THE CAMP FIRE GIRLS AT SCHOOL
or, The Wohelo Weavers
By Hildegard G. Frey
"The Camp Fire Girls in the Maine Woods", "The Camp Fire Girls at Onoway House", "The Camp Fire Girls Go Motoring."
CHRONICLES IN COLOR.
"Speaking of diaries," said Gladys Evans, "what do you think of this for one?" She spread out a bead band, about an inch and a half wide and a yard or more long, in which she had worked out in colors the main events of her summer's camping trip with the Winnebago Camp Fire Girls. The girls dropped their hand work and crowded around Gladys to get a better look at the band, which told so cleverly the story of their wonderful summer.
"Oh, look," cried "Sahwah" Brewster, excitedly pointing out the figures, "there's Shadow River and the canoe floating upside down, and Ed Roberts serenading Gladys—only it turned out to be Sherry serenading Nyoda—and the Hike, and the Fourth of July pageant, and everything!" The Winnebagos were loud in their expressions of admiration, and the "Don't you remembers" fell thick and fast as they recalled the events depicted in the bead band.
It was a crisp evening in October and the Winnebagos were having their Work Meeting at the Bradford house, as the guests of Dorothy Bradford, or "Hinpoha," as she was known in the Winnebago circle. Here were all the girls we left standing on the boat dock at Loon Lake, looking just the same as when we saw them last, a trifle less sunburned perhaps, but just as full of life and spirit. Scissors, needles and crochet hooks flew fast as the seven girls and their Guardian sat around the cheerful wood fire in the library. Sahwah was tatting, Gladys and Migwan were embroidering, and Miss Kent, familiarly known as "Nyoda," the Guardian of the Winnebago group, was "mending her hole-proof hose," as she laughingly expressed it. The three more quiet girls in the circle, Nakwisi the Star Maiden, Chapa the Chipmunk, and Medmangi the Medicine Man Girl, were working out their various symbols in crochet patterns. Hinpoha was down on the floor popping corn over the glowing logs and turning over a row of apples which had been set before the fireplace to warm. The firelight streaming over her red curls made them shine like burning embers, until it seemed as if some of the fire had escaped from the grate and was playing around her face. Every few minutes she reached out her hand and dealt a gentle slap on the nose of "Mr. Bob," a young cocker spaniel attached to the house of Bradford, who persistently tried to take the apples in his mouth. Nyoda finally came to the rescue and diverted his attention by giving him her darning egg to chew. The room was filled with the light-hearted chatter of the girls. Sahwah was relating with many giggles, how she had gotten into a scrape at school.
"And old Professor Fuzzytop made me bring all my books and sit up at that little table beside his desk for a week. Of course I didn't mind that a bit, because then I could see what everybody in the room was doing instead of just the few around me. The only thing I prayed for was that Miss Muggins wouldn't come in and see me, because she has taken a sort of fancy to me and makes it easy for me in Latin, but if I ever fall from grace she won't pass me. But of all the luck, right in the middle of the Fourth Hour when everybody was in the room studying, in she walked. I saw her as she opened the door and quick as a wink I opened up the big dictionary on the table and buried my nose in it, so she'd think I had gone up there of my own accord. She stopped and looked at me, then patted me encouragingly on the shoulder and remarked what a studious girl I was. I thought everybody in the room would die trying not to laugh, but nobody gave me away. She came in during the Fourth Hour for several days after that, and every time I flew to the sheltering arms of the dictionary, and she always made some approving remark out loud. Now she thinks I'm a shark and I have a better stand-in than ever with her. She told her Senior session room that there was a girl in the Junior room who was so keen after knowledge that no matter when she came into the room she always found her consulting the dictionary!"
Sahwah's imitation of the elderly and precise Miss Muggins was so close that the girls shrieked with laughter. Even Nyoda, who was a "faculty," and should have been the ally of the deluded instructor, was too much amused to say a word. "By the way, Sahwah," she said when the laughter had died down, "how are you coming on in Latin? The last time I saw you your Cicero had a strangle hold on you." Sahwah made a fearful grimace, and recited sarcastically:
"Not showers to larks more pleasing, Not sunshine to the bee, Not sleep to toil more easing, Than Latin prose to me!
"The flocks shall leave the mountains, The dew shall flee the rose, The nymphs forsake the fountains, Ere I forsake my prose!"
Nyoda laughed and shook her head at Sahwah, and "Migwan," otherwise Elsie Gardiner, looked up at the despiser of prose composition in mild wonderment. "I don't see how you can make such a fuss about learning Latin," she said, "it's the least of my troubles."
"But I'm not such a genius as you," answered Sahwah, "and my head won't stand the strain." Her mental limitations did not seem to cause her any anxiety, however, for she hummed a merry tune as she drew her tatting shuttle in and out.
Migwan leaned back in her chair and looked around the tastefully furnished room with quiet enjoyment. This library in the Bradford house was a never-ending delight to her. It was finished in dark oak and the walls were hung with a rich brown paper. The floor was polished and covered with oriental rugs, whose patterns she loved to trace. At one end of the room was a big fireplace and on each side of it a cozy seat, piled with tapestry covered cushions. Over the fireplace hung two slender swords, the property of some departed Bradford. The handsome chairs were upholstered in brown leather to match the other furnishings, and everything in the room, from the Italian marble Psyche on its pedestal in the corner to the softly glowing lamps, gave the impression of wealth and culture. Migwan contrasted it with the shabby sitting room in her own home and sighed. She was keenly responsive to beautiful surroundings and would have been happy to stay forever in this library. But beautiful as the furnishings were, they were the least part of the attraction. The real drawing card were the books that filled the cases on three sides of the room. There were books of every kind; fiction, poetry, history, travel, science; and whole sets of books in handsome bindings that Migwan fairly revelled in whenever she came to visit. Hinpoha herself was not fond of reading anything but fiction, and although she had the freedom of all the cases she never looked at anything but "story books." Before her parents went to Europe they had tried making her keep an average of one book of fiction to one of another kind in the hope of instilling into her a love for essays and history, but in the absence of her father and mother, history and essays were having a long vacation and fiction was working overtime.
"Let's play something," said Sahwah when the apples and popcorn had disappeared; "I'm tired of sitting still."
"Can't somebody please think of a new game?" said Hinpoha. "We've played everything we know until I'm sick of it."
"I thought of one the other day," said Gladys quietly. "I named it the 'Camp Fire Game.' You play it like Stage Coach, or Fruit Basket, only instead of taking parts of a coach or names of fruits you take articles that belong to the Camp Fire, like bead band, ring, moccasin, bracelet, fire, honor beads, symbol, fringe, Wohelo, hand sign, bow and drill, Mystic Fire, etc. Then somebody tells a story about Camp Fire Girls, and every time one of those articles is mentioned every one must get up and turn around. But if the words 'Ceremonial Meeting' or 'Council Fire' are mentioned, then all must change seats and the story teller tries to get a seat in the scramble, and the one who gets left out has to go on with the story."
"Good!" cried Nyoda, "let's play it. You tell the story first."
Gladys stood up in the center of the room and began: "Once upon a time there were a group of Camp Fire Girls called the Winnebagos, and they went to school in the Professors' big tepee on the avenue, where they pursued knowledge for all they were worth. So much wisdom did they imbibe that it was necessary to wear a head band to keep their heads from splitting open. Wherever they went they were immediately recognized by their rings and bracelets, and were pointed out as 'those dreadful young savages.' The professors and teachers hoped every day that they would not come to school, but they never stayed away because they received honor beads from their Guardian Mother for not being absent. Sometimes it seemed as if the tricks they did in class room could only have been accomplished by their having consulted one another, and yet it was impossible to catch them whispering in class because they always conversed by hand signs. However, this also led to disaster one day when one of our well-beloved sisters of the bow and drill tried to make the hand sign for 'girl,' and raised her hand above her head. The Big Chief, who was conducting the lesson, thought she wanted something, and said benevolently: 'What is your desire?' Absent-mindedly she replied, 'It is my desire to become a Camp Fire Girl and obey the Law of the Camp Fire, which is to seek beauty, give service, pursue knowledge, be trustworthy, hold on to health, glorify work, and be happy,' 'Begone,' said the Big Chief, 'what do you think this is, a Ceremonial Meeting?'"
At the words "Ceremonial Meeting" all the girls jumped up to change places, and in the scramble a vase was knocked off the table and broken. Every one sat rooted to the spot with fright, all except Mr. Bob, who fled at the sound of the crash as if he had been the guilty one. Hinpoha calmly collected the pieces and carried them out. "My mother will be extremely grateful to you for this when she comes home," she said. "If there was one vase in the house she hated it was this one. My Aunt Phoebe brought it from the World's Fair in Chicago and thinks it's the chief ornament of our home. Won't mother be glad when she finds it broken and she can prove that none of us did it?" The tension relaxed and the girls breathed easily again.
"When are your mother and father coming home?" asked Nyoda.
"They sailed last week on the Francona," answered Hinpoha.
"Weren't you worried to death to have them in Europe so long with the war going on?" asked Migwan.
"No, not much," said Hinpoha, "because they have been in Switzerland all the while, which is safe enough, and as they are coming home on a neutral vessel they have had no trouble getting passage. They should be here in a week." And Hinpoha's eyes shone with a great, glad light, for although she had been having the jolliest time imaginable, doing as she pleased in the house, which was in the care of easy-going "Aunt Grace," who never cared a bit what Hinpoha did so long as it did not bother her, she missed her mother sorely, and could hardly wait until she returned. Nyoda saw the transfigured look that came into her eyes when she spoke of her mother's home coming, and her own eyes went dim, for her mother had died when she was just Hinpoha's age.
After the breaking of the vase the game stopped and the girls sat down again in a quiet circle. "Do you know," said Nyoda, "that bead band Gladys made has given me an idea? Why can't we keep a personal record in bead work? It would be a great deal more interesting and picturesque than keeping a diary, and there would be no danger of your little sister getting hold of it and reading your secrets out loud to her friends."
