“Beh-hold, it is I; w-who else could it be?” she faltered, and it sounded so irresistibly funny that the listeners went into spasms of mirth.
Carmen crept back to her place and hid her face in Katherine’s lap while Jo Severance passed on to the next “portrait.” Climbing up an enormous tree stump, she flung out her arms and began to shriek wildly, waving back an imaginary group of girls. Then she proclaimed in important tones: “It had broad, alternating rings of black and red, the distinguishing marks of the coral snake, one of the seventeen poisonous reptiles out of the one hundred and eleven species of snakes found in the United States. It reared up and menaced me with its great, wicked—”
The remainder of her speech was lost in the great roar of laughter that went up from old and new girls alike.
Miss Peckham turned fiery red, and looked angrily from Jo Severance to Miss Judy, but there was no help for it; she had to go forward and claim the portrait.
“Behold, it is I; who else could it be?” she snapped, and the mirth broke out louder than before. The “who else could it be?” was so like Miss Peckham.
One by one the other candidates were shown their portraits, that is, as many as had displayed any conspicuous peculiarities.
“O Pom-pom! O dear Pom-pom, O darling Pom-pom!” gushed Jo, rolling her eyes in ecstasy, and Bengal Virden, laughing sheepishly, went forward.
Miss Amesbury watched the performance with tears of merriment rolling down her cheeks. “I never saw anything so funny!” she exclaimed to Mary Sylvester. “That phrase, ‘who else could it be’ is a perfect gem.”
Agony was somewhat disappointed that her portrait was not painted; it would have drawn her into more notice. So far she was only “among those present” at camp. None of the old girls had paid any attention to her.
After all the portraits had been painted the rest of the girls were called upon to do individual stunts. Some sang, some made speeches, some danced, and the worse the performance the greater the applause from the initiators. One slender, dark-eyed girl with short hair whistled, with two fingers in her mouth. At the first note Migwan and Gladys started and clasped each other’s hands. The mystery of the fairy piping they had heard in the woods that first afternoon was solved. The same clear, sweet notes came thrilling out between her fingers, alluring as the pipes of Pan. The whistler was a girl named Noel Carrington; she was one of the younger girls whom nobody had noticed particularly before. Her whistling brought wild applause which was perfectly sincere; her performance delighted the audience beyond measure. She was called back again and again until at last, quite out of breath, she begged for mercy, when she was allowed to retire on the condition that she would whistle some more as soon as she got her breath back.