HOW ETHEL HOLLISTER BECAME A CAMPFIRE GIRL
IRENE ELLIOTT BENSON
Chicago M. A. Donohue & Company
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CANOE AND CAMPFIRE SERIES
Four Books of Woodcraft and Adventure in the Forest and on the Water that every Boy Scout should have in his Library
By ST. GEORGE RATHBORNE
CANOEMATES IN CANADA; or, Three Boys Afloat on the Saskatchewan. THE YOUNG FUR-TAKERS: or, Traps and Trails in the Wilderness. THE HOUSE-BOAT BOYS; or, Drifting Down to the Sunny South. CHUMS IN DIXIE; or, The Strange Cruise of a Motor Boat. CAMP MATES IN MICHIGAN; or, With Pack and Paddle in the Pine Woods. ROCKY MOUNTAIN BOYS; or, Camping in the Big Game Country.
In these four delightful volumes the author has drawn bountifully from his thirty-five years experience as a true sportsman and lover of nature, to reveal many of the secrets of the woods, such as all Boys Scouts strive to know. And, besides, each book is replete with stirring adventures among the four-footed denizens of the wilderness; so that a feast of useful knowledge is served up, with just that class of stirring incidents so eagerly welcomed by all boys with red blood in their veins. For sale wherever books are sold, or sent prepaid for 50 cents each by the publishers.
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Copyright, 1912, M. A. Donohue & Co.
I—A Fashionable Mother 7 II—Ethel Hollister 14 III—Grandmother Hollister 18 IV—A Pink Tea 23 V—An invitation to Aunt Susan 29 VI—Aunt Susan Arrives 41 VII—Aunt Susan Makes Friends 48 VIII—Ethel is Invited to Visit 51 IX—Ethel and Aunt Susan Start 55 X—The Journey 58 XI—The Next Day 62 XII—Ethel Learns to Cook 65 XIII—A Little Drive 68 XIV—Some Confidences 72 XV—A New Ethel 81 XVI—Aunt Susan's Trials 84 XVII—Cousin Kate Arrives 88 XVIII—Selecting the Costume 90 XIX—Ethel Meets Her Uncle and Aunt 97 XX—Gathering of the "Ohios" 103 XXI—The Trip up the River 109 XXII—An Evening in Camp 115 XXIII—The Legend of the Muskingum River 120 XXIV—Ethel's First Day in Camp 141 XXV—Ethel's First Lesson 144 XXVI—A Loss and a Dinner 147 XXVII—A Discovery 153 XXVIII—Mattie's Story 159 XXIX—Mattie Starts Afresh 167 XXX—Aunt Susan Comes 172 XXXI—Back To Aunt Susan's 175
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CAMPFIRE GIRLS SERIES
HOW ETHEL HOLLISTER BECAME A CAMPFIRE GIRL ETHEL HOLLISTER'S SECOND SUMMER AS A CAMPFIRE GIRL CAMPFIRE GIRLS MOUNTAINEERING CAMPFIRE GIRL'S RURAL RETREAT CAMPFIRE GIRLS IN THE FOREST CAMPFIRE GIRL'S LAKE CAMP
List Price 75c Each
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HOW ETHEL HOLLISTER BECAME A CAMP FIRE GIRL
A FASHIONABLE MOTHER
"No indeed, Kate!" ejaculated Mrs. Hollister emphatically, "Ethel has no time to join any Camp Fire Girls or Girl Scout Societies. She has her home and school duties, while her leisure is fully occupied. At present I know with whom she associates. As I understand it, these girls form themselves into a Company with a Guardian or Leader. They wear certain uniforms with emblems on the waists and sleeves, as well as a ring and bands of beads on their heads, all of which savors of conspicuousness, and it seems to me ridiculous."
"But, Aunt Bella," replied her niece, "think of what it makes of these girls. It teaches them to take care of themselves. They very often sleep out of doors for two months and get an honor for it."
"Yes, imagine a delicate girl like Ethel doing that," rejoined Mrs. Hollister. "Why, she'd contract pneumonia or consumption right away."
"But if she were delicate she wouldn't be allowed to do so unless by the advice of a physician. Then for one month she's obliged to give up sodas and candies between meals."
"Yes, and isn't that silly? Why, any girl can do that without belonging to a society."
"Well, they become healthy and strong; they play all kinds of out of door athletic games; they swim, dive, undress in deep water, paddle or row twenty miles in any five days; they learn to sail all kinds of boats for fifty miles during the summer, ride horse back, bicycle, skate, climb mountains, and even learn how to operate an automobile."
"There, Kate, stop; you make me nervous. Now what good is all such exercise to a girl?"
"Why, it gives her the splendid health so necessary to every woman, and oh! if only you'd read about it. You won't listen, but they learn how to cook, how to market, to wash and iron, and keep house, how to take care of babies,—and don't you see if a girl marries a poor man she can be a help to him and not a hindrance? Then they have to be kind and courteous, to look for and find the beauties of Nature until work becomes a pleasure and they're happy, cheerful and trustworthy. They give their services to others and learn something new all the time."
"My dear Kate," said her aunt, "nowadays a girl has all she can possibly do to fit herself for her future position in society; that is, if her family amounts to anything socially. Why should a girl learn to cook and market unless she intends to marry a poor man, and I don't propose that Ethel shall ever do that. And as for being so athletic, I don't approve of that either. It's all right for a girl to ride. Ethel is a good horsewoman; she learned from a splendid riding master. She plays tennis, golf, and can swim; so you see she has nearly all the requirements of Camp Fire Girls."
"Oh, Aunt Bella, she has hardly any. Why, look at the Boy Scout movement—how marvellous it is and how it has grown. It has become an institution, and in England when several Boy Scouts while camping out were drowned, the Government (think of it) sent out a gunboat—sent it up the Thames to bring their bodies back to London. Think of the National recognition. Why, it's spreading so that every boy will become a Scout before long. And the good that they do no one knows."
"Well, my dear," said the elder lady, "you are an enthusiast, and naturally as you are a 'Captain' or 'Guardian,' as they call it, your sympathies are all with the organization. But to me it's like marching with the suffragettes. It belongs to the women who favor 'Woman's Rights,' but not for a girl like Ethel."
"But you certainly approve of the 'Scout' movement, don't you? Why, boys are joining from every rank of life."
"Ah! my dear," broke in Mrs. Hollister, "that's the great trouble. They are from every rank, and that's why I object. Had I a son I should not care to have him become interested in it, and for a girl like Ethel to rub shoulders with 'Tom, Dick and Harry,' it's simply not to be thought of. No, when she marries I trust it will be to a man who can afford to give her enough servants to do the work, a chauffeur to run her automobile, and a captain to sail her yacht. I hope she'll have a competent cook to bake her breads and prepare the soups, roasts, salads, and make preserves. I should feel very badly if she had to wash and iron, wipe her floors, or do any menial work. Were such a thing to happen, I hope I shall not live to see it, that's all. No, kindly drop the subject. Ethel is but sixteen. She'll have all she can do to finish at Madame La Rue's by the time she's eighteen. You know how hard your Uncle Archie works to obtain the money to pay for Ethel's education, and how I manage to keep up appearances on so little. It's all for Ethel. It means everything for her future. She must have the best associates, and when she graduates go with the fashionable set. We are very poor and she must marry well and have her own establishment. All of this Camp Girl business would be of no earthly benefit to her. It's only a fad and I believe not only that, but the 'Scout' movement will die a natural death after a while. Young people must have some way to work off their superfluous energy; these Societies help them to do so. Now remember, Kate, you have a fairly well-to-do father and you need not worry over your future. Not so poor Ethel. That I have to look out for. Please do not refer to this subject again, especially before her. I mean it and shall resent it if you do. I'm sure you'll respect my wishes in the matter."
"Of course, I shall, Aunt Bella," replied Kate, "but were you to more thoroughly understand this new movement I'm sure you'd view it differently and change your mind. The Boy Scouts have done so much good, and now this Camp Fire Girl is going to be such an improvement over the ordinary girl. She's going to revolutionize young women and make of them useful members of society—not frivolous butterflies—and it will be carried into the poorer classes and teach girls who have never had a chance, so that they may become good cooks and housekeepers and love beautiful things. And their costume is so pretty and sensible. Oh! I wish you could see it with my eyes."
"To me, my dear, it is very like the Salvation Army. They wear badges and uniforms, and they too do much good, I am told. Yet I shouldn't care to have my Ethel become a member of that organization. But hush—remember your promise—not a word. Here she comes."
A young girl entered. She was lovely with the beauty of a newly opened rose. Her features were exquisite. Her rippling brown hair matched her eyes in color. Her complexion was creamy white with a faint touch of pink in either cheek. Although her figure was girlish it was perfectly formed and she carried herself well; still she looked delicate.
The mother and daughter were alike save where Mrs. Hollister's face was hard and worldly, Ethel's was soft and innocent.
