GOODBYES

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Righto!” agreed her room-mate.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Marjorie’s face brightened at the suggestion.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Do come in!” she exclaimed.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Ethel Todd, for one!” cried Marjorie.

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

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

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

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

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

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

“And flowers from John,” teased Alice.

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

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

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

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

“I could stand that one!” laughed Marjorie.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“It isn’t too long, is it?” he asked.

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

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

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

“And when do we start?” asked Lily.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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