school this coming session. Fern Mullins had come to town early, for the
six-weeks normal course for country teachers. Carol had noticed her on
the street, had heard almost as much about her as about Erik Valborg.
She was tall, weedy, pretty, and incurably rakish. Whether she wore a
low middy collar or dressed reticently for school in a black suit with a
high-necked blouse, she was airy, flippant. "She looks like an absolute
totty," said all the Mrs. Sam Clarks, disapprovingly, and all the
Juanita Haydocks, enviously.
That Sunday evening, sitting in baggy canvas lawn-chairs beside the
house, the Kennicotts saw Fern laughing with Cy Bogart who, though still
a junior in high school, was now a lump of a man, only two or three
years younger than Fern. Cy had to go downtown for weighty matters
connected with the pool-parlor. Fern drooped on the Bogart porch, her
chin in her hands.
"She looks lonely," said Kennicott.
"She does, poor soul. I believe I'll go over and speak to her. I was
introduced to her at Dave's but I haven't called." Carol was slipping
across the lawn, a white figure in the dimness, faintly brushing the
dewy grass. She was thinking of Erik and of the fact that her feet
were wet, and she was casual in her greeting: "Hello! The doctor and I
wondered if you were lonely."
Resentfully, "I am!"
Carol concentrated on her. "My dear, you sound so! I know how it is. I
used to be tired when I was on the job--I was a librarian. What was your
college? I was Blodgett."
More interestedly, "I went to the U." Fern meant the University of
"You must have had a splendid time. Blodgett was a bit dull."
"Where were you a librarian?" challengingly.
"St. Paul--the main library."
"Honest? Oh dear, I wish I was back in the Cities! This is my first year
of teaching, and I'm scared stiff. I did have the best time in college:
dramatics and basket-ball and fussing and dancing--I'm simply crazy