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Title: The Camp Fire Girls Do Their Bit - Or, over the Top with the Winnebagos
Author: Frey, Hildegard G. (Hildegard Gertrude), 1891-1957
Language: English
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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.

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THE CAMP FIRE GIRLS DO THEIR BIT

OR, OVER THE TOP WITH THE WINNEBAGOS

By HILDEGARD G. FREY

AUTHOR OF The Camp Fire Girls Series

A. L. BURT COMPANY

Publishers New York

1919



THE CAMP FIRE GIRLS SERIES

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

By HILDEGARD G. FREY

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

The Camp Fire Girls at School
or, The Wohelo Weavers

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

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

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

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

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

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



THE CAMP FIRE GIRLS DO THEIR BIT



CHAPTER I

A DREAM COMES TRUE


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



CHAPTER II

IN THE TRAIN


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Then had come Nyoda's letter:


  DEAREST WINNEBAGOS:

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



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"Because it _was_," replied Hinpoha knowingly.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



CHAPTER III

CARVER HOUSE


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"A what?" asked Nyoda quizzically.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



CHAPTER IV

VERONICA


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Veronica nodded casually and went on talking about her uncle.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Veronica laughed.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



CHAPTER V

ENTER THE KAISER


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



CHAPTER VI

A SURPRISE IN STORE FOR HILLSDALE


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"How so?" asked Sahwah curiously.

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

"Do what?" asked Sahwah.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



CHAPTER VII

IN THE MOONLIGHT


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

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

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

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

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

"Indeed I am!" replied Veronica emphatically.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"Whatever can she want out there?" thought Sahwah, with visions of
Kaiser Bill loose and on a rampage. But there were no disturbing sounds
anywhere; Kaiser Bill was not out. Veronica did not go into the barn;
she went around behind it and struck into the path that led down the
hill to the carriage road below. The path was bathed in moonlight for a
good part of its length; Veronica was plainly visible as she ran lightly
along, and Sahwah watched wonderingly. Sahwah was very far sighted, and
constant practice in focusing on distant objects enabled her to
distinguish plainly things quite far away. Down at the bottom of the
hill, where the path met the road, Sahwah saw Veronica come to a
standstill and look about her for a few moments; then a man appeared in
the road and together he and Veronica moved forward and vanished into
the shadows that lay beyond.

Wondering, Sahwah stared after them, and as she looked a great, nameless
dread took possession of her, and she experienced exactly the same
peculiar sensation she had felt in the train coming down, a feeling of
prescience and foreboding, of brooding evil. It gripped her heart with
cold hands and she changed her intention of going to Nyoda's room and
asking what was the matter with Veronica. Suddenly she felt that Nyoda
would not know. All her heart cried out in love and loyalty to Veronica.
The others must not find out what she had seen to-night. Veronica had
simply gone out to take a walk in the moonlight; possibly she had a
headache or was unable to sleep. It was a trick of the eyes that she had
thought someone had been with her in the road; the distance and the
waving shadows had deceived her. Why shouldn't Veronica steal out
quietly and go for a walk if she wanted to? What time was it, anyway,
eleven? Twelve? Sahwah switched on the light and looked at her watch. It
was half past two.

She shivered as the freshening breeze came in through the window and
became conscious that her bare feet were cold on the polished floor. She
jumped into bed to get warm, intending to get up again and watch until
Veronica returned, but the warmth of the bed sent a delicious languor
through her limbs; she yawned once, twice; her eyes began to ache in the
moonlight and she closed them to shut it out.

Presently she opened them again and there was the sun shining in on the
bed. Moonlight and all its spells had fled. Had she dreamed that about
Veronica last night? Resolutely she sprang from bed and tiptoed down the
hall to Veronica's door. The tall clock on the stair landing showed a
quarter to six. The door was half ajar and she peeped in. Veronica was
in bed, sound asleep, her long lashes sweeping her ruddy cheek, her lips
curved in a smile, like a baby's. Her clothes were on the chair beside
the bed, and they did not look as if they had been disturbed in the
night.

Sahwah laughed in relief and the fear went out of her heart.

"I dreamed it," she said to herself, and went back to bed for another
nap before six o'clock, which was the official rising hour at Carver
House.



CHAPTER VIII

SQUADS LEFT


"M-a-r-r-k t-i-m-e, m-a-h-k!"

Sixteen pairs of feet rose and fell with a soft thudding rhythm on the
hard dirt road.

"One--two--three--four! One--two--three--four! F-or-r-r-d _H'n-c-h!"_

The double line of fours wavered for a moment and then strode forward
uncertainly, some on the left foot, some on the right.

"HALT!" shouted the drill sergeant in a voice bristling with disgust.

The company halted.

"What does 'Forward _Hunch_' mean?" whispered Hinpoha to Sahwah, who
stood beside her.

Sahwah shook her head.

"No talking in the ranks!" came the stern order from up front. Hinpoha
subsided.

"R-r-r-i-g-h-t D-r-r-e-s-s!"

Heads whirled to the right as though turned by a single screw, and
bent-up left elbows pressed stiffly into neighboring ribs.

"F-r-r-o-n-t!"

Heads whirled back and arms straightened out at sides as though released
by a spring.

"R-r-i-g-h-t D-r-e-s-s!"

Heads and arms repeated their swift motions.

"Hold it! _Hold_ it!" rasped the voice. "Who said _'Front?'_ Here,
Redhead!"

Hinpoha hastily resumed the position she had abandoned too soon.

"Now, FRONT! Again, RIGHT DRESS! FRONT! R-r-r-e-a-d-y! M-a-r-r-k
t-i-m-e, M-a-h-k! One-two-three-four! F-or-r-d HUNCH! Wake _up_ there,
Redhead!"

Hinpoha jumped and caught pace with the rest of her squad, who were
several steps ahead, and then it dawned on her that "F-o-r-r-r-d Hunch!"
must mean "Forward March!"

"One-two-three-four! Left! Left! Left! Left! You with the plaid tie, get
in step!"

Migwan shuffled her feet and fell into rhythm.

"One-two-three-four!" The drill sergeant rapped out a jarringly emphatic
accent against a tree with her staff.

She was a college gymnasium teacher home on her summer vacation; her
name was Miss Raper. She had a tremendous reputation for rigid
discipline in her classes. She had been trained in military drilling by
an army drill officer and had acquired all his mannerisms, from the way
of shouting his orders in such a way that it was next to impossible to
understand them, to his merciless habit of calling out by name every one
who made the slightest error.

"HALT! GUIDE RIGHT! Head to the front, there, Black Eyes! R-r-e-a-d-y!
LEFT WHEEL!"

The squads wheeled in decidedly shaky order.

"Again! LEFT WHEEL! Hold your pivot there! _H-o-l-d y-o-u-r p-i-v-o-t!_
Stand still, you Redhead, and wheel in place! Again! Left Wheel!"

So the endless tramp, tramp, tramp, tramp went on under the blistering
July sun; the squads perspired and panted, muscles ached from the
continued exertion and heels began to feel as though pounded to pulp
from the violence with which they marked the accent.

But never a word of complaint did anyone breathe. They gloried in their
discomfort. For this hot dusty road over which they toiled and perspired
so was the road to glory, the avenue down which the girls of Oakwood,
led by the Winnebagos, would march to triumph over their sworn rivals,
the Hillsdale-ites.

Agony had gone through the town and picked out the most promising girls,
whom, with the addition of the Winnebagos, she formed into a company.
They drilled for an hour every morning with Miss Raper in the wide dirt
road that ran along the foot of the hill behind Carver House.

The hour drew to a close with a final strenuous series of left and right
wheels and the Winnebagos sought the shade of the trees along the
roadside and fanned themselves with leaves.

"How did we do to-day, Miss Raper?" inquired Agony, as the drill
sergeant prepared to depart.

"I congratulate you," replied Miss Raper with sarcastic wit. "I never
saw it done worse."

The company recognized the fact that it was a tactical error to try to
draw any praises to themselves from Miss Raper. Yet they did not
consider themselves abused, nor did they harbor any hard feelings toward
her on account of her sharp tongue. They realized that she was a
"crackerjack" trainer, and for the sake of winning that contest they
were willing to endure her caustic comments meekly.

"I'll never get left and right wheel correctly," sighed Oh-Pshaw with a
discouraged air. "No matter which one she says, I always go in the
opposite direction. I get so fussed when she looks at me that I can't
tell my left foot from my right."

"Never mind, you'll get it in time," said Migwan soothingly. "I had the
same trouble at first, but I'm getting sort of used to her now."

"I'm awfully stupid about things like that," mourned Oh-Pshaw, "and I'm
afraid I'll never get over getting fussed. I never _could_ stand up in
front of anybody and perform; the minute I see people looking at me I
forget everything I know and stand there like a dummy."

"Cheer up, child," said Migwan, "it isn't nearly as bad as you make out.
Just think of the command and forget all about yourself and Miss Raper
and then you'll get it right every time."

"I hope so," said Oh-Pshaw with a sigh.

"You'll _have_ to get over it," said Agony emphatically. "If you make
any mistakes on the night of the contest--!" Agony's voice hinted at the
awful consequences which would follow such a misdemeanor.

"She isn't going to make any mistakes the night of the contest," said
Migwan, putting her arm through Oh-Pshaw's and starting off toward
Carver House.

The rest sauntered after them in twos and threes, practising drill steps
as they went. Sahwah slipped her arm through Veronica's.

"Let's go over into the woods awhile before lunch," she said, "just us
two."

Veronica came willingly and together they struck into the shady wood
path, flecked here and there with irregular patches of sunlight which
filtered through the branches above them. It was a pleasant place, this
strip of woods crowning a gently rolling hill behind the town. Fallen
logs thickly upholstered with moss made delightful sofas especially
designed for friends to sit upon and exchange confidences. Veronica and
Sahwah often came here on their walks.

Veronica was in a merry mood to-day and danced gaily down the path in
pursuit of butterflies; waved her hands and called out gay greetings to
the squirrels and chipmunks, and constantly exclaimed aloud in wonder
and delight at some bit of brilliant orange-colored fungus, or some
bright flower that greeted her eyes.

Sahwah was more quiet, and there was a sober look in her eyes. Her mind
was filled with perplexity, and her heart with foreboding, and the cause
was Veronica. The mystery that seemed to be hovering over her head had
not been dispelled as the days went on; on the contrary, it had been
deepened. Several more times Sahwah had seen her slipping out of the
house at dead of night and an incident had occurred several days before
which Sahwah was not able to put out of her mind.

Sahwah was behind the big carved settle in the hall, fishing for a bead
that had rolled underneath, when the telephone rang. The telephone was
in the hall, at the other end near the dining-room door. Sahwah sighed,
thinking she would have to crawl out and answer it, because Nyoda and
the girls were all out in the yard working among the vegetables, but
just then she heard Veronica answer the call, and went on placidly
feeling for her bead. Near to the telephone as she was, she could not
help hearing every word Veronica said.

Instead of the "Mrs. Sheridan is in the garden, I will call her," that
Sahwah had expected to hear. Veronica had answered, "This is Veronica
talking. Yes, I can. I will come immediately. The coast is clear. No one
is in the house just now and I can slip away without rousing any
suspicions."

Then Sahwah heard her hang up the receiver and pass out of the hall.
Sahwah sat up quickly and bumped her head sharply on the back of the
settle. Then, as the significance of the conversation she had just
overheard sank into her mind she remembered Veronica's mysterious
nocturnal errands, and it came to her in a startled flash that Veronica
was carrying on something which was a secret from the others--was
stealing away from the house to meet someone. She sprang out from behind
the settle, not knowing what she intended to do, but bent on seeing
where Veronica went.

The hall was empty; Veronica was not there. Sahwah darted to the front
door, expecting to see Veronica going down the walk to the street, but
there was no sign of her. The street lay clear in the sunshine for its
whole length down the hill; there was not a soul in it. Veronica could
not have gone out the front way. Neither could she have gone out the
back way, because the vegetable garden came up close to the kitchen
door, and there Nyoda and the Winnebagos, including Agony and Oh-Pshaw,
were working. Veronica must still be in the house. Sahwah went back in
and looked through all the rooms for her, upstairs and down, but she was
nowhere to be found.

Sahwah sat down on the lowest step of the stairway and thought, and
thought, and a great dread came over her and would not be beaten back, a
dread of something nameless and undefined, a sinister something that
hovered over her with great dark wings, like the Thunder Bird. In an
agony of love and sorrow Sahwah faced the fact which her prophetic soul,
in its new insight, told her, even while her loyal heart tried to stop
the whisper with a resolute hand.

Veronica had been caught in the toils of enemy agents, and was in some
way having dealings with them. Sahwah's heart turned to water within
her, and the strength went from her knees so that she could not stand
up. Veronica, one of the Winnebagos! It was too horrible to believe! She
couldn't believe it! She _wouldn't_ believe it! Her loyal heart stood up
firmly to her prophetic soul and shouted defiant denials at its
insinuating whispers. No, no! Veronica was not deceiving them; she was
the sincere, true-hearted girl they thought her, and she was as loyal to
America as they were. There must be some explanation for her mysterious
actions; it would all come out in time. She would be true to Veronica
and keep what she knew to herself, until she found out the truth. She
would never let Veronica know that she suspected her, never. All her
love for Veronica came over her in a rush and scattered to flight the
dark suspicions.

A call from the garden broke on her ear. "Sahwah! Oh, Sahwah! Where are
you?"

"Here," she answered, appearing at the back door.

"Where have you been?" called Hinpoha. "We've been calling and calling
for you. Come look at the robin trying to swallow the enormous angle
worm twice as big as himself!"

Sahwah went out, trying to look perfectly natural, and feeling as though
her secret were written on her face in letters a foot high. She looked
at the girls closely, to see if by any chance Veronica were among them,
but she was not.

"Where's Veronica?" she asked in a voice which she hoped sounded idle
and casual.

"Gone up to her room to lie down a while," replied Nyoda. "She got a
headache from the sun. She asked to be left undisturbed until dinner
time."

("Oh, if she only _were_ in her room," thought poor Sahwah!)

"Come on and help pick raspberries," said Nyoda. "We miss your nimble
fingers."

So Sahwah fell to work among the bushes, absently stripping off the
luscious red globes into the baskets, but her mind was far away and she
took little part in the gay talk that went on around her. By and by,
when the berries were all picked, Migwan said:

"Let's make a basket of leaves and fill it with some of the largest
berries and take it to Veronica."

Sahwah's heart bounded painfully. "Let me take it up," she begged.

"All right," replied Migwan. "The rest of us are going to walk over with
Agony and Oh-Pshaw while they take their berries home."

The rest went out of the front gate and Sahwah, not knowing what else to
do, went upstairs to Veronica's room, carrying the berries. She planned
to leave them on Veronica's dresser as a surprise for her when she
should return, and then sit in her own room and read until dinner time.
Thinking Veronica's room was empty she went right in without knocking.
Then she paused in astonishment, for there on the bed lay Veronica, with
a wet towel tied around her head and her forehead drawn up into painful
headache lines. Sahwah nearly dropped the berries on the floor in her
surprise, but recovered herself with an effort and approached the bed.

Veronica opened her eyes and smiled when she saw Sahwah. Sahwah, unable
to think of a thing to say, held out the berries silently, and Veronica
exclaimed in delight:

"You dear thing," she said, taking the dainty basket in one hand and
catching hold of Sahwah's hand with the other. "You're so good to me,"
she whispered, squeezing the hand she held and looking up at Sahwah with
wide-open, candid eyes. "Come, sit on my bed, and make my headache go
away, like you did once before."

Sahwah sat down beside her and smoothed her throbbing forehead with
light, soothing fingers that had a magic power to charm away aches and
pains. As she worked over Veronica and caught the sweet, straightforward
glances from her eyes all her doubts concerning her vanished, and in
their place there came uncertainty as to whether she herself had not
been suffering under a delusion that afternoon. Had she really heard the
telephone ring and Veronica answer it? Had hearing played some bizarre
trick on her? She seemed to be perfectly awake and in her right mind in
other respects. The girls had evidently not noticed anything peculiar
about her actions when she came out of the house, not even Nyoda, the
sharp sighted. Clearly she had not been walking in her sleep. She had
certainly heard the telephone ring; she had certainly heard Veronica
answer it. She had understood every word she had said perfectly; the
hall had been absolutely still. And yet--she had not heard Veronica go
out of either door! She remembered that distinctly, but her first
impulse had been to wait until Veronica had gone out of the front door
and then look after her. It was impossible not to have heard the front
door open; one hinge was rusty and it emitted a dismal squeak every time
the door opened. But if she had gone out of the back door the others
would have seen her and would not have said that she was upstairs in her
room. That was the point which made Sahwah doubt her own memory.
Veronica had not left the house; she must have gone right upstairs. And
she must have said something else through the telephone and Sahwah's
ears had played her a trick. It was easy to have missed her in her
search through the big house; Sahwah had merely run into one room after
another, given a hasty glance around and then run on to the next.

Sahwah smoothed the brown satiny forehead lovingly, and laughed at
herself for a suspicious idiot. And yet, the occurrence would not go
from her mind, and she wakened in the night to think about it hour after
hour and when she did sleep she was oppressed with a constant feeling of
uneasiness, and woke again and again with that sense of groping after
something that had just occurred, but which had escaped her utterly.

Then the next morning her doubts all vanished once more when the
Winnebagos assembled on the front lawn for flag raising, and Veronica,
whose turn it was to hoist the Stars and Stripes, stepped out with
shining eyes, and with loving hands fastened the flag of her adopted
country to the waiting halyard, carefully keeping it from touching the
ground, and with an attitude both proud and humble sent it fluttering to
the top of the pole. Then she joined in the singing of the "Star
Spangled Banner" with all her soul in her voice.

Clearly her actions told more eloquently than any passionate words her
love and reverence for that flag and all it symbolized. No, it could not
be possible that she could be connected with anything that aimed to harm
it.

And yet--that very night Sahwah had seen Veronica leaving the house
after midnight when the rest were all asleep, and going down the hill
behind the barn, and at the sight Sahwah had experienced that same
indescribable chill of fear that she had felt in the train; a peculiar
sense of hovering danger; a sensation which she could never clearly
define while it lasted nor describe afterwards.

She still kept the secret, but it haunted her day and night and
tormented her with its thousand possibilities. At last it seemed as if
she could endure it no longer without an explanation of some kind and
she made up her mind to ask Veronica about it. For this end she had
asked her to come into the woods to-day.

But the sight of Veronica, skipping gaily before her along the path,
whistling to the birds, calling the squirrels, whispering affectionate
words to the shy flowers, made her fears seem ridiculous, and her
resolution wavered and threatened to crumble. There was not a shadow on
Veronica's brow, not a glint of furtiveness in her eye, nowhere a hint
of any secret knowledge or subdued excitement. Her eyes met Sahwah's
with candid directness, her laughter was spontaneous and not forced; she
was neither paler than usual nor more flushed. How perfectly absurd to
connect this happy-hearted girl with anything suspicious!

And yet--Sahwah knew now beyond a doubt that she had not been dreaming
when she saw Veronica leave the house at night, and there was still that
strange conversation over the telephone.

Sahwah slackened her pace and rubbed her ankles together, a gesture
which in her denoted intensely concentrated thought. Veronica looked
back to see where she was and came back to her, slipping her arm around
her waist and hugging her in an ecstasy of girlish delight, born of the
beautiful weather and the release from strenuous military drill.

"Oh, look at the darling old stump!" she exclaimed. "Why, it must be
_miles_ across! Think what a tree that must have been! See, it has a
sort of step up and then a broad seat, just like a throne. Come on,
let's climb up and pretend we're queens."

She climbed up on the stump and drew Sahwah up after her.

"Why are you so quiet?" she asked finally, twisting her head and
looking around into Sahwah's face. "Have you a headache? The sun was so
hot out there in the road where we were drilling, and the glare was so
blinding."

"No, I haven't a headache," replied Sahwah slowly.

"A toothache, maybe?" suggested Veronica in a playful voice in which
there was a dash of concern. It was unusual indeed for Sahwah to lose
her animation.

"No, it isn't a toothache," replied Sahwah. "It's just something I've
been trying to figure out, that's all."

"Can I help you figure it out?" asked Veronica eagerly.

"Veronica," began Sahwah, striving to speak in an offhand manner,
"if--if you had a friend that you loved and that friend did something
that you couldn't understand and which seemed very strange and even
suspicious to you, what would you do?"

Veronica's eyes took on a thoughtful, far-away look, but they met
Sahwah's squarely. "If I loved that friend very much," she replied
slowly, "and had always trusted her before, I would say to myself, 'This
is my friend whom I love and trust I don't understand what she is doing,
but I won't permit myself to have any doubts about her now. I will have
faith that she is doing nothing wrong. I will wait patiently and see
what happens further, and very likely the matter will soon be explained
to my satisfaction,'"

"But," continued Sahwah, slowly and with an evident effort, "supposing
you _had_ done that, had refused to have any doubts concerning your
friend and had waited patiently, trusting that it was all right, but
things had not been explained to your satisfaction, and other things had
happened, things still stranger and more suspicious?"

To Sahwah, watching intently, it seemed that Veronica's large luminous
eyes had suddenly filmed over like an animal's in pain, but she answered
naturally, in her calm, sweet voice, "Then, if I really loved that
friend, and was afraid my suspicions were going to injure our
friendship, I would go to her and tell her what I had heard and seen and
ask her for an explanation."

Sahwah was silent for a moment, seemingly engaged in some inward
struggle with herself. Then she cleared her throat nervously and
moistened her lips with the tip of her tongue.

"Veronica," she burst out desperately, "why did you go out of the house
in the middle of the night on several occasions, and whom were you
talking to on the telephone that day when you said to someone that you
could slip out at that time without arousing any suspicions?"