"Well, dearie," said her mother, "here's an invitation for you from the Kips. Dorothy will celebrate her fifteenth birthday on Saturday with a luncheon and matinee party."
"Oh, how perfectly lovely," exclaimed the girl, showing her pretty teeth as she laughed. "Dorothy is such a dear. Why, she hardly knows me. She's only been at Madame's half a term."
"Never under-rate yourself, Ethel," spoke up Mrs. Hollister. "Remember that you belong to one of New York's oldest families. Although you have but little money, people are sure to seek you not only for your family name but because you are an acquisition to any society."
Ethel blushed painfully while Cousin Kate gazed out upon the budding leaves on a tree in front of the Hollister house. By a keen observer her private opinion might be read in every line of her face. She loved Ethel and her grandmother—old Mrs. Hollister. She pitied her Uncle Archie, but she despised her Aunt Bella and rejoiced that at least none of that lady's blood flowed in her veins. She worried over Ethel who, notwithstanding her mother's worldliness was as yet unspoiled, for the child inherited much of her father's good sense. Still under the constant influence of a woman of Mrs. Hollister's type it would be strange if the daughter failed to follow in some of her mother's footsteps or to imbibe some of her fallacies.
"I'm going up to tell Grandmamma," said Ethel, and bursting into the room she kissed the old lady.
"Listen, Grandmamma, I'm invited to Dorothy Kip's birthday—a luncheon and matinee party."
"That's lovely, my darling," replied the elderly woman. "When does it come off?"
"Next Saturday, and I presume we'll go to Sherry's to lunch. Think of it! I've never been there—I'm so glad," and she danced around the room. "And my new grey broadcloth suit with silver fox will be just right to wear. You know the lovely grey chiffon waist over Irish lace that Mamma has just finished, and my grey velvet hat with rosebuds and silver fox fur—won't it be stunning?"
"You'll look lovely, I know. But where is Cousin Kate?"
"Oh, she's with Mamma. I entered the room while they were in the midst of an argument and they stopped suddenly. I guess it was about me. You know how set Mamma is in her way, and she was reading the riot act about something. As Kate leaves here tomorrow, shouldn't you think that Mamma would be too polite to differ with her? But no, she was talking quite loudly. I wish I might go home with Kate. I'd like to see her father and mother; they must be lovely.
"They are," replied Grandmother Hollister. "Your Uncle John is my oldest boy, and he has the sunniest nature imaginable."
"Yes, and Kate does something in the world," replied the girl. "I wish I might belong to her Camp Fire Girls that she has told you and me about. But Mamma—why! I shouldn't even dare suggest it; in fact, she doesn't dream that I know about Kate's being the Guardian of a Company. I feared that she might be rude if I spoke of it and might say something to offend Kate. Well, goodbye dear, I just wanted to tell you," and with another kiss Ethel left the room.
Old Mrs. Hollister's room was on the third floor back. It was large and sunny, but considering that she owned the house it was rather peculiar that she had such an inferior room. She and her sister Susan were the only children of Josiah Carpenter, a wealthy man living in Akron, Ohio. Upon his death the girls found themselves alone and heiresses. Alice, while visiting in New York, met Archibald Hollister, who belonged to an old and respected family but who was of no earthly account as a business man. His handsome face won pretty Alice Carpenter. He was not long in spending nearly all of her fortune, but he really was considerate enough to contract pneumonia and die before he obtained possession of her house, which fortunately was in her name and unmortgaged.
She had two sons—John, Kate's father, who lived in Columbus, Ohio, and Archibald with whom she now made her home. Archibald loved his mother and begged her to let him pay her rent for the house, but she replied that if he would pay the taxes and keep the house in repair it would equal the rent.
Her sister Susan still lived in the same town where they had been born. She had never married. People told Archibald Hollister that his Aunt Susan was a millionaire. Every investment that she made was successful. She had adopted and educated two orphan boys, one of whom had died, while the other was finishing college, after which he was to become a lawyer. Aunt Susan seldom wrote of herself. She corresponded with Alice (Grandmother Hollister) about twice a year, and at Christmas she invariably sent her a generous check.
Grandmother Hollister and her son were alike in many ways. They were free from all false pride and privately they considered Mrs. Hollister a snob, and worried lest Ethel should become one. Archibald seldom asserted himself, but when he did his word was law. While his wife was a social climber he was exactly the opposite. He had been known to bring home the most disreputable looking men—men who had been his friends in youth and who were playing in hard luck. He would ask them to dinner without even sending word, and his wife would invariably plead a sick headache to get rid of sitting with them. She dared not interfere nor object for she was just a little afraid of him and she realized that in nearly everything he allowed her to have her own way.
Mrs. Hollister told Ethel privately that both here father and grandmother were old fashioned. Although living in a handsome house they kept but one maid. Mr. Hollister's salary was but a little over three thousand, and at times they had hard work to make both ends meet. Ethel attended a fashionable school and hardly realized what the family sacrificed for her. She made many friends among the wealthy girls of the smart set. Thanks to her mother's skill and taste she was enabled to dress beautifully, but youth is thoughtless and she was just a little too self centered to see that her parents were depriving themselves for her.
Mrs. Hollister gave bridge parties, and once every two weeks a tea for Ethel. Upon those days she hired two extra maids. It was pitiable to see how she strove to keep up appearances. There was a young man whose sister went with the set of girls who came to Ethel's teas. His name was Harvey Bigelow. One of his sisters had married into the nobility. He had a large Roman nose and a receding forehead, but Mrs. Hollister was delighted when one afternoon Nannie Bigelow—his sister—brought him to the house. He was only nineteen and at college. Ethel disliked him from the first.
"Why, dear, why are you so rude to Mr. Bigelow? He's a gentleman," said Mrs. Hollister.
"Yes, Mamma, but I simply cannot endure him," replied the girl. "For one thing his nails are too shiny, and that shows his lack of refinement. I don't care if his sister married the King, he's common—that's all."
It was then that Mrs. Hollister would declare that Ethel was exactly like her father and grandmother.
A PINK TEA
Although old Mrs. Hollister owned the house and nearly all of the handsome antique furniture, Mrs. Archie seemed often to forget that fact, and from her manner one might infer that the lady regarded her mother-in-law as a sort of interloper. The old lady would allow her to go just so far, after which she would suddenly pull her up with a sharp turn and admonish her with such a cutting rebuke that Mrs. Archie would blush painfully and apologize. But while antagonistic on most points they each agreed on Ethel. Even Grandmother felt that her daughter-in-law was wise in trying to fit the girl for the smart set, where she would have social position and money, and she even sided with the wife against her son, who considered it all wrong.
One afternoon Archibald Hollister came home early and ran right into the "Pink Tea" crowd. Old Mrs. Hollister, tastefully gowned in black and white, sat in the library where the maids brought up refreshments to her. A young musician whose mother had been a schoolmate of Mrs. Hollister's, and who was poor, played the piano from four to seven for the small sum of three dollars. Everything went off pleasantly. The maids acted as though they were really fixtures in the house. The refreshments were excellent. No wonder with the line of autos before the door people considered the Hollisters wealthy, "but plain and solid with no airs, etc."
Old Mrs. Hollister enjoyed young people's society, and they all voted her a dear. She'd invite their confidences, and before leaving each girl would come up to the library for a chat with Grandmother.
"Oh, Mrs. Hollister," said Lottie Owen, a girl of Ethel's age, "have you heard about the 'turkey trot?' We can't dance it any more,—it's been suppressed."
"How does it go?" asked the old lady. "I've read something of it."
"Well, just wait,—I'll get Nannie Bigelow and we'll dance it for you."
Thereupon the two girls would show Grandmother Hollister the steps.
"That's something like the 'Boston Dip,'" responded she very much excited. "Why, when I was a girl my mother took me away from a cotillion one night because they danced it," and she grew pretty as she excitedly told of her younger days.
"I bet you were lovely, Mrs. Hollister," said Nannie. "Ethel will never be as pretty as you were. We were looking at your portrait in the drawing room. You must have been fascinating, and as for Mr. Hollister—your husband—well, he was just a dear."
The old lady blushed. Here Lottie spoke up:
"Yes, and people say you were such a belle. Old Mr. Tupper was at our house and met Ethel, and he told us a lot about you. But here's Mr. Hollister," and they rushed forward to greet her son.
"Well, well!" he exclaimed gallantly, "I didn't expect to get into such a garden of roses. And you, too, Mother—why, you've actually grown younger."
"That's just what we tell her," said Nannie. "We've been dancing the 'turkey trot' for her," they whispered, slyly kissing her goodbye.
These were happy afternoons for Grandmother, after which she and her son would sit and chat.
"It sort of livens things up to have young people about, doesn't it, Mother?" he said, taking a cup of tea and a sandwich.
"Yes, Archie, it certainly does; but you look tired."
