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´╗┐Title: The Camp Fire Girls at Camp Keewaydin - Or, Paddles Down
Author: Frey, Hildegard G. (Hildegard Gertrude), 1891-1957
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "The Camp Fire Girls at Camp Keewaydin - Or, Paddles Down" ***

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KEEWAYDIN***


The Camp Fire Girls At Camp Keewaydin

Or, Down Paddles

By Hildegard G. Frey



CHAPTER I


ON THE WAY

"All aboard!" The hoarse voice of Captain MacLaren boomed out like a fog
horn, waking a clatter of echoes among the tall cliffs on the opposite
shore of the river, and sending the seventy-five girls on the dock all
skurrying for the _Carribou's_ gangplank at once.

"Hurry up, Hinpoha! We're getting left behind." Agony strained forward
on the suitcase she was helping Hinpoha to carry down the hill and
endeavored to catch up with the crowd, a proceeding which she soon
acknowledged to be impossible, for Hinpoha, rendered breathless by the
hasty scramble from the train, lagged farther behind with every step.

"I--can't--go--any--faster!" she panted, and abruptly let go of her end
of the suitcase to fan herself with her hand. "What's the use of
rushing so, anyway?" she demanded plaintively. "They won't go off
without us; they can see us coming down the hill. It wasn't _my_ fault
that my camera got wedged under the seat and made us be the last ones
off the train," she continued, "and I'm not going to run down this hill
and go sprawling, like I did in the elevator yesterday. Are the other
girls on already?" she asked, searching the crowd below with her eyes
for a sight of the other Winnebagos.

"Sahwah and Oh-Pshaw are on the boat already," replied Agony, "and Gladys
and Migwan are just getting on. I don't see Katherine anywhere, however.
Oh, yes," she exclaimed, "there she is down there in the crowd. What are
they all laughing at, I wonder? Oh, look, Katherine's suitcase has come
open, and all her things are spilled out on the dock. I thought it would
be strange if she made the trip without some kind of a mishap. Oh, dear,
did you ever see anyone so funny as Katherine?"

"Well," observed Hinpoha in a tone of relief, "we don't have to hurry
now. It'll take them at least ten minutes to get that suitcase shut
again. I know, because I helped Katherine pack. I had to sit on it with
all my might to close it."

"_All Aboard_!" came the second warning roar from Captain MacLaren,
accompanied by a deafening blast of the _Carribou's_ whistle. Agony
picked up Hinpoha's suitcase in one hand and her own in the other, and
with an urgent "Come on!" made a dash down the remainder of the hill and
landed breathless at the gangplank of the waiting steamer just as the
engine began to quiver into motion. Hinpoha was just behind her, and
Katherine trod closely upon Hinpoha's heels, carrying her still unclosed
suitcase out before her like a tray, to keep its contents from spilling
out.

Migwan was waiting for them at the head of the gangplank. "We've saved a
place for you up in the bow," she said. "Hurry up, we're having _such_ a
time holding it for you. The boat is simply _packed_."

The four girls picked their way through a litter of suitcases, paddles,
cameras, tennis rackets and musical instruments that covered every inch
of deck space between the chairs, and joined the other Winnebagos in
their place in the bow. Hinpoha sank down gratefully upon a deck chair
that Oh-Pshaw had obligingly been holding for her and Agony disposed
herself upon a pile of suitcases, from which vantage point she could get
a good look at the crowd.

The _Carribou_ had turned her nose about and was gliding smoothly
upstream, following the random curvings of the lazy Onawanda as it wound
through the low-lying, wooded hills of the Shenandawah country, singing
a carefree wanderer's song as it flowed. It was a glorious, balmy day in
late June, dazzlingly blue and white, sparklingly golden. It was the
_Carribou's_ big day of the year, that last day of June. On all other
days she made her run demurely from Lower Falls Station to Upper Falls,
carrying freight and a handful of passengers on each trip; but every
year on that last day of June freight and ordinary passengers stood
aside, for the _Carribou_ was chartered to carry the girls of Camp
Keewaydin to their summer hunting grounds.

The Winnebagos looked around with interest at the girls who were to be
their companions for the summer, all as yet total strangers to them.
Girls of every shape and size, of every shade of complexion, of every
age between sixteen and twenty. A number were apparently "old girls,"
who had been at Camp Keewaydin in former years; they flocked together in
the bow right behind the Winnebagos, chattering animatedly, singing
snatches of camp songs, and uttering conjectures in regard to such
things as whether they would be in the Alley or the Avenue; and who was
going to be councilor in All Saints this year.

A number of these old girls were grouped in an adoring attitude around a
pretty young woman who talked constantly in an animated tone, and at
intervals strummed on a ukulele. Continual cries of "Pom-pom!" rose on
the air from the circle surrounding her. It was "_Dear_ Pom-pom,"
"Pom-pom, you angel," "O _darling_ Pom-pom! Can't you fix it so that I
can be in your tent this year?" and much more in the same strain.

"Pom-pom is holding her court again this year, I see," said a biting
voice just behind Agony.

Agony maneuvered herself around on her perch and glanced down at the
speaker. She was a decidedly plain girl with a thick nose and a wide
mouth set in a grim line above an extraordinarily heavy chin. Her face
was turned partly away as she spoke to the girl next to her, but Agony
caught a glimpse of the sarcastic expression which informed her
features, and a little chill of dislike went through her. Agony was
extremely susceptible to first impressions of people.

The girl addressed made an inaudible reply and the first girl continued
in low but emphatic tones, "Well, you won't catch me fetching and
carrying for her and playing the part of the adoring slave, I can tell
you. I think it's perfectly silly, the way the girls all get a crush on
her."

There was a pause, and then the other girl asked, somewhat hastily, "Who
do you suppose will get the Buffalo Robe this year?"

"Oh, Mary Sylvester will, of course," came the reply. "She nearly got it
last year. Now that Peggy Atterbury isn't coming back Mary'll be the
most popular girl in camp without a doubt. Look at her over there,
trying to be sweet to Pom-pom."

"Isn't she stunning in that coral silk sweater?" murmured the other
girl.

"She has too much color to wear that shade of pink," returned the
sarcastic one.

Agony's eyes traveled over to the group surrounding Pom-pom and rested
upon the girl who, next to Pom-pom herself, was the center of the group.
She was very much like Agony herself, with intensely black hair, snow
white forehead and richly red lips, though a little slighter in build
and somewhat taller. A frank friendliness beamed from her clear dark
eyes and her smile was warm and sincere. Agony felt drawn to her and
jealous of her at the same time. _The most popular girl in camp_. That
was the title Agony coveted with all her soul. To be prominent; to be
popular, was Agony's chief aim in life; and to be pointed out in a crowd
as _the_ most popular girl seemed the one thing in the world most
desirable to her. She, too, would be prominent and popular, she
resolved; she, too, would be pointed out in the crowd.

The sarcastic voice again broke in upon her reverie. "Have you seen the
hippopotamus over there in the bow? I should think a girl would be
ashamed to get that stout."

Agony glanced apprehensively at Hinpoha, who was staring straight out
over the water, but whose crimson face betrayed only too plainly that
she had heard the remark. The rest of the Winnebagos had undoubtedly
heard it also, as well as a number of others rubbing elbows with them,
for a sudden embarrassed silence fell over that corner of the boat and a
dozen pairs of eyes glanced from Hinpoha to the speaker, who, not one
whit abashed, continued to stare scornfully at the object of her
ridicule.

"Of all the bad manners!" said Agony to Sahwah in an indignant
undertone, which, with the characteristic penetrating quality of Agony's
voice, carried perfectly to the ears of the girl behind her. A light,
satirical laugh was the reply. Agony turned to bestow a withering glance
upon this rude creature, and met a pair of greenish tan eyes bent upon
her with an expression of cool mockery. In the instant that their eyes
met there sprang up between them one of those sudden antagonisms that
are characteristic of very positive natures; the two hated each other
cordially at first sight, before they had ever spoken a word to each
other. Like fencers' swords their glances crossed and fell apart, and
each girl turned her back pointedly upon the other. Broken threads of
conversation were picked up by the group around them, shouts of laughter
came from the group surrounding Pom-pom, who was reciting a funny poem,
and the tense moment passed.

The other Winnebagos forgot the incident and gave themselves over to
enjoyment of the beautiful scene which was unrolling before their eyes
as the _Carribou_ bore them further and further into the wilds; great
dark stretches of woodland brooding in silence on the hillsides; an
occasional glimpse of a far distant mountain peak wreathed in mist, and
near by many a merry little stream romping down a hillside into the
mother arms of the Onawanda. Gradually the shores had drawn close
together until the travelers could look into the cool depths of the
forests past which they were gliding, and could hear the calling of the
wild birds in their leafy sanctuary.

Just past a long stretch of woods which Hinpoha thought might be
enchanted, because the trees stood so stiffly straight, the _Carribou_
rounded a bend, and there flashed into sight an irregular row of white
tents scattered among the pines on a rise of ground some hundred or more
feet back from the river.

"There's camp," Sahwah tried to say to Hinpoha, but her voice was
drowned in the shriek of ecstasy which rose from the old campers.
Handkerchiefs waved wildly; paddles smote the deck with deafening
thumps; cheer after cheer rolled up, accompanied by the loud tooting of
the _Carribou's_ whistle. Captain MacLaren always joined in the racket
of arrival as heartily as the girls themselves, taking delight in seeing
how much noise he could coax from the throat of his steam siren.

Amid the racket the little vessel nosed her way up alongside a wooden
dock, and before she was fairly fast the younger members of last year's
delegation had leapt over the rail and were scurrying up the path. The
older ones followed more sedately, having stopped to pick up their
luggage, and to greet the camp directors who stood on the dock with
welcoming hands outstretched. Last of all came the new girls, looking
about them inquiringly, and already beginning to fall in love with the
place.



CHAPTER II

GETTING SETTLED


Along the bluff overlooking the river, and half buried in the pine
trees, stretched a long, low, rustic building, the pillars of whose wide
piazza were made of tree trunks with the bark left on. A huge chimney
built of cobblestones almost covered the one end. The great pines
hovered over it protectingly; their branches caressing its roof as they
waved gently to and fro in the light breeze. On the peak of one of its
gables a little song sparrow, head tilted back and body a-tremble,
trilled forth an ecstasy of song.

"Isn't it be-yoo-tiful?" sighed Hinpoha, her artistic soul delighting in
the lovely scene before her. "I wonder what that house is for?"

"I don't know," replied Sahwah, equally enchanted. "There's another
house behind it, farther up on the hill."

This second house was much larger than the bungalow overhanging the
water's edge; it, too, was built in rustic fashion, with tree-trunks for
porch posts; it was long and rambling, and had an additional story at
the back, where the hill sloped away.

It was into this latter house that the crowd of girls was pouring, and
the Winnebagos, following the others, found themselves in a large dining
room, open on three sides to the veranda, and screened all around the
open space. On the fourth side was an enormous fireplace built of stones
like those they had seen in the chimney of the other house. Over its
wide stone shelf were the words CAMP KEEWAYDIN traced in small,
glistening blue pebbles in a cement panel. Although the day was hot, a
small fire of paper and pine knots blazed on the hearth, crackling a
cheery welcome to the newcomers as they entered. In the center of the
room two long tables and a smaller one were set for dinner, and from the
regions below came the appetizing odor of meat cooking, accompanied by
the portentous clatter of an egg beater.

There was apparently an attic loft above the dining-room, for next to
the chimney a square opening showed in the raftered ceiling, with a
ladder leading up through it, fastened against the wall below. Up this
ladder a dozen or more of the younger girls scrambled as soon as they
entered the room; laughing, shrieking, tumbling over each other in their
haste; and after a moment of thumping and bouncing about, down they all
came dancing, clad in middies and bloomers, and raced, whooping like
Indians, down the path which led to the tents.

"Are we supposed to get into our bloomers right away?" Oh-Pshaw
whispered to Agony. "Ours are in the trunk, and it hasn't been brought
up yet."

"I don't believe we are," Agony returned, watching Mary Sylvester, who
stood talking to Pom-pom in the doorway of the Camp Director's office.
"None of the older girls are doing it; just the youngsters."

Just then Mrs. Grayson, the Camp Director's wife, came out of the office
and announced that dinner would be served immediately, after which the
tent assignments would be made. The Winnebagos found themselves seated
in a row down the side of one of the long tables, being served by a
jolly-looking, muscular-armed councilor, who turned out to be the Camp
Director's daughter, and who had her section of the table feeling at
home in no time.

"Seven of you from one city!" she remarked to the Winnebagos, when she
had called the roll of "native heaths," as she put it. "That's one of
the largest delegations we have here. You all look like star campers,
too," she added, sizing them up shrewdly. "Seven stars!" she repeated,
evidently pleased with her simile. "We'll have to call you the Pleiades.
We already have the Nine Muses from New York, the Twelve Apostles from
Boston, the Heavenly Twins from Chicago and the Three Graces from
Minneapolis, beside the Lone Wolf from Labrador, the Kangaroo from
Australia, and the Elephant's Child from India."

"Oh, how delicious!" cried Sahwah delightedly. "Do you really mean that
there are girls here from Australia and India?" Sahwah set down her
water glass and gazed incredulously at Miss Judith. Miss Judith nodded
over the pudding she was dishing up.

"The Kangaroo and the Lone Wolf are councilors," she replied, "but the
Elephant's Child is a girl, the daughter of a missionary to India. She
goes to boarding school here in America in the winter time, and always
spends her summers at our camp. That is she, sitting at the end of the
other table, next to mother."

The Winnebagos glanced with quick interest to see what the girl from
India might be like, and somewhat to their surprise saw that she was no
different from the others. They recognized her as one of the younger
girls who had been hanging over Pom-pom on the boat.

"Oh--she!" breathed Agony.

"What is her name?" asked Hinpoha, feeling immensely drawn to the girl,
not because she came from India, but because she was even stouter than
herself.

"Her name is Bengal Virden," replied Miss Judith.

"Bengal?" repeated Sahwah. "What an odd name. I suppose she was born in
Bengal?"

"Yes, she was born there," replied Miss Judith. "She is a rather odd
child," she continued, "but an all round good sport. Her mother died
when she was small and she was brought up by her father until she was
old enough to be sent to America, and since then she has divided her
time between boarding schools and summer camps. She has a very
affectionate nature, and gets tremendous crushes on the people she
likes. Last summer it was Pom-pom, and she nearly wore her out with her
adoration, although Pom-pom likes that sort of thing."

"Who is Pom-pom?" asked Agony curiously. "I have heard her name
mentioned so many times."

"Pom-pom is our dancing teacher," replied Miss Judith. "She is the
pretty councilor over there at the lower end of mother's table. All the
girls get violent crushes on her," she continued, looking the Winnebagos
over with a quizzical eye, as if to say that it would only be a short
time before they, too, would be lying at Pom-pom's feet, another band of
adoring slaves. Without knowing why, Agony suddenly felt unaccountably
foolish under Miss Judith's keen glance, and taking her eyes from
Pom-pom, she let them rove leisurely over the long line of girls at her
own table.

"Who is the girl sitting third from the end on this side?" she asked,
indicating the heavy-jawed individual who had made the impolite remark
on the boat about Hinpoha, and who had just now pushed back her pudding
dish with an emphatic movement after tasting one spoonful, and had
turned to her neighbor with a remark which made the one addressed
glance uncomfortably toward the councilor who was serving that section.

Miss Judith followed Agony's glance. "That," she replied in a
non-committal tone, "is Jane Pratt. Will anyone have any more pudding?"

The pudding was delicious--chocolate with custard sauce--and Miss Judith
was immediately busy refilling a half dozen dishes all proffered her at
once. Agony made a mental note that Miss Judith had made no comment
whatever upon Jane Pratt, although she had evidently been in camp the
year before, and she drew her own conclusions about Jane's popularity.

"Who is Mary Sylvester?" Agony asked presently.

"Mary Sylvester," repeated Miss Judith in a tone which caught the
attention of all the Winnebagos, it was so full of affection. "Mary
Sylvester is the salt of the earth," Miss Judith continued warmly.
"She's the brightest, loveliest, most kind-hearted girl I've ever met,
and I've met a good many. She can't help being popular; she's as jolly
as she is pretty, and as unassuming as she is talented. For an all
around good camper 'we will never see her equal, though we search the
whole world through,' as the camp song runs."

Agony looked over to where Mary Sylvester sat, the center of an animated
group, and yearned with all her heart to be so prominent and so much
noticed.

"I heard someone on the boat say that she would probably get the Buffalo
Robe this year; that she had almost gotten it last year," continued
Agony. "What is the Buffalo Robe, please?"

"The Buffalo Robe," replied Miss Judith, "is a large leather skin upon
which the chief events of each camping season are painted in colors, and
at the end of the summer it goes to the girl who is voted the most
popular. She keeps it through the winter and returns it to us when camp
opens the next year."

"Oh-h," breathed Agony, mightily interested. "And who got it last year?"

"Peggy Atterbury," said Miss Judith. "You'll hear all about her before
very long. All the old girls are going to tie black ribbons on their
tent poles tomorrow morning because she isn't coming back this year. She
was another rare spirit like Mary Sylvester, only a bit more prominent,
because she saved a girl from drowning one day."

Agony's heart swelled with ambition and desire as she listened to Miss
Judith telling about the Buffalo Robe. A single consuming desire burned
in her soul--to win that Buffalo Robe. Nothing else mattered now; no
other laurel she might possibly win held out any attraction; she must
carry off the great honor. She would show Nyoda what a great quality of
leadership she possessed; there would be no question of Nyoda's making
her a Torch Bearer when she came home with the Buffalo Robe. Thus her
imagination soared until she pictured herself laying the significant
trophy at Nyoda's feet and heard Nyoda's words of congratulation. A
sudden doubt assailed her in the midst of her dream.

"Do new girls ever win the Buffalo Robe?" she asked in a voice which she
tried hard to make sound disinterested.

"Yes, certainly," replied Miss Judith. "Peggy Atterbury was a new girl
last year, and the girl who won it the year before last was a new girl
also."

Her doubt thus removed, Agony returned to her pleasant day dream with
greater longing than ever. The conversation at their table was
interrupted by shouts from the next group.

"Oh, Miss Judy, please, please, can't we live in the Alley?"

Another group farther down the table took up the cry, and the room
echoed with clamorous requests to live either "in the Alley" or "on the
Avenue." The Elephant's Child came in at the end with a fervent plea:
"Please, can't I be in Pom-pom's tent _this_ year?"

"Tent lists are all made out," replied Miss Judith blandly. "You'll all
find out in a few moments where you're to be." She sat calmly amid the
buzz of excited speculation.

"What do they mean by living 'in the Alley'?" asked Sahwah curiously.

"There are two rows of tents," replied Miss Judith. "The first one is
called the Avenue and the second one the Alley. This end of camp, where
the bungalows are, is known as the Heights, and the other end the Flats.
There is always a great rivalry in camp between the dwellers in the
Alley and the dwellers on the Avenue, and the two compete for the
championship in sports."

"Oh, how jolly!" cried Sahwah eagerly. "Where are we to be?" she
continued, filled with a sudden burning desire to live in the Alley.

"You'll know soon," said Miss Judith, with another one of her quizzical
smiles, and with that the Winnebagos had to be content.

In a few moments dinner was finished and Mrs. Grayson rose and read the
tent assignments. The tents all had names, it appeared; there was Bedlam
and Avernus, Jabberwocky, Hornets, Nevermore, Gibraltar, Tamaracks,
Fairview, Woodpeckers, Ravens, All Saints, Aloha, and a number of others
which the Winnebagos could not remember at one hearing. Three girls and
one councilor were assigned to each tent. Sahwah and Agony and Hinpoha
heard themselves called to go to Gitchee-Gummee; Gladys and Migwan were
put with Bengal Virden, the Elephant's Child from India, into a tent
called Ponemah; while Katherine and Oh-Pshaw were assigned, without any
tentmate, to "Bedlam." The Winnebagos smiled involuntarily when this
last assignment was read, knowing how well Katherine's erratic nature
befitted the name of the place. Gitchee-Gummee, Sahwah found to her
delight, was the tent nearest the woods; next to it, but on the other
side of a small gully, spanned by a rustic bridge, came Aloha, Pom-pom's
tent; on the other side of Aloha stood Ponemah, in the shadow of twin
pines of immense height; while Bedlam was farther along in the same row,
just beyond Avernus. Avernus, the Winnebagos noticed to their amusement,
was a tent pitched in a deep hollow, the approach to which was a rocky
passage down a steep hillside, strikingly suggestive of the classical
entrance way to the nether regions. Only the ridgepole of Avernus was
visible from the level upon which Bedlam stood, all the rest of it being
hidden by the high rocks which surround it. Bedlam, on the other hand,
was built on a height, and commanded a view of nearly all the other
tents, being itself a conspicuous object in the landscape.

To their secret joy, the Winnebagos saw that their tents were all in the
back row, in the Alley. Agony, especially, was exultant, since she saw
that Mary Sylvester was also in the Alley. Mary was in Aloha, Pom-pom's
tent, right next door, and Agony had a feeling that wherever Mary
Sylvester was, there would be the center of things, and being right next
door might have its advantages.

"We're going to have Miss Judith for a councilor," remarked Sahwah
joyfully, as she dumped her armful of blankets down on one of the
beds--the one on the side toward the woods.

"I wonder which bed she would like," said Hinpoha, standing irresolutely
in the center of the floor with her armful of bedding.

"Here she comes now," announced Agony. "Let's wait and ask her."

"Well, she wouldn't want _this_ one anyway," remarked Sahwah, as she
straightened the mattress on her bed preparatory to spreading the
sheets, "it sags in the middle like everything. I didn't take the best
one if I did take first choice"--a fact which was apparent to all.

Bedlam's councilor, who had been announced as Miss Armstrong, from
Australia, had already staked her claim when Katherine and Oh-Pshaw
arrived, although she herself was nowhere in sight. One of the beds was
made up and covered with a blanket of such dazzling gorgeousness that
the two girls were almost blinded, and after one look turned their eyes
outdoors for relief. All colors of the rainbow ran riot in that blanket,
each one trying to outdo the others in brilliancy and intensity, until
the effect was a veritable Vesuvius eruption of infernal splendors.

"Think of having to live with _that_!" exclaimed Oh-Pshaw tragically.
"My eyesight will be ruined in one day. Imagine the effect after I get
out my pink and gray one."

"And my lavender one!" added Katherine.

