THE GIRL SCOUTS' GOOD TURN
BY EDITH LAVELL
"The Girl Scouts at Miss Allen's School," "The Girl Scouts at Camp," "The Girl Scouts' Canoe Trip," "The Girl Scouts' Rivals."
A. L. BURT COMPANY Publishers New York
THE GIRL SCOUTS SERIES
A Series of Stories for Girl Scouts
By EDITH LAVELL
The Girl Scouts at Miss Allen's School The Girl Scouts at Camp The Girl Scouts' Good Turn The Girl Scouts' Canoe Trip The Girl Scouts' Rivals
Copyright, 1922 By A. L. BURT COMPANY
THE GIRL SCOUTS' GOOD TURN
Made in "U. S. A."
THE GIRL SCOUTS' GOOD TURN
"And it's somewhere there in fairyland—— It's where the rainbow ends!"
Marjorie Wilkinson hummed softly to herself as she skipped from place to place, adding the finishing touches to the effect she and her committee had planned.
It was the first Saturday of the regular fall term at Miss Allen's Boarding School. The girls were back again in their old places—all except the seniors of the previous year, who had graduated—and now the sophomores were preparing for the first social event of the year, their reception to the freshmen. Marjorie Wilkinson was chairman.
The clock struck seven, and she stood perfectly still in the center of the floor, viewing the result of their work. The bare, ugly gymnasium had disappeared; in its place was a little winter scene from fairyland. Cedar branches, decked with flakes of artificial snow, and great white snowbanks, completely hid the walls from view. Spread over the floor, except for a space in the middle reserved for dancing, were pine needles and more patches of snow; and everywhere frosty tinsel glimmered in the soft, blue light of the covered electric bulbs.
The girls walked lightly and spoke softly, as if they feared that by some rude noise they might break the magic spell of the scene.
Marjorie, wearing her first real party dress—a pale blue georgette, with a silver sash, and a narrow silver band about her forehead, seemed in perfect harmony with the blue and silver of the scene. But, standing gracefully erect, with one satin-slippered foot extended in front of the other, and her head thrown back as she contemplated the effect, she did not think of the impression she was making. It was not until Lily Andrews, her room-mate, drew her attention to her costume that she thought of herself.
"Your dress is just lovely with the rest of the effect," she said, putting her arm affectionately through Marjorie's.
"Thanks, Lil," replied the other girl carelessly. "Isn't the room wonderful? I think it's the prettiest scene, off the stage, that I ever saw!"
"It's lovely. They certainly can't help liking it, can they?"
"Poor freshies!" sighed Marjorie, with the infinite wisdom of the sophomore. "Remember how green we were?"
"Indeed, I do—and that first reception, when they still had the sorority! Didn't we just think Frances Wright and Ethel Todd were nothing short of goddesses? I wonder whether these freshmen know about our Girl Scout troop, and are as eager to make it as we were the sorority!"
But before Lily could reply, the orchestra, three players who came from the city, entered the room, and Marjorie hurried over to give them the final directions. When she turned around again, Lily had vanished; but near her stood Ruth Henry, her old friend from her home town, who had played the part of jealous rival ever since the girls had been at Miss Allen's.
"Hello, Marj!" She greeted her with the old familiarity; indeed, the girls were good friends now, in spite of all that had happened the previous year. "Your dress is sweet," she added.
"I'm glad you like it, Ruth. Yours is a dream, too!"
Ruth sat down on a chair near-by, and beckoned Marjorie to sit beside her.
"The freshies aren't here yet," she remarked. "We might as well rest. I want to ask you something."
Marjorie complied with her request as far as her physical presence was concerned. But her eyes wandered from one place to another over the room, reviewing the effect, and her mind was drifting from what Ruth was saying. But the latter hardly noticed her preoccupation, so intent was she upon her own interests.
"Listen, Marj!" She reduced her voice to an intimate tone. "Have you thought about our class president?"
"Yes—not Doris Sands—of course, she is still president; but what I mean is—our next president!"
"No, I haven't," replied Marjorie, absently. "I never gave it a thought. Why?"
"Well, I have; and our class meeting is Monday evening, you know. I think we ought to talk it over, for it's important to get just the right girl."
"I suppose it is," admitted Marjorie, glancing nervously towards the door. "Why do you s'pose they're so late, Ruth?"
"Oh, they'll be along soon," replied Ruth, with annoyance. "It's hardly half-past seven."
But Marjorie could not content herself to sit still any longer.
"Well, it'll be hard to get anybody as good as Doris," she said, rising. "I wish it weren't against the Constitution to elect her over again."
"I hear my name being taken in vain," said a pleasant voice, and the girls looked up to see their pretty class president just behind them.
"Pardon me for interrupting your tete-a-tete, but do you know who has charge of the games?" she asked.
"Lily," replied Marjorie. "But you needn't worry; she's all prepared."
"Good!" exclaimed Doris, glad to dismiss the matter from her mind. Then, "I certainly am crazy to get acquainted with the freshmen. I know most of them by sight now, and I've talked to two or three, but I don't know any of their names."
"Won't it be fun to pick out the Girl Scouts?" remarked Ruth.
"But we don't pick them, Ruth," protested Marjorie; "they pick themselves."
At this moment half a dozen freshmen entered the open door of the gymnasium, and the girls hastened over to welcome them and to make them feel at home. They walked in shyly, hesitating just inside the door, for everything was new and strange to them.
Marjorie was seized with a great longing to seek out all the retiring ones and tell them that she would be their friend. But perhaps some of the freshmen might resent this, and interpret her attitude as condescending. So she tried to content herself with entertaining as many different girls as she could, and remembering as many names as possible.
The first freshman to make any definite impression upon her was Florence Evans, sister of Edith Evans, the senior who had served as Acting Lieutenant of the troop at camp, and who still held that office. It was Florence that introduced herself to Marjorie. Neither bold nor shy, with a little more than the ordinary amount of good looks, she seemed unconsciously to possess the poise of her older sister.
"I have heard so much about you, Marjorie," she said, not hesitating in the least to use the older girl's first name; "Edith told me all about your winning the canoe at camp. And I have been so anxious to meet you!"
"Thanks," replied Marjorie, sincerely flattered that the senior whom she admired so much had seen fit to mention her name at home. "We certainly did have a wonderful time during the summer!"
"I'm crazy to be a Girl Scout!" said Florence, enthusiastically. "My room-mate, Mildred Cavin"—she nodded toward an attractive girl a few feet away, talking to Lily—"my room-mate and I talk of nothing else."
Ruth, who overheard the remark, smiled with conscious self-importance; but Marjorie's thoughts flew back to the time when she was in Florence's place: a freshman eager to make good among the upper classmen. But then it was a question of popularity and personal favoritism; now everything was different.
"It all depends upon yourself, Florence," she said. "You can become a Girl Scout if you will work hard enough. You must receive a mark of over eighty per cent on your first report, and you must make the hockey squad. Then you'll be among the first to join."
"Yes, I know. But isn't it dreadfully hard to get on the hockey team? With so many upper classmen, I mean?"
By this time Mildred Cavin, Daisy Gravers, and Esther Taylor—three more freshmen—had joined them. Evelyn Hopkins, Ruth Henry's room-mate, who had missed making both the sorority and the Scout troop the previous year, sauntered up, just as Florence asked the question.
"It's an impossibility!" she exclaimed, pettishly. "At least, if you're not in right with Miss Phillips, the Gym teacher who is Captain of the troop, you don't stand one bit of show!"
Marjorie colored at the words and the tone of this statement; she so much desired that her classmates appear dignified and well-poised to the freshmen.
Esther Taylor, a stylish girl with a flippant manner, laughed derisively. "Scouts don't mean much in my young life," she said, defiantly. "I'm no soldier-girl!"
Marjorie did not feel ready to go into the explanation of what Girl Scouts really stand for; she merely arched her brows and looked away indifferently. To her relief, the orchestra struck up a one-step, and the girls all separated to dance.
Games and dancing followed alternately, until the groups were entirely broken up, and everyone was acquainted. It was half-past nine when an intermission was called for refreshments to be served.
The sophomores disappeared into a screened corner to procure the ice-cream for their guests, and while they were waiting for plates, Marjorie again encountered Ruth.
"It's my opinion," remarked the latter, "that we've struck a bunch of lemons! I haven't met a single girl so far that has pep enough to organize a secret class meeting, or put up any kind of a fight against us sophomores! Why, I don't believe there will be one girl in the whole freshman class who'll make the Girl Scout troop!"
"I'd be willing to bet a box of the best chocolates made that Edith Evans' sister makes it!" retorted Marjorie. "She's just the type!"
"I guess you're right," admitted Ruth; "but if you'd ever talk to that funny little thing over near the piano, you'd be disgusted with freshmen, too. She sort of keeps her mouth open, as if she weren't quite all there, and makes the queerest replies—or else none at all. But she's the most hopeless one I've struck yet."
"Who is she?" asked Marjorie, peeping around the screen and looking towards the orchestra. "That little girl in pink?"
"Yes—with the scared look."
"What's her name?"
"Alice Endicott," answered Ruth. Then, "But why all this interest, Marj?"
"No special reason, except that I'm sorry for anybody that is lonely. I think I'll try to make friends with her."
"You always did enjoy the 'Big Sister' act, didn't you?" jeered Ruth. A sarcastic little gleam came into her eyes. "How about Frieda Hammer?" she asked, pointedly. "She didn't turn up, did she?"
Ruth referred to the country girl whose father had worked on the farm where the Scout camp was situated the previous summer. The girl had come to the kitchen tent three separate times, at night, and upon each occasion had stolen a great deal of food. Upon the final occurrence she had been detected and identified, but although she had admitted the theft to Miss Phillips when she was later accused, she made no attempt at apology or explanation. The girl's ignorance, her wildness, her lack of advantages, had touched the pity of Marjorie and Frances, and some of the other softer-hearted Scouts; accordingly, the troop had voted to send Frieda to public school in the fall, assuming her support as their public Good Turn. Marjorie had been tremendously enthusiastic over the project, while Ruth, on the other hand, had thrown cold water upon it from the beginning. Now that the girl had not appeared as she had promised, Ruth felt elated; Marjorie, in her turn, was equally cast down.
