Hushed voices around that part of college where the infirmary was situated bespoke an active sympathy, and the weight of oppression that comes with dread had suddenly changed the whole atmosphere into a cloud of gloom.
Dear, thoughtless, headstrong Shirley!
The days of watching and anxiety that followed the accident left no time for the lesser interests among Shirley’s group at Wellington. For that awful uncertain period there was grave danger of brain concussion, and in the fear of that it must be said every girl in Lenox, besides many outside the freshmen’s quarters, showed their loyalty to the untamed country girl. No messages could be sent, no flowers even allowed to attest to their kindness, as in the critical time absolute solitude was imperative. Then, like a flash of that robust country vitality, the patient rallied and all danger was pronounced past.
One particular, however, caused Jane keen annoyance. All messages to Shirley’s folks had been passed out through Dolorez Vincez, who claimed to be a personal friend of the family. Not even a mother would have been allowed to see the patient, and as Shirley begged that this plan of Dolorez’ agency be carried out, no objection was made to it by the very much alarmed dean, Miss Rutledge.
Another puzzling detail was the fact that Sarah Howland begged Jane not to interfere with these arrangements, as any such interference would undoubtedly shock the stricken girl, she argued. Sally and Jane had just left Lenox and were discussing these details.
“And I’m so glad now,” breathed Sally in her entreaty to Jane, “that you listened to me and did not report that matter to Miss Rutledge.”
“So am I,” said Jane in bewilderment. “I am glad of anything I may have done to make her path smoother here. I can’t see why Dolorez should step in at this critical moment, though, but I do know she took Shirley’s folks around when they were here, and as you say, Sally, to suddenly change the whole line of communication with her family might not only shock Shirley, but also terrify her folks. What a relief that she is now out of danger!”
“I felt like running away at first,” confessed Sally, “it was so terrifying. But I realized I might be the very one most wanted here--if anything serious should happen.”
Jane cast a quick inquiring glance at the younger girl following that statement, but was not rewarded by a further gleam of confidence.
“I’m afraid I have neglected her,” said Jane, “and I mean to make amends. The juniors usually help backward freshmen, but Shirley seemed to resent my attempts even at friendship.”
“Miss Allen,” said Sarah in a compelling voice, “you may not know it but—that girl is gifted at mathematics. She can solve the most difficult problems and is always ahead at geometry and trig. Other studies seem to confuse her, and she just laughs at the languages, but she’s a perfect gem at math.”