. But the girls adopted a different plan of action. After
greeting these girls, and pretty, bright girls they were, the girls
kept chatting as if they were entertaining each other and the
visitors, and the latter had no chance to deliver the invitation
with which they, too, had come, until as they left they drew
Cathalina and Hilary to the door and gave an invitation similar to
the one which the girls had had before.

“What did you say, Cathalina? Did they insist on an acceptance?”

“I think that they knew we had had the other invitation, and they
urged us a lot to come, but they did not insist on our saying we
would. We thanked them and said we would let them know before
evening. I guess we’ll have to decide where we are going now, unless
we go to both parties for a short time.”

“Wouldn’t that be a joke?—but it wouldn’t do, and we must decide.
But it is a funny thing to do before the invitations are out,” said
Hilary.

“I think that the first party was arranged to get you acquainted
with their girls and half bound to join, and then the others found
it out and arranged a party, too.”

“It is very flattering, Isabel, and looks as if we were being
considered by both societies.”

“Dear me, Cathalina, this isn’t the first that you have noticed
that, I hope. Olivia, do you suppose any glory will reach us from
being associated with such popular companions?”

“I don’t know. I feel terribly left out not to be in the same
literary society with them. And look at the party that we are going
to miss!”

Hilary, who had begun to look over Olivia’s list and to consider a
schedule of recitations and study hours, looked up to say that while
she was busy the other girls ought to think out what to do about the
invitations. Betty pretended to tear her hair. The starry-eyed
Eloise struck an attitude and stared into the distance with a fixed
gaze. Juliet put her elbows on the table, rested her head on her
fists and closed her eyes. Pauline in tragic tones cried, “Send for
Helen, Evelyn and Diane!” Cathalina did nothing but laugh at the
other girls, and Isabel volunteered to go for the missing girls.

“That isn’t a bad idea, a full council of war, because it makes more
difference, our being separated, though of course there are lovely
girls in both societies,” said Cathalina. “We may feel as Isabel
says we shall after we are in the societies, but I hope we shall not
lose _all_ our common sense.”

When the three girls arrived, Betty with pencil and paper went the
rounds, asking each girl two questions, “Which society do you
prefer?” and “Which society has been rushing you?” Of Diane, Evelyn
and Helen, who had been absent when the invitations were delivered,
given, indeed, only to the members of the two suites, Betty asked,
“Have the girls of either society asked you to a feast?”

“Helen is included with us,” said Eloise.

“That is so. How about you and Diane, Evelyn, and Dorothy and Jane?”

“We all were invited to a party tonight by some of the Whittier
society.”

“Hurrah,” said Betty, “that settles it! Which tried first to get us
to commit ourselves?—the Emerson crowd. The Whittiers just asked us
in self-defense. Listen!” Betty read the names of the girls and the
answers to the questions. Several had no preference. Those who had
expressed themselves were for the Whittier society.

“But what shall we do about the parties?” asked Hilary, handing over
a completed schedule to the grateful Olivia. “We were asked first to
the Emerson party. I don’t see that we can go to either.”

“If we don’t go to either, they may both be disgusted with us and
not send invitations to any of us,” said Diane.

“All right; let ’em,” said Betty.

“The lady or the tiger?” said Isabel.

“We might send a nice little note to each, saying that we were
embarrassed by having two invitations for the same time, and that in
view of the circumstances, it seemed best not to accept
either—something like that—although we appreciated being asked, and
knew what a good time we should have.” This was Pauline’s
suggestion.

“Polly, that wouldn’t do at all. In fact I don’t see what on earth
we can do!” This was Eloise. “Cathalina, appeal to Miss Randolph.”

“No, don’t bother her with it!” exclaimed Juliet. “We ought to work
it out ourselves. I have it—have Patty call a meeting of the Latin
Club. There’s the dinner bell! What _are_ we going to do?”

“What is the reason you can’t accept your first invitation? That
would be considered fair,” said Olivia.

“Don’t you see, Olivia? If we go, they will consider that we are
pledged to them, or at least it will make it very awkward, after
accepting their hospitality and all.”

“Whatever we do has to be decided on right after dinner. Everybody
think it over, please,” said Betty. “There’s no hope in Patty,
because there never would be a Latin Club meeting at that time.”

What the girls would have done will never be known, for the matter
was settled for them in an unexpected way by Miss Randolph herself.
At the close of dinner she rose and announced a practice of the
Collegiate Glee Club from eight-thirty to nine-thirty. “This will
shorten your study hours,” said she, “but was made necessary by some
arrangements of your leader. I am sorry that it will interfere with
some social matters about which I was asked, but they can be held
just as well on tomorrow night, and the glee club meeting tonight is
important.”

Not a glance was exchanged among our girls, and it was the
prospective hostesses that came to them, expressing their regrets at
having their plans upset. Not a word of extending the invitations
until the next night.

“There won’t be any feasts until they celebrate with the people who
accept their invitations,” said Isabel later.

“I’m so relieved!” exclaimed Cathalina. “Someway, I hate anything
uncomfortable, and they all have been so kind. So far as I am
concerned, I think it’s very good of them to want me, and if we can
get through this time without offending any of the girls I think it
is much better.”

“One thing was funny about it,” said Isabel, “Miss Randolph’s saying
that the ‘social affairs’ could be held just as well tomorrow night.
Little did she realize the importance of having them the night
before the invitations came out.”



                            CHAPTER VII

                       DECISIONS AND LETTERS


The Glee Club practice was a great success. Voices had been “tried
out” previously, and the girls whose singing was up to the
requirement were happy, beginning to look forward to the trips which
they hoped to have.

“Personally,” said Hilary, “I think that the trip to Grant Academy
is a myth. There hasn’t been any since I’ve been here, and I haven’t
any idea that Miss Randolph will let us go. Of course, we could give
a little entertainment at one of the churches in Greycliff Village.”

“I forgot to tell you what Miss Randolph said to me,” said
Cathalina. “I went in to see if she thought I’d better go into the
Glee Club, and she said she thought I’d enjoy it. I asked her if we
were to have any trips and she smiled as if she had been asked that
before! Then she said that she thought we should have a big concert
here and invite the academy boys and teachers over, also the
Greycliff Village people. We’d charge a small admission fee.”

“I thought that she wouldn’t want us to go there,” said Betty.

“Why not?” asked Avalon.

“Oh, just the idea of girls going to give an entertainment in a
boys’ school. But we are going to the military reception, I guess.
That is different. We are their guests and will be chaperoned
properly by our dear teachers, you know.”

“I can’t see the difference,” said Avalon. “We’d be chaperoned all
right if we gave our entertainment.”

“Surely we would. Oh, I don’t know why it is different, but it is.”

Society lines were forgotten as the notes of the first chorus filled
the chapel where they practiced this time. The sopranos reached
their high notes successfully, and the altos came in at the proper
place. Opponents in the Emerson and Whittier societies sang
peacefully from the same sheet of music. And on the morrow there
were delivered to sundry suites and various individuals the senior
society invitations!

The girls were almost afraid to inquire about whether their friends
had received invitations or not. There was little said publicly, but
much discussion in private in regard to what action to take, and on
the part of those who had received two invitations, which of the two
rival societies to choose.

There was a solemn conclave in the suite where Cathalina sat
considering, with two invitations on her lap, and the other
suite-mates, similarly engaged, were in different parts of the room.
Hilary was in the window seat looking out of the window and was just
remarking that she did not want to decide finally till she heard
about some of the other girls, when Eloise came in and said, “What
are you girls going to do about the societies?”

“Just thinking it over, Eloise,” replied Lilian. “What invitations
did you girls receive?”

“Helen and I got both of them, but Pauline and Juliet only had
invitations from the Whittiers. It was funny, because they invited
us all to their party, you know.”

“You never can tell why girls do things, or don’t do ’em,” remarked
Betty.

“Why, Betty, how can you so malign your sex!”

“‘Varium et mutabile semper femina,’” quoted Hilary. “But Vergil
must have had some unfortunate love affair if he thought woman a
‘fickle and changeable thing.’”

“Women do change their minds,” said Betty, “but that is much better
when you find you were wrong than to stick to your old first
opinion, right or wrong. Mother had a funny experience with a
dentist who wanted to pull a tooth which she wanted to save. She had
him almost persuaded, she thought, but he said, ‘You wouldn’t want
me to go back on what I said I wouldn’t do, would you?’ ‘Not for the
world,’ said she, and went to another dentist who saved the tooth
all right.”

“Do you consider him an example of his sex?” said Lilian with a
laugh.

“No, not really, I guess. Still, I don’t know but you’d find as many
stubborn men as fickle women.”

“I don’t think you can put them all in a class like that,” observed
Eloise. “I know stubborn girls and fickle boys.”

“Let’s hurry up and decide on the society affairs, and leave our
wise considerations about the human race till another time.”

“All right, Hilary,” said Betty. “Do you know, Eloise, about Evelyn
and Diane?”

“Helen has just gone down to see what happened there. I think she’ll
be back in a minute.”

“All of us were invited by the Whittiers,” said Hilary. “I like them
best, anyhow.”

“There’s Helen now, I think,” said Eloise. “Come in.”

Helen and Diane entered. “Having a debate?” asked Diane.

“Not much of a debate. We were wondering how it was with your
suite.”

“The funniest thing—Dorothy and Jane are invited by the Emersons and
not by the Whittiers, and Evelyn and I by the Whittiers and not by
the Emersons. So that splits us up.”

“Again I remark that we all are invited by the Whittiers, and that I
like them the best,” said Hilary.

“The respective merits of the two societies do not seem to have much
to do with our decision, do they?” contributed Lilian.

“No, Lilian,” replied Hilary, “for the very good reason that both
societies do good work in a literary way, have good programs and
work hard on the annual debate. I always thought that the Whittiers
have a more solid class of girls as a rule. The Emersons take in a
lot of social butterflies——”

“Be careful how you say ‘butterflies,’ Hilary. Remember the Psyche
Club!”

“That’s a different kind of butterfly, Betty. But I was going to say
that they have a larger number always and probably average up with
as much real talent. So the main thing to me is to be with you
girls. If there is any rivalry, I want to be on the same side as the
rest of you.”

“We’ll get along all right with Dorothy and Jane—we’ll just leave
society discussions out!”

“Oh, yes, Diane; it isn’t so terribly important, after all.”

The girls of the two suites, then, with Diane and Evelyn, were among
those who decided on the Whittier Society. Their acceptances were
received with great joy, there was much coming and going of senior
collegiate girls, and great plans were made for the initiation. It
was all very different from the starting of the Shakespearean
Society in the academy the year before. Now they were among the
older girls of the school, intimates of the senior collegiates,
putting up their hair and wearing the same styles! And on the day of
the society decision, Cathalina received two interesting letters,
one on the Grant Academy stationery and the other, big and fat,
inscribed in a dashing masculine hand. They came on the afternoon
mail, which the girls received too late to read before they made
ready for dinner, and after that meal there was great silence and
reading of letters in the suite.

“If I had known what mail awaited little me,” said Cathalina, “I
would not have been able to stay away so long before dinner.”

“But we had such a good time on the beach,” said Betty, opening her
second letter. “I’m dying to know from whom that fattest letter
came.”

“So am I,” added Lilian, mischievously. “I don’t seem to recognize
the handwriting.”

Cathalina’s mouth curved into a smile as she read on. “Don’t worry,
I’ll tell you,” said she. “There is no secret. I didn’t recognize
the writing, either, though _I’ve_ seen it often enough.”

“I know who it is, then,” said Betty—“Bob Paget, because he would
write to Phil.”

“Go to the head, Betty. It’s Bob; such a nice, friendly letter! And
he is telling me all about their doings at college, things I can’t
pry out of Phil!”

“Isn’t it funny about brothers?” remarked Betty, not expecting a
reply.

“They won’t take time to write you in detail,” said Lilian, “and
when you are with them at home it is old to them. But we used to
hear some good tales from Dick.”

“Yes, we do, too,” acknowledged Cathalina, “but Phil never took the
pains to write me a long letter like this.”

“Of course not,” said Betty. “But look at that long one that Lilian
has. _I’m_ perfectly sure that it is from Mr. Philip Van Buskirk,
Junior.”

Lilian began on another sheet, putting out her hand in protest at
Betty.

“Shh-sh, girls,” immediately said Betty; “it’s getting serious. She
can’t be interrupted!”

“You crazy Betty,” exclaimed Lilian, turning a laughing face on the
girls. “Hilary, come to the rescue!” But Hilary was deep in a letter
of her own and looked up upon hearing her name with such a dazed
expression that Cathalina and Betty were all the more amused.

“Can’t you see, Lilian, that Hilary doesn’t even know what we are
talking about. She is back on the shores of the blue Kennebec with
Campbell. Probably the boys all decided to get their letters written
up and went at it at the same time.”

“That was it,” said Cathalina. “I can just see Bob coming in and
hear him say, ‘Writing letters to the girls, boys? _I’ll_ have to
write to poor Cathalina.’”

“That is a very fine theory, Miss Van Buskirk!” said Betty, opening
a letter from home.

“Wait till you get a letter from Donald,” said Cathalina. “Then
we’ll see what remarks the rest of us can make.”

“All right,” said Betty. “Have you opened your letter from the
academy?”

Then Cathalina did blush a little, having hoped that the note from
Captain Van Horne would escape comment. “Not yet,” she said.

“I’m horrid,” said Betty, repentantly. “It isn’t even polite to make
such personal remarks. My good spirits do carry me away!”

“You’re forgiven,” said Cathalina, “on condition that you let us
read on in peace.”

Silence descended on the room for a space. Then Lilian rose and went
into the bedroom which she shared with Hilary. Betty remarked that
she was going to hunt up Diane and left. Cathalina asked Hilary if
she would like to read “Bob’s letter,” and passed it over. Hilary
read and commented. “He writes a good letter, doesn’t he? It is full
of fun, but very well expressed. I like Robert Paget. Did you ever
wonder whether he were not related to Helen?”

“I never even thought of the names being the same. Isn’t that just
like me?”

“I hadn’t thought of it till I got back to school and saw Helen
again. But I have forgotten to ask her.”

“They are not from the same place, but are both from the South and
might easily be cousins. Helen hasn’t any brother, I think. I never
heard her mention one, at least; but I pay so little attention
sometimes to family relations that she might have half a dozen
relatives that I wouldn’t know about.”

“My letter was from Campbell,” said Hilary. “The college news in it
is about covered by the news in this of Bob’s. Shall I let Lilian
read Bob’s letter?” Lilian had just come out to join them, after
reading Philip’s letter once more all by herself!

“Oh, this is a lovely letter. Phil’s news was about the same, but he
had heard from my brother and was rejoicing, very kindly, about the
North decision to go to New York.”

“Really, Lilian?” asked Cathalina, in delight.

“Yes, I just read more about it in Mother’s letter. I can’t believe
it! But Mother says that Father has actually decided to leave the
old town. It is largely on Dick’s account. Father and Dick will go
into the firm with Father’s old friend. That means an established
law business, of course.”

“When will they go?”

“Mother says that Father wants to hurry it up now, after waiting so
many years, and she has no peace about taking their time to go over
everything from attic to cellar, as she wants to do. Father says
‘make a clearance,’ and she has already begun on the attic, where
there is everything stored, from Dick’s cradle and my high chair to
stacks of all the magazines from the year One.”

The girls were listening with great interest, Cathalina especially
delighted at the thought of having Lilian in New York. “Think of it,
Lil! You can have all kinds of music lessons and hear the things you
like and we can be together so much. I wish you were coming to New
York, too, Hilary.”

But Hilary was not feeling left out. She always rejoiced in the good
fortune of others. Besides, wasn’t Campbell in Cathalina’s family?
This last letter of a young man who was at least a very firm friend.
“No telling,” said she. “Remember that I’m the daughter of a
minister, and there isn’t any telling where we may go!”

“What else did your mother say?” asked Cathalina of Lilian.

“Not much more about New York, only that she hoped they could find
comfortable quarters without much trouble. Poor Mother! I ought to
be home to help look over things with her. But she will hire plenty
of help for the hard work. She says that Father wants to be settled
in New York by Christmas. I don’t know what to think of that. I’m
crazy to go to live there, but I didn’t expect not to be able to say
goodbye to the folks in the old town.”

“Goodbyes are awful,” said Cathalina. “You can visit them. Why, this
just takes my breath with joy. Come on, let’s go and celebrate and
tell the girls or something. The bell hasn’t rung for study hours.”

“Oh, it won’t be time for that for a long while,” said Hilary. “Wait
till I see if there’s anybody in the other suite, and if they are
out we’ll go and hunt up Betty and Diane.”

There was no one at home in the suite mentioned. Hilary, Lilian and
Cathalina flew down the stairs and out upon the broad stones of the
big porch. “I see them,” said Hilary, “walking up toward the little
wood, look.”

Diane, Evelyn, Betty and Helen were together. “Hoo-hoo!” called
Hilary, and the girls stopped. “We want to tell you the latest
news,” said Cathalina, a little out of breath. “The Norths are going
to move to New York, and I’ve just been wondering, too, Helen, if
one of the friends that my brother brings home once in a while is
not related to you. He lives in Richmond and his name is Robert
Paget. I don’t know why I was so stupid not to connect the names
before.”

“Bob Paget of Richmond? Well, I should think we are related, only
first cousins!”

“Good. You should have been at our house party. I wanted to have all
you other girls that were at camp as it was, but the automobile trip
and the size of the car limited it this time. We’ll have another
one.”

“You need not make any apologies, Cathalina. We all understood how
it was. I haven’t seen anything of Robert for some time, but they
say that he is quite a fine fellow.”

“I had such a bright letter from him today. He is at college with my
brother and cousin, you know, and is a great chum of my brother’s.
And here we are just finding it out! I’ll let you read the letter
when we go back.”

“All right, I’d love to see it. By the way, when do you suppose the
societies will have their initiations?”

“Very soon; next Friday, I think. I don’t know what they do, but the
collegiates always seemed to have so much fun over it, and the girls
would never tell what happened.”



                            CHAPTER VIII

                       THE MILITARY RECEPTION


“Are you going with Donald Hilton, Betty?”

“Yes, Cathalina. I can guess whom you are going with—Captain Van
Horne.”

“Yes, I am. What shall we wear?”

“Our very ‘spuzziest’ clothes, they say, white kid gloves and all.
The boys and officers will be immaculate. And there is to be a fancy
drill and a prize drill, too, and the most wonderful supper ever.
Dorothy told me, and Jack told her.”

“I saw Harry Mills and Jack Appleton with the girls the other day.
It was Sunday at dinner, wasn’t it?”

“I think so. Jack has asked Hilary, and Henry has asked Lilian.
Juliet is going with Lieutenant Maxwell.”

“That funny, jolly instructor?”

“Yes, the one you were with at the ice carnival. You haven’t
forgotten him, I hope.”

“Oh, no. What do you think, Betty? You know that Captain Van Horne
was here the other evening?”

“Yes.”

“Well, he was talking away just as dignified as could be, and had
just asked me if he might have ‘the pleasure of my company’ for the
military reception, and then he laughed and said that Lieutenant
Maxwell was going to arrange to take me and that he—Captain Van
Horne—told him to get somebody else! Then he said in a most
persuasive way, ‘Do you mind very much’?”

“And did you tell him, ‘Oh, no, I’d far rather be with you, my
love’?”

“Scarcely. I said, ‘I think it is very kind of you to invite me, and
I am perfectly satisfied with my escort,’ and then went right on
with some reference to our visit in New York.”

“You know they do invite the girls they like, but it isn’t
altogether arranged for that reason. Only the collegiate girls and
the senior academy girls can go, so they fix up the lists some way.
I’m so glad they are having one this year. I just love dress parades
and drills and things.”

“Oh, yes; I was asking Captain Van Horne about Captain Holley, if
the boys liked him, and what sort of a man he is, and Captain Van
Horne said that he is all right so far as he knows, and said that he
asked him to arrange for you to go with him—it seems that Captain
Van Horne had something to do with the lists, but Donald Hilton was
ahead of him.”

“Saved again!” exclaimed Betty. “I can’t tell you how I hate to be
with him!”

“He is one of the handsomest men at the school, too.”

“That doesn’t make any difference. I know there is something wrong
with him, for all his handsome face.”

“I don’t believe you ought to say that, Betty, but he is certainly
different, and it is natural that we shouldn’t have much confidence
in him, knowing about his family as we do. I was so surprised to see
Louise back this year. I wonder how it happened. But I would not
dare ask Miss Randolph. Your meeting with the distinguished Rudolph
was so romantic!”

“I hope I don’t have any more like it. And, besides, it was not half
so romantic as my meeting with Donald. Did I tell you that I had a
letter from Lawrence Haverhill this morning? Wait till I get it.”

“I am surprised at the way the boys are writing to us. I had another
letter from Bob, too. Here it is. You remember when we all said
‘yes, we’d write,’ when the boys all asked us together. But I never
thought they really would—though I did think that Lawrence Haverhill
was interested in you, Betty.”

“I don’t think he is, but I remember how surprised Robert Paget was
to find you so grown up, and how he looked at you so much. Didn’t
you say that either he hadn’t visited Phil for a year or two, or
that you happened to be away?”

“Yes. I was not there when Bob was.”

“Life is getting very interesting, isn’t it?”

“Yes, but I hope that it will not also become too complicated for
comfort. I am no flirt and I am content with one nice man to take me
around.”

“I think we have no need to worry yet. I liked all the boys at your
house, and I’m having a fine time here.”

“There must be something in that Hallowe’en superstition!”

“My, but I was scared when I saw Donald’s face in the mirror!”

“Do the gentlemen come for us for the reception?” asked Cathalina.

“Oh, no. They couldn’t. They have so many things to get ready, and
there’s the drill, you know. We’ll be taken there, and when we get
our wraps off and all our little locks in place we’ll go down to the
big reception hall and the officers and cadets will be there in all
their glory. Dorothy told me all about how they do.”

