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   Chapter 7 FAME IS NOT ALWAYS AN ASSET

Ruth Fielding At College; or, The Missing Examination Papers By Alice B. Emerson Characters: 8097

Updated: 2017-12-01 00:02


Just why the teacher of mathematics had taken Ruth Fielding into her confidence upon this rather curious event, it would be hard to say. Teachers are human like other people, and perhaps sometimes prone to gossip.

However, Ruth felt that it was a confidence, and she did not mention the matter of the missing examination papers to her chum or to Jennie Stone. The other Briarwood girls were the only members of the freshman class Ruth was likely to be intimate with for some days.

Friendships are not made so quickly at college as at smaller schools. There were so many girls that it took some time for the trio to adjust themselves and to become acquainted with their mates.

In the morning they went again to the registrar's office, and there they met Miss Dexter, who was appointed to escort them about, show them the college offices, the bookstore, and introduce them to such of the instructors as came in the path of the new girls.

Of course, their tuition fees-one hundred and seventy-five dollars each-for the year had been already paid. Their board would be nine dollars weekly, and all books, stationery, gymnastic suits and supplies, as well as medical and hospital fees (if they chanced to be ill) would be extra.

There were only a few simple rules of behavior to note. If a girl is not well trained in ladylike demeanor before arriving at the college age she is, of course, hopeless. The faculty have other things to do besides watching the manners as well as the mental attributes, of the students.

Ruth and her friends learned that they were not to leave the college grounds before six in the morning.

"And who'd want to?" demanded Heavy. "That's the best time to sleep."

However, the fleshy girl soon learned that if she was to have a reasonable time for breakfast she must be up betimes. The meal was served from seven to a quarter to eight. Chapel was at eight-thirty, but not compulsory. Recitations began at nine and lunch was at twelve.

Recitations and lectures (these latter did not interest our freshmen, for they had no lectures the first year) ended at three-thirty, when, all the girls were supposed to take gymnastics of some kind. Otherwise, their time was their own until dinner at six o'clock.

The girls had the time free from seven till seven-thirty. The following two hours were those devoted to quiet study (or should be) in their own rooms, or in the reference department of the library. At ten all were supposed to retire.

The students might leave the grounds at any time during the day, but never in the evening without a chaperon. These rules and requirements seemed easy enough to the trio from Briarwood Hall, used as they were to the far stricter oversight of the teachers in the preparatory institution.

More girls appeared at Ardmore that day, and the one following would see the opening of the semester and, as Jennie Stone said, "the buckling down to real work." A notice was posted on the bulletin boards already commanding all freshmen to meet at Hoskin Hall after dinner that evening, signed by the president of the sophomore class.

"What's she got to do with us?" Helen demanded, with a sniff.

"Aren't we allowed to run our own class affairs here?" Heavy asked.

"I fancy not," Ruth rejoined. "Miss Dexter told me that the sophs and freshies were usually lined up against the two older classes. The sophs need us, and we need them."

"I have an idea," said Heavy, with a warning shake of her head, "that some of the sophs don't care so much for us."

The trio were returning from the college hall as they chatted. Helen suddenly exclaimed:

"Girls! did you ever see so many tam-o'-shanters in your little lives? And such a wealth of colors?"

It was true that every girl in sight (and there were "just hundreds!" to quote Heavy again), unless she were bareheaded, wore a tam-o'-shanter.

"The most popular thing in head covering at Ardmore this year, that is sure," said Ruth.

"Oh! will you look at the one that Frayne girl is wearing?" Helen ga

sped.

"Goodness!" said Heavy. "Looks like an Italian sunset."

"Or a badly scrambled egg," put in Helen. "There! I believe that girl would look a fright whatever she put on."

"She can't help her taste, poor girl," Ruth said.

"My!" sighed Heavy. "I like to hear you talk, Ruth. You're as full of excuses for everybody criticised as a chestnut is of meat," and she nibbled one of the nuts in question as she spoke. Then:

"Wow! Oh, the nasty thing!"

Helen laughed uproariously. "Something besides meat in that chestnut, Heavy. Did it squirm much?"

"Don't ask me," said the fleshy girl, gloomily. "Of such is life! 'I never owned a gay gazelle--'"

"Cut it out. You never owned a gazelle of any kind," said Helen. "You know you never did."

It was just here that the trio came upon a group of girls of whom Edith Phelps was evidently the leader. It was opposite the gymnasium, under the wide-spreading oaks that gave shade to that quarter of the campus. The Briarwood girls had been about to enter the gymnasium building to look around.

Edith and her friends were mostly in gymnasium costumes. They had been tossing the medicine ball; but it was plain that they had gathered here near the path the three freshmen friends followed, for a purpose.

"Oh, here comes the leading lady!" cried Edith Phelps, in a high and affected voice. "Get set! Camera!"

The girls, or most of them, struck most ridiculous attitudes at Edie's word, while an oblong, black box suddenly appeared, affixed upon a tripod, and May MacGreggor, who was out for fun as much as any of the sophomores, began to turn a tiny crank on one side of the box.

"Hi! what are you trying to do-you fat person there?" demanded Edie, excitedly, imitating a movie director, and waving back the amazed and somewhat angry Jennie Stone. "Want to crab the film?"

"Oh, the mean things!" gasped Helen, growing as red as though the joke were aimed directly at herself.

"Cracky!" murmured the fleshy girl, who couldn't help seeing the ridiculous side of it. "Isn't that funny?"

At the moment, too, a thin little tune began to wander from the black box, none other than "The Wearing of the Green." Inside the box was one of those little, old-fashioned Swiss music boxes, and May was industriously turning the crank.

"Register fear, Miss Fielding!" shouted Edith, energetically. "Fear, I say! Don't you realize that you are about to be flung over a cliff and that a mad bull is waiting bel-o-o-w to catch you on his horns? Close up of the bull, please!"

Ruth had been first surprised, then not a little displeased; but she knew instinctively if she showed that this buffoonry offended and troubled her it would only be repeated again and again.

Much better able than her chum, Helen Cameron, to control her features, she began now to smile broadly.

"Girls!" she said aloud to her two friends, "it must be that that girl knows Mr. Grimes personally or has seen him at work. You remember Mr. Grimes, the Alectrion director who filmed our play at Briarwood?"

"And was so nasty to Hazel Gray? I should say!" exclaimed Jennie, instantly falling in with Ruth's attempt to pass the incident off as a joke.

"I think she's nasty-mean," muttered Helen, her black eyes snapping.

"If you played that tune while making a film for me, Miss MacGreggor, I should want to jig," Heavy cried, and started to do a few ridiculous steps in front of the black box.

Ruth continued to smile, too, saying to Edith Phelps: "You might have warned us of this. I'd have liked to primp a little before posing for the camera."

The other girls laughed. It did not take much to make them laugh, and it is possible that they laughed as much at Edie as with her. But as the trio of freshmen went on toward Dare Hall, Ruth shook her head doubtfully.

"What's the matter, Ruthie?" asked Helen, squeezing her arm. "The mean things!"

"I wonder," murmured Ruth.

"You wonder what?" demanded Helen.

Ruth sighed. "I guess fame isn't always an asset," she said.

* * *

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