Chase Josephine.

Patsy Carroll Under Southern Skies





CHAPTER I
TIME TO GO WAYFARING AGAIN

Oh, dear! loudly sighed Patsy Carroll.

The regretful exclamation was accompanied by the energetic banging of Patsys French grammar upon the table.

Stay there, tiresome old thing! she emphasized. Ive had enough of you for one evening.

Whats the matter, Patsy?

Beatrice Forbes raised mildly inquiring eyes from the theme she was industriously engaged in writing.

Lots of things. I hate French verbs. The crazy old irregular ones most of all. They start out one thing and by the time you get to the future tense theyre something entirely different.

Is that all? smiled Beatrice. You ought to be used to them by this time.

Thats only one of my troubles, frowned Patsy. There are others a great deal worse. One of them is this Easter vacation business. I thought wed surely have three weeks. Its always been so at Yardley until this year. Two weeks is no vacation worth mentioning.

Well, thats plenty of time to go home in and stay at home and see the folks for a while, isnt it? asked Beatrice.

But we didnt intend going home, protested Patsy.

Didnt intend going home? repeated Beatrice wonderingly. What are you talking about, Patsy Carroll? I certainly expect to go home for Easter.

You only think you do, Patsy assured, her troubled face relaxing into a mischievous grin. Maybe you will, though. I dont know. It depends upon what kind of scheme my gigantic brain can think up.

Its like this, Bee, she continued, noting her friends expression of mystification. Father and I made a peach of a plan. Excuse my slang, but peach of a plan just expresses it. Well, when I was at home over Christmas, Father promised me that the Wayfarers should join him and Aunt Martha at Palm Beach for the Easter vacation. He bought some land down in Florida last fall. Orange groves and all that, you know. This land isnt so very far from Palm Beach. He was going down there right after Christmas, but a lot of business prevented him from going. Hes down there now, though, and

Youve been keeping all this a dead secret from your little chums, finished Beatrice with pretended reproach.

Of course I have, calmly asserted Patsy. That was to be part of the fun. I meant to spring a fine surprise on you girls. Your mother knows all about it. So does Mrs. Perry. I went around and asked them if you and Mab and Nellie could go while I was at home during the Christmas holidays. Aunt Martha liked my plan, too. Now well have to give it up and go somewhere nearer home. Wed hardly get settled at Palm Beach when wed have to come right home again. One more weeks vacation would make a lot of difference. And we cant have it! Its simply too mean for anything!

It would be wonderful to go to Palm Beach, mused Beatrice.

It would be to me, anyway. You know Ive never traveled as you have, Patsy. Going to the Adirondacks last summer was my first real trip away from home. Going to Florida would seem like going to fairy land.

Readers of Patsy Carroll at Wilderness Lodge, are already well acquainted, not only with Patsy Carroll and Beatrice Forbes, but also with their chums, Mabel and Eleanor Perry. In this story was narrated the adventures of the four young girls, who, chaperoned by Patsys stately aunt, Miss Martha Carroll, spent a summer together in the Adirondacks.

Wilderness Lodge, the luxurious camp leased by Mr. Carroll for the summer, had formerly belonged to an eccentric old man, Ebeneezer Wellington. Having died intestate the previous spring, his property and money had passed into the hands of Rupert Grandin, his worthless nephew, leaving his foster-daughter, Cecil Vane, penniless.

Hardly were the Wayfarers, as the four girls had named themselves, established at the Lodge when its owner decided, for reasons of his own, to oust them from his property. A chance meeting between Beatrice and Cecil Vane revealed the knowledge that the latter had been defrauded of her rights and was firm in the belief that her late uncle had made a will in her favor, which was tucked away in some corner of the Lodge.

The long-continued hunt for the missing will and the strange circumstances which attended the finding of it furnished the Wayfarers with a new kind of excitement, quite apart from other memorable incidents and adventures which crowded the summer.

In the end, Cecil came into her own, and the Wayfarers returned to Morton, their home town, to make ready to enter Yardley, a preparatory school, in which Mabel, Eleanor and Patsy were to put in another year of study before entering college.

When Beatrice Forbes had joined the chums on the eventful vacation in the mountains, she had fully expected on her return to Morton to become a teacher in one of the grade schools. Fortune, however, had smiled kindly on her. Her great-aunt, whom her mother had visited that summer for the first time, had exhibited a lively interest in the great-niece whom she had never seen.

