Marjorie Dean's Romanceñêà÷àòü êíèãó áåñïëàòíî
Leslie jerked out the final sentence of her tirade against Leila with angry force. Her face had darkened in the jealous way which invariably reminded Doris of the driving of thunder clouds across a graying sky.
“Miss Harper was impersonal in asking me to be in the play,” Doris defended. The sea shell pink in her cheeks had deepened perceptibly. “She dislikes me. I know she wants me in the cast because she thinks I’d be a feature. You see I’m the true Norse type. The heroine of the play is a Norse princess. I want to be in the play because I like to be in things. I’ll enjoy the praise and the excitement. I may go on the English stage when I have been graduated from Hamilton. My father would not object if I were to play in a high class London company.”
“The same old Goldie who cares for nobody but herself.” Leslie gave vent to a sarcastic little snicker. “Why not take up with Bean, too?”
“Oh, Leslie, don’t be hateful,” Doris said with an air of resigned patience. “You know I detest Miss Dean. Nothing could induce me to take up with her. It’s different with Miss Harper. She’s not American, you know. She is so cosmopolitan in manner. She is really more my own style. But, of course, she’s hopelessly devoted to that Sanford crowd of girls.”
“Don’t mention Sanford to me. I hate the name of that collection of one-story huts,” Leslie exploded fiercely. “You ought to detest Bean, considering the way she has treated me. If she had been half as square as she pretends to be she would have put the kibosh on old Graham, just like that, when he began hiring my men away from my architects. My father said the whole business was a disgrace. He said there was no use in my trying to buck against an institution. That’s what Bean’s pull amounts to. She has both Prexy and that ancient Hamilton relict to back her.”
“If Miss Dean knew that her architect was hiring your men away from your architects, and ignored the fact for her own business interests then she must be thoroughly dishonorable,” Doris said flatly.
“If – if – There you go,” sputtered Leslie, wagging her head, her shaggy eye-brows drawn together. “No ‘if’ about it. She knew. You talk as though you wanted to believe her honorable. Well, she isn’t, never was; never will be. It makes me furious to think that she should go nipping around the campus as a college arc light while I wasn’t even allowed a look at a sheepskin. Too bad I couldn’t have learned some of her pretty little dodges. I’d have been able to slide out of the hazing racket. I’ll tell you something you don’t know. Bean could have helped us when the Board sent for her by refusing to go to Hamilton Hall to the inquiry. Not Bean. She went, and made such a fuss about pretending she didn’t care to talk that it made us appear ten times as much to blame as we really were.”
“If – ” Doris hastily checked herself. “She seems to have tried her best to down you, Leslie. But, why?” Her green eyes directed themselves upon Leslie with a disconcerting steadiness.
Leslie gave a short laugh.
“I used to ask myself that,” she replied with a sarcastic straightening of her lips. “Now I understand her better. She was jealous and wanted to be the whole show, all the time. She is deep as a well. Take my word for it. I know her better than I wish I knew her.” She shook her head with slow effective regret.
“I’ll surely remember what you’ve said about her.” Doris meant what she said. She had been distinctly shocked at both instances which Leslie had cited of Marjorie Dean’s treachery. What she desired most now was that Leslie should drop the discussion of her grievances.
This Leslie was not ready to do. She continued on the depressing topic for several more minutes. Then she began asking Doris questions concerning the subject of Brooke Hamilton’s biography. Doris knew only what she had already imparted to Leslie concerning it.
“None of the students know the details concerning it except Miss – I mean, the Travelers,” she finally said desperately. She stopped short of mentioning Marjorie’s name again. She did not care to start Leslie anew. “I imagine there really isn’t much else to know besides what I’ve already told you.”
“Don’t you ever believe it,” was the skeptical retort. “But I don’t blame you, Goldie, for what you don’t know.”
“Thank you.” Doris shrugged satiric gratitude. Glad to turn the conversation into a lighter strain she continued gaily: “We’re soon going to have a general lark on the campus. The whole college crowd is to be in it. It’s to be a ‘Rustic Romp.’ One-half of the girls are to dress up as country maids; the other half as country swains. In order to be sure of an even number of couples each student has to register her choice as maid or swain. If not enough girls register as swains then some of the maids will have to change their minds and do duty as gallants. Miss Evans, a rather nice senior, has charge of the registration. And it’s to be a masquerade!” Doris’s exclamation contained pleased anticipation.
“Wonderful.” Leslie chose to be derisive. Underneath envious interest prompted her to ask; “Whose fond, fertile flight of foolishness was that? Mickie Harper’s or Pudge and Beans?”
“I don’t know whose inspiration it was. Probably the seniors had the most to do with it.” Doris again steered the talk toward peaceful channels.
