“Oh, I can draw the different characters as they ought to look. Leila can show me the style of costume to be followed by the actors. I’ll draw each character once, leaving out the features till I know who will be who. Then I can fill in the blanks with the familiar eyes, noses, mouths and ears of the illustrious cast. After that it will only mean hours and hours of tedious copying my originals.” Vera made a triumphant outspreading gesture of the arms indicative of her mastery of the situation.
“How we do miss Ethel Laird,” sighed Ronny. “She was so clever. Do you remember how gorgeous those posters for the first show were that she painted. What became of them, Marvelous Manager?” She looked quickly toward Marjorie as though seized with a sudden idea.
“They’re with the other properties in the Page and Dean section of the garret,” Marjorie replied. “At least they were still there the last time I was up garret. That was after the Valentine masquerade. What is it, Ronny? I see you have something on your mind.”
“Let’s have an auction,” eagerly proposed Ronny.
“Not now; not until the first of June. We could clear up all the stuff we have used for advertising the shows, and other treasures of our own that have campus history, and auction them off. Let Jerry be the auctioneer. Oh, lovely! What?”
“Oh, lovely,” mimicked Jerry. “There is nothing very lovely about hard labor.”
“No use in pretending, Jeremiah. You know you’d revel in being an auctioneer.” Ronny shook her finger at Jerry.
“I’ve heard of worse stunts,” Jerry admitted with a grin.
“I have nearly as good an opinion of you, Ronny, as I have of myself,” Leila graciously conceded. “You and Jeremiah have my permission to manage the auction. You may collect all the wares for it, and do all the work. Between times, when you have little to do, you may dance in my shows.”
“Your shows?” Ronny’s eyebrows ascended to a politely satiric height.
“My shows,” repeated Leila with great firmness. “Have you not yet learned that Page and Dean amount to little without me. It is Harper and Harper who should have all the credit.”
“Right-o!” exclaimed Marjorie and Robin exactly together.
“Now why did you agree with me?” Leila demanded, her tone full of innocent Celtic surprise. “That was merely one of my Celtic jests.”
“‘Many a true word,’ you know,” cited Robin.
“We’ll make you senior partner in the firm, Leila Greatheart,” was Marjorie’s generous proposal. “Harper, Page and Dean has a fine, dignified sound.”
“Away with you!” Leila waved off the suggestion. “I am deaf to such a sound. Say no more, or I shall fly into one of my fierce frenzies. Now I am here not to rage, but to keep Midget in order, and conduct this meeting.”
“In order?” Vera interrogated in an awful voice. “Kindly state when I have been out of order since this go-as-you-please session began.”
“Not at all, Midget; not at all – as yet,” Leila laid significant stress on “as yet.” “So we may hope for the best and change the subject,” she hastily added.
“It’s high time it was changed,” Vera said loftily.
Leila turned comical eyes upon the company.
“Where did you collect the nerve to ask that ask?” Jerry admiringly demanded of Leila, following the shout of surprise from the others.
“I have nerve for any occasion,” was the modest reply.
“I believe you. What did the Ice Queen say to you, or was she too icily iced for words? I get you that she must have made a ‘yes’ sign, in spite of her freezing frozenness.”
“She said ‘yes.’ I went straight to the point with plenty of coolness in my own sweet Irish voice,” Leila answered with a touch of grimness. “She loves to be a center of attraction. I have a good idea of her beauty and cleverness. She knows that. We made the bargain like two veterans. She does not wish for my friendship. I can live without hers. We have in Ireland our own proverb of fair exchange. It is: ‘To exchange needs with your neighbor is nothing lost to him or you.’”
“In this instance it is everything gained,” Marjorie blithely asserted. “You are the same old wonder, Leila Greatheart. I must make a list of these coming attractions now.” She opened the small blue leather notebook which she was seldom without now wherever she happened to go on the campus. She wrote busily for a little, oblivious of the murmur of discussion going on around her.
“Three sure-fire attractions,” she exulted, as she presently glanced up from her notebook.
“I’ve something to report, too. I’ve at last persuaded Miss Oliver to let us feature her in a musicale in Greek Hall. It’s to come off a week from Friday evening.” Robin’s announcement was touched with pride.
It was the signal for another little burst of surprise. While Candace Oliver, the freshman musical genius who one of the Craig Hall girls had discovered, had on several occasions reluctantly played for Robin and a few other admiring students, she had steadily refused to appear on the college stage as a pianiste.
“Another obstacle surmounted. How did you do it? I thought I was too persuasive to be resisted, but she turned me down,” commented Muriel.
