The door opened with a little, light, deprecating tap first from Miss Daphne’s finger-tips. She glanced around the side of it cautiously to be sure she was not disturbing the Dean, and smiled whimsically when she saw the two. The Dean’s pipe had gone out, and he was leaning over the desk listening as eagerly as though he had been a boy himself, while Kit, with her hands clasped behind her head, chatted. Usually people conversed with the Dean, they never chatted, and Miss Daphne realized that Kit had already passed the outposts of the Dean’s defenses.
Hope College was founded in 1871. This date was graven on the corner stone, which the Dean had been careful to show Kit, telling her at the same time how the first settlers through the middle Northwest followed the customs of the Puritans and Cavaliers.
“A church, a schoolhouse for every clearing, and a college before the county court-house.”
It seemed queer to Kit to think of Hope College as being any kind of an historic pile, but Rex had assured her anything that dated before Custer was ancient history, and if you wanted to get almost prehistoric, you went back to Lewis and Clarke, and the Jesuit explorers.
“Why, back at Gilead,” Kit told him, “even the mounting stone at Cousin Roxy’s had 1721 on it.”
The college was built of gray field stone covered with climbing woodbine and Virginia creeper, and it dominated the little town. There were five buildings in the campus group, the main building, laboratory, library and gymnasium, boys’ dormitory, and chapel.
Kit never forgot the first morning when the classes met in Assembly Hall, and the Dean addressed them on the work and aims of the coming year. For the life of her, she could not keep her mind on all he was saying or the solemnity of the moment, because, just at the very last minute when the chapel chimes stopped ringing, Marcelle Beaubien entered through the dark green swinging doors at the back of the big, crowded hall. It seemed as though every one’s eyes were watching the platform, but Kit saw the slender, silent figure standing there alone. She was dressed in black, a thin black lawn, with collar and cuffs of dark red linen, and her heavy brown hair was braided in two long plaits down her back. She waited there, it seemed to Kit, expectant on the threshold of opportunity, not knowing which way to go, and without a friendly hand extended to her in welcome or guidance.
Norma Riggs, who sat next to Kit, glanced back to see what had attracted her attention, and made a funny little deprecating sound with her mouth.
“I never thought she’d have the nerve to really do it,” she whispered. “Isn’t she odd?”
A quick impulsive wave of indignation swept over Kit, and she rose from her seat, passing straight down the aisle without even being aware of the curious glances which followed her. She took Marcelle by storm.