“Whatever have you done with yourself?” asked Gladys at the weekly meeting of the Camp Fire. “Of late you rush home from school as if you were pursued.” Migwan only laughed and said she had had uncommonly hard problems to solve these last few weeks. The other girls of course did not know the exact state of the Gardiner finances, and never dreamed that Migwan was having a struggle even to stay in high school. She was such a fine, aristocratic-looking girl, and was so sparkling and witty all the time that it was hard to connect her with poverty and worry.
“Let’s all go to the matinee next Saturday afternoon,” suggested Gladys. “The ‘Blue Bird’ is going to be played.” The girls agreed eagerly and asked Gladys to get seats for them, all but Migwan, who said nothing.
“Don’t you want to go, Migwan?” they asked.
“Not this time,” Migwan answered in a casual tone. “There is something else I have to do Saturday afternoon.” The girls accepted this explanation readily. It never occurred to them that Migwan could not afford to go.
“What is this mysterious something you are always doing?” asked Gladys teasingly. “Girls, I believe Migwan is writing a book. She has retired from polite society altogether.” Migwan smiled blandly at her, but made no answer.
At home that night, however, she felt very low-spirited indeed. She was only human, after all, and wanted dreadfully to go to the matinee with the girls. Gladys would take them all to Schiller’s afterward for a parfait and bring them home in style in her machine. It did not seem fair that she should be cut off from every pleasure that involved the spending of a little money. This was her last year in high school, the year which should be the happiest, but she must resolutely turn her face away from all those little festivities that add such touches of color to the memory fabric of school days. She knew that at the merest hint of her circumstances to Gladys or Nyoda they would have gladly paid her way everywhere the group went, but Migwan’s pride forbade this. If she could not afford to go to places she would stay at home and nobody would be any the wiser. Nevertheless, a few tears would come at the thought of the good time she was missing, and she had no heart to work on her story.
“Cry-baby!” she said to herself fiercely, winking the tears back. “Crying because you can’t do as you would like all the time! You’re lots better off than poor Hinpoha this very minute, even if she is rich. You ought to be ashamed of yourself!” The thought of Hinpoha, who would likewise miss the jolly party, comforted her somewhat, and she dried her tears and fell to writing with a will.
Now Nyoda, although she did not know just how hard pressed the Gardiners were at that time, rather surmised something of the kind, and wondered, after she left the girls, if that were not the reason for Migwan’s not planning to go to the matinee. She remembered Migwan’s saying some time before that she wanted very much to see “The Bluebird” when it came. She knew it would never do to offer to pay Migwan’s way; Migwan was too proud for that. She lay awake a long time over it and finally formulated a plan. The next morning when Migwan came to school she saw a conspicuous notice on the Bulletin Board: