Part 2 out of 4
that grew up beside the path.
"What was that?" asked Agony curiously.
"Deadly amanita," replied Mary. "It's a toadstool--a poisonous one."
"How can you tell a poisonous toadstool from a harmless one?" asked
Agony. "They all look alike to me."
"A poisonous one has a ring around the stem, and it grows up out of a
'poison cup,'" explained Mary. "See, here are some more."
Agony drew back as Mary pointed out another clump of the pale spores,
innocent enough looking in their resemblance to the edible mushroom, but
base villians at heart; veritable Borgias of the woods.
"Aren't you afraid to touch it?" asked Agony, as Mary tilted over a
sickly looking head and indicated the identifying ring and the poison
"No danger," replied Mary. "They're only poisonous if you eat them."
"You know a great deal about the woods, don't you?" Agony said
"I ought to," replied Mary. "I've camped in the woods for five summers.
You can't help finding out a few things, you know, even if you're as
stupid as I."
"You're not stupid!" said Agony emphatically, glad of the opportunity to
pay a compliment. "I'm the stupid one about things like that. I never
could remember all those things you call woodcraft. I declare, I've
forgotten already whether it's the poisonous ones that have the rings,
or the other kind."
Mary laughed and stood unconcernedly while a small snake ran over her
foot. "It's a good thing Miss Peckham isn't here," she remarked. "Did
you ever see anything so funny as that coral snake business of hers?"
she added, laughing good naturedly. "Poor Miss Peckham won't be allowed
to forget that episode all summer. It's too bad she resents it so. She
could get no end of fun out of it if she could only see the funny side."
"Yes, it's too bad," agreed Agony. "The more she resents it the more the
girls will tease her about it."
"I'm sorry for her," continued Mary. "She's never had any experience
being a councilor and it's all new to her. She's never been teased
before. She'll soon see that it happens to everybody else, too, and then
she'll feel differently about it. Look at the way everybody makes fun of
Tiny Armstrong's blanket, and her red bathing suit, and her gaudy
stockings; but she never gets cross about it. Tiny's a wonder," she
added enthusiastically. "Did you see her demonstrating the Australian
Crawl yesterday in swimming hour? She has a stroke like the propeller of
a boat. I never saw anything so powerful."
"If Tiny ever assaulted anyone in earnest there wouldn't be anything
left of them," said Agony. "She's a regular Amazon. They ought to call
her Hypolita instead of Tiny."
"And yet, she's just as gentle as she is powerful," replied Mary. "She
wouldn't hurt a fly if she could help it. Neither would she do anything
mean to anybody, or show partiality in the swimming tests. She's
absolutely fair and square; that's why all the girls accept her
decisions without a complaint, even when they're disappointed. Everybody
says she is the best swimming teacher they've ever had here at camp.
Once they had an instructor who had a special liking for a certain girl
who couldn't manage to learn to swim, and because that girl was wild to
go in a canoe on one of the trips the instructor pretended that she had
given her an individual test on the afternoon before the trip, and told
Mrs. Grayson the girl had passed it. The girl was allowed to go in a
canoe and on the trip it upset and she was very nearly drowned before
the others realized that she could not swim. Tiny isn't like that," she
continued. "She would lose her best friend rather than tell a lie to get
her a favor that she didn't deserve. I hate cheats!" she burst out
vehemently, her fine eyes flashing. "If girls can't win honors fairly
they ought to go without them."
This random conversation upon one and another of the phases of camp
life, illustrating as it did Mary's rigid code of honor, was destined to
recur many times to Agony in the weeks that followed, with a poignant
force that etched every one of Mary's speeches ineradicably upon her
brain. Just now it was nothing more to her than small talk to which she
replied in kind.
They stopped after a bit to drink from a clear spring that bubbled up in
the path, and sat down to rest awhile under a huge tree. Mary leaned her
head back against the trunk and drawing a small book from her sweater
pocket she opened it upon her knee.
"What is the book?" asked Agony.
"_The Desert Garden_, by Edwin Langham," replied Mary.
"Oh, do you know _The Desert Garden_?" cried Agony in delighted wonder.
"I've actually lived on that book for the last two years. I'm wild about
Edwin Langham. I've read every word he's ever written. Have you read
_The Silent Years_?"
"_The Lost Chord_? I think that's the most wonderful book I've ever
read, that and _The Desert Garden._ If I could ever see and speak to
Edwin Langham I should die from happiness. I've never felt that way
about any other author. When I read his books I feel reverent somehow,
as if I were in church, although there isn't a word of religion in them.
The things he writes are so fine and true and noble; he must be that way
himself. Do you remember that part about the bird in _The Desert Garden,
_ the bird with the broken wing, that would never fly again, singing to
the lame man who would never walk? And the flower that was so determined
to blossom that it grew in the desert and bloomed there?"
"Yes," answered Mary, "it was very beautiful."
"It's the most beautiful thing that was ever written!" declared Agony
enthusiastically. "It would be the greatest joy of my life to see the
man who wrote those books."
"Maybe you will, some day," said Mary, rising from her mossy seat and
preparing to take the path again.
It was not long after that that they came to the edge of the woods, and
saw before them the scattered houses of the little village of Atlantis.
Mary's old nurse was overjoyed to see her, and pressed the two girls to
stay and eat big soft ginger cookies on the shady back porch, and quench
their thirst with glasses of cool milk, while she inquired minutely
after the health of Mary's "ma" and "pa."
"Mrs. Simmons is the best old nurse that ever was," said Mary to Agony,
as they took their way back to the woods an hour later. "I'm so glad to
have had this opportunity of paying her a visit. I haven't seen her for
nearly ten years. Wasn't she funny, though, when I told her that father
might have to go to Japan in the interests of his firm? She thought
there was nobody in Japan but heathens and missionaries."
"Shall you go to Japan too, if your father goes?" asked Agony.
"I most likely shall," replied Mary. "I finished my school this June and
do not intend to go to college for another year anyway; so I might as
well have the trip and the experience of living in a foreign country.
Father would only have to remain there one year, or two at the most."
"How soon are you going?" asked Agony, a little awed by Mary's casual
tone as she spoke of the great journey. Evidently Mary had traveled
much, for the prospect of going around the world did not seem to excite
her in the least.
They were sitting in Mrs. Simmons' little spring house when Mary told
about the possibility of her going to Japan. This spring house stood at
some distance from the house; down at the point where the lane ran off
from the main road. It looked so utterly cool and inviting, with its
vine covered walls, that with an exclamation of pleasure the two girls
turned aside for one more drink before beginning the long walk through
Seated upon the edge of the basin which held the water, Mary talked of
Japan, and Agony wheeled around upon the narrow ledge to gaze at her in
wonder and envy.
"I wish _I_ could go to Japan!" she exclaimed vehemently, giving a
vigorous kick with her foot to express her longing. The motion disturbed
her balance and she careened over sidewise; Mary put out her hand to
steady her, lost _her_ balance, and went with a splash into the basin.
The water was not deep, but it was very, very wet, and Mary came out
For a moment the two girls stood helpless with laughter; then Mary said:
"I suppose I'll have to go back and get some dry things from Mrs.
Simmons, but I wish I didn't; it will take us quite a while to go back,
and it will delay us considerably. I promised Mrs. Grayson I'd be back
in camp before dark, and we won't be able to make it if we go back to
Mrs. Simmons's. I've a good mind to go on just as I am; it's so hot I
can't possibly take cold."
"I tell you what we can do," said Agony, getting a sudden inspiration.
"We can divide these bloomers of mine in half. They're made on a
foundation of thinner material that will do very well for me to wear
home, and you can wear the green part. With your sweater on over them
nobody will ever know whether you have on a middy or not. We can carry
you wet suit on a pole through the woods and it'll be dry by the time we
get home, and you won't have to lose any time by going back to Mrs.
"Great idea!" said Mary, brightening. "Are you really willing to divide
your bloomers? I'd be ever so much obliged."
"It's no trouble," replied Agony. "All I have to do is cut the threads
where the top is tacked on to the foundation. It's really two pairs of
bloomers." She was already cutting the tacking threads with her pocket
Mary put on the green bloomers and Agony the brown foundation pair, and
laughing over the mishap and the clever way of handling the problem, the
two crossed the road and entered the woods.
"What's that loud cheeping noise?" Agony asked almost as soon as they
had entered into the deep shadow of the high pines.
"Sounds like a bird in trouble," answered Mary, her practised ear
recognizing the note of distress in the incessant twittering.
A few steps farther they came upon a man sitting in a wheel chair under
one of the tallest pines they had ever seen, a man whose right foot was
so thickly wrapped in bandages that it was three times the size of the
other one. He was peering intently up into the tree above him, and did
not notice the approach of the two girls. Mary and Agony followed his
gaze and saw, high up among the topmost swaying branches, a sight that
thrilled them with pity and distress. Dangling by a string which was
tangled about one of her feet, hung a mother robin, desperately
struggling to get free, fluttering, fluttering, beating the air
frantically with her wings and uttering piercing cries of anguish that
drove the hearers almost to desperation. Nearby was her nest, and on
the edge of it sat the mate, uttering cries as shrill with anguish as
those of the helpless captive.
"Oh, the poor, poor bird!" cried Mary, her eyes filling with tears of
pity and grief. At the sound of her voice the man in the wheel chair
lowered his eyes and became aware of the girls' presence. As he turned
to look at them Mary caught in his eyes a look of infinite horror and
pity at the plight of the wretched bird above him. That expression
deepened Mary's emotion; the tears began to run down her cheeks. Agony
stood beside her stricken and silent.
"How did it happen?" Mary asked huskily, addressing the stranger
"I don't know exactly," replied the man. "I was sitting here reading
when all of a sudden I heard the bird's shrill cry of distress and
looked up to see her dangling there at the end of that string."
"Can't we do something?" asked Mary, putting her hands over her ears to
shut out the piercing cries. "She'll flutter herself to death before
"I'm afraid she will," replied the man, "There doesn't seem to be any
hope of her freeing herself."
"She shan't flutter herself to death," said Mary, with sudden
resolution. "I'm going to climb the tree and cut her loose."
"That will be impossible," said the man. "She is up in the very top of
"I'm going to try, anyway," replied Mary, with spirit. "Let me take
your knife, will you please, Agony?"
The lowest branches of the pine were far above her head, and in order to
get a foothold in them Mary had to climb a neighboring tree and swing
herself across. The ground seemed terrifying far away even from this
lowest branch; but this was only the beginning. She resolutely refrained
from looking down and kept on steadily, branch above branch, until she
reached the one from which the robin hung. Then began the most perilous
part of the undertaking. To reach the bird she must crawl out on this
branch for a distance of at least six feet, there being no limb directly
underneath for her to walk out on. Praying for a steady balance, she
swung herself astride of the branch, and holding on tightly with her
hands began hitching herself slowly outward. The bough bent sickeningly
under her; Agony below shrieked and covered her eyes; then opened them
again and continued to gaze in horrified fascination as inch by inch
Mary neared the wildly fluttering bird, whose terror had increased a
hundred-fold at the human presence so near it.
