For days after John Hadley had seen Marjorie’s brother at the dance, he
could think of little else. Marjorie would have heard about it by now
he reasoned, and he wondered what she would think.
It was not that he considered himself bound in any way to Marjorie;
he certainly was not in a position to consider such a thing, even if
the girl herself were willing; but he hated to have her hear through a
third person that he had been spending an evening with another girl,
after their little misunderstanding. She had always known that he was
not the sort of man to go about much with a number of girls, for the
simple reason that he hated to waste time with persons for whom he did
not sincerely care. With the exception of Marjorie Wilkinson, he seldom
paid any attention to the members of the opposite sex, in order that he
might give all the more time to his work.
In the last year John Hadley had made rapid progress. Entering the
company as a “man of all jobs,” he had steadily climbed his way up,
until now, as an expert on radio outfits, he was often sent to inspect
or install some of the larger, more expensive ones. The expansion of
the plant, due to the increased demand for this new modern invention,
had created a splendid opportunity for the ambitious young man to
rise; and he had been one of the first among the company’s employes to
benefit by it.
Although he regretted the circumstances under which he had seen Jack
Wilkinson, he did not regret the growing friendship between himself
and Dorothy Snyder. When he visited his mother on the following
week-end, and found the girl happily going about her work, she seemed
more friendly than before, more like a normal human-being. There was
something very appealing about her blue eyes, with the dark shadows
under them, and her wistful way of keeping the conversation away
from herself. Her voice, her manner, her very walk, proclaimed her
well-bred; her gratitude to his mother was pleasant to see. John
watched her as she moved about the house or sat in the living room with
her fancy-work, so unobtrusive in her quiet way; and he wished that he
might do something to help her, to take her out of her loneliness, just
as his mother had helped her.
Dorothy would be busy all of Saturday afternoon and evening; but John
succeeded in engaging her time for himself on Sunday afternoon, and
he went to bed pleased with the turn affairs had taken. If the girl
did not actually like him, at least she did not dislike him, and the
prospect of her companionship at the end of each week was something to
look forward to.
Soon after dinner the next day the couple set out for the beach. The
sky was a deep blue, and there was a delightful sea-breeze; the water
was just rough enough to be pretty. The quiet of the Sunday afternoon,
interrupted only by the monotonous breaking of the waves near the
shore, seemed very restful to Dorothy. She sighed peacefully.
John had resolved, if possible, to make the girl talk about herself.
It would not only be interesting, but it would serve to keep his own
thoughts away from Marjorie. But he realized that he must be very
“And do you like your work, Miss Snyder?” he asked, casually.
“Yes–and no,” she replied, thoughtfully. “I want to earn some money to
pay my debts, but I shall be dreadfully sorry to leave your mother.”
John started; he had not considered this possibility. He had taken it
for granted that the girl would remain with his mother as long as she
had the cottage.
“Leave mother?” he repeated. “But why should you?”
“Why, I don’t know. I never thought of anything else.”
“But you’re such company for her!” objected the young man. “And you
needn’t be under any obligations to her–you can pay board, if you
“Yes, of course. But she might need the room–”
“Nonsense!” interrupted John. “Nobody wants an attic room! Mother
couldn’t offer it to anybody her own age, and she never has young
guests. And you probably couldn’t get another so cheaply anywhere else.”
“Yes, that’s true. But do you suppose she wants me?”
“Of course she does! And so do I!” he added, with sincerity.
Dorothy gave a little gasp, and looked sideways at her companion. Then,
dropping her eyes, she remarked, quietly,
“Then I can’t stay.”
“You can’t stay–because we want you!” John repeated, in astonishment.
“No! I mustn’t have young men friends. I’m–I’m not free!”
“You mean you’re–engaged–or–married?”
“No, not that!” she cried, hastily. “I–I–” her eyes filled with
tears–“I can’t explain, but I’m–well–I’m just not free, that’s all!”
John feared a return of her nervousness, and hated himself for making
her cry. He tried to be reassuring.
“My dear girl,” he said, in an almost fatherly fashion, “for that
matter, I’m not really free myself. I’ve cared for one girl ever since
I was in high school, and I don’t believe I’ll ever care in that way
for anybody else. She doesn’t seem to think much of me; but that
doesn’t matter–my feelings won’t change. So couldn’t you just sort of
adopt me as a big brother, and tell me your troubles when you want to?
I promise not to bother you one bit!”
Dorothy looked up gratefully, and put her hand on John’s arm. She was
thankful to be away from the dangerous topic of herself, and glad of
the chance to accept this friendship so frankly offered.
“Oh, I do thank you!” she said. “And it will mean so much to be able to
go on living with your mother. But will you promise not to talk about
my affairs to anybody? I’m just a girl your mother is helping!”
“Why, certainly,” replied John. “Just as you wish.” Nevertheless he was
mystified by her desire to hide from the world.
They walked along silently for awhile; then John talked of indifferent
things until Dorothy seemed quite in control of herself again. At last
“Can’t you tell me more about this girl? I’m so interested.”
“Why, yes, of course,” replied the young man. “Only I’d rather not tell
you her name.”
“Naturally,” agreed Dorothy.
It was an interesting subject to John, and he spoke glowingly of the
girl’s courage, her sincerity, her integrity. He told of her career
as a Girl Scout, of the prizes and merit-badges she had won, of
her distinction in being selected patrol leader of the troop which
represented the United States scouts at the World Conference in Canada.
Her record would not be complete, he thought, if he did not mention
some of the difficulties and trials she had encountered during her
boarding school life, and so he told Dorothy about Ruth Henry, and her
mean actions against Marjorie; and as he related these incidents, he
noticed that his companion listened with blazing eyes. Probably the
story would do her good; in her interest in the other girl, she could
forget her own troubles for a time.
“Why, she’s wonderful!” she cried, admiringly, when John had finished.
“And she’s a Girl Scout officer now?”
“Yes, a Girl Scout lieutenant!” said John, proudly.
Dorothy seemed to be lost in thought.
“I used to know some Girl Scouts,” she said, more as if she were
talking to herself than to her companion, “but I can’t remember their
names now. If they come to me, I’ll tell them to you, so you can ask
your friend, when you write, whether she knows them.”
“But I never write to her,” said John, softly.
“Why not?” asked Dorothy, in amazement.
“Well, she promised to spend part of her vacation at some resort with
mother and me, and she suddenly changed her mind, left me out of the
question, and went out on a ranch instead. But it wasn’t just that–I
didn’t blame her a bit for liking that better–only she didn’t take the
trouble to explain, even after her plans were made. She simply waited
for me to find out through somebody else–and then she practically
laughed at my chagrin!”
“Oh, no!” protested Dorothy. “You misunderstood her! If she’s the kind
of girl you’ve been telling me about, she couldn’t do that. She was
waiting for a special opportunity to tell you all about it.”
“I wonder!” mused John. “I wish I believed that. But she has never
“Naturally–if you haven’t! Girls don’t write first.”
John was silent for a moment; that aspect of the situation had never
occurred to him.
“Perhaps you’re right,” he admitted, finally. “Do you think I ought to
“I do!” replied the girl emphatically, so absorbed in her thought that
she had not noticed his use of her first name.
“Then I will!” he said.
That night he wrote a friendly, but impersonal letter to Marjorie,
ignoring their silence. But in spite of the fact that he knew Jack had
told about the dance, he never mentioned Dorothy Snyder’s name, or
alluded to her in any way.