Veronica started painfully and stared at Sahwah in amazement, and Sahwah
fancied she saw a great terror leap up in her eyes. Veronica looked at
her a moment, the expression of astonishment frozen on her face, and
then to Sahwah's great bewilderment she laughed aloud, a genuine,
mirthful, unforced, ringing laugh.

"Sahwah dear," she said, looking her straight in the eye, "it's
perfectly true, all that you said. I did go out of the house in the
middle of the night, and I did say just exactly what you said you heard
me say over the telephone. But as for the explanation, I can't give it
now. It may be that you will never find out. It is not my secret, and I
cannot tell it, even to clear away any suspicions you may have regarding
it."

Sahwah gazed at her uncertainly, going over in her mind the unexpected
effect her words had had upon Veronica, and the mysterious thing she had
said in reply. They had both stepped off the throne and stood facing
each other in the path. Veronica came up close to Sahwah and slipped a
hand around each of her elbows and squeezed them, her favorite caress.

"Sahwah, dear," she said soberly, while the hurt animal look came back
into her eyes, "you wouldn't want me to tell you my secret, would you,
dear? I wouldn't want you to tell me yours, if you had one."

Sahwah felt rebuked and abashed, and very, very sorry. Her love for
Veronica flamed higher than ever; all doubts concerning her vanished
for good; she hugged and caressed her and begged to be forgiven for her
foolishness, and with arms tightly entwined the two went blithely down
the path.



CHAPTER IX

THE BABES IN THE WOODS


Arm in arm Sahwah and Veronica wandered on through the woods farther and
farther away from the Oakwood side. They crossed the brow of the hill
and descended to the valley on the other side. There they found a merry
little stream which tumbled along with frequent cataracts over mossy
rocks, and followed its course, often stopping to dip their hands in the
bright water and let the drops flow through their fingers.

"I'd love to be a brook," said Sahwah longingly, "and go splashing and
singing along over the smooth stones, and jump down off the high rocks,
and catch the sunlight in my ripples, and have lovely silvery fishes
swimming around in me. I'd sing them all to sleep every night, and wake
them up in the morning with a kiss, and never, never let anyone catch
them!"

"You love the water better than anything else, don't you?" said
Veronica, looking at Sahwah and thinking how much like the brook she was
herself.

"Oh, I do, I do," said Sahwah, taking off her shoes and stockings and
wading into the limpid stream. Soon she was dancing in the water,
frolicking like a nixie, catching the water up in her hands and tossing
it into the air and then darting out from beneath it before it could
fall upon her. Veronica laughed and clapped her hands as she watched
Sahwah, and wished she were an artist that she might paint the picture.

Finally they came to a place where the little stream poured down over a
high rock and ran through a broad gully, widening into a great pond in
the natural basin, which was like a huge bowl scooped out of rock.

"This must be the place they call the Devil's Punch Bowl that Nyoda told
us about," said Sahwah. "See, it looks just like a punch bowl."

"I wonder if it's very deep," said Veronica, peering into the water from
a safe distance away from the edge.

"Shall I dive in and find out?" asked Sahwah.

"Oh, don't, don't," said Veronica, catching hold of her arm.

"Don't worry, you precious old goosie," said Sahwah, laughing. "I didn't
mean _really_. I was only in fun. Did you think I was going in with my
clothes on? It must be deep, though, or the Indian couldn't have jumped
in. That must be the rock up there he jumped from," she said, indicating
a flat, platform-like rock that overhung the gully some forty feet
above their heads. "Don't you remember Nyoda telling about it; how the
soldiers were chasing this Indian and he got out on that rock and dove
down into the Punch Bowl and swam under water and they never thought of
looking down there for him?"

Both looked at the rock jutting out over the water, and shuddered at the
height of the drop. At the far side of the gully the pond became a brook
again and flowed on in a narrow channel the same as before. The woods
were denser on this side of the gully and there was less sunlight
filtering down through the branches. Several times they came upon
clusters of fragile, pale Indian pipes growing out of wet, decayed
stumps.

"Oh, it's nice here," breathed Veronica, revelling in the coolness.

  "'This is the forest primeval,'" quoted Sahwah,
  "'The murmuring pines and the hemlocks--'"

"Only they aren't murmuring pines and hemlocks," she finished. "They're
mostly oaks and beeches."

"It isn't the primeval forest, either," said Veronica. "There's a tent
over there between the trees."

"Gracious!" exclaimed Sahwah, "and here am I, coming along with my shoes
and stockings in my hand!" She sat down hastily and put on her
foot-gear.

The tent stood quite close to the brook path and when they were nearly
up to it they heard, coming from around the other side of it, a sound of
vigorous splashing, punctuated by protesting squawks. Involuntarily the
two girls stood still and listened. Above the squawking rose a voice.

"'Curse on him,' quote false Sextus, 'will not the villain drown?'" it
declaimed dramatically.

Then in a moment the splashes and squawks increased to an uproar, and
then around the corner of the tent there came a chicken in full flight,
its leathers dripping with water, in spite of which it made amazingly
fast time. After the chicken came a balloon-like figure in a sky-blue
bathrobe, uttering breathless grunts which were evidently intended to be
peremptory commands to the chicken to halt its flight. At the sight of
the two girls standing in the path the bath-robed pursuer fell back in
astonishment.

"'What noble Lucumo comes next to taste our Roman cheer?'" he exclaimed
with a dramatic wave of the hand.

Then he stood transfixed, the gesture frozen in mid-air. "Sahwah!" he
gasped. "Veronica! where in the world----"

The girls started forward with unbelieving eyes. "Slim!" cried Sahwah.
"What are you doing here?"

"Tenting on the Old Camp Ground," replied Slim, holding his voluminous
bathrobe primly around him with one hand to cover the bathing suit
which he wore under it, and shaking hands vigorously with the other.

Then, making a trumpet of his hands, he called loudly, "Captain, oh,
Captain, come here quick!"

There was an upheaval inside the tent and the sound of something
falling, and in a moment a second youth appeared around the corner of
the tent, clad in khaki trousers and a blue and white blazer.

"What's the matter?" he asked in alarm. Then he saw the girls and threw
up his hands in amazement. "For the love of Mike!" he exclaimed
elegantly.

"Captain!" cried Sahwah.

Rapturous greetings followed.

"Of all things," said Sahwah, "to run across you two in the woods like
this! What on earth are you doing here? We thought you were doing some
summer work at your college."

"We are," replied the Captain, looking from one to the other of the
girls with a face beaming with delight at the unexpected meeting. "We're
making a survey of different parts of the state--it's part of our
course--and incidentally we're compiling certain statistics for the
government."

"Oh!" said the two girls respectfully.

"But what, if I might make so bold as to ask," said the Captain, "are
_you_ two doing here in the wet, wild woods, all by your wild lone?"

Sahwah explained and extended a cordial invitation for the two boys to
come to Carver House whenever they had time.

"Is Hinpoha there?" asked Slim and the Captain simultaneously.

"She certainly is," replied Sahwah.

Slim squinted critically down his nose at his tub-like form. "Do you
think I've gotten any thinner?" he asked anxiously.

Sahwah scrutinized, him closely for signs of reduction and decided he
_might_ possibly be half a pound thinner than when she saw him last.
Slim sighed and looked pensive and Sahwah had hard work to keep her face
straight.

"But what on earth was all that racket as we came up?" she asked, unable
to restrain her curiosity on that point any longer. "What were you
chasing the chicken for?"

Slim's eye roved regretfully back toward the trees among which the
chicken had vanished, and the Captain answered for him.

"You see," he exclaimed, "today is Slim's birthday and we were going to
celebrate by having a chicken dinner. So Slim went out to buy a chicken
and came back with a live one. Then he didn't have the heart to chop its
head off, and was trying to drown it in a barrel of water when you came
up. By the way, Slim, where is it now?"

Slim pointed to the bushes with an expression of chagrin on his fat
face. "It's gone," he said with a sigh of regret. "A dollar and
eighty-seven cents' worth of chicken stew running loose on the
landscape."

"But it wasn't the nerve I lacked to chop its head off," he added,
looking reproachfully at the Captain. "It was the hatchet. You see," he
explained, "we didn't exactly come prepared to catch our meals on the
hoof, so to speak, and all I had to chop his head off with was the
can-opener on my pocket knife, and that wouldn't work, so I _had_ to
drown him."

"Oh, you funny boys!" said Sahwah, laughing uncontrollably.

"I think you might have helped me hold him down," said Slim to the
Captain in an injured tone.

"I couldn't," replied the Captain gravely. "The butter got overcome with
the heat and I was reviving it with a fan."

"Oh, you babes in the woods, you!" said Sahwah, with another burst of
laughter. "You must be having the time of your lives."

"We are," replied the Captain. "Won't you stay to dinner? There isn't
anything to eat but a can of tomato soup, but you're welcome to that."

"Oh, we hadn't better," replied Sahwah, "they will be wondering at home
what has become of us, and besides, it would make too much trouble for
you."

"Too much trouble!" snorted the Captain. "That's just like a girl. As
if a girl ever cared how much trouble she made for a fellow! Come on and
stay, we want you. We're lonesome."

Thus pressed, the girls accepted the invitation, and pretty soon they
were all sitting in a circle under the trees with cups and spoons in
their hands, and the Captain was singing at the top of his voice:

  "Glorious, glorious,
  One can of soup for the four of us,
  Praises be, there are no more of us,
  For the four of us can drink it all alone!"

Lunch over, they exchanged gossip under the trees for a merry half hour,
then the girls took their departure and sped homeward to carry the news
to Carver House.



CHAPTER X

THE OPENING CAREER OF MANY EYES


  "Good morning, Winnebago friends,
  With your faces as bright as mine,
  Good morning, Winnebago friends,
  You're surely looking fine,
  Ashes to ashes, and dust to dust,
  If the pancakes don't get you the syrup must
  Good morning, Winnebago friends,
  With your faces as bright as,
  Your faces as bright as, Your faces as bright as mine!"

The Winnebagos, happy and hungry, gathered around the breakfast table in
answer to the summons which Hinpoha had just sent echoing through the
house. With the advent of the Winnebagos at Carver House, Nyoda's
melodiously chiming Japanese dinner gong had been discarded in favor of
a hoarse-throated fish horn, which bore some similarity to the sound of
a bugle and was therefore to be preferred because it had more of a
military flavor.

"Where's Sahwah?" asked Nyoda, noticing that her place was vacant

Nobody knew.

Hinpoha blew a second blast of the horn up the stairway, making a noise
that would have waked the Seven Sleepers with ease, but there was no
answer.

"Sahwah must be out taking a morning walk," announced Hinpoha, when her
horn blast had failed to rout out the absentee, "she's forever
exercising herself in the early morning hours--as if we didn't get
enough exercise doing military drill! It's no wonder she's like a
beanpole. I would be, too, if I was forever trotting the way she is.
Here she comes now, tearing up the walk like a racehorse!"

"She probably heard your horn on the other side of the woods," said
Nyoda, laughing, "and got here before it stopped blowing."

Sahwah came in quite out of breath and evidently tremendously
enthusiastic about something.

"Nyoda," she burst out as soon as she was inside the door, "how fast
would a Primitive Woman go up and how many pounds would she pull?"

"What?" asked Nyoda, looking up inquiringly from the cup of cocoa she
was handing to Gladys. The rest of the Winnebagos looked at Sahwah in
open-mouthed astonishment.

"How fast would a Primitive Woman go up and how many pounds would she
pull?" repeated Nyoda. "What is it, a riddle?"

"No, a kite," replied Sahwah impatiently. "I mean a kite built like Many
Eyes, our Primitive Woman symbol; would she fly high and pull a heavy
tail?"

"I haven't the slightest idea," replied Nyoda. "Why do you ask?"

"Because I've entered the kite-flying contest that the Boy Scouts of
this town are having, and I thought of building my kite in the Primitive
Woman shape."

"_You've_ entered a kite-flying contest that the Boy Scouts are having!"
exclaimed Hinpoha in surprise. "How on earth did you happen to do that?"

"It's open to outsiders," replied Sahwah. "I saw a Scout nailing a
bulletin on a tree in the square down town challenging all the boys in
town to a kite-flying contest on Commons Field next Saturday afternoon."

"All the _boys_ in town!" replied Hinpoha. "Since when are you a boy?"

"Well," replied Sahwah, "I read the sign and I remembered how I used to
love to fly kites with my brother and I thought what fun it would be to
go into the contest. So I ran after the Scout who had nailed up the
bulletin and asked him if we Winnebagos couldn't enter the contest, and
he was awfully nice about it when he heard we were Camp Fire Girls. He
said of course we couldn't build a decent kite, no girl could, but if we
wanted to go into the contest and get beaten the Scouts wouldn't care.
So I wrote our name in the space under the announcement that was left
for the entries, and we're going to be in the contest! On the way home I
thought of building the kite in the shape of Primitive Woman, which
would be original and symbolic. Do you think she'd fly high, Nyoda?" she
asked anxiously.

"I can't say," replied Nyoda. "I'll have to confess that I know nothing
whatever about the art of flying kites. My childhood was sadly
neglected, I'm afraid, but that's one thing I never did. All you can do
is make one and try."

Sahwah set to work right after breakfast with sticks of wood and brown
wrapping paper and by afternoon her kite was ready for its trial flight.
All the Winnebagos went out to help fly it. The trial was a success.
Primitive Woman soared high at a good rate of speed and pulled a
five-pound tail. Jubilant, Sahwah stripped the common wrapping paper
from the frame and with fine brown paper which Nyoda gave her began to
construct a Primitive Woman which was a work of art. Hinpoha painted the
features on the triangle-shaped head, and under her clever brush Many
Eyes was soon looking out on the world with a serene and confident
smile. The Winnebagos were enchanted with the result and all
enthusiastic about the contest now.

"Many Eyes, you're holding the honor of the Camp Fire Girls in your
hands," said Sahwah solemnly. "You've got to fly faster than any kite a
mere Boy Scout can invent. You've got to win!" And it seemed to the
girls, surrounding Many Eyes as she stood up against the wall to dry,
that her smile widened in a promise of victory.

"Let's make a magic over her," suggested Hinpoha, "and then she _can't_
lose," Hinpoha was always having rings wished on her fingers, and
running around her chair to change her luck, and building rain jinxes
before starting out on excursions.

"Let's find a four-leaf clover and fasten it on her," said Migwan.
"Where'll we find one?"

"Out in the woods there's a place where there are some," replied Sahwah.

"We might take our supper out in the woods," suggested Nyoda. "Aren't we
going to have a Ceremonial Meeting tonight to take Agony and Oh-Pshaw
into the Winnebagos? We could have our Council Fire out in the woods
after supper."

"Let's take Many Eyes along and make her our official mascot," suggested
Sahwah. "We can install her with ceremonies, like we did Eeny-Meeny."

This bit of nonsense was seized upon by the Winnebagos as a grand
inspiration. When Agony and Oh-Pshaw arrived at Carver House with their
Ceremonial dresses in neat packages under their arms and their lists of
honors in their hands they found the Winnebagos forming a procession out
by the back gate. Sahwah headed the parade, holding up above her head a
huge kite made in the form of the symbolic Primitive Woman, with a long
tail which the rest of the Winnebagos carried like pages carrying a
queen's court train.

"What on earth!" began Agony.

"Get on the end of the line and help carry her tail!" commanded Sahwah.

"What's the idea?" demanded Agony suspiciously. "Are we getting
initiated?"

"No," explained Sahwah. "This is Many Eyes, our entry in the Boy Scout's
kite-flying contest. We're conveying her in state to the Council Rock.
We're going to make her our official mascot and then she'll be sure to
win the contest."

"And we're going to find a four-leaf clover and put it on her and render
her impassable," said Hinpoha. Hinpoha was trying to think of
"unsurpassable," and "impassable" was the nearest she came to it.

Agony and Oh-Pshaw joined themselves on to the procession with alacrity.

"We passed the Boy Scouts' bulletin board on the way over," said Agony,
"and we saw that the Winnebagos were entered in the contest."

"Were there any more entries?" asked Sahwah eagerly.

"Several," replied Agony. "Scout Troops Number One, Two and Three were
entered."

"Now," said Hinpoha, who seemed to be mistress of ceremonies, "we're
going to make a magic so that Many Eyes will win, and first we are going
to do the Indian Silence. We're going to march to the woods in single
file, carrying Many Eyes, and nobody must speak a word, or the charm
will be broken. Nobody must speak until we've found the four leaf
clover."

"How perfectly epic!" exclaimed Agony, falling in with the spirit of the
occasion.

"Is everybody ready?" asked Hinpoha. "Come on, then. Start!"

The procession moved off like a snake past the barn and down the hill,
Many Eyes smiling serenely ahead of her. The silence continued deep and
sepulchral all the way down the hill and quite to the edge of the woods,
and then Nyoda suddenly exclaimed, "The supper basket! Who has it?"

Nobody had it!

The Winnebagos looked sheepishly at one another and then Migwan and
Gladys offered to go back and get it.

"We'll sit right here, and wait for you," said Hinpoha, "and none of us
will speak a word until you come."

Many Eyes was propped against a tree while her escort sat around on the
ground holding their handkerchiefs in front of their mouths to keep from
talking. Migwan and Gladys presently came panting up and the procession
resumed its way into the woods. It was harder walking here and the
tail-bearers often stumbled against each other or accidentally kicked
each other's shins, and when that happened they had to compress their
lips tightly to keep back the exclamations of surprise or pain that
involuntarily sought expression. The procession wound up beside the
stream which Sahwah had discovered in the woods on the other side of the
hill, at a smooth, grassy spot where the clover grew in abundance. Here
they set Many Eyes down on the ground and began hunting diligently for
the symbol of good luck. It was a good thing that the four leaf clover
was found soon--and by Sahwah, too, which was taken as a further omen of
good luck--or the strain of the silence might have been fatal to a few
of the searchers. Agony was ready to burst long before the time limit
was up.

Then, when the charm of the silence had gotten in its good work, and the
little green quatrefoil had been fastened into the outstretched right
hand of Many Eyes, Hinpoha selected several soft, flat stones from the
stream and carved them with further good luck omens--the swastika, the
horseshoe, and all the other signs she could think of that were supposed
to bring good luck. These were to be a part of the kite's tail. A little
later they all clasped hands and wished for success on the evening star.
Then, to her great delight, Hinpoha caught a glimpse of the slender new
moon over her left shoulder, and registered her wish on that. Meanwhile
the others noticed a big black spider letting himself down from the
tree above, directly in front of Many Eyes--another omen of good
fortune. Never had the signs been so auspicious for any undertaking.

Nyoda carried Many Eyes with her when she took her place on the Council
Rock. The Council Fire was to be held on the great flat rock that
overhung the Devil's Punch Bowl; an impressive place indeed to hold a
Camp Fire Ceremonial, up there right under the stars, it seemed, with
the wind fiddling through the branches all around them and the water
whispering to itself below. The rock was about twenty feet wide and as
flat as a table.

Agony and Oh-Pshaw and Veronica, who were the lowest in rank of the
Winnebagos, had gathered the wood for the fire and laid the fagots in
place in the center of the rock, with the bow and drill and tinder
beside it and the supply of firewood nearby.

Nyoda smiled whimsically at Many Eyes, standing against the
perpendicular back ledge of the Council Rock, and with her heart full of
love for the girls who could get so much fun out of a kite, wished
success to their cause with all her soul. Then she stood up in the
center of the rock and sent forth the clear call, the summons for the
tribe of Wohelo to come to the Council Fire.

The call rang far out over the water and came echoing back from the
surrounding hills, and before the echoes had died away it was answered
from the depths of the wood, and then shadowy figures came stealing
forward from between the tall trees, a silent file that came winding
down to the Council Rock in a stately procession. The circle closed
around Nyoda and she stooped to kindle the fire. As the bow flashed
quickly back and forth and the drill whirled in its center, a low,
musical chant rose from the circle:

  "Keep rolling, keep rolling,
  Keep the fire sticks
  Briskly rolling, rolling,
  Grinding the wood dust,
  Smoke arises!
  Smoke arises!
  Ah, the smoke, sweetly scented,
  It will rise, it will rise, it will rise!"

The chant swelled out in volume to a dramatic climax as a puff of smoke
burst forth beneath the point of the whirling drill. Nyoda adroitly
caught the spark in a bed of tinder and raised it to her lips, blowing
gently to fan it into flame, while the chant was resumed:

  "Dusky forest now darker grown,
  Broods in silence o'er its own,
  Till the wee spark to a flame has blown,
  And living fire leaps up to greet
  The song of Wohelo."

The "wee spark" turned into a tiny point of flame and the tinder burst
out into a merry blaze. Nyoda dropped it into the pile of fagots and the
ceremonial fire was kindled, while the Winnebagos sprang to their feet,
ready to sing, "Burn, fire, burn."

When that had been sung the Winnebagos still remained on their feet.
There was a moment of silence and then they sang a hearty cheer:

  "Oh, we cheer, oh, we cheer for Wohelo,
  For our comrades and friends so true,
  And our loyalty ever shall linger,
  Oh, Nakwisi, we sing to you!
  Oh, Chapa, we sing to you!
  Oh, Medmangi, we sing to you!"

  "Oh, Katherine, here's to you,
  Our hearts will e'er be true,
  We will never find your equal
  Though we search the whole world through!"

They were singing to the absent Winnebagos who would always be present
in spirit wherever the Winnebagos were gathered together.