"We won't ever dare roll up the sides of our tent," continued Oh-Pshaw.
"We'll look like a beacon fire, up here on this hill. Our tent is
visible from the whole camp."

"Cheer up," said Katherine philosophically, "maybe there are others just
as bad. Anyway, let's not act as if we minded; it might make Miss
Armstrong feel badly. She probably thinks it's handsome, or she wouldn't
have it. Coming from Australia that way, she may have quite savage
tastes."

"I wonder what she'll be like," ruminated Oh-Pshaw, standing on one foot
to tie the sneaker she had just substituted for her high traveling shoe.

As if in answer to her wondering, a clear, far-carrying call came to the
ears of both girls at that moment. "Coo-_ee_! Coo-_ee_! Coo-_ee_!"

"What is that?" asked Oh-Pshaw, pausing in her shoe lacing with one foot
poised airily in space.

The call was repeated just outside their tent door, and then trailed off
into silence.

"Is that someone calling to us?" asked Katherine, hurriedly pulling her
middy on over her head and throwing back the tent flap. No one was in
sight outside.

"Must have been for someone else," she reported, looking right and left
along the pathway. "There's nobody out here."

She came back into the tent and began arranging her small possessions on
the shelf which swung overhead.

"How I'm ever going to keep all my things on one-third of this shelf is
more--" she began, but her speech ended in a startled gasp, for the
floor of the tent suddenly heaved up in the center, sending bottles,
brushes and boxes tumbling in all directions. The board which had thus
heaved up so miraculously continued to rise at one end, and underneath
it a pair of long, lean, powerful-looking arms came into view, followed
by a head and a pair of shoulders. Katherine and Oh-Pshaw sat petrified
at the apparition.

"Did I scare you, girls?" asked a deep, strong voice, and the apparition
looked gravely from one to the other. It was a dark-skinned face,
bronzed by wind and weather to a coppery, Indian-like tinge, and the
hair which framed it was coarse and black. Only the head and shoulders
of the apparition were visible beside the arms, the rest being concealed
in the depths underneath the tent, but the breadth of those shoulders
indicated clearly what might be expected in the way of a body. After a
moment of roving back and forth between the two girls, the dark eyes
under the heavy eyebrows fastened themselves upon Katherine with a
mournful intensity of gaze that held her spellbound, speechless. After a
full moment's scrutiny the dark eyes dropped, and the apparition, using
her arms as levers, raised herself to the level of the floor and stood
up. She was taller even than they had expected from the breadth of her
shoulders; in fact, she seemed taller than the tent itself. Katherine,
who up until that moment had considered herself tall, felt like a pigmy
beside her, or, as she expressed it, "like Carver Hill suddenly set down
beside one of the Alps." Never had she seen such a monumental young
woman; such suggestion of strength and vigor contained in a feminine
frame.

Oh-Pshaw looked timidly at the human Colossus standing in the middle of
the tent, and inquired meekly, "Are you Miss Armstrong? Are you our
Councilor?"

"I am," replied the newcomer gravely, replacing the board in the floor
with a nonchalance which conveyed the impression that coming up through
floors was her usual manner of entering places.

"Why did you come in that way?" burst out Katherine, unable to contain
her curiosity any longer.

"Oh, I just happened to be under the tent," replied Miss Armstrong,
speaking in a drawling voice with a marked English accent, "looking for
the broom, when I spied that loose board and thought I'd come in that
way. It was less trouble than coming out and going around to the steps."

"Less trouble," echoed Katherine. "I should think it would have been
more trouble raising that heavy board with my suitcase standing on it."

"Was your suitcase on it?" inquired Miss Armstrong casually. "I didn't
notice."

"Didn't notice!" repeated Katherine in astonishment. "It weighs thirty
pounds."

"I weigh two hundred and thirty," returned Miss Armstrong
conversationally.

"You do!" exclaimed Katherine in amazement. "You certainly don't look
it." Indeed, it seemed incredible that Miss Armstrong, tall as she was,
could possibly weigh so much, for she looked lean and gaunt as a wolf
hound.

"You must be awfully strong, to have raised that board," Katherine
continued, squinting at the muscular brown arms, which seemed solid as
iron.

For answer Miss Armstrong took a step forward, picked Katherine up as if
she had been a feather, threw her over her shoulder like a sack of
potatoes, held her there for a moment head downward, and then swung her
up and set her lightly on the hanging shelf, while Oh-Pshaw looked on
round-eyed and open-mouthed with astonishment.

Just then a shadow appeared in the doorway, and Katherine looked down
to see a shrinking little figure with pipestem legs standing on the top
step.

"Hello!" Katherine called gaily, from her airy perch. "Are you our
neighbor from Avernus? Do you want anything?" she added, for the girl
was swallowing nervously, and seemed to be on the verge of making a
request.

"Will somebody please show me how to make a bed?" faltered the visitor
in a thin, piping voice. "It isn't made, and I don't know how to do it."

"Daggers and dirks!" exploded Katherine, nearly falling off the shelf
under the stress of her emotion.

"What's the matter with the rest of the folks in Avernus--can't they
make beds either?" asked Miss Armstrong, surveying the wisp of a girl in
the doorway with an intent, solemn gaze that sent her into a tremble of
embarrassment.

"My 'tenty' hasn't come yet," she faltered in reply.

"Who's your councilor?"

"I don't know; she isn't there." The voice broke on the last words, and
the blue eyes overflowed with tears.

Katherine leaped from the shelf to the bed and down to the floor. "I'll
come over and help you make your bed," she said kindly.

"All right," said Miss Armstrong, nodding gravely. "You go over with her
and I'll find out who's councilor in Avernus and send her around."

To herself she added, when the other two were out of earshot, "Baby's
away from it's mother for the first time, and it's homesick."

"Poor thing," said Oh-Pshaw, who had overheard Miss Armstrong's remark.

"She'll get over it," replied Miss Armstrong prophetically.

If Miss Armstrong was a novelty to the tenants of Bedlam, the councilor
in Ponemah also seemed an odd character to the three girls she was to
chaperon--only she was a much less agreeable surprise. She was a stout,
fussy woman of about forty with thick eye-glasses which pinched the
corners of her eyes into a strained expression. She greeted the girls
briefly when they presented themselves to her, and in the next breath
began giving orders about the arrangement of the tent. The beds must
stand thus and so; the washstand must be on the other side from where it
was; the mirror must stay on this side. And she must have half of the
swinging shelf for her own; she could not possibly do with less; the
others could get along as best they might with what was left.

"We're supposed to divide the shelf up equally," announced Bengal
Virden, who had begun to look upon Miss Peckham--that was her name--with
extreme disapproval from the moment of their introduction. Bengal was a
girl whose every feeling was written plainly upon her face; she could
not mask her emotions under an inscrutable countenance. Her dislike of
Miss Peckham was so evident that Migwan and Gladys had expected an
outbreak before this; but Bengal had merely stood scowling while the
beds were being moved about. With the episode of the swinging shelf,
however, she flared into open defiance.

"We're all to have an equal share of the shelf," she repeated.

"Nonsense," replied Miss Peckham in an emphatic tone. "I'm a councilor
and I need more space."

Bengal promptly burst into tears. "I want to be in Pom-pom's tent!" she
wailed, and fled from the scene, to throw herself upon Pom-pom in the
next tent and pour out her tale of woe.

Migwan and Gladys looked at each other rather soberly as they went out
to fill their water pitcher.

"What a strange person to have as councilor," ventured Gladys. "I
thought councilors at camps were always as sweet as they could be. Miss
Peckham looks as though she could be horrid without half trying."

"Maybe it's just her way, though," replied Migwan good temperedly. "She
may be very nice inside after we get to know her. She's probably never
been a councilor before, and thinks she must show her authority."

"Authority!" cried Gladys. "But we're not babies; we're grown up. I'm
afraid she's not going to be a very agreeable proctor."

"Oh, well," replied Migwan gently, "let's make the best of her and have
a good time anyway. We mustn't let her spoil our fun for us. We'll
probably find something to like in her before long."

"I wish I had your angelic disposition," sighed Gladys, "but I just
can't like people when they rub me the wrong way, and Miss Peckham does
that to me."

"There's going to be trouble with the Elephant's Child," remarked Migwan
soberly. "She has already taken a strong dislike to Miss Peckham, and
she is still childish enough to show it."

"Yes, I'm afraid there will be trouble between Bengal and Miss Peckham,"
echoed Gladys, "and we'll be constantly called upon to make peace. It's
a role I'm not anxious for."

"Let's not worry about it beforehand," said Migwan, charmed into a
blissful attitude of mind toward the whole world by the sheer beauty of
the scene that unrolled before her. The river, tinged by the long rays
of the late afternoon sun, gleamed like a river of living gold, blinding
her eyes and setting her to dreaming of magic seas and far countries.
She stood very still for many minutes, lost in golden fancies, until
Gladys took her gently by the arm.

"Come, Migwan, are you going to day-dream here forever? There is the
spring we are looking for, just at the end of that little path."

Migwan came slowly out of her reverie and followed Gladys down the hill
to the spring.

"It's all so beautiful," she sighed in ecstasy, turning to look back
once more at the shimmering water, "it just makes me _ache_. It makes
everything unworthy in me want to crawl away and lose itself, while
everything good in me wants to sing. Don't you feel that way about it,
too?"

"Something like that," replied Gladys softly. "When Nature is so lovely,
it makes me want to be lovely, too, to match. I don't see how anyone
could ever be angry here, or selfish, or mean. It's just like being made
over, with all the bad left out."

"It does seem that way," replied Migwan.

"Here is the spring!" cried both girls in unison, as they reached the
end of the path and came upon a deep, rocky basin, filled with crystal
clear water that gushed out from the rock above their heads, trickling
down through ferns to be caught and held in the pool below, so still and
shining that it reflected the faces of the two girls like a mirror.

"Oh-h!" breathed Migwan in rapture, sinking down among the ferns and
lilies that bordered the spring and dabbling her fingers in the limpid
water, "I feel just like a wood-nymph, or a naiad, or whatever those
folks were that lived by the springs and fountains in the Greek
mythology."

Withdrawing her fingers from the water and clasping her hands loosely
around her knees, she began to recite idly:

  "Dian white-armed has given me this cool shrine,
  Deep in the bosom of a wood of pine;
    The silver sparkling showers
    That hive me in, the flowers
  That prink my fountain's brim, are hers and mine;
  And when the days are mild and fair,
  And grass is springing, buds are blowing,
    Sweet it is, 'mid waters flowing,
    Here to sit and know no care,
  'Mid the waters flowing, flowing, flowing,
  Combing my yellow, yellow hair."

"That poem must have been written about this very place," she added,
dreamily gazing into the shadowy depths of the pool beside her.

"Who wrote it?" inquired Gladys.

"I've forgotten," replied Migwan. "I learned it once in Literature, a
long time ago."

Both girls were silent, gazing meditatively into the pool, like
_ gazing into a future-revealing crystal, each absorbed in her
own day dreams. They were startled by the sound of a clear, musical
piping, coming apparently from the tangle of bushes behind them. Now
faint, now louder, it swelled and died away on the breeze, now fairly
startling in its joyousness, now plaintive as the wind sighing among
the reeds in some lonely spot after nightfall; alluring, thrilling,
mocking by turns; elusive as the strains of fairy pipers; utterly
ravishing in its sweetness.

Migwan and Gladys lifted their heads and looked at each other in wonder.

"Pipes of Pan!" exclaimed Migwan, and both girls glanced around, half
expecting to see the graceful form of a faun gliding toward them among
the trees. Nothing was to be seen, but the piping went on, merrily as
before, rising, falling, swelling, dying away in the distance, breaking
out again at near hand.

"Oh, what _is_ it?" cried Gladys. "Is it a bird?"

"It can't be a bird," replied Migwan, "it's a _tune--sort_ of a tune.
No, I wouldn't exactly call it a tune, either, but it's different from a
bird call. It sounds like pipes--fairy pipes--Pipes of Pan. Oh-h-h! Just
_listen_! What _can_ it be?"

The clear tones had leaped a full octave, and with a mingled sound of
pipes and flutes went trilling deliriously on a high note until the
listeners held their breath with delight. Then abruptly the piping
stopped, ending in a queer, unfinished way that tantalized their ears
for many minutes afterward, and held them motionless, spellbound,
waiting for the strain to be resumed. They listened in vain; the
mysterious piper called no more. Soon afterward a bugle pealed forth,
sounding the mess call, and coming to earth with a start, the two girls
raced back to Ponemah with their water pitcher and then hastened on
into the dining room, where the campers, now all clad in regulation blue
bloomers and white middies, were already assembled.



CHAPTER III


THE GREAT MYSTERY SOUND

After supper the camp was summoned to the smaller bungalow for first
assembly and Sing-Out. Over the wide entrance doorway of this
picturesque building among the trees was painted in large ornamental
letters:

            MATEKA

THE HOUSE OF JOYOUS LEARNING

This house, Dr. Grayson explained, was the place where all the craft
work was to be done. The light from the lamps fell upon beautifully
decorated board walls; wood-blocked curtains, quaint rustic benches and
seats made from logs with the bark left on; flower-holders fashioned of
birch bark; candlesticks of hammered brass, silver and copper; book
covers of beaded leather; vases and bowls of glazed clay.

At one end of the long room stood a piano; at the other end was the huge
cobblestone fireplace whose chimney the Winnebagos had noticed from the
outside; in it a fire was laid ready for lighting.

The seventy-five girls filed in and seated themselves on the floor,
looking expectantly at Dr. Grayson, who stood before the fireplace. He
was an imposing figure as he stood there, a man over six feet tall, with
a great head of white hair like a lion's mane, which, emphasizing the
ruddy complexion and clear blue eyes, contrived to make him look
youthful instead of old.

In a beautiful speech, full of both wisdom and humor, he explained the
ideals of camp life, and heartily welcomed the group before him into the
family circle of Camp Keewaydin. He spoke of the girls who in past years
had stood out from the others on account of their superior camp spirit,
and led up to the subject of the Buffalo Robe, which at the end of the
season would be awarded to the one who should be voted by her fellow
campers as the most popular girl.

A solemn hush fell over the assembly as he spoke, and all eyes were
fastened upon the Buffalo Robe, hanging over the fireplace. Agony's
heart gave a leap at the sight of the beautiful trophy, and then sank as
she saw innumerable eyes turn to rest upon Mary Sylvester, sitting on a
low stool at Dr. Grayson's feet, gazing up at him with a look of worship
in her expressive eyes.

When he had finished speaking of the Buffalo Robe Dr. Grayson announced
that the first fire of the season was to be lighted in the House of
Joyous Learning to dedicate it to this year's group of campers, and
kneeling down on the hearth, he touched off the faggots laid ready in
the fireplace, and the flames, leaping and snapping, rose up the
chimney, sending a brilliant glow over the room, and causing the most
homesick youngster to brighten up and feel immensely cheered.

The fire lighted, and the House of Joyous Learning dedicated to its
present occupants, Dr. Grayson proceeded to introduce the camp leaders
and councilors. Mrs. Grayson came first, as Camp Mother and Chief
Councilor. She was a large woman, and seemed capable of mothering the
whole world as she sat before the hearth, beaming down upon the girls
clustered around her on the floor, and there was already a note of
genuine affection in the voices of the new girls as they joined in the
cheer which the old girls started in honor of the Camp Mother.

The cheer was not yet finished when there was a sound of footsteps on
the porch outside and a new girl stood in the doorway. She carried a
blanket over one arm and held a small traveling bag in her hand. Her
face was flushed with exertion and her chest heaved as she stood there
looking inquiringly about the room with merry eyes that seemed to be
delighted with everything they looked upon. Her face was round; her
little button mouth was round; the comical stub of a nose which perched
above it gave the effect of being round, too, while the deep dimple that
indented her chin was very, _very_ round. Two still deeper dimples
lurked in her cheeks, each one a silent chuckle, and the freckles that
clustered thickly over her features all seemed to twinkle with a
separate and individual hilarity.

An involuntary smile spread over the faces inside the bungalow as they
looked at the newcomer, and one of the younger girls laughed aloud. That
was the signal for a general laugh, and for a moment the room rang, and
the strange girl in the doorway joined in heartily, and Dr. Grayson
laughed, too, and everybody felt "wound up" and hilarious. Mrs. Grayson
left her chair by the hearth and made her way through the group of girls
on the floor to the newcomer, holding out her hand in welcome.

"You must be Jean Lawrence," she said, drawing the girl into the room.
"You were to arrive by automobile at Green's Landing this noon, were you
not, and come across the river in the mail boat? I have been wondering
why you did not arrive on that boat."

"Our automobile broke down on that road that runs through the long woods
beyond Green's Landing," replied Jean, "and when father found it could
not be fixed on the road he decided to go back to the last town we had
passed through and spend the night there; so I had to walk to Green's
Landing. It was nearly nine miles and it took me all afternoon to get
there. The mail boat had, of course, gone long ago, but a nice old
grandpa man brought me over in a row boat."

"You walked nine miles to Green's Landing!" exclaimed Mrs. Grayson in
astonishment. "But, my dear, why didn't you wait and let your father
drive you down in the morning?"

"Oh, I wouldn't miss a single night in camp for anything in the world!"
replied Jean. "I would have walked if it had been _twenty_-nine miles. I
nearly died of impatience before I got here, as it was!"

Mrs. Grayson beamed on the enthusiastic camper; the old girls sang a
lusty cheer to the new girl who was such a good sport; and, twinkling
and beaming in all directions, Jean sat down on the floor with the
others to hear the camp councilors introduced.

Dr. Grayson began by quoting humorously from the Proverbs: "Where no
council is, the people fall, but in a multitude of councilors there is
safety."

One by one he called the councilors up and introduced them, beginning
with his daughter Judith, who was to be gymnastic director at the camp.
Miss Judy got up and made a bow, and then prepared to sit down again,
but her father would not let her off so easily. He demanded a
demonstration of her profession for the benefit of the campers. Miss
Judy promptly lined all the other councilors up and put them through a
series of ridiculous exercises, such as "Tongues forward thrust!" "Hand
on pocket place!" "Handkerchief take!" "Noses blow!"--performance which
was greeted with riotous applause by the campers.

Miss Armstrong was called up next and introduced as "our little friend
from Australia, the swimming teacher, who, on account of her diminutive
size goes by the nickname of Tiny." Tiny was made to give her native
Australian bush call of "Coo-ee! Coo-ee!" and was then told to rescue a
drowning person in pantomime, which she did so realistically that the
campers sat in shivering fascination. Tiny, still grave and unsmiling,
sat down amid shouts for encore, and refused to repeat her performance,
pretending to be overcome with bashfulness. Dr. Grayson then rose and
said that since Tiny was too modest to appear in public herself, he
would bring out her most cherished possession to respond to the encore,
and held up the gaudy blanket that Katherine and Oh-Pshaw had already
made merry over in the tent, explaining that Tiny always chose quiet,
dull colors to match her retiring nature. With a teasing twinkle in his
eyes he handed Tiny her blanket and then passed on to the next victim.

This was Pom-pom, the dancing teacher, who was obliged to do a dance on
the piano stool to illustrate her art. Pom-pom received a perfect
ovation, especially from the younger girls, and was called out half a
dozen times.

"Oh, the sweet thing! The darling!" gushed Bengal Virden, going into a
perfect ecstasy on the floor beside Gladys. "Don't you just _adore_
her?"

"She's very pretty," replied Gladys sincerely.

"Pretty!" returned Bengal scornfully. "She's the most beautiful person
on earth! Oh, I love her so, I don't know what to _do_!"

Gladys smiled indulgently at Bengal's gush, and turned away to see Jane
Pratt's dull, unpleasant eyes gazing contemptuously upon Pom-pom's
performance, and heard her whisper to her neighbor, "She's too
stiff-legged to be really graceful."

The Lone Wolf from Labrador, summoned to stand up and show herself next,
was a long, lean, mournful-looking young woman who, when introduced,
explained in a lugubrious voice that she had no talents like the rest of
the councilors and didn't know enough to be a teacher of anything; but
she was very good and pious, and had been brought to camp solely for her
moral effect upon the other councilors.

For a moment the camp girls looked at the Lone Wolf in silence, not
knowing what to make of her; then Sahwah noticed that Mrs. Grayson was
biting her lips, while her eyes twinkled; Dr. Grayson was looking at the
girls with a quizzical expression on his face; Miss Judy had her face
buried in her handkerchief. Sahwah looked back at the Lone Wolf,
standing there with her hands folded angelically and her eyes fixed
solemnly upon the ceiling, and she suddenly snorted out with laughter.
Then everyone caught on and laughed, too, but the Lone Wolf never
smiled; she stood looking at them with an infinitely sad, pained
expression that almost convinced them that she had been in earnest.

The Lone Wolf, it appeared, was to be Tent Inspector, and when that
announcement was made, the laughter of the old girls turned to groans of
pretended aversion, which increased to a mighty chorus when Dr. Grayson
added that her eye had never been known to miss a single detail of
disorder in a tent.

Thus councilor after councilor was introduced in a humorous speech by
Dr. Grayson, and made to do her particular stunt, or was rallied about
her pet hobby. The two Arts and Crafts teachers were given lumps of clay
and a can of house paint and ordered to produce a statue and a landscape
respectively; the Sing Leader had to play "Darling, I Am Growing Old" on
a pitch pipe, and all the plain "tent councilors" were called upon for a
"few remarks."

All were cheered lustily, and all gave strong evidence of future
popularity except Miss Peckham, who drew only a very scattered and
perfunctory applause. Gladys and Migwan, who glanced at each other as
Miss Peckham stepped forward, were surprised to hear that she was Dr.
Grayson's cousin.

"That accounts for her being here," Gladys whispered, and Migwan
whispered in return, "We'll just have to make the best of her."

Bengal glowered at Miss Peckham and made no pretense of applauding her,
and Migwan saw her whispering to the group around her, and saw Bengal's
expression of dislike swiftly reflected on the faces of her listeners.
Thus, before Miss Peckham was fairly introduced, her unpopularity was
already sealed. It takes very little to make a reputation at camp.
Estimates are formed very swiftly, and great attachments and antipathies
are formed at first sight. Young girls seem to scent, by some mysterious
intuition, who is really in sympathy with them, and who is only
pretending to be, and bestow or withhold their affections accordingly.
In the code of the camp girl classifications are very simple; a camper
is either a "peach" or a "prune." All the other councilors were
"peaches"; that was the instantaneous verdict of the Keewaydin Campers
during the introductions; Miss Peckham, regardless of the fact that she
was Dr. Grayson's cousin, was a "prune."

The last councilor to be introduced was a handsome, white-haired woman
named Miss Amesbury, who was introduced as the patron saint of the camp,
the designer of the beautiful Mateka, the House of Joyous Learning.
Miss Amesbury was neither an instructor nor a tent councilor; she had
just come to be a friend and helper to the whole camp, and lived on the
second story balcony of Mateka. Word had traveled around among the girls
that she was a famous author, and a ripple of expectation agitated the
ranks of the campers as she rose in answer to Dr. Grayson's summons.
Migwan gazed upon her in mingled awe and veneration. A famous
author--one who had realized the ambition that was also her cherished
own! She almost stopped breathing in her emotion.

"Isn't she lovely?" breathed Hinpoha to Agony, her eye taking in the
details of Miss Amesbury's camping suit, which, instead of being made of
serge or khaki, like those of the other councilors, was of heavy
Japanese silk, with a soft, flowered tie.

Smiling a smile which included every girl in the room, she cordially
invited them all to come and visit her balcony and share the beautiful
view which she had of the river and the gorge. Then she added a few
humorous comments upon camp life, and sat down amid tumultuous applause.

Then Dr. Grayson asked her if she would play for the singing, and she
rose graciously and took her place at the piano. The Sing leader stood
up on a bench and directed with a wooden spoon from the craft table, and
the first Sing-Out began. For half an hour the mingled voices were
lifted in glee and round, in part song and ballad, until the roof rang.
The new girls, spelling out the words in the song books by the rather
pale lamplight, came out strongly in some parts and wobbly in others,
producing some tone effects which caused the old girls to double up with
merriment, but the new girls showed their good sportsmanship by singing
on lustily no matter how many mistakes they made, a fact which caused
Dr. Grayson to beam approvingly upon them. In the midst of a
particularly hilarious song the bugle suddenly blew for going to bed,
and the old girls, still singing, began to drift out of the house and
make for the tents in groups of twos and threes, with their arms thrown
around each other's shoulders. The new girls followed, some feeling shy
and a bit homesick this first night away from home; others already
perfectly at home, their arms around a new friend made in the short time
since their arrival. One such was Jean Lawrence, who, upon being
informed that she was to be "tenty" to Katherine and Oh-Pshaw in Bedlam,
expressed herself as being unutterably delighted with her tent mates and
walked off with them chattering as easily as though she had known them
all her life.

There was more or less confusion this first night before everyone got
settled, for many of the girls had never camped before and were
unskilled in the art of undressing rapidly in the close quarters of a
tent, and "Taps" sounded before a number were even undressed. The Lone
Wolf was lenient this first night, however, and did not insist upon
prompt lights out, an act of grace which added greatly to her
popularity.

Sahwah's bed sagged somewhat in the middle and she was not able to
adjust herself to its curves very well; consequently she did not fall
asleep soon. Camp quieted down; the last rustle and whisper died away;
silence enfolded the tents around. Sahwah, lying wide awake in the
darkness, her senses alert, heard the sound of footsteps running at full
speed along the top of the bluff and across the bare rocks at the edge.
Here the footsteps seemed to come to a pause, and an instant later there
came a sound like a loud splash in the water below. Filled both with
curiosity and apprehension, Sahwah leaped from bed and raced for the
edge of the bluff, where she stood peering down at the river. No unusual
ripple appeared on the placid surface of the river; as far as she could
see it lay calm and peaceful in the moonlight.

A footstep behind her startled her, and she turned to see Miss Judy
coming toward her from the tent.

"What's the matter?" called Miss Judy, when she was within a few yards
of Sahwah.

"It sounded as though someone jumped off the cliff," replied Sahwah. "I
heard footsteps along the edge of the bluff, and then a splash, and I
ran out to see what was going on, but I can't see anything."

To Sahwah's surprise, Miss Judith laughed aloud. "Oh," she said, "did
you hear it?"

"What was it?" asked Sahwah, curiously.

"That," replied Miss Judy, "is what we call the Great Mystery Sound. We
hear it off and on, but no one has ever been able to explain what causes
it. Our 'diving ghost,' we call it. Father wore himself to a frazzle the
first year we were here, trying to find out what it was. He used to sit
up nights and watch, but although he often heard it he never could see
anything that could produce the sound. Some people about here have told
us that that sound has been heard for years and they say that there is
an old legend connected with it to the effect that many years ago an
Indian girl, pursued by an unwelcome suitor, jumped off this bluff and
drowned herself to escape him, and that ever since that occurrence this
strange sound has been noticeable. Of course, the people who tell the
legend say that the ghost of the persecuted maiden haunts the scene of
the tragedy at intervals and repeats the performance. Whatever it is, we
have never been able to account for the sound naturally, and always
refer to it as the Great Mystery Sound."

"What a strange thing!" exclaimed Sahwah in wonder. "Those footsteps
certainly sounded real; and as for that splash! It actually made my
flesh creep. I had a panicky feeling that one of the new girls had
wandered too near the edge of the bluff and had fallen into the water."

"It used to have that effect upon us at first, too," replied Miss Judy.
"We would all come racing down here with our hearts in our mouths,
expecting we knew not what. It took a long time before we could believe
it was a delusion.

"And now, come back to bed, or you'll be taking cold, standing out here
in your nightgown."

Still looking back at the river and half expecting to see some agitation
in its surface, Sahwah followed Miss Judy back to Gitchee-Gummee and
returned to bed.



CHAPTER IV


THE ALLEY INITIATION

Folk-dancing hour had just drawn to a close, and the long bugle for
swimming sounded through camp. The sets of eight which had been drawn up
on the tennis court in the formation of "If All the World Were Paper,"
broke and scattered as before a whirlwind as the girls raced for their
tents to get into bathing suits. Sahwah, as might be expected, was first
down on the dock, but close at her heels was another girl whom she
recognized as living in one of the Avenue tents. This girl, while
broader and heavier than Sahwah, moved with the same easy grace that
characterized Sahwah's movements, and like Sahwah, she seemed consumed
with impatience to get into the water.

"Oh, I wish Miss Armstrong would hurry, hurry, hurry!" she exclaimed,
jigging up and down on the dock. "I just can't wait until I get in."

"Neither can I," replied Sahwah, scanning the path down the hillside for
a sight of the swimming director.

"Do you live in the Avenue or the Alley?" asked the girl beside her.

"In the Alley," replied Sahwah.

"Which tent?"

"Gitchee-Gummee. Which one are you in?"

"Jabberwocky."

"That's way up near the bungalow, isn't it?"

"Yes, where are you?"

"The very last tent in the Alley, that one there, buried in the trees."

"Oh, how lovely! You're right near the path to the river, aren't you? I
wish I were a little nearer this end. It would save time getting to the
water."

"But you're so near the bungalow that you only have to go a step when
the breakfast bugle blows. You have the advantage there," replied
Sahwah. "We down in Gitchee-Gummee have to run for all we're worth to
get there before you're all assembled. We have hard work getting dressed
in time. We put on our ties while we're running down the path, as it
is."

The other girl laughed, showing a row of very white, even teeth. "Did
you see that girl who came running into the dining-room this morning
with her middy halfway over her head?"

Sahwah laughed, too, at the recollection. "That was Bengal Virden, the
one they call the Elephant's Child," she replied. "She lives in Ponemah,
with some friends of mine. She had loitered with her dressing and
didn't have her middy on when the breakfast bugle blew, so she decided
to put it on en route. But while she was pulling it on over her head she
got stuck fast in it with her arms straight up in the air and had to
come in that way and get somebody to pull her through. I never saw
anything so funny," she finished.

"Neither did I," replied the other.

They looked at each other and laughed heartily at the remembrance of the
ludicrous episode.

All this while Sahwah was trying to recollect her companion's name, but
was unable to do so. It was impossible to remember which girls had
answered to which names at the general roll call on that first night in
Mateka.

Just then the other said, "I don't believe I recall your name--I'm very
stupid about remembering things."

"That's just what I was going to say to you!" exclaimed Sahwah, with a
merry laugh. "It's impossible to remember so many new names at once. I
think we all ought to be labeled for the first week or so. I'm Sarah Ann
Brewster, only they call me Sahwah."

"What a queer nickname! It's very interesting. Is it a contraction of
Sarah Ann?"

"No, it's my Camp Fire name."

"Oh, are you a Camp Fire girl?"

"Yes."

"How splendid! I've always wished I could be one. What does the name
mean?"

"Sunfish!" replied Sahwah. "The sun part means that I like sunshine and
the fish part means that I like the water."

"Oh-h!" replied the other with an interested face. Then she began to
introduce herself. "I haven't any nice symbolic name like yours," she
said, "but mine is sort of queer, too."

"What is it?" asked Sahwah.

"Undine."

"Undine!" repeated Sahwah. "How lovely! I've always been perfectly crazy
about Undine since I got the book on my tenth birthday. Undine was fond
of water, like I was. What's the rest of your name?"

"Girelle," replied Undine.

"Do you live in the east or in the west?" asked Sahwah. "You don't speak
like the Easterners, and yet you don't speak like us Westerners, either.
What part of the country are you from?"

"No part at all," answered Undine. "My home is in Honolulu."

"Not really?" said Sahwah in astonishment.

"Really," replied Undine, smiling at Sahwah's look of surprise. "I was
born in Hawaii, and I have lived there most of my life."

"Oh," said Sahwah, "I thought only Hawaiians lived in Hawaii--I didn't
know anyone else was ever _born_ there."

"Lots of white people are born there," replied Undine, politely
checking the smile that wreathed her lips at Sahwah's ingenuous remark.
"But," she added, "most of the people in the States seem to think no one
lives in Hawaii but natives, and that they wear wreaths of flowers
around their necks all the time and do nothing but play on ukuleles."

Sahwah laughed and made up her mind that she was going to like Undine
very much. "I suppose you swim?" she asked, presently.

Undine nodded emphatically. "It's the thing I like to do best of
anything in the world. Do you like it? Oh, yes, of course you do. You
call yourself the Sunfish on that account."

Sahwah affirmed her love for the deep, and thrilled a little at
discovering an enthusiasm to match hers in this girl from Honolulu. The
rest of the Winnebagos, although good swimmers, did not possess in an
equal degree Sahwah's inborn passion for the water. Sahwah and Undine
both felt the call of the river as it flowed past the dock; to each of
them it beckoned with an irresistible invitation, until they could
hardly restrain themselves from leaping off the boards into the cool,
glassy depths below.

"Here comes Miss Armstrong!" shouted somebody at the other end of the
dock, as the big Australian came into view down the path, and there was
a scramble for the diving tower.

The swimming place at Camp Keewaydin was divided into three parts. A
shallow cove at the left of the dock, where the curve of the river
formed a tiny bay, was the sporting ground of the Minnows, the girls who
could not swim at all; the Perch, or those who could swim a little, but
were not yet sure of themselves, were assigned to the other side of the
dock, where the water was slightly deeper, but where they were protected
by the dock from the full force of the current; while the Sharks, the
expert swimmers, were given the freedom of the river beyond the end of
the pier. The diving tower was on the end of the pier and belonged
exclusively to the Sharks; it was fifteen feet high, and had seven
different diving boards placed at various heights. Besides the diving
tower, there was a floating dock anchored out in midstream, having a
springboard at either end. There was also a low diving board at the side
of the pier for the Perch to practice on.

Miss Armstrong came down on the dock in a bright red bathing suit which
shone brilliantly among the darker suits of the girls. She rapidly
separated the Minnows from the other fish, and set them to learning
their first strokes under the direction of one of the other councilors.
Then she lined the remaining girls up for the test which would determine
who were Sharks and who were Perch. The test consisted of a dive from
any one of the diving boards of the tower and a demonstration of four
standard strokes, ending up with a swim across the river and back.

About a dozen dropped out at the mere reading of the test and accepted
their rating as Perch without a trial; as many more failed either to
execute their dives properly or to give satisfaction in their swimming
strokes. Sahwah, burning with impatience to show her skill, climbed
nimbly up to the very top of the tower and went off the highest
springboard in a neat back dive that drew applause from the watchers,
including Miss Armstrong. She also passed the rest of the test with a
perfect rating.

"You're the biggest Shark so far," remarked Miss Armstrong, as Sahwah
clambered up on the dock after her swim across the river, during which
she had almost outdistanced the boat which accompanied her over and
back.

Sahwah smiled modestly as one of the old campers started a cheer for
her, and turned to watch Undine Girelle, who was mounting the diving
tower. When Undine also went off the highest springboard backward, and
in addition turned a complete somersault before she touched the water,
Sahwah realized that she had met her match, if not her master.
Heretofore, Sahwah's swimming prowess had been unrivalled in whatever
group she found herself, and it was a matter of course with the
Winnebagos that Sahwah should carry off all honors in aquatics. Now they
had to admit that in Undine Girelle Sahwah had a formidable rival and
would have to look sharply to her laurels.

"Isn't she wonderful?" came in exclamations from all around, as Undine
sported in the water like a dolphin. "But then," someone added, "she's
used to bathing in the surf in Hawaii. No wonder."

There were about fifteen put in the Shark class in the first try-out, of
whom Sahwah and Undine were acknowledged to be the best. Hinpoha and
Gladys and Migwan also qualified as Sharks; Katherine went voluntarily
into the Perch class, and Agony failed to pass her diving test, although
she accomplished her distance swim and the demonstration of the strokes.

Agony felt somewhat humiliated at having to go into the second class;
she would much rather have been in the more conspicuous Shark group.
Sahwah had already made a reputation for herself; Hinpoha drew admiring
attention when she let her glorious red curls down her back to dry them
in the sun; but she herself had so far made no special impression upon
the camp. Why hadn't she distinguished herself like Sahwah, or Undine
Girelle, Agony thought enviously. Others were already fast on their way
to becoming prominent, but so far she was still going unnoticed. Her
spirit chafed within her at her obscurity.

Oh-Pshaw, alas, was only a Minnow. The fear of water which had lurked in
her ever since the accident in her early childhood had kept her from
any attempt to learn to swim. It was only since she had become a
Winnebago and had once conquered her fear on that memorable night beside
the Devil's Punch Bowl that she began to entertain the idea that some
day she, too, might be at home in the water like the others. It was
still a decided ordeal for her to go in; to feel the water flowing over
her feet and to hear it splash against the piles of the dock and gurgle
over the stones along the shore; but she resolutely steeled her nerves
against the sound and the feel of the water, forcing back the terror
that gripped her like an icy hand, and courageously tried to follow the
director's instructions to put her face down under the surface. It was
no use; she could not quite bring herself to do it; the moment the water
struck her chin wild panic seized her and she would straighten up with a
choking cry. She looked with envy at the other novices around her who
fearlessly threw themselves into the water face downward, learning "Dead
Man's Float" inside of ten minutes. She would never be able to do
_that_, she reflected sorrowfully, as she climbed up on the dock before
the period was half over, utterly worn out and discouraged by her
repeated failures to bring her head under water.

Beside her on the dock sat a thin wisp of a girl whose bathing suit was
not even wet.

"Didn't you go in?" asked Oh-Pshaw.

"No," replied the girl in a high, piping voice, and Oh-Pshaw recognized
her as the dweller in Avernus who had come over that first day and asked
them how to make her bed. Carmen Chadwick, they had found out her name
was.

"I'm afraid of the water," continued Carmen. "Mamma never let me go in
at home. She doesn't think it's quite ladylike for girls to swim."

Oh-Pshaw smiled in spite of herself. "Oh, I don't think it makes girls
unladylike to learn how to swim," she defended. "It's considered to be a
fine exercise; about the best there is to develop all the muscles."

"Oh!" said Carmen primly. "That's what mamma doesn't like, to have my
muscles all lumpy and developed. She wants to keep me soft and curved."

Oh-Pshaw stifled a shriek with difficulty, and turning aside to hide her
twinkling eyes she caught sight of the Lone Wolf standing on the dock
not far away, gazing mournfully into the Minnow pond.

"What do you think of _her_?" asked Oh-Pshaw hastily, steering the
conversation away from muscles and kindred unladylike topics.

"She's my Councy," replied Carmen.

"Your what?"

"My Councy--my Councilor. I'm frightened to death of her."

"Why, what does she do?" asked Oh-Pshaw in consternation.

"She doesn't do anything, in particular," replied Carmen. "She just
stares at me solemn as an owl and every little while she puts her head
down on her bed under the pillow. Do you know," she continued, sinking
her voice to a whisper, "I believe there is something the matter with
her mind."

"Really!" said Oh-Pshaw, her voice shaking ever so slightly.

"She doesn't seem to realize what she is saying, at all," said Carmen.
"Do you remember when Dr. Grayson introduced her he said she was real
good and pious, but she isn't a bit pious. She didn't bring any Bible
with her and she didn't say any prayers before she went to bed."

"Maybe she said them to herself after she was in bed," remarked
Oh-Pshaw, when she could control her voice again. "Lots of people do,
you know."

"I don't believe she did," replied Carmen in a tone of conviction. "I
watched her. She made shadow animals with her fingers on the tent wall
in the moonlight the minute she got into bed, and she kept it up until
she went to sleep."

Out of the corner of her eye Oh-Pshaw saw the Lone Wolf moving toward
them, and hastily changed the subject. "Why did you put your bathing
suit on when you didn't have any intention of going into the water?" she
asked, seizing upon the first thing that came into her mind.

"It looks so well on me," replied Carmen. "Don't you think it does?"

"Y-yes, it d-does," admitted Oh-Pshaw, her teeth suddenly beginning to
chatter, and she realized that she was sitting out too long in her wet
bathing suit. "I g-guess I'll g-go up and get dressed," she finished,
between the shivers that shook her like a reed.

The Lone Wolf came up to her and taking her own sweater off wrapped it
around her and hustled her off toward her tent.

Just then the cry of "All out!" sounded on the dock and the swimmers
came flocking out of the water with many an exclamation of regret that
the time was up.

"Oh, please, Tiny, may I do this one dive?" coaxed Bengal from one of
the boards on the tower. "I'm all in a position to do it--see?"

"Time's up," replied Tiny inexorably, and Bengal reluctantly
relinquished her dive and climbed down from the tower.

"Next test for Sharks a week from today!" called Tiny in her megaphone
voice to the Perches, as she mounted the diving tower in preparation for
her own initial plunge. The swimming instructors had their own swimming
time after the girls were out of the water.

Gladys and Migwan were dripping their way back to Ponemah, one on either
side of Bengal Virden, who was entertaining them with tales of former
years at camp, when they were startled to see Miss Peckham standing on
top of a high rock wildly waving them back.

"Don't go near the tent!" she shrieked.

"Why not?" called Migwan in alarm, as the three girls stood still in the
path, the water which was dripping out of their bathing suits collecting
in a puddle around their feet.

"There's a snake underneath the tent, a great big snake," answered Miss
Peckham in terrified tones.

"Well, what of it?" demanded Bengal coolly. "I've seen lots of snakes.
I'm not afraid of them. Come on, let's get a forked stick, and let's
kill it."

She stooped to wring out the water which had collected in the bottom of
her bathing suit and then started forward toward Ponemah.

Miss Peckham, high on her rock, raised a great outcry. "Stay where you
are!" she commanded. "Don't you go near that tent."

Bengal kept on going, looking about her for a forked stick.

"Bengal _Virden_!" screamed Miss Peckham, in such a tone of terror that
Bengal involuntarily stood still in her tracks, dropping the stick she
was in the act of picking up. "It's a deadly poisonous snake," gasped
Miss Peckham, beginning to get breathless from fright, "a monstrous
black one with red rings on it. I saw it crawling among the leaves. It
reared up and menaced me with its wicked head. Don't you stir another
step!" she commanded as Bengal seemed on the point of going on.

"What's the matter?" asked a voice behind them, and there was Miss Judy,
just coming out of her tent with her wet bathing suit in her hand.

"There's a terrible poisonous snake under our tent," replied Miss
Peckham. "I was just coming out of the door after my nap when I saw it
gliding underneath. It's down there now, under the bushes."

"How queer!" replied Miss Judy, looking with concern at her wildly
excited cousin. "We've never had large snakes around here. What color
did you say it was?"

"It had broad, alternate rings of red and black," replied Miss Peckham,
with the air of one quoting from an authority, "the distinguishing marks
of the coral snake, one of the seventeen poisonous reptiles out of the
one hundred and eleven species of snakes found in the United States."

"A coral snake!" gasped Miss Judy, in real alarm, while the other three,
taking fright from the tone of her voice, began to back down the path.

Other dwellers in the Alley came along to see what the commotion was
about and were warned back in an important tone by Miss Peckham. The
timid ones took to their heels and fled to the other end of camp, while
the more courageous hung about as near as they dared come and stared
fascinated at the miniature jungle of ferns and bushes that grew under
Ponemah to a height of two or three feet. Sahwah, whose insatiable
curiosity as usual got the better of her fears, climbed a tree quite
close to Ponemah and peered down through the branches, all agog with
desire to see the dread serpent show itself.

"Come down from there--quick!" called someone in a nervously shaking
voice. "Don't you know that snakes climb trees?"

"Nonsense," retorted Sahwah. "Whoever heard of a snake climbing a tree?"

An argument started below, several voices upholding each side, some
maintaining emphatically that snakes did climb trees; others holding out
quite as determinedly that they didn't.

"Anyway, _this_ one might," concluded the one who had started the
argument, in a triumphant tone.

"What are we going to do?" someone asked Miss Judy.

"I'll get father to come and shoot it," replied Miss Judy.

Just then there came an excited shriek from Sahwah. "It's coming out! I
see the bushes moving."

The girls scattered in all directions; Miss Peckham, up on her rock,
covered her ears with her hands, as though there was going to be an
explosion.

"Here it comes!"

Sahwah, leaning low over her branch, nearly fell out of the tree in her
excitement, as her eye caught the gleam of red and black among the
bushes. Miss Judy scrambled up on the rock beside Miss Peckham.

There was a violent agitation of the ferns and bushes underneath
Ponemah, a sort of scrambling movement, accompanied by a muffled
squeaking, and then a truly remarkable creature bounced into view--a
creature whose body consisted of a long stocking, red and black in
alternate stripes, in the toe of which some live animal frantically
squeaked and struggled, leaping almost a foot from the ground in its
efforts to escape from its prison, and dragging the gaudy striped length
behind it through a series of thrillingly lifelike wriggles.

"Hi!" called Sahwah with a great shout of laughter. "It's nothing but a
stocking with something in it."

