Marjorie Dean's Romanceñêà÷àòü êíèãó áåñïëàòíî
“It’s a gift basket which I stole from a leprechaun and in it is a magic charm for each and all. Be pleased to hold one hand behind your back when I give out the charms. Shut your fingers tight down on the charm so it can not vanish away. When I give the word you may look at them. Now be fair and do not peep at them until I give you the word.”
With this glib injunction Leila slid a hand into the basket and drew it out tightly closed about some small object. She ordered the company to stand in a circle, each with a hand behind her back.
“What is it?” cried Muriel as her hand received and tightly clutched the small smooth round object.
“Now you shall see how fond I am of you.” Leila had hurriedly given out the rest of the charms. “You may all look.”
A chorus of derisive groans mingled with laughter followed the gracious permission. Each Traveler had been presented with a small potato. Its new pale skin had been scrubbed to immaculate cleanness.
“A charming charm, I must say,” giggled Muriel. “Let’s forcibly lead the Celtic sorceress out on the campus and peg at her with these praties. If she isn’t hit by any of them we shall know that they are either bewitched or else we can’t throw straight.”
In the midst of the fun her friends were having over Leila’s charms, remembrance of Leslie Cairns and her constrained flight from the scene of fun returned to Marjorie. She had sufficient cause to regard Leslie as an enemy, yet she did not hold her as such. Now she was feeling nothing but a kind regret that Leslie had barred herself out of Hamilton and all its pleasures. She decided that she would not tell even Jerry of the incident. Common sense whispered to her that Doris Monroe must have aided Leslie in the escapade. They had probably met on the campus and gone to the gymnasium together. Marjorie knit her brows in an effort to recall a dancing partner of Leslie’s. She herself had noticed and repeatedly laughed at the foolish-faced farmer before the collision with Leslie.
“What are you scowling about?” Jerry happened to note Marjorie’s puckered brows. “Let me sweeten your disposition by treating you to wintergreen lozenges and crimson lemonade.”
“I accept your generous offer. I hope you have money enough to treat lavishly,” Marjorie accepted Jerry with this pertinent hint, after having been affectionately jabbed in the side with Jerry’s elbow.
“I got cash,” Jerry boasted, thrusting her free hand into a pocket of her overalls. “I still got some ’o my Fourthy July money. I didn’t spend nothing that day hardly. It rained lickety whoop. Silas Pratt near got swept off the speaker’s stand a deliverin’ his Fourthy July ration. I heerd at the last the stand floated right off in the woods a carryin’ the Hamtown choir, Revern’d Skiggs and three boys as was sittn’ on the bottom steps of it.”
Marjorie and Jerry headed gaily for the lemonade stand calling back buoyant invitations to their friends to join them.
As they drew near the stand a girl turned away from it and glanced at them. She was golden-haired and lovely in her white dimity frock scattered thickly with violets. Neither Marjorie nor Jerry could do other than admire her and her becoming costume. The trio did not exchange salutations.
Doris Monroe had not spoken to Jerry more than once or twice since coming to Hamilton. She had not even bowed to Marjorie since her own refusal to go to Sanford with Muriel on a Christmas vacation. Now she stared at Marjorie’s costume, rather than at Marjorie herself, in dismayed fascination. She had made a discovery which was anything but pleasing to her.
A DISHEARTENING SITUATION
The discovery that Marjorie was the rustic maid in the pale yellow gingham gown who had accompanied Leslie Cairns to the door of the gymnasium was a distinct shock to Doris. Following the Rustic Romp she received a second jolt when Julia Peyton waylaid her on the campus to inform her triumphantly that she had something “very important to say about Miss Cairns.”
“Whatever it may be, say it now,” Doris commanded, keeping curiosity and interest well out of her tone. During the progression of her sophomore year she had grown to dislike Julia more and more. In the beginning she had tolerated resignedly Julia’s jealous preference for her society. Now she did not care whether either Julia or Clara Carter liked her or not.
“I couldn’t think of saying it now. I haven’t time. It’s something confidential.” Julia crested her black head importantly. Her black, moon-like eyes fixed themselves upon Doris in a mysterious stare.
“Now, or not at all.” Doris stood firm. “I’d prefer not to invite you to my room because of Miss Harding. I don’t like to go to yours. You and Miss Carter nearly always quarrel. It’s such a bore to listen to you.” She affected a weary expression.
Julia cast a frowning glance about her. She glanced hastily up at the clock tower and said doggedly: “I must go. I’ll meet you at the big green seat near the west side of the campus at five this afternoon. I have your welfare at heart, even though you don’t think so,” she flung this reproachfully at Doris. “I simply must speak to you about Miss Cairns.”
