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   Chapter 18 THOSE RIDICULOUS BOYS

Glenloch Girls By Grace May Remick Characters: 22094

Updated: 2017-11-29 00:03


"It's terribly romantic," said Ruth with a satisfied sigh. "She didn't know he cared anything about her, and he thought she couldn't care for him because she went away from Chicago without letting him know or leaving him her address."

"And they're really engaged?" asked Betty for the third time. "I can't believe it."

It was a warm afternoon in May, and all the girls were out in Mrs. Hamilton's garden drying their hair after a shampoo. To the surprise of every one the spring had made good its early promises, and buds and blossoms had hurried forth with quivering eagerness. The soft breeze which rustled the leaves and played caressingly with the floating locks was as mild as in summer, and the girls felt that pleasant languor which comes with the first warm days.

"Yes, really engaged. Uncle Jerry wanted to settle it when he first found her here in Glenloch, but she made him wait until he came the second time," answered Ruth shaking her hair to the breeze which curled it into tendrils. "I've been simply bursting to tell you ever since the entertainment, but I had to wait until Miss Burton said I might."

"I think it's funny you didn't guess. I felt it in my bones from the first minute I saw him," said Dorothy. "And I was perfectly sure of it when I saw him tell you, Ruth."

"Why, Dolly, you're a witch! And you never said a word to any one?" asked Ruth incredulously.

"No. I didn't think Miss Burton would want me to. And I'm so jealous of you that I can't see straight, because, of course, she'll have to like you best," finished Dorothy with a mournful sigh.

"She'll think you're a trump when I tell her that you truly guessed and never said a word," comforted Ruth. "The only other thing I can do is to offer you a share in Uncle Jerry."

"You'll have to divide him in small pieces if you're going to share him," said Charlotte. "Did you ever see anything like the way the boys took to him?"

"Between the two clubs he had small chance to be alone with Miss

Burton that week he was here," laughed Betty.

"He was a dear to take us all to Boston and give us such a dandy time," murmured Charlotte.

"What a week we had," said Alice, pulling her black locks apart to get out the snarls. "Can't you just see Marie's face when we gave her that two hundred dollars?"

"She's so happy now," added Ruth, "and she's getting better every day. Arthur and I rode by there yesterday, and she was out helping her aunt make a garden."

"Isn't your hair most dry, girls?" asked Dorothy, with a sudden change of subject. "Let's hurry and put it up any old way, and then have some tennis."

There was a simultaneous groan from Katharine and Charlotte.

"I didn't expect anything of you two lazy things," said Dorothy coolly. "I'm glad you don't want to, for that leaves just the four of us without any fuss about deciding."

"I'd like to play," said Ruth, tugging at her refractory curls, "only you'll have to wait till I do my hair properly, and take this mess of towels into the house."

"Oh, Ruth, if I didn't like you so much I should say you were pernickety," cried Dorothy impatiently.

"I suppose I am fussy," confessed Ruth. "But mother was always very particular about having me keep my own things in order, and especially about leaving other people's belongings the way I found them, and I can't get over the habit."

"For goodness' sake, you sound as if you thought it was a crime," said Charlotte. "I only wish I had a few such bad habits as that."

"I'm a shining example for you, Charlotte," laughed Betty, "for I cleared up my top bureau drawer to-day."

"You're a shining example for me in more ways than one, Betsy," answered Charlotte with such unexpected earnestness that rosy Betty grew rosier than ever.

For a few minutes the girls worked busily, and the hair, black, brown, shining gold and burnished copper, was soon adorning the heads of its owners in the accustomed way. Ruth and Betty took in the towels and brought out racquets and balls. Charlotte and Katharine languidly changed their seats to where they could watch the court, and the other four began a vigorous game.

It was a long and hotly contested deuce set, and ended in favor of

Dorothy and Alice just as Katie appeared with tray and glasses.

"Ellen thought you'd like some lemonade, Miss Ruth. I'll bring it out directly."

Ellen's lemonade was a work of art; full of tantalizing and unexpected flavors of orange, mint and clove. The girls, who knew it of old, groaned with pleasure at sight of the frosty-looking pitcher with sprigs of mint at the top.

"This is richness," sighed Dorothy, as she settled herself on the big rug and took one of the fresh chocolate-frosted cakes that Katie had brought out.

"Ellen's the best old dear," said Ruth. "I never even have to ask for things."

"There's a letter on the tray," said Betty suddenly. "No, not a letter, because there's no stamp on it, but it's for you, Ruth."

Ruth picked it up and opened it. Then she laughed and held it out to the girls, reading aloud as she did so.

The Candle Club Presents its compliments to The Cooking Club And requests the pleasure of its company Saturday, May eighteenth, At half-after six

The Club Room

"My, but they're formal," said Dorothy. "Will you look at the elegance of 'half-after six'?"

"Jack did the invitations with his new typewriter, I suppose," said

Betty. "I wonder how many sheets of paper he spoiled."

"Of course we'll all go," said Charlotte, lazily pulling herself up from her seat on the ground. "It's perfectly lovely sitting here and drinking this delicious lemonade, and I hate to mention it, but I've got to get home, girls. Betty, you ought to walk 'round my way to-night; I went with you last night."

"Wait till I get the last drop out of my glass," gurgled Betty, pulling away at her straw with great diligence.

"We're all going," added Dorothy. "It's almost six anyway."

Ruth went with them to the front of the house and then back to the tennis ground to pick up racquets and balls. It was so cool and still and beautiful in the garden that she sat down on the rug again with her hands clasped around her knees. The old apple-tree covered with pink and white blossoms rustled softly overhead, a fat robin cocked his eye at her as he listened for worms, and from the other side of the garden came the faint, melodious tinkle of the little fountain.

Something flipped into the grass beside her and the robin flew away.

"It's just a penny," called a gay voice, "the one they're always offering for your thoughts, you know."

Ruth looked up as Arthur dropped down on the rug beside her. "They're worth so much more that I couldn't let you have them for a penny," she said with a laugh.

"Make it a spring bargain sale and give 'em to me at a great reduction," he suggested.

"They were perfectly good thoughts," answered Ruth. "I was just wondering how I happened to drop down in such a lovely place, and why every one is so nice to me, and thinking how I shall miss you all when father sends for me."

"Don't begin to think about that," protested Arthur quickly. "You know you came for a year, a whole year."

"I know," laughed Ruth. "I don't believe you were a bit pleased when you heard that I was coming for a whole year. I really think you've got used to me very nicely."

"It's astonishing how soon we get used to things that we know we must put up with," said Arthur with a sigh of resignation. "Oh, by the way, there's something I forgot to tell you," he added.

"What is it?" cried Ruth eagerly.

"You won't tell the other girls, will you?"

"Why no, if you really don't want me to."

Arthur looked thoughtful. "I wouldn't for a while, anyway," he said at last.

"I won't tell until you say I may," said Ruth with great decision.

"Well, then,-I was sent out here to ask you to come in to dinner," chuckled the graceless youth, picking himself up from the ground, and making off with surprising agility.

"Oh, you villain," groaned Ruth, throwing a tennis ball at him with such unexpectedly good aim that it hit him squarely in the back.

"Good shot! How did it happen? Oh, but you did bite nicely that time," and Arthur laughed again at her pretended rage.

"If you ever want to be forgiven, come back here and help me take in the racquets and balls," called Ruth, starting toward the house.

"Sure, I will," responded Arthur amiably. "Give me all the racquets and you can take the balls. I know," he continued a moment later, "why every one is so nice to you."

"Is this another sell?" demanded Ruth.

"No, this is truth. You'll find the answer in Mary's Little Lamb if you change the words a little. You look up the last verse and see if I'm not right."

Ruth looked thoughtfully at him as they entered the house, and then sternly repressing the pleased smile that flitted over her face said with assumed indifference:

"I hope that's a compliment, but how can you expect me to remember the rhymes of my childhood?"

The days went by so fast that Ruth could hardly keep the run of the calendar. They were full days, with hard work at school, delightful rides on Peter Pan with Arthur or his father to accompany her, and pleasant afternoons with the girls at one house or another. Then there were important letters from her father and Uncle Jerry which necessitated lengthy replies, and frequent conferences with Miss Burton and Mrs. Hamilton.

On the night of the Candle Club party the girls met first at Dorothy's house, and went out into the stable together. A large room on the second floor had been given up to the boys who had furnished and decorated it to suit their taste and their opportunities. An old piano, begged for by Frank when the Marshalls were buying a new one, stood under one of the electric lights and looked well-used. That it had outlived its most tuneful days was not to be denied, but Arthur could still coax college songs out of it, and for miscellaneous strumming and tunes with one finger it was invaluable. It was also a convenient place on which to leave sweaters, hats and books, and altogether the boys considered it one of the most valuable of their possessions.

The furniture of the club room could hardly be called ornamental, but it was certainly comfortable. A couple of steamer chairs, a roomy couch covered with bright cushions, and an ancient bookcase offered an impartial welcome to the lazy and the studious, and bore mute witness to the fact that many happy hours had been passed there. The boys had made the room gay with banners, and trophies of past victories, and red curtains and a few rugs added to the general cheerfulness.

Mr. and Mrs. Marshall went out to the stable with the girls, and as they went up the narrow stairs there was a shout of laughter from the club room, laughter so mirth-compelling that the girls giggled involuntarily. At Mr. Marshall's peremptory knock there was a sudden stillness; then the door opened a cr

ack and in a choked voice Arthur said, "Just hold the line a second, please, and we'll let you in."

Almost as he spoke there was a low, "all right now," from Joe, and Arthur threw the door wide open. For an instant the guests coming from the dark stairway into the brightly lighted room could hardly see; then as they took in the general appearance of their hosts the room rang with laughter.

The boys were all dressed in shirt-waists and skirts, with neat white collars and little bows of various kinds. The skirts came to the tops of their boots, and as they had donned the heaviest, biggest boots they could find, the result was amusing. They all wore frivolous little aprons, and on their heads jaunty white caps perched on hair which made the girls go off into fresh fits of merriment. It was the most wonderful hair-dressing the girls had ever seen; heavy braids, thick curls, even pompadours-and all made out of yarn.

"What happened that made you keep us waiting?" asked Ruth as she wiped real tears from her eyes.

"Betty fell over his skirt and had to fix it on again," said Phil with a twinkle, realizing that the girls hadn't yet taken in the full meaning of the performance.

Then it was the boys' turn to laugh, for, looking at Joe's red wig, the girls knew at once what Phil meant, and each hurried to pick out the imitation of herself.

"Do you mean to tell me I look like that?" asked Dorothy, pointing a scornful finger at Jack, who was deeply engaged in tightening a large, black bow which dangled at the end of his long, yellow braid.

"Why, Dolly, I flattered myself I was the handsomest one of the bunch, and now you speak harshly to me," protested Jack in a tone of great grief.

"So far as beauty goes there isn't much choice between you," said Charlotte meditatively. Her eye was taking in Phil's tall, slender figure, upon which the skirt hung in limp folds. His brown braids were twined about his head in a coronet, a style with which Charlotte's mirror was familiar.

"Oh, those ridiculous boys! Do see my bunch of curls," shrieked Ruth, getting around where she could better see the back of Arthur's head.

"Whatever made you think to do it, you silly things?" asked Betty, eyeing with disfavor the magenta-colored hair which graced the head of her double.

"Why, we are going to cook a supper for you to-night, and we thought we couldn't follow better models as to dress than the celebrated Cooking Club," answered Phil making a low bow with his hand on his heart.

"Do get to work, then," said Dolly with great disdain. "Let's see if you can imitate our cooking as remarkably as you have our looks."

A long table stood in the middle of the room, covered with a white cloth, and on it reposed several chafing-dishes, a pile of plates, forks, spoons and knives, and a quantity of paper napkins. Olives, crisp little pickles and plates of crackers were the only visible evidences of food, and to the hungry girls the prospect was not encouraging.

"If you will kindly be seated, young ladies," said Frank, whose woolly black locks made his imposing manner ridiculous, "we will now show you how much we know."

"How little, you mean," added his sister in an audible whisper.

"I'm not going to have Dolly near me while I cook," said Frank decidedly. "You go and watch Arthur, Dolly; that's a good girl."

"Don't watch me," groaned Arthur. "Charlotte and Ruth have got their eyes glued on everything I'm doing already. Watch Phil, Dorothy. He's much nicer than I am."

Mr. and Mrs. Marshall slipped quietly away about this time, and then, with their guests showing an irritating and undue interest in all that they did, the boys began the preparation of the supper. As the work progressed, wigs were pushed out of place and finally discarded; hooks and eyes, too fragile for such muscular young ladies, loosed their hold, and skirts were trampled under foot and cast aside. At last it was only six boys in girlish-looking waists who were working with pretended confidence but real anxiety under the eyes of their unsparing critics.

It leaked out afterward that the boys had been practicing for several weeks on the special dishes they made, and it was a great relief to the girls to find this out. On this evening, however, the lordly creatures asserted that cooking was an art that reached perfection only when man undertook it, and that a man knew by instinct quantities, seasoning and time of preparation.

The girls, though not half believing, watched with a surprise not unmixed with awe while Phil cooked a lobster a la Newburg, seasoned to perfection, Arthur prepared delicious creamed potatoes, and Frank did up cold lamb in hot currant jelly in the most approved style. There were potato chips and buttered brown bread to eat with the lobster, and warm rolls to go with the second course. Everything was so good that the girls could only wonder and eat.

"Could I have a glass of water, please?" begged Ruth just before the feast began.

"Sure. Oh, wait a minute and I'll get you something better than water," said Joe, plunging down the stairs and into the house, to return in a moment laden with bottles of ginger-ale.

"Now watch him open them, Ruth," said Charlotte with pretended admiration. "See how skilfully he does it. No girl could ever attain to anything like that. After all boys are superior beings and-"

"Wow," gasped Joe, as a fountain of ginger-ale rose from the bottle and struck him squarely in the face.

