Chase Josephine.

Marjorie Dean, Marvelous Manager





CHAPTER XXIII
A SIGNIFICANT DISCOVERY

No, Beauty, I havent gone back on my word. How can you harbor such suspicions against a fine old Irish gentleman like myself? Such a regard as I have for you, yet you will doubt me. Leila Harper rolled reproachfully sentimental eyes at Marjorie. Since it is a Beauty contest you demand, your Celtic friend will rise to the occasion.

I wish youd rise soon then. Marjorie met Leilas effusive promise with a coaxing smile.

Name the day and the hour. Leila gave vent to a resigned groan, quite at variance with her fulsome mood of the moment before.

There you go. One minute you blow hot; the next cold. Marjorie shook an arraigning finger before Leilas face. Im going to take you at your word and name the day and hour. The day will be next Friday. The hour, eight P.M. The place, the gym, the promoters of the contest Marjorie paused with a dubious, questioning look toward Leila.

Aye, Beauty; theres the rub! Leila exclaimed. The contest ought to be pulled off by either the sophs or freshies. We P. G.s are beyond such trifling vanities. So some would be pleased to say we should be. Now we come to the reason why of things. Im wisely in favor of letting the sophs perpetrate the beauty walk.

My own opinion, Marjorie concurred. How would you turn it over to them and still manage it, Leila. I mean the details. Only you know how to manage a Beauty contest like the one you got up long ago.

Im going to be the power behind the throne and manage the contest through the Bertram girls, Leila made shrewd declaration. They are popular sophs. Besides they will do as I tell them. Theyll not spoil my fine arrangements. Leila favored Marjorie with a whimsical grin. Let me warn you, beforehand, Beauty. It will be dangerous for you to attend the contest.

Your warning is wasted. I shall sit in the gallery and watch the Beauty parade. Not because I imagine for a minute that I that I Marjorie stammered, growing suddenly rosy with confusion.

That you would certainly win it if you appeared on the gym floor, Leila finished with mischievous affability. No fair decorating the gallery, Beauty. Its a most important part you must play on the floor.

No, designing villain. You dragged me into one Beauty contest; but never again. She wagged a decisive head at Leila who merely continued to beam on her.

This time I have a fine plan for you, Leila continued, unabashed. You are to be one of the judges. Ill paint lines of age on your lovely face; give you a snow-white frizzy wig and a shapeless brown bag of a gown to wear. Even your captain could not pick you out as a Dean. Now tell me, am I not your devoted Irish friend? she demanded ingratiatingly.

Youre a jewel, Leila Greatheart. Marjories face grew radiant. The very thing Ill like best. Id forgotten all about the judges. Their were three of them at the other contest.

It seems ages since that night, doesnt it?

Leila nodded. Happy ages, she said, a soft light shining from her bright blue eyes. And you were not pleased with me that night, Beauty, for putting you in your rightful place on the campus.

No, I wasnt, Marjorie replied with smiling candor. I recall that I was almost angry with you. I thought you did it merely to nettle the Sans. I thought you were very clever, but I wasnt sure whether or not I truly liked you.

Ah, but I have won dozens of golden opinions from you, Beauty, since then. I will tell you something quite remarkable about myself. I am never disliked by a person who likes me. Leila made the statement with due impressiveness.

Ill tell you something else. Youre an affable old fake, and Ive been here just one-half hour longer than I intended to be. Marjorie rose from the chair she had been occupying in Leilas and Veras room. I needed that half hour for a bout with a terrific bit of old French poetry. Now its gone the hour, I mean. I wish the poetry was nil, too! And Ive not opened my book! Its almost dinner time, and after dinner were due at Silverton Hall to help Robin rehearse that house play. You hadnt forgotten about it, had you?

I never forget anything I happen to remember, was the re-assuring response.

Then keep on remembering the Beauty contest, begged Marjorie laughing. This is Monday. I wish you could arrange it for Friday night. Im so anxious for Miss Monroe to win it. It will strengthen her position on the campus. Her lovely face grew suddenly serious. You know so well the way I feel about her, Leila. Id love to have her free herself from Leslie Cairns influence; to help her raise up a pride in herself that will place her above doing the contemptible things the Sans used to do.

As she talked Marjories voice took on a wistful earnestness which Leila found irresistible. She did not share Marjories views concerning Doris Monroe. Nevertheless, Marjories appeal to Leila for help in the difficult conquest of the more difficult sophomore was in itself sufficient cause for co-operation on Leilas part.

Watch the bulletin board tomorrow, and have no fears, was Leilas parting advice as Marjorie reached the door. We shall meet again, she added portentously.