Doris knew nothing of Julia’s unfortunate fall over Leslie’s umbrella. She had gone outdoors after a spirited dancing number, in company with half a dozen merry masks, for a breath of the sweet spring air. The spill had occurred while she was outside. When she had returned she had been immediately claimed for the next dance. A little later while dancing she had caught sight of Leslie surrounded by hilarious maskers. She had hurried to extricate her from her difficulties as soon as the dance was over. She had then spied Leslie moving towards the vestibule door in company with the mask in yellow gingham. It filled her with an immeasurable relief to know that Leslie had, as she supposed, escaped discovery and was then on her way to leaving the frolic.
To learn soon afterward that Marjorie Dean had been Leslie’s companion to the door was not re-assuring. Her heart sank at the very thought until her first agitation had passed. She had recollected that, masked, Miss Dean might not have recognized Leslie. Leslie had promised not to talk. She and Marjorie were as strangers to each other; had been for some time. Doris could only marvel at the queer twist of fortune which had brought Leslie and Marjorie together. According to Leslie’s accounts the two were bitter enemies. Masked, they had paraded up the gymnasium together on apparently congenial terms.
This latest thought completely re-assured Doris. Of course they had not recognized each other! Knowingly, neither would have gone a step with the other. Leslie had undoubtedly managed to free herself from her partner before reaching the door. Directly after the unmasking Doris had skipped a dance purposely to make a careful search on the floor for Leslie. Leslie had disappeared, completely and satisfactorily.
Doris had not said to Julia Peyton whether or not she would meet her at the big green campus bench near the west entrance. She changed her mind about going half a dozen times before five o’clock came. She had expected to hear from Leslie on the telephone through the day. No call from Leslie came until a quarter to five that afternoon. The message was a fairly polite invitation from Leslie to drive to Orchard Inn to dinner. She agreed to meet Doris on Hamilton Pike in front of the central campus gates.
Since she had come downstairs to answer the telephone Doris decided to walk over to the campus bench and learn what Julia had to say about Leslie. She was to meet Leslie at half past five. She would not spend more than ten or fifteen minutes in Julia’s company. Since the romp was over, and nothing of mishap had occurred to Leslie on the frolicsome occasion, Doris was not inclined to borrow trouble over whatever Julia might have to say of Leslie.
“I’m glad you came.” Julia rolled her black eyes at Doris in an expression of spiteful satisfaction. “You must have some idea of what I have to say, after what happened last night.”
“I didn’t intend to come. I happened to be downstairs, so I changed my mind about meeting you. I do not know what you mean by saying ‘after what happened last night.’ How can I possibly know what you are going to say?” Doris asked the question with a suspicion of sarcasm in her tone.
“Are you pretending you don’t know what happened?” Julia asked offendedly. “Weren’t you on the floor most of the time before the unmasking?”
“Yes, but I saw nothing happen, either remarkable or dreadful. You told me this morning you had something to say to me about Miss Cairns. Whatever happened last night has nothing to do with her,” Doris said coldly.
“I don’t understand you at all, Doris,” Julia cried resentfully. “Didn’t you know that Miss Cairns tripped Miss Dean and me last night while we were dancing, and that we both fell?”
Doris shook her head in blank amazement. “I did not know,” she said very positively. “When did that happen? I went outdoors for a few minutes about two numbers before unmasking time. Was it then, I wonder?”
“Maybe it was. You admit then that Miss Cairns was in the gym,” was the triumphant return.
“I admit nothing.” Doris managed to keep up her cold composure. Anger gleamed in her green eyes.
“She was there, even if you won’t admit it. She behaved like a boor to me. She crashed into us like a locomotive and poked a miserable umbrella she carried squarely between our feet. How could we help but fall? I simply said I thought it wasn’t best for her to carry such a large umbrella on the dancing floor. You should have heard the insulting things she said to me, and to Miss Dean. She was in a terrible rage. I had all I could do to keep my temper.” Julia endeavored to look very superior.
Doris did not make the mistake of uttering a word. She purposed to hear Julia out before speaking. The sophomore was more than satisfied to be allowed to do all the talking.
“I knew it was Miss Cairns by her voice. I was so shocked. After she had abused us both she swaggered off down the room. Then my partner told me that she was Miss Dean. I was so surprised. She said we had best not tell anyone just then that Miss Cairns was on the floor – the best way to do was not to mention names, but to order her out of the gym quietly. She did that very thing herself. Just before the unmasking I saw Miss Dean walking Miss Cairns up the gym and to the vestibule door. In two or three minutes Miss Dean came back alone.” Julia gave out this information with malicious relish. “But that’s not all Miss Dean did. She played a trick on the whole college which I think very ignoble.” She paused to note the effect on Doris of this remarkable news.
