THE SCOUT PARTY

Marjorie and Daisy slept well that night in the cabin, in spite of the
hardness of their beds. They were too tired to dream about the strange
revelation which they had just heard. When they awoke, they both felt
cheerful; even Daisy had shaken off the unhappiness which Kirk’s
despair had caused her the night before. In the bright sunlight of this
fresh, beautiful day she was ready to believe that her sister was still
alive.

“Daisy,” said Marjorie, as they were dressing, “do you know I feel more
than ever as if I would like to give up everything else to find your
sister. It seems as if something could be done. What do you think?”

“Yes, I think something more could. In the first place, we haven’t told
any of our friends, or Olive’s friends, for fear of notoriety. But I
think that’s a mistake. Lots of people might see Olive somewhere and
not think to mention the fact to us.”

“And is that your mother’s wish?” asked Marjorie.

“Yes, to keep it all as quiet as possible. I have been begging her
to make the thing public–even to come out in the newspapers with
a statement–and she has promised to do it in September if nothing
happens before then.”

“Kirk doesn’t seem to want to do anything either, does he?”

“No, he certainly has surrendered to despair. Well, Marj, I’m glad to
know about him, for we can maybe do something to make his life brighter
during the rest of the visit. And–speaking of that–suppose we go out
now, and see whether we can get his breakfast.”

But much to their surprise, the girls found their breakfast all
prepared for them. Kirk laughed good-naturedly at their amazement in
finding the work all done.

As soon as they had concluded their meal of bacon and bread, they
started back for camp. This time there was no dread of getting lost, no
fear of a storm. They reached the camp in good time, and were greeted
with joyous war whoops and numerous pistol shots; even the cook was
waiting to see with his own eyes that the girls were safe.

Early in the afternoon the whole party started out again. Riding
steadily upward to the top of the mountain, they found the scenery
even more wonderful than Mr. Hilton had depicted. Making their camp,
they stayed there over night, and early the next morning started on
the return trip to the ranch. This time the journey was less eventful;
nothing occurred to prevent them from reaching home on scheduled time.

The five scouts who had taken the trip were now thoroughly accustomed
to living out of doors, and would have been sorry indeed to return to
civilization, had it not been for the prospect of seeing the other
scouts. It seemed much longer than three days to Marjorie since she had
said goodbye to Lily; she longed for the time when they were to see
each other again.

And then, there was the mail. It had been almost a week since she had
been away; surely there must be some letters for her. The last one she
had received before her departure was from her brother Jack, telling
her about having seen John Hadley with another girl at Cape May.
Perhaps now she would get a letter from John, telling her about his new
friend.

She found Lily and Doris and Mae sitting on the porch, watching for
their return. In their hands they held the girls’ mail, so that they
might have it the minute they arrived.

Marjorie saw in a flash that among her letters there was one from John
Hadley. Her cheeks flushed, and her eyes lighted up with anticipation;
it had been so long since she had heard from him.

But when she read the letter–a cool, impersonal sort of thing that
seemed as if it had been written with an effort, she was conscious of a
feeling of disappointment. Reluctantly she opened her other letters.

“What’s John doing with himself?” asked Lily, who could not help
noticing and recognizing the handwriting on the envelope.

“Working hard, going to Cape May every week-end with his mother. He
gets his vacation the last two weeks in August.” Marjorie answered
mechanically, without raising her eyes from the letter she was reading.

“And that will be the end of ours, too!” sighed Lily. “It doesn’t seem
possible that it will soon be the first of August does it?”

“No, it doesn’t. The Judson girls are going home then.”

“So they are. I guess Kirk won’t be sorry,” said Lily. “By the way, do
you like him any better since he did the rescue act, which Tom just
told us about?”

Marjorie smiled half to herself. It was so hard to keep anything from
Lily–to refrain from telling her the whole story. And yet Kirk had
exacted the promise, and she knew that she could not go back on it.

“Yes, he seemed awfully nice. You’ll like him better, too, after the
Judsons go home.”

As soon as Marjorie had an opportunity she glanced slyly at Daisy, and
found her smiling also. But neither girl said anything further.

“Did John say anything about the girl Jack saw him with?” asked Lily;
for Marjorie had read her brother’s letter aloud to her.

