The Little Colonel's Chum: Mary Ware
By ANNIE FELLOWS JOHNSTON
Author of "The Little Colonel Series," "Big Brother," "Ole Mammy's Torment," "Joel: A Boy of Galilee," "Asa Holmes," etc.
Illustrated by ETHELDRED B. BARRY
L.C. PAGE & COMPANY
Copyright, 1908 BY L.C. PAGE AND COMPANY (INCORPORATED)
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Entered at Stationers' Hall, London
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All rights reserved
Made in U.S.A.
Twenty-third Impression, July, 1944 PRINTED IN THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA BY THE COLONIAL PRESS INC., CLINTON, MASS.
Dear Boys and Girls Who Are Old Friends of the Little Colonel:
When I finished the eighth volume of the Little Colonel Stories, The Maid of Honour, I thought I had reached the end of the series, but such a flood of letters came pouring in demanding to know what happened next, that I could not ignore such a plea, and in consequence The Little Colonel's Knight came riding by.
But even with Lloyd married and "living happily ever after" her friends were not satisfied. "You skipped" they complained by the hundreds. "You never told what happened between the time of her engagement and the wedding, and you never told what happened to Betty and Joyce and Mary and Phil and all the rest of them. Even if you haven't time for another book, couldn't you just please write me a little letter and satisfy my curiosity about each character."
Of course I couldn't begin granting all those requests, and finally I was persuaded it would be easier to answer your questions with a new book. So here is Mary Ware, taking up the thread of the story at the first of the skipped places. The time is September, the same September that Betty went away to Warwick Hall to teach and Lloyd began to prepare for her debut in Louisville.
Now this volume covers only one short year, so of course it can not tell you all you want to know. But if you are disappointed because it does not take you to the final milestone, remember that had we gone that far it would have been the end of all our journeying together. And we have it from our Tusitala himself, that best beloved of travellers, for whom in a far island of the sea was dug "a Road to last for ever," that "to travel hopefully is a better thing than to arrive." A.F.J.
CHAPTER PAGE I. MARY ENTERS WARWICK 1 II. "THE KING'S CALL" 18 III. ROOM-MATES 37 IV. "AYE, THERE'S THE RUB!" 56 V. A FAD AND A CHRISTMAS FUND 81 VI. JACK'S WATCH-FOB 103 VII. IN JOYCE'S STUDIO 125 VIII. CHRISTMAS DAY AT EUGENIA'S 141 IX. THE BRIDE-CAKE SHILLING COMES TO LIGHT 163 X. HER SEVENTEENTH BIRTHDAY 190 XI. TROUBLE FOR EVERYBODY 205 XII. THE GOOD-BYE GATE 222 XIII. THE JESTER'S SWORD 237 XIV. BACK AT LONE-ROCK 262 XV. KEEPING TRYST 286
LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS
"HER KEEN GRAY EYES SWEPT HIM ONE QUICK LOOK" (See page 4) Frontispiece
"LAY BACK UNDER ITS SHELTERING CANOPY WITH A SUPPRESSED GIGGLE" 52
"INSTEAD, IT SEEMED AS IF A SMALL CYCLONE SWEPT THROUGH THE ROOM" 79
"THE GIRLISH FIGURE ENVELOPED IN A LONG LOOSE WORKING APRON" 125
"SHE WAS A FASCINATING LITTLE CREATURE, ALL SMILES AND DIMPLES" 153
"ALL SHE SAW WAS THE TELLER'S WINDOW, WITH A SHREWD-EYED MAN BEHIND ITS BARS" 172
"OUT ON THE PORCH SHE HEARD FROM NORMAN HOW IT HAD HAPPENED" 263
"WHEN SHE DROVE A NAIL IT HELD THINGS TOGETHER" 280
THE LITTLE COLONEL'S CHUM: MARY WARE
MARY ENTERS WARWICK HALL
The bus running between Warwick Hall Station and Warwick Hall school drew up at the door of the great castle-like building with as grand a flourish as if it carried the entire Senior class, and deposited one lone passenger upon the steps. As it was several days before the opening of the Fall term, no pupils were expected so soon, and but few of the teachers had returned. There was no one to see the imposing arrival of the little Freshman except the butler, who had been drawn to the front window by the sound of wheels. It devolved on him to answer the knocker this afternoon. In the general confusion of house-cleaning the man who attended the door had been sent up stairs to hang curtains.
That the newcomer was a prospective pupil, Hawkins saw at a glance. He had not been in Madam Chartley's service all these years without learning a few things. That she was over-awed by the magnificence of her surroundings he readily guessed, for she made no movement towards the knocker, only stood and looked timidly up at the massive portal and then across the lawn, where a line of haughty peacocks stood drawn up in gorgeous dress parade on the highest terrace.
"She's feeling like a cat in a strange garret," said the butler to himself with a grin. It was a matter of personal pride with him when strangers seemed duly impressed by the grandeur of this aristocratic old manor-house, now used as a boarding-school. It was a personal affront when they were not. Needless to say his dignity had suffered much at the hands of American school-girls, and although this one seemed impressed by her surroundings almost to the point of panic, he eyed her suspiciously.
"'Eaven knows they lose their shyness soon henough!" he said under his breath. "She can just cool 'er 'eels on the doorstep till she gets courage to knock. 'Twull do 'er good."
But she waited so long that he began to grow uneasy. After that first glance she had turned her back on the door as if she repented coming, and, satchel in hand, stood hesitating on the top step ready for flight. At least that is the way Hawkins interpreted her attitude. He could not see her face.
It was a plain little face, sunburned as a gypsy's, with a generous sprinkling of freckles on her inquisitive nose. But it was a lovable face, happy and eager, with a sweet mouth and alert gray eyes that seemed to see to the bottom of everything. Sometimes its expression made it almost beautiful. This was one of the times.
She was not gazing regretfully after the departed 'bus as Hawkins surmised, but with a pleasure so keen that it fairly made her catch her breath, she was looking at the strange landscape and recognizing places here and there, made familiar by kodak pictures, and the enthusiastic descriptions of old pupils. There was the long flight of marble steps leading down the stately terraces to the river—the beautiful willow-fringed Potomac. There was the pergola overhung with Abbotsford ivy, and the wonderful old garden with the sun-dial, and the rhododendrons from Killarney. She had heard so much about this place that it had grown to be a sort of enchanted land of dreams to her, and now the thought that she was actually here in the midst of it made her draw in her breath with a delicious little shiver.
Hawkins, from his peep-hole through one of the mullioned sidelights of the great entrance, to which he had now advanced, saw the shiver, and misinterpreting it, suddenly opened the door. It gave her such a start, so absorbed had she been in her surroundings, that she almost toppled down the steps. But the next instant it was Hawkins who was having the start. Unabashed by his pompous manner, her keen gray eyes swept him one quick look from his sphinx-like face to his massive shoe-buckles, as if she had been given some strange botanical specimen to label and classify. Without an instant's hesitation she exclaimed in the tone of one making a delightful discovery, "Why, it's Hawkins!"
It was positively uncanny to the man that this stranger on whom he had never laid eyes before should call him by name. He wondered if she were one of these new-fangled mind-readers he had been hearing so much about. It was also upsetting to find that he had been mistaken about her delay in knocking. There was anything but timidity in the grand air with which she gave him her card, saying, "Announce me to Madam Chartley, Hawkins."
She was a plump little body, ill adapted to stately airs and graces, but she had been rehearsing this entrance mentally for days, and she swept into the reception room as if she were the daughter of a duke.
"There!" she said to herself as the portieres dropped behind her. "I hope he was properly impressed." Then catching sight of her reflection in a long mirror opposite, she wilted into an attitude of abject despair. A loop of milliner's wire, from which the ribbon had slipped, stood up stiff and straight in the bow on her hat. She proceeded to put it back in place with anxious pats and touches, exclaiming in an anguished whisper,
"Oh, why is it, that whenever I feel particularly imposing and Queen Annish inside, I always look so dishevelled and Mary Annish outside! Here's my hat cocked over one eye and my hair straggling out in wisps like a crazy thing. I wonder what Hawkins thought."
Hawkins, on his way up stairs was spelling out the name on the card he carried. "Miss Mary Ware, Phoenix, Arizona."
"Humph!" was his mental exclamation. "From one of the jumping hoff places." Then his mind reverted to the several detective tales that made up his knowledge of the far West. "'Ope she doesn't carry a gun 'idden hon 'er person."
Now that the first ordeal was over and she was safely inside the doors of Warwick Hall, the new pupil braced herself for the next one, the meeting with Madam Chartley. She wouldn't have been quite so nervous over it if she had been sure of a welcome, but the catalogue stated distinctly that no pupils could be received before the fifteenth of September, and this was only the twelfth. She had the best of reasons for coming ahead of time, and was sure that Madam Chartley would make an exception in her case when once the matter was properly explained. The friends in whose care she had travelled from Phoenix had expected to spend several days in Washington, sight-seeing, and she was to have been their guest until the opening of school. But a telegram met them calling them immediately to Boston. She couldn't stay alone at a strange hotel, she knew no one in the entire city, and there was no course open to her but to come on to school.
It was easy enough for her to see why she might not be welcome. There was a vigorous washing of windows going on over the whole establishment, a sound of carpenters in the background and a smell of fresh paint and furniture polish to the fore. Everything was out of its usual orbit in the process of getting ready for the opening day.
Lying awake the night before in the upper berth of the hot Pullman car, Mary had carefully planned her little speech of explanation, and had rehearsed it a dozen times since. But now her heart was beating so fast and her throat was so dry she knew the words would stick at the very time she needed them most. Feeling as if she were about to have a tooth pulled, she sank into a large upholstered rocking chair to wait. It tipped back so far that her toes could not reach the floor, and she sprang out again in a hurry. One could never feel at ease in an infantile position like that.
