The Girl Scout's Triumph - novelonlinefree.info
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He was the City Editor, and already he knew about Mabel and had judged her with one of the lightning glances hidden under the shade. The room was overheated, and Mabel, waiting as patiently as she could, commenced to grow drowsy. In a half dream, she saw herself entering the magic railing which surrounded the tall man's desk. _She_ did not lean hectically over the rail and talk rapidly from the outside as did the young men reporters. No, Mabel, grown tall and slender and surpa.s.singly beautiful, walked _into_ the charmed circle, greeting her chief with a slow, faint smile. Then opening her hand-bag, and drawing off her gloves while she lazily watched the great man through her long drooping lashes, she proceeded to present a sheaf of papers written over closely in her fine neat hand. The lines of her beautiful rajah silk sport suit clung to her lovely figure as she modestly drew the chief's attention to some particular statement. Stubby Mabel, in her plain, serviceable school dress, sitting unnoticed at Miss Gere's table, was thrilled at the sight of herself! As the dream-Mabel finished her interview with the City Editor and rose, she said in response to his enthusiastic praise of her work, "Thanks so much!"
The real Mabel was frozen with horror to hear herself actually speak the words! For a moment she a.s.sured herself that she had imagined that too, but a wild-looking, oldish man banging furiously on the typewriter on the next table turned and stared at her and said, "Huh?" in an absent-minded way.
"Nothing, sir," said Mabel in a fl.u.s.tered voice, not at all the voice of the dream-Mabel who had wholly disappeared. The real Mabel sat very still and red until Miss Gere came in.
Miss Gere was not at all what Mabel thought a Society Editor should be.
The lady slouched in, a fedora hat pulled low over her eyes giving her very much the general appearance of the City Editor. A long, full ulster hung uncertainly from her thin shoulders, and its deep pockets bulged with sc.r.a.p paper. Her beautiful, delicate hands were quite grubby on the knuckles. When she entered, she smiled a brilliant, transforming smile that seemed to embrace everyone in the room. All the hurried young men felt it and beamed in return; the City Editor turned his green eye-shade in her direction, and the frantic typist beside Mabel stopped long enough to flap a thin paw in her direction.
She threaded her way slowly across the room, shaking her head as Mabel rose and offered her the chair she was occupying, and sat down in another. She pushed back her hat.
"You are prompt," she said. "I didn't expect you would come today, though your mother said you would. She says you are very anxious for a newspaper career. Well, you must be willing to do a good deal of hard work." She turned first one and then the other grubby hand over and studied her perfectly kept nails. Mabel, fascinated, watched her every movement.
"I told your mother it was dollars to doughnuts that you wouldn't stick it out a month, but she seems to think you will. Of course if you have actually gone to the length of leaving home and all that, why, you _must_ be in earnest. Do you know anything at all about reporting?"
"A little," said Mabel. "I have reported for the _High School Clarion_."
A smile flitted across Miss Gere's thin, eager face. She did not seem as deeply impressed as she might have been. Mabel hastened on.
"I write a good deal by myself," she said. "I can bring you some poems and sketches that I have done."
"It won't be necessary," said Miss Gere hastily, "although I am sure they are well worth reading. I will start you on something easy. You are to be my a.s.sistant, you know. All these men around here are reporters too, and that big man is our City Editor. Bring what you write to me because he doesn't want to know that you are on earth. I have a full day tomorrow and you may cover the business meeting at the Red Cross Rooms, and then you may call up the women on this list, and ask them to give you some details about the entertainments they are giving. Bring in a nice little story about all this, and I will give you further directions when I see you. You may call some of these ladies up tonight.
Use all sorts of tact."
She pa.s.sed a slip of paper to Mabel bearing a typewritten list of well-known names. Mabel took it, and guessing from Miss Gere's preoccupied manner that the interview was at an end reluctantly pa.s.sed out.
Reaching the street, she dropped the humble air that she had worn in the office and, feeling like a conqueror, turned toward her new home. Her thoughts were all of Miss Gere. How gloriously, fascinatingly thin she was! Mabel unfastened her coat. Perhaps she would look thinner if her coat flopped.
Then she heard her name called.
A big car was crawling along the curb, and from the limousine Claire Maslin and Rosanna Horton called her name again. The car stopped and in response to a word from his young mistress the Chinaman stepped down and opened the door.
"Let us take you home," said Claire in her deep, drawling voice. Mabel entered and seated herself, smiling.
"I have just been down making arrangements to begin my newspaper career," she said. "I think every young writer should spend a certain time on newspaper work. It is such good practice, and one learns so much about Life."
"Dear me!" said Rosanna. "What do you mean, Mabel? Is your mother going to let you do newspaper reporting?"
"She is perfectly willing for me to do whatever I feel I ought to do,"
said Mabel loftily. "Mother and I have had a good talk, and I find she is a great deal broader than I feared she would be. The fact is I have left home and have started on a career. I have a charming little box of a place where you must look me up."
"Splendid!" said Claire, clapping her gloved hands lightly. "I shall tell my father, and see what he says. I am always begging him to let me go away and live my life as I want to live it."