“Go on,” Doris commanded with bored amusement. “Your tale of the Rustic Mask is growing interesting.”
“You may find it more so.” A dull angry red overspread Julia’s pasty-white complexion. “I haven’t come to your part in it yet.”
“No?” Doris smilingly tilted her golden head and raised polite brows.
“Miss Dean acted entirely against the traditions of Hamilton,” she continued sullenly. “She went straight to Jane Everest, who was detailed to blow the whistle for unmasking and asked her not to blow it until she, Miss Dean, gave her the signal. She told Jane why, too. She had asked me not to say a word to a soul about Miss Cairns.”
“How do you happen to know all this?” Doris asked in a quick sharp tone.
“I was with Miss Dean. I – er – I didn’t – I couldn’t get away from her just then. So I heard the whole thing.” Julia floundered briefly, but ended in triumph.
“What did Miss Everest say?”
“She said she would wait to blow it. I was so disgusted with them both for their disloyalty to tradition I simply turned and left them. You know, Doris, that Miss Dean had no business to ask Jane Everest to disobey the order of the senior dance committee. They had set the time for unmasking. It was very dishonorable for her to try to shield an expelled student who had taken advantage of the masquerade to trick her way into the gym. Miss Cairns couldn’t possibly ever again have hoped to take part in a college frolic after the way she left Hamilton. She was considered utterly lawless by the Board, Prexy and the faculty. I’ve heard volumes against her since I came to Hamilton.
“Miss Dean knows more against Miss Cairns, so I’ve been told, than any other student at Hamilton. She and Miss Cairns were rivals for popularity while Miss Cairns was on the campus. They used to play all sorts of dishonorable tricks upon each other, I suspect,” Julia eyed Doris darkly, “that Miss Dean didn’t have the – the – courage to expose Miss Cairns. It would take a person of very high principle to expose Miss Cairns openly on the floor of the gym, as she should have been exposed. I hope, for your sake, Miss Dean won’t tell her pals about it. If she does, it will soon be campus gossip.”
“Why for my sake?” Doris still refused to be included in Julia’s implications.
“It’s sweet in you to try to protect Miss Cairns, Doris, I honor you for it.” Julia said, her reply reeking acidity. “But you can’t deceive me. I know the farmer with the striped umbrella was Miss Cairns. I saw you go through the grand march and dance the first dance with her. I knew you by your walk and I came up close to you on purpose and took a good look at you to make sure. I know your emerald ring and I saw some of your hair fluffing out from under your hat.”
“I went through the grand march and danced the first number with a rustic swain,” Doris stated with deliberate coldness. “I did not see my partner’s face. Did you?”
“That’s not the point,” Julia evaded, stung to exasperation by her classmate’s cool reception of her revelation. “What I came here specially to tell you is that you had better not be seen going around with Miss Cairns. This story will travel, I feel sure. You’ll be severely criticized and dropped by most of the students. Even your good looks won’t save you. It was very inconsiderate and selfish of Miss Cairns to put you in such a risky position. She is certainly not your friend. The crowd last night was frisky. If the girls had had the least idea of whom she was they would have ripped off her mask, hooted her from the gym and maybe the campus. How would you have felt then?”
“I only know the way I feel now. I don’t like you, Miss Peyton, and I never have.” Doris chose to be drastically candid. “If a story such as you have just told me should go the round of the campus, I should not blame Miss Dean or Miss Everest for having started it. I should blame you. I intend to be silent. Let me give you a piece of advice. You had best be silent, too, about what you believe you know against Miss Cairns.”
THE TRUTH ABOUT “BEAN”
Doris had only time enough to hurry back to the Hall for her wraps before starting out again to meet Leslie. She did not regret her blunt words to Julia. The gossiping, jealous sophomore had deserved them. Doris had grown tired of Julia’s impudent interference into her personal affairs. This time Julia had gone too far. Doris had decided to drop her, oblivious of what the sophomore might afterward say of her. She believed sturdily that she could defend her own position at Hamilton.
“You certainly deserted me,” was Leslie’s greeting as Doris stepped into the roadster, parked at the central gates. “Last night, I mean,” she added with her slow smile.
“I never meant to,” Doris apologized. “You said you preferred to look out for yourself. I saw you in the middle of that crowd of freshies and was worried about you. By the time I could get free of my partner to go to you I saw you on the way out of the gym.”
“Thanks to little yellow gingham ruffles, Leslie Adoree broke away from the merry rustic scene with colors flying and her false face still on. I had a good time, though, while it lasted.”
“Did that unwieldy umbrella really trip a couple who were dancing?” Doris inquired abruptly. She was anxious to learn whether Julia had told her the truth in the matter.
