Mary Louise and the Liberty Girls eBook: Page1

L. Frank Baum (2007)

  Produced by Michael Gray ([email protected])

  Mary Louiseand the Liberty Girls

  ByEdith Van Dyne

  Author of"Mary Louise," "Mary Louise in the Country,""Mary Louise Solves a Mystery,""The Aunt Jane's NiecesSeries," etc.

  Frontispiece byAlice Casey

  The Reilly & Lee Co.Chicago

  Copyright, 1918byThe Reilly & Britton Co.---_Made in the U.S.A._

  _Mary Louise and the Liberty Girls_


  The object of this little story is not especially to encourage loyaltyand devotion to one's country, for these are sentiments firmlyenshrined in the hearts of all true American girls. It is ratherintended to show what important tasks girls may accomplish when spurredon by patriotism, and that none is too humble to substantially serveher country.

  Organizations of Liberty Girls are possible in every city and hamlet inAmerica, and are effective not only in times of war but in times ofpeace, for always their Country needs them--always there is work fortheir busy hands.

  One other message the story hopes to carry--the message of charitytowards all and malice towards none. When shadows are darkest, thosewho can lighten the gloom are indeed the blessed ones.




  Mary Louiseand the Liberty Girls


  One might reasonably think that "all Dorfield" had turned out to attendthe much advertised meeting. The masses completely filled the bigpublic square. The flaring torches, placed at set intervals, lightedfitfully the faces of the people--faces sober, earnest, thoughtful--allturned in the direction of the speakers' platform.

  Mr. Peter Conant, the Chairman, a prominent attorney of Dorfield, wasintroducing the orator of the evening, Colonel James Hathaway, whoseslender, erect form and handsome features crowned with snow-white hair,arrested the attention of all.

  "You have been told," began the old colonel in a clear, ringing voice,"of our Nation's imperative needs. Money must be provided to conductthe great war on which we have embarked--money for our new army, moneyfor ship-building, money for our allies. And the people of America arepermitted to show their loyalty and patriotism by subscribing forbonds--bonds of the rich and powerful United States--that all mayparticipate in our noble struggle for the salvation of democracy andthe peace of the world. These bonds, which you are asked to buy, bearinterest; you will be investing in the Corporation of Right, Justiceand Freedom, with the security of the Nation as your shield. As astockholder in this noblest of corporations you risk nothing, but yougain the distinction of personally assisting to defeat Civilization'sdefiant and ruthless enemy."

  Loud applause interrupted the speaker. On one of the rows of seats atthe back of the stand sat Mary Louise Burrows, the granddaughter ofColonel Hathaway, with several of her girl friends, and her heartleaped with pride to witness the ovation accorded her dear "Gran'paJim."

  With well chosen words the old gentleman continued his discourse,stating succinctly the necessity of the Liberty Bond issue andimpressing upon his hearers the righteousness of the cause for whichthis money was required.

  "The allotment of Dorfield," he added, "is one million dollars,seemingly a huge sum for our little city to raise and invest, butreally insignificant when apportioned among those who can afford tosubscribe. There is not a man among you who cannot without hardshippurchase at least one fifty-dollar bond. Many of you can investthousands. Yet we are approaching our time limit and, so far, less thantwo hundred thousand dollars' worth of these magnificent Liberty Bondshave been purchased in our community! But five days remain to us tosubscribe the remaining eight hundred thousand dollars, and therebypreserve the honor of our fair city. That eight hundred thousanddollars will be subscribed! We _must_ subscribe it; else will thefinger of scorn justly be pointed at us forever after."

  Another round of applause. Mr. Conant, and Mr. Jaswell, the banker, andother prominent members of the Liberty Loan Committee began to lookencouraged and to take heart.

  "Of course they'll subscribe it!" whispered Mary Louise to her friendAlora Jones. "The thing has looked like a failure, lately, but I knewif Gran'pa Jim talked to the slackers, they'd see their plain duty.Gran'pa Jim knows how to stir them to action."

  Gradually the applause subsided. The faces of the multitude thatthronged about the stand seemed to Mary Louise stern and resolved,determined to prove their loyalty and devotion to their country.

  And now Mr. Jaswell advanced and seated himself at a table, while Mr.Conant requested those present to come forward and enter theirsubscriptions for the bonds. He urged them to subscribe generously, inproportion to their means, and asked them not to crowd but to pass inline across the platform as swiftly as possible.

  "Let us raise that entire eight hundred thousand to-night!" shouted theColonel, in clarion tones. Then the band struck up a popular war tune,and the banker dipped a pen in ink and held it ready for the onslaughtof signers.

  But no one came forward. Each man looked curiously at his neighbor butstood fast in his place. The city, even to its furthermost suburbs, hadalready been systematically canvassed by the Committee and theirefforts had resulted in a bare two hundred thousand dollars. Of thissum, Colonel Hathaway had himself subscribed twenty-five thousand.Noting the hesitation of his townsmen, the old gentleman again aroseand faced them. The band had stopped playing and there was an ominoussilence.

