Jane read the letter rapidly and Sue, looking over her shoulder, kept pace with her. It was from Hubert Speidel, personnel manager of Federated Airways.
“My dear Miss Hardy,” the letter began. “For some time Federated Airways has been considering a plan to improve its service to passengers and to provide even further for their welfare and comfort while they are guests aboard our transport planes. We have come to the conclusion that the addition of a stewardess to our flying crews is essential and at present we are contacting young women who might be interested in this work. Our first requirement is that the prospective stewardess be a graduate nurse. Hence, this letter is directed to you.
“I have consulted a number of eminent physicians and they have highly recommended the nurses’ training school of Good Samaritan hospital for the high calibre of young women who are graduated. I will appreciate your contacting any of the girls who might be interested in joining our air line as stewardesses. On your recommendation, we will provide passage for them to come to Chicago where they will undergo the necessary examinations. Girls who weigh more than 120 pounds or who are more than five feet four inches tall can not be used.”
Sue looked expectantly at Jane when they finished the letter.
“Well, what do you think of that?” she asked.
“I think it’s a great opportunity,” replied Jane. “It’s a real chance to get into a new field for girls. Air travel is developing rapidly and perhaps we can grow with it.”
Jane handed the letter back to Miss Hardy.
“It seems to me like a very dangerous type of work,” the supervisor of nurses said.
“I don’t think it would be any more dangerous than the everyday things we do. I’ve noticed advertisements of the Federated Airways. Their planes have flown thirty-five million miles without a fatal injury to a passenger. If I can go that far without getting hurt very seriously, I’ll consider myself lucky.”
“You’ve always been lucky,” retorted Miss Hardy, as a seldom-seen smile flickered over her face.
“I guess both of you have thought me pretty much of a tyrant,” she went on, removing the spectacles and smoothing back her straight, grey-streaked hair. “I’ll admit I’ve been unnecessarily harsh with you on occasions, but it was all a part of my system. Some day you’ll thank me for it for you are the best young nurses Good Samaritan has turned out in many a year.”
“But, Miss Hardy,” protested Sue, “we thought you had a grudge against us. Usually we had all of the mean little things to do.”
“I know, but I was just testing the kind of spirit you had. You came through fighting a hundred per cent and even now, when I spoke discouragingly of this possible work with the air line, you showed your determination. I am convinced that this is a real opportunity and I should have been greatly disappointed if you had not shown a keen interest in its possibilities.”
Miss Hardy’s eyes were twinkling and Jane and Sue were astonished. Behind the hard, outer shell of the martinet they had known beamed now a very warm and friendly personality. For the first time in three years they felt they really knew Miss Hardy and each was a little ashamed of the harsh things they had said about the supervisor.
“Are you both interested in going to Chicago and personally applying for positions with the Federated system?” asked the supervisor.
Jane and Sue replied in unison and Miss Hardy picked up the telephone directory and after ascertaining the number of the local field of the Federated line, dialed the airport.
The night operations manager answered and Miss Hardy informed him that she had two graduate nurses who needed transportation to Chicago for an interview with the personnel officer.
“When do you think we’ll go in?” Sue whispered to the supervisor.
“That will depend on when there is space,” replied Miss Hardy. “I expect that since you will be traveling on passes it will be a day or two.”
Sue thought of the small sum in cash she had and wondered just how she would subsist in Chicago if she failed to get the job as stewardess.
Miss Hardy jotted several notations on the pad beside her phone, thanked the operations manager, and looked up at the girls.
“The first plane eastbound for Chicago with room for you will be through at three o’clock this morning. That will get you there shortly after seven. Can you get ready by that time?”
“We can be ready in half an hour,” gasped Jane.
“I thought you could. That’s why I told the operations manager to arrange for your passage on the three o’clock plane.”
“I’ll have to finish packing,” said Sue.
Miss Hardy looked at the clock.
“It’s midnight now. If I were you I’d go to the dorm and go to bed. Sleep until two o’clock. I’ll come in and call you in plenty of time to get dressed and get to the airport. Don’t pack anything except what you’ll need for a night or two. If you secure the positions with Federated Airways, you can write to me and I’ll have your things sent in.”
“That’s kind of you. Thanks so much,” said Jane.
“I’m just making up, a bit, for the grind I put you through in the last three years. Now get along to bed and don’t wake the rest of the girls by talking. A couple of hours of sleep will be the best for both of you. I’ll call you in plenty of time.”
Jane and Sue left the supervisor’s office and hurried down the hall.
“What do you think of it?” asked Sue.
“First of all, I think Miss Hardy’s an old dear, and as for the chance to become a stewardess, my vote is unanimous.”
“So is mine, but I’ve never been up in a plane before. I’m going to be just a little nervous.”
“I’ve never been up, either,” confessed Jane, “but it certainly won’t be any worse than riding in an express elevator. Why, the pit just drops out of my stomach every time I get in one of those things.”
They entered the dormitory and went quickly to their own beds. They undressed in the dark and hung their clothes in the lockers which stood at the head of each bed.
Jane slipped between the cool, crisp sheets and closed her eyes. But sleep did not come readily. She was too tense, too excited at the events of the last few minutes.
Earlier in the evening she had been wondering, a little desperately, just what she would do. Now there was a fair chance that she would become one of the pioneers in this new profession for girls. And Sue was going with her. That was what made Jane supremely happy. It would have been tragic to disrupt the bonds of friendship that had grown so close through the trying days of their training.
Then there was Miss Hardy. What a revelation she had been. Jane smiled as she recalled the friendly look in Miss Hardy’s eyes. After all, the supervisor had been doing the best thing for them even though many of the tasks she had placed on their shoulders during training had been extremely disagreeable.
Jane wondered what her father and mother would say if she got the job in Chicago. It might take more than a little diplomacy to win them over to her side.
In the next bed, Sue was breathing regularly and deeply and a little later Jane’s tensed nerves relaxed and she slept. It seemed as though she had been asleep for only a minute when Miss Hardy shook her gently and whispered, “It’s two o’clock and I have lunch ready in my office.”
Sue was already dressing, and Jane hurried into her clothes.
Jane had a pretty brown suit with beret to match while Sue wore a two-piece dress of heavy blue crepe. She had a spring coat of similar material and a close-fitting toque, also of blue crepe.
They tip-toed to the door of the dormitory and looked back for just a moment. This had been their home for three long years and there was just a touch of heartache as they stepped into the hall and Sue pulled the door shut.
Miss Hardy was waiting for them in her office. Spread on top of her desk was an appetizing lunch which the supervisor had prepared in the tiny kitchen which adjoined her office. There was a large plate of sandwiches and cups of hot chocolate.
“You shouldn’t have gone to all this trouble,” protested Jane.
“It wasn’t any trouble. I wanted to do it for I want you to have pleasant memories of Good Samaritan.”
“We’re going to take away a very pleasant memory of you,” promised Sue, as she finished a sandwich.
“I have written my own recommendation and a letter of introduction for you and I am also enclosing Mr. Speidel’s letter,” said Miss Hardy. “This should insure your seeing him tomorrow morning in Chicago. I’ll be anxious to know the outcome.”
“We’ll telegraph,” promised Sue. Then, remembering how little actual cash she had, she added, “That is, we’ll try to telegraph you.”
Miss Hardy smiled for she knew how little money most of the girls had when they left training school.