In reaction from her former alarm Miss Judy laughed until she fell off
the rock, and sat helplessly on the ground watching the frantic
struggles of the creature in the stocking to free itself. Hearing the
laughter, those who had fled at the first alarm came hastening back, and
all promptly went into hysterics when they saw the stocking writhing on
the ground, and all were equally as helpless as Miss Judy and Sahwah.

"Only Tiny Armstrong's stocking!" gasped Miss Judy, wiping away her
tears of merriment with her middy sleeve. "I told her they would cause
a riot in camp!"

Only Miss Peckham did not laugh; she looked crossly around at the
desperately amused girls.

"Oh, Miss Peckham," gurgled Bengal, "you said it reared up and menaced
you with its great, wicked h-head! You said its hood was swelled up with
ferocity and venom, and it hissed sibilantly at you."

Bengal rolled over and over on the ground, shrieking with mirth.

Miss Peckham, her face a dull red, moved off in the direction of the
tent.

Others came up, excitedly demanding to know what the joke was.

"She thought it was a coral snake, and it was Tiny's stocking," giggled
Bengal, going into a fresh spasm.

"Well, what if I did?" remarked Miss Peckham, turning around and looking
at her frigidly. "It's a mistake anybody could easily make, I'm sure."
And she went stiffly up into the tent.

Sahwah and Miss Judy had somewhat recovered their composure by this
time, and having captured the wildly agitated stocking they released
from it a half-grown chipmunk, who, beside himself with fright and
bewilderment, dashed away into the woods like a flash.

"How frightened he was, poor little fellow!" cried Migwan
compassionately. "It wasn't any joke for _him_. He must have been
nearly frantic in there. How do you suppose he ever got in?"

"Walked in, or fell in, possibly," replied Miss Judy, "and then couldn't
find his way out again. Tiny had those modest little stockings of hers
hanging on the tent ropes this morning, and it was easy enough for a
chipmunk to get in."

Carrying the stocking between them, and followed by all the girls who
had been standing around, Sahwah and Miss Judy started for Bedlam to
tell Tiny about the panic her hosiery had caused, but halfway to Bedlam
the trumpet sounded for dinner and the deputation broke up in a wild
rush for the bungalow. Miss Peckham carefully avoided Miss Judy's eye
all through dinner.

When the Winnebagos sauntered back to their tents for rest hour they all
found large, wafer-sealed envelopes lying in conspicuous places upon
their respective tables. Sahwah pounced upon the one in Gitchee-Gummee
and looked at it curiously. On it was written in large red letters:

  TO THE DWELLERS IN GITCHEE-GUMMEE

IMPORTANT!!!

"Whatever can this be?" she asked in mystified tones. Miss Judy was not
in the tent.

"Open it," commanded Agony.

Sahwah slit the envelope with the knife that she always kept hanging at
her belt, and pulled out a sheet of rough, brown paper, on which was
drawn the picture of a girl bound fast to a tree by ropes that went
round and round her body, while a band of Indians danced a savage war
dance around her. Underneath was printed in the same large red letters
as those which adorned the outside of the envelope:

   BE DOWN ON THE DOCK AT SUNDOWN
  WITHOUT FAIL PREPARED TO UNDERGO
        THE ORDEAL WHICH ALL
     DWELLERS IN THE ALLEY MUST
    SUFFER BEFORE BEING WELCOMED
           INTO THE INNER
          CIRCLE OF ALLEY
              SPIRITS.

  WARNING: MENTION NOT THIS SUMMONS
      TO A LIVING SOUL OR AWFUL
      WILL BE THE CONSEQUENCES.

    SIGNED: THE TERRIBLE TWELVE.
   P.S. BRING YOUR BATHING SUITS.

"What on earth?" cried Hinpoha in bewilderment.

"It's the Alley Initiation!" exclaimed Sahwah. "I heard someone asking
when it was going to be. Mary Sylvester and Jo Severance and several
more of the old girls were talking about it while they were in the water
today. It seems that the girls who have lived in the Alley before
always hold an initiation for the new girls before they let them in on
their larks."

"I wonder what they're going to do to us," mused Hinpoha. "That advice
to bring your bathing suit sounds suspicious to me."

"Do you suppose they're going to throw us into the river?" asked Agony.

"Nonsense," replied Sahwah. "Half the new girls in the Alley can't swim.
Dr. Grayson wouldn't allow it, anyway. He made a girl come out of the
water during swimming hour this morning for trying to duck another girl.
They'll just make us ridiculous, that's all."

"Well, whatever they ask us to do, let's not make a fuss," said Hinpoha.
"Here comes Miss Judy. Put that letter out of sight and act perfectly
unconcerned."

Sahwah whipped the envelope into her suitcase and flung herself down on
her bed; the others followed her example; and when a moment later Miss
Judy stepped into the tent and looked quizzically at the trio she found
them apparently wrapped in placid slumber.

Shortly before seven that evening, when the Avenue girls were dancing in
the bungalow, Sahwah and Hinpoha and Agony quietly detached themselves
from the group and slipped down to the dock to find Katherine and
Oh-Pshaw and Jean Lawrence already down there, swinging their feet over
the end of the pier and waiting for something to happen. Down the
hillside other forms were stealing; Migwan, and Gladys, and Bengal
Virden, followed by Tiny Armstrong, until practically all the
inhabitants of the Alley were gathered upon the dock. Miss Judy was
leaning over the edge of the pier untying the launch.

The neophytes watched intently every move that the old girls made, and
were somewhat reassured when they saw that they had brought their
bathing suits, too.

"Are all assembled?" asked Miss Judy, straightening up and looking over
her shoulder inquiringly.

"Not yet," answered Mary Sylvester, taking an inventory of girls
present.

"Who isn't here yet?"

"Carmen Chadwick and the Lone Wolf. Oh, they're coming now, so is Miss
Amesbury."

Migwan felt a little flustered as Miss Amesbury came smiling into their
midst. She didn't in the least mind being initiated, but she did rather
hate to have Miss Amesbury see her made ridiculous. She would much
rather not have her looking on.

Carmen Chadwick looked quite pale and scared as she joined the group on
the dock, and took hold of Katherine's arm as if to seek her protection.

"All ready now?" asked Miss Judy.

"Ay, ay, skipper," replied Tiny Armstrong.

"Man the boat!" commanded Miss Judy.

The girls got into the launch and Miss Judy started the engine. They
rode a short distance up the river to the Whaleback, a small island
shaped, as its name indicated, like a whale's back. It was quite flat,
only slightly elevated above the surface of the water. On one side it
had rather a wide beach covered with stones and littered with driftwood;
behind this beach rose a dense growth of pines that extended down to the
very edge of the water on the other side of the island.

The initiation party disembarked upon the beach. A huge fire was laid
ready and Miss Judy lit it, then she requested the new girls to sit down
in a place which she designated at one side of it, while the old girls
seated themselves in a row opposite. Sahwah took note that the new girls
were in the full glare of the firelight, while the old ones sat in the
shadow.

Miss Judy opened the ceremonies. Stepping into the light, she addressed
the neophytes. "Since the dwellers in the Alley live together in such
intimate companionship it is necessary that all be properly introduced
to each other, so that we shall never mistake our own. We shall now
proceed with the introductions. As soon as a new girl or councilor
recognizes herself in the pictures we shall proceed to draw, let her
come forward and bow to the ground three times in acknowledgment,
uttering the words, 'Behold, it is I! who else _could_ it be?'"

She poked up the fire to a brighter blaze and then sat down beside Tiny
Armstrong on the end of a log. As she seated herself Jo Severance rose
and came forward demurely. Jo was an accomplished elocutionist, and a
born mimic. Assuming a timid, shrinking demeanor, and speaking in a
high, shrill voice, she piped,

  "Mother, may I go out to swim?"
  "Yes, my darling daughter,
  Put on your nice new bathing suit,
  But don't go near the water!"

"Don't you think it's unladylike to have your muscles all hard and
developed?"

       *       *       *       *       *

Oh-Pshaw buried her face in her handkerchief with a convulsive giggle.
The voice, the intonation, the expression, were Carmen Chadwick to a T.
But how did the Alleys know about her attitude toward bathing? She had
not told anyone. Then she recalled that the Lone Wolf had walked behind
them on the pier that morning when Carmen had been talking to her. Had
the Lone Wolf also heard them talking about her? Agony wondered in a
sudden rush of embarrassment.

There was no mistaking the first "portrait." All eyes were focused upon
Carmen, and blushing and shrinking she went forward to make the required
acknowledgment.

"Beh-hold, it is I; w-who else could it be?" she faltered, and it
sounded so irresistibly funny that the listeners went into spasms of
mirth.

Carmen crept back to her place and hid her face in Katherine's lap while
Jo Severance passed on to the next "portrait." Climbing up an enormous
tree stump, she flung out her arms and began to shriek wildly, waving
back an imaginary group of girls. Then she proclaimed in important
tones: "It had broad, alternating rings of black and red, the
distinguishing marks of the coral snake, one of the seventeen poisonous
reptiles out of the one hundred and eleven species of snakes found in
the United States. It reared up and menaced me with its great, wicked--"

The remainder of her speech was lost in the great roar of laughter that
went up from old and new girls alike.

Miss Peckham turned fiery red, and looked angrily from Jo Severance to
Miss Judy, but there was no help for it; she had to go forward and claim
the portrait.

"Behold, it is I; who else _could_ it be?" she snapped, and the mirth
broke out louder than before. The "who else _could_ it be?" was so like
Miss Peckham.

One by one the other candidates were shown their portraits, that is, as
many as had displayed any conspicuous peculiarities.

"O Pom-pom! O dear Pom-pom, O _darling_ Pom-pom!" gushed Jo, rolling
her eyes in ecstasy, and Bengal Virden, laughing sheepishly, went
forward.

Miss Amesbury watched the performance with tears of merriment rolling
down her cheeks. "I never saw anything so funny!" she exclaimed to Mary
Sylvester. "That phrase, 'who else _could_ it be' is a perfect gem."

Agony was somewhat disappointed that her portrait was not painted; it
would have drawn her into more notice. So far she was only "among those
present" at camp. None of the old girls had paid any attention to her.

After all the portraits had been painted the rest of the girls were
called upon to do individual stunts. Some sang, some made speeches, some
danced, and the worse the performance the greater the applause from the
initiators. One slender, dark-eyed girl with short hair whistled, with
two fingers in her mouth. At the first note Migwan and Gladys started
and clasped each other's hands. The mystery of the fairy piping they had
heard in the woods that first afternoon was solved. The same clear,
sweet notes came thrilling out between her fingers, alluring as the
pipes of Pan. The whistler was a girl named Noel Carrington; she was one
of the younger girls whom nobody had noticed particularly before. Her
whistling brought wild applause which was perfectly sincere; her
performance delighted the audience beyond measure. She was called back
again and again until at last, quite out of breath, she begged for
mercy, when she was allowed to retire on the condition that she would
whistle some more as soon as she got her breath back.

Noel's performance closed the stunts. When she had sat down Miss Judy
rose and said that she guessed the Alley dwellers were pretty well
acquainted with each other, and would now go for a swim in the
moonlight. Soon all but Carmen Chadwick were splashing in the silvery
water, playing hide and seek with the moonbeams on the ripples and
feeling a thrill and a magic in the river which was never there in the
daylight. After a glorious frolic they came out to stand around the fire
and eat marshmallows until it was time to go back to camp.

"Initiation wasn't so terrible after all," Carmen confided to Katherine
in the launch.

"Heaps of fun," replied Katherine, laughing reminiscently.

"Isn't Miss Peckham a prune?" whispered Sybil's voice behind Katherine.
"I'm glad she's not my councilor."

"She's mine, worse luck," answered Bengal Virden's voice dolefully.

"Too bad," whispered Sybil feelingly.

The launch came up alongside the dock just as the first bugle was
blowing, and the Alley, old girls arm in arm with the new, went straight
up to bed.



CHAPTER V


ON THE ROAD FROM ATLANTIS

"Would you like to come along?"

Agony, sitting alone on the pier, idly watching the river as it flowed
endlessly around its great curve, looked up to see Mary Sylvester
standing beside her. It was just after quiet hour and the rest of the
camp had gone on the regular Wednesday afternoon trip to the village to
buy picture postcards and elastic and Kodak films and all the various
small wares which girls in camp are in constant need of; and also to
regale themselves on ice-cream cones and root beer, the latter a
traditionally favorite refreshment of the Camp Keewaydin girls, being a
special home product of Mrs. Bayne, who kept the "trading post."

Agony had not joined the expedition this afternoon, because she needed
nothing in the way of supplies, and for once had no craving for root
beer, while she did want to finish a letter to her father that she had
commenced during rest hour. But the hilarity of the others as they piled
into the canoes to be towed up the river by the launch lured her down
to the dock to see them off--Miss Judy standing at the wheel of the
launch and Tiny Armstrong in the stern of the last canoe, as the head
and tail of the procession respectively. Beside Miss Judy in the launch
were all the Minnows, gazing longingly back at the ones who were allowed
to tow in the canoes. Only those who had taken the swimming test might
go into the canoes--towing or paddling or at any other time; this rule
of the camp was as inviolable as the laws of the Medes and the Persians.
And of those who could swim, only the Sharks might take out a canoe
without a councilor, and this privilege was also denied the Sharks if
they failed to demonstrate their ability to handle a canoe skilfully.

Sahwah and Hinpoha were among the new girls who had qualified for the
canoe privilege during the very first week; also Undine Girelle. The
other Winnebagos had to content themselves thus far with the privilege
of towing or paddling in a canoe that was in charge of a councilor or a
qualified Water Witch; all except Oh-Pshaw, who had to ride in the
launch.

Agony looked at Oh-Pshaw standing beside Miss Judy at the wheel,
laughing with her at some joke; at Sahwah and Undine sitting together in
the canoe right behind the launch, leaning luxuriously back against
their paddles, which they were using as back rests; heard Jean
Lawrence's infectious laugh floating back on the breeze; and she began
to regret that she had stayed at home. She found she was no longer in
the mood to finish her letter; she lingered on the pier after the
floating caravan had disappeared from view behind the trees on
Whaleback.

She looked up in surprise at the sound of Mary Sylvester's voice coming
from behind her on the dock.

"I thought you had gone to the village with the others," she said. "I
was almost sure I saw you in the boat with Pom-pom."

"No, I didn't go, you see," replied Mary. "I am going off on an
expedition of my own this afternoon. The woman who took care of me as a
child lives not far from here in a little village called
Atlantis--classic name! Mother asked me to look her up, and Mrs. Grayson
gave me permission to go over this afternoon. I'm going to row across
the river to that landing place where we got out the other night, leave
the boat in the bushes, and then follow the path through the woods. It's
about six miles to Atlantis--would you care to walk that far? It would
be twelve miles there and back, you know. I'm just ripe for a long hike
today, it's so cool and clear, but it's not nearly so pleasant going
alone as it would be to have someone along to talk to on the way.
Wouldn't you like to come along and keep me company? I can easily get
permission from Mrs. Grayson for you."

Agony was a trifle daunted at the thought of walking twelve miles in
one afternoon, but was so overwhelmed with secret gratification that the
prominent Mary Sylvester had invited her that she never once thought of
refusing.

"I'd love to go," she exclaimed animatedly, jumping up with alacrity. "I
was beginning to feel a wee bit bored sitting here doing nothing; I feel
ripe for a long hike myself."

"I'm so glad you do!" replied Mary Sylvester, with the utmost
cordiality. "Come on with me until I tell Mrs. Grayson that you are
coming with me."

Mrs. Grayson readily gave her permission for Agony to go with Mary.
There was very little that Mrs. Grayson would have refused Mary
Sylvester, so high did this clear-eyed girl stand in the regard of all
Camp directors, from the Doctor down. Mary was one of the few girls
allowed to go away from camp without a councilor; in fact, she sometimes
acted as councilor to the younger girls when a trip had to be made and
no councilor was free. Mrs. Grayson would willingly have trusted any
girl to Mary's care--or the whole camp, for that matter, should occasion
arise, knowing that her good sense and judgment could be relied upon. So
Agony, under Mary's wing, received the permission that otherwise would
not have been given her.

"Yes, it will be all right for you to go in your bloomers," said Mrs.
Grayson, in answer to Agony's question on the subject. "Our girls
always wear them to the villages about here; the people are accustomed
to seeing them. That green bloomer suit of yours is very pretty, Agony,"
she added, "even prettier than our regulation blue ones."

"I spilled syrup on my regular blue ones," replied Agony, "and had to
wash them out this morning; that's why I'm wearing these green ones. Do
you mind if I break up the camp color scheme for one day?"

"Not at all, under the circumstances," replied Mrs. Grayson, with a
smile. "If it's going to be a choice of green bloomers or none at all--"
She waved the laughing girls away and returned to the knotty problem in
accounts she had been working on when interrupted.

"Isn't she lovely?" exclaimed Mary enthusiastically, as they came out of
the bungalow and walked along the Alley path toward Gitchee-Gummee to
get Agony's hat. "She has such a way of trusting us girls that we just
couldn't disappoint her."

"She is lovely," echoed Agony, as they went up the steps of
Gitchee-Gummee.

"I think I'll leave a note for the girls telling them I won't be back at
supper time," said Agony, hastily pulling out her tablet. "They will be
wondering what has become of me."

It gave her no small thrill of pleasure to write that note and tuck it
under Hinpoha's hairbrush on the table: "Gone on a long hike with Mary
Sylvester; won't be back until bed time." How delightfully important and
prominent that sounded! The others admired Mary, too, but none of them
had been invited to go on a long hike with her. She, Agony, was being
drawn into that intimate inner circle of the Alley dwellers to which she
had hitherto aspired in vain.

They were soon across the river, with the boat fastened in the bushes,
and, leaving the shore, struck straight into the woods, following a path
that curved and twisted, but carried them ever toward the north, in the
direction where Atlantis lay. The way was cool and shady, the whiff of
the pines invigorating, and the distance uncoiled rapidly beneath the
feet of the two girls as they fared on with vigorous, springy footsteps
along the pleasant way. Ferns and wild flowers bordered the path; there
were brilliant cardinal flowers, pale forget-me-nots, slender blossomed
blue vervain, cheerful red lilies. In places where the woods were so
thick that the sun never penetrated, great logs lay about completely
covered with moss, looking like sofas upholstered in green, while the
round stones scattered about everywhere looked like hassocks and
footstools which belonged to the same set as the green sofas.

Once Mary stopped and crushed something under her foot, something white
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
cup.

"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
respectfully.

"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_?"

Mary nodded.

"_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
the woods.

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
dripping.

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.
Simmons's."

"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
knife.

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
unceremoniously.

"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
long."

"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
the tree."

"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
green bloomers.

"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.
"I'm--going--to--Japan!"



CHAPTER VI


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
stricken hearts.

"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
tentmates.

"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
sorts.

"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
everybody's spirits."

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
the water.

"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
Katharine's cleverness.

"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
at sunset.

"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
heart.

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
attraction.

"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
evening.



CHAPTER VII


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
thoughtfully away.

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
indefinitely.

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
Katherine.

"I don't know," sniffled Carmen.

"Didn't you bring any blankets at all?"

"No."

"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_
happy."

"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
her--"

"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,
anyway?"

"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
about her?"

"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
friendship."

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
Pratt."

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
moment later.

"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
councilor."

"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."



CHAPTER VIII


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
unethical despoiler.

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
animation.

"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
with.

"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
bloomers.

"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
Pratt.

"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
derisively.

"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.



CHAPTER IX


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
excitement.

"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
speechifying."

"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
the disgrace."

"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
square knot.

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:

    "Dearest Jo:

    "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
sent messages.

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
Mary?

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
Bengal.

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
the river.

"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
last trip."

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
with them!"

"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
Water"?

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
little things."

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
air.

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
smothered.

"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
and blankets.

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
the cups.

"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
furnace."

"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
recounted later.

"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
'Pocahontas.'"

"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
it."

"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
seemed such a spineless sort of creature. I always preferred Queen
Elizabeth, even if she did cut off Mary's head."

"Every single one of the heroines so far has died a violent death,"
remarked Miss Amesbury. "Is that the only kind of women you admire?"

"It seems so," replied Migwan, laughing. "We're a bloodthirsty lot. Go
on, Katherine."

Katherine dropped the log she was carrying upon the fire and kept her
eye upon it as she spoke. "I see a brilliant assemblage, gathered in the
palace of the Empress of Austria to hear a wonderful boy musician play
on the piano. As the young lad, who is none other than the great Mozart,
enters the room, he first approaches the Empress to make his bow to her.
The polished floor is extremely slippery, and he slips and falls flat.
The courtiers, who consider him very clumsy, do nothing but laugh at
him, but the young daughter of the Empress runs forward, helps him to
his feet and comforts him with soothing words."

"I always did think that was the most charming anecdote ever related
about Marie Antoinete," observed Migwan. "She must have been a very
sweet and lovable young girl; it doesn't seem possible that she grew up
to be the kind of woman she did."

"Another one who lost her head!" remarked Miss Amesbury, laughing.
"Aren't there going to be any who live to grow old? Let's see who
Hinpoha's favorite heroine is."

Hinpoha moved back a foot or so from the fire, which had blazed up to an
uncomfortable heat at the addition of Katherine's log. "I see a Puritan
maiden, seated at a spinning wheel," she commenced. "The door opens and
a young man comes in. He apparently has something on his mind, and
stands around first on one foot and then on the other, until the girl
asks him what seems to be the trouble, whereupon he gravely informs her
that a friend of his, a most worthy man indeed, who can write, and
fight, and--ah, do several more things all at once, wants her for his
wife. Then the girl smiles demurely at him, and says coyly--"

"Why don't you speak for yourself, John?" shouted the other six girls,
with one voice.

"You don't need to ask Hinpoha who her favorite heroine is," said Migwan
laughing. "Ever since I've known her she's read the story of Priscilla
and John Alden at least once a week."

"Well, you must admit that she _was_ pretty clever," said Hinpoha,
blushing a little at the exposure of her fondness for love stories. "And
sensible, too. She wasn't afraid of speaking up and helping her bashful
lover along a little bit, instead of meekly accepting Standish's offer
and then spending the rest of her life sighing because John Alden hadn't
asked her."

"That's right," chimed in Sahwah. "I admire a girl with spirit. If Lady
Jane Gray had had a little more spirit she wouldn't have lost her head.
I'll warrant Priscilla Mullins would have found a way out of it if she
had been in the same scrape as Lady Jane. Now, your turn, Migwan."