“It will be different from any party or reception I ever attended.”

“Yes, just imagine how the old colonel—the commandant—will look in
his uniform. He is a real officer in the United States army, Donald
said, and he looks a general at least.”

Miss Randolph confided to Miss West that she would be glad when the
military reception was over, for the girls could not think of much
else. Lessons did not suffer much, but in hours of recreation there
was scarcely any other topic of conversation. To tell the truth,
even Miss Randolph had a new gown for the occasion. She could not be
too much of a contrast to the uniformed commandant she said, by way
of excuse.

Cathalina’s school clothes had been very simple, but now her mother
was permitting her to have a few very beautiful frocks, not made in
any extreme style, but of exquisite material and suited to the
pretty young woman which Cathalina was becoming. For the Greycliff
girls were growing up. At times they seemed like little school girls
together. Again they were interested young women, ambitious for the
different lines of study in which they were engaged. Both Betty and
Cathalina were taking a course in designing. Lilian was working hard
at her violin, keeping up the voice lessons, but being careful not
to sing too much nor strain the young voice. Hilary was earnestly
preparing herself for university life and further study beyond, she
hoped. Yet, at this age, no very definite future was shaped for any
of them. The mysterious Prince Charming was a shadowy possibility,
and not so shadowy of late in some cases.

At last the military reception was at hand. Silken frocks and
sashes, shining slippers and dainty fans were in evidence. “Are you
going to put on your white kid gloves now?” asked Cathalina,
beginning to gather up her lace handkerchief, fan and other small
appurtenances as the time to leave Greycliff Hall approached.

“Mercy, no,” replied Betty. “They would all be soiled before we got
there. We’ll put them on just before we go down stairs at the
school. I’m slipping on these dark ones and will leave them in the
pocket of my coat. What do you think, Hilary—can’t we wear our
slippers, or shall we take our slipper bags?”

“The weather is all right and we are going to ride every step of the
way, after we once get in the ’bus. I’m not going to bother with
mine. My, but your evening coat is pretty, Cathalina. You have every
little perfection in your toilet. Did you hear Isabel’s story?”

“No. I heard her chatting to you as you dressed, though.”

“Louise Holley came in and asked Olivia if she had any white kid
gloves. Olivia said ‘Yes,’ and when Louise asked if she could borrow
them, Olivia brought them out and was going to give them to her,
thought she had to. You know what a generous soul she is.”

“I do, indeed.”

“Well, just then Isabel and Virginia came in, while Olivia was
getting the gloves out and Isabel said, ‘What are you going to do
with your gloves, Olivia?’ Isabel said that it was none of her
affair, of course, but she had a feeling that Louise was borrowing
them. So when Olivia said that Louise wanted them, Isabel spoke up
and asked Louise where her own were. Louise tossed her head and said
that they were not as clean as they ought to be for this reception.
Then Isabel ‘braced up,’ she said, and asked Louise what Olivia’s
were going to look like when she had worn them all evening.
‘Olivia’s have never been worn, and I think anybody who asks to
borrow a new pair of white kid gloves has her nerve!’ Can’t you hear
Isabel say that? But Isabel was about ready to cry when she first
came in. Louise ‘gets on her nerves’ anyway, she says.”

“What did Louise do?”

“Was terribly angry, of course, and flounced out. Olivia cried and
Isabel cried, and then came in to see us and get consoled. She said
that she would apologize to Louise for the way in which she did it,
if she only could be sorry for what she had done.”

“Let’s notice what Louise has on. I’ll wager she gets a pair from
somebody else,” said Betty.

The ride was full of joyful anticipations and lively chatter. They
drove into the grounds and up to the main building of the academy in
style and were met by a detachment of cadets, who helped them out of
the ’buses and escorted them into the building, giving them into the
care of the matron, and several maids imported for the occasion.
Betty looked for Donald, as several girls did for some particular
cadet, but saw nothing of him, though Harry Mills was one of the
welcoming party. Girls and teachers were taken upstairs, where a
large room had been turned into a dressing room. The girls took
their time, as girls do, to lay aside their wraps, fix their hair
and arrange their collars or ribbons to their satisfaction. In those
pre-war days, happily, there was no rouge nor lip-stick fashion to
be forbidden by Miss Randolph. She stood, casually enough, near the
foot of the stairs as the girls came down, but with a keen glance
inspected each one to see that she looked like the lady she should
be.

The commandant stood in the door of the reception room, waited till
the last girl of the flock had come down the stairs and Miss
Randolph turned, then came forward with outstretched hand to greet
Miss Randolph, to meet the girls, and in turn to present them to a
receiving group of officers which waited near. Then the cadets and
other officers or instructors came up to meet the girls whom they
knew, and take charge of their particular ladies. What perfectly
creased and spotless uniforms there were! How the buttons and gilt
braid shone, and how delightful were the erect bearing and courteous
manners!

Betty was almost the last one of the girls left by Miss Randolph
when Captain Van Horne, who had found Cathalina a few minutes
before, came back, consulted with the commandant, said a few words
to Miss Randolph which Betty did not catch, and offered Betty his
arm. “Miss Barnes, if I may, I will take you over with Miss Van
Buskirk and myself. Corporal Hilton is unavoidably detained on duty
for a short time and asked me to make his excuses.”

Betty was quite surprised at this, but gracefully accepted Captain
Van Horne’s arm and joined Cathalina, who was waiting with a group
of the girls and cadets. She noticed Captain Holley’s look of
interest and bowed as she caught his eye. She felt a little awkward,
in spite of Captain Van Horne’s efforts to put her at ease, and the
pleasant attentions of the other young people around her. Lieutenant
Maxwell’s remarks kept them all merry, as they enjoyed this short
social time before the drills. How jolly and young Miss Randolph and
the commandant seemed, but of course they were terribly old—almost
fifty at least!

Betty was standing now near the broad window that looked out upon
the academy campus, and noticed that Captain Holley was edging over
in her direction. He had his sister with him and presently they
joined her, Captain Holley standing so that she was temporarily shut
off from Cathalina and the rest of that group. “I wonder,” said
Captain Holley presently, “if we are going to have rain. I thought
it looked cloudy a while ago.”

“Mercy, I hope not,” returned Louise; “we girls all wore our
slippers and brought no other shoes.”

“We could get you safely into the ’buses without your getting your
feet wet,” said Captain Holley.

“I’d like to know how, Rudolph,” said his sister.

“Carry you!”

“Why, it promised to be moonlight as we drove over,” said Betty, and
she drew back the curtain to peer out. Who was that? A forlorn, lone
figure marched up the walk and turned to go back. Betty grasped the
situation in a moment. It was Donald. Something had happened, and
Donald had been put under discipline, and Captain Holley wanted her
to see it. That was no guard marching up and down. This flashed
through her mind like a flash, as she dropped the curtain, and with
perfect self-control, though with flushing cheeks, turned toward
Louise and began to flirt her fan carelessly in her hands. “Oh,
well, Louise, if it does cloud up, what is the difference? The great
military reception will be over. You have no idea, Captain Holley,
how we girls have looked forward to this night, with the drills, the
fun and the unusual atmosphere of military surroundings. It is all
so—quaint!”

“Quaint, is it? That is good. And will there be no regrets?”

“Possibly, but if one is good and _kind_, there ought to be no
regrets.”

“I am wondering what has become of your escort, Miss Betty.”

“Yes, you must be. I am told that he is detained. It is unfortunate
for me, is it not?”

“It is very unfortunate for him. Will you not join Louise and me to
watch the drills? Captain Van Horne has the young lady he invited
with him.”

“Cathalina will not mind, and I am supposed to be with them, thank
you, Captain Holley. But I appreciate your kindness” (at its true
worth, she thought).

“Let me just speak to the commandant and Miss Randolph,” said
Captain Holley quickly, and before Betty could protest he had
hurried over to the commandant. What could she do? Nothing, she
decided. Let the fates do what they would, then. With Louise on her
hands, she could not explain the situation to Cathalina and Captain
Van Horne. By the smiling appearance of everybody concerned at the
other end of the room, she judged that the determined Rudolph was
having his way. “All right, sir, I shall play up and play the game,”
she thought.

Captain Holley returned with a pleased smile on his handsome face.
He spoke a moment to Captain Van Horne, who bowed, smiled at Betty
and moved away from the group with Cathalina. Betty felt deserted,
but turned with her most charming manner to Captain Holley and his
sister, saying, “Now this is kind of you. Tell me about everything,
Captain Holley. Who is to take part and what is to be done?” It
seemed a very long time since they had arrived, yet it was probably
not more than half an hour. Surely Donald was not to be absent the
whole evening or they would have told her. The drills would begin
pretty soon.

In a few minutes the commandant made an announcement, which Betty
heard as if in a dream, and the ladies all were escorted over to
seats in the big gymnasium, where the drills were to take place.
Captain Holley most gallantly took Betty and his sister along the
concrete walks. He was fascinating when he tried to be. The cadets
all yielded place to the officers and their ladies, who were seated
in the best places. Then the band marched in, after what seemed to
Betty like a long time of waiting.

But Betty now could not help enjoying the scene before her, Donald
or no Donald. The bright lights, the music, the marching companies
of erect figures in their attractive uniforms, as the drill began,
put a thrill in all the spectators. Betty had recovered from her
embarrassment. After all, it was, perhaps, only kindness that made
Captain Holley take her under his wing. Perhaps he only took pains
to show her Donald at his punishment because she would understand
the situation better. Well, what was the use of wondering about it?
Here was a fine entertainment before her eyes. Why not enjoy it? And
now Betty was one of the few to have a bright young officer
explaining things to her. Many of the cadets were taking part in the
drill and some of the instructor officers. Louise was more
interesting and happier than she had ever seen her, and seemed to be
both fond and proud of her brother. To her Captain Holley showed a
superior elder brother sort of affection, but to Betty his manner
was that poised manner of especial interest which is so flattering
and attractive to a young girl. But who was that just marching in?
Was that Donald? In the different uniform she could scarcely
recognize him, but it must be he. Yes, it was. Considerably flushed,
Corporal Hilton was taking his part in the fancy drill.



                             CHAPTER IX

                  APPOINTMENTS AND DISAPPOINTMENTS


Meanwhile, the other girls in Betty’s “quartette” were having no
such harrowing experiences. Cathalina was having a better talk with
her friend, Captain Van Horne, than had been possible when they were
together in New York. During the introductory half hour in the
parlors they had been with a group of the young friends. But there
was the walk in the moonlight together to the gymnasium, and seats
there apart from their more intimate friends, as it happened.

“Has any one told you,” asked Cathalina, “that the Norths are moving
to New York?”

“No, Miss Van Buskirk, but Richard North gave me a hint of it when
we had some conversation at your home one evening. He has a fine
opportunity, going in with that firm of experienced lawyers.”

“How are you getting on with your studies?”

“I have little time that I can call my own here, of course, but am
accomplishing a little. I am more familiar with the work here than I
was last year, and like the boys. We have a good class of fellows in
this school. The commandant is strict, but rather human, on the
whole, and just. The boys all have confidence in him. His discipline
stands back of the instructors, too, and we feel that we shall be
supported in anything that is fair and square.”

“That must help, of course,” said Cathalina thoughtfully. “I don’t
know the first thing about discipline. Whatever goes on at Greycliff
most of us girls know nothing about.”

“Military discipline is a good thing for boys.”

“Yes. Father says that it is the finest kind of ‘athletics,’ too,
for they don’t shuffle and swing themselves around, but get the
habit fixed of the erect carriage that is so splendid.” Cathalina
was enthusiastic now. “Oh, there they come!” Like Betty and the rest
of the girls, Cathalina felt the quickening of interest and the
inspiration which came with the music and the marching feet. “Don’t
they look fine! Help me pick out the ones we know, Captain Van
Horne. Wasn’t that Donald Hilton? I wonder where Betty is?”

“Over there with Captain Holley and his sister.”

“I see. Poor Betty.”

“Why ‘poor’?”

“She doesn’t like him.”

“She is laughing and seems to be having a good time.”

“Oh, she would. Besides, you would have a good time with anybody
here.”

Captain Van Horne gave her an amused glance, lifting his brows as if
to inquire if it made no difference to her with whom she came.

Cathalina caught his glance, understood it, and added with a smile,
“But it is very much nicer to be with congenial company!”

“Have I ever told you how much I appreciated your being so good to
me last summer?”

“Why, yes, you made the most pleasant of remarks whenever you left
our little circle.”

“But it was more than just the ordinary appreciation of courtesy,
Miss Van Buskirk. It was like heaven out at your place to a fellow
who was staying in a hot room in town and studying and working away
as I was. And to get out there, and eat ambrosia with a bevy of
goddesses, was, indeed, to visit Olympus, especially when the chief
goddess was as kind as you.”

“You are very flattering, Captain Van Horne. I think I never was
called a goddess before,” said Cathalina, laughing. “I wanted to
have a better visit with you myself, but I was hostess, you know,
and had so many folks to look after.”

“I knew that, but I never could refuse any of your invitations.”

“We wanted you to be there as much as possible. At a house party,
you know, one has to put a good deal in a short time. I hope we did
not take too much of your time.”

“No, indeed; I just existed till the next time. I think I was out at
your place every day while you were there, either for dinner, a
party or a call!”

“Well, you had to make your party calls, didn’t you?”

“That is the explanation, of course. How cleverly you put it. May I
make a ‘party call’ after this?”

“Since I can’t, you will have to,” assented Cathalina, in pleased
amusement.

Part of this conversation was going on while the band was playing,
and the young captain had to lean over to talk into Cathalina’s ear.
Then the band stopped and all was quiet while the fancy drill was
carried to completion. How the girls applauded! The band played
again, and then the competitive drills were announced. It made it
all the more interesting that the girls knew so many of those who
were taking part. Donald Hilton, Harry Mills and Jack Appleton were
in the same company, A Company, that won the first prize in the
competitive drill.

“What next?” asked Cathalina.

“The ‘banquet,’” replied her escort. “The commandant will announce
it or have some one of the officers do so. Then the boys who have
been drilling will come for their ladies and we shall go.”

But when the prizes were announced, another list was read, of those
boys whose rank was advanced. And Donald’s name was not among them.

As the cadets came in the main room, after the ranks were broken,
there was one who did not know where to look for his fair lady. A
trifle embarrassed, but manly, not knowing just how Betty would take
this peculiar reception, anxious to explain, Donald Hilton came
toward the visitors’ seats and stood a moment to look for Betty. As
people were rising, collecting light wraps, chatting as they left,
it was not easy to find her in the confusion. But Betty had seen
Donald and intended to wait, and in a moment Donald had seen her and
was making his way toward her. He saluted Captain Holley, very
courteously, apologized to Betty for his delay in meeting her, and
asked if she were ready to go to supper with him.

“Thank you, Captain Holley, for taking me under your wing,” said
Betty, more warmly than she had ever supposed she would, and with a
smile to Louise, who had been so unusually cordial, she joined
Donald in the departing procession.

“I can’t tell you, Miss Betty,” said Donald, “how mortified I am
over this affair. I don’t know what you must think of me. Did
anybody tell you anything?”

Betty stated demurely what she had been told on her arrival.

“If I could just explode or something!” exclaimed Donald.

Betty laughed, and, sorry for Donald’s distress, she said: “I don’t
care, Donald. I can’t think that you would really intend to
embarrass me, so I’ll forgive you before you explain.”

“Thank you, Betty,” said Donald, dropping the “Miss” this time.
“You’re an angel. I always knew it. But I have a lot to tell you
about this. If I don’t get a chance to do it tonight, may I come
over as soon as I can get off and tell you all about it?”

“You certainly may.”

“All right; I feel better. No telling how soon that will be, though,
if I should be put on probation.”

“Is it as bad as that?”

“I shouldn’t be surprised. But, Betty, I wouldn’t ever have run any
risk of seeming to show any disrespect to you.”

“I am sure of it.”

“There I was, pacing up and down, like a tiger in his cage, and
wondering how you were taking it and how on earth the thing came
about. I’d had a few demerits—black marks, you know. It’s easy
enough to get ’em. But either somebody’s set it up, or the kid
cadets have just taken a bad time to take it out on me for some of
the jokes our crowd has played on them. They don’t stand for much
hazing here, and it’s little enough in that line that any of them
had. I can’t think of but one that ever seemed to resent the jokes.
But inspection has been a nightmare for two days now, and my black
marks have piled up. Yesterday morning, Betty, I had cleaned my gun,
but when at the last minute I got it for drill, there was a lot of
black grease on it. Of course I was bawled out. And this morning,
worst of all, there was a package of cigarettes found in my room
when it was inspected. I have been trying to think that all out,
too. I had gotten word that Van Horne wanted to see me, can’t even
think what kid it was that told me. Somebody just called in the
door, you know. So I started out to hunt up Van Horne and see what
he wanted. Meanwhile somebody must have come in to fix up the
cigarettes, for the report was that there was a half-smoked
cigarette and a lot of ashes under a paper on the table. My bed had
been fixed, too, so that it did not pass inspection.”

“Did you find Captain Van Horne?”

“Yes. He said that there must have been some mistake. He had not
sent for me.”

“Then, of course, it was all fixed up to get you in trouble.”

“But when I came back to the building I found somebody _had_ sent
for me, the commandant, of course—and they must have been pretty
swift, by the way, to get word to him so soon!”

“I suppose it is against rules for the boys to have cigarettes.”

“I should say so! I’m going to find out who put those in my room if
it takes me to my dying day.”

“Didn’t you tell the commandant about it?”

“I tried to, and got reprimanded for it, and told to take my
punishment like a man. That was the first time I ever was mad at the
commandant, and I’m going to see that he does know about it some
day. But he was fair about tonight. I was to work out part of my
punishment and miss the first part of the evening, as you know, but
they needed me in the drills, and then the old boy said that he did
not also want to punish the young lady I had invited, and I might
take her out to supper. What more is hanging over my head I don’t
know. You heard the list read out. I was due for a higher
appointment, but of course could not have it now—am a measly
corporal still.”

Betty laughed at that. “I don’t believe that they will do anything
very awful. But I would explain things to the commandant, or to
Captain Van Horne, anyway.”

“It is going to be easier to explain than to prove what I say. But
now you must forget all about it, and if I am forgiven I shall put
it out of my mind the rest of the evening, too. What has been going
on over at Greycliff? Are you going to skate this winter?”

“Oh, yes, I always skate; but I think that the great sport this
winter is going to be the skiing, by the way the girls are talking
now. But there is much on hand before that time comes.”

“I don’t know. They say the cold weather will begin early this
year.”

By this time they had reached the dining room, where white tables,
flowers, music and savory odors greeted them. A little orchestra
from Greycliff Heights, or Greycliff Village, as the girls usually
called it, played during the meal. This was as great an event to the
young people as the ice carnival of the year before.

Most of the company had found their places at table by the time
Betty and Donald entered the dining room. They had not hurried,
merely keeping in sight the others who were ahead of them, while a
few lingered behind them. Part way down the long room they saw a
beckoning hand, that of Harry Mills, who was with Lilian, Jack
Appleton and Hilary, and was trying to indicate that their place
cards were at that table. Betty and Donald hurried on to join them,
and found a table of gay young cadets and their guests. The place
cards all had the picture of a tent and Uncle Sam in front of it,
welcoming a charming maiden, who represented Greycliff and was
receiving the roses which he offered. There was a rose at each
place, as well, and a silver pin, suitable for a corsage bouquet,
for each of the girls. The bouquets had been sent to Greycliff, but
these pins were reserved for the evening’s souvenir. (They each bore
the academy “arms” and seal.) “Such a beautiful souvenir!” exclaimed
Betty to Donald. “I shall always keep it in memory of a very happy
evening.”

“That is very good of you to say,” replied Donald. “It is happy to
me, too, since everything is all right with you.”

Late as it was when the girls arrived at Greycliff, Cathalina and
Betty were both too excited to sleep. Betty had too much to think
over and Cathalina wanted to hear all Betty’s news. But they
dutifully put lights out, and each lying in her little cot, related
the most outstanding events of the evening.

“Did Louise have on fresh gloves, Betty?”

“Why, yes, she did. I never thought of it, though. Yes, I remember
how snug they were, probably a bit too small, but just as clean as
could be.”

“Maybe they were her own, after all.”

“Perhaps, and perhaps she succeeded in getting some one to lend them
to her. But she was just lovely all the time we were together. And I
liked Captain Holley better than I ever did before. I thought he was
terribly officious at first, but it was very nice to have somebody
to be really attentive till Donald came. Only I don’t think it was
very kind of him to have me look out and see the poor boy!”

“You remember he wanted to have you for his own guest, and perhaps
he felt a little put out about Donald’s getting ahead of him again.”

“I wonder! Cathalina, do you think he would go to the trouble to fix
up things that way for Donald, so perhaps he would miss the
reception?”

“Oh, no. That would be so trifling a thing for an officer to do. I
can’t imagine it.”

“He has done some awfully funny things, though. There was the time
he met his sister outside of the hall.”

“He explained that pretty well—at the time.”

“Yes, I suppose so. Then what was he doing with those queer men at
the cave?”

“That _is_ strange. But we ought to be careful not to say much,
unless we feel pretty sure something was wrong.”

“You know how careful we have been. But I can’t help wondering
sometimes. If he has been at the bottom of that trouble of
Donald’s!”

“It would be pretty hard to connect him with it!” finished
Cathalina. “But I do hope that Donald will find out who put those
things in his room and who called him away. I imagine that it was
some of those cadets revenging themselves a little, don’t you?”

“That is the most likely explanation.”



