The eight Girl Scouts who were going to the ranch met at the Grand
Central Station of New York. Although there were to be only eight
travellers, there seemed to be about thirty or forty people in the
party, so many friends and relatives had come to see them off.
Luckily, the girls’ luggage was all cared for by someone else, for
there was not a scout in the party who was not laden down with baskets
of fruit or boxes of candy. Doris Sands and Marjorie Wilkinson each
wore bunches of roses–those of the latter however were a gift, not
from John Hadley, but from Griffith Hunter.
The girls themselves seemed almost too excited to give much thought to
their presents. They tried to listen to innumerable admonitions and
messages at the last minute, and finally got into the train with only
a hazy idea of what everyone had said. But they all looked supremely
As soon as they were comfortably settled, and the excitement had died
down so that normal conversation was in order again, Marjorie began to
wish she might tell the others about her commission. It was only with
the greatest effort that she restrained herself.
Neither had Lily forgotten the all important subject; so as soon as she
found a chance, she blurted out her announcement.
“Girls!” she said. “I have the most exciting news to tell you! Guess
what it is!”
“What? What?” demanded two or three at once.
“Marj is engaged?” suggested Alice, always anxious for romance.
“Don’t be silly!” said Marjorie, frigidly.
“Well, you’ll never guess, so I might as well tell you,” said Lily,
amused at Marjorie’s indignation. “We are to have a scout lieutenant to
chaperone us this summer.”
“Who?” demanded Florence Evans, excitedly. “Not my sister Edith?”
“No–nobody like her. You couldn’t imagine two people more different;
in fact this woman is different from anybody else we ever had in the
troop. She is really an awful old maid–about seventy, I guess–and
wears spectacles, and thinks girls of seventeen or eighteen are mere
Lily rejoiced to see the girls all growing furiously angry. How did
such a thing ever happen? Was this Mrs. Remington’s doing? Ethel
interrupted Lily by demanding, sharply,
“What’s this dreadful person’s name?”
Lily had not thought of a name for her. So, under the necessity of
inventing one on the spur of the moment, it sounded perhaps a trifle
“Miss Prudence Proctor!” she announced, avoiding Marjorie’s eyes.
Florence let out a soft whistle. The others looked equally dismayed. It
was Alice who demanded a full explanation.
“Mrs. Remington wrote for us to keep a watch for her, that she might
join us anywhere from New York to the ranch.”
“How are we to know her?” asked Ethel.
“I’ll know her,” answered Lily. “I met her once.”
“And is she really so awful?” asked Alice, a little more hopefully.
“Marj,” said Ethel, suddenly suspicious, “why aren’t you saying
anything? What do you know about her?”
Marjorie could hardly keep from laughing; in her struggle with the
corners of her mouth, the tears came into her eyes.
“She’s–she’s impossible!” she stammered, hiding behind her
handkerchief. “She’s really the most disagreeable person I know.”
“Worse than Ruth Henry?” asked Alice.
“Yes,” murmured Marjorie, again almost losing control of herself.
“Girls,” said Doris, who was always sensitive to another’s discomfort,
“let’s change the subject. I don’t understand it, but Mrs. Remington
must have had a reason for putting this woman over us. Anyway, we can’t
make it any better by talking about it.”
“It looks like one of Ruth Henry’s tricks to me,” said Alice, bitterly.
All this finally became too much for Lily; she was choking now, and she
feared that if she stayed another minute she would give way entirely.
Rising hastily, she made some excuse about getting a glass of water,
and disappeared into her own compartment.
By making their reservations early all the Girl Scouts had managed to
travel in the same car. Lily and Marjorie had one compartment together,
and Ethel and Doris another; the rest of the party had been satisfied
to travel in berths.
Although Doris, Alice and Lily had all been to the coast before, they
had taken the trip during their childhood, with their parents, and had
forgotten most of the details. Everything, therefore, seemed new and
fascinating to them all; they were in no hurry for the days to pass
which would be spent so enjoyably before they even reached the ranch.