"It's a great idea," said Migwan, who had always kept a diary and had suffered much from an inquisitive brother and sister.
"Besides," said Sahwah, "think how exciting it would be at Ceremonial Meetings, to sit with your life story hanging around your neck, and know that your neighbor was just breaking her neck trying to figure out what the little pictures meant. Wouldn't old Fuzzytop love to be able to read mine, though!" And Sahwah giggled extravagantly as she saw in her mind's eye the bead record of some of her activities in the Junior session room.
"Now, about all our activities," continued Nyoda, "are covered by the seven points of the Camp Fire Law, so that everything we do either fulfills or breaks the Law. What do you say if we register our commendable doings in colors, but record the event in black every time we break the Law?"
The girls thought this would be a fascinating game, and Sahwah remarked that she must send to the Outfitting Company for a bunch of black beads directly, as she had only a very few left.
"It's a good thing we didn't keep this record last summer," said Gladys with a thoughtful look in her eyes, "or mine would have been black from one end to the other."
"It wouldn't, either," said Sahwah vehemently. "You did more for us in the end than we ever did for you. And my sins were as scarlet as yours, every bit."
Since that terrible day in camp Gladys seemed to have been made over, and never once reverted to her old selfishness and superciliousness, so that she now had the love and esteem of every one of the Winnebagos. All mention of her old short-comings was quickly silenced by Sahwah, who now adored her, heart and soul. Gladys's entrance into the public school after two years at Miss Russell's had caused quite a stir among the girls of the neighborhood, who in times past had been wont to consider her proud and haughty, but her simple, unaffected manner quickly won for her a secure place in the affections of all. Teachers and scholars alike loved her.
Sahwah was still counting up her own misdemeanors at camp when the Evans's automobile came for Gladys, and reluctantly all the girls prepared to go home. It always seemed harder to break away from Hinpoha's house than from any of the others'. In spite of the rich furnishings it had a cozy, homey atmosphere of being used from one end to the other, and no guest, however humble, ever felt awkward or out of place there. Thus it usually happens that when people are entirely at ease in their own surroundings, they soon make others feel the same way too.
A SUDDEN MISFORTUNE.
As the day drew near for the return of her mother and father Hinpoha went all over the house from garret to cellar seeing that everything was put to rights. She and the other Winnebagos took a trip into the country for bittersweet to decorate the fireplace in the library and in her father's study upstairs. With pardonable pride she arranged a little exhibition of the Craft work she had done in camp and the sketches she had made of the lake and hills. On the table in her mother's room she placed a work basket she had made of reed and lined with silk.
"Gracious sakes, child," said her aunt, from her rocking chair by the front window of the living-room, "what a fuss you are going to! One would think it was your Aunt Phoebe who was coming instead of your mother and father. They'll be just as glad to see you if the house isn't as neat as a pin from top to bottom." And Aunt Grace resumed her rocking and her novel, as unconcerned about the imminent return of the travelers as if it were nothing more than the daily visit of the milkman. Nothing short of an earthquake would ever shake Aunt Grace out of her settled complacency.
Hinpoha went happily on, seeing that every tack and screw was in place, and arranging the books in the cases to correspond to her father's catalog, for they had become sadly mixed during his absence. She even took out a volume of his favorite essays and pored over them diligently so that she might discuss them with him and show that she had used some of her time to good advantage. She straightened out her bureau drawers and mended all her clothes and stockings. When everything was in order she viewed the result with a happy feeling at the pleasure it would give her mother when she saw it. Hinpoha's most prominent trait in times past had not been neatness.
Nyoda, who had been called in to make a final inspection before Hinpoha was satisfied, wondered if all the girls were "seeking beauty" as earnestly as Hinpoha was. She envied Hinpoha the homecoming of her mother from the bottom of her heart. This feeling was particularly strong one afternoon as she sat in the school room after the close of school, looking over some English papers. It was the anniversary of the death of her mother and she sat recalling little incidents of her childhood before this best of chums had been taken away. As she sat there half dreaming she heard voices in the hall before her door.
"Have you heard the latest?" asked one voice.
"No," said the second voice, "what is it?"
"Why, the Francona has gone down," answered the first voice. "Struck a mine in the ocean."
At the word "Francona" Nyoda started up. That was the boat Hinpoha's parents were coming on! She hurried out into the hall after the two teachers. "What did you say about the Francona?" she asked. They handed her the "extra" they had been reading and she saw with her own eyes the account of the disaster. The list of "saved" was pitifully small, and Hinpoha's parents were not among them. Soon she came to the notation, "Among the lost are Mr. and Mrs. Adam Bradford, prominent Cleveland lawyer and his wife. Mr. Bradford was the son of the late Judge Bradford and a well-known man about town." Of what little avail is "prominence" when calamity stretches out her cruel hands! "Well known" and obscure gave up their lives together and found a grave side by side.
"You look like a ghost, Miss Kent," said one of the teachers. "Any friends of yours on board?"
"Dorothy Bradford's mother and father," answered Nyoda, "one of the pupils here at school."
Leaving her work unfinished, she hastened to Hinpoha's house. The news had just been learned there. Aunt Grace had fainted and was being revived with salts. Hinpoha flung herself on Nyoda and clung to her like a drowning person. Between neighbors and friends coming to sympathize and reporters from the newspapers seeking interviews the house was a pandemonium. Nyoda saw that Hinpoha would never quiet down in those surroundings and took her away to her own apartment. Of all the friends who offered consolation Nyoda was the one to whom Hinpoha turned for comfort. Here the brilliant young college woman and the simple girl were on a level, for they shared a common experience, and each could comprehend the other's sorrow.
Poor Hinpoha! She had need of all the consolation that Nyoda could give her in the days that followed. Full of bitterness as her cup was, there was to be added yet one more drop—the drop that caused it to run over. Aunt Phoebe came to live with her and be the mistress of the Bradford house. At some time in the past Judge Bradford and his sister Phoebe had been named joint guardians of Hinpoha, but the Judge was now dead and Aunt Phoebe was the sole guardian. Aunt Phoebe was a spinster of the type usually described in books, tall and spare, with steely blue eyes. She was sixty years old, but she might have been a hundred and sixty, for all the sympathy she had with youth. She had been disappointed in love when she was twenty and had never thought kindly of any man since. From her earliest childhood Hinpoha had dreaded the very name of Aunt Phoebe. When she came to visit a restraint fell over the whole house. The usual lively chatter at the dinner table was hushed, and Aunt Phoebe held forth in solemn tones, generally berating some unfortunate person who nearly always happened to be a good friend of Mrs. Bradford's. Hinpoha would be called up for a minute examination of her clothes and manners and would invariably do something which was not right in her great aunt's eyes.
She had a vivid recollection of going tobogganing down the long front walk one winter day, her jolly mother on the sled with her, steering it adroitly around the corner and up the sidewalk for a distance after leaving the slope. Such fun they were having that they did not look to see if the road was clear, and went bumping into a female figure that was coming majestically along the street, knocking her off her feet and into a snowdrift. It was Aunt Phoebe, coming to make a formal afternoon call. She sat bolt upright in the snow and adjusted her lorgnette to see if by any chance her grandniece could be one of those rowdy children. When she discovered that it was not only Hinpoha, but her mother as well, frolicking so indecorously, she was speechless. Mrs. Bradford started to make an abject apology, but the sight of Aunt Phoebe sitting in the snowdrift with her lorgnette was too much for her and she went off into a peal of laughter, in which Hinpoha joined gleefully. It was weeks before Aunt Phoebe could be coaxed to make another visit. And this was the woman who was coming to take the place of Hinpoha's beloved mother!
Aunt Grace left the day she came. There was not enough room in one house for her and Aunt Phoebe. With Aunt Phoebe came "Silky," a wiggling, snapping Skye terrier. He gave one glance at genial Mr. Bob, who was rolling on his back before the fireplace, and with a growl fastened his teeth into his neck. Hinpoha rescued her pet and bore him away to her room, where she shed tears of despair while he licked her hand sympathetically. Aunt Phoebe's first act was to put Hinpoha into deep mourning. Hinpoha objected strenuously, but there was no help, and she went to school swathed from head to foot in black. Nyoda was wrathful at the sight, for if there was one point she felt strongly about it was putting children into mourning. Among the gaily dressed girls Hinpoha stood out like some dark spirit from the underworld, casting a gloom wherever she went.
"Where is that beautiful vase I brought your mother from the World's Fair?" asked Aunt Phoebe one day, suddenly missing it.
"It was accidently broken at our last Camp Fire meeting," answered Hinpoha, with a tightening around her heart when she thought of that last happy gathering.
"Camp Fire!" said Aunt Phoebe with a snort. "You don't mean to tell me that you are mixed up in any such foolishness as that?"
"I certainly am," said Hinpoha energetically, "and it isn't foolishness, either. I've learned more since I have been a Camp Fire Girl than I did in all the years before."
"Well, you may consider yourself graduated, then," said Aunt Phoebe, drily, "for I'll have no such nonsense about me. I can teach you all you need to know outside of what you learn in school."
"Camp Fire always had mother's fullest approval," said Hinpoha darkly.
"I dare say," returned her aunt. "But I want you to understand once for all that I won't have any girls holding 'meetings' here, to upset the house and break valuable ornaments."
"But you don't care if I go to them at other girls' houses, do you?" asked Hinpoha, the fear gripping her that she was to be denied the consolation of these weekly gatherings with the Winnebagos.
"I don't want you to have anything to do with that Camp Fire business," said Aunt Phoebe in a tone of finality, and Hinpoha left the room, her heart swelling with bitterness. She was too wise to argue the point with Aunt Phoebe, and resolved to depend on Nyoda to show her the way. She dried her tears and went down to the living room and began to play softly on the piano. It had been her mother's piano, the wedding gift of her father, and it seemed that her mother's spirit hovered over it. It was the first time she had touched the keys since that awful Wednesday when the world had been turned into chaos; she had had no heart to play, but to-day the sound of the music comforted her and her bitter resentment against her aunt lost some of its sting. She played on, lost in memories, when suddenly the sharp voice of her aunt brought her back to earth. "What does this mean?" cried Aunt Phoebe, "playing on the piano when your father and mother have just died! I never heard of such a thing! Come away immediately and don't open that piano again until our period of mourning is over." She closed the piano and locked it, putting the key into her bag.