"I see a girl living in a bleak house on the edge of a wild, lonely
moor," began Migwan. "All winter long the storms howl around the house
like angry spirits of the air. To amuse themselves in these long winter
evenings this girl and her sisters make up stories about the people that
live on the moors and tell them to each other around the fire, or after
they have crept into bed, and lie shivering under the blankets in the
icy cold room. The stories that my girl made up were so fascinating that
the others forgot the cold and the raw winds whistling about the house
and listened spellbound until she had finished."

"I know who that is," said Gladys, when Migwan paused. "Mig is forever
raving about Charlotte Bronte."

"The more I think about her the more wonderful she seems," said Migwan
warmly. "How a girl brought up in such a dead, cheerless place as
Haworth Churchyard, and knowing nothing at all about the world of
people, could have written such a book as _Jane Eyre_, seems a miracle.
She was a genius," she finished with an envious sigh.

Miss Amesbury looked keenly at Migwan. "I think," she observed shrewdly,
"that you like to write also. Is it not so?"

Migwan blushed furiously and sat silent. To have this successful, widely
known writer know her heart's ambition filled her with an agony of
embarrassment.

"Migwan does write, wonderful things," said Hinpoha loyally. "She's had
things printed in papers and in the college magazine." Then she told
about the Indian legend that had caused such a stir in college,
whereupon Miss Amesbury laughed heartily, and patted Migwan on the head,
and said she would very much like to see some of the things she had
written. Migwan, thrilled and happy, but still very much embarrassed,
shyly promised that she would let her see some of her work, and in the
middle of her speech a potato blew up with a bang, showering them all
with mealy fragments and hot ashes, and sending them flying away from
the fire with startled shrieks.

Since the potatoes were so very evidently done, the rest of the meal was
hurriedly prepared, and eaten with keen appetites. During the clearing
away process somebody discovered that the rain had stopped falling, a
fact which they had all been too busy to notice before, and that the
mist was being rapidly blown away by a strong northwest wind. When they
woke in the morning, after sleeping in the cave around the fire, the sun
was shining brightly into the entrance and the birds outside were
singing joyously of a fair day to come.

Overflowing with energy the late cave dwellers raced through the sweet
smelling woods, indescribably fresh and fragrant after the cleansing,
purifying rain, and launched the canoes upon a river Sparkling like a
sheet of diamonds in the clear morning sunlight. How wonderfully new and
bright the rain-washed earth looked everywhere, and how exhilarating the
fresh rushing wind was to their senses, after the smoky, misty
atmosphere of the cave!

Exulting in their strength the Winnebagos bent low over their paddles,
and the canoes leaped forward like hounds set free from the leash, and
went racing along with the current, shooting past islands, whirling
around bends, whisking through tiny rapids, wildly, deliriously,
rejoicing in the thrill of the morning and the call of a world running
over with joy. Soon they came to the place where they had first planned
to camp, and there were the primroses, a-riot with bloom, nodding them a
friendly greeting.

"Aren't you glad we didn't stay here?" said Sahwah. "We'd have been
soaked if we did, because we probably wouldn't have found the cave. The
primroses saved the day for us by growing where we wanted to lay our
beds."

They sang a cheer to the primroses and swept on until they came to the
place in the woods where the balsam grew. Dusk was falling when, with
canoes piled high with the fragrant boughs, they rounded the great bend
above Keewaydin and a few minutes later ran in alongside the Camp
Keewaydin dock.

"I feel as though I had been gone for weeks," said Migwan, as they
climbed out of the canoes.

"So do I," said Sahwah, dancing up and down on the dock to take the
stiffness out of her muscles. "Doesn't it look civilized, though, after
what we've just experienced? I wish," she continued longingly, "that I
could live in the wilds all the time."

"I don't," replied Migwan, patting the diving tower as if it were an old
friend. "Camp is plenty wild enough for me."



CHAPTER X


TOPSY-TURVY DAY

"Why, where _is_ camp?" asked Sahwah in perplexity, noticing that the
whole place was dark and still. It was half past six, the usual
after-supper frolic hour, when camp was wont to ring to the echo with
fun and merriment of all kinds. Now no sound came from Mateka, nor from
the bungalow, nor from any of the tents, no sound and no movement.
Before their astonished eyes the camp lay like an enchanted city,
changed in their absence from a place of racket and bustle and
resounding laughter, to a silent ghost of its former lively self.

"What's happened?" exclaimed the Winnebagos to each other. "Is everybody
gone on a trip?"

Mystified, they climbed up the hill, and at the top they found Miss Judy
going from tent to tent with her flashlight, as if making the nightly
rounds after lights out.

"O Miss Judy," they called to her, "what's happened?"

"Shh-h-h!" replied Miss Judy, holding up her hand for silence and
coming toward them. "Everybody's in bed," she whispered when she was
near enough for them to hear her."

"In bed!" exclaimed the Winnebagos in astonishment. "At half past six in
the evening? What for?"

"It's Topsy-Turvy Day," replied Miss Judy, laughing at their amazed
faces. "We're turning everything upside down tonight. Hurry and get into
bed. The rising bugle will blow in half an hour."

Giggling with amusement the Winnebagos sped to their tents, unrolled
their ponchos, made up their beds in a hurry, undressed quickly and
popped into bed. Not long afterward they heard the dipping of paddles
and the monotonous "one, two, one two," of the boatswain as the crew of
the Turtle started out for practice. The Turtle's regular practice hour
was the half hour before rising bugle in the morning.

Tired with her long paddle that day Hinpoha fell asleep as soon as she
touched the pillow, and was much startled to hear the loud blast of a
bugle in the midst of a delightful dream. "What's the matter?" she asked
sleepily, sitting up and looking around her in bewilderment. "What are
they blowing the bugle in the middle of the night for?"

"They aren't blowing the bugle in the middle of the night," said Sahwah
with a shriek of laughter at Hinpoha's puzzled face. "This is
Topsy-Turvy Day, don't you remember? We're going to have our regular
day's program at night time. It's ten minutes to seven, and that's the
bugle for morning dip. Are you coming?"

Sahwah was already inside her bathing suit, and Agony had hers half on.
Hinpoha replied with an unintelligible sound, one-eighth grunt and
seven-eights yawn, and rising tipsily from her bed she looked around for
her bathing suit with eyes still half sealed by sleep. Sahwah helped her
into the suit and seizing her hand led her down to the water, where half
the camp, shaking with convulsive merriment at the absurdity of the
thing, were scrupulously taking their "morning dip," with toothbrush
drill and all the other regular morning ablutions.

The rising bugle blew while they were still at it and they sped back to
the tents to get dressed, making three times as much racket about this
process as they ever did in the morning. Most of the tents had no
lights, because ordinarily no one needed a light to undress by and so
the lanterns which had been given out at the beginning of the season
were scattered everywhere about camp as especial need for them had
arisen upon various occasions. But getting dressed in the dark is harder
than getting undressed, and most of the tents were in an uproar.

"I can only find one stocking," wailed Oh-Pshaw, after vainly feeling
around for several minutes. "Where's my flashlight, Katherine?"

"I'm sorry, but I just dropped it into the water jar," replied
Katherine, "and it won't work any more." Katherine herself was
hopelessly involved in her bloomers, having put both feet through the
same leg, and was lying flat on the floor trying to extricate herself.

"Can I go with only one stocking on?" Oh-Pshaw persisted plaintively. "I
haven't another pair here in the tent."

"_I_ can't find my middy," Jean Lawrence was lamenting, paying no heed
to Oh-Pshaw's troubles in regard to hosiery.

Tiny Armstrong, reaching down behind her bed for some missing article of
her costume, gave the bed such a shove that it went flying out of the
tent carrying the rustic railing with it, and they heard it go bumping
down the hillside.

"Strike one!" called Tiny ruefully. "That's what comes of being so
strong. I'll knock the tent down next."

"Will somebody please tell me where my middy is?" Jean cried tragically.
"I can't find it anywhere."

"Will someone tell _me_ where the other leg of my bloomers is?"
exclaimed Katherine. "I've shoved both feet through the same leg three
times, now. There goes the breakfast bugle!"

"Oh, where is my other stocking?"

"Where is my middy?"

"Who's gone south with my shoes?"

The threefold wail floated down on the breeze as footsteps began to run
down the Alley in the direction of the bungalow. A few minutes later the
occupants of Bedlam slid as unobtrusively as possible into the lighted
bungalow; Oh-Pshaw with her bloomers down around her ankles in a Turkish
effect, to hide the fact that she had on only one stocking; Jean with
her sweater buttoned tightly around her, Katherine with her red silk tie
bound around one knee to gather up the fullness of her bloomer leg, for
the elastic band had burst from the strain of accommodating two feet at
once; and Tiny had one white sneaker and one red Pullman slipper on.
Glancing around at the rest they saw many others in the same
plight--middies on hindside before, odd shoes and stockings, sweaters
instead of middies, and various other parodies on the regular camp
uniform--and immediately they ceased to feel conspicuous. Taking their
places around the table the campers proceeded to sing one of the morning
greetings:

  "Good morning to you,
  Good morning to you,
  Good morning, dear comrades,
  Good morning to you!"

"Did you have a good night's sleep?" was a question that made the
rounds of the table, with many droll replies, as the cereal was being
passed. Hilarity increased during the meal, as the absurdity of eating
cereal and fruit and toast at eight o'clock in the evening overcame the
girls one after the other, and the room rang with witty songs made up on
the spur of the moment.

At "Morning Sing" which followed breakfast, they solemnly sang "When
Morning Gilds the Skies," "Awake, my soul, and with the sun," "Kathleen
Mavourneen, the grey dawn is breaking," and other morning songs; the
program for the day was read, and Dr. Grayson gave a fatherly lecture on
the harmfulness of staying up after dark. Getting the tents ready for
tent inspection without lights was a proceeding which defies
description. Tiny Armstrong was still on the hillside searching for her
runaway bed when the Lone Wolf reached Bedlam in her tour of inspection,
and was given a large and black zero in consequence. She finally gave up
the search and wandered into Mateka, where, with lanterns hanging above
the long tables, Craft Hour was in full swing, the girls busily working
at clay modeling, wood-blocking and paddle decorating, while the moon,
round-eyed with astonishment, peeped through the doorway at the singular
sight. Still more astonished, the same moon looked down on the tennis
court an hour later, where a lively folk dance was going on to the
music of a graphaphone; couples spinning around in wild figures,
stepping on each other's feet and every now and then dropping down at
the outer edge of the court and shrieking with laughter, while the dance
continued faster and more furiously than before, till the sound of the
bugle sent the dancers flying swiftly to their tents to wriggle into
clammy, wet bathing suits that seemed in the dark to be an altogether
different shape from what they were in the daylight.

Standing on top of the diving tower when Tiny's cry of "All in!" rang
out, Sahwah leaped down into the darkness and had a queer, thrilling
moment in mid air when she wondered if she would ever strike the water,
or would go on indefinitely falling through the blackness. Laughing,
shouting, splashing, the campers sported in the water until all of a
sudden a red canoe shot into their midst and the director of Camp
Altamont, accompanied by two assistants, came in an advanced stage of
breathlessness to find out what the matter was. They heard the noise and
the splashing of water and thought some accident had occurred.

"No accident, thanks, only Camp Keewaydin stealing a march on old Father
Time and turning night into day," Dr. Grayson called from the dock, and
amid shouts of laughter from all around the messengers paddled back to
their camp to assure the wakened and excited boys that nothing had
happened, and that it was only another wild inspiration of the people
at Camp Keewaydin.

At midnight, when the bugle blew for dinner, everyone was as hungry as
at noon, and the kettle of cocoa and the trays of sandwiches were
emptied in a jiffy.

"Now what?" asked Dr. Grayson, looking around the table with twinkling
eyes, when the last crumb and the last drop of cocoa had disappeared.

"Rest hour," replied Mrs. Grayson emphatically. "Rest hour to last until
morning. Blow the bugle, Judy."

"Wasn't this the wildest evening we ever put in?" said Katherine,
fishing her hairbrush out of the water pail. "Where's Tiny?" she asked,
becoming aware that their Councilor was not in the tent,

"Down on the hill looking for her bed." replied Oh-Pshaw.

"Goodness, let's go down and help her," said Katherine, and Oh-Pshaw and
Jean streamed after her down the path. They stumbled over the bed before
they came to Tiny. It had turned over sidewise and fallen into a tiny
ravine, and as she had gone straight down the hill searching for it she
had missed it. Katherine stepped into the ravine, dragging the two
others with her, and at the bottom they landed on top of the bed.

Getting an iron cot up a steep hill is not the easiest thing in the
world, and when they had it up at the top of the hill they all sat down
on it and panted awhile before they could make it up. Then they
discovered that the pillow was missing and Katherine obligingly went
down the hill again to find it.

"I shan't get up again for a week," she sighed wearily as she stretched
between the sheets.

"Neither will I," echoed Tiny.

Jean and Oh-Pshaw did not echo. They were already asleep.

Katherine had just sunk into a deep slumber when she started at the
touch of a cold hand laid against her face. "What is it?" she cried out
sharply.

A face was bending over her, a pale little face framed in a lace boudoir
cap. Katherine recognized Carmen Chadwick. "What's the matter?" she
asked.

"My Councy's awful sick, and none of the other girls will wake up and I
don't know what to do," said Carmen in a scared voice.

"What's the matter with her?" asked Katherine.

"She ate too many blueberries, I guess; she's got an awful pain in her
stomach, and chills."

Katherine hugged her warm pillow. "Take the hot water bottle out of the
washstand," she directed, without moving. "There--it's on the top shelf.
There's hot water in the tank in the kitchen. And have you some Jamaica
ginger? No? Take ours--it's the only bottle on the top shelf. Now you'll
be all right."

Katherine sank back into slumber. A few minutes more and she was
awakened again by the same cold hand on her face.

"What is it now?"

"The Jamaica ginger," asked Carmen's thin voice in a bewildered tone,
"what shall I do with it? Shall I put it in the hot water bottle?"

Katherine's feet suddenly struck the floor together, and with an
explosive exclamation under her breath she sped over to Avernus and took
matters in hand herself. She had tucked Carmen into her own bed in
Bedlam, and she spent the remainder of the night over in Avernus, taking
care of the Lone Wolf, snatching a few moments' sleep in Carmen's bed
now and then when her patient felt easier. It was broad daylight before
she finally settled into uninterrupted slumber.



CHAPTER XI


EDWIN LANGHAM

Camp was more or less demoralized the next day. Miss Judy overslept and
did not blow the rising bugle until nearly noon, so dinner took the
place of breakfast and swimming hour came in the middle of the afternoon
instead of in the morning.

After swimming hour Agony went up to Miss Amesbury's balcony to return a
book she had borrowed. Miss Amesbury was not there, so Agony, as she
often did when she found her friend out, sat down to wait for her,
passing the time by looking at some sketches tying on the table. Turing
these over, Agony came upon a letter thrust in between the drawing
sheets, at the sight of which her heart began to flutter wildly. The
address on the envelope was in Mary Sylvester's handwriting--there was
no mistaking that firm, round hand; it was indelibly impressed upon
Agony's mind from seeing it on that other occasion. In a panic she
realized that the danger of being discovered was even greater than she
had thought, since Mary also wrote to Miss Amesbury. Was it not possible
that Mary had mentioned the robin incident in this letter? It now seemed
to Agony that Miss Amesbury's manner had been different toward her in
the last few days, on the trip. She seemed less friendly, less cordial.
Several times Agony had looked up lately to find Miss Amesbury regarding
her with a keen, grave scrutiny and a baffling expression on her face.
To Agony's tortured fancy these instances became magnified out of all
proportion, and the disquieting conviction seized her that Miss Amesbury
knew the truth. The thought nearly drove her mad. It tormented her until
she realized that there was only one way in which she could still the
tumult raging in her bosom, and that was by finding out for certain if
Mary had really told.

With shaking fingers she slipped the letter out of the open envelope,
and with cheeks aflame with shame at the thing she was doing, she
deliberately read Miss Amesbury's letter. It was much like the one Mary
had written to Jo Severance, full of clever descriptions of the places
she was seeing, and it made no mention either of the robin or of her.
With fingers shaking still more at the relief she felt, she put the
letter back into the envelope and replaced it between the sketches.
Then, trembling from head to foot at the reaction from her panic, she
turned her back upon the table and sat up against the railing, holding
her head in her hands and looking down at the fair sunlit river with
eyes that saw it not.

Miss Amesbury returned by and by and was so evidently pleased to see her
that Agony concluded she must have been mistaken in fancying any
coldness on her part during the last few days.

"I've a letter from Mary Sylvester," Miss Amesbury said almost at once,
"and because you are following so closely in Mary's footsteps I'm going
to read it to you." She smiled brightly into Agony's sober face and
paused to pat her on the shoulder before she fluttered over the pile of
sketches to find the letter.

Agony sat limply, listening to the words she had read a few minutes
before, despising herself thoroughly and wishing with all her heart that
she had never come to camp. Yet she forced herself to make appreciative
comments on the interesting things in the letter and to utter sincere
sounding exclamations of surprise at certain points.

"I've something to tell you that will please you," said Miss Amesbury,
after the letter had been put away.

"What is it?" asked Agony, looking up inquiringly.

"Someone you admire very much is going to visit Camp," replied Miss
Amesbury.

"Who?" Agony's eyes opened up very wide with surprise.

"Edwin Langham. He has been camping not very far from here and he is
going to run down on his way home and pay Dr. Grayson a flying visit.
They are old friends."

"Edwin Langham?" Agony gasped faintly, her head awhirl. It seemed past
comprehension that this man whom she had worshipped as a divinity for so
long was actually to materialize in the flesh--that the cherished desire
of her life was coming true, that she was going to see and talk with
him.

"Goodness, don't look so excited, child," said Miss Amesbury, laughing.
"He's only a man. A very rare and wonderful man, however," she added,
"and it is a great privilege to know him."

"When is he coming?" asked Agony in a whisper.

"Tomorrow afternoon. He is going to stop off between boats and will be
here only a short time."

"Do you suppose he will speak to me?" asked Agony humbly.

"I rather think he will," replied Miss Amesbury, smiling. "You see," she
continued, taking Agony's hand in hers as she spoke, "it just happened
that Edwin Langham was the man who sat under the tree that time you
climbed up and rescued the robin. He was laid up with blood poisoning in
his foot at the time and he had been wheeled into the woods from his
camp that afternoon. His man had left him for a short time when you
happened along. He was the man who told about the incident down at the
store at Green's Landing, where Dr. Grayson heard about it later from
the storekeeper. Dr. Grayson did not know at the time that it was his
friend Edwin Langham who had witnessed the affair, but in the letter Dr.
Grayson has just received from Mr. Langham he gives an enthusiastic
account of it, and says he is coming to camp partly for the purpose of
meeting the girl in the green bloomers who performed that splendid deed
that day. So you see, my dear," Miss Amesbury concluded, "I think it is
highly probable that you will have an opportunity to speak to your
idolized Edwin Langham."

For a moment things turned black before Agony's eyes. She rose
unsteadily to her feet and crossed the balcony to the stairs. "I must be
going, now," she murmured through dry lips.

"Must you go so soon?" asked Miss Amesbury with a real regret in her
voice that cut Agony to the heart.

"Come again, come often," floated after her as she passed through the
door.

Agony sped away from camp and hid herself away in the woods, where she
sank down at the foot of a great tree and hid her face in her hands. The
thing she had desired, had longed for above all others, was now about to
come to pass--and she had made it forever an impossibility. The cup of
joy that Fate had decreed she was to taste she had dashed to the ground
with her own hands. For she could not see Edwin Langham, could not let
him see her. As long as he did not see her her secret was safe. He did
not know her name, or Mary's, so he could not betray her in that way.
Only, if he ever saw her he would know the difference right away, and
then would come betrayal and disgrace. There was only one thing to do.
She must hide away from him; and give up her opportunity of meeting and
talking with him. It was the only way out of the predicament.

When the steamer swung into view around the bend of the river the next
afternoon Agony stole away into the thickest part of the woods and
proceeded toward a place she had discovered some time before. It was a
deep, extremely narrow ravine, so narrow indeed that it was merely a
great crock in the earth, not more than six feet across at its widest.
It was filled with a wild growth of elderberry bushes, which made it an
excellent hiding place. She scrambled down into this pit and crouched
under the bushes, completely hidden from view. Here she sat with her
head bowed down on her knees, hearing the whistle of the steamer as it
neared the dock, and the welcoming song of the girls as the
distinguished passenger alighted. A little later it seemed to her that
she heard voices calling her name. Yes, it was so, without a doubt. Tiny
Armstrong's megaphone voice came echoing on the breeze.

"A-go-ny! A-go-ny! Oh-h-h-h, A--go--ny!"

       *       *       *       *       *

She clenched her hands in silent misery, and did not raise her head.
Then the sound of a bark arrested her attention, coming from directly
overhead, and she sat up in consternation. Micky, the bull pup belonging
to the Camp, had discovered her hiding place and would undoubtedly give
her away.

"Go away, Micky!" she commanded in a low tone. At the sound of her voice
Micky barked more loudly than ever, a joyous, welcoming bark. Having
been much petted by Agony, Micky had grown very fond of her, and seeing
her walk off into the woods today, he had followed after her, and now
gave loud voice to his satisfaction at finding her.

"Micky! Go away!" commanded Agony a second time, throwing a lump of dirt
at him. Micky looked astonished as the dirt flew past his nose, but
refused to retire.

"Well, if you won't go away, come down in here, then," said Agony.
"Here, Micky, Micky," she called coaxingly.

Micky, clumsy puppy that he was, made a wild leap into the ravine and
landed upon the sharp point of a jagged stump, cutting a jagged gash in
his shoulder. How he did howl! Agony expected every minute that the
whole camp would come running to the spot to find out what the matter
was. But fortunately the wind was blowing from the direction of Camp
and the sound was carried the other way. Agony worked frantically to get
the wound bound up and the poor puppy soothed into silence. At last he
lay still, with his head in her lap, licking her hand with his moppy red
tongue every few seconds to tell her how grateful he was.

Thus she sat until she heard the deep whistle of the returning steamer
and the farewell song of the girls as they stood on the dock and waved
goodbye to Edwin Langham. When she was sure that the boat must be out of
sight she shoved Micky gently out of her lap and rose to climb out of
her hiding place. Her feet were asleep from sitting so long in her
cramped position and as she tried to get a foothold on the steep side of
the ravine she slipped and fell headlong, striking her head on a stump
and twisting her back. It was not until night that they found her, after
her continued absence from camp had roused alarm, and searching parties
had been made up to scour the woods. Tiny Armstrong, shouting her way
through the woods, first heard a muffled bark and then a feeble answer
to her call, coming from the direction of the ravine, and charging
toward it like a fire engine she discovered the two under the elderberry
bushes.

