Just then the conductor put his head inside the door, and called “Deer Crossing!”
As the train slowed up, all the girls made a rush for their bags and bundles, and five minutes later they were standing and watching the disappearing train, waving to the amused conductor and trainmen, who were all on the platform of the last car. Then the train disappeared around a curve, and they had a chance to devote their attention to the two big farm wagons that were waiting near the station, each with its team of big Percherons and its smiling driver. The drivers were country boys, with fair, tousled hair, and both wore neat black suits. At the sight of them Eleanor burst into a laugh.
“Why, Sid Harris—and you, too, Walter Stubbs!” she cried. “This isn’t Sunday! What are you doing in your store clothes, just as if you were on your way to church?”
Both the boys flushed and neither of them had a word to say.
“Did you get mixed up on the days of the week!” Eleanor went on, pitilessly.
All the girls were enjoying their confusion, and black-eyed Dolly Ransom, the tease of the party, laughed aloud.
“I bet they never saw so many girls together before, Miss Eleanor,” she said, with a toss of her pretty head. “That’s why they’re so quiet! They probably don’t have girls in the country.”
“Don’t they, just!” said Eleanor, laughing back at her. “Wait until you see them, Dolly. They’ll put your nose out of joint, the girls around here. If you think you’re going to have it all your own way with the boys out here, the way you do so much at home, you’re mistaken.”
Dolly tossed her head again. She looked at the confused, blushing boys on the wagons, who could hardly be expected to understand that Dolly was only teasing them, and wanted nothing better than a perfectly harmless flirtation.
“They’re welcome to boys like those,” she said airily. “I’ll wait until I get home, Miss Eleanor.”
Then she turned away, and Eleanor, her face serious for a moment, turned to Bessie.
“She’ll wait until she’s grown up, too, if I’ve got anything to say about it,” she said. “Bessie, when Zara comes back, of course you’ll be with her mostly. But I wish you’d make a friend of Dolly Ransom,—a real friend. Her mother’s dead, and she has no sisters.”
“I hope I can,” said Bessie, simply. “I like her ever so much.”
A NEW CHUM
The farm was nearly five miles from the station, and the two big wagons made slow time with the heavy loads, especially as the roads were still muddy from a recent downpour. But none of the Camp Fire Girls seemed to mind the length of the trip.
Now that she was actually out in the heart of it, Bessie found that the country was not as much like that around Hedgeville as it had seemed to be from the train windows. The fields were better kept; there were no unpainted, dilapidated looking houses, such as those of Farmer Weeks and some of the other neighbors of the Hoovers in Hedgeville whom she remembered so well.