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Ruth Fielding At College; or, The Missing Examination Papers By Alice B. Emerson Characters: 10451

Updated: 2017-12-01 00:02

"I expect she'll be a haughty, stuck-up thing," declared Edith Phelps, with vigor.

"'Just like that,'" drawled May MacGreggor. "We should worry about the famous authoress of canned drama! A budding lady hack writer, I fancy."

"Oh, dear me, no!" cried Edith. "Didn't you see 'The Heart of a Schoolgirl' she wrote? Why, it was a good photo-play, I assure you."

"And put out by the Alectrion Film Corporation," joined in another of the group of girls standing upon the wide porch of Dare Hall, one of the four large dormitories of Ardmore College.

The college buildings were set most artistically upon the slope of College Hill, each building facing sparkling Lake Remona. Save the boathouse and the bathing pavilions, Dare and Dorrance Halls at the east side of the grounds, and Hoskin and Hemmingway Halls at the west side, were the structures nearest to the lake.

Farther to the east an open grove intervened between the dormitories and the meadows along the Remona River where bog hay was cut, and which were sometimes flooded in the freshet season.

To the west the lake extended as far as the girls on the porch could see, a part of its sparkling surface being hidden by the green and hilly bulk of Bliss Island. The shaded green lawns of the campus between Dare and Hoskin Halls were crossed by winding paths.

A fleshy girl who was near the group but not of it, had been viewing this lovely landscape with pleasure. Now she frankly listened to the chatter of the "inquisitors."

"Well," Edith Phelps insisted, "this Ruth Fielding was so petted at that backwoods' school where she has been that I suppose there will be no living in the same house with her."

Edith was one of the older sophomores-quite old, indeed, to the eyes of the plump girl who was listening. But the latter smiled quietly, nevertheless, as she listened to the sophomore's speech.

"We shall have to take her down a peg or two, of course. It's bad enough to have the place littered up with a lot of freshies--"

"Just as we littered it up last year at this time, Edie," suggested May, with a chuckle.

"Well," Edith said, laughing, "if I don't put this Ruth Fielding, the authoress, in her place in a hurry, it won't be because I sha'n't try."

"Have a care, dearie," admonished one quiet girl who had not spoken before. "Remember the warning we had at commencement."

"About what?" demanded two or three.

"About that Rolff girl, you know," said the thoughtful girl.

"Oh! I know what you mean," Edith said. "But that was a warning to the sororities."

"To everybody," put in May.

"At any rate," Dora Parton said, "Dr. Milroth forbade anything in the line of hazing."

"Pooh!" said Edith. "Who mentioned hazing? That's old-fashioned. We're too ladylike at Ardmore, I should hope, to haze-my!"

"'My heye, blokey!'" drawled May.

"You are positively coarse, Miss MacGreggor," Dora said, severely.

"And Edie is so awfully emphatic," laughed the Scotch girl. "But she will have to take it out in threatenings, I fear. We can't haze this Fielding chit, and that's all there is to it."

"Positively," said the quiet girl, "that was a terrible thing they did to Margaret Rolff. She was a nervous girl, anyway. Do you remember her, May?"

"Of course. And I remember being jealous because she was chosen by the Kappa Alpha as a candidate. Glad I wasn't one if they put all their new members through the same rigmarole."

"That is irreverent!" gasped Edith. "The Kappa Alpha!"

"I see Dr. Milroth took them down all right, all right!" remarked another of the group. "And now none of the sororities can solicit members among either the sophs or the freshies."

"And it's a shame!" cried Edith. "The sorority girls have such fun."

"Half murdering innocents-yes," drawled May. "That Margaret Rolff was just about scared out of her wits, they say. They found her wandering about Bliss Island--"

"Sh! We're not to talk of it," advised Edith, with a glance at the fat girl in the background who, although taking no part in the discussion, was very much amused, especially every time Ruth Fielding's name was brought up.

"Well, I don't know why we shouldn't speak of it," said Dora Parton, who was likewise a sophomore. "The whole college knew it at the time. When Margaret Rolff left they discovered that the beautiful silver vase was gone, too, from the library--"

"Oh, hush!" exclaimed May MacGreggor, sharply.

"Won't hush-so now!" said the other girl, smartly, making a face at the Scotch lassie. "Didn't Miss Cullam go wailing all over the college about it?"

"That's so," Edith agreed. "You'd have thought it was her vase that had been stolen."

"I don't believe the vase was stolen at all," May said. "It was mixed up in that initiation and lost. I know that the Kappa Alpha girls are raising a fund to pay for it."

"Pay for it!" scoffed some one. "Why, they couldn't do that in a thousand years. That was an Egyptian curio-very old and very valuable. Pay for it, indeed! Those Kappa Alphas, as well as the other sororities, are paying for their fun in another way."