There came an ominous cracking sound; Agony uttered another shriek and
turned away; the next instant the shrill cries of the bird ceased; the
man in the chair gave vent to a long drawn "Ah-h!" Agony looked up to
see the exhausted bird fluttering to the ground beside her, a length of
string still hanging to its foot, while Mary slowly and carefully
worked her way back to the trunk of the tree. In a few minutes she slid
to the ground and sat there, breathless and trembling, but triumphant.
"I got it!" she panted. Then, turning to the man in the chair, she
exclaimed, "There now, who said it was impossible?"
The man applauded vigorously. "That was the bravest act I have ever seen
performed," he said admiringly. "You're the right stuff, whoever you
are, and I take my hat off to you."
"Anybody would have done it," murmured Mary modestly, as she rose and
prepared to depart.
"How could you do it?" marveled Agony, as the two walked homeward
through the woods. "Weren't you horribly scared?"
"Yes, I was," admitted Mary frankly. "When I started to go out on that
branch I was shaking so that I could hardly hold on. It seemed miles to
the ground, and I got so dizzy I turned faint for a moment. But I tried
to think of something else, and kept on going, and pretty soon I could
reach the string to cut it."
The boundless admiration with which Agony regarded Mary's act of bravery
was gradually swallowed up in envy. Why hadn't she herself been the one
to climb up and rescue that poor bird? She would give anything to have
done such a spectacular thing. Deep in her heart, however, she knew she
would never have had the courage to crawl out on that branch even if she
had thought of it first.
Silence fell upon the two girls as they walked along in the gradually
failing light; all topics of conversation seemed to have been exhausted.
Mary's clothes were dry before they were through the woods, and she put
them on to save the trouble of carrying them, giving Agony back her
"Thank you so much for letting me wear them," she said earnestly. "If it
hadn't been for your doing that I wouldn't have been in time to save
that robin. It was really that inspiration of yours that saved him, not
my climbing the tree."
Even in the hour of her triumph Mary was eager to give the credit to
someone else, and Agony began to feel rather humble and small before
such a generous spirit, even though her vanity strove to accept the
measure of credit given as justly due.
When they were crossing the river they saw Dr. Grayson standing on the
dock, shading his eyes to look over the water.
"There's the Doctor, looking for us!" exclaimed Mary. "It must be late
and he's worried about us." She doubled her speed with the oars, hailing
the Doctor across the water to reassure him. A few moments later the
boat touched the dock.
"Mary," said the Doctor, before she was fairly out, "a message has come
from your father saying that he must sail for Japan one week from today
and you must come home immediately. In order to catch the boat you will
have to leave for San Francisco not later than the day after tomorrow.
There is an early train for New York tomorrow morning from Green's
Landing. I will take you down in the launch, for the river steamer will
not get there in time. Be ready to leave camp at half past five tomorrow
morning. You will have to pack tonight."
Mary gasped and clutched Agony's hand convulsively.
"I have--to--leave--camp!" she breathed faintly.
A CAMP HEROINE
Mary Sylvester was gone. Sung to and wept over by her friends and
admirers, who had risen at dawn to see her off, she had departed with
Dr. Grayson in the camp launch just as the sun was beginning to gild the
ripples on the surface of the river. She left behind her many grief
"Camp won't be camp without Mary!" Bengal Virden had sobbed, trickling
tearfully back to Ponemah with a long tress of black hair clutched
tightly in her hand--a souvenir which she had begged from Mary at the
moment of parting. Next to Pom-pom, Mary Sylvester was Bengal's greatest
crush. "I'm going to put it under my pillow and sleep on it every
night," Bengal had sniffed tearfully, displaying the tress to her
"What utter nonsense!" Miss Peckham had remarked with a contemptuous
sniff. Miss Peckham considered the fuss they were making over Mary's
departure perfectly ridiculous, and was decidely cross because Bengal
had awakened her with her lamenting before the bugle blew.
Migwan and Gladys, on the other hand, remembering their own early
"crushes," managed not to smile at Bengal's sentimental foolishness
about the lock of hair, and Gladys gravely gave her a hand-painted
envelope to keep the precious tress in.
Completely tired out by the long tramp of the day before, Agony did not
waken in time to see Mary off, and when the second bugle finally brought
her to consciousness she discovered that she had a severe headache and
did not want any breakfast. Miss Judy promptly bore her off to the
"Infirmary," a tent set off by itself away from the noises of camp, and
left her there to stay quietly by herself. In the quiet atmosphere of
the "Infirmary" she soon fell asleep again, to waken at times, listen to
the singing of the birds in the woods, feel the breezes stealing
caressingly through her hair, and then to drop back once more into
blissful drowsiness which erased from her mind all memory of yesterday's
visit to Atlantis, and of Mary Sylvester's wonderful rescue of the
robin. As yet no word of Mary's heroism had reached the ears of the
camp; she had departed without the mead of praise that was due her.
Councilors and all felt depressed over Mary's untimely departure,
especially Miss Judy, Tiny Armstrong and the Lone Wolf, with whom she
had been particularly intimate, and with these three leading spirits
cast down gloom was thick everywhere. Morning Sing went flat--the high
tenors couldn't keep in tune without Mary to lead them, and nobody else
could make the gestures for The Lone Fish Ball. It seemed strange, too,
to see Dr. Grayson's chair empty, and to do without his jolly morning
talk. Everyone who had gotten up early was full of yawns and out of
"What's the matter with everybody?" asked Katherine of Jean Lawrence, as
they cleaned up Bedlam for tent inspection. "Camp looks like a funeral."
Jean's dimples were nowhere in evidence and her face looked unnaturally
solemn as she bent over her bed to straighten the blankets.
"It feels like one, too," replied Jean, still grave. "With Bengal crying
all over the place and Miss Judy looking so cut up it's enough to dampen
Talk lapsed between the two and each went on cleaning up her side of the
tent. A moment later, however, Jean's dimples came back again when she
came upon Katherine's toothbrush in one of her tennis shoes. That
toothbrush had disappeared two days before and the tent had been turned
upside down in a vain search for it.
Katherine pounced upon the truant toilet article gleefully. "Look in
your other shoe," she begged Jean, "and see if you can find my fountain
pen. That's missing too."
Jean obligingly shook out her shoe, but no pen came to light.
"There's something dark in the bottom of the water pitcher," announced
Oh-Pshaw, who was setting the toilet table to rights. "Maybe that's it."
She bared her arm to the elbow and plunged it into the water, but
withdrew it immediately with a shriek that caused Katherine and Jean to
drop their bed-making in alarm.
"What's the matter?" asked Katherine.
"It's an animal, a horrid, dead animal!" Oh-Pshaw gasped shudderingly,
backing precipitously away from the water pitcher. "It's furry, and
soft, and--ugh! stiff!"
"What is it?" demanded Katherine, peering curiously into the pitcher, in
whose slightly turbid depths she could see a dark object lying.
"Don't touch it!" begged Oh-Pshaw, as Katherine's hand went down into
"Nonsense," scoffed Katherine, "a dead creature can't hurt you. See,
it's only a little mouse that fell into the pitcher and got drowned.
Poor little mousy, it's a shame he had to meet such a sad fate when he
came to visit us."
"Katherine Adams, put that mouse away!" cried Oh-Pshaw, getting around
behind the bed. "How can you bear to touch such a thing?"
"Doesn't he look pathetic, with his little paws held out that way?"
continued Katherine, unmoved by Oh-Pshaw's expression of terrified
disgust. "I don't doubt but what he was the father of a large
family--or maybe the mother--and there will be great sorrow in the nest
out in the field when he doesn't come home to supper."
"Throw it away!" commanded Oh-Pshaw.
"Let's have a funeral," suggested Jean. "Here, we can lay him out in the
lid of my writing paper box."
"Grand idea," replied Katherine, carefully depositing the deceased on
the floor beside her bed.
A few minutes later the Lone Wolf, coming along to inspect the tent,
found a black middy tie hanging from the tent post, surmounted by a
wreath of field daisies, while inside the mouse was laid out in state in
the lid of Jean's writing paper box, surrounded by flowers and leaves.
Word of the tragedy that had taken place in Bedlam was all over camp in
no time, and crowds came to gaze on the face of the departed one. A
special edition of the camp paper was gotten out, with monstrous
headlines, giving the details of the accident, and announcing the
funeral for three o'clock.
Dr. Grayson returned to camp early in the afternoon, bringing with him a
professor friend whom he had invited to spend the week-end at camp. As
the two men stepped from the launch to the landing a sound of wailing
greeted their ears; long drawn out moans, heartbroken sobs, despairing
shrieks, blood-curdling cries.
"What can be the matter?" gasped the Doctor in consternation.
He raced up the path to the bungalow and stood frozen to the spot by the
sight that greeted his eyes. Down the Alley came a procession headed by
a wheelbarrow filled with field daisies and wild red lilies, all
arranged around a pasteboard box in the center; behind the wheelbarrow
came two girls with black middy ties around their heads, carrying spades
in their hands; behind them marched, two and two, all the girls who
lived in the Alley, each with a black square over her face and all
wailing and sobbing and shrieking at the top of their voices. The
procession came to a halt in front of the bungalow porch and Katherine
Adams detached herself from the ranks. Mounting a rock, she broke out
into an impassioned funeral oration that put Mark Anthony's considerably
in the shade. She was waving her hands in an extravagant gesture to
accompany an especially eloquent passage, when she suddenly caught sight
of Dr. Grayson standing watching the proceedings.
The mourners saw her suddenly stand as if petrified, the gesture frozen
in mid air, the word on her lips chopped off in the middle as with a
knife. Following her startled glance the others also saw Dr. Grayson and
the visitor. An indescribable sound rose from the funeral train; the
transition noise of anguished wailing turning into uncontrollable
laughter; then such a shout went up that the birds dozing in the trees
overhead flew out in startled circles and went darting away with loud
squawks of alarm.
"Go on, go on," urged Dr. Grayson, with twinkling eyes, "don't let me
interrupt the flow of eloquence."
But Katherine, abashed and tongue-tied in his presence always, could not
utter another word, and, blushing furiously, slid down off the rock and
took refuge behind the daisy-covered bier. The procession, agitated by
great waves of laughter, moved on toward the woods, where the mouse was
duly interred with solemn ceremonies.
"Will your father think I'm dreadfully silly?" Katherine inquired
anxiously of Miss Judy later in the afternoon.