In about ten minutes; at dinner. And in my room, after dinner; and after that, on the campus; and still after that, at Silverton Hall, flung back Marjorie over a shoulder as she went out the door. She ran lightly down the hall to her room, inspirited by Leilas promise. She swung open the door with a gay little fling and entered to find Jerry deep in the perusal of a letter.

Im going to be one of the judges at the Beauty contest, she breezily informed Jerry. I forgot to ask Leila who shed picked for the other two judges.

Its a good thing for the Ice Queen that you are going to wear a disguise; efface your face from the college map for the time being, Jerry commented, eyes still on her letter. No judge rig-out for Jeremiah, I shall appear in all my fatal beauty. But I dont expect to get a fair deal, Jerry sighed loudly. When is the momentous Beauty gathering to grace the gym?

Friday evening at eight. Marjorie went on to recount hers and Leilas recent conversation.

You old politician. Youve everything fixed for your candidate, Jerry humorously accused. What has become of the traditions of Hamilton? Shocking!

Theyre right in the foreground, AS ALWAYS, retorted Marjorie. Im neither old, nor a politician. Nothing has been fixed for my candidate. Yes; Ill admit I have one, she declared in answer to Jerrys comically questioning glance. Just the same, she can only succeed on her own merits. Giving her a chance to do that isnt pulling strings for her.

I get you, Bean. I humbly apologize for any dark suspicions I may have entertained against you. You are a Bean of rare pulchritude, enterprise and integrity. You are not the only enterprising person on the campus, though. I hate to speak of myself, but er-her-r, ahem! Jerry loudly cleared her throat. Im a credit to the noble profession of the sleuth. Her tone of raillery held an undernote of triumph. Her round face wore a victorious expression which Marjorie did not miss.

What is it, Jeremiah? Youre brim full of something interesting. I know youre aching to tell me. Do go ahead.

Its about those two letters, Jerry began abruptly. I mean the two that were sent to you in the fall when the sophs were warring among themselves, and Gentleman Gus drew the class presidency.

I havent forgotten them, Marjorie said dryly. You said youd find out all about them. Have you? She gazed interestedly at Jerry. Now I begin to understand why you were praising yourself, she tacked on, with a teasing smile. Youll have just time to tell me before the dinner gong sounds. Go to it. She dropped easily down upon her couch bed, eyes still intent on Jerry.

You know, and so do I, that the sports committee letter was a fake. We decided that first thing. Well, Ive not discovered who wrote it. Im still suspicious of three different sets of girls on the campus. But I havent a shred of proof against any of them. Being an honorable sleuth I dont prowl ignobly about the campus after my quarry. I set legitimate traps for em. I deduce in a scientific and marvelous manner. My methods are above reproach, but they take time.

So do your remarks, Marjorie impolitely reminded. The gongs going to ring very, very soon.

Oh, is it? So glad you told me. My, but you are rude at times. This is one of em. Back to my subject. I never believed that Miss Walker wrote the letter to you signed with her name. I made up my mind to find out whether the handwriting was hers, but I failed to capture a specimen of her penmanship. I tried a half a dozen nice, lady-like little schemes. Not one worked. One day luck was with Jeremiah. I picked up a fine and fussy handkerchief, monogrammed, L.M.W.

With one eye on the clock Jerry hurriedly recounted the writing of the note to Louise Walker and the subsequent mailing of it and the handkerchief to the sophomore.

Heres the answer. Found it in the bulletin board this P. M. Look at it. Next cast your eyes over this piece of bunk. Jerry laid two unfolded letters on the study table for Marjorie to examine.

Marjorie obediently left the couch where she had cosily disposed her slim length. She reached Jerrys side with one lithe bounce. Hastily she picked up the letter Jerry indicated. Then she read:

Dear Miss Macy:

How fortunate for me that you should have found my pet handkerchief! I bought it in Europe last summer of one of those wonderful Belgian lace makers. I prize it highly on account of the beauty of the embroidery. Consequently I rarely carry it. Broke my rule for once and lost it. I had no idea where. It is my good luck, and quite remarkable, I think, that you should have guessed the initials on it to be mine. Thank you for your courtesy. Assuring you of my appreciation,

Yours very sincerely,
Louise May Walker.

As she finished reading Miss Walkers impersonally friendly note of thanks Marjorie s eyes immediately sought the other letter. It was the hateful letter she had received directly after the sophomore election from Miss Walker. She had read if enough times to know it by heart.