Then she tried a straight chair, imitating the pose of a majestic gentlewoman in one of the portraits on the panelled wall. It was one of Madam's grand ancestors she conjectured. A glance into the tell-tale mirror made her sigh despairingly again. She was not built on majestic lines herself. No matter how queenly and imposing she might feel in that attitude, she only looked ridiculously stiff.
Once more she changed her seat, flouncing down on a low sofa, and struggling for a graceful position with one elbow leaning on a huge silk cushion. It was in all seriousness that she made these changes, realizing that she could not appear at her best unless she felt at ease. But the humour of the situation was not lost on her. An amused smile dimpled her face as she gave the sofa cushion a thump and once more changed her seat. "I'm worse than Goldilocks trying all the chairs of the three bears, but that's too loppy!"
She whisked into a fourth seat, this time opposite the portieres. To her consternation the parted curtains revealed an appalling fact. Not only could the winding stairway be seen from where she sat, but the entire interior of the reception room must be equally visible to any one coming down the steps. The dignified white-haired Personage now on the bottom step must have seen every move she made as she darted around the room trying the chairs in turn.
The faint gleam of suppressed amusement on Madam Chartley's face as she entered, confirmed the girl's fears. It was unthinkable that such a mortifying situation should go unexplained, yet for a moment after Madam's courteous greeting Mary stood tongue-tied. Then she burst out, her face fairly purple:
"Oh, I wish you could change places with me for just five minutes! Then you'd know how it feels to always put your worst foot first and make a mess of everything!"
Madam Chartley had welcomed many types of girls to her school and was familiar with every shade of embarrassment, but she had never been greeted with quite such an outburst as this. Desperate to make herself understood, Mary began in the middle of her carefully planned speech and breathlessly explained backward, as to why she had arrived at this inopportune time. The explanation was so characteristic of her, so heart-felt and utterly honest, that it revealed far more than she intended and opened a wide door into Madam's sympathies. As she stood looking down at the girl with grave kind eyes, Mary suddenly became aware of a strangely comforting thing. This was not an awesome personage, but a dear adorable being who could understand. The discovery made the second part of her explanation easier. She plunged into it headlong as soon as they were seated.
"You see, I've heard so much about Hawkins and the way he sometimes confuses the new girls with his grand London airs till they're too rattled to eat, that I made up my mind that even if I am from Arizona, I'd made him think that I've always 'dwelt in marble halls, with vassals and serfs at my side.' I thought I was making a perfectly regal entrance, till I looked into the mirror and saw how dilapidated I was after my long journey. It took all the heart out of me and made me dreadfully nervous about meeting you. I was trying to get into an easy attitude that would make me feel more self-possessed when you came down. That is why I was experimenting with all the sofas and chairs. Oh, you've no idea how the Walton girls and Lloyd Sherman and Betty Lewis have talked about you," she went on hurriedly, eager to justify herself. "They made me feel that you were—well—er—sort of like royalty you know. That one ought to courtesy and back out from your presence as they do at court."
Madam laughed an appreciative little laugh that showed a thorough enjoyment of the situation. "But when you saw that the girls were mistaken—"
Mary interrupted hurriedly, blushing again in her confusion. "No, no! they were not mistaken! You're exactly as they described you, only they didn't tell me how—how—er," she groped frantically for the word and finished lamely, "how human you are."
She had started to say "how adorable you are," but checked herself, afraid it would sound too gushing on first acquaintance, although that was exactly what she felt.
"I mean," she continued, in her effort to be understood, "it seems from the way you put yourself in my place so quickly, that once upon a time you must have been the same kind of girl that I am. But of course I know you were not. You were Lloyd Sherman's kind. She just naturally does the right thing in the right place, and there's no occasion for her being a copy-cat. That's what Jack calls me. Jack is my brother."
Madam laughed again, such an appreciative, friendly laugh, that Mary joined in, wondering how the other girls could think her cold and unapproachable. It seemed to her that Madam was one of the most responsive and sympathetic listeners she had ever had, and it moved her to go on with her confidences.
"Jack says I am not built on the same lines as the Princess. Princess Winsome is one of our names for Lloyd. And he says it is ridiculous for me to try to do things the way she does. He is always quoting Epictetus to me: 'Were I a nightingale I would act the part of a nightingale; were I a swan, the part of a swan.' He says that trying to copy her is what makes me just plain goose so much of the time."
Madam Chartley, long accustomed to reading girls, knew that it was not vanity or egotism which prompted these confessions, only a girlish eagerness to be measured by her highest ideals and not by appearances. She saw at a glance the possibilities of the material that lay here at her hand. Out of it might be wrought a strong, helpful character such as the world always needs, and such as she longed to send out with every graduate who passed through her doors. Many things were awaiting her attention elsewhere, but she lingered to extend their acquaintance a trifle further.
"You know Lloyd Sherman well, I believe," she said. "I remember that you gave Mrs. Sherman as one of your references when you applied for admission to the school, and I had a highly satisfactory letter from her about you in reply to my inquiry. Now that we speak of it I am reminded that Lloyd added a most enthusiastic post-script concerning you."
Mary's face flushed with a pleasure so intense it was almost painful. "Oh, did she?" she cried eagerly. "We've been friends always, even with half a continent between us. Our mothers were school-mates. Lloyd was more Joyce's friend than mine at first, because they are nearer of an age. (Joyce is my sister. She's an artist now in New York City, and we think she's going to be famous some day. She does such beautiful designing.) Lloyd has been my model ever since I was eleven years old. I'd rather be like her than anybody I ever knew or read of, so I don't mind Jack calling me a copy-cat for trying. One of the reasons I wanted to come to Warwick Hall was that she had been here. Would you believe it?" she rattled on, "Last night on the sleeping-car I counted up forty-two good reasons for wanting to come here to school."
It had been many a moon since Mary's remarks had met with such flattering attention. Not realizing she was being studied she felt that Madam was genuinely interested. It encouraged her to go on.
"Jack gave me my choice of all the schools in the United States, and I chose this without hesitating an instant. Jack is paying my expenses you know. I couldn't have come a step if it hadn't been for him, and there wouldn't have been the faintest shadow of a hope of coming if he hadn't been promoted to the position of assistant manager at the mines. Oh, Madam Chartley, I wish you knew Jack! He's just the dearest brother that ever lived! So unselfish and so ambitious for us all"—
She stopped abruptly, feeling that she was letting her enthusiasm run away with her tongue. But Madam, noting the quick leap of light to her eyes and the eager clasping of her hands as she spoke of him wanted to hear more. She was sure that in these naive confessions she would find the key-note to Mary's character. So with a few well chosen questions she encouraged her to go on, till she had gathered a very accurate idea of the conditions which had produced this wholesome enthusiastic little creature, almost a woman in some respects, the veriest child in others.
Mary had had an uneventful life, she judged, limited to the narrow bounds of a Kansas village, and later to the still narrower circle of experiences in the lonely little home they had made on the edge of the desert, when Mrs. Ware's quest of health led them to Arizona. But it was a life that had been lifted out of the ordinary by the brave spirit which made a jest of poverty, and held on to the refining influences even while battling back the wolf from the door. It had made a family of philosophers of them, able to extract pleasure from trifles, and to find it where most people would never dream of looking.
As she listened, Madam began to feel warmly drawn to the entire family who had taken the good old Vicar of Wakefield for an example, and adopted one of his sayings as a rule of life: "Let us be inflexible and fortune will at last turn in our favour."
Mary had no intention of revealing so much personal history, but she had to quote the motto to show how triumphantly it had worked out in their case and what a grand turn fortune had taken in their favour after so many years of struggle to keep inflexible in the face of repeated disappointments and troubles. It had turned for all of them. Joyce, after several years of work and worry with her bees, had realized enough from them to start on her career as an artist. Holland was at Annapolis in training for the navy. Within the last six weeks Jack's promotion had made possible his heart's desire, to send Mary to school and to bring his mother and thirteen year old brother to Lone-Rock, the little mining town where he had been boarding, ever since Mr. Sherman gave him his first position there, several years before.
Mary was so bubbling over with the pleasure these things gave her that it was impossible not to feel some share of it when one looked at her. As Madam Chartley led the way to the office she felt a desire to add still more to her pleasure. It was refreshing to see some one who could enjoy even little things so thoroughly. She bent over the ledger a moment, scanning the page containing the list of Freshmen who had passed the strict entrance requirements.
"I had already assigned you to a room," she said, "but from what you tell me I fancy you would count it a privilege to be given Lloyd's old room. If that is so I'll gladly make the change, although I do not know whether the other girl assigned to that room will prove as congenial a companion to you as the first selection. Her mother asked for that particular room, so I cannot well change."
Mary's face grew radiant. "Oh, Madam Chartley!" she cried. "I'd room with a Hottentot for a chance to stay inside the four walls that held the Princess all her school-days. You don't know how much it means to me! You've made me the happiest girl on the face of the globe."
"It's a far cry from Ethelinda Hurst to a Hottentot," laughed Madam Chartley. "She comes from one of the wealthiest homes in the suburbs of Chicago, and has had every advantage that civilization can offer. She's been abroad eight times, I believe, and has always studied at home under private tutors. She's an only daughter."
"How interesting! That will be lots more diverting than a room-mate who has always done the same common-place things that I have. Oh, you've no idea how hard I'm going to work to deserve all this! I wrote to Jack last night that I intend to tackle school this year just the way I used to kill snakes—with all my might and main!"
An amused expression crossed Madam Chartley's face again. She was thinking of Ethelinda and the possible effect the two girls might have on each other. At any rate it was an experiment worth trying. It might prove beneficial to them both. She turned to Mary with a smile, and pressed a button beside her desk.
"Your trunk shall be sent up as soon as the men find time to attend to it. In the meantime you may take possession of your room as soon as you please."