"I am, Mother," replied the man, "I wish Ethel was finished with her school and happily married. This strain is telling on me and I suppose poor Bella suffers from it even as I do."
"It's too bad, Archie. I don't like this sailing under false colors. People imagine Ethel a wealthy girl. Probably they think she'll inherit my money. Of course, they never dream that I'm penniless and that you have a salary of only three thousand a year; but so long as we keep out of debt I don't know as we are doing wrong."
"Has Kate gone?" he asked.
"Yes, she left this morning. Bella took her to the train. She's gone to visit her mother's people in Tarrytown. Kate's a nice girl."
"She's a sensible girl. I only hope that Ethel will grow into as good a woman as Kate Hollister," said Archibald.
"You see, Kate has a new fad," began Grandmother—"not a fad either; its purpose is too earnest to call it that. She is the head of a Company of girls called 'Camp Fire Girls.' They are something like the 'Boy Scout Organization.' The object is to make girls healthy. It gives them knowledge; it causes them to work and learn to love it; it makes them trustworthy; they begin to search for beauty in Nature and they're perfectly happy. I remember that much, but the sum and substance of it is that it teaches a girl everything that is useful. Kate is the Guardian of one Camp Fire section. They meet weekly and from what she tells me it must be a great thing. Kate spoke of it to Bella but she ridiculed it and forbade her to speak of it to Ethel. She declares it is like the Salvation Army, etc., and Kate promised not to, I think she had hoped to secure Ethel for one of the girls next summer."
"Well, there's no need of us trying to oppose Bella," said her son. "She is determined that Ethel shall make a brilliant match and in her eyes this would be a waste of time. No, Mother, the best thing for you and me to do is to travel along the lines of the least resistance. Come,—dinner is ready. I'll help you down."
AN INVITATION TO AUNT SUSAN
One afternoon Mrs. Hollister called Ethel into her room. After closing the door she said, "Ethel, I have written to your father's Aunt Susan, who lives in Akron, to come here and make us a visit. You know she's Grandmother's only sister, and I think it will do them both good to see each other. Grandmother is delighted and I expect that Aunt Susan will accept," and Mrs. Hollister calmly drew on her gloves.
Now, as her mother was not in the habit of considering her grandmother's comfort, and as the two women were seldom of one accord, Ethel looked at her furtively and with a puzzled expression of countenance, but that lady acted not the least embarrassed. It seemed strange to Ethel that all at once she should wish to cheer up her mother-in-law by inviting her country sister to visit them, but the girl simply said:
"That's lovely, Mamma," and went up to her room to study.
Although she disliked to credit her mother with such artifices, she finally hit upon a solution of the object of the invitation. It must be that it was Aunt Susan's money she was after, and why? Suddenly, it all came to the girl—it was to get Aunt Susan to like her (Ethel, her grand-niece) and make her her heiress, if not to all at least to a part of her fortune.
Ethel sat and gazed at the pretty room in which Mrs. Hollister had spent so much time decorating and making attractive. In her heart there was a desire to denounce her mother. Then, when she realized that it was all being done to benefit herself, she could feel nothing but pity for the woman whose one thought in life was for her daughter. She thought: "She will even tell people that I am Aunt Susan's heiress, and I must sit by and know that it is untrue. Everything is untrue in this house. Oh, how I wish I could get away from it all!" But to her grandmother she told her suspicions.
"Never mind, my lamb," said the old lady. "I know Susan well enough to say that she will love you for yourself, and probably she does intend to leave you and Kate half of her fortune at least. If it serves to help your mother socially, why Susan wouldn't care—she'd only laugh. Susan's very keen and sharp, my child. No one can make her do what she doesn't care to. Now don't you worry over anything. When she comes just be kind and polite to her and help make her visit pleasant."
"But, Grandmamma, I should die of mortification if she even conceived the idea that mother had that in her mind when she asked her here for a visit. Oh, I couldn't endure it. Please never let her know what I suspect. Will you promise, or I cannot look into her face."
"Your Aunt Susan shall never suspect such a thing from me. I promise," replied Grandmamma Hollister. "I am only too glad to see her once more. I could almost forgive your mother for any duplicity in it so long as she can come, for Susan and I are growing old and it will not be many years before one of us goes. But, Ethel, don't expect to see any style. Aunt Susan is a plain country woman. It may be a trial for you to have to go out with her."
"Oh, never, if she's like you, Grandmother," said the girl, kissing her, "and she is your own sister. She must be like you. But there's Nannie Bigelow and Grace McAllister. I wonder what they want."
"Hello! Ethel," called two young voices, "we're coming up. Your mother said we might."
"All right, girls; I'm in Grandmamma's room," replied Ethel, "come in here."
After greeting the old lady affectionately they began: "What do you know about it?" said Grace—"here Dorothy Kip has joined a new Society called the 'Camp Fire Girls,' and from the first day of vacation—May fifteenth—until October she's going to live in the woods and camp out."
"Yes," broke in Nannie Bigelow, "I'm just crazy to belong but Mamma won't let me because she heard that two of the girls who are to be in the Company live in the Bronx in a small flat and go to public school. But Connie Westcott's aunt is to be the head or 'Guardian,' and these girls are in her Sunday School class. She likes them and insists upon their becoming members. Isn't it ridiculous, Mrs. Hollister, that just because these girls are poor they're not considered fit to associate with us by some mothers, and I mean mine. As if I was half as good as they. Why, my great-grandfather was a shoemaker. Papa told me all about it, and he was a dandy good shoemaker, too; but Mother gets furious when I refer to it," and Nannie threw herself in a chair before the open fire that Grandmother Hollister always kept lighted save in warm weather.
"I know my mother wouldn't let me join," said Ethel. "Why, Kate Hollister is the Guardian of a Company in Columbus, Ohio, and Mother wouldn't allow her to speak of it even. She says it's like the Salvation Army, and such ridiculous nonsense. Oh, dear! all the mothers are alike, I'm afraid. We'll never have real fun until after we're married or become old maids."
Just then they were interrupted by the arrival of Connie Westcott, Dorothy Kip, and two or three more of Ethel's young friends, to whom they explained the subject under discussion.
"Well, my mother will let me join," said Connie, "and Dorothy's has allowed her."
"Yes," broke in Dorothy, "I was sure Mother would allow me to if Miss Westcott was to be the Guardian."
"It must be a fine organization," said Mrs. Hollister, knitting steadily with the yellow lace falling over her still pretty hands. "I wish we had known of something like that in my young day. Why, it must be like one continuous picnic."
"I'll tell you what they do," said Sara Judson, "they first learn how to put out a fire. Supposing one's clothes should catch; they could save one's life. Then, in summer, or through the ice in winter, they rescue drowning people who have never learned to swim. They know what to do for an open cut; for fainting; how to bandage and use surgeon's plaster. They can cook at least two meals, mend stockings, sew, etc., and keep one's self free from colds and illness. They sleep in the open, and my! what fine health it gives a girl, and it makes a perfect athlete of her. She can cook and bake, market, and know just how to choose meats and vegetables. She can become a fine housekeeper as well, and learn how to make lovely gardens. Why, I'll bring you a book, Mrs. Hollister. I couldn't begin to tell you how wonderful it is. If a girl lives up to all the rules and can learn everything that is taught she's a wonder, that's all. So I hope some day Ethel can join, even if later."
"Oh, I'll never be allowed to join, girls. I'm to be a parlor ornament," and Ethel's eyes filled with tears.
"Never mind," said Constance White, "how desolate the home furnishings would be without lovely bric-a-brac."
"Yes," replied Grandmother Hollister, "whatever position a girl occupies if she fills it creditably she will have done her duty."
"I know that Ethel will be the head of a large and magnificent establishment," said Nannie Bigelow. "She's just the style of a girl."
Ethel half laughed and dried her eyes on her Grandmother's handkerchief.
"I don't care," she faltered, "think of living out in a camp and sitting around the fire telling stories. And I shall never be allowed to do it."
"Now you buck up, old girl," said Dorothy Kip abruptly. "Oh, excuse me, Mrs. Hollister, but sometimes I just love to use slang. You go ahead and wish hard for what you want and you'll get it. I always do. Say, don't you know that you can influence others to think exactly as you do? By wishing with all your might you can will it to be done."
Everyone laughed. Dorothy was an odd roly poly pretty girl of fifteen. She was the only sister and idol of four brothers whom she copied in every way. The newest slang was invariably on her tongue, and the family laughed at and petted her. In their eyes everything she did was perfect. She was a general favorite at school, but Madame La Rue declared that she would never become a perfect lady while her brothers lived at home; but she was kind-hearted and generous. Mrs. Hollister, Senior, liked her immensely. She always called her "Grandma."
"Do you know what I'm going in for?" she asked of the old lady. "Well, I'll tell you—it's babies!" Everyone laughed.