                             CHAPTER X

                          HEROIC VIRGINIA


The military reception was soon a thing of the past. Other events
were being looked forward to with varying degrees of interest. The
days were speeding on toward Christmas and its vacation. There had
been the usual Hallowe’en party, without special adventure this time
for Betty or the other girls. Every day at Greycliff was an
adventure of some sort, Hilary declared. Where so many girls were
together, under one roof, there was always something interesting on
foot. Their hard work on lessons and the affairs of the different
organizations had its spice or reward in the friendships and
visiting, the parties and fun that came in between class work and
study.

The new _Greycliff_ had been duly initiated early in the term by a
series of picnics. No storm had disturbed the beauty or safety of
the trips. The girls had renewed acquaintance with all the natural
features of the place that they loved so much. After Christmas there
would be skiing and basketball games, the usual skating, when the
ice was in condition, swimming in the pool at the “gym,” and the
continuation of the practices in the musical organizations. That was
more pleasure than labor. The literary societies were progressing
wonderfully, according to the accounts of their members. The
Whittiers were bending every effort to have original or instructive
programs and were devoting much time to debate in preparation for
the inter-society debate in the spring. The subject for that was
under discussion.

Isabel was now president of the academy Shakespearean Society. That
fact was enough to insure its regular programs and the appearance of
all the members upon them. It was not found best to increase the
membership too much, but by the advice of Miss Randolph, two other
academy societies were formed, in order to give more students the
opportunity of their drill in public performance. It was permissible
to use material which had been prepared for English classes or the
oratory department. As there was plenty of this, the preparation for
society night was not a burden. There were always an “oration” or
short address of some sort, a brief debate and musical numbers with
readings or some form of entertainment by the “dramatic” members.
Isabel flew around to arrange for everything, or to see that the
various committees were doing their duty, and her room was a center
for the Shakespearean members all week long. Virginia nobly
responded to every cry for assistance from Isabel, and often filled
in a place on the program for which some one had failed to prepare.
Occasionally, Eloise or Lilian came down from their own society
meeting to sing for them.

“You would not believe, girls,” said Isabel, “how Virginia Hope has
come out. She takes to literature like a duck to water, and you
ought to hear her debate. She can think on her feet. If we ever get
suffrage, Virgie will go to Congress!” This was before Virginia, who
turned to Lilian, saying, “Hold me, Lilian! This is going to my
head! I’m not used to this from my room-mate. She usually says,
‘Virgie, you’ll have to do this—such a pity that Mary can’t do it;
she is so gifted’!”

“I like your beautiful simile, Isabel,” said Cathalina. “‘She takes
to literature like a duck to water.’ How forceful, yet brief.”

“What else can you expect from a Shakespearean?” inquired Hilary.
“And didn’t we start that society? The answer is ‘We did.’”

“Listen to ’em, Virgie. Of course they’d take the credit for
everything we do!”

“As far as I’m concerned,” said Virgie, “they may. But I’m thinking
that little Isabel is getting her share of credit, too.”

“Seriously, Isabel,” said Cathalina, “we girls are just pleased to
pieces that the society is going so well this year. And you got the
very new girls in that are going to help you.”

“Sometimes when they say they can’t do things, and won’t be
persuaded, I get awfully discouraged and think I’ll resign; and then
I think of the Psyche Club crowd and say, ‘On to Olympus, aha!’”

“You’re killing, fine old Isabel!” and Cathalina gave her a little
squeeze. “Isabel’s the stuff heroines are made of. We’ll line you up
with Eloise. And you’ll be going to Congress yourself, you’re such a
fine little debater—though, of course, women will never go there.”
For in those days, so it seemed.

“Goodbye; we must positively get to work,” said Pauline.

“Me, too,” said Juliet.

“One more piece of fudge around, girls,” said Isabel. “You can’t
leave all that for just us to finish.” The departing girls took a
last piece between thumb and finger as they yielded to Isabel’s
coaxing tones and the appearance of the plate of soft brown squares.
The Psyche Club had been having a meeting in the
Isabel-Virgie-Avalon-Olivia suite.

“Did you get the mail I put on your dresser, Virgie?” asked Olivia.

“No. I forgot to look,” replied Virginia, disappearing into the
bedroom, while the other girls got out their books and started on
their lessons just as the study bell rang.

“Put down a credit mark for us this time,” said Isabel. “For once we
are already at it when the bell rings.”

“Don’t talk as if we never studied, Miss Hunt. Many’s the time
outside of study hours that this poor old brain has been busy!”

“Poor Olivia!”

Half an hour later, Isabel woke up to the fact that Virgie had not
returned to the study room, but she looked toward the bedroom door,
where all was quiet, and resumed her study. Another half hour went
by. Isabel thought of Virgie again, and noticed that her books were
on the table.

“Why, she isn’t studying,” thought Isabel. “I wonder if anything is
the matter. Perhaps she had bad news in the letter.” Isabel tiptoed
to the bedroom door and peeped in. Virginia was lying on the bed,
her arms thrown up in such a way as to conceal her face. “Virgie,”
said Isabel, gently, “are you asleep?”

“No,” replied Virginia, her tones a bit smothered; “I’ll be out
pretty soon, I guess.”

Isabel went back to her lessons, convinced now that something was
the matter. Avalon looked up from her book. “Anything the matter
with Virgie?”

“She’s lying down and I guess doesn’t want to be disturbed. Maybe
she has a headache. I ate too much of that fudge myself.” Isabel
said to herself: “I don’t _know_ that anything is the matter, I just
guess it, so I hope it’s all right to suggest a headache. You can’t
tell _all_ the truth always!” Isabel was too honest not to blame
herself for this evasion.

But presently Virginia came out, picked up her books, and began to
study. “Got a headache, Virgie?” asked Avalon.

“Yes, a little one,” replied Virginia.

That night Isabel heard a repressed sob or two and longed to comfort
Virgie and find out what could be the matter. Something had happened
at home, she supposed.

For several days Virginia was sober, doing her work as well as
usual, but not running in to visit the other girls, and spending a
good deal of time by herself. Avalon and Olivia did not appear to
notice any difference, but Isabel could tell that Virgie had
something on her mind. Finally, Isabel decided that she would speak
to her about it, and waited for a good opportunity. This came on the
following Sabbath afternoon, when after the late and excellent
Sunday dinner the girls had donned their bathrobes and slippers and
were lounging in their bedrooms. Isabel was propped up against her
pillows and was writing letters. Virginia was stretched out on her
bed, apparently asleep, but presently she rose and went to the
dresser for a handkerchief. There was a tell-tale redness about her
eyes, which Isabel noted in one quick glance, and when Virginia was
once more on her bed, her back turned to Isabel, Isabel said softly,
“Virgie, I wish you would tell me what is the matter and let me be
of some comfort. You haven’t been like yourself for several days and
it worries me. Of course, if there is any secret, or anything you
can’t tell me, all right, but I hate to have you feel like this and
not say a word to you.”

There was silence for a moment, and then Virgie said, “I’ve been
going to tell you, Isabel, but I’m such a baby that I c-cry about
it——” Virgie could not go on just then. Isabel waited.

“Maybe it would do you good to cry it out, Virgie. Haven’t you been
holding it all in for fear the girls would notice? Cry it out for
all me,” added the sturdy Isabel.

“You ‘hate water-works,’” said Virgie, laughing through her tears.

“Sometimes they are a ‘necessary evil,’” replied Isabel, with a
broad smile.

“I did cry it out one night,” said Virgie, “but always when I’ve
started to say anything I’d get choked up. Now that you have spoken
about it, though, perhaps I can get through telling you about it.”

Isabel’s imagination was working, trying to think of what could have
happened, when Virgie continued, “You know that letter I got from
Father——”

“I supposed it was from him. I saw it lying on the dresser and after
you read it you were upset.”

“Well, to make a long story short, Father can’t afford to keep me in
school any longer and I’ve got—to go—home!”

“Mercy sakes!” said Isabel, “that is a blow! But it’s better than a
death in the family.”

“Oh, yes; I never even thought of that as a consolation. Of course
it’s better than losing Father, but sometimes I feel that I can’t go
back to the ranch with my stepmother there. It isn’t that she is a
stepmother. I’m not so silly as that. There are lots of good ones,
but I guess my father didn’t know much about her when he married her
and she isn’t good for any girl to be with. I’d know better how to
meet it now, but it will be hard. Why, I’d rather just wash dishes
at Greycliff than go to live with her!”

“Maybe you can.”

“Can—what?”

“Wash dishes at Greycliff, or something like it. Don’t you see? If
it’s only money that is the matter, perhaps something can be done.”

“Oh, I’ve thought about that, and I couldn’t borrow or accept money
from Cathalina or anybody, or have the girls get up a scholarship
for me!”

“You’re too proud, Virginia Hope, for anybody that really wants to
get an education. Why shouldn’t people with money help girls that
want an education? All these schools raise money for their
scholarships that way.”

“Oh, well, if it were something that I had earned by high
scholarship, or because people thought I would be a credit to them,
or they wanted to take that way of giving money to their school, or
getting students for it and helping the ‘cause of education’—that
would be different, but all the scholarships here are provided for,
I guess.”

“Greycliff is poor, all right, for all that it is trying to do. When
did your father say you would have to go home?”

“I’ll just let you read the letter,” said Virgie, who began to feel
much better already, since she had confided in Isabel. “It’s a short
one. I know how my father felt when he had to write it.”

Isabel perused the letter and sat thoughtfully a few moments, still
perched on her bed against the pillows, with her writing materials
strewn around her. Virginia sat on the edge of her cot, feeling for
the first that there might be hope in Isabel’s suggestion.

“Why, say, Virgie, you don’t have to go right off!”

“No, it’s all paid up till the end of the first semester, so I’ll
get my grades and standing anyhow, and perhaps some time I can come
back.”

“Now, listen, Virgie. Your father says that he can send you money at
the end of the first semester to take you home and that is all he
can do without getting in debt and that he doesn’t dare do. Very
sensible. He knows that you are going home with me for Christmas,
doesn’t he?”

“Yes.”

“It takes quite a little money to go clear to North Dakota, doesn’t
it?”

“Oh, yes; railroad fare is quite a little sum.”

“How are you off for clothes?” Isabel was mentally running over
Virgie’s wardrobe and went on before Virginia had a chance to answer
her. “You didn’t wear any of your pretty summer dresses that you got
before school was out at camp, you know, so you’ll hardly need
anything unless it’s shoes or gloves and the things we need ‘pin
money’ for. You don’t need anything new for winter, do you? It’s a
good thing that you had to have everything new last year. There is
your pretty coat that is good for both everyday and
Sunday-go-to-meetin’, and your other winter things will last, won’t
they?”

“I’ll make ’em.”

“If you can be saving with the money you have on hand, and put the
money of the fare toward the next semester’s school expenses, I
believe you could earn the rest. Of course, there aren’t so many
ways of earning money here as at some schools, but maybe we can
create some. Do you mind if I talk it over with Lilian?”

“I was going to tell the girls pretty soon.”

“Let’s keep it all in the Psyche Club for the present, and see what
our brilliant minds can evolve, aha!” Then, seeing Virgie’s look,
she added, “You can count on me not to embarrass you, Virgie, in any
way.”

“Perhaps, if I stay, I can win one of the prizes this spring, and
that would take me home.”

“Fine!” said Isabel. “Me ’n’ you ought to get the prizes for debate,
and whichever one I get I’d lend to you.”

“No lending, remember.”

“Say, Virgie, I’ve heard of girls doing mending and other little
things for the girls at schools. Would you mind trying something
like that?”

“I’d do _anything_ to stay here whether I minded it or not!”

“Good for you. Line up in the heroine class, as Cathalina says.”

Virgie was laughing by this time, with no traces of tears.

“Wait to write to your father about our plan till we have worked out
something ‘more definite,’ as Dr. Norris says, to tell him. You feel
pretty sure he will let you try it, don’t you?”

“Oh, yes. I feel guilty to have cost him so much as it is, and it
was so grand of him to pay my way at camp last summer.”

“My, what a relief it will be to the Psyche Club not to have to do
any mending this spring! Honestly, _can_ you mend, Virgie?”

“Try me—and don’t the girls hate to fix their shoes more than
anything else?”

“I know I do.”

“All right; wait till I get me a nice brush or two, and the
necessary white, brown and black polish, and I’ll be ready to hang
out my shingle. Isabel, I wish I had talked to you before. I never
thought of those little things till you spurred me up to it.”

“Let us now join in singing ‘Whispering Hope,’ and then I’ll finish
my letters,” said Isabel picking up her pen.

“I shall sleep and dream of my business enterprises—it’s precious
little sleep I’ve had this week!” and Virgie settled down again. In
about five minutes she was sound asleep, a peaceful expression on
her face. Isabel wrote awhile; then, when she was sure that Virginia
was safely in the land of dreams, she tiptoed out, wrapping her robe
tightly about her, while she sped down the hall to the door of the
suite she sought. “I hope the girls are not asleep,” she thought,
and tapped lightly.

Cathalina came to open the door, saying that Lilian and Hilary were
asleep, but that she and Betty were longing for social gayety.

“I’m the one to supply that need,” said Isabel gayly. “But I want to
tell you girls something and ask your advice.”

“No secrets,” called Lilian from her bedroom. “Hilary and I are both
wide awake and listening.”

Isabel and Cathalina proceeded to the bedroom door and looked with
smiles upon the lazy Hilary and Lilian. Betty appeared from the
other bedroom, trailing a bathrobe much too long for her, and they
all perched upon the two cots. “You ought to have your mother
lengthen your robe for you, Betty,” said Isabel.

“Yes. Isn’t it a pity about this? I sent my other one to the laundry
this summer just before I came here, and it never came back. Hence
this, from the Greycliff Emporium. I honestly have intended to make
a deeper hem, but I don’t know when I could have found the time.”

“The Psyche Club is to do no more mending or sewing of rips and
tears, or blacking shoes——”

“Mercy, what’s the matter?” asked Lilian. “Is Miss Randolph going to
import maids for us?”

“No. Listen. You know I told you, Lilian, that I thought something
was the matter with Virgie. Well, I found out what it was. Her
father has had bad luck or something, and said she would have to go
home after this semester. Now I have thought up a wild scheme by
which she may earn enough to stay through the second semester. Don’t
tell me, girls, that it can’t be done, because I’ve got Virgie
sleeping the sleep of the just, after a sleepless week, in the hope
of being able to stay!”

The girls listened attentively as Isabel gave them the details of
the letter and of her talk with Virgie. “Of course there will be
lots of things that will be disagreeable about it, if she does
things outside of the Psyche Club, but I believe Virgie has the grit
to stick it out, and we can stand by her.”

“Girls do get through doing things like that in other schools,” said
Cathalina. “Now I hate to wash out and press my georgette waists,
but I sent a darling one to the wash and it came back ruined!”

“But where will Virgie find the time from her lessons for all this?”

“I suspect she will have to give up lots of fun,” said Isabel,
ruefully. “I don’t know that I can have a good time when she is
working so hard, and she will want to do most of it herself. I can
let her off from society duties, except debates, and she needs all
the practice she can get in that. We are both working for prizes.”

“Are there any collegiate scholarships established?” asked
Cathalina.

“I don’t know. We were talking about scholarships and she wouldn’t
want any fixed up just for her, she said.”

“I don’t see why she should feel that way about it. Besides, Father
wants to do things for this school and told me to find out what else
Miss Randolph wanted. He can make the debate prize bigger anyway.”

“I think that could be done,” said Isabel. “Virgie wouldn’t know
anything about it till she got it. If it would take her home and
bring her back it would be better! She thinks she must go home this
summer anyway. Her father has not seen her, you know, and she is
anxious to know how he really is. He works so hard, she says.”

“There’s that grand nut candy that you and Virgie make, Isabel,”
said Lilian. “Why couldn’t Virgie sell that to the girls—let them
come for it, or have a little sale on Saturday afternoon or
evening?”

“That is a fine idea. Would Miss Randolph let her do that?”

“I think so. She lets us do things to raise money for our societies,
you know. I don’t suppose she would let anybody sell outside stuff,
but the little bit of candy we make, or anything else that we do
ourselves could be sold, I think. You ask her, Cathalina, will you?”

“Certainly I will.”

“And we’ll have to find out exactly what Virgie will have to make to
pay the rest of the semester’s expenses, and get the little things
she needs, besides her books and things. Can you find that out, too,
Cathalina?”

“I don’t see why I can’t,” said Cathalina with a smile. “And I’m
sure if there is any fair way in which Miss Randolph can help Virgie
get through, she will.”

“But don’t forget, Cathalina, that Virgie wants to do it herself.”

“If she has time to make enough of that candy and charge a good
price for it, I don’t think she’ll need to do much else. That was
the first candy to be ‘all gone’ at that little society bazaar we
had.”

“I’ll tell you what, Cathalina—you know she is going home with me at
Christmas vacation. Well, we’ll get ahead and make up a lot of it to
sell at the opening of the semester, when everybody has lots of
money.”

“Isabel is the business woman of the Psyche Club,” said Betty.

“And Virginia is going to stay!” said Cathalina firmly.



                             CHAPTER XI

                       VIRGINIA GOES HUNT-ING


It chanced that Virginia had never visited Isabel, though a visit
had been planned more than once. All preparation had been made for
Virgie to go home with Isabel and then go to camp with her, but it
would have made extra railroad fare and there was such a short time
between the close of school and the beginning of camp that Virginia
gave it up. At the last minute, too, a letter from one of the boys
announced that the aunt who kept house for them all was sick in bed.
Hence it happened that when the girls talked about Virgie’s being
with Isabel, they were mistaken. By different routes they had
arrived at Merrymeeting at about the same time.

“Bye, Baby Bunting, Virgie’s gone a-Hunting,” sang Lilian, standing
by the ’bus as it started to move off with its load of girls. Lilian
and Cathalina were to leave for New York later in the day, taking a
sleeper.

Virginia laughed, waved her hand in final salute, and turned to
Isabel. “You are Hope-ing, I suppose, Isabel.”

“Yes; Hope-ing for a jolly vacation.”

“Do you remember last Christmas at Hilary’s? I am one lucky girl,
after all.”

“Christmas at our house won’t be anything like that, Virgie, but I
hope that you will have a good time anyway. The boys are lots of
fun, and we can do some different things, anyway, from the grind of
lessons. It’s a real little town, and everybody knows everybody
else. We are called ‘the Hunt boys and Isabel.’”

“Never Isabel and the Hunt boys? Nor Isabel Hunt and the boys?”

“Never.”

“I am surprised. I supposed you were more important than that!”

“Not a bit of it. You see, I come in between the boys. This is the
order, from the oldest down.” Isabel held up her gloved fingers.
“Jim, aged twenty-four; William and Milton, twins, aged twenty; Lou,
seventeen; Isabel, sixteen; Norman, thirteen; and Edwin, eleven. Jim
is through school and in business with Father now, though he is
planning something else, I guess. Slim and Shorty are working their
way through college, Lou is in the last year of high school, Norman
and Ed in the grades. Norman goes into high school next year. Jim
brought us all up.”

“Jim! Where were your father and your aunt?”

“I don’t wonder you exclaimed. But my daddy had his hands full to
get the daily bread for us all, and is easy going on discipline.
Auntie is a dear, timid little soul. Some folks think that she is
queer, but she is just old-fashioned and afraid of folks. She tried
her best on me, but the boys were too much for her, so Jim took hold
of the discipline and made us all behave. We knew if he said
anything he meant it. Father would forget, and Auntie couldn’t make
a flea mind, but Jim felt responsible, too. Once when I had been
awfully rebellious about Jim’s interfering, as I thought, about
something I wanted to do dreadfully, I talked it all out to Jim.
Can’t you just imagine me, mad as could be, telling Jim that I
didn’t think it was any of his affair and that I knew I could get
Father to let me. It was terribly mean of me, for Jim had always
petted me especially because I was the girl. Oh, he would tease me
and make me do things, but he made a lot over me.

“This time Jim gave up. ‘All right, Isabel,’ he said, ‘if that is
the way you feel about it.’ Then he sat down in a chair, looking too
forlorn, and stared out of the window. I was not expecting any such
performance—thought I should be made to behave, as usual. I went out
and banged the door, and then I felt so mean over it that I came
back in, and there was Jim still sitting in the chair. And I love
Jim next to Father, so I went up and peeked around the chair and
said, ‘What’s the matter, Jim?’ He just held out his arms and I got
in his lap and we made up, and Jim told me why he did not want me to
do this. I listened to him this time, and then he told me that when
our mother knew she could not live, when Edwin was a tiny baby, she
asked Jim to help Father look after the children, especially me! I
was scarcely five and Jim about thirteen then. Think of it! Poor
Jim, with six children younger than he was! But then he has a
perfectly lovely disposition, and is real jolly, too. I imagine it
did not wear on him as much as you might think. I told you how he
taught me to swim, didn’t I?”

“Yes.”

“This time I must have been about ten years old. I told Jim that I
was sorry and that I would stand by him. And so I have, especially
with the younger boys.”

“Which ones do you call Shorty and Slim?”

“Will is Slim, and Milton is Shorty. I’ll not describe any of the
boys. You’ll get them all fixed without much trouble, I think. All
the boys have nicknames, but you can get their real names first. I
call them by their own names almost altogether now.”

“I thought that you had never known your mother at all. But you must
have been old enough to remember her.”

“It’s very hazy. Auntie had me away from home a good deal because my
mother was not strong for several years before she died.”

“I’m thankful that my mother lived as long as she did, because I
would not have been taught anything but what is rough and unkind by
my stepmother. I helped my mother with everything and studied with
her till she grew too ill. Then I did all the housework till my
father married again. We haven’t a big house, though, and there was
only Father except when there were men to help on the ranch. Then we
hired somebody to help me.”

“How old were you then?”

“Past fifteen.”

“You seemed like such a little thing last year when you first came.”

“I was sixteen, though, a whole year older than you. I’ve grown a
good deal since last year. My clothes all had to be let out and
down, you know.”