"THE KING'S CALL"
Left to herself in the room which she was to occupy for the year, Mary stood looking around with the keen interest of an explorer. It was a pleasant room, with two windows looking out over the river and two over the garden. To an ordinary observer it had no claim to superiority over the other apartments, but to Mary it was a sort of shrine. Here in the low chair by the window her Princess Winsome had sat to read and study and dream all through her school days.
Here was the mirror that had caught her passing reflection so often, that it still seemed to hold a thousand shadowy semblances of her in its shining depths. Only the June before (three short months ago) she had stood in front of it in all the glory of her Commencement gown.
Mary crossed the room on tiptoe, smiling at the recollection of one of her early make-believes. Oh, if it were only true that one could pass through the looking-glass into the wonderland behind it, what a charming picture gallery she would find! All the girls who had occupied the room since Warwick Hall had been a school! Blue eyes and brown, laughing faces and wistful ones, girls in gorgeous full dress, pluming themselves for some evening entertainment, girls in dainty undress and unbound hair, exchanging bed-time confidences as they prepared for the night, ambitious little saints and frivolous little sinners—they were all there, somewhere in the dim background of the mirror, and because of them there was a subtle charm about the room to Mary, which she would not have felt if she had been its first occupant.
"It's like opening an old drawer to drop in a handful of fresh rose-leaves, and finding it sweet with the roses of a dozen Junes gone by," she said to herself, so pleased with the fancy that she went on elaborating it.
"And Lloyd has been here so lately that her rose-leaves haven't even begun to wither."
There is no loyalty like the loyalty of a little school-girl for the older girl whom she has enshrined in her heart as her ideal; no sentiment like the intense admiration which puts a halo around everything the beloved voice ever praised, or makes sacred everything the beloved fingers have touched. Mary Ware at sixteen had not outgrown any of the ardent admiration for Lloyd Sherman which had seized her when she was only eleven, and now the desire to be like her flared up stronger than ever.
She peered wistfully into the mirror, thinking, "Maybe just being in her old room will help, because I shall be reminded of her at every turn."
For a moment the selfish wish was uppermost that she need not share the room with any one. It seems almost desecration for a person who did not know and love Lloyd to be so intimately associated with her. But Mary's love of companionship was strong. Half the fun of boarding school in her opinion was in having a room-mate, and she could not forego that pleasure even for the sake of a very deep and tender sentiment. But she made the most of her solitude while she had it. From kodak pictures she had seen of the room, she knew at a glance which of the narrow white beds had been Lloyd's, and immediately pre-empted it for herself, staking out her claim by depositing her hat and gloves upon it.
As soon as her trunk was brought up stairs she fell to work unpacking, with an energy in no wise diminished by the fatigue of the tiresome journey. She had been cooped up on the cars so long that she was fairly aching for something to do. In an hour's time all her clothes were neatly folded or hung away, her shoe-pocket tacked inside the closet door, her laundry-bag hung on a convenient nail, her few pictures arranged in a group over her bed, and exactly half of the table laid out with her portfolio, books and work-basket. She had been not only just but generous in the division of property. She had left more than half the drawer space and closet hooks for the use of the unknown Ethelinda; the most comfortable chair, and the best lighted end of the table. That was because she herself had had first choice in the matter of bed and dressing table, and having seized upon the most desirable from her point of view, felt that she owed the other girl some reparation. Because they had been Lloyd's she wanted them so strongly that she was ready to sacrifice everything else in the room for them, or even fight for their possession if necessary.
By the time all was in order, the tall Lombardy poplars were throwing long shadows on the green sward of the terraces, and from the window she could see the garden, lying so sweet and still in the drowse of the late afternoon that she longed to be down in it. She hurried to change the rumpled shirt-waist in which she had finished her journey and done her unpacking, for a fresh white dress. It was proof that the room was exerting some influence to make her like her model, that even in her haste she made a careful toilet. Remembering how dainty and thorough-going Lloyd always was in her dressing, she scrubbed away until every vestige of travel-stain was gone. All fresh and rosy, down to her immaculate finger-tips, she scanned herself in the mirror, from the carefully tied bow in her hair to the carefully tied bows on her slippers, and nodded approvingly. She could stand inspection now from the whole row of them—all those girls on the other side of the looking-glass, who somehow seemed so near and real to her.
As she turned away from the mirror, her glance rested on the little group of home pictures she had put up over her bed. The tents and tiny two-roomed cottage that they called Ware's Wigwam looked small and cramped compared to this great Hall with its wide corridors and spacious rooms. It had always seemed to Mary that she was born to live in kings' houses, she so enjoyed luxurious surroundings, but a homesick pang seized her now, as she looked down on the picture and remembered that she could never go back to it.
"It doesn't seem as if I have any home now," she sighed, "for I didn't stay long enough in the new place at Lone-Rock to get used to it. I know I shall always love the Wigwam best, and when I think of it standing empty or maybe turned over to strangers, it makes me feel as if one of my best friends had died. I'm glad we took so many pictures of it, and that I kept a record of all the good times we had there. Oh, that reminds me! There's one more thing I must do before sundown—bring my diary up to date. I haven't written a line in it for six weeks."
The out-doors was too alluring to waste another moment in the house, however, so gathering up her diary and fountain-pen, she went down stairs and out into the garden, feeling as the gate swung to behind her that she was stepping into an old, old English garden belonging to some ducal estate. Coming as she did straight from the edge of the desert, with its burning stretches of sand, its cactus and greasewood, its bare red buttes and lank rows of cotton-wood trees, this Eden of green and bloom had a double charm for her.
For a long time she wandered up and down its winding paths, finding many a shady pleasance hidden away among its labyrinths of hedges, where one might be tempted to stop and dream away a whole long summer afternoon. But she did not pause until she came to a sort of court surrounded by rustic arbours, where a fountain splashed in the centre, and an ancient sun-dial marked the hours. With a pleased cry of recognition she ran across the closely clipped turf, to read the motto carved on the dial's face: "I only mark the hours that shine."
"The very words that Betty wrote in my Good Times Book the day she gave it to me," she said, opening her diary to verify the motto on the fly-leaf.
"It was beyond my wildest dreams then that I'd ever be standing here in Warwick Hall garden, reading them for myself! I mustn't wait another minute to make a record of this good time."
Choosing a seat in one of the arbours where a humming bird was darting in and out through a tangle of vines, she opened the thick red book in which she had kept a faithful record of her doings and goings for the last two years, and glanced at the last entry. The date was such an old one that she read the last few pages to refresh her memory.
"THE WIGWAM, Thursday, August 4th.
"Jack came home yesterday to our joyful surprise. Mr. Sherman had telegraphed him to come at once to Kentucky, on a flying trip to consult with the directors of the mine. As he had to pass through Phoenix anyhow, he managed it so that he could stay over night with us. I am so happy over the prospect of his having a chance at last to see our 'Promised Land' that I am fairly beside myself. I sat up half the night making cookies and gingerbread and rolls, and broiling chickens for his lunch. He says he's been hungry for home-cooking so long that it will go away ahead of dining-car fare.
"Everything turned out beautifully, and while I waited for them to bake I wrote a list of the things he must see and questions he must ask at The Locusts; things I've wanted to know ever since I came back from Lloydsboro Valley, and yet you can't very well find out just in letters. He left on this morning's early train. If he finds he can take the time, he's going on to Annapolis for a day, just to get a glimpse of Holland, and then to New York for a day and a half with Joyce. Good old Jack! He's certainly earned his holiday. I can hardly wait for him to come home and tell all about it."
Spreading the book out on her knees, Mary adjusted her pen and began to write rapidly, for words always crowded to her pen-point as they did to her tongue, with a rush.
"WARWICK HALL, September 12.
"Little did I think when I wrote that last line, that six whole weeks would pass before I added another, or that my next entry would be made in this beautiful old garden that I have dreamed of so long. Little did I think I would be sitting here beside the old sun-dial, or that such an hour could shine for me as the happy hour when Jack came back.
"I drove into Phoenix to meet him, and I knew from the way he waved his hat and swung off the steps before the train stopped that he had good news, and it was! Perfectly splendid! They had made him assistant manager of the mines, with a great big salary that would make a change in all our fortunes. I thought it was queer that he should bring a trunk back with him, for he went away with only a suit-case, but I was so busy asking questions about Joyce and Holland and everybody at The Locusts, that there wasn't time or breath to ask about the trunk. We were half way home before he got around to that.
"He said his first thought when they told him of his promotion was, 'Now Mary can have her heart's desire and go away to school.' And on the way to New York he planned it all out, how we'd give up the Wigwam, and take a house in Lone-Rock, and he'd get some one to help Mamma with the work, and he'd have Norman under his eye all the time when he was out of school, and keep him out of mischief. He's been wanting to do that ever since he went to the mines, for there never was such a home-body. He can't bear to board.
"Nearly all of that little scrap of a visit he and Joyce had together, those blessed children spent in getting my clothes. Joyce has all my measurements, and they got me three dresses and a hat and a lot of shirt-waists and gloves and fixings, all so beautiful and stylish and New Yorkey, and the fine big trunk to put them in. There was even a new brush and comb and mirror, for she remembered how ratty looking my old things were. And there was a letter portfolio and a silk umbrella and a lot of odds and ends that all school-girls need. I don't believe they overlooked a thing to make my outfit complete, and I know they're as nice as any the others will have, for Joyce has such good taste and always knows just what is fit and proper. I feel so elegant in my pretty blue travelling suit, and I'm just aching for a chance to wear the beautiful little evening dresses they chose, one white pongee, and the other some new sort of goods that looks just like a soft shimmery cloud, a regular picture dress.
