THE MEADOW-BROOK GIRLS UNDER CANVAS
Or, Fun and Frolic in the Summer Camp
Author of The Meadow-Brook Girls Across Country, The Meadow-Brook Girls Afloat, etc.
Philadelphia Henry Altemus Company
I. CRAZY JANE'S WILD DRIVE
II. WHAT HAPPENED TO TOMMY
III. THE TRAIL TO CAMP WAU-WAU
IV. IN THE HEART OF THE FOREST
V. THEIR TROUBLES MULTIPLY
VI. TAKING THEIR FIRST DEGREE
VII. TOMMY HAS A NIGHTMARE
VIII. A DAY WITH AN EXCITING FINISH
IX. SOUNDING THE GENERAL ALARM
X. AROUND THE COUNCIL FIRE
XI. TRIED BY THE FLAMES
XII. HARRIET TURNS THE TABLES
XIII. THE CAMP GETS A SURPRISE
XIV. CRAZY JANE IS INTRODUCED
XV. THE GHOST OF WAU-WAU
XVI. THE LAYING OF A SPOOK
XVII. THE SOUP THAT FAILED
XVIII. AN "HONOR" FAIRLY LOST
XIX. WHEN THE STORM BROKE
XX. THE FALL OF A FOREST KING
XXI. A DAY OF EXCITEMENT
XXII. SLUMBERS RUDELY DISTURBED
XXIII. HARRIET'S GRAVE MISTAKE
CRAZY JANE'S WILD DRIVE
"Tommy, what are you doing?" demanded Margery Brown, shaking back a lock of unruly hair from her flushed face.
"Conthulting the Oracle," lisped Grace Thompson, more familiarly known among her friends as Tommy.
"I should think you would prefer to cool off in the shade after that climb up the hill. I'm perishing. If you knew what sight you are you'd come in out of the sun, wouldn't she, Hazel?"
Hazel Holland regarded Margery solemnly.
"You are a sight yourself, Buster. Your face is as red as a beet. I wish you might see yourself in a looking glass."
Buster tossed her head disdainfully. "I'm not a sight," she declared.
"I'll leave it to Tommy if your face isn't positively crimson." But Tommy was too fully absorbed in her present occupation to give heed to the remark. "I'm sorry Harriet isn't here," continued Hazel, seeing that Tommy had not heard her.
"Why isn't she here?" asked Margery.
"Harriet is helping her mother," replied Hazel. "She always has something to do at home. She is a much better girl than either you or I, Buster. Harriet is always thinking of others instead of herself."
"Well, she's older. She is sixteen and I am only fourteen. By the time I'm her age I will settle down, too," declared Margery wisely.
"Wearing spectacles and darning socks," smiled Hazel.
Margery shook her head vehemently.
"Wouldn't it be awful!" she queried.
"Oh, I am not so sure of that," replied Hazel. "I like to keep house. Every girl ought to know all about housekeeping. Do you know how to cook?"
"No. I don't want to know either, not even plain cooking," retorted Margery. "Plain cooking may be all right for plain people, but——"
"Buster!" rebuked Hazel. "I am amazed to hear you talk that way. That is like Crazy Jane. You don't want to be called another 'Crazy Jane,' do you? You will be if you persist in saying such silly things."
"Why don't you lecture Tommy?" demanded Margery, her eyes snapping threateningly. "Tommy doesn't know a biscuit from an apple dumpling until she gets it in her mouth."
"Tommy, please come in out of the heat," begged Hazel. "What are you doing out there?"
"Telling my fortune," answered Tommy without raising her head from her task. Hazel observed that Tommy was pulling a daisy apart. A heap of daisies that she had pulled up by the roots, lay in her lap, regardless of the dirt that was accumulating on her stiffly starched white dress. One by one Tommy pulled the daisy petals from the flower, muttering rhythmically to herself.
"Consulting the Oracle," sniffed Buster. "Did you ever hear of anything so silly?"
"We all do silly things," answered Hazel wisely.
"I go, I thtay; I go, I thtay; I go, I thtay; I go—Oh!" Tommy glanced up with an expression of disgust on her face.
"Didn't it come out to suit you?" smiled Hazel Holland.
"No," pouted Tommy, screwing up her small face. When animated, Grace's was an impish face, made more so by the upward tilt of a much freckled nose.
"Go where?" I questioned Margery, now evincing a mild interest in Tommy's affairs.
"To the thea thhore."
"Oh, the sea shore," nodded Hazel.
"Yeth. The daithy theth tho. I'm going with my father and mother. But I don't want to go. I want to thtay here with the girlth," pouted Tommy.
"I should think you would be happy to think you are going to the sea shore. Most girls would be," reminded Hazel.
"It must cost a lot of money to go to the sea shore," remarked Margery Brown.
Tommy bobbed her head vigorously.
"Yeth. My father hath lotth of money, I thuppothe. But I don't care. I don't want to go."
"When do you go?"
"I don't know, Hathel. The Oracle thayth I'm going."
The Oracle having settled the question, no further doubts remained in the mind of little Grace Thompson.
Grace's father was a lawyer. Both he and the girl's mother had inherited fortunes, and Grace being an only child had much, finer clothes than any of her companions in the little New Hampshire town of Meadow-Brook.
Hazel Holland and Margery Brown were the daughters of village merchants, the former's father being a druggist, while the father of the latter owned a fairly prosperous grocery business.
The fourth member of this little quartette, Harriet Burrell, was not so fortunately situated as were her three friends. Harriet's father was a bookkeeper in the local bank, and on his moderate salary was doing his best to give his daughter and younger son an education. His salary was barely sufficient to do this and at the same time support his family, small as it was.
It was Harriet's ambition to go to college. She was now sixteen years old. In two more years she would finish her course at the high school. From that point on, the way did not look particularly bright, so far as continuing her education was concerned.
In the meantime Harriet Burrell was living the wholesome life that her environment made possible. She was a strong, healthy, buoyant girl, full of life and spirits, popular with everyone who knew her, and a superior being in the estimation of the three girls who were her close friends, even though she was unable to dress as well as they or to do other things that were easily within the means of the parents of Grace, Hazel and Margery.
The four girls were together much of the time, quarreling and making up almost in the same breath, even stubborn little Tommy giving way to the kinder and more mature disposition of Harriet Burrell. As Hazel had already said, Harriet at that moment was at home helping her mother, even though the fields, the trees and the nodding daisies were calling loudly to her.
"Must you go if you do not wish to!" Margery was asking.
"I gueth not; not if I don't want to, and I don't," declared Grace with emphasis.
"She thinks she can have more fun with us four girls this summer. Still, she should go if her folks wish her to do so," nodded Hazel thoughtfully. "Don't you say so, Buster?"
"No, I don't," declared Margery with some warmth. "In her place I should do just what I liked best. Then again, it wouldn't be fair for Tommy to go away like that and leave us all alone here to mope through the summer. That's right, Tommy. Tell them you won't go unless—unless you can take us along too."
"Margery!" rebuked Hazel severely. "That wasn't a nice thing to say. That shows a selfish spirit. If Harriet were here I know she would tell you the same thing. I am sure you didn't mean it that way."
"Harriet wouldn't," protested Buster. "She doesn't put on a solemn face and read people lectures. No, Hazel Holland, she doesn't do anything of the sort. There's some one coming," exclaimed the girl, suddenly changing the subject.
"I see her. It is Miss Elting," answered Hazel, her eyes growing bright. "She is coming up to see us, I do believe."
"Yeth, it'th Mith Elting," decided Grace, screwing up her little face and looking inquiringly at the newcomer who was leisurely making her way along the road in their direction. 441 wonder what she wantth."
"Miss Elting is coming up to join us, of course," replied Hazel. "And you see if she doesn't have something fine to suggest. Harriet is going to miss something, I know."
Miss Elting was one of the younger teachers in the Meadow-Brook High School, a leader in the girls' sports and very popular with them. But of all the pupils in the school her favorites were perhaps the four girls to three of whom the reader already has been introduced. Miss Elting called them "The Little Big Four." The young teacher exerted a great influence over the four Meadow-Brook Girls; she had been especially helpful to Harriet and a closer relation than that of teacher and pupil existed between the two. Both were passionately fond of Nature. They loved the fields, the woods and the waters and many a care-free happy hour they had spent together in the open. Hazel, Margery and Grace frequently accompanied them, though in such instances Harriet and Miss Elting usually found it necessary to cut short their outing because Margery "got all flustered up" from the heat and Tommy's feet usually hurt her.
They had recognized Miss Elting approaching some distance down the road that lay at the foot of the hill upon which the three girls had gone to spend a few leisure hours.
"Hoo-oo!" called Hazel, springing up and waving her handkerchief to attract Miss Elting's attention. The teacher saw them they thought; she appeared to be waving her hand at them, though the distance was so great that they could not be certain of this.
"I'm going to meet her," exclaimed Tommy, springing to her feet. "You thtay here." Tommy started off, scattering a lapful of daisies about her as she ran, then fled down the hill in a series of leaps, her white shoe ties brushing the tops of the daisies and sending the latter into a nodding sea of protest.
"Grace! Grace, come back!" cried Hazel.
"Isn't she a tomboy!" scoffed Margery. "Her nickname suits her."
Tommy was moving too rapidly at that moment to turn back, even though she had wished to do so. So fast was her gait that she appeared to have lost control of herself. Her little white-shod feet were working like parts of a machine driven at high speed. Her voice floated up to them in a shrill wail.
"Thave me! I'm going to fall," she cried. Then she disappeared from view as she sprawled face downward with arms thrust forward among the daisies and tall grass.
"Oh! She is hurt," cried Hazel in alarm.
"No, she isn't. Don't get excited," answered Margery calmly. "You don't know Tommy if you think a little tumble like that could harm her. See, there she goes."