Under Aunt Phoebe's management the house soon lost its look of inviting friendliness. The blinds were always kept drawn, so that even on the brightest days the rooms had a gloomy appearance. No more cheerful wood fires crackled and glowed in the grate. They made ashes on the rugs and were extravagant, as the house was heated by steam. The bookcases were locked and Hinpoha was forbidden to read fiction, as this was not proper when one was in mourning. "You will become acquainted with much pleasant literature reading to me while I crochet," she said when Hinpoha rose in revolt at this edict. The "pleasant literature" which Aunt Phoebe was just then perusing was a History of the Presbyterian Church in eleven volumes, which bored Hinpoha so it nearly gagged her.
Besides, Aunt Phoebe constantly found fault with Hinpoha's manner of reading. It was either too loud or not loud enough; either too fast or too slow, but it was never right. That reading aloud was the last straw to Hinpoha. After sitting still a whole afternoon getting her school lessons, she longed to move about after supper, but then Aunt Phoebe expected her to sit still the entire evening and entertain her with the activities of the Early Presbytery. After nearly a week of this deadly dullness Hinpoha was ready to fly. And yet Aunt Phoebe was not conscious that there was anything wrong in the way she was treating Hinpoha. She cared for her in her frozen way. She was merely trying to bring her up in the way she herself had been brought up by a maiden aunt, not taking into account that this was another day and age. In her time it was considered the proper thing to shut down on all lightheartedness after a death in the family, and she was adhering steadfastly to the old principles. She was yet to learn that she could not force obsolete customs upon a girl who had lived for sixteen years in the sunlight of modern ideas.
All Hinpoha's troubles were confided to Nyoda, who sympathized with her entirely, but bade her be of good cheer and hope for the time when Aunt Phoebe would see for herself that the new way was best; and above all to win the respect and liking of her aunt the first thing, as more could be accomplished in this way than by being antagonistic. "I don't suppose you could go for a long walk with me Sunday afternoon?" said Nyoda.
Hinpoha shook her head sadly. "We don't do anything like that on Sunday," she answered, with resentment flaming in her eye. "We go to church morning and evening and in the afternoon I am supposed to read the Bible or a book by a man named Thomas a Kempis." Nyoda turned her eyes inward with such a comical expression that Hinpoha forgot her troubles for a moment and laughed.
"The Bible and Thomas a Kempis," said Nyoda musingly; "where did I hear those two mentioned before? Oh, I have it! Did you ever read this anywhere, 'Commit to memory one hundred verses of the Bible or an equal amount of sacred literature, such as Thomas a Kempis'?"
Hinpoha hung her head, still smiling. "Why, Nyoda," she said, "there's a chance to earn an honor bead that I probably wouldn't have thought of otherwise!"
"Right-o," said Nyoda. "'It's an ill wind,' you know. And while you are doing so much Bible reading you will undoubtedly come across something about 'in the wilderness a cedar,' and will learn that most waste places can be turned into blooming gardens if we only know how."
"Thank you," said Hinpoha, "I always feel less forlorn after a talk with you." Her face brightened, but immediately fell again. "But what good will it do me to work for honors?" she said sadly. "Aunt Phoebe won't let me come to the meetings."
"Won't she really?" asked Nyoda in surprise. Hinpoha nodded, near to tears. "I must see about that," said Nyoda resolutely. "I think if I explain the mission and activities of Camp Fire she will not object to your belonging. She probably has a wrong idea of what it means."
Accordingly Nyoda came a-calling on Aunt Phoebe that very night. In addition to being very pretty Nyoda had a great deal of dignity, and when she put on her formal manner she looked very impressive indeed. She did not act as if she had come to see Hinpoha at all, but asked for "Miss Bradford," and said she had come to pay her respects to her new neighbor. She listened politely to Aunt Phoebe's account of her last siege of rheumatism, admired her crochet work, and hoped she liked this street as well as her former neighborhood. She said she had often seen Miss Bradford's name in the papers in connection with various charitable organizations and was very glad to have the honor of meeting the sister of the prominent Judge. Aunt Phoebe was pleased and flattered at the deference paid her. But when Nyoda announced herself as the leader of the club to which Hinpoha belonged and asked permission for her to attend the meetings, she refused. She was perfectly polite about it, and did not mention her antipathy to Camp Fire, and taking refuge behind her favorite excuse, that of being in mourning, stated that she did not wish Hinpoha to go out in society.
"But this isn't 'society'," broke in Hinpoha desperately.
"A meeting of a club partakes of a social nature," returned her aunt, "and is not to be thought of." And there the matter rested.
So Nyoda had to depart without accomplishing her mission. Hinpoha, utterly crushed, followed her to the door, and Nyoda gave her hand a reassuring squeeze. "Don't despair, dear," she whispered hopefully; "she will come around to it eventually, but it will take time. Be patient. And in the meantime read this," and she slipped into her hand a tiny copy of "The Desert of Waiting." "Just be true to the Law, and see if you cannot find the roses among the thorns and from them distil the precious ointment that will open the door of the City of Your Desire later on."
Hinpoha thrust the little book into her blouse, and when she was safe in her own room read it from cover to cover. When she finished there was a song in her heart again and a light in her eyes. Resolutely she turned her face to the East and began her long sojourn in the Desert of Waiting.
Nyoda pondered the problem for a long while that night, and the next day she went to call on Gladys's mother. Mrs. Evans had taken a great liking to the popular young teacher of whom Gladys was so fond, and cordially invited her to spend as much time as she could at the house with the family. It was to her, then, that Nyoda appealed for advice in regard to Hinpoha. Mrs. Evans made a slight grimace when the facts were laid before her.
"If that isn't just like Phoebe Bradford," she exclaimed indignantly. "Trying to shut up that poor girl like a nun to conform to some moth-eaten ideas of hers! If the Judge were alive that house wouldn't look as if there was a perpetual funeral going on! I certainly will call and see if I can do anything to change her mind, although I doubt very much if that could be accomplished by human means."
The next day Aunt Phoebe was agreeably surprised to receive a call from Mrs. Evans, "All the best people in the neighborhood are making haste to call on the sister of Judge Bradford," she reflected complacently. Mrs. Evans made herself very agreeable, speaking of many friends they had in common, and finally led the conversation around to Hinpoha.
"The child looks very pale," she said. "I presume the death of her parents was a terrible shock to her?"
Aunt Phoebe dabbed her eyes with her black-bordered handkerchief. "The hand of misfortune has fallen heavily upon this house," she said mournfully.
"It has indeed!" thought Mrs. Evans. Aloud she said, "You must not let the girl grieve herself sick. Cheerful company is what she needs at this time. Make her go out with the Camp Fire Girls as much as possible."
Aunt Phoebe drew herself up rather stiffly. "I do not approve of the Camp Fire Girls," she said.
"Not approve of the Camp Fire Girls!" echoed Mrs. Evans in well-feigned astonishment; "why, what's wrong with them?"
Just what the great objection was Aunt Phoebe was not prepared to say, but she remarked that such nonsense had never been thought of in her day. "And, of course," she added, hiding behind her usual argument, "while we are in mourning my grandniece will not go out to any gatherings."
"Why, I wouldn't think of keeping Gladys home for that reason," said Mrs. Evans, seeing the subterfuge. "She went to a Camp Fire meeting the day after her grandfather's funeral. It's not like going to a social function, you know."
Aunt Phoebe shook her head, but her policy of seclusion for Hinpoha was getting shaky. Mrs. Homer Evans was a power in the community, and what she did set the fashion in a good many directions. Aunt Phoebe was very anxious to keep her as a permanent acquaintance, and if Mrs. Evans gave her sanction to this Camp Fire business, she wondered if she had not better swallow her prejudice—outwardly at least, for she declared inwardly that she had never heard of such foolishness in all her born days. When Mrs. Evans went home Aunt Phoebe had actually promised that after three months Hinpoha might attend the meetings as before. Those three months of mourning, however, were sacred to her, and on no account would she have consented to allow a single ray of cheer to enter the house during that period.
SOME TRIALS OF GENIUS.
"The sum of the angles of a triangle is equal to two right angles." Migwan drew the construction lines as indicated in the book and labored valiantly to understand why the Angle A was equal to its alternate, DBA, her brow puckered into a studious frown. Geometry was not her long suit, her talents running to literature and languages. Outside the October sun was shining on the crimson and yellow maples, making the long street a scene of dazzling splendor. The carpet of dry leaves on the walk and sidewalk tantalized Migwan with their crisp dryness; she longed to be out swishing and crackling through them. She sighed and stirred impatiently in her chair, wishing heartily that Euclid had died in his cradle.
"I can't study with all this noise going on!" she groaned, flinging her pencil and compass down in despair. Indeed, it would have taken a much more keenly interested person than Migwan to have concentrated on a geometry lesson just then. From somewhere upstairs there came an ear-splitting din. It sounded like an earthquake in a tin shop, mingled with the noise of the sky falling on a glass roof, and accompanied by the tramping of an army; a noise such as could only have been produced by an extremely large elephant or an extremely small boy amusing himself indoors. Migwan rose resolutely and mounted the stairs to the room overhead, where her twelve-year-old brother and two of his bosom friends were holding forth. "Tom," she said appealingly, "wouldn't you and the boys just as soon play outdoors or in somebody else's house? I simply can't study with all that noise going on."
"But the others have no punching bag," said Tom in an injured tone, "and Jim brought George over especially to-day to practice."
"Can't you take the punching bag over to Jim's?" suggested Migwan desperately.
"Sure," said Jim good-naturedly; "that's a good idea." So the boys unscrewed the object of attraction and departed with it, their pockets bulging with ginger cookies which Migwan gave them as a reward for their trouble. Silence fell on the house and Migwan returned to the mastering of the sum of the angles. Geometry was the bane of her existence and she was only cheered into digging away at it by the thought of the money lying in her name in the bank, which she had received for giving the clew leading to little Raymond Bartlett's discovery the summer before, and which would pay her way to college for one year at least.