The days that followed were packed full of interesting activities. Long
rides over the mountains, swimming, camp fires and restful evenings in
the big cabin with the other members of the ranch family. The girls
felt perfectly at home; even Daisy put aside her worries and entered
into the full enjoyment like the rest.
After the day of the canoe picnic, Kirk Smith had not paid the
slightest attention to Marjorie, or in fact to any of the girls, in
spite of Irene Judson’s repeated efforts to draw his interest to
herself. He was quiet, almost sullen, again, and rarely spoke unless he
was directly addressed. It seemed to be his greatest desire to be left
None of the scouts, however, paid much attention to him, except now and
then to wonder what sort of person he really was. Marjorie had so many
other things to think about that she was glad that he had not continued
to seek her company, as he had done for the canoe trip.
The arrival of the mail twice a week was always an occasion for
excitement among the scouts, as well as among the other members of the
party. Marjorie always was fortunate enough to receive two or three
letters; but thus far she had heard nothing from John Hadley, and she
had been away over two weeks now.
That afternoon’s mail brought her two letters, one from Griffith
Hunter, inviting her to a dance early in September, and the other from
Mrs. Remington, asking all about the scouts. What had they done thus
far? Did they wear their uniforms often? Had they kept to their regular
meeting-night? What new merit-badges would they be eligible for when
they came back?
Marjorie read these questions with an increasing sense of shame. How
could she write to the captain and tell her that the scouts had done
nothing, had not even had one meeting since their arrival? The only
time they had attempted anything was the occasion on the train, when
Walter Brooks had tried to play a joke on them. And what a farce that
Thinking over it all, Marjorie was overcome with remorse when she
realized that the troop had been more inactive during these two weeks
since she had been lieutenant, than it had ever been before. She
could not write this to Mrs. Remington; no, she must plan and act
immediately. So she decided to stay home from the ride that afternoon
to prepare for a meeting. While the girls were dressing she told them
of her intention.
“Please set aside Friday evening for scouts,” she said, as she dived
into the bottom of her trunk for her scout book. “And I want the whole
“But what can we do with a whole evening?” asked Mae, who hated to
sacrifice bridge, even for one time.
“I’m not sure–but something!” replied Marjorie. “I can tell you better
after this afternoon. Two hours didn’t used to seem too long for you!”
“Ah, but there was no Tom Melville then!” teased Alice.
“Marj,” said Mae, “you ought to get a bad crush on some man. It would
make you more human!”
“How about John Hadley?” suggested Doris.
“Oh, that’s too much on his side,” returned Mae. “Marj doesn’t even
take the trouble to answer his letters.”
“I never get any to answer!” muttered Marjorie.
“Probably because you already owe him one,” laughed Lily. “Well, Marj,
we’ll give up our game of bridge for once, since you insist!”
“Once!” repeated Marjorie. “We’re going to have a scout meeting every
single week, and we’re going to do some definite work–”
“I thought our good times couldn’t last long!” sighed Alice. “But look
out Marj, or you’ll get to resemble that lieutenant Walter Brooks and
Lily prepared for our benefit!”
Marjorie laughed good-naturedly.
“Girls, you know I won’t force you to do anything you don’t want to,”
she assured them. “But we must have our meeting tomorrow night–and
then we’ll put everything to a vote. Be sure to come at seven-thirty
sharp–right here in our cabin.”
“We’ll all be there!” said Doris.
Although the girls pretended not to be enthusiastic about their
meeting, there was not one of them who did not really want it. The Girl
Scout troop had grown to be a part of their lives, and they dreaded
the time when they would have to give it up. So, without a single
exception, they all appeared on time the following evening.
Marjorie opened the meeting with the usual formality. Alice was elected
secretary, and the business was conducted in an orderly manner.
“I have a number of plans to talk over this evening,” said Marjorie,
“and I want your opinions and suggestions.
“First of all, I would like our troop to do something for the
ranch–something to make the people realize that the Girl Scouts are
a worth-while body. I wish it could be something permanent, so that
everybody who comes here every year might benefit by it!”
Most of the girls approved the idea, but Ethel shook her head
“I’m sorry not to fall in with your plans,” she said, “but I am afraid
there isn’t much that a group of girls can do around a ranch. Mr.
Hilton and the help would probably resent it–and besides, we don’t
know enough about anything. I–really–I hate to say it, Marj,–but I’m
afraid they would think it was presumptuous.”
Marjorie was too sensible to be hurt at Ethel’s words; instead, she
made an effort to see the proposition from the other angle.
“Yes, I agree with you, Ethel. I had thought we might dam the stream in
the meadow for the cows, but, as you say, Mr. Hilton probably wouldn’t
want it done, or he would have done it before. He isn’t the kind of man
to let things slide. But don’t you suppose there is something, girls,
that we could do? Please think hard.”
“I know what you mean, Marj,” said Florence, after a moment’s silence.
“But why not do something for the other guests–?”
“Alice!” said Marjorie, reprovingly. “Do let Flos finish. I think she
has the right idea.”
“Well,” continued Florence, “I’m not sure that I have much of any idea.
But I thought if we could buy a victrola, or a pool table, or fix the
tennis court, or–”
“Yes! Yes!” exclaimed two or three of the girls. “That’s the idea!”
“How about a radio!” suggested Marjorie, happily.
“Just the thing!” cried Ethel.
“But how could we ever install a radio way out here?” inquired Alice.
“They would never send a man so far, and none of us could possibly do
“Maybe Marj could,” suggested Lily. “Didn’t you help Jack a lot with
“Yes, but that was only a very small one,” replied Marjorie. “No, I
really don’t know much about it. But don’t you think there is somebody
among all the boys and men on the ranch whom we might let into the
secret, and who could help us?”
“Possibly,” said Ethel. “We could sort of hint around till we found
They fell to discussing the amount they wanted to pay for the
instrument, and the best place from which to order it. No one, however,
seemed to know much about it except Marjorie; so Florence finally
put an end to the discussion by moving that their lieutenant be made
chairman of a committee to look into the matter.
“Now, another thing that has occurred to me,” said Marjorie. “I know
there isn’t much chance around the ranch to do the daily good-turn,
but I wish you would all keep it in mind. That really isn’t child’s
play, you know, but a principle we ought to practice all our lives. You
know how seriously Mrs. Remington always regarded it–well, I think we
should think just as much about it as if she were with us to remind us
of it. And, along with this same idea is the troop good-turn. Wouldn’t
it be great if the whole patrol could do something like the sort of
thing we did for Frieda Hammer? Of course I don’t know what, but let’s
keep our eyes open.”
“You mean the ‘knights of old’ idea,–helping people in distress, don’t
you, Marj?” asked Alice, a trifle teasingly.
Marjorie laughed and admitted that this, roughly, was her thought.
Then, reaching for her scout handbook, she turned the pages until she
found the place she had marked, and began to talk about actual scout
“You know Mrs. Remington expects us to have something definite to show
her along this line when the summer is over, and we don’t want to
disappoint her. So I have worked out two plans for this, and I want to
hear what you think of them.
“First, do you suppose it would be possible for you six girls who
haven’t won the Golden Eaglet to prepare for the badges you still lack
before you return in the Fall, so that you could pass the examinations
then? Ethel and I could help you, and maybe some of the men on the
ranch are specialists along certain lines.”
“We’ll be begging favors of Kirk Smith yet!” remarked Alice.
“You might do worse!” said Daisy, quietly.