"You needn't laugh. Next year I'm going to take all of my spending money excepting ten dollars and hire two rooms and a kitchenette. Dad gives me sixty dollars per. I'm going to take thirty-five for rent and the boys will help me furnish. Then I'm going to beg my friends for contributions and open a Day Nursery. Of course, I'll have to get a woman for fifteen dollars a month to take care of the babies, and the mothers can pay four cents a day for each child."
"Why, Dorothy Kip," exclaimed the girls. "You couldn't get any servant for fifteen dollars a month."
"I can, and don't you forget it. Old Susan Conner, who used to be my brother Tom's nurse, has offered to come for fifteen dollars. She likes me and she's willing to help me in this charity. We've talked it all over. Susan is some class now and has her two-room-and-bath apartment. She's old and hasn't much to do and she has enough to live on, so she's offered to come; and I'm going to spend just ten dollars on myself each month in place of sixty for candy and soda and such nonsense. No one knows of it but Susan and I. I'm going to beg for oatmeal and rice and bread of the grocers with whom we've traded for years, and if they refuse I'll influence Mother to leave them. Then I think Dad will help me out on milk and anything needed. I'll confide in him."
"That's a fine and magnificent idea, Dorothy," said Mrs. Hollister, "and you'll become a public benefactor."
"Well, you see, Mrs. Hollister, I like the little kids and I've seen such pitiful faces on some where the sisters have had to take care of them while the mothers worked. So I made up my mind I could take ten little ones anyway. Then the mothers' four cents will be forty cents a day. That will pay for some, of the food. Oh! I'm going to become a beggar and ask every friend to help me. Maybe it will fail but I can try. The boys will give, I'm sure."
"Yes, Dorothy, and I bet you'll succeed," said the girls. "We'll help, too."
Then each girl pledged herself for what she could afford to give.
"Well, you're awfully good, I'm sure," said Dorothy. "I never dreamed you'd all come forward. You're certainly sports, every one of you, and I'm obliged more than I can tell you."
"Who knows," said Grandmother Hollister, "but when you're grown up, you'll have a large house, and it may be called 'The Kip Day Nursery' and each of you girls here may be lady managers. They all grow from small beginnings. And, Dorothy, you may put me down for ten dollars," said Mrs. Hollister.
"Oh, say, you're a thoroughbred, you are," and the girl kissed her impulsively several times.
Now Grandmother Hollister had been saving that particular ten for a new lace scarf. It had been sent to her on her birthday by her son John, but she couldn't resist giving it. She could do without the scarf, and ten dollars would buy a couple or more warm rugs for the babies to sit on, for little ones like to sit on the floor.
The girls stayed in her room and chatted until dusk. They talked as freely before the old lady as before one another.
That evening Ethel asked her grandmother if there wasn't some way by which she could get away that summer and go to visit Cousin Kate.
"I'll think it over," replied Grandmother; "you certainly need the country. You look thin and peaked."
"Yes, and Mamma will take me to Newport or Narragansett, and I hate it. Why, it's just like New York. You meet the very same people and I never cared for the water as I care for inland or mountains. Do think out a way, Grandmamma. You always manage to do everything just right."
"I'll try," replied Mrs. Hollister.
AUNT SUSAN ARRIVES
The next morning there came a letter of acceptance from Aunt Susan. She would arrive on Friday. This was Thursday. Grandmother Hollister hummed a little song as she went up stairs.
"It will do Mother lots of good," ejaculated Mr. Hollister. "It was kind of you, Bella, to think of that."
Mrs. Hollister blushed. Ethel watched her as she slowly sipped her coffee. Mrs. Hollister was a peculiar woman. She was truthful and frank when she wished to be. Now she realized that her husband trusted and had faith in her and that Ethel was furtively watching her, so she said: "Well, Archie, perhaps I was a little selfish in asking Aunt Susan. Perhaps I did it to help Ethel a bit as well as to please Mother. Aunt Susan is wealthy. Now why shouldn't Ethel come in for some of her money as well as that adopted boy?"
"Why, Bella," said her husband, "is it possible that you had only that idea in your head when you invited my aunt here?"
"No, not entirely. I knew that it would please your mother, and I could kill two birds with one stone. That's why."
Ethel saw a peculiar look come upon her father's face. She had noticed it when he brought home his disreputable looking friends to dine and when her mother objected. He turned to his daughter.
"Ethel," he said, "I wish you to help and make your Aunt Susan's visit very pleasant. I would like you to take her out and show her everything, and Grandmother must go along also. You will be doing me a great favor if you will."
"Papa, I'll do my best to make it pleasant," replied the girl, kissing him.
Then, without looking at his wife, Mr. Hollister left the room, followed by his daughter.
"So that was her object!" he exclaimed, as Ethel helped him on with his coat. "What would Aunt Susan think were she to know? Your mother wishes you to ingratiate yourself with my aunt so that she'll leave you the lion's share of her money. Why, she'd probably leave my brother John and me a remembrance anyway, and you and Kate would benefit by it. Well, this is a strange world, my child. I wish your mother was less politic, but I presume it is done for you, Ethel, so we mustn't be too hard on her. She's a good mother to you, my dear, and has great ambition for you. I only hope that you'll be happy. Never marry for money alone—that's a sin—remember."
"I will, Papa," said the girl blushing. "I may never marry, and then you and I can live together. Wouldn't we have fun?"
Aunt Susan arrived. Ethel gazed at her spellbound. She had the kindest face she had ever seen, but oh! how old fashioned she looked. Her grey hair was drawn tightly back into a cracker knot. In front she wore a bunch of tight frizzes under a little flat velvet hat with strings, something of the style of 1879. Her gown was of black made with a full skirt trimmed with black satin bands. She wore an old-fashioned plush dolman heavily beaded and covered with fringe. Her shoes were thick like a man's, and to crown all she carried a fish-net bag. She didn't seem to realize that she looked behind the times.
Ethel thought that her teeth and eyes were the loveliest that she had ever seen on a woman of her age, for she was grandmother's senior. She and Mrs. Hollister looked enough alike to be twins. They fell upon each other's neck and wept. Ethel was mentally hoping that Aunt Susan would purchase some modern clothes or that none of her fashionable friends would meet her, for among them were some who would laugh at the old lady, and the girl felt that she'd die of mortification and anger,—not the girls with whom she was intimate and who came to see her daily, but the girls who belonged to the exclusive set, and with whom Ethel and her friends seldom went as they were much younger.
The day following Mrs. Hollister phoned for a taxi, and to Ethel's horror she ordered an open one. Ethel was to take Aunt Susan and Grandmother for a drive. She dared not demur. Had she not promised her father to do everything for Aunt Susan? Could she hurt her dear grandmother's feelings? And last of all, she would not admit to her mother the fact that she was ashamed of Aunt Susan's appearance. No, so she went.
As it was early in April and cool, upon this occasion Aunt Susan wore ear tabs, over which she tied a thick, green veil, when it grew warmer in the sunshine she removed the veil. They drove up Riverside to Grant's Tomb, where Aunt Susan insisted upon getting out. Fortunately Ethel encountered no one whom she knew, but as they were driving up Lafayette Boulevard they passed Estelle Mason, one of her swell friends. The chills ran up and down Ethel's spine, while she sat with her lips compressed. The girl bowed and deliberately giggled. Even grandmother, who looked lovely, grew red. But Aunt Susan seemed not to notice it.
"I am a snob just like mother," thought the girl. "I ought to be ashamed of myself. I'll never speak to Estelle again, the rude upstart! They say she prides herself on her family, but I can't see that her good blood has made a lady of her," and into Ethel's eyes came tears.
"Ethel, my dear," said Aunt Susan, "you're looking badly. Your cheeks are flushed. Do you feel ill?"
"No, Aunt Susan," she replied. "I always grow red when riding in the wind."
Grandmother had seen it all and pitied the girl.
"Deafness comes early in the Carpenter family," persisted Aunt Susan. "Here, take this veil, dear, do, and tie it over your ears."
But Ethel declined, and to her joy the ride was soon over.
In the privacy of her room Grandmother Hollister confided to Ethel that really Aunt Susan ought to dress differently.
"I understand how you felt, dear," she continued, "when you met that rude Mason girl and she laughed, but there's bad blood there. I know all about her and her grandparents. My dear child, her grandmother used to be a waitress way out West where her grandfather owned mines, and he boarded at the house where she worked, fell in love and married her. Probably there's where she gets her rudeness."
"Why, Grandmother, how did you know that?" asked Ethel.
"There's little I don't know about the fine old New York families, my dear. Remember I married into one and I heard a great deal."
After that Ethel felt comforted.
AUNT SUSAN MAKES FRIENDS
In less than a week Mrs. Hollister had circulated the report that Aunt Susan was an immensely wealthy but eccentric old maid, and that Ethel was to be her heiress. The report spread like wildfire. Then Mrs. Hollister took the girl and told her that she must begin and make herself invaluable to Aunt Susan, so that she alone would inherit her immense fortune.