“I suppose it was because you were so thin, and then your hair was
skinned back so tight——”

“And my clothes were so funny.”

“Oh, I wouldn’t say that. But really I am not so far from seventeen
now. The ages I gave you were our last birthdays.”

Isabel and Virginia had been talking to each other all the way to
Greycliff Village. Now they waked up to their surroundings enough to
say goodbye to other girls, received their through tickets from the
chaperoning teacher, and waited a short time for the train. This
took them west instead of east, and was to land them in the little
town at about eleven o’clock. As Virgie wanted to be as saving as
possible, they did not even take a Pullman. “And what was the use?”
said Isabel. “We had no need of a sleeper—why go to bed for a few
hours? And they always make up the berths about nine or ten o’clock.
I’d rather be in the ordinary coach, even if it is for nine or ten
hours.” This was very good of Isabel, and the girls were so happy
that nothing made much difference. Fortified with some magazines and
a box of candy, they managed to put in the rest of the day very
comfortably, taking their meals in the dining car. The wintry
landscape was not unpleasing, and they were almost surprised when
they found the end of the journey at hand.

“Who will meet us?” asked Virginia.

“Whoever happens to be at liberty. Probably Jim will come, but it
might be Will or Milton, or both.”

“Aren’t you lucky to have so many brothers to look after you!”

“I believe I am. It’s Jim—there he is!”

Virginia glanced out of the window as the train was pulling into the
station and the girls were gathering up their bags and magazines.
“He looks a little like Isabel,” she thought, “but tall, rather——”
The image of Jim in his blue every-day suit was blurred, and the
girls hurried down the aisle to the door.

“This is Virginia, Jim—my nice brother, Virgie. Where’s the
machine?”

Jim took the baggage from the girls, led them to where a Ford
machine stood waiting, and tucked them and the bags within. “Wait
till I see about the checks,” said he, and disappeared in the
freight room of the small station. But he soon reappeared and they
started on their way to Isabel’s. The streets were a mixture of mud
and snow. It had been sleeting a little and Jim drove carefully
through the main streets, past neat frame houses, with here and
there one of brick, stone or stucco, till they reached a big,
rambling old-time colonial house, set in a large yard.

“We’ve never taken our fence down, like so many of the folks,” said
Isabel, apologetically, as she pointed out the place and the low
iron fence. “But we have all kinds of vines over it in the summer,
clematis and ramblers and things, I was so disappointed not to have
you here when the town looks pretty. Hilary would be delighted with
our little orchard in bird time.”

Out of the house came two hatless youths as the machine drew up to
the curb. “Mercy—nothing on their heads this cold day!” exclaimed
Virginia; but Isabel and Jim only smiled.

“The twins, Virgie,” said Isabel, as she climbed out. Jim handed the
bags to the smiling boys, Virgie was introduced to “Slim” and
“Shorty,” and they were in the warm house in a jiffy. “I bungled
most of my introductions, Virginia,” said Isabel. “Now see if I can
properly present the boys to you.”

All the boys had kept awake till Isabel and her friend should
arrive, but Norman and Edwin, having satisfied their affection for
Isabel and their curiosity about Virginia, soon disappeared. Virgie
placed them at once and was sure she would remember which was which,
and noted how like Isabel her next older brother, Lou, was. Jim she
had met first, and had his appearance stored away in her mind. But
she was puzzled about the twins. They looked alike, as twins do,
though there was enough difference, Virgie thought, to make
distinction not too hard, but she was mixed on the introduction and
thought that she would have to ask Isabel again. Will caught a
puzzled look from her, and accustomed to the situation, called,
“Come here, Shorty, I want to make sure that Miss Virgie knows us.”

Virginia looked up at a tall, slim figure, taller than Jim, with
merry brown eyes and slightly stooping shoulders. The boys laughed
at her mystified look. “Shorty!” she gasped.

“Because he _isn’t_ short, Virgie,” said Isabel. “Boys are that
way.”

“Then you are Will, and ‘Slim,’” said Virginia, looking at Will’s
sturdy proportions.

“Exactly,” said he. “Milton is so studious that he is getting a
trifle round-shouldered, but when he gets his growth we think that
he will be all right.”

“Milton’s getting his growth is another of our brilliant jokes,”
explained Isabel. “He is over six feet now. Oh, here’s Father,” as a
quiet, pleasant looking man came in with Jim, and embraced his
daughter. “We’ll find Auntie upstairs, I suppose, seeing that the
rooms are warm enough, and taking the bags to the right place
herself, instead of letting Jim know where to put them.”

It was not long before the family had said good-night and the girls
were tucked away in Isabel’s room, big and airy in summer-time, but
warm now from a furnace fire. Good, substantial walnut furniture,
homemade book shelves, and clean window curtains were in evidence.
“Do you like a big pillow?” asked Isabel.

“No, I’ll just sleep on the little one,” answered Virginia. Isabel
took two large square pillows from the bed and dumped them on a
chair.

“Auntie insists on having these, for fear somebody might want them.
The two little pillows, you see, take the place of a bolster. She
has a bolster and even bigger pillows than these in her room. I
don’t know whether she sleeps on them or not. Isn’t it funny the way
different people do?”

“I bought a baby pillow, you remember, to take to camp last summer.”

“It makes you straight to sleep without any pillow.”

“You know what the girls say about our pillows at school, don’t
you?”

“‘One feather in each, but if you double it it makes two!’ My, how
sleepy I am!”

Morning woke Virginia with a pleasant sense of being in family life.
It was vacation for the boys as well. Jim and his father, who had no
vacation from business, rose early, were served with breakfast by
Auntie, and went on their way. The school people slept till a later
hour. Virgie started up when she heard slight sounds, but Isabel
told her to rest as long as she wanted to. “The arrangement is that
we shall get our own breakfasts when we feel like it.”

“What could be nicer?” replied Virgie as she sank back on her
pillow.

“We shall have cocoa, any kind of breakfast food that you want, some
fruit, of course—and what else? I shall interview the pantry when I
get up. If we stay in bed too late, of course, the boys may leave us
scant choice.”

“It is so funny to think of all those boys around, I can’t realize
it. But I think that your brothers are as fine as can be. I’m not
used to boys, and I suppose I shall seem terribly stupid about their
jokes and all.”

“I’ve learned to hold my own with them, but you need not worry. You
are a guest and are not to be teased. You can just look pleasant at
anything you don’t understand. Jim won’t do any teasing. He’s gotten
past that age.”

“I’ve heard that boys have ‘ages.’”

“Yes, they do. But Jim and Father would never stand for any horrid
practical jokes—except just little ones, so I haven’t had such a
terrible time, after all. Sometimes I think it’s pretty fine to have
so many brothers. I always used to wish that one of them had been a
sister, but I concluded that there wasn’t any of the boys that I
could spare, anyhow, and if I had a sister she’d have to be extra.
Then I went to Greycliff and at once had a lot of sisters! The
Psyche Club supplies the lack!”

The girls talked on till, thoroughly awake, they began to feel the
pangs of hunger. “I believe I could eat a piece of hot toast and a
scrambled egg,” said Isabel. “How about you, Virgie?” Virginia
acknowledged that the suggestion was pleasing. It was not long
before the girls were down in the big kitchen with Aunt Helen, who
seemed pleased to have them there, and started to the pantry to
bring out something for their breakfast.

“Remember the rules we made about vacations, Aunt Helen. Except in
cases of sickness, late comers get their own breakfast.”

“But we have company,” protested Aunt Helen.

“Virgie isn’t company. I promised her to treat her like one of the
family. Here, Virginia, you can cut the bread while I hunt up the
butter and things.”

Isabel flew around capably, putting some puffed wheat in dishes,
setting out the cream, cutting some oranges in two, setting out a
bottle of milk and the can of cocoa. “What do you suppose we girls
are so crazy about cocoa for?”

“I imagine it’s because it’s so much like chocolate candy.”

“Good morning,” said somebody.

“What do you think of that!” exclaimed Isabel. “Here are Will and
Milton down for breakfast, too. I’ll be good to them and ask them to
have breakfast with us. We’ll all eat our fruit and cereal together
as soon as I get the cocoa made. Then I’ll scramble the eggs while
you or the boys make the toast and everything will be hot. We’ll
want two cups of cocoa, won’t we?”

“Four of everything, please,” said Milton, his tall form appearing
in the door.

“I meant two cups apiece, Milt,” replied his sister. “You and Will
are invited to take breakfast with us. Please get the electric
toaster ready. Yes, I believe I would cut a few more pieces,
Virginia. You don’t know how it disappears in this family, and when
we make it right at the table it is so good and hot. That is one
thing we have in this town, electricity, if we haven’t natural gas
to cook with. In the summer we use coal-oil stoves, and fireless
cookers.”

“Isn’t she the little talker, though,” asked Milton. “My, but it’s
been quiet here till today.”

“Quiet!” said Aunt Helen.

“That’s right, Aunt Helen, stand up for me a little,” said the
dimpling Isabel. Aunt Helen was making mince for the Christmas pies
and stood at the stove stirring her savory mixture. She smiled in
her demure way and stirred in a few more raisins.

“Going to have any pumpkin pies, Aunt Helen?” inquired Will.

“We always have them, you know,” replied his aunt.

“Tell us if there are any plans for a good time this week,” said
Isabel, looking at her brothers. “Please watch this cocoa a minute,
Virgie. I have to get some more milk.”

“We have only been here two or three days ourselves,” said Will.

“Don’t tease your little sister,” said Milton. “Tell her what we are
going to do.” By this time the breakfast was nearly enough ready for
the young people to sit down, a progressive breakfast, as Isabel
said.

“What is it?” asked Isabel as she passed the cream.

“The boys are going to get up an old-fashioned sled party, going out
to Effie Smith’s, in the country, Virginia.”

“How can you with the roads as they are?”

“Cold weather is predicted, Isabel. Didn’t you feel how much colder
it was?”

“It was cold enough, but you have to have snow.”

“The blizzard is obligingly on its way. We’re going to have frozen
roads, plenty of snow, and clearing weather for the trip. Mark my
words!”

A rapid step on the stairs, dash through the hall, and Lou Hunt was
in the dining room. “Come on, Lou,” said Isabel cheerily. “Room for
one more. Cocoa on the stove.” Lou spoke his morning greetings to
Virginia, cut another orange, filled a dish with cereal, a cup with
hot cocoa, and sat down next to Virginia. The two other boys were
opposite the girls, and Will pushed some extra silver over to Lou.

The informal, jolly ways of the family delighted Virgie. She
listened to the bright comments of the boys, putting in a word or
two when addressed. Will told how the daughter of the local magnate
was going to give a party and had invited the older Hunt boys and
Isabel. At Will’s expression the girls exchanged glances, and Isabel
said, “See, Virgie, there it is, ‘the Hunt boys and Isabel!’”

“I told her that one of the Greycliff girls was coming and she
immediately extended the invitation to Virginia.”

“Oh, how good of her!” said Virginia, delighted.

“Effie has sent out regular invitations. Yours is on the mantel in
the sitting room, Isabel. We forgot to give your mail to you last
night. She found out that the boys were thinking of it, so got up
these cute invitations. They say, ‘Ye Old Time Sledding Party’ and
run on in a quaint way, leaving the date unsettled till snow time.
Her brother is going to call up the boys when the snow is right and
they are ready for us.”

“Meanwhile,” said Milton, “it is up to us to get our girls engaged
ahead. May I have the pleasure of your company, Miss Hope?”

“Listen to that!” exclaimed Will, while Virgie looked, surprised and
flushing a little at this invitation. “I was going to ask her
myself. This is no place to ask a girl to a party—at the breakfast
table before the rest of us are awake!”

“I believe in efficiency,” said Milton, offering Virgie a piece of
hot toast. “Make your plans early and lose no time in carrying them
out.”

A great clatter was heard on the stairs. Whiz! Norman slid down the
bannisters and Edwin followed. In a moment Norman appeared, and
Edwin’s delicate face was thrust inside the door as he peeped at the
girls.

“Come on in, Edwin,” said Isabel. “Norman, I thought you were too
old to slide down bannisters.”

“Seems to me I remember a girl that did it not so very long ago,”
said Norman, who had already greeted Virginia.

“That was before I went to Greycliff and learned better.”

The others were through with their late breakfast, but Isabel waited
to help Aunt Helen prepare something for the two younger boys, while
Will, Milton and Lou accompanied Virginia into the sitting room.
This was a new experience to Virginia, “so many boys all nice to her
at once,” as she said to Isabel. Milton, who remembered Isabel’s
early description of Virginia, said to her in private, “Why didn’t
you tell us she was good-looking?”

“Why, I never thought about her looks. But she certainly has changed
from when she came to Greycliff. She was half sick then, and her
clothes didn’t fit her. Now she is happy, and well, and her hair is
glossy and thick. I believe Virgie is almost pretty.”

“She looks as if she had some sense. I like her. But I did that on
purpose to get ahead of old Will.”

“Don’t worry. Virgie isn’t going to think you are in love with her
because you ask her to a party. I told her you would all be good to
her and I knew I could count on you to make her have a good time.”

“She shall have it,” said Milton as he went off whistling.

Virginia had intended to keep a little diary of events on her visit.
But they moved too quickly for that. The snow came that had been
promised by the weather man. Bundled in wraps, robes and hay, the
gay sled load of young folks sped to their destination in the
country, to the tune of sleigh bells. The party in town came off
duly, a day or two before Christmas. The boys had been making skis
in the wood-shed and kitchen and Virginia and Isabel had had their
suspicions. Sure enough, on Christmas morning each girl had a fine
pair, marked “Christmas greetings from the boys.”

It was hard to leave such a home full of cheer and Virginia was
especially pleased to have Mr. Hunt tell her how much it had added
to their Christmas time to have her with them. Every boy was at the
train to see them off to Greycliff again. “Promise to come back next
summer,” said Milton.

“If I can,” Virginia assured him. “Oh, Isabel,” said she, as the
train carried them farther and farther away, “what a wonderful time
I have had!”

“What did you like best?” asked Isabel.

“The folks, and the nice times you all have together. The parties
were just great, but I liked the times in the kitchen when we were
cracking nuts or making candy. Your brothers are handy at
everything.”

“We’ve had to help Aunt Helen so much. Father and Jim made us in the
beginning. Now we hire help, though, to come in and do the heavy
cleaning. But it takes so much money to keep me at Greycliff and
help the two boys through college. Lou will go next year, you know.”

“It was such a help to talk with them about things I could do to
help out with my funds.” Virginia thought, too, with satisfaction,
of the boxes of homemade candy which were on their way to Greycliff
by the same train.

“You couldn’t do the things they do, of course, but it is fun to
talk it over.”

“That recipe of your Aunt Helen’s is better than mine for the nut
candy. I think the candy will keep soft longer. I feel as if I ought
to pay her for it.”

“She was so glad to have a hand in it. Now we are going to charge
enough for this candy to make what we ought to on it. Now, remember,
and don’t get soft-hearted and give it away. I say ‘we,’ even if you
would insist on buying all the materials. You see I’m interested in
this business of yours.”

“You forget all those hickory nuts and walnuts that Milton insisted
on cracking and picking out. I think that Edwin and Norman gathered
most of them, didn’t they?”

“Yes, but they had such a lot that they would never get eaten. They
don’t make candy except when I’m home. Oh, once in a while Aunt
Helen does. But it isn’t good for Edwin, and we have to be so
careful about him. I’m afraid he will be sick after our Christmas
celebrations.”

“I hope not. Well, I’ll remember, Isabel, at least about this
particular candy, that it is very valuable, and charge enough to the
girls. This candy represents a great deal more than just sugar and
nuts!”



                            CHAPTER XII

                          WITH THE NORTHS


Lilian scarcely knew how to feel about these vacation days. It was
so strange not to be going back to the old home. Yet she was happy,
too, to be entering the new experience of a home in the same city
with Cathalina, to say nothing of Philip, whom she would see at this
holiday time. Judge and Mrs. North had taken an apartment
temporarily, perhaps permanently, though both were missing the
freedom and space of their former home. It was, however, much easier
for Mrs. North to look after a compact apartment than the big
two-story and attic place which had been theirs for so many years.

“It seems that I never can have a visit from you, Lil,” said Hilary,
on the day of departure from Greycliff. “Last year it was one thing;
this year something else.”

“Mother scarcely had any visit with me last summer, you know,” said
Lilian.

“Yes, I know, and there are other attractions in New York as well,”
and Hilary looked at Lilian with a quizzical little smile.

“I understand that somebody nice is coming to Cincinnati, too,” said
Lilian.

“Maybe,” assented Hilary. “Campbell said that he was trying hard to
plan it. He will just stop off, you know.”

“Oh, certainly—just accidentally call around, as it were.”

Hilary laughed. “Not very accidentally, I guess.”

“Ready, Lilian?” called Cathalina. “There is the ’bus.”

“Coming!”

Arrived in New York, the girls found two brothers to meet them,
Richard North and Philip Van Buskirk, with Phil’s car. Phil was
driving, and it must be confessed that he paid more attention to
Lilian than to Cathalina, whom he left to Richard, putting Lilian
next to himself in the car. Richard and Cathalina exchanged an
amused glance, then dismissed Lilian and Philip from their thoughts
and had a good visit, while Richard told Cathalina about the North
affairs and his good success in the office.

“I think that I am in luck,” said he, “to step into a firm in this
city with every chance of making good. And you may be interested in
knowing that we have our eyes on another young man. He has been
reading with another lawyer a little, but we think that we may be
able to offer sufficient inducement to get him to come with us.”
Richard’s lips curved into a smile. How he enjoyed using that “we”!
And Cathalina was all interest, for she knew a young man who was
studying law, going to law school when he could, or reading with a
lawyer.

“Of course Dad and his old friends will be in the game for a long
time, but they want a pair of us young chaps, and I’d like to work
with Van Horne.”

“Captain Van Horne!”

“Yes. I met him at your house, you know.”

“I’ve only seen him a few times since school began, and he didn’t
say anything about it.”

“He doesn’t know it, but I feel that he will consider it an
opportunity, and if he comes to New York on his vacation, I’ll have
him meet my father and his friend.”

“Is your other sister coming to spend Christmas with you? Lilian
said that no one had mentioned it, nor answered her questions about
it.”

“We have been so busy that I judge Mother hasn’t written very fully
to anybody, and I have not written at all. No, it is too far to
bring the kiddies in cold weather, and there is a little baby this
year.”

Philip, meanwhile, was making arrangements to see as much as
possible of Lilian during the vacation. “I don’t know how many
family parties they are arranging for this time,” Philip was saying,
“but unless you are invited, too, I don’t expect to be among those
present. Now, have you any special plans for your time?” Philip was
watching the traffic, but his voice was eager.

“No, I haven’t, Philip, except to be with Father and Mother and Dick
on Christmas Day, and go to church with them on Sundays.”

“Good. Now, could you let me take you to a lot of things that are
going on? There is some music that I know you will enjoy. Suppose I
come over this evening with the ‘program,’ and let you make the
dates ahead.”

Lilian turned to look at Philip and met a glance that made her drop
her eyes. “Do come, Phil,” she said, “I shall be delighted to see
you.”

“I’m glad you didn’t say ‘we,’ Lilian,” replied Philip. “And I’d
really like to carry you off somewhere tonight, for some ices and
cake or something—anything, you know, so we can talk. After I’ve
seen the family, of course. Are you too tired?”

“No, indeed. I think it’s lovely of you to want to make me have such
a good time.”

“I’m not altogether unselfish, Lilian,” said Philip with a laugh.
“I’ve been looking forward to this vacation. I enjoyed having you at
our house, but there were so many other people around that I had to
play host to. Now there isn’t anybody else?”

“Where is Ann Maria?” asked Lilian, mischievously.

“At Aunt Katherine’s, as usual. Why, Lilian!” exclaimed Philip, as
he began to understand the meaning of her question. “Did you—do you
think I care especially for Ann Maria?”

But before Lilian could answer that question, Cathalina leaned
forward with some remark to Philip, and then they had arrived in
front of the apartment building. Saying to both Lilian and Dick that
he planned to “run over” in the evening, Philip drove off with
Cathalina to the Van Buskirk home, where welcome waited for
Cathalina.

Lilian’s heart was not beating in quite normal fashion as Philip
asked that last question, but as she rode up in the elevator with
Dick she put the matter temporarily out of her mind, and prepared to
meet her dear people.

“Oh, what a dear apartment!” she exclaimed, after the first
greetings were over. “And here are all our nice old things, Father’s
law books and all, and grandmother’s old mahogany. Why, it seems
like home, after all. I guess home is chiefly folks and a few of the
things you love. And it will be so easy to do things here.”

“I found a good woman to come twice a week, and the rest I shall do
myself. Come, see the new gas range; and Father and Dick have
brought in all sorts of electrical utensils, toaster, grill—here
they are. But when you have rested, I want to hear you sing.”

“Oh, yes. You know I could not keep away from the piano, my beloved
piano!—and I have all sorts of pretty new things. Some of them my
teacher gave me, and some of them I just picked up from hearing what
the other girls sang. Eloise and I have been getting some pretty
duets. I thought perhaps Philip and I might sing together, too.”

“Has Philip written to you steadily, Lilian?” asked her mother.

“Yes, about every week.”

“You are pretty young, daughter, for anything serious.”

“Yes, I know it.”

“Are you sure that it may not be Philip’s fine home, and stylish
clothing, and the free way in which he can spend money that are
attractive?”

“Mother, Philip would be himself, wouldn’t he, if he didn’t have
those things? And Phil is really gifted. The first minute we met we
began to talk and haven’t it all said yet. He plays wonderfully, and
I guess he could make a living at that if he didn’t have any money.
Then he has so much good sense, too, and is so interested in his
father’s business. He asked me to let him write an accompaniment for
that little lullaby I made up, and sang for them last summer, and
I’m just crazy to try it. He has it finished, he says. Just wait
till you see him. He is coming over to see me tonight. Or perhaps
you have met him?”