“No, he didn’t” answered the other girl.

“Bad sign!” said Lily, jokingly.

“He can marry her for all of me,” returned Marjorie, indifferently.

“Why, Marj! Are you in love with Kirk?” asked Lily.

“Mercy, no!” replied Marjorie, so emphatically that Lily wondered
whether she had said anything awful.

When the girls took their places at the next meal, Marjorie found Kirk
sitting beside her.

“I have written my letter,” he said. “And if they are the up-to-date
company that I think they are, they will probably reply by telegram.”

“That would be great!” said Marjorie, realizing, of course, that Kirk
referred to the radio, although he had not mentioned it.

“Do you suppose,” asked Marjorie, “that there is any chance of its
arriving by the fifteenth? You know the trip to Yellowstone comes
during the last two weeks in August, so we thought we should like to
give a scout party the fifteenth, and present the radio to Mrs. Hilton.
Do you think it would be safe to plan it for then?”

“Yes, I think so,” replied Kirk, still keeping his voice to the
undertone they had adopted for safety’s sake. “Anyway, I can hurry them
up with a telegram,” he added.

“Then we’ll go right ahead with the party,” said Marjorie.

The next three weeks were filled with busy days for the scouts.
Marjorie showed them that she was just as zealous about carrying out
her plans as she was in making them; and the classes and study went on,
in conjunction with the rides and walks and other regular activities
on the ranch. Before the fifteenth of August had arrived, every single
scout had sent in an examination paper to headquarters which would
allow her, when she had passed her eighteenth birthday if she had not
already done so, to be commissioned as a lieutenant. Alice, Daisy and
Florence were fully prepared to pass the remaining tests to win their
Golden Eaglet badges in the Fall; and although the other three girls
were not yet quite ready, they had made good advancement. The radio
was ordered and paid for; the scout party was well organized. With
one exception, Marjorie had carried out every project she had started,
and she was nearly satisfied. If only the troop could in some way do
its good-turn, then she would feel that her summer–her last one as an
active member of Pansy troop–would be as profitable as it had been
pleasant.

“Only three more days!” said Marjorie, folding the letter from her
mother which promised a box of good things for the party, “Suppose the
radio doesn’t come!”

“Well, we’ll have a good time anyhow!” returned Doris, cheerfully.
“Think of all the wonderful food we’re going to get. Has everybody
heard from her mother?”

“Yes! Yes!” cried several of the girls at once.

“I haven’t,” said Daisy, after a pause. “I never even wrote!”

“Well, of course nobody wanted you to!” said Marjorie, with assurance.
“Your mother certainly has enough to worry about.”

“I thought no one would mind,” replied the other girl, quietly.

Marjorie passed the next three days in feverish excitement, always
on the alert to spy a messenger the minute he should arrive with the
radio. But no one came, and she found it difficult not only to restrain
her own impatience, but to keep the girls from blurting out the
secret. On the morning of the party, she gathered the scouts together
in her cabin.

“We must go about our preparations for the party just the same,” she
told them, “and maybe it will come during the day. Mrs. Hilton is going
to shut off the living room, and make the people use the back door all
afternoon, so that we can decorate. So, if anybody wants to go riding,
she had better go this morning!”

The girls accepted their lieutenant’s advice as they accepted
everything else she said and did–without question; and fell to work at
their appointed tasks. Florence and Alice made the ice cream; Lily and
Mae decorated the room with flowers, and crêpe paper which Mrs. Andrews
had sent from New York; Ethel and Doris unpacked boxes of food, and
Marjorie and Daisy arranged the dishes on the refreshment table at the
side.

“Let’s see how many of us there are,” said Marjorie, as she was putting
the silver on the table–“eight of us scouts, Mr. and Mrs. Hilton and
Bob and Art, the two Melvilles, and Kirk–that makes fifteen. Why,” she
continued, as if the idea had just struck her, “that means eight girls
and only five boys! That’s hard on the dancing!”

“I’ll tell you how we can fix that!” exclaimed Alice, who had finished
making her ice cream, “I’ll wear my breeches and be a man. Who wants
me for a partner?”

“I’d be charmed,” said Florence, laughingly.