"Not a bit," replied Miss Judy emphatically. "He thought that mouse
funeral was the best impromptu stunt we've pulled off yet. That kind of
thing was just what camp needed today. The novelty of it got everybody
stirred up and made them hilarious. That funeral oration of yours was
the funniest thing I ever heard. Miss Amesbury thought so too. She took
it all down while you were delivering it."
"Daggers and dirks!" exclaimed Katherine, more abashed than ever.
"That made the first coup for the Alley," continued Miss Judy, exulting.
"The Avenue is green with envy. They'll rack their brains now to get up
something as clever."
"Jane Pratt didn't think it was clever," replied Katherine, trying not
to look proud at Miss Judy's compliment. "She said it was the silliest
thing she had ever seen."
"Oh,--Jane Pratt!" sniffed Miss Judy, with an expressive shrug of her
shoulders. "Jane Pratt would have something sarcastic to say about an
archangel. Don't you mind what Jane Pratt says."
From Avernus to Gitchee-Gummee the Alley rang with praises of
"What's the excitement?" asked Agony wonderingly as she returned to the
bungalow in time for supper after resting quietly by herself all day.
"The best thing the Alley ever did!" replied Bengal Virden
enthusiastically, and recounted the details for Agony's benefit.
At the same moment someone started a cheer for Katherine down at the
other end of the table, and the response was actually deafening:
You're the B-E-S-T, best,
Of all the R-E-S-T, rest,
O, 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,
O, I love you, I love you all the T-I-M-E, time!
Agony cheered with the others, but a little stab of envy went through
her breast, a longing to have a cheer thundered at her by the assembled
campers, to become prominent, and looked at, and sought after. Sewah had
"arrived," and now also Katherine, while she herself was still merely
"among those present."
Rather pensively she followed the Winnebagos into Mateka after supper
for evening assembly, which had been called by Dr. Grayson. Usually
there was no evening assembly; Morning Sing was the only time the whole
camp came together in Mateka with the leaders, when all the
announcements for the day were made. When there was something special to
be announced, however, the bugle sometimes sounded another assembly call
"I wonder what the special announcement is tonight?" Hinpoha asked,
coming up with Sewah and Agony.
"I don't think it's an announcement at all," replied Sahwah. "I think
the professor friend of Dr. Grayson's is going to make a speech. Miss
Judy said he always did when he came to camp. He's a naturalist, or
something like that."
Agony wrinkled her forehead into a slight frown. "I hope he doesn't,"
she sighed. "My head still aches and I don't feel like listening to a
speech. I'd rather go canoeing up the river, as we had first planned."
She sat down in an inconspicuous corner where she could rest her head
upon her drawn up knees, if she wished, without the professor's seeing
her, and hoped that the speech would be a short one, and that there
would still be time to go canoeing on the river after he had finished.
The professor, however, seemed to have no intention of making a speech.
He took a chair beside the fireplace and settled himself in it with the
air of one who intended to remain there for some time. It was Dr.
Grayson himself who stood up to talk.
"I have called you together," he began, "to tell you about one of the
finest actions that has ever been performed by a girl in this camp. I
heard about it from the storekeeper at Green's Landing, who was told of
it by a man who departed on one of the steamers this morning. This man,
who was staying on a farm on the Atlantis Road, and who is suffering
from blood-poison in his foot, was taken into the woods in a wheel chair
yesterday afternoon and left by himself under a great pine tree at least
a hundred feet high. In the topmost branches of this tree a mother robin
became tangled up in a string which was caught in a twig, and she hung
there by one foot, unable to free herself, fluttering herself to death.
At this time two girls came through the path in the woods, took in the
situation, and quick as thought one of them climbed the tree, swung
herself out on the high branch, and cut the robin loose.
"The man who witnessed the act did not find out the names of the two
girls, but the one who climbed the tree wore a Camp Keewaydin hat and a
dark green bloomer suit. The other was dressed in brown. I don't think
there is anyone who fails to recognize the girl who has done this heroic
thing. There is only one green bloomer suit here in camp. Mrs. Grayson
tells me that she gave Agnes Wing permission to go to Atlantis with Mary
Sylvester yesterday afternoon. Where is she? Agnes Wing, stand up."
Agony stood up in her corner of the room, her lips opened to tell Dr.
Grayson that it was Mary who happened to have on the green bloomer suit
and had climbed the tree, but her words were drowned in a cheer that
nearly raised the roof off the Craft House. Before she knew it Miss Judy
and Tiny Armstrong had seized her, set her up on their shoulders, and
were carrying her around the room, while the building fairly rocked with
applause. Thrilled and intoxicated by the cheering, Agony began to
listen to the voice of the tempter in her bosom. No one would ever know
that it had not really been she who had done the brave deed; not a soul
knew of her lending her suit to Mary because of the mishap in the
springhouse. Mary Sylvester was gone; was on her way to Japan; she would
never hear about it; and the only person who had witnessed the deed did
not know their names; he had only remembered the green bloomer suit. The
man himself was unknown, nobody at camp could ever ask him about the
affair. He had gone from the neighborhood and would never come face to
face with her and discover his mistake; the secret was safe in her
In one bound she could become the most popular girl in camp; gain the
favor of the Doctor and the councilors--especially of Miss Amesbury,
whom she was most desirous of impressing. The sight of Miss Amesbury
leaning forward with shining eyes decided the question for her. The
words trembling on her lips were choked back; she hung her head and
looked the picture of modest embarrassment, the ideal heroine.
Set down on the floor again by Tiny and Miss Judy, she hid her face on
Miss Judy's shoulder and blushed at Dr. Grayson's long speech of praise,
in which he spoke touchingly of the beauty of a nature which loved the
wild dumb creatures of the woods and sought to protect them from harm;
of the cool courage and splendid will power that had sent her out on the
shaking branch when her very heart was in her mouth from fear; of the
modesty which had kept her silent about the glorious act after she
returned to camp. When he took both her hands in his and looked into her
face with an expression of admiring regard in his fine, true eyes, she
all but told the truth of the matter then and there; but cowardice held
her silent and the moment passed.
"Let's have a canoe procession in her honor!" called Miss Judy, and
there was a rush for the dock.
Agony was borne down in triumph upon the shoulders of Miss Judy and
Tiny, with all the camp marching after, and was set down in the barge of
honor, the first canoe behind the towing launch, while all the Alley
drew straws for the privilege of riding with her. Still cheering Agony
enthusiastically the procession started down the river in a wild,
hilarious ride, and Agony thrilled with the joy of being the center of
"I have arrived at last," she whispered triumphantly to herself as she
went to bed that night, and lay awake a long time in the darkness,
thinking of the cheers that had rocked the Craft House and of the
flattering attention with which Miss Amesbury had regarded her all
THE BUSINESS OF BEING A HEROINE
Agony awoke the next morning to find herself famous beyond her fondest
dreams. Before she was dressed she saw two of the younger girls peeping
into the tent for a glimpse of her; when she stood in line for flag
raising she was conscious of eyes turned toward her from all directions
while girls who had never noticed her before stopped to say good morning
effusively, and seemed inclined to linger in her company; and at
breakfast each table in turn sang a cheer for her. Jo Severance, who was
one of the acknowledged camp leaders, and whose friendships were not
lightly bestowed, ostensibly stopped and waited for Agony to catch up
with her on the way over to Morning Sing and walked into Mateka with her
arm around Agony's waist.
"Will you be my sleeping partner for the first overnight trip that we
take?" she asked cordially.
"Certainly," Agony replied a little breathlessly, already well enough
versed in camp customs to realize the extent of the tribute that was
being paid her.
At Camp Keewaydin a girl never asked anyone but her dearest friend to be
her sleeping partner on an overnight trip, to creep into her poncho
sleeping bag with her and share the intimate experience of a night on
the ground, heads together on the same pillow, warm bodies touching each
other in the crowded nest inside the blankets. And Jo Severance had
chosen her to take the place of Mary Sylvester, Jo's own adored Mary,
who was to have been Jo's partner on all occasions!
Before Morning Sing was over Agony had received a dozen pressing
invitations to share beds on that first camping trip, and the date of
the trip was not even announced yet!
And to all this fuss and favor Agony responded like a prism placed in
the sunlight. She sparkled, she glowed, she radiated, she brought to the
surface with a rush all the wit and charm and talent that lay in her
being. She beamed upon everyone right and left; she threw herself with
ardor and enthusiasm into every plan that was suggested; she had a dozen
brilliant ideas in as many minutes; she seemed absolutely inspired. Her
deep voice came out so strongly that she was able to carry the alto in
the singing against the whole camp; she improvised delightful harmonies
that put a thrill into the commonest tune. She got up of her own accord
and performed the gestures to "The Lone Fish Ball" better even than
Mary Sylvester had done them, and on the spur of the moment she worked
out another set to accompany "The Bulldog and the Bullfrog" that brought
down the house. It took only the stimulating influence of the limelight
to bring out and intensify every talent she had ever possessed. It
worked upon her like a drug, quickening her faculties, spurring her on
to one brilliant performance after the other, while the camp looked upon
her in wonder as one gifted by the gods.
The same exalted mood possessed her during swimming hour, and she passed
the test for Sharks with flying colors. Immediately afterward she
completed the canoe test and joined that envied class who were allowed
to take out a canoe on their own responsibility.
A dozen new admirers flocked around her as she walked back to
Gitchee-Gummee at the close of the Swimming hour, all begging to be
allowed to sew up the tear in her bathing suit, or offering to lend her
the prettiest of their bathing caps. What touched Agony most, however,
was the pride which the Winnebagos took in her exploit.
"We knew you would do something splendid sometime and bring honor to
us," they told her exultingly, with shining faces.
"I'm going to write Nyoda about it this minute," said Migwan, after she
had finished her words of praise. "What's the mater, Agony, have you a
headache again?" she finished.
"No," replied Agony in a tone of forced carelessness.
"I thought maybe you had," continued Migwan solicitously. "Your forehead
was all puckered up."
"The light is so bright on the river," murmured Agony, and walked
Days passed in pleasant succession; Mary Sylvester's name gradually
ceased to be heard on all sides from her mourning cronies, who at first
accompanied every camp activity with a plaintive chorus of, "Remember
the way Mary used to do this," or "Oh, I wish Mary were here to enjoy
this," or "Mary had planned to do this the first chance she got," and so
on. Life in camp was so packed full of enjoyment for those who remained
behind that it was impossible to go on missing the departed one
The first camping trip was a thing of the past. It had been a
twenty-mile hike along the river to a curious group of rocks known as
"Hercules' Library," from the resemblance which the granite blocks bore
to shelves of books. Here, among these fantastic formations, the camp
had spread its blankets and literally snored, if not actually upon, at
least at the base of, the flint.