“Oh, I asked her to let us feature her, every time I met her. I used all the nice pleasant arguments I could think of but without effect. The other day I happened to meet her at Baretti’s. I introduced Signor Baretti to her. I was sitting at the same table with her and Baretti came up, as always, to speak to me. He only stayed a minute, but in that minute I remarked to him that Miss Oliver was a wonderful pianiste. He looked truly impressed and said in his odd way: ‘I like hear you play som’time. When you play in Miss Page, Miss Dean’s show, for help the dormitory. Miss Page, you come tell me when Miss Ol-ee-var play.’ I smiled at Miss Oliver. She had turned red as a poppy. Then I said, sweet as cream: ‘I surely will let you know, Signor Baretti.’”
“What did she say?” Ronny voiced the question that stood in six pairs of bright eyes.
“Oh, he trotted off just then, and I didn’t give her time to say a word. I began telling her about him and how sincere his interest in the dormitory was, and how he had fought for Page and Dean, and how altogether great-spirited he was. She listened without saying much. She was half through luncheon when I sat down at her table. She left the restaurant as soon as she had finished her dessert. Next day I received a four line note from her. She said in it that she had changed her mind about not being featured at a musicale. ‘I wish to do my part to help the dorm’ girls,’ was the line that made Robin execute a hornpipe.”
“The infallible Guiseppe again to the rescue,” Vera said lightly, yet with a certain pleased intonation which expressed the appreciation underlying it.
“Attraction number four.” Amid the gratified murmur which followed Robin’s recital, Marjorie set down the musicale in her book. “What is Miss Oliver’s program, Robin? Of course you’ve seen her since you received her note.” Marjorie knew that Robin was sure of her prize.
“Three Chopin numbers and Beethoven’s ‘Sonata Appassionata.’ Phil is going to play one of Brahm’s Hungarian dances and Jensen’s ‘Romance.’ Verna Burkett is going to sing. She has a glorious contralto voice, and Reba Hoffman, that little blonde German dorm will give a ’cello number. I am anxious to exploit dorm talent, too. It’s going to be a hummer of a program. I think we ought to charge two dollars apiece for the tickets, the same as we charge for our revues. What do you think about it, Marjorie?” Robin earnestly consulted her partner. “You know we only charged a dollar and a half for tickets for the last musicale.”
“I don’t believe two dollars a seat will be considered robbery. We always reserve free seats for the dormitory girls at all the shows. The other Hamiltonites can afford to pay two dollars apiece for the kind of entertainment we shall offer. They’d have to pay from two to three dollars apiece for good seats at a special benefit musicale wherever they might go,” was Marjorie’s candid reply. “I don’t wish to seem priggish, but they could spend their allowance checks for no better cause.”
“True as truth, good partner,” Robin agreed, with a saucy little nod. “Oh, dear,” she changed to plaintive in a twinkling. “I wish we might use the Hamilton Concert Hall for the musicale. Think of the money we’d take in. Greek Hall is hardly more than half as large.”
“Why can’t you use it?” asked Lucy Warner with crisp suddenness.
“No one has the nerve to ask Prexy for the use of it, my child.” Vera bent a benign glance upon Lucy which contrasted oddly with her doll-like daintiness.
“Why not?” Lucy persisted.
“Prexy has yet to come to one of our shows, Luciferous,” Marjorie said quietly. “We’ve always sent him tickets, and Mrs. Prexy and her friends have come to them. But he never has. He approves of the dormitory enterprise. He has been friendly with me on all occasions, but – ” Marjorie smiled – “he never appears at our revues.”
“It’s the one thorn on Page and Dean’s rosebush,” laughed Robin. “Besides, Luciferous, we’ve never felt like trying to break into the regular college lecture and concert programs with our shows. It’s more a matter of deference than anything else. If he had ever offered the hall to us, we’d have accepted the offer instanter. But he never has.”
“I believe it never occurred to him,” Lucy said bluntly. “I wish I’d known long ago. I’ll ask him tomorrow for the use of it.”
“Lu-ciferous!” Muriel beamed on Lucy with a radiance too joyous to be genuine. “You deserve a citation. That is you will deserve one if you put the Prexy problem across. Do so, and I will cite your good conduct tomorrow evening in this very room at precisely seven o’clock. You will receive a tin star, three whacks on the shoulder and a ticket to the Hamilton Movie Palace. Popcorn and pink lemonade will be served to all.” Muriel effulgently included the rest of the party in the generous invitation.
The next five minutes were spent in jubilantly rushing Lucy. She received approving pats on the shoulders, pats on the back and pats on the head. Each Traveler tried to outdo the other in contributing funnily approving remarks. Muriel smilingly proposed raising Lucy to Jerry’s and her shoulders and parading about the room with her. Jerry and Lucy both had strong objections to the honor walk.
