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Brownell College, Oct. 18, 19—.
Well, we’re settled at last, though it did seem at first as though we were going to spend all our college life wandering around with our belongings in our arms. We came a day late and found the room we had arranged for occupied by someone else. Through a mistake it had been assigned to us after it had been once assigned to these other two, so we had to relinquish our claim. The freshman dormitory was full to the eaves and we realized that there wasn’t going to be any place for us. We made our roomless plight known and to make up for it we were told there was a vacant double in the sophomore dormitory that we might take provided no sophomores wanted it. We hadn’t expected such an honor and sped like the wind after our belongings. The sophomore dormitory is right across from the freshman one; they are called Paradise and Purgatory, respectively. It sounded awfully funny to us at first to hear the girls asking each other where they were and to hear them answer, “I’m in Paradise,” or, “I’m in Purgatory.” We were overcome with joy when we discovered that Migwan roomed in Paradise. Our room was way up on the third floor and hers was down on second, but to be under the same roof with her was such a comfort that all our troubles seemed over for good. We just had our things pretty well straightened out and Hinpoha was nailing her shoebag to the closet door when the sky fell and we were informed that a couple of sophomores wanted our room, and, as there was now a vacancy in the freshman dormitory, would we kindly move? So we were thrown out of Paradise and landed in Purgatory after all, and, for the second time that day, we trailed across the campus with our arms full of personal property, strewing table covers and laundry bags in our wake. We didn’t have time to straighten out before exams began and for two days we lived like shipwrecked sailors with the goods that had been saved from the wreck piled on the floor and when we wanted anything we had to rummage for half an hour before we found it. Even after we had survived exams we were half afraid to begin settling for fear we would be ordered to move once more. We couldn’t quite believe that we were anchored at last.
The first week went around very fast; we were so busy getting our classes straightened out and learning our way through the different buildings that we didn’t have time to feel homesick. But by Saturday the first strangeness had worn off; we had stopped wandering into senior class rooms and professors’ committee meetings, but still we hadn’t had time to get very well acquainted. Saturday afternoon was perfect weather and most everybody in the house had gone off for a walk, but we had stayed at home to finish putting our room to rights. When everything was finally in place we sat down on the bed and looked at each other. Hinpoha’s eyes suddenly filled with tears.
“I want the other Winnebagos!” she declared. “I can’t live without them. I want Sahwah and Nakwisi and Medmangi, and I want Katherine! Oh-h-h-h, I want Katherine! How will we ever get along without her here?”
And we both sat there and wanted you so hard that it seemed as if the heavens must open up and drop you down on the bed beside us. Katherine, do you know that you have ruined our whole lives? Why, O why did you come to us only to go away again? You got us so in the habit of looking to you to tell us what to do next that now we aren’t able to start a thing for ourselves. We knew that if you had been there with us that first week you would have had the whole house in an uproar and something wonderful would have been happening every minute. But for the life of us we couldn’t think of a single thing to do for ourselves.
We were still sitting there steeped in gloom when Migwan came in to see how we were getting on. She had some delicious milk chocolate with her and that cheered Hinpoha up quite a bit. It’s going to be a heavenly comfort to have Migwan just ahead of us in college. She knows all the ropes and the teachers and the gossip about the upper classmen and tells us things that keep us from making the ridiculous mistakes so many of the freshmen make all the time.
“But just think how I felt here, all alone, last year,” said Migwan. “Perhaps I didn’t miss you girls, though! You were still altogether and had Nyoda, but here there wasn’t a soul who had ever heard of the Winnebagos. Now it seems like old times again. Think of it, three whole Winnebagos living together almost under the same roof! Didn’t we say that night when we had our last Council Fire with Nyoda that although we couldn’t be together any more, we were still Winnebagos and were loyal friends and true, and that wherever two Winnebagos should meet, whether it was in the street, or on mid-ocean, or in a far country, right then and there would take place a Winnebago meeting? Why, we’re having a Winnebago meeting this very minute!”
“Let’s keep on having meetings, as often as we can, just us three,” said Hinpoha, “and talk over old times and have ‘Counts.’ We can call ourselves The Last of the Winnebagos, like the Last of the Mohicans, and our password will be ‘Remember!’ That means, ‘Remember the old days!’”
Migwan smiled a little mysteriously, but she agreed that it was a fine idea.
