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The Camp Fire Girls Do Their Bit by Hildegard G. Frey

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THE CAMP FIRE GIRLS DO THEIR BIT

OR, OVER THE TOP WITH THE WINNEBAGOS

By HILDEGARD G. FREY

AUTHOR OF The Camp Fire Girls Series

A. L. BURT COMPANY

Publishers New York

1919

THE CAMP FIRE GIRLS SERIES

A Series of Stories for Camp Fire Girls Endorsed by
the Officials of the Camp Fire Girls Organization

By HILDEGARD G. FREY

The Camp Fire Girls in the Maine Woods
or, The Winnebago's Go Camping

The Camp Fire Girls at School
or, The Wohelo Weavers

The Camp Fire Girls at Onoway House
or, The Magic Garden

The Camp Fire Girls Go Motoring
or, Along the Road That Leads the Way

The Camp Fire Girls Larks and Pranks
or, The House of the Open Door

The Camp Fire Girls on Ellen's Isle
or, the Trail of the Seven Cedars

The Camp Fire Girls on the Open Road
or, Glorify Work

The Camp Fire Girls Do Their Bit
or, Over The Top With the Winnebago's

THE CAMP FIRE GIRLS DO THEIR BIT

CHAPTER I

A DREAM COMES TRUE

The long train, which for nearly an hour had been gliding smoothly
forward with a soothing, cradling motion of its heavy trucked Pullmans,
and a crooning, lullaby sound of its droning wheels, came to a jarring
stop at one of the mountain stations, and Lieutenant Allison wakened
with a start. The echo of the laugh that he had heard in his dream still
sounded in his ears, a tantalizing, compelling note, elusive as the
Pipes of Pan, luring as a will-o'-the-wisp. Above the bustle of
departing and incoming passengers, the confusion of the station and the
grinding of the wheels as the train started again that haunting peal of
laughter still rang in his ears, still held him in its thrall, calling
him back into the dream from which he had just awakened. Still heavy
with sleep and also somewhat light-headed--for he had been traveling
for two days and the strain was beginning to tell on him, although the
doctors had at last pronounced him able to make the journey home for a
month's furlough--he leaned his head against the cool green plush
back-rest and stared idly through half-closed eyelids down the long
vista of the Pullman aisle. Then his pulses gave a leap and the blood
began to pound in his ears and he thought he was back in the base
hospital again and the fever was playing tricks on him. For down in the
shadowy end of the aisle there moved a figure which his sleep-heavy eyes
recognized as the Maiden, the one who had flitted through his weeks of
delirium, luring him, beckoning him, calling him, eluding him, vanishing
from his touch with a peal of silvery laughter that echoed in his ears
with a haunting sweetness long after she and the fever had fled away
together in the night, not to return. And now, weeks afterward, here she
stood, in the shadowy end of a Pullman aisle, watching him from afar,
just as she had stood watching in those other days when he and the fever
were wrestling in mortal combat.

He had known her years before he had the fever. Somewhere in his dreamy,
imaginative boyhood he had read the Song of Hiawatha, and his glowing
fancy had immediately fastened upon the lines which described the Indian
girl, Minnehaha, Laughing Water, daughter of the old arrow-maker in the
land of the Dacotahs:

"With him dwelt his dark-eyed daughter,
Wayward as the Minnehaha,
With her moods of shade and sunshine,
Eyes that smiled and frowned alternate,
Feet as rapid as the river,
Tresses flowing like the water,
And as musical a laughter;
And he named her from the river,
From the waterfall he named her,
Minnehaha, Laughing Water."

The image thus conjured up remained in his mind, a tantalizing vision,
until at last he found himself filled with a desire to find a maiden
like the storied daughter of the ancient arrow-maker in the land of the
Dacotahs, dark-eyed, slender as an arrow, sparkling like the sunlight on
the water, with laughter like the music of the Falls. Sometimes he saw
her in his dreams, and through the long weeks in the hospital at the
aviation camp when he had the fever she was with him constantly,
beckoning, calling, luring him back to life when he was about to slip
over the edge into the bottomless abyss, her laughter ringing in his
ears after she had vanished into the mists. Then one night she and the
fever had fled hand in hand and after that he could not recall her
image, though her memory still tantalized him.

Not until today, when the soothing motion of the long Pullman car and
the lullaby droning of the wheels had lulled him to sleep with his elbow
on the windowsill and his head resting on his thin, transparent hand,
did she come back to him in a dream. In that daytime nap he had suddenly
heard her laughter ring out and with flying footsteps followed the
sound, hoping to come upon her at every turn, but just when he was about
to overtake her the train stopped with a jerk and startled him back into
consciousness, with the echo of her laughter still ringing in his ears.

And now, when his pursuit had been vain and her luring laughter had died
away in his ears, she came back and stood in the shadowy end of the
aisle, watching him with large, luminous eyes, just as she used to come
and watch him wrestle with the fever. Breathless, he looked at her,
waiting for her to vanish, but she did not. Then it came to him that he
might go to her, might reach her this time before she fled. But
something lay on his shoulder, something that weighed him down and kept
him from moving, kept him from rising and going to her. He tried to
shake it off, but it remained. He tried again, keeping his eyes on her
all the time. Then the long vista of green plush seats leading to her
was blotted out and he found himself gazing into a dusky countenance,
while an unctuous voice murmured in his ear:

"How you feelin', Looten't? Gettin' light-headed, wasn't you? Here's
the milk you ordered for two o'clock. Just drink it now, Looten't, and
you'll feel all right."

Robert Allison mechanically reached out his hand for the glass of milk
which the solicitous porter held out to him and dutifully drank it,
while the porter hovered over him like an anxious hen, clucking out a
constant stream of encouraging remarks.

The porter and the glass finally disappeared down the aisle, and Robert
Allison, now wide awake and flooded with returning energy, remembered
with a whimsical smile the illusion that had overtaken him at midday. He
glanced boldly down the aisle to assure himself that his mind was now
free from phantoms. The heavy foliage along the mountainside, through
which they had been passing, and which had created a twilight atmosphere
in the car, had given way to wide open fields, and the long corridor was
flooded from end to end with glaring June sunlight. Robert Allison
caught his breath with a start and dug his thumb-nail into the palm of
his hand to make sure he was awake. For the illusion of a moment ago was
not an illusion at all; she was a flesh and blood girl; she had left her
shadowy foothold in the far end of the car and was coming down the aisle
toward him. Spellbound, he waited as she approached, slim as a fawn,
erect as an arrow, moving as lightly as the ripples that danced upon the
surface of the river along whose banks they were rolling. Whether or
not she was the image of the vision in his fever dream he would never be
table to tell, for already the dream phantom was fading from his mind
and the reality taking its place; the Laughing Water of his boyhood
fancy had come to life in the person of this slim young girl who was
moving down the aisle toward him.

Stupidly he had thought she was coming directly to him, and he
experienced a shock of surprise when she passed him with no more than a
casual glance. Even with her indifferent passing a thrill seemed to go
through him; his blood began to sing in his veins, and through his mind
there flashed again the lines which had stirred his boyhood fancy years
ago:

"She the moonlight, starlight, firelight,
She the sunshine of her people,
Minnehaha, Laughing Water!"

CHAPTER II

IN THE TRAIN

Sahwah the Sunfish came tripping blithely down the Pullman aisle to
rejoin the Winnebagos after a sojourn on the platform with the brakeman,
whom she left exhausted with answering questions. When Sahwah traveled
she traveled with all her might and there was nothing visible to the
naked eye that she did not notice, inquire about, and store up for
future reference. She observed down to the last nail wherein a Pullman
differed from a day coach; she found out why the man ran along beside
the train at the stations and hit the wheels with a hammer; why the cars
had double windows; what the semaphore signals indicated; why the
east-bound freight trains were so much more heavily loaded than the
west-bound; she noticed that there were no large steamboats running on
the Susquehanna, although it looked like a very large river; she counted
the number of times they crossed the river on the run through the
Alleghenies; she noticed the different varieties of trees that grew
along the mountain sides; she scrutinized every passenger in the car
and tried to guess who they were, what their business was and where they
were going. Sahwah's mind was like a photographic plate; everything she
looked at became imprinted there as upon a negative, accurate in every
detail. Like the Elephant's Child, Sahwah was full of 'satiable
curiosity, and her inquisitive trunk was always stretched out in a
quivering search for information.

The brakeman, an amiable personage, was interested in her thirst for
knowledge of railway affairs, and answered her innumerable questions in
patient detail until his head began to buzz and he began to feel as
though he were attached to a suction pump.

"Goodness gracious, child, what do you think I am, an encyclopedia?" he
exploded at last, and sought refuge in the impenetrable regions at the
forward end of the long train.

Sahwah, deprived of her source of information, turned to join her
traveling companions, Gladys and Hinpoha and Migwan, up in the other end
of the car. She stood for a moment at the water cooler, looking down the
car at the people facing her and indulging in her favorite pastime of
trying to read their faces. The car was crowded with all kinds of
people, from the stately, judicial-looking man who sat in front of the
Winnebagos to a negro couple on their honeymoon. There was a plentiful
sprinkling of soldiers throughout the car and one or two sailors.
Sahwah looked at them with eager interest and classified their different
branches of service by the color of the cord on their hats. One
Artillery, three Infantry, one Ambulance Corps and one Lieutenant of
Aviation, she checked off, after a long and careful scrutiny of the last
one, whose insignia puzzled her at first.

A porter brushed by her as she stood there with a glass of milk in his
hand. Sahwah watched the progress of the milk idly, and the porter
stopped beside the Lieutenant of Aviation with it. The lieutenant seemed
to be asleep, for the porter had to shake him before he became aware of
his existence. Just then Hinpoha caught Sahwah's eye and motioned her to
come back to her seat, and Sahwah went tripping down the aisle to join
her friends. She glanced casually at the young lieutenant as she passed
him; he was staring fixedly at her and she dropped her eyes quickly. A
little electric shock tingled through her as she met his eyes; he seemed
to be about to speak to her. "Probably mistook me for someone else and
thought he knew me," Sahwah thought to herself, and dismissed him from
her mind.

"Where have you been all this while?" asked Hinpoha with a perspiring
sigh, laboriously "knitting backward" across the length of the needle in
vicious pursuit of a stitch that should have been eliminated in the
process of decreasing for the heel turn.

"Pursuing knowledge," replied Sahwah merrily, settling herself in the
seat beside Hinpoha, facing Migwan and Gladys.

The four girls were on their way to spend the summer vacation with their
beloved Guardian, Nyoda, at her home in Oakwood, the little town in the
hills of eastern Pennsylvania where she had lived since her marriage to
Andrew Sheridan--"Sherry"--the summer before. Sherry was in France now
with the Engineers, and Nyoda, lonesome in the huge old house to which
she had fallen heir at the death of her last relative, old Uncle Jasper
Carver, had invited the Winnebagos to come and spend the summer with
her.