"Of course," she said, "she'll leave your Cousin Kate some if it, but why should that adopted son get the lion's share? You might just as well have it."
Ethel had to go everywhere with Aunt Susan,—she who so disliked anything savoring of the conspicuous. She could hear the sneers and laughter of Estelle Mason's set of girls and could see their looks of amusement. At first she rebelled, but the dislike of offending her grandmother and fear of disobeying her mother made her meekly submit, and like a martyr she went.
Aunt Susan was such a lovely character that Ethel was ashamed of herself, for everything seemed to please her so, and she kept dwelling upon the fact that the family (especially Ethel) was so kind that she should never forget it. But although she bought expensive gifts for the three women, they dared not suggest her spending anything on herself. Something kept them from it and told them that she might become offended and leave the house.
Gradually the friends of the Hollisters' came and fell in love with Aunt Susan. She was such a lady and had such charming manners. Besides, knowing her to be a wealthy woman, they accepted her with her peculiar gowns, even inviting her to teas, etc. Never did an old lady have such a fine visit. Harvey Bigelow was most attentive to her, Aunt Susan declaring him to be a likely fellow, and wondering why her niece Kate didn't fancy him.
She spoke often of Thomas Harper—her adopted son and protege. He was a fine lawyer and was devoted to her. She received letters from him twice a week, from which she read extracts. Mrs. Hollister declared that he was crafty and after Aunt Susan's money, and it seemed to worry her not a little. She even started in to insinuate as much to the lady, who gazed at her peculiarly until Grandmother took her alone one day and said: "If ever you expect to make Aunt Susan fond of Ethel you are going to work the wrong way. She's very sharp, and if you speak ill of Thomas Harper you'll show your hand—I warn you.
"She'll do as she chooses and you can't compel her to do otherwise. She's fond of Ethel now for herself. I warn you, Bella, not to let your greediness make Susan know you as you are. I'd like her to keep the good opinion of you that she has at present."
Mrs. Hollister knew that her mother-in-law spoke the truth and she said nothing, but left the room.
ETHEL IS INVITED TO VISIT
One morning in May, as the last days of Aunt Susan's visit were drawing to a close, she said to Mrs. Hollister: "Bella, Ethel tells me that her vacation begins next week. Now I've been thinking it over. The child doesn't look strong. She needs country air. I don't mean your fashionable places, but where she can live out of doors in a simple gown, play games, and take long walks, etc. Now you've given me such a pleasant time that I'm going to invite her to go home with me. I'll wait for her school to close and we can start from here Saturday."
Mrs. Hollister was overjoyed. Of all things that was what she had most desired and, too, it would save them much expense, for a summer's trip to a fashionable hotel made a large hole in Archibald Hollister's salary.
"Yes, indeed, Aunt Susan, she will be simply delighted to go," replied the lady. "I'll get her ready at once."
"She'll need nothing new," called out Aunt Susan. "We're very plain people. We live simply, and her gowns and hats will seem like visions of Paris fashions to the girls in our town. Then I shall ask Kate to come for a visit as well. And, by the way, Bella, come back; I wish to say something. You know my niece Kate goes up into Camp this summer with her girls. Now I should like Ethel to go along. It is a great movement—this Camp Fire movement—and it will do the child lots of good, for she strikes me as very delicate."
Mrs. Hollister gasped.
"Yes," she replied, "Kate spoke to me of it but I shouldn't care for Ethel to join."
"Why not?" asked Aunt Susan. "It certainly is the most creditable thing any girl can join. It's a wonderful institution. What objection can you have?" and she looked at her niece tentatively.
Mrs. Hollister reviewed the situation as she stood there. It would not do for her to air her objections to Aunt Susan. She was just a little afraid of that lady and wished her to have a good opinion of her, so she continued reluctantly: "Well, you see, Aunt Susan, it is such a strenuous life, and Ethel is not over robust. I'm almost afraid it might do her more harm than good."
"Nonsense, Bella," replied Aunt Susan, "that's the most shallow objection you could advance. I should deem it a personal favor if you'll give your consent."
Now Mrs. Hollister dared not withhold her consent, and yet she was angry. That Ethel was at last to be entrapped into belonging to that detestable Organization was what she had never dreamed could take place. She was caught and trapped; there was no help. Even though she gave her consent, after Ethel came home in the fall she could talk her out of it. So she said with a of show amiability: "Since you desire it, Aunt Susan, I'll consent, but I don't approve of it at all, I must admit."
"Thank you," replied Aunt Susan. "I think you'll feel differently when you see Ethel upon her return home this fall. All of the girls in Akron are joining. They're crazy over it."
Mrs. Hollister replied that she was open to conviction and should be glad if Ethel derived any benefit from it.
"But what shall I buy for her to wear?" she asked.
"I will attend to her outfit," replied Aunt Susan. "It is not expensive."
ETHEL AND AUNT SUSAN START
Ethel was overjoyed that permission had been obtained to allow her to become a Camp Fire Girl.
"Isn't Aunt Susan clever to have been able to have gotten Mother to change her mind?"
Grandmother smiled but said nothing, but when alone Mrs. Hollister said: "Ethel, remember that you are in line for Aunt Susan's money. Grandmother says she admires you and thinks that you have shown her great courtesy—says you've been kindness itself to her—so it has paid, hasn't it, dear? Now your visit will do the business, and you'll probably come in for the lion's share. Of course, you are only sixteen, but who knows what may happen? When you finish school you may become the Duchess of Everton's sister-in-law—think of it—and I alone shall be responsible."
"Oh, Mamma," replied Ethel, growing red, "you know I am only a young girl yet. Besides, I loathe Harvey Bigelow. He talks through his nose and is vulgar."
"Nonsense," replied her mother, "look at all of the young men of today, especially among the rich. Are they so very good looking?"
"Yes," replied Ethel, "I think Dorothy Kip has four fine looking brothers, and I know lots of good looking young men, but I can't endure Harvey Bigelow although I love Nannie."
"Well, Harvey averages well as to looks, and think of his position and family, and you a poor man's daughter. If you'll be guided by me, my dear, I'll put you above them all. Were your father to die what could you do? Should you like to be a saleswoman?"
Ethel was angry but she knew that her mother spoke wisely. She, too, loved money and position, as well perhaps as Mrs. Hollister, but she was not quite so worldly.
The Saturday arrived at last and they started for Akron. Although Ethel felt ashamed to admit it, owing to Aunt Susan's conspicuous appearance, she dreaded the train ordeal, but there was no help for it. She did speak of it to her mother, who calmly surveyed her daughter and replied: "Ethel, I fear you are a snob."
The girl regarded her mother with astonishment, who without embarrassment calmly continued: "Did you ever see me act as though I was ashamed of your aunt?"
And as Ethel thought, she was forced to admit that she never had, for Mrs. Hollister was a strange anomaly. Her snobbishness seemed to lie in the desire to rise socially—to take her place with the best—but she never had seemed to even take exception to Aunt Susan's appearance; in fact, she felt that people would consider it the eccentricity of a wealthy woman. She went with her everywhere and never was ashamed, therefore her reproof to her daughter was sincere.
The journey was very pleasant. Ethel enjoyed it. Aunt Susan removed her hat and tied the objectionable green veil around her head. This didn't seem quite so out of place. As they talked Ethel noticed that Aunt Susan was wonderfully well informed on every subject. She was like an encyclopedia, and her conversation was most interesting.
As they were nearing their destination many of her townspeople passed through the train. They greeted her most heartily with: "Well, well, Mrs. Carpenter, we have missed you. Had a pleasant time?"
"How's my boy?" she asked of one man.
"My, but he's fine," rejoined the man,—"won a big case the other day. Haven't you heard about it? Sears, the automobile man—someone accused him of infringing on his patent, and he—Sears—sued him. Tom won the suit. Everyone is congratulating him," etc.
Each person had some report of Tom.
"They seem to love Aunt Susan," thought Ethel. "It only goes to show how much people think of money. Perhaps were she poor they wouldn't notice her." But wasn't her own mother a money-worshipper, and didn't she herself care for people who had it? "I suppose it's the way of the world," she thought.
The train slowed into the depot. A tall broad-shouldered athletic looking fellow entered the car and grasped Aunt Susan by the waist, and as he lifted her almost from the floor he kissed her affectionately saying: "Oh, my! but Aunt Susan I've missed you," and his voice rang manly and true.
Ethel liked his face. He had keen but pleasant grey eyes, a square jaw, large mouth and fine teeth. "But alas!" she thought, "how terribly he dresses, with his loosely tied black cravat, a slouch hat, low collar and wide trousers—like types of eccentric literary men seen on the stage and in pictures."
He was absolutely devoid of style, yet everyone seemed to look up to him and lots of pretty girls blushed unconsciously as he returned their bows. Aunt Susan must have spoken to everyone who passed. They all seemed to know her well.
