Marjorie Dean, Marvelous Managerñêà÷àòü êíèãó áåñïëàòíî
“I don’t blame you, old firecracker. I sympathize with your sputters,” laughed Robin. “I’ve said as much as you about Leslie Cairns to Marjorie. It’s just as Marvelous Manager says. We can’t judge her on suspicion. If she should make us trouble, later, all we could do would be repair the damage done and go on minding our own affairs. No one can punish Leslie Cairns so effectively as Leslie Cairns herself.”
“True enough, wise Robin.” Phil’s sunny smile broke from behind her briefly clouded features. “Let’s leave her to her own downfall,” she said lightly, “and consider instead our Thanksgiving thankfulnesses. I’m thankful the weather’s growing better instead of worse, and doubly thankful we decided to go to town and engineer the dinner movement.”
“Without us the girls might have had hard work reaching the inn,” Robin asserted. “They couldn’t have walked and look presentable after they reached Baretti’s, and they would not have been able to hire any cars. They’d have had to telephone us, but they might have tried to help themselves first. That would have taken time, and been a failure in the end. By the time we had gone to their rescue it would have been late in the afternoon.”
“We managed to dodge a fine flivver all around,” observed Phil with a self-congratulatory nod.
Under Robin’s slender practiced hands the car had been swiftly eating up the distance between town and the inn. The cousins hardly realized their nearness to it, so earnestly were they talking, until the quaint low structure appeared ahead of them, only a few rods distant, a welcome sight. Robin slowed down with a deep breath of satisfaction.
“You almost anchored our good ship Bubble in a mud hole, mon capitaine,” teased Barbara. She scrambled from the tonneau, balanced herself on the running board and nimbly leaped the shallow beginning of a deep, wide roadside puddle, the greater spread of which was in front of the car. Barbara flapped her arms and made a triumphant landing on wet but solid ground.
“No one is infallible,” chuckled Robin. “Thank your stars I didn’t splash you. It’s your move, lady. Don’t be afraid to make it,” she turned to Phil with the gruff tone of a traffic officer. She and Phil both rose in the seat to leave the machine. Both beheld in the same instant a small black car coming toward them at high speed.
Swish; splatter; splash! The forward tires of the oncoming car struck the wide puddle with a force that sent the muddy water of the puddle upward in jets. In passing Robin’s car the other machine gave a violent lurch toward it that threatened but did not precipitate a collision. On down the road the black car shot, spattering the mud and water high as it whizzed out of sight around a bend.
“Whew! Faugh!” Phil dashed away a splash of soft mud that had struck her squarely on the mouth. Face and clothing were liberally spattered with it. Robin had been equally unfortunate. Phil suddenly burst out laughing.
“Oh, ha, ha!” she laughed. “My poor polka dot cousin. You’re a P. D., Robin; instead of a P. G.”
“Stop laughing,” ordered Robin, herself giggling immoderately at the disaster which had overtaken them. “Your face looks even worse than mine. And bouncing Bab escaped just in time. That last bounce saved you,” she told grinning Barbara.
“What did I tell you only a little while ago?” Phil glanced up the pike in the direction in which the devastating car had disappeared. “She saw us before we saw her. She put on speed and did that stunt simply to be malicious. If we’d been half a second sooner in getting out of the car we might have had the most wonderful mud shower bath! She took the risk of smashing into our machine for the pleasure of spattering us. She’s vindictive – just as I said.”
“Leslie Cairns’ own variety of sport.” Barbara now hurried to where the two victims of Leslie Cairns’ ill nature stood wiping the thin oozy mud from their “polka dot” faces. “You should have seen the expression of her face as her car zipped by ours. She looked delighted – a wicked, hateful kind of delight. No wonder Muriel and Jerry call her the Hob-goblin!”
“I crowed too soon. A mud-splashing is something we didn’t dodge,” Phil said ruefully. “I feel as though I had been swimming in the mud. Come on, Barbara Severn, and get busy with these umbrellas. I can order you about. You’re only a senior. Help from P. G.’s will also be appreciated. I’m tired and hungry and muddy. Ah, there stands the guardian angel of Hamilton!” Phil waved a gay hand to Signor Baretti who had just appeared in the doorway of the inn.
The little man responded to the wave. Then he disappeared as suddenly as he had appeared. He returned at once with one of his olive-skinned kitchen helpers and proceeded to busy himself with the care of the umbrellas.
“We’ll let the men carry the bumbershoots inside. If we go in there we’ll not get away from the crowd for awhile,” Phil predicted cannily. “Remember our own Thanksgiving feed. Meanwhile I am starving to death by inches.”
“We’re not going inside, Signor Baretti,” Robin told the smiling “guardian angel” as the helper disappeared with the last of the umbrellas.
