THE RANCH

The next day the girls packed their things and said goodbye to their
fellow passengers. Walter Brooks still showed signs of resentment, but
Marjorie insisted upon parting good friends.

When they left the train at the little town of Bailey, which was
nearest to their ranch, they were surprised at seeing so few houses.
But upon inquiry, the station-master told them that they would find
more in the other end of the place, where the hotel was situated, and
the yearly “stampede” held.

“What’s a stampede?” asked Doris. “Doesn’t it have something to do with
run-away cattle?”

“Oh, yes, a real stampede,” replied the man, laughing. “But out here we
have a big time once a year with horse-races, and rough-riding, and all
sorts of exciting things. We’ve had ours already–but maybe you’ll get
to see one somewhere else.”

“I hope so,” said Marjorie. “And by the way, have you seen anything of
the people who are supposed to come to meet us?”

The station-master walked across the platform, and gazed up the hill.
Two Ford cars were making their way towards them; and a minute or
two later, stopped at the platform. Their drivers–two young men of
about eighteen and twenty–both wore the broad-brimmed hats and bright
colored shirts and handkerchiefs similar to those which the girls had
noticed on the cowboys they had seen from the train windows. Daisy
shrunk back at the sight of them, for they did seem a little wild to
the Eastern girl, accustomed to the conventional dress of city men; but
as soon as they spoke, she was reassured by their voices. They were
soft and cultivated, and could not have belonged to an uncouth person.

“Are you the Girl Scouts?” asked the older of the two.

“Yes,” replied Marjorie. “And we’re all here!”

“Good! Pack yourselves in, then!”

The girls proceeded to do as they were told, four of them climbing into
each car. They began almost immediately to ask questions.

“How big is the ranch?” inquired Ethel.

“In acres, you mean? Why–”

“No, I don’t care about the number of acres–that means nothing to a
girl. I mean how many buildings and how many people?”

“Oh, well, there is one big central cabin, and about eight small
living cabins. And there are twelve dudes there now–”

“Twelve _dudes?_” repeated Alice. “What in the world do dudes want to
do on a ranch?”

Bob–as the young man had informed them his name was–laughed
unrestrainedly. “Why, you’re all dudes, or dudeens, on this ranch,” he
said, “unless you’re horse-wranglers or cooks. Anybody who boards on a
ranch is a dude.”

The girls were relieved at the explanation; they had not particularly
enjoyed the prospect of spending the summer with twelve dudes of the
conventional type which one sees on the stage.

They were going up a steep incline, with a sharp embankment on one
side, and several of the girls felt rather nervous. Marjorie noticed
this, and thought it would be better to refrain from asking questions,
so that the driver might devote all his attention to his task.

“Just see how barren the country seems,” she said, “no trees at all.
Doesn’t it seem funny after being used to Pennsylvania and New York!”

“Yes, we couldn’t find enough dry leaves to fill our bed-sacks if we
were camping out all night,” said Lily. “Remember how we used to do on
the canoe trip?”

“And shall we ever sleep out all night?” asked Doris, as if she were
not in love with the idea.

“Yes, if you want to go on the pack-trips,” replied Bob, who had turned
his car into a more level space now, and felt free to talk again.

“And if we want to go to Yellowstone, do we have to sleep out for a
week or so at a time?” continued Doris.

“No, because they have regular camps and hotels there, and we don’t
bother to take our own equipment,” he answered.

The road gradually became more level and less dangerous, and for a time
Doris felt relieved. But just as they came within sight of the ranch,
she was frightened by the sound of eight pistol shots, fired one right
after the other. Several of the girls put their fingers in their ears,
and all looked questioningly at their drivers.

“That’s to announce your arrival,” Bob explained; “and to send you
greetings. There was a shot for each of you.”

“I’m afraid I’d just as soon not be welcomed so boisterously,” sighed
Doris. “It certainly did startle me.”

“You’ll soon get used to it,” replied the young man. “They’re only
blanks, and they fire them off all the time.”

The girls now had a good view of the ranch, with the one big cabin in
the center, as Bob had described, and the smaller ones a short distance
away in somewhat of a semicircle. Beyond were the fields, in which
they could catch glimpses of the horses, and of a few cows.

“Isn’t it great!” exclaimed Ethel, rapturously.

“Yes; and it sort of reminds me of the training camp last year,” said
Marjorie.

Lily looked a little dubious.

“Doris,” she whispered, “do you suppose they have bath-rooms, and hot
water?”

Bob, who had overheard the question, laughingly answered it.

“You have all the modern conveniences,” he said. “You’ll find as nice
showers as in any hotel in Denver!”

The girls got out of the machine and followed their guides to the main
cabin. Mr. and Mrs. Hilton, the rancher and his wife, were waiting for
them.

“Bob and Art found you all right, did they?” asked Mrs. Hilton,
cordially. Her smile was so frank and her manner so engaging that the
girls felt immediately at home.

“Yes, indeed; everything was fine!” replied Ethel.

The Hiltons showed them the buildings, assigning to them their two
cabins. Each contained four cots–quarters for four girls.

“And now I’ll leave you to get settled,” said Mrs. Hilton. “Supper is
at six o’clock, but if you are ready early, come over to the cabin and
meet the other people.”

When she had withdrawn, the scouts began to discuss how they should
divide. Since it did not seem to make any particular difference to any
of them, they finally decided to draw lots. Marjorie, Lily, Daisy and
Alice were to be together in one cabin; Ethel, Mae, Florence and Doris
in the other.

Accustomed to doing things quickly after their long training at
boarding school, they soon had their suit-cases unpacked, and their
things in order. Lily, as usual, was the slowest in dressing, and long
before she had finished, the others had all gathered in her cabin.

“I certainly am anxious to see the dudes, as Bob called them,” said
Ethel, seating herself on one end of a cot. “Do you suppose they are
men and girls both?”

“I don’t know,” replied Marjorie. “Bob didn’t say, did he?”

“No, he just said there were twelve of them,” put in Alice.

“Girls,” interrupted Daisy, who had not been listening to the
conversation, “how often do you think there are mails here?”

“Not very often, I’m afraid,” said Marjorie, wondering at the same time
whether she might hope to hear from John Hadley soon. “But don’t you
worry, Daisy, if there were any news you’d get it by wire.”

“I suppose that’s true,” said the girl, thoughtfully. “And that reminds
me, I wanted to ask you girls not to say anything about my sister out
here. Of course I knew you wouldn’t intentionally, but something might
slip out–like it did about that fake lieutenant–if you weren’t on
your guard.”

The girls laughed at the reference to the joke the boy had tried to
play upon them, and assured Daisy that they would be very careful of
her confidence.

It was half-past five when they finally strolled over to the porch
of the big cabin. A large, roomy veranda, with plenty of benches and
chairs, it looked most inviting and homelike. The girls approached it
with a sensation of pleasure that almost seemed like adventure.

All the scouts had put on simple summer dresses, and yet as they saw
the only other two girls of the ranch in riding breeches and flannel
shirts, they experienced that uncomfortable feeling which comes to a
woman when she realizes that she is not appropriately clothed. As they
approached the porch Bob Hilton came out of the cabin to introduce them
to the others. He did it clumsily, but so informally that they felt
immediately at ease.

“That bunch in the corner playing fan-tan is the Grimes Academy bunch,”
he said, indicating five boys ranging from thirteen to sixteen years
of age. “And that’s Pop Welsh, their keeper!”

The boys looked up and grinned, and the girls smiled back in return.

“Irene and Maud Judson,” continued Bob, nodding in the direction of the
two young ladies.

“Mike and Tom Melville, here”–he indicated two young men in their
early twenties. “And that’s all of us, except Kirk Smith, who happens
to be taking a swim. And, of course, Art and me–; now you know where
you stand.”

“No we don’t!” objected Alice, laughingly. “I don’t remember a single
name besides yours and the two young ladies.”

“Well, you soon will. And we call each other by our first names
entirely. So if you people had any idea of getting ‘Miss,’ you’ll be
left!”

“We hadn’t–we wouldn’t like it a bit!” Lily reassured them.

The girls declined an invitation to join in the games with the boys
in the corner of the porch, and seated themselves near the two young
women. They were attractive girls, of twenty and twenty-two, of the
healthy, athletic type. Their clear complexions and bright eyes
proclaimed them living exponents of this simple, out-door life.

“We’re awfully glad to have some other girls,” said Irene, the older
of the two. “Although it has been fun to be the only ones, in a way,
too.”