As they drove up and alighted at the door of a small plain house she must have noticed a disappointed look in her niece's eyes, for she said: "Your Grandmother and I were born here, my dear. That large house on the hill once belonged to me, but I disposed of it and moved here. I love the associations. Although it is very primitive. I trust you may be happy in it while visiting under its roof."
And indeed it was primitive with its wooden shutters and piazza with a stone floor made of pieces of flagging. The rooms were low-ceilinged with windows of tiny panes, whose white muslin curtains were trimmed with ball fringe made by Aunt Susan. There were ingrain carpets on the floor and old-fashioned mahogany furniture—the real thing, not reproductions. It was massive and handsome with exquisite hand carving.
Ethel's floor was covered with the old-fashioned rag carpeting and rugs to match. Vases of roses were on the bureau and stand, evidently put there by "Mr. Thomas" as she called him.
THE NEXT DAY
She slept as she had never before slept and was awakened in the morning by the robins that sang in the white blossomed cherry trees. It was so lovely that she lay quite still to listen. Then she arose, but before dressing she gazed out of the window. They were over a mile from the town. The path up from the gate was bordered on either side by spring flowers. Immense trees hid the road from view but she could hear the toot of the motors in passing and it all seemed strange, for the house was over one hundred years old, and everything, even to the pump in the yard, was so old-fashioned.
Ethel looked sideways at the house on the hill in which Aunt Susan told her she had once lived. It was immense,—more like an Institution. Probably it had been sold and remodeled, and perhaps was something of the sort now, thought Ethel.
She dressed and went down stairs. Aunt Susan must have been up some time, for the house looked so clean, and the odor of roses was everywhere,—roses on the old-fashioned piano, on the mantel, and on the breakfast table.
Ethel ate heartily, everything tasted so good. Old Jane, the maid of all work, had been with her Aunt Susan ever since her father's death many years before, and she was a woman who cooked most deliciously. Ethel wondered why Aunt Susan kept but one maid, although she ceased to wonder at anything after Aunt Susan had finished breakfast.
"Tom lives in Akron at the hotel," said she. "He has many clients, some of whom can only consult him in the evening, and that's why he cannot stay here with me. But until I left for New York," she continued, "I had the village school teacher for company. You see, although this place belongs to Akron, there are many children who cannot journey back and forth to school, so we have a little schoolhouse near. The teacher usually boards with me, and with Jane in the kitchen I am well protected."
Ethel pondered. She had solved the mystery. Aunt Susan was a miser, of that there was no doubt. Imagine a woman of her immense wealth taking a boarder and living as she did. Ethel wondered if at night when everyone was sound asleep she counted her money as misers do; and perhaps it was on this very mahogany table that she emptied the bags before counting.
"What they had to eat was of the best and she enjoyed the ham and eggs and freshly churned butter. After a while she started up stairs, but Aunt Susan was ahead of her.
"Oh, Auntie, I wanted to make my own bed."
"Well, dear, you may after today, if you will. Jane is pretty old to go up and down stairs."
The change was so complete that Ethel felt like a new girl.
"I don't care if she is a miser," she thought, "she's just lovely and so like Grandmother; and I'll have a happy time, I know."
ETHEL LEARNS TO COOK
Here is a page from her letter to her grandmother:
"Oh! my dear Grandmamma, you don't know how happy I am—not being away from those I love, but things are so different. I get up early and after breakfast I help Aunt Susan with the housework, for her maid is too old to go up and down stairs. I have learned to churn—to make butter and pot cheese as well. I dust, make my bed, and sweep my room. (Don't let mother see this. She may consider that I am doing a servant's work).
"I am invited everywhere and lovely people call, but that is because I am the niece of a wealthy woman. And yet people's love for Aunt Susan seems so genuine—not as though they were toadying to her for her money. And Grandmamma, 'Mr. Tom,' as I call him,—Tom Harper—is the finest man I ever met. He is a man—not a man like Harvey Bigelow, mind you,—and people respect him and look up to him. He comes here every other night. He has a buckboard and on Sundays he takes me for long drives. Doesn't he love Aunt Susan though? He told me that there never lived such a good and unselfish woman, and then he told me of all that she had done.
"His brother and he were left orphans without a penny. His father was a clergyman and his mother and Aunt Susan had been friends for years; in fact, he says, 'My mother had been one of Aunt Susan's pupils.' I must have shown surprise for he answered when I said 'What?'—'Yes, before her father died she taught in the High School.' Did you know it, Grandmamma? Well, she did. She's awfully intelligent and now I know the cause of it. Why, she's like a walking dictionary.
"Mr. Tom said that his father and mother died inside of a month, and he and his little brother Fred were left alone. Then brave Aunt Susan, who had loved his parents, came forward and legally adopted them. Think, Grandmamma,—but for her they might have had to go to the Orphan Asylum and wear blue gingham uniforms.
"Then Aunt Susan sent them each to college. Poor Fred contracted typhoid fever and died during his third year. Mr. Tom and Aunt Susan say he was lovely—so gentle and sweet. It is sad to die so young, isn't it? But Mr. Tom graduated from college and studied law with Ex-Judge Green, and if you will believe it, all of the Judge's practice came to him at his death—Judge Green's death I mean—and he told me that he could never repay dear Aunt Susan for her goodness to him and to his brother. It was more than that of a mother, for they were not of her blood.
"I'll close now, for Mr. Tom has come to take me for a long drive. I hope the girls get in to see you often. What do they think of Mamma's giving me permission to join Cousin Kate's Camp Fire Girls? Isn't it great?
"With love and lots of kisses to all, Your affectionate grandchild, Ethel."
A LITTLE DRIVE
That afternoon when Tom took Ethel for a drive he asked: "Do you see that large house on the hill?"
"Yes," replied the girl. "It used to belong to Aunt Susan, didn't it?"
"It did," replied the man, "and she presented it to the town of Akron for an asylum for partially insane people—men and women who have hallucinations only—so that by gentle and humane treatment they may be helped if not permanently cured, for she believes that many who might gain their reason are made hopelessly insane by ill usage. She not only gave the house and land but she added to it a couple of wings, and she has created of it a most charming Sanitarium. I'll take you there tomorrow. You see, Aunt Susan gave it out that if the prominent business men of Akron could raise fifty thousand dollars she would give fifty more, making the sum total of one hundred thousand dollars as a fund for the future support of the Asylum, and by George!" said the young man, "they raised it. So you see so far as money is concerned they are independent. The capital is invested in bonds and stock, and the Asylum is run with the dividends, and is well run, too. Aunt Susan is the head—the President—and at any moment she may surprise them and walk in. The patients are treated with courtesy and a great many are discharged cured; in fact, nearly all. It accommodates only fifty patients—twenty-five of each sex. There's a continuous waiting list and it's seldom that one isn't greatly benefited after having gone there."
No wonder Aunt Susan was beloved by the inhabitants, for Tom told Ethel that she was invariably the first to help anyone in distress.
"So she wasn't a miser, after all," thought the girl—"She gives away everything in charity and she saves her money to do so."
Ethel couldn't fail to observe that Aunt Susan was growing fond of her and her conscience smote her. She felt that she was a hypocrite. Even as she pondered she held in her hand a letter received from her mother which advised her to be tactful and make herself agreeable and invaluable to the old lady,—alter her gowns and make and trim her hats, etc. "You're clever, and from helping me sew you have become proficient and have acquired considerable knowledge of dressmaking. If she's miserly and won't buy new, my child, you can flatter her by remodeling her old gowns, etc. Then she'll grow to depend on you. She'll consider you a good manager and feel that her money will not be wasted by you. Then, when you marry we'll go abroad to associate with peers and duchesses and members of the nobility. You'll feel that your period of imprisonment with Aunt Susan has brought forth fruit."
With a flushed face Ethel read and reread her mother's letter. She blushed with shame. Already she had remodeled some of Aunt Susan's gowns. She was glad that she had done so before the letter came. From an old silk tissue skirt she had fashioned her a lovely neckpiece with long ends. She had also made her a dainty hat of fine straw and lace. She had persuaded her to allow her to dress her hair which grew quite thick on her head. First, as her hair had originally been black, she washed and blued it, making it like silver. Then, parting it in front, she waved it either side and coiled it loosely in the back, and really Aunt Susan looked like another woman,—most lovely and aristocratic. Tom was delighted with the metamorphosis and insisted upon Ethel's taking twenty dollars from him to buy her aunt a new stylish wrap.
"Oh, I'm so glad it all happened before I received this," she said to herself, tearing up the letter. "At least I'm not so contemptible as I might have been had I done as Mamma suggested, for gain only."
Aunt Susan now looked up-to-date, younger and happier, and she was most grateful for everything that Ethel had done for her. They all went to theaters, moving picture shows, and twice a week Tom would hire a motor and they'd take long drives far into the country.