“Good work!” commented Marjorie. “Now there will be only one extra
girl, and I will be that one, and play chaperone.”

“Oh, everybody will dance with everybody else!” said Doris, lightly.
“Even Alice needn’t think she’ll be able to keep the men away by
wearing trousers!”

“Marj!” said Alice, abruptly, “what does Kirk have to say about the
radio. Oh, if it doesn’t come, I’ll never forgive him!”

“But it wouldn’t be his fault!” protested Daisy, who made it a point to
defend the young man. “He certainly did his part.”

“I bet he ordered it from some poor, one-horsepower company that
delivers once in ten years,” returned Alice.

“No, he didn’t either!” said Marjorie, positively. “He ordered it from
one of the best companies in the East!”

When supper was over, the scouts disappeared into their cabins to put
on their uniforms. With the exception of Alice, who still insisted upon
playing man, they all wore khaki dresses and black ties. In addition to
their merit-badges, which covered the sleeves of all the girls in the
patrol, Marjorie and Ethel wore the Golden Eaglets they had won at the
national training camp the preceding summer.

The party began at half-past seven, when the enclosure shutting off the
living room from the dining room was removed, and the victrola began to
play. All the guests arrived at once, and immediately the dancing began.

Marjorie took up her place at the victrola and resolutely remained
there during three dances, refusing all invitations to dance on the
plea of her duty. But at the end of that time, Mrs. Hilton insisted
upon relieving her, and she yielded to Kirk’s invitation.

Up to that time she had never danced with him–in fact, she had
never seen him dance with any girl at all during her whole visit at
the ranch, and she was both surprised and delighted to find him so
accomplished. Half closing her eyes, she surrendered herself to the
rhythm of the motion, talking little, and dreamily gliding about the
big room under her partner’s skillful direction. She had almost lost
the sense of where she was, when a sharp knock at the screen door
rudely brought her back to the real world. Abruptly the music ceased,
and everyone stopped dancing. With an effort, Marjorie recalled the
probable reason of the interruption: The Radio! Her heart beat wildly
with excitement.

She was still standing with her arm resting on Kirk’s shoulder,
as Bob Hilton opened the door to admit the stranger. With a gasp
of astonishment, the girl’s arm dropped to her side, and she gazed
open-eyed at the visitor. It was John Hadley! Not the radio messenger,
after all–but John Hadley, all the way from Cape May!

Instantly her face darkened, and a cold fear took possession of her.
Was something wrong at home, and had they sent him to break the news
to her gently? In her terror she gripped Kirk’s hand tightly, her face
showing anything but the welcome John had hoped for. Then, as if in a
dream, she heard him speak.

“I would like to speak to the lieutenant of the Scout Troop,” and, as
she dropped Kirk’s hand and stepped forward, he added in a lower tone,
“I have your outfit from our company.”

“Oh!” cried Marjorie, suddenly realizing what his presence meant, and
smiling in intense relief. But what a strange coincidence that he–John
Hadley–should bring it, and without her knowledge, too!

But without waiting to give expression to her own thoughts, she turned
quickly to the rancher’s wife.

“Mrs. Hilton,” she began, speaking so that everyone in the room might
hear, “we Girl Scouts have had such a wonderful time this summer
that we wanted to present the ranch with something as a token of our
appreciation. We had hoped that this gift would come earlier, so that
more of this summer’s guests could enjoy it. But at least it will be
here for next year.”

“I therefore present you, in the name of the Girl Scouts of Pansy
Troop, this radio set, which Mr. Hadley, the representative of the
company from which it was ordered, will put up tomorrow.”

Mr. and Mrs. Hilton were both so taken by surprise by the generosity
and unusualness of the gift, that neither could find words with which
to accept it. Marjorie and the other scouts saw their amazement and
pleasure, and felt rewarded; and before Mrs. Hilton could even stammer
out her thanks, both her sons had raised a noisy cry of approval.
Their informality put the party into an uproar. As there were no more
speeches to be made, someone started the music, and the dancing began
again.

Marjorie, however, made no motion towards summoning her partner, but
remained standing where she was, near the doorway, talking to John.

“I was so surprised to see you!” she said. “And right away I was
scared, for fear something was wrong with my family!”

