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   Chapter 5 GETTING SETTLED

Ruth Fielding At College; or, The Missing Examination Papers By Alice B. Emerson Characters: 8597

Updated: 2017-12-01 00:02


"What does this mean, Heavy Jennie?" demanded Helen, pinching the very comfortable arm of their fleshy friend.

"What does that mean? Ouch, Helen! You know you're pinching something when you pinch me."

"That's why I like to. No fun in trying to make an impression on bones, you know."

"But it doesn't hurt bones so much," grumbled Jennie. "Remember what the fruit-stand man printed on his sign: 'If you musta pincha da fruit, pincha da cocoanut.' You can't so easy bruise bony folk, Helen."

"You are dodging the issue, Heavy," declared Helen. "What does this mean?"

"What does what mean?" demanded the fleshy girl, grinning widely again.

"How came you here, of course?" Ruth put in, smiling upon their gay and usually thoughtless friend. "You said you did not think you could come to Ardmore."

"And you had conditions to make up if you did come," declared Helen.

"I made 'em up," said Jennie, laughing.

"And you're here ahead of us! Oh, Heavy, what sport!" cried Helen, undertaking to pinch the plump girl again.

"Now, that's enough of that," said Jennie Stone. "I have feelings, as well as other folk, Helen Cameron, despite my name. Have a heart!"

"We are so glad to see you, Heavy," said Ruth. "You mustn't mind Helen's exuberance."

"And you never said a word about coming here when you wrote to us down South," Helen said, eyeing the fleshy girl curiously.

"I didn't know what to do," confessed Jennie Stone. "I talked it over with Aunt Kate. She agreed with me that, if I had finished school, I'd put on about five pounds a month, and that's all I would do."

"Goodness!" gasped Ruth and Helen, together.

"Yes," said Heavy, nodding with emphasis. "That's what I did the first month. Nothing to do, you see, but eat and sleep. If I'd had to go to work--"

"But couldn't you find something to do?" demanded the energetic Ruth.

"At Lighthouse Point? You know just how lazy a spot that is. And in winter in the city it would be worse. So I determined to come here."

"To keep from getting fatter!" cried Helen. "A new reason for coming to college."

"Well," said Jennie, seriously, "I missed the gym work and I missed being uncomfortable."

"Uncomfortable?" gasped Ruth and Helen.

"Yes. You know, my father's a big man, and so are my older brothers big. Everything in our house is big and well stuffed and comfortable-chairs and beds and all. I never was comfortable in my bed at Briarwood."

"Horrible!" cried Helen, while Ruth laughed heartily.

"And here!" went on Heavy, lugubriously. "Wait till you see. Do you know, all they give us here is cots to sleep on? Cots, mind! Goodness! when I try to turn over I roll right out on the floor. You ought to see my sides already, how black-and-blue they are. I've been here two nights."

"Why did you come so early?"

"So as to try to get used to the food and the beds," groaned Heavy. "But I never will. One teacher already has advised me about my diet. She says vegetables are best for me. I ate a peck of string beans this noon for lunch-strings and all-and I expect you can pick basting threads out of me almost anywhere!"

"The teacher didn't advise you to eat all the vegetables there were, did she?" asked Ruth, as they climbed the stairs.

"She did not signify the amount. I just ate till I couldn't get down another one. I sha'n't want to see another string bean for some time."

Ruth and Helen easily found the rooms that had been drawn for them the June previous. Of course, they were not the best rooms in the hall, for the seniors had first choice, and then the juniors and sophomores had their innings before the freshmen had a chance.

But there was a door between Ruth's and Helen's rooms, as they had hoped, and Jennie's room was just across the corridor.

"We Sweetbriars will stick together, all right," said the fleshy girl. "For defence and offence, if necessary."

"You evidently expect to have a strenuous time here, Heavy," laughed Ruth.

"No telling," returned Jennie Stone, wagging her head. "I fancy there are some 'cut-ups' among the sophs who will try to make our sweet young lives miserable. That Edie Phelps, for instance." She told them how the sophomores had met the new girl, Rebecca Frayne, and why.

