Jacquette, A Sorority Girl
A Sorority Girl
A Sorority Girl
GRACE ETHELWYN CODY
ILLUSTRATED BY CHARLES JOHNSON POST
DUFFIELD & COMPANY
By DUFFIELD & COMPANY
THE PREMIER PRESS
|XII.||The Real Queen||230|
Jacquette,A Sorority Girl
IT was nine o’clock in the evening whena heavy train rolled into the UnionStation of a great western city.Among the passengers to alight was a fair-hairedgirl who glanced timidly about thebig, cavernous station before falling inwith the procession of travellers that hadbegun to move toward the waiting-room.Suddenly, one face shone clearly fromamong the indiscriminate mass of facesoutside the iron gates, and she gave a gladlittle cry, as a tall boy stepped forward,caught her suitcase from her, and graspedher hand.
“Jacquette, isn’t it?” he exclaimed, hisdark eyes shining with welcome. “I’dknow you anywhere from your pictures.”
2“But I shouldn’t know you!” she answered.“I’d no idea you were so big and—andgrand!” she finished, roguishly.
“As for that, I am rather grand, to-night,”he laughed, stealing admiringglances at her as he led the way throughthe crowded station to the street. “I’mdown here in the governor’s new auto tomeet a long-lost country cousin, and I finda fairy princess, instead. What morecould a fellow ask?”
“Not an automobile! Truly? I’venever been in one, yet.”
“Oh, well, you’ll do a lot of things inChanning that you never did in Brookdale.Here’s the machine. Just step in and becomfortable while I look after your baggage.”
He gave an order to the respectfulchauffeur and disappeared into the station,while Jacquette Willard looked after him,feeling that she had suddenly entered a newworld. She sat up very straight, brushing3a bit of lint from the jacket of her wine-colouredtravelling-gown, and, more thanonce, she patted the sunny mist of hairabout her face, and put both hands to thejaunty hat, to make sure that it was poisedexactly as it should be. In a few minutesher tall cousin came back and seated himselfbeside her, and then they went spinningalong the brilliantly lighted streetstoward her uncle’s home.
“It seems like a fairy story to me,Quis,” she said, looking up at him with ashy smile.
“Didn’t I tell you you were the princess?”Marquis answered gaily. “Doyou know?—there’s a pink rose in our conservatorythat looks just like you, only itlacks the eyes—poor rose! Your picturesshowed your hair was curly, but they didn’ttell the gold colour of it, and those stunningbraids didn’t show, either. Wonderif the girls will make you put up yourhair?”
“Oh, the bunch I’ll show you, to-morrowmorning. Nicest girls in MarstonHigh.”
“High school, do you mean?”
“Yes; we never stop to put on theschool, though. Everybody knows Marston.It’s famous all through the west forits football team. I’m mighty glad youcame while I’m a senior here, instead ofwaiting till next year when I’ll be off atcollege. I can give you no end of pointers.By the way, I liked it just now, when yousaid ‘Quis.’ I suppose you know aboutyour mother and my father getting ourFrenchy sounding names out of the sameold novel? Funny, wasn’t it? I have toanswer to ‘Markee’ about half the time.The fellows do it to guy me. I wonderwhat you’d think if I should call you‘Jack’?”
“I’d like it,” she agreed, promptly. “Inever had a nickname.”
5“All right, that’s settled. Don’t youthink it’s queer we feel so well acquainted,just from the letters we’ve written? Doyou realise that it’s twelve years since Ieven saw you? We lived abroad ten wholeyears, you know. Mother was saying, lastnight, that I’d spent two years more ofmy life in Europe than in this country, sofar. I’m a pretty good American, though,for all that. The last two years here inChanning seem worth more than the wholeten on the other side. My father feels thesame way, too, and he’s mighty happy tothink that you and Aunt Sula and grandfatherare coming to live so near us.”
“And perhaps we’re not happy about ittoo! You ought to hear the plans AuntSula and I have made for this winter.We’re going to make the most of thechance to hear good music, and see all theexhibitions at the Art Institute, for onething.”
“Whew! How cultured we are!”
6“We aren’t, yet, but wait!” Jacquettelaughed. Then she added, seriously, “Ourplans aren’t all selfish, though. We’rehoping we can interest grandfather insome of the new things, and make him happier.He has been so lonely since grandmotherdied, Quis.”
“I suppose he has. How soon are theycoming?”
“Oh, it will be six weeks or two monthsbefore Aunt Sula can settle up things andleave Brookdale. I ought to be there tohelp her, but she was so anxious to have mebegin school the first day that she made mecome.”
“Then you’re going to stay at ourhouse six weeks or more. That’s great.Perhaps you’ll make up your mind to livewith us all the time after this.”
“Aunt Sula wouldn’t hear of that,”Jacquette said, smiling. “She thinks Ibelong to her as much as if I were her veryown daughter. I guess I do, too. She’s7taken care of me ever since I was threeyears old, you know.”
“Three!” Marquis repeated, in a softenedtone. “Were you that little whenyour father and mother died, Jack?”
She nodded, a wistful look creeping intothe hazel eyes, and they were both silentfor a little. The automobile had turnedon to a fashionable boulevard, and wasskimming along like the wind. Presentlya grey stone house loomed before them.
“Here we are!” cried Marquis—and,a minute later, Uncle Mac and AuntFanny were welcoming the Brookdaleniece to their city home.
Aunt Fanny was tall and distinguishedlooking. Quis was like her; Jacquette sawthat at a glance. Uncle Mac was stoutand blue-eyed—and dear and kind.