“Well–we needn’t beg anybody,” replied Marjorie. “But if we asked
them, I imagine some people, like Bob or Pop Welsh, would be only too
tickled to help. But seriously, what do you think of it, girls?”
“I think the idea is splendid, Marjorie,” said Florence. “Only last
night I was deciding that we seniors ought to make it our object to
become Golden Eaglet scouts before we graduate from Miss Allen’s, and
I told Alice about it. We intended to start in the Fall, when we got
back. But this would be better yet.”
Several other girls expressed their approbation of the plan, and
Marjorie began to feel very happy. How pleasant it was to have the
whole-hearted co-operation of the patrol, without any dissenting voice
of envy, such as Ruth Henry had always brought.
“Then, there’s one more thing,” she concluded, “according to our
present expectations, all the scouts here except two will be out of
Pansy troop and active scout membership in the Fall. Could we not,
therefore, take some time every Friday evening to train ourselves
a little bit for leadership, so that we can start new troops among
younger girls, when we get back East? I wrote for some books, and
really, I have the most wonderful instructions here from headquarters.
They’re simply fascinating! But I don’t want to make anybody take
the course who doesn’t want to; so I thought we could have our scout
meeting first, from seven to eight o’clock and then have the class
afterward, for everyone who wants to stay. So–think it over!”
Naturally, the girls all felt anxious to do as Marjorie suggested, and
all signed the enrollment paper to be returned to headquarters.
“Maybe Irene and Maud would like to take it too,” suggested Alice.
“Not they!” returned Ethel. “They’re too glad of a chance to get rid of
us, so they can have the boys to themselves!”
Marjorie laughed; Ethel always saw through people, fearlessly pointing
out their weaknesses. Still she was equally fair in crediting them with
“Has anybody else anything to bring up?” asked Marjorie, consulting her
“No, I move we adjourn!” said Lily, evidently in haste to get away.
“Why, Lil!” remarked Alice, looking at her suspiciously, “it certainly
sounds as if you had a date!”
“I have!” replied the other mysteriously.
“Then I move we don’t adjourn!” said Alice, maliciously. “It’s only
half-past eight–let’s stay and study scout work!”
“There’s a motion on the floor, Miss Endicott!” said Lily, haughtily.
“Yours is not in order!”
“And for that matter,” put in Marjorie, “Alice has a date too, only she
doesn’t know it.”
“I have? What?”
“Well, Lily and I have a little surprise for you all. We wrote home for
some food, and it came; so we’ve invited all the dudes to a party in
the dining-room. Mr. and Mrs. Hilton are there already, and something
tells me the rest of the people suspect something.”
The scouts waited for no formal adjournment now, but one and all jumped
up, embracing Marjorie and Lily as they passed in their rush for the
dining-room. The news had travelled already, and the guests were there
before their hostesses.
Mrs. Hilton had arranged the refreshments on the table while the
scouts were at their meeting. The prospect of eating those wonderful
apples and oranges that formed such an attractive center-piece of
tasting the daintiest bon-bons and chocolates, and having plenty of
more substantial things like crackers and cheese and olives, seemed
thrilling to these people to whom fresh fruit and candies were such
The young people grouped themselves about the table and began to pass
the food. It seemed as if everything that could possibly be sent
two-thirds of the way across the continent had been thought of and
included. Figs, fruit-cake, nuts, pickles, olives, raisins, crackers
of all kinds–so much that there would be no need for breakfast the
“I hope,” remarked Mrs. Hilton apprehensively, “that you girls didn’t
write home and say that you were being starved here, did you?”
“Oh no!” replied Marjorie, with assurance. “We just said we wanted a
“And you certainly got it!” laughed Mr. Hilton.
“Does anybody feel like dancing?” asked Bob, after almost everyone had
“Yes–always!” answered Doris, without the slightest hesitation.
The party moved into the front room now, and soon everyone was stepping
to the music the old talking-machine was playing. Marjorie looked about
the room and saw that everybody was taking part in the gaiety; even
Kirk Smith, who was dancing with Daisy, seemed to be enjoying himself.
The party lasted until nearly eleven o’clock, when Lily suggested that
they wind it up with the latest scout song. Gathering into a close
circle, the eight girls put their heads together and sang:
“There are Girl Scouts in the cities,
There are Girl Scouts East and West;
But of all the scouts in khaki,
Hilton Ranch Scouts are _The Best!_”
Marjorie went to bed that night happy over the success of the troop
meeting and the party that had followed. Her first official duties as
lieutenant had been performed to her satisfaction.
In spite of all the excitement, it was good to be home again. It was
wonderful, thought Marjorie, and some of the others who went with her,
to get up early in the morning and help bring the horses in; to have
the free and easy companionship of these friendly people all day long;
to go on beautiful rides, and see the mountains in all their glory;
and, at the close of the day, to join in the games on the porch; or,
later, to go for a stroll in the moonlight.
It was only when the mail came in that Marjorie and Daisy felt a tinge
of unhappiness. Unconsciously, all the girls expected that in some way
the mystery about Daisy’s sister would be solved, and that the news of
it would come by letter. Unless, as Alice kept reminding them, they,
the Girl Scouts, should have a hand in unravelling it. If only they
might, Marjorie felt that it would be the crowning good turn to the
Marjorie felt disconcerted, too, that she had heard nothing from
John Hadley. No doubt it was her own fault; the young man had written
courteously to her mother after the week-end at the seashore, and
probably expected her to regard that as a letter to herself. She
admitted that she missed him, but she could not make up her mind to
When the first Sunday of the scouts’ visit arrived, Mr. Hilton
announced that there would be no riding; but instead the whole party
would go in boats or canoes up the modest little stream not far from
the ranch, and have dinner and supper out-doors.
“A canoe trip!” cried Marjorie, her mind turning immediately to the
memories of the scouts’ own canoe trip two years previous. “How
“Don’t you wish you had _The Scout_ here, Marj?” asked Lily, referring
to the first prize that had been awarded to Pansy troop, and which had
been won by Marjorie.
“Indeed I do!” replied the girl, heartily.
“But I’m sorry to have to tell you that it won’t be a canoe trip
for everybody,” said Mr. Hilton. “Unfortunately we have only five
small canoes, and the rest of the party will therefore have to go in
“Is everybody going?” asked Bob.
“Naturally,” replied Kirk, in a matter-of-fact tone.
“So you think you’re everybody!” remarked Alice, turning to the young
“Kirk’s right,” explained Bob. “Everybody else always goes to
everything, so if he decides to join the party, he knows everybody will
be there. But I say, Art, it’s pretty tough about ‘the rest’ going in
row-boats. I bet I know who the rest are!”
“Oh, it’s always punk to be the rancher’s son,” said Arthur,
carelessly. “You just have to lose out on everything, whether it’s a
matter of canoes, or pies, or girls–”
“Thank you!” interrupted Ethel. “Suppose we cancel that date for a walk
“Now Ethel!” pleaded Arthur. “My one stroke of luck–”
“Hush!” said Mr. Hilton. “We must begin to make arrangements for our
party. There are twenty-three of us, and places for ten in the canoes.
I’ll put some marks on papers, and everybody except our family can draw
to find out the name of their row-boat or canoe.”
Everyone seemed pleased with this idea except Marjorie, Alice and
Irene. Marjorie and Alice were each afraid that their lot might be cast
with Kirk Smith, and Irene was afraid that hers would not. As luck had
it, Marjorie drew the unpopular man. Irene, on the other hand, was
coupled with Clayton Jones, one of the Academy boys.