“I wouldn’t trust either of you to carry me two feet,” Lucy declared mirthfully. “Now never mind rushing me further. Leila beguiled us here with the promise of hearing something extraordinary. I have yet to hear it.”
“So I did.” Leila surveyed the Travelers, whose attention had quickly returned to her, her bright blue eyes asparkle. “Now this is what I have to say.”
As she laid her plan before her chums, a constant chorus of gurgles, giggles and chuckles accompanied her words. The instant she paused Jerry raised a not too loud cheer of approbation which the others echoed.
“I am indebted to you, Matchless Muriel, for suggesting the proper kind of refreshments. You may believe that popcorn and pink lemonade will be served at our party along with gum drops and peppermint sticks. I had not yet thought of the eats until you spoke. Now I shall get up a fine spread.” Leila’s tone conveyed her deep satisfaction.
“It will be oceans of fun.” Muriel had already begun to laugh as she thought of what her part in the event should be.
“The gentlemen of the campus may have to hunt diligently for suitable wardrobe. I shall see about mine at once.” Vera giggled softly.
Her naive remark was the signal for a fresh explosion of mirth. In a room further along the hall a girl moodily rested her pen to listen to the breath of laughter wafted faintly to her through walls and closed doors. Doris Monroe tried to frown at the distant sounds of harmonious comradeship. She found that she was not angry. She was despondent because she was lonely. She was beginning to glimpse a side of college life, wholly desirable, but, unfortunately for her, beyond her reach.
Doris Monroe had seen Marjorie and Jerry in the dining room of Wayland Hall that evening. She knew the Travelers were holding a social session in Leila’s and Vera’s room and somberly envied them their fun. Things had been distressingly dull for her since her return from the holiday vacation spent with Leslie Cairns in New York.
She had thoroughly enjoyed herself in New York after Mrs. Gaylord, Leslie’s chaperon, had appeared at the Essenden, the apartment hotel in which Leslie had engaged the Dresden suite of rooms. Leslie, too, had been more agreeable during that short, blissful two weeks of fine dressing, expensive dinners, luncheons and theatres than Doris had known her to be either before or since the vacation.
The few times she had been in Leslie’s company after their return to Hamilton, Leslie had been preoccupied, irritable and altogether unpleasant. She had been so patently uncongenial that Doris had preferred to keep away from her on the plea of study. This plea was at least sound. Doris had had her hands full for a time in trying to stave off being conditioned in mathematics.
She had known nothing of Leslie’s downfall as a business woman. It was at least three weeks after Leslie had reluctantly obeyed her father’s mandate and left Hamilton for New York before she had written Doris a letter from an apartment on Central Park West which Mrs. Gaylord had secured for the two as a residence.
In the letter Leslie had stated that she would return to Hamilton for a few days early in April. She had not, however, explained her sudden departure, nor had she mentioned the disruption of her garage enterprise. Doris had answered the letter, feeling secretly relieved that Leslie was not in Hamilton. She had a shrewd idea that Leslie’s father might be responsible for Leslie’s return to New York. She had heard enough of the conversation between Leslie and her chaperon on the occasion, when Mrs. Gaylord had arrived unexpectedly at the Essenden, to guess that Leslie and her father were not on very congenial terms.
Leslie had left Doris the Dazzler, the white car she was so fond of driving. She had said nothing in her letter about it, nor had she mentioned the sum of money which she had placed to Doris’s account in a Hamilton bank. Doris had not yet been able to return the seventy-five dollars she had drawn of the five hundred Leslie had placed in bank to her credit. She was resolved on doing so before the close of college in June. Selfishly indifferent and indifferently selfish though she was she had a certain standard of honor. She had not ceased to regret having allowed Leslie to bank the five hundred dollars to her account.
Doris was not so anxious to return the Dazzler to Leslie. True she had no expectation of keeping it indefinitely. She hoped, however, that Leslie would allow her to use it until the close of college. She was able to pay for its up-keep from her allowance. Though she cared little for the freshies and sophs who made much of her, she frequently took one or more of them with her on her drives in the white car. Secretly she preferred her own company to theirs. She regarded them as more or less “silly” and continued to accept their adoration with bored sweetness.
Unwillingly she had discovered in herself a growing interest for the Travelers. Her keen perception could not fail to show her their undeniable claim to originality and cleverness. She admired, even liked Muriel, to whom she had, however, not spoken since before Christmas. Before their misunderstanding she had been on the verge of real fondness for Muriel. She now missed their former pleasant relation as roommates. At times she was tempted to lay aside her grievance and try to restore the old friendly footing.