When bedtime came Katherine had found herself without a sleeping
partner, for she had forgotten to ask someone herself, and it just
happened that no one had asked her. She was philosophically trying to
make her bed up for a single, by doubling the poncho over lengthwise
into a cocoon effect, when she heard a sniffle coming out of the bushes
beside her. Investigating, she found Carmen Chadwick sitting
disconsolately upon a very much wrinkled poncho, her chin in her hands,
the picture of woe.
"What's the matter, can't you make your bed?" asked Katherine,
remembering Carmen's helplessness in that line upon a former occasion.
"I haven't any partner!" answered Carmen, with another sniffle. "I had
one, but she's run away from me."
"Who was it?" asked Katherine.
"Jane Pratt," replied Carmen. "I asked her a long time ago if I might
sleep with her on the first trip, and she said, certainly I might, and
she would bring along enough blankets for the two of us, and I wouldn't
need to bother bringing any. So I didn't bring any blankets; but when I
asked her just now where we were going to sleep, she said she hadn't the
faintest notion where _I_ was going to sleep, but _she_ was going to
sleep alone in the woods, away from the rest of us. She laughed at me,
and said she never intended to bring along enough blankets for the two
of us, and that I should have known better than to believe her. What
shall I do?" she wailed, beginning to weep in earnest.
Katherine gave vent to an exclamation that sent a nearby chipmunk
scampering away in a panic. She looked around for Miss Judy, but Miss
Judy was deep in the woods with the other councilors getting up a stunt
to entertain the girls after supper. "Where's Jane Pratt?" asked
"I don't know," sniffled Carmen.
"Didn't you bring any blankets at all?"
"Carmen, didn't it ever occur to you that Jane was making fun of you
when she said she would bring blankets for two? Nobody ever does that,
you know, they'd make too heavy a load to carry."
Carmen shook her head, and gulped afresh.
"No, I never thought of that. I wanted a sleeping partner so badly, and
everyone I asked was already engaged, and when she said yes I was _so_
"Of all the mean, contemptible tricks to play on a poor little creature
like that!" Katherine exclaimed aloud.
"What's the matter?" asked Agony, appearing beside her.
Katherine told her.
Agony's eyes flashed. "I'm going to find Jane Pratt," she said in the
calm tone which always indicated smouldering anger, "and make her share
her blankets with Carmen."
Jane, who, with the practised eye of the old camper, had selected a
smooth bit of ground thickly covered with pine needles and sloping
gently upward toward the end for her head, and had arranged her two
double blankets and her extra large sized poncho into an extremely
comfortable bed for one, looked up from her labors to find Agony
standing before her with flushed face and blazing eyes.
"Jane Pratt," Agony began without preliminary, "did you promise to sleep
with Carmen Chadwick, and lead her to think she did not need to bring
any blankets along on this trip?"
Jane returned Agony's gaze coolly, and gave a slight, disagreeable
laugh. "Carmen's the biggest goose in camp," she said scornfully.
"Anybody'd know I didn't mean--"
"_Carmen_ didn't know you didn't mean it," Agony interrupted. "She
thought you were sincere, and believed you, and now she's dreadfully
hurt about it. You ought to be ashamed of yourself, hurting a poor
little girl's feelings like that."
"If anybody's green enough to come on an overnight trip without any
blankets and actually think someone else is going to bring them for
"Well, as it happens, Carmen _was_ green enough, and that's just the
point. She's never been away from home and because she's so desperately
homesick she's having a hard time making friends. If one person treats
her like this it'll be hard for her ever to believe what people tell
her and it'll be harder for her to get acquainted than ever."
Jane shrugged her shoulders. "What she believes or doesn't believe
doesn't concern me."
"Why, Jane Pratt!"
Jane smiled amusedly at Agony's reproachful exclamation. "My dear," she
said patronizingly, "I never sleep with anyone. There's no one I like
well enough. I thought everyone in camp knew that."
"Then why did you tell Carmen you would sleep with her?"
"Because she's such a goose it was no end of fun taking her in."
"Then you deliberately deceived her?" asked Agony witheringly.
"Well, and what if I did?" retorted Jane.
"You have absolutely no sense of honor," Agony remarked contemptuously.
"Deceiving people is just as bad as lying, or cheating."
Stung by Agony's tone, Jane flushed a little. "Well, what do you expect
me to do about it?" she demanded. "What business is it of yours,
"You're going to let Carmen take one of your blankets," replied Agony.
"I'll do no such thing," returned Jane flatly. "It's going to be cold
here tonight and I'll need them both."
"And what about Carmen?"
"Bother Carmen! If she's such a goose to think that I meant what I said
she deserves to be cold."
"Why, Jane Pratt!"
"Why don't you share your own blankets with her, if you're so concerned
"I'm perfectly willing to, and so are the rest of the girls, but we're
giving you the _opportunity_ to do it, to help right the mistake."
"I suppose you've told all the girls in camp about it and will run and
tell Mrs. Grayson to come and make me give up my blankets."
"I'll do no such thing. If you aren't kind hearted enough yourself to
want to make Carmen feel better it wouldn't mend matters any to have
Mrs. Grayson make you do it. But I shall certainly let the girls know
about it. I think they ought to know what an amiable disposition you
have. I don't think you'll be bothered with any more overtures of
Jane yawned. "For goodness' sake, are you going to preach all night?
That voice of yours sets my nerves on edge. Take a blanket and present
it to Carmen with my love--and let me alone." She stripped the top
blanket from her bed and threw it at Agony's feet; then walked off,
calling over her shoulder as she went, "Good bye, Miss Champion of
simple camp infants. Most courageous, most honorable!"
She did not see the sudden spasm that contorted Agony's face at the
word "honorable." It suddenly came over Agony that she had no right to
be calling other people cheats and liars and taking them to task about
their sense of honor, she, who was enjoying honors that did not belong
to her. The light of victory faded from her eyes; the angry flush died
away on her cheek. Very quietly she stole back to Carmen and held the
blanket out to her.
"Jane's sorry she can't sleep with you, because she never sleeps well
and is apt to disturb people, but she's willing to let you take one of
her blankets," she said gently.
"Oh, thank you!" said Carmen, much comforted. "I'm going to sleep with
Katherine. With this blanket there'll be enough bedding to make a
double. I'm glad I'm not going to sleep with Jane," she confided to
Katherine. "I'm afraid of her. I would lots rather have had you for my
partner from the beginning, but I was afraid to ask you because I was
sure you were promised to somebody else."
"Motto," said Katherine, laughing. "Faint heart never won lanky lady.
Don't ever hesitate to ask me anything again. Come on, let's get this
bed made up in a hurry. I see the councilors coming back. That means
their show is going to commence."
Of course, it was not long before Agony's little passage of arms with
Jane Pratt in behalf of timid little Carmen was known all over camp, and
Agony went up another point in popular favor as Jane Pratt went down.
The councilors heard about it, too, for whatever Bengal Virden knew was
promptly confided to Pom-pom. Miss Judy told it to Dr. Grayson, and he
nodded his head approvingly.
"It's no more than you would expect from the girl who rescued that
robin," he said warmly. "The champion of all weaker creatures.
Diplomatic, too. Tried to save Carmen's feelings in the matter by not
telling her the exact spirit in which Jane gave up the blanket. A good
leader; another Mary Sylvester."
Then, turning to Mrs. Grayson, he asked plaintively: "Mother, _why_ do
we have to be afflicted with Jane Pratt year after year? She's been a
thorn in our flesh for the past three summers."
"I have told you before," replied Mrs. Grayson resignedly, "that I only
accept her because she is the daughter of my old friend Anne Dudley. I
cannot offend Mrs. Pratt because I am under various obligations to her,
so for the sake of her mother we must continue to be afflicted with Jane
Dr. Grayson heaved a long sigh, and muttered something about "the fell
clutch of circumstance."
"We seem rather plentifully saddled with 'obligations,'" he remarked a
"Meaning?" inquired Mrs. Grayson.
"Claudia Peckham," rejoined the Doctor. "Sweet Claudia Peckham: How she
used to scrap with my little brothers when she came to visit us! She
had a disposition like the bubonic plague when she was little, and by
all the signs she doesn't seem to have mellowed any with age."
"Doctor!" exclaimed Mrs. Grayson reprovingly.
"Sad, but true," continued the Doctor, his eyes twinkling reminiscently.
"When she came to visit us the cat used to hide her kittens under the
porch, and the whole household went into a regular state of siege. By
the way, how is she getting on? I've lived in fear of the explosion
every minute. I never thought she'd last this long. Who has she in the
tent with her?"
"That brown haired madonna you think is so sweet, and the pretty, golden
haired girl who is her intimate friend," replied Mrs. Grayson. "Those
two, and--Bengal Virden."
The Doctor gave vent to a long whistle. "Bengal Virden in the same tent
with Claudia Peckham? And the tent is still standing?"
"Bengal doesn't sleep in the tent," admitted Mrs. Grayson. "She has
moved underneath it, into a couch hammock. She thinks I don't know it,
but under the circumstances I shall not interfere. We have to keep
Cousin Claudia _somewhere_, and as long as they'll put up with her in
Ponemah I don't care how they manage it. She _would_ be a tent
"How do the other two get along with her?" asked the Doctor, "the two
that have not moved underneath, as yet?"
"I don't know," replied Mrs. Grayson in a frankly puzzled tone. "They
must be angels unaware, that's all I can say."
THE SHOE BEGINS TO PINCH
"Tramp, tramp, tramp, the bugs are marching,
Up and down the tents they go,
Some are brown and some are black,
But of each there is no lack,
And the Daddy-long-legs they go marching too!"
So sang Sahwah as she tidied up her tent after Morning Sing. It was war
on bugs and spiders this morning; war to the knife, or rather, to the
broom. Usually there was no time between Morning Sing and tent
inspection to do more than give the place a swift tidying up; to sweep
the floor and straighten up the beds and set the table in order. Bugs
and spiders did not count against one in tent inspection, being looked
upon as circumstances over which one had no control; hence no one ever
bothered about them. But that morning Sahwah, lying awake waiting for
the rising bugle to blow, saw a round-bellied, jolly-looking little bug
crawling leisurely along the floor, dragging a tiny seed of grain with
him, and looking for all the world like the father of a family bringing
a loaf of bread home for breakfast. As she watched it traveling along a
crack in the board floor, a very large, fierce-looking bug appeared on
the scene, fell upon the smaller one, killed and half devoured it, and
then made off triumphantly with the seed the other had been carrying.
"No you don't!" shouted Sahwah aloud, waking Agony out of a sound sleep.
"What's the matter?" yawned Agony.
Sahwah laughed a little foolishly. "It was nothing; only a bug," she
explained. "I'm sorry I wakened you, Agony. You see, I was watching a
cute little bug carrying a seed across the floor, and a bigger bug came
along and took it away from him. I won't stand for anything like that
here in Gitchee-Gummee. We all play fair here, and nobody takes any
plums that belong to someone else."