"She may come yet!" she answered, defiantly, putting more hope into her tone than she really entertained. "Mrs. Brubaker wrote to Miss Phillips that Frieda's baby sister was sick! So probably she'll come in a week or so."
Marjorie succeeded in obtaining two plates of ice-cream and some cakes, and, holding them high above the heads of the crowd, made her way to the distant corner indicated by Ruth. She found the freshman still sitting alone, half hidden by an overhanging evergreen, gazing dejectedly into space.
"Pardon me," said Marjorie pleasantly, "may I give you some ice-cream?"
The girl looked up suddenly, and for an instant her brown eyes met Marjorie's. She seemed pale and thin, and her eyes appeared unusually large and liquid, as if tears were never far from the surface.
"Thank you," she muttered, rising and taking the plate.
"And may I sit with you?" continued the older girl. "At least, if you are not expecting——"
"No, no; nobody is with me!" She flushed painfully at the reference to her own unpopularity.
"Ruth Henry said she was just talking to you," said Marjorie hastily, trying to cover her embarrassment. "And your name is Alice Endicott, isn't it?"
"And who is your room-mate?" pursued Marjorie, wondering why the girl, whoever she was, should desert Alice, knowing how shy she was.
"Esther Taylor," replied the freshman; "but she doesn't bother much with me."
It was obvious that poor little Alice was both homesick and lonely, and Marjorie's heart warmed toward her as it might to a lost child. She chatted pleasantly all through the intermission; then, securing her a partner for the next dance, she left with the promise to seek her again.
When the party was all over, and the tired sophomores were getting ready for bed, Marjorie, who still felt the sting of Ruth's taunt, remarked to Lily,
"Well, if we can't do our Good Turn for Frieda Hammer, we can do one right here for the new girls, to keep them from being homesick. I, for one, intend to try."
"I'm with you," agreed Lily, as she crawled into bed.
But Ruth Henry's last waking thoughts were of a different nature: how she might best succeed in gaining the class presidency for herself.
"If I go at the thing boldly," she decided, "there is no reason why I should fail. And I mean to do it, if I never accomplish another thing as long as I'm at Miss Allen's!"
THE SOPHOMORE PRESIDENT
"Are you going to dress for Ruth's tea?" asked Doris Sands of Marjorie Wilkinson, as the girls walked out of the dining-room together.
Marjorie pulled down the corners of her mouth at the question. It did seem strange to her that Ruth Henry should have decided in such a hurry to give a tea. There must be something behind it! Probably the girl was making a play for popularity, so that she might be elected to an office.
"I'm not going. It's just at the time of hockey practice, and, of course, I couldn't miss that. Lily won't be there, either."
"I'm sorry!" murmured Doris. "Things never seem half so nice without you, Marj!"
Marjorie smiled gratefully; Doris Sands not only said pleasant things, but one knew that she meant them. It was too bad that the class constitution prohibited a girl's re-election as president. The sophomore class could never find anyone else so tactful, so universally popular as Doris, Marjorie thought.
"Thanks, Doris," she said. "But I don't see why Ruth couldn't give us more notice, so that we might have arranged things to go. She never said a word about it at the reception!"
"Ruth always does things on the spur of the moment, and for queer reasons," sighed Doris, for the intricacies of the workings of Ruth's mind were too complicated for her simple, straightforward nature to comprehend. She and Ruth were exceptionally good friends; but then Doris Sands was the sort of girl who could get along with anybody. She never thought of Ruth as self-seeking; merely attributed the measure of success she obtained to cleverness. She always looked for the best in everybody.
When Marjorie and Ruth had entered the seminary the previous fall, there had been thirty-five girls in the class. Now the membership had decreased to twenty-five, and they were all on rather intimate terms. Five of these were Girl Scouts: Anna Cane, Doris Sands, Lily Andrews, Ruth and Marjorie. These were the envied few, the inner circle, the leaders of the class. From their number everyone except, perhaps, Evelyn Hopkins, who always coveted good things for herself, expected the class president to be chosen.
Ruth had invited all twenty-five girls to her tea, although she and her room-mate, Evelyn Hopkins, scarcely hoped to be able to pack that number into their room. However, all did not accept the invitation; only fifteen or sixteen finally appeared.
Doris and Evelyn were passing sandwiches and cakes, while Ruth poured the cocoa. The conversation, which buzzed from groups in all parts of the room, was suddenly silenced by the hostess's general remark,
"Girls," she said, still standing beside the wicker tea-table in the corner, "I guess you wondered why I was in such a hurry to entertain you, but the fact is, I thought it would be nice to have a little informal discussion about class matters before the meeting to-night. Because we don't want to conduct our affairs just any old way, hit or miss; we want to make ours the best class ever!"
"Hurray!" cheered Doris; "you've surely got the right spirit, Ruth."
Encouraged by the applause of the president, Ruth continued,
"We want a good strong organization, to keep those freshies from getting their secret meeting, and electing a class president; we want an efficient president ourselves—not that we can ever get one as good as our last year's"—she smiled admiringly at Doris—"who will systematize the whole thing! What do you all think?"
"Good for you, Ruth!" cried Barbara Hill, a quiet little girl who had always admired Ruth's courage. "We want somebody that will put heart and soul into the job!"
"I don't think we ought to discuss each other now," explained Ruth; "that would be too embarrassing. But I just want everybody to think, and think hard, and not vote for a girl just because she's popular."
"I think Marj Wilkinson would be dandy!" remarked Anna Cane;—"by the way, she isn't here this afternoon, is she? I wonder why?"
Ruth felt a cold shiver pass over her; no matter how hard she tried to evade her, her old rival seemed to confront her upon every occasion. She had really planned the tea for a time when she knew Marjorie could not come, so that she might put her out of her classmates' minds; but here she seemed to appear in the spirit, as if to mock her! Was this fate—for the way she had treated Marjorie the previous year—or was it merely her own conscience that caused her to dread the mention of the other girl's name for honors that she coveted for herself?
She reached over and put a lump of sugar into her cup of cocoa before she trusted herself to reply. When she spoke again, her voice was perfectly natural.
"Marj would certainly be great as president," she said sweetly; "except for one thing—and that's the very thing that's keeping her away this afternoon; she's more interested in athletics and Scout activities—in fact, anything where Miss Phillips is concerned"—she paused for a second to allow the girls who were not Scouts time to think it over—"more interested than she is in class affairs! I begged and begged her to give up hockey this afternoon, but she wouldn't! And I think our president, whoever she is, especially at this important time, should give all the interest possible to the class."
"That's right, Ruth," agreed Evelyn, who had really been coached upon what to say in the case of such a situation arising. "And another thing—why don't we save Marj for senior president? She'd make a perfectly wonderful one then!"
"Yes, that's a good idea," commented Doris; and here the conversation lost its general tone. But Ruth felt satisfied; the purpose of her tea had not been in vain. She had sown the seed of opposition to Marjorie, and even if she herself were not elected to the office, she would have the satisfaction of knowing that she had kept Marjorie from it. And senior year was a long way off; perhaps Marjorie might lose her popularity by then. At any rate, she felt assured that the present danger was avoided.
It was only quarter of eight when she and Evelyn made their way to the English class-room, where Doris had scheduled the class meeting. The president and one or two others were already there. But Ruth had no intention of discussing the matter again; indeed, her idea in coming early was to ward off any attempt to change the sentiment she had started at her tea.
By eight o'clock, nearly twenty girls had arrived, and Doris called the meeting to order.
"I don't see why people can't be interested enough to come on time!" remarked Ruth, significantly. The observation seemed general, but as Marjorie Wilkinson and Lily Andrews entered the room a few minutes later, when the roll was being called, the girls remembered the remark, and the shaft went home.
"I certainly want to congratulate the reception committee," said Doris at the beginning of the meeting,—"and particularly Marjorie Wilkinson as chairman. I'm sure we couldn't have given the freshmen a lovelier party!"
Marjorie blushed modestly at the praise, and Ruth smiled artificially. No one must think she minded Marjorie's success.
"Madame President!" said Marjorie, rising, "would it be in order to make a suggestion along the same line?"
"Certainly," nodded Doris.
"Well," she explained, "I noticed at the party—and later—that a number of our freshmen were pretty homesick. Now wouldn't it be possible for each girl in our class to sort of 'adopt' a particular girl, to look out for her, and try to make her happy? I know that the Y.W.C.A. has instituted that custom in several of the colleges, and it works splendidly."
"I think that is a charming idea, Marjorie," said Doris. "What do the rest of the class think?"
Ruth instantly thought of all sorts of objections, but hesitated to be the first to voice them, lest her opposition might seem too pointed. She winked slyly at Evelyn; she could depend upon her to rally to her cause.
"Madame President," said Evelyn, interpreting Ruth's silent request, "would there be enough of us? Aren't there forty freshmen?"
"I thought of that," answered Marjorie; "but I am sure the juniors would help."
"Juniors!" exclaimed Barbara Hill, scornfully. "We wouldn't want a rival class to come to our assistance, would we?"
"Seniors, then," replied Marjorie, with annoyance in her tone. She was interested in the idea itself, not in the details of its execution.
"I think Marjorie's plan is wonderful," put in Ruth, deciding at this point that she could remain out of the discussion no longer, "but I have one suggestion to make. You know yourselves that girls of our age don't like to be pitied and petted! Let's do something, certainly, just as Marjorie proposes, to make the freshmen feel at home, but I would advise that we do everything in our power to give them a good, lively interest—that instead of treating them like the Infant Department of a Sunday School, we take away their loneliness by some good stiff rivalry! Let's call them together, and tell them more about their secret class meeting, and challenge them to try to outwit us! They'll be so busy, and they'll develop so much real class spirit that they won't have time to get blue."
"I think that's great!" cried Evelyn, jumping up impulsively. "Let's get the thing started right away."
"Perhaps we had better have our class elections first," said Doris, glancing at her watch. "Then we can continue with the discussion afterwards, till nine o'clock, for I promised Miss Allen I'd close promptly. Nominations are now in order!"
"I nominate Ruth Henry!" said Barbara Hill, still glowing with admiration of the girl.
"I nominate Lily Andrews!" announced Marjorie, to the surprise of everyone.
"I nominate Evelyn Hopkins!" declared Ruth, glorying in the fact that her loyalty to her room-mate would be silently applauded.
"And I move that the nominations be closed!" chimed in Barbara, again.
The whole thing had been done so quickly that Marjorie's especial friends hardly realized that her chances for class presidency had vanished completely. Marjorie herself did not mind: her attention was so taken up with hockey and freshmen and Scout activities, that she had scarcely given the matter a thought. Nor did Lily, stunned as she was at the proposal of her own name for the office, realize her room-mate's exclusion. But Ruth was so exultant that she could hardly refrain from crying out in her joy. It seemed to her that her dearest wish was about to come true. Two easier opponents, she thought, could not possibly have been selected: Lily Andrews would never be elected—she was too fat and plain; and Evelyn Hopkins—light, frivolous, self-centered girl that she was—was decidedly unpopular. The outcome of the business seemed assured in Ruth's favor; she was so certain of her own election, that she did not even bother to vote for herself, but instead cast her ballot for Evelyn.
Clerks and a judge of the election were appointed, and the voting was quickly concluded. While they withdrew to count the ballots, the others proceeded to discuss a time at which to call the freshmen class together, to emphasize the importance of securing their own meeting. Wednesday afternoon was finally decided upon.
The judge of elections returned, and stood beside Doris. Ruth looked at the girl closely, vainly attempting to ascertain from her expression the outcome of the election; but the latter returned her only an impersonal stare.
"There was a tie," she announced, "between Lily Andrews and Ruth Henry, each candidate having received nine votes. We shall need to have another ballot between these two."
Ruth almost gasped at the announcement; quick figuring allowed her to conclude that Evelyn must have received seven votes! Undoubtedly the girl had voted for herself, and, of course, Ruth had cast hers in her favor—but where had she obtained the other five? Ruth forgot to reckon on the fact that a number of girls outside of the Scout troop were more or less jealous of their successful rivals, and would vote for Evelyn simply because she was not a Girl Scout.
"I'll fix that," thought Ruth; "I'll just vote for myself this time!"
Ruth smiled confidently as the judge again returned with her decision, she was so sure of victory. Now she was glad she had not made the office before; it would be so much more honor to be sophomore president!
"I have the honor to declare that our next president will be Lily Andrews!" announced the girl briefly, and resumed her seat.
And, amid shouts and applause, the meeting broke up, for the hour of nine had struck.
Ruth Henry was defeated again, but not wholly so; for Marjorie's plan for befriending homesick freshmen had been put aside, and her chance of becoming president lost. But—her rival's candidate had won!
If Marjorie was disappointed at the failure of her plan, she was tremendously elated over her room-mate's election to the class presidency. Lily Andrews was not a girl who was naturally popular like Doris Sands, or Marjorie herself. She had fought valiantly for everything she had achieved, and her triumph, therefore, was all the more precious.
For an instant, while the vote was being taken, Ruth had thought of the Lily Andrews that had first appeared at Miss Allen's—extravagantly overdressed, noticeably fat, and crude in every respect. She had smiled confidently at the picture, scorning the idea that such a girl could ever stand a chance against her.
But Ruth had not counted on the fairness of the girls at Miss Allen's: they thought of their new president, not as she had been, but as she was now; and because Lily had put aside her extravagant taste, had resolutely trained herself down by self-denial, and had even done creditably in athletics, she was greatly admired. Besides this, Lily Andrews was genuine—and so loyal! Moreover, all the girls, even those who were not Scouts and therefore knew nothing about Ruth's disgraceful trick against Marjorie the previous year, often had cause to doubt the former's sincerity.
Lily herself was too much overcome with surprise to realize it all at once. She walked out of the room with Marjorie's arm around her, still under the impression that she must be dreaming.
When they reached their own room Lily sank down into a chair, exhausted from the excitement.
"Marj, what ever made you nominate me?" she cried. "I'm not the stuff presidents are made of—like you and Doris!"
"Oh, but you are—or you wouldn't have gotten it!"
"I got it because they didn't put anybody good against me! I had meant to nominate you; but before I had a chance, Barbara moved that the nominations be closed. But you led me into it—now you must tell me what to do!"
She looked at her room-mate imploringly, as if she were already bowed down with the sense of responsibility.
"I'm sorry, Lil, but I can't tell you," laughed Marjorie. "You know I've never been president."
"That's true! Oh, say, Marj, wasn't Ruth the surprised girl when she heard I got it? I couldn't help watching her face, and I nearly died!"
Marjorie, too, had enjoyed the situation immensely; for while she usually disliked seeing anyone disappointed, Ruth had been so over-confident, and so scornful of Lily the preceding year, that she could not help being glad of the outcome. Then, a sudden thought struck her.
"You asked me what I'd do, Lil," she said. "I'd advise you to enlist Ruth's help!"
"Ruth Henry?" This in consternation.
"Yes; for this reason: she has had a big disappointment in not being elected herself, and I know Ruth well enough to realize that when she is disappointed, she often gets spiteful. So, if you take my advice, you will make her your friend before she has a chance to become your enemy!"
Lily weighed carefully the suggestion put forth by her room-mate. She nodded her head slightly in her approval of the plan.
"I guess you're right," she said. "I had, of course, thought of consulting Doris, and I suppose I might as well include Ruth. It can't do any harm."
The next day was one of those beautiful mild days that would seem to belong rather to summer than to autumn. The windows all over the school were wide open; the sound of lawn-mowers could be heard in the distance; the drowsy warmth of the air made the girls think of Commencement time.
Resolutely putting aside her desire to be lazy, and oppressed by the thought of her official duties, Lily Andrews decided to devote the afternoon to a consultation with Doris Sands, the out-going president.
But Marjorie shared no such cares. Freed from hockey practice, and planning to study her lessons in the evening, her thoughts flew to her canoe—that beautiful prize she had won at the summer camp. What could possibly be more delightful than an afternoon spent in paddling and drifting about the lake, with her copy of Alfred Noyes' poems to glance into now and then? The idea was so alluring that she could hardly force herself to sit through luncheon.
As a rule Marjorie Wilkinson was a sociable being—she enjoyed other girls' companionship, and possessed an unusual quality of friendliness. But to-day she felt dreamy; she longed to get away from everybody, where conversation would be unnecessary, and where she could give herself up to her own drowsy imaginings. For she had many happy things to think about. That very morning she had received a letter—nothing thrilling in it, but just an interesting, boyish account of activities at Princeton—whose signature had made her heart beat more rapidly. For it was from John Hadley, the boy whom she had liked and admired most of all the Boy Scouts the previous year. The very fact that he should still think of her amidst all the rush of his busy college life flattered her, and set her to dreaming.
So she found her book and started for the lake, only to remember, when she had gone half of the distance, that she had left her paddle in the closet.
"I believe I'll leave it in the canoe after this," she decided; "nobody would ever think of taking the canoe, and it would be so much less trouble. And I'd probably go out oftener if I didn't have to come up here for the paddle every time."
She hurried across the sun-lit campus, through the trees, to the little lake. There under a weeping-willow, lay the canoe.
A thrill of delight passed over her as she turned the canoe right side up; the possession of such a beautiful object had never lost its charm. She wondered whether she was selfish in enjoying it alone, but dismissed the idea when she recalled the fact that Lily and Doris and Ruth would all be occupied with their own affairs.
The picturesque scene—only a tiny lake in comparison with the one at camp—and the smooth, gliding motion of the canoe were in perfect harmony with the girl's mood and the quiet, peaceful day. She began to hum softly to the rhythmic dip, dip of the paddle into the still water.
"If John Hadley were only at Episcopal Academy now," she mused, "maybe we could sneak some good times!" Then she fell to dreaming that he suddenly appeared on the edge of the lake, and that they spent the afternoon together. But when the thought recalled to her mind the consequences of that other stolen meeting, at camp, she actually laughed aloud.
Her laughter evidently startled some one on the bank, for there immediately followed a gasp, and then a suppressed sob. Marjorie stopped paddling.
"Who's there?" she called, softly. "Can I do anything to help——"
A very mussed, woe-begone figure emerged from behind a clump of rhododendrons. Her hair streamed in her eyes, her summer dress bore evidence of a careless position, and her tear-stained cheeks of weeping. It was Alice Endicott, the little freshman whom Ruth had made such fun of at the sophomore reception. And she was evidently in the deepest distress.
"Alice!" exclaimed Marjorie, in surprise. "Why, what is the matter?"
"Nothing!" sobbed the girl forlornly. Then, "Everything!"
Both remarks, so entirely opposite, were no doubt correct. Nothing really was the matter, and yet everything was wrong; for Alice Endicott was hopelessly homesick.
Marjorie ran the nose of her canoe aground upon the low bank and begged Alice to get in. Hardly knowing what she was about, the younger girl climbed into the bow and sank down facing Marjorie.
"Now tell me all about it," said Marjorie, in the most sympathetic tone imaginable. She thought of her own first days at the school, when Ruth, obviously so popular, had totally neglected her, and when her own room-mate, Lily Andrews, had seemed impossible. Remorseful, too, because of her own selfish happiness, she felt more eager than ever to comfort the lonely freshman. But it was a difficult matter, she knew.
"I want to go home," sobbed Alice, with her handkerchief at her eyes.
"No, no!" protested Marjorie. "Please give us another chance. Don't you like it a bit here?"
"I hate it!" exclaimed the other, with more emphasis than Marjorie thought her capable of. "You're the only girl who's been even half decent to me."
"And I'm ashamed of myself," muttered Marjorie sadly. "But please forgive us all, Alice; we didn't realize how you felt. Won't you, please—and wait a day or two while you decide whether you want to stay or not?"
Alice stopped crying; she was really surprised at Marjorie's sincerity in assuming the blame herself. Still, she pursued her same line of argument.
"There's nothing here that I can't get in school near home."
Marjorie was silent; was this accusation true? Was Miss Allen's really nicer than any other school, or was it merely her own opinion? She met the question fairly, searching her mind truthfully for an answer. At last she found one: in the eyes of even unprejudiced observers, it must appear to excel all other schools—because of its Girl Scout troop!
And so she replied to Alice's challenge with a description of the troop, and of the big organization of which it was a part, telling of its principles and its aims; relating stories of the hikes, the parties, the good times with the Boy Scouts, and—best of all—of the wonderful camping trip during the vacation. She told her about the contest, that the very canoe in which they were sitting was a reward from the Girl Scouts.