“Hm-m.” Leslie glanced at Doris, then at the luncheon which the waitress was now placing before them on the table. She gazed abstractedly at the appetizing repast. Her eyes traveled slowly back to Doris. Suddenly she broke into one of her fits of silent, hob-goblin merriment. “I think I’ll attend that hayseed carnival myself,” she announced in a tone of defiant boldness.
CLAIMING A PROMISE
“What do you mean?” Slightly mystified for an instant it then broke upon Doris that Leslie was in earnest. She was actually entertaining a wild idea of attending the coming romp behind the shelter of a mask. “You couldn’t do that – er – it would be – unwise,” she stammered. Dismay flashed into her green eyes.
“Why couldn’t I?” The question vibrated with obstinacy. “Who except you would know me?”
“U-m-m; no one would know you while you were masked, I suppose. When it came time to unmask – ”
“I’d not be in the gym at unmasking time,” Leslie interrupted decisively. “I’d be out of that barn and away before the signal came to unmask.”
Doris eyed Leslie doubtfully. Her first shock of dismay at the announcement had subsided. She was still swayed by caution as she said slowly: “It would be awfully risky for you. At the Valentine masquerade no one knew when the call to unmask was coming. That’s the way it will be at the romp.”
“At the Valentine masquerade when I was at Hamilton the time for unmasking was nine-thirty.” The corners of Leslie’s wide mouth took on an ugly droop.
“I know that is the way it used to be,” Doris hastily re-assured. “At the last masquerade the freshies asked the junior committee to make the unmasking time a surprise. It proved to be a lot of fun. It will be done again this time. I’m almost sure it will.”
“What if it should be? Don’t imagine that I can’t watch my step. I’d not be caught.”
“Suppose you were dancing when the call to unmask came? You’d have to leave your partner instantly and run like a deer for the door. Suppose you were caught on the way to the door and unmasked by a crowd of girls? The freshies are terrors at that sort of thing. They are always out for tom-boy fun. You’d not care to have such an embarrassing thing happen to you.” Doris chose to present to Leslie a plain supposition of what might happen to her as an uninvited masker at the romp.
“Leave it to me to make a clever get-away,” was Leslie’s boast. “I’d be safe for five or six dances. That would be as long as I’d care to stay in the gym. It’s wearing a hayrick costume that strikes me as having some pep to it. The adventure of breaking into the knowledge shop and enjoying myself under the noses of Prigville, without any of the inhabitants knowing who I am, appeals to me.”
Unwittingly she had appealed to the side of Doris most in sympathy with her bold plan. Doris had been born and bred to understanding and approval of adventure. “I understand the way you feel about it, Leslie,” she began. “If I were certain that – ”
“Oh, forget that I mentioned dressing up to you!” Leslie exclaimed with savage impatience. “You’ve said more than once that you’d be pleased to do anything you could for me, at any time. I thought you would help me a little to play this joke on Prigville. Never mind. I’ll ask only one thing of you. If you should happen to recognize me on the night of the haytime hobble, kindly don’t publish it among the prigs.”
“Leslie.” Doris put dignified reproach into the response. “You know I would never betray you. I’m perfectly willing to help you carry out your plan, provided there’s no danger to either of us in it.”
“Danger of what?” came the sarcastic question. “No danger to you. Let me do a little supposing. Suppose we went together to the gym; you as a maid, and I as your swain. Suppose I failed to make a get-away and was unmasked by a bunch of smart Alecs. I’d probably not be near you when the signal came to unmask. I’d not bother you after the grand march. There’d be so many hey Rubes in the gym no one would remember our coming in together. That lets you out, doesn’t it? You should falter. Have a heart, Goldie!” Leslie had grown satirically persuasive.
Doris sat studying the situation in silence. She had colored afresh at Leslie’s pointed inference that she was more concerned for her own security from possible mishap at the romp than for that of Leslie herself. She hated the sarcastic reminder flung at her by Leslie that she had promised a favor on demand and was now not willing to keep her word. As Leslie had presented the situation to her there could be no risk to her. Leslie was more than able to look out for her own interests. To help Leslie now meant not only the keeping of her promise. It was a singularly easy way of keeping it.
“I’d rather you’d turn me down now than next year,” Leslie sneered as Doris continued silent.
“I’ll help you, Leslie.” Doris spoke stiffly, ignoring her disgruntled companion’s sneer.
“Come again.” Leslie cupped an ear with her hand, mockery in the gesture, but triumph in her small dark eyes.
“I said I would help you.” Doris repeated her first statement in an even stiffer tone. She would not permit Leslie to break down her poise.
“Good for you. You won’t be sorry. Help me to put over this stunt on Prigville and I’ll give you the Dazzler for your own.” Leslie was buoyantly generous in her delight at having gained her own way.