“No. Mrs. Van Buskirk told me that he would arrive last night. We
were invited out there last week. I shall be glad to see the boy who
is so interested in my little girl, but I scarcely know what to
think about it, Lilian.”

“I don’t believe you need worry, Mother. But I like Philip, better
than any boy I know. And he seems so grown up now.”

“This is his last year in college, isn’t it?”

“Yes; and he told me last summer that if we get into the war he has
promised his father to finish out the year anyway. Have you met Mrs.
Van Ness and the Stuarts and the rest?”

“Yes, a number of the relatives. We put our letters in the church,
too, and have met some fine people there. But I have been so busy
getting settled that I have had time to think of little else.
Several times Mrs. Van Buskirk has telephoned and brought the car
around for me. We had lunch together, and went shopping for the
apartment. She is charming.”

“Indeed she is, and I know she is thinking the same thing of you.
Just wait till I see her. About the first thing she will say is, ‘My
dear, what a lovely woman your mother is!’”

Mrs. North laughed. “I am considerably older than she, I think.”

“I don’t know about that. You may be a grandmother, but I scarcely
think that our Margery is so much older than Philip.”

“Oh, yes, Lilian. Margery is twenty-five, and has been married four
years.”

“That is only a few years older, anyhow. She seems older because of
the three babies.”

Evening came, and Philip. Lilian did not know just where she might
be taken, but dressed for evening and laid out her pretty new
evening wrap, over which she had gone into raptures. It was to have
been a Christmas present, but learning of Philip’s plans for Lilian,
Mrs. North had decided to give it in advance. For a cruel parent,
who did not approve of anything serious in the line of love and
marriage for Lilian in the near future, Mrs. North was taking a
great deal of interest! “But if you are going around so much this
vacation, I suppose you will need it now,” she said.

Although Philip was so accustomed to meeting people, he felt some
measure of embarrassment when he met Lilian’s parents. Judge North
he knew, and Dick, but Mrs. North would appraise him, he felt, as he
came to call upon her daughter so definitely. However, he intended
to make a general visit as well, and in the pleasant atmosphere of
hospitality, with many things in common as subjects of conversation,
Philip’s embarrassment soon passed. Lilian’s piano, newly tuned, had
to be tried, and Philip surprised Mrs. North, as people were wont to
be surprised when they heard him play. Dick left soon to meet an
engagement, and as Philip finished the accompaniment he was playing
for Lilian, he whispered, “Shall we go?”

“We are leaving, now, folks,” announced Lilian, bowing to her
father’s applause. “Did you like that, Father?”—starting to get her
wraps as she spoke.

It was the little electric coupé that was parked outside. “Isn’t
this fine!” exclaimed Philip as he tucked the robes around Lilian.
“Are we really by ourselves going off somewhere? Where would you
like to go?”

“I haven’t an idea,” said Lilian. “Anywhere.”

“That is the way I feel about it,” said Philip, “only in a different
degree, I fear me. As long as I have you, the place is immaterial.
And before we start I want to ask you what you meant by asking me
where Ann Maria was. And you did not answer my question.”

“I couldn’t, you know.”

“Yes, I know. But you will answer me now, won’t you?”

“Let me see; what was it?”

Philip hesitated. “Some way, I think you know, don’t you? I asked
you if you thought that I cared for Ann Maria.”

“You said ‘especially’.”

“Yes, I _thought_ you would remember!”

“I have been trying to think, Philip, how I would answer that.
Because, you see, I should not have asked the first question. I did
think, Philip,” continued Lilian, honestly, “that you must care for
her, or that there had been some special affection between you.”

“Was it anything that I did?” asked Philip.

“It was more her manner, a sort of taking possession of you. But I
must apologize for referring to it at all. It isn’t any of my
affair.”

“Oh, it isn’t?” said Philip hopelessly. “Then you didn’t suppose I
meant anything when I talked to you in the pine grove at
Merrymeeting, or other times?”

“I—I didn’t know—what to think about it all.”

“Cathalina could have told you all about Ann Maria.”

“I didn’t ask her.”

“Didn’t you care enough?”

“Oh, Philip, can’t you understand how a girl feels? I _couldn’t_!”

“I could; I asked Cathalina all about those boys in your home town,
and at the military school.”

“That is very different.”

“I haven’t gone at it in the right way, I suppose. But you are a
friend of mine anyhow, aren’t you?”

“I should think I am!” Lilian laughed.

“As far as Ann Maria is concerned, I never have made love to Ann
Maria and never shall, but that’s what I am trying to do to you! I
thought at first that I ought not to do it. I thought your father
and mother would not like to have you in love with me, and perhaps I
ought not to try to make you like me. Then the prospect of our
getting into the war made me think so all the more. But, Lilian, I
can’t stand it. If I go to war and get all shot up I’ll not let you
marry me, but I must know whether you can love me a little or not.
You are the only girl on earth for me, and I want a chance to be
with you this week. I’m asking you to marry me, sweetheart, and I
want you to think it over and let me know before the vacation is
over.” Philip’s earnest eyes looked into Lilian’s. He evidently had
no idea of the high regard in which Lilian held him, for he spoke as
if she might have to consider the matter of her affections for some
time.

“You take my breath away, Philip,” said Lilian.

“Yes?” inquired Philip. “I’d like to run away with you this minute,”
he added. “But the idea of an elopement might not strike you!”
Philip had started the little car by this time, and they rolled
easily along. “I’m taking you to a quiet little French place where
we shall have good things to eat and fine service.”

Over the little table where they sat a long time to visit, Lilian
said: “Philip, since you have said so much tonight, and put an end
to some of my worries, I want to tell you that you need not be so
humble about my liking you.”

“Lilian!” exclaimed Philip under his breath, his eyes lighting up.

“Yes, I believe I’ll tell you how horribly jealous _I’ve_ been of
Ann Maria.”

“Honestly? Was that why some of your letters were so cool?”

“Were they? Yes, I suppose so. I’ve trusted you _most_ of the time,
though.”

“And you do altogether now?”

“Oh, yes. But you are right about the folks. I’m afraid Mother will
think I’m too young to be engaged to you.”

“But how about you, Lilian?”

“I seem to feel pretty grown up, Philip.”

“What does that mean?”

“I can’t imagine any one, Philip, as fine as you are, and in spite
of all the common sense I’ve tried to bring to bear upon the
subject, thinking that perhaps you did not care for me anyhow, and
that Father and Mother would say I couldn’t be married for a long,
long time—some way——” Lilian hesitated and blushed, while Philip
leaned toward her in anxious anticipation. “Please don’t stop,” he
urged whimsically.

“Well, Philip,” Lilian continued soberly, “we seem to belong to each
other, just naturally. And I will confess, too, that the best thing
about this vacation was that I should see you again!”

“Lilian!” exclaimed Philip again. They were talking in undertones,
while playing with their fast melting ice-cream, for the room was
warm, if it was winter outside. “I had no idea that I was going to
be made so happy this first night of your coming. I thought perhaps
I could persuade you, if I tried hard enough! Indeed, I have had the
feeling that we belonged to each other, but I scarcely hoped that it
might be mutual. Will you have something else?” The waiter was
approaching again.

“Nothing more,” said Lilian.

“I’ve something to show you when we get in the car,” said Philip, as
with grace he ushered out his lady love. “Oh—I believe I’ll wait
till we get home. There is too much to say. You are the most
wonderful girl not to keep me worrying all week.”

“When you love people, you don’t want them to be unhappy,” said
Lilian.

When they reached the apartment house again and the car was drawn up
to the curb, Philip reached in his pocket, drew out a little package
and slowly opened it. He took out something, while Lilian gasped in
astonishment. “You will think me rather assured of the final
outcome, I am afraid, but I wanted to persuade myself that it would
be all right, you see. I went into Tiffany’s yesterday. Now the
hand, Lilian.”



                            CHAPTER XIII

                              THE RING


When Lilian entered the apartment at the hall door, she peeped into
the front room and saw her father working at his desk. Her mother
had evidently retired. She knew better than to disturb her father
when he was working on a case. He would be patient, but it was a
real interruption at such times. She only tapped gently on the door,
saying, “Good-night, Father, I’m in,” and waited till he turned his
head, nodded and smiled, and turned again to his work. “I’m afraid
he will forget, as he does sometimes, and then Mother will wake up
and ask him if I’m in. I believe I’ll leave my wraps inside the
door—there. If anybody does any prowling around, they’ll see my
wraps.” With which ungrammatical remark, Miss North retired to her
room, but not to sleep—yet. She had been so engrossed in the words
and presence of her lover that she had not yet half looked at the
ring, though she had seen that it was beautiful. Turning on her
light, she held up her hand with the flashing gem upon it. “Oh, you
dear Philip boy,” she said, “to get that exquisite thing for me!”
But Lilian was big enough to value more than the clear diamond the
sincere love of the giver, and slipped into her warm nest under the
blankets to lie awake a long time, and go over the new, sweet story
that Philip had told her once and again. Her little prayer was one
of gratitude and her last thought was, “I shall see Philip
tomorrow.”

In the morning, Mrs. North tapped on Lilian’s door and came in to
visit with her. Lilian gave her mother a warm hug and then slipped
her left hand into her mother’s. “Look!” said she.

“Oh, Lilian—just what I was afraid of!”

“Is it so dreadful, Mother?”

“Oh, no, my child, but you are so young to be engaged.”

“Not if you are sure, Mother. Besides we do not intend to be married
for some time. I am not so _terribly_ young, either. And I don’t see
what possible objection you could have to Philip.”

Mrs. North smiled. “I liked him very much. He is unusually
attractive, and his face is good as well as handsome.”

“That’s a dear mother! But I accepted the ring, Mother, with the
understanding that if you and Father felt too bad about it I would
not wear it, and we would not announce the engagement. But we can’t
help caring for each other. I tried not to, because I thought Philip
liked Ann Maria; and he was so polite to everybody that I thought
his attentions to me might not mean anything.”

“Well, little girl, I’ll talk to your father, and see what he says.
It was very dear of you to be willing to wait in regard to the ring,
and the acknowledged engagement.” Mrs. North kissed Lilian, patted
the little hand that wore the ring, and went out to talk to her
husband.

“What do you think, Father?”

The judge considered a moment. “How old is Lilian?”

“Eighteen last month. And girls aren’t as grown up now as they used
to be.”

“Oh, yes, they are. They just go to school longer. Well, Mother, I’d
rather this hadn’t happened right now, of course. On the other hand,
this young fellow has the qualities that would always appeal to
Lilian; he is a good, clean boy, and will have means enough to
support her. A father always has to think of that, you know. He is
going into business with his father, unless that war over in Europe
finally gets all our young men. It looks as if we should be in it
pretty soon. How do you think Lilian would feel if she were not
engaged to Philip and he goes to France?”

“She would probably be better satisfied to be openly engaged to him,
for she seems to care for him so much. But how is one to know!”

“How does anybody know? How old were you when we were married,
Mother?”

“Twenty.”

“And we had been engaged a year. This is not so much worse, is it?”

“No, I suppose not.”

“You talk it over with Lilian, Mother. Whatever you decide is
acceptable to me. I like the young man and the family, and we do not
want to spoil Lilian’s happiness. On the other hand, I do not like
long engagements, if they can be avoided. Lilian has two or three
years of school, Philip this one, and then business—or war.”

“So the learned judge wants his wife to decide after all.”

“Yes. I get enough experience in that line.”

At breakfast they all talked on general topics. Dick had had Louise
Van Ness out to a concert the night before, and reported on the
program, asking Lilian where she and Philip had gone. Plans for
Christmas and New Year’s were discussed. Lilian had taken off the
ring before coming to the table. No need to tell Dick until the
matter was decided. Judge North and Richard departed for the city in
due time, while Lilian and her mother were making the “house” neat.
Lilian told her mother the latest news from Greycliff, with much
interesting chatter about the Psyche Club, Virgie’s plans, the class
work, and other activities. Very sweet and womanly was Lilian this
morning. Finally, each found some bit of Christmas handwork to do,
and sat down in the living room to discuss the important topic.

“I am trying to think it out, Lilian,” said Mrs. North. “I think
that you know how I feel about it. We realize that it is important
and serious to you both, and something about which you will finally
decide yourselves. And both your father and I appreciate your fine
attitude of consulting with us, and listening to our advice for the
present. Your happiness and welfare are our first concern. Do you
think that if you wear the ring this one happy week among the
relatives, you could lay it off during the rest of the school year
at Greycliff? I feel pretty sure that Miss Randolph would prefer it.
I want you to be a real school girl this year, yet now it is too
late to go back to the old relation with Philip. Do you think that
you can get your lessons as well?”

“Oh, yes! I’ll not be worrying about Ann Maria now, especially if I
may wear the ring here!”

Lilian had scarcely finished her sentence when the telephone
sounded, and she dropped her work into her chair while she ran to
answer it. There was somebody at the other end of the line who
brought out a pleased smile on Lilian’s face as she listened. “Oh,
yes, we are up, and just sitting working on Christmas things. How
can I answer that over the telephone? Yes, I think you’d better come
over at once. All right, wait a minute—Mother, can we go out to
lunch with Philip?”

“Most happy,” said her mother.

“Yes, Philip, she will; says ‘Most happy.’ Yes, it is pretty
_nearly_ all right. Come over and talk to her about it. Very well.
Goodbye.”

Lilian came back smiling mischievously. “I told him to come over and
talk it over with you. He is afraid to do it, I know.”

“Naughty child, you know that I can’t say anything disagreeable to
him.”

“You won’t want to. Philip Van Buskirk is warranted to melt the
hardest heart.”

“Yours, my daughter, was not hard to begin with!”

“It was adamant to every suitor till Philip appeared on the scene!
Picture, if you can, the mid-Victorian Lilian scorning her suitors,
but fainting in the arms of the true hero.”

“What is the name of your melodrama?”

“The Cruel Parent, or the Fate of Lilian North.”

Lilian was her gay self. Philip was coming. Her parents liked him,
however doubtful they might be of the wisdom of an engagement. There
would be more than a week in which to wear the beautiful ring. This
itself would announce to the circle of Philip’s relatives the new
relation. Then she and Philip could write during the months of
separation, while they finished the school year. There would be
vacations and all sorts of good times ahead. What a lovely world—for
Philip loved her!

It took a little courage on Philip’s part to arrange this luncheon,
but no effort was too great to win and please Lilian’s mother.
Cathalina had heard him telephoning, the last few sentences, as she
came into the library where he was. “Wasn’t that Lilian?” she asked.

“Yes, dear sister; I am inviting Mrs. and Miss North to go out to
lunch with me.”

“Not going to ask us, too?” asked Cathalina, a little surprised.

“Not this time, Kit; the combination would be too much under the
circumstances.”

“What do you mean, Philly?”

“I’ll tell you. Come over here, Cathalina.”

Philip led Cathalina to the window-seat where he and Lilian had
visited more than once, during the house party of the previous
summer.

“Cathalina, I asked Lilian to marry me last night.”

“Oh, Philip. And did she say she would?”

“Yes, but she wasn’t sure what her father and mother would think
about her being engaged so young. She has heard them discuss those
matters. I don’t know what she has said to her mother about it, and,
of course, her father will not be home until night; but I couldn’t
stand it to wait, so I called up and asked Lilian and her mother to
go to lunch with me. Don’t you hope Mrs. North will be good to me?”

“Don’t worry. She will, I’m sure. Does Mother know?”

“I told her the other day that I was in love with Lilian, but I
think that it was no news to her. I suppose she saw it last summer.”

“Were you really, Philip, last summer?”

“Indeed I was.”

“It is so dear of you to tell me about it. I thought when you asked
me about whether Lilian cared much for those other boys that you
must care a good deal, and I have been so glad that Lilian liked
you. I could tell.”

“That was more than I could. But it’s all right now. How will you
like Lilian for a sister?”

“She is lovely, and we girls that live with her know. You are both
crazy about music, and both—Oh, everything is perfect about it. I’m
crazy to see her. But I don’t wonder you want to have them to lunch
alone till you know how you stand with Mrs. North. Are you going to
tell Mother about it?”

“Right away, before I go.”

“That is good—I think that she will be pleased.”

“Mothers are not always so pleased, but she likes Lilian; she told
me so.”

The luncheon went off successfully, Philip and Mrs. North feeling a
little more at home together. That evening, also, Philip appeared
again at the apartment, and Judge North took his hand at the door.
Putting his other hand on Philip’s shoulder, he asked. “Is this the
young man that wants to marry my little girl?”

“Yes, sir,” said Philip promptly and with dignity.

“Well, you could do worse!” concluded the judge, to Philip’s
astonishment and amusement. The judge laughed, too, saying, “Here,
Lilian, tell him what your mother’s conclusions are. We men have
small chance, Philip, small chance,” and Judge North shook his head,
pretending to be very solemn.

Lilian had her wraps at hand, for Philip was taking her to an
entertainment. It was to be Broadway tonight.

Cathalina was over the next morning, The girls had an exciting visit
in Lilian’s room, talking over the great event, looking at the ring
which expressed so much, and recalling past incidents.

“Do you remember that time when Philip arrived at camp just in time
to see you beat me in tennis?”

“Yes, I do.”

“Campbell told me then that Phil had a difficult problem on his
hands, choosing between his sister and ‘best girl,’ but he thought
that the ‘best girl’ stood first.”

“You don’t care, do you, Cathalina?”

“Not a bit. It is different, Lilian. Now I might fall in love
myself, you know. And I’ll have Phil for a brother to be proud of
always. This is so romantic; but you ought to have a great deal more
of trouble, to have it like a story, you know.”

“I’ve had all the worries I want, Cathalina Van Buskirk, and it is
terrible that I can’t wear his ring all the time!”

“But just think what a sensation it will make at the Christmas
gathering at our house.”

“Am I going to be there?”

“Of course you are. Aren’t you going to be in the family? Two years
ago when Hilary was visiting me, Cousin John had his sweetheart
there. And I know a secret about Christmas, too. Phil told me. If
you can’t wear a ring because it marks you as engaged, you can wear
something else, can’t you?”

“Why, yes! I hadn’t thought of that. I wonder what it is. Can I wear
it all the time?”

“Yes, if you want to.”

“He oughtn’t to give me anything more. The ring takes my breath
away, as Phil did last night. Do you think I’m silly, Cathalina?”

“No, Lilian. It would be dreadful, with Phil thinking so much of
you, if you could not care for him.”

“I wish old Hilary were here. I wrote her a tiny note this morning,
before you came.”

“She ought to be at the family dinner, too, but I imagine it won’t
be many years before she will. Campbell was struck with her that
very time. We shall miss Campbell. I suspect that he is on his way
to Cincinnati now. But I suppose you know all about their plans.”

“Hilary and I are very confidential, of course, but Hilary is shy
about her love affair, and does not say much about Campbell. She
writes him a long letter every week, though, and I think he writes
oftener.”

Mrs. Van Buskirk came alone to call on Lilian and her mother that
very afternoon. She was sweet and motherly to Lilian, and expressed
her pleasure in the arrangement. The entire North family were
invited to the family dinner at the Van Buskirk’s on Christmas
evening, but Mrs. North felt uncertain about herself and the judge,
for Christmas was a home day to Judge North. Lilian promised to be
there, and Mrs. Van Buskirk told her laughingly that indeed she
could not help herself, for Philip would be after her. Richard would
speak for himself later.

The North home was well decorated these vacation days, for Philip
either brought or sent flowers every day. Mrs. North insisted that
Lilian’s health would be undermined by the extravagant boxes of
candy which came, and new music, both classic and “rag-time,” found
its place upon Lilian’s piano. Such a happy time it was. Philip
accompanied Lilian, or at the Van Buskirk’s Cathalina accompanied
them both, or Lilian played a violin obligato while Philip sang and
Cathalina was at the piano.

On the night of the customary Christmas gathering, Philip drove over
early for the Norths. The judge had concluded to go. “We might as
well get acquainted with the relatives, Mother,” said he. Lilian had
been at home with them for the day, and Philip had been over only
once, bringing another little tribute early in the morning and
saying his “Merry Christmas” to them all. Judge North stated once or
twice that they were going to miss Philip as much as Lilian when the
vacation ended. “Philip is getting to be a habit,” said he. The most
fragrant pink roses of all that Philip had sent came for Lilian to
wear to the family dinner.

They found the Van Nesses there when they arrived. Little Charlotte,
older but just as pretty and spoiled, seized upon Philip at once and
was greatly taken with Lilian. “Are you one of our cousins?” she
asked.

“She is going to be, Charlotte,” replied Philip for Lilian. “Sit
here between us and I’ll tell you about it.”

“Oh, yes! It will be like Juliet and John. Do you like her, Philip?”

“I should think I do, Charlotte.”

“Do you like Philip, Lilian?”

“Do you, Charlotte?”

“Oh, everybody likes Philip. Of course I do.”

“So do I.”

Meeting so many aunts, uncles, and cousins was somewhat exciting to
Lilian, though she enjoyed it. But she knew how interested they all
were in Philip’s choice. Many of the younger people she had met in
the summer, and they greeted her as an old friend. Naturally
graceful, and of a frank, friendly disposition, Lilian gained the
approval of the assembled family. Ann Maria saw the flashing ring at
once, and asked Philip if congratulations were in order. When he
replied that they were she said, “Then you have mine, Philip,” and
went up to Lilian, saying in a low tone, “Welcome into the family,
Lilian.”

Nothing but the ring and Lilian’s presence indicated the engagement,
but Mrs. Van Buskirk was especially thoughtful of Lilian and saw
that she met all the friends at this annual family reunion. There
were several packages for Lilian on the Christmas tree, among them
the gift from Philip to which Cathalina had referred.

Philip stood near as Lilian opened the package, so prettily tied.
“Your chains,” he explained gravely. “Let me put them on, please.”