"Jack went on to the mines next day, and after that everything was in a whirl till we were moved and settled, for there was so much to do, packing the furniture to be shipped, and after we got to the new house unpacking again and shifting things around till it got all liveable and homelike. By that time it was time for me to get my things together and go down to Phoenix to meet the people who had offered to take me under their wing on their way back East. Judge and Mrs. Stockton brought me. I must remember the date of Mrs. Stockton's birthday, November the fourth, and send her one of those bead purses. She admired the one she saw me making so much that I know she would like it, and she certainly was an angel to me on the trip. It seems to me it's my luck to meet nice people everywhere I go.
"I'm not going to wait till the last Thursday in November for my Thanksgiving Day. I've got seven good reasons for thanksgiving this very minute. First, we got here without a wreck. Second, the ribbon on my hat doesn't show a single spot, after all the hard shower that we got caught in, that I thought had ruined it. Third, I think I impressed Hawkins as I hoped to, even if I was a bit nervous. Fourth, while my introduction to Madam Chartley was horribly mortifying, all's well that ends well, and she didn't lay it up against me. I think she must have taken quite a fancy to me instead or she wouldn't have given me my fifth and greatest reason for thankfulness, the privilege of occupying Lloyd's old room. Maybe I oughtn't to put that as the greatest reason, for of course it's greater just to be here at all, and seventh, I'll never get done being thankful that I've got Jack for a brother. That really is the best of all, and I'm going to make so much out of my opportunities this year, that he'll feel repaid for all he's done for me, and be glad and proud that he could do it."
Filling another page with an account of her journey and her impressions of the place, Mary closed her journal with a sigh of relief that the long-neglected entry had been made. Then she leaned back on the rustic bench and gave herself up to the enjoyment of her surroundings. The fountain splashed softly. A lazy breeze stirred the vines, and fanned her face. Far below, the shining Potomac took its slow way to the sea between its lines of drooping willows. The calm and repose of the stately old place seemed to steal in on her soul not only through eye and ear and sense of touch, but at every pore.
"It's the strangest thing," she mused. "I must be a sort of chameleon, the way I change with my surroundings. It doesn't seem possible that only last week I was scrambling around with my head tied up in a towel, scrubbing and cleaning and dragging furniture around at a break-neck speed. I could almost believe I've never done anything all my life but trail around this garden at my elegant leisure like some fine lady-in-waiting."
There was time for a stroll down to the river before the falling twilight recalled her to the house. As she went down the flight of marble steps it was with the self-conscious feeling that she was a girl in a play, and this was one of the scenes in Act I. She had seen a setting like this on a stage one time, when a beautiful lady trailed down the steps of a Venetian palace to the gondola waiting in the lagoon below. To be sure Mary's dress did not trail, and she was not tall and willowy outwardly, but it made no difference as long as she could feel that she was. For a long time she walked slowly back and forth along the river path, pausing now and then to look up at the great castle-like building above her. She had never seen one before so suggestive of old-world grandeur. Already it was giving her more than she would find inside in its text-books. Peculiarly susceptible to surroundings, she unconsciously held herself more erect, as if such a stately habitation demanded it of her. And when she climbed the steps again, with it looming up before her in the red afterglow, the dignity and repose of its lines, from its massive portal to its highest turret, awakened a response in her beauty-loving little soul that thrilled her like music.
She went softly through the great door and up the stair-case, pausing for a moment on the landing to look at the coat-of-arms in the stained glass window. It was a copy of the window in the old ancestral castle in England, that belonged to Madam Chartley's family. Mary already knew the story of its traditional founder, the first Edryn who had won his knighthood in valiant deeds for King Arthur. In the dim light the coat-of-arms gleamed like jewels in an amber setting, and the heart in the crest, the heart out of which rose a mailed hand grasping a spear, was like a great ruby.
"I keep the tryste," whispered Mary, reading the motto of the scroll underneath. "No wonder Madam Chartley grew up to be so patrician. Anybody might with a window like that in the house."
Some one began striking loud full chords on a piano in one of the rooms below; some one with a strong masterful touch. Mary was sure it was a man. By leaning over the banister until she almost lost her balance, she caught a glimpse of a pair of black coat-tails swinging awkwardly over a piano bench. Herr Vogelbaum, the musical director, must have arrived. Probably she would meet him at dinner. That was something to look forward to—an artist who had played before crowned heads and had been lionized all over Germany. And then the chords rolled into something so beautiful and inspiring that Mary knew that for the first time in her life she was hearing really great music, played by a master. She sat down on the steps to listen.
The self-conscious feeling that she was acting a part in a play came back afresh, and made her hastily pull down her skirts and assume a listening attitude. Thinking how effective she would look on a stage she leaned back against the carved banister, clasping her hands around her knees, and gazing up at the ruby heart in the stained glass window above her. But in a moment both self and pose were forgotten. She had never dreamed that the world held such music as the flood of melody which came rolling up from below. It seemed to lift her out of herself and into another world; a world of nameless longings and exalted ambitions, of burning desire to do great deeds. Something was calling her—calling and calling with the compelling note of a far-off yet insistent trumpet, and as she gazed at the mailed hand with the spear rising triumphantly out of the ruby heart, she began to understand. A feeling of awe crept over her, that she, little Mary Ware, should be hearing the same call that Edryn heard. Somewhere, some day, some great achievement awaited her. Now she knew that that was why she had been born into the world. That was why, too, that Providence had opened a way for her to come to Warwick Hall, that she might learn what was to be "the North-star of her great ambition," and how "to keep the compass needle of her soul" ever true to it.
Clasping her hands together as reverently and humbly as if she were before an altar, she looked up at the ruby heart, her face all alight, whispering Edryn's answer:
"'Tis the King's call! O list! O heart and hand of mine keep tryst— Keep tryst or die!"
The music stopped as suddenly as it had begun, and all a-tingle with the exalted mood in which it left her, she ran up to her room and knelt by the window, looking out into the dusk with eager shining eyes. As yet it was all vague and shadowy, that mysterious future which awaited her. With what great duty to the universe she was to keep tryst she did not know; but whatever it was she would do it at any cost. To callow wings no flight is too high to attempt. At sixteen all things are possible.
All girls of Mary's imaginative impulsive temperament have had such moments, under the spell of some unusual inspiration, but their dreams are apt to vanish at contact with the earth again, as suddenly as a bubble breaks when some material object touches it. But with Mary the vision stayed. True, it had to retire into the background when dinner was announced, and her over-weening curiosity brought her down to the consideration of common everyday affairs, but she did not lose the sense of having been set apart in some way by that supreme moment on the stair. To the world she might be only an ordinary little Freshman, but inwardly she knew she was a sort of Joan of Arc, called and consecrated to some high destiny.
She went down to dinner in an uplifted frame of mind that made her passage down the long dining room in the wake of Madam and the few returned teachers a veritable march of triumph. The feeling that the curtain had gone up on an interesting play in which she was chief actor came back stronger than ever when she took her seat in one of the high-backed ebony chairs, with the carved griffins atop, and unfolded her napkin in the gaze of a long line of ancestral portraits.
Madam Chartley, who had been looking forward to the dinner hour with some apprehension on the new pupil's account, knowing she would be obliged to curb the lively little tongue if she talked at the table as she had done in the reception room, was amazed at the change in her. Warwick Hall had done its work. Already the little chameleon had taken on the colour of her surroundings. Hawkins, in all his years of London service, had never served a more demure, self-possessed little English maiden, or one who listened with greater deference to the conversation of her elders.
She spoke only when she was spoken to, but some of her odd, unexpected replies made Herr Vogelbaum look up with an interest he rarely took in anything outside of his music and his dinner. Miss Chilton was so amused at her accounts of Arizona life, that she invited her up to her room, and led her into a conversation that revealed her most original traits.
"She's a bright little thing," Miss Chilton reported to Madam afterward, "The kind of a girl who is bound to be popular in a school, just because she's so different and interesting."
"She is more than that," answered Madam, smiling over the recollection of some of her quaint speeches. "She is lovable. She has 'the divine gift of making friends,'"
Up in her orderly room, on opening day, Mary listened to the bustle of arrivals, and the stir of unpacking going on all over the house. The cordial greetings called back and forth from the various rooms and the laughter in the halls made her long to have a part in the general sociability. She wished that it were necessary for her to borrow a hammer or to ask information about the trunk-room and the porter, as the other new girls were doing. That would give her an excuse for going into some of the rooms and making acquaintance with their occupants. But everything was in absolute order, and she was already familiar with the place and its rules. There was nothing for her to do but take out her bead-work and occupy herself with that as best she could until the arrival of her room-mate.
She set her door invitingly open, ready to meet more than half way any advances her neighbours might choose to make. While she sorted her beads she amused herself by fitting together the scraps of conversation which floated her way, and making guesses as to the personality of the speakers. Twice her open door brought the reward of a transient visitor. Once a jolly Sophomore glanced in to say "I just wanted to see who has the American Beauty room. That's what we called it last term when Kitty Walton and Lloyd Sherman had it."
Soon after, a girl across the hall whom Mary had already identified as one Dora Irene Derwent, called Dorene for short, darted in unceremoniously with an agonized plea for a bit of court-plaster.
"I cut my finger on a piece of glass in a picture frame that got broken in my trunk," she explained, unwinding her handkerchief to see if the bleeding had stopped. "I can't find my emergency case, and Cornie Dean never was known to keep anything of the sort. All the other rooms are so upset I knew it was of no use to apply to them."
Happy that such an opportunity had come at last and that she could supply the demand, Mary examined the injured finger and began to trim a strip of plaster the required size. At the moment of cutting herself Dorene had dropped the broken glass, but for some unaccountable reason had thrust the frame under her arm, and was holding it hugged tight to her side by her elbow. Now as she put out her hand for Mary's inspection, she sat down on the edge of the bed, and let the frame slip from her grasp to the counterpane. The photograph side lay uppermost, and Mary, glancing at it casually, gave an exclamation of surprise.
