Frank Merriwell's Limit
THE DAWN PARTY.
Everybody yawned. A dawn party after the prom. is likely to be a dull
affair, and this one in Frank Merriwell's room was no exception to the
rule. All were tired. Even little Stubbs' fund of wit and repartee
seemed pretty well exhausted and he had almost given up his desperate
attempt to prove entertaining to Stella Stanley, with whom he had fallen
head-over-heels in love at first sight. Stella was tall and stately and
little Bink voted her a "peach", a "stunner," a "queen." When a Yale
man calls a girl a queen, he is giving her the highest possible
Stella had found both Stubbs and Griswold amusing little chaps,
and she enjoyed being amused. She did not know they had come to the
verge of blows over her; she did not know that Griswold had sworn that
he would have Stubbs' heart's blood. But Bink had carried her off in
triumph to Merry's dawn party after the prom., and he was the happiest
fellow in New Haven. He was hard hit; possibly that explains his sudden
loss of sprightliness and wit. He longed to sit
still, hold her hand, and gaze into her face; but Stella was not
one of the handholding kind, and it did not go with her.
"What's the matter with you?" she laughed. "You were awfully
funny an hour ago. Drinking tea seems to have dampened your spirits."
"Oh," said Browning with a lazy grin, "the spirits which preceded
the tea were damp enough The tea seems to have dried them up."
"If it will dry you up, take some more tea-do," begged Bink.
"Now you are beginning to talk foolishly," declared Bink.
"I do that so that you may understand me," shot back the little
Browning grunted. He could not think of anything just then that
seemed to fit the occasion, and so he turned to renew his attempt to
entertain Mrs. Hodge, who was chaperoning the party. He found her lying
back in her chair, her eyes closed, apparently asleep.
"Hush!" he said, with a warning gesture to the others.
There was silence for the space of ten seconds. It was broken by
Hodge, who observed:
"It must be nearly morning. He rose and looked out of the window,
drawing the curtains aside for the purpose. The ground was bare on the
campus and a grayish sky could be seen over the leafless trees. "It
looks like spring," Bart added. "I believe we shall have an early
"I think so myself," said Bink. "Only yesterday I saw a cat
watching a hole in the wall with her back arched, and I consider that a
sure sign of an early spring."
Hodge dropped the curtain and sat down beside Elsie Bellwood
again. Close by, Frank was murmuring something to Inza Burrage.
"You're doing better, my little man," said Stella Stanley,
patting Stubbs on the back.
"Don't do that-please don't!" entreated Bink. "'Little man!' It
makes me warm."
"Small pots get hot quickly," smiled the actress.
Browning chuckled revengefully, but Bink paid no attention to
him. Instead, he lowered his voice, saying:
"Miss Stanley, to-night we met for the first time in person, but
I feel that we have met before in spirit."
"Do you?" she murmured, lifting her eyebrows.
"I do. I am serious. Please don't smile. I have pictured you in
my mind a thousand times, divinely tall, graceful as a goddess,
beautiful as a-a-anything. You're it! I said so the moment my eyes
rested on you. I felt something in my heart that I had never felt there
before- a pain that--"
"My dear fellow, you should consult a physician at once. I'm sure
you smoke too many cigarettes. That's bad for the heart, you know."
"Now you're guying. Don't guy! I'm serious. I love you!"
"Ha! ha! ha! I believe you are more comical when you try to be
serious than when you try to be funny. You don't know how amusing you
really and truly are."
Bink looked pained. He tried to take her hand, but again it
avoided his itching fingers.
"Listen to me!" he breathed. "I'm getting desperate! I don't like
to be taken for a clown all the time. People seem to think everything I
say is in jest."
"That's not 'jest' right," smiled Stella.
"Don't pun! I can't stand it! I swear I'll never pull again!
Won't you take me seriously once?"
"Oh, no; I'll not take you at all. You're a goose! You've been
very entertaining. Don't spoil it."
Bink realized that it wouldn't "go."