We three sat down on the floor in a Wohelo triangle and repeated our Desire and promised to seek beauty in everything that came along, and to give service to all the other girls in college whenever we had the chance, and to pursue knowledge for all we were worth now that there was so much of it on every side of us, and to be trustworthy and obey all the rules to the smallest detail and never cheat at exams, and to glorify work until everybody noticed how well we did everything, and hold on to health by not sitting up late studying and eating horrible messes, and to be happy all the time and try to like every girl in college.
“Let’s clasp hands on it,” said Hinpoha, and we did, and then stood up and sang “Wohelo for Aye” until the window rattled. (It’s awfully loose and rattles at the slightest pretext.)
We had just gotten to the last “Wohelo for Love” when all of a sudden a face appeared at the window. We were all so surprised we stopped short and the last syllable of “Wohelo” was chopped off as if somebody had taken a knife. Our room is on the third floor, and for anyone to look in at the window they would have to be suspended in the air. So when that head appeared without any warning we all stood petrified and stared open-mouthed. It was a girl’s head with very black hair and very red lips. At first the face just looked at us; then when it saw our amazement it grinned from ear to ear in the widest grin I ever saw.
“Did I scare you?” said the face in a voice so rich and deep that we jumped again. “No, I’m not Hamlet, thy father’s ghost, I’m Agony, thy next door neighbor. I heard you singing ‘Wohelo for Aye’ and I just looked in to see if I could believe my ears.”
We all ran to the window and then we saw how easily the thing had been done. Our window is right up against the corner of our room and the window in the other room is right next to it, so that all the apparition had to do was lean out of her window and look into ours, which was open from the bottom.
“Come on over!” we urged hospitably.
The apparition withdrew from the window and appeared a moment later in the doorway, leading a second apparition.
“I brought my better half along,” said the deep, rich voice again, as the two girls came into the room.
They looked so much alike that we knew at a glance they were sisters. The one who had looked in at the window did the introducing.
“We’re the Wing twins,” she said, as if she took it for granted that we had heard about them already. “She’s Oh-Pshaw and I’m Agony.”
“Oh-Pshaw and Agony?” we repeated wonderingly, whereupon the twins burst out laughing.
“Oh, those are not our real names,” said Agony, “but we’ve been called that so long that it seems as if they were. Her name’s Alta and mine’s Agnes. I’ve been nicknamed Agony ever since I can remember, and Alta got the habit of saying ‘Oh-Pshaw!’ at everything until the girls at the boarding school where we went always called her that and the name stuck. You pronounce it this way, ‘Oh-Pshaw,’ with the accent on the ‘Oh.’”
We were friends all in a minute. How in the world could you be stiff and formal with two girls whose names were Agony and Oh-Pshaw?
“We heard you singing ‘Wohelo for Aye,’” Agony explained, “and it made us so homesick we almost went up in smoke. We belonged to the corkingest group back home. It nearly killed us off to go away and leave them.”
Here Oh-Pshaw broke in and took up the tale. “When we heard that song coming from next door Agony squealed, ‘Camp Fire Girls!’ and began to dance a jig. She wouldn’t wait until I got my hair done so we could come over and call; she just stretched her neck until it reached into your window. Oh, I’m so glad you’re next door to us I could just pass away!” And Oh-Pshaw caught Agony around the neck and they both lost their balance on the foot of the bed and rolled over on the pillows.
“I’m sorry you have such dandy nicknames,” said Migwan. “If you didn’t have them we could call you First Apparition and Second Apparition, like Macbeth, you know. But the ones you have are far superior to anything we could think up now.”
Then we told them about the Winnebagos and about you and Sahwah and the rest of them, and how we had formed THE LAST OF THE WINNEBAGOS and meant to have meetings right along. Of course, we asked them to come and “Remember” their lost group with us, and they were perfectly wild about it.
“Let’s have our first meeting right now,” proposed Agony, “and go on a long hike. It’s a scrumptious day.”
We flew to get our hats and Hinpoha was in such a hurry that she knocked over the Japanese screen that stands gracefully across one corner of our room and that brought to light the pile of things that we just naturally couldn’t fit into the room anywhere and had chucked behind the screen until we decided how to get rid of them. There was Hinpoha’s desk lamp, the one with the light green shade with bunches of purple grapes on it—a perfect beauty, only there was no room for it after we’d decided to use mine with the two lamps in it; and an extra rug and a book rack and a Rookwood bowl and quantities of pictures. You see, we’d both brought along enough stuff to furnish a room twice the size of ours.