Marjorie frowned when the announcement was made, and Irene looked
tremendously disappointed. But neither girl said anything; each started
for her own cabin.
“Poor Marj!” sympathized Alice, as she took the girl’s arm; “I’m glad
I’m not in your boots!”
“It is hard luck,” said Marjorie. “But then, somebody had to draw him.
And I guess any of the girls would have been peeved.”
“Don’t forget Irene Judson!” said Alice. “She would probably have been
tickled to death.”
The idea brought Marjorie an inspiration: why should she not exchange
places with Irene, if it could be managed, and if the girl were
willing? She did not remember with whom the other girl was coupled, but
she knew she would prefer anyone else on the ranch to Kirk.
Accordingly she watched for her opportunity, and slipped over to
Irene’s cabin. Luckily she found the girl alone, but in low spirits.
She was sitting on her cot, looking most dejected, and making no
attempt to dress. She raised her head as Marjorie entered, wondering
resentfully what had brought her there. But before her visitor had a
chance to state her errand, she gave vent to her own feelings.
“You certainly are lucky!” she exclaimed, petulantly. “I don’t think
it’s fair! But if you’re mean enough to make a date with him to come
Although she was amazed at the girl’s words and manner, Marjorie was
delighted to learn so quickly that Irene would probably fall in with
her plans. She therefore hastened to put the proposition before her,
choosing to ignore the remark she had made.
“I came over, Irene,” she said, quietly, “to ask you whether you would
be willing to change partners with me, if it could be managed. I don’t
know whom you are going with, but–”
“One of those Academy babies!” interrupted the other girl. “Clayton
Jones! I don’t suppose you’d exactly enjoy his company.”
“I’d much prefer it to Kirk’s,” Marjorie assured her.
Irene sat up straight at these words, hardly able to believe that she
had heard correctly. It seemed incredible to her that any normal girl
could prefer the society of a boy like Clayton Jones to that of such a
distinguished-looking young man.
“Do you really mean it?” she cried. “You will actually swap?”
“I’d love to. Now–as to the method. Suppose I go down to the stream
early, and run off with Clayton. Then you’ll simply have to go with
Kirk because there won’t be any other place!”
“Wonderful!” exclaimed Irene. She jumped up impulsively. “Oh, Marj,
how can you be so generous?”
“But it isn’t generosity a bit! I’m just as well pleased as you are!”
“Well, I think it’s perfect–it will change my whole day for me.
Now–will you go and arrange it with Clayton?”
Marjorie turned about, and hurried to where the boys were still
standing. Drawing Clayton aside, she begged him to fall in with her
“But I don’t understand!” insisted the boy. “Girls always admire Kirk
“Well, I don’t!” said Marjorie, with conviction. “I can’t stand him,
and I’d love to get out of going with him. And Irene doesn’t mind.”
“But I bet Kirk will!” muttered the boy. “All right, I’m flattered.
I’ll be ready before ten.”
And so Marjorie found the excursion more delightful than she had
anticipated, with this pleasant companion. Clayton was a Boy Scout,
and he had spent several of his summers camping. It was surprising the
amount of knowledge he had of nature and her ways. They talked of many
things, delighted to discover that they had so much in common.
For the first mile of their trip, Marjorie kept turning around every
few minutes and looking back, fearful lest the party would catch her
and punish her–perhaps by a dipping–for running away from Kirk. But
none of the canoes appeared, and she hoped that they had forgotten what
partner she had drawn. And Kirk would never tell; he was probably too
indifferent to notice the change of canoe-mates.
But Marjorie was mistaken in this supposition. No sooner had the
Girl Scouts put in an appearance than Kirk began to ask everyone for
Marjorie. Irene watched his disturbance with annoyance, but she said
nothing. Instead, she began to look for Clayton.
“You’re sure Marjorie isn’t in her cabin?” Kirk asked Lily.
“No, she left quite early–it must have been nearly half an hour ago.”
“Oh, I saw her!” cried Bob, suddenly. “I saw a canoe go off about
twenty minutes ago, with a boy and a girl in it. Now that I think of
it, it must have been Marjorie and Clayton!”
“The scamp!” exclaimed Kirk, with more animation than usual. “She
evidently ran away from me.”
“You can’t blame her!” muttered Alice, to herself.
“No, I think there was something special Clayton wanted to show her
about handling a canoe,” said Lily, loyally coming to her chum’s
rescue. “I heard her talking to him last night.”
Irene shot Lily a grateful look, for which the latter could see no
reason. All the while she was edging up towards Kirk, in order to give
him the opportunity to ask her to go with him. The others were getting
into their boats; it would be too embarrassing if he did not ask her
“Well, Irene,” he said, to her immense relief, “we’re both deserted, so
we may as well patch it up together. What do you say?”
“Oh, thank you for coming to my rescue, Kirk,” she replied, gratefully.
“It’s so much worse for a girl to be left in the lurch than for a man.
But I’m afraid old ladies like me can’t expect to hold young men like
“But you’re no older than Marjorie!” protested Kirk.
“No, that’s true,” she admitted.
She stepped happily into the canoe, well pleased at the success of the
plan, and at the good-humored attitude of her companion. She resolved
to keep up his good spirits as long as possible. He seemed in a
“Tell me what you think of this Marjorie Wilkinson,” he began.
Irene did not care to talk about other girls, but she felt she would
have to satisfy him as best she could.
“Why, she seems lovely to me,” she replied. “She is a very athletic
girl–lieutenant of the scout troop, and all that–and she doesn’t
appear to care much about men. Last night she told me she would rather
go with any of the Academy boys than anybody else, because they knew
so much about nature!” Irene studied Kirk’s face, as she added her
final remark: “I really think it was she who arranged to run away with
Clayton. She seems to like him a lot!”
“She’s not showing bad taste at that,” remarked her companion. “I
wouldn’t be adverse to a little trip with the kid myself.”
“Clayton, you mean?”
“Not Marjorie? Are you–are you so awfully sorry you missed her
“Certainly not!” returned the young man, coolly. “She’s nothing to me!”
Irene felt relieved, but she was sorry not to evoke some warmer
expression of sentiment from her companion. She was sitting in the bow
of the boat, so she could not see him without turning around, and she
could not do that too often. So she hardly knew how to interpret his
last remark, or to know how much he was in earnest.
She tried other subjects, but Kirk made his answers so monosyllabic
that she finally abandoned all attempt at conversation, and gave
herself up to the enjoyment of the scenery, and of paddling. Kirk was
an experienced canoeist, and in spite of the fact that they were going
against the current, he made good headway. When they reached the picnic
spot, they found Marjorie and Clayton already there. They were seated
on the edge of the bank with their lines in the water. Two good sized
fish lay on the ground beside them.
“Marj can fish!” cried Clayton, triumphantly. He seemed proud to
exhibit her as his especial property.
“My brother taught me something about it, but I want to learn lots
more,” she explained.
Kirk threw himself upon the ground beside her, and watched her with
amusement. He, who was so indifferent to girls himself, was not used to
finding them indifferent to him.
“If you hadn’t run away from me,” he remarked, “I’d have been glad to
ask you to go fishing with me.”
Marjorie shot him a withering glance. He certainly seemed pleased with
“Clayton is perfectly willing to help me, and he says Pop Welsh, who
knows more about fishing than anybody else on the ranch, will be glad
to give me some instructions. So you see, Mr. Smith, I shall hardly
need your services!”