"Here, take that bottle out of the way. It's going all over my creamed potatoes," shouted Arthur.

Blinded and dripping, Joe made a frantic effort to head the bottle another way, and in the attempt turned a liberal portion over Bert, who was standing near.

"I was just about to say," continued Charlotte calmly, "that boys always do everything in such a complete way."

"Well they know when not to talk," growled Joe, mopping himself with a napkin, and frowning darkly at the offending young lady.

It was a supper of gayety, and good things to eat. The boys were so proud of their cooking that they disliked to let the conversation wander from that particular subject, and brought it back by some skilful remark whenever they thought the interest of the girls was flagging. Each club toasted the other, and Jack toasted the ladies, ending with the sentence, which became a byword in Glenloch, "Girls are all right if you only know how to manage 'em."

"What a lot of dishes," said Betty with a sigh as they rose from the table.

"We will now show you how the powerful masculine mind handles the problem of dishes," proclaimed Phil.

"Do those dishes worry us? Not at all," added Bert as the boys lifted the table bodily and put it in a comer of the room.

"Now you see 'em," said Joe, helping to unfold two screens borrowed for the occasion, "and now you don't."

"Yes, but they're there all the same," argued Dorothy unconvinced.

"Mrs. Flinn will change all that, little sister," answered her brother condescendingly. "We have bribed her to spend to-morrow morning cleaning the club room, and she thinks we are 'blissed young gintlemen.'"

"Get over on the piano stool, Art, and give us that new music you were playing last night," begged Joe.

"No, don't play new things," implored Dorothy. "Play some college songs."

And so Arthur played and they all sang; some on the pitch and some off, but all happy, and each one deeply satisfied with his own share of the performance. At last, swinging around on the piano stool, Arthur looked at Ruth and said mysteriously, "You may as well tell them your news now, Ruth."

Every one turned to look at Ruth with such sudden interest that the color flashed into her face.

"It isn't enough to make you all look so curious," she laughed. "It's only that I can't have many more parties with you, because my father has sent for me, and I am to sail on the 'Utopia' a month from to-day."

There was a moment of mournful and incredulous silence; then Dorothy said indignantly, "I call that a mean shame; you were promised to us for a year, and that would make it next October."

"I know. But you see father will be ready for me sooner than he thought, and much as I should love to spend the summer here, I do want to be with him."

"Strange," murmured Joe.

"And-and there's more news," continued Ruth. "Uncle Jerry and Miss Burton are going to be married a week before I sail, and go over with me for a wedding trip,"

"Tell us all about it," pleaded Betty, throwing herself on the floor at Ruth's feet.

"I have; just about. You see Miss Burton's father and mother are dead, and she hasn't any near relations except a sister who lives way out in Seattle. So Mrs. Hamilton has invited her to be married at her house, and it's going to be a very private wedding."

Distinct disappointment was visible in the girlish faces as Ruth finished.

"But." she continued hurriedly, "there is to be a reception after the ceremony, and all of us girls are to be invited to help receive and the boys to usher."

"How perfectly lovely!" exclaimed Betty.

"I don't think so," mourned Dolly. "What shall we do with Ruth and

Miss Burton both gone?"

"Tell them the rest, Ruth," urged Arthur.

"The rest? Oh, yes. After the reception Uncle Jerry and his wife-doesn't that sound grand?-are going off somewhere for a week, and Mrs. Hamilton is going to take me to New York to meet them."

"And Mr. Hamilton and Mr. A. Hamilton are going, too," added Arthur with great satisfaction.

It was Ruth's turn to look surprised. "Why how perfectly grand!

You never said a word."

"Father just suggested it to-night and I thought I'd surprise you.

He's planning to have four days there before you sail."

"Fine old plans," said Betty soberly. "It's all very nice for Ruth, but I feel as if all the dolls I ever had were stuffed with sawdust."

"So do I," added Dorothy, with a little catch in her voice. Charlotte said nothing, but to the surprise of every one she put her arm around Ruth in a way that was more eloquent than words.

The Candle Club party threatened to end in melancholy fashion, but the irrepressible Joe came to the rescue as usual. "Ruth can't leave the country," he announced decidedly. "She has too much live stock to look after. To my knowledge she owns half a horse, and the whole of a very enterprising kitten."

Every one laughed, for all knew that Fuzzy's latest escapade had been the theft of a string of sausages which he had proudly brought home untouched to show to his mistress.

"It's just as well for me to go before my live stock gets me into trouble," laughed Ruth. "As for my half of Peter Pan, I shall will that to Arthur to keep until-"

"Until you come back, of course," interrupted Arthur. "Your father may have you for a while, and then you must come back to Glenloch, and this time for a whole year."

"Hear, hear," came in eager chorus from the others, and the party broke up happily after all.

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