The theorem was learned at last so that she could make a recitation on it, even if she did not understand it perfectly, and Migwan left it to take up a piece of work which gave her as much pleasure as the other did pain. This was the writing of a story which she intended to send away to a magazine. She wrote it in the back of an old notebook, and when she was not working at it she kept it carefully in the bottom of her shirtwaist box, where the prying eyes of her younger sister would not find it. She had all the golden dreams and aspirations of a young authoress writing her first story, and her days were filled with a secret delight when she thought of the riches that would soon be hers when the story was accepted, as it of course would be. If she had known then of the long years of cruel disillusionment that would drag their weary length along until her efforts were finally crowned with success it is doubtful whether she would have stayed in out of the October sunshine so cheerfully and worked with such enthusiasm.
Migwan's family could have used to advantage all the gold which she was dreaming of earning. After her father died her mother's income, from various sources, amounted to only about seventy-five dollars a month, which is not a great amount when there are three children to keep in school, and it was a struggle all the way around to make both ends meet. Mrs. Gardiner was a poor manager and kept no accounts, and so took no notice of the small leaks that drained her purse from month to month. She was fond of reading, as Migwan was, and sat up until midnight every night burning gas. Then the next morning she would be too tired to get up in time to get the children off to school, and they would depart with a hasty bite, according to their own fancy, or without any breakfast at all, if they were late. She bought ready-made clothes when she could have made them herself at half the cost, and generally chose light colors which soiled quickly. She never went to the store herself, depending on Tom or scatter-brained Betty, her younger daughter, to do her marketing, and in consequence paid the highest prices for inferior-grade goods.
Thus the seventy-five dollars covered less ground every month as prices mounted, and little bills began to be left outstanding. Part of the income was from a house which rented for twenty dollars but this last month the tenants had abruptly moved, and that much was cut off. Migwan, unbusiness-like as she was, began to be worried about the condition of their affairs, and worked on her story feverishly, that it might be turned into money as soon as possible. She was deep in the intricacies of literary construction when her mother entered the room, broom in hand and dust cap on head, and sank into a chair.
"Do you suppose you could finish this sweeping?" she asked Migwan. "My back aches so I just can't stand up any longer."
"Why can't Betty do it?" asked Migwan a little impatiently, for she thought she ought not be disturbed when she was engaged in such an important piece of work.
"Betty's off in the neighborhood somewhere," said her mother wearily. "Did you ever see her around when there was any work to be done?" Migwan was filled with exasperation. That was the way things always went at their house. Tom was allowed to upset the place from one end to the other without ever having to pick up his things; Betty was never asked to do any housework, and her mother left the Saturday dinner dishes standing and began to sweep in the afternoon and then was unable to finish. Migwan was just about to suggest a search for the errant Betty, when she remembered the "Give Service" part of the Camp Fire Law. She rose cheerfully and took the broom from her mother's hand.
"Lie down a while, mother," she said, plumping up the pillows on the couch. Mrs. Gardiner sank down gratefully and Migwan put away her story and went at the sweeping. She soon turned it into a game in which she was a good fairy fighting the hosts of the goblin Dust, and must have them completely vanquished by four o'clock, or her magic wand, which had for the time being taken the shape of a broom, would vanish and leave her weaponless. Needless to say, she was in complete possession of the field when the clock struck the charmed hour. Being then out of the mood to continue her writing, she passed on into the kitchen and attacked the Fortress of Dishes, which she razed to the ground completely, leaving her banner, in the form of the dish towel, flying over the spot.
"What are you planning for supper?" she asked her mother, looking into the sitting room to see how she was feeling.
"Oh, dear, I don't know," said Mrs. Gardiner. "I hadn't given it a thought. I don't believe there's anything left from dinner. Run down to the store, will you, and get a couple of porterhouse steaks, there's a dear. And stop at the baker's as you come by and get us each a cream puff for dessert. Betty is so fond of them." Migwan returned to the kitchen and got her mother's pocketbook. There was just twenty-five cents in it. Migwan realized with a shock that it would not pay for what her mother wanted, and her sensitive nature shrank from asking to have things charged.
"I won't buy the cream puffs," she decided. "I wonder if there is anything in the house I could make into a dessert?" Search revealed nothing but a bag of prunes, which had been on the shelf for months, and were as dry as a bone. They did not appeal to Migwan in the least, but there was nothing else in evidence. "I might make prune whip," she thought rather doubtfully. "They're pretty hard, but I can soak them. I'll need the oven to make prune whip, so I will bake the potatoes too." She hunted around for the potatoes and finally found them in a small paper bag. "Buying potatoes two quarts at a time must be rather expensive," she reflected. She put the prunes to soak and the potatoes in the oven and went down to the store. "How much is porterhouse steak?" she asked before she had the butcher cut any off.
"Twenty-eight cents a pound," answered the man behind the counter. Migwan gave a little gasp. The money she had would not even buy a pound.
"How much is round steak?" she inquired.
"Twenty-two," came the reply.
"Give me twenty-five cents' worth," she said. It did not look particularly tender and Migwan thought distressedly how her mother would complain when she found round steak instead of porterhouse. "But there is no help for it," she said to herself grimly, "beggars cannot be choosers." She stopped on the way home to get the recipe for prune whip from Sahwah. Sahwah was not at home, but her mother gave Migwan the recipe and added many directions as to the proper mixing of the ingredients. "Is—is there any way of making tough round steak tender?" she asked timidly, just a little ashamed to admit that they had to eat round steak.
"There certainly is," answered Mrs. Brewster. "You just pound all the flour into it that it will take up. I hardly ever buy porterhouse steaks any more since I learned that trick. I am having some to-night. It is one of our favorite dishes here. Round steak prepared in this way is known in the restaurants as 'Dutch steak,' and commands a high price." Considerably cheered by this last intelligence, Migwan sped home and got her prune dessert into the oven and then set to work transforming the tough steak into a tender morsel.
"What kind of meat is this?" asked her mother when they had taken their places at the table.
"Guess," said Migwan.
"It tastes like tenderloin," said her mother.
"Guess again," said Migwan gleefully; "it's round steak."
"The butcher must be buying better meat than usual, then," said Mrs. Gardiner. "I never got such round steak as this out here before."
"And you never will, either," said Migwan, swelling with pride, "if you leave it to the butcher," and she told how she had treated the steak to produce the present result.
"I never heard of that before," said her mother, amazed at this simple culinary trick.
Next the prune whip was brought on and pronounced good by every one and "bully" by Tom, who ate his in great spoonfuls. "I see I'll have to let you get the meals after this," said Mrs. Gardiner to Migwan. "You have a knack of putting things together, which I have not."
Migwan was too tired to write any more that night after the dishes were done, but she was entirely light-hearted as she wove into her bead band the symbols of that day's achievements—a broom and a frying pan. She had learned something that afternoon besides how to prepare beefsteak. She had waked up to the careless fashion in which the house was being run, and her head was full of plans for cutting down expenses. Monday afternoon, on her way home from school, Migwan saw a farmer's wagon standing in front of the Brewsters' home, and Mrs. Brewster stood at the curb, buying her winter supply of potatoes.
"Have you put your potatoes in yet?" she asked as Migwan came along.
Migwan stopped. "I don't believe we ever bought them in large quantities," she answered. "How much are they a bushel?"
"Sixty-five cents," said the farmer. Migwan made a quick mental calculation. At the rate they had been buying potatoes in two-quart lots they had been paying a dollar and seventy-five cents a bushel. Migwan came to a sudden decision.
"Are they all good?" she asked Mrs. Brewster.
"They have always been in the past years," answered Sahwah's mother, "and I have bought my potatoes from this man for the last six winters."
"How many would it take for a family of four?" asked Migwan.
"About five bushels," answered Mrs. Brewster.
"All right," said Migwan to the man; "bring five bushels over to this address." The potatoes were duly deposited in the Gardiner cellar, without asking the advice of Mrs. Gardiner, which was the only safe way of getting things done, for had she been consulted she would surely have wanted to wait a while, and then would have kept putting it off until it was too late. It was the same way with flour and sugar. Migwan found that her mother had been buying these in small quantities at an exorbitant price, and calmly took matters into her own hands, ordering a whole barrel of flour, because there was more in a barrel even than in four sacks. A certain large store was offering a liberal discount that week on fifty pounds of sugar, and Migwan took advantage of this sale also.
Then she had a terrified counting up. Those three items, potatoes, flour and sugar, had used up every cent of that week's income, leaving nothing at all for running expenses. All other supplies would have to be bought on credit. Migwan made a careful estimate of the necessary expenses for the coming week, and pare down as she might, the sum was nearly fifteen dollars. The loss of the rent money was making itself keenly felt. "Mother," she said quietly, looking up from her account book, "we can't live on fifty-five dollars a month. We must rent the house again immediately."
Mrs. Gardiner made a gesture of despair. "The sign has been up nearly a month, and if people don't make inquiries I can't help it."
"Have you been in the house since the last people moved out?" asked Migwan.
"No," said Mrs. Gardiner; "what good would that do? I haven't the time to go all the way over to the East Side to look at that old house. People know it's for rent, and if they want it they'll take it without my sitting over there waiting for them."
Nevertheless, Migwan made the long trip the very next day after school to look at the property. "It's no wonder no one has been making inquiries for it," she said when she returned. "The 'For Rent' sign was gone and I found it later when I was going back up the street. Some boys had used it to make the end piece of a wagon. Then, the plumbing is bad and the cellar is flooded, and the water will not run off in the kitchen sink. These must have been the repairs the old tenants wanted made when you told them you had no money to fix the house, and so they moved. I don't blame them at all.