Sure enough, Grace was on her feet again racing down the hill at the same reckless pace as before. She reached the foot of the hill without further mishap, hesitated a second or so at the fence, and then vaulted over it. For a moment, she was out of sight in the ditch beside the road, then she was seen clambering into the dusty highway.
Hazel was laughing.
"You couldn't do that, Buster, I'll warrant."
"I am sure I don't want to," answered Margery stretching out comfortably with her hands supporting her head. "I'm no circus performer."
Hazel uttered a little exclamation.
"Look Margery! Look!" she cried.
"Well, what is it? I don't see anything," replied Margery petulantly, raising herself on one elbow, gazing listlessly down into the valley where the village lay baking under the hot June sun.
"It's a special," cried Hazel. "See, the cars are orange colored. Aren't they pretty? I never saw anything more attractive."
Margery turned up her nose disdainfully.
"I don't see anything about a railroad train to get excited over," she answered, lying back in the shade of the maple tree, beneath which the girls had been resting for the past hour or so.
That the special train rushing down the valley, would make no stop at Meadow-Brook, Hazel could plainly see. Trains that were to stop there always slowed down before reaching the second crossing west of the village. This one had not done so. No sooner had Hazel observed this than she caught sight of something else, something that set her nerves all a tingle. A huge cloud of dust was rolling down the highway near the railroad tracks. That this cloud was not caused by the train was plain to the watching girl. Soon she was able to make out the outlines of an automobile in the cloud of dust. The train was but a short distance away. Each was making for the crossing, where the highway and railroad tracks met. Hazel did not believe the driver of the motor car was aware that the train was so close, even if the driver knew of its presence at all, for no train was due to pass through Meadow-Brook at that hour.
The color suddenly left Hazel Holland's face.
"Quick! Quick! Look!" she gasped.
"It's too hot to keep bobbing up and down," returned Margery indifferently.
"But look! Look!"
"Tell me about it, Hazel, dear. You do not have to get up to see. I do."
"Oh? Buster, there's going to be a collision."
"Eh? What?" Buster was on her feet instantly.
"The train is going to hit the automobile!"
Margery's face paled. Her breath came more quickly. Her eyes grew large and wondering. The power of speech seemed suddenly to have left her. They had forgotten all about Grace Thompson in the greater interest of the moment. Margery shivered with apprehension while beads of perspiration stood out on her forehead. She was staring in terror at the onrushing car.
"Oh!" she shuddered. "There'll surely be a collision."
"Look! The chauffeur doesn't see the train on account of the dust. Don't you see the dust rising in the road ahead of the automobile? The wind is blowing it up ahead and the machine is kicking it up behind. Hoo-oo! Hoo-oo!" cried the girl, frantically waving her handkerchief to attract the attention of the driver of the car, at the same time pointing to the rapidly approaching train.
Instead of slackening speed, the driver of the motor car appeared to be putting on more. The car was rapidly nearing the railroad crossing. So was the train.
"Oh, I can't look at it," cried Margery, throwing herself on the ground and burying her face in her arms.
Hazel stood perfectly rigid. She scarcely breathed. Her eyes were wide and staring.
"Ha—as it hap-p-pened?" faltered Margery.
"No-o-o. Oh! The driver is going to be killed! Oh, oh!"
For one awful second the motor car and engine of the special were swallowed up in a cloud of dust, then out of the cloud darted the locomotive on one side. On the other dashed the automobile, still on four wheels, continuing at the same reckless speed along the highway.
Hazel uttered a little scream.
"He's made it. Oh!" She sank to the ground pale and trembling. Margery raised a very red, very scared face.
"Wa—as he killed?"
"Oh, fudge! Why didn't you scare me to death while you were——"
"Look Oh, look!"
"I won't," declared Margery firmly. "Go crazy if you wish. I won't."
Buster bobbed up in a fresh panic.
The "man" in the motor car was gazing up at the girls waving one hand to them, steering the car with the other hand.
"It's a woman!" gasped Hazel.
"It's Crazy Jane," cried Margery. "No wonder she nearly ran down a train of cars."
"Tommy! Oh, Tom-my!" screamed Hazel Holland, hopping about frantically, waving both arms above her head, seeking to attract the attention of the woman driver as well as that of Tommy.
The little white figure had climbed the bank into the highway and was now fleeing down the road to meet her friend Miss Elting. Tommy did not see the automobile approaching from the rear. A knoll and a bend in the road hid the driver of the car and the little white figure from each other. The noise of the train either drowned that of the automobile, or else, Grace thought the rumble made by the car to be that made by the train that had just passed down the valley.
The motor car roared around the bend. Miss Elting screamed as she saw it. Grace heard the scream, but failing to understand the meaning of it, decided it to be some sort of greeting. The little girl waved her arms in reply. Miss Elting was gesticulating and pointing frantically. The two girls on the hillside were for the moment paralyzed with fright.
All at once, Grace appeared to perceive her danger. She turned sharply. There she stood, her frightened face turned toward the oncoming car that was rapidly approaching her enveloped in a blinding cloud of dust. The driver and Tommy discovered each other at about the same instant. There was no time to stop the car.
Suddenly, car and Tommy were swallowed up in the dust cloud.
"Grace is killed!" screamed Margery.
"Yes, oh yes!" wailed Hazel, wringing her hands. "What shall we do?"
Out of the dust cloud hurtled the little white figure. She appeared to have been doubled up into a large white ball by the car when it struck her.
The ball rolled from the road, disappearing into the roadside ditch. The motor car lurched around the curve in the road, zig-zagged past Miss Elting, then became a rolling cloud of dust again.
WHAT HAPPENED TO TOMMY
"Oh-h-h!" moaned Margery. "Poor Tommy has been killed."
In that terrible moment Hazel Holland came nearer to fainting than ever before in her life. She pulled herself sharply together. Margery was by this time sobbing hysterically.
"Don't do that," commanded Hazel sharply, "We must do something. Come quickly!"
Hazel started down the hillside in the trail followed by Tommy during her break-neck sprint to meet Miss Elting. The latter was already running toward the scene of the accident. Hazel recalled afterwards having wondered at the time that a woman could run so fast. Miss Elting's feet seemed barely to touch the ground. Margery, mustering her courage, staggered to her feet and followed Hazel at a slower pace, though she, too, was running.
Hazel was the first to reach the place where Grace had been hurled from the highway by the car.
"Grace!" she screamed, clambering awkwardly over the fence, dropping down on the road side. "Oh, Grace, are you killed?"
A pale-faced girl was sitting at the bottom of the dry ditch with both feet tucked under her. There was a bewildered look on her small face. She was blinking dazedly.
"Oh, dearie, are you injured?" cried Miss Elting, slipping and sliding down into the ditch beside the pale-faced Tommy.
"Tell me where, what?"
"My feelingth are hurt."
"She's alive! She's alive," cried Hazel, throwing impulsive arms about the neck of her little friend.
"Your feelings are hurt? Well, dear, if that is all, you are a lucky girl," smiled Miss Elting. "Did the automobile hit you?"
At this juncture, Margery made her appearance in a wholly unexpected manner. Margery in climbing the fence had caught her skirt on a nail. She plunged headlong down the bank into the ditch, almost falling on Grace.
"Oh, oh!" groaned Margery.
Hazel, laughing almost hysterically in her joy at finding Grace alive, quickly assisted Margery to her feet, wiping the dirt from Buster's flushed face.
"She isn't hurt at all," laughed Margery, fixing a glance of inquiry on Tommy's face.
"Tommy says her feelings are hurt," Miss Elting informed Buster.
"Then I am worse off than she. Because I tore my skirt and hurt my arm, too. Catch me running on another wild goose chase like this one. I don't believe the car hit you at all, Tommy Thompson."
"Yeth it did," protested Tommy. "Of courthe it did. I gueth I know. I felt it."
"Stand up," commanded Miss Elting, placing both hands under the arms of the girl and assisting her to her feet. "There! Now see if you can walk. Of course you can," comforted the teacher. "The car never touched you. You must have leaped out of the way just in time. Come, I will help you into the road, then we will take you home. But where is Harriett? I heard she was out here with you girls."
"I should not be here had not Tommy and Hazel dragged me out," declared Margery. "Violent exercise is not good for one during the hot weather."
"It'th very good for you, Buthter," remarked Tommy wisely. "It ithn't good for a growing girl to be thtout, tho I've heard."
"Don't worry. You will never suffer from being too stout," retorted Margery. "You can't keep still long enough."
"Mith Elting, I've been thitting here in the ditch for ever and ever tho long and not thaying a word, and Buthter thayth I can't keep thtill."
"Why don't you girls stop squabbling and answer Miss Elting's question?" demanded Hazel. "Harriet is at home, Miss Elting."
"Yeth, Harriet ith wathing ditheth for her mother," said Tommy. "I'd like to thee anybody make me wath ditheth if I didn't want to."
"That isn't a nice thing to say, Grace," rebuked the teacher. "Of course Harriet is a great help to her mother, as every girl should be. Suppose, Grace, that your mother could not afford to hire a servant to do these things for her? In that case I am positive you would do whatever you could to assist your mother. I believe you would make a fine little housekeeper."
Grace shook her head with emphasis.
"No? Then what would you do if your mother insisted upon your washing dishes?"
"I'd drop the ditheth. Maybe they wouldn't want me to wath any more ditheth after that," replied Tommy, screwing up her face so impishly that Miss Elting laughed aloud.
"Is it any wonder that Grace and myself quarrel awfully at times, Miss Elting?" asked Margery.
"They don't mean anything by it," apologized Hazel.
"Thay, what did you come up here for, Mith Elting?" questioned Tommy, directing a glance of suspicious inquiry at the teacher. "Do you want uth to go for another nithe little walk? No, thank you. I've walked with you before. Thank you very kindly. My feet are too thore and Buthter ith too tired. Harriet'th brother thayth that Buthter wath born with that tired feeling. I geth he'th right. Don't you think tho, Miss Elting? Thit down and retht, and I'll tell your fortune with a daithy."