"But, anyway," said the quiet girl, "it was a terrible experience for Miss Rolff."

"Unless she 'put it

on' and got away with the loot herself," said Edith.

"Oh, scissors! now who's coarse?" demanded May MacGreggor.

But the conversation came back to the expected Ruth Fielding. These girls had all arrived at Ardmore several days in advance of the opening of the semester. Indeed, it is always advisable for freshmen, especially, to be on hand at least two days before the opening, for there is much preparation for newcomers.

The fleshy girl who had thus far taken no part in the conversation recorded, save to be amused by it, had already been on the ground long enough to know her way about. But she was not yet acquainted with any of her classmates or with the sophomores.

If she knew Ruth Fielding, she said nothing about it when Edith Phelps began to discuss the girl of the Red Mill again.

"Miss Cullam spoke to me about this Fielding. It seems she has an acquaintance who teaches at that backwoods' school the child went to--"

"Briarwood a backwoods' school!" said May. "Not much!"

"Well, it's somewhere up in New York State among the yaps," declared Edith. "And Cullam's friend wrote her that Fielding is a wonder. Dear me! how I do abominate wonders."

"Perhaps we are maligning the girl," said Dora. "Perhaps Ruth Fielding is quite modest."

"What? After writing a moving picture drama? Is there anything modest about the motion picture business in any of its branches?"

"Oh, dear me, Edie!" cried one of her listeners, "you're dreadful."

"I presume this canned drama authoress," pursued Edith, "will have ink-stains on her fingers and her hair will be eternally flying about her careworn features. Well! and what are you laughing at?" she suddenly and tartly demanded of the plump girl in the background.

"At you," chuckled the stranger.

"Am I so funny to look at?"

"No. But you are the funniest-talking girl I ever listened to. Let me laugh, won't you?"

Before this observation could be more particularly inquired into, some one shouted:

"Oh, look who's here! And in style, bless us!"

"And see the freight! Excess baggage, for a fact," May MacGreggor said, under her breath. "Who can she be?"

"The Queen of Sheba in all her glory had nothing on this lady," cried Edith with conviction.

It was not often that any of the Ardmore girls, and especially a freshman, arrived during the opening week of the term in a private equipage. This car that came chugging down the hill to the entrance of Dare Hall was a very fine touring automobile. The girl in the tonneau, barricaded with a huge trunk and several bags, besides a huge leather hat-box perched beside the chauffeur, was very gaily appareled as well.

"Goodness! look at the labels on that trunk," whispered Dora Parton. "Why, that girl must have been all over Europe."

"The trunk has, at any rate," chuckled May.

"Hist!" now came from the excited Edith Phelps. "See the initials, 'R. F.' What did I tell you? It is that Fielding girl!"

"Oh, my aunt!" groaned the plump girl in the background, and she actually had to stuff her handkerchief in her mouth to keep from laughing outright again.

The car had halted and the chauffeur got down promptly, for he had to remove some of the "excess baggage" before the girl in the tonneau could alight.

"I guess she must think she belongs here," whispered Dora.

"More likely she thinks she owns the whole place," snapped Edith, who had evidently made up her mind not to like the new girl whose baggage was marked "R. F."

The girl got out and shook out her draperies. A close inspection would have revealed the fact that, although dressed in the very height of fashion (whatever that may mean), the materials of which the stranger's costume were made were rather cheap.

"This is Dare Hall, isn't it?" she asked the group of girls above her on the porch. "I suppose there is a porter to help-er-the man with my baggage?"

"It is a rule of the college," said Edith, promptly, "that each girl shall carry her own baggage to her room. No male person is allowed within the dormitory building."

There was a chorused, if whispered, "Oh!" from the other girls, and the newcomer looked at Edith, suspiciously.

"I guess you are spoofing me, aren't you?" she inquired.

"Help! help!" murmured May MacGreggor. "That's the very latest English slang."

"She's brought it direct from 'dear ol' Lunnon'," gasped one of the other sophomores.

"Dear me!" said Edith, addressing her friends, "wouldn't it be nice to have a 'close up' taken of that heap of luggage? It really needs a camera man and a director to make this arrival a success."

The girl who had just come looked very much puzzled. The chauffeur seemed eager to be gone.

"If I can't help take in the boxes, Miss, I might as well be going," he said to the new arrival.

"Very well," she rejoined, stiffly, and opening her purse gave him a bill. He lifted his cap, entered the car, touched the starter and in a moment the car whisked away.

"I declare!" said May MacGreggor, "she looks just like a castaway on the shore of a desert island, with all the salvage she has been able to recover from the wreck."

And perhaps the mysterious R. F. felt a good deal that way.

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