But now the question was, What should she do? It was no more than fair and just for her to inform the girls what they might expect if they attempted to carry out their original plan, but what method should she pursue to convey to them this information? She might go at the matter bluntly and create something of a panic; then again she might so handle it that the best possible result could be obtained in a quiet and orderly manner.
Marion felt in this crisis that a great responsibility rested on her to handle the problem with all the skill and intelligence at her command. She longed for the counsel of an older and more experienced head, but there was none present, except Miss Ladd, the Guardian of the Fire, to whom she might go with her story. The latter, though she came well within the requirements of the national board to fill the position which she held, was nevertheless a young woman in the sensitive sense of the phrase and could hardly be expected to give the best of executive advice under the circumstances. Marion realized that it was her duty to exhibit to Miss Ladd the letters she had received, but if she did this at once, the act would amount to turning the whole matter over to her and relinquishing the initiative herself, she reasoned.
Marion was naturally aggressive, and she was not favorably impressed with the idea of leaving the affair in the hands of another unless that person were peculiarly fitted to handle it. As she sat studying over the problem she suddenly became conscious of the presence of another person close beside her, and looking up she saw Helen Nash, with an expression of startled intelligence in her eyes. Apparently her attention had been attracted by the crude drawing of a skull and cross-bones at the close of the letter lying open in her lap.
“I beg your pardon, Marion,” said Helen with an evident effort at self-control. “I didn’t mean to intrude. I hope you’ll forgive me for something quite unintentional.”
“Certainly, Helen,” Marion replied generously, “and since a chance look has informed you of the nature of these letters and I want to talk this affair over with somebody, I think I may as well talk it over with you. Let’s go down to the other end of the car where we aren’t likely to be disturbed.”
Accordingly they moved up to the front of the car where they took possession of two chairs and soon were so deeply absorbed in the problem at hand as to excite the wonder and curiosity of the other Camp Fire Girls.
Marion handed the two anonymous letters to her friend without introductory remark, and the latter read them. As Marion watched the expression on the reader’s face, she was forced to admit to herself that right then, under those seemingly impersonal circumstances, Helen’s habitual strangeness of manner was more pronounced than she had ever before known it to be. This girl of impenetrable secrecy read the letters, seemingly with an abstraction amounting almost to inattention, while physically she appeared to shrink from something that to her alone was visible and real.