"If you are rested sufficiently I think we had better move on. Don't worry, Grace. I am not going to drag you away on one of those long walks. But I have something to tell you."
"I knew it," piped Tommy. "Look out! There cometh another automobile." Tommy shied from her position in the road like a skittish horse.
Just then the car that had caused all the trouble came honking toward them and slowed down with a series of explosions that sounded like the discharges of a Gatling gun. The young woman who was driving the car, brought it to a stop, leaped out and running to Grace threw her arms about the slender girl in white.
"Oh, my darlin', my darlin'. My blessed little Tommy. Did I kill you altogether? And I wasn't going a little bit, was I? But didn't I come near to ripping the cowcatcher from that engine? Wasn't it just glorious the way I dodged the old thing? I knew all the time it was going to be a close shave, but I made up my mind I'd beat 'em out even if I took off the hind wheels of my car. Get in, you dears. I'll drive you home."
"What! Ride with you?" questioned Margery. "Not for a million dollars. It's a shame. They ought to arrest you."
"Yes, Jane," rebuked Miss Elting. "You shouldn't go racing about the way you do. Your car nearly ran over Grace."
"Dad says I drive too fast. He says he doesn't blame folks for calling me 'Crazy Jane.' He says I'll meet with an accident one of these days. But Dad has old-fashioned ideas."
Jane paused long enough to brush back two stray locks from her flushed face. Her hair was all awry and her attire showed carelessness and haste in dressing.
"Well, darlin's, if you won't go with me I think I'll go and get Harriet. She isn't afraid to ride with me."
"Please don't do that," replied Miss Elting. "We are on our way to see Harriet on important business."
"So long, then. I'm off, girls."
Jane sprang into her car and drove away with a sputter and a roar, disappearing in a cloud of pungent blue smoke.
"Isn't she a crazy creature?" demanded Margery disdainfully.
"She means well," soothed Hazel.
"Yeth. Thhe meanth to kill thomebody well," corrected Tommy.
Jane McCarthy had acquired the name of "Crazy Jane" because of her reckless driving, her harum-scarum ways and her complete ignoring of public opinion. Not a few of the residents of the little New Hampshire village feared that Jane might be brought home after one of her wild drives, with broken bones, if not worse.
In spite of her reckless manner Jane was well liked. She was good hearted and very charitable, though her charity was not always bestowed with judgment Being motherless she had practically done as she pleased ever since she began to walk, and her father, a wealthy contractor, had indulged her every whim, believing that Jane could do no wrong. Jane was prompt to take advantage of this paternal leniency, though her worst offense was that of continuously terrorizing the neighborhood in which she lived and the whole countryside as well, by her reckless driving with both car and horse.
The narrow escape of Grace Thompson from being run over by the big touring car had not shaken Jane's nerve in the least. It had shaken Tommy's only briefly. Tommy, supple and alert, had leaped from the road just in time to avoid being run down by the car. A second's delay on her part would undoubtedly have proved serious if not fatal to Tommy Thompson.
But the three girls were to see more of Jane in the near future. She was to play a more active part in their lives than she had ever before done. Just now they were more interested in what they instinctively felt Miss Elting had to say to them.
"Now, listen, girls," said Miss Elting after the roar of the car had died away in the distance. "I will tell you about the very pleasant plans I have made for you and Harriet."
THE TRAIL TO CAMP WAU-WAU
"I understand that your parents have been considering your going to the sea shore with them, Grace?" said Miss Elting with a rising inflection in her voice. "I suppose you are eager to go?"
"No, I'm not. What'th, more, I'm not going. I'm going to thtay here with the girlth. Why?" Tommy regarded the teacher keenly.
"Because my dear, if you are not going to the sea shore I wish to include you in my plans for the summer. I have a fine vacation planned for the four of you. Does any of you know the location of Pocono Woods?"
The girls shook their heads.
"It is a forest near Jamesburg about twenty-five miles from here. How would you young women enjoy spending your vacations in a camp in the woods, living in tents and——"
"Really truly tentth?" interrupted Tommy.
"Yes, dear. Real tents and campfires and all that sort of thing, right in the heart of the Pocono Woods, miles and miles from civilization."
"Are there any thnaketh there?" questioned Grace apprehensively.
"No, no snakes."
"There may be a few mosquitoes. I cannot say as to that. But it is a lovely spot. This camp," Miss Elting went on to say, "is for young girls and young women, and is part of the Camp Girls' Association, a large and growing organization. You will find a great many other young women there and you will, while there, be in charge of a guardian."
"Guardian!" interrupted Grace. "My father ith my guardian."
"Oh, I don't mean that sort of a guardian," answered Miss Elting with a bright smile. "The guardians are merely the women who take charge of the girls during their stay in camp. I am to be one of them this summer. I had planned to take you four girls there after the close of school, but did not think it advisable to speak of my plans until they were more fully developed and all arrangements completed. Now what do you think of it?"
"It is perfectly splendid," cried Margery. "Won't that be great, girls? But," she added, her face sobering, "I do not think my father and mother would permit me to go."
"I am quite sure that mine would not," agreed Hazel solemnly.
"I gueth Mith Elting hath theen to that," spoke up Tommy, her eyes narrowing.
"You have made a close guess, Grace. They have agreed, all except in your case. Your mother wishes to talk the matter over with you and your father before making a final decision."
"Then it ith all right," nodded Tommy confidently. "I'll make them let me go anyway and—ith Harriet going?"
"Yes. I hope so."
"Doeth thhe know about it!"
"I have not spoken to Harriet about it. I had hoped to do so out here to-day. That is why I proposed just now that we return to the village. We shall have a chance to talk it over on the way back, when I will tell you more about the proposed vacation."
"You thay my folkth know about it, Mith Elting?"
"What did they thay?"
"That they thought you had better go to Narragansett with them, but that if you insisted, they supposed you would have to go to the summer camp with us," admitted the teacher with a tolerant smile.
Tommy twisted her face into a grimace.
"My folkth know what ith good for them," averred the little blonde girl.
"I am afraid, my dear, that you do not fully know what is good for yourself," declared the teacher reprovingly. "You will have to obey the rules when you get to camp, and they are quite strict. There are so many girls there, that rather strict regulations have to be enforced. Every girl is expected to live up to them. Failing to do so she undoubtedly would be sent home."
"If they catch her," answered Tommy wisely. "You thay that Harriet doethn't know about thith?"
"Not yet, Grace."
The girl reflected for a moment. They had started slowly toward the village. All at once Tommy started down the road at top speed.
"Grace, Grace!" called Miss Elting.
"She's gone to tell Harriet what you have said," declared Margery.
A shade of annoyance passed over Miss Elting's face, quickly giving place to an amused smile as she watched the light-footed Tommy speeding down the road. Tommy whisked herself out of their sight in no time.
"Let us hurry on," urged the teacher. "Grace is sure to confuse the story if she tries to tell it. Mrs. Burrell wished me to tell Harriet of the camping trip that is before her."
The girls nodded their approval of the suggestion. Margery held her head a little higher than usual. She wanted to impress upon Miss Elting the fact that she was too dignified to do what Tommy had just done.
In the meantime Grace had continued her wild flight to the door of the Burrell home into which she burst like a miniature cyclone. Her face was flushed and her eyes sparkled. Her white dress was crumpled and stained from sprawling on the hillside and falling out of the road into the wayside ditch.
"Oh, Harriet! Harriet!" she gasped, flinging herself into the room where Harriet Burrell and her mother sat sewing on one of Harriet's dresses which, though the young woman did not know it, was intended for her to wear during the coming vacation in camp.
Harriet sprang up and ran to the excited Tommy, believing that something terrible had occurred.
"Tommy, Tommy! What is it?" she cried.
"The greatetht thing you ever heard. Oh, I won't tell you. It ith too good. Gueth what? Gueth!" chuckled Grace.
"I am afraid I cannot," laughed Harriet, now discovering that nothing was amiss with Grace. "I am not a good guesser, but I do guess that you are very much excited."
"You're going, too," interrupted Grace. "We're all going, and we're all going to live in——"
"Sit down, Tommy and calm yourself. You are so excited that I can't understand anything from your jumble of words," admonished Harriet, laying a firm hand on the arm of her friend and pushing Grace into a chair.
"I don't want to thit down," objected Tommy bobbing up again. "I want to talk, then I want to danthe. Oh, I'm tho happy. But I'm a thight," she added, glancing down at her gown.
"I agree with you," answered Harriet, smilingly. "Do sit down and compose yourself. Where are the girls? Are they as flustrated as you are?"
"Yeth, and they're going, too. They're coming here with Mith Elting. They're coming from over there." Harriet smiled as Grace waved an excited hand toward the west, the direction in which the hill lay.
"Tell me about it. I am growing curious. Where is it we are going?"
Tommy bobbed up from her chair and began dancing about the room.
"Oh, ever and ever tho far."
By this time Mrs. Burrell began to understand. She realized that the cat was about to jump out of the bag, but made no effort to assist Grace in telling the story. Instead Harriet's mother sat with an amused smile on her face.
"We're going away, we're going away. Don't you underthtand?"
"No, Tommy, I don't."
"Where is it that we are going?"
"Ever and ever tho far away. Way off in the woodth where the birdth thing and the frogth croak and the mothquitoeth bite you and thpoil your complexion. And, oh, gueth, gueth, Harriet."
Harriet threw up her hands, an expression of comical despair on her face.
"I give you up, Tommy. You are hopeless. Here come Miss Elting and the girls. Perhaps Miss Elting can tell us what it is all about. I am not going away. You are going to the sea shore, are you not, Tommy?"
Tommy shook her head vigorously.