She rose in her wrath, reached for her shoe, and made short work of the
Agony made no comment. The words, _we all play fair here, and nobody
takes any plums that belong to someone else_, pierced her bosom like
barbed arrows. She lay so still that Sahwah thought she had dropped off
to sleep again, and crept quietly back to bed so as not to disturb her a
second time. Like the tiger, however, who, once having tasted blood, is
consumed with the lust of killing, Sahwah, having squashed one bug,
itched to do the same with all the others in the tent, and when
tidying-up time came there began a ruthless campaign of extermination.
Agony, having made her bed and swept out underneath it, departed
abruptly from the scene. Somehow the sight of bugs being killed was
upsetting to her just now. She wandered down toward the river, listening
pensively to the sweet piping notes of Noel Sanderson's whistle, coming
from somewhere along the shore; then she turned and walked toward
Mateka, planning to put in some time working on the design for her
paddle before Craft Hour began and the place became filled to
overflowing with other designers, all wanting the design books and the
rulers and compasses at once.
As she passed under the balcony which was Miss Amesbury's sanctum, a
cordial hail floated down from above. "Good morning, Agony, whither
bound so early, and what means that portentous frown?"
Agony looked up to see Miss Amesbury, wreathed in smiles, peering down
over the rustic railing at her. Agony flushed with pleasure at the
cordiality of the tone, and the use of her nickname. It was only the
girls for which she had a special liking that Miss Amesbury ever
addressed by a nickname, no matter how universally in use that nickname
might be with the rest of the camp. Agony's blood tingled with a sense
of triumph; her eyes sparkled and her face took on that look of being
lighted up from within that characterized her in moments of great
"I was coming down to Mateka to put in some extra work on the design for
my paddle," she replied, in her rich, vibrating voice, "and I was
frowning because I was a little puzzled how I was going to work it out."
"Industrious child!" replied Miss Amesbury. "Come up and visit me and
I'll show you some good designs for paddles."
The next half hour was so filled with delight for Agony that she did not
know whether she was sleeping or waking. Sitting opposite her adored
Miss Amesbury on a rustic bench covered with a bright Indian blanket and
listening to the fascinating conversation of this much traveled, older
woman, the voice of conscience grew fainter and nearly ceased tormenting
Agony altogether, and she gave herself up wholly to the enjoyment of the
moment. In answer to Miss Amesbury's questioning, she told of her home
and school life; her great admiration for Edwin Langham; and about the
Winnebagos and their good times; and Miss Amesbury laughed heartily at
her tales and in turn related her own school-girl pranks and enthusiasm
in a flattering confidential way.
Agony rushed up to the Winnebagos after Craft Hour, radiant with pride
and happiness. "Miss Amesbury invited me up to her balcony," she
announced, trying hard to speak casually, "and she lent me one of her
own books to read, and she helped me work out the design for my paddle.
She's the most wonderful woman I've ever met. She wants me to come again
often, she says, and she invited me to go walking with her in the woods
this afternoon to get some balsam."
"O Agony, how splendid!" cried Migwan, with a hint of wistfulness in her
voice. Migwan did not envy Agony her sudden popularity with the campers
one bit; that was her just due after the splendid deed she had
performed; but where Miss Amesbury was concerned Migwan could not help
feeling a few pangs of jealousy. She admired Miss Amesbury with all the
passion that was in her, looking up to her as one of the nameless,
insignificant stars of heaven might look up to the Evening Star; she
prayed that Miss Amesbury might single her out for intimate friendship
such as was enjoyed by Mary Sylvester and some of the other older girls.
Migwan never breathed this desire to anyone, but if Miss Amesbury had
only known it, a certain pair of soft brown eyes rested eagerly upon her
all through Morning Sing, as she sat at the piano playing hymns and
choruses, even as they were fixed upon her during meals and other
assemblies. And now the thing that Migwan coveted so much had come to
Agony, and Agony basked in the light of Miss Amesbury's twinkling smile
and enjoyed all the privileges of friendship which Migwan would have
given her right hand to possess. But, being Migwan, she bravely brushed
aside her momentary feeling of envy, told herself sternly that if she
was worth it Miss Amesbury would notice her sooner or later, and
cheerfully lent Agony her best pencil to transfer the new paddle design
"Supper on the water tonight!" announced Miss Judy, going the rounds
late in the afternoon. "Everybody go down on the dock when the supper
bugle blows, instead of coming into the dining room."
There was a mad rush for canoe partners, and a hasty gathering together
of guitars and mandolins, which would certainly be in demand for the
evening sing-out which would follow supper. Agony, being in an exalted
mood, had an inspiration, which she confided to Gladys in a whisper, and
Gladys, nodding, moved off in the direction of the Bungalow and paid a
visit to her trunk up in the loft, after which she and Agony disappeared
into the woods.
The river was bathed in living fire from the rays of the setting sun
when the little fleet of boats pushed out from the shore and began
circling around the floating dock where Miss Judy and Tiny Armstrong,
with the help of three or four other councilors, were passing out plates
of salad, sandwiches and cups of milk. Having received their supplies,
the canoes backed away and went moving up or down the river as the
paddlers desired, sometimes two or three canoes close together,
sometimes one alone, but all, whether alone or in groups, filling the
occupants of the launch with desperate envy. A dozen or more girls these
were, still in the Minnow class, still denied the privilege of going out
in a canoe because they had not yet passed the swimming test.
Oh-Pshaw, alas, was still one of them. She looked wistfully at Agony, a
Shark, in charge of a canoe with Hinpoha and Gladys and Jo Severance as
companions, gliding alongside of Sahwah and Undine Cirelle on the one
side and Katherine and Jean Lawrence on the other. She heard their
voices floating across the water as they laughingly called to each other
and sang snatches of songs aimed at Miss Judy and Tiny Armstrong on the
floating dock; heard Tiny Armstrong remark to Miss Judy, "There's the
best group of canoeists we've ever had in camp. Won't they make a
showing on Regatta Day, though!"
Oh-Pshaw longed with all her heart on floating supper nights to belong
to that illustrious company and go gliding up and down the river like a
swan instead of chugging around in the launch, sitting cramped up to
make room for the supper supplies that covered the floor on the trip
out, and baskets of used forks and spoons and cups on the trip back. It
was not a brilliant company that went in the launch. Jacob, Dr.
Grayson's helper about camp, ran the engine. Being desperately shy, he
attended strictly to business, and never so much as glanced at the girls
packed in behind him. Half a dozen of the younger camp girls, who never
did anything but whisper together, carve stones for their favorite
councilors, and giggle continually; three or four of the older girls who
sat silent as clams for the most part, and never betrayed any particular
enthusiasm, no matter what went on; Carmen Chadwick, who clung to
Oh-Pshaw and squeaked with alarm every time the launch changed her
course; and Miss Peckham, who from her seat in the stern kept shouting
nervous admonitions at the unheeding Jacob; these constituted the
company who were doomed to travel together on all excursions.
Oh-Pshaw labored heroically to infuse a spark of life into the company;
she wrote a really clever little song about "the Exclusive Crew of the
Irish Stew," but she could not induce the exclusive crew to sing it, so
her first poetic effort was love's labor lost. So she looked enviously
upon the canoes and resolved more firmly than ever to overcome her fear
of the water and learn to swim, and thus have done with the launch and
its uninspiring company for all time.
Migwan's eyes, as usual, went roving in search of Miss Amesbury, but
tonight, to her sorrow, they did not find her anywhere in the canoes.
"Where is Miss Amesbury?" she asked of Miss Judy, as her canoe came up
alongside of the "lunch counter."
"She didn't come out with us tonight," replied Miss Judy, tipping the
milk can far over to pour out the last drop. "She wanted to do some
writing, she said."
Migwan sighed quietly and gave herself over to being agreeable to her
canoe mates, but the occasion had lost its savor for her.
Supper finished, the canoes began to drift westward toward the setting
sun, following the broad streak of light that lay like a magic highway
upon the water, while guitars and mandolins began to tinkle, and from
all around clear girlish voices, blended together in exquisite harmony,
took up song after song.
"Oh, I could float along like this and sing forever!" breathed Hinpoha,
picking out soft chords on her guitar, and looking dreamily at the
evening star glowing like a jewelled lamp in the western sky.
"So could I," replied Migwan, leaning back in the canoe with her hands
clasped behind her head, and letting the light breeze ruffle the soft
tendrils of hair around her temples. "It is going to be full moon
tonight," she added. "See, there it is, rising above the treetops. How
big and bright it is! Can it be possible that it is only a mass of dead
chalk and not a ball of burnished silver? Gladys will enjoy that moon,
she always loves it so when it is so big and round and bright. By the
way, where _is_ Gladys? I saw her in a canoe not long ago, but I don't
see her anywhere now."
"I don't know where she is," replied Hinpoha, glancing idly around at
the various craft and then letting her eyes rest upon the moon again.
The little fleet had rounded an island and turned back upstream, now
traveling in the silver moon-path, now gliding through velvety black
shadows, and was approaching a long, low ledge of rock that jutted out
into the water just beyond the big bend in the river. A sudden
exclamation of "Ah-h!" drew everybody's attention to the rock, and there
a wondrous spectacle presented itself--a white robed figure dancing in
the moonlight as lighty as a bit of seafoam, her filmy draperies
fluttering in the wind, her long yellow hair twined with lillies.
"Who is it?" several voices cried in wonder, and the paddlers stopped
spellbound with their paddles poised in air.
"Gladys!" exclaimed Migwan. "I thought she was planning a surprise, she
and Agony were whispering together this afternoon. Isn't she wonderful,
though!" Migwan's voice rang with pride in her beloved friend's
accomplishment. "Too bad Miss Amesbury isn't here to see it."
The dancer on the rock dipped and swayed and whirled in a mad measure,
finally disappearing into the shadow of a towering cliff, from whence
she emerged a few moments later, once more in the canoe with Agony, and
changed back from a water nymph into a Camp Keewaydin girl in middy and
"It was Agony's idea," she explained simply, in response to the storm of
applause that greeted her reappearance among the girls. "She thought of
it this afternoon when the word went around that we were going to have
supper on the water."
Then Agony came in for her share of the applause also, until the woods
echoed to the sound of cheering.
"Too bad Miss Amesbury had to miss it." Thus Agony echoed Migwan's
earlier expression of regret as she walked down the Alley arm in arm
with Migwan and Hinpoha after the first bugle. "She's been working up
there on her balcony all evening, and didn't hear a bit of the singing.
We were too far up the river."
"Couldn't we sing a bit for her?" suggested Migwan. "Serenade her, I
mean; just a few of us who are used to singing together?"
"Good idea," replied Agony enthusiastically. "Get all the Winnebagos
together and let's sing her some of our own songs, the ones we've
practicsed so much together at home. You bring your mandolin, Migs, and
tell Hinpoha to bring her guitar. Hurry, we'll have to do it fast to get
back for lights out."
