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Title: The Camp Fire Girls in the Mountains - or Bessie King's Strange Adventure
Author: Stewart, Jane L.
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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[Illustration: Cover art]



[Frontispiece: The motor boat kept dashing back and forth, making
swimming almost impossible.]



CAMP FIRE GIRLS SERIES, VOLUME IV



The Camp Fire Girls

In the Mountains


or

Bessie King's Strange Adventure


by

JANE L. STEWART



THE SAALFIELD PUBLISHING COMPANY

Chicago ---- AKRON, OHIO ---- New York

MADE IN U. S. A.



Copyright, 1914

By

The Saalfield Publishing Co.



THE CAMP FIRE GIRLS SERIES

  1. THE CAMP FIRE GIRLS IN THE WOODS
  2. THE CAMP FIRE GIRLS ON THE FARM
  3. THE CAMP FIRE GIRLS AT LONG LAKE
  4. THE CAMP FIRE GIRLS IN THE MOUNTAINS
  5. THE CAMP FIRE GIRLS ON THE MARCH
  6. THE CAMP FIRE GIRLS AT THE SEASHORE



TABLE OF CONTENTS

    I.  PEACEFUL DAYS
   II.  FOREBODINGS OF TROUBLE
  III.  A NEW PLAN
   IV.  A FRIEND IN TROUBLE
    V.  A TANGLED NET
   VI.  BESSIE KING'S PLUCK
  VII.  BACK AT LONG LAKE
 VIII.  A NOVEL RACE
   IX.  THE PATHFINDERS
    X.  THE SIGNAL SMOKES
   XI.  OFF TO THE MOUNTAINS
  XII.  ENEMIES WITHOUT CAUSE
 XIII.  A PLAN OF REVENGE
  XIV.  THE SPIRIT OF WO-HE-LO
   XV.  COALS OF FIRE



The Camp Fire Girls In the Mountains


CHAPTER I

PEACEFUL DAYS

On the shores of Long Lake the dozen girls who made up the Manasquan
Camp Fire of the Camp Fire Girls of America were busily engaged in
preparing for a friendly contest and matching of skill that had caused
the greatest excitement among the girls ever since they had learned
that it was to take place.

For the first time since the organization of the Camp Fire under the
guardianship of Miss Eleanor Mercer, the girls were living with no aid
but their own.  They did all the work of the camp; even the rough work,
which, in any previous camping expedition of more than one or two days,
men had done for them.  For Miss Mercer, the Guardian, felt that one of
the great purposes of the Camp Fire movement was to prove that girls
and women could be independent of men when the need came.

It was her idea that before the coming of the Camp Fire idea girls had
been too willing to look to their brothers and their other men folks
for services which they should be able, in case of need, to perform for
themselves, and that, as a consequence, when suddenly deprived of the
support of their natural helpers and protectors, many girls were in a
particularly helpless and unfortunate position.  So the Camp Fire
movement, designed to give girls self-reliance and the ability to do
without outside help, struck her as an ideal means of correcting what
she regarded as faults in the modern methods of educating women.

Before the camp on Long Lake was broken up they hoped to have a
ceremonial camp fire, but there were gatherings almost every night
around the big fire that was not a luxury and an ornament at Long Lake,
but a sheer necessity, since the nights were cool, and at times chilly.
This fire was never allowed to go out, but burned night and day,
although, of course, it reached its full height and beauty after dark,
when the flames shot up high and sent grotesque shadows dancing under
and among the trees, and on the sandy beach which had been selected as
the ideal location for the camp.

At these meetings everyone had a chance to speak.  Miss Eleanor, or
Wanaka, as she was called in the ceremonial meetings, did not attempt
to control the talk on these occasions.  She only led it and tried, at
times, to guide it into some particular channel.  It would have been
easy for her to impress her own personality on the girls in her charge,
since they not only admired, but loved her, but she preferred the
expression of their own thoughts, and she knew, also, that to
accomplish her own purpose and that of the founders of the Camp Fire,
it was necessary for the girls to develop along their own lines, so
that when they reached maturity they would have formed the habit of
thinking things out for themselves and knowing the reason for things,
as well as the facts concerned.

"I think we're too likely to forget the old days when this country was
being explored and opened up," Eleanor said one night.  "Out west that
isn't so, and out there, if you notice, women play a much bigger part
than they do here.  Those states in the far west, across the
Mississippi, give women the right to vote as soon as women show that
they want it.  They are more ready to do that than the states in the
east."

"Why is that, Wanaka?" asked Margery Burton, one of the Fire-Makers of
the Camp Fire.

"In the west," said Eleanor, answering the question, "men and women
both find it easier to remember the old days of the pioneers, when the
women did so much to make the building of our new country possible.
They faced the hardships with the men.  They did their share of the
work.  They travelled across the desert with them, and, often, when the
Indians made attacks, the women used guns with the men."

"But there isn't any chance for women to do that sort of thing now,"
said Dolly Ransom, or Kiama, as she was known in the ceremonial
meetings.  "The Indians don't fight, and the pioneer days are all over."

"They'll never be over until this country is a perfect place to live
in, Dolly, and it isn't--not yet.  Some people are rich, and some are
poor, and I'm afraid it will always be that way, because it has always
been so.  But everyone ought to have a chance to rise, no matter how
poor his or her parents are.  That was the idea this country was built
on.  You know the words of the Declaration of Independence, don't you?
That all men are created free and equal?  This was the first country to
proclaim that."

"But what is there to do about that?"

"Ever so many things, Dolly.  Some men who have money use it to get
power they shouldn't have, to make people work without proper
conditions, and for too little money.  Oh, there are all sorts of
things to be made right!  And one reason that some of them have gone
wrong is that women who have plenty of comforts, and people to look
after them, have forgotten about the others.  There is as much work for
women to do now as there ever was in the pioneer days--more, I think."

"The Camp Fire Girls are going to try to make things better, aren't
they, Wanaka?" asked Margery Burton.  For once she wasn't laughing, so
that her ceremonial name of Minnehaha might not have seemed
appropriate.  But as a rule she was always happy and smiling, and the
name was really the best she could have chosen for herself.

"Yes, indeed," said Eleanor.  "So far we've been pretty busy thinking
about ourselves, and doing things for ourselves, but there has been a
reason for that."

"What reason, Miss Eleanor?" asked Dolly.

"Well, it's hard to get much done unless you're in the right condition
to do it.  You know when an athlete is going to run in a long race, he
doesn't just go out and run.  He trains for it a long time before he is
to run, and gets his body in fine condition.  And it's the same with a
man who has some mental task.  If he has to pass an examination, for
instance, he studies and prepares his mind.  That's what we have to do;
prepare our minds and bodies.  In the city, in the winter, we will take
up a lot of these things.  I'm just mentioning them to you now so that
you can think about them and won't be surprised when we start to go
into them seriously."

"I know something I've thought about myself," said Dolly, eagerly.  "In
some of the stores at home they have seats so that the girls can sit
down when they don't have to wait on people.  And in some they don't.
But in the stores where they do have them, the girls get more done, and
one of them told me once that she felt ever so much stronger and better
when the rush came in the afternoon, if she'd been able to sit down
instead of standing up all day."

"Of course.  And that's a splendid idea, Dolly.  Some of the stores
make the girls stand up all day long, because they think it pleases the
women who come in to shop.  But if you could make those store keepers
see that they'd really get more work done by the girls if they let them
rest when the stores are empty, they'd soon provide the chairs, even if
the law didn't make them do it."

"This place looks as if pioneers might have lived here, Wanaka," said
Margery Burton.

"They passed along here once, Margery, years and years ago, but they
were going on, and they didn't stop.  You see, the reason this country
has stayed so wild is that it's hard to get at.  The trees haven't been
cleared away, and roads haven't been built."

"Isn't it good land?  Wouldn't it pay to plough it, after the trees
were cut down?" asked Bessie King.

"It would, and it wouldn't, Bessie.  It's just about the same sort of
land as in the valleys below, where there are some of the best farms in
the whole state.  But we need the forests, too.  You know why, don't
you?"

"No, I don't," said Bessie, after a moment's thought.  "I know they're
beautiful, and that it's splendid for people to be able to come up here
and live, and camp out.  But that isn't the only reason, is it?"

"No, it isn't even anywhere near the most important, Bessie.  You know
what a dry summer means, don't you?  You lived long enough on Paw
Hoover's farm at Hedgeville to know that?"

"Yes, indeed!  It's bad for the crops; they all get burned up.  We had
a drought two or three years ago.  It never rained at all, except for
little showers that didn't do any good, all through July and August,
and for most of June, as well.  Paw Hoover was all broken up about it.
He said one or two more summers like that would put him in the
poor-house."

"Well, if there weren't any forests, all our summers would be like
that.  The woods are great storehouses of moisture, and they have a lot
to do with the rain.  Countries where they don't have forests, like
Australia, are very dry.  And that's the reason."

"They have something to do with floods, too, don't they, Wanaka?" asked
Dolly.  "I think I read something like that, or heard someone say so."

"They certainly have.  In winter it rains a good deal, and snows, and
if there are great stretches of woods, the trees store up all that
moisture.  But if there are no trees, it all comes down at once, in the
spring, and that's one of the chief reasons for those terrible floods
and freshets that do so much damage, and kill so many people."

"But if that's so, why are the trees cut down so often?"

"That's just one of the things I was talking about.  Some men are
selfish, you see.  They buy the land and the trees, and they never
think, or seem to care, how other people are affected when they start
cutting.  They say it's their land, and their timber; that they paid
for it."

"Well, I suppose it is--"

"Yes, but like most selfish people, they are short-sighted.  It is very
easy to cut timber so that no harm is done, and in some countries that
really are as free and progressive as ours, things are managed much
better.  We waste a whole forest and leave the land bare and full of
stumps.  Then, you see, it isn't any use as a storehouse for moisture,
which nature intended it to be, and neither is it any use to the timber
cutters, so that they have to move on somewhere else."

"Could they manage that differently?"

"Yes, if they would only cut a certain number of trees in any
particular part of the woods in any one year, and would always plant
new ones for every one that is taken out, there wouldn't be such a
dreadful waste, and the forests would keep on growing.  That's the way
it is usually done abroad--in Germany, and in Russia, and places like
that.  Over there they make ever so much more money than we do out of
forests, because they have studied them, and know just how everything
ought to be done."

"Don't we do anything like that at all?"

"Yes, we're beginning to now.  The United States government, and a good
many of the states, have seemed to wake up in the last few years to the
need of looking after the woods better, and so I really believe that in
the future things will be managed much better.  But there has been a
terrible lot of waste, here and in Canada, that it will take years to
repair."

"They don't spoil the woods about here that way, do they?"

"No; but then, you see, this is a private preserve, and one of the
reasons it is so well looked after is that some of the men who own it
like to come here for the shooting."

"I know," said Margery.  "I thought that was why the guides were kept
here."

"It is, but it's only one reason.  A few miles away, if we go that way,
I can show you acres and acres of woods that were burned two years ago,
and you never saw such a desolate spot in all your life.  It's
beginning to look a little better now, because, if you give nature a
chance, she will always repair the damage that men do from
carelessness, and from not knowing any better."

"Oh, I think it would be dreadful for all these lovely woods to be
burned up!  And that wouldn't do anyone any good, would it?"

"Of course not!  That's the pitiful part of it.  But a terrible lot of
fires do start in the woods almost every year.  You see, after a hot,
dry summer, when there hasn't been much rain, the woods catch fire
easily, and a small fire, if it isn't stamped out at once, grows and
spreads very fast, so that it soon gets to be almost impossible to put
out at all."

"I saw a forest fire once, in the distance," said Dolly.  "It was when
I was out west, and it looked as if the whole world was burning up."

"I expect it did, Dolly.  And if you'd been closer, you'd have seen how
hard the rangers and everyone in the neighboring towns had to fight to
get control of that fire.  It doesn't seem as if they could burn as
fast as they do, but they're terrible.  It's the hardest fire of all to
put out, if it once gets away.  That's why we have such strict rules
about never leaving a camping place without putting out a fire."

"Would one of the little fires we make when we stop on the trail for
lunch start a great big blaze?"

"It certainly would.  It's happened just that way lots and lots of
times.  Many campers are careless, and don't seem to realize that a
very few sparks will be enough to start the dry leaves burning.
Sometimes people see that their fire is just going out, as they think,
and they don't feel that it's necessary to pour water on it and make
sure that it's really dead.  You see, the fire stays in the embers of a
wood fire a long, long time, smouldering, after it seems to be out, and
then--well, can't you guess what might happen?"

"I suppose the wind might come up, and start sparks flying?"

"That's exactly what does happen.  Why, in the big forest preserves out
west they have men in little watch-towers on the high spots in the
hills, who don't do anything but look for smoke and signs of a fire.
They have big telescopes, and when they see anything suspicious they
make signals from one tower to the next, and tell where the fire is.
Then all the rangers and watchers run for the fire, and sometimes, if
it's been seen soon enough, they can put it out before it gets to be
really dangerous."

"Well, I know now why I've got to be careful," said Dolly.  "I wouldn't
start a fire for anything!"

"Good!  And I think it's time to sing the good-night song!"



CHAPTER II

FOREBODINGS OF TROUBLE

"I think we'll beat those old Boy Scouts easily when we have that field
day, Bessie," said Dolly Ransom to her chum, Bessie King.  "Look at the
way we beat them in the swimming match the other day."

A friendly rivalry between the Camp Fire Girls and the Boy Scouts of a
troop that was camping at a lake some miles away had led, a short time
before, to a swimming contest in which skill, and not speed and
strength, had been the determining factors, and, vastly to the surprise
and disgust of the boys, the girls had had the best of them.

"We don't want to be over-confident," said Bessie.  "You know they
thought we were easy, and I don't believe they tried as hard as they
might have done.  After all, girls and boys aren't the same, and if
boys are any good, they're stronger and better at games than girls, no
matter how good the girls are."

"Oh, they tried right enough," said Dolly.  "They just couldn't do it,
that's all."

"Another thing, Dolly, we've got to remember, is that those weren't
races.  If they had been we'd have been beaten, because those boys
could really swim a lot faster than we could.  It was just a case of
doing certain things and doing them just the right way.  Anyone can
learn that if they're patient enough, and it's not really very
important.  I'm glad we won, because I think boys sometimes get the
idea that girls can't do anything, and it's just as well for them to
find out that we can."

"You're getting on, Bessie.  When you first came from Hedgeville you
wouldn't have believed that, or, if you had, you wouldn't have said it."

"Oh, I think I would have, Dolly.  You know about the only boy I had
much to do with in those days was Jake Hoover, and you saw him when he
tried to help get me back where I'd be bound over to that Farmer Weeks
until I was grown up."

"That's so, Bessie.  You wouldn't have much use for boys if you thought
they were all like him, would you?"

"I know they're not, though, Dolly.  So I never got any such foolish
ideas."

"What sort of things will we do in this field day, Bessie?  Do you
know?"

"Not exactly.  Miss Mercer hasn't arranged everything yet with their
Scoutmaster, Mr. Hastings.  You know the reason we're going to have it
is that Mr. Hastings used to tease Miss Mercer about the Camp Fire
Girls."

"That's what I thought.  He said we really couldn't manage by
ourselves, didn't he, if we were caught out in the woods without a man
to do a lot of things for us?"

"I think he did.  They say a lot of the Boy Scouts think the Camp Fire
Girls are just imitating them, and that isn't so at all, because I got
Miss Eleanor to tell me all about it.  The Camp Fire Girls are more
serious.  They want to prepare girls to make good homes, and look after
them properly, and to help them to make things better in their own
homes.

"The Boy Scouts were organized partly to give boys something to do, and
to keep them out in the open air as much as possible, to make the boys
stronger, and healthier, and keep them from being idle and getting into
mischief."

"Well, that's what we're for, too, isn't it?"

"Yes, but not so much.  Girls don't get into just the same sort of
mischief that boys do, so it's a different thing altogether.  But,
anyhow, Miss Eleanor says it's silly for one to laugh and jeer at the
other; that all the Camp Fire people, the ones who are at the head of
the movement, approve of the Boy Scouts and think it's a fine thing,
and that most of the men who started the Boy Scout movement are
interested in the Camp Fire, too."

"Then she's going to try to prove that we really can manage by
ourselves?"

"Yes.  And I think the idea is for their troop of Boy Scouts and our
Camp Fire to make a march on the same day, going about the same
distance, and doing everything without any help at all; cooking meals,
finding water, making camp, getting firewood, and everything of that
sort.  A certain time is to be allowed for eating, and we are to make
smoke signals when we reach the camping place, and again when we leave.
There aren't to be any matches; all fires are to be made by rubbing
sticks together.  We're to cook just the same sort of meals, and the
party that gets back to the starting point first wins."

"We're not to go together, then?"

"No.  Won't it be much more exciting?  You see, we won't know how
nearly finished they are.  And they won't be able to see how fast we
are working.  So each side ought to work just as fast as it can.  It's
a new sort of a race, and I think it will be great sport."

"Oh, so do I!  We're each to spend the same amount of time eating?"

"Yes, because if we didn't, one side could hurry through its meal, or
eat almost nothing at all, and get a start that way.  And there's no
object in eating fast.  It's to see how quietly we can march and
prepare our food and clean up afterward that we're having the test.  It
isn't to be exactly like a race.  The idea is to get as much fun and
good exercise out of it as anything else."

"Still it really will be a race, because each side will want to win.
Don't the Boy Scouts have contests like that among themselves,
sometimes?"

"Oh, yes.  That's where the idea came from, of course."

"My, Bessie, but I'm glad everything is so quiet around here now!  It
doesn't seem possible that we've had such exciting times since we've
been here, does it?"

"You mean about the gypsy who mistook you for me and tried to kidnap
you?"

"Yes.  I think he's safe for a time now.  Did you see Andrew, the
guide, when he came in to tell Miss Eleanor about how they'd taken
those gypsies down to the town, where the sheriff took hold of them?"

"No.  What did he say?"

"Why, it seems that on the way down, John--he's the one who actually
carried me off, you know--tried to bribe them and get them to let him
go free.  He said he had a friend who would pay a whole lot of money if
they would let him escape, and they could pretend that he just got
away, so that no one would ever know that they had had anything to do
with it."

"I suppose they just laughed at him?"

"They certainly did, and tied him up a little tighter, so that there
wouldn't be any chance of his managing to get away."

"Did he want them to let Lolla and Peter go, too?"

"No, that's the funny part of it.  He didn't seem to care at all what
happened to them, so long as he didn't have to go to jail.  He's just
as mean as a snake, Bessie.  I've got no use for him at all."

"He was glad enough to have them help him when he wanted to get hold of
us, Dolly.  But when he saw a chance to desert them he didn't remember
that, I suppose.  What did Andrew think they would do to them?"

"Well, he didn't know.  He said that when the people in the town heard
what the gypsies had done they were pretty mad, but, of course, they
didn't really start to do anything to hurt them.  The sheriff said he'd
see that they were kept tight until they could be tried, and Andrew
guessed they wouldn't have much chance of getting off when the people
around the town would be on the jury.  The men in those parts haven't
any use for gypsies, you see, and they'd be pretty sure to see to it
that they were properly punished."

"I wouldn't mind seeing Lolla get off, Dolly.  I don't think she's as
bad as the others."

"Oh, I do, Bessie.  I think she's worse.  Why, she did her best to get
you into the same trap I was in!  She was treacherous and lied to you."

"I know all that, too, Dolly.  But it was because John made her do it.
He frightened her, I think, and besides that she's going to be married
to him, and among the gypsies a woman isn't supposed to do any thinking
when her husband tells her to do something.  She just has to do it,
whether she thinks it's right or not.  It isn't as if she had planned
the whole thing out."

"Well, she hurt you more than she did me.  If you don't want her to be
punished, I don't see why I should."

"I don't think I want anyone to be punished, Dolly.  But it isn't just
what I want that counts, and I suppose that if that man John got off so
easily it would be a bad thing, because if he's punished it may
frighten some others who'd be ready to do the same thing, and make them
understand that they'd better be careful before they do things that are
against the law."

"Well, I'd like to see him in jail, just to get even for the fright he
gave me when he snatched me up and carried me off through the woods.
And he left me there in that place he found, too, with a handkerchief
in my mouth, and tied up so that I couldn't move, so I don't see why I
shouldn't be glad to see him suffering himself.  It was awful, Bessie,
and if you hadn't followed me and had a chance to sneak in there and
cheer me up, I don't know what I would have done."

"We'll have to tell what we know about what happened to us, I suppose,"
said Bessie.  "I don't like the idea of that, but Miss Eleanor says we
can't help it; that the law will make us do it."

"Oh, I think it will be good fun.  We'll get our names in the
newspapers, Bessie, and maybe there will be pictures of us.  I won't
have any trouble telling them, either.  I don't believe I'll ever
forget the things that happened to us that day, if I live to be a
hundred years old."

"No, neither shall I."

They had no more chance to discuss the matter, for just then they heard
the voice of Eleanor Mercer, the Guardian of their Camp Fire, calling
them.  When they answered her call, finding her in the opening of her
own tent, her face was very grave.

"I've just had a letter from Charlie Jamieson, my cousin, the lawyer,"
she said.  "I wrote to him about the extraordinary attempt that this
gypsy made to kidnap Dolly, and of how certain we were that Mr. Holmes
was back of it."

"I wish we knew why Mr. Holmes is so anxious to get hold of me, or to
get me into the same state I came from, so that Farmer Weeks can keep
me there until I'm twenty-one," said Bessie, looking worried.

"I wish so, too, Bessie," said Eleanor, anxiously.  "I don't know how
much Dolly knows about this business, but I'm very much afraid that she
may be drawn into it from now on.  And Mr. Jamieson agrees with me."

"Why, how is that possible?" asked Bessie.  "You don't mean that they
may try to take her away?"

"I don't know, Bessie.  That's the worst part of it.  You see, they may
think she knows too much for it to be safe to leave her out of any
plans they are making now.  We don't know what those plans are.  This
last time, you see, Mr. Holmes evidently thought he had a splendid
chance to get hold of you through this gypsy, without being suspected
himself."

"He thought everyone would just blame the gypsy and never think about
him at all, you mean?"

"You see, the gypsy misunderstood--or rather Mr. Holmes misled him by
accident.  He thought Dolly was Bessie, and the other way around.  So
Dolly really suffered in your place that time, Bessie."

"I'm very glad I did!" said Dolly, stoutly.

"I know that, Dolly.  You're not selfish, no matter what your other
faults may be.  But I think you've got to understand just what we know
about the reasons for all this, though it isn't very much.  Bessie
doesn't know much about her parents.  They left her--because they had
to--when she was a very small girl, in charge of Mr. and Mrs. Hoover,
farmers, in Hedgeville."

"I know about that, Miss Eleanor.  The place where we first met Bessie
and Zara, you mean."

"Yes.  And Mrs. Hoover and her son Jake didn't treat Bessie well.  In
fact, they treated her so badly that finally she ran away.  You know
that the Camp Fire thinks people ought to stay at home, even if things
aren't very pleasant, but Bessie was quite right, I believe, to run
away then, because they had no real claim to her."

"I should say she was!"

"Well, you know about Bessie's chum, Zara, too.  Her father was in
trouble, and was to be arrested.  And when Zara and Bessie found out
that Zara was to be taken by this Mr. Weeks, a miser and a money
lender, Zara ran away, too, and we Camp Fire Girls helped them to get
away from that state and have been looking after them since."

