The girl scouts triumph;.., p.12
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       The Girl Scout's Triumph; or, Rosanna's Sacrifice, p.12
 

          
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  CHAPTER XII

  When Rosanna went home that night after supper at the Club and a longdrive up the River Road, she realized for the first time just how greata sacrifice she _had_ made. All the Ports of the World to see, and nowshe might never, never see them! A thousand things might come up toprevent another such a journey.

  She fairly ached as she thought it over. And she wondered how the familywould receive the news she was about to spring.

  To her surprise very little was said. Her grandmother immediately wantedto know if this was more Girl Scout business, and when Rosanna said yes,she simply nodded as though that answer settled the question in aperfectly satisfactory way. Cita said, "Oh, Rosanna!" looked as thoughshe was going to say something also, and stopped. Uncle Robert said,"Well, I'll be swamfoozled!" Being "swamfoozled" had a strange effect.Uncle Robert picked Rosanna up bodily, hugged her very hard, kissed hervery hard, and then sat her down hard in a chair. Then everyone just satand thought.

  "That Claire kid is sure having a hard row to hoe," said Uncle Bobfinally.

  "Worse than death," said Mrs. Horton, thinking of young Mrs. Maslin.

  "The Colonel told me about it," said Cita.

  Uncle Robert heaved a sigh. "Well, sweetness, I believe _absolutely_ inyou Girl Scouts living up to your promises exactly as it seems right toyou. If you feel that staying with this girl is of enough importance tolose out on this trip overseas, I have confidence enough in yourjudgment to know that it _is_ important. And if it is a case of helpingthat poor kid through a pretty black place in her life, there is nothingelse for you to do. I reckon it will come out right in the end for bothof you. And I am proud of you, Rosanna."

  With a funny formality he bowed and shook her hand. Rosanna somehow feltwell repaid. Uncle Robert never did anything like that unless he wasvery, very much in earnest.

  Very little else was talked about for the next three days and then otherthings came up to crowd it out of the front of Rosanna's mind.

  For one thing, Uncle Bob found that he could not go as soon as hethought, and that put off the packing, so Rosanna had time to get usedto the idea of being left behind without all the misery of seeing thetrunks filled. Claire, who did not know what a sacrifice Rosanna wasabout to make for her, made happy plans and dozens of them. ColonelMaslin, surprised at Claire's sudden refusal to plan for the seashoretrip, insisted on a reason and was made very happy by the knowledge thathis cold and moody daughter really loved her unhappy father more thanshe did her own pleasure.

  Late in the afternoon of the third day Rosanna was called to thetelephone. It was a long distance call from Cincinnati and for a fullfive minutes Dr. Branshaw talked to her.

  Rosanna was very thoughtful when she hung up the receiver and went downto ask Claire who was sitting in the rose arbor, if she was going todrive to camp after her father. Claire was, and together they started.On a sunny corner, up by the Reform School, they saw Mabel Brewsterstanding.

  She looked warm and dejected, and Claire stopped the car and asked theyoung newspaper woman if she cared to ride with them.

  Mabel accepted with very little enthusiasm, remarking as she did so thatshe had to be back at the office at a quarter before six.

  When they reached Camp, Rosanna slipped her hand in Claire's and saidcoaxingly, "Claire dear, I want to see your father all by himself. Willyou mind?"

  "A secret?" asked Claire, laughing. "Dear me, how exciting this is!Shall I ever know what it is about?"

  "If you are a good girl perhaps," said Rosanna, skipping toward theColonel's office. When she found herself seated facing Colonel Maslinacross the big flat-top desk, her courage failed her for a minute, thenshe plunged into the story.

  "I don't know if I have done right or not, Colonel Maslin," she said."All I thought was that Claire is a Girl Scout and we are bound to helpeach other. And I did not stop to ask anyone's advice."

  "What can it be?" said Colonel Maslin, smiling.

  "Claire told me about her mother," resumed Rosanna. "And what she isafraid of, you know; and I felt as though there must be _some_ way tohelp. So Sunday morning, you know, we went to church; and I just satthere and thought and _thought_, and then I prayed. I did not hear aword of the sermon, but right away Doctor Ford just shouted at me, andasked if _I_ had been trying to _do_ anything. And that I had better hadif I expected God to help me. But even then I didn't know what to do.When we were writing letters after dinner, it all came to me. You knowthe little Gwenny I told you about, and the doctor in Cincinnati whomade her perfectly well?