"But, Mabel!" gasped Rosanna in horror. "You can't do anything like that. You are only a little girl! You _can't_ go off and live by yourself. Why, you just can't! And, besides, you know the loyalty and service a Girl Scout owes to her mother. I don't see how you can _think_ of such a thing. I am sure you must be joking."
Mabel's face flushed deeply. "You don't understand at all, Rosanna," she said stiffly. "What might be right for one is not right for another. You know the Captain herself told me to live for myself alone and see how it would work out, and it is working out wonderfully. I shall report Sat.u.r.day night at the meeting that it is a great success."
"Oh, dear, _dear_!" cried Rosanna. "I know she did not mean to have anything like this happen. Oh, Mabel, you _must_ go back home!"
"I think she is right," said Claire.
"Certainly I am right," Mabel declared. "My apartment is around the next corner, Claire, number 112, if you will drop me there."
The girls were quite silent as Mabel indicated the apartment house and said good-bye, asking them both to come to see her. As they drove off, Claire was smiling and Rosanna was very grave.
"I wonder how she will come out," said Claire, as they turned toward Rosanna's house.
"It is perfectly _awful_!" exclaimed Rosanna.
"She says the Captain told her to," said Claire.
"I know she never meant her to go so far," wailed Rosanna. "Well, I shall tell her when I go home, and she will know what to do. Cita never makes a mistake."
"Cita?" said Claire. "That is Spanish."
"Yes," said Rosanna, smiling. "When she married my Uncle Robert she seemed so tiny and so dimply and young to be married to anyone that I told her that I meant to call her Cita. Why, I couldn't say _Aunt_! And she _is_ Cita. She is dear. That is what it means."
"I know," said Claire. "She is a dear, I can agree with you there. I like her as well as I ever like anyone."
"Don't you _love_ your friends?" asked Rosanna wistfully. This strange green-eyed girl, so cold and so reserved, made her feel sad.
"I have no friends," replied Claire indifferently.
"Well, you will make a lot of friends here in Louisville," Rosanna a.s.sured her, smiling.
"No," said Claire. The car stopped before Rosanna's house.
"Oh, yes!" insisted Rosanna as she stood at the curb. "You see you will want friends when you grow up. Every girl does."
"Not I," said Claire, shaking her head. "I shall need no friends. Indeed I shall _want_ no friends at the place I am going to when I grow up."
She dropped back against the cus.h.i.+ons as though she was suddenly very tired and Rosanna, forgetting to move, watched the luxurious car bear its beautiful young owner away.
"Oh, dear!" sighed Rosanna finally, and with dragging feet went into the house to find Cita. But she was out, and Rosanna, puzzled and distressed, went to her own pleasant room, and curling up on a big divan tried to solve the new Scout's mysterious words. She forgot all about Miss Brewster, who at that moment, also curled up on a divan in her new apartment, had just happened to think that she was growing hungry and would have to get her own supper. She hurried out to the ice-chest and found it empty with the exception of three large, violent looking green pickles on a plate. Mabel bit one. It was very, very sour. Grabbing her pocketbook, she hurried down to the nearest grocery and bought a loaf of bread, a pound of b.u.t.ter, some cold boiled ham, a gla.s.s of orange marmalade and a package of shredded wheat. With these packages in hand, she retraced her steps, the almost empty pocketbook swinging from her hand.
Supper was queer and not very cheerful, but Mabel knew that she would find it strange at first and the thought that part of her work lay before her that very night kept her spirits up. She had her telephoning to do.
She did not wash the cup and plate, but left them on the table to do in the morning. She was on her way to the telephone when the ringing of the bell made her jump. She seized the receiver. Mrs. Horton, the Scout Captain, was speaking.
"I have just heard the news, Mabel," she said pleasantly. "Isn't it wonderful? And you are really going to try out my experiment? It is wonderful to be able to live for yourself alone, isn't it? Nearly always we have duties that hold us back, and I know you are too good a Scout to disregard any of yours, but of course your mother has Frank, and he is _so_ devoted to her that it really leaves you free. She says he always helps her as though he was a girl. I called you up to suggest that as long as you are making such a real test that it would be well to postpone the report you were going to bring to the meeting."
"I think so too," Mabel agreed hastily. "I know it will be a success, and if I can prove that girls are able to do for themselves, without having to do all sorts of other things like practicing and helping, at the same time, it will be a great thing for girls. Don't you think so?"
"I do indeed," Mrs. Horton a.s.sured her. "And just _think_ what it will mean for mothers! They will be so free. As it is now, your mother, for instance, feels as though she ought to look after you and see that you have good clothes to wear to school and good food to eat, and she wants to fix a pretty room for you, and because you are studying and practicing she does a lot of darning for you and all that sort of thing, and probably she makes most of your dresses because they cost so much to buy these hard times.
"Why, by the time she has done all this, and has looked after you when you are ill, she has no time for herself. I called your mother up to get your address, and she seemed so pleased with everything. She said with Frank to help her, she was going to be able to do so much that she has been wanting to do ever since you were a baby. She and Frank are going to the theatre tonight, and tomorrow she is going to begin designing for that big firm on Fourth Street. I suppose she told you about it?" she added.
"No, she didn't," said Mabel, rather embarra.s.sed to hear in this way of her own mother's plans.