“I know,” the little man bobbed his head understandingly. “I know you are in the hurry. I don’t see you till is done in the ginnasio the ball game you have tell me about. You say it is done, mebbe five the clock. I go there. Wait for you. When I meet you I have for you the bus, the taxi – something to ride in for the dorm girls. Now I don’t know which these. But I find out.”
THE REASON WHY
“Oh, Marjorie Dean; dear old Marvelous Manager! I’m so glad you’ve come back to the campus. I feel like squealing for joy. I was never before quite so glad to see anyone!”
Marjorie, first off the train of her party, walked straight into Robin Page’s welcoming, outstretched arms. The Sanford-bound party had left the campus under rain-threatening skies. They were returning to find Marjorie’s first Hamilton friend decorated with a carpet of soft cold white. On Saturday the weather had grown colder. Sunday afternoon had brought a mild snow storm.
“Gracious; you must have missed me! This is surely a cordial reception, Pagie dear.” Marjorie laughed her pleasure of re-union as she warmly returned Robin’s hearty embrace.
“I have; I have,” Robin’s tones rose in a mild wail. “Oh, you lucky gang,” she cried, surveying fondly the eight returned Travelers. “I drove your car down tonight, Vera. Leila’s hasn’t come home from the repair shop yet.”
Robin kept up a lively chatter as she was passed from one to another of the octette. Her extreme charm of face and manner made her place in the hearts of the little coterie of friends a very individual one. A less sensible girl than Robin might easily have been spoiled by the knowledge of her peculiar power to charm.
“Phil and Barbara ought to be here, too.” Robin made a searching survey of the white, drifted platform with her eyes. “They started out to see if they could beg, borrow or steal a car. They wanted to come with me, but I told them to go and hunt a car of their own. I said: ‘When you find it you may bring it to me,’” laughed Robin. “I knew we’d need two cars. I didn’t care to call a station taxi. Wait till you hear my reason for cutting out those same taxies.” Robin’s delicate face hardened a trifle. “It’s a very good – ”
A sharp little shout of welcome broke in upon what Robin was saying. Phil, Barbara and Gussie Forbes suddenly appeared on the platform. Phil and Barbara were escorting Gussie with a great show of respect. Each had her by an arm. Both were endeavoring to look dignified. Gussie was frankly giggling her enjoyment of the situation.
“Captured a soph; tallest in captivity; absolutely primitive; untamed, probably belongs to the cave dwellers union,” recited Phil, indicating Gussie with an enthusiastic flourish. “She may even be a Celt.” Phil arched significant brows at Leila.
“May she, indeed?” Leila pretended deep surprise.
“You heard me say she might be,” Phil retorted grandly. “Anyway, she has a car that’s not in the repair shop. That’s more important this evening than being a Celt.”
“Now where is the one who told you that?” Leila glared about her, as if determined to hunt out the offender.
“You mustn’t be too personal.” Phil put her hand to her lips. Shielding them cup-fashion she said in a loud whisper: “Keep quiet. She mustn’t suspect the reason we invited her.”
“I doubt if she ever finds out,” was Leila’s satirical assurance.
“Poor, benighted soph.” Vera turned a pitying look on the primitive, untamed soph who returned it with a bold wink.
“She seems to understand a few things,” Muriel made equally sarcastic comment.
“I’ll guarantee not to ditch the car, even if I do have an untamed air,” chuckled Gussie. “Come on, Travelers. No place like home when home’s a good place. Six to a car. Come, choose your east. Come, choose your west.”
The Travelers obeyed the call, laughingly dividing themselves into two groups. Robin, Marjorie, Muriel, Phil, Lucy and Vera took possession of Vera’s car. Leila, Jerry, Kathie, Barbara, Ronny and Gussie fell to Gussie’s big high-powered touring car. They were all in an uproariously merry mood as their frequent peals of laughter went to testify.
Phil magnanimously volunteered to forego the delights of re-union and drive the car so that Robin could tell the girls the campus news. Lucy elected to ride on the front seat beside her. “Such a noble act deserves the reward of my company. Besides, I’ll hear the same news later. There’ll be at least half a dozen editions of it,” she slyly prophesied.
Marjorie’s first eager question: “How did everything go?” set Robin off on an account of the calamity that had overtaken the dormitory girls on Thanksgiving morning. She had just reached the point in her narrative where she and Barbara and Phil had piled the umbrellas belonging to the dormitory girls into the automobile and started for the inn when Phil brought the car up in front of Wayland Hall and called out in stentorian tones: “All out. Step lively.”
“I’ll have to tell you the rest when we are settled again up in Marjorie’s room. This is the Tragedy of Page minus Dean, in two acts. Wait till you hear the sensational climax of Act One,” Robin animatedly informed the absorbed listeners.