  "Well, I wrote him a letter right then. I asked him to please cure Mrs.Maslin as soon as he had time, because Claire is a Girl Scout. Thisafternoon Doctor Branshaw telephoned me. He says he can't go ahead andtake care of Mrs. Maslin unless you tell him to. He can't have anythingto do with it at all unless you say so. But he knows the doctor whereMrs. Maslin is, so he went up to see her and he asked me if I knew howlong since Mrs. Maslin fell."

  "She never had a fall," said Colonel Maslin positively.

  "Yes, she fell from her horse about six years ago," said Rosanna. "Itgave her fearful headaches."

  "How do you know all this?" demanded the Colonel.

  "Claire told me. She was with her mother but she promised not to tell onaccount of worrying you, and it didn't amount to anything."

  "Good heavens!" muttered Colonel Maslin. "Go on!"

  "I told the Doctor about that, and he said if you wanted to consult him,to telephone him."

  Instead of answering, the Colonel took down the telephone receiver andinquired about trains to Cincinnati. Then he rose, came to Rosanna, andvery solemnly kissed her on the forehead.

  "I shall take the nine o'clock train for Cincinnati to see this doctorof yours, and I think it would be well if we kept our hopes to ourselvesfor awhile. It would not be kind to raise Claire's hopes again."

  "That is what I thought," answered Rosanna. "She will just think ourtalk is something about vacation. Oh, Colonel, I am so _sure_ thatDoctor Branshaw will cure Mrs. Maslin! If you had seen Gwenny, you wouldfeel just as I do, I am sure."

  "Claire's mother is ill in a different way, my dear," said ColonelMaslin sadly, "but we will hope for the best. As soon as I return fromCincinnati, I will tell you just what the doctor says. I would tryanything in the world--but we must go now."

  Together they went out to the car, Colonel Maslin looking so thoughtfulthat Claire declared that she didn't see how they could either of thembear to leave her out of the secret. They drove down to the_Times-Leader_ office with Mabel, and on the way home Claire said thatMabel was awfully excited. She had written a poem and had left a copy ofit on the Editor's desk.

  "She says," said Claire, "that she knows it is good, and if the_Times-Leader_ pays a dollar a line, the way lots of the magazines do,she will get a hundred dollars for it."

  "Great Scott!" said Colonel Maslin. "How long is it?"

  "Twenty stanzas, five lines each," said Claire. "She made them fourlines each at first, then she put on a sort of refrain, on account ofthe extra dollar."

  "A very businesslike young poet," said Colonel Maslin. "I would like tosee a sample of that poem. I am not sure that I would have time to readtwenty stanzas, but I could get a good idea of it from eight or tenverses, no doubt."

  "Well, we will see it all, if it is published," said Claire. "Mabel saysshe will not allow them to print it unless they pay her price for it.She says good work is always worth its price."

  Colonel Maslin shook his head solemnly. "That beats all!" he said. "Isuppose by now she has her check and is wondering what to do with theone hundred dollars."

  Nothing like that was happening to Mabel!

  Since the fatal Sunday when she had refused to attend the office boy'spicnic, he had regarded her with such scorn that it was apparent to thewhole force. Mabel's small, shy overtures of friendship were simplyscoffed at. He did not leave her alone; he put himself in her way forthe pleasure it gave him to stalk off again, with a grin on his face and
his snub nose in the air. Reams of society notes which Mabel hadwritten, only to have them discarded by Miss Gere, he picked out of thewaste baskets and laid on her desk, saying loudly, "I think these areyours, Miss Brewster."

  When she went out at night, she found him hanging affectionately overFrank's shoulder, but at the sight of her he turned and strutted off.

  Mabel was sure that the City Editor was watching her more than he had atfirst, but her conceit took that as a compliment. Miss Gere's manner hadnot changed, but Mabel heard her sigh often.

  Miss Gere _was_ sighing over Mabel, but Mabel did not guess that. Shewould not have believed such a thing possible.