"Then, there is another thing I thought of when I was looking through the rooms. You know that big unfinished space over the kitchen? Well, I thought, why can't we make a furnished room of that? There is space enough to build a large room and a bathroom, for part of it is just above the bathroom downstairs. A large furnished room with a private bath would bring in ten dollars a month. It is just at the head of the back stairs and the side door where the back stairs connect with the cellar way could be used as a private entrance, so the tenants of the house would not be disturbed in the least. It would cost over a hundred dollars to do it, most likely, but we could borrow the money from my college fund and the extra rent would soon pay it back." Migwan's eyes were shining with ambition.
Mrs. Gardiner shook her head wearily. "We never could do it," she answered. "Something would surely happen to upset our plans."
But Migwan was not to be waved aside. She had seen a vision of increased income and meant to make it come true. She argued the merits of her idea until Mrs. Gardiner was too tired of the subject to argue back, and agreed that if Miss Kent approved the step she would give her consent. Nyoda was therefore called into consultation. She looked at the house and saw no reason why the improvements could not be made to advantage. The house was in a good neighborhood, and furnished rooms were always in demand. She advised the step and gave Mrs. Gardiner the names of several contractors whom she knew to be reliable. Mrs. Gardiner was a little breathless at the speed with which things were moving, but there was no stopping Migwan once she was started. A contractor was engaged and work begun on the house one week from the day Migwan had thought of the plan.
Meanwhile financial matters at home were in bad shape, and Mrs. Gardiner willingly gave over the distribution of the family budget to Migwan. She herself was utterly unable to cope with the problem. And Migwan surprised even herself by the efficient way in which she managed things. By planning menus with the greatest care and omitting meat from the bill of fare to a great extent she made it possible to live on their slender income until the rent would begin to come in again.
"Whatever have you done with yourself?" asked Gladys at the weekly meeting of the Camp Fire. "Of late you rush home from school as if you were pursued." Migwan only laughed and said she had had uncommonly hard problems to solve these last few weeks. The other girls of course did not know the exact state of the Gardiner finances, and never dreamed that Migwan was having a struggle even to stay in high school. She was such a fine, aristocratic-looking girl, and was so sparkling and witty all the time that it was hard to connect her with poverty and worry.
"Let's all go to the matinee next Saturday afternoon," suggested Gladys. "The 'Blue Bird' is going to be played." The girls agreed eagerly and asked Gladys to get seats for them, all but Migwan, who said nothing.
"Don't you want to go, Migwan?" they asked.
"Not this time," Migwan answered in a casual tone. "There is something else I have to do Saturday afternoon." The girls accepted this explanation readily. It never occurred to them that Migwan could not afford to go.
"What is this mysterious something you are always doing?" asked Gladys teasingly. "Girls, I believe Migwan is writing a book. She has retired from polite society altogether." Migwan smiled blandly at her, but made no answer.
At home that night, however, she felt very low-spirited indeed. She was only human, after all, and wanted dreadfully to go to the matinee with the girls. Gladys would take them all to Schiller's afterward for a parfait and bring them home in style in her machine. It did not seem fair that she should be cut off from every pleasure that involved the spending of a little money. This was her last year in high school, the year which should be the happiest, but she must resolutely turn her face away from all those little festivities that add such touches of color to the memory fabric of school days. She knew that at the merest hint of her circumstances to Gladys or Nyoda they would have gladly paid her way everywhere the group went, but Migwan's pride forbade this. If she could not afford to go to places she would stay at home and nobody would be any the wiser. Nevertheless, a few tears would come at the thought of the good time she was missing, and she had no heart to work on her story.
"Cry-baby!" she said to herself fiercely, winking the tears back. "Crying because you can't do as you would like all the time! You're lots better off than poor Hinpoha this very minute, even if she is rich. You ought to be ashamed of yourself!" The thought of Hinpoha, who would likewise miss the jolly party, comforted her somewhat, and she dried her tears and fell to writing with a will.
Now Nyoda, although she did not know just how hard pressed the Gardiners were at that time, rather surmised something of the kind, and wondered, after she left the girls, if that were not the reason for Migwan's not planning to go to the matinee. She remembered Migwan's saying some time before that she wanted very much to see "The Bluebird" when it came. She knew it would never do to offer to pay Migwan's way; Migwan was too proud for that. She lay awake a long time over it and finally formulated a plan. The next morning when Migwan came to school she saw a conspicuous notice on the Bulletin Board:
LOST: Handbag containing book of lecture notes and ticket for Saturday afternoon's performance of "The Bluebird." Finder may keep theater ticket if he or she will return notebook to Miss Moore, Room 10.
Migwan read the notice and passed on, as did the other pupils. That morning in English class Nyoda sent Migwan to an unused lecture room to get an English book she had left there. When Migwan opened the door she stumbled over something on the floor. It was a lady's handbag. She opened it and found Miss Moore's notebook and the theater ticket inside. Miss Moore was overjoyed at the return of the notebook and insisted on her keeping the ticket, which Migwan at first declined to accept. "My dear child," said Miss Moore, "if you knew what trouble I had collecting those notes you would think, too, that it was worth the price of a theater ticket to get them back!" And when Migwan's back was turned she winked solemnly at Nyoda. By a curious coincidence that seat was directly behind those occupied by the other Winnebagos!
The night of the last Camp Fire Meeting Gladys and Nyoda might have been seen in close consultation. "The first pleasant Saturday," said Nyoda.
"Remember, it's my treat," said Gladys.
The first week in November was as balmy as May, with every promise of fine weather on Saturday. Accordingly, Nyoda gathered all the Winnebagos around her desk on Thursday and made an announcement. Sahwah forgot that she was in a class room and started to raise a joyful whoop, but Nyoda stifled it in time by putting her hand over her mouth. "I can't help it!" cried Sahwah; "we're going on a trip up the river! I'm going to paddle the Keewaydin once more!"
The plan suggested by Gladys and just announced by Nyoda was this: The following Saturday they would charter a launch big enough to hold them all, and follow the course of the Cuyahoga River upstream to the dam at the falls, where they would land and cook their dinner over an open fire. They would tow the Keewaydin, Sahwah's birchbark canoe, behind the launch, and some time during the day would manage to let every one go for a paddle. The Winnebagos thrilled with pleasurable anticipation, all but Hinpoha, who crept sadly away, for she could not bear to hear about the fun that was being planned when she could not have a part in it.
One desire of her heart was being fulfilled, and she was getting thin. What a whole summer of rigid dieting had not been able to accomplish was brought to pass by a few weeks of mental suffering, and her clothes were beginning to hang on her. Her appetite began to fail her, and her aunt, noticing this, bought her a big bottle of tonic, which, taken before meals, killed any small desire for food she may have had. Then Aunt Phoebe decided that the two-mile walk to school was too much for her, and had her taken and called for in the machine, much to Hinpoha's disgust, for that walk was her chief joy these days. After a week of the tonic her soul rebelled against the nauseous dose, and when the first bottle was empty and Aunt Phoebe sent her to get it refilled, she "refilled" it herself with a mixture of licorice candy and water, which produced a black syrup similar in appearance to the original medicine, but minus the bad taste and the stigma of "patent medicine," a thing which the Winnebagos had promised their Guardian they would not take. As this was deceiving her aunt she felt obliged to put a blot on her head 'scutcheon, in the form of a black record, but she was so inwardly amused at it that her appetite improved of its own accord, and Aunt Phoebe remarked in a gratified way that she had never known the equal of Mullin's Modifier as a tonic.
Migwan finished her story, copied it carefully on foolscap and sent it away to a magazine, confident that in a very short time she would behold it in print, and the payment she would receive for it would keep her in spending money throughout the school year. So with a light and merry heart she set out for Gladys's house on Saturday morning, where the girls were all to meet for the outing. It was one of those dream-like days in late autumn, when the earth, still decked in her brilliant garments, seems to lie spellbound in the sunshine, as if there were no such thing as the coming of winter.
The girls, clad in blue skirts and white middies and heavy sweaters, were whirled down to the dock in the Evans's automobile, with the Keewaydin tied upright at the back. The launch was waiting for them, at one of the big boat docks, sandwiched in between two immense lake steamers. Nothing could have been a greater contrast to their trip up the Shadow River the summer before than this excursion. On that other trip they had been the only living beings on the horizon, and nature was supreme everywhere, but here they were fairly engulfed by the works of man. The tiny craft nosed her way among giant steamers, six-hundred-foot freighters, coal barges, lighters, fire boats, tugs, scows, and all the other kinds of vessels that crowd the river-harbor of a great lake port. Viewed from below, the steel structure of the viaduct over the river stretched out like the monstrous skeleton of some prehistoric beast. Whistles shrieked deafeningly in their ears and trains pounded jarringly over railroad bridges. A jack-knife bridge began to descend over their very heads. Over where the new bridge was being constructed men stood on slender girders high in the air, catching red-hot rivets that were being tossed them, while an automatic riveting hammer filled the air with its nerve-destroying clamor. Everywhere was bustle and confusion, and noise, noise, noise.
And in the midst of this tumult the tiny launch, filled with laughing girls, threaded its way up the black river, flying the Winnebago banner, while behind it trailed a birchbark canoe, with Sahwah squatting calmly in the stern, leaning her back against her paddle. Many times they had to bury their noses in their handkerchiefs to shut out the smells that assailed them on every side. On they chugged, past the lumber yards with their acres of stacked boards, some of which had come from the very neighborhood of Camp Winnebago; past the chemical works, pouring out its darkly polluted streams into the river. "Ugh," said Gladys with a shiver, "to think that that stuff flows on into the lake and we drink lake water!"
"It seems like a different world altogether," said Migwan, looking out across the miles of factory-covered "flats." She was perfectly fascinated by the rolling mills, with their rows of black stacks standing out against the sky like organ pipes, and by the long trains of oil-tank cars curving through the valley like huge worms, the divisions giving the effect of body sections.
While the Winnebagos were gliding along among scenes strange and new, Hinpoha was vainly trying to comfort herself for having to stay at home by catching in a bottle the bees which were crawling in and out of the cosmos blossoms in the garden. Interesting as the bees were, however, they could not keep her thoughts from turning to the Winnebagos afloat on the river, and it was a very doleful face that bent over the flowers. Her dismal reflections were interrupted by the sharp voice of Aunt Phoebe calling her to come in. "What is it?" she asked listlessly, as she came up on the porch.