The brightness of reunion had been gradually fading from Marjorie’s face as she listened to Robin to give place to an expression of almost stern gravity. Robin had not yet brought Leslie Cairns into the narrative. Nevertheless her name had suddenly leaped into Marjorie’s mind. Why Robin’s recital of her difficulties with two warring Italian garage owners should have reminded Marjorie of Leslie Cairns she was momentarily at a loss to understand. She conceived a swift, unbidden, formless suspicion of Leslie which she instantly tried to dismiss as unworthy. It continued to tantalize her brain until she recalled with relief that it was the mention of the Italians as garage owners that had brought Leslie to the fore in her mind. Leslie herself was a prospective garage owner.
Half an hour later when Robin had resumed her story to her interested audience of chums Marjorie sat, chin on hand, staring in secret bewilderment at Robin as the latter indignantly recounted the sensational mud-spattering climax of Act One, with Leslie Cairns as the villain. Her curious, flitting suspicion of Leslie had not then been idle. She felt as she might have if she had suddenly reached up and picked her conviction of Leslie’s treachery out of the atmosphere.
“Phil insisted from the first that Leslie Cairns had an object in view when she stood in the store watching us from behind the palms. I tried to give her the benefit of the doubt. Afterward, when she deliberately ran her car through that mud puddle as hard as she could drive it, and as close to our car as she dared, I decided Phil was right,” Robin asserted with an energetic bob of her head.
“What do you think her object was, Phil? Leslie Cairns’, I mean?” Vera voiced the curiosity of the others. “Do you think she heard about the dinner to the off-campus girls from her friends?”
“Of course. She must have. Hard to say what her object may have been. She was probably hunting mischief. When she couldn’t find any to do, it put her in a worse humor than ever with us and she vented her spite in a mud-spattering act.” Phil accompanied her opinion with a contemptuous shrug.
“That ends the first act, ladies and Gentleman Gus,” announced Robin. “The second act has nothing to do with Leslie Cairns. It features Guiseppe Baretti, the hero of the hour and the knightly defender of the dormitory girls.” She accompanied the announcement with flamboyant gestures.
“Thank you for special mention.” Gussie stood up and bowed.
“You’re welcome,” beamed Robin. “I couldn’t resist including you. It sounded well.”
“It’s a poor way to do, to be calling attention to oneself in the middle of a story,” grumbled Leila. “My fine old Irish manners tell me that.”
“Ask them to tell you to practice the lost art of silence,” Muriel blandly requested. “When you get the information pass it on to Gentleman Gus. Whisper it so we can’t hear it. We’re anxious to hear the rest of Robin’s tale.”
“Ah, but you have an idea you are talking!” Leila exclaimed with withering sarcasm.
“Taisez-vous.” Robin shook a playfully threatening finger at the merry gabblers. “I’ll resume before you have time to interrupt me again. After Phil, Barbara and I got our mud shower we hustled to Silverton Hall. We were late for dinner; awfully late, but everybody was good to us and the dinner was splendiferous. We started for the gym the minute we had finished dinner. Gussie, you can tell the crowd about the game afterward. I want to keep to the subject of my own troubles as a promoter, minus a partner. It was a great game. I’ll say that much.”
“Gentleman Gus is the best player I ever saw tackle a game,” Phil praised. “That’s all. ’Scuse me for interrupting.” She cast a comical glance at Robin, who returned it with a reproving one, then continued:
“When the game was over I went outside the gym wondering if Signor Baretti really had been able to reduce those provoking Italians to reason. He was waiting just outside the double doors. I know by the way he smiled that he had found some way of helping us. He told me he had managed to make Mariani let him have four taxies and that he had his own large car and a smaller one he used when making hurried business trips. I still had Vera’s car. We had come over from Silverton Hall in it. His big car would easily hold ten passengers, by having the taxies make a second trip all the off-campus girls would be taken care of.”
“Mariani himself was driving one of the taxies. You should have seen the expression on his fat face! He was so peeved at Baretti he didn’t know which way to look!” Phil interposed, laughing at the memory of the miffed Italian’s grouchy face.
“Baretti had the machines lined up on the branch drive east of the gym. I asked him if the men could be depended to bring the girls back to the campus after supper and come for them after the dance. He said: ‘Yes-s, I tell again. Then sure.’” Robin imitated the inn-keeper briefly. “He marched up to the first, then the others, and said about six words to each; except Mariani. He and Guiseppe had quite an argument. I could tell by the way they wagged their heads and shrugged their shoulders and made gestures to go with almost every word they said. Finally Signor Baretti came over to me and said very proudly that it was all right; to tell the ‘dorm’ girls to get into the machines. Just about that time – ”
“We came along with our little chug wagons,” broke in Gussie mischievously. “That’s all. Don’t forget to give us credit.”