Miss Amesbury, wearily finishing her evening's work, was suddenly
greeted by a burst of song from beneath her balcony; a surpassing deep,
rich alto, beautifully blended with a number of clear, pure sopranos,
accompanied by mandolin and guitar. It was a song she had not heard in
years, one which held a beautiful, tender association for her:
"I would that my love could silently
Flow in a single word--"
A mist came over her eyes as she listened, and the gates of memory swung
back on their golden hinges, revealing another scene, when she had
listened to that song sung by a voice now long since hushed. She put her
hand over her eyes as if in pain, then dropped it slowly into her lap
and sat leaning back in her chair listening with hungry ears to the
familiar strains. When the last note had echoed itself quite away she
leaned over the balcony and called down softly, "Thanks, many thanks,
girls. You do not know what a treat you have given me. Who are you? I
know one of you must be Agony, I recognize her alto, but who are the
rest of you? The Winnebagos? I might have guessed it. You are dear girls
to think of me up here by myself and to put yourselves out to give me
pleasure. Come and visit me in the daytime, every one of you. There goes
the last bugle. Goodnight, girls. Thank you a thousand times!"
The Winnebagos scurried off toward the Alley, in high spirits at the
success of their little plan. Migwan actually trembled with joy. At last
she had been invited up on Miss Amesbury's fascinating little balcony.
True, the invitation had been a general one to all the Winnebagos, but
nevertheless, it was a beginning.
"Miss Amesbury must have been very tired tonight," she confided to
Hinpoha. "Her voice actually shook when she thanked us for singing."
"I noticed it, too," replied Hinpoha, beginning to pull her middy off
over her head as she walked along.
When Agony reached the door of Gitchee-Gummee she remembered that she
had left her camp hat lying in the path below Mateka, where they had
stood to serenade Miss Amesbury, and fearing that the wind, which was
increasing in velocity, might blow it into the river before morning, she
hastened back to rescue it. She moved quietly, for it was after lights
out and she did not wish to disturb the camp. Miss Amesbury's lamp was
extinguished and her balcony was shrouded in darkness by the shadow of
the tall pine which grew against it.
"She must be very tired," thought Agony, remembering Migwan's words,
"and is already in bed."
Agony felt carefully over the shadowy ground for her hat, found it and
started back up the path. But the beauty of the moonlight on the river
tempted her to loiter and dream along the bluff before returning to her
tent. Enchanted by the magic scene beneath her, she stood still and
gazed for many minutes at the gleaming river of water which seemed to
her like pure molten silver.
As she stood gazing, half lost in dreams, she saw a canoe shoot out from
the opposite shore some distance up the river and come toward Keewaydin,
keeping in the shadows along the shore. Just before it reached camp it
drew in and discharged a passenger, which Agony could see was a girl.
Then the canoe put off again, and as it crossed a moonlit place Agony
saw that it was painted bright red, the color of the canoes belonging to
the Boy's Camp located about a half mile down the river. Agony realized
what the presence of that canoe meant. One of the girls of Keewaydin had
been out canoeing on the sly with some boy from Camp Alamont--a thing
forbidden in the Keewaydin code--and was being brought back in this
surreptitious manner. Who could the girl be? Agony grimaced with
disgust. She waited quietly there in the path where the girl, whoever
she was, must pass in order to go up to her tent. In a few moments the
girl came along and nearly stumbled over her in the darkness, crying out
in alarm at the unexpected encounter. Agony's swiftly adjusted
flashlight fell upon the heavy features and unpleasant eyes of Jane
"O Jane," cried Agony, "you haven't been over at that boys' camp, have
you? You surely know it's forbidden--Dr. Grayson said so distinctly when
he read the camp rules."
"Well, what if I have?" Jane demanded in a tone of asperity. "Dr.
Grayson makes a lot of rules that are too silly for words. I have a
friend over at Camp Altamont that I've known for years and if I choose
to go canoeing with him on such a gorgeous night instead of going to bed
at nine o'clock like a baby it's nobody's business. By the way, what are
_you_ doing here?" she demanded suspiciously. "Why aren't you in bed
with the rest of the infants?"
"I came out to get my hat," replied Agony simply.
"Strange thing that your hat should get lost just in the spot where I
happen to come ashore," remarked Jane sarcastically. "How long have you
been spying upon my movements, Miss Virtue?"
"I haven't been spying on you," declared Agony hotly. "I hadn't any idea
you were out. To tell the truth, I never missed you this evening when we
were on the river."
"Well, I suppose you'll pull Mrs. Grayson out of her bed now to tell her
the scandal about Jane Pratt," continued Jane bitingly, "and tomorrow
morning at five o'clock there'll be another departure from camp."
"O Jane!" cried Agony, in distress. "Will she really send you home?"
"She really will," mocked Jane. "She sent a girl home last year who did
the same thing."
"O Jane, how dreadful that would be," said Agony.
"And how sorry you would be to have me go--not," returned Jane
"Jane," said Agony seriously, "if I promise not to tell Mrs. Grayson
this time will you promise never to do this sort of thing again? It
would be awful to be sent home from camp in disgrace. If you think it
over you'll surely see what a much better time you'll have if you don't
break rules--if you work and play honorably. Won't you please try?"
The derisive tone deepened in Jane's voice as she answered, "No I will
_not_. I'll make no such babyish promise--to you of all people--because
I wouldn't keep it if I did make it."
"Then," said Agony firmly, "I'll do just as we do in school with the
honor system. I'll give you three days to tell Mrs. Grayson yourself,
and if you haven't done it by the end of that time I'll tell her myself.
What you are doing is a bad example for the younger girls, and Mrs.
Grayson ought to know about it."
Jane's only reply was a mocking laugh as she brushed past Agony and went
in the direction of her tent.
AN EXPLORING TRIP
"Miss Amesbury wants us to go off on a canoe trip with her," announced
Agony, rushing up to the Winnebagos after Craft Hour the next morning.
"Wants who to go on a canoe trip with her?" demanded Sahwah in
"Why, us, the Winnebagos," replied Agony. "Just us, and Jo Severance.
She wants to take a canoe trip up the river, but she doesn't want to go
with the whole camp when they go because there will be too much noise
and excitement. She wants a quieter trip, but she doesn't want to go all
alone, so she has asked Dr. Grayson if she may take us girls. He said
she might. We're to start this afternoon, right after dinner, and be
gone over night; maybe two nights."
"O Agony!" breathed Migwan in ecstacy, falling upon Agony's neck and
hugging her rapturously. "It's all due to you. If you hadn't done that
splendid thing we wouldn't be half as popular as we are. We're sharing
your glory with you." She smiled fondly into Agony's eyes and squeezed
her hand heartily. "Good old Agony," she murmured.
Agony smiled back mechanically and returned the squeeze with only a
slight pressure. "Nonsense," she replied with emphasis. "It isn't on
account of what--I--did at all that she has asked you. It's because you
serenaded her the other evening. That was _your_ doing, Migwan."
"But we wouldn't have ventured to serenade her if she hadn't been so
friendly with you," replied Migwan, "so it amounts to the same thing in
the end. That's the way it has always been with us Winnebagos, hasn't
it? What one does always helps the rest of us. Sahwah's swimming has
made us all famous; and so has Gladys's dancing and Katherine's
"And your writing," put in Hinpoha. "Don't forget that Indian legend of
yours that brought the spotlight down upon us in our freshman year. That
was really the making of us. No matter what one of us does, the others
all share in the glory."
A tiny shiver went down Agony's back. "And I suppose," she added
casually, "if one of us were to disgrace herself the others would share
"We certainly would," said Sahwah with conviction.
Agony turned away with a dry feeling in her throat and walked soberly
to her tent to prepare for the canoe trip.
"Have you noticed that there is something queer about Agony lately?"
Migwan remarked to Gladys as she laid out her poncho on the tent floor
preparatory to rolling it.
"I haven't noticed it," replied Gladys, getting out needle and thread to
sew up a small rent in her bloomers. "What do you mean?"
"Why, I can't explain it exactly," continued Migwan, pausing in the act
of doubling back her blanket to fit the shape of the poncho, "but she's
different, somehow. She sits and stares out over the river sometimes for
half an hour at a stretch, and sometimes when you speak to her she gives
you an answer that shows she hasn't heard what you said."
"I _have_ noticed it, now that you speak of it," replied Gladys,
straightening up from her mending job to give Migwan a hand with the
poncho rolling. Then she added, "Maybe she's in love. Those are supposed
to be the symptoms, aren't they?"
"Gracious!" exclaimed Migwan in a startled tone. "Do you suppose that
can be what's the matter with her. I hadn't thought of that."
"It must be," said Gladys with a quaint air of wordly wisdom, and then
the two girls proceeded to forget Agony in the labor of rolling the
poncho up neatly and making it fast with a piece of rope tied in a
When Agony reached Gitchee-Gummee on her errand of packing, there was
Jo Severance waiting for her with a letter.
"Letter from Mary Sylvester," she called gaily, waving it over her head.
"It just came in the morning's mail and I haven't opened it yet. Thought
I'd bring it down and let you read it with me."
An icy hand seemed to clutch at Agony's heart, and she gazed at the
little white linen paper envelope as though it might contain a bomb.
Here was a danger she had not foreseen. Mary Sylvester, even though she
had left camp, corresponded with her bosom friend, Jo Severance, and
very naturally she might make some reference to the robin incident.
Agony gazed in fascinated silence as Jo opened the envelope with a nail
file in lieu of a paper cutter and spread out the pages. Little black
specks began to float before her eyes and she leaned against the bed to
steady herself for the blow which she felt in her prophetic soul was
coming. Jo, in her eagerness to read the letter, noticed nothing out of
the way in Agony's expression. Dropping down on the bed beside her she
began to read aloud:
"When I think of you and all the other dear people I
left behind me in camp it seems that I must fly right
back to Keewaydin. It still seems a dream, my coming
away so soon after arriving. I have done nothing but
rush around since, getting my things together. We are in
San Francisco now, and sail tonight." ...
So the letter ran for several pages--descriptions of things she had seen
on the trip west, and loving messages for her friends at Camp, and
closing with a hasty "Goodbye, Jo dear." Not a word about the robin. The
choking sensation in Agony's throat left her. Weak-kneed, she sank down
on the bed and lay back on the pillow, closing her eyes wearily.
Unnoticing, Jo departed to show the letter to the girls to whom Mary had
Agony lay very still, thinking. Even if Mary had not mentioned the robin
incident in this letter, she might in a later one; the danger was never
really over. And on the other hand, Jo Severance, dear Jo, who had
become so fond of Agony in the last few weeks, would certainly tell Mary
about the robin when she answered her letter. Jo had already written it
to her mother and to several friends, she had told her. Jo never grew
tired of talking about it, and displayed a touching pride in having
Agony for an intimate friend. Yes, without doubt Jo would write it to
Mary, and then Mary would write back and tell the truth. Agony grew hot
and cold by turns as she lay there thinking of the certainty of
exposure. What a blind fool she had been. If only she had told the story
the minute she got home that day, instead of keeping it to herself,
then the moment of temptation would never have come to her. If only Mary
hadn't been called away just then!