"Why, it's Betty! Betty Lewis! Do you know her?"
"Well, rather!" was the emphatic answer. "She was my crush all my Freshman year. I suppose you know what that means if you've ever had a case yourself. I simply adored her, and could hardly bear to come back the next year because she was graduated and gone. I haven't seen her since, but you can imagine my delight when I found her name in this year's catalogue, as one of the teachers. We never imagined she'd teach, for she has such a wonderful gift for writing; but it will be simply delightful to have her back again. She's such a dear. But where did you happen to know her?" she added as an afterthought. "Are you from Lloydsboro Valley, too?"
"No, but I visited there once at Lloyd Sherman's home where Betty lives. Lloyd's mother is Betty's god-mother, you know, and Betty's mother was my sister Joyce's god-mother. We're all mixed up that way on account of our mothers being old school friends, as if we were related. Of course, I shall call her Miss Lewis before the other girls. Mamma says it wouldn't be showing proper respect not to. But it's such a comfort to be able to call her Betty behind the scenes. She came yesterday. Last night she was up in my room for more than an hour with me, talking about the places and people we both know in the valley. It made me so happy I could hardly go to sleep. Elise Walton came with her, Kitty's sister, you know."
"Oh, is she as bright and funny as Kitty?" demanded Dorene. "If she is we certainly shall lay siege to you two for our sorority. We ought to have first claim, for all the other Lloydsboro Valley girls belong to us. Come over and see Cornie."
Conscious that as a friend of the Valley girls she had gone up many degrees in Dorene's estimation, Mary put away her scissors and plaster-case, and followed her newfound acquaintance across the hall. Her cordial reception gave her what she had been longing for all morning, the sense of being in intimate touch with things in the inner circle of school life. Because she knew Lloyd and Betty so well, they took her in as one of themselves, gave her a seat on a suit-case, the chairs all being full, and climbed over her and around her as they went on with their unpacking. Mary was in her element, and blossomed out into such an interesting visitor, that Dorene was glad that she had discovered her. This was the beginning of the fourth year that she and Cornie had roomed together, and to Mary their companionship seemed ideal.
"I hope my room-mate will prove as congenial as you two," she said, after listening half an hour to their laughing repartee and their ridiculous discussions as to the arrangement of their pictures and bric-a-brac. "I've been looking forward all morning to her coming. Every time I think of her I have the same excited, creepy feeling that I used to have when I opened a prize pop-corn box. My little brother and I used to save all our pennies for them when we were little tots back in Kansas. We didn't eat the pop-corn, that is I didn't. It was the flutter and thrill I wanted, that comes when you've almost reached the bottom of the box, and know the next grab will bring the prize into your fingers. I was always hoping I might find one of those little rings with a red setting that I could pretend was a real garnet. No matter if it did always turn out to be nothing but a toy soldier or a tin whistle, there was always some kind of a surprise, and that delicious uncertain creepy feeling first."
"Well, you don't always draw a prize in your pop-corn when you're drawing room-mates, I can tell you that!" announced Cornie emphatically.
"I was at a school the year before I came here, where I had to room with a girl who almost drove me to distraction. She was a mild, modest little thing, who, as Cowper says:
"'Would not with a peremptory tone Assert the nose upon her face her own.'
Yet she'd do things that would provoke me beyond endurance. Sometimes I could hardly keep from choking her."
"What kind of things for instance?" asked Mary.
"Well, for one thing, and it does seem a little one when you tell it, we had about a thousand photographs, more or less, perched around on the mantel and walls. Essie was so painfully modest that she couldn't bear to undress with them looking at her, so she'd turn their faces to the wall, and then next morning she'd be so slow about getting down to breakfast that there wouldn't be time to turn them back. There my poor family and friends would have to stay with their faces to the wall all day as if they were in disgrace, unless I went around and turned them all back myself.
"Then she was such a queer little mouse; didn't really come out of her hole and get sociable until after dark. As soon as the lights were out and we were in bed, she'd want to talk. No matter how sleepy I was, that was the time to tell all her troubles. She was so humble and respectful in asking my advice that I couldn't throw a pillow at her and shut her up, so there she'd lie and talk in a stage whisper till after midnight. Then it was like pulling teeth to get her up in the morning. She took to setting an alarm clock for awhile, to rouse her early and give her half an hour to wake up in. It never made the slightest difference to her, but always wakened me. Finally I unscrewed the alarm key and hid it. She was so sensitive that I couldn't scold and fuss about things. Now with Dorene here, I simply gag her when she talks too much, shut her in the closet when she gets in my way, and scalp her when she doesn't do as she is bid."
Without any reason for forming such a mental picture of her prospective room-mate, Mary had imagined her to be a blue-eyed, golden-haired little creature, with a sort of wax-doll prettiness: a girl made to be petted and considered and shielded like a delicate flower. The type appealed to her. Independent and capable herself, she was prepared to be almost motherly in her care for Ethelinda's comfort. With this preconceived notion it was somewhat of a shock when she went back to her room and found the real Ethelinda being ushered into it.
She was not blue-eyed and appealing. She was large, she was self-assured, and she took possession of the room in an expansive all-pervading sort of way that made Mary feel very small and insignificant. The room itself that heretofore had been so spacious suddenly seemed to shrink, and when a huge trunk was brought in, it was fairly crowded.
Mary drew her chair into the narrow space between the bed and the window, but even there she felt in the way. "I don't see why I should," she thought with vague resentment. "It's as much my room as hers."
It was one of the requirements of the school that all trunks must be emptied and sent to the store-room on arrival, and presently, as Ethelinda seemed ignorant of the rule, Mary told her and offered to help her unpack. The answer was excessively polite, so polite that it left Mary at greater arm's length than before. Fanchon was to do the unpacking. She had come on purpose for that. In a few moments Fanchon came in, a middle-aged woman who had accompanied her from home, and who was to return as soon as her charge was properly settled. The two conversed in French, as Ethelinda, with her hands clasped behind her head, tipped back in a rocking chair and lazily watched proceedings. She was utterly regardless of Mary's presence.
"I might as well be the door-knob for all the notice she takes of me," thought Mary resentfully, "Well, she may prove to be as much as a tin whistle, but she certainly isn't the prize I had hoped to find."
She cast another furtive glance at her over her lead-stringing, slowly making up her estimate of her.
"She's what Joyce would call a drab blonde—washed out complexion and sallow hair. She looks drab all the way through to me, but she may be the kind that improves on acquaintance. She certainly has a good figure, and looks as stylish as one of those fashion ladies in Vogue."
From time to time Mary proffered bits of information as occasion offered, as to which of the drawers were empty and how to pull the wardrobe door a certain way when it stuck, but her friendly advances were so coldly received, that presently she slipped out of the room and went over to the East wing to see what Elise Walton was doing.
Elise had already made friends with her room-mate, a little dumpling of a girl by the name of Agnes Olive Miggs, and was calling her A.O. as every one else did. In five minutes Mary was calling her A.O. too, and wishing a little enviously that either one of these bright friendly girls could have fallen to her lot instead of the polite iceberg she had run away from.
"But I won't complain of her to them," she thought loyally. "Maybe she'll improve on acquaintance and be so nice that I'd be sorry some day that I said anything against her."
Several other girls came in while she sat there, and a box of candy was passed around. Finding herself in the company of congenial young spirits was a new experience for Mary.
"Now I know what it means to be 'in the swim,'" she thought exultantly. "I feel like a duck who has found a whole lake to swim in, when it has never had anything bigger than a puddle before."
The sensation was so exhilarating that it prompted her to exert herself to keep on saying funny things and send her audience off into gales of laughter. And all the time the consciousness deepened that they really liked her, that she was really entertaining them.
After lunch the day went by in a rush. Each teacher met her classes, programmes were arranged and lessons assigned. By night Mary had made the acquaintance of every girl in the Freshman class and many of the others. She started to her room all aglow with the new experiences, thinking that if she could only find Ethelinda responsive it would put the finishing touch to a perfect day. Betty was in the upper hall surrounded by an admiring circle, for all the old girls who remembered her as the star of her class, and all the new ones who had been attracted to her from the moment they saw her were crowding around her as if she were holding some kind of court. It was a moment of triumph for Mary when Betty laughingly excused herself from them all and drew her aside.
"Come into my room a few minutes," she said. "I've something to show you," While she was looking through her desk to find it she asked, "Well, how goes it, little girl? Is school all you dreamed it would be?"
"Betty, she won't thaw out a bit."
"That Miss Ethelinda Hurst. When I went up stairs to dress for dinner I tried my best to be sociable, and brought up every subject that I thought would interest her. She barely answered till she found that I had come out to Warwick Hall from the city alone. That horrified her, to think I'd taken a step without a chaperon, and she said it in such a way that I couldn't help saying that I thought one must feel like a poodle tied to a string—always fastened to a chaperon. As for me give me liberty or give me death. And she answered, 'Oh, aren't you queer!' Then after awhile I tried again, but she wouldn't draw out worth a cent. Said she had never roomed with any one before, but supposed it was one of the disagreeable things one had to put up with when one went away to school. Imagine! Pleasant for me, wasn't it!"
"Try letting her alone for awhile," advised Betty. "Beat her at her own game. Play dumb for—say a week."
"But that is so much good time wasted, when we might be chums from the start. When you're going to bed is the cream of the day. You see you always had Lloyd, so you don't know what it is like to room with an oyster."
"Here it is," announced Betty, unwrapping the package she had just found, and passing it to Mary. "Lloyd's latest photograph, the best she has ever had taken, in my opinion. It's so lifelike you almost wait to hear her speak. And I like it because it's so simple and girlish. I suppose the next one will be taken in evening gown after she makes her debut."
"Oh, is it for me?" was the happy cry.