“It really did.” Leslie’s face suddenly lost its half humorous expression. “One of them was a screech owl posing as a rustic youth. Her voice had a familiar sound. Still there are so many varieties of screech owl on the campus,” she ended sarcastically.
“The ‘screech owl’ was Miss Peyton. The other girl was – ”
“Miss Peyton. No wonder I felt like pitching in and fighting her while I had my farm togs on.” Leslie’s tone indicated her disgust. “She was outrageous, Goldie. I tried to stay dumb, but I couldn’t. I finally said two or three pithy things to her. Little yellow gingham ruffles was all right. She tried to keep us from fussing. Afterward she came down to where I was and walked me away from a gang who had been trying to rag me. She walked me up the gym to the vestibule door and joked with me all the way. She had on a pale yellow gingham dress with little yellow ruffles and a white hat with —
“What did she say to you, Leslie?” was Doris’s anxious interruption. “I mean when you reached the door.”
“That was the queer part. She knew me. I’m almost sure of it. She didn’t say a word about my going, but she knew I wanted to get out of the gym before unmasking. She went to the door with me to keep off trouble. She was a good sport; an upper class girl probably. Some one I may have met. I know a few juniors and seniors who were freshies and sophs when I was a senior.” Leslie gave an inaudible sigh. Last night’s frolic had brought back vividly the memory of her failure as a student.
“The girl in the yellow gingham ruffled dress was Miss Dean,” Doris said in a peculiar tone.
“What?” In her surprise Leslie allowed the roadster to run off the course on the pike she was keeping by several inches. She instantly brought the machine back to course. Apparently struck dumb, she leaned forward, staring interestedly at the road ahead. Just then she could think of nothing to say. Presently she found speech again.
“Yes, it was Bean,” she said dully. “I know it now. Why didn’t you come and walk me away from her when you saw us together?” Leslie demanded, her accent displeased.
“I didn’t know then that the mask you were with was Miss Dean. I didn’t know it until I saw her after the unmasking.”
“She did me a good turn.” Leslie stopped, her face reddening. It was the first time she had ever said a good word for Marjorie to any one. “How soon after I got away from the gym did the whistle blow?” she inquired soberly.
“Not more than two or three minutes. You got away just in time. I didn’t know about Miss Peyton and Miss Dean and the umbrella business until this afternoon. Miss Peyton told me. I must have been outside the gym when it happened. I was out on the campus with a crowd for a few minutes.”
Doris had wisely decided not to tell Leslie of what Julia Peyton had said. Julia was fond of telling her friends and classmates anything disagreeable which she might have heard of them. Doris abhorred the pernicious habit. Instead she began to quiz her companion about the umbrella mishap. She had a curiosity to know Julia Peyton’s exact part in it. She had not wholly credited the sophomore’s side of the story.
Leslie answered, at first rather abstractedly. Her mind was still centered on the “good turn” which “Bean” had done her. Presently she dropped into a humorous account of the accident which made Doris laugh. Julia had declared Leslie to be lawless and dishonorable. Doris wondered if it were really true of her. Leslie had treated her fairly. She began to believe she liked Leslie despite the latter’s occasional spells of domineering insolence. She made up her mind then and there to learn if she could the history of Leslie’s and Marjorie Dean’s enmity from its beginning.
Leslie’s account of the umbrella incident, humorous and truthful, differed considerably from that of Julia Peyton. Doris wondered if Julia had not also misrepresented matters to her about Muriel at Christmas time. Then she remembered regretfully that Muriel had admitted having said the very things which had offended her pride. In the present instance she chose to believe Leslie rather than Julia.
“Miss Harding won the prize for having the funniest costume,” Doris ended a little silent interval between the two girls. “She had on that ridiculous imitation of a riding costume. You remember we were laughing at her? The prize was a large jar of stick candy. Your costume was really funnier than hers. Your mask was so screamingly silly.”
“Bean said I had the funniest costume,” Leslie commented shortly. Her dark face grew darker as she sent the roadster speeding over the smooth pike. So it had been the girl she most disliked who had conducted her merrily and surely out of an embarrassing situation for which only herself was to blame. Her mind began suggesting petty spiteful reasons for Marjorie’s kindly act. She dismissed them in the instant of their birth. None of them were honest.
Only one conclusion remained to be drawn in the matter. Leslie faced it unwillingly. To give it credence meant the crashing down of all the carefully built-up cases against “Bean” which she had cherished for over four years. In spite of the wilful and malicious attempts she had made against Marjorie’s welfare and peace of mind, “Bean,” it now appeared, had no grudge against her.ñêà÷àòü êíèãó áåñïëàòíî
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