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- Jane Allen: Junior - 6/37 -
"Yes, I broke it and I'm glad of it! Now what are you going to do about it?" Two hands not really pretty, dug deep into the satin skirt pockets, and Shirley Duncan towered over Jane Allen defiantly.
"What am I going to do about it?" repeated Jane. But the irony was lost on her companion. "You did not ask to see me just to be offensive?" parried Jane.
"No indeed, I wanted to remind you I am in this college because your father gave a scholarship, and I suppose that would mean you might be nice to me at least."
"I'm sure I want to be," Jane quickly toned down. "But no girl can make friends with another when she insists on quarreling. I am willing to pay for the broken mirror--"
"You don't need to trouble yourself; if it is to be paid for I'll do it myself. My folks wouldn't let me--sponge on anybody."
"Sponge," repeated Jane, frowning with something like disgust. "Please don't use such horrible slang."
"Oh my! I suppose a scholarship girl must be a mouse or a kitten. Well, when I took it I understood no one in Wellington was to know about it and that the scholarship girl had equal rights with every other girl."
"So she has and no one here does know who wins the scholarship." Somehow Jane stumbled over the word. It was fraught with terror in the hands of this impossible creature.
"Well, I don't believe it" (no regard for Jane's veracity), "but I'll hold on awhile and see." (Condescending, thought Jane.) "My folks always wanted me to go to college and I just came to satisfy them. I don't give a snap for all the high brow stuff and I might as well tell you I am nearly dead with homesickness." (She didn't look it, Jane observed.) "But I'm no quitter, so I intend to stick. Now let's get back to the girl who hit me. Can you make her apologize?"
"No," said Jane flatly, "and what's more I have no intention of trying to. You brought trouble on yourself by going into Dozia's room without being invited. You should know that the younger girls, the freshmen, are not supposed to take such privileges. Then when you annoyed my friend" (Jane almost kissed the word) "she told you outright she was busy and did not want to be bothered. Next thing, you deliberately sat under her stepladder. Do you like to get in the open path of tack hammers?"
"Love to," sneered Shirley. "And I'm crazy about playing ball with them when mirrors are up for back stops. All right, go ahead, as far as you like. I believe now what I heard about the Jane Alien crowd. A lot of goody goodies, too stuck up to bother with country girls." Jane jumped from her seat and gasped at an interruption but did not succeed in sustaining it. "But I've got friends around here who know the ropes. They are not freshies either, so don't bother about me, Miss Allen. I'll see about the looking-glass and the girl who hit me with her hammer."
Jane let her go, was actually glad to see the last of the satin skirt as it swished out into the winding path, nor did she immediately follow it. Instead she sat there, tearing little red rose hips from the tenacious vines and tossing them away regardless of their artistic value as decorative winter berries.
"Tragic," she muttered, "positively tragic. And that is what my darling dad wasted a perfectly good scholarship on." Thoughts of "dad" mercifully intervened and saved the girl's temper further violence. "But what puzzles me is how that girl ever won the scholarship?" Jane silently questioned, and in that unspoken sentence she unconsciously shaped the key to fit the mystery.
How did this girl win the scholarship? For some moments longer Jane sat there. She went over again the incident of Dozia's tack hammer. That she could depend absolutely on Dozia, and knew this strange girl had done more than sit in the path of the showering tack hammer was irrefutable.
"Dozia was a little bit reckless of course," admitted the mentor, "and she did seem to coddle the fact that her hammer fell on Shirley's head. I recall she even said she was glad it hit her and hoped the blow would send the freshie home to her 'maw.'"
Jane wanted to laugh but she refrained. There was a strange proctor in office this year to be considered. If dear old Miss Weatherbee were still in charge it might be much easier to explain the accident.
"And that girl defied me with a threat of friends! She has friends who are not in the freshman ranks? I remember she said that. Who can they be? My enemies naturally," decided Jane.