“You’ll love it here!” said Maud. “We wish we could stay the whole
summer, but we’ve been here since the first of June, and we have to
leave the beginning of August, to join our parents.”

“If they could only come here!” sighed Irene. “I’d rather be here than
anywhere else in the world!”

“That sounds good!” cried Marjorie, happily. She loved to be with
people who were contented.

“Is horseback-riding really so wonderful?” asked Doris, who was still
a little doubtful about the pleasures of a whole summer on the ranch.
She had been eager to be with the girls once more during the vacation,
but, had she been consulted, she would have chosen some more civilized
resort.

“It isn’t entirely the exercise!” laughed Maud. “Irene has other
reasons for being so crazy about the place.”

“Maud!” said her older sister, reprovingly.

“Oh, do tell us the rest!” cried Alice. “It isn’t fair to stop in the
middle of something interesting.”

“There’s really nothing to tell,” said Irene, coldly.

Maud winked at Alice.

“I’ll see you in private,” she said, “though I won’t tell any names,
Irene!”

“Oh, go ahead–I don’t care! It isn’t serious, girls; it’s only silly.
But maybe the warning will help some of you. I sort of lost my head
about Kirk–he’s terribly good-looking, you know–and he treated
me like ice. Don’t any of you show him that he makes the slightest
impression on you!”

“I should say we won’t!” cried Alice, with true loyalty to another
member of her own sex. “Oh, girls, let’s don’t pay any attention at all
to him! I hate conceited men! Let’s–”

“Sh! Alice! Do be careful!” warned Ethel. “You don’t want the boys to
hear you, do you?”

“No, of course not, but–”

“Why, here he comes!” interrupted Maud. “Now girls, don’t seem
impressed by his looks!”

“I’m not!” said Alice, stoutly, forcing herself to believe the truth of
her assertion.

The man who came toward them was dressed in a gray riding suit, so
conservative in color and cut, that it presented a decided contrast to
the flashy costumes of the younger boys. He was tall, a perfect figure,
with big square shoulders. His face would have been handsome had his
expression been less disagreeable. Alice immediately marked him for a
cynic.

When he had come within a few yards of the porch, however, he seemed to
change his mind about going any further, for, hesitating only a moment,
he abruptly turned about and retraced his steps to his cabin.

Bob Hilton, who was already standing in order to make him acquainted
with the new arrivals, whistled softly, and dropped again into his seat.

“He evidently didn’t like our looks!” remarked Alice.

“That’s just the sort of queer, rude thing he is always doing,” said
Maud. “What Rene sees in him–”

“Oh, I guess I sort of like him just because of his indifference,”
returned the other girl. “Come, let’s change the subject! I really
think we had better give you girls some instructions about clothes.
Those dainty dresses you have on are entirely too good for here. They
wouldn’t last two days!”

Like most girls, the scouts were all interested in the topic of dress,
and discussed it with animation until the supper bell interrupted them.

It was not until everyone was seated in the dining-room that the
young man who had been the cause of so much talk finally put in his
appearance. He acknowledged the introduction to the girls with a brief
bow, and took his place next to Mrs. Hilton.

“He _is_ stunning!” whispered Marjorie to Ethel, as he took his seat.

“Yes, rather. But I like those Melville boys’ looks, too.”

Doris, who sat next to Bob Hilton, was already deep in a conversation;
while the other scouts, who were grouped together, talked among
themselves. They were glad, however, when Mrs. Hilton told them that
their places would be changed the following day.

“Tomorrow,” she said, “we are going to draw lots for seats at the
table, so that you girls can become acquainted with the rest of us. But
tonight I thought I’d let you be together.”

“Both plans suit beautifully,” said Marjorie, well pleased with her
surroundings.

“And what do you do in the evenings?” asked Daisy, as casually as she
could, although in reality she was dreading the strangeness of this
first night on the ranch.

“We usually sit on the porch as long as it’s light,” replied Irene.
“Some of the boys go for a walk, and some of us play games. Of course,
if it is cold we have a fire in the fire-place.”

“What games do you play?” asked Lily, brightening. “Bridge?”

“Mike and Tom are the only ones who know how,” replied Bob. “But they
have both been dying for a game.”

At these words the Melville boys became interested.

“Do you girls play?” asked Tom, with a broad smile. “That will be
great!”

“Some of us do,” replied Lily. “I guess I’m the craziest about it. It
always bores Marj and Alice.”

“I simply can’t sit still that long,” laughed Alice. “And I talk so
much it makes everybody furious.”

“Well, nobody keeps quiet here!” remarked Bob. “And nobody intends to,
either!” he added, emphatically.

“I say we have a game after supper!” urged Michael, who was as anxious
as his brother to play.

“Delighted!” said Lily. “I’ll see that we get another girl. Who
volunteers?”

“Not I!” said Daisy; “I have to write home.”

“And I’m such a poor player,” sighed Doris. “I’d rather join in
fan-tan.”

“Well, I’d love to, if nobody else cares!” put in Mae.

The big porch was indeed a cheery looking place: even Daisy could
hardly be homesick amid such a homelike, friendly crowd of people.
Here and there groups were playing games; others were reading or
writing; and some were just chatting and joking together. Marjorie
went inside to the book-shelves, and looked mechanically at the books;
but in reality she was trying to decide whether or not to write to
John Hadley. Suddenly she had missed him; she found herself wishing
that he were one of the young men among that pleasant gathering. She
was sorry for the careless way she had dismissed the whole matter of
their vacation as a mutual affair, and for the indifferent manner in
which she had said goodbye. She would indeed regret the loss of his
friendship; there were no other young men among her acquaintanceship
whom she so thoroughly admired.

“I’ll let him wait a couple of weeks anyhow,” she thought. “It will
do him good to wait a while. I might as well read tonight.” So she
selected a book and returned to the porch.

But she found she could not read long; in a few minutes Bob was at her
side.

“All ready for tomorrow’s ride, Lieutenant?” he asked, giving her a
mock salute.

Marjorie looked up laughingly.

“How did you know?” she asked.

“Doris told me.”

“Well, I certainly am ready–I can hardly wait! When do you go?”

“I don’t go at all; I have to work at home. I get up early and bring in
the horses–”

“Oh, that must be heaps of fun! I love to ride early in the morning!”

“All right, you can come along and help. The more the merrier!”

“Good! What time?”

“Six sharp!”

“I’ll be there!” returned Marjorie.

Continue Reading

THE TWO LIEUTENANTS

Nine hundred miles of their journey were over. The Girl Scouts had
reached Chicago.

It was a little after two o’clock in the afternoon, and the train was
to lay over until five. With more eagerness than any of the other
passengers displayed, the girls hurried out to make the most of their
time.

“Let’s go to a movie, and then have afternoon tea at a big hotel,”
suggested Lily, as soon as they were in the station. “I’d love to
treat.”

“No, thanks, Lil–that would really be too much,” objected Alice.
“Suppose we take one of those sight-seeing busses, and ‘do the town.’
I’ve never been in Chicago before. Besides, we’d see so many people,
maybe we would run some chance of finding Olive.”

“Yes, and run more risk of running into that awful lieutenant,” said
Lily, mischievously. She winked slyly at Marjorie, although of late
the latter had grown somewhat tired of the joke. As a new officer,
she longed to wear her lieutenant’s shield upon her coat, instead of
keeping it hidden in the depths of her trunk.

“Now, Lily, you know that’s nonsense!” protested Ethel. “If the old
lieutenant is going to find us, she knows what train we’re on, and all
about us. We simply couldn’t hide from her! No, let’s take the bus–we
can go to a movie anywhere. And maybe, if you really want to, there
would be time to take us for tea afterward.”

The girls all chimed in approvingly at Ethel’s suggestions, and
inquired for the nearest bus.

The experience of seeing a city in this ordinary way was a novel one
for most of them. Perched high up in the air, amid a crowd of noisy
people, they listened with great amusement to the remarks of their
fellow passengers, and the cut-and-dried descriptions and ancient jokes
of the guide. They hardly opened their mouths during the ride, and when
they did volunteer an observation to one of their comrades, it was in
a whisper. It required most of their efforts to keep themselves from
laughing out loud.

They stopped at one of the big hotels near the station, and, as it was
only four o’clock, they looked forward to a delightful hour in the
tea-room. They were entering the lobby when Alice suddenly grasped
Daisy’s arm.

“Look! look! Daisy! Could that be Olive?” she whispered, breathlessly.
“See–over there–by the elevator!”

Daisy’s eyes followed the direction indicated by her companion. The
young woman was about her sister’s age, and she had dark hair; but in
no other way did she resemble Olive. The girl shook her head sadly.