The rest of the party arrived, and soon everyone was busy with their
preparations for lunch. The boys made a fire, while Mrs. Hilton,
assisted by the girls, unpacked the food and spread it out on the
It was not until they were seated, and the meal in progress, that
the young people began to question Marjorie about her disappearance.
Clayton laughed, and Marjorie dismissed the matter with a shrug of the
shoulders. She had decided that in the presence of both Kirk and Irene
she would be absolutely non-committal.
“And are you going back the same way?” asked Lily.
“If Mr. Hilton will give us the permission,” replied Marjorie.
“But suppose I don’t agree!” put in Kirk.
Irene cast Marjorie an imploring look; surely she would not say
“I’ll do whatever the most people want,” she answered, sweetly.
“Then I demand my rights!” said Kirk, and Marjorie nodded in silence.
That afternoon the whole party went fishing, and returned not only with
enough for supper, but with a supply to take home for breakfast as
well. Mrs. Hilton was more than pleased with the results.
As they gathered around the fire again for supper, Alice suddenly
noticed that Marjorie was missing.
“And so is Clayton!” cried Kirk, jumping to his feet. “If they’ve made
“Which they have!” announced Bob, from the bank of the stream. “One
canoe is gone!”
“Then I’m going to follow them!” said Kirk, starting for the boats.
“Without your supper?” demanded Mrs. Hilton.
“Yes–may I have a piece of bread? But come, somebody must go with me,
on account of the number of places in the boats. Daisy, would you–”
“Yes, indeed!” cried the girl, jumping up immediately. “Something might
have happened to them, and we really ought to trace them before it gets
Mrs. Hilton thrust some bread and dried fruit into their hands, and
they were gone. The others turned their attention to supper.
“I do believe Kirk is crazy about Marjorie!” remarked Bob Hilton, when
the canoe was out of sight.
“No, I think it’s Daisy,” said his mother. “Marjorie has just got the
best of him, and he wants to conquer her.”
“Well, anyway,” concluded Tom Melville, “he takes more interest in
those two girls than in anything or anybody since he’s been out here.
And, by George, I’m glad to see it!”
Irene said nothing; she was too disappointed to think of anyone but
herself. But she no longer blamed Marjorie, or felt any resentment
against her; she only wished that she might adopt the same attitude
toward men that the other girl maintained. It seemed to be so entirely
When the party finally reached the ranch in the late dusk of the
evening, they found Kirk and Clayton on the porch. But the girls, they
said, had gone to bed.
“And did you catch Marjorie?” asked Alice, laughingly.
“No,” replied Kirk. “It takes someone as clever as Clayton to catch
her. Not that I really wanted to,” he yawned, “but I did enjoy the
These last words sent Irene to bed a happier girl.
Marjorie and Ethel were awake the next morning long before the other
scouts opened their eyes. Dressing cautiously in their riding breeches
and flannel shirts, they hurried out to meet the Hilton boys at the
“I have a horse for each of you,” said Bob, “as you see. But if you
don’t like them, you don’t need to keep them. There are certainly
plenty of horses.”
“I think they are fine!” remarked Ethel, stepping up to stroke them.
“Come, let’s mount them, Marj!”
“My, what long stirrups!” said Marjorie, as she got up on her horse.
“Yes, they all ride that way out here,” said Bob. “It’s more
comfortable than the English fashion–if you are riding a long
“Oh, we’ll have to learn to ride all over again, I guess,” said
Marjorie. “But please be sure to tell us any little pointers you can.
We want to ride like Westerners, don’t we, Ethel?”
“Indeed we do!” agreed the other girl.
“Well, I think you both ride remarkably well,” said Bob, who had been
watching them with admiration. “There are a lot of Eastern girls who
come out here who hardly have an idea how to sit on a horse.”
The day was clear and beautiful, and the girls breathed in the pure,
dry air with a feeling of exhilaration that they never experienced in
the East. How good it was to be on a horse again, away from every care
in the world! The blood tingled in their veins; it was joy just to be
alive! Marjorie decided that she could not have given this up for a
whole summer with John Hadley at a poky little seashore or mountain
As they rode along, the girls kept their eyes alert to see everything.
The elevation of the land, the clearness of the atmosphere, and the
absence of trees made it possible for them to get a good view of the
country for miles around. The vastness of it all impressed them, as
nothing had ever done in the East.
“We’ll ride out and encircle the farthest horse,” explained Bob, “and
gradually drive them towards the ranch.”
“I should think you’d lose your horses all the time,” remarked Ethel;
“when there are no fences to keep them in. They might so easily wander
to another ranch, and get mixed up with the horses there.”
“Yes, but all horses out here are branded,” explained Arthur; “so if
they do get lost, they usually are sent back. Of course we do have
horse-thieves here, just the same as anywhere else.”
“What I’d like to see,” said Marjorie, after a few minutes of silence,
“is some genuine horse-breaking. Just imagine making animals that have
never been used to anything like that, learn to obey the reins!”
“That is an interesting sight,” said Bob; “and you’ll surely see some
of it before you go home.”
The girls stayed out until after eight o’clock, enjoying the exercise
and the novelty of the adventure exceedingly. If it had not been for
their ever increasing hunger, they would willingly have kept on riding
When they entered the dining-room, they found the rest of the party
already seated, most of them half through their meal. The girls stood
upon no ceremony, but plunged immediately into the business of the
“Did you have a good time?” asked Alice, enviously. She wished that she
had had the moral courage to get up so early in the morning to go with
“Fine!” cried Marjorie, her eyes sparkling.
“But you haven’t heard the news yet!” exclaimed Florence. “We’re all
going to a Stampede!”
“Where? When?” demanded both girls in the same breath.
“We drive over to Crider–a distance of about forty miles–this
afternoon,” said Mr. Hilton, “and get our rooms at the hotel. The
Stampede begins there tomorrow, and lasts three days.”
“Oh, how thrilling!” cried Marjorie. “I’m so glad we’re going to see
“Is there anything on the program for this morning?” asked Florence,
rising from the table.
“Yes, a ride for anybody who wants to go, and a swim afterwards.”
Marjorie and Ethel, who felt a little stiff from their strenuous
exercise that morning, decided to remain at home, although all the rest
of the scouts wanted to go. Marjorie went into her cabin, and selected
some scout literature which she had received from headquarters, to take
over with her to the porch, where she would examine it at her leisure.
Ethel followed her with some writing materials, and both girls spent
their time quietly and profitably until the party returned.
“Come on now! Cut out the study!” cried Bob Hilton, riding right up to
the porch. “Time for a swim!”
“Is the water deep?” asked Alice, whose horse was just behind his.
“No, it really isn’t any wonderful swimming hole,” replied the young
man. “So don’t get your hopes up too high.”
“Well, just as long as it’s nice and cool,” said Florence. “This sun is
getting pretty hot.”
“Oh, it will cool you off, all right!” said Arthur, with a sly wink at
The girls found to their dismay that the water was much colder than
they had expected. Doris and Alice jumped in and out again in a flash,
but the others decided to brave it a little longer, and get warmed up
by the exercise of swimming. All five of the Academy boys, the Hiltons,
and the Melvilles were among the party; but Kirk Smith and the Judson
girls were absent.
“I thought you said Kirk Smith liked swimming,” remarked Marjorie to
Bob Hilton, after she began to feel a little more comfortable. “Why
isn’t he in?”
