THE TRIP TO YELLOWSTONE

Everyone was up early the following day to watch the installing of the
radio. With the exception of Bob and Arthur, who were always obliged to
go out for the horses, no one did any riding that day.

Kirk and John did most of the work, while the others stood around,
longing to be of some assistance and asking innumerable questions.

“Will it last till next summer if we should come back?” inquired Mae.

“You mean _when_ you come back!” corrected Tom Melville. “For, of
course, you’re coming.”

“I hope so,” answered John, smiling.

“How far do you think we can hear?” asked Bob. “San Francisco?”

“Probably. But surely Denver.”

“Not New York?” said Lily, in a disappointed tone. She had thought that
once you possessed the instrument you could hear any sending station in
the world.

“Hardly,” replied John. “It has to be a larger, more sensitive
instrument to hear such distances. But I am sure you will listen in on
lots of interesting things.”

All this time Marjorie said nothing, for she knew that John preferred
to work unmolested, if possible. But although she was quiet, he was
by no means unaware of her presence, and before he had finished, he
secured her promise to go for a little walk with him before supper.

When the young men had finally completed their work, and John had made
his test to his own satisfaction, they listened eagerly for the first
message. To the delight of everyone, it came soon–a weather report
from Denver. After that there was a most entertaining concert.

“It certainly is nice that more than one person can hear at one time,”
remarked Arthur. “It was clever of you Girl Scouts to think of ordering
this kind.”

“Clever of Kirk!” corrected Marjorie, always desirous of giving credit
where credit was due.

John glanced hastily at the young man whom Marjorie had praised, trying
to ascertain whether he cared much about the tribute. But apparently
Kirk had paid little or no attention to it, for he was explaining
something to Arthur.

Shortly after five o’clock John met Marjorie in front of the cabin,
and they started for their walk. Both were secretly excited; there
was so much to talk about, to clear up, before they could get back to
their old intimate terms. But both hesitated to make the conversation
personal, and for ten minutes or more they discussed the radio, the
ranch, and the Girl Scout troop. At last Marjorie spoke of themselves.

“I got your letter, John,” she said. “And I was going to answer it,
but—-”

“But you had a good many other things to think about. Well, I
understand!” His tone was a trifle bitter.

Marjorie looked at him resentfully. What right had he to tease her,
even thus subtly, about other men, when he had spent his summer dancing
and flirting with another girl? She was about to make a retort, when
she stopped suddenly, and asked instead how long he intended to stay.

“I don’t know,” he answered; “that depends upon–circumstances.”

“What do you mean?” asked Marjorie, in a puzzled tone.

“Just that! I honestly don’t know.”

“Well, if you possibly can, you ought to stay for the Yellowstone trip.
We’re leaving tomorrow for a nine-day trip, and from what I understand,
it is to be the experience of a life-time.”

“But you know I can’t ride, and wouldn’t dare start off for such a long
trip without any experience!” he protested.

“Oh, it isn’t riding. We go in big cars. But don’t let me persuade you
if–if you are so anxious to get back to Cape May!”

John flushed at the taunt; for he knew now that Jack had told her
about the dance. He wished he might explain everything–especially his
last conversation with Dorothy Snyder before he left for the West. But
this was neither the time nor the place for that. Instead, he took up
Marjorie’s challenge.

“Just to show you how wild I am to get back East, I’ll stay here as
long as you say–till you girls go back, if you are willing! Now what
do you think of that?”

Marjorie regarded him coolly. He was saying these words for effect, she
surmised.

“You know I wouldn’t let you, for the sake of your job!”

“Oh, my job’s all right; don’t you worry about that. What do you say?”

“I dare you to stay!” flashed Marjorie, smiling at the childishness of
it all.

“And I won’t take your dare!” he replied. “But wait! Won’t I be in the
way–between you and Mr. Smith?”

It was Marjorie’s turn to blush.

“No, there’s nothing serious there, John. Kirk has cared for only one
girl in all his life, and he has lost her. I don’t think anyone will
ever interest him again. He’s rather nice, but he seems awfully old,
and sad.”

“Poor fellow!” said John, sympathetically. All his jealousy vanished in
that moment.

Marjorie longed to say something more about the Cape May girl, but she
hated to pry. Rather, she would wait until John mentioned her casually;
and if he avoided her in his conversation, she would know that there
was something serious between them. So she began again to talk on
general topics, until it was time to go in to supper.

The interest in the radio was temporarily set aside by the imminence of
the Yellowstone trip. Everyone on the ranch was planning to go, so the
talk at supper was of little else.

“You’re quite sure no bears will attack us?” asked Doris for perhaps
the fifth time.

“No, I’m not sure,” replied Mr. Hilton. “You may be very much annoyed
by some tame bears who try to steal your food.”

“I’d let them have it,” said the girl, laughingly.

“You won’t be the boss!” returned Arthur. “You see, on this trip we
don’t do our own cooking; we stop at regular organized camps for our
food and beds.”

“But if the bears are so tame, I should think it would be a good place
to ride,” she said.