To John the remark seemed rather odd. Was she not expecting someone
from his company–so why not him?

“Of course you couldn’t know I would be the one to come,” he said, “but
then there was a chance. And after you ordered the outfit from our
company—-”

“I didn’t order it from anybody!” objected the girl. “I left that
entirely to Kirk Smith–the young man with whom I was dancing when you
came in!”

“It certainly was a coincidence!” he remarked, bitterly.

“Not at all!” replied Marjorie, graciously. “It just shows that yours
is the best company in the market.”

“Thanks,” replied John, rather stiffly. Then, feeling it his duty to
allow her to return to her partner, he asked her whether she did not
want to finish her dance.

“Yes, I suppose so,” answered Marjorie, with more indifference than
John would have expected her to display. Then, turning to go, she
added. “I’ll see you later.”

But John found no further opportunity to speak with Marjorie, for
after a _Paul Jones_, refreshments were served, and there was no more
dancing. He joined gaily in the general cheerfulness of his companions,
pinning all his hopes upon the opportunities of the following day.

“Tomorrow!” he thought, as he sought his cabin at midnight. “Tomorrow!
But I won’t spend my vacation here if she doesn’t want me!”

Continue Reading

JOHN’S MISSION

It was the first of August, and as yet John Hadley had received no
answer to the letter he had written some time ago to Marjorie. He
watched anxiously for a letter from her, which would reassure him as
the continuation of their friendship. But it did not come.

He mentioned the fact to Dorothy Snyder when he next saw her at Cape
May. She had advised him to write to Marjorie, and had attributed the
girl’s silence to his failure to start the correspondence again; now
he was proving that she was wrong. Evidently Marjorie did not care
anything about him after all.

“She probably has a good many interests,” said Dorothy, consolingly.

“She always has a lot of interests,” he admitted, grudgingly. “And
probably they’re in the form of young men at the ranch now!”

“Not necessarily,” said Dorothy. “Didn’t you say she is a Girl Scout?
Well, they always have lots to do. And if she is thinking about
graduating, and going to college–”

“She did graduate from Miss Allen’s Boarding School this summer,”
interrupted John. “And I believe she is planning to go to college in
the Fall.”

“Miss Allen’s Boarding School!” repeated Dorothy, almost to herself.
“Where have I heard of that school before?”

“You probably knew somebody who went there,” suggested John, glancing
critically at the girl. She seemed exactly the type of young woman that
one usually found at Miss Allen’s.

“Yes, yes, perhaps,” she replied hastily, growing very red and
embarrassed. Always, John noticed, when the conversation showed signs
of becoming personal, she grew alarmed, and instantly she was on her
guard. He had observed this so many times that he resolved to question
his mother more in detail about her. Who was Dorothy Snyder, and what
was it she feared? Perhaps they were unwittingly harboring a criminal
in their home.

As soon as he found an opportunity, he put the question to Mrs. Hadley.

“Mother,” he said, when they were alone that evening, “what do you make
of Dorothy?”

“What do you mean, John?” asked Mrs. Hadley, looking up from her
sewing.

“You know what I mean–who she is, and where does she come from?”

“She comes from a little town in New York state, and her people are all
dead.”

“But what happened that made her so ill, and so penniless? And yet she
said she had never worked before.”

Mrs. Hadley shook her head; she could not answer that question.

“I know nothing, except what she had volunteered to tell me. I never
ask her about herself.”

“But how did you find her? You never told me the whole story.”

“She was sitting in a pavilion, her face buried in her hands, and
sobbing very quietly. I went up and asked her if I could help her.”

“And she accepted?”

“No, not right away. She said she was very ill, and had lost her money,
and would be grateful if I could take her in for a night. Naturally I
took her home. She gave her name as Dorothy Snyder, of Edgetown, New
York.”

“As you know, I took care of her till she got better. She never talked
much, except to tell me how grateful she was for my kindness. Once she
told me that she had been through an awful experience, and begged me
not to ask her any questions. Of course I promised.”

“Don’t you suppose she will ever tell us about herself?”

“Yes, but I think she is trying to shield somebody or hide something,
and will not tell till everything is cleared up.”