Vacation had begun inauspiciously for the Winnebagos. To their great
disappointment Katherine wrote that she was not coming east after all;
she was going to remain in Chicago with Miss Fairlee and help her with
her settlement work there. They had rejoiced so at the first news of her
coming and had so impatiently awaited the time of her arrival that the
disappointment when it came was much harder to bear than if they had
never looked forward to her coming. As Sahwah remarked, she had her
appetite all fixed for Katherine, and nothing else would satisfy her.
The news about Katherine had only been one of a series of
disappointments.

Hinpoha had been called home the week before college closed officially,
to attend the funeral of Dr. Hoffman, Aunt Phoebe's husband, whose
strenuous work for his "boys" in the military camp during the past year
had been too much for his already failing strength, and Aunt Phoebe,
worn out with the strain of the last months, had announced her intention
of closing the house and going to spend the summer with a girlhood
friend on the Maine coast. Hinpoha had the choice of going with her or
spending the summer with Aunt Grace, who had a fractured knee and was
confined to an invalid's chair.

Migwan had come home from college with over-strained eyes and a weak
chest and had been peremptorily forbidden to spend the vacation
devouring volumes of Indian history as she had planned, and had a lost,
aimless feeling in consequence.

Sahwah, thanks to the unceasing patriotic activities of Mrs. Osgood
Harper during the previous winter, found herself unexpectedly in
possession of a two months' vacation while her energetic employer
recuperated from her season's labors in a famous sanatorium. As Sahwah
had not expected a vacation and had made no plans, she found herself, as
she expressed it, "all dressed up and no place to go."

For Gladys's father, head over heels in the manufacture of munitions,
there would be no such glorious camping trip as there was the summer
before, and Mrs. Evans refused to go away and leave him, so Gladys had
the prospect of a summer in town, the first that she could recollect.

"I can't decide which I shall do," sighed Hinpoha plaintively to the
other three, who had foregathered in the library of the Bradford home
one afternoon at the beginning of the summer. "I know Aunt Phoebe would
rather be alone with Miss Shirley, because her cottage is small, and it
would be dreadfully dull for me besides; but Aunt Grace will be laid up
all summer and she has a fright of a parrot that squawks from morning
until night. Oh, dear, why can't things be as they were last year?"

Then had come Nyoda's letter:

DEAREST WINNEBAGOS:

Can't you take pity on me and relieve my loneliness? Here I am, in a
house that would make the ordinary hotel look like a bandbox, and since
Sherry has gone to France with the Engineers it's simply ghastly. For
various reasons I do not wish to leave the house, but I shall surely go
into a decline if I have to stay here alone. Can't you come and spend
your vacations with me, as many of you as have vacations? Please come
and amuse your lonesome old Guardian, whose house is bare and dark and
cold.

Sahwah tumbled out of her chair with a shout that startled poor Mr. Bob
from his slumbers at her feet and set him barking wildly with
excitement; Migwan and Gladys fell on each other's necks in silent
rapture, and Hinpoha began packing immediately. Just one week later they
boarded the train and started on their journey to Oakwood.

Sahwah sat and looked at the soldiers in the car with unconcealed envy.
Her ever-smouldering resentment against the fact that she was not a boy
had since the war kindled into red rage at the unkindness of fate. She
chafed under the restrictions with which her niche in the world hedged
her in.

"I wish I were a man!" she exclaimed impatiently. "Then I could go to
war and fight for my country and--and go over the top. The boys have all
the glory and excitement of war and the girls have nothing but the
stupid, commonplace things to do. It isn't fair!"

"But women _are_ doing glorious things in the war," Migwan interrupted
quickly. "They're going as nurses in the hospitals right at the front;
they're working in the canteens and doing lots of other things right in
the thick of the excitement."

"Oh, yes, _women_ are," replied Sahwah, "but _girls_ aren't. Long ago,
in the days before the war, I used to think if there ever _would_ be a
war the Camp Fire Girls would surely do something great and glorious,
but here we are, and the only thing we can do is knit, knit, knit, and
fold bandages, and the babies in the kindergarten are doing _that_.
We're too _young_ to do anything big and splendid. We're just
schoolgirls, and no one takes us seriously. We can't go as nurses
without three years' training--we can't do _anything_. There might as
well not _be_ any war, for all I'm doing to help it. Boys seventeen
years old can enlist, even sixteen-year-old ones, and go right to the
front, but a girl sixteen years old isn't any better off than if she
were sixteen months. I'm nearly nineteen, and I wanted to go as a
stenographer, but they wouldn't consider me for a minute. Said I was too
young." Sahwah threw out her hands in a tragic gesture and her brow
darkened.

"It's a shame," Hinpoha agreed sympathetically. "In books young girls
have no end of adventures in war time, girls no older than we; they
catch spies and outwit the enemy and save their lovers' lives and carry
important messages, but nothing like that will ever happen to us. All
we'll ever do is just stay at home peacefully and knit."

Hinpoha gave an impatient jerk and the knitting fell into her lap with a
protesting tinkle of needles, while the stitch which she was in the act
of transferring slipped off and darted merrily away on an excursion up
the length of the sock. Hinpoha threw up her hands in exasperation.

"That's the third time that's happened in an hour!" she exclaimed in a
vexed tone. "I hope the soldiers appreciate how much trouble it is to
keep their feet covered. I'd rather fight any day than knit," she
finished emphatically.

"Here, let me pick up the dropped stitches for you," said Migwan
soothingly, reaching over for the tangled mess of yarn. "You're getting
all tired and hot," she continued, skilfully pursuing the agile and
elusive dropped stitches down the grey woolen wake of the sock and
bringing them triumphantly up to resume their place in the sun.

"It takes me an age to get a pair of socks done for the Red Cross,"
Hinpoha grumbled on, "and they're as cross as two sticks if you drop a
single stitch! That woman down at headquarters made the biggest fuss
about the last pair I brought in, just because I'd slipped a stitch in
the wrong place--it hardly showed a bit--and because one sock was an
inch longer than the other. War isn't a bit like I thought it would
be," she sighed plaintively, with a vengeful poke at the knitting, which
Migwan had just restored to her.

Poor romantic Hinpoha, trying to sail her ship of rosy fancies on a sea
of stern reality, and finding it pretty hard sailing! Leaning back
against the green plush of the train seat, which set off like an
artist's background the burnished glory of her red curls, and dreaming
regretfully of the vanished days when chivalry rode on fiery steeds and
ladies fair led much more eventful lives than their emancipated
great-granddaughters, it never occurred to her--nor to the rest of the
Winnebagos either, for that matter--that romance might have become up to
date along with science and the fashions, and that in these modern days
of speed and efficiency High Adventure might purchase a ticket at the
station window and go faring forth in a Pullman car. So Hinpoha dreamed
dreams of the way she would like things to happen and built airy castles
around the Winnebagos as heroines; but little did she suspect that
another architect was also at work on those same castles, an architect
whose lines are drawn with an indelible pencil, and whose finished work
no man may reject.

Hinpoha did not resume her knitting again. She opened her hand bag and
drew forth her mirror, and propping it up against her knee, proceeded to
arrange the curls that had escaped from their imprisoning pins and were
riding around her ears. Then she put the mirror back and drew out a
bottle of hand lotion and examined the stopper. She slipped it in and
out several times and then idly dropped a few violet petals from the
bunch at her belt into the bottle, shaking it about to make them whirl,
and then holding it still to watch them settle.

"It looks as though you were telling fortunes," remarked Sahwah,
watching the petals alternately whirl and sink, "like tea leaves, you
know."

Hinpoha brightened at once and animation came back into her face. Better
than anything else under the sun, Hinpoha loved to tell fortunes.

"Do you want me to tell yours, Sahwah?" she asked eagerly.

Sahwah agreed amiably; she did not care two straws about
fortune-telling herself, but she knew Hinpoha's hobby and willingly
submitted to countless "readings" of her future, in various ways, by the
ardent amateur seeress.

Hinpoha shook the bottle energetically, and then watched intently as the
petals gradually ceased whirling and came to rest at the bottom of the
bottle.

"There is a stranger coming into your life," she began impressively,
"awfully thin, and light."

"Like the syrup we had on our pancakes in the station this morning,"
murmured Migwan.

Sahwah and Gladys giggled; Hinpoha frowned. "All right, if you're going
to laugh at me," she began.

"Go on, we'll be good," said Migwan hastily.

"Tell us some more about the light-haired stranger. Please tell us when
he is coming into her life, so we can be there to see."

"He has already come," announced Hinpoha, after thoughtfully squinting
into the bottle.

"News to me," laughed Sahwah, amused at the seriousness with which
Hinpoha delivered her revelations. "Oh, I know who it is," she
continued, giggling. "It's the brakeman. He was a Swede, with the
yellowest hair you ever saw. He was awfully skinny, too. He was very
polite, and told me everything he knew, and then went away to find out
some more."

Migwan and Gladys shouted; Hinpoha pouted and snatched up the bottle,
shaking it with offended vigor, setting the petals whirling madly and
breaking up the "cast" of Sahwah's fortune.

"There was another man, too," she announced, with a
don't-you-wish-you'd-waited air, "but I won't tell you about him now. He
was awfully queer, too; he was there twice, and once he was dark and
once he was light!"

"How do you know it was the same one?" inquired Gladys curiously.

"Because it _was_," replied Hinpoha knowingly.

"Maybe he faded," suggested Sahwah, giggling again.

"No, he didn't," replied Hinpoha mysteriously, "because he was light
_first_ and dark _afterward_!"

Hinpoha's voice rang out like an oracle, and the judicial-looking man in
the seat ahead of them turned around and surveyed the four with a smile
of amusement on his face.

"That man's laughing at us," said Sahwah, feeling terribly foolish.
"Quit telling fortunes, Hinpoha. It's all nonsense, anyhow."

"Maybe _you_ think it's nonsense," returned Hinpoha in an offended tone,
"but they do come true, lots of times. Do you remember, Gladys, the time
I told you you were going to get a letter from a distance, and you got
one from France the very next day?"

"Yes," replied Gladys, "and do you remember the time you predicted I
was going to flunk math at midyears and I took the prize?"

"And do you remember the light man that came into _your_ life, Hinpoha?"
said Sahwah slily.

Hinpoha turned fiery red at this reference to Professor Knoblock and
looked out of the window in confused silence. Sahwah realized that she
was figure-skating on thin ice when she mentioned that subject and
forebore to make any further remarks. A strained silence fell upon the
four. Migwan cast about in her mind for a topic of conversation that
would relieve the tension.

"Has anyone heard from Veronica lately?" she asked.

"I haven't heard from her for several months," replied Sahwah, "but I
suppose she's still in New York. She must be doing great things with her
music. She's given a concert already."