Agony was lifted gently out and laid on the ground to await the coming
of an improvised stretcher.

"We hunted and hunted for you this afternoon," said Jo Severance,
bending over her with an anxious face. "The poet, Edwin Langham, was
here, and he wanted especially to see you, and was dreadfully
disappointed when we couldn't find you. He left a book here for you."

"Oh," groaned Agony, and those hearing her thought that she must be in
great physical pain.

"How did you happen to fall into that ravine?" asked Jo.

Agony was becoming light headed from the blow on her temple, and she
answered in disjointed phrases.

"Didn't fall in--went down--purpose. Micky--fell in--hurt shoulder--I
bandaged it--fell trying--to--get--out."

Her voice trailed off weakly toward the end.

"There, don't talk," said Dr. Grayson. "We understand all about it. The
dog fell in and hurt himself and you went down after him and then fell
in yourself. Being kind to dumb animals again. Noble little girl. We're
proud of you."

Agony heard it all as in a dream, but could summon no voice to speak.
She was _so_ tired. After all, why not let them think that? It was the
best way out. Otherwise they might wonder how she happened to be in the
ravine--it would be hard for them to believe that she had fallen into it
herself in broad daylight, and it might be embarrassing to answer
questions. Let them believe that she had gone down after the dog. That
settled the matter once for all.

The stretcher arrived and she was carried to her tent, where Dr. Grayson
made a thorough examination of her injuries.

"Not serious," was his verdict, to everybody's immense relief. "Painful
bump on the head, but no real damage done, and back strained a little,
that's all."

Once more Agony was the camp heroine, and her tent was crowded all day
long with admirers. Miss Amesbury sat and read to her by the hour; the
camp cook made up special dishes and sent them out on a tray trimmed
with wild flowers; the camp orchestra serenaded her daily and nightly,
and half a dozen clever camp poets made up songs in her honor. Fame
comes easily in camps, and enthusiasm runs high while it lasts.

Agony reflected, in a grimly humorous way, that in the matter of fame
she had a sort of Midas touch; everything she did rebounded to her
glory, now that the ball was once started rolling. And worst of all was
the book that Edwin Langham had left for her, a beautiful copy of "The
Desert Garden," bound in limp leather with gold edged leaves. Inside the
cover was written in a flowing, beautiful hand:

    "To A.C.W., in memory of a certain day in the woods.
    From one who rejoices in a brave and noble deed.
    Sincerely, Edwin Langham."

On the opposite page was written a quotation which Agony had been
familiar with ever since she had become a Winnebago:

    "Love is the joy of service so deep that self is
    forgotten."

She put the book away where she could not see it, but the words had
burned themselves into her brain.

    "To A.C.W. From one who rejoices in a brave and noble
    deed."

They mocked her in the dead of night, they taunted her in the light of
day. But, like the boy with the fox gnawing at his vitals, Agony
continued to smile and make herself agreeable, and no one ever suspected
that her gayety was not genuine.



CHAPTER XII


THE STUNT'S THE THING

"Where would a shipwreck look best, right by the dock, or farther up the
shore?" Sahwah's forehead puckered up with the force of her reflection.

"Oh, not right by the dock," said Jo Severance decidely. "That would be
too modern and--commonplace. It's lots more epic to be dashed against a
rocky cliff. All the shipwrecks in the books happen on stern and
rockbound coasts and things like that."

"It might be more epic for those who are looking on, but for the one
that gets shipwrecked," Sahwah reminded her. "As long as I'm the one
that get's wrecked I'm going to pick out a soft spot to get wrecked on."

"Why not capsize some distance out in the water and swim ashore?"
suggested Migwan.

"Of course!" exclaimed Sahwah. "Why didn't we think of that before?
Geese!"

"This is the way we'll start, then," said Migwan, taking out her
notebook and scribbling in it with a pencil. "Scene One. Sinbad the
Sailor clinging to wreckage of vessel out in the water. He drifts ashore
and lands in the kingdom of the Keewaydins." She paused and bit the end
of her pencil, seeking inspiration. "Then, what will you do when you
land, Sahwah?"

"Oh, I'll just poke around a bit, and then discover the Keewaydins in
their native wilds," replied Sahwah easily. "Then I'll go around with
you while you go through the events of a day in camp. O, I think it's
the grandest idea!" she interrupted herself in a burst of rapture.
"We'll get the stunt prize as easy as pie. The Avenue will never be able
to think up anything nearly as good. How did you ever manage to think of
it, Migs?"

"Why, it just came all by itself," replied Migwan modestly.

Anyone who had ever spent a summer at Camp Keewaydin, passing at that
moment, and hearing the conversation, would have known exactly what week
of the year it was without consulting a calendar. It was the second week
in August--the week of Camp Keewaydin's annual Stunt Night, when the
Avenue and the Alley matched their talents in a contest to see which one
could put on the best original stunt. Next to Regatta Day, when the two
struggled for the final supremacy in aquatics, Stunt Night was the
biggest event of the camping season. Rivalry was intense. It was a fair
test of the talents of the girls themselves, for the councilors were
not allowed to participate, nor to give the slightest aid or advice. The
boys from Camp Altamont came over with their councilors, and together
with the directors and councilors of Camp Keewaydin they voted on which
stunt was the best. Originality counted most; finish in working out the
details next.

The Alley's stunt this year was a sketch entitled THE LAST VOYAGE OF
SINBAD THE SAILOR, and was a burlesque on Camp life. The idea had come
to Migwan in a flash of inspiration one night when Dr. Grayson was
reading the Arabian Nights aloud before the fire in the bungalow. She
communicated her idea to the rest of the Alley and they received it with
whoops of joy.

Now it lacked but three days until Stunt Night, and the Alleyites, over
on Whaleback, where they would be safe from detection, were deep in the
throes of rehearsing. Sahwah, of course, was picked for the role of the
shipwrecked Sinbad, for she was the only one who could be depended upon
to stage the shipweck in a thrilling manner.

"What kind of a costume do I wear?" she inquired, when the location of
the shipwreck itself had finally been settled. "What nationality was
Sinbad, anyhow?"

"He came from Bagdad," replied Sahwah brilliantly.

"But where was Bagdad?"

"In Syria," declared Oh-Pshaw.

"Asia," promptly answered Gladys.

"Turkey," said Katherine, somewhat doubtfully, and "Persia," said Agony
in the same breath.

Then they all looked at each other a little sheepishly.

"The extent to which I don't know geography," remarked Sahwah, "is
something appalling."

"Well, if _we_ don't know what country Bagdad was in, it's pretty sure
that none of the others will either," said Hinpoha brightly, "so it
doesn't make much difference what kind of a costume you wear. Something
Turkish is what you want, I suppose. A turban and some great big
bloomers, you know the kind, with yards and yards of goods in them."

"But you can't swim in such awfully full bloomers," Sahwah protested.

"That's so, too," Hinpoha assented.

"Well, get them as big as you _can_ swim in," said Migwan pacifically.

"Who's going to make them?" Sahwah wanted to know. "We haven't much
time."

"Oh, just borrow Tiny Armstrong's regular ones," Migwan replied.
"They'll look like Turkish bloomers on you."

"Won't she suspect what we're going to do if I borrow them?" Sahwah
demurred.

"Nonsense! What could she suspect? She will know of course that you
want them for the stunt, but she couldn't guess _what_ for."

"We've got to have her other pair, too, for the person who is going to
impersonate Tiny," Agony reminded Migwan.

"So we do," replied Migwan, making a note in her book. "And her
stockings, too, those red and black ones. We're going to do that snake
business over again. Somebody will have to get these without Tiny's
knowing it, or she'll suspect about the snake. Who's in her tent?"

"We are," replied Katherine and Oh-Pshaw. "We'll manage to get them for
you. Who's going to impersonate Tiny Armstrong?"

Migwan squinted her eyes in a calculating manner and surveyed the girls
grouped around her. "It'll have to be Katherine, I guess," she finally
announced. "She's the biggest of us all. But even she isn't nearly as
big as Tiny," she added regretfully.

"Couldn't we put two of us together?" suggested Sahwah. "Carmen Chadwick
is as light as a feather and she could get up on Katherin's shoulders as
easy as not."

"But we need Katherine to impersonate the Lone Wolf. She's the only one
who can do it well," objected Migwan. "Somebody else will have to be the
bottom half of Tiny. Hinpoha, you'll do for that part. Gladys, you'll be
Pom-pom, of course. There, that's three councilors taken care of. As
soon as your parts are assigned will you please step over to that side,
girls. Then I can see what I have left. Now, who'll be Miss Peckham?"

There was a silence, and all the eligibles looked at one another
doubtfully. Nobody quite dared impersonate Miss Peckham--and nobody
wanted to, for that matter.

"Jo?" Migwan began hesitatingly. "You're such a good mimic--no--" she
broke off decidely, "you have to be Dr. Grayson, of course, because you
can play men's parts so beautifully."

She looked from one to the other inquiringly. Her eye fell upon Bengal
Virden. "Bengal, dear--"

Bengal looked up with a jerk and a grimace of distaste. "I wouldn't be
Pecky for a thousand dollars," she declared flatly. "I hate her, I tell
you." Then something seemed to occur to her, and a mischievous twinkle
came into her eyes. "Oh, I'll be her," she exclaimed, throwing grammar
to the winds in her eagerness. "Please let me. I want to be, I want to
be."

"All right," said Migwan relievedly, putting the entry down in her
notebook and proceeding with the assignment of parts. But Agony, having
seen the mischievous gleam that came into Bengal's eyes when she so
suddenly changed her mind about impersonating Miss Peckham, wondered as
to its meaning.

She called Bengal to come aside with her, and Bengal, enraptured at
being noticed by her divinity, trotted after her like a delighted
Newfoundland puppy, bestowing clumsy caresses upon her as they
proceeded.

"Oh, I've got the best joke on Pecky!" she gurgled, before Agony had had
a chance to broach the subject herself.

"Yes?" said Agony.

"Did you know," confided Bengal, with a fresh burst of giggles, "that
Pecky shaves?"

Then, as Agony gave a little incredulous exclamation, she hastened on.
"Really she does, her whole chin, with a razor, every morning. I found
it out a couple of days ago. I guess she'd have a regular beard if she
didn't. You've noticed how kind of hairy her chin is, haven't you? I
found a little safety razor among her things one day--"

"Bengal! You weren't rummaging among her things, were you?"

"No, of course not. But once when we were all up in the bungalow she
found that she'd forgotten her watch, and sent me back to get it out of
her bathrobe pocket, and there was a little safety razor in where the
watch was. I didn't think anything about it then, but after that I
noticed that she always went off by herself in the woods. While the rest
of us went for morning dip. Yesterday I followed her and saw what she
did. She shaved her chin with that safety razor. Oh, won't it be great
fun when I do that in the stunt? Won't she be hopping mad, though!"
Bengal hopped up and down and chortled with anticipatory glee.

"Bengal!" said Agony firmly, "don't you _dare_ do anything like that?
Don't you know that it's terribly bad taste to make fun of people's
personal blemishes?"

"But she deserves it," Bengal persisted, still chuckling. "She's such a
prune."

"That has nothing whatever to do with the matter," Agony replied
sternly. "Do you want to ruin our stunt for us? That's what will happen
if you do anything as ill-bred as that. It would take away every chance
we have of winning the prize."

"Well, if _you_ say I shouldn't do it I won't," said Bengal rather
sulkily. "But wouldn't it have been the best joke!" she added
regretfully.

"Bengal," Agony continued, realizing that even if Bengal could be
suppressed as far as the stunt went, she would still have plenty of
opportunity for making life miserable for Miss Peckham now that she had
learned her embarrassing secret, "you won't mention this to any of the
other girls, will you? You see, it must be very embarrassing for Miss
Peckham to have to do that, and naturally she would feel highly
uncomfortable if the camp found it out. You see, you found it out by
accident; she didn't tell you of her own free will, so you have no right
to tell it any further. A girl with a nice sense of honor would never
think of telling anything she found out in that way, when she knew it
would cause embarrassment if told. So you'll give me your promise, won't
you, Bengal dear, that you will never mention this matter to anybody
around camp?"

Bengal flushed and looked down, maintaining an obstinate silence.

"Please, won't you, Bengal dear?" coaxed Agony in her most irresistible
manner. "Will you do it for me if you won't do it for Miss Peckham?"

Bengal could not hold out against the coaxing of her adored one, but she
still hesitated, bargaining her promise for a reward. "If you'll let me
wear your ring for the rest of the summer, and come and kiss me
goodnight every night after I'm in bed--"

"All right," Agony agreed hastily, with a sigh of resignation for this
departure from her fixed principles regarding the lending of jewelry and
about promiscuous demonstrations of affection, but peace in camp was
worth the price.

Bengal claimed the ring at once, and then, after pawing Agony over like
a bear cub, said a little shamefacedly, "I wish I were as good as you
are. You're so honorable. How do you get such a 'nice sense of honor' as
you have? I think I'd like to have one."

"Such a nice sense of honor as you have!" Agony jerked up as though she
had been jabbed with a red hot needle. "Such a nice sense of honor as
you have!" The words lingered in her ears like a mocking echo. The smile
faded from her lips; her arm stiffened and dropped from Bengal's
shoulder. The frank admiration in the younger girl's eyes cut her to the
quick. With a haggard look she turned away from Bengal and wandered away
to the other part of the island, away from the girls. Just now she could
not bear to hear their gay, carefree voices. What would she not give,
she thought to herself, to have nothing on her mind. She even envied
rabbit-brained little Carmen Chadwick, who, if she had nothing in her
head, had nothing on her conscience either.

"Who am I to talk of a 'nice sense of honor' to Bengal Virden?" she
thought miserably. "I'm a whole lot worse than she. She's only a
mischievous child, and doesn't know any better, but I do. I'm no better
than Jane Pratt, either, even though I told Mrs. Grayson about her going
out at night with boys from Camp Altamont." This matter of Jane Pratt
had tormented Agony without ceasing. True to her contemptuous attitude
toward Agony's plea that she break bonds no more, she had refused to
tell Mrs. Grayson about her nocturnal canoe rides and thus had forced
Agony to make good her threat and tell Mrs. Grayson herself. She had
hoped and prayed that Jane would take the better course and confess her
own wrong doing, but Jane did nothing of the kind, and there was only
one course open to Agony. It was the rule of the camp that anyone seeing
another breaking the rules must first give the offender the opportunity
to confess, and if that failed must report the matter herself to the
Doctor or Mrs. Grayson. So Agony was obliged to tell Mrs. Grayson that
Jane was breaking the rules by slipping out nights and setting a bad
example to the younger girls if any of them knew about it.

The matter caused more of a stir than Agony had expected, and much more
than she had wished for. Dr. Grayson prided himself upon the high
standard of conduct which was maintained at his camp, and he knew that
the mothers of his girls gave their daughters into his keeping with
implicit faith that they would meet with no harmful influences while
they were at Camp Keewaydin. If a rumor should ever get about that the
girls from his camp went out in canoes after hours Keewaydin's
reputation would suffer considerably. Dr. Grayson was outraged and
thoroughly angry. He decided at once that Jane should be sent home in
disgrace. That very day, however, Mrs. Grayson had received a letter
saying that Jane's mother was quite ill in a sanatarium and that all
upsetting news was being carefully kept away from her. She particularly
desired that Jane should not come home, as there was no place for her to
stay, and she was so much better taken care of in camp than she would be
in a large city with no one to look after her. It was this letter that
brought about a three-hour conference between the Doctor and Mrs.
Grayson. Dr. Grayson was firm about sending Jane home in disgrace; Mrs.
Grayson, filled with concern about her well loved friend, could not bear
to risk upsetting her at this critical time by turning loose her unruly
daughter. In the end Mrs. Grayson won her point, and Jane was allowed to
stay in camp, but she was deprived of all canoe privileges for the
remainder of the summer and forbidden to go on any of the trips with the
camp. She was taken away from the easy-going, sound-sleeping councilor
whose chaperonage she had succeeded in eluding, and placed in a tent
with Mrs. Grayson herself. Dr. Grayson called the whole camp together in
council and explained the matter to the girls, dwelling upon the
dishonorableness of breaking rules, and when he finished his talk there
was small danger that even the smallest rule would be broken again
during the summer. The sight of Jane Pratt called out in public to be
censured was not one to be soon forgotten. Agony was commended by the
Doctor for her firm stand in the matter, and praised because she did not
take the easier course of remaining silent about it and running the risk
of letting the reputation of the camp suffer.

Since then Jane, though somewhat subdued, had treated Agony with such
marked animosity of manner that Agony hardly dared look at her. Added
to her natural embarrassment at having been the in-former--a role which
no one ever really enjoys--was the matter which lay like lead on Agony's
own conscience and which tortured her out of all proportion to its real
significance.

"Pretender!" the whole world seemed to shriek at her wherever she went.

Thus, although Agony apparently was throwing herself heart and soul into
the preparations for Stunt Night, her mind was not on it half of the
time and at times she was hardly conscious of the bustle and excitement
around her.

These last three days the camp were as a house divided against itself,
as far as the Avenue and the Alley were concerned. Such a gathering of
groups into corners, such whispering and giggling, such sudden
scattering at the approach of one from the other side! Sahwah spent two
whole afternoons over on the far side of Whaleback, rehearsing her
shipwreck, while the rest of the Alleyites worked up their parts on
shore, trying to imitate the voices and characteristics of the various
councilors. All went fairly well except the combination Tiny Armstrong.
Carmen Chadwick, on top of Hinpoha, and draped up in Tiny's clothes,
made a truly imposing figure that drew involuntary applause from the
rest of the cast, but when Tiny spoke, the weak, piping voice that
issued from the gigantic figure promptly threw them all into hysterics.
The real Tiny's voice was as deep and resonant as a fog horn.

"That'll never do!" gasped Migwan through her tears of merriment. "That
doesn't sound any more like Tiny than a chipping sparrow sounds like a
lion. We'll have to get somebody with a deeper voice for the upper half
of Tiny."

"But there isn't anybody else as light as Carmen," Hinpoha protested,
"and I can't carry anybody that's any heavier."

Migwan wrinkled her brows and considered the matter.

"Oh, leave it the way it is," proposed Jo Severance. "They'll never
notice a little thing like that."

"Yes, they will too," Gladys declared. "Anyway, you can't hear what
Carmen says, and we want the folks to hear Tiny's speech, because it's
so funny."

"But what are we going to do about it?" asked Migwan in perplexity.

"I know," said Katherine, rising to the occasion, as usual, "let the
other half of Tiny do the talking. Hinpoha can make her voice quite deep
and loud. It doesn't make any difference which half of Tiny talks, as
long as the people hear it."

"Just the thing!" exclaimed Migwan delightedly. "Katherine, that head of
yours will make your fortune yet. All right, Hinpoha, you speak Tiny's
lines."

Hinpoha complied, and the effect of her voice coming apparently from
beneath Tiny's ribs, while Tiny's mouth up above remained closed, was a
great deal funnier than the first way.

"Never mind," said Migwan firmly, while the rest wept with laughter on
each other's shoulders, "it sounds more like Tiny than the other way.
You might stand with your back turned while you talk if Sinbad can't
keep his face straight when he looks at you. You'd all better practice
keeping your faces straight though. Katherine, you won't forget to get
that gaudy blanket off the Lone Wolf's bed, will you?"

Migwan, her classic forehead streaked with perspiration and red color
from the notebook in her hands, directed the rehearsal of her production
all through the hot afternoon, until the lengthening shadows on the
island warned them that is was time to get back to camp and prepare for
the real performance. The stunts were to begin at six-thirty, and would
be held in the open space in front of Mateka, overlooking the river. The
Avenue's stunt was to go on first, as the long end had fallen to them in
the drawing of the cuts.

There was a great scurrying around after props after the Alleyites came
back from the Island after that last rehearsal. Migwan, checking up her
list, was constantly coming upon things that had been forgotten.

"Did somebody get Tiny Armstrong's red striped stockings?" she asked
anxiously.

Nobody had remembered to get them. Katherine departed forthwith in quest
of the necessary hosiery and found one of the stockings hanging out on
the tent rope. The other was not in evidence. She was about to depart
quietly without going into the tent, for one stocking was all that she
needed, when a toothbrush suddenly whizzed past her ear, coming from the
tent door. Laughing, she turned and went into the tent, first hastily
concealing Tony's stocking in the front of her middy.

The flinger of the toothbrush turned out to be Tiny herself, who was
sitting up in bed with her nightgown on.

"What's the matter, Tiny?" Katherine asked solicitously. "Are you sick?
Aren't you going to get up to see the Stunts?"

"Get up!" shouted Tiny wrathfully. "I _can't_ get up--I haven't any
clothes."

"No clothes?" murmured Katherine in a puzzled tone.

"Everything's gone," continued Tiny plaintively, "bloomers, middies,
shoes, stockings, hat, everything. Somebody has taken and hidden them
for a joke, I suppose. I went to sleep here this afternoon, and when I
woke up everything was gone."

Katherine suddenly grew very non-committal, although she wanted to
shriek with laughter. Oh-Pshaw, who had been sent after a suit of
Tiny's that afternoon, had apparently made a pretty thorough job of it.

"Somebody must be playing a joke on you," Katherine remarked tranquilly,
although she was conscious of the lump that Tiny's one remaining
stocking made under her middy. "Never mind. Tiny, I'll go out and borrow
some things for you to wear."

"But there's nothing of anybody's here that I can get into," mourned
Tiny. "I'm four sizes bigger than the biggest of you. You'll have to
find out who's hidden my things and bring them back."

Katherine was touched by Tiny's predicament, but the stunt had first
claim on her. She came back presently with Tiny's bathing suit, which
she had hanging on a nearby tree, and a long raincoat of Dr. Grayson's,
together with his tennis shoes. She even had to beg a pair of his socks
from Mrs. Grayson, for all of Tiny's that had not been borrowed were
away at the laundry. And in that collection of clothes Tiny had to go
and sit in the Judges' box at the Stunts, but her good nature was not
ruffled one whit on account of it.

Katherine was still getting Tiny into her improvised wardrobe when a
loud hubbub proclaimed the arrival of the boys from Camp Altamont, and
at the same time the bugle sounded the assembly call for the girls. The
Alleyites, bursting with impatience for the time of their own stunt to
arrive, settled themselves in their places to watch the Avenue stunt.
The bugle sounded again, and the chairman of the Avenue stunt stood up.