“‘My chains!’ Oh!” Lilian laughed, as she took from the cotton two
dainty gold circlets for her wrist. “Bracelets—how delicate and
pretty. You have the most exquisite taste, Philip.” Cathalina came
up just then, and Lilian held up her wrist, shaking her arm. “Hear
them clank, Cathalina? Phil says these are my chains.”

“They are what I said you could wear all the time, you know,” said
Cathalina.

“I shall, day and night.”



                            CHAPTER XIV

                        SKIING ON HIGH HILL


When the girls gathered again at Greycliff after the winter
vacation, there was much to tell. Lilian and Hilary exchanged
confidences, and Cathalina told Betty all about her vacation days,
and the romance surrounding Philip and Lilian. Lilian had left her
ring at home with her mother, for safe keeping and lest she be
tempted to wear it. But her “chains” she wore constantly, and took
great comfort in the thought that Philip considered them quite as
binding as a ring. She was quite sober at times, plunged into her
work with determination, finding time, however, for two long letters
a week to Philip, and wrote more poetry than ever.

Virginia’s candy went off like hot cakes, as she said, giving her a
comfortable little sum to begin on. She planned to make more of the
popular varieties every Saturday. In a talk with Miss Randolph, she
was assured that she might pay over what she had at the beginning of
the next semester, and wait to settle finally until the end. This
relieved her mind of all immediate worry, for there was a prospect
of her winning one of the prizes. Affairs might prove better with
her father also, by that time, and meanwhile she would earn and save
all she could. She had a complete outfit for mending, with all
shades of thread, silk or cotton, and plenty of darning cotton. Her
business descended upon her “like the wolf on the fold,” she said.

“Talk about one’s business growing! I don’t even need to advertise.
I didn’t know there were so many lazy girls that hate to do anything
for themselves!” Here Virginia cocked her head on one side. “That
isn’t really true, though, Isabel. I know all you girls have planned
to waste your pin money on me by having as much done as possible.
I’ll have to make a new schedule of hours, and see how much time I
can afford to spend on this without neglecting my lessons.”

“And you must plan to take enough exercise, too, Virgie,” said
Isabel. “It wouldn’t pay to get sick.”

“No; but a little skating and skiing will give me what I need, with
the walking to and from class, and I want to get ahead on funds
while it is winter, before the lovely days come in the spring. I
thought perhaps I could get one of the bird prizes, too, for an
original description and a long bird list. Has the list of prizes
been posted yet?”

“I haven’t seen anything of it! I think it should be pretty soon,
though, if there is anything new, so we could be working toward it.”

“If I can just get the academy diploma I shall be partly satisfied.
I think I could get some country school to teach out near home,
where I could see Father occasionally, and perhaps I could go to
college later.”

“Cathalina told me that her Aunt Katherine talked last Commencement
time with Miss Randolph about some collegiate scholarships to be
offered by Cathalina’s father, just as they have in high schools,
you know. Now, if that happens, you will know that they weren’t just
established for you.”

“No, that would be all right. But Miss Randolph did not say a word
about anything like that.”

“Probably they aren’t ready to announce them yet, though you would
think that they would in the fall.”

“Not if the idea is new and undecided. I’m working as hard as I can,
anyhow, on all my lessons. You ought to get the first prize for
scholarship, Isabel. I shall not be a bit jealous of you. I have had
too much to make up; but if they give several scholarships I ought
to get one, I think.”

Betty had been up in Canada with her mother during the vacation, and
came back with stories of skating, skiing, and all sorts of winter
sports.

“We went on account of my aunt, you know. She is so worried about
the boys in France all the time, and is getting thin trying not to
show it. But I had the most wonderful time. I know so many of the
young folks up there.”

“Didn’t you ’most freeze?” asked Pauline. This was at the first
meeting of the Psyche Club in the beginning of the second week of
school.

“No, indeed; you dress for it. And I don’t see that it is so much
farther north than this, after all.”

“Did your skis get here, all right, girls?” asked Juliet, of Isabel
and Virginia.

“Yes. We tried walking on them Saturday. But I don’t see how we are
going to do much more than that!”

“I’ll show you,” offered Betty. “Do your brothers know how, Isabel?”

“Pretty well. It’s a new sport in the town, and they haven’t any
very good hills there. I feel so clumsy with my skis on—don’t see
how you ever manage them.”

“It is like everything else, you have to learn. How did you learn to
stand up with skates on? Oh, it’s just wonderful when you learn to
take those jumps, with your pole to balance you—you feel as if you
are flying!”

“Until you come down!”

“Yes, but you learn to land just right. Of course, there will be
accidents, but if the snow is deep and soft it doesn’t hurt to take
a tumble once in a while. Let’s all go out and practice Saturday.
Can you spare the time, Virginia?”

“Oh, yes; I’ll have to take a little recreation on Saturdays. I’m
planning to make one or two batches of candy on Friday afternoon,
after classes.”

“I’ll help you with the nuts, Virgie,” said Isabel. “And if we get
up early Saturday, you can have your candy made and sold by noon.
All of us will be busy in the morning.”

“Speaking of skiing, girls,” said Lilian, “I have the most lovely
song. Perhaps you have seen it or heard it, Eloise. I learned it
this vacation. ‘My Lover, He Comes on the Skee,’ it is called. It is
a Norwegian love-song.”

“No, I haven’t it,” said Eloise.

“We must try it, then.”

“Don’t expect me to play it for you,” said Cathalina, with a gesture
of dismissal as far as she was concerned. “It has an awful
accompaniment.”

“‘Awful!’” exclaimed Lilian. “It is beautiful—the most inspiring,
rippling thing!”

“I mean, my dear, that it is hard to play. Here it is,” said
Cathalina, lifting a pile of books to take the sheet of music from
the table. “Look at those runs, Hilary. Do you blame me? But Philip,
of course, played it easily.”

“The accompaniment is half of its attraction,” said Lilian,
exhibiting the song to Eloise, who was naturally interested and
hummed the air as they went through it. “You get a picture of the
action in every line, and I love it where it repeats ‘the wind in
his wake is singing.’ Then, here at the end it is so effective.”

Cathalina turned to Hilary with a smile, saying aside, “‘I love
thee’ is repeated several times, with growing emphasis! Of course
she and Philip sang that in unison! But it really is a glorious
love-song, and Lilian’s voice is so clear and full on it. No wonder
she likes it. Phil gave it to her. I don’t think it has been out
very long.”

“Let’s go down to the Shakespearean Hall and try it over,” suggested
Isabel. “I have the key.”

“But who’ll play it?” asked Cathalina.

“Evelyn will try it, I know,” said Hilary. “She can play anything at
sight.”

“So can you, Hilary,” said loyal Lilian, “but it will be fine if
Evelyn will do it. Will you, Evelyn?”

“What is it?” asked Evelyn, who had been talking to Olivia. “Oh,
that? Yes, I know it. The voice teacher gave that to one of the
senior girls just before the holidays. I played the accompaniment
for her two or three times.”

For several days the girls hummed or sang the song, and made ready
to go skiing on “high hill,” as they called it, the hill back of
Greycliff’s buildings, which sloped away from the direction of the
river over a broad expanse of unfenced land. It was not steep enough
to be dangerous for the girls, the authorities had concluded, and on
Saturday afternoon a number of the girls gathered there, some of
them to learn, others to enjoy a sport to which they were
accustomed. There were, indeed, several hills from which to make a
start, and this proved good for the learners. They could practice
without getting in the way of the more experienced.

Isabel and Virginia were laughing over their various attempts, and
Betty was alternately showing them with great patience and shooting
down the hill herself, when a group of young men came round from
behind Greycliff, making for the brow of the hill. “Look!” exclaimed
one of the girls. “There are a lot of boys with their German
professor!”

“They have gotten permission at Greycliff to use the hill,” said
another. “Do you suppose we’ll have to go?”

“Of course not,” replied the first. “Miss Randolph knew we were out
here. Unless she sends for us, we can stay.”

More life was naturally infused into the scene when the boys began
to take part. Greetings were exchanged between those who knew each
other, and Captain Holley watched with interest the flying figure of
Betty, who happened to have started down hill before they arrived.
Hastily adjusting his own skis, he was next on the track and arrived
in time to help Betty uphill again. Poor Donald Hilton was having
trouble with his skis and watched the handsome young officer, whom
he now considered his rival with Betty, with rising wrath. A
graceful figure Rudolph Holley made as he started down the long
track again. His staff in air, he jumped as only a practised
performer could do, while Betty and the other girls watched
admiringly.

Betty was not aware how unsatisfactory her manner was to Donald that
afternoon. He came up to visit with her, and they chatted together
on different topics, but he found her too much interested in skiing
to permit of much visiting. She had no idea that Donald had anything
special on his mind, having asked him at first if he had found out
who had fixed his room before the military reception. He had replied
that one of the boys had owned up to it, and she had taken that as
final. Donald, however, had much more to tell, but the circumstances
were not propitious. Donald could do well himself on the skis, but
there was something the matter with one this afternoon. He barely
saved himself from a bad tumble the first time, and considered that
he had been about as awkward as a beginner. This before Betty did
not please him, particularly since there was such a handsome expert
in the group.

On Betty’s part there was her great love for winter sports. She was
much interested in Donald, liked him, felt happy when she was with
him, and had confidence in him. But she was not in love, in spite of
the romance of their first meeting. Probably neither Donald nor
Betty had analyzed their feelings at this stage. It was youth and
young romance, and nothing very serious. To Betty life was full of
good times. Donald, too, had his friends among the boys, and many a
jolly performance was staged at the military school. Before the
girls left, however, Donald had opportunity to ask Betty if he might
call.

“Yes, indeed,” said she. “I rather expected you before the
holidays—that is, you said you were coming.”

“I know it, and you were good to say I might come, but I had all
those demerits and I could not prove that I had not done those
things myself. Consequently, I am on probation for the rest of the
time before Christmas. Didn’t you get my note?”

“No. Did you write one?”

“I certainly did. That makes another queer thing.”

“Perhaps you didn’t address it correctly.”

“I don’t see how I could help it. I think I can get off next week
Friday or Saturday, and will telephone to make sure. Will I have to
write to Miss Randolph?”

“We are allowed calls on Saturday afternoon. Just send in your card
to Miss Randolph, with my name, too. What time will you come?”

“About three o’clock.”

“I shall be ready to see you at that time, then. Don’t get any more
demerits!”

“No, not if I can help it. I remember that the ice carnival will be
held again some day. May I speak to skate with you?”

“Does the best skater in the military school have any doubts as to
that?”

“Meaning me?”

“Meaning you.”

Somewhat consoled for his lack of prowess in skiing that afternoon,
Donald determined to keep from demerits, as Betty had urged, to buy
a new pair of skis, and to practice his more favorite diversion, the
skating, that he might not lost first place in that.



                             CHAPTER XV

                        DONALD’S DISCOVERIES


On the following Saturday, Donald Hilton called upon Betty at
Greycliff. He had both written and telephoned and found that it
would be “perfectly convenient” for Betty to receive him. Alma
brought his card to Betty, who had just come down stairs, at the
appointed hour, to wait in a small reception room. Several girls
were there, according to custom at Greycliff, expecting callers.
Cards were always first taken to Miss Randolph or whatever teacher
was in charge for the afternoon.

Upon receiving Donald’s card, Betty crossed the hall to the double
parlors or reception rooms, in one of which Donald was waiting. At
her approach he rose and held out a friendly hand. Betty was looking
particularly fetching, though simply dressed for the afternoon.
There were some other guests in the large room, but Donald led Betty
to a comfortable seat in the corner at one end of the room, near one
of the windows, and placed his own chair, a big affair with a high
back, in such a way that he would face Betty and the world would be
shut off, so far as he was concerned.

“Now we can talk,” said Donald. “You haven’t any idea how
aggravating it has been not to be able to get over here.”

“What did you have to do while you were ‘on props,’ as we call it?”

“What didn’t I? But being ‘on props’ chiefly cuts you off from
privileges, you know. I didn’t see the commandant again—thought I
would not bother the old boy, and he had been pretty fine about it,
anyhow. I did go to Van Horne and I told him all the details. I
think he believed me. But none of the officers can say much if it is
a case of breaking rules. And I could not prove anything.
Consequently I went ‘on props.’”

“Do they write home about it?”

“No, but I did, of course. I wrote the whole thing, more because I
was afraid of what might come of it in the future than because I
wanted them to know about it. I told them not to waste any sympathy
on me, but they’d better get it straight from the first.”

“It was a perfect shame!”

“A fellow has to take these things sometimes, and I do not need any
sympathy. What made me so provoked was that I could not find out who
set it all up. And now I come to the thrilling part of my tale of
woe. You remember that we thought it might be the younger cadets
getting it back on us older fellows, but I was the only one so
favored!

“I think that I told you once, Betty, about the little rivalry in
our class, and the fellow that would scarcely speak to me because I
made the first team and he didn’t.”

“Yes, but I have forgotten his name.”

“Newt Fuller. He is a great follower of Captain Holley. Then there
is another named Jim Clark that was friendly with me, until he began
to go around with Newt and his friends, and roomed with one of them.
I had noticed that they were not any too cordial, but didn’t pay
much attention. I treat all the boys alike, except to have an
especial pal or two, as all of them do.

“Well, shortly after the reception, I noticed Jim’s starting to say
something to me two or three times, then looking all around and
changing his mind. Finally, I asked him what was the matter, if he
wanted to speak to me about something. We were separating after
drill that time. ‘Sh-sh!’ he said. ‘Yes, I do, but I can’t tell you
now. If I can get a chance, I’ll tell you something one of these
days. I don’t dare now. But watch your step!’”

“Mercy sakes!” cried Betty. “Is anybody going to do anything very
terrible to you?”

“No, indeed. Nothing very serious, I’m sure. Of course, my mind ran
back to the cause of my being on probation, and I began to connect
that with Newt, because Jim was with that crowd.”

“Then it wasn’t the younger cadets at all?”

“No, not a bit of it. To go on with the story—old Jim would look
awfully guilty whenever he saw me, and I remembered that he had
looked funny before when he saw me, but I had not thought about it.
As a conspirator, Jim is not a success!” Donald’s half suppressed
laugh here amused Betty, who laughed, too, and several girls and
boys not far away looked over to see what the fun might be.

“Some of our friends will be joining us in a few moments,” said
Donald. “I’d better sober down, if I don’t want to be interrupted.
To continue, as the books say, finally, one time not long ago, Jim
and I happened along together on the ice, probably out of sight of
any of the other conspirators, for Jim skated up to me. We did a few
figures, and Jim told me what by that time I was expecting, that it
was set up. He was the one who sent the word that called me out of
my room, and he and another cadet tore up the place a little,
thought it was fun and nothing more than the boys sometimes do to
each other. ‘But, Donald,’ he said, ‘I did not put those cigarettes
and ashes in your room. I heard Newt and the other boys talking
about it afterwards, and knew that they must have been there after I
left. I nearly gave the thing away when I saw you, walking up and
down after the girls had arrived for the reception.’ And now, Betty,
Jim said, ‘I wanted to tell you, but the worst of it is that there
is somebody in authority who suggested the whole thing. Can you
guess? _Who didn’t want you to be at that reception?_’” Donald
paused.

“Who, indeed!” exclaimed Betty. “Why, such things are too small for
a man to do! I can’t believe it, even of our mysterious captain. But
now I will tell you what he did that night. He must have done it on
purpose. He took pains to see that I saw you outside. I thought
perhaps it was an accident after all!”

“I think I would have lost what little mind I had left if I had
known that you were looking at me!”

“I couldn’t tell you that night, with all the rest you had to
trouble you.”

“I could scarcely believe Jim, and said, ‘Are you sure, Jim?’—and he
said, ‘Indeed I am; you want to look out, Don.’ So I’m looking out,
and Jim doesn’t look guilty any more when he sees me, for I told him
it was all right. He was just in for some fun, but Newt, and whoever
was behind him, intended to make trouble for me with the faculty.
That much is plain. Jim will have to keep in with those fellows, so
they won’t suspect. He is a pretty decent chap, and I can see that
he is disgusted with Newt!”

“I don’t see the point of Captain Holley’s dislike of you. He is not
paying much attention to me.”

“Twice, though, when he wanted you for his company, I got ahead of
him.”

“Yes, thank fortune!”

“I thank you, Miss Betty,” and Donald started up, as if to rise, and
bowed.

“I see. It is not letting another man take the girl you have asked
for.”

“That is partly it, but I am afraid that the captain is also
interested in this particular girl.”

“Donald, if he should ask me to call or anything, what should I do?
If I have a previous date with you, it would only make him do
something mean to you. I don’t believe I’ll go to the ice carnival
at all.”

“If he should ask to call, I think you would be safe to let him do
it, even if you don’t like him. I’m sure I can’t advise you, for I
hate to think of your having anything to do with him. Don’t think of
me. I can keep out of any more trouble, I think. Jim promised to
warn me through one of the other boys if he knows of anything.”

“When did Captain Holley come to the military school, or do you
know?”

“The year before Louise came here, for a little while, you know. I
always wondered why she didn’t stay.”

“There was some trouble, and the girls did not regret her going. She
made herself disagreeable enough. But the poor girl had all kinds of
trouble, of course, for which she wasn’t to blame. She tries to be
more friendly now.”

“When Holley tried to claim, one day in a group of us cadets, that
his country didn’t start the war, and isn’t to blame and all that, I
thought it was too funny to get mad about, and he kept saying that
Americans ought to keep neutral—nothing to us, I suppose, how many
of our people get killed at sea—but they have relatives over there,
and maybe they really do think it. Our boys get pretty hot
sometimes, and you ought to see how the drills have improved! Even
the smallest of the kid cadets are getting ready to fight for their
country! Holley claims that even if he had not been in the United
States, the trouble with his eyes would have kept him out of the
army.”

“The girls talk, too, though Miss Randolph and the teachers try to
keep them from having arguments or stirring up Professor Schafer and
Doctor Carver. Isabel came rushing into our suite the other day,
with her cheeks hot and her eyes flashing, and asked us what we
thought of the idea that you would do anything, no matter how mean,
for your country, ‘your country right or wrong’ stuff. ‘Do you think
that’s patriotism?’ she asked, about the way she does in debate.
Cathalina told her that of course you would love your country and
your flag, ‘right or wrong,’ but to ‘justify’ wrong acts of the
people who were running the government certainly wouldn’t be true
patriotism. She said that her mother said God’s laws were first, and
that our motto says ‘In God we trust.’”

“Oh, well,” said Donald, “in our country we don’t hesitate to speak
out and tell our politicians what we think. Our flag stands for
certain principles—ideals, the old boy calls them, and it’s those
that we’ll fight for if we get into the war. He made us a long
speech the other day on patriotism, and took up all these puzzling
things. He said that our flag stands for these great principles, and
that sometimes there was a difference between our real government
and its principles, and their administration by politicians that
were not really patriots. I wish you had heard him. Such cheering
and clapping! He’s the kind of an old scout to put in charge of a
military academy! It wouldn’t be a very pleasant place to be in
these days for anybody who wasn’t a good American.”

“Good!” exclaimed Betty. “But I do think it is the funniest thing to
hear you and Jack and the rest of the boys call the commandant the
‘old boy’ and ‘old scout.’ He is so big and dignified. I should
think you’d be afraid of him.”

“We are. But what good would he be if he weren’t strict? You don’t
know how much good military discipline does some of those wild boys
that come to our school. Though it is true, Miss Betty, that one can
have too much of a good thing!”

“As you have good reason to know?”

“Just so.”

“There’s one thing I hadn’t thought of—I don’t believe you would be
prevented from an engagement again, do you? Seems to me it would
look suspicious, the same thing another time.”

“I think it could be done in some other way the next time.”

“Then I shan’t make any more dates.”

“Oh, Betty! You wouldn’t punish me that way, I hope.”

“Will you look out when any of them are around, so nothing could
happen?”

“Of course. I rather think I could take care of myself.”

“See that you do, then,” said Betty lightly. “By the way, how is
your Glee Club coming on?”

“Practicing as usual. How is yours?”

“Practicing, too, every week. You would think we had nothing but a
conservatory of music around here by the sounds, especially the last
of the week. The Glee Club, the Guitar, Uke and Mandolin Club, the
Collegiate and Academy Orchestras, to say nothing of what Hilary
calls the Comb Symphony Orchestra, on private serenades, combine to
make night hideous.”

Donald was thinking “what a bright, jolly, sweet girl Betty is, and
how those dimples do chase around when she laughs!” And Betty was
thinking “Isn’t Donald a good, wholesome boy, honest and fine as
they are made!”

Harry Mills and Jack Appleton were calling on Dorothy and Jane, and
it came about that they all drifted together to chat, since Donald
had completed his confidences to Betty.



                            CHAPTER XVI

                         CHIVALRY AND ARMS


The annual ice carnival, full of excitement, came again and took its
place in history. As Captain Holley was enduring an attack of
tonsillitis, nothing marred the occasion for Betty, who again won
the highest prize for fine skating. As this was Donald’s unlucky
year, according to him, he had twisted his ankle several weeks
before and was not at his best. The first prize among the boys went
to Jack Appleton, the second to Donald.

Both Jack Appleton and Harry Mills had this year developed a violent
fancy for Eloise, who had her hands full to distribute her favors
impartially, and not offend either the boys or their sisters. Harry
Mills was her partner at the banquet which followed the carnival
skating, but Jack claimed her most of the time on the ice. Eloise
was almost equal to Betty on skates, and there had been some
discussion among the judges about dividing the first prize, but it
seemed best to award the second prize to Eloise. Betty had a few
more extra performances to her credit.

The good-natured rivalry between Jack and Harry did not escape the
comments of the girls, who pretended to deplore the fate of “poor
Reginald.” He was away, they said, and had no chance against his
rivals.