"It's queer about Veronica," continued Sahwah musingly. "Although she
wasn't with us so much I seem to miss her more and more as time goes on.
I often dream I hear her playing her violin." Sahwah's admiration for
Veronica had never waned, although Veronica had never had what Sahwah
described as a "real emotional case" on her.

"Veronica's an alien enemy now," said Gladys in an awed tone.

"Do you think she'll be _interred_?" asked Hinpoha anxiously.

Sahwah gave a little scream of laughter. "_In-terned,_ not _interred_,"
she corrected. "I hope Veronica isn't ready to be buried yet."

"Well, _interned_, then," answered Hinpoha, a little piqued at Sahwah's
raillery. "You don't need to call the attention of the whole car to the
fact that I made a little mistake. Did you see that officer over there
turn around and look when you laughed? He's looking yet, and he probably
heard what you said, and is laughing at me in his mind."

Sahwah involuntarily turned around and her eyes met those of the slim,
fair-haired youth in the uniform of a lieutenant of aviation, sitting
several seats beyond them on the other side of the car. For some
unaccountable reason she again felt suddenly shy and dropped her eyes,
while a little feeling of wonder stole over her at her own
embarrassment. Up until that moment, unexplained feelings had been
totally unknown in Sahwah's wholesome and vigorous young life. There had
been nothing bold or offensive about the stranger's glance, yet there
was a certain curious intentness about it that filled Sahwah with a
strange confusion, a vague stirring within her of something unfamiliar,
something unknown. Outwardly there was nothing remarkable about him,
nothing to distinguish him from the thousands of other lads in khaki
that were to be seen everywhere one went, erect, trim, lovably
conceited. Why, then, should the heart of Sahwah the Sunfish suddenly
flutter at this casual meeting of the eyes with the man across the way,
and why did she turn sharply around and look out of the window?

Then a curious thing happened. The sunlight, which was so bright it was
making the others squint and draw the curtains, suddenly seemed to
Sahwah to be darkened, while a nameless fear stole into her heart and
oppressed her with a sense of lurking danger, of hovering calamity. Only
for a minute it lasted, and then she was herself again and the sunshine
struck into her eyes with intolerable splendor.

She shook herself slightly and turned her attention to Hinpoha, who was
speaking.

"Wouldn't it be dreadful if Veronica were to be interned?" Hinpoha was
saying.

"Veronica won't be interned," said Sahwah with an air of authority.
"It's only the Germans who are being watched so carefully, and have to
register with the police, and all that. Veronica isn't a German citizen,
she's a Hungarian. She will be perfectly safe. Her uncle is an American
citizen and is very patriotic; he was on the last Liberty Loan
committee."

"I wonder how she feels about things?" said Gladys musingly. "Her father
was in the Austrian army, you remember, and died fighting, and her
mother died when their town was taken by the Russians, and Veronica just
barely escaped with her own life. Their home was burned and they lost
everything they had. Veronica would be very wealthy if it hadn't been
for the war. It would be only natural for her to feel bitter toward the
side that had brought suffering to her family."

"But that was in the early days of the war, before so many things had
happened," said Sahwah, "and before Veronica had ever seen America.
She's crazy about America. She certainly wouldn't feel bitter toward the
Americans because the Russians burned their town and killed her father,
would she?"

"Poor Veronica," said Gladys softly. "She's in a hard position and I
don't envy her. I love her dearly, even if her country _is_ our enemy."

"Shucks!" exclaimed Sahwah. "Veronica isn't to blame because her country
is at war. _She_ isn't our enemy. Anyway," she added, "I don't believe
that the Hungarians are as bad as the Germans. They aren't spies like
the Germans are. Why, lots of Hungarians are fighting right in our own
army! Probably if Veronica's father had come to America years ago he
would be doing the same thing now. Anyway, Veronica's here now, and
she's glad she _is_ here, and I don't think it's right to treat her
coldly just because she's an 'alien enemy.'"

"Maybe she's still loyal to her own country, though," said Hinpoha,
"and if the chance ever came to help Hungary's cause she'd feel in duty,
bound to do it. She has such intense feelings about things, you know.
She'd be quite willing to die for any cause she believed in."

"Shucks!" said Sahwah again. "Your romantic notions make me tired
sometimes, Hinpoha. Veronica's not going to die for Hungary's cause, and
she isn't likely to die for any other cause either, any more than we
are."

"But we'd be _willing_ to die for America's cause, wouldn't we?"
demanded Hinpoha, with rising excitement.

"We certainly would!" replied Sahwah, with a fine flash from her brown
eyes.

"Well, if we'd be perfectly willing to die for _our_ country's cause,
why wouldn't Veronica be willing to die for _hers_?" demanded Hinpoha
triumphantly.

"What I meant mostly," said Sahwah, skillfully diverting a discussion
that was becoming decidedly heated, "was that none of us are likely to
get a chance to die for our country, and neither is Veronica going to
get a chance to die for hers, or do anything else for it, even if she
were willing to. She's just a schoolgirl like ourselves and nobody would
think of asking her to do anything."

"That's the trouble," sighed Hinpoha discontentedly. "We're just girls,
and the only thing we'll ever get to do is just knit, knit, knit, and
there's no glory in that. That's the only 'bit' we'll ever be able to
do."

The other three echoed her sigh and reflected sadly upon their
circumscribed sphere, and Sahwah's dream of being another Joan of Arc
flickered out into darkness. Then she brightened again as her thoughts
took a new turn.

"Well, there's one thing we have to be thankful for," she said
feelingly. "If we can't help to make history, we won't have to learn it,
either. We're past the history part of school. But just think what the
pupils will have to learn in the years to come--and the names of all
those battles that are being fought every day now, and the
unpronounceable names of all those cities in Europe, and all the
different generals. It was hard enough to keep the Civil War generals
straight, and there were only _two_ sets of them--think of having to
remember all the American and English and French and Italian and Russian
ones, to say nothing of the German! Why, it will be such a chore to
study history that the pupils won't have time to study anything else!
People always look at little babies and say how fortunate they are; when
they grow up the war will be over and everything lovely again, but I
always think, 'Poor things, wait until they have to study history!' How
lucky we are to be living through it instead of having to learn it out
of books!"

All the while Sahwah was talking, Hinpoha had been watching with
undisguised interest a man who sat in the seat directly across the aisle
from them, who, with an artist's sketching pad on his knee, was drawing
caricatures with a thick black pencil. Hinpoha, clever artist that she
was herself, took a lively interest in anyone else who could draw, and
from the glimpses she could get of the sketches being made across the
aisle, she recognized the peculiar genius of the artist. She attracted
the attention of the other three, and they too watched in wonder and
with ever-growing interest. The artist finally looked up, saw the four
eager pairs of eyes fastened on him, and nodding in a friendly way,
handed his sketch-book across the aisle.

"Would you like to see them?" he asked genially, his eye lingering on
Hinpoha's glory-crowned head with artistic appreciation.

He himself looked like the typical artist one sees in pictures. His hair
was long and wavy and his blond beard was trimmed in Van Dyke fashion.
Hinpoha nearly burst with admiration of him, and when he became aware of
her existence and offered to show his sketches she was in a flutter of
joy.

"Oh, may we?" she exclaimed delightedly, taking the book from his hand.

"Oh, lookee!" she squealed in rapture to the other girls. "Did you ever
see anything so quaint?"

The others looked and also exclaimed in wonder and delight. There were
pictures of trains running along on legs instead of wheels, of houses
and barns whose windows and doors were cunningly arranged to form
features, of buildings that sailed through the air with wings like
birds'; of drawbridges with one end sticking up in the air while an
enormously fat man sat on the other end; of ships walking along on
stilts that reached clear to the bottom of the ocean!

"Oh, aren't they the most fascinating things you ever saw?" cried
Sahwah, enraptured.

Utterly absorbed, she did not see the lieutenant of aviation gather up
his things to leave the train at one of the way stations; was not aware
that he paused on his way out and looked at her for a long, irresolute
minute and then went hastily on.

The last page in the book of sketches had not been reached when the
train came to a stop right out in the hills, between stations.

"What's the matter?" everybody was soon asking.

Heads were popped out of windows and there was a general rush for the
platforms, as the sounds outside indicated excitement of some kind.

"Two freight trains collided on the bridge and broke it down," was the
word that passed from mouth to mouth. "The train will be delayed for
hours."

Dismayed at the long wait in store for them, the Winnebagos sat down in
their seats again, prepared to make the best of it, when the
judicial-looking gentleman who had been sitting in front of them came up
and said, "Pardon me, but I couldn't help overhearing you girls talking
about going to Oakwood. I am going to Oakwood myself--I live there--and
I know how we can get there without waiting hours and hours for this
train to go on. We are only about twenty miles from Oakwood now and
right near an interurban car line. We can go in on the electric car and
not lose much time. I will be glad to assist you in any way possible. My
name is Wing, Mr. Ira B. Wing."

"Not Agony and Oh-Pshaw's father!" exclaimed Hinpoha. "I knew they lived
in Oakwood, but----"

"The same," interrupted Mr. Wing, smiling broadly. "Are you acquainted
with my girls?"

"Are we?" returned Hinpoha. "Ask them who roomed next to them this last
year at Brownell! Do we know the Heavenly Twins! Isn't it perfectly
wonderful that you should turn out to be their father! We were having a
discussion a while ago as to whether you were a lawyer or a professor,
and Sahwah--excuse me, this is Miss Brewster, Mr. Wing, another one of
the Winnebagos, that the Twins don't know--yet--Sahwah insisted that you
were a lawyer and I insisted you were a professor, and now Sahwah was
right after all. You _are_ a lawyer, aren't you? I believe Agony said
you were."

"I am," replied Mr. Wing with a twinkle in his eye, "and I'm more than
delighted to meet you. Come along, and we'll see if we can't get to
Oakwood before dark."

Then the whimsical artist came up and addressed Mr. Wing. "Did I hear
you say you could get to Oakwood on the electric?" he inquired. "I'm
going there too. My name is Prince, Eugene Prince."

"Glad to meet you," replied Mr. Wing heartily. "Come along." He summoned
the porter to carry out the various suitcases.

Before long the little party were aboard the electric car, and reached
Oakwood almost as soon as they would have if the train had not been held
up. The electric car went by the railway station and the Winnebagos got
off, because Nyoda would be waiting for them there. Mr. Wing and the
artist went on to the center of the town.

CHAPTER III

CARVER HOUSE

Nyoda was waiting for them on the platform, looking just as she used to,
radiant, girlish, enthusiastic, bubbling over with fun. Not a shade of
sadness or anxiety in her face betrayed the loneliness in her heart and
her longing for the presence of the dear man she had sent forth in the
cause of liberty. In respect to sorrows, Nyoda's attitude toward the
world had always been, "Those which are yours are mine, but those which
are mine are my own."

Encircled by four pairs of Winnebago arms and with eager questions being
hurled at her from all sides, it seemed as if the old times had come
again indeed.