Agony and Oh-Pshaw were touched and felt a lump rising in their throats;
it was so beautiful, this bond of affection between the Winnebagos. They
were completely carried away by the dramatic atmosphere of a Winnebago
Council Fire. They had never taken part in such an elaborate one. Both
of them, by spasmodic efforts, had attained the rank of Fire Maker in
the group to which they had formerly belonged, whose Guardian had meant
well enough, but had neither the time nor the talent to become a
successful Camp Fire leader. The group had never accomplished much, and
had finally drifted apart, as many groups do, for lack of a powerful
welding influence.

Agony and Oh-Pshaw, having been instrumental in starting the group, had
"run" it to their hearts' content; that is, Agony ran it, for her
dominating personality completely overshadowed her sister along with the
rest of the members. Agony "ran" the Guardian, too, who admired her
immensely, thought everything she did a symptom of genius, stood not a
little in awe of her family connections, and let her have full sway in
everything. Agony was fond of the Guardian, too, but naturally was not
profoundly influenced by association with her.

But there was an altogether different atmosphere in the Winnebago group,
as Agony soon discovered. No one girl had any more to say than the
others, all worked together in perfect harmony, and all worshipped the
same sun, Nyoda. She was a great lode star that drew them together, and
kept them circling contentedly in their little orbits; she was their
oracle, their all-wise counsellor, their loving elder sister. Around her
the Winnebagos clustered, as the populace did about Peter, anxious to
have his shadow fall upon them. The Twins had also fallen under her
spell and after their first meeting had become her adoring slaves. "Run"
Nyoda? The thought never entered Agony's mind.

In her own group Agony had achieved her honors easily, for the Guardian
had not been too insistent about having things done well, and some of
her honors were really only half earned. So she had become a Fire Maker
without any strenuous efforts. Now her great ambition was to be a Torch
Bearer. All the year at school she had looked with envy on the little
round silver pins that Hinpoha and Migwan and Gladys wore and noticed
how people who understood the meaning of that little pin always
exclaimed admiringly, "Oh, you're a Torch Bearer!" Agony could not bear
to have anyone get ahead of her, she must be a Torch Bearer, too. She
could hurry up and get enough honor beads by the next Council meeting to
be eligible.

After the ceremony of the installation was over and she and Oh-Pshaw
were really Winnebagos, she spoke of the desire which lay near to her
heart. It was in the little intimate talk time which always took place
during the Ceremonial Meeting, when the flames began to burn down to
embers, just before it was time to sing, "Now Our Camp Fire Fadeth."

"Nyoda," she said confidently, "I'm ready to become a Torch Bearer at
the next meeting."

Nyoda looked at her with serious, thoughtful eyes. In the Winnebago
group, it had not been customary for the girls to announce that they
were worthy to be called Torch Bearer. Nyoda had herself conferred that
honor upon them when she considered them worthy. No one had ever voiced
her belief that she was ready, although Nyoda knew how each one had
coveted the title. She was able to read Agony clearly, and knew that the
keynote of her life was ambition. She was pretty certain that Agony
wanted to be a Torch Bearer because it was the highest rank to which a
Camp Fire Girl could aspire, and she wanted to be on the top. As yet she
had seen no evidence of a humble desire to lose herself so deeply in the
joy of service for others that self was forgotten. Agony was a born
leader, there was no doubt about that, but Nyoda knew that she was not
yet ruler over her own spirit. To the Winnebagos it seemed that Agony
was already a Torch Bearer beyond compare, but Nyoda's inner voice of
wisdom whispered, "Not yet." Agony must win that title in humility and
self-forgetfulness before she could glory in it.

So she replied quietly, "When you have earned the right to be called
Torch Bearer you shall be made one, but remember, Agony, that one does
not become a Torch Bearer merely by earning a certain number of honor
beads and standing up and repeating the Torch Bearer's Desire. A girl
must have shown a steady power of leadership for a long time, and must
satisfy all the questions in the Guardian's mind about her fitness for
the rank. Also remember, Agony, that true leadership does not
necessarily mean taking the world by storm and being tremendously
popular with people. It may sometimes mean retiring to the background
and playing a very insignificant part, instead of being always in the
limelight. A good leader is first of all a good team worker, one who is
willing to suppress her own personal inclinations for the good of the
cause."

Agony, who was not given to examining her own faults very closely,
failed to see wherein she fell short in any of these requirements, and
was filled with elation as she thought that just as soon as Nyoda began
taking special notice of her she would see that she was a candidate _par
excellence_ for the title of Torch Bearer.

"You shouldn't have asked to be made a Torch Bearer!" Sahwah whispered
in her ear while Nyoda was stirring up the fire. "That isn't the way to
do it; it's like handing yourself a bouquet!"

"Well, I didn't know it," Agony whispered back, not a whit abashed. "In
our other group we had to ask for everything we got or we never would
have gotten it."

Nyoda then turned to Oh-Pshaw, who had sat silent and thoughtful during
the whole Council Meeting.

"Are you ready to be a Torch Bearer, too?" she asked.

"Oh, no," replied Oh-Pshaw modestly. "I'm not worthy to be called a
Torch Bearer. I'm not a born leader, like Agony is." There was a world
of unexpressed longing in her voice.

Nyoda thought seriously about the matter. Oh-Pshaw was certainly humble
and unassuming enough, always kind and sweet and obliging, always
willing to take any part in anything that was assigned her, but did she
have the grit and backbone, the force of character which Nyoda
considered necessary qualifications for a Torch Bearer? As yet she did
not know.

The subject was dropped. The circle sat in a silence for a moment. Each
one of the Torch Bearers in that circle was humbly wondering what Nyoda
had ever seen in her to cause her to single her out for the honor. And
each one became very sober as she thought about it and wondered if she
had come up to Nyoda's expectations.

The fire was burning low and the embers sent only a feeble glow around
the Council Rock. Behind them the forest stretched darkly away, and in
the stillness that brooded over them the sound of the lapping water
beneath came up with a curious distinctness. Oh-Pshaw shuddered as she
heard it and drew closer to the fire.

"What's the matter, are you cold?" asked Nyoda.

"I hate the sound of running water!" exclaimed Oh-Pshaw. "It fairly
makes my blood curdle. It's been so ever since I can remember. I hate it
in daylight, but at night it makes my hair stand on end! If I were out
here alone with it I'd simply go insane!"

"Why, how queer!" said Sahwah, unable to understand how anyone could be
afraid of her beloved element, and the others laughed, too, thinking
that Oh-Pshaw was only exaggerating, as most girls do over their little
peculiarities.

"It _is_ queer," said Agony, "because water doesn't affect me a bit like
that. I love to hear it, day or night. But it's been that way with
Oh-Pshaw ever since she was little. I can remember once when we were
about five years old she had spasms because our nurse left us alone in
the bathtub when the water was running in. She can't even stand it to
hear the water running down the eave spouts during a heavy shower."

The Winnebagos all laughed again at this queer "bête noir" of
Oh-Pshaw's, all but Nyoda. She knew something which the girls did not,
and which neither Agony nor Oh-Pshaw herself knew, something which had
been told her by Grandmother Wing in one of her talks with Nyoda. That
was that when Oh-Pshaw was a baby only three months old she had been
taken out in a sailboat by her father and mother on the river which ran
through Oakwood. A squall came up and the boat capsized and all three
were thrown into the wildly rolling river. They were promptly rescued by
a nearby launch, all unhurt, but the moaning, gurgling sound of the
water had stamped itself indelibly on Oh-Pshaw's tiny brain and she
would never again be able to hear that gurgling noise without a
sensation of horror. During her infancy, even the sound of water
gurgling out of a bottle was sufficient to throw her into spasms. She
had never been told about the accident, in the hope that she would
outgrow the shock and get over the fear, but she had never outgrown it.
She no longer had spasms when she heard water gurgling, but the sound
chilled her to the very marrow of her bones, and she never went alone,
even in daylight, past the river.

Nyoda knew how real this fear was and sympathized deeply with her,
although she pretended to make light of it, as the others did. Nyoda and
the Winnebagos loved to sit in the silence of the woods when the fire
burned low and listen to the murmuring of the water, but for Oh-Pshaw's
sake they must not do it to-night.

"Come, girls," Nyoda called cheerily, "'Fire's gwine out,' time to sing
'Mammy Moon' and then go home."

She poked the last embers of the fire into a little blaze, and the light
and the lively measures of the song took Oh-Pshaw's mind off the
gurgling water.

  "Cross my heart, Mammy Moon,
  Termorrer I'll be an angel coon,
  I'll be a chile dat'll make you smile,
  Good--o-l-e Mam-my M-o-o-n!"

The circle all lay down with their heads on each other's shoulders in
the drowsy attitude with which the song closes, and then Gladys's clear
voice rose in the melody of the Camp Fire Girls' own lullaby, sung to
the music of an Ojibway love song:

  "In the still night, far, far below,
  The drowsy wavelets come and go,
  They weave a dream spell round Wohelo.

  "Mid the pine trees, the long night through,
  The wandering breezes croon to you,
  They breathe a sleep charm of mist and dew.

  "Heaven broods o'er you with stars aglow,
  The hearts of Night is beating low,
  Wokanda watches o'er Wohelo.
  Wokanda watches o'er Wohelo!"

Then the last ember burned out into darkness and with the aid of their
little bug lights they stole home through the shadowy woods; Sahwah
carrying Many Eyes in her arms and confident she was a winner; Agony
filled with a great elation because her ambition to become a Torch
Bearer would soon be realized; Oh-Pshaw sadly wishing she were a born
leader like her sister; and Nyoda, walking with them, guessed what was
in the mind of each and her heart went out to them in tender love as the
heart of a shepherd goes out to his sheep.



CHAPTER XI

THE FURTHER CAREER OF MANY EYES


"What a grand day, and the wind just right," exulted Sahwah on Saturday
noon as the Winnebagos were hastening home from military drill. "It was
just made for flying kites."

"Are Slim and the Captain coming?" asked Hinpoha.

"They said they were," replied Sahwah.

"Father's coming, too," said Agony. "He came home this morning. He said
he would get Mr. Prince to come along with him."

"Oh, dear, I do hope we win, with _him_ there!" said Hinpoha. "But I
don't see how Many Eyes can help winning, with the four leaf clover and
all the good luck signs tied to her tail," she finished confidently.
Hinpoha believed firmly in the potency of her charms.

But alas for charms and good luck signs! Maybe the Fates stand in awe of
them, but they are powerless in the case of a goat. The Winnebagos
reached home just in time to see Many Eyes, impaled on Kaiser Bill's
horns, borne swiftly through the garden toward the stable. Sahwah
shrieked and darted in pursuit, whereupon the Kaiser collided with a
tree and drove his whole head and shoulders through the paper form of
Many Eyes and splintered her ribs like toothpicks. Then he dashed round
and round the garden at top speed, scattering bits of her tail in his
wake. By the time he had finally been subdued with an open umbrella
there was not enough left of Many Eyes to know that she had ever been a
kite.

The Winnebagos stood dumb with dismay and Sahwah nearly strangled with
mingled rage and disappointment.

"We're finished, as far as the contest is concerned," said Agony
gloomily.

Sahwah turned her back sharply and winked her eyes hard to keep the
tears from falling. She had worked _so_ hard to build Many Eyes, and
here was all her work gone for nothing, all on account of that fiendish
goat!

"Somebody will have to go and tell the Scouts that we withdraw our
entry, I suppose," said Migwan.

"Yes, and maybe they won't believe that the goat smashed it," said Agony
darkly. "Maybe they'll think we fell down on making a kite, or got cold
feet or something."

Sahwah's eyes flashed and she whirled around fiercely, galvanized into
action by Agony's words. "That Scout I was talking to was so sure we
couldn't make a kite, and I was just aching to show him!" she said with
tragic emphasis. Then resolution kindled in her eyes. "I said we were
going into that contest, and we _are_! They'll never get a chance to say
we backed down! I'm going to make another kite!"

"Oh, Sahwah, there isn't time," said Hinpoha hopelessly. "It's twelve
o'clock already and the contest starts at two."

"Two hours!" replied Sahwah. "I can make one in two hours."

"But you haven't had your lunch----" began Hinpoha.

"Lunch!" exclaimed Sahwah scornfully. "Who wants any lunch? I'm going to
build another kite!"

She sped into the house and in a few moments was busy nailing together
another frame while the rest of the Winnebagos stood around and handed
her tacks, paper, paste, and everything as she needed it. By half past
one another Primitive Woman had been evolved by her flying fingers,
Migwan and Gladys hastily constructing the tail while Sahwah made the
kite proper.

"I believe I'd have time to paint a face on her," said Hinpoha. She
seized her brush and put in an eye with rapid strokes. The clock chimed
a quarter to two and Sahwah started up nervously.

"There isn't time to do any more, Hinnpoha," she said. "We'll just have
time to get there now. She'll just have to go as she is."

"But can you call her Many Eyes if she only has one eye?" objected
Hinpoha.

"Never mind what we call her," said Sahwah. "She's a kite, and that's
all she needs to be. Call her One Eye if you like. What have you put in
her tail?"

"Some of those little sample bags of salt," replied Migwan. "They were
the only things we could find to put in as weights."

"Salt's bad luck!" wailed Hinpoha. "Oh, whatever did you take salt for?"

"Too late to change now," said Sahwah.

Agony looked scornfully at the new edition of Many Eyes. "For goodness'
sake, you aren't going to enter that thing in the contest?" she
exclaimed when she saw it. "Why, it looks perfectly _crazy_. Everybody
will laugh at it. I'd rather stay out of the contest than enter such a
looking kite. It looks like a scarecrow! For goodness' sake, don't enter
_that_!"

Sahwah had to admit that the new Many Eyes _was_ a rather laughable
object, with her one eye and her miscellaneous tail and her one arm
covered with yellow paper where the brown had given out.

"I don't care _what she looks like, she'll fly_," said Sahwah stoutly.

"Well, _I_ care what she looks like," returned Agony. "I tell you
everybody will laugh at us and our one-eyed kite."

"Let them laugh," retorted Sahwah, "I don't care."

"Oh, come on," said Migwan good-naturedly, "stop arguing about it. If
we're going into the contest we'll have to get there pretty soon. We
won't win, of course, but we'll show the boys that we're game, anyway.
Like the 'poor, benighted Hindoo,' we'll 'do the best we _kin_ do!' Be a
sport, Agony, and come on."

Sahwah gathered up her kite in her arms and started for the door. Going
through the hall she knocked Hinpoha's little purse mirror from the
table and smashed it all to bits. Hinpoha was aghast. "Bad luck again!"
she wailed.

"Never mind, 'Poha, I'll buy you another mirror," said Sahwah. "Just
leave the pieces, I'll sweep them up when I come back."

Agony scolded about the crazy-looking kite all the way to Commons Field
and Hinpoha resignedly accepted the fact that luck was against them, and
they might as well not enter the contest. To all of their remarks Sahwah
paid no heed, stubbornly keeping her determination to enter her beloved
kite.

"We've got to be sports now and not back down," was the only thing she
would say.

"Yes," said Migwan, "remember--"

  "'Tis better to have flown and lost
  Than never to have flown at all!'"

The other entries had already arrived on the scene when the Winnebagos
got there, and a good many of the Oakwood boys and girls had assembled
to watch the contest. Commons Field was a five-acre lot running down to
the river on the eastern side of the town, used as baseball field,
footfall field, and general sporting grounds. It was a sort of natural
amphitheatre, for a grassy hill curved around two sides of it, making an
ideal place for the spectators to sit and watch what was going on below.

Lists of the entries in the contest had been posted on various trees.

GREAT KITE FLYING CONTEST

_Entries_

  VICTORY BIRD........................Troop No. 1 Boy Scouts
  SKYSCRAPER..........................Troop No. 2 Boy Scouts
  MIKADO II...........................Troop No. 3 Boy Scouts
  SAMMY BOY..............................St. Andrew's League
  AMERICAN EAGLE...................Sunday School Association
  MANY EYES........................Winnebago Camp Fire Girls

"How graciously they put us at the end of the list," remarked Sahwah.

The Captain and Slim were there waiting for them and looked at Many Eyes
critically, but they forebore to laugh at her. Sahwah felt as though she
would explode if _they_ made fun of her. But they made no disparaging
remarks, although they both felt dubious about the flying qualities of a
kite in the shape of a Primitive Woman. However, they were game and
promised to shout for her with all their might.

The Scout who had taken Sahwah's entry that day under the tree came
strolling over, curious to see what kind of a kite she had produced.

"Ho, ho!" he scoffed. "What kind of a kite do you call that? That's
nothing but a paper doll. That's just the kind of a kite you'd expect a
girl to make. Now when you're making a kite, you want to make a _kite_,
not a paper doll! And what did you go and paint that one eye on there
for and nothing else, and then enter her as _Many Eyes_?"

Sahwah forbore to reply, and walked away, shielding her poor darling
with her body against the curious stares and comments of the other
contestants. Mr. Wing was sympathetic when he heard of the tragic fate
of the original Many Eyes and did not laugh at her hopscotch successor,
but the artist, who was with him, laughed uncontrollably, which hurt
Sahwah's feelings and increased the slight antagonism she already had
toward him. So she walked away from him, too, and took her place with
the contestants, who were forming in a line in the field. All around her
she heard amused comments passed upon the shape of No. 6 entry;
everybody called it the "paper doll." In height and breadth it
conformed to the prescribed measurements laid down by the rules of the
contest, but it did look so odd for a kite to have a head and arms and
legs! All the other entries were the regulation kite shape. Victory Bird
and American Eagle had pictures of eagles with outstretched wings pasted
upon them. The whistle blew and the kites were launched in air and
immediately the sky was split with the shouts of the various rooters.

"VICTORY BIRD! VICTORY BIRD! VICTORY BIRD!"

"SAMMY BOY! SAMMY BOY! SAMMY BOY!"

"SKYSCRAPER! SKYSCRAPER! SKYSCRAPER!"

In the midst of the din came the feebler, but stanch cheer of the
Winnebagos. Nyoda noticed that Agony did not cheer for Many Eyes; she
had slipped away from the Winnebagos and stood by herself a few paces
off, trying to look like a disinterested spectator.

"She won't cheer for Many Eyes because she's ashamed of her and doesn't
want people to know she's her entry!" was the painful thought that came
into Nyoda's mind.

The rest of the Winnebagos stood gamely together and shrieked for their
entry at the tops of their voices. Slim and the Captain stood by them
loyally and made as much racket as they could.

The ripple of amusement that had caused Agony so much chagrin when the
"paper doll" began her flight soon changed to astonished applause, for
Many Eyes won in a walk! Straight up she soared, "just like an angel,"
as Sahwah described it afterwards, tugging so hard on her leash that the
stick upon which the string was wound spun around in Sahwah's hand like
a bobbin and it was all she could do to hold on to it. Once she got
started she left all the others far behind. As Slim said, she "made them
look like a row of stationary wash tubs."

Sammy Boy and the Skyscraper got their tails twisted and came to earth
in a tangled mass; American Eagle was top heavy and flopped around in
circles and never rose higher than fifty feet, Mikado went up steadily
but slowly, straining at its weighted tail; and Victory Bird, whom
everybody expected to win, came a close second, and that was all. Many
Eyes got to the end of her string first and danced triumphantly about in
the air, several yards above Victory Bird. With everything dead set
against her, broken looking glass, salt weights, only one eye, and not a
single good luck symbol on her anywhere she had come out first in spite
of it all!

Then the Winnebagos nearly split their throats cheering, and Agony, who
had slipped back to them, cheered louder than all the rest, advertising
to all within earshot that she was a Winnebago and belonged to the
winning entry.

"And to think," marveled Hinpoha, "that with all her lucky symbols, the
other Many Eyes came to grief, and this one won without a single thing
to help her! I'll never have faith in good and bad luck signs again!"

The Scout who had scoffed at Many Eyes before the contest came around
afterward and looked her over thoughtfully, and discussed her
construction in a decidedly respectful tone with Sahwah.

"Now, can a girl design a kite?" asked Sahwah triumphantly.

"I guess she can," admitted the Scout as graciously as he could under
the circumstances. He was the one who had designed Victory Bird and it
was hard for him to admit that he had been beaten by a girl.

"But then, you're a Camp Fire Girl," he added, as if it were not so much
of a defeat to be beaten by a Camp Fire Girl as by an ordinary girl.

"But what did you put the one eye on her for?" he finished curiously.

"So she could see where she was going," replied Sahwah gravely.

"But why didn't you put _two_ eyes in her?" persisted the Scout.

"Because she only needed one to see to get ahead of _your_ kites,"
answered Sahwah, and felt that her triumph was complete.

After the contest was over the Winnebagos went out rowing on the river
with Mr. Wing and the artist and Slim and the Captain. Oh-Pshaw wouldn't
go, nothing would ever induce her to go rowing, so Nyoda stayed out with
her while the rest went. Slim and the Captain had a private squabble as
to which one should have Hinpoha in his boat and while they were
squabbling she got into the boat with the artist, so the Captain solaced
himself with Sahwah and Agony, and Slim took Gladys and Veronica. Migwan
got into the boat with Mr. Wing, an arrangement which pleased them both,
for Migwan thought Mr. Wing the most charming man in the world, and he
was very fond of the sweet, Madonna-faced girl with the beautiful,
thoughtful eyes and the intellectual forehead.

"Who's the nervy party with the chin whiskers that's cabbaged Hinpoha?"
asked the Captain of Sahwah, scowling crossly after the leading boat,
which was already drawing away from the rest of the party.

"He's an artist, his name is Prince," replied Sahwah. "He's a great
friend of Agony's father."

"Is he a great friend of Hinpoha's, too?" demanded the Captain.

"She thinks he's the most wonderful man she ever met," replied Sahwah.