"So you see," concluded Marjorie, "you can have a great big aim here, and you can begin right now to do such good work that you'll be a Scout as soon as the first report comes out!"
"But——" said Alice slowly, dipping her hand idly into the water—"but suppose I don't make it!"
Marjorie drew a quick breath. Suppose she did not! Suppose, like herself, she should lose out! Then, in a flash, Marjorie became aware of a great truth: the value of human suffering. Up to this time, she could never quite see any good in her former disappointment; now she realized that it made her akin to all the others in the world who had suffered and would suffer again. She could understand, and she could comfort Alice from the depths of her own experience, just as Miss Phillips had comforted her.
"And if you missed out, you would try again!" she said, proceeding to recount the story of her own failure, being careful, however, to leave Ruth's part out of the narrative.
As the sun sank lower, the girls talked on, until Marjorie noticed that it was time to dress for dinner. Alice seemed quite happy now, and even smiled at the dirty smudges on her nose which she saw reflected in the tiny mirror on the bottom of Marjorie's powder puff.
"I guess I was pretty silly," she admitted, as the girls strolled across the campus together. "But my room-mate, Esther Taylor, never pays the slightest attention to me, and I was pretty lonely. But I won't be again." She smiled shyly up into Marjorie's face. "For I know now that I have a friend."
"Indeed you have," assured the older girl, pressing her hand. "And you have a big aim before you. I shall be terribly disappointed, Alice, if you don't make the Girl Scout troop!"
"I will make it!" she replied resolutely; and Marjorie believed her.
"Promise to come to see me every day," urged Marjorie, as Alice turned to leave her at the door of her room.
"I'd love to! But you'll get tired of me, I'm afraid."
"No, I won't! And remember—you're my freshman!"
"And it all goes to prove," she thought as she closed the door of her room, "that Ruth may block my plans, but she can't influence the real me! And I've really won, after all!"
THE FIRST SCOUT MEETING
If the members of Pansy troop could have consulted their own wishes, they would have held a Scout meeting as soon as all the girls had arrived at school. But Miss Phillips had declared that such a thing was impossible; there were too many other matters to attend to.
School had opened on Thursday, and the first real event outside of the regular program had been the sophomore reception. It was not until over a week afterward, on Friday evening, that the Girl Scouts met for the first time.
The meeting was scheduled for seven-thirty, but by a quarter after the hour, everyone of the fifteen girls had arrived.
Every Scout wore her uniform; as each one entered the little room which had been set aside by Miss Allen for the troop, she saluted the Captain, who sat at a desk in the front. It seemed like old times; only the two seniors, who had been graduated, were missing. The present members could not help thinking of them.
"Too bad we can't stay at Miss Allen's forever," remarked Marjorie; "it seems awful to think we had to lose two Scouts."
"But we'll get more," observed Ruth, optimistically, who had never been a girl of deep friendships.
"And next year Edith and Helen will be gone," continued Marjorie—"and the others."
For an instant she came face to face with the great fact that has staggered the individual since the beginning of civilization—the realization of the ceaseless passage of time. Marjorie reflected, with a certain sense of sadness, that she too must graduate, and leave the school and the Scout troop to younger girls. The thought sobered her; it was with an effort that she turned her attention to the Captain, as she called the Scouts to order.
"We shall begin a trifle early," explained Miss Phillips, "since everybody is here, for there is a great deal to talk about. Now—Troop, Attention!"
The usual opening ceremony was performed, together with the recitation of the Scout laws and pledge. It was so familiar to them all that they hardly thought of the words as they repeated them; to Marjorie, however, they were impressive, for she had not been a member of the troop so long as the other girls.
The treasurer made her statement, and the dues were collected. As there were no committees to report, the Captain proceeded immediately to "old business."
"I suppose you are all eager to hear about our troop's Good Turn," she began, "and I am very glad to be able to tell you something favorable. But first, for the benefit of the girls who were not at camp, let me explain that the troop met and decided to send a poor, ignorant, badly brought-up country girl to public school in this town, and to pay her board and buy her clothing all year. Her name is Frieda Hammer. And, as you all know, although her mother promised to send her the day before school opened, she did not arrive. I have since learned that she kept her at home because the baby was sick, but intends to send her this Saturday."
Marjorie's eyes shone. Their plan was to succeed after all! Ruth had been mistaken; when Frieda began to develop and make progress, perhaps Ruth would be sorry for the distrustful attitude she had taken! And think what it would mean to Frieda—a girl of her own age! Now she would have pretty clothes that the Scouts would buy her, live in a lovely home in the village, where the Scouts would pay her board, and go to the public school. She would meet nice girls, develop friendships, and have the opportunity to study and prepare herself to make something worth while of her life. She would be just like Cinderella—and the Scouts would be the fairy godmother!
"But where shall we get the money, Captain?" demanded Ruth. She made no attempt to conceal her disapproval of the project; she would have preferred to direct the troop's attention to earning money for the following summer's outing.
"That is what we must talk about this evening," replied Miss Phillips. "But in the meantime, we have twenty-six dollars in the treasury. Mrs. Johnson, in the village, tells me she will board Frieda for the special rate of six dollars a week—she's interested in her, too, and would like to help us—so what would you all say to paying twelve dollars in advance for board, and spending the other fourteen on some clothing?"
"Great! Splendid!" cried the girls.
"But how about our Hallowe'en party!" pouted Ruth. "Aren't we going to have any more good times ourselves?" Then, noticing the spirit of antagonism that her remark had aroused, she hastened to add, "I wouldn't mind if I thought Frieda would appreciate it. But I'll bet she won't! She'll steal again, just like she did at camp!"
Miss Phillips held up her hand to caution Ruth not to go any farther; and Frances Wright, who, next to Marjorie, had been most interested in the girl from the start, protested vehemently.
"Ruth!" she cried, disdainfully, "you surely don't think that!"
"Yes, she does!" exclaimed Marjorie impulsively. "She doesn't trust——"
"Girls!" remonstrated the Captain, rising from the chair to take command of the situation. "We will have no more discussion about the matter. We shall simply vote on the motion—if someone will be kind enough to make one—to spend the twenty-six dollars that we have in the treasury on board and clothing for Frieda Hammer."
The motion was made and carried by an overwhelming majority, and Miss Phillips asked Frances Wright to accompany her to the city the following Saturday to meet the girl when she should arrive.
"Now we must discuss other ways to raise money," continued the Captain. "Several of the girls have suggested a Christmas bazaar. This I consider a splendid plan, so if you are all in favor of it, we shall start in making things for it immediately. But, of course, we cannot hold that until December, and we shall need money before then. So has anyone else a proposal?"
The resourceful Marjorie arose to her feet. After giving the customary salute, she began:
"The other day, when I was out in my canoe on the lake, it occurred to me how lovely it must be there at night. I kept wishing we could have some sort of party on the water, and then the idea came to me to have a sort of Japanese fete, and charge admission. We could hire Japanese lanterns, and put up two or three attractive booths to sell refreshments, and I could sell rides in my canoe—maybe we could hire two or three extra boats for the occasion—and maybe tell fortunes, or something like that. Do you suppose," she concluded, "that we could get Miss Allen's permission?"
Miss Phillips did not need to ask for an expression of opinion; she could read from the Scouts' faces their approval of the plan. As a mere matter of form, she called for a vote upon the question, and when the suggestion was unanimously adopted, a date was selected, and Marjorie herself appointed chairman of the committee.
"And now," said the Captain, "I have a lovely invitation for you!"
"The Boy Scouts?" cried Ruth, joyfully.
"Not this time, Ruth. No—it's from Miss Martin's school. They want us to visit them, I think to give a Scout demonstration. And then, I believe, they intend to start a rival troop."
"I would love to see some other Girl Scouts," said Edith Evans. "Won't it be great to have a sister troop!"
"Yes, indeed," agreed the Captain. "But I am not willing to take fifteen Scouts—not even two patrols, you know—over there to demonstrate. I asked Miss Watson, the gym teacher at Miss Martin's, to postpone the invitation until after the first of November, when our reports come out and the hockey team is chosen. That will give us an opportunity to fill up our troop; indeed, I hope we have at least three, and maybe four full patrols!"
"Do you really expect so many freshmen to meet the requirements, Captain?" asked Frances.
"No, not only freshmen. I think some more upper classmen will qualify—girls like Mae VanHorn, for instance, who just fell a trifle short last year."
"Would it be possible, Captain," suggested Marjorie, shyly, "to make Frieda a Girl Scout? Couldn't she be an honorary member, or something?"
But Miss Phillips wisely shook her head.
"No; in one respect, Ruth was right—we must not expect a lot from her at first. Frieda Hammer is a girl who has never been taught right from wrong, and we must go very slowly. If she proves worthy, perhaps we can take her in later, although I would prefer to let her wait till she passes our school examinations, and has a chance to enter just like any other girl. We all appreciate things we have to work hard for, you know!"
"We certainly do!" agreed Marjorie, emphatically; and Ruth, sensitive to the reference, could not control the flush that spread over her face.
"And now for Scouting itself," concluded the Captain; "for we must not neglect that. We shall probably go for a hike Saturday a week, if it is clear, and then we are going to study definitely for our first-class test. I made a big mistake when I thought you could pass it in two weeks' time at camp. But then I was going by the old handbook, and in the new one it is much more difficult; the signalling alone will probably require two months' study. I am going to ask Mr. Remington, the Boy Scoutmaster, to give the final test in the semaphore and Morse code, and every other requirement must be passed with the same thoroughness. If my dream comes true, the first class Scouts of Pansy troop will be able to go anywhere—even to National Headquarters—and pass the stiffest examination the Director herself could give, bringing credit to Pansy troop!"
"Whew!" exclaimed Ruth. "I sort of miscalculated at camp, didn't I?"
The girls laughed at the recollection of the episode of kidnapping Frieda's sister.
"Frieda will never forgive me for that," she added; "I guess I can never hope to become her friend!"
"I guess you don't care much!" remarked Ethel, with a touch of sarcasm in her tone.
"Well, I don't believe it's going to do any good!" she flashed back. "You mark my words—Frieda Hammer can't be trusted!"
"Girls!" expostulated Miss Phillips again. "Come to order! We shall now review our semaphore alphabet. Lineup! Troop, attention! Right dress!"