  She did not like the manner of the office boy, however. It hurt herpride. When she reached the door of the office, it was desertedexcepting for Jimmie who, with his face pressed close to the dingywindow pane, was watching something in the street below. In a cornernear the door a temporary cloak-room had been made by running up twoflimsy partitions. They were only six feet high but there was a place tofix one's hair at a little glass and keep coats and hats out of thedust. Mabel tiptoed quickly into this haven and decided to wait thereuntil someone else came in. She sat down noiselessly on the ricketychair but immediately she heard steps and voices. Before she could riseshe heard a sentence that froze her. She forgot that listening is adespicable trick. She just sat transfixed! The voice was that of theEditor and he was evidently talking to Miss Gere about her, because hesaid:

  "Why, today I found a poem on my desk, with a letter. Why, Miss Gere,that kid ought to be home under her mother's wing, and here she istrying to be sophisticated, and writing drivel that would shame a childsix years old!"

  Miss Gere laughed.

  "Don't be so severe, Chief," she begged.

  "I am _not_ severe!" he said savagely. "You are not fair with her. Ifthat girl has no more feeling for her mother and no appreciation of herbrother--Why, do you know that youngster sleeps outside her door everynight to take care of her, for fear someone might frighten her? She_needs_ a good scare _I_ should say. Sleeps there on the floor!"

  Miss Gere interrupted. "Not quite as bad as that," she said. "I happento know that there is a settee there."

  "Well, what's a settee for a growing boy?" growled the Chief. "Well, ifshe has no affection, no gratitude and evidently no natural love for herown people and only an _ordinary_ brain, what's the use of botheringwith her? _I_ don't want to see her hanging around. I know she is underyour charge, Miss Gere, but I wish you would let me fire her. I want totell her to go home and ask her mother to forgive her, and see if shecan get a little sense into her head, and try to live and act accordingto her years. Where in time did she get such notions?"

  "She reads a good deal, I believe," said Miss Gere. "Cheap magazines andsilly novels."

  "Well, fire her! As far as I go, the experiment is over!" He walked overto his desk. "When she comes in tomorrow, send her to me. I will atleast have the comfort of telling her what I think of this poem. Youwill hear the truth about your imagined talents for once, Miss MabelBrewster." He slammed down the top of his desk and stalked out withoutsaying good-night.

  Jesse, quite pale under his freckles, came over to Miss Gere.

  "My land!" he said. "What ails the Old Man? Somebody on the _Journal_must 'a' got a scoop away from him. Say, he gave it to her good, didn'the?"

  "She deserves all that, Jesse, but he was rather wild about it."

  "_I_ don't think she deserves such a call," said Jesse. "And I don't saythat because she ever fell for me, because she didn't. She hates meworse'n a stingin' adder, but I bet she's a darned nice girl if itwasn't for this foolishness about a career. She's a Girl Scout, too, andhas a whole sleeve full of Merit badges. You can't fake those, you know.She's due to get a fierce bump, and if she doesn't get it here, she willthe next place. Gee, I'm glad I'm not her!"

  "She _is_ a little goose," said Miss Gere, who had had a hard day andwas tired out. "And she has the sweetest mother in the world."

  "Don't I know? I'll say I do!" said Jesse fervently. "She chaperoned apicnic last week for us, and before the picnic was half over all of usfellows had forgotten the picnic, and the girls and everything, and weresitting around Mrs. Brewster, listening to her talk. I'll say she is allright! And Miss M. Brewster _wouldn't go_! Well, I am sorry for her. Shemust have a good streak somewhere. Are you going now, Miss Gere?"

  They went out together, and Mabel could hear their voices echoing alongthe empty corridor. She was shaking. Somehow she got out of the buildingand turned toward Third Street. Frank was not in sight, having beentold by Jesse that his sister was not in the office. She hoped ferventlythat she would not meet him. As she passed a grocery she remembered thather larder was empty, but she did not want to eat ever again. She wantedto get into her room and shut the door on the whole world.

  _Her_ world had tumbled. As she made her way blindly past the closedstores and around by the trolley terminal she felt a touch on her arm.She turned, and a young rowdy fell into step with her, and pushed hisbattered hat rakishly over his eyes.

  "Hello, girlie!" he muttered in a hoarse voice. "Seen you comin' an'made up my mind you hadn't no date. I like your looks. How's a sody?" Hetook Mabel by the elbow.

  She wrenched herself free, and with a gasp ran fleetingly up the street.

  So this was what Frank had been saving her from! Such creatures as theone who had just spoken to her! She looked behind, and saw to her reliefthat the fellow was not trying to follow her. She choked down her sobsand hurried on. When she reached the apartment she locked the doorbehind her with trembling fingers, and for the first time looked underbeds and in clothes-presses; everywhere where an intruder might lurk.But she was quite alone.

 
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