“Well, I’m going to keep right on watching,” said Alice, as the girls
entered the dining-room. “There, let’s ask the waiter to let us sit
over there by the window–then we can see everybody who comes into the
room.”

When they were finally established at one of the larger tables to the
side, Florence expressed herself frankly in regard to Alice’s attitude.

“Alice,” she said, “I think you’re really silly for a grown-up girl.
Daisy said herself that there isn’t a chance that her sister could be
out West, and yet you continually keep looking for her, and talking
about her, till Daisy can never hope to get her mind away from the
thing for a minute.”

Alice flushed painfully at Florence’s severe criticism. She was very
sorry for Daisy, and was only trying to help her solve the mystery.
It seemed cruel of Florence to intimate that she was only making it
harder for the girl.

Daisy, however, took a different view of the situation.

“Florence is mistaken, Alice,” she said, kindly. “It doesn’t make me
feel badly to have you so interested; instead it gives me more hope.
Before, when I never told anybody about it, I thought I’d go crazy–but
now Alice’s enthusiasm makes me feel as if Olive really must be alive,
and maybe everything will come out all right in the end.”

Alice flashed Daisy a grateful look; but before anything further could
be said, the waiter appeared with their sandwiches and iced-drinks, and
the girls gave all their attention to them.

“This lime-ade is wonderful, Lil,” observed Doris, appreciatively, as
she slowly sipped the dainty beverage. “Let’s take as long as we can
here–it’s so delightfully cool.”

On this hot July day it would have been hard to find any other spot in
the city so pleasant. The big, airy dining-room, with all its windows
wide open, was artificially cooled by electric-fans and a cool-air
system. The pale green curtains and green shaded lamps, the glistening
white linen, and the fresh flowers on each table heightened this
effect. The girls thought of the stuffy train, and agreed with Doris
that it would be nice to stay here as long as possible.

“And yet the journey hasn’t seemed a bit long, or tiresome,” said
Marjorie. “I’ve really enjoyed it a lot.”

“Well, you see you and Alice are blessed with beaux,” teased Mae.
“Those Brooks youths certainly are devoted.”

Marjorie and Alice both laughed.

“You better say Brooks _children_,” corrected Alice. “They do both wear
long trousers, but I declare Walter’s voice hasn’t changed yet!”

“Well, they’re better than the old bachelor who was talking to Ethel
last night,” said Marjorie. “I honestly pitied you, Ethel!”

“He wasn’t so bad, though,” said Ethel. “Did you know he and his
sister–that middle-aged woman who travels with him–are actors? Well,
he was telling me about some of his experiences and it really was quite
interesting. Still, I wasn’t sorry when you rescued me, Marj.”

“Come, girls!” said Lily, consulting her watch. “I hate to break up the
party, but we simply must go!”

The journey from Chicago to St. Paul was uneventful, but after they had
passed through the latter, the girls began to notice real indications
of the West. Now and then, at stations, they caught sight of a
broad-brimmed hat with a leather strap for a band; they saw many riders
over the prairies, and innumerable cattle. And here, too the girls
noticed a change in the air. Just as one becomes conscious of the damp,
salt air of the seaside some miles before the ocean is even in view,
so the pure, dry air of the mountains began to make itself felt. The
sun was clear and bright, casting sharp black shadows from objects like
those cast by electric lights.

The girls were so impressed with the vastness of the landscape that
they often sat gazing out of the window for a long time without saying
anything. The scarcity of trees, the rarity of houses, and the total
absence of fences seemed strange; then the appearance of a small
town, twenty or thirty miles from the last, would again attract their
attention.

When they had finally reached Dakota, they had their first good view of
the cowboys. Their large felt hats with the broad brims, their fancy
“chaps,” or overalls made of calves’ skin or of hair, their boots with
high heels, and big red handkerchiefs about their necks made them
appear most picturesque. When Marjorie actually spied one with a fancy
pistol with a carved ivory handle and gold mountings, she burst into
laughter.

“Imagine being that vain!” she remarked to Walter Brooks. “I always
said men were worse than women!”

“Well, maybe they are,” laughed the young man, good-naturedly. He was
thinking of something else, and willingly agreed to anything.

“Time for dinner!” called Alice, opening the door of the sitting-room
compartment. “Come on, everybody!”

“Miss Wilkinson,” asked Walter, “may I request a favor? Could I sit
here to finish a letter while you girls eat? I can’t find a private
place, away from that infernal brother of mine, in the whole train!”

“Certainly!” laughed Marjorie. “But when you go out, pull the door to,
and I’ll take my key.”

When they had reached the diner, Ethel reproved her slightly for her
confidence.

“Of course I trust Walter,” she said; “but he’s awfully careless, and
ten chances to one he’ll get so absorbed in his puppy-love-letter that
he’ll forget all about the door. And almost anybody might get in.”

“Oh, I guess not,” said Marjorie, carelessly. “Anyway, I’ll take a
chance.”

But when the girls all returned to their compartment, they found, to
their amazement, that somebody not only had been there, but was still
occupying the best chair in the room–somebody so totally unlike anyone
they had ever seen that they felt as if they must be dreaming. An old
woman, so powdered and rouged as to conceal her real age, dressed in an
ill-fitting, long, black dress and gray bonnet, gazed at them as they
entered. Doris, who was the first to enter the room, immediately jumped
to the conclusion that this was the new lieutenant. But Marjorie and
Lily, who knew that this was not the case, were at their wits end for
an explanation.

“How do you do!” said Doris, politely.

The woman eyed her critically, with a scowl on her face.

“You the Girl Scouts?” she asked, in a shrill, unpleasant voice. “I’m
Miss Proctor, your new lieutenant.”

The other girls had all pressed into the compartment, and stood with
wide open eyes, listening with horror to the woman’s announcement.
Doris continued as spokesman for the party.

“Yes,” she said, “Mrs. Remington wrote that we might expect you.”

“Well, here I am! And look here–you’re all going to walk the
chalk-line! No more foolin’ with boys, as long as I’m your boss! And no
card-playing! To bed every night at nine o’clock!”

The girls heard these words with increasing anger; inwardly they all
felt a rising hostility. It was Alice, however, who impulsively voiced
the sentiment of the group.

“And you actually expect to go to the ranch with us?” she blurted out,
in an insolent tone. “You!”

“Those are your captain’s orders!” replied Miss Proctor.

“The captain has gone mad!” cried the girl, completely losing control
of herself.

Marjorie and Lily, however, who knew that no such person as Miss
Proctor existed, began to guess that someone was playing a practical
joke on them. Marjorie decided to find out, if possible, while still
keeping the other girls in the dark as to the real situation. So she
struck upon a bold plan.

“Are you sure,” she began sarcastically, “that you are old enough to be
a lieutenant, Miss Proctor?”

The other scouts opened their mouths in speechless amazement at the
audacity of such a speech from Marjorie Wilkinson. Could this be the
same girl who was always so courteous and polite, especially with older
people? But if they were surprised at the girl’s question, they were
dumbfounded at the old woman’s reply.

“Don’t get fresh!” she snapped, in a voice suspiciously youthful.

“And have you passed your examination?” continued Marjorie, calmly.

“Certainly I have! The captain gave it to me herself!”

“Can you do the semaphore alphabet?”

“Watch me!” cried the old lady, springing quickly to her feet, and
displaying for a second two very mannish shoes.

“A–B–C–” she began, waving her arms in illustration.

Marjorie held up her hand.

“I believe you–that will do,” she said, suppressing a smile. Then,
with a sly wink at Lily,

“Won’t you shake hands with all the girls, Miss Proctor?” she suggested.

Doris advanced a trembling hand, but Alice put hers behind her
stubbornly. She had no intention of accepting this freak, except under
pressure.

“Oh, take off your glove, and give the scout handshake,” commanded
Marjorie.

As the woman complied with her request, both Marjorie and Lily noticed
the large, boyish hand she put forth. But the other scouts were all too
nervous or too angry to observe this.

“I’m not going to shake hands!” said Alice, firmly. “I’ll get out of
the scouts first!”

Marjorie looked dismayed; this was just what the joker, whoever she
was, wanted. She sighed wearily; then a sudden idea came to her.

“Go ahead, Alice,” she whispered, “we’ll make her life pretty hot for
her once we get her on the ranch. We’ll make her change her attitude,
and wish that she had never seen the members of Pansy troop! One poor
old lady hasn’t much chance with eight scouts!”

Alice’s face brightened at the suggestion, and she hastened to do as
Marjorie wished.