"Sahwah! Migwan! Hinpoha! Gladys!" she exclaimed joyfully, looking at
them with beaming eyes. "My own Winnebagos! But come, I'm dying to show
you my new playhouse," and she led the way across the station platform
to where her automobile stood waiting.

A swift spin along a quiet avenue bordered with immense old oaks that
stood like rows of soldiers at attention, and up quite a steep hill,
from which they could look back upon the houses and buildings clustering
in the valley, which was the heart of the town, and then they drew up
before a very old brick house which stood on the summit of the hill. It
had green blinds and a fanlight over the front door, and a brick walk
running from the front steps to the street, bordered on each side by a
box hedge in a prim, Ladies' Garden effect like one sees in the
illustrations of children's poems.

"Oh, Nyoda, how splendid!" cried Hinpoha, her artistic soul delighted
beyond measure at the hedge and the walk and the white door with its
quaint knocker.

"Wait until you see the inside," replied Nyoda, throwing open the door
with the pleased air of a child exhibiting a new and cherished toy.

Cries of admiration and delight filled the air as the Winnebagos
entered. The whole house was furnished just as it might have been in the
old Colonial days--braided rugs on the floor, candlesticks in glass
holders, slender-legged, spindle-backed chairs, quaint mahogany tables,
a huge spinning wheel before the fireplace, and, wonder of wonders!
between the two end windows of the stately parlor there stood a harp,
the late sunshine gleaming in a soft radiance from its gilded frame and
slender wires like the glory of a by-gone day. Hinpoha stood enraptured
before the instrument.

"I've always been wild to learn to play on a harp," she said, drawing
her fingers caressingly over the strings and awaking faint, throbbing
tones, too soft to be discords, that echoed through the room like the
ghost of a song played years ago, and trembled away until they seemed to
mingle with the golden light that flooded the room through the west
windows.

"If I had my choice of being any of the fabulous creatures in the
mythology book," said Hinpoha musingly, "I think I'd choose to be a
harpy."

"A what?" asked Nyoda quizzically.

"A harpy," repeated Hinpoha, touching the strings again. Then, looking
up and seeing the twinkle in Nyoda's eye, she added, "Weren't the
Harpies beautiful maidens that sat on the rocks and played harps and
lured the sailors to destruction with their ravishing songs? Oh, I say,
they were too," she finished feebly, amid a perfect shout of laughter
from the girls. "Well, what _were_ they, then? Horrible monsters? Oh,
what a shame! What a misleading thing the English language is, anyway!
You'd naturally expect a harpy to play on a harp. Anyway, you needn't
laugh, Sahwah. I remember once you said in class that a peptonoid was a
person with a lot of pep, so there!"

Sahwah joined gaily in the laugh that followed at her expense. "So I
did," she admitted unblushingly, "and what's more, I only discovered day
before yesterday that a trapezoid wasn't a trapeze performer!"

"Oh, Sahwah, you imp, you're making that up," said Gladys in a skeptical
tone.

"Nice child," said Nyoda, patting Sahwah approvingly, trying to turn the
laugh upon herself, on the principle that the hostess should always
break another cut glass tumbler when the guest breaks one."

"Oh dear," said Migwan regretfully, "why did you say that about Harpies,
Hinpoha, and make us laugh? I was just thinking how beautiful you
looked, leaning over that harp, just like that oil painting in the
gallery at home, and was getting into quite a poetical mood over it,
when you had to make us laugh and spoil it all. I declare, that was too
bad!"

"Serves you right for getting poetical about me," retorted Hinpoha.

"But Nyoda," said Gladys, whose eyes had been feasting on the details of
the house with every increasing wonder and pleasure, "how does it come
that you moved into this little town from Philadelphia, and how do you
happen to be living in this wonderful old house?"

"I inherited this place a few months after I was married," replied
Nyoda. "It is the old Carver House; built before the Revolution and kept
in the family ever since. My mother was a Carver--that's how I happened
to inherit it. She died years ago, without ever dreaming that the house
would come to me, for she was not a direct heir, being only a third
cousin. But the last of the direct line died out with old Uncle Jasper
Carver and that left me the only living blood relation. So this
beautiful house and everything in it came to me."

"Oh, Nyoda, I should think you would have died of joy!" said Hinpoha in
a rapt tone. "I know people who would give their eyebrows to own so much
old Colonial furniture."

"This house has seen proud days in its time," went on Nyoda. "The
Carvers were staunch patriots, and many a meeting of loyal citizens was
held around that table in the dining room. They say that Benjamin
Franklin was once a guest here. The history of the Carver family was
Uncle Jasper's pet hobby, and he has it all printed up in books which
you may see in the library.

"The Carvers have always been a fighting family," she continued, with a
flash of pride in her black eyes. "They fought in the Revolution, in the
Civil War, and in the Spanish-American War. But now that the country is
again calling men to her aid," she finished with a sigh, "there are no
more Carver men to answer the call. I am the last of the Carvers, and I
am only a woman."

"But you've done all that you _could_ do," said Migwan staunchly.
"You've sent your husband."

Nyoda drew herself up unconsciously as her eyes sought the picture of
Sherry on the mantelpiece with the silk flag draped over it.

"Yes," she echoed softly, "the last of the Carvers has done her bit."

A dinner bell clanged through the house and Nyoda sprang up with a
start. "Dinner will be ready in fifteen minutes, girls," she exclaimed.
"Scurry upstairs and remove the stains of travel while I consult the
cook."

"Why, Nyoda," said Sahwah in surprise, "I didn't know you had a cook.
You told us coming up from the station that you did all your own work
because you didn't think it was patriotic to hire servants at this time
and take them away from the more essential industries!"

Nyoda looked nonplussed for a moment and then she laughed heartily.
"Special occasion," she remarked ceremoniously, and disappeared with a
chuckle through a door at the end of the hall.

The four girls went leisurely up the broad staircase with its white
spindles and polished mahogany rail to the rooms overhead, furnished
with huge curtained four-posters and fascinating chests of drawers with
cut-glass knobs.

In fifteen minutes the bell sent its summons through the house again and
the Winnebagos responded with alacrity. Nyoda stood in the dining-room
doorway to receive them, looking rather mysterious, they thought, and
Sahwah's sharp eyes counted a sixth place laid at the table. Nyoda
seated them, apparently not noticing the empty place, and then tinkled
the little bell that stood on the table at her place. In answer to her
tinkle the pantry door opened and in came the cook carrying a tray of
dishes. The Winnebagos looked up idly as she came in and the next moment
the ancestral Chippendale chairs of the Carver family were shoved back
unceremoniously as their occupants joined in a mad scramble to see who
could reach the cook first, while Nyoda looked on and laughed gleefully.

"Veronica! Veronica Lehar!" cried the Winnebagos in wonder and ecstasy.
"_You_ here!" "How perfectly gorgeous!" "How did you happen to come?"

"By urgent invitation, sweet lambs," replied Nyoda, "just like some
other people I could name. She blazed the trail for the Winnebagos by
arriving yesterday."

"Oh, you naughty, bad 'Bagos," said Migwan, embracing both Veronica and
Nyoda in her delight, "to frame up such a surprise for us! We standing
there cool as cucumbers in the front room of the house talking for half
an hour and Veronica out in the kitchen all the while, masquerading as
cook!"

"You pretty nearly upset the surprise, though, Mistress Sahwah," said
Nyoda, "with your suspicions in regard to my having a cook. It's next to
impossible to take you in, you eagle-eyed Indian! Come, Veronica, roll
down your sleeves and take your rightful place at the table. Now, girls,

"While we're here let's give a cheer
And sing to Wohelo!"

And then let's dip our wheatless crusts into our meatless broth for the
eternal glory and prosperity of the Winnebagos!"

CHAPTER IV

VERONICA

Dinner over, the Winnebagos fell upon the dishes like a swarm of bees
and had them cleared up and washed in a twinkling. Then they gathered in
the long parlor where the harp stood, and to please them Nyoda turned
off the electric lights and lit the candles in their old-fashioned
holders. The little twinkling lights multiplied themselves in the
mirrors until it seemed as if there were myriads of them; grotesque
six-fold shadows danced on the walls as the girls moved about; the
gilded harp gleamed softly in the mellow light and an atmosphere of
by-gone days hovered over the room. It was an ideal moment for
confidences, for heart-to-heart talks, and they spoke of many things
which were sacred to one another, little intimate echoes of the days
when they first learned to work and play together.

"Don't you remember, Veronica," said Migwan, "when you became a
Winnebago you took the gull for your symbol, because it flew over the
ocean and you wanted to follow it home?"

A memory of that day came back to the girls, of Veronica's bitter
homesickness, and how desperately sorry they had been for her, and yet
how helpless they had felt before her aristocratic mien. There was a
great difference in her now, all the more noticeable because they had
not seen her for a year. She was thinner and her eyes were larger and
more pansylike than ever, but she was much more talkative and animated
than she used to be. Very little of the old superior bearing remained,
and the looks that she bent upon Nyoda were those of an humble and
adoring slave. Proof positive of the change that had taken place in her
was the prank she had played upon them that night in masquerading as the
cook--she who had once refused to help prepare one of the famous suppers
in the House of the Open Door, disdainfully remarking that cooking was
work for servants, not for ladies.

At Migwan's remark Veronica stirred restlessly and made an emphatic
gesture with her hand as she replied firmly, "That was all nonsense. I
gave up the gull as a symbol long ago. It had such a screaming, ugly cry
instead of a song. If I am to be one of the Song Friends I must have a
song bird for a symbol. I have changed to the red winged blackbird,
because that was the first American bird I learned to know by his song,
outside of the robin. His voice always sounded so gay and free, singing
over the open fields, that he seemed to be a symbol of the freedom and
happiness which one finds in America. When he sings 'O-ka-lee! O-ka-lee!
O-ka-lee!' I always think he is singing 'Liberty! Liberty! Liberty!'"

The four Winnebagos exchanged glances as Veronica uttered this
sentiment, recalling their discussion of her in the train.

"Would you like to go back to Hungary?" asked Hinpoha.

Veronica shook her head vehemently. "I would not go back to my old home
now if I could. I know now that I could never be happy there after
having tasted the freedom of America."

"But you were not one of the oppressed poor," said Hinpoha. "You
belonged to the upper class, didn't you?"

"It is true, we were not poor," answered Veronica, "we were not
oppressed like the peasants. We did the oppressing ourselves, and
because people in our station had done the same thing for hundreds of
years we never stopped to think that it was wrong. The people in the
village used to bow and scrape when they met us on the street, but how
much they really cared for us I'd hate to say. It wasn't the way people
greet each other in the streets here. Just imagine Sahwah, for instance,
going down the street and meeting Hinpoha and having to bow humbly and
wait until Hinpoha spoke to her first before she could say anything!"

The Winnebagos shrieked with laughter at the picture thus conjured up.