"Yes, frame, picture, nail to hang it on and all. Lloyd sent it with her love. The day the photographs came home, she found that funny slip of paper with all the questions on it Jack was to ask. And you wanted so especially to know just how the Princess looked and how she was wearing her hair and all that, that she said, 'I believe I'll send one of these to Mary. She'll admire it whether any one else does or not.'"
"Tell me about her," begged Mary, propping the frame up in front of her that she might watch the beloved face while she listened.
Nothing loath, Betty sat down and began to talk of the gay summer just gone, of the picnics and the barn parties, the moonlight drives, the rainy days at the Log Cabin, the many knights who came a-riding by to pay court to the fair daughter of the house. Then she told of her own good times and the disappointment when her manuscript had been returned, and the reason for her coming to Warwick Hall to teach.
"I have come to serve my apprenticeship," she explained. "The old Colonel advised me to. He said I must live awhile—have some experiences that go deeper than the carefree existence I have been living, before I can write anything worth while. I am sure he is right."
When Mary had heard all that Betty could remember to tell, she took her departure, carrying the picture and the nail on which to hang it. She wanted to show it to Ethelinda, she was so proud of it, but heroically refrained. Early as it was Ethelinda was undressing.
Mary had intended to do many things before bed-time, write in her journal, mend the rip in her skirt, start a letter to Jack, and maybe make some break in the wall of reserve which Ethelinda still kept persistently between them. But when she saw the preparations for retiring she hesitated, perplexed.
"She's tired from her long journey," she thought, "so maybe I ought not to sit up and keep the light burning. Maybe she'll appreciate it if I go to bed, too. I can lie and think even if I'm not sleepy."
The rip in the skirt had to be mended, however, or she would not be presentable in the morning. It was a small one, and she did not sit down to the task, but in order that she might work faster stood up and took short hurried stitches. Next, taking off her shoe to use the heel as a hammer, she drove the nail in the wall over the side of her bed, and hung the picture where she could see it the last thing at night and the first in the morning. Then, retiring behind her screen, she made her preparations for the night. They were completed long before Ethelinda's, and climbing into bed she lay looking at the new picture, glad for this opportunity to gaze at it to her heart's content.
It made her think of so many things that she loved to recall—little incidents of her visit to The Locusts; and the smiling lips seemed to be saying, "Don't you remember" in such a friendly companionable way that she whispered to herself, "Oh, you dear! If you were only here this year, what an angel of a chum you would make!"
Then she looked across at Ethelinda, who had arranged the windows to her satisfaction and was now stretching the electric light cord from her dressing table to her bed, so that the bulb would hang directly over it. In another moment she had propped herself comfortably against the pillows, and settled down with a book.
Mary sat up astonished. She had sacrificed her own plans and come to bed for Ethelinda's sake, and now here was the electric light blazing full in her eyes, utterly regardless of her comfort. She was about to sputter an indignant protest when she looked up at the picture. It seemed to smile back at her as if it were a real person with whom she might exchange amused glances. "Did you ever see such colossal unconcern?" she whispered, as if the pictured Lloyd could hear.
For a moment she thought she would get up and do the things she had intended doing when she came up stairs, but it required too much of an effort to dress again, and she was more tired than she had realized after her exciting day. So she lay still. She began to get drowsy presently, but she could not go to sleep with that irritating light in her eyes. She threw a counterpane over the foot-board, but it was too low to shield her. Finally in desperation she slipped out of bed and got her umbrella. Then opening it over her she thrust its handle under the pillow to hold it in place, and lay back under its sheltering canopy with a suppressed giggle.
Again she looked up at Lloyd's picture, thinking, "I'd have been awfully mad if you hadn't been here to smile with me over it."
The bulb began to sway, throwing shadows across the wall. Ethelinda had struck the cord in reaching up to pull her pillows higher. The flickering shadows made Mary think of something—a verse that Lloyd had written in her autograph album once, because it was the motto of the Seminary Shadow Club.
"This learned I from the shadow on a tree That to and fro did sway upon the wall, Our shadowy selves—our influence, may fall Where we can never be."
She repeated it drowsily, peering out from under her umbrella at the swaying shadows, till something the lines suggested made her sit up, wide awake.
"Why, I can take you for my chum, of course," she thought. "Your shadow-self. Then it won't make any difference whether Miss Haughtiness Hurst talks to me or not, You'll understand and sympathize with me."
All her life when Mary's world did not measure up to her expectations, she had been in the habit of making a world of her own; a beautiful make-believe place that held all her heart's desires. It had given her gilded coaches and Cinderella ball-attire in her nursery days, and enchanted orchards whose trees bore all manner of confections. It had bestowed beauty and fortune and accomplishments on her, and sent dashing cavaliers to seek her hand when she came to the romance-reading age. Friends and social pleasures were hers at will when the lonely desert life grew irksome. Whatever was dull the Midas touch of her imagination made golden, so now it was easy to close her eyes and conjure up a make-believe chum that for the time was as good as a real one.
Absorbed in her book, Ethelinda read on until the signal sounded for lights out. Never before accustomed to such restrictions, she looked up impatiently. She had forgotten where she was for the moment in the interest of her book. When her glance fell on the umbrella, spread over Mary's bed like a tent, she raised herself on her elbow with a look of astonishment. It took her some time to understand why it had been put there.
Never having roomed with any one before, and never having had to consider any one's convenience besides her own, it had not occurred to her that she might be making Mary uncomfortable. The mute umbrella called attention to the fact more eloquently than any protest could have done. Ethelinda had endured having a room-mate as she endured all the other disagreeable requirements of the school. Now for the first time it dawned upon her that there might be two sides to this story, also that this strange girl who seemed so eager to intrude herself on her notice might be worth knowing after all. If Mary could have seen her bewildered stare and then the amused expression which twitched her mouth for an instant, she would have had hopes that the thawing out process had begun.
"AYE, THERE'S THE RUB!"
True to the course she had laid out for herself, Mary was as dumb next morning as if she had really lost the power of speech. Judging from her manner one would have thought that she was alone in the room, and that she was having a beautiful time all by herself. She was waiting for Ethelinda to make the advances this time, and as she did not see fit even to say good-morning, the dressing proceeded in a silence so profound that it could almost be felt.
There was a broad smile on Mary's face most of the time. She was ready to laugh outright over the absurd situation, and from time to time she cast an amused glance at Lloyd's picture, as if her amusement were understood and shared. It was wonderful how that life-like picture seemed to bring Lloyd before her and give her a delightful sense of companionship, and she fell into the way of "thinking to it," as she expressed it. The things she would have said aloud had Lloyd been with her, she said mentally, finding a satisfaction in this silent communion that a less imaginative person could not have experienced.
"I wish you could go down to breakfast with me, Princess," she thought, turning for a last glance when she was dressed, and pausing with her hand on the door-knob. "I dread to go down alone before all those strangers."
Dinner, the night before, had been a very stately affair, with Madam at the head of the table in the long banquet hall, and Hawkins in solemn charge of his corps of waiters. But breakfasts were to be delightfully informal, Mary found a few minutes later, when she paused at the dining room door and saw many small round tables, each cozily set for six: five pupils and a teacher. Betty, presiding at one, looked up and beckoned to her.
"You're a trifle early, but come on in. You're to have a seat here by me, with Elise and A.O. just around the corner. Now tell me what has happened to give you that 'glorious morning face,' as Stevenson puts it. You look as if you had found some rare good fortune."
"I have, but I didn't know I showed it." Mary's hands went up to her face as if she expected to feel the expression that Betty saw. "I am so happy to think that I'm to be at your table. And I'm glad that I can stop playing dumb for awhile. Oh, but it has been funny up in our room this morning. I took your advice, and I want to tell you about it before the other girls come down."
Betty laughed heartily as Mary pictured herself in bed under the umbrella, and smiled understandingly when she told about finding a make-believe chum in Lloyd's picture.
"I know, dear," she answered. "I used to do that way with god-mother's picture when I was a lonely little thing at the Cuckoo's nest. I'd whisper my troubles and show her my treasures, and feel that she kept watch over me while I slept. It comforted me many a time, when there was no one else to go to, and is one of my dearest recollections now of those days when I felt so little and lonesome and uncared for."
"How Jack would laugh at me," exclaimed Mary, presently, "if he knew that one of my air-castles had collapsed. He is always teasing me about building sky-scrapers without any foundation. On my way out here Mrs. Stockton told me a lot of stories about her school days. She roomed with the Judge's sister, and she heard so much about him and he heard so much about her through this sister, that they got to sending messages to each other in her letters. Then they exchanged photographs, and finally they met when he came on the Commencement, and the romance of their lives grew out of it. I kept thinking how romantic it would be to have your brother marry your dearest chum, someone you already loved like a sister—and that if my room-mate turned out to be lovely and sweet and charming, all that I hoped she'd be, how interesting I could make it for Jack. There's no society at all in Lone-Rock, and he never can meet any nice girls as long as he stays there."
"And you don't think he would be interested in Ethelinda?" asked Betty mischievously. "An heiress and a girl with such a distinguished air? She certainly has that even if she doesn't measure up to your standard of beauty. He might be charmed with her. You never can tell what a man is going to like."
"Not that—that—clam!" Mary answered warmly, with an expression of disgust. "I know Jack! You've no idea how she can shut herself up in her shell. She never would fit in our family and I know he'd never—"
The signal announcing breakfast made her stop in the middle of her sentence, for at that same instant the girls began to file in.
"Well, it's good-bye, 'Betty.' I must begin talking to 'Miss Lewis' now." Giving Betty's hand a quick squeeze under the table, she drew herself up sedately.
The Old Girls' Welcome to the New was the chief topic of conversation that morning. It was to take place that night, and as the invitations would not be delivered until the opening of the first mail, every Freshman was in a flutter of expectancy, wondering who her escort was to be.
