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   Chapter 10 A TEMPEST IN A TEAPOT

Ruth Fielding At College; or, The Missing Examination Papers By Alice B. Emerson Characters: 7587

Updated: 2017-12-01 00:02


Arrangements for the organization of the freshman class had lagged.

This fact may have been behind the notice put upon the bulletin boards all over the Ardmore grounds some time after bedtime one evening and before the rising bell rang the next morning. It intimated a bit of hazing, but hazing of a quality that the faculty could only wink at.

The notice was as follows:

FRESHMEN

It is the command of the Senior Class of Ardmore that no Freshman shall appear within the college grounds wearing a tam-o'-shanter of any other hue save the herewith designated color, to wit: Baby Blue. This order is for the mental and spiritual good of the incoming class of Freshmen. Any member of said class refusing to obey this order will be summarily dealt with by the upper classes of Ardmore.

Groups gathered immediately after breakfast about the bulletin boards. Of course, the seniors and juniors passed by with dignified bearing, and without comment. The sophomores remained upon the outskirts of the groups of excited freshmen to laugh and jeer.

"A disturbed bumblebees' nest could have hummed no louder," Helen declared, as the three friends walked up to chapel, which they made a point of attending.

"Why! to think of the cheek of those seniors!" ejaculated Jennie. "And the juniors are just as bad!"

"What are you going to do about that tam of yours, Heavy?" asked Ruth, slily. "It's a gay thing-nothing like baby blue."

"Oh well," growled the fleshy girl, "baby blue is one of my favorite colors."

"Mine, too," said Ruth, drily.

"Oh, girls! Are you going to give right in-so easy?" gasped Helen.

"I don't feel like making myself conspicuous," Ruth said. "You can wager that most of our class will hustle right off and get the proper hue in tams."

"Then we'd better go to town this very afternoon," Jennie cried, in haste, "and see if we can find three of baby blue shade. The stores will be drained of them by to-morrow."

"But to give-right-in!" wailed Helen, who dearly loved a fight.

"No. It isn't that. But, as the advertisements say: 'Eventually, so why not now?' We'll have to come to it. Let's get our tams while the tamming's good."

Helen could not see the reason for obeying the senior order; but she could see no reason, either, for not following her chum's lead. The three girls telephoned for a taxicab, which came to Dare Hall for them at half past three.

They were not the only girls going to town; but some of the freshmen, like Helen, wished to display their independence and refused-as yet-to obey the senior command.

A line at the bottom of the notice announced that three days were allowed the freshmen to obtain their proper tam-o'-shanters.

"Three days!" gasped Heavy, as they started off in the little car. "Why, it will take the stores in Greenburg two weeks to supply sufficient tams of the proper color."

"Then if we don't get ours," laughed Ruth, "we'd better go bareheaded until the new tams can be sent us from home."

"I won't do that!" cried the annoyed Helen. "Oh! oh!" she exclaimed, the next moment, and before they were out of the grounds. "See Miss Frayne! She has her scrambled-egg tam on."

"Don't you suppose she has read the notice?" worried Ruth.

"Why hasn't she?"

"Well, she seems to flock together with herself so much. Nobody seems to be chummy with her-yet," Ruth explained.

"Now, old Mother Worry!" exclaimed Helen, "bother about her, will you?"

"Yes, ma'am," said Ruth, demurely. "I shall, I suppose."

"Goodness, Ruth!" cried Jennie.

They discovered a rather strange thing when they arrived in Greenburg and entered the first store that dealt in ladies' apparel. Oh, yes, indeed! the proprietor had tam-o'-shanters of just the required shade, baby blue. The friends boug

ht immediately for fear some of the other girls who had come to town would find these and buy the proprietor out.

And then, prone to the usual feminine frailty, they went "window shopping." And in every store seeking trade from the college girls they found the baby blue tam-o'-shanters.

"It's the most astonishing thing!" gasped Helen. "What do you suppose it means? Did you ever see so many caps of one kind and color in all your life?"

"It is amazing," agreed Ruth. Yet she was reflective.

Jennie began to laugh. "Wonder if the seniors are just helping out their friends among the tradespeople? It looks as though the storekeepers had bought a superabundance of baby blue caps and the seniors were putting it up to us to save the stores from bankruptcy."

Ruth, however, thought it must be something other than that. Was it that the storekeepers had been notified by the senior "powers that be" to be ready to supply a sudden large demand for tam-o'-shanters of that particular hue?

At least, one little Hebrew asked the three friends if they had already bought their tam-o'-shanters. "For vy, I haf a whole case of your class colors, ladies, that my poy iss opening."

"What class color?" demanded Helen, grumpily enough.

"Oh, Mees! A peau-ti-ful plue!"

"They're all doing it! They're all doing it!" murmured Jennie, staggering out of the "emporium." "This is going to affect my brain, girls. Did the seniors know the storekeepers had the tams in stock, or have the storekeepers been put wise by our elder sisters at Ardmore?"

"What's the odds?" finally laughed Helen, as they got into the waiting car. "We've got our tams. I only hope there are enough to go around."

The appearance of more than a score of baby-blue caps on the campus before evening showed that our trio of freshmen were not the only members of their class who considered it wise to obey the mandate of the lordly seniors, and without question.

The tempest in the teapot, however, continued to rage. Many girls declared they had not come to Ardmore to "be made monkeys of."

"No," May MacGreggor was heard to say. "Some of you were already assisted by nature. But get together, freshies! Can't you read the handwriting on the wall?"

"We can read the typewriting on the billboards," sniffed Helen Cameron. "Don't ask us to strain our eyesight farther."

Perhaps this was really the intention behind the senior order-that the entering girls should become more quickly riveted into a compact body. How the rooms occupied by the more popular freshmen buzzed during the next few days!

Our trio of friends, Ruth, Helen and Jennie, had been in danger of establishing a clique of three, if they had but known it. Now they were forced to extend their borders of acquaintanceship.

As they were three, and were usually seen about the study-room Ruth and Helen had established, it was natural that other girls of their class on that corridor of Dale Hall should flock to them. They thus became the nucleus at this side of the campus of the freshman class. From discussing the rule of the haughty seniors, the freshmen began to talk of their own organization and the approaching election.

Had Ruth allowed her friends to do so, there would have been started a boom by Helen and Jennie Stone for the girl of the Red Mill for president of the freshman class. This honor Ruth did not desire. There were several girls whom she had noted already among her mates, older than she, and who evidently possessed qualities for the position.

Besides, Ruth Fielding felt that if she became unduly prominent at first at Ardmore, girls like Edith Phelps would consider her a particularly bright target. She told herself again, but this time in private, that fame was not always an asset.

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