The Captain scowled again, and caught a crab, showering Sahwah and Agony
with drops from his oar. "Excuse me!" he exclaimed, disgusted with
himself. "Oh, hang it all, anyway!" This last was uttered under his
breath, but Sahwah's sharp ear heard it. "Do _you_ think he's so
wonderful?" he demanded anxiously. The Captain had a vast respect for
Sahwah's opinion in most matters.

"I don't like him at all!" Sahwah burst out vehemently. "He's always
smiling, and all I can think of is a grinning hyena!" Sahwah spoke with
unnecessary vigor, but the remembrance of how he had laughed at Many
Eyes still rankled in her bosom.

"Why, Sahwah!" exclaimed Agony in a shocked tone. "How can you say such
a thing? I think he's perfectly wonderful," she added. "So polished, and
such charming manners."

Here Sahwah created a diversion by dropping her hat overboard, and the
artist was forgotten in the exciting business of rescuing it from the
swiftly running current.

Hinpoha, beside herself with joy at the victory of Many Eyes, was
boasting to the artist what a wonderful group the Winnebagos were.

"And that's not all," she said, as she finished the tale of their
numerous achievements on land and water, "we've got a real live baroness
in our group!"

"Indeed!" said the artist, nearly dropping his oar in his surprise.
"Which one is it?"

"Veronica," replied Hinpoha, gratified at the impression this statement
had made upon her listener, and then she launched into a detailed
account of Veronica's entire history, dwelling on the part where
Veronica had played for the prince.

It was not until she was tucked into bed that night and was just
dropping off to sleep that she remembered her promise not to tell anyone
about Veronica. "But it was perfectly all right to tell _him_" she said
to herself, "he was so interested and _so_ sympathetic." And she dropped
off to sleep with never a qualm of conscience about her broken promise.



CHAPTER XII

THE COURT MARTIAL OF THE KAISER


"'Gee, ain't it fierce, we ain't got no flag to fight this here
Revolution with!'" Agony, carrying a baseball bat at "shoulder arms,"
paced slowly back and forth across the attic in the Wing home with an
exaggerated military stride. "Is _that_ loud enough, Nyoda?" she asked.

"Yes, your voice is all right," approved Nyoda, jabbing a pin into the
large felt hat which she was transferring into a tricorn, "but don't
kick your feet straight up in front of you that way. The American army
didn't goose-step, remember. Try it again. There, that's better.

"Now, Second Soldier, your little speech, and remember to salute when
you're through."

Oh-Pshaw, similarly outfitted as to firearms, added her bit to the drama
which was unfolding under Nyoda's direction.

"Now we'll do it with the scenery," announced Nyoda. "Come on, scenery,
all up! Here, Trees, you stand here," pushing Hinpoha into place at one
side of the landscape, "and More Trees, you get over on the other side.
Who is More Trees? Oh, Migwan. All right, you two stand there and sway
gently in the breeze. Where are the Guns? Oh, here you are, Sahwah. And
the rest of the Guns, that's you, Veronica. Here, you Guns, stack
yourselves against Trees."

Sahwah and Veronica inclined toward each other at a precarious angle and
leaned against Trees. Trees promptly doubled up and clapped both her
hands over the pit of her stomach, and Guns, losing their balance, fell
in a heap on the floor.

"What's the matter?" demanded Nyoda.

"Oooo-oo-oo-oh!" giggled Trees. "Sahwah tickled my ribs!"

"Try it again," directed Nyoda, assisting Guns to rise from the floor
and stacking them against an invulnerable spot on Trees.

"Now, where's the Moon?"

"Gone downstairs to get a paintbrush," replied More Trees.

"What'll Moon rise on?" asked Nyoda, knitting her brows in thought.

"Take the piano stool," suggested the First Soldier, leaning on his
weapon in a picturesque attitude.

"The very thing!" exclaimed Nyoda. "Bring up the piano stool!" she
shouted down the stairway, and a few minutes later the Moon came into
view, carrying her rising power in one hand, a bottle of India ink in
the other, a number of sheets of cardboard under her arm and a
paintbrush held crosswise in her mouth.

"Gracious, if you'd ever slipped coming up the stairs!" exclaimed the
Second Soldier, springing forward to take the bottle of ink out of the
hand of the Moon.

"Now Moon, you rise behind More Trees," ordered Nyoda, setting the piano
stool behind Migwan.

"How does a moon rise, anyway?" asked Gladys in perplexity.

"Oh, begin by crouching on the piano stool, and then straighten up
gradually to a standing position over Migwan's shoulder," answered
Nyoda. "Now then! 'Curtain rises. Scene shows camp of the American army
at the time of the Revolution. Trees on left, more trees on right, guns
stacked against trees. Moon rises,' All right, Moon, rise!"

Gladys rose shakily to a standing position, her hand on the shoulder of
More Trees.

"Now beam over the trees, Moon."

Moon did her best to beam and grinned from ear to ear; Guns howled with
laughter; the piano stool began to turn; Moon clutched wildly at More
Trees and went down with a crash on the floor.

"Eclipse of the Moon," laughed Nyoda, rushing to the aid of the fallen
one.

"Let somebody else be the Moon," declared Gladys, when she had been
restored to the perpendicular, viewing the shaky stool with disfavor.
"Let Sahwah be it, she's more of an acrobat."

"You _have_ to be the Moon because you've got light hair," replied Nyoda
in a tone of finality. "You'll just have to _manage_ so the stool
doesn't turn, that's all. Try it again."

Moon rose over the trees and accomplished the difficult feat of holding
the stool still and beaming at the same time with a fair degree of
success, and the rehearsal began.

"Oh-Pshaw, you're forgetting to salute!" called Nyoda when Second
Soldier had finished his speech. "There, that's all right, now don't
forget to do it the next time. Now you get behind the Moon and hold her
up through the next scene. She's wobbling again. What comes next? Oh,
yes, here's where I come in."

Throwing down her prompting book and setting the partially cocked hat
upon her head, Nyoda made a flourishing entrance upon the stage as the
Father of her Country, and the second touching scene of the drama was
enacted, in which George is informed by the sentry that "we ain't got no
flag to fight this here Revolution with," and soothingly promises to
"see Betsy." Just as George was delivering his reassuring promise Trees
felt a fly walking across her nose and sneezed a tremendous sneeze,
sending Guns sprawling upon the floor.

"Gracious, Hinpoha, can't you hold still a _minute_?" sighed Nyoda,
pushing the hat up from her left eye where it had hung ever since she
had knocked it crooked returning the sentry's salute. "And who's going
to work our 'Quick Curtain' there?"

"Oh, either Slim or the Captain can draw the curtain for us," said
Hinpoha.

"But we want it all to be a surprise for them," Sahwah reminded her.
"They're not supposed to know anything about it."

"Well, grandmother can draw the curtain, then," said Agony.

"But she's supposed to be in the audience, too," objected Oh-Pshaw.

"Why, _you_ can draw the curtain, you're not doing anything at the end
of this scene!" exclaimed Nyoda triumphantly to Oh-Pshaw. "Second
Soldier goes out after his one speech and doesn't come on again."

"I'm a rocking chair in the last scene, though," Oh-Pshaw reminded her.

Nyoda thought deeply for a moment. "We'll have to do without that one
rocking chair in the last act. You'll have to draw the curtain. No show
is complete without a quick curtain at the end. How can we have curtain
calls without a curtain? Anyway, we don't need three rocking chairs, two
are plenty."

So Oh-Pshaw good-naturedly shifted her role from rocking chair to
curtain puller.

"Next scene, home of Betsy Ross," proclaimed Nyoda. "Trees, you'll have
to turn into a chair in this scene, and More Trees, you turn into
another chair. Guns, you will become a spinet and a spinning wheel
respectively, and Moon, you'll turn into a table. First Soldier, you'll
become Betsy Ross. Now then! All the stage settings get in place for the
last scene!"

The two chairs solemnly began to rock back and forth on their heels,
causing the Spinning Wheel to go off into fits of uncontrollable
laughter, and Betsy Ross, hearing George's knock, rose to answer it,
but, catching sight of the two rocking chairs, promptly doubled up on
the floor instead of letting George in.

"I can't do anything if they're going to rock," gasped Betsy.

"You'll _have_ to get used to it," said Nyoda emphatically. "We want
those rocking chairs, they're the funniest part of the show. Don't look
at them if you can't keep a straight face. Now start again. Where's your
baby? Here, take this towel for a baby until you can find a doll.

"Now, remember, when I come in you say 'Hello, George,' in a very
familiar tone, and when I say, 'Gee, ain't it fierce, we ain't go no
flag to fight this here Revolution with,' you say, 'I know, ain't it
fierce! Here, you hold the baby and I'll make one.' Then you give me
the baby and I walk up and down while you sew, and the baby screams all
the while--Oh-Pshaw, you'll have to make the noise for the baby behind
the scenes. Now, all ready!"

George came in, with a yardstick tied around his waist for a sword, and
made a deep bow which made the spinet giggle violently. "'Gee, ain't it
fierce--' Stop laughing, Sahwah, remember you're the scenery!"

Sahwah lasted until the towel baby was laid in the arms of the
Commander-in-Chief, and Oh-Pshaw, trying to imitate the noise of a
crying baby behind the scenes, emitted a series of yelps which were
harrowingly suggestive of a large yellow dog going through the meat
chopper. It was too much for the rest of the scenery; the rocking chair
howled, the spinning wheel choked, the table wept into her handkerchief,
and even George's composure forsook him and he and Betsy fell up against
each other and shouted.

"Good gracious, Oh-Pshaw, a baby doesn't cry like that! It makes a
wailing noise in a high key. Try it again, now."

Oh-Pshaw amended her vocal efforts so that the results were not fatal,
and the historical First Edition of the Stars and Stripes proceeded
without further mishap.

"Where's the flag I'm to hold up when it's done?" demanded Betsy.

"Who brought the flag along?" asked Nyoda.

The spinet suddenly clapped a hand to her brow. "I left it on the porch
at Carver House!" she exclaimed. "I was going to bring it along with the
rest of the things, and then I forgot it. Shall I go and get it?"

"Never mind," said Nyoda, "we'll get along without it now and bring it
along when we come over to-night. Come on, now, go through the whole
thing once more, and then we're finished. Oh-Pshaw, while you're not on
the stage, you make the signs for the scenery, TREES, MORE TREES,
GUNS--make two signs for Guns--MOON, etc., and on the other side paint
CHAIR, TABLE, SPINNING WHEEL, SPINET, etc., so all the scenery will have
to do is turn the signs around on themselves when they change from the
first to the second scenes."

All the above commotion was in preparation for the party which Agony and
Oh-Pshaw were giving that night in honor of Slim's birthday. The
birthday was already past, it is true, but it was still recent enough to
make it a legitimate excuse for a party. The Winnebagos, as usual, could
not have a party without some select private theatricals in honor of the
occasion.

The rehearsal over, Nyoda and the Winnebagos wended their way back to
Carver House to get ready for the evening.

"Kaiser Bill's out!" exclaimed Sahwah, as they approached the house. "I
just saw him jump the hedge and run around the side of the house with
something red in his mouth."

"The cover of the porch table!" exclaimed Nyoda. "Run, head him off,
quick!"

They sped into the yard and round the side of the house as the sportive
Kaiser doubled in his tracks and missed them by an inch.

"Oh, he's got the flag!" shrieked Sahwah. "I left it on the porch! Get
it! Get it! He's got it half eaten!" They gave strenuous chase, but the
wily Capricorn, mischief sparkling in his wicked eyes, eluded them again
and again, and each time they passed him there was less of the flag
hanging out of his mouth. Not until the last shred was gulped down did
he suffer himself to be cowed by the persistent umbrella in Nyoda's
hand, and then he came to a stand in a triumphant attitude, and on his
face was the satisfied expression of an epicure who has just discovered
a rare new dainty to tickle his palate.

The Winnebagos looked at each other and were speechless with horror.
Kaiser Bill had eaten up the American flag!

Nyoda recovered herself first, and the Winnebagos saw her in one of her
rare moods of anger.

"This is the last straw!" she exclaimed indignantly. "He's chewed up two
sofa pillows and a twelve-dollar hammock and no end of books; he
destroyed Sahwah's kite last week; he's broken the windows in the
greenhouse three or four times; he's ruined large numbers of valuable
plants; and still I bore with him patiently for old Hercules' sake. But
I won't stand it any longer. I'm tired of being kept in hot water by
that fiendish old goat. He's the terror of the neighbors, and I live in
hourly expectation of damage suits that will ruin me. Now I've reached
the limit of endurance. Either that goat leaves Carver House or I do,
and as Carver House belongs to me and Kaiser Bill doesn't, I reckon
he'll be the one to go."

"What are you going to do with him?" asked Sahwah.

"Oh, give him away, or sell him--anything," replied Nyoda.

"Hercules, come here!" she called, as she spied a kinky white head
bobbing around in the barnyard.

Hercules approached with a painfully stew, shuffling gait. "What is it,
Mis' Elizabeth?" he inquired mildly, eyeing his mistress with affection
in his look.

"Hercules," said Nyoda crisply, "we're going to get rid of that goat."

"What's 'at ol' goat bin a-doin', honey?" quavered Hercules anxiously.

"He's eaten up the American flag!" replied Nyoda in an outraged tone.
"This is positively the last straw. I put up with several hundred
dollars' worth of damage about the place, but this is too much. Do you
realize what he's done? _He's eaten up the American flag_!"

"Why-e-e-e-e-e!" exclaimed Hercules, and then, "Lord a-massy! Kaiser
Bill," he remarked reproachfully, "ain't I done fetched you up no
better'n _'at?"_

"Do you know of anyone who would take him?" asked Nyoda.

The old man considered, with his head in his hands. "Oh, Mis' Elizabeth,
you-all ain't goin' ter give dat goat away?" he broke out pleadingly.
"'At goat's lived here all his life, deed he has, Mis' Elizabeth, an' he
wouldn' feel to home nowheres else!"

But for once Nyoda stood her ground and refused to be cajoled.

"Mis' Elizabeth," said old Hercules solemnly, when all pleading had been
in vain, "you-all ain' goin' ter give 'at goat away, because you-all
_can't_ give him away! Ain't anybody _livin_' 'at can give dat goat
away! He'd come back just as fast as you'd give him away! 'At ol'
Kaiser's a mighty foxy goat. Ain't no door bin _invented_ 'at _he_ can't
break down!"

The old man's voice quavered triumphantly, and he winked at the goat
solemnly. Nyoda had a mental vision of Kaiser Bill putting on a Return
from Elba act every day in the future, and her resolution took a sudden
hardy turn.

"You're right," she said. "It wouldn't do any good to give him away.
He'd come back. The only way to get rid of him is to kill him. Then
we'll be sure he can't come back."

Hercules looked at her unbelievingly, and shook his head.

"I mean it," repeated Nyoda. "I'm going to get rid of that goat."

She stood still, waiting for the torrent of dissuading argument that
would presently come from Hercules' lips, intending to cut it short, but
the flow never came. Just when Hercules had his mouth open to begin
there came a sudden earthquake shock from behind, and he found himself
sitting in a flower bed a dozen feet away, rubbing his bruised knees and
struggling to regain his breath. His first impression was that he had
been run over by a locomotive.

When he could finally be persuaded that Kaiser Bill, base and ungrateful
animal, had rewarded his championship of him by deliberately assaulting
him with the full force of his concrete forehead, his heart was broken,
and he mutely bowed to the decision of the judge.

"'T's all one ter me now," he said sadly. "Kaiser Bill done turn agin'
ol' Hercules; ol' Hercules' heart broke now. Don' care whether you kill
him er not. 'T's all one ter me."

"We'll have a Court Martial," announced Sahwah.

The Court Martial duly sat, and in a most formal manner Kaiser Bill was
tried and convicted of conduct unbecoming an officer and a gentleman,
and of traitorously destroying the American flag, and was sentenced to
be shot at sunrise the next morning.

"Who's going to shoot him?" asked Hinpoha.

"Oh, we'll get Slim and the Captain to do it," replied Sahwah.

With the death sentence hanging over his head, the Kaiser was led away
to await his execution.



CHAPTER XIII

THE PARTY


Dinner hour was over in Oakwood and the evening life of the stately old
town was beginning to stir when Mr. Wing stepped off the train and
walked briskly through the softly falling twilight toward his home. Not
far from the station he met the artist, Eugene Prince, strolling about
admiring the landscape, and hailed him cordially. "I've just come home
on a flying trip over night," he explained. "Have to go to Washington in
the morning. I wonder if the folks are at home; I should have telephoned
them I was coming, I suppose." Mr. Wing seemed very much elated about
something.

"How's the big case coming?" asked the artist. He had always been such a
ready listener while Mr. Wing expressed his various theories About the
matter and showed such a lively interest that Mr. Wing had gotten into
the habit of talking about it to him by the hour and listening to him
express _his_ theories.

Now when the artist mentioned the big case Mr. Wing could not conceal
his triumph, for _his_ theory had been right after all, and the artist's
had been wrong. "It's exactly what I expected," he said jubilantly, and
spoke in a low, confidential tone for some minutes.

The artist whistled in blank surprise.

The two men passed up the street, talking in low tones. "Come up to the
house with me," said Mr. Wing presently, "and I'll show you--Hello,
what's this?"

A creaking rumble behind them made them start and turn around, and a
singular sight greeted their eyes. Down the street puffed an immensely
fat negro woman clad in a calico wrapper and a bright red turban,
pushing a wheelbarrow in which sat a negro baby somewhat larger than its
mammy. In the wheelbarrow beside the baby stood a feeding bottle of
gigantic proportions, being in very truth a three-gallon flask designed
to hold a solution to spray trees with; six feet of garden hose
constituted the tube, and a black rubber diving cap at the upper end of
it completed the feeding apparatus.

"_Pour l'amour de Mique!_" laughed Mr. Wing, as the unique outfit
rumbled by. "What on earth do you suppose _that_ is?" They followed the
progress of the billowing mother and her husky infant with amused eyes,
and at the corner of the street she attempted to turn the barrow, ran
into a stone, upset the barrow and spilled the infant on the ground.
The infant immediately sprang up, clutching the Gargantuan feeding
bottle, and berated his mother in emphatic terms, delivered in a deep
bass voice, addressing her as "Captain." "Look out, you'll break the
bottle, dumping the wheelbarrow over like that," he remarked warningly.
The old mammy stooped over to readjust him in the barrow and as she did
so several feet of masculine garments became visible under her short
skirt.

"Minstrel show in town," remarked Mr. Wing with another laugh of
amusement. His amusement turned to surprise when the picturesque pair
preceded him up the street and turned in at his own yard. The house was
lighted from one end to the other; groups of young people were visible
everywhere, on the porches, on the lawn, in the doorways.

"Seems to be a party going on here," remarked Mr. Wing.

"Father!" exclaimed a voice from the crowd, and Agony darted forward to
embrace him. "Why didn't you tell us you were coming? You're just in
time for the party."

Mr. Wing greeted the guests affably and after a short interval escaped
with the artist to his study on the second floor, where they spent an
hour in close consultation behind a locked door.

"Now let's go down and look in on the party," said Mr. Wing, locking a
package of letters carefully into a small drawer in his desk. Before
going down he went to his own room and changed to a suit of white
flannels in honor of the occasion.

As he was finally making for the stairway he met Veronica Lehar in the
upstairs hall. "May I use the telephone in the study?" she asked.

"Certainly," he replied, and went in and turned the light on for her and
then went on downstairs.

Shouts of laughter filled the air; the negro mammy and the gigantic
infant, together with the wheelbarrow and the feeding bottle, were
holding the stage at the end of the spacious sitting room. Slim was
being given his birthday presents and was surrounded with nonsensical
articles of every kind--toys, rattles, all-day suckers, and so forth,
and was convulsing the crowd with his antics.

The merriment went on until somebody called for Veronica to play on her
violin and she came downstairs with her violin in her hands. Then a hush
fell on the crowd, and the merrymakers listened, spellbound and
dreamy-eyed, to the strains which the passionate-eyed little Hungarian
girl drew from the fiddle resting so caressingly in the hollow of her
shoulder.

It was a plaintive, melancholy melody she played first, throbbing with
unsatisfied longing and quivering with pain and heartbreak. Sahwah
shivered and thought of ice cold rain drops falling on long dead leaves,
and the restless unhappiness seized upon her again. The melody wandered
on, and in its weird minor thirds there seemed to be all the anguish of
an oppressed people, hopeless of release from bondage; condemned to toil
in darkness forever.

Then a new note crept into the music, a note of protest, of rebellion.
Fury took the place of hopelessness; dumb resignation gave way to angry
stirrings. Fiercely the storm raged for a moment, and then subsided into
feeble murmurs, and flickered out into hopelessness again, blacker and
deeper than before. Then came flight, sudden and headlong, hurried and
confused; and days of wandering by land and sea, hours of loneliness and
homesickness, of mingled hope and fear, of faith and perplexity, ending
in a magnificent hymn of thanksgiving and praise for deliverance. It
made Sahwah think of the persecuted Jews in Russia, fleeing from a
massacre and coming to America for refuge.

But now the music had taken a gayer, brighter turn. Everywhere there was
the hum of industry, a contented sound like the buzzing of bees intent
upon gathering honey. Songs of happiness rose on every side, mingled
with the sound of joyful feet passing in a gay dance. The music took on
an irresistible lilt; the feet of the listeners itched to join in the
measure and tapped out the time involuntarily.

Suddenly the dance turned into marching, the earth resounded with the
tramp, tramp of advancing feet, the music became a martial strain; it
stirred the blood to fever heat and set the pulses leaping madly. Louder
and more triumphant swelled the strain, louder came the tramp of the
victorious armies following in the wake of trumpets, until the whole
earth seemed to mingle its voice in one great shout of victory.