“Oh, he goes in every day, but never with the crowd. He prefers his own
“Well, I’m sure nobody’s grieving,” replied the girl. “Come, let’s
start a game, Bob. We’ve got to do something to keep warm.”
But none of the girls wanted to stay long, and in a few minutes they
were all on their way back to their cabins.
“That’s my first out-door bath this summer,” announced Doris, “and my
last!” She shivered, and drew her poncho about her shoulders. “I don’t
want to be as cold as that again!”
“Oh, you’ll go in again!” laughed Bob. “We always force the girls to go
in once in a while. If they refuse, we carry ’em in!”
“Oh, but you surely wouldn’t be so cruel to me!” pleaded Doris, in a
tone so serious that Bob burst out laughing.
“And often when you’re riding, the horse has to go through pretty deep
water,” he added, in the effort to tease her still further. “Of course
you can tuck your feet up under you, but still you have to get wet!”
“I see there is no help for me!” sighed the girl.
“By the way,” asked Marjorie, “what time do we start this afternoon?”
“Right after dinner!” replied the young man.
The cars were ready at two o’clock, and the whole party got in.
Marjorie was surprised to see that Kirk was going; she thought he would
not care to accompany the crowd, since he was so exclusive. To her
amazement, she saw him making for the car in which she and Lily and
Daisy were already seated, with Bob Hilton at the wheel. But not caring
for his society, she hastily called to Alice to come occupy the vacant
The long ride was interesting, if it was dangerous. The cars wound
around narrow roads, up steep, rocky inclines, and beside precipices
which made the girls giddy to contemplate. No one talked much, for the
drivers were completely absorbed in their tasks, and the rest of the
party were too much thrilled with the scenery to think of ordinary
conversation. It was six o’clock when they finally drove into Crider,
and saw everywhere the big posters announcing the Stampede.
“This is quite a large place, isn’t it?” observed Marjorie, surprised
at the number of houses in the streets through which they passed.
“And those stores look rather prosperous,” added Alice. “Perhaps we
can come over here before we go home and buy some presents for our
They drove up to the hotel, and Mr. Hilton gathered the party about him
for directions. He and most of the boys were to sleep in tents, but
Mrs. Hilton and the girls, he decided, had better occupy rooms in the
“Leave your things as soon as possible,” he said, “and come down to the
dining-room. We don’t want to miss any of the fun.”
“What sort of fun?” asked Doris, apprehensively. But, as if for an
answer, before Mr. Hilton had time to reply, three loud shots were
“Oh, shooting and riding, and lots of excitement,” replied the man,
carelessly. “Now do hurry, girls. Be back inside of five minutes.”
The girls ran off as he directed. They were to have two large rooms,
each equipped with two double beds, and with a communicating door
“Well, some people may like it,” said Doris, nervously, as she took off
her hat and arranged her hair-net, “but I wouldn’t want to live in the
“Then you had better not fall in love with any man out here,”
“Yes,” added Alice, “you must not allow yourself to be so crazy about
Kirk, Doris. He–”
“I–crazy about _Kirk Smith!_” repeated Doris, in a puzzled tone. Then,
catching sight of the gleam in Alice’s eye, she joined in the general
laughter at the absurdity of the idea.
“He is hopeless,” said Lily. “Funny what Irene sees in him!”
“Yes, none of us feel much love for him,” put in Florence.
“Girls, I don’t think he’s so awful,” said Daisy. “At least, if you
leave him alone. He’s always been very courteous to me.”
“Oh, you like everybody!” remarked Doris, putting her arm through
Daisy’s. “Come, girls, that’s enough prinking. Let’s go down before
they fire off any more pistols.”
But hardly were they seated at their tables with the rest of the party,
when they received a greater surprise than before. Right through the
hall doorway, and down the center aisle of the dining-room, a cowboy
came riding on his horse, past their very table! And no sooner had he
gone than another, and then a third, followed. Doris said that she
never had time to draw her breath between.
“Oh!” she gasped, when there was quiet again, “are we to expect this at
all our meals–just like we have orchestras in the East?”
“No, they probably won’t do it again,” replied Bob. “It would be
tame the second time. But I must admit that you are getting a good
initiation into our life.”
Although the boys wanted to go out and see the town that night, the
girls all felt it would be nicer to stay at the hotel. But they were
warned that it would be no use to go to bed early; they might expect
pistol shots any time until midnight. And when they did finally turn
in, a little before twelve, they soon heard a cowboy ride about the
lower floor, firing off blanks at each door.
All this, however, was tame when compared with the Stampede itself.
None of the girls had ever seen a travelling Wild West show, so they
had no conception of what was about to take place. The town of Crider
had expended every effort to make the event a memorable one; and
among the many spectators, at least not one of the Girl Scouts was
likely to forget what she saw that day. The streets were thronged with
people and the scene of the festivities was already crowded when the
girls arrived. Through the efforts of Mr. Hilton they were fortunate
in securing places from which they could command a view of the entire
arena; and each scout–even Doris–had the determined air of intending
not to miss a thing. While waiting for the fun to begin, they watched
with interest the ever-increasing crowd of spectators, a happy,
care-free crowd, over which the spirit of holiday-making seemed to
The show started by all the participants riding about the big arena in
a procession. They were mostly cowboys, ranchers, and cavalrymen of
the United States Army; but there were also a number of real Indians
who were there to take a special part in the performance. After they
had all passed in review, heartily applauded by the spectators, they
retired; and the especially prepared events took place, reviewing the
early history and the making of the West. A group on horse-back and in
covered wagons representing the early pioneers crossing the plains,
appeared; and one of the many dangers which were frequently encountered
on such journeys was graphically illustrated by an attack from Indians,
hideously painted, who came suddenly upon them uttering blood-curdling
war-whoops, and who rode wildly in a circle firing upon the travellers.
And just as the deadly circle was closing in, and the whites were
getting the worst of the fight, the crisp notes of a bugle sounding
“Charge” were heard in the distance, and a troop of United States
cavalrymen dashed gallantly to the rescue and drove off the Redskins.
Among other scenes there was given also the life of Pony Express
Rider, that courageous servant of the government who, before the days
of trains, delivered the mails on horseback, riding at top speed from
station to station, stopping only long enough to change to a fresh
horse, his path beset by all kinds of dangers from Indians and outlaws.
Then there were all sorts of contests in riding, shooting, roping,
and horse-racing, for which prizes were offered. With the prospect of
so much riding before them, it was natural for the girls to display a
greater interest in the feats of horsemanship which they witnessed,
than in anything else. And they never would have believed such riding
possible had they not seen it with their own eyes. The cavalrymen
gave an exhibition of what is known as the monkey-drill, or trick
riding, which, as one of the boys afterwards said, was better than a
circus. They ran beside their horses, and, with a leap, mounted without
touching the stirrups; dismounted, still holding to the rein with one
hand, and the saddle with the other, vaulted clear over the horses to
the other side, ran a short distance, and leaped to the saddle again.
Clinging to the sides of their mounts, they even crawled beneath
their necks while at a gallop, without ever touching the ground, and
scrambled up the other side and into the saddle again. One thrilling
feature was when the men stood upon their horses’ backs; next upon two
horses, with a foot upon each; then a third horse was placed between
the two; and finally when another was added, and the rider galloped
them around the arena four abreast, the spectators went wild with
excitement, and thundered their applause.