Could she still take the story back, she wondered, and tell it as it
really had been? Her heart sank at the thought and her pride cried out
against it. No, she could never stand the disgrace. But what if the
truth were to leak out through Mary--that would be infinitely worse. Her
thoughts went around in a torturing circle and brought her to no
decision. Should she make a clean breast of it now and have nothing more
to fear, or should she take a chance on Jo's never mentioning it to
While she was debating the question back and forth in her mind Bengal
Virden came running into the tent. Bengal was beginning to tag after
Agony as she had formerly tagged after Mary Sylvester. Agony often
caught the younger girl's eyes fastened upon her with an expression of
worship that fairly embarrassed her. It was the first real crush that a
younger girl had ever had on Agony, and although Agony laughed about it
to her friends, she still derived no small amount of satisfaction from
it, and had resolved to be a real influence for good to stout, fly-away
The girl came running in now with a leaf cup full of red, ripe
raspberries in her hand, and laid it in Agony's lap. "I picked them all
for you," she remarked, looking at Agony with an adoring gaze.
"Oh, thank you," said Agony, sitting up and fingering the tempting gift.
She selected a large ripe berry and put it into her mouth, giving an
involuntary exclamation of pleasure at the fine, rich flavor of the
fruit. This, she reflected, was the reward of popularity--the cream of
all good things from the hands of her admirers. Could she give it
up--could she bear to see their admiration turn to scorn?
"And Agony," begged Bengal, "may I have a lock of your hair to keep?"
The depths of adoration expressed in that request sent an odd thrill
through Agony. She knew then that she could not bear it to have Bengal
be disappointed in her; could not let her know that she was only posing
as a heroine. The die was cast. She would take her chance on no one's
ever finding it out.
Right after dinner the little voyaging party pushed out from the dock
and headed upstream; three canoes side by side with ponchos and
provisions stowed away under the seats, and the Winnebago banner
trailing from the stern of the "flagship," the one in which Miss
Amesbury rode, with Sahwah and Migwan as paddlers. Migwan and Hinpoha
had constructed the banner in record time that morning, giving up their
swimming hour to finish it. No Winnebago expedition should ever start
out without a banner flying; they would just as soon have gone without
their shoes. Oh-Pshaw waved them a brave farewell from the dock,
philosophically accepting the fact that she could not go in a canoe and
making no fuss about it.
Jo Severance, who had paddled up the river before, and knew its course
thoroughly, acted as guide and pilot. For the first night's camping
ground they were going to a place where Jo had camped on a former trip,
a place which she enthusiastically described as "just made for four beds
to be spread in." It had all the conveniences of home, she assured them;
a nearby spring for drinking water and a good place to swim, and what
more could anyone want!
By common consent they paddled slowly at the outset, wisely refraining
from exhausting their strength in the first mile or so, as is so apt to
be the case with inexperienced paddlers. The Winnebagos had paddled
together so often that it was unnecessary for them to count aloud to
keep together; the six paddles flashed and dipped as one in time to some
mysterious inner rhythm, sending the three canoes forward with a smooth,
even motion, and keeping their noses almost in a straight line across
"How beautifully you pull together!" exclaimed Miss Amesbury in
admiration, leaning back and watching the six brown arms rising and
falling in unison.
"We're used to pulling together," said Sahwah simply.
The boys from Camp Altamont were at their swimming hour when they
passed, and hailed them with great shouting, which they returned with a
camp cheer and a salute with the paddles. The red canoes were drawn up
in a line on the dock and Agony wondered which one it was that had made
the stealthy voyage to Camp Keewaydin the night before. This brought
back to her mind the subject of Jane Pratt, and she wondered if Jane had
really taken her seriously when she had demanded that she confess her
breaking of the camp rule; if Jane would really tell Mrs. Grayson
herself, or force her to inform upon her. It came over her rather
forcefully that she was not exactly in a position to be telling tales
about other deceivers--that she was in their class herself.
"Why so pensive?" inquired Miss Amesbury brightly, as Agony paddled
along in silence, looking straight ahead of her and paying no attention
to the gay conversation going on all about her.
Agony collected herself and smiled brightly at Miss Amesbury. "I was
just thinking," she replied composedly. "Did I look glum? I was
wondering if I had put my toothbrush in my poncho, I forgot it on our
Miss Amesbury laughed and said, "You funny child," and thought her more
entertaining than ever.
Up beyond Camp Altamont lay a number of small islands and beyond these
the river began to bend and twist in numerous eccentric curves; the
woods that bordered it grew denser, the banks swampy. Signs of human
occupation disappeared; there were no more camps; no more cottages.
Great willow trees grew close to the water's edge, five and six trunks
coming out of a single root, the drooping branches sweeping the surface
of the river. In places rotting logs lay half submerged in the water,
looking oddly like alligators in the distance. Usually there would be a
turtle sunning himself on the dry end of the log, who craned his neck
inquisitively at them as they swept by, as if wondering what strange
variety of fish they were. Hinpoha tried to catch one for a mascot,
"because he would look so epic tied to the back of our canoe, swimming
along behind us," but finally gave it up as a bad job, for none of the
turtles seemed to share her enthusiasm over the idea, sinking out of
sight at the first preliminaries of adoption. In places the banks, where
they were not low and swampy, were perforated like honeycombs with holes
some three inches in diameter.
"Oh, what are they?" asked Agony in surprise. "All snake holes?"
"Bank swallows," replied Sahwah. "They make their nests in the mud along
river banks that way, until the banks are perfect honeycombs. I don't
see how each one knows his own nest; they all look alike to me."
"Maybe they're all numbered in bird language," remarked Miss Amesbury,
in her delightfully humorous way.
The scenery grew wilder and wilder as they glided forward and the talk
gradually became hushed into a half awed contemplation of the wilderness
which closed about them.
"I feel as if I were on some great exploring expedition," exclaimed
Sahwah. "Everything looks so new and undiscovered. I wish there was
something left to discover," she continued plaintively. "It's so
discouraging to think that there's nothing more for explorers to do in
this country. What fun it must have been for La Salle and Pere Marquette
and Lewis and Clark to find those big rivers that no white man had ever
seen before, and go poking about in the wilderness. That was the great
and only sport; everything else is tame and flat beside it. I'll never
get done envying those early explorers; how I wish I could have been
"But Sahwah, girls didn't go on long exploring journeys," Gladys
interrupted quietly. "They couldn't have borne the hardships."
"Couldn't they?" Sahwah flashed out quickly. "How about Sacajawea, I'd
like to know?"
"Goodness, who was she?" asked Gladys.
"The Indian woman who went with Lewis and Clark on their expedition to
the Columbia River," replied Sahwah with that tone of animation in her
voice which was always present when she spoke of someone whom she
admired greatly. "Her husband was the interpreter whom Lewis and Clark
took along to talk to the Indians for them, and Sacajawea went with the
expedition too, to act as guide, because she knew the Shoshone country.
She traveled the whole five thousand miles with them and carried her
baby on her back all the while. Lewis and Clark both said afterwards
that if it hadn't been for her they wouldn't have been able to make the
journey. When there wasn't any meat to eat she knew enough to dig in the
prairie dogs' holes for the artichokes which they'd stored up for the
winter; and she knew which herbs and berries were fit for food. And on
one occasion she saved the most valuable part of the supplies they were
carrying, when her stupid husband had managed to upset the boat they
were being carried in. While he stood wringing his hands and calling on
heaven for help she set to work fishing out the papers and instruments
and medicines that had gone overboard, and without which the expedition
could not have proceeded. She tramped for hundreds of miles, over hills
and through valleys, finding the narrow trails that only the Indians
knew, undergoing all the hardships that the men did and never
complaining or growing discouraged. On the contrary, she cheered up the
men when _they_ got discouraged. Now, do you say that a woman can't go
exploring as well as a man?"
Sahwah's eyes were sparkling, her cheeks glowed red under their coat of
tan, and she was all excitement. The blood of the explorer flowed in her
veins; her inheritance from hardy ancestors who had hewn their way
through trackless forests to found a new home in the wilderness; and the
very mention of exploring set her pulses to leaping wildly. Far back in
Sahwah's ancestry there was a strain of Indian blood, which, although it
had not been apparent in many of the descendents, had seemed to come
into its own in this twentieth century daughter of the Brewsters. Not in
looks especially, for Sahwah's hair was brown and not black, and fine
and soft as silk, and her features were delicately modeled; yet there
was something about her different from the other girls of her
acquaintance, something elusive and puzzling, which, for a better name
her intimates had called her "Laughing Water" expression. Then, too,
there was her passionate love for the woods and for all wild creatures,
and the almost uncanny way in which birds and chipmunks would come to
her even though they fled in terror at the approach of the other
Winnebagos. Was it any wonder that Robert Allison, seeing her for the
first time, should have exclaimed involuntarily, "Minnehaha, Laughing
Thus Sahwah was in her element paddling up this lonely river winding
through unfamiliar forests, and in her vivid imagination she was
Sacajawea, accompanying Lewis and Clark on their famous exploring
expedition; and the gentle Onawanda turned into the mighty rolling
Columbia, and the friendly pine woods with its border of willows became
the trackless forest of the unknown northwest.
Late in the afternoon Jo Severance suddenly cried out, "Here we are!"
and called out to the paddlers to head the canoes toward the shore.
Glad to stretch their limbs after the long afternoon of sitting in the
canoes, the Winnebagos sprang out on to the rocks which lined the
water's edge, and drew the boats up after them. The place was, as Jo had
promised, seemingly made for them to camp in. High and dry above the
stream, sheltered by great towering pine trees, covered with a thick
carpet of pine needles, this little woodland chamber opened in the dense
tangle of underbrush which everywhere else grew up between the trees in
a heavy tangle. Down near the shore a clear little spring went tinkling
down into the river.
"Oh, what a cozy, cozy place!" exclaimed Migwan. "I never thought of
being cozy in the woods before--it's always been so wide and airy. This
is like your own bedroom, screened in this way with the bushes."
"We'd better get the ponchos unrolled and the beds made up before we
start supper," said Sahwah briskly, getting down to business
immediately, as usual. The others agreed with alacrity, for they were
ravenously hungry from the long paddle and anxious to get at supper as
soon as possible.
When they came to lay the ponchos down, however, there was something in
the way. The whole narrow plot of smooth ground where they had expected
to lay them was covered with evening primroses in full blossom, the
fragile yellow blooms standing there so trustfully that they aroused the
sympathy of the Winnebagos.