“It is such a pity to spoil the lovely illusion about Reginald,”
said Eloise one day, as some of the girls stood in the hall, reading
the letters just received, “but here is the last letter,” and she
tossed a letter into Betty’s hands. “I was annoyed at first, then I
thought that it would be fun to let you keep on thinking what you
did. You thought from my manner that it was some boy I didn’t like,
didn’t you?”

“I guess we did,” replied Betty, reading the letter and laughing out
when she came to the signature. But she made no remark, and handed
the letter, a brief one this time, to Pauline, who was nearest. She
rapidly read the page and exclaimed “A girl!”

“Ora Rand!” read Juliet aloud. “The romance of Reggie is o’er!”

“He’s gone to the ‘never been’ shore,” added Isabel.

“That masculine hand,”

“Of Miss Ora Rand,” suggested Cathalina.

“Shall fool us poor Psyches no more,” finished Lilian. “Tell us
about her, Eloise.”

“I did not want to write to her in the first place, because I am so
busy, you know, that I can hardly keep up writing to two or three
close friends whom I don’t want to give up. She is younger than I
am, does not go around with us older girls and boys at home, and, I
think, just wanted to keep up a correspondence because I was away at
school and she thought it would be interesting. So it has been a
little drag, that is all. But she is a good little thing, and I have
answered her letters once in awhile. I am ashamed to be so mean, but
you just can’t spend so much time on letters. And that is
‘Reginald’!”

“Now defunct,” said Pauline. “Requiescat in pace.”

School life is a busy, exciting one, full of hard work for those who
want success in it, but also full of fun and good times among the
especially interesting folks that compose the school world. It is
full of variety, and time flies swiftly on that account. Before the
girls realized it, spring was again at hand. It was April, with its
tantalizing days, in which the birds were migrating, nature was
making a great effort to bloom into blossoms of tree and plant, the
girls were hungering for the woods and shore, and yet in this more
northern clime there were wet, muddy fields, chill winds, and
occasional flurries of snow. The bird classes wore rubber boots,
raincoats, and rubber hats or other more disreputable head covering
which rain could not hurt. It was April of 1917, that spring when
the echoes of heavy artillery in France were of more and more
concern in our country.

One morning the newspapers were delivered earlier than usual. The
delivery was usually made about the middle of the forenoon. This
morning, as Isabel said later, “even Greycliff Village had speeded
up,” and the papers came out right after breakfast. In them was the
never-to-be-forgotten message of the President. The teachers sat
reading their papers at their desks when the first bell for class
rang, and a few of the girls who took them came to class with copies
in their hands. Faces were sober and some of them were beginning to
take on that look of uplift which was characteristic of the time.
Patricia West’s class had gathered and were waiting when she put
down her paper upon her desk, looked through and beyond the girls
gathered before her, and stepped to the blackboard behind her. No
outline of Latin constructions, or references for English study grew
under her hands. The girls watched her while she wrote:

   “In the beauty of the lilies, Christ was born beyond the sea,
   With a glory in His bosom that transfigures you and me;
   As He died to make men holy, let us die to make men free!”

Silence for a moment, as the girls read and looked at each other and
at “Patty.” “Is it war, Miss West?” asked one of the girls in the
front row. Miss West picked up the paper. But as she began to
explain, the chapel bell rang, to the surprise of all, the
continuous ringing which was the signal for a general meeting.

“Pass out quietly, girls,” directed Miss West; “go immediately to
the chapel, and take your regular seats.”

Lilian slipped her arm in Hilary’s as they went in the chapel, and
walked forward to their seats, which were side by side, in the
junior collegiate section. No customary music from the organ greeted
them, but most of the faculty were on the platform. A few of the
professors who lived at the village, and had not yet come out for
classes which were scheduled later in the day, were missing. There
sat Doctor Carver, looking bored. Professor Schafer sat back in his
chair, his arms folded, a grim look on his face. Doctor Norris was
giving an encouraging smile to Patty, who was very white.

It was not long before the last class had entered and was seated,
and members of the faculty ceased to enter the door on the platform.
Then Miss Randolph rose and went forward to the desk. “Young
ladies,” said she, “I have called you together this morning because
we are at a crisis in American history, and I want you to have a
share in the first knowledge of facts, which you ought to know, and
in which you will probably have a share.

“You have been studying the history of Greece, Rome, England, and
other countries beside your own, and very properly. You have been
studying American history, and some of you imagine that ‘history’ is
all of the past. The pages that are being made every year are not
less important. Professor Matthews will read to us all the
remarkable message by the President of the United States which is in
the morning paper. Not alone the words of the message have stirred
us this morning, but what is before us—the inevitable duty.

“It might seem strange to some that I call you from your lessons and
interrupt your work. But we try to teach more at Greycliff than the
usual curriculum. We take an interest in the character of our girls.
When I talked to you at the beginning of the year on ‘Heroines’ I
had in mind the self-sacrifice and heroic meeting of difficulties
that some of you may have to bear. I hope that they may not be too
heavy, but I have confidence that my girls will not be found
wanting. Professor Matthews.”

After a brief chapel service, classes went on as usual the rest of
the day. That evening the Grant Academy Glee Club was to give an
entertainment at Greycliff, as many cadets outside of the club
permitted to attend as desired to come and pay the small admission
fee. Donald had told Betty not long before that he thought there was
scarcely a cadet who would miss the opportunity to come to
Greycliff, and certainly no girl was planning to stay in her room to
study on that night!

“Seems to me,” said Isabel, “that we have all our excitement at
once. This morning they tell us we are going to get into the war at
last, and here come the prospective soldiers to our doors this
evening!”

“Oh, not many of those boys will go!” exclaimed Virginia.

“I don’t know about that. Of course the very young ones will not,
but the older ones won’t care whether they are through school or
not. My, don’t I wish I’d been a boy, too!”

“Isabel!”

“I’m going over to see what Betty and Cathalina are going to wear
tonight.”

“And, incidentally, what Hilary and Lilian are going to wear.”

“No, they won’t care what they wear, especially tonight, when all
they’re thinking about is what is going to happen to Campbell and
Philip, and how soon. If I were only old enough, I’d go as a nurse
when our boys go.”

“You’d have to know something about nursing, too.”

“Yes; I suppose I would.”

“I don’t believe we’d better think much about it yet. It will be
some time before we are actually in it.”

The girls in Lakeview Suite were dressing for dinner and the concert
when Isabel entered. Cathalina’s cheeks were pink, and Betty’s were
a match for them, as they dressed, in what Isabel called their
“spacious boudoir.” Isabel perched on the bed and told the girls to
back up to her if they wanted to be hooked up, or have any ribbons
tied. “Will they let the boys sit by the girls if they want to?” she
asked.

“Oh, yes,” said Betty; “but they never let us have real invitations;
we have to buy our own tickets, you know.”

“I wondered,” said Isabel. “I could not remember, but Poddy Brown
asked me if I would be there and said he hoped to see me!”

“What a name!” exclaimed Cathalina. “Poddy!”

“Yes, isn’t it? I asked him about it at the military reception, and
he said it was a great compliment on the part of the boys—they call
him ‘Pod’ because he never ‘spills the beans’!”

Having brothers, neither Cathalina nor Betty had to have that
expression explained. “I see,” said Cathalina. “He’s the boy with
that serious face, isn’t he?”

“Yes. He can tell you all kinds of jokes with the most sober face,
but at the end he laughs like anybody else.”

“Isabel,” said Cathalina, “what do you think about the military
school, do you think that it will be broken up right away?”

“Mercy, no,” said Isabel. “Why, the old United States has to get
ready, doesn’t she? Jim said that ‘when he got in it,’ as he put it,
even the regular army could not get off the first minute. Is Captain
Van Horne’s appointment under the regular army?”

“It can’t be, because at home he did not want them to call him
‘captain’; said it was only a courtesy title of the school.”

“Only the commandant, Donald said,” inserted Betty, “is a regular
army officer, and as far as I know, he is retired. I am so anxious
to hear what Donald has to say about the latest news.”

“He sings, doesn’t he?”

“Yes, but he wanted me to see him a moment before I go in the
auditorium, at the head of the stairs, about ten or fifteen minutes
before the program begins.”

“There! How do I look, Isabel? Compliments are in order,” and
Cathalina whirled around to show Isabel her gown.

“You are as perfect as usual, and as pretty as a peach,” responded
Isabel at once.

“For that I’ll hug you,” said Cathalina, laying her hot cheek
against Isabel’s before she suited her action to her words. “You
rather overdid the compliment, but it sounded well. See what a fever
I have!”

“Your cheeks are hot, but we’ll not send for the doctor yet. But
I’ll have to hurry, if I get dressed before dinner myself. There
will be enough time after dinner, though, won’t there?”

“I don’t think so,” said Betty. “The cadets are going to have an
early dinner and come right over, to have the program begin as soon
after seven-thirty as possible.”

“The announcement said eight o’clock.”

“I know it, but there was a change. See if Miss Randolph does not
announce it at dinner. She must have forgotten it at noon. I had a
note from Donald this morning.”

Evening came and brought almost the entire military academy to
Greycliff, in various conveyances. They went immediately to the
auditorium, the singers to a room near the chapel, whence divers
tones and tunes soon floated out, as one or another tried his voice.
Some of the young officers were counted among the members of the
Glee Club, among them Captain Van Horne and Lieutenant Maxwell.
Girls and cadets occupied the seats in the chapel, and filled it
with the buzz of conversation while they waited. Captain Van Horne,
with one eye on Donald, though not for the purposes of discipline,
noted that he went out into the hall before the program, and
followed his example, in the hope of seeing Cathalina. Both young
men were rewarded with a short visit, as the girls stopped to shake
hands and ask what they thought of the prospect. “This news of
imminent war has stirred up the academy to the boiling point,”
replied Captain Van Horne to Cathalina. “All sorts of crazy ideas
are going the rounds, but the atmosphere is patriotic at any rate.”

The conversation in the auditorium ceased as soon as the Glee Club
cadets came on the platform. The younger cadets in the audience were
as quiet as the girls, out of respect for them, and because they had
been told that they would be asked to withdraw by their officers if
they forgot and conversed with the girls during the musical numbers.

How the cadets sang, and how the girls applauded! Their schoolmates
in the audience, also, ably assisted in the applause. Before the
last number the commandant announced that another had been added to
the program, “by Lieutenant Maxwell, with the Glee Club.”

The last number printed was a rollicking sailor song, sung with much
enjoyment apparently, while the audience felt like keeping time.
Then, in great quiet, Lieutenant Maxwell stepped forward and began
the “Battle Hymn of the Republic”:

“Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord;
He is tramping out the vintage where the grapes of wrath are stored.”

Could it be the jolly, joking young lieutenant that all the girls
enjoyed so much? The fine young face was sober, and looked off into
the night through the great windows. Perhaps he saw a little white
cross in France. But he smiled as he sang the words Patty had
written on the board that morning:

“As He died to make men holy, let us die to make men free!”



                            CHAPTER XVII

                           EXCITING DAYS


The young people of America had few illusions when war was declared
in the spring of 1917. The war in Europe, with its hideous beginning
and terrible progress, was more or less familiar in detail. It was
no unknown adventure that our soldiers faced. Photographs or pen
pictures of the trenches and their horrors had been public since
that August of 1914. Ah, the gallant young Americans of 1917 and
1918! With smiles and jests, or with faces of deadly earnestness,
our boys sang and marched, or rode toward the thing that had to be
done. For a cause, and with a purpose, the youth of that generation
offered themselves. We have had some sickening revelations since the
war, but none that cast a shadow on the young generation that fought
our battles then.

                “Lord God of hosts, be with us yet—
                Lest we forget—lest we forget!”

No other days of romance or chivalry ever gave more of effort,
courage, and the sacrifice of all the human heart holds dear than
those days when America’s heart was in France, and her eyes
following a map with the advance of American forces.

Greycliff days went on as usual in the class-room, though war was
declared and the reading of the morning paper became one of the
exciting moments of the day. “When would the boys go?” was the
question of chief importance. Some time after the Glee Club concert,
Betty received a telephone message from Donald Hilton, asking if he
could see her in the afternoon after classes, or in the evening
before study hour. “It is very important,” said he. “Will Miss
Randolph permit me to call?”

“I’ll find out, Donald, and let you know. I think she will.”

Later Betty telephoned that Donald might come between dinner and
study hours, and at the appointed time he arrived, having cut short
his own meal to get to Greycliff in time, and being excused properly
at the academy. He met Betty in the hall, and they stood talking
there, while Alma took his card to Miss Randolph and returned with
it for Betty.

Donald was full of repressed excitement. “I had to come to see you,
Betty—before I take French leave of the school—in more senses than
one!”

“What!” exclaimed Betty. “You’re going to enlist now!”

“Yes,” replied Donald, “I’m going.”

“Do you mean without telling your folks?”

“Yes, without telling anybody but you.”

Betty was touched by his confidence, but said earnestly, “Donald,
don’t you do it! Go home first and see your father and mother and
sisters. You will regret it if you don’t.”

“If I tell them, they will try to keep me from going, or at least
until the end of the school year. Of course Mother would not give
her consent, anyway, even if Father were willing.”

“I’m not so sure about that,” said Betty. “And I think it would be
dreadful to go without saying goodbye.”

“Oh, I’d get off, probably, to say goodbye before I went to France.”

“You don’t know what might happen. Here is Alma. Thank you, Alma.
Come on, Donald, to the bench at the end of the hall. We’ll not be
interrupted there. The girls will be singing and playing in the
parlors.”

Donald and Betty walked to the end of the corridor, past the
reception rooms, to where a long, old-fashioned bench filled part of
an alcove, by the large windows which looked out upon the wood.

“Now,” said Betty, “tell me all about it.”

“I have to go, that’s all,” said Donald grimly. “I can’t study.
Nobody can at the academy. The commandant is as stirred up as
anybody, though he tries not to show it. We heard that he is trying
to get back in the regular army and go to France with the first
troops. Van Horne is going, and Maxwell, as soon as they can. They
are enlisting with the National Guard, and are only waiting to do it
till they can arrange about the school. They don’t want to leave the
commandant in the lurch. But there will be precious few of the older
boys left to teach, and school closes soon anyhow. They are going to
hurry up the work and Commencement, they say now. Some of the boys
say that the school will close, but nobody knows for sure. I’ll not
miss much.”

“Donald,” said Betty soberly, “I’d be the last one to say ‘don’t
go,’ but, honestly, I think that you might take time enough to write
home about it. Because you boys are full of patriotism—that isn’t
going to get you to France any sooner. And until the camps get
started, where could you get better military training than right
here in a military school?”

“That is so, Betty, but perhaps some of us can help in the training,
and we’d like to get into the real stuff!”

“I think that your mother will consent to your going, since you are
so nearly of age, and perhaps she would not care about your
finishing the school year, either. You see, my cousins from Canada
are in the war, and I know how my aunt feels. Please promise me to
write to your mother!”

Donald changed position, looked thoughtfully at Betty, and smiled as
he replied, “I think a good deal of your advice, but I must go.”

“It will not hinder your going. And even if you do go later without
the consent of your family, it will be different from not even
having written!” Thus persuaded Betty.

“If I wait, may I have a picture of you, Betty, to take with me?”

Betty flushed a little as she replied, “Why, yes, you may, if you
want one. If you come over again, I’ll bring down what I have, big
pictures and snapshots, and you can take your choice. You would want
a small picture, wouldn’t you?”

“I would,” said Donald, patting his left hand pocket, while Betty
blushed again. “All right, I’ll wait and write to mother, and will
you let me come over on Saturday afternoon to tell you the results?
And perhaps you could have the pictures ready, too. Will that do?”

“Of course it will do. I’m so glad, Donald! It will be much better.
Your mother will feel so much better about it.”

“Someway, Betty, I don’t feel in quite so much of a hurry to leave
when I’m with you,” said the frank Donald, “I’ll have one more good
Saturday afternoon with you, and perhaps, if it is not stormy, we
can have a boat ride. Can you get permission?”

“I’ll ask. There are the girls, Donald; look out of the window.”

Cathalina, Lilian and Hilary were passing, coming from the direction
of the little wood on the hill, and waved their field glasses gayly
as Betty tapped on the window.

“Did you say that Captain Van Horne is leaving soon? I wonder if
Cathalina knows.”

“He and Maxwell go as soon as possible. You see, they are right up
in military drill and discipline, and will make valuable officers.”

“Lilian and Cathalina haven’t heard from Philip, and Hilary hasn’t
heard from Campbell for days, and they are sure that there is some
reason—though both boys promised their parents that they would
finish the school year and get their diplomas. You see, they
graduate this year.”

“Oh, graduate! What is school in comparison with this?”

While Donald and Betty talked, the three girls who had passed came
down the hall, Cathalina with a telegram in her hand. “Do you
suppose they’ll care?” asked Lilian, thinking about how little she
and Philip would want to be interrupted when time together was so
short.

“Of course, they won’t,” said Cathalina, “for we’ll not stay but a
minute. Donald will be interested, I think. Excuse me, people,” she
continued, as they joined Betty and Donald, “but I have just
received a telegram from Philip, and Lilian has another one. Hilary
had one from Campbell, too, and they are coming on to see us
Saturday!”

The girls had all greeted Donald, Cathalina with a bow as she spoke,
while Donald had risen and brought up a chair or two to face the
bench.

“Some more folks going to war,” remarked Donald.

“Yes, that must be it,” assented Cathalina. “These telegrams are all
from New York, and it is not vacation. I imagine that they have
gotten permission to leave school and are going to enlist.”

“I am sure of it,” said Lilian. “Phil’s last letter was chiefly a
protest against his promise.”

“Campbell wrote that he was released from his,” said Hilary. “His
mother said that ordinarily education was the most important thing
for young people. But when a boy was of age and felt it his duty to
go, he should not be bound by a promise.”

“Some of us who are not of age want to go,” said Donald, “and if you
are interested, I’ll tell you what a time we are having at the
school.” At Donald’s urging, the girls sat down, while Donald
related the latest news and hearsay at the academy, and Cathalina’s
rather sinking heart was encouraged when she learned that the young
captain whom she admired so much was not leaving without time for a
word of farewell for her before he left. Would he come over to see
her? was the question in her mind. The study bell rang while they
talked, and all the girls walked along with Betty and Donald toward
the entrance, leaving them there to make their adieux, while they
went on up to Lakeview Suite.

It was not long before Betty joined the other girls and sat down in
their midst, finding them with no idea of studying. Lilian was lying
on the couch which made the window-seat. Hilary was sitting with
both elbows on the study table, and Cathalina was in a rocking
chair, facing her. “Look here, Betty,” said Lilian, and as Betty
went over toward her she held out her left hand, on which the
diamond of her engagement ring sparkled. “Mother sent it to me.
Wasn’t it dear of her! It will make things easier when Philip comes.
But it makes me sick about everything. We were going to have such a
wonderful time this summer!” Lilian closed her eyes and put her hand
over them. The ring flashed as it caught the light from the electric
lamp on the table, but Hilary switched it off as she noticed Lilian,
remarking that as nobody was going to study right away they would
not need it.

“Cheer up, Lil,” said Betty. “We don’t know much of what is coming,
I guess, but it doesn’t help any to look ahead. Maybe some of the
things won’t happen at all.”

“We were all going to the sea-shore together,” said Cathalina, “but,
of course, Father has been telling us that this was coming.”

“Yes, it isn’t as if we had not been thinking of it,” said Hilary,
“and I don’t see how we can help anything by worrying. We’ve got to
stand by the boys. Let’s get to work at those lessons pretty soon.”

“All right,” said Lilian, jumping up. “Cathalina and I telegraphed
right back to Philip, and Hilary to Campbell, so there’s no need of
letters. They’ll be here almost before we could get one to them. By
the way, Betty, there was a letter for you. We brought it up. It is
on your side of the dresser. I forgot it. We stopped and got our
mail, and there was this ring for me, so I promptly forgot
everything else!”

Betty ran into the bedroom and, turning on the light there, sat down
on the bed to read her letter. Then out she came, the letter in her
hand. “More news,” said she. “My brother’s enlisted.”

At that moment there was a rap, and Isabel came in, also holding a
letter and looking somewhat disappointed. She began to laugh as soon
as she was fairly settled, however, and began to tell the girls why.
“Did you ever see such an old goose as I am!” she exclaimed. “Here I
wrote to Jim, all excited, for fear the boys were going to France
next week or something, and now that Jim has written they aren’t I’m
disappointed!”

“They aren’t at a military school, are they?” asked Betty.

“No. Jim wrote that he and father had made too much of an effort to
help the boys through school for them to miss the rest of the school
year; so they will finish. And Jim said that according to the
statements of the government, the draft was going to be just as
honorable, since they can only equip and send over a certain number
anyhow; so there was no use in getting stampeded and throwing away
the education you might be getting. Listen to this: ‘Don’t worry,
little sister. They are not going right over, because the government
probably can’t use them now and isn’t ready to train them yet. But
remember that we are as patriotic as anybody and when the time comes
we’ll all be there, and I hope to go, too.’ Poor Jim, with a family
on his hands. Father isn’t a bit well since Christmas.”

“We have just decided, Isabel, that we are going right on with our
lessons as well as our limited brains will let us, keep steady, and
hope that we can help the boys, and do whatever turns up. It’s all
so mixed up now, with things happening all the time.”

“I think that is very sensible, Betty,” replied Isabel. “I’m going
back to begin now. But I couldn’t resist telling you girls.”

“You must let us tell you our news before you go,” said Lilian, “and
I want you to see my ring. Mother is going to let me wear it now.”

“Oh, Lilian, are you really _engaged?_”

“I really am. It happened at Christmas, but Mother thought that she
would prefer my not wearing a ring or announcing it generally. But I
suppose she didn’t have the heart to keep me from wearing it when
Phil came home to enlist. She likes him so much, and he is really so
irresistible!”