Learning from Mrs. Forbes, Beatrices longing ambition to obtain a college education, she had privately decided to accompany Beatrices mother to the latters home when her visit was ended, and thus view her ambitious young relative at close range.

This she had done. She had found Beatrice quite up to her expectations. She had also met Patsy Carroll and promptly fallen into the toils of that most fascinating young person. Patsy had privately advanced Beatrices cause to so great an extent that it was not long until Beatrice was making joyful preparations to accompany Mabel, Eleanor and Patsy to Yardley, as a result of her aunts generosity.

So it was that the congenial quartette of Wayfarers had settled down together at Yardley for a year of conscientious study. It now lacked but ten days until the beginning of the Easter vacation and, as usual, energetic Patsy was deeply concerned in the problem of how to make the best of only two weeks recreation when she had fondly looked forward to three.

It wouldnt do us a bit of good to ask for an extra week, mourned Patsy. Three girls I know have tried it and been snubbed for their pains. What we must do is to get together and plan some sort of outing that wont take us so far away from here. Of course we cant be sure of anything unless Aunt Martha approves. Shell be disappointed about not going to Palm Beach. She just loves to travel around with the Wayfarers, only she wont say so right out. Come on, Bee. Lets go and see the girls. Now that the great secret has all flattened out, like a punctured tire on my good old car, I might as well tell Mab and Nellie the sad tale.

You go, Patsy. I must finish this theme. Beatrice cast a guilty glance at the half-finished work on the table. I must hand it in at first recitation to-morrow and its a long way from being finished.

Oh, bother your theme! You can finish it later. Its only eight oclock. Well stay just a few minutes.

Hello, Perry children! greeted Patsy, when five minutes afterward she and Beatrice broke in upon their chums, who roomed on the floor above Patsy and Beatrice.

Hello, yourself, amiably responded Mabel, as she ushered them into the room. Of course you cant read or you would have seen the Busy sign on the door.

Pleasure before business, retorted Patsy. Kindly ask us to sit down, but not on your bed. I want a chair with a back to it. Its strictly necessary to my comfort.

Help yourself.

This from Eleanor who had laid aside her book and come forward.

Whats on your mind, Patsy? asked Mabel curiously. Somethings happened. I can tell that by the way you look.

I have a heavy load on my mind, declared Patsy with deep impressiveness.

Dramatically striking her forehead, she cried, Ouch! That hurt! giggled and dropped down into a nearby chair.

You almost knocked it off, chuckled Beatrice, seating herself on the edge of Mabels bed. The load, I mean.

I did not. I almost knocked my forehead off. The load is still there. Now to get rid of it.

Whereupon Patsy plunged into the subject of the great secret.

And Mother said we could go? asked Eleanor eagerly when Patsy had finished speaking.

Certainly, but the powers that be, here at Yardley, say you cant, reminded Patsy. Palm Beach is not for us this Easter. Im so disgusted over this vacation business!

Its a shame! exclaimed Mabel. I dont want to go any place else. Why cant we go there, anyway? It would take us two or three days to go and the same length of time to come back. Wed have a week there. That would be better than nothing.

I suppose it would, concurred Patsy rather reluctantly. Its only that I hate being torn up by the roots and hustled back here just the very minute Im getting used to things at the Beach. There is so much to see there. Besides, Im simply crazy to go to the Everglades. Father promised that hed hire a real Indian guide, to take us there on an expedition.

Lets write to our people and tell them to write to the registrar, asking if we cant have that extra week, proposed Eleanor eagerly. If your Aunt Martha, our mother and Bees mother would all write to her, it might do some good.

We can try it. I doubt whether it will help much, Patsy said gloomily. Miss Osgood is so awfully strict, you know. Its our only chance and a slim one. Im going straight to my room and write to Aunt Martha. Bee can write to her mother as soon as she finishes a theme shes toiling over. Youd better write to-night, too. The sooner we find out the best or the worst, the sooner well knew what to do about Easter. If we can only have two weeks, Aunt Martha may want to do the Beach anyway. If she doesnt well, well have to think up some place nearer Yardley to go to. Im determined to have some kind of trip, if its only to Old Point Comfort. The Wayfarers have been cooped up all winter. Its time they went wayfaring again.

CHAPTER II
A HARD-HEARTED REGISTRAR

If I were a registrar, Id not be so horrid as Miss Osgood, wrathfully exclaimed Patsy Carroll.

Four days had passed since the Wayfarers had despatched their letters to their home allies. The quartette were emerging from Yardley Hall as Patsy flung forth her disgruntled opinion of Miss Osgood.