Leila had approached Doris at the psychological moment. Doris was weary of being rushed by those for whom she entertained hardly more than casual interest. She had not the diversion of Leslie Cairns’ companionship. She had persistently turned “dig” to the extent of putting herself beyond the immediate fear of a condition in mathematics. She was therefore ready to entertain with secret pleasure Leila’s polite request for her appearance in “The Knight of the Northern Sun.” She was actually eager to take the part of Nageda, the Norseland princess.
Outwardly she showed herself as coolly business-like as Leila during their brief interview. After she and Leila had separated she experienced a half sad regret because she appeared to be so thoroughly “out of it” with clever Miss Harper. She was sure Miss Harper cared nothing about her personally. She merely regarded her as a student; one best suited to play the part of Nageda.
“The Knight of the Northern Sun” was to be given on the evening of April thirtieth. It would be presented at least three weeks in advance of Leila’s Irish play. The Candace Oliver musicale was to take place on the evening of April fourth. On the night of April eleventh Leila’s “great idea” would furnish the entire college body of students with an evening’s fun.
Such was the program the Travelers drew up. After the meeting came the usual spread, eaten in high spirits. Marjorie, Robin and Jerry stole downstairs several minutes after inexorable old ten-thirty had shrilled its loud emphatic nightly command for retiring. Very quietly the trio let themselves out the front door into the moonlight.
Marjorie and Jerry gallantly offered themselves as Robin’s escorts across the moonlit campus to Silverton Hall. They took hold of her arms and paraded her between them, expatiating to her as they rushed her along at a hiking stride, on the value of their company. In front of Silverton Hall they lingered briefly for a last animated exchange of laughing pleasantries, then Jerry and Marjorie turned their steps toward the entrance at the east end of the campus which gave on the pike toward Hamilton Estates.
“It seems strange to be walking out of the campus gates at this time of night.” Marjorie made this light observation as the two Travelers stepped from the college premises and out upon Hamilton Pike.
“We’re enchanted, you know. We broke the spell for a little while this evening. There’s the enchanted trail back to the good fairy’s castle.” Jerry pointed to the pike, shining and white under the moon’s clear, burning lamp. “That’s the way I’ve felt most of the time since we settled ourselves at the Arms.”
“So have I. It’s not only Hamilton Arms that seems enchanted. Hamilton Estates is like a fairy-tale kingdom,” Marjorie added to Jerry’s fancy.
“The Kingdom of Castles,” Jerry instantly supplied. “And in the heart of the kingdom dwelt Goldendede, a fairy empress.”
As they continued on their way to the Arms the pair amused themselves with the weaving of a fairy tale about Miss Susanna, Hamilton Estates and themselves as willing victims of enchantment.
“Bing! that nearly shattered the enchantment,” grumbled Jerry as an automobile whisked past them from the direction in which they had come. “There’s nothing fairy-like about a buzz-buggy. That particular one butted into our fairy tale and reu-ined it.”
“Never mind. You’ve been truly inspired since we left the campus tonight, Jeremiah,” Marjorie consoled. “Goldendede is a beautiful name for Miss Susanna. The Kingdom of Castles exactly suits Hamilton Estates. You couldn’t have named this aloof collection of turreted gabled houses better.”
“That’s higher commendation than you ever gave the Bean Jingles. It makes up for your sad lack of appreciation of those gems. I am so mollified, Bean!” Jerry fairly purred gratification.
“I’d appreciate your art of jingling more, Jeremiah, if it were addressed to someone else. Leila or Ronny or Vera Jingles would be less personal.”
“You have a grudge against your charming self, Bean,” was Jerry’s retort. “Forget it. Brooke Hamilton is to be celebrated in biography, why shouldn’t Marjorie Dean be celebrated in verse. The first is not greater than the last in her own little way. The – ”
“Say another word like that and I’ll run off and leave you in the enchanted dark.” Marjorie placed a light hand over Jerry’s lips.
Jerry gently removed the restraining fingers and gave them a friendly squeeze. She kept Marjorie’s hand in hers and the two walked on, arms swinging. “You’re a resplendent goose,” she said, “but you win. At least you do until the next time.”
“Jerry, did you notice Miss Susanna’s face today as she stood on the veranda waving to us?” Marjorie changed the subject with abruptness. “It was transfigured!”
“I noticed. I thought then that there could not be anything quite so wonderful as the return of happiness to a person who had been shut away from happiness as long as she had.” Jerry turned suddenly serious. “And you began it, Marvelous Manager. You were the leaven – ”