They would read and play cards to their hearts’ content; and then, when
they were tired of everything else, they could always talk with each
To many people much older than these Girl Scouts the novelty of eating
on a train has never lost its charm, so it is little wonder that they
looked forward to each occasion with a keen sense of pleasure. They
were thankful, too, as they entered the diner for their first meal,
that there were eight in their party; it would mean that they might
always eat by themselves, if they were fortunate enough to secure
two tables. They were careful to keep their voices low, and to avoid
drawing any undue attention to themselves; but, in spite of this, more
than one fellow-passenger looked enviously at the happy party.
When supper was over that first night, the girls, by general consent,
congregated in Marjorie’s compartment. It was the larger, more
comfortable of the two, and afforded a lovely private sitting-room.
“Shall we play bridge?” asked Doris.
“No, let’s just talk,” replied Marjorie, who sensed the prevailing
sentiment of the group. “Only–not about the lieutenant! I couldn’t
“We’ll never mention her till she appears!” exclaimed Alice, loyally.
“There–will that be a relief to you?”
Lily looked distressed. Was all her fun going to be denied her in this
fashion? But Marjorie good-naturedly came to her rescue.
“No, Alice, I’d rather get used to talking about her now, so that I
won’t make a fool of myself when she does appear. You can say whatever
you like; it really doesn’t matter to me!”
“Well, don’t let’s talk about her, anyway,” said Doris. “I’m sure we
can find a more agreeable topic of conversation. Let’s everybody tell
what she is going to do next year!”
“That will be interesting!” cried Lily, enthusiastically. “Where shall
“With the oldest,” answered Doris. “That’s you, Ethel.”
“Well, you all know about me,” said the girl. “I’ll be a sophomore at
“And I’m going to a finishing school outside of Boston,” volunteered
Doris, briefly. “Who’s next–Marj or Lil?”
“I am,” said Lily. “I’m not sure what I am going to do. I’d like to go
to college, but I’m the only child in my family, you know, and mother
wants me home–papa travels so much.”
“I’m entered at Turner College,” said Marjorie. “And if I have
anything to say about it, Lily will go too!”
“But how about her mother?” asked Mae.
“Her mother can have her all the rest of her life!”
“It’s likely,” laughed Mae. “She’d be married the week after college
“Mae!” remonstrated Lily, “don’t judge others by yourself! Now–what
are you going to do?”
“I’m going to business college, and I hope to take a position by the
first of the year.”
“That certainly sounds interesting,” said Doris. “Well, I suppose there
isn’t any use asking our seniors. You three are all going back to Miss
Allen’s, aren’t you?” she asked, turning to the youngest girls in the
Florence and Alice both nodded assent; but Daisy sat still, staring
into space. It was evident from her attitude that something was
“I’m sorry,” she said, quietly, after the short pause, “but I can’t go
“Why not?” demanded two or three of the girls at once. Mae was just
about to make some teasing remark about getting married, when, catching
sight of the girl’s expression, she took the warning to be careful.
“We can’t afford it,” said Daisy, sadly. “Mother had to choose between
this trip and my last year at school, and, for the sake of my health,
she chose this. I’m really glad, for my best friends are here, and I
can get my diploma later at night school.”
The girls were absolutely silent for a moment, nonplussed at their
chum’s announcement. No one had had the slightest idea of the change in
her circumstances, and, although Marjorie and Alice had both remarked
about something strange in Daisy’s manner, both had attributed it to
And while no one asked any questions, Daisy was started now, and meant
to go on with the whole story.
“You see, our family have been under tremendous expense lately,” she
explained, fingering the tatting on her handkerchief, and avoiding the
girls’ eyes. “My sister–she’s only twenty–always was very excitable,
and we sort of expected her to do something crazy. Well, she did! Last
Easter she went to the seashore with another girl, but she didn’t come
back with her. Instead, she ran off and married a man she had known
only three days!”
“My gracious!” cried Alice, who was now sitting on the edge of her
chair, “How thrilling!”