The girls smiled at that, and Cathalina said: “The ring came in the
evening mail.”

“My, but it is a beauty!” exclaimed Isabel, turning Lilian’s little
fist this way and that to catch the light of the flashing gem, for
the darkness had come outside, and their lamp was again burning.

The eventful Saturday finally came. The girls had arranged a little
picnic as the best way of getting away from the busy surroundings at
Greycliff Hall. Hilary had thought of it, and suggested that they
take the horses. “We have never had a picnic like that,” said she,
“and those prancing steeds need some exercise, anyway. Philip and
Campbell ride beautifully, and, of course, Donald and Captain Van
Horne do, too.”

“Captain Van Horne!” exclaimed Cathalina. “Do you expect me to
invite him to take me out?”

“No, of course not, but Donald can ask him if he wants to go and
there isn’t any doubt whom he would ask to go with him, is there?”
Hilary looked at Cathalina with twinkling eyes.

“Oh!” said Cathalina.

Captain Van Horne came over himself to ask Cathalina. She
telegraphed in time to Philip for both guests to bring “riding
togs,” and asked Miss Randolph if they might carry out the idea.
Miss Randolph consented, appointed Patricia West and Dr. Norris as
chaperones, and said that one of the grooms should accompany the
party.

“She was just as interested,” said Cathalina. “I believe that she
wants to see Philip and Campbell!”

“Why shouldn’t she?” asked Hilary and Lilian at once.

“We’d better have Prince and Pepper for the boys, don’t you think?”
continued Cathalina. “They have the most _style_.”

“They are the prettiest horses we have,” assented Lilian, “but I
don’t know that I’d call them stylish, exactly. But don’t get Poky,
whatever you do.”

“We may have to take whatever they give us,” said Hilary.

“Well, I’m going to see the riding master,” said Cathalina, “and
explain that we want the nicest horses they have.”

“Donald and Captain Van Horne will bring their own horses, won’t
they?” asked Hilary.

“Oh, yes,” replied Betty. “And Donald said that he and Captain Van
Horne thought it would be better to take our dinner at Greycliff
Village or wherever we are, instead of packing any lunch.”

“I know that Phil and Campbell will prefer it,” said Cathalina.

Some of the people at Greycliff Heights were much impressed by the
arrival of what Hilary called, quoting from her Cæsar, “two youths
of culture and valor,” at Greycliff Inn. Philip had brought Louis
along to look after everything. “My last trip with a valet,” he told
Lilian. “Louis and I are going to enlist together.”

The train came in early Saturday morning, and the boys wasted no
time after breakfast, but telephoned to Greycliff Hall and later
took a taxi out there. Miss Randolph invited them to stay for lunch,
and while the two young men rather disliked the idea of lunching
with so many fair damsels, they accepted for the sake of Cathalina,
Lilian and Hilary, who were not averse to having the girls see them.
“I’m so proud of you,” whispered Cathalina on one side of Philip, as
they sat at Miss Randolph’s table.

After lunch, the two guests went back to the village to get ready
for the trip, and the groom took over the horses. It was a sunshiny,
cloudless day, a fresh breeze blowing from the lake, the birds
singing, the fields green, and the picnic party as happy as could
be.

“I’m going to take the advice of the poet,” said Philip, “and
‘gather rosebuds while I may.’ Let’s have this day to remember,
Lilian.”

The rest were in the same mood. They followed the bridle path
through the woods along the lake, toward Greycliff Village, then, by
a little country road, took a gallop over the hills in another
direction. The groom knew all the roads and directed them to the
most attractive parts of the country. A great part of the time, the
young people jogged along in pairs, saying part of the many things
they had to say to each other in the time that seemed so short. In
one lovely spot they all dismounted and strolled about, sat on logs
or stumps, or picked the wild flowers, for nearly an hour. Hilary
had swung her field glasses about her neck, and she and Campbell
made up her list of spring birds, with many new ones.

Donald had, as usual, much to relate to Betty. He pinned violets on
his “pansy girl,” although she declared that flowers were not
appropriate to a riding habit. “I’m surely glad that I took your
advice, Betty,” said he. “I would not have missed this picnic and
ride for the world. And when Father and Mother and both the girls
wrote me the fine letters they did, I was ashamed of thinking that I
would go off without telling them. It is going to be all right.
Father asked me, if I felt I could, to wait and see when the school
would close, since I had told him that it might close earlier. He
would very much like me to finish the year and get my credits and
come home to see them. Then if I want to enlist, all right; and he
said that he would not forbid my doing it at any time. But it is
only a little while to wait, so I’ll do what they want me to.”

“I’m so relieved,” sighed Betty.

“On their account, I suppose,” said Donald, pulling down his mouth
at the corners, in pretended resignation.

“On my own, too,” said Betty, laughing, and jumping up from the
stump where they had been sitting, to run to her horse. “They are
going. Didn’t you hear Miss West’s whistle blow? She has one of
those referee whistles along.”

“What kind of a whistle?” laughed Donald.

“One that the referees blow when we have basket ball or anything.”

Philip had asked to be the host at Greycliff Inn, where the party
had dinner. The village was enough of a country town to be able to
furnish the finest of foods, if it lacked some of the city ideas.
The inn was a new place, clean and quiet, with pleasant parlors,
where they visited until called to dinner, ordered beforehand by
Philip. Here the visiting was general. As Captain Van Horne and Dr.
Norris were nearly of an age, Cathalina found herself drawn into
conversation with them, and discussing, as she told the girls
afterward, “things she didn’t know anything about.”

Then came the canter home in the twilight. Philip and Campbell were
to stay over Sunday, leaving early Monday morning. Captain Van Horne
was leaving, with Lieutenant Maxwell, very shortly, but expected to
visit Greycliff before that time. Captain Van Horne confirmed the
rumor that the military school was to close earlier than the time
noted in the catalogue. Donald announced to Betty that he was coming
over to Greycliff every time he could get off until he left for
home—with her permission.

“You have a standing invitation,” replied Betty, “and I think that
Miss Randolph will be good to all our ‘departing heroes’!”

Lilian and Philip, though they had the best horses, lagged behind
the rest, till Cathalina had to gallop back and tell them to hurry
if they were to get in by the study bell, as directed. And just as
they entered the grounds it rang.



                           CHAPTER XVIII

                           TO THE RESCUE


Life to some of the girls at Greycliff seemed “stale, flat and
unprofitable” after Philip and Campbell, Captain Van Horne, Donald,
and the rest of the boys and instructors at the military academy had
gone. The school at Greycliff continued several weeks after the
other school was closed. “I can think of nothing better for you,”
declared Miss Randolph in a chapel talk, “than to stay here and work
while the nation and your homes are in this turmoil. I appreciate
all the thoughts that call you homeward, but it will not be long
before you can go. The prizes for excellence will soon be awarded,
and we must make this Commencement worth while for those who have
earned them.” Indeed there was nothing else to do but to continue as
nearly as possible in the ordinary school schedule. Old amusements
began again to have their charm, especially in the beautiful
environment of Greycliff. The outdoor sports engaged the girls in
their free moments. As soon as the ice had gone out of the little
river and the spring freshets were over, canoeing became a popular
sport, and the girls who had been together at camp during the
previous summer were especially good in it. There was a new and
larger boathouse this year, on the river, and more canoes than
before were available.

One especially warm day, Cathalina and Hilary were having a talk.
They were sitting where the rise of ground from the shore of the
river jutted out a little over the stream, and a tree recently
felled made a rustic seat. They had just come up from the beach
through the wood, and seeing Isabel in a canoe, strolled down from
the wood to watch her.

“Take off your cloak, Cathalina,” said Hilary, “and let this June
sun dry your bathing suit. It feels fine. The water was cold, wasn’t
it?”

“Yes, but that is not strange in this climate. We ought to go right
in, according to rules.”

“The sun is hot enough, this afternoon, but we’ll go in a minute.
Seems to me the river is a little rough.”

“They had some storms south and west of us, last night and this
morning. I imagine Isabel is having a hard row of it upstream.”

“She is paddling, not rowing. There she has turned again.”

“Hilary, do you remember the first year we were here together?”

“Indeed I do, Cathalina. I had never been with anybody just like
you, and I enjoyed it so much.”

“I didn’t amount to much, I guess.”

“Indeed you did. You had lots of grit to do so much that you were
not accustomed to doing. I admired you very much, and do yet.”

“You were the splendid girl that taught me so much,” said Cathalina.
“I hope that you are going to belong to our family. Campbell doesn’t
think of a girl but you.”

“It isn’t settled yet,” said Hilary, which was more than she had
said as yet to any one except Lilian. “I think so much of Campbell,
but there is college and the war and everything, and, Cathalina, I
couldn’t be engaged to Campbell unless he asked me, could I?”
Hilary’s eyes were dancing now.

“What! The silly boy! He’d better make sure of you!”

“I’m sure he feels conscientious about the war. He said that he
couldn’t do what Phil is doing—not that he was criticizing Phil, you
understand, Cathalina, because I know how much he thinks of him.”

Cathalina nodded.

“I don’t know whether I am ready myself, yet, either. But we just
keep getting better and better acquainted and like to be together.”

Cathalina shook her head. “That isn’t very romantic, is it? Look at
Isabel, Hilary! What is she doing?” Cathalina was standing on the
edge of the elevation watching Isabel, who seemed to have caught her
canoe in a snag or some obstruction near the opposite side of the
stream. Suddenly whatever it was gave way and the canoe shot out and
over toward the other shore with a force that upset it.

“Isabel will get a plunge, too,” said Cathalina lightly, watching
closely, however, till Isabel should come to the surface and strike
out for the shore or the canoe. But Isabel when she came to the
surface made no effort and sank again a little farther down stream.
“Get a canoe, Hilary!” called Cathalina as she dived from the point
in the hope of catching Isabel in time.

Hilary wasted not a minute, but bounded down the incline to the
shore, and thrust out with one of the canoes that had, fortunately,
been left there. As she paddled, she shouted, in the hope that some
one might be near enough to hear her, though none of the men was in
sight, and it seemed as if all the girls must be at the lake shore.
“I wish I had a bigger boat to pick them up in,” thought Hilary,
“but the canoe is faster. Oh, please, Lord, let me get there in
time!”

Although the river was muddy, and the branch, or small tree in which
Isabel’s canoe had caught must have been brought down quite
recently, the current was not very strong, and that was in the
girls’ favor. Cathalina, on coming up from her dive, caught sight of
Isabel’s head only a little above her, but as she disappeared at
once, she dived to get her and caught her. Not for nothing had
Cathalina watched the life-saving tests at camp. She had tried the
“bringing in” of a supposedly drowning girl, but this was different,
and the bank looked a long way off. But by this time, water was a
familiar element, and she felt that she could keep them both up for
a little while. Supporting Isabel’s head, she waited for help,
trying to direct their way toward the shore as much as she could,
but carried further down by the current.

Hilary knew that Cathalina’s endurance was not equal to her courage,
and paddled her best to make up for the time lost in getting
started. Several times she lost sight of the girls, and fear struck
her heart. But they had only drifted around a curve, and Cathalina
had managed to get out of the current and nearer the shore. But the
stream was deep at that point, and Cathalina’s strength only
sufficient to keep afloat. It seemed ages till she heard Hilary’s
encouraging voice. “Here I am, now steady and careful, so the canoe
won’t go over!”

Cathalina grasped the side of the canoe, while Hilary tried to
balance it, but the pull on Cathalina’s side was too much. Hilary
found herself in the water, added to the number of “casualties,”
with only that fact that Hilary was a strong swimmer, and that the
shore was not far away, in their favor. The canoe had slipped from
Cathalina’s stiff fingers, though she still kept Isabel above the
water. But just as she was about to give up hope, Hilary reached her
and took Isabel, and a rowboat rounded the curve, with Mickey
pulling furiously.

“Take Cathalina in first,” sputtered Hilary, “and I’ll help you get
Isabel in.”

Mickey helped the dripping Cathalina over the side of the rowboat,
and with Hilary’s assistance drew Isabel up and over, putting her in
the bottom of the boat with her head on Cathalina’s lap. Then Hilary
scrambled in, and Mickey made haste to shore. By this time, they
were where the river widened, just before emptying into the lake,
and the shore was sandy. Mickey laid Isabel on the beach and began
to work over her. Hilary helped, but told Cathalina to stretch out
on the sand before she tried to climb the hill to the Hall.

“Go on, now, Miss Hilary,” said Mickey, “and have them get things
ready at the hospital. She’s breathing and the water’s out of her.
I’ll have her there in a jiffy.” But two or three of the girls from
the lake shore who were half way up the hill already got Hilary’s
word and sped more quickly than the tired Hilary to have the nurse
at the little hospital annex ready to receive her patient.
Cathalina, also, rose and dragged herself up the hill, after Hilary
and Mickey, who had Isabel gathered in his strong arms, and wasted
no time in climbing the ascent and hurrying across the campus.

The word went round. “Isabel Hunt’s drowned, and Cathalina Van
Buskirk and Hilary Lancaster, too, they say.”

This was repeated outside of Isabel’s suite to Olivia, who was about
to enter. Two girls had just come in, and were passing through the
hall.

“No, they aren’t, either,” said one. “I saw them going into the pest
house, but Cathalina could scarcely drag herself there. Mickey was
carrying Isabel, and told us to ‘clear out’!” The girl giggled, in
spite of the serious occasion. Olivia burst into the room with the
news.

“Isabel drowned!” exclaimed Virginia. “Why, she is one of the best
swimmers here! Didn’t she win a swimming meet at camp last summer?”
Virgie had jumped up and her book had fallen to the floor. “I’m
going right over. Why, we just _came_ from there! We were all
canoeing, and Isabel said she wanted to stay out a little while
longer, and Mickey was right in the boathouse at the landing,
working on a canoe.” As she talked, she was twisting up her hair,
which she had been drying, and ran to the closet for dress-skirt and
middy. “Why didn’t I dress when I came in!”

“Here, let me help you,” said Olivia. “You’re hands are all shaking,
and you are trembling all over! I don’t believe Isabel is drowned,
but we’ll go and find out.” Olivia might have hung up the kimono
which she took from Virginia, but she threw it on the floor, and
while Virginia fastened one garment, had the other ready to go over
her head. “Where’s Avalon? Was she with Isabel?”

“I don’t know where Avalon is. She may be drowned, too, for all I
know.”

“Cheer up. Remember your name’s Hope, as Isabel says.”

“How in the world did Cathalina and Hilary get there?” continued
Virgie, thinking aloud. “They were at the shore, and would go right
in after bathing.”

“Gracious, Virgie—I don’t know. All I know is what the girls said
just now. I don’t see why Mickey should be in such a hurry and be so
cross if it were too late to do anything.”

The two girls ran down the back stairs to the door where Betty had
seen Donald’s mirrored countenance on that famous Hallowe’en, and
crossed the campus a short distance to the “pest house,” or hospital
annex. A group of girls had just left, walking away in an opposite
direction, but as Olivia and Virginia neared the door, it opened and
Hilary came out, wrapped in a big grey blanket. She was bound for
the same door of Greycliff Hall from which Olivia and Virginia had
come, and had on some big felt slippers and a few garments furnished
by the nurse, in place of her wet sandals and bathing suit. She
smiled rather wanly at the excited girls, and Virginia asked at
once, “Is it true that Isabel was drowned?”

“No, indeed! But she came pretty near it.”

“How did it happen? Tell us about it!”

“Wait till I get upstairs, if you don’t mind. I feel funny, too,
from some medicine they gave me, but Miss Randolph said I could go
to bed in the suite. She said that she was glad Cathalina and I
broke the rules for once.”

“What rules?—Oh, well, I won’t ask any more questions till you get
to bed. Did you rescue Isabel?”

Olivia began to laugh. “Aren’t you perfectly killing, Virginia Hope!
Just said you wouldn’t ask questions and ask her another in the same
breath! Come on, Hilary, I’ll help you upstairs.” But Hilary,
gathering her blanket around her, was climbing the back stairs
without any assistance, laughing, too, at Virginia.

“I don’t blame you, Virgie. I wouldn’t let you come with me if there
were any chance of your seeing Isabel. She is feeling pretty sick
right now, and a doctor is going to come and look her over. They put
Cathalina to bed, too. She was the one who rescued Isabel. She would
have been gone if it hadn’t been for Cathalina. She was standing on
the edge of the bank and dived to get her.” Hilary went up a few
more steps and then remembered another of Virginia’s questions. “Oh,
yes, about breaking rules. It was so warm, you know, that we took
our time about getting up to the Hall, and decided we’d go through
the wood to get to the side door. Then we saw Isabel, and I threw
off my cloak and sat in the sun on that tree Mickey cut down—and, of
course, it was breaking rules to wait, but we did not think of it
then. As I told Miss Randolph, we were ‘just stopping a minute’ on
the way. We didn’t see Mickey at all, but he was in the boathouse
and started right after us. I was in a canoe, you know, by that
time.”

“No, we didn’t know. I suppose when Cathalina dived, you ran for a
boat.”

“That was it.”

“Two more ‘heroines,’” remarked Olivia.

“Only one,” said Hilary. “Cathalina kept Isabel up till I got there,
and then the canoe upset! I think I could have taken Isabel to
shore, but it would have taken so much longer.”

Betty and Lilian were at home when the girls reached the suite, and
had not heard a word of the whole matter. They brought Hilary’s own
pretty gown, opened the bed and tucked her in “her downy cot,” as
Lilian said.

“My, doesn’t bed feel good?” said Hilary. “I’d be all right if I
hadn’t swallowed a lot of that river water, and they gave me
something hot at the pest house that made my head swim. Why, I’ve
paddled _miles_, and—swim, swam, swum a long time without its
hurting me. I was in the water this time only a few minutes.”

“But it was the strain of the danger, I imagine, and Isabel so near
drowning, that made you feel so used up,” suggested Lilian.

“Miss Randolph told me to go to bed and stay there,” laughed Hilary,
“and she would order a good dinner sent up to me. I wasn’t to worry
about either Cathalina or Isabel. Cathalina is just tired out.”

“Why couldn’t Isabel swim?” asked Virginia, for the account had been
confusing as it was repeated to Betty and Lilian.

“She must have been hurt in some way getting loose from that branch
or log, whatever it was.”

“Maybe she just fainted,” suggested Olivia.

“_Isabel_ faint!” exclaimed Virgie. “I don’t know, though; she said
she was dizzy this morning. Perhaps she’s coming down with
something.”

“We were all _going_ down for a while,” assented Hilary, with a
smile.

“Nothing serious the matter with Hilary, Lilian—she can joke still.”

“But you girls will find out how Isabel is before long and let me
know, won’t you?” begged Hilary. “Excuse me now; I’m going to sleep.
I’m glad to get rid of the hot grey blanket that I had to wear, to
cover deficiencies in wardrobe.”

Hilary impolitely turned her back upon the girls, while Lilian drew
the sheet and light blanket about her shoulders, pulled down the
shade part way, and tiptoed out, propping the door ajar that the
June breeze might pass through. Then she took a book and sat down in
the study to keep guard.

Betty and Virginia had gone right out. “I’m going straight to Miss
Randolph,” said Betty. “Cathalina is my room-mate, and she will
think it’s all right for me to inquire.”

“So is Isabel mine,” said Virginia. “Do you suppose she has come
back from the hospital?”

“I should think so, unless there is something wrong with Isabel. The
nurse will telephone everything.”

As the girls approached Miss Randolph’s door, with that guilty
feeling of intrusion which attacked them under such circumstances,
Mickey came out, having been called in to be questioned. His face
was red, but he was smiling.

“Oh, Mickey—you can tell us better than anybody how Isabel really is
and all about it.”

“There isn’t much,” replied Mickey. “Oi wuz worrkin’ in the
boathouse an’ the gurrls wuz all leavin’ the river. After I didn’t
hear ’em no more, I looks out an’ I sees the wan gurrl in the canoe,
an’ I starrted around the buildin’ fur wan o’ me tools I’d left out
there. Thin I hurrd a yell an’ there was Miss Hilary beatin’ it down
the river in a canoe and the little one was nowhere to be seen. So I
gets out a rowboat and starts after ’em. All of em wuz in the water
when I got there.”

After hearing Mickey’s account, Betty and Virginia decided not to
bother Miss Randolph, and in an hour or so Cathalina came over,
quite refreshed, finding Hilary up and demanding to go down to
dinner. Betty ran to ask Miss Randolph, who consented. Cathalina
reported that Isabel was “nearly all right,” and that it was as they
thought—she had gotten hurt when she pushed away from the branches
of the log. “The doctor was there and said that there was nothing
wrong. Isabel says that it is to make up for her not being in the
wreck last year—she has to be known to fame in some way!”

“Isn’t that just like Isabel?” said Betty.

There were only a few days more of school. Many plans had been
changed in regard to public events. There was no lawn fete, and the
Glee Club concert had been more like an ordinary recital at the
Hall, with only a few visitors from Greycliff Village. But the girls
adjusted themselves to the new conditions and made ready for the
summer vacation with all its interests, chief of which was to get
home to mothers and fathers who were seeing their boys off to
various camps, or expecting them to leave as soon as called.

Virginia, as she had hoped, won second place as debater, the highest
honors going to Isabel. Thanks to one of the wealthy trustees, this
was a comfortable little sum of money for each of them. Virginia
also won a collegiate scholarship and was leaving with the happy
feeling that not only were her bills all paid, but there was a good
chance of her returning for another year at Greycliff. “Any one who
makes as good candy as you do,” Isabel solemnly told her one day,
“will always be welcome at Greycliff!”

Isabel was to pay a visit to Cathalina in the summer and claimed to
be “in ecstasies at the thought.” She had put her arms around
Cathalina’s neck and held her close the first time she saw Cathalina
after the accident.

“To think you went right in after me!”

“Nonsense,” said Cathalina, embarrassed. “Of course I would.”

                              THE END





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