How these enemies would fill that foolish head with nonsense, and how far they might urge her on to mischief if not to actual danger, Jane Allen did not venture to estimate.
"But Dozia tried first shot to send her home to her 'maw!'"
The humor of the situation now struck Jane like a blow on the funny bone, and she burst out laughing in the very face of the thorny rose bush.
"After all it is too delicious!" she told herself. "And even if she is my dad's scholarship girl there's a heap of fun in the ridiculous situation. I'll find Judy and tell her the whole thing. Too good to keep; too funny to spoil," and the blue serge skirt that fanned the boxwood a moment later never swished a swish. Jane did not give it tune to do so.
JANE AND JUDITH
Oh, do tell me, Janie. I was watching behind the big elm the whole time. Couldn't hear a word of course, but I could have seen any attempt at violence. That girl, I tell you, is no ordinary 'critter.' I fully expected she would draw something from that broad satin belt. But do tell? What was it all about?"
"Thank you for the chance, Judy, I was just wondering when you would take breath. It is funny--so funny I am laughing all over," and the gray eyes sent out sparks of mirth, as a senior might have put it.
"Isn't it!" howled Judith, pegging a pillow at Jane's head to keep the fun a-going or the "pot a-boiling" as you will.
"I don't know where to begin Judy. At first I was sort of awe- stricken. Considering the handicaps poor Shirley has loaded herself up with----"
"Including the name. Have you analyzed that?"
"Yes, love, I have. Some maiden aunt with a paper covered library must have inflicted her with that. It doesn't suit at all, although she seems very proud of it."
"And no chance of her growing into it either. Like a chauffeur named Claude or Clarence. Her last name now would be much snappier for her. Duncan makes a topping Dunny," suggested Judith.
"But the girl would never believe that," sighed Jane. "She asked me to call her Shirley and I tried to; now, Judith, listen. Here are a few difficult facts. Shirley Duncan is bound to fight. She has been brought up in the school of affectionate antagonism, and with her it is a case of getting the best of everyone and everything. I did not say getting the better, I mean best."
"I savvy, as our old friend cow-boy Pedro would say. Have you heard from home lately, Dinks?"
"Yes, Judith. All well and lonely. But please concentrate. This matter is serious. Shirley threatened me with friends--says she has friends here who are not freshies. Can you guess who they may be?"
"Never saw a girl speak to her a second time unless she, Shirley, stepped on the other's toes or knocked her hat off. Then the conversation was naturally brief and snappy. It happened to Mabel."
"I can't imagine whom she means, but they are somewhere ready to pounce on us, so let us beware. Next point is: she seems to have money: offered to pay for the broken mirror. In fact she sort of lorded it over me."
"Dozia should strike for a new vanity dresser. One with three side glasses big enough to reflect her wonderful, long flowing locks. A rare chance for Dozia."
"But how could a girl coming in on scholarship have money to squander?" reflected Jane.
"That maiden aunt with the paper covered novels would love good looking-glasses. It might be the salvation of this Shirley girl, if she did have access to a true mirror."
Judith snapped the top on her fountain pen and slammed shut her note-book. Indifferent work was worse than none, she seemed to have decided.
"Had you finished your Lat? Isn't it awful to have to work off a condition? Please don't let me bother you ever, Jude, when you have that task on hand," said Jane seriously.
"I have and it is, if you kept your two questions properly tabulated. You see I am straining for mental stuff. I want to improve the old condition of forgetfulness. That was what knocked friend Virgil, or was it Cicero? I loved the stories and forgot the period. But I am finished for this evening, dear, and you know we have some initiation stunts to take part in. I am glad they are so simple. It seems to me each year the nonsense gets more rational."
"It really does, and I think, as you do, that shows progress. We can all enjoy better fun than that of afflicting the innocent. Of course we still have to have some ceremony or the young 'uns wouldn't think they were really in college. I just wonder how it will strike our rebel Shirley?"
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