"Mrs. Evans is here," said her aunt in the doorway, "and she has asked to see you." Hinpoha was very glad to see Mrs. Evans, who rose smilingly and took her hands in hers.
"How thin you are getting, child!" she exclaimed, smoothing back the red curls. "I don't believe you get out enough. By the way," she said to Aunt Phoebe, "may I borrow this girl for to-day? I have considerable driving about to do and it is rather tiresome going alone. Gladys has gone on an all-day boat ride."
Aunt Phoebe could not very well refuse, for driving about in a machine with an older woman was a very proper form of recreation indeed, in her estimation.
Hinpoha flew upstairs and deposited her bottle of bees on the table in her room for future observation and started off with Mrs. Evans. "We will not be back for lunch, and possibly not for supper," said Gladys's mother as she bade Aunt Phoebe a gracious good-bye, "but it will not be long after that."
"And now for a grand spin," she said, as she started the car and sent it crackling through the dry leaves on the pavement.
"Now I see why the Indians named this river 'Cuyahoga,' or 'Crooked,'" said Migwan, as they rounded bend after bend in the stream. "It coils back on itself like a snake, and I have already counted seven coils within the city limits. I didn't believe it when the captain of a freighter told me that there was a place in the river which his boat couldn't pass because two sharp turns came so near together, but now I see how that could easily be possible."
As the launch putt-putt-putt-ed steadily up the river the water gradually became less black, and the factories along the shore gave way to open stretches of country. By noon they reached the dam and went ashore to look for a place to build a fire. They were in a deep gorge, its steep sides thickly covered with flaming maples and oaks, and brilliant sumachs, stretching on either side as far as they could reach. "It's too gorgeous to seem real," said Nyoda, shading her eyes and looking down the valley; "where does Mother Nature keep her pot of 'Diamond Dyes' in the summer time?"
High up along the top of one of the cliffs a narrow road wound along, and as Nyoda stood looking into the distance she saw an automobile coming along this road. When it was directly above her it stopped and two people got out, a woman and a girl. The sunlight fell on a mass of red curls on the girl's head. "Hinpoha!" exclaimed Nyoda in amazement. From above came floating down a far-echoing yodel—the familiar Winnebago call. The girls all looked up in surprise to see Hinpoha scrambling down the face of the cliff, and aiding Mrs. Evans to descend.
"Why, mother!" called Gladys, running up to meet her.
The surprise at the meeting was mutual. Mrs. Evans, spinning along the country roads, had no idea she was hard on the trail of her daughter and the other Winnebagos until she came suddenly upon them after they had gotten out of the launch. "Can't you stay and spend the day with us, now that you're here?" they pleaded.
Hinpoha's longing soul looked out of her eyes, but she answered, "I'm afraid not. Aunt Phoebe wouldn't approve."
"Did she say you couldn't?" asked Sahwah.
"No," said Hinpoha, "for I never even asked her if I might go along with you in the launch. I knew it would be no use."
"Oh, please stay," tempted some of the girls; "your aunt'll never know the difference."
"Oh, I couldn't do that," said Hinpoha in a tone of horror. A little approving smile crept around the corners of Nyoda's eyes as she heard Hinpoha so resolutely bidding Satan get behind her. Mrs. Evans was genuinely sorry they had encountered the girls, because it made it so much harder for Hinpoha.
"I wonder," she said musingly, "if I drove on to a house in the road and telephoned your aunt that she would let you stay?"
"You might try," said Hinpoha doubtfully. Mrs. Evans thought it was worth trying. She found a house with a telephone and got Aunt Phoebe on the wire. With the utmost tact she explained how they had met the girls accidently, and that she had taken a notion that she would like to spend the day with them, but of course she could not do so unless Hinpoha would be allowed to stay with her, as she had charge of her for the day. What was Aunt Phoebe to do? She was not equal to telling the admired Mrs. Evans to forego her pleasure because of Hinpoha, and gave a grudging consent to her keeping her niece with her on the condition that she would bring her home in the machine and not let her come back in the launch with the Winnebagos. Jubilant, they returned to the girls in the gorge and told the good news.
"Cheer for Mrs. Evans," cried Sahwah, and the Winnebagos gave it with a hearty good will.
Hinpoha, with Sahwah close beside her, began I searching for firewood industriously. "It seems just like last summer," she said, chopping sticks with Sahwah's hatchet. The two had wandered off a short distance from the others, following a tiny footpath. Suddenly they came upon a huge rock formation, that looked like an immense fireplace, about forty feet wide and twenty or more feet high. Under that great stone arch a dozen spits, each big enough to hold a whole ox, might easily have swung. Sahwah and Hinpoha looked at it in amazement and then called for the other girls to come and see.
"Why, that's the 'Old Maid's Kitchen,'" said Mrs. Evans, when she arrived on the scene. "I've been here before. Just why it should be called the Old Maid's Kitchen is more than I can tell, for it looks like the fireplace belonging to the grand-mother of all giantesses."
"Let's build our fire inside of it," said Nyoda.
"The original 'Old Maid' had a convenience that didn't usually go with open fireplaces," said Gladys, "and that is running water," and she held her cup under a tiny stream that trickled out between two rocks, cold as ice and clear as crystal.
"Wouldn't this be a grand place for a Ceremonial Meeting?" said Migwan, as they all stood round the blazing fire roasting "wieners" and bacon. The Kitchen had a floor of smooth slabs of rock, and the arch of the fireplace formed a roof over their heads, while its wide opening afforded them a wonderful view of the gorge.
"Whenever you want to come here again, just say so," said Mrs. Evans, "and I'll bring you down in the machine." Mrs. Evans was enjoying herself as much as any of the girls. It was the first time she had ever cooked wieners and bacon over an open fire on green sticks, and she was perfectly delighted with the experience. "If my husband could only see me now," she said, laughing like a girl as she dropped her last wiener in the dirt and calmly washed it off in the trickling stream. "How good this hot cocoa tastes!" she exclaimed, drinking down a whole cupful without stopping. "What kind is it?"
"Camp Fire Girl Cocoa," answered the girls.
"What kind is that?" asked Mrs. Evans.
"It is a brand that is put up by a New York firm for the Camp Fire Girls to sell," answered Nyoda.
"Why have we never had any of this at our house?" asked Mrs. Evans, turning to Gladys.
"You have always insisted that you would use no other kind than Van Horn's," replied Gladys, "so I thought there would be no use in mentioning it."
"I like this better than Van Horn's," said her mother. "Is there any to be had now?"
"There certainly is," answered Nyoda. "We are trying to dispose of a hundred-can lot to pay our annual dues."
"Let me have a dozen cans," said Mrs. Evans. "I will serve Camp Fire Girl Cocoa to my Civic Club next Wednesday afternoon. I——"
Here a terrific shriek from Migwan brought them all to their feet. She had been poking about in the corner of the Kitchen, when something had suddenly jumped out at her, unfolded itself like a fan and was whirling around her head. "It's a bat!" cried Sahwah, and they all laughed heartily at Migwan's fright. The bat wheeled around, blind in the daylight, and went bumping against the girls, causing them to run in alarm lest it should get entangled in their hair. It finally found its way back to the dark corner of the Kitchen and hung itself up neatly the way Migwan had found it and the dinner proceeded.
"What kind of a bat was it?" asked Gladys.
"Must have been a bacon bat," said Sahwah, dodging the acorn that Hinpoha threw at her for making a pun.
"Tell us a new game to play, Nyoda," said Gladys, "or Sahwah will go right on making puns."
"Here is one I thought of on the way down," answered Nyoda. "Think of all the things that you know are manufactured in Cleveland, or form an important part of the shipping industry. Then we'll go around the circle, naming them in alphabetical order. Each girl may have ten seconds in which to think when her turn comes, and if she misses she is out of the game. She may only come in again by supplying a word when another has missed, before the next girl in the circle can think of one."
"And let the two that hold out the longest have the first ride in the canoe," suggested Sahwah.
The game started. Nyoda had the first chance. "Automobiles," she began.
"Bricks," said Gladys.
"Clothing," said Migwan.
"Drugs," said Sahwah.
"Engines," said Hinpoha.
"Flour," said Mrs. Evans.
"Gasoline," said Nakwisi.
"Hardware," said Chapa.
"Iron," said Medmangi.
Nyoda hesitated, fishing for a "J." "One, two, three, four, five, six," began Sahwah.
"Jewelry!" cried Nyoda on the tenth count.
"Knitted goods," continued Gladys.
"Lamps," said Migwan.
"Macaroni," said Sahwah.
"That reminds me," said Mrs. Evans, "I meant to order some macaroni to-day and forgot it."
"N," said Hinpoha, "N,—why, Nothing!" The girls laughed at the witty application, but she was ruled out nevertheless.
"Nails," said Mrs. Evans.
"Oil," said Nakwisi.
"Paint," said Chapa.
Medmangi sat down. Nyoda began to count. "Quadrupeds!" cried Medmangi hastily.
"Explain yourself," said Nyoda.
"Tables and chairs," said Medmangi. The girls shouted in derision, but Nyoda ruled the answer in, and the game proceeded.
"Refrigerators," said Nyoda.
"Salt," said Gladys.
"Tents," said Migwan, with a reminiscent sigh.
"Umbrellas," said Sahwah.
Mrs. Evans fell down on "V." "Varnish," said Chapa.
"W" was too much for Medmangi. "Wire," said Nyoda.
"X," said Sahwah, "there is no such thing. Oh, yes, there is, too; Xylophones, they're made here."
Gladys and Migwan met their Waterloo on "Y." "Yeast," said Nyoda.
"Z," sent Chapa and Nakwisi to the dummy corner and it came back to Sahwah. "Zerolene," she said.
"What's that?" they all cried.
"I don't know," she answered, "but I saw it on one of the big oil tanks as we passed."
Sahwah and Nyoda won the right to take the first paddle in the Keewaydin. They carried the canoe on their heads, portage fashion, around the dam, and launched it up above, where the confined waters had spread out into a wide pond. "Oh, what a joy to dip a paddle again!" sighed Sahwah blissfully, sending the Keewaydin flying through the water with long, vigorous strokes. "I'd love to paddle all the way home." She had completely forgotten that there was such a thing as school and lessons in the world. She was the Daughter of the River, and this was a joyous homecoming.
"Time to go back and let the rest have a turn," said Nyoda. Reluctantly Sahwah steered the canoe around and returned to the waiting group. Mrs. Evans watched with interest as Gladys and Hinpoha pushed out from shore. Could this be her once frail daughter, who had despised all strenuous sports and hated water above all things, who was swinging her paddle so lustily and steering the Keewaydin so skilfully? What was this strange Something that the Camp Fire had instilled into her? She caught her breath with the beauty of it, as the girls glided along between the radiant banks, the two paddles flashing in and out in perfect rhythm. They were singing a favorite boating song, and their voices floated back on the breeze:
"Through the mystic haze of the autumn days Like a phantom ghost I glide, Where the big moose sees the crimson trees Mirrored on the silver tide, And the blood red sun when day is done Sinks below the hill, The night hawk swoops, the lily droops, And all the world is still!"
Sahwah lingered on the river after the others had gone in a body to try to climb to the top of the rocky fireplace. She was all alone in the Keewaydin, and sent it darting around like a water spider on the surface of the stream. So absorbed was she in the joy of paddling that she did not see a sign on a tree beside the river which warned people in boats to go no further than that point, neither did she realize the significance of the quicker progress which the Keewaydin was making. When she did realize that she was getting dangerously near the edge of the dam, and attempted to turn back, she discovered to her horror that it was impossible to turn back. The Keewaydin was being swept helplessly and irresistibly onward. Recent rains had swollen the stream and the water was pouring over the dam. Sahwah screamed aloud when she saw the peril in which she was. Nyoda and Mrs. Evans and the girls, standing up on the rocks, turned and saw her. Help was out of the question. Frozen to the spot they saw her rushing along to that descent of waters. Gladys moaned and covered her face with her hands. Below the falls the great rocks jutted out, jagged and bare. Any boat going over would be dashed to pieces.
The Keewaydin shot forward, gaining speed with every second. The roar of the falls filled Sahwah's ears. Not ten feet from the brink a rock jutted up a little above the surface, just enough to divide the current into two streams. When the Keewaydin reached this point it turned sharply and was hurled into the current nearest the shore. On the bank right at the brink of the falls stood a great willow tree, its long branches drooping far out over the water. It was one chance in a million and Sahwah saw it. As she passed under the tree she reached up and caught hold of a branch, seized it firmly and jumped clear of the canoe, which went over the falls almost under her feet. Then, swinging along by her arms, she reached the shore and stood in safety. It had all happened so quickly the girls could hardly comprehend it. Gladys, who had hidden her eyes to shut out the dreadful sight, heard an incredulous shout from the girls and looked down to see the Keewaydin landing on the rocks below, empty, and Sahwah standing on the bank.
"How did you ever manage to do it?" gasped Hinpoha, when they had surrounded her with exclamations of joy and amazement. "You're a heroine again."
"You're nothing of the sort," said Nyoda. "It was sheer foolhardiness or carelessness that got you into that scrape. A girl who doesn't know enough to keep out of the current isn't to be trusted with a canoe, no matter what a fine paddler she is. I certainly thought better of you than that, Sahwah. I never used to have the slightest anxiety when you were on the water, I had such a perfect trust in your common sense, but now I can never feel quite sure of you again."
Sahwah hung her head in shame, for she felt the truth of Nyoda's words. "I think you can trust me after this," she said humbly. "I have learned my lesson." She was not likely to forget the horror of the moment when she had heard the water roaring over the dam and thought her time had come. Sahwah liked to be thought clever as well as daring, and it was certainly far from clever to run blindly into danger as she had done. She sank dejectedly down on the bank, feeling disgraced forever in the eyes of the Winnebagos.
"Girls," said Mrs. Evans, wishing to take their minds off the fright they had received, "do you know that we are not many miles from one of the model dairy farms of the world? I could take you over in the car and bring you back here in time to go home in the launch."
"Let's do it, Nyoda," begged all the Winnebagos, and into the machine they piled. When they were still far in the distance they could see the high towers of the barns rising in the air. "We're nearly there," said Mrs. Evans; "here is the beginning to the cement fence that runs all the way around the four-thousand-acre farm." Mrs. Evans knew some of the people in charge of the farm and they had no difficulty gaining admittance. That visit to the Carter Farm was a long-remembered one. The girls walked through the long stables exclaiming at everything they saw.
"Why, there's an electric fan in each stall!" gasped Migwan, "and the windows are screened!"
"Oo, look at the darling calf," gurgled Hinpoha, on her knees before one of the stalls, caressing a ten-thousand-dollar baby.
"It doesn't look a bit like its mother," observed Nyoda, comparing it with the cow standing beside it.
"That isn't its mother, that's its nurse," said the man who was showing them around.
"Its what?" said Nyoda. Then the man explained that the milk from the blooded cows was too valuable to be fed to calves, as it commanded a high price on the market, and so a herd of common cows were kept to feed the aristocratic babies. The lovely little creatures were as tame as kittens and allowed the girls to fondle them to their hearts' content. Sometimes a pair of polished horns would come poking between a calf and the visitors, and a soft-eyed cow would view the proceedings with a comically anxious face, and then it was easy to tell which calf was with its mother.
In one of the largest stalls they saw the champion Guernsey of the world. Her coat was like satin and her horns were polished until they shone. She did not seem to be in the least set up on account of her great reputation and thrust out her nose in the friendliest manner possible to be patted and fussed over. She eyed Gladys, who stood next to her, with amiable curiosity, and then suddenly licked her face. Mrs. Evans watched Gladys in surprise. Instead of quivering all over with disgust as she would have a year ago she simply laughed and patted the cow's nose. "What is going to happen?" said Mrs. Evans to herself, "Gladys isn't afraid of cows any more!" But the most interesting part came when the cows were milked. They were driven into another barn for this performance and their heads fastened into sort of metal hoops suspended from the ceiling. These turned in either direction and caused them no discomfort, but kept them standing in one place. The milking was done with vacuum-suction machines run by electricity and took only a short time.
When the girls had watched the process as long as they wished they were taken to see the prize hogs and chickens, and then went through the hot houses. There were rows and rows of glass houses filled with grapes, the great bunches hanging down from the roof and threatening to fall with their own weight. And one did fall, just as they were going through, and came smashing down in the path at their feet. Nakwisi ran to pick it up and the guide said she might have it, adding that such a bunch, unbruised, sold for twenty-five cents in the city market. "Oh, how delicious!" cried Nakwisi,' tasting the grapes and dividing them among the girls. Mrs. Evans bought a basketful and let them eat all they wanted. In some of the hothouses tangerines were growing, and in some persimmons, while others were given over to the raising of roses, carnations and rare orchids. It was a trip through fairyland for the girls, and they could hardly tear themselves away when the time came.
"There is something else I must show you while we are in the neighborhood," said Mrs. Evans, as they passed through Akron. "Does anybody know what two historical things are near here?" Nobody knew. Mrs. Evans began humming, "John Brown's Body Lies A-mouldering in the Grave."
"What has that to do with it?" asked Gladys.
"Everything, with one of them," said Mrs. Evans.
"Did you know that John Brown, owner of the said body, was born in Akron, and there is a monument here to his memory?"
"Oh how lovely," cried Migwan, "let us see it." So Mrs. Evans drove them over to the monument and they all stood around it and sang "John Brown's Body" in his honor.
"Now, what's the other thing?" they asked.
"I believe I know," said Nyoda. "Doesn't the old Portage Trail run through here somewhere?"
"That's it," said Mrs. Evans.
Then Nyoda told them about the Portage Path of Indian days, before the canal was built, that extended from Lake Erie to the Ohio River. "The part that runs through Akron is still called Portage Path," said Mrs. Evans, and the girls were eager to see it.
"Why, it's nothing but a paved street!" exclaimed Migwan in disappointment, when they had reached the historical spot.
"That's all it is now," answered Mrs. Evans, "but it is built over the old Portage Trail, and some of these old trees undoubtedly shaded the original path." In the minds of the girls the handsome residences faded from sight, and in place of the wide street they saw the narrow path trailing off through the forest, with dusky forms stealing along it on their long journey southward.
"It's time to strike our own trail now," said Nyoda, breaking the silence, and they started back to the river. Every one was anxious to make it as pleasant as possible for Hinpoha, and the jests came thick and fast as they drove along. "Who is the best Latin scholar here?" asked Nyoda.
"I am," said Sahwah, mischievously.
"Then you can undoubtedly tell me what Caesar said on the Fourth of July, 45 B.C." said Nyoda.
"I don't seem to recollect," said Sahwah.
"Then read for yourself," said Nyoda, scribbling a few words on a leaf from her notebook and handing it to her.
"What's this?" said Sahwah, spelling out the words. On the paper was written,
Quis crudis enim rufus, albus et expiravit.
Sahwah tried to translate. "Quis, who; crudis, raw; enim—what's enim?"
"For," answered Migwan.
"And expiravit" said Sahwah, "what's that from?"
"Expiro" answered Migwan, "expirare, expiravi, expiratus. It means 'blow,' 'Expiravit' is 'have blown.'"
"Rufus is 'red,'" continued Sahwah, "and is albus 'white'?" Migwan nodded, and Sahwah went back to the beginning and began to read: "Who raw for red white and have blown."
Nyoda shouted. "That last word is blew, not have blown" she said.
"I have it!" cried Migwan, jumping up. "It's 'Who raw for the red, white and blew.' 'Hoorah for the red, white and blue!'"
"Such wit!" said Sahwah, laughing with the rest.
"Now, I'll make a motto for Sahwah," said Migwan, seizing the pencil. Migwan was a Senior and took French, and having a sudden inspiration, she wrote, "Pas de lieu Rhone que nous!" The girls could not translate it and Nyoda puzzled over it for a long time.