Without knowing it the listeners were on their feet, clutching each
other with tense fingers, their eyes blurred with tears, their throats
aching with emotion, their hearts burning to perform deeds of valor for
their country, to fight to the last ditch, to die as heroes for their
native land.

They hardly realized when Veronica had stopped playing and slipped
quietly out of the room.

"God, what playing!" breathed Mr. Wing to the artist. "Music like that
would turn cowards into heroes and heroes into demi-gods; would inspire
a wooden dummy to fight to the last ditch for freedom and native land.
Daggers and Dirks! What a red-hot little American she is! Why, if a
_dead_ man heard her play the 'Star Spangled Banner' the way she just
played it, he'd rise up to protect his country. Yes, and his very
_monument_ would shoulder a gun and get into the ranks against the foe!"

Refreshments were brought in and the babel of tongues broke loose again.
Everyone asked for Veronica, wanted to sit beside her and tell her what
a wonderful genius she was, but she was nowhere to be found.
Grandmother Wing came in presently and said that Veronica had slipped
out and gone home because she had a sick headache and wanted to be
alone.

"She has those headaches so often," said Migwan in a tone of concern. "I
wonder if I hadn't better go home after her."

"She said she wanted to be alone," said Nyoda thoughtfully. "She always
does, you know, when she has a headache. I don't believe I'd go after
her. She'll go right to bed and be all right in the morning."

With many expressions of regret at Veronica's indisposition the boys and
girls resumed their frolic.

Slim and the Captain, still in their roles of mammy and pickaninny,
walked home with the Winnebagos when the party finally broke up, the
pickaninny trundling his own one-wheeled chariot, which was so full of
presents there was no room for him.

Nyoda broke the news to them of their appointment as executioners of
Kaiser Bill and they accepted the commission gravely. "'Horatius,' quoth
the consul, 'as thou sayst, so let it be,'" quoted Slim with a dramatic
flourish. "We'll execute your orders and the goat at the same time. But
does it take two to speed the fatal ball? Why am I honored thus when
here beside me stands the world's champion crack shot, even the great
Cicero St. John?"

The Captain suddenly flushed and glared at Slim, but said nothing.

"'Herminius beat his bosom, but never a word he spake,'" quoted Slim,
grinning. "You see," he continued, turning to the girls, "the Captain
and I were practising shooting at a target once, out in the country, and
the Captain came so near the bull's eye that he shot the perch out from
under a parrot in a cage fifty feet away. O Mother dear, Jerusalem! You
never saw such a surprised bird in all your life!" Slim was overcome by
the remembrance, and the Captain grinned feebly at the laughter which
the tale invoked.

"Don't you worry, I guess I can shoot a goat all right," said the
Captain with some asperity.

"Uttered like a man, Captain," grinned Slim. "'Then out spoke brave
Horatius, the Captain of the gate--'"

His flow of nonsense was interrupted by an exclamation of surprise from
Nyoda as they reached the front gate. A messenger boy was running up the
steps of Carver House just ahead of them.



CHAPTER XIV

NEWS FROM THE FRONT


"Does Mrs. Andrew Sheridan live here?" asked the boy, looking from one
to the other.

"Here," replied Nyoda, holding out her hand for the envelope.

"Who can be telegraphing at this time of night?" asked Hinpoha, shot
through with a sudden fear that something had happened to her aunt and
they were telegraphing to Nyoda about it.

Nyoda stepped into the hall, switched on the light and tore open the
envelope. Then she gasped suddenly and sat down on the stair steps with
a frightened "Oh-h-h!"

"What is it, Nyoda?" asked the girls, crowding around her in alarm.

She held out the telegram and Gladys took it from her hands and held it
up where all could see:

  MRS. ANDREW SHERIDAN,

  Oakwood, Pa.

  Your husband on board _Antares_ when she sank in collision off Nova
  Scotia August first. Now in Good Samaritan Hospital, St. Margaret's,
  Nova Scotia, probably fatally injured.
  Come.

The signature was that of some official of the government.

"Oh-h-h!" cried the Winnebagos in horror, staring, fascinated, at the
fatal sheet of paper in their hands. Migwan ran to Nyoda and put her
arms around her in silent sympathy; the rest stood still, with shocked,
frightened faces.

After a moment of stunned surprise Nyoda rallied herself. "Come," she
said, in her usual calm, brisk tones, "I have to make haste. I must go
on that early morning train. It goes through here about four. Help me
pack, girls."

Recalled to themselves by the quietness of Nyoda's manner the Winnebagos
set about helping in their usual efficient way. Hinpoha and Gladys sped
to the kitchen to make coffee and sandwiches; Sahwah sped downstairs
into the laundry to bring up the freshly ironed clothes; Slim and the
Captain went up into the attic to bring down the suitcase and make
themselves generally useful; Migwan went to Nyoda's room with her to
help her make ready for the journey.

Sahwah was coming up the cellar stairs with a basket of clothes in her
hand. Just as she passed the side entry door she heard someone fumbling
with the knob on the outside. The knob turned and the door began to open
softly. "Who's there?" called Sahwah sharply, switching on the light in
the entry and throwing wide the door. There stood Veronica, with her
violin under her arm and her hat and coat on. She started back when she
saw Sahwah and the two stood looking into each other's eyes. "She hasn't
been home, she's still got her violin," was the thought that went
through Sahwah's mind.

"I thought you went home with a sick headache from the party," she said
in astonishment.

"So did the rest of them," replied Veronica imperturbably.

Their eyes met and held for a second, and it seemed to Sahwah that
Veronica looked haggard and haunted.

"Is everybody home?" asked Veronica presently.

"Yes," replied Sahwah, "and, O Veronica--" and she told her the news.

"Oh, poor, poor Nyoda!" cried Veronica, and throwing off her hat and
coat she thrust them with her violin into the closet under the stairs
and then sped upstairs.

"She didn't have a headache at all, she didn't go home, she went
somewhere else," throbbed Sahwah's weary brain. "And whatever she's
done, she's scared to death about it," it throbbed on. "Why did she come
stealing in the back door that way?"

Worried and perplexed, but still loyal to her promise to say nothing to
the others about Veronica, Sahwah went on sorting and carrying up the
ironed clothes.

Upstairs Migwan was helping Nyoda get dressed for her journey. Nyoda
was still in her George Washington suit, which she had concealed under a
long cloak on the way home, and Migwan's hands trembled so with
excitement she could hardly take out the endless pins that they had put
in with so much fun and laughter a few hours before.

"How did Sherry, happen to be on the ocean?" Nyoda asked wonderingly.
"He was in France the last time I heard from him. Why would he be coming
to America now?"

Migwan could not answer the question, she could only press her beloved
Guardian's hand tight in hers by way of sympathy and then fly back at
the pins, which all seemed to be allied against them, for they buried
their heads out of sight and thrust their points where Migwan's shaking
fingers caught and tore themselves upon them. The suit was off at last
and Migwan tucked Nyoda into bed for an hour of rest while she pressed
her dark blue silk traveling dress and sewed fresh collars and cuffs
into her jacket.

In the next room Veronica was swiftly packing the suitcase. The whole
house was filled with confusion and haste. The old portraits on the
walls looked down in astonishment at this unwonted turning of night into
day, at the lights burning all over the house, from attic to basement,
and at the girls running up and downstairs, bumping into each other in
their haste and getting more flurried all the time. A smell of coffee
pervaded the whole place, and this was soon superseded by the odor of
burning toast. In the midst of the confusion the telephone rang and
everybody thought someone else was answering it, with the result that
nobody answered it and it rang a second time, long and insistently.
Sahwah rushed up from the basement; Veronica sped swiftly down from
upstairs, followed in a moment by Migwan; Hinpoha hastily snatched the
coffee pot off the fire and ran in from the kitchen; Gladys hastened
from the pantry; the two boys jumped in from the porch, and at the same
moment Nyoda called over the banister and asked if someone would answer
the telephone.

Sahwah got there first and snatched down the receiver with a trembling
hand while the rest stood expectantly around, fearful of what this
midnight message might be. And then after all the call was not for the
house at all; the operator had made a wrong connection!

Hinpoha flew back to her toast; Sahwah returned to the basement, limping
as she went, having struck her shin against the steps in the hurried
trip up. Migwan had pricked her finger when the bell rang, it had
startled her so, and a great drop of blood fell on the clean collar, so
that she had to rip it out and find another one and sew that in. Then
she discovered a button missing and hunted endlessly to find another one
to match.

Everything was fixed at last and Migwan ran downstairs to see what was
to be done there. Everything was being taken care of, and so, turning
off the lights which were blazing unnecessarily in the long parlor, she
sank down in a chair to rest a moment. Already the party seemed days in
the past--could it be that this was still the same night? A shade
flapped in the window, irritating her strained nerves, and she rose
hastily and pulled it up. Her hand came in contact with something soft
and silky. It was the service flag in the window--the flag that stood
for Sherry. Reverently she straightened it out and stood stroking it
with shaking fingers. The dark blue star stood out dimly in the light
that shone through the window from the outside and the thought came into
her mind that soon it might be replaced by a gold star. Tears came into
her eyes; she forced them resolutely back and hastened upstairs to tell
Nyoda that her hour was up and she must get up and begin to dress. Nyoda
was already up and dressed when she went into the room; she was standing
in front of the mirror combing her hair. Migwan hastened forward to
assist her, reproaching herself that she hadn't come up sooner.

The blue dress was soon on and adjusted and Migwan pinned the collar
while Veronica adjusted the cuffs.

Nyoda was checking off on her fingers the things she must take.
"Handkerchiefs--did you get them in?" Veronica nodded.

"Towels, soap case, hairpins, buttonhook?"

"Everything," replied Veronica.

"Slippers, bathrobe--"

"I forgot the slippers!" exclaimed Veronica, and sped after them.

The hall clock chimed half past three and Nyoda started nervously.

"Plenty of time," said Migwan soothingly. "Come downstairs now and drink
your coffee and eat something."

Nyoda went downstairs and drank several cups of coffee and forced
herself to eat some of the scorched toast, although she was not in the
least hungry.

"You'll stay here in the house until I come back, won't you, girls?" she
said between sips of coffee. "Ill leave you in full charge. You'll be
careful, won't you?"

"Yes, Nyoda," they all promised. "We'll be good and see that nothing
happens. Don't worry."

"I'll send you my address as soon as I get there, so you can write me.
Remember about lighting the gas stove in the kitchen, Hinpoha, it puffs.
The bed linen is in the closet off the front room upstairs."

"Yes, Nyoda, we'll find everything, don't worry."

The long peal of an auto horn sounded outside.

"There's the car," said Sahwah. "The boys got it out of the garage and
around the front of the house."

"What time is it?"

"A quarter to four. We'd better start, you have to buy your ticket
first. Here, let me take the suitcase."

"Where are my gloves?"

"Here they are," said Migwan, handing them to her.

They passed quickly down the front walk and into the waiting automobile.
A swift ride through the quiet streets in the first pale glimmerings of
the dawn, and they were in the little station, the only ones waiting for
the train.

The Captain strode over to the blackboard while Nyoda went to buy her
ticket. "Train's on time," he announced, coming back to the group.

In another minute they heard the whistle in the distance, and then the
long train roared in and came to a panting halt. The Captain seized
Nyoda's suitcase and jumped aboard with it. Nyoda followed and stood
still on the train steps to say good-bye to the Winnebagos crowding
around.

"Be good, girlies," she said, smiling bravely at them.

"Oh, Nyoda, _dear_ Nyoda! We'll think of you every minute. We'll pray
for you and Sherry."

The conductor stood on the platform, watch in hand.

"If you need anything, Nyoda, telegraph and we'll send it"

The conductor dropped his right hand in signal to the engineer, and
swung aboard, the wheels began to turn, the Captain leaped down from the
other end of the car.

"Good-bye, Nyoda!"

A waving of handkerchiefs on the platform, an answering wave from the
car window, and Nyoda was gone. No. 46 had puffed in on time, made its
usual five-minute stop, and puffed out on time. But what a difference
its coming and departure had made to the Winnebagos! It was all over in
such quick time that they hardly had time to draw breath.

They stood on the platform and watched the train out of sight and then
turned and climbed up the steps to the street, silent for the most part,
with only an occasional exclamation of "What _will_ Nyoda do if Sherry
dies?"

Then another swift drive through the silent streets, scarcely any
lighter than they had been before, and they were back at Carver House,
which suddenly seemed empty and dreary with Nyoda gone.

They sat down to the table and ate up the rest of the toast and drank
the rest of the coffee; then the boys started back to their tent in the
woods, and the Winnebagos, beginning to feel weak and shaky now that the
excitement of getting Nyoda ready had passed, went slowly and sadly up
the stairs and crept into bed.

Thoroughly worn out with the strenuous evening and the still more
strenuous night that followed it, they finally fell asleep, while the
sun rose unwelcomed over Carver Hill and the stair clock chimed half
past six in vain.



CHAPTER XV

IT NEVER RAINS--


Sahwah wakened with the sound of a bell ringing in her ears. The house
was still asleep; the sun was pouring in brightly through the south
window of the room. Sahwah wondered idly why the sun was shining in at
that window; it always shone in the other window when she wakened in the
morning. Then she remembered. It all seemed like a dream; the telegram,
the hurried preparations for departure, the swift journey to the station
with Nyoda and the return to Carver House without her. Sahwah was still
piecing together the events of the night before when the shrill ring
sounded through the house again. It was the front doorbell. Sahwah
jumped up and threw on her bathrobe and, yawning widely, ran downstairs.

It was Agony; Agony with a face as pale as a ghost. "What's the matter?"
asked Sahwah in consternation, forgetting her own great news at the
sight of Agony's expression.

"It's Veronica," Agony burst out breathlessly.

"What's the matter with Veronica?" asked Sahwah in alarm.

"She's been arrested!"

Sahwah's heart thumped queerly and then seemed to stand still at this
climax of her forebodings. "What for?" she asked faintly.

Agony came in and sat down on the hall seat "There's so much to tell, I
think I'll begin at the beginning," she said, and Sahwah stood still
with her eyes fastened on Agony's face apprehensively.

"You remember when you were all over at our house for dinner one night,
and papa was home, he told us something about the big case he was
working on, the Atterbury case, and he said he suspected that German
agents were mixed up in it? Well, yesterday he got hold of some letters
that proved it. There was one from a German Prince, Prince Karl Augustus
of Hohenburg, to some man in this country, written before the war,
promising to pay money to have strikes started and machinery damaged if
this country went into the war. This very Atterbury was mentioned in the
letter, and it made papa's case complete against him. The letter had
gotten into the wrong hands and somebody turned it over to papa. It was
so important that papa had to take it to Washington. That's why he came
home unexpectedly last night; he planned to go this morning. He brought
the letter home with him and locked it in his desk upstairs. This
morning a Secret Service agent came out from Philadelphia to go along
with papa and papa went to get the letter and it was gone."

"But what has Veronica----"

Agony drew another long breath and hastened on. "Why, papa says that
Veronica asked to use the telephone in the study last night, and she was
in there a long time alone, and soon afterward she disappeared from the
party. The letter was in his desk when she went in there; nobody else
went in after her. It looks as though she took it, and the Secret
Service man arrested her."

"But I thought Veronica was upstairs in bed!" gasped Sahwah.

"She came over to our house about nine o'clock this morning," said
Agony, "and told us about Nyoda's husband being injured and her going
away in such a hurry. She was downstairs with me when papa discovered
that the letter was gone, and the agent arrested her right away."

Sahwah's head was in a whirl, and she sat down weakly on the stairs.
Then she raised her head and said with a flash of spirit, "Veronica
never took any letter out of your father's desk! I don't believe it!
Whatever would she want with such a thing as that?"

"But," continued Agony, "don't you see? This Prince Karl Augustus of
Hohenburg is a friend of hers, she played for him and his wife gave her
a ring! She's taken that letter away so it can't be used in the trial
to prove that he was connected with the business!"

"I don't believe it!" said Sahwah flatly. Her blood rose to fighting
pitch even while her heart misgave her. "Agony Wing," she raged, "do you
think for a moment that Veronica would have anything to do with enemy
agents? What if she did know that old prince. She didn't like him. Do
you think she'd steal letters for him?"

"It does seem awfully odd," said Agony, "the fuss she always made about
wanting to be an American. Papa could hardly believe it of her, either,
but the Secret Service man and Mr. Prince are perfectly sure she did
it."

"Mr. Prince!" exclaimed Sahwah in wrath. "What's _he_ got to do with
it?"

"Well, it seems that all along he's been suspicious of her; he didn't
think she was sincere when she talked about liking America better than
her own country," replied Agony. "He says he isn't surprised at all that
this happened; he's been expecting something of the kind. It was he that
told papa and the Secret Service man about her having known the prince."

"How did _he_ find it out?" demanded Sahwah.

"I don't know, I never told him," declared Agony, bristling as though
she thought Sahwah suspected she had told.

"I hate that artist!" Sahwah declared fiercely. "He's a meddlesome old
thing!"

"Well, you can't really blame him for suspecting Veronica," said Agony,
lightly, "You see, she's an alien enemy, and----"

"Agony!" cried Sahwah savagely, "do _you_ believe Veronica's a traitor?"

"I hate to think----" began Agony.

Sahwah came close to her and faced her with blazing eyes. "Do you
believe she is?"

"It's hard to believe----"

"_Do you believe she's a traitor_?"

Agony shrank back from her fury. "No, I don't," she said meekly. "Don't
be so savage, Sahwah."

Sahwah subsided.

"Where is Veronica?" she asked.

"She's still over at our house. The Secret Service man sent me over here
to bring all you girls over, he wants to talk to you."

Sahwah roused the girls from bed with her sensational piece of news and
they all hastened home with Agony. Mr. Wing took them upstairs to his
study and they went in, feeling queer and frightened. Veronica was
sitting there, her face as white as a sheet, her great eyes dilated with
fear and bewilderment. The artist lounged in the window seat, watching
Veronica closely and smiling slightly to himself, and facing Veronica
sat a small, keen-looking man with little, steely gray eyes that bored
like gimlets.

"These are the girls with whom Miss Lehar is staying," said Mr. Wing. He
introduced the little man as Special Agent Sanders.

Sahwah searched Mr. Wing's face pleadingly; he looked greatly puzzled,
and very, very much disturbed. Then she looked at the gimlet-eyed man in
the chair and saw his eyes rove from one to another of the girls
questioningly. He began to speak without preliminary.

"When you girls reached home after this party last night was Miss Lehar
there?"

"Yes," answered Migwan and Hinpoha and Gladys together. Sahwah was
silent.

Immediately Agent Sanders' eye was upon her. "Was she?" he asked
directly of Sahwah.

Sahwah opened her lips and closed them nervously, unable to frame an
untruth, and equally unable to tell what she knew. She looked helplessly
at Veronica. The room became very still. The others looked at her in
astonishment. Agent Sanders bored her with his little, keen eyes. Sahwah
felt herself turning red and white and her heartbeats thumped against
her eardrums. She sent Veronica another miserable look. Veronica
returned the look steadily, and then she spoke.

"Tell him you saw me coming in the back door after you got home," she
said calmly.

"Is that true?" Agent Sanders asked of Sahwah.

Sahwah nodded. A gasp of astonishment went up from the other three
Winnebagos.

"Tell all the circumstances connected with the incident," Agent Sanders
directed Sahwah.

"There weren't any circumstances connected with it," replied Sahwah
earnestly. "We had just come home and our friend had had bad news and
was going away early in the morning and we were getting her ready and I
went out in the back entry way to get something and just then Veronica
came in the back door."

"You thought she had gone home with a sick headache and was in bed?"

"Yes," replied Sahwah, "but when she came in I decided she had been out
for a walk." This sounded like a perfectly natural explanation to
Sahwah.

"Didn't it strike you strange that she should have gone walking at that
hour?"

"No, it didn't," replied Sahwah eagerly. "She often does it."

"Ah-h!" Agent Sanders merely breathed the syllable, yet it held a world
of meaning. Sahwah felt vaguely apprehensive.

"So she often goes out walking at midnight, does she?" continued the
agent. Sahwah felt that she had made a misstep somewhere, and was
harming Veronica's cause instead of helping it, but the eyes of the
agent seemed to be drawing all her knowledge from her like a magnet
picking up needles.

"I meant," said Sahwah, "that she often has those sick headaches, and
when she does she generally goes out walking to cure them."

"And these headaches generally occur at night?"

"Yes."

"In other words," said Agent Sanders as confidently as if he could see
right inside of her head and knew everything in it, "this is not the
first time Miss Lehar has gone on a mysterious errand at night--eh?"

Sahwah started, and then was furious at herself because she knew the
agent had noticed it.

He bored his eyes right through her, and remarked sarcastically, "You
knew this girl to be an alien, an enemy of your country; you knew she
was going off on mysterious errands, and yet you didn't think there was
anything strange about it!"

Then to Sahwah's relief Agent Sanders fell to making rapid notes in a
memorandum book, and ceased addressing her. He turned abruptly to
Veronica.

"Where did you go when you left this house last night?" he asked
pointblank.

"Down the street to Carver House, through the yard, down the hill behind
it, along the road to the edge of town and back," replied Veronica
readily.

The agent looked thoughtful for a moment. The straightforwardness of
her reply seemed to perplex him a little.

Then he asked, "Whom did you meet down there at the edge of town?"

Veronica did not answer.

"Whom did you meet?" he repeated triumphantly.

Veronica opened her lips as if to speak and then closed them again and
remained silent. The room was so still that the heavy ticking of the
clock sounded like hammer blows on an anvil. All eyes were on Veronica;
the Winnebagos stared, open-mouthed; Sahwah's blood ran cold in her
veins; Agent Sanders leaned forward, the whole force of his personality
concentrated in his compelling eyes.