“And now, Doris, will you get the flag out of my trunk, and we’ll
salute it with our new officer. But you must take your hat off, Miss
Proctor.”

Marjorie had been standing beside the stranger’s chair, and with a
sudden movement, she reached over for her hat, and, as if by accident,
pulled off her wig. The short, black hair of a young man was visible
underneath.

“Now, Walter Brooks!” she cried, triumphantly, “suppose you ’fess up!”

The boy, who had encountered difficulty all along in controlling his
laughter, now let himself go, and burst into hysterical mirth. The
girls, too, dropped into chairs, holding their sides, and wiping the
tears from their eyes.

“I was trying so desperately to get away,” he said, “before Miss
Wilkinson was sure of her suspicion. But she was too quick for me!”

“What ever made you guess, Marj?” asked Alice. “I was too mad to think
of anything like that.”

“I guessed,” replied Marjorie, slowly, “because Lily and I knew there
was no real Miss Proctor, so somebody must be playing a joke on us.”

“No real Miss Proctor?” repeated Ethel, in the most relieved tone.
“Then we have no awful lieutenant–”

“Yes, you have a lieutenant, and she’s pretty awful,” interrupted
Marjorie, her eyes twinkling mysteriously.

“Who? Tell us quick, Marj!” demanded Alice.

“Well, she’s just passed her eighteenth birthday,” said
Marjorie,–“and–and–oh, you tell them, Lil!”

Lily stepped forward, and proudly put her arm about her chum.

“The long and the short of it is, girls,” she said, “that Marj is our
new lieutenant!”

The gasps of happiness, together with the congratulations that followed
this announcement removed any doubts which Marjorie might have
entertained as to the approval of the other girls. Amid the confusion
Walter Brooks made an effort to escape unnoticed. But Marjorie detained
him.

“Not without your punishment!” she said. “Doris, lock the door! Now,
tell us how you worked this clever little trick!”

The young man flushed, and looked helplessly from one girl to another.
He made such a ridiculous picture in his long black dress, and his
short hair, bereft of the wig, that the girls again broke into laughter.

“I know it was partly my fault,” volunteered Lily, coming to Walter’s
rescue. “I told him about the fake lieutenant.”

“But where did you get the clothing?” demanded Alice. “No woman on this
train would have a rig like that!”

“Yes, and the wig, and rouge, and–”

“Why, they belong to the actress, of course!” answered Walter. “And she
was awfully nice about lending them to me!”

“Girls,” said Marjorie, thoughtfully, “how do you suggest that we
punish him?”

The scouts were silent for a moment; then the resourceful Alice hit
upon a happy plan.

“Let him wear my Girl Scout uniform to dinner tonight!” she said. “And
if he makes any resistance, I think we can round up his brother and one
or two other boys on the train to use physical force!”

The girls shrieked with joy at the brilliancy of the penalty, but the
young man winced at the idea.

“I’d rather go without dinner,” he said.

“Oh, you’ll go to the dining-room!” said Marjorie. “We’ll see to that!”

“Please be merciful!” he pleaded. “That’s such an awful punishment.”

“But you seem to enjoy wearing women’s clothing,” said Alice, pleased
with herself for thinking up the plan.

“It will be put through,” said Marjorie, with a finality that made
Walter know that she meant what she said. “Alice, will you go get your
uniform?”

And so, aided by three of the boys, the Girl Scouts made the poor
youth go through with the punishment, much to his discomfort and
embarrassment, but much to the others’ amusement. He made the
resolution, however, that never again in his life would he attempt to
play a joke upon Girl Scouts.

“For they’re sure to get the best of you,” he remarked mournfully to
his brother, after the affair was all over.

Continue Reading

DAISY’S SISTER

The eight Girl Scouts who were going to the ranch met at the Grand
Central Station of New York. Although there were to be only eight
travellers, there seemed to be about thirty or forty people in the
party, so many friends and relatives had come to see them off.

Luckily, the girls’ luggage was all cared for by someone else, for
there was not a scout in the party who was not laden down with baskets
of fruit or boxes of candy. Doris Sands and Marjorie Wilkinson each
wore bunches of roses–those of the latter however were a gift, not
from John Hadley, but from Griffith Hunter.

The girls themselves seemed almost too excited to give much thought to
their presents. They tried to listen to innumerable admonitions and
messages at the last minute, and finally got into the train with only
a hazy idea of what everyone had said. But they all looked supremely
happy.

As soon as they were comfortably settled, and the excitement had died
down so that normal conversation was in order again, Marjorie began to
wish she might tell the others about her commission. It was only with
the greatest effort that she restrained herself.

Neither had Lily forgotten the all important subject; so as soon as she
found a chance, she blurted out her announcement.

“Girls!” she said. “I have the most exciting news to tell you! Guess
what it is!”

“What? What?” demanded two or three at once.

“Marj is engaged?” suggested Alice, always anxious for romance.

“Don’t be silly!” said Marjorie, frigidly.

“Well, you’ll never guess, so I might as well tell you,” said Lily,
amused at Marjorie’s indignation. “We are to have a scout lieutenant to
chaperone us this summer.”

“Who?” demanded Florence Evans, excitedly. “Not my sister Edith?”

“No–nobody like her. You couldn’t imagine two people more different;
in fact this woman is different from anybody else we ever had in the
troop. She is really an awful old maid–about seventy, I guess–and
wears spectacles, and thinks girls of seventeen or eighteen are mere
infants. She–”

Lily rejoiced to see the girls all growing furiously angry. How did
such a thing ever happen? Was this Mrs. Remington’s doing? Ethel
interrupted Lily by demanding, sharply,

“What’s this dreadful person’s name?”

Lily had not thought of a name for her. So, under the necessity of
inventing one on the spur of the moment, it sounded perhaps a trifle
too prim.

“Miss Prudence Proctor!” she announced, avoiding Marjorie’s eyes.

Florence let out a soft whistle. The others looked equally dismayed. It
was Alice who demanded a full explanation.

“Mrs. Remington wrote for us to keep a watch for her, that she might
join us anywhere from New York to the ranch.”

“How are we to know her?” asked Ethel.

“I’ll know her,” answered Lily. “I met her once.”

“And is she really so awful?” asked Alice, a little more hopefully.

“She’s dreadful!”

“Marj,” said Ethel, suddenly suspicious, “why aren’t you saying
anything? What do you know about her?”

Marjorie could hardly keep from laughing; in her struggle with the
corners of her mouth, the tears came into her eyes.

“She’s–she’s impossible!” she stammered, hiding behind her
handkerchief. “She’s really the most disagreeable person I know.”

“Worse than Ruth Henry?” asked Alice.

“Yes,” murmured Marjorie, again almost losing control of herself.

“Girls,” said Doris, who was always sensitive to another’s discomfort,
“let’s change the subject. I don’t understand it, but Mrs. Remington
must have had a reason for putting this woman over us. Anyway, we can’t
make it any better by talking about it.”

“It looks like one of Ruth Henry’s tricks to me,” said Alice, bitterly.

All this finally became too much for Lily; she was choking now, and she
feared that if she stayed another minute she would give way entirely.
Rising hastily, she made some excuse about getting a glass of water,
and disappeared into her own compartment.

By making their reservations early all the Girl Scouts had managed to
travel in the same car. Lily and Marjorie had one compartment together,
and Ethel and Doris another; the rest of the party had been satisfied
to travel in berths.

Although Doris, Alice and Lily had all been to the coast before, they
had taken the trip during their childhood, with their parents, and had
forgotten most of the details. Everything, therefore, seemed new and
fascinating to them all; they were in no hurry for the days to pass
which would be spent so enjoyably before they even reached the ranch.
They would read and play cards to their hearts’ content; and then, when
they were tired of everything else, they could always talk with each
other.

To many people much older than these Girl Scouts the novelty of eating
on a train has never lost its charm, so it is little wonder that they
looked forward to each occasion with a keen sense of pleasure. They
were thankful, too, as they entered the diner for their first meal,
that there were eight in their party; it would mean that they might
always eat by themselves, if they were fortunate enough to secure
two tables. They were careful to keep their voices low, and to avoid
drawing any undue attention to themselves; but, in spite of this, more
than one fellow-passenger looked enviously at the happy party.

When supper was over that first night, the girls, by general consent,
congregated in Marjorie’s compartment. It was the larger, more
comfortable of the two, and afforded a lovely private sitting-room.

“Shall we play bridge?” asked Doris.