"I'm not," she declared, with a stamp of her foot. "I'm going to the woodth and——"
"You ran away from us, you naughty girl," chided Miss Elting after having greeted Mrs. Burrell and Harriet. Margery and Hazel had followed her in, and were now shaking hands with Harriet, though it had been only a matter of some two hours since last they met.
"I suppose Grace has told you all about it, Harriet. However, there may be a few dry details left for me," continued Miss Elting with a severe frown at Tommy.
"She hasn't told me anything. She has tried to tell me, but she is too excited to be intelligible. Please tell me what it is all about. I am anxious to hear the news."
"Let Grace tell it, now that she has begun," suggested Miss Elting, nodding to the excited Tommy.
However, with the entrance of the teacher and the two girls, Tommy in her haste to blurt out the full story had become hopelessly tangled. She hesitated, stammered, then stopped short. There was a merry laugh at her expense.
"I shall have to tell you after all, young ladies," said the teacher. "You four girls, it has been decided, are to go with me to the summer camp in the Pocono Woods. Do you know about the summer camp there, Harriet?"
"I have heard of it," answered Harriet, gazing steadily at the speaker. "It is quite an important organization, is it not?"
"Just so. As I already have explained to the girls, I am one of the guardians. I thought it would be fine to have my Meadow-Brook Girls accompany me, and with the consent of the parents of each girl, I have arranged for you to remain in the camp for six weeks, at least, or until we have to return to get ready for the fall term of school here."
"Yeth, and, and, and——" began Tommy.
"Oh do hurry up and tell the retht, Mith Elting," she ended impatiently.
The smile slowly faded from Harriet's face, and now that the animation had left it, it was rather plain. Her hair brushed straight back from a broad forehead, made more pronounced the undeniable plainness of her features. But when animated that face was fairly transformed. As Miss Elting had expressed it, "Harriet lighted up divinely." She was a tall, well built girl whose erect carriage and graceful poise indicated athletic training.
"Yes, that will be fine, indeed," agreed Harriet. "Of course you know it will not be possible for me to go with you, much as I should like to. You understand why without my explaining, Miss Elting."
"Yeth you will go," burst out Grace, suddenly finding her voice again. "I'll pay for you. I've got lotth and lotth of money."
Harriet's face flushed.
"You are a dear, Tommy. But you know I could not permit you to do that," was Harriet's gentle reply. "It is very, very good of you, but wholly impossible. You know Miss Elting, that I could not afford a vacation such as that, much as I should like to go. Oh, wouldn't it be fine if we four girls might spend our vacation in camp together?" she exclaimed, her features lighting up again.
"And so you shall," answered Miss Elting with a finality in her tone that led Harriet Burrell to gaze at the young woman with keen, questioning eyes. "Listen, my dear. I am going to take you with me as my guest. As I have already explained, I am one of the guardians of the camp. The guardians receive no remuneration for their services, but each is entitled, if she wishes, to take one girl with her as her guest. The girl so taken would be a member of the camp, just the same as the others. She would in no sense be a charity member either. She would be on exactly the same footing as her companions. That is the way you are going to join the camping party. I am inviting you to be my guest. Your name already has been registered with Mrs. Livingston, the Chief Guardian of the camp. Your place will be ready for you when you reach there, and I believe you will enjoy your summer thoroughly."
"Now what have you got to thay to that?" demanded Grace triumphantly.
Harriet turned a thoughtful gaze on the smiling face of her mother.
"And you knew about this all the time, but said never a word to me, Mother?"
"Oh, you darling Mother," cried the girl impulsively, throwing both arms about Mrs. Burrell's neck, kissing her affectionately. From her mother Harriet turned her attention to Miss Elting whom she also embraced in a bear-like hug. "How can I ever thank you?"
"By going with us," answered Miss Elting.
"Thay, aren't you going to kith me? Didn't I firtht tell you about it?" demanded Tommy.
Harriet ran over to her little friend, kissing her lightly, at the same time giving Tommy's ear a pinch.
"Girls, you have been in the secret all the time, too, haven't you?"
"Do you think I could keep a thecret all that time?" answered Grace. "Didn't I nearly break my prethiouth neck to get down here to tell you the good newth the minute I heard it? Didn't I get run over by an automobile, too?"
"Grace fell down the hill. She did have a narrow escape from being run down by Crazy Jane," explained Miss Elting.
Harriet regarded her little friend with twinkling eyes.
"When do we go?" she asked.
"On Saturday, the day after to-morrow."
"So soon! Oh, that will be glorious. But how about clothes. What do the girls wear? Anything they happen to have?"
"No. They dress alike, or nearly so."
"Then I fear I shan't be able to go. You see I have nothing except my regular clothes."
Miss Elting continued speaking, unheeding the interruption.
"The everyday dress is of dark blue serge, the waist is batiste lined, it has long sleeves and a large flowing bow, made of plaid or Roman-striped silk at the neck. The skirt for the large girls is plain with a wide box pleat at the back. The skirt for the smaller girls is kilted and made ankle-length or shorter if desired. The dress has three pockets, one of them in the sleeve——"
"Funny plathe for a pocket," observed Tommy.
"Now do you begin to understand?" smiled Miss Elting.
"Why—why," stammered Harriet, "That is the very thing mother and I have been working on. I've been at work on my camp dress all the time and didn't know it." Harriet laughed excitedly. There were tears of joy in her eyes. "Oh, what a goose I have been, haven't I, girls?"
"Yeth," agreed Tommy, bobbing her head up and down.
"The official hat," continued Miss Elting, "is also of dark blue serge to match the rest of the outfit. It has a white silk cord about the crown with the name of the camp in white on the blue background. I forgot to say that the emblem of your rank in the camp order, will be worked on the sleeve. That may be done after reaching camp."
"What is the name of the camp—Pocono?" asked Harriet for the sake of continuing the conversation. She was too dazed to think clearly as yet.
"Camp 'Wau-Wau' is the name. It is a Chinook Indian name. 'Wau-Wau' is a term, usually applied to a number of squaws gathering for a confab, and corresponds to the 'pow-wow' of the braves. Now you know all about it. We shall start from here on the noon train Saturday."
IN THE HEART OF THE FOREST
"Is the wagon for Camp Wau-Wau here?" asked Miss Elting.
Four happy-faced girls, accompanied by the teacher, had left the train at Jamesburg, from where they were to be conveyed by wagon into the woods. Miss Elting was directed to a three-seated buck-board wagon. Jasper, the handy man about the camp was on the driver's seat. He was an old man who said little. It was rumored that three seasons spent at Wau-Wau had thoroughly subdued him.
"What about the trunks?" asked the young woman.
"Fetch 'em to-morrow," he answered tersely.
Tommy regarded the slender looking buck-board apprehensively.
"Buthter better walk," she decided. "The wagon won't hold her."
"Now, now, Tommy, do stop teasing Buster. If the wagon goes down Margery will go down with it," answered Harriet laughingly.
"And she will fall a great deal harder than will you," added Miss Elting, at which there was a merry laugh.
It was late in the afternoon when they finally climbed into the buck-board which sagged in the middle until all the girls began to grow apprehensive. They started away along a country road a gay party, indeed, but Harriet noted that horse and driver were not well matched. The horse she could plainly see was young and fractious, and she wondered what the old man would do should the animal prove unmanageable. Their driver, however, appeared to have perfect control over the animal, so Harriet dismissed the disturbing thought from her mind and prepared to enjoy the ride.
The drive to the camp was fully twenty miles. Having come by train they had covered nearly twice the distance that would have been necessary had they driven direct from Meadow-Brook. The fields through which they were driving were green, the air was fresh and fragrant after a shower that had fallen earlier in the day and the girls in the buck-board wagon were in high spirits.
"I'll tell you what, girls," cried Harriet after they had sung all the songs they knew and discussed the country through which they were passing until the latter subject had been worn out. "I'll tell you what we ought to have."
"Ith it thomething nithe?" questioned Grace.
"It is a yell, Tommy."
"A yell? I can yell."
"I don't mean it in that way. Something like a high school or a college yell. We are the Meadow-Brook Girls, you know. We have a name, now we must have a yell."
"Oh, Mith Elting, give uth a yell, a loud one," urged Tommy, her eyes sparkling.
Miss Elting smiled tolerantly.
"You had better arrange one to suit yourselves," she answered. "Harriet, you will have to provide the yell now that you have suggested it."
Harriet already had a pencil in her hand. She sat holding the pencil poised above the fly leaf of a book that she had brought along to read, but had not up to this moment, so much as opened. Her brow was wrinkled in thought. Tommy was regarding her keenly.
"Well, aren't you going to yell!"
All at once Harriet's face relaxed. She began to write. Margery craned her neck to see what was being written, but Harriet held the cover of the book in such a position that Buster could not see what was being jotted down.
"It isn't polite to look over another person's shoulder in that way," reproved Hazel.
"Well, you wouldn't exthpect Buthter to be polite when she ith away from home, would you?" demanded Grace.
"I have it," announced Harriet. "Listen, girls and see how you like this:
"'Rah, rah, rah, Rah, rah, rah Meadow-Brook, Meadow-Brook, Sis, boom ah!'"
"What do you think of that, girls? Isn't that simply fine?" cried Miss Elting enthusiastically. But her voice was lost in the chorus that welled forth from the throats of the Meadow-Brook Girls, who had taken up the yell with a will. Tommy's "thith boom ah!" at the end of the yell sent not only the girls, but Miss Elting as well into peals of merry laughter.
Jasper never smiled. He stroked his long whiskers reflectively. Harriet who occupied the seat beside him, stole a glance at the old man out of the corner of one eye.
"I suppose you are used to girls, aren't you!" she asked.
"Ya-a-a-s," drawled Jasper then relapsed into silence. The girls promptly broke the silence again by giving the Meadow-Brook yell. They continued to give it until their throats ached. Now and then three of them would stop short of the last line in order to catch more clearly Tommy's "thith boom ah!" which always sent them into screams of laughter. Finally Tommy became angry and refused to yell. But the little lisping girl was like an April day. Her frowns of displeasure were replaced by smiles within a very few minutes. The girls had learned not to take Grace's fits of temper seriously. When she became ruffled, they simply left her to herself for a few moments well knowing that the clouds would soon pass and the sun shine again.
"There are the woods! Oh, girls, look at them," cried Harriet. The wagon had reached the top of a high knoll in the road, when below them was revealed the dark blue of a forest that stretched straight ahead and to the right and left as far as the eye could reach.
"Yes, that is Pocono Woods," Miss Elting informed them. "Are they large enough to suit you?"
"What would we do if we were to get lost in there?" gasped Margery.
"I know what I'd do," piped Tommy. "I'd yell like thixthty."
"You are likely to do that even though you are not lost," chuckled the guardian.
"How far into the woods do we go?" wondered Harriet.
"'Bout ten mile, I reckon," answered Jasper.
"Ten miles? Listen to that, girls. Oh, isn't it perfectly splendid?" exclaimed Harriet. "I never dreamed that I should have such a glorious vacation as this is going to be. How many girls are there in camp, Miss Elting?"
"Forty or fifty I should say. I do not know the exact number. You will find a happy lot of young women. Are you hungry?"
There was a general assent to the question.
Miss Elting produced a small hamper in which were sandwiches, cold tea, milk and fruit. It was a delightful surprise to the girls. They showed their further appreciation by eating every crumb of the luncheon, while Jasper contented himself with nibbling at a single sandwich which he held in one hand, driving the young horse with the other.
In this way they drove into the forest, entered the cool dark shadows of the big woods, and were greeted with a chorus of piping twitters from hundreds of forest birds, varied now and then by the hoarse caw of a distant crow whose voice perhaps had started the woodland chorus. The fragrance of the woods mingled delightfully with the perfume of the wild honey-suckle. The Meadow-Brook Girls fell silent under the majesty of the forest. Tommy was the first to break the spell.
"Thith ith a thpooky old plathe," she declared with a shiver. "Oh, Mr. Jathper, are there any fairieth in thethe woodth?"
"Fairies," explained Harriet, smiling absently.
"Never seen none," answered the old man gruffly.
"Isn't it simply glorious?" breathed Hazel.
"It is too wonderful for words," agreed Harriet.
Miss Elting nodded, smiling happily at the enthusiasm of the girls. The wagon was following an old logging road. Small bushes grew up in the middle of the road. The wheels sank down into deep ruts that had been cut by the tires of the heavy logging wagons, but in general the way was free of obstructions, though the bushes in the road tickled the hide of the young horse until he began to prance from one side of the road to the other in an effort to avoid them. Harriet wanted to suggest to Jasper that he use both hands to drive, but she did not quite like to do so. He undoubtedly would resent her interference, nor could she blame him for doing so.
"Jasper, are you sure the horse is perfectly safe?" questioned Miss Elting apprehensively.
"Hasn't been doing nothing for nigh onto a week. Jest feels his oats, that's all."
Harriet was not fully satisfied with the explanation, though the others appeared to be. Harriet watched the animal now even more closely than she had done before.
"Gid-ap!" commanded Jasper, giving the horse an unexpected slap with the reins after a particularly quick swerve to one side of the road on the animal's part. The horse cleared the road with a single leap sideways. He had been pricked by the sharp top of a bush at the instant the reins were brought down on his back. The reins not being under the full control of the driver at that moment, the animal took advantage of the fact and shying clear out of the narrow road, plunged in among the trees in a panic of fear.
There followed a crunching grinding crash.
"Thave me! Oh, thave me!" screamed Tommy.
With a ripping sound the canopy top was stripped clear of the vehicle and left dangling from the low hanging limbs of the trees under which the buck-board wagon had been dragged.
"Hold fast! Don't try to jump!" commanded Miss Elting without the least trace of excitement in her voice. Hazel placed a firm hand on the arm of the terror-stricken Tommy.
The right forward wheel of the wagon collided with a tree. The wheel was shattered, and the end of the axle broken off short. At the same instant the horse sprang sharply to the left evidently in an effort to get back into the log road, facing almost in the opposite direction.
Jasper being on the downhill side when the wheel collapsed, plunged head first from the seat, landing heavily on the ground. His head coming into contact with the base of the tree, Jasper sank over on his side, unconscious.
Harriet had not lost her head for a second. As the driver fell she snatched at the reins. She caught one of them, the other falling to the ground on the wrecked side of the wagon.
The thills of the wagon broke off short with reports like the explosions of a pistol. Then the horse bolted. Harriet grasping the one rein with both hands shot over the dashboard of the wagon as though she had been projected from a cannon. Hazel and Tommy were also pitched from the vehicle, Miss Elting and Margery clinging to the seats as the wagon toppled over on its side.
"Let go!" shouted Miss Elting. "You'll be killed!"
But Harriet clung to the single rein, the frantic animal dragging her away at a frightful rate of speed.
THEIR TROUBLES MULTIPLY
Harriet Burrell's position was, indeed, a perilous one. She was too plucky to release her grip on the rein, no matter what the cost to herself, and her gown. Clinging desperately to the rein she was jerked violently across the log road, the horse dragging her after him as he bolted in among the trees on the opposite side.
Harriet still hoped that she might be able to check the animal and bring it to a standstill. She did not pause to think what a foolhardy thing she was doing. All of a sudden the animal swung about in a half circle. He literally cracked the whip with Harriet Burrell. The rein slapped the side of a big tree. Harriet was lifted from her feet and hurled with great force into the middle of a heap of brush. The dead branches snapped under her weight and she landed at the bottom of the heap, then lay still.
Miss Elting upon finding that the other three girls were more scared than hurt, had run after the fleeing horse that was dragging Harriet away. She cried out in her alarm as she saw the girl land in the brush heap. But by the time Miss Elting had reached the spot, Harriet's pale, scratched face appeared above the top of the brush.
"Oh, my dear, my dear! Are you hurt?"
"Oh, I am all right, thank you," answered Harriet with a brave smile. "Was—was any one injured?"
Before answering Miss Elting had plunged into the brush waist deep to lend a hand to Harriet. The gowns of both women were considerably damaged before Harriet had been assisted from her uncomfortable predicament.
"You poor girl!" exclaimed Miss Elting.
"I am somewhat the worse for wear," smiled Harriet ruefully.
"Thave me, thave me!"
At sound of the familiar voice and the familiar words they turned to see Tommy running toward them.
"Jathper hath a fit," cried Tommy.
Miss Elting and Harriet ran back to the scene of the accident as fast as they could go. Harriet was limping a little. They found Jasper sitting at the base of the tree, holding his head and groaning. Hazel and Margery stood pale-faced gazing down at him.
"What seems to be the matter with him?" questioned Miss Elting.
"It ain't me. It's the hoss," groaned Jasper. "That three-year old cost me jest a hundred and fifty dollars two weeks ago."
"You will get him back," soothed Harriet
"Yes, but he's spiled. D' ye think Mis' Livingston'll ever trust me to take out another passel of girls behind that critter? And the rig! It's smashed. It's busted."
"I shouldn't worry until I had to," advised Miss Elting. "Just now we have other things to concern us."
"Which way did my hoss go?"
Harriet did not know. Her head had been in such a whirl at the time she had parted company with the animal, that she had lost all sense of direction. Miss Elting said the animal had started back toward Jamesburg.
"Then I must git back to the burg and find him," declared Jasper.
"He ithn't going to leave uth here in the woodth, ith he?" wailed Grace.
"Don't worry," replied the guardian. "Jasper, how far are we from town?"
"Nigh onto fifteen mile."
"Then we should be about five miles from the camp?"
"What do you propose to do with us in the meantime?" demanded Miss Elting.
"You kin wait here till I git another hoss and come back."
"No, thank you. We do not care to sit down here until you return, which will not be until some time to-morrow morning, even if you hurry."
"I got to git that hoss or another hoss," persisted Jasper.
"You will do nothing of the kind. You will remain right here with us," declared Miss Elting firmly. "You shall not go to Jamesburg for a horse until you have seen us safely in camp. Is there any chance of any one else driving past here?"
He shook his head.
"Why can't we walk it?" asked Harriet.
"I had been thinking of making that suggestion. Do you feel equal to it, Harriet?"
"Oh, yes. And the woods are so nice and cool and fragrant. I should prefer walking to riding behind that horse again."
"So should I," agreed Miss Elting with emphasis.
"I got to git a hoss," repeated Jasper stubbornly.
Twilight already was upon them. The forest would soon be in darkness.
"Girls, get together such of your belongings as you think yourselves able to carry. Jasper will also take a bundle. I would suggest that we put our changes of clothing into two bags and have him carry them."
"But our camp dresses are in the trunks," answered Hazel.
"We shall have to get along without them, that's all. Perhaps Mrs. Livingston may be able to fit us out until we get our own clothes. This is most unfortunate. I am awfully sorry, girls. I am afraid you will wish you hadn't accepted my invitation."
"Yeth. I with I'd thtayed at home," piped Tommy. She was very frank about it. There was no beating about the bush with Grace Thompson.
"This time you will have to walk whether you wish to or not," jeered Buster. "I don't want to walk, but I am willing to for the sake of seeing you do something you don't like for once. Just think, you will have to walk five miles, Tommy Thompson."
"Oh, thave me! I won't. I'll thtay right here till Jathper getth another horthe."
"Very well," smiled Miss Elting. "You may remain here until he comes for you sometime to-morrow morning. Jasper, when the young women have their bags ready you will take two of them. We shall manage with the rest of the things very well, I think," she added sweetly.
Jasper obeyed meekly after glancing at the determined face of the guardian.
"We shall have to leave some of our belongings here. I suppose they will be perfectly safe?" she questioned.
Jasper grunted sourly.
Tommy stood observing the preparations for their departure, her alert eyes taking in everything. Especially did she eye Miss Elting, but the expression on the face of the latter told Grace nothing. Jasper dragged down the canopy top, surveyed it ruefully; then kicked it aside with a grunt of disgust.
"I gueth you'd like to kick the horthe too," observed Tommy.
Jasper gazed at her, started to say something, then checked himself. Margery and Hazel giggled. The man finally picked up the bags and stood sullenly waiting. Miss Elting and Harriet also carried suit cases, the other girls taking small packages with them. Tommy stood leaning defiantly against a tree.
"Good night, Tommy," called Miss Elting sweetly. "Keep out from under the trees, if a thunder storm should come up during the night." Harriet, Hazel and Margery suppressed their giggles. Tommy held her position, standing with head thrust forward, eyes narrowed, face drawn into sharp wrinkles.
"Oh, we oughtn't to do it," whispered Hazel.
"Never mind, dear," replied Miss Elting. "You don't think for an instant that Grace will remain behind, do you? This is one of several little lessons that we shall teach her this summer."
They walked on swiftly, for darkness had now overtaken them. All at once they heard a plaintive little wail behind them. A small figure came flying down the log road.
"Thave me! I'm tho afraid," pleaded Tommy, darting up beside Miss Elting and snuggling against her.
Then the Meadow-Brook Girls laughed. The woods rang with their laughter. They expressed no sympathy for Tommy. They were agreed that she had learned a good lesson. Tommy pouted, but clung closely to the guardian. About this time a halt had to be made while Harriet attended to the skirt of her gown that had been badly torn by the brush. Her companions assisted her in pinning it up. While absorbed in this task they had forgotten all about Jasper. They discovered his absence quite suddenly when Miss Elting raised her voice in a loud hello to him.
No answer came back.
"How provoking!" exclaimed Miss Elting.
"He has gone away and left us," moaned Margery.
"Do you think he could have gone back to Jamesburg?" questioned Harriet. "I believe he would if he dared."
"He had better not. I don't see that there is anything to be afraid of except that we might pass by the camp, which, I understand is some little distance from this road. Then again we must not get off the road or we are sure to lose our way. All keep close together. We will continue to walk on. We will call him frequently. I am certain that when he finds we are not keeping up with him, he will either return to see what has become of us or stop to wait."
For a full half hour they continued on their way, stumbling, catching their feet in vines that had trailed across the road occasionally, bumping into trees, but never once wholly getting off the log road. Now and then the call of a night bird fluttering from a tree near at hand, would send Margery and Tommy into a sudden panic. There are many weird sounds to be heard in the forest at night. It seemed as though the travelers heard them all. Had their guardian not been with them, at least two of the girls would have been hysterical. Harriet appeared undisturbed and Hazel held herself very well in hand. But all at once there came a sudden interruption that threatened at the moment to send them all fleeing for safety.
Margery who was walking to one side of the road and slightly in advance of Miss Elting, uttered a piercing scream. They heard her fall.
"Help, oh help!" cried Margery, terrified.
Harriet darted forward to her companion's assistance. She stumbled over something that moved and tried to push her aside. Harriet thrust out both hands and grappled with the object. She grasped a handful of hair.
"It's an animal!" cried the girl, tugging with all her might. "Quick! Help!"
Miss Elting ran forward, now really alarmed, the frightened Tommy still clinging to her skirts. Then came a voice, a male voice raised in angry protest.
"Leggo my whiskers, consarn ye!" it shouted. "Leggo, I tell ye. It's Jasper."
There followed a scuffle and a fall, as Jasper in trying to rise from the suit cases that he had been carrying, fell over them. He landed on his back, shouting angrily. Harriet sat down in the road overcome by a sudden weakness, then she laughed. The other girls, now that the tension had snapped, were laughing also, all except Tommy who was so frightened that she could not say a word.
"Jasper, what do you mean by frightening us in this manner?" demanded Miss Elting severely. "First, you run away from us then you frighten us nearly out of our wits."
"Yaas. Mebby ye think it's fun to pull a man's whiskers out when he ain't looking. I sot down here on them bags to rest. I was waitin' for ye to come up seein' as I'd got ahead. Then one of 'em had to come blundering along and fall over me. Before I knowd what had hit me, the other—I don't know who she is in the dark—lighted on my whiskers like a pesky mosquito," complained the driver.
Harriet ceased her laughing at once. She got up, stepping carefully over to the place where the driver was standing nursing his injured whiskers.
"It was I who pulled your whiskers, Mr. Jasper," she said. "I am so sorry. But—but I thought you were some sort of animal and—and——"
Harriet's concluding words were lost in a shout of laughter from the girls.
There was nothing more to be said. Harriet felt so humiliated that she was glad they were unable to see her face.
"Jasper!" commanded Miss Elting sharply. "I shall require you to keep just ahead of us within sound of our voices even though you cannot see us in the darkness. How far are we from the camp?"
"Three miles," answered the man sourly.
"My feet are giving out," she complained.
"Let me help you along," said Harriet, placing an arm about her little companion. "Try to forget your tired feet."
"I've a pain in my neck too. I might forget the pain in my neck but the pain in my feet ith there to thtay."
"Never mind, we shall be at Camp Wau-Wau in a couple of hours, then we will have something to eat and you will go to bed and sleep. Isn't it all perfectly delightful, dear?" comforted Harriet.
"Yeth, it ith fine. Tho fine you can't thee it," agreed Tommy dolefully.
It was a trying journey at best. They had lost all track of time, not being able to consult their watches in the dark. Jasper had no matches and he was very irritable, which perhaps was not surprising in view of the fact that he had lost his horse and wrecked a wagon for which he undoubtedly would be called upon to pay, as it did not belong to him. After a time they gave up trying to obtain information from Jasper.
The dull glow of a fire through the trees gave them the first inkling that they were nearing their destination. Tommy was being fairly lifted along by Harriet The latter did not complain at supporting the girl and the suit case, but her arms ached from the exertion.
"There's the camp, dear," encouraged Harriet.
"Camp's a mile down the path," growled Jasper, bringing a groan from Margery and Grace. "That's the fire the girls built up so that we shouldn't go past the path."
"That was thoughtful," exclaimed Harriet. The building of the fire made quite an impression on her. This impression was strengthened when upon reaching the low fire she observed that all leaves and combustible matter had been raked away to a safe distance from the fire so that the forest might not be fired by the blaze. It was her first lesson in woodcraft on this eventful journey into the big forest.
They followed a dark path that wound in and out, a gloomy aisle in the great forest with the tops of the trees over their heads, so high as almost to be lost to view even in daylight, Margery puffing, Tommy uttering little moans now and then so that her companions might know of her misery. That last stretch along the narrow path seemed an endless journey. Then too, it will be recalled that the Meadow-Brook Girls had had nothing to eat since morning except the cold luncheon served by Miss Elting.
"There is the camp, girls," cried the latter some thirty minutes later as a second glow off to the left attracted her attention. "I am right, am I not, Jasper?"
Jasper grunted an affirmative, then led the way to Mrs. Livingston's tent, at Miss Elting's direction. It was the only tent with a light to be seen. The other tents were lost in the shadows of the forest, and the girls who were occupying them were lost in dreamland.
"Keep very quiet so you will not awaken any one," cautioned the guardian as they approached the Chief Guardian's tent, rapping gently on the tent pole. The flap was drawn quickly back. Mrs. Livingston welcomed the wanderers warmly.
The camp life of the Meadow-Brook Girls had really begun. Its activities and excitement were to begin within a few hours from the time of their arrival.
TAKING THEIR FIRST DEGREE
"But my dears," cried Mrs. Livingston, a sweet-faced, motherly woman. "What could have occurred?"
It was not strange that she should express amazement, for the condition of the clothes of the Meadow-Brook Girls would have attracted attention anywhere. She stood back surveying them anxiously. All were more or less disheveled. Tommy's blonde hair had fallen about her shoulders in tangled locks; Margery had burst most of the buttons off her blouse when she fell over Jasper; Harriet's blue gingham frock had been sadly demolished on her journey at the end of the rein behind the frightened horse; Hazel found difficulty in keeping her hair out of her face; besides which, both she and Miss Elting looked tired and worn.
"We had an accident," explained Miss Elting. "But we overcame all difficulties finally."
"I'm the only one that wath overcome," lisped Grace. "It wathn't the difficultieth, it wath mythelf. And, Mithith Livingthton, Harriet pulled out some of Jathperth whithkerth. Wathn't that funny?"
"You had better leave the explanation to me," suggested Miss Elting, who then went on to explain what had occurred on their journey to the Pocono Woods, Mrs. Livingston listening with wide open eyes.
"Oh, I am so sorry, my dears," comforted the elderly woman after having heard the story of their experiences. "But you surely did show pluck. That is proper. A Camp Girl must be resourceful and brave under all circumstances."
"Yeth ma'am. Pleathe tell that to Buthter. She ith a 'fraid cat."
"My dear Miss Thompson, that is not the way a Camp Girl should speak of any of her companions. However, I will forgive you this time. Are you hungry? You must be after that long walk."
"We had a light luncheon on the way out," answered Miss Elting.
"All of you come with me to the cook tent at once. But I warn, you it will be a luncheon of such as we can put our hands on. I do not wish to wake the workers at this hour."
They passed by a long row of darkened tents on their way to the cook tent located well down the street, which was a street in name only.
"I have assigned you and Miss Thompson to this tent, Miss Burrell," said the Chief Guardian. "You will be introduced to your tentmates in the morning. Here we are."
The cook tent was filled with long tables running lengthways of the tent. Everything was bright and clean with a strong odor of pine in the air.