“Do you–did you ever think she had done anything wrong herself?” John
asked the question fearfully, as if he dreaded lest the answer might be
in the affirmative.

“No,” replied his mother, decidedly. “I am sure of the girl’s
innocence. I don’t know how or why, but I am.”

The young man breathed a sigh of relief, and yet he was not entirely
satisfied. He longed to go to the bottom of the matter, to tear aside
the veil, as it were, from Dorothy’s obscurity, and have her for a
friend as he might have any other normal girl.

He was glad, however, that she never avoided him now, that since he
had told her about Marjorie, she raised no barrier to their continuous
companionship during his visits to his mother. Accordingly, when he
asked her to go for a walk with him on Sunday afternoon, she willingly
agreed.

She seemed preoccupied at first, and they walked along in silence for a
quarter of an hour. It was Dorothy who spoke first, surprising him by
her remark.

“I am going to ask you to do me a great favor, John,” she began. “I
don’t want you to think I am forward or pushing, but I do want very
much to meet those Girl Scouts from Miss Allen’s school. I have a good
reason, though it is a strange one; but I can’t tell it to you now. Do
you suppose that when they come back from the ranch in the Fall, it
could possibly be arranged?”

John wrinkled his brow. What, he wondered, could have prompted this
strange request? Dorothy could not possibly be jealous of Marjorie–she
had never cared for him in that way–nor did she seem like a
social climber who wanted to meet all the people who were in good
circumstances. Like all the other mysteries about this girl, he had to
give this one up unsolved.

“Perhaps,” he said, slowly. “But it would be hard to have any sort
of party, for they will be so scattered. Five or six of them have
graduated from Miss Allen’s, and probably they will all be at
different places. But I’ll think about it. Is it–” he hesitated for a
moment–“is it any one girl in particular that you want to meet?”

“No, indeed,” she hastened to reassure him. “And you never need tell me
which is the girl you care for. But I would love to see them together.”

John was turning over in his mind how the thing could possibly be
carried out. Dorothy so seldom asked him for anything that he hated
to refuse her. Suddenly his eyes lighted up with inspiration. He had
it–the very thing! His mother might invite all eight of the girls
for a week-end at Cape May, as a sort of return for the Wilkinson
hospitality earlier in the summer. He told Dorothy of the idea.

“That’s wonderful!” she cried. “But wouldn’t it be too much work for
your mother?”

“We could both turn in and help,” said John.

“Of course we would. But–would the house be big enough for eight
girls, besides us?”

“Yes, they enjoy sleeping in a bunch. We could get in some extra cots,
and fit them up four in a room.”

“Let’s hurry back and ask your mother right away,” suggested Dorothy.

More mystified than ever at this unusual display of enthusiasm, he
complied with the girl’s request. All the way back they talked of
nothing else. He too was thrilled with the plan; he said he would take
a room at the hotel and come in only for meals, so that the house would
be freer for the girls.

As soon as they were home, they lost no time in putting the project
before Mrs. Hadley. Always glad to comply with the young people’s
wishes, she readily fell in with the scheme, and seemed as pleased
as they were. She suggested that they make a tour of inspection of
the house with her, so that she might assure herself of the plan’s
practicality. They began with the attic.

“These rooms are small,” she said, throwing open the two doors and
displaying the conventional attic rooms, with the slanting roofs
besides the windows. “But they really aren’t bad.”

“They’re very comfortable!” said Dorothy. “At least I find mine so.”

“Well, then, that disposes of four girls, and there are two bedrooms
besides mine on the second floor. Yes–” she was noting two or three
things to attend to, as she talked–“we can put eight girls up, if John
will move out.”

“Of course I will!” he replied, readily.

“Then really the only thing that worries me is the dining room,” she
concluded. “Do you suppose we could get eleven people around our small
table?”

“I’d just as soon be waitress,” offered Dorothy; “and that would bring
the number down to ten.”

“Indeed you won’t!” protested Mrs. Hadley. “When the party is given in
your honor!”

“Suppose Dorothy and I both be ‘waitresses’?” suggested John. “That
would be only fair, if you do the cooking.”

“I thought I’d get Eliza in to cook,” said his mother.

