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   Chapter 5 THE SOCIAL SIX

Glenloch Girls By Grace May Remick Characters: 14634

Updated: 2017-11-29 00:03


It was about time for news of the steamer's arrival to reach Ruth, and in spite of her many new experiences the thought of her father was always uppermost in her mind. The morning and evening newspapers meant to her simply the shipping news, and, several days before the steamer could possibly arrive, she began her daily study of the shipping lists. Eight days had seemed long to wait for news of one's best-beloved chum, but Ruth had to confess that the time had been filled so full that it had passed quickly. Starting in school had not been so great an ordeal as she had expected. To her joy she was to be allowed to see what she could do in the class with Betty and Charlotte, and she was determined to succeed, though she knew it meant harder work than she had ever done in her life.

The Glenloch Academy was the pride of Glenloch and the envy of the surrounding towns. The money for its establishment and maintenance had been left the town by a public-spirited citizen, and the fund had been so generous that the best in the way of teachers and equipaient had been made possible. It took the place of a high school in its methods of study, gave a thorough preparation for college, and offered six years of the most liberal training to those whose school education must of necessity stop there. Ruth felt an interest at once in her new teachers, was charmed with the idea of doing regular gymnasium work in the fine gymnasium which had lately been added to the school, and altogether felt that her lines had fallen in pleasant places.

"Don't be in such a rush," called Dorothy, as Ruth ran down the school steps. "I want to talk to you."

"I'm in a hurry every day now," confessed Ruth, "to get home and see if I have any news from papa. Mr. Hamilton thinks that by to-night surely the ship's arrival will be cabled, and I have a faint hope that I may have a cablegram from papa almost any minute."

"I'll walk around your way," said Dorothy. "Doesn't it make you feel terribly important to be expecting a cablegram?"

"Why, I don't know," laughed Ruth, "perhaps it does, a little.

It's been such a long time to wait to hear that papa is safe that

I can't think of anything else."

As she finished speaking a long, low call made them both turn to see Charlotte and Betty running after them.

"What are you going to do this afternoon, Ruth?" called Charlotte as they got within speaking distance. "We want you to go to walk with the 'Social Six.'"

Dorothy raised her eyebrows questioningly, and Ruth asked curiously,

"The Social Six? Who under the sun are the Social Six?"

"It's all right, Dolly," said Betty reassuringly. "You see," she added, turning to Ruth, "we couldn't tell you about them at first, because we had all agreed never to have more than six in the club and our number was full. But just to-day one of the girls has told us that she is going to resign at this meeting, so we want you to join right away if you will." "Why, of course I will," said Ruth, with perfect faith that whatever the three wanted her to do would be worth doing. "But what is the club for and what do you do?"

"It's a walking club in spring and fall," answered Betty.

"And a skating club when we have ice," added Dorothy. "That's the best part of it all, for we have bonfires on the edge of the pond, and go to some house for supper when we get through skating."

"Well, it all sounds lovely, and I shall be delighted to join.

What time do you start?" asked Ruth.

"At two sharp, and we are to meet at the schoolhouse," answered Charlotte. "Miss Burton is going with us this afternoon, and she's to be made an honorary member of the club." "All right. I'll be there," said Ruth, as the girls left her at Mr. Hamilton's door.

Once in the house she looked first to see if there were letters or the much-desired cablegram, and finding nothing ran up-stairs to get ready for lunch. The house was strangely still, and she missed Mrs. Hamilton's cordial welcome, which she had found vastly comforting in these first days of feeling so much alone.

On her desk was a note which she hastened to open.

"MY DEAR RUTH" (it began):

"I am sorry you will find neither a cablegram nor me writing for you this noon. Mr. Hamilton has telephoned me that friends of ours are in town who will not have time to come out to us. So we are all to dine together in Boston to-night. I am sorry that you will have two lonely meals, and hope some of the girls will dine with you. Invite them for me, and forgive me for leaving you in such unexpected solitude.

"Yours lovingly,

"AUNT MARY."

"How sweet of her to sign herself that way," thought Ruth, as she folded the note. "I do miss her, and I'm glad there's something pleasant ahead for this afternoon."

