Marjorie Dean, Marvelous ManagerŮÍŗųŗÚŁ ÍŪŤ„ů ŠŚŮÔŽŗÚŪÓ
ďI donít blame you, old firecracker. I sympathize with your sputters,Ē laughed Robin. ďIíve said as much as you about Leslie Cairns to Marjorie. Itís just as Marvelous Manager says. We canít 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.Ē
ďTrue enough, wise Robin.Ē Philís sunny smile broke from behind her briefly clouded features. ďLetís leave her to her own downfall,Ē she said lightly, ďand consider instead our Thanksgiving thankfulnesses. Iím thankful the weatherís growing better instead of worse, and doubly thankful we decided to go to town and engineer the dinner movement.Ē
ďWithout us the girls might have had hard work reaching the inn,Ē Robin asserted. ďThey couldnít have walked and look presentable after they reached Barettiís, and they would not have been able to hire any cars. Theyíd 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.Ē
ďWe managed to dodge a fine flivver all around,Ē observed Phil with a self-congratulatory nod.
Under Robinís 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.
ďYou almost anchored our good ship Bubble in a mud hole, mon capitaine,Ē 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.
ďNo one is infallible,Ē chuckled Robin. ďThank your stars I didnít splash you. Itís your move, lady. Donít be afraid to make it,Ē 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 Robinís 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.
ďWhew! Faugh!Ē 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.
ďOh, ha, ha!Ē she laughed. ďMy poor polka dot cousin. Youíre a P. D., Robin; instead of a P. G.Ē
ďStop laughing,Ē ordered Robin, herself giggling immoderately at the disaster which had overtaken them. ďYour face looks even worse than mine. And bouncing Bab escaped just in time. That last bounce saved you,Ē she told grinning Barbara.
ďWhat did I tell you only a little while ago?Ē Phil glanced up the pike in the direction in which the devastating car had disappeared. ďShe saw us before we saw her. She put on speed and did that stunt simply to be malicious. If weíd 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. Sheís vindictive Ė just as I said.Ē
ďLeslie Cairnsí own variety of sport.Ē Barbara now hurried to where the two victims of Leslie Cairnsí ill nature stood wiping the thin oozy mud from their ďpolka dotĒ faces. ďYou should have seen the expression of her face as her car zipped by ours. She looked delighted Ė a wicked, hateful kind of delight. No wonder Muriel and Jerry call her the Hob-goblin!Ē
ďI crowed too soon. A mud-splashing is something we didnít dodge,Ē Phil said ruefully. ďI 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. Youíre only a senior. Help from P. G.ís will also be appreciated. Iím tired and hungry and muddy. Ah, there stands the guardian angel of Hamilton!Ē 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.
ďWeíll let the men carry the bumbershoots inside. If we go in there weíll not get away from the crowd for awhile,Ē Phil predicted cannily. ďRemember our own Thanksgiving feed. Meanwhile I am starving to death by inches.Ē
ďWeíre not going inside, Signor Baretti,Ē Robin told the smiling ďguardian angelĒ as the helper disappeared with the last of the umbrellas.
ďI know,Ē the little man bobbed his head understandingly. ďI know you are in the hurry. I donít 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 Ė something to ride in for the dorm girls. Now I donít know which these. But I find out.Ē
THE REASON WHY
ďOh, Marjorie Dean; dear old Marvelous Manager! Iím so glad youíve come back to the campus. I feel like squealing for joy. I was never before quite so glad to see anyone!Ē
Marjorie, first off the train of her party, walked straight into Robin Pageís welcoming, outstretched arms. The Sanford-bound party had left the campus under rain-threatening skies. They were returning to find Marjorieís 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.
ďGracious; you must have missed me! This is surely a cordial reception, Pagie dear.Ē Marjorie laughed her pleasure of re-union as she warmly returned Robinís hearty embrace.
ďI have; I have,Ē Robinís tones rose in a mild wail. ďOh, you lucky gang,Ē she cried, surveying fondly the eight returned Travelers. ďI drove your car down tonight, Vera. Leilaís hasnít come home from the repair shop yet.Ē
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.