“That’s a good idea!” commented John. “Still, I stick to the waitress
plan. I think I’d make a hit in a cap and apron.”

Dorothy laughed at the picture of John in a waitress’s costume, and she
too urged Mrs. Hadley to let them adopt the plan.

“Well, whatever you like,” said the older woman. “And now since it’s
all settled, I guess I had better go write the letter.”

But before she had reached her desk, the door-bell rang, and she went
to answer it. A telegraph messenger asked whether Mr. John Hadley lived
there.

“Yes,” replied Mrs. Hadley, mechanically taking the envelope and
signing the paper. Then, closing the door she handed the telegram to
her son.

“I suppose your firm want you to go to New York or Boston, or some such
place again,” she said with resignation. “They seem to expect to send
you all over the globe.”

John smiled, and tore open the telegram.

“By George, I’ve got a real trip this time!” he exclaimed. “Two places
in California, and a stop in Wyoming on the way back!”

Neither Mrs. Hadley nor Dorothy shared the young man’s enthusiasm; they
were both thinking how lonely it would be for them, with him away for
such a long time.

“And how long will you be gone?” asked Mrs. Hadley, making a supreme
effort to hide her dismay.

“I don’t know. This says a letter follows.”

“I wonder whether you start right from here.”

“Probably,” answered John, “or they would hardly have telegraphed.”

“Will this–” began Dorothy, hesitating for a second–“will this mean
that our house-party has to be given up?”

“Certainly not!” replied John. “I’ll surely be back by September, and
even if I weren’t, it would be all right to have it without me.”

Neither woman said anything further; but Dorothy noticed that Mrs.
Hadley gave up all idea of writing the invitation, for the time being,
at least. Somehow, the house-party would seem flat without the presence
of its originator, and neither of the others cared to press it. They
busied themselves with the supper, and with the inspection of John’s
clothing, to be in readiness for the hasty summons that would probably
come late that night.

Mrs. Hadley had already gone to bed when John received his special
delivery letter. He and Dorothy had been sitting in the little parlor,
reading a story aloud, when the messenger arrived. The girl watched him
quietly as he perused its contents. First she noticed a slight frown on
his face; but a moment later this was replaced by an ecstatic smile.
John Hadley had wonderful news!

“By George!” he cried, handing the letter to his companion, “I’m to see
_her!_ To go to California first, and stop on my way back at the Hilton
ranch, near Bailey, Wyoming, to deliver a radio to the Girl Scouts,
and set it up. Oh, did you ever hear of such luck? It sounds like the
Arabian Nights!”

Dorothy tried to enter whole-heartedly into his joy.

“It is wonderful, of course. And the Girl Scouts ordered their outfit
from you?”

John examined the order, and nodded his head, smilingly.

“Then it must be all right with–with–you know, I don’t know her
name!” she added.

“I guess you are right,” agreed John. “And now I must go wake mother,
and tell her, for I start early in the morning.”

“And when do you get back?”

“I don’t know. My vacation comes the last two weeks in August,
so–well–I might spend it on the ranch!”

“With the Girl Scouts!” added Dorothy. “I envy you, John!”

“Yes, it would be nice,” he said. “And I could give them mother’s
invitation in person.”

“And I do so hope they accept,” said the girl, fervently. “Somehow, I
feel as if my whole fate rested upon their decision.”

John forgot for a moment his own affairs, in his surprise at what
Dorothy was saying. Why, he asked himself again, did she care so much
about the house-party, and in what way was her future dependent upon
it? He looked at her questioningly; his eyes held the interrogation his
lips dared not utter.

As Dorothy watched him, and noted his eager interest, she came to the
sudden decision to tell him all that she knew of her past. Perhaps he
would be able to help her; at any rate, he was too good a friend to
betray her confidence.

“John,” she said, in reply to his silent question, “I want to talk to
you about myself. Have you time?”

“I certainly have,” replied the young man.

For the next five minutes he listened to one of the strangest
experiences he had ever heard. Dorothy’s explanation was different from
anything he had imagined, and more pitiful. Never in his life had he so
longed to help anyone, and never, he thought, had he been so powerless.

“And may I tell mother?” he asked, when she had finished her story.

