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TOBOGGANING

Girlie

By Kingsley Moses

Everybody called him "Girlie." A girl had rescued him from drowning; a girl had dared him to follow her across thin ice; he even looked like a girl! But when it came to the great bobsled race

CHILDREN spilled out over the snowy roadway as if the red schoolhouse had suddenly been blown empty by a giant vacuum cleaner.

In sweaters, reefers and woolen coats and caps they pelted each other with the fresh, damp snow, whooping and yelling in the joy of freedom from another day's confinement. Right into their midst a big automobile came round the sharp bend in the road, unnoticed.

It was a miracle that no one was hurt; but the car, squeaking and slewing, and tossing chunks of snow from its locked wheels, stopped just short of the nearest little group. The Hilltop Road turned here after a sharp descent of almost two miles, turned that it might not run straight on into the deep chasm of Powder River. The car, coming up the hill, had put on speed for the long ascent, and the driver had evidently forgotten that country schoolhouse around the blind bend.

In front of the suddenly stalled car the children scattered in panic; then, quickly recognizing the figure at the wheel, burst into shrill cries.

"Yah—Girlie! Whyn't you look out where you're goin'!"

"Girlie—Girlie—Girlie!" came the shrill treble of a group of twelve-year-olds.

The face of the driver of the car flushed as red as the tam-o'-shanter of the youngster who had shrilled the loudest. And it was an extraordinarily handsome face, pink-skinned, oval, with rather full, red lips, blue eyes, and long sweeping eyelashes. Handsome—the face was positively pretty.

And that was the sorrow Tommy Evans was forced to bear; to have a face any girl would have envied—and yet to be a man.

For Tommy certainly considered himself a man. Wasn't he eighteen years old; in his first year at college? Yet, despite all that, despite the fact that he already owned a razor—though he had not yet been able to use it—despite his years and his feeling of dignity, here was this hateful nickname being thrown at him once more by a rowdy bunch of "kids." It was unbearable. He'd jump out and spank—

Yes, that would be a fine way to behave! Instead, with a harsh honk of his horn, he let out his clutch and put his foot on the accelerator. The "kids" scattered in front of him. But their shrieks and jeers followed him for a quarter of a mile. It was a cold day; but it wasn't the cold that made his ears the color of sausage.

In mortification he drove his father's big car at the long hill ahead, reckless now of the probability that no automobile could surmount that two-mile slope under its winter ice and snow—a hard slope even in the summer. But to take the longer way round through the village meant passing that jeering gang of children again; meant hearing that abominable chorus of "Girlie! Girlie!"

The big car did take the grade though, as a blooded horse takes a steep incline, lunging forward with all its power. But the first half-mile had not been gained before Tommy realized that again he must be careful of his driving. Past him, sweeping downwards, at sixty miles an hour, flashed a heavily loaded bobsled; the riders yelling exultantly as they passed. Half a dozen single sleds followed, traveling almost as speedily. The Hilltop Road was the finest coasting course in that part of the State.

Not an easy course, either, or one fit for tyros in the art of handling a loaded bobsled. From the crest, where the road came over the mountain, there was an almost straight stretch of about a mile. Then the road began to twist, dipping ever more steeply until, at last, it came out on the chasm of the Powder River, just at the schoolhouse, and ran away smoothly along the edge of the gulch...

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