When the meeting was over, Marjorie and Lily sauntered slowly back to their room.
"I was so happy about Frieda," said Marjorie, a shade of discouragement creeping into her voice, "till Ruth threw such cold water on the project. Do you believe it will work out all right, Lil?"
"I believe everything will work out all right," replied the other girl optimistically. "After you won the canoe, and I was elected class president against Ruth, I feel as if nothing we ever really want will fall through. So please don't worry, Marj!"
And Marjorie decided that she would adopt Lily's cheerful view of the situation—and wait. In a little over a week, Frieda would arrive; from the very beginning Marjorie would adopt so friendly an attitude that it would be impossible for the girl to treat her indifferently.
"For kindness always wins in the end," she thought, as she turned out the pretty boudoir lamp beside her bed.
Ever since Lily Andrews had taken up her duties as sophomore president she found a noticeable change in the attitude of certain members of the class towards her. Foremost among this group were Ruth Henry and Evelyn Hopkins, who boasted proudly among the other girls of their friendship with the president. If Ruth harbored any resentment against her successful rival, she carefully concealed it; and most of her classmates spoke of her as Lily Andrews' "right-hand man."
Without a doubt, Ruth was a great help to the new officer. Marjorie, always more interested in athletics and Scout affairs, paid only a half-hearted attention to Lily's official problems; and Doris Sands was really tired out and needed a rest. So, in sheer desperation, Lily sought Ruth, and always found her interested and helpful.
One afternoon when Marjorie was out walking with Alice Endicott, Lily, with notebook and pencil in hand, hurried over to Ruth's room. She found her sitting languidly beside her wicker tea-table, playing with the tea-ball, and carrying on a disconcerted conversation with Evelyn.
"How many times do I have to tell you not to knock, Lily Andrews!" she exclaimed. "I thought you knew us well enough by this time——"
Lily laughed, nevertheless highly flattered. It is always more or less of a triumph to conquer a dislike, and Lily felt genuinely pleased at the change in Ruth's attitude toward her.
"You're awfully good——" she began.
"Not at all!" protested Ruth. "But Evelyn and I are always at home to our friends!" Then, noticing the notebook, "What's the important business now, Lil?"
"Oh, it's class stuff again! I want your advice, Ruth."
"It's yours for the asking!" replied the hostess, magnanimously, well pleased to be so obviously within the "inner circle."
"You really ought to be class president, Ruth. You do more work than I do, and don't get the credit."
"I don't want credit," lied Ruth; "all I want is our class's good."
"Yes, I know. Well, here is my present trouble. You know, every single class since the foundation of the school has succeeded in holding their meeting in spite of the sophomores' attempt at interference. Why can't we break the spell? What could we possibly do?"
Ruth sat up straight in her chair and half closed her eyes, lost in contemplation.
"We will break the spell!" she announced, slowly. "I think I have a new idea!"
"Ruth, you are so clever!" exclaimed Evelyn, who could not keep out of the conversation. "I almost believe you can do it!"
"Tell us what your plan is!" begged Lily, impatient with even a moment's unnecessary delay.
"The private detective system—and by that I mean to have each girl in our class responsible for one or two freshmen, and know where they are every minute of the day. In that way, all of us would really be on guard all the time!"
"Wonderful!" cried Lily enthusiastically. "Would it really be possible to do it?"
"I don't see why not; the struggle lasts only six weeks—nearly two are gone already. And if everybody will work——"
"That's great, Ruth," interrupted Lily, deciding instantly to adopt the plan; "I'll post a notice for a meeting this very evening, and we'll put it up to the class. Then, if everybody approves of the scheme, I want you to be chairman of the Vigilance Committee—the leader, you know, to whom the girls would report any suspicions."
Ruth's heart gave a bound of delight: the appointment was just what she desired. With a little tact and diplomacy, she could make Lily a mere figure-head, and herself the power behind the throne; in this manner she could pave the way for her own election to the presidency for junior year.
But she did not dare to betray to Lily the fact that she was eager for the office. She even hesitated a moment before she accepted.
"Of course it will mean an awful lot of work, but if you really think I am capable, Lily, you know I'd do anything for the sake of the class."
"Of course you're capable," reassured the other, "and you must take it. It will remove a big weight from my mind, too, if you do."
The girls discussed the matter in detail, while Evelyn made tea. Then, refreshed and encouraged, Lily returned to her own room.
At the class meeting that evening, when Lily announced that Ruth Henry was chairman of the Vigilance Committee, the general wave of surprise that spread over the room was apparent. For most of the girls remembered how ungraciously the latter had treated her the previous year, before there was any talk of Lily's rising to prominence. But the act only served to enhance the admiration the girls felt for their president; they realized anew how magnanimous she was, and how much she valued the good of the class.
Ruth presented her plan so effectively that it was immediately approved and adopted. Each girl was allowed to select her own freshman, for, as Ruth remarked, if the sophomores chose their particular friends there would be less cause for suspicion. She herself picked out two charges—Esther Taylor and Florence Evans—both girls of unusual energy. Marjorie Wilkinson naturally selected Alice Endicott. Each sophomore was equipped with a whistle which she was instructed to blow if necessary, unless she happened to be inside of the dormitory building. And since, according to Miss Allen's rules, it was forbidden to hold the meeting before the rising bell in the morning, or after the supper bell in the evening, the difficulty of the problem was reduced fifty per cent.
The freshmen, in the meantime, were striving to formulate some definite plan for concerted action. But with no officers to assume responsibility or give directions, and with no opportunity for general discussion, there seemed to be little hope of their getting together. However, as in all cases heretofore, they relied upon the resourcefulness and hesitance of the junior president.
The holder of that office was Ethel Todd, one of the very cleverest of the Girl Scouts. Exceptionally capable, she usually accomplished what she set out to do. When she learned that Ruth Henry was chairman of the Vigilance Committee she was more determined than ever to check-mate any plans the other might make. Taking matters in her own hands, she arranged for a thorough consultation with Florence Evans and Mildred Cavin, whom she considered class leaders.
"Ruth Henry has some clever scheme," she informed them, "you can just depend on that. But I mean to beat her, no matter how perfect her system is," she added. She had never forgiven Ruth for the contemptible manner in which she had treated Marjorie the previous year, and she could not resist the temptation to do everything in her power to get even.
So she set about to discover the sophomore's plan, and to outwit the girls if she could. She watched Ruth's movements closely, and saw her follow Esther Taylor to the library the following afternoon, remain there as long as the freshman did, and come out again a few seconds afterward, dogging her footsteps to the hockey field. This same occurrence took place the day after; at the same time she perceived that Lily Andrews seemed always close on the trail of Mildred Cavin, and Marjorie of Alice Endicott. Ethel retired to her own room to think over this in quiet.
What could it all mean? Did Ruth and Lily and Marjorie think that the other freshmen could not hold a meeting without these few girls—that they, leaders though they were, were indispensable? She glanced out of the window and saw Daisy Gravers walking down the path to the gate; a few steps behind her came Doris Sands, apparently unconcerned about things in general, but every now and then glancing at Daisy, and then looking hastily toward the dormitory. Then, in a flash, the system was disclosed to the junior President!
"PRIVATE DETECTIVE SYSTEM!" she exclaimed aloud, jumping suddenly to her feet. "Each freshman shadowed by a soph!"
She hit upon a brilliant, yet simple, plan. She would beat Ruth by cleanliness! Accordingly, she wrote forty notes to forty freshmen, telling them to wear kimonas, carry soap and towels, and be in the shower-bath compartment on the third floor at one minute after seven the following day. If the sophomores were up early enough to notice the freshmen's absences, they would not suspect anything unusual in such a proceeding.
The next morning was a dark one, and, much to her annoyance, Ruth overslept by ten minutes. Jumping up suddenly, she hastily put on her bathrobe, and, passing along the hall by way of Esther Taylor's and Florence Evans' rooms, made her way toward the shower. She did not hear any stir as she went by the freshmen's doors, but being late, she hurried on. A moment later, she reached the shower-bath compartment.
As she was just about to enter, the swinging door was abruptly flung open, and a noisy crowd of girls, in kimonas and bath-robes, almost knocked her over. They were freshmen, and they were all tremendously happy over something; in a flash, she read the news of their victory. She did not even need Mildred Cavin's announcement: "Florence Evans is freshman president!" to confirm her fears.
The hot blood rushed to Ruth's face as she caught sight of Ethel Todd's triumphantly gleaming eyes. Dejected, defeated, she disappeared into the shower to drown her disappointment in cold water.
For, in her own imagination, she saw the junior presidency fading from her grasp!
THE ARRIVAL OF FRIEDA
Marjorie and Lily were seated in the old-fashioned, comfortably furnished parlor in the home of Mrs. Johnson, that motherly woman who, through her interest in both the Girl Scouts and their ward, had promised to board Frieda for six dollars a week. The girls had come down to see her to venture a little plan of theirs, and Marjorie was relieved to find her so easy to become acquainted with. Mrs. Johnson was just the sort of person—placid, sympathetic, jolly—that any normal girl would love. This fact, thought Marjorie, ought to help them a great deal in their success with Frieda.
"You see," explained Marjorie, idly running her finger along the surface of the horse-hair sofa on which she was seated, "we want to make Frieda enjoy herself from the very beginning. Some of the freshmen at Miss Allen's were pretty homesick at first, and we want to avoid all that with her. For she really belongs to us, you know; we're responsible for her!"
"Yes, yes," agreed Mrs. Johnson, still in doubt regarding the purpose of the girl's remarks. Was Marjorie afraid that she, Mrs. Johnson, would not treat her kindly?
"But what——?" she began.
"What I am trying to tell you about," laughed Marjorie, interrupting her, "is that, provided you are willing, we want to have a little surprise party here for her when she arrives. We thought we'd order cake and ice-cream, and have everybody hide somewhere in the house. Then, when Miss Phillips and Frances and Frieda come in, you suggest that she go to her room, and take off her things, and come down again.
"While she's upstairs, we'll come out of our hiding-places and play the piano, and sing her a welcome song. Ethel Todd, one of the Scouts, has written a dandy—a parody on 'Jingle Bells'!"
Mrs. Johnson beamed happily.
"Indeed, I do heartily approve of your plan, my dear," she said. "Now won't you and your friend"—she rose from her seat—"come up to see her room? I wish I could have put her on the second floor, but you know my father and mother live with me, and they demand the first consideration."