"Over here it seems too funny for anything," went on Veronica, "but
that's the sort of thing I've been used to all my life. Now I see how
ridiculous it all was and how wicked, and it seems almost like a
judgment that our estate was destroyed in the very first month of the
war and we had to suffer such great hardships. There was no bowing and
scraping to us in that flight into the mountains, I can tell you. It was
everyone for himself then, and we were all in the same boat." Veronica
closed her eyes for a moment and shuddered involuntarily as the horror
of that remembered flight overcame her; she threw it off with an effort
and presently proceeded in an entirely composed tone. The Winnebagos,
looking on with sympathetic understanding, marveled at her perfect poise
and great power of self-control.

"It may seem strange to you girls," went on Veronica, "you who are so
patriotic about this American land of yours, that I should talk this way
about the land of my birth, and maybe you will despise me. But since I
have been in America and have learned that people can live together in a
much sweeter, fairer, truer way than I ever dreamed of, I could never go
back to the old way. I want to become an American and never wish to
leave this country. I don't want to be called a Hungarian. I want to be
an American girl like the rest of you. Oh, I think you are the most
wonderful girls in the world!"

She paused to squeeze Sahwah's hand, which rested on the arm of her
chair.

"My uncle feels the same way about it as I do," continued Sahwah. "He
became an American citizen ten years ago and is much more proud of his
American citizenship than he ever was of his title."

"Did your uncle have a title?" asked Hinpoha breathlessly.

"It was a sort of courtesy title," answered Veronica, "because he was
the youngest son of the baron, my grandfather, but, of course, he
belonged in the family, which put him in the same class with the
nobility."

"Was your grandfather a baron?" asked Hinpoha incredulously.

Veronica nodded casually and went on talking about her uncle.

"My uncle ran away at the time he became of military age rather than go
into the army. All he cared for was music. Of course there was quite a
stir about it and he changed his name and took his grandmother's maiden
name, which was Lehar. He has now adopted that name legally in this
country, and is plain 'Mr. Lehar.'"

"Then isn't _your_ name Lehar either?" asked Hinpoha, while a rustle of
surprise went through the group.

"No," replied Veronica in a perfectly matter-of-fact voice, "I simply
assumed that name at his suggestion. You see, as long as I intended to
be an American, I wouldn't have any further use for _my_ title
either----"

"Oh-h-h-h!" exclaimed the Winnebagos in a long breath of astonishment.
"_Your_ title! Have you got one, too?"

Veronica looked around with a little look of wonder at the sensation she
had created. "I _did_ have," she corrected gently. "I haven't it any
more. I left it behind me in Hungary. I'm just plain Veronica Lehar
now."

She looked into the girls' faces with a half-questioning, half-pleading
expression as if fearful that this confession of her possession of a
title would raise a barrier between them.

"What was your title?" asked Hinpoha, leaning forward in her chair and
immensely impressed.

"My father was the Baron Szathmar-Vasarhely," replied Veronica. "I was
what would be called in English Lady Veronica Szathmar-Vasarhely."

"Lady--what?" asked Hinpoha in comical bewilderment.

Veronica laughed.

"Do you wonder why I changed my name when I came to America and took the
simple, sensible name of Lehar? Imagine going to school here under the
name of Veronica Szathmar-Vasarhely! You can just hear the teachers
pronouncing it, can't you? Why, I'd never have any friends at all,
because people would rather avoid me than attempt to introduce me to
anybody! Besides, it's extravagant to have such a name, it takes so much
ink to sign it! Lehar is ever so much more convenient. You can't tell
how light and airy I feel since I threw away that long name!"

"But Veronica, why didn't you tell us before about this?" asked Hinpoha.
"We never _dreamed_ your name had ever been anything else but Lehar!"

"Because I was afraid you wouldn't take me into your group and treat me
as one of yourselves," said Veronica simply. "I did so want to be an
American like the rest of you. I was afraid you might object to having a
title in your midst. But now you really love me and won't let it make
any difference?" she pleaded wistfully.

"Of course not, you goose," said Sahwah emphatically. "We love you for
yourself and it wouldn't make any difference to us if you had a title as
long as a kite tail! Now do you believe it?" and she bestowed a
convincing hug on Veronica that nearly took her breath away.

"But Veronica," said Nyoda, both amused and perplexed, "is it possible
to throw away a title like that? If you were born Lady Veronica
Szathmar-Vasarhely can you deliberately say you 'won't be it'? I
thought titles either had to be kept or formally transferred to someone
else. Until this is done you are still the rightful owner of the title
under the law of your country and no one else can claim it."

"They can't make me go back, can they?" cried Veronica, starting up in
alarm.

"Why, no," replied Nyoda reassuringly, "and I suppose if you want to
give up your claim to the title nobody will stop you. I was simply
amused at the way you announced that you had 'thrown away' your title
and proposed to have nothing further to do with it."

"I won't go back!" declared Veronica with kindling eyes, springing to
her feet and clenching her little fists. "I won't! I won't! I'm going to
be an American, so there! I won't be a baroness!" Her great black eyes
flashed lightnings at the girls, who looked at her in consternation.
Veronica, in a passion, was something to strike awe into the breast of
the beholder.

"There aren't any estates left, thank goodness!" she declared. "They
were all destroyed in the shelling of the town. For all they know over
there, I'm dead, too, killed along with dozens of others. How do they
know that I escaped on horseback to the Carpathian Mountains and with
other refugees traveled across Roumania to the Black Sea and finally
found friends who sent me to my uncle in America? Nobody will ever know
where all the people of our village went to. Many of them perished in
the mountains, many are in other countries. How do they know but what I
perished, too? How will they ever know that I am here in America when I
go by the name of Lehar? Besides, who would ever take the trouble to
look for me when our estates have been swept away by the Russians? I
_will_ be an American!" she finished stormily, and stood looking
defiantly at the girls, her head thrown back, her breast heaving, her
whole body quivering with passion.

Hinpoha broke up the tension with her usual chatter. "Tell us about some
of the people you knew in Hungary, I mean important ones," she asked
curiously. Her romantic imagination saw Veronica hob-nobbing with
royalty and surrounded by splendors. "Did you ever see a real prince?"
she asked in a hushed tone.

"Lots of times," replied Veronica in a matter-of-fact way. "I have often
seen royalty riding through the streets in Budapest and Debreczin.
Everybody bows while the royal carriage is passing, but I don't believe
many people fall in love with princes at first sight! They're hardly
ever handsome, not at all like the princes in the fairy tales. They're
generally fat and stupid looking.

"I have met and talked to two princes, both occasions being when I had
played at a private musicale at the home of Countess Mariska Esterhazy
in Budapest, where I studied in the Conservatory."

There was a curious silence among the Winnebagos at these words, which
fell so lightly, so conversationally from Veronica's lips. It suddenly
seemed to them that although they had known her two years they really
did not know her at all! How carelessly she spoke of playing in the home
of a countess! And of meeting royalty!

"Did you really play before the king?" asked Hinpoha in an awestricken
whisper.

Veronica laughed, a jolly, chummy laugh that swept away their momentary
feeling of constraint and made her one of themselves again. "Gracious,
no!" she replied, highly amused. "I never could play well enough for
that! The Countess Mariska was quite a democratic person, and had a
great many pupils from the Conservatory as her proteges. Anybody who
could play at all stood a good chance of playing at one of her
musicales; you didn't need to be a genius at all."

Sahwah's eyes narrowed ever so slightly. Although she could play no
musical instrument herself and knew less about music than any of the
others, she realized, probably better than all the rest, the quality of
Veronica's performance on the violin. Sahwah had a mysterious inner
perception which made her sense things without knowing why or how. So
she knew, although Veronica modestly laid no claim to distinction, that
she must have won fame and favor by her playing to a much greater extent
than she had ever divulged.

"Tell us about the princes you met," said Hinpoha eagerly, and the
Winnebagos leaned forward in an expectant circle.

Veronica's eyes danced as though at some amusing recollection.

"The first prince I ever met," she began, dropping down on the floor
beside the spinning wheel in the corner and leaning her head against it,
"was Prince Ferdinand of Negol, which is one of the small Eastern
provinces of Hungary. He was an old man, seventy years of age, and he
had both the gout and the asthma. He sat with one foot on a cushion on a
footstool and when it hurt him he made the awfullest faces. Not a bit
like a story book prince, Hinpoha. He was at the Countess Mariska's one
afternoon when I played and when I was through he requested that I be
presented to him."

"Oh-h-h-h-h!" exclaimed Hinpoha under her breath in a thrilled tone.

"The Countess presented me," went on Veronica, "and the prince conversed
with me for a few minutes in a wheezy voice. He didn't say anything
wonderful, just remarked that I was a good child and had played well and
should make the most of my opportunities, and so on. Then his foot gave
him a twinge and he made a dreadful face, and the Countess took me by
the arm and marched me away."

Veronica laughed at the recollection, and the Winnebagos laughed, too,
at the picture of the gouty old prince wheezing out paternal advice to
the lively Veronica.

"Go on, tell us about the other one," said Hinpoha, plainly disappointed
that royalty had turned out to be so ordinary.

"The other one was a German prince," said Veronica, and then laughingly
added, "I don't suppose you care to hear about _him_?"

"Oh, come on, tell us about him," coaxed the Winnebagos.

"He was Prince Karl Augustus of Hohenburg," replied Veronica. "He was
traveling in Hungary for his health, or rather, for his wife's, and he
came to one of the Countess's musicales. He wasn't an ideal prince,
either, although he was quite young. He was fat and red-faced and had
little beady eyes that made you nervous when he looked at you. After the
musicale was over Countess Mariska came to me in a great state of
satisfaction and informed me that the prince had enjoyed one piece that
I had played so much that he desired me to play it for his wife, who was
ill in the hotel. The Countess packed me into her carriage and drove
over to the hotel where the prince was staying informally, giving me
minute instructions all the way over as to my conduct while there. I
played for the princess, who was a thin, melancholy looking woman, and
she seemed to enjoy it and thanked me quite graciously. A day or two
afterward I received a package by messenger, and it was this little
finger ring, a present from the prince and princess. I didn't like the
prince, but the ring was very pretty and I have kept it, because the
princess probably picked it out and it gave her pleasure to do so. His
wife was a Hungarian."

She stretched out her hand to the Winnebagos, who crowded eagerly around
to examine the small but brilliantly glowing ruby set in a dainty gold
band. They had seen it hundreds of times before, but had never guessed
it was the gift of a prince. Truly, Veronica was full of surprises!

"It seems to me, Veronica," said Nyoda, "that you were quite an honored
little person in your country, and must have been greatly envied by your
friends. How does it come that you are willing to throw away the
precedence which you formerly enjoyed on account of your rank and
station to become a plain citizen of another country where you have to
carve out your place single handed? Don't you really ever have any
regrets over it?"