Why, Jerry! she cried, letting the two letters flutter from her hand to the table. She Miss Walker never wrote that miserably mean letter to me! Its not written in the same hand as the note she wrote you about the handkerchief. We feel quite positive she wrote that note. So she couldnt have written the other.

Of course she didnt write it, Jerry asserted. Ive been keeping an explorative P. G. eye on her since the basket ball season began. She has some fine traits, Marjorie. Jerry nodded her head in sober confirmation of her opinion.

Im glad she didnt write this. Marjorie touched the condemnatory letter with the tip of a finger. She picked up both letters again and proceeded to a critical examination of the handwriting of each.

I couldnt be sure she had not until I had seen her handwriting. I hadnt the least excuse for writing her, and I didnt care to ask the girls to do it. Id begun to harbor dark thoughts of waylaying her on the campus in the misty twilight and appropriating her note-book. She had a twice-a-week late trig period at Hamilton Hall. Then I found the handkerchief in the main corridor. Maybe Jeremiah wasnt pleased with herself! Jerry gave an elated little spin around on one heel. I wrote her and enclosed the hankey, and this is the reward of honesty plus great forethought. Jerry significantly tapped her forehead.

Im glad, Marjorie said again; glad you are a great detective, Jeremiah. She smiled indulgently at Jerry. But gladder still that Miss Walker never wrote that spiteful letter. Im gladdest of all that it is more despicable even than if it were anonymous. Its a forgery. A person so unprincipled as to commit such a forgery is too unprincipled to be dangerous.

Pearls of truth and wisdom, Bean. I get you, and agree with you, Jerry returned the smile. I hate to say it, but I know only one person who could qualify under that head Leslie Hob-goblin Cairns.

CHAPTER XXIV
HELPING THE GOOD WORK ALONG

The warning, brazen voice of the dinner gong, which Miss Remson rang but once before each meal, broke in upon Jerrys pertinent surmise. It was a signal which called for postponing further conjecture in the matter.

Ive thought of Leslie Cairns more than once, Jerry, in connection with both those letters, Marjorie confessed as Jerry took the letters Marjorie had carefully examined, folded them and tucked them into a small leather portfolio. Perhaps its been unfair in me to judge her by past performances.

How could one help it? Come along, self-accusing Bean. Im hungry enough to eat all the dinner on our table, and give the rest of you not a scrap. Well continue our amazing careers as private investigators tonight after the ten-thirty bell is heard in the land and a grateful hush has settled down on Room 15.

During the busy, merry evening spent with Robin, Phil and the cast of Silverton Hall payers, Marjorie had neither inclination nor opportunity to consider the guilt or non-guilt of Leslie Cairns. As stage manager Leila Harper combined more than usual efficiency with a drollness of speech and manner which kept the amateur thespians in a constant gale of giggles.

Remember your cues and lines, or youll be walking into the middle scenes where youre neither expected nor wanted, she warned her flock.

The play, a two-act comedy entitled The House Party, was a bright, snappy little production written by Eileen Potter, a promising Silverton Hall sophomore. Phil had advocated the first production of it as a house play. The sophomore class would be the guests of the Silverton Hall sophs on the eventful evening. The living room was to be turned into a theatre. Phil had enlisted Robins, Marjories and Leilas services in rehearsing it.

Her plan, into which Robin, Marjorie and Leila gladly entered, had a triple motive. She was anxious that Eileens talent should be recognized on the campus. She was determined that the unharmonious sophomore class should be brought into harmony. She intended to hammer away at this plan until she accomplished that harmony. Last of all, she liked giving house plays. Phil had a soul even more bent on democracy than was that of Marjorie, if such a condition could be. Robin often said to her: Truly, Phil, if you had lived in the days of 76 you would have managed somehow to annex your name to the Declaration of Independence.

After the rehearsal the hard-working actors, managers and prompters were treated to frozen custard and sponge cake by Barbara Severn. She declared Leila to be a slave-driver and that the custard and cake were needed by the cast as nourishment.

If I am a slave-driver, why is it you are offering me custard and cake? Leila demanded, as Barbara presented her with a plate of the frozen sweet.

Merely because you have worked harder than your slaves. You are what I should call a unique slave-driver, Barbara sweetly explained.

And you have far more good sense than you sometimes appear to have, Leila complimented. Whereupon the two beamed at each other and shook hands.

Dont fail to be here for another rehearsal Thursday night and the dress rehearsal on Saturday night, were Leilas parting words to the cast, delivered in the middle of the front walk to the actor group who had followed her out on the veranda.

She started across the campus in the pale winter moonlight with Marjorie and Jerry, grumbling in pretended displeasure at the amount of things she had to do during the next few days.