"And then they stole Zara away!"

"No, not exactly.  They lied to Zara, and told her things that made her
willing to go with them.  Mr. Holmes seems to have been responsible for
that.  You remember yourself how Mr. Holmes tricked you and Bessie into
going for a ride with him in his automobile, when we were all at the
farm?"

"I certainly do!  I ought to, because all the trouble we had then was
my own fault."

"Well, never mind that, because, as it turned out, it was owing to that
ride that we got Zara back.  She's with us now, and we are going to try
to keep her, and get her father out of prison, because Mr. Jamieson is
sure he is innocent.  But we've got to be mighty careful, because we
don't know how Mr. Holmes happens to be mixed up with Farmer Weeks, and
why either of them should care anything about Bessie and Zara and
Zara's father.  That's why I wanted to be sure that you understood as
much as we do ourselves."

"I see, and I'll promise to be as careful as I can, Miss Eleanor.  I
wouldn't get Bessie or Zara into any more trouble for the world."

"I know you wouldn't, Dolly, and I hope it won't be very long before
the whole thing is straightened out.  Mr. Jamieson is working hard to
try to find out what it is all about, and I think he's sure to find out
soon.  This letter I had from him today is a new warning, really.  He
says Mr. Holmes has hired lawyers to try to get that gypsy off."

"That proves that he hired him, too, I should think," said Bessie.

"It seems to, certainly, but I'm afraid it isn't legal proof, even
though it satisfies us.  But the chief point is that Mr. Jamieson is
worried about you two when you have to testify."



CHAPTER III

A NEW PLAN

"Why, there couldn't be anything they could do to us then, I should
think!" exclaimed Dolly.

"I hope not," said Miss Mercer.  "But, well, we've had reason to learn
to be careful when we're dealing with these people.  And Mr. Jamieson
seems to think that the thing to fear most is the other gypsies."

"I thought of that, too," said Bessie, gravely.  "They stick to one
another, don't they?"

"Yes, they certainly do.  They're very clannish.  And Mr. Holmes, I'm
afraid, is clever enough and unscrupulous enough to be willing to use
them for his own purposes.  He wouldn't tell them directly what he
wanted, you see.  He'd just hire someone who was clever enough to get
them inflamed and worked up to the point of being willing to hurt you
two, and, if they could get at her, Zara, too, by way of revenge."

"We can't help going down there if they send for us, I suppose, Miss
Eleanor?"

"No.  There's no way out of it.  You see, if someone does you an
injury--borrows money from you and doesn't pay it back, say--the law
will help you get it, if you want to be helped.  You can decide whether
you want to do anything or not.  But if a crime is committed, then it's
a different matter, and you've got to get the law's help, whether you
want to or not.

"For instance, if someone robs your house, you might be willing to
forgive the robber, but the law has to be satisfied, because that's the
sort of crime that affects everyone, and not just you alone."

"I see.  And I suppose that this time the law feels that if they are
not punished, those gypsies might try to kidnap someone else?"

"Yes.  The idea isn't just punishment.  It's the way people who live
together in towns and countries have to protect themselves.  In the
early days there wasn't any law.  If a man was robbed, and he was
strong enough, he protected himself by going out and fighting the
robber.  But that wouldn't work very well, because if a man was very
strong, and wicked as well, he could rob his neighbors, and no one of
them was strong enough to protect himself.

"So it wasn't very long before people began to find out that, while no
one of them was strong enough to stop such robbers, a whole lot of them
banded together were stronger than any one man.  And so they made the
first laws."

"Oh, I see," said Dolly.  "Bessie isn't strong enough by herself to do
anything to Mr. Holmes, or to stop him from doing what he likes to her,
because he's rich.  But if all the other people who live in the state
take her side he can't fight against them.  That's it, isn't it?"

For a day or two after that peace reigned over the camp by Long Lake.
The girls looked forward eagerly to the field day that had been
planned, but they looked forward to it, too, with a certain degree of
regret, for it would mark the climax and the end, as well, of their
stay at the lake, which, though it had been so exciting, had also been
so delightful that all the girls wished for nothing better than to stay
there indefinitely.  But they could not do that, as Miss Mercer
explained to them.

"We've got to make way for others," she said, in telling them of the
new plans.  "You see, my father is only one of the owners of this
preserve, and we take it in turns to use this lake for a camping site.
Now Mr. Spurgeon, one of the other owners, is going to bring up a party
of his friends, and we must make room for them."

"Are we going home?" asked Margery Burton, disappointedly.

"Why, don't you want to go home?" asked Eleanor, with a laugh, which
was echoed by the other girls, who heard the note of sorrow in the
question.

"Oh, I suppose so," said Margery.  "But one is home quite a good deal,
after all, in the winter, and we do have such a good time when we're
out in the woods this way.  I love to get right close to nature."

"Well, you needn't be frightened, Margery, because I've got a plan that
will keep us as close to nature as anyone could want to be."

A chorus of excited voices was raised at that.

"Where are we going next, Miss Mercer?"

"What are we going to do?"

"Shall we get to the seashore this summer?"

"Later on, I expect," she answered, to the last question.  "You do love
the beach and the surf, don't you?  Well, so do I, and I expect we
shall want to spend a little time there.  But first I've a plan I think
some of you will like even better."

"We're sure to like anything you plan, Miss Eleanor," said Dolly, with
enthusiasm.  "I don't believe any Camp Fire has as nice a Guardian as
you.  It seems to me you spend all your time thinking up ways of giving
us a good time."

"What is the new plan?" asked Margery.  "I wonder if I can guess?"

"I don't know.  You might all try, and see how near you come to it."

"I think we're going to go home by walking!" said Margery.

"I believe we'll go through the chain of lakes that begins at Little
Bear in a boat, or in boats!" said Dolly.

But, though they all took turns in guessing, Eleanor only smiled wisely
when the last guess had been made.

"You were very nearly right, Margery," she said.  "We are going to
tramp home, but not the way we came.  We're going to take the long way
round.  We're going straight up and through the mountains and down the
other side, and then we'll have a long trip on fairly level ground, but
we won't go straight home."

"Where, then?" asked Dolly.

"Why, we'll combine everything on the one trip, Dolly, and we'll wind
up at the seashore.  By the time we've had a little swimming and
sailing there it'll be time to think about what we're going to do in
the autumn--school, and, work, and all the other things."

"Oh, that's splendid!" cried Margery, her eyes shining.  "I've always
wanted to go up in the real mountains, where you were so high that you
could see all around the country.  We'll do that, won't we?  Here we're
in the mountains, really, but it doesn't seem like it.  Everything's so
high, you can't see over."

Eleanor pointed to the distant hills, blue in the haze that hung over
them.

"Do you see Mount Grant, the big one in the center, there?" she said.
"And do you see that other mountain that seems to be right next to it?
That's Mount Sherman.  And right between them there's a little gap.
Really, it's quite wide, though you can't tell that from here.  Well,
that's Indian Notch, and we get through the mountain range by going
through it.  It's a fine, wild country, but there's a good road through
the notch now, and sometimes one meets quite a lot of automobiles going
through.  I think it will be a glorious trip, don't you, girls?"

"I certainly do!" said Bessie King.  "I'm like Margery.  I've always
wanted to see the real mountains.  I used to dream about them, and
sometimes I'd think I'd really been there.  But I guess it was just
because I dreamed so much that I got to thinking so."

Eleanor looked at her curiously.

"Maybe your people came from the mountains, Bessie," she said.  "It's
very strange that some natural things seem to get into the blood of
peoples and races.  Like the mountains, and the sea, and great rivers.
Sometimes all the men in a family, for generations, will be sailors,
even if their parents have planned something else for them.  The sea is
in their blood, and it calls them."

"Sometimes I think the mountains are calling me just that way," said
Bessie.  "But I never really understood that before."

"It's the same way with mountaineers.  The Swiss are never really happy
except among their mountains.  And that's true of every mountainous
race.  The people who live along the Mississippi, here, and along the
Don and the Vistula, and the other great rivers in Russia, never seem
to be able to live happily unless they can see the great river rolling
by their homes every day.  If they go far away they get homesick."

"I'm not a bit like that!" exclaimed Dolly.  "One place is just as good
as another for me, if I like the people.  I like to travel and see new
places.  I'd like to be on the move all the time."

"I think a great many Americans are getting to be that way," said
Eleanor, reflectively.  "It's natural, in a way, you see.  For
generations the young men and women have been moving on, from settled
parts of the country to new land, where there were greater
opportunities to make a fortune."

"I've read about that," said Dolly.  "You mean like the people from New
England, who went west to Oregon and Washington?"

"Yes.  But that can't go on forever, you see, because about all the new
land is taken up and settled now.  Of course, out in the far west,
there's still room for people; lots and lots of room.  But this whole
country is settled now.  Law and order have been established about
everywhere.  And we'll begin to settle down soon, and our people will
love their homes, and the places where they were born, just as the
Virginians and the other Southerners do now."

"Oh, it isn't that I don't like my own home!" said Dolly.  "If I were
away from it very long I know I'd get dreadfully homesick, and want to
go back.  But I don't want to stay there or anywhere else all the time."

"You're a wanderer," laughed Eleanor.  "That's what's the matter with
you, Dolly.  You want to see everything that's to be seen.  Well, I'm a
little that way myself.  When I was a little bit of a kiddie I always
got tremendously excited if we were going on a journey.  I guess it's a
pretty good thing, really, that we are that way.  It's the reason this
country has grown so wonderfully, that spirit of enterprise and
adventure.  That's what made the pioneers."

"It isn't just Americans who do it, either, is it?" said Margery.  "The
Italians and the other foreigners who come here seem to be just as
anxious to find new places--"

"Oh, but that's different," said Zara, the silent one, quickly.  "I
know, because my father and I are foreigners.  And do you know why we
came here?  It was because we couldn't live happily in our own country!"

The girls looked at her curiously, so fiery was her speech, and so much
in earnest was she.

"We come from Poland," she said.  "Over there, a man can't call his
soul his own.  Soldiers and policemen used to come to our house, and
wake us up in the middle of the night to look for papers.  And often
and often they would steal anything we had that they liked.  Oh, how I
hate the Russians!"

Eleanor sighed.  Gradually, slowly but surely, she felt that she was
finding her way into the secret of Zara and her father.

"Then you came here because you had heard that this was a free country
and a refuge for those who were oppressed?" she ventured, gently.

"Yes," said Zara.  "And it's not true!  There are kind people here,
like you, and Bessie, and Mr. Jamieson.  But haven't they put my father
in prison, just the way they did in Poland and in Sicily, when we tried
to live there quietly?  And didn't all the people in Hedgeville
persecute him, and tell lies about both of us?  We haven't been happy
here."

"I'm afraid that's true, Zara.  But you are going to be, remember that.
You have good friends working for you now, you and your father both.
And it isn't the fault of this country that there are bad and wicked
men in it, who are willing to do wrong if they see a chance to make
money by doing so."

"But if this country is all that people say about it, they shouldn't be
allowed to do it.  The law is helping them.  In Poland, it was just the
same.  The law was against my father there--"

"Listen, Zara!  The law may seem to help them at first, but you may be
very sure of one thing.  If your father has done nothing wrong, and his
enemies have lied and deceived the people in authority in order to get
the law on their side, they will pay bitterly, for it in the end."

"But the law ought to know that my father is right--"

"The law works slowly, Zara, but in the end it is sure to be right.
You see, your father's case is a very exceptional one.  The people who
made the law in the beginning couldn't have expected it to come.  But
the wonderful thing about the law is that, while it is often very hard,
it will always find out the truth sooner or later.

"Sometimes, for a little while, people who are innocent have to suffer
because they are unjustly accused.  But the law will free them if they
have really done no wrong, and, what is more, it will punish those who
swear falsely against them.  Be patient, and you will find that you and
your father made no mistake when you believed that this was the land of
the free and the home of those who are oppressed in their own
countries."

Zara's eyes, dark and sombre, seemed to be full of fire.

"Oh, I hope so," she cried, passionately.  "For my father's sake!  He
has been disappointed and deceived so often."

"We'll have a good long talk sometime, Zara," she said, finally.  "Then
maybe I'll be able to explain some things to you better, and make you
understand the real difference between this country and the ones you
have known."

Then she brightened, and turned to the other girls, who had all been
rather sobered by the sudden revelation, through Zara, of a side of
life hidden from them as a rule.

"We're not going to take that trip just for ourselves and our own fun,"
she said.  "We're going to be missionaries, in a way; we want to spread
the light of the Camp Fire, and see if we can't get a lot of new Camp
Fires organized in the places we pass through.  It's just in such
lonely, country places that the girls need the Camp Fire most, I
believe."

"That will be splendid," said Margery Burton.  "We could stay and teach
them all the ceremonies, and the songs, and how to organize new Camp
Fires, couldn't we?"

"Yes.  We want to make them see how much it has done for us.  When they
know that they'll do the rest for themselves, I think.  I shall expect
all you girls to help, because you can do ever so much more than I.
It's the girls who really count--not the Guardians, you know."



CHAPTER IV

A FRIEND IN TROUBLE

The next morning Eleanor Mercer, summoned from the group of girls with
whom she was discussing some details of the coming contest with the Boy
Scouts by the appearance of a man who had rowed up to the little
landing stage, accompanied by one of the guides, old Andrew, called
Bessie King and Dolly Ransom to her with a grave face.

"This is Deputy Sheriff Rogers, from Hamilton," she explained.  "He
says that you must go there today to testify against those gypsies."

"Sorry, ma'am, if it's awkward jest now," said the officer.  "But law's
law, and orders is orders."

"Oh, we understand that perfectly, Mr. Rogers," said Eleanor.  "You
have to do your duty, and of course we are anxious to see that the law
is properly enforced.  Don't think we're complaining.  But I will admit
I am nervous."

"Nervous, ma'am?  Why, there ain't nothin' to be nervous about!"

"I hope you're right, Mr. Rogers.  But there are things back of this
attempt to kidnap my two girls here that haven't come out at all yet.
I don't suppose you've heard of them.  And it's been suggested to me
that it might not be quite safe for them at Hamilton."

The deputy sheriff laughed heartily at that.

"Safe?" he said.  "Well, I should some guess they'll be safe down
there!  Sheriff Blaine--he's my boss, ma'am, you see--would jest about
rip the hide off of anyone who tried to tech them young ladies while
they was there obeyin' the orders of the court.  Don't you worry none.
We'll look after them all right enough."

"As long as you know that there may be some danger, I shall be
relieved, and feel that everything is all right," said Eleanor,
pleasantly.  "It's when we're not expecting their blows that the people
we are afraid of have been able to strike at us successfully.  There is
a Mr. Holmes--"

"I know him well, if it's Mr. Holmes, the big storekeeper from the city
you mean, ma'am," interrupted Rogers.  "Say, if he's a friend of yours,
you can be sure you'll be looked after all right down to Hamilton.  We
think a sight of him down there.  He's a fine man, m'am; yes, indeed, a
fine man!"

Eleanor looked startled, and only Bessie's quick pinch of her arm
prevented Dolly from crying out in surprise and disgust.  Knowing what
they did of the treachery and meanness of Holmes, this praise of him
was disturbing to a degree.  But Eleanor never changed countenance.
She understood, as if by some instinct, that this was a time for
keeping her own counsel.

"I shall go to Hamilton with you," said Eleanor, decidedly.  "Will you
be able to wait a little while, Mr. Rogers, while we get ready?"

"Surely, ma'am," said Rogers.  "We want to get the train that goes down
from the station here at noon, and that gives us lots of time.  If we
start two hours from now we'll catch it, with time to spare."

"Then if you'll sit down and make yourself comfortable," she said,
"we'll be ready when it's time to start."

As soon as Rogers had taken himself off, Eleanor called the girls
together in her own tent.

"I feel that it is my duty to be with Bessie and Dolly at Hamilton,"
she explained.  "And, because I rather foresaw this, I have arranged
for a friend of mine to come over here and take my place as Guardian at
short notice.  She is Miss Drew--Miss Anna Drew--and some of you must
have met her in the city.  She has had plenty of experience as a Camp
Fire Guardian, and you'll all like her, I know.

"Please make it as easy for her as possible.  Do just as she tells you,
even if she doesn't have the same way of doing everything that I have.
I'll get back as soon as I can, and I want you to have a good time
while we're gone."

"We'll see that she doesn't have any trouble, Wanaka," said Margery
Burton loyally.  "She'll find that this Camp Fire can behave itself,
all right!"

"Thanks!  I knew I could count on all of you," said Eleanor.  "Now I'm
going to send her a note by Andrew.  Her people own some of this land,
and she happens to be in their camp at one of the other lakes, so that
she'll be able to get here before we go if she starts at once."

Andrew was quite ready to carry the note, and went off while Eleanor
and the two girls made the simple preparations that were necessary for
their trip.

"I'm so glad you didn't say anything when the deputy sheriff spoke that
way of Mr. Holmes," she said to Bessie and Dolly.  "I was afraid one of
you would cry out and I really couldn't have blamed you if you had."

"I would have--I was just going to," said Dolly honestly, "but Bessie
pinched me, so I shut up, though I couldn't see why.  I still think he
ought to know that this man he seems to think so much of is the very
one they ought to watch most carefully if they really want to make sure
that we don't get into any trouble while we're going down there."

"The trouble is that he wouldn't believe it, Dolly, and it would simply
discredit us with him and all the other authorities at Hamilton, so
that they wouldn't believe us when we had something to tell them that
we were sure was true."

"But we're sure that Mr. Holmes was behind this gypsy.  We've got the
letter he wrote to him to prove it!"

"Yes, but Mr. Jamieson doesn't want anyone to know we have that letter
until the proper time comes.  He wants to catch Mr. Holmes in a trap if
he possibly can, so that he'll be harmless after this.  You can see
what a good thing that would be."

"Oh, yes.  I never thought of that!  He doesn't want to put him on his
guard, you mean?"

"Just exactly that, Dolly.  You see, if Mr. Holmes thinks we don't
suspect him, it's possible that he may betray himself in some fashion.
He'll feel sure that this man John hasn't betrayed him, and if he
thinks we don't know anything about the part he had in this kidnapping
plan, he may try to do something, else that will get him into serious
trouble.

"And we've got to move very slowly and very carefully, because it's
quite plain that he has a lot of friends at Hamilton and that they
won't believe anything against him, no matter how serious it may be,
unless they get absolute proof."

"Oh, I do hope Mr. Jamieson will be able to catch him this time!  I'd
feel ever so much better about Bessie and Zara if I knew that they
didn't need to be afraid of him any longer."

"So would I, Dolly, and so would Mr. Jamieson.  It's this man who is
worrying us more than all the other enemies Bessie and Zara have, put
together."

"Because he's so rich?"

"Partly that, and because he's so clever, too.  And if all I hear about
him is true, the more he is beaten, the more dangerous he becomes.  He
doesn't like to be beaten, and it makes him so angry that he takes all
sorts of chances, and does the wildest, most desperate things to get
even.  They say he was very unfair to a lot of small shopkeepers in the
city when he was building up his big store."

"How do you mean, Miss Eleanor?"

"Why, he did everything he could to make them sell out to him for a
small price, and, if they wouldn't do it, he did his best to ruin their
business.  He would circulate false stories about them, and he used his
influence with the police and the city authorities to make all sorts of
trouble for them.

"Then he would open a store next door to them, sometimes, and sell
everything they did cheaper, at a loss, so that people would stop
buying from them.  You see, he could afford to lose money doing that,
because he knew that if he once got them out of the way, he could put
prices up again, and get his money back."

"You didn't know all that the day after Zara was taken away, did you,
Miss Eleanor?" asked Bessie.  "Don't you remember how you laughed at me
then for saying I didn't like him, and that I thought he might be mixed
up in Zara's disappearance?"

"Yes, I do remember it very well, Bessie.  I've often thought what a
good thing it was that your eyes were so sharp, and that you suspected
him even when all the rest of us thought he was all right.  If it
hadn't been for that, Mr. Jamieson would never have looked up the
records that gave him the clue to where Mr. Holmes had hidden Zara."

"I think Bessie would make a pretty good detective," said Dolly.  "They
do have women detectives now, don't they?  And she seems to be able to
tell from looking at people whether they can be trusted or not."

Bessie laughed heartily at that suggestion.

"I can't do anything of the sort," she said.  "And, even if I could, I
wouldn't be a detective, Dolly.  The trouble with you is that you read
too many novels.  You think people behave in real life just the way the
people in the books you read do, and they don't."

The return of old Andrew, the guide, who had rowed across the lake on
his return from carrying Eleanor's note to Miss Drew, was the signal to
complete the preparations for departure.

"I caught her, all right, Miss Eleanor," said Andrew.  "Says she won't
be able to come over here till after lunch, but she'll be right over
then with a bundle of sticks to keep the young ladies in order till you
get back yourself."

"Good!" laughed Eleanor.  "That's all right, then, and I can leave here
with a clear conscience.  Andrew, you'll sort of keep an eye on things
till I get back, won't you?"

"Leave it to me, ma'am," said Andrew.  "Say, me and some of the boys
was thinking maybe you'd like to have some of us turn up, sort of
casual like, down at Hamilton?"

"Why, it's very good of you, Andrew, but I don't believe we'll need any
help from you, thanks."

"You can't always sometimes tell," said Andrew, sagely.  "Now, this
here Rogers is a good fellow enough, but obstinate as a mule, and the
sheriff might be his twin brother for that.  They're birds of a
feather, see?  And onct they get it into their heads that a thing's so,
there ain't nothin' I know of, short of a stick of dynamite, will make
them change their minds.  So we thought that mebbe it wouldn't be a bad
idea to have some of us within call."

"I'll let you know if we need any help, Andrew," promised Eleanor.
"And it's very good of you to offer to come.  But Mr. Jamieson will be
there--you know him, don't you?"

"Mister Charlie?  Indeed I do, ma'am, and a fine young chap he is, too.
I've often hunted with him through these woods up here.  If he's goin'
to look after the law part of this for you, you'll have a good chance
to beat them sharks down there.  Some pretty smart lawyers there at
Hamilton, they tell me, ma'am.  I ain't never been to law myself.  Any
time I get into a fight I can't settle with my tongue, I use my hands.
Cheaper, and better, too, in the long run."

"It's the old-fashioned way, Andrew.  Most people can't settle their
troubles so easily.  Well, you'll row us to the end of the lake, I
suppose?"

"Get right in, ma'am!  Might as well start, so's you can take it easy
on the trail.  Not a bit of use hurryin' when there ain't no need of
it, I say.  There's lots of times when it can't be helped, without
lookin' for a chance."

So, with the strains of the Wo-he-lo cheer rising from the girls who
were left behind, they started in the boat for the first stage of the
short journey to Hamilton.

Andrew insisted on going with them as far as the station, and as the
train pulled out, they heard his cheery voice.

"Now, remember if you need me or any of the boys, all you've got to do
is to send us word, and we'll find a way to get there a bit quicker
than we're expected," he cried.  "Ain't nothin' we wouldn't do for you
and the young ladies, Miss Eleanor!"

"You leave them to us, old timer," Rogers called back from the car
window.  "We'll guarantee to return them, safe and sound.  And it won't
take any long time, neither.  There's a good case against that sneaking
gypsy, and we'll have him on his way to the penitentiary in two shakes
of a lamb's tail."

"If you don't, I'll vote for another sheriff next election," vowed
Andrew, "if I have to vote a Demmycratic ticket to do it, and that's
somethin' I ain't done--not since I was old enough to vote."

Rogers was reassuring enough in his speech and manner, but Eleanor had
a presentiment of evil; a foreboding that something was wrong.

The railroad trip to Hamilton was not a long one, and within two hours
of the time they had left Long Lake the brakeman called out the name of
the county seat.  Eleanor and the two girls, with Rogers carrying their
bags, moved to the door, and, as they reached the ground, looked about
eagerly for Jamieson.

He was nowhere to be seen.  But Holmes was there, avoiding their eyes,
but with a grin of malicious triumph that worried Eleanor.  And Rogers,
a moment after he had left them to speak to a friend, returned, his
face grave.

"I hear your friend Mr. Jamieson is arrested," he said.



CHAPTER V

A TANGLED NET

"Arrested?" cried Eleanor, startled.  "Why, what do you mean?  How can
that be?"

"That's all I know, ma'am," said Rogers, soberly.  "Even if I did know
anything more, I guess maybe I oughtn't to be saying anything about it.
I'm an officer, you see.  But here's the district attorney.  Maybe
he'll be able to tell you what you want."

He pointed to a tall, thin man who was talking earnestly to Holmes, and
who came over when Rogers beckoned to him.

"This is Mr. Niles, Miss Mercer," said Rogers.  "I'll leave you with
him."

"Glad to meet you, Miss Mercer," said Niles, heartily, "though I'm
sorry to have dragged you away from your good times at Long Lake.
These, I suppose, are the young ladies who were kidnapped?"

"Yes, though of course they weren't really kidnapped, because they got
away before any real harm was done," Eleanor replied.  "But, Mr. Niles,
what is this absurd story about my cousin, Mr. Jamieson?  Mr. Rogers
said something about his having been arrested."

Niles grew grave.

"I hope you're right--I hope it is absurd, my dear young lady," he
said.  "Your cousin, you say?  Dear me, that's most distressing--most
distressing, upon my word!  However, you will understand I had nothing
to do with the matter.

"I have to take cognizance, in my official capacity, of any charges
that are made, but I am allowed to have my own opinion as to the guilt
or innocence of those accused--yes, indeed!  And I am quite sure that
Mr. Jamieson had nothing to do with this attempted kidnapping!"

"What?" gasped Eleanor.  "Do you mean to say that it is on such a
charge as that that he has been arrested?"

She laughed, in sheer relief.  The absurdity of such an accusation, she
was sure, would carry proof in itself that Charlie was innocent.  No
matter who was trying to spoil his reputation, they could not possibly
succeed with such a flimsy and silly charge.

"I'm glad it seems so funny to you, Miss Mercer," said Niles, stiffly.
"I'll confess that it looked serious to me, although, as I say, I do
not believe in Mr. Jamieson's guilt.  However, he will have to clear
himself, of course, just as anyone else accused of a crime must do.
Where I have jurisdiction, no favors are shown.

"The poor are on a basis of equality with the rich; I would send a
guilty millionaire to prison with a light heart, and on the same day I
would move heaven and earth to secure the freedom of an innocent
beggar, though men of wealth were trying to railroad him to jail!"

He finished that peroration with a sweeping and dignified bow.  And
then he stopped, thunder-struck, as a clear, girlish laugh rose on the
air.  It was Dolly who laughed.

"I couldn't help it," she said, afterward.  "He was so funny, and he
didn't know it!  As if anyone would take a man who talked such rot as
that seriously!"

But the trouble was that, vain and pompous as Niles plainly was, his
official position made it necessary to take him seriously.  Though at
first she was disposed to agree with Dolly, and had, indeed, had
difficulty in keeping a straight face herself while he was boasting of
his own incorruptibility, Eleanor discovered that fact as soon as she
had a chance to talk with Charlie Jamieson.

"I shall be glad to arrange for you to have an interview with your
cousin, Miss Mercer," Niles informed her.  "Theoretically, he is a
prisoner, although of course he will be able to arrange for his own
release on bail as soon as he finds some friend who owns property in
this county.  But I have given orders that he is not to be confined in
a cell.  I trust he is making himself very much at home in the parlor
of Sheriff Blaine.  If you will honor me, I will take you there."

"I should like to see him at once," said Eleanor.  "Come, girls!  Mr.
Niles, I am sure, will find a place where you can wait for me while I
talk with Mr. Jamieson."

Charlie greeted her with a sour grin when she was taken to the room
where, a prisoner, he was sitting near a window and smoking some of the
sheriff's excellent tobacco.

"Hello, Nell!" he said.  "First blood for our friend Holmes on this
scrap, all right.  First time I've ever been in jail.  It's intended as
a little object lesson of what he can do when he once starts out to be
unpleasant, I fancy.  He must know that he hasn't any sort of chance of
keeping me here."

"Why, Charlie, I never heard anything so absurd!" said Eleanor, hotly.
"As if you, who have done everything possible for those girls, would do
such an insane thing as hire that gypsy to kidnap them.  And especially
when we know who did do it!"

"That's just the rub!  We know, but can we prove it?  You see, it's my
idea that Holmes is starting this as a sort of backfire.  He thinks
we're going to accuse him, and he wants to strike the first blow.  He's
clever, all right."

"I don't see what good it can do him, Charlie."

"A lot of good, and this is why.  He puts me on the defensive, right
away.  He wants time as much as anything else.  And if he can keep me
busy proving my own innocence, he figures that I'll have less time to
get after him.  It's a good move.  The more chance he has to work on
those gypsies, the less likely they are to say anything that will make
trouble for him.  He can show them his power and scare them, even if he
can't buy them.

"And I think the chances are that he won't find it very hard to buy
them.  They pinched me as soon as I got off the train this morning.
I've sent out a lot of telegrams, asking fellows to come up here and
bail me out, but of course I can't really expect to get an answer
today--an answer in person, at least."

"Mr. Niles seems friendly.  He said that he doesn't believe you're
guilty, Charlie."

"That's kind of him, I'm sure.  Niles is an ass--a pompous,
self-satisfied ass!  Holmes is using him just as he likes, and Niles
hasn't got sense enough to see it.  He's honest enough, I think, but he
hasn't got the brains of a well-developed jellyfish."

Eleanor laughed at the comparison.

"Well, if he's honest, you don't have anything to fear, I suppose," she
said.  "I'm glad of that, Charlie.  I was afraid at first that he might
be just a tool of Mr. Holmes, and that he would do what Mr. Holmes told
him."

"I'd feel easier in my mind if he were a regular out-and-out crook,
Nell.  That sort always has a weakness.  Your crook is afraid of his
own skin, and when he knows he's doing things for pay, he'll always
stop just short of a certain danger point.  He won't risk more than so
much for anyone.  But with this chap it's different.  He's probably let
Holmes, or Holmes's gang, fill him up with a lot of false ideas, and
they're clever enough to get him to wanting to do just what they want
him to do."

"And you mean that he'll think he's doing the right thing?"

"Yes, and not only that, but he'll persuade himself that he figured the
whole thing out, thought it out for himself, when really he'll just be
carrying out their own suggestions.  We've got to find some way to
spike his guns, or else Holmes will work things so that his gypsy will
get off, and there'll be no sort of chance to pin the guilt down to
him, where it belongs."

"Then the first thing to do is to get you out, isn't it?"

"Yes, but I've done all that can be done on that.  There's really
nothing to be done now but just wait--and I'd rather do pretty nearly
anything I can think of but that."

"I don't know, Charlie.  Why can't I give bail for you?  You know, Dad
made over all that land up in the woods around Long Lake that he owns
to me.  So I'm a property holder in this county--and that's what is
needed, isn't it?"

"By Jove!  You're right, Nell!  Here, I'll make out an application.
You send for Niles, and we'll get him to approve this right now.  Then
we'll get the judge to sign the bail bond, and I'll get out.  I never
thought of that--good thing you've got a good head on your shoulders!"

Eleanor, pleased and excited, went out to find Niles, and returned to
Charlie with him at once.

"H'm, bail has been fixed at a nominal figure--five thousand dollars,"
said Niles.  "I may mention that I suggested it, knowing that you would
not try to evade the issue, Mr. Jamieson.  We have heard of you, sir,
even up here.  If the young lady will come to the judge's office with
me, I have no doubt we can arrange the matter."

Before long it was evident there was a hitch.

"I am sorry, Miss Mercer," said Niles, with a long face, "but there
seems to be some doubt as to this.  You have not the deed with you--the
deed giving title to this property?"

"No," said Eleanor.  "But the records are here, are they not?
Certainly you can make sure that I own it?"

Niles shook his head.

"I'm afraid we must have the deed," he said.

For the moment it looked as if Charlie would have to stay in
confinement over night, at least.  But suddenly Eleanor remembered old
Andrew and his offer to help.  And twenty minutes later she was
explaining matters to him over the telephone.

"Why, sure," he said.  "I can fix you up, Miss Eleanor.  I've saved
money since I've been working here, and I've put it all into land.  I
know these woods, you see, and I know that when I get ready to sell
I'll get my profit.  I'll be down as soon as I can come."

"Don't say a word," said Charlie.  "It wouldn't be past them to fake
some way of clouding the old man's title if they knew he was coming.
We'll spring that on them as a surprise.  Evidently they figure on
being able to keep me here until to-morrow, at least.  They've got some
scheme on foot--they've got a card up their sleeves that they want to
be able to play while I'm not watching them.  I don't just get on to
their game--it's hard to figure it out from here.  But if I once get
out I won't be afraid of them.  We'll be able to beat them, all right,
thanks to you.  You're a brick, Nell!"

Andrew was as good as his word.  He reached the town in time to go to
the judge with the deeds of his property, and though Holmes, who was
evidently watching every move of the other side closely, scowled and
looked as if he would like to make some protest, there was nothing to
be done.  He and his lawyers had no official standing in the case--they
could only consult with and advise Niles in an unofficial fashion.
And, though Niles held a long conference with Holmes and his party
before the bail bond was signed, it proved to be impossible for the
court to decline to accept it.  Some things the law made imperative,
and, much as Niles might feel that he was being tricked, he could not
help himself.

Once he was free, as he was when the bail bond was signed, Jamieson
wasted no time.  He saw Eleanor and the two girls settled in the one
good hotel of Hamilton, and then rushed back to the court house.  And
there he found a strange state of affairs.  Holmes had brought with him
from the city two lawyers, though Isaac Brack, the shyster, was not one
of them.  And the leader, a man well known to Jamieson, John Curtin by
name, now appeared boldly as the lawyer for the accused gypsies.
Moreover, he refused absolutely to allow Charlie to see his clients.

In answer to Charlie's protests he merely looked wise, and refused to
say anything more than was required to reiterate his refusal.  But
Charlie had other sources of information, and an hour after his
release, meeting Eleanor, who had walked down to look around the town,
leaving the girls behind at the hotel, he gave her some startling news.

"They're trying to get those gypsies out right now," he said.  "They
were indicted, you know, for kidnapping.  Now Curtin has got a writ of
habeas corpus, and he's kept it so quiet that it was only by accident I
found it was to be argued."

"What does that mean?" asked Eleanor.  "I don't know as much about the
law as you do, you know."

"It means that a judge will decide whether they are being legally held
or not, Nell.  And it looks very much to me as if Holmes had managed to
fix things so that they'll get off without ever going before a jury at
all!  Niles isn't handling the case right.  He's allowed Holmes and his
crowd to pull the wool over his eyes completely.  If we had some
definite proof I could force him to hold them.  But--"

Eleanor laughed suddenly.

"I didn't suppose it was necessary to give this to you until the
trial," she said.  "But look here, Charlie--isn't this proof?"  And she
handed him the letter found on John, the gypsy--a letter from Holmes,
giving him the orders that led to the kidnapping of Dolly.

Charlie shouted excitedly when he read it.

"By Jove!" he said.  "This puts them in our power.  You were quite
right--we don't want to produce this yet.  But I think I can use it to
scare our friend Niles.  If I'm right, and he's only a fool, and not a
knave, I'll be able to do the trick.  Here he is now!  Watch me give
him the shock of his young life!"

Niles approached, with a sweeping bow for Eleanor, and a cold nod for
Jamieson.  But the city lawyer approached him at once.

"How about this habeas corpus hearing, Mr. District Attorney?" he
asked.  "Are you going to let them get those gypsies out of jail?"

"The case against them appears to be hopelessly defective, sir,"
returned Niles, stiffly.  "I am informed by counsel for the defense
that there are a number of witnesses to prove an alibi for the man
John, and I feel that it is useless to try to have them held for trial."

"Suppose I tell you that I have absolute evidence--evidence connecting
them with the plot, and bringing in another conspirator who has not yet
been named?  Hold on, Mr. Niles, you have been tricked in this case.  I
don't hold it against you, but I warn you that if you don't make a
fight in this case, papers charging you with incompetence will go to
the governor at once, with a petition for your removal!"

"I--I don't know why I should allow one of the prisoners in this case
to address me in such a fashion!" stuttered Niles.

"I don't care what you know!  I'm telling you the truth, and, for your
own sake, you'd better listen to me," said Jamieson, grimly.  "I mean
just what I say.  And unless you want to be lined up with your friend
Curtin in disbarment proceedings, you'd better cut loose from him.  I
suppose Holmes has told you he'll back your ambitions to go to
Congress, hasn't he?"

Niles seemed to be staggered.

"How--how did you know that?" he gasped.

As a matter of fact, Charlie had not known it; he had only made a
shrewd guess.  But the shot had gone home.

"There's more to this than you can guess, Mr. Niles," he said, more
kindly.  "It's a plot that is bigger than even I can understand and
they have simply tried to use you as a tool.  I knew that once you had
a hint of the truth, your native shrewdness would make you work to
defeat it.  You understand, don't you?"

Coming on top of the bullying, this sop to the love of Niles for
flattery was thoroughly effective.  Charlie was using the same sort of
weapons that the other side had employed.  And Niles held out his hand.

"I'll take the chance," he said.  "I'll see that those fellows stay in
jail, Mr. Jamieson.  As I told Miss Mercer, I was sure from the
beginning that you were all right.  May I count on you for aid when the
case comes up for trial?"

"You may--and I'll give you a bigger prisoner than you ever thought of
catching," said Charlie.



CHAPTER VI

BESSIE KING'S PLUCK

"We've got them, I think," Jamieson said to Eleanor Mercer and the two
girls after his talk with District Attorney Niles.  "There's just one
thing; I don't understand how Holmes can be so reckless as to take a
chance when he must remember that he hasn't got a leg left to stand on."

"He probably doesn't know that we know anything about it," said Bessie.
"And I guess he thinks that if we had had that note all this time we'd
have produced it before, so that he thought it was safe to act."

"You're probably right, Bessie," said Eleanor.  "I thought that letter
would be useful, Charlie, when we took it from that gypsy.  I don't
suppose I really had any right to keep it, but just then, you see,
Andrew and the other guides were the only people around, and they would
never question anything I did--they'd just be sure I was right."

"Good thing they do, for you usually are," laughed Charlie.  "I've
given up expecting to catch you, Nell.  You guess right too often.  And
this time you've certainly called the turn.  Niles is convinced.  All
I'm afraid of now is that he won't be able to hold his tongue."

"You want to surprise Mr. Holmes, then?"

"I certainly do.  I'd give a hundred dollars right now to see his face
when I spring that letter and ask for a warrant for his arrest.  Mind
you, I don't suppose for a minute we'll be able to do him any real
harm.  He's got too much influence, altogether, with bigger people than
Niles and this judge here."

"You know I'm not very vindictive, Charlie, but I would like to see him
get the punishment he deserves.  I'd much rather have them let those
poor gypsies off, if only they would put him in prison in their place.
I feel sorry for them--really, I do.  It seems to me that they were
just led astray by a man who certainly should know better."

"That part of it's all right enough, Eleanor.  But if one accepted the
excuse from every criminal that he was led astray by a stronger
character, no one would ever be punished.  Pretty nearly everyone who
ever gets arrested can frame up that excuse."

"You don't think it's a good one?"

"It is, to a certain extent.  But if our way of punishing people for
doing wrong is any good at all, and if it is really to have any good
effect, it's got to teach the weaklings that every man is responsible
himself for what he does, that he can't shift the blame to someone else
and get out of it that way.

"You remember the poem Kipling wrote about that?  I mean that line that
goes: 'The sins that we sin by two and two we must pay for one by one.'
It seems pretty hard sometimes, but it's got to be done.  However, even
if Holmes gets out of this, it's a thundering good thing that we've got
as much as we have against him."

"I don't see why, if you say he's going to get off without punishment."

"Well, I think it's apt to make him more careful, for one thing.  And
for another, some people will believe the evidence against him, and
he'll have the punishment of being partly discredited at least.  That's
better than nothing, you know.  One reason he's in a position to do
these rotten things without fear of being caught is that he's supposed
to be so respectable.  Let people once begin to think he isn't any
better than he should be, and he'll have to mind his p's and q's just
like anyone else, I can tell you."

"That's so!  I didn't think of that."

"The thing to do now is to make sure that the trial comes off at once.
I've got an idea that they'll try to get a delay, now that they've had
to give up their hope of rushing it through while I was tied up and
couldn't tell whatever I happened to know.  They'll figure that the
more time they have, the more chance there is that they can work out
some new scheme, or that something will turn up in their favor--some
piece of luck.  And it's just as likely to happen as not to happen,
too, if we give them a chance to hold things up for a few weeks.  You
want to get away, too, don't you?"

"We certainly do, Charlie.  The girls would be dreadfully disappointed
if we didn't get back in time to make the tramp through the mountains
with them."

"Well, I guess we'll manage it all right.  Leave that to me.  You've
had bothers and troubles enough already since you got here.  I ought to
have a nurse!  Here I come to look after your interests, and see that
nothing goes wrong with you and your affairs, and the first thing you
have to do is to get me out of jail!"

Eleanor returned his laugh.

"We really enjoyed it, though you've got Andrew to thank, not me," she
said.  "Do you really think they'll manage to get it postponed after
to-morrow?"

"Not if I have to sit up with Niles and hold his hand all night, to
keep him in line," vowed Jamieson.

And, indeed, the morning proved that there was no cause for worry.
Niles, stiffened by Jamieson, refused even to see the men from the
other side, who were employed by Holmes, when they came to his office
to beg for an adjournment, or to ask him to consent to it, at least,
since only the judge had the power to grant it.  And the trial began at
the appointed time.

Charlie, not being actively engaged as a lawyer in the case, could not
spring his sensation himself.  But he sat near Niles, waiting for the
opportune moment, and, before the morning session was over, since he
saw that the time was drawing near, he wrote a note to Niles,
explaining his plan to surprise Holmes fully, which he handed to him in
the quiet courtroom.

"That's great--great!" said Niles.  "It's immense, Jamieson!  I never
dreamed of anything like that.  Heavens!  How I have been deceived in
this man Holmes!  You have the original letter, you say?"

Jamieson tapped his breast pocket significantly.

"You bet I've got it!" he said.  "And it doesn't leave my possession,
either, until it's been read into the records of this court.  You'll
have to call me as a witness, Niles.  That's the only way we can get
this over, since I can't very well act as counsel for either side of
the case."

"All right.  First thing after lunch," said Niles.

Holmes was in the courtroom, and Jamieson, happening to look up just as
Niles spoke to him, caught the merchant pointing to him, the while he
bent over and talked earnestly with a sinister, scowling man who was
unknown to the lawyer, but who seemed to be on the most intimate terms
with Holmes.  However, he thought nothing of the incident.  He had
understood from the first that in opposing Holmes, and doing all he
could to spoil his plans regarding Bessie and Zara, he was incurring
the millionaire's enmity, and he did not greatly care.

"You know," he had said to Eleanor, "this chap Holmes thinks--or he did
think, at least--that I'd be scared by his ability to help or hurt a
man in my profession in the city.  But I think a whole lot of that is
bluff on his part.  I don't believe he can do as much as he thinks he
can.  And I don't know that I care a whole lot, anyhow.  He hasn't gone
out of his way to help me so far, and I've managed to get along pretty
well.  I guess I can do without him to the end of the chapter."

Just after the court adjourned for lunch, Niles was called away by
Curtin, the leader of the lawyers Holmes had hired to defend the gypsy
prisoners, and Jamieson saw them talking earnestly together for several
minutes.  Naturally, he did not try to overhear the conversation, but
he could not have done so in any case, for Curtin kept looking about
him, so that it was evident that he, at least, regarded what he had to
say as both important and confidential.  But Charlie waited patiently,
sure that Niles would tell him all he wanted to know, unless he should
again go over to the other side.

"They're wise to us," said Niles, when he returned.  "Curtin knows
we've got something up our sleeves, and maybe he wasn't anxious to find
out what it was!"

"You didn't tell him, I hope?"

"Not I!  Trust me to know better than that!  But I think he's got an
inkling."

"Lord, why shouldn't he?" said Charlie to himself, bitterly.  "Of
course, there's no reason why that gypsy shouldn't tell him!  He
probably doesn't realize what the letter means, but we do, and if the
rascal has told them that it was taken away from him they would realize
at once that they were up against it, and hard!"

"Well, you haven't told me the whole story," he said, with a suggestion
of being offended in his tone.  "So I can't give you my advice as I
would be glad to do if you had taken me into your confidence."

"You'll know it all pretty soon, Niles," said Charlie.  "Don't think
you're being slighted--you're not.  I know just how valuable you are to
us, and that we couldn't get along without you.  And, what's more, I'll
say that I never saw a case handled better than this one.  You're all
right.  Don't worry; I don't care much if they do know.  It's too late
for them to do anything now.  I'm going to run back to the hotel.  I've
got to get a few papers from my room.  Then I'll be back."

Leaving Niles with little ceremony, he hurried back to the hotel, and
went directly to his room, without telling anyone where he was going.
As he passed through the lobby the clerk happened to be busy and did
not see him, and, since his room was on the second floor, he did not
wait for the elevator, but walked up.  Seemingly, the only person who
was interested in his movements was the sinister, black-browed man who
had been talking so earnestly with Holmes in the courtroom half an hour
before.  And Charlie, in a great hurry, paid no attention to
him--probably did not even know that he was in the hotel.

With the man, however, matters were very different.  He watched Charlie
go up the stairs with the keen eyes of a hawk; and, a minute later,
followed him up.  And when, ten minutes after he had entered his room,
Charlie opened the door to come out, he was met with a sharp blow on
the chest that staggered him and sent him reeling back into his room.

In an instant the sinister man he had dismissed so readily from his
mind when he had seen him talking with Holmes was on him, the door
closing as he flung himself through it, and Charlie, taken completely
by surprise, was overpowered before he could even begin to put up any
sort of resistance.

Even his belated impulse to call for help came too late.  A gag was
thrust into his mouth as he was about to open it, and then, with no
pains to be gentle, his assailant produced stout cord from his pocket
and tied him securely to the bed.

While he was thus rendering Charlie impotent to obstruct him in any way
the ruffian said nothing whatever.  Now, however, standing off a
minute, and looking at his victim with much satisfaction, he broke his
silence.

"Trussed up as neat as a turkey for Thanksgiving," he said, in a hoarse
whisper that seemed to be his natural speaking voice.  "You won't do
any more damage, I guess."

And then Charlie, who had been bewildered by this attack, realized at
last its meaning.  For his assailant came close to him, began to search
his pockets, and, in a moment, drew out, with a cry of triumph, the
precious letter from Holmes to the gypsy--the letter without which the
whole case against Holmes was bound to collapse!

Charlie struggled insanely for a moment, but then suddenly he grew
quiet.  For his eyes had happened to wander toward the window, which
the thief, with the carelessness for details that has caused the
downfall of so many of his kind, had left uncovered.  And, peering
straight at him from a window across a small light shaft, he saw Bessie
King.  He was longing to communicate with her when the thief suddenly
addressed him again.

"Say, bo," he said, in the same hoarse whisper, "I ain't got nuttin'
against you, see?  If youse wants this here writin', you can have
it--if youse is willin' to pay more fer it than the other guy!"

He looked greedily at Charlie, and, though the lawyer understood
thoroughly that the man was only trying to add to the money that Holmes
had promised him, and would probably not give up the paper, no matter
how much was offered, he jumped at the chance to gain time.  Bessie had
disappeared, and he was sure that she had gone for help.  If he could
hold the robber for a few minutes he might beat him yet.

To talk with the gag in his mouth was, of course, impossible, and he
managed to lift his bound hands toward his mouth to remind the robber
of this.

"Say, that's right," said the thief.  "Here, I'll ease youse a bit so
youse can talk.  But no tricks, mind!"

"How much do you want?" gasped Charlie, when he was able to speak.  The
man stood over him, ready to silence any attempt to cry out, and he
knew that it would be useless to call.

"How much you got?  I don't mean in your clothes, but what youse has
got salted away in your room," asked the thief.  "I ain't got time to
look for it or I'd leave you tied up," he added, with a leer.

"You've got something to sell, so name your price," said Charlie, still
trying to kill time.  "That's for you to do.  What does the other side
offer you?"

"Gimme two hundred bucks!" suggested the robber.

"That's a lot of money," said Charlie, pretending to hesitate.  "I
might give it to you, but I haven't got it here.  I could get it for
you or give you a check----"

"Cash--and cash down!" leered the robber.  "An' say, if youse thinks
some of them dames youse is workin' with can help youse out of this
hole, guess again.  They're all locked up, same as you--from the
outside.  And there ain't no telephones in the rooms in this hotel."

For a moment Charlie's heart sank.  If this was true, even though she
realized his danger, Bessie could not help him.  He did not know what
to do, or what to say.  But, fortunately for him, he was spared from
deciding.  For there was a sudden crash at the door, and in a moment it
gave way before the onslaught of the proprietor, two or three clerks,
and a couple of stout porters.  In a second the robber was overpowered
and a prisoner, and then Charlie saw Bessie, her eyes alight with
eagerness, in the background.

"I climbed down the waterspout!" she cried.  "I knew I had to get them
to help you!"



CHAPTER VII

BACK AT LONG LAKE

"Why, Bessie's a regular brick!" said Charlie, as they sat at dinner
that night.  Eleanor and the two girls were going back to Long Lake on
the first train in the morning, and they were celebrating with the best
dinner the town of Hamilton could afford.  "I told you I needed a
nurse, Nell, and here one of you had to save me for the second time
since I came here to look after you!"

"That man was terribly clever," said Eleanor, gravely.  "I never even
knew I was locked in--I was let out before I had had a chance to find
it out for myself."

"Bessie and I didn't know it, either, until she saw him tying Mr.
Jamieson up," said Dolly.  "We'd have found it out as soon as we wanted
to leave the room to go down for lunch, of course, but he was so quiet
about locking us in that neither of us heard him at all."

"He was just a little bit too clever," said Charlie.  "If he hadn't
been so anxious to make a little more money out of me, he would have
got clean away and given that paper to Holmes."

"Not getting it seemed to upset Mr. Holmes a good deal, didn't it?"
laughed Eleanor.  "Is it true that he left town by the first train
after he heard that the letter had been found when they searched that
wretched man?"

"Quite true," said Charlie, happily.

"Just what did happen in court this afternoon?" asked Dolly.  "I
thought we were going to be witnesses and have all sorts of fun.  And
now it's all over and our trip down here has just been wasted!"

"Why, Holmes's lawyer, Curtin, threw up the case as soon as he heard
about that letter, Dolly.  There wasn't anything else for him to do.
With that, added to the stories you two girls had to tell, there wasn't
any way of getting those gypsies off."

"Are they going to send them to prison?"

"John will go to jail for six months.  He's the one who actually
carried Dolly off, you know.  As for Peter and Lolla, who helped him,
they get off easily.  They were sentenced, too, but the judge suspended
sentence.  If they forget, and do anything more that's wrong, they'll
have to serve out their term."

"I'm very glad," said Eleanor.  "Poor souls!  I don't believe they
understood what a dreadful thing they were doing."

"It was a good thing for them they decided to plead guilty and take
their medicine," said Charlie.  "Or, I should say, it's a good thing
that Curtin decided it for them.  Don't worry about them any more.
Holmes will have to pay John a good deal of money when he comes out of
jail to make him keep quiet--if he manages, first, to shut up the
people here, so that the whole story doesn't come out."

"Can he do that, now that they've seen that letter?"

"I'm half afraid he can.  He's got a tremendous lot of money, you see,
and this is a time when he naturally wouldn't hesitate much about
spending it.  And I don't know that it's such a bad thing.  It gives us
a starting point, you see.  And if the thing isn't made public, he may
get more reckless, and give us another chance to land him where he
belongs, and that's in the penitentiary.  He's cleared out now and we
couldn't persuade these people to go after him, even if it was worth
while, which I don't believe it is."

"How on earth did you get down?" Eleanor asked Bessie.

"Oh, I saw there wasn't anything else to do," said Bessie, modestly.
"If you could have seen that man's face!  I was terribly frightened.  I
didn't know what he might be going to do to Mr. Jamieson, so I just
knew I had to get help.  And I was afraid to call out of the window."

"Why?  Someone would have been sure to hear you," said Eleanor.

"Because I thought the only person who was absolutely sure to hear me
was that man who was tying Mr. Jamieson up.  And I didn't know what he
would do, but I was afraid he might do something dreadful right away if
I called out and he knew that he was being watched."

"You're all right, Bessie!" said Jamieson, admiringly.  "Was it very
hard, going down the waterspout?"

"No, it really wasn't.  Dolly was afraid I was going to fall, and she
wanted to go herself.  But I said I had seen it, and made the plan, and
so I had a right to be the one to go.  It really wasn't so far."

"Far enough," said Jamieson, grimly.  "You might easily have broken
your neck, climbing down three flights that way."

"Oh, but it wasn't three!  It was only one.  You see, there was a
balcony outside the window, and on the next floor there was another,
and I thought that window was pretty sure to be open.  It was, so I got
inside, and then I found the room I was in was empty, and the door was
open, so all I had to do was to walk down the stairs and tell the
manager.  They all came up and, well, you know what happened then
yourself."

"I certainly do!" said Jamieson.  "And I don't think I'm likely to
forget it very soon, either.  That was a pretty tough character.  I'll
remember his face, all right."

"Well," said Eleanor, happily, "all's well that ends well, they say.  I
really believe Dolly had the worst time, when you think about it.  She
had to watch Bessie climbing down that waterspout."

"That was dreadful," said Dolly, shuddering at the memory.  "But I
think it was much worse for Mr. Jamieson and Bessie than for me."

"Bessie was so busy getting down that I don't believe she had much time
to think about the danger," said Eleanor.  "And Mr. Jamieson didn't
know her door was locked, so he had the relief of thinking that she'd
been able to get help in just an ordinary fashion.  Of course, if he or
I had known what a risk she was running we'd have been half wild with
anxiety about her.  So you see it really was hard for you not to scream
or do anything to startle that man."

"That was what I was afraid of most," said Bessie.  "I don't know what
I'd have done if Dolly had screamed."

"You needn't have been afraid!  I was too frightened even to open my
mouth," said Dolly, honestly.  "I couldn't have uttered a sound, no
matter what depended on it, until I saw you were all right.  And then I
just slumped down and laughed--as if there was something funny."

"Well, we can all laugh at it now," said Eleanor.  "Are you going back
to the city to-night, Charlie?"

"No, I guess I'll be held up here until about noon to-morrow," he
answered.  "I've got to appear against that poor chap, and there are
one or two other matters I want to attend to while I'm here.  I'll see
you on your train in the morning, and I'll try to look out for myself
when you're gone."

It was an enthusiastic and eagerly curious crowd of girls that welcomed
them back to Long Lake the next day when, in the middle of the morning,
the well-remembered camp appeared.  Miss Drew, who had taken Eleanor's
place as Guardian, laughed as she greeted her friend.

"I don't know how you do it, Nell," she said.  "I never saw anything
like these girls of yours.  They did their best not to let me know, but
I managed to find out, without their knowing it, that you did about
everything in a different way from mine--and a much better way."

"Nonsense!" said Eleanor.  "I've made a few changes in the theoretical
rules of the Camp Fire.  All Guardians are allowed to do that, you
know.  But it's only because they seemed to suit us a little better--my
ideas, I mean."

"You know," said Anna Drew, thoughtfully, "I think that's the very best
thing about the Camp Fire.  It doesn't hold you down to hard and fast
rules that have got to be followed just so."

"If it did, it would defeat its own purposes," said Eleanor.  "What we
want to do--and it's for Guardians, if they're youngsters like you and
me, as well as for the girls--is to train ourselves to attend to our
jobs properly."

"Why, what jobs do you mean?"

"The job every girl ought to get sooner or later--running a home.  It's
a lot more of a job, and a lot more difficult, and important, too, than
waiting on people in a shop, or being a stenographer, and yet no one
ever thinks an awful lot about it before it comes along."

"That's so, Nell.  I never thought of it just that way.  But you're
right.  We get married, and a whole lot of us don't have any idea at
all of how to look after a house."

"It isn't fair to the men who marry us.  Marriage is supposed to be a
partnership--husband and wife as partners.  But if the man knew as
little about his part of the job as the woman generally does about hers
when she gets married, most married couples would be in the poorhouse
in a year."

"That sounds old-fashioned, but I don't believe it is, somehow."

"It certainly is not.  It's what I try to keep in mind.  That's why we
don't go in much for talking about votes for women.  I'm not saying we
ought not to vote, or that we ought to.  But I do think there are a lot
of things we ought to think about first.  Times have changed a lot, but
after all women and men don't change so very much.  Or, at least, they
ought not to change."

"I think I see what you're driving at.  You mean that your great
grandmother and mine probably spun cloth and made clothes for
themselves and most of the family, and did all sorts of other things
that we never think of doing?"

"Yes.  And I don't mean that we ought to go back to that.  A man can
buy a better shirt in a shop now for less money than you or I would
have to spend in making him one.  But there are plenty of other things
we could do in a house that we never seem to think of, somehow."

"I don't see how you think of all that!  I thought I'd spent a lot of
time studying the Camp Fire, but I never got hold of those ideas."

"Oh, they're not all mine--not a bit of it!  You ought to talk to Mrs.
Chester, our Chief Guardian.  She'd make you think, and she'd make you
believe you were doing it all by yourself, too."

"Yes, she's wonderful.  I don't know her very well, but I hope to see
more of her this winter.  I want to be Guardian of a Camp Fire of my
own.  I've had just enough of the work, substituting for other girls,
to want to spend a lot more time at it."

"You'll get the chance all right--don't worry about that!  It's
Guardians we need more than anything else.  It isn't as easy as you
would think to get girls and women who've got the patience and the time
for the work.  But that's chiefly because they don't know how
fascinating it is, and how much more fun there is in doing it than in
spending all your time going about having what people call a 'good
time.'  I've never had such a good time in my life as since we got up
this Manasquan Camp Fire."

"Well, I wish I could stay with you, and go on this wonderful tramp
with you.  But I've got a lot of girls coming up to visit me, and I've
simply got to be there to entertain them.  So if you're really going to
stay, and don't need me any more, I'll have to be getting Andrew to
take me back home again."

"I wish you could stay, too, but if you can't, you can't.  I'm ever so
grateful to you for coming.  I can tell you right now that there aren't
many people I'd trust my girls to, as I did with you!"

"I know it's a compliment, Nell, so you needn't talk about gratitude.
I'm the one to be grateful, I'm sure.  The more experience I get before
I'm a regular Guardian myself, the better chance I'll have to make good
when the time comes."

"I'm ever so glad you feel that way about it, Anna.  You know, there
are ever and ever so many girls who could do the work, and won't try.
I'm not sure that it's so much 'won't' as--oh, I don't know!  I think
they're afraid--they haven't any confidence in themselves.  They think
it would be absurd for them to try to direct others.  I felt that way
myself."

"Nearly everyone who is at all likely to make good does, Anna.  That's
the strangest part of it.  When I hear a girl talking about how easy it
is to be a good Guardian, 'and how sure she is that she'll make good,
I'm always afraid she's going to fail.  If you make the girls
understand they've got to help you, and that you know that if they
don't you won't be able to succeed, you get them ever so much more
interested."

"That's easy to understand.  It makes them feel that they really do
have a part in the work.  I noticed that about your girls,
particularly, Nell.  They seemed to feel that they were all a part of
the Camp Fire."

"Well, that's the spirit I've always tried to put into them.  I'm very
glad if I've really succeeded in doing it.  It was a good deal of a
trust for me, as well as for them--leaving them to you.  It shows, I
think, that the Camp Fire is in good shape and able to get along, not
exactly by itself, but under different conditions.  I might easily have
to leave them, you know, and if they couldn't go right ahead under
another Guardian, I'd feel that my work had been, in a way, at least, a
failure."

"All ready, Miss Drew!" called old Andrew, and then the girls gathered
on the beach and sung the Wo-he-lo song as the boat glided off.

Eleanor welcomed the quiet days that followed, during which she
completed the plans for the field day in which the Boy Scouts were also
to take part, and for the long tramp she planned as the chief event of
the summer for her girls.

"It seems sort of slow, now that those gypsies have gone, and there's
no one to make trouble for us," Dolly complained.  But Bessie and Zara,
who heard her, only laughed at her.

"You'd better be careful," said Zara.  "First thing you know you'll be
starting some new trouble."

"She's right," said Bessie.  "You said when we got away from that gypsy
that you'd had enough excitement for awhile, Dolly."

"Oh, well," Dolly pouted, "it is slow up here--no place to buy soda, no
moving picture shows--nothing!"

"I call the swimming and the walks pretty exciting," said Zara.  "I'm
really learning.  I went about twenty yards this afternoon."

"But I know how to swim, and one walk is just like another," said Dolly.

"Well, we'll have the field day pretty soon, and then, after that,
we'll start on our long walk.  There'll be plenty of excitement then,
and one walk won't be just like another.  I bet you'll be wishing for a
train before we're down in the valley again."



CHAPTER VIII

A NOVEL RACE

The morning of the long-awaited field day dawned clear and bright.  The
camp was stirring with the first rays of the rising sun, that gilded
the tree tops to the east, and painted the surface of the lake, smooth
as a mirror, with a hundred hues.  The day promised to be hot in the
open, but there was no danger of great heat on the march, which was
entirely through the woods.

"We won't worry about how hot it's going to be under the sun," said
Eleanor Mercer as the girls sat at their early breakfast.

"No.  Our work is under the trees, until we get to the camping spot,"
said Margery Burton.

"Now here's the plan of campaign," said Eleanor.  "I am going to send
two girls ahead to build the fire.  That's the most important thing,
really--to get the fire started."

"We can't use matches, can we?" asked Zara.

"No, the fire must be made Indian fashion, with two sticks.  But we all
know how to do that, I think.  The idea of sending two girls ahead is
to have that part of the work done when the main body reaches our
camping ground."

"Where is that?  We can know now, can't we, Wanaka?" asked Margery.

"Yes, it's all right to tell you now.  You know those twin peaks beyond
Little Bear Lake--North Peak and South Peak?"

"Yes," came the answer, in chorus.

"Well, our place is on North Peak, and Mr. Hastings will take his
Scouts to South Peak.  The trails are different, but they're the same
length."

"Why was that kept such a secret?" asked Bessie.

"Because Mr. Hastings and I decided that it would be fairer if there
was no chance at all to go over the trail first and learn all about it.
Then there was the chance that if either party thought of it they could
locate kindling wood and fallen wood that could be used for the
fire-making.  On a regular hike, you see, you would go to a place that
was entirely strange, and it seemed better to keep things just as near
to regular hiking conditions as we could."

"Oh, I see!  And that's a good idea, too.  It's just as fair for one as
for the other, then."

"Who are going to be the two girls to go ahead?  And why can't we all
get there at the same time?" asked Dolly.

"One question at a time," said Eleanor, with a laugh.  "I'll answer the
second one first.  We've got to carry all the things we need for making
camp and getting a meal cooked.  So if we send out two girls ahead,
with nothing to carry, they can make much better time than those who
have the heavy loads."

"Will they do the same thing?" asked Zara.  "The Boy Scouts, I mean?"

Eleanor smiled.

"Ah, I don't know," she said.  "They will if Mr. Hastings thinks of it,
I'm sure, because it would be a good move in a race."

"Is it quite fair in case they don't happen to think of it?" asked
Margery, doubtfully.

"Why not?  This isn't just like a foot-race.  It isn't altogether a
matter of speed and strength, or even of endurance--"

"I should hope not!" declared Dolly.  "If it was, what chance would we
have against those boys?"

"Suppose we found some new way of rubbing sticks that would make fire
quicker than the regular way, it would be fair to use that, wouldn't
it, Margery?" asked Bessie.

"That's the idea.  Bessie's right, Margery," said Eleanor.  "We have a
perfect right, and so have they, to employ any time-saving idea we
happen to get hold of.  And I'm quite sure this is a good one, and that
Mr. Hastings will think of it, too."

"Well, I hope he doesn't do anything of the sort!" said Margery, wholly
converted and now enthusiastic for the plan.

"You haven't told us yet who is to go ahead," said Dolly.  "I'm just
crazy to be one of the two--"

"We all are!  Who wouldn't like to get out of carrying a load?" cried
two or three girls in chorus.

Eleanor laughed at the eagerness they displayed.

"It won't be all fun for the pathfinders, as we'll call them," she
said.  "They've got a lot of responsibility, you see."

"What sort of responsibility?" asked Margery.  "All they've got to do
is to go just as fast as they can and make a fire when they get to the
peak."

"That isn't all they've got to do, though.  They've got to make a smoke
signal, for one thing, by stopping the smoke with a blanket, and then
letting it rise, straight up, three times.  And they've got to go to
work and get enough wood to keep the fire going, as soon as they've
lighted it."

"But they'll be able to go along ever so easily on the trail!"

"It isn't a very well marked trail.  Neither of the trails to the peak
is, for that matter.  And the pathfinders, if they find they're in any
danger of making a wrong turn, must make a sign for us who follow.
That might easily save us a good many minutes in getting there.  So you
see it isn't quite as easy as you thought.  Now, I'll call for
volunteers.  Who wants to join the pathfinders?"

Every girl there put up her hand at once, amid a chorus of laughs and
jesting remarks.

"Heavens!  Well, you can't all be pathfinders, or there'd be no one to
carry the dinner!  We'll have to figure out some way of picking out
two, because that's all there can be."

"We might draw lots," said Margery.

"I don't like that idea much," said Eleanor.  "If you're all so anxious
to go, we ought to make it a reward of some sort--a prize.  It's too
bad I didn't think of it earlier, because then we could have had a
really good competition."

She frowned thoughtfully for a moment.

"I know what we'll do," she said.  "There are just eight of you, and
we'll divide all the dishes from breakfast into eight even piles.  We
can do that easily.  Then you shall all start together--"

"Oh, that's good!" said Dolly.  "And the ones who finish first will be
pathfinders?"

"Yes, those who finish first, and put their dishes away properly,
Dolly--not just finish washing and drying.  I'll be the judge.  Come
on, Margery, we'll arrange the piles."

So the arrangements were made, and then, with each girl standing over
her own pile of dishes, they waited eagerly for the word.

"I'll start you," laughed Eleanor.  "Now, are you ready?  Take
dishes--wash!"

And at once there was a great splashing and commotion.  But Eleanor
broke in with a laugh.

"Time!" she called.  "Stop washing'"

Everyone stopped, and looked at her curiously.

"Here's a rule," she said.  "I only just thought of it.  Anyone who
breaks a dish is out of the race, even if she finishes five minutes
ahead of the next girl.  Understand?"

"Yes," they cried.

"All right.  Dolly, you kept on washing for nearly half a minute after
the others had stopped.  When I give them the word to start again,
don't you do it.  I'll give you a starting signal of your own.  You,
too, Mary King!  I'll call your names when you two are to start."

Then they bent to their piles again, and waited for Eleanor's "Ready?
Wash!"

Dolly and Mary King, forced to restore the time they had unwittingly
stolen from the others, waited as patiently as they could until they
heard "Now, Dolly!" and after a moment more, "All right, Mary!"

"Oh, this is fine sport!" cried Dolly, washing with an energy she had
never displayed before.  "I think we ought to have races like this ever
so often.  They're much better fun than most of the games we play!"

"Anything that makes you act as if you liked work is a fine little
idea, Dolly," said Margery.  "But I haven't got time to talk--I've got
to wash.  I never thought anyone could wash dishes as fast as you're
doing it!"

"I'm in practice," laughed Dolly.  "I hate them so, that I'm always
trying to get them done just as quickly as I can."

And a moment later Dolly, to the general surprise, had put away her
last dish, an easy winner.

It was plain to her in a moment that the struggle, now that she was out
of it, would be between Margery and Bessie.  They had finished washing
almost at the same moment, with Margery perhaps a couple of spoons
ahead.

"Hurry, Bessie, do hurry!" pleaded Dolly.  "We've done so much together
up here, we ought to be pathfinders together, too.  Can't I help her,
Miss Eleanor?"

"No, that wouldn't be fair, Dolly," laughed Eleanor.  "Each one has got
to win or lose on her own merits in this race."

Bessie smiled as she heard Dolly's impulsive appeal.  She wanted to
win, too, because it was impossible for her to engage in any contest
without wanting to come out ahead, or as far ahead as she could.  This
time, of course, second place was all she could hope for, but she was
not one of those people who, if the chief prize is beyond their reach,
relax their efforts to do as well as they can.

As she finished wiping each dish dry she arranged it, stacking her
dishes in order of their size, so that they could all be carried easily
to the tent where they were to be laid away.

Margery, on the other hand, grew nervous as she neared the end.  Once a
plate slipped through her hand, but, fortunately, her cry of dismay as
it fell was premature, for it did not break.  But she was putting her
dishes down anywhere, without regard for their size or for convenience
in carrying them, and as a result, though she had finished the actual
drying nearly a minute before Bessie, she was still frantically
gathering her piled dishes together in her arms when Bessie wiped the
last spoon.

Then, without haste, Bessie picked up her whole pile, and, starting
before Margery, walked carefully over to the tent.  She put away her
last dish before Margery was half done, and the contest was over.

"Go on, girls!" cried Eleanor, as she saw that interest was slackening
with the choice of the second pathfinder.  "You don't want to be last,
do you?  I should think you'd all want to avoid that!"

The reminder was enough, and the others were soon busily finishing
their tasks.  Zara was fourth, right after Margery, and then there was
a wild scramble among the last four.  They finished almost together,
and Eleanor, with a laugh, had to declare that there was a tie for
sixth, seventh and eighth places.

"So no one was really last!" she declared, merrily.  "My, but that was
good fun!  It certainly was, if you enjoyed racing half as much as I
did watching you!  It's a pity we never thought of that before."

"I'll beat you next time, you two!" vowed the panting Margery, shaking
her first in mock anger at Bessie and Dolly.  "More haste, less speed!
That's what beat me!  But I'll know better next time."

"We'll have a team race some time," said Eleanor.  "Two teams of
four--that ought to be good fun.  Oh, there are lots of ways of having
a good time if you only think of them!"

Then she clapped her hands as a sign for attention.

"Now we've got to take our fun for the rest of the day more seriously,"
she said.  "You girls will have to take your fire-making sticks, and an
old blanket.  You understand how to make smoke signals, don't you?"

"Yes, indeed!" cried Dolly and Bessie, in one breath.

"All right, then.  How will you make signs to show us which way to go?"

"With a hatchet.  We'll blaze the trees," suggested Bessie.  "Then
you'll be sure to see it.  There's no way that a sign like that can be
blown away, or get moved by accident.  With the thin end of the blaze
in the direction you are to take, if there's a choice."

"All right.  Hatchet, old blanket, fire-making sticks.  You'd better
carry water bottles, for you'll be thirsty on the way."

"Why, we'll find plenty of water.  There must be springs!" Dolly
protested.

"Undoubtedly; but you don't know just where they are, and you'd waste
time looking for them.  If you have your water bottles, with a little
bit of lemon juice in the water, you can have a drink wherever you
like."

"I like the taste of lemon juice, too."

"It isn't only because you like it that it's a good thing to have it,
but it will quench your thirst better than plain water, and it will
make your water last better, too, because you don't need to drink so
much of it."

"It's fine if you're hot, too," said Margery, approvingly.  "A little
lemon water will cool you off better than half a dozen of those
ice-cream sodas you're so fond of, Dolly."

Dolly made a face at her.

"I think it's mean of you to tease me about soda when you know I can't
have it, no matter how much I want it," she said.  "But I don't care,
really.  I wouldn't have an ice-cream soda now, if I had a pocket full
of money and I could get one by going across the street!"

Eleanor smiled at her.

"What a reckless promise!  Only you know you are perfectly safe," she
said, half mockingly.

"I really mean it," protested Dolly.  "I'm going to swear off--for a
long time, anyhow.  Bessie and Zara and I are going to try to get
enough honor beads to be Fire-Makers as soon as we get back to the
city, and that's one of the ways I'm going to try."

"Then you've started already?" said Eleanor.

"No, not yet," said Dolly.  "I'm going to wait--"

A shout of laughter interrupted her.

"Oh, yes, we know!  Until you have just one or two last ones--"

Dolly flushed dangerously for a moment.  But her new control over
herself, that she was fighting so hard to maintain, saved her from the
sharp reply that was on her tongue.

"You might let me finish," she said.  "If I swore off now I suppose the
time while we're here would count toward an honor bead, but what's the
use of swearing off something I can't get, anyhow?  I'm going to swear
off the first time I see a soda fountain!"

"Good for you, Dolly!" exclaimed Eleanor, heartily.  "That's the right
spirit."



CHAPTER IX

THE PATHFINDERS

It did not take the two pathfinders long to get so far ahead of the
main party that they were out of sight and almost out of hearing.  The
girls who carried the necessary provisions and utensils, however, made
their way light by singing Camp Fire songs as they walked, and their
voices echoed through the woods.

"This is great!  Oh, I love it!" said Dolly, happily.  "I'm so glad you
beat Margery, Bessie!"

"I thought you liked Margery, Dolly?"

"I do, but you're my very dearest chum, Bessie!  I think Margery's
great, but she is just a little bit superior, sometimes.  I expect I
deserve it when she gives me a lecture, but I like you because you
don't preach, though you're just as good as she is any day in the week!"

"I'll probably lecture you some time, Dolly, if I think you need it."

"Go ahead!  I don't mind when you do it, or if you do it.  I don't know
why, but it's the same way with Miss Eleanor.  She's scolded me
sometimes, but she isn't a bit like my Aunt Mabel, or the teachers at
school."

"How do you mean?  They're kind to you, I suppose?  It isn't that that
makes the difference?"

"No.  I don't just know what it is, except that she makes me feel as if
I had made her unhappy, and they always talk just as if they thought it
was their duty."

"It probably is, Dolly.  You ought to have had the sort of scoldings I
used to get from Maw Hoover!  Then you'd know what a real scolding is
like."

"Oh, I just hate that woman, Bessie, for the way she treated you.
Don't you hate her, too?"

"I don't know.  I used to, but I'm sort of sorry for her, Dolly."

"I don't see why!"

"Well, since I've been away from the farm, I've seen that she didn't
have a very much better time than I did.  She had to work all day long,
and she never got much pleasure."

"That wasn't any excuse for her treating you so badly."

"I think maybe it was, Dolly.  I suppose she was nervous, like a whole
lot of other women, and she had to have something to wear herself out
on.  She took things out on me.  I'm beginning to think that maybe she
wasn't really mad at me when she acted like that.  I believe she used
to get so upset about things that she had to sort of kick out at
whatever was nearest--and it happened to be me."

"Well, I hate her, just the same!  You can forgive her if you like, but
I'm not going to!"

"It's a good thing she never did anything to you, Dolly.  If you hate
her like that when you've never even seen her, what would you do if you
had some real reason for it?"

Dolly laughed.

"I suppose I am silly," she said, "but I can't help it.  I just feel
that way, that's all.  Do you know what I wish, Bessie?"

"Nothing dreadful, I hope, Dolly."

"She'd think it was, I'm sure--spiteful old cat!  I wish you'd find out
all about your father and mother, and that they'd not be lost any more."

"Oh, Dolly, so do I!  But that wouldn't seem dreadful to Mrs. Hoover,
I'm sure.  I think she'd be glad enough."

"Let me finish.  I wish you'd find them or that they'd find you, and
turn out to be ever so rich.  They might, you know.  It might all be a
mistake, or an accident, or something."

"I wouldn't care if they weren't rich, Dolly, if only I knew what had
become of them, and why they had to leave me there all that time with
the Hoovers."

"I just know there's some good reason, Bessie.  You're so nice that
you're bound to be happy some time.  Of course you'd like to have your
father and mother, whether they were rich or not.  But wouldn't it be
great if they really were rich?"

"I don't know.  I don't know what it's like to be rich, Dolly."

"Oh, you could do all sorts of things!  You could make them take you
back to Hedgeville in an automobile, just for one thing."

"There are lots and lots of places I'd rather go to, Dolly."

"Oh, yes, of course!  But think of how everyone would stare at you, and
how envious they would be!  I bet they'd be sorry then that they
weren't nice to you."

Bessie smiled wistfully at the fantastic idea Dolly's lively brain had
conjured up.

"It would be fun," she sighed.  "They did tease me dreadfully, some of
the girls.  You see, the Hoovers didn't have so very much money, and my
clothes were mostly old things that Maw made over to fit me when she
was through with them."

"You could go back in better dresses than any of those Hedgeville girls
ever even saw, Bessie.  And just think of how that horrid Jake Hoover
would feel then."

"Oh, well, there's no use thinking about it, Dolly.  It won't ever
happen.  So I shan't be disappointed, anyhow."

"Well, it might happen and I think it's simply great to dream about
things that might happen to you.  It doesn't do any harm, and it's
awfully good fun."

"You do the dreaming, Dolly, and tell me about your dreams.  You can do
it better than I could.  I'm no good at dreaming that way at all."

"All right, that's a bargain.  And right now I guess we'd better stop
thinking about dreams and attend to pathfinding.  Here's a turn.  Which
way ought we to go?"

"Straight ahead, I'm sure," said Bessie.  "See how the trail narrows in
the other direction, and it doesn't look as if it had ever been made
like the main trail.  It's more as if people had just broken through
one after another, until a sort of trail was made."

"Yes, and it isn't straight ahead, either.  When there's a big tree in
the way, the trail goes around it, and on the regular trail the guides
went along a straight line and chopped down trees when they had to."

"All right.  Give me the hatchet, and I'll mark the proper way to go."

Deftly Bessie, who had had long practice in the use of a hatchet when
she lived with the Hoovers, cut off a strip of bark on a tree at the
meeting point of the two trails, so that it formed a plain and
unmistakable guide to anyone who knew anything at all of woodcraft.

Then they pressed on.  They walked fast, and, with nothing to delay
them, they made good time, pausing only once in a while to take a sip
from their water bottles.

"I can't hear the girls singing any more, can you?" asked Dolly,
presently.

"No," said Bessie, pausing to listen.  "I guess we must be quite a
little way ahead of them now.  We ought to be, of course."

"How much sooner than they ought we to reach the peak?"

"That's pretty hard to tell.  I don't know how far it is.  But I should
think we ought to walk about four miles to their three.  So if it's ten
miles, we ought to be about two miles and a half ahead of them when we
get there--and they ought to walk that in about half an hour--say a
little more, forty minutes."

"That would give us plenty of time to get things ready."

"I should hope so!  We really haven't so very much to do when we get
there.  It's quite an honor for us to be allowed to make the fire,
isn't it?"

"Yes, it is.  But we won the right to do it, Bessie.  You must remember
that.  And, of course, it isn't like a ceremonial fire."

"No, but it's a real fire, and an important one.  Look!  We're
beginning to go down hill now.  We'll be climbing again before we get
there, though."

"Let's hurry!  I'm just crazy to get the fire started.  Who is going to
make the light?"

"Why, you are, Dolly!  You won the dish-washing race, so you've
certainly got the right to do that."

"I'll let you do it if you want to, Bessie.  I don't care about the old
race."

"No.  You earned the right.  And I believe you can do it better than I
can, anyhow."

"It's just a trick, when you once know how.  I used to think it was a
wonderful thing to do, but it's just as easy as threading a needle."

"That's another thing that isn't easy until you know just how to do it,
though."

"I guess that's so.  I've seen boys try to do it, ever and ever so many
times, and they usually threw the needle and thread away two or three
times before they managed it."

"Are we to cook lunch as soon as we all get to the camping spot?"

"I don't think so.  It would be too early, you see."

"I guess the fire will be made, though.  Do you know what we are going
to have?"

"Potatoes.  I saw those.  And I believe we're going to have a ham, too.
And coffee, of course, and a lot of fruit for dessert."

"Well, the ham would take quite a long time to cook.  I guess maybe
we'd have to start in cooking right away to get finished in time."

"The boys ought to be having just the same sort of meal that we do.  Or
else it wouldn't be fair, because some things take longer to cook than
others, and you can't hurry them, either."

"Oh, I remember now that Miss Eleanor spoke about that.  That's one of
the rules."

"I believe we're getting near, for the trail is rising pretty sharply
now," said Dolly.

"That's so.  See how hilly it is getting to be.  It's quite clear on
top of the peaks, I believe.  I wonder if we'll be able to see them on
the other peak and if they'll be able to see us?"

"We'll see the smoke, anyhow.  There's nearly half a mile between the
two peaks, Miss Eleanor said."

"Come on, let's hurry.  I'll be dreadfully disappointed if they get
their fire started first."

"So will I."

Then the ascent grew so sharp that for a time they needed all their
breath for the climb before them.  But the prospect of reaching their
destination prevented them from being weary; they were too excited by
this strange sort of race in which the contestants could not see one
another at all.

"I think this is splendid!" panted Bessie.  "This being on our honor.
Either side could cheat, and the other wouldn't know it--but neither
side will."

"Oh, there's no fun in cheating," said Dolly, scornfully.  "If I win
anything, I want to know I've really won it, not that I got it because
I was smarter than someone else that way."

"That's right.  Of course it's no fun to cheat!  I always wonder why
people who cheat play games at all.  I don't believe they really know
themselves, or they wouldn't do it."

Then came the last part of the ascent, and they went at it with a will,
though they were ready for a rest.  But when they reached the summit,
and were able to stand still at last in an open space almost altogether
clear of trees they were amply rewarded for all their exertions.

First of all they looked eagerly to the south, toward the peak that was
the twin of their own.  A happy exclamation burst from them
simultaneously.

"No smoke there yet!" cried Bessie.

"We're here in time!" echoed Dolly.

"We mustn't waste any time, though," cried Bessie.  "Get your sticks
started while I lay a fire, Dolly."

Swiftly Dolly sank to her knees and arranged her fire-making apparatus,
the bow, the socket and the drill.  Then, while she drew the bow
steadily and slowly, making the drill revolve in the socket which was
full of punk, Bessie brought small, dry sticks and a few leaves, so
that when the spark came in the punk, it would have fuel upon which to
feed.

"There it is--the fire!" cried Dolly.  "See how it runs along in the
leaves, Bessie."

First a little glowing ember; then tiny flames, that crackled and
sputtered.  And then arose a wisp of smoke.  Carefully Bessie piled on
stick after stick, carefully chosen and well dried by sun and wind, so
that they would burn quickly.

"Oh, the beautiful fire!" cried Dolly.  "I do love it, Bessie.  See,
how it runs along.  Really, it's a splendid fire!"

Merrily it blazed up, bright and clear.

"Now we want some green wood that will make a smoke," said Dolly.
"Here's some.  I think it's burning well enough now, don't you?"

"Yes.  Let's make the smoke now."

On went the green, damp wood, resinous and full of oil.  And in a
moment a thick smoke hid the bright, leaping flames.

"Here's the blanket!" cried Dolly.  "Catch the other side--now!"

Standing on either side of the fire, the blanket held over it, they
dipped it down now, so that the smoke was caught and held under the
obstruction.  Then they lifted it clear of the fire altogether, and the
smoke, released, rose straight up in a long, tall column, that was
visible for miles where the trees did not obscure the view.  Once and
again they repeated this, making three separate columns of smoke before
they left the fire to itself.

And still there was no answering smoke from the other peak.  The girls
had won their race.

"Did the Indians really use those signals?" asked Dolly.

"They certainly did.  Out on the plains, you see, smoke like that could
be seen for miles and miles.  And so, if there were Indians a few miles
apart, signals could go very, very quickly for great distances, and
they could send messages for hundreds of miles almost as quickly as we
can send them now by telegraph."

Then they piled on more dry wood, and built the fire up so that it was
a great, roaring blaze.

"Now we will just find the water.  They'll need that for cooking."

In less than five minutes after they separated to look for the spring
they knew was near, Dolly cried out that she had found it.  And in the
same moment the first smoke rose from South Peak.



CHAPTER X

THE SIGNAL SMOKES

"There's smoke, Dolly!" cried Bessie, triumphantly.  "Oh, but we've
beaten them on this!  Ours must have gone up twenty minutes before
theirs, and they must have been able to see it when they were building
their fire, too."

"Good!  Oh, we'll take them down a peg or two before we're done today,
Bessie!"

"Don't be too confident yet, Dolly.  Remember this is only the start.
There's ever so much more to be done before we've won."

"I don't care!  You and I have done our share, anyhow."

"You certainly have," said Eleanor Mercer's laughing voice.  "But
Bessie's right; it isn't time to celebrate yet.  Come on, now, we're
all going to be busy cooking and getting ready to cook."

Dolly and Bessie looked at the girls emerging from the trail in
surprised delight.

"Well, you've done your share, and more, too," said Bessie.  "We
thought we came pretty fast, and we didn't expect you for another
fifteen minutes, anyway."

"Well, we didn't exactly loiter on the way.  I expect we'd all be glad
of a chance to rest a little, but that will have to come later.  We'll
be able to take things easy while we're eating.  We're each to allow a
full hour for that, you see, no matter when we get ready."

"But if we're ready to start eating first we can start clearing up
first, too, can't we?" asked Dolly.

"Certainly!  That's the object of hurrying now.  When we're ready to
sit down we're to make two smokes, and they are to do the same, and
again when we've finished, or when our hour is up, at least.  We'll
keep tabs on one another that way, you see, and each side will know
just how much the other has done.  There's got to be some such
arrangement as that to make it interesting."

"Yes," said Margery Burton.  "It wouldn't really seem like a race
unless we knew a little something about what the other side was doing,
I think."

"Well," said Eleanor, "I see you've got a splendid fire.  I'll appoint
you chief cook, Margery.  You are to be here at the fire, and Zara
shall help you."

Zara sprang to attention at once, and she and Margery unwrapped the
ham, and got out the big boiler in which it was to be cooked.

"You go and get water, Dolly and Bessie," said Eleanor, then.  "There
are the buckets.  Hurry, now, so that the water can be boiling while
the others are fixing the ham."

And so dividing up the tasks that were to be done, she assigned one to
each girl.  They were all as busy as bees in a moment, and the work
flew beneath their accustomed fingers.  Miss Eleanor knew the girls
thoroughly, and while, as a rule, she saw to it that each girl had to
do a certain number of things that did not particularly appeal to her
since that made for good discipline, she managed matters differently
today.

It was a time to give each girl the sort of work she most enjoyed, and
which, therefore, she was likely to do better and more quickly than any
of the other girls.

Although a stranger, hearing the singing, and seeing the bustling group
of girls without understanding just what they were doing, might have
thought he was looking on at a scene of great confusion, order really
ruled.  Each girl knew exactly what she was to do, and there was no
overlapping.  Things were done once, and once only, whereas, at the
ordinary picnic there are half a dozen willing hands for one task, and
none at all for another.

"Too many cooks spoil the broth," says the proverb, and the same rule
applies doubly to such meals as the one the girls were so busily
preparing.  But there was no spoiling here, and in a surprisingly short
time most of the girls were able to rest.  Places were laid for the
meal; plenty of water had been provided for the cooks, and there was an
ample heap of firewood beside the fire.

"I'll be ready for dinner when it's time, all right," said Dolly,
sniffing the delicious odor of the cooking ham as it rose from the
fire.  "My, but that smells good!"

"I've heard some people who had to cook meals say that it spoiled their
appetites, and that they didn't enjoy meals they had to cook
themselves," said Eleanor.  "But I don't believe that applies to us a
bit.  You'll be able to eat with the rest of us, won't you,
Margery--you and Zara?"

"I can't speak for Zara," said Margery, laughing.  "But I certainly can
for myself.  Just you watch me when dinner's ready!  Let's start the
coffee, Zara."

A great coffee pot had been brought, and a muslin sack full of coffee.
This sack was now put in the coffee pot, which was filled with water,
and the pot was set on the fire.  There is no better way of making
coffee.  The finest French drip coffee pot in the world can't equal the
brew that this simple and old-fashioned method produces.  And anyone
who has ever tasted really good coffee made in such a fashion will
agree that this is so.

"Can those boys really cook, Miss Eleanor?" asked Dolly, looking toward
the other peak, whence smoke was rising steadily.

"Can't they, just!" said Eleanor, heartily.  "What makes you ask that,
Dolly?"

"I don't know.  It seems sort of funny for them to be able to do it,
that's all.  You expect boys to do lots of other things, but cooking
seems to be a girl's business."

"Oh, there are lots of times when it's a good thing for a man to be
able to cook himself a meal, especially when he's camping out.  And
they certainly can do it--those Boy Scouts."

"Have you ever tasted any of their cooking?"

"I certainly have.  One day I was out for a long tramp near the city,
and I managed to lose way in some fashion.  You know some of the roads
are pretty lonely, and I managed to go a long way without coming to any
sort of a house where I wanted to stop and ask them to let me have
something to eat, and I was nearly starved."

"What did you do?  Wasn't there even a store where you could have
bought something?"

"I didn't find it, if there was.  Well, finally I decided to try a
short cut through some woods, and I hadn't gone very far when I ran
plump into this same troop of Boy Scouts that is on the other peak now!"

"I bet you were glad to see them!"

"Indeed I was.  I knew Mr. Hastings, you see, and when I told him I was
lost and hungry, he made me sit down right away, and he explained that
they were just going to have an early supper."

"That must have been good news!"

"If you knew how hungry I was, you'd believe it.  Well, I never have
had a meal that tasted half so good.  They had crisp bacon, and the
most delicious coffee, and real biscuit!"

"Biscuit!  And had they cooked them themselves?"

"They certainly had--and they were so good and flaky they fairly melted
in my mouth.  If you'd tasted that supper you'd never ask again if boys
could cook.  Those boys over there today will fare just as well as we
do ourselves, and they'll have just as good a time getting the meal
ready, too."

"I guess they're better able to look after themselves than most of the
boys we know at home."

"Dinner!" cried Margery, then.  "Everything else ready?  We'll be all
ready for you in a jiffy now.  The ham's cooked, and so are the
potatoes and the corn is all roasted!"

"We're ready whenever you are," said Eleanor, with a glance at the
"table."  "Dolly, you and Bessie can send up your two smoke signals
now.  I do believe we're ready to eat before they are!"

"Oh, we're going to beat them all the way!" said Dolly, happily.

Bessie and Dolly, holding the blanket together, wasted no time in
making the signal that let those on the other peak know that the Camp
Fire was ahead in another stage of the race, and, just as the second
smoke was made, a faint cheer was carried across the space between the
two peaks by the wind, which had shifted.

But it was fully twenty minutes after the girls had begun their meal
before two pillars of smoke rose from South Peak as a sign that over
there, too, the meal was ready.

"What a shame that we've got to waste a whole hour eating!" said Dolly.

"I don't call it waste.  I'm dog-tired," said Margery.  "I'm mighty
glad to sit down and rest, and I'm mighty hungry, too."

"So'm I," said Bessie.  And there were plenty to echo that.

"Well, if no one else will say it, I will," said Margery, presently.
"This _is_ a good dinner, if I did help cook it."

"No one ever praises your cooking any more; they're too busy eating,"
said Eleanor.  "You established your reputation long ago."

"Well, this was the sort of dinner you couldn't spoil," admitted
Margery, frankly.  "And when people are frightfully hungry, you only
waste your time if you do any really fine cooking for them.  All they
want is food, and they don't care much what it is, or how it's cooked."

"You don't go on that principle, though, Margery.  I notice you take
just as much trouble with your cooking whether it's likely to be
appreciated or not."

"I do that for my own sake because I really enjoy cooking.  I know what
I'm going to do next year if I can.  Teach cooking in the high school.
And I think I can get the work, too."

"That's fine, Margery.  I know you'll enjoy it."

"I think it will be pretty good fun.  You know, it isn't only just the
girls in school.  A whole lot of older girls come down--brides, and
girls who are going to be married.  And they are the silliest things,
sometimes!"

"Time's nearly up," said Eleanor, looking at her watch.  "Bessie,
signal four times with the smoke.  I want to see if my watch is right
by Mr. Hastings'."

Four times the smoke rose, and from the other peak rose two short
answering smokes.

"We arranged that signal, you see," said Eleanor.  "Now, watch!  He'll
show the time by his watch.  Count the smokes carefully."

First of all came two smokes.

"That's the hour; two o'clock," said Eleanor.  "Now count the next lot
carefully; that'll be the first digit of the minutes."

Four smoke pillars rose, at regular intervals.  And then, after a
well-marked pause, six more went up.

"All right," said Eleanor.  "Answer with four smokes.  That means it
was forty-six minutes past two, fourteen minutes to three, when they
started signalling.  And my watch and his agree exactly, so that's all
right."

"We'll have a good lead when we are able to start cleaning up," she
continued.  "But we can't waste any time.  We start at two minutes to
three, and you want to remember that they know just how far behind they
are, and we won't be able to gain any more time from now on."

"Why not, Miss Eleanor," asked Margery, "if we've done it so far?"

"It's going to be very different now, Margery.  I don't say that they
exactly despised us before, but I certainly do believe they
underestimated us.  They thought they were going to have an easy time,
and they probably loafed a little this morning.  But now, you see, they
know that they're in for a licking if they don't do mighty well, and
they'll strain every nerve to beat us."

"Oh, I suppose so, but we've really got a splendid lead."

"Yes.  And do you know what will happen if we don't look out?  We'll be
over-confident, just the way they were this morning, and it will have
just the same result.  In a race, you know, a good runner will very
often let a slower one stay ahead until they are near the finish.  They
call it making the pace.  And then, when he gets ready, he goes right
by, and wins as he likes."

But the warning, although Eleanor was sure that it had been needed,
seemed to spur the girls on.  They were waiting eagerly when she gave
the word to start cleaning up, and each girl, her task assigned to her
in advance, was at work as soon as the command to go was given.

In no time at all, as it seemed, the dishes ware washed.  Then Bessie
and Dolly, as tenders of the fire, brought buckets of water and poured
them over the glowing embers, for the rule of the Camp Fire never to
leave a spark of flame behind them in the woods was strictly enforced.

They put the fire out while the others finished packing the things that
had to be taken back.  All the rubbish had been burned before water was
poured on the fire, and when everything was finished and the girls were
ready to start the march back to Long Lake there was no sign of their
visit except the blackened ring where the fire had burned.

"Zara, I'm going to leave you here as a sentry when we start," said
Eleanor.  "I'll carry your pack until you join us."

"How long am I to stay?" asked Zara.

"Until you see that their fire is put out.  That will mean that they
will be ready to start within two minutes, and I want to know just how
much of a start we have on the hike home."

"I see.  As soon as they put it out I'm to start after you and report?"

"Yes.  Here's my watch.  Remember the exact time.  If they catch up
with us, it will be on this hike."

Then they started, singing happily as they went down the hill.  The
homeward path was easy.  Burdens were lighter than they had been on the
trip from Long Lake, and the path was mostly down hill.  And, moreover,
the Camp Fire Girls had the consciousness that, in order to win, they
needed only to hold the advantage they had gained.

"Here's Zara!" cried Bessie, who had been looking behind her.

"Good!  What time did they put out their fire?" asked Eleanor.

"Just ten minutes after you started," said Zara.  "I came as quickly as
I could, but you must have been walking fast."

"I told you they'd begin gaining on us," said Eleanor.  "See, they
picked up ten minutes in clearing up.  Come on, now, we must hurry!"

Hurry they did, and when they reached Long Lake there was a brief
period of bustle.  A new fire had to be made, and they worked with
feverish haste.  But they were in time.  Bessie and Dolly sent up the
first smoke signal before any pillar appeared at the other end of the
lake.  But the margin was small, for the first Boy Scout pillar rose
just as they sent up their third!



CHAPTER XI

OFF TO THE MOUNTAINS

Two days after the triumph over the Boy Scouts in the test of the trip
to Twin Peaks and back, and bidding good-bye regretfully to Long Lake,
the girls started on the long tramp that was to take them through the
mountains and to the valley below them on the other side.

"I've decided not to try to do any camping on the trip," said Eleanor,
"We could have more fun that way, perhaps, but it would mean carrying a
lot more, and I think the loads we've got are plenty big enough.  I
know my own pack is going to feel heavy enough when we strike some of
the real climbing later on."

"I should think we could do much better, too, in the way of interesting
others in the Camp Fire," said Margery, "if we stay at farm houses or
wherever they will take us in.  We'll seem to be more among them, and
of them.  Don't you think so?"

Eleanor smiled at Margery, pleased that she should have guessed one of
her reasons for adopting the course she had chosen.  She was already
thinking seriously of the time when Margery should be able to take her
place as a Guardian.

"We won't start tramping right away, you know," said Eleanor, as they
disembarked from the boats at the end of Long Lake, and started over
the trail for the railroad.  "We could tramp through these woods, but
it's very slow going, and I feel that we'd do better if we took the
train to Crawford, or Lake Dean, where we strike the road through the
notch.  That will give us a good start, and give us very beautiful and
interesting country for our first day's walk."

"Shall we go on the same railroad we came up on, Miss Eleanor?" asked
Bessie.

"For a little way.  We change a few stations further on, though, and
get on the line that climbs right up into the mountains.  There's no
real road that we could follow.  We'd have to take wood trails.  So
we'll save a lot of time here, and have it for the part of the trip
where we can have some really good walking."

The trip to Moose Junction did not take long.  The place seemed hardly
worthy of its name.  There was no imposing station, but only a little
wooden shack with a long platform for freight.  But at one side of the
shack was a train that provoked exclamations of delighted laughter.

"Why, that train hasn't grown up yet!" exclaimed Dolly, immensely
amused when she saw it.

"It's a narrow gauge railroad, you see, Dolly," said Eleanor.  "This
road is really only used in the summer time.  In the winter no one is
up here except a few guides who haven't any use for trains, anyhow, and
the tracks are covered with snow."

"I suppose it was cheaper to build than a regular railroad would be?"

"Yes, a good deal cheaper.  The cars are smaller, you see, and then,
when they built it, they had a chance to get their cars and engines
very cheap.  In the old days, a great many railroads were built like
this, even the regular roads that were used all the year round.  But
gradually they were all changed, and the rails were made the same on
railroads all over the country, and then these people were able to get
their cars and the other things they needed second hand.  And it's
plenty good enough, of course, for all the use anyone wants to make of
this."

Two puffing little engines were at the head of the two-car train that
was waiting at the junction, and, in a little while, after the
passengers for Crawford, the terminal station of the road, were all
aboard, they pulled out with a great snorting and roaring that amused
the girls immensely.  But, ridiculous as they looked, the little
engines were up to their work, and they took the sharp, steady climb
well enough.

"I like this," said Dolly.  "It's awfully slow, but you can see the
country.  On some of those big trains you go so fast you can't see a
thing, and this is really worth seeing."

"It certainly is!" exclaimed Bessie, who was gazing raptly out of the
window.  "Look back there where we came from!  Who would ever have
thought that there were so many lakes and ponds?"

"We're getting so high above them now that we can see them, Bessie.
Look, there's Long Lake, and I do believe I can see Loon Pond, too!"

"I'm sure of it, Dolly.  Oh, this is splendid!  But we can't see much
up ahead, can we?"

"Nothing but trees.  It's like the old story of the man who wanted to
see a famous forest, and when he was in the very middle of it he said
he couldn't see the forest because there were so many trees."

"I've seen mountains before," said Zara.  "But they weren't like this.
Where I used to live there would be one or two big mountains, but they
stood out, and you could see all the way up no matter how close you
were."

"Were they all covered with trees, like this?"

"No, not at all.  There were lots of little farms, and olive trees, and
gardens.  And sometimes there would be smoke coming from the top of the
mountains."

"You mean the volcanoes, don't you?" said Dolly.  "I'd like to see an
eruption some time.  Like the ones at Vesuvius."

"I never saw one," said Zara, with a shudder.  "But I've seen the paths
where the lava came down, and the places where people were killed, and
where whole villages were wiped out.  I'm glad there aren't any around
here."

"So is Dolly, Zara," said Bessie, dryly.  "She's always wishing for
things she doesn't really want at all, because she thinks they would be
exciting."

That would have started an argument without fail, if Dolly had not just
then had to devote her attention to something that she noticed before
anyone else.  She sniffed the air that came in through the car windows
once or twice.

"I smell smoke," she said..  "And look at the sun!  It's so funny and
red.  See, you can look at it without it hurting your eyes at all.  And
it's a good deal darker, the way it gets before a thunder shower,
sometimes."

"She's right," said Bessie.  "I believe the woods must be on fire
somewhere near here."

"I'm afraid they are," said Eleanor Mercer, who had stopped in the
aisle beside them and had overheard Bessie's remark.  "But not very
near.  You know the smoke from a really big forest fire is often
carried for miles and miles, if the wind holds steady."

"Well, it can't be so very far--not more than twenty or thirty miles,
can it, Miss Eleanor?"

"It's impossible to say, but I have known the smoke from a fire two
hundred miles away to make people uncomfortable.  They can't smell it,
but it darkens the air a little."

"Why, I had no idea of that!"

"Well, here's something stranger yet.  I heard you all talking about
volcanoes.  A good many years ago there was a frightful eruption in
Japan, or near Japan, rather, when a mountain called Krakatoa broke
out.  That was the greatest eruption we know anything about.  And a
long time afterward people began to notice that the sunsets were very
beautiful half the way around the world from it, and no one knew why,
until the scientists explained that it was the dust from the volcano!"

"Well, I hope this fire isn't where we are going!" said Dolly.

"So do I," said Eleanor.  "That's the very first thing I thought of,
though.  It wouldn't do to go into a country while the fire was on,
because it might be dangerous and we'd certainly be in the way of the
people who were fighting it, and that wouldn't be right."

"Whatever should we do, Miss Eleanor?  Go home?"

"Oh, I hardly think it's likely to be as bad as that.  We might have to
stay at Crawford for a day or two, but I was planning to spend tonight
there, anyhow.  Some friends of ours have a big camp on the lake, and
they said we could stay, if we wanted to."

"Is it as pretty a place as Long Lake?"

"I think so.  But it's quite different.  Lake Dean is a great big
place, you know.  It's more than thirty miles long, and you could put
Long Lake into it and never know where it was.  But it's very
beautiful.  And it's the highest big lake anywhere in this part of the
world.  It's right in the mountains."

"I suppose there will be lots of people there?" asked Dolly.

"Plenty," said Eleanor, smiling back at her.  "But we won't have much
to do with them, we'll be there such a short time."

"Oh, well, I don't care!" said Dolly, defiantly, as she heard the laugh
that greeted Eleanor's answer.  "I probably wouldn't like them, anyhow!"

"I really do think it's getting darker.  We must be getting nearer to
the fire," said Bessie, who had been looking out of the window.  "Do
you suppose it was some careless campers who started it, Miss Eleanor?"

"That's pretty hard to say.  But a whole lot of fires do get started by
just such people in the woods.  It shows you why we are so careful when
we build a fire and have to leave the place."

In the next hour, as the train still crawled upward, the smoke grew
thicker and thicker, until presently it was really like dusk outside
the car, and, though it was hot, the windows had to be closed, since
the smoke was getting into the eyes of all the passengers and making
them smart.

"I used to think a forest fire would be good fun," said Dolly, choking
and gasping for breath, "but there isn't any fun about this.  And if
it's as bad as this here, think of what it must be like for the people
who are really close to it."

"It's about the most serious thing there is," said Eleanor, gravely.
"There's no fun about a forest fire."

At Crawford they saw the big lake, but much of its beauty was hidden
since it lay under a pall of heavy smoke.  Even then they could see
nothing of the fire, but the smoke rose thickly from the woods to the
west of the lake, and they soon heard, from those about the station,
that a great section of the forest in that direction was ablaze.

"Good thing the lake's in the way," said one of the station porters.
"That's the only thing that makes us safe.  It can't jump water.  If it
wasn't for that it'd be on us by morning."

"There are cottages and camps on the other side of the lake though,
aren't there?" asked Dolly.

"Yes, and they're fighting hard to save them," said the porter.  "They
ain't got much chance, though, unless the wind shifts and sends the
fire back over the ground it's burned over already.  It's got out of
hand, that's what that fire's been an' gone and done."

"We'll have to stay here until it's out," said Eleanor, with decision.
"Our road begins right up there"--she pointed to the northwest end of
the lake--"and the chances are the fires will be burning over that way
before the night's over.  However, I don't believe there'll be a great
amount of damage done, if they can save the buildings on the shores of
the lake."

"Why not, Miss Eleanor?" asked Margery.  "It looks like a pretty bad
fire."

"Oh, it is, but there isn't a great deal to burn.  About two or three
miles back from the lake there's a wide clearing, and the fire must
have started this side of that, or it wouldn't have jumped.  And it
can't have been burning very long, or we'd have had the smoke at Long
Lake."

Then she went off to make some inquiries, and was back in a few minutes.

"Come on, girls," she said.  "It's only about ten minutes' walk to Camp
Sunset, where we are to stay."

And she led the way down to the lake, and along to a group of buildings
made out of rough hewn logs, that stood among trees near the water.

"Oh!" gasped Dolly, when they were inside the main buildings.  "They
call this a camp!  Electric lights, and it couldn't be better furnished
if it were in the city!"

"The Worcesters like to be comfortable," said Eleanor, with a smile,
"even when they pretend they're roughing it.  It is a beautiful place,
though I like our own rough shacks in the Long Lake country better."

"Come on!  I want to explore this place, Bessie!" cried Dolly.  "May
we, Miss Eleanor?"

"Go ahead, but be back in half an hour.  We've got to help to get
dinner, even if we are in the midst of luxury!"

So off went the two girls, and Dolly, always delighted by anything new,
was all over the place in a few minutes.

"Look at those summer houses--places for having tea, I bet," she said.
"Hello!  Why, there's another camp, just like this!"

Sure enough, through the trees they could see other buildings, all logs
outside, but probably all luxury within.  And, even while they were
looking at them, Dolly suddenly heard her own name.

"Dolly!  Dolly Ransom!  Is that really you?"

Dolly and Bessie looked up, surprised, for the call came from above and
a girl began to climb down from a tree above them, and they saw that
she had been hidden on a platform that was covered by leaves and
branches.

"Gladys Cooper!" said Dolly.  "Well, whoever would have thought of
seeing you here?"

"Oh, there are lots of us here!" said Gladys, rushing up to Dolly as
soon as she reached the ground, and embracing her.  "We're all in a
regular camp here, about a dozen of us.  We're supposed to do lessons,
but I haven't looked at a book since I've been here, and I don't
believe any of the other girls have, either!"

"Oh," said Dolly, suddenly remembering Bessie.  "This is Bessie King,
Gladys.  And this is my friend Gladys Cooper, Bessie.  We used to go to
school together before her parents sent her off to boarding-school."

Suddenly Gladys broke into a roar of laughter.

"Oh, this is rich!" she exclaimed.  "I forgot--why, you must be one of
the Camp Fire Girls who are coming here, aren't you, Dolly?"

"I certainly am--and Bessie's another," said Dolly, a little
resentfully.  "Why are you laughing?"

"Oh, it seems so funny for you to belong!  None of our crowd do, you
know, except you.  We were furious when we heard you were coming.  We
couldn't see why the Worcesters let you people have the camp.  But
you'll spend all your time with us, won't you, Dolly?  And"--she seemed
to remember Bessie suddenly---"bring your friend along, sometimes."

"Indeed, and I'll stay with my own friends!" she said, flushing hotly.



CHAPTER XII

ENEMIES WITHOUT CAUSE

"Horrid little snob!" commented Dolly, as, with the surprised Bessie
following her, she turned on her heel abruptly and left Gladys Cooper
standing and looking after her.

"Why, Dolly!  What's the matter?  And why did she talk that way about
the Camp Fire Girls?"

"Because she's just what I called her--a snob!  She thinks that because
her father has lots of money, and they can do whatever they like that
she and her family are better than almost anyone else.  And she and her
nasty crowd think the Camp Fire Girls are common because some of us
work for a living!"

Dolly's honest anger was very different from the petulance that she had
sometimes displayed, as on the occasion when she had been jealous of
poor Bessie.  And Bessie recognized the difference.  It seemed to
reveal a new side of Dolly's complex character, the side that was loyal
and fine.  Dolly was not resenting any injury, real or fancied, to
herself now; the insult was to her friends, and Bessie realized that
she had never before seen Dolly really angry.

"As if I'd leave you girls and stay with them while we're here!" cried
Dolly.  "I can just see myself!  They'd want to know if I didn't think
Mary Smith's new dress was perfectly horrid, and if I said I did,
they'd go and tell her, and try to make trouble.  Oh, I know
them--they're just a lot of cats!"

"Oh, don't you think you may be hard on her, Dolly?" asked Bessie.
Secretly she didn't think so; she thought Gladys Cooper was probably
just what Dolly had called her.  But it seemed to her that she ought to
keep Dolly from quarreling with an old friend if she could.  "Maybe she
just wanted to see you, and she knew you, and didn't know the rest of
us."

"Oh, nonsense, Bessie!  You're always trying to make people out better
than they are.  I don't know these girls who are up here with her, but
she'd say she knew me, and that we lived in the right sort of street at
home, and that her mother and my aunt called on one another, so I'm all
right.  I know her little ways!"

And Bessie was wise enough to see that to argue with Dolly while she
was in such an angry mood would only make matters worse.  Bessie loved
peace, because, perhaps, she had had so little of it while she lived in
Hedgeville with the Hoovers.  But Dolly wasn't in a peaceful mood, and
words weren't to bring her into one, so Bessie decided to change the
subject.

"We'd better hurry back," she said.  "I really think it must be almost
time to start getting supper ready."

"Good!" said Dolly.  "We haven't really come so far, but it's taken us
a long time, hasn't it?  That old train from Moose Junction is about
the pokiest thing in the way of a train I ever saw."

So they made their way back to the big building that, as they had
already learned, was called the "Living Camp."  The sleeping rooms were
in other and smaller buildings, that were grouped about the central
one, in which were only three rooms, beside the big kitchen, a huge,
square hall, with a polished floor, covered with skins instead of rugs,
to bear out the idea of a rough woods dwelling, and two smaller rooms
that were used as a dining-room and a library.

And, as soon as they arrived, they found that they were not the only
ones who had had an encounter with their next door neighbors.  Margery
Burton was talking excitedly to Eleanor Mercer.

"I didn't know I was on their old land!" she was saying.  "And, if I
was, I wasn't doing any harm."

"Tell me just what happened, Margery," said Eleanor, quietly.

"Why, I was just walking about, looking around, the way one always does
in a new place, and the first thing I knew a girl in a bathing suit
came up to me!"

"'I beg your pardon,' she said, 'but do you know that you are
trespassing?'

"I said I didn't, of course, and she sort of sneered.

"'Well, you know it now, don't you?' she said, as if she was trying to
be just as nasty as she could.  'Why don't you go to the land you're
allowed to use?  I do think when people are getting charity they ought
to be careful!'"

"That's another of that crowd of Gladys Cooper's," stormed Dolly.
"What did you say, Margery?  I hope you gave her just as good as she
sent!"

"I was so astonished and so mad I couldn't say a thing," said Margery.
"I was afraid to speak--I know I'd have said something that I'd have
been sorry for afterward.  So I just turned around and walked away from
her."

"What did she do?  Did she say anything more, Margery?" asked Eleanor,
who, plainly, was just as angry as Dolly, though she had better control
of her temper.

"No, she just stood there, and as I walked off she laughed, and you
never heard such a nasty laugh in your life!  I'd have liked to pick up
a stone and throw it at her!"

"Good for you!  I wish you had!" said Dolly.  "It would have served her
right--the cat!  Bessie and I met one of them, too, but I happened to
know her, so she asked me to come and spend all my time with them while
we were here!  I'm glad I sailed into her.  Bessie seemed to think I
was wrong, but I'm just glad I did."

Eleanor Mercer looked troubled.  She understood better than the girls
themselves the reason for what had happened, and it distressed and hurt
her.  The other girls who had heard Margery's account of her experience
were murmuring indignantly among themselves, and Eleanor could see
plainly that there was trouble ahead unless she could manage the
situation--the hardest that she had yet had to face as a Camp Fire
Guardian.

"You say it was Gladys Cooper you saw, Dolly?" she said.  "The Gladys
Cooper who lives in Pine Street at home?"

"Yes, that's the one, Miss Eleanor."

"I'm surprised and sorry to hear it," said Eleanor.  "How does she
happen to be there, Dolly?  Do you know?  The Coopers haven't any camp
here, I know."

"Oh, it's a girls' summer camp, Miss Eleanor.  You know the sort.
They're run for a lot of rich girls, whose parents want to get rid of
them for the summer.  They're supposed to do some studying, but all
they, ever really do is to have a good time.  I'd have gone to one this
year if I hadn't joined the Camp Fire Girls instead.  Gladys laughed at
me in the city when she heard I was going to join."

"Mrs. Cooper wouldn't like it, I know that," said Eleanor,
thoughtfully.  "She's a charming woman.  She and my mother are great
friends, and I know her very well, too.  There's nothing snobbish about
her, though they have so much money.  I remember now; they went to
Europe this summer, and they didn't take Gladys with them."

"I wish they had!" said Dolly, viciously.  "I wish she was anywhere but
here."

"Well," said Eleanor, "I'll find out in the morning just where the line
comes between the two camps, and we'll have to be careful not to cross
it."

"I'm sure none of us want to go into their camp," said Margery.  "But
there's no fence, and there aren't any signs, so how is one to know?"

"We'll find some way to tell," said Eleanor, decisively.  "And we won't
give them any chance to make any more trouble.  They've got a right to
warn us off their property, of course, though they're just trying to be
nasty when they do it.  But as long as they are within their rights, we
can't complain just because they're doing it to be ugly.  We mustn't
put ourselves in the wrong because nothing would suit them better."

"Oh, I hope we'll be able to get away to-morrow!" said Margery,
angrily.  "I don't want ever to see any of them again."

Eleanor's eyes flashed.

"I've made up my mind to one thing," she said.  "We're going to stay
here just as long as we like!  I don't intend to be driven away in that
fashion.  And I shouldn't wonder if we could start our missionary work
better with them than with anyone else!"

"That's right--about staying here, I mean!" said Dolly,
enthusiastically.  "Why, Margery, if we ran away now, they'd think they
had scared us off.  You wouldn't want that, would you?"

"No, I guess not!" said Margery.  "I hadn't thought of that.  But it's
true.  It would be giving them an awful lot of satisfaction, wouldn't
it?"

"Understand, Dolly, and the rest of you," said Eleanor, firmly, "I
don't mean to have any petty fighting and quarrelling going on.  But I
won't let them think they can make us run away, either.  Pay no
attention to them and keep out of their way, if you can.  But we've got
just as much right to be here as they have to be in their camp, because
we're here as the guests of the Worcesters."

"I know Miss Worcester," said Margery, hotly.  "I'll bet she'd be
furious if she knew how they were acting."

"She doesn't need to know, though, Margery," said Eleanor.  "This is
our quarrel, not hers, and I think we can manage to settle it for
ourselves.  Don't begin thinking about it.  Remember that we're in the
right.  It will help you to keep your tempers.  And don't do anything
at all to make it seem that we're in the wrong."

"My, but Miss Eleanor was angry!" said Dolly, when she was alone with
Bessie' after supper, which, despite the unpleasantness caused by the
girls next door, had been as jolly as all meals that the Camp Fire
Girls ate together.  "I'm glad to see that she can get angry; it makes
her seem more lake a human being."

Bessie laughed.

"She can get angry, all right, Dolly," she said.  "I've heard it said
that it isn't the person who never gets angry that ought to be praised;
it's the person with a bad temper who controls it and never loses it.
Miss Eleanor was angry because she is fond of us and thought those
other girls were being nasty to us.  It wasn't to her that they'd been
nasty."

"No, and just you watch Gladys Cooper if she gets a chance to see Miss
Eleanor!  The Mercers have got just as much money as the Coopers, and
they are in just as good society.  But you don't see Miss Eleanor
putting on airs about it!  Gladys would be nice enough to her, you can
bet!"

"Dolly, why don't you go over and see Gladys, if you know her so well?
You might be able to talk to her and make her see that they are in the
wrong."

"No, thank you, Bessie!  I'm no good at that sort of thing.  I'd just
get angry again, and make the trouble worse than ever.  If she's got
any sense at all, she must know I'm angry, and why, and if she wants to
be decent she can come over and see me."

Nothing more happened that night.  The girls, tired from their journey,
were glad to tumble into bed early.  They all slept in one house, which
contained only sleeping rooms, and, because of the smoke, which was
still being blown across the lake when they went to bed, windows had to
be closed.  The house was ventilated by leaving a big door open in the
rear and on the side away from the wind and the smoke, and of course
all the doors of the sleeping rooms were also left open.

"I'm awfully sorry that smoke is blowing this way," said Dolly.  "Look
here, Bessie, there's a regular porch running all the way around the
house.  And do you see these screens that you can let down?  I bet they
sleep out here."

"They do," said Eleanor.  "This sleeping porch arrangement is one of
the very best things about this camp, I think.  But I don't see how we
can use it to-night, for the smoke is much too thick."

So they regretfully closed their windows.  And in the morning they
found that visitors had been at the house during the night.  Every
window was firmly closed from the outside, wedges having been driven in
in such a fashion that it was impossible to open the windows from
within.  The doors, too, were barred in some manner.

"That's a joke those girls from the next camp played on us!" cried
Dolly, furiously.  "Look there!  They must have done it.  No one else
could have managed it."

The house resembled nothing so much as a hive of angry bees.  The girls
buzzed with indignation, and loud were the threats of vengeance.

"How are we going to get out?" cried Margery, indignantly.  "What a
wicked thing to do!  Suppose the place had caught fire?  We might all
have been burned up just because of their joke!"

But Bessie had busied herself in seeking a means of escape instead of
planning revenge, and now she called out her discovery.

"Here's a little bit of a window, but I think I can get through it,"
she said, emerging from a closet that no one had noticed.  "If you'll
boost me up I'm pretty sure I can get out."

"But you'll only be on the porch when you do get out, Bessie," said
Dolly.

"I think maybe I can get those wedges out of the windows if I get out
there.  If I can't, I'm quite sure I can manage to get to the ground
and get help.  You see, everything downstairs is barred the same way.
I don't see how they could have done all that without our hearing them."

"We were sleeping pretty soundly, Bessie," said Eleanor, her cheeks red
with indignation at the trick that had been played upon her girls.  "If
the windows had been open, they couldn't have done it."

Bessie had hard work getting through the tiny closet window, which had
been overlooked by the raiders, but she managed it somehow, and in a
moment she was outside.  She first ran to the edge of the porch to look
around, and, to her anger and surprise, she saw a group of girls, all
in bathing suits, watching her and the house.  At her appearance a
shout of laughter went up, and she recognized Dolly's friend, Gladys
Cooper, who was evidently a ringleader in the mischief.

Bessie was sorely tempted to reply, but she realized that she would
only be playing into their hand if she seemed to notice them at all,
and, going to the other side of the house so that they could not see
her, she examined the windows.  But she decided very quickly that she
could do nothing without tools of some sort, and she had none to work
with.

Without any further hesitation, she slipped over the rail of the porch,
being still out of sight of the raiders, and went down the pillar,
which, being nothing more than a tree with its bark still clinging to
it, gave her an easy descent.  Once on the ground, her task was easy.
She worked very quietly, and in a minute or two she had one of the
ground floor windows open.  Eleanor Mercer, who had heard her at work,
was waiting for her.

"Oh, Miss Eleanor," said Bessie, tensely, "those girls are all around
at the other side of the house, watching.  They laughed at me like
anything when they saw me, and I'm sure they think we'll have to get
the guide to let us out."

"Good," said Eleanor, snappily.  "Do you think we can get behind them,
Bessie?"

"I'm sure we can, if we go out this way and go around through the
trees."

So bidding the other girls to stay behind for the moment, Eleanor
climbed out, and followed Bessie off the porch and around to the back
of the house.  They swung around in a wide arc, moving quietly and
making as little noise as possible, until they heard laughter in front
of them.  And a moment later they came around, and faced the astonished
raiders.



CHAPTER XIII

A PLAN OF REVENGE

Bessie had to laugh at the sight of Gladys Cooper's face when Dolly's
friend saw Miss Eleanor.  It fell, and Gladys turned the color of a
beet.  Evidently she had had no idea that Miss Mercer was with the Camp
Fire Girls.

"How do you do, Gladys?" said Eleanor, pleasantly.  "Do you know that
you are trespassing?"

"The--the Worcesters gave us permission to come on their land whenever
we liked," stammered Gladys.

"Yes, when they supposed that they and their guests were to receive the
same sort of courtesy from you.  But the Worcesters aren't here just
now, and I must ask you girls not to come across the line at all,
unless you wish to behave in a very different manner."

"I--I don't know what you mean, Miss Mercer.  We haven't done
anything--"

"That's silly, Gladys.  I'm not going to do anything about it, but I
think it would be very easy to prove that it was you and your friends
who locked us in.  Didn't you stop to think of what would have happened
if there had been a fire?"

Gladys grew pale.

"I don't suppose you did," Eleanor went on.  "I don't think you mean to
be wicked, any of you.  But just try to think of how you would have
felt if that house had caught fire in the night, and some of us had
been burned to death because we couldn't get out."

"I didn't--we never thought of that," said Gladys.  "Did we, girls?"

"Well, I don't suppose you did.  But that doesn't excuse the trick you
played at all.  I'm not going to say anything more now, but I think
that if you stop to consider yourselves, you'll find out how mean you
were, and what a contemptible thing you've done."

With heads hanging, and tears in the eyes of some of them, completely
crushed by Miss Eleanor's quiet anger as they would not have been had
she heaped reproaches upon them, the raiders started to return to their
own camp.  Eleanor stood aside to let them pass; then, with Bessie, she
went back to the camp.

"I hardly think we'll have any more trouble with them," she said.

"I don't see why they dislike us so much," said Bessie.  "We haven't
done anything to them."

"I don't know how to explain it, Bessie.  It isn't American; that's the
worst thing about it.  But you know that in Europe they have lords and
dukes and an aristocracy, don't you?  People who think that because
they're born in certain families they are better than anyone else?"

"Yes."

"Well, there's a good deal of excuse for people to feel that way over
there, because it's their system, and everyone keeps on admitting it,
and so making the aristocrats believe it.  They're the descendants of
men who, hundreds of years ago, really did do great things, and earned
certain honors that their children were allowed to inherit."

"But it isn't the same over here at all, Miss Eleanor."

"No, and that's just it.  But these girls, you see, are all from rich
homes.  And in this country some people who have a lot of money are
trying to make an aristocracy, and the only reason for being in it is
having money.  That's all wrong, because in this country the best men
and women have always said and believed that the only thing that
counted was what you were, not what you had."

"Well, I'm not going to feel bad about them, Miss Eleanor.  I guess
that if they really were such wonderful people they wouldn't think they
had to talk about it all the time, they'd be sure that people would
find it out for themselves."

"You're very sensible, Bessie, and I only hope the other girls will
take it the same way.  I really couldn't blame them if they tried to
get even in some fashion, but I hope they won't, because I don't want
to have any trouble.  I'm afraid of Dolly, though."

"I think Dolly's perfectly fine!" said Bessie, enthusiastically.  "They
were willing to be nice to her, but she stuck to us, and said she
wouldn't have anything to do with them."

"That's what the Camp Fire has done for her, Bessie.  I'm afraid that
if Dolly hadn't joined us, she'd have been as bad as they are, simply
because she wouldn't have stopped to think."

Bessie considered that thoughtfully for a moment before she answered.

"Well, then, Miss Eleanor," she said, finally, "don't you suppose that
if that's so, some of those girls would be just as nice as Dolly, if
they belonged to the Camp Fire and really understood it?"

"I'm sure of it, Bessie--just as sure as I can be!  And I do wish there
was some way of making them understand us.  I'd rather get girls like
that, who have started wrong, than those who have always been nice."

Contrary to Bessie's expectations, when they reached the Living Camp,
Eleanor made no appeal to the girls to refrain from trying to get even
with the raiders.  Eleanor knew that if she gave positive orders that
no such attempt was to be made she would be obeyed, but she felt that
this was an occasion when it would be better to let the girls have free
rein.  She knew enough about them to understand that a smouldering fire
of dislike, were it allowed to burn, would do more harm than an
outbreak, and she could only hope that they would not take the matter
too seriously.

"We're all going in bathing this afternoon after lunch," said Dolly to
Bessie, after breakfast.  "I asked Miss Eleanor, and she said it would
be all right.  The water's cold here, but not too cold, and with this
smoke all over everything, I think it will be better in the water than
it would be anywhere else."

"The wind hasn't shifted much yet, has it?" said Zara.

"It's shifted, but not altogether the right way," said Bessie.  "I
think the houses along the lake are all right now, but the wind is
blowing the fire in a line parallel with them, you see, and it will
burn over a lot more of the woods before they can get it under control."

"Miss Eleanor says we'll have to stay here a couple of days, at least,"
said Margery.  "Girls, what do you think about those cats in the next
camp?"

Dolly's teeth snapped viciously.

"I think we ought to get even with them," she said.  "Are we going to
let them think they can play a trick like that on us and not hear
anything at all about it?"

"Oh, what's the use?" said Margery.  "I think it would be better if we
didn't pay any attention to them at all--just let them think we don't
care."

"You were mad enough last night and this morning, Margery," said Dolly.
"You didn't act then as if you didn't care!"

"No, I suppose I didn't.  I was as mad as a wet hen, and there's no
mistake about that.  But, after all, what's the use?  I suppose we
could put up some sort of game on them, but I'm pretty sure Miss
Eleanor wouldn't like it."

"I think you're right," said Bessie.  "If we let them alone they'll get
tired of trying to do anything nasty to us.  You ought to have seen the
way they sneaked off when Miss Eleanor spoke to them this morning.
They acted just the way I've seen a dog do after it's been whipped."

"Oh, that's all right, too, Bessie," said Dolly.  "But that won't last.
They probably did feel pretty cheap at first, but when they've had a
chance to talk things over, they'll decide that they had the best of
us.  And I know how Gladys Cooper and the rest of the girls from home
will talk.  They'll tell about it all over town."

"Let them!" said Margery.  "I'm not going to do a thing.  And you can't
start a war all by yourself, Dolly.  If you try it you'll only get into
trouble, and be sorry."

"Oh, will I?" said Dolly, defiantly.  "Well, I'm not saying a word.
But if I see a good chance to get even with them, I'm going to do
it--and I won't ask for any help, either!  Just you wait!"

"Let's quit scrapping among ourselves, Dolly.  Wouldn't they just be
tickled to death if they knew we were doing that!  Nothing would please
them any better."

But even Margery's newly regained patience was to be sorely tried that
afternoon, when, after an early lunch, the Camp Fire Girls donned their
bathing dresses and went in swimming off the float in front of the
Worcester camp.

"Come on, Dolly," she cried.  "See that rock out there?  I'll race you
there and back!"

They went in together, diving so that their heads struck water at just
the same moment, while the rest of the girls watched them from the
float.  On the outward journey they were close together, but they had
not more than started back when there was a sudden outburst of laughter
from the float where Gladys Cooper and her friends were watching, and
the next moment a white streak shot through the water, making a
terrific din, and kicking up a tremendous lot of spray.

"Whatever is that?" cried Zara.

"A motor boat," said Mary King.  "Look at it go!  Why, what are they
trying to do?"

The answer to that question was made plain in a moment.  For the motor
boat, into which three or four of the girls from the next camp had
leaped, kept dashing back and forth between the float and the rock.  It
raised great waves as it passed, and made fast swimming, and for that
matter, swimming of any sort, almost impossible.  Moreover, it was
plain from the laughter of those on board that their only purpose was
to annoy the Camp Fire Girls and spoil their sport in the water.

Dolly and Margery, exhausted by their struggle with the waves from the
motor boat, struggled to the float as best they could and came up,
dripping and furious.

"See that!" cried Dolly.  "They can't be doing that for fun.  All they
want to do is to bother us.  You'd think we had tried to do something
mean to them the way they keep on nagging us."

"They certainly seem to be looking for trouble," said Margery, "But
let's try not to pay any attention to them, girls."

Margery knew that Eleanor Mercer expected her, so far as she could, to
help her on the rare occasions when it was necessary to keep the girls
in order, and she realized that she was facing a test of her temper and
of her ability to control others: She was anxious to become a Guardian
herself, and she now sternly fought down her inclination to agree with
Dolly that something should be done to take down the arrogant girls
from the next camp, who were so determined to drive them away.

"I shall have to speak to whoever is in charge of those girls," said
Eleanor.  "I'm quite sure that no teacher would permit such behavior,
but I can imagine that anyone who tried to control those girls would
have her hands full, too."

"You bet she would!" said Dolly.  "Miss Eleanor, isn't there some way
we can get even?"

Eleanor ignored the question.  All her sympathies were with Dolly, but
she really wanted to avoid trouble, although it was easy to see that
unless the other girls changed their tactics, trouble there was bound
to be.  So she tried to think of what to say to Dolly.

"Try to be patient, Dolly," she said, finally.  "Did you ever hear the
old saying that pride goes before a fall?  I've never known people to
act the way those girls are doing without being punished for it in some
fashion.  If we give them the chance, they'll do something sooner or
later that will get them into trouble.  And what we want to do, if we
can, is to remember that two wrongs don't make a right, and that for us
to let ourselves become revengeful won't help matters at all."

But for once Dolly did not seem disposed to take Miss Eleanor's advice
as she usually did.  Stealing a look at her chum's face, Bessie knew
that Dolly would not rest until she had worked some scheme of revenge,
and she felt that she couldn't blame Dolly, either.  She could never
remember being as angry as these rich, snobbish girls had made her.

Time and again,--every time, in fact, that any of the Camp Fire Girls
ventured into the water--the motor boat returned to the charge.  Their
afternoon's sport in the water, to which all the girls had looked
forward so eagerly, was completely spoiled, and the tormentors did not
refrain even when Miss Eleanor, who had intended to sit on the float
without swimming at all, challenged two or three of the girls to a
race.  She did that in the hope that the other girls might respect her,
but her hope was vain.

To be sure, Gladys Cooper seemed to be a little frightened at the idea
of bothering Miss Eleanor.

"Let's keep off until she's through," Bessie heard Gladys saying.
"That's Miss Mercer--she knows my mother.  We oughtn't to bother her.
She comes from one of the best families in town."

But Gladys was laughed down.

"She'll have to suffer for the company she keeps, then," said a big,
ugly-looking girl.  "Can't play favorites, Gladys!  We want to make
them see they're not wanted here.  My mother only let me come here
because we were told this was an exclusive place."

And Miss Eleanor, like the others, was soon forced to beat a retreat to
the float.  Dolly was strangely silent for the rest of the day.
Bessie, watching her anxiously, could tell that Dolly had some trick in
her mind, but, try as she would, she could not find out what her plan
was.

"No, I won't tell you, Bessie," said Dolly, when her chum finally asked
her point-blank what she meant to do.  "You're not a sneak, and I'm not
afraid of your telling on me, but you'll be happier if you don't know."

Bessie felt that whatever Dolly might try to do to the other girls
would serve them right, but she was worried about her chum.  And when
Dolly slipped off by herself after dinner, Bessie determined that she
would not let her chum run any risks alone, even if she was not a
sharer of Dolly's secret.

It was not a hard matter to trace Dolly, even though Bessie let her
have a good start before she followed.  She knew that any plan Dolly
had must involve going to the other camp, and she hid herself, moving
carefully so as to avoid detection, in a place that commanded the
approach.  And in a very abort time she heard Dolly coming; and saw
that she was carrying a large basket with the utmost care.



CHAPTER XIV

THE SPIRIT OF WO-HE-LO

Bessie stole along silently behind Dolly.  She wanted very much to say
something, but she was afraid of what might happen if she let Dolly
know that she was spying on her.  And she had made up her mind, anyhow,
that she would do more harm than good by interfering at this time.

Whatever it was she was doing might be wrong, but, after all, she had a
good deal of provocation, and she had been far more patient already
than anyone who knew her would have expected her to be.

"I bet they're just trying to work her up to trying to get even,"
Bessie reflected to herself.  "Gladys Cooper knows her, so she must
know what a temper Dolly has, and she must be surprised to think that
she hasn't managed to arouse her yet."

That thought made Bessie gladder than ever that she had decided to
follow Dolly.  While she was not in the plot herself, she meant to be
in it if Dolly got into trouble, or if, as Bessie half feared, it
turned out that her chum was walking into a trap.  Moreover, she was
entirely ready to take her share of the blame, if there was to be any
blame, and to let others believe that she had shared Dolly's secret
from the first and had deliberately taken part in the plot.

Dolly's movements were puzzling.  Bessie had expected her to go to the
back of the camp, and when she heard laughter and the sound of loud
talking coming from the boathouse, which was, of course, on the very
shore of the lake, Bessie breathed a sigh of relief, since it seemed to
her that the fact that the other girls were there would greatly
increase Dolly's chance of escaping detection.

But instead of taking advantage of what Bessie regarded as a great
piece of luck, Dolly paused to listen to the sounds from the boathouse,
and then turned calmly and walked in its direction.

For a moment an unworthy suspicion crossed Bessie's mind.

"I wonder if she can be going to see them--to make up with them?"
Bessie asked herself.

But she answered her own question with an emphatic no almost as soon as
she had asked it.  Dolly's anger the night before and that afternoon
had not been feigned.

As she neared the boathouse, Dolly moved very cautiously.  Even though
she could see her, Bessie could not hear her, and she even had
difficulty in following Dolly's movements, for she had put on a dark
coat, and was an inconspicuous object in the darkness.

From the boathouse there now came the sound of music; a phonograph had
been started, and it was plain from the shuffling of feet that the
girls inside were dancing.  Dolly crept closer and closer, until she
reached one of the windows.  Even as she did it a sharp, shrill voice
cried out, and Bessie saw someone rush toward her from the darkness of
a clump of trees near the boathouse.  It was a trap, after all!  Bessie
rushed forward, but before she had taken more than a couple of steps,
and before, indeed, her assailant could reach her, Dolly had
accomplished her purpose.

Still running, Bessie saw her lift the basket she carried, and throw it
point-blank through the window, first taking off the cover.  And then
the noise of the phonograph, the shout of Dolly's assailant, and all
the noises about the place were drowned in a chorus of shrill screams
of terror from inside the boathouse.

Bessie had never heard such a din.  For the life of her she could not
guess what Dolly had done to produce such an effect, and she did not
stop to try.  For the girl who had seen Dolly and rushed toward her,
although too late to stop her, had caught hold of Dolly and was
struggling to hold her.

Bessie rushed at her, however, and, so unexpected was her coming, that
the other girl let go of Dolly and turned to grapple with the rescuer.
That was just what Bessie wanted.  With a quick, twisting motion she
slipped out of the other girl's grip, and the next moment she was
running as hard as she could to the back of the camp, where, if she
could only get a good start, she would find herself in thick woods and
so safe from pursuit.

She knew Dolly had recognized her at once.  But neither had called the
other's name, since that would enable whoever heard them to know which
of the Camp Fire Girls was responsible for this sudden attack.

As she ran Bessie could bear Dolly in front of her, and she knew that
Dolly must be able to hear her.  Otherwise she was sure her chum would
have turned back to rescue her.  Behind her the screams of the
frightened girls from the boathouse were still rising, but when Bessie
stopped in ten minutes, she could hear no signs of pursuit.

"Dolly!" she cried.  "It's all right to stop now.  They're not chasing
us any more."

Dolly stopped and waited for her, and when she came up Bessie saw at
once that Dolly was angry--and at her.

"Much good it did you to try to stop me, didn't it?" said Dolly,
viciously.  "You got there too late!"

"I didn't try to stop you, and I was right behind you all the time!"
said Bessie, angrily.  "I was behind you so that if you got into any
trouble I'd be there to help you--and I was.  You're very grateful,
aren't you?"

"Oh, Bessie, I am sorry!  I might have known you wouldn't do anything
sneaky.  And you certainly did help me!  I was going to thank you for
that anyhow, as soon as I'd scolded you.  But I knew you didn't want to
try to get even with them, and I supposed, of course, that you were
there to stop me."

Suddenly she began to laugh, and sat down weakly on the ground.

"Did you hear them yell?" she gasped.  "Listen to them!  They're still
at it!"

"Whatever did you do to them, Dolly?  I never heard such a noise in my
life!  You'd think they really had something to be afraid of."

"Yes, wouldn't you?  Instead of just a basket full of poor, innocent
little mice that were a lot more frightened than they were!"

"Dolly Ransom!" gasped Bessie.  "Do you mean to say that's what you
did?"

Bessie tried hard to be shocked, but the fun of it overcame her of a
sudden, and she joined Dolly on the ground, while they clung to one
another and rocked with laughter.

"I wasn't able to stop and watch them.  That's all I'm sorry for now,"
said Dolly, weakly.  "But hearing them was pretty nearly as fine,
wasn't it?"

"Never heard of such a thing to do!" panted Bessie.  "However did you
manage it, Dolly?  Where did you get the mice?"

"Promise not to tell, Bessie?  I can't get anyone else into trouble,
you know."

Bessie nodded.

"It was the guide--the Worcester's guide.  He's just as mad at them as
we are.  It seems they've bothered him a lot, anyhow, and he didn't
like them even before we came.  He suggested the whole thing, and he
was willing to do it.  But I told him it was our quarrel, and that it
was up to one of us to do it if he would get the mice.  So he did, and
put them in that basket for me.  The rest of it was easy."

"They'll be perfectly wild, Dolly.  I bet they'll be over at the camp
complaining when we get back."

"Let them complain!  It won't do them much good!  Miss Eleanor is going
to give me beans for doing it, but she won't let them know it!  I know
her, and she won't really be half as angry as she'll pretend to be."

"It was a wild thing to do, Dolly."

"I suppose it was, but did you think I was going to let Gladys Cooper
tell all over town how they treated us?  She'll have something to tell
this time."

"Well, you got even, Dolly.  There's no doubt of that.  We'd better
hurry back now, don't you think?  They're quieter down there."

"I'm going to tell Miss Eleanor what I did just as soon as I see her,"
said Dolly.  "She'd find out that it happened sooner or later, and I'm
not ashamed of having done it, either.  I'd do the same thing to-morrow
if I had as good a reason!"

And, sure enough, as soon as they reached the camp, Dolly marched up to
Miss Eleanor, who was sitting by herself on the porch, and told her the
whole story.

"And was Bessie in this too?" asked Eleanor, trying to look stern, but
failing.

"No, she was not.  She didn't know what I was going to do at all.  She
just followed to see that I didn't get into any trouble.  And I'd have
been caught if she hadn't been there."

"I--I'm sorry you did it, Dolly," said Eleanor, almost hysterically.
She was trying to suppress the laughter that she was shaking with, but
it was hard work.  "Still, I don't believe I'll scold you very much.
Now you've got even with them for all the things they've done--more
than even, if the screams I heard mean anything.  We didn't know what
was up."

"Not exactly _what_ was up," said Margery, who had overheard part of
the conversation, "but we knew who was up as soon as we found you were
gone, Dolly."

Margery looked at Miss Eleanor, then she choked, and left the porch
hurriedly.  And the next moment roars of laughter came from the other
girls, as Margery told them the story.

"But I'm glad you've told me all about it, Dolly," said Eleanor.  "I
don't mind saying that I think you had a good deal of excuse--but do
try to let things work out by themselves after this.  The chances are
you've only made them hate us more than ever, and they will feel that
it's a point of honor now to get even with us for this.  All the girls
will have to suffer for what you did."

Even as she spoke, Bessie saw two or three figures approaching from the
direction of the other camp, and a shrill voice was raised.

"There she is, Miss Brown.  She's the one who's supposed to look after
them."

Gladys Cooper was the speaker, but as soon as she saw Eleanor look
around she dropped back, leaving a woman whose manner was timid and
nervous, and whose voice showed that she had little spirit, to advance
alone.

"Miss Mercer?" she said, inquiringly, to Eleanor.  "I am Miss Brown,
and I have been left in charge of Miss Halsted's Camp this summer while
she is away.  She is ill.  I am one of the teachers in her school--"

"Sit down, Miss Brown," said Eleanor, kindly.  One look at poor Miss
Brown explained the conduct of the girls in her care.  She was one of
those timid, nervous women who can never be expected to control anyone,
much less a group of healthy, mischievous girls in need of a strong,
restraining hand.

"I'm--really very sorry--I don't like--but I feel it is my duty--to
speak to you, Miss Mercer," stammered Miss Brown.  "The fact is--the
young ladies seem to think it was one of your Camp Fire Girls who let
loose a--number of mice in our boathouse this evening."

"I'm afraid it was, Miss Brown," said Eleanor, gravely.  "And I need
hardly say that I regret it.  I naturally do not approve of anything of
the sort.  But your girls have themselves to blame to a certain extent."

"Why, I don't see how that can be!" said Miss Brown, looking bewildered.

"Now, Miss Brown, honestly, and just between us, haven't they made your
life a burden for you ever since you've been here with them alone?  Let
me tell you what they've done since we've been here."

And calmly and without anger, Eleanor told the teacher of the various
methods of making themselves unpleasant that the girls in the camp had
adopted since the coming of the Camp Fire Girls.  She raised her voice
purposely when she came to the end.

"Now, mind, I don't approve of this joke with the mice," she said.
"But I do think it would be more plucky if your girls, after starting
all the trouble and making themselves as hateful as they possibly
could, had kept quiet when the tables were turned.  When they worried
us, we didn't go over to make a complaint about them.  I must say I am
disappointed in those of your girls whom I happen to know, like Gladys
Cooper.  I thought she was a lady."

There was a furious cry from the darkness beyond the porch, and the
next instant Gladys herself was in front of Eleanor, with tears of rage
in her eyes.

"You shan't say I'm not a lady," she cried.  "I don't care if you are
Miss Mercer!  We don't want your horrid charity girls up here, and we
tried to make them understand it--"

"Stop!" said Eleanor, sternly.  "Listen to me, Gladys!  I like your
mother, and I'm sorry to see you acting in such a way.  What do you
mean by charity girls?"

"They haven't got the money to come up here," stammered Gladys.

"It hasn't been given to them, if you mean that," said Eleanor.  "We
don't believe in idle, useless girls in the Camp Fire.  And every girl
here, even those like Dolly Ransom, who could have got the money at
home very easily, have earned all their expenses for this vacation,
except two who didn't have time, and are here as my guests.  Don't talk
about charity.  They have a better right to be here than you have.  Now
go away, and if you don't want to have unpleasant things happen to you,
don't do unpleasant things to other people."

Quite cowed by the sudden anger in Eleanor's voice, Gladys didn't
hesitate.  And Miss Brown, before she left the porch, looked wistfully
at Eleanor.

"I wish I had your courage, my dear," she whispered.  "That served
Gladys right, but if I spoke so to her, I should lose my position."

"Well, I suppose it wasn't a nice thing to do," said Dolly, as she and
Bessie prepared for bed that night.  "But I really do think we won't
have any more trouble.  I think Gladys and the rest of them have
learned a lesson."

"I hope so, Dolly," said Bessie.  "I wouldn't have done it myself, but
I really am beginning to think that maybe it was the best thing that
could have happened.  Thunderstorms clear the air sometimes; perhaps
this will have the same effect."

It was well after midnight when the girls were awakened by loud
knocking below.

"Oh, that's some trick of theirs," said Dolly, sleepily, and turned
over again.

But a few minutes later Eleanor's voice, calling them, took them
downstairs in a hurry.  They found her talking to Miss Brown, who was
in tears.

"Girls," said Eleanor, "Gladys Cooper and another girl are lost, and
they must be out on the mountain.  It's turned very cold.  Shall we
help find them?  We haven't been friends, but remember what Wo-he-lo
means!"



CHAPTER XV

COALS OF FIRE

There wasn't a single dissenting voice.  Once they knew what was
required, the girls rushed at once to their rooms to dress, and within
ten minutes they were all assembled on the porch.  Mingled with them
were most of the girls from Miss Halsted's camp, thoroughly frightened
and much distressed, and evidently entirely forgetful of the trouble
that had existed as late as that evening between the two camps.

"Now, I'll tell you very quickly what the situation is," said Eleanor.
"Don't mind asking questions, but make them short.  It seems that some
of the other girls over there were angry at Gladys when they got back
there after Miss Brown came here to see me.  And they told her she had
been wrong in setting them against us."

"I knew she was the one who had done it!" Dolly whispered to Bessie.

"She and one other girl, Marcia Bates, were great chums, and they got
angry.  They said they wouldn't stay to be abused--isn't that right,
Miss Brown?--and they decided to go for a walk in the woods back of the
lake here."

"They've often done it before," said Miss Brown.  "I thought it was all
right and they would have gone, anyhow, even if I'd told them not to do
it."

"When they started," Eleanor went on, "the moon was up, and there were
plenty of stars, so that they should have been able to find their way
back easily, guided by the moon or by the Big Bear--the Dipper.  But
it's clouded up since then and it's begun to rain.  The wind has
changed, too, and they might easily have lost themselves."

"Wouldn't they be on a regular trail?" asked Margery Burton.

"There aren't any regular trails back here," spoke up one of the girls
from the Halsted camp.  "There are just a lot of little paths that
criss-cross back and forth, and keep on getting mixed up.  It's hard
enough to find your way in daylight."

"They have sent for guides from the big hotel at the head of the lake,"
said Eleanor.  "They will get here as soon as they can, and a few men
are out searching already.  But I think the best thing for us to do is
to organize a regular patrol.  We'll beat up the mountain quickly, and
pretty well together, in a long line, so that there won't be more than
a hundred feet between any two of us.  Then when we get to the ridge
about half way up we'll start back, and cover the ground more
carefully, if we haven't found them."

"Why won't we go beyond the ridge?" asked Dolly.

"We'll leave that part to the men.  I think myself that it's most
unlikely they would go beyond that.  I've had our guides here make up a
whole lot of resinous torches.  They'll burn very brightly, and for a
long time, and each of us will take as many as she can carry, about
fifteen or twenty.

"And I've made up a lot of little first-aid packages, in case one of
the girls is hurt, or has twisted her ankle.  That may be the reason
they're out so late.  When we start to come back we'll break up in
twos, and each pair will go back and forth, instead of coming straight
down, so that we'll cover the whole side of the mountain."

"How shall we know if we find them?" asked Bessie.  "I mean how will
the others know?"

"I've got one horn for every two of us," said Eleanor.  "One toot won't
mean anything, just that we're keeping in touch.  But whoever finds
them is to blow five or six times, very close together.  It's very
still in the woods, and a signal like that can be heard even when
you're a long way from it."

"Can't some of us go and help, Miss Mercer?" asked one of the Halsted
girls, the one, incidentally, who had been the ruling spirit in the
trick to spoil the pleasures of swimming for the Camp Fire Girls.

"I think you better stay at home, and get a lot of good hot coffee or
broth or something ready for them when they get back," said Eleanor.
"They'll need something of the sort, I can promise you.  And really,
I'm afraid you'd be rather useless in the woods.  Our girls, you see,
have to be able to find their way pretty well.  You'll be more useful
at home."

"I don't expect to find them on the way up," said Eleanor, as they
started.  "We might, of course, but we'll look better coming back, and
it's then that I think we'll have the best chance.  Come on, now!
Shout every little while."

The night was pitch black now.  A fine mist of rain was falling and
threatening to become a steady downpour.  It was a bad night for
anyone, even those who were hardened, to be out in the woods without
shelter or special covering, and it was about as bad as it could be for
girls who were not at all used to even the slightest exposure.

Eleanor's face was very grave, and she looked exceedingly worried as
she crossed back and forth in front of the line of Camp Fire Girls,
lifting her own voice in shouts to the lost ones, and giving hints here
and there for the more important homeward journey.

The trip up the mountain produced no results.  The rain was falling
more heavily, and, moreover, the wind was rising.  It blew hard through
the trees and the silence of the woods that Eleanor had spoken of was a
thing of the past.  The wind sighed and groaned, and Eleanor grew more
and more worried.

"We've got to search just as carefully as we can," she said.  "We
mustn't leave any part of this ground uncovered.  With all the noise
the wind is making, we might easily pass within a few feet of them and
shout at the top of our lungs without them hearing us.  It is going to
be even harder to find them than I feared, but we have just got to do
the best we can."

At the top of the ridge of which she had spoken, Eleanor marshalled her
forces.  She told them off two by two, and Bessie and Dolly were
assigned to work together.

"I'm going to cover the whole ground, and keep in touch with all of
you," she said.  "Keep blowing your horns, there's more chance that
they will be heard.  You all have your pocket compasses and plenty of
matches, haven't you?  I don't want any of my own girls to be lost."

"All right," she said, when they had all answered.  "Now I want each of
you to take a strip about six yards wide as we go down, and just walk
back and forth across it.  If you come to any gullies or holes where
they might have fallen down be particularly careful.  Light your
torches, and look into them.  Don't pay attention to the paths or
trails, just cover the ground."

"Oh, I do hope we can find them!" said Bessie, as they started.  "I'd
hate to think of their being out here all night on a night like this."

"Yes, and in a way it's really my fault," said Dolly, remorsefully.

"Why, Dolly, how can you think that?"

"It was because Gladys quarrelled with the rest of them that she went
out.  And if I hadn't thrown those mice in at them there wouldn't have
been any quarrel.  Don't you see?"

"I think it's silly to blame yourself, though, Dolly.  She might have
gone out just the same, anyhow."

"Well, I'll never forgive myself if anything happens to them, Bessie.
I might have kept my temper, the way you and Margery did.  They didn't
do any more to me than they did to the rest of you.  Oh, I am sorry,
and I am going to try to control myself better after this."

Then they went on in silence for a time.  Bessie felt sorry for Dolly,
and she really did think that Dolly's conscience, now that it was
beginning to awaken, was doing more than its share.  It was unlike the
care-free Dolly to worry about anything she had done, but it was like
her, too, to accuse herself unsparingly once she began to realize that
she might possibly be in the wrong.  It was Dolly's old misfortune that
was grieving her now; her inability to forecast consequences before
they came along to confound her.

For a long time they had no results, and the blowing of horns and the
occasional flash of a torch between the trees showed them that the
others were meeting with no better success.  Sometimes, too, Eleanor
joined them for a moment.  She could tell them nothing, and they
continued to search with unabated vigor.

"Look, Bessie!" said Dolly, suddenly.  She had lighted a torch to
explore a gully a few moments before, and it was still burning
brightly.  Now it showed them the opening of what looked like a cave,
black and dismal looking.

"Why, do you think they might be in there?" asked Bessie.  "I'll blow
my horn in the mouth.  They'd hear that, and come out."

But blow as hard as she would, there was no answer.  She turned away in
disappointment.

"I'm afraid they're not there," she said.

"I'm going in to find out," said Dolly, suddenly.  "They might not have
heard us.  You can't tell what that horn would sound like in there; it
might not make any noise at all."

"Oh, I don't believe they're in there," said Bessie.  "And I think it
might be dangerous.  There might be snakes there, or a hole you would
fall into, Dolly."

"I don't care!  This is all my fault, and I'm going!"

And without another word, she plunged into the dark entrance.  Bessie
tried to call her back, but Dolly paid no heed.  And in a moment, first
leaving behind signs of their having gone in, Bessie followed her,
lighting another torch.  She had not gone far when she heard a happy
cry from Dolly.

"Here they are!  I've found them!" Dolly shouted.  "They're sound
asleep, and I don't believe there's a thing the matter with them!"

Nor was there.  Both the lost girls slept soundly, and when Gladys
finally woke up, blinking at the light of the torches, she looked
indignantly at Dolly.

"You're a sneak, Dolly Ransom!" she said.  "I should think you would
want to stay with your own sort of people--"

But Dolly was too happy at finding the pair of strays to care what
Gladys said to her.

"Oh, come off, Gladys!" she said.  "I suppose you don't know that
you're lost, and that half the people around the lake are out looking
for you?  Come on!  You'll catch a frightful cold lying here with those
thin dresses on.  Hurry, now!"

And finally she managed to arouse them enough to make them understand
the situation.  Even then, however, Gladys was sullen.

"That's that silly old Miss Brown," she said.  "It's just like her to
go running off to your crowd for help, Dolly.  I suppose we ought to be
grateful, but we'd have been all right there until morning."

Dolly didn't care to argue the matter.  Her one thought now was to get
outside of the cave and send out by means of the horns the glad news
that the lost ones were found.  In a few moments she and Bessie,
blowing with all their might, announced the good tidings.

"Now you two will just walk as fast as you can, so that you can get
into bed and have something warm inside of you.  I'll be pretty mad if
you get pneumonia and die after all the trouble we've taken to save
you!" she said, laughing.

Gladys wasn't in any mood, it seemed, to appreciate a joke.  As a
matter of fact, both she and Marcia Bates had awakened stiff from the
cold, and though she wouldn't admit it she was very glad of the
prospect of a warm and comfortable bed.

And when the searchers and the rescued ones reached the Halsted Camp,
Gladys wasn't left long in doubt as to the fate of the vendetta she had
declared against the Camp Fire Girls.  For, even while she was being
put to bed, she could hear the cheers that were being given by her own
chums for the girls she had tried to make them despise.

"Oh, Miss Mercer, I think you and the Camp Fire Girls are splendid!"
said Emily Turner, the big girl who had been the ringleader of the
tricks with the motor boat.  "You're going to stay here quite a while,
aren't you?"

"No," said Eleanor, regretfully.  "It was only the fire that made us
stay here as long as we have.  Now this wind and rain have ended that,
and we'll go on as soon as the storm is over; day after to-morrow, if
it clears up to-morrow, so that it will be dry when we start."

"Well, I hope we'll see you again--all of you," said Emily.  "Come on,
girls, let's give the school cheer for the Manasquan Camp Fire!"

They gave it with a will and then Dolly sprang to her feet.

"Now, then, the Wo-he-lo cheer!" she called.

They sang it happily, and then, as they moved toward their own camp,
their voices rose in the good-night song of the Camp Fire: _Lay me to
sleep in sheltering flame_.

"I believe Miss Eleanor was right, after all," said Bessie.  "Those
girls really like us now."

"All but Gladys Cooper," said Dolly.  "But then she doesn't know any
better.  And she'll learn."



SUMMER SNOW

AND

OTHER FAIRY PLAYS

By GRACE RICHARDSON

Finding there is a wide demand for plays which commend themselves to
amateurs and to casts comprised largely of children, Miss Richardson,
already well and widely known, has here given four plays which are
unusually clever and fill this need.  They call for but little stage
setting, and that of the simplest kind, are suited to presentation the
year around, and can be effectively produced by amateurs without
difficulty.



PUCK IN PETTICOATS

By GRACE RICHARDSON

Five plays about children, for children to play--Hansel and Gretel, The
Wishing Well, The King of Salt, The Moon Dream, and Puck in Petticoats.
Each is accompanied by stage directions, property plots and other
helpful suggestions for acting.  Some of the plays take but twenty
minutes, others as long as an hour to produce, and every one of the
five are clever.



HANDY BOOK OF PLAYS FOR GIRLS

By DOROTHY CLEATHER

Not one of the six sparkling plays between these covers calls for a
male character, being designed for the use of casts of girls only.
They are easily, effectively staged--just the sort that girls like to
play and that enthusiastic audiences heartily enjoy.



FICTION FOR GIRLS


BETTY, The SCRIBE

By LILIAN TURNER

Drawings by KATHARINE HAYWARD GREENLAND

Betty is a brilliant, talented, impulsive seventeen-year-old girl, who
is suddenly required to fill her mother's place at the head of a
household, with a literary, impractical father to manage.

Betty writes, too, and every time she mounts her Pegasus disaster
follows for home duties are neglected.  Learning of one of these
lapses, her elder sister comes home.  Betty storms and refuses to share
the honors until she remembers that this means long hours free to
devote to her beloved pen.  She finally moves to the city to begin her
career in earnest, and then--well, then comes the story.

"Miss Turner is Miss Alcott's true successor.  The same healthy,
spirited tone is visible which boys and girls recognized in LITTLE MEN
and LITTLE WOMEN."--The Bookman.



Elizabeth Hobart at Exeter Hall

By JEAN K. BAIRD

Illustrated by R. G. VOSBURGH

A spirited story of every-day boarding-school life that girls like to
read.  Full of good times and girlish fun.

Elizabeth enters the school and loses no time in becoming one of the
leading spirits.  She entertains at a midnight spread, which is
recklessly conducted under the very nose of the preceptress, who is
"scalped" in order to be harmless, for every one knows she would never
venture out minus her front hair; she champions an ostracized student;
and leads in a daring plan to put to rout the Seniors' program for
class day.



The Saalfield Publishing Co., AKRON, OHIO


THE BRADEN BOOKS


FAR PAST THE FRONTIER

By JAMES A. BRADEN

The sub-title "Two Boy Pioneers" indicates the nature of this
story--that it has to do with the days when the Ohio Valley and the
Northwest country were sparsely settled.  Such a topic is an unfailing
fund of interest to boys, especially when involving a couple of
stalwart young men who leave the East to make their fortunes and to
incur untold dangers.

"Strong, vigorous, healthy, manly."--Seattle Times.



CONNECTICUT BOYS IN THE WESTERN RESERVE

By JAMES A. BRADEN

The author once more sends his heroes toward the setting sun.  "In all
the glowing enthusiasm at youth, the youngsters seek their fortunes in
the great, fertile wilderness of northern Ohio, and eventually achieve
fair success, though their progress is hindered and sometimes halted by
adventures innumerable.  It is a lively, wholesome tale, never dull,
and absorbing in interest for boys who love the fabled life of the
frontier."--Chicago Tribune.



THE TRAIL OF THE SENECA

By JAMES A. BRADEN

In which we follow the romantic careers of John Jerome and Return
Kingdom a little farther.

These two self-reliant boys are living peaceably in their cabin on the
Cuyahoga when an Indian warrior is found dead in the woods nearby.  The
Seneca accuses John of witchcraft.  This means death at the stake if he
is captured.  They decide that the Seneca's charge is made to shield
himself, and set out to prove it.  Mad Anthony, then on the Ohio, comes
to their aid, but all their efforts prove futile and the lone cabin is
found in ashes on their return.



CAPTIVES THREE

By JAMES A. BRADEN

A tale of frontier life, and how three children--two boys and a
girl--attempt to reach the settlements in a canoe, but are captured by
the Indians.  A common enough occurrence in the days of our
great-grandfathers has been woven into a thrilling story.



The Saalfield Publishing Co., AKRON, OHIO



MARY A. BYRNE'S BOOKS


THE FAIRY CHASER

"Telling of two boys who go into the vegetable and flower-raising
business instead of humdrum commercial pursuits.  The characters and
situations are realistic."--PHILADELPHIA TELEGRAPH.


LITTLE DAME TROT

One of the most pleasing of juveniles, made pathetic by the strength
with which the author pictures the central figure, a little girl made
miserable by her mother's strict adherence to a pet "method" of
training.


THE LITTLE WOMAN IN THE SPOUT

"This pleasing story may have been developed from real life, from real
children, so true a picture does it portray of girlish life and
sports."--GRAND RAPIDS HERALD.


ROY AND ROSYROCKS

A glowing Christmas tale, fresh and natural in situations, that will
interest both boys and girls.

It tells how two poor children anticipate the joys of the holiday, and
how heartily they enter into doing their part to make the day merry for
themselves and others.


PEGGY-ALONE

The chronicles of the Happy-Go-Luckys, a crowd of girls who did not
depend upon riches for good times.  This club was very stretchible as
to membership, so they elected Peggy-Alone from pity of her loneliness.
Freed from governess, nurse and solicitous mother, she has the jolliest
summer of her life.

Illustrated by Anna B. Craig



The Saalfield Publishing Co., AKRON, OHIO



THE BILLY WHISKERS SERIES

BY

FRANCES TREGO MONTGOMERY

Billy Whiskers--frolicsome, mischief-making, adventure-loving, Billy
Whiskers--is the friend of every boy and girl the country over, and the
things that happen to this wonderful goat and his numerous animal
friends make the best sort of reading for them.

As one reviewer aptly puts it, these stories are "just full of fun and
good times," for Mrs. Montgomery, the author of them, has the happy
faculty of knowing what the small boy and his sister like in the way of
fiction.


TITLES

  BILLY WHISKERS
  BILLY WHISKERS' KIDS
  BILLY WHISKERS, JR.
  BILLY WHISKERS' TRAVELS
  BILLY WHISKERS AT THE CIRCUS
  BILLY WHISKERS AT THE FAIR
  BILLY WHISKERS' FRIENDS
  BILLY WHISKERS, JR. AND HIS CHUMS
  BILLY WHISKERS' GRANDCHILDREN
  BILLY WHISKERS' VACATION
  BILLY WHISKERS KIDNAPED
  BILLY WHISKERS' TWINS
  BILLY WHISKERS IN AN AEROPLANE
  BILLY WHISKERS IN TOWN
  BILLY WHISKERS IN PANAMA



The Saalfield Publishing Co., AKRON, OHIO



THE BETTY BOOKS

By ALICE HALE BURNETT

(For Girls 8 to 10 years old)


Four very interesting stories, each complete in itself, relating the
many doings of Betty and her friends.  The characters are _real_ girls
and a happy, healthful tone lends the books additional charm.


Betty and Her Chums

Amy and Louise visit Betty and the three girls spend a happy summer
together.  A picnic supper on the mountain-top, at sunset, furnishes
much pleasurable excitement for a large party of girls and boys.


Betty's Attic Theatre

With the help of their friends, Betty, Amy and Louise give a play which
is full of laughable mishaps.  They have lots of fun getting ready for
the great event and it is voted a huge success.


Betty's Carnival

The girls gave an affair for the benefit of the Fresh Air Fund.
Decorated floats sent down the river and viewed by the audience seated
on the shore.  A lemonade and cake booth also help to make the affair a
most enjoyable one.


Betty's Orphans

Betty and her two chums entertain three little orphans at her country
home.  The city waifs find much to surprise and amuse them and to their
great joy all of them are finally adopted in pleasant homes.


Illustrations in Color.



The Saalfield Publishing Co., Akron, Ohio





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