Veronica shook her head resolutely. "Not at all," she replied in a firm
voice. "After once living in America I could never long to go back to
the old life. Since I have become a Camp Fire Girl I have learned that
the true nobility is not of birth but of worth, and there should be no
other in any country. I promised, you know, when I became a Fire Maker,
to tend

'The fire that is called the love of man for man,'

and one cannot do that and live luxuriously on money that one has wrung
from the poor instead of earning honestly. No, thank you, I would rather
be a democratic American girl and call everyone friend! It's lots more
fun, even than being the protege of a countess! I'd rather be a Torch
Bearer than a princess!"

Veronica's eyes shone with sincerity and fervor, and the Winnebagos were
tremendously impressed.

"Of course you're going to be an American," said Sahwah, drawing
Veronica to her feet and encircling her with her arm, "and you're going
to be just as honored and distinguished here as you were over there,
because you're so wonderful that people can't help making a fuss over
you. You're going to become the most wonderful violinist in the country,
and people are going to go just wild over you!"

Sahwah would have poured out more brilliant prophecies, but she was cut
short by the sound of a great disturbance without. There was a violent
clatter on the brick walk outside, followed by a crashing thump, which
was accompanied by the sound of splintering wood.

The Winnebagos started and looked at each other apprehensively. Nyoda
sprang to her feet and ran for the door.

"The Kaiser is out!" she exclaimed, and seizing an umbrella from the
rack in the hall, she disappeared into outer darkness.

CHAPTER V

ENTER THE KAISER

The Winnebagos streamed out after her, and in the moonlight they could
see her running around the side of the house, brandishing the umbrella
at a large white goat which was prancing before her on his hind legs.
Sahwah picked up a good-sized stone from the driveway and rushed to
Nyoda's side, ready to hurl it at the creature, under the impression
that Nyoda was on the verge of being killed, but at that instant Nyoda
suddenly opened the umbrella and the rampant Capricorn dropped to all
fours and fled hastily in the direction of the stable.

Nyoda, flushed and laughing, returned to the girls, who were picking up
the broken pieces of the white wooden trellis which had supported the
rose vine over the front door. "Is there anything left?" she inquired,
ruefully regarding the heap of kindling wood to which the slender laths
had been reduced by the battering ram force of the Kaiser's onslaught.

"What was it?" asked Migwan, peering fearfully into the shadows behind
the house. Migwan had not caught a clear glimpse of the creature and
was still uncertain whether the house had been bombed or a wild elephant
had broken loose.

"That," announced Nyoda in a tone both humorous and tragic, and flinging
out her hands in a helpless gesture, "is Bill the Kaiser."

"What is he, a rhinocerous?" asked Migwan.

"Would that he were!" exclaimed Nyoda fervently. "A rhinocerous, a wild
rhinocerous, with an ivory toothpick on his nose, would be a simple
problem compared to Kaiser Bill. No, my dears, Kaiser Bill is a goat, a
William goat, with the disposition of a crab, the soul of a monkey and
the constitution of a battle tank. We named him Kaiser Bill for reasons
too numerous to mention. His diet is varied and fearful, and his motto,
like Lord Nelson's, is 'a little more grape.' He ate the whole grape
vine, roots, tendrils and all, and then he ate the grape arbor for good
measure. He has also consumed two hammocks, a tennis racket and the tar
paper roof of the auto shed. He is fond of launching offensives, and his
favorite method of warfare is a sudden attack from the rear. He is bomb
proof, bullet proof and gas proof, and the only thing in the universe he
is afraid of is an open umbrella. Not a few worthy members of this
stately community have gained the impression that I am not quite right
mentally, because I never go abroad in the street without an umbrella,
never knowing at what moment that goat is going to escape from the
confines of the stable yard, follow my trail, and come charging down
upon me.

"One day I was sure he was out, and was walking along the street
carrying my umbrella open, ready for instant emergency, when I met Mr.
Carrington, the frigid rector of St. John's, the church to which all the
leading families in Oakwood belong. It was a perfect day, not a cloud in
the sky, nor was the sun so hot that protection from it was necessary.
Mr. Carrington asked, 'Why the umbrella?' and I replied, 'Oh, I always
carry that, because I'm afraid I might meet the Kaiser!' Whereupon he
looked at me severely and walked off abruptly, and it didn't occur to me
until later that he didn't know who the Kaiser was, and how absolutely
idiotic my answer must have sounded."

"Oh, Nyoda, how screamingly funny!" cried the Winnebagos, laughing until
they cried.

"But why do you keep the goat if he is such a nuisance?" asked Gladys
wonderingly.

"I can't help myself," replied Nyoda with another tragic gesture. "I
inherited him along with the house, and like the crown jewels, while I
am to have full enjoyment of possession during lifetime, I can't dispose
of him."

"How queer!" said Sahwah. "I never heard of a will like that! What a
strange man your uncle must have been!"

"Oh, Uncle Jasper had nothing whatever to do with it," replied Nyoda.
"He never even mentioned the Kaiser in his will."

"Then why can't you get rid of him?" asked Sahwah, mystified.

"Because it would break old Hercules' heart," answered Nyoda. "Hercules
was Uncle Jasper's coachman all his life and grew old and white-haired
in his service. When Uncle Jasper died he provided in his will that
Hercules was to be retired on full wages and to continue living in the
room over the stable that had been his home for fifty years. Hercules
owned this goat, which he had brought up 'by hand,' and it was the
delight of his heart. He begged me with tears in his eyes to let him
keep it, so what could I do but give them both my blessing and submit
meekly to the outrages of the beast? My poor rose vine!" she finished
ruefully, looking at the torn twigs and branches which lay on the ground
in the ruins of the trellis.

Then she suddenly threw back her head and laughed loud and long. "I was
born under the sign of Capricornus, the Goat," she said, overcome with
amusement. "It's sheer fatality that I should be tied up to the Kaiser.
Who shall dispute the will of the gods?

"Come, Veronica, give us some music on the violin before we go to bed."

They returned to the long parlor where the mellow candle light shone
softly on the harp and on an old-fashioned picture which hung above it.
It was an oil painting, a portrait of a young girl in a short-waisted
white satin dress, clasping in her hands a red rose. The face was small
and vivacious, and the bright brown eyes seemed to look straight into
the eyes of the girls as they stood before the picture.

"Who is the girl in the picture, Nyoda?" asked Sahwah, whose eyes had
been drawn irresistibly to the portrait ever since she had been in the
room.

"That is the portrait of Elizabeth Carver," replied Nyoda. "She was the
daughter of Alexander Carver, the man who built this house. I was named
after her. That harp was hers, likewise the bed in which you are going
to sleep, Sahwah. She was a young girl at the time of the Revolution,
and her father and both her brothers fought in the war, as well as the
man she was to marry. There is a story about her in Uncle Jasper's
history of the Carver family, how she saved her lover from the Indians.
This valley was the scene of many skirmishes between the Colonial troops
and the Indians, who had taken sides with the British. He had come to
pay her a visit when his horse was shot under him by an Iroquois scout,
and, stunned by the fall, he lay motionless on the ground, when a whole
band of Iroquois, returning from the massacre of Wyoming, poured over
the hilltop directly above them. Elizabeth took one look at the
approaching Indians and then she lifted her Paul on to her own horse and
galloped away to safety with the whole pack whooping at her heels. That
is the tale of Elizabeth Carver, my namesake."

"Oh, Nyoda, how splendid!" cried Sahwah, with sparkling eyes. "Oh, dear,
why can't things like that happen now? Life in America is so tame and
uneventful, compared to what it used to be in the early days." And she
fell to musing discontentedly upon the vast advantage of frontier life
over her own humdrum, modern existence.

Then Veronica began to play on her violin, and Sahwah's discontented
thoughts took wing, and she went floating out on a magic sea of music,
and sat with closed eyes drinking in those wild, seraphic melodies that
flowed from Veronica's enchanted bow until it seemed as if it could be
no mere violin making that music, it was the Angel Israel, playing on
his own heart strings. As Sahwah sat and listened there suddenly came
over her a great feeling of sadness, and unrest, a sense of the vastness
and seriousness of life, and she felt desperately unhappy. She had never
felt so before. All her life she had been happy-go-lucky, and
scatterbrained, and life had stretched out before her as one vast
picnic, without a single solemn note in it. And now, while she listened
to Veronica's playing she was suddenly plunged into the depths of world
sorrow! She was so sad she didn't know what to do, tears gathered in
her eyes and stole down her cheeks; she didn't know what she was sad
about, but she was so sorrowful that her heart was breaking!

The sound of applause brought her to herself with a start. Veronica had
stopped playing, and the girls were expressing their enraptured
appreciation. Sahwah's sadness left her and she applauded wildly, then
sighed regretfully when Veronica put the violin back into its case and
announced it was time to go to bed.

After they had gone upstairs and were preparing to retire, Hinpoha
suddenly exclaimed in a dismayed tone: "My locket! It's gone!"

"Are you sure you didn't leave it at home?" asked Nyoda.

"I know I wore it," replied Hinpoha, "I remember having it on in the
train. My hair caught in _it_ and I had to take it off to get it loose.
Then I put it on again, and I never thought of it since."

"Was it the one your mother gave you, with her picture in?" asked
Migwan, sympathetically.

"No," replied Hinpoha. "It was the Roman gold one Aunt Phoebe gave me
for Christmas last year and I had Sahwah's picture in it, that little
head she had taken when she graduated."

Search was made through all of Hinpoha's belongings, in the hope that it
might have dropped into some of her numerous frills, but it could not
be found.

"I suppose I lost it in the scramble when we got out of the train,"
Hinpoha sighed regretfully, "and that's the end of it. Oh, dear, will I
ever learn not to be so careless with my things?" And thoroughly
impatient with herself, Hinpoha marched off to bed.

CHAPTER VI

A SURPRISE IN STORE FOR HILLSDALE

Sahwah stood in the long parlor under the portrait of Elizabeth Carver,
gazing, with an expression of great respect, mingled with envy, up into
the vivacious young face. The eyes in the picture gazed back just as
intently at her, with a deep humorous twinkle lurking in their depths,
and the red lips curving upwards at the corners in the promise of a
smile seemed just about to speak. To Sahwah it did not seem to be a
painting, a creation of oil on canvas, it was a real girl, Elizabeth
Carver herself. She smiled back into the eyes that smiled at her, like
two real girls who have just been introduced to each other and feel
instinctively at the moment of introduction that they are going to like
each other tremendously. Quite naturally, just as she would have done
with a flesh-and-blood person, Sahwah began talking aloud.

"That was a wonderfully brave thing you did, saving your lover's life
that way," she said admiringly. "I wish I had known you. I think we
would have been good friends. We would have had no end of fun swimming
together. Could you do Trudgeon, and Australian Crawl? Or couldn't you
swim? Girls didn't swim as much in your day as they do now, I believe.
It's because the side stroke wasn't invented then. But you could ride
horseback. I haven't done much of that, I never had a horse, but I know
I could ride if I had the chance. But I can paddle a canoe, standing on
the gunwales--could you do that?"