"I didn't meet anybody," said Veronica, returning his gaze steadfastly.

"Where did you go, then?"

Veronica was silent.

"Answer me."

"I can't tell you."

"Why not?"

"Because I can't." There was a ring of finality in Veronica's tone.

Agent Sanders scribbled something more in his little notebook. Then he
renewed his questioning. "You took that letter to somebody, didn't you?"

"I did not," replied Veronica emphatically. "I told you before, and I
repeat it, I know nothing about any letter. I never saw it, and I never
heard of it until you accused me of taking it."

The agent smiled knowingly. "To whom did you telephone from this study
last night?"

"To a friend of mine."

"Who?"

Veronica refused to answer that question, calmly defying the agent to
make her tell. Again there was a sensation in the room. The Winnebagos
were ready to drop with astonishment at the strange behavior of
Veronica. Sahwah looked around at the various faces. Mr. Wing still wore
his puzzled, pained expression; the artist seemed to be getting bored;
he looked out of the window and his left hand was playing with his ear,
pulling down the lobe and releasing it with a jerk, a gesture he was
continually making when his hands were idle. It irritated Sahwah now and
made her nervous; she was filled with a desire to tie his hand down so
he couldn't reach his ear.

"That will do," said Agent Sanders to the Winnebagos, indicating by a
gesture that they were to go out of the room. Sahwah lingered. She stood
up beside Veronica and put her arm around her. "She didn't do it! She
didn't do it!" she said fiercely, facing the three men fearlessly.
"She's as loyal to this country as you are!"

"Possibly," said Agent Sanders drily. "Well, little lady, your faith in
your friend is very beautiful to see, but until we find out that
someone else took that letter we can't take much stock in it."

"I'll prove to you that she's all right," Sahwah proclaimed rashly, and
then reluctantly went out of the room. Her faith in Veronica's innocence
was unshaken. Veronica herself had said that she did not know anything
about the letter, that was enough for Sahwah. Her friend had spoken, and
she never dreamed of doubting her word.

As she went out she saw Mr. Wing rub his hand thoughtfully over his
forehead and heard him say, "But hang it, Sanders, you didn't hear her
play last night. She had us all roused to such a pitch of patriotism
that we were ready to go to the front on the next ship." The agent said
nothing, only went on making notes in his little book. The artist sprang
to open the door for Sahwah, but she took the knob out from under his
very hand and passed him with hostile eyes.

Soon afterward Agent Sanders and Mr. Wing went to Philadelphia and took
Veronica away with them. Before they went the Winnebagos all flung
themselves upon Mr. Wing and implored him not to let the agent take her
away. "_You_ know she is all right," pleaded Sahwah. "_You_ tell him not
to arrest her."

Mr. Wing threw out his hands in a helpless gesture. "You don't
understand, my dear," he said patiently. "I can't tell Special Agent
Sanders 'not to' do anything. I don't happen to have the authority."

"Oh-h," said the Winnebagos.

"You see," he went on gently, "Agent Sanders is only doing his duty in
arresting her. It's his business to run down the enemies of our country
and he is working for the good of all of us. The case against her is
pretty strong, you'll have to admit. She's an alien enemy, a friend of
this Prince Karl Augustus; is wearing a ring which his wife gave her.
Then here comes this letter from him which will expose him as the head
of a great plot. Veronica is in the house with that letter; she is known
to have been alone in the room where it was; soon after that she leaves
the house and says she is going home with a sick headache. When you get
home you find her trying to steal unobserved into the back entry. She
herself admits that she had an appointment with someone during that
time. The next morning the letter is found to have disappeared.
Naturally all suspicion points to her, and how could Sanders do anything
else but put her under arrest? This is a serious matter, much more
serious than you can guess, if that letter goes back into the hands of
the prince's agents."

"But do you really think she took the letter?" asked Sahwah
despairingly.

Mr. Wing shrugged his shoulders and repeated his gesture of
helplessness. "It's hard to know what to expect from such a
temptestuous nature as that," he said seriously. "A nature which can
work up such a passionate loyalty for an adopted country--what must its
feelings have been toward its own native land? Suppose when the chance
unexpectedly came to aid the cause for which her country is fighting and
for which her father died, the old ties were stronger than the new, and
she could not resist the temptation? A nature like hers is capable of
going to any extreme. Naturally I hate to suspect her of any connection
with enemy agents, but as a servant of the government it is my duty to
act upon anything that is in the least suspicious. Sanders is absolutely
convinced that she's a dangerous spy in the employ of the enemy, for she
answers the description of a young girl he has been trying to find for a
long time, a girl who belongs to the Hungarian nobility who has helped
German agents in this country.

"Sanders is dead sure she took that letter and passed it back to the
prince's agents, and you really can't blame him for thinking so. For,
hang it all, if _she_ didn't, who under the shining sun did?"

Only Sahwah, with her faith in her friend unshaken, though circumstances
pointed accusing fingers from every direction, declared stoutly, "She
didn't, I know she didn't. Some day you'll find out I'm right!"



CHAPTER XVI

CLOUDY DAYS


The days dragged themselves along and a week loitered past which seemed
an age to the Winnebagos. No word had come from Nyoda since a telegram
she had sent upon her arrival, saying that Sherry was very low and not
expected to live. They had written her about Veronica's plight, but
there was no answer to that.

Neither did they hear anything about Veronica. Mr. Wing had been in
Philadelphia ever since the day of Veronica's arrest, but they had not
heard from him since.

The Winnebagos wore themselves out talking about Veronica. The subject
of her mysterious excursions from the house was always in the air, and
it formed a hurdle over which no one could jump. Where had she gone on
those excursions? Why didn't she confide in them and satisfy their minds
on this point?

It usually happens in such instances, where our friends fail to take us
into their confidence on matters which we think we have a right to
know, that our pride is hurt at the neglect and pretty soon we begin to
have suspicions in regard to the mysterious action. So it was with the
Winnebagos. At first they only felt hurt that Veronica should have
secrets away from them, but soon they began to say to themselves that
there must have been something suspicious somewhere, if she could not
confide in them, her best friends.

It was Agony who voiced this sentiment the oftenest, and kept the
mystery constantly stirred up. She never let them forget it for a
moment. She seemed inclined to argue as her father had done, that
Veronica's ties of blood and birth had been too strong for her and in an
unguarded moment she had yielded to the impulse to assist the cause of
her native land. The constant repetition of this belief began to
influence the others. Much as they were loath to believe that Veronica
would assist the enemies of their country, they were always conscious of
the fact that they had never really known Veronica; that they could not
understand her strange, passionate nature; that never in their
acquaintance with her had they ever been able to guess what she would do
next. There had always been a gulf between themselves and her which they
had never been able to cross entirely, much as they had come to love
her; there was always a line drawn around her over which they had never
been able to pass. They loved her dearly; they admired her wildly; but
they no more understood the soul that was locked up in her
uncommunicative nature than they understood the riddle of the Sphinx.
They all realized this, and were filled with sorrowful forebodings. The
fact that she had known Prince Karl Augustus loomed larger and larger in
their minds as the days wore on, and it seemed not at all improbable
that she had seized the opportunity to aid him in his activities,
without ever stopping to think of the consequences of her act. They were
broken-hearted over it, but gradually came to believe the possibility of
the charge against her.

Only Sahwah stood out stanchly for her right along, refusing to doubt
her for a moment.

"I don't care if she _is_ an alien enemy!" she declared vehemently.
"She's my Veronica, and I know she never had anything to do with it, so
there!"

She wouldn't listen to Agony and her wise-sounding talk, withdrew to
herself a great part of the time, and for lack of other supporters spoke
out her mind to the portrait of Elizabeth Carver, hanging serenely over
the harp in the long parlor.

"You would have stood up for your friend, no matter what the others
said, wouldn't you?" she demanded beseechingly, and it seemed to her
that Elizabeth nodded her head in confirmation.

Then one day came news which filled them all with consternation.
Veronica was to be interned! Mr. Wing came home and told them about it
briefly. The weight of suspicion had been so strong against Veronica
that nothing could stand against it; her internment had been ordered by
the agents of the government. They were now awaiting the arrival of the
internment papers from Washington; when these came she would be taken
away.

Mr. Wing wearily waved aside the hosts of questions poured out by the
dismayed Winnebagos. He had suffered great chagrin over the loss of the
letter which was to have played such an important part in the coming
trial; sober afterthoughts had convinced him of the possibility of
Veronica's connection with enemy agents; he had come to believe it
implicitly now. Of course, she had taken in these simple girls with her
spectacular protestations of loyalty to this country; that was part of
the game. His anxiety was all for his girls, for fear they had already
compromised themselves in some way.

The Winnebagos saw him in a new mood to-day, stern, inflexible,
obdurate. He curtly advised them to speedily forget their friend and to
say nothing to outsiders about the occurrence. He refused to tell them
where she was at present, and would not hear of their having any
intercourse with her.

"The first thing you know you'll be suspected of connivance yourselves,"
he warned. "And I also advise you not to express too much sympathy for
your friend," he continued. "It's a sure way to make yourselves
unpopular these days."

Stricken, Sahwah sped home, and fleeing from the others, went into the
woods by herself. That was always her place of refuge in trouble. When
others would have sought human comfort and advice, Sahwah fled straight
to the woods. There she could think clearly and gather together her
stunned faculties.

She wandered on blindly until she came to the brook, the little laughing
stream she loved so well, and sat there for hours trying to think of
some plan by which she could save Veronica. For the conviction was
strong within her that Veronica was innocent and it would not budge for
all the suspicions in the world. She thought of one wild extravagant
scheme after the other, and abandoned them all, and at last, utterly
crushed and low-spirited, she took her way back to Carver House.



CHAPTER XVII

THE DRILL CONTEST


While the Winnebagos were gasping under the cold shower of upsetting
events, time marched steadily onward toward the day set for the military
drill contest between Oakwood and Hillsdale. In these last days the
Winnebagos realized what it meant to have the honor of a town on their
shoulders. Although they had little heart for drilling they must turn
out every day with their company of Oakwood girls just as if nothing had
happened, must be the life and brains of the company and never appear to
let their enthusiasm flag. Everyone in town depended upon them to win
the contest for Oakwood; everywhere they went they were greeted with
pleasant smiles and complimentary remarks; they were touched and
flattered by the confidence that was reposed in them--they simply _had_
to win that contest for Oakwood. No one else knew anything about
Veronica; that was kept a state secret. The Winnebagos simply told Miss
Raper that she had been called out of town and would not be in the
contest, and Miss Raper chose another girl to put in her place.

Migwan and Gladys and Hinpoha were sitting together getting the suits
ready which they were to wear in the drill--white skirts and middies,
white shoes and stockings, red, white and blue arm band--when Sahwah
came in waving an envelope over her head. "Letter from Nyoda!" she
called. The three dropped their sewing and fell upon her in a body.

"Open it quick!"

"Here, take the scissors."

"Oh, read it out loud, Migwan, I can't wait until it's passed around."

Migwan promptly complied while the rest listened eagerly as she read:

  Good Samaritan Hospital, St. Margaret's, N.S.

  DEAR GIRLS:

  _Oh_, I'm so thankful I can hardly write; my pen wants to dance jigs
  instead of staying on the lines, but I must let you know at once because
  I know how anxious you have been. Sherry is out of danger, he rounded
  the corner today, and there isn't much doubt about his recovery.

  But if you had ever seen the day I arrived--! I got to St. Margaret's in
  the afternoon, tumbled into the first cab that stood outside the
  station; begged the driver to lose no time getting to the hospital, and
  went rattledly banging over the rough streets as though we were fleeing
  from the German army. The hospital was filled to overflowing with the
  survivors of the wreck, all of whom had been brought into the port of
  St. Margaret's. Beds were everywhere--in the offices, in the corridors,
  in the entries. It took me some time  to locate Sherry because there
  was so much confusion, but I found him at last in one of the wards.

  As I came up I heard a doctor who had been attending him say to the
  nurse beside him, "It's all up with him, poor chap."

  Then he turned around and saw me standing there, and I said quietly, "I
  am his wife."

  He and the nurse exchanged glances, and he looked distressed. He seemed
  to expect me to go off into a fit or a faint, and looked surprised
  because I stayed so calm. I was surprised myself. I seemed to be in a
  dream and moved and acted quite automatically.

  Sherry did not know me; he had been struck on the head while swimming
  for a lifeboat, and had been insensible for hours. The doctors said his
  skull was fractured. They had done everything they could; there was
  nothing to do now but wait until the end came.

  I had had nothing to eat all day, because I had been too nervous to eat
  on the train. But I stayed by his bedside all that night watching. He
  was still living in the morning and I left him at times to help look
  after other patients, because the nurses simply couldn't get around fast
  enough.

  One of the men I waited on was a friend of Sherry's, a Y.M.C.A. man. He
  said that Sherry was being sent back to America to give a series of
  lectures. Just think! to have come safely through those awful months in
  the trenches, and then to perish when so near home!

  For three days he lay in a stupor and all that time I never slept a wink
  because they said the end would come any minute without warning. But
  instead of that he opened his eyes without warning this morning,
  recognized me, and said, "Hello, Elizabeth," as casually as if we hadn't
  been separated for a year.

  He's been awake now for five hours and the doctor says he's out of
  danger. I sort of let go then when the tension was over, but I've slept
  a bit since and have got a grip on myself again. I'm so happy that I
  feel like dancing a jig up and down the wards, and it is only with great
  difficulty that I can restrain myself.

  I must stop now, because Sherry is clamoring for refreshments.

  Your blissful, too-thankful-to-live

  NYODA.

  P.S. The soap is in the closet under the kitchen stairs. I forgot to
  tell you before I went away.

A chorus of glad cries greeted the reading of the letter. "Sherry's
going to get well! Isn't it wonderful?"

Hinpoha and Migwan flung their arms around each other in an exuberance
of feeling just at the same moment that Sahwah and Gladys did the same
thing, and they all laughed and hugged each other for joy.

"Dear Nyoda! Think of her, going without sleep for three nights and
keeping up through it all!"

"And helping to take care of the other injured ones! Isn't that Nyoda
all over, though--_Give Service_, no matter how badly she might feel
herself!"

"But, she never said a word about Veronica," said Sahwah in a puzzled
tone, when the first excitement had subsided. "I can't understand it."

"She probably forgot it, she was so thankful about Sherry," said Gladys.

"Not she," replied Sahwah positively. "She couldn't have gotten our
letter. I'm going to write again."

       *       *       *       *       *

The day of the great contest had arrived. It was the 15th of August,
the day on which Oakwood celebrated the one hundred and seventieth
anniversary of its founding. An elaborate celebration had been prepared,
with parades and pageants in the daytime, and fireworks and a sham
battle at night. The military drill contest had been a part of this
celebration, that Oakwood's victory over Hillsdale might have a more
spectacular setting. Oakwood was making much more of an occasion out of
that contest than the Winnebagos had expected and their sporting blood
began to tingle. The thought of winning before all that crowd thrilled
them through and through.

Agony was in a high feather. Hers was a nature which expanded in the
limelight; crowded audiences inspired her to outdo herself instead of
"fussing" her as they did Oh-Pshaw. She could hardly wait for their hour
to strike.

The contest was at five in the afternoon, after the parade and before
the evening's program of fireworks. At four o'clock the Hillsdale
delegation drove into town in hayracks decorated with flags and bunting,
the troop of Girl Scouts who were going to drill in the first rack, and
after them several racks full of Hillsdale girls and boys, coming to
watch the contest.

"There they come!" whispered the Oakwood girls to each other, and the
thrill of the coming struggle began to go through them at the sight of
their adversaries.

"Oh, I'm afraid I'm going to make a mistake!" said Oh-Pshaw, turning
quite cold. "I'll never get through that field formation wheel, I know."

"You will _not_ make a mistake," said Agony emphatically. "Don't think
about the audience, just think about that trip to Washington we're going
to get, and keep cool. I don't see what you're so excited for anyway.
I'm not a bit scared." Then she added, "How are you ever going to be a
Torch Bearer if you can't keep cool?" It was a home thrust, and Agony
knew it. Oh-Pshaw wanted to be a Torch Bearer more than anything else
and she considered this occasion a test of her fitness. She must not get
rattled!

The contest took place on Commons Field. A tent had been set up on
either end of the field for the use of the people in the pageant, and
the two drill companies used these tents as points of entry upon the
drill grounds, forming their squads inside. The judges, who were three
military men belonging neither to Oakwood nor Hillsdale, sat half way up
the hill overlooking the center of the grounds. The Hillsdales, being
the visitors, were given the privilege of drilling first.

The Oakwood girls looked on critically as their rivals marched out on
the field and began their maneuvers. The Hillsdale supporters began to
cheer and kept it up incessantly. The spirits of the Oakwood girls rose
as they watched. The Hillsdale Scouts did their steps perfectly, they
had to admit, but they lacked "pep." The Winnebagos knew they could put
a dash into their performance that would beat this mere mechanical
perfection all hollow. Their nervousness left them; the music of the
band, the presence of the crowd, the sight of themselves in their natty
white uniforms had gone to their heads like wine. They were inspired;
they could hardly wait to get out on the drill grounds; they knew they
would march as they had never marched before.

The Hillsdale Scouts finished their maneuvers and marched off amid a
wild outbreak of applause from their friends, and Oakwood, tingling with
eagerness, sprang to attention at Miss Raper's command. The bugle blew
its signal for their entrance, the band crashed into a march and the
squads began to move forward. A roar of applause went up from the crowds
on the hillside; Oakwood citizens hailed their champions with all their
powers of heart and voice.

"CAMP FIRE GIRLS!" yelled several thousand enthusiastic throats. The
Winnebagos thrilled as they had never thrilled before. Here was the
whole town honoring them, _them_, depending upon them to lead the
Oakwood girls to victory over the ancient rival, Hillsdale. Agony was
nearly suffocating with pride; applause was the breath of life to her.

The company came to a halt opposite the judges, one squad behind the
other.

"Squads Left--Hunch!" Miss Raper's sharp command pierced them like a
bullet. With the ease of long practice the squads moved in obedience to
the command. The maneuvers had commenced. Command after command rang
out, which they obeyed with conscious snap and finish, pivoting,
wheeling, rear marching, left and right flanking in perfect step and
rhythm. Applause was continuous, Oakwood citizens had recognized the
"pep" in their performance and knew what the decision of the judges
would be.

The first half of the maneuvers was over; there remained now only the
prize figure of the drill, the difficult field formation, in which the
squads wheeled into the form of a cross and then revolved by fours
around a common center, like the spokes of a wheel going around. It was
a complicated figure and required rapid thinking as to whether to turn
to right or left in certain places.

The first half of the figure was executed without a flaw; the squads
stood ready to form the cross. "_Ready--Wheel_!"

Alas for Oh-Pshaw! When the critical moment arrived and she got to
thinking how dreadful it would be if she _should_ make a mistake, she
went all to pieces, lost her head and marched forward instead of
backward, crashing violently into Agony, who was marching with the four
ahead. Not prepared for the collision, Agony lost her footing and went
down in a heap on the ground, covering her white suit with dust from
head to foot. A simultaneous gasp of dismay went up from the audience
and the company, while the Hillsdale-ites laughed triumphantly. One of
the Hillsdale boys, a youth of eighteen, who considered himself
superlatively funny, called out, "Oakwood Squad, _Awkw'd_ Squad!"

Agony scrambled to her feet, white with anger, and Oh-Pshaw stood still
where the collision had occurred, too horrorstruck to move. A low
command from Miss Raper and the squads righted themselves into line and
proceeded with the maneuver. There was no vim left, however. Oakwood had
lost. They heroically struggled through the remainder of the figure, but
Oh-Pshaw, completely demoralized, made one misturn after the other. The
bugler "sounded off" and the contest was over.

The Winnebagos and their company would have fled away and hidden
themselves, but no, they must march back onto the field with the
Hillsdale company to hear the decision of the judges. It was a fearful
ordeal, that standing up before the disappointed citizens of Oakwood to
hear their triumphantly smiling rivals pronounced the victors, one that
taxed the courage and composure of the girls to the utmost. With a
desperate effort to appear blandly indifferent to the decision they
stood frozen stiff at attention, carefully avoiding every eye in the
audience. The spokesman of the judges stood up and prolonged the torture
five long minutes, by complimenting first one company and then the other
upon different points of their performance. It seemed he would never
come to the point and pronounce Hillsdale the winner. All that time
Agony stood there, acutely conscious of the dust on her dress, boiling
with fury at Oh-Pshaw because she had caused her to make a spectacle of
herself. The taunt, "Oakwood Squad, _Awkw'd_ Squad," still rankled in
her breast.

The spokesman came to the point at last, and with much flowery language
announced that "all things considered, Hillsdale had displayed a greater
degree of excellency," etc. A splitting cheer went up from the Hillsdale
visitors; the Oakwood citizens were glum and silent. With a last
desperate effort to maintain an outwardly Stoic attitude the Winnebagos
marched with their company from the field. It was all over. Oakwood had
trusted in them, and they had not fulfilled the trust.

Once inside the shelter of their tent the company gave way to tears in
some spots and to wrath in others. Agony turned furiously upon Oh-Pshaw
and vented her rage and disappointment in angry up-braidings; Hinpoha
wept unconsolably; Gladys looked a world of reproach whenever she turned
to Oh-Pshaw, and even gentle Migwan exclaimed in a voice that was sharp
with disappointment, "Oh, Oh-Pshaw, how _could_ you?"

Poor Oh-Pshaw! She felt as though she could never hold up her head
again. She could never be a Torch Bearer now; she had disgraced the
Winnebagos, they would never have anything more to do with her. Agony,
her beloved twin, had turned against her; there was nothing left in the
world for her now. With quivering lips and smarting eyes she slipped out
of the tent and lost herself in the crowd outside. The rest did not
notice her going; they were too busy lamenting. By and by Sahwah looked
around and missed her.

"Where's Oh-Pshaw?" she asked.

"I don't know," replied Hinpoha, noticing for the first time that she
was no longer in the tent. "She was here a minute ago."

"She'd _better_ run and hide," sputtered Agony, still vindictive in her
wounded pride.

Sahwah stared at Agony thoughtfully and her sympathy went out to
Oh-Pshaw, having to bear the whole brunt of their disaster, her whole
day spoiled for her. Other features of the celebration were going on in
Oakwood; the pageant of the Early Founders was beginning. "Come on out
and see what's going on," said Sahwah, who hated to miss anything, even
for the melancholy pleasure of crying over spilt milk.

So they drifted back into the celebration and their interest in the
proceedings soon began to dull the sharpness of their disappointment.
Oh-Pshaw was nowhere to be seen, however, and by-and-by Sahwah slipped
away from the others and went in search of her. She guessed that
Oh-Pshaw might have gone home, to get away from the girls, and went to
the house, but it was closed and locked, and there was no sign of
Oh-Pshaw in the garden anywhere. Then Sahwah remembered that Oh-Pshaw
had a favorite nook out in the woods where she went when she wanted to
be alone, a wide-spreading, low-boughed chestnut tree in a dense, shady
grove, away from the singing brook with its terrifying gurgle; into the
branches she climbed and sat as in a great wide armchair, secure from
interruption. She had taken Sahwah with her once. Of course that was
where she would go.

Sahwah hesitated a moment. Over on Main Street the fun was going at full
blast; it was just about time for the balloon to go up. If she went out
to look for Oh-Pshaw she would miss it. After all, Oh-Pshaw might not
have gone to the woods; she might be in the crowd somewhere, watching
the performance where the girls couldn't see her. But Sahwah knew
Oh-Pshaw, and knew that she considered herself disgraced and that she
would have no heart to look at the rest of the performance. She had a
vision of Oh-Pshaw sitting disconsolate out in the woods, hiding away
from the festivities, and that vision refused to go away.

"I'll go and _see_, anyway," Sahwah decided resolutely, "and if she _is_
there I'll make her come back with me, and if she _isn't,_ there's no
harm done by going. I've seen balloons before, and I'll see them again."

Turning her back on the festive town she took the path to the woods, and
hurried along with light, swift footsteps, humming as she went. Just
inside the woods she pounced on something in the path with a little
exclamation of triumph. It was a red, white and blue arm band,
undoubtedly Oh-Pshaw's. She _had_ come to the woods after all. Sahwah
sped on to the big chestnut tree, finding it without difficulty,
although she had only been there once. Sure enough, there was Oh-Pshaw,
all curled up in the embrace of the wide branches, her face in her arms,
the picture of abandoned woe. Sahwah swung up beside her and called her
gently by name. Oh-Pshaw raised her head with a start and looked
surprised when she saw who it was.

"Hello," she responded forlornly to Sahwah's greeting.

"Don't take it so to heart," said Sahwah cheerfully. "It wasn't as bad
as you think."

"The girls will never speak to me again," said Oh-Pshaw dismally, "and
you can't blame them, either."

"Oh, come, they will, too," said Sahwah. "They're all over it already
and out enjoying the rest of the show. Come on back. You wouldn't want
to miss the sham battle for anything."

Oh-Pshaw's woebegone look began to fade from her face and her heart was
warmed clear to the bottom at the thought of Sahwah's leaving the
celebration and coming all the way out here to find her. The world took
on a cheerful hue again; she sat up and dried her eyes and began to
smooth out her crumpled uniform. Sahwah jumped lightly from the tree and
Oh-Pshaw followed her, but Oh-Pshaw's foot had gone to sleep from
sitting on it so long and she jumped stiffly and came down on a jagged
stump, skinning her shin from ankle to knee and giving the knee itself a
bad bump.

"_Anything_ broken?" asked Sahwah, bending solicitously over the injured
member and inspecting the damage.

"I guess not," replied Oh-Pshaw, wincing with the pain, "though it hurts
like fury. I guess it's just skinned."

Sahwah bound up the two places that were bleeding the most with her
handkerchief and Oh-Pshaw's and was gently replacing the stocking when
her ears caught a sound--a noise like the humming of a giant bee.
"What's that noise?" asked Oh-Pshaw.

"It's an aeroplane," said Sahwah. "It must be _the_ aeroplane that's
coming over from Philadelphia to take part in the sham battle. The one
has been in Oakwood all day, but the other hadn't arrived yet when I
started out to look for you. It's coming in this direction, over the
woods. Come on, let's run to the open space by the Devil's Punch Bowl
and see if he flies over there." Sahwah seized Oh-Pshaw by the hand and
started away on a run, and Oh-Pshaw followed as best she could for the
pain in her knee. The humming noise grew louder and louder as they ran,
and then suddenly it stopped altogether.

"Where is he, is he gone?" asked Oh-Pshaw in disappointment.

"I can't imagine," replied Sahwah, looking up in bewilderment when they
came out beside the Punch Bowl. "No, there he is," she cried, as the
machine suddenly shot into sight directly above them. "Oh-Pshaw!" she
screamed, "it's coming down!"

Rooted to the spot, they watched it, as nose downward the machine came
rushing toward them, struck against the rock cliffs high above them and
dropped with a terrific splash into the Devil's Punch Bowl.



CHAPTER XVIII

OUT OF A CLEAR SKY


It happened so quickly that the two girls had no time to jump back out
of the way; they were caught in the deluge of water that shot out from
the Punch Bowl on every side. When they got their eyes open again the
luckless flying machine lay before them in the water, a mass of
wreckage. Oh-Pshaw gave a little muffled shriek and sat down on a log,
hiding her face in her hands. Sahwah shook her roughly by the shoulder.

"_Oh-Pshaw!_ The man's under the machine, in the water!"

Oh-Pshaw shuddered and did not look up.

"_Oh-Pshaw! Oh-Pshaw!_ He'll drown!"

Oh-Pshaw looked up, still shuddering, and gazed in fascinated horror at
the thing in front of her. "Isn't he--dead?" she asked in a hoarse
whisper.

"No, he isn't, he's _struggling_. Don't you see the water moving? I'm
going out and help him," Sahwah exclaimed with sudden resolution.

She waded swiftly out into the water until it became too deep for her
to stand and then swam out to the wrecked machine, in the clutches of
which the unfortunate flyer was held fast. As she reached it, the man's
head came up above the surface for a moment and then immediately
disappeared again. Sahwah held on to the machine with one hand and with
the other reached down and brought his head up out of the water again.
His eyes were closed and he was quite limp. He had fainted. Try as she
might she could not free him from the wreck of the machine entirely; he
was securely pinioned. All she could do was hold his head out of the
water.

"Run! Get help!" she called out sharply to Oh-Pshaw. "I can't get him
out." Oh-Pshaw sprang up and hobbled off as fast as she could go.

Sahwah pulled herself up on top of the machine, which was partly above
the surface of the water, and sat there in a tolerably secure position
holding the unconscious man up. A red stream flowing from the side of
his head began to spread in the water and lengthen out in the flowing
cataract of the Punch Bowl. It gave Sahwah the shivers, that ever
lengthening red stream; she averted her eyes and held on grimly, trying
to calculate how long it would take Oh-Pshaw to bring help. Then a new
danger arose. The wrecked machine began to tilt and settle and finally
with a sickening lurch went down under Sahwah, dragging her and her
unconscious burden into the depths of the Devil's Punch Bowl. When she
came up and struck out for the bank she found she was still clutching
the collar of the unconscious man, for by some lucky chance the tipping
of the machine had released him. She brought him to shore and worked
over him to expel the water from his lungs and soon was relieved to see
that he was breathing again. She took off the great goggles that covered
half his face and opened the coat that was so tightly buttoned around
his neck, which it seemed must be choking him. There was something
hauntingly familiar about the face; it came over Sahwah that she had
seen it before, where, she could not remember. It was a young face; the
aviator looked little more than a boy.

Although breathing, the man remained unconscious, and Sahwah thought
about Sherry and his injury and wondered if this man's skull were
fractured. She rolled the collar still farther back from his throat to
give him more air. Then she noticed a slender gold chain around his
neck, and pulling at it brought up a gold locket. It was a girl's
locket, heart-shaped, with a monogram engraved on the outside.
Impulsively Sahwah opened it. Then she uttered an exclamation of
surprise and gazed in round-eyed wonder at the picture inside. It was
her own picture! The little snapshot she had given Hinpoha to wear in
_her_ locket! Why, it _was_ Hinpoha's locket! There were her initials,
D.M.B., entwined in Old English letters on the outside. It was the
locket Hinpoha had lost on the train coming to Nyoda's. How came it in
the possession of this strange aviator? It was a puzzle Sahwah could not
solve. She was still lost in wonder over it when she heard footsteps and
looked around to see Oh-Pshaw appear between the trees, limping
painfully and weeping.

"I couldn't make it," sobbed Oh-Pshaw. "My knee--I don't know what's the
matter with it, I can't walk on it, it keeps doubling up under me. I
fell down on it every other step and each time it hurt worse. I only got
a little way and then I knew it would take me hours to get back to town,
so I came back to tell you. H-how did you get the m-man loose and up on
shore?"

Sahwah explained briefly.

"You run and get help, I'll stay here with him," said Oh-Pshaw, looking
fearfully around her at the shadows which were lengthening in the gully.
There were no lingering sunsets in the Devil's Punch Bowl; night fell
swiftly as the dropping of a curtain when the sun got behind the great
cliff on the western side. Little did Sahwah dream what an ordeal
Oh-Pshaw was committing herself to when she bravely turned around and
returned to the Devil's Punch Bowl when she realized that her slow
progress was likely to endanger the life of the injured man. To sit
beside the Devil's Punch Bowl in the dark, and listen to the terrible
gurgling of the water through the basin! The blood curdled in her veins
at the mere thought of it, and yet she choked back her terror with a
stern hand and said no word as Sahwah rose from beside the unconscious
man, called "All right!" over her shoulder and disappeared between the
trees like an arrow shot from a bow.

Inside of five minutes after Sahwah left it was dark as midnight in the
Punch Bowl, dark with an inky blackness that clutched at Oh-Pshaw as
with hands while the hideous gurgling filled her ears and turned her
blood to water. She was going to faint, she knew it; the strength went
out of her limbs; icy drops gathered on her forehead. Then she
remembered. She _dared_ not faint. She must keep her hand pressed
tightly over the wound in the man's head to keep the blood from flowing.
Sahwah had said so. Sahwah said he would bleed to death if she did not.
Sahwah had just started to do it, when she had come back and reported
her failure to bring help. Now she had to do it. She pressed her hands
tightly over the wound as Sahwah had showed her, and tried to close her
ears to the gurgling. But the old terror had her by the throat,
suffocating her, paralyzing her hands. They dropped uselessly at her
sides; she crouched limp and panting and nerveless beside the helpless
man. Then, for the first time in her life Oh-Pshaw began to fight the
fear. She forced her clammy hands back over the wound, she cast
desperately around for something to think about beside the murmuring
horror at her feet. She began to sing, in a scarcely audible voice, and
through chattering teeth:

  "L-lay m-me to sl-leep in sh-sheltering flame,
  O M-master of the Hidden F-fire!
  W-w-ash pure my heart, and c-cleanse f-for me
  M-my Soul's D-desire!"

Over and over she sang it, through chattering teeth, keeping in her mind
the picture of a warm, glowing fire and herself sitting beside it, cozy
and comfortable, and finally the picture became so real that she forgot
about the gurgling water and gave herself up to pleasant fire dreams.
Oh-Pshaw herself was master, not of the Hidden Fire, but of the Hidden
Fear! She was still sitting beside her imaginary fire when footsteps
startled her and in another minute the place was ablaze with
searchlights and swarming over with people.



CHAPTER XIX

KAISER BILL MIXES IN


"Isn't it just too wonderful for anything?" said Hinpoha in an awed
tone. Then she burst out triumphantly, "I _told_ her there was a
light-haired man coming into her life--and he did! Did you ever _hear_
of anything so romantic as this, anyway? He said she was a dream of his
come to life! When he first saw her in the train that day he thought she
wasn't _real_! And then finding my locket on the floor that way and
seeing her picture in it and thinking it was _her_ locket, and wearing
it all this time! I never _heard_ of anything so wonderful. It's better
than anything I ever read in a book. Such a nice-sounding name he has,
too--Robert Allison; it's so--unanimous."

"Don't you mean 'euphonious'?" asked Migwan with a smile.

"Well, 'euphonious,' then," amended Hinpoha. Wrapped up as she was in
this marvel of romance that had happened in the placid, everyday lives
of the Winnebagos, she was not bothering about any carping correctness
of words. She sat at the foot of Oh-Pshaw's bed, where Oh-Pshaw lay with
her knee propped up on a pillow, and went over the details of Sahwah's
case for the twentieth time with Agony and Migwan and Gladys, all of
them foregathered in Oh-Pshaw's room to keep her company.

"It was just like a book!" Hinpoha went on impressively. "Sahwah passed
by the door of his room over there last night after the doctors had
gone, and it was open, and nobody was in the room with him because your
grandmother had gone downstairs for something, and she saw that the
curtain was blowing out of the window. She went in to pull it back and
while she was in the room he opened his eyes and said, 'Is it really
you?' He thought he was _dreaming_ and she wasn't real at all. Then he
told her all about his dream girl, and about seeing her in the train
that day, and finding the locket, and everything. He said the locket had
brought him good luck wherever he went, for half a dozen times he had
escaped as by a miracle from being killed in accidents to his plane. And
to think that the last time it was she herself who saved his life!" The
utter romance of the thing struck Hinpoha momentarily speechless.

Then she thought of something else, and broke out afresh.

"Don't you remember, when I was telling her fortune there in the train,
I told her that the light-haired man had already come into her life, and
she made fun of me and said it must have been the Swede brakeman? Well,
what I told her was true, because Lieutenant Allison had already seen
her then! _Now_, will you say there isn't any truth in fortunes?"

The Winnebagos could only gasp at the workings of fate!

"But what about the other man you said you saw in her fortune, the
light-haired man who was going to turn dark after a while?" asked
Migwan.

"I don't know," replied Hinpoha. Then she added, "Give him time! He
hasn't shown up yet, but he will, you see if he doesn't."

And in view of the success of her former prophecy the Winnebagos could
not very well have any doubts.

"Wasn't it a miracle that Sahwah happened to be in the woods when the
plane came down?" said Agony in a hushed voice.

"Yes, but she wouldn't have been there if we hadn't lost the contest,"
said Migwan musingly. "Isn't it queer the way things work out sometimes?
Here, we wanted to win that contest so badly, and were disappointed when
we didn't, and yet if we _had_ won it Lieutenant Allison would have been
killed!"

The rest looked at each other in silent awe at _this_ marvelous working
of fate! In a dim, groping way they all felt the touch of an unseen,
mighty hand in their affairs, guiding them this way or that as it chose,
regardless of their own plans or intentions.

"It was really Oh-Pshaw that saved his life," said Gladys, "because she
made the mistake that made us lose."

"And I was so hateful about it, and said such mean things!" said Agony
contritely. "I take it all back, Oh-Pshaw. It was the luckiest thing you
ever did to get rattled then."

Oh-Pshaw smiled forgivingly and all was serene between the twins once
more.

While the Winnebago tongues were wagging busily in Oh-Pshaw's room and
Lieutenant Allison was lying quite comfortable in bed in the big square
bedroom of the Wing home, where he had been carried when brought in from
the woods the night before with a ragged cut in his left temple and a
fractured arm, Sahwah, breathless with wonder at the strange new thing
that had come into her life, fled from the chattering girls and went
wandering by herself in the silence of the woods, where she could think
and dream undisturbed.

So preoccupied was she that she had passed out of the gate of Carver
House without even noticing Kaiser Bill, who had broken out of his
confines and was pulling the honeysuckle vine off the fence. The Kaiser
stopped pulling for a moment as she came out and eyed her warily, on
guard for a well-aimed stone, but she passed by unheeding. It betokened
deep abstraction indeed when Sahwah ignored the depredations of Kaiser
Bill. The Kaiser executed a defiant caper under her very nose and then
returned blandly to his vine pulling, sending a suspicious look after
her from time to time as she passed down the hill.

Through the troubles that had overtaken Carver House, Kaiser Bill had
gained a temporary reprieve. In the excitement over Nyoda's going away
he had been forgotten entirely for a whole week, and of course nothing
would be done about his execution until she returned. Kaiser Bill was
making the most of his reprieve by breaking bounds every day and
damaging property to his heart's content.

But not even Kaiser Bill in mischief could hold Sahwah's attention now.
She walked on in the golden afternoon sunshine, her heart attuned to the
song of the wild thrush that came pouring out of the stillness of the
woods. She sought her own favorite haunt, a mossy seat beside the little
singing stream, where she loved to sit and watch the water tumble and
foam over the rocks, but when she got there she found the place already
occupied. Eugene Prince, the artist, sat there, his head tilted back
against the trunk of a tree, sound asleep, with his sketching portfolio
beside him on the ground and his hat on the other side. Sahwah scowled
at the sleeping man and passed swiftly on. She had no desire to sit
near him, even if he _was_ asleep. She found another place, far
downstream, where there was a rocky seat close to the water, and,
curling herself down in it, she watched the water tumble and foam, and
gave herself over to pondering on the delightful mystery of life and
fate.

Upstream, in Sahwah's own private nook, the invader reclined at ease,
steeped in the sound slumber of a drowsy midsummer afternoon. Upon this
peaceful scene there appeared a sinister and menacing apparition, a
shaggy body mounted on slender, adventurous legs, and terminating in a
mischievous-shaped head with evilly glittering eyes and wicked-looking
horns. It was none other than Kaiser Bill, on whom the taste of
honeysuckle had palled, wandering far afield in search of something to
tickle his discriminating palate. He stood still and surveyed the scene,
eyeing the various articles spread out before him with an appraising
eye, like a man in a Thompson's restaurant looking over the articles on
the counter and trying to make up his mind what he will have. He looked
at the pencil, he looked at the sketch pad; he sniffed experimentally at
the hat and then at the portfolio. The portfolio went to the spot; it
was made of leather with brass corners. He had not had such a treat in
many a day. He licked his chops; the water of anticipation began to
gather in his mouth. With a greedy movement he sank his teeth into the
portfolio and began his feast In his sportive delight he played with his
prize, tossing it to the ground and attacking it from all sides, while
his eyes glittered maliciously at the sleeping artist. Then he; moved on
down the wood path, dragging the portfolio with him until he found a
place which struck him as a suitable banquet Chamber, and there he stood
still and began chewing.

Sahwah, sitting on the rock beside the water, gazing off into space with
her chin in her hand, suddenly became aware of a champing sound directly
in her ear, accompanied by the noise of tearing. She raised her head,
and there was Kaiser Bill right beside her tearing something to pieces.
She put out her hand and snatched the thing away so quickly that it was
gone before Kaiser Bill knew what had happened; then, realizing that to
stay in the neighborhood after such a daring act was decidedly perilous,
Sahwah sprang up into the branches of a great old willow tree that
leaned invitingly near, drew herself up out of his reach and from her
safe vantage point made triumphant grimaces down at him. Kaiser Bill,
baffled, dashed his head against the tree several times in fury, then
rushed into the woods.

Left to herself, Sahwah examined the thing she had rescued, and then it
was that she recognized the artist's sketching portfolio. Her first
feeling was regret that she hadn't let Kaiser Bill go on eating it Then
she felt ashamed of such vicious thoughts and began looking over the
portfolio to see how badly it was damaged. It was a sorry wreck, she
decided, after a moment's inspection. Most of the seams were burst open
and the soft leather which lined the stiffer outside was torn away in a
dozen places. It was empty of sketches, these having been scattered
along the path in the progress of Kaiser Bill's capers. Sahwah fingered
the torn lining and wondered if the artist would make them pay for the
damage. While she was wondering her fingers found something under the
lining, and she drew out several sheets of paper, written over in a
close hand. Under these were dozens of other sheets, thin as tissue, but
very tough and strong, covered with lines and angles and circles and
letters in complicated designs. She rummaged still further under the
lining and drew out a black ribbon about an inch wide. On it in gold
letters was stamped _S.M.S. Eitel Friederich_. After that out came a
narrow envelope of exceedingly heavy correspondence paper addressed in a
beautifully shaded handwriting to "Lieutenant Waldemar von Oldenbach,
_S.M.S. Eitel Friederich_." Sahwah turned it over in her hands. It was
sealed on the other side with a wafer of gold wax, the seal being a
coronet The envelope was open at the top, disclosing a letter inside.
Sahwah looked at it curiously, but did not open it. It was the
superscription on the envelope and the gold letters on the black ribbon
that were holding her attention. Sahwah knew from reading the papers
that the _S.M.S. Eitel Friederich_ was one of the German warships caught
in American ports at the outbreak of the war and interned. The ribbon
had evidently come from the ship, but what was it doing here under the
lining of Eugene Prince's portfolio? Why was he carrying around a ship's
ribbon from an interned German vessel? Who was Waldemar von Oldenbach?
Evidently a lieutenant on the _Eitel Friederich_, from the address on
the letter. But what was a letter addressed to such a person doing in
the possession of the artist? A letter from a woman, it undoubtedly was.
Something heavy was in the envelope beside the letter; it fell out into
Sahwah's lap as she handled the letter. It was a little Maltese cross
made of gray metal, with letters stamped in the ends of the crosspieces.
Sahwah held it in her hand and spelled out the letters, and then all at
once she knew what it was. She had seen a picture of such a thing in a
magazine only a few days before. It was an Iron Cross of the First
Class. She stared at it, fascinated, for a moment, then shuddered and
dropped it back into the envelope.