They had been summoned to the registrars office after classes that afternoon, there to be stiffly informed by Miss Osgood that she saw no convincing reason for granting them the privilege of an extra weeks vacation.

You wish this extra week merely on account of a pleasure trip you have planned, she had coldly pointed out. I have been besieged by a dozen others with similar requests, none of which I have granted. I have replied to the letters which I have received from Miss Carroll, Mrs. Forbes and Mrs. Perry, stating that it is impossible to make any exception in favor of you girls. I sent for you to come here merely to impress upon you that I shall expect you to return to Yardley, from your Easter vacation, on time. Any delay on your part will constitute a direct defiance of my wishes. Kindly remember this and govern yourselves accordingly.

Such was the chilly ultimatum that had aroused Patsys ire.

Its too mean for anything, she sputtered, as the four started across the campus. Aunt Martha says in the letter I received from her this morning that unless we can have the extra weeks vacation its not worth while making the trip to Palm Beach. We cant have it, so that settles our grand Florida expedition. If we could go down there in summer it wouldnt matter so much about losing this trip. But we cant. Its too hot down there in summer time for comfort. Well never have a chance to go there until we are graduated from college. Well be old ladies then and have to go around in wheel chairs, she ended ruefully.

Oh, thats only four years off. We may still be able to totter about with canes, giggled Eleanor. Of course, well have snow-white hair and wrinkles, but then, never mind. We can sit and do embroidery or tatting and talk of the happy past when we were young and

Stop making fun of me, Nellie, ordered Patsy severely. Nevertheless she echoed Eleanors giggle.

Lets hustle for the dormitory, suggested practical Beatrice. This wind is altogether too frisky to suit me. Ive had to hang onto my hat every second since we left the Hall.

Its blowing harder every minute, panted Mabel, as a fresh gust swept whistling across the campus, caught the four girls and roughly endeavored to jerk them off their feet.

Its going to snow, I guess. Its too cold for rain, remarked Patsy, squinting up at the sky. Easter comes awfully early this year, doesnt it? I cant remember when its ever before been in March. Thats another reason why it would be fine to spend it at Palm Beach. The weather there would be perfect.

Oh, well, whats the use in thinking about it, said Eleanor. We might as well make the best of things and plan something else.

Im going to write to Auntie the minute I get to my room, announced Patsy, and ask her where she thinks it would be nice for us to go for Easter. Id like it to be near the ocean, though; Old Point Comfort, Cape May, Atlantic City, or some beach resort.

I hate to give up the Palm Beach plan. Still, wherever we go, well be together, reminded Mabel. You cant down a strong combination like the Wayfarers.

It being but a short walk from Yardley Hall to the large dormitory where the students of Yardley lived, the four girls were soon running up the broad stone steps, glad to reach shelter from the winds ungentle tactics.

As a preparatory school, Yardley was famed for its excellence. It registered, however, but a limited number of pupils. These lived in one large dormitory, there being no campus houses for their accommodation.

Yardley had been at one time a select boarding school for girls. Later it had become a preparatory school to college, and had earned the reputation of being one of the best of its kind.

As the high school course which the Wayfarers had completed was not sufficiently advanced to carry them into college without additional preparation, they had, after much discussion, chosen to enter Yardley. A year of study there would fit them for entrance into any college which they might select as their Alma Mater.

The fact that Yardley occupied a somewhat isolated position of its own, the nearest town, Alden, being five miles away, did not trouble the Wayfarers. Being true Nature lovers they were never at a loss for amusement during their leisure hours. They found far greater pleasure in tramping the steep hills which rose behind Yardley than making decorous little trips to Alden in Patsys car.

Though friendly with their classmates, the Wayfarers nevertheless hung together loyally. They were, as Patsy often declared, a close corporation and quite sufficient unto themselves.

As the little band entered the dormitory that blustering afternoon, they were feeling keenly the disappointment so recently meted out to them. It was decidedly hard to put away the rosy visions of Palm Beach that each girl had conjured up in her own mind.

Come on up to our room, girls, and well make chocolate, proposed Patsy. It will probably take away our appetites for dinner, but who cares? I dont believe Id have much appetite, anyhow. Im all upset about this vacation business.

Seated about the writing table which Patsy had cleared for the occasion, the Wayfarers were presently sipping hot chocolate and devouring sweet crackers to the accompaniment of a mournful discussion of the situation.

As a result none of them had any enthusiasm for either dinner or study that evening. Dinner over they gathered once more in Patsys room, still too full of their recent disappointment to banish it from conversation.