"I hope mine will be either Cornie Dean or Dorene Derwent," confided Mary to Betty in an undertone, "because I know them so well. But if I should have to choose a stranger I'd rather have that quiet girl in gray, over at Miss Chilton's table. She looks like a girl in an English story-book. I mean the one that Ethelinda is talking to now. And I wish you'd notice how she is talking," Mary continued in amazement. "Did you ever see more animation? She's making up for lost time."
"Oh, that's Evelyn Berkeley," answered Betty. "She is English; a distant relative of Madam's with such an interesting history. The year I finished school she came in the middle of the spring term, such a sad-looking creature all in black. Her mother had just died, and her father, who only a short time before had succeeded to the title and estates, sent her over here to be with Madam for awhile. He didn't know what to do with her, as she seemed to be going into a decline. She isn't like the same girl now."
"Oh, is she a real 'My-lady-the-carriage-waits'?" asked Mary, her eyes wide with interest.
"Yes, she belongs to a very ancient and noble family," said Betty, amused at her enthusiasm. "But I thought you were such a little American-revolution patriot that you would not be impressed by anything like that."
"I'm not impressed, exactly," Mary answered stoutly, "but this is the first girl I ever saw who is own daughter to a lord, and it does add a flavour to one's interest in her. Oh, I see, now. That is why Ethelinda is so friendly," she added, with sudden intuition of the truth. "She thinks that Miss Berkeley is somebody worth cultivating, and that I'm not."
"Maybe it's a case of 'birds of a feather,'" said Elise, who had heard part of the conversation. "Ethelinda aspires to a family tree and a coat-of-arms, too. I saw her box of stationery spilled out over your table when I was in your room yesterday, and it had quite an imposing crest on the paper—a unicorn or griffin or something, pawing away at a crown."
Mary pursed her lips together thoughtfully. "That might explain it. Maybe she thinks I'm only a sort of wild North American Indian because our place is named Ware's Wigwam, and that it is beneath her dignity to be intimate with her inferiors. But if that is what is the matter, she's just a snob, and can't be very sure of her own position."
"She is only sixteen," Betty reminded her, "even if she does look so mature and imposing. I have an idea that the way she has been brought up is responsible for her attitude now. It has given her a false standard of values. Now, Mary, here is a chance for you to do some real missionary work, and teach her that 'the rank is but the guinea's stamp,' and that we're all pure gold, 'for a' that and a' that,' no matter if we are not members of the British peerage."
"I wouldn't mind telling her anything if she were a real heathen," was Mary's earnest answer. "But trying to break through her reserve is a harder task than butting a hole through the Chinese wall. You've no idea how haughty she is. Well, I don't care—much."
She cared enough, however, to take a lively interest in her room-mate's pedigree, after seeing the crest on her note paper. Later in the morning when some literature references made it necessary for her to go to the library, she looked around for a certain fat volume she had pored over several times during those idle days before the beginning of school. It was Burke's Peerage. She had looked into it because of the story of Edryn, finding many mottoes as interesting as the one in the great amber window on the stairs. Now she turned to the B's and rapidly scanned the columns till she came to the Berkeleys. For generations there had been an Evelyn in the family. What a long, long time they had had to shape their lives by their motto, and grow worthy of their family traditions! No wonder that Evelyn had that air of gentle breeding and calm poise like Madam Chartley's.
Mary had already on a previous occasion looked in vain for the name of Ware, and when she failed to find it, consoled herself with the thought that for three hundred years it had been handed down with honour in the annals of New England. Staunch patriots the Wares had been in the old colony days, sturdy and stern of conscience, and Mary had been taught to believe that their struggle to wrest a living from the rocky hills while they built up a state was as worthy of honour as any knightly deed of the Round Table. She was prouder of those early ancestors who delved and spun and toiled with their hands at yeoman tasks, than the later ones, who were ministers and judges and college professors.
Until now she had never attached any importance to the fact that a branch of her mother's family had been a titled one, because she was such a patriotic little American, and because so many years had elapsed since that particular branch had severed its connection with the family in the old world. But now Mary felt a peculiar thrill of satisfaction when she found the name in the peerage and realized that some of the blue blood which had inspired those great-great-grandfathers to knightly deeds was coursing through her own veins. The crest was a winged spur, with the motto, "Ready, aye ready."
"Maybe that is the reason the 'King's call' has come to me as it did to Edryn," she mused, her chin in her hand and her eyes gazing dreamily out of the window. Then she forgot all about her quest for the literature references, for in her revery she was listening to the Voices again, and seeing herself in a dimly foreshadowed future, the centre of an acclaiming crowd. What great part she was to play she did not know, but when the time should come for the fulfilment of her high destiny, she would rise to meet it like the winged spur, crying "Ready, aye ready," as all those brave ancestors had done. It was in the blood to respond thus.
The hunter's horn on the terrace outside, sounding the call to recreation, roused her from her day-dreams, and she came to herself with a start. But before she hurried away to the office where the mail was being distributed, she made a quick survey of the H's. To her surprise the name of Hurst was not among them. She fairly ran down the stairs to report her discovery to Elise.
When the invitations for the evening were all distributed Mary went up stairs wailing out her consternation to A.O. She was to be escorted by Jane Ridgeway, the most dignified senior in the school.
"She's the kind that knows such an awful lot, and you have to be on your p's and q's with her every single minute. Cornie says her father is in the Cabinet, and her mother is a shining intellectual light. And now that I've been warned beforehand, I'll not be able to utter a syllable of sense; I know that I'll just gibber."
When she went to her room to dress for the occasion that night there was a great hunch of hot-house roses waiting for her with Jane's card. She knew from the other girls' description of this opening festivity that the seniors spared no expense on this occasion, but it rather overawed her to receive such an extravagant offering. She looked across at the modest bunch of white and purple violets which had come from the Warwick Hall conservatory for Ethelinda, and wondered if there had not been some mistake. Then to her surprise, Ethelinda, who had noticed her glance, spoke to her.
"Sweet, aren't they! Miss Berkeley sent them, or rather Lady Evelyn, I should say. She is to be my escort to-night."
It was Mary's besetting sin to put people right whom, she thought were mistaken, so she answered hastily, "Oh, no! You oughtn't to call her Lady Evelyn. She doesn't like it. She wants to be just like the other girls as long as she is in an American school."
Ethelinda drew herself up with a stare, and asked in a patronizing tone that nettled Mary:
"May I ask how you happen to know so much about her?"
Equally lofty in her manner, and in a tone comically like Ethelinda's, Mary answered, "You may. Miss Lewis gave me that bit of information, and for the rest I looked her up in Burke's Peerage. She comes of a very illustrious and noble family, so of course she feels perfectly sure of her position, and doesn't have to draw the lines about herself to preserve her dignity as some people do. Cornie Dean was telling me about a girl who was in the school last year who made such a fuss about her pedigree that she couldn't be friends with more than three of the girls. The rest weren't high enough caste for her. She sported a crest and all that, and they found out that she hadn't a particle of right to it. Her father had struck it rich in some lumber deal, and bought a gallery of ancestral portraits, and paid a man a small fortune to fix him up a coat of arms. She had no end of money, but she wasn't the real thing, and Cornie says that paste diamonds won't go down with this school. They can spot them every time."
Ethelinda made no comment for a moment, but presently asked in a strained tone, "Did you have any doubts of Miss Berkeley's claims? Is that why you looked her up in the peerage?"
"No," said Mary, honestly. "I was looking for my own name. But there wasn't a single Ware in it. And then"—she couldn't resist this thrust, especially as she felt it was a part of the missionary work she had undertaken—"I looked for Hurst, too, as the girls said you had a crest."
"Well?" came the question, a trifle defiantly.
"It's not in the Peerage."
Ethelinda drew herself up haughtily as if she disdained an explanation, yet felt forced to make one. "It is not my father's crest I use," she announced. "It came from back in my mother's family."
"Oh!" said Mary, with significant emphasis. "I see!" Then she added cheerfully, "I could have one, too, on a count like that, way back among my great-grandmothers. But I wouldn't have any real right to it. You have to be in the direct line of descent, you know, and it is silly for us Americans to try to hang on by a hair to the main trunk of the family tree, when all the world knows we belong on the outside branches."
There was no answer to this and the dressing proceeded in a silence as profound as the morning's, until Mary saw that Ethelinda was struggling in a frantic effort to free herself from the hooks of her dress which had caught in her hair.
"Wait," she called, hurrying to the rescue. "Let me hook it for you. What a perfect dream of a gown it is!" she added in frank admiration, as she deftly fastened it up the back. "It looks like the kind in the fairy tales that are woven out of moon-beams. Here, let me fix your hair, where the hooks pulled it loose."
She tucked in the straggling locks with a few soft pats and touches which, with the compliment, mollified Ethelinda a trifle, in spite of her resentment over the former speech. But it still rankled, and she could not forbear saying a little spitefully, "Thanks! What a soft, light touch you have. Quite like a maid I had last year. By the way, her name was Mary. And it was awfully funny. It happened at that time that every maid in the house was named that, and whenever mamma called 'Mary' five or six of them would come running. I used to tell my maid that if I had as common a name as that I'd change it."
Something in the way she said it set Mary's teeth on edge. She had never known any one before who purposely said disagreeable things. She often said them herself in her blundering, impetuous way, but was heartily sorry as soon as they were uttered. Now for the first time in her life she wanted to retaliate by saying the meanest thing she could think of. So she answered, hotly, "Oh, I don't know. I'd rather be named Mary than a name that means noble snake, like Ethelinda."
"Who told you it means that?" was Ethelinda's astonished demand. "I don't believe it."
"You've only to consult Webster," was the dignified reply. "I looked your name up in the dictionary the day I first heard it. Ethel means noble, but Ethelinda means noble snake. I suppose nobody ever calls you just Inda," she added meaningly.