Sahwah paused anxiously, as if half fearing the accomplished Colonial
maid would also claim this, her most cherished attainment. But Elizabeth
gave no sign that she could rival Sahwah's prowess with the canoe, and
Sahwah, made affable by the knowledge of her own powers, went on
graciously, "You could play on the harp, though, and of course I can't,"
She laid her hand on the gilt frame of the harp that stood at her side,
and looked at its wires and pedals respectfully. She did not venture to
play upon it, as Hinpoha had done, somehow she didn't quite dare, with
Elizabeth there looking on.

"You must have looked beautiful playing on it," resumed Sahwah in soft,
musing tones. "No wonder the man named Paul fell in love with you. And
to think you saved his life! I wish _I_ could save a man's life. Oh,
wouldn't I have had the adventures, though, if I had lived in your
time!" Sahwah had unconsciously clasped her hands, and stood looking up
at Elizabeth with a world of envy and longing in her eyes.

Voices in the room behind her brought her back to the present. She
turned, and there was Hinpoha with two strange girls.

"Oh, Sahwah, are you alone?" said Hinpoha in surprise. "I thought some
of the rest were in here with you, I was sure I heard talking here when
I came in. I want you to meet Agony and Oh-Pshaw, whose father you have
already met. You remember my writing to you about the Heavenly Twins,
the Wings, the famous Flying Column of the class? I was just on my way
to hunt them up this morning when I met them on the street. They were
just on _their_ way to hunt _us_ up. Girls, this is our Sahwah, once
named Sarah Ann Brewster, but now only Sahwah the Sunfish."

Sahwah came forward, radiating smiles, to meet the twins about whom she
had heard so much, and grasped their hands with delighted cordiality.

"Agony and Oh-Pshaw!" she exclaimed. "What delicious names!"

"Oh, we have baptismal names among our goods and chattels, too," said
the twin whom Sahwah held by the right hand. "They are very good names,
too, in their way, even Alta and Agnes, but you're not to use them under
any circumstances. You're to call us Agony and Oh-Pshaw the same as
everybody does."

Sahwah started at the deep, rich tones of Agony's voice. People
invariably did when they heard it for the first time. It rolled and
reverberated like the lowest tones of a cathedral organ. Although
low-pitched and well-modulated, it had a peculiar penetrating quality,
which made it carry for a surprisingly long distance.

Gladys and Migwan, upstairs putting their room to rights, heard it and
came rushing down into the parlor to fling themselves upon the Twins
with loud cries of joy.

"Agony! It's been _years_ since I've seen you!"

"Gladys! I simply can't get used to going _to_ bed without shouting
good-night through the transom to you!"

"Hinpoha, my angel of light, come to my arms once more! Come sit on my
knee and tell me all your adventures since you went home from college!"

Just then Nyoda came into the room and raptures were interrupted by new
introductions.

"Twins!" said Nyoda delightedly. "And just alike, too! How am I going to
tell you apart?"

"Easy," said Agony brightly. "Oh-Pshaw's nose is a shade more classic
than mine, while I have a more angelic expression."

"Thank you for calling those little points to my attention," said Nyoda.
"Now that you mention it I see the difference clearly. I shall never
mistake one of you for the other."

Nyoda's clear-seeing eye had already noted a dozen points of difference
in the two girls. Both had very black hair and very blue eyes and very
red lips; both had deep, vibrant voices. But Agony was more vivid than
Oh-Pshaw in every way. Her hair was more brilliantly black; her eyes
more sparklingly blue; her lips more glowingly carmine. The greatest
point of difference was their voices. Oh-Pshaw spoke in deep, musical
chest tones, but in Agony's there was an added quality of resonance, a
_timbre_ unlike anything she had ever heard before. Nyoda had heard a
great many kinds of voices in her years in the classroom.

Also her eye detected other, subtler, differences. In Agony she read a
nature impulsive, enthusiastic, brilliant, confident, fascinating; also
hot-headed, strong-willed and impatient of restraint. In Oh-Pshaw she
saw a less all-conquering, a more plodding nature, slower to comprehend,
less ardent and with less power to influence. But if the eyes were not
so sparkling they were more thoughtful, and if the red lips were set in
a less bewitchingly mischievous curve there was something about their
lines that told more of patience and perseverance. All this Nyoda, who
was an expert judge of character, read in the faces of the two girls as
she watched them with interested and friendly scrutiny.

Veronica came in and Hinpoha immediately jumped up and drew her forward
with an air of great ceremony. "Girls," she said impressively, "meet
Lady Veronica Szathmar--er--Lehar. She's a real baroness," she added.

Agony and Oh-Pshaw looked first at each other in astonishment, and then
with eager interest at the slim, dark-eyed girl before them.

Veronica laughed and came forward simply, cordially acknowledging the
introduction. Then she turned to Hinpoha. "I thought you understood my
name was just Veronica Lehar," she said reproachfully.

"Of course," murmured Hinpoha, her mind on the tremendous impression her
casual mention of the sonorous title had apparently made on the Twins.
Then she launched into a full account of Veronica's history for their
benefit.

"You are a Hungarian, are you?" Agony asked Veronica, and Nyoda noticed
that she drew back and her tone had become somewhat frigid. Quickly, she
flung herself into the breach, and sending Veronica out to tell Hercules
that Kaiser Bill was in the geranium bed, she graphically described
Veronica's passionate outbreak of a few nights before and told of her
intense desire to be an American. The coldness died from Agony's
expressive face as she listened and when Veronica returned she treated
her with sincere cordiality. Nyoda, however, still felt disturbed about
Veronica. With the intense feeling of patriotism that people naturally
had they would be quite likely to look askance at Veronica when they
heard that she belonged to a baronial family of Hungary and her father
had been a Captain in an Austrian regiment.

"Veronica," she said seriously, "I don't know whether it's a wise thing
for you to tell people about yourself with such perfect frankness. It's
all right with us here, of course, because we understand your feelings,
but you know at such a time as this there are always people who are on
the lookout for sensations, and if it were generally known that you were
a Hungarian girl with a title some people might misunderstand, and it
might make you unhappy. I would avoid the subject of nationality as much
as possible, and not speak so freely about your father's having been in
the Austrian army."

Thus did Nyoda endeavor to shield Veronica from further coldness and
looks of suspicion such as she had seen displayed by Agony directly she
heard that Veronica was an alien enemy.

"I suppose it _would_ be better not to tell people about it," agreed
Veronica. "No one knows that my real name isn't Lehar, outside of my
uncle's family, and you," said Veronica lightly. "I've never told anyone
else about it."

"We haven't told anyone but Agony and Oh-Pshaw," said the Winnebagos,
and promised to keep the secret inviolate.

"May I ask you also to say nothing about it?" Nyoda asked the Twins.

"Certainly we'll keep it to ourselves," replied Agony readily. "I think
it's perfectly epic to have such a secret. We wouldn't divulge it for
worlds, would we, Oh-Pshaw?"

Agony chatted on gaily, entertainingly, flitting from subject to
subject, and the rest listened from sheer pleasure of hearing her rich
voice.

"I'm _so_ glad you Winnebagos have come to town," she exclaimed
jubilantly, bestowing a hug on Sahwah, who stood beside her, "you've
saved our lives!"

"How so?" asked Sahwah curiously.

"With your help we can do it," continued Agony.

"Do what?" asked Sahwah.

"Beat Hillsdale," replied Agony. "Hillsdale is the next largest town to
Oakwood in the county and they're trying their best to outdo us in every
way. They've done it, too, in most respects. Their prep school has
beaten our academy both in football and basketball for the last five
years; their city baseball team beat ours every time they played; they
got ahead of us in the number of men who enlisted in the army, and they
outdid us in the Liberty Loan. There's nothing but rivalry all through
everything. Oakwood is just wild to get ahead of Hillsdale in something.
Now there's going to be a great exhibition military drill for girls held
in Philadelphia the last week in August and each county is to send its
prize drill company. So far Hillsdale is the only town in our county who
has a company of girls drilling, and they're cocksure of getting to
Philadelphia to enter the big contest. Oakwood girls haven't got the
courage to get up a company. They say they'll only be beaten out by
Hillsdale anyway, so what's the use? But now that you're here it'll be
different. With you to start a company and carry it along we'll beat
Hillsdale and her old Girl Scouts to a frazzle, I know we can. I'm so
tired of hearing those Hillsdale Girl Scouts raved about. Everybody
thinks they're perfectly wonderful and their own personal opinion is
that there never was anything created quite as marvelous as they. Just
wait until we beat them out in the drill contest! You'll get up a
company of the girls here, won't you?" she pleaded eagerly. "I can get
somebody to drill us if you do."

"We will!" answered the Winnebagos enthusiastically, their sporting
blood immediately aroused. When did the Winnebagos ever let a challenge
of their supremacy go unanswered?

"Oh, goody!" cried Agony. "I knew you'd do it! Oh, poor Hillsdale! Poor,
poor Hillsdale!" Agony, jubilant, waved her parasol around her head
wildly. "Come to dinner Friday night," she said, "and we'll work out the
details. That is the last night father is to be home. There's another
guest coming, an artist who has just come to town. Father met him on
the train and is quite taken with him. What do you think of my father?"
she wound up.

"He's very grand looking, but jolly, too," said Sahwah.

"Lots of people are afraid of father," Agony chatted on. "He's Assistant
District Attorney in Philadelphia, you know. He is always gentle with
us, but he can be very stern with people when he wants to. They say that
prisoners always quail before him in the court room and that witnesses
dread to be cross-examined by him. He has a way of piercing people
through with his eyes that makes them lose their nerve and they always
confess. He's been merciless in his prosecution of slackers and draft
evaders and has made himself quite famous. There was an article about
him in one of the Sunday papers recently."

"_Oh!"_ murmured the Winnebagos, quite impressed.

The big grandfather clock on the stairs chimed eleven and the Twins
jumped up hastily. "We've got to go this minute!" exclaimed Agony.
"Grandmother is not at home this morning and I left a kettleful of peas
boiling on the stove. They're probably burned to cinders by this time!"

Evidently the fate of the peas did not weigh very heavily on Agony's
conscience, for she made her adieux leisurely, and paused frequently to
look about her admiringly.

This was the first time she had ever been inside of the historical old
Carver House, although she had seen it many times from the outside.
Uncle Jasper Carver had not been a man of sociable habits, and but few
of the townspeople ever came to see him. Agony and Oh-Pshaw had only
lived in Oakwood for the past four years, having been born in
Philadelphia and spending their early school days there. At the death of
their mother, four years before, they had come to live with their
grandmother in Oakwood.

The Carver house, viewed from the outside, had been a source of much
curiosity and speculation when the twins, in their rambles about Oakwood
in the long warm summer evenings, would walk past and stop to admire the
stately old mansion set in its old-fashioned garden, and many were the
schemes they talked over for gaining admittance and seeing it on the
inside.