Mrs. Johnson led the way up two flights of stairs and into a little room with a gabled roof. The room itself, the curtains, the rag rug, the bed, and the old fashioned bureau, were very neat and clean, but the whole effect of the furnishing was too bare to allow the room to be regarded as really attractive. Marjorie wondered what it would seem like to Frieda, unused as she was to luxury of any sort.
"It's awfully nice," she said with sincerity. "I'm sure Frieda will like it."
"I hope she does!" sighed Mrs. Johnson; "but you never can tell about young people these days."
When Saturday finally came, there was great excitement among the members of the Girl Scout troop. They felt like people who are about to adopt a child, so interested were they in the girl's welfare. Ruth alone was indifferent. She refused to believe that any good would come of the whole project. Some of the Scouts thought she harbored resentment against Frieda for disclosing her deceit in borrowing the baby at camp. Ethel Todd, always suspicious of Ruth, thought that she naturally was hostile toward any scheme in which Marjorie was deeply interested.
But Ruth's opposition in reality was caused by neither of these things; for once her reasons were impersonal. She really doubted Frieda's ability to appreciate what was being done for her, and though she could not exactly explain why, she felt positive that the girl would betray the troop's confidence, and make them wish that they had never considered the undertaking.
A dull, dreary rain on Saturday morning seemed to presage failure for the girls' plans at the very start. It was always dismal, Marjorie thought, to go anywhere in the rain, but especially to a new town. Frieda would receive a bad impression of the place from the beginning, and, if she had any tendency toward homesickness, the inclemency of the weather would only help to intensify it.
"I certainly am glad we planned this party, Lil," she observed, as the girls were donning their Scout uniforms. "That will probably be the only bright spot in the day for Frieda."
"You forget," said Lily reprovingly, "that Frieda is to be met by our Captain!"
"That's right, Lil! She's lucky!"
She looked dreamily out of the window, not seeing the rain, but thinking of the first time Miss Phillips had talked with her. From the very start she had meant more to Marjorie than any of the sorority girls.
"And yet," she added wistfully, "Miss Phillips didn't seem able to make much impression upon either Frieda or her mother before. Oh, I do hope Ruth is mistaken!"
At half-past two, fourteen Girl Scouts, all in uniform, were concealed on the first floor of Mrs. Johnson's house. Two of the girls were in the cellar-way, three in the roomy kitchen, two under the dining-room table, four behind chairs and the sofa in the living-room, one underneath the sofa, and two in the dining-room closet. While they tried not to become hilarious, for they expected their guests at any moment now, suppressed whispers and giggles were heard from time to time from all parts of the downstairs.
Mrs. Johnson, apparently the only person in the room, sat in a chair beside the table, knitting a white sweater for Frieda. Marjorie, sprawled at full length under the sofa, was making vain attempts to keep up a conversation with Lily and Ethel, who were behind it.
Suddenly a step was heard on the porch, and instantly a hush fell upon the room. The girls in the dining-room and kitchen became silent, too, as Mrs. Johnson answered the bell. But the Scouts' hearts fell as they distinguished the deep tones of a masculine voice.
"Michael Doyle, the plumber, told me to come here and look at the kitchen sink," they heard. "I'm his helper. Didn't you send for someone, Mrs. Johnson?"
"Why, to be sure!" replied their hostess genially, opening the door to admit the man. The girls remained in their hiding places, and only with great effort suppressed their desire to giggle. Mrs. Johnson led the way to the kitchen, where she explained the cause of the difficulty to the man.
In the meantime, more steps were heard outside; the hearts of the concealed girls beat all the more wildly with excitement because of the false alarm they had just experienced.
It was evident, after a moment or two of silence, that Mrs. Johnson had not heard the bell. Probably she had gone down the cellar with the plumber. Marjorie was debating in her own mind whether she ought not to creep out of her hiding place and open the door, for the day was too disagreeable to keep anyone outside longer than necessary, when Miss Phillips tried the knob, and, finding that it turned, she opened the door and walked in. Frieda followed, and then Frances.
Frieda Hammer, a girl of fourteen or fifteen, was dressed in an old-fashioned woolen suit of a style of nearly ten years back. Its bedraggled, uneven skirt reached down to her ankles, while the sleeves of the coat came far short of her wrists. Her hair was arranged in an exaggerated fashion, with huge ear-puffs, according to her idea of the latest mode; and on her head was a dirty straw hat, trimmed with big artificial roses. She slouched into the room, dragging her muddy feet over the carpet, and threw herself into Mrs. Johnson's chair.
She glanced around the room with a look of the utmost disdain; then closed her jaw tightly, causing her lower lip to protrude, as is often the habit with persons of sullen dispositions. Marjorie caught sight of her attitude and could hardly repress a sigh of dismay; then she espied Frances, looking nervous and unhappy, and her last hope vanished. Ruth must be right after all!
Miss Phillips sank into a chair opposite to Frieda, as if she were both mentally and physically exhausted. Then, breaking the silence at last, she remarked, in a tone which she tried to make pleasant,
"It's nice to be home, isn't it?"
But she received no reply from the girl. Her sullen expression never changed; it might seem that she had not heard Miss Phillips' remark.
"I guess Mrs. Johnson will be here in a minute," the latter added, cheerfully. "And then you can go to your room and wash."
Still there was no word or sign from Freida. "She certainly isn't very appreciative," thought Marjorie; "but maybe she's homesick."
"Would you like to try on your new things?" asked Miss Phillips.
With a shrug of the utmost indifference, Frieda replied,
"I don't care!"
"You're not a bit homesick, are you, Frieda?" asked Frances, more, it would seem, as if to make conversation, than because she really thought there was any likelihood of this contingency.
The girl regarded her questioner scornfully.
"For them folks?" she asked sarcastically. "I don't want to see them no more!"
Frances sighed—and surrendered. Ever since she and her Captain had met the country girl, she had tried to be friendly and sympathetic; in every instance Frieda had repulsed her in this rude manner. At first Frances had felt hurt; with a great deal of effort she had kept back the tears that the sharp replies would bring dangerously near to the surface. Then, too, the girl had been so outrageously ungrateful; she had almost made a scene in a store where Miss Phillips tried to buy a ten-dollar dress, and had declared that she would never wear it! Finally, they had compromised on a dark skirt and two middy blouses; but Frieda took no pains to hide her resentment at the cheapness of the clothing. Many of her remarks had been absolutely insulting; and now Frances was utterly disgusted with her, and wished that Pansy troop had taken Ruth Henry's advice, and let Frieda Hammer stay where she was till the end of her days.
Just at that moment Mrs. Johnson appeared with a great, warm smile of welcome on her motherly face. Surely, Frances thought, this would have melted the hardest heart. She and Miss Phillips both rose at her entrance; but Frieda sat perfectly still, and gave no indication that she was aware of the other's presence.
"Stand up, Frieda," commanded Miss Phillips, pleasantly, and the girl shuffled to her feet, still keeping her eyes fixed on the piano.
"Mrs. Johnson, this is Frieda Hammer. Frieda, you are very lucky to have such a lovely home, and such a kind, adopted mother! Won't you shake hands?"
The girl thrust out her hand awkwardly, still avoiding the eyes of the older woman. "A bad sign"—thought Mrs. Johnson, unconsciously—"she never seems to look anyone in the eyes."
"I will take you to your room, my dear," she said. "Then you can come down again and have something to eat!"
This last remark was made with a side glance at Miss Phillips, and a twinkle in her eye. But for once the latter did not respond; she was so discouraged and mentally worn-out, that she had completely forgotten the surprise party.
"Don't want nuthing!" protested Frieda, rudely. And, seizing her bag, she followed Mrs. Johnson up the stairs.
As soon as she was out of sight, the girls began to move cautiously from their hiding places. But suddenly they all stood perfectly still, arrested by the unbelievable words they now heard, which Frieda literally shouted at kind Mrs. Johnson.
"You ain't a-going to put me in the attic!" Her bag fell to the floor with a bang. "I didn't come here to be no servant girl! I knew there was a trick to it!"
"But, my dear——" Mrs. Johnson's soft voice pleaded in words that were not distinguishable to the girls below.
By this time the Scouts were gathered about the piano. Frances sank on the sofa and buried her face in her hands, and Miss Phillips sighed deeply. Marjorie looked frightened, as if something dreadful were about to happen. Ruth alone was unaffected; she had been right from the first!
"Oh, Ruth!" cried Frances, forgetting all about the surprise party. "If we only had taken your advice!" Her voice died in a wail.
"Sh!" cautioned Marjorie. "Oh, girls, don't let's give up! Please! Let's try our song. Maybe that—and the ice-cream——"
But to her dismay, she received no word of encouragement from Miss Phillips. Their Captain seemed to have reached the lowest depths of despair.
Ethel, however, struck the chord, and the girls chimed in weakly. Then, the music, strengthening their hopes as it progressed, made them more cheerful. Loudly, they brought out the words of the chorus:
"Frieda dear, Frieda dear, we're so glad you're here! Frieda dear, Frieda dear, your Scout friends are near——"
and they fairly shouted the name in hope of evoking some response.
But none came; in five minutes Mrs. Johnson reappeared with wet eyes. She felt so sorry for the Scouts.
"It's no use, girls," she said, sadly; "she wouldn't come down. And when I stepped out into the hall to show her the big closet for her wraps, she locked the door in my face!"
Marjorie burst into tears and hid her face on her room-mate's shoulder. She felt as if she had never been more disappointed, even when she failed to make the Scout troop.
"Don't cry, dear," said Mrs. Johnson, "she'll come around in time. Now let's have the party, anyway. Suppose you change it, and have it in honor of me instead! Day after to-morrow is my birthday!"
Marjorie looked up, smiling through her tears; and the girls all went out to prepare the refreshments. Miss Phillips flashed Mrs. Johnson a grateful look; the tact and good sense of the older woman had prevented the misfortune from becoming a tragedy.
THE JAPANESE FETE
When the disappointed girls left Mrs. Johnson's home at the conclusion of the surprise party, Marjorie probably looked most dejected of all. She resolutely avoided Ruth's society, feeling that she could not bear her "I told you so" attitude; instead, she sought Lily, who seemed to understand how she felt. The girls walked in silence; Lily knew her room-mate well enough now to realize that talking would not help, and she discreetly refrained from intruding upon her thoughts.