“I don’t want any such reward. That’s just the trouble with you, Leslie. You are always offering me so much more than I can ever return. I wish you were going to the dance, to stay all evening and have a good time with the others.” Doris sincerely meant the wish.
“You know whose fault it is that I can’t.” Leslie shrugged significantly. “Now I must plan my costume.” She straightened in her chair with a faint sigh. “I’ll sport blue overalls, a brown and red gingham shirt, large plaid, with no collar; a turkey-red cotton hankie, a big floppy hayseed hat and a striped umbrella.” She chuckled as she enumerated these items of costume.
“I had thought seriously of going as a swain, but decided against it. I’d rather look pretty. I have a certain reputation to keep up on the campus. I’d prefer not to caricature myself.”
“You make me smile, Goldie. How you worship that precious beauty reputation of yours! You may be right about it. I presume you are.”
Leslie’s rugged face grew momentarily downcast. She was thinking morosely that if, like Doris, she had been half as careful in whom she trusted and to what risks she lent herself when at Hamilton she might have escaped disgrace.
“I know I am.” Doris was emphatical. She noted the gloomy change in Leslie’s features and understood partly what had occasioned it. Those four words, “I presume you are,” made more impression on Doris than any other reference to her college trouble or against Marjorie Dean, which she had ever before heard Leslie make. It held a compelling, resigned inference of unfair treatment at the hands of others. Those others were of course Miss Dean and her friends. Doris allowed herself to jump to that conclusion. She had fostered jealous disdain of Marjorie until it had become antipathy. She knew Leslie’s faults, but she chose to overlook them. She had sometimes regarded Leslie’s accusations against “Bean” as overdrawn. Now she felt more in sympathy with Leslie’s standing grudge against Marjorie Dean than at any time since she had known Leslie.
A RUSTIC DISASTER
The evening of April eleventh saw Hamilton campus in the possession of a social throng, large, rural and hilarious. The spring twilight was scarcely ready to drop faint lavender shades over departed day when from the various student houses on the big green issued veritable country bumpkins in festival attire. They appeared singly, in twos, threes, quartettes and straggling groups.
Fortunately for the rovingly-inclined bands of rural pleasure-seekers the night was warm and balmy. In the mild fragrant spring air, the giggling maids flaunted their bright calicos and ginghams, unhidden in their cotton glory by shawl, coat or cape.
The gallant swains who dotingly accompanied the flower-hatted or sun-bonneted, aproned ladies were a sturdy, rugged-looking lot in their blue or brown overalls, flannel or gingham shirts, brilliant cotton neck handkerchiefs and wide-brimmed straw field hats or weather-stained sombreros. A few ambitious rustic youths had appeared in their own fond weird conception of party attire. They were amazing and wonderful to behold.
“These happy hecks at Hamilton certainly have small feet,” remarked a stocky rustic in a faded pink gingham shirt, a blue and white checked overall, broad, square-toed low shoes, a bright green neckerchief and a narrow-rimmed, round straw hat with a hole in the crown through which a lock of brown hair appeared, standing straight up. The accompanying mask was a round false face with very red cheeks and high arching brows.
“Well, they can’t help it. If they hide ’em with brogans how can they dance with the lady hecks?” demanded a tall bumpkin in what he was now proudly exhibiting on the campus as “my horse clothes.”
“Te, he he,” giggled the stocky rustic. “Truly, Muriel Harding, I never saw you look so funny before in all my life.”
“Sh-h-h, Jeremiah. I don’t know how you knew me. Since you do, keep it dark. Some horse clothes! Have one of my cards.” Muriel handed Jerry a correspondence card in a violent shade of pink. In the center of it was written: “Horsefield Hanks, Jockey and Post Master, Jayville.”
Jerry continued to giggle at Horsefield Hanks’ gala adornment. It consisted of a bright blue flannel shirt, a broad red leather belt, baggy brown trousers tucked into a pair of boot-modeled goloshes, a rusty black cutaway coat and a red and white striped jockey cap with a wide front peak. The mask was a false face of particularly ferocious expression. To look at Horsefield Hanks was not only to laugh. It was a signal to keep on laughing.
“Where is Marjorie?” Muriel inquired as she turned from bending a killing glance upon two hurrying maids, evidently intent on joining their swains. The two called a mirthful: “Hello, sweetness. Where did your face grow?” and whisked on their way.
“Gone over to the Hall to meet Robin. She has on a fine check yellow and white gingham dress trimmed with little yellow ruffles, white stockings and slippers and a white ruffled organdie hat with long yellow ribbon strings.”