"Our stunt tonight," she announced, "tells a hitherto unpublished one of
Gulliver's Travels, namely, his voyage to the Land of the Keewaydins."

The Alley sat up with one convulsive jerk. "Gulliver's Travels!" That
sounded nearly like their own idea.

Then the stunt proceeded, beginning with Gulliver wrecked on the shore
of the Land of the Keewaydins. Undine Girelle was Gulliver, and her
shipwreck was trully a thrilling one. She finally landed, spent with
swimming, on the shore, and was taken in hand by the friendly
Keewaydins, who proceeded to show him their customs. The Alley gradually
turned to stone as they saw practically the very same things they were
planning to do, being performed before their eyes by the Avenue. There
was Miss Peckham and the stocking-snake (that explained to Katherine why
she had only been able to find one of Tiny's red and black stockings);
there was Tiny herself, and made out of two girls, just as they were
going to do it! There was Dr. Grayson, there were all the other
councilors; there was a burlesque on camp life almost exactly as they
had planned to do it!

The boys and the councilors applauded wildly, but the Alleyites, too
surprised and taken back to be appreciative, merely looked at each
other in mute consternation.

"Somebody gave away our secret!" was the first indignant thought that
flashed into the minds of the Alleyites, but the utter astonishment of
the Avenue when the Alley said that their stunt was practically the
same, soon convinced them that the whole thing was a mere co-incidence.

"It's a wonder I didn't suspect anything when I found that all of Tiny's
clothes were gone," said Katherine. "That should have told me that
someone else was impersonating her."

The Alley at first declined to put on their stunt, since it was so
nearly the same as the other, but the audience refused to let them off,
insisting that they had come to see two stunts, and they were going to
see two, even if they _were_ alike.

"We can still judge which is the best," said Dr. Grayson. "In fact, it
is an unusual opportunity. Usually the stunts are so different that it
is hard to tell which is the better, but having two performances on the
same subject gives a rare chance to consider the fine points."

So the Alley went ahead with their stunt just as if nothing out of the
way had occurred, and the judges applauded them just as wildly as they
had the others. In the end, the honors had to be evenly divided between
the two, for the judges declared that one was just as good as the other
and it was impossible to decide between them.

"And we were so dead sure that the Avenue would never be able to think
up anything nearly as clever as ours," remarked Sahwah ruefully, as she
prepared for bed that night.

"I'm beginning to come to the conclusion," replied Hinpoha with a sleepy
yawn, "that it isn't safe to be too sure of anything. You never can tell
from the outside of people what they are likely to have inside of them."

"No, you can't" echoed Agony soberly.



CHAPTER XIII


THEIR NATIVE WILDS

Miss Judy's hat was more or less a barometer of the state of her
emotions. Worn far back on her head with its brim turned up, it
indicated that she was at peace with all the world and upon pleasure
bent; tipped over one ear, it denoted intense preoccupation with
business affairs; pulled low over her eyes, it was a sign of extreme
vexation. This morning the hat was pulled so far down over her face that
only the tip of her chin was visible. Katherine, stopping to help her
run a canoe up on the bank after swimming hour, noticed the unnecessary
vehemence of her movements, and asked mildly as to the cause.

Miss Judy replied with a single explosive exclamation of "Monty!"

"Monty!" Katherine echoed inquringly. "What's that?"

"You're right, it _is_ a 'what'," replied Miss Judy emphatically,
"although it usually goes down in the catalog as a 'who.' It's my
cousin, Egmont Satter-white," she continued in explanation. "He's
coming to pay us a visit at camp."

"Yes," said Katherine. "What is he like?"

"Like?" repeated Miss Judy derisively. "He's like the cock who thought
the sun didn't get up until he crowed--so conceited; only he goes still
farther. He doesn't see what need there is for the sun at all while he
is there to shed his light. He's the only child of his adoring mother,
and she's cultivated him like a rare floral specimen; private tutors and
all that sort of thing. Now he's learned everything there is to know,
and he's ready to write a book. He regards his fellow creatures as
quaint and curious specimens, 'rather diverting for one to observe,
don't you know,' but not at all important. I suppose he's going to put a
chapter in his book about girls, because he wrote to father and
announced that he was going to run up for a week or so and observe us in
our native wilds--that was the delicate way he put it. He'll probably
set down everything he sees in a notebook and then go home and solemnly
write his chapter, wise as Solomon."

"What a bore!" sighed Katherine. "I hate to be stared at, and 'observed'
for somebody else's benefit."

"Monty's a pest!" Miss Judy exploded wrathfully. "I don't see why father
ever told him he could come. He's under no obligations to him--we're
only third cousins, and Monty considers us far, far beneath him at
best. But you know how father is--hospitality with a capital H. So we're
doomed to a visitation from Monty."

"When is he coming?" asked Katherine, smiling at Miss Judy's lugubrious
tone.

"The day after tomorrow," replied Miss Judy. "The Thursday afternoon
boat has the honor of bringing him."

"'O better that her shattered hulk should sink beneath the wave,' eh?"
remarked Katherine sympathetically.

"Katherine," said Miss Judy feelingly, "_vous et moi_ we speak the same
language, _n'est-ce pas_?"

"We do," agreed Katherine laughingly.

That evening when all the campers were gathered around the fire in the
bungalow, listening to Dr. Grayson reading "The Crock of Gold" to the
pattering accompaniment of the raindrops on the roof, Miss Judy went
into the camp office to answer the telephone, and came out with a look
of half-humorous exasperation on her face.

"What is it?" asked Dr. Grayson, pausing in his reading.

"It's Cousin Monty," announced Miss Judy. He's at Emmet's Landing, two
stops down the river. He decided to come to camp a day earlier than he
had written. He got off the boat at Emmet's Landing to sketch an
'exquisite' bit of scenery that he spied there. Now he's marooned at
Emmet's Landing and can't get a boat to bring him to camp. He decided
to stay there all night, and found a room, but the bed didn't look
comfortable. He wants us to come and get him."

"At this time of night!" Dr. Grayson exclaimed involuntarily. He
recovered himself instantly. "Ah yes, certainly, of course. I'll go and
get him. Tell him I'll come for him."

"But it's raining pitchforks," demurred Miss Judy.

"Ah well, never mind, I'll go anyhow," said her father composedly.

"I'll go with you," declared Miss Judy firmly. "I'll run the launch." As
she passed by Katherine on her way out of the bungalow she flashed her a
meaning look, which Katherine answered with a sympathetic grimace.

In the morning when camp assembled for breakfast there was Cousin Egmont
sitting beside Dr. Grayson at the table, notebook in hand, looking about
him in a loftily curious way. He was a small, slightly built youth,
sallow of complexion and insignificant of feature, with pale hair
brushed up into an exaggerated pompadour, and a neat little moustache.
In contrast to Dr. Grayson's heroic proportions he looked like a Vest
Pocket Edition alongside of an Unabridged.

"Nice little camp you have here, Uncle, very," he drawled, peering
languidly through his huge spectacles at the shining river and the far
off rolling hills beyond. "Nothing like the camps I've seen in
Switzerland, though. For real camps you want to go to Switzerland,
Uncle. A chap I know goes there every summer. Of course, for a girl's
camp this does very well, very. Pretty fair looking lot of girls you
have, Uncle. All from picked families, eh? Require references and all
that sort of thing?"

Dr. Grayson made a deprecatory gesture with his hand and looked uneasily
around the table, to see if Egmont's remarks were being overheard. But
Mrs. Grayson sat on the other side of Egmont, and the seat next to the
Doctor was vacant, so there was really no one within hearing distance
except the Lone Wolf, who sat opposite to Mrs. Grayson, and she was
deeply engrossed in conversation with the girl on the other side of her.

Monty prattled on. "You see, Uncle, I wouldn't have come up here to
observe if I thought they were not from the best families. Anybody I'd
care to write about--you understand, Uncle."

"Yes, I understand," replied Dr. Grayson quizzically. "Have you taken
any notes yet?" he continued.

"Nothing yet," Monty admitted, "but I mean to begin immediately after
breakfast. I mean to flit unobtrusively about Camp, Uncle, and watch the
young ladies when they do not suspect I am around, taking down their
innocent girlish conversation among themselves. So much more natural
that way, Uncle, very!"

Dr. Grayson hurriedly took a huge mouthful of water, and then choked on
it in a very natural manner, and Miss Judy's coming in with the mail bag
at that moment caused a welcome diversion.

"Ah, good morning, Cousin Judith," drawled Monty. "I see you didn't get
up as early as the rest of us. Perhaps the fatigue of last night--"

"I've been down the river for the mail," replied Miss Judy shortly. Then
she turned her back on him and spoke to her father. "The weather is
settled for this week. That rainstorm last night cleared things up
beautifully. We ought to take the canoe trip, the one up to the Falls."

"That's so," agreed Dr. Grayson. "How soon can you arrange to go?"

"Tomorrow," replied Miss Judy.

"Ah, a canoe trip," cried Monty brightly. "I ought to get quantities of
notes from that."

Miss Judy eyed him for a moment with an unfathomable expression on her
face, then turned away and began to talk to the Lone Wolf.

All during Morning Sing Monty sat in a corner and took notes with a
silver pencil in an embossed leather notebook, staring now at this girl,
now at that, until she turned fiery red and fidgeted. After Morning Sing
he established himself on a rocky ledge just below Bedlam, where, hidden
by the bushes, he sat ready to take down the innocent conversation of
the young ladies among themselves as they made their tents ready for
tent inspection.

Katherine and Oh-Pshaw were in the midst of tidying up when the Lone
Wolf dropped in to return a flashlight she had borrowed the night
before. She strolled over to the railing at the back of the tent and
peered over it. A gleam came into her eye as she noticed that one of the
bushes just below the tent on the slope toward the river was waving
slightly in an opposite direction from the way in which the wind was
blowing. Stepping back into the tent she stopped beside Bedlam's water
pail, newly filled for tent inspection.

"Your water looks sort of--er--muddy," she remarked artfully. "Hadn't
you better throw it out and get some fresh? Here, I'll do it for you.
I'm not busy."

She picked up the brimming pail and emptied it over the back railing,
right over the spot where she had seen the bush waving. Immediately
there came a curious sound out of the bush--half gasp and half yell, and
out sprang Monty, dripping like a rat, and fled down the path toward the
bungalow, without ever looking around.

"Why, he was down there _listening_," Katherine exclaimed in disgust.
"Oh, how funny it was," she remarked to the Lone Wolf, "that you
happened to come in and dump that pail of water over the railing just
at that time."

"It certainty was," the Lone Wolf acquiesced gravely, as she departed
with the pail in the direction of the spring.

Cousin Monty flitted unobtrusively to his tent, got on dry garments,
fished another notebook out of his bag, and set out once more in quest
of local color. He wandered down to Mateka, where Craft Hour was in
progress. A pottery craze had struck camp, and the long tables were
filled with girls rolling and patting lumps of plastic clay into vases,
jars, bowls, plates and other vessels. Cousin Monty strolled up and
down, contemplating the really creditable creation of the girls with a
condescending patronage that made them feel like small children in the
kindergarten. He gave the art director numerous directions as to how she
might improve her method of teaching, and benevolently pointed out to a
number of the girls how the things they were making were all wrong.

Finally he came and stood by Hinpoha, who was putting the finishing
touches on the decoration of a rose jar, an exquisite thing, with a
raised design in rose petals. Hinpoha was smoothing out the flat
background of her design when Monty paused beside her.

"You're not holding your instrument right." he remarked patronizingly.
"Let me show you how." He took the instrument from Hinpoha's unwilling
hand, and turning it wrong way up, proceeded to scrape back and forth.
At the third stroke it went too far, and gouged out a deep scratch right
through the design, clear across the whole side of the vase.

"Ah, a little scratch," he remarked airily. "Ah, sorry, really, very.
But it can soon be remedied. A little dob of clay, now."

"Let me fix it myself," said Hinpoha firmly, with difficulty keeping her
exasperation under the surface, and without more ado seized her
mutilated treasure from his hands.

"Ah, yes, of course," murmured Monty, and wandered on to the next table.

By the time the day was over Cousin Monty was about as popular as a
hornet. "How long is he going to stay?" the girls asked each other in
comical dismay. "A week? Oh, my gracious, how can we ever stand him
around here a week?"

"Is he going along with us on the canoe trip?" Katherine asked Miss Judy
as she helped her check over supplies for the expedition.

"He is that," replied Miss Judy. "He's going along to pester us just as
he has been doing--probably worse, because he's had a night to think up
a whole lot more fool questions to ask than he could think of
yesterday."

And it was even so. Monty, notebook in hand, insisted upon knowing the
why and wherefore of every move each one of the girls made until they
began to flee at his approach. "Why are you tying up your ponchos that
way? That isn't the way. Now if you will just let me show you--"

"Why you are putting that stout girl"--indicating Bengal--"in the stern
of the canoe? You want the weight up front--that's the newest way."

"Now Uncle, just let me show you a trick or two about stowing away those
supplies. You're not in the least scientific about it."

Thus he buzzed about, inquisitive and officious.

Katherine and Miss Judy looked into each other's eyes and exchanged
exasperated glances. Then Katherine's eye took on a peculiar expression,
the one which always registered the birth of an idea. At dinner, which
came just before the expedition started, she was late--a good twenty
minutes. She tranquilly ate what was left for her and was extremely
polite to Counsin Monty, answering his continuous questions about the
coming trip with great amiability, even enthusiasm. Miss Judy looked at
her curiously.

The expedition started. Monty, who had Miss Peckham in the canoe with
him--she being the only one who would ride with him--insisted upon going
at the head of the procession. "I'll paddle so much faster than the rest
of you," he said airly, "that I'll want room to go ahead. I don't want
to be held back by the rest of you when I shall want to put on a slight
spurt now and then. That is the way I like to go, now fast, now slowly,
as inclination dictates, without having to keep my pace down to that of
others. I will start first, Uncle, and lead the line."

"All right," replied Dr. Grayson a trifle wearily. "You may lead the
line."

The various canoes had been assigned before, so there was no confusion
in starting. The smallest of the canoes had been given to Monty because
there would be only two in it. Conscious that he was decidedly
ornamental in his speckless white flannels and silk shirt he helped Miss
Peckham into the boat with exaggerated gallantry, all the while watching
out of the corner of his eye to see if Pom-pom was looking at him. He
had been trying desperately to flirt with her ever since his arrival,
and had begged her to go with him in the canoe on the trip, all in vain.
Nevertheless, he was still buzzing around her and playing to the
audience of her eyes. By fair means or foul he meant to get the
privilege of having her with him on the return trip. Miss Peckham, newly
graduated into the canoe privilege, was nervous and fussy, and handled
her paddle as gingerly as if it were a gun.

"Ah, let me do all the paddling," he insisted, knowing that Pom-pom, in
a nearby canoe, could hear him. "I could not think of allowing you to
exert yourself. It is the man's place, you know. You really mustn't
think of it."

Miss Peckham laid down her paddle with a sigh of relief, and Monty,
with a graceful gesture, untied the canoe and pushed it out from the
dock. Behind him the line of boats were all waiting to start.

"Here we go!" he shouted loudly, as he dipped his paddle. In a moment
all the canoes were in motion. Monty, at the head, seemed to find the
paddling more difficult than he had expected. He dipped his paddle with
great vigor and vim, but the canoe only went forward a few inches at
each stroke. One by one the canoes began to pass him, their occupants
casting amusing glances at him as he perspired over his paddle. He
redoubled his efforts, he strained every sinew, and the canoe did go a
little faster, but not nearly as fast as the others were going.

"What's the matter, Monty, is your load too heavy for you?" called out
Miss Judy.

"Not at all," replied Monty doggedly. "I'm a little out of form, I
guess. This arm--I strained it last spring--seems to have gone lame all
of a sudden."

"Would you like to get in a canoe with some of the girls?" asked Dr.
Grayson solicitously.

"I would _not_," replied Monty somewhat peevishly. "Please let me alone,
Uncle, I'll be all right in a minute. Don't any of you bother about me,
I'll follow you at my leisure. When I get used to paddling again I'll
very soon overtake you even if you have a good start."

The rest of the canoes swept by, and Monty and Miss Peckham soon found
themselves alone on the river.

"Hadn't I better help you paddle?" asked Miss Peckham anxiously. She was
beginning to distrust the powers of her ferryman.

"No, no, no," insisted Monty, stung to the quick by the concern in her
voice. "I can do it very well alone, I tell you."

He kept at it doggedly for another half hour, stubbornly refusing to
accept any help, until the canoe came _to_ a dead stop. No amount of
paddling would budge it an inch; it was apparently anchored. Puzzled,
Monty peered into the river to find the cause of the stoppage. The water
was deep, but there were many snags and obstructions under the surface.
Something was holding him, that was plain, but what it was he could not
find out, nor could he get loose from it. The water was too deep to wade
ashore, and there was nothing to do but sit there and try to get loose
by means of the paddle, a proceeding which soon proved fruitless. In
some mysterious way they were anchored out in mid stream at a lonely
place in the river where no one would be likely to see them for a long
time. The others were out of sight long ago, having obeyed Monty's
injunction to let him alone.

Monty, in his usual airy way, tried to make the best of the situation
and draw attention away from his evident inability to cope with the
situation. "Ah, pleasant it is to sit out here and bask in the warm
sunshine," he murmured in dulcet tones. "The view is exquisite here,
_n'est-ce pas_? I could sit here all day and look at that mountain in
the distance. It reminds me somewhat of the Alps, don't you know."

Miss Peckham gazed unhappily at the mountain, which was merely a blur in
the distance. "Do you think we'll have to sit here all night?" she asked
anxiously.

Monty exerted himself to divert her. "How does it come that I have never
met you before, Miss Peckham? Really, I didn't know that Uncle Clement
had such delightful relations. Can it be that you are really his cousin?
It hardly seems possible that you are old enough. Sitting there with the
breeze toying with you hair that way you look like a young girl, no
older than Judith herself."

Now this was quite a large dose to swallow, but Miss Peckham swallowed
it, and much delighted with the gallant youth, so much more appreciative
of her than the others at camp, she sat listening attentively to his
prattle of what he had seen and done, keeping her hat off the while to
let her hair ripple in the breeze the way he said he liked it,
regardless of the fact that the sun was rather hot.

In something over an hour a pair of rowboats came along filled with
youngsters who thought it great sport to rescue the pair in the marooned
canoe, and who promptly discovered the cause of the trouble. It was an
iron kettle full of stones, fastened to the bottom of the canoe with a
long wire, which had wedged itself in among the branches of a submerged
tree in the river and anchored the canoe firmly.

"Somebody's played a trick on us!" exclaimed Miss Peckham wrathfully.
"Somebody at camp deliberately fastened that kettle of stones to the
bottom of the canoe to make it hard for you to paddle. That's just what
you might have expected from those girls. They're playing tricks all the
time. They have no respect for anyone."

Monty turned a dull red when he saw that kettle full of stones, and he,
too, sputtered with indignation. "Low brow trick," he exclaimed loftily,
but he felt quite the reverse of lofty. "This must be Cousin Judith's
doing," he continued angrily, remembering the subtle antagonism that had
sprung up between his cousin and himself.

His dignity was too much hurt to allow him to follow the rest of the
party now. Disgusted, he turned back in the direction of camp. By the
time he arrived he began to feel that he did not want to stay long
enough to see the enjoyment of his cousin over his discomfiture. He
announced his intention of leaving that very night, paddling down the
river to the next landing, and boarding the evening boat.

Miss Peckham suddenly made up her mind, too. "I'm going with you." she
declared. "I'm not going to stay here and be insulted any longer. It'll
serve them right to do without my services as councilor for the rest of
the summer. I'll just leave a note for Mrs. Grayson and slip out quietly
with you."

When the expedition returned the following day both Pecky and Monty were
gone.

Bengal raised such a shout of joy when she heard of the departure of her
despised councilor that her tent mates were obliged to restrain her
transports for the look of the thing, but they, too, were somewhat
relieved to be rid of her.

The reason of the double departure remained a mystery in camp until the
very end, but there were a select few that always winked solemnly at one
another whenever Dr. Grayson wondered what had become of his largest
camping kettle.



CHAPTER XIV


REGATTA DAY

The long anticipated, the much practiced for Regatta Day had dawned,
bringing with it crowds of visitors to Camp. It was Camp Keewaydin's
great day, when the Avenue and the Alley struggled for supremacy in
aquatics. The program consisted of contests in swimming and diving,
canoe upsetting and righting, demonstrations of rescue work, stunts and
small canoe races, and ended up with a race between the two war canoes.
Visitors came from all the summer resorts around, and many of the girls'
parents and friends came to see their daughters perform.

The dock and the diving platform were gay with flags; the tents had been
tidied up to wax-like neatness and decorated with wild flowers until
they looked like so many royal bowers; in Mateka an exhibition of Craft
Work was laid out on the long tables--pottery and silver work and
weaving and decorating. Hinpoha's rose jar, done with infinite pains
and patience after its unfortunate meeting with Cousin Egmont, held the
place of honor in the centre of the pottery table, and her silver
candlesticks, done in an exquisite design of dogwood blossoms, was the
most conspicuous piece on the jewelry table.

"Hinpoha'll get the Craft Work prize, without any doubt," said Migwan to
Agony as they stood helping to arrange the articles in the Craft Work
exhibit. "She's a real artist. The rest of us are just dabblers. It's
queer, though, I admire that little plain pottery bowl I made myself
more than I do Hinpoha's wonderful rose jar. I suppose it's because I
made it all myself; it's like my own child. There's a thrill about doing
things yourself that makes you hold your head higher even if other
people don't think it's anything very wonderful. Don't you feel that
way, Agony?"

"I suppose so," murmured Agony, rather absently, her animation falling
away from her in an instant, and a weary look creeping into her eyes.

"That's the way you must feel all the time since you did that splendid
thing," continued Migwan warmly. "No matter where you are, or how hard a
thing you're up against, you have only to think, 'I was equal to a great
emergency once; I did the brave and splendid thing when the time came,'
and then you'll be equal to it again. O, how wonderful it must be to
know that when the time comes you won't be a coward! O Agony, we're all
so proud of you!" cried Migwan, interrupting herself to give Agony an
adoring hug. "All the Winnebagos will be braver and better because you
did that, Agony. They'll be ashamed to be any less than you are."