“No, let’s just talk,” replied Marjorie, who sensed the prevailing
sentiment of the group. “Only–not about the lieutenant! I couldn’t
bear that!”

“We’ll never mention her till she appears!” exclaimed Alice, loyally.
“There–will that be a relief to you?”

Lily looked distressed. Was all her fun going to be denied her in this
fashion? But Marjorie good-naturedly came to her rescue.

“No, Alice, I’d rather get used to talking about her now, so that I
won’t make a fool of myself when she does appear. You can say whatever
you like; it really doesn’t matter to me!”

“Well, don’t let’s talk about her, anyway,” said Doris. “I’m sure we
can find a more agreeable topic of conversation. Let’s everybody tell
what she is going to do next year!”

“That will be interesting!” cried Lily, enthusiastically. “Where shall
we begin?”

“With the oldest,” answered Doris. “That’s you, Ethel.”

“Well, you all know about me,” said the girl. “I’ll be a sophomore at
Bryn Mawr.”

“And I’m going to a finishing school outside of Boston,” volunteered
Doris, briefly. “Who’s next–Marj or Lil?”

“I am,” said Lily. “I’m not sure what I am going to do. I’d like to go
to college, but I’m the only child in my family, you know, and mother
wants me home–papa travels so much.”

“I’m entered at Turner College,” said Marjorie. “And if I have
anything to say about it, Lily will go too!”

“But how about her mother?” asked Mae.

“Her mother can have her all the rest of her life!”

“It’s likely,” laughed Mae. “She’d be married the week after college
closed!”

“Mae!” remonstrated Lily, “don’t judge others by yourself! Now–what
are you going to do?”

“I’m going to business college, and I hope to take a position by the
first of the year.”

“That certainly sounds interesting,” said Doris. “Well, I suppose there
isn’t any use asking our seniors. You three are all going back to Miss
Allen’s, aren’t you?” she asked, turning to the youngest girls in the
party.

Florence and Alice both nodded assent; but Daisy sat still, staring
into space. It was evident from her attitude that something was
troubling her.

“I’m sorry,” she said, quietly, after the short pause, “but I can’t go
back.”

“Why not?” demanded two or three of the girls at once. Mae was just
about to make some teasing remark about getting married, when, catching
sight of the girl’s expression, she took the warning to be careful.

“We can’t afford it,” said Daisy, sadly. “Mother had to choose between
this trip and my last year at school, and, for the sake of my health,
she chose this. I’m really glad, for my best friends are here, and I
can get my diploma later at night school.”

The girls were absolutely silent for a moment, nonplussed at their
chum’s announcement. No one had had the slightest idea of the change in
her circumstances, and, although Marjorie and Alice had both remarked
about something strange in Daisy’s manner, both had attributed it to
ill health.

And while no one asked any questions, Daisy was started now, and meant
to go on with the whole story.

“You see, our family have been under tremendous expense lately,” she
explained, fingering the tatting on her handkerchief, and avoiding the
girls’ eyes. “My sister–she’s only twenty–always was very excitable,
and we sort of expected her to do something crazy. Well, she did! Last
Easter she went to the seashore with another girl, but she didn’t come
back with her. Instead, she ran off and married a man she had known
only three days!”

“My gracious!” cried Alice, who was now sitting on the edge of her
chair, “How thrilling!”

“And did your father have to support him?” asked Florence, jumping to
the natural conclusion.

Daisy shook her head sadly. How she wished their problem were as simple
as that!

“No, he turned out to be a splendid young man–papa met him afterwards,
though of course I never saw him. Well, to get back to the story,
Olive–that’s my sister, you know–sent a telegram to say they were
married, giving the man’s name. But unfortunately it was Smith–a
Thomas Smith!”

“Why unfortunately?” asked Alice. She could see no dishonor in marrying
a man of that name.

“Because, as you’ll see later, we had to trace her, and the name is
too common. It was in April that we received this telegram; in May,
Thomas Smith came to see the family alone. Olive had disappeared, and
he didn’t know where.”

“But why did she run away?” asked Alice, incredulously. “Was he cruel
to her?”

“No; as I said before, papa said he was lovely. Of course, I was at
school myself, and didn’t meet him, but I’d trust papa’s judgment any
day. And he said he had never seen anybody look so sad. The poor young
man seemed to take all the blame on himself.”

“I wonder why!” exclaimed Doris, with pity.

“Well, it seems that he had teased her about a poorly cooked dinner,
and it turned out that she was really very sick, with a fever. She took
his teasing to heart, and ran out without any coat or hat. He naturally
thought she would come right back, but she didn’t. Then he began to
phone to all her friends, and to us, but nobody has seen her since. We
don’t know whether she’s dead or not!”

“How dreadful!” whispered several of the girls, sympathetically.

“And so, ever since then, papa and Mr. Smith have both spent a great
deal of money in trying to trace her; but no detectives have ever found
a clue. Mr. Smith finally became discouraged, and went away, giving her
up as dead. But we have never given up hope.”

“Surely she’ll turn up,” said Doris, consolingly. “Why, if she had
died, somebody, somehow, would have sent word.”

“Except that there was no way to identify her. Well, papa has another
theory. He thinks her exposure while she was so sick made her
temporarily lose her mind, and probably even now she is an amnesia
victim, wandering around trying to find out who she is.”

“Wouldn’t it be great if we’d find her!” cried Alice, who was always
looking for adventure.

“We’d never find her this far away,” said Daisy, sadly. “If Olive’s
alive, she’s somewhere in the East. Mr. Smith said she couldn’t have
had more than ten or fifteen dollars in her purse.”

“Anyway, I’m going to watch for her all the time!” declared Alice. “I’d
rather watch for her than for that old stick of a lieutenant!”

“Tell us what she looks like!” begged Marjorie.

“She’s very striking looking. You couldn’t miss her. She has dark,
wavy hair, and very pink cheeks. Her eyes are blue, and she has a
dimple in her right cheek. She’s medium height, and slender.”

“Have you a picture of her?” asked Lily.

“I’m afraid I haven’t,” sighed Daisy. “I didn’t bring any pictures
at all with me. I thought we might live in tents, and wouldn’t want
anything that wasn’t absolutely necessary.”

“Well, let’s look at every girl we see, every time the train slows
down. And we can go in the diner in relays tomorrow, and look over
everybody on the train!” said Alice.

“Now Alice, that’s too foolish!” cried practical Florence Evans.
“Imagine finding her right on this train! You sound like a dime novel!”

“But she must be somewhere!” persisted Alice, stubbornly.

This discussion was interrupted by Marjorie’s asking Daisy what she was
planning to do next year.

“I’ve been studying stenography,” replied the girl, “and I have a
position waiting for me at home in the principal’s office of the public
school. I’m very lucky, because that will allow me to be with mother,
and help a little besides.”

“I think you’re wonderful to be so cheerful!” said Marjorie,
admiringly. “And think of keeping it from us all this time!”

“Well, I always hoped the thing would solve itself, and that there
would be no need of explanations. But now I’m getting pretty hopeless
too.”

“Whom do you bet we find first?” asked Alice, in spite of Florence’s
rebuke, “Daisy’s sister, or the lieutenant?”

“Daisy’s sister, I hope,” replied Doris, with a yawn. “Come girls,
let’s go away and let these people go to bed!”

Continue Reading

THE WEEK-END AT THE SHORE

Commencement was over, and Miss Allen’s Boarding School had been closed
for a week. Marjorie Wilkinson was home again.

For the last few days everything seemed strangely quiet and unnatural.
No bells rang in the morning to arouse Marjorie from her much needed
rest; there were no classes or meetings to attend; no gay functions
at night that kept her up till the small hours. She accomplished her
unpacking in less than an hour and arranged her room so that it seemed
as if she had never been gone. Her old favorite books were back in
her secretary-desk; her pictures were in their former places on the
walls; her school pillows were again on the wide window-seat, and her
monogrammed ivory set on the bureau. As far as outward appearance went,
the girl was perfectly at home.

And yet the strangeness of the life, in spite of the familiarity of her
surroundings, impressed her as it had never done before during a summer
vacation. Her old friends had vanished, and her new ones were too far
away to take their places. Ruth Henry, her chum from childhood, who had
afterward proved herself to be such a traitor, had moved to New York to
finish at a fashionable boarding school. Harold Mason was spending his
summer at a young men’s camp, and her brother Jack had taken a vacation
position at a hotel in Atlantic City. There was no one left in town
whom she knew intimately.