"It's all because of my size!" he hissed. "I'm not to blame for
that! If you won't listen, I-I-I'll--"
"I'll commit suicide as fast as I can! Browning, hand me the
But Bruce was dozing. Stubbs looked round helplessly. Hodge was
doing his best to entertain Elsie, while Frank continued to talk to
Inza. In a corner Buck Badger and Winnie Lee seemed very contented.
"It's enough to drive anybody to suicide!" declared the little
fellow, pathetically, getting the cigarettes for himself. "I'm the only
out that's left. Every other fellow is satisfied, even Browning."
"Did you ever hear," said Stella, "that the general prizes most
the fort that takes the longest siege?"
"Then you do mean--"
She was baffling, and that made her all the more fascinating. He
asked permission to light the cigarette, and she granted it. Then she
begged him to tell her something funny, and he desperately tried to
comply, but he was not nearly as funny as when he did not try at all.
The gray light began to sift in through the curtains.
"Won't you have some more tea?" asked Frank rising.
But nobody wanted tea.
"Tired out, done up," said Merry. "I don't wonder. Elsie looks
completely fagged; so does Inza."
"I danced almost every dance," declared Elsie.
"And an average waltz," said Merry, "takes a person over about
three-quarters of a mile. A square dance takes one over half a mile.
Your programmes were well filled. You danced twelve waltzes and four
square dances. That's eleven miles. It's likely that in strolling about
and visiting the dressing room, you traveled nearly another mile. You
see you have covered twelve-miles each to-night, which is pretty strong
"It makes me tired to think of it!" laughed Elsie.
"But the music, the flowers, the lights, and the handsome boys!"
exclaimed Inza. "It was splendid! I've had the loveliest time of my
"And I enjoyed it intensely," smiled Elsie, a bit wearily.
"It was good of you to invite us to come, Frank."
"Not at all; it was good of you to come. Think how lonesome I
should have been if you had not."
"Now, that won't do with us!" cried Elsie, shaking a finger a
him. "You were the most popular man on the floor. Every girl ran after
you. If we'd not been here, Inza--"
"I know," laughed Inza. "But he's not to blame. It's a wonder to
me that all this attention has not spoiled him completely."
"It has," declared Hodge.
"How?" they gasped.
"Why, he's been so afraid of getting the swelled head that he's
grown soft. He picks up any old thing. He lets any kind of fellow insult
him, and then he is friendly with that fellow."
Badger looked across at Bart, but Hodge was paying no attention
"I can't think that of Frank," said Inza slowly.
"Frank is always just," declared Elsie.
"You're wrong," persisted Bart. "Justice means retribution for
the fellow who is nasty.. Merry lets him off."
"Not always, Bart," protested Frank.
"Convince me that a fellow is thoroughly bad, and I'll aid in
giving him his just and merited dues."
"That's all very fine, but you won't be convinced."
"Oh, yes, I will! I have been more than once."
"When a man kicks me," said Bart, "I kick back. If a man kicks me
when I'm down, I kick him twice when I get up."
Badger moved restlessly.
"What's the matter?" asked Winnie Lee, who had been so interested
in her own chatter that she had not noticed what the others were saying.
"Why do you scowl so?"
"I beg your pardon!" Buck exclaimed, in a low tone. "Did I scowl
"Oh, you looked black as a thundercloud!"
"I didn't know it. But it's like me, Miss Lee. I hope you won't
mind it much. I reckon I have some unpleasant ways, but you know I'm a
Westerner, and I have not the polish of these Eastern chaps I'll acquire
it in time, don't you think?"
"I rather like you just as you are," confessed Winnie.
"Do you?" he whispered, and the look of pleasure that came to
his face made it almost handsome. "If you really and truly like me, I do
not care who dislikes me."
"But I wish you might be friends with Frank Merriwell. Can't
Buck drew back.
"It's a mighty hard thing," he said slowly. "I don't like him,
and I'll allow he has no cause for liking me. Anyhow, I've taken pains
never to give him reason to like me."
"He may not like you," said Winnie "but he has confidence in your
honesty. Won't you try to be friends with him-for my sake!"
She was unusually sweet and pleading in her manner.
"For your sake," said Badger, huskily, "I'll try-I'll try!"