  "Let me encourage you," said Colonel Hathaway, "by taking anothertwenty-five thousand dollars' worth of these wonderful bonds. Put medown for that amount, Mr. Jaswell. Now, then, who are the patriotseager to follow my lead!"

  There was applause--somewhat more mild in character--but none cameforward. Alora's father, Jason Jones, who had already signed for fiftythousand dollars, rose and added another twenty-five thousand to thatsum. This act elicited another ripple of applause; more questioninglooks were exchanged between those assembled, but there were no furtheroffers to subscribe.

  The hearts of the committeemen fell. Was this meeting, on which theyhad so greatly depended, destined to prove a failure, after all?

  Jake Kasker, the owner of "Kasker's Clothing Emporium," finally madehis way to the platform and mounting the steps faced his townspeople.There was a little murmur of surprise and a sudden tension. The man hadbeen distrusted in Dorfield, of late.

  "You all know what I think about this war," said Kasker in a loud voiceand with a slight German accent. "I don't approve of it, whateveranyone says, and I think we were wrong to get into it, anyhow."

  A storm of hisses and cries of "Shame!" saluted him, but he waitedstolidly for the demonstration to subside. Then he continued:

  "But, whatever I think about the war, I want to tell you that this flagthat now waves over my head is as much _my_ flag as it is _yours,_ forI'm an American citizen. Where that flag goes, Jake Kasker will follow,no matter what fools carry the standard. If they don't think I'm tooold to go to France, I'll pack up and go to-morrow. That's JakeKasker--with a Dutch name but a Yankee heart. Some of you down there gotYankee names an' hearts that make the Kaiser laugh. I wouldn't tradewith you! Now, hear this: I ain't rich
; you know that; but I'll taketwo thousand dollars' worth of Liberty Bonds."

  Some one laughed, jeeringly. Another shouted:

  "Make it three thousand, Jake!"

  "I will," said Kasker; "and, if there ain't enough of you war-crazy,yellow-hearted patriots in Dorfield to take what we got to take, thenI'll make it five thousand. But if I have to do that--an' I can'tafford it, but I'll do it!--it's me, Jake Kasker, that'll cry 'Shame!'and hiss like a goose whenever you slackers pass my door."

  There was more laughter, a few angry shouts, and a movement toward theplatform. The German signed the paper Mr. Jaswell placed before him andwithdrew. Soon there was a line extending from the banker's table tothe crowd below, and the signatures for bonds were slowly but steadilysecured.

  Colonel Hathaway faced the German clothier, who stood a few paces back,a cynical grin upon his features.

  "Thank you, Kasker," said the old gentleman, in a cold voice. "You havereally helped us, although you should have omitted those traitorouswords. They poisoned a deed you might have been proud of."

  "We don't agree, Colonel," replied Kasker, with a shrug. "When I talk,I'm honest; I say what I think." He turned and walked away and ColonelHathaway looked after him with an expression of dislike.

  "I wonder why he did it?" whispered Mary Louise, who had overheard theexchange of words and marked Kasker's dogged opposition.

  "He bought the bonds as a matter of business," replied Laura Hilton."It's a safe investment, and Kasker knows it. Besides that, he may havean idea it would disarm suspicion."

  "Also," added Alora Jones, "he took advantage of the opportunity toslam the war. That was worth something to a man like Kasker."


  When Mary Louise entered the library the next morning she found hergrandfather seated at the table, his head resting on his extended armsin an attitude of great depression. The young girl was startled.

  "What is it, Gran'pa Jim?" she asked, going to his side and laying ahand lovingly on his shoulder.

  The old gentleman looked up with a face drawn and gray.

  "I'm nervous and restless, my dear," he said; "that's all. Go tobreakfast, Mary Louise; I--I'll join you presently."

  She sat down on the arm of his chair.

  "Haven't you slept well, Gran'pa?" she asked anxiously, and then hereyes wandered through the open door to the next room and rested on theundisturbed bed. "Why, you haven't slept at all, dear!" she cried indistress. "What is wrong? Are you ill?"

  "No, no, Mary Louise; don't worry. I--I shall be all right presently.But--I was terribly disappointed in last night's meeting, and--"

  "I see. They didn't subscribe what they ought to. But you can't helpthat, Gran'pa Jim! You did all that was possible, and you mustn't takeit so much to heart."

  "It is so important, child; more important, I fear, than many of themguess. This will be a desperate war, and without the money to fight--"

  "Oh, the money'll come, Gran'pa; I'm sure of that. If Dorfield doesn'tdo it's duty, the rest of the country will, so you mustn't feel badlyabout our failure. In fact, we haven't failed, as yet. How much didthey subscribe last night?"

  "In all, a hundred and thirty thousand. We have now secured barely athird of our allotment, and only five days more to get the balance!"

  Mary Louise reflected, eyeing him seriously.

  "Gran'pa," said she, "you've worn yourself out with work and worry.They ought not to have put you on this Liberty Bond Committee; you'retoo old, and you're not well or strong enough to endure all the anxietyand hard work."