“Don’t worry. I never forget,” recklessly boasted Robin. “Yes; Gentleman Gus, Calista, Norma and Laura came along again with their cars and the taxies didn’t have to make a second trip. Lillian couldn’t come. Their dinner was so late. Besides they were entertaining at her home in the evening. Mariani furnished the same four taxies out to the campus in the evening at the usual rate. After the dance he only sent two, and the drivers said they couldn’t come back. I was positively green with rage. I tried to catch Mariani on the ’phone, but he wouldn’t answer. The girls helped out again and we managed to land the last ‘dorm’ on her own doorstep a little after midnight.”
“Did you tell Guiseppe of Mariani’s second flivver?” Vera asked. “If you haven’t, you’d better. He will wish to know it. He’ll think you haven’t much confidence in him if you don’t let him know.”
“It was too late to bother him that night, and I was so busy Friday and Saturday I didn’t have time to go and see him. I intend to tell him.”
“Did the busses run again on Friday? Are they running now?” were Marjorie’s questions, uttered in quick succession.
“No, sir; they aren’t running yet. And Mariani isn’t giving good service. I know of a number of different girls who have since then ’phoned for taxies, and have had no service. Whenever they’ve called on the ’phone about it, no one at Mariani’s garage has seemed to know anything,” Barbara finished disgustedly.
“What did Signor Baretti say about the busses not running? Did he find out what the trouble was?” Again it was Marjorie who questioned.
“He hadn’t found out the reason when he came to the gym after the game on Thursday. He said he would, though. I know he will. He is the never-give-up kind. When he does find out we’ll hear from him.” Robin said this with the utmost confidence.
“And now, may a poor, timid Irish woman ask a question?” Leila had been listening to Robin, an inscrutable smile touching her red lips. Her bright blue eyes were alive with a cold sparkle which Jerry had once declared looked like fire behind ice.
“Do ask it.” Jerry had instantly marked the expression. She straightened in her chair, the picture of expectation. Leila was about to say something startling.
“That I will.” Leila flashed Jerry a knowing smile. “What has Leslie Cairns to do with the second act of the Tragedy of Page minus Dean?”
“Now you have asked a question.” Ronny’s gray eyes gleamed shrewdly as she brought out the crisp commendation. “When we fit an answer to that very leading question we’ll probably know why the busses stopped running.”
A QUEER JOKE
Leila’s frank assumption that Leslie Cairns had been a secret Thanksgiving Day disturber could not fail to find lodgment in the minds of the girls gathered in Marjorie’s room that snowy Sunday afternoon. There was not one among them who did not know considerable about Leslie Cairns’ underhanded methods of trouble-making. They knew, too, that she had oftenest directed her spite against Marjorie. Marjorie was adored for her beauty, as Leslie was disliked for her lack of it. Her unfair treacherous ways made her unprepossessing features even more ugly in their girlish eyes.
Be it said to their credit they tried not to discuss Leslie any more personally than could be helped under the circumstances. All of them were of the same opinion. Leslie had not gotten over her grudge against Marjorie. She had chosen to strike at a time when she knew Marjorie would not be on the campus to guard her benevolent interests.
“She’s as relentless as an Indian,” was Jerry’s opinion of the ex-student. “It’s a good thing for Bean that she has me to protect her.”
Marjorie did not take the indignant view of Leslie Cairns’ further attempt to persecute her which her comrades entertained. Still she was now more concerned about it within herself than she had been in her earlier campus days when Commencement was a far-distant prospect. Now she was a promoter. She smiled to herself whenever the word crossed her brain. She was a promoter of democracy; a promoter of happiness. Before she had gone through the gate of Commencement she feared that she had been far more interested in her welfare than she had that of others. Now her work demanded the thought of others above her personal wishes and inclinations. It became more than ever necessary that she should make it her business to guard the interests of those who would benefit by and through the efforts of Page and Dean.
“Between you and me,” she said confidentially to Jerry the next afternoon in the privacy of their room. “I wish Leslie Cairns would go on an expedition to Alaska, Kamchatka, Bolivia, Tasmania or any other far away point where she’d be neither seen nor even heard of for a long time.” Marjorie’s tone was anything but vindictive. Her brown eyes regarded Jerry somberly.
“Your wish and your tone don’t harmonize,” criticized Jerry. “Why wish your worst enemy almost off the face of the earth in such a mournful tone? Which shall I believe?”
“Either or neither. Suit yourself,” Marjorie stood before the mirror of her dressing table adjusting a chic little green velvet hat to just the right angle on her curly head. The hat placed to her satisfaction she swung round from the mirror saying forcefully, “It makes me weary, Jerry, even to have to think of Leslie Cairns. She isn’t my worst enemy. She’s her own. I wish someone could make her understand that. But not I.”ñêà÷àòü êíèãó áåñïëàòíî
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