“And did your father have to support him?” asked Florence, jumping to
the natural conclusion.
Daisy shook her head sadly. How she wished their problem were as simple
“No, he turned out to be a splendid young man–papa met him afterwards,
though of course I never saw him. Well, to get back to the story,
Olive–that’s my sister, you know–sent a telegram to say they were
married, giving the man’s name. But unfortunately it was Smith–a
“Why unfortunately?” asked Alice. She could see no dishonor in marrying
a man of that name.
“Because, as you’ll see later, we had to trace her, and the name is
too common. It was in April that we received this telegram; in May,
Thomas Smith came to see the family alone. Olive had disappeared, and
he didn’t know where.”
“But why did she run away?” asked Alice, incredulously. “Was he cruel
“No; as I said before, papa said he was lovely. Of course, I was at
school myself, and didn’t meet him, but I’d trust papa’s judgment any
day. And he said he had never seen anybody look so sad. The poor young
man seemed to take all the blame on himself.”
“I wonder why!” exclaimed Doris, with pity.
“Well, it seems that he had teased her about a poorly cooked dinner,
and it turned out that she was really very sick, with a fever. She took
his teasing to heart, and ran out without any coat or hat. He naturally
thought she would come right back, but she didn’t. Then he began to
phone to all her friends, and to us, but nobody has seen her since. We
don’t know whether she’s dead or not!”
“How dreadful!” whispered several of the girls, sympathetically.
“And so, ever since then, papa and Mr. Smith have both spent a great
deal of money in trying to trace her; but no detectives have ever found
a clue. Mr. Smith finally became discouraged, and went away, giving her
up as dead. But we have never given up hope.”
“Surely she’ll turn up,” said Doris, consolingly. “Why, if she had
died, somebody, somehow, would have sent word.”
“Except that there was no way to identify her. Well, papa has another
theory. He thinks her exposure while she was so sick made her
temporarily lose her mind, and probably even now she is an amnesia
victim, wandering around trying to find out who she is.”
“Wouldn’t it be great if we’d find her!” cried Alice, who was always
looking for adventure.
“We’d never find her this far away,” said Daisy, sadly. “If Olive’s
alive, she’s somewhere in the East. Mr. Smith said she couldn’t have
had more than ten or fifteen dollars in her purse.”
“Anyway, I’m going to watch for her all the time!” declared Alice. “I’d
rather watch for her than for that old stick of a lieutenant!”
“Tell us what she looks like!” begged Marjorie.
“She’s very striking looking. You couldn’t miss her. She has dark,
wavy hair, and very pink cheeks. Her eyes are blue, and she has a
dimple in her right cheek. She’s medium height, and slender.”
“Have you a picture of her?” asked Lily.
“I’m afraid I haven’t,” sighed Daisy. “I didn’t bring any pictures
at all with me. I thought we might live in tents, and wouldn’t want
anything that wasn’t absolutely necessary.”
“Well, let’s look at every girl we see, every time the train slows
down. And we can go in the diner in relays tomorrow, and look over
everybody on the train!” said Alice.
“Now Alice, that’s too foolish!” cried practical Florence Evans.
“Imagine finding her right on this train! You sound like a dime novel!”
“But she must be somewhere!” persisted Alice, stubbornly.
This discussion was interrupted by Marjorie’s asking Daisy what she was
planning to do next year.
“I’ve been studying stenography,” replied the girl, “and I have a
position waiting for me at home in the principal’s office of the public
school. I’m very lucky, because that will allow me to be with mother,
and help a little besides.”
“I think you’re wonderful to be so cheerful!” said Marjorie,
admiringly. “And think of keeping it from us all this time!”
“Well, I always hoped the thing would solve itself, and that there
would be no need of explanations. But now I’m getting pretty hopeless
“Whom do you bet we find first?” asked Alice, in spite of Florence’s
rebuke, “Daisy’s sister, or the lieutenant?”
“Daisy’s sister, I hope,” replied Doris, with a yawn. “Come girls,
let’s go away and let these people go to bed!”