Dont say a word! Marjorie exclaimed. Two more rehearsals this week, the Beauty contest on Friday night, Muriels birthdays next Monday. Saturday afternoon we have to go into town to buy presents. Monday afternoon well have to go over to Barettis to trim the birthday table. Sunday I have to write letters, study and do a dozen and one small things. I can say now I have nothing special on hand after Monday, but long before then Ill have a new lot of stunts planned for the rest of next week. Her tone grew more despairing with each enumeration.

You have so much trouble, Beauty, Ill say nothing of my own, was Leilas commiserating return, delivered with an unsympathetic grin. I am like an Irish fish out of water without Midget. That much I will say. Vera had gone to New York for a few days visit with her father before he sailed on an all-winter cruise on the Mediterranean.

I never saw an Irish fish. How does an Irish fish look? Jerry critically demanded.

Like me. Did you not just hear me say it? Leila retorted.

I must go to the Arms to see Miss Susanna this week, Marjorie observed irrelevantly. No one appeared to be interested in her announcement. Jerry and Leila were conducting a laughing argument which had to do with Irish and non-Irish fishes.

I love to talk to myself, she made plaintive complaint when Jerry and Leila finally paused for breath.

And I had far rather talk to you, Beauty, than to some P. G.s I know, Leila assured with deep meaning.

You may talk to me, Bean, Jerry graciously permitted. I am appreciative.

During the remainder of the short hike across the campus Marjorie became the laughing, but unimpressed, recipient of flattering attention.

Jerry, she burst out abruptly, soon after the two girls were in their own room, it isnt enough for us to say to each other that we are glad Miss Walker didnt write that letter. It is not fair to her not to tell her the whole thing. Do you think it is?

Jerry cocked her head to one side and considered. Nope, she answered after due deliberation. I suppose she ought to be informed that she is not the villain we took her to be. It may take marvelous managing by Marvelous Manager to tell her the awful truth without rousing her ire. According to Gentleman Gus she is anything but a lamb-like person when she isnt pleased.

Would you be willing to go with me to see her? Marjorie asked, her brown eyes meditatively fixed on Jerry. You are as

Deep in the mud as you are in the mire, supplied Jerry humorously.

Something like that, Marjorie agreed with a smile. The letter was sent to me in the first place, but the credit of the discovery that Miss Walker didnt write it belongs to you.

Im not likely to pick any bouquets in such a briar patch, shrugged Jerry. Dont want em. More likely shell get wrathful at us when she finds, we have kept the forged letter so long without going to her and having matters out. But Jeremiah is not afraid. Let us hope she behaves like the letter she really wrote.

In the act of removing one of her slippers, Jerry took it by the strap. Waving it jauntily she launched into a Bean jingle.


Upon the haughty soph well call
To clear her tarnished name;
For we have seen, O, noble Bean,
That she was not to blame.

That was an inspired jingle, Jeremiah, Marjorie approved, her face singularly sunny. Miss Walker is not to blame. Since we know she isnt, we should be, if we didnt hurry to tell her so.

CHAPTER XXV
NEARER TO THE HEARTS DESIRE.

Due to the numerous details Marjorie had on hand, on Saturday afternoon, Marjorie and Jerry still found themselves facing the call upon Miss Walker. They deplored the fact to each other as they made ready to go to town with Leila, Ronny, Lucy and Katherine Langly to shop for Muriels approaching birthday. Muriel had been left out of the shopping party. As a consequence she had made dire threats to disappear on her birthday and spoil everything. Jerry declared that no one was foolish enough to believe she would.

I never realized how much work you put into that first Beauty contest, Leila Greatheart, until I saw the working out of this last one, Marjorie confided to Leila on the way to town that afternoon. She was occupying her usual place beside Leila on the front seat. I felt so differently about the one last night. I had a chance to hide away. I was so glad not to be in it, and on parade. It was darling in you to give me the judges last speech in the contest. And didnt my fairy-tale princess look beautiful when she came forward to receive the guerdon? Those wonderful long-stemmed pink roses went so well with that crystal-beaded white frock she wore.

It was a dream of a dress, Leila nodded. At last we have a new Beauty on the campus. Only I am glad I was not one of the judges. I should never have displaced you for her. She is still too much the Ice Queen to be to my taste.

You are the loyalest of loyal old dears, Marjories hand came to rest for a moment on Leilas shoulder. I know you went strictly against your inclinations; just to please me. Someday youll see that there was method in my madness. The enchantment will be broken and the freed princess will yet prove herself a credit to Hamilton.





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