At the end, after a wild steer was led forth, saddled, and ridden for
the amusement of everybody, Marjorie had an opportunity to gratify her
desire to see real bronco-busting, or the riding of horses which had
never been broken. This was not done by the gradual method followed in
breaking highly-bred animals; the broncos were simply roped, saddled
and mounted. Of course, to make the contest more exciting, the most
vicious horses procurable had been obtained; and many would not submit
to being saddled until they were thrown and blindfolded. Then the
animal, when he felt a man upon his back for the first time, used every
ruse in his repertoire to throw him. The buck-jumpers, with their
heads between their fore-legs, their backs arched, sprung straight into
the air and came down again with their legs as rigid as iron bars,
striking the ground with such force that many of the riders–men who
had practically lived in the saddle–were sometimes shot like rockets
into the air, to land sprawling upon the ground. Even wilder than these
were the “weavers,” or horses which bucked with a peculiar writhing
motion, the forelegs at an angle to one side and the hind-legs to the
other side, and alternating them so quickly that unless the rider
were properly relaxed above the hips, he was in danger of having his
back-bone snapped by such quick, snake-like contortions. Only those of
the spectators who had ridden could fully appreciate how difficult it
was for the rider to keep his seat.
For some time Marjorie had been watching the business-like manner of a
tall, black-haired young man with very long legs, who sat as limp as
a rag in the saddle and appeared able to ride anything. Though hot,
flushed, and covered with dust from his exertions, his boyish face
looked familiar to the girl, and she turned to inquire about him of Mr.
Hilton, who had also been watching him intently.
“You’ve picked the prize-winner this time, Marjorie,” replied the
man. “Of course you remember him; he is Jonnie Owens, a professional
horse-breaker who works on my ranch. ‘Fly-paper Jonnie’ the boys call
“Oh, I’ve heard Bob speak of Flypaper, and I didn’t know what he
meant,” laughed Marjorie. “But why the name?”
“Because he can stick on any cayuse that ever drew a breath,” answered
Mr. Hilton, proudly. “Never saw anything that boy couldn’t ride; so I’m
betting on him today.”
And it certainly looked as though the rancher stood a good chance of
winning his bet. Horses were conquered and riders were thrown until,
by the process of elimination, there remained to fight it out between
them Jonnie Owens and a vicious buckskin horse, with wicked, blood-shot
eyes, who had thrown every man who attempted to ride him.
And fight they did! It was now a question of whether the horse or the
man should be the winner of the contest. From the moment that the man
touched the saddle, that horse reared, plunged, kicked, and bucked in
every way he knew; and finding that nothing he could do would unseat
the rider, he even tried rolling over upon him. But Jonnie leaped
in time, and avoiding the flying hoofs, was in the saddle again the
instant the horse regained his feet.
Meanwhile, the audience watched in breathless excitement, or else
cheered madly, depending on the way they were affected. Marjorie
was among the breathless ones, expecting every moment to see the man
thrown. Once, for a brief instant, it did look as though the horse had
actually won; for the rider was seen to leave his back; but the next
moment, with a gasp of amazement, the spectators were aware that the
cinch had broken, and Jonnie was sailing through the air, still seated
firmly in the saddle. Badly shaken, but undaunted, the man called for
another saddle, and the fight was resumed. But, true to his nickname,
Jonnie continued to stick like fly-paper in the saddle, until even
the horse began to realize that here at last was a rider whom it was
beyond his power to throw. Fagged, breathing hard, he came to a stand
with wide-spread, trembling legs. While the crowd was cheering madly,
“Fly-paper” put the spurs to him, and went tearing around the arena,
“Oh!” sighed Marjorie; “I wish I could ride like that!”
Although John Hadley had resolutely put his own feelings aside, and
outwardly was as light-hearted as the rest on the week-end party, he
felt far from cheerful. It was not that he was foolish enough to resent
Marjorie’s change of plans, for after all that had been accidental on
her part. He and she had planned nothing definite, and it was only
natural that her father should have the final decision. The latter had
not even known of their little vacation project; probably if he had, he
would hardly have considered it of sufficient consequence to change his
larger plans for his daughter’s entire summer.
But John felt wretched because Marjorie had not displayed the slightest
regret at giving up their vacation. The prospect, which had filled
all his dreams for the past month, meant nothing to her; she could
relinquish it as easily as she might cancel one theatre engagement for
another. John came suddenly face to face with the fact that Marjorie
did not care in the least for him in the way in which he cared for her.
He went over some of his past experiences with her, recalling bitterly
the fact that her pleasure had not been because of his presence, but
rather for some more practical reason. She had seemed to enjoy the
dance at Princeton two years ago; but her joy was nothing in comparison
with that which she displayed when she found her friend, Frieda
Hammer. Then, too, at camp the preceding summer, she was wild with
delight at his visit; but was it not more because of the present–the
wireless–which he had taken to her, than for himself?
John knew that Marjorie had invited Griffith Hunter to the senior
dance. Griffith Hunter, a college man of wealth and position, with
everything that a young girl might wish to find in her future husband!
What a contrast to himself!
He was working in Philadelphia now, and spending the week-ends with
his mother at Cape May. She was not well enough to be in the hot city
during the summer, so he had obtained a comfortable little cottage
where she could keep house and entertain her old friends modestly.
After the week-end at Atlantic City with the Wilkinsons, the days
seemed interminable to John. Each evening he would walk home from
work, through an open square, to his cheap boarding house; for he was
living very frugally this summer, in order that his mother might have
every comfort she needed. It was July now, and the evenings were hot
and stifling; rejected figures sprawled on the square benches, fanning
themselves with newspapers, and mopping their brows now and again with
their handkerchiefs. Only the children seemed to possess any energy.
A great longing seized the young man for the rest and coolness of the
seashore. He was thankful it was Thursday; he would have only one more
day to wait.
Cheered by this prospect, he hastened his steps to his house. When
he reached the hall-way, he looked eagerly for mail. Yes, there was
a letter for him–but not from Marjorie! It was in his mother’s
Once in his own room, he sat down on his bed to read it. But he did not
find the news pleasing; his mother was asking him not to come down over
“I am taking care of a sick girl, whom I found one day on the beach,
and have given her your room,” she wrote. “She has been delirious, and
is very nervous now, so that I think it would be better for her not to
see anyone this week.
“She seems to be a lovely girl–I like her immensely. She is eager to
go to work immediately, but I want her to get well first.
“So I should rather you did not come down until next week, much as I
should like to see you–”
John felt a wild surge of disappointment rush over him. What business
had this stranger to come in and take his place–keeping him in the
hot city, away from his mother! Then he laughed at himself–why he was
as jealous as a school girl! How absurd it was to resent his mother’s
helping a sick, friendless girl! He began to be glad to be able to do
his part, to help her by sacrificing his own week-end.
But the time dragged on heavily, and he longed for his mother’s next
letter which would tell him whether or not he might pay his accustomed
visit on Friday. It was not until Thursday night that he finally
“Miss Snyder is better now,” she wrote, “and I think it will be all
right for you to come. She has insisted upon moving out of your room
and taking the little attic one. She says she is going to find work
“She is a nice little girl, and I am sure you will like her. But be
very careful not to remind her of her trouble. She has lost someone
very dear–but I do not know whether it is a parent, or a fiancé, or
some very dear friend. But she almost goes into hysterics whenever I
start to ask questions, so that I have resolved to say nothing. Perhaps
she will tell us some time.”
John felt himself growing strangely interested in this mysterious girl.
And, having resolutely decided to put Marjorie Wilkinson so far as
possible from his thoughts, he did all in his power to encourage this
new fancy. It had been a long time since he had felt an attraction for
any other girl but Marjorie; the sensation therefore was novel.