"My! That odor of pine does give one an appetite," laughed Miss Elting. "What may we do to assist you?"
"You may make the coffee while I get together some things to eat," directed Mrs. Livingston. "You will find the coffee-pot and coffee can beside it on the second shelf to the right. I think there is still fire in the stove. I had it kept up until late rather expecting that you would come in hungry. I shall have to talk with Jasper. His attitude was inexcusable."
Miss Elting having turned her attention to the fire, Harriet promptly reached for the coffee-pot and in a short time had the coffee boiling. Hazel took the food from Mrs. Livingston, placing it on the table and arranging the places for the party.
"Very well done, young ladies," approved Mrs. Livingston, whose keen eyes had missed nothing of the preparations. "That is as it should be with a Camp Girl. I am afraid it will be useless to suggest that you eat as lightly as possible. You must be famished, but remember you will be going to bed very shortly after your meal."
They promised her that they would heed her suggestion. All did so save Grace who ate heavily. Mrs. Livingston regarded the little girl with an amused smile. She already knew Tommy better than Tommy even knew herself. To take their attention from their eating in a measure, Mrs. Livingston told them something of the life of the camp with reference to themselves.
"After you have filled out and signed the blanks to-morrow you will be full fledged members of the Camp Girls' Association. Each of you will have attained your first rank. You will be known as Wood Gatherers and the emblem of your rank will be the crossed fagots on the Sleeves of your blouses. By the way, Miss Elting, have they been supplied with the uniform?"
"Yes. Their clothes are in their trunks. We were obliged to leave them at the station."
Mrs. Livingston nodded.
"Jasper will bring them over to-morrow—provided he has found his horse by that time," she added with a half smile.
"Do we have to gather wood?" questioned Grace.
"Sometimes. We all have to do our parts in this community. The young women of the organization do the cooking and the sweeping for the entire camp. They are divided into squads. All this is arranged by themselves. Those who are doing the work for the day are called the Workers. You will have to be up and ready for your duties by six o'clock in the morning when you are Workers."
"Oh, my goodneth, I couldn't do that," exclaimed Grace.
"Each girl must do her part. The rules of the camp will be explained to you to-morrow. But I am quite sure the Meadow-Brook Girls will make a delightful addition to Camp Wau-Wau."
"We shall do our best, Mrs. Livingston," Harriet assured her with eyes fixed on the face of the Chief Guardian.
"I am sure that you will," was the reply. "Miss Burrell, you and Miss Thompson will occupy cots in the tent I showed to you as we passed along. Your tentmates will be Patricia Scott and Cora Kidder. We are obliged to place four girls in a tent now when we have so many of them with us, later on two girls may arrange to occupy one tent if they desire to do so, though the request is seldom made. Breakfast will begin at seven o'clock. We like to have all our girls on hand promptly at that hour. Miss Brown and Miss Holland will be your tentmates for the present, Miss Elting. I think as soon as possible I shall place the Meadow-Brook Girls in one tent. Would that please you?"
"Yes, indeed," cried the girls.
"Yeth, thank you. We're a clothe corporation, ath my father would thay."
"Grace's father is a lawyer," explained Miss Elting with a smile.
"I observe that she exhibits quite a legal trend of mind," laughed the Chief Guardian. "Now if you have finished eating I will show you to your tents. Have you any other changes of clothes for to-morrow morning!"
Harriet said they had not. The Chief said she would try to borrow a skirt for Harriet. The other girls' clothes were in somewhat better condition, and would do, even though Sunday was a partial dress up day at Camp Wau-Wau.
Carrying her lantern Mrs. Livingston led the way first to the tent that Miss Elting and the two girls were to occupy. The other occupant of this tent did not wake up. Hers was a sound sleep, induced by hours full of activity and enjoyment in the fragrant woods.
When they entered the next tent, however, Harriet caught a glimpse of a pair of bright eyes peering at them from above the blankets. The eyes closed almost instantly and the sound of regular breathing came from that cot.
Harriet smiled to herself. She glanced quickly at Tommy who almost imperceptibly closed and opened one eye. Quick-witted, Tommy had not missed the little scene. Harriet wanted to laugh, but instead her face wore a grave expression as she listened to Mrs. Livingston explaining how they were expected to air their blankets out in the open in the morning, then after breakfast make their beds and care for their tents.
Each girl had a locker, this being nothing more than a series of hooks set into the lower ridge plate of the tent, and on which they were supposed to hang their clothes. A curtain covered this locker or clothes press. There was one washstand for each pair of girls. They provided their own towels. In the case of the Meadow-Brook Girls, their towel rack was empty, but each had a pair in the suit cases, together with other necessary toilet articles.
Miss Elting had been left to look after Margery and Hazel. Mrs. Livingston remained in the tent with Harriet and Tommy, until they had prepared for bed and finally tumbled into their cots. Then the Chief Guardian bade each of them good night.
"Pleasant dreams, my dears," she said, and left the tent taking the lantern with her, leaving the interior of the place in darkness. For a few moments the two girls lay quiet, then Harriet heard Tommy calling to her in a loud whisper.
"What is it!" asked Harriet.
"Afraid of what?"
"Everything. It ith tho thpooky in here. Thay, can't we lock the door?"
"There is no door to lock. Don't whisper so loudly. You will awaken the other girls," warned Harriet.
"May I come over in your bed?"
"Indeed you may not. Tommy, do go to sleep. I can hardly keep my eyes open."
Silence reigned in the tent for several minutes, then Tommy began another plaintive whisper.
"Oh, Tommy, please," begged Harriet. "What is the trouble?"
"There is nothing to fear. What are you afraid of?"
"There are no bears in this part of the country. I'm ashamed to see you such a coward."
"You can't thee me at all. It ith too dark," retorted Grace. "What ith that? Thomebody whithpered."
Harriet Burrell did not answer, for she was sound asleep by this time. Tommy lay there staring into the darkness until her eyelids grew heavy. They drooped and drooped, finally closing over her eyes altogether. But she had no more than dropped into a doze when she came to a sitting posture wide awake. Something had disturbed her. Something was moving in the tent and she could almost feel it.
Tommy's eyes grew wide with terror.
"Harriet!" she whispered. "Harriet!" This time the whisper was a little louder, but there was no answer to the appeal. Then a most terrifying thing occurred. A low, deep growl sounded right at the head of Tommy's cot. With a wild cry the terrified little girl landed in the middle of the floor.
TOMMY HAS A NIGHTMARE
Harriet rousing herself from a sound sleep, did not know where she was for the moment. Tommy's cries of alarm however, soon brought Harriet to a realization of her surroundings. The girl bounded from her bed.
"Tommy, oh, Tommy! What is it?"
Tommy fairly flew to what she supposed was the cot of her companion and threw herself full force upon it. She fell upon a soft body.
"Get off! Get into your own bed. What do you mean by jumping on me?" demanded an angry voice that Grace even in her great fright, knew at once did not belong to her companion. "Get out of here!" The words were accompanied by a violent push. Tommy Thompson was thrown from the cot to the floor, on which she landed heavily.
"Thave me!" she screamed. "Oh, thave me!"
"You get in here again and I will call the guardian," declared the girl into whose cot Tommy had thrown herself.
"I heard thomething growl," shivered Tommy.
"It is the supper you ate," suggested Harriet "I don't wonder you heard growls. You ate more than any of the rest of us."
"She's haunted," suggested the girl on the cot. Then suddenly she whispered: "Sh-h-h-h!"
A guardian came hurrying into the tent, holding a lantern above her head. Neither Harriet nor Tommy had seen her before. Tommy sat in the middle of the floor the picture of woe. Harriet stood near by with a look of deep concern in her eyes.
"Young ladies, I am amazed," exclaimed the guardian. "Miss Kidder, what is the meaning of this?"
"I don't know. Patricia had some difficulty with one of these girls," was the reply.
"She jumped on me," answered Patricia. "I don't know what for, but she knocked the breath right out of me."
"You are the new girls, are you not?" asked the guardian, turning abruptly to Harriet and Grace.
"Yes, we are the Meadow-Brook Girls," answered Harriet.
"What appears to be the trouble?"
"Something startled my friend. What was it, Grace, dear?"
"Thome—thomething growled perfectly awful. It wath right by the head of my bed. It thounded like a wild animal," explained Grace wide-eyed. "Yeth, and I could hear it'th teeth thnap. It wath going to bite me."
"Nonsense, child. You were dreaming. Did you have a late supper?"
"We ate supper, after midnight," explained Harriet.
"That accounts for it. Get back into bed, at once, girls. I am Miss Partridge, your guardian."
"I am Harriet Burrell. This is Grace Thompson," introduced Harriet, as she slipped back into her cot.
"Now that I understand I shall not be alarmed again," said the guardian. "I trust you will be quiet, Miss Thompson. Remember you are disturbing others when you permit yourself to raise your voice."
"Yeth'm," answered Tommy. The guardian tucked her into bed, then left the tent.
"Don't you dare to jump on me again," warned Cora in a low voice.
"She didn't mean to," answered Harriet. "I am sure Grace is sorry that she disturbed you."
"Yeth. Beg your pardon," said Grace. "But what wath it that growled at me?"
"I tell you, you're haunted," answered Cora. Tommy snuggled down trembling. She had begun to believe that she was haunted. After this interruption the girls slept soundly until late in the night, when all those in that part of the camp were again aroused by a series of piercing screams and cries for help. The cries sounded from the tent occupied by Harriet and Tommy. Not only Miss Partridge, but the Chief Guardian came running to the scene.
The interior of the tent was in an uproar, but as the guardians neared the scene they were alarmed to discover that the cries came from without rather than from within the tent.
Then a further startling discovery was made. A little white clad figure crouched on the ground a few feet outside the entrance to the tent She was screaming with terror. Beside her was Harriet Burrell, shaking the screaming Tommy.