Ethelinda's eyes flashed, but she had no answer for this queer girl who seemed to have the Dictionary and the Peerage and no telling how many other sources of information at her tongue's end.
Again the dressing went on in silence. Mary finished first, all but a hook or two which she could not reach, and which she could not muster up courage to ask Ethelinda to do for her. Finally, gathering up her armful of roses, she went across the hall to ask Dorene's assistance.
"Why, of course!" she cried, opening the door wide at Mary's knock. "You poor child! Think of having a room-mate who is such a Queen of Sheba she couldn't do a little thing like that for you!"
"But I didn't ask her," Mary hurried to explain, eager to be perfectly honest. "I had just made such a mean remark to her that I hadn't the courage to ask a favour."
"You!" laughed Cornie. "I can't imagine a good natured little puss like you saying anything very savage to anybody."
"But I did," confessed Mary. "I wanted to hurt her feelings. I fairly ached to do it. I should have said something meaner still if I could have thought of it quick enough. Isn't it awful? Only the second day of the term to have things come to such a pass! Everything we do seems to rub the other's fur up the wrong way."
"I'd ask Madam to change me to some other room," said Dorene, but Mary resented the suggestion.
"No, indeed! I'll not have it said that I was such a fuss-cat as all that. I'll make myself get along with her."
"Well, I don't envy you the task," was Cornie's rejoinder. "I never can resist the temptation to take people down when they get high and mighty. I heard her telling one of the girls at the breakfast table that she'd never ridden on a street-car in all her life till she came to Washington. She made Fanchon take her across the city in one instead of calling a carriage as they always do. They have a garage full of machines at home, and I don't know how many horses. She said it in a way to make people who had always ridden in public conveyances feel mighty plebeian and poor-folksy, although she insisted that street-cars are lots of fun. 'They give you a funny sensation when they stop.' Those were her very words."
"Well, of all things!" cried Mary, then after a moment's silent musing, "It never struck me before, what different worlds we have been brought up in. But if a street-car ride is as much of a novelty to her as an automobile ride would be to me, I don't wonder that she spoke about it. I know I'd talk about my sensations in an auto if I'd ever been in one, and it wouldn't be bragging, either. Maybe all our other experiences have been just as different," she went on, her judicial mind trying to look at life from Ethelinda's view-point, in order to judge her fairly.
"I wonder what sort of a girl I would have been, if instead of always having the Wolf at the door, we'd have had bronze lions guarding the portals, and all the money that heart could wish."
"Money!" sniffed Cornie. "It isn't that that makes the difference in Ethelinda. Look at Alta Westman, a million in her own right. There isn't a sweeter, jollier, friendlier girl in the school."
"Any way," continued Mary, "I'd like to be able to put myself in Ethelinda's place for about an hour, and see how things look to her—especially how I look to her. I'm glad I thought about that. It will make it easier for me to get along with her, for it will help me to make allowances for lots of things."
The door stood ajar, and catching sight of Jane Ridgeway coming up the hall, Mary started to meet her.
"Remember," called Cornie after her. "We've taken you under our wing, and claim you for our sorority. We're not going to have any of the Lloydsboro Valley girls imposed on, and if she gets too uppity she'll find herself boycotted."
As the door closed behind her Dorene remarked, "She's a dear little thing. I'm going to see that she has so much attention to-night that Ethelinda will wake up to the fact that she's worth having for a friend. I'm going to ask Evelyn Berkeley to make a special point of being nice to her."
The thought that Cornie considered her one of the Lloydsboro girls sent Mary away with a pleasurable thrill that made her cheeks glow all evening. There was something in the donning of party clothes that always loosened her tongue, and conscious of looking her best she plunged into the festivity of the hour with such evident enjoyment that others naturally gravitated towards her to share it.
"Congratulations!" whispered Betty, happening to pass her towards the close of the evening. "You're quite one of the belles of the ball."
"Isn't it simply perfect?" sighed Mary, her face beaming.
Herr Vogelbaum had just come in and was settling himself at the piano, in place of the musicians who had been performing. This was an especial treat not on the programme, and all that was needed in Mary's opinion to complete a heavenly evening. He played the same improvisation that had caught her up in its magic spell the day of her arrival, and she went to her room in the uplifted frame of mind which finds everything perfection. Even her strained relations with Ethelinda seemed a trifle, the tiniest thorn in a world full of roses. Her last waking thought was a resolution to be so good and patient that even that thorn should disappear in time.
Mary's popularity was not without its effect upon Ethelinda, especially the Lady Evelyn's evident interest in her. It argued that she was worth knowing. Then, too, it would have been a hard heart which could have steeled itself against Mary's persistent efforts to be friendly. It was a tactful effort also, making her daily put herself in Ethelinda's place and consider everything from her view-point before speaking. Many a time it helped her curb her active little tongue, and many a time it helped her to condone the one fault which particularly irritated her.
"Of course it is hard for her to keep her half of the room in order," she would say to herself. "She's always had a maid to wait on her, and has never been obliged to pick up even her own stockings. She doesn't know how to be neat, and probably I shouldn't, either, if I hadn't been so carefully trained."
Then she would hang the rumpled skirts back in the wardrobe where they belonged, rescue her overturned work-basket from some garment that Ethelinda had carelessly thrown across it, and patiently straighten out the confusion of books and papers on the table they shared in common. Although there were no more frozen silences between them their conversations were far from satisfactory. They were totally uncongenial. But after the first week, that part of their relationship did not affect Mary materially. She was too happily absorbed in the work and play of school life, throwing herself into every recitation, every excursion and every experience with a zest that left no time for mourning over what might have been. At bed-time there was always her shadow-chum to share the recollections of the day. One of her letters to Joyce gave a description of the state of resignation to which she finally attained.
"Think of it!" she wrote. "Me with my Puritan conscience and big bump of order, and my r.m. calmly embroidering this Sabbath afternoon! Her dressing table, her bed and the chairs look like rubbish heaps. Her bed-room slippers in the middle of the floor this time of day make me want to gnash my teeth. Really it is a disaster to live with some one who scrambles her things in with yours all the time. The disorder gets on my nerves some days till I want to scream. There are times when I think I shall be obliged to rise up in my wrath like old Samson, and smite her 'hip and thigh with a great slaughter.'
"In most things I have been able to 'compromise.' Margaret Elwood, one of the Juniors, taught me that. She tried it with one of her room-mates, now happily a back number. Margaret said this girl loved cheap perfumes, for instance, and she herself loathed them. So she filled all the drawers and wardrobes with those nasty camphor moth-balls, which the r.m. couldn't endure, and when she protested, Margaret offered a compromise. She would cut out the moth-balls, even at the expense of having her clothes ruined, if the r.m. would swear off on musk and the like.
"I tried that plan to break E. of keeping the light on when I was sleepy. One night I lay awake until I couldn't stand it any longer, and then began to hum in a low, droning chant, sort of under my breath, like an exasperating mosquito: 'Laugh-ing wa-ter! Big chief's daugh-ter!' till I nearly drove my own self distracted. I could see her frown and change her position as if she were terribly annoyed, and after I had hummed it about a thousand times she asked, 'For heaven's sake, Mary, is there anything that will induce you to stop singing that thing? I can't read a word.'
"'Why, yes,' I answered sweetly. 'Does it annoy you? I was only singing to pass the time till you turn off the light. I can't sleep a wink. We'll just compromise.'
"She turned it out in a jiffy and didn't say a word, but I notice that she pays attention to the signals now, and does her reading before they sound 'taps.' All this is teaching yours truly a wonderful amount of self control, and I have come to the conclusion that everything at Warwick Hall, disagreeables and all, are working together for my good."
So matters went on for several weeks. Mary meekly hung up Ethelinda's dresses and put the room in order whenever it was disarranged, and Ethelinda, always accustomed to being waited upon, took it as a service due her from one whom necessity had placed in a position always to serve. If she had accepted it silently Mary might have gone on to the end of the term making excuses for her, and making good her neglect; but Ethelinda remarked one day to one of the Sophomores that if Mary Ware ever wanted a recommendation as lady's maid she would gladly give it. She seemed naturally cut out for that.
The remark was repeated without loss of time, and in the same patronizing tone in which it was made. Mary's boasted self-control flew to the four winds. She was half way down the stairs when she heard it, but turning abruptly she marched back to her room, her cheeks red and her eyes blazing. Throwing open the door she gave one glance around the room. The disorder happened to be a little worse than usual. A wet umbrella leaned against her bed, and Ethelinda's damp coat lay across the white counterpane, for she had been walking in the rain, and had thrown them down in the most convenient spot on entering. Other articles were scattered about promiscuously, but Mary made no attempt as usual to put them in place.
Instead, it seemed as if a small cyclone swept through the room. The wet umbrella was sent flying across to Ethelinda's bed. Gloves, coat, and handsome plumed hat followed, regardless of where they lit, or in what condition. Half a dozen books went next, tumbling pell mell into a corner. Then Ethelinda's bed-room slippers, over which Mary was always stumbling, hurtled through the air, and an ivory hair-brush that had been left on her dressing-table. They whizzed perilously near Ethelinda's head.
"There!" exclaimed Mary, choking back the angry tremble in her voice. "I'm worn out trying to keep this room in order for order's sake! The next time I find your things on my side of the room I'll pitch them out of the window! It's no excuse at all to say that you've always had somebody to wait on you. You've always had your two hands, too. A lady is supposed to have some sense of her own obligations and of other people's rights. Now don't you dare get on my side again!"
With her knees trembling under her till she could scarcely move, Mary ran out of the room, so frightened by what she had done that she did not venture back till bedtime. Ethelinda refused to speak to her for several days, but the outburst of temper had two good results. One was that there was no need for its repetition, and Ethelinda treated her with more respect from then on.