"It's such a pity to crush them under the beds," said tender hearted
Migwan. "I'm sure I couldn't sleep if I knew I was killing such brave
The other Winnebagos stood around with their ponchos in their arms,
uncertain what to do, loath to be the death of these cheery little wild
things, yet unable to see how they could help it.
"Isn't there some other place where we can camp, Jo," asked Migwan, "and
let these blossoms live? It seems such a pity to crush them."
Miss Amesbury turned and looked at Migwan with a keen searching glance
which caused her to drop her eyes in sudden embarrassment.
Jo took up Migwan's suggestion readily, though disappointed that they
were not to stay in her favorite place. "I think we can find another
spot," she said, and moved toward the canoes.
Tired and hungry, but perfectly willing to give up the desired spot to
save the flowers, the Winnebagos launched out once more, and after
paddling for half a mile found another camping ground equally desirable,
though not as cozy as the first had been. There was more room here, and
the ponchos were laid down without having to sacrifice any flowers.
The sun had set prematurely behind a high bank of gray clouds during the
last paddle up the river and there were no rosy sunset glows to reflect
on the water and diffuse light into the woods, where a grey twilight had
already fallen. There was enough driftwood along the shore to build the
fires, and these were soon shining out cheerily through the gathering
gloom, while an appetizing odor of coffee and frying bacon filled the
The girls lingered long around the fire after supper listening to Miss
Amesbury telling tales of her various travels until one by one the logs
fell apart and glimmered out into blackness. "And now," said Miss
Amesbury, "let's sing one good night song and then roll into bed. We
want to be up early in the morning and continue our voyage. There's a
heap of 'exploraging' for us to do."
Some time during the night Sahwah was aroused by a gentle pattering
noise on her rubber poncho. "It's raining!" she exclaimed to Hinpoha,
her sleeping partner.
Hinpoha stirred and murmured drowsily and immediately lay still again.
"It's raining _hard_!" cried Sahwah, now wide awake.
One by one the others began to realize what was happening, and burrowed
down under their ponchos, only to emerge a few moments later half
"Everybody lie still," called Sahwah, "and keep your blankets covered.
Hinpoha and I will go out and bring up canoes for shelters."
As she spoke she reached for her bathing suit, which was down under the
poncho, and wriggled into it. Hinpoha, still half asleep, but
mechanically obeying Sahwah's energetic directions, got into her bathing
suit and wriggled out of the bed, drawing the poncho up over her pillow
The two sped down to the shore, where the canoes were drawn up on the
rocks, and hastily turning one over sideways and packing all their
provisions under it, they carried the other two back to the camping
ground and inverted them over the head-ends of the beds, their ends
propped up on stones, where, tilted back at an angle which shed the
water off backward, they made an admirable shelter. Underneath these
solid umbrellas the pillows of the girls were as dry as though indoors,
and the ponchos protected the blankets. Let the rain come down as hard
as it liked, these babes in the wood were snug and warm. As though
accepting their challenge to get them wet, the drops came thicker and
faster, until they pounded down in a perfect torrent, making a merry din
on the canoes as they fell.
"It sounds as if they were saying, 'We'll get you yet, we'll get you
yet, we'll get you yet,'" exclaimed Migwan.
Sahwah and Hinpoha, snugly rolled in once more, began to sing "How dry I
am." The others took it up, and soon the woods rang with the taunting
song of the Winnebagos to the Rain Bird, who replied with a heavier gush
than ever. Thunder began to crash overhead, lightning flashed all about
them, the great pines tossed and roared like the sea. But the
Winnebagos, undismayed, made merry over the storm, and gradually dropped
off to sleep again, lulled by the pattering of the raindrops.
In the morning the rain was still falling, rather to their dismay, for
they had expected that the storm would soon pass over. The thunder and
lightning had ceased, the wind had subsided, and the rain had turned
into a steady downpour that looked as if it meant to last all day.
"We'll have to find or build a shelter," remarked Sahwah, thrusting her
head, turtle like, from under the edge of the canoe and scanning the
heavens with a calculating eye. "This is a regular three days' rain. Who
wants to come with me and see if we can find a cave? I have an idea
there must be one among the rocks on the hillside just farther on. Who
wants to come with me?"
"I'll come!" cried Hinpoha and Jo and Agony and Katherine all in a
breath. Cramped from lying still so long, they welcomed the prospect of
exercise, even in the early morning rain.
Leaving Migwan and Gladys to keep Miss Amesbury company, the five set
out into the streaming woods, and Katherine and Hinpoha and Sahwah came
back half an hour later to report that they had found a cave and Jo and
Agony had stayed there to build a fire.
"Fire, that sounds good to me," remarked Gladys, shivering a little as
she got into her damp bathing suit and drew her heavy sweater over it.
Carrying the beds, still wrapped up in the ponchos, the little
procession wound through the woods under the guidance of the returned
scouts. The guides were not needed long, however, for soon a heart
warming odor of frying bacon came to meet them, and with a world-old
instinct each one followed her nose toward it.
"Did anything ever smell so good?" exclaimed Hinpoha, breathing in the
fragrant air in long drawn sniffs.
"Those blessed angels!" was all Miss Amesbury could say.
A moment later they stepped out of the wet woods into the cheeriest
scene imaginable. In the side of a steep hill which rose not far from
the river there opened a good sized cave, and just inside its doorway
burned a bright fire, lighting up the interior with its ruddy glow. On a
smaller fire beside it a pan of bacon was sizzling merrily, and over
another hung a pot of steaming coffee. To the eyes of the wet, chilly
campers, it was the most beautiful scene they had ever looked upon. They
sprang to the large fire and toasted themselves in its grateful warmth
while they held up their clothes to dry before putting them on.
"Thoughtful people, to build us an extra fire," said Miss Amesbury,
stretching out luxuriously on the blanket Migwan had spread for her.
"We knew you'd want to warm up a bit," replied Agony, removing the
coffee pot from the blaze and beginning to pour the steaming liquid into
"How did you ever make a fire at all?" inquired Miss Amesbury. "Every
bit of wood must be soaked through."
"We dug down into a big pine stump," replied Agony, "or rather, Sahwah
did, for I didn't know enough to, and got us some dry chips to start the
fire with, and then we kept drying other pieces until they could burn.
Once we got that big log started we were all right. It's as hot as a
"What a difference fire does make!" said Miss Amesbury. "What dreary,
dispirited people we'd be by this time if it were not for this cheering
blaze. I'd be perfectly content to stay here all day if I had to."
Miss Amesbury had ample opportunity to test the depth of her content,
for the rain showed no sign of abating. Hour after hour it poured down
steadily as though it had forgotten how to stop. A dense mist rose on
the river which gradually spread through the woods until the trees
loomed up like dim spectres standing in menacing attitudes before the
door of their little rocky chamber. Warm and dry inside, the Winnebagos
made the best of their unexpected situation and whiled away the hours
with games, stories, and "improving conversation," as Jo Severance
"I've just invented a new game," announced Migwan, when the talk had run
for some time on famous women of various times.
"What is it?" asked Hinpoha, pausing with a half washed potato in her
hand. Hinpoha and Gladys were putting the potatoes into the hot ashes to
bake them for dinner.
"Why, it's this," said Migwan. "Let each one of us in turn tell some
incident that took place in the girlhood of a famous woman, the one we
admire the most, and see if the others can guess who she is."
"All right, you begin, Migwan," said Sahwah.
"No, you begin, Sahwah. It's my game, so I'll be last."
Sahwah sat chin in hand for a moment, and then she began: "I see a
long, low house built of bark and branches, thickly covered with snow.
It is one of the 'long houses', or winter quarters of the Algonquins,
and none other than the Chief's own house. Inside is a council chamber
and in it a pow-wow of chiefs is going on. The other half of the house,
which is not used as a council chamber, is used as the living room by
the family, and here a number of children are playing a lively game. In
the midst of the racket the door opens and in comes one of the chief's
runners. As he advances toward the council chamber a young girl comes
whirling down the room turning handsprings. Her feet strike him full in
the chest, and send him flat on his back on the floor. A great roar of
laughter goes up from the braves and squaws sitting around the room, for
the girl who has knocked the runner down is none other than the chief's
own daughter. But the old chief says sadly, 'Why will you be such a
tomboy, my child?'"
"Tomboy, tomboy!" cry all the others, using the Algonquin word for that
nickname. "Who is my girl, and what is her nickname?"
"That's easy," laughed Migwan, "Who but Pocahontas?"
"Was 'Pocahantas' just a nickname?" asked Hinpoha curiously.
"Yes," replied Migwan. "'Pocahontas', or 'pocahuntas', is the Algonquin
word for 'tomboy'. The real name of Powhatan's daughter was Ma-ta-oka,
but she was known ever after the incident Sahwah just related as
"I never heard of that incident," said Hinpoha, "but I might have
guessed that Sahwah would take Pocahontas for hers."
"Now you, Agony," said Migwan.
"I see a young girl," began Agony, "tending her flocks in the valley of
the Meuse. She is sitting under a large beech, which the children of the
village have named the 'Fairy Tree.' As she sits there her face takes on
a rapt look; she sits very still, like one in a trance, for her eyes are
looking upon a remarkable sight. She seems to see a shining figure
standing before her; an angel with a flaming sword. She falls upon her
knees and covers her face with her hands, and when she looks up again
the vision is gone and only the tree is left, with the church beyond
"Joan of Arc!" cried three or four voices at once.
"O, _how_ I wish I were she!" finished Agony fervently. "What a life of
excitement she must have led! Think of the stirring times she must have
had in the army!"
"I envy her all but the stake; I couldn't have borne that," said Sahwah.
"Now you, Gladys."
"I see a young English girl, fourteen years old, dressed in the costume
of Tudor England, stealing out of Westminster Palace with the boy king
of England, Edward the Sixth. Free from the tiresome lords and
ladies-in-waiting who were always at their heels in the palace, they
have a gorgeous time wandering about the streets of London until by
chance they meet one of the royal household, and are hustled back to the
palace in short order."
"Poor Lady Jane Grey!" said Migwan. "I'm glad I wasn't in her shoes. I'm
glad I'm not in any royalty's shoes. With all their pomp and splendor
they never have half the fun we're having at this minute," she continued
vehemently. "They never went off on a hike by themselves and slept on
the ground with their heads under a canoe. It's lots nicer to be free,
even if you _are_ a nobody."
"I think so too," Sahwah agreed with her emphatically.
"My girl," said Jo, in her turn, "was crowned queen at the age of nine
months and betrothed to the King of France when she was five years old.
That's all I know about her early days, except that she had four
intimate friends all named Mary."
"Mary, Queen of Scots," guessed Gladys, who was taking a history course
in college. "Somehow I never could get up much sympathy for her; she