"Stop it! Stop it!" commanded Harriet.
"Yes, please do. You will have the camp in an uproar," commanded Mrs. Livingston. "Come inside at once. Miss Burrell, will you kindly assist your friend in? Miss Partridge tells me this young woman raised a disturbance once before this evening. I fear the late supper was too much for her. Now, my dear," added the Chief Guardian kindly. "Tell me all about it."
Tommy sat terror-stricken on the edge of her cot. Patricia Scott and Cora Kidder likewise were sitting on the edges of their cots. They did not appear to be frightened. They looked bored and disgusted.
"It wath the motht terrible thing," breathed Grace.
"You must have been dreaming. But tell me, what you think you saw," urged Mrs. Livingston.
"I didn't think I thaw it. I did thee it," declared Tommy firmly.
"You were dreaming, Tommy. You know you were," said Harriet, but Tommy shook her head with emphasis.
"It wath a big pink elephant. I thaw him. He walked right in at that door. Then—then—then—he thtepped up on the cot and walked on me with hith feet. He wath jutht going to thtep on my face when I cried out."
"Nightmare," smiled Miss Partridge.
"It wath not," protested Grace. "Wait! When I cried out the pink elephant put hith trunk right around my neck. Look! You'll thee the mark of the trunk on my neck now."
"Nonsense! There is no mark there, dear," soothed Harriet.
"I gueth I know! It ith my neck. Then the pink elephant lifted me right up. He wath growling jutht like a bear all the time. Then he carried me right out doorth and dropped me on the ground. I heard thome thrange thingth too. I heard feet and wingth in the air. I thaw thome awful thingth, and——"
"My dear, you have a wonderful imagination," declared Mrs. Livingston, laughing. "And what is more and worse still, you have eaten too heavily. I shall see to it that you do not indulge in any late repasts after this."
"Then pleathe tell me, how did I get out doorth?" demanded Tommy triumphantly. This was something of a poser. Harriet said Grace did not appear to be fully awake when she reached her little companion.
"What do you know about this?" questioned the guardian, turning to Patricia Scott.
"Nothing, whatever," replied Patricia.
"Neither do I," answered Cora Kidder. "I was awakened by a great uproar for the second time to-night. The noise at first sounded right here in the tent, then when I had sat up on my cot I discovered that it was outside. I hurried out thinking I might be needed. I found that young woman shaking the little one. That is all I know about it, Miss Partridge."
"I am sorry that you have been so disturbed," said Mrs. Livingston kindly. "I do not think Miss Thompson will have any further attacks of nightmare to-night. If she does, of course we shall have to remove her to some other tent where she will not disturb any one except possibly a guardian. Now get back to bed, girls."
The two guardians waited until quiet had once more been restored in the tent, then retired leaving the girls again in darkness. Tommy was still trembling, but the keen edge of her fright had worn away.
Harriet lay wide awake for some time. She heard faint whispers being exchanged between Patricia and Cora. Harriet recalled a swift look that passed between the two girls when Tommy was telling her exciting story.
"Those girls have had something to do with this," declared Harriet to herself. "But surely, they were not to blame for Tommy's having had the nightmare. Tommy had only herself to blame for that. Still, how did she get outside? That is what I should like to know. I think Miss Patricia Scott and Miss Cora Kidder could explain something of that if they were to tell the truth."
Having reached this conclusion, Harriet Burrell went to sleep and slept until morning without further interruption. She was awakened by the morning bell. Patricia and Cora had already dressed and gone out. Tommy was asleep, deaf to the jangling morning bell.
"Tommy, Tommy! Get up," called Harriet. Tommy muttered. Harriet went over and shook her until she was wide awake. "You have only fifteen minutes to dress, dear."
"I don't want to dreth. I want to thleep," objected Tommy. Harriet pulled her out of bed, causing Tommy to sit down heavily on the floor. Muttering and scolding, Grace dragged herself about wearily and began making her morning toilet. But she protested with every move she made. Just before the fifteen minute time allowance had expired, the two girls stepped out into a glorious forest morning. Great trees towered above them, the forest birds were raising their voices in a melodious chorus, fresh, pungent odors from spruce and hemlock trees filled the air and somewhere near at hand, a stream splashed and rippled musically.
"Glorious!" breathed Harriet. "Oh, isn't it wonderful, Grace, dear?"
Grace Thompson's eyes lighted up appreciatively, then they danced merrily. All at once, Grace raised her voice shrilly in the yell of the Meadow-Brook Girls:
"Rah, rah, rah, Rah, rah, rah! Meadow-Brook, Meadow-Brook, Thithboom ah!"
"Tommy, Tommy, you shouldn't have done that," rebuked Harriet.
Fully a dozen girls sprang from their tents attracted by the new cry; then they began laughing when they saw Harriet in her torn skirt and had gotten a good look at Tommy Thompson's impish face.
"Young ladies, do you know what day this is?" reminded one girl who seemed older than any of the others outside.
"Yeth. It ith the greatetht day I ever thaw and I'm going to yell thome more after I have my breakfatht," declared Tommy with an emphasis that left no doubt in their minds as to her intentions.
"No, my dear young woman, this is Sunday," answered the previous speaker. "You would do well not to forget it, unless you wish for a pleasant little interview with Mrs. Livingston."
"There! What did I tell you, Tommy?" exclaimed Harriet.
"I don't care. It ith grand and I've got to make a noithe. Why don't they thtop the birdth from making a noithe on Thunday, too?" retorted Grace as the two girls walked slowly toward the cook tent with the eyes of the camp upon them.
"Yes, she is a perfect fright," suddenly declared a voice that Harriet recognized as belonging to Patricia Scott. "I should not think Mrs. Livingston would permit her to parade about in that gown."
Harriet's face flushed, but she did not even turn her head. Tommy fortunately had not caught the words, for which Harriet was thankful. She knew that Tommy would have resented the remark and made a scene there and then. The two girls entered the cook tent with some forty other girls following on slowly behind them.
A DAY WITH AN EXCITING FINISH
The Camp Girls stood in groups waiting for introductions to the Meadow-Brook Girls which they knew were to come. Mrs. Livingston performed these introductions. As she did so, she explained the reason for the disheveled appearance of the Meadow-Brook Girls, calling attention to the pluck of Harriet Burrell in trying to stop the mad dash of the frightened horse, for which, Mrs. Livingston said, an honor mark already had been placed opposite her name. It was the true Camp Girl spirit, said the Chief Guardian and they were proud to welcome her to their ranks.
The Camp Girls had been comparatively cordial to the newcomers since their arrival. Now that they had heard of Harriet's pluck they were especially so. They pressed forward with greetings so warm and friendly that the Meadow-Brook Girls knew them to be sincere, and this made the four young women feel at home on the instant. Harriet's face was still flushed from Mrs. Livingston's praise and her eyelids were drooping modestly. Tommy, however, was in her element. She talked incessantly, and even had to be reminded that Mrs. Livingston was about to say grace. So absorbed did she become in her own chatter that she did not observe that the whole table was awaiting the conclusion of her talk for the more solemn duty of asking grace.
Harriet thought she had never gazed upon a more attractive scene. Flowers were arranged at intervals along each table. At each end of the tables sat the guardians, generally college girls who had volunteered their services for the summer. Then the rows of brown-faced, bright-eyed girls completed the picture. There was practically no restraint placed upon the girls. Most of the campers were well-bred young women who instinctively distinguished between brightness and boisterousness. There was plenty of gay laughter and bright repartee, in which the keen-witted college-girl guardians occasionally took part. These college girls were both an example and an inspiration to the younger girls of the camp. It was from one of these young women sitting near her that Harriet learned what "honors" meant in the camp. Every time a girl did something of merit she was awarded an honor, these being bestowed in the form of colored wooden beads.
In addition to this the girls were advanced in degrees. One day they might themselves become guardians. It was all very attractive. There were many duties for the girls to perform and many, many things to learn. Their days Harriet discovered, were not wholly devoted to amusement, but to learning woodcraft and other useful things.
"I am sure I shall never want to leave this wonderful place," cried Harriet enthusiastically when the meal came to a close and the guardian had bestowed an appreciative smile on her.
The work being cleared out of the way by the Workers, Mrs. Livingston read from the Bible out in the open, with the girls sitting on the ground with feet tucked under them. Over-head the birds sang sweetly, their voices heard even above those of the girls when all joined in the singing that followed the reading of the Scripture. Following this came a period of relaxation and visiting during which the Meadow-Brook Girls began to really get acquainted with their fellow campers.
The guardians, the four girls learned, had full charge of all forms of recreation, so that when the guardian of Harriet's division proposed a trip out into the woods, it was a virtual command. The walk was a saunter among the trees, during which Miss Partridge gave them some lessons in woodcraft, especially on how to find one's way about in the woods. It was an extremely interesting talk to Harriet Burrell, though she already was familiar with a number of the things Miss Partridge told her. Every one of the girls who had been out on the tramp, returned with keen appetites for luncheon which was served at half past twelve. Dinner on Sunday was served at five o'clock, on other days it was served at six o'clock. At luncheon Mrs. Livingston addressed the girls on the work and duties of a Camp Girl. One part of her discourse gave Harriet a better idea of the purposes of the camp than she had before known.
"We are a self-governing body," said the Chief Guardian. "For the benefit of the newcomers among us I will say that our laws are not written laws. Young women soon recognize that if we are to have a happy, wholesome camp life, each girl must do her part well. The keynote of the whole summer's work is service. The girls must be thoughtful for one another. I cannot emphasize this too strongly.
"To be eligible to the second rank of your order a young woman must be able to fulfil requirements such as these: She must be able to prepare two meals without help or advice; must sleep with open windows or out of doors for at least one month; must refrain from candy and soda for at least one month; must know how to act when a person's clothing is on fire or when a person has fallen into deep water, as well as what to do in case of fainting.