Spurred on by this emotion, he displayed more eagerness than usual in
leaving his desk promptly on Friday afternoon to take the train to
Cape May. He tried to attribute his excitement to the desire for fresh
air and rest, after a week in the hot city, but he knew that this was
not all. For when his mother, alone, met the train, he experienced a
decided feeling of disappointment.
“How’s Miss Snyder?” he asked, as soon as he had satisfied himself as
to his mother’s health.
“Much better, thank you. She’s gone to bed early, so you won’t see her
tonight. She needs all her strength.”
Another disappointment! John managed to conceal his feelings.
“She–she doesn’t mind my coming?” he faltered.
“Not a bit. She hardly listened when I told her.”
This piece of information was not particularly pleasant to a young
man who was hoping to forget his infatuation for one girl by becoming
interested in a new one. Suppose she were as indifferent as Marjorie!
“What’s she like?” asked John.
“Quite pretty–and of rather a refined type, I should say. She comes of
a cultured family, for she has a charming voice, and lovely manners.”
“Does she seem to have recovered from her illness?”
“Yes, except that she is very pale, and awfully nervous. But I think
she will soon come around all right.”
“And how old a girl do you think she is?”
“I hardly know. Let’s see–Marjorie Wilkinson is eighteen, isn’t she?”
John flushed at the mention of the girl’s name, and nodded assent.
“Well, Miss Snyder must be two or three years older,” continued Mrs.
Hadley; “although you can’t tell, because her illness has pulled her
John was afraid to ask any more questions, lest his mother might think
his interest too pointed, and decided to restrain his curiosity until
the following day.
“Have you heard anything from Marjorie?” asked Mrs. Hadley, when they
were inside the attractive little cottage.
“Not a word!” replied her son.
“Have you written?”
“No–not lately. I didn’t think it was worth while. Marjorie’s having
too good a time to care for letters from me.”
“That’s just where you’re mistaken, John,” said Mrs. Hadley, kindly.
“If I were you I’d write. Girls love to get letters when they are far
away from home.”
“But Marjorie has always seemed rather indifferent. I guess it’s
because she’s so sure of me. If I could only make her jealous by being
interested in some other girl! But it just seems as if I can’t!”
“Well, you have plenty of time, John, so I wouldn’t worry if I were
you,” answered his mother, consolingly. “But I would write to her once
in a while.”
Early the next morning John was up, anxious not to lose any more of his
visit than necessary in sleep. He could sleep in the city, where he had
nothing else to do in the evenings; but here he wanted to enjoy the
fresh air as much as possible.
He was surprised to find his mother’s guest in the dining-room when he
came down stairs. She was setting the table, and, as she bent over the
blue and white breakfast dishes, she made a pretty picture. She smiled
slightly when Mrs. Hadley presented her son.
“And now I think breakfast is ready,” she said. “Dorothy, you and John
sit down, and I’ll bring the things in.”
“You’ll do nothing of the sort!” objected John. “I’ll bring them in,
myself! It will be great sport to be waiter. What comes first?”
“Cantaloupes,” replied Mrs. Hadley, obediently submitting to his orders.
Although John did his best to be lively and entertaining during the
meal, he found his efforts falling strangely flat. Miss Snyder seemed
unconscious of his conversation, and only came out of her reverie when
he addressed to her a direct question. Finally he gave it up, and
talked entirely to his mother.
“Are you young people going in bathing?” asked Mrs. Hadley, at the
conclusion of the meal.
“No, I’m not,” replied the girl, without raising her eyes from her
plate. “I’m going to look for a job.”
“Oh, wait till Monday!” urged Mrs. Hadley. “Why don’t you and John
amuse each other today?”
Miss Snyder shook her head decidedly.
“No,” she said, “I bought the paper, and I want to answer some ads in
John saw that she had no intention of including him in any of her
plans, so he decided to go his own way, just as if she were not
present. He would look up some of the fellows and join their bathing
party, and in the afternoon he would take his mother to the beach.
When he and his mother returned from their walk late in the afternoon,
they found Miss Snyder in high good spirits. Her eyes were sparkling,
and there was some color in her formerly pale cheeks. She had obtained
She told them all she knew about it at supper.
“It’s only selling embroidery in a fancy-work shop on the boardwalk,”
she explained; “but during my spare time I am to embroider, and I get
paid extra for my work. I’m really awfully lucky!”
“I think they’re lucky!” cried John, with sincere admiration. The girl
“No, I am, because you see I have never worked before, and I couldn’t
give any references.”
John was quiet for a moment; he was trying to imagine what her life had
been. Evidently she came of a well-to-do family; as Mrs. Hadley had
said, she was not an ordinary girl. If she had been, he knew his mother
would have made some effort to help her, but she would not have brought
her into her own home.
“But surely you could give some personal friends as references?”
“No, I couldn’t!”
“Heavens! You sound as if you had been serving a term in prison!” He
laughed as he said this; the remark sounded too absurd. But to his
amazement, the girl’s eyes filled with tears.
“No! No! Not that!” she protested, and John took the warning, realizing
that his remark had been tactless.
“I say,” said the young man hastily, “let’s celebrate by going to a
show tonight! What do you say?” He looked eagerly at Dorothy.
“If–if your mother wants to,” said the girl, shyly.
“Yes, all right,” said Mrs. Hadley; “but I am tired. John and I had
quite a long walk this afternoon. Why don’t you young people go alone?”
“No, I won’t go without you, Mrs. Hadley,” replied Dorothy, quietly.
“All right then, I’ll go,” consented the older woman. “Where do you
want to go?”
“Wherever there’s dancing afterward,” said John. “At least, if Miss
Snyder cares to dance.”
“I love it!” cried Dorothy, with more genuine, youthful animation than
she had heretofore expressed over anything.
Saturday night is, of course, the biggest night at any of the seashore
resorts, and as it was well on to the height of the season, all
the walks were so crowded that they could hardly go three abreast;
sometimes John would find himself alone, and at other times he would be
with one of the women. Unconsciously he pressed Dorothy’s arm whenever
they were in the thickest part of the crowd; it seemed as if she were a
girl so greatly in need of protection.
The evening passed pleasantly, although the girl talked little, and
when they began to dance, John felt scarcely better acquainted with her
than when he first met her. But as the dancing progressed, her cheeks
flushed with the exercise and her eyes became bright and happy; she
looked as if she were having a good time.
Already John was congratulating himself upon his growing interest in
the girl. Suppose Marjorie could see him now! What would she think?
The thought was just passing through his mind, when he looked around
and caught sight of a familiar face. He looked again–was it possible
that he had been right the first time? Yes, for the other had
recognized him; a second later Jack Wilkinson nodded pleasantly.
“One of your friends?” asked Dorothy.
“Yes,” answered John, slowly. “Yes, indeed.”
“Do you want to look for him after this dance?”
“Yes, I suppose so,” said the young man, wearily. Somehow, he seemed to
have lost interest in everything.
At the conclusion of the dance, the young men found each other, and the
girls were introduced. Jack explained that he had simply run over from
Atlantic City for the evening, and that even now he must hurry back.
“Well, I’m glad to see you’re not grieving much!” he added, as he left
them. He winked significantly at John.
John flushed, and turned away, suggesting to Dorothy that they find
his mother and start for home. For now, whether he liked it or not,
Marjorie would hear about Dorothy Snyder.