“I believe I would rather tell her myself–tomorrow,” replied Dorothy.
“For you will want to go and tell her your own news now.”

“That is true,” he said, rising, and extending his hand. “And now
goodnight, Dorothy, and goodbye; for I leave early in the morning.”

“Goodbye,” she answered, taking his hand. “And please don’t tell my
secret to anyone except ‘_the girl_,’ will you?”

“I promise,” he said, with sincerity.

Continue Reading

REVELATIONS

While the girls busied themselves in the cabin, Kirk went to look after
the horses, and to find himself a place for the night. The ground was
still wet, but he felt that with the protection of his poncho he could
manage for one night.

“It does seem selfish to keep this cabin,” remarked Marjorie, when they
were alone, “when the ground will be so wet for Kirk. Still, there are
two of us, and only one of him. And,” she added, “besides, we’re girls.”

“I don’t really think Kirk minds,” said Daisy. “He isn’t one bit
selfish.”

“No, he isn’t! And by the way, Daisy, don’t you like him a whole lot
better than you did at first?”

“Yes, only that I always did like him. And I never blamed him in the
least for running away from Irene Judson so persistently.”

“Well, he’s been awfully nice to me lately,” said Marjorie. “When we
were fishing together yesterday morning, I told him about the radio,
and he is going to order it for me when we get back to camp, and will
help put it up when it comes.”

“That’s great!” exclaimed Daisy. “Do you know, Marj, I was hoping he
would be the one you would ask. He seems so capable. But don’t you hope
we get it soon?”

“I certainly do!” replied Marjorie. “But I guess we will, for
everything seems to be going so well with the troop. Only–we haven’t
found another troop good-turn!”

“No, but we soon will, somehow,” said her companion, cheerfully. “We
always do. I’ll leave it to you. You’ll find a forest fire to stop, or
a doctor’s life to save, or–”

“That will do!” commanded Marjorie, sternly. She was too modest to
listen indefinitely to an account of her previous good deeds. “Come,
let’s go sit in the doorway, and watch for Kirk.”

They sat for a short time, watching the fading light in the sky, and
talking little. At last the young man returned, bringing his folding
cup filled with water for them.

“There’s a spring not far away,” he said, as he handed Marjorie the
cup. “Everything’s very convenient, and we’re lucky! After a good
night’s sleep, we ought to get to the camp in fair time tomorrow.”

“Well, I hope we don’t see any bears tonight,” remarked Daisy.
“Although Marj and I would be pretty safe. But you must be careful,
Kirk!”

“Oh, I’m a light sleeper,” he replied, carelessly. “But I believe I
would like a fire. Suppose I make one now, and we can sit around it
till time to turn in? Then we wouldn’t have to go into that stuffy
cabin.”

The girls agreed heartily with the plan, and Daisy went into the cabin
to bring out the remaining dry wood. Before long a bright cheerful
blaze was crackling in front of them.

For some time no one said anything. Each was absorbed in his or her own
thoughts.

Still gazing into the fire, Kirk suddenly broke the silence by speaking
about himself.

“Girls,” he began, “you have been wondering about me, I know, and
thinking I am rather queer. Well, I guess I am! When I came to the
ranch early in the summer, I felt as if I would never want to talk to
anybody, or make friends with anybody again. But lately–through the
influence of several of the boys, and of you two Girl Scouts, I’ve
begun to feel more like a human-being again. And so now that you are
under my care tonight, dependent as it were upon me, I want to tell you
a little bit about myself. In fact, I just can’t keep it any longer: _I
am Olive’s husband!_”

“What? What?” cried Daisy, staring at Kirk as if she thought he was
crazy.

The young man had not meant to blurt out his announcement so bluntly;
he was sorry to have startled the girls as he must have done.

“Yes,” he went on to explain, “you see my name is Smith–Thomas Kirk
Smith–and when I came out here I began to use the middle name instead
of the first, so that I might forget a little bit. But it didn’t do any
good. I’ve just been bitter–I hated everybody. Then when I met you,
Daisy, and saw how self-controlled you were, with the same trouble as
mine, I began to be ashamed.”