And now, out of a clear sky, their beloved friends, the Winnebagos, were
in full possession of the house of their dreams, and here _they_ were,
free to enter as often as they chose! Dreams certainly had a delightful
way of coming true, if you only waited long enough!

CHAPTER VII

IN THE MOONLIGHT

The Wing home was an old-fashioned mansion also, and though not nearly
so old or so interesting as Carver House, being very modernly furnished,
it still had that unmistakable atmosphere of a house that has sheltered
one of the "first families" of a town for three generations. It was also
of brick, and covered almost entirely by a creeping vine; its wide
verandas were embowered in clematis and honeysuckle, its smooth, velvety
lawn was shaded by giant elms.

Agony's grandmother was a sprightly, up-to-date old lady, as witty and
wide awake as her son, and she fairly amazed the girls by her knowledge
of men and affairs and by her shrewd comments on present day happenings.
And she was just as much interested in the affairs of the Winnebagos as
she was in the affairs of state which interested Mr. Wing, laughed
heartily at the tales of their adventures and pranks and declared to
Nyoda that she envied her from the bottom of her heart because she was
their Guardian.

Mr. Wing too took a lively interest in the girls and drew them out in
conversation, listening respectfully to their remarks and often nodding
approval of their ideas.

Mr. Prince, the artist, was there too; he and Mr. Wing were like old
friends already. He had come to Oakwood to make a series of sketches of
the hills and the river for a certain outdoor-life magazine; he had
taken quarters in the drowsy hotel, where he found life very dull, and
he was very happy to have met Mr. Wing and the Winnebagos. He hoped they
would let him accompany them on some of their hikes through the woods.
The Winnebagos were charmed and agreed they had never met such a
delightful man. They couldn't agree as to whether he was young or old
and finally came to the decision that he was middle-aged, for to
eighteen anything above thirty is middle-aged. Eugene Prince was
thirty-five.

As the dinner progressed Nyoda noticed that Mr. Wing often looked long
and keenly at Veronica, and she wondered just what was in his mind.
Veronica's looks, her accent and her expressions set her conspicuously
apart from the other girls. She also noticed that Mr. Prince was
watching Veronica closely. Mr. Wing's curiosity concerning her was
plainly written on his face, and finally he asked, "You are not an
American, are you?"

"Indeed I am!" replied Veronica emphatically.

Mr. Wing looked surprised. "But you were not born in America?" he
amended.

"No," replied Veronica with a sigh. "I was born in Hungary. But," she
added brightly, "_I'm_ here _now_, and that's enough. My uncle is an
American citizen, and I'm going to be one when the war is over, but I'm
an American girl already. I won't be more of one when I'm a real citizen
than I am now."

Mr. Wing smiled at her ardor and remarked, "I wish everybody who came to
these shores from other countries was as anxious to be a real American
as you are."

Sahwah happened to be looking at Mr. Prince while Veronica was speaking
and it seemed to her that he smiled very skeptically at her words. "He
doesn't believe her!" said Sahwah hotly to herself and filled up with
angry resentment at him as he continued to watch Veronica narrowly.

The conversation passed on to other subjects and Nyoda breathed an
inward sigh of relief. It always made her uneasy when people began to
wonder about Veronica.

Agony was talking animatedly about the coming drill contest and Mr. Wing
was listening with smiling approval. "Good for you!" he exclaimed to the
Winnebagos. "So the honor of Oakwood is to be vindicated at last! Camp
Fire Girls to the rescue! Hurrah! I tell you, girls," he said
enthusiastically, "if you can put it over and beat Hillsdale I'll give
you each----" Here he paused and cast about in his mind for a suitable
reward for such a distinguished service--"I'll give you each--no, I'll
take you all on a trip to Washington, and personally conduct you into
all the places where you never could get in by yourselves!"

"Oh!" shrieked Agony and Oh-Pshaw simultaneously, and "Oh!" echoed the
Winnebagos in rapture.

"Sing a cheer to Mr. Wing!" cried Sahwah, and the others complied with a
vigor that made the dishes ring:

"You're the B-E-S-T, best,
Of all the R-E-S-T, rest,
Oh, I love you, I love you all the T-I-M-E, time!
If you'll be M-I-N-E, mine,
I'll be T-H-I-N-E, thine,
Oh, I love you, I love you all the T-I-M-E, time!"

Mr. Wing bowed in acknowledgment of the cheer and his smile showed how
much it had pleased him.

"Great time you'll have drilling, with those heels of yours," he said
teasingly. "I wish I could be there to see."

"Father!" exclaimed Agony reproachfully, "do you think for a minute we'd
do military drill with these shoes on?"

"But, Father," said Oh-Pshaw eagerly, "don't you really wish you _could_
be there to see? I wish you could stay home awhile and play with us as
you used to. Can't you? Do you _have_ to go back to Philadelphia?"

Mr. Wing looked a little wistful, but he answered chafingly, "Wouldn't
that be a great thing to do just now in the middle of one of the
greatest cases in my career?"

"Oh, tell us about it," cried Agony eagerly. Agony was perfectly well
aware of the fact that her father would never tell anything at home that
was not also given out to the newspapers, but she liked to hear him tell
that little in his own way.

"It's the Arnold Atterbury case,--you've read about it in the
newspapers--the man who has been organizing strikes in the big munition
plants," replied Mr. Wing. "We know he was only a tool in the hands of
some powerful German agency, but who or what it is we do not know. But
we mean to find out!" he added in a tone which gave a hint of the stern
determination of his character. "We will track down those enemy
influences like foxes to their holes!" His voice thundered out like the
voice of judgment.

"Amen to that!" exclaimed the artist fervently, and, seizing his water
glass from beside his plate, he sprang to his feet and raised it high in
the air.

"Let's have a toast!" he cried. "Drink success to our cause and defeat
to the enemy!"

The rest were on their feet in an instant, clinking Grandmother Wing's
etched tumblers across the table and drinking the toast with all their
hearts. That little incident put patriotic fervor into all of them and
the evening was filled with animated discussions and hearty singing of
war songs.

Migwan declared on the way home that Mr. Wing was the most charming man
she had ever met. Hinpoha thought the artist was even more charming and
hoped they would meet him often. Sahwah said nothing. She could not
forget that the artist had seemed to doubt Veronica's sincerity, and it
made her angry and she refused to acknowledge his fascinations. She
walked close beside Veronica and linked arms with her as she walked.

Sahwah's feelings toward Veronica were crystallizing daily into a deep
affection. In the old days she had not been moved by any great feeling
of affection for her; she pitied her along with the rest and enjoyed her
society after a fashion, but she stood not a little in awe of her
mercurial temperament and her aristocratic ways, and much preferred the
friendship of the simple, dispassionate Winnebagos. But now that she and
Veronica had met after a year's separation, Sahwah suddenly realized
that the dark-eyed, temperamental little Hungarian girl had an
irresistible fascination for her; that her heart had gone out to her
completely. Sahwah was by nature cool and unemotional, and not given to
those sudden flares of friendship with which so many girls are
constantly being consumed, which burn brilliantly for a short season and
them go out of their own accord; it usually took a long time to kindle a
friendship with her. Sahwah herself could not understand her sudden,
fierce, almost motherly love for Veronica. It had not been of gradual
growth like her other friendships; it had been born all in an instant
that first night of her arrival at Carver House, when Veronica had
played and through Sahwah's heart there had gone a strange thrill of
sadness, a yearning for something which she could not understand.

From that time on Sahwah could hardly bear to have Veronica out of her
sight; she wanted to be with her all day long; she was filled with a
desire to protect her, to mother her, to caress her, to make her great
dark eyes light with laughter, to go off alone with her, to discuss with
her in private confidences the momentous affairs of girlhood.

Sahwah's soul was being strangely stirred in many ways these last few
days. A queer restlessness had taken possession of her, totally foreign
to her old tranquil, composed state of mind. Unexplainedly she found
herself growing moody and dreamy; at times she had a curious feeling of
having just experienced something, but what it was she could not
remember; her mind went groping in its subconscious self for something
which constantly eluded it, her heart--

"Went crooning a low song it could not learn,
But wandered over it, as one who gropes
For a forgotten chord upon a lyre."

At times she was filled with a great sadness, a poignant world-sorrow;
at times with an indescribable exaltation, a longing to burst forth into
triumphant song and tell the whole world of her gladness. Without
knowing why or wherefore, she was vaguely conscious that in some way she
was different from what she was before she came to Carver House, and she
also knew that things would never be just as they were before. Somehow
or other the focus had changed, a corner had been turned.

Equally unexplainable was the way in which these strange moods, these
dim flashes, were subtly bound up with Veronica. It was Veronica that
seemed to inspire these feelings, and similarly, it was these feelings
that seemed to draw her to Veronica. Sahwah had never bothered her head
about Destiny, that strange power that moves us about at will, like
chessmen, and who, laying her hand upon us, makes our ways cross and
intertwine themselves to work out her purposes; she only knew that in
some way she was changing, and that her heart had gone out in a great
flood of affection for Veronica Lehar.

Her very dreams, too, were filled with this strange new unrest, and she
was continually wakeful at night--she who in former days fell asleep
the instant her head touched the pillow, and enjoyed eight hours'
dreamless slumber as regularly as clock-work.

It was the same again to-night. After several hours of fitful dreaming,
Sahwah wakened, and in her half-consciousness there lingered an
impression of eyes staring intently at her and a dream of being back in
the railway train on the way to Nyoda's. The spell of the dream left her
and she lay awake a long time, unaccountably happy, mysteriously sad,
and with no desire to sleep.

Through the wide open window the moon poured in the fullness of its late
glory and by and by Sahwah slipped from her bed and went over to the
window, and, leaning her arms on the sill, sat looking out on the magic
world. Below her the garden lay bathed in silver, with intense velvety
black shadows, with only the faintest sigh of a breeze stirring the
leaves. Far across in the valley she could see the roofs of the town
shining white in the moonlight, and they seemed to be part of a magic
city in which she now dwelt, far more real than the daytime town of
familiar things. For a long time she leaned out over the sill, rapt and
dreaming, unconscious of time, forgetful of the companions of her days,
intoxicated by the moonlight until her blood raced madly through her
veins and she was filled with an intense desire to go out and dance in
the garden and flit in and out among the trees like a moon sprite.

Then, without warning, the strange, whimsical mood passed, and Sahwah
was her old self again, the old alert, wide-awake self of former days,
staring with concentrated attention at a figure which was moving rapidly
through the garden. It had come from around the side of the house and
was going toward the stable. Fully wide awake, Sahwah leaned farther
over the sill and watched. The figure emerged from the great shadows of
the elm trees into the glaring moonlight. With a start of surprise
Sahwah saw that it was Veronica, fully dressed and with a cloak thrown

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