Frank Merriwell's Limit
The gray light of morning was creeping through the shades and
mingling with the artificial light. The combination made the members of
the party look rather wan and worn. Mrs. Hodge slept with her mouth
open. Browning snored.
"It's morning," said Elsie, with a weary sigh.
Hodge looked out again.
"I think we can call it dawn." he said.
"There is no hurry," said Frank. "We might as well make a full
might of it, Perhaps more tea will revive us. What's the matter with
Stubbs? He's silent as a clam."
"Haven't got anything to say," mumbled the little fellow, sourly.
"Well, it's the first time in months that your mouth has had a
rest-unless you were sleeping," laughed Frank.
"Very good, but rather too pointed, as the fish said when he
swallowed the bait," returned Bink.
"Griswold says you talk in your sleep," grinned Frank.
"Shoot Griswold! He's a -fabricator. Some day I'll sit on him
"How can you do it," laughed Stella "you're so soft."
That squealched Stubbs. He looked at her reproachfully for a
moment, and then announced that he was ready to throw up the sponge.
"I can't say anything back," he sighed, sadly.
He snapped the stub of his half-smoked cigarette at Browning and
it struck fairly on the big fellow's chin, with a burst of sparks. Bruce
awoke with a roar, and that caused Mrs. Hodge to start up. The big man
made a jump for Stubbs before he realized there were Ladies present, but
the little chap easily avoided him. Then Hodge again announced that
dawn had arrived.
"Never saw the Elephant move so sudden before," said Stubbs, from
behind a couch, where he had taken refuge.
"Dear, dear!" exclaimed Mrs. Hodge, looking round. "Have I been
"No, indeed," protested Browning; "but I'm afraid I dozed."
"You're a big sleepy-head, anyhow," said Stubbs, who was feeling
rather malicious and not at all good-natured.
"Mr. Hodge is a it anxious to get away" said Elsie.
Bart protested that he was not, but Mrs. Hodge rose hastily and
asserted that that such dissipation was very bad for college men, which
made Stubbs chuckle.
"Come, children," said the chaperone, in a motherly manner, "it
is time for us to go. Mr. Merriwell has been very kind."
"Mr. Merriwell!" exclaimed Merry, reproachfully.
"Frank, then, if you like it better," said Bart's mother.
"I do like it better," he nodded. "Won't you have some more tea,
Mrs. Hodge-something to brace you before going out?"
But she protested that she wished no more tea, and Merry threw
aside the curtains, allowing the full light of morning to enter by the
windows, outside which the bare trees were pointing toward the cold sky
with their sapless branches.
Inza looked out and shrugged her shapely shoulders.
"My!" she exclaimed, "I never dreamed it could seem so lonely
here. It must depress you when you see it like this."
"When he sees it like this!" chuckled Stubbs. "Don't believe that
ever happened before. We all have to make a sprint for it mornings to
get into our togs and reach chapel in time."
"That's because you stay up late nights", said Inza.
"Grinding," winked Frank, and Stubbs choked. "That's slang for
studying, you know."
"Do you have to study so hard?" said Mrs. Hodge, sympathetically.
"We do if we cut any ice," admitted Stubbs; "but most of us are
not in the ice business. It's only Merriwell and Badger who are greasy
"You forgot me," put in Browning.
"You!" sneered Stubbs. "No man in college ever knew you to study.
You'll never graduate unless you take a brace."
"Oh, the worst is over now," came shamelessly from the lazy
giant. "I've managed to crib along so far, and I've been dropped only
once, so I have hopes of going through."
"No one can call me a grind," said Frank. "I study when I can,
but that's not half what I ought."
"You're a phenom.," said Hodge. "You always managed to pull
through recitations, somehow."
"I'm afraid you are all very bad boys," smiled Mrs. Hodge, "and I
am not going to permit my girls to associate with you any more to-night."
"To-day," corrected Inza, with a laugh.
So they prepared to break up the party, and Badger found all
opportunity to whisper a few final words in the ear of Winnie, who
looked fresher and less wearied than the other girls.
Stella Stanley grasped Binks' arm and looked down at him
"You have deceived me!"
"Eh?" gasped Stubbs. "I must have been in a trance when I did
"I thought you were funny."
"Oh, hang it! I wish somebody thought something else of me! I
told you I was tired of being regarded as a clown."
"It's your only chance. I expected you to keep it up, but you have
failed. Henceforth I give smiles to you friend Griswold."
"My friend! Don't call him that! he's
no friend of mine! That little, sawed-off runt! I choose men for my
friends." And Bink stretched himself as much as possible in order to
reach the five foot mark.
There were hand-shakings and fare-wells. The girls told what a
"perfectly delightful" time they had enjoyed. Then they were escorted
down to the large closed cab Merry had waiting for them. The cab rolled
away, and it was over.
Back in his room, Frank dropped on an easy chair before the fire
that smouldered in the grate, and thought it over. He had been puzzled
by Elsie's behavior. She had not been cold or distant, and yet he had
obtained but two dances with her, against four with Inza. All her other
dances had been taken. She had seemed to prefer the company of Hodge,
and Bart had waltzed with her four times. Frank felt jealous, and yet he
wondered if he had any real right to feel so. Perhaps it was all
diplomacy on Elsie's part.
And lnza-well, she had been the belle of the prom. There was no
question about that. Elsie had been a great favorite, but it was dark-
eyed, dashing Inza who created the sensation. Every one sought an
introduction to her, or asked questions about her. Every one envied
Frank because he knew her so well.
There he sat, with the fire dying out on the hearth, thinking and
wondering, when there came a knock on the door.
"Come in," he called, surprised.
But he was still more surprised when Buck Badger entered.