ďPhil and Barbara ought to be here, too.Ē Robin made a searching survey of the white, drifted platform with her eyes. ďThey 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: ĎWhen you find it you may bring it to me,íĒ laughed Robin. ďI knew weíd need two cars. I didnít care to call a station taxi. Wait till you hear my reason for cutting out those same taxies.Ē Robinís delicate face hardened a trifle. ďItís a very good Ė Ē
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.
ďCaptured a soph; tallest in captivity; absolutely primitive; untamed, probably belongs to the cave dwellers union,Ē recited Phil, indicating Gussie with an enthusiastic flourish. ďShe may even be a Celt.Ē Phil arched significant brows at Leila.
ďMay she, indeed?Ē Leila pretended deep surprise.
ďYou heard me say she might be,Ē Phil retorted grandly. ďAnyway, she has a car thatís not in the repair shop. Thatís more important this evening than being a Celt.Ē
ďNow where is the one who told you that?Ē Leila glared about her, as if determined to hunt out the offender.
ďYou mustnít be too personal.Ē Phil put her hand to her lips. Shielding them cup-fashion she said in a loud whisper: ďKeep quiet. She mustnít suspect the reason we invited her.Ē
ďI doubt if she ever finds out,Ē was Leilaís satirical assurance.
ďPoor, benighted soph.Ē Vera turned a pitying look on the primitive, untamed soph who returned it with a bold wink.
ďShe seems to understand a few things,Ē Muriel made equally sarcastic comment.
ďIíll guarantee not to ditch the car, even if I do have an untamed air,Ē chuckled Gussie. ďCome on, Travelers. No place like home when homeís a good place. Six to a car. Come, choose your east. Come, choose your west.Ē
The Travelers obeyed the call, laughingly dividing themselves into two groups. Robin, Marjorie, Muriel, Phil, Lucy and Vera took possession of Veraís car. Leila, Jerry, Kathie, Barbara, Ronny and Gussie fell to Gussieís 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. ďSuch a noble act deserves the reward of my company. Besides, Iíll hear the same news later. Thereíll be at least half a dozen editions of it,Ē she slyly prophesied.
Marjorieís first eager question: ďHow did everything go?Ē 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: ďAll out. Step lively.Ē
ďIíll have to tell you the rest when we are settled again up in Marjorieís room. This is the Tragedy of Page minus Dean, in two acts. Wait till you hear the sensational climax of Act One,Ē Robin animatedly informed the absorbed listeners.
The brightness of reunion had been gradually fading from Marjorieís 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 Marjorieís mind. Why Robinís 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 Leslieís treachery out of the atmosphere.
ďPhil 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,Ē Robin asserted with an energetic bob of her head.
ďWhat do you think her object was, Phil? Leslie Cairnsí, I mean?Ē Vera voiced the curiosity of the others. ďDo you think she heard about the dinner to the off-campus girls from her friends?Ē
ďOf course. She must have. Hard to say what her object may have been. She was probably hunting mischief. When she couldnít 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.Ē Phil accompanied her opinion with a contemptuous shrug.
ďThat ends the first act, ladies and Gentleman Gus,Ē announced Robin. ďThe 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.Ē She accompanied the announcement with flamboyant gestures.
ďThank you for special mention.Ē Gussie stood up and bowed.
ďYouíre welcome,Ē beamed Robin. ďI couldnít resist including you. It sounded well.Ē
ďItís a poor way to do, to be calling attention to oneself in the middle of a story,Ē grumbled Leila. ďMy fine old Irish manners tell me that.Ē
ďAsk them to tell you to practice the lost art of silence,Ē Muriel blandly requested. ďWhen you get the information pass it on to Gentleman Gus. Whisper it so we canít hear it. Weíre anxious to hear the rest of Robinís tale.Ē
ďAh, but you have an idea you are talking!Ē Leila exclaimed with withering sarcasm.