  "For the honor of--"

  "Yes, I know, dear. Our country needs you, so you mustn't break down.Now come and drink a cup of coffee and I'll talk to you. I've a secretto tell you."

  He smiled, rather wanly and hopelessly, but he permitted the girl toassist him to rise and to lead him to the breakfast room. There MaryLouise poured his coffee and attacked her own breakfast, although withindifferent appetite.

  Gran'pa Jim was the only relative she had in all the world and sheloved him devotedly. Their life in the pretty little town had beenpeaceful and happy until recently--until the war. But the old Colonel,loyal veteran that he was, promptly made it _his_ war and was roused asMary Louise had never seen him roused before. In his mind was noquestion of the justice of our country's participation in the worldstruggle; he was proud to be an American and gloried in America'ssacrifice to the cause of humanity. Too old to fight on thebattlefield, he felt honored at his appointment to the membership ofthe Liberty Bond Committee and threw all his energies into the taskassigned him. So it is easy to understand that the coldness andreluctance to subscribe for bonds on the part of his fellow townsmenhad well nigh broken his heart.

  This the girl, his closest companion, fully appreciated.

  "Gran'pa," she said, regarding him across the table after their oldblack mammy, Aunt Sally, had left them together, "I love my country, asyou know; but I love _you_ better."

  "Oh, Mary Louise!"

  "It's true; and it's right that I should. If I had to choose betweenletting the Germans capture the United States, or losing you, I'd letthe Germans come! That's honest, and it's the way I feel. Love forone's country is a fine sentiment, but my love for you is deeper. Iwouldn't whisper this to anyone else, for no one else could understandit, but you will understand it, Gran'pa Jim, and you know my love foryou doesn't prevent my still being as good an American as the average.However," continued the young girl, in a lighter tone, "I've no desireto lose you or allow the Germans to whip us, if I can help it, so I'vegot two battles to fight. The truth is, Gran'pa, that you're used upwith the hard work of the last few weeks, and another five days ofbegging for subscriptions would wreck you entirely. So you're to stopshort--this very minute--and rest up and take it easy and not worry."

  "But--my dear!"

  "See here, Gran'pa Jim," with assumed sternness, "you've worked hard tosecure Dorfield's quota, and you've failed. Why, the biggestsubscribers for bonds in the whole city are you and Jason Jones!There's plenty of wealth in Dorfield, and over at the mills andfactories are thousands of workmen who can buy bonds; but you and yourCommittee don't know how to interest the people in your proposition.The people are loyal enough, but they don't understand, and you don'tunderstand how to make them understand."

  "No," he said, shaking his head dolefully, "they're a dense lot, and wecan't _make_ them understand."

  "Well, _I_ can," said Mary Louise, cheerfully.

  "You, child?"

  "Yes. You mustn't imagine I've tackled the problem this very morning;I've been considering it for some time, and I've talked and consultedwith Alora and Irene and Laura and the other girls about the best wayto redeem the situation. We knew the situation was desperate longbefore last night's meeting. So all our plans are made, and we believewe can sell all the bonds required. It was our policy to keep silentuntil we knew what the big mass-meeting last night would accomplish,but we suspected it would turn out just the way it did--a fizzle. Sothe job's up to us, and if you'll sit quiet, Gran'pa Jim, and let usgirls do the work, we'll put Dorfield in the honor column by Saturdaynight."

  "This is nonsense!" exclaimed the Colonel, but there was an accent ofhope in his voice, nevertheless.

  "We girls are thoroughly organized," said Mary Louise, "and we'll sellthe bonds."


  "Why, just think of it, Gran'pa. Who would refuse a group of younggirls--earnest and enthusiastic girls? The trouble with you men is thatyou accept all sorts of excuses. They tell you they're hard up andcan't spare the money; there's a mortgage to pay, or taxes or notes tomeet, and they can't afford it, anyway. But that kind of talk won't dowhen we girls get after them."

  "What arguments can you use that we have disregarded?"

  "First, we'll coax; then we'll appeal to their patriotism; then we'llthreaten them with scorn and opprobrium, which they'll richly deserveif they hang on till it comes to that. If the threats don't make 'embuy, we'll cry--and
every tear will sell a bond!"

  The Colonel stirred his coffee thoughtfully.

  "You might try it," he suggested. "I've read that in some cities theBoy Scouts have been successful in placing the bonds. It's an honorableundertaking, in any event, but--I hope you will meet with no insults."

  "If that rank pro-German, Jake Kasker, will buy bonds, there isn't aman in Dorfield who can give a logical excuse for not doing likewise,"declared Mary Louise. "I'm going to use Kasker to shame the rest ofthem. But, before I undertake this job, I shall make a condition,Gran'pa. You must stay quietly at home while we girls do the work."

  "Oh, I could not do that, Mary Louise."

  "You're not fit to leave the house. Will you try my plan for oneday--just for to-day."

  "I'll think it over, dear," he said, rising.

  She assisted him to the library and then ran down the street to thedoctor's office.

  "Dr. McGruer," she said, "go over at once and see my grandfather. He'scompletely exhausted with the work of selling Liberty