For a while, however, Marjorie was too tired to deplore this absence of
friends and excitement. She was glad of the chance to sleep, to read,
and to visit with her mother. She went over her college catalogues,
marking the studies she intended to take in the Fall, and she examined
her wardrobe with the view of selecting the things she would like to
take with her to the ranch.

But when the week had finally passed, and Lily Andrews arrived for the
promised visit, she knew she was thankful for the companionship.

The girls greeted each other as effusively as if it had been a month,
instead of a week, that had separated them.

“But I’m afraid it will be pretty slow for you, till the week end, at
least,” said Marjorie, apologetically, as she started the motor. “There
isn’t a thing doing–the town’s practically dead.”

“Why, isn’t there tennis–and driving–and canoeing, an–?” asked Lily.

“Oh, certainly!” interrupted Marjorie. “But I mean no dances or
parties, or even young men to call!”

“I don’t believe that will worry me much,” laughed the other. “But say,
Marj, couldn’t we go horseback riding–just to practice up a little,
you know?”

“Yes, we can hire horses, of course. That’s a dandy idea!”

Marjorie said nothing more about the week-end until they were
comfortably established on the porch after Lily’s things had been
disposed of. Then she mentioned it again.

“You don’t seem a bit excited about the week-end,” she remarked. “We’re
going away!”

“Why, of course I’m thrilled!” Lily hastened to assure her. “Where are
we going?”

“To Atlantic City–the hotel where Jack is clerking. And mother has
invited Mrs. Hadley and John.”

“That’s great!” cried Lily, rapturously. She had loved the seashore
from childhood. Then, at the mention of John Hadley, she asked whether
Marjorie had told him of her plans for the summer.

“No, I haven’t,” replied her companion. “I tried to when I wrote to
thank him for the roses. But somehow I didn’t know how to tell him,
because you know we had partly arranged to go to the same place this
summer. It seems sort of like going back on my promise!”

“Well, you couldn’t help that,” returned Lily, consolingly. “But I’m
sure he won’t be angry.”

“No, maybe not angry, but hurt, perhaps. Still–scouts have to come
first, don’t they, Lil?”

“You bet they do! Particularly as this is probably the last thing you
and I shall ever do as members of Pansy troop!”

“And that reminds me,” said Marjorie, “I wanted to ask you whether
you thought we couldn’t keep our organization, and have regular scout
meetings at the ranch. And we could wear our uniforms once in a while,
just for old time’s sake, you know.”

“Indeed I do approve of that idea!” cried Lily, with spirit. “Let’s
keep our senior patrol as long as we possibly can.”

“I sort of hesitated to suggest it,” continued Marjorie, “because I
am senior patrol leader, and I was afraid it might look as if I were
trying to keep all the power I could get.”

As Lily listened to these words, a new thought came into her mind. She
seized upon it immediately; it was a veritable inspiration.

“Marj! I have it! You’re eighteen now–let’s get you commissioned as
lieutenant!”

“Lieutenant–of–Pansy–troop?” repeated Marjorie, overcome by the
wonder of such a proposal. When the older girls had received their
commissions, she had looked upon them with awe and admiration, but it
never seemed possible to her that she could hold the same office as
Edith Evans and Frances Wright. She had always dreamed of becoming an
officer–perhaps, in time, a captain–over a troop of little girls. But
to be first lieutenant of her own troop–that seemed utterly out of the
question.

“Certainly,” replied Lily. “I’ll write to Mrs. Remington this very
minute, and she’ll get your examination papers.” She was on her feet
now, starting towards the door. “We have ten days yet,” she added, “we
can easily put it through.”

But Marjorie still seemed reluctant.

“It wouldn’t be fair, Lil–without consulting the other girls.”

“Nonsense! Would they have elected you senior patrol leader, two years
in succession, if they didn’t want you? Would you have been made class
president and first alumnae president, if you weren’t popular? Why,
they’ll be tickled to death! And won’t it be fun to spring a surprise
on them!”

“You mean not say a word about it to them, till everything is settled?”
Marjorie showed plainly that she disapproved of the suggestion.

“Of course! Tell them that Mrs. Remington wouldn’t let us go without
an officer, and that some awful stick of an old maid has been made our
lieutenant, and will join us somewhere on our trip out. Oh, I can just
see Alice’s expression now! Won’t she be furious!”

The humor of such a situation dawned upon Marjorie, and she joined in
Lily’s amusement. Then, after a little more persuasion, she consented
to the writing of the letter.

The girls did not have to wait long for the answer; indeed, they were
surprised at the rapidity with which it came. But then Mrs. Remington
always attended to matters promptly, and this all the more so because
she approved so heartily of the proposal.

Marjorie was delighted to find that the examination was comparatively
easy; after the more difficult merit-badge tests she had taken the
previous summer at training camp, this one seemed almost like child’s
play. She took it into the library, signed the pledge of honor to
answer the questions without assistance, and set immediately to work.
Inside of an hour the paper was finished, sealed in an envelope, and
dropped into the mail-box.

On Friday afternoon the whole family went in the automobile to Atlantic
City. Marjorie and Lily occupied the front seat, with the former at the
wheel, while Mr. and Mrs. Wilkinson rode in the tonneau.

The girls were not very talkative; both were absorbed in their own
thoughts. Marjorie went over and over in her own mind the best way
to tell John her plans for the summer. Probably it would make no
difference to him, and yet she wished the ordeal were over. She would
hate so to offend him.

A slight accident to the motor delayed them for a couple of hours at a
garage, bringing them to the hotel in Atlantic City at something after
five o’clock. Jack met them and informed them that the Hadleys had
already arrived, and had gone to their rooms. They would meet in the
lobby at six o’clock to go into the dining-room together.

“Don’t say a word about our trip to the ranch, Lil,” pleaded Marjorie,
as the girls were unpacking their suit-case. “I want to break it to him
gently–in case he should be peeved.”

“I know he’s going to be terribly disappointed,” said Lily. “But I’ll
be very careful, Marj.”

Reassured by her chum’s promise, Marjorie went gaily down to the lobby
at the appointed time. John’s first words, however, took her somewhat
aback; he had not forgotten her promise.

“This certainly is jolly of your mother,” he said. “And more than I
ever dreamed of. An extra week-end with you–besides our two weeks in
August.”

Marjorie winced at the reference, and closed her lips tightly. She
could not tell him now, before all those people, that her plans were
changed. So she merely smiled, and turned to Mrs. Hadley.

Having secured permission for extra time off, Jack felt particularly
gay, and acted as host of the party. Mr. Wilkinson noticed with what
genuine courtesy he carried the thing off, and judiciously retired
to the background. Indeed, it seemed as if the boy even regarded his
father and mother as guests.

The others of the party responded to his mood, and the meal was a
jolly one. It was only when he announced that he had procured seats
for Keith’s theatre that evening, that the girls found their spirits
sinking. For Lily would have preferred to spend the time looking at the
ocean, and Marjorie longed for the opportunity to have a tete-a-tete
with John.

But if the girls were disappointed at this announcement, they were
dismayed at the young man’s next remark. All unconscious of the
situation, he blurted out to John’s surprised ears the unwelcome news
of the girls’ project.

“What do you think of these wild girls, Hadley?” he asked, while they
were all waiting for their dessert. “Imagine them strutting around in
trousers all summer, on a ranch in Wyoming! I’ll bet they join the
cowboys, and never come back!”

“What? _What?_” demanded John, in a most perplexed tone. Marjorie had
said nothing about any such plans.

“Oh–haven’t the girls told you yet? Well, there hasn’t been much time.
Still–I thought you and Marj kept up a steady correspondence!”

“The steadiness is all on my side,” replied the young man, quietly.
Then, louder, “No, I didn’t know a word about it. Tell me!”

Marjorie hastened to relate all there was to tell: her father’s desire
to plan something particularly nice for her for this vacation, Mrs.
Remington’s suggestion, and the Girl Scout party. John said nothing
about his shattered hopes, but Marjorie saw that the slight had cut
deeply. If only she had written to him! But it was too late now for
regrets.

She did not find an opportunity until the following afternoon to
apologize for her failure to explain the project to John. The party,
which had stayed together all morning on the beach and in the ocean,
decided to go their separate ways after luncheon. Mr. Wilkinson joined
a fishing excursion, and Lily and the two older women planned to take
naps. Jack found it his duty to be in the office if he wanted the
evening off, so John seized the chance to ask Marjorie to go walking.
She was only too glad to accept.

Taking the car as far as Ventnor, so that they might avoid the crowd
and the shops, they started their walk in the prettier part of the
town. Marjorie plunged immediately into the subject that was uppermost
in both minds.