After the first greetings he held hisniece off at arm’s length, and looked deepinto her eyes.
“Your mother’s own girl,” he said,8with a mist in his voice. “Fanny, let’skeep her for ours after this.”
“At any rate, we shall be very glad tokeep her for ours until Father Granvilleand Sula come, Malcolm,” Aunt Fannyanswered in even tones, and Jacquette,glancing shyly up at the white profile ofher statuesque, dark-haired aunt, felt, suddenly,that she knew who ruled her uncle’shome.
Mrs. Malcolm Granville was a womanwho prided herself on her practical commonsense, and, though she was very willingto receive Jacquette into her luxurioushome for a visit, she had no intention ofallowing her husband to put any foolishideas, even for a minute, into the mind ofhis niece. As she reasoned, Jacquette, withthe modest inheritance left to her by herfather, was very suitably placed in the unpretentioushome of her grandfather andunmarried aunt, and there was no goodreason for saying or doing anything which9might cause her to feel discontented withthis arrangement.
As a matter of fact, there was not theslightest danger. Jacquette was too devotedlyattached to her adopted mother toconsider, for a moment, the thought ofleaving her, and she felt an impulse to tellAunt Fanny so on the spot, but she controlled it,and, after a few days, shelearned, as people always did, to makeallowances for Aunt Fanny’s “way,” andto appreciate her kindness, in spite of it.
“Now I’m going to carry this girlstraight off to bed,” Aunt Fanny declared,presently, after Jacquette, relieved of herwraps and seated in a rocker before thefireplace in the library, had been servedwith a dainty tray of refreshments. “Yousee she can’t eat a mouthful, even thoughshe confesses to not having taken dinneron the train. I believe she has swallowedthree sips of milk and one nibble of thatroll, altogether. She’s tired and excited,10and the longer she stays here answeringyour questions, Malcolm, the more tiredshe’ll be.”
“Oh, mother, it’s disgracefully early!”Marquis protested, but Uncle Malcolm,leaning back in his big leather chair, smiledgood-naturedly.
“Guess you’re right, Fanny,” he agreed.“If she’s going to begin school to-morrowmorning, the sooner those pretty eyes areshut, the better.”
“There won’t be any school-work tospeak of, the first day—nothing but fun—andI had forty things more to say to her,”Marquis was still grumbling as he rose tosay good-night, but his mother’s word waslaw, and even Marquis grudgingly admittedher wisdom, next morning, when hesaw the bright, rosy girl that emergedfrom the good night’s rest. As he startedfor school with Jacquette, after breakfast,he turned and looked her over with a smileof satisfaction.
11“Well, what is it? Country cousin?”she asked him, saucily.
“Not much! I meant ‘fairy princess’when I said it. I was just thinking thatif your dress were an inch or two longer,you’d look precious little like a freshy.”
“There’s a double hem in all of them,to let out if I need to,” Jacquette confidedto him, “but Aunt Sula thought they werelong enough for fifteen.”
“Oh, well, the Sigma Pi girls will postyou on all those matters.”
“The Sigma what?”
“That’s your sorority—Sigma Pi Epsilon.I’ve arranged with the girls to rushyou, first thing, and they’re sure to bidyou in a few days.”
“To bid me?”
“I’ll bet you don’t know what a sororityis! Oh, Brookdale, Brookdale! Think ofa fairy princess buried in Brookdale!Why, every high school worthy of thename, nowadays, has its Greek-letter societies,12and at Marston, we have more fraternitiesand sororities than I could tellyou about in an hour. The only onesworth mentioning, though, are the oneswith national charters. The little localones are punk. The people that can’tmake the nationals, go into them. But itgoes without saying that the sorority I’mgoing to get you into is the most exclusiveset in the school. Wait till you see thegirls.”
“Why, Quis, I do know about secretsocieties in schools. I’ve read a lot aboutthe teachers opposing them.”
“Yes, I suppose you have—but theyhaven’t any right to do it. Is it theirbusiness to forbid our joining a club, providedour parents are willing? As for theChanning Board of Education, I guesswe’ve hushed it up for one while. It madea rule, last year, shutting off fraternityand sorority members from a lot of highschool privileges—trying to freeze out13secret societies that way, you see—and wejust took up a collection and hired a first-classlawyer and got an injunction againsttheir enforcing that rule. They haven’tany legal right to do such a thing.”
Jacquette listened with a growing senseof her own lack of information. “Butdon’t you think there’s anything, then, inall this fuss about fraternities making classdistinctions in school?” she asked cautiously.
“Not a thing! I’ll tell you how it is:All the fellows that are really worth anythingget into some fraternity or other—andthe same with the girls.”
They turned a corner and came withinsight of Marston High School. It was alarge grey stone building, rising abruptlyfrom the street and separated from it onlyby two railed-in grass plots, one on eachside of the walk leading to the main entrance.A few scrub oaks, stragglingrelics of the old forest which had once14flourished where the hurrying, striving citynow stood, shaded the windows at thesouth, but, except for these, everythingwas bare—as different as possible from thepleasant grounds surrounding the littleBrookdale school.
“Oh, are we here?” Jacquette cried.“I wanted to ask you about planning mycourse, Quis.”
“Lots of time for that,” he told her.“You won’t do a thing but be rushed,to-day.”
“And just what is being ‘rushed,’please?”
“Here’s somebody that will show you,”he answered, coming to a sudden stop onthe sidewalk in front of the school building,where a group of girls were talkingtogether.
They greeted Marquis gaily, and Jacquette’sname had hardly been pronouncedbefore they came fluttering about her likebutterflies. After a