Ethel now knew why Aunt Susan loved the man so dearly. She praised him constantly and the girl thought: "Well, if as Dorothy Kip expresses it he's doing these kind acts to 'build character' with Aunt Susan, at least he's an excellent actor."
They visited the Insane Asylum. It was like a lovely summer hotel and the nurses were most solicitous and polite to the patients. Ethel could understand how they might be cured,—how their poor tired and sick brains were rested and strengthened by humane treatment. It was a wonderful revelation to the young girl—this charity of Aunt Susan's. What a good, worthy woman, and after her death what a reward awaited her if we are to be rewarded according to our good deeds.
Ethel was changing. She had lost a good deal of her worldly pride. Cousin Kate was expected the following week and she was looking forward to trying on her Camp Fire costume, and to the happy days that were to come.
One morning Aunt Susan sat by the window sewing. She looked actually lovely, or at least Ethel thought so, and longed for Grandmamma to see the change that she had wrought. As she gazed upon the old lady she said to herself: "Perhaps, it is because I'm growing so fond of her."
Aunt Susan had on a white silk sacque that Ethel had made, trimmed with rare old lace ruffles at the wrist and collar, while her hair was very white and pretty. There was a gentle breeze blowing in at the window, and little curly locks fell upon her forehead.
Ethel was knitting a sweater. She had learned the stitch in the town where she had bought her wool, and she was making one for her mother. In after years she never knitted that she didn't think of the conversation that took place between Aunt Susan and herself. The ground was covered with white petals of apple and cherry blossoms and it was as though the snow had fallen in May. She remembered everything connected with that conversation, and later in life she could close her eyes and hear the robins calling and see the butterflies flitting among the bushes, for that morning was the turning point in her life.
"Aunt Susan," began the girl, knitting very rapidly, "Mr. Tom tells me that his mother was your pupil. Did you teach very long?"
"Yes, Ethel," she replied, "I taught for years. Father, although a rich man, expected his girls to do something, and there he was wise. He always said that a girl should have some occupation the same as a boy; then, when ship-wrecks came, they'd know how to swim. In other words, when one's money was taken away there would be something to fall back upon. Your grandmother took music lessons and taught for a while, but she was pretty and during her first visit to New York, Archie Hollister fell desperately in love and married her. Tom's mother was a fine character and my favorite pupil. In so many ways Tom resembles her. She was clever and bright, and so is Tom. Why, Ethel, he has more than paid me for what I have done for him and Freddie. Today he's not twenty-five and he's one of our cleverest lawyers. I shouldn't be surprised if some day Ohio would send him to Congress. You know some of our cleverest men come from this state,—presidents and statesmen—and Aunt Susan's cheeks grew pink with excitement.
"And dear little Fred," she continued—"he was more like a baby. He sort of clung to me; but, Ethel, they were like my own children, and you've no idea how happy they made me."
"Aunt Susan," said Ethel, with her cheeks aflame, "don't think me impertinent but you seem different from an——"
"An old maid," laughed Aunt Susan, "that's what you dared not say."
Ethel nodded and continued: "From the different photographs I have seen of you, you must have been lovely. Why have you never married?"
Aunt Susan blushed and said in a low voice: "Ethel, I have been married."
The girl started.
"Haven't you noticed that people call me Mrs. Carpenter?"
"Yes," replied the girl, drawing nearer with wonder in her eyes, "but I know several maiden ladies who are called 'Mrs.' Mamma has a second cousin—she's dead now, I mean—but I remember her. She speculated in Wall Street and had an office, and she insisted upon being called Mrs."
"Yes, I've heard of women like her," replied Aunt Susan, "but I married a man by the same name, although no relation. Has your grandmother never spoken of him?"
"Never," replied the girl.
"Well, Alice has always hidden the family skeleton, but I will tell you all about it.
"When I was about thirty-six years of age I married Robert Carpenter. I was alone and wealthy. I loved him and tried to make his life happy, but he drank. He had inherited that habit from his father, and drinking led to gambling. He grew worse and worse. One night under the influence of drink he came home and seemed determined to pick a quarrel. Seeing that he was irresponsible I made no reply to his very insulting remarks. That angered him beyond endurance. He struck and threw me across the room. Then he left the house.
"Over on the hill by the Asylum is the grave of my little son who was born and died that night."
"Yes, my dear, I have been a wife and mother. Of course, I knew nothing until the next day. I recovered consciousness but Robert had gone. He had taken all of my money that he could find in the house and he had not gone alone. His companion was a disreputable woman from the town."
Aunt Susan paused and looked over toward the little grave on the hillside.
"It seemed," she continued, "as though God, who knew my sorrow at losing my little one, sent me my two dear boys—Tom and Fred. They came into my life when I most needed them and were my greatest comfort, for I was a lonely woman, my dear. One day I received a letter written in a strange hand saying that my husband was ill and not likely to live—that he wished for me, to ask my forgiveness, and he begged me for God's sake to go to him. I went. He was in Detroit in a squalid boarding house. I was shocked at the change. I had not realized that a man could so lose his good looks as he had done. I took him to a clean place kept by a woman who had been highly recommended. Upon my arrival he wept bitterly and begged my pardon. Then I was glad that I had never divorced him as my friends had advised, for the poor man had been deserted by his companion when the money had gone. He had kept on sinking lower and lower, ashamed to appeal to me until when what he thought to be his last illness came upon him he sent for me to ask my forgiveness."
"Did you give it?" asked the girl.
"Yes, Ethel, I did, and I gave it freely, because for the year past he had been stone blind. I was so glad that I could cheer him up and make the few remaining days of his life liveable."
"Did you ask him of his companion?" asked Ethel.
"No, he never spoke of her, nor did I. Had he wished to have told me he would have done so. Robert had many loveable traits—yes, many noble traits—but it was drink that ruined him. He was not mercenary. I had money, but until he began to drink he was too proud to take it from me. He was truly fond of me and would have married me had I been poor, but of course after he had started the downward course he lost his pride.
"Well, I joined him in Detroit and stayed until after he died. His sight never returned, but I read to him and cheered him up, and I had the satisfaction of knowing that I made the last part of his life happier. That's all, my dear. It is almost too sad to tell to a young girl."
Ethel sat and gazed upon her,—the woman who had shown such mercy to a brute,—a wife deserted by her husband,—a mother never able to feel the hand of her little child upon her cheek,—a woman whose life had been spent in helping others, with no thought of self. The tears came into the girl's eyes. She seemed to behold a bright halo about Aunt Susan's head, and it filled her with awe. Suddenly she saw herself as she really was,—the daughter of a selfish, mercenary mother, whose sole ambition was for her future position in life. And this was her mission—to visit this noble woman with a view to ingratiating herself and becoming her heiress,—to make her think she loved her,—to make herself indispensable to her. Yes, those were her mother's words. She had destroyed the letter lest it should be seen, but she knew it by heart. The young girl saw it all. Her lips quivered and she felt so utterly unworthy that she fell on her knees and buried her face in Aunt Susan's lap, sobbing bitterly.
A NEW ETHEL
"Oh! Aunt Susan, you don't understand and I am afraid to tell you, but I am such a wicked girl—such a hypocrite, and so unworthy of your relationship and love. I am a cheater and a waster. My life is all lies and sham. It always has been lies and sham. I wish to tell you everything so that you may see me as I am.
"I came here to get into your good graces—to win your love that thereby I might gain your fortune and marry into one of our old families—a man of great social prominence—and I've been trying to make you like me and make myself necessary to you. I've tried to give you the impression that I was clever so that in case you wished to make me your heiress you would not hesitate for fear that I might be extravagant and a spendthrift. I can't tell you how bad I am. I've been ashamed of being seen with you on account of the queer way you dressed. I'm not fit to put my head in your lap—no, I'm not fit to stay under your roof any longer," and Ethel's sobs were pitiful to hear. She became hysterical. Then Aunt Susan took her in her arms.
"Child," she began, "don't cry. You have told me nothing new. I understood from the first why you came home with me. You have many noble traits of character. Your grandmother and I thought that under different influences you might become a splendid woman. It was she who suggested my inviting you. You are a good girl, Ethel, and above all you have a kind and tender heart. You are a Carpenter in spite of your mother, and anyone bearing my father's name can not go far from right. You have shown that this morning. Now, my dear, in this world environments have much to do with one's character, and you have never had a chance, my poor little girl," and Aunt Susan kissed and soothed her as a mother might have done. "Now forget it all, my dear child, just as I shall forget. Let us begin anew from this morning."
"But, Aunt Susan," sobbed the girl, "I feel so unworthy, and you are so sweet to forgive me. I should think you'd hate me and want me to leave your house. But, believe me, I do love you—I love you as dearly as I love Grandmamma and Papa. Excepting in books I never knew that any one woman could be so good and self-sacrificing as you are. Oh, will you believe that I don't want your money, and that I only care for your respect and forgiveness, and your love, if you can give it?"