We cant make a single plan until we know what Aunt Martha wants to do, asserted Patsy with a sigh. Oh, I forgot to write to her before dinner! I must do it now. Excuse me, Perry children. Bee will amuse you. Bee, entertain the young ladies. Im going to be busy for a little while.

We must go, declared Eleanor, rising. Its half-past eight. I really ought to study a little bit. Mab, youve a whole page in Spanish to translate. Youd better come along.

All right. Just listen to the wind! Mabel held up her hand. How it shrieks and whistles and wails! The banshees are out, sailing around in the air to-night, I imagine.

Im glad were not out, sailing around the campus, commented Beatrice. Wed certainly sail. We couldnt keep our feet on the ground. Wed be blown about like leaves.

I think Id like to go out and fight with the wind, announced valiant Patsy. As soon as I write my letter Im going to take it out to the mail box.

Good-bye, then. I may never see you again, laughed Eleanor, her hand on the door. Youll be blown into the next county if you venture out to-night.

Then Ill turn around and let the wind blow me back again, retorted Patsy, undismayed by Eleanors warning.

The two Perrys having bade their chums good night and departed for their own room, Patsy settled down to the writing of her letter. Though her fountain pen fled over the paper at rapid speed, it was half-past nine when she committed the product of her industry to an envelope.

There! she said, as she finished writing the address and affixed a stamp. Im going to put on my fur coat and go out to the mail box with this.

Why dont you mail it in the morning? Beatrice advised. I wouldnt go out in that wind if I were you.

But youre not Patsy Carroll, laughed Patsy. Youre ever so much nicer than she is, but not half so reckless.

All right, smiled Beatrice. Go ahead and be whisked into the next county. Ill send a search party after you in the morning.

Farewell, farewell! declaimed Patsy, as she dived into a closet for her fur coat. I shant wear a hat. The wind cant rip off my auburn locks no matter how hard it may try.

Once out of the dormitory, Patsy had not gone six yards before she realized that Eleanors prediction was likely to be fulfilled. The gale swept her along as if a great hand were at her back, forcing her relentlessly forward.

Its going to be worse coming back, she muttered, when at last she had reached the mail box and dropped her letter into it. Im certainly going to have a real fight with this rough old wind.

Turning, she started defiantly toward the dormitory, forging stolidly along in the teeth of the blast.

Crossing the campus diagonally she was over half way to the dormitory when of a sudden she cried out in alarm. At the shadowed rear of the building she had glimpsed something calculated to inspire fear. Rising from the structure was a thick cloud, unmistakably smoke. As she hurried on, her heart pounding wildly, she saw that which fully confirmed her fears. A long yellow tongue of flame pierced the smoke cloud and shot high above it. The dormitory was on fire!

CHAPTER III
NO LOSS WITHOUT GAIN

The few rods that lay between Patsy and the dormitory seemed miles. Flinging open the massive front door at last, she bounded into the corridor. To her dismay, no sounds of excited voices or running feet were to be heard. She could not even smell smoke.

Stopping only long enough to peer into the big living room which was deserted of occupants, she dashed down the long corridor to the heavy double doors leading into the dining room. As she swung one of them open and darted through, a strong smell of burning wood assailed her nostrils.

Instantly she turned and fled back to the corridor. Under the stairs hung a large gong. Next second it was clanging out its harsh command to fire drill. Like every other modern institution of learning, Yardley had its fire drill in which every person in the dormitory was obliged to take part.

Patsys next act was to dart to the telephone. Though her voice quivered with excitement, as she asked Central to turn in the fire alarm, her head was clear and her mind in good working order. She hoped her classmates would show no signs of panic.

Soon the steady tramp, tramp of feet announced that the fire drill was in progress. Down the stairs and into the main corridor filed a procession of girls, some fully dressed, others with long coats thrown on over half-fitted negligees. Though a buzz of voices filled the air, the girls lined up on each side of the corridor in orderly fashion to await further developments.

By this time the matron, Mrs. Ainslee, had gained the corridor and had promptly taken charge of the situation.

The back of the dormitory is on fire! were Patsys first words to the matron. I saw it from the campus. I had gone out to mail a letter. I rang the gong and turned in an alarm to Central. Its very serious on account of the way the winds blowing. If the Alden Hose Company doesnt get here quick the fire will spread so fast that nothing can stop it. I think we ought to get together all the buckets we can and fight it until the fire engines get here.





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