"Oh, dear!" said Ruth. "But that

was all on my account. We shall have to be particularly nice to Miss Frayne. I hope she's on our corridor."

"Do you suppose they will haze you, Ruth, just because you wrote that scenario?" asked Helen, somewhat troubled.

"There's no hazing at Ardmore," laughed Ruth. "They can't bother me. 'Sticks and stones may break my bones, but names will never hurt me!'" she singsonged.

"Just the same," Jennie said, morosely, "that Edie Phelps has a sharp tongue."

"We, too, have tongues," proclaimed Helen, who had no intention of being put upon.

"Now, girls, we want to take just what is handed us good-naturedly," Ruth advised. "We are freshmen. Next year we will be sophomores, and can take it out on the new girls then," and she laughed. "You know, we've all been through it at Briarwood."

"Goodness, yes!" agreed Helen. "It can't be as bad at college as it was during our first term at Briarwood Hall."

"This Edie Phelps can't be as mean as The Fox 'useter was,' I suppose," added Jennie Stone. "Besides, I fancy the sophs need us freshmen-our good will and help, I mean. The two lower classes here have to line up against the juniors and seniors."

"Oh, dear, me," sighed Ruth. "I hoped we had come here to study, not to fight."

"Pooh!" said the fleshy girl, "where do you go in this world that you don't have to fight for your rights? You never get something for nothing."

However, the possibility of trouble disturbed their minds but slightly. For the rest of the day the trio were very busy. At least, Ruth and Helen were busy arranging their rooms and unpacking, and Jennie Stone was busy watching them.

They went to the registrar's office that day, as this was required. Otherwise, they were in their rooms, after their baggage was delivered, occupied until almost dinner time. Heavy had been on the ground long enough, as she said, to know most of the ropes. They were supposed to dress rather formally for dinner, although not more than two-thirds of the girls had arrived.

There were in Dare Hall alone as many pupils as had attended Briarwood altogether. This was, indeed, a much larger school life on which they were entering.

So many of the girls they saw were older than themselves-and the trio of girls had been among the oldest girls at Briarwood during their last semester.

"Why, we're only kids," sighed Helen. "There's a girl on this corridor-at the other end, thank goodness!-who looks old enough to be a teacher."

"Miss Comstock," said Heavy. "I know. She's a senior. There are no teachers rooming at Dare. Only the housekeeper downstairs. But you'll find a senior at the head of each table-and Miss Comstock looks awfully stern."

Ruth and Helen found the rooms they were to occupy rather different from those they had chummed in at Briarwood. In the first place, these rooms were smaller, and the furniture was very plain. As Jennie had warned them, there were only cots to sleep upon-very nice cots, it was true, and there was a heavy coverlet for each, to turn the cots into divans in the daytime.

"I tell you what we can do," Ruth suggested at the start. "Let's make one room the study, and both sleep in the other."

"Bully idea," agreed Helen.

They proceeded to do this, the result being a very plain sleeping room, indeed, but a well-furnished study. They had brought with them all the pennants and other keepsakes from Briarwood, and sofa pillows and cushions for the chairs, and innumerable pictures.

Before night the study looked as homelike as the old room had at the preparatory school. They had rugs, too, and one big lounging chair, purchased second-hand, that Heavy had, of course, occupied most of the afternoon.

"Well! I hope you've finished at last," sighed the fleshy girl when the warning bell for dinner rang. "I'm about tired out."

"You should be," agreed Ruth, commiseratingly. "You've helped so much."

"Advising is harder than moving furniture and tacking up pictures," proclaimed Jennie. "Brain-fag is the trouble with me and hunger."

"We admit the final symptom," said Helen. "But if your brain is ever fagged, Heavy, it will only be from thinking up new and touching menus. Come on, now, we're going to scramble into some fresh frocks. You go and do the same, Miss Lazybones."

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