"It wasn't anything much that--I did," Agony protested in a flat voice.

Migwan, busy straightening out the rows of bracelets and rings, did not
notice the hunted expression in Agony's face, and soon the bugle
sounded, calling all the girls together on the dock.

Only those who have ever taken part in Regatta Day will get the real
thrill when reading an account of it in cold print--the thrill which
comes from seeing dozens of motor boats filled with spectators lined up
on the river, and crowds standing on the shore; the sun shining in
dazzling splendor on the ripples; the flags snapping in the breeze, the
starters with their pistols standing out on the end of the dock, the
canoes rocking alongside, straining at their ropes as if impatient to be
off in the races; the crews, in their new uniforms, standing nervously
around their captains, getting their last instructions and examining
their paddles for any possible cracks; the councilors rushing around
preparing the props for the stunts they were directing; and over all a
universal atmosphere of suspense, of tenseness, of excitement.

The Alleys wore bright red bathing caps, the Avenues blue; otherwise
they wore the regulation Camp bathing suits, all alike. First on the
program came the demonstrations--canoe tipping, rescuing a drowning
person, resuscitation. Sahwah won the canoe tipping contest, getting her
canoe righted in one minute less time than it took Undine Girelle, so
the first score went to the Alley. The Avenue had a speedy revenge,
however, for Undine took first honors in the diving exhibition which
followed immediately after. Even the Winnebagos, disappointed as they
were that Sahwah had not won out, admitted that Undine's performance was
unequalled, and joined heartily in the cheers that greeted the
announcement of her winning. In the smaller contests the Avenue and the
Alley were pretty well matched, and at the end of the swimming and small
canoe races the score was tied between them. This left the war canoe
race, which counted ten points, to decide the championship.

A round of applause greeted the two crews as they marched out on the
dock to the music of the Camp band and took their places in the war
canoes. Sahwah was Captain of the Dolphins, the Alley crew; Undine
commanded the Avenue Turtles. Agony was stern paddler of the Dolphin,
the most important position next to the Captain. Prominence had come to
her in many ways since she had become the camp heroine; positions of
trust and honor fell to her thick and fast without her making any
special efforts to get them. If nothing succeeds like success it is
equally true that nothing brings honor like honor already achieved. To
her who hath shall be given.

Besides Sahwah and Agony the Dolphin crew consisted of Hinpoha, Migwan,
Gladys, Katherine, Jo Severance, Jean Lawrence, Bengal Virden, Oh-Pshaw,
and two girls from Aloha, Edith Anderson and Jerry Mortimer, a crew
picked after severe tests which eliminated all but the most expert
paddlers. That the Winnebagos had all passed the test was a matter of
considerable pride to them, and also to Nyoda, to whom they had promptly
written the good news.

"I am not surprised, though," she had written in return. "I am never
surprised at anything my girls accomplish. I always expect you to do
things--and you do them."

Quickly the two Captains brought their canoes out to the starting line
and sat waiting for the shot from the starter's pistol. The command
"Paddles Up!" had been given, and twenty-four broad yellow blades were
poised stiffly in air, ready for the plunge into the shining water
below. A hush fell upon the watching crowd; the silence was so intense
that the song of a bird on the roof of Mateka could be plainly heard. A
smile came to Sahwah's lips as she heard the joyous thrill of the bird.
An omen of victory, she said to herself.

Then the pistol cracked. Almost simultaneously with its report came her
clear command, "Down paddles!" Twelve paddles dipped as one and the
Dolphin shot forward a good five feet on the very first stroke. The race
was on.

The course was from the dock to Whaleback Island, around the Island and
back to the starting point.

Until the Island was reached the canoes kept practically abreast, now
one forging a few inches ahead, now the other, but always evening up the
difference before long. As the pull toward Whaleback was downstream both
crews made magnificent speed with apparently little effort. The real
struggle lay in rounding the Island and making the return pull upstream.
The Dolphin had the inside track, a fact which at first caused her crew
to exult, because of the shorter turn, but they soon found that the
advantage gained in this way was practically offset by the force of the
current close to the Island, which made it difficult for the boat to
keep in her course. It took all of Agony's skill as stern paddler to
swing the Dolphin around and keep her out of the current. The two canoes
were still abreast when they recovered from the turn and started back
upstream. As they rounded the large pile of rocks which formed a
bodyguard around Whaleback, the current caught the Dolphin and gave her
a half turn back toward the Island. Agony bore quickly down on her
paddle to offset the pull of the current; it struck an unexpected rock
underneath the surface and twisted itself out of her hands. In a moment
the current had caught it and whirled it out of reach. Only an instant
did Agony waste looking after it in consternation.

"Give me your paddle," she said quickly to Bengal Virden, who sat in
front of her, and took it out of her hand without ceremony.

The Dolphin righted herself without any further trouble and came out
into the straight upstream course only a little behind the Turtle. Then
the real race began.

In a few moments the Turtle had forged ahead, and it soon became
apparent that the Dolphin, carrying one member of the crew who was not
paddling, could not hope to keep up.

"Bengal," megaphoned Sahwah, taking in the situation at a glance,
"you'll have to get out. You're dead weight. Jump and swim back to the
island. The water isn't deep here."

Bengal refused. "I want to stay in the race."

Sahwah gave a disgusted snort into the megaphone. Agony cast herself
into the breach and made use of Bengal's crush on her for the sake of
the Alley cause. "If you do it, Bengal, I'll come and sleep with you
all the rest of the time we're in camp."

Bengal rose to the bait. "I'll do it for you," she said adoringly, and
promptly jumped out of the canoe and swam back the short distance to the
Island where she was soon picked up by one of the visiting launches and
carried to the sidelines.

Relieved of Bengal's weight, which had been considerable, the Dolphin
quickly recovered herself and caught up with the Turtle; then slowly
worked into the lead. She did not lose the lead again, but came under
the line a good three feet ahead of the Turtle. The long anticipated
struggle was over and the Alley was the victor.

The rest of the Alley rushed down upon the dock and dragged the
victorious crew up out of the Dolphin as she came up alongside of the
dock, and lifting them to their shoulders carried them to shore in a
triumphal procession, with waving banners, and ear splitting cheers, and
songs which excess of emotion rendered slightly off key. Bengal was
brought over and given a separate ovation for having so nobly sacrificed
herself for the cause of the Alley; Agony also came in for a great deal
of extra cheering because she had acted so promptly when she lost her
paddle, and Sahwah--well, Sahwah was the Captain, and when did the
Captain of a victorious crew ever suffer neglect from the side he
represented?

Until Taps sounded that night the Alley celebrated its victory, and the
last thing they did for joy was to carry all the beds out of the tents
and set them in one long row in the Alley, and when Miss Judy went the
last rounds there they lay, all linked together arm in arm, smiling one
long smile which reached from one end of the Alley to the other.



CHAPTER XV


THE BUFFALO ROBE

  "Sunset and evening star,
  And one clear call for me!"

The familiar lines slipped softly from Miss Amesbury's lips as she
leaned luxuriously against the canoe cushions, watching the vivid glows
of the sunset. It was the hour after supper, when the Camp girls were
free to do as they pleased, and Agony and Miss Amesbury had come out for
a quiet paddle on the river. The excitement of Regatta Day had subsided,
and Camp was jogging peacefully toward its close. Only a few more days
and then the _Carribou_ would come and take away the merry, frolicking
campers, and the Alley and the Avenue alike would know desolation.

All over there were signs that told summer was drawing to a close. The
fields were gay with goldenrod and wild asters, the swamp maples had
begun to flame in the woods, and there was a crisp tang in the air that
sent the blood racing in the veins like a draught of strong, new wine.
All these things, as well as the westward shifting of the summer
constellations, which a month before had reigned supreme on the
meridian, told that the summer was drawing to an end.

Never had the friends at Camp seemed so jolly and dear as in this last
week when the days together were numbered, and every sunrise brought
them one degree nearer the parting. Everyone was filled with the desire
to make the most of these last few days; there was a frantic scramble to
do the things that had been talked of all summer, but which had been
crowded out by other things, and especially there was a busy taking of
pictures of favorite councilors and best friends. Pom-pom, Miss Judy,
Tiny Armstrong and the Lone Wolf could be seen at almost any hour of the
day "looking pleasant" while some girl snapped their pictures.

"If anyone else asks me to pose for a picture today I shall explode!"
declared Tiny Armstrong at last. "I've stood in the sun until I'm burned
to a cinder, and I've 'looked pleasant' until my face aches. I'm going
on a strike!"

Agony found herself possessed in these last days of an ever increasing
desire to be with Miss Amesbury, to hear her talk and watch the
expressions play over her beautiful, mobile face. For this brilliant and
accomplished woman Agony had conceived an admiration which stirred the
very depths of her intense, passionate nature. To be famous and
fascinating like Miss Amesbury, this was the secret ambition that filled
her restless soul. To be near her now, to have her all to herself in a
canoe in this most beautiful hour of the day, thrilled Agony to the
verge of intoxication. Her voice trembled when she spoke, her hand shook
as she dipped the paddle.

The wide flaming fire of the sunset toned down to a tawny orange; then
faded into a pale primrose; the big, bright evening star appeared in the
west. From all the woods around came the goodnight twitter of the birds.

"Sunset and evening star--" repeated Agony softly, echoing the words
Miss Amesbury had spoken a few moments before. "Oh," she declared,
"sunset is the most perfect time of the day for me. I feel just
bewitched. I could do anything just at sunset; all my dreams seem about
to come true."

And drifting there in the rosy afterglow they talked of dreams and
hopes, and ambitions, and Agony laid her soul bare to the older woman.
She spoke of the things she planned to do, the career of social service
she had laid out for herself, and of the influence for good she would be
in the world--all of this to take place in the golden sometime when she
would be grown up and out of school.

Miss Amesbury heard her through with a quiet smile. Agony looked up,
encountered her gaze and stopped speaking. "Don't you think I can?" she
asked quickly.

"It is possible," replied Miss Amesbury tranquilly. "Everything is
possible. 'We are all architects of fate;' you must have heard that line
quoted before. Everyone carries his future in his own hands; fate has
really nothing to do with it. Whatever kind of bud we are, such a flower
we will be. We cannot make ourselves; all we can do is blossom. This
Other Person that you see in your golden dreams is after all only you,
changed from the You that you are now into the You that you hope to be.
If we are little, stunted buds we cannot be big, glorious blossoms. The
Future is only a great many Nows added up. It is the things you are
doing now that will make your future glorious or abject. To be a noble
woman you must have been a noble girl. You are setting your face now in
the direction in which you are going to travel. Every worthy action you
perform now will open the way for more worthy actions in the future, and
the same is true of unworthy ones."

Agony sat very still.

"It is the thing we stand for ourselves that makes us an influence for
evil or good," continued Miss Amesbury, "not the thing that we preach.
That is why so much of the so-called 'uplift work' in the world has no
effect upon the persons we are trying to uplift--we try to give them
something which we do not possess ourselves. We cannot give something
which we don't possess, don't ever forget that, dear child. Be sure that
your own torch is burning brightly before you attempt to light someone
else's with it.

"You know, Agony, that after Jesus went away out of the Temple at the
age of twelve years we do not hear of him again until he was a grown man
of thirty. What took place in those years we will never know exactly;
but in those Silent Years He prepared Himself for His glorious destiny.
He must have conquered Self, day by day, until He was master over all
his moods and desires, to be able to influence others so profoundly. He
must have developed a sympathetic understanding of His friends and
playfellows, to know so intimately the troubles of all the multitudes
which he afterwards met. These are _your_ Silent Years, Agony. What you
make of them will determine your future."

       *       *       *       *       *

"Why, where is everybody?" Agony asked wonderingly as they drew their
canoe up on the dock and went up the hill path. Nobody was in sight, but
a subdued sound of cheering and laughter came from the direction of
Mateka.

"Oh, I forgot," cried Agony. "There _is_ something tonight in Mateka, a
meeting. Dr. Grayson announced it this noon at dinner, but I forgot all
about it and hurried through supper tonight so I could come out on the
river with you. I wonder what it was about. Come on, let's go up, maybe
we can get there before it's over."

They were just going up the steps of Mateka when half a dozen girls
rushed out of the door and fell upon Agony.

"Where on earth have you been? We've been hunting all over camp for you.
You're elected most popular camper! You've won the Buffalo Robe! Oh,
Agony, you've won the Buffalo Robe!"

It was Oh-Pshaw who was speaking, and she cast herself on her twin's
neck and kissed her rapturously.

Agony stood very still on the steps, looking in a dazed sort of way from
one to the other of the faces around her.

"Oh, Agony, don't you understand? You've won the Buffalo Robe!" Oh-Pshaw
repeated laughingly. "We had the election tonight. You won by a big
majority. It's all on account of the robin. Nobody else had done
anything nearly so splendid. Oh, but I'm proud to be your twin sister!"

Then all the rest came out of Mateka and surrounded Agony, telling her
how glad they were she had won the Buffalo Robe, and they ended up by
taking her on their shoulders into Mateka and setting her down before
the Robe where it hung on the wall. It would be formally presented to
her at the farewell banquet two nights later.

"We're going to paint a robin on it as a record of your brave deed,"
said Migwan. "Hinpoha is working on the design right now."

Agony's emotions were tumultous as she stood there in Mateka before the
Buffalo Robe with the girls singing cheer after cheer to her. First
triumph flooded her whole being, and delight and satisfaction that she
had won the biggest honor in Camp took complete possession of her. The
most popular girl in camp! The desire of her heart, born on that first,
far off day at camp, had been realized. The precious trophy was hers to
take home, to exhibit to Nyoda. She was the center of all eyes; her name
was on every lip.

Then, in the midst of her triumph the leaden weight began to press down
on her spirits, pulling her back to realization. Her smile faded, her
lips trembled, her voice was so husky that she could hardly speak.

"It's--so--hot--in--here," she panted. "Let me go out where it's cool."

And all unsuspecting they led her out and bore her to her tent in
triumph.



CHAPTER XVI


THE TORCH KINDLES

Even the Winnebagos wondered slightly at the extremely quiet way in
which Agony received the great honor that had been bestowed upon her.
She did not expand as usual under the influence of the limelight until
she fairly radiated light. She hummed no gay songs, she played no pranks
on her friends; she did not outdo herself in work and play as she used
to in the days of yore when she was the observed of all observers.
Silent and pensive she wandered about Camp the next day and seemed
rather to be shunning the gay groups in Mateka and on the beach. Most of
the girls believed that Agony's silence proceeded from the genuine
humility of the truly great when singled out for honor, and admired her
all the more for her sober, pensive air. She found herself overwhelmed
with requests to stand for her picture, and the younger girls thronged
her tent, begging for locks of hair to take home as keepsakes. Agony
escaped from them as best she could without offending them.

She sedulously avoided Mateka, for there sat Hinpoha busily painting
robins on the place cards for the banquet which was to take place the
following night. This banquet was given each year as a wind-up to the
camp activities, with the winner of the Buffalo Robe in the place of
honor at the head of the table. Agony felt weak every time she thought
of that banquet. Why had she not the courage to confess the deception to
Dr. Grayson, and give up the Buffalo Robe, she thought miserably. No,
she could never do that. The terrific pride which was Agony's very life
and soul would not let her humble herself. The pain it would give Dr.
Grayson, the astonishment and disappointment of the Winnebagos, the
coldness of the beloved councilors--and Jane Pratt! How could she ever
humble herself before Jane Pratt and witness Jane's keen relish of her
downfall? She could hear Jane's spiteful laughter, her malicious
remarks, her unrestrained rejoicing over the situation.

And Miss Amesbury! No, she could never let Miss Amesbury know what a
cheat she was. No, no, the thing had gone too far, she must see it
through now. Better to endure the gnawings of conscience than give
herself away now. And Nyoda--Nyoda who had praised her so sincerely, and
Slim and the Captain, who thought it was a "bully stunt"--could she let
them know that it was all a lie? She shrank back shuddering from the
notion. No, she must go on. No one would ever find it out now. Other
people had received honors which they hadn't earned; the world was full
of them; thus she tried to soothe her conscience. But she averted her
eyes every time she passed the Buffalo Robe hanging over the fireplace
in Mateka.

Slumber came hard to her that night, and when she finally did drop off
it was to dream that the Buffalo Robe was being presented to her, but
just as she put out her hand to take it Mary Sylvester appeared on the
scene and called out loudly, "She doesn't deserve it!" and then all the
girls pointed to her in scorn and repeated, "She doesn't deserve it!"
"She doesn't deserve it!" until she ran away and hid herself in the
woods.

So vivid was the dream that she wakened, trembling in ever limb, and
burrowed into the pillow to shut out the sight of those dreadful
pointing fingers, which still seemed to be before her eyes. Once awake
she could not go back to sleep. She looked enviously across the tent at
Hinpoha, who lay calm and peaceful in the moonlight, a faint smile
parting her lips. She had nothing on her mind to keep her awake. Sahwah,
too, was wrapped in profound slumber, her brow serene and untroubled;
she had no uncomfortable secret to disturb her rest. How she envied
them!

She envied Oh-Pshaw, who had taken the swimming test that day after a
whole summer of trying to learn to swim, and was so proud of herself
that she seemed to have grown an inch in height. There was no flaw in
her happiness; she had won her honor fairly.

Then, as Agony lay there, her favorite heroines of history and fiction
seemed to rise up and repudiate her--Robert Louis Stevenson, with whom
she had formed an imaginary comradeship; there he stood looking at her
scornfully and coldly; Joan of Arc, her especial heroine; she turned
away in disgust; so all the others; one by one they reproached her.

Agony tossed for a long while and then rose, slipped on her bathrobe and
shoes and stockings and wandered about for awhile, finally sitting down
on a rustic bench on the veranda of Mateka, where she could look out on
the river and the wide sky. Even the beauty of the night seemed to mock
her. The big, bright stars, which used to twinkle in such a friendly
fashion, now gleamed coldly at her; the light breeze rustling in the
leaves was like so many spiteful whispers telling her secret. She had
plucked a red lily that grew outside her tent door as she came out, and
sat twirling it in her fingers. In an incredibly short time it whithered
and let its petals droop. Agony gazed at it superstitiously. An old
nurse had once told her that a flower would wither in the hand of a
person who had told a lie. The idle tale came back to her now. Was it
perhaps true after all? Did she have a withering touch now?

The things Miss Amesbury had said to her at sunset on the river the day
before came back with startling force. "We carry our destiny in our own
hands. We are what we make ourselves. Whatever kind of bud we are, just
such a flower we will be. You are setting your face now in the direction
in which you are going to travel. To be a noble woman you must have been
a noble girl. The Future is only a great many Nows added up. Every
worthy action you perform now will make it easier to perform another one
later on, and every unworthy one will do the same thing. If your lamp is
dim you can't light the way for others...."

Agony looked at herself pitilessly and shuddered. Was this the road she
was going to travel; was this the direction in which she had set her
face? Cheat, deceiver, that was what she was. The winds whispered it;
the river babbled it; the very stars seemed to twinkle it. Agony closed
her eyes, and put her hands over her ears to shut out the little
insinuating sounds; and in the silence her very heart beats throbbed it,
rhythmically, pitilessly.

       *       *       *       *       *

In the hour before dawn Miss Amesbury sat up in bed, under the
impression that someone had called her name. Yes, there was someone on
her balcony; in the dim light she could make out a drooping figure
beside her bed.

"Miss Amesbury," faltered a low, but familiar voice.

"Why Agony, child!" exclaimed Miss Amesbury, now well awake and
recognizing her visitor. "What is the matter? Are you sick?"

"Yes," replied Agony quietly, "sick of deceiving people."

And there, in the dim light, she told her whole story, the story of
vaulting ambition and timely temptation, of action in haste and
repentance at weary leisure.

"So that was it," Miss Amesbury exclaimed involuntarily, as Agony
finished. "It seemed to me that you had something on your mind; it
puzzled me a great deal. How you must have suffered in conscience, poor
child!"

She put out her hand and drew Agony down on the bed, laying cool fingers
on her hot forehead. Agony, entirely taken aback by Miss Amesbury's
sympathetic attitude, for she had expected nothing but scorn and
contempt, broke down and began to weep wildly. Miss Amesbury let her cry
for awhile for she knew that the overburdened heart and strained nerves
must find relief first of all. After awhile she began to speak soothing
words, and gradually Agony's tempestuous sobs ceased and she grew calm.
Then the two talked together for a long while, of the dangers of
ambition, the seeking for personal glory at whatever cost. When the
rising sun began to redden the ripples on the river Agony's heart once
more knew peace, and she lay sleeping quietly, worn out, but tranquil in
conscience. She had at last found the courage to make her decision; she
would tell the Camp at Morning Sing the true story of the robin, and
decline the honor of the Buffalo Robe. Agony's torch, dim and smoky for
so long, at last was burning bright and high.

       *       *       *       *       *

It was over. Agony sat on the deck of the _Carribou_ beside Miss
Amesbury. Camp had vanished from sight several minutes before behind an
abrupt bend in the river, and was now only a memory. Agony sat pensive,
her mind going back over the events of the day. It had been harder than
she thought--to stand up in Mateka, and looking into the faces about
her, tell the story of her deceit, but she had done it without
flinching. Of course it had created a sensation. There was a painful
silence, then several audible gasps of astonishment, and nervous giggles
from the younger girls, and above these the scornful, unpleasant laugh
of Jane Pratt. But Agony was strangely serene. Being prepared for almost
any demonstration of scorn she was surprised that it was no worse. Now
that the weight of deceit was off her conscience and the haunting fear
of discovery put at an end the relief was so great that nothing else
mattered. She bore it all tranquilly--Dr. Grayson's fatherly advice on
the evils of ambition; the snubs of certain girls; Oh-Pshaw's
sympathetic tears; Jo Severance's unforgettable look of unbelieving
astonishment; Bengal Virden's prompt transferring of her affections to
Sahwah; the loving loyalty of the Winnebagos, who said never a word of
reproach.

And now it was all over, and she was going away with Miss Amesbury to
spend a week with her in her home, going away the day before Camp
closed. Miss Amesbury, loving friend that she was, realized that it was
well both for Agony and for the rest of the girls that she should not be
present at that farewell banquet where she was to have been presented
with the Buffalo Robe, and had borne her away as soon as possible.

And now once more it was sunset, and the evening star was shining in the
west, and it seemed to Agony that it had never seemed so fair and
friendly before. Agony's face was pensive, but her heart was light, for
now at last she knew that she was not a coward, and that "when the time
came she would be able to do the brave and splendid thing."





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