ďTaisez-vous.Ē Robin shook a playfully threatening finger at the merry gabblers. ďIíll 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. Iíll say that much.Ē
ďGentleman Gus is the best player I ever saw tackle a game,Ē Phil praised. ďThatís all. íScuse me for interrupting.Ē She cast a comical glance at Robin, who returned it with a reproving one, then continued:
ďWhen 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 Veraís 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.Ē
ďMariani himself was driving one of the taxies. You should have seen the expression on his fat face! He was so peeved at Baretti he didnít know which way to look!Ē Phil interposed, laughing at the memory of the miffed Italianís grouchy face.
ďBaretti 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: ĎYes-s, I tell again. Then sure.íĒ Robin imitated the inn-keeper briefly. ďHe 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 Ďdormí girls to get into the machines. Just about that time Ė Ē
ďWe came along with our little chug wagons,Ē broke in Gussie mischievously. ďThatís all. Donít forget to give us credit.Ē
ďDonít worry. I never forget,Ē recklessly boasted Robin. ďYes; Gentleman Gus, Calista, Norma and Laura came along again with their cars and the taxies didnít have to make a second trip. Lillian couldnít 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 couldnít come back. I was positively green with rage. I tried to catch Mariani on the íphone, but he wouldnít answer. The girls helped out again and we managed to land the last Ďdormí on her own doorstep a little after midnight.Ē
ďDid you tell Guiseppe of Marianiís second flivver?Ē Vera asked. ďIf you havenít, youíd better. He will wish to know it. Heíll think you havenít much confidence in him if you donít let him know.Ē
ďIt was too late to bother him that night, and I was so busy Friday and Saturday I didnít have time to go and see him. I intend to tell him.Ē
ďDid the busses run again on Friday? Are they running now?Ē were Marjorieís questions, uttered in quick succession.
ďNo, sir; they arenít running yet. And Mariani isnít giving good service. I know of a number of different girls who have since then íphoned for taxies, and have had no service. Whenever theyíve called on the íphone about it, no one at Marianiís garage has seemed to know anything,Ē Barbara finished disgustedly.
ďWhat did Signor Baretti say about the busses not running? Did he find out what the trouble was?Ē Again it was Marjorie who questioned.
ďHe hadnít 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 weíll hear from him.Ē Robin said this with the utmost confidence.
ďAnd now, may a poor, timid Irish woman ask a question?Ē 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.
ďDo ask it.Ē Jerry had instantly marked the expression. She straightened in her chair, the picture of expectation. Leila was about to say something startling.
ďThat I will.Ē Leila flashed Jerry a knowing smile. ďWhat has Leslie Cairns to do with the second act of the Tragedy of Page minus Dean?Ē
ďNow you have asked a question.Ē Ronnyís gray eyes gleamed shrewdly as she brought out the crisp commendation. ďWhen we fit an answer to that very leading question weíll probably know why the busses stopped running.Ē
A QUEER JOKE
Leilaís 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 Marjorieís room that snowy Sunday afternoon. There was not one among them who did not know considerable about Leslie Cairnsí 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.
ďSheís as relentless as an Indian,Ē was Jerryís opinion of the ex-student. ďItís a good thing for Bean that she has me to protect her.Ē
Marjorie did not take the indignant view of Leslie Cairnsí 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.
ďBetween you and me,Ē she said confidentially to Jerry the next afternoon in the privacy of their room. ďI wish Leslie Cairns would go on an expedition to Alaska, Kamchatka, Bolivia, Tasmania or any other far away point where sheíd be neither seen nor even heard of for a long time.Ē Marjorieís tone was anything but vindictive. Her brown eyes regarded Jerry somberly.
ďYour wish and your tone donít harmonize,Ē criticized Jerry. ďWhy wish your worst enemy almost off the face of the earth in such a mournful tone? Which shall I believe?Ē
ďEither or neither. Suit yourself,Ē 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, ďIt makes me weary, Jerry, even to have to think of Leslie Cairns. She isnít my worst enemy. Sheís her own. I wish someone could make her understand that. But not I.ĒŮÍŗųŗÚŁ ÍŪŤ„ů ŠŚŮÔŽŗÚŪÓ
ŮÚūŗŪŤŲŻ: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14