The Social Six to a girl were prompt at the meeting-place, and as Miss Burton appeared just as the clock was striking two, the expedition started with no delay. "It's a perfect day for Bear Hill," said Dorothy enthusiastically, as she led the way with Miss Burton, and unconsciously tried to imitate her swinging gait. Since Miss Burton had taken charge of the gymnasium, Dorothy, who was always to the fore in out-of-door life, had been more than ever devoted to everything pertaining to physical culture.

"See Dolly walk," said Charlotte, who was ambling along in the extreme rear; "she walks as though she positively enjoyed the mere motion of it, while I am so lazy that I shouldn't even belong to the club if it weren't for being with the girls, and for the fun we have at our parties."

As they crossed the railroad and entered the narrow wood-path on the other side, the girls fell into single file and walked on steadily, talking gaily. It was one of those brilliant October days when all the warmth of the fleeting summer is in the air; when the sky is a radiant blue, and the red and gold of the foliage casts a glory over the sombre woods.

Ruth was enchanted. "I've never seen anything so beautiful," she said breathlessly, as, after a long walk through the winding, shaded path, they came out into the open, and almost at the top of the hill.

"Wait till you get to the tip-top," said Dorothy, her eyes sparkling from the exercise. "Can you stand it to climb for five minutes more?"

"Of course," answered Ruth stoutly, "though I'm not sorry that we're almost there," she added in a low tone to Katharine French who, with Alice Stevens and Louise Cobb, made up the membership of the club.

The climb of the last five minutes was harder than ail the rest, and Ruth groaned as she sank on the ground at the very top. "My Chicago training hasn't prepared me for this," she said plaintively. "You'll have to take me in hand, Miss Burton, and help me to get my muscles in condition."

"Don't sit too long on the ground now," laughed Miss Burton, "or we shall have to carry you home."

"Miss Burton, would you and Ruth mind going over behind that big rock for a few minutes?" asked Dorothy. "The club always has its business meeting the first thing, and as we are to admit a new member it will take longer than usual."

Over behind the big rock proved to be a very agreeable place to sit, for the girls had covered some smaller rocks with pine boughs and a golf cape, and the view of the surrounding co

untry was glorious.

"Rather different from Chicago, isn't it, Ruth?" asked Miss Burton.

"I'm a Western girl myself, and I taught in Chicago for ayear, so

I know how this must seem to you."

"Are you really a Western girl?" cried Ruth interested at once. "Then you won't mind if I talk Chicago to you once in a while, will you? This is quite the most beautiful place I've ever lived in, but," she added honestly, "I'm dreadfully homesick for Chicago sometimes, and I don't like to confess it because they are all so lovely to me."

"Come and talk to me when you feel like that," said Miss Burton, with one of her radiant smiles; "it will do us both good."

"I'd love to," said Ruth fervently, "and--"

She was interrupted by a call from the girls, and with Miss Burton hastened to join the others, only to stop short in amazement as they rounded the rock against which they had been sitting. The girls had worked fast and with no noise, and it was so undeniably a gypsy camp into which Ruth had walked that she could hardly believe her eyes. A small fire was built on some rocks, and over it hung in the crotch of a branch an odd-looking kettle. Three of the girls had unbraided their hair and made themselves gay with artificial flowers, bright ribbons and brilliant scarfs. Alice Stevens, who was dark enough to look really like a gypsy, was reading Louise Cobb's hand, while Betty looked on and occasionally stirred an imaginary something in the kettle. Charlotte, Dorothy and Katharine French, who were all tall and preferred masculine parts, sat on the other side of the fire dressed in colored paper caps, and bright sashes draped over one shoulder.

Miss Burton broke the silence by clapping her hands. "It's fine, girls," she cried with enthusiasm. "I didn't know we were to see anything really artistic."

"We only do this when we admit a new member," said Betty.

"And not then unless the weather happens to be just right," added

Dorothy. "But we must hurry and make Ruth a member. Go on, Betty."

"Kneel here, Ruth," said Betty, who was presiding officer for the day. Then looking as solemn as her dimples and twinkling eyes would permit, she added, "Being about to lose a well-beloved member of our club," here ail looked at Louise Cobb, "we are at liberty to admit another. Do you desire to become a member of this club?"

"I do," answered Ruth, much impressed.