As he spoke of his sorrow in his quiet voice, without even looking at
the girls, both were even more impressed by his suffering than by the
strangeness of the fact that he was the man who, on account of Daisy’s
sister, was so often in their thoughts. The whole thing was incredible:
that here on this lonely ranch in Wyoming, they should find, not the
girl whom they were seeking, but her husband! They knew now that Kirk
was speaking the truth, and yet it seemed miraculous.

“Yes,” said Daisy, after the first excitement of the revelation was
over, “of course I noticed that your name was Smith–for no matter how
often I hear it, it always startles me. But, knowing that your first
name was different, I never gave it a second thought. For who would
ever think of finding you here?”

“It was a coincidence,” he said. “I was so run down last Spring that
I just had to go somewhere. And I’d been out here before, not on this
ranch, but in the same country, so I thought this would be the best
place. Now I’m glad I did.”

“And you have heard nothing?” asked Daisy, softly.

“Nothing,” replied Kirk, disconsolately. “Daisy, we must face the
facts: _there is nothing to hear!_ For if Olive were alive, she would
surely have come back to me.” His voice broke, and he added another
sentence almost to himself. “It was such a little quarrel.”

“Yes, I know,” whispered Daisy, the tears running down her cheeks.

Marjorie, who had always shared Daisy’s trouble as her very own, now
seemed to enter more sympathetically than ever into the grief of these
two people, whom she admired so much. Desperately, she searched her
heart for some words of comfort to utter, but in vain. She could not
express what she felt.

“I wish you would tell me more about Olive,” said Kirk, gently. “You
know that I had known her for such a short time–only a week at a
summer resort–before we were married. And then it was only a little
over a month later that–that–Olive wasn’t the sort of girl to harbor
resentment, was she?”

“No indeed!” exclaimed Daisy. “She always had a fiery temper, but she
was over it in a minute when she got angry. And she’s very forgiving.”

“I’m thankful to hear you say that, Daisy. Now I want to ask you a
question–you must forgive me for putting it, but it worries me so–do
you suppose that Olive could have committed suicide?”

Daisy winced at the question–the idea was so horrible. How could her
sister think of such a thing, with the prospect of such a happy life
before her! Daisy glanced at Kirk; now that she understood him, he
seemed to possess all the qualities that the normal girl would desire
in a husband. And Olive was the sort of girl to appreciate this. No,
the thing was inconceivable; whatever fate Olive had met, it could not
have been a suicidal death; of this her sister was sure.

“No, Kirk; she isn’t that kind of a girl. She wouldn’t really want to,
either. I think you can be satisfied about that.”

“Really?” cried the young man, hopefully. “Anything but that! For then
I should feel that I had killed her, and that it was all my fault.”

“No, if she is dead, it’s from some cause beyond either your or her
power.”

“Yes, I suppose so,” said Kirk, slowly. “You know she told me as she
went out of the door she was ill. And to rush out to exposure, without
proper protection–that would probably kill her.”

“But if she were dead, we would be so likely to have heard about it,”
objected Daisy, returning to her former hopeful attitude.

“I think the same thing would apply if she were alive,” said Kirk,
sadly. “She could have died in some lonely place, or have fallen into
the river, and perhaps nobody would know a thing about it. I watch the
papers for accidents to unidentified people, but I have never found any
description at all like her.”

Although Marjorie had taken practically no part in the conversation,
the strain of it all was telling upon her as well as upon the other
two. She fidgeted uneasily; the growing darkness, the loneliness, the
gloominess of the subject depressed her so that she feared that she too
might burst out crying. Kirk noticed her nervousness, and knew that it
would be best to talk of something else.

Skillfully turning the conversation to scout topics, he drew both
girls’ thoughts back to happier channels. He went into details about
the radio, making it seem so fascinating that they could hardly wait
for their own instrument to arrive. Finally, both Marjorie and Daisy
realized that they were sleepy, and that even the prospect of a hard
bed did not keep them from looking forward to their night’s rest.

“You’re sure they’ll wait for us to go up that mountain tomorrow?” she
asked Kirk, as she and Daisy prepared to go into the cabin.

“Positive!” replied the young man. “But we must start early in the
morning!”

“We will!” said Marjorie.

“And it’s going to be a glorious day,” added Daisy, gazing in
admiration at the stars.

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