“Whatever will we do with those things?” sighed Hinpoha in despair.
“Can’t you give them to somebody?” suggested Migwan. “That lamp and that vase are perfect beauties. I’d covet them myself if I didn’t have more now than I know what to do with.”
“The very thing!” said Hinpoha. “Here we promised not a half hour ago to ‘Give Service’ all the time, and yet we didn’t think of sharing our possessions. To whom shall we give them?”
“To Sally Prindle,” said Agony and Oh-Pshaw in one breath.
“Who’s Sally Prindle?” asked Hinpoha and I, also in chorus.
“She lives down at the other end of the hall in Purgatory,” said Agony, “in that tiny little box of a room at the head of the stairs. She’s working her way through college and waits on table for her board and does some of the upstairs work for her room, and she’s awfully poor. She hasn’t a thing in her room but the bare furniture—not a rug or a picture. She’d probably be crazy to get them.”
“Let’s give them to her right away,” said Hinpoha, beginning to gather things up in her arms. Hinpoha is just like a whirlwind when she gets enthusiastic about anything.
“But how shall we give them to her?” I asked. “We don’t know her, and she might feel offended if she thought we had noticed how bare her room was and pitied her. How shall we manage it, Migwan?”
“Don’t act as if you pitied her at all,” replied Migwan. “Simply knock at her door and tell her you’ve got your room all furnished and there are some things left over and you’re going up and down the corridor trying to find out if anybody has room to take care of them for you until the end of the year. Of course she has room to take them, so it will be very simple.”
“Oh, Migwan, what would we do without you?” cried Hinpoha, and nearly dropped the Rookwood bowl trying to hug her with her arms full. “You always know the right thing to do and say.”
Agony and Oh-Pshaw stopped into their room on the way up and came out with a leather pillow and an ivory clock to add to the collection. Their room wasn’t too full, but they wanted to do something for Sally, too. We had to knock on Sally’s door twice before she opened it and we were beginning to be afraid she wasn’t at home. When she did come to the door she didn’t ask us in; but just stood looking at us and our armful of things as if to ask what we wanted. She was a tall, stoop-shouldered girl with spectacles and a wrinkle running up and down on her forehead between her eyes. The room was just as bare as Agony had described; it looked like a cell.
“We’re making a tour of Purgatory trying to dispose of our surplus furniture,” I said, trying to be offhand, “Have you any room to spare?”
“No, I haven’t,” answered Sally with a snap. “You’re the third bunch to-day that’s tried to decorate my room for me. When I want any donations I’ll ask for them.” And she shut the door right in our faces.
We backed away in such a hurry that Agony dropped the clock and it went rolling and bumping down the stairway.
“Of all things!” said Agony. “I wish poor people wouldn’t be so disagreeable about it. I’m sure I’d be tickled to death to use anybody’s surplus to make up what I lacked. Well, we’ve tried to ‘Give Service’ anyway, and if it didn’t work it wasn’t our fault. I think there ought to be a law about ‘Taking Service’ as well as Giving. Now let’s hurry up and go for our hike before the sun goes down.”
We went out and had the most glorious tramp over the hills and found a tiny little village that looks the same as it must have a hundred years ago, and then we came back and had hot chocolate in a darling little shop that was just jammed with students. Agony and Oh-Pshaw know just quantities of girls, and introduced us to dozens, and we went back to Purgatory too happy to think.
“I told you so,” said Migwan, as she came into the room with us for a minute to get a book.
“What did you tell us?” asked Hinpoha.
“I meant about us three trying to have meetings just by ourselves and trying to do exactly what we did when we were Winnebagos. It won’t work. You’ll keep on making new friends all the time that you’ll love just as much as the old ones. Don’t forget the old Winnebagos, but don’t mourn because the old days have come to an end. There’s more fun coming to you than you’ve ever had before in your lives, so be on the lookout for it every minute. ‘Remember!’”
Oh, Katherine, we just love college, and the only fly in the ointment is that you aren’t here!
P. S. Medmangi writes that she has passed her exams and entered the Medical School. Sahwah is going to Business College and having the time of her life with shorthand. P.P.S. Hinpoha is dying of curiosity to hear more about the sick man. Please answer by return mail.
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