THE WIND ROARS
Janet was home in plenty of time to dress in leisure for the skating party. Her mother looked in once to make sure that she had plenty of warm clothes on.
“I’m glad you’re wearing that old tweed outfit. It’s warm and at the same time nice looking.”
“Even though it’s old, mother?”
“Even though it’s old. Tweed always looks nice and that’s an especially pretty shade of brown. It goes so well with your hair. Wear your scarlet beret and don’t forget the boots.”
“I won’t,” promised Janet as her mother started downstairs again.
The Hardy home was pleasant, even though decidedly old-fashioned. There was a broad porch completely across the front of the house. The house itself was L-shaped, the base of the L having been added after the original structure was built. The exterior was shingled and creeping vines softened the sharper angles.
Janet’s room had a south exposure with two dormer windows that added to the many angles of the low-ceilinged rambling room. The wall paper was pink and white with gay farm scenes interspersed. Crisp chintz curtains were at the windows and a gay curtain hid the large, old-fashioned wardrobe at one end of the room in which she kept her clothes.
Her dressing table was between the dormers with a rose-colored shade on the electric light.
The bed, a walnut four poster, was against the wall nearest the hall. A gay, pink-tufted spread covered it. At one side was a small walnut stand with a shaded reading lamp.
Hooked rugs, reflecting the cheery tone of the room in their varied colors, covered the dark, polished floor.
Over in the far corner, where the roof sloped sharply, Janet had built a book case and stained it brown. It was filled with books, arranged in none too perfect order, showing the interest she had in them.
But Janet had little time now to relax in the charm of her room. Parting the curtain of the wardrobe she found her tweed suit far to the back. Her boots were back there too, but they had been well oiled and were pliable.
From a walnut chest of drawers which stood beside the wardrobe Janet drew woolen socks for it was an 18-mile ride to Youde’s and they probably wouldn’t be home until late.
Janet dressed sensibly, woolen hose, heavy tweed skirt, a blue, shaggy wool sweater and her tweed coat. The crimson beret would be warm enough.
She glanced at the clock. She had spent more time than she had anticipated, it was after 4:30 and Whet’s drug store where they were to meet the bus was a good six blocks away.
Janet hurried downstairs.
“I’ve a cup of tea and some cookies all ready,” her mother called.
It would be after six o’clock before they ate and Janet drank the tea with relish. The cookies, crisp and filled with raisins, were delicious and she put several in the pockets of her coat.
“I put your old fur coat in the hall,” said Mrs. Hardy. “Your scarf’s there, too.”
“Thanks mother. I’m certainly going to be too warm.”
Her mother went to the window. It was nearly dark and the snow still swirled down in dry, feathery clouds.
“I almost wish you weren’t going,” she said, “but there doesn’t seem to be any wind.”
“Oh, we’ll be all right, mother. The bus is large and if the weather should get bad we could stay at Youde’s until it clears. Remember Miss Bruder is chaperon and she’s extremely sensible.”
“She needs to be with your crowd on her hands,” smiled her mother, following Janet into the hall.
Janet slipped into her old coat. It wasn’t much to look at but it was warm and serviceable, one of those bunglesome coonskins that were so popular with college students at one time. She twisted her scarf around her neck, gave her mother a quick hug and kiss, and strode out of the house.
Janet kicked along through the dry snow, walking rapidly until she reached Helen Thorne’s home. There were no lights in the southeast room and Janet knew that Helen must be dressed for that was Helen’s room.
She whistled sharply, a long and a short, that penetrated the quick of the twilight.
The porch light flashed on and Helen, sticking her head out, yelled, “I’m coming.”
Helen hurried down the walk, wriggling into a suede jacket.
“Think that will be warm enough?” asked Janet, who felt very much bundled up in her coonskin.
“I’ve got my corduroy jacket underneath and a sweater under that. I’m practically sealed up against the cold, but I’ll run back and get my old coonskin.”
They swung along rapidly toward Whet’s scuffing through the dry snow.
“I like this,” said Helen, breathing deeply. “The snow’s grand and it isn’t too cold. Wonder if they’ll have any heat at Youde’s?”
“Oh, the dining room will be warm, but there’s only a fireplace out in the room where we skate. Wraps will probably feel good there until we get well warmed up from skating.”
Out of the haze ahead emerged the blob of light that marked the neighborhood drug store. As they approached they could see two or three standing near the front door of the store.
Ed Rickey, captain of the football team, jerked open the door.
“Greetings, wanderers of the storm. Enter and be of good cheer.”
They stamped the snow off their boots and stepped inside. Cora Dean and Margie Blake were there. Boon companions, they were seldom apart.
“Hello,” said Margie, but there was no warmth in the greeting.
“Hello,” replied Janet.
“You must think you’re going to the north pole,” put in Cora, as she looked Janet and Helen over coolly.
“Well, not quite that far, but we believe in being sensible and warm,” replied Helen, and Cora’s face flamed, for both she and Margie, always trying to make an impression, were dressed in fashionable riding breeches of serge. They were pleasing to look at, but hardly the thing for comfort on a night when the temperature might drop almost to zero. Instead of coats they wore zipper sweaters of angora wool. Their boots were fashionable, but light, and would be of little use in withstanding any severe cold.
“Here comes the bus,” said Ed Rickey, who was bundled up in nondescript clothes.
“All out that’s going to Youde’s,” he bellowed, imitating a train caller.
The bus ground to a stop in front of the store and the girls followed Ed across the curb. Jim Barron opened the door. The windows of the bus were heavily frosted for a heater was going full blast but the driver, a middle aged man, had a windshield wiper cutting a swath through the frost that formed on the glass in front of him.
Miss Bruder spoke as they came in.
“Everyone’s here,” announced Jim. “Find your seats. Next stop at Youde’s.”
There was plenty of room in the bus for the vehicle had a capacity of thirty and there were only eighteen in addition to the driver. Most of them found seats well to the fore where they could feel the blast of warm air from the heater.
Clarion was a sprawling city of 19,000, but in less than ten minutes they had left the street lights behind and were rolling along a smoothly paved highway.