“Lots of people do take horseback trips through the Park,” said Kirk,
“but it requires from about twenty to twenty-five days, and it’s hardly
worth while for anyone who has only two months to spend in the West.
Now if you were like me, with a year or so before you—-”

“Kirk!” cried Daisy. “Are you going to stay here next winter?”

“I have a job, haven’t I, Mr. Hilton?” answered the young man. “I’m
hired to take Bob’s and Art’s places, while they go to college.”

“You must think you’re good–taking the place of two men!” retorted
Alice, always glad of an opportunity to get in a little dig at Kirk.

But Marjorie was thinking of his decision, and wondering at it. How
could he, with such an unhappy memory to haunt him, wish to live so
comparatively alone, so far away from civilization? Surely he had
abandoned all hope!

Everyone at the ranch was delighted with John Hadley’s decision to stay
and join the party. Kirk Smith’s satisfaction was as evident as that
of anyone else, so that John finally forgot whatever jealousy he might
have entertained at the beginning of his visit, and believed Marjorie
implicitly.

Early the next morning they started out with their simple luggage, in
Ford cars, to drive to the entrance of the Park where they would change
into the larger sight-seeing conveyances at the convenience of the
public. To the girls, and to John Hadley, who had never been over this
part of the country before, every detail was interesting. They watched
for buffalo trails, for Indian graves, for extinct volcanoes, and for
the queer little prairie-dog towns–barren wastes with tiny mounds
every few feet apart, into which the small animals disappeared when the
machine approached. They passed huge ranches; saw lofty mountains in
the distance, whose summits were streaked with snow. Once it seemed to
be raining on a distant hill, but overhead the sky was bright and clear.

The girls talked little during this ride, so interested were they in
the strangeness of the scenery. Mr. Hilton noticed this, and smiled to
himself; if they found this country fascinating, what would they think
of the Yellowstone?

Mr. Hilton had planned for the party to enter the Park by way of
Mammoth Springs, for by so doing, the girls would see the small geysers
first, and gradually work up to the great ones. He wanted to impress
upon their youthful minds a wonderful picture that would never be
forgotten.

They stopped at a large hotel outside the Park for supper, planning
to remain there over night. Everyone was tired and in no mood for
sight-seeing; a good night’s rest would prepare them for the marvels
they were about to behold on the morrow.

Marjorie settled herself comfortably on the porch after the meal was
over, thinking happily of the pleasant time to come. She was to have
nine days of rare pleasure, seeing beautiful sights, among people that
she loved. And she had to admit to herself that John Hadley’s presence
added not a little to the joy of her anticipation. She believed she was
having the time of her life.

In the days that followed, all the young people’s wishes seemed to
be gratified. They saw the Mammoth Hot Springs, larger than Niagara,
but instead of being a single waterfall, it parted into a series of
cascades, white as snow in some places, in others a dingy yellow. They
discovered the craters of several extinct geysers, and marvelled at
the exquisite pools of clear water, covering strangely colored rock
formations. They saw the Constant Geyser, throwing up its jets of
hot water in the center of a narrow, barren valley called the Norris
Basin; and Old Faithful, with the clock not far off announcing the
time of next hourly performance. They climbed up the steep, almost
perpendicular cliff to get the view of Gibbon Falls, and they were
impressed most of all by the Great Canyon, with all its marvellous
colors. Once, to the extreme delight of the Girl Scouts, they went
swimming in a warm pool formed from the water of a geyser; but as the
temperature was about ninety degrees, they did not care to remain in it
long. Every night they stopped at one of the camps, had their supper,
and attended the little entertainment the place provided for the
guests’ enjoyment; in the morning they went refreshed upon their way.

One of the funniest incidents of the whole trip was their first
encounter with a bear. Luckily, Doris thought, they were in the bus;
but afterward she laughed at her fears. They had not been long in the
Park when a huge bear suddenly came out from behind some pine trees
and planted himself directly in the way of the conveyance. It was
impossible for the driver to go around him; so he put on the brakes.
Doris and Mae both shrieked at the same time.

“Is he going to attack us?” asked Lily, rather frightened at his size.

The driver laughed.

“No–this is the highway robber,” he replied. “He won’t let our
automobile pass until he has his ransom. He wants some food!”

Greatly amused, the different members of the party who had eatables
with them offered them to the bear, and he accepted them greedily. When
he was satisfied, he stepped aside and let them go on.

The little incident was enough to prove to Doris and the other more
timid girls that they need not be afraid of the bears; and from that
time on, they laughed whenever they saw one, for they were reminded of
this incident.

The trip was satisfactory in every detail; the weather had been
excellent all along, the food and beds at the camps splendid, and the
party in the best of spirits. Even Daisy had resolutely put aside her
worry, entering fully into the enjoyment of those perfect days.

Marjorie and John had been much together during the trip, but seldom
alone together. They were back on the old friendly basis again, but
each was looking forward to the return to the ranch, when they could
have some good quiet talks. For as yet John had said nothing about
Dorothy, but something in his manner made Marjorie feel that the
explanation would come later.

The whole party returned to the ranch on the twenty-sixth of August,
five days before the scouts were scheduled to start for home.

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