She looked over the thin sheets of paper, but could make nothing of
them; she then turned back to the first letter that had come to light.
The sheets were open and she felt no hesitancy about reading them.

What Sahwah read sent her heart wildly pounding against her throat.
"Atterbury?" "Strikes?"--and signed by Prince Karl Augustus of
Hohenburg? This must be the very letter that was stolen from Mr. Wing's
desk--the letter they accused Veronica of taking! Eugene Prince, the
artist, had taken it and hidden it under the lining of his sketch book.
But no one had ever thought of suspecting him! He had been so sure that
Veronica was an enemy agent, and here he was one himself! She had been
right after all, Veronica was innocent, and her faith in her had not
been betrayed. For a moment that one great dazzling fact blotted out all
other facts. It was not too late yet to save Veronica from internment.
She must get to Mr. Wing as fast as she could with her great discovery.
She must----Here Sahwah looked down, and directly into the face of
Eugene Prince, standing on the ground beside the tree, his eye on the
portfolio and the articles spread out in her lap. For a moment "they
looked at each other, tense, speechless, then the artist sprang into the
tree, snatched the portfolio and the letter away from her and darted
away into the woods. Stunned by surprise Sahwah slid limply to the
ground, vainly looking around to see where the artist had gone. The
woods had swallowed him. At Sahwah's feet lay the gilt-lettered ship's
ribbon, the letter addressed to Waldemar von Oldenbach and the thin
sheets of paper, and in her hand she still clutched the bottom half of
one of the pages of the stolen letter, the half that bore the prince's
signature and the name of Atterbury in one of the lines."



CHAPTER XX

ANOTHER'S SECRET


"Tell me something about this artist who called himself Eugene Prince,"
said Lieutenant Allison, who, propped up in bed with Mr. Wing and the
Winnebagos around him, had been looking over the contents of the
sketching portfolio which Sahwah had just brought in.

Mr. Wing, still dazed from the shock of learning that the man he had
looked upon as such a good friend had played him false, described the
artist as well as he could. The lieutenant listened with a puzzled frown
until he heard about the funny little drawings that the artist used to
make, and then he interrupted with a triumphant exclamation.

"That's he!" he exclaimed. "The very same! Eugene Prince is Waldemar von
Oldenbach himself!"

Then he told about him.

"Waldemar von Oldenbach! His father is a German count, his mother was an
American. He was educated in England and afterward came to America and
entered Cornell. That's where I met him. He was the cleverest scapegrace
that ever lived. He could sing like an angel, draw like St. Peter, and
knew more languages than an Ellis Island interpreter. He made friends
wherever he went. To look at him and hear him talk you would never think
he was a German; he's the picture of his American mother, and being in
England so much he had learned English perfectly. At the same time he
could make himself up like a Frenchman and you'd swear that he and all
his ancestors were born in the shadow of Notre Dame. He was a great old
actor, all right. After he'd been in America a year or so he went back
to Germany and entered the navy and became a first lieutenant on the
_Eitel Friederich_. That's where he was when the war broke out and the
_Eitel Friederich_ was interned. But Von Oldenbach wasn't interned with
her, not much. He got away before they had a chance to photograph him
and label him, and so no official search was ever made for him as it was
in the cases of the other sailors from the _Eitel Friederich_ who
escaped. I have often wondered what became of him, because I knew he was
on the _Eitel Friederich_ when she first came into port, but his name
didn't show up among the ship's officers when they were interned.
Someone on board said he had died the day before the ship was seized and
that was all anybody knew about him. He must have been quietly cruising
around the country ever since, disguised and posing as an artist,
working himself into one locality after another where he could get
information that was of service to his fatherland. These drawings here
are mostly of airplane parts which he's picked up in various places and
his sketches are mostly all rivers and bridges.

"Eugene Prince, indeed! '_Prinz Eugen, der edle Ritter,'_ that's what
they used to call him in college, after an old student song. He had such
winning ways he could take up with anybody. Nobody on earth was proof
against his charm. You see how it has worked with yourself, Mr. Wing. He
made himself such a delightful companion, and became of such real
service to you in your work of trailing enemy agents that you never
suspected he wasn't the most patriotic American alive. You would have
staked your soul on it. When he found out you had this letter which tied
up old Prince Karl Augustus with your strike case, he managed to get it
away from you and so scored one for the Prince, who is a good friend of
his. At the same time he was clever enough to throw suspicion over onto
this little Hungarian girl friend of yours, and if this goat hadn't
butted in just at the right time he probably never would have been found
out. As it is, he'll probably never be caught now. He's too clever.
He'll fool the officers yet, as he's done before." Sleep came slowly to
the girls that night, there had been so much excitement during the day,
but one by one they dropped off at last, even Sahwah, who was so wide
awake she thought she would never sleep again. Sometime after midnight
the doorbell rang, a loud, ferocious peal that clanged through the
silent house like a fire alarm and fetched Sahwah sitting upright in bed
with a beating heart. "What's that?" came in a startled tone from
Hinpoha's room.

"The doorbell," answered Sahwah, jumping out of bed and putting on her
slippers. The other girls were awake by this time, calling to each
other. The bell pealed again.

"Don't you go to the door!" cried Hinpoha hoarsely, as she saw Sahwah
preparing to go down. "It may be the artist coming back to kill us. I've
heard of such things. They come to the door at night and ring the
doorbell and then they shoot you through the door when you open it.
Don't you dare go down!"

"Oh-h-h-h-wow-w!" shrieked Gladys, with a smothered squeal, her nerves
giving away beneath the shock of being wakened so suddenly from sound
sleep, together with the picture of horror conjured up by Hinpoha's
awful suggestion.

Fright overtook the rest of them then and they stood in a shivering
group in the upper hall. Another peal clanged through the house, louder
and more insistent than before.

"I'm going to see who's there," said Sahwah hardily. "Come on, all of
you, come down with me."

"Wait until we get armed," said Hinpoha, casting about for something
that would serve as a weapon of defense. There was nothing in sight but
a two-quart bottle of spring water, which she picked up. Gladys went
into the kitchen and picked up a frying pan, Sahwah climbed up on the
mantel and pulled down the Revolutionary musket that hung there and
brought down a three-foot sword for Migwan. It dropped with a clatter
upon the hearthstone when Migwan tried to take it from her hand, and the
four stood petrified with alarm. Another furious peal at the bell.

"Come on," whispered Sahwah. "I'll open the door a crack and you stand
right behind me. I'm not going to turn on the light, because it's easier
to rush out and make an attack in the dark." Holding their breath they
approached the door with shaking knees. Sahwah turned the key in the
lock as quietly as she could and opened the door a tiny crack. "Who's
there?" she called in a bold voice, at the same time bringing her gun
down on the floor with a warning bang.

"It's I, Nyoda," answered the dearest voice in the world. "Oh, I thought
I'd _never_ make you hear!"

The next minute she was inside the room and the light was switched on.
One look at the four girls, armed to the teeth, and Nyoda doubled up on
the stairs and laughed until she cried, while the Winnebagos looked
sheepish and laid their weapons down in a hurry.

"Didn't you get my wire saying I was coming?" asked Nyoda in surprise.
"I sent one yesterday saying I would reach Oakwood at eight to-night.
Trains were delayed all along the line and I didn't get in until nearly
one this morning."

"We never got any telegram," said Migwan.

"I suppose it'll get here to-morrow," said Nyoda resignedly. "The
telegraph operator in St. Margaret's was also the postmaster, and I have
a suspicion that he was also the expressman, and his messages piled up
on him at times. I got your letter about Veronica yesterday and started
for home immediately. Now tell me everything exactly as it happened."

She listened with wide-open eyes to the tale which Sahwah, assisted by
the other three, poured out excitedly.

At the mention of Veronica's mysterious errands from the house, which
had brought suspicion down upon her, Nyoda suddenly turned white and
clutched the newel post for support.

"Oh, if I had only known!" she cried wildly. "If I had only been here!
Oh, the poor, poor child, why didn't she tell?" Nyoda sank down on the
stairs and buried her face in her hands, while the Winnebagos stood
around with wondering, startled faces.

Then she looked up at the girls and began to speak.

"Girls," she said in an awed tone, "I simply can't find words to tell
you what Veronica has done. No one could express in seven languages the
depth of her loyalty to a friend. She has kept a promise of silence
about a certain matter at a cost to herself that surpasses belief. But
here and now I absolve her from that promise, and propose to tell you
the whole matter which has so puzzled and tormented you with its
mystery, although it is a matter I urgently wished to keep secret.

"You probably do not know that my husband has a younger brother,
Clement, who was a brilliant scholar and a fine musician. His health had
always been frail, and he overstudied in college, with the result that
in the middle of his junior year he broke down altogether and was ill
for a long time. Worry about his condition finally affected his mind and
he became quite melancholy at times and mentally unbalanced. It was
nothing permanent, the doctors said, and the mental trouble would pass
away if he regained his health, but Clement was morbidly sensitive about
it and was terribly afraid people would find it out and consider him
crazy all the rest of his life, and that his career would be ruined by
it

"His distress was so keen that my husband brought him to a little
cottage here on the outskirts of Oakwood that stands far back from one
of the unfrequented roads, almost hidden by the trees, and established
him there with a young doctor friend and an old housekeeper who had been
in the family for years and had looked after Clem since he was a
youngster. None of his friends knew where he was nor what was the matter
with him, so he was safe from the publicity he feared. He began to
improve with the quiet outdoor life he led, but still there were times
when he grew so melancholy that they feared he would kill himself. He
was passionately fond of violin music, and we soon found out he could be
speedily brought out of his melancholy fits by the sound of his favorite
instrument.

"So I brought Veronica down here this summer, and her playing worked a
miracle every time. Whenever Clem grew despondent they would telephone
for Veronica and she would go over and play for him. When she went out
of the house in the daytime to go over, she went through the cellar
passage that opens out into the spring house on the side of the hill, so
you girls would not see her leaving with her violin."

A light broke in Sahwah's brain. That was why she had not heard Veronica
going out of the front door that afternoon when she disappeared so
mysteriously!

"But he usually had those spells at night," continued Nyoda, "because
he was always sleepless, but no matter what time it was she would always
go and play for him, and the magic strains of her violin would put him
to sleep and drive away the melancholy. Of course, I asked her to keep
the matter a secret, and never breathe a word about Clem's existence to
anybody, and she promised. How little did I guess what it was going to
cost her to keep that secret!"

The Winnebagos looked at each other in wonder and awe at the thought of
this fiery little wisp of nobility who would not break her word of honor
even to clear herself of unjust suspicion. Then with one voice they
broke out in a wild cheer of admiration and acclaim that sent the echoes
flying through the quiet old house:

  "Oh, Veronica, here's to you,
  Our hearts will e'er be true,
  We will never find your equal
  Though we search the whole world through !"



CHAPTER XXI


"In consequence of distinguished service rendered your country, I hearby
grant you a full and unconditional pardon!" Nyoda, as leader of the
Court Martial, addressed these thrilling words to Kaiser Bill, who stood
in the center of a solemn conclave, gathered on the lawn of Carver House
to reverse the death sentence passed upon him two weeks before. Once
more the Winnebagos had a heart for nonsense, for Veronica stood in
their midst again, cleared from every breath of suspicion. She and
Sahwah stood with their arms around each other, laughingly looking on at
the process of unsentencing Kaiser Bill to death. Slim and the Captain
were there, too, come to say good-bye to the girls before leaving their
tent in the woods. They had finished their surveying job and were moving
on that day. They arrived on the scene just as the Court Martial sat to
act upon the Kaiser's pardon. Kaiser Bill received the news of his
pardon without emotion, hardly looking at his pardoners, and evincing a
great show of interest in the process of paving the street in front of
Carver House, which was going on at the time.

"He's got his eye on those bricks out there, and the first thing you
know he'll be out there trying to eat them," said Nyoda with a comical
sigh, realizing how impossible it was to interest the Kaiser in
anything, even a thing so momentous as his own pardon, when there was
anything in sight that looked as if it might be good to eat.

Nyoda laughed and went on with the ceremony as mapped out beforehand.
"And in further consideration of the great service you have rendered
your country, this court has decided to change your name from Kaiser
Bill to Sherlock Holmes, as more fitting your great detective skill.
Never again will you hear the hateful name of 'Kaiser Bill' applied to
yourself. Sherlock Holmes, we salute you!" The Winnebagos raised their
right hands in formal salute.

"Furthermore," continued Nyoda, "we have decided----"

"There he goes!" shrieked Sahwah, as the newly christened Sherlock
Holmes broke away from their flattering midst, cleared the fence at a
bound and made straight for the pile of bricks that had started his
mouth to watering.

"He'll get run over if he doesn't look out!" shouted the Captain as a
truck loaded with sand rapidly approached the brick pile. "Hi, there,
look out!" he called warningly.

But the warning came too late, for Sherlock Holmes was already under the
wheels, with the whole weight of the truck on top of him, and by the
time it had come to a stop he was a limp, lifeless wreck of a goat.

The Winnebagos flocked out into the street and looked at his remains,
and almost wept as poor old Hercules heartbrokenly lifted up the body of
his slain darling. The Italian laborers threw down their tools and
gathered around them and a crowd collected from all sides.

"Why didn't you turn aside?" exclaimed the Captain to the driver of the
truck, who seemed to be the only one not sorry about the accident, and
muttered angrily in answer to the Captain's question. He looked
defiantly at the Winnebagos and at Hercules fondling the dead goat, and
then he actually laughed at them. "Serves the beast right," he muttered,
and Sahwah, looking indignantly at him, saw that his left hand reached
up for his ear, pulled down the lobe and released it with a jerk. A
little electric thrill went through Sahwah at the sight of that gesture.
There was only one person she had ever seen do that. That person was the
artist, Eugene Prince. In spite of the black matted hair that covered
the man's forehead, in spite of the black beard that covered the lower
half of his face, the tattered cap, the blue shirt and shabby working
clothes covered with red brick dust, something seemed to tell her that
this was the man the federal officers were now searching for high and
low.

"That's the spy!" she shouted at the top of her voice, to the utter
amazement of the others, but the driver started as if he had been shot.

Immediately Slim and the Captain jumped on him and he fought like a
tiger to get free. Others in the crowd came to the rescue and before
long Waldemar von Oldenbach was safely locked up, minus his black wig
and false beard, awaiting the arrival of Agent Sanders. With his native
cunning he had decided that the safest place for him was to stay right
in Oakwood after the discovery of the contents of his sketching
portfolio, because everyone would think he would try to escape. So he
had disguised himself as a foreign laborer and joined a gang that was
paving the street, the last place where anyone would look for him, and
he would probably never have been discovered if he had not run down the
goat that had discovered his secret in the first place. Even then, no
one would ever have looked for Waldemar von Oldenbach in the person of
that swarthy, unkempt laborer, if it had not been for the sharp eyes of
Sahwah the Sunfish, who noticed everything, and never forgot anything
she saw. Her remembering the peculiar gesture of the artist had been his
undoing.

Sahwah was once more the heroine of the Winnebagos. "How did you ever
do it?" said Hinpoha enviously.

"Oh, I just noticed it," replied Sahwah without laying any claim
whatever to detective ability. Sahwah's ability to talk about her
achievements was as short as her power to think and act was long.

When Agent Sanders came to Oakwood to take the artist away with him he
asked to see the Winnebagos and complimented them all highly upon the
help they had given in catching the wily lieutenant, von Oldenbach. "I
wish to express the thanks of the government," he said formally, "in
consequence of the distinguished service rendered your country----"

Sahwah giggled out loud, and Agent Sanders paused and looked at her with
an inquiring expression.

"That's just what Nyoda said to Kaiser Bill!" said Sahwah, with another
giggle. Then they all laughed, and the Winnebagos discovered that Agent
Sanders' eyes were as kindly as they were sharp.

The Winnebagos held a jubilee that night on the Council Rock with Nyoda.
She was going back to St. Margaret's in a few days because Sherry would
be in the hospital for some time yet and she wanted to be with him until
he was well, so the visit of the Winnebagos to Carver House had come to
a close. Lieutenant Allison had been taken back to his camp that
afternoon, right after he had seen and identified Lieutenant von
Oldenbach. He still wore Sahwah's picture around his neck when he left,
but it was now inclosed in Sahwah's own locket, and there was a fresh
entry in his address book, as there was also in Sahwah's. The smashed
plane had been taken away from the Devil's Punch Bowl and there was
nothing in the placidly murmuring water to hint at the tragedy that had
almost taken place. High up over the water, on the Council Rock, the
Winnebagos held solemn ceremonial.

"Well," said Hinpoha in a tone of deep satisfaction, "the Winnebagos
have done their bit. I take it all back about things never happening out
of books and girls never having a chance to do anything for their
country. We've had our chance, and we've gone over the top!" she
proclaimed triumphantly.

The faces of all the Winnebagos shone with satisfied ambition.

"It was all true, the fortune you told Sahwah," said Migwan in a hushed
voice. "The other man came into her life, too, the man who was light
first and dark afterward!"

"I told you so!" exclaimed Hinpoha triumphantly.

"Talking about 'going over the top,'" said Nyoda seriously, when the
murmur of wonder over Hinpoha's marvelous powers of prophecy had died
away, "I think that two of you Winnebagos have 'gone over the top' on
little excursions of your own, and ought to be decorated for courageous
conduct under fire. Veronica Lehar, you have shown a strength of
character before which we bow in humble admiration, and from this day on
you shall be called Torch Bearer." Then she added fervently, "May we all
love this country of ours as much as you do!"

Veronica turned great shining eyes on Nyoda, and her swiftly rising
emotions almost choked her. Her great love for her new country had never
failed, even though that country had looked upon her suspiciously. "The
light of liberty that had been given to me I will pass undimmed unto
others!" she exclaimed fervently.

"And this girl, too, has proved her mettle," said Nyoda, drawing
Oh-Pshaw to her side and smiling into her wondering eyes. Oh-Pshaw had
told Nyoda how she had sung to forget about the gurgling water in the
Punch Bowl and how all of a sudden she had not been afraid any more, but
she herself never realized what she had accomplished that night, and did
not connect it at all with what Nyoda was saying now.

Then Nyoda related to the girls how Oh-Pshaw had fought with Fear down
there in the darkness all alone, fought with the fear that was in her
bones and had always mastered her, and how for the sake of another she
had conquered it and was now free from its strangling clutch. She told
them how the fear had come into Oh-Pshaw and what a great victory it was
that she had won over herself down there beside the Devil's Punch Bowl.

"And for that victory over yourself you shall also be known as Torch
Bearer, for she who conquers herself for the sake of others is worthy to
lead others."

Oh-Pshaw stared at her blankly, unbelievingly for a moment, and then a
great joy came into her face when she realized that she had achieved her
heart's desire.

"Oh, Nyoda!" was all she said, but Nyoda understood, and the other Torch
Bearers, having had that same emotion themselves once upon a time, also
understood.

Agony stared down steadily into her lap. She had experienced the first
great jolt of her life. For the first time in her life Oh-Pshaw had gone
up above her. For the first time she realized that there were qualities
in others that counted more than her own brilliant gift of leading the
crowd without effort. For the first time she had come up against
something that she could not get by demanding it, something that had to
be won by honest, painful effort. At first astonishment that she had not
been named filled her to the exclusion of all other emotions, then she
felt terribly humiliated, and then, as she began to think of the
qualities she _didn't_ possess she began to feel very humble. Nyoda
watched her closely and knew just about what was taking place in her
mind. There was wonderful stuff in Agony, she knew, and as soon as the
right spirit guided her she would make a leader beyond compare. So Nyoda
had given her this great jolt to-night, knowing that it was the thing
she needed to set her facing around in the right direction. She walked
beside Agony as they went home through the woods, talking cheerfully all
the way, and made no comment on Agony's unusual silence. Agony shed some
tears into her pillow that night after Oh-Pshaw was asleep in the bed
beside her, smiling happily in the moonlight that streamed in through
the window. Then her gameness came to the top and she made up her mind
to let Oh-Pshaw make the most of her one triumph over her and not spoil
it by acting jealous.

"And some day I'll do something myself that will make me worthy to be
called Torch Bearer," she resolved as she reached under the pillow for a
dry handkerchief.

       *       *       *       *       *

Sahwah stood before the portrait of Elizabeth Carver in the long drawing
room, paying her fare-well visit. The suitcases of the departing
Winnebagos were piled on the porch outside, waiting for the moment of
departure. The great air of respect and deference, tinged with envy,
that Sahwah had heretofore worn when she addressed Elizabeth Carver had
given way to an air of conscious equality.

"Elizabeth," said Sahwah solemnly, "I've had a romantic adventure, too.
We're twins now, you and I. I don't believe I'd care to go back and
change places with you after all; a modern girl has so much more chance
for adventure! Life is very interesting, Elizabeth, and I'm _so_
thankful to have been a part of things that were happening."

Her mind went back over all the events that had taken place since the
first time she had stood in the long drawing room at Carver House and
looked up at the picture of Elizabeth Carver.

"Hasn't it been a summer, though!" she said with a reminiscent sigh.
"What _do_ you suppose will happen next?"

And Elizabeth Carver, looking down from her frame, smiled knowingly.


THE END





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search solutions for business and government.  The company's award-winning
software suite offers a broad range of search, navigation and discovery
solutions for desktop search, intranet search, SharePoint search and embedded
search applications.  ISYS has been deployed by thousands of organizations
operating in a variety of industries, including government, legal, law
enforcement, financial services, healthcare and recruitment.



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