"Do you promise to further our interests in all possible ways and to keep our secrets?"

"I do."

"Then I pronounce you a fully initiated member," said Betty, striking her on the shoulder with a twig tipped with scarlet leaves. "We really haven't any secrets," she added unofficially, "except that we don't want the other boys and girls to know where we go or that we dress up like this. We don't make our honorary members promise anything, but we know Miss Burton won't tell."

"Of course not," said Miss Burton. "I feel too much honored to be admitted to the club to betray their secrets."

"Now, Ruth," continued Betty, "the next thing is that the new member must do something; sing or dance or tell a story."

"Oh!" gasped Ruth. "I'll resign at once. Imagine me singing or dancing when I'm so tired I can hardly move; and as for story-telling, I simply can't."

"Perhaps you'd rather recite a poem," said Charlotte.

"May I have it as short as I please?" asked Ruth as if an idea had struck her, and as Betty nodded assent, she added, "Give me five minutes by myself and I'll do it."

The girls chatted while Ruth went just out of hearing and communed with herself.

"Time's up, Ruth," called Dorothy.

"All right," answered Ruth, walking into the circle and sitting down, while she met the expectant eyes with a roguish twinkle in her own. Then she recited:

"There was a young girl from the West,

Who very much needed a rest.

When asked, 'Can you sing?'

She replied, 'Not a thing:'

And felt very sadly depressed."

Ruth suited her expression to her last words in so comical a fashion that the girls shouted with laughter.

"However did you do it, Ruth?" asked Betty. "I couldn't make a rhyme to save me."

"Oh, father and I got into the habit of making up those five-liners, and I often do it just for fun."

"We're proud to have such a poetess in the Social Six," said

Charlotte, making her a sweeping bow with her hand on her heart.

"Miss Burton, we don't insist that our honorary member shall perform, but we'd like it if you would," said Betty.

Miss Burton smiled good-naturedly. "I would tell you a story, only I am afraid our Western member would be too stiff to move if she sat through it. How would you like to postpone my part of the program until after school some day, and then come and have a cup of chocolate with me?"

"Oh, lovely!" cried Dorothy, always ready for anything that Miss

Burton proposed.

As she spoke a sound as of some one sliding came from behind the big rock, and then a low but unmistakable chuckle.

"It's some of those horrid boys," said Dorothy tragically.

The girls tore off caps and sashes, but before they could wholly divest themselves of their gypsy appearance two heads peered around the rock and a pleading voice said, "Please, may we come in?"

"Indeed you may not," cried Dorothy, quite white with anger. "I think you're the meanest boy I ever saw, Frank Marshall, and you're not one bit better, Bert. Between you, you always spoil all my good times. I think it's the most despicable thing to spy on people, and--"

There was such a sudden stillness about her that Dorothy became conscious of Miss Burton's troubled expression and Ruth's surprised face.

"Well, I don't care; it was a mean trick," she muttered as she turned her back on the boys and walked away.

"Honestly, girls, we didn't mean to make you mad," said Frank as his sister finished. "We came up for a walk and didn't know any one was here till we saw the smoke from your fire. We came over to find out about that, and heard the young lady from the West recite her poem. We should have gone off without letting you know if Bert hadn't slipped on the rock."

"Of course," added Bert with an extremely virtuous air, "if we had guessed that this was the famous club we should have put our fingers in our ears and have run away."

"You sinner," said Betty, who couldn't help laughing, "you know you have tried ever since we have had the club to make me tell you about it."

"I propose," said Miss Burton, "that we put the boys on their honor not to tell what they have seen and heard."

"Second the motion," said Charlotte with great promptness. "We have them there, for boys never tell when they're on honor."

"Good for you, Charlotte," said Frank gratefully. "We'll promise, won't we, Bert?"

"Of course," agreed Bert. "And, girls," he continued, "we've got some potatoes roasting in the ashes near here that'll be just the thing to brace you up for the walk home. Come along and help us eat 'em."

"I should say we would," accepted Charlotte. "Did you ever know us to refuse anything to eat?"

The little feast and the walk home became the jolliest things possible. Tired as she was, no one was merrier than Ruth. for in her inmost heart she was sure that she should find news of her father waiting for her.

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