When they reached their own room, Marjorie threw herself upon the bed with a sob. Lily sat down beside her and put her arm around her neck.
"Marj, please don't take it so hard," she begged. "It won't do any good."
"Of course it won't," Marjorie replied, brokenly. "But I cared so much about her liking us."
"Well, she may, yet. Maybe she was frightened—and homesick. Why don't you go down to see her all by yourself?"
The suggestion brought Marjorie a ray of hope. She dried her eyes, and squeezed Lily's hand gratefully.
"I certainly will do that!" she exclaimed. "Thank you for suggesting it."
The following day, Sunday, was mild and beautiful; Marjorie was so glad to see that the rain was gone, and so hopeful about her new project, that she felt quite cheerful again. She selected one of her prettiest dresses—a pale pink voile—and also wore her pink silk sweater which matched it so perfectly.
"I won't bother with a hat," she thought. "It's so warm, and it will seem more informal without one."
It was only a few minutes' walk to Mrs. Johnson's house, and she reached it in no time. With trembling fingers, she rang the doorbell. The woman herself answered the summons.
"How do you do, Mrs. Johnson?" she said pleasantly. And then, just as if she were paying an ordinary call on one of her own friends, "Is Frieda in?"
Mrs. Johnson smiled. "Yes. Do come in, and sit down—Marjorie—isn't that your name? Let's talk a little first, and then I'll call her."
Marjorie sat down upon the edge of the sofa, and leaned forward eagerly. She was curious for news of this strange girl, who so baffled everybody, even Miss Phillips and kind Mrs. Johnson.
"She isn't civilized, Marjorie," said the older woman. "That's exactly what it is; she has lived with people all of her life who have no conception of morals, or manners, or training, and she simply acts like a sort of mental savage."
"But there were the Brubakers—her father worked for Mr. Brubaker. Don't you suppose——?"
"No; I don't suppose she ever saw anything of them. She is used to wandering about just as she pleases. Whatever education she has acquired was probably beaten into her by some rough, country schoolmaster."
Marjorie sighed hopelessly.
Mrs. Johnson read her thoughts. "But it isn't hopeless, my dear," she added softly. "Frieda is a human being, with a soul. And she is young, too. If we can keep her here, away from her parents' bad influence, we may yet be able to civilize her. Don't give up yet!"
Marjorie was unconsciously encouraged by these words. But she wanted more definite details of the girl's behavior.
"I sent her supper to her last night," said Mrs. Johnson, "by Annie, the girl who comes in to help me cook and wash dishes. She said that Frieda opened the door and snarled at her something which she could not understand, except the word 'servant,' and snatched the food and slammed the door in her face.
"She did not appear at breakfast, but I heard her go out for a walk; and when she came back, I was home from church and had dinner on the table. I asked her to come in, and she followed me to the dining-room.
"When I introduced her to father and mother, and Mr. Johnson, she paid not the slightest attention. Her manners at the table were terrible; she evidently knew nothing about the use of a knife and fork. She ate greedily, as if she were very hungry. And, by the way, I think the girl is decidedly undernourished.
"Immediately after dinner she went to her room again. Now, if you want to go up and see her, you can do as you like. You know the facts."
Marjorie jumped to her feet.
"Oh, I will go!" she cried impulsively. "There must be some good in her."
"Yes," agreed Mrs. Johnson, "or else she would not have consented to come here."
Marjorie lowered her eyelids. She was thinking of that remark of Ruth's: that Frieda had only seized the opportunity as another chance to steal something. But she resolutely suppressed the idea; she did not want to antagonize Mrs. Johnson to any greater extent against the girl.
Up the steps she ran, two at a time, so that she might not have time to lose courage and change her mind. She knocked at the door of the room.
"Who is it?" This, gruffly.
"It's Marjorie—Marjorie Wilkinson! The girl with the canoe. I want to take you for a ride in my boat!" This last proposal was made on the inspiration of the moment.
To her surprise, she heard Frieda step forward and unlock the door.
"Whew!" she whistled, gazing at Marjorie's costume in open-mouthed amazement. "Some dress!"
Marjorie smiled, all the while noting with pleasure the changed appearance of the other. For Frieda wore the pleated skirt and middy that Miss Phillips had bought for her the day before, and her hair was arranged quite simply in the style Frances Wright adopted, without, of course, the artificial ear-puffs.
"How nice you look, Frieda!" she observed, admiringly.
"None of that!" shouted the other girl. "This dress makes me sick, when I look at yours!"
Marjorie perceived the jealousy in Frieda's eyes, and hastened to change the subject.
"Will you go out in my canoe with me now?"
"Nope! Not in this rig!"
"If you like it so much," she interrupted, "you wear it—and give me yours!"
Now Marjorie's pink voile was one of her favorite dresses, and she had counted upon wearing it in the evenings all winter. But it was not really expensive, and she felt that she would gladly part with it if it would effect a reconciliation. The sweater would be a weightier matter; it had been a birthday gift from her father. Still, she would sacrifice that, too, on the altar of this, her greatest desire of the present time.
She considered making a bargain and extracting a promise of friendship from the girl, but this, she felt, might antagonize her. So she merely said,
"All right, Frieda; but you can't wear this to school. I'll wear yours back to the dormitory, and then I'll put on another dress and give this back to you again."
Frieda could hardly believe her ears when she saw Marjorie actually take off her sweater and start to unfasten her dress. Then she clapped her hands with delight; she was not so uncivilized as to lack the feminine characteristic of love of pretty clothing.
The change was effected quickly, and the girls walked out together and back to Miss Allen's where Marjorie changed the dress; and then to the lake. Marjorie tried to talk naturally, but, only receiving monosyllables as replies, finally gave up. Untying the canoe, and taking the paddle from the bottom, she bade Frieda get in, and pushed off.
"Ain't it locked?" asked Frieda in astonishment.
"No, everybody here is honest. And people from outside the school don't know about it."
They drifted on, Marjorie glancing now and then at her companion, who sat back lazily—in fact, almost contentedly—watching the sky and the water, and listening to the rhythmic dip of the paddle. A wave of great happiness surged over Marjorie; she felt that she had progressed farther than she would have dreamed possible, after the previous day's experience.
"Frieda, will you come to our Japanese party on Friday evening, if I give you a ticket?" asked Marjorie, as she left the girl at Mrs. Johnson's.
"Maybe. What's it going to be like?"
Marjorie explained the plans, but she saw that they conveyed little meaning to the country girl. Nevertheless, she resolved to send her a ticket.
It happened that Friday night, which was the last of September, was clear and mild; the stars twinkled brightly over the pretty scene at the edge of the lake. Japanese lanterns were strung all about the trees, and the tables, containing refreshments, were decorated with gay autumn flowers. Robed in Japanese kimonas, with long, Oriental pins in their hair, the girls flitted about from place to place, welcoming their guests and serving the dainty food. Out on the lake, where Marjorie was drifting in her canoe, a victrola was playing soft music.
"The boat reminds one of Venice," observed Miss Allen, who was one of the first to arrive. "I believe I'd enjoy a ride!"
Lily, to whom the remark was directed, whistled softly to her room-mate. Instantly, the girl turned around, and made for the shore.
"Venice or Japan, whichever you like, Miss Allen," laughed Lily, "just so long as we make the money—for the cause is a good one, you know."
Teachers, girls from the school, people from the village,—a larger crowd than the Scouts had dared to hope for—continued to arrive. Charmed by the novel idea, they bought lavishly; and few escaped without first visiting the fortune-telling booth presided over by Miss Phillips, or taking a ride in one of the row-boats, or in Marjorie's canoe.
All the while, however, Marjorie watched anxiously for the appearance of Frieda. Would the girl disappoint her? Marjorie had been so busy during the week that she had not been able to go to see her, but Mrs. Johnson had told Miss Phillips that Frieda had gone regularly to school, and that her teacher reported progress.
Towards nine o'clock, however, just as Marjorie was landing her canoe with two of the teachers who had been for a ride, she caught sight of a familiar pink dress.
Ruth, who had joined their group in order to serve the guests with ice-cream, also noticed the newcomer.
"I wonder who that is!" remarked Ruth, vainly attempting to identify the girl in the dim light. "She's all dolled up, too!"
A smile spread over Marjorie's face, and she waved her hand in welcome. Frieda advanced slowly, as if she were not sure that she desired to join the group. When she was within half a dozen steps of them, Ruth recognized her.
"Frieda Hammer!" announced Ruth, in a stage whisper that was perfectly audible to the girl herself. Then, turning to the others, and laughing, she added, "Hold on to your jewelry! Nothing's safe——"
"Sh!" cautioned Marjorie, in the deepest distress. "Do be careful, Ruth. She'll hear you!"
But the girl had evidently overheard the remark, for a hard look came into her eyes. She grit her teeth fiercely, but said nothing; then, turning swiftly around, she disappeared among the trees.
The older women, sensing a scene, sauntered away; but Ruth stood where she was, smiling defiantly. Marjorie might have cried, had she not been so angry.
"It's all your fault!" she exclaimed; "Frieda was just getting friendly, and here you had to spoil it! Just the way you spoil everything I try to do!"
"Calm yourself, Marj!" remarked Ruth, with a superior air. "She can't feel things like we do! Besides, she is a thief, so why not call her one?"
"Would you like to have all your sins thrown in your face?" retorted Marjorie. "And you know——"
"May I have a canoe ride?" said a pleasant voice behind them, and the girls turned around to see Mrs. Johnson, with her husband, standing near them.
"Certainly," murmured Marjorie, ashamed of her loss of temper, and hoping that the others had not heard the angry words. Ruth turned away, and Marjorie once more paddled out on the lake. But the evening was spoiled for her.
For Frieda Hammer had again been antagonized!
THE HOCKEY TEAM
Lily Andrews, entering the room, found it necessary to speak twice before she aroused the attention of her room-mate, who was seated on her couch, idly fingering the geometry book she was supposed to be studying, and looking into space. Lily could not remember when she had seen her look so dejected. But she had a piece of news that she thought would bring a smile to Marjorie's lips.
"Miss Phillips wants you!"
"She does! What for?" This, eagerly.
"Oh, I don't know—hockey, or something, I guess!"