“I’ll certainly know her if I see her. Vera is too cute for words. She has two overalls on, one over the other, to make her look fat. They’re blue and her blouse is white. She has a black alpaca coat on, too. She managed to get hold of a funny little pair of copper-toed boots. She has built them up inside until she is at least three inches taller. She won’t be easily recognized.” Muriel rattled off the description in a low laughing voice. “Ronny has on a pale blue calico. It comes down to her heels. She has black slippers and stockings, a ruffled blue sunbonnet and a white kerchief folded across her shoulders. Lucy’s dressed in the same style except her dress is lavender. Leila is a maid, but I haven’t been able to pick her out yet. Now how in the world did you know that I was I?” Muriel demanded.
“I knew the most ridiculous costume I saw would be yours,” chuckled Jerry. “You’re so funny, you’re positively idiotic.”
“Then I’m likely to win the prize for having the funniest costume. Won’t that be nice? Come on, Hayfoot, that’s what you look like. Let’s go out in the world and hunt up Strawfoot. I presume we’ll be mobbed before we’ve gone far for not having our rustic maids along with us. Anyhow let’s brave the jays and jayesses as long as we can.” Muriel politely offered Jerry an arm. “I’m to meet Candace Oliver at seven-thirty at the Bean holder. I’m a gentleman jockey of leisure until then. The post office was closed early today. Jayville will have to wait for its mail.”
The gallant pair had not proceeded fifty feet from their reconnoitering place before they were surrounded by a crowd of swains and maids and rushed over the green as prisoners to be apportioned to the first two swainless maids the company chanced to encounter.
Meanwhile a rustic gentleman in wearing apparel becoming to one of his lowly station had just made a very stealthy entrance to the campus from the extreme eastern gates. He had cautiously stepped from a smart black roadster which was parked a little way from the gates, but well off the highway. Before he had ventured to step from the car he had left the steering seat and disappeared into the tonneau of the machine, then simply a motorist in a voluminous leather motor coat, goggles and a leather cap.
From the back of the car had presently emerged a typical jay in blue overalls, and a loud-plaided, collarless, gingham shirt of green, blue and red mixture. He wore a turkey-red handkerchief, knotted about the neck, an immense flopping hat of yellowish straw, white socks and carpet slippers with worsted embroidered fronts. In one hand he clutched firmly a huge red and yellow striped umbrella. The mask, which Leslie had ordered sent to her from New York, was a very pink and white face, utterly insipid, with three flat golden curls pasted on the low forehead. Its expression, one of cheerful idiocy, was as distinctly as mirth-inspiring as was the fierce face of Horsefield Hanks. In fact it would have been hard to decide which of the two get-ups was the funnier.
One swift glance about her to assure herself of a clear coast and Leslie made a dash for the campus gates. She was through the gateway in a twinkling. She did not stop until she had put a little distance between herself and the gates. Then she paused, turned, critically surveyed the highway, the portion of the campus immediate to her and lastly her car. She was hardly content to leave it there, but there was no other way. It was well out of the path of other machines, either coming or going on the pike. She could but hope that no one would make off with it. She reflected with a wry smile that there were still a few more cars to be bought, though she might happen to lose that one. As usual she was prepared to pay lavishly for her fun.
She hurried straight on across the campus past Silverton Hall and in the direction of Acasia House. It was the most remote from the gymnasium of all the campus houses. She and Doris had agreed to meet there, making the appointment late enough to miss Acasia House rustics when they should set out for the gymnasium. Doris had telephoned her that afternoon and made the final arrangement for their rendezvous. They were to meet behind a huge clump of lilac bushes just budding into leaf.
As she came abreast of the lilac bushes a dainty figure in white dimity, imprinted with bunches of violets stepped forth to meet her. Doris’s charming frock had a wide dimity sash and her dimity hat, trimmed with bunches of silk violets, had long violet ribbon strings. She wore flat-heeled black kid slippers and white silk stockings of which only a glimpse showed beneath her long gown.
One look at Leslie’s inane false face and she burst into laughter. “Such a face!” she gasped mirthfully. “The funniest one I’ve seen since I left the Hall tonight.”
Leslie lifted the spreading hat and disclosed to Doris a yellow wig which matched the curls pasted to her mask. “My face is my fortune,” she announced humorously.
“It’s too funny for words. I’m almost afraid we may be rushed.” Doris cast an anxious glance at the not far distant crowd.
“Am I so funny as all that?” Leslie asked in gratification.
“You are quite extraordinarily funny,” Doris assured. “The crowd on the campus has been going it strong ever since dinner. They’re awfully frisky. Once they get into the gym they’ll be wanting to dance. Then we won’t be in danger. There’s to be a prize given for the funniest costume. Too bad you can’t stay in the gym long enough to win it.”ñêà÷àòü êíèãó áåñïëàòíî
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