"Yes, my dear, I believe every word that you say. I believe in you from now on," and Ethel threw her arms around Aunt Susan's neck and wept for joy.
AUNT SUSAN'S TRIALS
"And now sit down, my dear, and I will tell you something. First you can never be my heiress, for I have no money to give away or leave to anyone. Tom supports me entirely. You look surprised and I don't wonder. I never told your grandmother. She is old and, owning the house in New York as she does, would probably insist upon my living with her; and until a year ago I had hopes of recovering some of my property that I had been cheated out of, but I have given it up. I love pretty gowns and pretty things as well as anyone, but I am saving the money that Tom insists upon giving me to spend on myself for him. I wish to leave him something at my death. Now I will tell you about it and how I lost my fortune.
"At the time I adopted the boys I was a very wealthy woman. Previous to that year I had given away a great deal for charity, but I had a hobby and that hobby was to establish a humane Insane Asylum. I had seen so much cruelty practiced in different institutions where I happened to know some of the inmates, and I had heard of such shocking treatment received by patients, that I resolved to establish a reform. I gave my handsome home for the Asylum. I spent large sums in fitting it up, so that it might seem like a beautiful resort to the poor souls, and as Tom told you, I succeeded in what I undertook. The boys went through school and college,—or Tom did, and poor Fred would have graduated had he lived a year longer. It was sad that he had to die, and so young, too." Aunt Susan wept as she told of his death.
"Perhaps, you remember, Ethel, of reading or of hearing your father speak of the failure of the Great Western Cereal Company four years ago. No? I was under the impression that your father owned a few shares of stock. Well, all I possessed in the world was invested in that Company. It produced the greatest excitement known in years; in fact, throughout the entire West there were panics. Everyone who had a little money saved up bought stock. The dividends were enormous, but they were bogus; that is, they were paid to each one from his or her own money. It was one of those unprincipled concerns. They had been after me for a long while. They knew that I was honest, wealthy, and respected, and that my name would attract. At first, I put in only a few thousand; then, as it prospered, I put in more, and finally I put in all that I possessed, for I wished to make another fortune that I might build more 'Homes' and do greater good to suffering humanity. The week before its failure what do you think? Three of the principals sailed for Europe. Two were caught, tried and are now serving a long term in prison. Two others committed suicide. Being one of its directors, when the bubble burst I gave up everything I possessed to help pay some of its poorer creditors, but it only went a little way; and I, too, was a victim with the rest. Had I confided my business to Tom he would have advised me not to invest in it, for Tom has a wonderful way of advising people for the best, but I kept it a secret so that when he should come of age I could surprise him, for then I intended to give him full charge of all my affairs. So you see, Ethel, I may have appeared close and penurious, but now you understand why. Tom, although getting on finely, works very hard for every penny, and at times he is almost too generous."
"Oh, Aunt Susan," said the girl drying her eyes, "I feel happy now that you know all and don't despise me. I'm glad that you're poor and that I shan't get any of your money. I only wish that I might go to college. Yes, I'd work my way through to get a good education so that I could be able to earn my living and not take everything from poor Papa, who works so hard," and Ethel kissed the old lady many times.
COUSIN KATE ARRIVES
Ethel was too loyal to read her mother's letters to Aunt Susan who always smiled when she received one, but Mrs. Hollister wrote often asking her how she was progressing.
"Aunt Susan writes Grandmother that she has grown to love you very dearly, Ethel, and I see that you have followed my advice like my own daughter. It is now the sixth of June; probably, you will go with Cousin Kate to camp soon. I wish it was all over. I don't like the idea at all. It will throw you in with a common set of girls, I'm sure. We have saved quite a little this summer by staying home. The girls come in when they are in town and Grandmother enjoys their visits. Mrs. Bigelow and I met on the Avenue. She inquired all about you and I told her that upon Aunt Susan's death you would probably be a very wealthy girl. She admires you immensely and she told me in confidence that Harvey says when you are a few years older and 'come out' you will take Society by storm."
Everyone in the younger set of Akron liked Ethel. She acted in private theatricals; she sang and played, attended teas, and was sought after for bridge. She gave card parties, and the young people raved over the quaintness of the old-fashioned house. She took long walks with Tom. She inveigled him into high collars and discarding shoestring ties or wearing cravats in a bow with loose ends. She even persuaded him to give up slouch hats and dress more up-to-date. He and Aunt Susan dubbed her the "Rejuvenator and Reformer," and she was contented and happy.
Cousin Kate arrived and Ethel was overjoyed upon seeing her, she looked so fine and strong. Her father came with her just to see 'Archie's girl,' and Ethel loved him instantly. He was so like her father that the tears came into her pretty eyes when at the depot she kissed him goodbye.
SELECTING THE COSTUME
"You like Father, don't you?" asked Kate of Ethel, as they briskly walked toward the shopping district.
"Like him!" replied the girl, "why, Kate, I just love him. He reminds me of Grandmamma and Papa, but he's more like Grandmamma."
"He is like her," replied her cousin, "and I tell you, Ethel, he's just a dear. But, by the way, wasn't Aunt Susan clever to get your mother to consent to your becoming a Camp Fire Girl? I was so surprised. You see I had already spoken to Grandmother and you about it. Then I thought I'd tell Aunt Bella and get her interested in it, and ask her to let you join my Camp Fire, for Uncle Archie promised me that you should come out to Ohio and make me a visit. I had it in my mind that were you to come this summer it would be lovely for you to go with us to Camp, but do you know, Aunt Bella didn't like it a little bit; in fact, she became very angry, nor could I convince her of the virtue of the Camp Fires nor even the Scouts. She made me promise not to mention the subject again, and on no account in your presence. As I was her guest, I promised. What knowledge you had you received before. In this case the 'end has justified the means,' and it was consummated by Aunt Susan, so it's all right. But here we are. This is the store where they take orders for Camp Fire costumes. It will take four days to make what you need. We'll have to hurry them as we leave in five."
"Oh, Kate," began Ethel in a worried voice, "do you think that I should let Aunt Susan pay for them. She was awfully generous to offer, but when I accepted I thought that she was wealthy, you know, and now it's different. I really feel as though I should not accept."
"Do you wish my advice?" answered Kate. "You accept them. Why, you might offend her by refusing. It's her pleasure to start you in this good work. She obtained your mother's consent and she wishes to present you with an outfit. Oh, no, it would not do to even demur. Besides, they are very inexpensive. If you wish, the ceremonial gown of khaki color you may buy yourself. It can be purchased by the yard and it's of galatea which is cheap. You are clever with your needle and you can embroider it with beads and shells. You can also make the leather trimming in no time, and there's your costume complete. But let her pay for the other. So come in and be measured."
The girls selected a blue cloth skirt with pockets. The skirt buttoned all the way up and down the front and back. They selected two blouses—serge and galatea—each matching the skirt. The waists were cut open in the neck. They also ordered a pair of blue serge bloomers to be used in camping or hiking. These with a hat completed the purchase.
The hat was of blue cloth with a silver grey "W" on a dark blue background. The "W" meant "Wohelo" and could be used as a cockade. The saleswoman explained to Ethel that an emblem of two brown crossed logs was to be worn on the chest of the blouses. Honors gained in water sports might be embroidered as decorations around the collar. The same crossed logs woven into a blue background were used as sleeve emblems. Ethel saw the sample suit and was charmed. The decorations were unique and stylish.
"Please send them direct to Columbus," said Kate, as she paid the bill, and turning she said to Ethel: "You will be there, and it will save time. They generally fit perfectly; if not, as you know something of sewing, we can alter them to fit."
"I guess I do know something of sewing," replied Ethel. "I can do beautiful work and I can ride horseback, and I'm at home on a 'bike'."
Cousin Kate laughed.
"Well, I'm glad of that, for at first when you start in you'll be a Wood-Gatherer. Three months is the regular time, but you will be living in camp and will probably be able to fulfil all requirements in a month. Your knowing these things will help you too."
"Tell me something about it, Kate," said Ethel on their way home. "After you have been a 'Wood Gatherer' you become a 'Fire Maker'?" she asked.
"Yes. When you first enter, the Guardian of your Camp Fire gives you a silver ring on which is engraved a bundle of seven fagots, representing the seven points of the law. You give her the size, your address, etc., and she gets it at Headquarters for you, announcing your desire to become one. You must promise not to sell nor give it away. It may belong only to a Camp Fire Girl. Upon your right arm, as you already know, are the crossed logs, etc. When you become a Fire Maker you may add the orange color to your Wood Gatherer's emblem. This color represents flame, and when you advance to the position of Torch Bearer you may add a touch of white which represents smoke from the flame. Then, while you are in that class, you may wear the Fire Maker's bracelet. 'Fire' is the symbol of our organization. For decorative purposes it may be represented by the rising sun.