"I don't seem to be able to make anything out of it," she said at length.
"Don't try to translate it," said Migwan, "just read it out loud," Nyoda complied and Sahwah caught it immediately.
"It's 'Paddle your own canoe!" she cried.
Thus, laughing and joking, they followed the road back to the dam and embarked in the launch with all speed, for the sun was already sinking beneath the treetops and they had a two-hour ride ahead of them. Mrs. Evans took Hinpoha back in the machine and delivered her to her aunt safe and sound at eight o'clock, with many expressions of pleasure at the fun she had had with the Camp Fire Girls, which were intended as seeds to be planted in Aunt Phoebe's mind.
"I think your mother's a perfect dear," said Sahwah to Gladys on the trip home. "I used to be frightened to death of her, because she always looked so straight-laced and proper, but she isn't like that at all. She's a regular Camp Fire Girl!"
A COASTING PARTY.
The memory of that happy day sustained Hinpoha through many of the trials that came to her in the days that followed. It seemed that everything she did brought down the wrath of her aunt in some way or another. For instance, she left a bottle of bees standing on the table in her room, and Aunt Phoebe's dog Silky, who had been in the habit of going into the room and chewing Hinpoha's painted paddle, knocked the bottle over and let the bees out, getting badly stung in the process. Then there was a scene with Aunt Phoebe because she had brought the bees in. This and a dozen more incidents of a similar nature made Hinpoha despair of ever gaining the good will of her aunt. Thus the autumn wore away to winter and as yet the Desert of Waiting had borne nothing but thorns.
Gladys's progress through school was like the advance of a conquering hero. Although she had just entered this fall she was already one of the most popular girls in school. She had that fair, delicate prettiness which invariably appeals to boys, and an open, unaffected manner which endeared her to the girls. Beside her very lovable personality she had a background which was almost certain to insure popularity to a girl. She was rich and lived in a great house on a fashionable avenue; she had a little electric car all her own, and she wore the smartest clothes of any girl in school. Her fame as a dancer soon spread and she was in constant demand at school entertainments. Nyoda watched her a trifle anxiously at first. She was just a little afraid that Gladys's head would be turned with all the homage paid her, or that, blinded by her present success, she would lose the deeper meanings of life and be nothing but a butterfly after all. But she need not have feared. Gladys's experience in camp had kindled a fire in her that would never be extinguished as long as life guarded the flame. Having changed her Camp Fire name from Butterfly to Real Woman, she was anxious to prove her right to the name. So she worked diligently to win new honors which made her efficient in the home as well as those which helped her to shine in society.
Mrs. Evans was returning from an afternoon card party. She was tired and her head ached and she felt out of sorts. A remark which she had overheard during the afternoon stayed in her mind and made her cross. Two ladies on the other side of a large screen near which she was sitting were discussing a campaign in which they were interested to raise funds for a certain philanthropy. "I am going to ask Mrs. Evans if she would not like to subscribe one hundred dollars," said the one lady.
"So much?" asked the other in an uncertain voice, "I don't believe I would if I were you."
"Why not?" asked the first lady.
"Haven't you heard," replied the second lady, with the air of imparting a delicious secret, "that Mr. Evans is on the verge of financial ruin?"
"No," replied the second in a tone of lively interest, "I haven't. Who told you so?"
"A great many people are saying so," continued the first. "Do you know that they took their daughter out of the private school she had been attending and sent her to public school this year? They must be hard up if they can't pay school bills any more."
"It certainly looks like it," said the first lady.
"Possibly I had better not ask Mrs. Evans for any subscription at all. It might embarrass her, poor thing." The voices trailed off and Mrs. Evans was left feeling decidedly annoyed. She was the kind of woman who rarely discussed other people's affairs, and likewise disliked having her own discussed by other people. The thought that some folks might misconstrue Gladys's entering the public school to mean that her father was about to fail in business, first amused, and then irritated her. Nothing like that could be farther from correct, but the thought came to her that such rumors floating around might have some effect on Mr. Evans's standing in the business world. She began to wonder if after all it had not been a mistake to take Gladys out of Miss Russell's school in the middle of her course.
Thinking cynical thoughts about the gossiping abilities of most people, she drove up the long driveway and entered the house. The long hall with its wide staircase and large, splendidly furnished rooms opening on either side, struck her as being cold and gloomy. The polished chairs and tables shone dully in the fast waning light of the December afternoon, cheerless and unfriendly looking. The house suddenly seemed to her to be less a home than a collection of furniture. For the moment she almost hated the wealth which made it necessary to maintain this vast and magnificent display. The women she had played cards with that afternoon seemed shallow and artificial. Life was decidedly uninteresting just then. She went upstairs and took off her wraps and came down again, aimlessly. Gladys was nowhere in sight, which made the house seem lonelier than ever, for with Gladys around there would have been somebody to talk to. At the foot of the stairs she paused. She could hear some one singing in a distant part of the house. "Katy's happy, anyway," she said with a sigh, "if she feels like singing in that hot kitchen," A desire for company led her out to the kitchen. It was not Katy, however, who greeted her when she opened the door. It was Gladys—Gladys with a big apron on and her sleeves rolled up, just taking from the oven a pan of golden brown muffins. The room was filled with the delicious odor of freshly baked dough.
Gladys looked up with a smile when she saw her mother in the doorway. "How do you like the new cook?" she asked. "Katy went home sick this afternoon and I thought I would get supper myself." The kitchen looked so cheerful and inviting that Mrs. Evans came in and sat down. Gladys began mixing up potatoes for croquettes.
"Can't I do something?" asked her mother.
"Why, yes," said Gladys, bringing out another apron and tying it around her waist, "you heat the fat to fry these in." Mrs. Evans and Gladys had never had such a good time together. Gladys had planned the entire menu and her mother meekly followed her directions as to what to do next. She and Gladys frolicked around the kitchen with increasing hilarity as the supper progressed. Never before had there existed such a comradeship between them.
"Do you think this is seasoned right?" asked Mrs. Evans, holding out a spoonful of white sauce for Gladys to taste.
"A little more salt," said Gladys judicially. Mrs. Evans had forgotten her irritation of the afternoon. The conversation which had aroused her ire before now struck her as humorous.
"If Mrs. Davis and Mrs. Jones could only see me now," she thought with an inward chuckle, "doing my own cooking!" The half-formed plan of sending Gladys back to Miss Russell's the first of the year faded from her mind. Send Gladys away? Why, she was just beginning to enjoy her company! Another plan presented itself to her mind. In the Christmas vacation Gladys should give a party which would forever dispel any doubts about the soundness of their financial standing. Her brain was already at work on the details. Gladys should have a dress from Madame Charmant's in New York. They would have Waldstein, from the Symphony Orchestra, with a half dozen of his best players, furnish the music. There would be expensive prizes and favors for the games. Mrs. Davis and Mrs. Jones would have a chance to alter their opinions when their daughters brought home accounts of the affair. She planned the whole thing while she was eating her supper.
After supper Gladys washed the dishes and her mother wiped them, and they put them away together. Then Gladys began to get ready to go to Camp Fire meeting and Mrs. Evans reluctantly prepared to go out for the evening. The nearer ready she was the more disinclined she felt to go. "Those Jamieson musicales are always such a bore," she said to herself wearily. "They never have good singers—my Gladys could do better than any of them—and they are interminable. Father looks tired to death, and I know he would rather stay at home. Gladys," she called, looking into her daughter's room, "where is your Camp Fire meeting to-night?"
"At the Brewsters'," answered Gladys.
"Do you ever have visitors?" continued her mother.
"Why, yes," answered Gladys, "we often do."
"Do you mind if you have one to-night?" asked Mrs. Evans.
"Certainly not," replied Gladys.
"Well, then, I'm coming along," said her mother.
"Will you?" cried Gladys. "Oh goody!" The Winnebagos were surprised and delighted when Mrs. Evans appeared with Gladys. Since that Saturday's outing she had held a very warm place in their affections.
"Come in, mother," called Sahwah; "you might as well join the group too, we have one guest. This is Mrs. Evans, Gladys's mother," she said, when her mother appeared after hastily brushing back her hair and putting on a white apron. The two women held out their hands in formal greeting, and then changed their minds and fell on each other's necks.
"Why, Molly Richards!" exclaimed Mrs. Evans.
"Why, Helen Adamson!" gasped Mrs. Brewster. The Winnebagos looked on, mystified.
"You can't introduce me to your mother," said Mrs. Evans to Sahwah, laughing at her look of surprise. "We were good friends when we were younger than you. Do you remember the time," she said, turning back to Mrs. Brewster, "when you drew a picture of Miss Scully in your history and she found it and made you stand up in front of the room and hold it up so the whole class could see it?"
"Do you remember the time," returned Mrs. Brewster, "when we ran away from school to see the Lilliputian bazaar and your mother was there and walked you out by the ear?" Thus the flow of reminiscences went on.
"How little I thought," said Mrs. Evans, "when I first saw Sarah Ann going around with Gladys, that she was your daughter!"
"How little I thought," said Mrs. Brewster, "when Gladys began coming here, that she was your daughter!"
"How many more of these girls' mothers are our old schoolmates, I wonder?" said Mrs. Evans.
"Let's meet them and find out," said Mrs. Brewster. "Here, you girls," she said, "every one of you go home and get your mother." Delightedly the girls obeyed, and the mothers came, a little backward, some of them, a little shy, pathetically eager, and decidedly breathless. Migwan's mother, Mrs. Gardiner, had known Mrs. Brewster in her girlhood, and Nakwisi's mother had known Mrs. Evans, and Chapa's and Medmangi's mothers had known each other. What a happy reunion that was, and what a chorus of "Don't you remembers" rose on every side! Tears mingled with the laughter when they spoke of the death of Mrs. Bradford, whom most of them had known in their school days.
"Do you remember," said one of the mothers, "how we used to go coasting down the reservoir hill? You girls have never seen the old reservoir. It was levelled off years ago."