“John,” she began, “I didn’t mean to go back on my promise, and I
wanted to tell you all about it before anybody else did. But you see
papa and Mrs. Remington planned everything; I had practically no say in
the matter.”

John regarded her intently, wishing that he might believe that she
was as keenly disappointed as he was because they were not to be able
to spend the vacation together. But no; she certainly did not appear
heart-broken.

“You’re not sorry, though,” he said, somewhat bitterly. “The whole
thing suits you exactly.”

“It would be a lie to say it didn’t,” laughed Marjorie, good-naturedly.
“You know how I adore that sort of thing.”

“Marjorie,” he pursued, “do you think that–that–” he hesitated, as if
he did not know how to put his thought–“that sports, and Girl Scouts,
and things like that, will always come first with you?”

Marjorie seemed hurt at his words; he was accusing her of being cold
and unfeeling.

“I don’t know what you mean!” she returned, sharply. “Do you imply
that I care more for things like that than for people? That I like
horseback-riding and hiking better than mother and father and Lily–”

“No, no! I didn’t mean that. Of course I know your family and Lily come
first. But men, for instance? It seems to me you’d always rather go off
with a pack of girls on some escapade than see any of your men friends.”

“Maybe I would,” laughed the girl, heartlessly. “But,” she added,
“perhaps I’ll wake up some time!”

“When?” he asked, seriously.

“Maybe when I fall in love!” she returned, teasingly.

John knew that now she had adopted this frivolous manner, it would be
useless to pursue the subject further. So he put the thing out of his
mind temporarily, forcing himself to talk of other things.

But when, an hour later, he was alone in his room, he made a new
resolution. Marjorie had treated him shamefully by not writing to him
of her plans, by allowing his hopes to be dashed so rudely to the
ground by a third person. It was evident that she did not care for
him–that she had never cared, and it was foolish of him to pursue her.
In the future, therefore, he meant to treat her with the same polite
indifference with which he accorded the other members of her sex; if he
was nothing to her, he would show her that she was nothing to him!

That evening and the following day, he shared his attentions equally
with both girls, and although nothing was said, when Marjorie drove
away in the car, she felt that something was wrong. She feared she had
lost the friendship of a young man for whom she had the utmost regard
and respect. And she was sorry–but not sorry enough to make an effort
to re-establish it on the old footing.

Resolutely, she thought of the ranch and the Girl Scouts, and talked
volubly to Lily on both subjects. She was rewarded, it seemed; for when
she reached her home, she found her lieutenant’s commission waiting in
the mail-box!

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GOODBYES

Marjorie saw her parents and the Hadleys only for a few minutes after
the exercises were over, for almost immediately Mae and Lily came to
drag her off to a luncheon, which was to be followed by the last class
meeting.

As president, Marjorie naturally took the chair. Calling the meeting
to order, she put through the necessary details, that the girls might
return to their visitors as soon as possible. It was only when she
mentioned the formation of some sort of permanent organization, whose
purpose it would be to arrange for reunions and other activities, that
she realized that the girls were in no hurry to adjourn.

“Is it your pleasure to elect officers, and frame a constitution?” she
asked.

Immediately several girls rose to their feet in hearty approval of the
suggestion. Discussion followed, and a unanimous acceptance of the
proposition. Almost before she realized it, Marjorie was re-elected
president for the coming year.

It was after three o’clock when the meeting broke up, and Marjorie and
Lily decided to go straight to their room. Lily’s parents had gone home
immediately after the exercises were over, and Mr. and Mrs. Wilkinson
had invited the girls to supper at the inn with them that evening, so
they had not planned to be with Marjorie in the afternoon. Both girls,
therefore, felt that they were free for the remainder of the time.

Marjorie opened the door rather listlessly, picturing to herself
the confusion of the room, and wishing to keep away from it as long
as possible. But the packing had to be done, and there would be no
opportunity so good as this one.

“Lil!” she exclaimed, as soon as they were both inside the door, “What
are those suit-boxes on our beds?”

“I don’t know,” replied the other girl, going over to examine them.
“They don’t belong to me–” she paused, and looked at one of them
closely–“yes, this one does, too! It has my name on it!”

“And the other has my name on it!” cried Marjorie. “They must be
Commencement presents!”

With trembling fingers the girls pulled at the string and succeeded
in loosening it. In a moment each had made her discovery. A brand new
riding-habit of the most fashionable cut lay folded in each box.

“How wonderful!” cried Marjorie. “Yes, here’s a card–from mother. But
when are we supposed to wear them? I haven’t any horse–”

“It must have something to do with our vacation this summer,” surmised
Lily. “Or maybe our parents are going to let us go riding every day.”

“Let’s put them on!” suggested Marjorie, holding hers up for a closer
examination.

“No, we better not, Marj. Let’s pack first, and get our work all done.
I simply can’t rest in all this mess.”

“Righto!” agreed her room-mate.

The girls substituted middy blouses and bloomers for the Commencement
dresses, and then fell to work with a will. Order began to come from
chaos, and the room took on that bare appearance of the deserted
dormitory in summer time. As they surveyed the results of their labor,
both Marjorie and Lily grew increasingly cheerful; they began to forget
that this day was their last at Miss Allen’s, among so many dear
friends, and their thoughts instead were of the future.

“Don’t you wish we knew what we were going to do this summer?” asked
Marjorie, for perhaps the tenth time that week.

“Yes, but I do love a mystery. Remember last summer–how we didn’t know
whether we were going to the training camp or not–and then later when
we hardly dared dream that Pansy Girl Scouts would be the ones to go to
Canada.”

“Yes,” said Marjorie; “and everything always seems more thrilling in
reality than we ever hoped it would be. So perhaps, this summer will
be, too.”

“Your father said something about Girl Scouts–oh, don’t you wish the
whole senior patrol could be together?”

“It is my dearest wish,” replied Marjorie, earnestly.

The appearance of a maid at the door to remind them that the man would
call for their trunks in ten minutes put an abrupt end to this pleasant
conversation. Without another word, both girls set themselves to finish
their task.

“There’s just time for a nap before we dress for supper,” said Lily,
dropping on the bed.

“Of course I wouldn’t have said anything to mother or papa,” said
Marjorie thoughtfully, “but I do wish we didn’t have to go to the
inn tonight. It’s our last supper here, so I care more about the
companionship with the girls than about having good food. I want to be
with our best friends–Alice, and Doris, and the rest.”

“Cheer up, you’ll have breakfast with them tomorrow,” reminded
Lily. “And we can come back early this evening, and maybe wear our
riding-habits to visit them.”

Marjorie’s face brightened at the suggestion.

“It’s Friday night, Lil!” she exclaimed, suddenly. “Oh, if our senior
patrol could only get together for one last meeting! Just think–is it
possible we’re out of active membership of the Girl Scouts forever?”
Her voice became disconsolate, and she uttered the last word almost in
a whisper.

“But we won’t be,” said Lily, reassuringly. “We’re both going to start
troops of our own in the fall. And besides, I shan’t give up hopes for
this summer until I hear what your father tells you tonight.”

Both girls were in their kimonos, ready for their brief nap. Almost as
soon as they stopped talking and closed their eyes, they fell asleep,
exhausted from the strain and excitement of the week.

Neither realized how long she had been asleep; each sat up at the same
moment, awakened by a continuous knocking. Someone was at the door.

“My gracious, what’s that?” cried Lily. “It must be late, Marj! How
long do you suppose we have slept?”

Mechanically, patiently, the knocking persisted. Whoever the visitor
was, she evidently did not intend to give up until she received an
answer.

“We’ve got to open the door, though, goodness knows, we haven’t any
time for callers,” said Marjorie, pulling on her slippers.

Before she reached the door there came another volley of knocks, then
a whisper, followed by sounds of smothered laughter. The visitors were
evidently in high good humor. Sleepily, and with an excuse half-formed
on her lips, Marjorie opened the door. To her immense surprise, not
one, but five girls confronted her–her five best friends in the Girl
Scout troop. She burst into laughter.

“Do come in!” she exclaimed.

“We were sure you were dead!” said Alice Endicott, one of the most
vivacious girls in the troop. “We’ve been knocking for hours!”

“Not really?” asked Marjorie, seriously. “Oh, what time is it?”

“Quarter of six!” answered Doris Sands, consulting her watch.

“And we’re to be at the inn at quarter past for dinner with your father
and mother!” cried Lily, in alarm. “Marj, we certainly will have to
rush!”

“Yes,” announced Alice, “we’re all going–that’s the reason we are
here. I’ve heard of parties where nobody came but the hostess, but a
party without the hostess would be rather odd!”