The look of happiness died from Marjorie's face. She seemed tremendously disappointed. Lily looked at her questioningly; heretofore, the girl had always been delighted to be summoned by her favorite teacher, for no matter what purpose.
"What's the matter, Marj?"
"Nothing; only I hoped that maybe it had something to do with Scouts."
"Well—with Frieda, then!" This explanation was given rather grudgingly, and with a greater degree of impatience than she was wont to use with Lily.
"Didn't you tell me you hoped she'd come to the Japanese fete, Marj?" pursued the other.
"Yes; and she did come!"
"But I didn't see her!"
"Well, then you missed her, that's all." Marjorie arose from her seat, as if to end a very distasteful conversation.
But Lily was not through.
"Marj, is it true that you gave her your pink dress?"
"Yes, it is."
"Oh, I'm so glad!" cried Lily, in the most relieved tone. "Ruth saw Frieda wearing it—and your sweater besides—and she said Frieda stole it!"
"And you believed that!" Marjorie's eyes flashed in anger. "Oh, Lil, how could you?"
"Well, you didn't tell me; and you know she did steal before. So Ruth thought probably——"
"Ruth Henry makes me sick!" exclaimed Marjorie, now tried to the utmost. "And I'll bet she got you to pump me——"
"No, not exactly," replied Lily, a little ashamed of her questions; "but we were both curious to know."
Marjorie shook her head with disgust, and resolved to say nothing further.
"Where is Miss Phillips?" she asked.
"In her office."
Without another word, she left the room, and went straight to the gymnasium.
"Good afternoon!" said Miss Phillips, pleasantly, as Marjorie entered the little office; "sit down here. I want to talk about the hockey squad."
"Yes, of course," murmured Marjorie, making a great effort to collect her thoughts and show an interest in the conversation.
"And I consulted you first," continued Miss Phillips, "because you have been at practice most faithfully, and played the best of anyone since the beginning of the term."
The compliment, which should have brought happiness to the girl, only touched her lightly; she hardly acknowledged it with a weak smile. Picking up a pencil, she ran the thick end along the edge of the desk, as if she were giving the teacher only a small part of her attention. Miss Phillips noticed and was annoyed, but she said nothing. She realized that even the loveliest characters experience perverse moods.
"I have decided on yourself, Ruth Henry, Ethel Todd, Frances Wright, and Mae VanHorn for forwards; Edith Evans and Marian Guard for two of the half-backs, and Lily Andrews for goal. That leaves one half-back and two full-backs yet to be chosen, and I think we ought to have about five substitutes. Now whom do you suggest? Let's think of each class in turn."
Marjorie concentrated her attention upon the matter at hand, and thought hard.
"Is Helen Stewart's ankle all right by now?" she asked. The latter, who was to have been the heroine in the play at the last Commencement, had sprained her ankle the day that the Scouts had entertained a group of settlement children, and had been obliged to give up athletics for a while. Apparently, however, she was all right now.
"Yes; but it isn't very strong. Suppose we put her as one of the substitutes?"
"All right," agreed Marjorie.
"And there's nobody else in the senior class."
"Nor in the junior. Ada Mearns could play well, if she would only try, but she won't bother. Now what do you think about your own class?"
"Could Doris Sands possibly——?"
"Marjorie!" reproved Miss Phillips. "You're letting your personal feelings enter into the consideration. Doris Sands is very sweet and very capable, but—she's no hockey player!"
"That's true," admitted Marjorie. "Well, how about Evelyn Hopkins? She never seems to get anything."
But again the teacher shook her head. "Evelyn doesn't go about things right," she answered. "Individually, she's a good player, but she's miserable in team work. Evelyn plays selfishly."
Marjorie smiled; Miss Phillips seemed to sum up the girl's character correctly.
"Of course, Mae's new; do you think she will make good, Captain?"
"There's no doubt about it," replied Miss Phillips positively; "making the sorority last year was bad for Mae VanHorn, but losing out on the Scout troop was a good thing. All of her best friends are Scouts, and she certainly has buckled down to work well. The other teachers tell me she is getting along beautifully thus far in her lessons."
"We can never get seven girls out of the freshman class!" remarked Marjorie, skeptically.
"Then we'll just appoint the best ones for the regular positions, and trust to luck for substitutes till we have a regular game. It's all we can do!"
"Well, Edith Evans' sister Florence can play almost any position," said Marjorie. "She surely is a dandy girl; I think she'll be another like Edith."
"Let's put her in for full-back; that's a mighty important position," suggested Miss Phillips. "And what do you think of Alice Endicott? She's certainly worked hard!"
Marjorie's eyes brightened; she wanted that little homesick girl, whom she had been pleased to call "her freshman," to win out. A shadow crossed her face as she thought how she had neglected her lately, while all her thoughts were centered on Frieda Hammer. And Alice appreciated every little attention so much, while Frieda was so ungrateful.
"I'm so glad you think so," she said enthusiastically; "I have watched her, too, and I think she could hold her own as half-back."
"Oh, that reminds me," exclaimed Miss Phillips, "I think Daisy Gravers could play full-back."
The team was complete.
It became apparent that Marjorie was anxious to dismiss the subject, for she rose to go.
"But we have only one substitute," remarked Miss Phillips.
Marjorie paused a moment before she replied. Then,
"What would you think of Barbara Hill?"
"Good—but erratic. Yes, she'd do for a sub forward. All right, then, I'll notify the girls, and call a meeting to elect a captain. We must beat Miss Martin's this year!"
Marjorie flushed at the recollection of the previous year's game, which, she had always considered, she had lost for her school.
"Let's make everybody go into training this year!" she said, prompted by the recollection.
"All right!" agreed Miss Phillips. Then, abruptly changing the subject, she looked straight into Marjorie's eyes, and asked softly,
"What's the matter, Marjorie?"
The girl colored again under her scrutiny. But there was no use in attempting to hide anything from the Captain.
"Oh, just about Frieda! I'm discouraged."
Miss Phillips rose, and laid her hand upon her shoulder.
"Don't worry, dear; it will be all right in the end. But it is a long process. Anyhow, I have kept in close touch with Frieda's public school teachers, and they say that she is attending to her work, and making good headway. She even stays after school for extra instruction. And you know, Marjorie, there is nothing—except perhaps religion—that can change a person like education."
The Captain's cheerful words encouraged Marjorie.
"We did make a good deal on the Japanese fete, didn't we?" she asked.
"Over a hundred dollars! And the returns aren't all in yet."
"Well, I will try to be patient," said Marjorie, walking toward the door of the office. Then, turning around, she added,
"Miss Phillips, couldn't you urge all the Scouts to adopt a friendly attitude toward Frieda? We'll never get anywhere till they do!"
"I didn't know they hadn't!" replied Miss Phillips; "but I will deliver a gentle lecture at next Scout meeting if you think there is any doubt."
Marjorie flashed her grateful look, and was gone. Temporarily, she felt cheered and relieved, but she knew that the feeling would not last. Deep in her subconscious mind, she sensed dangerous rocks ahead, and probably treacherous waters to go through, before Frieda would be safe—morally safe—as she and Lily and all her friends, were safe.
But she would be brave; she would not cross her bridges before she came to them!
THE LOST CANOE
It was in October that the hockey squad was announced, and a meeting held. The list of names which Miss Phillips posted upon the bulletin-board was examined with breathless interest by every girl in the school; for there would be no new Scouts chosen from among those who had not already qualified in hockey.
Except among the fortunate few, a great feeling of disappointment prevailed all over the school. Girls who knew that their report marks would be high, and who had looked eagerly forward to becoming Girl Scouts of Pansy troop, were sick with despair at falling short of the coveted goal.
For the same reason, however, the few new girls who had made the team appreciated the honor all the more. It meant a great deal to Mae VanHorn, who had lost out the previous year, and who cared more for Marjorie and Frances and Ethel, than any of the other girls in the school. It brought a feeling of pride to Barbara Hill, who admired Ruth so ardently. But perhaps it carried the greatest happiness of all to the three freshmen who were chosen—Florence Evans, Alice Endicott, and Daisy Gravers. If their marks would only permit them to become Girl Scouts!
For the past week Marjorie had been happy. With an easy majority, she had been elected captain of the team, and the position and the popularity pleased her. Then, too, she spent much of her time with Alice Endicott, who simply bubbled over with joyousness all the time, so that it would have required real trouble to allow anyone to be sad in her presence. And Frieda, although she had never gone so far again in accepting Marjorie's friendship as she had on that first Sunday afternoon, was at least civil. She treated Mrs. Johnson with a fair degree of courtesy, but she seemed to distrust the Scouts, and avoided them on every occasion. At one time Pansy troop had invited her to go with them on a hike, but she had refused in a formal little note, written in an uneven hand, and evidently dictated by her teacher.
"It must have been that insulting remark of Ruth's, the night of the fete!" Marjorie assured herself, over and over. "Except for that, we'd probably be good friends by now!"
Then she would remind herself that Frieda really was progressing, that the troop was doing its part, and that there was actually no cause to worry.
On one afternoon that was warm and beautiful, and for which there was no hockey practice scheduled, she was debating in her mind what to do, when Lily threw open the door.
"Marj!" she exclaimed, "inside, on a day like this!"
"Oh, I'm going out," her room-mate replied slowly. "Only I can't decide where. What are you going to do?"
"Play tennis with Doris."
She watched Lily put on her bloomers, which the girls were allowed to wear on their own courts, and her sneakers, still undecided as to her course of action.
"Want to play, too?" invited Lily. "Why not get Ruth, and we'll make it doubles?"
Marjorie wrinkled her nose; in her own mind she still harbored resentment against Ruth, and the idea of her company was rather distasteful.
"No—thanks! I don't want to do anything very strenuous."
A knock sounded at their door, and in answer to Lily's cheery, "Come!" Alice Endicott entered.
"If I bother you people too much, just put me out!" she announced gaily. "I simply must have company!"
"Not homesick?" asked Marjorie.
"No, indeed! Only I want to go for a walk, or do something; and your society's so infinitely more pleasant than my own——"
"I'll tell you what I'll do," interrupted Marjorie. "Let's go canoeing!"
Alice clapped her hands with delight. She had never been out in Marjorie's canoe since the day when their friendship had really started, and she longed to be invited again.