She seated herself comfortably on the couch, and the others followed
her example. Marjorie listened incredulously to what she had told them.

“You’re invited too? Why, that’s perfect! But why didn’t papa tells
us?”

“Oh, you know he’s always strong on surprises,” remarked Lily. “I think
this is a dandy. But don’t stand there like a bump on a log, Marj!
We’ve got to dress.”

In less than ten minutes the girls announced their readiness to start.
Florence Evans reminded them both, however, not to forget their flowers.

“Flowers?” repeated Lily. “Oh, yes, I’d forgotten. Of course we seniors
all have them.”

“Seniors?” questioned Marjorie, a trifle regretfully. “We’re graduates
now, Lil. Florence and Alice and Daisy are the seniors now.”

But in spite of the imminence of the separation, Marjorie became gay
again. The evening promised to be very enjoyable, almost, it would
seem, a repetition of old good times. Mae Van Horn, Doris Sands, Alice
Endicott, Florence Evans, Daisy Gravers, Lily, and herself–with the
exception of Ethel Todd, all of the dear old senior patrol that shared
the wonderful experiences of last summer would be together. Surely it
was no time for regrets!

Linking arms, and humming the Girl Scout Marching-song, they proceeded
across the campus to the village. All the girls wore dainty summer
dresses, with light wraps or silk sweaters, and went without hats.
There were no bobbed heads now among the group; the style was
considered passé, and the girls with short locks disguised them with
nets.

They reached the inn just in time, and found Mr. and Mrs. Wilkinson
waiting for them on the porch. Two tall white benches on either side
of the door seemed to invite them hospitably to be seated. The girls
gratefully dropped into seats.

“Why is the door closed?” asked Marjorie, after she had expressed to
her parents her appreciation of the delightful surprise party.

“I guess it’s cold inside,” replied Mr. Wilkinson, with a twinkle in
his merry brown eyes.

“Oh it isn’t, papa! You’re hiding something!” cried his delighted
daughter. “I know you!”

“You aren’t satisfied, then?” he asked. “You want something more? Some
young men, I suppose?”

“No I don’t!” protested Marjorie, emphatically. “I hope John and Jack
went home, as they expected, for I’d rather have the girls all to
myself tonight!”

“Well then, what is it you do want?” he pursued.

“Nothing, papa. I’m perfectly happy. But I just asked a simple
question: why, on such a warm night as this, should the door be closed,
when there is a perfectly good screen-door in front of it?”

“Don’t tease her any more, dear!” remonstrated Mrs. Wilkinson. “There
is a reason for having it closed, Marjorie, and it is another surprise
for all of you. Two more guests are waiting for you inside, but
they’re of the feminine gender, as you seem to desire.”

“Oh, who?” demanded all the girls at once.

“What two people would you most rather have with you tonight?” asked
the older woman.

“Ethel Todd, for one!” cried Marjorie.

“And Mrs. Remington!” put in Lily and Alice, both in the same breath.

At this dramatic moment, Mr. Wilkinson threw open the door, revealing
the very two people desired, smiling at the girls’ surprised
expressions. The scouts all jumped up and rushed forward, and a great
confusion of embracing followed. Before they had calmed down, the
landlady appeared to announce supper.

Following her into a private dining-room beyond the main tea-room, they
found a charming table set for ten. A big bowl of purple pansies stood
in the center, surrounded by candles of the same color; and at the four
corners of the table there were bows of purple ribbon. The place-cards
represented hand-painted scout hats, decorated with wreaths of the same
troop flower.

“It’s lovely! I feel just as if it were a real scout party again!”
cried Marjorie, joyfully.

“That’s exactly what we’ve tried to make it,” explained her father,
gratified at her obvious pleasure.

“And so many surprises in one day,” continued the girl, after everyone
was seated. “Our riding-habits–you must see them, girls–and this
party, and Ethel and Mrs. Remington–”

“And flowers from John,” teased Alice.

“Well, I simply couldn’t stand anything more!” concluded Marjorie. “I’d
just die!”

“And here I was just about to tell you about the best one of all!”
interrupted her father. “But now I guess it wouldn’t be safe.”

“Oh, you simply must now!” urged Marjorie. “It isn’t fair to keep us
all in suspense!”

“But you said you couldn’t stand any more!”

“I could stand that one!” laughed Marjorie.

“Well, I’m going to let Mrs. Remington tell you this one,” he said.
“But wouldn’t it be better, perhaps, to have some dinner first?”

The girls acquiesced, and gave their attention to the inviting
fruit-cups before them. In the conversation that ensued the graduates,
who had been the recipients of all the attention for the past week,
were glad to retire to the background, to give Ethel Todd and Mrs.
Remington the center of the stage. They talked about college, and the
future of Pansy troop without its distinguished leaders. Almost every
possible subject was discussed except the one in which the girls were
most interested: namely, their captain’s plans for their vacation.

When they had finally finished their ice-cream, served in such
beautiful pansy-forms that they hated to eat them, and the candies and
nuts were being passed, Mr. Wilkinson called upon Mrs. Remington for
her announcement. Eight eager pairs of eyes turned hopefully towards
their captain, for somehow all the girls felt that in some way their
own fate was connected with the surprise Mr. Wilkinson had planned for
his daughter.

“Well, girls,” she began, as she looked from one to another of the
expectant faces about the table, “Mr. Wilkinson asked me what he
thought Marjorie would like to do best this summer, and I replied,
without the least hesitation: something with the Girl Scouts–and
particularly with the members of the senior patrol. Was I right,
Marjorie?” she asked, turning to the girl.

“Yes, yes,” cried Marjorie. “Go on, please!”

“So you see that naturally necessitated my working out a plan and
consulting the other girls’ parents. I thought of a great many places
to go, but I wanted something entirely different, and yet, at the same
time, some out-door vacation. So finally I hit upon a plan which I
hope will suit you all. At least, it suits your parents; I have their
consent for every girl here–including Ethel.”

“And it is–” cried two or three scouts at once.

“Something to do with horseback-riding!” ventured Lily, thinking of
her own and Marjorie’s latest graduating presents.

“Yes. You are all to spend July and August on a ranch in Wyoming!” said
Mrs. Remington.

“July _and_ August?” repeated Marjorie, jumping out of her seat, and
rushing toward her father’s chair. “Two whole months?”

“It isn’t too long, is it?” he asked.

“It’s heaven!” she cried, throwing her arms about his neck.

The candles were burning low now, so Mrs. Wilkinson suggested that the
party adjourn to the porch to enjoy the moonlight, while they discussed
the proposition to their hearts’ content. The girls asked innumerable
questions, many of which, however, Mrs. Remington could only partially
answer.

“I’m sorry, girls, that I shall not be able to go with you,” she said,
“but I couldn’t possibly leave home that long. But you will get along
all right. The ranch is almost like a private place, and Mrs. Hilton,
the proprietor’s wife, will act as chaperone. And you only need one in
name.”

“And when do we start?” asked Lily.

“The very first day of July,” replied the captain.

The girls fell to discussing what clothing they should take, and
Mrs. Remington told them, to their surprise, that they would live
almost entirely in riding breeches. Warm, sensible clothing, and
undergarments that could be easily laundered, were necessities; and
perhaps a silk dress to wear on the trains. But they would find no use
for fancy summer costumes, she said.

“Suppose all our Commencement dresses are out of style when we get
home!” wailed Lily. “Won’t it be a shame!”

“Well, you can still go to Newport, if you prefer!” teased Mr.
Wilkinson; but Lily was horrified at the thought.

“But what I like best,” said Marjorie, as the girls made a move to
go, “is the fact that we’ll be together for two months–the longest
vacation we have ever had!”

“Do you suppose you can stand it all that time away from John Hadley?”
asked Mae, in a low voice, at her side. “That will be too far for him
to visit you, you know.”

Marjorie frowned; the remark recalled her promise to John that very
morning to go to a place where he and his mother might join her. A wave
of regret spread over her; she hated to go back on her promise, but of
course it was too late to change the plans now, even if she had wanted
to. Anyone would be foolish to give up a whole summer for the sake of a
two weeks’ vacation.

“Oh, I guess we’ll meet lots of Western boys,” she answered,
carelessly. “I don’t expect to pine away.”

Mr. Wilkinson accompanied the girls back to the school, and although it
was nearly half past ten, Marjorie and Lily insisted that he wait down
stairs while they put on their riding-habits and returned, proudly, to
show themselves to him. Then they made the round of the scouts.

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